Springsteen, Sinatra... Smith? If you're a Monmouth County, Jersey Boy like me, you would know the amount of pull that writer/director/actor Kevin Smith has in my home state. He is the favorite son of our little hamlet and has given NJ some massive amounts of street cred making an empire the way Mel Brooks' "Yogurt" did in SPACEBALLS. Although our state motto will remain, "Welcome to New Jersey, Bring Hand Sanitizer," Kevin is our Rocky Balboa. The tagline for ROCKY was "His whole life was a million to one shot." Kevin Smith's life's tagline has got to be, "Watch me become an icon, jerky studio heads and dicks from gym class. Oh, and who's carrying?" After CLERKS hit in 1994 and I was graduating high school, Kevin Smith had changed the playing field of low budget filmmaking. If you think he is big in Hollywood, try walking the streets of Red Bank when he's in town.
When I graduated college in '99, just coming off a production and development summer internship at MIRAMAX Films and having Harvey Weinstein scare the bejesus out of me every day, I drove from Manalapan to Smith's Red Bank offices EVERY WEEK for an entire year dropping off my resume to the assistant like clockwork. The office was filled with stuff I used to steal when I worked at EASY VIDEO in High School. Awesome cardboard setups for his films that you only see in theaters. Signed movie posters everywhere, framed photos and just me and the lovely assistant every week. She was sweet and very nice expecting me every Thursday as I hoped that the director was in town that week and would take me on as his Padawan. I never did get the call to work for Mr. Smith and his View-Askewverse but I did give it my best shot. Even dropping my resume off at the SECRET STASH store just around the corner did not work out for me and to this day, it is still a personal dream of mine to work with Kevin Smith and his band of misfits. If I have learned anything since starting AFJ, it is that Kevin Smith knows how to brand his product. That is why I smack Action Figure Junkies or AFJ on just about everything that I write or do or tag in spray paint while no one's looking on public transportation. It was only a matter of time before more than MiniMates were made for the legions of Smith fans. Who else but Diamond Select could pack in the epicness of the View Askewverse and realize the vision of this master Garden State self-promoter. Not only do we have regular Jay & Silent Bob figures from CLERKS in both color and black and white, now we have a brand new threesome of deluxe figures from the 2001 classic, Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back.
It is truly hard to fathom that it has been almost fifteen years since Kevin Smith's magnum opus and not so subtle tribute to Star Wars and movies within a movie, Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back hit the multiplexes. I remember seeing it because it was the end of the summer of 2001 and before the events of 9/11 and the world was still pretty badass and on the whole, awesomely politically incorrect and Zuckerberg was still in Junior High. Yes, we had the Internet but it was seven years before the iPhone would debut. Dare I say, it was simpler times if you can believe it. In his fifth feature, the two breakout stars of Smith's film world would take center stage and travel to Hollywood to stop the production of a film about them and their alter ego's "Bluntman & Chronic." Finally, 14 years later, fanboys and girls can enjoy the incredibly detailed high-end figures from Diamond Select. So let's dive right in and analyze the hell out of these three new entries from Smith's wide and varied empire of merch. By the way, I paid for these figures with Mr. Underhill's American Express card, want the number?
I don't know why Smith takes so much heat about his size, I never saw John Candy get hassled on a plane! Diamond does its usual bang-up job of capturing Smith's likeness here and he looks trimmer than several comic book characters that could stand to lose a couple of L B's. You're telling me The Kingpin has a membership to 24 Hour Fitness? The svelte BLUNTMAN has never looked so heroic with the most expressive eyebrows since Belushi fully popped like in Animal House. Its Movember all year for Smith who could commit any kind of crime and get away with it if he shaved right afterward. Who is under that face mane? I gotta think that Smith was one of the kids with a mustache in the 9th grade and never looked back. As usual with Diamond Select, we get the amazing "bookshelf" packaging with the character on the spine for easy access if you are a MOC collector like me. The "Batman" like hat and Smith's long hair is perfectly captured and there is no arguing who this is when showing it to other collectors. Although my mom thought it was Jesus with a pot leaf in a trench coat.
The pot leaf emblem on his chest really pops and the overall paint job is stellar and the size of the figure is perfect especially when standing next to CHRONIC. BLUNTMAN may be the Harpo of our time but his lack of dialogue is what has cemented his status as a pop culture icon. Plus, the character and the world he has created has been a boon for the comics and film industries alike. If you remember back to 2001, comic book movies were scant and the whole industry, including the comic book industry, was in a spiral. Besides Bryan Singer's X-MEN and the launch of MARVEL's new Ultimate Universe, there was not a whole lot going on and comic book films were still seen as risky. BLUNTMAN comes equipped with his "energy sword" from the final battle sequence which looks just like the late Christopher Lee's Count Dooku's Jedi weapon with the curved handle. I particularly think that the tunic of sorts looks terrific but I would have liked to have seen an actual physical belt rather than just a gold paint stripe all the way around his midsection. However, the buckle looks dope replete with the leaf of all leaves. The signature trench coat of Bob looks terrific and after close examination, underneath it really looks like a hockey uniform which has always been Smith's go-to sport, complete with the shorts. It works though and it is a really solid figure and the boots especially are terrific. As per usual with Diamond, not a detail is missed on the paint job or the articulation which is subdued. Frankly, I don't really want a BLUNTMAN figure with 35 points of articulation, the guy doesn't move that much! Each of the three figures in the wave come with part of the Bluntcave set for imagination play of recreating the final scene from the film. A must-have figure for you teens and twenty-somethings standing outside of WaWa right now. Here is AFJ's special EntertainmentEarth link to order: http://bit.ly/1TwGfdi
I remember when I first watched CLERKS on a screener copy my friend had lent me and I thought that Jason Mewes' performance as Jay was a revelation. It was real and genuine and did not feel like he was just regurgitating lines from a script. Then in '95, I went to see MALLRATS, my favorite of Smith's films and thought that sidekick Jason Mewes was a comedic visionary with a very bright future. Every scene he is in any of the Askewverse films is stolen by the non-classically trained actor that has a rapid-fire delivery and improvisation style where you just know whoever he is doing a scene with, Jay is going to get the laugh. Still, we all have our demons and me for one hope was happy to hear of his recovery and am hoping that he can make a comeback in MallBrats which is in pre-production according to the Interwebs.
The CHRONIC figure from Diamond Select is again freakishly lifelike and the first thing I noticed was Jay's mouth and how they sculpted it. It's not like Sylvester Stallone with Bells Palsy, a condition he was born but rather that shit-eating grin that he knows something you don't. That comedic presence that you know he has something up his sleeve for whatever scene he is in. He seriously is that gifted and when he is in his wheelhouse of long comedic diatribes, there is no stopping him. Most sidekicks never try to one-up whoever's name comes first in the title but CHRONIC with his Darth Maul looking energy sword is totally badass. The likeness to Mewes is superb and I love the attention to detail given to the crest on his chest with the large blunt and cloud of smoke. The utility belt on CHRONIC is what I had hoped what BLUNTMAN would have and gives the figure more of a superhero vibe to it. Even behind the red domino mask, you know who's behind it ready to spout off one-liners at the drop of a hat. The red and white paint job is excellent with literally no mess ups at all. Believe me, I tried to find even the most minor slip up and Diamond simply does not mess around in getting the details collectors want right. CHRONIC stands a good half a head taller than BLUNTMAN standing over 7-inches tall. And you seriously need him (and the other two figures) to complete the awesome diorama that I had a blast taking pictures with because it is like a boxing ring or MMA cage. To order CHRONIC asap, click here to get it from Entertainment Earth: http://bit.ly/1TwKLbM
You have to hand it to Mark Hamill. The guy played one of the top five most recognizable and iconic characters in cinema history but is just fine poking fun and lampooning himself. In Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, Hamill plays COCK-KNOCKER, the nefarious villain of BLUNTMAN & CHRONIC. COCK-KNOCKER has one mission and that is to hit you in the genitals with his super-powered right hand that is four times the size of any mortal man's hand. He wants to hit your Jim & the Twins before you hit his. Hamill is no stranger to playing psycho's having voiced the JOKER for many years and acting as The Trickster on both the old and new FLASH TV series. In JSBSB, he makes the most of it chewing the scenery for all its worth! And he is damn funny doing it. To go from Luke Skywalker, Master Jedi to Cock-Knocker, villain that punches baddies in the nards is not as extreme a stretch as I thought it would be! Let everyone speculate how that right hand got so big, but we all know it takes a lot of "work" and dedication several times a day to build a cock-knocker that size! (Note to Self: Don't send this review to my journalism professor at UW-Madison)
Even with the maniacal look that Diamond Select gave Hamill as the evil villain, Smith loyalists can tell that it is an icon underneath all of that hair and makeup. Especially if you have seen the most recent pics of Hamill as Trickster on the CW'S THE FLASH. However, non-die-hards will not have a clue just who is behind the mask and crazy hairdo on this brilliantly realized figure. I have to say, out of the triumvirate of figures that Diamond sent me (Thank you Zach Oat!), COCK-KNOCKER has been the one that friends and family have commented on the most. He just looks amazing with the bright blue and yellow suit along with his long, flowing cape that has those old-style buckles in the front. COCK-KNOCKER could easily fit on your shelf of DC & MARVEL figures and have people say, "I've never seen this character. Who is it?" The super-sized fist somehow manages to look amazing because of the intricate detail the Diamond people have given to it right down to the fingernails and veins on top of his hand. COCK-KNOCKER was definitely the most fun to photograph close up and you've gotta wonder if Robert Kirkman's INVINCIBLE knocked off the look of the costume! The "CK" logo looks great on the belt as well as the bright yellow boots. Overall, the figure just works and for just over $20 is an absolute steal. Order from EntertainmentEarth HERE: http://bit.ly/1QbiPML
Overall, the JAY & SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK figures were an absolute treat to open and have fun with. The amazing sculpts by noted sculptor Patrick Piggott was handpicked for the gig and his experience and attention to detail comes through. The articulation on the figures is there but not overwhelming and you really do not want it to be on such a high end looking figure with a bargain price. Nothing is overkill on these pieces and that is a good thing. It is damn near impossible to find any flaws on any of these figures whether you are a fan or not. Diamond Select does not mess around and each of their properties is given the love and attention that they require because they are a company that actually listens to fans and wants their input. These three are a no-brainer to purchase for the Kevin Smith fan in your life this holiday season. Now, I am just waiting for news that MALLRATS figures are in the works and I can die a happy Action Figure Junkie. If I can reach half the heights that Mr. Smith achieved as a Garden State resident, I'll be pretty damn happy. So if Kevin is reading this, let us do an AFJ TV show, a spinoff of COMIC BOOK MEN, with The Weinstein Company and SModCo! CHASING THE VARIANT is the movie title with the tagline, "Whoever dies with the most toys wins." I got through to Mosier once in all my years of calling and bothering him. Just once, but it was a killer conversation until he asked, "Who is this again?"