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Chicago, IL – Out with the old; in with the new! It’s moving day for Kunoichi, LLC., the Chicago-based provider of creative, interactive, and animation/video services for toys, games, entertainment, and other industries. Kunoichi’s new address is 815 W. Weed St., Chicago IL 60622. The new office features multiple lobbies, individual company offices, conference rooms, a full kitchen, and a brainstorming / viewing room.

“After 6 years in Chicago’s north side Ravenswood area, we needed a change of scene,” says Sr. Creative & Interactive Manager Anna van Slee.

Paige Bailey, Creative Manager, enjoys some extra space in her new office.

“But the decision came down to a lot more than a swanky upgrade and sweet new digs.”

The office move is mobilized as part of Kunoichi’s Molecule initiative, pairing the firm with strong and like-minded partners providing companion offerings. Kunoichi will join Archaia, Eight Bit Studios, Zulama, LLC., and Navta Associates, Inc. in a unique building environment championing creative collusion, brainstorming, and epic nerd duels.

“We’re very excited to begin a new chapter for Kunoichi in what can only be described as an office Think Tank,” says Brian Torney, Creative and Interactive Director. “This office is a beautiful

Brian Torney, Creative Director, hard at work!

renovated environment, close to our downtown clients, and convenient for our out-of-town clients.”

All correspondence, paperwork and surprise visits should reach Kunoichi at 815 W. Weed St., Chicago IL 60622.



Kunoichi, LLC is a leading provider of creative, interactive, and broadcast services, extending brands, marketing, and advertising campaigns via transmedia. Service offerings include branding / intellectual property development via illustration and story, product development and design, online and mobile, games, websites, and applications, animation / video production, as well as packaging artwork and design. Major clients include Capcom, Cartoon Network, Codemasters, Fox Interactive, Hasbro, The Jim Henson Company, Midway Games, New Balance, Rockstar Games, Shout! Factory, The Marketing Store, THQ, Ubisoft, and Wizards of the Coast. See how we are strengthening brands by Innovating Creative at © 2010 Kunoichi, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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by Brian Torney, Creative Director

This weekend’s casting of Henry Cavill for Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan’s Superman film reboot got me thinking again. I am barely cognizant of who Henry Cavill even is, but that’s probably for the best. It’s a big cape. I can’t think of a single mainstream Hollywood star that could fit in it. After all, Superman is the original comic book superhero. The first and still the best…but the biggest topic of conversation is the same every time the character is in the news: Is Superman still viable? Does anyone care anymore? Aren’t there better heroes for today? Will we still believe a man can fly?

Fans, professionals, pedestrians and aficionados all seem to have a viewpoint. Despite still lounging among characters like Batman, Spider-Man, Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse and a select few timeless, universal fictional entities, Superman has been somehow relegated to a backseat. He’s a “boy scout” friends keep telling me. “There hasn’t been a good Superman comic since before I was born,” say others. He’s “black and white,” apparently, and his red, white, and blue motif still says “truth, justice, and the American way” a little too loud for comfort. “Outdated. Old fashioned. Irrelevant. Have you read Invincible?” Unfortunately, these comic readers, theatergoers, TV watchers, and pop culture addicts wrote off the character.

But, to this I say, “You just haven’t seen Superman lately.”

When Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created the character in 1932, no publisher would pick up the strip. The young writer and artist duo published other strips, but Superman failed to garner attention until National Periodicals (now DC Comics, a subsidiary of Warner Bros.) nabbed it in 1938. It must have seemed so naïve, so ridiculous, so forgettable to hard-nosed editors and executives digging genre after genre into early, oversaturated graves. But Superman looked very different through the eyes of children passing newsstands in search of the perfect diversion, the perfect fantasy. Action Comics #1 was that perfect fantasy. So was the famous and popular Adventures of Superman radio program, started in 1940. So were Max Fletcher’s animated Superman cartoons. Though the character wasn’t quite flying yet, these pieces of media asked their audiences to “look, up in the sky!”

In 1978, Richard Donner and Christopher Reeve asked fans to look up again. An ingenious marketing and advertising campaign told viewers “You’ll believe a man can fly.” And viewers did believe, returning Superman to the public eye and spawning an entire genre of superhero films as blockbusters. Richard Donner’s Superman: The Movie captured the imaginations of kids and adults. Superman was in his silly blue, yellow and red tights. Christopher Reeve delivered the classic lines, struck the classic pose, but he did it all with a half-grin on his face. Here, Superman had a bit more Peter Pan in him. The naïveté was there, but Superman and the audience were in on the fun. When, in Superman II, the costumed hero shouted out to the villainous Kryptonian criminal General Zod, “Care to step outside?” – he did so with a wink. And that wink, that half-grin, made moviegoers happy to go along for the ride, able to believe a man could fly.

There have been numerous fantastic Superman comics over the years, but none that captured that perfect fantasy, that wink and half-grin, like Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly’s All-Star Superman. Anyone who thinks Superman is old fashioned, or even dated, will receive a welcome reminder that even the superhero that started it all can seem fresh, new, innovative and down-right exciting. In All-Star Superman, the character is struck by the realization that he only has a short time left to live. Without thought for himself (of course, he’s Superman), the hero creates his last will and testament, a series of acts he must accomplish before waving goodbye to Planet Earth. All-Star Superman is modern, epic, and captures the innocence, wonderment, and imagination of the best classic Superman adventures of yore. And new fans, new believers, would never even know the story pulled liberally from older adventures.

But is it any wonder that casual fans lost contact with the world’s greatest superhero? After all, Richard Donner exited his Superman film franchise after only filming a portion of Superman II, later dramatically reshot by Richard Lester. Superman II underwhelmed, while still hitting enough of the key beats to make a few new fans. Superman III and Superman IV: The Quest For Peace both failed to capture new believers. A few depictions, such as Bruce Timm’s Superman: The Animated Series and Justice League, as well as Geoff John’s Action Comics and Superman: Secret Origin, defied the trend, but Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Smallville, and the comic book event The Death of Superman missed out on the magic. I’m a big fan of Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns but the movie only got it half right, forgetting the fun and exhilaration that goes alongside wonderment, and the marketing campaign was so off base no one even popped the “believe” question. With so many errant depictions of the Man of Steel, of course heroes like Iron Man, Spider-Man, Wolverine and Batman have usurped his top spot.

The perfect fantasy that Depression-era kids discovered on the newsstand racks in 1938 hasn’t gone stale. That wonderment, that disbelief, that eagerness to believe, hasn’t turned to dreary shrugs. Uncompromising good hasn’t clouded over into shades of gray. At least, I hope it hasn’t. The world around us is very different than it was in 1938. Looking out at the world, of course everyone has forgotten what it is like to fly.  But for 2011’s Recession-era kids, and the kid still hiding in all of us, I hope Zack Snyder, Christopher Nolan, Henry Cavill, and Warner Bros. gets this latest Superman reboot right. We could use a little optimism.

If the half-grin is just right, if there is just enough wink in his eye, if that fun, exhilaration, and charm is there…I think you’ll believe again.

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10.) Secret Wars Tower of Doom

Mattel’s Secret Wars line was along the first 3 inch offerings to capitalize on the plethora of heroes and villains familiar to youngsters in comic books. At the time, the Star Wars line was on its way out and Kenner chose to focus on DC Comics legendary icons in the still-beloved Superpowers product line. Mattel scooped up Marvel Comics and tied in to the tremendously popular Secret Wars limited series.

The Tower of Doom playset distinguished itself with a goofy trick hatch, a super-cool detachable throne, and a spring-loaded prison. The best part: I had this thing for most of my childhood without knowing what it was. I discovered an old commercial on YouTube and realized that Batman’s base was actual Doom’s lair! Twist!

9.) Ghostbusters Firehouse Headquarters

If only they sold a full-size version of the firehouse. This big playset had a ghost containment unit! It had goop and grates to dump it down! It even had a fire pole! With three levels for concurrent action, the firehouse took up some valuable bedroom real estate, but was well worth it!

8.) Masters of the Universe Castle Grayskull

Whoever thought of adding hinges to playsets to provide interior and exterior features is a total winner. Castle Grayskull wasn’t huge, but it sure did seem huge when Skeletor and his horde attacked!

7.) G.I. Joe Cobra Terror Drome

Did you have this thing?! Probably not, but if you grew up in the 1980s or early 90s, you certainly wanted one. Ever since Sgt. Slaughter and company snuck inside Cobra’s Terror Drome in G.I. Joe: The Movie, I had to have a Cobra Island of my own.

6.) G.I. Joe Defiant Space Shuttle

Only the truly rich kids got this one. Or the kids who were really, really, really good and made sure Santa knew about it. The Defiant Space Shuttle was massive, featuring a rolling gantry, unlocking walls, and numerous detachable elements.

5.) Star Wars AT-AT Imperial Walker

I don’t think Kenner ever offered a Star Destroyer playset and the Death Star playset was a travesty. The AT-AT was top dog for any Star Wars fan seeking a vehicle for the evil Empire. Possible legs, a cockpit, carrier hatch, electronic weaponry, and an ominous looming made this vehicle one of the absolute last to pop up at a garage sale.

4.) Batman Returns Batmissile Batmobile

Batman Returns gave the world Danny Devito’s Penguin, Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman, and the very best Batmobile toy ever to hit shelves. Kenner really outdid themselves with the Batmissile Batmobile. Hidden gun turrets shot missiles at the press of a button. The cockpit door revealed the driver’s high-tech console. And, midrace, a quick click sprung breakaway sides for slim getaways!

Thanks, grandma. This puppy is never leaving my desk.

3.) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Technodrome

I begged and begged for one. My parents just couldn’t see the tangible necessity (it was quite clear and obvious) of Shredder and Krang having a secret base to lurk in. My friend Ryan did have one, I discovered. One day, while we were playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ryan’s mom gave him a shout. Ryan ran off to see what was up. Next thing I know I’m three blocks away, absconding with my own sadly second hand Technodrome. Ryan’s mom actually drove after me but I used backyards to get back to my house. But the trouble with moms is that they tend to talk to each other. A few apologies later I was plus one friend and minus one Technodrome. It still eludes me!

2.) G.I. Joe U.S.S. Flagg

Toy collectors would call major foul on this one. For action figure enthusiasts, there is no competition. G.I. Joe offered the best playsets and the U.S.S. Flagg, while virtually unattainable, was the best of the best.

The U.S.S. Flagg was 7.5 feet long, capable of housing several planes and helicopters, and actually floated if you were brave enough to attempt to sink a product priced at $109.99. I only saw the U.S.S. Flagg once. And it’s possible I was dreaming.

1.) Star Wars Millennium Falcon

There were bigger playsets. There were playsets with more action features. There were better molds. But who wouldn’t love to have their very own Millennium Falcon? It can make the Kessel run in less than twelve par-secs! Nuff said.

Most Sought, Least Found!

Super Powers Tower of Darkness

The very coolest playset set for release in 1986 was Kenner’s Tower of Darkness, an offering from the Super Powers Collection product line. The Tower featured multiple cannon turrets, a quick-change spinner, gripping capture claws, and Darkseid’s terrifying visage. I’m not sure exactly how, but I did spot this, or more likely heard about it, and I wanted it with omega sanction-level giddiness.

Of course, the product never actually existed. Collectors have uncovered partial molds and the imagery revealed at Toy Fair in 1986 proved there was a partial prototype. But the product never hit shelves. By 1986, Super Powers was on its last legs. The third figure wave suffered poor distribution and Kenner would never produce a fourth. Still, Kenner stalled a number of potential Super Powers figures and playsets at various levels of finish before the line was cancelled. Check out this fantastic resource for the Super Powers Collection prototypes and unreleased waves:

Honorable Mention:

Star Wars Ewok Village

Voltron Castle of Lions

Swamp Thing Swamp Trap

Batman Returns Wayne Manor

Dino Riders T-Rex

Thundercats Cat’s Lair

What were your favorite vehicles and playsets as a kid?

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It’s no secret that Kunoichi finds its dominant base in the toy and games industry. Our focus is children’s entertainment. We work hard at playtime. With 2011 New York Toy Fair approaching in February, lets take a moment to look back on the best toys and games of 2010. If we were unwrapping presents or raiding the toy aisle, what would we have grabbed up?


Batmissile Batmobile, Thundercats Cat’s Lair, TMNT Turtle Blimp, G.I. Joe Tomahawk Helicopter, Millennium Falcon, and AT-AT Imperial Walker. Those are the vehicles I couldn’t live without as a kid, along with the never-produced Darkseid Tower of Darkness from Kenner’s Superpowers. Man, I really wanted that!

Just after 2010 New York Toy Fair, Kunoichi’s Josh Fritz tossed me a few images showcased on Action Figure Insider. With my classic Star Wars Imperial Walker perched defensively on my desk, my eyes went wide. “Detach tow cable!” There on my screen was Hasbro’s brand-new, gargantuan Imperial Walker. The AT-AT towered above the previous model, featuring numerous hatches, compartments, and add-ons. The molding was spot on. All I would thing was, “Tow cable detached.”

Toy retailing juggernaut Wal-Mart changed, and continues to change, the toy and game categories in a variety of ways. For a young toy lover caught between the days of “a million toys at Toys R Us” and four aisles at Wal-Mart superstores, the most obvious difference in the 1990s was that big ticket playsets and vehicles disappeared in favor of products taking up less shelf real estate. Hasbro’s Star Wars line has certainly bucked that trend.  Bring on my scale-model Death Star, already!

See you at Toy Fair!


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It’s no secret that Kunoichi finds its dominant base in the toy and games industry. Our focus is children’s entertainment. We work hard at playtime. With 2011 New York Toy Fair approaching in February, lets take a moment to look back on the best toys and games of 2010. If we were unwrapping presents or raiding the toy aisle, what would we have grabbed up?

NERF N-Strike Stampede

Since the creation of Nerf, there have been few names as despised by moms and loved by dads. At least, that’s how it was in my house. What better way to let out stress than a war of whizzing foam darts and balls? Sure, a vase or two were casualty, but violence is much more palatable when it bounces or sticks to smooth surfaces. Holidays and birthdays yielded ball poppers and Nerf bow and arrows. The N-Strike Stampede is the kind of Nerf gun my dad would have bought to ambush my brother and I.  This beast has a shield, reloadable cartridge, and dead-on aim. Moms, hide your vases.

As a side note, a few years ago Nerf started offering a tremendous array of additional weaponry outside of guns. Check your toy aisle for shields, maces, katanas, and broad swords.

See you at Toy Fair!


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2010 has been over for a while, but it’s not too late to throw in our two cents on the best movies of the year.

10. Tron Legacy

Tron is fun, bottom line. It’s not trying to be a tour de force epic; it’s not even trying to overshadow the original. It does a great job of honoring its predecessor while updating the awe-inspiring aesthetic. Plus, Jeff Bridges as a sort of digital, zen incarnation of the Big Lebowski is radical. Some of you might laugh at Tron Legacy’s inclusion on this list. But we hold by our assessment: if you went to the theater seeking escapist fun in 2010, Tron Legacy was a great bet.

9. The Fighter

This movie is wicked awesome. The pride of Lowell, Dicky Eklund is a has-been, crack addict and his half-brother Micky’s trainer. Christian Bale steals the show in this one as Dicky, bringing that larger-than-life personality to a man whose fifteen minutes are over. It’s fitting that Bale (Dicky) overshadows Wahlberg (Micky), because that’s how it was for the brothers in real life.

8. 127 hours

Danny Boyle’s latest masterpiece captured our imagination and reminded us one thing in particular about actor James Franco: There are no bad actors, only bad movies. We’re looking at you Spider-Man 3!

7. The Kids Are All Right

We admit it. Even with a plethora of amazing “small” films out in 2010, we tend to most frequently get our butts in the seat for the “big” ones. The Kids Are All Right is no big movie, but it stands out as one of the best-acted films of the year, with amazing performances by Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, and Alice in Wonderland’s Mia Wasikowska. This might have been one of our top 3 picks…if more Kunoichis had made it to the theaters this year.

6. Social Network

Even if you don’t care about Facebook, even if you don’t use Facebook, you’ll love this movie. The reason being, this isn’t a movie about Facebook. Sure, it’s about the creation of Facebook, how Mark Zuckerberg built his empire and the lawsuits that followed from his more dubious actions, but it’s not about Facebook. This movie is about the characters and the conflict between them. With a tremendous performance from the entire cast, especially Jesse Eisenberg as Zuckerberg, this is easily a contender for movie of the year.

5. Black Swan

Darren Aronofsky follows his powerhouse The Wrestler with another tragic tale of a star falling from grace, although this one in her prime. Natalie Portman turns in an epic performance worthy of an Oscar (as does Mila Kunis, although she wasn’t nominated), as the mentally unstable, overly sheltered prima ballerina Nina Sayers. The film dips in and out of sanity as quickly as its protagonist, but without ever losing the audience.

4. Toy Story 3

Sequels rarely share the luster of their predecessors. But in the case of Toy Story 3, the conclusion of the trilogy might just be the best yet by Pixar, and the best film of the year. At Kunoichi, we’re a little sick of animated films missing out on the Acadamy Awards and other accolades of live action pictures. In a year of titans clashing and Alices wondering, Toy Story 3 was the most emotionally enthralling offering to hit theater screens.

3. True Grit

True Grit is a true blue Western. No ifs, ands, or buts.  14-year old Mattie Ross sets out in search of Tom Chaney, the man who killed her pa, and the bounty hunter she hires is none other than Rooster Cogburn. This film is going to be held up against the original, but whether its better is irrelevant, this version is fantastic, no matter what your opinion of the original may be. With another classic role turned in by Jeff Bridges, and a break out performance by young Hailee Steinfeld, this movie is at the top of our list.

2. Scott Pilgrim

Shame on all of you that never went to see Scott Pilgrim in theaters! Alice in Wonderland scored over $1 Billion in worldwide box office receipts. Clash of The Titans filled enough seats (and provided enough bad 3D headaches) to warrant a sequel, but audiences failed to embrace the thrill ride of Scott Pilgrim. We blame a pretty but untargeted advertising campaign as well as, perhaps, society’s resentment that Scott Pilgrim is so much cooler than they are. What other reason could there be?

1. Inception

Chris Nolan does it again. After giving us The Dark Knight, he follows up with the biggest, most epic sci-fi action movie of the summer. This man is practically infallible (we’re already giddy about The Dark Knight Rises). Any sci-fi or fantasy worth its salt has to build a world and establish the parameters of that world, Inception does it effortlessly. Dreams upon dreams upon dreams sounds tough to follow, but it never gets confusing. Not to mention a great cast, solid performances, and one of the best fight scenes of all time. Inception was the biggest surprise and the best movie we saw in 2010.



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CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – Kunoichi, LLC., the Chicago-based innovator in branding, entertainment marketing, interactive/mobile, and video/animation services is headed to the New York Toy Fair.

From the Kunoichi team, Senior Account Leader Anna van Slee and Director, Creative and Interactive Brian Torney will be attending the annual American International Toy Fair in New York City. This annual trade show, the largest in the western hemisphere, features over 1,200 exhibitors and over 100,000 products. The Toy Fair is a great resource for buyers, exhibitors, trade professionals, journalists, and the perfect place for Kunoichi’s unique brand of entertainment marketing.

“This is Kunoichi’s first year attending New York Toy Fair more than half a decade of association,” says Torney. “We could not be more excited to join our friends and partners, clients and other industry professionals in this celebration of all that is new and great in toys, games, and children’s entertainment!”

To schedule a meeting, or just say hello, contact Brian Torney at


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Facebook’s “like” button is now officially an ad. The “like” button, in addition to posting on a friend’s news feed will also be posted as an ad unit called a “sponsored story.” If a user clicks “like” or checks-in, an advertiser (e.g. Coke, Levi’s, Anheuser-Busch, Starbucks, Amnesty International) can buy that post and use it as a sponsored story. These sponsored stories will appear on the right-hand side of the screen, will include the user’s name, and Facebook users do not have the option to opt out.

Page likes, check-ins, “page posts,” and “application plays” are the four possible buys for advertisers. Likes and check-ins are self-explanatory, and “application plays” simply refers to anytime a user uses an app through an advertisers page.  “Page posts” are when an advertiser posts something and wants to further promote that post so it buys sponsored stories to further distribute the post.

Advertisers can choose to buy all of the four options, or buy only the “like” stories. The advantage of buying only the “like” stories is that when a user posts a check-in with a message attached, the message could potentially be negative. Whole Foods wouldn’t advertise a post reading, “At Whole Foods with my girlfriend – too pricey for my taste, but she loves it.” Advertisers will have a “flag” button for “inappropriate content,” but some may opt not to take the risk.

For more information, read the complete article on Advertising Age.

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