Dec 20, 2021

Happy Holidays

 
 
For the handful of you that read this thing on a regular basis, Happy Holidays (and thank you!). I'm taking the rest of the year off, and will be back on 1/1 with this month's media recap.

If you follow the FB page, I'll be rerunning links to old posts about some of my favorite non-Star Wars Christmas toys. If you don't follow it, here's the links.




Dec 15, 2021

Star Wars Uno

From the "I can't believe it took them this long" department, it's Star Wars Uno!
Also, I'm trying out my new photo box so please excuse any light reflections while I get used to it.
 

There's not much to say about Uno. You either know it or you don't. Prior to bringing this to Thanksgiving, I can't remember the last time I played.
 

 Surprisingly, the images on the cards feature more original trilogy characters than prequel or sequel. They could easily make a version for each trilogy if they wanted. Or Clone Wars. Or Rebels. Or The Mandalorian. 

The cards in this deck are smaller than your standard playing card. I guess to make it easier for little hands to hold.


Every licensed version of Uno has a Wild card that is unique to it. Star Wars has the Force Wild (bottom right). When you play it, you choose a player then call your color. That player has to show you their hand and if they have your color, they draw two. I was able to put one to good use after someone played their own Wild and called Uno. I played the Force Wild and named the color they just changed it to and they had to draw two more cards.

As I mentioned, it's been awhile since I've looked at a new Uno deck. Looks like the current ones are being as language friendly as possible by no longer printing any words on the cards like Skip, Draw, or Reverse. This leads me to my one minor gripe, which could also apply to the standard version for all I know: the Draw 4 Wild.

They did next to nothing to indicate this card is a Wild, aside from giving it the same black background. When you've got new, or re-learning, players it would definitely help if this card had the Wild symbol on it.

Dec 8, 2021

Nightmare Before Christmas - Making Christmas Funko Card Game

 If you've even glanced at the board game section of your local big box store, chances are you've seen at least one game put out by Funko. They do games now, because of course they do! From Funkoverse strategy board games to Disney attractions and other movie franchises, they are just cranking them out.

Since it's the holiday season (and I love the movie!), we're having some fun with Making Christmas, the third Funko game based on The Nightmare Before Christmas.

 
This was actually released a couple months ago and me being me, I pre-ordered it as soon as I saw it. This is a family card game for ages 6+ so it's fairly simple to play.


Among the game components are four pieces you assemble to make the toy workbench play area. The back of it features the artwork from the box.

Gather toys from Halloweentown for Jack Skellington to deliver on Christmas. But the presents are in pieces! Look for clever combos on the workbench that will help you put the toys together. On your turn, swap two toy parts and use assembled toys to complete goal cards. Then refill the workbench, goal cards, and the toy-building continues to the next player! Hurry to put the toy parts together and be the player that completes the most goals to win!

The goal cards are on the left and you score them by swapping two cards, either two on the board already or with one from your hand, to make a complete toy. Some goals, like the top one, only require you to make a horizontal or vertical match. Do that, and you get to make a second swap to try and complete another goal. When the last goal is completed, the player with the most goals wins.

Like I said, it's not a very deep game but seems like it'd be perfect for younger monsters or just some quick holiday fun. The artwork is perfectly spot on and the goal cards feature different residents of Halloweentown. 
 
The Funko board games are pretty easy to find but the card games have been hit or miss for me. If you don't want to hunt for this one, you can have Santa Jack drop it down your chimney via Amazon (affiliate link).

Dec 1, 2021

Monthly Media Recap - November 2021

 If you know this blog, you know the first of December usually kicks off the 13 Days of Creepmas. After 10 years, and waning participation, we've decided not to do an "official" Creepmas blog-along this year but that's no reason you can't keep the spooky seasonal spirit alive!

This post contains Amazon affiliate links which I earn from when things are purchased. Don't want any of these flicks? Still need to do some holiday shopping? Please use the Amazon and/or EE links to the right and look for what you want.


Streaming Series

The Movies That Made Us S3(2021, Netflix)
Behind the Monsters (2021, Shudder)

Two very similar, but different, series looking behind the scenes at some of the most popular horror movie franchises. Each has something a little different to offer and to be honest, having watched them close together they're all kind of blurred up in my brain. The Shudder series looks more at the franchise while the Netflix on is more focused on how it came to be.

Tiger King S2 (2021, Netflix)
Burned through this pretty quick and was definitely wanting more. I feel like they rushed this to get it out while S1 is still somewhat fresh. I know this is "real life" but it only felt like half a season as far as there being a story.

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (2016, Netflix)
(Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer - each a 90 minute TV movie)
Picking up 10 years after the series finale, I always find this kind of thing a little weird. It's like going to a school reunion, seeing your old friends and there's that thing where you know them but they're not quite the same. Familiar but a little weird until you get back into the old groove. It was good the original writer came back to wrap things up.

Nov 23, 2021

A Trip to Galaxy's Edge - Part 2

 As they say on Batuu, Bright Suns, traveler!
If you missed Part 1 of this trip, click here.

I mentioned in my last post how the theming of the area really makes you feel like you've stepped into a Star Wars movie, this is especially true in the marketplace and shops.


This is the main entrance to the market area. While most of it is open air, the shops themselves are are sort of like large alcoves that you can just wander into without having to open a door.


This stall is just to the right as you walk under the arch. It's not a retail shop but is made to look like a vendor stall. There's just so much detail here from the wood carvings to the tools on the wall rack. It feels like someone just stepped away for a minute and would be right back. Another cool thing about the marketplace is that most anything you can buy here is made to look like an in-universe item.
 

These shelves are in the Toydarian Toymaker shop. Not all of this stuff is actually for sale but it gives you an idea of the detail they put into the space.

In addition to the regular shops, there are two shop "experiences" you can do: Savi's Workshop to build a lightsaber and the Droid Depot, I'll let you figure out what that's for! The funny thing is, awhile back before we knew the trip would have to be postponed, I had gone to a casino and hit enough on a slot machine to get a lightsaber and that's what I put the money away for. As the actual planning got closer to reality, I just wasn't feeling it, even though it's a whole ceremony type thing that you go through to build it. I felt a droid calling me.


This is the Droid Depot! There are a few pre-built droids you can pick up but where's the fun in that when you can build your own? You can choose to make an R-series or BB-series. Along the right wall is a conveyor belt with all the head, bodies, and legs you can pick from in different colors and styles.

The series wasn't even a question, R for me! The real dilemma was what colors to use. I decided to make a Halloween scheme unit only to find out they didn't make the specific head I wanted in black and orange. That's okay though, I really like the head I ended up with. You don't see transparent domes too often in the films but I really like them!
 
Once you have your parts picked out, they bring you over to a workstation. I forgot to mention, you can choose to add a "personality chip" to your droid. If you don't, it makes standard default sounds like R2 or BB-8. There are two different chips each for Resistance, First Order, or Scoundrel. In addition to giving them a different "voice", it also makes them react differently depending on your location.

 
A tech assists you with your build and you get to use this neat screwdriver like thing to connect the legs to the body. The tech also gives you choices of colored panels for your droid. The basic ones are black, white, red, or blue. They have other color sets for sale, of course. The Depot only had purple panels in stock, and I mean all the pegs were stocked with only purple. I'd have to wait until I got home to special order the orange panels.


I got this Poe Dameron X-Wing inspired carry bag from Etsy before the trip and got a few compliments on it. The Depot will give you a Build-a-Bear style cardboard box or you can spend $50 for a Droid Depot backpack to carry your new buddy. I liked the should bag because he was riding on my hip and I could tell when he was making sounds or his head was moving.

I had some fun taking pics of him around the park. It took a couple days to land on a name and I went with R3-IO31, or Eye-Oh for short.


Here's IO with the orange panels, just in time for Halloween!
 
I have way more pictures than I could ever blog so if you'd like to see them, head over to my Flickr album. There are a few pics in there with minor spoilers for Rise of the Resistance so if you haven't been and want to be as spoiler free as possible, you may not want to see them.

Nov 17, 2021

A Trip to Galaxy's Edge - Part 1

 Back in September, I got to realize an almost life long dream of being in Star Wars, on my birthday no less! Okay, I wasn't technically in a movie but I think Disney's Galaxy's Edge is the closest most of us will ever get to experiencing the galaxy far, far away.
 
So, we were supposed to go last year, and we all remember 2020, right? Well, it got to a point where if we didn't go we were going to lose some of the money that had been put down already. Believe me, I was a little trepidatious but you know what? It all worked out. Despite it being DisneyWorld it was easy to stay distanced outside and being indoors or in a line required masking up.
 
The night before my birthday, we were able to snag a reservation at Black Spire Outpost's popular watering hole, Oga's Cantina.


 The whole Galaxy's Edge experience is just mind blowingly awesome! The attention to detail everywhere puts you in Star Wars. The first thing you see upon entering (that I didn't take a photo of!) is a droid detector, just like the one inside the Mos Eisley Cantina. I hadn't made my droid yet (more on that later!) so I'm not sure what happens if you bring one inside.

Nov 5, 2021

Halloween 2021

 
 It's a few days later than I wanted to post this but doing the season wrap party is finally admitting that it's over. I went to Spirit on the 1st and about 80% of the store was dismantled already but I did pick up a Nightmare Before Christmas wreath. The big box stores went from 0 to Christmas in the blink of an eye again with Halloween being jammed into a single aisle. Couldn't even find any treat bags on clearance the day after!

Anyway, it was oh so nice to have Halloween back this year. There were more kids on the street and I got to unleash the Salem Creep which is the highlight of the season.
 

Oct 31, 2021

Monthly Media Recap - October 2021

 Well ghouls, we made it! As usual, I'm posting the Monthly Recap in case you're looking for something new to you to check out tonight. Weather permitting, I'll be heading into Salem to creep people out. Hopefully I can add some new pics to @SalemCreep on Instagram. Whatever you do tonight, have fun and stay safe!

Note: This post contains affiliate links. It's also a bit long :)


Books

I don't usually include books but since it's Halloween and I'm not great at doing long reviews, I wanted to mention Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix. If you're a fan of slasher movies, I highly recommend this new twist on the genre. Hendrix is pretty much my favorite horror author, you can't go wrong with any of his books!

Oct 30, 2021

2021 Halloween Hot Wheels - Plymouth Barracuda

 The final Halloween Hot Wheels of the 2021 series is a Plymouth Barracuda.


Although the name on it is Plymouth Barracuda, this model's name was originally King 'Cuda when it debuted in 1970. There were 9 different versions released in 1970. It wasn't released again until 2002 when it was slightly retooled and called Plymouth Barracuda.

My favorite cars in this series have been the black body with white deco. It makes the designs really pop using simple contrast. Plus, the detail in the line work can really shine.

That wraps up the 2021 Halloween Hot Wheels!
 
If you've been enjoying all the Hot Wheels history factoids, head over to the Hot Wheels Wiki where I crib all my info from.
 
Here's my ranking for this year. It was a tough call between the two black and white entries but I'm a sucker for an exposed engine.

Plymouth Barracuda

Click below to visit the Countdown site with a list of all the participating blogs!

Oct 29, 2021

Halloween 2021 MA Lottery Ticket

Every year, I hunt down the new lottery ticket for the season. Okay, it's not so much of a hunt as waiting for it to show up in stores. This year's is Haunted Cash.
OOOOOOooooOOOOO!


The card itself has a weird foil like refractor thing going on giving it a rainbow shimmer when you tilt it. I feel like they kind of phoned in the overall design and could have gone with a more cohesive theme. Maybe keep the gravestones but replace the witch with a zombie or vampire, something associated with cemeteries? Also, the only other Halloween graphics are if you win, I'd prefer it if there were different Halloween symbols instead of numbers to match. I'm probably putting too much thought into it. I wonder just how much of their budget is allocated for art design.

Do you have any fun Halloween themed lottery tickets in your state? 

I started an open Flickr album for people to post their state lottery tickets. If you have any, please feel free to add them to the album. Or if you could send me pictures/scans I'd be happy to post them.

Click below to hit the Countdown site with a list of all the participants this year!

Oct 28, 2021

Mirror Man Figure - Rocom Toys

 The mad geniuses behind the Mighty Maniax line of figures dropped some new additions recently and there was one that stood out that I just could not pass up!


Mirror Man may or may not be based on a pop star with a smash hit horror music video from the 80s. The facial likeness is pretty amazing! You can almost hear a ghostly "heee-heee!" in the air.

Oct 27, 2021

Graveyard Garage - Kraniator

Allow me to present the first vehicle in the Graveyard Garage that is not Hot Wheels or Matchbox...the Kraniator.


Although this one has only made it into the Garage within the past year or so, research tells me this is from 1999 and it seems to be going for $8-$14 on eBay. This was produced by Maisto which I've heard is a common brand to run into at dollar stores.
 
The chassis may be diecast but the rest of the body is definitely plastic, giving it a lighter feel than your average Hot Wheels. Regardless of the materials, how do you pass up a giant skull with arcane green fire streaking across its dome? And it's not even a human skull with that elongated nose. Just what is it?


Kranitor is comin' to get ya! 
If those giant gold jaws opened, would it eat people or other cars?

Click below to visit the Countdown site with a list of all the participating blogs!

Oct 26, 2021

Classic Creepy Comics -

 All the comics I'll be talking about are legally available for free on Comic Book+. You can read them online or, if you create a free account, you can download them. The site navigation may take some getting used to but I'll be providing links to the specific titles featured.   
 
For the final Classic Creepy Comics of the season, here's a bunch of great covers.
 

 Startling Terror Tales was published by Star Publications and only ran for 8 issues. Oddly, those 8 issues were numbered 4 - 11. The use of color on this cover is just amazing. At the same time, it seems to be warning you away yet daring you to look at it. I can't imagine being a kid and seeing this at the newsstand!


While you may not be familiar with some of the publishers I've mentioned in these posts, I bet many of you will know the name Charlton. The Thing (no relation to the movie or Fantastic Four) ran for 17 issues between 1952-1954. I picked this cover specifically for the image of Death with reading glasses and smoking a pipe. 

Of major note on this series is that it has Steve Ditko's first ever comic cover on issue 12. He also contributed story art in issues 12-15.


Avon Periodicals offered Witchcraft for a short 6 issue run during 1952-1953.


Tales of Horror ran for 13 issues and was published by Toby/Minoan. Another weirdly awesome cover. The variety of the monsters is just so good!

Be sure to click below to see all the Countdown Cryptkeepers!

Oct 25, 2021

Halloween Web - Lady M

Today we're talking to the mistress of the Haunted Parlor, Lady M.
 

Welcome and please introduce yourself to the readers.

Back in 2011, I began the blog Lady M’s Haunted Parlor as a way to connect with other haunters online.  My content revolves around Halloween shopping, crafts, parties, decorating, events, music, and bizarre news stories.  I have been a Countdown to Halloween participant since 2014, and usually focus on wacky events that take place in Manitou Springs Colorado, my place of residence.  We have the Skeleton Craze, Emma Crawford Coffin Races, Ghost Tours and Emma’s Wake to name a few.  I love to dress up, decorate my home and partake of the holiday season with abandon.  Creating a beautiful witch cabinet and a homemade graveyard are my passions.

Oct 24, 2021

Funko's Boo Hollow Pumpkin Showdown Card Game

 It seems like last year's debut of the cute little Boo Hollow characters was a big hit. The gang is back this year with a lot of new merch including more blind bag figures, larger vinyl figures, plushes, and more. I was pretty excited to also see a new card game.


I've always been a game collector and a few years ago I got on a horror/monster collecting kick. When I started, games on those themes were few and far between which led me to eBay and collecting older board games. Then there was an explosion of horror games so I started focusing more on Halloween themed. So I'm always happy to see a new release!

A fun, fast-paced card game featuring the spooky-cute characters from Funko’s Boo Hollow! Play Pumpkin cards to throw Pumpkins at the other players, but watch out—they can play cards right back! Roll the special die to grab more Pumpkins, or dodge out of the way at the last second! Whoever gets hit with more Pumpkins takes a Hit card. Get hit three times and your out! Who will be the last one standing?
 

Oct 23, 2021

2021 Halloween Hot Wheels - '14 Corvette Stingray

 I don't know what it is about them but Stingrays have been a favorite car of mine since I can remember. However, it's the 60s/80s coupe model that I love. I thought the idea of a Transformer that not only turns into a vehicle Stingray but also the animal would be pretty cool.


I love metalflake paint but the designs on this one just aren't clicking with me. I don't think the graphics colors stand out enough on the red body. Maybe if they'd gone all white with the graphics or a different body color it would look better. The whole color scheme seems like it's fighting itself, the red body, purple interior/wheels, and the yellow windshield. This is definitely my least favorite of the 2021 series.


This isn't the best shot of the body but it does show the little details they put into the vehicle interiors like steering wheel and gear shift. I always take the time to check out the interiors because of the details. It's not something they need to do but I really appreciate it.

Click below to hit the Countdown site with a list of all the participants this year!

Oct 22, 2021

Halloween Web - Halloween is Forever in 3D

 The Halloween is Forever podcast crew interviews continue with the third, and final, member of the crew. Now that I think about it, I should have posted Meg's interview last so she could be the final girl.


Please introduce yourself to the readers.

I’m Steve 1/3rd of the Halloween is Forever Podcast. I also host a craft beer podcast called Hop Nation USA where I met my Halloween is Forever co-hosts Meg and Brian. I’m an audio, video, and writing freelancer by trade. It’s possible you’ve listened to a podcast or seen an ad I’ve edited.

What was Halloween like for you as a kid?

Growing up in the rural outskirts of Pittsburgh, neighbors’ houses were real trudges to get to. Not to sound like an old cliche, but there were a lot of uphill climbs or my mom would drive me around. A lot of the time we’d wind up Trick or Treating at malls or in the nicer suburb my grandparents lived in. More houses, bigger candy bars.

Do you have any standout memories?

One year my grandparents took me to a haunted house that was way too much for me at the time. I was only 9 or 10 probably and it was full of dismembered bodies and every monster I can think of. It actually was a few mini houses including walking through a crashed school bus with people in the seats who’d jump at you. It was called Phantoms of the Park, but is now defunct. The Hundred Acres Manor opened where it used to be.

What about favorite costumes?

I had a pretty sick Donatello costume in the 90s, ninja turtle not the artist. In my 20s I learned to incorporate drinking into my costumes. One year I went as a Dr. Krieger from Archer and carried a jar that looked like a science experiment gone wrong. It was really spiked apple cider, some other fruit and food dye.  

How do you celebrate these days?

I’m pretty low key now, but a friend usually throws a pretty big Halloween party which is fun to go.

Do you have any yearly rituals?

I’m horror movies and heavy metal 365, so it’s hard to develop those rituals when it could also be Tuesday. I do recall seeing GWAR one Halloween; that was pretty special. Warm apple cider and the occasional pumpkin beer are probably the only things I reserve for spooky season. 

What is it about Halloween that sticks with us after childhood?

It’s much more of a “let loose” holiday than Thanksgiving and Christmas. The other two people will overeat and drink too much, but a lot of it is coping with family and holiday stress. Halloween there is no cope. It’s all fun for the sake of fun, so you get to overeat, over drink, play out your fantasies of characters you wish you could be. You can be generous in giving out candy with zero expectation of return. You can ignore the things we’re really supposed to be afraid of for some cheap thrills from ghosts and monsters.

Inside the Spookster's Studio

The worst thing to get while trick or treating was anything not candy.

My favorite thing to get was Nerds, Mallo Cups or 5th Avenue bars. I think those last two are really regional candy too. I don’t know I’ve ever seen them outside of PA.

My favorite monster cereal is Count Chocula

Where can people find you online?

You can find Halloween is Forever on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok. The show is available on podcast available on iTunes, Podbean, and anywhere else you find podcasts. New episodes every Monday.

Again, a monster-sized thanks to the Halloween is Forever crew for taking part in this year's interviews. Give their show a listen, it's a really fun time!

Be sure to click below to see all the Countdown Cryptkeepers!

Oct 21, 2021

Nightmares of Halloween Past Book

 I just had to help spread the word about this amazing IndieGoGo project!


Nightmares of Halloween Past is a collection of vintage photos collected over 20 years from yard sales, flea markets, and thrift stores. The book weighs in at 288 pages and includes a pair of exclusive essays on Halloween costumes.


There are plenty more images on the project page, which I strongly suggest checking out even if you don't back the project. $60 seems like a lot but I think the contents will be worth it! Right now they are at 70% funding with 25 days to go. There's still some mystery stretch goals to be unlocked too.


Click below to visit the Countdown site with a list of all the participating blogs!

Oct 20, 2021

Halloween Web - Halloween is Forever - The Sequel

 As promised, we're continuing our chats with the hosts of the Halloween is Forever podcast. Coming at you today, guns blazing, is Meg.


Thanks for joining us! Please introduce yourself.

My name is Megan Seastedt. I work in the beer industry currently as Production Manager at North Country Brewing Company. I've worked in the beer industry since 2010 under various production related roles. I'm currently the co-host of Halloween is Forever podcast along with the rad dudes - Brian and Steve. It's been an incredibly cool outlet to explore my love of horror. In the past, I owned and operated a heavy metal and craft beer festival called Brewtal Beer Festival that may be be in the works to come back next year with some new surprises in store.

Oct 19, 2021

Disney's Haunted Mansion Playing Cards

 Disney has an odd way of merchandising their product. I don't recall seeing these playing cards when visiting Memento Mori, the Haunted Mansion gift shop. Instead, I found these in a shop in Animal Kingdom. Either way, I was happy to add them to my collection.


I do have to commend them for the packaging. They could have released this in a standard box but went with a cool coffin shaped box. Just like they did with this set I picked up in 2014.

Oct 18, 2021

Halloween Web - Halloween is Forever Part 1

 We're shaking up the schedule this week to fit in three....three interviews! AH! AH! AH!
This week we're talking Halloween with the folks behind the Halloween is Forever podcast. They mostly talk horror flicks/shows with a side of snacks and adult beverages. They could call the show Brews & Boos!

Anyway, on to our first subject, Brian.


Please tell the folks about yourself.

My name is Brian Reed and I’m 1/3 of the Halloween Is Forever Podcast—you can find us on any major podcast platform. I’m also 1 of 19 Master Cicerones globally—which is the beer equivalent of a Master Sommelier. Meg, Steve and I all work and are active in the craft beer community, so beer is a common topic on our show as well.

Oct 17, 2021

Punkin Fight Card Game

 Quirky Co. makes a lot of fun card games with different themes, including a few that are perfect for Halloween gaming. This is Punkin Fight.


In this game 2-4 players toss pumpkin bombs at each others clubhouses to attack them. Last clubhouse standing is the winner!

 
The clubhouses have fun addresses like Warlock Street and Graveyard Way. There's also a few monsters in the deck to give you the upper hand. Instead of me going on about how the game works, here's a quick video from the creator on how to play.


Something I love about Quirky Co games is that they're simple enough to explain in a short video. As far as I've seen the creator has a video for every game he's designed, and there's quite a few! The newest game is Even Monsters Get Spooked which is about monsters scaring each other over Halloween candy.

You can find all of Quirky Co's games on DriveThru Cards.

Click below to hit the Countdown site with a list of all the participants this year!

Oct 16, 2021

2021 Halloween Hot Wheels - '71 Maverick Grabber

 Zooming right along with our third Halloween Hot Wheels ride!


The '71 Maverick Grabber has been around since 2010 and this is the 24th release. It's called Grabber because it was "made for grabbing green light battles."
 
I think my favorite aspect of the design is the skull eyes running along the sides.


This one is pretty simple with its white on black art. The designs aren't intricately detailed or colorful but I think that just makes it more elegant looking.The skull is an inverse version of the one used on this year's Rigor Motor.


Be sure to click below to see all the Countdown Cryptkeepers!