Thursday, August 27, 2009

Colección Super Amigos: Vibe

Más ágil que una tortuga, más fuerte que un ratón, más noble que una lechuga, su escudo es un corazón... ¡Es el Chapulín Colorado!

At the International Breakdancing Competition in Mexico City, the experimental boombox sound system failed to operate properly. A technician moaned, "Oh! ¿Y ahora quien podrá ayudarme?" From behind a speaker appeared the most famous Mexican super-hero of them all, "¡Yo el Chapulín Colorado! (I, the Red Grasshopper!)" The crowd cheered as el Chapulín Colorado began tinkering with the high tech amplifier the DJ had discovered, only to find he had inadvertently converted the boombox into a Boom Tube. A swarm of Parademons flew out of the interdimensional portal, attacking citizens and property. "Mis antenitas de vinil están detectando la presencia del enemigo." El Chapulín Colorado tried to stop them with "La Chicharra paralizadora," but his special horn only paralyzed innocent bystanders. The timid Chapulin then took "pastillas de chiquitolina" and shrank away.

"En lo que el palo va y viene," the Puerto Rican sensation Vibe was "gufiao" while spinning on a cardboard mat when the chaos was unleashed. "¿Claque? ¡Se formó un corre y corre!" Spotting the airborne minions of Darkseid, Vibe held back their onslaught with repulsive waves. An excited Chapulín hopped on Vibe's shoulder, prompting the JLD star to chastise "¡No seas insecto! ¡Te cagaste del miedo!" Chapulín replied, "Que no cunda el pánico. Todos mis movimientos están fríamente calculados." El Chapulín Colorado then directed Vibe to fire him into the air, where he landed on a Parademon, before waltzing inside its ear to hammer at its equilibrium. "¡Síganme los buenos!" However, the Parademon then spastically evaded Vibe's cover emissions and slammed hard into the hero.

El Chapulín Colorado crawled out and returned to his normal height, batting wildly at the demons with his hammer, "El Chipote Chillon." It was a vain effort, as the Parademons tightened their circles for a final deadly descent, with citizens condemning Chapulín for disabling the only actual, helpful hero on the scene. "Se aprovechan de mi nobleza." Vibe was roused by all the sobbing. "¡Locón, Está brutal!! Las cosas se pusieron color de hormiga brava." Vibe then spotted the discarded Boom Tube device. "Esto es oro de la Palestina." Vibe reopened the portal as the Parademons made their final dive, sending them back to Apokolips. Chapulín congratulated, "Crea fama y échate a dormir," to which Vibe replied, "Corazón de melón."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Colección Super Amigos: Liga de la Justicia de Detroit

Blogs across the internet today celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Super Powers Collection, featuring some of the world's greatest super-heroes and among the finest action figures of their time. However, as always, the Justice League Detroit blog is less concerned with the spotlight hogs than the obscure, ethnocentric also-rans of yesteryear. Where is the love for the Colección Super Amigos, and most importantly, the Liga de la Justicia de Detroit figures that were only produced in Latin America? Today, their light will shine!

As many of you know, Pacipa Argentina reused the SP molds in 1989, which Play Ful then took over in the early '90s, both producing inferior quality figures for the South/Central American market. The mid-'90s saw the Columbian Gulliver Super Powers line, but none could compare to the toys produced by Broma Práctica!

As we'll discuss in a later installment, the Detroit era League comics proved much more popular in Mexico than in the United States. This created demand for their representation amongst the Super Amigos, but the Mexican market wasn't financially strong enough to justify licensing fees, much less new molds. Notorious bootleggers Broma Práctica rushed to fill this void with abysmal knock-offs made available through flea markets and street hustlers. They were cast in cheap plastic, and their (lead) paint jobs would typically begin to flake even before being removed from their blister packs/Ziploc bags. Soon afterward, limbs would be lost. Not just the figures, but amongst the children playing with the most notoriously lethal action figures of all time...

Pictured: Zatanna and Vixen

Pictured: Mexican child victim of Super Amigos Liga de la Justicia de Detroit

Zatanna was mostly harmless. Though advertised as having a "Power Action Mystic Spell Cast," Zatanna only went through the basic articulation motions without any enhanced features. Vixen, on the other hand, was the sharpest figure in the set. To minimize costs, the amount of plastic in her mold was reduced to the point her facsimile hair was honed to razor sharpness. At just over three inches, this made Vixen a street legal switchblade throughout most states, and she could easily circumvent metal detectors. The Vixen action figure became the weapon of choice amongst young Mexican street punks, while "gangster" rap and ranchero songs often referenced the lethal toy (most popularly in "El Vixen es una señora Fox" by Control Machete.

Pictured: Street toughs brandishing Vixen action figures. Note the boy wearing a "Vibe" headband.

Pictured: "Señor Alargado" (Elongated Man) and "Gitana" (Gypsy)

Elongated Man's packaging fraudulently exclaimed "Cuello del estiramiento de la acción de la energía," but in fact "Señor Alargado" was merely cast in rubber, making him slightly more pliable than the average figure (more in line with Mattel's Secret Wars line.) Gypsy, or "Gitana," wasn't even technically an "action figure," as she was molded in a single piece. However, her advertisement as "Símbolo Santería" made her a well regarded lucky charm often hung from the wrist or a rear view mirror (as applicable.)

Pictured: "Gringo Cibernético" (Steel) and Vibe

Steel and Vibe were of course the most popular figures in the line, outpacing even Aguahombre and Detective Marciano. However, Steel was another extremely unsafe toy. Though it appears as a standard Super Amigos mold, the figure was in fact die cast iron, making it a terrific weighted weapon/bludgeon. Vibe meanwhile was afforded the only functional action effect: a wind-up motor with a mounted ball bearing set in the figure's chest piece. This "Vibración Magnífica" made the toy as popular with moms as sons!

After numerous complaints from consumer advocates on both sides of the border, Broma Práctica was finally traced by customs agents back to a small sweatshop in Tempe, Arizona. No criminal charges nor civil suits were successfully leveled against the U.S. owned company, though their action figure division was eventually scuttled.

More Colección Super Amigos:
Colección Super Amigos: Vibe
Colección Super Amigos: Vixen
Colección Super Amigos: Zatanna & other Liga de la Justicia de Detroit Mini-Comics

Further Reading:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Comic Book Movie Casts the ENTIRE 108 Members of the Justice League!

There's a fan site called Comic Book Movie that specializes in news about just that. One of their commentators who goes by the name THEHAWK recently decided he would fan cast the entire Justice League, including the Detroit era, JLI, JLTF, Elite, Antarctica-- everyone. No small task, and many of his choices are utterly insane, but some are pretty observant. Besides, even I never gave a second's thought to who would play, say for instance, Maya. You can see the entire list here, but I figured I'd highlight some specific examples for this blog.

Laurence Fishburne as Martian Manhunter
Camilla Belle as Gypsy
Paul Walker as Aquaman
Serinda Swan as Zatanna
Aaron Eckhart as Elongated Man
Jay Hernandez as Vibe
Naomie Harris as Vixen
Ben McKenzie as Steel
Stephen Dorff as Triumph
Djimon Hounsou as Bloodwynd
Keith David as Despero

My main issue with most of these choices is that the actors are just too danged old. Gypsy, Zee, Vibe and Steel into their thirties is asking a bit much. Fishburne's already "played" Silver Surfer, and turns up as J'Onn on too many of these lists. I couldn't complain about Keith David as Despero, but that guy is the Sam Jackson of voice work-- he does everybody. I do like Hounsou a lot as Bloodwynd, though.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Elongated Man Custom Total Justice/JLA Action Figures

Courtesy of Justice Customs: A Virtual Customized Who's Who comes these custom Ralph Dibney toys styled after the Total Justice/JLA line of DC figures. Skolowski produced an amazing five variations of Elongated Man covering three full costumes and two modifications. He even created Pocket Heroes and Super Powers takes! I guess we'll have to see if he's got a Black Lantern Elongated Man waiting in the wings (no pun intended.) Check out the full sized pictures, and learn from whence the parts came here