Avengers Age of Ultron Trailer #3 Arrives!

Marvel Entertainment released the third and final trailer for the upcoming film Avengers Age of Ultron and it’s a doozy!  However, don’t just take my word for it:

Yes, I realize that this went live yesterday but a hard-hitting case of the flu knocked a certain site admin off of his game for the past 24 hours.

Wow… there’s a lot to digest in this short two minute eighteen second burst of Marvel goodness.  There’s plenty of creepy James Spader-voiced Ultron, some snippets of the two “Miracles” (because Fox has the rights to the term “mutants”) Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, some hits at a deepening relationship between Natasha Romanoff and Bruce Banner, and Tony Stark admitting that he created Ultron as a “suit of armor for the world.”

What?!!!

We’ve known for some time that the Marvel Cinematic Universe was going to play by its own rules in terms of continuity and events.  Changes such as Nick Fury having never served in World War 2 or the absence of Dr. Donald Blake were par for the course when it came to condensing decades of comic book history into two hour cinematic blocks.  However, it would seem that a major change is in store for Ant Man as Hank Pym is no longer the creator of Ultron.  In addition, this could be the VERY reason that Tony Stark and Steve Rogers come to blows in Captain America 3: Civil War.  (My money’s always on Cap, BTW.)

Regardless, May 1, 2015 cannot come soon enough for this Marvel fan!

Rest in Peace Leonard Nimoy 1931 – 2015

Leonard Nimoy

Rest in peace, Leonard Nimoy.

It was announced today that one of the icons of modern entertainment, Leonard Simon Nimoy passed away due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.  He was 83 years old.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 50 years or are a techno-phobe, you’ve seen his work in some form.  From his most popular role of Spock in the classic Star Trek series to his tenure as “The Great Paris” replacing Martin Landau on Mission: Impossible to his more recent appearance as Dr. William Bell on the Fox series Fringe, Nimoy’s performances captivated generations.

In addition to acting, he was a director, a photography, a teacher, and an author.

I grew up watching Leonard Nimoy, first as Spock in reruns on TV and then on the big screen.  I discovered The Great Paris years later while recovering from back surgery when Mission: Impossible was in heavy syndication on the then-fledgling F/X cable network.  I was captivated by his appearances on Fringe.  Nimoy was more than just “that guy on TV” for me.  He was a familiar presence, a comforting voice and, in real life, an inspiration of what a well-rounded individual could accomplish through perseverance and hard work.

For years, whenever there was a personal tragedy or a death in the family, I found myself watching Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.  The words of both the characters of Kirk and Spock served as an inspiration and a reminder that “how we face death is as important as how we face life.”  Tonight, I’ll be doing the same but this time it will be to remember the life and contributions of one of its cast.

His final tweet, sent on February 23, 2015, is uncannily fitting.

2015-02-27 13_59_55-Leonard Nimoy's final tweet is perfect _ EW.com

Good bye, Mr. Nimoy.  I have been and always shall be your fan.  May your memory and the inspiration that you’ve brought to millions truly live long and prosper.

Happy Holidays from JBL!

Christmas holiday g.i. joe Renegades

Happy Holidays from JBL!

2014 certainly has  been an “interesting” year for G.I. Joe.  It was the year of the 50th Anniversary which celebrated more with whimper than with a bang.  There was the Toys R Us exclusive 50th Anniversary line, and the Hallmark ornament but otherwise Joe received precious little attention from Hasbro to celebrate his half century of inspiring kids around the world. Even this year’s G.I. Joe convention was a more muted affair with Hasbro not in attendance.  Even the Kre-O line seemed to fade this holiday, with Toys R Us slashing prices just before the holidays.

However, the year is soon to draw to a close.  With that, comes a brand new year with brand new possibilities.  After all, the G.I. Joe brand has been nothing if not adaptable in its 50 years on toy shelves. When Joe returns, and I’m certain it will return, it may not be as the Adventure Team, Super Joe, Sgt. Savage, Renegades, Extreme, Sigma 6, or even the celebrated A Real American Hero but that’s the beauty of the brand.  It has evolved over time and adapted to play patterns of the children of its time.

Thanks for visiting JBL in 2014.  We may not be the biggest, most talked about or frequently updated, or flashiest site on the web, but as long as there are fans of G.I. Joe out there, we’ll keep the lights on and the forums open, just in case anyone wants to stop on by, crack open a frosty Yo Joe cola, and talk about G.I Joe– regardless of scale, size or format.

Again, thanks for the stopping by and Happy Holidays!  Here’s to a brighter 2015!

Happy Holidays from JoeBattlelines.com

Sir Patrick Stewart takes G.I. Joe quiz on NPR

Patrick Stewart
Sir Patrick Stewart.  G.I. Joe.  Two entities that have never had much in the way of interaction… until now!

This past weekend Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!, NPR’s weekly news panel game show, featured an interview with the celebrated actor and former captain of the USS Enterprise.  There were the usual Star Trek and theater questions and then host Peter Sagal invited Sir Patrick to play a game entitled “G.I. Joe – Fighting Man from Head to Toe” in which he challenged the actor to answer three questions about our favorite 50 year old toy line.

How did he do?  Check out the transcript below:

SAGAL: I think it would have been hilarious. Well, obviously we could talk to you all day, but we can’t because we must move on to play our game with you. Sir Patrick Stewart, we have invited you here to play a game we’re calling…

BILL KURTIS, BYLINE: G.I. Joe, G.I. Joe, Fighting Man from Head to Toe.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: That was the first jingle ever for G.I. Joe, first introduced by the Hasbro company 50 years ago this month. So in honor of that anniversary, we’re going to ask you three questions about the poseable action figure. Answer two correctly, you’ll win our prize for our listener, the poseable Carl Kasell on their voicemail. Bill, who is Sir Patrick Stewart playing for?

KURTIS: Dawn Schellenberg of Seattle, Washington.

SAGAL: All right. Are you ready, Sir Patrick?

STEWART: I am. I’m apprehensive but I’m ready.

SAGAL: Here we go. Now G.I. Joe – I’m sure you’ve been in the United States long enough to know what these are. These are these eight inch dolls that look like soldiers, G.I. Joes, yes?

STEWART: Yeah, yeah, I know what they are.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: I’m sorry. I need to shrivel now for a bit.

STEWART: No I didn’t mean that to be patronizing.

SAGAL: Too late.

STEWART: I do know what they are and I even know what G.I. stands for.

SAGAL: Oh, OK. Very good. G.I. Joe was developed and brought to market 50 years ago in reaction to an interesting discovery. Was that discovery? A, that watching kids play with war toys made adults more likely to support actual wars; B, that children all over America were snapping off their army man’s legs trying to bend them; or C, that little boys were playing with their sister’s Barbie dolls in secret?

STEWART: I think I would go with C because I think that’s the one that I would like it to be.

SAGAL: Well, your will has made it so. It is in fact true.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: Barbie dolls had come out in the late ’50s, and what people found is that boys were playing with their sister’s Barbie dolls. So Hasbro said we’ll make them a doll the same size and they can play with that. All right. Second question – as the Vietnam War went on and became less popular with the American public, G.I. Joe needed to change. So Hasbro, the company that made G.I. Joe did what? A, gave him a beard just like those hippie peaceniks; B, introduced a new doll to the line, Conscientious Objector Joe; or C, introduced a line of Viet Cong dolls called, quote, “Joe’s noble but misguided enemy.”

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: I think I’m going to go for the beard one. It’s kind of weird sounding but I think I have a memory of seeing a doll like that with a beard. So I’ll go for A.

SAGAL: You are right, you did see a doll like that with the beard…

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: …Because G.I. Joe – they started making with a beard. Real soldiers don’t have beards, they’re not allowed to. G.I. Joe does get in trouble sometimes. Like when which of these happened? A, at a TSA checkpoint in 2011, agents confiscated one G.I. Joe doll’s tiny plastic rifle just in case; B, his patented Kung Fu grip caused protests by Chinese-Americans back in the ’70s who said that to be authentic, it should be called Wushu grip; or C, a packaging error resulted in G.I. Joes being shipped in packages for Ken dolls, leading many to believe that Barbie was stepping out.

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: I think I will go with A with the first one.

SAGAL: You are correct again, Sir Patrick.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: The TSA took the tiny rifle from the G.I. Joe because it was a, quote, “replica of an actual weapon.” A little, little replica. So Bill, how did Sir Patrick Stewart do on our show?

KURTIS: Congratulations Sir Patrick, you got them all right. You’re a winner.

SAGAL: Sir Patrick Stewart is the star of the new movie “Match” out in theaters January 14. Sir Patrick Stewart, what a pleasure to talk to you sir. What an honor. Thank you so much for joining us.

(APPLAUSE)

STEWART: Thank you very much.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

The full transcript of his interview may be found HERE.  You can listen to Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! each weekend on your local NPR station.

NECA 1989 Batman Review from The Breaux Show

Neca 1989 Batman

 

The Breaux Show’s video toy reviews are back with the Toys R Us exclusive NECA 1989 Batman!

I was in high school when Tim’s Burton’s 1989 Batman film exploded onto the big screen and took the nation, and the world, by storm!  A marked contrast to the campy 1966 portrayal, the film which starred Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson presented the Dark Knight as just that– a dark brooding figure in a crime-filled world full of despair.  It established Batman as a serious and complex character in the mind of many movie-goers and led to a pop culture renaissance of the character that included the debut of the seminal Batman: The Animated Series.  Like many comic fans, I was hooked and the Keaton Batman became the benchmark by which all other cinematic attempts at Batman were measured.

So, imagine my delight when NECA managed to redeco their video game inspired action figure in a more traditional colo palate and pair it up with an anniversary Blu-Ray copy of the film, exclusive to Toys R Us!

Even better– good friend of JBL, The Breaux Show, managed to get his hands on one of these amazing figures and uploaded a brand new video review!  Either check out the NECA 1989 Batman review on his YouTube Channel or embedded below!

The Cobra CLAW has arrived! For REAL!

1984 Cobra CLAW

Remember the Cobra CLAW?  You know, the then-futuristic powered glider that debuted back in 1984?

Apparently the future is NOW because Swiss aviation enthusiast Yves Rossy has released a spectacular video of his jet-powered glider taking to the skies of Dubai.  Sure, it lacks a dorsally-mounted laser cannon or wing tip missiles but otherwise this is for all intent and  purpose a real life CLAW!

First Howe & Howe Tech create the Ripsaw, a real-life HISS tank that was featured in G.I. Joe Retaliation, and now this?  Someone keep an eye on Microsoft for something resembling a Weather Dominator!  Or maybe Apple IS working on their own Pyramid of Darkness!

Check out the video below and check out more coverage at Jetman.com!

Bond 24 is revealed as SPECTRE!

James Bond 24 Spectre

Disclaimer: This has absolutely nothing to do directly with G.I. Joe.

Today in London, Eon Productions made the official announcement for the 24th installment in the James Bond franchise.  At a star-studded media event, audiences were introduced not only to the cast and the new car but also to the title for this landmark film.

SPECTRE

Just one word and it sends chills up and down the spine of long-time Bond fans everywhere.  Not seen in any real capacity since 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever, this shadowy organization bent on global domination is poised to make its debut in the 21st century!

For those of you who are unaware of SPECTRE, it’s the Special Executive for Crime, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion.  It’s the mother of all secret terror organizations– and quite possibly the basis for other fictional organizations like HYDRA or even Cobra.  Led by the shadowy #1 (who was later revealed to be Ernst Stavro Blofeld), SPECTRE was revealed to be the organization behind most of the the Connery Bond’s cinematic foes.  From Dr. No, to Rosa Klebb, to Emilio Largo, SPECTRE provided the resources and the manpower for all manner of plots destined to throw the world into chaos.  It’s the stuff of classic spy thrillers and nobody did global secret organizations better than Bond.

Seriously, as a long time Bond fan, this news is incredible!  It shows that the series is maintain ties to its past while putting a fresh new spin on a cinematic franchise that has endured for over a half century.   November 6, 2015 cannot come soon enough!

You can watch an official video of the cast announcement below.

G.I.jOE Woos Jem in Honda Commercial

g.i. joe jem honda

Even at 50, G.I.jOE still has a way with the ladies!

Honda’s current retro “Happy Honda Days” ad campaign has featured a number of classic toys having all manner of adventures in and around the latest Honda vehicles.  However, none of these spots have caught my eye as much as the ones featuring good old Adventure Team Commander G.I.jOE!  In this latest spot, Joe gets his “woo on” and serenades Jem in an effort to melt her icy heart.

Guess what– it works!

Also, Honda is apparently willing to donate $50,000 to the Orange County Children’s Hospital if the video is the “most viewed” from its Holiday Tunes playlist.  If you enjoyed it, consider giving it a share!

It’s good to see that someone is acknowledging the older figures in the G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary year.

Happy Thanksgiving from JBL!

Thanksgiving Christmas G.I. Joe

 

Happy Thanksgiving from JBL!

Sure, it’s not “Joe news” but this time of year it’s nice to take time out of a crazy schedule to appreciate the things that you have.  In the United States, today is the day that millions of Americans sit down with family and friends over a sumptuous meal and try to remember all of the things that they have to be grateful for.  As such, JBL would like to extend some “thanks of our own” on this blustery morning here in Central Illinois.

I’d like to thank each and every person reading this message right now.  It sounds corny but it’s true.  JBL isn’t a for-profit site– content here isn’t created to try and generate revenue.  Instead, new reviews, articles, and the occasional bit of news are all posted to help serve as a resource for the G.I. Joe fans around the world.  As such, I’d like to thank you for stopping by for you’re the reason this site exists!

I’d also toss a shout out to all of the various G.I. Joe creators I’ve met and interacted with over the years.  Without each of your unique talents and vision, the brand that we know today wouldn’t exist.  I know I’m going to miss a plenty of names but to folks like Larry Hama, Kirk Bozigian, Chuck Dixon, Buzz Dixon, Ron Wagner, Herb Trimpe, Brandon Jerwa, Josh Blaylock, Mike O’Sullivan, Ron Rudat, the late Don Levine, the crew from Boss Fight Studio, and others– thank you for your vision, creativity, and perseverance. Sure, Joe seems to have fallen on some hard time lately but the vibrant fandom is keeping the memory of “Man of Action” and “Real American Hero” alive today.

Also, to all of the friends that I’ve made through this hobby, just a quick note of thanks.  I won’t list all of you but I just wanted to say thanks for the support and the acknowledgement that “JBL is still there!”

Lastly, to the men and women of our Armed Forces, I’d like to say thank you.  Past and present, you are truly the REAL American Heroes!

May you all enjoy a blessed day!

Plus, check back next week as we round out the 50th Anniversary Reviews!

JBL Thanksgiving

Happy 50th Anniversary Jonny Quest!

Jonny Quest

Happy 50th Anniversary Jonny Quest!  That’s right– it was 50 years ago today in 1964 that animated action/action series from Hanna Barbera made its debut on ABC and sparked a cult following that lasts to this day.

With its combination of action and science fiction, Jonny Quest took audiences by storm in the 1964 – 1965 Fall season.  The series featured grim action, frequent character deaths, and a much more realistic tone and visual style than anything previous developed by Hanna Barbera – a studio better known for series such as The Flintstones and eventually Scooby Doo. It was comic artist Doug Wildey that gave the series its distinctive style.  The artist took inspiration from then-cutting edge technology featured in magazines like Popular Science and Popular Mechanics as well the comic series Terry and the Pirates and even the first film in the James Bond franchise Dr. No.  Villains and menaces were presented in a realistic fashion and the action was far more cinematic than other animation at the time.  While there were a few exceptions, the series treated its subjects and its stories as seriously as possible and avoided many of the cartoon cliches that were often played for laughs.

Jonny Quest balanced action and humor through the use of its multi-generational and multi-ethnic cast.  While Jonny may have been the title character, the focus of the series was divided up between this genius scientist father, quasi-mystical childhood friend Hadji, and coolest bodyguard ever Race Bannon!  When the series called for dark action, the focus shifted to Dr. Quest and Race while Jonny and Hadji were stars of the more lighthearted adventure sequences.  Last, but not least– there was Bandit, Jonny’s trusty dog whose bark was always more prevalent than his bite.

The “Quest team” faced menaces from lost species to sinister secret organizations to an extra-dimensional energy creature that evoked memories of the classic film Forbidden Planet!  Mummies, Nazi criminals, and even a pterosaur were all menaces that were overcome by this fearsome foursome and their trusty dog!

It wasn’t just the visual style that made Jonny Quest unique.  One has only to watch a few minutes of the series before the distinctive musical style of Hoyt Curtin finds you tapping your fingers to the cool beats of the jazz orchestra.  Rather than the bombastic marches of the Hollywood series, the Adventures of Jonny Quest had a decidedly cool and modern feel that sets the series aside from its peers to this day.  Sadly, an official soundtrack album to this series has never been released, although a solid bootleg album of Curtin’s music can be found through “other means.”

Wait a minute– what does Jonny Quest have to do with G.I. Joe?  One has only to look at the 1970 launch of the G.I. Joe Adventure Team to see the connections.  A daring team of ex-soldiers and scientists turned adventurers and explorers travel the world to avert natural disasters, confront nefarious villains, and even save the occasional endangered species.  Sound familiar?  The G.I. Joe Collector’s Club must think so; the next time you call up their office just listen carefully to the hold music.  (Not to mention several mentions in the Adventure Team newsletter comic and bios.)

The series lasted for only one season on ABC but it returned to the airwaves a few years later on CBS and then a few more years later on NBC making it one of the only series ever to air on all three major networks.  It has served as an inspiration for countless television, comic and movie series over the intervening decades and is still shown on sporadically on Cartoon Network.  Not bad for a half-century old series.  Sure, there were a few follow-up movies and an attempt to modernize the series in the late 90’s but none of these captured the same spark and flair of the original 1960’s series. Now if only we could get some decent 1:18 scale figures of these characters!

Why was Jonny Quest so popular?  Why has it endured for a half century?  I think it’s the fact that Jonny Quest embraces so many genres in one convenient package.  It’s horror, science fiction, spy thriller, and adventure series all rolled into one package.  The stories combined so many elements from 60’s super-science to pulp era villains that its almost hard to drop JQ into one single category.  If you took James Bond, Indiana Jones, Reed Richards, Jack Armstrong, Nathan Drake, and MacGyver and threw them all into a centrifuge the resulting combination would be Jonny Quest!

Happy anniversary, Jonny Quest!  You’ve been often copied but never equaled!