Jan 29, 2015

January 2015 Loot Crate - Rewind

Disclaimer: Every month, Loot Crate provides this product in exchange for a review and promotion. The theme for January's Loot Crate is Rewind and if you're a child of the 80s, this is your jam!

January 2015 Loot Crate Book & button

They didn't go crazy with the booklet cover this month, but that's ok. The simplicity of it is really nice with a game controller, cassette tape and some non-brand name building blocks on a style of carpet I'm betting a lot of you will remember lying on while reading comics or playing video games. The features this month include articles on Nintendo and Voltron.

January 2015 Loot Crate tie, glasses, & book

There is some great geek gear this month including a mini-notebook for drawing your own comic book. The pages are broken into panels just like a comic, it's up to you t fill them in. It's also got punch-out stencils to help make comic book-y effects. Next is a pair of 8-bit sun glasses, which I really wish were clip-ons so I could wear them over my normal glasses. And there's a very Space Invader inspired skinny tie to help nerd up your wardrobe.

January 2015 Loot Crate Voltron shirt

There's also plenty of Loot Crate exclusives this month too! Check out this Voltron shirt. At the risk of losing geek cred, I'll tell you I've never watched an entire episode of Voltron. Battle of the Planets, Grandizer, Gaiking, Spaceketeers, Starblazers I watched constantly but never got into Voltron. Weird, right?

January 2015 Loot Crate 10-Doh

From Squid Kid Ink comes this 10-Doh cartridge figure. Looters got one of six possible exclusive designs, including a shiny gold chase variant. These 3" tall guys are a good combo of retro gaming and pop culture parody. Other titles include take offs on Back to the Future, Doctor Who, and Firefly.

January 2015 Loot Crate Star Wars comic

But my favorite exclusive is this Star Wars #1 variant cover! Having bought two different covers already, I wouldn't have thought I needed a third, but I'm very happy to get this one featuring one of my favorite characters! If you look closely, you can see the containers in front of Han are Loot Crates.

January 2015 Loot Crate System front

They really outdid themselves with the box interior this month. I seem to be saying that every month, but every month it's true! You have to open all the flaps and basically turn it inside out and it becomes a Loot Crate retro gaming console complete with 80s "stickers" plastered all over it. The final page of the booklet has a paper craft controller you can punch out.

January 2015 Loot Crate System back

If you want to get sweet swag like this delivered right to your door every month, head over to Loot Crate and sign up. And if you use promo code AEIOUwhy, you can save 10% on whatever subscription plan you choose!

Jan 27, 2015

Book of the Moment - Jim Henson's Labyrinth

Click to order on Amazon

I was beyond thrilled when I finally got hold of this book for Christmas. Outside of the Star Wars films, Labyrinth is probably the movie I've revisited the most times. I didn't see it in the theater so my decades long love affair with it must be due to home video in the late 80s.

Follow Dex's board Labyrinth on Pinterest.

The movie novelization has been out of print for a long time with copies fetching prices close to $100 on the secondary market. And while it's wonderful to have access to this book, the real reason fans will want it is the final 70 or so pages featuring Brian Froud's concept art and reproductions of pages from Henson's notebook.


For obsessed movie fans like me, there isn't much different in the novelization than what made it to screen. If the different scenes in the book were cut scenes on a DVD, they would probably total less than 15 minutes. The one problem/challenge I had while reading was trying to keep the music out of my head. I tried my best to read it that way to experience it in a new context: a pure fantasy story and not a musical.

At the start of the movie, I've always been very sympathetic towards Sarah, seemingly under the heel of her step-mom. In the book, she comes off as more of a spoiled brat even though the scenes play out almost identically.

There area few fleeting moments that get into Jareth's head where you see his thoughts and motivations. It's not anything earth shattering but it does give you a little something extra to keep in the back of your mind the next time you watch the film. 

Froud's artwork is fantastical and funny, as usual. I've owned the original Goblins of Labyrinth book for many, many years and know it pretty well. I was happy to see a lot of the art included here is not reprints from there.

Henson's notebook pages will take some work to read through, his handwriting is not the best. But it's well worth it to see some of the story ideas, concepts, and themes that gave birth to a movie a lot people hold dear.

If you're one of those people, you probably have the book already because no review would sway you from buying it. For what its worth, I definitely recommend it.

5 out of 5 Crystal Spheres


Jan 22, 2015

Guardians of the Galaxy Hot Wheels

If you happen to pass down the toy car aisle, you may have noticed Hot Wheels has started doing a new series of cars based on Marvel Comics characters. I like Marvel and I like Hot Wheels, but these never really grabbed my attention enough to pick any up. If they start doing non-Wolverine X-Men ones, I may to snag some.

Back before Christmas, I was surprised to see they did a couple based on my favorite Marvel movie, Guardians of the Galaxy.

Guardians Hot Wheels Rocket carded

Aside from being slightly obsessed with the movie, I thought these Marvel Hot Wheels in particular really managed to capture the characters they represent. Rocket's has a blended striping pattern that looks very Raccoon-ish.

Guardians Hot Wheels Rocket front angle

It's also got a couple of fins that look like ears and the roof has the circular cybernetic thingy that you can see on his back.

Guardians Hot Wheels Rocket front

If you look at it from the front, it just might bite you!

Guardians Hot Wheels Star-Lord carded

But if Rocket's is good, Star-Lord's is great!

Guardians Hot Wheels Star-Lord front

There's no mistaken the design of Star-Lord's face mask here.
And it gives the car an extra dose of sci-fi styling.

Guardians Hot Wheels Star-Lord back

According to the back of the card, that big ball in the back window is supposed to by the orb that holds one of the Infinity Stones.

Guardians Hot Wheels card back

This was an extra bonus I never would have noticed if I hadn't opened them. They could have just left the bottom of the card white, but they added in a Guardians design that would probably make a pretty cool desktop wallpaper.

Considering how successful the movie was, I have to think they'll be making the rest of the team too. At the very least, I'm definitely expecting a Groot.

Jan 20, 2015

Disney's Marvel's Star Wars

Whew, glad they didn't decide to put the title of the book like that!

The return of Star Wars to Marvel Comics got me thinking. For someone that wears their fandom on their sleeve as proudly as I do, I don't do a lot of blogging about Star Wars. When I started this off a few years ago, retro Star Wars Wednesday was a thing every week because if it's one thing I can go on about, it's Star Wars.

Maybe I haven't blogged about it  because it's become such a presence in the main stream of pop culture. I've been a fan since 1977, straight on through. Even during the "dark times" of the late 80s/early 90s when the only new Star Wars you could find were RPG books, I was just as into it. With about 11 months until we get a new movie, I figure it's as good a time as any to publicly dive in again.


Disney/LucasFilm deciding to ditch most of What Has Come Before to establish a new, and hopefully more solid, continuity is probably one of the best/worst ideas. Did it piss off a lot of long time fans? You betcha! But it does give them a clean slate to tell new stories that don't have to fit in with anything that happened on a page since 1977. Plus, it lets new readers come in without having to have read a small library-worth of back story.

Back in the day, Marvel's Star Wars series was our first look into the galaxy beyond the original movie. If you go back and look at it now, it is dripping in the 70s. Not only was I a kid, but we had nothing else to compare it to so I loved it! Sure, it introduced a 6' talking green space rabbit that has probably been the butt of more jokes than Jar Jar and the Ewoks combined, but I still love him as part of my childhood.

But there was some fun stuff among the weirdness too. I mean, you can't get much more bad-ass than Han Solo in an outer space shootout against a galactic pirate. Never mind the fact that the dude didn't seem to own a pair of long pants, but you know, 70s.


With all the covers that were available, I thought it wasn't going to be too difficult to pick just one. After seeing the Jaxxon (the green space rabbit) cover, I figured that was going to be the one for me. But when I got to the comic shop, I saw another one that I couldn't pass up. Somewhat ironically, Star Wars #1 is going to be the last physical comic I buy for the foreseeable future. My collection is taking up too much space so I'm going full digital.

Here's what I eneded up with...

Star Wars #1

So, let's get down to it.

The issue opens with about as perfect a cinematic experience as it could in the pages of a comic. The only thing missing is Williams' score. Although I have to admit, it was playing right along in my head. It's got everything you'd want from an outing with the original crew. And they nailed the trademark original trilogy humor which made me feel like I was reconnecting with friends I hadn't seen in a long time. They're even able to squeeze in a couple of nice little character moments.

Despite the many years of Dark Horse comics it manages to feel fresh. Maybe it's being back at Marvel, maybe it's knowing this is the first in a long line of new stories, or maybe it's being back with the old gang again. Whatever it is, I'm liking it and look forward to the next issue and the other series that are coming if they're on the same level.

If you're a fan of the original trilogy, I highly recommend checking this issue out. All you need to know is the original Star Wars and you can jump right into it.


There was a lot of hoopla with the #1 launch, which is to be expected I guess. I do think they went a bit overboard with the 30, 40... how many variant covers are there? Less than 10 would have been fine. All the crazy number of variants are doing is giving a boost to the issue sales numbers and the book is good enough it didn't need all this.

Look at that, I managed to do this without making a "the circle is now complete" joke.

Jan 15, 2015

Now Hear This - Calabrese & Figure

The terror-ific trio from Phoenix, Calabrese, is back with a new album titled Lust for Sacrilege. Check out the lyric video for the title track below.


I got my copy on Saturday. Yeah, I said copy! I still get physical CDs from certain bands, plus if you pre-ordered, you were entered to win some cool stuff from the band. I did not win any of said stuff but I got my CD!


I haven't given it more than a couple of listen throughs yet so I don't have any kind of hard hitting analysis to offer but if you've liked their previous stuff, you'll like this album!
You can check out samples and get it on Amazon.

Releasing today is a new 6 track EP from the dread master of drumstep, Figure. Now this type of music would probably not be something I'd listen to normally but it's got plenty of drops from horror movies mixed in to make a madcap Halloween dance party.


The EP features remixes of songs from Figure's Monsters of Drumstep discography. I grabbed it on iTunes this morning and I'm actually not sure I like all the tracks. Some of them have a little too much "electronic disturbance" for my taste but that's the style of the music. I'm sure I'll add this to my Halloween rotation but some of it won't make the year-round playlist. I will, however, recommend any of his previous Monsters of Drumstep albums to feast your ears on, they're a little less audio aggro.

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