RIP Peter Tork

Peter Tork has passed away.

For those of you unfamiliar with Peter Tork, he was a member of the Monkees, both a rock band and a TV show about a rock band.  While I didn’t know Peter Tork personally, I have been listening to the Monkees for a very long time, and they have provided a soundtrack for my life.

I was fortunate enough to see the Monkees in concert when Micky, Davy, and Peter were touring.  I remember how, in the middle of playing their usual songs, Peter plays Bach’s “Two Part Invention in F” and everyone was blown away.  I knew that Peter was an accomplished multi-instrumentalist, but was still awed by that performance.

The best way to honor a musician is to share their music, so here’s to you Peter Tork.

The Monkees in one of their trademark romps with Peter handling the lead vocals…


A gem from their 1980s work that tells the bright side of a nasty break up…


I would never thought of mixing a banjo with a big horn sound, but they pull it off in this song performed in their concerts in later years.  I don’t think this version was ever officially released, but was included on a live CD available during their 2001 tour.

Great Songs, Bad Advice


I’ve mentioned more than a few times on this blog how much I like the Monkees.  While they have some classic love songs (I’m A Believer and Daydream Believer), some of them offer really bad relationship advice.  Here are five Monkees songs that are great to listen to but not so great to live by.


The Girl I Knew Somewhere

Written by Mike Nesmith, this song tells the story of a man who breaks up with a girl because she sort of reminds him of another girl that he can’t quite place but who may have hurt him.  With reasoning like that, she may be better off without him.


A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You

This Neil Diamond song has some good conflict resolution advice until it gets to the line: “Cause I’m a little bit wrong, and you’re a little bit right”.  I don’t see that going over well in an argument.


Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)

One guy falls in love with two girls at the same time.  Enough said.


Goin’ Down

Boy asks girl out. Girl says no. Boy gets drunk and jumps in the river. Fortunately, Boy has an epiphany in the river and everything works out okay.  Boy learns he needs to work on his unhealthy reactions to rejection.


I Wanna Be Free

This song talks about a guy who wants all the benefits of a relationship but with none of the responsibilities, because he wants to be “free”.  This is one of the most selfish “love” songs I’ve heard.

The original version is a slow song, but this faster version was featured on the TV show.

So enjoy the music, but remember, a catchy song does not sound relationship advice make.

2017 Year In Review

As the year comes to a close, here’s a quick look back at the Fighter Pod customs created in the last 12 months.  The last year featured everything from Star Wars to the Monkees to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to a British 50’s priest.  With Fighter Pods now coming back in the newly christened Micro Force line, I can’t wait to see what’s coming in 2018!


As we wait to see what 2018 brings, here’s one last new figure for this year. Rebel pilots have always been a favorite of mine, and I wanted one of the Blue Squadron pilots from Rogue One.  This character is Jaldine Gerams, aka Blue Three, who led the pilots in the battle over Scarif.


Blue Three is made from a Zam Wessel Fighter Pod with clay for the helmet and electric tape for the straps.  The hose was kindly donated by a Black Manta Heroclix figure.

Me and…Coca Cola?!?

So Coke is running the promotion where they print people’s names on their bottles again.  I know they have expanded their line to include more names, but I was surprised when I saw this bottle at the local convenience store.


“Me and Magdalena” is arguably the most praised song of the Monkees’ critically lauded 50th Anniversary album, Good Times.  Was whoever picks which names go on the bottles influenced by this song?  We’ll never know…

BTW, Rolling Stone rated it #18 out of the top 50 songs of 2016#18 out of the top 50 songs of 2016.

A Perfect Moment

So back in the DC Universe in the late nineties, the second Green Arrow, Connor Hawke, whooped a guy named the Silver Monkey.  He was part of the Brotherhood of the Monkey Fist, a group that didn’t take too kindly to this loss.  To redeem themselves, the group decided to kill every non-powered martial artist in the DC Universe, including not only Connor Hawke, but the entire Batman family.

One of my all time favorite comics, Nightwing #23, takes place during this story line.  It features versions of most of my favorite characters by my favorite artist, Scott McDaniel. In the story, our heroes split up to look for the parts of the Brotherhood who are hiding in Gotham.

Then this happens:


My favorite hero, drawn in a cool pose by my favorite artist, sings a line from my favorite band, the Monkees.  Unexpected perfection! A big thank you to one of my favorite writers, Chuck Dixon, for throwing this moment in the middle of the action.

Fighter Pods: The Monkees

Almost two years ago, I posted Fighter Pod versions of Micky Dolenz and Mike Nesmith, half of the Monkees.  It took awhile, but I finally figured out how to finish the band.


For Davy Jones, I used a Star Wars Series 3 Anakin Skywalker so he’d be shorter than the rest.  The head is from a Star Trek Sulu.  The maracas were made from clay.  The maracas were very cheap, but I make it up on the microfilm.

Peter Tork is made from a Star Trek Grasia with a Chekov head and Sulu’s right arm. I sculpted the hair.  I used clay for both their collars and electric tape for their belts.

The Monkees wore both red and blue versions of these shirts.  For variety sake, I decided to do half and half.  I also realized that I had left the signature buttons of Mike and Micky’s shirts so I added them.

And since these guys are finally all together, I thought I’d share a video about another group coming together.



In celebration of the Monkees 50th Anniversary, here’s the second part of my 10 ten songs list, exhaustively compiled by in a survey of…me.  Hope you find something you like below.

5. Goin’ Down

This song about a man who doesn’t take rejection well was written by all four Monkees and Diana Hildebrand. Originally the B-side to “Daydream Believer”, this soulful song sparked some modern day controversy after appearing in the TV show, Breaking Bad.

I dare you to listen to this song and sit still at the same time.


4. Daydream Believer

Along with I’m A Believer, this is the Monkees most famous song.  After Davy Jones’ death in 2012, the Monkees still performed this song, but with the audience taking the lead vocals.

In many ways, the lighthearted song, along with the equally lighthearted video, sum up what’s best about the Monkees.  They leave you feeling equally lighthearted, even if you are without “dollar one to spend”.



3. Pleasant Valley Sunday

I’ll be honest, this song wasn’t one of my favorites originally.  Over the years it’s grown on me with its still relevant message of “Is this all there is?” Plus I love the irony that “the local rock group down the street” could easily be their TV counterparts.  And how did four guys who are always broke afford that huge house on the beach?

I actually found the original 45 record in a local second hand store for 50 cents.


2. You Just May Be The One

It’s really hard for me to pick one favorite, because this song and the song at number one have vied for the top spot in my head for years.  This Mike Nesmith song, although originally recorded with session musicians, was re-recorded by the guys on the Headquarters album.  As seen in many other songs in this list, I love the vocal pairings of Mike and Micky, and with the addition of the jangly guitar, makes this an ideal example of a great Monkees song.


1. Door Into Summer

This deep cut from the Monkees’ fourth album, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, and Jones, Ltd, is an odd choice for number one.  But it’s got the Mike/Micky vocal mix, the jangly guitars, and an echo of the “there’s more to life” theme of “Pleasant Valley Sunday”.  And, for some reason, I always feel a little better after I hear it.


Well, that’s my top ten.  Feel free to make your own and let me know your picks! And, in case you are wondering, the little figures used in the headers are custom Fighter Pods I made of Mike and Micky. This is a toy blog, after all.



The Monkees Top 10 Songs: 10-6


This year is the 50th anniversary of the Monkees debut.  One of the reasons I think they have lasted this long is that the Monkees are just plain fun. Something about listening to their music (even the serious songs) and watching their shows makes a person (well, me at least), feel better.

This Top 10 list was compiled through an exhaustive search of…my opinions.  Seriously, if you like the Monkees, you’ve probably heard most of these songs but maybe you’ll find something new in the mix.  And if you’re new to the Monkees, take a listen and see what you think.


10. The Birth of an Accidental Hipster

Taken from the Monkees’ newest album, Good Times, released earlier this year, this song is written by Noel Gallagher (of Oasis fame) and Paul Weller.  It’s a different sound for the Monkees, but the duet between Mike Nesmith and Micky Dolenz is captivating.  BTW, this video is fan made using footage from the 60’s TV show.

I’m heading out in the sunshine, baby…


9. That Was Then, This Is Now

After rocketing to fame and then back to relative obscurity in the 60’s, the Monkees had a huge resurgence in the 80’s thanks to MTV and Nickelodeon airing their show.  Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork recorded a few new songs (including this one) to be added to a new greatest hits album. This song sounds modern and yet keep the Monkees flavor.


8. Sunny Girlfriend

This Mike Nesmith tune seems to suggest that not everything is so sunny about this girlfriend.  It is catchy and fun to sing though.


7. Someday Man

Towards the end of the original 60’s Monkeemania, this Davy Jones tune was released as a single with “Listen to the Band” as the B side.  While “Listen to the Band” actually did better on the charts, I’ve always been partial to this carefree song.

6. (I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone

In the original show, each episode featured a “romp”, which is basically a precursor to the music video.  The Monkees later became unlikely role models for the punk movement for standing up to the record corporation in order to control their own musical destiny.  The Sex Pistols even released their own version of “Steppin’ Stone”.

Check back soon for songs 1-5!

WOMPS Music: The Monkees Bring Good Times


The Monkees are celebrating their 50th anniversary with a new album, Good Times!  It features music not only written by the Monkees themselves but also by some of their favorites 60’s songwriters (Neil Diamond and Carol King, to name a few) as well as more contemporary songwriters (Andy Partridge of XTC, River Cuomo from Weezer, Noel Gallagher from Oasis, and more).

And while there’s a lot on this album of significance for Monkees fans, the most significant fact is that it’s a great album.  Whether or not you’ve ever heard of the Monkees, Neil Diamond, or River Cuomo, you can still appreciate this fun album.

The Monkees are best known for their catchy pop songs, and this album has plenty.  A good example is “You Bring The Summer”, written by XTC’s Andy Partridge, who, in his quirky style, writes a summer song that takes place in winter.

But the Monkees also have deeper tracks where they stray from the pop sound, and they do so on Good Times! as well.  Take a listen to Noel Gallagher’s and Paul Weller’s “Birth of an Accidental Hipster”.

Each Monkee puts in some amazing vocal work.  Micky Dolenz shoulders most of the pop songs, and demonstrates that age has not taken away his range.  Peter Tork, who sang lead on the least amount of Monkees songs back in the 60’s, offers some of his best vocal work to date.  Mike Nesmith offers a startlingly sparse arrangement of his song “I Know What I Know”, in which his voice seems both strong and frail at the same time.  Davy Jones is also featured on this album despite his passing in 2012, due to vocal tracks unearthed for the Neil Diamond song “Love to Love”.

The album also comes with a fun little sticker sheet  featuring items from their show.


I won’t do a song by song review here, but would urge you to listen to the album (it’s on YouTube here) and judge for yourself.


That Was Then, This Is Now

Ironically, Davy Jones, who passed away in 2012, may have predicted this album in 1969, with the song “Looking For The Good Times” from the album, The Monkees Present. Davy, your bandmates found the Good Times for you.




Fighter Pods: The Monkees?

Yes, I made half of the Monkees as Fighter Pods.  They have always been one of my favorite bands.  While they often are dismissed as fluff music or as pre-fabricated, their music and their show has stood the test of time.  And to be honest, they are just plain fun.  Since Fighter Pods are just plain fun, it seemed like a good mix.

The Monkees

Micky Dolenz and Mike Nesmith: The Monkees

I made Mike Nesmith out of a Series III Han Solo (with electric tape for the hat and tin foil for the ball on top) and Mickey Dolenz out of a Series I Luke.  I got the idea when I noticed both figures were wearing shirts with the collar folded down just like the Monkees shirts.  I haven’t figured out how to make Davy and Peter yet.

Hey Hey We're The...Guys from Star Wars?

Hey Hey We’re The…Guys from Star Wars?