Friday, December 24, 2010

Bronco, Widow, Midgets, T'rantula, Impala, Thunderbird, Chevelle, Bel Air, Cutter And Campbeltown

Revell/Monogram has released eleven new models just in time for Christmas. Nine of the new models are classic automobiles at 1:24 and 1:25 Scale. All require full glue, paint and decal application for Skill Levels 2 or 3.

The single truck in the releases is the '80 Ford Bronco 2 'n 1 model kit that lets modelers choose between a red all-terrain truck with roll bar and custom bumpers and additional lights and a blue truck with capper and additional bed seat.

Whichever mode you choose an opening hood reveals a V-8 engine. Add a 4-wheel drive chassis with alloy wheels and all-terrain tires and you have a multi-purpose vehicle that has become a collector favorite.

The "T" Pickup Rod Black Widow is as sleek and mysterious as it namesake. This customized hotrod is a chrome-plated predator with custom white lined bed and roof, oversize wheels with disc chrome hubcaps, red interior, chrome headers, chrome radiator, 'U' shaped headlight mounts and twin side tailpipes. It's a black beauty of a different sort.

Take you pick between two Motor Sports Kurtis Midget Racers. Both feature custom paint jobs, wraparound steering struts and wheels, chrome grill and trim, hoods that open revealing either a Offenhauser or Edelbrock V-8 engine. Both come with trailers, full decals and custom paint application guides.

The '63 Chevy Impala SS was a breakaway car from the traditional Chevy designs. Blockier than most Chevys with a long body and no fins, very little trim and a square-front grill with no nonsense headlights, bumpers, taillights and with side mirrors that hugged the body, the car became an instant success. Revell's California Wheels 2 'n 1 Impala model kit lets you select a hardtop or ragtop version of the popular vehicle. Custom engines suited to each model can be assembled that fit snuggly into the engine compartment underneath the opening hood. The rear trunk opens and each version offers full interior details right down to the selection of the color of the seats and upholstery.

The 2 'n 1 Car Show '58 Ford Thunderbird Convertible includes a traditional pink convertible version and a pimped out tri-tone Thunderbird with custom seats and interior and a clear. twin compartment bubble top. Both engine compartments open. The bubble top version has custom wheels and whitewalls, lots of chrome trim and a protruding grill/bumper assemble with oversize lower lights with no side bumper wraparound.

The pink version has a hidden hardtop convertible cover, whitewalls, white and pink interior and a chrome trimmed front windshield.

Another 2 'n 1 model is the Streetburner '67 Chevelle SS 396 that you can customize into a red street version or a flame decaled street rod with protruding airfoil and custom interior. Both versions have chrome wheels, an opening hood reveling a V-8 chromed engine, square front and rear bumpers with chrome body trim and side mirrors. Smaller than an Impala, the Chevelle was a favorite 'Muscle Car' during the 1960s and is still a popular collector vehicle today.

The Car Show '55 Chevy Bel Air Convertible is favorite of mine. I remember seeing and riding in one. This version is two-tone blue/aqua comes with oversize chrome bumpers, recessed chrome hubcaps on whitewall tires, full chrome body trim, a hood Chevy decoration, a chrome teeth grill, concealed rear wheel wells, a hood that opens, a red and blue V-8 engine , full interior details, a detachable canvas roof section and a chrome trimmed spare tire compartment. Sweet!

Tom Daniel's T'rantula is low-riding drag car painted in red and green with spoke front wheels, oversize rear tires, a forward-swept driver's compartment, oversize engine with eight black side engine exhaust pipes, mid-mounted 'eye' headlights with chute pack or open chute.

If you love warships then you're sure to appreciate Revell's USCG Cutter: Roger B. Taney that ripples with deck guns, lifeboats, rigging, radar, a multi-deck conning tower and lot smoke deck details. Follow the simple-to-understand assembly instructions and paint guide and before you know it your display mounted ship with look like the real thing. You can almost feel the sea mist hitting your face.

The HMS Campbeltown Four Stack British Destroyer is no slouch when it comes to armament. Look for lots of deck guns, torpedoes, gun emplacements and heavy armor. Four smokestacks line its deck along with lifeboats, rafts, railings, trim, radar, depth charges and cannon. Like the Tany, the Campbeltown also features full exterior ship details like propellers, portholes and more. Paint it, detail it and mount it on its custom display stand and you're ready to take on the Axis forces.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Hagar, Beetle, Simon And Kirby

I’m pleased that Titan Books has compiled two of my all-time favorite comic strips into two hardbound collections with selections from the strips printed in the 1960s and 1970s. In my opinion both of those decades saw some of the finest comic strip work in the history of the medium.

Hagar The Horrible: The Epic Chronicles: Dailies 1974 To 1975 presents the hairy barbarian and his family and friends in some of the most outrageous adventures and mishaps of his long comic strip life. Hagar creator Dik Browne was at the top of his game and it showed in his crisp art, witty banter and hilarious physical hi-jinx.

Simplicity was the key to Hagar’s success. Dik Browne, along with his wife and kids, whittled Hagar down to its essence. There were no wasted lines, no unnecessary words-just simple, to-the-point humor that thousands of Hagar fans giggled and guffawed to each day.

Fellow artist and friend Mort Walker had had a similar success to Browne years earlier when he thrust upon the unsuspecting world the Army Private with the knack for getting into trouble and never getting enough sleep: Beetle Bailey.

A career military man, Beetle never seemed to advance in any area and yet he always managed to tick off his long-suffering sergeant, confused and confounded his officers and amused and bemused his friends and colleagues.

In Beetle Bailey: 1965 Daily & Sunday Strips readers will witness Beetle at the height of his popularity. Whether it's avoiding work, sleeping every opportunity he gets, confusing and sergeant or generally making a mess of things few Privates can claim the honor of being “the laziest private in this man’s Army.

Joe Simon and Jack Kirby were without a doubt the most influential and creative comic book writer and artist of their time. During the Golden Age of comic books, both men as a team redefined comics, introduced whole new genres and produced some of the best written and drawn comics during that era.

Their influence can seen even today. No other creative team (except possibly Stan Lee and Jack Kirby) has ever had such an impact on the comic book industry as they did. They set the standard that writers and artists sought to obtain.

Simon & Kirby Superheroes from Titan Books contains all of the non-DC and Marvel superhero stories created by Simon and Kirby during the Golden Age of comic books.

Full color stories, lovingly restored and refurbished, recall the adventures of The Black Owl, Stuntman, The Vagabond Prince, Captain 3-D, Fighting American (my favorite), The Double Life OF Private Strong and The Adventures Of The Fly.

Neil Gaiman provides the Introduction and Jim Simon the Foreword for this impressive reprint collection from one of the most influential and creative teams in comic books.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Something Old, Something New

Syndicated cartoonist Lynn Johnston has written and drawn her award-winning ‘For Better or For Worse’ comic strip (printed in over 2,000 newspapers and read by millions of loyal fans) for close to 30 years.

Several years ago Lynn decided to intermingle older strips with new daily and Sunday strips. This allowed her to go back and revisit key moments in her fictional Patterson family’s lives, fill in some gaps and answer some unresolved questions. Fans loved it.

Andrews McMeel Publishing approached Lynn about compiling some of her old strips, updating some of the art and placing them in chronological order. She and her daughter took the task to heart and after some creative collation they compiled the very 1st Treasury of For Better Or For Worse.

This oversize hardbound book contains some of Lynn’s most famous strips, updated and revised and drawn in the style of the time they were printed, accompanied by commentaries by the artist herself.

Ms. Johnston has outdone herself with this marvelous collection of classic strips that fans of the strip are sure to love. Who says you can’t go back in time and change things? Not Lynn Johnston and thankfully not the fans of For Better Or For Worse.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sonic Screwdriver And The Fourth Doctor

Underground Toys continues to produce outstanding toys based on the popular BBC Doctor Who TV series. What makes the Underground Toys Doctor Who toys so enjoyable is that they are taken from ALL of the Doctor Who series.

The Third Doctor’s Sonic Screwdriver toy is a perfect reproduction, in scale, of the famous instrument seen so often in the Doctor Who series.

This early version reflexes the design sensibilities in the era in which it was created: the early 1970s. Its design is slightly bulky with a stacked cylindrical appearance. The bottom section looks much like one of those oversize ink pen cases prevalent in the 1970s. The second section is slightly smaller with various indents and protrusions while the third section is colored yellow with a spiraling black line around its perimeter (think of a modified barber’s pole).

The top section consists of silver and red rings with a red and silver probing device attached to its top. It reminds me of a doctor’s ear examination instrument. Two batteries come with the Sonic Screwdriver that allow you to hold down the collar to produce two electronic sounds. Instructions come with the Screwdriver along with a special prismatic Doctor Who collectable trading card.

The toy is of rugged construction so you can carry it about and not have to worry about it coming apart. Sculpting is perfect-it captures the look and feel of the actual Screwdriver. Packaging displays both the Sonic Screwdriver and trading card for easy viewing and on the back of the bubble pack is a short description of the Sonic Screwdriver and its uses and on the front of the package is a short decryption of The Third Doctor.

By far my favorite Doctor Who was Tom Baker as The Fourth Doctor. His eccentric manner, odd sense of humor, outlandish dress and totally disregard for authority and tradition made him the perfect Doctor for the mid-1979s to the early 198s. His attitude fit the era the show ran.

Underground Toys has reproduced The Fourth Doctor in his burgundy outfit with accompanying long scarf. Tom Baker’s features are recreated in miniature, including his curly and unruly brown hair. Along with the articulated figure comes one of Doctor Who fandom's favorite characters: K-9, the mechanical dog.

K-9 is also a perfect match for his larger counterpart right down to the bulky blue-grey metallic body and head, radar ears, sectional tube neck, antennae tail, laser nose, control panel on its back and this version even moves-courtesy of the four wheels under its carriage.

Now that’s a cool toy!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Phantom II And Skyhawk

Hasegawa Hobby Kits presents two (make that three) aircraft model kits scaled at 1:48 and 1:72. United States fighter jet enthusiasts are sure to fly high over the one Navy and two Air Force high altitude killing machines.

Measuring in at 1:48 Scale the A-4E Skyhawk 'Top Gun' (yeah, that Top Gun) is an aerodynamic bullet with a delta wing configuration affording it unbelievable maneuverability.

With its reinforced airframe and Pratt & Whitney J52-P-6A engine the Skyhawk is a jet fighter to be reckoned with.

Hasegawa's new model of the Skyhawk captures the look and feel of the full-size aircraft. This Limited Edition model includes all the extras like landing gear, radar and visible bombing system.

The model fits together easily, paints up to perfection and lets modelers apply the "E" variant decals and insignia with ease. Look for sharp and precise model parts, very little flashing and complete and easy instructions for paint, decal and assembly.

Hasegawa's American Aerobatics Combo includes two 1:72 Scale Phantom jets: a Blue Angel and a F-4E/Phantom II Thunderbird. Both include full weaponry, (including rockets), artillery, landing gear and clear cockpits.

Assembly is a breeze using the easy-to-follow instructions. Parts detach easily from the part frames, decals apply smoothly with very little fuss, paint application is easy when using the detailed instructions and both models are easy to distinguish from one another as one set of parts is white and the other deep blue.

Hasegawa Hobby Kits makes assembling aircraft models loads of fun by taking out the frustration factor. Instructions are easily-to-follow, parts detach and fit together snuggly with little trimming necessary and paint and decal application is a snap when you follow the paint and decal schematics.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Avengers, Hammer And Jim Lee

I am a child of the 1960s. Granted I was born in the 1950s but my formative years (pre-teen and teenager) took place in the 1960s. I remember the counter-culture revolution in the United States brought on by the British Invasion, Pop and Op art, the Vietnam War, Woodstock and one of my favorite 1960s show (along with The Man From Uncle, The Wild, Wild West and Star Trek) was the British import: The Avengers.
I remember seeing the show for the first time when it starred Diana Riggs as the sultry, sexy and lethal Emma Peel and Patrick Macnee as the suave, debonair and quick-witted, bowler cap wearing and umbrella wielding John Steed.

Titan Books and author Marcus Hearn look back at the ground-breaking series that originally started out as a revenge tale and transformed into a Pop Culture phenomenon filled with tongue-in-cheek humor and innuendo that took the United States and the world by storm.

Patrick Macnee provides the forreword for this wonderful tribute to a true TV original. Filled with anecdotes and photos (some never seen before) the book follows the show from its genesis to its eventual end in 1969. The Avengers A Celebration is just that-a heartfelt dedication to 50 years of a Television Classic.

Another British import were the films of Hammer Studios that is known primarily as the 'other' studio that made Dracula, Mummy, Werewolf and Frankenstein films. But, Hammer Studios did much more than refurbish classic horror films.

The Art Of Hammer looks at the posters promoting the various film genres produced by Hammer Films. Marcus Hearn has compiled a full-color and black and white photo gallery of poster art broken down by decade, starting with the 1950s.

Look for war, horror, suspense and other exciting posters paying tribute to a film studio that made camp cool.

Comic book artist Jim Lee is a phenomenon, but that wasn't always the case. I remember the first time I saw Jim's work and while I considered his work 'adequate' at the time I had no idea he would go on to become one of the greatest come book artists of all time.

In Titan Books' Icons: The DC Comics And Wildstorm Art Of Jim Lee, readers are treated to page-after-page of gorgeous pencils, inks and color work of the proficient and imaginative artist.

Learn how Jim Lee took stalwart DC characters like Batman and Superman and made them his own and how when he split with Marvel in the early 1990s he would go on with other creators to form Wildstorm Studios.

As a designer and illustrator (although far less talented than Lee) I can appreciate the talent and craft that went into each and every piece of art Jim put his pencil to.

This is more than a book about an artist. It is an examination of a true creative genius and a peek inside the mind of a talented creator of people, places and things pulled form his fertile imagination and given two-dimensional life.

Dakota Jennings

As a young child Dakota Jennings witnessed the death of her parents by the forces of evil: Ragnarok. Dakota is rescued and raised by a member of the mysterious Dead Cell, a splinter faction of ‘The Prophets.’

Established during World War II, ‘The Prophets’ are a secret organization that fights the forces of evil such as werewolves and vampires.

Dakota is one of the Dead Cell’s most skilled warriors. She is proficient in hand-to-hand combat, is a weapons’ expert and prefers to travel light depending on her speed and agility. She wears no armor and uses only lightweight weapons such as a handgun and sword.

Triad Toys presents its 12-inch, fully-articulated Dead Cell: Dakota Jennings figure. The figure comes packaged in a simple flip-open front panel display box decorated with photos of Dakota on all sides with full Dead Cell and Dakota information on the back. The inside of the front panel contains Dakota’s weapons and three sets of additional hands encased in a slip-sleeve plastic display panel.

Dakota is encased in a twin sleeve clear plastic display case that both protects and keeps the figure stationary when not on display. Dakota is also held in place by several twist ties.

Dakota’s weapons, clothes and accessories include a small automatic hand gun with functional slides and removable ammo clip, a metal samurai sword with scabbard (check out the sword’s grip), gun holsters and belt harnesses, knee and elbow pads, a leather wrist gauntlet, black leather jacket with working zipper and Dead Cell emblems, blue denim flared jeans, black tank top, black leather knee boots with magnets to hold the figure in place on Triad Toys’ bullet time stand and three pair of additional hands: gun grip, sword grip and fist posed.

Articulation is tight that allows the figure to maintain any pose you place it in. Look for swivel and ball joints in the arms, legs, torso and neck. All position easily, with no stiffness or looseness.

The figure’s sculpting is first rate especially on the hands and face. Dakota’s face skin tones are slightly varied, thus emulating a real person’s skin. Eyes, nose and mouth are crisp with no bleed over on the paint application on the eyes or mouth. Her blond hair is securely rooted in place with no frizzy or slick appearance. A small plastic sleeve fits over her hair to keep her hair in place and can be removed when the figure is on display.

Clothing fits nicely over the medium bust figure. Leather accessories may be removed carefully as well as the clothes. Jean and halter top fit snug to the figure but move easily with the figure without binding or stretching out of shape.

Real metal silver buckles are on the holsters and belts, knee and elbow pads are held in place with laces (be careful as they are very small), the jeans have a snap front and flare to fit easily over Dakota’s knee boots, that are not removable.

Hand manipulation and gripping action allow the figure to hold weapons easily without fear of being too loose and the hands are easily removed with a simple gentle tug off and snap on.

I was able to pose the Dakota figure without the use of a stand and had no problem positioning her weapons in one or both hands.

This is an extremely well-crafted figure with careful attention given to each detail. Clothing stitching is tight, articulation is superb and posing the figure in literally hundred of poses is easy. Articulation points are well hidden and subtle, plastic flashing is non-existent and the entire figure package makes for a great addition to any 12-inch figure collection.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Shrek Forever After And Harry Potter

Actress Cameron Diaz provides the foreword to Insight Editions and author Jerry Schmitz new book about the latest Shrek movie: Shrek Forever After. Filmed in 3D, the movie follows the adventures of Shrek when he is plunged into an alternate reality after making a wish for a more adventurous life that is manipulated by the nefarious Rumpelstiltskin.

In the new reality Ogres are hunted, Shrek never had a family and his friends don’t know who he is. It’s up to Shrek to set things right while convincing his former family and friends that things should be different.

The new book looks at the complete production of the film from sketches, production drawings, computer rendering, voice cast selection, final computer renderings, color and costume tests, background selections and everything else associated with pre and post productions.

It’s a complete examination in pictures and text of how a computer animated movie is made from early concepts sketches to the final film print.

Bruce Foster engineers the paper, art is provided by Andrew Williamson and text is written by Lucy Kee in Insight Editions’ Harry Potter: A Pop-Up Book based on the film phenomenon.

This full-color book comes with five pop-up pages: Diagon Alley, Hogwarts School, Magical Creatures, Magical Games And Sports and The Dark Arts. Each double page spread features clever pop-up images and several small pop-up panel inserts centered on each theme.

A marvel of miniature manipulation, the book is an ingenious blend of a tried and tested artistic form updated and augmented for a whole new generation of pop-up book fans.

Filled with fanciful art, informative text and clever fold-outs the book also includes several insert pieces such as a poster and more. It’s pure magic!

Archie #615

Archie Andrews loves Christmas. The only problem is, is that it tends to sneak up on him. Every year he wakes up in a panic on Christmas Eve. He rushes about buying last minute presents, putting up Christmas decorations and generally running amok. It’s become a holiday tradition around Riverdale. Everyone expects to see Archie go through his Christmas Eve convulsions.

One of Santa’s helpers, Jingles, sees Archie’s dilemma and in a misguided attempt to help him sneaks into Santa’s time-manipulation room and causes Christmas Eve to repeat itself so Archie has more time.

Unfortunately he leaves the door open and the controls freeze causing Christmas Eve to repeat itself over and over and over and over again. Archie is the only one who knows what’s happening and after a few weeks of Christmas Eves his holiday spirit turns to “bah, humbug!”

But, as with all things Christmas the true spirit of the holiday prevails and Archie ‘warms up’ to Christmas resulting in the time-manipulating controls to unfreeze and setting things aright.

Archie #615 from Archie Comics is a wonderful tale of Christmas that demonstrates the ‘true’ meaning of Christmas.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

USS Gambier Bay

I’ve seen some impressive model kits in my time. Hasegawa Hobby Kits’ USS Gambier Bay CVE-73 U.S. Navy Escort Carrier is one of the most impressive.

In honor of her sinking by the Japanese in WWII in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, Hasegawa Model Kits has recreated this impressive WWII aircraft carrier (one of 50 Casablanca Class) and as an added bonus the first production run also includes a poster of the carrier.

Measuring in at 1/350 Scale (17.59 inches in length, 3.7 inches wide) the model kit consists of 458 pieces and requires precise glue and paint application. Included with the model is a dual display stand providing rock solid stability.

Nine aircraft come with the ship (6 Wildcat and 3 Avengers) that may be displayed on the long landing strip deck. Gun and artillery emplacements line each side of the deck.

Part trees hold the styrene parts that detach easily, requires little, if any, trimming and are superbly engineered to fit together securely while assembling the model. Model details are limited to the upper deck, lower ship sides and conning tower.

Look for a real medal anchor chain, lots of rigging, weapons, antennas and several other deck and rigging equipment pieces and details.

Decal sheets come with the model and once the decals are applied they give a real authenticity to the kit. Instructions guide model builders through the paint scheme. While the ship is a marvel of miniature sculpting and engineering skill Hasegawa Model Kits has taken the ‘too complicated to assemble’ out of the equation thus making building the ship a real treat, even for less experienced model makers.

I was blown away by the attention to detail given to this model. Every nook and cranny, tower, door, weapon, ladders, radar, deck feature, aircraft and lower ship sides are authentic, right down to the last rivet. Pay particular attention to such details as life raft, railings, fire extinguishers and lower deck platforms. There is so much to see on this model that you can spend literally hours pouring over the details.

For a first-rate, authentic and historically accurate model kit you can’t beat Hasegawa Model Kits’ USS Gambier Bay.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Seductive Subversion

Unfortunately women have historically taken the back seat to men in art. Seldom do you hear about a woman artist’s work even though women are every bit as talented as men in the arts.

Things have improved, but even today women struggle to have their voices heard in all things creative. It’s not fair, but it is a fact. Back in the 1950s and 1960s the inequality was even more prevalent.

In Abbeville Publishing Group’s new hardbound book, Seductive Subversion: Women Pop Artists 1958-1968 readers are given a historical tour of that turbulent era in American Art.

This special catalog of work illustrates how a small group of break-out women artists tested and tried the long established ‘male’ dominated Pop Art scene.

With more the 125 images complemented by artists’ bios, historical text and comments by the artists and their contemporaries readers are given a rare peek into the world of Women Pop Artists of that period.

Controversial and often shunned by the art elite, each of these women challenged the pre-disposed assumptions about women in the arts, contributed ground-breaking new works and opened the way for other women artists in the future.

I recommend that all artists, male or female, take the time to read and look over this book that examines an important pivotal point in the evolution of women in the arts.

Tastes Like Chicken

Cartoonist Scott Hilburn has a usual sense of humor, to say the least. For a huge sampling of his quirky, cynical and slightly-off-kilter look at life be sure to check out Andrews McMeels Publishing newest compilation of his work: Tastes Like Chicken.

In it you’ll meet up with talking animals, out of place and out of touch historical figures, ordinary folks in some unordinary situations and some of the strangest and totally bizarre comical sendoff ever seen in a comic strip.

Comprised of full-color panels taken from The Argyle Sweater and 50% Wool, 50% Asinine, Tastes Like Chicken: An Argyle Sweater treasury is sure to keep you chuckling even after you put down the book.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Space Precinct 2040

Veteran NYPD detective Patrick Brogan and his rookie sidekick Jack Haldane are adjusting to their new assignments as police officers on the other side of the galaxy on the planet Altor in Demeter City.
The city may be different as are its citizens: a mixture of every conceivable type of strange alien creatures, but crime remains the same.  Their job is to keep the streets clean of crime, from intergalactic smugglers to heavy-handed alien mobsters.
It takes some adjustment but Haldane and Brogan manage to fit in.  Part cop show and part science fiction, Space Precinct 2040 is played straight with adult theme stories and serious acting combined with impressive special effects, highly-detailed models and miniatures and high production values.
Producer Gerry Anderson, famous for such series as Space: 1999, Thunderbirds and UFO, pulled out all the stops in this mid 1990’s TV series that takes science fiction to a whole new level.  Image Entertainment presents the entire series in a 5-disc DVD set that brings the exciting and ground-breaking TV show to your home.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Previews, December

The holidays may be over in February but Diamond Previews for December still comes in at a hefty size. Look for lots of cool new merchandise to spend your non-holiday dollars on.

New comic book titles you’re sure to want to pick up include King Conan: The Scarlet Citadel, DC Universe Online Legends, Witchfinder: Lost And Gone Forever, Transformers: Infestation, Daomu, Hack/Slash, Crossed: Psychopath, Abyss: Family Issues, Red Sonja: Revenge Of The gods and Jennifer Blood.

Magazines and books to put on your must-read list are Zombies: An Illustrated History Of The Undead, Extreme Perspective! For Artists and Blueberry Girl.

Topps presents its latest Star Wars trading card set: Clone Wars Adventures Card Game while Rittenhouse turns out some Legends Of Star Trek mini-sets.

New toys to play with are Toy Story, The Walking Dead, Cover Girls Of The DCU, The Simpsons, Star Trek, Star Wars, Scott Pilgrim, Movie Thor, Iron Man, Marvel, Twilight, Harry Potter, And Kubrick.

Game on with Battlestar Galactica, Pirate Fluxx and Magic.

Cassegrain 3 And Maly Siri

Comix Buro presents two new additions to its Sketchbook series that spotlights some of the brightest new stars in the world of illustration.

Cassegrain 3 looks at the stunning female illustrations of Didier Cassagrain. Readers are greeted by some of the most beautiful renditions of the human female figure in both provocative and demure poses. I especially like how Cassegrain was able to incorporate female figures into real-life photos through a visual tour of the day-to-day life of a beautiful woman. If you appreciate the feminine grace of women then you’re sure to love Cassegrain 3.
Maly Siri also illustrates beautiful woman and just about every other type of human being-beautiful or not. Variety would be the best way to describe Siri’s work. The Sketchbook is filled with character studies, cheesecake poses and candid shots drawn and painted in a variety of media. The Sketchbook spotlights the incredible range of Maly Siri’s talent.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Fangoria #299, January

Fangoria features the Black Swan on its cover and look for Dead Space 2, Cherie Currie, Vampire Circus, Jean Rollin, Stake Land and Daughters Of Darkness news inside.
Readers salivated over the KISS cover from last issue, Monster Invasion checks out Bitter Feast, Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale, The Captured Bird and The Taken movies long with the latest DVD releases.

Join the Circus courtesy of Hammer, Alfred Hitchcock is as popular as ever, the Worm Turns, The Grindhouse Lives and it's all about Sex, Death & Poetry.  Certain gigs really suck, Gorecakes are delicious, read The Diary Of The Deb and don't miss the latest horrific book and video game releases.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

500 Manga Villains And Heroes

Yishan Li, renowned Manga artist and studio head, presents 500 Manga Villains And Heroes, published by Collins Design.

Filled with an enormous collection of Manga characters of all type designed by Yishan herself, the book is a collection of Manga clipart that lets readers chooses their figures from the accompanying CD. Manga students can then create their own scenes using the characters without having to draw them.

Besides a handy clipart library the book is an excellent visual resource for young Manga artists to learn from. The CD also includes detailed information on poses, settings, moods, expressions, characteristics and costumes.

All the characters are printed in black outline. This allows a Manga artist hopeful to practice coloring the figures. However you decide to use the information and figures in the book, 4500 Manga Villains And Heroes is an excellent resource for any Manga artist.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice

Balthazar Blake, the magician who defends Manhatten, needs some help fending off his arch-nemesis: the evil Maxim Horvath. So he recruits an unlikely teenager, Dave Stutler, to become his apprentice. Dave is clumsy, a little dim-witted and prone to make mistakes-lots of them.

Balthazar gives him a crash course in magic in the hopes that it will enough to stave off Maxim and his evil cohorts from taking over the city.

It will take every bit of courage Dave can muster to learn his training, fight the forces of evil, save the city and get the girl.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice from Walt Disney is a dazzling display of visual effects, a clever retelling of a classic Disney tale and pure family fun. Kids will love it and adults will get a kick out of the fantasy setting and story.

The DVD/Blu-Ray Combo Pack also includes deleted scenes, featurettes, commentaries, outtakes and lots of extra fun.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Leonardo DiCaprio plays Don Cobb, a most unusual thief. Cobb' has the ability to enter a person's mind during their sleep state and steal secrets. His ability has made him a top industrial espionage agent.

Unfortunately for him it also makes him a wanted man and a fugitive placing himself not only in danger but his family and friends as well.

One day he is offered redemption and the chance to start over again with a clean slate. His assignment is not to steal an idea but to plant one. He accepts and he and his team set out on their mission never realizing that it is the most dangerous assignment in their criminal careers.

When Inception came out its was up against some of the summer's biggest blockbusters. But with its mind-twisting story, stellar acting and inspirational direction, Inception soon become an audience favorite and became one the top movies of the season.

Now Warner Bros. has released Inception in a special Blu-Ray, DVD, Digital Copy Combo Pack that also includes some pretty cool extras like featurettes, interviews, commentaries and a one-of-a-kind snapshot icon that allows you to access even more film secrets.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Looney Tunes Treasury

I've always loved Warner Bros. cartoons more than any other studios' cartoons. Don't get me wrong, there are some excellent short cartoons and animated series out there that are not from Warner Bros. But overall Warner Bros. has the most unique characters in its animation history. I'm specifically talking about its Looney Tunes characters.

While Walt Disney Studios and other studios animated shorts featured cute, cuddly and relatively 'safe' characters, Warner Bros. broke the mold with its Looney Tunes stable of characters.

Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tweety and Sylvester, Speedy Gonzalez, the Road Runner and Coyote, the Tasmanian Devil, Foghorn Leghorn, Yosemite Sam, Porky Pig-the list goes on and on of some of the most irreverent, outrageous, cantankerous and just plain insane chanters ever created and audiences loved them.

Readers are sure to love the new Running Press book written by Andrew Farago that looks back at all of these amazing characters in a totally unique way.

Yes, there's the expected history of each character including photos and stills of them in action but The Looney Tunes Treasury offers much more than that.

Besides the retrospectives the book includes quotes from the characters themselves along with production art, concept sketches, memorabilia, paintings plus actual mementos.

Mementos!? Yes, your read right, mementos. Look for comic books, wanted posters, stickers, masks, postcards and all sorts of cleverly inserted goodies that make this book not only fun to read but also to explore.

What better way to celebrate The Looney Tunes than with a book that is also unique?

Life With Archie: The Married Life #2, 3 And 4

Ask yourself this question, "How is Archie Comics able to produce a large format glossy magazine with full color photos, topnotch art and stories, special articles and more for the same price most other comic book companies charge for their comic books?"

That's exactly what Archie Comics does and it is does very well.

Life With Archie: The Married Life numbers 2, 3 and 4 continue the imaginary stories about what would happen if Archie married Veronica or Betty. What would the repercussions be for not only the happy couples but for others around them specifically Archie's friends and family?

That's what you'll find out in these continuing tales about America's favorite redhead teenager. Besides twin Archie stories the magazines also feature posters of popular movie and TV show stars, Archie Comic Book covers, celebrity comments about Archie Comics and much, much more. If you're an Archie fan then these new magazines are a goldmine filled with Archie treasure.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Batman Beyond

When the producers/creators of Batman Beyond first came up with the idea for Batman Beyond they weren’t so sure it would be successful. After all it starred a young, brash teenager, Terry McGinness, who was nothing like Bruce Wayne.

Wayne would be in the show but as an old disgruntled and bitter man who was disgusted with what Gotham City had become. He secluded himself in his manor, rarely venturing into the outside world. Only by accident did Terry discover his identity as Batman and Wayne reluctantly took him under his wing to train Terry to become the new Batman.

Terry as Batman often operated on sheer instinct and guts. He was far from the calculating and systematic Batman Bruce Wayne was.

The producers/creators need not have worried because Batman Beyond became an instant hit. Viewers loved the futuristic adventures of the new Batman. Set against a more cosmopolitan city scene, Batman Beyond featured newer villains, many of which were inspired by their criminal predescceosrs, such as the Joker.

Terry, with the aid of Bruce and his new Batman suit and arsenal, patrolled the city and fought crime as Bruce monitored and directed his actions-most of the time ignored by Terry.

Warner Bros. has compiled the entire three seasons of the Emmy-Winning Animated Series into a new package. Nine DVDs make up the set. Housed in a DVD box with Batman Beyond on the cover, the box is snug-fitted into an attractive slipcase display box emblazoned with Batman Beyond logo on the front against a Gotham City background and a stylized Bat symbol on the inside front lid.

Included with all of the episodes are special featurettes, a pamphlet showcasing the art and style of the series and a special DC Universe History DVD. It makes for a great package and even a greater holiday gift.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Art Of Tron Legacy

I got excited when I heard there was a sequel being made of the movie Tron. I REALLY got excited when Disney released The Art Of Tron Legacy book.

I love looking at and reading about how movie makers make movies. From pre-production to final print, the entire process is like magic performed by a talented group of magicians. Such is the case with The Art Of Tron Legacy.

Justin Springer provides the prose for this oversize hardbound book. A Tron cycle printed in metallic blue/gray on a solid black wraparound cover slip protecting a full color wraparound cycle cover photo is striking. And things get better inside.

Pages are packed with two-page spreads, full-color shots full-page photos, production art, storyboards, cast photos, character/vehicle/environment designs and much more.

Homage is given to the original film with some side-by-side comparison stills of the original designs and the updated and re-imagined new designs. Blending images with light and high tech machines, digital effects and human actors gives The Legacy Of Tron its own unique look while retaining the overall feel of the original film.

As a designer I really enjoy looking at conceptual drawings, and sketches and final art pieces. It gives me the opportunity to appreciate the creative process at work of other designers and the tremendous amount of time an effort that went into each and every design.

If you’re interested in the back story of how the current world of Tron became what it is then be sure to pick up the Tron Betrayal graphic novel from Disney that illustrates exactly what went wrong. It makes and excellent companion piece to The Art of Tron Legacy and an introduction to the new film.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Shattered Light

Four authors present three different Star Trek tales in Gallery Books newest Star Trek short story Anthology: Star Trek Myriad Universes: Shattered Light.

Taking storylines from several Star Trek series episodes, each tale diverts slightly from the established timeline and presents events as they ‘may have’ been.

In The Embrace Of Cold Architects, Data’s daughter Lal, survives and he raises her like a daughter until Star Fleet takes her for their own nefarious plans and Captain Riker must face off against a Cardassian threat.

The Tears Of Eridanus sends Captain Sulu and his crew on a rescue mission to free hostages on a primitive planet. One of the captives is Sulu’s Daughter.

Honor In The Night looks back at the classic episode The Trouble With Tribbles. Only in this story the Klingons are successful in their sabotage mission and Sherman’s Planet becomes theirs.

Shattered Light provides readers with exciting alternate realities that demonstrate that one single act can change the entire course of time.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #1

Superheroes working for the government has been a theme in comic books for decades. But, that was not always the case. Back in the mid-1960s, illustrator and writer Wally Wood came up with a unique concept. Since comic book superheroes and spy movies were such big hits at that time, why not combine the two into a comic book? And so he did and Tower Comics’ T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents was born.

The story was a simple one but brilliant. The Higher United Nations Defense Enforcement Reserves was established. Its members consisted of key intelligent agents, a small percentage of which used advanced body and mind enhancements to boost their physical and mental capabilities. But, there was a catch, each time the equipment was used the person using it suffered a setback. For example, the super speedster Lightning aged at an accelerated rate. The series was a short-lived success and Tower Comics disappeared after about a year. However, the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents did not go down without a fight. Over the years since Tower’s demise the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents have periodically reappeared in short runs from various publishers. None lasted but a few issues.

Let’s hope that’s not the case with DC Comics T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents series just released. The script by Nick Spencer is filled with suspense, unexpected twists and turns and more that a few surprises. Cafu’s art is reminiscent of the original series with tight pencils, minimal details that don’t distract from the story and clear and concise layouts that move the story along at a quick pace.

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #1 sets up a scenario where nothing is at it seems, even the kidnapping of the captive T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agent Raven. Someone or something is out to disrupt the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents and the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agency is left totally in the dark. It’s lost all of its enhanced agents and must recruit a new team. How they go about it is totally unexpected and yet once revealed makes perfect sense. T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents for DC Comics looks to be a winner.

The Best Of FoxTrot

Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC has just released a two-volume collection of the best of the best of Bill Amend’s hilarious comic strip FoxTrot. This handsome volume of work includes two oversize soft back books containing black and white daily strips along with color Sunday strips. Both volumes are housed in a sturdy slipcase covered in FoxTrot illustrations behind full color character illustrations that are varnished to make them stand out.

For those of you not familiar with FoxTrot, the strip centers around a rather ‘unique’ family and supporting cast of characters that view life from slightly askew perspectives. The verbal and physical humor, especially the puns, make FoxTrot one of those comic strips that slowly and methodically draws you in and never lets your funny bone go. My favorite character is Jason, the cerebral younger brother who easily understands science, computers and math but is totally na├»ve when it comes to other human beings. And there is his long suffering sister Paige who wants nothing more than to fit in and be popular despite her younger brother’s insane antics. So ‘trot’ down to you local bookstore and buy The Best Of FoxTrot.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Everyone can use some extra wisdom, especially during the holiday season. Who better to give out gems of inspiration and advice than that diminutive intergalactic guru: Yoda from Star Wars?

Yoda: Bring You Wisdom, I Will is a compilation of all of Yoda's bits of wisdom and insight. Who can forget, "Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try." or "May the Force be with you."

You'll find them all in the little handbook of quotes that comes along with the miniature Yoda statue, two sheets of quotes on stickers and the cool Dagoba base Yoda perches upon. They all come packaged in a handsome study display box that keeps the contents protected and together behind a clear front display window from Chronicle Books.

The first wise thing you can do? Buy Yoda: Bring You Wisdom, I Will for someone for the holidays. It's the smart thing to do!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The A-Team

Liam Neeson heads an all-star cast in the movie adaptation of the popular 1980s TV series The A-Team. Neeson plays Hannibal Smith, the head of a special units military team who are framed for a crime they did not commit, sent to prison and promptly escape.

The crime they were framed for involved stolen U.S. currency plates that they were sent to recover. Having recovered the plates, and the millions of dollars printed from them, The A-Team believes their mission is complete--until things go horribly wrong: the money is destroyed and the plates stolen

Six months later Hannibal masterminds escapes from the high-security prisons each A-Team member was sent to. The A-Team then sets out to find the true criminals, recover the plates and clear their records-if it were only that easy.

In typical A-Team fashion there are lots of bullets flying, bombs exploding, cars and planes crashing and enough thrills, chills and spills to keep the most diehard A-Team fan glued to the screen.

20th Century Fox's 'The A-Team' film pays homage to the original series and expands upon it with over-the-top action sequences and lots of explosions and destruction. This is a true tribute film that stays faithful to the TV series.

Look for lots of extras on both the regular DVD version and the special 2-Pack Blu-ray release. Featurettes, commentaries, behind-the scenes and much more make The A-Team the team to join. I love it when a plan comes together!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Tron Legacy

It's been close to 30 years since the original Disney Tron movie came out. My wife and I went and watched it. I immediately caught on how revolutionary it was for its time. My wife 'liked it' but wasn't really sure what to make of it.

Computer special effects were in their infancy and Tron was the first movie to use them extensively. Granted some sacrifices had to made in order to make its primitive (by our present standards) effects work. A good example of how new the technology was, actors were actually filmed in black and white with color added digitally later when they were integrated into the special effects. The Tron Cycle chase scene is still a classic.

While a technological success the movie was not a complete commercial success. It wasn't until years passed that the movie took on cult status. Fans of science fiction movies began to take notice. So much so that Disney has made a follow-up film, Tron Legacy, starring Jeff Bridges reprising his role as Kevin Flynn.

Spin Master Toys has acquired the toy rights to the new movie and have done a spectacular job of translating the film's characters and vehicles to toy form.

The Sam Flynn 3 1/2 inc figure, one of six Tron characters, captures the look of the film's character in fully-articulated miniature form. The coloring and details of the figure match the film's star right along with light up face and chest and the Base, Identity Disc and Baton that comes with it. An instruction guide comes with the figure and accessories sealed in a plastic bubble card package with a 'Try Me' hole to test the lights and a color photo of Sam alongside the Tron Legacy logo. Sculpting is tight with no flanges or sloppy joints and the color application is neat even around the figure's transparent helmet.

For a more dynamic Sam Flynn figure check out the 12-inch fully-articulated and ultra-detailed Ultimate Sam Flynn figure with light up chest with a face helmet that lights up and shows Sam talking. It also comes with a Identity Disc, Magnetic Baton and Katana.

This a tough figure that kids can spend hours playing with. It's also a perfect collector figure with its cool accessories and special light-up capability. The figure comes in a clear front display box with a flip open side panel with a full figure photo on the flipside detailing Sam's suit and weapons.

The highlights of the original Tron movie were the vehicles and Torn Legacy is no exception. It has taken the classic Tron transportation and made them ultra modern and super cool.

The Deluxe Light Cycle: Sam Flynn has Functioning Air Brakes, Figure-Activated Lights and Motion Activated sounds, including Engine noises. A Sam Flynn partially articulated figure comes with the Cycle and when placed on the Cycle it activates the lights. Look in the clever 3D viewer at the bottom of the display box to catch a glimpse of Sam on his Cycle in full 3D.

The Light Cycle: Sam Flynn Zero Gravity R/C can actually drive on walls. No kidding! Use the enclosed remote control to guide your Cycle up and along walls, seemingly defying gravity. You'll be even more amazed on how it leaves a light trail! It also drives upside down! I could use on of these during my drive to work.

The Deluxe Light Runner also lights up, holds two figures (not included) has Pop Out Blasters, Figure Activated Lights, a Cockpit that opens and is probably the coolest looking four-wheel vehicle I've ever seen! It super sturdy, looks awesome at any angle and looks exactly like its move namesake.

The white Light Cycle: Kevin Flynn is a slightly retro looking Cycle, reflexing the original movie design, with front opening Cockpit and when the Kevin Flynn figure (sold separately) is placed inside, it lights up. It also looks exactly like the film's version as do all the other vehicles after their movie counterparts.

All of the figures and vehicles are made of durable plastic, feature excellent paint and coloring and impressive articulation and fittings. Live the movie, buy the toys and go on your own Tron Legacy adventure courtesy of Spin Master Toys.