Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Death of KB

With the impending shut-down of KB Toys, I have been visiting the ones that are still open that I used to frequent as a kid and into adulthood.

KB in the Roosevelt Mall - the first one I can remember ever going to. No stock left of anything good - could have picked up Indiana Jones figures (what does that say about them that no one wants Crystal Skull figures?), a couple of Gargans, and a ton of SW keychains.
The shelving was for sale. It really hits me right here (pounds chest).
I bought Atari games at this store, and hard-to-find Hasbro WWF figures on the purple cards, and the second blue card series. They had an Action Master Sprocket figure that I wound up getting...and a lot of ToyBiz Marvel figures when five inch figures were all the rage.

I've also been to the KB in the Gallery, and at Franklin Mills, and a couple of the random ones in Jersey.

What really bothers me is that I will go to these malls again some day in the future, and there will be some stupid clothing store there selling the same stupid clothes that every other store in the mall sells. Or a pager shop. There is no way to return to the glory days of Kiddie City, Family Toy Warehouse, and all the other toy chains I see ads for at awesome online websites, but never remember from our own neighborhood.

In honor of KB, let us look at some ads online and remember the good times of 3/$10 Waterworld, VR Troopers, Space He-Man, Robin Hood, etc, etc, etc at the Vintage Space Toaster Palace

RIP KB TOYS - 1922 - 2009

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Where does Pheyden hang out inbetween missions?

the un-retouched photo

Pheyden Base!

Constructed by the Pheyden known as Guildmaster, the Pheyden Base is a fortress constructed beyond the Edge of Space on the threshold between dimensions. Surrounded by chronal energy and time itself, the base is not easily accessable.
The base is a mixture of technology and items amassed by Pheydens over the years.
The enemies of the universe which are too deadly to destroy and beings which require further observation are brought to the base for further study.
It is inherently dangerous to visit the base - one misstep and a Pheyden can be lost to the raw power of time, spread throught all times and spaces simeltaneously.
A primary feature of the base is the "Time Gate", which allows the Guildmaster to destroy time and space for conversion to pure energy. He has not notified the other Pheyden of this machinery...

There are a bunch of easter eggs in the pic above - see if you can find them all!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

True customization - Glyos series #1 - Gladiator

"Born into existence as a slave, the race memories of cosmic preservation lost through some random quirk of the Pheyden generation event, this Pheyden from the Rothan line was tortured for years in endless combat and training. Upon learning of his time and space warping abilities from a chance encounter with a inter-dimensional treasure hunter, he escaped his prisons and wiped out the entirety of the race that had held him prisoner for so long. He now travels from dimension to dimension, destroying all he considers evil.
Wearing armor forged from the bodies of DynaEdrallim over a prototype Phase-Suit, he is difficult to touch in battle - and even when a blow is landed, the hard-earned covering he wears protects him from most attacks.
Now known as Gladiator, he has come to the Glyos system in search of Exellis...and Ranic, for reasons known only to himself."

A lot of work went into the creation of this figure. It was my first modern experience with attempting a custom through paint (some early 90's attempts at modifying Batman figures as had been shown in Wizard Magazine never panned out).
The changes made involved scraping the dark green paint from the neck of the head, to give it the light green look you see. The silver parts of the figure are all painted - learned many lessons here about light coats, not painting directly onto the figure from the bottle of paint, etc.
Keeping the blue parts of the chest clear of silver paint was quite a task, but it came out well.
Finally, to complete the look of his helmet, I painted the protective "cheek flaps" onto his face, and put the spikes into his head to mirror the inspiration, the Gladiator helmet from the film Gladiator. They are made from real nails, and are quite sharp.

I had a lot of fun putting this figure together. When toy companies are not giving you what you want in a figure, make your own! But above all, be safe while doing it. Painting requires a good amount of ventilation. If working with tools, make sure you have the proper safety equipment.

If anyone else out there has a custom Glyos figure they would like to have showcased, drop me a line.

The most dangerous threat to the GLYOS universe is coming...

is coming...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008

Movies and such - the Midnight Meat Train

When I was young, I was tested and scored pretty high on the vocabulary comprehension test they gave at my school (and all of the English tests, but that's a story for a another time). Thus, I was fairly bored by the books we were allowed to check out of the public library. Kids books were very simple - See X verb Y. See X verb. X is adjective. And so on.
So my mom talked to the librarian, and we found out that I could have an adult library card if my parents signed a form, and there was a restriction on how many books I could take out of the library. I suppose they were wary of some kid losing or damaging a bunch of what were probably at the time $15-20 hardcover books.

I found that I had quite a voracious appetite for books. I could read a few hundred pages a day without thinking about it.
My progression of knowledge was slow - I started with some of the books I saw around the house, mostly Steven King. This progressed to more King books - Night Shift will always give me terrors. I would love to get the rights to I am the Doorway. There is one hell of a movie in there.
IT was a shattering experience - we are talking a general sense of being unsettled after reading that book. I had to stop reading it at points - it was just too intense.
Time progressed. The librarian recommended a number of books...I fell in love with Asimov's Foundation series - another book that forever changed my ideas on some things. Harlot's Ghost was another mind-f. Some real concepts in there that It was a historical fiction book, quite long.
Eventually, I was in my teens and would have discussions with adults about books. A friend of the family told me about a "new author", Clive Barker. I was already familiar with Clive from the film Hellraiser, and was aware of his books from Fangoria Magazine.
I thought I was pretty insulated to horror - after all, what could be worse than IT? I could not have been more wrong.
On a trip to New York, on the way to a horror convention, going by train, I read the story the Midnight Meat Train. I was legitimately freaked out. When it was time to get back on the train and go home after the show, I did not want to get back on the train. Barker had a way with words, touching on emotions in a masterful way that crawled inside your body and mind and twisted it all up.

Over the years, I heard rumblings of a film adaption, dreading the day it would be released. At times, it was not as scary - I saw visions of a 1990s Fox-TV film quality adaption, starring Wayne Knight as the main character. A comic book adaption of the tale reminded and cemented the horror of the tale in my mind.

Cut to this decade. The rights get coughed up again, again we hear Clive talking about the movie - and then a trailer in the theater. This was going to be a movie to see! I felt the original dread again, just watching the images of the trailer and knowing what was in store (assuming they didn't screw up the whole thing).
So the trailer pops up with no release date. And we're waiting...and waiting...and waiting for this movie. Then word on the net - dumped film! Only released to a dozen or so theaters in the Midwest. Then we hear that it is going to be exclusively released on the local cable system's horror channel! After the research I have been doing about getting distribution for the horror film I am working on, I can feel the despair of the filmmakers at being dealt this hand. It's shitty - but it is a business. Anyone who wants to work on movies has to remember that. Sometimes you can make art - but a lot of time you have to deal with the realities of life when trying to get your vision out there.

I nearly missed the window on this damn thing. I have the correct cable system to see the film. But as I have aged, I have found that there is a certain...immediacy that needs to be followed when there is a new media event. If I don't see a movie opening weekend, chances are I will not see it in a theater. If I buy a DVD and don't watch it the first night I have it, it might be months before I am in the mood to see it again. I would love to know why this is the case, but I have not yet found the answer. My hypothesis at this time is that I have learned to let things go. In the past, I used to feel a lot of stress about getting things done at certain times. If a movie was out on a Friday, we had to see it that Friday. I can't tell you how many horror movies we begged my dad to take us to on opening night, for an 8 o' clock show, which, if you can imagine, has one of the liveliest crowds you will ever see a film with. My preference now is to wait six weeks and see the movie in the last possible showings, when there is only one other person (or couple) in the theater who really wants to see the film too...and on cue, here comes the people who really wanted to go out and eat, but instead have done to the movie theater to talk to each other during a loud-as-shit horror film.
ANNNYYYWAY, tangents aside, I looked at the On Demand menu and saw there were three days left for the film to play. I grabbed the wife, as she had also read and been terrified by the book, and sat down to watch it.

The movie was pretty f'n good.
The acting was really good. Bradley Cooper, who was previously on Alias and is fairly memorable as the asshole fiancee of the girl Owen Wilson wound up with in Wedding Crashers, played the main role.
I don't really want to discuss the plot of the film or anything. It is a film that, if you are not aware of anything about it, I would prefer you experience for yourself.
I will say that there were some elements different from the original story.
One plot point was not that clear to me in the film but was much more clear in the book, but it should not hurt the viewer who has not read the book.
VERY highly recommended.

Glyos checklist - custom figure #3 - Phantasm Pheyden

We're back with another update in the ongoing tales of the Glyos System...

Today, we look at the Pheyden they call Phantasm.

He brings light to the darkness.

His true origin is unknown.

The first recorded sighting of him was in the quadrant around Metran, the planet containing the capital cities of the Glyos System.

His motivations - unknown. He has stopped Sincroid uprisings - and destroyed entire starships commanded by the Emperor's men.

Energy weapons do not hurt him. Projectiles, swords, mental attacks - nothing has stopped him.

And he marks all of his conquests with one symbol - a stylized P, formed of lines and dots.

Phantasm is out there. And he must be stopped.


Well, you need a Frontier Pheyden and an Empire Exellis (sold out from the Glyos store), for starters. You also need parts from an Andromeda Pheyden (also sold out). But what will really stop you from making this figure is needing the glow parts that are not included with the Andromeda Pheyden.
It is for the best - the Phantasm Pheyden is a dangerous addition to any collection. Proceed with caution.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Taste of things to come...preview #1

In 2009, the Glyos system will forever be scarred.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Lost history

How can we lose things that are important to us?

When I was in high school, for one of the classes, we made a short film based on the Iliad and the Terminator. Not a masterpiece, mind you, but notable as one of the early works in my film career (such as it has been so far). In the stone-age of home video, I had transferred the film to at least three videocassettes. Copies were given to dear friends. And I have no clue where any of those tapes are now.
I cannot understand why. I have a ton of videotapes...a few years back, I watched all of them - I think - and the movie was gone. My brother has boxes and boxes of VHS is possible that the Illiadinator could be sandwiched between two syndicated Simpsons reruns.
(This isn't the first filmographic item to slip through my fingers. I've been in a few shorts and the beginning of one aborted full-length film, but have never seen the end results of any of them, which is a shame. I played Michael Myers in a film, and am really curious to see how it turned out.)

I was also a prolific writer in high school. With a partner, we wrote hundreds of pages of text. Drawings of the characters. And a lot of those are missing too.
I have some versions that somehow escaped the exodus of their brethren, but they are incomplete texts. Echoes of the original ideas.

There are things that I know are gone and I know why they are gone.
I sold my Inhumanoids, mostly because the toys are weak.
My Smurfs Save the Day Atari 2600 game, complete with all parts? Traded for something stupid in the mid '90s.

But the things that disappeared still haunt me from time to time. My 2nd Transformers Soundwave figure. The first ring that my wife gave me. The picture of me, my brother, and cardboard Mike Schmidt.

I suppose there is always time-travel to fix these wrongs. And to superkick my mom before she sold all my original Star Wars figures for a quarter each.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Links you need to see! Toys and game-related

Our regularly scheduled programming of Pheyden variants and long ramblings about movies will continue tomorrow or Friday. For now, a quick post about some sites I visit and have not previously mentioned. (note to self- ask Matt how to get the link section that he has on his site working on mine)

Parry Game Preserve - a great friend. Check out the recent Transformers questions. You may find the phrasing of the questions similar to posts on a blog somewhere that you might have read...

Madballs Central - the main blog of new Madball information. Recently announced Series III of the new Madballs! I would have put down a million-dollar bet in the year 2000 that we would sooner see new Thundercats before Madballs came back. Thank Cthulu I was wrong - I never liked Thundercats. And I'll post a Madballs pic eventually - still looking for a Goal Eater from the originals if anyone out there has one for sale... - I was reading columns by Adam Pawlus about Star Wars when the Internet was just coming out of the Pangea age. (NOTE: my child and others of her generation will never know a world without cellphones. Or eBay [or its decendant]. In 1998, I used to tie up a phone line for 10 hours to try and download a picture of a series 3 Trendmasters War Planets toy. Shit, if anyone out there has those pics stored on a hard drive somewhere on a Compaq Presario with whopping 8 megs ram, drop me a line.) Anyway, Adam has had a column on Star Wars figures for as long as I can remember. Sites such as Yakface, one other one, before his current home at The aformentioned is a more general blog about the overall world of toys and games. Usually updated on Mondays and Tuesdays.
I think the only question I sent Adam for his Q and A was one about "what are all the possible figures for the original Star Wars trilogy, just based on the movies". Which is not answerable, since Lucas and the merchandising groups have messed with the movie and its characters time and again to the point where the werewolf - Lak Sivrak - was an X-Wing Pilot. Yeah. Although that might be a figure I would buy.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Movies I watched recently - Crank

As a younger dude, I watched a lot of movies. And a lot of shit movies, at that.
In the late 80's, a new crop of action heroes started to appear, attempting to steal the thunder of Stallone, Schwarzenegger, and Norris.
One of these stars-to-be was Jean-Claude Van Damme. My first memory of him is in the film Bloodsport. One of my best friends used to get all of the movies and check them out first, so we would then watch them after he recommended them. Bloodsport was one of those films. And it was pretty good.
Over the years, Van Damme would put out a number of films...the last one I saw in the theater was called The Quest. It was pretty bad. A lesson I learned from Van Damme is that you have to try and get your range set early on - be in a lot of different movies at the start of your career. Once you have three or four hits, they are going to keep putting you in the same films over and over again until the formula runs out and then they will move on to the next guy.
Jean-Claude put out a film this year - in theaters again - called JCVD. I would recommend seeing it - it has JC playing "himself", showing that his life is not all that awesome, and how delusional he can be at times with things that happen to him.

Anyway, now that I have talked about Van Damme for a few hundred words, I'll explain how it ties into Crank.
I've found that my most preferred type of film is horror - I enjoy the scenario of horror the most, and its most common aspects - fear, effects, terror, fantastic situations.
Action movies are enjoyable, but frequently I find myself eye-rolling at the films and their formula. Every time Con Air comes on tv, or Armageddon, I shake my head at the ridiculous situations and heart-stopping action that occurs - jumping! right out of the way! of a speeding train! which smashes the bad guys! While rescuing your wife from terrorists and fixing your marriage, which allows you to hang up on the president...just not something I enjoy as much as horror.
(yes, Captain Sarcastic out there in Internet land, I know horror films are unrealistic too. I just enjoy them more).

Jason Statham is an actor that I have seen in a couple of films, but haven't followed too closely. There was a scene in one of the Transporter movie previews where he deflects a missile with a plate or a briefcase or something, and I clapped my hands and said "this isn't for me". Its also a part of getting older - example that I like was when we made my dad take us to see Interview with the Vampire. He watches about twenty minutes, turns to us and says, "This is Dracula again" and walks out of the theater, leaving us alone to watch the film.

In the movies I have seen Statham in, I thought he wasn't bad. I just had no interest in seeing any of his other movies. In a discussion with my brother, he mentioned Crank to me and told me the ending, which didn't bother me because I didn't care about seeing it.
A couple of days ago, Crank was on cable, and after he had told me about the end of the film, I was curious about how it could wind up that way.
I won't do spoilers for the film, just in case there is that one guy out there who hasn't seen the movie and is waiting for the Mayan Doomsday to check it out (I am doing the same thing with the Dark Knight). But I have to say that I enjoyed a lot of things in this movie - the premise. The acting, surprisingly. The twists and turns. Amy Smart. And the ending was pretty cool.

If I were going to rate this movie, I would give it somewhere between three stars and four, out of five. Very enjoyable film - and I am looking forward to the sequel.

ADDENDUM 12/10/08: I have a shelf of DVDs that I intend to watch, some I have never seen, others that I want to watch again. I pop Ghosts of Mars in - the underrated John Carpenter 90's movie - and there is Jason Statham as one of the police officers. Huh.

Glyos checklist - custom figure #2 - Fauna Pheyden

Alright, so you can tell that I love the Glyos line of figures.
Admittedly, I was a late convert to the line. They didn't really catch my eye until the second six were released. So at that time, I was playing a bit of catch-up on the first few figures.
I started out with a small order - four figures - Standard Pheyden, Frontier Pheyden, Crayboth pack 1, and Cyber Ghost Exellis (who I referred to as Excellis for months afterwards).
My next order quickly followed about 2 weeks later, and my initial favorite was Rothan Pheyden.

I don't know what it is about the green that was used by Onell on this figure, but it feels...tough. I see the color and I think of this bruiser, battling the anomalies of the cosmos with his fists.
So immediately, I had to emasculate that feeling and create a figure that gave me an opposite feeling.

I was making an Indian companion for him, but ran out of parts.

I immediately saw potential in combining the different green parts from the initial Glyos figures.
What you see above was the result of the combination.

I dubbed this figure Fauna Pheyden. In him, I see a Pheyden who was "born" not as a fully formed being, but one which almost didn't make it. He appeared on a planet where the dominant lifeforms are nothing more than plants, and thus as the energy of the Pheyden effect coalesced, he adapted himself to the plants, becoming something not entirely Pheyden or entirely plant.

I did not want to have the stereotypical muck monster with a heart of gold character who can regenerate limbs and is cool, calm and collected all the time. Fauna is a being in tune with the environment around him, and finds that on the plant world, he is near omniscient. He can see through the plants around him. He can feel intruders as they walk over his grass. And he can move the greenery to hide himself, make paths disappear, or make Glyans disappear.
Fauna has taken the Pheyden mission of protecting the universe and twisted it into protecting just one world against all intruders. It remains to be seen what his reaction would be to another Pheyden stepping foot on his world...
It's simple!
Get a Rothan Pheyden and Phase Pheyden. Mix parts and Fauna can join your collection.

Glyos Checklist G002 and G003 - Gear's Edge and Phase Pheydens

We're back today with two more entries in the Glyos system series from Onell Design.
From the initial release of six figures, this is Gear's Edge Pheyden and Phase Pheyden.

These two have nothing in common except a desire for a low-rent apartment in 1980's Boston....

Gear's Edge Pheyden is one of the toughest to get of all the Glyos figures. Something in the plastic that was used had an adverse effect on the neck joint, making it difficult to remove his head. And, in some rare instances, breakage of the head peg.
It is a real shame, as the real-type coloring on the GE Pheyden is one of the strongest yet made.
Character-wise, he is a loner. The world of Issaris, where the story of Gear's Edge takes place, is a world of endless deserts. During some great catastrophe, the humanoid beings of the planet left the world - leaving behind all of the mechanoids without shutting them off. Over the years, the mechanoids have developed their own society...this Pheyden is stranded on Issaris, his powers unaccessable. He continues to journey across the world, looking for a way to escape.

Phase Pheyden is a popular figure in the Glyos universe. He was the first clear figure to be released, and is said to have been a big seller.
My interpretation of his character is a simple one - he has the power to become intangible, which has defined his very personality since he discovered the ability. Phase always looks transparent, but this is not the case. He is very much solid until he wills himself to not be.
Phase avoids problems, as he can just drop through a floor to escape a rampaging Villser, or run through a wall to avoid a Sincroid army. He will soon find that there are some problems you can't run from...


The first Gear's Edge graphic novel can be obtained from the official Glyos store
Gear's Edge Pheyden is long sold out, but Phase Pheyden is still available for the low price of $8.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Glyos checklist - custom figure #1 - Poison Pheyden

So, I love the Glyos system series of figures. You can look at previous posts to see that.
One reason is here:
Poison was my first palette-swapHe had the darkest eyes. The devil's eyes.

This Pheyden figure is created from parts from four different Glyos figures, but looks different than all of its "fathers".

In my own Glyos universe - a copy of the one Matt chronicles on his Glyos site, created by a particularly powerful Pheyden moving through space and time - Pheydens are created by some quirk in the cosmic universe at seemingly random times and places. Frequently, they adapt to their surroundings - or in some cases, are affected by it.
This particular Pheyden, who is referred to as "Poison" by any species that he meets, was brought into existence on Planet Strane, a planet of amazing toxicity to all humanoid lifeforms. Due to its harsh nature, beings from outside of the planet rarely journey there. Inside the poison gases of the atmosphere, by the flesh-searing water, this Pheyden popped into reality.
Unlike many Pheydens, he does not have the ability to move through space and time. He has average durability in battle, and fights rather unremarkably. He does have unique qualities - he can process any of the poisoned elements of Strane without effect. Additionally, his touch destroys any poisoned or diseased element of the planet, which made him a hunted being.
He is healing a damaged world that does not want his help.
This has not done much for Poison's mind - he slowly is deteriorating in a world of harsh living.
His white skin coloring denotes that he may be related to Frontier Pheyden and his movement through time and space, but it has never been proven.

The head is from Frontier Pheyden.
The torso and waist are from Rothan Pheyden.
The arms and upper legs are from Phase Pheyden, but there a number of workable clear choices now.
The lower legs, feet, and hands are from Eclipse Pheyden.

Teh Rare - stuff that I have or had at one point that you will never see pics of! First up - Toyshow Microman Demons

Alright - a lot of people have heard of Micronauts.

(cricket chirp, cricket chirp)

It was a big line the 70's. You would usually find a random chrome headed guy who might be transparent in a big lot of Star Wars figures...anyway, that was Micronauts. They were better articulated than Star Wars figures, with an insane amount of accessories and robotic interchangeable monstrosities.

Micronauts was actually a US creation, using varied toys from Takara's Microman line, a couple of Magnemo toys from another Takara line, and some unique US designs.
Microman was an even more extensive line in Japan, running for over a decade, spinning off what we would come to know in the US as Transformers.
As all good toylines do, eventually Microman and Micronauts took a break from their eternal battle, living on in the memories of a number of adults who had lived the war with them.

Around 1998-99, I was looking for Gi Joe figures and vehicles, in what I thought was a futile attempt to "collect 'em all". This was pre-eBay, people - and if you were a person who had an innate distrust of mail-order, local stores and conventions were the only way to get items.
So I had heard of a new store opening in the Philly area, which turned out to be a store I had visited once or twice in another location, the greatly-missed Quakerhead. The owner and operator, Ted who Took So Much of John's Money for Years in His Store, had even more toys in this new store than the old one did.

Not his store, but Ted in recent years.

Including tons of cherry Gi Joe items. I think I got my first MMS from him...the pickings were plentiful in those days. Imagine a world where regular people took their junk to a dedicated toy store to sell it, instead of direct auctioning to fellow fans for the highest price...(adding rant tag to this post - NOW!). Anyway, I would spend entire lunchtime hours at his store, and more after work, as it was pretty close to my office in those days.

One day, just looking through the volumes of the store, I came across this:
Microman SuperWalt strikes a pose.

The writing was in a language I could not read, but the intention was clear - this was a new Micronaut of some kind! I spoke to Ted about it a little bit - this was the new Microman series, and it had been running for a little bit of time when this figure was released -
Fun Fact about Japanese toys - a number of series I have collected helpfully are numbered so you know when you have missed something from the main series. Ol' Walt here was number 41 in the series. For those that know me well, they know exactly what went through my mind at that moment of discovery - checkLIST!
Hands down, these Microman figures are some of the best action figures that have ever been created as far as durability, paint, detailing, articulation, and design.
Every figure has a magnetic feature of some kind, so you can make Microman walk up your fridge, or hang him underneath a metal shelf. In this particular series, the magnet has been transferred to his weapon, and also in his feet. The chest design is an homage to the classic Microman Command series, some of which were released in America as Pharoid.

One thing about Japanese toys, especially Takara of this time-frame - they loved exclusives. LOVED 'em. And that is the (main) subject of this post.
There was a toyshow over there, where they had FIVE exclusive figures, that were only given to dealers (!). This still amazes me to this day. Each piece was supposedly limited to 200 pieces each, or perhaps less - there is no real way to tell. But if you want the facts as we know them, check the links at the end of this post.
To my knowledge, only one collector has a full set of five, although much like Fight Club, there are some things you don't talk about.
At one point, I had three of them. And I took a picture of the event for posterity:
You've heard of the Unholy Two? Meet the Unholy...wait a sec.

Meet Demons Purple, Black, and Yellow. The other two in the set are Demon Pink and Demon Clear. Uncommonly rare - and one of the very few things that I have ever had that I wish I did not sell.
If anyone out there has any of the five except the black one for sale, drop me a line.


For Microman, go to Microforever. He knows everything about this era of Microman. And the original era. And the stuff since...yeah, just go here.
For Micronauts, visit Innerspace Online
And my buddy Bryan frequently posts about Microman and Nauts and other related lines on his blog, Rocket Tubes

Sugar Cookies from Troma are oh-so-yummy

As a film watcher, I have learned many times that there are many different types of merits to a film. Some films are well-acted. Some have brilliant special effects, or stories. A director may have a style that draws you in, or perhaps the writing is especially scintillating.

On the other hand, some movies make no sense outside of the context of their original release, being related to the time in which they were made*.

Or, you watch a film today that was made thirty years ago that was inspirational to a generation of filmmakers who pushed the original idea into new places – and the original doesn’t hold up. (see also: People who think Army of Darkness is better than Evil Dead II, when there really isn’t a comparative link between the two films other than the shared character of Ash, the Necronomicon, and the Deadites).


I had the pleasure to get, through Netflix, one of the first (chronologically-speaking) films in the Troma library, Sugar Cookies. Troma is one of the longest-lived independent film studios in the US – probably the only one that has been around longer than ten years, at this point. Their genre can only be described as Tromatic – you will find no other films from a studio that have such an overriding vision of…schlock is probably not the word. A unique world-view? If there is another company that has made films about:

- monsters that are essentially giant mutated male genitalia

- lesbianism (starring a number of gyno-Americans, as Troma founder Lloyd Kaufman is fond of calling them in his essential tomes, Everything I Need to Know About Filmmaking I Learned From the Toxic Avenger and Make your Own Damn Movie!)

- sometimes heroes, sometimes cowards who are magically imbued with the power of the kabuki

- violence against the mentally-challenged, obese people, people with AIDS, midgets, nerds, jocks – basically everybody-

then please let me know about them in the comments section.

Lloyd has a truly unique vision which imbues all of his films – along with the strange overdubbed sound effects (boing when a breast is squeezed), rapid fire editing style (I think Citizen Toxie had 3500 cuts in a less-than two hours film), and “this guy could be your brother who insisted he be allowed to act in your movie” actors, you usually get a lot of over-the-top gore and violence.

Sugar Cookies is the prototype of these films, but is somehow not diluted by the years of Troma since.

Box art courtesy Troma Films. Support Truly Independent Cinema!

It could be considered slow-moving – and the editing is very Troma-esque, some shots are too long, some end so abrupt you think they lost the rest of the scene – but I found myself drawn in by the characters. Lynn Lowry plays a dual role as both a porn star who is murdered by her most-associated director during a game which gets out of control, and a “new girl on the block” who is found by Mary Woronov to replace the murdered actress. Ms. Woronov plays a woman very much ahead of her time – dressed in male business clothing and a lot of jewelry – who is not the standard submissive woman of the time. And – gasp for the seventies – a lesbian! Who was also the lover of both the murdered porn star, the new girl, and the porn director.

Throughout the film, Lynn is being prepared to be the new star of the porn films – or so she thinks. In the end, it turns out that she is to be instrument of revenge for Ms. Woronov – who laments the loss of her former lovers, but leaves Lynn to face the music.

First, I must admit that Mary Woronov is an actress that I much appreciate. Her appearances in films such as TerrorVision, Death Race 2000 (the original), and Warlock are sometimes the only high point in low-budget films. She has an energy about her that is bigger than the shit films she is frequently trapped in. I would love it if we could get her into one of my films.

I was unaware she had done nude scenes, but there are a couple in the film, which was a plus.

The acting, outside of one particular police officer, was not bad.

The picture quality is not too bad for a movie from the early seventies, but it must be said that it appears the DVD was mastered from an old VHS tape, as there is some minor screen rolling at one point.

I did not find myself clock-watching, which is one of the most telling signs of watching a movie that is pretty bad.

On the negative side of thing, this is surely one of the least erotic sex films I have ever seen. Any time that something good is about to happen – CUT! ( I think Lloyd mentions this in his book as well).

The music is of varying quality – some of the themes wore on me by the end.

You can tell that this was very early on – some of the audio was not properly mic’d in some of the locations, as it sounds like they are in an echo chamber.

Another note from watching this and Squeeze Play, another pre-Toxie Troma film – there are a few montages where the characters are shown speaking but there is only music on the audio track. Stylistic choice or necessity of horrible audio?

I’ve found that I like a five-star rating system for films. I would give this 2.75 stars.

I can’t recommend it to anyone who is not already a fan of the Troma style, and, even if you are, not to the fair-weather ones.


You can purchase the film directly from

Want to know more about Mary Woronov? Visit a site about her: Mary Woronov

*although, amazingly, someone actually said "the ol' okey-doke" to me in a real conversation, a line which puzzled us on our initial viewings of Dawn of the Dead.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Glyos checklist - figure G001 - Standard Pheyden V1

Today, I wanted to look at one of the six original figures put out by Onell Design in their Glyos System series of figures, the standard version of Pheyden.

pic courtesy Onell Design

A main character in the Glyos system, Pheyden is a mysterious traveler who can move through time and space.
From the Glyos weblog:
"Owing to his ability to travel through the Edge of Space and phase throughout time, Pheyden has actually split into many versions of himself. He exists simultaneously in many different realities and sometimes even works with these alternate versions of himself if the need should arise. Each Pheyden has his own personality, but still follows the code of keeping infinity in order."
This Pheyden is also tasked with keeping Space Trappers Rechlen and Aves out of trouble, which they frequently get into as they maintain their spaceship zoo of rare Glyan creatures.

This is the first Pheyden introduced in the Glyos system, but it is still unclear if he is the "First Pheyden" referenced by Phanost (another Glyos character) in his writings.

One of the strongest features of these figures, other than their design aesthetic, is that they have complete interchangeability. Arms can be made shorter by using the leg pieces from the pic above - or even long. If you like transparent green Pheyden heads, you can swap them onto the standard blue body for your own preferred design. Pheyden can be ripped into his component parts and rebuilt into other configuration...oh yes, many other things can be built with these figures, which you will time.

Each figure is made from high-quality PVC, and can take a beating from an adult collector or a child. There are videos floating around the net of Glyos figures being thrown into concrete, slammed into walls...they are quite durable.


Glyos figures can be purchased at for the low, low price of $8 each. The Standard Pheyden shown here is no longer for sale - the orignal Glyos were made of a very hard plastic that did not represent accurately the intention of the creator - but you can buy the new V2 version of this figure and start your collection today.

Welcome to...FRIGHT NIGHT

Okay, for anybody out there who comes across this blog...

my name is John K. I am a fan and collector of many things, including toys, comic books, and horror movies.

I've been having a lot of thoughts about some of the things I collect recently, and wanted to get some of those thoughts down in a public forum, and possibly exorcise some of the demons which plague my mind - i.e., have a reference for things I think about wayyy too much.

In the days to come, there will be posts about my favorite toy lines - the Glyos system, Gi Joe Extreme, Transformers, and whatever else comes to mind.
I might talk about movies I have recently watched - I could write a couple paragraphs about Teeth, to use a recent example.
Or I might post about whatever else is in my mindspace.

I might tell you how I learned there is no God because of dogs.
How my dog is like my son. Or how a dog finally broke me of my completist nature.

I also have a bunch of pics from my late, lamented (surprisingly) website, The World of Rocks and Bugs and Things (by Ideal). So some of those lost treasures might be popping back up when you least expect it.