Tag Archives: Season One

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

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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.

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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

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 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.

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Top Pick on Netflix Australia: The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

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Now that Netflix has officially launched in Australia, I need to note my top pick for new content that is a must watch for any subscriber.

Located in the US TV category is a sweet yet not so sweet comedy called The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.  Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) is discovering what modern life is like for the first time after being freed from a cult – a cult that lived in an underground bunker where Kimmy and 3 other women were being held hostage for 15 years (they had been told the world had pretty much blown up).  It’s a rather macabre premise for a show – especially a comedy.

Wanting to steer clear of the ‘Indiana mole women’ tag Kimmy and her fellow cult devotee’s have been so kindly given, Kimmy decides to make a break and start her life in New York City and in what seems like record time, Kimmy manages to find an apartment with a roommate in Titus (Tituss Burgess) and a job as a             co-dependent for wealthy socialite Jacqueline Voorhees (Jane Krakowski).

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Kimmy adjusts to modern terms….

Kimmy’s sudden burst into the modern world and her adjustment to this new life away from the bunker provide the base story point for the season and the comedy revolving around dated slang versus modern technology.

As Kimmy, Kemper is perfection.  The doe eyed, clueless optimist plays well with Kemper (the role was created with her in mind) who breathes innocence into a woman not wanting to be seen as a victim.  her incessant happiness should be annoying but in Kempers hands, her sweet temperament  comes off a somewhat adorable.  Krakowski on the hand is my favorite. As the perfect image at any desperate cost (foot surgery and all), Jacqueline could be considered to be an older version of Krakowski’s other alter ego (30 Rock’s Jenna Maroney) but it’s easy enough to over-look it with the amount of fantastic one liners she constantly spews out.  Jacqueline is the kind of woman you hope doesn’t exist yet you know she does.

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The brains trust behind Kimmy Schmidt is of course Tina Fey and 30 Rock producer Robert Carlock.  The two working together have created a show that has a familiar feel to it (30 Rock fans should be all over this) but is so separate from the creators roots, new viewers should stick around.

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, complete season one is available on Netflix Australia.

Gillian Anderson’s Crisis Comes to ONE on Wednesdays

Crisis stars Rachel Taylor and Gillian Anderson.  Source: Provided
Crisis stars Rachel Taylor and Gillian Anderson. Source: Provided

The Gillian Anderson/Rachel Taylor led political drama Crisis, has been given an Australian premiere date and channel move with Network Ten opting to air the drama on it’s digital channel ONE right after the Commonwealth Games has finished.

Crisis, set in Washington D.C, follows the students at Ballard High School which educates the children of the powerful – International diplomats, Elite CEOs and even the President’s son but disaster strikes when, on a field trip, the bus, teachers and children are taken hostage leaving the powerful and influential at the mercy of the kidnappers.

Like most, I’m a sucker for a great plot twist and Crisis offers up quite a few in the first episode – don’t worry, no spoilers here – and add that with a barreling pace and a cast full of familiar faces (Aussie darling Rachel Taylor, Gillian Anderson, Dermot Mulroney – to name a few) and the handful of episodes available for preview to me, were enough to keep me somewhat intrigued to see more.

While Crisis’ take on the kidnapping/political genre is fresh, the ample amount of plot twists and and story pace seemed to negate any form of character development and character credibility that I found Crisis falling into the same trap that swallowed up similar shows such as Hostages – you find yourself at a point not being able to remember names, traits or even really care about them.  This could be why Crisis was pulled off air only half way through it’s premier season in America.

When it comes to the cast, while i’m still a fanboy from her X-Files days, as a corporate CEO negotiating a family crisis, Anderson’s ability to flawlessly elevate every single scene she’s in is still as strong as her days spent at Agent Dana Scully chasing little green men.  This doesn’t bode well for Rachel Taylor (playing an FBI Agent on the case to find the missing children) who is easily out-acted by the many scenes she shares with Anderson.

Who kidnapped these children?  What do they want with them? Will anyone die?  Catch the premiere episode of Crisis starting Wednesday, August 6th, 8:30pm on ONE.