Apr 28, 2016

April 2016 Loot Crate - Quest

It's dangerous to go alone, take this Loot Crate!
April's theme is Quest and whether you're trying to rescue a younger sibling from the Goblin King or get challenged to a Viking drinking contest, they've got you covered.

I've been playing around with a chromakey app for these photos to make them a little more exciting than the usual plain green background.

The booklet has a couple of recipes for "Tiamat Punch" and "House Cup" drinks and a guide for avoiding quests. It seems to be getting a little heavy with self-promotional ads as Loot Crate now offers several other sub boxes like Loot Anime, Loot Gaming, Firefly Crate, and Loot Pets.

The pin is a d20 on a shield. The pin unlocks a companion in the Neverwinter Nights MMO: a gelatinous cube! There's something I'd never have considered as a companion.

We'll kick things off with a mini-poster for Uncharted 4. Not much to say about this as I'm only barely passingly familiar with the game series.

Next is a pair of Harry Potter horcrux socks, just the thing to keep your piggies warm while searching across the land for mystical objects.

The other object is a little hard to see unless you click for the larger version. It's a d20 silicon ice mold. The "cube" it makes is probably a little bigger than a golf ball. The instructions say to fill it only 90% with water which is hard to do when you put the top on. Anyone know why? Anyone? That's right kids, when water freezes it expands which makes it a bit of a challenge to get it out of the mold.

It doesn't photograph well...heck, it's hard to see it in real life. But it does actually make a d20 shaped ice polyhedron!

From the History Channel's Vikings, and Chronicle Collectibles, comes a 1:2 scale drinking horn. In case you're wondering how you're supposed to put down a pointed drinking vessel, it comes with a neck strap.

And finally is this awesome Labyrinth shirt in tribute to David Bowie. Granted it's one of the movie posters and not a new design but it's Labyrinth!

If you turn the box inside out, you get an a-maze-ing surprise!

Overall, this Crate didn't quite fulfill its Quest for me. It sort of got to the ruins after the real adventures had already been there, killed all the monsters, and taken almost all the treasure but didn't find that one secret compartment in the floor that was stashing a little bit of loot.

If you want to get sweet swag dropped on your doorstep every month, head over to Loot Crate and sign up! Use code AEIOUWHY for 10% off any subscription plan.

Loot Crate supplies me with product every month in exchange for a review and/or promotion on social media.

Apr 26, 2016

Hallmark 2016 Dreambook

The birds are singing, flowers are sprouting. Spring is in the air!
And it's once again that time of year when Hallmark sends out their annual Keepsake Dreambook that previews some of the upcoming holiday ornaments for the year.

I'm going to run down just a few pages of neat-o pop culture related things you can hang from, or put atop, your Christmas tree. Or whatever winter holiday related plant you may have in your home.

Hallmark once again flips the bird to collectors by making some really cool ornaments only available at Comic Cons where you can wait in line for hours and still not get one. Exclusive ornaments are what got me to stop being all in on Star Wars ornaments. Thank you, Hallmark for saving me money and space.

I can't even begin to image how much the Prototype Boba Fett is going to go for on the secondary market. I'm guessing $100 for the low end.

Continuing the Nightmare Before Christmas series is Dr. Finklestein. Next to him is The Muppets' Electric Mayhem tour bus which plays a snippet from "Can You Picture That?" I would have gone with "Movin Right Along" but that's just me.

And then we have three more additions to the Chevy Chase collection. Not really a thing, but they seem to be cranking out at least one Vacation and one Caddyshack ornament every year now. The gopher is one of those solar mover things.

Ladies and gents, I present to you Bugs Bunny from "What's Opera, Doc?"! Possibly the first and only time you'll see an ornament with a male cross dressing character. Although I'm not sure if they'd ever made a Mrs Doubtfire ornament.

Michigan J Frog is one you could probably keep on your desk year round just to annoy your co-workers. Yes, it has sound! Yes, it's exactly what you think it is.

Scooby-Doo's Mystery Machine plays the original theme song, of course! The Flintstones one also plays the theme but I"m really hoping it starts with the work whistle to complete the Fred leaving work scene.

Then you've got what's pretty much the Trinity of 80s youth: He-Man, Grimlock, and Jem. Who would have thought there would ever be a Jem ornament?
Sadly, she does not play any music.

Here are the Star Wars ones that you don't have to go to a con and stand in line for. BB-8 is a no-brainer but I can't believe he doesn't have sound! Han...yeah ok. I probably would have gone with FN-2187 or Rey, which I'm sure we'll get at some point.

Poe's X-Wing has "battle sounds" which might cause me to pass on it because it cranks the price up to $33. The stormtrooper head has "memorable dialog" and of course the Leia/Vader scene does as well. Very curious to see what the Rogue One ornament is going to be. Will it be a ship, character, or something else?

And if you've got an extra $100 burning a whole in your pocket, you can top your tree with a Death Star! It does come with its own power cord so you could sit it on a shelf too. It also has a remote control to start a light show synchronized with either the Main Title or Imperial March. Depending on how cool this looks in person, I may wait for a post-holiday clearance.

There's still a good amount of more pop culture ones including DC, Marvel, Peanuts, and more. July 9-10 is the ornament premiere weekend if you want to be among the first to see these in person.

Apr 18, 2016

Mail Order Monday - Superman vs Muhammed Ali (1978)

It's been a long time since there was a Mail Order Monday and I was struggling to find something to write about this week. Ok, maybe struggling isn't the right word. 
More...how you say? Lazy.

Back in 1978, DC comics published an over-sized 72 page comic pitting The Man of Steel against The Greatest. And for the low price of $3, you could have sent away for it. Adjusted for inflation, that works out to about $11 today!

As a kid, I absolutely loved the Treasury size comics because they were huge (10" x 14") and they didn't usually do "regular" stories in these books. It was almost always something special that demanded a bigger size.

Here's a quick rundown of the plot:

It all starts when an alien race called the Scrubb demands Earth's greatest champion fight their greatest. Of course, Earth don't want no Scrubb but if Earth refuses, the Scrubb will just blow us up anyway. Initially Supes steps up, being the good guy that he is. But Ali argues that he's not from Earth and says he's the greatest. The aliens are intrigued and decide to let the two duke it out for the title of Earth's greatest fighter. To make it more interesting, the fight is to be on the Scrubb home world which orbits a red sun, effectively putting Supes on even ground with Ali.

Supes takes a beating and eventually hits the mat. Ali goes on to face the stronger alien champion. Seems fair, right? While Ali gets pummeled by the alien, Superman has made a recovery and tries to sabotage the Scrubb armada. Ali gets a second wind and knocks the Scrubb champion out of consciousness and the ring! Go Earth!

The Scrubb leader finds out about Superman's sabotage and decides to take out Earth anyway. But before he can, the Scrubb champion overthrows him and the Earth is saved. Later, Ali reveals he somehow figured out Superman's secret identity but assures him, he'll keep the secret, declaring them both the Greatest.

The full wraparound cover is pretty cool. It features a ton of notable (at the time) faces including celebrities Ron Howard, Donnie & Marie, and Dick Clark; sports stars like Joe Namath and Pele; and a host of DC comic staff and comic characters. You can see Batman in the bottom right next to Lex Luthor and Sonny Bono. How's that for a combo?

Apr 12, 2016

Duran Duran with Chic

Last week we took a short trip to the Mohegan Sun casino in CT to see Duran Duran. We did do a small bit of gambling, and when I say small it's not in the sarcastic opposite way! High rollers, we are not. We stuck to the licensed slot machines: Wizard of Oz, Walking Dead, Superman (1978), Wonder Woman (TV series), and Batman '66 all of which were pretty cool. Not so cool they gave us a lot of money, but hey, that's gambling!

Now, I could probably make a list of 100 bands I've heard on the radio and nowhere near that list would be Chic. They opened for Duran Duran and it was like stepping into the 70s!

Maybe you don't know Chic by name, but I bet you're familiar with their big hits like "I Want Your Love" and "Le Freak". Of course they played these, but they also did a medley of just a few of the songs that Nile Rodgers has had a hand in writing and/or producing over the years, including Daft Punk's "Get Lucky"! Seriously, check out his Wiki page!

They did a tribute to Bowie by playing "Let's Dance". Rodgers having produced the album of the same name. In the current age of "music" we're in, there's something really cool about seeing a full on band including keyboards, sax, trumpet, and back-up dancers/singers.

They ended with "Good Times" and as Rodgers intro'd the song saying "a dance party always breaks out when we play this," a whole lot of audience members were brought on stage (above) to fully bring the party atmosphere.

If you'd asked me before this show "Hey, do you want to see Chic in concert?" I'd probably have been indifferent. But now that I've seen them, my answer would be "Heck, yeah!" They put on a great show with songs that might take you back...depending on how old you are. They're also a lot of fun!

Duran Duran opened with Paper Gods, it being the Paper Gods tour and all, and then went into Wild Boys. It's one of my favorites and it's a fantastic live song to get the crowd going. I'm not going song by song, but you can see the playlist at Setlist.

I bet you can guess this next one, which is another favorite of mine...

They brought Nile Rodgers on stage for "Notorious" and "Pressure Off". Even Simon LeBon has been quoted saying if not for Rodgers, the band may not have made it through the late 80s.

During "Pressure Off" there was confetti.
Lots of confetti!

And then in the middle of "Planet Earth" they broke into a bit of Bowie's "Space Oddity" which kinda hit me in the feels after Chic's "Let's Dance."

Here's a few more random pictures, if you want to see all 155 (!) from the show, head over to Flickr. My wife usually gets seats on John Taylor's side of the stage but this time we were on the opposite side so you'll see lots of shots of lead guitar Dom Brown.

Apr 6, 2016

Funko Smuggler's Bounty - Cantina

You'll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy than the new Funko Smuggler's Bounty box! The theme for the third Star Wars sub box is Cantina, so strap you blaster on and prepare to see some things that are out of this world.

I apologize for having have to start this post out by complaining. But if the internet isn't the place to complain, I don't know where is! My mail carrier left this and my Loot Crate on the porch on a wet day. I guess it would have been too physically straining to put them inside the door that was literally inches away. Luckily, the boxes are sturdy and although the inside of was faintly damp, the goods were unharmed.

Every Smuggler's Box (and maybe every Funko sub box?) comes with a patch and pin. I was especially exicted by the pin as I dig the Cantina band. Not just the music, but the aliens themselves are one of my favorites from the movies. No doubt because of their swanky numbers and ability to hop right back into it after someone gets shot.

The first item inside the box is a pen with an itty bitty Chewbacca Pop Vinyl style figure on the top of it. It's pretty cute.

I like the Wanted poster design of this shirt featuring "Walrusman" Ponda Baba. Although I do think it's a bit odd that it has the Star Wars The Force Awakens logo on the shirt's lower right. I mean, I didn't notice any one-armed Aqualish in the movie. Maybe I'll keep an eye out the next time I watch it.

Here is the first of the two (cout 'em, two!) exclusive Funko Pop Vinyl figures: Ben Kenobi. The non-exclusive version of Ben has him with his hood up and the lightsaber in a more neutral position. This pose makes him look like he's ready to chop up some unruly Cantina patrons! I wish he'd managed to fend off whatever put that dent in his box. Funko's replacement policy is to not give a flying Falcon about the packaging and only replace damaged items. Good thing these aren't collectible or anything, huh?

And the second Pop is Red Snaggletooth. If you're not in the know, you may wonder, why do they call it Red Snaggletooth instead of just Snaggletooth? Well, back in the day of original Star Wars figures, there was a Snaggletooth figure based on the character's movie appearance, just like this Pop. There was also a taller blue-suited Snaggletooth that was released in a Sears exclusive playset, which is one of the more valuable figures.

Funko did something...interesting and randomly packed out Blue Snaggletooth Pop chase variant figures as a nod to the old Kenner figure. This is the version I would have preferred because of his blue suit and silver boots. Being a chase, it's now going for $80+ on the secondary market. I'm not keen on the idea of randomly packed chase figures in a sub box like this. It's one thing if there's a couple different ones and you get one or the other, but with a chase it automatically ups the value and makes it harder to get. I know, I know, that's the point of chase, right?

And that wraps up the Cantina Smuggler's Bounty box. Overall, I think it was good. These boxes don't vary that much from delivery to delivery like Loot Crate does so although there's the surprise of not knowing exactly what you're getting, you kinda know you're getting at least one Pop and shirt in every box. Considering the pose Ben is in, it would have been really cool to see the other Pop be a one-armed Ponda Baba!

Funko's Smuggler's Bounty box is an every other month subscription box that delivers nothing but Star Wars to your door. If you want to subscribe, head over to Smuggler's Bounty and sign up.
Note: I'm not getting anything from Funko for this, but if they'd like to send me something I'm more than okay with that!

Apr 1, 2016

Monthly Movie Recap - March 2016

If you like movies and need another social network, come find me on Letterboxd. They just put out an iOS app so you can take it on the go too.

Zootopia (2016)
Not surprisingly, this movie is a lot of fun, has heart, and some great characters. What is surprising are the themes of bullying, not judging someone based on stereotypes, and going against the odds to be what you want to be. I don't have kids, but if I did, I would want them to see this!

Cool: Having the animals maintain their normal size relative to each other makes for some great scenes and interactions.

Rating: 8/10

Stunt Rock (1978)
An Australian stunt man goes to LA and meets a stage magic/rock band act called Sorcery. The trailer makes it look more action packed than it is. Most of the action is just stunts, there's not much of a story or plot to the movie and there's quite a bit of Sorcery performing, which is a great thing! I liked the music so much, I picked up the soundtrack from Amazon (linked above).

Cool: Sorcery, with their mix of 70s supernatural rock and stage magic, are just as much the stars as the stunts of real-life stunt man Grant Page. If Deep Purple and Alice Cooper had a bastard son, it would be Sorcery!
Lame: There's the thinnest of plots but I didn't really mind as there's plenty of stunts and Sorcery!

Rating: 6/10

Re-Kill (2015, Netflix)
This found footage (or found on DVR) movie follows Re-Kill Division units Cops-style as they try to prevent a new zombie outbreak from happening. Since it's a found TV recording, there are fake commercials a la Starship Troopers every so often that keep it entertaining.

Cool: Plenty of bullets and blood
Lame: Shaky cam is shaky; Fast zombies

Rating: 6/10

I've had this one on my watch list for a long time and finally got around to it. I guess I'd heard so much love for it that I was expecting more out of it. It wasn't bad, just not as good as I was hoping.

Cool: CHUD design
Lame: Not enough CHUD! End was disappointing

Rating: 5/10

Batman v Superman (2016)
Trying to to get too spoilery. The movie looks great when it's not too dark. Once we get to the Big Fight, it's good but the script reasons for it starting and stopping are not. I really liked it while watching it but the more I think about the details after the fact, the more I realize I shouldn't really think about the details.

Cool: I'm absolutely looking forward to the Wonder Woman movie now! The straight out of Arkham Knight fight scene vs the goons.

Lame: Luthor, I didn't like this characterization or how non-intelligent his plans are. Also, Supes should be more intelligent than this.

Rating: 6.5 averaging the bad writing against the action and being well shot

Month Total
 New: 5  Rewatch: 0

Year Total
 New: 17  Rewatch: 1