Tag Archives: Series

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.

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

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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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Series Review: Scream Queens

Emma Roberts as Kappa Kappa Tau leader Chanel No.1.  Source: Network 10
Emma Roberts as Kappa Kappa Tau leader Chanel No.1.                                                      Source: Steve Dietl/Network 10

When you hear the name ‘Ryan Murphy’ and it’s attached to a new project, viewers these days tend to lean towards one of two ways – either the Glee side or the American Horror Story side.  Both brought to us by the mind of Murphy and so vastly different in their approach but so alike in their delivery and cult standing, it’s hard not to wonder which way Murphy’s newest project, Scream Queens was going to end up.

Oddly enough, even I had trouble placing this slasher series…ending up somewhere between Glee but closer towards AHS. While sharing more than a few Murphy project-related faces, Scream Queens takes it’s shine to a more comedic gross out presentation so think Glee with no singing and AHS with fewer tense and dark dramatic moments.

So what’s to expect with Scream Queens?  Well the series opens in a flashback to 1995 at a kicking party at Kappa Kappa Tau where “Don’t go chasing waterfalls….” is on blast, alcohol is flowing, there’s lots of long blonde hair…and a co-ed mysteriously dies…..after giving birth. Cut to present time and Kappa Kappa Tau has turned into Clueless on Mean Girl steroids where head sorority sister Chanel No.1 (Emma Roberts) has such a standing within the sorority (basically she’s a right mean bitch) that she has three mini-me minions who have all shed their birth names in favor of being named Chanel No.2, Chanel No.3 and Chanel No.5 (apparently no one knows what happened to Chanel No.4)

Chanel No.1’s life plans are in play but things take a nasty turn when sorority hating Dean Cathy Munsch (Jamie-Lee Curtis) shows up (she enforces Chanel to open up Kappa Kappa Tau to the entire community “even fatties”) and someone in a crisp red devil mask starts killing off those close to her and her sorority.

Of course, Scream Queens will be likened to MTV’s recent (and not so good) Scream series but fear not, the two are not alike.  While they may share a masked killer and a victim-of-the-week familiarity, Scream Queens isn’t aiming for emotional deaths, instead optiong to invest you in the bloodshed, and compared to it’s namesake, Scream Queens offers a lot of it…like bucket loads.  Not for the squeamish is an appropriate tagline one would assume after seeing the first two episodes.

Between awkward politically incorrect exchanges between sorority sister and maid, standardized stereotyping, pop culture bitchiness and floods of blood, Scream Queens opens itself to be a true entry into redefining what slasher entertainment used to be.

Starring Emma Roberts, Jamie-Lee Curtis, Ariana Grande, Nick Jonas, Lea Michelle, Abigail Breslin, Billie Lourd and Skyler Samuels.

Scream Queens premiere’s tonight, Network 10 at 9:15pm with the second episode airing directly after at 10:20pm on Eleven which will be the show’s permanent home.

The Return of The X-Files? FOX Says Yes!

Anderson and Duchovny could return to their famous alter-egos!
Anderson and Duchovny could return to their famous alter-egos!

Thanks to the success of 24’s limited run reboot last year, FOX have begun to look at other favorite shows from their back catalog that could also do with a comeback including one small show about little green men.

Fox TV Group chairman Gary Newman has confirmed that talks have begun to look at bringing back sci-fi hit The X-Files starring David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson – who apparently are all interested in revisiting the characters that kick started their careers (X-Files creator Chris Carter included!)  Another Fox TV Group chairman, Dana Walden, also confirmed that if and when the reboot was to happen, it will be with it’s two main leads in Duchovny and Anderson but was quick to state that no ‘creative’ talks have taken place.

With David prepping for his new series Aquarius and Gillian working in the UK (The Fall) and on the new series of Hannibal timing will be the biggest player in ensuring the project would have any chance to move forward.

The news comes off the back of whispers of a possible limited reboot for Prison Break, but FOX have stated they were in fact, just whispers….for now.

The X-Files became an instant cult classic when it premiered back in 1993, running for more than 200 episodes over nine seasons before ending in 2002.

IWhat do you think?  Would the X-Files work in a limited series format like 24?  Sound off in the comments below!