Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Art of Movie Posters: Then & Now: Part I

 Today, more so than ever before, it seems as though Hollywood is fresh out of new ideas. Instead, the current trend is to resort to the likes of sequels, remakes, reboots, and spin offs. While many of these new efforts leave much to be desired, one forgotten victim of today's films is the lost art of the movie poster. Movie posters used to make you want to see the film it promoted, however, nowadays it looks as though the posters for current films were hastily photoshopped hack-jobs. Movie studios spend more money than ever on promoting their films, so why can't they put the effort in for a decent poster. Today we examine the posters of yesteryear with the posters of today.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Look Back At Trendmasters' Godzilla Toy Line

King of the Monsters

He's larger than life. He's the star of over two-dozen films. He's an international icon. He's the King of the Monsters. Few people haven't at least seen part of a Godzilla film. It's certainly no exaggeration in making the claim that the big guy is one of the most recognizable characters in the world of cinema. What began as a dark allegory of the nuclear age in 1954, originally titled Gojira in Japan, Godzilla would soon become the longest running movie franchise in history. As of 2011, Godzilla has been the star of 28 films, not including the 1998 American version. Currently, another American Godzilla film is in the works while Japan has put their series on hiatus.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Screamin' Model Kits: A Retrospective

Screamin' Model's 'London After Midnight' Kit
In the 1960's Aurora (officially the Aurora Plastics Corporation) ruled the model kit industry. Their line of plastic monster kits, consisting of Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy, and other notable night creatures single-handedly kept them in business for years. By the '70s Aurora had expanded to included some many popular comic book super-heroes and re-issues of their monster kit series with new 'glow-in-the-dark' pieces.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Forgotten Toy Lines Part II: Skeleton Warriors

A doomed toy line from day one
Skeleton Warriors had the marketing potential to become the next He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. It had the toys, the cartoon series, the trading cards, and even the video games. Unfortunately, the Skeleton Warriors brand soon found itself buried by an overwhelming legion of competition.

Five Video Games Based On Existing Franchises That Were Actually Good!

Atari. Pac-Man. Still fun.
It's no secret that some of the worst video games ever made were ones based off movies, comics, and cartoons. Look at E.T. the Extraterrestrial for the Atari. It nearly killed the '80s video game industry.

However, video games have changed much since the days of pong. One would think that making a good game off an existing franchise would be a piece of cake. After all, the characters and their world are already established, right? Sadly only a handful of games based on their original source material ever prove to be worthwhile, and here are five of the best:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Forgotten Toylines of the 1990s Part I: Zen, The Intergalactic Ninja

'Cosmically cool'? You be the judge

Zen the Intergalactic Ninja. Who's that, you ask? For those unfamiliar with Zen, he was a character that had the potential to rival Captain Planet for eco-friendly merchandising in the early '90s. Sadly, our blue galaxy-hopping friend never made it quite that far. Actually, he didn't make it far at all.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Monster Force: The Unofficial Monster Squad Cartoon?

The 90's cartoon Monster Force
Fred Dekker's The Monster Squad

Back in 1987 Fred Dekker directed The Monster Squad, a film that should be viewed by every horror fan who used to read Famous Monsters of Filmland or ever enjoyed one of the Lugosi, Chaney, & Karloff classics. For those who haven’t seen The Monster Squad, it’s best described as The Goonies meet the classic Universal Monsters. That alone should have guaranteed it a hefty box-office return. Sadly, it came at a time when the old horror icons were pushed aside in favor of the 80's slashers who, in their own right, had become less of movie maniacs and more akin to comic supervillians. And worst of all - like every one of Dekker’s directorial efforts, The Monster Squad was a financial flop.

They Made A Cartoon Out Of...That?! Part II: Robocop

Rated R: Dead or alive, you're coming with me
Rated're coming with me

Part man, part machine, all cop. Robocop, Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 masterpiece, could have easily been geared towards kids. The premise fits within the standard superhero formula and the concept of a cyborg police officer battling criminals and renegade robots would seem no more out of place than on a Saturday morning cartoon. Well, that would be logical, had Robocop not been an R-Rated film, with a strong emphasis on ‘R’. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

They Made A Cartoon Out Of...That?! Part I: Rambo and the Force of Freedom

He'll give you a war you won't believe
The 80s and 90s were a great time for cartoons. We had He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, G.I. Joe, Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, JEM, Robotech, Thundercats, Batman: The Animated Series, and...Rambo? Back in the late 80s and early 90s there was one equation. A simple one, too. Hit film franchise + kids = money. Of course, some of these huge franchises stemmed from R-Rated films, but that didn't stop the powers that be from turning their already profitable properties into even more profitable properties. Besides, kids like violence, right? While it may seem questionable to make a Saturday morning cartoon about a disgruntled Vietnam vet that resolves his problems with an M60 machine gun, it must have made sense at the time. After all, everything made sense in the 80s. And why wouldn't it? What kid didn't at least know of Rambo?? Many had even seen the films. Today we begin our They Made A Cartoon Out Of...That?! series, where we look at some of the great - and not so great - cartoons that originated from not-so-kid-friendly films.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Universal Monsters: The Merchandising Oddities of the early '90s

What kid wouldn't want to color these guys?
Ever since Dracula first urged us to listen to the ‘children of the night’ back in 1931, the Universal Monsters have been an undeniable force to behold. After the monumental success of Dracula (little tidbit: the Lugosi classic opened on Valentines' Day back in '31) Universal Studios went full steam ahead in an attempt to bring every conceivable monster under the sun (or moon) to the silver screen. What followed was a wave of man-made monsters, lycanthropes, reanimated Egyptian corpses, and gill-men from the deepest depths of the Black Lagoon. From 1931 to 1947 the Golden Age of Universal Monsters had ruled the box office with an iron claw, until getting their final hurrah in 1948's Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, which would be the last time Lon Chaney Jr. and Bela Lugosi would officially portray their respective roles of the Wolf Man and Dracula.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Welcome To The Middle Earth Collectors' Blog!

Our first blog post! Here you'll be able to find everything from news, updates, and reviews of the latest action figures, model kits, tshirts, comics, masks, costumes, and, basically, all sorts of collectibles. We'll also feature the occasional film update or review, so keep an eye open for that. 

In addition, we hope to have some great articles within the next month or two.  We already have plans for a Cartoon Retrospect series of articles, including a look at such forgotten gems as the early 90's toons, The Monster Force and Skeleton Warriors.

 Another series of articles will rotate around toy advertisments and Saturday Morning Cartoon ads from the 70's through the 90's.

And finally, we have yet another series of articles in store, that examine the mid-90's young adult horror novel boom.

So, keep those eyes open!