Greetings, folks! I’m in the desolate ruins of New York City, visiting the former Gawker offices for the first time (honestly, it’s hard to tell what was destroyed in the apocalypse and what is just unfinished construction). But there’s always time for mail, including why toy collectors are so bitter, whether movie Wolverine will ever put on a comics uniform, and exactly how detailed did Skynet make its Terminators?


Don’t Hate the Game

Westeros Wanderer:

Dear Mr. Postman,

My burning question concerns “Game of Thrones” and whether its popularity will be long-lasting. Will the power politics turn off the action-only nerds? Will the unsentimental violence go too far? Or would the series still be popular with a few less scenes of exposed ladies’ boobies?

Deliver us readers some wisdom from the faux-future, Mr. Fake Postman!

Yeah, Game of Thrones will stand the test of time, at least as much as other HBO TV shows like The Wire and The Sopranos. I’m not saying Game of Thrones is necessarily in the same league as those two programs, but the fact is: it’s the first mature fantasy series on TV, and it’s going to hold a special place in the pantheon of quality TV shows for that reason alone (and, you know, it’s also pretty good). If the show’s “power-politics” were going to turn people off, it would have done so already. In fact, I’d say it was the political story that has drawn a significant portion of the show’s mass audience. For instance, my mom has no fondness for fantasy or science fiction, but she’s as hooked on Game of Thrones as anybody, and it’s not because of Dany’s dragons.

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Also, I’m pretty sure the boobs were unnecessary for the show to succeed. Not that all the sex and nudity didn’t help present the show as being for adult audiences, but so did the fact the show was on HBO at 9pm. I refuse to believe more than a handful of people only gave the show a chance solely because of the boobs, mainly because we live in a time where we have constant access to an infinite amount of pictures of boobs, thanks to the internet. HBO is no longer one of the sole sources of images of boobs, as it was in my childhood. If people want to see boobs, they can do so instantly, and don’t have to watch HBO series hoping for a sex scene. This is definitely for the best.


Toying Around

Jesse M.:

Do fans sometimes forget that toy companies are million-dollar businesses that are out to turn profits, and not some humble little workshop staffed by magical Christmas elves?

I see this a lot in reference to Hasbro. Fans want Hot Toys-level detail on Marvel Legends, but they want it for less than twenty bucks; they want Masterpiece/third-party complexity in their Transformers, but they want it in a $15 Deluxe figure; they want a reissue of the U.S.S. Flagg, but if its “too expensive” they’ll wait for it to go on clearance.

I’m not defending some of Hasbro’s dumber moves (where’s my Peggy Carter/Melinda May “Evolution of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Marvel Legends 2-pack?!), but I can understand from a logistical standpoint why some toys are made the way they are—materials, assembly and paint applications affect the final cost, and sometimes things are cut from the prototype to meet price points. Meanwhile a third-party company can take a full year to design ANOTHER $600 G1 Devastator or ANOTHER G1 Megatron that turns into a gun or ANOTHER set of Dinobots and make them as badass as they want to because they have more creative freedom. And then you have fans shouting, “SEE?! The third-party guys GET IT! They know what the TRUE FANS want! Not like HASBLOW!!!”

Don’t get me wrong—I absolutely believe you should get your money’s worth when you buy a toy you want. At the same time, I remember that they *are* still TOYS. Made primarily for CHILDREN. Unless they’re from a designated “Collector” series aimed at adult fans, and in that case I’m aware I may be asked to pay a premium price for a premium product. I thought those kinds of things were understood?

If I can boil down your question to “Why are nerds constantly bitching about toys?”—and I believe I can—then there’s actually a pretty simple answer. The price of plastic has gone insane over the last 10 years. In 2005, you could buy a 6-inch Marvel Legends figure for $8; now, they’re generally $20 or more. It’s been a very steep, very quick, and very noticeable jump in price, and of course it’s galling to nerds.

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And it’s especially galling because there’s been no increase in quality to mitigate the price increase. Action figures haven’t gotten significantly better in the last decade or so, mainly because they were already pretty great in 2005. Sculpting was fantastic, the paint applications were stellar—there really wasn’t much room for improvement. So nowadays, nerds like myself are paying a lot more for toys that are no better than they used to be—and sometimes worse! That’s because in order to keep these toys from being even more expensive, companies trying to shave costs in other ways, like fewer paint applications, rougher sculpting, etc. To use the Marvel Legends for example, a 2015 Legend figure probably isn’t quite as detailed as a 2005 figure, but it’s this that allows Hasbro to sell it for $20 instead of $24.

It definitely sucks, but toy companies have as much control over it as they do over the oil industry, which is to say none at all. I would also point out that toy companies like Hasbro aren’t thrilled with this. They’re not making more profit off toys now, because the manufacturing costs are so high, and a lot fewer people are buying the toys because they’re so much more expensive. Hasbro would infinitely rather sell 10,000 Marvel Legends figures at $8 a pop as opposed to 2000 for $20.

“Indie” toy companies get away with it mainly because fans don’t have these sorts of expectations. A company can make the world greatest, most detailed, beautiful action figure and charge $3000 for it, and fans will either choose to pay it or not pay it. But they aren’t feeling ripped of because Indie Toys Ltd. doesn’t appear to have cruelly jacked up the price.

It’s all a bit silly, and I say that having bitched about this exact problem on more than a few occasions.


Snikt of Time

Robert S.:

So, what are the chances of seeing Hugh Jackman in the actual Wolverine costume in Wolverine 3 or even the next X-men movie.

Slim to none. Not that Fox couldn’t make an outfit that looks decent on-screen, but the fact is that we’ve had six movies with Wolverine, and he’s never worn anything resembling one of his comic book outfits in them. Why would Fox change that now? For the fans? Pfft, the fans will be watching the movie no matter what.

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Plus, all of Wolverine’s main costumes have masks, and I don’t see Fox or Jackman being particularly excited to suddenly obscure his face. And more importantly, after all this time, I genuinely think movie Wolverine would look weird in a mask. He’s been without it for so long it would just seem… wrong.


Man of Smell

Matthew A.:

Hey hey Mr. Postman,

My interest was piqued by your recent column on Superman pooping diamonds and it reminded me of a wondering I’ve had for a long time. What must he smell like? Superman is basically a solar battery, which means he must get pretty hot. Does he perspire, or is his natural body temperature higher than normal and it negates a need to cool?

I would think, given that he traditionally is wearing two layers of clothing, even in high summer, that even Superman must have pervasive body odor. Does he use kryptonite deodorant, do you think?

I think we have to assume that even though Superman is effectively a solar battery, he can’t get hot. If so, he would radiate heat constantly, even as Clark Kent, and Lois Lane would probably get suspicious if Clark could fry an egg on his forehead. Temperature self-regulation is almost certainly one of Superman’s many, many powers.

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That said, there are many comic panels of Superman breaking into a sweat as he exerts himself or when he’s hot, although he has to be doing something really taxing for him, like racing the Flash, or flying just above the surface of the sun. At that point, though, the sweat is being instantly blasted off him because he’s running at Mach 8 or whatever, or standing next to a heat source that’s 27 million degrees or so.

Still, there’s got to be an occasional time where he sweats without it being instantly obliterated, like, say, lifting something really heavy, like a mountain. In that case, I’m guessing he still doesn’t stink. That’s because sweat doesn’t actually stink; instead, it’s the bacteria that breaks down the sweat after it gets released to the skin. Given the fact this is Superman, I’m guessing his sweat is just as invulnerable as the rest of him, and whatever earthly bacteria that lives on him isn’t nearly powerful enough to transform Superman’s sweat into body odor.

Also, I have no idea what the comic cover has to do with Superman sweating, but once I found it I couldn’t not show it to you guys.


Alone in the Dark

Corey F.:

Hey Postman,

So a friend and I recently got into a debate about the nature of superheroes in popular media. I’ve been praising Flash and have been very excited about the more comic-booky elements coming to Arrow. My friend, on the other hand, thinks that this will ruin the “realistic” tone that Arrow has. He also made the argument, when discussing Fantastic Four, that all superheroes can be done “dark” if done well. I disagreed and said that while they can be given more human motivations and characterization, some characters just have no place being dark. Any thoughts on this?

Um, your friend knows that the last season of Arrow was about Oliver Queen getting recruited by an ancient assassin’s guild who owns a kiddie pool that resurrects dead people, right? And the season before that was basically about a Japanese version of the super-soldier serum that also made people crazy. Arrow might not have featured many superpowers, but it’s never been particularly realistic.

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As for superheroes and “darkness,” your friend seems confused. “Darkness” is a tone, and a movie’s quality is independent of that. He seems to be saying “Dark superhero movies can be good if they are done well,” which is effectively meaningless. “A superhero comedy movie can be good if it’s made well” is just as empty, and surely you wouldn’t take that as meaning all superhero movies should be comedies, right?

The fact is that while it may be technically possible to have made a dark Fantastic Four movie that wasn’t terrible, it clearly didn’t happen. I would posit Man of Steel as a “dark” Superman movie, and while it made a lot of money it doesn’t appear to be much-loved. Meanwhile, I wouldn’t term any of Marvel Studios’ movies as dark, and they have been both financially successful and well-regarded.

Look, superhero stories are a genre unto themselves that can be taken in any direction. But at the end of the day, they’re still about people with ridiculous powers who put on costumes and fight monsters and such. It’s not impossible to tell a compelling “dark” story with superheroes, but the genre doesn’t easily lend itself to “darkness.” Dark superhero stories should be the exception, not the rule.


Prometheus Unfounded

Arley:

If the engineers made an atmosphere inside their ship, because the atmosphere of the planet was toxic, how did the engineer have enough breath to make it from his crashed ship to the life craft? Perhaps they are really good at holding their breath, don’t smoke, exercise regularly and avoid trans-fats. Have I answered my own question? Also what happened to the body of the creature that killed said engineer? As to ‘other ships’ - were they also overrun by their little beasties?

There is one answer to all of these questions, and that answer is “Prometheus was not a particularly well thought-out movie.”


Come with Me If You Want to Live

Absolutely Not John Connor:

Hi Mister Postman. I have a question that is right up your alley.

So, the Terminator is a robot made for infiltration purposes, right? So it came to me the other day while rewatching T1 that the Terminator had to have a penis, or else Bill Paxton and his punk friends would have noticed that something was very wrong with that guy. So my question is - Did Skynet make the Terminator penis fully functional? Does it have sperm reserves? Taken from whom? And what size did Skynet decide to give to the Terminator? A small one for efficient ressource management, an average one, or a big one because Skynet has a huge ego?

And do more advanced models like the T1000 have the option to morph a penis too? What about a vagina? Or an anus. Do Terminators have an anus, Mr. Postman? A inquisitive mind needs to know.

The T-800s definitely have dicks. You can actually catch a very quick glimpse of it in the first Terminator movie, when nude Arnold time travels to the ‘80s and has to go looking for clothes. If you don’t see, don’t worry, because remember when the naked T-800 enters the bar in T2? For the look of awe, jealousy and outright lust the male and female patrons give Arnie, it is 100% clear that he’s packing something down there. If he were smooth like a Ken doll, he’s have elicited some very different reactions.

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We can infer from those reactions that the Terminator Penys—sorry, Penis—is substantial. Also, Skynet built the Terminators as humans in their physical peaks; there’s absolutely no reason to think that it would have decided to skimp on the genitalia.

We can’t know for sure if the T-800’s junk works, but I think it’s very reasonable to assume that he can get erect. That’s a very simple engineering job for a robot that can already walk and talk. But that’s almost certainly it, for its functionality. I can see Skynet believing there could be a circumstance where a T-800 needs to have hot, sweaty monkey sex in order to blend into the populace, but the chances of a Terminator needing to actually ejaculate material in order to keep its cover seems incredibly unlikely. Infinitesimal, actually. Because at the very least, it would be a hell of a lot easier for a Terminator to put on a condom and pretend to orgasm rather than outfit it with a special tank of organic goo on the very off-chance that it would need to fuck somebody.

The transforming T-1000s, of course, can form whatever genitalia/orifice it needs. Why wouldn’t it? It could technically put buttholes at the ends of all 10 of its fingers if it wanted to or needed to. I don’t know why it would need to, but since it’s effectively liquid metal that can take any shape, it would be even more weird if Skynet programmed them to limit them to one butthole at a time.

My job is so weird, you guys.


Do you have questions about anything scifi, fantasy, superhero, or nerd-related? Email the postman@io9.com! No question too difficult, no question too dumb! Obviously!