Mar 23, 2020

Stuck in the House Stuff & Free Games

Hey folks, I hope everyone out there is doing well. We're doing okay here near Salem MA. Currently not under lockdown but doing my part by staying away from people.

I wanted to put together a quick post of some stuff to do whether you're stuck in the house or not. A lot of it is free!


Get it? Stuck in the house?

In addition to the stuff below, the Internet Archive is an insanely huge rabbit hole you can lose yourself in. There are tons of videos, books, magazines and more like:

Fangoria archive
Pulp magazines
Home Console games 
Classic Arcade Games
 1975 Haunted Mansion Operations Manual
Coloring Books

Movies

Streaming horror service Shudder is offering a 30 day free trial for new users with promo code SHUTIN.

Also, if you're a horror fan, the Spooky Vegan has a rundown of the freaky flicks currently available on Shudder, Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime.

Books

Speaking of Amazon, you can get a free, two month Kindle Unlimited trial if you sign up before April 30th. New users only.

Audible Stories has a selection of streaming free audio books for tiny tykes to teens as well as literary classics. You don't even have to sign up, just click and listen.

Fusion Books is offering a few issues of their gaming magazine Fusion as free PDFs. Each issue has articles on retro, current gen, indie, and tabletop gaming. (Links: 1, 2, 3) They're also giving away the book 8-bit Kids, which I highly recommend if you're a gamer and grew up in the 70s and/or 80s.

Comic Books

The Digital Comic Museum is an online archive dedicated to Golden Age comics. You can read online, or if you sign up for a free account, you can download them. Pro Tip: There is a search bar at the top of the page.

Tabletop Games

Cryptozoic Entertainment is having a huge sale on a lot of their games and offer free shipping with orders over $50. They have several Rick & Morty themed games, the DC Deckbuilding game, and even a Challenge of the Superfriends card game!

If you're looking to get your RPG on without actually gathering friends together, Astral is offering the use of their virtual tabletop software, with all paid features enabled, through April.


Video Games

Steam has a handful of free games:  Tomb Raider, Deiland, Headsnatchers, Drawful 2, Goat of Duty, Pleasure PuzzlePortrait, Lara Croft and The Temple of Osiris.

I grabbed Tomb Raider and Goat of Duty. Goat is a lot of fun if you like FPS deathmatch!

Epic Games has The Stanley Parable and Watch Dogs in addition to a handful of other always free to play games.

I also have a ton of unused Steam codes to give away!
Feel free to take a couple and I will update the post as games are claimed.

Mar 11, 2020

Battle Tribes - Grid Wave

A couple weeks ago Spy Monkey Creations let loose their most recent wave of Battle Tribes figures and this time they're going back to the game grid!


Credit: @Battle Tribes

As you can see, this latest wave of figures is an homage to the original 1982 Tron figures by Tomy. To say I was thrilled about the announcement would be an understatement. Luckily, I was able to grab the whole wave as they sold out pretty quick! Let's get a closer look at the programs.

 
First is the Grid Avatar in the role of Flynn. If you're familiar with the Battle Tribes figures, you know that each figure comes with multiple heads and weapons. Since we're looking at four figures, I didn't take a ton of pics of the different combos you can make with each figure. If you want to see all the parts, head over to Spy Monkey Creations.

I don't know what the official names of each type of figure are but I call this one the barbarian. Mainly because it comes with a Conan-style head and a furry vest. The shield is the closest thing any of the figures have to an identity disc and I'm a little disappointed no one else has one but I understand when they do the figures, each "style" has its own accessories.


Here's the Avatar with barbarian head and vest, although you can't really see it. They did an outstanding job with the digital markings on all the figures, especially the tiny back of the hand ones. I used a blue light here to give him a more electric look.

I got the colored lights I used at a Dollar Tree of all places! They're little plastic things that are meant to be worn on your fingers but they work great for shooting action figures.


This is the Grid Enforcer, taking the part of the Warrior. With this goblin/imp head I think it looks like a nasty virus that could infect your system. I used the Dollar Tree lights again here. They really light up the translucent plastic.


Here we have the Grid Overlord, standing in for Sark. In addition to more "normal" accessories, he's got a claw hand and a big mech fist. I usually call this one sci-fi guard because of the heads and chest armor piece.


Each of the figures has a couple of  glow in the dark accessories and one GITD head. The glowy bits are a natural way to go with Tron inspired figures but in my opinion, the heads don't work that well because they have no details colored in like the regular heads.


Fighting for the User is the Grid Champion. This guy is a wrestler style figure, which means he gets a little sidekick and a bunch of food heads, similar to the Spicy Pumpkin figure I talked about a couple months ago. Not my personal favorite style of figure because it's got a variety of heads instead of weapons.


Tron himself stopped by to show the Champion how to sling a disc.

Mar 1, 2020

Monthly Media Recap - February 2020

 Welcome to the February Monthly Media Recap. 
Now with an extra day and lots of trailers!


Streaming

Living with Yourself (Netflix): This was quite a bit different than what I was expecting. You see Paul Rudd and you think it's going to be non-stop laughs. Not that it doesn't have humorous moments. It's sort of a light, fluffy Black Mirror premise.

Black Lightning (Netflix): When this initially premiered I decided to pass on it because it wasn't in the same reality as the Arrow-verse. Now they went all Crisis and everyone is on the same Earth so I'm getting caught up. And I'm glad I am because the show is good and it has a different feel to it than the other CW DC shows.

Movies


The Car: Road to Revenge (2019, Netflix)
Imagine if The Aslyum was remaking The Wraith for the SyFy Channel. Except the spirit/car is a rich douchebag so you don't want it to get revenge and there are no characters to root for so you don't care who lives. If The Car had killed everyone and then spontaneously combusted, it might be an improvement. Don't let the trailer fool you, the "cyberpunk" in this is barely there.

Rating: 2/10, if you value your life, don't waste any of it watching this


And on the other hand...this is how you make a cult movie. The effects are decent, the action is good,  and the story is "out there" crazy. I mean, how can you go wrong with dinosaurs and Nazis? This is a sequel so I recommend seeing Iron Sky first to get the full story. Trust me, they're both a good time!

Rating: 7/10


Based on a 3 minute short film, this was pretty good for PG13. It was giving me a sort of an Elm Street vibe with the kids uncovering the history behind the entity and some of the "rules" it has to abide by. Fun fact: the screenplay was written by former G4 personality Blair Butler.

Rating: 6/10

These next two are part of a series (or trilogy depending on who you ask), which I didn't know until after I had watched Mad Doctor and researched it to find out it is part of the Blood Island series of movies. Truth is, there's no continuity between the movies and you can watch any one of them on its own. I also found that for a lot of horror fans, these were their intro to weirdness that is Filipino horror.


Of the two Blood Island flicks here, I think this one had more going on to keep me watching. Although any time the monster is about, the camera does this repeating zoom in/zoom out thing that is pretty annoying.

Rating: 4/10



While Mad Doctor somehow had more to keep my attention, I really enjoyed the story (such that it is) in this one more. The creature is laughable, seeing the strings flying a "monster" butterfly priceless, and the blood thirsty trees are pretty cool.

Rating: 4.5/10

Month
New: 5  Rewatch: 0

Year to Date
  New: 11 Rewatch: 0

Feb 26, 2020

The Cybertronic Spree Rolls Out on Tour

The galaxy's best transforming robot band is going on tour starting this spring!


I guess I should lead off explaining just who the Spree are for those not familiar and why I am so very excited to see them live.


The Cybertronic Spree are a band that takes their love of Transformers to a whole new level. They perform in full costume!

Last year, I supported their Kickstarter to make a cover album of the entire Transformers: The Movie soundtrack. That album is very near and dear to me and will always rank in my Top 5 albums of all time list because it hit me at just the right time in life: high school. To this day, I still get a little chill when I hear those first four notes of Stan Bush's "The Touch".

If you want to check out these Bots and Cons in action, head over to their YouTube page where you'll find them doing songs from the Transformers soundtrack along with other tunes.

The full list of tour dates can be found on their website TheCybertronicSpree.com.
Tickets are already on sale, so nothing's gonna stand in your way!

Feb 20, 2020

Marvel Legends - Doctor Doom

I mentioned in a recent post that Dr. Strange is my favorite Marvel character but Dr. Doom is my favorite villain. What can I say? I guess I have a thing for mystically trained, educated characters.

I like Doom because he's complicated. He's not just evil for evil's sake. He's always got an angle. Heck, somewhat recently he even called himself Infamous Iron Man and took over for Tony Stark for a bit. 

I was pretty excited to see him when preview pics came out of the Fantastic Four wave of Marvel Legends. Sure, Infamous Iron Man had a figure but as much as I dug it, it wasn't the Doom. And yet, I hemmed and hawed, passing the figure up no less then three times at retail. I eventually caved in to the social media peer pressure of everyone saying how great the figure is. And I'm glad I did!


The detail on this figure is darn impressive! I daresay even the Lord of Latveria himself would approve! The tunic is plastic but they put some great texturing on it to make it look like fabric. There's multiple holes in the belt in case Doom puts on/drops some weight. Being a dictator can be stressful, no judgement here.


And just look at that armor. There's rivets on the outside and straps on the inseam. Such small details they didn't have to include but go a long way to make it the best it can be.


The cape is removable and is probably the one thing I'm not completely over the moon about as it makes him somewhat back heavy and difficult to stand. Under the cape, he's got a pair of jets. You can see one just behind his shoulder. And not only does the holster have a monogrammed D on it and hold his pistol, but it actually opens.


I have to admit I was hesitant to try and pop it open in case it wasn't supposed to but that's just more genius put into the figure. I've always found it odd that he carries a pistol. I mean, on top of his armor, he's no slouch in the mystic arts. I guess it's more of a status symbol.

As far as accessories go, he comes with the pistol, four hands (two "I'll get you, Richards!" clenched fists, a right hand for pistol holdin', and a left menacing gesture hand), and two heads. The one you've seen so far is the classic "man in the iron mask" Doom. The other is a more modern version.


The modern head looks more like an armored suit than a suit of armor and the hood is a bit larger. The eyes on both heads are fantastic. You can practically feel the loathing.


The tunic is a hard plastic and while it does move a little, it's still going to limit range of motion for his legs. There was something that felt off to me about the figure and I finally figured it out. The classic Doom look (what I usually picture for him) has a tunic that just covers his butt instead of knee length. Not a big deal.


Lord Doom would appreciate it if you bought his figure.

Feb 12, 2020

Salem So Sweet Ice Sculptures 2020

This past weekend was the 18th Annual Salem's So Sweet Chocolate & Ice Sculpture Festival. It's a great event to get people into local businesses with shopping discounts and food sampling. But the main reason I go is for the ice sculptures...and maybe a bit of free chocolate tasting.

This year there were 26 ice sculptures on display around the downtown Salem area. The weather was perfect...if you're an ice sculpture. It was around 30F with the occasional bitter cold wind. Due to that, I didn't walk around to see all the sculptures but I do have a few photos to share.

Star Wars The Child aka Baby Yoda ice sculpture

This Baby Yoda (or The Child if you prefer) looks like he may be a little younger than 50 with his chubby cheeks.

Godzilla ice sculpture

The thing you've been waiting for all your life...Godzilla on Ice! Okay, so it's more Godzilla in ice. Something about the way the spikes/plates on his neck was making me think of the House Stark banner.


Licensed properties actually are in the minority, but happen to be the ones I'm more excited to see. Most of the others are representing local businesses, like this one for Coon's Card & Gift Shop.


Here's a pair of large heart shaped glasses in front of Old Town Hall, which is the oldest surviving municipal structure in Salem, dating back to 1816 or 1817. It was also featured in Hocus Pocus as the exterior of the building where the big party takes place.

guardians of the galaxy baby groot ice sculpture

This Baby Groot was my favorite of the ones I saw.
It has an amazing likeness and the detail work on the face is crazy.


I happened to go earlier in the day and they were still working on getting some of the ice in place. There's a small chainsaw on the left and if you look in the truck, you'll see a couple of large blocks of ice.

When night rolls around, the sculptures are illuminated with colored lights. If you want to see more ice sculpture pics (lit and unlit), check out CreativeNorthShore on Facebook and DerekMillen on YouTube.

Oh! I almost forgot to mention, several of the Salem monsters were out and about on Saturday for Monster Hugs. During October, you can find them on the streets to take photos with for a donation. This time, they're donating all their tip money to Boston Childrens' Hospital. With it being so cold, I was pretty bundled up so I didn't take any pics with them but good on them for toughing it out for a good cause! You can find plenty of pics of them with one of my favorite monsters: Salem_Satan on IG.

Feb 7, 2020

Labyrinth Playing Cards

I did tell you to tune your crystal ball in to see the next deck of cards and that was sort of a clue as to what it might be.

Labyrinth has been one of my favorite movies since it came out. Both the movie and the soundtrack have gotten a lot of play over the years. Back in the dial-up days of Bulletin Board Systems, I adopted Jareth as my first online handle.


There is so much to love with this deck! First, they used the riddle door guards Ralph (red) and Alph (blue) as the Jokers. What better choice is there?


Second, Hearts/Diamonds are yellow with Spades/Clubs being purple. I really like this because it makes the cards more interesting when you're holding a hand. Not surprisingly, the card images are all stills/promo images from the movie.

The court cards in every suit are the Labyrinth (Ace), Jareth (King, naturally!), Sarah (Queen, of course), and back to Jareth (Jack). He's also on the 10 in every suit.


Another fun thing they did was use Ludo on the 4s and the Fireys on the 3s. Here you can see what I mean about having two different colors of cards.

Whoever you're favorite character might be from the movie, they're probably on at least one card in the deck. Sir Didymus? The Wiseman? The worm? They're all here.

So if you ever accidentally wish away your baby brother and need to play a game of cards to get him back, this is your deck! You can find them at Entertainment Earth.

Feb 5, 2020

Dr Strange Playing Cards

Thanks to Entertainment Earth having a BOGO 40% off sale on Aquarius stuff, I got two new decks of cards! Sadly, most of their Star Wars cards are out of stock, including this really cool one, but the ones I got are pretty great.

Doctor Strange is probably my favorite Marvel character. Before I really got into comics as a teen, I had a pair of pocket sized collections of his earliest adventures and that's really where my love for him got it start. I read those things so many times! I even kept a notebook of all the spells/incantations he used. Nerd alert!


I would have picked these up no matter which era of Dr. Strange they focused on but they lean more toward the early 70s stuff. Would I have preferred more classic Ditko art or art that covered the span of Strange's appearances? Sure, but this era is classic for me. I would have done something different for the Jokers, maybe had one of the Eye of Agamotto cards be closed or the Seal of the Vishanti which is the symbol on the large window in his Sanctum Sanctorum.


They use an assortment of comic covers, comic panels, and portraits of Strange. Some panels include his long time foes Baron Mordo or Dormammu. No Nightmare or Mindless Ones though, what up with that?

Okay, who out there is good at math? In this 52 card deck, there are 25 different pieces of art used. How did they manage that, you ask? Not only do they repeat art between suits, they used one image for four cards!


Maybe they only had so much budget for different pieces of art? Who knows, but unless you're a weirdo that collects playing cards, you might not even notice it.

Tune your crystal ball in on Friday to find out what the other deck is.

Feb 1, 2020

Monthly Media Recap - January 2020

Can you believe it? 2020! Flying cars, personal jetpacks, robot maids.
Maybe next decade...


Streaming

The Witcher (Netflix) - Really enjoyed this despite the timeline being a little confusing for a bit. Even went so far as to post a different "Toss a Coin to Your Witcher" cover video for a week. Not my videos, I'm not musically inclined. Kudos to the song writer as that thing is damn catchy.

The Imagineering Story (Disney+) - A 6 part history of the Disney parks featuring the people behind the scenes. Absolute must watch for anyone that enjoys going to Disney.

Lost In Space, S2 (Netflix) - A great example of how to reboot a series. It doesn't need to be tied to the original show, it's just good storytelling with interesting characters.

The Big Screen

It: Chapter 2 (2019, Redbox)
I'd say this is as different from the first one as Nightmare on Elm Street is to parts 4 or 5. It's not as scary and has more comedic moments. It's a long one, and I didn't mind going on the ride but did it need to be almost 3 hours? SPOILER ALERT: the moral of the story is that you can defeat your bully by bullying them.

Rating: 7/10


Overlord (2018, Amazon Prime)
Not only was this a solid WWII movie but it only gets better when they start getting into the Nazi weird science stuff! It felt like watching a Castle Wolfenstein movie.

Rating: 8/10


10/31 (2017)
A Halloween anthology from the people that did The Barn, I really wanted to like this one. Indie, low budget horror can be a tough sell for me. If I had started this on streaming, instead of having bought the BluRay, I probably would have turned it off after a few minutes. I'll give the writers credit, the story ideas are solid, they just don't have the actors or effects to make them great.

Rating: 4/10



Dead Space: Downfall (2008, Amazon Prime)
A prelude to the original Dead Space video game. Sort of like Resident Evil meets Aliens. It may be animated but it's definitely not for the kiddos! It's got more than enough gore for its 85 minute run time.

Rating: 6/10


Braid (2018, Amazon Prime)
I think you'll either love this one or hate it. You may enjoy the drug-induced fever dream style or you might think it's a pretentious waste of time. It's still a little difficult on where I land on it because there isn't really a main character to root for. The ending didn't make a lot of sense to me but I enjoyed the wild ride.

Rating: 6.5/10


The VelociPastor (2018, Amazon Prime)
Look, if the title and trailer don't sell you on this, you probably won't enjoy it. This movie knows exactly what it is and constantly winks at you to make sure you know too. The film's leading man, Greg Cohan, should rocket to cult status. Probably the best dinosaur vs ninja fight ever committed to film!

Rating: 7/10, this is purely a rating of how much I enjoyed it

Year to Date Total
New: 6   Rewatch: 0

Jan 29, 2020

Now Hear This - Metal Elvis

Plenty of metal bands have done their own covers of Elvis songs over the years but the band Metal Elvis is all about "the son of the King" carrying on his daddy's legacy with modern songs.


Metal Elvis is fronted by Chance Tinder who has been "doing Elvis" for over 30 years. He's accompanied The Monsters of Rock: Slush (lead guitar), Katman Kelly (drums), and Stikki Lixx (bass). As you can see, they make quite the visual mash-up.

And mash-up is what Metal Elvis is all about...


The band plays (played?) in the Vegas area. Unfortunately, their Facebook page hasn't been updated since 2018 so I'm not sure what they're status is at the moment, which is too bad. Not that I'm exactly "in the area" but I bet they're a fun band to see live.


If you've got a burning love for more Metal Elvis, you can check out their YouTube channel which has a few more videos. And since I can't find their CD available for purchase online, you can click on the cover below to check out the album.


Metal Elvis has left the building...

Jan 23, 2020

Battletribes Spicy Pumpkin Figure

Just a few weeks ago, Spy Monkey Creations unleashed Wave 19 of their Battletribes figures. In every wave there is usually one figure that I have my eye on, sometimes I get them, sometimes I don't. But there was no way I could pass this one up!

Laaaaaaadies and geeeeeentlemen!
I give you, Spicy Pumpkin!


How can you pass up a pumpkin headed wrestler? In the usual Battletribes release, you get assorted weapons or monster-ish accessories. But with the wrestlers, you get lots of heads, a minifigure, and a few extra goodies. What's cooler than multiple heads?


Reversible heads! That's right, those two pumpkin heads turn around for an orange and an apple with a bite taken out of it! Is it still an apple if it's orange in color? Does that make it an orange apple?


When the wrestler figures were introduced, they also brought along the tiny wrestler and some really wacky food heads. In this pic, the big guy has an alternate pair of boots.


Say hello to Big Beef and Side of Fries! Beef is sporting an alternate pair of trunks which are usually the standard for Battletribes figures.


The last pair of heads also go well with the pumpkin ones for a Halloween vibe. The final accessory is a Champion belt. So all told, you get the two figures, two pairs of trunks, two pairs of boots, the belt, and 8 heads (2 reversible).

You can grab your own Spicy Pumpkin at Spy Monkey Creations along with figures from past waves.  If you're like me and not that into wrestlers, there's a variety of fantasty based characters to choose from too.This is a great line of figures to get into and they're all Glyos compatible!

Jan 15, 2020

Star Wars Playing Cards by Theory 11

I discovered this deck of cards purely by accident through an ad in my Instagram feed. See kids? Sometimes advertisements can actually be good! 


There are two decks available, light side and dark side. Both decks have the same cards in them, the only differences are the box art and card backs. The boxes are very nice with foil embossing on both sides. I did my best to try and capture the shine of the foil.

The deck is sealed with an Alliance starbird logo sticker. While these look nice, I am never a fan of these sticker seals because I will either damage the box in some way or if I leave it on, it makes it a little difficult to get the cards out. If you visit Theory 11's site, you'll see stuff about card magic and handling, so it makes sense they'd want to provide a sealed deck.

It's hard to see here, but if you click for a larger view, you'll see the inner flap has a Y-Wing that says "Stay on target." below it.


I hadn't heard of Theory 11 before and sadly, it seems like Carta Mundi no longer has the rights to make Star Wars playing cards. This probably happened awhile back and I never noticed. I think the last movie deck I have from them is Rogue One. They always put out quality stuff and I had fun collecting the decks. Anyway, back on track!

The back of the box has got a lot going on! There are tiny X-Wings on the sides of R2's head. There's even some Aurabesh (the in galaxy language) which says The Force Light Side. But the trick here is that you have to read it top to bottom when you'd think it would go left to right. At first I thought they made a mistake because the right side was printed upside down.


The card back is the same as the back of the box and despite how busy the image is, it still looks very clean. The Jokers are BB-8 and D-O. I really think they should have been one Joker and R2 and 3PO on the other. They aren't even on the cards! Except for R2's head on the backs but being an older fan, I think they deserve a bit more presence.

And this is where my biggest "complaint" is with this deck: the theming.


I love the art style used for the court cards. I really enjoy that they worked a ship into each Ace. I know it's not easy to pack 9 movies into 4 suits but I would have tried to find a way to make each suit a little more cohesive and that's just the fan in me wanting that little bit more. In Hearts, we have the Falcon, Old Ben, General Leia (Last Jedi), and young Han.


Clubs brings Vader's TIE, the Emperor, Mon Mothma (?), and Kylo Ren. I get that you probably want to use a woman for the Queen and there aren't really a lot of women to choose from, much less any dark side females in the movies. I want to give Clubs a pass but Vader is over in Spades while his ship is here.


Diamonds delivers Fett's Slave I, Jedi Master Luke, Rey, and Lando (Return of the Jedi). Why not swap Old Ben here in place of Lando? Then you'd have Lando with the Falcon, Leia, and Han and a trio of Force users.


Lastly, is Spades. The Ace has Yoda raising the X-Wing from the swamp followed by Vader, Padme, and Boba Fett.

Despite my griping about the suit theming, I really do like these cards. They have a nice feel to them, the art is great, and the box is a collectible by itself.

Jan 8, 2020

Labyrinth Card Game

The game company River Horse recently released the Labyrinth Card Game. Back in 2016 they put out a Labyrinth board game and a Dark Crystal board game in 2018.


The card game comes in this great box that looks similar to Sarah's book.


The deck of cards is very similar to a standard Tarot deck, plus two Jokers. The cards are the same size, there are four minor suits consisting of 56 cards and a major suit of 24 Labyrinthes which features characters and things in the movie.


The four minor suits are Books, Clock, Orbs, and Owls.
Let's get a closer look at the card back.


The center has the Escher-like stairs. The top left maze has the "false alarm" taking heads. I think the bottom left is the Bog of Eternal Stench. The bottom right is maybe the forest where the Fireys live?


Here's a few of the Labyrinthes. The Blind Beggar, Fair and Unfair have special "abilities" when you play them. The game itself is a variation of standard trick taking card games. While I'm sure this can be its own fun, I was really hoping for something more thematically tied to the movie.


The court card in each suit are King (Jareth), Queen (Sarah, naturally), Jack (Labyrinth denizens), and Cavalier (mounted warriors).


One nice little detail is that the Jareth and Sarah in each suit have outfits that match their scenes together in the movie.

River Horse is has up for pre-order a Labyrinth Adventure Game (RPG) which looks interesting. You can pick up the Labyrinth Card Game from Amazon.

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