B. Alan Orange's STAR WARS EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH TOY REVIEW
Yoda's on the smack. He told me so in the toy isles of Target last night. His grizzled little paw reached out to shake mine, and all he could talk about was getting medicated. Yeah, he's toking the herb and eating peanut butter and bacon sandwiches. Which explains a lot. Trust me, I hate spoilers, but I honestly believe this is a major plot point of the new film. Hasbro's CALL UPON YODA! Interactive Storytelling Master, released in conjunction with the latest line of Star Wars toys, didn't seem interested in telling me a story at all. Instead, he kept yammering about his meds. Like a junkie slug suffering from hyper-delusional bouts of depression. His animatronic, rubber covered mouth came alive and told me in five different ways that he needed his fix. Apparently, he can use the force that much better with the black tar coursing through his veins. The scary little midget damn near leaped off the shelf and started singing, "Gimme that, Gimme that, Gimme that Smm-a-a-a-ck!" Ala Justin Hawkins. It was truly one of the spookiest things I've ever seen, and now we know why he's such a hippie speed freak with the munchies when Luke Skywalker first meets him on Dagobah.
I really must buy me one of these CALL UPON YODA!s. With its articulate face and life-like skin, it's one of the coolest toys of the year. I'm just a little pissed that he ruined a major character revelation about himself before I could watch Revenge of the Sith.
I'll admit it. I love Star Wars toys. Sometimes, I feel like they're the only things I have to live for. Trust me, I realize that's incredibly sad. And if a girl ever ventured into my apartment, she'd probably run screaming. The place is crammed to the brim with molded pieces of plastic. I should give up the ruse at this unlikely age. It's a juvenile hobby, and it makes me even more of a weirdo than I should be. Hell, I'm comparable to Ed Gein. His skull clutter and human flesh sculptures would probably seem preferable to any prospective dates we as a team could have culled from the local logger bar. "Action Figures or a couch made out of some young girl's ribcage?" She thinks to herself, "Hmm, I think I'll have a seat and tell B. Alan to get out of my face." I know it would play out like that. I do. Depressing, but true.
Ah, who cares? Girls ain't nothing but bird-chirping embodiments of annoyance, and I'd be fooling myself if I believed one would have anything to do with me. I know damn well no member of the opposite sex will ever step into my confined living quarters (unless she's a forensic expert examining my suicide in the bathroom by way of belt over the shower curtain rod). I'm going to keep buying toys (because the touch of a woman's lips would escape me whether I did or not). And I'm going to start with the new line of Sith products, which premiered in isles across America this last Saturday at midnight.
Way back in 1999, I stood in line outside Toys R Us with my brother, J. David Orange, waiting for the Phantom Menace toys to arrive for the first time. That was an exciting stretch for Star Wars fans. We didn't yet know the future pain and torture awaiting us as far as the films were concerned. Didn't matter, though. Most of those toys were pretty damn cool. And fighting that fat, sweaty mob for a minature Jar Jar Binks is a snapshot memory I'll never forget. I can still see it in my mind's eye.
J. David didn't stop at the first display blocking the front door. The one that preoccupied and snagged all the enthusiasts. He knew a larger bounty awaited him at the back of the store. J. tagged me with his fingers, pointing in the direction of the bathroom, "It's a trap!" We hightailed it to the center isle where an untouched treasure awaited us. I barely got a naked C3PO figure off its hook before the stampede arrived. It was like a herd of rhinos, and I've never been shoved as hard in a death metal mosh pit. Suffice it to say, we reigned victorious that night with a reward greater than any we could have possibly imagined. (Thanks, Dave, for having the money in your pocket to cover our plastic habit!) We snagged all the cool toys.
I again went through these same motions three years ago when the Attack of the Clones figures first came out (only this time I had to go it alone). There weren't any midnight unveilings this time around. Instead, the faithful had to wait outside Target at 6 in the morning. The bastards in Burbank forgot to put their shipment of toys out. I remember that vividly, like some masturbatory memory I have to keep going back to. The crowd was enraged. I joined in the screaming, then spent the rest of my daylight hours driving around to every possible toy dealership, accumulating each and every hard to find Jedi and Vehicle.
A few months later, I realized my quest was in vein. Those little polyurethane people cluttering up my living space have never done anything for me.
They don't pay my bills. They don't provide sexual services. They do nothing.
Maybe that's why I felt so disillusioned this past Saturday. Part of me wanted to join in on the midnight fun. But then part of me just didn't care. Seriously. When I die, what's going to become of this mess I've accumulated? I doubt it will bring joy to anyone's face. It'll probably get thrown in the garbage. Stuff is useless, especially a bunch of dumb toys that sit around wasting precious space. Oh, but they look so cool. I was torn, I truly was. Spend money or sleep? I did neither.
Instead of prowling the isles of Toys R Us late last Saturday night, I decided to instead spend the evening partying with Tommy. And getting in a fight at a Mexican bar (Han Solo would have been proud). At least I can take those memories to the grave. Booze or a Jedi Starfighter? The answer rang true in a blender full of ice and energized Rum. We called the concoction: Spare Change…
Still, the next morning, my curiosity got the better of me. Even though I tried to ignore those new toys, I knew they were waiting for me. As soon as I could get myself in that beat-up Tercel, I drove my still-shaky drunk self to both the local Target and the Toys R Us. My only hope was that I'd not reenact the inebriated activities that almost got me thrown in jail the last time I visited a Toy Store hopped up on some off-sort of bronze elixir.
First, though, I had to make a little pit stop. Nothing puts me in the mood for buying action figures more than mowing the lawn. It's the sweet smell of that freshly cut grass and the promise of a five-dollar bill. It works me like a West Covina handjob. Call it a childhood memory. Sadly, I live in a concrete compound, so I had to walk from door to door in a neighborhood I'd never been in, asking if I could cut their grass for nothing more than a couple of bucks. After eight different houses declined my offer, some old lady gave into my whims. I did a bang up job on her riding mower.
I breathed in that fresh, green smell. I took her retirement funds. Then I headed for Target.
Chewbacca with Wookie Rage!
Walking through the Sith displays there was like a wild Christmas morning, spiked with rotten eggnog. I almost couldn't take it all in. The Lava Lights. The Asthmatic Breathing every time I got to close to Vader's face. It was Euphoric in a sense. Sad thing is, nothing really caught my attention right off the bat. I felt like someone else's drunken dad, ready to punch, and kick, and yell, "I hate all you goddamn toys!"
For the first time in my life I didn't buy one new Star Wars figure; that grass mowing money clinched tight in my fist trying hard to draw blood. The disappointment was heavy, and I couldn't lift it past a weak smile. There were a few cool things, but I just couldn't dredge up the enthusiasm I needed to get them to the counter…
Here's what I saw:
The new SITH ACTION FIGURE LINE: Usually, I scoop up at least a dozen of these little suckers. Not this time. Why? Because there's nothing new here. These are the same characters I've already bought a hundred times or more. Both the Phantom Menace and the Attack of the Clones lines were beyond cool, because they contained a lot of Jedi I'd never seen before. This first wave of Sith figures seems incredibly redundant. The packaging is super-awesome. I like that it's molded in the shape of Vader's head. And purple. And Lava-ly. But I can't bring myself to waist money on neat-o bubble cards. The best of the bunch seems to be C3PO and Chewbacca. But, sadly, better character likenesses were rendered for the recent Retro Packaging line that came out last summer. The Sith Sneak Preview figures are better than anything we have here. The General Grievous with 4-saber action is rad, but the sneak still looks more authentic. All of the hand molds are off. They look cheap. The weirdest thing is, every single figure offered was still hanging on a hook. This never happens. With any toy line. I arrived late, the store was empty, and every character is accounted for? That's just wrong. Some dude wandered into the isle while I was standing there. Do you want to know which figures he was frantically searching for? Mon Mothma and Bail Organa. These are two of the most generic, uninteresting, human characters in the catalogue. They're hot items because we've never seen them before. But so what? They're boring playthings. They rate right up there with that bald pilot from the Phantom Menace. And there were always plenty of him hanging on those almost empty hooks back in the day. I will tell you that Darth Vader was absent from shelves at Toys R Us. I guess its cool to have him in Sith Packaging. But the rest of these figures kind of suck. Call it Déjà vu. (my grade: D)
On the smack!
CALL UPON YODA!: He's hands down the best toy offered this year. This thing is insane. It moves like one of those animatronics at Disneyland. And it can do all sorts of crazy stuff. He'll tell you stories. He'll quiz you on Star Wars trivia. He'll answer Yes or No questions just like a Magic 8-Ball. Best of all, he'll share his drug addiction with you. He's like a mini-enabler. At $30, the little green man's a steal. I would have bought CALL UPON YODA!, but frankly, he scared me a little too much. It's bound to give your children nightmares. (A+)
STAR WARS BOARD GAMES: If I had anybody to play them with, I probably would have bought the whole line. These are only second to the talking Yoda in the cool department. For people with friends, they'd make a great purchase. For people like me, they'll just sit in the closet and collect dust. Kind of like the Original Trilogy Trivial Pursuit game my Parents gave me for Christmas some years ago. I've always wanted to play it, but felt a little lame sitting on the floor with it by myself. The damn game is still wrapped in cellophane. This Sith line offers a new Trivial Pursuit game that covers the entire series, from Episodes 1 through 6. It comes with 2 interactive DVDs and it looks like a lot of fun. The new Monopoly game also spans Episodes I through VI. The little metal figurines included are pretty rad. The coolest game is a Clone Trooper version of Risk, where you can choose to be on the side of either the New Republic or the Separatists. There's also a Jedi Lightsaber TV Game that includes one of those little blind balls for swinging at, and a Saga Chess set that comes with articulate character pieces. Oh, and lets not forget about the puzzles. I always love these. I can do them alone. Sadly, the Attack of the Clones Villains puzzle I bought back in 02 is still sitting uncompleted on my coffee table. (A)
STAR WARS VEHICLES: If I had a bigger house, I'd buy each and every one of these suckers. I want to hang them from my ceiling and poke at them with a stick. First up, we have a few smaller action figure accessories that are all worth a few turns behind the couch. They're modified, refortified versions of things we've seen before. The BARC SPEEDER BIKE is a hipper, sleeker version of the original Speeder Bike we saw halfway through Return of the Jedi. It comes with a Barc Trooper that seems to be a clone trooper/biker scout crossbreed. The BOGA with Obi Wan figure is a giant green salamander that Kenobi can ride around on in the bathtub. It's actually kind of dumb looking. I wouldn't buy it. The coolest of these smaller vehicles is a single-rider AT-RT that closely resembles the chicken walkers first seen on Hoth and later utilized to great effect on the forest moon of Endor. (B+)
The bigger spaceships are all kick ass. My favorite is General Grievous' WHEEL BIKE. It's this spinning wheel of death that rolls across the floor and extracts much damage on the carpet and all the lame action figures Hasbro has to offer this time around. The JEDI STARFIGHTERS are also pretty sweet. Anakin's was offered in the recent Sneak Peek line. Obi Wan's is basically the same, except it's dark purple instead of yellow. The DROID Tri-FIGHTER is an early version of the Tie-Fighters seen in Episode IV. And the super awesome ARC-170 is an X-Wing prototype. The weird thing about these ships is that they look like they suffer from reverse evolution. Those in charge of building spacecrafts in the future Star Wars universe must have lost their budget. Quality is not a concern of the impending Empire, I presume? (A+)
ATTACKTIX BATTLE MASTERS: Sorry, I don't get it. At all. What the Hell are these things supposed to be? They're apparently part of some game, but I'm not familiar with it. These are miniature figurines that come with a CD-Rom. I guess you're suppose to play along with the action, or some such sh*t. The character likenesses are pretty lame. I didn't even want to acknowledge them sitting on the shelf. (F)
WEAPONS and ACCESSORIES: Obviously, the best thing seen in this line-up is the DARTH VADER voice changer helmet. Too bad it came out last summer. No surprise there. The new lightsabers are basically the same as before. Anakin's changes color, from red to blue, depending on which side of the force you wish to affiliate yourself with. The Yoda lightsaber has a tutorial that you can activate while playing with it. All three available blasters are updated, repainted versions of things we've already seen. Chewbacca's Bowcaster is now bronze instead of silver, but it's basically the same one that arrived in stores almost seven years ago. The same goes for the Clone Trooper blaster. It's a variation of the one that came out in conjunction with 2002's Attack of the Clones. General Grievous' blaster is the newest model being offered, yet it doesn't look much different than the Clone variation. (C+)
It changes colors!
STAR WARS FORCE BATTLERS: Another set of Dolls I don't quite understand. Maybe I'm not supposed to get it. I was at the Target in Burbank, and some kid that works there walked up and made a big scene about taking the last Darth Vader, right in front of me. He made sure to let me know he already had two of them saved in the back. And he was taking this third, and final, one because he could. I might have bought it. It was kind of neat. But that bitch clerk beat me too it. I thought that was against store policy. I mean, they already let him have two. The Obi Wan and Anakin dolls looked kind of stupid. They're large, bulky action figures that have been constructed for destruction. There supposed to be slammed together and then thrown on the ground. Not really collectables that are meant to sit on a shelf. You know, something to bury in the sandbox in the backyard only to find ten years later. I had to leave all four characters behind. The General Grievous one looks like a retarded robot. (C-)
Toys made for play!
That's it for the time being. Hasbro promises cooler action figures in the near future. Apparently, a lot of the newer characters hold major film spoilers, and that's the reason their not in stores yet. Personally, I think I'm going to collect Sith towels and Pillow Cases this time out. That sounds a bit more fun. Hopefully, they'll release some plastic shampoo bottles with Chewbacca and Grievous heads for caps. One thing I am extremely disappointed in is the fact that there aren't any new Jar Jar Binks toys this time around. What gives? Did he die in-between flicks? I sure hope not. Ahmed Best needs a job.
Now, where's my Sith coloring book? I need a beer and some crayons…