The History Behind Iconic Toys in Netflix’s The Toys That Made Us.

Star Wars toys remain a big draw card for kids and adult collectors.

Every year around early December, it becomes clear that there is that one ‘must have’ toy that needs to under the Christmas tree ready for opening on December 25th. From Furbies to Tamagotchi’s to last years ‘Hatchimals‘ and to this years current fad of ‘LOL Surprise Dolls‘ these toys bring in big money for the toy companies that make and sell them and while hugely popular they may be, they don’t hold the interest or the market nearly as long as some iconic toy lines did in the early 80’s to the mid to late 90’s.

The new Netflix documentary series The Toys That Made Us takes a long hard and sometimes dark look behind a collection of the most iconic toys that helped shape companies like Mattel and Hasbro to what they are today.

The eight episode season one (four episodes are currently live for streaming with the following four to come in early 2018) offers a look at the early stages of mega lines like Barbie, GI Joe, He-Man and Star Wars and the sometimes chaotic and spur of the moment thinking that brought about some of our childhood’s most beloved characters, designs and the brilliant marketing behind these that made these toys still as relevant today as they were when they started out.

Mattel - 2016 New York Toy Fair
Barbie’s origin is explored in depth and it’s quite racy!

Each episode (that runs at about the 45 minute mark) features vintage adverts, interviews with creators, designers and many many others involved with the creation of these toys with each episode (aired so far) showcasing the numerous minds behind these lines and the confusion (or difference of opinion) everyone seems to suffer from on just who should be credited with the creation of these toys.

The next four episodes are scheduled for early 2016 and feature Transformers, Hello Kitty, Star Trek, and LEGO with a second season already in the planning stages though what will be covered is still unknown.

Some suggestions though for season two:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Playmates / 1988 – present.

Original Playmates Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Originating as a comic book series, the action figure line by Playmates featuring four ninja trained turtles and their news reporter friend became a mega hit with kids and saw the company hit gold, releasing countless waves of variations of the four main characters and almost every single side character ever featured in the comics, animated series and live action movies.  Today, mint carded original figures sell for big dollars.

The X-Men: Toybiz / 1991 – 1998


 After acquiring an exclusive license to Marvel Characters in 1993, toy company Toybiz set about releasing the first ever in-depth line of X-men and Marvel action figures that featured everything from 6″ figures to 10″ figures, vehicles, playsets and 12″ fashion dolls.  Characters like Wolverine saw 7 different variations, Storm featured a light up lightning bolt on her chest and so big was the line, lesser known characters like Kylun (who featured *barely* in the pages of X-Men side comic Excalibur) were even produced.

Value in original carded figures remains steady – pending the figure – at around the $20-$40 mark.

Celebrity Dolls: Mego / 1976 to 1978.

8861676521_e88590a1e7In 1976, Mego Corporation saw an opportunity to finally take on the massive Barbie market by producing a line of 12″ celebrity dolls with the first two off the ranks being Sonny and Cher dolls to coincide with their hugely popular Prime Time Variety Show.  The Cher doll featured an incredible 32 piece wardrobe designed by Bob Mackie and became the number one selling doll that year.  Off that success, other dolls including Captain and Tenille, Laverne and Shirley, Dianna Ross, Farrah Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith and Suzanne Somers were all released.  After shifting their focus to electronic toys in the late 70’s to early 80’s Mego filed for Bankruptcy and closed in 1983.

Original boxed Cher dolls, fashions and playsets can fetch anywhere between $60 to $400.

The Toys That Made Us is now streaming on Netflix Australia.


Best of 2017: TV Shows

BETTER THINGS – Pictured: (L-R) Pamela Adlon as Pam, Olivia Edward as Duke). CR: Colleen Hayes/FX

The annual list is back again for another year – the list that only begins to take any real form or shape late in the year once the influx of shows, new and old, have made their way into our homes.

Last years list saw eight of the twelve classed as “new entries” and this year is no different with only two shows managing to hold onto a spot within the coveted top twelve.

That said, if the list went longer than the specific twelve, I don’t know where I could actually stop and find an appropriate cut meaning some shows such as The Walking Dead, American Housewife and Wentworth become glaringly absent.

Honorable Mention: Big Mouth Season 1 [New Entry] – Netflix Australia

Netflix’s new animated comedy Big Mouth is silly, disgusting, funny, shocking and rather awkward too – which is much like the tween characters featured in this outrageous ‘coming of age’ laugh fest.  Underneath all the gross-out jokes and masturbation references though lies a sweet friendship between Andrew (John Mulaney) and Nicky (Nick Kroll) as they both traverse the sweaty, pimply and smelly puberty years.

12: Schitt’s Creek Season 3 [New Entry] – Netflix Australia

Season Three has the Rose’s being contempt with life in Schitt’s Creek – Moira (Catherine O’Hara) has cemented her position on town council, Alexis (Annie Murphy) completes her high school education and David (Dan Levy) opens up his own ’boutique’ store.  Another fantastic season filled with gif worthy quotes.

11: How To Get Away With Murder Season 4 [#7 in 2016] – 7Flix

Laurel (Karla Souza) is trying to solve Wes’ (Alfred Enoch) murder while the rest of the scooby gang have moved, trying to rescue their fledgling legal careers after Annalise (Viola Davis) fired everyone including Bonnie (Liza Wiel).  The mid season finale with heavily pregnant (and bleeding) Laurel trapped in an elevator was one of the most horrifying and traumatizing scenes on television this season.

10: Playing House Season 3 [New Entry] – USA Network

Absent from last years list thanks to a year long absence (Thanks USA Network – wtf?!) Playing House’s third and sadly final season continued along with the shows much loved theme of two best friends being there for one another no matter the circumstance.  Emma’s (Jessica St.Clair) brush with breast cancer was highly emotional along with Maggie’s (Lennon Parham) attempt to dive back into the dating pool.  A wonderful comedy ending on a seriously hilarious high.

09: The Sinner [New Entry] – Netflix Australia – Netflix Australia

The ‘whydunit’ of the year became a surprise hit thanks to stellar performances by leads Jessica Biel and Bill Pullman and the power of word-of-mouth.  A graphic murder, memory loss, sickness and bad memories all play out over eight incredible episodes as we find out why Cora committed murder.

08: Orphan Black Season 5  [New Entry] – SBS

The final season of the sci-fi/clone drama saw the clones pulled apart in an attempt to finally put an end to the Dyad/Castor/Brightborn saga that has played out over the past four seasons.  A surprise return in favorite Delphine (Évelyne Brochu) made many fans happy while star Tatiana Maslany continued to shine in her ability to portray multiple, layered, characters.

07: Greys Anatomy Season 14 [New Entry] – 7Flix

In all honesty, it’s been some time since I have been ‘really’ excited about an episode of Grey’s but the series’ 14th season (currently on a mid season break) has seen a return to form with many characters and their multi-season story arcs all culminating into this fantastic season.  Owen’s (Kevin McKidd) long thought dead sister reappears, Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) wins the long mentioned Harper Avery award and the shows 300th episode brought glimpses of past favorites such as Christina (Sandra Oh), George (T.R Knight) and Izzy (Katherine Heigl) in the form of look-a-likes.

06: Star Trek Discovery Season 1 [New Entry] – Netflix Australia

It has been some time since a “Trek” series was on television (12 years to be precise) and the CBS All Access/Netflix outing is a sleek, flashy, violent and welcome addition to the franchise that, unlike previous Treks, sets its sights firmly on the theme of war against an uprising band of Klingons.  Discovery offers up a perfect mix of battle seriousness and somewhat-kooky characters that the Star Trek series has been known for.

05: Game of Thrones Season 7 [New Entry] – Showcase

Winter is coming, that’s for sure.  A gigantic season that brought about a tense meeting between Cersei (Lena Headey) and Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), the death of Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen), Arya (Maisie Williams) back home to Winterfell, the truth about Jon Snow’s (Kit Harrington) heritage and the white walkers to the north’s door.

04: Better Things Season 2 [#5 in 2016] – FX (USA)

The sixth episode of Better Things’ second season titled Eulogy might just be one of the best episodes of television aired this year and is why it sits number four on this list.  While Sam (Pamela Adlon) was actually quite annoying to watch in this series’ first half (I found her to be quite aggressive and selfish, especially when it came to dating) all that was wiped away with one single heartwarming (and affirming) episode in which Sam, frustrated with her children’s lack of interest in her acting career, forces them to perform a fake eulogy at her fake funeral.

This episode was also the last work for late actor Robert Michael Morris who passed in May this year – his scene with Sam in the bar truly encapsulated a heart weary man who missed out on the best years of his life with one single line “Nobody could be gay until I was too old to have any fun.”

03: Will & Grace Season 9 [New Entry] – STAN

It’s like there wasn’t almost a 20 year break between seasons.  That’s how good Will and Grace’s long wanted return to TV has been.  On point with cutting remarks on quips on current day politics, technology and pop culture, the gay old gang are proving they still have the goods they had many moons ago.

02: Big Little Lies [New Entry] – Showcase

A season that consisted of eight episodes that moved so slowly yet managed to tell so much with each and every episode, Big Little Lies featured an all-star cast including Nicole Kidman, Reece Witherspoon and Alexander Skarsgård and kept us guessing about the big “what happened” and “Whodunit” right up until the final moments.  Good news too – Season two is in the works with Kidman and Witherspoon back for more lies!

01: The Mick Seasons 1 and 2 [New Entry] – Fox8

Crass, rude, violent, bloody, crazy – there’s no one real word to describe The Mick to really hammer in just how un-sitcom this show is other than it’s funny as all get-out.  Saddled with looking after her sisters three children, hustler Mickey (Kaitlin Olson) finds herself adapting to sudden parenthood and living the high life in their mansion all the while trying to not loose her rough and tumble past.

I’ll just let the trailer show what i’m trying to say….


Soul Calibur 6 Is Finally Coming in 2018


Bandai Namco’s popular fighting series Soul Calibur is making a surprise return for a sixth outing due for release in 2018 with the game studio making the announcement during 2017 The Game Awards.

Soul Calibur’s last outing was in 2012 with Soul Calibur V (Playstation 3 and Xbox 360) so for fans, this news has been a long time coming and it’s just in time for the series 20th anniversary.

Watch the reveal trailer below:

Bandai Namco’s weapons-based fighting game series began life as an arcade game called Soul Edge in December 1995 before being ported to the original PlayStation in December 1996 with its sequel –  ‘Soul Calibur’ – releasing in mid-1998.

The 3D fighting game is known for its very smooth game play, crisp graphics and almost endless amount of character customization – all of which are sure to continue with next years Soul Calibur VI.


Netflix’s The Sinner is you new Binge Watch show for the Summer.

Image Credit: USA/Netflix

We’re heading into that “TV lull” time of year where all our favorite weekly must-watch shows head into hiatus during the extended Christmas and New Years break and shows such as The Big Bang Theory and The Simpsons feel like they’re on for three hour stretches, seven days a week.

Thankfully, those with access to Netflix will be able to fill a small portion of the upcoming TV void with this years sleeper hit that has been sweeping social media with talks of praise it’s binge-worthiness.

The Sinner is an 8-episode series starring Jessica Biel (7th Heaven) as downtrodden mother Cora Tannetti who seems to be living a very plain and ordinary life with her husband Mason (Christopher Abbot) and their young son. It’s nothing too exciting but there’s something up with Cora and it feels as though she has succumbed to this monotonous life she is living and has basically checked out.  Moments of silent vacant stares and this need to escape the desperation that is her life.

This all leads her to commit a very public and graphic murder in an unprovoked and very shocking attack that while brief in its moment, is the driving force for the entire series.  The Sinner is not a whodunit but in fact a whydunit (if that is an actual word – and if a murder mystery can be a why and not a who!)

For you see, while we know Cora kills someone, she has no idea why she committed murder as she has no idea who the victim is or what came over her to commit such an act and in what should be an open and shut case for the local police, becomes an obsession for local detective Harry Ambrose (Bill Pullman) who believes that there may be a more dark and sinister reasoning to Cora’s crime.  With his help, the two begin to traverse the twisted and morbid memories of Cora’s strict religious upbringing and subsequent rebellion that led to the driving moment of the series.

Image USA/Netflix

Pullman’s Ambrose leads the eight episodic series’ B story, a telling of his broken relationship with his wife Fay (Kathryn Erbe) and his unusual sexual fetish he explores with local dominatrix Sharon (Meredith Holzman).  While the sad and desperate detective usually plays well as a side story, Amrbose’s damaged relationship with Fay and Sharon don’t actually add anything to the main story and by the end of the series, never really comes to a conclusion or involve itself with Cora’s story line.

When it comes to the stars and their acting within The Sinner, Pullman plays sad lonely cop well with his long graying hair and department store suits.  His unnerving desperation to solve the answers to this case while trying to solve the problems of his marriage culminate in one particular scene where a garden hose cops the brunt of his meltdown.

Having been more known as Mrs.Timberlake for the better part of six years, Beil sheds all former glamour to play the bare faced, red eyed and prison jumpsuit clad Tannetti.  A kind of “where has this version of Beil been?” reaction ensues as the first episode closes.  Equally compelling is Nadia Alexander as Cora’s terminally ill younger sister Phoebe.  The guilt about her ailing health comes flying at Cora not only from her overtly religious mother but from Phoebe herself who uses her illness to manipulate Cora into situations she would have normally avoided.

For most of the series run, with each episode, there’s enough information coming in to keep us just on the edge of figuring out the entire plot but also stringing us back into a void of unknown and if there were ever an award for “best use of binge moments” then The Sinner would surely win for their perfectly timed end of episode cut off that literally leaves you begging for more.

The final two episodes is where everything hits us and while most is all revealed in episode seven, the supposed big shock reveal that happens in episode eight actually doesn’t hold the effect it perhaps was intended to.  Maybe because of who it involves or because even though we have most of the answers by that time, the episode still feels rushed as it tries to tie everything up.

For its binge-worthiness and stellar turn by Jessica Biel, The Sinner get’s an 8/10 from me.

The Sinner is now streaming on Netflix Australia