Welcome to Dan Alexander Dizmentia

Welcome to Dan Alexander Dizmentia
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Frighten Inn Haunted Bed & Breakfast Is A Proud Sponsor of Dan Alexander Dizmentia

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Meet the Sea Dragons of OZ and the Yeti Crab

Meet the Sea Dragons of OZ and the Yeti Crab
OZ is shorthand for Australia, and not related to a Wizard

MAN-ATEE AND WOMAN-TARAY: NEW SUPER HEROES SURFACE

MAN-ATEE AND WOMAN-TARAY: NEW SUPER HEROES SURFACE
Join the Crime Wave

Bad Biker Kitties Are On The Prowl

Bad Biker Kitties Are On The Prowl
Join The Kitten Motorcycle Gang

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Bucky And The Emperor's New Groove At McDonald's

If you've seen Disney's animated film, "The Emperor's New Groove," you should be able to translate the following Squirrel phrase:

"Squeak squeaken squeak squeakity!"

That would be "My acorn is missing!"

If you are unfamiliar with this furry-tailed Bucky the Squirrel toy, you are excused. Bucky was part of a "The Emperor's New Groove" McDonald's Happy Meal that was released in Asian countries.

Bucky got the chance to shine with his famous balloon Llama, which lights up when you press the Squirrel on the nose.

Kuzco appeared in this set in his Llama form.

Kuzco's cart connects with Pacha (not included!).

When the cart rolls, Kuzco's head bobs up and down.

The Emperor's New Groove started out as a movie called "Kingdom In The Sun." The title was then changed to "Kingdom Of The Sun."

Originally, the story was a spin on "The Prince and the Pauper" set in South America, with a llama herder (voiced by Owen Wilson) switching places with the Emperor (voiced by David Spade).

The story eventually lost the twin twist, and a number of songs written by Sting (some of which can be heard on the movie's soundtrack). The llama herder, Pacha, became an older character (voiced by John Goodman).

I have to admit that I did not care for the title "The Emperor's New Groove" when I first heard it mentioned. Then I saw the movie and thought it was a breath of fresh air, and the title seemed to be a good fit for such a fun and different film.

Pacha's feet move thanks to rolling wheels. Not too shabby for a fast food toy!

My favorite character in the movie is Kronk (voiced by Patrick Warburton). He looks like a superhero, but he's a villain (well, sort of).

Patrick Warburton has been involved in quite a few animated projects, including the live action version of The Tick, the voice of Buzz Lightyear (in the Star Command TV series) and the voice of Joe Swanson on the Family Guy TV series.

The Kronk toy from McDonald's has a bottle with liquid in it. I think it was supposed to change color.
Patrick Warburton and David Spade can currently be seen together on the TV series, "Rules of Engagement."

In December of 2000, I visited family members who were living in Winchester, Virginia (not too far away from the site of the unbuilt Disney's America theme park).

During this trip, I had a very difficult time finding The Emperor's New Groove Happy Meal toys at the various McDonald's locations I visited. For some reason, many of the McDonald's in this region seemed to not be "a participating location" for the promotion.

I also visited Washington, D.C. for a few days on this vacation. I did end up seeing a Disney attraction during my time there. The National Museum of Women In The Arts had an incredible exhibit featuring the works of Julie Taymor, including many of the puppets and props she created for The Lion King Musical. It was amazing!

The two level McDonald's near the National Museum of Women In The Arts did not have The Emperor's New Groove Happy Meal, either! This location, like most of the ones I visited, was selling those Ty Mini Beanie Babies that took America by storm for a while.

I did see buses with large ads for The Emperor's New Groove all over D.C. during my stay there. And the only animals that were really active at The National Zoo (due to extremely cold temperatures) were the squirrels.

The Emperor's New Groove had very little merchandise in 2000. These launch toys were the only "action figures" I saw for sale.

I love Kuzco's lively theme song, "Perfect World" performed by Tom Jones.

Years ago, some friends of mine found a great Tom Jones CD at a store called Unclaimed Baggage in Scottsboro, Alabama (it's the place lost luggage goes to get sold). This CD is where I discovered the wonderful Tom Jones song, "The Young New Mexican Puppeteer." The title alone is priceless.

Pacha is one of many animated characters voiced by John Goodman. He has also voiced Baloo the Bear in the Jungle Book 2, Sulley in Monsters, Inc., and most recently appeared in The Princess and the Frog.

Pacha's wife, Chaca, was voiced by Wendie Malick, who was David Spade's co-star on "Just Shoot Me."

At the end of my time in Washington D.C., I did manage to find the Yzma toy at a McDonald's on the way to the airport.

The late, great Eartha Kitt gave an amazing performance as Yzma. The scene this toy depicts, which ends with Yzma as a pinata, is one of my favorite sequences in the movie.

The Emperor's New Groove even has a roller coaster! Like all the props and buildings in the movie, it really has character.

I remember reading that the Raging Spirits roller coaster at Tokyo DisneySea in Japan is based on The Emperor's New Groove (though it is not obvious).

Bucky the Squirrel's big sequence is represented in this set, but Bucky himself is absent.

Even this menacing scene in the movie is comical, with a tiny meowing jaguar cub following the adult jaguars chasing Kuzco.

Probably as a nod to Eartha Kitt's career as Catwoman in the Batman world, Yzma is transformed into a cute kitten at the end of the movie.

This is the only toy of the cat version of Yzma that I've seen.

Kronk got his own movie in 2005, the DVD sequel "Kronk's New Groove."

How does The Emperor's New Groove translate in other languages? Be sure to see "Un Empereur Nouveau Genre."

In Europe, McDonald's had a different set of characters for its Emperor's New Groove promotion.
The Pacha and Llama cart toys look very similar to the toys sold in Asia.

The Europeans got a neat mix and match set of Kuzco toys.

This set also featured a chomping, wind-up alligator.

When Bucky's tail is pushed, he makes a chattering sound. I think this is my favorite Emperor's New Groove item.

Bucky is so cute. But don't be fooled. The cute characters in The Emperor's New Groove are the most dangerous.

The Emperor's New Groove was not a box office smash when it debuted in theaters in 2000, but it became a big hit on television. In 2006, it was spun off into a TV series called "The Emperor's New School."

Not a bad ending for a movie with such an unusual title.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Disney's Animal Kingdom Pandora AVATAR McDonald's Happy Meal

In September of 2011, it was announced that AVATAR themed lands would be added to Disney theme parks all over the world, with the first one planned to open at Disney's Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida (with construction planned to start sometime around the year 2013). It is time to take a look at the McDonald's Happy Meal toys based on AVATAR's world of Pandora at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

In keeping with the networking theme of James Cameron's AVATAR film, the interlocking Rube Goldberg toys in this series can all be connected in different combinations and cause a chain reaction.

The anchor piece of this set is AVATAR's hero, Jake Sully.

The Jake figure slides down a vine and hits a tree, which triggers an action to whatever toy it is connected with.

When the Flamingo-like Tetrapteron is touched, it releases the Great Leonopteryx, the largest character in this set.

The Great Leonopteryx swivels around on its rocky base to set the next toy in motion.

When the Helicordian plant is touched, it sends Jake's Mountain Banshee spiraling down a tall tree.
At the base of the tree, the Mountain Banshee hits some foliage, which triggers the next toy.

It's time to try to lasso a Direhorse.

When the lasso hits the Direhorse, this six-legged beast is sent galloping to hit whatever toy it is connected with.

When a large tree branch is activated, it sends the acrobatic, monkey-like Prolemuris tumbling through the trees.
The Prolemuris figure lands on the jungle floor and hits the next toy.

The leaves of a tree hold back a foul-tempered Hammerhead Titanothere.

When the Hammerhead Titanothere charges, it hits the Hexapede, which triggers the next toy.

When a carnivorous Viperwolf on a tree branch is touched, the ferocious, panther-like Thanator springs out of the tree.

The pouncing Thanator sends another Viperwolf on the attack, which sets off the next toy.

When a Pandorian plant is hit, Neytiri and her Mountain Banshee are sent soaring through the jungle.
Neytiri's take-off activates another swiveling shrub, which would trigger the action in the connected toy.

The bioluminescent characters and set pieces of Pandora take on a spectacular look in the dark.

The Pandora jungle at night in Disney's Animal Kingdom puts a whole new twist on a visit to that theme park.

The Great Leonopteryx is sort of like a cross between a pterodactyl and a dragon.

I imagine many parades in Pandora incorporate a representation of this beast.

Flying on a Mountain Banshee is a Must-Do.

The most popular souvenir in Pandora is the light-up Mountain Banshee toy glider.

The most domesticated animal in Pandora is the Direhorse.

The Direhorse Carousel is a big hit at traveling festivals on Pandora.

I was terrified of monkeys when I was a little kid, but I also thought they were really interesting. I'm not sure what my reaction would have been to a six-limbed monkey.

Kids on Pandora, though, love playing on the Prolemuris Bars at the jungle gym.

The threat displays of the rhino-like Titanothere and the deer-like Hexapede are a bit more dazzling in the dark.

You'll be in awe when the Titanothere tries to destroy you.

My favorite AVATAR character is the Thanator.

I'm ready to see an Exploring the World of Pandora nature series to air on the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet, documenting the life of a Thanator during the day and night.

Neytiri enjoys flying her Mountain Banshee through Pandora, the Las Vegas of Jungles.

With their cat-like ears, noses, and tails, even the "humans" of Pandora have an animal look.

Jake Sully looks a bit like a blue Brendan Fraser, star of Disney's George of the Jungle film, which was a spoof of Tarzan.

The Disney's Animal Kingdom Pandora toys are actually based on a Disney Tarzan McDonald's Happy Meal series from 2000 that I re-imagined as an AVATAR set. Working on this, I was reminded of watching "The Making of Who Framed Roger Rabbit" TV special, which showed live action film footage being masked by drawings.

The easiest characters to transform were Jake Sully (Tarzan), Neytiri and her Mountain Banshee (Young Tarzan on a Stork), the Prolemuris (Terk the Gorilla) and the Thanator (Sabor the Leopard). The others were much trickier. The Direhorse (Kala the Gorilla with baby Tarzan on a boat), the Great Leonopteryx (Tantor the Elephant), Jake's Mountain Banshee (Kerchak the Gorilla) and the Hammerhead Titanothere (Jane) proved to be challenging.

For more fun, check out the original Disney's Animal Kingdom McDonald's Happy Meal.

UPDATE 10/13/2013:  AVATAR at Disney's Animal Kingdom is expected to open in 2017.