Jun 21, 2017

Blood Drive - First Impressions

Premiering last Wednesday, Blood Drive is the newest original SyFy series. While the channel may be best known for it's so bad they're good original movies, a lot of their series have been good enough to watch unironically.

I'm a big fan of Roger Corman's Death Race 2000 so I've been eagerly watching the countdown to Blood Drive peeling off the starting line. When I saw the first trailer, it felt like it might be a spiritual successor to Death Race. The Jason Statham reboot series was fun for what it was but it felt more like a video game movie. The direct to Netflix sequel, Death Race 2050 might become a classic in another 20 or 30 years in its own way.

I don't want to give too much away but here's a little rundown.

In a dystopian 1999, thanks to global warming oil is $2000 a barrel, food is scarce, and water is strictly regulated. The police are now contractors sold off to a corporation. For some, the promise of Blood Drive's $10 million prize money is the only shot for decent life.

 After busting up some dregs hacking a water ATM, Officer Bailey (possibly the only decent cop left) finds out about Blood Drive, a ruthless race where the cars run on human blood. He makes it his mission to put an end to the race but gets caught by the race organizers. He gets partnered with vicious vixen Grace and forced into the race thanks to linked sub-dermal implants that can be triggered remotely to explode. And if you come in last place at a checkpoint? BOOM!

On the first leg of the race, there's an abundance of swearing, partial nudity, an assortment of deviant and depraved oddballs, and plenty of blood! Not the CGI junk, good ol fashioned, splattering the actors, practical stuff.

The show promises to deliver a new favorite grindhouse staple every week like cannibals, cults, Amazons, and more. If the first episode is anything to go by, the series will be something you'd expect from a name like Midnight Grindhouse. In fact, I still can't believe SyFy is airing this and not Netflix. Watching this made me feel like a teenager watching something on cable they're not supposed to and worrying the parents might walk in at any minute. I just would not expect this on SyFy!

For some people, Blood Drive might be a guilty pleasure but I am fully in touch with my B-movie side and totally embrace it! I found it a hell of a lot of fun and can't wait to see what weirdness is down the road in the coming weeks.

One of the highest praises I give a TV show or movie is that after watching it, I want to jump into some type of game based on it. Blood Drive is right there! I want an RPG sourcebook with more info on the world and racers. I want a video game where you take part in the race. For now, I'll have to tune in to SyFy Wednesday nights.

If you hurry, you can catch up to the pack before the second episode tonight. Wouldn't want you to come in last and have your head explode! You can watch online at SyFy, YouTube (you can find the first three eps if you poke around), and Amazon Prime.

Jun 15, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol2 Trading Cards - Retail

As I mentioned in Tuesday's post about the GotG Hobby cards, companies will also make a series of "retail" trading cards. Normally, they release the same base set of cards to mass market outlets with lower chances of pulling hits but at a lower price which makes it more affordable to get the base set of cards. But not here. The cards you get at retail are completely different than the hobby cards.

Why would you make trading cards for one of the biggest summer movies and limit them to WalMart? The stores in my area are the absolute worst if you're looking for cards that are not sports or gaming related. And to put more salt in the wound, there were also promo cards released which are different still from the hobby or retail versions. Basically, there are three different sets of cards!

I don't have any of the promo cards because to get them, you had to buy a pack of underwear or t-shirts. $10-$15 for a 4 cards is not exactly cost efficient. Although individual non-insert promos are going for $3-5 each now.

The 50(!) card promo set has different inserts like blue or gold foils, die-cut cards, chrome-cut (think shiny silver), and super lucky people get a Dave Bautista or Stan Lee autograph! The promo cards have a WP before the number for Walmart Promo. These use a different layout than the hobby/retail cards, opting for a borderless look.

Promo cards (Image from Cardboard Connection)
Then we come to the regular, non-hobby, non-promo retail set. I haven't been able to find a checklist for these so I have no idea how many are in this set. The retail cards are numbered with the prefix RB for...retail box, I guess?

Retail cards
From the few packs I've managed to find, these seem to be character focused. The re-use of art (top row) almost makes me think these are aimed at a slightly younger audience. There are cards that look like they should be stickers (bottom left and right) and also blue foils that really make the images pop.

From what I've been able to gather online, the retail set also has their own hits.

Image from eBay
Honestly, I think these look better than the hobby wardrobe cards, such a cool way to do it.

The good news is, while researching the cards on eBay, it looks like the prices of a complete hobby set are coming down so I may be able to get them after all. It's just not as much fun buying it all at once as it is opening packs though.

Jun 13, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol2 Trading Cards - Hobby

The movie may have come and gone but that doesn't mean I'm done talking all things Guardians just quite yet!

I picked up some packs of trading cards when the first movie came out but never got around to getting a complete set. This time, I decided to treat myself to a hobby box. If you're not up on your trading card lingo, they will usually release retail cards (what you'd find at places like Target) and hobby cards (which if you don't have a specialty shop nearby, means mail order).

The difference is what you get in packs. Hobby packs have "premium hits" in them. You're generally guaranteed a couple of these if you buy a box. These can be things like sketch cards or autographs.

I found a decent price from an online retailer. As you might imagine, I was very excited the day my box of cards arrived. My first thought on opening it was, wow there's a lot of styrofoam packing in here. You see, in my giddiness to order the cards I didn't read the fine print. Well, it's not really fine, it's right there if you actually read. I'm used to seeing boxes of Star Wars cards which are usually 24 packs per box. This box has only 10 packs...for almost what I'd expect to pay for twice as many packs.

With the main set having 90 cards, there's no chance of even getting close to a complete set from this box of 80 cards. That was disappointing but I did get some cool stuff.

5x7 box topper & pack wrapper
Every box comes with a one of nine oversized 5x7 cards. Random boxes will have an oversized sketch instead. These are pretty cool and relatively cheap on the secondary market so I'm planning on picking up a couple more.

The 90 card base set covers the characters and movie story. Very similar to any movie trading cards you'd get when you were a kid. The cards themselves are great quality. Unfortunately, I won't be finishing the set anytime soon because I'm not buying any more boxes and there's nowhere around selling individual packs. Considering what I paid for this box of 10, I'm afraid to see what a store would charge for single packs.

And then there is what I consider the blight of the hobby...parallels.

Bronze, Blue, and Purple

I know people out there collect parallels but I have no use for them. To me, they're just taking advantage of collector OCD and using up a slot in the pack that could be a standard card to finish the set. They're called parallels because they, stay with me here, parallel the base set cards but are slightly different. In this case, they jazz up a base card with colored foil graphics. In the hobby set, there are five levels of foil parallels: Bronze (1:1.45 packs), Blue (x/199), Purple (x/99), Red (x/49), and Pink (x/10).

They didn't photograph great but the foil looks pretty good in person. I did get a few Bronze, couple Blue, and a Purple. The numbers up above mean they are limited print run. For example, the Purple I have is stamped on the back that it is 72/99, so there are only 98 other purple foils of that card. In that respect, it's kind of cool to have one of 99 in existence.

Then come the inserts. These are mini-sets of cards with a specific theme. They are: 15 card Behind the Lens, 12 card Family of Oddballs focusing on the characters, and 6 cards on the ships. These inserts are about 1:3 packs. I got a total of 8 in my 10 packs so that ain't bad!

Now we're into the really good stuff: the hits!

These were pretty thrilling to pull! They're Galactic Garb cards featuring a piece of  wardrobe used in production! I got the one on the right in the first pack I opened. It's pretty cool to get even a small piece of something that was used in the movie.

Here's a closer look at Drax's card.

There's nothing covering the fabric so you can feel the texture on it.

There's quite a variation in these cards. They can have up to four characters on one card. Some of them have an autograph on the card of the actor as well. I didn't get any of those but am pretty happy with what I did get. There is also another super-rare hit called Groot's Roots. It's a piece of real maple in card shape with an image burned into it!

There are 10 different ones and the odds are 1:65 packs, or one per 6.5 boxes! They have a range of $25-$100 on eBay. I might be tempted to pick one up at some point.

Speaking of eBay and picking stuff up, I did do a bit of online shopping to snag a few more wardrobe cards. I'd like to get one with each cast member.

I'm a little confused on the Rocket one because he's CGI. I know there is a stand in actor and I think I remember from Vol 1 behind the scenes that there is a physical Rocket stand-in as well. Maybe that's what this is from.

Tune in again Thursday when I'll be talking about the retail Guardians cards. It will be a much shorter post, I promise!

Jun 5, 2017

Mail Order Monday - Zorcom (1983)

A very special Mail Order Monday today, 3 for the price of 1!

This trio of ads from 1983-1984 deal with the Zorcom universe. What is Zorcom you ask? I have no idea other than sci-fi mail order stuff in comics for kids to blow their paper route money on and probably be thrown out by their parents.

Blast off in the Zorcom Spaceship!

For just $12.95 (plus $3 S&H) you could get your very own spaceship made of cardboard! That doesn't seem very safe. I mean, it doesn't even have a hatch on it. That kid will never make it out of atmosphere.

Okay, so it's more of a play area. And the interior has all sorts of outer space-y images that you can color. You can see some pics of the actual ship, and the inside, over here. If you look in the bottom right of the order form, you'll see you also get a free poster!

Now that answers the question of who or what Zorcom is! He is The Defender! Honestly, if these are what the posters really looked like, they don't seem very exciting. On the other hand, you'd get one free with the spaceship, or BOTH if you order the Zorcom Adventure Cassette, which is what this ad is actually for.

Zorcom looks like some kind of, I don't know...space knight? You've got to admire anyone that carries a sword and shield in a sci-fi universe where beam weapons exist. His enemy, Tanjar the Dread, looks like a space orc or maybe some type of lizard person? Why do lizard people in sci-fi always have to be the bad guys?

Anyway, on to the Zorcom Space Cruise Sound Trek!

Here's the copy from the bottom of the ad to entice you...

Join ZORCOM on a journey thorugh time and space to the Forgotten Zone. Hear the attack of the dread Hakka beasts... listen to laser control beams as ZORCOM maneuvers inside the Cavers of Invisible Doom... brace for the surge of power that rockets YOUR SPACESHIP... feel the chill of the AUDIO ADVENTURE SERIES... One step beyond the thrills of the comic book/The next frontier in fantasy adventure... watch for Vol 2.

As far as I'm able to find out, there never was a Volume 2.
From this ad, you can order the Audio Cassette, a spaceship, a t-shirt of "The Beast", or the Adventure Package for all 3 items and a free poster of Zorcom's "Fight Against Evil".

Thanks to the awesomeness of the internet, you can journey back to the 80s and experience Zorcom's adventures!

Seriously, check this out. I would bet you've never heard anything like it...
or at least I hope you haven't!

Jun 1, 2017

Monthly Movie Recap - May 2017

This is shaping up to be quite the year for movies! It seems like there's more coming to theaters this year that I actually want to see in a theater.

Let's dive into May!

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017, IMAX 3D)
Loved it! I mean, what else were you expecting from me? I was a little concerned that it seemed to lean more towards the comedic side, especially with a couple of short bits that felt like they went from comic book to cartoon. As odd as these moments felt, I still enjoyed them. I'm going to skip the Cool/Lame section because the first would be a whole post and the second, I already mentioned.

Rating: 8/10

*Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017, 4D)
I'm not a repeat movie goer. The only things I've gone back for in recent history were either Star Wars or the first Guardians flick. I knew if I liked this one I'd want to see it again, so why not 4D? It was kind of fun to "ride the movie" but I don't recommend it for a first time viewing.

A movie about a haunted VHS board game? Sign me up! If you love 80s horror, this is totally for you. It sort of felt like something Full Moon would have put out back in the day. The full on horror doesn't really get going til the final third but it's creepy enough that it's worth it.

Cool: Barbara Crampton!
Lame: Most of the movie is played straight but the gore effects are comically over the top which is a bit uneven.

Rating: 6/10

This was interesting, sort of an urban legend by way of Lovecraft with a pinch of J-horror. I didn't know much about it before going in other than seeing the Owlman pop up in my Facebook feed and absolutely loving the look of him...it? For a low budget flick, it's well done and different enough to stand out among horror movies.

Cool: The Owlman is just awesome
Lame: It's a slow, cerebral horror (Lovecraft) so if you're looking for a monster movie, this is not that.

Rating: 7/10

Avengers Grimm (2015, Netflix and Amazon Prime)
After watching some entertaining movies this month, I decided to punish myself by watching Avengers Grimm from The Asylum. I've had it on my Netflix list since I joined and finally bit the bullet...or poisoned apple. Is it a bad movie? Yes! Is it a bad movie you might enjoy? Probably with some friends and maybe some drinks.

Cool: Lou Ferrigno in make-up again? Ok, so he's silver and not green but still.
Lame: They are bad at setting up the princesses! Red cloak? Red Riding Hood. Long hair? Rapunzel. Snow White? They actually say her name. I didn't even know one of the girls was supposed to be Cinderella until watching the trailer just now.

Rating: 3/10

Sing (2016)
It's no Zootopia but it's not trying to be. It's fun, cute, and has got plenty of tunes to appeal to everyone. I really enjoyed that there were a lot of characters with different story lines.

Cool: The little Asian girl group cracked me up
Lame: Nothing bad to say!

Rating: 6/10

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016, Amazon Prime)
Didn't see Cloverfield? Not a big deal as this seems to have nothing to do with that movie as of right now. After Guardians, this is my next favorite pick of the month. Great suspense and mystery of whether or not John Goodman is a doomsday crackpot or not. I would probably sit through anything that man is in. Considering there are three people in the movie and it takes place in essentially one location, it really kept my attention.

Cool: Fantastic performances by everyone. When the climax kicked off I wasn't sure they'd be able to end the movie satisfactorily but they did it!
Lame: Somewhere out there are people just like John Goodman's character

Rating: 8/10

May 26, 2017

Funko Smuggler's Bounty - 40th Anniv

What better way to wrap up a week celebrating Star Wars' 40th Anniversary than the Funko Smuggler's Bounty which happens to have the 40th Anniversary as its theme?

This was the largest box by far, and you'll see why. I was going for the opening crawl effect with the box photo, can you tell? There's usually an info card in the box that tells you about the items and what the next theme will be but my box didn't have one. I don't know if it got left out or if they stopped doing it.

The traditional Funko box pin and patch. X-Wing Luke looks a little...weird? Maybe he's talking to Obi-Wan's ghost.

Funko has a track record of debuting new types of items in their boxes. I'm not sure if this is one of them (because I didn't get an info card) but it's definitely the first Funko wristbands I've seen. Yep, they sure are wristbands that say Star Wars.

See if you're going to Funko-ize something, this is how you do it! I don't know about leaving these two characters on my dining table though, they might get into some shenanigans.

Who shot first, salt or pepper? Wrong! 
The correct answer is no one shot first. 
Han shot. 
End of story.

And here's why this box was so large! Not a Dorbz Ride but a full on Pop Ride Luke in his Landspeeder. I really wish I had a work space where I could put this out. It's just so much fun to look at! The used clear plastic rods to give it a hover effect.

The paint job is great. Not only the weathering but also in the detail on the exposed engine. And check out the ripples in the sand. Of course I can't look at this and not think of the original Landspeeder toy with its pop-up hood.

Well, that's it for the Funko Smuggler's Bounty for me. I've been wanting to cancel my subscription for awhile but every time I see the next theme I think "How can I stop now?" The next one is droids, not that I don't love droids! I just don't have the space to keep piling up all the boxes of stuff.

So May the Force Be With You, Smuggler's Bounty. 
I'm sure our paths will cross again in the future.

May 25, 2017

The Making of Star Wars TV Special (1977)

You can keep your mass market cutsey May the 4th Be With You.
May 25th has, and always will be, Star Wars day for me!

Happy 40th, Star Wars!

Whether you're a younger fan that's never seen this or an "original" fan that hasn't seen it in awhile, this is a great watch. Star Wars was the movie that got me interested in how movies were made. It was the first movie where I made a point to memorize the actors and started learning about how movies were made because I just wanted to know as much as possible about the movie.

I absolutely love stuff like this video because it's a time capsule of not only Star Wars history but also what the world in general.

So sit back and relax as C-3PO and R2-D2 show you how Star Wars was made.

May 24, 2017

Star Wars - The Big Bad Theory Part 2

As I mentioned in Part 1, almost 6 years ago (yikes!), the time between Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back was just amazing. Star Wars was still new and no one had any ideas what would be in store for us in 1980. Fan speculation was all over the place and at that time, anybody could have been right!

Despite having only 12 minutes of screen time, Darth Vader immediatley became one of the most iconic villains in movie history.

Here are some pages from Famous Monsters of Filmland issue #142 (April 1978) with an interesting take on why Darth Vader may not be the bad guy you think he is. One of my favorite bits in this piece is how the author believes the Force itself to be neutral and that it's the user that is Light or Dark.

May 23, 2017

My First Light Saber

I guess a more accurate title would be my first Kenner light saber. I'm sure before I got this one I was using cardboard tubes and flashlights and making the sounds while swinging it.

But this is what we got in 1978, kids...

Your eyes don't deceive you, the package does say inflatable sword!

Image from 2 Warps to Neptune
Not exactly the dream of every kid hoping for a magical space sword. It's basically a flashlight with am inflatable plastic attached to it. A yellow tube! Not that 8 year old me really cared, I mean the figure of Luke had a yellow light saber, right?

Secrets of the Jedi revealed! The source of a light saber's power? 2 D batteries.
Also, they work best in dimly lit areas. This is because (as I remember) the tube wasn't even as transparent as your standard balloon when shining a light through it.

They also include a patch kit in case your light saber takes a really bad hit while you're out battling Sith Lords and saving the galaxy.

It was the 70s and we were glad to have anything that said Star Wars on it.

May 22, 2017

Happy 40th Star Wars!

It's the biggest birthday party in the galaxy!
Star Wars turns 40 this Thursday and to celebrate, I'll be posting stuff every day focusing on the 1977-1980 time frame when all we had was the original Star Wars.

Today, we're jumping in the way back machine to see what it was like to grow up as a Star Wars kid. If you want more old school Star Wars goodness, check out the amazing site I Grew Up Star Wars which features fan submitted photos.

Here's me holding The Story of Star Wars album. Back then, this was the closest thing we had to actually going to the theater to see the movie again. This was better than the read-along record and book sets because it used dialog from the movie. This was probably more responsible for me learning the lines than anything else.

You can hear the whole album below.

Here's a drawing my mom recently discovered from 1978.

In case you can't tell, it's a landspeeder! The lightsabers, R2, and Jawa are pretty spot on, I think. You can sort of see in the bottom right where I tried to do C-3PO but didn't like the way he came out and erased him. The funny thing is, I can still remember exactly what the markers looked like that I used to make this.

I don't remember what year this was but I want to say 79 or 80. I got to meet Darth in Providence RI of all places at a World of Wheels car show. I remember going to quite a few of these with my dad and seeing famous TV cars but this was definitely the best one!

Stay tuned all week for more Star Wars!

May 17, 2017

Krampus in the Corner

Towards the end of last year, I backed a Kickstarter called Krampus in the Corner, a parody of everyone's least favorite holiday toy Elf on the Shelf. Although he didn't arrive in time for the 2016 holiday season, I couldn't wait to share him with you so you can be sure to get yours for this year if you want one. And honestly, why would you not?

If they can do Christmas in July, why not Krampus in May?

The Krampus plush is 12" tall and oh so ready to judge your actions year round. The book is 32 pages, features 16 full color illustrations, and is most definitely not for young children!

Here's a full view of ol Krampus. He's got chains on his wrists to tie up the naughty as well as a swatch of sticks for punishment. What's the red harness for, you ask?

It's to hold the basket where he puts the naughty kids! This is such a great detail.
And the cutest bit disturbing for a plush toy.

Here's a sample of what you'll find in the book. There are a few illustrations that are not exactly kid friendly. I mean, they're not gory but definitely not for bedtime! I really like the art style and would love to see an animated short with this Krampus, he's got a lot of character.

If you want to put a Krampus in your Corner, head over to Silent Orchid Studio. You can get Krampus, the book, or postcards and buttons featuring the artwork. I highly recommend Krampus and the book, well worth it!

May 8, 2017

Mail Order Monday - CB Times (1976)

Breaker, breaker good buddy. You got your ears on?

Anyone that grew up around the late 70s/early 80s will no doubt remember when CB radio was a big thing. I'm sure other kids out there that had walkie talkies spent way too much time trying to raise a passing trucker. Or, more likely, annoying them.

This mail order ad from 1976 lets you join the CB Times Good Buddy Association! 
CB Times was a magazine dedicated to the CB lifestyle.

Your $10 will get you: 

A periodic newsletter to keep you up to date on CB trends and an exclusive classified section
The official CB Times bumper sticker
"Official" CB Times Press Card to aid you in gathering news at conversations and shows.
"Official" CB Times t-shirt (worn by the couple in the ad)
Directory of over 200 CB expressions
"Official" CB Times embroidered emblem
Wallet sized membership card entitling you to special discounts
SUPER BONUS: $2 discount on a yearly subscription

It's a little odd they put official in quotes in a couple places considering the stuff is coming direct from the company.

Here's a close up for you of the information you need to supply to sign up.

I get why they ask for most of the stuff, but why would they need your radio's serial number?

If you've still got a hankerin to do some jaw flappin, head over to CB Slang, which claims to be the most complete CB slang dictionary online. 

Leave your CB handle below and we'll catch you on the flip-flop.

May 5, 2017

A Galaxy of Guardians Books

If you need more Guardians in your life after leaving the theater this weekend (and who doesn't?) there are plenty more adventures to check out on the printed page. And I'm not even talking comic books! Clicking on an image will take you to Amazon where you can place an order that would make the Collector envious.

Let's start off with numero uno on my "to get" list. DK always does an amazing job with these books. Whether you're a long time fan or a newbie, there's a lot to love. They pack plenty of info in about the characters and major story lines. I flipped through this in the store and about 98% is covering the modern Guardians. They have a small section up front about the original Guardians team and then it goes up to recent comic history including Quill's romance with the X-Men's Kitty Pryde and The Thing's short membership with the group.

Next are a pair of prose novels. The one on the left came out around the time of the first movie and the other was just released about a week ago. I've read the Rocket and Groot one and it's a fun adventure starring the two of them doing their own thing. It also has a full production audio book which I picked up awhile back and should probably listen to sometime.

I passed by this in the store the other day and thought it was neat. A junior novelization with pages of photos kind of takes me back to books I'd get as a kid. And then I noticed the Bonus at the bottom: an exclusive Guardians story that's not part of the movie! It's not very long and takes place between the movies. It might be enough to get me to pick this up at some point.

But Dex, you say, I have younger kids that like the movies, is there anything for them? Well, of course there is! These two middle grade novels are by Tom Angelberger, the man behind the Origami Yoda series (something else I should probably check out). I checked out the first one from the library (yes those are still a thing!) and it was...okay. I'm sure the target age range, 8-12, will get more kicks out of it. I don't have anything against kids books, this just isn't what I want from a Rocket and Groot story.

You've got even younger readers, or ones that like lots of pictures? These Golden Books should be just right. Marvel has been putting out Golden Books for awhile now for Avengers characters and even Doctor Strange! I think it's a great way for kids to enjoy their favorite characters without having to dive into comics.

There are also Passport to Reading books featuring the Guardians.

If you're looking for a little more interactivity with your Guardians, check out Doodles! Personally, I don't know if I could bring myself to deface a book that I paid for. Photocopy maybe, but not write on the pages. I suck at drawing but I do like the art style in the book.

And the one I'm really looking forward to is the art book. Ever since I was a kid and got into Star Wars, I have loved looking at concept art for sci-fi movies. It amazes me that there are so many ideas that have to happen to arrive at the final concept. If you want this one, I would suggest getting it as soon as you can. The art book from the first movie is now going for $120 from third party sellers on Amazon!


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