Popular Culture Collectibles Reviews

Friday, December 18, 2009

St. Johns, Kubert, Texeira And Horley


Recently Vanguard Productions released four new books in its artist’s series.  Before I begin reviewing each book individually I’d like to comment on the books as a whole.
As a graphic designer I know how important it is to choose the right type of paper depending on the type of print product you want to promote.  In the case of art books it’s especially important to choose the right cover and interior stocks.
Vanguard has done an excellent job selecting the stock that best complements and enhances the art in each of its books.  Both the cover and interior pages are of coated stock, yet not so high gloss coated as to be too reflective and detract from the art.
Paper stock also determines ink absorbs ion which is especially important when it comes to text.  Text must be crisp and clean and easy to read.  So is the case in Vanguard’s books.
Paper stock must be stable enough to trim leaving crisp edges and no fold over, display colors in their proper hue and intensity, handles scoring and keep small details from smudging or disappearing all together.  Binding must be snug with tightly bound, stitched or glued pages so that the books hold up. All of the books do just that.
Copy structure is equally important in art books.  Too much copy detracts from the art, not enough leaves the readers slightly frustrated having not received enough information.  I was impressed that in each art book I’m about to review that their was just enough copy to hold my interest, of appropriate size and line spacing (leading) for easy reading and very informative context-containing not only interesting facts about the art but facts about the artists as well.
I felt that after reading each book that I knew the artists personally as well as their motivation, work ethic and capabilities. 
Overall production value on each book rates high.  I plan on making these titles an important part of my collection.  Well done.
The Paintings Of J. Allen St. John: Grand Master Of Fantasy by Stephen D. Korshak is a treasure trove of information on the artist’s life as well as a wonderful showcase for his art, both black and white and color.
The paperback cover immediately grabbed my attention with its painting of a giant tiger with two people on its back.  It’s easy to see the influence St. John’s work had on such artists as Frank Frazetta and many others.  As with all the color paintings in the book, the cover painting consists of vibrant brush strokes, stylized character poses and a dynamic composition. 
I have to admit I was not that familiar with Allen St. John’s work.  I’ve seen it reproduced before and I knew that his work graced many pulp magazine covers but I had no idea how extensive his work was or how important it is to modern fantasy art.
Writer Lin Carter provides the introduction to kick off the visual tour of St. John’s work through the early to middle parts of the 20th Century. 
Artist Vincent Di Fate, a renowned artist in his own right, provides the copy for the first chapter.  He examines St. John’s artwork and how it matured over the decades.
Following chapters look at St. John’s career beginning with his early days a struggling young artist trying to establish his own style and career.
Starting at his youth the book looks at his struggle to set a course for his art.  He struggled to decide whether to be a fine artist, illustrator, portrait artist or author.  Ultimately he decided upon a little of all four with most of his work concentrated on fantasy paintings. 
Starting as a realist, St. John’s work slowly progressed to a more interpretive style with hints of fantasy and the erotic.
As he grew older he found himself in high demand as a book illustrator, magazine and book cover painter and perhaps his best known work as the artist who defined and set the standard by which all other Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Tarzan and John Carter of Mars artists followed.
For a period he did Western paintings, high adventure, mystery and science fiction work.  Regardless of the genre, St. John defined and refined each in its time.
I really enjoyed this book and its look back at a giant of fantasy illustration and painting.  I found myself recognizing the style elements of artists who followed St. John in the fantasy and science fiction illustration field.  The man’s hand can be seen in many of today’s best artists work.
For a wonderful history lesson and fascinating look at one of the most influential artists of modern times be sure to pick up The Paintings Of  J. Allen St. John: Grand Master Of Fantasy.
Another master of illustration who began his career in the 20th Century is cartoonist and illustrator Joe Kubert.  Often referred to as one of the legends of comic book illustration Kubert downplays his fame.  In his 80s, Kubert still produces huge amounts of work both as an instructor at his Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art and as a commercial artist.
Joe began his career in the Golden Age of comics, and continues to produce viable and valuable pieces of art.  His recent foray into the graphic novel field has garnered him praise both inside and outside the industry.  His style has influenced such comic book luminaries as New Adams, Joe’s sons: Adam and Andy, and scores of established artists.
Kubert’s style can best be described as minimal.  He believes no line should be wasted or any work of art overdone.  You can see it in all of his illustrations, cartoon or otherwise.  His clean crisp line work, strong sense of design and mastery of light and shadow and his drawings of the human figure are without peer.
Joe continues to improve his style and try new techniques and media.  In How To Draw From Life, Kubert offers lessons on drawing the human figure and face in a series of one minute to multi-minute demonstrations and examples.
Work contained in the book spans his many years as an illustrator and demonstrations show how sparse lines and careful studies of the human form result in beautiful illustrations.  His demonstrations on lighting, perspective, page composition, and technique are all complemented by insightful text and instructions.  It’s easy to see why Joe Kubert is renowned and revered in the comic book industry.
Tex: The Art Of Mark Texiera: The Artist’s Great Escape came as a big surprise to me.  I’ve always loved Mark’s comic book work-especially his Ghost Rider series and his comic book covers paintings.
I was unprepared and caught off-guard when I saw his commercial art work and paintings.  The man is a powerhouse of imagination and a master of illustration and painting media.  His new book, co-written by Renee Witterstaetter, looks into his impressive career.
Mark was born and raised in New York City amongst somewhat less than savory surroundings.  As a young man he was entrenched within a rough environment with street gangs and poverty all about hi,.  Still his dream to become an artist motivated him to create despite his situation and with the encouragement of a teacher Mark was able to enter a prestigious art school and excel.
Soon after gradating he acquired work and has been producing art ever since.  Besides his comic book work Texiera is also an accomplished painter and illustrator with works gracing book covers, movie production pieces, trading cards and other commercial art projects. 
The Art Of Mark Texiera contains examples from all of his projects.  What I really liked about the book is that it contains sketches and preliminary drawings for much of Mark’s finished paintings.  I enjoy seeing how he puts his ideas down on paper and formulates his final work.  Too often people who look at an artist’s wok don’t appreciate the amount of time and effort it took to create the final piece.
Mark is very candid about his background, his education, his work and his life in general.  His observations and insights into producing art are invaluable and his wicked sense of humor often shines through his prose.   The book is well laid out with black and white illustrations and color paintings evenly distributed throughout its pages.  This makes the book fun to look at as visual treats pop up unexpectantly.
Mark Teixeira’s work is well represented in its pages and both looking at and reading the book is extremely satisfying.
Hailing from Milan, Italy, artist Alex Horley has taken the comic book and fantasy and science fiction worlds by storm. 
Trained as a classical artist, Alex’s love for fantasy soon began infiltrating his work.  Coupling his mastery of the human form and painting he infused fantasy with reality to produce some of the most striking fantasy paintings ever seen.
In the Alex Horley Sketchbook Alex leads the reader through his career and offers some helpful artistic insights and comments on his various projects in the fantasy and comic book fields.
The book contains examples of his art from all of the fantasy genres and provides sketches, comprehensive drawings and final pieces both in black and white and color that showcase his mastery of style, human anatomy, lighting and shadow, composition and environments.
Take a moment to absorb the sheer beauty of his value studies with their strong asymmetrical and symmetrical balances, overlapping figures and dynamic poses, his fine use of line and shading and composition.  I know how difficult it is to arrange elements on a page to make them interesting.  I tip my hat to his talent.  He truly is a master of composition. 
Equally impressive is his ability to create art in different styles.  Although he has his own unique ‘take’ on subject matter, he is able to emulate other artists’ styles and transform his work to fit any particular project.  It’s no easy task as I can attest.  I’m often called upon to change my style to complete a project.  Once again I bow to his expertise.
Purchasing all of these books from Vanguard Productions is money well spent.  As a veteran artist or novice it would be a wise investment to purchase these books not only for their visual value but for their instructional value as well. 

Sunday, December 13, 2009

W900, '57 And '72


"Big wheels movin', gotta keep on movin', big wheels movin', movin on!" At some point in their life every little boy, and some girls, wants to be a truck driver.  I know I did .  There's something about the open road and traveling the width of the United States that draws you to them.  The freedom, the sense of exploration and excitement of what's over the next bend has always motivated explorers and truck drivers are the last of a dying breed.
But, where would a trucker be without his or her truck?  Revell understands the long history of trucking in this country and produces miniature reproductions of these mighty machines.  Its latest is the Kenworth W900. 
This massive ten wheel monster is a modern miracle of engineering.  Chromed out with a full grill, wide front bumper, twin diesel stacks, antennae, side mirrors, chrome wheels, horns, trim and lights the Kenworth is a real beauty of gigantic proportions.
Check out the incredible details such as a full cabin instrument panel, seats and twin window sleeping compartment, wheels flaps and hinged cabin that allows you to see the truck's engine and front suspension and exhaust. 
The details don't stop there.  There's more. How about the chrome steps, deep blue painted cab with lightning decals, trailer hitch and side storage units, tubing and more!?  Could this impressive truck require nothing less than a level 2 model-making expertise that includes full paint and glue assembly?
I still remember back in Michigan, where I grew up, that one of the most prized cars to drive was a '57 Chevy Bel Air.  Its swept back design that included rear fins, aerodynamic body, open front grill and bumper detail, twin hood lights and emphasis on chrome made it the perfect car for the younger set.
Revell has recreated this classic car as part of its California Wheels line.  Also a level 2 vehicle, the Two-Door Sedan 2 'n 1 allows you to change the paint scheme, add trim and body details and hubcaps while retaining its red stock Chevy engine.  As with all Revell car models you'll get full interior details on the dash and compartment, clear heavy plastic windows, full chrome detailing, decals and other little extras that makes Revell the standard by which other model manufacturers must match.
Revell's '72 Hurst Oldsmobile Cutlass 2 'n 1 comes as either a light gray convertible with black roof compartment or a deep red convertible with a gray roof compartment.  Both cars come with two-tone body details, plenty of chrome, impressive interior details right down to the dials and a huge engine under their working hoods. The model is part of Revell's Special Edition series featuring  optional parts and new tooling. 

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Avatar


James Cameron's new science fiction/fantasy movie, Avatar, promises to be one of the most innovative and ground-breaking films of all time.  Technological advances in computer imaging allowed Cameron to create a film where the line between reality and computer imaging is blurred.  Early trailers have movie goers excited.  If the man who created Terminator, revitalized the Alien franchise and brought the Titanic up from the depths holds true to form, Avatar should be phenomenal.
Equally innovative and ground-breaking is Mattel Toys' new Avatar action figures and vehicles.  The first thing that is different is the packaging.  Although the figures are bubble-packed, they are not the traditional bubble packs.  Bubble chambers holding the figures are set to the side of the card and protrude slightly in the back displaying the I-Tag.  The vehicles or steeds are fully-contained in illustrated boxes with full stats on the back.  They also contain I-Tags.
I-Tags are small rectangular I-Info components that when placed in front of a Webcam (after loading a software application) allow the viewers to control a 3D Avatar model on his or her computer screen.  It's like getting a real toy and virtual toy all in one package!  Cool!
Avatar action figures come in two sizes: 3 1/2 to 4 inches and 6 to 7 inches-give or take.  The Norm Spellman figure (like all Avatar figures) is highly-articulated (hard to believe with such a small figure), nicely detailed in paint application and sculpting and comes with a rifle that it easily holds in either hand.
The small Avatar Jake Scully figure is equally articulated and crafted, is multi-blue, comes with a spear and is slightly taller than its human counterpart.  The larger Jake Scully figure is dressed similarly (with more detail befitting its size) comes with a spear and is articulated even more.  Articulation points are nicely blended into the figure either in join creases or hidden by clothing folds.  Paint application is especially nice (no rough edges or slop over) as is the tight sculpting.
The Direhorse Avatar steed looks like a mix between a terrestrial horse, anteater and insect with its six legs.  Its a muscular beast in muted grays and mottled blue and it, like the Avatar humanoid figures, is highly-articulated right down to its haunches, torso, neck and legs.  It comes with a saddle that Avatar figures easily sit upon without falling off.
The RDA Grinder is a massive land vehicle with independent suspension, twin double wheels in front.  Sides are heavily armored and in the rear twin-tracks enable the vehicle to cross nearly any terrain.
The Grinder is equipped with an arsenal of weapons including missiles, chain gun and lots of armor.  Its driven much like a snowmobile with bike-like handles, has a single contoured seat, a minimal windshield and front-mounted engine.  Highly-manueverable, the Grinder is small but extremely tough and formidable.

Divinity II: Ego Draconis


Guest review by Sopheap Eang
Divinity II: Ego Draconis plays similar to the online giant World of Warcraft.  That's not a bad thing, why change something that isn't broken, right? Did I mention it didn't go online? It's my one and only complaint.
The story starts off with a very well made cut scene that includes the soon to be nemesis.  Afterwards the player is sent off to a tutorial village.  Here, the basics of the game are taught. The game uses standard WASD controls are us-ed.  The number keys 1 through 6 are used to map certain skills or items for quick use.  All of the other windows for items, the world map, etc. can be accessed using the ESC key.  Each window can also be accessed by individual keys.
Something to be noted is that every character is voiced. It's a nice touch.  The graphics in the game are acceptable. It doesn't do a whole lot to "raise the bar", but it does a good job of maintaining the standard. With different computers, different impressions are made.  To truly appreciate the game, a top notch computer is a must.
Throughout the adventure, a multitude of environments are visited.  Woodland paradises where small rabbits frolic in the fields. To dark caves and corridors where turning a corner could mean death. One scene I personally found enjoyable were raiding goblin settlements. Then taking their hearts to sell to a soldier in a nearby village. 
Quests in this game are a large source of where a player gets his/her points to level up.  These quest made me question my sense of right and wrong.  For example, it's a time of famine, and a villagers pigs, who he thinks of as family, are taken by soldiers to feed other starving people. Will you sympathize with the pigs' owners.  Ultimately causing the death of others, or will you say its okay to part a man from his "kids".  There are many quests that make you think about good and bad. They shape who you are in the world of divinity.
Character development is where all the replay value is coming from.  The player has control over every aspect of their character.  Their physical prowess with melee weapons, their to pick off targets from a distance, and their metal strength to perform magic.  Notice I said "and", the game doesn't limit a player to classes.  Having the ability to mix and match skills make gameplay very different for different character builds.  Giving hours and hours of play.
Divinity II: Ego Draconis from Larian Studios puts up a good fight against other games in the RPG genre. I can see myself playing this for a very long time.  Making this game worth every penny it's worth.

Fangoria #289, January


Horror writer Stephen King picks out what he considers scary, Monster Invasion has the Crazies, Hansel And Gretel, Demonic Toys, Distortions Unlimited and more horrific goodies.  The Apocalypse arrives soon in Legion, pigs get their revenge in Pighunt and Horrorfest 4 has some new flicks.
Daybreakers introduces a new kind of vampire, Fangoria's Horrorcade plays some new scary videogames including Demon's Souls, look out for Lesbian Vampire Killers, Trolls return and get ready to provide some Blood, Sweat And Vampires. 

Ultraviolet


"Groovy!"  "Far out!"  That's what you'll say once you take a look at Ultraviolet, the new book from Abrams, written by Daniel Donahue, that includes 69 classic blacklight posters from the Aquarian Age and Beyond.
Get ready to relive the best of the best of rock and roll and social upheaval and commentary.  Look for reproductions of classic blacklight posters featuring The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Robert Crumb, the drug culture, environmental consciousness, free love and other pivotal social changes of the 1960s and early 1970s.
"Let the sunshine. Let the sunshine in," on these spectacular and blacklight collection of classic posters.  "Can you dig it?"

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Beatles Rock Band


No other band in the history of rock and roll has had more influence on music and popular culture than The Beatles.  From their early days of performing in small 'dungeon' clubs throughout Europe to their final days as a studio band with Apple Records, The Beatles Rock Band for PS3 from EA and Harmonix delivers The Fab Four to Beatles fans worldwide.
Jam with the band or sing along with up to three singers-no matter which your choose, you'll  live, breath and perform as only The Beatles could. 
I grew up watching The Beatles.  I remember seeing them when they first appeared on the Ed Sullivan show as mop top teenyboppers during the early 1960’s.  I watched as they progressed to Nehru jackets, experimented with drugs, embraced Eastern religion, joined Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, walked on Abbey Road, split up and went their own creative ways. 

I remember when John Lennon was murdered and George Harrison died of cancer.  Thank God we still have Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.

The Beatles: Rock Band has captured the sheer exuberance and joy of watching the band perform.  Clever animation and background sequences emulate the periods when the performed their hits.  I got a real kick out of watching the psychedelic sequences and the Abbey Road studio period.
The video game starts off with a clever sequential animated short that takes viewers through the entire experience of The Beatles, from teeny bopper to longhair to socially conscious commentators.
Hidden jewels let you see actual footage of The Beatles at play, in public and at work.  They really give you a connection to the band members-not as iconic trendsetters, but as real human beings caught up in a cultural phenomenon.  The Beatles changed the face of society, from the way dressed to their very public opinions, use of drugs and free spirits.
The Beatles: Rock Band allows players to experience what it must have been like performing as a Beatle-both in front of live audiences and in the studio.
Unlike other Rock Band games, The Beatles game lets you play selected greatest hits as they were performed.  No additional band members can be added-although you can add some extra vocals and there are no audiences except when The Beatles performed live.
All-in-all The Beatles: Rock Band is a killer video game with great graphics, and  an entertaining and well-executed format (I love the historical accuracy) and lots of fun to play or sing along with.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Steelers: The Story Of Six Championships


Football is definitely America's Game and the Steelers are an important part of that game.  They were the fist team to win four Super Bowls and the six Lombardi trophies.
Warner Home Video present six of the Pittsburgh Steelers most memorable games starting in 1974 to their recent Super Bowl win in 2008. 
Look for interviews with past and present Steelers superstars including Joe Greene and Troy Polamahu.  Join NFL films and watch the Steelers pile drive their way to Super Bowl wins straight from the mouth of those that were there.  Six-discs make up this impressive set of Steelers magic.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

WWE 2009


Are you ready to rumble!?  Get set for the roughest, toughest back-busting Set of wrestling cards to come down on the mat in years.
Topps Trading Cards presents WWE 2009 that throws in so many extras you'll think you won the world wrestling championship!
Seven Cards come per Foil Pack with 24 Packs per Box.  Ninety Cards make up the Base Set (I got a full Set) and every Pack comes with a special Legends OF The Ring Card.  Every sixth Pack contains a Reign Of Honor Card and randomly inserted throughout the Packs are Ringside Relics (I got a piece of The Miz' shirt), Autograph Cards (make mine Ricky Steamboat), Dual Legacy Autographs (rats!) and Signed Mat relics (rats again!).
The cards have great collation, brilliant color photographs, crisp, clean trim edges and lots of cool inside info and facts. Look for coded Cards that let you go online for special Virtual Cards.
Topps graciously provided an unopened Box as a giveaway.  For a chance to win, send me your email at bamcomics@juno.com.  A winner's name will be drawn at random.  The winner's name will be announced here next month.

Up

From Disney/Pixar comes a delightful tale of an old man's love for his deceased wife and his promise to go on one last adventure.
Seventy eight year old balloon salesman Carl Fredrickson has lived a long and peaceful life with the love of his life, Ellie.  For over 50 years they lived together in a cute little bungalow content to share in their love for one another despite being childless and living a rather 'dull' life.
All that changed when Ellie passed away, leaving Carl lonely, somewhat bitter and determined to fulfill his wife's last wish to move to and explore the wilds of South America.
Carl hatches a plan.  When an old folks' home comes to take him away, he launches his home into the wild blue yonder held aloft by thousands of balloons.  He plans to fly to South America and live out his last days in the place his beloved wife always wanted to visit.
When he picks up an unwanted passenger-Russell, a local Wilderness Explorer who happened to be under his porch looking for a Snipe.   Carl had sent Russell on a fool's errand to find the fictional beast in order to get him out of his hair.
Together they arrive in South America and bump into a large native bird-a bird the unscrupulous explorer Muntz wants for his very own and he'll stop at nothing to get it.  Even if it means killing Carl and Russell and anyone else who gets in his way.
Carl and Russell and their new ally, a talking dog (Dug) owned by the explorer, who defects, set out to save the large bird, its family and stop the explorer in his tracks.  It's thrills, spills, chills and lots of sentimentality in Up-an uplifting film about love and family.
A DVD, Blu-ray and Digital Copy come in the DVD set.  Look for lots of extras like story concepts, art, featurettes, games and more-so much more! 

Up In Flames


Are you ready to put a little sizzle in your saddle?  How about some flame in your fanny?  A little butane in your behind?  Then get ready for Greenlight's Limited Edition 1:64 diecast, Up In Flames, Muscle Car Garage vehicles.  Now that's a mouthful!
Six revved up mean machines on four wheels come packaged in attractive bubble packs that include full vehicle stats on the back inset panel and they're rugged enough to take some serious punishment-just like the vehicles they contain.
Each vehicle: five cars and one truck, feature killer paint jobs from flame burst front hoods decorations to full side and body checkerboard flame decor.   Hot, hot, hot!
Vehicles include Compresso 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T painted in a bright blue with white hot flames, large chrome wheels and full interior details, Chain 1969 Buick GS 400 convertible in deep orange (including the interior) and oversize chrome bumpers and wheels and Traditional 1971 Chevrolet C-10 truck painted black with yellow front flames, red wheels and silver trimmed cabin.
Tribal Hatchet 1970 Plymouth Road Runner is a bright metallic purple with chrome wheels and trim, black interior and full window details, the 1966 Ford Galaxie 500 Swiss Cheese painted a bright red with yellow side flames, white walls and a huge interior and Serpentine 1967 Chevrolet Corvette painted a deep red with wraparound front and side flames, chrome running boards and oversize chrome wheels.
Each and every vehicle is tightly crafted, boast clean, crisp paint application precise chrome accents and incredible interior details.

Domo


Domo, that lovable fuzzy body, gaping mouth, sharp teeth cutie is a big hit in the U.S. after its introduction from Japan.  Dark Horse Deluxe and Qee present their 2" Qee Collectible Figure that also includes a Limited Edition Mystery Domo Qee carefully hidden in a box along side the visible Qee in the set.  What's mine?  Aww, that would be telling.  Let's just say it's awesome!
The Qee Domo brown figure is a short, partially articulated plastic figure with a large gaping, tooth-filled mouth, rectangular body with rounded corners and short stubby legs and slightly longer arms with two-digit hands.  It's so Qee-ute! 

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Satoshi Kon: The Illusionist

Exactly what is illusion?  How does one go about creating illusions?  Illusion and the art of perfecting the use of illusion is Japanese director Satoshi Kon’s expertise.
Considered one of the most innovative and daring animation directors in the world, Kon’s influence can be seen in not only Japan’s movie industry but in movie making all around the world.
Beginning his career as a manga artist, Kon developed an eye for pushing the envelope of visual story-telling and soon made the transition to animated film or Anime.  Teaming with visionary animator Katshiro Otomo, the creative team produced such notable and ground-breaking anime as Perfect Blue, Paranoia and others.
Each film examined individual characters, their aspirations, motivations and most of all their tenuous hold on reality and illusion.  Writer Andrew Osmond and Stone Bridge Press examine the long and illustrious career of Satoshi Kon from his humble beginning as a young manga artist to his phenomenal success as a director.
Part of Stone Bridge’s Visual Media Masters series, Satoshi Kon: The Illusionist is an in-depth look at Kon, illusions, anime and the human condition.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Batman Vault

With the resounding success of the recent Batman movies, the animated series, the comic book series and the current Blackest Night storyline, Batman is more popular than ever.
In Running Press’ new book, The Batman Vault, by Robert Greenberger and Matthew K. Manning, readers learn everything there is to learn about the Dark Knight.
Follow along as the writers examine the Caped Crusader's roller coaster ride through the decades, starting with his first appearance in Detective Comics.
Through archive reproduction of art, text and collectibles, you’ll thrill to the exploits of Batman beginning with his dark and vigilante days to the introduction of the Joker and Robin, his wartime team up with Superman, the frivolous 1950’s fantasy and science fiction adventures, his television show phenomena, retuning to his dark roots and to his current rank as the #1 fan favorite superhero-without super powers!
Not bad for a man traumatized by his parents’ death, who dresses up as a bat, lies in cave, has all the latest high tech toys and who has even gone one-on-one with Superman and won!
This is a phenomenal book packed with artifacts, rare photos and art, interviews, observation and so much more.  It’s enough to drive you batty!

Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron

Rated T for Teen, the new Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron video game for PSP delivers upfront Empire/Rebel action and adventure as only LucasArts can deliver.
Elite Squadron allows the player to go it alone, team up with other gamers, battle on the ground or in the air.  On ground and in air battle affect one another so the dynamics of the game shifts depending on what events are happening on either level.
You can design and outfit your own character, choose weapons and species and search for and obtain items and bonuses.  Each of the classic movie battles can be recreated from Hoth to Endor.  Choose you mode of transportation form ships to ground vehicles, choose Modes such as Heroes and Villains (to play classic Jedi or Sith characters), track stats and battle your way through 12 campaign levels, multi-layer battlefronts.
Elite Squadron also presents new characters form battlefront, Renegade Squadron and The Force Unleashed.  Play is full 360 degree with full detailed environments, excellent character vectoring and textures and sound effects and sound track that makes you feel as if you're deep in the action as portrayed in each  movie.
Take Star Wars around in your pocket.  you never know when you might meet up with aliens, Sith or the Empire.   

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Red Lantern Atrocitus


Series One of DC Direct's new Blackest Night figures just came out and I ordered a full set from my local comic book vendor, Universe Of Superheroes.  Like most others living through this current financial downswing I have to budget my money. So, I'm purchasing one figure every one or two weeks, depending on how many comics I buy in a particular week.
Let me tell you, it as no easy task choosing what figure to buy first, considering that all of the figures are awesome.  They include Atrocitus, Earth-2 Superman, Blue Lantern: Saint Walker and Alpha Lantern Boddikka.  It was toss-up between Atrocitus and Boddikka as to which one I would purchase first.  Eventually Atrocitus won out. 
The full-articulated Atrocitus figure is a formidable as his name implies.
The Red Lantern's outfit consists of a black body suit with metallic blood red chest armor, oversize shoulder pads with attached neck protection, knee boots, gloves and lower arm armor.
Atrocitus' face is a study in rage with its open maw showing upper and lower pearl white sharp teeth, deep set glowing yellow eyes and bony face plates.  His right hand is twisted into a fist and his left with its clawed fingers grasping. 
Included with the imposing figure is a special Red Lantern base and a blood Red Lantern that can be loosely held by the left hand.  The figure is held firmly in place within a vacuum formed inner sleeve and waist tie-down covered by a full plastic bubble for easy viewing.
I especially like the black on white Red Lantern logo on Arocitus' chest and his well-defined muscular physique.  Nicely sculpted!

Monday, October 19, 2009

E-Klasse, Kafer And Anhänger


Limited to only 1,000 copies the Schuco’s 1:43 Edition metallic blue Mercedes-Benz E-Klasse Limousine "Avantgarde" diecast auto is a true miniature mechanized marvel.
Securely mounted on a custom black base and protected by a clear plastic high-impact display box, the auto is a real eye-pleaser and makes an excellent addition to any pureblood diecast collector.
This blue beauty is all detail with its miniature side mirrors, slightly protruding door handles, wraparound headlights and taillights, chrome wheels, tinted glass windows molded in bumpers and hidden antennae.
Full interior details includes a to-scale dash and steering column, luxurious leather like seats and all the extras Mercedes Benz owners come to expect.
Equally impressive is Schuco's 1:87 Edition VW Käfer Cabrio mit Wohnanhänger also mounted on a special black base and protested by a clear plastic shell.
A classic VW Bug ragtop, with its top down, togs along a customized VW mini-enclosed trailer with bubble roof, two-tone paint scheme and side windows. 
The car is painted a deep copper with cream interior, black folded back ragtop and fully chromed side upper door accents, bumpers, mirrors, light enclosures and door handles. 
The Set VW (VW T3 mit Anhänger + VW Käfer Cabrio is a light gray enclosed VW van with front side and rear windows, black bumpers and slit side windows just behind the rear window.  It hauls a VW bug ragtop on a twin axle flatbed trailer with hitch, and side extended turn and brake signals.
The ragtop VW Bug is a deep metallic blue with full chrome details and black interior.
All of the aforementioned vehicles have wheels that turn, are huge on details (both exterior and interior) and look great on display. 

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Ultimate Alliance 2


Just when you thought things couldn't get any hotter than Activision's Marvel Ultimate Alliance along comes Ultimate Alliance 2.
Twice the action, twice the killer graphics, twice the special effects and twice the fun!
Based upon Marvel's Secret War and Civil War series, Ultimate Alliance pits heroes against heroes and villains against villains in a no-holds barred battle royal with the victor either free from government registration or forcing the opposition to register under the Superhuman Registration Act
Rated T for teen, the new Ultimate Alliance 2 video game is compatible to all game formats and features some of the most dynamic graphics, excellently rendered figures and blow your eyes out soundtrack and sound effects.
Assemble your four character dream teams and for the first time combine the powers of two characters for the ultimate power rush.
Look for 250 new fusing powers, character expansion with Cyclops, Psylocke and Blade and multiplayer team-ups online and off.  It's like playing the ultimate RPG with full 360 degree action, a huge selection of environments and locations, full object manipulati

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Hammer Glamour


When movie-goers think of Hammer films they usually think of monsters, mad scientists, the supernatural, vampires and other creature of the night.  But, Hammer Films was also known for its bevy of beautiful babes and vixens.
Titan Books and author Marcus Hearn present classic images from the archives of Hammer Films that offers a glorious tribute to the queens of Hammer horror!
Beginning with the release of first Hammer horror film over 50 years ago you'll get a full visual guide to the damsels in distress and voluptuous vixens that made Hammer's mix of sex and horror such a winning combination.
Learn all about the starlets (and later some superstars) who got their start at Hammer.  It's big bosoms, tiny bikinis, barely-covered bottoms, luscious lips, inviting poses and lots of kitsch in Hammer Glamour,  Discover what inspired a whole generation of filmmakers including George Lucas.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Superman: Secret Origin #1


Superman's origin and life in Smallville has been told and retold dozens of times.  Some have been good, some not so good.  All seem to concentrate more on Superman's escape from the exploding Krypton and less on his identity as Clark Kent and his formative years.
Writer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank have collaborated to make (in my opinion) the best story about both Superman's and Clark Kent's early life.
The first issue of the DC Comics' six-part  mini-series sets in place all of the key players in Clark Kent's early life such as Ma and Pa Kent, Lana Lang, Lex Luthor and his best friend Pete Ross.
You'll witness young Clark's powers manifesting themselves such as flight, heat vision, x-ray vision, super strength and invulnerability.  You'll also be there when romance blossoms between Clark and Lana and the beginnings of Lex Luthor's hatred toward then Clark Kent/Superman.
Watch as the heroic nature of Superman emerges in young Clark and his first encounter with the spaceship that brought him to earth and his unsettling experience of discovering his true nature as revealed by his Kryptonian parent's holograms.  You'll even see Clark don his Superman costume.
The story has everything and brings years of continuity together in a neat, well-written, beautifully illustrated saga about the birth of a hero.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Marvel Wall Chart

Marvel Comics has Marvel fans against the wall-literally.  Thanks to Universe Publishing and author/researcher Mike Mallory, Marvel fans can enjoy the Marvel Universe in wall-to-wall comfort.
The Marvel: The Expanding Universe Wall Chart takes the history of the Marvel Universe (complete with vintage and current art) and using a clever accordion folding technique showcases the entire timeline of the Marvel Universe stretching over 10 feet!
What makes the Wall Chart so unique is that you don't have to unfold it to read all about the Marvel universe.  By flipping the folded pages you can view each phase of the popular comic book company's history along with color illustrations, informative text and clever fold-in flaps expand the chart even wider!
The reverse side traces key moments in the Marvel Universe, observations and much more.  The handsome padded, hard-cover, oversize book also boasts a raised illustration of Marvel characters on its cover and comes protected by a special clear plastic resealable slip cover.  It's Marvel'ous!  

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies


Ask yourself, "How could two of the most trusted heroes in the DC Universe suddenly become two of them most hunted and reviled enemies of the world?"
That's what you'll discover when you pick up a single or two-disc Superman/Batman: Public Enemies direct-to-video animated feature DVD(s) from Warner Bros.
Inspired by the ground-breaking story as originally presented in the Superman/Batman comic book from DC Comics, the story faithfully follows the original series with slight modifications.
Lex Luthor is President and is even more power mad and determined to destroy Superman.  Now he has the means by which to succeed.  When Superman and Batman stand against his regime it's all the excuse Luthor needs to brand the heroes traitors and vows to bring them in-dead or alive!
Executive Producer Bruce Timm, along with the original voice talent form previous DC animated series, brings the battle to the small screen in a non-stop action animated movie that will keep you glued to your seat.
Additional features include a behind-the-scenes look at Blackest Night and more!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Toons Treasury


Although comic books were originally created for kids to enjoy, they have evolved to suit a much more mature reader. Just look at DC's Vertigo line, Marvel's Ultimate Universe, Image's books, Dark Horse Comics and other publishers 'mature' titles.

Comics for kids had their heyday in the 1940's, 1950's and 1960's. Of course a few exceptions were published afterwards such as Bone, Harvey titles, Archie (that still churns out good wholesome stories) and several other publishers' titles.

Art Spielgelman and Francoise Mouly, along with publisher Abrams Comicarts, present The Toon Treasury Of Classic Children's Comics with an introduction by Jon Scieszka.

Along with a lengthy historical introduction the book breaks kid's comics down by genre and chooses the best-of-the-best books to represent each. Look for such unforgettable titles like Sugar And Spike, Little Archie, Little Lulu, Pogo, Droopy, Donald Duck, Fairy Tale Parade and dozens more.

Harvey Kurtzman, Sheldon Meyer, Walt Kelly, Carl Barks and C.C. Beck are just a few of the masters of cartooning whose work graces its pages.

Each story is reproduced from actual comic book pages and printed on heavy paper stock that emulates the cheap newsprint comics were printed on. Only these pages won't fade or flake and they're contained in an oversize hardback book!

It's a wonderful visual trek down memory lane that is sure to bring back fond memories.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Vermonia

From Candlewick Press and written and illustrated by YoYo, a new young group of artists and writers from Japan, comes Vermonia: Quest For The Silver Tiger 1.

The story takes places on a distant blue star where garage band members Mel, Jim, Naomi and Doug talk and do things any typical group of preteens obsessed with skateboarding do.

But, when Mel is kidnapped and put in prison on the world Turtle Realm, her friends suddenly find themselves in the position of being her rescuers.

With the aid of the magic squelp Satorin they travel to Turtle Realm-a world terrorized by a horrific conquering army.

They arrive and are surprised to discover their arrival was prophesized ages ago. The prophecy tells of four warriors who would return the planet's rightful queen to her throne. But, do the four friends have the will and the courage to release their warrior tendencies and fulfill the ancient prophecy?

Vermonia is lavishly illustrated, contains memorable characters and tells a exciting story. It's funny, frightening, full of adventure and fantasy and fun to read.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hellboy Mez-itz

Who would ever think that Hellboy could be cute? Well, he is, or at least his Mezco Mez-itz Hellboy, The Golden Army, limited edition, 6-inch articulated figure is.

The Hellboy figure is a simplified, designer vinyl, mini-monster painted in flat reds, browns, black and gray. His oversize red, bald, head has a painted on face with Hellboy's trademark sneer, short, filed off horns with pulled back black hair on its sides.

He wears his long trench coat, also painted on, black shirt, pants and boots. His right hand is the Hand of Doom as seen in both movies and in the comic books and off course, he has his long prehensile tail. Included with the figure is Hellboy's favorite weapon, the Samaritan.

The figure comes in a black box with white lettering and clear panels on the front and back. An Abe Sabien figure is also available. The Vinyl figure is cleverly articulated and does not distract from the figure itself. Paint application is smooth, consistent and shows no rough edges or slop-over. The figure stands easily on its own and the Samaritan fits snuggly in its hand.

Look for cool details such as Hellboy's belt buckle, trench coat buttons, charm chain, serpentine tail and the Samaritan handgun with oversize ammo chamber.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

More Drawings





Here's a few more sketches I cranked out.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Premium Stereo Headphones


Listening to music is great. But, it's only great if you'd got something great to listen to it with. Listening to it directly from a stereo or computer or even from one of the new multi-media TV directly loses much of the sound quality.

What you need is a premium set of stereo headphones and coincidentally Genius has a Premium Stereo Headphone that fits the bill perfectly.

Genius's GHP-05 Live DRD 3D Surround Premium Stereo headphone lets you listen to every subtle vocal and musical instrument with crystal clarity. No matter what you plug it into: a computer, stereo, entertainment center or amplifier what you get is some of the very best sound transfer clarity I've ever heard.

For you technical buffs out there check out some of the features and accessories you receive: 20Hz-25KHz frequency response, 32ohm +/- 20% impendence, 95dB +/- 3dB @1KHZ, a two meter + two meter cable length, an RCA converter, a gold plate adaptor, extension cable, two AAA batteries and a User's Manual.

The padded earphones make listening to music comfortable with no outside noise distraction. They adjust to fit any size head, the power switch is located on one of the earphones and the earphones tilt and pivot to any position with no effort.

They make the perfect gift for any music lover or musician who enjoy crystal clear sound from base through the full acoustic range.

Thursday, July 16, 2009