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Todd McFarlane Builds A Better Future for Building Toys

Tue, 07/08/2014 - 10:17

Todd McFarlane has been an inspiration in comics before he was commanding presence in action figures. I fondly remember growing up with Macfarlane Toys completely changing the way I looked at toys on the shelf. They were a revelation, they were giving characters and detail people couldn’t find anywhere else and threatened to change the landscape of action figure aisles forever.

Now, twenty odd years later McFarlane aims to change the game again, but this time with building toys. The prospect is tantalizing. Lego was always something that I adored growing up and imagining a building toy with McFarlane levels of detail used to be a pipedream. But not anymore, today marks the unveiling of McFarlane Toys Walking Dead building line.

A Toy R Us exclusive line of Walking Dead action figures that can be used to world build the perfect apocalypse and Bloody Disgusting was afforded the incredible opportunity to chat with Todd as to why this line is going to change the building toy game forever.

Bloody Disgusting: I’ve been a big fan of McFarlane Toys for a really long time, I was a member of the collector’s club growing up, and personally believe you changed the action figure market for the better. Why building toys, and why now?

Todd McFarlane: I got into asking the same question that I asked twenty years ago when I used to up and down the action figure aisle “Why can’t this stuff just look cooler?” I wouldn’t buy it, I was this huge sports fan, but I couldn’t bring myself to buy them. The action figures were at best reasonable facsimiles. They weren’t what they were supposed to be. I answered my own simple question with a simple answer. “They can.”

What we did in the last twenty years could have been done twenty years before the start of my company. So now I’ve gone up and down that other aisle filled with construction building blocks, and I’m saying the same thing. I’ve got three kids, we’ve got block all over the place. I’ve taken my kids to the usual places and I appreciate when someone builds a twelve foot Chewbacca. For my eye, the problem with it you’ve got to be further away from it. The closer you are the more it’s just a bunch of blocks. It becomes what I call “bitmapping” everything has this square edge to it.

A couple mature brands came out with building toys, and some of the stuff is an upgrade. It’s still not there. Is it just me or does anyone else notice the proportions on these things are distorted? I spent twenty years trying to do realism. I refuse to accept construction toys without realism. And for me to sell you something it has to look like what I’m selling you. So if I’m going to sell you “Walking Dead” product it better look like it. It’ll just be at a smaller scale. They can’t have big goofy feet that click into place, people’s feet are not that big. We’re not going to have a big 10×10 green plate and call it grass. Why can’t they make it look like grass? The answer is they can, they just choose not to.

Bingo. They’ve now left another opportunity for a guy like me. I’m going to fill the gaps artistically and visually. I don’t get why it can’t look better, and I’m going to prove this year at Christmas time that it can. Period.

BD: Why The Walking Dead for the first sets?

TM: Historically businesses get noticed when they come out with a brand. You’ve got to work to get people to notice original ideas, but this brand is a global phenomenon. We’ll have instant street cred. “The Walking Dead” is perfect for a huge character base, you can buy 100 figures that I could never do in the action figure aisle. I don’t have to be selective. We can do everyone. You could conceivably have 100 humans versus 200 zombies in a two-foot span on the shelf. That’s all the space you’ll need.

Construction toys build environments, and the environments are meaningful in “The Walking Dead.” The prison, Woodbury, The rooftop in Atlanta, Morgan’s place, I can take advantage of these meaningful places.

We’ll have three type of people who support our products. The guys who build it put it on the shelf and think it’s cool. Then we have the person who collects all the figures to build their own zombie horde. Finally we have the people who want to build their own sets, they look at the photos we have on the back of the boxes that showcase bigger scenes and know how much cooler it can look. They’ll be simulating the attacks they witnessed in that area.

We’ll be selling the prison tower and the fence. You could keep the cost down and just have Glenn and a couple zombies. But I’ve gotta tell ya, if you put fifty zombies against that fence, it’s way cooler. You can build the cool army men diorama’s you’ve always dreamed of.

The majority of my pieces are compatible and will swap with any of the competitors blocks. It’s the same block system, if you will that is available to every other competitor. Once I make the silhouette of the shapes I’m looking for, and that’s where the competitors stop. I put another layer on that stuff which is the art.

When I showed the working prototypes people didn’t understand the building block of it. I showed the Governor’s room at just under 300 pieces and people would scoff and say “That’s 300 pieces!” We just built it and put a veneer on it. Once I pulled up the veneers, and they could see the dimples on the blocks everyone gets it.  It’s all blocks we just put a sexy piece on top of it and you get rid of the dimples. It looks cooler, it’s not for mom, and it’s not for seven year olds.

If you’re twenty five years old and you still want to collect building blocks I’ll show you how it’s done.

BD: So it’s Lego you can grow into?

TM: I think in five years I’ll have a whole sub category that people will be buying to build their custom stuff. They can use competitor’s blocks, but if they’re going to put a window they’re going to want a McFarlane window. Why? Because mine’s going to be cooler than theirs. A blocks, a blocks, a block at the end of the day. But it’s the rest of the stuff that’s going to make it shine.

I’m not saying it’s better or worse. I’ll leave that to the consumer. I’m saying it will be cooler, more detailed, and is guaranteed to have more realism. I’ll stand by those three to my death. I’ll let the consumer decide if they want any of that, but nobody can beat me. Nobodies going to make a cooler window or bush than I am.

We’re going to take all the skill we already have, shrink it down and bring it to blocks.

BD: Why the huge interest in world building?

 TM: You can world build with the competitors but mine is going to look cooler. Mature themed brands are doing well “The Walking Dead” is going to fit in well, because it’s going to look mature. No thirty year old is waiting anxiously for a disproportioned figure that looks nothing like what’s on screen. That’s a weird concept for me.

I want my stuff to be exactly like what’s on the screen. I’m not willing to give up reality for the sake of having the brand. The logo is right at the top but everything below the logo is usually wrong. I’m not willing to go that way.

You’ve got to see photos of these things. These things are big and cool. I’m probably biased, but these things turned out better than the vision in my head. We’ve almost got this right out of the gate.

And here’s the press release from McFarlane Toys:

July 8, 2014 – Tempe, AZ – Famed artist and award-winning toy designer Todd McFarlane and McFarlane Toys are unveiling a revolutionary evolution in brick building toys based on television’s most watched drama, AMC’s The Walking Dead. Known as a game-changer for its realistic action figures, including those based on The Walking Dead, McFarlane Toys is adding a new licensed category to the company’s portfolio. The new The Walking Dead toys will extend McFarlane’s high standards of artistic vision, realistic accuracy and incredible detail into the brick building toy aisle alongside of other leading manufacturers. McFarlane Toys’ The Walking Dead building sets and figures will be available this fall only at Toys“R”Us stores nationwide and online at Toysrus.com

The initial McFarlane Toys’ The Walking Dead brick building line will feature realistic sculpts, light-up and shaped features, iconic environments, and dozens of your fan-favorite characters and walkers. Both collectors and fans of the cult phenomenon can literally recreate their favorite scenes with this new highly detailed and realistic The Walking Dead product line.

McFarlane Toys AMC’s The Walking Dead Building Set Images Reveal link

“Twenty years ago I walked into the action figure aisle, saw an artistic void, and asked, can these toys look cooler? The answer was yes, they could, and I’ve survived twenty years next to the big boys creating those artistic toys,” said McFarlane. “Now I’m walking into another aisle with that same question, and the answer is still yes!”

“Will these be the best building sets out there? I’ll leave it up to the consumer to decide,” said McFarlane. But, will it look cooler? Yes. Will it be more detailed? Absolutely. Will it be more realistic? I guarantee it!”

The Walking Dead series one product line will feature building sets, expansion packs, and figure blind bags for consumers to build their own The Walking Dead apocalypse:

The Building Sets: MSRP $9.99-64.99 – Daryl Dixon with Chopper, The Governor’s Room, and Prison Tower with Gate.  Expand your brick building apocalypse with additional figure and accessory packs.

Blind Bag Figures: MSRP $2.99 – Daryl Dixon, Michonne, The Governor, Carl Grimes, Riot Gear Walker, Michonne’s Pet Walker, and Herd Walkers.

Categories: Horror News

Disney’s “Mr. Boogedy” Available On Amazon Instant!

Tue, 07/08/2014 - 10:15

When I was seven, ABC aired a made-for-TV movie called “Mr. Boogedy” – and it scared the living shit out of me. Why? I could’t tell you, especially since the movie has been lost in the sands of time.

Directed by Oz Scott and written by Michael Janover, the 1987 “Mr. Boogedy” starred the great Richard Masur, as well as Mimi Kennedy, in a film where a family finds their new house is haunted by the ghost. It aired as an episode of “The Disney Sunday Movie”.

I guess it was successful enough to warrant a sequel, “Bride of Boogedy,” in which Mr. Boogedy returns, and will not stop until he get his revenge.

Anyways, I haven’t been able to hunt this movie down for quite some time and forgot about it – until Bloody regular Matthew wrote in about it popping up on Amazon Instant! Although it’s not in HD (it was probably on film), you can rent or buy it here. The sequel is also available right here.

Do you guys remember this movie? Was it scary to a small child? How is it now? I’m definitely renting it this weekend.

Categories: Horror News

[TV] Steven Spielberg Talks “Extant” (Video)

Tue, 07/08/2014 - 10:00

In the following video feraturette, Steven Spielberg talks about “Extant,” premiering tomorrow night on CBS, while star Halle Berry explains her jump to television.

In the new series, “Astronaut Molly Woods tries to reconnect with her husband, John, and son, Ethan, after returning from a 13-month solo mission in outer space. Molly’s mystifying experiences in space lead to events that will ultimately change the course of human history.

The series looks to have everything from alien babies to android children.

Categories: Horror News

First ‘Into the Storm’ TV Spot Chases Trouble

Tue, 07/08/2014 - 09:51

New Line Cinema chases trouble in the first TV Spot for Into the Storm, helmed by Final Destination 5‘s by Steven Quale.

In theaters August 8, “In the span of a single day, the town of Silverton is ravaged by an unprecedented onslaught of tornadoes. The entire town is at the mercy of the erratic and deadly cyclones, even as storm trackers predict the worst is yet to come. Most people seek shelter, while others run towards the vortex, testing how far a storm chaser will go for that once-in-a-lifetime shot. Told through the eyes and lenses of professional storm chasers, thrill-seeking amateurs, and courageous townspeople, Into the Storm throws you directly into the eye of the storm to experience Mother Nature at her most extreme.

Richard Armitage, Sarah Wayne Callies, Matt Walsh, Alycia Debnam-Carey, Arlen Escarpeta, Max Deacon, Nathan Kress, Jeremy Sumpter, Kyle Davis, Jon Reep, and Scott Lawrence all star.

Categories: Horror News

[Blu-ray Review] ‘Lake Placid’ Gets the Scream Factory Treatment!

Tue, 07/08/2014 - 09:41

I saw Lake Placid in theaters back in ’99 and haven’t really thought about it since. Being the petulant teenager I was, I couldn’t appreciate the deft blend of horror and comedy David E. Kelley’s script. Older and (a little) wiser, I now appreciate it for the fun, but uneven, little creature feature it is thanks to Scream Factory’s new Blu-ray, which sports a brand new documentary and some fun vintage features. While the comedy bits are pretty spot-on, the horror elements are rather drab and it never feels like a cohesive film.

Lake Placid cuts right to the chase by biting a guy in half within the first two minutes. There’s a mammoth crocodile lurking in a remote lake up in Maine and paleontologist Kelly Scott (Bridget Fonda) reluctantly leaves her New York museum job to investigate. Fish and Game warden Jack Wells (Bill Pullman) and Sheriff Hank Keough (Brendan Gleeson) lead her into the fray. They’re unexpectedly joined by rowdy croc aficionado Hector, play with panache to spare by the Oliver Platt. Once Platt shows up, he pretty much carries the movie. He exchanges heaps of witty banter with Gleeson, while Fonda and Pullman slowly develop a romance, which actually feels totally organic.

There’s a backstory for Fonda that feels really out of place in the film. She’s sent to Maine by her boss, who dumped her the same day. It planted a distrust of men in her, I get that, but it feels like there’s some huge chunks of the story missing.

Following the set-up, Lake Placid sinks into repetitive territory. The whole middle portion is the crew going out on the lake, almost getting eaten, going back to land, and repeating that process. After it’s established that it is in fact a giant crocodile, which happens fairly early on, I have no clue why they keep going out on the water. Why wouldn’t they just stay on land and figure out a way to kill it that didn’t involve almost getting eaten every 10 minutes.

There’s a running gag of Gleeson constantly getting ensnared in traps Platt set in case the croc comes on land. Betty White and her potty mouth are thrown in for some shock value. All of these hijinks are fun and the dialogue is fantastic, but there’s really nothing interesting going on until the climax. The payoff is pretty decent, but doesn’t make up for the drab middle.

The comedy elements are consistent at least, and the relationships between characters are engaging enough to hold interest, but Lake Placid never feels like a cohesive film. Hell at least it’s fun and the crocodile looks amazing (Stan Winston, duh). The animatronic croc looks way better than the CGI one, which appears laughable at times. This was 1999, so I guess all the higher-paid animators were busting their ass on The Phantom Menace or something.

Scream Factory’s new Blu-ray sports a strong 1080p presentation. There’s some minor banding issues in the underwater shots, but other than that there’s nothing to complain about. The film was shot in panorama widescreen and some of the location shots look downright stunning. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is fairly dynamic and defined.

The big special feature is the 30-minute doc, where Pullman and various crew members reminisce. A lot of time is spent talking about the animatronic crocodile and other special effects and it’s all really interesting. What’s also impressive is the enormous set they built for scenes like the climax. They shipped in 80 ft. trees and even constructed a massive water tank. It’s really cool stuff and a blast to watch right after viewing the film. For another interesting bit about the crocodile, check out the test footage, which is about seven minutes of the animatronic moving through the lake.

Also included on the disc is a vintage featurette, which acts as a glorified commercial for the film, and trailers and TV spots.

Categories: Horror News

You’ve Never Heard Dimmu Borgir Like This Before

Tue, 07/08/2014 - 09:00

Norwegian black metal band Dimmu Borgir is known for its horrific visuals and lyrics. But what would happen if someone were to take one of their most apocalyptic tracks and gave it a more…friendly twist? That’s exactly what was done with their track “Puritania” as now there is a Radio Disney version. Nope, not kidding. Head below to hear it and compare it to the original!

Categories: Horror News

‘Attack on Titan’ Meets ‘Pokemon’, Nightmares Ensue

Tue, 07/08/2014 - 09:00

The massively popular anime Attack on Titan is already more than a little twisted and gruesome on its own. Almost every episode brings with it copious amounts of gore, as people are crushed, thrown, torn apart, and eaten alive by gargantuan, soulless humanoids called Titans. Mr. Disgusting even recommended it back in June, after powering through the series over a weekend.

My experience with Attack on Titan was largely the same. A friend, who I often use as my personal anime guru, recommended it to me and after taking his advice I ended up spending an alarming majority of the following week binging on the hugely addictive series whenever I could. It’s a difficult show to take a break from, as each episode tends to end with a massive cliffhanger that leaves you yearning for more.

But the point of this post isn’t to stack more love onto Attack on Titan — which happens to be available, with subtitles, on Netflix Instant — it’s to share with you these nightmarish creations by artist Beth Emery. Below, you’ll discover what happens when you combine these monstrous Titans with cuddly, adorable Pokemon.

I’m so, so sorry.

For more of Beth’s work, check out her gallery.

Categories: Horror News

[Review] ‘Winter of Frozen Dreams’ Forecast is Fair, If Not Dry and Crusty

Tue, 07/08/2014 - 08:57

A quick mention on a film that passed by under the radar a few years back, and landed smack in the middle of a 10-feature DVD collection released this July 2014 called ‘Ice Cold Killers’. If you come across this foster child of the genre, there are a couple of things you should know before approaching it.

Most importantly, Winter of Frozen Dreams (2009) is more of a true crime murder mystery than a horror story. Its based on a real Wisconsin murder case from the late 70′s that uncovered a seedy sex world beneath the surface of an otherwise unaware town. All things considered, it ends up being more of a character study than a murder mystery, because the film fails to answer any of the questions that the entire plot of the story is based upon.

It starts with good, dark, atmospheric intent. But when someone dusts off Keith Carradine as “the detective on his way to retirement before one last case” (*light cigar) and sends him on set (*action!) he flat out kills whatever was generating, with horrid character acting. Suddenly that morose, independent horror vibe shits the bed and reveals itself as something equivalent to a cheesy TV movie of the week.

Thora Birch (American Beauty) is the gem of this 90 minutes, and is very alluring to the eyes as the main subject of this case, Barbara Hoffman – the young, brunette prostitute who was also a high IQ’d Wisconsin bio-chemisty student, maintaining a 3.9 gpa. Her tabloid like murder case in the 1970′s involved two dead men who she had been seeing outside work at ‘the massage parlor’.  Both of them had life insurance policies taken out to her benefit.  Both of the men end up dead as a result of cyanide poisoning, autopsies later revealed.  Barbara Hoffman maintained her innocence, claiming that one of the men (played by Brendon Sexton III) killed the other in a love triangle dispute, and then killed himself.  Regardless of several letters written in his hand just prior to his death, that Barbara had nothing to do with the first man’s demise, when he is found deceased and the policies and cyanide connections are discovered, Barbara Hoffman is arrested and convicted of his murder.  Loop back to the first scene in the film, where she is found guilty.

The film ends with her stating to the court, that she had nothing to do with the crimes for which she was committed.  She remains in prison to this day, where she does not grant interviews, or attempt early release via parole.  Her whole case remains a bit of mystery, as to whether or not she is just assumed guilty of the murders because of her profession.

While it sure is watchable and no less worse than the prime time crap you find on the three TV major stations during the week, it leaves you very confused. Not one lingering question was definitively explained, solved, or put to rest. Other than being good fodder for a women’s focused cable movie network like Hallmark or Lifetime, why tell this story if you have no side to take on what ‘really happened’? WOFD plays it straight to the reputation of its own unsolved mystery, leaving the answers blank for you to fill in on your own, and your curious mind frustrated, grasping for out of reach resolutions.

Perhaps the creepiest factor about this film is the tabloid story about when they shot Thora’s sex scene – the way her father demanded that he be on set when it was filmed. (*shivers…)

For those interested in reading more about the true crime this film is based upon, check this out.

Categories: Horror News