Popular Culture Collectibles Reviews

Friday, July 30, 2010

DC Comics: The 75th Anniversary Poster Book

Seventy five years!? Hard to believe but DC Comics has been around for 75 years. I've enjoyed reading its comic books for over 50 years. In fact, DC Comics was my introduction to comic books.

When I was five years old I was stuck in a hospital for a week recovering from having my tonsils taken out. Since my Mom couldn't be there the entire time, she came up with a clever way for me to pass the time.

You guessed it-comic books! Each day she would stop by the neighborhood Salvation Army and Good Will stores and pick up a stack of comic books at two for a nickel-most were DC Comics. Occasionally she would buy new issues off the stands at a whopping ten cents each!

I can still remember thrilling to the adventures of the Flash, Green Lantern, the Atom, Adam Strange, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and a library of books filled with DC superheroes, adventure and science fiction titles. Most were Silver Age with the occasional Golden Age surfacing. Of course I had no idea that the books I held would one day go on to be classics and worth a small fortune. I was hooked. From that point on I read comic books-I still do.

DC Comics: The 75th Anniversary Poster Book, with commentary by Robert Schnakenberg and published by Quirk Books, is a treasure trove of classic images. Included in this oversize book are 100 ready-to-frame classic DC comic book covers starting from the Golden Age on up to modern times. On the flip side of each poster is a commentary about the title, anecdotes and recollections by the cover artist along with two additional cover reproductions.

This is what collecting and reading comic books is all about. Flipping though its pages I was swept away by a wave of nostalgia by both the old and new images. It reaffirmed why I love comic books so much.

Buy a copy today, savor every page and image and relive the magic that only DC Comics can deliver.

Fangoria #296, September

As if Resident Evil isn't scary enough now it's coming at you in 3D with the release of Afterlife. Fangoria jumps in with another 3D movie, Piranha, The Last Exorcism puts the devil in her and Dark Shadows is remembered.


Machete is a real cut up, never work in the Sweatshop, stay out of the Valley Of The Scarecrow, Jason Dark is a Ghost Hunter and it's hard to navigate the Sea Of Dust.


Open your mind and enter the Void, The Terror Tube looks back at a classic Twilight Zone TV show episode, Kogar returns, get that haunting feeling at FrightFest and return to the heyday of 3D cinema.


Get ready to see Saw VII, discover when Roger Corman cleared the beach, walk on the Wilde side with Dorian Gray and celebrate 30 years of Contamination.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Lost Archives

With four Autograph Cards guaranteed per Box (I received Bruce Davidson, Sonya Walger, M.C. Gainey and Kim Dickens) the 72 Base Cards Lost Archives Trading Cards Set (I assembled one full Base Set with a few extras) is a real treat for Lost fans.
Twenty four Foil Packs come per Box with five Cards per Pack courtesy of Rittenhouse Archives. Look at this Set of Cards as a primer for the series. Character images from the show's entire run make up the Set. Cards are printed on high-gloss, heavy paper stock with clean, crisp images and consistent centered image trimming.
Randomly inserted Bonus Cards include a 18-count subset of Season Six images (I got 4), Lost Stars Artifex Expansion Cards (2 in my Box), 9 Dharma Patch Cards (I got Jin Kwon's) and 5 Costume Relic Cards (zip). Case Topper Cards are also available and look for Promotional Cards.



The Quotable Star Trek Movie

The Star Trek TV series and especially the Trek movies are well known for many memorable quotes. Need I say, "Khan!" or "Resistance is futile!"? Rittenhouse Archives has compiled full-color photo, high-gloss Trading Cards from the first ten Star Trek movies along with their famous quotes.
I assembled a full Base Set from five Cards per Foil Pack, 24 Packs per Box Set of Trading Cards. Look for special Case Bonus Cards and a Collector's Card Album.
Three Autograph Cards are guaranteed per Box (mine are Marcy Lafferty, Brent Spiner and Paul Rossilli). Other randomly inserted Bonus Cards include nine Women Of Star Trek Movies Cards (I received 4), ten Classic Star Trek Movies Poster Cards (2 in my packs), 9 Star Trek Bridge Crew Transitions Cards (2 again) and 9 Star Trek The Motion Picture Bridge Crew Patch Cards (mine is Mr. Spock's).

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Rough Couple Of Years

It's been a rough couple of years as far as writing reviews goes.

With the current state of the economy (thanks to the current administration) businesses are hurting financially.  Because of the threat of tax rate increases, the upcoming health care debacle, extended unemployment and the general government animosity towards capitalism, companies are cutting back on staff, product and advertising and promotion.

The last two have really affected me.  It used to be I could request review samples and I would receive them within a short time.  Not any more.

Companies are strapped for revenue, a plethora of  "review" websites have cropped up (many of them no more than those seeking merchandise to sell and not delivering the number of readers they boast), print media is dying and with the failing state of our economy, review samples are few and far between.  I've pride myself that I've always delivered honest reviews, reported conservative readership numbers and did what I say that I was going to do.

I understand the dilemma publishers and manufacturers face. Times are tough.  I've had to cut back on my publications.  It used to be I published a monthly printed newsletter, delivered it and mailed copies.  Ad revenues paid for my expenses. 

Within the last two to three years ad revenue has dried up, printing costs have skyrocketed and postage is not far behind.  I was forced to downsize my print publication to a printable one-page PDF, switch my reviews to my website and blog and no longer mail out samples or deliver them.

Shops and businesses are closing left and right, everyone is hurting financially and let's face it, things aren't looking any better for the future.

I could rant and rave about the current crowd who runs things in Washington-it would be so much hot air.

I can make an observation:  never spend what you don't have, you can't tax or spend your way out of a recession and taxing the "big guys" doesn't affect them-they just pass the costs down to the middle and lower classes.

It seems that the lunatics have escaped from the asylum and are now running it.  Common sense has flown out the window along with integrity, honesty and accountability.  How's that "change" working for you?  I didn't realize that the change that was promised referred to the amount of money I would have left to spend. 

'Nuff said.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Mack, Woody, Samba, Shelby And Phantom

Revell/Monogram has five new model releases this time around from wheels to wings. Regardless of how you feel about the current state of the oil and fuel industry, one thing never changes and that's how its transported.

Fuel trucks have been around ever since gasoline and diesel were first introduced. Refineries and pipelines are only the first phase of getting fuel to the public. Trucks are the workhorses of the fuel industry and none works harder than the Mack "R" Conventional and Fruehauf Tanker.Monogram presents this monster of a machine in 1:32 Scale and Snap Tite format. No glue or paint are required and assemblage is easy for those ages eight and up.

It's a beautiful truck in cobalt blue with full front grill, bumper, side mirrors, roof horns, wheels and fuel tank all in chrome. Other truck extras include turning wheels, wheel flaps, full interior details, decals, chrome underbelly and extended cab for those long trips. The huge tank trailer duplicates the look of stainless steel and includes full fuel value configuration, decals and back mounted ladder.

Be sure to look for some other cool features such as full windows, headlights, license plates and much, much more.

On of the coolest cars I remember as a kid growing up in Michigan was the '48 Ford Woody. The Woody would go on to become a favorite with the surfer crowd. Songs were even written about it.

Monogram's Level 2, 1:25 Scale, deep blue (almost black) square back station wagon Woody features the rounded aerodynamic body style prevalent in the late 1940s early 1950s Ford body styles.

This a true classic Woody with full two-tone wood paneling wraparound on the side and back, squared side and back windows, protruding wheel wells, white wall tires and round chrome hubcaps.

Modelists are sure to love the front chrome grill, trim and bumpers. Even the front windows are trimmed in chrome! Pop open the front hood and marvel at the flathead V8 engine accented in chrome staring back at you! Included are factory stock details and period travel graphics.

Another favorite vehicle of the younger set was the VW T1 Samba Bus. This is the VW Bus often seen decorated in psychedelic paint schemes favored by the Hippie generation. A friend of mine drove one and we had a ball riding in it!

Painted blue and white, separated by a full-length chrome trim line, the wraparound windows with roof windows Samba also includes a full interior viewed by the side doors and rear pop open back entrance. Inside look for the Spartan VW seats, flat front instrument panel with an almost vertical steering column and a hidden rear storage compartment.

The Samba also comes with white wall tires, chrome hubcaps, wraparound front and rear bumpers, a period set of front headlights, turn signals and VW insignia with 'V" tapered chrome detail. A sliding roof panel lets the sun and air in the spacious interior.

If you're looking for a little muscle in you mode of transportation then you're sure to love Monogram's '66 Shelby GT350.

This car is all muscle and no nonsense as it showcases an impressive 306 horsepower V8 engine. Open the hood and marvel at the Motor-City Muscle this modified Mustang boasts. Painted a deep red with full twin white strips running from hood to trunk, the Shelby delivers with chrome wheels, airfoil, two doors, full black interior, chrome bumpers and grill. This is the Mustang at its best!

Monogram's F-4C Phantom fighter jet is modeled in 1:48 Scale. Designed after the famous McDonnell fighter jet, the model is rated at Level 2 which means paint and glue are required.

Paint it in full camo with upper body red and gray alternating strips and with full insignia application.

A single pilot is included that can bee seen through the clear cockpit canopy. Full instrumentation and underbelly mounted missiles and fuel tanks make this model appears as if it can really fly.

Display the Phantom with gears up or down. Either way it is an impressive model that aircraft fans will want to own.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Hero: 108

The Cartoon Network animated series, Hero: 108, pits humans against animals in the Hidden Kingdom.

For a millennium animals and humans lived together in peace until the High Roller arrived and tricked the animals into believing humans were their enemies. It wasn't until Commander Ape/Trully traveled to the Animal Kingdom in the hopes of having them join the forces of Big Green to reunite animals and humans that the hope for peace stirred.

While Big Green continues its mission for reunification, its members must also fight the forces of High Roller and the Zebra Brothers. Playmates Toys presents a brand new collection of toys based on the animated show with its 1st Series release.



The Double Pack Kingdom Krashers come with two colorful figures: one human, one animal. Archer Lee Vs. Frog King finds the opponents standing on turtles that stand on four-wheel carts. The combination of turtle and cart is referred to as a Tank.

Press the top dial on the Tanks, snap the characters on to their Tank and away they go crashing into each other! Go head-to-head in a slam-bang battle, the outcome of which can change second-to-second.

The human figure is dressed in pink and brown with purple and a black Viking helmet covering his blue skin. The green Frog King is short and squat with lighter green belly and lips.

The Kingdom Krashers Single Packs also come on Tanks. Highroller is dressed in blue with a deep blue and light blue stripped hat with an arrow through its peak. He holds a shish kabob consisting of three red (apples?) in his right hand.

The Double Packs come with six game cards while the Single Packs include three cards.

These are really neat looking figures. They're extremely colorful, highly detailed and loads of fun to play with. Figures are packaged in bubble packs that can hang or standalone. Collect all 24 figures in the 1st Series. Other products include Sammo's Splashout Battle Bout, Ring Of Fire Bout and Havoc At The Citadel Battle Arena.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Errol Flynn Adventures

Long before Harrison Ford, Sylvester Stallone, Matt Damon, Mel Gibson, Bruce Willis and dozens of other action/adventure heroes lit up the Silver Screen there was Errol Flynn.

Flynn personified the stoic hero who placed honor before personal safety and always managed to get the girl. His exploits thrilled millions of movie goes for several decades.

Warner Bros. has compiled five of Flynn's most adventurous movies: Desperate Journey, Edge Of Darkness, Northern Pursuit, Uncertain Glory and Objective, Burma into the 5-disc DVD set: TCM Spotlight: Errol Flynn Adventures. Each film has been remastered and restored starring Errol Flynn (the Baron).
Film buffs and movie lovers will love watching one of the pioneers of adventure films fight and love his way through five fantastic films, many of which where he performed his own stunts. No computer generated special effects for Flynn who was named one the 100 Sexiest Stars In Film History.



Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Man Cave

Thougth I'd share some photos of my recently completed Man Cave where I read, watch movies and am surrounded by collectibles.

Fantasy & Science Fiction #690, July/August

Here's a quick checklist of what you can expect to read in this issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction.
Annabelle Beaver delves into Physics. Gordon Van Gelder offers a unique Editorial, Charles de Lint and James Sallis recommend some books, Lucius Shepard looks a the film, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore and other articles include Plumage From Pegasus, Coming Attractions and Curiosities.
Novelets as listed are Advances In Modern Chemotherapy, Mister Sweetpants And The Living Dead, Fining To Be Human, The Lost Elephants Of Kenyisha and The Precedent.

Over in the Short Story category look for Recrossing The Styx, Brothers Of The River, The Tale Of Nameless Chameleon, Epidapheles And The Inadequately Enraged Demon and Introduction To Joyous Cooking, 200th Anniversary Edition.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

E-Klasse, Ambulanz And Insignia

Schuco just released three new diecast cars (two 1:87 Scale, one 1:43 Scale) that diecast car lovers are sure to want to add to their collections.
The Mercedes-Benz E-Klasse is a classy station wagon sedan painted all in black with chrome trim and custom chrome alloy wheels. Its sleek design belies the fact that it is a family station wagon with lots of cargo space. It's a beautiful examine of superior German design that combines functionality and engineering into a superb driving experience.
The VW cream colored T2 "Ambulanz" is a typical VW van but with a few differences. Configured with the standard window setup the VW bus also comes with a roof emergency light, side Red Cross decals and back windows obscured by white shades.
The Opel Insignia OPC is a sleek, semi-compact black sedan with custom alloy wheels, chrome trim, full interior details in black, wraparound bumpers, oversize red turn and brake lights and aerodynamic side mirrors, flared rear scoop and front grill and lights molded into the body.


All of the diecast vehicles are of the highest quality, minutely detailed, and crisply painted and decaled. For the best in quality diecast vehicles, Schuco is the manufacturer diehard diecast collectors prefer.



Clash Of The Titans

Sam Worthington is fast proving himself to be the action hero for the 21st Century is Clash Of The Titans is any indication. Sam stars as Perseus, the bastard son of leader of the gods: Zeus, played by Liam Neeson, who rejects his godhood after his human parents and sibling are killed by Hades.
Picked up as the sole survivor of a shipwreck caused by Hades, Perseus joins forces with a small group of warriors in the quest to retrieve the head of Medusa to use as weapon against the horrific Kraken.



Within a short period, unless Perseus is successful in his quest, the king's daughter will be sacrificed to the Kraken in order to save all of humanity from a literal hell on earth. Mankind has angered the gods in its refusal to worship them. Zeus allows Hades free reign to stop Perseus and his men. Unbeknownst to Zeus he's falling into Hades hands in his plans to become the leader of the gods.



On their quest Perseus and his men encounter giant Scorpions, magic, demons and other underworld creatures and ultimately meet up with Medusa. The final confrontation with the Kraken is a masterpiece of special effects. The entire film incorporates cutting edge computer generated graphics. Look for a playful wink of the eye to the original Clash Of The Titans film effects master Ray Harryhausen and see if you can spot the actor that played the chief villain in the James Bond film: Casino Royale.



Clash Of The Titans from Warner Bros. delivers on all fronts: lots of action and effects and an impressive cast.

The special Blu-ray triple pack DVD set comes with Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy. The Blu-ray version contains tons of featurettes and commentaries and a special alternate ending to the film.



Monday, July 19, 2010

Bugs And Daffy

"Wabbit season!"  Duck season!" "Wabbit season!"  "Duck season!"

Whether you like wabbits (er, rabbits) or ducks, you're sure to love the animated adventures of that rascally rabbit Bug Bunny and his avian adversary Daffy Duck in Warner Bros. two new DVDs presenting 15 cartoon classics each.
Newly remastered and for the first time on DVD Bugs Bunny, Hare Extraordinaire, is showcased in some of his most memorable adventures including take-offs of Mutiny On the Bunny, Napoleon Bunny-Part and Apes Of Wrath. 
Unlike Disney cartoons the Warner Bros. cartoons pushed the edge of slapstick humor, innuendo and hair brain antics.  Bugs Bunny was at his best when he faced off against Elmer Fudd and Daffy Duck along with other Warner Bros. animation favorites.
Daffy Duck, Frustrated Fowl, was the foil of Bugs.  He tried to be clever and evasive but only managed to get himself further in trouble.
No matter what situation Daffy found himself in he always managed to come out the worse for wear.  For some hilarious feathered, frenzied fun and frivolity check out Daffy's new DVD collection.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Fantasy, History And Reality


Safari Ltd. mixes up a healthy dose of reality and fantasy in its latest batch of high quality, expertly crafter and painted, super-detailed figures.  If you're new to what Safari Ltd. has to offer you'll be pleasantly surprised by the artistry that goes into each piece.  Paint application matches fur, clothing, surface texture and look of whatever creature or person is represented.  Sculpting of each figure is tight and crisp with no funky flashing or sloppy handwork.  I especially like the way each figure or creature is posed.  No static figures these, each looks as if it were real with arms and legs raised, torso twisted with unique personalities shining through.  Several different scales are available.  Whatever scale you choose you can be sure you're getting a quality product at a great price.  Is it any wonder why so many Safari Ltd. figures are found in specialty stores, toys stores, retailers and museums?  Quality always shines through.
Everyone needs a little fantasy in their life now and again.  Safari Ltd. has just the thing, or things, to help you give form to your fantasy.
Fairies have always been a favorite fantasy subject. Safari Ltd.'s Fairy Tea Party Set is just your cup of tea.  Two gossamer winged Fairies sit around a flower petal table pouring tea, eating sweets and chatting about things Fairies often do.  One Fairy is dressed in gold and aqua, the other in lavender and deep pink.  Both wear pointed shoes and sit upon brown, red and white mushrooms.
Lucy The Fairy sits upon a bright red Cardinal.  She smiles and waves as she holds on tight to her winged steed.  Her long golden hair flutters in the wind and her maturing translucent aqua wings seem to shimmer.  She comes dressed in yellow and aqua and comes with a silver tiara in her hair.
Speaking of fairies check out Safari Ltd.'s Fairy Fantasy Toob choke full of these delightful creatures.  Young and old Fairies come contained each with their own unique outfit from casual to a crowned and formally dressed Fairy with a golden wand.  Two different type of fantasy figures include a white Baby Unicorn with lavender ribbons in its mane and tail and two ferocious dragons. 
The yellow and red Horned Chinese Dragon with black accents and whiskered face and twin brown horns is long and serpentine with large scales on its curved back, four talon front feet and three talon back feet.  
The Forest Dragon is green like its keepsake and has giant bat-like wings, a brown/red row of fins running down its spine and powerful talon hands and feet.  I love the expression on its broad face resplendent with twin horns, heavy brow ridges and sharp teeth.
Two Asian Elephants with trunks raised look as if they are walking along slowly.  Each has heavy feet with deeper gray nails, small intelligent eyes, small ears, a bushy end tail and fully textured hide.
It's time to monkey around with Safari Ltd.'s Bornean Orangutan.  Almost comical in appearance this massively muscled simian holds its weigh up on its front arms while it leans forward on its back legs.  A brooding intelligence can be seen in its deep set eyes sunk in its gray face with large side flaps, red beard and formidable teeth..
The Chimpanzee With Baby is all mother as it scurries along with its clinging infant firmly holding onto her back.   Mother and child looks as if they are in a hurry.  A Coyote and Coyote Pup looks startlingly real painted in light grays with white, black and brown mixed furs.  The Pup howls as if seeking its mother.  The black mane, face, tail and lower legs Icelandic Horse struts its heavy body like the mighty steed it is.
The Atlantic Puffin is a short squat little bird with black and white feathers, a multi-color beak, squinty eyes and flat orange, webbed feet.
the prehistoric Ichthyosaurus holds a crustacean in its long multi-teeth snout.  This sleek predator is multi-color as it almost matches the varying colors of the oceans it swims in.  The Cryolophsaurus is a deadly looking land predator with long serpentine tail, grasping front clawed hands, large fang filled mouth and purple armor turned back head plate. 
Audrey rides her horse Streaming Light.  The beautiful horse is black and white with oversize mane and tail.  Audrey is dressed in blue jeans, red shirt and boots and white cowboy hat over her long blond hair.  The Safari People Toob is filled with, you guessed it, people.  Look for a mailman, police officer, fireman and more in this people packed package of play.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Rogue Warrior And The Governator


One of the things (among many) that I love about Antarctic Press's creators is the fact that they aren't afraid to try something new, take chances and step on a few toes.
Case in point is the two hilarious takes off of Alaska's favorite ex-governor Sarah Palin and Cal(e)fornia's governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Sarah Palin: Rogue Warrior #1 pokes fun at the straight talking ex-governor starting with its cover of Sarah in what appears to be a slight variation of Wonder Woman's red, white and blue outfit-only Sarah's is a little bit more revealing and she's sporting a machine gun and wearing a winter hat.  She's also surrounded by all sorts of military vehicles. 
Inside a number of artists and writers pay satirical tributes to Sarah beginning with a faux Wonder Woman comic book cover, pin-ups, a Li'l Palin Peanuts knock-off, a hilarious send-off of Knights Of The Dinner Table, a Sarah Palin confrontation with the Russian military and a lot more pin-ups.  You betcha!
Arrrrnold is in all his muscular glory brandishing a huge sword on the cover of The Governator #1 by David Hutchinson. 
The Governator, with the help of a certain Italian Stallion and Texas Ranger must stop lobbyists from substituting special effects for real life action heroes.  It's a no-hold-barred skirmish as the Governator and his aid take on the forces of the lobbyists on the ground and in the air.  Who will survive?  Do I really have to tell you?  The Governator is a political poke at the politics of Arrrnold and the subsequent mess Cal(e)fornia has found itself in.  He'll be back!

Quest, Sumos, Nano, Air, War And Railroads

For a triple treat of Saturday morning cartoon fun check out the 10 episode DVDs of World Of Quest, Super Duper Ninjas and The New Adventures Of Nanoboy from Mill Creek Entertainment.

Quest, the muscle-bound warrior, is under a spell to protect Prince Nestor as he searches for his parents. along they way they meet every conceivable type of foe from warriors to supernatural forces.

Quest would just as soon be left alone, but under the thrall of a magic spell he has no choice but to protect the less than cautious and headstrong prince.

Three oversize Sumo teenage wrestlers possessing some degree of magical powers fight the forces of evil and the minions of Mr. Mister with the aid of their teacher Wisdom San and his niece Prima. Look for some super size action as the Super Duper Sumos show that they've got guts!

Nanoboy is the world's smallest superhero that fights crime on a microscopic level. Big on courage but small in stature, Nanoboy fights a never-ending battle against the Amazonian Amoebas, nefarious proteins, antisocial antibodies, bad guy bacteria and other microscopic threats to mankind. The New Adventures Of Nanoboy may be small in statue but big on action!

On a more serious note Railroads: Tracks Across America follows the often turbulent history of the laying of railroad tracks across the United States. Learn how the railroads got started and the tremendous and dangerous effort it took to lay thousands of miles of track. Witness the birth of an industry and individual empires. Relive the long lost romantic days of traveling the country via rails and rediscover the wonder that is our country. Also included is short featurette on the glory days of railroads.

Fly high with Victory By Air: A History Of The Aerial Assault Vehicle. Beginning soon after the Wright Brothers perfected heavier than air aircraft industrialists and military forces began to use aircraft as weapons.

Follow the progress of armed aircraft from their early days in 1900 through several wars until WWII ended in 1945. Archival footage, some of never seen before, make up this five-part historical record of the Aerial Assault vehicle.

Eleven parts make up The Dawn OF War: The Early Battles Of WWII. Follow history beginning with the rise of Adolf Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin into power.

Relive the early days of the war when Europe was a blaze with the fires of hatred, death and destruction. Follow the United States as it becomes entrenched in both the European, African and Pacific war fronts and the effect the war had on the entire world's population. Archival footage tracks the bloody rise of the Nazi and Axis forces and the heroic rise of the Allies. It's the early years of WWII as never seen before.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Going Home Again

--> My wife and I just got back from visiting her relatives in Tennessee and mine in Michigan.  We visit her family about once a year because Tennessee is only a one day ride from Jacksonville.  It's great to see her family as they are really nice folk.  Real Southern hospitality.  We spent the 4th of July there and had a relaxing time visiting, hiking, shopping and eating.

On the 7th of July we arrived at my brother's home in Michigan. It takes two days of hard driving to get there from Jacksonville, one day from Tennessee.  I hadn't seen my family in almost 15 years and my wife, Susan, hadn't been to see them in 29 years!  How time flies.

We visited my family, found my old friend Tim Arble, stopped by my old neighborhood haunts and visited my Mom and Dad's graves.  It was quite a shock seeing my old home town. Nothing looked the same except the Hobby Shop run by Mr. Doliber.  Nothing had changed!  The store had the same items in the windows and some of the items in the store were in their same locations.  Mr. Doliber encouraged my love of comic books and art.

It's been said you can never go home again.  I disagree.  You can go home again.  The only problem is, you can't recognize it or the people you once knew.  Regardless, it was a wonderful trip that brought back many heartfelt memories of growing up in a small Michigan town around the people I still love and cherish.  It was great seeing my brothers Rich and Jim and their kids and grandkids.  I feel so old!

If there is one word of wisdom I can leave with you it would be this.  Life is short, so cherish your loved ones.

Steve Rogers: Super Soldier #1


Steve Rogers is back from the dead, but not as Captain America.  He gave up being Captain America to his longtime WWII companion, the resurrected Bucky Barnes.  Instead Steve is the head of the newly reformed S.H.I.E.L.D security taskforce with the help of several super hero groups and individuals.
While meeting with a covert operative Steve discovers that the grandson of the professor that created the Super Soldier serum that was responsible for Steve becoming Captain America has broken the formula of the super serum. 
His contact informs him that the grandson will be putting the serum up for sale to the highest bidders.  Shocked at the prospect, Steve infiltrates the complex where the grandson and the formula are located.  What he finds is not at all what he expects. 
He is confronted by three super soldiers-all of which die when the strain of battle gets too intense.  The wife of the grandson looks identical to a woman Steve loved during WWII and before any questions can be answered someone shoots the grandson to keep him silent.  The mystery deepens.  Included with the Brubaker/Eaglesham Super Soldier story is a reprint of the original Golden Age Captain America origin story.
The main story has me hooked as to who is behind the new Super Soldier serum and what they plan to do with it.  There's a lot of unanswered questions and I plan on being around for the entire run of the Marvel Comics title to find out the answers.

Doctor Solar #1


During the Silver Age one of my favorite comic book titles was Doctor Solar.  When Jim Shooter resurrected the Doctor as a Valiant Comics title it soon became a favorite early 1990s title in my collection.  I even liked it during its brief return in the newly resurrected Valiant line.  Sadly the Doctor has not been seen in nearly a decade.  But, when I heard that Jim Shooter would be bringing him back as a Dark Horse title I got all excited.  I could hardly wait.
The wait is over and once again the doctor is on my must-read comic book list, and for good reason.  Jim Shooter has lost none of his story-telling ability. If anything, he's better than ever.  He's brought the Doctor back with some similarities to his earlier incantations along with some new, and surprising, twists included.
When strange events begin happening-most notably the appearance of several super beings, Doctor Solar investigates.  What he discovers is that somehow reality has been shifted-due in part to his own creation.  And, his creation, although unexpected, was caused not by an accident but by someone.  Dennis Calero provides the art to the main story and included with the 48 page first issue is a reprint of the very first Silver Age Doctor Solar: Man Of The Atom issue. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Cages

Batter up!  Konami brings the sweat, strain and muscle of a real batting cage to video games with its The Cages for Wii.  Get ready to take on 19 different practice pitches ranging from fast balls to curves in the ultimate pitching and batting game ever created for the baseball lover.  Test you batting skills in mini-games either alone or against fellow gamers.
Wii's Motion Plus makes The Cages: Pro-Style Batting Practice seems as real as the real thing.  Various challenges such as home run, distance and most points test your control of the bat as you swing and hit balls to all areas of the field.  You can even track your cardio and calorie burning!
So step up, suit up, pick up and shut up as you pit your batting skill against The Cages: Pro Style Batting Practice.  The look, the feel and the excitement of a real turn at bat will keep you swinging and going for the run.  Hey, batter, batter!

Batman: Under The Red Hood

There's a new threat to Gotham City.  The mysterious Red Hood has muscled in on the Black Hood's criminal activities.  Ruthless and a brilliant tactician, the Red Hood quickly assembles a crime cartel as powerful as the Black Hood's.
Batman, with some assist from Nightwing, takes on the Red Hood and is surprised at how brilliant he is.  He plays the Batman and manipulates him to do what he wants and be where ever he chooses.  Batman is not pleased and after some investigation comes to the conclusion that the Red Hood's fighting tactics mirror his own.  Just who is the Red Hood and what does he want from Batman? 
The Warner Bros. animation team has really outdone themselves with Under The Red Hood.  The action is breath-taking, especially the fight scenes, the direction top-notch, the special effects extremely well done, the script brilliant and the voice actors are perfect-especially the Joker.  This is Batman at his best.  I believe this is the best interpretation of Batman in animated form ever done.
Besides the movie viewers can watch several clips from other Warner Bros. DC animated films and a short preview of the next feature in line: Superman/Batman: Apocalypse.  Don't miss this DVD!

Singularity

What if you had the ability to manipulate time? What would you do with it? Would you use it for good or for bad? That's the premise behind Activison's new first-person action game Singularity. When a Russian Cod War experiment in time, element 99, goes terribly wrong you must use the Time Manipulation Device to unravel and repair the time line as you travel from 1955 to 2010.

Through your journey you must fight threats from the past, present and beyond as you scramble to save time before it is too late.

Singularity combines science fiction and horror as you bounce from alternate histories and parallel realities. Explore the secret Russian Base Katorga-12 and uncover long hidden secrets in documents, audio and video files and more.

Witness the shifting of history as you manipulate Echo Events, Time Shifts and Time Rifts. With Time Manipulation Device you can age or renew objects and people, stop time and control gravity. By using the Chrono Plug and Chrono Pull you can find your way through time and pull objects from the past or future.

An arsenal of weapons is at your disposal when using the Time Manipulation Device such as the E99 Seeker, Auto Cannon and the Dethex Rolling Grenade Launcher. You can even upgrade your weapons.

Play in Extermination or Creature Vs. Soldier modes with six-versus-six team based gameplay online.

Singularity is a bold new experiment in gameplay. The special effects, character designs, environments and storyline all combine to make a totally unique game that I predict will become a huge success with gamers. I was amazed at the time sequence effects-especially the reassembly of long dead objects and people and the rapid aging effects used against enemies.

This is no game for sissies as the action is intense, the adversaries ruthless and the gameplay fast and furious. Isn't it time you played Singularity?

Cul de Sac



Cartoonist Richard Thompson has unique way of looking at childhood and people and life in general.  Just one look at his Cul de Sac comic strip will confirm that conclusion.  Cul de Sac stars preschooler Alice Otterloop and her misadventures in her neighborhood and at school.
Each and every day brings strange new people and adventures Alice's way-or so she believes.  After reading Cul de Sac Golden Treasury: A Keepsake Garland Of Classics published by Andrew McMeel Publishing you're sure to come away with a off-kilter view of life and living of your own.
Follow Alice as she copes with preschool, the beach, growing up, her neighbors, holidays and the many unexpected twists and turns of life seen through the eyes of a child enriched by her imagination. 

Monday, July 12, 2010

Civil War And Hot Wheels

Of all the wars the United States has taken part in the Civil War is the most popular when it comes to collectibles.  Perhaps Civil War collecting is so popular because of the nature of the war.  This was no war where we sent troops overseas, this was a war where brother fought against brother, family against family and state against state.
Here in the South the Civil War is still very much alive, at least in spirit.  Many great battles were fought in the South and Rebel pride flourishes.  No one condones the South's use of slaves.  Rebel pride goes far deeper than that.  Southerners are proud of their heritage just as much as, if not more so, than Northerners.
The popularity of the Civil War is evident by the many reenactments taking place across the country and the plethora of Civil War artifact recreations.
In Warman's Civil War Collectibles by Russell E. Lewis and published by Krause Publications, Civil War buffs have a complete Identification And Price Guide at their disposal.
Inside everything from documents to uniforms to weapons, flags, surgical kits, personal items and more fill each page with full color photos accompanied by informative historical text and price ranges.  This book is far more than a book about Civil War collectibles, it's a great reference book about the war that nearly tore the United States apart.
Warman's Hot Wheels Field Guide 3rd Edition by Michael Zarnock is a great pocket size carry-along guide for the novice and veteran Hot Wheels collector.  Speaking as a novice, it's especially helpful to me.  Just a few years a go I wouldn't have known what a Redline or variation were, let alone what to look for.  Warman's has been a great help.  Inside this small Values And Identification Field Guide, Hot Wheels fans are presented with over 800 color photos, listings of Redlines, pricing and lots of other invaluable information.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Dreamscapes Myth & Magic: Creating Legendary Creatures And Characters In Watercolor

One of my favorite mediums to work in is watercolor.  The fluidity of line, the soft, subtle shades of color that can be achieved and ability to blend colors so smoothly together make it a wonderful way to paint.  However, it is one of the most difficult painting mediums to master and takes a good deal of skill. Unlike oil paints that you blend colors and make corrections over an extended time or acrylics that dry quickly and can be easily corrected by painting over mistakes, watercolors are far less forgiving.
A great deal of pre-planning must be made in order to assure a viable final watercolor painting.  There's only so many corrections that can be made despite the quality of the paper painted on or the pigments used.  Overworking of watercolor muddies an entire painting.  Only by carefully applying pigment in planned layers can a final product be successfully created.
Dreamscapes Myth & Magic: Creating Legendary Creatures And Characters in Watercolor by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law and published by Impact Books!, provides step-by-step instructions on how to create a successful fantasy watercolor painting beginning with pencils, the proper way to lay down colors and in what order and the final 'tweaks' that make a genre painting a success. 
The author provides lessons on illustrating and painting a myriad of fantasy settings, creatures and characters accompanied by precise informative text and tips.  It's a great instructional book on how to create beautiful and lush fantasy watercolors.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

July, Previews


Things really heat up in the July issue of Diamond Previews.  Lots of hot merchandise is headed your way so get ready to dole out some cool cash.  Here's just a few of the new items you'll want to purchase in September.
There's nothing like some four color magic and comic books serve it up in heaps.  Marvels serves up Wolverine #1, Valkyrie #1, X-23 #1, Deadpool: Pulp #1, I Am An Avenger #1, Spider-Man: Back In Quack #1, Captain America: Patriot #1, Shadowland: Elektra #1 and Invaders #1.  Dark Horse doles out the Terminator: 1984 #1, The Wednesday Conspiracy and Serenity: The Shepherd's Tale.  DC dishes up G.I. Combat #1, Our Army At War #1, Weird War Tales #1, Our Fighting Forces #1, Star-Spangled Stories #1, New Teen Titans: Games, Freedom Fighters #1 and Justice Society Of America Special #1.
IDW gives readers Machete #0, Transformers: Drift #1, Kodiak One-Shot, Star Trek: Captain's Log: Pike #1. Image presents Skullkickers #1, Next Gen Warz #1, Science Dog Special #1 and some new Halo figures.
Magazines and books that look to be a good read include Brush With Passion: The Art & Life Of Dave Stevens, Shazam! the Golden Age of The World's Mightiest Mortal, DC Comics Year by Year, Bryan Hitch's Ultimate Comics Studio, Sorayama Masterworks, Back Issue, Comic Shop News, Marvels' Avengers; Ultimate Character Guide, DC Heroes; The Ultimate Pop-Up Book, Obsessed With Marvel, Disneystrology, The Pixar Treasures, Stan Lee's How To Draw Comics Limited Edition, Werewolves, Zombies, The Living Dead, SFX, The Avengers: A Celebration: 50 Years Of A Television Classic, Star Wars Art Visions and Pulp History.
Trade Enterplay's Super Mario Bros. trading cards along with Legend Of Zelda and Rittenhouse's Marvel Heroes & Villains.
Play with some new toys with DC Heroes Wave 15, Ultimate Deadpool, Alice, Halo, Twilight, Iron Man, Fathom, Rocky, Star Wars, Star Trek, BSG, Disney, Final Fantasy and lots more.
Game on with Back To The Future, D&D, Heroscape and DC HeroClix.