South Park Special Edition Loot Crate

South Park has been my favorite show since I saw my first episode. I was in sixth grade and the show was just finishing season 1. I was way too young to be watching it but I had seen a few episodes before my mom realized what it was and the damage had been done. I was obsessed. I could not get enough of it and I drove everyone around me crazy impersonating the funny voices on the show...poorly. South Park was my introduction to satire and the early philosophy of the show, "Either everything is okay to make fun of or none of it is" made total sense to me and helped shape my sense of humor. I unknowingly introduced myself to binge-watching as I taped every episode and watched them the way most people watch Netflix nowadays. I suppose I'm a binge-watching hipster, I did it before it was cool.  Over the course of the next few years I had watched so much of it I could find a way to connect whatever was happening in my life to something I'd seen on the show. Have you ever been around someone with a one-track mind and they get annoying and kind of kill their subject of choice for you because they just keep bringing it back there? Throughout school I was that guy with South Park. Sorry. I'm pretty sure some former classmate to this day flips channels, sees Cartman, shakes his head and says, "Fuckin' Louie..."

Though I've learned to pump the brakes on the references, South Park is still my favorite show. So when Loot Crate announced a special edition crate I didn't think twice about the price. I had to have one. It's arrived right in time for the end of season 20! Let's take a look.

#1. Randy Marsh with Swinging Balls Pin

#1. Randy Marsh with Swinging Balls Pin

Every Loot Crate comes with a pin and this Special Edition does not disappoint. Randy is one of the best characters on the show and I'm glad he's represented. I think the only way they could have improved on it is if they had made his eyelids half shut so he looked high. That's not a problem though, I will definitely wear this. For those of you who haven't seen the episode this is referencing, in season 14 Randy finds a medical marijuana dispensary but is told he can't get a card unless he has a serious condition, like cancer. 

#2. Safe Space Caution Tape

#2. Safe Space Caution Tape

This Safe Space tape is the one item in the crate I don't see myself using or displaying. I understand wanting to include something from a recent season but I think this is a miss. I'm not going to put it up around my place. Maybe at a Halloween party? I still don't see it. I have a friend who works at a college. Maybe she can give it to one of the students and we can see if today's freshman get the reference or if they think it's an actual product. There are a lot of characters and events I would have rather seen represented: a goth kids notebook for depressing poetry, a menu from City Wok, the Terrance and Philip poster seen in the boy's bedrooms, a Casa Bonita County Jail picture frame...I could go on.

#3 is  an item I might display, a South Park coin. I think it looks cool but the detail is so small I couldn't get a decent picture of it with my camera. One side features the classic boys at the bus stop scene and the other has the season 20 logo. I like it, but I'm not a coin collector. I don't see myself heading out to a coin shop to find a display case for it. I wouldn't necessarily call it a miss. I guess I'm just not as excited about it as the rest of the crate. Here, watch a bus stop clip. It's funnier than the coin.

#4. Chef's Salty Chocolate Balls Silicone Mold

#4. Chef's Salty Chocolate Balls Silicone Mold

I laughed out loud when I realized what this was. When I opened the package the image of Chef wasn't facing up so I saw the divots of the mold first. Some of the lyrics to the song from the episode are printed on the side of the banner I saw first so once I read the first line I knew that I was holding a mold for Chef's salty chocolate balls. I will definitely use this one. I wish they would have included some kind of recipe. Oh well, I guess I'll have to try the recipe from the full version of the song!

#5. Cartman Print

#5. Cartman Print

There were two Cartman items included in the crate. I have a lot of art and prints from my favorite shows and this 8x10 is definitely something I can see framing and hanging up next to the rest of my South Park collection. It includes all of the best costumes Cartman has worn over the years. It's hard to pick a favorite, between Fatbeard, A.W.E.S.O.M-O, The Coon, and the 25 other variations featured. I'm glad it's part of the crate!

#6. Clyde Frog

#6. Clyde Frog

I've always been a fan of merchandise that's modeled after an item the character from the show would want, like Terrance and Philip dolls or Cheesy Poofs so I was surprised in the best way by this item. Cartman's favorite doll, Clyde Frog, has been brought to life exclusively for this Loot Crate. I can see Clyde frog sitting on the shelf next to a Cartman figure, for sure. This is a solid addition that was cleverly spoiled by the holiday window in Barneys New York this year. I would have never guessed Clyde Frog would be a part of the crate but I'm happy to have it.

#7. Kenny/Mysterion Hoodie

#7. Kenny/Mysterion Hoodie

I've saved my two favorite items for last. Coincidentally, they're both relevant to the upcoming video game the Fractured But Whole (say it out loud, hehehe). I'm normally not a fan of costume hoodies but this is one is pretty sweet. We have a reversible Kenny/Mysterion hoodie that fooled me at first. I saw the orange hood and assumed it was going to have some blood stains or visible broken bones like the dead Kennys of the first few seasons but I held it up and saw I was wrong. Then I tried it on and  saw the question mark on top of the inside of the hood. Nicely done, Loot Crate! I picture myself wearing the Kenny side more often than Mysterion. It's subtle. Most people will probably just assume I'm wearing a regular orange hoodie but hopefully diehard fans will notice the brown cuffs on the sleeves and the line straight down the middle. It'll be nice to have the Mysterion option though, especially if I wait until the last minute next time I'm headed to a costume party.

#8. Kidrobot Professor Chaos Figure

#8. Kidrobot Professor Chaos Figure

My other favorite item is, of course, a vinyl figure! This exclusive glow in the dark Professor Chaos is perfect. Kidrobot recently released 7" figures based on The Coon, Mysterion, and Professor Chaos that are worth a post of their own and I'm so glad a variant of one of them was included in the crate. I would have loved getting any of these figures but seeing Butters' super villain identity was the one included made an awesome crate that much better.

 The packaging Kidrobot has designed is almost as great as the figure too! The comic book art on the sides looks like it might be just as nice to display. I can't wait to collect the others and complete the set. 

I almost forgot. Loot Crate packages can be turned inside out and folded into artwork to display. This one is pretty big.  You can unfold it and use the stickers included to make your own South Park Elementary bus! Like what you see? I think Loot Crate still has some of these in stock. As a longtime fan I think this is definitely worth it. Get on down to South Park before they're gone!

Deadpool fandom in 2016

In 2009 I was watching my friend play a video game when I saw a Marvel character I had never heard of. Though I was an on again off again comic book reader I considered myself knowledgable enough, and was actually sort of bothered I had no idea who this guy was. He seemed deadly, with his katanas and all, but once he started talking he spit out lines that made me laugh out loud with their absurdity. My friend said I should look into him, he's named Deadpool.

I don't want to admit how long it took me to realize he was breaking the fourth wall

Soon after I checked out a comic shop and found some Deadpool comics written by Daniel Way. I realized very quickly my first impression of this character was spot-on, deadly but funny, and as a fan of dark comedy I couldn't get enough. Deadpool was the kind of character to say, "Knock knock" and before you could say, "Who's there?" he'd pull a gun and shoot you in the face. It was fun seeing him interact with other Marvel characters too. I loved it when he begged to join the X-Men or when he followed Spider-Man around New York and annoyed him the whole time. When the Deadpool Classic series was released the man behind the counter at the comic shop saw my interest and suggested I read the issues written by Joe Kelly. I was devouring everything I could find with this character so I of course took him up on that suggestion and with volume three I found my favorite comic. In Deadpool #11 his teleporter breaks and he, along with Blind Al, is transported into an issue of Spider-Man from the 60's. It's like Deadpool plays Mystery Science Theater with the Marvel Universe and it still makes me laugh every time I read it. 

Since then I've found it in single issue and had it signed by Kelly and Woods!

Since then I've found it in single issue and had it signed by Kelly and Woods!

That issue made me the fanatic I am today and at this point I had to ask myself, where can I get an action figure of this guy? I've always loved decorating my shelves with my favorite characters and I knew I had to put Deadpool next to his pal Spider-Man as soon as I could find one. At this point it's late 2011 and I couldn't find anything around my local comic shops. The same guy who had recommended the classic series to me also let me know that, with the exception of the occasional statue, Deadpool didn't really have much in the realm of collectables. There was the old Toy Biz figure from the 90's and there was a Marvel Legends figure too but they had been out of print for years and I wasn't sure they were worth the prices I saw on eBay. I had just missed the Deadpool/Taskmaster 2-pack as well. There was also this guy but let's not get into that right now. So I kept my eyes peeled at the next convention I went to and found a few interesting things. First, the Diamond Select figure was widely available and was just what I was looking for. At $25 it was the perfect blend of cool looking display figure and reasonable price. A new collection began. The second thing I noticed that year at Emerald City Comic Con, 2012, was the artists and fellow collectors I met were surprised, almost relieved, to meet a fellow Deadpool fan. From what I understand, at that point he was still considered a character with a small but extremely devoted fanbase. It was fun being in on the joke and I got a big kick out of quoting my favorite issues with my new friends. Shortly after con season I was browsing a discount bin when I came across this guy.

Finding Deadpool in a discount bin...those were the days!

Finding Deadpool in a discount bin...those were the days!

I thought it was a little strange Deadpool was being marketed to young kids but didn't care because I thought the figure looked funny. Sold! I didn't see much through the rest of the year in terms of toys but there was an awesome statue from Sideshow that also premiered that year. Outside of collectables 2012 was a big year for the merc with a mouth. Daniel Way finished his run on the comics, Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn were about to start their awesome Dead Presidents story and Deadpool himself announced his own video game at SDCC that summer. The next year at ECCC he was everywhere. You couldn't throw a rock without hitting someone cosplaying him. I assumed people were seeing the same things I did in the comics and his popularity was growing due to the hilariously absurd comedy, which I thought was rare in comics. I was kind of right. Something else happened in 2012 that completely went over my head because I wasn't paying attention to YouTube.

The cosplayer D-Piddy started taking off around this time and a lot of people discovered the character through his YouTube channel. The combination of the comics, video games, and viral videos launched Deadpool into convention superstardom. The moments where you'd meet someone who was surprised to meet another Deadpool fan were gone. Everyone at conventions knew who he was, and everyone loved him. No more being in on some kind of inside joke. Vendors took note and prices for action figures and statues reflected the new popularity. That same Diamond Select figure I mentioned earlier was now going for $45 and the Toy Biz and Legends figures that were out of print cost a small fortune. The Sideshow statue was $700 when I saw it on the show floor and eBay prices were even higher. As a collector, I was pissed off. I only had one year where I found some badass figures that didn't break the bank. Was it still cool to collect Deadpool? Did I want to start spending that kind of money on figures? For a second I had my doubts.

I quickly realized this was a snobbish, ugly attitude to have. It's a great thing when one of your favorite characters gains popularity for many different reasons. First of all, you shouldn't look at the bandwagon with disdain, look at them as a bunch of potential new friends. You know you have at least one thing in common. At the very least you have someone to talk to, and something to talk about, while you're in one of the many lines conventions are now known for. In regards to the bandwagon, who was I to judge? I found out about Deadpool in 2009. He was created in 1991. Remember, I discovered him in a video game. I wish I was reading his comics from the beginning but that's not the case. So who cares if you find a character outside of their original medium? Whether people find Deadpool through comics, games, YouTube videos, or movies, I'm just happy they find him. Is it cool to be a fan? I think so. Is it cool to be the biggest fan? No. Stop that. That's obnoxious.

Another reason to be happy about the popularity, the artists and writers who have been creating the dark comedies we know and love get to keep doing just that, and more of it. More comics, more cartoons, and of course, the movie (I'll get there in a second). It's deceptively easy for some people to forget a character doesn't belong to them. It's also easy to not see how much work went into developing the character we know today. I've read that during Kelly's run on the book it was almost cancelled on a monthly basis. I'm glad they gave us what we have so far and I look forward to more. 

Finally, and most relevant to this blog, we should be happy because more popularity means more merch! Since 2013 Funko released bobbleheads, plush dolls, and figurines. You were lucky if you got the taco truck from SDCC that year too. Deadpool continued to gain a lot of momentum and in 2014 when the test footage leaked and was met with an overwhelming response we fans finally got word the movie was coming!

So here we are in 2016. The movie shattered expectations. Deadpool is now arguably a household name and with the continuously rising popularity collecting has never been easier. There's so much of it. You don't even have to wait for a convention or head to a comic shop. I've seen the toys at Target, Barnes & Noble, and for a while there Hot Topic was plastered with black and red. I'm thrilled to be a Deadpool collector right now. As much as there is at the moment it might be fair to say the best is yet to come! I think the most recent figure to be released is the one from the X-Men Legends series. I want to see if I can find it in person before resorting to eBay. The results of the hunt will be saved for a future post. Wish me luck!