Jan 28, 2014

Really Micro Machines

A few weeks ago, I had a geek swap via mail with the owner of Nerd Out With Me (name held to protect the innocent). He commented on the Grip-It controller caps in last month's Loot Crate and since I had a spare set, I offered to send them to him.

Totally unexpected by me, he said he had something Star Wars to send to me as well. You can't really tell from this blog but Star Wars takes up a large piece of my fandom pie. Here's what he sent...

In the enclosed letter, he told me that he worked at a movie theater back in 1997 when the Special Editions were released. The theater got this special Micro Machine set as a promo for customers and he happened to snag a few. Let's be honest, if you work anywhere that gets cool stuff for its patrons, you're gonna sneak a few for yourself!

I don't know if I forgot about this set or was never aware of it, but I don't think I've seen it before. As you can see from the LEGO minifig robot, they are very micro Micro Machines! In case you're squinting at your monitor, the box has the Millennium Falcon, Boba Fett's Slave I and the Death Star II, one ship representing each movie of the trilogy. I almost typed original trilogy but at the time these were made, there was only THE trilogy.

The sides of the box sport the gold ingot trilogy logo and the back says how Galoob is doing this set to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Star Wars and the Special Editions being released. It's a fantastic little set but I suspect it's going to remain in its sealed bag for now.

So thanks to (name withheld)! If you haven't go check out Nerd Out With Me. He puts up some fun movie challenges every week.

Jan 17, 2014

Comic Review - Disney Kingdoms Seekers of the Weird #1

This week brings the debut of the first Marvel-Disney joint comic book, Seekers of the Weird. The book is under the banner Disney Kingdoms and while they haven't announced any other Kingdom titles yet, I can't imagine we'll have to wait long to see some.

The story starts off introducing us to sibling teens Maxwell and Melody Keep. (I almost think the title should have been Keepers of the Weird but maybe that would be too on the nose?) They're your average kids, one a nerd and the other a jock respectively, worried about reporting mid-term grades to their parents.

Only the parents seem to have other things on their mind and leave the kids in charge of the family business, a curio shop on the bottom floor of their home called Keep It Weird. When the kids go to talk to them again, they find their parents under attack from bizarre, mismatched taxidermy animals. They try to help but the senior Keeps are spirited away by the creatures.

Preview image from CBR
The kids continue to put up a fight but a quickly rescued by the black sheep of the family, Uncle Roland. They receive a ghostly message demanding the "coffin clock" in return for the kidnapped Keeps. Roland leads the kids into their parents secret study and unlocks a door leading into the Museum of the Weird.

Roland tells them he has to collect a few things from the cavernous museum and it shouldn't take him more than three days! Max and Melody start exploring and encounter a few unusual objects and living statues. Before they can find too much trouble, a wounded Roland reappears telling them it's up to them to retrieve the coffin clock before passing out.

I really enjoyed the book so far, especially the "weird" visuals. I read a lot of Young Adult fiction and this falls right in that territory. There's plenty of hints dropped at a deeper back story that I'm sure will be uncovered in future issues. It feels a little Doctor Who in spirit at times as Roland is spouting off things that are meaningless to the kids as he drags them into danger. Or adventure depending on how you look at it!

There is a final page in the book that talks about the first meeting between Marvel and Disney staff to talk about doing a joint comic based on park attractions. This is why I'm pretty sure this is only the first Disney Kingdoms series. Just please, no Small World comics!

More importantly, it talks about the origins of the Museum of the Weird and the man behind it, Disney Imagineer Rolly Crump. The short version is that it was to be a companion attraction to the Haunted Mansion, collecting strange and mystical artifacts from around the world. You can read the long version over at Doombuggies.com. If you're a Disney-phile or just a fan of the Haunted Mansion, I highly recommend checking it out. Quite a few of Crump's concept designs can be found in the comic if you know what you're looking for.

Jan 14, 2014

Star Worriers

The past couple weeks have seen some Big News coming out of the House of Mouse regarding the future of Star Wars: 

Probably the least surprising of the recent revelations. I think most of us knew it was coming before the ink even dried on the purchase since Disney also owns Marvel. It only makes sense for them to take the reigns back before the next movie hits. The big question though, is whether or not Marvel will count the 20+ years of stories Dark Horse put out as being canon. Which leads to the next announcement...

This has just as much bad potential as good. The best thing that will come from this is getting rid of the ridiculous levels of canon. I've always found it a little odd that some books, comics, video games, etc. are "more valid" than others and that basically anything Lucas didn't have a hand in (or want to admit to) was second tier at best. The biggest fallout from this won't be known until they figure out what to do with everything that has come before now. Whether or not they make any fan-favorite characters/stories non-canon, I don't care. The stories will always be there if you want to return to them, much like the original movies.

I've seen arguments against this siting Crystal Skull as evidence it won't work. There are so many other things I would blame for Skull's failures before the actors. But how will they do? I'm sure Hamill is game for it, he's a fanboy at heart. I can't believe Ford is returning given how he loathes to talk about the franchise at all and Fisher...who knows? I'm not expecting any metal bikinis but will she be able to pull off what we want in Leia?

I've seen very little positive reaction online to all of these stories. Maybe I'm not looking in the right places but I'm seeing lots of frowny faces. I suspect most of these reactions are coming from "old guard" fans like myself that grew up along side the original Star Wars. And of course, that's fine. Everyone has their opinion and the right to voice it. But if you're poo-poo'ing a Disney TV ad using Star Wars, I think you're going to have a rough time for...well, probably the rest of your time as a Star Wars fan.

Chris Hardwick has been touting a new philosophy on recent podcasts suggesting people actually experience the thing they say they hate before hating it and I'm putting my tent in that camp going forward. Although a recent Nerdist News video found host Jessica Chobot making a crack about "ruining our childhood enough" after talking about Disney's plan to add more Star Wars to its parks. Haven't we all be asking for this since Star Tours opened?

It seems like the "cool thing" to do now is bash Disney's decisions for Star Wars. And I'd bet George Lucas is glad to be rid of that target finally.

No matter what Star Wars is "your" Star Wars, I say enjoy what you like and ignore the parts you don't. Heck, I even know people that refuse to believe the prequels happened. On the other hand, respect the fact that other fans may like what you don't and vice versa. In the end, we all found something in this shared galaxy that ignited some passion within us to make us love it so much. Nothing new coming out will change the memories you have from childhood, it just might make them a little harder to relive in hi-def.

Jan 7, 2014

Halloween Garage - Revenge of Rigor Motor

While most of the blogosphere is getting uber excited over the upcoming 2014 Hot Wheels pop culture vehicles, I was thrilled to find a new addition to the Halloween Garage so early in the year. I actually found this one in December when the first wave of 2014 started hitting pegs. And with this being the fifth (at least) version, it's in good company.

I give you the latest and greatest Rigor Motor...

hot wheels rigor motor 2014 front

 As with most redeco's (that's fancy collector talk for redecoration, which is when they re-release the exact same toy with a new paint scheme) the only differences are to the colors used. The main body is red metal flake, you can see the glittery effect better below. The flames are a nice touch and I like the subtle form of the flaming skull on the coffin lid.

hot wheels rigor motor 2014 rear

I have a couple of minor nits to pick with this incarnation. I don't like the grill/skulls in black, it makes it very hard to make out what they are at a distance. I'm also not a fan of the use of gold and silver. You know what, the more I look at it to figure out why I don't like the separation I realize it's the black that's throwing it all off for me. Something about it just doesn't sit right with me among the shiny metals.

Even in the card art, I don't think the black works all that well.

hot wheels rigor motor 2014 card

Jan 3, 2014

Holiday Haul Highlights

The holiday season may be over, but I got somewhere between 12" and 15" of snow dumped on me since yesterday. Most of the inside decorations are still up so there's a lingering of winter holiday still in the air. And since I'm home-bound for the day, I have time to finally share some of the wonderful pop culture goodies I received.

Doctor Who

I'll start with the Doctor, since he's had a lot of attention lately. The Weeping Angel is from Titan Merchandise. They have a couple waves of blind boxed Who mini-figures but the Angel is from the 6" line. I have a feeling my wife will end up regretting getting this for me, she does not like the Angels. To the right is the latest pack of Doctor Who Top Trumps, the popular UK card game, featuring characters from Seasons 6 and 7. Along the bottom is another UK card game, Attax, put out by Topps Direct. I also got a this wall calendar which was too large to fit into the photo and a pair of TARDIS sleep pants.

Jan 1, 2014

Monthly Movie Recap December 2013

Happy New Year! Break any resolutions yet?
I managed to fit in a few more holiday horror flicks before the year's end. I can't believe there are still some out there that I haven't seen yet!

What have you been watching? I'm always up for recommendations!
As always, title links will take you to Amazon where you can buy the movie if you like and help support the site (ie: me).

I Got Next (2011)
A documentary following some of the top Street Fighter players. I used to play SFII back in the day but was never anywhere near the level of these guys. It's not King of Kong, there's no real rivalry drama, but it can be interesting at times especially in the final rounds.

Cool: It's nice to see in the tournaments that even though the players are rivals there's no hate
Lame: Can get a little boring as there isn't much of a narrative
Rating: 6/10

I Am Street Fighter (2012)
Where the previous film was focused on the competitive players, this doc is more about the people who love the game and the buildup to Street Fighter 4's release. There is a little crossover with some of the players from I Got Next so it was neat having seen these one after another. There's also interviews with some of the people that worked on the game series, even the woman that created the sound effects.

Cool: This one is a lot more fun seeing how different people are into the game; Great music; The full movie is on YouTube (see above video)
Lame: Nothing
Rating: 7.5/10

The Conjuring (2013)
I'm torn on this one. I did really enjoy the 70s atmosphere and practical effects. And even though it delivers the creepy, sometimes it feels more "been there, done that" than it should. I know it's based on a true story but when Paranormal Activity has already done some of the scares, you can't help but think if it while watching.

Cool: Creepy ass doll; I was actually more invested in the investigators than the family they're helping
Lame: The use of the score. I really feel when things are happening, the score should be minimal to bring you more into the movie and the horror going on.
Rating: 7.5/10, might have been higher if I hadn't seen Paranormal Activity

Frozen (2013)
I think Disney took some chances with not sticking to the typical fairy tale/princess formula and it paid off big!

Cool: The movie is gorgeous from the icy effects to the set design and costumes.
Lame: Don't get fooled by marketing! The reindeer and snowman have minor parts, it's not as kiddie as it looks in the ads.
Rating: 8/10

Dear Dracula (2012)
This is more of a TV special than movie but I'm including it because I hadn't heard of it before and wanted to make people aware of it. It's a cute Halloween show suitable for the kids.
Rating: 7/10

Critters (1986-1992)
I'm lumping the whole series together. Believe it or not, I'd never seen a Critters movie until now! I really like the first two with the second edging out the first as my favorite. I think C2 is that perfect kind of movie you discover as a young teen. It's got a tiny bit of toplessness, sci-fi aliens, comedy and some gore. C3 was ok, I like that they confined it to a single building. And C4...I don't know what happened to the series here. This one was boring.

Ratings (in release order): 6.5, 7, 6, 3

Insidious (2011)
I was a little worried about this one as I thought it was going to be just another Paranormal Activity/Conjuring type of flick. Thankfully, I was wrong! They took it in a completely different direction than I was expecting and it was amazing.

Cool: The paranormal investigator guys; The whole "going to get the kid" sequence
Lame: You'll inevitably compare this to Poltergeist 
Rating: 8/10

Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)
Picks up minutes (maybe even seconds) after the first movie. Can't really say too much about it because it's so interwoven with the first one. I was surprised to find out none of this was planned out while they did the first one. I say it's a safe bet if you enjoyed the first one, you'll like this one as long as you don't try to think to much about why the spooks do what they do.

Cool: the Black Bride; If the first was Poltergeist, this one is Back to the Future 2
Lame: The main baddie from the first is almost nowhere to be seen
Rating: 7/10

Killer Holiday (2013)
I have a weird compulsion to see movies that happen at a carnival or amusement park. It's not often these movies are great and Killer Holiday keeps the tradition. The plot synopsis claims "a startling motive is revealed" but after watching it, I couldn't tell you exactly what it is. There are some good things, but it's not the plot or the acting.

Cool: The amusement park
Lame: This movie has possibly the biggest douche of a killer in cinema history, he's like the Criss Angel of slashers; The metal soundtrack/score doesn't fit the characters at all
Rating: 4/10, Redbox it if you must

A Cadaver Christmas (2011)
For a low budget indie zombie flick, this isn't half bad. It's funny and there's some decent gore.

Cool: The lead guy could be the next Bruce Campbell, he's got the jawline and attitude!
Lame: Not sure if the drunk guy is really drunk or mentally challenged
Rating: 5/10

Two Front Teeth (2006)
One of the oddest Christmas horror/comedies I've seen. This movie should be destined for cult status. It's awesomely bad! There are so many Christmas lyric references worked into the script I lost count.

Cool:  Evil, cannibalistic elves; Vatican sanctioned ninja nuns
Lame: The final fight is epic and laughable at the same time
Rating: 5/10

Jedi Junkies (2010)
I like these documentaries about fandom when they're done well and don't make us look like a bunch of people that have no life other than the movies we love. This one focuses on a couple of interesting groups of fans. Some teach lightsaber combat, some make fan films and one guy even crafts unique lightsaber hilts in steel.

Rating: 6/10

Month Total
 New: 15; Rewatch:0

Year To-Date Final Total
New: 94, Rewatch: 4

and just for fun...
2012 Year To-Date Final Total
New: 141, Rewatch: 16