Popular Culture Collectibles Reviews

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Warman’s Antiques & Collectibles 2013 46th Edition


Warman’s is a name antique lovers and collectors have trusted for almost five decades.

Author Zac Bissonnette has compiled this latest edition of the popular price guide that has been trusted since 1948. Well-known antique appraisers Marsha Banks and Leigh Keno swear by it and recommend it to anyone serious about collecting antiques.

As the longest running guide about antiques, Warman’s Antiques & Collectibles 2013 46th Edition is brimming with full color photos of key collectibles form all genres form books, to glassware to posters, furniture, memorabilia and more. Identification guides, short historical examinations and to the point prices and descriptions make Warman’s a breeze to look through and find the pieces you have or hope to acquire.


For the most trusted name in antique collecting be sure to pick up a copy of Warman’s Antiques & Collectibles 2013 46th Edition from Krause Publications.

Barbarians and Ghost Protocol


Barbarian [bahr-bair-ee-uhn]
noun
1. a person in a savage, primitive state; uncivilized person.
2. a person without culture, refinement, or education; philistine.

Works for me. Have you ever wanted to chuck modern society: the noise, the pollution, the endless stream of high-tech gadgets that are obsolete the day they come out and the other troublesome trappings of civilization?


If you do then Insight Editions’ new ‘Barbarians: A Handbook For Aspiring Savages’ written by Dr. Byron Clavicle and Grute Skullbasher, is just the book you’ve been looking for.
If you want to grab life by the neck and strangle ever last breath of air from it then you need to read this book. Forget about the trappings of modern man and embrace your inner savage!


Learn how to dress, act and think like a Barbarian. Trace Barbarian history and discover the great names of those who paved the way for debauchery, violent tendencies and general mayhem.


You’ll learn about some of the impressive accomplishments of great Barbarians and be awed by the many scholarly accomplishments, adaptations to book and film and of those that still practice barbarism today.


So polish your sword, clean off your club and mace, don your fur and leather attire and get out there and let your inner Barbarian roam free!


Actor Tom Cruise returns for the fourth installment of the popular film series: Mission: Impossible as Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol.
In the film Ethan is blamed for the bombing of the Kremlin and is disavowed by the President who initiates “Ghost Protocol.”


Without any resources and only his core team to assist him, Ethan must prove his innocence and the agency’s


Ghost Protocol was the most ambitious of the entire Mission: Impossible films with spectacular sets, incredible stunts (most performed by Tom Cruise himself-including hanging from the world’s tallest building) and supersonic speed storyline.


In Insight Editions’ new Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol Shooting Diary, author David James leads readers through each step of the filming. Pages are packed with behind-the-scenes shots both on location and in the studio.


Tom Cruise provides a foreword and photos are accompanied by informative notes and observations. Film-goers with love this inside look at the making of a blockbuster film.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Neverland

Have you ever wondered how Peter Pan arrived in Neverland? Where did the Lost Boys come from? How did Captain Hook arrive?  What did he do before he became the captain of a band of blood-thirsty pirates? How did Peter Pan become friends with Tinker Bell?  Where does she come from?  Why are there Indians in Neverland?  Exactly where is Neverland and how do you get there?

That's just a few of the questions answered in the delightful new Blu-ray from Vivendi Entertainment.  Originally shown on SyFy, the unique take on the Peter Pan legend transports viewers to the mysterious Neverland (so named by the Indians) where Peter, his friends and his mentor (Mr. Hook!) encounter fairies, pirates, man-eating crocodiles, exotic locations and more than their fair share of surprises.

With its engaging story, spectacular visual effects and stellar cast, Neverland is a real treat for those who love fantasy and adventure.  The Blu-ray also comes with three Limited Edition Postcards, a commentary, featurettes, an art gallery and much more.

Discover the secret of Peter pan's eternal youth and the truth behind the Neverland legend.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Next Gen, Brady Bunch And Marvel

Rittenhouse Archive (Sci-Fi Hobby) just came out with three new Trading Card Sets that pretty much cover the gamut of the genres: TV, movies and comic books.

Although I'm not a big fan of the classic TV show: The Brady Bunch, I have to admit its popularity (even today) is impressive. 

Equally impressive is the Limited Edition (500 Sets) Trading Card Set assembled by Rittenhouse.  All 117 episodes are represented on 1970s era style designed Trading Cards (two episodes per Card) and here's the big news!

Five Autograph Cards come in the Set. They include Barry Williams (Greg), Christopher Knight (Peter), Mike Lookinland (Bobby), Eva Plumb (Jan) and Susan Olsen (Cindy)!

I have #361 out of 500.  It makes me want to sing The Brady Bunch song-no, not really, but, I'm pretty darn excited!

Equally exciting is Rittenhouse's The Complete Star Trek: The Next Generation Series Two 1991-1994 Trading Card Set. 

The Second Set contains numbers 89 through 180 Base Cards (I assembled a full run), randomly inserted Parallel Set Cards (8 for me), 9 Best Of Holodeck Cards
(3 in my Packs), 18 Tribute Cards (make mine 4)and 5 Communicator Pin Cards (I got Geordi LaForge's).  A special James Doohan Cut Signature Card is also available (rats!, not for me) and 4 Autograph Cards are guaranteed in each Box. 


Here's a first, I received 4 Autograph Cards: 2 Bruce French and 2 Jane Daly!  Because my Box of Cards had a Communicator Pin only 22 Packs of 5 Cards were in it.  Normally there would be 24 but because the Communicator Pin Card is so thick two Packs were not included.

Rittenhouse makes the two lost Packs up to fans with a special insert to receive 4 Rittenhouse Reward Points.  No matter how you stack them, Rittenhouse's The Complete Star Trek: The Next Generation Series Two 1991-1994 Trading Card Set truly goes where no 'trading cards' have gone before!

Numbering 9 Cards per character, Rittenhouse's Legends Of Marvel Series 3 Trading Cards feature spectacular art of Storm, Moon Knight and the Hulk,  The Limited Edition Trading Card Sets are sequentially numbered up to 1939 (the year Marvel Comics was born). 
My Set is number 773 and they are stunning.  With their full-bleed images, heavy coated card stock and art on both front and back, the cards make a fine addition to any Trading Card and/or Marvel Comics collections.  

Fantasy & Science Fiction #700, March/April

Seven Hundred issues!  Unbelievable!  For 63 years the Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine has been in publication showcasing the very best of new and veteran science fiction and fantasy writers.  anyone with even an inkling of fame in the genre has had their work printed in F&SF.

This time around look for some great stories and articles form such luminaries as Sean McMullen, Peter S. Beagle, Richard Bowes, C.S. Friedman, Steven Utley and many other.

Regular issue articles look at new book releases, movies, coming attractions and much more.  It's the best of the best as only  F&SF can deliver it!

First Time, G.X.P. And Phantom


Funimation recently released a trio of Anime collections. One is a comedy, one an adventure and one a thriller. All are fun to watch, feature some stellar Anime animation and come packaged in attractive boxes decorated with art on all sides from each respective Anime.


Before I begin my reviews I’d like to say a word about Funimation’s Anime. Overall the quality of each is terrific. Soundtracks, voice actors and direction are right on cue, all feature high quality art, interesting premises, eye-catching intros and a real value for the money.


I’m impressed at how well each Anime is translated into English. The voice actors chosen match the look and dispositions of the characters. Too often Anime English soundtracks miss the mark when it comes to capturing the personalities of the characters-Funimation voice actors hit the mark-perfectly. Now on to the Anime.


Sex. Who doesn’t think about, fantasize about it and (let’s be honest) practice it? If you want to draw in a young audience then tease them with the promise of sex or titillate their imaginations with almost revealed body parts and ‘could this be the moment’ scenes.


That’s exactly what Yamada’s First Time does. The story is about teenager Yamada-a bouncy, body to kill for, beauty of a young thing who has but one ambition in life-to have sex with 100 guys-not at one time of course. Come on, it’s not THAT kind of an Anime!


She’s beautiful, curvaceous, perky and willing. It shouldn’t be a problem, right? Wrong!


Despite her best efforts Yamada can’t seem to get what she wants. Every move she makes is somehow quashed; her best attempts at seduction obliterated and for some odd reason boys seem to be intimidated by her.


That’s especially true of Takashi Kosuda who she has decided to be first on her list. The only problem is Yamada scares him and each time they meet (with intentional or unintentional close contact) things go wrong. Yamada wants the first one she has sex with to be as inexperienced as she is and then work up from there.


That’s the premise of the series and it makes for some hilarious encounters, awkward moments and plenty of innuendo. Yamada’s First Time is a tease-nothing really happens, despite the title. It’s an Anime intended to lead you along and deliver laughs, not lasciviousness.


The series is occasionally hosted by an Eros Deity (as sort of an impish censor) that keeps the series on track without getting overly sexual.


Tenchi Muyo! G.X.P. is the second Anime series I want to look at. The series stars Seina Yamada, a bumbling, accident prone high school student who has the tendency to get into trouble, cause disasters and lives under a cloud of bad luck. Remarkably he retains a good attitude and copes with his bad fortune regardless of whatever catastrophe beset him.


Taking a short cut on his bicycle one day, Seina witnesses a strange phenomenon at a small lake. Lights flash about and suddenly the lake up heaves a tremendous wave that carries him to the bottom of the lake.


The next moment he’s awake on his friend’s front porch with a gorgeous woman leaning over him. She tells him she saved his life and hands him a brochure to read. And then, she’s gone!


The brochure tells about the Galaxy Police Transporter and before he knows it he is recruited by and becomes part of the organization. He’s not really sure why, but like with all things in his life he goes with the flow.


After a series of misadventures at the Academy (including a body enhancement0) Seina is off to space with his new recruit fronds. They encounter space pirates, visit alien worlds, encounter strange technology and generally get into trouble at every turn.


I like this series. It’s fun to watch Seina’s constant battle with bad luck and its consequences. The supporting cast makes for a great group of characters and the stories are both funny and tension filled.


The visual effects and sci-fi elements are handled well without overplaying them. Character interaction is handled well and the voices chosen to represent each character fit them perfectly. Seina and the mysterious blonde woman who rescued him are perfectly suited to their animated persona. The S.A.V.E.: Super Amazing Value Edition contains all 26 episodes of the series on eight DVDs. Who would have thought that bad luck could wind up being good luck for Anime lovers?


The third series is my favorite-mainly because I’m a graphic artist and the design and execution of Phantom: Requiem For The Phantom series is so well plotted, designed and executed. The soundtrack amplifies the action without detracting from it. The visual ‘feel’ of the series really captures the mood of the piece with its fast editing, sudden close-ups, orchestrated fight scenes and disturbing premise.


Phantom revolves around a 15-year old Japanese boy who is captured and wakes up in a room that is sparsely decorated. He doesn't know how he got there, where his is and most importantly-who he is. He wakes up with a feeling of imminent danger-a feeling that proves justified when he escapes his room and finds himself stalked by a masked and armed assailant.


He has become part of a bold experiment that molds his mind and body into the ultimate killing machine: bereft of his own feelings and totally loyal to the crime syndicate Inferno-or so it appears.


His partner (and almost assassin) is Ein, a young girl trained to kill like he is. As the violence escalates around them the boy (now named Zwei) begins to draw closer to her and to question his mission.


His past slowly beings to reveal itself, through upsetting dreams and visions. It is only a matter of time before he learns the truth and when he does –there will be Hell to pay. Will Zwei turn against Inferno and will Ein follow his example? That’s the questions posed by the series.


Phantom is both disturbing and compelling with its violence, moody atmosphere and intriguing story. The Blu-ray/DVD Combo pack contains the complete series along with complete commercials and trailers.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Justice League: Doom


Things start out with a bang as the Justice League and Cyborg investigate a robbery being perpetrated by the Royal Flush Gang. After a long and spectacular fight the Justice League members discover the Royal Flush Gang is in possession of technology years ahead of anything currently available.


The Justice League defeat the gang and leave. Unbeknownst to Batman he carries an unwanted passenger in the Batmobile.


Arriving at the Batcave, Batman is ushered off by Alfred for food, medical attention and rest. As the lights go out in the Batcave the Mirror Master reveals himself hidden in the Batmobile’s rear view mirror. He proceeds to the Bat computer and downloads some vital information.


Several hours later each Justice League member is incapacitated by various villains who exploit their weaknesses-weaknesses discovered in Batman’s computer files.


Bruce Wayne is accosted and buried alive by Bane. He manages to escape and with Wonder Woman, recently rescued by Cyborg, they free the other Justice League members from their various traps and injuries.


Following a tracking program that leads them to Batman’s lost computer files they encounter Vandal Savage and his new compatriots, Bane, Cheetah, Mirror Master, Metallo and other nemesis of the Justice League.


The Justice League manage to subdue the villains but not before vandal Savage sends a rocket to the Sun in order to trigger a solar flair that will destroy half of the Earth’s population.


The justice League and Cyborg must work as team in order to stop Vandal’s rocket-but can they put aside their distrust of Batman after they discover he was the one responsible for strategizing their incapacities that was exploited by Vandal Savage?


Justice League: Doom from Warner Bros. Animation is the ultimate superheroes versus supervillains slugfest which a storyline culled from several comic books published by DC Comics in the past. The dialogue is crisp, the action frenetic and the animation first-rate.


The Blu-ray features several documentaries and a sneak peek at the soon to be released Superman Vs. The Elite animated movie.

Alter Ego #107, February


Batman artists Jim Mooney and Dick Sprang’s careers are spotlighted with lots of art from their DC years and other comic book work. Tony Tallarico discovers that working in comic books sometimes requires a tie and business acuity, read about The Mystery Of The Missing Letter, Martin Filchock celebrates his 100th birthday and relive 1960s comicdom fandom. Talk about nerd pictures and vintage art!


Gene Colan is remembered as is Dave Hoover, Alter Ego looks into the Marvel Family archives, Roy Ald is interviewed and don’t forget to check out TwoMorrows Publishing's upcoming titles.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Immortals


Theseus, the bastard son of a disgraced village woman, has been trained since childhood by the old man of the village to be a warrior.

Unbeknownst to him, the father of the gods, disguised as the old man, has been preparing him for the upcoming conflict between the freed Titans and the gods, set in motion by the stealing of the Epirus Bow.

King Hyperion, furious at the gods because of the loss of his wife and child, is determined to find the bow, free the Titans and destroy the gods. His power-mad schemes include destroying all those that worship the gods and setting himself as the ruler over all.


When Theseus’s village is ransacked by Hyperion’s troops and his mother is brutally murdered by Hyperion before his eyes, Theseus loses hope until he and his fellow prisoners are freed by the beautiful Oracle and her three sisters.


The Oracle has foreseen Theseus’s future and is determined to guide him to the bow and ultimately the defeat of Hyperion.


As the epic unfolds, massive brutal battles are fought; strange mystic lands are explored and in the final battle determines the fate of the gods and mankind. It is a movie of epic promotions with horrific battle scenes, stunning visual effects and vast vistas. Mickey Rourke shines as the evil Hyperion and John Hurt stars as the god disguised as the old man.


Immortals comes on Blu-ray/ DVD/Digital Copy and includes an alternate opening, two alternate endings, featurettes, deleted scenes and more from 20th Century Fox.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Previews, March

Diamond Previews has lots of new collectibles coming your way.  Here's just a few.

Comic books include Star Wars: Darth Vader The Ghost Prison, Batman Incorporated, The Devil's Engine, Batman: Earth One, Star Trek/Doctor Who, Mind The Gap, Exiled, Earth Two, World's Finest, Dial H, G.I. Combat, The Ravagers, Batman Annual, Animal Annual, Teen Titans Annual, Smallville Season 11, Superman Family Adventures, Frankenstein Alive, Alive, Trio, Danger, Epic Kill, Grim Reaper, Higher Earth, The Spider, Hulk Smash Avengers, Marvel Zombies Destroy, The Call Of Wonderland, Airboy, Garfield, X-O Manowar and Killer Loop.

Magazines and books to read are Batman: The World Of The Dark Knight, Book Of SIth, White Cloud Worlds, Batmobile: The Complete History, The Dark Knight Manual and The Book Of Alien.

Trading cards to collect include James Bond 50th Anniversary, The Hunger Games and NCIS.

Toys to play with are Marvel Select: Iron Man, Batman: Arkham City, DC Universe All Stars, Grimm Fairy Tales, Spider-Man Movie, Avengers Movie, Avengers Hero, Doctor Who, Predator, Star Wars, Transformers, Star Trek, Final Fantasy and Godzilla.

Play with these games: Doctor Who, Mage Wars, DC Heroclix: War Of Lights, Marvel Heroclix: Giant Size X-Men and The Lord Of The Rings.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Monsuno


In conjunction with several other companies, Topps Trading Cards has created a Trading Card Game based on the popular, 52 episode, anime series, Monsuno.

Monsuno centers on a group of children who have the power to control powerful and destructive creatures in the defense of planet Earth. Using the beasts’ incredible abilities the youths guard against threats posed by aliens and other dastardly forces that seek to overpower the Earth and use it and its people for their own nefarious schemes.


Targeted primarily to boys 6 to 11, Monsuno will be available in Starter Decks and Foil Packs.


Starter Decks contain 32 Cards with one Foil Card. Starter Sets contain two Starter Decks, a 12-Card Booster Pack, a Foil Card and Rules.


With its four levels of rarity, dazzling art, Foil Parallel Cards and exciting gameplay, Monsuno can be played with or without Jakks Pacific Monsuno toys and is synchronized with the popular anime series.


Here just a few of the Cards I received. They include Lock, Charger, Glowblade, Grappling Blast, Trade-Strikes, Beam Force, Collapsed Drill Attack, Upgrade, Mantle Shield and Restraining Siege. Dozens of other Cards are available with 156 Cards in the Set.

Plague Town


Things started out innocently enough. In the small town of Redwood Grove what looks like a severe case of the flu is spreading throughout the populace. Antibiotics and other medicine are administered and as expected some of the symptoms disappear-briefly.

The sickness ravages the townsfolk killing them in a violent rush of blood from their eyes and nostrils and strangulation. They complain they are hungry, and then die. Only they don’t stay dead. Suddenly their eyes open and if any non-infected person is unfortunate enough to be near them they attack and start feeding. Not the best of ways to start the day.


Ashley Parker and her boyfriend were not expecting to be attacked by zombies. When Ashley awakes she discovers that she somehow survived the zombie attack-her boyfriend did not. It seems Ashley has immunity to the virus that converts innocent townsfolk into rotting, shambling, flesh-eating zombies.


Surprised at her own ferocity to survive she is equally surprised when she is recruited by a shadowy paramilitary organization (that includes her sexy instructor). Ashley hones her killer skills and with the others sets out to stop the zombie invasion.


Part Buffy The Vampire Slayer and part action adventure, Plague Town by San Franciscan author Dana Fredsti, is a unique take on the zombie phenomenon. As a screenplay writer Dana uses her writing skills to play out the Plague Town story much like a movie. Scenes swiftly change, characters are fully developed in a relatively short period of time and the action never lets up. Around every turn are new surprises or dangers and the fast-paced story kept me glued to each page.


Plague Town from Titan Books is the first in a new series that if it isn’t made into a movie should at least be considered as a TV series-it’s that good.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Fangoria #311, March


Roger Corman’s classic Poe tales are examined. Vincent Price holding Peter Lorre’s head graces the cover of this issue of Fangoria-the Winner of the 2011 Magazine Of The Year ‘This Is Horror’.

Monsters invade with Sweet Prudence & The Erotic Adventures Of Bigfoot, Night Of The Living Dead 2012, Massacred By Mother Nature, El Monstro Del Mari and Inkubus.


Fill out your Chopping List with the latest DVDs and Blu-rays, Nicholas Cage is proving himself to be the Master Of Horror, catch Rabies, find terror with Absentia, the Devil rocks, you get one shot at survival with Silent House and Dark Shadows returns.


Serve up some fear at the Horror Café, Matinee recalls horrors from the past, Lucio Fulci unleashed vampires with Barbara Bouchet and read up on some Horror Confidential and Notes From The Underground.

The Darkness II

Over a decade ago Marc Silvestri’s Top Cow Studios introduced a new comic book character to the world and comicdom has never been the same sense. The Darkness stars Jackie Estacado, a loner, who was a hitman for the Mob. When Jackie turned 21 he inherited a mysterious power called the Darkness. The Darkness existed before the creation of the universe. When God created light, the Darkness was none too happy about it and set about creating chaos and death through the universe as a way of revenge.


Every generation a human wields the power of The Darkness. They become a human vessel by which The Darkness can kill, maim and destroy. To be the holder of The Darkness would seem to be the perfect fit for Jackie-not so. While it affords him unlimited power-almost that of a god, there is a price to pay.


Jackie slowly, inevitably began to lose his humanity-turning into an empty shell that The Darkness could control completely...and it liked it that way.


Until, Jackie falls head over heels in love with Jenny. Unfortunately Jackie turned against the Mob and in retaliation the Mob kills Jenny-big mistake.


This is where The Darkness II begins. Deprived of his one true love Jackie has no reason to live and after holding The Darkness in check for so many years he relents and The Darkness manifests itself stronger than ever. Hungry for revenge against the Mob and humanity The Darkness goes on a rampage of death, destruction and vengeance as Jackie’s humanity slowly slips away.


The Darkness II Limited Edition from 2K Games is not for the timid or faint of heart. It’s bloody, gory, violent and horrific-just the way The Darkness likes it. It’s dark and twisted storyline is perfect for the new ability The Darkness II allows players to utilize.


While eviscerating, disemboweling and generally causing a ruckus Jackie can fire his trademark twin pistols while at the same time using the sinister, dark and destructive power of The Darkness tendrils.


Objects and people can be thrown and ripped apart-the more creative you are with The Darkness power the more points you earn allowing you to purchase certain arcane upgrades such as Demon Arm, Darkness Powers, Hitman Upgrades and Execution.


Intermingled in the game is the machinations of The Brotherhood who were, in part, were responsible for The Darkness once again emerging from Jackie. They seek to use The Darkness power for themselves-only it backfired.


The Darkness II is a stunning accomplishment with its sinister tone, chilling and cleverly created special effects, fast-paced game play, ultra violence and huge game play scenarios.


This is not a game for kids-it is extremely violent and gory and is best left for the seasoned gamer to play. The Limited Edition comes with character ability upgrades, a custom illustration by Marc Silvestri and free digital downloads of The Darkness Origins Volume 1 and Volume 2 comics.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Antique Trader Antique Collectibles 2012 Price Guide 28th Edition

I collect antiques.  Shoot, I'm an antique-I'm almost 60.  Maybe I'll even be worth something someday.

As any antique collector it pays to be educated.  It's impossible to know everything about ever type of collectible.  That's why it pays to have a reliable price guide and reference book. You can't do any better than the Antique Trader Antiques Collectibles Price Guide.

The 2012 Price Guide 28th Edition from Krause Publications just came out and it is packed with full-color photos of collectibles ranging from advertising items to Zippo lighters.  Each category is fully explained, including the history of each.  Selected samples from each category are shown, along with current prices accompanied by a short description of each.

Besides being extremely informative the book is fun to look through. Talk about reliving childhood memories!  This is THE book about collectibles that is trusted by collectors the world over.  Also included is a new feature: Top Lots, that highlights the best selling results from auctions.  So get out there and start collecting!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Lost Planet 2 And Resident Evil 5 Gold Edition



Capcom recently released two video games that are sure to chill your blood and pump up your adrenalin.


It’s been 10 years since the Lost Planet: E.D.N III was discovered by space faring astronauts. Since that time it has successfully been terraformed and most of its frozen wastelands have melted. Lush green forests and arid deserts have appeared and with them come a whole new threat.


Players explore the new terraformed planet as heroes across six interconnected episodes. Various environments wait in each episode along with some of the most imaginative and deadly creatures ever created for a video game (check out the behemoth rock creature Akrid ). At times it seems as if the entire planet itself is out to kill its unwelcome visitors.


Multi-player equipped-game players can also play online with up to four players. A wide range of equipment, vehicles and weapons are available including the heavily armored Vital Suits. These babies pack enough muscle and firepower to take on just about any threat.


Players ply their way through the various levels and challenges in a kill or be killed war against a planet and its ferocious inhabitants and othere Earthers in a deadly game of survival.


Players can customize their characters, pick up weapons and equipment as they proceed through the game, take on a huge variety of deadly enemies, be rewarded for their team efforts and have the ability to use their Vital Suits in ways never possible before.


Lost Planet 2 is filled with lush and exotic landscapes rendered in a photo-realistic style. Characters are well designed with fluid motions and unique personal attributes. The entire game grabs the player and pulls them into its foreboding, but somehow compelling, world-a world that just as deadly as it is beautiful.


Game play is fast, filled with unexpected surprises, cohesive and laid out in full 360 degree splendor.


The year is 2009. Umbrella was destroyed six years previously and key player, Chris Redfield, has become a major member of B.S.A.A.- the Biohazard Security Assessment Alliance.


His latest assignment takes him to Africa where he investigates a possible smuggling operation involving Bio Organic Weapons. His new partner in the investigation is Sheva Alomar.


They are to meet up with Alpha Team to intercept the smuggler Ricardo Irving. Things go from bad to worse when Irving is assassinated and a whole village of infected majini ascends upon them.


A surviving member of Alpha Team gives them a file and before them can blink an eye they are confronted by a new kind of virus infected creature. Events proceed as they kill the creature, meet up with Delta team, are given critical information containing research material, Chris discover his lost partner: Jill Valentine may be alive and things cascade into even more sinister and dark levels of espionage, secret agendas and deadly secrets.


Resident Evil 5 Gold Edition continues the story line introduced in earlier versions. The horror and mystery levels are bumped up a notch or two as Chris Redfield, his new team, old acquaintances and enemies battle over the very existence of humanity as they know it.


Look for lots of weaponry, incredible environments both-interior and exterior, fully-developed characters and so much action, danger and excitement you’ll need a tranquilizer to calm down after each deadly encounter.


Single, team or online play affords players encounters with new enemies, new abilities (including healing), a vast array of weapons, transports and equipment and a huge variety of environments.


Graphics are lush with realistic lighting, eye-shattering sound effects, incredible visual effects and plenty of twists and turns both in the different levels and in the storyline itself.


The Gold Edition offers additional episodes, new costumes, more challenges and new characters. It’s the best of all the Resident Evil games all rolled into one.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Mural Of Love


I admit it. I’m a Facebook neophyte. After some cajoling by my kids and wife I set up a Facebook account so I could keep up with relatives. Good thing too because my daughter and her husband decided to take a year-long sabbatical and travel the U.S.A. and my son and his wife moved to Rhode Island. My wife and I were able to keep up with them.


On our last vacation I used Facebook to set up arrangements and keep in touch with my relatives up in Michigan. I use Facebook mainly for communication. I’ve never really used the various Apps that are included with it. Games don’t interest me and I’ve never taken the time to take advantage of the various ‘extras’ that can be used through Facebook-until now.


Recently I was introduced to The Mural Of Love and I’m hooked.


Here’s how it works. The Mural Of Love allows you to send cool Dedications and Gifts (using a wide range of graphics) to friends and loved ones. There are templates and graphics for all occasions. Some are free; some take coins that you can earn by signing up for newsletters and various Facebook accessories usage and services and purchases. I just sent a Peace Lizard to my kids and I plan on sending a bunch of birthday greetings to various relatives and friends.


The Mural Of Love is a lot of fun whether you post on people’s walls, keep it private or let everyone on your Facebook page see what you are up to.


The Mural Of Love is not only fun to use but a kick to look at. You can’t help but giggle at some of the hilarious graphics. Send and receive Dedications and you can even create custom ones. You’ll never run out of graphics and ideas. Simply look for The Mural Of Love on Facebook, (http://apps.facebook.com/themural/), sign-up and before you know it your “Dedicating” a lot of your time to sending customized messages to family and friends.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

ArtRage Studio Pro 3.5

I teach drawing and Commercial Art/Computer Graphics at a local high school. Before that I was a graphic designer for 25 years so I know the importance of good drawing media and computer software. Without the proper tools it makes my job much more difficult.


One of the frustrations I’ve dealt with over the years is computer drawing software. Don’t get me wrong there are some great programs out there with lots of features. But, so many of them are so complicated and difficult to navigate and to find the proper tools that at times they can be frustrating.


When I was in Commercial Art as a professional, time was of the essence. Deadlines were king and I didn’t always have the time to sit down, read through volumes of instruction manuals, drone through tutorials and attend classes or seminars on how to use particular programs.


Often I would hit the ground running and try my best to learn as I went.


My biggest complaint with computer drawing programs is that none of them, at the time, had friendly interfaces. What I look for in a program is ease-of-use, easy navigation, recognizable icons that show me exactly what tool I’m using, easy switch-over from tool to tool, a wide range of effects such as textures, blending etc. and the ability to move swiftly. “Time is money” as I tell my students.


ArtRage Studio Pro 3.5 delivers all of that and much more. From the moment I pulled the ArtRage screen up on my computer monitor I immediately began using the program. Tools are easy to spot. The effects are immediate. A wide range of drawing tools and media are available and with a few simple clicks I was able to switch from one to the other.


Paint and brushes allowed me to blend and move my colors about as if they were real pigments on paper or canvas. I was able to control the amount of pigment used, easily change colors, effects and even the surfaces painted on.


In an instant I was able to go from sketching mode to inks, paints or whatever other media I choose. ArtRage even has crayon and chalk!


I can transform images, bring images in, save in several formats, customize my tool settings, select specific area of an image or images, pick colors, store color samples, use a Sticker Spray, create my own patterns, trace images (good for the novice artist), blend, create layers, blur, use various effect filters and when my workplace gets cluttered I can even make Pods to avoid using up too much space.


Another neat function is when I moved my drawing or painting tool about tool or function panels would disappear in order to get out my way. Very handy. There’s nothing worse than having a cluttered screen and trying to work around pull down tool panels.


I have several drawing and computer graphic classes and I plan on recommending ArtRage Studio Pro 3.5 to my students. It’s the perfect computer software drawing tool that makes drawing on the computer enjoyable. It can used with a mouse, computer drawing tablet, touch screen or other computer interface. It takes the frustration out of spending too much time learning a program instead of using it.

That’s not to say ArtRage Studio Pro 3.5 is a simple program. It is a well thought out, thorough and professional piece of software obviously designed by designers who understand the importance of creativity and spontaneity. Well done ArtRage.

Friday, February 3, 2012

I'm about to write a review for something I've never written a review about before. I've written reviews for Greenlight Collectible's many times before-for its small scale die-cast vehicles. 

What I've never written a review for is for a large scale (1:18) Greenlight Collectibles' die-cast vehicle.  This is a first and what a first it is.

Talk about starting out with a bang!  Greenlight has just released a 1:18 Scale, Limited Edition, 1968 Ford Mustang 2+2 Fastback and it's a beaut!

Painted a metallic blue, the two-door Mustang is decorated with gold GO GO GONE side decals in along with Jimbo's Pure Oil verbiage, also in gold.  A large white stripe begins at the front of the car and ends about 3/4 of the way back on the chassis and then turns back to the middle of the doors. 

Chrome trim lines all the windows and covers the bumpers, mirrors, grill, lights and door handles.  Side vents behind the passengers give the Fastback the look of appearing in motion even when standing still. 

A wide back stripe runs down the middle of the hood.  The rear hatchback opens revealing a surprising amount of storage room.

Open the front hood and a complete engine comes into view.  Hoses, belts, components, a battery and all the other usual engine parts are recreated in perfect detail, right down to the colors! 

Flip the car over and a drive train, muffler system and accurate undercarriage details, such as an oil pan, shocks, struts and additional undercarriage components are all there. Rubber tires are mounted on solid black wheels with chrome interiors.

Take a peek inside and you'll discover a solid black interior with a working steering wheel that actually turns the front wheels.  Twin bucket seats with a gold tip gear shift between them are accompanied by a full instrument panel, gas, brake and clutch pedals, interior door and window handles, side speakers, rear speakers, silver door trim, a single rear seat and seatbelts.  Talk about detail!

The car comes in an attractive display box with side and front clear panels with a Mustang background photo.  The car is held in place by a plastic full-body sleeve, protective front and rear plastic sleeves and a plastic strip securing the doors shut.  All-in-all this is one sweet diecast and I'm glad I had the opportunity to review it.

Fu-Manchu And Houdini

Titan Books present two new series of books.  One is an authorized reprint of a world famous series. The other is a brand new collection of stories starring a past world famous magician.

The Mystery Of Dr. Fu-Manchu and The Return Of Dr. Fu-Manchu stars Sax Rohmer's super-villain Fu-Manchu the sinister agent of the Si-Fan League Of Assassins.

The first of the Fu-Manchu novels, The Mystery Of Dr. Fu-Manchu follows the Asian assassin as he vies for leadership of the League Of Assassins and outwits Commissioner Denis Nayland Smith and his assistant Dr. Petrie.

Fu-Manchu is credited as being the blueprint for such sinister villains as James Bond's Doctor No and Smith and Petrie make admirable comparisons to Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

In The Return Of Dr. Fu-Manchu the 'Devil Doctor' returns to London to subvert the British government and have Chine gain its rightful place as the leader of the world-with him in charge.

Each volume features an essay by Leslie S. Klinger, the author behind the new annotated Sherlock Holmes and Dracula books.

The Harry Houdini Mysteries, written by Daniel Stashower, contain brand new adventures of the most famous magician of all time.

The adventures of the young Houdini starts with The Dime Museum Murders.  The young struggling Houdini is trying to break into the entertainment industry in New York City in the latter part of the 19th Century.

Called upon to solve the murder of a toy manufacturer, Harry and his brother Dash discover the victim was seemingly killed by a magic trick.

In The Floating Lady Murders Houdini investigates what went wrong with his master's latest magic trick.  Along with his brother Dash and his wife Bess, Houdini must solve the mystery how his master's assistant died from drowning rather from a fatal fall. 

Super Incredible, Who Loves And Pirate Tale

Mom's Choice Awards Honoring Excellence Choice recipient I See Me! books presents a quartet of books that makes children the stars of its books.

Writer Jennifer Dewing and illustrator Jill McDonald present two The Super Incredible books.  One celebrates becoming a big brother, the other being a new big sister. 

Both contain clever art that appears like paper cutouts and can have the name of a specific child printed in key points of each story. Now that's cool!

Who Loves...?  by writer Jennifer Dewing and illustrated by Maria Carluccio, celebrates the life of a child and how important he or she is to those that love them.  It glorifies the child by comparing them to all things around him or her, concluding they are worth far more than the universe around them to those who care for them.

My Very Own Pirate Tale by Maia Haag and Lisa Falkenstein allows children to imagine being a pirate and visiting with various sea animals and creatures.  Visit a desert isle and play the coin game using the images from the Sea Animal Encyclopedia.

The book makes for a delightful tale of imagination kids are sure to love.

Star Trek: The Rings Of Time


I love reading or watching time travel stories. I love the original Star Trek TV series. So, it should come as no surprise if you combine the two together I’m in sci-fi heaven.


All five of the Star Trek TV series and movies involved time travel at one point or another. But, to me, the original series did it best. Who can forget the classic City On The Edge Of forever?

In the new Pocket Books Star Trek novel: The Rings Of Time, Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise once again have to deal with time travel and its repercussions throughout the time stream.


While on a rescue mission to save a mining colony stationed on one of the moons of a ringed planet almost identical to our own Saturn, the Enterprise encounters a strange space buoy. The buoy appeared just as the planet’s rings began to deteriorate.


Beaming the buoy aboard, Captain Kirk touches it and is immediately transported to the past where a similar incident is happening to Saturn.


Switching bodies with one of the crew members of the first spacecraft to explore Saturn, Kirk finds himself trapped in the past while the crew member of the Saturn spaceship finds himself in the far future.


The Earth crew of the past had witnessed the same alien probe as Saturn’s rings contracted. One of their crew went to investigate the alien probe, touched it, and…..


Both Kirk and the Saturn mission crew member find themselves trapped, in another person’s body, with no way of knowing how to return safely to their own times, who sent the probe and why both ringed planets’ rings began to decay.


The Rings Of Time is a rip-roaring romp through the corridors of time that delivers plenty of thrills, unexpected events and good old-fashioned fun. Rings Of Time is written by Greg Cox.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

P.H.J. 101 GroBer Hund

From Hasegawa Hobby Kits’ Series MK05 comes its Maschinen Krieger, Strahl Demokratische Republik P.H.J. 101 GroBer Hund, 1:20 Scale Humanoid Unmanned Interceptor model kit.

Fashioned after the infamous AFS, the model kit is a high-tech mobile weapon bristling with armor and armament bringing a whole new level of destruction to the battlefield.

Roughly humanoid in appearance, the Interceptor is a veritable one man army with its heavy armor, various weapons and unswerving drive to battle.

The model kit parts come on 13 part trees. Parts detach easily with little or no flashing-trim work is at a minimum. Glue, paint and decal application is necessary but with the enclosed detailed instruction none should be a problem. Once completed the Interceptor stands freely on its own and makes and impressive display.

The Interceptor comes packaged in an unconventional box consisting of non-gloss card stock. The illustration of the Interceptor on the front looks slightly dull which fits perfectly with its military use.

The entire package gives the impression of a standard issue military supply box-pretty clever.

Winter Soldier #1

Bucky Barnes is back. It seems he didn’t die as previously thought after taking the mantle of Captain America. Mortally wounded, Bucky somehow managed to survive and has teamed with former Soviet spy the Black Widow.

Both Bucky Barnes (Winter Soldier) and Natasha Romanova/Romanoff (Black Widow) were used by the Russians during the Cold War to eliminate its enemies. Natasha defected to the U.S. and Bucky was freed from his brainwashing by Captain America using the fractured Cosmic Cube.


Haunted by the memories of his past, Bucky has made it his mission to hunt down and stop any Soviet or Nazi threats that may still exist as a way to make up for his past misdeeds-even though he had no control over them.


In issue #1 Winter Soldier and Black Widow break into a sleeper Soviet installation only to discover they are too late to stop another sleeper ultimate soldier.


Unbeknownst to them the Red Ghost and his super apes have freed the ‘Zephr’ agents in order to exact revenge on Doctor Doom as planned by his former Minister: Madame Lucia Von Bardas, who is now a disfigured cyborg.


Winter Soldier is written by Ed Brubaker and drawn by Butch Guice-past team mates on Captain America. Brubaker’s script, like his Captain America stories, is filled with intrigue, unexpected twists and turns and lots of action. Butch Guice’s pencils have never looked better.


Marvel Comics appears to be getting wind back in its sails and if Winter Soldier is any indication, Marvel is headed in the right direction.