Popular Culture Collectibles Reviews

Friday, August 31, 2012

Jacksonville Jaguars Fox Robot



Actionheads Team Cleatus V2.0 presents a brand new and redesigned Fox Sport Robot fashioned after my hometown team: the Jacksonville Jaguars!  Go Jags!

I really like the new design with its angular and much more mechanized looks reminiscent of the recent Transformers style robots and Ironman's armor.  

Lower arms and upper legs and hips are teal while the chest, head, lower legs, upper arms and hands are black.

White shoes are fashioned after actual NFL football footwear with black accents and soles.
Articulation is impressive with full movement of legs, arms, torso, legs, feet and head.  The figure is free-standing and can be posed in hundreds of action football stances.

Its angular robotic look is intimidating and massive.  Huge shoulder pads are decorated with FOX logos while the equally powerful chest has a Jaguars team logo.

I especially like the head with its swivel neck and iridescent deep blue eyes that peer out from under its black helmet.

Hands are clenched, feet bend slightly and with its swivel hips and exposed arm and legs joints it gives the figure a menacing look.

The packaging is as impressive as the figure.  The large rectangular display box has a clear front panel and the robot is held in place by molded-to-fit transparent shells for the upper and lower body.

Behind the robot is a full-length electrified platform photo. On the back of the box are stats and info about the futuristic robot's capabilities and accessories.

The figure is safe for ages four and above and features nicely molded parts with no flashing, snug fits and secure joints.  Color and details are both topnotch and articulation points are tight enough to allow the robot to stand and pose without being too tight to move.

It's a great robot and makes a welcome addition to any football fan's collection of memorabilia and a fun toy for kids to play with.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Fashions Rule (And Southern Art)!




Fashion.  It's hard to imagine a world where fashion doesn't exist.  It's everywhere.  Movie and TV stars flaunt it, executives bask in their expensive cloths, young people clamor for the latest jeans, top or tennis shoes, thousands of stores merchandise it and it changes with the seasons. But, was it always so? 

Before the Industrial Age, fashion was relegated to the rich and powerful.  Kings, Pharaohs, ladies of the court and other high and regal persons were the only ones that could afford high fashion.

Common people, peasants and laymen, had very few clothes to choose from. Clothes were made from scratch in a very time-consuming fashion.  First animal hair, hides or plants had to be processed, spun on spinning wheels, painstakingly wove or tanned or cut and then painstakingly assembled with thread, hide or even worn in one solid piece such as an animal hide.

When the Industrial Age arrived manufacturers were able to turn out clothes in an assembly line fashion.  Weaving machines were run by water or electricity and giant looms made huge swatches of fabric quickly and relatively inexpensively.

Before long the man on the street could afford to buy clothes ready made and sized to fit.
But man, being the vain and fickle creator he is, decided that clothes made for strictly utilitarian use were not enough.  Before long manufactures began making clothes in different colors and cuts, decorated with lace and other frills and suited for different types of weather or occasions.
Soon cloths changed into fashion and the merchandizing and advertising of apparel became a big business.

Manufacturers hired marketing and advertising agencies to promote their new fashion lines.  People bought clothes because they had been cleverly manipulated into believing that clothes change with the season and that clothing became not just a necessity but a personal statement and emblem of social standing.

Today fashion is a multi-billion dollar industry.  Fashion designers and models demand huge salaries and what one wears is often seen as how important or 'with it' one is.

I've always found fashions fascinating and I often use fashion outfits from years past to cloth my drawn figures.  Sometimes I mix and match clothing from different eras and I'm always on the look out for good reference material that I can use.

I found it.  Schiffer Publishing has a huge library of books specifically about fashion.  My favorite series is their Fashionable Clothing From The Sears Catalogs broken down by decade and split into Early, Middle and Late times.

Fashion books in the series start in the Early 1930s with illustrations instead of photos of fashions for women, men and children. Photos are incorporated in later books including the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

All of the photos are taken directly from Sears Catalogs and feature classic Sears model poses and group shots. As the decades progress the Catalog photos become more colorful until finally the last books feature all full-color photos.

Beside clothes the catalogs feature shoes, accessories and undergarments. This is an excellent series that offers a fascinating glimpse of fashions from years past and make excellent reference and historical material.

Three standalone books are also worth noting. 

Fashions In The Groove by Joe Poltorak glimpses back to the fabulous fashions of the 1960's and 1970s with all their wild colors and designs. Prices for the vintage clothing is also included.
Fashion Plates 1950-1970 by Constance Korosec and Leslie Pina also has value listings.  
  
High-end fashions from this era are spotlighted in natural settings displayed on mannequins.  Accents, such as buttons and stitching, are spotlighted along with fashion labels.

Vintage Style 1920-1960 by Desire Smith also contains high fashion dress photos along with purses, jackets, gloves, lingerie, shoes and several other fashion accessories.  A Price Guide is also included.

All three standalone books are brimming with photos, historical notes, prices and interesting tidbits of information.

Recently I expanded my drawing classes to include more material about artists.  Since I live in the South I thought it might be a good idea to familiarize myself with current popular Southern artists.

100 Southern Artists by E. Ashley Rooney is the perfect resource.  3D and 2D artists using all styles and techniques are included in the large hardbound book.

Photos of examples of their individual works are shown along with helpful biographical information about each.  This is a book I plan on studying page by page and passing the information along to my students.

DC Comics New 52 Annuals


Has it really been one year!?  It’s hard to believe that DC Comics took a big chance one year ago and redid its entire universe of books starting over with 52 number one issues.

There were a lot of detractors and skepticism among fans but DC pulled it off and the entire DC Comics lineup of books have proven to be big sellers and DC got the creative kick it needed.

Personally the lion’s share of my comic book purchases is DC titles and I was pleased when DC announced that many of its new titles would be releasing their very first Annuals.

This past week five Annuals were released: Detective, Superman, Justice League International, Green Lantern and The Flash.  Each contains important pivotal stories that will affect the DC Universe in major ways.

In the Detective Annual Batman tackles the Black Mask who, or what, is not what readers will expect.  The Black Mask promises to be a major pain in the Dark Knight’s posterior for years to come.

In Superman’s first Annual, Superman faces a foe that is far more powerful than he ever imagined and who has been playing him like a super-puppet.

The Flash recounts how the Rogue’s got their powers and what it cost them and you’ll never guess who shows up in the final panel.

The Green Lantern Annual has two important events happening, both of which are unexpected and carry huge changes to the Green Lantern roster.

Justice League International’s Annual reveals a hidden traitor and Batman is given an ultimatum from and unexpected source.

All of the Annuals feature turning points in the DC Universe and should not be missed.

Safe And Wilderness Family



Lionsgate released two new DVDs this week.  One is action-packed the other is family friendly.
Martial Arts master Jason Statham returns in Safe featuring Catherine Chan as a young girl who must be saved from a corrupt police department and several crime cartels.

Statham stars a Luke Wright whose family is murdered by the Russian Mafia when he crosses them.  Despondent and angry Luke wanders the streets of the city and meets mathematics prodigy Mei (Chan) who was forced to work for the Triads and holds the key to a secret code that can bring down the entire operation.  

When Luke discovers that the same people who killed his family are after the girl all Hell breaks loose.

Its Jason Statham at his fighting best as fists fly, bodies break and the action never lets up in this new DVD/Digital Copy/Ultraviolent combo that fires on all cylinders.

Look for extras such as a director commentary and lots of featurettes about the making of the film.

Adventures Of The Wilderness Family finds a modern family bogged down in the rush and pace of modern life.  They move to the mountains where they build a log cabin and make friends with a bear and her cubs and encounter a dangerous Grizzly Bear. This is the first of a three-part series starring the Robinsons and their life in the wilds of the Rocky Mountains with all the beauty and danger they offer.

Adventures of The Wilderness Family is a great family film with a strong cast, an equally strong message and enough love, excitement and adventure to last a lifetime. Look for some exciting extras.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Science Fiction Universe...And Beyond


If you've been reading my reviews each day then you know that I am a HUGE science fiction fan-especially of TV shows and movies.

Universe Publishing has pushed all right buttons with its new The Science Fiction Universe...And Beyond book the SyFy Channel Book Of Sci-Fi.

I am in absolute sci-fi Shangri-La!  This oversize hardbound book is a must-have for any science fiction fan!

Chapters are broken down thus: Early Days And Nightmares, Exploration Of Space, What Have We Wrought?, Space And Relative Time, Medium With A Message, A New Beginning, Alternate Times, Alternate Realities, Aliens Among Us and The Science Fiction Culture.  

Chapters spotlight key movies and TV shows and delve deeply into each phenomenon along with similar films and shows of the same sub genre.

A full Appendix Of Films And Television is included along with an Index and an Introduction by Thomas P. Vitale of the SyFy Channel.

Pages are filled with archival black and white and color photos (some never or seldom seen before) along with informative text that explains each type of show or movie.  I plan on looking over this book time and time again Wait, wasn't that the title of a sci-fi movie?

True Blood And Legends Of Marvel



Rittenhouse Archives/Sci-fi Hobby introduces two new trading cards set.  One is about the supernatural, the other about superheroes.

First up is the Premiere Edition Trading Cards taken from the award-winning, now in its fifth season, True Blood TV series-the story of vampires and human living side-by-side in a small town.

Ninety eight Base Cards (almost two Sets for me) make up the Set that takes images from the show.  A Parallel Set of Metallic Cards (I received 7) are randomly inserted in five Card Packs with 24 Packs per Box.

Randomly inserted Bonus Cards include nine Character Cards (two in my Box), six Black & White Cards (one to go), nine The Quotable True Blood (2), four True Blood Shadowbox Cards (not so lucky) and two Autograph Cards guaranteed in each Box (mine are Dale Raoul and Marshall Allman).

If you like the supernatural with a kick then check out Rittenhouse’s True Blood Trading Cards.
This round of Legends Of Marvel from Rittenhouse spotlights the Thing, Ghost Rider and Ms. Marvel. Nine Cards each spotlight characters with art by some of today’s top comic book talent.  A limited run of Cards is available so hurry and get yours before they’re all gone! Make mine Marvel….and Rittenhouse!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Super Grammar


Speaking as a high school teacher I can testify to the fact that getting student to read, write and use proper grammar is an uphill battle.

In this age of slang, text talk, instant access to information via the internet grammar suffers.
In Illustrating the Point: Super Grammar, written and illustrated by Tony Preciado and Rhode Montijo and published by Scholastic, the current craze over superheroes is used to its best advantage.

By using word pictures, action graphics and clever associations via superheroes the book successfully instructs students on the proper use of grammar and its structure.
Packed with full color illustrations and structured much like a comic book, Super Grammar is super fun, super clever and provides super results!

Fantasy & Science Fiction #703, September/October


Where's the best place to find the finest science fiction and fantasy novels, novelettes and short stories?  That's easy, it's The Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine. 

For over 60 years F&SF has provided readers with the very best of fantasy literature from top talent and promising up and comers.

In this month's issue look for some exciting tales of close encounters, a goddess, troll blood, Deimos' diary, a very special valentine and much more.  

Issue to issue articles include book reviews, commentaries and editorials, coming attractions, film reviews and curiosities. 

Regardless of your tastes or interests in sci-fi and fantasy literature F&SF is the magazine for you!

Star Wars!



Sunday, August 26, 2012

Really, Really Old Art

Here's some scan and photos of art I did 20+ years ago.































Friday, August 24, 2012

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Ninja Turtles The Next Mutation Volume One


Not long after the live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies premiered the live-action TMNT Saturday morning TV show hit the airwaves.

Added to the mix of the four original Turtles was a new cast member: a female Turtle called Venus De Milo.

Along with the new cast member the Turtles faced off against a new and powerful enemy who was even more evil than Shredder!  Dragon Skull was clever, nefarious and diabolical and that was his good qualities!

Join Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, Raphael, Venus De Milo and Master Splinter as they fight crime in the back alleys and dark corners of New York City.

Taking clues from the movie’s  live- action versions of the characters the TV series improved upon and slightly modified the look of the TMNTs thus providing the actors wearing the outfits greater flexibility and the off-camera puppeteers more subtle control of the TMNTs facial expressions and head mobility.

The new DVD set from Shout! Factory includes the first 113 episodes in stunning live-action, full-color turtle excitement.  Cowabunga Dudes!