Friday, January 30, 2009

Schuco Duo

Schuco just released two cool new 1:87 Scale Edition diecast vehicles. Both feature miniature scale perfection right down to decals, paint application (very tight), full interior details, chrome, exterior lights of clear and translucent plastic, plastic windshields and windows, chrome wheels and rubber-like tires.
The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL is a deep gray two-seater sports car with low to the ground profile, contour following bumpers, oversize side and hood number decals and complete body detailing right down to seeing the seams for the doors, hood and trunk.
The Land Rover Discovery 3 is painted in multi-colors of yellow, blue and white squares denoting that it is a police vehicle. Large POLICE decorates both sides and the hood in blue over a lower white strip.
the vehicle is trimmed in black around the twin (drivers' and passenger) sunroofs and front windshield. The rear hatch is painted in yellow an red strips with large red stoplights with the word POLICE painted in red on a yellow rear bumper.
The front has an oversize chrome bumper and grill with large beam headlights and turn signals.
Both vehicles come in sturdy see thru- all-around viewing display boxes and held firmly in place on the interior stands.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Indy Arrives

The 12-inch Indiana Jones, Raiders of the Lost Ark, fully-articulated figure that I ordered from Sideshow Collectibles finally arrived at my local comic book shop. The shop owner presented the figure to me and I cautiously, breathlessly, cradled the box in my hands. I was immediately struck by the pictures decorating the box on all sides.

Each side pictured the enclosed figure in varying poses. I held my breath and gently pulled the Velcro lid fastener open, revealing the two separate inside halves of the box. One side contained various accessories and the other, covered in tissue paper, was the Indiana Jones figure itself. A Raiders of the Lost Ark synopsis is printed on the inside flaps

The figure (one of Sideshow's ball and socket and multi-tier, overlap torsos) fits snuggly in the clear plastic, molded container, with molded lid, that is specifically designed for the figure. The Indiana figure is dressed in his trademark fedora that is given the appearance of age and wear by paint application. The figure comes dressed in an off-white long-sleeve shirt with twin breast pockets, safari shoulder accents, front pleats and buttons running down the front and on the pockets. The shirt is tucked in gray/green slacks with front and back pockets. A military cloth belt with brass buckle holds the pants up.

A belt and holster are over the pants' belt. Indy wears his trademark high brown leather shoes with laces and worn leather pilot's jacket with twin front pockets, leather draws and with snaps and zipper. the deep brown leather coat is lined by a lighter brown fabric. Each hand is covered by worn leather gloves.

The clothing details are impressive. Buttons, zippers, buckles and pockets a precisely scaled to the figure. No oversize zippers or awkward button holes. The hat is part of the head. The facial features and coloration of the face are dead-on perfect matches to Harrison Ford's. The figure's blue eyes reflex light as if real and the nose, mouth, ears and facial structure, even the beard stubble, give the figure the appearance of almost being alive.

The head can be detached and replaced with Indiana's head without a hat. An additional set of three hands also come with figure: two without gloves, one with. The gloved hands are in fists and the plain hands come open and shut, allowing the figure to grasp items that come with the it. The only weakness I spotted with the figure are the gloved hands. The paint application duplicating the worn leather looks a little blotchy and uneven.

Accessories include a bag filled with sand as seen in Raiders, two whips (one coiled and one open), a revolver, an automatic with removable magazine, an extra (clean) fedora, the golden fertility idol also seen in Raiders and Indy's shoulder satchel, complete with buttons. The Sideshow exclusive figure comes with arrows and torch. I have the regular version.

Details on the guns are accurate, the whip is flexible for easy posing, the idol appears made of actual gold (nice paint application) and the extra Fedora and satchel appear identical to their movie namesakes.

Overall I give the figure an 'excellent' rating. Figure articulation is smooth with no binding caused by the clothes. Weapons and accessories fit snuggly into the figure's hands with no slippage or forcing a fit. Paint application is extremely well-done with no slop-over or jagged paint edges. Color gradation-feathering makes the face appear as if it has real skin with varying tones.

The figure stands easily on its own without the use of the stand that is included. Packaging is tight and secure with colorful interior and exterior art and photo accents. The figure is a little pricey but well-worth the money invested. I was not disappointed with figure. I consider it one of my prize Indiana Jones collectibles.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Times Are Tough

Times are tough all over, especially when it comes to popular culture collectibles. The collectors' market has always been dependent on disposable income. The only problem is, with the current economy, there isn't mush disposable income available.

The big change I've seen when it comes to writing and producing Collectors' Corner is that companies aren't sending out as many review samples as they used to.

Staff cutbacks, shrinking demographics, higher costs and less money being spent on collectibles make it difficult to keep things in the black.

I was in marketing and advertising for over 25 years. During that time I've seen companies come and go. Those that went usually did so because of lagging sales. The first cost they would cut would be for advertising, which was the one area they should have not cut back on. In fact, they should have increased it.

It's hard to sell more merchandise when no one knows that you're selling it. I'm starting to see that same mistake being made with publishers and manufacturers in the collectibles market.

Comic book, magazine and book publishers are trimming back on review samples. Prices continue to rise.

Toy companies barely send out samples. Some even charge reviewers (albeit at a discount). The problem is that reviewers only have so much money to spend and they (like everyone else) have to be selective about what they purchase. The end result? Many toys do not get reviewed.

Most electronics manufacturers producing computers, peripherals, etc., send very few review samples. Some assume that their name sells a product. Current economic times are proving them wrong.

The truth is everyone is hurting. But now is not the time to panic. Companies should advertise and provide reviewers product. Most advertising can be written off when taxes are filed.

I want to review more product, but I only have so much money. I encourage companies to send samples-not everything they produce-just a sampling.

I want to see collectibles and popular culture items publishers and manufacturers survive and prosper. I buy what i can. If review samples are provided, I'll review them. People will read the reviews and buy the products. Simple math.

Archie & Friends #126

Man, can I identify with the story in Archie & Friends #126!

High school comic book cartoonist Chuck Clayton is invited to a neighboring mid-school to instruct some art students in the art of cartooning.

When he gets there he is confronted by kids who copy other people's styles, know nothing about comic book production and are intimidated by his 'professional' level of work.

I teach high school drawing. Like the students Chuck Clayton encountered, many of my students copy styles, draw only Manga, know nothing about the business and production techniques behind comic books and feel overshadowed by my art.

Like Chuck I learned to bring the art down to the students' level, to take the time to explain the 'real world' of comic book production and encourage students to create their own unique characters and stories.

I plan on sharing the 4-part series with my students.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Sixth and Final Season of The Rockford Files

Season Six would be the last year James Garner would play private detective Jim Rockford in the award-winning TV series The Rockford Files.

The Rockford Files was a very popular and profitable show for James Garner. It was also very costly. Past his prime, the many fight and chase scenes had their toll on Jim. The long hours were exhausting and after six seasons he decided to call it quits while the show was still at the top in ratings.

NBC/ Universal Classic Television presents the Sixth and Final Season of The Rockford Files in a just released DVD set. Three discs contain all 12 episodes that end the show in style. Episodes include Rockford as a security guard, mixing with the rich, working for his old flame, mixes with crooked politics and other episodes guest-starring future Magnum P.I. stars Tom Selleck and Larry Manetti.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

ToyFare #139, March

ToyFare magazine offers toy collectors an Exclusive Preview of The Year Of G.I. Joe with a sneak peek at the new movie figures, comic book and secrets of the Joes' Rec-Room. How cool is that!?

Incoming! showcases new figures and action figures coming to store soon. They include: Marvel Statues, Transformers Universe, Incredible Wonder Woman, Marvel Marquettes, DC Infinite Heroes, JLU, Halo, Gears Of War, Neca Movie Figures, Tonner, DC Statues, Ame-Comi, My Name Is Bruce, Hellboy, Star Wars, Watchmen, TMNT, Futurama, JLI, Wolfman, Shuraki, Indiana Jones, DC Deluxe, The Dark Knight, Masters Of Puppets, Alien Vs. Predator, Alien, Universal Monsters and Gentle Giant Statues.

Other toy news includes Reliving The Horror, Designing Joe, We Want Action! (spotlighting the most original and cool action figures in history), the Top 10 Hottest Action Figures and Saturday Night Cleaver.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Yeti Vs. Vampire #1

A frozen wasteland. Four weary travelers trudge through the snow and ice blanketing a narrow mountain pass. Suddenly they spot an ancient tomb carved out of the rock and ice. They enter and discover a huge hall flanked by a series of mammoth statues.

Suddenly, without warning, a band of warriors attack from the shadows and decimate the travelers, mutilating their bodies. The attack is swift, without mercy and horrific. The warriors kid among themselves of how easy they vanquished the intruders-until the intruders bodies begin to reassemble themselves and transform into werewolves!

What happens next is not pleasant as the warriors soon discover. From out of the carnage walks a tall beautiful woman-the vampire mistress of the werewolves. At her command the werewolves open a large ornate door that was guarded by the warriors. Upon entering they discover a lush underground world complete with trees, other plant life and…Yeti!

From out of the bushes a large snake man attacks two young Yeti. At that moment a full grown Yeti attacks the reptilian human only to succumb to the snake man’s venomous bite and passes out. The werewolves then set about caging the Yeti and they and their mistress fly away with the Yeti in tow.

What is the purpose of capturing the Yeti? Who is the mysterious woman? That’s just a few of the questions left unanswered as the exciting first issue of Yeti Vs. Vampire comes to a close. Mile Gunter, Kelsey Shannon and Victor Santos present what promises to be an exciting new series from Antarctic Press. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Wars And Cars

One of the Old School Greatest Kits Of All Time makes a comeback courtesy of Revell Models. With the old man not included, the Trans-Um Tirebird is a highly-stylized hotrod with a customized Trans-Am body consisting of oversize wheel wells, exaggerated air scoops and frame and one bad boy attitude of a ride.

The Tirebird is solid white with a wide blue roof and truck strip accented with small side strips and oversize hood decal and enough chrome for three cars. Part of Revell's 1/25 Scale series, that's a real model maker's model that requires glue, paint and a lot of patience. Dave Deal would be so proud!

Another 1/25 Scale beauty of a car is Revell's Special Edition Shelby GT500KR with optional parts and a whole new look.

Inspired by the 1968 Shelby this 2008 version is deep blue with classic Mustang lines, huge chrome wheels, classic Shelby grill and lights, low to the ground profile and enough horsepower for a whole herd of horses.

Look for decals with authentic markings, a huge V-8 engine in black and chrome, cold air inlets on its hood, heat extractors and enough details that will keep you looking at this beauty for hours. Like the Tirebird this is a real modeler's model that requires glue, paint and an expert eye.
When Steve McQueen sent his Mustang flying over the hills of San Francisco in Bullitt, theater goers were thrilled. You'll be thrilled to when you see Revell's new updated 2008 Mustang Bullitt commemorating that great car and car chase scene.

Painted a deep green, the Bullitt Mustang is a study in speed with its cold intake V8 engine, five spoke wheels, grill with no trim, factory stock decals and complete engine, interior and exterior details and accessories. With some paint and glue you can assemble this 40th Anniversary wonder updated for the 2000s.

Not wanting to leave kids out, Revell has expanded its Star Wars SnapTite Model Kit line to include the classic wedge-shaped Snowspeeder first seen in The Empire Strikes Back. Easy to assemble with no glue or paint required, the Snowspeeder fully-detailed inside and out and looks ready to take on the empire.

From A New Hope comes the Y-Wing Starfighter that, like the Snowspeeder, requires no glue or paint. Fully loaded with lots of weapons and an R2 unit, the Starfighter consists of a front cockpit, a rectangular body and twin engines-one on either die. Look for lots of surface details and an easy to snap together frame.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Winx Club: Mission Enchantix

"Give us a Winx." That's what you'll say when you play Winx Club: Mission Enchantix from Konami for Nintendo DS.

Based on the 4Kids cartoon, Winx Club: Mission Enchantix takes players on an exciting adventure as Bloom and her friends desperately search for and uncover her magic Enchantix transformation in order to stop the evil Lord Baltar from taking over their enchanted land.

Travel through ten exciting scenarios as you use magic, smarts and tricks to advance to each level. besides being an exciting game, Winx Club: Mission Enchantix also lets players solve puzzles, play lots of mini-games, unlock pictures, watch videos and sing along with songs and design characters costumes.

Added bonuses include clips from season three, music videos and even a fashion show that your characters take part in after they choose their outfits from the Magic Closet. Look for lots of cool graphics, easy game play, a catchy soundtrack and more.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Reflections of 2008

2008 shaped up to be one of the most important and transforming years of my life.

It was the year I became a tenured teacher and began teaching AP 2D and Drawing.

2008 was the year I lost two of my closest friends: Tim Nicholson, my childhood friend and Dwayne Looney, my best buddy ever since we moved to Jacksonville in 1981. On the bright side I know that I will see them again as they were both saved. God gave me new friends to take their places.

In print and in person I was able to witness to more people-something I had never been able to do before comfortably.

I turned 55 in 2008 and as a result I began to reflect on what my life was about. There were moments of melancholy and sadness, but there were also moments of great joy and looking back at the incredible life God has granted me. I grew closer to God and his scripture became more alive and relevant than ever before.

For a poor kid growing up in Michigan with not much hope for a bright future I can say I am incredibly blessed. I have a wonderful and beautiful wife, great kids, a lovely home that is paid for, no bills, good friends, a fulfilling job, good health and so many more blessings I can't write them all down.

My newsletter, Collectors' Corner, made the transition to the Internet and saw its readership quadruple. I added a blog and made lots of new contacts with publishers, toy manufacturers, etc.

Putting the website together was a great joy and it still is. Where else could I review objects, share my thoughts and get awesome merchandise that publishers and manufacturers graciously sent me for free to review? Talk about a dream hobby!

I was able to share with others the many items I received for review and even managed to make some ad revenue.

The Pop Culture Club at school that I started grew to over 125. The school newspaper that I designed went all online thus allowing a full color format and unlimited pages. It was a huge hit.

This past summer I actually had time to sit down and draw a number of illustrations and really enjoy myself doing it. That was something I had not been able to do for a very long time.

God finally got across to my stubborn mind to keep my mouth shut and do my work and not get caught up in work gossip. That was something that plagued me on several jobs before I started teaching. I learned my lesson with more than a few scars to prove it. I have a great job, wonderful co-workers, superb bosses and a classroom with outstanding students. I love them all dearly.

The school year in 2008 saw a big change in my students. Every class has well-behaved and hard-working students. I was pleasantly surprised at how good they were. I wanted to pinch myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming. Even the few 'chatty' students have shaped up to be great kids.
2009 is here and I can only pray that it will be as fruitful, eye-opening and outstanding as 2008.

If I've learned anything at all it's this: I give God all the credit. I know what my capabilities are and I'm not that smart. Everything I have or will have is all due to God. He has been gracious enough to give me a degree of talent, wonderful family and friends, food for my table, a roof over my head, cloths to wear, vehicles to drive, good health and so much more. Here's to 2009!