We live in strange times. It used to be that if you didn’t get a toy from a particular movie just before the movie came out, tough luck. And if the toys were bad, tough luck. There was no going back to the well; full speed ahead. Well… things have changed.
Now, there is something to be said about our recent obsession with going back to the well in the toy world. There’s a lengthy & friendly debate we could have over new properties vs old, our own open-mindedness to new things, etc. Luckily, we’re not going to have that today. We’re just going to go with nostalgic glee. Growing up, some of my favorite movies were set in the years leading up to World War II – Indiana Jones, The Shadow, The Phantom, Dick Tracy, & The Rocketeer.
And I had toys for very few of them. I was too young for Indy toys and I somehow missed Phantom toys. I did have some awesome Shadow toys – Ambush Shadow is still a personal favorite. And I did have all the Dick Tracy toys except the Blank, but I don’t want to talk about it. The Rocketeer? Much like, Back to the Future & Ghostbusters (movie!), it got basically nothing. I think there’s a bendy figure. Boy, isn’t that great for bendy enthusiasts?
Part of it is probably because the Rocketeer just didn’t set a ton of folks on fire back in that balmy summer of ’91. I love the movie, but to be fair, it doesn’t help that the last thirty minutes are batshit ridiculous. Everything is engaging, going fine, and then they suddenly remembered there were supposed to be Nazis in the movie and they threw in a gazillion of them to make up for it. They even tossed in a rare, post-Hindenburg, WW2 Zeppelin! And did I mention the movie takes place in Los Angeles? That’s stealthy.
But the beginning? The beginning is awesome. Billy Campbell was great in the Indiana Jones archetype. Locke from Lost does a fun, more spirited take on Howard Hughes. Jennifer Connelly was on top of her game. And Timothy Dalton as an evil movie star James Bond? That part was all fantastic. Joe Johnston nailed the 1940s feel (which he would do again later in Captain America: The First Avenger). That part is all amazing, but virtually undone by the ending. When I was a kid, I didn’t care much. I just loved it. It’s the adult viewings that get ya though. Sometimes you just can’t go back.
I can’t credit the movie for the Rocketeer visual though. That springs directly from the comics; created by Dave Stevens in 1982. I haven’t read a lot of those – the early 80s Indie comics weren’t as organized as they are today and Rocketeer’s adventures appeared in various places. To its credit, and to Dave Stevens, it made its way from those humble beginnings to the big screen. I really need to grab some collected editions and read up on those old stories.
If the Rocketeer figure does one thing perfectly, it’s getting those aesthetics right. The figure looks like it walked off the screen. The sculpt is amazing. I don’t think they could’ve done much better. The helmet looks fantastic and it seems like the costume details are spot on from head to toe. We’ve even got the gum stuck to the back of rocket pack! The sculpt is so good, that my only thought looking at it is that I need every other figure I want done to match him. The only knock on the sculpt is probably the Cliff Secord head sculpt. It’s serviceable, but a Billy Campbell likeness just isn’t there. Also of note, this figure is about 6” tall and fits in with other Funko releases and is closer to Star Wars Black than many of the other 6” lines that have slowly crept up in size over the years. Continue to Page 2…