Popular Culture Collectibles Reviews

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

'Marvelous' Hasbro


Hasbro Toys has taken the Marvel toy license and ran with it. Never has so much Marvel superhero material hit toy shelves before. Movie tie-ins such as Spider-Man, the Hulk and Iron Man merchandise dominate toy isles and the animated Spider-Man cartoon and Marvel Legends and other figures have become highly-popular with collectors. I have a sampling of four figures from four different series that I believe warrant a closer look.

The new Marvel Universe Fury Files 3 1/2" fully articulated figure set from Hasbro are wonders of miniature articulation and sculpting. The Silver Surfer figure is especially impressive. It's not easy making an action figure exciting when the paint application is one solid color. In this case silver. But Hasbro's sculptors have more than made up for the lack of multi-colors by making the Surfer's muscles really pop! Every tendon, muscle and joint screams detail. I'm especially impressed with the Surfer's upper torso articulation. Its almost impossible to spot where it is. Now that's tight construction! Of course where there's the Silver Surfer, there's his trusty surfboard.

The Fury Files figures also come with a special secret code that lets you go online, register as an agent, enter your secret code and unlock the Marvel Universe. Although the Fury Files figures are smaller than other Hasbro Marvel figures but they are no less impressive. The packaging is very secure, displays the character to its best advantage and is visually appealing.

The Mighty Muggs Venom figure is adorable! I never thought I'd catch myself calling Venom adorable, but in this case he is. He stands about six inches tall, has short stubby legs and arms, an oversize head and a ridiculously long red tongue.

The paint application is simple but well designed, Venom's costume is black with white spider symbols, jagged white eyes and a large deep red mouth with nasty teeth lining the top and bottom. The figure is partially articulated, fitted together securely so as to allow small children to play with it and comes in a handsome box with clear front panel for easy viewing. Toy collectors and kids are sure to love this figure.

A more traditional Venom figure is Hasbro's Spider-Man Super Villain Venom with Jaw Slash. The variant edition comes with arms extended from its sides. Push the button on its back and its jaws slash!

Encased in a clear wraparound plastic container attached to a hanging card, the figure is completely visible, nicely positioned and easy to spot on store shelves.

The figure itself is highly-articulated with tight joints that allow you to position the figure in many action stances. Paint application is tight with no slop over or rough edges although there is a little inconsistency in tone on the arms and torso.

The face is the real clincher with its oversize open jaws, long flailing tongue and shark-like teeth. Overall this is a very well done figure. My only complaint is the lower torso area where the legs connect to it. The ball joints are a little too obvious and could have used a bit more camouflage such as those joints on the rest of the figure.

The Absorbing Man has always been one of my favorite Marvel villains. The idea that a bad guy can simply touch any object and take on its properties appeals to me.

Part of the Hulk Marvel Legends Fin Fang Foom Build A Figure series, the Absorbing Man figure comes with the right leg of the giant dragon that when assembled stands at over 15 inches tall!
The Absorbing Man is all articulation and boasts one of the most impressive paint jobs of all of the Hasbro marvel figures. His upper torso is half flesh and rock while his loser torso, dressed in prison striped pants, consists of a fully transformed to brick left leg and a partially transformed right leg.
His scowling face is pure villain. Careful attention has been given to the eyes and features. He holds his trademark ball and chain and looks prepared to take on the Hulk himself.
Eight figures come in the series. Like the Venom figure the paint application s tight, articulation points are snug and because the figure is painted in multi-colors the upper legs ball joints are better camouflaged than the Venom figure. Overall, a very nice figure.

Monday, December 22, 2008

vtech


OK, I feel deprived. I feel cheated. Why didn't vtech products exist when I was a kid? Of course when I was a kid toys with batteries were few and far between. Transistors had just been introduced and computer chips were more science fiction than science.

Oh well, so it goes. Kids nowadays have a advantage in learning, especially if their parents are smart enough to buy them vtech products.

Here's three new vtech products that any kid will love. They're fun, hi-tech and making learning a snap.

First up is the Kidizoom Camera. This is no kiddie camera. Kids can take photos and movies (yes I said movies) anywhere. A built-in automatic flash fires when lighting conditions are poor and a SD Memory Card can be purchased for the camera if more than 16MB camera memory is needed.

The Camera is built to last with high impact plastic, rounded edges, surface flush buttons, a recessed full-color screen and firm grip extended grips and viewer. The lens is recessed and the view ports are covered by thick clean plastic. Drop it and it still works. It's perfect for kids.

Beside taking photos and movies, kids can also play games on it with additional game packs available. Three games come with the camera as do two interchangeable faceplates.

A special CD comes with photo editing capabilities, a wrist strap is included along with a A/V cable for TV connection and a USB cable for PC connection.

You can edit your photos, add graphics and frames and even add voice-overs for your photos! Forget the kids, this is my camera!

The Double Vision Notebook looks like a real laptop. It comes with a full keyboard, touch pad, mouse with pad and A/V Connection Cable.

A extra large black and white LCD screen allows kids to select the activity, games, puzzle or dozens of other activities included in the Notebook. Four additional Activity Cartridges comes with unit for even more fun.

The Notebook can link to both a TV and VCR for viewing and full screen activity fun. Hot Keys take kids directly to certain activities. There are also speakers, volume controls, Quick Access Multimedia Control Buttons and more.

Kids can make their own presentations with music, photos and display them on TV! What a great toy to introduce kids to computers, word processing, language and business applications and many of the many programs and functions offered by real computers.

Like the Kidizoom Camera, the Double Vision Notebook is rugged and durable; perfect for the on the go kid.

Speaking of kids on the go, vtech has the perfect solution for the active child. Now kids can take fun and learning with them wherever they go. The V. Smile Cyber Pocket Learning System has everything a kid needs to learn, play and create.

It comes complete with a flip-open screen, full-color graphics, Writing Pad, stylus, TV Hook-Up Jack, a V-Link Memory Stick, Joystick buttons than can converts to right to left hand function, volume control, earphone jack and more.

Like other vtech products involving games or activities, the Pocket Learning System allows kids to check their progress, compare their progress to other vtech users online and display their work and activities on TV screens.

How vtech is able to pack so much functionality in their products at such an affordable price is beyond me? I highly recommend these products. They are rugged, ready to use, real learning benefits and really, really fun!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Starlog #372, January


Learn why they remade The Day The Earth Stood Still. Was it necessary? What changes did they make? These and other questions are answered in this issue of Starlog.

Doomsday arrives at Smallville, Keanu Reeves stands still, The Librarian does things by the book and Quantum Of Solace's director Marc Forster helps a vengeful James Bond find closure, meet the new Bond Girl and Comics Scene looks back over all those actors who have played apart in the various Superman series.

Justin Harley takes aim as Green Arrow, Matt Groening coptemplates Futurama and Craig Horner is The Seeker, John Noble brings a twist to being a mad scientist in Fringe and Douglas Nenshall pursues prehistoric prey. Marley Shelton is the Woman Of The Hour, Countdown To History with Jimmy Lydon and take a great space vacation.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Secret Invasion Dark Reign One-Shot


One of the biggest changes to the Marvel Universe after the events of Secret Invasion promises to reshape the entire Marvel mythos. S.H.E.I.L.D. is no more, Tony Stark is ousted and Norman Osborn (the Green Goblin) is put in charge of the nation’s security, including control of the Initiative.

Always hungry for power, Osborn hatches a plan where he will come out with even more power. In a secret meeting with Doctor Doom, Emma Frost, Namor The Submariner, Loki and The Hood, he outlines a plan by which together, they will control the entire planet and Asgard. Should their activities be suspect, Osborn promises to umbrella them under national security.

All agree to the plan, some reluctantly, others with their own agenda in mind. Regardless of each of the participant’s motivation, the marvel universe as we know has changed and not for the best.

Be sure to follow the Dark Reign crossover event over the next several months to find out what marvel’s heroes plan to do about it-if they can do anything at all.

Bendis, Maleev and White deliver a hard-hitting lesson on real world politics masquerading as comic book story. Much of the story’s content mirrors current events. Our world, like the Marvel Universe, is going through turmoil and change. Will it be for the good or has mankind taken one more step forward to its ultimate demise? You decide.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Doctor Who Series 4


From Underground Toys comes Series 4 of its Doctor Who series of toy figures from Character Options, Ltd. From the highly-poseable, fully-articulated set of figures I've selected five that I find particularly cool.

Each and every figure is nicely sculpted with not frayed edge match-ups in the articulation points. paint application is clean with no slop over and each figure captures the likeness of whatever character it is fashioned after.

Package design is first-rate with the figure snuggly fitted behind a double-tier plastic bubble with the first step holding the character's name and description, the second layer the figure itself and the final layer molded into a backing card wraparound. The hanging package is sturdy, not easily bent and protects the figure perfectly.

Figures I have of the set include the Vashta Nerada Suit Creature with its skull behind a clear face space helmet and stripped spacesuit in white and light blue. This is the scariest creature of the set. Imagine coming across this at night!?

The Sontaran Trooper is dressed carapace-style blue metallic body suit with segmented chest, torso and limb armor, oversize shoulder armor and a large deep blue helmet that covers the entire head and face. Along with its three-finger hands comes a formidable black energy rifle.

Donna Noble is the next figure. Her long wavy red hair cascades over her shoulders. She wears a deep brown long coat with fur lining, collar and wrist coverings. She wears deep blue pants and black shoes. Pay particular attention to the details in her face. She comes with a special Top trumps card.

The Doctor comes with five cuddly Adipose creatures. He is dressed in his standard blue pin strip suit, blue shirt and ties, white shoes and he wears a set of horn rim glasses.

Davros comes in a Dalek mobile chair painted silver and black. He is strapped in his cybernetic chair by shoulder and back mounts. they hold his atrophied body. His face and head are deep brown crowned by a silver cranium interlink. His one free hand is encased in a silver cybernetic glove.

His mobile chair has full front controls, wheels that work and lots of detail. All of the Doctor Who figures are highly -detailed, fun to play with and collect and as sales reflect, very popular.

Top Trumps


Do you remember playing War as a kid? Cool card game and easy to play, right? Well, Winning Moves UK Ltd. Has taken War one step further with its Top Trumps Card Game.

Unlike other Collectible Card Games, Top Trumps is not complicated; it doesn’t require an advanced degree in strategy or an encyclopedia for a brain to remember all the stats, moves and characters. It’s fun and fast and best of all, the entire family can play it-anywhere!

Long popular in the United Kingdom, Top Trumps card games are now being introduced into the U.S.A. and they have become an instant hit.

Consisting of 30 cards, each deck is based around a theme. Players split the deck evenly between themselves. The first player places their card down consisting of the highest number from a certain statistic, depending on the deck. All the other players must submit the same statistic. Whoever has the highest statistic wins and keeps the card. Whichever player gets all 30 cards wins the game.

What I find especially nice about the Top Trumps cards is that each has a character on it from whatever particular subject the deck is based on. For example I have several decks: Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Doctor Who, Horror and The Simpsons.

Each individualized deck has face cards with full character stats on the back, including bio information about the character pictured. Not only do you get to see the character you play, but you also learn something about them. In the Indiana Jones cards for example, stats are Adventures, Combat, Cunning, Courage, Greed and Faith & Wisdom. Stats vary per deck.

Another nice thing about the decks is that they come in heavy duty, flip open plastic packs that make for safe and durable protection. Top Trumps come in dozens of types. Pick the sets that interest you.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Betty #177


It's the holiday season and poor Betty accepts a gift from Archie. It's just ducky!

When Betty goes shopping at the local mall she's a little put off that everyone treats her like royalty because her rich friend is Veronica. Every shop owner knows that Veronica spends big bucks and if Betty is there, Veronica can't be far behind.

Tomoko give Betty a little boy advice and what should have been disaster turns out for the best. Everyone is going green-but it takes Veronica's 'green' date to put the rest to shame. Looking through her old diary Betty reminisces about Christmases gone past.Count on Archie Comics for good, clean, wholesome fun in each and very title.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Universal Foursome


Four Universal Studios Home Entertainment DVD sets you need to check out are sure to be big hits this Christmas season.

Overshadowed by the big name comic book movies this past summer: The Dark Knight, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk and Hellboy 2, Wanted delivered comic book action on all fronts.

James McAvoy stars as Wesley who discovers he comes from a long line of assassins belonging to the Fraternity. Angelina Jolie stars as fellow assassin Fox, who convinces him to join the Fraternity to track down the man who killed his father.

Along the way Wesley digs up the history of the Fraternity: a secret assassination organization responsible for killing a few to save the many.

Featuring over-the-top action, ultra-violence and killer visual effects, Wanted delivers on all counts. The 2-disc DVD set includes Digital Copy DVD, extended scenes, featurettes, stunts, motion comics and a few surprises. You're sure to 'Want' it.

Christened as one of the best shows on TV, Battlestar Galactica took a classic TV series from the 1970's and revised, reinvigorated and reinvented it into a thrill-a-minute sci-fi series that keeps viewers glued to their seats and guessing as to what comes next.

Season 4.0 is to be the last of the series. In it viewers are witness to the unending struggle of humans against their robotic creations, the Cylons. As the crew of the Battlestar Galactica desperately struggle to survive and ultimately reach earth, nothing will prepare them for the many dangers, tragedies and triumphs that await them.

Ten episodes make up the DVD set with over ten hours of bonus material, including an extended Razor movie, featurettes, podcasts, deleted scenes, blogs and more.

For a movie with a much lighter tone and happy-go-lucky attitude be sure to watch Mamma Mia! The Movie based on the Broadway musical.

Meryl Streep stars, along with Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth, in the spectacular musical that is sure to make you sing along. Centered around the exploits of mothers, daughters, friends and family, Mamma Mia! is a joyous celebration of life, love and family.

Lots of extras are included such as sing-a-longs for all 22 songs, a 'Making of' featurette, anatomy of a musical number, a behind-the-scenes feature, a music video, outtakes, bloopers, deleted scenes and special Digital Copy. Now that's something to sing about!

Brendan Fraser returns as Rick O-Connell, along with the rest of the O-Connell family, to fight yet another mummy who just won't stay dead.

Jet Li plays the ruthless Dragon Emperor who is brought back to life when a 2,000 curse is broken. His plan is to enslave mankind to satisfy his unquenchable thirst for power. To do so he summons up his long dead army.

The O'Connells battle the Emperor and his army around the world from China to the Himalayas and along the way encounter mystical creatures, danger and adventure. Packed with physical and visual effects, The Mummy: The Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor, is a high-stakes adventure the whole family can enjoy.

The 2-disc Universal DVD set includes a Digital Copy, featurettes, a 'Making of' feature, history lesson, commentary and deleted and extended scenes.

The Day The Earth Stood Still...And Still...And Still


Last night my wife and I went on a date. The previous week I received a pass for two people to an advance screening of the remake of the classic 1951 sci-fi movie The Day The Earth Stood Still.

I was anxious to see the film because of the trailer. My wife also wanted to see it. She looked forward to us spending time together away from the kids, work and our usual weekday routines.

The movie began at 7:30 so we left early, ate out, spent a little time shopping, arrived at the theater, bought a $5 bag of popcorn and settled into our movie theater seats at about 20 minutes before the film started.

Neither my wife or I had ever been to an Imax screening and we were excited by the prospect. After a few minutes of banter from the film's sponsor and the obligatory handing out of door prizes and freebies (I won a $25 gas card) the movie began.

The opening sequence looked promising with a short flash back to the 1920's and the first appearance of an alien probe.

Fast forward to the present where a mysterious object has been detected heading straight for earth at an unbelievable speed. It's target-Manhattan! How convenient.

Just before impact it slows and settles to a rest in Central Park. It's an undulating ball of light. The military shows up with a group of scientists (Jennifer Connelly being one of them). She, of course, is the one who makes first contact after an over zealous soldier shoots the emerging alien. Sounds great, right? Just like the original movie? Wrong! From there things go downhill.

Keanu Reeves plays the stilted, non-emotional alien (no surprise there) Jennifer the hapless female (the first Hulk movie anyone?), Kathy Bates as the crusty government official with a heart of gold (doesn't she always play crusty, heart of gold characters?) and Will Smith's son Jaden, as the emotionally scarred kid with the cynical attitude (another big stretch).

From there the film deviates from the original in content. Instead of an alien diplomat, Keanu (Klattu) was sent to make preparations to destroy mankind because (here it comes--we're destroying the earth with our mere presence! Wow, didn't see that one coming!)

That's right, it's another Hollywood wacko environmentalist propaganda film that places the blame for everything bad that happens to the earth on mankind. Personally I'm getting tired of green this and green that. To paraphrase the late comedian George Carlin, "To think that we (meaning mankind) can have such a devastating effect on our environment is ludicrous and vanity at its utmost." The earth goes through climate changes. It changes with or without us. We are mere specks, flotsam carried away by the wind. Put us all together and we are are minuscule spot on the earth's surface.

Granted we should be good stewards but to the ridiculous extent some environmentalists suggest is preposterous. I for one enjoy my creature comforts. Common sense dictates that you clean up after yourself. Wise use of our resources needs to be practiced but not to the exclusion of everything else.

The story ends with mankind being given one more chance but at a high cost. Trust me when I say, it would be better if the aliens had destroyed mankind.

There are some interesting moments in the film such as the first appearance of Gort, the giant robot guard, the destruction by the nanite locust, the glowing ship and a few (mind you a very few) funny sequences.

The Day The Earth Stood Still is not a horrible movie-it's just not a great movie. They should have left well enough alone. The original classic is far superior, even without all the fancy visual effects. The Day The Earth Stood Still? Leave it stand and rent it on DVD when it comes out.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Musings

What started out as a single page handout/newsletter of 'what's hot' and 'what's not' has blossomed into a print and online publication read around the world.

Whoever would have thought that my attempts to steer customers away from asking me questions while I stocked, counted and priced comic books would turn into a pop culture periodical?

In an attempt to keep customers from using up all my time asking questions about old comic books I created Comics' Corner, a single page publication that provided much needed comic book information-thus freeing me up to do my job.

The response was unexpected to say the least. customers snatched it up, other stores soon wanted copies and for a short time a cable TV show was a possibility. Publishers and manufacturers got on the wagon and provided review copies.

The simple one page periodical grew to two pages, four and eventually eight. Readership reached over 2,000, topping out at just over 5,000. Then came the Internet.

Renamed Collectors' Corner, the website grew at a phenomenal rate. Recently I added this blog. Readership is now over 30,000.

I won't say it's been easy, but it has been interesting and fun. Collectors' Corner continues to bring in new readers each month, new companies provide review samples and I've never been busier.

I enjoy sharing my opinions of products, I still try to bring more companies on board and some of those I already have contact with-I encourage them to provide review samples on a more frequent and permanent basis.

I've discovered the whole secret to doing this kind of publication is to be consistent, reliable and most of all--to never give up. I need to pause here for a moment and give credit where credit is due.

I thank God he's given me this opportunity. I give him full credit. Trust me, I'm not that smart. There is no way I could have pulled this off myself. That may sound corny, but it's true. I also wish to thank my wife and family. Without their support none of this would have been possible.

I hope readers continue to enjoy Collectors' Corner for years to come because I realize without you, the reader, there would be no Collectors' Corner.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Canary And Raider


I've always considered DC Comics' female crime-fighter, Black Canary, to be one of DC's most interesting female character. She's sexy, smart and no slouch when it comes to hand-to-hand combat. She's a born leader, beautiful and has a set of lungs that let her let out a sonic scream that can incapacitate most opponents.

Tonner Doll Company, Inc. has released a beautiful Black Canary high-end doll from its DC Stars line of figures.
The Black Canary figure features wavy blond hair, a beautifully sculpted face with large blue eyes, red lips and a small pert nose.

The figure has long legs, a killer shape and impressive joint articulation and clean, crisp paint application with no blur over and fine delicate brush strokes.

Black Canary comes dressed in high-heel black buccaneer boots, fishnet stockings, a tight-fitting, single-piece, strapless body suit, high-collar cropped leather jacket, fingerless black gloves and choker. It's a stunning figure that is sure to drive fan boys crazy.

Limited to only 300 figures, Tonner's Lara Croft Tomb Raider Full Throttle figure is the latest addition to toner's latest product license.

A Tonner Exclusive, the Full Throttle figure is all woman! The Lara Croft figure is as beautiful as the first Tomb Raider Tonner produced. Same big eyes, long auburn hair, chiseled features, luscious lips and full articulation. Like the Black Canary figure it features first-rate sculpting and paint application.

Standing a full 17 inches tall, the Lara figures comes dressed in a Henley black, leather body suit, black motorcycle jacket with red trim, black motorcycle boots with real zippers and gun holsters for her dual pistol and three grenades.

Both figures come with display stands, are carefully foam packed and ribbon secured in tissue paper inner cover boxes and include silicon packs to deal with any moisture.

Star Wars Sensation


I've always admired how DK Publishing, Inc. has produced some of the finest Star Wars books on book shelves. Few companies can come close to DK's outstanding books that look at every aspect of all of the Star Wars films.

Star Wars fans are sure to be delighted by the many oversize Star Wars books that are available.
Beginning with Episode 1 continuing through Episode 6, DK Publishing (in partnership with Lucas Books) have created a comprehensive library of Star Wars books.

If you're fascinated by the many locations and exotic worlds seen in all six films then be sure to pick up DK's Inside The Worlds Of Star Wars book that offer complete guides to all of the locations drawn to perfection and shown in full-cutaway views. Wow! A big wow!

Like the location books, DK's Star Wars Incredible Cross-Sections examines the many craft seen in all of the Star Wars films lets readers see the inner guts of various space ships, land vehicles and more.

If these books weren't enough you can get all six films assembled in two separate books of Complete Locations and Complete Vehicles Cross-Overs.

If you're photograph fans and not big into illustrated cross-sections then DK's Star Wars Visual Guides are filled with pages packed with full-color photographs from each film.

I can't stress how nice these books are. Everything you ever wanted to know about Star Wars and its inner workings are contained in these fabulous books. I spent hours examining each page, reading all the interesting text and losing myself in the Star Wars Universe.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Pop Culture Club


Pop Culture Club members play video games, dress up as their favorite characters and enjoy candy and snacks.

The club was created three years ago by myself in order to allow students to share their common 'pop culture' hobbies.

I affectionately refer to it as 'Nerd Nirvana'.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Wizard Platinum, January

Two of the Watchmen movie characters share the cover of Wizard Platinum for January. Inside see how the graphic novel comes to life on the movie screen.
Things start off strange with an interview with Alan Moore, get ready for some War Stories, behold the new Spawn and sit around the Spider-Man Roundtable.


Darkness and Pitt team-up, Bendis talks Avengers, check out the Top Cow 2009 Sketchbook and DC's Dan Didio shares some secrets.Jeph Loeb and Darwyn Cooke talk about their future plans, IDW's Star Trek counts down, Geoff Johns has some big plans for the Green Lanterns, listen to some Shop Talk, Alex Ross' Project Superpowers heats up and Wolverine's origin is played out on the Silver Screen. Star Trek gets rebooted as does G.I. Joe, Wizard prices Wolverine titles and appearances and Heroes' Tim Kring speaks.

Summer Art

I thought I'd share a few select pieces of art that I produced last summer to use this school year to instruct my students in different drawing medium and techniques.









Sunday, December 7, 2008

2008

2008 has been an unusual and interesting year in the world of pop culture and collectibles.

This past summer saw some outstanding movies such as The Dark Knight, the return of a classic hero in Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, Marvel Comics best movie ever: Iron Man and the re-engineering of a previously failed movie entry: The Incredible Hulk, Hell Boy had a second go around, Wall-E demonstrated that even robots can have souls, Prince Caspian added to the Narnia legend, Daniel Craig returned as James Bond in Quantum Of Solace and Kung Fu Panda surprised everyone. Of course there were a few clunkers. Speed Racer anyone? DVD sales are strong.

Comic books had a Crisis at DC, a War at Marvel, more licenses for Dark Horse and Image Comics expanded its independent creator titles. Other smaller companies came and went, with a few exceptions holding on.

Trading cards have become more of a specialty item with collectors snatching up high-end, special insert sets predominately from Rittenhouse, Inkworks and Topps.

The game industry suffered some setbacks, most notably the termination of HeroClixs.

Video games and video game systems were and are red hot.

Book publishing is suffering but surprisingly coffee table editions are big sellers. Less novels are being published and read.

Magazines have taken a big hit as more and more publishers loose ad revenue and have cancelled titles or switched over to the Internet.

Toys continue to sell, but split into two camps: to kids who actually play with them and collectors. Small specialty toy companies are seeking more commercial tie-ins and hot properties.

Models are still popular with a key group, but rising prices and other hobbies are slowly eroding the hobby down.

Anime and manga are as popular as ever. However, more and more fans are downloading freebies off the Internet, thus cutting into sales.

Diecast collectors are finding it more difficult to find what they want and sports collectors are watching memorabilia and sports events skyrocket in price.

With the struggling U.S. and world economy it will be interesting to see what's in store for 2009.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Favorite Things


Thought I'd share a photo of some of my favorite TV shows, comic books, movies, etc.

James Bond 007 In Motion


What better way to capture the fast-paced and exciting world of super spy James Bond 007 than in a new set of Lenticular trading cards? Every classic scene from all of the James Bond films, including Casino Royale.
Consisting of 63-cards (I got a full set) in its base set, the cards come four cards per pack with 24 packs per box. Each box is guaranteed to have two Autograph Cards (Mine are of Sid Haig I Diamonds are Forever and Richard Sammel in Casino Royale) and two Relic/Costume cards (I received two pieces of Felix Leiter tuxedo cloth and three pieces of James Bond cloths-both from Casino Royale.)
Randomly inserted Bonus Cards include:
· Bond Girls Are Forever (3 for me)
· Bond Allies (2)
· Bond Villains (2 again)
Each case contains a Case-Topper Vesper Lynd Dual-Costume Card and with every three cases collectors get a signed Guy Hamilton Autograph Card. Other bonuses come with larger case orders.
Each Base Card is a study in motion that gives you the actually feeling of watching a scene from a Bond movie. “You’re joking!” “I never joke about my work 007!”

The Arina Tanemura Collection


Enjoy The Art Of Full Moon and Shojo Beat while looking at Viz Media's The Arina Tanemura Collection.
Feast your eyes on page after page the lush illustrations by Arina Tanemura. Flip through this impressive work with its delicate illustrations complemented by vibrant colors, clever compositions and accompanying text observations by the artists.
Arian Tanemura has influenced and inspired Shojo Manga fans from all over the world. Modest and unassuming, the artist constantly strives to improve her artwork and genuinely seems surprised by her legion of fans' adoration of her.
This lovely oversize paperback book includes a slip cover, a translucent front page and afterword by the artist.

Castlevania Judgment


Rated T for teen adolescents, Castlevania Judgment for Wii from Konami, enters the 3D versus-action genre. Featuring both old and new characters the game with beautifully rendered characters and landscapes and fully multiplayer capable.
Choose to fight for the good or evil in 30 new exciting environments and with new characters, one of which used time-based magic attacks and weapon cloning.
Fully integrated with the Wii hand control, Castlevania Judgment allows players to swing, stab, jab, slash and maneuver their way across some dangerous and clever traps and terrains.
Use Wii's Remote and Nunchuk to create weapons, gain health, set traps and even get help from monsters and ghoulies. Use Judgment's Wi-Fi capabilities to tap into Castlevania, Order of Ecclesia to unlock exclusive game play.
Loaded with interesting characters, inventive environments and clever game play, Castlevania Judgment delivers.

Schuco--By Air Or Land


This is the first opportunity I've had to review Schuco's diecast aircraft. And I must say that I am impressed. Like all of its other diecast vehicles, Schuco does not skimp on detail and craftsmanship. The aircraft are amazing aviation miniatures with full fuselage, propeller, jet, cockpit and landing craft details. case in point:
The Ju-Air Junkers JU 52/3m - Iwc vintage 1:250 scale aircraft is a real beauty with its textured surface sweptback wings, three props, clear cockpit, extended landing gear and amazing paint application that includes wings details, windows and cockpit trim. A rounded display base is also included.
The Boeing 747SP American Airlines 1:600 scale passenger jet is a silver with gray and white trim flying monstrosity that boasts four engines, four set of four wheel landing gear and some amazing window, body detail and cockpit decals. How Schuco was able to jam so much detail into such a small diecast astounds me.
From Schuco's Junior Line 1:43 Scale collection comes its VW T5 "Notarzt" 1:43 ambulance painted in white and orange. Details include rubber wheels, full interior details including multi-seat, tinted windows, VW grill accents, side-mirrors, roof lights and decal lettering. I almost expect to zoom off on an emergency call!
From Schuco's Edition 1:87 Scale series comes another rescue vehicle, its Scania "Feuerwehr", turntable ladder, fire engine. Details to look for are a working ladder, full cab and body details that include decals, accented compartments areas, interior cab details, red and white paint scheme and rubber tires mounted on silver and red wheels.
Also in red and white is Schuco's Mercedes-Benz L311 "Feuerwehr Frankfurt a. Main" flatbed truck with twin blue roof lights, oversize red wheels with rubber tires, roof numbers, grill logo, enclosed three window cab with twin rear cab windows and transmission and gas tank details under the vehicle.
The Porsche 356 A Coupé is a cream colored vision of speed with its low to the ground profile, slanted trunk, small tapered side windows and body hugging bumpers. Oversize chrome wheels make this car a real visual treat.
All of the Schuco vehicles have tight paint application with no slop over, crisp details and body sculpting and nice little extras like chrome accents, accurate decals, moving parts and sturdy packaging that securing holds each vehicle in place.

Monogram Marvel


Monogram International is 'Marvel'ous! Marvel Comics' characters have always been popular as toys and action figures. But, did you know they also make cool miniatures, keychains and banks?
Yep, now you can carry your favorite Marvel character around in you pocket guarding your keys, deposit your hard-earned cash in a Marvel Bust Bank and collect all the Marvel Miniature Alliance figures.
Venom never looked more formidable than he does as Monogram's Venom Bust Bank. With his long serpentine tongue, claw-tipped hands, sinister white eyes and muscular body, Venom makes a perfect protector for your money. The Bust is nicely sculpted, tightly painted and a figure you can 'bank' on.
Monogram's Marvel Miniature Alliance figurines include Iron Man, Spider-Man and The Hulk. Each is a perfect miniature representation of the Marvel character it is fashioned after. Although small, each figure packs some impressive sculpting, no slop-over paint application and a killer pose.
Throw a keychain on a Marvel Alliance Miniature and you have perfect pocket-size protectors for your keys, change and whatever else you carry in your pocket or purse.
Venom, Wolverine and Captain America are three of the figures and like the regular Miniature Alliance figures thaey boast tight sculpting, colorful paint application and dynamic poses.
Check out Venom's tongue, Wolverine's claws and Captain America's shield. Make Mine Marvel-and Monogram!

Rogue Leaders


Seeing LucasArts now as the established entity it is you'd never think that at one time the video game developer was a maverick and rogue when it came to game development.
George Lucas provides the foreword to author Rob Smith's new Rogue Leaders from Chronicle books.
Discover how the fledgling company got its start, where it got it ideas and how it slowly developed its own style and innovative approach to video games.
Check out the production sketches, concept art, game character and environment designs and final stages of design is completed. Readers will enjoy reading about LucasArts first attempts at video games from Maniac Mansion to the current ultra-sophisticated Star Wars and Indiana Jones games.
Filled with art, text and even a timeline, Rogue Leaders is a real treat for video game lovers and a fascinating exploration into the creation of a industry giant.