Popular Culture Collectibles Reviews

Friday, October 29, 2010

Cosmic

Welcome to the world of Liam, a twelve year old who looks like a grown-up, including the whiskers, and who has more smarts than he knows what to do with. 
It's his smarts that manage to get him in trouble from posing as a grownup in school to impersonating a fellow classmate's father in order to visit places children have no place being or doing things best left to adults-like purchasing a car--almost.
Looking older than he is has its ups and downs-like being mistaken for an adult and getting to do adult things and looking like an adult and being expected to act older than you are-even though you're a twelve year old boy.
Liam's masquerading as an adult really gets him into hot water when he poses as a chaperone for a group of kids on the first ever civilian spaceship flight.  Too bad Liam's not an adult-he might be able to figure a way back home when their spaceship malfunctions and they find themselves hundreds of thousands of miles away from Earth.
Cosmic is a delightful children's book with a unique main character, a quirky supporting cast and an outrageous and implausible story that author Frank Cottrell Boyce (I like that last name) manages to make perfect sense.  Look for Cosmic from Walden Pond Press.

Flip's Twisted World

Imagine living in a world where everything flips.  Suddenly the floor is the side wall, the ceiling the floor and to top things off everything is fraught with danger.
Gamers play Flip, a sorcerer's apprentice, who ignores his Master's advice and opens up a magical book and suddenly finds himself sucked into insane cube world where up is down, sideways suddenly become walkways and perspective and gravity have gone haywire.
You control the action and perspective with the simple flip of your wrist, using the Wii Remote.  Suddenly everything changes, new challenges arise as do new opportunities. 
Travel though six outrageous worlds collecting magical items and encountering a bevy of bizarre creatures and individuals.  Unlock goodies and alternate costumes, find pieces of Flip's Master's lost journal while desperately trying to find your way home-but only after you battle a ghost from Flip's Master's past. 
Flip's Twisted World is a 3D puzzler with an original musical score by Tommy Tallarico and featuring the voice talent of Anthony Stewart Head.  Flip's Twisted World is made for Wii and features some of the most imaginative, creative and fun scenarios, characters and tasks ever made for the Wii from Majesco Entertainment.

Rock Band 3

Get ready to rock and roll with the latest release of the Rock Band phenomenon from Harmonix. 1660 new songs are available for download from 80 rock bands that make the cut in this sing and play-along video game that has set the standard for all others.


Just look at few of the bands songs included in this game. Queen, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Who, Def Leppard, Ramones and more!


Join in the fun as you rock along with 3-part harmonies, full instrumentation and for the first time – keyboards. Take your talent and passion to the next level with Rock Band Pro and Rock Band 3 even supports your existing Rock Band library of music.


Rock Band 3 has taken the best from previous versions and made them better. Whether you rock out with friends or alone at home or online, Rock Band 3 delivers thunderous music, realistic band member movement and lots of lights, special effects and even a surprise or two. Rock on!

NBA 2K11

Without a doubt Michael Jordan was the greatest basketball player that ever lived. His incredible jumps, twirls, basket throwing skills, speed and agility are the stuff of legends. Michael no longer plays basketball but that doesn’t mean you can’t watch him play.


2K Sports’ new NBA 2K11 video game, rated ‘E’ for everyone, brings Michael back to the courts. Only this time you control the action as you put Michael through his paces as you relive ten of his most legendary games. Replicate his achievements in all ten games and unlock the MJ: Creating a Legend mode.


Boasting some of the most realistic basketball moves imaginable the games lets you seamlessly transition from move to move with no lag time or pause. Swoop, scoop, dribble, throw, jump, run or swivel, it makes no difference the maneuver, you’ve got the smooth moves that only MJ can deliver.


Basketball is not all about action just on the court. If you’re a big name like MJ then you have to deal with the press and all the fame that goes with your stellar career. Get ready to face the press, endorse products, deal with trade requests and more.


Another cool feature is NBA Today that provides real world NBA news, stats, halftime shows and commentaries.


NBA 2K11 is like being at an actual game with incredible graphics (player features are amazing), all the flash and splash of a real basketball game with crowd reactions, announcers and more and smooth game play with multiple characters that is seamless, realistic and fast-paced.

YGO 2010-11

From Konami comes four new products of the best-selling Trading Card Game: Yu-Gi-Oh!


Fans are sure to get a kick out of the super cool Legendary Collection consisting of six Legendary Cards (three mounted on the front of the silver embossed Collector’s Album and three in the interior see-thru panels) and the six Legendary Booster Packs.


They include Legend Of the Blue-Eyes White Dragon, Metal Raiders, Spell Ruler, Pharaoh’s Servant, Dark Crisis and Invasion Of Chaos.


The special cards are three Egyptian Gods: Obelisk The Tormentor, Seifer The Sky Dragon and The Winged Dragon OF Ra and The Most Famous Monsters: Blue-Eyes White Dragon, Dark Magician and Red-Eyes B. Dragon.


What better way to show off your Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Cards than in this new Collector’s Album?


Three new Tins are also available. All of them contain five Foil Packs and five Foil Cards (ranging from Rare to Super Rare). They are Majestic Red Dragon, Dragon Knight Draco Equiste and Black-Winged Dragon.


Yu-Gi-Oh! Players will be thrilled about the killer collection of Foil Packs and Cards included in each Tin.


Be sure to check out the new Yu-Gi-OH! Product Catalog for 2010-11 for all the cool merchandise headed your way.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fantasy & Science Fiction #692, November December

The Magazine Of Fantasy & Science Fiction offers another stellar collection of novelettes, short stories and prose for the months of November and December. Starting off with a transparent runner cover the magazines jumps right into a story by Alexander Jablokov called Plinth Without Figure.


Other stories include Swamp City Lament, Albert E. Cowdrey’s Death Must Die, The Exterminator’s Want Ad, Michaela Ruessnet’s Crumbs, Venues, Planning Ahead with Jerry Oltion, Alan Dean Foster’s Ware Of the Worlds, John Kessel enters The Closet and discover The Teen Love Science Club.


Check out some new titles with Charles de Lint and Elizabeth Shepard, Paul Di Filippo investigates The Royalties Of the Fathers, Lucius Shepard dreams too much of films, enter the Competition #80, see what’s coming up and satisfy your Curiosities.

Otherworlds

Author/artist Tom Kidd offers advice on how to imagine, paint and create epic scenes of fantasy in his new title, Otherworlds, from Impact Books. One hundred and ninety two pages are filled with examples of his art accompanied by helpful hints on how to create fantasy masterpieces.

Kidd demonstrates how to use various types of media including ink, paint, pencil etc. He then goes on to tackle such subjects as composition, portraying realism in fantasy settings, anatomy, drawing, landscapes, cities, animals, flora and fauna, imaginary creatures, various lighting and weather conditions and how to begin, create and finish a piece of art.


Readers will learn how to take their wildest fantasy creations and give them validity in illustrations, paintings and mixed media. Tackle everything from complicated architecture to the most wide-sweeping scenes imaginable. It’s a book brimming with advice and step-by-step instruction on how to bring fantasy to life.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Wolverine Fox Robot

From Actionheads comes a Fox Robot representing my home state team, the Michigan Wolverines. Like the feisty Wolverine this Fox robot is lean, mean, extremely flexible, built to take on foes even larger than itself and extremely tough.


The Robot is a deep blue with yellow strips on its legs, arms, removable shoulder pads and helmet. A large yellow ‘M’ decorated its helmet.


An officially licensed collegiate product, the Fox Wolverine Robot is highly detailed, articulated at every joint (including its fingers) holds a football in its right hand and stands freely with not support in dozens of different poses.


There’s an entire series of the Robots and if you’re a ‘real’ football fan you’re sure to want to get them all. Check out the details on the arm armor, chest protection, pivoting waist, shin and leg armor and the cool extended lower arm armor and oversize shoulder pads. I especially like the stylized helmet with oversize face protection and the gripping hands. Let’s play some football!

Heroes And Warehouse

Recently Rittenhouse Archives released two new sets of Trading Cards: Heroes Archives and Warehouse 13 Season 1. Like all of Rittenhouse’s Trading Cards Sets the Cards are printed on heavy coated paper stock with solid ink coverage, cut in with clean, crisp edges and feature brilliant color photographs from whatever movie, TV show or popular culture collectible promoted.


Both sets of Cards come in 24 Foil Packs per Box and five Cards per Pack. I was easily able to assemble a Base Set of both Sets of cards and had enough duplicates to put a serious dent on a second Set of each Trading Card selection.


Heroes fans are sure to be pleased with the Heroes Archives Set as six (Count them, six!) Autograph Cards come per Box along with a Relic Card. I received the following Autograph Cards: Shalim Ortiz, Jassalyn Gilsig, Todd Stashwick, Blake Shields, Tessa Thompson and James Kyson Lee. My Relic Card was a piece of clothing worn by Ando Masahashi.


Other randomly inserted Bonus Cards include:


9 The "Quotable" Heroes Cards (I received 3)
8 Heroes Generations Cards (2 for me)

Special Case Incentive Cards are also available.


The First Season of the new hit series Warehouse 13 is photographically chronicled in Rittenhouse’s second Trading Card Set release. A short synopsis is given on the back of many of the cards along with information of key characters and more.


Two Autograph Cards (I got Alec Medlock and Tricia Helfer) and two Costume Cards (Mine are pieces of Myka Bering and Claudia Donovan’s costumes) are guaranteed per Box. Randomly inserted, fold-over Artifact Cards are also included (I found 3).


Look for Case Incentive Cards and a special Collector’s Album.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The James Bond Girls File #1 The 1960s

To me the best James Bond films were the ones made in the 1960s.  Dr. No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice and On Her Majesty's Secret Service were the ultimate expression of the excessive 1960s.

Perhaps the biggest draw of all of the movies, besides the film's star Sean Connery (sorry George), was the women.  James Bond women were 'bigger' than life (forgive the pun), sexy, seductive, vulnerable but strong, innocent and yet provocative and almost surreal in their femininity.

007 Double - O - Seven Magazine Archive Files: The James Bond Girls #1 The 1960s, looks at the Bond feminine phenomenon. Resplendent with black and white and color photographs of some of the most beautiful women ever seen on the movie screen, the magazine is a visual gallery of gorgeous gals.

A synopsis of each of the aforementioned films is provided including insights and behind-the-scenes information about each movie.  Captioned photos briefly describe each female role.  I really enjoyed reading about each movie and I learned a few new facts and secrets about each film.

It's a beautiful magazine filled with high gloss photos and printed on heavy paper stock with enticing full-color front and back photo covers of Daniela Bianchi and Claudine Auger.   

GreenLight’s 1:64th Dioramas Series 3


Double up with Greenlight's 1:64 scale diecast Dioramas. Four new releases all packaged in attractive display boxes with a clear front and side panels for easy viewing. Colorful background photos/illustrations showcase each Diorama's particular theme.


First up is Hitchin' a Ride that showcases two Indianapolis Yellow Cab vehicles, one yellow with illuminated roof sign and one more subtle silver. Both are late model cars (Ford Crown Victorias). The yellow cab features small silver hubcaps while the silver model sports large hubcaps. Each is a four-door with full exterior and interior details. Check out the grills and body details-sweet. Hey taxi!


The Country Road Diorama showcases a family of three enjoying the great outdoors with their bright red 1969 Chevy C-10 camper with white capper and a handy red power generator to bring all the comforts of home to outdoor camping. A park ranger is also incuded.


A Shelby Terlingua Ford Mustang and a Roy Woods Racing AMC Javelin AMX speed along the raceway in Greenlight's Road Racers Diorama. The yellow and black Mustang looks to be gaining on the red, white and blue Javelin as the both prepare to swing into a curve. You can practically smell the rubber and exhaust fumes. These babies are ready to race and rumble if the roll bars and pimped out engines are any indication. Zooom!


The driver of the sleek blue street ready 1988 Pontiac Trans Am didn't count on the cop pulling him over in the Hot Pursuit Diorama. The black and tan 1990 Ford Mustang Florida High Patrol cruiser officer looks none too pleased as he writes a ticket (a very expensive ticket) for the driver. I especially like the detail on the cop's car with its blue rood lights number decals.
All of the Diorama vehicles feature opening hoods, detailed engines, real rubber tires, metal body and chassis, detailed graphics and custom licenses.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Alien Anthology

For the first time all four movies in the original Alien series is being released in the new Alien Anthology 6-disc Blu-ray collection. 20th Century Fox celebrates the ground-breaking movies that proved that, "In space, no one can hear your scream."


These are the movies that proved a woman could be a strong action hero star as so aptly performed by Sigourney Weaver in the title role of Ellen Ripley. You'll watch her transform from a helpless frightened female to a powerful force that even death could not stop.


In Alien the crew of the Nostromo discover a downed alien spacecraft containing Alien eggs. The eggs hatch and terror runs loose.


In Aliens, Space Marines, accompanied by Ripley, visit the planet where the Alien spaceship crashed after a colony of people loose contact with the government.


In Aliens 3, Ripley finds herself on a penal colony populated by men and Aliens and in Alien: Resurrection, Ripley is back. Only this time she's hybrid clone made from the original Ripley and an Alien Queen. Ewww!


Four discs contain one movie each along with special features like commentaries, deleted and expanded scenes, theatrical trailers and so one. The final two discs include Blu-ray exclusives such as how each movie was made, pre-production, production, post production, special effects, music scores and much, MUCH, more.


In total, over 50 HOURS of bonus material is included in the Alien Anthology Blue-ray collection. On Blu-ray everyone can hear you scream.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

DJ Hero 2

Get ready to dance! Activison’s new DJ Hero 2, for all game consoles, brings the dance floor to your home with its DJ versus DJ gunplay featuring some of the top performers of all time. Lady Gaga, Deadmau5, and Dr. Dre are just a few of the big names who contribute the wall-shacking, get-down-and-dirty, dance-until-you-can’t-dance-any-more soundtracks.


Twin turntables let players mix, match and do Freestyle scratching while the microphone lets any vocalist sing along to the lyrics.


Look for six new multiplayer modes including Party Play and DJ Battle brings out the competitor in players with call-and-response game play.


New players can start out in Empire Mode and after building their experience as a DJ they can eventually become the head of a nightclub empire with other DJs as their employees.


DJ Hero 2 players can match their skill against other players on and offline and keep a track of each competitor’s game level.


New features for DJ Hero 2 include Held Notes, Length Scratches, Freestyle Scratching, Freestyle Crossfading, Freestyle Sampling and Star Meter.


Regardless if you’re a DJ, singer or just want to dance along to the beat, DJ Hero 2 delivers on all levels.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bryan Hitch’s Ultimate Comics Studio

One of my all-time favorite artists, who has made quite a name for himself, especially over the last ten years, is British artist Bryan Hitch. I first remember seeing Bryan’s art over 20 years ago in some of Marvel’s British comic book titles. At the time his style reminded my of Alan Davis’ work. Bryan’s art style would continue to grow and mutate, often emulating the very latest art trend, until his own unique style was established.


To American comic book fans that would be his Wildstorm work on The Authority progressing to DC Comics’ JLA and finally to Marvel’s The Ultimates and The Fantastic Four.


What distinguishes Bryan’s work from other artists is his fanatical attention to detail and talent for drawing panoramic crowd and fight scenes. Not since Neal Adams younger days has a comic book artist captured the sheer human emotion and body language and broad sweeping scope in comic books.


In Bryan’s new book, Bryan Hitch’s Ultimate Comics Studio, published by Impact Books with a foreword by Joss Whedon, the writer/artist shares some of his comic book creation secrets.


This is not a step-by-step instruction manual on how to draw comic books as Bryan is quick to point out. Rather it is an examination as to how Bryan creates characters, page layouts, his prep work and finished product, including inking and coloring.


He places high emphasis on accuracy, proper research, careful and meticulous rendering and page layout and especially the importance of being totally professional especially when it comes to meeting deadlines.

The book comes packed with Bryan’s illustrations and includes to-the-point written explanations, suggestions and observations. Besides being a beautiful book to look it is also a powerful reference tool to use when, and if, you decide to create your own comic book art.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Nakajima And Spitfire

I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon lately. More and more Hasegawa Hobby Kits are beginning to show up in hobby shops and stores lately. So I did a little research as to the reasons and I came up with two interesting conclusions. First, the quality of Hasegawa models is first-rate and the accuracy of its historical aircraft and other models is very precise-two
things modelers love.


Hasegawa models are for the model making veteran. They require skill in assemble, painting and decal application. These are models for the ‘serious’ model maker.


Recently Hasegawa released three Limited Edition WWII vintage aircraft models: one Japanese, one German and one Britain.


The Nakajima Ki27 TYPE 97 FIGHTER (NATE) ‘64th Flight Regiment’ aircraft, with figure, is a superb example of Hasegawa’s talent for making period precise aircraft models. The model consists of 50 pieces (give or take) and each piece is clean and precise in its details.


Very little flashing is present and that which is easily shaved away. Pieces fit together easily when gluing with no rough edges or mis-fitting and the detailed instructions make paint and decal application easy to do.


The plane comes with stationary landing gear and a small standing Japanese pilot, to scale, placed by the model gives it a real feel of autenticity.


The display box boasts a full color painting of the plane with pilot and its sturdy construction guarantees the model parts will not be damaged before assemble.


The Spitfire Mk. I and Messerschmitt Bf109E model kit contains two aircraft from the famous WWII Battle Of Britain. Like the Nakajima model both models are easily assembled, painted and decaled using the enclosed extremely comprehensive instructions.


Both models boast full fuselage, cockpit, wing and undercarriage details including single wire antennas, rear wheels, armory and engine with propeller.


Once assembled, the models appear to be miniature counterparts of their larger cousins. You can almost hear the artillery firing and the powerful hum of the engines as they prepare for air to air combat. The aircraft are slightly smaller in scale to the Nakajima, but just as impressive in their details, minimal flashing and ease of assemble.

Sergio Aragones

In my opinion one the most unappreciated cartoonists of our time is Sergio Aragones. Sergio has been drawing comic strips and single panel gags for over 50 years and his enthusiasm, creativity and love of laughter has never waned. If anything his talent keeps getting stronger and his output more prolific.

Sergio came to this country over 50 years ago and immediately found work drawing cartoon strips. MAD magazine’s editorial staff recognized his talent and he has continued to draw full strips, features and his famous ‘border strips’ for MAD since then.


In MAD’s Greatest Artists Sergio Aragones: Five Decades Of His Finest Woks, readers get to witness the evolution of an artist and his impressive collection of work-a fraction of which is present in this Running Press hardbound collection.

Discover for yourself the sheer genius of Sergio as he demonstrates his uncanny ability to create cartoon gags with little or no words. You’ll be amazed at the huge crowd scenes he draws with each individual character finely defined and taking part in their own humorous situation.

The book contains an impressive library of work both in black and white and color. I strongly urge you to pick up this book not only for its art but the hours of hilarity and laughter it will provide as you look over each and every drawing.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Draw Comic Book Action


There are a lot of good books about how to draw comic books. But, they tend to be in one of two categories. Either they are too simplified and don't proceed much past the stick figure stage. Or, they are so technical as to include every aspect of publishing a comic book right down to printing press descriptions and color selection.


Draw Comic Book Action from Lee Garbett, and published by Impact Books, strikes a nice medium in its approach. The author, a comic book artist himself, goes into enough detail to make a novice feel comfortable about trying his advice.


Through simple illustrations, starting with stick figures and finishing with full inks, he demonstrates in easy-to-follow steps how to draw characters and set up page layouts to convey action.


There's plenty of advice on how to draw crowd scenes, lighting, action sequences, environments, perspective, character design, inking, coloring and even how to set up your studio so it best fits your personal needs.


This is an excellent guide on how to draw comic books-action and all.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Predators

When nine criminals, killers, mercenaries, perverts and all around tough guys (and woman) find themselves inexplicably parachuting toward a thick jungle, chaos ensues.


One dies on impact when their parachute doesn't open and the others, fully armed with weapons of their choice, face off against each other.


Eventually everyone calms down and agree to work together to find out where they are, why they're there and how they can escape.


What they discover is that they are on an alien planet complete with spacecraft, crazy human survivor, killer tracking 'dogs' and a trio of Predators on their tail. It seems they were dropped on the planet to provide hunting sport for the aliens. Too bad the Predators didn't count on them fighting back.


Predators take the Predators franchise to an alien world where the humans and Predators discover just who the real 'monsters' are. Predators is a non-stop, violent and never-catch-your-breath sci-fi adventure that does the Predators franchise proud from 20th Century Fox.


DVD extras include featurettes and commentaries.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fists, Die, Rare, Native And Birth

Mill Creek Entertainment recently released a large selection of DVD collections. Here’s a review of five of the titles that history, Western, Martial Arts and Cult Cinema lovers are sure to want.

Twelve films make up Mill Creek’s Rare Cult Cinema collection of films.  You’ll get a kick out of watching such notable performers as William Shatner, Johnny Cash, Matt Dillon, Adam West and many other now famous actors, actresses and performers starring in drive-in thrillers from Crown International Pictures. It’s pure kitsch as Crown dishes out horror, mystery, thriller, family, romance and other ‘B’ movie classics.


It’s all Clint Eastwood’s fault that Spaghetti Westerns became so popular-so popular in fact that a plethora of films starring many American and International stars flooded movie theaters.


It’s Wild West action served up like an plate of steaming pasta with plenty of sassy sauce, explosive ingredients and enough bravado and macho meatballs to squelch any Western film fanatics hunger.


Clocking in at over 23 hours worth of films, Fists Of Vengeance packs in plenty of punches, kicks and martial art action to make your head swim. Sixteen Kung Fu, Karate and various martial arts films make up the selection starring such notables as Bruce Lee, Bolo Young and nearly a dozen other martial art star wannabes.


If you like action Asian style then get ready to get your fill of pummeling, throwing, fast-as-lightning fisticuffs and martial art mayhem all served up in heavy doses.


Learn all about the American Indian’s plight during and after the great Indian Wars and migrations. Hear first-hand accounts from Native Americans and other historical figures about what really happened. Documentaries, art, documents and various historical artifacts and recollections reveal the truth behind one of the greatest American tragedies of all time.


Discover  how an entire society of people were mistreated, lied to, manipulated and ultimately forced to assimilate into their oppressor’s culture. Native America: Voices From The Land is a real eye-opener and brings to light the true history of the Native Americans.


In Birth Of Flight Mill Creek Entertainment chronicles the long and often bumpy road to modern commercial aviation. This engrossing and fascinating 7-hour documentary looks back to the dawn of aviation and follows the many highs and lows of the industry.


Witness the birth of powered flight, its slow upward climb to commercial success and learn about the heroic men and woman who brought commercial air travel to the point it is today.

Tomica Hypercity

One of the biggest toy phenomenons to hit Japan in the last few years is Tomy Tomica Plarail Hypercity. The Plarail is a miniature toy train system designed for kids 4 years and older (and adult fans) that consist of dozens of trains and now interlocking playsets that continue to expand the world of Plarail.

Hypercity adds to the fun with two new Plarail playsets and train. All are packed with detail and extras and make playing trains a whole new experience. Tomica Plarail Hypercity has just hit the United States and if the quality, durability and incredible details mean anything then these new toys are sure to be a big hit in the U.S.A. and rightly so.
The Tomica Repair Garage is a huge playset that consists of a Die-Cast Mazda MPV, three small articulated figures (2 customers, 1 station attendant), the shop building with transparent sliding doors that actually work, a garage with working ramp, sidewalk and road sections, trees, street lights, signs, flags, planters and guard rails.


Road and walk sections snap together and all of the accessories attach securely to the assembled base. All of the pieces consist of pre-colored molded plastic and a small sheet of sign stickers is also included.


Pieces easily fit together and can be taken apart and stored in the attraction display box. The interior compartment is compartmentalized making it easy to store the various pieces.


The playset is a snap to put together, is packed with little details such as the interior station wall details and when combined with other playsets can make an entire city.


The Mini Gas Pump Set is a small corner section comprised of a Die-Cast Toyota Harrier, one gas attendant figure, a gas pump with base, several pavement sections, a street lamp, a traffic sign, a guard rail and a tree.


Check out the pump’s front and back decal details and removable pump handle. What makes this playset so enjoyable is that unlike many similar toys this playset provides all a child needs to complete the set and yet can be attached to other Hypercity playsets.


What would a city be without a train and one of the coolest Hypercity trains is the Fire Liner. This red beauty has an engine and two cars. The engine can transform into telescoping dual compartment rescue vehicles with opening canopies.


The motorized middle has a roof that opens with flashing lights and the rear car sports twin rescue ladders that pivot and turn with a hinged rescue pod that raises and lowers. A small firefighter figure is also included.


The engine and two cars snap together and are powered by the second car’s engine. Additional cars may be added.


Each of the Hypercity’s playsets and trains are ruggedly constructed, have lots of details with clean crisp paint and decal application (no slopovers or messy edges) and make for hours of playing time pleasure.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Superior #1

In issue #1 of Marvel Comics' ICON/Millarworld Superior title by Mark Millar and Leinel Yu you'll discover how wishes do come true.

Wheelchair bound Simon used to have a life, until he contracted Multiple Sclerosis. He was a high school star basketball player and all-around athlete. Now it hurts to move, sometimes he can barely speak and his conditioning is worsening.

The only bright spots in his life are his Mom and is best friend Chris who stood by him at every turn. Together they like to go to the movies-mostly monster and superhero flicks. One of their favorite film series stars the superhero Superior.


One night Simon is jolted awake by a spacesuit clad talking monkey. Needless to say he is shocked. He's even more shocked when he discovers he's millions of miles from Earth.


Turns out he was chosen to receive a very special gift: a Magic Wish. Suddenly Simon is transformed into a real version of Superior and instantly finds himself back in his own room. At least it seems like instantly. In fact, he's been gone a whole day.


His mother is in a panic, so much so that's she's called in the cops. In particular a cop who hears something in Simon's room. He investigates and Simon flies through the roof-literally.


He shows up at Chris's apartment looking for help-now the fun begins. Superior is a modern fairytale where wishes come true. But, you know the old saying, "Be careful what you wish for." I for one, wish this series the very best and I intend to stick around to see what happens.

Trek, Visions, Avatar, Horror And Robinson

Long before there were Trekkies or Trekkers I was a fan of the original Star Trek TV show shown on NBC TV. Every Thursday night, then Friday night, I glued myself to the TV to watch the latest starship Enterprise adventure with Captain Kirk, Doctor McCoy , Mr. Spock, Scotty, Sulu, Chekov, Uhura and the rest of the crew. Each week I was guaranteed shows situated on other exotic planets with strange aliens and lots of social commentary. I still prefer the original show to all of its offspring.


That’s why I am so thrilled about Abrams Books new Star Trek The Original Series 365 written by Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdman with a foreword by longtime Star Trek writer D.C. Fontana.


Packed with never-seen-before photos, special commissioned photographs and pages filled with episodic anecdotes, production secrets and comments by the cast and crew this 365 day celebration of Star Trek The Original Series is almost exciting as watching the original series for the first time.


For another type of ‘Star’ movie, check out Abrams Star Wars Visions with foreword by none other than Star Wars creator George Lucas with an introduction provided by J.W. Rinzler.


This unique take on Star Wars showcases some of today’s top illustrators and painters with works based on a Star Wars theme. Pages showcase various scenes from the films, character interpretations, alien world vistas and key moments and events as seen in the films. Each painting or illustration is totally unique and original- much like the Star Wars films themselves. Artist bios are included in the back of the book.


Like director/writer George Lucas, author/director James Cameron has revolutionized the movie industry and the way movies, especially special effects, are made. Cameron has been responsible for such blockbuster films as T1, T2, Titanic and most recently Avatar.


With Avatar Cameron broke new cinematic ground. For the first time full-motion capture was used to its fullest intent with actors and actors performing on bare stages with only green and blue screen backgrounds, with minimal physical props and clad in motion sensor leotards and tracking dots painted on their faces and bodies.


Cameron was able to place the actors in scenes via computer technology and orchestrate scenes using a revolutionary mobile camera tracker to stage scenes. The results were stunning. Fully computer created characters, creatures and environments looked amazingly real and in digital 3D all literally popped off the screen.


In The Making Of Avatar, Jody Duncan and Lisa Fitzpatrick follow Cameron and his case and crew as they create the world of Avatar, redefine movie-making, test new machinery and computer software and set up and film what would become the highest grossing film of all time.


Full color photos chronicle Cameron’s quest to make the ultimate visual experience using today’s cutting-edge technology. Look behind-the-scenes, read cast and crew comments and observations and emerge yourself into movie-making history from Abram Books.


Back in the early to mid-1950s comic books came under fire. Doctor Fredrick Wertham postulated that comic books were the bane of modern American society and should be outlawed. He drew this conclusion from the fact that juvenile offenders tended to read comic books- thus, comic books created juvenile delinquency and eventually hardened criminals. He completely discounted the fact that most law breakers tended to be almost illiterate and comic books offered a simple, easy-to-understand reading venue.


But, comic book publishers didn’t help their own defense considering at the time what was being published. Many publishers, especially EC Comics, pushed the boundaries of good taste, appropriate content and acceptable norms. Comic books were filled with horrific tales of murder, mayhem, dismemberment, witchcraft, devil worship, human suffering and mutilation. Is it any wonder that during the time of the Communist witch hunt that paranoia leaked over to comic books?


In Abram ComicArt's new The Horror, The Horror compiled by Jim Trombetta, readers are treated to reprinted comic book stories that were considered too violent and gross by the U.S. Government at the time they were originally published.


Besides the reprinted tales the book also showcases various cover art, commentaries by many of the surviving artists and writers and the various genres broken down by type.


A DVD containing the original 1955 30-minute TV special ‘Confidential File’ lamenting the evils of comic books is also included.


Another Abrams ComicArt title, Jerry Robinson Ambassador Of Comics by N.C. Christopher Couch, follows the career of one of the most influential writer, creators in the comic book filed.


Jerry Robinson started his career as an artist in the early Golden age and soon came to prominence as the artist on Batman under batman’s creator Bob Kane’s direction. Jerry’s style exuded action and adventure. His illustrations boasted dynamic layouts, the clever use of perspective and character designs and clean crisp inks.


Robinson’s career would carry him through the Silver, Bronze and Modern Ages of comic books and eventually into book and magazine illustration, movie work and finally as the premiere ambassador to world about comic books.


His range of artwork is second to none and his style constantly evolves. His talent includes illustration, painting, collage and a myriad of other techniques and media. Few artists can compare to his talent for cartooning, realistic portraiture, impressive advertising work and prodigious output.


For an eye-opening journey into one artist’s work and life be sure to pick up a copy of Jerry Robinson Ambassador Of Comics.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

You're Making That Face Again

Having raised a teenage boy and girl I can really appreciate and identify with the humor of Jerry Scott's and Jim Borgman's Zits comic strip.


In Andrews McMeel Publishing's 13th Zits Sketchbook you'll discover how hard it is to wake a teenager, what young love...lust, is all about, encountering teenagers in their natural habitat, guy and girl communication and dozens of other teenage phenomenon and oddities.




Zits hits the nail on the head when it comes to portraying the generation gap with all its humor, miscommunication and frustration on both parents and teenagers parts.

Fangoria #298, November

Gene Simmons of KISS lends his likeness to a cool Fangoria cover and fold-out poster in this issue. Monster Invasion includes HISSS, Grimm Love and Zombie Girl: The Movie, follow the Psycho Path, get in your whacks with Hatchet, look for The Soul Of Horror, Elvira returns and read Notes From The Underground.


Fangoria visits the Pit And The Pendulum, watch out for the Amerpsycho, don't stumble into the Trash Compactor, Barbara Sheeley offers Fangs For The Memories, avoid The Bloody Road To Hell Driver and Vampire Girl faces off against Frankenstein Girl. Walk with Monsters, check out some books in the Nightmare Library and prepare yourself for Sound Shock.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Superman/Batman Apocalypse

Adapted from a story first seen in print in the Superman/Batman DC Comics comic book title, Superman/Batman Apocalypse introduces to the world the new Supergirl.

When a meteor plunges into Gotham Harbor Batman investigates. What he discovers is an empty alien spacecraft. While he investigates, the ship’s occupant, a young blond haired girl, boards his Batboat and accidentally triggers the boat's accelerator.


As the boat speeds away Batman manages to grapple it and hang on. The boat crashes into a nearby pier, explodes and the naked young girl escapes without a scratch.


Later she comes upon some dockworkers, incapacities them when they make advances and soon finds herself being chased by police. She destroys their squad car with her heat vision and clumsily flies away straight to a waiting Batman who uses a piece of Kryptonite to knock her unconscious.


In the Batcave Batman scans the powerful young girl who then awakes and is subdued by the visiting Superman. He discovers the girl is Kyptonian and his cousin. Superman trusts her, Batman does not.


As the young girl, Kara, acclimates herself to her powers and new world she and Superman, disguised as Clark Kent, are attacked, not by enemies but by Wonder Woman and Batman. They convince Superman to let Wonder Woman train Kara on Paradise Island having proved that she has no control over her powers and presents a danger to herself and others.


Several months later, newly trained, Kara is kidnapped by Darkseid’s minions in all-out attack on the Amazons. Darkseid hopes to make Kara his new Female Furys leader; his elite strike force.


Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Big Barda band together to rescue Kara. Reluctantly Darkseid releases her, after much mayhem, when Batman activates Darkseid’s ultimate weapons and promises to deactivate them if the girl is released.


Darkseid promises not to mingle in Kara’s life but he did not agree to leave Superman alone as both Superman and Kara discover when Superman takes Kara to live with his parents in Smallville. Talk about an epic fight!


Superman/Batman Apocalypse is cosmos spanning slugfest with plenty of action intermingled with excellent character development and an outstanding voice cast. The Warner Bros. Animation direct-to-DVD Blu-ray set consist of a Blu-ray disc, a regular DVD disc coupled with a Digital Copy.


Extras include a solo Green Arrow short with guest stars Black Canary and Count Vertigo, among others and featurettes about Darkseid, Supergirl, The New Gods, sneak peeks, and more.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Nekropolis

Meet former cop and current private investigator Matt Richter. He’s been in law enforcement and investigative work for years. Just how many years? Long enough to die and come back as zombie-a freewill zombie.

Matt is just one of Nekropolis’s citizens-that nether world situated in an alternate universe where the living dead, monsters, ghoulies and other creepy crawlies live.

A horrific mirror image of a typical city-if you call typical a city having living cabs, buildings that breath and look bigger on the inside than the outside and controlled by a governance board of vampires.


In Nekropolis the impossible is possible and since the city is populated by demons and other nasties, the crime rate is rampant. Enter Matt Richter. He manages to eke out a living and has cemented quite a reputation for himself as a hardnosed, tough-as-nails P.I. who always managed to get the job done.


His reputation recently brought him to the attention of the ruling vampire’s half-breed daughter who is in charge of his extensive collection of artifacts. One of those artifacts, the Dawnstone, has been stolen. The daughter, Devona, is desperate to get it back without letting her father know its missing. It seems he has a nasty disposition-one you do not want to cross.


Together Devona and Matt search the city until they come up with a clue as to what power the Dawnstone has. Evidently it is a piece of the sun and if it is used in Nekropolis any vampire will perish. It’s up to Matt to find it before it can be used during the annual time of renewal when the Darklords pool their power to keep the city alive. At that time they are at their weakest and susceptible to the stone’s power.


Author Tim Waggoner has created a totally unique character-a zombie P.I. with a heart of gold and a knack for taking on the moist improbable of assignments. Laced with dark humor and tense moments intertwined with some of the most original characters and locations ever imaged, Nekropolis, published by Angry Robot, is to die for.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Previews, October

Look for some really awesome new merchandise coming out this December (…Christmas gifts…hint…hint) and the Diamond Previews Catalog for October has all the product information you need to make your selections.

New comic book titles to look for include Let Me In, Conan: The Road Of Kings, John Byrne’s Next Men, Marineman, Green Lantern: Larfleeze Christmas Special, Heroes For Hire, Mighty Samson, Teen Titans: Cold Case, DC Comics Presents, Proof: Endangered, Wolverine: Best There Is, Archie & Friends Double Digest, Lady Mechanika, Starborn, Lady Death, Bring The Thunder and Bodysnatchers.


Magazines and Books to read are Alter Ego, The Art Of District 9, Fangoria and Elric.


Rittenhouse Archives has Legends Of Marvel Series 2 Trading Cards and Star Trek Remastered Original Series.


Play with some cool new toys such as Angelus, Wolverine, Gambit, Cousin Eerie, Blackest Night, Ghostbusters, Futurama, Star Trek, Star Wars, G.I. Joe, Transformers, Robot Chicken, Betty Page, Spider-Man, Pirates Of The Caribbean, Green Hornet, Twilight, Predator, Gremlins, Harry Potter, The Muppets, Alice In Wonderland, Smurfs, King Arthur, Conan, SWAT, Doctor Who and many more.


Game on with Hack/Slash, Resident Evil, Smallville and Conquest Of Planet Earth.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Stargate SG-U Universe 1.0

I’m a big Stargate fan. I enjoyed the movie, loved Stargate SG-1, liked Stargate Atlantis and I’m intrigued by Stargate SG-U.


Although the Stargate is present in Stargate SG-U it’s the situation the people in the series finds themselves in that really draws viewers in.


After over a decade Stargate Command has discovered that by dialing an eight symbol on the Stargate that other galaxies can be visited. When a mysterious ninth symbol is discovered in some Ancient’s writings a special investigative and exploratory team is sent to an alien outpost in order to test a Stargate that taps into the planet’s inner core.


As the experiment starts to take place the base is attacked and the military personnel along with scientists and civilians, including a senator and his daughter and a young computer/math geek, are forced to exit the newly activate ninth symbol gate.


Where they wind up is on an Ancient spaceship over a billion light years from Earth. Completely unmanned, the spaceship is in need of repair and restocking of its supplies. Their arrival on the ship was sudden and violent so many of the new passengers are hurt and need medical attention.


Couple that with the fact that water and food are in scarce supply, the ship’s air scrubbers are malfunctioning and the ship’s power supply is dangerously low it also appears that the gate they arrived on may not be able to get anyone back home.


Stargate SG-U is unique in the Stargate series in that its personnel are not all experts and a high level of tension runs through the group.


Thankfully whenever the ship comes close to a planet with a Stargate it slows down and allows the crew and passengers to explore the new world for a maximum of 12 hours.


I find the series fascinating in that I never know what to expect either from the various situations or the passengers. There’s plenty of interpersonal tension, hidden agendas and human conflict. Stargate SG-U looks to be a great addition to MGM’s Stargate franchise. The first half of the first season can be purchased on DVD in a 3-disc set that includes 10 episodes along with lots of cool extras.

Fantasy & Science Fiction #691, September/October

Celebrate 61 years of publication of The Magazine Of Science Fiction & Fantasy with a very special All-Star Anniversary Issue.

Enjoy Eating At The End-Of-The-World-Café with author Dale Bailey, Take The Door In The Earth with Alexandra Duncan, discover who The Literomancer is courtesy of Len Liu and visit your Uncle Moon In Raintree Hills with Fred Chappell.


Look through The Window Of Time, discover How Seosiris Lost The Favor Of The King and watch out for that Blind Spot. Steadfast Castle is an unusual scenic location, David Gerrold answers the SF&F Mailbag contents, learn all About It with Terry Bisson and Charles de Lint and Chris Moriarty recommend some Books, while Kathi Maio reviews movies, look for Coming Attraction and F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre examines some Curiosities.

Friday, October 1, 2010

John Lennon

Considered to be one of the most influential songwriters and performers of the later part of the 20th Century, John Lennon's life was cut short by a deranged gunman in 1980. He was only 40 years old.


He leaves behind a legacy of music, first as a member of the phenomenal Beatles rock band and later as a single artist.


In author John M. Borack's new book, John Lennon: Life Is What Happens, published by Krause Publications, John's life is examined beginning from his early days in Liverpool, England.


The book chronicles his life and contains full color and black and white photos along with information on the Beatles phenomenon, memorabilia, concerts, public appearances and other Beatles and Lennon happenings. It makes for a intriguing and fascinating look at the man, the musician and the legend.