Tag Archive: Retro Fix


Review by C.J. Bunce

Not many books give you goosebumps as they take you back to a moment in time.  How do you create not only a new game, but a new industry?  Your next time travel adventure needs to be Arjan Terpstra and Tim Lapetino’s giant look back at not only Pac-Man but the rise of video games.  It’s Pac-Man: Birth of an Icon, simply an incredible, deep dive into the development of the video game and all its incarnations from its beginnings as Puck-Man, almost called Paku-emon (sound familiar?).  From development via pinball, coin-op, and theme park companies Namco, Bally, and Midway (and side-dances with Atari), fans of 1970s and 1980s nostalgia will see how a few key players in Japan created Pac-Man, and even more around the world expanded it into an icon–all out of 111 yellow flashes of light on a computer screen.  The giant book is full of vintage photographs, marketing materials, corporate and engineering design notes, and much more.  Pac-Man: Birth of an Icon might be the best video game history yet, and it’s now available here at Amazon.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The first virtual reality movie?  It’s innovative and brilliant, and showed that Robert Montgomery the actor also had the talent to be a director as much a visionary as Alfred Hitchcock.  The film is his 1946 film noir Lady in the Lake, an experimental movie years ahead of its time, and much more than an adaptation of another Raymond Chandler novel featuring detective Philip Marlowe.   It’s a great story, elevated by unusual direction and a cast of actors tasked with doing something no one had quite done this way before–react and act entirely toward the audience in the place of the protagonist and the film’s point of view.

It’s about murder, and it takes place at Christmas, and the entire film from beginning to end is wrapped up in a bow like your very own Christmas present, available now to stream at Vudu, or here at Amazon on Prime Video or DVD.  If you haven’t seen it, give it a viewing this weekend and you might just see it as the next best Christmas movie of its type since Die Hard, although since it predates Die Hard by four decades you’ll want to flip that thought around.  Along with the requisite noir tropes, Lady in the Lake has visual effects and story surprises at every turn.  It’s pure cinema gold.

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Mandalorian phase 2

The Star Wars vintage Kenner action figures changed toys and franchising forever.  Sales of this line were so successful that it’s no surprise the fan nostalgia for these 3.75-inch figures in new packages is still as great as ever, 44 years after their first appearance in a pre-order campaign for Christmas 1977.  Disney knows what its fans want, and so they assembled two takes on a action figures for the Disney+ series The Mandalorian–one with modern molds and articulation in vintage packaging, and the other with retro, classic Kenner style molds and articulation, housed in classic, mock-distressed packaging–plus original-style vinyl capes.  Wave I of this line included IG-11, Moff Gideon, Cara Dune, Greef Karga, Kuiil, “Baby Yoda,” and Din Djarin, the man behind the mask.  That complete set is shipping now at Entertainment Earth and Amazon.  The next wave in the Retro line has just been previewed by Entertainment Earth, who is now accepting pre-orders here.  It’s an equally good line of figures, this time from Season 2, including one of the most collected figures of the original Kenner line, as well as rebooted lines in the 1990s and 2000s: Boba Fett.  It also features Bo-Katan Kryze, Ahsoka Tano, a second season Din aka Mandalorian, The Armorer, and an Imperial Death Trooper.  Check out the new sculpts, accessories, and packaging below.

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joe angle banner 2x

Normally this would be the kind of news you’d find at San Diego Comic-Con, which was canceled this year again because of the pandemic.  Hasbro is farming out to action figure and pop culture collectible company Super7 to deliver two new action figure lines, rebooting the classic small-scale action figures based on the 1980s G.I. Joe animated series.  One line will he a step down from the original articulated figures from the 1980s, and the other will be a step up.  The step up is the Ultimates line, articulated 7-inch scale figures with extra arms, heads, and a variety of other accessories.  The step down is the Kenner-style 3.75-inch ReAction line, with less articulation than the original line, but with more series-accurate designs and still more variety–including new figures–to come.

The first wave of G.I. Joe ReAction figures includes Snake Eyes, Scarlett, Baroness, Cobra Commander, Destro, Kwinn, G.I. Joe infantry (in three skin colors), and Cobra Troopers (in three skin colors and two costume styles)–for 15 variants in all.  The first Ultimates wave includes four figures–Duke, Snake Eyes, Cobra Commander, and the Cobra Battle Android Trooper (BAT).  These are in addition to the new -inch and 12-inch figures that are tie-ins to the coming Snake Eyes: G.I. Joes Origins movie (check those out here).

joe 2  joe 1

See detailed views of each figure below.  You can order the Ultimates line now and pre-order all the ReAction figures from the first wave via the above links.

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Munsters banner

The Munsters have arrived in collectible toy lines before, but none who could hang out at the Death Star or Mos Eisley cantina and mingle one on one with your other action figures.  So it’s kind of a big deal for the 1964-1966 classic horror comedy series to be getting its Kenner-scale debut this month from toymaker Super7 and its ReAction line.  How would you design a line of figures from this famous monster family?  All black and white?  Grey tone?  The new sculpts and packaging seem to be the best of both worlds, providing a bright yet spooky look, along with some fun, displayable packaging.  We first previewed the prototypes of the new figures (shown below) here at borg in February 2020 before the world ground to a halt.  Note that the packaging art has been updated. 

Check out the final designs below.  You also can order all three figures from the new line via the below links.

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Jaxxon fig A  Jaxxon fig B

The Star Wars vintage Kenner action figures changed toys and franchising forever.  Sales of this line were so successful that it’s no surprise the fan nostalgia for these 3.75-inch figures in new packages is still as great as ever, 44 years after their first appearance in a pre-order campaign for Christmas 1977.  Disney’s line of six-inch “Black Series” has quickly caught up to the original line of characters, with new sculpts and more articulation, including even more characters from the Expanded Universe.  At last fans of the original Star Wars comics published by Marvel Comics in the 1970s and 1980s get to see one of the most beloved of all the characters we haven’t yet seen on the big or small screen (but we’re still hoping for that soon): Jaxxon, the six-foot tall Lepi mercenary smuggler from Star Wars Issue #8, Eight for Aduba-3, the Seven Samurai adaptation where we first met the angry talking rabbit and his ship, the Rabbit’s Foot.  

Jaxxon

Jaxxon stayed around for the next three issues and returned for the first appearance of the borg Valance.  Our first real hope of seeing Jaxxon in Star Wars canon was in a variant cover for the rebooted Marvel Comics Star Wars series in 2015, then he re-appeared in the retro Star Wars Issue #108 in 2019, and again for Vader Down.  And this weekend for the first time you can pre-order Jaxxon’s first action figure here from Entertainment Earth.

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The Star Wars vintage Kenner action figures changed toys and franchising forever.  Sales of this line were so successful that it’s no surprise the fan nostalgia for these 3.75-inch figures in new packages is still as great as ever, 43 years after their first appearance in a pre-order campaign for Christmas 1977.  Disney knows what its fans want, and so they have assembled two takes on a new round of action figures for the Disney+ series The Mandalorian–one with modern molds and articulation in vintage packaging, and the other with retro, classic Kenner style molds and articulation, housed in classic, mock-distressed packaging–plus original-style vinyl capes!  IG-11, Moff Gideon, Cara Dune, Greef Karga, Kuiil, “Baby Yoda,” and Din Djarin, the man behind the mask.  You can pre-order them now at Entertainment Earth and Amazon.  Check them out:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

So often big budget dramas dressed in sci-fi dress rise up the box office rankings, you might miss the best films, the ones that don’t need the big budgets or major stars, the refreshing sleepers that surprise you.  One of those great surprises was Midnight Special, which I reviewed here at borg back in 2016.  The next spectacular science fiction work is even better–The Vast of Night–the brainchild of writer-director-producer-editor Andrew Patterson (who is billed under multiple names), now streaming on Amazon Prime.  Could this freshman filmmaker be the next J.J. Abrams, John Carpenter, or Steven Spielberg?  Think Super 8, The Fog, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, in a setting like American Graffiti and The Outsiders, with stunning cinematography, superb dialogue in a tightly written script, and a fresh and eerie use of sound.  If you missed this Amazon Studios arrival earlier this summer, you’re in for a treat of 1950s teenage sleuths, a radio station, and strange goings about town: An ambitious film that comes pretty close to perfect science fiction in the classic tradition of The Twilight Zone, The War of the Worlds, and the short stories of Philip K. Dick.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Video game dabblers and players turn into game company entrepreneurs in Netflix’s latest retro fix, High Score, a documentary in the vein of shows like VH1’s Behind the Music and The Toys That Made Us.  Pioneer designers and creators like Space Invaders creator Tomohiro Nishikado, Nintendo’s Hirokazu Tanaka, and Atari’s Nolan Bushnell piece together a brief history of video games with an emphasis on home play in this new six-episode, limited series now streaming on Netflix.  The series goes through the development and rise of games moving from upright consoles to the television set, with Mystery House, Space Invaders, Star Fox, Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Mario Bros., Sonic the Hedgehog, Madden Football, Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat, and Doom rising to the top as the touchstones of this modern corner of history.

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The Star Wars vintage Kenner action figures changed toys and franchising forever.  Sales of this line were so successful that it’s no surprise the fan nostalgia for these 3.75-inch figures in new packages is still as great as ever, 41 years after their first appearance in a pre-order campaign for Christmas 1977.  With the return of Star Wars action figures in advance of the prequels, four of the original sculpts returned in a limited set in the 1990s (still sold via third party sellers at Amazon here), and Lucasfilm with its own changes over the years keeps finding ways of bringing them back with the Kenner logo via Kenner’s successor company Hasbro.  The company even released a set of four figures: Luke, Leia, R2-D2, and Chewbacca, in an enlarged 12-inch collection, still available at Amazon here, and even a Cantina set, plus 12-inch re-creations of several other vintage figures, from toy company Gentle Giant, discussed over the past decade here at borg.

We previewed the latest return of the 3.75-inch action figures emerging from New York Toy Fair early this year here at borg, six individually sold characters in “retro” packaging with mock weathering that made them different enough from the originals to dissuade people from selling them as originals.  The characters were Luke, Han, Leia, Chewbacca, Darth Vader, and a Stormtrooper, with a never-before-released, new design of the classic five-points of articulation for Grand Moff Tarkin, available if you bought the re-issue of the original Star Wars board game.

So far these have only been available through Target stores.  The initial release sold out within a few hours, but throughout the U.S. these still have appeared from time to time over the course of this summer.  Otherwise, they’ve turned up on Amazon (here) from third party sellers with a price in excess of $150 for the set.  So for those who missed out, you now have another opportunity to pick up the six figures in the retro packaging.  Entertainment Earth has just announced it is taking pre-orders for a set of all six figures for only $63.99 (price as of date of publication)–nearly a third of the aftermarket price–if you pre-order for shipment in August here at the Entertainment Earth website.

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