Popular Culture Collectibles Reviews

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Comics: The Complete Collection


I've been reading comic strips every since I can remember which would be over 50 years. I've seen good and bad strips come and go while others become mainstays of American culture.  I've read a few books written about the history of comic strips but I've never read one that tackled the whole history of the them-until now.

Author Brian Walker and Abrams Books have compiled the definitive book about comic strips with over 1,300 images taken from the dawn of the comic strip until today's contemporary strips. 

Beginning with earliest American comic strips dealing mostly with politics and social commentary, the book the traverses the decades up until just after WWII.  Readers can watch the evolution of the comic strip and the various genres that were so popular with readers before the advent of the TV.

You'll discover strips that would be consider extremely racist and politically incorrect today such as the Yellow Kid and Sambo, to whimsical fantasy strips such as Little Nemo to adventure strips, family situation comedies, funny animals and more.

Comic strips were at their heyday especially during the 1920 through the 1940s and the printed adventures of favorite characters were followed each day by millions of fans.

With the end of WWII comic strips became much more topical and dealt with the absurdness of life, hot political topics and clever observations of everyday life.  They also began to shrink in size as TV, movies and other forms of popular entertainment began to overshadow them. 

Eventually strips shrank to the point where very little detail in the drawings and shorter dialogue became the norm.  One-panel gags and visual puns soon replaced comic strip continuing storylines and character development.  Instead of stories that ran for weeks, sometimes months at a time, comic strips evolved into jokes of the day.

To be sure many excellent strips are still being produced today-in dwindling numbers.  With the advent of the internet news and other adventures of revenue newspapers are dropping like flies and so too are the comic strips they contain.

As an example my hometown's local newspaper recently cut the size of its Sunday comic strip supplement to less than half of its original size - containing far fewer strips to read. 

But with the loss of one form of publication comes a newer more exciting form: the internet.  Now millions can read new comic strips with past strips also available for reading.  Even though the methods by which comic strips are presented to the public might have changed comic strips are still popular and will continue to be popular for years to come.

The Comics: The Complete Collection offers a warm and fuzzy trip down Memory Lane where old friends still live.  If you are a true comic strip lover then you are sure to appreciate the love and effort that went into this definitive guide to the American comic strip.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Safari Ltd. 2011 Part 2


If you love miniature animals, critters, people, things and more then you're sure to get a thrill about Safari Ltd.'s new 2011 collection.  All of the mentioned items boast first-rate sculpting, excellent paint application with no slopover or messy application, exciting and natural poses and an impressive attention to detail.  Here's a few more releases that you can expect to find in stores.

Fable lizard fans are sure to get excited by two new dragons.  The deep purple, iridescent Midnight Moon Dragon is a huge beast with long serpentine tail, leathery wings, gold accent horns and scales and four red eyes.  Its hooked snout and powerful claws is sure to make short work of any knight or would-be hero.  No quite as massive but just as intimidating is the Ice Dragon.  Colored snow blue with a lavender belly, the silver-accented giant lizard stands menacingly with its mouth open and claws at the ready.

Two lizards (one prehistoric and one modern day) are smaller versions of their legendary mythical cousins -- only they have real claws and teeth.  Appearing like a large crocodile on long legs is the Kaprosuchus.  Its ridged head, massive jaws and powerful torso gives evidence of just how dangerous this prehistoric beast was.  Smaller, but nasty when it wants to be, the Horned Lizard is a study in camouflage with its multi-hued skin patterns.  Looking almost regal with its horned head, slender legs and decorated body, the Horned Lizard is a bizarre but beautiful creature.

Otters are nature's clowns.  Put three of them together and let the circus begin.  The trio of North American River Otter Babies are so cute and realistic you almost forget they are sculpted figures.  With their stubby deep gray bodies, white muzzles and button eyes they are almost irresistible to hold.  The Lion is truly the king of the jungle.  This regal beast stands proudly with legs firmly spread, mouth slightly open and its long mane cascading around its feline face.
Sharks get a bad rap. They are predators true, but they do serve a purpose.  The Prehistoric Sharks Toob contains various species of sharks from which our present day sharks descended from.  Be careful when you open the Toob, you may just get bitten.

Medea The Witch beckons from the Days Of Old.  She personifies the image people imagine when they think of a witch. She wears tattered cloths, a long pointed hat, carries a broom and has pale green skin.  All that's missing is the cackle.

Babies, babies, babies!  Sitting, standing, laying down, sleeping, black, white, newborn, toddlers-they're all here and Safari Ltd. has got them.  These cute tykes are pastel clothed bundles of joy both girl and boy. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Creating Comics From Start To Finish

Impact Books, author Buddy Scalera and top comic book professionals such as Darick Robertson, Mark Waid Joe Quesada, Stan Lee and many more, guide readers through the entire process of how comic books are created.

In Creating Comics From Start To Finish you'll learn how the germ of a comic book idea is born, where it goes from there, the editing process, how the book is put together and what various departments do in order to get the book to print.

Learn about story outlines, final scripts, penciling, inking, lettering, coloring, going to print, proofing the final product, distribution and so on.

Industry professionals give their insights on what role they play in the creation of independent and corporate titles.  Discover what the tools-of-the-trade are, how they're used and the most efficient and rewarding ways in which to use them.

This book has it all, from concept to final completion.  If you see a career in comic books in your future then this book is a 'must read'.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Unstoppable

Denzel Washington and Chris Pine star in Unstoppable, a thrill-a-minute, seat-of-your-pants action film that never lets up on the action, suspense and drama.

Washington plays a veteran engineer and Pine a young conductor who are the only ones that can stop a runaway train transporting deadly toxic chemicals from killing thousands of people. They have 100 minutes to stop 100,000 tons of destruction from killing 100,000 people.


Each actor delivers a tense and emotional performance as they battle for time, the powers-that-be and each other to stop the Unstoppable.


Based on real events, this tense thriller from 20th Century Fox about two common men who become two extraordinary heroes hits the stores shelves in DVD and Blu-ray. Blu-ray specials include featurettes, commentary, a Digital Copy and much more. Be sure to stop by your local stopover and stop by the entertainment section to get your copy of Unstoppable. You’ll be glad you stopped.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Betty #190


Betty shares some Fact From Fiction in her honest and upfront truth behind her fellow Riverdale resdients.  Learn all about Reggie, Archie, Veronica, Dilton, Principal Weatherby and Jughead in Betty #190 from Archie Comics.

While working at the library Betty goes to lunch with Archie and hits upon a clever new idea. Unfortunately for her it winds up being one of her worst ideas-at least as far as keeping Veronica away from Archie. Chuck and Betty dream up a series of adventures for betty if she had superpowers.  But when it comes to reality her powers extend to convincing Archie of anything.
Betty and her friends try out for the local roller derby.  Turns out none of them are tough enough, but they are talented enough to use their skating talent to help the Riverdale Animal Shelter.

All-Star Superman

Adapted from the award-winning All-Star Superman series from DC Comics written by Grant Morrison and drawn by Frank Quitely, Warner Bros. new All-Star Superman Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital Copy release introduces a whole new side of the Man Of Steel.

Follow Superman as he saves our sun only to have his powers increased to a dangerous level by the sun's radiation as part of Lex Luthor's plan to kill Superman.
Realizing he has only a short time to live, Superman begins a quest to do all the things he has always dreamed of including revealing his secret identity to Lois Lane and helping his adopted home, the planet Earth.

But, along the way he must fight a super powered jail break by the Parasite, defend the Earth from two recently arrived Kryptonians, thwart Lex Luthor's mad plan to rule the planet after he duplicates Superman's powers and sacrifice himself to re-ignite the sun after its drained of its power by a interstellar villain.

It's Superman in all his powerful glory and pure of heart.  Included with Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy release are special DC Comics animated movie sneak peeks, interviews with the All-Star Superman comic book and animated movie creators and two Superman animated shorts.  Anyway you look at it, it's super!

Fletcher And Attack Bomber


Sculpted in 1:306 Scale, the USS Fletcher was a survivor of WWII and soon after was converted to a Destroyer complete with rocket launchers.  The model made by Revell is an exact duplicate of the Fletcher.  

When assembled the model can be detailed in its WWII configuration with gun turrets and depth charges or converted to its later Destroyer status complete with rockets.
Cool details include rotating gun turrets, full deck and underbelly details, life rafts, deck guns, railings, hatches, towers, control rooms and more.  Custom decals can be added to give the ship the look of authenticity and the easy-to-follow instructions make assemble easy and paint application spot-on. Part trees are clearly marked and parts detach easily with little or no flashing and cleanup. Display the ship on or off its display stand.   
  
The A-6E Navy Attack bomber is a Level 2 model scaled at 1:48.  Equipped with two powerful J52-P-8 turbojet engines the A-6E carries an impressive load of ordinance and state-of-the-art equipment.  It's cockpit holds two side-by-side pilot seats and full instrumentation.
With its oversize cockpit windshields the A-6E provides maximum visibility for its crew.  Full radar capabilities make it virtually impossible to take by surprise and capable of spotting incoming aircraft and ships with ease.

Armament include bombs and missiles and extra external fuel tanks increase its range.  Look for working landing gear, full fuselage detailing, undercarriage hatches and two pilot figures are also included.  Follow the detailed instruction for painting and decal application and your A-6E Navy Attack Bomber with look just like the real thing.  Bombs away!

Vatine And Meynet

I’m really excited by the two new Sketchbooks from Comix Buro. Both contain outstanding artwork from artists living overseas. It’s a real treat to see what some of our fellow artists are up to across the Big Pond.

Olivier Vatine is one of my favorites. He is one of the most talented artists living in Europe and it’s easy to see why. The man can draw anything! From beautiful girls, animals, vehicles, interiors, historical scenes, fantasy and science fiction and more, he does it all. His mastery of the pencil, pen and brush is second to none and his sense of design both in traditional and digital media is awe-inspiring. I wish I had a fraction of his talent. His Third Sketchbook is brimming with his black and white and full color illustrations and each one is pure eye candy. This is a Sketchbook you will want to look at again and again.


Equally impressive is the Sketchbook of Felix Meynet. He too is an artist of incredible talent-especially when it comes to drawing buxom, beautiful women. But, his women are not of the normal cheesecake variety. His women are dressed in period and historical costumes complete with accessories and set against historical backgrounds. Check out his series of illustrations that span time. As an artist I know how difficult it is to dress figures accurately in period costumes. Meynet does it in style using a variety of art media. I love the fact that the Sketchbook contains not only his finished work but also his preliminary sketches. It’s fascinating to see his mind at work figuring out designs and compositions.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Motor World

Greenlight has just released twelve new die cast vehicles in its Motor World series. Each bubble packed vehicle features super fine detailing both on the exterior and interior. Paint application is smooth and even with no sloppy edges or bleed-overs. Tires are made of rubber-like material that give a real authenticity to each die cast miniature. Three separate sub-series make up the Motor World series.


The Speed Series focuses on….you guessed it…speed! The Volkswagen Beetle RSi is a solid white bug of a different sort. With its bright green wheels, rear air scoop/stabilizer and aerodynamic body, the Beetle is ready to ‘bug out.’

The Porsche 356A is a classic convertible made for two passengers. Chrome wheels, a deep blue paint job, wraparound chrome fenders and a black interior make this every car lover’s dream.


The new Dodge Viper SRT10 is a bright fire engine red with a solid two-seat black interior, bright chrome wheels, vented engine slots and solid integrated bumpers. Try ‘dodging that!’


Think of the yellow Lamborghini as a bullet on four wheels. This beauty is made for speed with it low profile, narrow swept front window and slit side windows, huge rear engine compartment with multi vents and wheel hugging frame.


The three cars set All American Series include one of my favorite 1950s American automobiles-the Chevrolet Bel Air. This two-tone, almost two ton driving delight is a four seat mechanical monster with full chrome trim, wheels and bumpers. Painted red and white there is no mistaking this American masterpiece.


The Chevrolet Camaro SS is a convertible two seater with lots of room in it black interior. Wedge shaped and riding high on its chrome wheels the Camaro is a marvel of muscle car mechanics.


Another of my favorites is the Ford F-100 pick-up truck with its rounded cab, white wall tires, heavy bumpers, short bed and its telltale front grill with round headlights. Its creamy aqua finish makes this bad boy look tame but everyone knows there’s more power than plush to this classic truck.


The final entry into the new Motor World Series is the five vehicle Classic Series.


Volkswagen dominates this series with three vehicles. They include the solid silver Volkswagen 30, the predecessor to the well-known Bug. What many people don’t realize is that the Volkswagen ‘Bug’ was actually a ‘people’s car’ developed by Hitler’s Nazi during WWII.


The red Volkswagen Beetle is the classic car that American’s loved-especially during the 1960s and 1970s. The rounded compact Beetle was air-cooled with a small but powerful engine in the rear. For a small car it featured a lot of room, minimal interior decoration and efficient controls.


The Volkswagen Samba Bus features full multi-windows wrapping the entire upper body. Two-tone in red and cream, the Samba was a box on wheels with a trademark Volkswagen ‘VW’ squarely placed on its front.


The Mini Cooper has long been a favorite of car collectors. The ultimate economy car, the Cooper is hugely popular in Europe and is making quite a splash in the U.S. This lovable little car is all business with its square but comfortable interior, small wheels and tires and compact body. It's fuel efficient, but a lot of fun to drive.


On a more serious note the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is a vehicle by which all other emergency vehicles are gauged. The white with yellow and orange insignia and symbols ambulance is a customized extended van with lots of room for patients, emergency personnel and equipment. Its completely enclosed save for the front and side windows. Its slopped front end makes it aerodynamic to handle high speeds and its chassis mass keeps it firmly stable while it does so.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Paddington, Johnny, COPS, Sabrina And He-Man

Mill Creek Entertainment has released six new animated TV series: one standalone and five via its Cookie Jar series.


Marmalade Madness features the stop-motion animated antics of Paddington Bear. As a stowaway from Peru Paddington finds himself in Paddington Station and eventually winds up at the Brown family’s home. When they took him in they had no idea what they were in store for.


Twenty eight episodes make up this wonderful DVD collection of Paddington Bear series from the U.K. Plus, look for five bonus episodes of Huxley Pig.


Follow the adventures of the super-hyper, totally fearless Johnny Test as he confronts numerous villains, battles science gone mad and endures some of the most outrageous experiments and inventions along with his genetically enhanced dog Dukey.


Throw in his slightly ditsy parents, his genius twin sisters and a supporting cast of some of the wackiest characters imaginable and you have 26 episodes of fun, adventure and frivolity from the First and Second Seasons of animated hit. Look for five additional bonus episodes of other animated hits.


Fight crime in the future with C.O.P.S., an elite force of specially trained police officers. Each one is an expert in a particular crime-fighting skill. Join them as they fight C.R.O.O.K.S. headed by the criminal mastermind Brandon ‘Big Boss’ Babel and cartel of crazed criminals.


Empire City is up for grabs and only the C.O.P.S. can stop Babel as he attempts to expand his criminal empire. Look for Volume 1 containing 32 episodes and The Best Of C.O.P.S. includes a special selection of ten episodes. Based on the Hasbro line of action figures, C.O.P.S. delivers crime-stopping action in each episode. Check out the bonus Hey Vern, It’s Earnest episodes with each collection.


Inspired by the Archie Comics and live-action TV series, Sabrina The Animated Series follows Sabrina the witch’s life when she was 12 years old. The 32 episodes collection in Volume One introduces viewers to Sabrina Spellman; a cute and precocious young witch living with her sorcerous family and her cat Salem in Greendale.


Watch her as she not only attempts to cope with growing up but her blossoming powers, her unpredictable friends, family and foes as well. It’s pre-teen fun as Sabrina brings a little magic to everyday life. Included with the episodes is a bonus episode of Sabrina’s secret Life.


He-Man, along with his fellow Eternia heroes join forces to fight the dastardly Skeletor and his minions as they protect the secrets of Castle Grayskull and the planet Eternia from the skull-faced despot. Only they stand between Skeletor and his mad plans to conquer the universe.


Hold on tight as He-Man and his friends take part in some of the most breath-taking magical adventures imaginable in this 20 episode DVD collection of their greatest adventure compiled in Volume Two taken from the First Season of the animated TV show.


If you love classic animated TV series filled with adventure, humor and suspense then this new series of DVDs from Mill Creek Entertainment is sure to satisfy your needs.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Fangoria #301, March


Fangoria presents Richard Matheson in all his 'devilish' best, read First Rites, Monsters Invade in Vanishing On 77th Street, Kaboom and The Bleeding and Fangoria presents its Chainsaw Awards.

Buckle up and Drive Angry, Black Death is plagued by evil, Red Riding Hood grows up, Wolfen is remembered and travel Back To The Boneyard. Interactive Vamps are Dying For Daylight, Step into The Theatre Bizarre, make more malevolence in Bereavement, Brazil is bleeding, who are They? and Linnea Quigley travels for trash to treasure. Experience Monsters In Monochrome, examine the three-decade career of Jim Nauseum and listen to the Sound Of Shock.

Toxic


What do you get when you cross cute, cuddly animals with the undead-Zombiezoo of course.  Zombiezoo is like most zoo-gift shops and tours: the usual audience pleasing attraction.  What makes it different?  The animals!  They're the ones in charge.  They're creepy but never gory or scary.  They just happen to be dead and they like to live it up.

Toxic is the bright red, one eye, one fang snake who would never think of biting anyone.  He has far too much fun--having fun!  Soft and cuddly Toxic is about 12 to 15 inches, long is literally in stitches and even has a long ribbon tongue.  Kids are sure to love this adorable serpent.  Toxic the snake, along with his friends Boo the black cat, Stitch the pig, Muck the monkey and Rob the rabbit have a ball running the zoo and meeting new friends.  They're just 'dying' to meet you!

Each plush figure is tightly stitched, is made of tough fabric and are durable enough to hold up to continual play.   

Friday, February 4, 2011

Cruella De Vil


Straight from the Disney animated hit, 101 Dalmatians, comes Cruella De Vil.  Only this time instead of wearing Dalmatian fur, she's gone vinyl.  Disney Store presents its new collectible vinyl figurine series Villains designed by various Disney Store artists.  Cruella's figure is designed by Dan Beltran.

Each vinyl collectible figurine starts with a basic white Mickey Mouse figure.  Disney Store artists then paint a likeness of a different Disney Villain on the blank figurines.  Very clever!

The figurines stand approximately three inches tall and feature heads that turn and arms that move.  Included with the boxed figurines is a special Disney Store Villains collectible card.  Twelve figurines make up the first set.  Each retails at $9.95 per figurine.

It's a clever new way to spread Disney magic t0 a whole new collectible arena.  Be sure to get yours today. Better yet, get all of them!

Safari Ltd. 2011

Safari Ltd. starts the new year off right with a huge new selection of new figures of all types.  As always each figure is expertly crafted with careful attention given to sculpting details, paint application and imaginative poses.

For the fantasy lover comes the silver skull capped Magnus The Wizard dressed in his long deep purple robe, sporting a long black beard and hair and carry a green shoulder satchel.  With his right hand raised he summons fire for a magic spell and his long, crooked wooden staff is clenched in his left hand.

The translucent Krystal Blue Dragon is a serpentine giant lizard with twisted spine and tail, gold tail fins, claws, underbelly and head scales.  The powerful dragon has its large mouth open revealing razor sharp teeth.  This is one bad lizard!

Travel back in time and discover what a Cycad is.  This ancient relative of the modern palm tree has a massive trunk, long tapered fronds and stands on a rocky soil base with various plants.  The Inostrancevia looks like a nasty combination of lizard, lion and who knows what else!  Whatever it is it has huge powerful legs and torso, a massive head with bone crushing jaws and sharp, short black claws.

The Golden Lion Tamarin is a long tailed monkey with iridescent gold mane, large brown eyes, a long tapered tail and slender digits for grasping tree limbs, food and whatever else it curious little mind takes an interest in.

The beautiful striped Lesser Kudo is a striking deer like animal with twisted long horns, tri-tone legs and short dark brown tail.  

The Abaco Barb horse is a beautiful animal colored white with deep brown patches, ears and mane.  Just as beautiful but far more deadly is the Bull Shark.  Long and lean, this finned predator has large fins and a distinctive tail fin.  

The Soft Shell Turtle with its long neck and snout is low to the ground but every bit as attractive as the more exotic animals.  Its multi-colored shell, flat front and rear legs with stubby claws and creamy underbelly make it a visual delight.

If you like insects then your sure to get a kick out of Safari Ltd.'s Glow-In-The-Dark Insects Toob.  Place them near a light, turn off the light and you have a insect iridescent parade.  look for all sorts of creepy crawlies like caterpillars, flies and more.

Previews, February

February may be a short month but the Diamond Previews for merchandise coming out in April is huge! Here’s just a few of the new items you can expect in April.

Comic books you’re sure to want to pick up include The Mighty Thor, Dark Horse Presents, The Dead Remembered, Super Dinosaur, Cobra Civil War, Netherworld, Batwoman, Green Wake, Nonplayer, Planet Of the Apes, Fear Itself, Mega Man and Skarr.


Books and magazines to read are Alan Moore: Storyteller, Wonder Woman: The story Of The Amazon Princess, Doctor Who Unlimited and The Green Lantern Kit.


Rittenhouse Archives turns out some cool trading card sets such as Spartacus, The Green Hornet and James Bond 007 Mission Logs.


Play time is here when the following toys are released; Thanos, Michael Jackson, Green Lantern, Domo and Friends, Starcraft, Marvel Minimates, Halo, Ghostbusters, Captain America, Batman, Marvel Universe, Iron Man, Star Wars, Bad Robot, Doctor Who, Tron, and Disney.


Game on with Watchman HeroClix, Munchkin Zombies, Doctor Who and DC Adventures.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Harrier GR Mk.9 ‘FAA 100th Anniversary’

First flown in 1969, the V/STOL attack aircraft, the Harrier, caught the attention of the U.S. Marines.


Believing it could be a valuable asset in the support of ground troops the plane was soon rechristened the AV-8A. After fixing a few technical problems the AV-8A took flight.


The Marines made a number of modifications to the aircraft including upgrades to its navigation and weapons capabilities and slight redesigns of its wings and landing craft configurations.


The Harrier GR Mk.9 is the RAF version of the aircraft with British modifications that allow it to operate at night and in bad weather conditions.


Hasegawa Hobby Kits presents its very special Limited Edition model kit that allows seasoned modelers to paint and decorate the aircraft in two configurations: the Royal Navy, Naval Strike Wing, FAA 100th Anniversary version and the Royal Air Force, No. 4 (AC) Squadron, 95th Anniversary.


Regardless of which version you wish to construct both aircraft feature full weaponry including gun pods and missiles, full landing gear, fuel tanks, full interior instrument panels, clear cockpits and much more.


Assembly is easy if you follow the precise step-by-step instructions. Paint and decal application is also shown in full marking and painting diagrams. Decals are easy to apply and model parts and components easily detach from their respective part trees with very little effort and with minimal flashing that needs trimming. Parts fit snuggly together with no gaps or mismatched edges. All-in-all the Harrier model is an excellent kit and will provide several hours of model-making pleasure.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

More Art

Here's a few pieces I did at school.







FaceEater

Feeling a little depressed-perhaps suicidal or homicidal? Are you ready to share your misery with your friends and foes? Well, here’s your chance. FaceEater: sort of Night Of The Living Dead Rummy card game, lets you share your hostility with the world. Zombies, dead things and other creepy crawlies abound as you change the past and the future. Lobotomize, eviscerate, spray with nerve gas and start a plague are just a few of the goodies you can do against fellow FaceEater gamers.


192 cards make up the FaceEater Deck broken up into 72 Power Cards, 8 FaceEater Cards, 8 Joker cards and 104 regular cards. A survival Guide includes rules, a Power Card Index and cross-referenced explanations of all the cards and terms used in the game.

What better way to get rid of your hostility and depression than spreading around a little mayhem, murder and mutilation? FaceEater: mayhem never tasted so good, from Variant Media, LLC.