May 31, 2011

The Spy Star of the Summer: Finn McMissile

Michael Caine may have starred in more spy movies than just about anyone over the years. His latest spy role is his biggest in decades—and one with a bit of a twist.  As previously discussed, in Pixar's Cars 2, he plays a spy car.  The conceit of Cars and its sequel is that anthropomorphic cars are the characters. I still haven't seen the original, but I don't believe there are people in this world.  So when thinking of possible new characters for a sequel that might sell lots and lots of toys, the notion of spy cars must have been an obvious one! Caine plays Finn McMissile of British Intelligence. Though the design probably owes as much to Sixties BMWs as the Aston Martin DB5, James Bond's famous car is clearly the inspiration for the character.  As seen in the second trailer, Finn has lots of tricks up his sleeve—everything you'd expect of a good gadget car. (Plus, his Beemer-like grill makes a great mustache!) Obviously, those gadgets feature prominently in the new Cars toy line. Disney has made a mint in merchandising off of the Cars brand, and the cynic in me suspects that the whole reason for a sequel was to sell more toys. But really, what better reason than to sell spy car toys? I would have absolutely loved this movie if it had come out during my childhood—and the toys.

I'm guessing that, like me, just about everyone reading this blog grew up with one version or another of the Corgi James Bond Aston Martin. (My own model from the late 80s or early 90s was probably the most boring; it wasn't gold like the original and it didn't have the tire slashers like the slightly later version or the newest one, and the Bond figure and the guy who got ejected were both just hunks of brown plastic, not painted... but I absolutely loved it nonetheless! Still do, in fact.) Since the current Bond movies aren't really targeted at kids and the Aston Martin in the last one didn't feature any gadgets, it's only right that Disney provide this generation with a cool spy gadget car toy. But they're not offering just one. Instead, there are many, many iterations of mini Finn McMissiles to be had, in different scales and with different functions. The Secret Spy Attack Finn McMissile is a very traditional spy gadget car, sort of like the AC Gilbert Goldfinger Aston, but with a big plus: not only do missile launchers pop out when you push the buttons, but it talks in Michael Caine's voice!

This one is crazy. They call it the Zero Gravity Finn McMissile, and it's a remote control car that drives not only on the floor... but on the walls! That's just what every parent ever has wished for, right? A remote control car that their kids can drive on the walls. And it seems to make a horrible noise, too... even better for aggravating mom! You've gotta check it out:

Then there are some smaller ones, like the "Submariner" version (clearly influenced by another Corgi classic, the Lotus Esprit from The Spy Who Loved Me) and the "Lights and Sound" version, which is pretty self-explanatory. I just love that spy cars will be the must-have toy again, right up through Christmas! But maybe coolest of all is this life-size remote control version. No, that one's not for sale, unfortunately. But it's doing a promotional tour of the country, so it's possible you might be able to see it in person. (Though you might feel kind of weird about that if you don't have kids.) Check out the pictures on the Disney fansite Stitch Kingdom. Looking at ones like this one, from the rear, you get a much better sense of the design than you do from the trailers. I love how they just added fins to a very recognizable DB5 back end, right down to the Bond-inspired license plate!

There's also a YouTube video here of the life-size touring cars, including Finn.

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