Well, folks, we are officially into the first week of 2016 and nothing too exciting has happened just yet. Unfortunately, in 2015, there were no real Hoverboards or flying cars to be bought but it wasn't all bad because my Amazin' Mets actually were in the World Series. One thing AFJ members can agree on as far as what was the hottest item of the year that Doc & Marty traveled to Back to the Future II was that POP! VINYLS from FUNKO are a very big deal. It seems that even the most hardcore collector of high-end HOT TOYS has a few as does the low-end bargain hunter that only buys stuff on clearance. Basically with POP! Vinyls, there is something for everyone. We have found the ultimate collectible toy where we are all equal. The POP! VINYL is the great equalizer of toys! I am declaring it here and now! And this is no outgoing trend, this is just going to get bigger and bigger while ironically the POPS will remain nice and tiny and easy to stow away in your overhead compartments. They are fun, they are well made, they are cheap but watch out because in the blink of an eye, that POP you've been putting off buying for $9.99 becomes "retired" and is now going for $200 on eBay. Yes its true, I cannot track down the four ROCKY POP! VINYLS that include the Italian Stallion himself, APOLLO CREED, CLUBBER LANG & IVAN DRAGO. Don't let retirement happen to you and go by my new mantra--if you see it in stores or online, buy it and don't look back!
However, Junkies are still anxiously awaiting several properties to get the POP! VINYL treatment and this month, actually the first week of the new year, I am throwing down the gauntlet for 10 new properties that I am hoping that the gang at FUNKO will consider at their next board meeting out there in the Pacific Northwest. So without any further adieu, here are 10 new TV & movie properties that the Junkies need in POP! form ASAP. And a side note from me, Head Junkie Jarrett, please un-retire the ROCKY POPS! If the real ROCKY BALBOA came out of retirement in his movies, then damn it, so should his toys! Plus this is the 40th anniversary of ROCKY! Happy New Year POP! Heads Everywhere! -Jarrett & the Junkies
10. DAZED & CONFUSED (1993)
The movie that seemed to launch a 1000 Hollywood movie stars is yet to get the POP! treatment. Lets quickly go down the list on who co-starred in the cult classic: Matthew McConaughey, Ben Affleck, Cole Hauser, Renee Zellweger, Milla Jovovich, Joey Lauren Adams, Parker Posey, Wiley Wiggins & Jason London, etc. Okay so all are not A-List Superstars but the film merited enough hardcore followers that there has to be some kind of FUNKO POP! reciprocal program. Even though they didn't go on to massive careers, we would have to have star Jason London's "Pink" and Wiley Wiggins' incoming freshman "Mitch.' The big sellers would obviously be McConaughey's Wooderson, the Texas native with the deep Southern drawl that made the phrases "Livin', L-I-V-I-N" & "Alright, alright, alright" into the pop zeitgeist well before he hit it big in A Time to Kill in '96. Before she was a video game killing machine in the Resident Evil series, she was the quiet supermodel Milla Jovovich playing with fire in one of her first forays into acting as "Michelle." The whole story really revolves around Wiley Wiggins' "Mitch" character, an incoming freshman that had to worry about soon to be seniors O'Bannion (future Oscar Winner & Batman, Ben Affleck) & Benny (Hauser) hazing the hell out of kids with paddles. The girl freshman had to worry about teen queen Daria played by Parker Posey. As for Oscar winner Zellweger, she was only billed as "girl in blue pickup truck" but was also a doppelganger for Joey Lauren Adams who had a much bigger role as "Simone." I would make those last two the Exclusives because people still confuse them in real life. Actually, not so much anymore since Zellweger appeared out of nowhere after a few years on acting hiatus looking completely different. She does not even look like the woman she played in Jerry Maguire back in '96 that shot her to stardom. No matter any of the cast's appearance choices since the days of Dazed, this a property ripe for POP!-hood.
9. CADDYSHACK (1980)
The greatest golf comedy ever made, with the worst golf comedy ever made being its sequel, Caddyshack still holds up 36 years later as a legendary comedy loved by those that play the game or hate the game. Directed by the late comic genius and Ghostbuster Harold Ramis, Caddyshack still has no equal to this day with some of the greatest comedic characters ever captured on film. The R-rated story that revolves around Caddy Danny Noonan (Michael O'Keefe) and the league of snobs at the highbrow Bushwood Country Club was a laugh out loud classic long before the phrase "lol" existed. Danny is a must POP! because it is really his story and the rest of the lineup is a piece of cake. Chevy Chase as the eccentric Ty Webb is an easy POP! choice as is Rodney Dangerfield's lovably obnoxious real estate developer Al Czervik who has the greatest golf bag ever created. Bill Murray is sublime as Bushwood's groundskeeper Carl Spackler with more quotable lines than the entire Caddyshack II script combined. You have to include the late Ted Knight's king of the snobs "Judge Smalls" in the lineup as well as his super hot niece Lacey Underall (Cindy Morgan) who is sleeping her way around Bushwood. And if you don't have the dancing Gopher as a POP!, I say "no sale!" All in all, one of the Top 5 greatest comedies of ALL-TIME deserves some POP! Vinyl love!
8. iZOMBIE (2015)
I like to think that I have become pretty good at this whole self-promotion thing with AFJ and since we already review this show, I don't know why I didn't think of it earlier! I continually describe iZOMBIE as the show that is wonderful for those that are a little too squeamish to handle the very hardcore zombie drama THE WALKING DEAD. iZOMBIE is fast, fresh and funny with a wonderful stable of characters that teeters the line between several genres including horror, thriller, comedy, and drama. Somehow it manages to pull it all off with ease with a wonderful lead in Rose McIver's Olivia "Liv" Moore, an assistant Medical Examiner that also happens to use her skills as a zombie to solve murders. Her eccentric sidekick for part of the show is lead M.E. Dr. Ravi Chakrabarti (Rahul Kohli) who is determined to find a cure for his good friend Liv. For the police investigation part of each episode, Liv & Ravi team up with by the book Detective, Clive Babineaux played by Malcolm Goodwin who is wonderful at having no clue of the zombie epidemic in Seattle. To fill out the roster of POP! Vinyls would have to be the terribly funny bad guy but sometimes good guy Blaine DeBeers played by ALIAS' David Anders who manages to kill it in this new role where he has gone back and forth from being a zombie since the show's creation. I think that the final two characters in the wave would have to be Liv's on again, off again boyfriend Major Lillywhite who is secretly offing zombies around Seattle and her best friend and Assistant DA Peyton Charles. I would love to see energy drink mogul Vaughn Du Clark (WINGS' Steven Weber) and boss of all bosses in Seattle "Mr. Boss" played with unexpected scariness by the Ocean's Eleven trilogy's Eddie Jemison. Making a "Zombie Liv POP!" would also be very cool to have as an Exclusive for, I would say, HOT TOPIC is a good retailer match for iZOMBIE. All in all, a very solid first wave entry for the budding hit.
7. AIRPLANE! (1980)
What can I say, 1980 was an unbelievable year for comedies! Not only did we have the aforementioned Caddyshack this year, we also had what many All-Time lists have as the #1 comedy in the entire history of cinema. That would be the laugh a minute AIRPLANE! that spoofed all of those awful 70's disaster films. Written and directed by the team known as "ZAZ," Zucker, Abrahams, Zucker, Jerry, Jim (UW-MADISON ALUMNI!) & David were coming off the cult hit from 1977, The Kentucky Fried Movie when they parlayed that success into AIRPLANE!. The film is very difficult to just watch only once because it is jam-packed with sight gags that are virtually in every frame of film. As far as characters go, there is a heck of a lot to choose from to be made into POP! form but let's start with leads Robert Hays and Julie Hagerty as Ted Striker and Elaine, respectively, the lost lovers reunited by chance on the doomed flight. It would be hard to not include the pilots of the plane that included the normally straight man Peter Graves as "Captain Oveur" and NBA Legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as co-pilot "Murdock." When things go bad, screen legend Lloyd Bridges "McCroskey" takes over the operation from the tower along with Robert Stack's "Kramer." Rounding out the first wave of POPs would have to be comedic icon Leslie Nielsen that played "Dr. Rumack" who had the lasagna. I wish we could include Barbara Billingsley as "Jive Lady" and the two "Jive Dudes." So damn funny it hurts.
6. SUPERGIRL (2015)
When the extended trailer was released last year for Supergirl, I literally laughed it off saying, "no way in Krypton." Then over the summer of 2015, the pilot to the new CBS program was conveniently "leaked" supposedly by accident right around the time of San Diego Comic-Con. I watched it. Then I watched it again. And then one more time for good luck and realized that I was absolutely smitten with lead Melissa Benoist as Kara Danvers (Zor-El). The show was going to be going up against the notoriously dark FOX drama GOTHAM that AFJ also reviews. I gotta tell you though, after sitting through an episode of GOTHAM, Supergirl was the upbeat delight I had been looking for after being in the perennially cloudy home city of the Dark Knight. And although I am a couple of episodes behind on reviewing Supergirl, I have watched every episode at least ten times each so I know the characters inside and out. (What do you expect, I work with the TV on all day!) The show is extremely POP! Vinyl friendly and I have to imagine that this wave is already in the works by FUNKO. So that being said, we obviously have to have Kara in adorable Catco assistant form, all clutzy with glasses. Then we also have to have her as the new iteration of the kick-ass Supergirl in costume that she has become to National City. We have to include her big sister Alex Danvers who works at the DEO and keeps an eye on her all day long, every day. Jimmy Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) makes the cut for the first wave as does office underdog Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan) who both love Kara but in very different ways. Running the show at Catco Media is titan Cat Grant, the total opposite of Ally McBeal, the role that made Calista Flockhart a household name. I would love to include DEO Agent Hank Henshaw who also happens to be **SPOILER** the last son of Mars, aka Martian Manhunter, aka J'onn J'onzz. So that would be really cool to see him as a Chase POP! as Martian Manhunter as an online exclusive. I'm thinking maybe FUN.com or something of that ilk.
5. THE LAST DRAGON (1985)
The Last Dragon has never gotten the respect that it deserves. Now over 30 years old, I have simply never encountered anyone that does not like the movie. It was one of those lightning in a bottle films that made every kid growing up in the 80's believe that if they worked at karate hard enough, they could achieve "The Glow." Starring the one and only Taimak, yes, Taimak, as martial arts master Leroy Green in pretty much his only notable role, the actor/martial artist achieved immortality as The Last Dragon and really did not ever have to do that much work again! That is how recognized he is to guys who grew up in the 80's. Throw in Vanity as pop star Laura Charles and Julius Carry as Sho'Nuff, The Shogun of Harlem and this POP! Vinyl line is cooking with gas. I think I would want to add in smarmy villain Eddie Arkadian as well as the hysterical Johnny Yu and little master Tai (Ernie Reyes, Jr. who has probably had the best career of them all) and we have a serious wave of POP! figures. I would love to see a couple of Variants of Leroy and Sho'Nuff that actually glow. Not so much a glow in the dark feature but maybe a layer of paint over their skin that can be seen in daylight that glows. I'm just not so much a fan of the glow in the dark POPs because I feel like I have to find a sleep apnea clinic for a room dark enough for me to see the glowing!
4. BEVERLY HILLS COP (1984)
The action comedy of all action comedies, Beverly Hills Cop, the film that made Eddie Murphy a household name, has never gotten any type of action figure love and I think POP! Vinyls would be a great place to start. Despite seeing a lot of impressive custom jobs over the years, I am yet to see an officially licensed BHC figure. Eddie Murphy as wisecracking Detroit cop Axel Foley in the ultimate fish out of water action comedy that really established the genre 32 years ago (God I feel old). Forget the sequels that were subpar at best and focus on the original. Axel has just the one costume change the whole movie so that one is easy. Detective Billy Rosewood, Sgt. Taggart & Lt. Bogamil are the trifecta of hysterical West Coast cops and the ultimate art slash drug dealer Victor Maitland played by the scary Steven Berkoff and you have a solid line of POPs. Maybe toss in character actor Jonathan Banks who has had such a resurgence because of Breaking Bad as Maitland's thug Zack. And you cannot have a Beverly Hills Cop wave of POP! Vinyl lines without a Chase Exclusive of art gallery attendant "Serge" played by the brilliant Bronson Pinchot who steals every scene he is in over Eddie Murphy, perhaps the greatest comedic improviser of our time!
3. THE GOLDBERGS (2013)
The Goldbergs is now officially my favorite sitcom that I do not get tired of. I can say that because I have been watching all 62 episodes on a constant loop since Thanksgiving. It is almost like watching my own misadventures as a middle school kid in the late 80's and it is pretty much dead on. When I finally got my dad to come on board and start watching it, he was hooked and simply said, "This is you. This is like watching you as a kid." From lead Sean Giambrone's portrayal of action figure and toy-obsessed middle schooler Adam Goldberg, the real-life version who is writer and producer making for it all to be kind of trippy considering he taped most of his childhood on a bulky video camera. Wendi McLendon-Covey is the perfect "SMother" as Beverly Goldberg, the mom you hope you have at the end of the day but not the other 23 hours. Comic Jeff Garlin is perfect as the lazy, hands-off practicing father Murray Goldberg who gets by mostly by calling everyone in his path a moron. Troy Gentile is perfect as middle kid Barry Goldberg, angry, emotional and obsessed with the burgeoning hip-hop movement and his alter ego, "Big Tasty," Gentile steals almost every scene he is in. Hayley Orrantia is big sister Erica Goldberg, the moral compass of the Goldberg kids but also the sneakiest. Together the three kids have become the best thing to watch on Tuesday nights and are destined to become some type of action figure sooner than later after two and a half awesome seasons. Why not start with the super popular POP! Vinyl figures? Add in comedy acting legend George Segal as "Pops" as an in-store Exclusive and I really think that this line can be a winner.
2. CASTLE (2009)
I was late to the CASTLE party and did not get into the series until 2011 but by the time the third season started, I was absolutely hooked. Led by Geek icon Nathan Fillion as mystery novelist/NYC playboy Rick Castle in the role he was born to play (after Capt. Mal Reynolds of course), I am having a hard time processing that FUNKO has not jumped all over this property! I pretty much love every episode of this cop show simply because it is not very procedural and Castle & the scrumptious Kate Beckett (played by unofficial ex-Bond girl Stana Katic) have built an organic relationship over the years that was never pushed. I am telling you, watch the first season binge style and you will be hooked, I guarantee it. The characters are simply that likable. Besides Rick & Kate, you have to have their Detective team of Javier Esposito (Jon Huertas who I interviewed on the phone last year and is a hell of a guy) and by the book Det. Kevin Ryan (Seamus Dever). They really all are like a family and it is a really difficult show not to enjoy week by week. You have to have Medical Examiner Lanie Parish as a POP! played by the buxom Tamala Jones as well as Captain Victoria "Iron" Gates played by character actress Penny Johnson Jerald. Finally, it would be a crime not to include Rick's mother and daughter, Martha, and Alexis, played by redheads Susan Sullivan and Molly C. Quinn. I guess they could add the worse killer they ever faced in "3XK" but I think that would have to be for hardcore fans like myself. Still, CASTLE is a must have POP! line of vinyl figures.
1. SPACEBALLS (1987)
Mel Brooks' on the money spoof of George Lucas' holy trilogy is so dead on that it simply does not age. SPACEBALLS remains the one film that lampooned Star Wars and actually got it right. You could only expect this because it was the legendary Mel Brooks at the helm writing and directing the film. I posted some custom jobs of the SPACEBALLS gang on our Facebook page over the holidays and the Junkies went nuts so we know that the demand is out there. A natural behind the camera as well as in front, a POP! Vinyl wave of these now legendary characters would have to include Brooks' portrayal of President Skroob as well as the Yoda-like "Yogurt" who is all about the merchandising. Rick Moranis' portrayal of the Darth Vader-like "Dark Helmet" would sell like hotcakes along with his nemesis "Lone Starr" played by the all but forgotten Bill Pullman. The late John Candy was perfect as "Barf," the spoof of Chewbacca that was half man and half dog who was his own best friend. I guess you would have to have "Dot Matrix" who was played by the late Joan Rivers along with future Melrose Place resident Daphne Zuniga who played "Princess Vespa." Since Star Wars is at an absolute fever pitch right now, hopefully, more kids will be discovering the comedy classic from a much simpler time.