Tag Archives: star wars

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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Treasure Trove of Vintage Toys go Under the Hammer

Princess Leia, R5-D4 and Klaatu carded figures sold for £260
Princess Leia, R5-D4 and Klaatu carded figures sold for £260

It’s literally ever vintage toy collectors dream….busting into an old abandoned building and finding a gold mine of untouched goods, and that’s literally what happened back in May this year when the old, abandoned and boarded up building that once contained the Frank Beech Toy Shop in North Wales was opened up to find literally thousands of vintage collectible star wars, barbies, action man and GI Joe toys from brands like Hasbro and Palitoy.

The toy shop, which opened 70 years ago (the 1940’s), closed it’s doors in 1999, was boarded up and remained as such, filled with thousands of dollars worth of stock, until earlier this year when discovered by Vectis Auction House who went in to pack up whatever had been left behind when the store closed it’s doors 16 years prior.  Vectis were able to recover 120 pallets of boxed collectible figures, toys, cars, board games and dolls that would make every collector wish they had been the ones to find it.

The auctions, which have been split over a total of nine auctions, are continuing (part four ran last Wednesday October 21st) and are seeing collectors from all over the world from London to USA and to Australia, take part and bid on hard to find and elusive vintage items, most of which are still mint on card or still sealed in original shipper boxes.

Check out some of the items below from parts 3 and 4 actions.

The first auction back in April 2015 only represented about 10% of the items available and raked in over £58,500 pounds with auctions two through four hitting the same amount leaving most expecting the total sale to hit nearly half a million pounds.  One collector paid £200 for four empty cardboard boxes covered in pigeon droppings because they had labels on from manufacturer Palitoy indicating they once contained Star Wars toys.  Speaking with The Daily Post, John Cathrall, a cataloguer with Stockton-on-Tees auctioneers Vectis Auctions, said  “They used to have Star Wars (toys) in them so people wanted them but they were absolutely awful!  The highlight was that we got someone who came all the way from Holywell just to buy two or three lots because it was his childhood Christmas shop.  He wanted to take some back, that’s what we want to see happen with the toys – we want to see them go back to good homes.”

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The empty cardboard boxes that fetched £200 in the Frank Beech Toy Shop auction

The auction house says many of the Frank Beech Toy Shop’s most collectible items were brought back first and are “buried deep” in their warehouse and are most likely to feature in the final auctions.  Mr Cathrall added: “There was a heck of a lot of Star Wars grabbed on that (first) trip!

Dates are yet to be announced for the rest of the remaining five auctions.

Hands On Look at Star Wars Battlefront: The Good and The Dark Side

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Just one of the many randomly generated characters in the STAR WARS™ Battlefront™ Beta

Star Wars fans unite as the playable beta for the soon-to-be-released Battlefront game is now open for play and it’s FREE for all PS4, Xbox1 and PC users!  While I may not be the biggest star wars fan, I am fond of the series and what it has to offer to both cinemas and gaming and by the looks of it, both are set to make a big impact on fans.

The free playable beta straight up offers three modes of play – a ‘survival’ mode on tatooine that can either be played solo or with a friend in co-op that has you as a rebel fighter going up against hoards of storm troopers, shock troopers and AT-TE’s.  There’s also two multiplayer modes open for play with ‘drop zone’ that is basically a zone wars game and the larger scale ‘walker assault’ which pits rebel soldiers against storm troopers, AT-AT’s, player controlled tie fighters, Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader.

Of the three game modes, it’s the ‘walker assault’ that’s the biggest draw card showcasing a ridiculously large free-roam map with a total of 40 players within a single game.  For the most part, I found myself splitting my time between the two multiplayer maps enjoying both game modes equally.

That said, the beta is not without it’s problems even though the game will appeal to both star wars fans and first person shooter fans.

THE GOOD

*The graphics are just insane.  Like crazy insane.  The snowy, rocky landscape featured in Hoth’s ‘walker attack’ is crisp and lush and textured while the reddish and brooding terrain on Sullust in ‘drop zone’ is equally stunning.  From steaming sinkholes to snow capped mountains, DICE have truly created a beautiful looking game.  Even when in a 20v20 game of Walker Attack, everything is incredibly detailed and sparse and visual.

*Game play is incredibly smooth.  All three game modes available, while mostly standardized within multiplayer games, feel new and fresh and make use of the entire map.  Weapons don’t feel over powered and the bonus cycler rifle is a personal favorite weapon.

*Servers ran well and so far have had no issue with getting kicked out of a game, lagging or even finding a game.  Even the ability to join friends in the same lobby was pretty pain free thanks to the size of the games.

*The multiplayer hub is a neat idea that allows users -while waiting for a game to start – to customize either their star card hands (more on that later) choose their weapons or customize their player without the worry of being ported into a starting game without saving any changes.  Once ready, you can then jump straight into the game and continue on the fight for good…or evil, though don’t linger for too long as there is a limit of being idle before being booted from the server.

*Customization, while not a feature in the beta, will be open upon the games full release and will include male and female characters.  Storm trooper customization will be limited (no pink and purple storm troopers in this game!) but there is an option to remove the helmet and customize your players head/face.  Rebel soldier customization will be more generous in what it has to offer.

*The game feels like it’s Star Wars.  And in general, that’s what fans want.  Battlefront doesn’t feel like a rip-off or even sub-par, it feels like what we’ve known and loved for all these years.

STAR WARS™ Battlefront™ Multiplayer lobby
STAR WARS™ Battlefront™ Multiplayer lobby

THE BAD

*The Star Cards your player holds ultimately decide what ‘accessories’ your player holds.  From thermal detonators to sniper rifles to jump packs, each one offers the ability to change up game play.  The downside is that at any given time, you can only hold two cards, though I’ve seen some players with three, and it feels limiting to what you can allow your character to start with.

*The blasters are a great addition to the game and the four available in the beta flow across both troopers and rebel soldiers – but, there are no options for add-ons.  No scopes, no grenades, no quick-cool-down feature.  I guess this would keep things pretty even between teams but once again, feels limiting to what one could do when the game starts.

*Walker Attack is a fantastic game mode – when you’re selected to play on the side of the empire.  The only major downside of this mode is that it’s so one sided with the rebels attempting to outrun the empire and their AT-AT’s and AT-ST’s to stop the assault with coordinated airstrikes via controlled satellites that of the 15 or so games I played, the rebels won just once.

For any damage to be done to the massive AT-AT’s, the rebels must control two uplink points at once to call in a friendly attack but when it’s rebels vs empire troopers and walker vehicles…it all becomes too difficult and one sided.

*Spawning, as per the norm, was a nightmare.  With such massive maps, getting killed only to respawn literally in the middle on nowhere kills the momentum, especially when you have to run to the opposite side of the map just to catch up with other players who found themselves in the same situation.  The flip side is finding the enemy spawning directly behind or even beside you in random sporadic moments of wtf?!.

For what’s on offer in the beta, Battlefront actually impressed me to a point where i’m actually excited to see the whole game once it’s released and finally make the decision to add it to my list of pre-orders.  For EA and DICE, I think they achieved what they set out to make – a game that feels true to the Star Wars status.

EA Confirms Star Wars Battlefront Customization

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It wasn’t that long ago that I wrote about EA’s announcement to bring out a new installment to the Star Wars Battlefront franchise with a proposed release date but actual game play footage and information was pretty scarce….until now.

One game aspect that always sits well with me is character customization (the detailed the better) and EA, via their official twitter have confirmed that indeed, character customization will be included in the new Battlefront game – well sort of..

Just how in-depth will customization be?  Are we talking pre-determined heads with set features and hair or editable bases that will allow us to create our own character to our own liking?  In the Battlefront reveal trailer, DICE showcased a total of three races: “Ishi Tib, Sullustan and Human Rebels”, and it’s expected all of these will come under this “Character Heads” customization option.

Are you excited for Battlefront and what options it brings?  Sound off in the comments below!

Star Wars Battlefront Release Date Announced

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The newest installment of  Star Wars Battlefront has gotten a lot of people (myself included) very excited.  Since it’s announcement at the Electronic Arts’ E3 back in 2013 by EA Dice, we’ve all been salivating at the luscious movie-like graphics with each and every teaser reveal.

Now, finally, we have a release date here in Australia.

This third Star Wars Battlefront release (the first by Dice) will be officially released November 19th (perfect timing to coincide with the new Star Wars The Force Awakens movie) with pre-orders now underway with EBgames and other gaming outlets.  And while it’s no new news, ps3 users are being bypassed with this game in favor of PC, PlaySation 4 and Xbox One owners.

Star Wars Battlefront is shaping up to be one of this years most anticipated games with key features including the ability to visit classic planets from the original Star Wars™ trilogy, detailed with an unprecedented amount of realism and sense of authenticity that will transport you to a galaxy far, far away.  Experience amazing digital replicas of the original Star Wars movie models, brought to lifelike fidelity by DICE’s use of photogrammetry technology

Players can engage in epic battles on iconic planets including Hoth, Endor, and Tatooine. Also, bring the fight to the previously unexplored planet, Sullust.  Pilot a diverse set of ground-based vehicles including nimble speeder bikes, massive AT-ATs, and more.  Play as some of the most memorable characters in the Star Wars universe including Darth Vader and Boba Fett and encounter a variety of beloved characters from the original trilogy such as     C-3PO and R2-D2

While no actual game play footage has been made available, the stunning reveal trailer below shows what fans can expect when the game drops.

 Star Wars Battlefront releases here November 19th 2015.