Friday, December 30, 2011

Wrecker, GT, Del Ray, GTO And Camaro

Three new Revell Level 2 Skill, 1:25 Scale, one Revell SnapTite, 1:25 Scale and one Monogram Level 2, 1:24 Scale vehicles have just been released for January. 

All feature perfect, to-scale parts that detach easily from part trees, easy-to-follow paint, assembly and decal instructions (except the SnapTite that requires not paint or glue) and lots of awesome interior and exterior details.

First up from the Revell Truck line comes a '77 GMC Wrecker Truck with a working crane and flatbed, accessible engine, oversize tires on chrome wheels, a full-front bumper that covers the grill and comes complete with chrome window and door details, oversize mirrors, chrome bedliner and roof-mounted chrome horns.  It's time for some serious hauling, especially in this deep-blue, decal-decorated Wrecker Truck!

The SnapTite 2010 Ford Mustang GT Convertible is a gold pony car that packs plenty of horsepower under its hood.  It sleek, four-passenger design beckons back to the classic days of the Mustang.  Check out its solid black interior, chrome wheels, small rear airfoil, solid, wide black stripes centered on its hood and truck, side black stripes with mustang font, oversize rear lights and classic Mustang grill and bumpers.

The fire red '56 Chevy Del Ray is a chromed out California Wheels classic with side flame decals, side chrome accents, hood ornament, chrome trim windows, oversize chrome wheels, heavy chrome bumpers and two doors.  Carrying capacity is five people, the engine is chrome plated and can be painted to match either a red or yellow paint scheme.

Monogram's Classic Cruiser '64 Pontiac GTO 2 'n 1 is a candy-apple red classic that can be modified to show off its dual chrome hood intakes, custom chrome wheels, full side body decals and jacked up frame.  Or choose the factory issue version without all the bells and whistles. 

Either way you have a muscle car that's rarin' to flex its impressive muscles.  It's two-door, five passenger, black interior, accessible engine and telltale GTO body style makes this car a wanna-have classic for any car collector.

Revell's Motor-City Muscle '69 Camaro SS/RS Convertible 2 'n 1 is all style with its white with black stripes exterior, solid white with gray interior, chrome grill, bumpers and wheels, custom 396 V-8 that barely fits into its engine compartment and sweet black accented dash with on-the-floor shifting and bucket seats.  Now that's my kind of car!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Fantasy & Science Fiction #699, January/February

The Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine for January/February 2012 (celebrating 63 years of publication) includes the following stories and articles sci-fi and fantasy readers are sure to love.  They include:

Small Towns, The Secret Of The City Of Gold, Umbrella Men, Mindbender, The Color Least Used By Nature, The Comfort Of Strangers, Maxwell's Demon, Scrap Dragon, In The Trenches, Canto MCML, Books To Look For, Books, Coming Attractions, Plumage From Pegasus: Judge, Jury, And Executioner, Films: It's A Small (Sick) World, Science: Amazing Science Stories and Curiosities.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Obsessed With Star Trek

Back in 1966, at the tender age of 13, I watched the very first episode (The Mantrap) broadcast of a new science fiction TV show called Star Trek. At first I wasn't sure how to take the program.  I can remember thinking that the starship Enterprise didn't 'look' like a spaceship.  After all, everyone knew that spaceships seen on TV or in movies were always of the rocket or saucer type.

Up until that point Lost In Space was my favorite sci-fi show.  I was a bit reluctant to make the switch over to 'adult' science fiction television.  I was a little set in my ways-hesitant of trying anything new.

I enjoyed The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits.  However, they weren't strictly sci-fi.

After watching a handful of episodes, I was hooked on Star Trek.  The Star Trek cast became like a second family to me and Captain Kirk was my cool father figure.  I lived and breathed Star Trek for three solid years.  I even wrote away to NBC, which aired the show, and obtained a press pack about the show from them.  I wish I still had it.  I collected everything Trek (which was no small feat), including magazine articles, comic books, toys, games, trading cards, models and other bric-a-brac.

I was devastated when the show ended in 1969 after only three short seasons.  I continued to watch the show in repeats for the next ten years.  And then suddenly Star Trek was back but on the big screen and then with four new TV shows in succession.  Enterprise ended in the mid-2000s. 

A new cast was brought back in the new Star Trek movie starring the original classic series characters albeit with different actors in the roles.  Star Trek was back big time and I couldn't have been happier.

Obsessed With Star Trek from Chronicle Books will test your knowledge of the Star Trek Universe with a series of 2,500 questions culled from the TV series and movies.  A cleverly designed electronic scoring module randomly picks a question number.  By selecting one of four buttons you choose the right or wrong answer. 

Interlaced with the questions are interesting info bits and little known facts about the Star Trek series, movies, actors and production.  Made to be used by one or two players, Obsessed With Star Trek is a 'must have' for any true Star Trek fan.  Discover if you are a 'Trekker" or 'Trekkie."

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Cowboys & Aliens

After a series of lackluster, box office flops at the movies, actor Harrison Ford scores a winner with last summer's Cowboy& Aliens, directed by Jon Favreau (Ironman).  Ford played a crusty old, bad guy rancher along with amnesiac, cowboy, drifter Daniel Craig (James Bond) who team up against the people-kidnapping, gold-hungry aliens.

Along the way they're joined by a mysterious woman who knows all about the aliens, Indians and townspeople who intend to stop the aliens and save their abducted loved ones.

Insight Editions presents The Illustrated Screenplay for Cowboys & Aliens containing storyboards, production art and loads of color photos from the film.  Cowboys? Aliens?  What's not to love?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Rosario + Vampire, CAPU2 And Heaven's Lost Property

I admit that I don't understand everything that there is to know about anime.  There's a lot symbolism, innuendo and emotional content for sure. 

What I really focus in on with any well-done anime, and Funimation has plenty, is that quality comes first.  Let me clarify.

I look for a well-crafted story, clean, crisp, well-rendered backgrounds and characters, full-developed characters and, most important of all, a sense of uniqueness with the occasional surprise.

Funimation's newest releases have all those qualities including cleverly integrated traditional and computer animation, sexuality without overdoing sensuality and physical and subtle humor.

Rosario + Vampire begins innocently enough when student Tsukune's grades land him in a very unusual school-one made exclusively for monsters, called Yokai Academy.  Problem is none of his fellow students realize he's human.  If they did he would be so much meat.

Fortunately for him his scent attracts the attention of the stunning vampire Moka.  Unfortunately she doesn't like sharing her boy toy and when anyone, or anything, gets a little too close, her true nature emerges.  Talk about being two-faced!

If Tsukune wasn't such a push-over for a supernatural chick he wouldn't get in so much trouble.

In Rosario + Vampire CAPU2, Tsukune, Moka and the rest of the students return to Yokai Academy the following year.

Tsukune has become extremely popular with the monster crowd, so popular in fact that Moka's sassy and sadistic little sister takes a shine to him.  Only big sister wants no part of it.

Little Sis and Tsukune better watch out.  Moka has a dark side that is best left alone as they and the students of Yokai Academy find out-the hard way!

Heaven's Lost Property brings a new meaning to 'girl crazy.' Tomoki has a thing for girls. So much so that he embarasses his sister continually.

When a gorgeous, winged, Angeloid: Ikaros, falls to Earth and considers him her master Tomoki suddenly realizes she can give him whatever he wants-and I do mean whatever!

One big problem though-Tomoki has no idea where she comes from or why she's on Earth.  Sometimes it's best not to search for answers.  In this case the answers might just get Tomoki injured or worse!

All three of the new anime series from Funimation are visual treats, with plenty of off-the-wall humor, more than their fair share of innuendo and some outstanding animation.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The New 52

When DC Comics announced that it would be re-launching and revamping all of its titles a few months ago, starting with #1s, I was skeptical. In order to breath new life into their characters and reintroduce them to a new generation of comic book buyers the head honchos at DC came up with the idea of basically starting the DC Universe all over again.
I had a problem with that. I liked the old DC Universe, even with all of its inconsistencies. I wasn't sure old-timers, like myself, would adjust to a 'new' DC Comics. DC was taking a big risk.

Well, the risk paid off. I love the new DC Universe. I purchase a lion's share of its new titles-some of which I never would have considered buying in the old DC Universe.

My favorites are the Batman, Superman and Green Lantern titles, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Animal Man, Swamp Thing, Deadman and the Justice League titles.

I congratulate the folks at DC Comics for taking such a big gamble. It very well could have turned out as a disaster. The majority of my comic book purchases are DC Comics with a smattering of Marvel, IDW and few independent comic book publisher titles.

I hope DC Comics can keep up the high quality of stories and art in their new titles. I plan on sticking around for a long, long time.

Kudos DC!

Monday, December 19, 2011

d'artiste: Fashion Design

OK, I admit it, I'm jealous.  Why?  That's easy to answer. I'm jealous because the artists in Ballistic Publishing's tenth title in its d'artiste series: Fashion Design, Digital Artists Master Class - make designing clothes and fashions look so easy.

It's not, at least for me.  I have great respect (and a little envy) for these artists who have mastered the human figure to the point that draping it in clothes seems like second nature.  Let me tell you, clothing a human figure is a lot harder than just drawing it naked or in tights. 

It's difficult enough drawing figures and clothing them freehand-now try doing it on computer!  That's exactly what Alessia Zambonin, Annie Stegg and Lois van Baarle do. 

Even more impressive than that is that they all provide tutorials on how to do it.  Readers will learn how to not only draw figures using computer software, but how to dress them, create hairstyles, design fabric, select the proper settings, choose color schemes, pose characters, set modes and so much more.

You'll learn about color theory, folds and texture in various fabrics, how clothing hangs and drapes over the body, how to start with sketches and progress to finished illustrations, the intricacies of painting software (including layering), artist collaboration, program cross-platforming and how to develop your own unique style and vision.

This is far more than a book about Fashion Design.  It is a compilation of artist insights, tips, tricks, techniques and valuable advice on how to become a better artist, designer and professional.

Yes, I'm jealous, but I'm also extremely grateful that these artists are willing to share their knowledge about Fashion Design. I plan on using what I've learned and applying it to my own illustrations and designs.

Fashion Design is a beautifully softbound book printed on coated stock and protected in a hardbound slipcover with matching cover illustration.

Halo, Struzman And Crime

Titan Books has just released a trio of book the lovers of popular art are sure to appreciate.  From video games to comic books the three books cover the gambit of art made popular and loved by the man on the street.

The video game Halo has struck a cord with video game enthusiasts and in the process garnered millions of fans and millions of dollars in profits.  Halo merchandise is a big hit with fans and range from toys to clothing. 

Halo conventions are not uncommon as are fans dressing up as their favorite Halo characters. The Great Journey Halo: The Art Of Building Worlds from Titan Books and Martin Robinson with a foreword by Frank O'Connor.

Inside Halo enthusiasts will be awed by the beautiful sketches and finished art of environments, characters, weapons, vehicles and other accoutrements seen throughout the various Halo games.

This book is a first-hand look at the creation of a video game universe as envisioned by some of the top designers in the world.  Lush illustrations, production notes and glimpses at the creative process make this a must-have book for any Halo fan.

Artist Drew Struzan is known by most art lovers as the man who paints movie posters.  But his work encompasses far more than that.  The new book from Titan Books and co-written by Drew and Dylan Struzan, examines the man, his life and his art.

Drew began his career primarily as an album cover artist.  It wasn't long afterward that his unique style drew the attentionn of movie makers.  Once Drew proved himself to be a reliable and innovative designer his work was in high demand.  George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and other notable directors all clamor for his work and speak highly of Drew.  His reputation in the movie industry is well-respected.

Even when movie poster art is transitioning to Photoshop designs Drew is one of the few movie poster artists whose work is still in demand. A huge gallery of both his record and movie poster art is reproduced in stunning color and makes up the bulk of the book.

Drew is also a book cover illustrator, an excellent fine artist, designer and concept artist.  Oeuvre Drew Struzan is a large hardbound book that contains the bulk of his work in all genres reproduced in stunning colors and printed on high-quality, coated paper stock.  It's like walking through an art gallery without leaving the comfort of your chair.

It seems only fitting that Titan Books would release the latest in its 'The Simon & Kirby Library Series: Crime book recently.  Joe Simon, part of the creative team of Kirby and Simon passed away a short time ago and this book makes a fine tribute to the man.

Mystery writer (and sometimes comic book scribe) Max Allan Collins provides an introduction to this hefty collection of the best of Simon & Kirby's early Crime stories.  Reproduced in full-color, including the covers, the book contains the Crime stories that started a whole new genre in early comic book publications.
Kirby and Simon's dynamic writing and drawing brought gangland and domestic violence crimes to life as they offered a no apology, in-you-face look at the true face of crime, pimples and all.  It would be a 'crime' to pass this book up.  

Steampunk Poe

Edgar Allan Poe and Steampunk.  Seems like an unlikely pair.  But the more I think about it, the more it makes sense.  Poe's tales were primarily set in the Victorian Era when the industrial revolution was at full swing. 

It's takes no small stretch of the imagination to envision Poe's stories and characters being surrounded by the machinations of Steampunk as it too is set in the Victorian Era.

That's the premise behind Running Press's new Steampunk Poe book with illustrations by Zdenko Basic and Manuel Sumberac.  

The new hardbound book collects some of Poe's most chilling stories and poems complemented by eerie, dark and retro high-tech illustrations.  I especially like The Tell-Tale Heart, The Murders In The Rue Morgue and The Spectacles illustrations. You'll never think of Poe's stories the same way again after reading this book.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Barbie: Stardoll

Mattel Toys' Barbie collection of fashion dolls introduces a brand new collection: Stardoll: based on the popular online Teen and Tween fashion game.

Join the fun with eight new high-fashion, young and modern Stardoll figures that walk on the edge of funky fashion.  All are articulated, feature life-like hair, are sculpted to include diverse ethnic groups and are stunningly beautiful!  Each figure's face is finely sculpted with lush mouth and eyes color application framed by chic hairstyles.

A 100 Stardollars Gift Card is included with each figure that includes a code that allows Barbie/Stardoll fans to unlock a one-week Superstar membership with exclusive online content and access to Starplaza for some exclusive goodies. Additional Stardoll accessories sets come with a 25 Stardollar Gift Card.

Two of the eight Stardolls include Doll Space with long wavy, black hair with rose hairpin, a pink, tweed, long-sleeved jacket, a three-layer pink and purple miniskirt, pink stockings with red hears and high-heel, black boots with pink laces.  She also comes with a pink, quilted purse with silver straps and latch.  Her almond skin is complemented by her dark brown eyes and full pink lips.

Pretty n' Love has long blond tresses, creamy skin with large blue eyes and shocking pink lips.  She wears a puffy, short-sleeve jacket with flower-print halter top, brown waist belt, denim mini-skirt with pink stitching, pink knee socks and brown high-top, leather boots.  A tan, loose-tie purse with a pink flower bouquet is also included.

Both dolls represent Stardoll avatars made popular on the Stardoll website and include stands. Three accessory playsets are available. Two are reviewed here.

The first contains a short, pink, strapless sundress with red hearts and chiffon accent, pink hair bow, a pink, flowered, short blouse, black and white high heel shoes, a brown carry-all bag, twin silver necklaces, heart-shaped sunglasses and a pink and brown oval purse.

The second set contains black, open-laced, high-heel shoes, silver shoulder decorations, a black and white corset, a sleeveless and strapless, gathered, metallic-purple skirt, red leather, black high-heel shoes, red and clear bag, a silver necklace, a black hair bow and a white and black purse.

Teens and Tweens and Barbie fans are sure to love the new Stardoll line.

A Turtle’s Tale: Sammy’s Adventures

Featuring an all-star cast, the animated feature film: A Turtle’s Tale: Sammy’s Adventure follows Sammy the turtle lifetime across 50 years and the entire globe! Along the way he makes new friends, discovers how important it is to guard our environment and falls in love with true love, Shelly.

Accompanying the film is a soundtrack laced with classics from such notables as The Mamas & The Papas, Michael Jackson and MIKA. It’s a rockin’ good time as Sammy explores the Earth and discovers what it means to grow older and hopefully wiser.

Discover first-hand what it’s like to be a turtle hatchling, struggling to survive, overcoming obstacles both natural and manmade and finding true love.

A Turtle’s Tale comes from Vivendi Entertainment on DVD/Blu-ray and in 3D.

Masters Of Nonsenseverse

Just when you think the characters from Darby Conley’s Get Fuzzy comic strip can’t get any sillier or funnier along comes Andrews McMeel Publishing’s latest Get Fuzzy collection, Masters Of Nonsenseverse.

Starting with its hilarious Masters Of The Universe take-off cover Masters Of Nonsenseverse pulls out all the stops as Rob Wilco, owner of Bucky the obnoxious cat and Satchel his sweet but na├»ve dog, copes with his pets’ outrageous antics.

Here are just a few examples of what you can expect from the latest Get Fuzzy collection. Bucky questions Rob’s stand on animal extinction, Satchel clues Bucky in on eating habits, Rob looks for ‘intelligent’ life on Earth, Scrabble takes on a whole new meaning with Bucky and Satchel and Bucky writes children books-from Russia!

The strip’s creator, Darby Conley has one of the wildest imaginations imaginable and is totally fearless when it comes to lampooning social issue, other comic strips and even himself. Get Fuzzy chronicles what it would be like to raise pets from Hell-even if they are adorable.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Rocketeer

Back in the early 1990’s a comic book character would make his debut as a backup story of a now defunct comic book publisher’s title. The artist and writer, Dave Stevens, of the series paid homage to the great radio and movie serials of the 1930s and 1940s.

The series, The Rocketeer, combined images and cameos of then famous radio and movie personalities, in tightly woven and fast paced adventures. The hero, Cliff Secord, played by Bill Campbell, discovers a top-secret rocket backpack and through a series of events dons the pack and becomes the high-flying hero, The Rocketeer.

Jennifer Connelly plays his beautiful girlfriend. Originally in the comic book series Betty Page, the famous pin-up girl from decades past was his love interest. But Disney opted using her name and likeness to avoid copyright entanglements and introduced a new character.

Timothy Dalton played the Hollywood star who is in fact a spy and Alan Arkin plays Cliff’s gruff mentor. The movie was directed by Captain America director Joe Johnston.

The film has become a much loved cult classic and Disney has a released a special 20th Anniversary Blu-ray Edition which unfortunately contains no extras such as featurettes, deleted scenes, etc. Too bad, the film deserves it.

The film successfully captures the look and feel of the era it is placed in. Special effects are top-notch (especially the flying scenes with The Rocketeer), the villain particularly nasty, the girl beautiful, the supporting characters perfectly cast and the production value overall first-rate.

It’s a pity the film was not that successful when first released and that sequels were not created. The Rocketeer is a great character and with a little love and persistence would have made a fine film series.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Previews, December

December's Previews showcases new product coming out in February 2012.  I sure hope I have some money left over from the Christmas season to buy some!

Comic books to spin the rack for are Conan The Barbarian #1, Dawn Of The Jedi #0, Winter Soldier #1, Road Rage #1, Thief Of Thieves #1, Batman Beyond Unlimited #1, Next Men: Aftermath, Alpha Girls #1, No Place Like Home #1, Dicks #1, Ralph Wiggins #1, Adventure Time #1 and Stripperella.

Magazines and books to read include DC Superhero Figure Collection Magazine, Leaping Tall Buildings, The Shadow 80th Anniversary, Star Wars: Millennium Flacon Owner's Manual, Avengers, The Ultimate Guide To Earth's Mightiest Heroes and City Of The Lost.

Toys to play with are Heroes Of The SCU Series 2, Mass Effect, DC Heroes Wave 20, Halo Series 6, Marvel 6-Inch, Hot Wheels, Skeleanimals, G.I. Joe, Star Wars and Star Trek.
Game on with Marvel Heroes, Lord Of The Rings and Pathfinder.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Growler And Desk & Chair

Not too long ago I reviewed Hasegawa Hobby Kits' EA-18G Growler in large scale.  This time around I'm looking at the growler again, only this time in a smaller scale (1:72) and I have to say I am amazed the attention to detail is almost identical to the larger scale model.

Oh sure, there are slight differences simply because some parts were small with the larger version and a few of the miniscule details get lost when scaled down even smaller.  But, overall the smaller scale make little or no difference in the quality of the pieces, minimum flashing and easy detaching from the 14 part trees.

The U.S. Navy Carrier Borne ECM Aircraft is a marvel of modern aviation engineering.  With its enlarged fuel tank, a more powerful engine, lengthened wings, updated software and hardware, Vulcan cannon, missiles, and air-to-air ordinance.

Easy to follow instructions allows modelers to paint and decal exact makings and colors on the aircraft and the lettered and numbered tree parts makes finding parts easy to identify and use. 

Whether in flying or landing configuration the Growler is a beauty of a model that captures the look and feel of a real combat ready aircraft.

Now here's something I've never reviewed before: model school desks and chairs-three in total.  All snap together easily, are pre-painted and comes with a simulated board parquet floor panel. 

What in the world can you use a 1/12 Scale set desks and chairs for?  easy, ever hear of 1/12th Scale action figures before.  yep, G.I. Joes, Star Wars, military, movie-you name the 1/12 scale figure and those babies can sit their plastic behinds down behind a desk.  Good thing to, they're probably getting tired of standing!

Fangoria #309, January

Explore the early years of David Cronenberg's career courtesy of Fangoria magazine, say' "Goodnight, John Boy", monsters invade with such films as Gorman's World, The Devil Inside, Goatboy, Little Deaths, Android Re-enactment, I Am Divine and The Collapsed and be sure to fill out your Chopping List.
Martina Beswick proves why she was referred to as the Queen Of Evil, Peter Sasby provides a Ripping Yarn, visit The Hammer Vault, avoid The Innkeepers, check out some classic Twilight Zone episodes on The Terror Tube and The Darkest Hour portrays The Alien Cold War.

The Lady Terminator offers up Judgment Day, surf the web to Fear Dot Com, get ready for some Hostel Circumstances and here comes the Last Woman Crawling. Canada has The First Flesh,  and Carmody delivers some Carnage. Exit humanity, there's Horror In A Small Town, blood is in a corridor and The Bizarre Theatre serves up some scary screen screams.

Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes

Evolution gets a jump start with the latest re-adaptation of a classic Apes movie with 20th Century Fox's Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes.
In Rise scientist Will Rodman tries to develop a cure for Alzheimer's.  Testing chimpanzees, he is surprised and delighted when the primates intelligence levels rise to human levels.

One of the test monkey's baby, Caesar, is orphaned, so Will decides to adopt him and raise him as a human.  After an altercation Caesar is taken away to live in a primate facility.  As his intelligence grows so does his distain for being treated as an animal prisoner.  He revolts and as the apes new leader he bestows upon them intelligence using the same procedure Will tested on chimpanzees.

The results begins the end for humans as the dominating species and the first step to the Planet Of The Apes.

Using cutting edge motion capture, Rise brings new life to digitized primates.  The action is fast, furious and primal as human battles ape in a war that will determine the fate of each species.

Blu-ray/DVD/DigitalCopy extras include deleted scenes,  several featurettes, commentaries, concept art, trailers and more.  It's enough to go 'ape" over!

Merry Christmas!

Darth Vader And The Millennium Falcon

Get ready to see the Sith Dark Lord like you’ve never seen him before!

Scholastic Books has come up with an amazing 3-D Reconstruction Log of the process by which Anakin Skywalker was transformed into Darth Vader.

This fascinating book takes apart Darth Vader’s infamous black outfit from helmet to cape in an ingenious book that allows readers to discover the secrets of the Dark Lord.

Constructed of heavy board, each page features a cutout of Vader separated into parts. As each page is opened the Dark Lord’s uniform is slowly sliced away, layer by layer, revealing the inner working s of his incredible life-sustaining uniform.

Technical statistics are included on side panels detailing the painful procedures needed for each bionic replacement as well as the parts’ functions, tolerances, maintenance requirements and medical droid observations.

Eventually, as each layer is stripped away, the only thing left is the charred limbless torso of Anakin Skywalker and an x-ray view of his augmented natural organs and skeleton.

When closed, the cutout of Vader is protected by a clear acetate sheet. Front and back cover illustrations show Vader in a fighting pose and a close-up of his helmet with strategic areas pinpointed. A silver Star Wars logo completes the package and what a package it is! I’ll never look at Darth Vader the same way again!

Another 3-D Owner’s Guide constructed much the same way as the Darth Vader book, also by Scholastic Books, is the Millennium Falcon.

Han Solo’s and Chewbacca’s spacecraft is broken down by decks, beginning with a top view of the spacecraft and its armaments.

From there readers are guided, deck-by-deck and layer-by-layer, through the ships Sensors, Defense, Propulsion, Piloting, Crew Quarters, Life Support, Cargo Engineering and Hull capabilities.

Each layer details each function with schematics, technical specifications and capabilities, quotes from Han and interesting side notes about the ship.

It’s colorful, complete and simply sensational!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Diablo, Shelby, Firebird, Nomad, Pickup, Tiger, Crusader, Helldiver And Huey

Revell/Monogram cranks out nine new models for holidays: five cars and four aircraft.

Monogram presents a Classic Crusader with its 1:24 Scale Lamborghini Diablo VT requiring Skill Level 2 for assembly.

This red hot beauty is all car with its sleek design, low profile, two-passenger interior, rear engine and oversize rear airfoil.

Open up this baby to check out its powerful 492 hp, 5.7 liter, V-12 engine that packs quite a punch.  Details abound with both interior and exterior with hidden headlights, custom wheels, black wraparound mirrors and integrated bumpers. Wow!

Less expensive but equally impressive is the '78 Pontiac Firebird 3' n 1, 1: 24 Scale, Level 2 model that allows modelers to modify this fast and furious road beast into three configurations including a sedan and convertible.  You'll  love the oversize Firebird hood decoration, custom wheels, gold windshield trim, trademark Pontiac grill and V8 GM block engine that crowds the engine compartment for room.

Ford's Streetburner 2010 Shelby GT500 comes in a 1:25 Scale, Level 2 that gets mean when its green.  Painted bright red with twin full body white strips, a Shelby engine with its  V-8 powerhouse, characteristic grill, cut-in headlights, four stripped seats, custom wheels, oversize air scoop and give this car plenty of attitude.  Zoom!

The Level 2, 1:24 Scale '40 Ford Custom Pickup Truck is a masterpiece of muscle with awesome chrome grill, bumpers, wheels, trim and mirrors.  The split windshield, roll down side windows, inset bed with wood rails and chrome engine guarantee that this Ford will be considered a classic for years to come.  Remove the wood rails for an open bed or protect the bed with a blue full-bed cover.

Another classic is the '56 Chevy Nomad  California Wheels 2' n 1, 1:25 Scale, Level 2 station wagon. Go for a two-tone paint job, or custom side flames and full body chrome. 

Chrome wheels, grill, mirrors, hood ornament, bumpers and engine parts make modelers wish for the good old days when cars had their own personality and this baby's personality says, "Look at me, I'm something special!"

It's time to get airborne with four aircraft models beginning with the U.S. Airforce F-5E Tiger II fighter jet.  With its Sidewinder missiles, laser guided bombs and gun ports the Tiger II means business in the skies.

Scaled at 1:48 and requiring Level 2 modeling skills the Tiger II model has full and accurate interior and exterior details including  a cockpit that opens, landing gear, descent ladder for the pilot (who is also included), decal variations, full paint and decal application instructions and parts that detach easily from part trees.  An extra fuel tank allows the craft to cruise further distances.

Just as deadly is the Navy's F-8 Crusader with missiles, bombs and single engine (that boosts the aircraft to supersonic speeds) makes this aircraft a formidable opponent in any air or ground combat situation.

Comprehensive instructions allow the modeler to customize the aircraft into one of two versions and the slide back canopy cockpit also includes a pilot, full instrumentation.  Extra wingtips can be mounted up or down, landing gear and at Level 2 this 1: 48 Scale model is impressive displayed either flying or landed.

The WWII SB2C-4 Helldiver Navy fighter aircraft is Rated Level 3 in skill and comes in at 1:48 Scale.  A rear gun area, full instrument cockpit with pilot, exposed weapons bay with 500 lb bombs and a powerful four prop engine allowed the Helldiver to participate in every major naval action during the war. 

This highly-detailed model doesn't skimp on the details or the authenticity of its parts.  Model makers need to follow the instructions to the letter.  Parts are photo-etched, easy to detach from part trees with little or no flashing and painting instructions and decal schematics make putting together the Helldiver a real treat for any seasoned model maker.

By far the largest and most impressive of all the recent model releases listed is the Bell Huey Gunship measuring in at 1:24 Scale and requiring a Level 2 skill.  Paint application and gluing are required but with the model's enclosed instructions adding extra touches is simple.
This monster of a model brings back memories of America's involvement in the Vietnam War.  With its slide open side doors, twin oversize windshields, side windows, rocket launchers and rotating front and rear rotors, Vietnam U.S. Army markings, internal framework cockpit with two figures and various exterior details such as antenna and landing rails, the Huey Gunship was the most versatile and vital aircraft over the last several wars.

The Simpsons: the Fourteenth Season

20th Century Fox presents the complete 22-episode Blu-ray collection of the Fourteenth Season of the ground-breaking and longest running animation and comedy series in TV history: The Simpsons.

Quite an accomplishment when you consider that The Simpsons started out as short animated spots on the Tracey Ullman show over 20 years ago. Who would have thought that the domestic adventures of Homer, Marge, Lisa, Bart and Maggie would evolve into one of the most respected and revered TV series of all time?

Here’s your chance to enjoy the ultimate high-definition antics of everyone’s favorite dysfunctional family in a Blur-ray set that contains classic Simpsons episodes.

Look for such hallmark episodes like Bart Vs Lisa Vs. The Third Grade, Special Edna, Pray Anything, A Star IS Born-Again, Dude, Where’s My Ranch and Moe Baby Blues along with over a dozen other hilarious Simpsons episodes.

Homer has never been denser, Marge so persnickety, Lisa so cerebral, Bart so obnoxious and Maggie so above it all than in The Simpsons: The Fourteenth Season Blu-ray collection.

Extras include commentaries, featurettes , a special 300th episode featurette, Halloween classics, sketches, deleted scenes and so much more that’s it’s enough to make you say, “D,oh!”

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Mr. Popper’s Penguins

Just in time for the holidays comes 20th Century Fox’s new Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy Combo Pack of the hilarious Jim Carrey comedy, Mr. Popper’s Penguins.

Based on the popular children’s novel from 1938, the film follows the straight-laced and somewhat stuffy Mr. Popper who suddenly finds himself the ward of six adorable and mischievous penguins who turn his life upside down.

As he becomes accustomed to his new feathered friends Mr. Popper soon comes to realize what things are really important in life-especially family.

Filled with slapstick humor and touching moments, Mr. Popper’s Penguins is a movie the whole family can enjoy-especially at this special time of year when family and friends celebrate the holidays and discover the true meaning of the holiday season.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins 3-Pack Combo includes an animated short, deleted scenes, a gag reel, a hilarious Penguin Pandemonium montage, the legacy of Mr. Popper’s Penguins and much more. It’s a perfect holiday package!

The Eleventh Doctor And The Astronaut

Two new figures are out from the new Series Six set of Doctor Who action figures from Underground Toys/Character options Ltd. They are the Eleventh Doctor and The Astronaut.

Both are part of The Flesh series and include Flesh Masks that cover the faces of the contained figures. The figures measure between 5 and 6 inches, are highly-articulated (including swivel waist movements), tightly sculpted and look identical to their life-size counterparts. Paint application is crisp with no rough edges or slop-over with special attention given to the face sculpts.

The package design allows the figures to be hung or displayed on shelves. The figures and accessories are easily seen while the surrounding graphics enhance the figures instead of detracting from them. All six characters from the series are shown on the back of each package and a special Flesh package comes in each bubble pack so you can experience the feel of the Flesh.

The Eleventh Doctor figure is a dead-ringer for actor Matt Smith with his deep brown hair combed over his right eye. His piercing blue eyes, while lively, betray his true age as does his somewhat dowdy attire consisting of black trousers, a sky blue shirt with cobalt blue bowtie, brown jacket and black shoes-all of which give him a rumpled professor look. Included with the figure is a miniature Sonic Screwdriver that fits snuggly into either of the figure’s hands.

The Astronaut consists of a solid white NASA space suit with gold faceplate that slides back to reveal the face of the young River Song. The suit itself is bulky with multiple hoses, chest unit, large backpack, green finger tipped gloves, heavy olive green accented boots and various space agency patches. Doctor Who fans will recognize The Astronaut from the episode The Impossible Astronaut, the same Astronaut that kills the Doctor!

Underground Toys/Character options Ltd. continue to turn out fantastic Doctor Who figures and merchandise and with the rising popularity of the Doctor Who TV show (especially here in the United States) the Doctor Who figures practically fly off the shelves.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Key, The Magic Mirror, And The Topaz Ring

Author and poet Jeanette M. Dodge has created a wonderful new book as an heirloom to her children and grandchildren.

Combining the best in children literature with fantasy and time travel, Ms. Dodge takes readers on a fun-filled, sometimes frightening and fascinating trip through time where the past intermingles with the present.

The three-story arc begins innocently enough when seventeen year old Sarah accepts an old key from her dying grandmother Rose.

The key unlocks a hidden room containing a very strange and special mirror that transports Sarah into the past where she lives a complete life. When she transports back to the present she has not aged a day and things were as she left them.

Through a series of magical and unexplained events she is intertwined with her grandmother’s past life and sets in place the events and encounters the people who populate her past and mold her present.

The Key, The Magic Mirror, And The Topaz Ring is an entertaining trilogy that young readers are sure to enjoy. The book stresses the importance of each person’s past and their family. The past comes alive as timelines meld and blend to make an entertaining tale of love, family and legacy.

The Complete Guide To Writing, Producing, And Directing A Low-Budget Short Film

Do you have dreams of becoming a big-time film director but you’re stuck with a minimal budget? Do you have big ideas but little cash? Does the thought of dealing with huge studios, high-cost film professionals and actors and actresses with salaries in the eight figures make you nervous?

Then Gini Graham Scott’s new book from Limelight Editions: The Complete Guide To Writing, Producing, And Directing A Low-Budget Short Film, is the book you need.

By starting small you’ll learn all the ins and outs of the film industry in a comprehensive step-by-step guide that takes you through script to screening.

Learn how to get and use feedback, how to break down scenes, storyboards, casting, props, wardrobes, costumes, catering food, equipment and supplies, planning a budget, communication skills, shooting films, editing, promotion, copyright protection and much more.

The Complete Guide To Writing, Producing, And Directing A Low-Budget Short Film makes how to make a film comprehensible and possible-even on a small budget.

Al Williamson Archives Volumes 1 & 2

From Flesk Publications comes Volume 1 &2 of the Al Williamson Archives, collecting the preliminaries from the artist’s studio.

From those of you unfamiliar with the term preliminaries the term refers to the studies, sketches or prefinished artwork associated with various projects.

Speaking as an artist myself, I use preliminaries frequently to flesh out my ideas, tweak compositions and try out different lighting effects, positioning of characters, layouts and ink application. Sometimes, with a little cut and paste (physical or digital) I can use the preliminaries as part of any finished piece.

Both Archives editions demonstrate via illustrations how Al Williamson designed characters, plotted compositions and inked various pieces.

Spanning over his 50-year career the illustrations show his progression as an artist, his fondness for sci-fi and fantasy and his eye for composition, design and detail. Regardless of the subject matter each piece is finely crafted, expertly laid out and virtually leaps off the page. Williamson’s mastery of the human figure, clothing, environments and light and shadow are showcased to their best advantage.

I especially enjoy looking at his pencil compositions before ink hits the paper. They demonstrate the careful attention Williamson gave to each piece, including slight modifications, limb or torso repositioning and costume enhancements.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Jurassic Park: The Game

Guest review by: Jack "HarlockJC" Campbell

In 1993 Steven Spielberg brought life to the legendary book by Michael Crichton of Jurassic Park. Due to the success of the movie, there have been many sequels to the movie as well as a number of video games. Jurassic Park the game takes place during the first movie. The game adds more details to the story behind Dennis Nedry. For those who don't remember, Dennis Nedry was the fat nerdy guy played by Wayne Knight. Nedry's goal during the movie was to steal the dinosaur embryos and sell them for $1.5 million. As it turns out, Nedry's plan A was to get the embryos and when you start the game you're playing as plan B.

The story line for Jurassic Park: The Game was a full cinematic game with solid cut-scenes that makes the player immersed throughout the game. If you loved the first movie and would like to revisit it, then Jurassic Park is the game for you. The story line draws you in and leaves you wanting more. Telltale does a great job explaining some of the holes in the original movie.  Each character provides a deep background and develops as the story goes on. As a player it's hard not to let your emotions get draw in as each character in the game goes though their ups and downs. This is where the game really succeeds.  

The gameplay, on the other hand was a letdown. The puzzles in the game were simple due to the lack of an inventory system.  I did not quite understand Telltale's reasoning for this. The game felt like it was made as an entry level point and click game. However most the fans of Jurassic Park are going to be in at least their 20's by now. So, as a gamer you find yourself longing for more complex puzzles. Most the puzzles were going though many different screens trying to find the right item to compete the puzzle.   Most of the time once you found the right item the puzzle completed itself. As you get to the end of the game the puzzles become even less of a challenge when the answer to the puzzle becomes more of percentage based rather than require much thought. An example of this can be seen when the player is trying to find his way to the Marine Center at the end of the game rather than being a challenge it came down more to picking right or left. If you pick the wrong choice then the player just tries again. This is an example of many puzzles to follow. While watching the credits for the game I did notice that another person wrote the fourth episode than the other three. I am not sure if this had anything to do with the lack of a real challenge or not.

There were times in the game where I was playing Dragon Lair; the screen would prompt you to press arrows at certain times. If you missed too many arrows or missed an arrow at the wrong time then you got eaten by a dinosaur.  With the cut scenes of a player getting eating by the dinosaur were entertaining at first.  After dying five times in a row due to missing the same dang arrow, I found myself longing for a way to shorten the cut scenes. The arrow system becomes a pain when a player has to click on an arrow for every step he makes. It does work for the game at times drawing you into climatic moments of the game.

There were some bugs in the game. Twice during the game I could not see my mouse cursor in the game. I found myself having to guess where to click on the screen. There was another point where I was talking to another person in the game and the chat would not close. I ended up having to press each key until the screen closed. With the cheap price of $29.99, with the exception of the errors with the game and the lacking gameplay, if you love Jurassic Park like I do then the game is still worth playing. If you don't really care for Jurassic Park and want to play a challenging point and click then I would recommend passing on this game.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Leave to Sid The Sloth and his friends from Ice Age to be responsible for the celebration of Christmas-or at least the trappings there of.

In 20th Century Fox's new Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas Special Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy combo, Sid manages to destroy Manny's heirloom Christmas rock.  Infuriated, Manny puts Sid on the 'naughty' list of the fictitious Santa Claus.

Sid has no way of knowing that Manny made up the list to punish him.  Determined to set things right, Sid, along with Manny's daughter (Peaches) and Crash and Eddie head off to the North Pole to convince Santa to take them off the list.

In the meantime Manny and Ellie discover their daughter is missing and head off, with Diego, to find them.

Along the way Sid and his buddies run into a flying reindeer who helps them arrive only to have Sid and the others destroy Santa's workshop just as Manny, Ellie and Diego arrive.

It's up to Sid and his friends to set things right and create the traditions and icons we now associate with Christmas.

For some hilarious holiday fun be sure to check out Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas. Special.  Also included in the package is a sneak peek at the upcoming Ice Age movie: Continental Drift and a Swingin' Jingle Bells music video.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

History Of The Marvel Universe #1

I’m a huge history buff-especially when it comes to pop culture and specifically comic books.

That’s why I am so delighted that Marvel Comics has produced a single volume comic book about the history of the Marvel beginning with Fantastic Four #1. The Watcher makes the perfect host of a quick, but very comprehensive, tour of the Marvel Universe beginning with that fateful day Benjamin Grimm Johnny and Sue Storm and Reed Richards boarded a rocket ship and encountered cosmic rays and were transformed into the Fantastic Four.

Briefly the Golden Age of Marvel Comics is mentioned but by in large the book is dedicated to the Marvel Universe since the FF first came on the scene.

Taking art from across the decades, the book successfully summarizes the key players and events that have made up the Marvel Universe since its inception 50 years ago celebrated this year.

Readers will witness the birth of heroes and cosmic altering events up until present day. For those of you who are new to the Marvel Universe this book is an excellent way to catch up on what’s been going on for five decades. This is a ‘must have’ for any Marvel Comics’ fan.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Steampunk And Zombies

Allow me a moment to rant.  There is a small independent comic book/Manga publisher out of San Antonio, Texas that has been on the cutting edge of popular culture since its creation over 20 years ago.

That company, Antarctic Press, has consistently managed to introduce new concepts to comic book readers before the mainstream media jumps on the bandwagon.  Whether its Manga, kids' comics, zombies, Steampunk or any of dozens of other current 'hot' properties, Antarctic Press has been at the forefront.

Case in point: long before the 'other' comic book publishers cashed in on the zombie craze Antarctic Press was already exploring the genre.  Another hot commodity is Steampunk.  Comic book fans see plenty of it at conventions but Antarctic Press is the only comic book publisher who has really exploited the genre.

Recently Antarctic Press released a trio of titles I believe deserve closer scrutiny.  All of them feature great art, clever writing and top tier production values.

First up is Fred Perry's, Rod Espinosa's and Kelsey Shannon's Steampunk Fairy Tales #1 that cleverly retells the story of Cinderella and the coming of the Apocalypse (renamed the Steampocalypse) in Fairyland.  Kelsey Shannon provides the beautiful painted front cover and illustrated back cover.

Gearhart's Steampunk Glamor Revue #1 combines illustrations, paintings and photos of beautiful Steampunk ladies in provacative poses along with bios, stories and art galleries.  Did I mention the live models are gorgeous!?

Writer Joe Wight and artist Rod Espinosa (is there nothing he can't draw?) tell the story about an entire planet inhabited by zombies and the spaceship crew who tries to survive.  It's a chiller in planetary proportions.

I highly recommend all three comic books and all of Antarctic Press titles.  Request your copies today.