Archive for January 22nd, 2009

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Star Trek: The Next Generation … of toys

January 22, 2009

USA Today has unveiled the new Playmates toys being launched this year to accompany this spring’s Star Trek movie release. So you might as well consider this an advance look at everything I will be buying this year for my kids … yeah, for my kids, honest.

The new toys include:

  • A series of 12-inch figures (above)
  • A series of 6-inch figures, more like the 1990s versions
  • A series of 3 3/4-inch figures
  • Playsets, including the first full bridge playset since the 1970s, scaled for the smallest of the figures
  • Communicators, phasers and tricorders
  • The Enterprise, a 14-inch electronic model

Other companies have new product on the way, including Mattel’s Trek Barbies and a series of radio-controlled flying starships from Tyco.

Here’s a slide show at the USA Today site.

The new toys hit stores April 19.

I was sort of okay with the first six-inch figure  revealed last week, but it looked a little cartoony for my tastes. That hearkened back to the mid-90s Playmates Next Gen figures, which had the same chunky look. From what I see here of the 12-inch figures, well, that’s a little better. Hard to tell in the small photo, though. And we haven’t seen enough of the small figure line. Those are aimed more at kids than collectors; I know my kids will love them. Well, I hope they will. I have to get these kids into Trek somehow …

The toy I await most eagerly is the four-foot flying electronic R/C Enterprise. I live in a huge hay field, with plenty of open sky. I suspect a Starship may be orbiting my house in the near future …

All in all, though, nothing beats those old Mego figures. Replica reissues are available — including a new Space Seed Khan figure — but the originals were the best ever made. You can see them here.

(This is the only blog in the world where you can read about toys, classic documentaries and racist morons on the same day)

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Watchmen: In The News

January 22, 2009
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Free Films from Canada’s Finest

January 22, 2009

The National Film Board, Canada’s, uh, national film board, has decided to make its archive available free, online.

This is amazing news. NFB documentaries formed a major cornerstone of my journalism education, as we picked them apart to look at how reporting in this country had evolved through the 1950s, 60s and 70s. A lot of them are very serious. A lot of them are very fun. And at least one, Norman McLaren’s Neighbours (1952), is a pioneering piece of cinema.

NFB chairman Tom Perlutter told reporters yesterday that the general public has a hard time seeing NFB films — they tend to turn up on late-night TV, or in obscure theatres. The whole point of making these movies, he argues, is that they be seen. And he’s right. You won’t find them in Blockbuster, but man, over the past 70 years the NFB has made many films that deserve to be seen.

And not just by Canadians, although more Canadians should see them. People around the world need to experience these films to get a better idea of Canada and Canadians. They are our identity on celluloid, our legacy.

Here are some of my favourite NFB films:

  • Neighbours: I can’t describe it. You have to watch it.
  • High Steel: From 1965, this documentary short takes you up skeletal skyscrapers to meet the Mohawk workers who specialized in one of the most dangerous jobs in the world.
  • The Big Snit: A fun animated short. This gets played all the time on TV here when a movie ends with a few minutes to spare before Growing Pains reruns.
  • Beaver Family: A Grey Owl documentary from 1929. No sign of Pierce Brosnan. This is a silent film, which makes it all the more poignant.
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