Saturday, February 14, 2009

Watching The Watchmen

Anticipation is high for the upcoming release of the movie adaptation of the ground-breaking Watchmen comic book maxi-series. Comic book and movie fans have great hopes concerning the movie that like the series itself it will break traditional superhero ground, only this time at the movies.

Series co-creator Dave Gibbons (along with Chip Kidd and Mike Essl) and Titan Books have released an impressive collection of Gibbon's preparatory work never seen before. Page after page are filled with sketches, final inked images, color studies, page layouts and character, setting and equipment designs Gibbons compiled that he used while designing the series, along with writer Alan Moore.

For an in-depth examination as to what it takes to turn out such a massive project, Watching The Watchmen in a treasure trove of the how and why behind the series. Inside you'll read about the original concept, unused character designs and storyline fragments. Discover how the series was marketed, what changes, deletions and additions had to made, what the series was originally based upon and why Gibbons and Moore collaborated to turn comic books on their collective ear.

It took a tremendous amount of work and effort to pull it off and Watching The Watchmen is no less impressive than the series.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

It had to happen-Dreamworks Animation released another Madagascar computer animated film this last summer and it is now on DVD.

All of your animated animal castaways favorites are back and this time they’re in Africa. When the gang of zoo misfits board a reconstructed plane manned by the penguins they should have known there would be big trouble ahead.

Miraculously the cobbled together wreck manages to stay airborne—until its fuel runs out over the ocean. The plane takes a nosedive and by some quirky twist of fate crash lands in Africa-the ancestral home of Alex the lion.

Everyone survives and soon discover an oasis of water populated by thousands of animals-two of which are Alex’s parents, who assumed he was dead after being kidnapped by hunters when he was a cub.

The happy reunion is short-lived when Alex is put through his long delayed right of passage and promptly gets his furry behind kicked. His disgrace and defeat force his father to step down and be banished with his son.

Meanwhile the other plane passengers must cope with trying to meld back into the wild-something none of them are prepared to do.

Eventually the friends reunite Alex and his father save the day and all is well-yeah, right! Madagascar; Escape 2 Africa is not quite as funny as the first Madagascar film but it still has its moments. Check out the running shark gag and the head Penguin’s unrequited love for a windshield hula girl. The plane crash and volcano sequences are especially funny.

The 2-disc DVD set includes the entire movie and extras on one disc with Nickelodeon’s The Penguins Of Madagascar cartoon sort with extras on the second disc. Both the film and the cartoon shorts are cleverly written, nicely animated and fun to watch for the whole family.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Agent Crimson

To be honest I had never heard of Triad Toys until a few months ago. I spotted an article written about the company accompanied by several pictures of its figures. I was hooked. I immediately looked up the company's website and surfed its pages. I've seen 12-inch, fully-articulated figures before, but nothing like these!

From Gunn 4 Hire comes Agent Crimson, part of Black Wolffe International Witness Security Protection & Relocation. The male figure stands 12 inches tall and appears Asian.

The figure, with accessories, comes packaged in a two-side, flip open crimson red box. The figure is secured in a form-fitting plastic sarcophagus, held in place by wires. Accessories are held in place in a smaller plastic cocoon inserted in the opposite lid. Tape keeps the accessories from shifting.

The figure is constructed of flesh-colored plastic with cleverly hidden articulation points in the neck, torso, legs, arms, ankles, wrists and waist. Cloths fit nicely on the figure that when moved do not bind or strain the form-fitting attire.

The face is painted in several flesh tones simulating real flesh. The eyes, ears, nose, lips, eyebrows and hair are expertly sculpted and painted with no rough bleed over edges or sloppy paint application. The hands are positioned to hold the accompanying weapons.

Clothing consists of a light tan tweed two-piece suit with double buttons and hidden snap. The coat is pleated with two pockets. The figure comes in a white dress shirt with brown tie, a belt that actually functions, black socks and brown leather dress shoes with real laces. All of the clothing is nicely stitched and assembled and look real to scale.

Accessories include a black and gray flax jacket that fits easily over and around the figure. A leather shoulder holster with ammo pouches, an automatic with two clips, an extra black bowtie and black wraparound sunglasses are included. All are minutely accurate in scale and accuracy.

My opinion? I think it is a very done and executed figure with accessories. I hope to review more Triad Toys in the future.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Roto-Plush Leatherface

Who can ever forget the frightening first appearance of Leatherface in the classic horror flick, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre? Leatherface set the standard by which other psycho, demented killers had to come up to. Jason, Freddie and Michael and a whole legion of bloody butchers owe a great debt to Leatherface.

Mezco Toyz has up-sized Leatherface to their new Cinema Of Fear Roto-Plush series and he looks even scarier than before.

The partially-articulated figure is dressed in a bloody butcher's apron, pin-strip, short sleeve shirt, black, white and gray tie and deep blue dress pants with heavy, black knee boots.

Covering his face is a human skin mask roughly stitched together and hanging loosely on his face. His insane eyes and leering mouth show behind the raged skin holes. Both bloody hands are sculpted to hold the equally bloody chainsaw, hammer and knife. A oversize bucket holds body entrails and bone.

Sculpting of the figure is tight with even the figure's veins and tendons showing in each massive arm. Articulation points are nicely hidden in arms and legs with the torso and head pivots free enough not to bind with the figure's clothing.

The clothing is made of real cloth and is loose enough not to restrict any movement. The hands easily and firmly grasp any of the weapons and paint application is crisp with no jagged blend edges and mismatching sections. Blood splatters appear real, much like random splatters would-application is random and not systematic.

Accessories are in-scale with the figure. The chainsaw appears rugged in build and authentic in appearance with its jagged teeth, yellow body and worn handles. The hammer and knife also look worn and well-used. The knife looks home made with its tree limb handle, leather strap and twin screws holding the blade in place. The bucket appears well worn and the entrails within it look disgustingly real. Ewww!

Back Issue #32

If you love older comic books like I do and appreciate the artists and writers of yesteryear, you're sure to love TwoMorrows' Back Issue #32.

In this issue, travel back in time to see Green Lantern then and now, enjoy a Joe Staton art exhibition, travel the space ways with ROM Spaceknight and learn all about the legend of Bill Mantlo.

See what it took to create the DC and Marvel Universe Who's Who editions, dial up a hero, get inventive with Richie Rich, travel to the Metropolitan Museum Of Art to see Superheroes: Fashion And Fantasy and learn the secret history of All-American Comics, Inc.