Jun 26, 2014

June 2014 Loot Crate - Transform

Welcome to another Loot Crate unboxing photo shoot! The always amazing people at Loot Crate provided me with this box o stuff in exchange for a review and sharing it with you all.

The theme for this month is Transform, something I was pretty excited about when I heard it. Now, I can be a little fickle with my fandom. I watched Transformers from the start and love the G1 characters. The movie blew me away and I still count that soundtrack as one of my favorite albums. I stuck with the show for a bit after the regime change and took a shine to some of the new characters. But I've never been interested in the newer incarnations.

I still remember my stepdad showing me the toys for the first time. He knew someone overseas and had a large box of them sent over so I think I got to see them even before the cartoon premiered. It was such a radical concept at the time. Some of the robot forms suffered from their trans-form *cough*Megatron*cough* but they were still way cool.

Anyway, enough of my reminiscing, let's twist this box apart and see if we can transform it into some loot without breaking it.

June 2014 Loot Crate Mag & Button

I had to open this month's mini-mag to show off the full cover image because it's pretty cool. They made a Trans-Former out of the Loot Crate bus. The Loot Bot is also on the exclusive button. The first Transformery item is a Hexbug of Galvatron. He's got a little popup Decepticon emblem and fold out wings. I don't really get the appeal of Hexbugs but I think I'm way over the suggested age range.

June 2014 Loot Crate MLG

Here's some swag from Major League Gaming (MLG). There's some stickers to show your team support, a one month subscription to their GameBattle premium access and a sport wristband. I'd never heard of MLG before but it seems like a great organization. Anywhere that you can play video games competitvely and win prizes is a-ok in my book!

June 2014 Loot Crate Box & Sticker

Next is a blind boxed vinyl figure from the first Trans-Formers series by The Loyal Subjects. Who is hiding behind that Autobot sticker? Coincidentally (because I could have gotten a sticker with either emblem) it's an Autobot!

June 2014 Loot Crate Cliffjumper figure

Cliffjumper is one of my favorite G1 toys. I used to take him everywhere because he was one of the smaller ones that would fit in a pocket easily. Not only is Cliffjumper one of the rare chase figures in this series, he is the rarest of the rare! Odds of getting him are 1/96. He comes with a little stat card, which hearkens back to the back of the original toy packages and a weapon that he forgot for the photo.

He stands about 3" tall and has articulation at the neck, waist and shoulders. This is the first one I've had my hands on and I really like the style they used. It's kinda chunky and not quite Super-D.

June 2014 Loot Crate shirt

The last thing in the box is this awesome Marty McPrime mashup shirt. I joined Loot Crate a month or two after the Doctor Who Crate which had a TARDIS Prime Transformer/Who mashup shirt so I was extra happy to get this one. Not only did they recreate Marty's iconic pose but the background art is similar to the packaging used for the original toy line.

June 2014 Loot Crate Cliffjumper mug

Cliffjumper sez if you want to get swag like this in your mail every month, head over to Loot Crate and sign up. You can use code SAVE3 to save $3 on your order or use AEIOUWHY to save 10% on your subscription, whichever works best for you.

Jun 24, 2014

Thrift Store Vinyl

We hit the Witch City Consignment Shop again this weekend. While I don't usually check out the albums there, mainly because I feel like I need a shower after browsing through them, my wife was casually flipping through them and found something that caught my eye which was enough to get me to look through them all.

Before I get to the albums, here's a couple of shots of other random things in the store.

Thrift store skates

I didn't open the box to feast my eyes on the skates in this box, and I really should have to take a pic to go with the box. But that box is pure 70s awesomeness all on its own. I think the last time I roller skated was when I was still in middle school. I can still remember playing Pac-Man and the smell of the pizza they served there. It was similar to the pizza you'd get in the school cafeteria.

Thrift store dolls

I have no idea what was going on in the toy section that day. I just snapped a quick pic and kept on moving. No questions, no judgement. In the basket directly to the left were a pair of Donny Osmond dolls in different outfits. They were just bro'ing out casually.

Now on to the albums!

K-Tel Music Express

This one was actually my wife's pick. And the main reason is that it's a K-Tel release. Maybe it's a nostalgia thing, maybe it's just having something that has the K-Tel logo on it. Very important info in the upper left there. It's recorded in stereo but will play in mono. Whew! The album is actually in decent condition. I watched a TV documentary about the rise and fall of K-Tel last month that was pretty interesting.

K-Tel Music Express back

Being a compilation album, it's also an audio time capsule of 1975.
Just check out that track listing!

Zubin Mehta

I picked this one up because I collect versions of the Star Wars theme music. I always find it interesting to see what other themes are on an album because they always toss in some other sci-fi themes. This album is in ok condition, it will probably play.

Disney's Thrilling, Chilling Sounds

And this is the one that my wife initially pulled that got my attention. While I have this in digital format, I've never owned a physical copy of this Halloween staple.

Disney's Thrilling, Chilling Sounds closeup

You can see on the front someone did some doodling inside the lettering, which is a little disappointing. I mean, the sleeve isn't in bad shape considering it's about 50 years old! The album itself...I don't know if I'm going to dare and play it on the new record player we recently got. It's that bad looking.

Disney's Thrilling, Chilling Sounds sleeve

On the plus side, the interior sleeve is in pretty good condition and I'd imagine these are probably the hardest to find part of the album.

The Star Wars album was oddly $5 and the other two were $3 each, not too shabby.

Jun 14, 2014

Weekend Finds

We finally had some appropriate seasonal weather last weekend. My parents came up to visit and we went into Salem to walk around and do some shopping. First stop, as always, was the Witch City Consignment & Thrift. You may have seen me live tweet previous visits to this store because there's rarely a lack of interesting and unusual things to be found there.

Since we were there, I decided to poke around and see if I could add anything to the collection of keys I started over a year ago. After digging through a shoe box lid of $1 keys, here's what I came away with.

Locker & Windmill keys

The one of the left was a no brainer. I'm a sucker for anything that looks like it goes to a locker or a safety deposit box. It automatically has an air of mystery about it as you start to wonder who the key belonged to and what they had locked up. The one of the right I picked out because of the windmill. It's probably nothing more than the logo of the key company but it's something different. I mean, how often do people really look at their keys?

The last one I grabbed is pretty neat.

Dealership key

The flip side of the little card has some person's info on it (see below). But the first thing I noticed about it is that there's no area code with the phone number which means it has to be a couple decades old at least. Something else interesting is that the tag is for a car place but the key is clearly not one that goes to a car. When I went to photograph this one, I noticed the plastic tag actually had a few more cards inside it. Of course I had to open it!

Dealership key opened

Inside were two more Zarren Motors cards and two blank info cards. A quick Google search turned up an 80 year old David Wright who still lives in Melrose and formerly lived at the listed address. If I were more of of adventurous person, maybe I'd contact him to see if he recalls the key.

The shop had gotten in a large number of Hot Wheels since the last time I was there so I spent about 5 minutes going through them to see if there was anything to add to the Halloween Garage. If you've ever browsed pegs of Hot Wheels, you know it's a quick affair so spending 5 minutes should tell you just how many cars they had!

Hot Wheels Demonition: Evil Twin

What I found was a 2004 version of Evil Twin from a series called Demonition. It's got some very cool demonic artwork on it! The sides show three impish creatures doing the see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil poses. The roof has what I'm presuming is the same trio doing the exact opposite!

They all have removed their hands from their eyes, ears or mouth. Only now they look a lot more demonic with long horns sprouting form their heads.

Hot Wheels Demonition: Evil Twin roof

After the thrift store, we walked down the pedestrian mall. We passed by the only remaining local book store in town which appeared to be closed because its windows were papered over. But I noticed a table set up outside the door with some books. Despite the growing number of books on my 'to read" shelf, I can rarely pass by a table of them!, especially when they're $1 paperback and $4 hardcovers.

When I got to the table I saw a sign on the store that said they were closed for renovations, so that was some good news! I didn't find anything noteworthy in the "adult" books so I checked the 50% off kids book stacks and found something that, I'm not gonna lie, made me kinda giddy.

Space: Above & Beyond book

A junior novelization of an episode of the gone too soon Fox series Space: Above & Beyond. I absolutely loved this show when it was on. Even though I taped it every week, it was something I wanted to watch live. This was '95-'96 so there was no fear of internet spoilers but I enjoyed the show that much that I had to see new episodes ASAP.

After finding this one, I immediately tore through the rest of the stacks hoping to find #1 (or #3 and #4 as promised inside the cover) but no luck. When I got home, I hit up Paperback Book Swap and found not only #1 but two regular novels based on the show were available from other members. Ordered and on their way to me! I'm very happy to have found this kids book because it will get me to reconnect with the S:A&B universe again.

Jun 12, 2014

League Post - Look What I Can Do!

Ok, so my title isn't exactly on point for this week's League of Extraordinary Bloggers post, but I couldn't resist dropping a reference to one of the best things to come out of Mad TV: Stuart.

Here's what the League is looking for

Look what I made! Do you worship at the altar of MacGyver? Have you ever drawn a stick figure? Given birth to a child? Put together an Ikea product? 
Let’s see it!

While I have put together Ikea furniture (cursing like the Swedish Chef does not help the process), I decided to show off something that is potentially far more embarrassing. Today we're setting the WABAC machine for the early 80s, specifically the '81-'83 time frame.

I was in middle school/junior high at that time and did a lot of doodling then. I hesitate to call it drawing because that would imply I had some kind of talent for it. The same period that birthed the intergalactic adventurer Captain Blaze, also created another space-bound hero...

Spaaaaaaace Snaaaaaaaake!

You read that right, Space Snake! Please don't ask me to explain how a pre-teen boy creates these things. It was the early 80s, I was into comics and there were so many awesome cartoons on the three channels Saturday morning that it was a life decision which channels to watch if you didn't have a VCR.

Here is Space Snake's data file which was heavily inspired by the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe.

Space Snake stats

I have no explanation for the names. Harold and Lydia, what was I, 80? Why would the Galactic Federation take in a mutant snake and train it to be a soldier with a jetpack and laser gun? Who knows. Astute readers will notice his pistol bears a striking resemblance to the sidearm carried by the Visitors. And by striking, I mean if you squint really hard, it kinda looks like it. And it also establishes the creation time a little better.

My stepdad served in the USMC for many years (OOO-RAH!) and early in his career he got a sketch book and took it with him wherever he was assigned. He had friends at different bases contribute something to the book. There is some weird shiz in there, let me tell you. Anyway, I got hold of it one day and drew the first and only Space Snake comic strip in it.
Of course, it was an origin story.

Below is the first ever drawing of Space Snake. I keep it in a hard plastic trading card case that screws shut. You know, just in case someday he makes it big and then I can sell it for millions of dollars. Having said that, if any artistic readers want to use ol' Harold, I'm available as a consultant.

Space Snake (first)

Enough of my scribbles, here's what other Leaguers are doing
GI Jigsaw built his own Death Star!
Go quazy for Harley Quinn with Toyriffic's Playmobil custom figures.
Monster Cafe might be into wrestling, I'm not sure...

See what the whole gang is posting about at Cool & Collected.

Jun 6, 2014

League Post - Shelf Expression

I've been away from the League of Extraordinary Bloggers for a bit and am happy to be back this week! The topic is pretty straightforward this week...

Shelf Expression. Take a picture of your shelves, featuring a few of your favorite things.

The "correct" term for this is Shelfie. Yup, it's a thing!
Here are a couple Shelfies for ya

Bookshelf Pulp & SciFi

This is the SciFi/Pulp/TV tie-in shelf. The Star Wars books on the left are maybe 10% of all the Star Wars reference books I own. I just can't get enough info beyond the movies. But now that that whole Expanded Universe has been tossed out, do I still need these? There's also the multi-color trades of the original Marvel Star Wars series from the 70s/80s. Fun!

In the middle-ish are a few pulp reproduction books including The Shadow, Domino Lady, Doc Savage, Captain Future and an Eerie Stories. I absolutely love these because they reproduce the entire pulp as it was printed, including the illustrations and even the ads!

There's also the only physical Doctor Who novel I own: Forever Autumn which takes place on Halloween. And as you can see, there's a variety of Doctor Who things on the shelf too.

Bookshelf Spooky

And here is the spooky shelf! Starting on the left is my growing Gris Grimly collection. I highly recommend his Nursery Rhyme books if you've never read them! Although looking at Amazon, it looks like a lot of his older books aren't available. That's sad.

Next to those are a mixed lot of monster lore/field guide books. I've always wanted to have something like a Watcher's library filled with books dealing with all things occult and how to fight monsters. But lately those kind of books have been cranked out like nobody's business and there are too many to choose from.

Most of the right half is Halloween-eriffic! October Dreams is a great 650+ page anthology that will put your in a festive mood. I also suggest checking out I Luv Halloween if you like twisted comics. The book on the top (Stars, Spells, Secrets, and Sorcery) is one of my most cherished books. I got it at a book fair when I was in middle school (early 80s) and it was the first "magic" book I bought. Of course this was also around the time of the D&D/Satanism scare, which I also got into then (D&D, not Satanism).

What's on other League Members' Shelves?
Revenge of the Toy Box has the kind of storage space I dream about.
While Goodwill Geek has the more crowded shelves I'm used to.
You want monsters? Head over to Monsterfink's place!

And you can see the rest at Cool and Collected!

Jun 3, 2014

A Couple of Spooky Kickstarters

I always say it's never too early to think about Halloween. Actually, I always say there's no such thing as Halloween "off" season, it's a way of life! Summer may just be getting started but here's a couple of Halloween-ish Kickstarters you should check out.

Ghosts Love Candy is a sweet (pun intended) looking tabletop game for gobblin ghosts ages 8+. Even in the afterlife, you can still have a sweet tooth. Being incorporeal makes it a little difficult to consume candy though, so what can you do? Possess little kids on Halloween night and make them eat candy! Possessing a costumed kid lets you use their special ability to help yourself or mess with the other ghosts.

I think the artwork is a perfect fit for the game and it sounds like a lot of fun. And because the world needs more Halloween games, I've already backed them to get a copy. They're a little over halfway there with about a month to go.

The next Kickstarter may ring some nostalgia bells...

October Toys is trying to resurrect Skeleton Warriors, starting with Baron Dark! Not only do they want to bring these bony baddies back but they're 100% Glyos compatible! For those not familiar with Glyos, this means just about every part is removable and interchangeable. If they can rally some major support and bust through their stretch goals, they plan on making even more figures.

They've only got 20 days left to make $33k so if you want them to return, get on it!

Jun 1, 2014

Monthly Movie Recap - May 2014

Another month done already? I feel like I'm putting these monthly posts out every other week! I haven't' mentioned Letterboxd in awhile, so if you need a place to record/review/talk about the movies you watch and don't have enough social networks to do it on, c'mon over to Letterboxd and follow me.

Legends of Oz (2014)
This is somewhat based on the novel Dorothy of Oz written by L. Frank Baum's great-grandson. This isn't like most modern animated movies I enjoy, there's very little for the adult crowd in it. It felt like a completely different universe but that's probably because I'm used to the original. Overall, it was ok but I wouldn't recommend it unless you're taking kids.

Cool: Some of the cartoony stuff is fun
Lame: There's a bad guy in the real world trying to get people to leave their tornado trashed town, but they never really give a reason why. Does he want to build a new mall? Dorothy's voice gets annoying after awhile because she's using the "talk to little kids/dog" voice.
Rating: 4/10

Wizard of Oz at Symphony Hall

*The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Another viewing of the classic, but this time at Symphony Hall with the Boston Pops providing the music! It was an amazing way to see the film. I really hope they can someday do Star Wars like this.