Toon Adjacent: Beastly Kingdom

Have you ever actually looked at the logo for Disney’s Animal Kingdom, man?

disney-animal-kingdom-logo

Wild!

You’ve probably noticed that one of the animal silhouettes is a dragon.

Animal Kingdom Dragon

But why is that when there aren’t any dragons in Animal Kingdom? Well, at one time there actually were going to be dragons. Thus the subject of today’s Toon Adjacent, Beastly Kingdom, the Disney World attraction that never was.

Beastly Kingdom

“The rides are OVER! It’s about to get real…real ZOOLOGICAL up in this mug!”

Beastly Kingdom was a section that was to be built in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Animal Kingdom’s original dedication plaque read like this:

DAK-15-Year-Map-1998-Dedication-Plaque

The Animal Kingdom park was initially supposed to “pay tribute to  all the animals that ever were, and those that never were…” in other words, it focuses on three types of animals:

Today’s existing animals…

Animal Jam Animals

 

…Extinct animals…

dinosaur-clipart-baby-dinosaur-dinosaur-digital-clipart-volcano-background-digital-clipart-commercial-use-amb-1203-58c88a281

“Don’t say the ‘E’ word!”

…And animals that don’t exist.

Fleur de Lis

“I don’t exist, eh? Then I’m guessing I’m not here to glare angrily at you!”

The latter has not been featured in the park (with the exception of Expedition Everest), but plans for a section of their own were made during the creation of the park. The area was to feature such animals as dragons, unicorns and sea monsters.

Beastly Kingdom 3

Beastly Kingdom 2

The section was to feature realms surrounding “good” and “evil” creatures. (I personally find the ‘good and evil’ tropes to be kind of cliched and boring, but whatever.) The good realm would have been home to an attraction called Quest of the Unicorn, which would have been a mythological maze leading to the grotto where the unicorn lived.

Quest_unicorn_parr

The Unicorn would have been spotted hanging out at, surprise, surprise! Unicorn Lagoon.

The good realm would also have featured Fantasia Gardens, an attraction based on the movie Fantasia, that would have been a musical boat ride that takes you the animal scenes of the movie. The idea, similar to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, would have featured hippos and crocodiles from “Dance of the Hours” along with pegasi, fauns, and centaurs from “Pastoral”.

fantasiagardens1-2

Fantasia Pegasi

Whimsy. We’re full of it.

Beastly Kingdom Dragon

On the evil side would be feature an attraction called Dragon’s Tower ruled by a greedy fire-breathing dragon that housed a treasure in the tower’s chamber.

Dulcy

“Gah, this stereotype again? We dragons aren’t menaces, OK? I only leveled a village once! I sneezed really hard and then I stubbed my toe!”

The attraction would also involve a group of bats threatening to take the dragon’s throne and riches. The bats would enlist the guests help and take them on a wild roller coaster to do so. The climax, similar to other Disney rides, would involve an encounter with the dragon himself, resulting in a near-charred train of guests.

burnt-man-with-match-over-white-background-99234752

“S-S-S-S-Smokin!”

The section never came to fruition mostly due to budget cuts.

Nerdy-Accountant

“You know how much, glitter, rainbows, thrones, grottoes and dungeons cost?!”

It was soon replaced by Camp Minnie-Mickey, a section mostly filled with character meet-and-greet areas.

Mickey Mouse

“Ya shake a few hands, do the laugh, get your picture taken with the drooling  little thumb-suckers, whatever. I should charge for my photo ops, but it’s good PR, and it keeps the rabble in line. What, are the cameras rolling? I mean, uh…OH, BOY! I sure do love those tourists!”

Remnants of the never-made land can still be found in the park. Though, as with Hidden Mickeys, you have to look close. For example, there is a section in the parking lot labeled “Unicorn”.

Unicorn Crossing

As previously stated, the Animal Kingdom logo also features a silhouette of a dragon. Inside the park, a dragon-shaped stone fountain can be found in Camp Minnie-Mickey.

Dragon_Statue_entrance

A detailed dragon head statue is found atop one of the ticket booths at the park’s entrance. By far, the biggest examples of Remnants would be a cave in Camp Minnie-Mickey that exhorts blasts of fire. Guests are often told that a fire-breathing dragon lives there. Outside the cave, suits of armor are displayed.

Dulcy

“Unfair portrayal by the media strikes again!”

Also, the Happy Meal toys which came out at the time of Animal Kingdom’s launch featured a dragon, a reference to the never made Beastly Kingdom.

disney-animal-kingdom-dragon-toy-wings-down

Dulcy

“Hey, he’s kinda cute! I’m suddenly digging the color purple!”

Spyro

“Yup, I like purple too!”

The section that would’ve been Beastly Kingdom was later designated for the upcoming Pandora: The World of Avatar.

So let me get this straight: we could’ve gotten a cool fantasy land full of unicorns, dragons and stuff, but we can’t have that ’cause it’s not in the budget…yet it IS in the budget to throw away millions on an entire land based on a movie which no one’s talked about for years?

james-cameron-avatar-2-3-4-5-release-dates

-Yeah, that makes perfect sense.

Nerdy-Accountant

“Well, we don’t own the Smurfs, so….”

Nerdvana: The Animal Factor

We’re familiar with Marvel’s Super Hero Squad Show, correct?

Super Hero Squad

The titular Squad on that show was comprised of superheroes who each possessed a specific factor to make an ideal team. They were:

  • Strength Factor
  • Speed Factor
  • Energy Factor
  • Elemental Factor
  • Animal Factor
  • Technology Factor

As you’ve undoubtedly noticed from my recent entries, I’ve been on kind of an animal kick lately, and that beastly train is still a-chuggin’ along. Today’s Nerdvana spotlights one of my favorite factors, The Animal Factor.

Animal Jam Animals

We’re totally gettin’ zoological up in here!

 

As its’ name implies (in case you haven’t figured it out by now), Animal Factor heroes employ the abilities, strengths and characteristics of animals and bestial ferocity into their power sets.

Beast Evolution

It’s time to get WILD!

Since I have nothing better to do, I’ve classified Animal Factor heroes into 3 distinct types: Ferals (animal/human hybrids who possess physical and mental characteristics of various creatures), Animorphs (beings able to shapeshift and/or assume the abilities of animals at will) and Power Animals (animals with super powers). Today I’ll be listing some of my favorite Animal Factor heroes. As with many of our lists, these won’t be in any particular order, so I won’t be numbering them. That said, on with the time-wasting fun.

FERALS

The Beast (X-Men)

Beast Scholar

I’ve already gushed about Hank McCoy in an earlier article, so I’ll keep it brief: the Beast is one of my favorite X-Men. He’s an erudite genius in the body of a big blue gorilla. Despite his appearance, he doesn’t speak in “Unga-Munga” dialogue, nor does he wallow in self-pity and angst over his mutation; he takes it all in stride with a big brain, a literary quote for any occasion and a good, cheery sense of humor. More recently, Marvel gave Hank a secondary mutation, making him more cat-like…

Beast Secondary Mutation

…And while I’m not completely against this idea, I don’t consider it all that necessary either. Beast was fine the way he was.

Human Beast Now

Sometimes I wish Marvel hadn’t opted to make Beast blue and furry at all; I actually liked OG Beast, but again, you already know that.

Shalimar Fox (Mutant X)

Shalimar 1

I know Mutant X was just a poor man’s X-Men clone, and the show was rated LB (for Low Budget), but I did like some things about it, one of the main ones being the Feral class and its’ representative, Feline Feral Shalimar Fox. Yeah, the fact that the Ferals didn’t look any different was mainly because the show didn’t have the coin for fancy makeup and costumes, but I liked the idea of possessing the animalistic ferocity while keeping your matinee idol looks. Shalimar was my favorite character on the show: sleek, agile, acrobatic, limber, prone to fits of savagery but with a soft vulnerable side, plus she lived up her last name.

Jimi Hendrix

“Foxy Lady!”

Cheetah (DC Super Hero Girls)

Cheetah 2

I’ll be honest, I never really cared or thought much about Cheetah before, but I like the DC Super Hero Girls version, though not at first. Initially, I thought Cheetah was just a one-dimensional bee-yotch who screwed with the others (most notably Wonder Woman) while never suffering any consequences, but in later shorts and in the hour-long TV special we get to see that there’s more to her than that, she actually possesses some humanity underneath her obnoxiousness and can even be friendly on occasion. Plus, I really like her design and costume here; I prefer Cheetah a cat/human hybrid that some rich snoot in kitty pajamas.

Cheetah 3

She’s fast, like a…well, like a cheetah!

Cheetah 4

She’s lazy, but show me a cat who isn’t lazy.

Cheetah 5

Just don’t step on her tail. Ever.

ANIMORPHS

Jayna (The Wonder Twins)

Jayna_Super_Friends_001

I like the Wonder Twins. Deal with it, nerds. Jayna can transform into any animal, whether real, mythological, indigenous to Earth or to some other planet. Since she must vocalize her choice of form to assume, she must know the common name. Naming the wrong animal will cause her to assume the wrong animal’s form. She has been known to take the form of anything from an ant to a whale.

In the Super Friends comic book, Jayna’s powers were shown to be more extensive. By transforming into an animal of Kryptonian origin, for instance, Jayna could gain both the creature’s natural abilities and the super-powers that all Kryptonians possess under Earth-like conditions; she was even capable of overpowering Superman in the form of a Kryptonian animal. She could also morph into creatures like griffins or werewolves.

jayna_picture_1

Plus she and her twin brother Zan enjoyed snacking on Wonder Girl’s CDs. Give ’em a break, they’re aliens. Spacey, real spacey!

Beast Boy (DC Super Hero Girls version)

Beast Boy

Another character I was usually just “eh” about, though the DC Super Hero Girls take on him is one of my favorites. His costume here is cool, he’s not as exaggeratedly skinny here and here he manages to be the funny guy without being portrayed as a brain-dead moron.

Honorable mention goes to the Young Justice version, where the character was voiced by Logan Grove, the original voice of Gumball Watterson.

Beast Boy Young Justice

I was OK with Gumball Beast Boy, I just didn’t like the show’s take on the origin of his powers. I didn’t mind the connection to Miss Martian, but I did mind the explanation that his receiving a blood transfusion for M’Gann is how he got his powers. If that were the case, he should be able to morph into more than just animals. Decent costume, though, and I actually like the half-monkey look he chose to stay in most of the time.

Vixen

Vixen

Mari McCabe can’t technically shapeshift, but she can magically assume the abilities of the animal kingdom. Vixen possesses the innate ability to make direct contact with the Earth’s morphogenetic field, which is sometimes known as the “Red”. This contact with the “Red” allows to draw upon the abilities of any animal that has ever lived on the planet. By simply focusing on a specific animal, she can draw its talent directly from the morphogenetic field and mimic its abilities, thus giving herself a variety of superhuman powers.

Vixen’s connection to the “Red” is so deep that she can use the abilities of multiple animals, once holding onto the morphogenetic traits of an entire forest. Her abilities have allowed her to channel the powers of extinct animals (such as the saber-toothed tiger and the Triceratops), domesticated animals (like the Doberman Pinscher), and even mystical beasts (like dragons). Her powers even allow her to twist some animal abilities, like when she used the bio-luminescence of a Marine hatchet fish and an Angler fish to produce light from her hand and to create a laser-like beam from her head.

Vixen wears a mystic artifact called the Tantu Totem, a fox-head shaped talisman given to her ancestors by the African trickster god Anansi. It was previously thought that the totem was the source of her powers but later stories, have shown that it merely prevents the morphogenetic field from overwhelming her mind. It was once assumed that the totem increased her range for mimicking animals as she has been seen taking on the traits of animals from across the world. However this limit has been removed since The New 52. The full capability of the totem is unknown but Vixen once used the magic of the totem to heal bruises and wounds within seconds by simply touching it. The totem is thus far absent from her uniform and she has been seen taking on the traits of animals that were not within her vicinity.

On top of all that, she’s a freakin; supermodel!

Vixen 2

BOM-CHICKA-WOW-WOW!

No offense to Bumblebee, but I still wish DC had chosen her as the African-American representative to DC Super Hero Girls.

Astria (The Young/Space Sentinels)

Astria

A relatively obscure choice, Astria was a character from The Space Sentinels (originally titled The Young Sentinels and renamed midway through its only season), a Saturday morning animated series produced by Filmation which debuted on the American NBC network on September 10, 1977 and ran for thirteen half-hour episodes. She could morph into any living animal (duh! Why else would she be on this list?), plus she was one of the few African-American superheroes on TV at the time. Nice. Plus, she managed to give the team’s resident robot mascot, MO, a case of Jungle Fever hardware, since he was hot for her.

Reptil (The Super Hero Squad Show)

Reptil Normal

Again, I’ve praised Reptil in previous entries, so I’ll to abridge my thoughts here. I first learned about Humberto Lopez, aka Reptil, via The Super Hero Squad Show and he quickly became a favorite of mine. Despite the funky tights and no shoes which make him look like he’s wearing a wet suit, Reptil’s spunky, cute in a rambunctious boyish way and possesses one of the more unique powers on record: his Sun Stone amulet allows him to transform into various dinosaur forms…

Reptil Pterodactyl

Either partially, such as sprouting pterodactyl wings…

Reptil Dino Form

Or full-on dinosaur or humanoid dino forms. Also, he manages to make red and scaly look kind of cool.

POWER ANIMALS

Krypto the Superdog

Krypto

C’mon. He’s a dog with all the powers of Superman. Do I really need to explain why he’s on the list? He can save you from an active volcano, and then fetch you the paper. He’s the ultimate pet: a cross between Superman and Jeeves.

Miss_Martian_by_chou_roninx

Plus we get adorable fan art like this!

Brainy Barker (Krypto the Superdog)

Brainy Barker

My favorite member of the Dog Stars. She’s a purple Afghan in a cape with telekinetic/telepathic powers. ‘Nuff said.

Monkey (Dexter’s Laboratory/Dial ‘M’ for Monkey)

Monkey

A super-powered lab monkey given amazing powers via weird scientific experiments by boy genius Dexter himself. Monkey can fly, manipulate energy, fire laser beams from his eyes, move objects telekinetically, change into and out of his costume with a thought and his costume is really cool looking. Not bad for a lower primate. Hmmm, maybe I should’ve put him on my roster for Build Your Own Fantastic Four.

Bolt (Disney’s Bolt)

Bolt

On his TV show, Bolt possessed such dazzling powers as super speed and a ‘sonic bark’. They were just fictional of course, but still pretty cool. Also, I like the bolt mark on his fur.

-So there you have it. Some of my favorite Animal Factor heroes.

Dynomutt

“So am I an Animal Factor or a Tech Factor? I’m not sure…

DynoMuttX9

“…But if you don’t wanna get chomped by a robot dog and avoid a Robotic Uprising, I’d advise you to make friends with both!”

 

Why Vixen is Awesome!

Vixen 4

  1. She’s among the small but eclectic number of non-white superheroes. Represent.
  2. She’s a supermodel. Hawt.
  3. She’s of native African ancestry. Foreign often translates to exotic.
  4. Catsuits, baby, catsuits.
  5. She’s one of the few female capes who’s a heroine in her own right, not just an extension of a male hero. Word, sista.
  6. Her powers are mystical in origin. It’s maaaaaagic!
  7. She can channel the powers of animals: strength of a lion, weight of an elephant, speed of a cheetah, night vision of a cat, echo-location of a dolphin, tracking ability of a wolf, etc. The skills of the entire animal kingdom without that annoying zoo smell.
  8. She once dated John Stewart–not the host of The Daily Show, although that would REALLY be awesome.
  9. She’s getting her own animated web series online. There’s your plug, DC, now pay us.