May 29, 2013

Star Wars Wednesday - Return of the Jedi Poster Compendium

Well, I wanted to get this up last week prior to the 30th anniversary of Return of the Jedi's release but had some technical problems with the upload site. In case you haven't seen it already, I did a post awhile back on my memories of the first time I went to see Jedi.

I'm pretty sure I had the Empire poster magazines but this one I absolutely remember having. This cover is kind of hard to forget! Except I had the US version, not the UK one.

star wars return of the jedi poster magazine compendium 1983

I didn't post the pages for this one because it's a giant size issue. Inside is a 75 question Jedi Master quiz and 50 facts about the movie. Not much to look at on a website, which is why I posted it so you can download it. Unfortunately, the person that scanned the Jedi poster books didn't scan the posters but you can see what they are on the last page.

May 26, 2013

Book of the Moment - Kill Factor

Click to order on Amazon
Kill Factor by Roger Vallon
Review copy provided by 711 Press
Available in e-book ($0.99 ) and paperback ($4.99)

Summary from Amazon
After going rogue and laying low on a farm in the Midwest, Hadrian Black, an ex black-ops soldier turned covert government agent resurfaces and seeks revenge against the company that made him what he is. With the aid of an old friend, and the schemes and resources of a new one, Hadrian faces off against the deadly agents of the multi-faceted corporation with a global reach known as Redrum Industries, which is also out to destroy him.

711 Press is striking out to do something different with their TV/movie books. They aim to give you a readable cinematic experience in about the time it would take to watch a movie or TV show. Because of this, everything is very trimmed down and streamlined. This style may not appeal to everyone, but as a fan of classic pulp adventures which focus on driving the story forward and intense action, I quite like it.

There's hi-tech gadgets, beautiful (and deadly) women, and a former black ops agent on the run from the secret government agency that created him. While it might sound familiar to Bond and/or Bourne fnas, I'm okay with that. It allows you to jump into the story easily without a lot of exposition and back-story to bog the pacing down. The opening chapter tells you all you need to know about the protagonist while showing off his skills against a group of assassins sent by his former employer, Redrum Industries.

The end of the book very much sets you up for the next part of the story. I hesitate to use the word sequel because if these were movies, I'd suspect they were filmed at the same time with the fore knowledge that the next would be released shortly after the first. It doesn't so much come to a conclusion as it feels like the end of Act 1. This also reminds me of classic pulps or serials because you almost immediately feel the need to see what happens next.

Considering the E-books are equivalent to a Redbox rental in time to consume and cost, I plan on checking out more of 711's offerings in the sci-fi and fantasy genres. 

May 24, 2013

Halloween Garage - Hot Wheels Arachnorod

There was such a glut with the last Halloween Garage post that I figured I'd give you a break before posting yet another that I found around the same time as the others.

Today's feature is the Arachnorod from Hot Wheels. It's had about 15 incarnations since debuting in 2000. Even though it has a giant metallic spider on it, the design never really appealed to me. This is mostly because of the color schemes that were used.
But this...this baby is pure Halloween!

hot wheels arachnorod halloween spider

First off, GIANT metallic spider! Next, it's mostly black, way better than any of the brighter colors they've done this in. Third, orange windshield and afterburners. Fourth, spiderweb graphics on the rear wheel wells. Lastly, purple and green highlights. That covers the major and minor Halloween colors. Absolute Halloween win!

hot wheels arachnorod halloween spider

It also looks a little Batmbile-ish, don't you think? It blows my mind that Hot Wheels can make something like this during the "off season" and completely blow the Halloween exclusive packs in October. Oh well, maybe 2013 will be better!

May 21, 2013

LEGO Minifig Guide & Series 9

If you're a fan of the LEGO blind bagged minifigs, you should check out the new Character Encyclopedia from DK Publishing. It comes with an exclusive Toy Soldier minifig.

LEGO minifig character encyclopedia
Click to order on Amazon

It covers all the minifigs up to Series 10 which just hit stores at the start of this month.
Each minifig is given its own page with a description and factoids.

LEGO minifig character encyclopedia

Thanks to the site Minature Trading, I was able to get the last figure I wanted from Series 9, the Fortune Teller. Here are the minifigs joining my Cabin in the Woods display cases.

First up is the Battle Mech. According to its bio, this is actually a giant robot that fights space monsters. I think he'd make a pretty cool airborne shock trooper.

lego minifig series 9 battle mech

I really like this Cyclops. He has a two sided head. The other side has his eye half scrunched like he's mad about something. Probably about getting photo-bombed! He also has another feature LEGO's been dabbling with lately, graphics on his back as well as front.

lego minifig series 9 cyclops

Although I force myself to stick to the sci-fi and monster minifigs to keep the collection under control, I can totally justify having a gypsy Fortune Teller in the bunch. In fact, the first thing that came to mind when I knew about her was that she'd be good next to the Werewolf minifig. She's one of my favorites in the whole line. She's got a little shawl on and check out the gold discs on her head wrap and different patterns on her lower half.
She also comes with two tiny Tarot cards!

lego minifig series 9 fortune teller gypsy tarot

Ok, who keeps bombing my photo-shoot?

lego minifig series 9 gyosy fortune teller jack sparrow pirate Caribbean tarot

Looks like some change is in the cards for you, Jack! I got him from Five Below as part of a Nintendo DS accessory pack for $1. You can't beat a buck for a LEGO minifig!

May 18, 2013

Key Party!

Last week I visited Witch City Consignment & Thrift in (surprise!) downtown Salem MA. They have a pretty much rotating inventory so you never know what you might find
on any given day.

Not sure how old this cast metal Porky Pig bank is but it's freakin heavy!
It's probably close to a foot tall.

And there's never a shortage of dolls that might try to murder you while you sleep.

You might be wondering what this all has to do with a blog post that sounds like a '70s swinger's night out. For years, I've thought it would be interesting to start a key collection and this is the place that has gotten me going. Ideally, I want to get an engraver and number each key so I can keep a log of its point of origin but for now, I'll keep track on the blog.

Here's what I found interesting out of a small box of $1 keys. In case you were wondering, keys are a pain in the ass to light and photograph due to them being shiny.

 ford mustang padlock diamond key

Starting on the left, there's a Ford Mustang key. Modern keys aren't much to look at, unless you buy a blank with graphics so this seems like a work of art.

The second one I'm not sure of but it has a couple of Chinese characters on it.
It's also got a couple of sharp teeth, which I don't see often.
Anyone able to translate?

ford mustang diamond Chinese key

In the middle is a MasterLock key.
I had a very similar one for a padlock that I used to lock up my Huffy bike.

Next is a Ford key but I'm not sure what model. The key holes are usually round or rectangular so the triangular hole on this one is pretty neat. I also like the inverted chevron and horizontal lines. It's not a galloping horse, but I think it's a great piece of retro art.

The last one looks like it might have gone to a locker because it has a number on it. The text says Cleveland, O.U.B.A (maybe?) but I couldn't turn up anything on that. I'm curious if the monocled, top hatted key was a mascot of some kind.

cleveland ouba key

Here's a couple more to start my collection. The one on the left I found in the parking lot at work. It might even go to something important.

The one on the right I got in the consignment shop in a box of $3 keys. The text says "nivia" but a search didn't turn anything useful up. It certainly looks a bit older than the others.

Got any keys around the house you don't need?

May 15, 2013

Star Wars Wednesday - ESB Poster Magazine Issue #4

Sadly this is the last of the Empire Strikes Back post magazines that I have in my digital stash. But the good new is I have a few Return of the Jedi ones, so those will start next week.

Issue 4 has a bit of a twist for its poster. It's not either of the cover images.

star wars empire strikes back poster magazine issue 4 1980

Although I wasn't into Starlog at such a young age, I was always fascinated by behind the scenes and special effects things that showed how they make movie magic.

star wars empire strikes back poster magazine issue 4 1980

In this spread, you get a retelling of some of the Battle of Hoth and a little edu-ma-cation about asteroids. Space was something else I was really into as a kid.

star wars empire strikes back poster magazine issue 4 1980

And here's your unexpected poster.
Like Issue #3, this is a great shot that you don't see too often.

star wars empire strikes back poster magazine issue 4 1980

May 14, 2013

League Post - Keep on Trekkin'

This week, the League of Extraordinary Bloggers challenges you to boldly go 
where no man has gone before...

Star Trek

Now, if you even kinda know me, you know I'm a Star Wars guy. I've never felt it's been an us vs them thing although I will poke fun when it presents itself. It's just that I never really got into it the way I did Star Wars. To this day, I've never seen a complete episode of TOS (that's the Original Series for you non-sci-fi geeks). My take it or leave it attitude toward this franchise can be traced back to one childhood event...

star trek motion picture movie poster

Maybe it was my obsession with Star Wars and sci-fi after '77 made me want to go see this. Let me tell you, no 8 year old kid should have to watch this movie in a theater when he's expecting another Star Wars. I was b-o-r-e-d!

One positive thing from childhood was the Power Records Read-Along comic book & 45, The Crier in the Emptiness. I had a few of these Power Records sets and there's just something about the voice acting and sound effects that stick with you forever. The cover art was done by comic legend Neal Adams and the story was written by Alan Dean Foster, who's no stranger to sci-fi or Star Wars. Here's a motion comic made from the set.
Keep an eye out for a Caucasian Uhura and African American Sulu!

I think the Animated Series was really my intro to the NCC-1701 crew. I watched TNG for a few years but didn't stick with it even though I really enjoyed it. I caught the first couple seasons of Voyager and tiny bits of DS9 and Enterprise. See? I give it a chance!

I went to the Star Trek Experience in Vegas before it closed, and I have the Borg teddy bear to prove it! Even though I'm a very casual fan, it was still very cool, especially the live action part leading up to one of the motion sim rides where your ship is attacked by the Borg.

I've gone back and seen all the movies over the years but never really got into them much, but there's no denying 2 & 3 are the apex of the series. I did see the Abrams movie, mainly because the trailers made it look more like Star Wars and I'll be going to see the new one too.

Here's what other League Members are reporting
Fortune and Glory (Days) shows off some new Kre-O figs
(more to come!)

May 10, 2013

Carmageddon, Calabrese, Creatures and Cards!

Hey there! Are you tooling around on a Friday night wishing you had something epic to do?
Well, I can't help with that, but I can give you a few things to help pass the time.

For today only, Stainless Games is offering the latest incarnation of their video game Carmageddon for free! If you've never had the pleasure of experiencing this classic, you're missing out! Where else can you run over pedestrians in a tricked out death machine?
Grab it free for the next few hours for iOS or Android.

Horror rock band (and personal favorite around here) Calabrese have released yet another music video. The track is from their latest album, Dayglo Necros and is called Coffin of Ruins. But, if you missed out on the previous two videos, Dead Don't Rise and Ghostwolves, I highly recommend hitting them up first. It's not necessary but it'll put the new one in better context for you. These guys are total goofballs, in the best way.

Have you ever sat around your home and thought "What this place really needs is some giant monsters on the wall to liven it up."? Well, the awesome people at Steam Crow have a Kickstarter for you! They're already 124% funded.

Lastly, the mail order trading card service Boxsome is giving away a couple of cool Iron Man 3 Funko Pop Vinyl toys this month. All you have to do to enter is place an order. And you can use discount code REDDIT to get 15% off your order.
Tell 'em I sent ya, they'll treat ya right.

May 8, 2013

Star Wars Wednesday - ESB Poster Magazine #3

Before we get to this week's Yoda-riffic poster magazine, I wanted to tell you about a new book that's being released in July: William Shakespeare's Star Wars! You can pre-order it in hardcover or Kindle flavors by clicking on the cover image.

From the Amazon page:
"Return once more to a galaxy far, far away with this sublime retelling of George Lucas’s epic Star Wars in the style of the immortal Bard of Avon. The saga of a wise (Jedi) knight and an evil (Sith) lord, of a beautiful princess held captive and a young hero coming of age, Star Wars abounds with all the valor and villainy of Shakespeare’s greatest plays. ’Tis a tale told by fretful droids, full of faithful Wookiees and fearsome stormtroopers, signifying...pretty much everything.

Re-imagined in glorious iambic pentameter—and complete with twenty gorgeous Elizabethan illustrations--William Shakespeare’s Star Wars will astound and edify Rebels and Imperials alike. Zounds! This is the book you’re looking for."

The cover to issue 3 of the Empire Strikes Back Poster Magazine is a little misleading with its promise of a giant Yoda poster, as you'll see.

star wars empire strikes back poster magazine issue 3 yoda 1980

I had a full size poster on my wall of the image on the far left.

star wars empire strikes back poster magazine issue 3 yoda 1980

The below section is pretty interesting because it appears to have parts of the script that weren't used in the final film. It's not uncommon for tie-in products, especially in movie novelizations, for an author to work from a different version of the final script because they have to get the product out before the movie has been finalized.

star wars empire strikes back poster magazine issue 3 yoda 1980

Here's the "giant Yoda poster." Granted you can't see much of him but
I think this is a great shot because it's not one you see very often.

star wars empire strikes back poster magazine issue 3 yoda 1980

May 4, 2013

League Post - Let's Get Digital

The League of Extraordinary Bloggers topic is relevant for me in more than it just being
Free Comic Book Day today:

Comic books

Before I get to the meat of the post, I'm going to give a bit of a preamble. It may be more accurate to call it a pre-ramble. Just to warn you, this may end up being a long post.

If there's one thing I've been collecting as long as Star Wars, it's comics. In fact, the two go hand in hand for me. Sure, prior to Star Wars I got the occasional comic at the supermarket and frequently when going along to the newsstand to get the Sunday paper. For some reason, I seem to remember being more into DC as a kid with books like Batman and SuperFriends. I don't remember which book I have a faint memory of seeing the Metal Men in but I remember thinking they were weird and cool. My point is, I never really "collected" comics until Marvel continued the story of Star Wars in comic form. Also, I was only 6.

That's right, Solo fought alongside a giant green rabbit! It was the 70s.
When I got a few years older I started hanging out in Riverdale, probably because I watched Archie cartoons. Then one day, I found a book that would change everything.
The book that introduced me to a new kind of comic character: the mutants.

Ah, for the simpler times when there was ONE X-Men book on the shelves
It was the exact issue above that introduced me to the Uncanny X-Men (and also the word uncanny!). I don't know why I picked up this particular book that day but it blew me away and got me really started on collecting comics. And much to my mom's chagrin, it had the same effect on my step-dad as well! I remember our weekly trips to the flea market and helping him go through comic boxes to fill in missing back issues. He read some of the stories, mostly anything with Wolverine, but morphed into a collector/investor.

I don't think I was into much else around this time. But it was the original Secret Wars that got me into other Marvel books. Most likely because we got multiple copies of Amazing Spider-Man 252 because we knew it would be a thing. And during Secret Wars II, I got crossover fever and started collecting all the titles after their crossover issues.

I stopped sometime in the 90s. Maybe I didn't like the new aesthetic, maybe I got tired of the annual mega-crossover events, who knows? I didn't pick up comics again until Dark Horse started doing Star Wars. I've collected every Star Wars title since then with a few other books like Top Cow's Battle of the Planets and BOOM Studios' Adventure Time.

All this is background to get to what I really wanted to post about...and partially to stretch the ol blogging muscles because I haven't had a chance to do it lately. To make a long story short (too late!), after collecting for so many years I've decided to go digital...mostly.

It wasn't something I decided on easily. Old habits are hard to break. I like getting the monthly Diamond Previews and seeing what's coming up. I've been visiting my local comic shop at least twice a month for 14 years. FYI , it's Harrison's in Salem, check em out if you're in the area, it's a fun place to browse!

The main impetus behind my decision? Space. We've been in our house 11 years and I have almost 6 short boxes full of comics covering that time. I know it doesn't sound like a lot, I have at least 9 long boxes in my parent's basement! Our basement, on the other hand, is not a comic-friendly place. Part of me feels compelled to finish out the Dark Horse run on Star Wars since the license will revert back to Marvel soon. Something that was inevitable once Disney acquired Lucasfilm.

The second biggest reason? I like to read the stories in arcs instead of month-to-month. This causes a 4-6 inch stack of comics on my nightstand for months and I have a considerable stack of "to read" novels there already. Plus, once I read the comic arcs, it's a chore to bag and box them all at once.

After getting myself a tablet, I had to ask myself a few key questions:

Why do I collect comics? I like the stories. And I've sort of conditioned myself to collect all the comics because it's really the only Star Wars thing I buy on a regular basis. I also recently came to the conclusion I collect them even if I don't care about the story, as long as it's a Star Wars title, I buy it.

Why do I keep them? I never, ever go back and reread the stories once they're in the box. Is it the possibility of reselling them for profit? Because it's a "collector thing"?

I realized I asked myself similar questions years ago when moving into the digital world of music as well. I now only buy physical CDs of a handful of bands. Sometimes I still have to fight that "gotta have it in my hand" reflex of growing up with physical media. This is one thing I envy about the generations growing up today, digital content is their way of life, whereas I will likely die without ever purchasing a digital-only version of a movie.

The Verdict
A compromise: I'm going to continue collecting a few physical comics so I have an excuse to get Previews and go to my comic store regularly. But because Star Wars generally has four titles a month, they take up space quick so I'll be switching those titles to digital.

See Other Bloggers in the Funny Papers
Toyriffic shows off some classic Plastic Man
Nerd Rage Against the Machine talks about a comic I need to check out
Something to do with comics instead of trashing them via Retro Toy Safari

May 1, 2013

Monthly Movie Review - April 2013

This is the shortest Monthly Movie Recap since I've been doing them. 
Who knew having a full time job would cut down so much on movie time?
As always, I appreciate your using of the links to shop Amazon!

*Wreck-It Ralph (2012) 
Still just as good at home as it was in the theater. There's some good features on the BluRay even though I was hoping for more coverage of all the Easter Eggs in the movie. When you pause the movie, Chris Hardwick comes on and points out some of them but there's only a handful of these informative bits. Also, where the hell is my Sugar Rush video game?!?

Lego Batman: The Movie DC Superheroes Unite (2013)
If you've already played LEGO Batman 2: DC Superheroes, you can probably skip this movie. It basically trims out all the mindless smashing and gives you the main story of the game.

Cool: Looks great in HD; other Justice Leaguers show up at the end
Lame: I still think Batman's a dick for having a kryptonite cache.
Rating: 6.5/10, possibly higher if I hadn't played the game. Kids should love it.

Noobz (2012)
This was actually better than I was expecting but I don't think it's a great movie. There are some really good pieces strung together with some ok stuff. Or maybe this is more of a movie for the young gamers.

Cool: The gas station scene with the little girl; Jon Gries (Uncle Rico) as a Billy Mitchell-like former Frogger champion is probably my favorite thing in the whole movie
Lame: Instead of making a generic game for the movie, they went all out and got Gears of War 3 so it kinda feels like a commercial at times.
Rating: 5.5/10

Month Total
 New: 2, Rewatch: 1

Year to Date
New: 36, Rewatch:1