‘Big Hero 6′ is a bright and bold collaboration between Disney and Marvel

Originality, inspiration, heart, life lessons, and exciting animation, Big Hero 6 has it all as the first big screen collaboration between Marvel Studios and Disney Animation.

bighero6

Welcome to San Fransokyo, where technology and robotics have become part of the nuts and bolts of our culture. Tadashi Hamada (Daniel Henney) is a student at the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology. He invented and developed Baymax, a personal healthcare robot who is amazing not only for his thorough service, but he is inflatable. But this story is less about them, and more about Hiro (Ryan Potter), Tadashi’s 14-year old brother, who likes to dwell in the underground, back-alley bot fights, hustling for money. He uses his big brains in ways that will get him by, but never ahead. Tadashi takes Hiro under his wing and takes him to his university, to meet his classmates, to introduce him to technology icons, to channel new ways to use his mind, and help facilitate new ways to approach life.

Taking the knowledge he used to create his fighting robot, Hiro develops an invention that could revolutionize the world and shows at the university’s symposium. If successful, Hiro could achieve admission to the university as a prodigy, but his work also draws the interest of Alistair Krei (Allan Tudyk) of Krei Tech who offers to buy the technology for millions. Instead, Hiro takes the advice of Professor Robert Callaghan (James Crowell) and declines Krei’s offer and accepts enrollment at the Institute. But after a fire breaks out at the event, a big explosion kills many, including Tadashi and Callaghan.

In the wake of the tragedy, Hiro shuts himself in, does not return phone calls from Tadashi’s classmates, until he unintentionally deploys Baymax who tries to step Hiro through his depression. By following his protocol, Baymax winds up getting Hiro out of the house to discover his new purpose. It’s like therapy 101 with a big talking balloon.

If it sounds like a comic book, that’s because it is. Big Hero 6 is a dusted-off Marvel comic book that director Don Hall stumbled upon shortly after the Disney acquisition of Marvel Entertainment. Big Hero 6 was created by Steven T. Seagle and Duncan Rouleau, two members of the creative studio Man of Action who have gone on to help create several successful creator-owned comics and TV series including Ben 10, Generator Rex, Bakugan, and Ultimate Spider-Man. Some of the characters have been taken out since they’re part of the X-Men universe and would therefore infringe on Fox Studios’ right to use anything from that specific vault of characters. Baymax got a complete and huggable makeover and some new characters were created to complete the 6. The spirit and concept is still there, but there’s no denying it’s been made over into a much more cuddly package. The compromise also made it a more obscure entity and allows fresh eyes to be brought to the theater before the flood of the all-ages sensibilities come rushing towards you in 3D.

Another big plus was seeing a majority of the cast be diverse both on screen and in voice, especially in the main characters. It’s not stately obvious, but in looking back, what a breath of fresh air it was to see Hiro of mixed Asian and Caucasian descent, (Potter is also of mixed descent) and his inspiration be his brother (Henney was born to a Korean adoptee mother and American-Irish father) raised by their caring though sometimes spacey guardian, Aunt Cass (Maya Rudolph). It’s an unconventional family but is such a great representation of the modern American face. Hiro and Tadashi are two of the best Asian-American inspired characters on screen since we were introduced to Russell in Up. Hopefully this approach becomes more and more commonplace in live-action film too.

The rest of the Big Hero 6 roster doesn’t fall through the familiar pitfalls of minority characters that we’ve seen so many times. For one, they all have great scientific minds, so that already bucks the stereotypes of their compartmentalized cultures that typically define them, whether it be their native food, slang, or fashion–that alone is worth commending. GoGo (Jamie Chung), another Asian-American, has a tough exterior and is athletic. Wasabi (Damon Wayans), the team’s African-American, is an overly cautious neat-freak with an equally precise weapon, but he serves as the moral compass. Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez) plays to the girls who like to accessorize but is also a lovable and undeniable chemistry nerd. And then there’s Fred (T.J. Miller) who just unfolds his multiple layers through to the very last second of the film (yes, that’s a clue that you have to stay after the credits, because this is after all, a Marvel film, and a fine scene it is). You never feel like the team is a formula, but rather a cross-cut of personalities to help Hiro and Baymax shine.

One never goes hunting for life lessons in children’s movies, but as a parent, I can tell you that it never hurts to see them done so well like they have recently in movies. Kids are invariably going to watch these films on multiple occasions whether it’s in the theaters or once they are home releases. So it does make you feel better when you see ways to spark the interest in the science fields, trusting others for help and teamwork, pushing through life’s failures, or how to channel and cope with the anger and emotions of experiencing personal loss–it’s quite a change from waiting for Prince Charming to come along. How to Train Your Dragon 2 dealt with some similar themes, very powerfully I might add. It’s a sign that we’re in a great period of all-ages films.

Now, I’m not quite as sold on how great Frozen is being perceived to be, but I do understand why it’s popular. Wreck-It Ralph was another modern-day Disney classic that blended all of the things you want to see in an all-ages movie, while pulling in adults with nostalgia. Even though Disney’s Planes was a mess, Planes Fire and Rescue was a pleasant surprise and recovery. We’ve never been shy to show our love for Tron: Uprising at Buzzfocus, even though it never found its audience. Still, it was a risk taken, and Star Wars: Rebels looks like another winner. Now with Big Hero 6, we can see Disney slowly evolving from what they used to be, while still finding their place in the present landscape and still understanding how best to utilize all of the assets acquired throughout the years in fun and imaginative ways. These are exciting times at Disney Animation.

The result of the Marvel-Disney collaboration on Big Hero 6 translates into magic, with plenty of big super hero moments that older audiences have always been drawn to recently, and enough Disney elements to capture the minds of a five or six-year-old without the need to bring in the scarier elements that they’ll surely graduate to in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There’s no rush though, that world will be around for decades.

San Fransokyo is an awesome and opulent visual delight. It might be hard to pull yourself out of the story and appreciate the level of detail and complexity of this animated world but this is a big and beautiful world the animators have created. There are a few moments that make you stop and gape, like you’re watching a new Hayao Miyazaki world unfold before you, but it’s still very much a Disney film. It certainly strengthens the faith in the Marvel-Disney collaboration and reinforces the team concept of the film, that they can be stronger in this instance, working as a team.

BH6 has the beats of an all-ages superhero film & wonder of a world’s fair wrapped into a fat burrito ready for consumption by today’s hero-hungry world. Baymax is a character who will be–and should be–plastered all over the world. It is funny, inspiring and full of grin-inducing moments that places it immediately amongst Disney’s modern-day successes. Big Hero 6 is a franchise with some seriously long legs.

Blast Off #27: Yuri Lowenthal takes us on a ‘Ben 10′ Ride

ben 10 yuri lowenthal

The Team Focus Blast Off returns with special guest, Yuri Lowenthal (Ben 10: Omniverse).

Lowenthal has lent his voice talent to Ben 10, Sasuke Uchiha on Naruto Shippuden and Lagoon Boy on Young Justice.

In this Blast Off, we lament over the loss of Young Justice, talk about cool video games from 2013 like The Last of Us, geek out over rad cartoon merch and dive into our inner superheroes.

Yuri also gives us some insight into his career as a voice talent as well as what it takes to be a producer on his web series, Shelf Life.

Oh, and did I mention he gives us a few hints on what we can expect going into 2014 on Ben 10: Omniverse?

Listen to the Blast Off with Yuri Lowenthal below:
[podcast]http://www.buzzfocus.com/blastoff/Blast-off-27.mp3[/podcast]

Tune in regularly for more discussion by Subscribing to the Team Focus Blast Off on iTunes.

23 Photos of Bandai’s Upcoming ‘Ben 10: Omniverse’ Series

We recently got a sneak peak at the new Ben 10: Omniverse product line from Bandai and the toys look awesome. The new cartoon, scheduled for release later this year from Man of Action, features both a younger version of Ben Tennyson -at age 10 – as well as the older version currently in Ben 10: Ultimate Alien. The teenage Ben in Omniverse will be sixteen.

The style of cartoon has a more anime vibe as you will notice from the teenage figure of Ben 10, which has a sleeker, narrow-bodied design. There

The new series includes three sizes of figures, including mini size with stand. These toys are mostly non-posable toys that show Ben 10 characters and transformations in action.

The standard action-figure size ranges are about four inches tall. You will get four to six points of articulation at the knees, shoulders and elbow joints. Here is teen Ben on a skateboard.

There will also be several translucent variants of Ben as well as transformations:

The largest size follows suit with Ben 10: Ultimate Alien’s Hyperalien releases, standing at approximately eight inches high. These will be transformation and enemy aliens only (no Ben 10). Pictured below is Khyber the Huntsman, a new villain appearing in Omniverse.

Once again, Bandai is releasing role-play toys. Pictured below is Rook’s Proto Tool.

Check out the gallery of alien transformations and toys from the upcoming series. There is also a plumber base that you’ll want to see.

Click thumbnails to enlarge:

Holiday Gift Guide: Favorite Toys for Children – Thundercats, Transformers, Star Wars, Ben 10 & More

The Holiday season is here. To help you with some last minute shopping, we’ve identified seven great toy lines that will delight your children, including: Thundercats, Transformers, Stars Wars: The Clone Wars, Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, and My Little Pony.

10 Hot Gaming Gifts for Children

Thundercats
Up first we have Thundercats, adapted from the new cartoon series from Warner Bros Animation. As one of the best new animated series of 2011, this series is a fan favorite. Toys come in both 4″ and 6″ varieties.

thundercats

Kre-O Transfromers (including Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Starscream and Megatron)
Hasbro enters the building blocks arena with Kre-O Transformers. If your child liked Transformers: Dark of the Moon, then he or she will enjoy this new set of building blocks. Your children can build their favorite Autobot or Decepticon in either robot or vehicle form.

Ben 10: Ultimate Alien
Ben 10: Ultimate Alien continues to be a favorite at BuzzFocus. This year, Bandai added a few new role-play toys to its roster of Ben 10 items. The Ben 10 Tech Blaster will make you feel like you’re Kevin Levin going through Plumber Training. New Hyperalien toys come with even more points of articulation. Bandai did a great job with adding detail to these alien transformations and they’re great to check out.

My Little Pony
My Little Pony will be a hit with girls this season. The new animated series has garnered a massive audience and the toys do a great job of bringing the Pony excitement home. These toys have hair and grooming kits which will give your girls loads of playful enjoyment.

my little pony pinkie pie

Redakai
Redakai has become a new favorite at BuzzFocus. This new trading card game is sure to give your children hours of excitement as they challenge each other to stackable card battles.

Lego Star Wars: The Clone Wars
When it comes to delivering awesome building goodness, nothing compares to the tried-and-true Lego sets. Their Clone Wars line is a meditative experience as you build some of Star Wars’ greatest spacecrafts from scratch.

If Star Wars isn’t your thing, Lego also has several awesomeHarry Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean sets.

Nerf
Typically, we focus on licensed toys. However, Nerf has been a favorite since we were kids so we’re always checking out the latest in “Nerf or nothing.” This year, Nerf’s new disc blasters have drawn the attention of children ages eight and up. Each blaster shoots Nerf’s soft foam discs so that no one gets hurt, while children are out having fun. Just keep in mind that these toys require several batteries which are NOT included.

More Holiday Gift Guides:
10 Hot TV Series Picks on DVD & Blu-ray

‘Ben 10 / Generator Rex: Heroes United’ Hints at Future Crossovers

Ben 10 and Generator Rex, two of Man of Action and Cartoon Network’s favorite teen heroes, are teaming up in an inter dimensional battle for the first time.

The special hour long episode, airing on Nov 25 at 7/6c, takes place primarily in the world of Generator Rex. [Possible Spoilers] Ben Tennyson enters Rex’s world through an anomaly. If you know either characters, you know that they each have major egos. However, they will always put their egos aside to save the day or as Ben would say, when it’s “Hero time!”

Needless to say, when Ben first shows up the two egos will conflict. But when a new threat arises and Rex’s brother shows up, Ben and Rex must learn to work together to save the world.

Typically, Ben is partnered with his cousin gwen, grandfather and Kevin Levin, while Rex is partnered with Six. In this special crossover, the action is focused primarily on just Ben and Rex.

Since a lot of time is spent on developing Ben and Rex’s friendship, the story doesn’t quite compare to some of the stronger Ben 10: Ultimate Alien tales. You’ll also notice that Ben is drawn slightly older than in Ultimate Alien. Most of the episode boils down to an extended fight with only a few light moments of emotional suspense.

However, the hour long episode does hint at a future crossover, while setting up small plot devices for future Generator Rex story lines as well as Ben 10. For instance, Ben discovers a new alien transformation. Also, there is a new mystery that begins regarding Rex’s Omega Nanite. Also, watching the hour-long episode gives you the feeling that a two-hour movie would do extremely well – especially if Kevin Levin and Gwen are featured.

Be sure to check out the crossover and let us know your thoughts on it.

Toy Review – Ben 10: Hyperalien Four Arms V.2 (Bandai)

Of all Ben Tennyson’s Hyperalien transformations, Four Arms and Ultimate Swampfire are my two favorites. However, if I had to choose Four Arms would win out just because I like the way the voice actor (it was Richard McGonagle in the early series) yells “Four Arms” when Ben 10 transforms. It’s almost as exciting as hearing “Spiiiiiiider Monkkkkeyyyyy”.

Ben 10

So, when Four Arms V.2 arrived at BuzzFocus to check out and review, I nearly did a backflip.

Four Arms stands at 7-inches tall. The toy sculptors did an excellent job of showing off Four Arms chiseled features. The bright reddish, maroon colors are offset by just enough black shading to show off the shadows and features without being excessive. This piece is superbly painted and a perfect rendition of the cartoon. He has 6 points of articulation, which include movement at each of the arms (where they connect to the body) and where the legs connect to the torso.

Since there are four arms, the range of movement is limited. The arms can move between 90 to 180 degrees so you can setup several great poses with Four Arms. The two lower arms have more movement range than the upper arms, the latter of which are locked into the shoulders. Each arm is bent at the elbow so that Four Arms is constantly flexing his biceps. The hands are sealed off so you can’t put a weapon inside, but it’s ideal for pounding away at Ultimate Aggregor – if you so dare.

Four Arms is a little top heavy. He is able to stand up in most poses, though sometimes you may have to tilt the shoulder arms upwards to maintain balance.

This figure is definitely worth the $10.99 price tag and is a great addition to the Ben 10 lineup. It’s designed for ages 4 and up. However, adult collectors will definitely enjoy this one too since the artwork and design is so good.

Ben 10 – Hyperalien Four Arms Version 2
Ben 10: Hyperalien Four Arms

Manufacturer: Bandai

Rating:
9 / 10

‘Ben 10: Galactic Racing’ Hands-on Game Preview (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii)

Ben 10 Galactic Racing takes the franchise down the familiar route of Kart racing, made popular through Mario Kart. This is the first racing game for the franchise and it will surely garner the attention of series fans. It features the voices of Ben 10: Ultimate Alien series regulars, including John Di Maggio (as Rath), Yuri Lowenthal (as Ben) and Greg Cipes (as Kevin).

ben 10 galactic racing ultimate

We got a chance to preview the new title and get some hands on Omnitrix/Ultimatrix action. Ben 10 Galactic Racing introduces a slightly modified story to the Ben 10 universe. Instead of an earth adventure, Ben Tennyson is called upon to participate in a inter-Galactic race (you could probably have figured that out from the title). The race takes place every 1000 years. This story introduces a new alien character to the universe named Fasttrack, while giving old-school alien Diamondhead a video game debut.

ben 10 galactic racing ultimate

The game has 25 playable tracks. You can play as both Ben and Kevin Levin (Kevin 11). Surprisingly, and unfortunately, Ben’s cousin Gwen is nowhere to be found. It’s a little upsetting to see that the crew’s main Anodite is not there to use any of her mystical powers. There are also 13 aliens available to play with for a total of 15 characters. Familiar aliens like Spidermonkey, Rath, Big Chill, Swampfire, Cannonbolt and Galvan are all there. Yes, Galvan made his way into the game and not Gwen. Gamres will have access to a handful of ultimate transformations including Ultimate Humungousaur and Ultimate Echo Echo. Each character has 2 carts each, a heavy and a light version. There are also six extra unlockable karts. Fans will be delighted to know that they can unlock the “Rust Bucket”, Grandpa Max’s famed RV. Where’s Grandpa Max and who gave Kevin and Ben permission to drive his Rust Bucket?!

ben 10 galactic racing ultimate

Controls are easy to pick up if you’ve played a kart racer before. You can perform power slides and grab power ups. One power up allows you to toss vines out in front of you that spring up and attack karts ahead of you. It’s like tossing a turtle shell but more animated.

Each player has an offensive and defensive power bar. Performing power slides will fill up the blue defensive bar while performing stunts will fill up your offensive meter. Stunts are easily performed by flicking the right thumbstick while coasting off of an elevated ramp. Kevin’s defensive power is unique to his Osmosian ability. He can turn into metal to protect himself. I couldn’t tell if he was turning into Taedenite (the hardest gem in the Ben 10 world, which trumps diamond) or platinum. Suffice to say Kevin 11 was relatively impervious. Seeing Kevin show off his Osmosian powers made me miss Gwen’s Anodite powers even more. Really, who dropped the ball?

Ben 10 Galactic Racing should delight Plumber gaming fans. It hits the Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii on Oct 18 from D3 Publisher.

Ben 10: Ultimate Alien Role Play Toys are Plumber Hot

For Ben 10 Ultimate Alien fans, or Tennyson fans in general, word of Grandpa Max getting his own toy was big news for 2011. It was the first time Max Tennyson would get an action figure. If that wasn’t news enough. Grandpa Max also got his very own Plumber ship to ride around in and save the world.

However, aside from Ben’s robust action figure line of over 20 aliens, Bandai also has several role play toys for children to armor up and help Max Force. Most notably is this life size Ultimate Plumber toy that is 5 toys in 1.

According to Bandai, owners will be able to transform this toy into 30 different combinations. It’s kind of mind blowing. The toy is designed for ages 4 and up. That may sound like it is a small item, but even for adults it fits comfortably in your hands as if it were actually designed for Plumber’s Helpers. I was able to check out a few of the transformations, and it was able to go from the standard briefcase (pictured on the right) to the rifle with scope in under thirty seconds (if you know what you’re doing). Ben 10 is one of the few cartoons that is designed for children, but can be enjoyed by animation enthusiasts of all ages. So if you’re a collector, this will be one for the glass case.

With Ben 10’s continued success, expect this to be a hot item going into the 2011 holiday season.

Check out the gallery of other hot Ben 10 items available in 2011. Click thumbnails to enlarge.