Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Review: Independence Day

It wasn't often that I walked the aisles of Toys R Us in the mid-90s. As a teenager, this sort of activity, despite the amount of joy and happiness it can bring, is frowned upon. As a teenager giving everyone else any ammunition of any kind to fire back at you is not a good idea. And, hell, everyone else already found plenty of things to fire at me without handing them more.

Quite why I was in TRU that day, I don't know. It may have been to actually find a present for a younger person (instead of the 'I'm here to buy a present for my younger brother!' lie you may sometimes give to staff/other customers when they look at you strangely when studying toys on the shelf). I was walked past a big display of figures, paused to look at one, and was quickly told 'You're not having one of those' by my mother.

The 'one of those' she was referring to was an Independence Day alien figure.

Independence Day was the best disaster movie of the 90s. It was probably the best disaster movie of the 00s and 10s too. For pure giant-scale blowing stuff up action it's really hard to beat. Add in some great one-liners and a big dose of pro-American cheesiness and you have the perfect popcorn film. Unlike, say, Transformers there's an actual plot going on and you can tell the good guys and bad guys apart. It was big, loud and fun.

Movie toy lines (Star Wars aside) are generally a bit pants. They're there to make a quick bit of cash in the brief period before the film disappears from the cinema. You might get a minor resurgence when it hits home video(/DVD/blu-ray), but then it's life as it has been is over.

ID4 (as the film was referred to in all its advertising, but oddly never onscreen) is a line of two halves. On the one hand you have the excellent alien toys and on the other the...well, there are some humans who may or may not actually be in the film.

We'll take the tat first.

3 humans were released in the line, who we'll refer to by their actor names as I can't remember the characters ones offhand: Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman. Have a look at them:

Spitting images, eh?

I really hope this is due to Trendmasters not having the likeness rights to the actors because they look absolutely nothing like them. The closest is Goldblum, who a person on the street might have a vague chance of guessing correctly, but the head is so out of scale with the rest of his body it looks ridiculous. They sort of look like the characters had there ever been a cartoon spin-off. The edges are all rounded and they're all 'nice' looking.

Apart from the likenesses, the figures aren't that bad. They're 6" scale and have joints at the head, shoulders and hips, as well as cuts (at different places) on their arms. This is more than enough for them. They're quite chunky and I could see them coping well with the demands of a child in the playground.

Accessories-wise, it's mostly guns in a variety of sizes. The hands are perfectly shaped to hold these and the figures even have fingers in positions to fit the triggers of the pistols. Fittingly to the character, Goldblum doesn't have any guns but comes with a bizarre steadicam-inspired laptop thing and a headset which doesn't stay on his head.

And then we have the aliens...

The aliens look like they've been designed from a completely different team of people than those who worked on the humans. In fact they look like they're from completely different toylines altogether. Whereas the humans are cartoon-like, the aliens are much more detailed and movie-accurate. It's like comparing the work of NECA to Galoob.

I love bendy bits on toys so the bendy tentacles please me greatly. The head opens to reveal the little 'pilot' inside, which is not only all bendy but also semi-transparent. More joy for me!

There are three different aliens in the line (I have two) but aside from the paintjob, they're all identical.

Finally, of my little ID4 collection, we come to the alien ship. No, not the giant one by the moon, or the 15(?) smaller ones which took up position above all the major cities, but the little one-man fighter that Will Smith took down with a parachute and a cool one-liner.

To avoid it being HUGE, the ship is in a completely different scale to the figures, with the little alien inside being about an inch tall. The ship is made of transparent blue plastic and then painted almost entirely grey with some sprays of black here and there. These sprays of black add a lot to the look of the ship and are a great addition, especially considering most toy vehicles are only ever a single flat colour. The transparent areas light up upon the press of one of two buttons which also activate firing sound effects.

While we're talking about firing, there are two firing missiles underneath. There's a degree of variance with these and how fire the missiles fire depends greatly on the missile-gun combination being used. Sometimes the missile will simply sit there, others it'll shoot a good couple of feet. There are also two bombs which are worked via buttons. In addition there's a slidey switch which covers the bombs to prevent accidental dropping, which is a nice touch and (hopefully) means losing them is a little less likely.

Thrown in with all the toys, and bumping the RRP right up, are some game disks. Completely useless to everyone now (anyone still have the ability to load floppy disks, never mind have a computer slow enough to play them?), these, I assume, were included to increase sales by adding another element. I doubt this was successful and more likely to put parents off buying them as, going by the mid-90s price stickers on them, the cost was ridiculous.

Overall, I really like this toyline, despite the flaws (*cough* humans). The aliens are near-perfect, as is the ship and even the humans have a bit of charm.

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