Last night & tomorrow.

So I get home last night after pulling an open-to-close and I’ve got a raging headache. Not sure why, maybe it was a lack of caffeine (I get terrible caffeine withdrawal headaches when I don’t drink any or enough coffee/Mountain Dew/whatever), or maybe it was the changing weather. Whatever it was, it was pretty punishing, so when I sat down in front of my TV in my comfy bean bag chair, I closed my eyes and pulled my jacket tight around me like a blanket and nodded right off for about an hour.

Then I woke up, realized just how uncomfortable I was, and rolled over into a more comfortable position. Nodded back off, woke up about an hour later, realized that wasn’t any good either, and threw off my jacket, scarf, shoes, and some other articles of clothing and went to bed. I wound up getting something like ten hours of sleep, which resulted in me feeling actually quite rested when I finally crawled out of bed in the morning. However, the side effect of that was that A) I didn’t get anything to eat last night, and B) I didn’t do anything at all between getting home from work and going to work the next day. Clearly no blogging, and also no watching of DVDs, and no opening of toys.

Which is a shame, because I finally got in my DOCTOR WHO “Eleven Doctors” action figure box set yesterday, and I only got to open it just now. Tomorrow afternoon I’ll post some pictures and some longer thoughts, but the short version: great concept, great price point given what I paid — a hair over ten dollars a figure, and keep in mind this was imported from the U.K. — but spotty quality control, which has me now scouring eBay for a replacement Fifth Doctor, which bugs me seriously, because I HAD a perfectly good Fifth Doctor (from a “Time Crash” San Diego exclusive set I discovered for a reasonable price at GoHastings.com), but sold it off on eBay because I figured I didn’t need a redundant Fifth Doctor because, Hey, I’m getting the “Eleven Doctors” set! Ugh. For the record, his problem is that you can’t look at him straight on without noticing a large line along the seam between his hair and his head that is painted flesh tone. It just looks awful.

Other than poor Peter Davison, though, none of the figures came out egregiously bad; in fact, most are satisfactory at worst. The worst I found on the other ten Doctors are some minor paint marks here and there, but even the minor bits on the faces — some very fine marks on the Eleventh Doctor’s right cheek and a spot on the Eighth Doctor’s left — are barely noticeable unless you’re really looking for them. The new version of the Fourth Doctor is just amazing-looking, with that new head sculpt ultimately being everything I hoped it’d be. Also, call me crazy, but I’m totally stoked to finally have an action figure of the Sixth Doctor; I’ve honestly been taken with that rather arrogant-looking likeness of Colin Baker since I first saw it when the first wave of “classic” DOCTOR WHO figures was announced. And while it’s a bit off by all accounts courtesy WHO fanatics more fanatical than I, I kind of like the color scheme of his outfit in this set. The coat in these particular hues reminds me of a pack of Starbursts candy, while the waistcoat and tie ensemble put me in the mind of cupcakes with sprinkles.

More thoughts and pictures sometime Sunday afternoon. For now, I’m gonna track down a non-crappy Peter Davison and maybe some adversaries for this lot, and then turn in for the evening. And maybe, just maybe, I won’t get up ’til noon. That sounds like a plan.

Spoiler: He doesn’t actually die.

Lordy, the trailer at the end of part two of this week’s second THE SARAH JANE ADVENTURES actually has me tempted to watch next week. Love a good “everybody’s disappeared” plot, unless it drags out too long — and given the two-half-hour-parts format of the show, it’s not going to. Plus, the robots look cool. You know me. I love me some cool-looking robots.

As for the second half of “Death of the Doctor,” well …

Jo and Sarah Jane, back in the TARDIS as the Doctor distracts himself.

The Doctor seems to have a hard time looking back even when his past is standing right next to him. Even when he still calls them friends.

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Head on! Head on! HEAD ON!

Today we’re taking a look at the second three heads out of that Headmasters box I snatched up — the three beasts. To get in the right frame of mind, here’s Hironobu Kageyama’s highly energetic opening theme to the 1987 TRANSFORMERS anime, THE HEADMASTERS. Remember, this is the version where the small Headmaster guys are all robots that combine with lifeless robot bodies, which is why we didn’t get it over here in the U.S.; in the U.S., the robots were all living Transformers whose heads were removed and reengineered into power suits for humanoid aliens called Nebulans. It was really weird, and never really made any sense. Heaven only knows how Hasbro would’ve tried to explain the animal Headmasters we’re looking at today …

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“This song is ending, but the story never ends …”

The last time Sarah Jane Smith laid eyes on her time-traveling friend the Doctor he was standing grimly outside his TARDIS, in the midst of making his “victory lap” to visit his friends and help them all out one last time as the man they knew from four years of journeys through time and space. The look on her face as he entered the TARDIS told us that somehow she knew what we all knew at home; that the man with the spiky hair, the sideburns, and the long coat would soon die, and be reborn as … well, who knew, then? A younger fellow with a strange face and floppy hair, sure, but what would he be like?

Nearly ten months later, we the viewers at home know that the Doctor is all right; less cocky, less angst-ridden, more at peace with his unique place in the cosmos, but still continuing his crusading joyride through time and space, fighting monsters and saving people and entire civilizations with new friends by his side. And now, while his ongoing story takes a break, it’s time for him to let those he left behind know that his story, indeed, has not ended.

Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith and Katy Manning as Josephine Jones.

The Third Doctor's longest-running companion meets her successor on-screen for the first time in the latest episode of the latter's self-titled show, THE SARAH JANE ADVENTURES.

Unfortunately for the Doctor, it seems he’s been trapped on some wayward red-hued junk-strewn planet, and a race of creepy harp-playing vulture puppet undertakers have decided, with the help of a stunningly gorgeous UNIT colonel, to tell two of the Doctor’s oldest and dearest friends on Earth that, in fact, the Doctor has been killed — hence the title of this story, “Death of the Doctor.”

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A box of heads.

One of my favorite TRANSFORMERS gimmicks of all time is the Headmaster gimmick. You have a vehicle or a robotic animal that has a seat in it, like the Japanese DIACLONE cars, planes, dinosaurs, and bugs that — after some repainting and filing down of the sharp points — made up the bulk of the first two years of the TRANSFORMERS toy line. Unlike the TRANSFORMERS versions of those older toys, though, the Headmasters vehicles and animals actually come with drivers, blocky little armored guys who can move their arms and sit down, but are otherwise nigh to unarticulated. However, when the vehicle or animal transforms into a robot, the little armored guy ALSO transforms — into the robot’s head!

In Japan, the idea was that the little guy was a smaller robot that basically used the vehicle or animal as a kind of transformable mecha, while in the States we were offered up the confusing concept of “binary bonding,” where the little guy is a human being or humanoid alien in an armored suit, and the larger robot is a Transformer who had his own personality — so, two minds in one body. There wasn’t a lot of time to explore the concept in the cartoon, because it ended with the three-episode mini-series that introduced the Headmasters. The comics of the time didn’t do a lot with the idea until Simon Furman began writing two polar opposite takes on the concept. On the one hand we had the biggest Headmaster on the Autobot side, Fortress Maximus, who was binary bonded with the human Spike Witwicky. Spike abandoned his position as the head of Fortress Maximus, so their personalities remained distinct and they had a bit of a mental tug-of-war for control of their merged body and consciousness. On the other hand we had the biggest Headmaster on the Decepticon side, Scorponok, who by the time Furman was writing him self-identified as his humanoid identity, Lord Zarak. I believe he was simply following from former writer Bob Budiansky’s lead, but regardless, the way the character was written, it seemed that Scorponok’s own consciousness was gone, that Scorponok was merely a role that Zarak played for his Decepticon troops. He pretty much admits this to Optimus Prime in issue #74, as the story builds to the impending confrontation with Unicron.

Whatever the way it works in the fiction, the fun of the toys is that all the figures and heads are cross-compatible. Consequently, in Japan, Takara produced a handful of heads that didn’t appear in the cartoon and had no larger robot bodies they went with. You could use them as replacements if you lost the original heads, or you could use them as cool-looking alternatives to the “canon” figure heads. These heads now fetch big crazy money on the aftermarket — though it’s not like original Headmaster heads are cheap on their own. So when this item started popping up on the internet, heads turned, and money exchanged hands …

The bootleg Headmaster head box.

A beautiful window box full of men and animals who turn into heads.

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“Nothing is forgotten. Nothing is ever forgotten.”

There are certain TV shows and movies that I never, ever get sick of, no matter how many times I watch them. The first two episodes of ROBOTECH are like that for me. The DOCTOR WHO serials “The Deadly Assassin” and “City of Death” are like that, too, as is the first episode of the season just past, “The Eleventh Hour.” TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE (1986) is something I can actually quote, and given how bad I am with quotes, that should say something right there. Alex Cox’s brilliant and weird punk sci-fi black comedy REPO MAN is up there. The original ROBOCOP, too. And so is the final episode of series 2 of this 1980s UK import …

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