Jun 27, 2018

Quarter Bin - Lars of Mars (1951)

Welcome to the first ever Quarter Bin post, where comics go to be forgotten. If you're a comic fan, you've no doubt stumbled into a box of comics that someone is trying to get rid of and selling for a quarter each. You also know, that digging through that mess can sometimes result in finding some great stuff for a steal.

This won't necessarily be about "great" stuff and pretty much none of it will be stuff I actually bought. This is mainly going to be a place to throw some obscure comic book stuff at you.

Let's take to the stars (sort of) with Lars of Mars!

You probably haven't heard of Lars considering his first, and basically last, appearance was in 1951. He starred in a whole two comic books, which for some reason were numbered 10 and 11. How great is that cover, though?

You might know the name of one of his co-creators, Jerry Siegel.
For you non-comic geeks, he also co-created Superman!

I absolutely love retro future stuff like this: jet packs, funky robots with claw hands, antennas on your head for no good reason. But this isn't just another superhero in space comic. Lars gets to beat down this weird tentacled lizard thing and that's about the end of the space stuff.

The Mars Council detects an H-bomb going off on Earth so they send Lars to make sure we don't get too big for our galactic britches. Apparently, there was a big H-bomb war between Mars and Venus and Mars is not having that again!

On his way to Earth, Lars' rocket malfunctions! (He's got a jet pack, don't you worry.) As he flies to Earth he see a woman being attacked by robots and being the swell guy that he is, he fends them off...only to find they're actors in costumes and the woman a TV producer who thinks Lars is going all out to audition for a role. Thinking it the perfect cover, Lars plays along and becomes an actor. Everyone thinks he's a crazy dude that's a little too into his role.

It's a whole weird alter ego thing with Lars basically playing a version of himself on TV then going out to fight crime still dressed in the same outfit. ("Hey it's that guy from TV!") He does have a few things to help him like his jet pack, a multi-function ray gun, and some minor telepathic abilities. 

In the second issue (#11 if you're keeping up) Lars helps out a hospitalized sick kid by convincing his idol, a baseball pitcher that thinks he's washed up, to get back in the game. He falsely bolsters the athlete's confidence by secretly "helping" with his tractor beam ray gun but the kid seems to get better once his idol is back on the field, so I guess it's all good?

While I could see Superman doing something like this it just doesn't feel quite right to me for Lars. But I guess not every adventure has to be saving the world. Lars and Supes might both be from another world but based on the covers, I wasn't expecting Lars to be earthbound.

Finally, from the "no way they could do that today" department, let's take a gander at the back cover of issue #10.

This great offer is for you, presumably child reader of Lars of Mars. For just $1.98 not only do you get yourself an engraved lighter but it also holds your cigarettes! No more keeping your cigs rolled up in your t-shirt sleeve for Little Johnny!

If you want to experience Lars' adventures for yourself, you can read issue 10 and issue 11 at the Digital Comics Museum. If you create a free account, you can download these, and many other forgotten comics. If you don't want to create an account, you can still read them online. The site can be a little tricky to learn so let me know if you have questions.

Good luck, Lars!

Jun 21, 2018

Jurassic World Kinder Eggs

You can't go wrong combining two things kids love: dinosaurs and candy!

You may have spotted these in your grocery store within the past month. I know I was pretty excited to see Jurassic World Kinder Eggs because that means little toy dinosaurs inside!

Each egg has two halves. The first has the standard (delicious) Kinder Egg candy in it. The other, a tiny dino, an insert that tells you about the dino, and a little fold out showing all the dinos available. The back of the fold out has picto-instructions for using your toy.

When you open the insert (top left) it gives you a little environment for your beastie as well as a QR type icon you can scan with the Kinder app. I checked this out and, unless I missed something, I think only the youngest kids will get a kick out of it. It doesn't do a whole lot but it is a Kinder app and not specific to Jurassic World so points for trying.

The toys are about the size you'd expect to get from a 75 cent capsule toy machine and maybe a bit better in quality. Each dino comes in two snap-together parts so you can put its skeleton inside it. The downside to this most of the time is the dinos look a little off. This T-Rex is obviously not skipping leg days!

And sometimes they just kinda sorta look like the actual dino. Whatever this thing is, it doesn't look much like a Dimorphodon. It looks more like Rodan and Godzilla had a baby.

Other times they'll surprise you! The Mosasaurus turns out to be my favorite of the three I have. This is mainly because the skeleton inside does not change the dino shape at all.

Kinder Eggs used to be illegal in the US but now you can find them just about anywhere that sells candy. Depending on the store, they are usually between $1.25-$1.50 each. Totally worth it for a tiny dino and some candy!

I'm still on the hunt for two of them. One being the Velociraptor and if the T-Rex is any indication, I'm not expecting greatness. Second, the Ankylosaurus, one of my favorite dinos that I have high hopes for because it should be similar to the Mosasaurus.

Jun 14, 2018

Marvel Toybox - Doctor Strange Figure

Here is the other Marvel Toybox figure that I had to get when I saw him. I had no idea they were making this so it was a nice surprise to find him on the shelf.

He was definitely a lot easier to free from his plastic prison than Star-Lord was.

He comes with a removable cloak which has got some interesting checkered texturing on the inside. As I mentioned with Star-Lord, the figures have a peg hole in the back and Strange's cloak has a peg to secure it to him.

 As excited as I was to find him, I got more disappointed with the figure after getting a good look at him. I don't know if it's the amulet hanging so low or his tabard being too long but he just looks stocky.

He looks like he has stubby legs and his arms are too long. I don't think the bulky foot wraps are helping either. He's got even less of a range of leg movement than Star-Lord due to his clothes. Not that he needs it really. And then there's the paint apps. Look at the opening in his tunic on the left, it's got a bit of red on it which is somewhat puzzling as the only red is on his cloak which isn't even molded on to him.

And then there's his shoulder which looks like it's had some wear even though he's fresh out of the package. I didn't see any paint issues with Star-Lord so I'm thinking I just got a bad paint figure.

I did mention how these are a bit taller and chunkier than your average 3.75" and here's a side by side. Every time I look at him, I'm thinking dwarf.

He does look pretty cool from the right angle though. They did a great job with the face, except for that tiny white spot on his goatee on the right. His hair has got a great sculpt to it. I also have to give them credit for his clothes. They could have just done smooth but they textured everything very well.

Overall, I could overlook the paint issues if he didn't look so stocky.

If you're wondering why I reference Star-Lord so much, it's because these two are my first venture into Toybox figures.I talked about Star-Lord on Tuesday.

Jun 12, 2018

Marvel Toybox - Star-Lord Figure

I hit the Disney store last weekend to see if they had any interesting Solo merch. While I wasn't let down at the amount of stuff they had, I was a little disappointed that a lot of it didn't appeal to me. But as I wandered around the store, I found some new Toybox figures!

I know some people aren't crazy about the cartoony design of the Toybox figures when it comes to Star Wars (I happen to like it) but with comic book characters it just seems natural. While I can appreciate giving the figure a dynamic pose in package, I am so not a fan of the tray that's molded to fit around the figure to the point where you have to cut parts of it to pop the figure out. It should not be this hard!

The figures are Disney Store exclusive and are priced at $12.99, but there was a sale going on where it you bought two or more, they were only $10 each. Who was the other figure? 
Stay tuned on Thursday!

The price is about the going rate for a 3.75" figure but these are chunkier than your average figure and a bit taller at 5.5". All the figures have a little hole in the back for accessories. For example, Cap can wear his shield. And they also have peg holes in their feet that will fit a modern 3.75" figure stand, something I was pretty excited to discover.

For a toy that looks more aimed at kids, they have articulation in just about every place you'd want including swivel wrists and rocker ankles. The only thing he can't really do is sit down. His legs just won't go out straight.

They also have a lot of detail where they could have skimped. He's got the boosters on the sides of his boots and there's some doodads on the jacket lapel that gives it a little something extra. The gloves are also a great touch.

One of my favorite little things is that they gave him a gun belt with pegs so you can "holster" the guns. The guns themselves are a little too bendy for my personal taste. You can see above, the gun pointing at you is a little bent.

Here's a better shot of the holstered guns and you can see how bent that one on the left is. And yes, Disney owns his ass. 

My only other minor complaint with the figure is the color they chose for the hair. I think it's a little too close to the jacket color. When I first saw it in the store I was wondering if he had some kind of weird thing on his head. Nope, just hair.

I'm really hoping they decide to do the other Guardians in this line because I'd love to get the whole team in this style. I can only imaging what Rocket and Groot might look like.

Jun 4, 2018

Mail Order Monday - Spy Pen (1971)

The mail order ads in comic books were always promising something amazing, something that seemed too good to be true. The Spy Pen was one of the few things that delivered on what it promised...sort of.

Spy Pen (1971)

Nowadays, if you're looking for a spy pen, you'll find them with an audio recorder, hidden camera, or even a USB drive built into them. This ad from 1971 promises the ability to see through walls!

You may wonder what miracle of modern 70s technology could perform this Superman-like feat. What could be so amazing to be the "greatest espionage device ever used by German intelligence during WWII and now used by Inter-Pol"?
The answer is: a drill.

Yep, a tiny drill built into the pen will make an "unnoticeable hole right through the toughest plaster or wood. Even someone standing near the wall will not hear the hole being drilled."

Once you drill the hole, you insert the pen into it to use its 172° wide angle lens to be able to view the entire room. And the best part? You can photograph through the lens!

This is the kind of thing that sounds awesome as a kid and pretty sketchy as an adult. I have to wonder how many annoyed parents had to patch holes in their walls because their kid got one of these.

Jun 1, 2018

Monthly Movie Recap - May 2018

And just like that, we're into the summer movie season. This month has a pretty wide range in the terms of movie quality. In addition to the stuff below, I caught up with new seasons of Bill Nye Saves the World and The Toys That Made Us, both on Netflix. I also discovered The Witching Season (Amazon/YouTube) Halloween short anthology. All of which I highly recommend because if you're on this blog, these shows should be up your alley.

On to the movies!
We're six movie in, you know what you're going to get here. Maybe I'm getting worn out on graboids and ass-blasters or maybe this movie was just okay. I mean, it's not terrible, it's just more of the same. 

Ice? Ice? Baby: Don't get too excited about seeing Tremors on ice. Even though it takes place in the Arctic, there's some kind of "global warming" thing going on so it still looks like they're in the desert.

Rating: 5/10

And on the other fin, this is a terrible sequel. I suspect the only reason they threw a 2 at the end is so that people wouldn't assume it was a remake/reboot, which is exactly what it is. Just how bad is this movie? There's maybe a good 11 seconds of gore, the rest is mostly horrible acting in the same partially flooded section of corridor using different color lights to make it look like it's not the same section of corridor being reused.

Shark. Bull Shark: The absolute best part (aside from it ending) is the Bond-esque opening titles. If they could have carried this same sensibility throughout the movie, it might have been fun.

Rating: 2/10, seriously...just don't even

It's cute and fun. Kids, and kids at heart, will probably enjoy it.

Rating: 7/10

Imagine combining the original Battlestar Galactica with Top Gun. Now imagine it's a SyFy Original Movie. Maybe it's not quite that bad, but it's close. I had a hard time following the plot and why they had to do what they were doing. It felt like a bunch of generic sci-fi stuff tossed together, nothing felt quite right about the whole thing.

Sub Space: There are a couple things I did like. One, it's just about a WW2 submarine movie in space. And two, the fighter plane design of the ships.

Rating: 3/10

Evil Genius (2018, Netflix)
Not really a movie but a 4 part documentary on a true crime that seems too crazy to be real. I'm listing it here because I found it to be just that good. I don't remember hearing about the "Pizza Bomber" when it happened but I was hooked after the first 10 minutes or so. I usually rate documentaries on a pass/fail. This one definitely passes!

Deadpool 2 (2018)
Did you like/hate the first one? Then you'll like/hate the second one. It's more of the same but in the best way possible. All the jokes, raunchy humor, and fourth wall breaking you'd expect. Plus, more Colossus, which is a good thing in my book!

Body Slide by One: Little confused with the post credits scene because I''m not sure if it's a joke because they can or if it really changes anything that happened.

Rating: 8/10

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
When this was first announced, my thought was "Do we need this?" I got more interested as the trailers came out and was as surprised as anyone when I walked out wanting a sequel. It's a fun ride once it gets going and I really liked everyone in it, especially Lando and Chewie.

Let the Past Die: As much as I liked this, I think Disney needs to stop catering to us old timer fans and stop dipping into the well of the original movies. I don't need back story movies for the characters I grew up with, leave that to books. I want new stuff in my Star Wars movies, the galaxy is a huge place, there's plenty of room to use Star Wars as a backdrop to tell other stories.

Rating: 8/10

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017, Redbox)
Unlike Deep Blue Sea 2, this is an actual sequel that (sorta) ties into the original. Also unlike that other movie, I had fun watching this one. It's like a mobile game: you spend a couple hours with it, might not remember too much about it later but you know it was a decent time. One of my favorite scenes is Jack Black (acting like teenage Miss Thing) trying to teach Karen Gillan (acting like introverted teen girl) how to flirt.

Rating: 6.5/10

Month Total
New: 7  Rewatch: 0

Year Total
New: 27   Rewatch: 3