Friday, January 10, 2014

30th Anniversary Of Everything Nerdy

Well maybe not everything nerdy, but 1984 was a banner year for nerdy stuff coming out. So prepare yourself to see a plethora of 30th Anniversary paraphernalia released throughout the year. Here's a look at the things I'm excited for.

Can you believe Transformers is 30 years old? The cartoon was essentially an animated advertisement to sell toys that Hasbro bought & rebranded from the Japanese company Takara. And boy did those commercials work because the original toy line surged in popularity, and is still sought after today as collectors items. The brand has continued over the years with various animated series, the latest of which featured the return of Peter Cullen & Frank Welker as the voices of Optimus Prime and Megatron, a recently relaunched comic book series, three live-action movies with diminishing returns in quality and a 4th one releasing in June, and way more toys than you can shake a stick at with the officially released Masterpiece line which features extremely detailed versions of the G1 line, and 3rd party releases which in many cases are superior to any Transformers I've ever seen. On the radar this year, look for Masterpiece releases of Wheeljack, Ultra Magnus, Bumblebee, and a special edition Year of the Horse Optimus Prime. Also, BotCon was announced for June 19th-22nd in Pasadena, CA and I'm sure there will plenty of 30th Anniversary celebrations there.

Along the same lines as Transformers, and actually predates it by a week is Voltron: Defender of the Universe. Voltron hasn't had the sustained success that Transformers has had the past 30 years, but that hasn't quelled any of the fandom for it. In fact, the scarcity of Voltron products has probably made the line even more in demand. Aside from a couple of animated series sequels, a CGI one in 1998 which was kinda horrible, and another in 2011 which was okay, Voltron in the media has been largely absent. With the success of the Transformers films, a Voltron film should be a a no-brainer but it's been stuck in legal red tape for years and has had no serious updates since 2011. A 30th Anniversary Die-Cast figure with lights and sound will be released in February and is a must have for any collector.

The majority of you will not remember Mighty Orbots as it only lasted 13 episodes, but it actually beats Voltron's premiere by 2 days. Part of ABC's Saturday morning cartoon lineup, Mighty Orbots began my love of robots that combine to form bigger robots. It was bright, colorful, had an awesome 80's soundtrack and because of litigation from a rival toy company, there is NOTHING available. No toys, no DVD's, nada. So there won't be any 30th Anniversaries of this. I just wanted to share a long forgotten part of my childhood that never got the respect I thought it deserved.

The Karate Kid is the ultimate underdog story for kids. And since the director is the same guy who won an Oscar for directing Rocky, it was probably designed that way. Has there been anybody in cinema history picked on more than Daniel LaRusso? Seriously, he got the crap knocked out of him for three movies, and then ultimately bested his bullies in those three movies. Anyway, aside from the 3 sequels, (the last one starring Oscar winner Hilary Swank) there was an animated series, action figures, a video game, and a reboot in 2010 starring Jaden (WTF) Smith. I contend the original is the best, and also has the best power song of all time, "You're the Best" which was originally written for Rocky III. There are currently no 30th Anniversary plans for The Karate Kid, but I wouldn't be surprised if Ralph Macchio & Billy Zabka make continued appearances on How I Met Your Mother, and bring it up at some point.

You can't have a 1984 in movies review without Gremlins. While Gizmo, the Mogwai was cute & adorable, Gremlins were little balls of terrifying mischief. Gremlins was a great achievement in animatronics and puppetry. It was unique, and weird and it spawned a rush of movies about horrible little critters. You know how every other movie nowadays is about either zombies or vampires? Back in the 80's, there were a ton of Gremlins rip-offs that just tanked. Aside from the logic problem of never feeding Gremlins after midnight, (it's always midnight somewhere!), I think it's one of the best Christmas movies ever, and I really wish it was on TV more often during the holdays. Check out this great interview with Zach Galligan over at where he talks about the 30th Anniversary, some behind the scenes talk, and what he's been up to all these years. There are talks of a reboot to the franchise which will probably be CGI'd to death. Here's hoping if there's a reboot, it will be done more traditionally.

I originally did not like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. I love Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Last Crusade, but up until a few years ago, Temple of Doom always left me with a sour taste. Most of that is due to the character of Willie Scott being seriously annoying throughout the entire movie. And the rest of it is as a kid, this was a legitimately scary movie! There's child slavery, a guy pulling out someone still beating heart, human sacrifice, and most of all, Indy turning bad guy for a moment! The scariness of Temple of Doom & Gremlins was the reason the MPAA decided to add the PG-13 rating. But yes, I've warmed up to the movie recently. It's a very imaginative and fun film, and Willie Scott doesn't grate on my nerves as much anymore. Plus, the utter crappiness of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull made me appreciate vintage Indy. There aren't any 30th Anniversary plans for Temple of Doom, it's only the third best Indy movie, and quite frankly it's on cable marathons fairly frequently, so there's no real reason to have a celebration for this film. Of course, if it were to be re-released to theaters, I'd go see it in a heartbeat.

And last, but certainly not least, the film most near and dear to me, Ghostbusters. If you know me, I'm a die hard Ghostbusters nut. I collect t-shirts, figures and replica props, I've dressed as one for Halloween, and I've built my own proton pack. The cartoon which launched in 1986 remains one of my all time favorites. To this day, there is a rabid following. There are Ghostbuster fan franchises in at least 34 states, and at least a dozen countries internationally. You can't go to a comic book convention without seeing at least one person dressed as a Ghostbuster. There are countless talks of sequels and reboots to the franchise so it's fair to say, popularity has grown to astronomical, possibly even biblical proportions. For the 30th Anniversary, Sony Pictures (which owns Columbia now) has licensing deals with numerous toy, comic and game manufacturers to produce all new merchandise to commemorate the anniversary. Additionally, there's a partnership with Gallery 1988 to create a traveling art show featuring artist interpretations of the Ghostbusters. I also wouldn't mind if it gets a re-release into theaters. :) It's kind of an awesome time to be a Ghostbusters fan. And generally speaking it's a great time to be a fan of anything nerdy. 2014 is going to be awesome.

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