Toy Review: Imaginext DC Super Friends RC Mobile Command Center

DC Super Friends RC Mobile Command Center
Imaginext

Our Score: 4 out of 5 Stars

With the Imaginext DC Super Friends RC Mobile Command Center, young Super Heroes can steer the action from the palms of their hands with the remote control, sending the command center forward and in a backward turn. At the press of the transform button, the Batwing platform rises, revealing the full command center with projectile launcher, jail, and cockpit for Batman. This transforming, crime-fighting machine is the perfect home base for your young Super Hero to create all sorts of action-packed, crime-fighting adventures with their favorite Caped Crusader!

Imaginext continues to really impress me with their DC Super Friends line. One of their newer releases the RC Mobile Command Center is packed with features that will surely enhance your child’s play experience. From the Centers remote control action to its impressive lights and sound and to top it all of a launching Batwing! Imaginext pulled out all the stops on this one. The toy is controlled by a four button remote which has good sized buttons making easy for even younger children to use and when not in use the remote hooks nicely to the back of the center for easy storage. Some other nice details were the fold down sides which house a jail cell and an additional projectile shooter. The cockpit of the vehicle also folds down where there is a seat for the included Batman figure.

Toy Tester Ian w/ the Command Center

Our toy tester Ian really gave the Command Center a good workout as he patrolled up and down the hallway of our house for what seemed like hours pausing only to see who he could land the launching Batwing on. (That thing really launches a good distance) From a parents point of view the toy offers quite a bit. Like all Imaginext toys the Center features a rugged build design that will survive even the roughest play. The only real drawback we could find was that once the toy is off the wheels lock which does not allow users to push the toy around freely. With the toy being a touch on the heavier side this may make moving the center a touch difficult for smaller children. That aside the DC Super Friends Mobile Command Center is a rolling, talking, lighted, launching good time that will certainly put a smile on your young ones face this holiday season.

 

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Toy Review: Imaginext Teen Titan Tower

Teen Titans Tower
Imaginext

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Fans of Cartoon Networks “Teen Titans Go” can now bring the fun of the show into their playrooms with Imaginext’s new “Teen Titans Go” line of figures and play sets. At the center of the series is the Teen Titans Tower a, multi tiered play set which features transforming couch launchers, a movable elevator and a gym area complete with sparring dummy. The Tower is a great addition any growing Imaginext collection or as your first introduction to the Imaginext toy line.

Toy Tester Ian w/ the Teen Titan Tower

Included with the set are three figures (Robin, Mammoth & Silkie) which allow you to jump right in and start playing without the need for additional purchases. This was something our 5 year older tester Ian really liked as the figures are just as much fun as the play sets they accompany. Another cool feature was the couch launchers which are nicely hidden within the third level of the tower. With a turn of the Power pad the couches transform in to projectile launchers complete with pizza shaped missiles ready to defend the tower from whatever Mammoth can throw at it.

Though the Teen Titan Tower might not pack as many features as some of Imaginext’s more elaborate play sets it’s still a fun toy that fans of the television series will want to get their hands on. The colors and details of the set are spot on and the included three characters is a great bonus. With only a few shopping days left until Christmas the Teen Titan Tower is a toy that you can’t go wrong picking up for that special someone on your list.

Toy Review: Imaginext DC Super Friends Batbot Xtreme

Toy Review: Imaginext DC Super Friends Batbot Xtreme

DC Super Friends Batbot Xtreme
Imaginext

Our Score 4 out of 5 stars

The Imaginext DC Super Friends Batbot Xtreme is the ultimate toy for Batman fans. Your young Super Hero will have a blast defending Gotham from all sorts of diabolical Super-Villain attacks! At over two-feet tall, the Batbot Xtreme towers over enemies and is packed with tons of features such as extendable wings, multiple projectile launchers, a hidden Batcycle, a voice changer, and real punching fists all accessible with turn of a power disk making this a great toy for any age.

Imaginext delivers the goods once again as they continue to build on their already impressive DC Super Friends lines. This time around is the Batbot Xtreme. Direct from the DC Comic series comes this towering toy that based on just size alone is pretty impressive. Coming in at just over two feet tall youngster are eye level with this immensely interactive toy. Our five year old toy tester Ian was immediately in awe of this toy even before we got it out of the box.

With all of the launching abilities this robot offers coupled with the expandable wings complete with punching power you would think that would be enough but, the creators really went the extra distance with this product as you also get a launching bat cycle, an opening chest compartment complete with elevator which can transport figures in to the cockpit of the robot and, to top it all off a voice changer which allows a users voice to be transformed into that of the robot. This feature was one that Ian really loved as not only did it add to the creative play experience it provided a good amount of giggles both for him and mom and dad.

Toy Tester Ian w/ the Batbot Xtreme

Imaginext really hit it out of the park with the Batbot Xtreme. Yes the $99 price tag might seem a bit steep at first glance but, once you really take a look at all the toys features and its rugged construction you can quickly see that this toy is one which will provide hours of fun and enjoyment for many years to come. Ian certainly put the Batbot through its paces and after a weekend of play the only negative we could find is that for smaller children it can be a bit difficult to move because of the size. This resulted in a few calls from the play room to mom and dad for a little help.

Possibly the addition of a few small wheels on the bottom would enhance the play even more and make moving a little easier however, its always nice to get that call for help as my wife and I were quickly recruited in to the play. With the holidays right around the corner Imaginext’s Batbot Xtreme is a near perfect toy to add to your loved ones list this year no matter what age.

DVD Review “Doc McStuffins: Toy Hospital”

Actors: Laya DeLeon Hayes, Lara Jill Miller, Robbie Rist, Loretta Devine, Jess Harnell
Studio: Buena Vista Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date: October 18, 2016
Run Time: 142 minutes

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

“Doc McStuffins: Toy Hospital” is the latest DVD release from the popular Disney Junior series “Doc McStuffins”. Coincidentally, “”Doc McStuffins: Toy Hospital” is also the new title of the show for the fourth season. The only episode though from the new season is “Welcome To McStuffinsville”, which is basically what Doc McStuffins: The Movie” could be if they made it ever. It is a full-length adventure with a great new adventure and new songs. It is a great introduction into the new season. I wish the DVD continued the “Toy Hospital” trend though and included more episodes from season four.

Official Premise: Join Doc as she expands her practice from the backyard clinic to the magical new world of McStuffinsville, where she will carry on a family tradition by becoming Chief Resident of McStuffins Toy Hospital. After Grandma McStuffins shares the news that she too has the ability to bring toys to life, she transports Doc and her friends to McStuffinsville, a magical world made up entirely of toys. There, Doc appoints Lambie in charge of the toy nursery, Stuffy on vet duty, Chilly as receptionist and Hallie as head nurse.

The additional episodes included on this DVD are “Baby McStuffins/Selfless Snowman”; “Runaway Love/Tour De McStuffins”, “Bringing Home Baby” and “Baby Names/Night, Night Lala!”. These episodes are all from the latter side of season three. Great episodes but doesn’t fit the “Toy Hospital” theme that the DVD is really pushing. So I feel like that is a bit of a miss here. As well as the episodes, there is also a cute Exclusive Toysponder Bracelet included with this DVD!

 

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Celebrate National Cat Day on October 29th with Cat Paw – The Friendly Yet Feisty Toy

Cat Paws (#CatPaw) from Wicked Cool Toys are wildly fun and purrrfect for everyone! Creep out co-workers, amuse cat lovers and STUPEFY cats themselves with the amazing, bizarre, wonderful and super fun CAT PAW! Cat Paw features four different cat styles to choose from which includes a Orange Shorthair Cat Paw, a White Persian Cat Paw, a Maine Coon Cat Paw and a Black Cat Paw. Each Cat Paw includes two realistic sounds (friendly and feisty) and an awesome clawing action! Simply pull on the trigger to activate sound and movement – a light pull for the friendly sound and a firm grip and hold for the feisty sound!
Once you see one, you have to have them all!

Cat Paws are fur sure to be the life of any party, fill an ordinary with extraordinary moments, strike up conversations with just about anyone, and bring endless joy to everyone, even your beloved four-legged family members! Cat Paws are available at Kmart, Toys “R” Us and toysrus.com. Ages 2-100 Price: $9.99

Check out the Catchy Cat Paw Jingle – It’s Pawesome –

 

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Blu-ray Review “Toy Story of Terror!”

Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Carl Weathers, Stephen Tobolowsky, Timothy Dalton
Director: Angus MacLane
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Release Date: August 19, 2014
Run Time: 22 minutes

Special: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

One of the best things to happen to “Toy Story” was the continuing of the franchise through Toy Story Toons. These are short and absolutely amazing mini-stories that have been shown in front of Pixar and Disney films since “Toy Story 3”. “Toy Story of Terror!” is the longest of the group and was planned as Halloween special last Fall. The film sees the original talents returning including Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Timothy Dalton, Don Rickles, Kristen Schaal, Wallace Shawn and Carl Weathers as series newcomer Combat Carl.  The film is a little scary but definitely another great installment in this franchise.

Official Premise: What starts out as a fun road trip for the Toy Story gang takes an unexpected turn for the worse when the trip detours to a roadside motel. After one of the toys goes missing, the others find themselves caught up in a mysterious sequence of events that must be solved before they all suffer the same fate.

The Blu-ray edition of Toy Story of Terror! comes in a Combo pack with a Blu-ray and Digital HD copy. The 1080p transfer is gorgeous like you would expect from the Toy Story franchise and Disney/Pixar. It crazy to believe but this special also comes with an epic DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track. I am really impressed with this track.

Toy Story of Terror! Blu-ray doesn’t come alone either as it is comes with three of Toy Story Toons shorts including “Hawaiian Vacation”, “Small Fry” and “Partysaurus Rex”. It also includes some never-before-seen bonus features as well. There are three Vintage Toy Commercials, which can be viewed as act breaks during the film or separately with Director Introductions. There is also an Audio Commentary, Deleted Scenes with Editor Introductions and “Team of Specialists,” in which director Angus MacLane goes behind the scenes.

“Toy Story of Terror!” isn’t the only Toy Story Toons short to get extras though, “Hawaiian Vacation”, “Small Fry” and “Partysaurus Rex” also come with audio commentary tracks. So if you think about you aren’t just buying this for “Toy Story of Terror!”, you are getting much more as well. Lastly there is also a D23 Teaser included. Disney/Pixar is tackling Christmas this year with the new special, “Toy Story That Time Forgot”, so I can’t wait for that and also up next is a new Toy Story Toons short, “Mythic Rock”.

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie” Starring Megan Fox, Will Arnett and Whoopi Goldberg Inspires Nationwide Stretchkins Fitness Toy Craze

NEW YORK, June 4, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the new film from Paramount and Michael Bay starring Megan Fox, Will Arnett and Whoopi Goldberg will open nationwide on August 8 and is set to be the family smash hit of the summer.

For kids who want to take home their very own ninja turtle look no further than Stretchkins. The fun fitness toys have started a craze on the East Coast, and are now available nationwide at Walmart and Toys “R” Us. The officially licensed Ninja Turtle Stretchkins will go into stores in all 50 states from July.

Priced from $19.95, kids can have fun and get fit with their very own Stretchkins, available as Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello, in addition to the classic Playful Puppy, Pretty Unicorn, and Red Dragon models.

The much loved line of life-size stretchable, cuddly toys, are great for summer as they encourage boys and girls to get up and moving, kick up their heels, and get physical, all while having good time.

Marvin Azrak, a grandfather of 13, developed Stretchkins to take action against child obesity; “I wanted to create a new type of toy, one that would get my grandkids off their seats, away from their computers and video games, and into action.”

Whether you decide on a classic model or one of the fab four turtle designs, each toy comes with an accompanying ‘Dance and Stretch’ DVD that helps children enjoy happier, more active lives.

About Stretchkins
Stretchkins come in five fun designs: Playful Puppy, True Blue Elephant, Pretty Unicorn, , Red Dragon and Jumping Frog. The Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles will go on sale in July 2014.

Available online and nationwide in Toys “R” Us and Walmart, each classic design retails at $19.95 while branded designs retail at $29.99, plus any shipping and handling costs.

Stretchkins is currently used by autism non-profits where it has proven to hold value in encouraging play and development in autistic children who respond well to the various figures.

Learn more at: https://www.stretchkins.com

Video Game Review “Disney Infinity: Phineas and Ferb Toy Box Pack”

Video Game: Disney Infinity
Format: Any Platform
Media: Accessory
Release Date: April 1, 2014

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Disney Infinity is like the gift that just keeps on giving. The latest toy box pack released is “Phineas and Ferb”, even though it included Phineas and Agent P (while excluding Ferb). Personally, I would want Agent P anyway over Ferb (poor Ferb, you don’t talk much…you don’t get much love). The Disney Channel animated series has become so popular over the years. I remember about back around 2008, I was dying to find a Perry the Platypus plush doll and I couldn’t find anything anywhere. Now there is so much merchandise and this show is still going strong with over 200 episodes aired to date.

I play this game a lot and of course we all have our favorite characters to kick around the toy boxes with. Previously I have been having a blast with Sorcerer Mickey but I think Agent P might be taking the reign for sure. He is such a fun character and also has a pretty wicked flying fedora is in artillery. Phineas is no less cooler though. I can see tons of kids getting very creative with their toy boxes and taking on the persona of the character. Plus he also packs a very handy baseball blaster on him.

Along with these two toy box characters, this pack also included two wave 3 power discs. If you follow the game, you will realize that Wave 3 has not even been released yet, so this is a real treat as well. The first is “Tri-State Area Terrain” Texture set and the second is “Danville Sky” Skydome. The transformation of the toy box really looks spot on with the show’s aesthetic value. If you are a fan of the show you get to run around in these well know locations from the show.

I am not sure that this is the absolute final word but I have been following this game for a while and I have a feeling that this might be the last toy box set in series 2. I have been searching online and I have not heard any word about future characters, which means that Disney Interactive might be gearing up and holding out for “Disney Infinity 2”. Either way if you are looking for more ways to expand this amazing game, the Phineas and Ferb Toy Box Pack is a must have for any fan of the show.

Florida Xtravaganza – Toy, Comic, Art & Fan Convention Returns November 15-17th!

Back, by popular demand… the Original Florida Xtravaganza Toy, Comic, Art and Fan Convention!

The Doubletree Seaworld (formally International Plaza) Hotel on NOVEMBER 15 – 17 2013

Florida Xtravaganza will be a family run, fun collectible convention where you WILL find all of the rarest and most sought after toys, comics and collectibles on your want list! It promises to be the most fun filled weekend of the year for collectors and fans alike and it is all in a single location!

It will also showcase the first PEZ-Lando Convention!, which promises to be an event not to be missed. It will be a “Collector’s Meet” included within the Florida Xtravaganza event this year and plans to be a stand alone convention next year! Attendees will have access to everything included in their admission and there will be exclusive items available for this show only!

Appearing at FX! Actors from the classic “A Christmas Story.” Scott Schwatrtz, Ian Petrella, Zach Ward and Yano Anaya! Also appearing is wrestling icon Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake. 

UPDATE 9/30/13 – Steve Urkel from “Family Matters”. Appearing at FX for his first ever convention signing!… Jaleel White! Born Nov. 27, 1976 in Pasadena, CA, Jaleel Ahmad White began working in front of the camera in commercials at the age of three, and quickly became a veteran child actor, booking appearances on everything from “The Jeffersons” (CBS, 1975-1985) to “Charlie & Co.” (CBS, 1985-86) to “Mr. Belvedere” (ABC, 1985-1990). In fact, he almost landed the role of “Rudy” on “The Cosby Show” (NBC, 1984-1992) until Bill Cosby decided to make the character a girl. White’s star-making role, however, came from a more unlikely place: a one-time guest spot on the sitcom “Family Matters” (ABC/CBS, 1989-1998) as the cartoonishly nerdy Steve Urkel. Most recently Jaleel has starred on Total Blackout and Dancing with the Stars.

 

 

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DUN DUN DAHHH! Dreamworks Animation’s Epic Comedy-Adventure, “The Croods”, Arrives on Blu-ray™ Deluxe Edition and DVD on October 1st

 

DUN DUN DAHHH! DREAMWORKS ANIMATION’S EPIC COMEDY-ADVENTURE, THE CROODS, ARRIVES ON BLU-RAY™ DELUXE EDITION AND DVD WITH A BELT PLUSH TOY – FOR A LIMITED TIME – ON OCTOBER 1ST
Over $582 Million at the Box Office Worldwide!
Blu-ray™ Deluxe Edition and DVD are Packed with Croodaceous Content!
Get THE CROODS on Digital HD™ Two Weeks Early!

 
 

LOS ANGELES, CA – Dun Dun Dahhh! Lauded by critics as “the first great animated film of 2013” (Pete Hammond, Movieline), Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment announces the blockbuster hit, DreamWorks Animation’s THE CROODS, will debut on Digital HD™ on September 15 and Blu-ray 3D™, Blu-ray™ and DVD on October 1. “An instant animated classic,” (Jake Hamilton, FOX-TV), THE CROODS promises to bring the whole family together “from 4 to 104” (Sam Rubin, KTLA), to delight in “stunning visuals, humor and heart,” (Jim Hill, Huffington Post) as the world’s first family embark on an unforgettable adventure. The Blu-ray™ and DVD are chock full of fun bonus material that will bring the vibrant, amazing world of THE CROODS home for the whole family to enjoy. The perfect treat for kids of all ages, THE CROODS Blu-ray™ and DVD comes with a lovable Belt plush toy for a limited time only.

 

Join the Croods on the journey of a lifetime in the epic comedy-adventure that “has the magical wonder of How To Train Your Dragon” – Jake Hamilton (Fox-TV). When their cave is destroyed, the Croods set out to explore a spectacular landscape filled with fantastic creatures, strange surprises…and a whole new world of adventure!

 

Written and directed by Chris Sanders (Lilo & Stitch) and Kirk DeMicco (Space Chimps),THE CROODS is “an Animated Avatar,” hails Bill Bregoli of CBS News and is the must-see animated film of the year! Fans of all ages will be cracking up for the adventure everyone loves. Led by an outstanding voice cast featuring Oscar®-winner* Nicholas Cage, Golden Globe®-nominee** Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds and Oscar®-nominee*** Catherine Keener, the Croods invite your whole family to travel back in time and discover their world.

 

The purchase of the Blu-ray™ or DVD unlocks additional content on THE CROODSColoring App, which allows children to color their favorite characters and scenes from the film, add text and voice to the story, and then share their storybook on their TVs at home. Also on the Blu-ray™, families can join Guy, Eep and Belt as they introduce the crazy “Croodaceous Creatures” – the striking and unique animals from the film – and much more. And for a limited time only, any purchase of the Blu-ray™ or DVD comes with a lovable Belt toy! Dun Dun Dahhh! Pre-order today!

 

DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods Blu-ray™ Deluxe Edition
The Croods Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy Deluxe Edition include a Belt plush toy for a limited time and more than an hour of bonus features:
     Feature film in high definition

 

     Blu-ray Exclusive Bonus Features:
The Croodaceous Creatures of Croods! – Find out more about your favorite Croods creatures!
Be An Artist! – Now you can draw Belt, Macawnivore and Mousephant
The Croods Coloring & Storybook Builder App

 

     Additional Bonus Features:
Belt’s Cave Journal – Take a journey with Belt and Guy as they rescue a Jackrobat
Belt’s Cave Journal – Take a journey with Belt and Guy as they rescue a Jackrobat
World of DreamWorks Animation – Music videos from your favorite DreamWorks Animation feature films

 

DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods Blu-ray™ 3D Deluxe Edition
The Croods Blu-ray™ 3D + Blu-ray™ + DVD + Digital Copy Deluxe Edition includes the following:
     Feature film in high definition and 3DAll the Blu-ray™ and DVD content listed above

DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods DVD
The single disc DVD includes a Belt plush toy for a limited time plus the following:
     Feature film in standard definition
     Bonus Features:
Belt’s Cave Journal
Croods Cuts (Lost Scenes)
World of DreamWorks Animation
Previews

 

ABOUT DREAMWORKS ANIMATION
DreamWorks Animation creates high-quality entertainment, including CG animated feature films, television specials and series and live entertainment properties, meant for audiences around the world. The Company has world-class creative talent, a strong and experienced management team and advanced filmmaking technology and techniques. DreamWorks Animation has been named one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” by FORTUNE® Magazine for five consecutive years. In 2013, DreamWorks Animation ranks #12 on the list.  All of DreamWorks Animation’s feature films are produced in 3D. The Company has theatrically released a total of 26 animated feature films, including the franchise properties of Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon, Puss In Boots, and The Croods.

 

ABOUT TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX HOME ENTERTAINMENT
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment is the industry leading worldwide marketing, sales and distribution company for all Fox produced, acquired and third party partner film and television programing. Each year TCFHE expands its award-winning global product portfolio with the introduction of new entertainment content through established and emerging formats including DVD, Blu-ray™ and DigitalHD™. Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment is a subsidiary of 21st Century Fox.

Exclusive “Star Wars” Plush Toy Giveaway [ENDED]

THIS GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED AND WINNERS HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED VIA EMAIL. PLEASE CHECK BACK EACH WEEK FOR NEW GIVEAWAYS!

To celebrate the arrival of San Diego Comic Con this month, Media Mikes is teaming up with Comic Images for an awesome “Star Wars” plush toy giveaway. Check out them out below and if you would like to enter for your chance to win one of these great prizes, please leave us a comment below or send us an email indicating your favorite Star Wars character? This giveaway will remain open until July 26th at Noon, Eastern Time. This is open to all fans of Media Mikes, worldwide!! One entry per person, per household. All other entries will be considered invalid. Media Mikes will randomly select winners. Winners will be alerted via email.

 

 

Also if you like these items above, then you need to check out the three new lines and one new line extension that Comic Images will debuting at Comic-Con this year:

STAR WARS Creatures, a line of 10” plush featuring four of the iconic characters, including the beast-of-burden Bantha, carnivorous Rancor, snow lizard Tauntaun and icey Wampa. Each is made from soft, huggable materials, lending comfort (but watch your fingers and toes!) to each owner and can be purchased as a collection or as gifts.

STAR WARS Rag Dolls, a unique interpretation of traditional rag dolls featuring famous STAR WARS characters. The 7” plushes are made of safe, all-new materials and feature tremendous attention to detail. The line includes Darth Vader, Chewbacca, Yoda and Stormtrooper and are attractive to children ages 2 to 200 (as lifespans are longer in the Star Wars universe.)

STAR WARS Back Pals, an extension of the highly successful Back Buddy line, featuring Darth Vader and Yoda. For those who wish to strap on their STAR WARS passion for the world to see, these are plush, squared and fully padded to protect tablets, phones and other electronics as well as books, wallets and more. Crafted to show fully formed features, and with adjustable straps making them suitable for all ages, the Back Pals are sure to stop people in their tracks to ask, “Where did you get that backpack?!” And, continuing the tradition of introducing Star Wars characters as Back Buddies is the new 24” long Wampa Back Buddy, the newest member of that line.

Comic-Con attendees can see and hold all the new products at the Comic Images display at Comic-Con, Booth 2913B in the LUCAS PAVILION.

Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2013, Comic Images manufactures and markets licensed brand image plush and collectible toys, footwear, bags and more, featuring characters from STAR WARS, Marvel, Universal, Moshi Monsters and more. For more information visit www.ComicImages.com.

 

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Mark Walsh talks about directing Pixar’s Toy Story Toons “Partysaurus Rex”

Mark Walsh has been animating with Pixar going back to “A Bug’s Life”. He took on the role of Directing Animator for Dorey on “Finding Nemo”. Most recently he has gone behind the camera and directed the newest Toy Story Toons called “Partysaurus Rex”. Personally, I think it is brilliant and my personal favorite of any Pixar short. Media Mikes had a chance to really dive in about the short with Mark and find out some really cool facts about the film.

Mike Gencarelli: You’ve been with Pixar almost since the beginning, how was it stepping away from the animating desk and behind the camera directing the Toy Story Toons short “Partysaurus Rex”?
Mark Walsh: I love it. I have been reading articles about different actors who are turning directors. Largely what an animator is an actor. So to move to directing has been a similar experience. I think it is really fun and I enjoy the collaboration of it, even more than animating. I think animating is trying to create an emotion or feeling and directing is the same thing but on a larger scale. Yes, there are many more things to worry about. Yes, the buck stop with you…but the feeling of creation and collaboration, especially when something works is unparallel. I love it.

MG: Where you nervous at playing with the “Toy Story” brand?
MW: Not really. I am familiar with the characters. I worked with them before on the TV commercials for “Toy Story 3”. Working with the creator of the series, John Lasseter, there isn’t anything that he would let through that isn’t right. John will really be interested in how each director is going to push things. I think that is why “Toy Story 3” feels like a “Toy Story” film but also feels like a Lee Unkrich film. That is because John invites the input of the new director and he still makes sure it stays within the world. So with that support on hand, I felt invigorated to try new things. “Partysaurus Rex” is pretty different than the usual. But it I was happy knowing that the guardians of the franchise, here at Pixar, were there to make sure that I didn’t step out of bounds.

MG: I like that Rex gets a chance to shine. He is a funny character!
MW: Isn’t he great!? Rex is just such a sweet character. What I like most about Dorey from “Finding Nemo” is that she is a comedy relief character. But she is rare comedy relief character that gets a spotlight to see what it is like to be the comedy relief character. In her case, it is kind of sad. Rex is similar in a way. He is so nervous and nerdy that he funny. However what is it like to actually be that guy? I had that experience in school when I was a kid. So I just tapped into that for the movie.

MG: How long did this short take to make from idea to completion?
MW: A long time actually. It took about two years from start to finish, which seems long for six and half minutes. But there are two things that were going on. First, we had to wait for “Small Fry” to get finished. They were both produced by our sister studio at Pixar Canada. They are a really small studio, smaller than Pixar was when I came on during “A Bug’s Life”. They have a really great culture there but they can’t handle five or six shorts at the same time. Both Angus MacLane and I started on our shorts at the same time but I had to wait until they finished. Also it took two years since the itself process is just very long and arduous. There isn’t any stage of the production where the questions aren’t asked “Can we make this better?”, “How can we approve this?”, or “Can we add any more entertainment value here?”. That takes time. I was really pleased though because the shorts at Pixar gets treated the same way that the features do.

MG: Tell us about collaborating with BT for the music?
MW: BT is amazing. You listen to electronic dance music and some people think “How hard could it be?”. You have a drum beat and maybe some synthesizers. BT is not one of those people. He is an artist. What I liked about BT’s work is that it has the most emotion to me compared to other artists and DJs. When you are working in film, especially a short like “Partysaurus Rex”, emotion is what you are after. I wanted music that would be like a second character. I am very glad he found the time for us and that we were able to collaborate. The music gets louder, more intense and a bit crazier as the film goes on along with the party. So it kind of represents the party in a way. The music had to start small and get crazy, so the biggest challenge was reining it in. BT was able to do that so well. He just brought idea after idea and that was the best part of working with him.

MG: How does it feel to be the first Pixar short to not only have a MP3 single but also get a level in video game “Tap Tap Revenge”?
MW: I love it. Usually shorts don’t get this short of reaction. Especially a franchise related short. I was just trying to create this story with fun music that matched it. I wasn’t even sure if people would like it, but the response has just been amazing. It has been positive for all ages, especially young people. There is so much music that BT made, but the film just wasn’t long enough. We kept getting request after request for music from the film. On the single, BT had used “Partysaurus” as the inspiration even including dialogue and created this track, which plays so well on the dance floor. I listen to it every day and I feel that it even works better than the version in the film.

MG: How many hidden Pixar nods are there in this short, like the Sulley toilet cover?
MW: [laughs] Yeah, there is a lot in there actually. There is quite a few “Finding Nemo” references, since I worked on “Nemo” as the directing animator for Dorey. When we cut to the underwater guys and the “What Up Fishes” scene, Mr. Ray from “Finding Nemo is down there as well as one of the dolphins from that film. There is T-Bone from “Small Fry”, who floats by. There are a lot of “Toy Story 3” characters. But I am not going to tell you all of them; I want people to find them out for themselves.

MG: You also voice the new character Drips the Whale, tell us about that?
MW: When you are trying to get the story worked out, you are looking for something that is funny and gets it done. I liked the idea of a faucet cover, so kids won’t hit there heads, and I’ve seen them for sale. I thought it would be funny to have it coming out of his mouth, so he was permanently talking like this [mumbling in Drips’ voice]. We always record our voices as temporary voices when we are developing the story. It helps us find out if the movie is working before you bring in Tom Hanks or Tim Allen, which is great. Drips and also Puffy, aka “What Up Fishes” are my voices. Due to time, the fact that it was already funny and we didn’t have a name star attached to play them, John said “Why not!”. So I felt very lucky it is rare that a temporary voice gets to stay in the film.

MG: Do you have plans to take sight on features next to direct?
MW: I hope so. In Hollywood, everyone always says “I am doing this now, but what I really want to do is direct”. Everyone thinks that it is better, but it is really hard work. This was actually the hardest job that I have ever had but it is also the most gratifying. I am happy to just keep, as they say “doing the reps”, lifting weights to get my skills up. What has always been important to me at Pixar is that my craft is good. So I hope that I still have opportunities moving forward to keep improving on that craft. Until then, I am just building up my biceps [laughs].

Book Review “Christmas at the Toy Museum”

Author: David Lucas
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Walker Childrens Paperbacks
Release Date: October 4, 2012

David Lucas is an internationally acclaimed author/illustrator.  This is the second installment in this series, the first was “Lost in the Toy Museum”. This large format book includes wonderful watercolor and ink illustrations.  It is a charming tale that entertains both children, as well as adults. What child doesn’t love Christmas and what child doesn’t love toys?

Premise: “It’s Christmas Eve at the Toy Museum and when the lights go out the magic begins! One very special Christmas Eve, Bunting and the rest of the toys in the museum are gathered around the tree – but what’s this? There are no presents! What can they do? The normally reserved Bunting has a wonderful idea. Why don’t the toys give themselves to each other as gifts?”

David Lucas has captured all the excitement and magic that comes with the eve of Christmas.  I myself have never been able to sleep the night before Christmas and this book definitely captures what happens when us kids do to sleep every night.  If that doesn’t entertain, what is every child’s fantasy then to have their toys come to life.  Smart move David! Smart move! This book is a perfect blend of both and will have kids and their parents getting in the mood for the holiday.

Book Review “The Toy Story Films: An Animated Journey”

Author: Charles Solomon
Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Disney Editions
Release Date: August 7, 2012

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

The “Toy Story” franchise is simply the best animated series in history. It spans over the course of 15 years, has two 2 sequels each one more amazing than the last and is loved by “kids” young and old. It is rare that each film outdoes the one before it and this franchise did just that. It also helped Pixar become the juggernaut that it is today. If “Toy Story” would have flopped, things might have been a lot different for the studio. The author of this book Charles Solomon, also authored “The Art of Toy Story 3” back in 2010, which still sits on my coffee table through today. This book is so much more than just the “Art of” the film, it dives into the development and the stories of what went into creating this wonderful franchise.

Disney Editions has released some really amazing books over the years but still one quite frankly may be their best yet. “The Toy Story Films: An Animated Journey” tells the story of select group of incredibly talented visionaries used their imaginations and created, developed and shared with the us – Woody, Buzz, and the world behind “Toy Story”. There are many interviews with the animators, directors, and voice actors that brought these films and characters to life. There is also the production artwork showcased that was the inspiration behind them. If that all isn’t cool enough there is also a few untold details about originally proposed non-Pixar “Toy Story 3”, which is something I never knew. This book is definitely a must for those who love animation and the inside look into the story of about how this franchise was created to be what it is today.

If the book isn’t great enough it has a wonderful foreword from Studio Ghibli’s Hayao Miyazaki, director of films like “Spirited Away” and “Howl’s Moving Castle”. There is also a very encouraging afterword by Pixar’s own John Lasseter. After “Toy Story 3” wrapped up the trilogy, I was upset with the idea of no more installments but who knows what the future will hold. At least for the time being we get new “Toy Story Toons” shorts every year or two. If for nothing else this book definitely reminds us that we are never too old to use our imagination. Congrats Disney Editions and Charles Solomon for delivering my favorite book of the year.

3D Blu-ray Review “Toy Story 3”

Directed by: Lee Unkrich
Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Ned Beatty, Don Rickles, Michael Keaton, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Blake Clark, Estelle Harris, Jodi Benson
Distributed by: Walt Disney Pictures
MPAA Rating: G
Running time: 103 minutes

Overall Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Growing up with the “Toy Story” franchise, it has become a part of our life and we feel that we have grown with them. This third film excelled as the best in the franchise easily. I think it has the most heart, the best action and the best cast. This film was actually released in 3D in theaters and IMAX. I saw the film in IMAX and it was an experience unlike an other. When this film was released on Blu-ray, I was met with much disappointment that the 3D version was not included. Luckily now I was able to relive that experience and from my home. The 3D on this film is probably the best that Disney has ever released. What I liked most about this film is that it doesn’t even act like it is in 3D and uses it just to enhance the experience of the wonderful film. The Blu-Ray video presentation is obviously flawless and looks so crisp and clear. If you are wondering how this film can improve on the sound from the first two films it is very simple…DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1. That’s right the sound is superb. Overall to date it is my favorite Pixar film and most definitely my favorite 3D release.

Also unlike the first two films 3D Blu-ray release all of the extras are in HD. The first disc of extras include the very cute “Day & Night” short. “Buzz Lightyear Mission Logs: The Science of Adventure” like in the second film is an education short aimed for kids. “Toys!” is a short feature with the filmmakers and animators about working on creating the characters from their childhood toys. Disney is never one to skimp on the sneak peeks with over ten minutes of trailers, including “Cars 2”, “Tangled”, “The Incredibles”, “Mater’s Tall Tales”, “The Search for Santa Paws”, “Bambi” and a few more 3D titles. These are obviously dated since these trailer are from the previous Blu-ray release and are a little dated.

This film has so many extras that they are split over two disc. The commentary is even more intense with a picture-in-picture feature that needs its disc with director Lee Unkrich and producer Darla K. Anderson. They dissect the whole film and really give you an very immersive experience into the film. “Beyond the Toybox” is another commentary track with the supervising animator Bobby Podesta, supervising technical director Guido Quaroni, production designer Bob Pauley, supervising animator Mike Venturini and story supervisor Jason Katz. After being spoiled with the picture-in-picture commentary, it is good but doesn’t compare. “Film Fans” Featurettes is a 40 minutes set of production featurettes, including “Roundin’ Up a Western Opening”, “Bonnie’s Playtime: A Story Roundtable”, “Beginnings: Setting a Story in Motion”, “Life of a Shot”, “Making of Day & Night” and “Paths to Pixar”. These are all amazing and so worth a watch. Like the first two films there are shorts from Pixar including “Where’s Gordon,” “Cereal Bars” and “Clean Start”. If all those aren’t enough for you we have many many more featurettes. Then there is “Toy Story Trivia Dash” is a fun interactive game for the kids. Lastly there are many extra shorts from the publicity, including a series of “Ken’s Dating Tips”, Lots-o-Hugging Bear Commercials” and “Dancing with the Stars at Pixar” and also five domestic and Japanese theatrical trailers and more.