Friday, February 22, 2013

Action Figure Barbecue: Stars in Plastic #1- Bruce Willis

  
 In A Charlie Brown Christmas, Lucy critiques Beethoven to Schroeder: "Everyone talks about how 'great' Beethoven was. Beethoven wasn't so great.  He never got his picture on bubblegum cards, did he? Have you ever seen his picture on a bubblegum card? Hmmm? How can you say someone is great who's never had his picture on bubblegum cards?"
    
Of course, we here at ThEpic Review know that greatness isn't measured by one's appearance on bubblegum cards. No sir, it is not.  The true measure of greatness is appearing as an action figure.  It isn't until you're fully articulated, given a kung-fu grip, and thrown on a blister card that you can truly feel like you're worth anything.  In our new feature, Stars in Plastic, join us for a look at various actors and actresses by examining the little plastic effigies constructed in their likeness. Today, join me as we look at all of the action figure tributes constructed to not only a great action star, but the star of the greatest Christmas movie of all time, Die Hard: Bruce Willis.

Bruce Willis even made a shot for shot remake of "A Christmas Story" so that no one can argue that he doesn't star in the greatest Christmas film of all time.

More Bruce Willis Action after the break....




Cult Classics: John McClane by NECA
Ho Ho Ho, now I've got a shadow!

   Following in the footsteps of McFarlane Toys' Movie Maniacs, NECA created their Cult Classics line which featured various characters from a wide range of movies.  In 2006, for the 3rd series of Cult Classics, NECA finally released a tribute to one of the greatest action heroes ever: John McClane.  While the figure isn't perfect (Willis' likeness is definitely not spot on) it is still a pretty cool addition to your action hero shelf, features some great paint work, and comes with a machine gun (Ho-Ho-Ho!).  Perhaps someday NECA will revisit the Die Hard license, but for now this is what we got.

The Expendables and Expendables 2 Minimates: Mr. Church by Diamond Select
The Minimates Mr. Church has a smooth, flat head- just like Bruce Willis himself.

   In 2012 Diamond Select Toys released four figure boxed sets of their popular Minimates toys in conjunction with "The Expendables 2."  One set from "The Expendables" featured Tool, Hale Caesar, Lee Christmas, and Mr. Church, Willis' mysterious character. Dressed in a simple black suit w/ no tie, Diamond really captures Willis' distinct smirk in a very stylized way.
   For "The Expendables 2," Diamond released a Toys R Us exclusive 4 pack featuring Booker, Barney, Trench, and a second version of Mr. Church. Yes, that's a 4 pack of toys featuring little plastic likenesses of Chuck Norris, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Bruce Willis.  It's been scientifically proven that if you give this set to a young boy, he'll spontaneously hit puberty and begin growing a beard.

You can give us a full smile now, Bruce- we forgive you for Hudson Hawk.
 
Pulp Fiction Geoms: Butch by NECA
Wait...you're telling me that the Django Unchained figures were controversial, but no one cared about these?
 In 2004 NECA jumped on the brick/mini figure bandwagon with their own Geoms.  They didn't last long, but they did release quite a few characters from Quentin Tarantino's 1994 masterpiece "Pulp Fiction." Of course, Willis' character Butch was included, along with the Katana he wields when killing Maynard.  I'm sure that a golden watch accessory would have been cool to include, but NECA was probably concerned that it might be too small and kids might try to stick it somewhere it doesn't belong.

Sin City: John Hartigan by NECA
Fun Fact: To achieve the black & white color scheme of Sin City, directors Rodriguez and Miller painted the cast with various shades of gray paint.

  In 2005 NECA released an excellent series of action figures based on the Robert Rodriguez/ Frank Miller adaptation of Miller's graphic novel series. Since the film is mainly black and white, NECA released both black and white and color versions of most of the figures released.  Bruce Willis' character, police officer John Hartigan, received three figures in the line: A 6 inch black & white version, a 6 inch full color version,   and an 18 inch black and white Hartigan that talked.  While the figure reflects the "aged" character Willis plays in the film, it is most certainly an excellent sculpt. Hartigan's coat and tie are dynamically sculpted as if being blown by a cold, blustery wind.  Of course, he comes armed with a revolver and a lead pipe, ready to show the Yellow Bastard he means business.  

G.I. Joe Retaliation: Joe Colton by Hasbro
Bruce Willis only wears one knee pad. Just because.

   In G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Willis will be playing Joe Colton, the original G.I. Joe. While I'm not sure what that means in the new movie universe, in the Larry Hama comics continuity General Joseph Colton was the original member of the G.I. Joe team and was actually the guy represented by the original 12 inch and Adventure Team figures.  Anyways, some fans are starting to find Joe Colton in stores, so if you've ever wanted a 3 3/4 inch Bruce Willis to hang out with Sy Snootles and the Max Rebo Band, this is your chance. 

Armageddon: Harry Stamper by Mattel
An example of the earliest, and crappiest, Bruce Willis toy of all time.

   In 1998 Mattel released two action figures based off of the Michael Bay travesty movie "Armageddon" under their Hot Wheels brand. One figure was based on Ben Affleck's character (he probably came with a box of animal crackers or something) and the other was based off of Bruce Willis' character Harry Stamper. I vaguely remember these warming pegs until stores cleared them out that summer. They kind of remind me of lame versions of the Inhumanoids or even lamer versions of the Centurions.

 

Bruce Willis 1/6th scale figures by Various Companies
That's quite a few accessories and a nicely detailed outfit. The nude, mirror dancing Simon Gruber variant doesn't come with anything.

  As many 1/6th scale figures are manufactured and released by foreign companies, it is pretty common to find unlicensed figures bearing the likeness of popular actors and actresses, often reflecting their most famous roles.  Here's a Bruce Willis figure that nicely replicates his look in the Die Hard series. The Tears of the Sun styled figure is actually the "Navy Seal Special" by Art Toys, but it certainly looks like Willis in his role as Lt. A.K. Waters.
True Story: In 2003, Bruce Willis contemplated joining the military to help fight in the 2nd Iraq War.  Can you imagine if Saddam Hussein had received reports that Bruce freaking Willis was out looking for him? He might have just surrendered.


The Fifth Element: Korben Dallas by N2 Toys (Prototypes- These were never released!)
It's a crime against humanity these never got released.

"The Fifth Element" is one of the best sci-fi movies ever released.  It was fresh, original, colorful, and just begged to be made into toys. N2 toys had some prototypes that were shown at Toy Fair one year, but they never got released (rumor has it that Gary Oldman and Bruce Willis didn't want to sign away likeness rights.  The world should have never been denied a Leeloo figure.


and not a video game, but still being included to pad this article out....
Apocalypse by Neversoft/ Activision (Sony Playstation)

In 1998 Neversoft and Activision released "Apocalypse," an action/ sci-fi 3rd person shooter that starred the likeness and voice of Bruce Willis as Trey Kincaid, the former colleague of a man known as The Reverend who is creating the four horsemen of the apocalypse with the intention of bringing about ultimate destruction.  While it's not a big deal these days, when "Apocalypse" was released it was pretty unusual to have a major celebrity starring in a "non movie tie in" video game. The game was OK. Nothing too special, (I remember beating it during a weekend rental) but it did make nice use of the Dual Shock controller when it was fairly new.  One controller moved Kincaid while the other let you fire in any direction.

Did I miss any Bruce Willis action figures?  If so, please leave a comment or let me know at thepicreview@gmail.com.

Barbecue17 is still waiting for action figures based off of The Fifth Element, Unbreakable, The Last Boy Scout, and The Kid.  He also wants a Demi Moore action figure so he can reenact business meetings with all of the owners of Planet Hollywood.  He has an extensive collection of action figure and Lego reviews on Amazon.

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