Sep 29, 2016

Funko Smuggler's Bounty - Death Star

I could have swapped this with the Monthly Movie Recap to put it closer to the end of the month but today is my birthday (yay me!). I'll be spending the day at Disney's Hollywood Studios, riding Star Tours a ton, meeting Chewie and Kylo Ren, and catching the Star Wars fireworks show. #notsohumblebrag So you can see how this is appropriate.

That's no moon, it the Funko Smuggler's Bounty Death Star box!

Well, it's got us caught in a tractor beam, we might as well see where it takes us.

Now that's quite a welcoming committee! These patches almost make me wish I had a denim vest so I could put them all over it. Of course the front would be covered in the pins.

I really like that they started including these cards in the boxes. They cram a lot of info on them about the contents. Like the fact that this is the first ever Funko luggage tag. It's just in time for my Disney trip and I've got the perfect Stormtrooper carry bag to attach it to!

I would have been packing this shirt for the trip but as with most sub box shirts, it doesn't really fit. Remember back when you got a t-shirt and the size was the size when there were no "fits"? Yeah, I miss those days.

If you were checking out that info card above, you noticed this is the first of two exclusive Funko Pop Vinyl figures in this box. If you're doing Death Star as a theme, I think Vader is a no brainer but this is clearly a Bespin "Join me" Vader. It may not fit thematically, but it's a great Pop! Now if I only had the con exclusive Luke with missing hand.

If you thought you detected a foul stench at the top of this post, you weren't wrong! Here's the real star of the box: Grand Moff Tarkin. The info card mentions how this is the first time Funko has deviated from the standard round human head shape to recreate Cushing's cheekbones. Charming to the last.

Not only did they replicate the "throat lozenge" badge but they also go the little silver data sticks in his pockets (the things that look like pens). They're hard to see on the Pop, but I can assure you, they are there!

That about wraps it up for this Smuggler's Bounty box. There's still time to get your order in for November's box which is Rogue One themed. They're already showing off the two exclusive Pops that will come in that one. You can check them out and subscribe at the Smuggler's Bounty site.

Sep 26, 2016

Monthly Movie Recap - September 2016

Dropping this a little early as I'm on my way to DisneyWorld(!) and won't be watching any movies from now until the end of the month. You'll also notice the Halloween decorations are up a bit early, because I didn't want to have to worry about doing it while away.

Mrs Dex recently saw a live production of this and then had to see the movie. I'd never seen it. I don't get too into musicals usually but am I glad I had a reason to see this! Watch that clip up there. There's a lot of that going on in the movie.

Cool: Two words: Donald O'Connor, his performance is comedic genius! The dance numbers are, to use a word I rarely use, delightful in every sense.
Lame: They definitely don't make em like this anymore.

Rating: 8/10

Speaking of Halloween, I thought I'd get a head start on the festivities checking this one out. I didn't know going in that it was the third in a series but they pretty much cover the basics to get you up to speed. It's about what you'd expect from Stine.

Cool: Danny Trejo?! That Farkle kid.
Lame: Not enough spooky

Rating: 5/10

How can you see a horror musical with Meat Loaf on Netflix and not watch it? It was better than I was expecting. It's got a bit of comedy in it, some decent kills, and the story was good.

Cool: While everyone else is in musical-land, when the killer shows up they bring in this heavy metal music which is not only a great contrast but is also pretty kick ass.
Lame: Needs more heavy metal killer!

Rating: 6/10

Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (2015, Amazon Prime)
I had forgot about this one! I remember seeing the trailer and thinking it looked funny and then it came and went in like a week. It feels like it's definitely aimed at a teen crowd but it's got a bit of heart to it, as cliched as it may be. It's a little Shaun of the Dead meets Zombieland.

Cool: Plenty of gooey bits. Some actual laugh out loud moments.
Lame: Nothing to report here!

Rating: 7/10

Month Total
 New: 4  Rewatch: 0

Year Total
 New: 50  Rewatch:3

Sep 21, 2016

Pop Culture League - Aliens Among Us

The League poses another vague challenge this week

Aliens Among Us

“If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans.”

–Stephen Hawking

Hawking's a pretty smart guy, but I prefer to think things will go the way of an 80s comedy movie with the aliens getting totally obsessed with our pop culture.

Of course, if they ran across this, it might change their tune entirely. Who knows, maybe they were driven to Earth because their own planet was attacked and they'd dig it. Or they might think they were actually controlling Earth's defenses and just let the tank get blown up over and over. Or they'd zap it with their alien mind powers and make it so they were actually controlling our defenses!

 Invade a few other sites to see their take on the topic

Green Plastic Squirt Gun has my favorite so far.
They're already here according to Mr Smith's Plastic Bubble
Marc Allie wrote a whole short story!

To see all the participating blogs head over to Cool and Collected!

Sep 14, 2016

Pop Culture League - Buying Blind

This week the Pop Culture League poses a particular favorite type of challenge: the very vague. I like these because you can run all over with them.

Buying Blind
Who doesn’t love gambling on a blind box or mystery package?

I've been on the blind bag wagon for years now. Before Funko, before LEGO, there were all sorts of Japanese import toys and Kubrick Universal Monsters that I'd get at Newbury Comics. For those of you outside New England, Newbury Comics is a small chain store specializing in pop culture everything.

 Sometimes, the fun of it really is not knowing what you're going to get. It's just like when you were a kid and you plopped two quarters into a capsule vending machine that promised all sorts of goodies. You could get candy, maybe a cheap-o ring, for a quarter, but for two or three? You convinced yourself you might get something really cool.

Even though it was something like two years ago, I remember seeing the breakdown Funko's first series of SciFi Mystery Minis. It went a little something like this...

That's some pretty iconic characters right there, but they seemed to make a lot of the ones I'd want hard to get! Sure I was excited as all get out to see Tron in there, but then I saw the Rocketeer and got even more excited...until I saw that there was a 1 in 72 chance of getting him. I get that the reasoning might be he's not as popular so in order to get him made at all, they make less but...c'mon!

So one day at Newbury Comics, I picked up a couple of boxes for the heck of it. Hey, at least I had a decent shot at getting Tron, right? I mean there are two versions so that's like double the odds or something. Who said I'd never use math after high school?

One of them was Robocop

A photo posted by Ed Dexter (@dex1138) on

Not bad, not bad. Robocop's cool. He's not Tron or the Metaluna Mutant but considering how many of the series I couldn't care less about, I was happy.

Then I opened the second one...

A photo posted by Ed Dexter (@dex1138) on

Holy Sweet Mother of Dragons!

Sometimes you break even and get something you're satisfied with. Sometimes you get something you don't like...but maybe you can trade it. And sometimes you just get flat out "I should go buy a lottery ticket" lucky as anything and you nail it.

Check out what other League members are posting about here.

And here's a few to whet your appetite...

Brother Midnight has got quite a collection!
Garbage Pail Kids pop in at 20 Years Before 2000
AF Blog has plenty of cool little monsters

Sep 5, 2016

Remembering a Friend

Here we are at Labor Day. The unofficial end of summer and also, typically, the weekend of DragonCon in Atlanta. It's a time of year that's going to make me think of what might have been, be extra thankful, and bring some sadness going forward. It was this time last year that we unexpectedly lost one of our friends.

We called him Moby, not after the book, but after an Andrew Dice Clay bit. In our group of friends, there were multiple Eds, so we each had a nickname. He and another friend of mine went to DragonCon together last year. After what I imagine was a day full of fun, he didn't wake up the next morning. I can't imagine what my other friend went through that day.

I've known Moby just about half my life. Although we were in the same high school graduating class, I didn't really get to know him until a few years later when we both put in our time at McDonald's. We bonded over our mutual love of Star Wars and I can remember so many horrible shifts that were made bearable because he was there talking Star Wars while we worked.

At his...reception? Is that what you call the thing where everyone gathers? Anyway, people were invited up to say a few words about Moby and, at the time, I don't know that I could have gotten through this but this is the story I wanted to tell about my friend.

As I mentioned earlier, Moby and I got to know each other serving in the trenches under the Golden Arches. There were a number of times that we'd work the closing shift together. During one particular summer we had a rash of drive-bys. Squirt gun drive-bys. The smart ass kids would go through the drive-thru and when they got to the second window to pick up their order, they'd assault the poor person handing it to them and drive off.

We may not have exactly enjoyed where we worked but you spend enough time there and you start to develop a friendship with your co-workers and become protective of the place. Stockholm syndrome? Anyway, after a few of these drive-bys, we were determined to catch the bastards. Or at least get some form of justice.

These kids didn't know who they were messing with...

We started packing our own heat on the nights we worked. We kept this model of Super Soaker lying in wait at the second drive-thru window. The great thing about Super Soakers is that you can pump them up to maximum firepower until you need it.

One night, Moby was working the first drive-thru window, taking the orders and money. I was a shift manager at the time which means you almost always are wearing a drive-thru headset. After one particular order, he says to me on the internal channel, "It's them."

I told the girl handing out the orders to give them their drinks and tell them it would be a minute because we were waiting on fries. I started putting their order together and Moby came up to the front of the store. Bag in hand, I went to trigger the electric eye that would automatically open the drive-thru window. As I'm doing this, Moby picks up the Soaker. The window opens and just as I"m about to reach out, I turn sideways and Moby sprays down the inside of the car in a way that would make a 1920s gangster with a tommy gun proud.

That was the last time we saw the squirt gun drive-by kids.

It's a funny story, but is exemplary of the kind of guy Moby is. He's the kind of friend that had your back no matter what. He'd take a bullet for you and then put the shooter in a hospital.

He shared a favorite band with my wife: Duran Duran. He and I shared favorite movies. It's not that I would miss him any less if not for these things but it's more noticeable. We see Duran Duran every time they're in the area and Star Wars is such a huge part of my life. We had some fun chats speculating on what The Force Awakens would bring and he never got to see it. And that pisses me off more than anything.

Although I know he'd mock me for quoting part of the Jedi Code (and not something from the Sith), I will balance it out by posting a pic of him with the actor that played Darth Vader.

"There is no death, there is the Force."

I know one day we'll hang out again like Force ghosts on Endor.
Until then...

Sep 3, 2016

Pop Culture League - First Quarter

This week, the Pop Culture League asks

What’s your earliest arcade or video game memory?

This was a fun mental exercise for me because I've been into video games for a very long time (I"m old). I had to fire up the Wayback Machine and try to piece together the sequence of my early video game memories. But I have to admit, it really wasn't that difficult using the game's release year as a benchmark.

It helps if you imagine a whirling time tunnel graphic here.
Or maybe just Wayne and Garth doing that flashback thing.

Was it...

going to the local bowling alley with my dad on Friday nights, which was the only real arcade in my area for some time?

stopping at the mall on the way home from middle school which had a handful of games crammed into a space that wasn't meant to hold them and a bunch of kids?

playing Donkey Kong or Karate Champ at the corner store with my best bud?
(Just like Karate Kid, sweeping the leg was the ultimate lame move.)

playing Pac-Man at the roller rink?

In my time on this planet, all the above memories fall into a very small span of years but there is one game that was the genesis of my love of video game...

Way, way back when I was still in grade school, I used to go to the local YMCA quite a bit. Sometimes for swimming lessons, sometimes for basketball practice. Until I started this little mind warp, I had nearly forgotten I played basketball as a kid!

At some point, the YMCA added a Space Invaders machine to the lobby next to the foosball table and that was the start of my love affair with video games. I remember at the end of whatever had brought me to the Y, I'd go and play Space Invaders. There usually wasn't much of a wait for the machine but I do recall having to put my quarter on the bezel to be the next pilot in line to defend the planet.

As fate would have it, this YMCA was directly across the street from where I ended up going to middle school. The school didn't have a proper gym so when it was time for PE, we walked across the street to use their gym. I distinctly remember Ladybug, Mouse Trap, and Vanguard joining the lineup during that time.

I know I played Space War which came out before Space Invaders but I don't have any strong memory of it like I do Invaders. I'd chalk it up to the ever increasing beat as you take out the Invaders one by one. Their descent speeds up, along with your adrenaline, as you have to start timing your shots to keep the ever advancing horde from destroying your bunkers and making planet fall.

I also have to give honorable shout-outs to Oregon Trail and Lemonade Stand, both of which I played in grade school.

A few other League posts

Retro Ramblings' first encounter was with an NES.
The Toy Box was lucky enough to live near an Aladdin's Castle.
Another old timer in the video wars, Marc Allie remembers Sears Telegames.

For more video game goodness, check out the post at Cool and Collected.

Sep 1, 2016

Monthly Movie Recap - August 2016

In a month's time, not only will it be the start of the Countdown to Halloween, but I"ll be at Disney World! Which means I'll have some catching up to do to cram in some horror flicks when I get back. Can't wait to see the new Star Wars stuff in the parks!

I don't think I need the trailer for this one, we all know about it right? And I think that's its problem, it's a victim of its own success. The first couple did a good job being self-aware and a good bad movie but I think this one...jumped the shark. It wasn't even the craziness of the story, it just felt like it was trying too hard.

Cool: If you love an insane story that doesn't make sense, here you go!
Lame: If you're not up on your pop culture you'll know some people are there just for the cameo but not know who they are.

Rating: 5/10

Lavalantula (2015)  & 2 Lava 2 Lantula (2016)
Not only is the from the people that make Sharknado, they share a movie universe! For some reason, I missed the first one but when I saw the trailer for 2 Lava 2 Lantula, I had to get in on it. How can you not with that name? The first one reminded me a lot of the monster movies of the 50s I love so much. The second plays it up a bit more. They're both fun bad movies.

Cool: Reunites some of the Police Academy cast
Cool/Lame? Gutenberg out hamming Shatner!
Lame: When are we getting Sharknado vs Lavalantula??

Rating: 6/10 for both

Escape from Tomorrow (2013)
This wonderfully weird movie was shot primarily guerilla style in the Disney Parks without Disney's approval. I can't even start to describe it except for saying it's like a dark fairy tale meets Twilight Zone. It's...out there and won't be for everyone.

Cool: Imagines a darker side of Disney
Lame: I don't want to think about how many times they had to ride Small World to get the shots they needed

Rating: Really 6/10 but I have to give it 7/10 for doing what they did, which is what really got me wanting to see this. Read more about it.

The Big Bus (1976)
An all star disaster comedy as the world's first nuclear bus makes its maiden non-stop voyage from NYC to Denver! It's not Airplane! by any means but you may get a chuckle here and there.

Cool: The Cyclops bus. All star...well, mostly star, cast.
Lame: Needs to be funnier

Rating: 5/10

Holidays (2016, Netflix)
This horror anthology contains eight segments, each about a different holiday. The two stand outs for me were Father's Day (worth it for the amazing atmosphere even if I didn't get the ending) and New Year's Eve (flat out fun) with Christmas and Easter a close three and four. Halloween by Kevin Smith was probably the most disappointing as it only happens to take place on the day, otherwise having nothing to do with it.

Cool/Lame: You probably won't like all the stories, but should be able to find a couple to satisfy. If you have Netflix, at least check out Father's Day, even if the build up is better than the ending.

Rating: 6/10
Month Total
 New: 6  Rewatch: 0

Year Total
 New: 46  Rewatch:3