Monday, October 15, 2012

I Want to Believe These Toys Exist

When monster season hits it's peak, so does my interest in cryptozoology. It's like clockwork, the leaves turn orange and my lust for bipedal apes hits a fever pitch.

 And when I think cryptozoology, I remember my beloved Secret Saturdays, cut down before it's time. But this article won't be about the show ( because that is an article unto itself,) but rather about 'dem toys. The Cryptid Collection, to be exact.

 Are you prepared to roam with beasts?

The fine gentlemen above, from left to right, are the Amarok Biloko and Bishopville Lizard Man. See, there are no fuax monsters in this line, every beastie is based on real world myths and urban legends. Even if the show wasn't fantastic, I'd still have bought these toys. It's like a toyline devoted to all my favorite monsters! 

Now, I'm not one to name favorites, but these three are my favorite. I just love the classic two-legged humanoid cryptids, they feel the most strange and intriguing. Especially southern swamp monsters, which Mr. lizard man just happens to be. He's also the only figure from my favorite episode of the series, Ghost in the Machine, which had every freakin' swamp monster ever in it. Any friend of the Fouke monster is a friend of mine.

I also happen to adore both werewolves and Inuit art and culture. Oh, hello there Mr. Amarok. And the Biloko is just that special mix of one part ape, one part fish, and a healthy dose of tribal superstition.

And here we have the quadrupeds, a Tapire-iauara, Rakshasa, and Komodo, who's one of two actual characters from the show. Imagine Scooby-doo, if he wasn't completely inept. Okay, Komodo dragons aren't cryptids now, but they were not too long ago and it was a pretty big deal at the time. He gets a legacy pass.

You know how I said those guys were my favorites? I lied, it's the rakshasa. Just look at all that Alex Toth style goodness! I mean sure, it's not at all accurate (even to the show), but it looks like a Hindu tiger monster. And who can deny those enormous, adorable man-eating eyes? It would have been cool to get the bigger, blood-thirstier version seen in the series, but I wouldn't trade this little guy for the world.

The Tapire is my absolute favorite type of cryptid: the kind scribbled down in the notes of explorers seeing new lands for the first time. It's pretty much a known fact that these guys were actually capybaras seen by the first Europeans down the Amazon, but he'll always exist, in my heart. I couldn't be happier that got not one but two toys of this obscure beasty.

 And here we come to the relic pterosaur aviary. We've got a Duah, Piasa Bird, and 'Zon. 'Zon would be the other main character, and it's never clarified what species she's supposed to be, but there are so many pterosaur cryptids in South America you can just pick your favorite.

The Piasa bird is... an odd choice. Not a bad figure by any means, but far from a dragon with a lions face, you know what I'm sayin'? I usually pretend he's just another relic flying beastie.

And of course, the Duah (otherwise known as Ropen) is the classic dino-cryptid. Too bad he couldn't have a glowing belly, but at least he's got plenty of graves to rob this time of year!

Awww poor Alkali Lake Monster. The lone aquatic monster in the set. He doesn't even get a fancy nature shot like the others. Take comfort in knowing that if these figures were in scale, you'd be the biggest. At least he gets a nifty swimming pose stand!

And then there's Miss Naga here, who's exploits are extremely spoiler laden. Suffice to say, she's an aquatic snake lady who steals children, like any good Naga should be.

I'd love to say this is the entire set, but I would be lying to myself. Naye, there are other critters that I shall most likely never get my greedy claws on.

Foremost is the dread Popobawa, who was yanked off the shelves shortly after the first wave was released. See, it's all fine and dandy to release toys of monsters nobody ( normal) believes in. But to residents of parts of Africa, the Popobawa is very real and very terrifying. It's funny, cases of Popobawa attacks seem to go up right around election time, when candidates make big claims of driving off the one-eyed monster. Huh, what a coincidence. Political propaganda aside, Mattel got cold feet and sent the poor misunderstood creature back from whence he came.

Then there are the two whole waves that were only released in the UK. Including the Owlman, Atmospheric Jellyfish, and  Missouri Pigman. Oh, Mattel, you get me every time.

But, even when so many creatures are out of my grasp, there are still a few I have hopes of obtaining. There is a four pack exclusive to toys r us that includes an alternate Tapire and an alpha Amarok that I hope to some day add to my Bestiary of the bizaare!

Over all this is a great line of toys, and I've loved every one I've gotten. Who can argue with a set of tiny myths and legends on your desktop? It's just disappointing that so many great cryptids will never see plastic. The Devil Ape, Bunyips, Trunko, Oh what could have been.

Special thanks to Agent Spectre of "Every boys action cartoon's fansite" fame. She helped me obtain most of these critters when I showed up late to the cryptid ball, and was a pleasure to deal with. She also sent me these nifty Saturdays buttons she made:

I never say no to nice swag.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Bigfoot Goes East

Let's talk about Big Trouble in Little China. Ha ha, no. The last thing the world needs is another review talking about amazing this movie is. If you haven't seen it yet, you are actively going out of your way not to, and thus a dick.

No, I'm here to answer the one question everyone who has ever seen this movie asks: What the hell is the hairy monkey monster thing?

I mean, that doesn't have anything to do with China right? Well, you'd be surprised. See, sloppy here is what's known as a Yeren or Chinese wild man. Basically the Chinese version of sasquatch, but more closely related to orangutans than gorillas. And unlike Sasquatch, the Chinese are very serious about the Yeren, so if any amateur monster hunters take a potshot at one, they'll feel the cold hard fist of the Chinese justice system firmly in their loins. 

Hats off to John Carpenter for even knowing these guys exist, and bringing a little bit of cryptozoology to the masses.

Now this guy?

Who the hell knows, man. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Building the Dead

Target for the past few years has embraced the idea of just giving kids a pre-built Halloween bucket and calling it a night, and has devoted a chunk of it's Halloween section to what I like to call "coffin stuffers". Lego has been a mainstay of this tiny toy section, usually putting out a small three to four dollar set of whatever theme they're promoting. But this year... this year the amazing Monster Fighters theme is the flavor of the month, and it tastes like caramel apples.

LEGO FREAKIN' GHOST! I have pined after these tiny plastic departed souls since I was seven, and the Twisted Time Train was shown in Lego magazine swarming with the things. (That's probably why I have a thing for evil trains, too...huh.) 

This isn't the original mold, but dare I say it's better. Just look at that cute little expression of absolute depression. You just know he wants a hug, but he's intangible. Thus is the tragedy of Lego ghost.

 The ball and chain dangling from his foot is a nifty touch, and his entire body is cast in that oh so magical Lego glow-in-the-dark plastic. 

I am thoroughly convinced you could create perpetual daylight by building a room out of Lego ghosts.

The tiny grandfather clock is excellent as well, being completely built out of generic bricks. I'm a sucker for tiny brick built furniture and props, ever since the Catwoman and Batman set's tiny newspaper stand and mailbox. Speaking of the bat, this would make a great addition to a Wayne manor build...

Hats off to Lego, for putting together a Halloween set that perfectly captures the spirit (HO HO!) of the holiday, and resisting the temptation to make a vampire speedboat, or zombie cannon with flick-fire missiles. It's simple, yes, but it's pure. You just can't look at this guy and his stately time piece without feeling jack-o-lantern fires warming your hackles.

This tiny lost soul has taken my laptop as his haunting grounds, the perfect reminder of  what the season is all about.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Painting the Land Black and Orange

A nip is in the air, leaves are on the ground, and the harvest goblins are wringing their knuckles in anticipation. The best time of year is here once more!

I've got so many plans laid out for the soul-harvesting season: Movies, Toys, Games, Candy, Papercraft.

A running theme this year is going to be something that's weighed heavily on my mind lately: the memory of Halloween's past. Leave your zombies, clowns, and sexy nurses at the door. This month is for the archaic horrors and wonders of the world. If you miss the old world as much as I, then fear not: this page will be a gift basket crammed full of banshees and werewolves, Jack o' lanterns and Nosferatu!

So break out the Atmosfear, choke yourself on candy corn, and drown it with Count Chocula milk. It's monster season, whether the retail world cares or not!