Jul 30, 2012

Mail Order Monday - Time to Get Medeival

Medieval War Machine toy mail order Honor House 1956
Medieval War Machine toy (1956)
The days of hard fighting, bitter battles...and poor personal hygiene.

By no means am I an expert of medieval war machines, but I can't say I've ever seen one designed like this. I'm familiar with the standard seige weapons: catapult, ballista and trebuchet. Don't let anyone tell you playing D&D isn't somewhat educational, kids. I know this is only a toy but unless there is some unseen way to adjust the angle of the spear it doesn't seem like there's much control over it except maybe how hard it launches. And if you're flinging giant metal spears, you probably want them going as fast as possible.

This ad really sells the catapult as the be-all, end-all weapon to destroy all your enemies. If you're fighting an enemy that is going to be wiped out by this one siege weapon, you probably didn't need it in the first place. Maybe figures back inthe '50s would get flattened by it, but the figures of the '80s would probably burn it to the tabletop.

They could have at least included some paper targets or plastic figures. On the other hand, what more could you want for $1.25 other than something to torment the family pet and/or siblings from across the room?

Jul 28, 2012

League Post - Show Me The Green

League of Extraordinary Bloggers

This week's League of Extraordinary Blogger's task is our first photo assignment.
The subject: Things that are green

I know more than a few of my fellow bloggers' thoughts turn to Godzilla, the Hulk or maybe even Frankenstein when they think green. Me? It's the Creature every time. 
Which is a little odd considering all his movies were black and white.
Allow me to also direct you to my post on the LEGO Swamp Creature set.

Universal Monster Creature from the Black Lagoon toys
My meager Creature half-shelf
See what other members are posting

Reis at Lair of the Dorke Horde shows of some exclusive undead
Everything's so green over at Cavalcade of Awesome
Newcomer Geek Cultural shows off the land of green

Jul 25, 2012

Hallmark Star Wars Ornaments

Way back in 1996 Hallmark released their first modern Star Wars Keepsake Christmas ornaments. Well, I think they're actually just called Keepsake Ornaments to make sure people that don't celebrate Christmas will still buy them. Every year Hallmark publishes it's Dream Book which showcases most of the upcoming ornaments for the holiday season that will be on sale in stores in July. So it really is Christmas (or your preferred seasonal holiday) in July.
Millenium Falcon Star Wars Hallmark keepsake ornament
Hallmark's first modern Star Wars keepsake. Image from RebelScum.com

Jul 23, 2012

Mail Order Monday - Rocketman Televiewer (1952)

Rocketman televiewer ad from 1952 comic

I always try to do a little bit of research on these ads and sometimes it actually pays off with something interesting.

Fury Comics has a little info on the comic hero this ad is based on called...wait for it...Rocketman! Although he's called Rocketman in the comic and sports the same rocket suit on the comic's cover that you see here, he travels by spaceship. While lame, I guess technically travelling in a rocket ship, you can still get away with calling yourself Rocketman. Fury Comics looks like they have quite a few comic scans posted on their site, I'll have to waste some time there later.
Rocketman Televiewer ad from comic book
Color version of ad on Ebay
I wasn't able to find any info about the Televiewer itself. The ad makes it sound like it's a projector, especially where it mentions the images being on 16mm film. But based on the cost and the "beautiful colored plastic" and "compact" description I'm guessing it's similar to those photo keychains that you had to hold up to the light while looking into it with one eye to see the photo inside it. There's probably a slot to manually feed the filmstrip through frame by frame.

Jul 20, 2012

Tron:Uprising panel at SDCC 2012

Disney blogger Ricky Brigante over at Behind the Magic has some great coverage from the recent San Diego Comic Con, including pics and video from the TMNT panel, the Nintendo Lounge and a zombie walk. But the coolest thing for me was that he captured the entire Tron: Uprising panel on video. Whether or not Tron's your thing, head over to the site and check out the other stuff. It's a Grade A entertainment news site.

Voice actors in attendance included Elijah Wood (Beck), Tricia Helfer (the Grid) and Tron himself (Bruce Boxleitner). Also there were the consulting producers, who wrote Tron: Legacy, Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz. Ricky also mentions that he'll have interviews with Tron: Uprising cast and crew on his podcast. Visit his site for more info.

Below is the "Scars" preview footage talked about in the panel.
Disney XD was awesome enough to post it on their official YouTube channel.

Jul 18, 2012

League Post - Blank Check

Hoo-boy! The assignment this week from the League of Extraordinary Bloggers is a doozy!
Here’s a blank check, now head over to the Profiles in History Dreier Collection auction and buy something nice for the cave. (You can buy more than one item, but leave some for the rest of us.)
If you're not familiar with Profiles in History, they specialize in auctioning off all kinds of pop culture treasures including movie props and costumes. All the images in this post are from the Dreier Collection catalog, so check that out to see all kinds of things that will make you wish you were indepedently wealthy.

Even though we're given a virtual blank check, I'm reeling myself in by not buying every Star Wars item in the catalog.
Battlestar Galactica Colnonial Warrior costume
Colonial Warrior $12,000-$15000
Battlestar Galactica Cylon costume
Cylon Centurion $40,000-$60,000
I've always loved these two cosutmes. The Colonial Warrior is a great simplistic design, shame it doesn't come with a pistol too. And sure Cylons may have gone to the Stormtrooper School of Marksmanship but there's no denying they look badass. The eye light still works, however I won't be wearing it as it was designed for a 6'7" actor!

Super man 3 Kryptonite and carry case
Kryptonite and case, $6,000-$8,000
While costumes are cool (and they do have some Supes related costumes up grabs) I'm usually more about the prop gadgets and doo-dads. And what better prop to have than a hunk of Kryptonite in its own carrying case, complete with light up feature?

Pez rubber monster head
Monster head Pez dispensers $300-$500
I've been collecting Halloween-themed Pez dispensers for a few years now and these guys would be a great highlight to the collection with their soft rubber heads. I didn't really care for the orange Witch in the catalog.

Star Wars Chewbacca C-3P0 Ben Cooper Halloween costumes with Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi lunchboxes
Halloween costumes & lunch boxes $200-$300
The main reason I picked this lot was for the vintage Ben Cooper Halloween costumes. These classic costumes are something that hold very strong ties to childhood Halloween for me...just don't try to put your tongue in the slot cut out for your mouth.

Star Wars original poster concept art
Final concept drawing signed by artist, $20,000-$30,000
I think a good number of Star Wars fans would pass this over in favor of the prop guns or even the Revenge of the Jedi script. Even though the final poster image was used all over the place when the movie was released, this is a version I've never seen before. The final image was used in several places to promote the movie and has inspired many a parody and knockoff image. The iconic Luke and Leia from this poster were even used as part of the Star Wars logo on the vintage Kenner action figure cards.

Total = $78,500 - $113,800

What's that? I still have $125 left over?
Ok, I'll...uh...I'll take the ceramic dog for $100.
Not in the actual auction but +5 points if you get the reference!
See what other members of the League are buying!
All you need to know about Shezcrafti's picks is "Johnny Depp's Balls"
Green Plastic Squirt Gun goes crazy for trading cards
Geek Til It Hurts travels through a Stargate

Jul 16, 2012

First Anniversary & Zombie Book Giveaway

Well, I somehow miscalculated the date of the very first AEIOU post. And when I say "miscalculated" what I really mean is I looked at the date a couple weeks ago and then, for whatever reason, remembered it being four days later than it actually was.

So technically, we celebrated our one year anniversary on Friday the 13th! Too bad I didn't remember it then. But to celebrate the occasion, I'm having a little zombie giveaway!

Before we get to the good stuff, I just want to say how much I appreciate those who read my craziness regularly. I don't know who you might be or where on Earth you are, but thanks! Also a big "howdy do" to my fellow bloggers.

Since getting off my butt and starting this blog, I...
Of all the things I've done in the past year, meeting and interacting with others is what I enjoy the most. And it kinda keeps me going some days.

On to the contest!

The main prize is a copy of Mira Grant's novel Feed, Book 1 in the Newsflesh Trilogy. I hadn't heard about Feed until Wickedly Bookish did a giveaway for it. She has book giveaways all the time, so you may want to check her site out too!

I thought I was in for another post-zombie apocalypse story (not that there's anything wrong with that!) but the world Grant sets up is very unique and not the same old setting I was expecting. I really enjoyed the first two books and just started the final book this week. Don't just take my word that the book is good, right now on Amazon it has an average of 4.5 out of 5 from 261 reviews! I don't want to give anything away, so here's a blurb from Feed:
In 2014, two experimental viruses—one a genetically engineered flu strain intended to act as a cure for the common cold, and the other a cancer-killing strain—escaped the lab and combined to form a single airborne pathogen that swept around the world in a matter of days. It cured cancer. It stopped a thousand cold and flu viruses in their tracks.

It raised the dead.

Millions died in the chaos that followed. The summer of 2014 was dubbed "The Rising," and only the lessons learned from a thousand zombie movies allowed mankind to survive. Even then, the world was changed forever. The mainstream media fell, Internet news acquired an undeniable new legitimacy, and the CDC rose to a new level of power.

Set twenty years after the Rising, the Newsflesh trilogy follows a team of bloggers, led by Georgia and Shaun Mason, as they search for the brutal truths behind the infection.
So, if this grabs ya, go ahead and enter below. If you leave a comment, make sure you have an email address in your profile or leave it in your comment so I can contact you.

Contest runs until 11:59pm Eastern, July 21 and is only open to those in the US. 
Winner will be notified and posted here on the following day.

Jul 13, 2012

League Post - When Nerds Cry

Looks like I picked an interesting week to pick up The League post torch again.
This week's assignment:
Who cried when Old Yeller got shot? What movie, TV show, book, etc. turns you into a blubbering baby every time you see it?
I'm not sure if I've seen Old Yeller. I think I have a foggy memory of seeing it on The Wonderful World of Disney on TV. Either I was too young to understand what happened or it scarred me to the degree of almost total memory repression. Either way, I haven't seen it since then.

This is what got me in 1983, and still gets me a tiny bit to this day. Equally attributed to being 12, losing Yoda and Vader, Luke and Vader's face-to-face and (the big one) it being the end of Star Wars forever...as far as I knew then. I didn't cry as I sat through the end credits but it was close. Plus I knew I'd be seeing it a few more times. I think the addition of the galaxy-wide celebration montage brings the emotional level up too quickly but being the end of the saga I guess you kinda have to have an upbeat ending.

Watching Edward Scissorhands always makes me a little sad seeing Vincent Price in his final film role.

And since we're going full disclosure...the Death of Optimus Prime in the Trans-Formers animated movie got me too. (Wait..what? We don't haveto do full disclosure?)

Honorable movie mentions: Pan's Labyrinth, Big Fish, Toy Story 3

As much as I have my favorite TV shows, they don't often grab me quite enough to get emotional over them. But if you're a Doctor Who fan and don't feel something when 10 regenerates or the Face of Boe gives his death confession, you're clearly of alien origin...And not the good kind! The evil, cold, unfeeling kind!

Shortly after I began the trek into high school, I discovered the Dragon Lance series of books. This was back when the series was first starting out, before there were hundreds upon hundreds of novels. I probably checked them out because they were the first Dungeons & Dragons books. I know many a fantasy geek latched on to the LOTR books as their scripture but I could never get through them. The Dragon Lance Chronicles would be my fantasy world of choice.

I really got pulled into the books and was taken by surprise when two of the main characters were killed. That was something new to me. Heroes, especially main character heroes, weren't supposed to die in fantasy books. This was the first time I got choked up about characters that existed purely on the page.

Hit up these other League Members

Shezcrafti loses it when Atreyu loses his horse
Grab a box of tissues if you ehad over to The Man Who Stares at Toys
Tophat Sasquatch talks about that damned scene in Up

You can see everyone who participated over at Cool and Collected

Jul 11, 2012

Happy Initialization Day, Programs!

...or whatever you call it when a new program is created. Since derezzing is the end, would initialization or rezzing be the start of electronic life? Anyway! 30 years (and two days) ago, TRON was released in just under 1100 theaters in the US.

I don't remember seeing it in theaters but it's been a presence in my pop culture consciousness for a very long time. As a young geek, I got to experience Pong as a home video game console. A console that only played a single game with no cartridges, can you imagine?

It was around '82/'83 when I got my first computer, a TI-99/4a. 256k RAM, baby! I bought computer magazines so I could manually copy line upon line of BASIC code to play games. I learned about hexdecimal code and sprites so I could change the ships in a Space Invaders knockoff to look like ships from Star Wars. There was just something about computers that grabbed me at an early age. Not to mention, computers were the "it" thing in the '80s.

If you think about it, computers were to '80s cinema what the atom age was to '50s cinema...the next big thing that could destroy the world!

I never had any of the toys. Maybe I was just too into Star Wars collecting at the time. I remember seeing the ads for the Tron figures and lightcycles and wanting to get them but for whatever reason I never did. Maybe they were hard to find?

Image from Neato Coolville
I remember creating a Tron-inspired game that I played with a friend. It was similar to Disc Wars but the goal was to get a Frisbee past your opponent, and not hit them with it! Each player had a plastic tube that was used to deflect/stop the disc from going past them. I also remember trying to teach myself to throw a Frisbee like they do in the movie...not so much success there. It would be another year until Return of the Jedi's speederbikes became the pretend vehicle of choice when riding bikes, but until then it was lightcycles all the way!

And the video games! I was an Atari kid but there were few times when I wanted an Intellivision so I could play the Tron games. Never had the one cart released for Atari. I played the arcade games a lot. I remember getting out of middle school and going to the mall across the street to play the Tron game. There was a tiny room near the back entrance that was about 10' across but it was long enough that they had five or six games in there. One local arcade had the step-in version of Discs of Tron which was awesome.

Discs of Tron stand in video game cabinet
Arcade games were often rotated out to make way for the latest and greatest. Soon, the last connection to Tron was gone and it moved on to that place in my brain that holds on to special things.

In 1994, ReBoot premiered on Saturday mornings and rezzed up memories from over 10 years ago. Ever since then, I'd always wondered why Tron was never made as an all CGI cartoon. In my mind, it was the perfect way to tell stories set in the same digital world. ReBoot ended in 2002 and still has a strong fan following today.

A 20th Anniversary edition of Tron was released on DVD in 2002. I devoured the special features which were previously only available on LaserDisc. New segments included peaks at the artwork for following year's PC game Tron 2.0. They also hinted at the possibilty of a true movie sequel. New Tron material after 20 years!

The PC game Tron 2.0, was considered to be a cannonical sequel until production for Tron: Legacy started. The game had a great story line although the hero was Alan's son instead of Flynn's. A series of four figures were released based on the game. There was a follow-up sequel done in comic book form called Tron: Ghost in the Machine, which is a sector of Tron lore I'd gladly reformat.

Tron 2 initial logo

The teaser trailer for TR2N was shown at Comic Con in 2008. It was a similar to the first Phantom Menace trailer: I had to find a bootleg version online and I watched it a whole lot!

I followed, and played along, with the Alternate Reality Game online. I won a few pins, a couple of postcard ads featuring Encom video games and an Encom employee photo ID badge complete with lanyard.

In October, our local AMC theater participated in a free 23 minute preview in IMAX 3D. There weren't a ton of people there but it what I saw got me even more excited for the premiere. Also, Marvel Comics released a two issue prequel titled Tron: Betrayal. It made a lot more sense after seeing the movie and having the proper context to place the new story.

I got the soundtrack when it was released and instantly fell in love with it. Daft Punk's melding of electronica and orchestra was just as unique as Wendy Carlos' original Tron score. It's a perfect album to put on to zone out or while working at a computer...which are not mutually exclusive. There was a remix album released a bit later and seemingly endless unlicensed  fan remixes.

Legacy opened on December 17th. My parents were taking us to DisneyWorld for Christmas that year and amdist the hubaballo of getting ready for a week long trip, I made my wife go with me before the trip because there was no way I was missing this in IMAX 3D! I loved the movie. I wish they'd been able to explore Tron a little more and it would've been great to see Cindy Morgan back.

Cindy Morgan Yori autograph

This year brings us Tron: Uprising. Finally an animated series! The show takes place prior to Legacy with Tron training a young program to take his place in the revolution. The show is scored by Joseph Trapanese who worked with Daft Punk for two years on the Legacy film score. Until I found this out, I had no idea it wasn't Daft Punk. I need a soundtrack from the show!

And that brings us up to right now. Word has it a new movie is being worked on but no details have come out yet. Maybe something will be revealed at Comic Con this week...

If you're still reading, I applaud you! I really didn't mean to go on at such length, this was really just going to be a Happy 30th. But as you can probably tell, Tron is one of my favorite movie franchises of all time. There's two Holy Grail's out there for me: the original board game and Kevin Flynn's White Identity Disc

Jul 9, 2012

Mail Order Monday - The Stuff Little Boys Dream Of

comic book ad switchblade knife frankenstein skeleton monster bb gun x-ray specs
Ad from 1971 comic
Seriously, what more could a young lad want out of life? 
Monsters, a secret stash, karate, guns, knives and superpowers!

That's an actual switchblade, not a switchblade comb! What were they thinking?

The two guns appear identical in description, not sure why the PPK costs a quarter more.

Jul 4, 2012

Happy 4th!

AEIOU would like to wish you a Happy and safe 4th of July, no matter where you live!

Head on over to Wonderful Wonderblog to download an album from 1961 called "America the Beautiful - The Heart of America in Poetry" spoken by Vincent Price!

Jul 2, 2012

Mailbox Invaders from the Cosmic Ark

 What better way to celebrate the 200th post than with some blogger goodwill?
For those playing along at home, AEIOU will also be a year old in 16 days!

A few weeks ago fellow pop culture blogger jboypacman posted some pics of his minifigure army on his site, Revenge from the Cosmic Ark. I commented that I'd have to track down one of the Character Builder astronauts to go with my Doctor Who minifigs (also made by the same company).

Jboy kindly offered to send me one of his spares and initially asked for nothing in return. A few days later he asked if I'd pick up and ship a couple of the sodas I'd been blogging about, which I was more than happy to do!

Here's the astronaut with my Doctor Who figs...and a few friends. While it's not part of the Doctor Who line, it fits in just fine as the Unknown Astronaut that assassinates the Doctor.

What I've failed to mention thus far is the size of the box he arrived in. It was much too big for such a small figure. Little did I know before opening, Jboy sent some extra goodies my way! There's nothing like opening a box you don't know the contents of!

An Avengers skateboard, MegaBlocks Spider-Man, a couple of Deck Dudes, a Character Builder knight, a stack of Weird-Ohs trading cards, a Hot Wheels Ecto-1 and a couple of Heroics figures. (not pictured) LEGO Statue of Liberty

But that was not all! 
At the bottom of the box, shrouded in bubble wrap something larger lurked. 
What I found was this beauty...
Bad photographer! Forgot to put something in for scale. It's about 9" long.
If you're having the same reaction I did, you're saying "Whoooaa, cool! But what is it?" It is the UFO Master Blaster Station (1979) by Bambino. I'd never heard of this toy but there is something about an LED display and that particular white plastic that just zaps you back to the 70s' regardless. 

According to the manual it was the world's smallest color graphic display and the first electronic computer game with a microprocessor! It's a pretty fun retro gaming experience. You have 80 seconds to shoot down as many UFOs as possible, with 99 being the top score.

The UFOs descend down one of  three "lanes" toward your missile base. You get more points the higher up the UFO is when you blast it. Of course, you can only have one missile at a time but you can guide it between the lanes to your target. There's 3 difficulty levels but I haven't tried the hardest one yet. Here's a gameplay video from YouTube.

Pretty exciting, huh? I love old school electronic games.
A huge thanks to Jboy for sending all this extra cool stuff my way!

Jul 1, 2012

Monthly Movie Recap - June 2012

Well, the good news is these monthly posts will be a lot shorter over the summer as I've landed a temp job. June was by far the biggest swing between amazingly awesome movies and amazingly bad movies. As always, clicking a linked title takes you to Amazon where you can order it and toss a few coins our way.

Under the Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story (2011)
It's almost like King of Kong but for Monopoly. One of the players is a grade school math teacher who breaks down probabilities of the game board to teach his class. The doc also discusses the history of how the game came to be which is pretty interesting. 

Cool: Narrated by Zachary Levi!; I could actually watch the full 40 minute video of the championship game and not be bored
Lame: Just like every other competitive game, there are some real weirdos
Rating: 8/10, if you ever wanted to be a Monopoly shark, watch the DVD extras