Popular Culture Collectibles Reviews

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Decade, Planet, War, RTT, Die And WWII


Mill Creek Entertainment proves once again why it is the leader in producing a wide variety of DVDs and Blu-rays covering all sorts of subjects.  Mill Creek's latest releases prove it.
World War II was over almost 70 years ago.  After the war the returning veterans wasted no time in adding to the population.  Their babies were known collectively as Baby Boomers.  The Boomers had babies and the Boomer's babies had babies.

Encompassing the expanse of the decades 1940s to the 1980s, Mill Creek Entertainment has released a new series of DVDs called collectively The Decade You Were Born.
Anyone born during those five decades are sure to get a kick out of the nostalgic trips down Memory Lane each provides.

Viewers can watch newsreels, movie trailers, TV episodes and full-length movies along with documentary timelines outlining each decade.  Pivotal points in history, important discoveries and events and much more lead you through each decade beginning with War And Invention to Growth And Consumption.

If you love nostalgia and miss the 'good old days' then you're sure to love this collection.
For those with a more serious view of history be sure to watch Mill Creeks' 7-part documentary on the Civil War called The Ultimate Civil War Series.  Celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the War Between The States, the documentary provides exhaustive research about the most turbulent time in our history.

The 11 Documentary Collection of WWII: Waking The Sleeping Giant provides hours of historical vintage films chronicling America's entry into the war to the final days of D-Day and the bombing of Japan.

Interviews, eyewitness accounts, rare color footage and more bring the war years back to life. 
If you like to travel like I do, you probably do your homework about the places you wish to visit.  Beautiful Planet DVDs offer the best of what you can expect to see and experience whatever your destination may be.

Two new Blu-rays have just been released that explore Europe and the British Isles.
Germany and Austria are shown in high-definition that appear so clear and life-like you  almost feel as if you could walk into the picture.

England and The Low Countries are just as impressive with stunning photography, entertaining and enlightening commentaries and narration that make these guided tours a real treat to watch.

Learn about the people, places and things of all four destinations as you immerse yourself in their cultures and customs.

For some good old fashioned fun be sure to pick up the movie collections beginning with 8 classic canine cinema adventures called the Ultimate Rin-Tin-Tin Classic Movie Collection.

If Spaghetti Westerns are to you liking mosey on over and pick up a copy of Ten Thousand More Ways To Die a 12 film set of the best of Spaghetti Westerns providing over 18 hours of gun slinging greats.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Draw! #23, Summer


Twomorrows Publishing presents its Summer of 2012 issue of Draw! magazine #23.
In this issue Patrick Ollife is both interviewed and provides a drawing demo. Bob McLeod provides a Rough Critique for hopeful comic book artist Brandon Hendricks, the Crusty Critic reviews Manga Studio Ex 4, Aesthetics & Design are examined in Rules Of Appeal and the career of Al Williamson is chronicled.

As with all issues of Draw! #23 includes new and old artwork in pencil, inked and colored versions.  Anyone who hopes to become a comic book or fantasy artist should invest the time and money for each issue of Draw!

Astonishing X-Men: Torn


Adapted from the award-winning team of Joss Whedon and John Cassady's classic run on Astonishing X-Men, Astonishing X-Men: Torn from Shout! Factory's Marvel Knights DVD collection comes a brand new home entertainment animation adventure.

In Astonishing X-Men: Torn, the third installment of Emma Frost's apparent betrayal of the X-Men and the reintroduction of the Hellfire Club.

It's all-out action and intrigue as the X-Men face-off against the Hellfire Club (or do they?) in a war of mental tit for tat.  Why is Emma betraying the X-Men?  Why does Cyclops loose control of his optic blasts?  And how does Shadowcat manage to free the X-men only to have them face a far ore dangerous foe?

All these, and other, questions are answered as Astonishing X-Men: Torn rushes toward its climatic conclusion.  It's 'X'citing, un'X'pected and 'X'actly what you would expect from Whedon and Cassady.   

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Beatles In Comic Strips


It doesn't seem possible that The Beatles broke up as a group over 40 years ago! Having lived through the Fab Four era I saw the group grow from a teeny bopper, sweet song group to a relevant and controversial band of musicians and writers whose influence on popular culture was unprecedented.

Even today the ripple effect of their music and lifestyles resonate in Western culture and around the world.  The entire 'free love  and drugs' generation stemmed from The Beatles.  They influenced dress, art, music and other facets of society like no other music group before or since.

From Skira and Rizzoli International Publications and authors Enzo Gentile and Fabio Schiavo comes a unique look at the stellar pop phenomenon known as The Beatles.

The Beatles In Comic Strips follows the group's career though its teeny bopper days until its demise through comic strip and comic book art.

Beginning in the 1960s the comics explore every part of The Beatles' careers and continues long after they split up until present day.  Comic book, comic strips, editorial cartoons, cameos or mentions in various comic publications are all shown.

The Beatles as a group may be long gone but they live on in print in all of their four-color glory.  "All you need is love" and The Beatles in Comic Strips.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles



They’re back! Raphael, Michelangelo, Leonardo and Donatello are back kicking shell in a brand new animated series on Nickelodeon and in a new line of action figures.


When my son was young, over 20 years ago, he was a big fan of the original TMNT toys. He collected each and every figure along with their vehicles, accessories and anything else that sported a shell.


Now, a whole new generation of kids can enjoy the adventures of the amphibian foursome in this exciting new toy series from Playmates Toys.


Each figure stands approximately five to six inches tall and is fully-articulated. You can pose them as if fighting, running or standing still, if you’re so inclined.


Each comes with a set of weapons that the figures can hold snuggly. Leonardo comes with two Katana swords, Michelangelo with nunchucks, Donatello has his trusty staff and Raphael his Sai. All come with an additional Ninja Arsenal of such things as throwing stars, knives, hooks and other deadly Ninja tools of the trade.


All of the figures are nicely sculpted with tight articulation and parts that move easily and stay assembled. Paint and color application is first-rate with no slop over or rough edges. Pieces have smooth edges with tight assembly.


Each figure stands easily on its own and can be positioned in hundreds of poses.


Packaging is colorful and provides clear views of the figures and their accessories. On the back of the bubble packs are full descriptions of the characters contained along with photos of other TMNT figures.


Cowabunga!

Weapons, Horror And Horses




Schiffer Publishing serves up a trio of new titles that cover a wide range of subjects and collectibles.


For you warrior wannabes out there you have got to check out the awesome new book by Vic Diehl and Hermann Hampe entitled. Weapons Of Warrior: Famous Antique Swords Of TheNear East.


If you love knives, swords and all things with sharp edges then this is the book for you.


In a stunning photographic study of historic and prestigious Arabic and Turkish swords the authors pain-stakingly chronicle each and every sword in minute detail. Close-up photos examine each and every angle of the swords including inscriptions, handles, cutting edges, flourishes and more.


The authors were given priority attention as they examined the collections at the Askeri Military Museum in Istanbul, Turkey and an international team of writers provided historical and technical information on each sword. It is an impressive piece of work that collectors, historians and students are sure to cherish.


Hartland Horses: New Model Horses Since 2000 is the latest work from author and collector Gail Fitch.


Hartland Horses went into production in the 1940s and instantly became a hit with kids and collectors. The much sought after equine figures continued into production until the 1990s and unfortunately because of various reasons ceased production.


In 2000 the figures returned and are once again collector favorites. This new book examines the over 300 horse produced since that time with descriptions, values, color photos and various editions.


Horse lovers, toy collectors and kids are sure to enjoy looking through this thoroughly researched book filled with photos of beautifully sculpted and painted figures.


People pay big money each year to be frightened out of their wits at movies. Horror films have been around since the early part of the last century and are loved by millions.


In John Edgar Browning’s new book, Graphic Horror: Movie Monster Memories, readers are given a guided tour through the decades via photos of some of the most terrifying movies ever created.


Using archive posters, placards and other promotion material the author, with the aid of horror writers, editors and other film professionals, offers insights into what makes a good horror film, Interviews, little known behind-the-scenes facts and professional observations make a fascinating journey through the bloody halls of cinematic horror. Do yourself and favor and don’t read this book alone at night.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Some New 'Fun' Artwork







Blade And Wolverine Anime DVDs



Leave it to the Japanese to reinvigorate and re-imagine two iconic America comic book characters and still remain true to their roots and personalities.

I'm taking about Sony Pictures two new DVD releases: Blade Anime and Wolverine anime. Both series are guided by writer Warren Ellis-so you know they pack a punch!

As with most of Japanese 'mature' anime, there is plenty of graphic violence, incredible animation and striking scenes and character confrontations.  This is the way both Blade and Wolverine should be depicted as: driven individuals who let nothing and on one stand in their way, regardless of the consequences.

Both DVD include featurettes about the re-imaging of each character, creator interviews and more.   Both run over 280 minutes with internationally well-known actors voicing the characters.

In Blade, Eric Brooks (Blade) is in search of the vampire Deacon Frost who killed his mother when she was pregnant with Eric.  Eric now possesses he abilities of vampires without their weaknesses.  While on his search he travels to the Golden Triangle where he discover a vampire plot that threatens the whole world.

In Wolverine, Logan falls head-over-heels for Mariko Yashida, the daughter of a high-ranking Japanese crime lord, Shingen.  Back in Japan she is forcibly betrothed to Kurohagi, a criminal associate of her father, to stabilize their criminal exploits.

Logan is determined to rescue her and in the process crosses blades with the Japanese underworld with the aid of his new ally, the young assassin Yukio.

Claws slash and blades slice as Wolverine cuts a swath across Japan's criminal empire.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Transformers Prime: One Shall Stand


From Shout! Factory and Hasbro Toys comes the Transformer tale that stands above all others.
In One Shall Stand viewers witness the joining of long-time enemies, the Autobots and Decepticons) as they battle together the newly awakened Unicorn-but at what cost?

Optimus Prime surrenders the Matrix and by doing so reverts to his former pre-Prime persona: Orion Pax.  Megatron manipulates Orion to join the Decepticons thus endangering not only the Autobots but the Decepticons and those around them as well.  Only a young boy (Jack) may hold the key to salvation.

Featuring state-of-the-art computer animation the DVD boasts some impressive voice talent and includes interviews.  Witness the story of Optimus Prime in an exciting Transformers tale where enemies become friends and friends become adversaries with humankind's fate in the balance.

Radioactive Man: Radioactive Repository Volume One


From Harper Design and Simpson's creator Matt Groening comes the first collection of Radioactive Man adventures reprinted in a large hardback edition.

Radioactive Man is the superhero created by Matt for The Simpson's animated TV show.  Labeled the world's greatest superhero, Radioactive Man is a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the superhero genre in comic books over the decades.

Parodying and paying tribute to the comic books he loved as a child, Matt's Radioactive Man borrows heavily from Marvel, DC and other comic book companies in its stories.  

Look carefully and you can spot tributes to famous covers, stories and artists in each issue.  As a long-time comic book fan I get a real kick out of the clever way Radioactive Man writers and artists sneak in famous scenes, pivotal moments in comic books, all with a humorous twist.

Born in the Plutonium Age of Comics, Radioactive Man is playboy Claude Kane III who is accompanied by his boy sidekick Fallout Boy (Rod Runtledge).  The Irradiated Duo fight crime in Zenith City against such memorable villains such as Dr. Crab, Magmo, Hypno-Head, Larva Girl, Larceny Lass and Richard Milhous Nixon.  

But his enemies are not just relegated to Earth.  Radioactive Man and Fallout Boy also face off against the Superior Squad and other far-flung, universe-spanning bad guys.

The book is a fun read with lots of 'in' moments and tributes and also includes introductions by Morton Mankiewitz (Radioactive Man's fictional creator) and Paul Dini.  Don't miss it!  

Alter Ego #111, July


Spotlighted in this month's Alter Ego magazine, published by Twomorrows Publishing, is remembering The Golden Age Nedor-Heroes.  Mike Nolan provides a 1968 guide to the Thrilling/Better/Standard Super-Heroes.

A big surprise to me was seeing Doc Strange, who predates Marvel's Master Of The Mystic Arts!  Other heroes include The Black Terror, The Grim Reaper, Miss Masque, The Phantom Detective, Pyroman, The Fighting Yank, The Sphinx and The Liberator.  All-in-all, a pretty impressive line of characters.

Part II of an interview of Leonard Starr is included, DC covers are twice-told, The Golden Age Of Fanzines Panel is remembered from 2011, the death announcement for Jerry Robinson is published and Mary Marvel is 70 years old.  

Friday, July 13, 2012

Previews, August


Diamond Previews gets ready for fall with a new selection of comic, books, magazines, toys and other pop culture collectibles.  Count you pesos and get ready to spend Amigo!
New comic books include Ghost, BRPD 1948, Star Wars Agent Of The Empire: Hard Targets, Talon, Phantom Stranger, Sword Of Sorcery, Swamp Thing Annual, Team 7, Joe Kubert Presents, Legends Of The Dark Knight, Ghosts, Let’s Play God, Scary, Cyber Force, Non Humans, Marvel Now Point One, Uncanny Avengers, A Plus, AVX Consequences, Minimum Carnage Alpha, Daredevil Ends Of Days, Punisher War Zone, Archie Comics Super Special, Night Of The Living Dead Aftermath, Freelancers, Ice Age, Bravest Warriors, Evil Ernie, Vampirella Vs. Buffy and Godstorm.
Books and Magazines to read are Art Of Assassins Creed, Dark Shadows Visual Companion and Walking Dead Magazine.
Trade up with the following trading cards: Castle Season, Vampire Diaries Season 1 & 2, Marvel Bronze Age and Warehouse 13 Season 3.
Toy around with Star Trek, Star Wars, G.I. Joe, Transformers, DC Direct, Marvel Select, Speed Racer, South Park, Bruce Lee, The Munsters, Batman, Spider-Man, Godzilla, Marvel, Doctor Who and Cowboy Bebop.
Game on with Warhammer, Star Wars, DC HeroClix, Beatles Scrabble and Assassins Creed.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Back Issue #58, August


In the August issue of Back Issue! #58 from Twomorrows Publishing the Bronze Age Justice League Of America is examined.  First up is a look back at the League’s Satellite years then it’s off to Earth Prime and then to Identity Crisis.
Michael Eury compiles the work of Dick Dillin, more Legacy of The Satellite Era is included, be sure to check out The Unofficial Justice League Of America And Avengers Crossover and Marvel’s own JLA team: The Squadron Supreme.
The Injustice Gang raise their ugly heads, discover is you’re a true Justice Leaguer, travel to the Motor City to visit the Justice League Detroit, Gerry Conway and Dan Jurgens looks at the Justice League then and now and it’s time for some Back Talk.
As with every issue of Back Talk! this issue is filled with writer and artist anecdotes, gorgeous black and white and full color art and so much information your brain will kick into overload.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Fantasy & Science Fiction #702, July/August


The Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine with more great short stories, novellas and novels in with issue #702.  Can you believe it! Seven Hundred and Two issues!  I don't know of any other magazine or publication that can boast those kind of numbers!

This issue stories include Fullness Of Time, Wearaway And Flambeau, The Afflicted, Jack Shade In The Forest Of Souls, Hartmut's World, The Woman Who Fooled Death Five Times, A Natural History Of Autumn, Wizard and Real Faces.

Additional Departments include Books To Look For, Musing On Books, Films: Martian Processed Cheese, Science: Quicksand And Ketchup, Coming Attractions and Curiosities.
  And don't forget the cartoons by S. Harris and the Ed Valigursky cover.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Spec Ops The Line


When the ultra-opulent city of Dubai is suddenly and un-expectantly ravaged by a killer sandstorm thousands die including American military troops sent to evacuate the city.  Buried beneath dunes of sand, the city is a wasteland of dead and dying people, ruined roads and highways, devastated buildings and parks and suffers from an almost complete lack of food, supplies and medicine.

When a mysterious radio signal is received Delta Recon Team is sent to investigate.  What they find is a rogue military outfit that has taken control of the city and its remaining population. Their mission is to find the leader of the American forces: Colonel John Konrad and then to evacuate survivors.

2K Games presents the Premium Edition of Spec Ops The Line for PS3 that takes the kids gloves off when it comes to depicting ground fire and war.  This ain't no walk in the park or kiddy ride.  When bullets hit a man there is no simple spray of blood-his body is riddled and pulverized.  Prisoners are tortured and executed, hand-to-hand combat looks and feels real, explosions ripe apart soldiers and civilians alike and air-to-ground combat is not pretty.

Add to that the hostile environment of the dessert, the lack of water and supplies, the heightened senses of soldiers to close to the line of death and you have a video game that presents war as it is-the death of humans and the destruction of property.  You won't find, "It's only a flesh wound," in this game.  Dead is dead and sometimes massive injuries make soldiers wish they were dead.

360 degree game play and impressive and realistic environments heighten the intensity so that players have no idea where an attack may originate from.  It looks like a city on the edge of extinction. Cars, bodies, buildings and other objects litter the landscape making perfect places for ambushes, firefights and dessert dangers.

This game is not for the weak of stomach nor for those with prudish attitudes toward violence and language.  This is how soldiers on the field act and talk especially when they are asked to step over The Line.

Look for combat uncertainties, an in-you-face personal look at war and ripe with emotion, multi-player capabilities and a FUBAR Pack.  What is FUBAR? Trust me its impressive.

NCIS And Game Of Thrones


Two TV series get their first set of trading cards dedicated to them courtesy of Rittenhouse Archives/Scifihobby's.  

First up is the award-winning HBO series, Game Of Thrones, that combines the best of fantasy and human intrigue, deceit and high-court politics.  The Base Set consists of Episode and Character Cards that when combined total 72 Cards.  

From my 5 Cards Per Pack, 24 Packs per Box, selection of Cards I was able to assemble almost one full Base Set with a few Cards left over to use as trades.

A Parallel Base Set of 72 Cards is also available (I received 7).  Randomly inserted Bonus Cards include: 9 Quotable Game Of Thrones Cards (2 for me), 9 The Houses Cards (2 again), You Win Or Die Cards (1), 6 Shadowbox Cards (zip) and Autograph Cards (2 guaranteed per Box) (mine are of Esme Bianco and Jason  Momoa).

All are printed on heavy paper stock and feature high gloss, full color photos. 

My favorite Prime Time Network TV show is NCIS.  Although the show has been on the air for 10 plus years I am amazed at how fresh and innovative it is.  There is a reason it is the #1 show on Prime Time TV.  

Mark Hamill and the cast, crew, writers and production people behind the show settle only for perfection and they deliver it week after week.

Rittenohuose/Scifihobby has created a very special set of Trading Cards for the series.  Sold in 7 Card Premium Packs, collectors are guaranteed 2 Relic Cards (I received pieces of fabric worn by series' stars David McCallum and Cote De Pablo), 3 Episode Cards, 1 Star Of NCIS Card (Timothy McGee is mine) and 1 Autograph Card (I have Diane Neal's autograph).

Additional Cards are available in separate packs.  Collect them all!  

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man



In anticipation of the new, completely re-imagined, Amazing Spider-Man movie coming out in July, Beenox and Activision present The Amazing Spider-Man video game available for all game platforms.

In this latest incantation of the Webslinger, Spider-Man doesn't just swing from buildings and stick to walls.  The arachnid avenger flips, twists, jumps, falls, twirls and contorts as he shoots his new non-organic web from the webshooters he created.  

His acrobatic antics are put into full play in a 360 degree camera angle extravaganza that will leave you breathless.  The pulse-pounding soundtrack only intensifies the action as Spidey takes on some his deadliest foes.

The Lizard, the Rhino and the Scorpion are just a few of his super-powered foes.  What makes them visually exciting and deadly is they appear much more organic than their comic book namesakes.  Each appear to be hybrids of human and whatever creature they take their name after.

Of course Spider-Man trounces street thugs and run-of-the-mill villains but then ups the intensity with explosions, rampaging robots and every conceivable type of danger that barely gives the Webslinger enough time to reload his webbing.  

This is Spider-man as he is meant to be.  More than human, incredibly agile, fast, funny and quick on his feet and with his wits, Spider-Man takes on all comers.  

This new game allows gamers to step into the webbed boots of Spider-Man and experience what it is like to swing over Manhattan, save the day and face your greatest fears.

Game play is fast with lightning fast frame refresh time, incredible graphics, backgrounds and character mapping all wrapped up in an original story that takes place after the movie.  It's rated 'T" for Teen except for Nintendo DS which is rated E10+.

Swing into your local store and pick up a copy.  That's what I call really surfing the 'web'.