Happy Meals and pinball: Playing with Plastic Man!

Here’s something I haven’t said since I was nine years old — I can’t wait to get a Happy Meal.

Believe it or not, it’s not because I’ve got a hankering for a handful of chicken nuggets or an aching need for strangely warm pickle slices. Just like when I was a kid, what I really want is the toy inside that box.

Specifically, I want the new Plastic Man figure being released today (Sept. 20th) at McDonald’s.

OK, OK, there are other figures and masks being released to promote the new Cartoon Network show, Justice League Action, as well as a set of “girls” toys with characters from DC Super Hero Girls. (Just a quick aside — seriously, McDonald’s? We’re still doing the “boys” toys and “girls” toys. C’mon.) So, in addition to Plas, the toys include:

  • Superman, Batman, Hawkman, Green Arrow, Wonder Woman, Bumblebee, Katana, Batgirl, and Supergirl figures;
  • Batman, Batgirl, Hawkman, and Green Arrow masks;
  • a Supergirl headband;
  • and a Wonder Woman tiara.

That’s a lot of cheeseburgers to choke down. Luckily, that Plastic Man fig obviously rocks your face off, so let’s ask questions!

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Do Plas’ arms bend or stretch? Or do they just swivel back and forth?

Does the neck pop up? Judging by the way the neck sits on the torso, it sure looks like it does. That would be fantastic.

Will Plas be one of the first heroes to be featured when Justice League Action premieres in October? That would also be fantastic.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was some sort of online game to go along with this figure?

That last one is easy, because there is — specifically, a McPlay pinball game designed by none other than friend of the blog, Luke Daab! Daab designed pinball games for all of the JLAction and DC Super Hero Girls characters, but Plastic Man really seems like a natural fit.

Just look at this guy.

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I’m looking forward to seeing what Daab and his creative co-workers have come up with; as senior art director at Creata, Daab was the sole visual designer of the game, working with programmers and the company’s internal digital team to develop the gameplay. And, he says, there is plenty of gameplay.

“You win the game by defeating Mr. Mind, which is done one of two ways,” Daab says. “The first is by slowly eliminating the lights in his health meter. This is done by hitting the silver button with the ball. The second is if you’re lucky enough to hit the ball through the small INSTANT WIN tunnel! But you have to beware. What you can do to Mr. Mind, he can do to you!”

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Of course, this is a Plastic Man-themed game, so things are a little less rigid. As a character, Plas always seems to be on the move, and his pinball game is no different.

“All of the bumpers in this game move around the board. Unlike regular pinball, the gameplay is much more random. Among the moving bumpers is a giant red ball which may or may not be Plastic Man himself. I left it ambiguous in order to stay consistent with the other games,” Daab says.

He also had some tips for would-be gamers. “By hitting the red ball in conjunction with the other two bumpers, you trigger a FREE SAVE in which Plastic Man’s hand stretches into frame and saves your ball! You can also activate defended game play. During this, Plastic Man’s arms stretch across the bottom corners of the board. For five seconds, you literally can’t lose!”

Take a look:

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I’m not going to lie — I laughed out loud with delight (delight!) when I saw those arms stretching and bending across the field. Daab understands that what makes the classic superheroes, especially DC’s superheroes, appealing is a sense of fun. That really comes through with this game design.

If this whole Happy Meal campaign — from the figures to the online games — is meant to get people ramped up for the shows coming in October, well … mission accomplished.

So, how many nuggets come in a Happy Meal nowadays, anyway?

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Alleycats, Graham Crackers, and Plastic Man in the Windy City

As you may or may not know, my wife and I recently moved a few states over from Austin, Texas, to Chicago, Illinois. Getting everything ready for the move took up a lot of time (which is why the blog has suffered lately), but we’ve been here for a couple of weeks now and I didn’t waste any time hitting some of the local comic shops!

There seem to be a ton of shops in Chicago, and I’m lucky enough to live within a mile or so of two of them. Even luckier, I went to Alleycat Comics and found these:

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It might be hard to tell from the photo, but that’s Plastic Man #2 and #3 (vol. 2), featuring the work of writer Arnold Drake, artist J. Winslow Mortimer, and complete with Go-Go Checks! The issues are a little beat up, but Alleycat was letting them go for a fair price and the staff was super friendly, so I left feeling like I’d gotten more than a good deal — I had a good experience. (And a couple of Plastic Man comics to add to the collection!)

Oh, and if you think Alleycat is just a clever name, guess again:

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IT’S ACTUALLY AT THE END OF AN ALLEY. (No cats, though.)

I also managed to swing by Graham Crackers Comics-Edgewater, where they had a display for the Funko DC Super Powers keychains. I was excited when these were first announced, and then completely forgot about them. So I didn’t know they were being sold as blinds — basically, you buy a package without having any idea what’s in it, and hope you get the one you want.

This was especially painful because, hanging right there as part of the store display, was the one I wanted — a nice, fat-headed Plastic Man. Trying to decide whether or not I was willing to roll the dice, I mentioned my dilemma to the guy behind the counter. (I don’t remember his name. I’m a jerk.) And he said, “Hey, no problem — I can just sell you that one.”

Cue the angels singing:

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Welcome home, little guy. Welcome home.