Monday, December 28, 2015

I couldn't help myself: Lady Battle Cop Revisited

You might be wondering what more I could possibly have to say about Lady Battle Cop, having just written an involved (read "involved" as "long winded") first post on this little movie. Well, the truth is I went a little nuts gathering information on that first go-around, and I've got a bunch of stuff left over I don't want to see go to waste.

Besides, the first post was more or less just a walkthrough of the movie's plot. Didn't you find yourself still hungry, afterwards, for more information on LBC herself? Of course you did!

AND NOW THAT HUNGER WILL BE SATISFIED because, having gone through that leftover stuff, I found some things we can use to take a closer look at LBCs "powers and abilities," so to speak. And let's be honest, the movie itself did a lousy job of telling us the details of LBCs cyborg-ness. I already talked about what I decided she is, cyborg-wise, in the first post, so I won't rehash that (too much) here.

Lady Battle Cop: The Nuts and Bolts

Basically, I decided (from admittedly limited evidence) that LBC has a human brain integrated into an android body, and uses removable battle armor for additional protection. I'm sure having an android body gives her superhuman strength, and it's got to be more durable than the average human body is. But since she never leaves the house without that armor, I'm guessing android durability only goes so far.

Okay, strength and armor aside, let's see what else LBC brings to a fight.

Well, her most obvious offensive tool is that big gun she's always waving around. It's an Ammo-Replicator, on account of it never runs out of bullets. Ever. Well, I'd have to go back to the movie for another look to be sure, but I don't think LBC ever stops to reload it. Not onscreen, at least. I could be wrong.

Anyway, this is definitely her weapon of choice and she uses it in most of her justice-dispensing. Only a few bad guys go out some other way.
But gun or no gun, she has a few other tricks up her sleeve. Or in her arm, as the case may be. Yep, LBC is the proud owner of a Wrist Rocket Grenade.

Which is definitely cool, what with her forearm sliding open and that rocket moving up into firing position and all. But I also have to say it causes a problem for the whole "I have a human-looking body inside this battle armor" premise, because that rocket mechanism clearly fills the entire arm cavity leaving no room at all for an actual arm. Still, cool.
And if someone has a cool arm thing, why not complement it with a cool leg thing? LBC does just that, having a set of Jet-Assist Rockets in her boots. She doesn't use them to fly around or anything (for heaven's sake, people, let's be realistic).

But she does use 'em: once to counteract the blast from her wrist rocket so it doesn't knock her over as she fires it, and once to give herself some needed leverage while tearing a big wrench out of a psychic assassin's belly. I know. Sounds gruesome. It was. See the first post for details on that.

The only other weapon LBC uses, that we see, is her... uh... Earring Garrote. (Okay. I may have made that name up. Along with the names of all her other weapons).

Anyway. So I'd noticed, earlier in the film, LBC sporting this big dangly earring-thingy on the side of her helmet, and figured it was just for show. But then later on in the middle of a fight, she grabs this thing, hurls it across the room with razor wire trailing behind it, and slices up a bad guy. And that really is the best I can explain it. But pictures help:

See? Grab. Hurl. Slice.

Okay. We're almost done, here. We've covered all of LBCs most obvious assets, but what about the not so obvious ones? Turns out she's got a few of those, too.

At various points during the movie (mostly when she's fighting), we get a POV Cyborg Cam where we're seeing through LBCs eyes. And when that happens, we're privy to her personal Heads-Up Display, which clues us in on a few Cyborg Powers not easily spotted otherwise.

Check these out:

Cyborg Power #1: Thermal Imaging
Cyborg Power #2: Combat Analysis
Cyborg Power #3: Database Access
Cyborg Power #4: Targeting System
Cyborg Power #5: Telescopic Vision
Cyborg Power #6: X-Ray Vision

And that's it, really. NOW I've said all I can possibly say about Lady Battle Cop.

Well that's not quite true. I am (mostly) done talking, but I'm adding an appendix with a few more images that I think are cool and/or interesting, but don't really warrant a whole lot more conversation.

So here that is.

Appendix of All Things LBC

I was a tiny bit surprised to see that Lady Battle Cop was released in so many different formats. I know the DVD was fairly recent, but I think the VHS, LaserDisc and VCD were all original 1990 (or soon after) releases.

It even got multiple soundtrack releases: a full soundtrack and a CD Single of both of the movie's theme songs. (More about those theme songs in the first post, too.)

Just a couple of random images here, one from a magazine article (wish whoever put this up had uploaded the entire article... and translated it to English) and then one I'm assuming is from a calendar. (I would have totally bought an LBC calendar. Just saying.)

And this next bit is interesting:

Far as I could tell, there was never an official "sold in stores" action figure of LBC, but it looks like at least a couple of fans took it upon themselves to create custom figures.

The first doll (pics 1-3) is much more movie-accurate than the second one (pics 4-7), which has more of an anime style and has been really overtly sexualized. I've included a link to the site where I found the second doll, because there are several more images to see if you're interested. Both sites I found the dolls on were in Japanese, and Google Translate being less than helpful, I can't say much more about 'em.

Various and sundry, with a cooler gun than in the movie.
With the facial armor in place.
This first doll is impressively accurate right up until that helmet comes off. But
then, where are you gonna find a doll head likeness of Azusa Nakamura?
The second doll from the front, with facial armor retracted.
From the back, with junk in the trunk.
With facial armor in place. And I believe the word
you're looking for with those breasts is "conical."
Doll fetish much? (Pretty impressive articulation, though, you gotta admit.)


Friday, December 4, 2015

Jaws: How big was that shark?

Who hasn't watched all four Jaws movies, read all three Jaws novels, and then wondered how all those sharks would measure up if they were standing (swimming) next to each other?

I know I have. And I can't be the only one, right? (Right?)

Well. Assuming I'm not the only one, we're gonna run through all seven sources and see what each had to say about this extremely important topic.

Alrighty then. Let's see... how to go about it? Movies first? Books first? Chronological order, regardless of media type? Yeah, that works. So it's:
  • Jaws (Novel) 1974
  • Jaws (Movie) 1975
  • Jaws 2 (Novel) 1978
  • Jaws 2 (Movie) 1978
  • Jaws 3-D (Movie) 1983
  • Jaws: The Revenge (Novel) 1987
  • Jaws: The Revenge (Movie) 1987
Technically, all three novels were published before their corresponding movies were released. In the case of Jaws 2 and Jaws: The Revenge, since they were actually novelizations taken from early-draft movie scripts, that amounted to being published just two or three months before those films hit theaters. Jaws-novel, on the other hand, was a real-life book that had its own bonafide existence well before Jaws-movie was ever in the works. But you probably already knew that, and we're not really here to delve into the dark recesses of each book/movie anyway--we're just comparing sharks.

Oh, and did I mention I created a shark graphic, just for this very post? Well I did, 'cause that's how I roll. But that comes later. Let's look at the book/movie references first.

Before that, we should find out how big an actual, non-movie-monster, great white shark is likely to be. According to Wikipedia (who tells no lies) your garden variety great white would be anywhere from 12 to 16 feet long. In fact, we have Wikipedia to thank for the (on the larger end of) average shark-drawing below, which is swimming alongside a very brave/foolhardy but proportionate human-drawing. And since no human-drawing should be without a name, we'll call this one Hooper.

Hooper has no problem swimming with an average-sized great white.

Even this average, non-movie-monster, great white shark looks pretty intimidating to me. That mouth could certainly remove Hooper's leg in one bite, and be the death of him with just one or two more. (I guess removing a leg would be the death of you, if you were in the middle of the ocean.) But you know what I mean. Let's move on.

Jaws (Novel)

So, this is our introduction to movie-monster sharks, as a species, and author Peter Benchley takes his damn sweet time giving us any real idea of the size of this fish. I'd actually recently reread the book, but (of course) didn't make a note of if or when the size of the shark is mentioned. "But it must be in the first few pages," I thought to myself, "so I'll just thumb through the first chapter until I run across it." (...229 pages later...)

Benchley did sprinkle a few clues along the way, though. We start on pages 75 and 80 (in the 1991 Fawcett Crest edition, anyway) with a tooth and some toothy-estimates:
Into Brody's palm Hendricks dropped a triangle of glistening white denticle. It was nearly two inches long.
[Brody] flipped the tooth to Hooper, who turned it over in his hand.
Harry Meadows: "How big?"
Hooper: "I can't be sure, but big. Fifteen, twenty feet."
 And when the fellows eventually meet the actual fish, on pages 226 and 227, more estimates ensue:
Hooper: "That head must have been four feet across."

Hooper: "How long, would you say?"
Quint: "Hard to tell. Twenty feet. Maybe more."
Until finally Quint gives us his real-for-true expert estimate on page 229:
Quint: "I put that fish at twenty feet, so I'd say they grow to twenty feet. If I see one tomorrow that's twenty-five feet, I'll say they grow to twenty-five feet."
That was a long time comin'. But now we know: 20 feet. And the measuring gets a lot easier from here.

Jaws (Movie)

Jaws-movie clues us in at the same place the book did, story-wise: when the fellows first meet the fish:

And, by golly, this shark has a good 5 feet over Benchley's. Do I spy a trend in the making?

Jaws 2 (Novel)

Ah. Much quicker and to the point, Jaws 2-novel tells us what we want to know by page 8:
At 30 feet and almost two tons, she was longer than a killer whale and heavier by half.
That was easy. And, true to form, the shark is bigger still.

Jaws 2 (Movie)

Hmm. We never actually get a size in Jaws 2-movie. (Lame.) Closest we come is when shark-expert-lady says this:

Psht! Well, we know that, don't we?

Jaws 3-D (Movie)

Sadly, no novelization for Jaws 3, but we get our movie estimate about two thirds through:

Indeed it would, and indeed it was. Our biggest shark yet.

Jaws: The Revenge (Novel)

Revenge-novel follows 2-novel's lead, by being very straightforward and to the point on page 3:
He was twenty-eight feet long and weighed three thousand pounds.
No thumbing through three-quarters of a book for information, here. And the fellow is actually down-sized this time around.

Jaws: The Revenge (Movie)

Revenge-movie (also) follows 2-movie's lead, by telling us absolutely nothing about the shark. It's "big." Bah.

And that's it. So with 2-movie and Revenge-movie both wimping out by giving us not even an estimate on their sharks, that leaves us with three book sharks and two movie sharks with actual sizes--five sharks in all.

Which means it's time for our graphic:


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Bionics in Miniature (Part 4: Biosonic Steve and Astronaut Steve)

Part 1    Part 2    Part 3    Part 4    Part 5    Part 6


Looks like we're back to bionics for a minute or two. (woo!)

Let's see.... We were gonna look at Kenner's Biosonic Steve and Bif Bang Pow's Astronaut Steve, this time 'round.

So let's get to it.

Steve Austin with Biosonic Arm (Kenner 1978)

This was the third Steve doll Kenner made, and there were some major changes to be had.

By this time, SMDM TV ratings (and doll sales) were on the downslide, and Biosonic Steve was part of Kenner's last hurrah, as far as the bionic toy line was concerned. I guess they were hoping to shake things up; keep people interested and such.

So, let's get ol' Biosonic Steve down from the shelf and see what changes were made.

Biosonic Steve and his engine block steel girder ...karate paraphernalia?

Well, looking at him, the most obvious change would be those new threads. Steve's promo in Kenner's 1978 toy catalog called it his "new action-styled adventure suit," which apparently is very similar to blue jeans and a 70s leisure shirt. He's got the same socks and tennies that previous Steves came with, but it's nice to finally see him out of that track suit.

He looks to still be sporting the wide-angle bionic eye lens, and (even though it's covered by the karate doohickey above) he's still got his giant monkey hand bionic grip as well. At this point, Steve's duds and accessories are his only apparent changes.

Let's turn him around and take a look from the back.

Stylin' Steve with his entirely intact shirt.

Hello! Something's missing, here. Where's Steve's red back lever? Everyone knows he needs that lever to lift engine blocks and stuff. He doesn't even have a little cutout in the back of his shirt where the lever should be. Now things are getting curiouser. Let's remove that shirt, so we can take a look at what's going on underneath.

Does the sheen on those arms match up a little too well...?

Definitely no back lever. Not even a stealthy-under-the-shirt one. That's probably a good thing, right? Kenner Steve has been plagued with weird, inhuman-looking features from day one. It's about time he got to look a little more regular-joe-ish. Nothing to distinguish him from everyman now, except the giant eye lens and that hole in the back of his skull.

Hang on, something else is missing from le Steve's accoutrements: This bionic man has no bionic rollup skin. (eek!)

Cool rollup skin is gone......bland yellow button is not.

Wow. This had to have been a major blow to all 70s kids, right? Steve's bionic rollup skin was his very coolest feature, except maybe for the bionic-eye-vision. Now, we not only miss out on getting to roll back skin to expose hidden bionic modules, but that annoying Bionic Grip button is right out there in plain sight, to boot! Boo. Double boo, even. Biosonic Steve doesn't even get the forearm sticker his predecessor had.

Well, the single remaining bionic module is still removable. That's something.

Biosonic Steve triumphantly grips his last remaining Bionic Module.

I gotta say, I'm less than impressed with the way things have gone with Steve's bionic arm, overall. Truth be told, I liked his first one best, with its rollup skin, two bionic modules and no bionic grip. Okay, okay. Time to move on.

I think it's time to see if we can answer the question that burned in the hearts of 70s kids everywhere: What the hell was a biosonic arm, anyway? We can start with the aforementioned toy catalog promo:
New BIOSONIC ARM! Now Colonel Steve Austin has a new weapon as he faces enemy danger... an amazing right arm that delivers smashing karate chops. His new right arm moves four times faster than before, and Colonel Austin's new left arm is so powerful that it can even lift BIONIC BIGFOOT off the ground. 

FULLY ARTICULATED 13" action figure still has ultra-strong BIONIC grip in his right hand, BIONIC modules and BIONIC eye. Figure comes dressed in new action-styled adventure suit and sneakers. Included also are six "concrete" blocks and breakaway plywood boards for use with karate chop. Child also gets free his own BIOSONIC arm wrist band for added play adventures.
So, reading this, I'm guessing Kenner (in addition to passing that yellow button off as a second bionic module--don't think I didn't catch that) was actually trying to address a couple of different problems, with this doll.

First off, Steve's previous bionic arms, with their red back-levers, lifted things r-e-a-l-l-y slowly. I'm talking about pressing that lever 50 times to lift something all the way above Steve's head. No lie. And, while it's fun to watch bionics in slow motion, it's less fun to play bionics in slow motion. So a "four times faster" arm is probably a good thing.

Second, even though Bionic Bigfoot didn't appear in Kenner's Catalog until 1978, he was actually released halfway through 1977, when Bionic Grip Steve was still man of the hour. One of Kenner's marketing gimmicks for Bigfoot was having a little handhold in his chest and advertising Bionic Grip Steve as lifting Bigfoot over his head with his Bionic Power Arm.

Trouble was, Steve couldn't actually do that. The red-lever-activated arm wasn't up to the task and would fail about halfway through. (I know this is true; I just tried getting my Bionic Grip Steve to lift the old boy. Twice. It was no-go both times.)

So my bet is Kenner's redesign of this doll was as much (or more) about speeding up the arm and getting Steve to be able to lift Bigfoot, as it was about having a cool new feature. If I had to guess (which I totally am), I'd say this new arm being good at karate was just something somebody noticed after the redesign was close to done, and they worked it into the marketing plan. But like I say, I'm guessing.

To be sure, Biosonic Steve can definitely lift Bigfoot over his head. (I made sure.) But that brings up something else. Kenner's promo says "Colonel Austin's new left arm is so powerful that it can even lift Bionic Bigfoot off the ground." And every 70s kid knew Steve's right arm was bionic and his left one was not. So what gives? I'm thinking this was Kenner throwing out the character's history in favor of having an extra gadget to market. Once again, I have to say boo and double boo.

So anyway, they got rid of the red back lever this way: The arms are attached at the shoulders inside the doll's body, and moving one arm makes the other arm move as well. The right arm moves quickly and the left arm more slowly, and that's why Steve's left arm has suddenly become his lifting arm. So, moving his left arm downward makes the right arm come crashing down really quickly (i.e. the karate chop). Moving his right arm upward makes the left arm move upward more slowly (so he can lift things). If this all sounds very confusing, that's 'cause it is.

To get around Steve's super quick right arm getting in the way while his left arm was lifting something, he now had a modification to his right shoulder joint, so you could pull it out to the side while still rotating it at the shoulder. (Even more confusing, I know.) How did 70s kids ever figure this out?

No only does Steve inexplicably have two bionic arms...... he's also back in the side-hug business.

It wasn't by reading the instructions, that's for sure. I have them, and all they say about the arms is this:
Bionic arms snap off and on... pull straight out at shoulder. [and, later] Place Biosonic Arm above board. Rotate left Power Arm counterclockwise. Biosonic Arm crashes through board.
Notice they refer to "bionic arms" (plural), with the right being Steve's "Biosonic Arm" and the left being his "Power Arm." Two bionic arms? I think Steve's either had an upgrade the OSI never heard about, or Kenner has mistaken him for Barney Hiller.

The back of the box does add a little illustrative help regarding arm operation...

...but I think the best way to figure all this this out is to see those arms in action:

Ah. Now it all makes sense. More than it did a minute ago, anyway.

And... I guess that's about all I have to say about Biosonic Steve. Sigh. I obviously have mixed feelings about this doll. On the one hand, they got rid of that obnoxious back lever, and sped up/strengthened Steve's lifting arm. The mechanics of the thing are really pretty ingenious.

But they also took away so much play value. Earlier Steves had arms that could be positioned into all sorts of cool poses. And, as long as you didn't turn his head all the way to the right, they were independent and free-moving. This doll has two arms forever joined at the hip (well, at the shoulder): You can't move one without the other moving as well, and trying to actually play with Biosonic Steve the way a kid would is a frustrating experience. I'm betting the engineer who did this redesign, didn't have kids to test his theories out on.

Anyway, add in the fact they lost the rollup skin and threw bionic canon out the window by giving the man two bionic arms, well... 'nuff said.

Astronaut Steve Austin (Bif Bang Pow! 2014)

This was also BBPs third and final Steve doll, and they did their best to go out with a bang as well. Ah. No pun intended, there. Anyway, with the BBP dolls there wasn't a lot of money to throw around on features, so the focus was on how cool can we make the outfits and how can we change up the arm and legs? They'd already been doing a nice job with the outfits, and this one's no exception, but they really went to town on Astronaut Steve's bionic limbs.

So let's get Astronaut Steve off the shelf and see what's what.

That's one small step for a doll, one giant leap for dollkind.

That's a nice looking space suit, don't you think? It's from TV Steve's first actual 60 minute episode (after his three telefilms), Population: Zero, which may sound familiar since it's also the episode TV Steve first wore his Khaki/Belt Buckle combination we talked (at length) about last time. Steve didn't actually go into space during this episode, but I know there were at least a couple episodes where he did. I'm not sure if this particular suit was used in those or not, though.

Anyway, BBP Steve's suit matches up pretty well with what TV Steve wore in that episode, except for the helmet:

Will the real Astronaut Steve......please stand up?

Would've been cool if BBP Steve came with his own yellow portable air supply, huh? As it is, he has a difficult-but-possible-to-remove space helmet, whose visor opens and closes so you can still enjoy Steve's ultra-serious facial expression. Wouldn't want to miss out on the BBP Steve stoicism.

Space travel is serious business!

But, like I said, the bionic limbs are where BBP went the distance with Astronaut Steve. Let's take a quick look back at Track Suit Steve's and Khaki Steve's limbs, for comparison purposes:

Track Suit Steve had gone with clear lower limbs with bionic circuitry printed on them. Khaki Steve had the same circuitry, but went with flesh colored limbs. Now neither of these were true-to-character, since the whole point of TV Steve's limbs was to be indistinguishable from their human counterparts, but it's still cool BBP did something to differentiate dolls and give each their own flavor. And, as long as I throw out the true-to-character thing, I like them. I particularly like Track Suit Steve's limbs, but having just the lower parts of each be clear makes it look like Steve is only bionic from the elbow and knees down.

And now that we're done with the setup, let's get that spacesuit off and take a look at Astronaut Steve in his space skivvies!

Space undies!

Wow. I wasn't realizing how much that helmet minimized BBP Steve's big head. Not all the BBP dolls have the big head problem. At least, a couple don't. But the point here is not Steve's head, it's his full-on-shoulder-to-wrist-hip-to-ankle clear bionic limbs, right? Which, come to think of it, should probably include a hand and feet in the same clear style. Maybe not. I guess Astronaut Steve is wearing gloves, but shouldn't his bare feet be all clear-bionic-circuit-y too? Anyway, I digress.

Here's a closer look at the limbs. I gotta admit, they're cool looking. And this is a brand new circuit design, not the one they used on the first two dolls. It's a pretty cool effect; the circuits are only printed on the front, but you can kind of see 'em through the leg if you look from the back. Anyway, it's a much better effect with the entire limb being transparent.

And I think that about covers Astronaut Steve. Not much to him other than his spacesuit and transparent bionics. Okay. Next time I'll take a look at... let me check. Ooh! Kenner's Maskatron and BBPs Mr. X (both really portraying the same character) from SMDMs "Day of the Robot." Never heard of it? Don't worry, it's only one of the coolest SMDM episodes ever!

We'll cover it along with the dolls, next time.

Until then.


So, a fellow left a comment asking about possible differences between Astronaut Steve's head and the previous dolls. I wanted to include an image in my reply, but didn't see an easy way to do that in the comments themselves (without adding code, anyway). So I'm adding an addendum here, with images.

I took a look at all four BBP Steves' heads, and they all look to be the same mold--same size, features, etc (apart from Alternate Khaki Steve's mustache). BUT! While Astronaut Steve does have the same head mold, he has a slightly different paint job: darker skin tone and a little more painted-in detail. It makes for a slightly nicer looking doll, but the effect is subtle enough I hadn't noticed any differences until the comment encouraged me to take a closer look.

So there we are.