Popular Culture Collectibles Reviews

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Joyful Noise



For a rip-roarin' good time and lots of toe-tappin' and sing along music be sure to pick up a copy of Warner Bros. new Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy Combo of the hit musical/comedy, Joyful Noise.

When a small church loses its choir director chances look slim for the choir to win the National Joyful Noise gospel choir play-offs.  The choir director's widow (GiGi) naturally assumes she will take over (played by the ever effervescent Dolly Parton) but she is passed over for the tough as nails, traditionalist Vi (played to perfection by Queen Latifah).

Sparks fly as the two directly opposed stubborn women face off as to what direction the choir should take (traditional or contemporary) in order to win.

If things weren't prickly enough between the two, GiGi's wild grandson returns to town and has eyes for Vi's sixteen old daughter.  While the teenagers hit it off, GiGi and Vi almost comes to blows.  Thankfully cooler heads prevail and the two patch up their differences and take the choir to the Nationals.  What results is one of the most inspiring movie musical performances ever seen on the Silver Screen.  

Included with the Joyful Noise Combo Pack are featurettes about the music and the cast along with deleted scenes, a "Live" concert and more.  Make a Joyful Noise!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Buffalo, Cobra And Honda


If you have the 'need for speed' then Hasegawa Hobby Kits has just the models for you: two airplanes and one motorcycle.

Get twice the aircraft for your money when you purchase Hasegawa's F2A-2/3 Buffalo U.S. Navy/Marine (2 kits) Limited Edition. Choose you paint scheme and decals.

In 1939 the Buffalo beat out the Wildcat to become the Navy's first fighter aircraft.  Although the feisty little aircraft didn't quite live up to expectations it still generated enough interest to make it a mainstay in several other countries air forces.

Several changes were made to the aircraft to improve its performance when it entered Navy service.  However the craft proved too heavy, under-performed and was easily shot down by faster Japanese Zeroes.  After a short stint with the Marines the aircraft retired from U.S. service.  It did however find new life overseas, primarily in Finland. 

Equipped with heavy armor and additional fuel tank the Buffalo had little firepower.  Not a large aircraft, it did boast retractable landing gear, a sleek (yet small) body and a distinctive profile.  Scaled at 1:72, the Buffalo model requires glue, paint and decal application.  Parts detach easily from part trees with little or no flashing and fit snuggly together with minimal fuss.

The 1/48 Scale P-39Q Air Cobra Thompson Trophy Race Limited Edition aircraft is a yellow bullet with its sleek aerodynamic design, four blade prop and air scoop mounted behind the cockpit.

Like the Buffalo the Cobra model requires glue, decals and assembly.  Easy to follow instructions make assembly uncomplicated and parts detach cleanly from part trees with little flashing and minimal trimming.

The P-39Q Air Cobra was made for the Army.  The engine was installed behind the cockpit (thus the air scoop) and a cannon fired through the propeller.  Its unusual design, that included a tricycle landing configuration, did create problems and thus hindered its performance.

Despite several modifications the aircraft proved unreliable.  It did show up in air shows years later with its original configuration and won The Thompson Trophy Race.

For some land base speed be sure to check out Hasegawa's 1/12 Scale Scot Racing Team Honda RS250RW 2007 Limited Edition motorcycle model. This crotch rocket performs at incredible speeds and with its wraparound design the driver and vehicle become practically one unit.

Packed out with a V-2, liquid cooled, telescopic suspension and oversize rear tires this baby can fly!  The winner of scores of competitions, the Team Honda RS250RW is a black and yellow ball of lightning as it races around the track to victory!

The model kit parts come on several trees and belts and tires are rubber.  This ain't no little kid model.  It takes a steady hand and expertise to make this model the way it should be made.  Do you have the skills?  

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Wall Tracks


I know a lot of adults and kids who love Hot Wheels and other small die-cast vehicles.  Many keep one sample in the package and buy a second to play with.  The one problem they all seem to have is-lack of space.  

There's only so much floor space available to lay out Hot Wheels tracks-that's floor space. Take heart die-cast lovers.  Now you'll have all the room you need to place your tracks and play with your vehicles.

Mattel introduces Wall Tracks-the only tracks that you can mount to your wall for all sorts of vertical fun!

Completely safe for walls with Command Brand for damage free hanging from 3M, you can now lay out some of the wildest and outrageous tracks imaginable.

Start things off with the Wall Track Starter Set that features a Loading Ramp, Diverter Switch, 360 Degree Loop, Flap Ramp, Bust Through Wall, Jump Through Gates and a Steep Drop that tests any die-cast vehicle lovers skills.  A free Hot Wheels vehicle comes with the set that can be combined with other sets for some real wall hanging action.

The Wall Tracks Mid-Air Madness set comes with a full color poster for hanging behind your Wall Track set up and free Hot Wheels car.

Connect it with other sets and with its Motorized Booster send your vehicles flying upward into the Crash Zone or the Jump Up Wall, down the Speed Tunnel and down the Downhill Drop.  

Wall Tracks can expand anywhere you have wall space and with a little imagination there's no stopping the action.

TV, VW And GI


Call me a nostalgic old coot but I love memorabilia, especially old TV show memorabilia. That’s why I’m so fascinated and pleased by Schiffer Publishing’s new book by Dian Zillner: Collectible Television Memorabilia with Value Guide.


Suzanne Silverthorn provides the color photos for this delightful new book that lists alphabetically old TV shows, their origins and spotlighted pop culture memorabilia items ranging from toys to games and more. Talk about a walk down Memory Lane!


This is what collector dreams are made of-I wish I had a fraction of the items shown in this wonderful book.


As a Baby Boomer I was born not too long after World War II. I have vivid memories of the seeing and listening to veterans of WWII talk about their personal memories of the war. Often while visiting friends and family a Vet would pull out their old foot locker and show off various G.I. items they used or collected from the wear.


World War Iii was a time of national pride and a pulling together of both the troops and civilians. Everyone was into the war effort and we became a true nation of patriots. I loved (and still do) the many items used by the G.I., the many publication and items produced for the war for the folks who stayed at home and the various mass market consumables.


Inside you’ll see everything used by the troops from toothpaste to weapons, various publications put out during the war and so much more. Like the war itself this book is big, packed full of surprises and a treasure trove of Patriotic bric-a-brac.


Who would ever think that a car first produced by the Nazi during World War II would proliferate and create a whole new fan base of collectors and fans?


I had no idea that there is so much VW Bug memorabilia out there! Matt Meyer does and so he produced a new book called VW Beetle Toys. Inside the book you’ll see full color photos of every kind of VW Bug diecast and toy, comic books and even wooden toys. Also included is a Price Guide.

Beautiful, Slavery, Medal And Birds


Five new (DVDs/Blu-rays) have just been released from Mill Creek Entertainment and they cover a wide range of subjects.


With summer fast approaching vacation is just around the corner. Why settle for a domestic vacation when you can travel overseas and surround and immerse yourself in the different cultures of various foreign nations?


Here’s few suggestions, check out Spain, Portugal, France and Italy. But before you do pop in a couple of DVDs/Blu-rays for Mill Creek that offer high definition tours of the architecture, countryside, people, places and things of Spain, Portugal, France and Italy. Immerse yourself in the lush surroundings of each country as you tour the many wonders (both man-made and natural) of these four nations.


You’ll feel almost as if your feet have touched down in each exotic location. You can practically smell, taste and touch the surroundings. What better way to prepare for a real trip than to take virtual trips to four countries and experience all each have to offer?


Up From Slavery is a 7-part documentary that explores slavery in the United States. For nearly 400 years black slaves were used in one capacity or another to build the greatest FREE nation in the world while they themselves suffered unimaginable torment, punishment and deprivation.


Families were torn apart, brutal conditions tested their mettle and most were treated worse than animals and often lived in conditions even animals would shun.


Using historical documents and photographs coupled with a compelling narrative, Up From Slavery brings the true horrors of slavery in the United States to life and viewers will never be the same again after watching the series.


War and conflict can make heroes of everyday ordinary men and women. In The Medal Of Honor acts of valor as performed by United States military personnel are remembered beginning with the Civil War. The 6-part documentary traces back, recreates and recalls daring acts of bravery, sacrifice and valor that demonstrates the best of the best in our troops and personnel.


Discover the history of The Medal OF Honor and thelives brave men and women who earned it and their stories.


There’s nothing like waking up early in the morning and hearing the shrill call of the robin, mocking bird, blue jay or other wild bird. Their songs bring a sense of peace and contentment to one’s mind and heart and a feeling that all is right in the world.


In Secret Life Of Birds, the 5-part series takes flight into the enchanting world of birds as chronicled by JoJo Williams. Travel with Williams as he tacks the flights and lives of our avian friends through the countryside and urban areas.


Discover why birds migrate, how they learn to fly, their habits, habitats and their clever acts of survival.


So, spread your wings and join the birds of the world as they take flight, live life and take part in nature’s circle of life.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Color Monsters



Drawings scanned and colored in Photoshop.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

War Horse


It’s not very often that a movie comes around that offers a heartfelt tale of family, faith and perseverance. Such movies are few and far between, especially coming from Hollywood that seems more intent on producing big, flashy, special effects laden epics that barely manage to squeak by with PG 13 ratings.


Director Steven Spielberg has produced his share of such movies. But, as a scholar of cinema past, he appreciates the movies of yesteryear. He’s often said that many of his favorite films exude a strong moral feel with an emphasis on family and honor.


He delivers such a film with War House, a powerful tale of overcoming insurmountable odds, faith, perseverance and hope. Beautifully filmed, the movie reminds me of the family friendly films from the 1940s and 1950s with big sweeping outdoor vistas, memorable and lovable characters and a strong story ripe with moral teachings.


War Horse centers round Joey the horse and his long and sometimes dangerous journey through the war fields of WWI and his eventual reunion with his friend and master Albert.


The Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy contains several featurettes on the making of the film, commentaries, costumes, special effects and music/sounds.

It’s a great film for the family made by Dreamworks Pictures that is uplifting, magnificent and joyful.

Peanuts And Tom And Jerry



One of my favorite comic strips growing up was, and is, Peanuts starring Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Lucy and the rest of their pint-size gang of memorable characters.

Warner Bros. Animation has collected several animated shorts aptly entitled: Happiness Is…Peanuts Team Snoopy. In the collection it’s all about baseball and sports as the Peanuts gang once again get their hopes up in the chance that they may have a winning baseball season.


Hilarious moments are Lucy being traded, Peppermint Patty going on the road with her winning team, Charlie Brown attempting to learn bowling and the neighbor’s cat meeting its match with Snoopy’s older brother Spike.


For some good, clean family fun be sure to catch this brand new Peanuts collection.


Equally as fun, and a whole lot crazier, are the cat and mouse antics of Tom and Jerry as they travel Around The World through 22 slapstick episodes pitting the ever bumbling Tom the cat against his nemesis, the clever and cunning Jerry the mouse.

Tag along as Tom and Jerry travel to Broadway to outer space as the dueling duo tackle everything from conducting music to dancing and even take up fencing!

Pack your bags, buy your tickets and get ready for a around the world romp with Tim and Jerry as your guides. The DVD set is also offered from Warner Bros. Animation.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Body And Dad's Chair

Here's two properties I've created: the superhero group: The Body and the children's book characters: Dad's Chair.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Dare Detectives


Archaia presents the hardbound reprint of writer/artist Ben Caldwell’s hilarious detective tales, the first two volumes of: The Dare Detectives.

One-time crook Maria Dare has a dream-to go straight and create her very own detective agency. She figures with her criminal background she can crack criminal cases and make a decent living---right!


What Maria wound up with it is two partners that are anything but efficient and a business that can barely get by paying its bills.


Case in point-after a wild chase through Chinatown after Furious George on his flying vehicle, Maria and her two partners (Toby, the muscle man and JoJo the rabbit head wise guy) The Dare Detectives destroy a good portion of the town and as a result are stuck with horrendous bill and, worse yet, not enough money for rent.


But, somehow cases seem to fall into their laps and that’s just what happens when they meet up with their landlord-so begins The Snow-Pea Plot.


Things go from silly to ridiculous as The Dare Detectives face off against Madame Bleu and her Abominable Snowmen in a wild crime caper involving snow peas, old radios and the kidnapping of a chef.


It’s a wild and wacky ride as The Dare Detectives take on one their most ‘unusual’ cases. It’s classic cartoon shenanigans reminiscent of Warner Bros. and Jay Ward cartoons in some seriously funny slapstick and sinister fun. Included with the hardback reprint are sketches, covers and a commentary by the artist.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Fangoria #313, May


Johnny Depp flashes his teeth as Barnabus the vampire in Tim Burton's new Dark Shadows movie on the cover of Fangoria's latest magazine release. Monster Invasion visits The Devil's carnival, swoons over Lovely Molly and gleans some horror in The Fields.

Get out your Chopping List for the latest VDD and Blu-Ray releases, time to travel to the Theatre bizarre, actress Jenny Agutter reminisces about her role in An American Werewolf and the new Mother's day film brings a whole new meaning to a family bloodline.

John Cusack stars as Edgar Allan Poe, take out the worst films and place them in the Trash Compactor, Julian Sands looks back on his crazy days with Ken Russell, Fangoria remembers Dark Shadows, take a look at Dracula on a budget and there's nothing childlike and innocent about The Littlest Vampire.

Previews, May


Diamond Previews Catalog for May has some kickin' new products coming out this summer.  Here's just a few.

Comic books include Captain Marvel, Space Punisher, Muppets, X-Men X-Treme, Axe Cop, Before Watchmen, Darth Maul, Punk Rock Jesus, Crow, Revival, The Judas Coin, Eternity, He-Man, Debris, Enormous, Hoax Hunters, The Hypernaturals, Hero Worship and Bloodshot.

Magazines and books to read are Bill The Boy Wonder, Robert Crumb, Finding Nemo Kit and Knight Rider.

Fringe has a new trading card set.

Toys to play with include Batman, The Hobbit, KITT, Halo, Lego and The Avengers Movie.
Game on with Marvel Heroic, Star Trek HeroClix, Pirates Of The Spanish Main and Magic.

Iron Man And X-Men Anime


Anime is everywhere.  The Japanese form of animation has had a huge impact on animation and art all around the world.  Filled with symbolism, packed with both subtle and in-you-face sequences and laced with a slightly unworldly flavor, Anime has both changed and shaped contemporary American animation.

Sony Pictures have taken two of Marvel Comics iconic titles and transformed them into Anime while still retaining the essence of both.

Iron Man Anime sees Tony Stark about to retire his Iron Man armor and introduce a new consumer armor called Iron Man Dio while in Japan.  He's visiting the Land of The Rising Sun in order to implement his new Arc Generator that will provide unlimited free energy to the world.

The secretive Zodiac organization funded by A.I.M. has other plans.  They plan on stopping the Arc Generator project, stealing the new Iron Man Dio armor and eliminating Tony Stark.  It's all-out action and intrigue as Tony Stark must once again don his Iron Man armor in order to stop Zodiac and thwart A.I.M.'s nefarious plans.  

Included with the 288 minutes of action are several documentaries about Iron Man and his armor and interviews with the voice actors and a round table discussions with the series' creators.
The X-Men Anime DVD set finds the X-Men reunited after one of their own is killed and an associate of Professor X is kidnapped.  The X-Men come face-to-face with U-Men whose members steal mutant organs for transplant in order to increase and strengthen its own army.  

Long dead secrets are revealed altering the X-Men forever. Like the Iron Man Anime DVD set the X-Men Anime set includes lots of extras such as featurettes, the new Anime take on the team and interviews with the creators of the series.

Get ready for some Marvel Comics mayhem as only the X-Men and Iron Man can deliver it.  Fans of the popular comic books series will love the unique takes on two classic series and Anime lovers will get a kick out of Japanese visions of each iconic series.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Secret Service


What a combination! Edgy writer Mark Millar of Kick Ass, Superior, Super Crooks and Nemesis fame and artist Dave Gibbons (Watchmen artist extraordinaire) combine their considerable talents to produce a new ICON/Marvel Comics title: The Secret Service.

The story starts off with what appears to be a very James Bond like scenario-the rescue of a high-ranking kidnap victim. All goes well until a parachute goes bad--killing both the rescued and the rescuer.


Back in London two things are happening simultaneously. Young Gary has become fed up with his mother and her unsavory friends and decides to take a joy ride with his friends in a stolen car. They crash in a police pursuit and are arrested. Meanwhile Gary’s uncle: Jack London, is meeting with a member of the “Department” about the botched rescue mission. In the middle of their conversation he receives a text message. His sister is asking him to intervene in the arrest of his nephew Gary.


After an uncomfortable confrontation with his sister and nephew, Jack makes arrangements to free his nephew from police custody.


After Gary’s release Jack follows him back as he meets with his ruffian friends. An idea then strikes Jack and his and Gary’s lives will never be the same.


Leave it to writer Mark Millar to set in motion a story that captivates readers from the get-go. Dave Gibbon’s art is superb and together both he and Mark Millar manage to create an intriguing premise in one issue. Lots of questions are raised and I can’t wait for the answers.

America’s Got Powers


I despise reality TV shows. To me they are the lowest form of entertainment. They are great profit-makers for the TV networks as they don’t cost near as much as regular TV series. I’ve never understood why so many people get some perverse pleasure out of watching other people making complete fools of themselves. Go figure.


As much as I hate reality shows I love Image Comics’ new series by Jonathan Ross and Bryan Hitch: America’s Got Powers. Taking the whole concept of reality TV to an absurd level, the book centers on pitting superpower humans against one another along with challenges.


The story’s premise is that seventeen years ago a strange crystal anomaly lit up the San Francisco sky. As a result every woman in the Bay area who was pregnant (regardless of their term) painlessly gave birth. All the babies survived and gained super powers as they matured.


Fearing that the new super powered humans would get out of hand as they grew older, the government sets up a special arena show (much like the gladiators in the Roman Coliseum) that pits super being against super being in no holds-barred competitions.


By funneling the super youth’s pent up powers against one another the government successfully accomplishes two things. First is allows the government to monitor their strengths and weakness and control their use of their powers and it gives the general public a new form of entertainment.


But as most well laid plans it is about to fail—catastrophically! The military steps in order to indoctrinate the super youth for government use and things began to fall apart. And then along comes Tommy Watts, a supposed zero powered youth who works at a merchandise store at the arena.


Asked to work as game mascot one shift Tommy witnesses a super competition gone sour. After a series of mishaps the general public is left vulnerable to one of the game’s mechanized opponents. Tommy rushes in to save a child and then all hell breaks loose. It appears Tommy is not so zero powered after all. In fact, he may just be the most super-powered of them all and the crowd loves him. Thus is born Zero.


Great concept, great story and great art-now that’s the kind of reality show I like!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Back Issue #55, April


Comic book publishing is a business. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. Granted, it’s an entertainment business much like movies or video games. The world would not suddenly fall into ruin if comic books weren’t published, but it sure would be a much more boring place.

As a business a comic book company has to make money in order to survive. If a title does poorly it’s dropped from the publishing schedule. Often comic book companies will do tie-ins. Should a movie(s), TV serie(s) or novel(s) prove especially popular with the public comic book companies often adapt such material into comic book form. Complete series can result from the tie-ins. Although the comic book publisher has to pay royalties the profit made from said books can determine if a publisher sinks or swims.


Tie-ins are a huge part of today’s comic book industry. Dark Horse and IDW publish a number of tie-ins each such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Transformers, G.I. Joe, etc. Some comic book properties become successful movies or TV series and the title(s) on which they are based jump in readership and sometimes spawn additional titles (Hellboy being a case in point).


TwoMorrows Publishing’s Back Issue #55 looks at some of the more successful movie, book and TV show tie-ins. Licensed comics include Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Man From Atlantis, and The Twilight Zone adaptations.


The magazine examines each adaptation, the writers and artists involved (along with original art), publishers and the success of each title. Star Wars is given the lion’s share of coverage with Indiana Jones in a close second. All of the articles make for interesting reading and I got a kick out of looking at the original art both in pencil and ink forms.