Apr 27, 2013

Mailbox Invaders - Loot Crate April 2013

I'd been wanting to check out the geek subscription service Loot Crate for awhile now. As part of my "spending celebration" for getting a job I plunked down for 3 months worth of deliveries. If you do more than 1 month at a time you end up saving money.

Each month's crate has a theme to it and when I saw April's was "token", as in arcade, I was in! Although I'm still sad I missed the Star Wars and Doctor Who Crates recently.

Here's what I ended up getting.

The Crate (after being opened)

After digging out the cool stuff, I noticed the bottom of the box...

I know, I know. You're screaming "What's in the box?!" like Brad Pitt by now...

loot crate april 2013 token arcade video game street fighter mario

  • A couple pieces of "arcade candy."
  • A Mushroom Kingdom cinch bag. The inventory card in the box tells me this bag was available as a prize at arcades that had sit down 1 vs 1 Mario Cart games.
  • Street Fighter Guile Vs Bison keychain. The back has a move for each character.
  • Street Fighter Blind Boxed Vinyl Figure by KidRobot. I got E Honda. I would have preferred almost any other character!
  • A game token from 8-Bit Zombie
  • And my favorite thing...
loot crate april 2013 token arcade video game space invaders candy tin LEGO alien

A Space Invaders cabinet candy tin! The LEGO aliens weren't included, but the candy inside is in the shape of our favorite pixelated predators. This will be going right next to my other cabinet tin for Pac-Man. I hope this company keeps making more. I want a mini-arcade!

The Verdict
Do I feel like it was worth what I spent? Absolutely! I was fairly certain I'd enjoy this month's delivery because of my love for classic video games and arcade culture. Plus, the experience of discovering what's in the box as you open it is a lot of fun. There's only a couple things I totally love in the box but the rest will probably find its way to other bloggers.

Will I keep subscribing? That's up in the air. I'm still good for the next 2 months so we'll see.

I think what I'd prefer is to have a subscription but then being able to opt in when you find out the theme. For example, I still have 2 months left and I could pass or use 1 month when the theme is announced so that I could save it for something I know I'll really like.

So, if you think you might want to check out Loot Crate, head over to their site using this link and if enough of you sign up, I get a free Crate. Everybody wins! You can also scope out the site and see what goodies were shipped in previous months to help you decide.

You definitely get value for your coin, it's just a question of will you like what you get?

Apr 24, 2013

Star Wars Wednesday - ESB Poster Magazine #2

The second issue of the Empire Strikes Back poster magazine is all about the bad guys.

Back in the day, we fans had few resources available to further explore the world of the movies. There was a Fan Club newsletter, named Bantha Tracks, that came out quarterly which was usually 4-8 pages. And most of the space was dedicated to interviews with cast and crew, special effects behind the scenes or progress on the next movie.
Not much room to get into detail about the galaxy far, far away!

star wars empire strikes back poster magazine 2 darth vader cover

Even the heavy hitters of magazine at the time like Starlog or Famous Monsters of Filmland were generally more about the cast/crew and how the movies were made. So when something like these poster magazines came along, they were a treasured source of information.

star wars empire strikes back poster magazine 2 darth vader

Even the trading cards could be a good source of trivia to test your friends. Things like the below pages are what I loved as a kid because it helped build my encyclopaedic knowledge. Even decades later I still recall things that I have no idea just how I learned.

star wars empire strikes back poster magazine 2 stormtrooper probe droid at-at walker tie fighter executor star destroyer bounty hunter
And seriously, you can't get a much better poster than this...

star wars empire strikes back poster magazine 2 ig-88 ig88 boba fett

Apr 22, 2013

Hallmark 2013 Halloween Ornaments

Unless you were traversing a pocket dimension playing matchmaker or off defending the frontier from Xur and the Ko-dan armada, you know last week was pretty eventful here in Massachusetts. Thankfully no one I know was directly affected by the events. And for future reference, Reddit will get you more accurate unbiased news than any broadcast network.
I'm not here to blog about that, but instead put it behind us.

We recently received our Hallmark Dreambook in the mail. For the uninitiated, it's like the Sears Wish Book for upcoming Hallmark ornaments. While there are plenty of pop culture inspired ornaments coming this year (no big shock), I wanted to share the Halloween ones.
There's just a little over 6 months left!

2013 Hallmark Halloween ornaments black cat pumpkin witch skeleton

As much as I love horror movies and scaring the pants off people Halloween night, Halloween for me is really more about the whimsy of it all and getting back to childhood.
I like that Hallmark has been doing Halloween ornaments every year that capture that spirit.

The Stand-Up Skeleton in the bottom right has to be my favorite. I can only imagine the corny jokes he will tell when you press the button. Next would have to be the bat and other skeleton. It'd be cool to get a bunch of the bats and put them all over a Halloween tree.

If you're a member of the Hallmark Club, you can also get special exclusives every year. And they just happen to have a Halloween/Wizard of Oz crossover one this year, the Halloween Wicked Witch of the West by Madame Alexander. We're also big Wizard of Oz fans in this house, so even a Scarecrow would know she'll be coming home with us too!

2013 Hallmark Halloween Wicked Witch of the West Madame Alexander

Apr 17, 2013

Star Wars Wednesday - ESB Poster Magazine #1

It's been a long time ago since the last Star Wars Wednesday. With me being short on blogging time as of late, I figure it's time to bring it back for awhile! Plus, for someone that's been into it since '77, I sure don't blog about it much.

Hey, remember poster magazines? No? What are you, young or something?
Anyway, the term "magazine" is a bit overstated with these. What you got was a fold out poster with stuff printed on the back and folded in such a way to make it appear like a magazine. Random thought: I remember folding paper in middle school to make "mini-books", sometimes they'd be comics and other times they'd be pretend D&D spell books. Yep, I got into D&D in middle school. Nerd Alert!

For your viewing pleasure, here's the Empire Strikes Back #1.
I do have a few more of these that I'll be posting. Would you prefer being able to view them in hi-res on Flickr (like this one), me putting it up as a download or both?
Let me know in the comments!

star wars empire strikes back poster magazine 1 1980

star wars empire strikes back poster magazine 1 1980

star wars empire strikes back poster magazine 1 1980

And here's your poster

star wars empire strikes back poster magazine 1 1980

Apr 15, 2013

State of the Site - April 2013

Hey there faithful blog reader!

I wanted to pop in quick and lay down the skinny on what's going on 
behind the scenes here at AEIOU, ie: my life.

After being unemployed for the past 7 months, I am finally working again, even if it's only for 3 months right now. The current schedule is good but the commute can be 60-90 minutes each way. It adds up daily and seriously cuts into "free time" which is also blogging time.

So for the next few months, it's likely I won't stay on my M-W-F schedule I've been mostly holding to as of late (if you even noticed!). I'll still jump on a League post when I can and try to keep up with the regularly scheduled zaniness that is my other posts.

I'm not going anywhere. 
I'm still around, reading your blogs, and hanging around on Twitter at night.
And if you're a fellow blogger and/or Twitter converser: thanks for being in my virtual clubhouse! It's good to have cyber-pals to interact with when you feel down.

Don't forget this Saturday is Record Store Day, so head out and see if you can find that limited edition vinyl Steak Disco LP. (inside joke)

Apr 13, 2013

Mailbox Invaders - Trading Post Success

Thanks to the recent League of Extraordinary Bloggers post where we all put up stuff for trade, I got more than I bargained for. Literally!

I set up a trade with Jboy from Revenge of the Cosmic Ark to get a couple of LEGO minifigs and one of the new Battle Beasts figures. What did I get?
A box full of frickin awesome is what!

LEGO Hot Wheels Atari Battle Beasts Secret Saturdays

Just look at all that goodness! To start, he sent the two Atari Hot Wheels that I've been hunting all over for to finish the set. My wife recently went out to CO and I had her looking out there too. The Secret Saturdays was a favorite cartoon of mine since it debuted so it was cool to get this little set. The figures are neat considering they're only a couple inches.

I don't know if this Corps figure is a pilot, astronaut or some kind of android but he can pop and lock like nobody's business!

Activision Barnstorming LCD game from Burger King

I might open this and see if the battery still works.
As a first gen Atari kid, it's cool to have for the Activision artwork alone.

battle beasts mini mates snake walrus

These guys are from the latest incarnation of one my childhood favorite toy lines, Battle Beasts. I was very against the idea of these from the start because they were so different from the toys I collected. Also, I just don't like Mini-Mates as much as LEGO and Playmobil. Both of these guys have holes in their back so they can wear their weapons, which is a genius idea.

The snake is by far the better of the pair, he succeeds in all areas where the walrus fails. The walrus is an odd shape and that means using a Mini-Mates base body and putting custom pieces on them. I seriously cannot pick this figure up without at least one part coming off. I don't understand why they think he needs all that articulation if it means body parts falling off constantly.

Anyway, a huge thanks to Jboy for hooking me up with all this!
You can see what I sent him on his blog.

Apr 10, 2013

Thrift Store Books

Ok, so I may have become addicted to hitting Savers on a regular basis to see what kind of good cheap stuff I can find. The latest round netting me some cool books and a surprise.

I was beyond thrilled to find I Am Legend was not a movie tie-in book like the cover would have you believe. It has the original title story and other shorts by Matheson. I've been wanting to read the story for a long time because it's what the movie Last Man on Earth, one of my favorite Vincent Price flicks, is based on. And also Chuck Heston's Shirtless Man...oh I mean Omega Man. Are we sure Heston isn't related to McConaughey? Three movies based on the same story, that's pretty impressive!

But, Scary Stories was the real find here. I would have picked it up anyway because I only have audio versions of the series. I think I missed these books by a generation when I was young because I only discovered them within the past decade when my love of Halloween and things spooky really kicked in. I had grabbed it off the shelf to check the print date,
as if the $3.50 cover price didn't make it clear it was an older book,
and found this when flipping it open...

alvin schwartz autograph

Is it authentic? I have no way of knowing but I also don't have much reason to believe someone would fake an autograph in a children's book so I'm going with it being real.

Last was this pair which I'm not sure if I knew even existed.

They're based on the Lone Wolf series of gamebooks from the late 80s/early 90s. What's a gamebook? It's like a Choose Your Own Adventure book except with a random element to the fighting. This series was great because you played the same character throughout the story, levellng up from book to book and picking new skills.

These are novelizations of the events that happened in the Lone Wolf series. Lone Wolf was a big favorite of mine to the point where I picked up the somewhat recent RPG books put out to get more info about the setting. What I didn't realize when I grabbed books 2 and 3 from the series here is that there are 12 books in total! I probably won't be able to track them all down and may end up putting them on Paperback Book Swap, which is a great site for swapping your old books for new to you books with other people.
That is, if you're like me and still enjoy holding an actual book.

Apr 8, 2013

Mailbox Invaders - Boxsome!

Hey, have you heard of Boxsome? It's a cool new mail order site run by Tommy of Tophat Sasquatch. For the low price of $7, you can pick two wax packs of 80s trading cards and he tosses in a bunch of other cool stuff like pogs, stickers and loose trading cards.

Unlike some other sites, there's no subscription, you just order when you want. And since you get to pick your own card packs you know you're getting something you'll really like.

I recently snagged a couple packs of Topps' Dinosaurs Attack! and here's what I got.

boxsome nostalgia pack dinosaurs attack

In addition to my card packs, I got a couple of Darkwing Duck sticker book stickers, a few Pogs and other assorted cards. Love that Donkey Kong sticker! Of course I had to open the card packs, I mean, why else would you buy them? I also learned a couple things...

dinosaurs attack bubble gum

After 25 years of sitting in the pack, the gum is not your friend. (I'm not sure if it ever was but I was kinda looking forward to chomping on a piece of childhood. You never forget that taste.) I'm not sure what the brown spots are on the gum but...ew. Whatever chemical breakdown the gum experienced has also infected the card below it.  Also, the gum has caused all the cards to warp a little bit, nothing putting them under a heavy book won't fix.

If you're not familiar with Dinosaurs Attack! it was inspired by other gory sets Topps had done in the past, especially Mars Attacks! For whatever reason, in 1988 the idea just didn't fly with the public. Collectors on the other hand, knew something cool when they saw it.
Comic publisher IDW recently announced their plans to do a new comic series.

dinosaurs attack topps 1988

Here's a closeup of some of the cards I got. The backs of the cards vary: some have news reports, some have captioned photos and some have army dispatches but they all help tell the story of the reptilian raiders.
If you want to see the whole set, check 'em out on Flickr.

Apr 5, 2013

Halloween Garage - Return of Rigor Motor

Well, wouldn't you know it. The very next day after I picked up three new rides for the Halloween Garage, I found another one! This one was found at a local closeout chain called Special Thoughts. Oddly enough, it's also where I found the last two cars of the same make.

As I mentioned when I picked up the last two, this is a great Halloween themed car. How can you go wrong with a coffin on wheels? It's clear this design was influenced by The Munsters car Dragula. Plus it's got skulls on either side of the radiator and a giant bat hood ornament.

hot wheels rigor motor coffin skull bat toy car

I think I'm going to start hunting down more variations of this car even if the color scheme isn't exactly Halloween in nature.

Apr 3, 2013

League Post - Welcome to Bartertown!

This week's League of Extraordinary Bloggers topic came to us from Team Hellions:

League trading post.  Post an item (or items) you want to trade or sell. 

I've already got a few things listed on my Yard Sale page that I'll gladly consider
working into a trade.

I've got some SuperHero Squad figs and Lone Wolf books up on Ebay.

And on the Toy Trading page are my have/want lists for minifigures including blind bagged stuff like LEGO, Playmobil and Character Building along with SLUG Zombies.

So take a look and see if anything takes your interest.

What else am I looking for?
Character Building Monsters vs Zombies figures
Monster in My Pocket figures and character trading cards
(I have a few spare cards to trade as well)
Creature from the Black Lagoon
Retro Arcade themed stuff
** Hot Wheels Atari 2600 van & Centipede car  **
Vending machine minifigure toys
Halloween-y stuff
Interesting decks of playing cards
Odd Star Wars items

Just this one week, I'm forgoing posting links to several of the other League members because you should really see what everyone has up for grabs. Check out the comments on the original post at Cool and Collected.

Apr 1, 2013

Monthly Movie Recap - March 2013

It's no joke, this is the March Movie Recap!
As always, clicking on a linked title will bring you to Amazon to order it.
If you're looking for something else, use the search box to the right. 

Sheena (1984)
The film that won Tanya Roberts a Razzie Award (she was only nominated for A View To A Kill). This movie is what I imagine an Aquaman movie made in the 70s would have been like. You know, if it was in the jungle instead of underwater and Aquaman was a hot woman that wore next to nothing and was occasionally nude.

Cool: The only reason to watch this is for Roberts; Might be "good" with Beastmaster
Lame: During the final battle, Sheena uses her animal communication to have flamingos attack the bad guys. Flamingos! And it's hilarious.
Rating: 4/10, did you know there was a TV series with Gena Lee Nolan?

Jack the Reaper (2011)
A bus of high school teens on a weekend field trip (wtf?) wrecks in the middle of the desert where "accidents happen all the time" even though it's a stretch of straight road. When they come to, they decide to check out the nearby carnival until help arrives. Movies set in/around carnivals are my second favorite extremely specific sub-genre of horror. Sadly, there aren't a lot of good ones.

Cool: A lot of it takes place at a carnival. I like carnivals.
Lame: Tony Todd barely has a cameo; The kills are ho-hum; As a fan of horror, the "twist" ending just doesn't make the movie worth it, it's been done before and much better.
Rating: 3/10, the concept of the character Jack is interesting, they should have made this more of a mystery for the kids to figure out instead of having them get chased around.

Death Race 3: Inferno (2013)
The original Death Race: 2000 is one of my favorite cult movies so when the reboot was announced, I was totally against the idea. But you put Statham in it and I'm there! I've actually taken a liking to this series as it's gone on, even though 2 & 3 are prequels to the first one. I really dig the video game/reality show aesthetic.

Cool: Plenty of racing and stuff blowing up; 16 girl caged deathmatch; Danny Trejo; Ving Rhames
Lame: The plot and acting aren't always the best, but that ain't what I'm here for
Rating: 6.5/10, I'm ready for more Death Race!

Creep Van (2012)
This is a weird little low budget horror/comedy that's not always intentionally funny. Not only does the killer murder people but he's tricked out his van to help him do it. It definitely falls into the "so bad it's good" category.

Cool: Great gore effects and some amusing kills
Lame: There's never any clear reason given why the killer is doing what he does but I guess when you're a psychopath with a murder van, you don't need one.
Rating: 5/10, If they had somehow made the van sentient and removed the human killer it would have been awesome!

Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)
Although they weren't allowed to directly tie this to the original film, it will definitely change how I watch it in the future. I was thrilled to see they included the doll people from the book, even if it's just the one China Girl.

Cool: Saw it in IMAX 3D and parts of it were like an amusement park ride; 3D very well done!
Lame: Oz never seems to quite hit the spot where his character changes his ways
Rating: 8.5/10, Is Franco becoming the new Depp?

Chrome Angels aka Cyborg Conquest (2009)
A bad girl biker group robs banks. They hole up in a town not on the map before making their way to Mexico and find the town is populated with...androids?

Cool: It's sad when all I got here is Stacey Dash
Lame: The plot is ludicrously silly; the effects look like they were done on a bargain PC
Rating: 4/10

CAUTION: This is a RED BAND NSFW trailer!!

FDR: American Badass (2012) 
Beyond the trailer, I can't even explain how insanely off the wall this flick is. You'll either love it or want to shut if off after 10 minutes. I never would have known about it if not for Shezcrafti's post about it. Thanks!

Cool: Ray Wise! Ahmed Best has a small part; ass-kicking FDR
Lame: FDR (yeah, bad joke)
Rating: 6.5/10

CAUTION: Red Band NSFW trailer

Sorority Party Massacre (2013) 
Well, it's not much of a party or a massacre but it can be fun at times. The opening is a great Scream homage which I was hoping would set the tone for the rest of the movie having a killer with character but no such luck. The rest of the kills aren't as much fun because we're usually finding the aftermath along with the characters instead of stalking the victims with the killer. But what this lets them do is toss every twist they can into who the killer really is.

Cool: The montage introducing the girls (despite the fact that most of their 'skills' don't matter); the detective is a fun character; brief appearances by Richard Moll, Kevin Sorbo and Ron Jeremy.
Lame: There's maybe one or two too many twists to the killer reveal
Rating: 5.5/10, I was really hoping for more of a fun boob- and blood-fest like Piranha 3D

Constantine (2005)
Overall, the movie was pretty cool. I really enjoy the world it takes place in, it feels like it could be in the same universe as Hellboy which is good considering it's also based on a comic.

Cool: All the supernatural stuff; Rachel Weisz
Lame: Feels like they had two story ideas and couldn't decide which one to go with
Rating: 6.5/10, sticking with the plot gets a little confusing

Spiders (2013) 
Where a lot of similar movies would probably be tossed into the "it could be a SyFy Originals" pile, Spiders really succeeds at being a modern day good ol fashioned monster movie. A lot of the things I'd normally rip on the movie for just make it feel more like an update to the 50s/60s monster movies.

Cool: The Spiders actually look cool; There's some awesome shots when the queen gets loose and the Army is trying to stop her with helicopters, tanks and bazookas that totally makes it feel old school.
Lame: All the spiders seem to have it out for the main character and his family going out of their way to pursue them; The NYC street scenes look like they were shot on a backlot
Rating: 6/10, it's a fun flick!

Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan (2011)
In addition to the interviews with Ray himself and some of the biggest names in the biz, you get to see some of the original puppets and rare behind the scenes footage.

Rating: 10/10, if you're any kind of fan of special effects in movies and/or Ray, this is a must see

Chupacabra vs The Alamo (2013)
More like Hairless Chihuahuas vs the Alamo. The only way I can get through most of these SyFy Originals is to live tweet it with other people. Here's a couple of my tweets to give you an idea how bad the movie is
  • It's sad when you have to green screen your actors in front of the landmark where the movie takes place
  • I guess if you don't know the proper way to reload an antique rifle, it will just work for you anyway.
  • That chupacabra just had a Twinkie Wiener Sandwich...minus the Twinkies!
  • Possibly lethal creature. Let me holster my gun and get out the camera.
Cool: Estrada actually looks pretty good and not in the "I've had a lot of work done" way
Lame: The creatures are CGI but move like stop motion?
Rating: 3/10, SyFy claims it's a horror/comedy but the comedy comes from it being a bad movie

My Neighbor Totoro (1988) 
I don't often get to use words like magical, endearing, touching and delightful when talking about movies because I'm usually watching a horror or sci-fi flick but Totoro is definitely all those things. Thanks to a Facebook post from Shawn at Branded in the 80s, I decided it was time to get some Miyazaki under my belt and I'm so glad I did.

Cool: This is just about a perfect kids fantasy movie as you could want; Even though I watched the English dub, it never felt like a dub
Lame: Why has it taken so long for me to see this?
Rating: 8.5/10, I kept getting a Pan's Labyrinth vibe from this. I think if Del Toro did a kid friendly movie it would be something like this

Month Total
 New: 13

Year to Date
New: 34, Rewatch: 0