Saturday, November 05, 2011

Of Mice and Magic: The Cartoons #10

In the first nine installments of this series, we looked at silent animated cartoons, ending with Felix the Cat. When sound came along, it spelled the end for Felix, as well as other cartoon characters, but opened the door for many others. Of course, you probably already know that Walt Disney is recognized for making the first sound cartoon, but we need to look at some of his stuff prior to that first, don't we?

Disney's first successful cartoon series was his "Alice" series, featuring a live-action Alice against an animated background! Here's one of them, "Alice Solves The Puzzle." Most of the sound on this was added well after production, I believe.

Disney's second successful cartoon series starred Oswald the Lucky Rabit, which he did for Universal. Here's one of Disney's Oswald cartoons, "Trolley Troubles." As with the Alice cartoon, the sound was added for re-release.

With Oswald being such a success, Disney wanted to spend more money on each cartoon, but when he went to see Charles Mintz, who operated the distribution company, Mintz not only refused to give him more, he also told Disney he'd take Oswald and the key animators away from Disney. Of all the animators working with Disney, only Ub Iwerks stayed loyal. The two of them together came up with Mickey Mouse (Ub designed the early Mouse) and used him in two silent cartoons, "Plane Crazy" and "Gallopin' Gaucho," with little response. Thanks to The Jazz Singer and its success with sound in 1928, Disney decided to look at adding sound to his cartoons, and a test was made with the completed scenes from the third Mickey cartoon, and the test audience responded very strongly. A few months later, the cartoon was completed and released with sound, and it was a sensation. Of course, I'm talking about "Steamboat Willie"!

Geek TV #7.4: The Banana Splits Adventure Hour - Micro-Ventures and Danger Island!

bananasplits_dangerisland1Concept: “Micro-Venture”: Short segments of a “Fantastic Voyage”-type nature.
“Danger Island”: Serial-style adventures in a tropical island group, pitting Prof. Irwin Hayden and his allies against Captain Mu-tan, leader of a modern-day group of pirates.

Total Episodes:“Micro-Venture” 4, “Danger Island” 36

Original Air Dates: 1968-1970

Original Network: NBC

Geek Factor: “Micro-Venture” 5, “Danger Island” 7

Professor Carter (Don Messick): Inventor of a shrinking machine which he uses to help his children explore and experience the world from the perspective of an insect.
Jill Carter (Patsy Garrett): Professor Carter's daughter.
Mike Carter (Tommy Cook): Professor Carter's son.
“Danger Island”
Prof. Irwin Hayden (Frank Aletter): An archaeologist searching for his lost brother.
Lincoln 'Link' Simmons (Jan-Michael Vincent, credited as Michael Vincent): Prof. Hayden's youthful assistant and love interest of Leslie Hayden.
Leslie Hayden (Ronne Troup): The professor's daughter.
Elihu Morgan (Rockne Tarkington): Shipwrecked merchant mariner.
bananasplits_dangerIsland2Chongo (Kim Kahana): Morgan's sidekick who doesn't speak English, and will always respond to the call “Uh-Oh, Chongo!”
Captain Mu-Tan (Victor Eberg): Leader of a bumbling, but heavily armed, modern-day pirates.
Chu (Rodrigo Arrendondo): Captain Mu-Tan's second in command.

Geek Pedigree: Don Messick's career was mentioned before. Kim Kahana's career outside of Danger Island was mostly doing stuntwork, some of which can be seen in “The Omega Man,” “Soylent Green,” The Six Million Dollar Man, and “Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze.” Frank Aletter appeared in bit parts for a number of genre TV shows, and was Mac on It's About Time. Jan Michael Vincent had the title role in “The World's Greatest Athelete,” was Tanner in “Damnation Alley,” and was Stringfellow Hawke in Airwolf. The serial was produced by Richard Donner, who later went on to helm “Superman: The Movie.”

DVD Release: None

Website: None that I could find, although if you want to watch the entire series, you can find it on my old Saturday Morning Superstars blog at
Notes: “Micro-Ventures” were fun, although I thought there were more of them! “Danger Island” was an extremely fun serial, and I know for years after it originally aired, kids were shouting “Uh-oh, Chongo!” all over the place!

Friday, November 04, 2011

Give-A-Show Fridays: Chad Valley 1974 Robin Hood!

Here's the Chad Valley Sliderama Projector Set based on Disney's Robin Hood!

Coming up next: Back to a Kenner item!

Toy of the Week #10: AHI Batcycles!

One of the things that AHI did very well with Batman was to produce some excellent Batcycle toys, and there was a pretty decent variety of them, too! Above, you see a Batcycle that's sort of like Kenner's SSP toys, in which you'd insert a zip cord, then pull it to get the gyroscopic wheel spinning, and then let it go!

This "Zoomcycle" was another variation it seems, save that this one used a battery-powered gadget to impart the speed into the gyro!

Here's their remote-controlled Batcycle, and you can see that the Batman figure doesn't look real great, but I doubt the kids complained much! Below is what the cycle looked like without the Batman figure (and I think another piece or two is missing as well):

This one I could've sworn I had a photo of on the card, it's the Batman Stunt Cycle, which used a friction motor process. They also did some of these with the Batman villains, like the Joker:

The last of the AHI Batcycles we're looking at is the "Lil Zips" version, easily the smallest Batcycle AHI made, and as you can see from the card, it's a pull back and let go motored version.

One of the problems with trying to find these toys on eBay is that not every seller lists them as being AHI Batcycles... and some will say "Batcycle" and some will say "Batman Motorcycle." But to help you try to find them, here's a one search you could try, and here's another. Both of those searches will give you results that aren't AHI Batcycles, but if they're being offered currently, one of those will do it!

So... which of these are your favorite?

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Cool Stuff: Batman Stuff!

Yes, we're in the midst of a whole slew of Batman merchandise, beginning with the above poster, produced and distributed outside of the USA!

The Indexible Hulk #10

Avengers 003Issue: Avengers #3

Title: “The Avengers Meet... Sub-Mariner!”

Credits: Written by Stan Lee, Illustrated by Jack Kirby, Inked by Paul Reinman, Lettered by Sam Rosen.

Supporting Cast: Rick Jones

Villain: The Hulk and Sub-Mariner

Hulk Intelligence: Average Intelligence, Bullying Mentality

Guest-Stars: The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, X-Men (all cameos)

Plot: At the monthly Avengers meeting, Iron Man insists that they must find the Hulk. He attempts to use Tony Stark's Image Projector, sending an image (with sound) of himself to the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and the X-Men in search of leads to the Hulk's whereabouts, but comes up empty. Then it occurs to Thor that they contact Rick Jones, and do so via short-wave radio. Rick starts searching, and finds Greenskin in half an hour, where the Hulk is pulling a jeep out of a lake (the driver drove it in there, having been scared of the Hulk). Rick talks the Hulk into going to the hidden cave lab, where Rick uses Banner's Gamma Ray machine to turn the Hulk back to Banner, which leaves Banner weakened. Rick stands vigil outside of Bruce's bedroom in the lab in case Bruce changes back to the Hulk, but Bruce can't sleep, tossing and turning in bed. Finally he transforms back to the Hulk (Banner reasoned that Rick didn't give him a strong enough dose – but that feels like a cop-out). The Hulk bursts out and takes off, and Rick heads to the Teen Brigade's nearest location and calls on the Avengers for help. Alerted, Iron Man, Ant-Man and the Wasp, and Thor all head to the scene in their own ways. Iron Man is the first to arrive, spotting Rick, who's trying to wave Iron Man off. Shellhead finds out why quickly, as the Hulk is hiding in wait, slamming the Golden Avenger with a massive fist. Iron Man adjusts his repulsers and uses them to bast a bunch of boulders at the Hulk. In response, the Hulk grabs a cactus and starts squeezing it, sending thousands of needles at Iron Man (the Hulk figures one may get in through an opening of the suit). Ant-Man and the Wasp arrive next, and they contact local ants, ordering them to block a fast-rushing underground stream, which then runs upward, causing the ground to crumble beneath the Hulk! This puts the Hulk on the defensive, and Iron Man engages him to push the advantage as Thor arrives. The Hulk then tricks Thor and Iron Man into flying upward at great speed, while he himself crashes under the ground into an abandoned mine shaft, which he escapes through, hopping a ride on a passing train. Thor and Iron Man spot him, however, and the Hulk tosses the caboose at them. Thor smashes it with his hammer, and the fight begins anew, as the Hulk wraps up Thor in a cable, and knocks Iron Man aside with a crane. When Giant-Man makes his way to the Hulk, the Hulk grabs some sacks of flower and dumps them into the smokestack of the train, creating a smokescreen so that Giant-Man doesn't see the oncoming tunnel, which knocks him off the train and stuns him. When the Avengers recover, the Hulk is gone. The search for the Hulk continues as he makes his way to the Gulf Stream and into the Atlantic Ocean, where he makes his way onto a passing ship. Meanwhile, beneath the waves, the Sub-Mariner is watching all this! The Hulk, shortly, spots a small deserted island and leaves the ship to make for it. The Sub-Mariner is waiting for him, and his attitude causes the two of them to start fighting in the time-honored Marvel tradition. Eventually, Namor tricks the Hulk into getting into the water, where Namor's strength is replenished, and Namor makes his point that the Hulk is strongest of the land creatures, he is the strongest in the sea, and they both hate the human race. The Hulk agrees to team up with Namor, and they agree their first target shall be The Avengers! The alliance is already shaky, however, as both plot agains t the other. Later, the duo arrive at Gibraltar, and send a message challenging the Avengers to battle. The Avengers head to the sea in a submarine invented by Tony Stark, and arrive on the scene where they are attacked by cannon fire from vintage WWII weapons operated by the Hulk and Namor. Thor's hammer makes short work of the weapon, but then an emery dust pellet is launched at Iron Man, which will cause his metal joints to stiffen. Giant-Man tries to help Iron Man, while sending the Wasp to search for oxygen equipment. Thor, meanwhile, throws his hammer again, which ricochets from wall to wall, holding the Hulk and Namor back long enough for the Wasp to bring Giant-Man some oxygen equipment, which Giant-Man uses to pump out the emery dust. Meanwhile, the Wasp is trailing Namor and the Hulk (who is itching to attack, since Namor's been doing everything so far). The Hulk slams a wall with his fist, inadvertently stunning the Wasp, who falls to the cave floor. Thor, Iron Man, and Giant-Man arrive on the scene and almost step on the fallen Wasp, but she found a crack in the ground to hide in, and then hatches a ride on Giant-Man's shoulder. Above the Avengers, Namor prepares to fire a modified air raid siren, which will destroy any living being who comes too close. However, the Avengers arrive from the rear, and Namor doesn't get a chance to use his weapon. Namor attacks Giant-Man first, who throws Namor to Iron Man. Iron Man gets punched by Namor hard enough to damage his armor, and then Namor attacks Thor. The Hulk steps in here, to aid Namor in taking down Thor, and then tries to take Thor's hammer away. Of course, no matter how strong the Hulk is, he's not worthy, and can't move it! Namor insists that he'll be able to get the hammer, and while he makes the attempt, Giant-Man grabs him. Suddenly, the Hulk changes back to Bruce Banner again (Banner blames the stress of the situation) and flees! Giant-Man is able to hold Namor because Namor's been out of the water too long, while Thor plans to find the Hulk again. But Namor makes a desperate move and breaks free of Giant-Man's grip, and even though he's then held against a rock wall by Iron Man's repulser ray, all is not lost for Namor, as he presses back against the rock wall, breaking through to the water beyond and escaping. Thor decides to let Namor go because his valor has earned his escape, and the Avengers decide to head for home.

Invention Exchange: Tony Stark's Image Projector, Tony Star's experimental prototype model of a new deep-see jet bathyscaph, Emery Dust Pellet (did Namor invent this?), Namor-modified air raid alarm (converted to a kind of sonic cannon).

Reprinted In: Marvel Super-Heroes #21, Marvel Masterworks #4, Marvel Masterworks: The Avengers #1, Avengers Classic #3, Essential Avengers #1, Avengers: Assemble (Family Dollar exclusive).

Notes: This is not only the first appearance of Bruce Banner in The Avengers, but also the first mention of him here at all! Don Blake, alter ego of Thor, also appears in this issue. Already, there's indications that the transformation between Bruce and the Hulk isn't always intentional. In the next issue of The Avengers, Namor's temper causes him to throw a frozen “corpse” embedded in a block of ice into the water, which the Avengers recover en route to New York, only to find the frozen figure is Captain America, and he wasn't dead, just in suspended animation! By the way, I really think I should use this opportunity to say something: I think Marvel Comics was incredibly stupid to not include Fantastic Four #12, Avengers #1-3, and Fantastic Four #25 & 26 in Essential Incredible Hulk Vol. 1... especially since it makes it easier to see what happened to the Hulk between the last issue of his first series and the first issue of his Tales to Astonish appearances! Oh, I should also mention that this issue was the basis for a What If--? issue in which the Avengers break up after the Hulk quits, and when Hulk and Namor team up, Tony Star builds armor for Rick, Giant-Man, and the Wasp to fight them.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Comic Book Advertisements!

Isn't it good to know that some series of posts here aren't numbered? Of course, those are the series that I've been doing forever and don't want to go back and retroactively number them...
Here's an ad from issue #2 of Gold Key's Hanna-Barbera Fun-In, and it goes to show you know the manufacturers of Flintstones Vitamins were really smart... this one doesn't even require you to buy the vitamins to get the special offer (although I would be willing to bet there'd be coupons for the vitamins in the package when the mugs arrive)!

House of Hammer #3


Tuesday, November 01, 2011

CBT: 1968 Disneyland Coloring Book, Part 2!

You may recall that last week, we left off with the two kids and Mickey Mouse approaching It's a Small World at Disneyland!
Last week, I think I wrote about how the cover of this book made it seem like the kids were really interacting with the Pirates of the Caribbean, but it turned out they weren't... that actually happens in this half!

Kirby Kovers #9

First up this week on Kirby Kovers is Strange Tales #72, with the robot called the Colossus! This is a great cover, from the design of the gigantic robot (except, perhaps, the coloring, but I'd imagine Kirby didn't pick the palatte), the detail of the water pouring out from between the joints... even the inking is outstanding, with a lighter touch on the background than on the Colossus, drawing your attention right to it! One can almost imagine that as soon as it puts its foot on that dock, the dock will give way due to the extreme weight!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Countdown to Halloween: Monster Monday!

And appropriately enough, the last Monster Monday of the month is on Halloween itself!
And we begin with a trio of stills from Destroy All Monsters!

Dog of the Geek: Butler!

butlerBreed: Great Dane

Original Appearances: Star Trek Generations (1994)

Other Appearances: None that I'm aware of.

Biography: In the year 2293, James T. Kirk is lost and presumed dead when the Enterprise-B is exposed to a strange energy ribbon (the Nexus). In 2371, Captain Jean-Luc Picard also enters the Nexus with Dr. Tolian Soran. Within the nexus, Picard meets Kirk, who has Butler, horses, and Antonia. Picard convinces Kirk that this is not real, and the two Enterprise captains battle and defeat Soran. According to an article on the Star Trek website, the real Butler had died in 2286. Since Kirk had been long retired at the time he disappeared into the Nexus, presumably Kirk acquired Butler after retiring.

Powers: None

Group Affiliation: None

Miscellaneous: One would presume that the cabin and Antonia both came from Kirk's past as well, brought to “life” by the Nexus.