Fanboy Reporter

The Fanboy Reporter supplies you with news, speculation and intrigue for genre television, geek films, graphic novels, toys and other corners of fandom.

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I was initially alarmed when Marvel announced Guardians of the Galaxy. Mostly because I didn’t know how they’d sell a talking raccoon. After the release two full trailers for the movie, I’ve completely gone from alarmed, to having Rocket Raccoon the most anticipated element of the film. I think Rocket Raccoon will become not only a fan favorite – endeared by kids and adult fanboys, alike – but will be promoted to a first tier character, similar to how Iron Man was catapulted into popularity after decades as a second rate superhero.  

There was little surprise ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. got renewed for a second season, especially after finding its legs following the fallout from Captain America: Winter Soldier. The real surprise was the news coupled to the announcement – the rumored Agent Carter series is happening.

Fans were introduced to the character of Peggy Carter in the first Captain America picture, and her story was further fleshed out in a Marvel One-Shot featured in the DVD release of Iron Man 3. The short film, also titled Agent Carter, depicts Carter’s positioning herself as the co-head of a new organization – this group of course, is S.H.I.E.L.D.

The Agent Carter pilot will probably rehash what we saw in the One-Shot. In fact, to keep continuity, the show runners should use footage from that short, but then expand upon it. This series was confirmed as being eight episodes that will run this fall during the mid-season hiatus of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., so it could actually be seen as a companion series rather than spin-off. Here’s the official synopsis:

“Marvel’s Agent Carter, starring Captain America’s Hayley Atwell follows the story of Peggy Carter. It’s 1946, and peace has dealt Peggy Carter a serious blow as she finds herself marginalized when the men return home from fighting abroad. Working for the covert SSR (Strategic Scientific Reserve), Peggy must balance doing administrative work and going on secret missions for Howard Stark all the while trying to navigate life as a single woman in America, in the wake of losing the love of her life – Steve Rogers.”

When rumors began that Marvel Studios were in discussion about creating this series, I was in doubt. I wasn’t sure if we needed two shows about the same theme. If the network blocked the shows together, or aired them in the same time period, there could be a risk of the content becoming tired.

But choosing to limit Agent Carter to short season, and airing in during hiatus, was a brilliant move. There will be a nice parallel, one show following the origin of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the other following its rebirth. There are also great opportunities to flesh out vintage characters we wouldn’t normally have the chance to follow, like Howard Stark and the Howling Commandos.

It’ll be interesting to see how Marvel moves forward with its television programming. They’ve already made history by creating a shared world between film and TV universes, but depending on the success of Agent Carter, we could see another novel approach to world building. If Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. continues into a third and fourth season, could we see new programming each year during its hiatus?

Instead of a second season of Agent Carter, they could develop another character-centric eight episode seasons air during the hiatus. Maybe during the third season’s hiatus we see eight episodes of Deathlok, for example.

Just in time for its final season on HBO, the glam shots for Funko’s POP! Vinyl True Blood figures were released this week - albeit one for the sixth figure in the series - Bill Compton. Funko did a nice job giving us most of our fan favorites, but let’s hope future characters will see the light of day - pun intended - like Tara, Jason and Sam.

We got a glimpse at CW’s Flash during last week’s season finale of Arrow, which gave us a first look at the execution of Barry Allen’s powers of super speed. The network then released an extended 5-minute trailer of the spin-off series – which absolutely blew me away.

First off, one of the hardest super powers to execute onscreen has always been speed. The special effects need to balance the visual execution of speed, while still allowing us to see what’s going on in the scene. In my personal opinion, this is the best example of super speed I’ve seen on television – we get much more than a blur, but the power appears controlled – and the sparks of lightening is a brilliant and beautiful touch.

Some commentators are drawing comparisons between the implied story arc of Flash’s first season, with early seasons from CW’s Smallville. That being, dealing with “freaks of the week.” I think this is a gross simplification. The same incident that gave Barry Allen is newfound powers, also gives powers to a number of others – and there not all as morally grounded as our hero. And even if the first half, or more, of the first season is Allen hunting down “freaks of the week,” that’s a formula that earned Smallville 10 seasons.

However, while the primary story could very well be Barry Allen hunting down criminals who have developed powers, which they abuse – this could easily be an initial goal, which a larger purpose can emerge from. No different than the evolution of Oliver Queen. While Arrow returned to Sterling City to cross off names on his list, the process of doing so changed Queen into a truer hero with nobler motivations.

I’m sure we’ll see plenty of secondary story lines revolving around the operations of S.T.A.R. Labs, including the projects and technologies under development. There’s just as much opportunity for Barry Allen to take on corrupt scientists or rogue machines. Let’s not forget, there’ll also be an ongoing plot to uncover the mysterious death of Allen’s mother.

While this show is in a shared universe with Arrow, the trailer also makes it clear the tone and energy will be very different – this could be attributed to the series taking place in Central City, as opposed to Sterling City – after all, DC properties has always treated a hero’s city as just as much a character as any sidekick or villain. This is even visualized within the trailer. Scenes in Central City are shot with lighter tones, and are more fun and fantastic than the gritty, used environment of Sterling City – which we visit in the trailer during a cameo by Oliver Queen.

One of the last things I loved about this trailer is our first look at Tom Cavanagh as Harrison Wells, the man who spearheaded S.T.A.R. Lab’s particle accelerator and who is responsible for the explosion that leads to the creation of the Flash and other’s affected by the accident. Cavanagh is an endearing actor, and his involvement alone says a lot about the tone we should expect from this show.

The Flash will air on Tuesday nights this fall.

One of my favorite new lines of toys to hit pegs last year was Spin Master’s first wave of Dreamworks Dragons miniature figures. Between the adorable sculpts and affordable retail price, it didn’t take long for these to fly off the shelves – the success of the line even led to the company giving an early release of two characters from its second wave.

Spin Master gave a sneak peak of this year’s lineup of Dreamworks Dragons merchandise at the New York Toy Fair – including new characters slated to appear in the franchise’s upcoming sequel and ongoing television series on Cartoon Network.

The new figures haven’t made their way to American retailers, yet – but they’ve started to show up outside the United States. We got our hands on the new design for Toothless – which is the third Night Fury in the mini dragon line, and depicts Toothless sitting in a begging position, and is perhaps the cutest out of all three versions.

The Terrible Terror and the Viking Dagur are technically part of the second wave of figures, but due to their early release, are widely available in stores. Also, Dagur had a running paint change during production – so you may find a Dagur with either silver or black face paint.

The card back also gives us a look at what dragons should be appearing soon in the United States. These characters should include Bewilderbeast, Skrill, Cloud Jumper, Skull Crusher and a wild Zippleback. It should be noted, that while the wild Zippleback is colored blue, the packaging still reads Barf & Belch – most likely because the name will assist in sales.  

Most excitingly, other countries are stocking an Epic Battle Mini Dragon Set, which appears to be a Toys R’ Us exclusive. This set includes a repackaged Toothless, Bewilderbeast, and a Terrible Terror and Skrill with alternative paint applications – no word yet on whether there will be additional battle sets released.

An amazing line of Hot Wheels vehicles from two years ago, are once again popping up at Giant Eagle stores in the Midwest. This set of six marries classic cars, with classic monsters – wrapping stunning artwork themed around Universal Monsters, around vintage rides. The series features the Mummy, Bride of Frankenstein, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Frankenstein, Dracula and – my personal favorite – The Wolfman. If you happen to run across any of these beauties, they’ll set you back $4.99 each.

It doesn’t matter what you collect, the same problem arises for every fan – running out of space. There are a number of strategies to maximize showrooms: hanging shelves or displays on walls, stringing ships from the ceiling, amongst many other ways to show off your goods – depending on what you’re collecting.

If executed properly, these methods can do more than just open up the room. They can enhance the aesthetics. A nice display can create a more museum-like quality to your collection, helping to curate your collection to friends and family who stop over to visit – display cases help show the value behind your treasures.

One of the hardest items for adult collectors to display is LEGO products. But, thanks to the great minds at Schylling Toys have created an inventive display case for your favorite LEGO Minifigures. In the shape of a LEGO block, this display case can be hung on the wall or sat on a shelf – easily able to showcase your rarest or most valued Minifigures.

Also coming in an assortment of colors, this item measures about 8 inches by 7 inches – and for larger collections – the block shaped display cases can be mounted onto each other. Each display case has a retail value of $14.99 and has been spotted at Target stores.  

While I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the film reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I have no problem getting excited about the latest Funko POP! TMNT characters revealed earlier this week. These figures capture the fun spirit of the 80’s cartoon, and seriously elevate the lineup of Ninja Turtle figures.

Glam shots were released for April O’Neil, Bebop and Foot Soldier. The addition of these three characters nicely rounds out the already released figures of Shredder, Splinter and the four turtles. I am glad Funko decided to use the classic license, rather than the rebooted likeness of these fan favorites.

Earlier this year, Funko officials announced POP! Vinyl figures to go along with Disney’s Frozen. It was announced this week that these figures will include Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Sven and Olaf – pretty much nailing all the major characters fans would want to see in this series.

Fans of AMC’s Breaking Bad should be excited to hear plans to release a lineup of figures for the show – including a Winnebago for the growing line of POP! Rides. While there’s no word on which characters will be made into vinyl, it’s been reported to be a huge lineup – which could hint to as many as nine figures, like we saw with the addition of Arrested Development.

Exciting news for collectors of the Star Wars Black Series 6-inch line was unveiled this past weekend for Star Wars Day. Hasbro announced its San Diego Comic Con exclusive, along with the latest character to be added to the 6-inch lineup – Yoda.

Hasbro officials showcased Jabba the Hutt – one of its first Black Series deluxe figures – at New York Toy Fair earlier this year. The SDCC exclusive will also include a pack-in figure of Salacious Crumb, and accessorized with items from Jabba’s throne room. The accessories include Jabba’s smoking pipe, throne railing and dais.

The exclusive set is reported to also include a special sound clip in the box, featuring Jabba speaking in Huttese. Last year’s exclusive figure was Boba Fett, which included Han Solo in Carbonite. That set was hugely popular, and with this set being the sole way to acquire Salacious Crumb to your Black Series 6-inch collection – there’s little doubt this figure set will be one of the most sought out exclusives this summer.

Hasbro’s reveal of its upcoming Yoda figure is also some thrilling news for fans of the Black Series. Yoda’s sculpt appears to be inspired by his appearance in the Original Trilogy, and it’s nice to see Hasbro return to accessorizing its figures with more than one weapon or item. Yoda will come with his walking cane, Lightsaber and most interestingly – a snake, which gives Yoda a nice Dagobah feel.

Disney released a special 60-second trailer for this fall’s Star Wars Rebels. If you weren’t already stoked for this series, this trailer should get you there! What are your thoughts?