The Green Lantern Hits Our House!

There are definitely some perks to being a daddy blogger with a following, thanks to y’all! What am I talking about? Free stuff. Yup, companies love to get ahold of us daddy bloggers (though some definitely seem to think that the world starts and ends with moms and mommy bloggers. apparently they haven’t gotten the memo that there are a lot of single dads out here that make substantial purchase decisions, even in the supermarket, but that’s the subject of a different blog entry, not an overly long parenthetical comment!)

Anyway, I recently joined the ranks of Dad Central and their first campaign is right at the intersection of toys and films. How perfect is that? (tip: I also write a film blog and am the film critic for a variety of publications, online and off)

The toy? Mattel’s releasing a line of Green Lantern-themed toys tied into the upcoming summer action film of the same name. Don’t be confused, btw, with the similarly named but awful Green Hornet. The Green Lantern is supposed to be a more serious film and I’m looking forward to it. I hate when they take solid comic book material and turn it into a “comedy”.

The results are typically idiotic or worse.

Yeah, well, anyway, a big box showed up from Mattel that contained both a little Green Lantern action figure (who looks like Ryan Reynolds) and a far more cool “Colossal Canon” that shoots little 2″ plastic disks…

So are they fun? Well, my son just turned 11 a few months ago and is very focused on three things right now: basketball, lacrosse and airsoft guns. This means that while he thought they were cool, they didn’t capture his attention for very long at all. Then again, we have an entire armory of Nerf guns, rifles and similar that has also started to collect dust. “Real” guns are just more fun and I have to say that the airsoft replicas of AK-47s and Kalishnikovs are pretty cool, albeit a bit intimidating.

The action figure is definitely out. In fact, my 7yo daughter is no longer interested in plastic dolls either. She’s moved to more realistic babies as her dolly of choice and even when we have something like a Barbie doll, she just pushes it aside to get clothes for her bigger, softer doll. If I had a 7yo boy? Maybe, but I’d say that the action doll itself is probably best aimed at a 4-6yo who is already into that kind of doll (uh, “action figure”).

Here’s how it looks:

green lantern action figure
Kinda fun, with the long, extended fist, though kind of like The Hulk, isn’t it?

The Colossal Canon is more interesting because it shoots stuff.

Yeah, I’m a guy. 🙂

It’s a big plastic contraption that you put your fist into and then control by simply pointing your hand at your target. Think the web launcher that Spiderman used, or, better, the cool gizmo that Daniel Craig uses in the sweet Cowboys versus Aliens trailer that’s been all over the net.

green lantern collosal cannon
My fundamental gripe with all of these toys, though, is the materials: does it all have to be this cheap, mass-produced plastic junk that is perfectly aimed at the Walmart crowd rather than a toy that’s going to last more than a few weeks and isn’t so clearly destined for the junk heap after it inevitably breaks during play?

Yeah, they send me free stuff and I complain. Maybe this’ll mark the end of my relationship with Dad Central and Mattel, but I’d rather be honest and straightforward here than keep stuff appearing on our doorstep. I mean, the Colossal Canon is pretty fun and works very well, it’d be a great toy for a startup office (imagine “Lantern Wars!” and everyone grabs one and starts shooting) but for younger kids, toys need to be built to handle abuse, being thrown around, kicked, and generally trashed, and my experience with this category of plastic toy is that they just can’t handle day-to-day action play.

The worst was when Radio Shack sent us a review radio controlled helicopter. An $80 top-of-the-line product, it was irreparably broken within 30 minutes. I offered to send back the pieces but it was a real bummer for my boy as he really enjoyed flying it around in our house. 🙂

If you’re into this sort of toy for your children, then the storyline of the Green Lantern is pretty decent and it’s a good modern hero myth that will doubtless inflame the imagination of comic-loving children. These can be fun, but at 11 my son was just too old for either of them, and be prepared if you do get the Colossal Canon, it’s pretty darn big.

There. Fair enough? As with any review, you are going to have to draw your own conclusions. I’m just presenting my perspective on things here…

And, finally, a disclaimer: I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Dad Central Consulting on behalf of Mattel and received Green Lantern toys to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

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