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ACTION FIGURE SMACKDOWN
There can be only one ULTIMATE ACTION FIGURE on the market. The one to whom all others bow down and acknowledge. Year after year new contenders arrive to vie for the title, but just being new won’t necessarily win first prize. Old toys can have powerful legs that carry them to victory from yesteryear… to infinity… and beyond!
Today I give you my picks for the TOP TWO contenders:
Buzz Lightyear and Baymax
Let’s take a close look at these two heavyweights. What makes them great? Do they have the cool factor to both win over and retain consumer loyalty? Hey, who’s Just. Plain. Awesome? First up, the older contender from out of this world:
Buzz has had some trouble along the way. He is prone to visions of grandeur and even greater heights of delusion. But when push comes to shove, or it’s time to fall with style, you can always count on this Space Ranger to get the job done!
FEATURES: If we take the “You! Are! A! Toy!” factor out of the equation, Buzz can fly. And not just through the air, but in Space itself! And he has that cool blinking light (a.k.a. laser) to blast his enemies with. He has natural fighting skills (not to mention latin dance moves) and superlative tactical ability. Oh, and he has a cool ship!
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Buzz rocketed to popularity so quickly that he got his own show on Toon Disney where we got to meet many more Cadets from Space Command. And even when he got lost on a strange planet, he was able to make friends with the locals, making him an impromptu diplomat. Of sorts.
CONCLUSION: Buzz Lightyear is a solid contender, but let’s look at him by the numbers –
- Cool Factor: 4.5 out of 5 – The suit and his ship are just too much!
- Popularity: 4.5 out of 5 – Introduced in the 1990’s, he shows no signs of winking out!
- Features: 3 out of 5 – With only one offensive weapon and a ship, he’s a bit light here.
- Accomplishments: 3.5 out of 5 – High rank in Space Command and ability.
Next up is the newbie with the soft inside wrapped up in a polymer shell:
OK, admittedly, this powerhouse starts off as a bit of a marshmallow, but when he suits up, his cool factor ramps up considerably:
Hero and Sidekick. But which is which?
Baymax has a heart of gold and a never-say-no attitude. He’s there for you when you have a boo-boo or when you need to fight an evil villain. Granted, everything he knows was programmed into him, but that just means he can learn and do anything.
FEATURES: Baymax has one offensive weapon, that being his rocket punch. But he can also fly, which is always a handy feature to have when fighting evil. He can also program into his memory any tactical maneuver or fighting style. Any. Yup, that’s some serious advantage right there!
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Baymax is first and foremost a personal healthcare companion. So while he can, after suiting up, beat the daylights out of you, he can then nurse you back to health again. And no-one gives a better hug! He also has great empathy and can bring people together, making him a natural part of any superhero team.
CONCLUSION: Baymax is also a solid contender, but let’s look at him by the numbers –
- Cool Factor: 5 out of 5 – He inflates. And his tech suit is beyond awesome!
- Popularity: 4 out of 5 – Introduced very recently, he has caught on fast.
- Features: 3 out of 5 – With only one offensive weapon and flight, he’s a bit light too.
- Accomplishments: 4 out of 5 – Medical and fighting ability is a killer combination!
So who wins the Action Figure Smackdown? Here are the tallies:
Buzz Lightyear: 15.5 out of 20 Baymax: 16 out of 20
Keep in mind that the contest isn’t over yet! Baymax has yet to stand the test of time. And Buzz Lightyear isn’t one to sit around and accept defeat. He will demand a rematch!
So who would you have chosen? Do you think our ratings are accurate?
Oh, I just hate it when another studio one-ups my favorite studio, Disney ! But credit where credit is due. It goes to the Warner Brothers Studio for releasing a controversial film. And how did they manage such a tricky and potentially explosive feat and preserve a piece of cinematic history?
By using four title cards. My question: Why couldn’t Disney do this with Song of the South?
But first, the Warner Bros. movie: Irving Berlin’s This Is the Army (from 1943)
And yes, that’s a very young Lt. Ronald Reagan, actually in the army during production
Reagan again on the left with George Murphy on the right, playing his father
This film was called “buoyant, captivating, as American as hot dogs or the Bill of Rights” by Theodore Strauss of The New York Times. He left out racist and highly offensive. Or maybe he missed this part of the picture:
A Minstrel from a number with white actors in blackface
But with Hollywood, one is never enough, so why not fill the entire stage with highly offensive stereotypes:
Yes, that’s an enormous banjo in the background
If five Minstrels in the background weren’t enough, how about twelve in the foreground dancing and singing ‘Mammy’ with another twelve guys dressed in blackfaced-drag with an additional six banjo-playing Minstrels, three to a side? If only they could have worked in a plate of fried chicken and collard greens somehow.
There were actual African-American singers/dancers in this picture, but they were used in a typically exaggerated way for comic relief. However, a Fun Fact: The Army was still segregated at this time (WWII) and so the production of this film, with a predominantly all-army cast, was the only integrated deployment of men during the war.
So, again, how did Warner Bros. manage to get this film released in 2014 on DVD? Answer:
T I T L E C A R D S
So it made a lot of money for charity. But still unacceptable.
Open acknowledgment of the mistaken views held at the time.
Point: Does banning movies with this stuff in them mean the stuff never happened?
Blackface Minstrelsy has a long history and is not practiced today, even in jest. But it is a large part of American history and won’t go away simply by burying movies that contain sequences depicting it.
With that in mind, couldn’t Disney place similar Title Cards at the beginning of a DVD release of Song of the South and let the scenes depicting the attitudes of the freed slaves and their interaction with former masters speak for themselves, also speak to the history of the period, and allow such scenes to “remind all how far we have come as a nation”, or nations?
I’ll leave this thought here and end this post on a lighter note. Did you know that The Skipper’s dad was in this movie too? Yup, Alan Hale Sr. played a key role in many movies long before his son, Alan Hale Jr., became Gilligan’s buddy:
A l a n H a l e S r.
There’s more to Florida than Walt Disney World. There, I said it. The last visit we took in January yielded an opportunity to really explore the State and see its many attractions and natural beauty. We visited museums, beaches, stores, and more.
Here are some of the highlights in pictures:
After all, Florida is called the Sunshine State. Most of our visits over the years have been blessed with lots of sun and high temperatures. Above, I am cleaning the excess sunshine off my windshield so that I can drive safely.
I was staying with the in-laws in a rather large trailer community and got lost trying to get out. I ended up at a golf course where I was delayed as these four birds decided to cross the road. I guess the answer to the famous joke as to why a bird would cross the road is ‘to play golf’!
Birds on the beach and… at Wendy’s Restaurant.
So many interesting shapes and shades of colors
I find the indigenous plants to be very interesting subjects for photographic essays! I rarely visit Florida without coming home with hundreds of scenery shots.
Lastly, I have an exclusive shot of a new Hotel on one of the beaches:
It may not be a Marriott Hotel, but these small snails seem to consider this heel from a flip-flop shoe to be 5-star! My wife found this and called me over and we enjoyed watching the snails heads come in and out of their shells… until the tide came in and gave us all soakers!
So these are just a few of my impressions of Florida, not as a tourist trap, but as The Sunshine State.
It is interesting to me that by even asking that question, I may not be Politically Correct! To wonder if anyone has taken this non-offense initiative too far is to invite criticism. So when is being Politically Correct really too much?
The simple answer is: When it ignores history.
Take Song of the South for instance. This film is likely never to be re-released any time soon. It is apparently thought that it would spark more controversy over the racial problems of the past, and perhaps inflame some of the prejudices that still exist today. But I wonder if burying such a movie will make such controversy disappear? It’s unlikely.
The fact is that this film was made. It was released. It had an impact. And so I believe it should have a place in today’s society.
Take also the portrayal of smoking in Disney films. Now, I agree that we don’t need our children to see their favorite Disney character puffing away on a Virginia Slim. Can we imagine Ariel lighting up while relaxing on a rock after a hard day’s swim? Mickey pulling out a pipe on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and then breaking into a song all about the joys of smoking? Neither scenario is appealing!
Pinocchio enjoys (?) a cigar
But neither is denying that Disney characters have always been depicted as smokers if the story and situation called for it. Like Pinocchio when he was making an ass of himself:
Or Cruela de Ville with her iconic long cigarette holder. And we have to remember that Walt Disney himself was unapologetic about his own chain-smoking (although he did keep it off-camera.)
There was a series of TV commercials depicting Disney characters having bad experiences with smoking, like the aforementioned Pinocchio. The overlaying narration suggested that smoking was bad, so that is a good use of this old footage. But should this old footage be changed, perhaps edited out of the Classic films altogether? The answer appears to be ‘yes, as Disney is going through its Classic catalogue and removing such offending footage!
In conclusion, we might ask: Should the PC movement have the power to, not only ignore, but to change history? Maybe that should be the true controversy!