Category Archives: Movies & TV Shows

“Dr. Strange” Movie 1st Official Trailer Released

Bottom Line: Ol’ Doc Strange is one of our favorite Marvel characters, simply for the fact that he’s so, well—STRANGE. The story possibilities with a character like this, one that utilizes MAGIC over super-powers in Marvel’s ever-expanding movie “universe,” are practically limitless. Add to that, the undeniable acting prowess of its star, Benedict Cumberbatch, and you have what appears to be a sure-fire SMASH at the box office. The film’s first official trailer (shown above)—will blow your mind!

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Superb New (1:6 Scale Stop-Motion) “Anomalisa” Reveals the Future Potential For 1:6 Scale Films

Do you remember the regrettable tale of the world’s last major motion picture that utilized 1:6 scale “puppetry” in lieu of real, live human actors? We’re referring, of course, to 2010’s box office BOMB— Jackboots on Whitehall (JOW); a film that then, as now, was universally derided for its amateurish attempts at humor and the almost oppressive DULLNESS of its screenplay.

Well, Good News, 1:6 Scalers! Now you can take whatever money you saved by not buying a copy of Jackboots, and apply it instead, towards a ticket to see Anomalisa; a fascinating, delightful and touching 1:6 scale animated film, that is head-n-shoulders above Jackboots in every possible way.

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Decidedly Different— Unlike the abysmal 2010 1:6 scale film, Jackboots in Whitehall, in which explosions and special effects were the focus and di regueur of the film, Anomalisa, by contrast, is completely and utterly character-driven. In fact, while the film’s backgrounds and sets add superb believability and visual context to each scene, viewers will tune all that out, focusing instead, on the touching and emotional lives of its 1:6 scale humans. (Photo: Paramount Animation) Click to enlarge.

In our 2015 review and analysis of Jackboots (see article HERE), we discussed in detail how that film’s dreadful screenplay and scattershot 1:6 scale puppet quality all contributed to its calamitous—yet predictable—failure at the box office. At that time, we acknowledged how incomprehensible it seemed (to us) that ANY film using 1:6 scale action figures (or “puppets”) and costing $6 million dollars to make, could go on to gross a mere $20,776. In fact, the financial failure of Jackboots had been SO bad, the prospects for future 1:6 scale films appeared to be slim—to none.

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Careful!— Posing (and remembering) each incremental second of action in a 1:6 scale film requires intense concentration, skill and dedication. Simply exiting an elevator in Anomalisa required MANY hours to stage and film convincingly. Note too, the filmmaker’s use of a variety of realistic (non-Barbie doll style) body types. Absolutely Out-STANDING attention to detail! (Photo: Paramount Animation)

 Thankfully… MANY lessons were learned from Jackboots tragic and utter failure. And we can happily report that the creators of Anomalisa, co-directors, Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson have deftly and expertly avoided ALL of JOW’s pitfalls. Their new film is superbly character-driven, inspirational AND entertaining. Of course, for us 1:6 scalers, it’s especially exciting to see someone else pick up the mantle of 1:6 scale filmmaking and prove that stop-motion films (in this scale) can indeed be made to be both entertaining and financially successful.

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Parts, Parts, Parts— This prop room photo of the film’s collection of body parts will look VERY familiar to any collector of 1:6 scale action figures. (Photo: Paramount Animation) Click to enlarge.

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It’s all in the Details— With cameras photographing from only inches away, prop masters need to carefully check every little detail before a shot. (Photo: Paramount Animaton) Click to enlarge.

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Lighting is Crucial— You can have the best scale sets in the world, but scenes like this airport exterior would fall flat without all the tiny added details created by effective lighting. Note the glow from the streetlight, both near and far away, the car’s headlights and the building in the distance showing glowing windows with curtains and little blue roof lights. Even the airport terminal building shows the correct (i.e. less “warm”) coloring of drab, florescent lighting. WOW! (Photo: Paramount Animation) Click to enlarge.

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Posing Figures? No Problem!— With all the years of experience 1:6 scalers and Joeheads have with posing action figures, it seems that we’d be able to easily get jobs working as prop masters on some of these labor-intensive 1:6 scale animated movies. HA! (Photo: Paramount Animation)

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Build your sets up on TABLES— Utilizing a method that would benefit many 1:6 scale diorama projects, the production designers (John Joyce, pictured above) placed many of their sets on easily accessible tables. That saves a lot of wear and tear on your knees! (Photo: Paramount Animation) Click to enlarge.

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It Takes a Director’s Eye— To properly “frame a shot,” director Duke Johnson has to get down in close and imagines what the scene would look like in real life in order to recreate it convincingly at 1:6 scale. (Photo: Paramount Animation) Click to enlarge.

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Having a Drink Together— The two main characters of Anomalisa get to know each other over a quiet drink in the film’s superb 1:6 scale recreation of a hotel bar. Imagine all the scenarios you could recreate with an outstanding diorama like this. WOW! (Photo: Paramount Animation) Click to enlarge.

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Working in a World of Miniature— The creators of Anomalisa surrounded themselves with the multitude of props and specialized equipment required to create their amazing 1:6 scale film. (Photo: Paramount Animation) Click to enlarge.

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The Men to Thank— Co-Directors Charlie Kaufman (left) and Duke Johnson (right) on the set of Anomalisa. Fans of 1:6 scale owe these two gentlemen a great deal of thanks for helping to keep the unique genre of 1:6 scale filmmaking alive. (Photo: Paramount Animation) Click to enlarge.

Bottom Line: Fans of 1:6 scale (and GIjOEs in particular) continue to dream of a special sort of 1:6 scale animated GIjOE film, possibly Adventure Team-themed, perhaps along the lines of the classic 1960s Jonny Quest cartoons. But until such a film is made (if it ever is), we highly recommend that you check your local theater listings for showings of Anomalisa so as to (financially) reward all of Kaufman and Johnson’s hard work. Finally, here’s another video that has some good shots of Anomalisa’s various body molds, head sculpts, props and costumes, which will give you a better idea of the superb artistry required to create the 1:6 scale “puppets” in this amazing film. Enjoy!

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G.I. Joe Marine “Sighting” Discovered in Un-Aired SNAFU Bloopers From R. Lee Ermey’s “Mail Call”

If you enjoy watching military documentaries, films, and television programs, and/or anything that features America’s favorite USMC senior drill instructor, R. Lee Ermey, then you’ll DEFINITELY want to see his hilarious collection of SNAFU bloopers and deleted scenes that were never aired publicly on the History Channel TV show, Mail Call. Here are some screenshots from the video:

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YOU are a disgusting Fat Body! R. Lee Ermey’s “Mini-Lee” voices his displeasure regarding the physical condition of the Pillsbury Dough Boy in a deleted scene from Mail Call. (Photo: The History Channel)

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Mini-Lee orders a vintage GIjOE Marine to hit the deck (and give him 25) in one of many scenes from the show utilizing 1:6 scale action figures. Out-STANDING. OOHrah! (Photo: The History Channel)

Bottom Line: If you’re a GIjOE or R. Lee Ermey fan (and who isn’t?), then you’ll want to skip forward to the hilarious 5-minute compilation of Ermey’s “extra-salty” Mini-Lee outtakes, beginning at the 33:57 minute-mark. From that point, you’ll be able to enjoy watching Lee’s (decidedly adult-language) action figure take part in some exciting adventures as well as putting some disgusting “fat bodies” in their place, including the Pillsbury Doughboy and a vintage GIjOE Marine. Enjoy!

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G.I. Joe’s Shocking Appearance on “King of the Hill” as the Decidedly Anti-Hero, “Joe Sixpack”

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You crashed a TRUCK? You WILL feel my wrath! A clearly perturbed Hank Hill (portraying God) lifts up a bearded AT GIjOE (portraying “Joe Sixpack”) and prepares to smite the Joe for his thoughtless, drunken driving. This rare “anti-hero” Joe sighting was discovered in a 1998 episode of Fox’s “King of the Hill.”

kingofthehilllogoBottom Line: I’ll tell you what… 12″ GIjOE appeared in a episode of Fox’s animated comedy hit, King of the Hill. And why not? It seems like a natural fit to us. But we have to admit, we weren’t prepared for the surprising casting twist the show takes with our 12-inch action hero’s typically sterling reputation. In Meet the Manger Babies, Joe’s cast against type as a decidedly “anti-hero” villain known as “Joe Sixpack.” Turns out, Mr. Sixpack is an otherworldly escapee (from Hell, no less), who enjoys luring innocent victims into his car and then killing them in premeditated drunk driving accidents. <Ick> It’s up to the show’s real American hero, Hank Hill, to come to the rescue of all concerned in the show’s final minutes. This is a truly unexpected and unusual “Joe sighting” on a major television program. You’ll love it. Enjoy!

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FLASH! Renowned G.I. Joe Collector, Kevin Bolger, Featured in New “Through the Decades” TV Show Hosted by CBS’ Veteran Newscaster, Bill Curtis

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Chicago area GIjOE expert, Kevin Bolger, in a screenshot from CBS’ Through the Decades

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Bill Kurtis, host of CBS’ Through the Decades (Photo: CBS)

We were contacted recently by the producer of CBS’ new Through the Decades show (hosted by Bill Kurtis of CBS News fame) who informed us she was going to be in the Chicago area (that week) with a production crew. She wanted to know if we would be available for an interview, regarding (of all things) “the history of G.I. Joe.” Regrettably, we had to pass, so she inquired if there was anyone else in the Chicago area whom we knew and could recommend as a bonafide “experts” on the subject. Hmm… “experts, eh..?”

We discussed the juicy topic over lunch that afternoon in our conference room, and (of course) many amazing names immediately came to mind. Over BLTs and Diet Cokes, we considered the varieties of collections and vast amount of knowledge possessed by of all the Chicago “Joeheads” we knew of (great guys and gals, one and all), but one name kept coming back to the top of everyone’s list; renowned GIjOE fan, advocate, collector, 1:6 scale hobbyist extraordinaire, and all-around “good buddy,” Kevin Bolger.

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Kevin Bolger checks the attendance list during the 2008 GIjOE Show in Algonquin, IL. All present, sir! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

For those of you who’ve never met Kevin—

Bolger’s bulging GIjOE résume´ reads as long as your arm. Suffice it to say, he’s been a member of the Chicago Division of the GIjOE Collector’s Club and a co-organizer of that club’s annual shows held in Algonquin, Illinois for many years running. A quick search of The Joe Report will bring up numerous articles featuring and/or quoting from Kevin, such as our coverage of one past Algonquin event (see HERE) and another article quoting Bolger’s pragmatic description of the struggling Chicago division (see HERE).

We contacted Bolger at his home and asked if he had any additional behind-the-scenes tidbits or exclusive intel he could provide regarding his recent appearance on TV. He kindly replied:

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“The G.I. Joe segment on the ‘Through The Decades’ TV show was on TV this week (February 2nd). It runs about 7 minutes. I was very pleased with the production and it was the first segment on the hour-long show. Kurtis narrated it, which, being a long-time fan of his from his anchor days on Chicago’s WBBM, made this experience especially enjoyable for me.”

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Unfolded GIjOE History— This is one side of the “handbill” that was originally created for use by Hasbro toy reps and distributed during the 1964 Toy Fair in NYC. (Photo: Kevin Bolger)

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A few years back, I bought a number of pieces directly from…drumroll…Sam SpeersIf you watch the video carefully, you’ll see a shot of Hasbro’s ultra-rare 1964 Toy Fair handbill or ‘salesman’s catalogue,’ which I own. I’ve attached a couple of still shots (see above and below), and the closeup of side 2 reveals one of those elusive green camo shoulder radios and an early, prototype version of the MP outfit.”

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Prototype Peek-a-Boo— This closeup from the inside of the handbill reveals an especially early shot of GIjOE’s line of Army equipment and an “elusive green camo shoulder radio.” (Photo: Kevin Bolger)

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“Through The Decades is usually on one of the CBS local off-the-air sub channels (i.e. Channel 2.2 in Chicago). They feature stories like ‘on this day in 1971, this happened, so & so was born,’ etc. In my interview, I give a brief history of Hasbro and the development of GI Joe. I also set up a bunch of vintage figures with 40th anniversary window boxes for the film crew.

The show’s website is www.decades.com, but it doesn’t look like they stream any of their programs, only the promos. I watched an episode (on TV) last week. They’re on M-F, a 1 hour show, that’s repeated a couple of times during the day). It looks like they’ll be using a lot of old CBS network news reports, 60 Minutes segments and other nostalgic stuff mixed in with original segments and features.”

Bottom Line: Through the Decades looks like a wonderful program and should appeal to all nostalgia and history buffs. Kevin’s segment on the history of GIjOE is absolutely wonderful and we were thrilled to learn that the show’s producer had taken our recommendation and ended up utilizing his expertise for the show. Our sincerest thanks to Kevin for his generous contributions to this article. Enjoy his full appearance on Through the Decades by clicking the video link below:

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By Asgard! 1:6 Scale Mjölnir (Thor’s Hammer) Now Available at Hobby Lobby Craft Stores

This packs a WHOLLOP— Here's what the Thor hammer keyring looks like in the store. It's bagged in cello which makes it a tad difficult to see, but the backing card has some holographic rainbow coloring to help you find it among all the other tiny

This packs a WHOLLOP— Here’s what the Thor hammer keyring looks like in the store. It’s bagged in cello which makes it a tad difficult to see, but the backing card has some holographic rainbow effects to attract your eye and help you find it among all the other items up by the register. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

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Like it Says— Jack “King” Kirby drew this panel in an old Thor comic book, revealing the legendary inscription imposed by Odin. (Art: Marvel Comics)

Are YOU worthy? According to Asgardian legend, only “he who is worthy” should be able to lift Thor’s hammer. Thankfully, that restriction doesn’t apply to an absolutely superb mini-replica now available in your friendly neighborhood Hobby Lobby (and we assume, other) stores located across the U.S. While picking up some crafting supplies last night, our art staff stumbled upon this stunning miniature version of Thor’s beloved “Mjölnir,’ and was delighted to discover that it was both a keyring—and—in perfect 1:6 scale.

Whichever Thor figure you own and have at home, you’ll likely want to replace his hammer with this one. It’s fantastic! The detail is simply breathtaking.

Quite a handful— Despite it's diminutive size, the all-metal hammer is quite hefty (and handsome). (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Quite the handful— Despite its diminutive size, Thor’s hammer is quite hefty. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

First of all, it’s made of actual metal. It also features tiny Norse rune writing around the top and includes a real leather strap at the end of the handle. Without a doubt, this mystical miniature mallet will make a wonderful upgrade to any Thor figure and would serve equally well as a background detailing item for your 1:6 scale superhero dioramas. Despite the hammer’s metallic construction, our gung-ho gripped GIjOE had no trouble holding it aloft. Costwise, you’re only looking at $7.99, so we must say,”Prithee, thou canst beat that lowly sum!” And yes, “Thou couldst carry thine keys on it, as well!”

Forsooth—Here are some more photos:

More good news— The hammer isn't just an ordinary looking tool. It was carefully styled and copied from the one in the Marvel films (as this sticker confirms). (Photo: Mark Otnes)

More good news— This 1:6 scale hammer isn’t just an ordinary tool. It was carefully styled and copied from the ones used in “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (as this sticker confirms). (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Step One— Remove the unneeded keyring and other hardware. Be sure to use TWO needlenose pliers to open the ring and not hurt the hammer. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Careful Now— After you’ve unpacked the hammer, remove the unneeded keyring and clip hardware. Be sure to use TWO needlenose pliers to open the ring and not hurt the hammer! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Here's what you'll receive— After you've removed the rings and clip, your hammer will be ready for use. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Here’s what you’ll receive— Absolutely superb craftsmanship! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

It's Detailed at the Top— We can't read this without a microscope, but it's surely the motto written in runes, right? (Photo: Mark Otnes)

It’s Detailed at the Top— We can’t read this tiny inscription without a microscope, but it’s surely the “worthy” motto written in Norse runes, aye? Simply wonderful details. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Any strong Joe (with tight joints) should have no trouble hoisting Thor's mighty hammer high. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

King Arthur, Who?— Any strong GIjOE (with tight shoulder joints) should have no trouble hoisting Thor’s mighty hammer high. Our test subject had no problem. Lightning bolts, anyone? (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Bottom Line: This cool miniature will make a great addition to your 1:6 scale collection and costs only $7.99 at Hobby Lobby. If there’s any problem, it’s that our store had only 3 in stock. That seems to indicate they may not last long. So… Get off your lay-z-boy and go shopping, Earthling!

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New “Thunderbirds Are Go!” Trailers Released

Bottom Line: This new Thunderbirds Are Go! show is looking MUCH better than we had ever anticipated. The sets, the ships, the characters, EVERYTHING seems to be getting first-class treatment from the animators. According to the show’s official website:

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“Thunderbirds Are Go coming to CITV Spring 2015. Thunderbirds Are Go is also coming to TV2 in New Zealand and Nine/GO in Australia this Spring – await news of further launches! When disaster strikes and there’s no one else to help, International Rescue answers the call! From their secret island base, this family of highly trained responders can reach every corner of the globe – and beyond – in minutes. With their remarkable cutting edge Thunderbird Vehicles, brothers Scott, Virgil, John, Gordon and Alan Tracy along with head of security Kayo and lead engineer Brains pull off amazing feats of heroism. No rescue is too big and no journey too far to save a life. When duty calls, Thunderbirds are GO.”

Once this new Thunderbirds program hits the airwaves, it’s a sure thing that fans all around the world will want to collect merchandise from the show. Hello, Hasbro? Take a hint from CITV and TV2. Imagine if their same superb animation skills were applied to a GIjOE Adventure Team program. You could be raking in the dough too, through renewed AT merchandising!

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YouTube Takes It Down, DailyMotion Puts It Right Back Up———James May’s Toy Stories’ Most Elusive Episode, “Action Man at the Speed of Sound,” Is Once Again Viewable by Fans Online

bbc 2We’re not quite sure why, but BBC2 has been playing online “musical chairs” with one of its most highly rated episodes of James May’s Toy Stories; the long-awaited and yet surprisingly negative, “Action Man at the Speed of Sound.” We had previously reported on this controversial episode in complete detail HERE. As you may recall, after it had aired on Christmas Day, 2014, May’s openly derisive comments towards Action Man instantly upset many fans who were clearly expecting the show to be more of a “hero’s welcome” for the iconic Palitoy line. Instead, the episode unspooled more as an undeserved “roast” of the popular toy’s (perceived) failings.

British TV celebrity, James May, poses alongside a clear rocket containing an Action Man astronaut in this publicity still promoting an upcoming episode of his show, "James May's Toy Stories." (Photo: BBC)

British TV celebrity, James May, poses alongside a clear rocket containing an Action Man astronaut in this publicity still promoting an episode of his show, “James May’s Toy Stories.” (Photo: BBC)

If you haven’t seen it, the episode in question is enjoyable (enough), but it IS constantly (and unnecessarily) interrupted by May’s personal assertions that Action Man (AM) had “never really done anything.” After a while, his statements must’ve begun to grate on AM’s decidedly die-hard fandom and letters of complaint and comments to that effect began to race around the ‘net. BBC2 of course, had been expecting May’s Christmas Day episode to be a big hit with viewers. And it was. After all, the UK and Europe remains a hotbed of Action Man support. In fact, expecting to bask in further acclaim, the channel didn’t hesitate to post the episode up on its own YouTube channel, where it quickly began to rack up thousands of AM fan “views.” But after only a few weeks, the channel removed the episode without further comment or explanation.

BBC2 TV personality, James May, buying Alan Hall’s Action Man Guides at Birmingham NEC 2013. (Photo: Stephen Lees)

What happened? Why remove ANY program from YouTube that could help expand and increase the viewership of your “real” TV channel? While we can’t say for sure, it’s possible BBC2 was getting too many angry viewer comments from Action Man fans who resented May’s backhanded treatment of their favorite toy. It’s also quite likely that the channel eventually decided discretion was the easier path to take in order to quickly “settle” the matter with as little fuss as possible. Whatever their reasons, the controversial episode was promptly removed from public view and further fan backlash was averted. After all, out of sight, out of mind. Right? Well, maybe not…

As you undoubtedly know, the internet remains the “Wild West” in many respects, and it doesn’t take long for ANY photo or video to find itself a new home—on another server—somewhere. And in this particular case (as of the writing of this article), an anonymous Action Man fan named, “Helen” has uploaded a nice crisp copy of the Speed of Sound episode on a competing video website called DailyMotion (see clip above). As far as we know, Helen’s page is currently the only place fans can view the episode. For whatever reason, 2 months after it originally aired in the UK, Speed of Sound has yet to posted by BBC2 on the Toy Stories official website HERE or its sister Hulu page HERE.

Bottom Line: NOTHING truly ever disappears from the internet. There are always sites SOMEWHERE storing and silently archiving EVERYTHING we’ve ever posted. Most of it happens continuously and silently, in the background, in a faraway land, and we never give it a second thought. So when a “missing” episode suddenly reappears, you shouldn’t be too surprised. If you haven’t yet seen the Speed of Sound episode, take an hour to do so now. And remember, May’s opinions are wholly his own. Whenever he disses Action Man, just laugh it off. It’s a shame he doesn’t “get it.” But we all know that the TRUTH is out there. Go, ACTION MAN!

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Bugger! 1:6 Scale WWII War Comedy, “Jackboots on Whitehall,” Bombs at the Box Office———Costing $6,000,000 & Netting Only—(Wait for It)—£20,776*

* (Sources quoted for these figures: Wikipedia and boxofficemojo.com)

Designers of the lobby poster for the 2010 UK film, “Jackboots on Whitehall,” made the regrettable decision to prominently feature the film’s poorly sculpted action “puppet” of Winston Churchill (heavily retouched) as its main focus. As fond as we are of “Ol’ Winnie,” this choice was a clear marketing blunder—one of a MANY misguided creative decisions by the filmmakers. (Graphic: Matador Pictures)

The goblinesque, open-mouthed and oddly colored headsculpt of the film’s 1:6 scale Joseph Goebbels “puppet” was not particularly well-done OR funny-looking. And during most of its scenes, it simply stared blankly ahead, rarely moving and never closing(?) its mouth. It’s inconceivable that the filmmakers couldn’t mine comedic GOLD out of a character who was Germany’s Minister of Propaganda. The jokes practically write themselves! (Photo: Matador Pictures)

The Story of the Most Expensive 1:6 Scale Film Ever Made—and Why it Failed So Miserably.

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“You can have a million dollar, 20 million dollar, or 60 million dollar budget, and if you don’t have a good script, it doesn’t mean a thing.” —Tippi Hedren

Imagine if you will, the following 1:6 scale dream scenario: You’re a pair of young brothers living in the UK who are both GIjOE/Action Man fans, as well as aspiring (though largely inexperienced) filmmakers. Your joint dream is to blow away all the do-it-yourself, stop-action GIjOE videos found on YouTube and produce a big-budget, shown-in-the-theater feature film using your favorite 12-inch heroes in lieu of real actors; sort of a 1:6 scale WWII fantasy brought to life up on the big screen. A lofty and admirable goal? YES!

The only problem(s)? Well, as we said, you’re both still young. That’s not necessarily an insurmountable botheration, but with it comes a certain lack of experience, an immaturity of talent and untested creative judgement. And, like most young people, you likely have little (or no) money and very little history of business (or filmmaking) success. To top it all off, this will be the FIRST real film you’ve ever made. The search for funding is bound to be an uphill struggle, and with so many self-created obstacles, it seems you and your brother would be lucky to find someone who’d offer to give you cab fare, much less fund your idea for a 1:6 scale “puppet” movie. But never fear, my friends…

Regardless of those “roadblocks of reality,” someone with really deep pockets finally comes along and decides—for whatever reason—to give you $6 MILLION DOLLARS to make your dream movie. Here’s the money, fellas. Go ahead. Wow! The sun is certainly shining on you, now. Sounds like a dream come true for any pair of ambitious young Brits, right? Well, maybe not. Be careful what you wish for. After a year or so of hard work, you might just find your investor’s wallet $6,000,000 lighter and your IMDb filmography listing one of the biggest (and dullest) box-office BOMBS of all time.

Achtung! Despite this clever opening title gag (promising "Glorious Panzervision"), the 1:6 scale action-comedy, "Jackboots on Whitehall" falls flat from the very first scene. (Screenshot: Flatiron Film Co.)

Achtung! Despite this clever opening title gag (promising “Glorious Panzervision”), the 1:6 scale action-comedy, “Jackboots on Whitehall” falls flat from its very first scene. We would have loved to have seen this concept explored further. Imagine what “Panzervision” might’ve been! (Screenshot: Flatiron Film Co.)

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“Well, there’s no question that a good script is absolutely essential, maybe THE essential thing for a movie.”
Sydney Pollack

The faces behind the puppets—

The faces behind “Jackboots”— The McHenry Brothers of the UK (above) showed Action Man fans in the UK how to spend $6,000,000 to make a bad movie featuring 1:6 scale action figures. (Photo: ReviewFix)

If you’re not already aware, the fantasy scenario we’ve laid out above is all too real. Jackboots was indeed the co-creation of two (real) young British filmmakers, better known today by their collective appellation—the McHenry Brothers. We won’t recount their full backstory here, that’s already been done numerous times around the internet (see HERE and HERE, for just two examples), but it’s clear that the two never fully grasped how poorly they had written their screenplay. In one telling interview exchange with ReviewFix, Rory McHenry’s answer (sadly) reveals their cineaste naiveté:

malecomment“Review Fix: If you could change ONE thing about the film, what would it be
—and why?

Rory McHenry: More explosions. There were a lot more sets and London monuments we could
have blown up!”

<shaking our heads now> Anyone who’s seen Jackboots knows that “more explosions” would have done NOTHING to improve the film. The reasons for its failure are mainly script-oriented—not in its pyrotechnics. It also suffers from poorly sculpted heads—but we’ll get into that a bit later.

It's common practice for filmmakers and distributors of a failed project to try and recoup their investment by renaming a film, revising its promotional graphics or remarketing it to unsuspecting audiences overseas. Unfortunately, it's doubtful such efforts will ever help put Jackboots on Whitehall "back in the black." (Photo: Amazon)

It’s common practice for filmmakers and distributors of a failed project to try to recoup their investment by renaming a film, revising its promotional graphics and/or remarketing it to unsuspecting audiences overseas. Unfortunately, it’s doubtful such efforts will help put Jackboots on Whitehall “back in the black.” (Photo: Amazon)

As Fans of all things 1:6 scale, our hopes and expectations for 2010’s Jackboots on Whitehall (JOW) were actually quite high. After all, with so much money being thrown at it, it would HAVE to be great. Right? Wrong. As it unspooled on the screen before us, our high hopes were quickly dashed and we found ourselves sinking lower and lower into our seats. What a disappointment!

Unlike standard moviegoers, we were willing to look beyond JOW’s obviously boring script and lackluster characters, preferring to focus instead on its specific use (and choice) of 1:6 scale vehicles, props and action figures. Even with our lowered expectations, we have to admit this film is B—A—D. The only enjoyment we got out of it was playing “Name That 1:6 Scale Prop.” Whenever something new came on the screen, we’d blurt out things like, “That’s a Dragon ammo box!” or “I’ve got one of those (fill in the blank)!”

It quickly became apparent that any GIjOE, Action Man or Dragon action figure fan with a practiced eye would actually enjoy viewing this film more—with the sound turned OFF. That may seem like an odd thing to say, but believe us when tell you, you won’t be missing anything important. JOW’s story, dialogue and voice-work are all complete throwaways (but hey, the music’s pretty good).

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A Bad Day for Richard Dawson? No, it’s just another subpar headsculpt that’s actually more distracting than it is funny. Mon dieu! (Photo; Flatiron Film Co.)

What WILL appeal to 1:6 fans, is studying what’s been put up on there on the screen. After all, that’s where all the money went, and for 91 minutes, you’ll enjoy seeing how much 1:6 scale wackiness someone can set up and film for $6.000,000. If you can overlook the poorly sculpted characters, we suggest you focus more on the superbly crafted backgrounds, RC tanks, trucks and other vehicles, and just enjoy watching a 1:6 scale world being brought to life. Yes, most of the scenes fall completely flat, but then one suddenly comes along that really grabs your attention. For example, the number of Dragon SS German action figures used in the final Scotland battle sequence alone, is staggering. The studio’s prop department P.O. must’ve kept the folks at Dragon Models busy (and financially in the black) for a VERY long time. Gott im Himmel!

The difference is striking

In the film’s opening scene, an alternative Battle of Britain finale is underway, focusing on England’s two remaining fighter pilots as they attempt to fend off another bombing blitz by Goering’s Luftwaffe. Played seriously, the sequence feels as if it was made for another movie entirely. Much of the rest of the film is played for slapstick and silly laughs, making this scene seem completely out-of-place. Ultimately, the film’s failure boils down to its poorly written script. Its characters NEVER connect with the audience in any appreciable way, thereby dooming Jackboots on Whitehall to failure. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

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“It’s possible for me to make a bad movie out of a good script, but I can’t make a good movie from a bad script.”
George Clooney

A review in the Guardian UK, summed up the problems with this 2010 film, declaring it as:

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“Amiably intentioned but desperately weak in terms of script. Writer-directors Edward and Rory McHenry have poured an enormous amount of effort into the animatronic creations and models, but long, long minutes go by without anything resembling a good joke or a funny idea, and things frankly get very dull. It’s a shame, because this labour of love shows obvious creative potential, but the screenplay needed serious work.”

At times, the film does LOOK very impressive, especially when you consider that, for the most part, what you’re viewing has all been handcrafted at tiny 1:6 scale. So, rather than dwell anymore on what’s WRONG with Jackboots, let’s discuss some things its two creators got RIGHT…

Turn Her Into the Wind! The bridge set of the Hindenburg’s Command Gondola was one of the film’s best 1:6 scale creations. The figures chosen to crew the zeppelin were also well-detailed and featured above-average headsculpts. Unfortunately, this sort of excellence was diminished almost as soon as it was established, by other, more poorly crafted characters. D’oh! (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

Tell us when to laugh— Clearly patterned after goggle-eyed character actor, Marty Feldman, "Igor" is played 100% for laughs and receives absolutely NONE. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

Tell us when to laugh— Clearly patterned after goggle-eyed character actor, Marty Feldman, “Igor” is played 100% for laughs and receives absolutely NONE. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

The Hindenburg Command Gondola

Whenever JOW’s prop or set departments did something particularly well, it was immediately noticeable to the viewer (especially to us “1:6 scalers”). After all, in this sort of production, the camera is only a few feet or inches away from its subject, and at that close range, there’s no way to hide poor design or workmanship. One of the film’s standout sets is its Command Gondola for the Hindenburg. Replete with girders, rivets, finely detailed control panels and stylish slanted observation windows, this stellar creation is clearly the film’s best and most memorable.

In addition, the movie’s costumers took the time and effort to detail some of the film’s better looking figures—the zeppelin’s crewmen—by using excellent 1:6 scale (Dragon) figures and uniforms (see photo above). It’s a shame they receive such a short amount of screen time and the unfunny “Igor” (right) is featured instead.

The attention to detail of the Hindenburg's Command Gondola extended to the outside as well. OUTstanding! (Photo: Click to enlarge.

The careful attention to detail of the Hindenburg’s Command Gondola set extends to its exterior as well, as this screenshot reveals. Superb craftsmanship! (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

1:6 Scale Fans would have to give this scene, where the Hindenburg's tail gunner sprays hot lead down on the crowd below with his twin machine-guns, an A+. Even his expression is perfect, sort of a business-like, squint. (Photo: Flatiron) Click to enlarge.

Die, Britisher Pigs! 1:6 Scalers would have to give this scene—where the Hindenburg’s gondola gunner sprays hot lead down onto the crowd below (with twin machine-guns, nonetheless)—an undeniable A++. The sound effects, spitting flames, everything is perfect. Even his grim, determined expression is spot-on. This murderous, squinting Nazi is all-business and well portrayed. (Photo: Flatiron) Click to enlarge.

A smaller scale model of the Hindenburg was created and used for the faraway flying shots seen in the film. This excellent model is only about 5′ long. Wunderbar! (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

The Hindenburg was easily handled and retouched due to its small scale. Here, propmasters repair a small nick in the underside of the Command Gondola. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

Propmasters hang the Hindenburg from its wires in preparation for filming its scenes. Note how the delicate tail fin and nose sections are protected with styrofoam blocks during this delicate procedure to prevent any damage in case it is dropped. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

Careful, Boys! Propmasters gingerly hang the Hindenburg from wires in preparation for filming. Note also how they’ve chosen to protect its delicate tail fins and nose section with styrofoam blocks so as to prevent any further damage to the delicate model. Jah! (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

The Battle of Britain Opening Scene

Almost a separate movie, Jackboots’ opening Battle of Britain sequence, featuring two stalwart RAF pilots attempting to fight off the Luftwaffe, was very well filmed and executed. The filmmaker’s wise use of superbly sculpted Dragon action figures, outfitted in excellently detailed pilot uniforms, combined with in-flight shots of scale models of Spitfires and Heinkel bombers, helped to make the scenes largely believable and entertaining. Here are some “behind-the-scenes” pics of the action:

Similar to the Hindenburg, slightly smaller scale Spitfires were used for the flying scenes shown at the opening of the film. Closeups of the cockpit were done in a separate, full 1:6 scale model. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

Similar to the Hindenburg, slightly smaller-scale Spitfires were used for the flying scenes while closeups were taken of a separate 1:6 scale model of the cockpit. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

Getting up close to the Spitfire pilots required very tight shots on a 1:6 scale mock-up of the plane's cockpit. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

Filming closeups of the 1:6 scale Spitfire pilots required very close lens work  (and sharp focus) on a partial 1:6 scale mock-up of the plane’s cockpit. This also enabled puppeteers to move the figure’s hands and head from below, while staying carefully “out of shot.” (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

The Invasion of LondonWith 1:6 Scale RC

In another excellent sequence that will undoubtedly get “2 thumbs up” from all 1:6 scalers, the City of London is invaded from below by tanks and trucks full of German soldiers. After burrowing their way up through the street using a creatively conceived “drilling” tank, the Nazis begin to mercilessly mow down any and all Brits they can find, giving the McHenry boys plenty of opportunities to blow things up and fling bloody body parts all about the set. What fun!(?) Anyway, here some more pics:

Heavy Armor!

Holy, Heavy Armor! The construction and use of fully RC 1:6 scale tanks is a well-established hobby enjoyed by thousands of fans. We weren’t surprised then, that Jackboots contained numerous excellent RC tank scenes. We would’ve loved to have seen even MORE! (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

In a method similar to that used for the Spitfires, puppeteers utilized a separate tank turret to maneuver the tank commander puppets from below. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

In a method similar to that used for the Spitfires, puppeteers utilized a separate tank turret to maneuver the tank commander puppets from below. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

We absolutely LOVE this 1:6 RC truck. Just look at the size of this beauty. Sadly, it drives from right to left and...that's about it. What a waste of a fine machine! (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

We absolutely LOVED this superb RC troop truck. Just look at the SIZE of that beauty! Sadly, it drives from right to left and…well, that’s about it. What a wasted opportunity. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

This photo gives you an idea of just how large the London Invasion set really was. AMAZING! (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

This photo gives you an idea just how BIG this particular Jackboots set really was. The building facades in the background were not in full 1:6 scale, but that didn’t really matter to the viewer’s eye. What an AMAZING creation. Imagine “playing” with this! (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

Duck and Cover! As we now know, the filmmakers wouldn't build a set if they weren't going to blow it up, and blow it up they did—REAL good! BA-ROOOOMMM!!! (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

Duck and Cover! As we now know, the McHenry’s wouldn’t build a set if they weren’t going to blow it up, and they blew ’em up—REAL good! BA-ROOM!!! (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

Blimey—The Palace and Number 10 Never Looked Better, Guv’nah!

As we stated earlier, Jackboots’ propmasters and set builders truly shined during the film’s production, especially in their creation of outstanding room interiors and realistic building exteriors. Probably the best examples are the street exteriors at Winston Churchill’s residence, Number 10 Downing Street, and then later, an interior room at Kensington Palace. The scenes required both sets to be built at full 1:6 scale, and as such, they were MASSIVE as well as exquisitely detailed. Of course, much of it was destined to be blown up, but while they stood, the sets were two of the nicest 1:6 scale architectural dioramas ever created. Here are some pics taken during shooting:

Absolutely Breathtaking! The 1:6 scale build-up of #10 Downing Street was an absolute masterpiece. It's a shame the film's script wasn't half as good as its sets. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

Absolutely Breathtaking! The 1:6 scale build-up of #10 Downing Street was an absolute masterpiece. It’s a shame the film’s script wasn’t half as good as its sets. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

Inside Buckingham Palace, the Third Reich's goon squad celebrate their victory by playing with the "spoils of war" found inside yet another marvelous interior set created by the film's set builders.Out-STANDING! (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

Inside Buckingham Palace, the Third Reich’s goon squad celebrates their victory by playing around with the “spoils of war” they find inside. Be sure to enlarge this picture to get a better idea of just how MASSIVE this interior set was. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

This closeup reveals how expertly the set builders matched textures and recreated other room details at perfect 1:6 scale. WOW! (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

This closeup reveals how expertly the set builders matched textures and recreated other room details at spot-on, near perfect 1:6 scale. Simply superb! (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

The propmasters and set builders probably BOTH had a fun time constructed Winston Churchill's hidden weapons storage, cleverly hidden behind a giant wall map in his study. Dedicated 1:6 scalers could probably recreate this scene, item for item. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

The propmasters and set builders probably BOTH enjoyed constructing and then detailing Winston Churchill’s hidden weapons armory, cleverly hidden behind a sliding wall map in his office. Dedicated 1:6 scalers could probably recreate this scene, item for item! (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

Another attempt at humor using an effeminate Hitler in an Elizabethan dress falls flat with nary a giggle. Monty Python-esque comedy this is NOT. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

Another attempt at humor using an effeminate Hitler in an Elizabethan dress falls flat with nary a giggle. Monty Python-esque comedy this is NOT. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

“Tricking the Eye” With Scale

Occasionally, the filmmakers had to fudge a shot through tricks of perspective or the use of even smaller scale models. For example, the Hindenburg miniature (as shown above) was clearly NOT a 1:6 scale model. But at only about 5′ long, its shorter length must’ve made it much easier to film. Although the McHenry Brothers could’ve probably built a bigger one, that would’ve been quite a costly undertaking. And in the end, only its command gondola was really needed for scenes and closeups utilizing the 12″ action figures.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

There’s certainly a lot to like about Jackboots, but (sadly) there’s also a lot to dislike. After seeing all of the excellent 1:6 scale aircraft, tanks, trucks, building exteriors, room interiors and intricately detailed miniatures created for the film, the expertise and professionalism of the studio’s art department is undeniable. But whoever signed off on the awful headsculpts used to depict its main characters truly did the film a disservice. Indeed, the filmmakers would have been well-advised to have sought out superior sculptors in what has become a VERY specialized art form. As any toy manufacturer will tell you, the facial sculpt of an action figure is THE crucial factor determining its success or failure. Kids and adults alike can look at the face of a toy and tell you in a second if they don’t like it. And if they don’t like it, they’re not going to buy it. That spells disaster for a toy company. The same truism can be applied to the “puppets” used in this film—and to the project that suffers because of them.

Rory McHenry places the unsightly and decidedly unfunny “Igor” figure into position in the superb Hindenburg Command Gondola set in preparation for filming a scene. Not surprisingly, the differences and inconsistent quality of artistry between such key sets and figures proved to be a major distraction (and disappointment) for the audience. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

We're not sure exactly what we're supposed to make of the unusual headsculpt used for the town vicar. And the painting is decidedly crudely done as well. Was it supposed to be Jack Nicholson as the Joker? Or was he caught in a wind-tunnel? Is it an alien? Whatever the inspiration, his startled "eyebrows up, mouth full of teeth" expression never changes throughout the film and it's hard to comprehend WHY. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

We’re not sure what we’re supposed to make of the unusual headsculpt created for the town vicar. Was it supposed to be Jack Nicholson as the Joker? Or was he caught in a wind-tunnel? Whatever the inspiration, his startled “eyebrows up, mouth full of teeth” expression never changes throughout the film. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

In the Eye of the Beholder?

It’s hard to say why the filmmakers used so many bad headsculpts. Such decisions are clearly, very subjective creatively; one person’s impression of what “looks good” or “bad” can differ greatly from that of another. Perhaps the difference rests with experience. As life-long 1:6 scalers, it may be that our eyes for 1:6 sculpts are better trained or “sensitive” to quality, because we’re more used to working at that size.

Whatever the reason, in the end, the filmmaker’s inability to utilize top-notch figures throughout the film clearly hurt it visually, making it look—at times—quite amateurish; hardly what you’d expect from such a big-budget feature. Whenever one of the poorly crafted figures is up there (see at right), you almost want to WINCE. And again, without a good script to engage (or distract) us from such a “mixed bag” visually, the audience of Jackboots is left with very little to root for (or care about).

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“Give me a good script, and I’ll be a hundred times better as a director.”George Cukor

On the set of Jackboots on Whitehall, the two young writer-directors take a break while considering the next shot. Looking at this picture of the young, handsome brothers, it's interesting to consider—what were they thinking about at that moment? Were they overwhelmed by the enormity of responsibility involved with shooting such a big-budget film? (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

Under Pressure to Deliver— On the set of their first film production, 2010’s Jackboots on Whitehall, the writing-directing team of Ed (l) and Rory (r) McHenry take a break to consider their next move. Looking back at this photo of the handsome brothers (now), we have to wonder—How did they handle the pressure during the shoot? Were they overwhelmed by the responsibility of co-helming a big-budget feature? What toll did its failure take on them personally—and financially? (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

Roll 'em Out! Ed and Rory practice "marching" a rack full of SS stormtroopers, their feet nailed to a platform with oblong wheels to simulate the slight up-down motion made while walking (or marching). (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

Roll ’em Out! Ed and Rory practice “marching” a rack full of SS stormtroopers, their jackboots secured to a platform with oblong wheels to simulate the up-down motion made while walking (or marching). By the way, we counted 84 Germans on this rack ALONE! (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

In a nod to ancient Roman formations, multiple racks of German SS troops are set up to begin the assault on Hadrian's wall. The studio built the massive set all indoors. AMAZING! (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

 Looking like Roman Legions, multiple “racks” full of German troops stand ready to assault Hadrian’s wall during the film’s climatic battle sequence. This isn’t CGI, folks. Those were all Dragon action figures set up on an indoor soundstage. AMAZING! (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

Despite the availability of Pak 40s and other 1:6 scale artillery pieces made by 21st Century Toys and Dragon Models, (for some reason) the filmmakers decided to produce a series of under-scaled artillery pieces, instead. Don't look too closely, they're not very accurate. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

Despite the availability of Pak 40s and other 1:6 scale artillery pieces made by 21st Century Toys and Dragon Models, (for some reason) Jackboots’ filmmakers decided to utilize these under-sized pieces, instead. Perhaps to squeeze more into the frame? (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

"Marching" racks full of SS troopers was also used for scene where they parade through London. You have to admire the effort (and $) that went into producing this shot in 1:6 scale. What a colossal undertaking! (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

“Marching” racks full of SS troopers were also used in a scene where they parade triumphantly through London. It’s a SHAME that the filmmakers didn’t figure out a way to have them all GOOSE-STEPPING during this sequence (another missed opportunity). That would have been AMAZING! Still, you have to admire all the effort (and $) that went into producing this shot at 1:6 scale. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

Unfortunately,"Daisy," a character the filmmakers had hoped would connect with the audience failed to do so in any appreciable way. We admire the craftsmanship on this figure, although it's largely a fashion Barbie with slight alterations. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

I’m not Barbie! Oh wait… “Daisy,” was a character the filmmakers stated they had hoped would connect with the audience, and yet she fails to do so in any appreciable way. Could it be because they used a common, high fashion Barbie doll with little to no alterations? This smooth, featureless face looks more like a mannequin than any “living” character. This is a face we’ve seen MILLIONS of times. YAWN. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

Surprisingly, in a 2010 interview with Suchandrika Chakrabarti, the brothers took much the same position as their critics, stating their belief that the film’s story and characters were paramount, while all the rest (explosions, etc.) was “just background.” Nonetheless, once filming began, their combined inexperience (at that time) was clearly unable to produce the results of their original stated intentions. Here’s what they had said:

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“What we started to learn, as we got through principal photography, and a lot of the prep, up until 6 months ago, the nebulous concept of the film was going to be the characters and the love interest between Chris and Daisy, and everything around that, tanks, guns, explosions, is just background and to make it an exciting movie, but the main thing in this is that the puppets are becoming real people.”

Is THIS the face of a Hero?

Is THIS the face of a Hero? It is if you’re the star of Jackboots on Whitehall. The headsculpt for “Chris,” while not the worst of the bunch, was still only AVERAGE. We wonder how many the filmmakers went through before they selected this one? (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

Unfortunately, the McHenry’s stated goal of their characters “becoming real people” was never achieved. Far from it, in fact. Their character’s trite, unoriginal dialogue and the awful screenplay they portrayed was, well, as DULL as dishwater. Seeking out the assistance of a professional screenwriter (with a proven track record) would have been money well spent in those early stages. Instead, the brothers turned only to each other creatively and so the results must be laid squarely at their doorstep. In a separate interview (HERE), Ed McHenry confirmed their writing process when he revealed:

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“The fantastic thing about making a film like this is that you can play around with the script – there’s no need to lip-synch, so Rory and I just sat in our living room with the lines on a laptop and rebuilt the dialogue. Everyone who joined the cast brought something new, so we were literally rewriting the script up until the last day of editing.”

Ouch. While such improvisation and endless rewriting is not unheard-of or uncommon, even the most ultra-talented film auteurs would consider making a big-budget movie that way akin to walking on hot coals or performing a dangerous high-wire act. One misstep—and it’s OVER.

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“I only sound intelligent when there’s a good script writer around.” —Christian Bale

You can see what the filmmakers were going for in a scene like this, where the three main "baddies" gather 'round a war-planning table to plot strategy. Unfortunately, their unfunny dialogue coupled with an erratic mixture of visual miscues (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

You can see what the filmmakers were going for in a scene like this, where the three main bad guys (Goering, Himmler and Goebbels) gather ’round a war-gaming table to discuss strategy. It’s a shame they had nothing original to say or do (where are the 3 Stooges when you need them?). The dialogue they did “speak” wasn’t witty OR funny, and their stiff, barely movable bodies end up producing something akin to a bad puppet show. And remember—we’re FANS! (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

Barbie looks very S&M in her skin-tight Nazi uniform and high-heel Jackboots as she sprays the defenders perched on Hadrian's Wall with her submachine gun. And yet...these scenes could have been SO much better. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

Barbie looks very S&M in her all-black leather-n-mesh Nazi ensemble (with high-heel jackboots) as she casually massacres defenders atop Hadrian’s Wall. Actually, two Barbies were strapped onto an RC Kettenkrad and then driven around the set for about 30 seconds of mayhem. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

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Bite Me! As this closeup of Goering’s rather roughly hewn (and poorly painted) headsculpt reveals, the directors chose to also (inexplicably) give him the metal teeth from 007’s arch-nemesis, “Jaws,” resulting in yet another uninspired sight-gag that fails to produce even a chuckle. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

From the store to the big screen— 1:6 scalers will recognize this RC Mercedes that appeared in stores a few years back. It works well in the movie and actually has many other effects not shown in the film (see THIS VIDEO for more details). (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

From the toy store to the big screen— 1:6 scalers will undoubtedly recognize Goering’s RC Mercedes that was sold worldwide back in 2009. It looked great in the movie and actually has many other interesting “effects” not revealed in the film (watch THIS VIDEO for complete details). (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

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The film’s opening credit sequence features some (passable) artwork that reminded us (a little bit) of the old “Andy and George” GIJOE comic book ads of the 1960s. Unfortunately, this artwork was not nearly as well drawn, and so the camera (wisely) pans quickly over each frame. Again, a few bucks spent on a professional (i.e. more talented) comic book artist would’ve been $ well spent. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

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In a glimpse of what could have been, the figure created for “Major Rupee” sported a carefully tailored uniform, properly fitting pistol belt, shoulder strap, rifle sling and turban, which all combined to create a sharp-looking figure that immediately grabs your attention. Unfortunately, his eyes were poorly painted. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

Considering Future Possibilities

As we wind up our coverage of this, the most expensive 1:6 scale movie ever made, we wanted to confirm that YES, we understand hindsight is 20-20, and NO, we’re not purporting to be experts on filmmaking. But since it’s been 5 years since Jackboots debuted (and disappeared) with barely a ticket sold at the box office, 2015 seems as good a time as any to discuss the reasons behind both its critical and financial failure.

It’s also important to remember how—and by whom—this film was made. The McHenry’s were self-admitted rookie filmmakers, yet they showed MASSIVE cojones in pitching (what was barely) an idea, securing (so much!) funding, and writing and directing their first-ever film project. Despite the fact that Jackboots went down in cinema history as a total box-office bomb, you have to credit the two young men for all their hard work, and for even attempting such a project.

Having Said All That…

We can’t help but consider what COULD have been created if perhaps a more experienced filmmaking team had been “green-lighted” with such a rare and momentous opportunity. Think about it. What would YOU do with a $6,000,000 budget? Let’s play a quick game of “Consider the Possibilities.” It may help us all to better grasp the enormity of this particular film’s oh-so-regrettable failure.

The FUTURE of Adventure Team animation? Animator Dana Rausch's "sample reel" has shown just how GREAT an Adventure Team serial could be. If only...(Photo: Dana Rausch)

Is this the face of the FUTURE of Adventure Team animation? Animator Dana Rausch’s sample AT video shows just how GREAT an Adventure Team series could be! (Photo: Dana Rausch)

How About an CGI-Animated “Adventure Team” TV Series?

If the stiff, “puppet-like” movements of the characters in Jackboots showed us anything, it’s that (perhaps) making a film with action figures isn’t the best idea, after all. Instead, maybe creating an animated series based on (but NOT utilizing) action figures is, in fact, a better way to go. And if that is indeed the case, then it’s easier to envision an Adventure Team-based series, loosely patterned after the old Jonny Quest cartoons by Hanna Barbara.

For a glimpse into this exciting possibility, look no further than the sample AT video (above) created by animator Dana Rausch. You could even end each episode with a “cliff-hanger” ending that would leave audiences eagerly waiting for the next episode (same bat-time, same bat-channel). Hasbro would be happy too, as the new show would undoubtedly spur all-new demand for AT-related products. Can you say, “revitalized brand merchandising?” (Psst! There’s no charge for this unsolicited advice, Hasbro. Feel free to “steal” whatever you like and run with it. We won’t complain!)

The '60s classic adventure series, Jonny Quest, created a template of science, action and adventure that would apply well to GIjOE and his Adventure Team. Would someone please convince Hasbro to attempt funding such a project? (Art: Steve Rude)

Mixing the Formula For Success— The ’60s classic adventure series, Jonny Quest, created a template for intrigue and adventure based on science, cultural differences and ACTION that would translate well to a new TV show based on GIjOE and the Adventure Team. Perhaps the (obviously) “gutsy” McHenry Brothers will try to convince Hasbro to green-light an AT idea for their next project? (Art: Steve Rude)

What Did UK Action Man Fans Think of “Jackboots?”

You’d think spending $6 million dollars to make a movie featuring 1:6 scale action figures in the UK would be well-known by Action Man collectors actually LIVING in the UK. But you’d be wrong. This film was such a dud that even today, very few UK AM fans can recall that it even existed. To investigate this conundrum further, we contacted the one man we knew would have the answers: famed action figure dealer, Gareth Pippen of Pippens Toys (UK). Gareth owns and operates his own action figure toy store in Glasgow, Scotland, and we were sure that he’d know all about UK’s Jackboots. Imagine our surprise when he admitted:

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“I have never heard of it, to be honest. But if I were to guess, does it have something to do with British comedian Jack Whitehall and WWII? Okay… I just googled it… I’m WAY off.”
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Figures Don’t Lie— When in doubt, go to the official record. In this case, it’s from the UK film industry’s website “boxofficemojo,” which keeps files on all of that country’s releases dating back many years. We searched through 2010 and there it was: Jackboots on Whitehall. After 2 weeks in release, it had grossed only £7,847, down 98% from the week before. Now, THAT’S a “nose dive!” After an equally short run in Spain, the film was removed from theaters altogether. (Photo: Mark Otnes) Click to enlarge.

Since so few fans actually paid to see Jackboots during its original theatrical release, it can be hard to track down individuals to provide reviews today. Fortunately, a handful of them had the foresight to post their thoughts (while they were still fresh in their minds) on the IMDb website, after seeing the film back in 2010. It’s quite revealing to read those reviews today. For example:

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“Went to see this at the weekend after watching the trailer online. I could have walked out after 15 minutes and I wouldn’t have cared less about how the film ended. The dolls themselves looked very silly, no real emotion and the comedy was very dull. The only time I laughed was right at the end of the film, a long time to wait for a laugh. I can appreciate the hard work which has gone in to creating the landscapes and models etc. However, it still doesn’t make up for the fact that there is no real plot to the film and some of the voice acting is embarrassing. PS: I really, really wanted to like this film. (Just watch the trailer.)” —Thommaryjane

The goof-ball American fighter pilot was another waste of time, predictable and completely unfunny. However, the back of his jacket revealed some nice detailing work, unlike the front, which was a hodgepodge of pilot's pins and other silliness. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

The American fighter pilot character lampooned in Jackboots was another complete misfire, wholly predictable and unfunny. However, the back of his jacket revealed some nice detailing work, unlike the front, which was a hodgepodge of pilot’s pins and other insignia. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

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“Post modern comic allusions here (Lethal Weapon, etc) are uneven and haphazard at best. What makes me wonder most is how this amateurish production got a hold of an array of such top-notch A-list talents to do voices. Ewan McGregor, etc. They must have promised them a Pixar-caliber animation. Terribly disappointed.” — smeg-4-brains

For some reason, some of the better head sculpts were used for background characters that had little or no lines of dialogue. We caught a screenshot of this impressive looking (though oddly long-haired) SS stormtrooper during a quick camera pan-by of the troops. Why couldn't the same high quality have been applied to all faces of the main characters? (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

You Lookin’ at Me? For some reason, some of the better head sculpts were wasted on background characters that had little or no lines of dialogue. We snapped this screenshot of an impressive looking (though oddly long-haired) SS stormtrooper during a quick camera pan-by of the troops. He’s probably grumpy that he hasn’t had a decent haircut in months. HA! (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

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“If you only care about the puppetry and what not, yeah, you might like it. If you expect it to be funny like either Team America or Robot Chicken, I think you’ll be hugely disappointed. I was. Most of the attempts at humor just fell flat on their face. There are a few funny things here and there that got a smile out of me, but overall it was boring as hell…” —astralace69

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Seriously don’t bother. It’s *beep* And I mean that in the nicest way possible. As a lover of all things WWI-WWII comedy / humor (related), it’s *beep.* Avoid at all costs.boobookitty

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Hang on, Fans! “Thunderbirds Are Go”———Again!

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Prepare for Takeoff! Fans of 1:6 scale dioramas and sci-fi adventure loved the intricate sets, machines and rocketry featured in Gerry Anderson’s “Thunderbirds” TV series and movies of the 1960s. Fortunately, the Thunderbirds are slated to return in 26 new half-hour episodes, not as “Supermarionation’ creations (right), but as CGI animations (left). The results remain to be seen. Cross your fingers! (Photos: ITV)

Fans of 1:6 scale drool uncontrollably at the sight of some of the Thunderbirds cockpits and other detailed sets. Imagine the adventures you could have with THIS one! (Photo: ITV)

Fans of 1:6 scale typically drool uncontrollably at the sight of some of the Thunderbirds cockpits and other ultra-detailed sets. Imagine the adventures GIjOE could have sitting in THIS one. Holy, WOW! (Photo: ITV)

Supermarionation is OUT.
CGI is (Apparently) “IN.”

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely LOVED Gerry Anderson’s 1960s UK show called Thunderbirds Are Go! I have all the episodes on DVD and rewatch them regularly (the full-length film versions as well). I also own many of the playsets, action figures, vehicles, a vintage ’60s coloring book and scads more Thunderbirds merchandise. For ardent fans like myself, the recent news of a new Thunderbirds TV program is like throwing meat into a lion’s cage. I’m all OVER it! Here’s the intel released in today’s article by the UK Telegraph:

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“Thunderbirds are back. A new image of the Tracy brothers has been released by ITV, showing the puppets of old have been replaced by CGI characters with boyband haircuts and very tight trousers. The picture features [l-r] Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John in front of Tracey Island. ITV’s ‘reboot’ of the 1960s show, called Thunderbirds Are Go, is a mix of CGI and live action, and will air this spring – 50 years after the first show was broadcast. Rosamund Pike will voice Lady Penelope. David Graham, the original voice of Parker the chauffeur, will return to reprise his role. Thomas Brodie-Sangster will voice John Tracy, and Kayvan Novak will be the voice of Brains.”

(Photo: IDW01)

The “stars” of Thunderbirds were actually the mind-blowing rockets, space planes and other far-out vehicles featured on the show. Our favorite? Thunderbird 2! Oh, YEAH, baby! (Photo: IDW01)

“An ITV spokesman said the series would ‘deliver a new level of action-adventure animation whilst paying tribute to the classic 1960s phenomenon.’ The original show was created by Gerry Anderson, who died in 2012 and had given the remake his blessing. The new version will be broadcast in 26 half-hour episodes and has been made by Peter Jackson’s Weta Workshop, responsible for special effects in The Lord of the Rings. 

Graham, the only original voice cast member to feature in the remake, said Anderson was ‘delighted’ that the show would be introduced to a new generation. ‘In one of the last interviews he gave on television, he said it was going to come back. We all who worked on it would like to dedicate it to his memory,’ Graham has said.”

This closeup shows detail of some of the equipment, uniforms and Tracy Island. (Photo: IT)

About Face! This closeup shows detail of some of the equipment, uniforms and Tracy Island. (Photo: ITV)

Bottom Line: Depending on your “take” regarding the Thunderbirds, this news will come either as a big deal—or no deal at all. For us, it’s a VERY big deal. Time to get out our Tracey Island playlet and launch Thunderbirds 1, 2 and 3! (For more intel, see first video clip below and website HERE.)

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