Franks and Beans action figures!

Perhaps it’s because life is so fleeting – What is the point of existence?  Where do we go when we die?  Are you going to eat that? – but mankind is continually obsessed with the idea of immortality, of leaving a part of oneself behind for future generations to remember them by.  Different people go about trying to achieve this in different ways.  Some write the Great American Novel.  Some sing popular songs.  Some assassinate Archduke Ferdinand of Austria.  Larry, in his own inimitable fashion, would like nothing better than to be remembered for the ages with his very own action figure.  To this end, I can only respond in one way: welcome to those hallowed halls, my friend.

One thing that has become increasingly clear over the past years is that the world will not wait for Franks and Beans to become famous; Franks and Beans has to bring that fame to the world.  Here at Franks and Beans HQ (judge for yourself what secluded location that must be), we’re always thinking of new ways to impress our brand on the outside world, much like the cattle farmer sears his indelible mark into the resistant flesh of the herd.  One solution always springs to mind: marketing.  Neither Larry nor I really know what it means beyond the standard dictionary definition, but we both think that marketing is the key to wealth and fame the likes of which we’ve never seen, which is why we now so proudly introduce to you the official Franks and Beans series one action figures.

I can personally take no credit for these other than in my overwhelming presence in Larry’s everyday life.  No, it was Larry who created these prototypes and Larry who came up with the many inside references ALL BY HIMSELF.  I know what you’re saying – “but Jeff, some of these jokes are actually funny!”  Who knew that Larry had this in him?  Well, shame on you, distinguished reader, because I knew it all along.

First we have Larry in all his resplendent glory.  What may come as a surprise is that Larry’s muscular build is perfectly represented in molded plastic, a rarity for miniature (yet scale) figures.  We see him here wearing his trademark boots and with a casual yet confident pose, a really nice detail that fans of the show will surely pick up on.

The extra features in this set (besides the many points of articulation) are surely highlighted by the inclusion of the Action Door, complete with the Batman light switch cover that we’re so familiar with seeing in every episode.  Also featured to give Larry that true-to-life feel is a knife to help him interact with other figures and the very camera that brings Franks and Beans to life every so often.  Just think about all the things you could do in your lives if you only had two things, a camera and a knife.  I’m sure you’re as surprised as I was to find that you can actually live a fairly fulfilling life with just those two objects!

Next up we have Jeff’s figure, and once again we have to marvel at the level of detail shown in my very first molded likeness.  I’ll admit, I’ve watched a number of episodes and responded by saying “is my head really that freakishly disproportionate?” as I’m sure you, our many viewers have, too.  The answer to that question is a very solemn “yes”, which is why we’re fortunate that you’ll get a total of three Action Hats with my figure – only two of which are copyrighted!  As if my face isn’t scruffy enough in this great detailing job that also includes my favorite shirt and hand wrappings, you also get an attachable child molester-esque mustache to add to the mystique.  Larry’s iPod also accompanies this figure, which you can actually watch all of our videos on.  To create a prism-like infinity effect, pull up a picture of the figure on it and see if spacetime collapses!

No action figure set would be complete without a limited “chase” figure, and we certainly cater to the collector with our exclusive figure of “Hardcore Mark”, our favorite extra/stalker/guy who comments on every episode.  You may notice that the robe behind the extremely long-necked figure is extremely well formed – that’s because you get not only one, but TWO exclusive figures stuffed into one package, and each of the figures has just gotten a recent haircut – that’s how dedicated we are to realism and continuity.  Now they can both team up and try to kill Jeff and Larry – but watch out!  Larry’s figure has a knife.

Don’t forget to check out the other extras that come with this figure – both the Action Radio and Action Notepad will give you literally minutes of enjoyment if viewed from a safe distance.

You might be thinking, “These are great, but how will they all travel around the mythical land of Pennsylvania?”  That’s a great question, and it’s one that can only be answered by trying to absorb the incredible expensiveness that is our only series one vehicle, the Action Jeep.  As seen is such episodes as “High School” and “Mail Bag/Bloopers”, the Action Jeep has all of the real-world capabilities that regular sized Larry’s regular sized Jeep has.  Roll down your passenger side window – but only a little at a time, and never all the way down!  Play the same radio station you listened to in middle school and probably should have outgrown by now!  Park in the same spot for days, hoping to preserve its working lifespan and squeeze just a few more decades out of this devoted childhood friend!

It’s easy to see why both Larry and I are extremely excited about this new toy line, but here’s the real treat – series one lines always feature the boring, every day figures that everyone knows and expects.  It’s in further series that we’ll delve more deeply into our catalogue of characters.  Will the character known as “Larry’s Mom” finally get an action figure devoted to her wonderful talent of passing out mail?  Will we see what Larry and Jeff might look like in swimwear?  Will we have a glow-in-the-dark Hardcore Mark figure?  It’s possible – ANYTHING’S possible.

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Blog 18 – Milkshake

Originally published 9.01.08

If you’ve been watching Franks and Beans for a while, you might pick up on the fact that there are certain themes present in pretty much every episode.  Our sweet sixteenth episode, “Milkshake”, brings two of those into the forefront: music and violence.  Reading this, you might ask yourself, “But Franks and Beans, isn’t music and violence a reflection of the popular culture that is so pervasive in our society?”  To which we so present-mindedly reply, why yes, Franks and Beans is a terrific social commentary, thank you for noticing!  You might look at this and comment further, “That’s not really what I was getting at…”, but by that time, both Larry and I will have moved on to something much more pressing.  But thanks for your concern!

As a matter of fact, our newest episode does tend to follow along the lines of earlier ones – “Perfect” springs to mind.  What we’re trying to do, consciously or not, is give this show a certain feel to it that viewers can relate with.  We want you, our audience, to see something completely unrelated in your day-to-day lives and say “hey, that reminds me of Franks and Beans.”  Well, that and we do tend to have a list of things that we find funny, and we do go back to that particular well every once in a while.  If nothing else, we try to put new twists on familiar themes.  Does it work all the time?  I guess you’ll have to tell us.

The premise of this episode is fairly simple, and it came about because I had recently bought a new iPod.  The iPod in this episode is Larry’s, because he already happened to have “Milkshake Song” loaded up and ready to go, but the idea is mine.  MINE!!  Very simply, I think the song in question is funny, though unintentionally so.  Just the thought of someone’s milkshake bringing boys to their yard is amusing, and seeing it featured in the movie “Dodgeball” (one of the few Ben Stiller movies I enjoy) makes me think that others get this not-so-subtle humor, too.  Adding this to the fact that I apparently like to sing with zeal on camera, the kick to this episode was born.  All it was missing was an appearance by another Franks and Beans favorite – the threat of murder – and we were all set.

The scene takes place outside not because we were looking for a change of scenery, per se, but more because we’re dealing with very shiny cutlery items – items which would probably not do so well if they were dropped inside as they are at the end of this little skit.  It probably worked out for the best, though – even thought the table in the middle of the yard looks kind of out of place, there’s room for Larry to maneuver and find cover in the shape of a well-placed tree.

The real story behind this episode comes from the choice of music.  By this I don’t mean the choice to sing the song about a milkshake (or is the milkshake a metaphor?), because I don’t know if the episode works (if indeed it does) with anything else.  No, I’m talking about the decision to play the music over top of my singing – this really gave Larry and me as well as a few confidants fits.  The original plan was to have no music whatsoever – just as you’d hear it if indeed you were there while we were filming.  It seemed more natural, more realistic, but with Franks and Beans, that doesn’t necessarily mean it would be better.

Larry took the time to edit this episode both with and without the music overlay, and we both fretted about which version was better.  The version with the music syncs up so nicely with what I’m singing that it would have been a shame to toss it out, and I’m still impressed at how this particular duet looks as a finished product.  This is completely due to the fact that I have the song piped through my earphones, but I like to take credit for a job well done nonetheless.  I mean, it’s not like I know the song word for word by listening to it over and over incessantly until it bore its way into my head…that would be silly.  But no, if my words didn’t match what was in the song, this wouldn’t have mattered at all.  But since they did, and because I feel like I have a security blanket being draped over me when I’m accompanied by outside music, I soon changed my mind and Larry, I think, went along with my suggestion because he honestly couldn’t decide.

We did let our longtime fan and occasional extra “Hardcore Mark” get a sneak peek at this episode to consider another outside opinion in the debate, and he made an interesting suggestion – he proposed that we play the music only when you see me: that is, when we had solo shots of Larry (knife gleaming with the beautiful special effect-ing of Larry), all you’d hear would be my singing.  When I was in the shot as well, the music would be playing, denoting some sort of audience awareness.  This suggestion was not only interesting, it suggested a higher form of thinking, a level of consciousness for the episode that had never been reached before – a kind of prescience that would bring our program to new heights of understanding.  But since we don’t take ideas from fans, we immediately dropped the idea and just slapped the music over top of all of it.  Take that, viewer suggestions!

What this debate now offers us is a chance to build the extra features on our fictional (a hem) Franks and Beans mega-sensational DVD release.  I often think about what it’d be like to work on something of the sort, because that would mean that Franks and Beans would be at least somewhat successful and profitable to the extent that it need be.  Episode sixteen would allow us a great special feature – the “naked” version of the episode would be right in there with the musical one.  You could put the single-disc release in your player and rejoice because of all of the extra content you’d be getting for your hard-earned dollar.  We’d probably also throw in a bunch of commentaries (REAL commentaries) and some kind of behind-the-scenes featurette (ooh!  And animated menus!) as well, and all would be right with the world.

Oh, one can dream.

Our “next time” ending with this episode makes for an interesting tale just because of how seamless the editing job was.  While Larry has the size and weight advantage over me, I come back with two of my own – I am light on my feet (thus being able to strike quickly, without notice) and I have a lower voice range.  Because of this trait, I thought it’d be funny to have Larry burst in the doorway as he always does, but instead of his voice, we’d have mine superimposed.  I had a Godzilla-style voice over running through my head, where things wouldn’t quite match up, but in seeing the final product for the first time I was astounded by Larry’s new, deeper, operatic stylings.  It didn’t connect that this was actually by voice being overlaid!  Larry, I think you’ll agree, did a wonderful job synching things up – it was almost too good, in fact, that if people don’t watch closely they might not realize what it actually happening.  What I want to do with this show is make something that I find funny, so I suppose that as long as I get the joke it’s fine, but…still, it’s worth pointing out, I hope.