Popular Culture Collectibles Reviews

Friday, September 28, 2012

Go Snoopy Go!



Snoopy is by far my favorite character from the Peanuts comic strip.  I love the totally irreverent beagle with the uncanny talent for getting in some of the most outrageous and ridiculous situations imaginable.

As off-the-wall as he is Snoopy somehow always manages to be the voice of reason.  Which is odd since he's a dog and can't speak-at least not out loud-his thoughts speak volumes.

In Go Snoopy Go! the intrepid beagle fans are treated to three episodes: Snoopy and Linus face-off in a blanket and bowl smack down, Peppermint Patty has trouble with her school grades (the only one she's good at are ZZZZs) and Charlie Brown attempts to educate his fellow baseball team members on signals.

Fans of Peanuts (and who isn't?) will love Go Snoopy Go! from Warner Bros. 

Bonanza: Fourth Season Value Pack


When the TV Western Bonanza started in the late 1950s I was a young boy of about six or seven.  My father had died when I was four and I desperately needed a father figure in my life.  
  
My older half-brothers tried but they were already married and out of the house raising their own families.  Mom tried her best but a young boy needs a dad.

I found a dad (of a sort) with Ben Cartwright, the patriarch of the Cartwright clan consisting of Ben and his sons Little Joe, Hoss and Adam.  I remember being totally enthralled by each and every episode of the series and wished, in my youthful mind, that I had a dad like Ben.

Mom and I watch Bonanza faithfully for years and when Adam left we were devastated.  When Hoss died and then Little Joe's wife was killed we wept along with Ben.

Paramount Pictures presents Bonanza: The Official Fourth Season Value Pack that showcases the trials, tears, triumphs and often turbulent lives of the Cartwright clan of the Ponderosa ranch.  Besides containing all of the Fourth Season episodes in the DVD set look for some very special features in and about the Ponderosa ranch and the Cartwright family and the actors who portrayed them.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Normandy: A Graphic History Of D-Day



As a high school teacher I can attest to the fact that it is getting hard and harder to get students to read books.  With the proliferation of the internet, social media, cell phones, I-Pads, laptops and other graphic based media students are no longer content to pick-up a book containing just words.

If it doesn’t have pictures and is not presented in short and concise info tidbits then they pass right over it.

Author and artist Wayne Vansant has created a new history ‘book’ that delivers both graphically and informational.  Normandy: A Graphic history Of D-Day is presented as a graphic novel with lots and lots of full color illustrations.

Accompanied by and intermingled with historical text the book successfully breaks down the Allied invasion of Hitler’s Fortress Europe into visually interesting moments and events complemented by text that explains what is going on.

By segmenting the invasion into parts, as seen by Allied and Axis forces, the book allows young readers to visualize what occurred.  They think they’re reading a ‘comic book’ but they are actually learning something.  Very clever.

Normandy: A Graphic history OF D-Day is published by ZenithPress and is available now.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Bots, Borgs And Troopers




Why do I suddenly feel like its the early 1990s? Shout Factory! has just released three new DVD collections, two of which harken back to the 1990s.

VR Troopers, Season One, Volume One collects one of the first children's live action TV series that takes kids into a virtual computer world.

The DVD collection contains the first 26 episodes of the action-packed series.  In it three ordinary teens travel to a virtual world transformed into three super-powered superheroes.  
  
They battle the evil alter-ego of a ruthless industrialist bent on world domination.
Look for lots of martial arts mayhem and wacky villains in VR Troopers.  

Big Bad Beetleborgs, Season One, Volume One collects 27 episodes of the explosive live-action kid's show about three teens who get their wildest dreams granted.  Exploring an old haunted house on a dare the three teens meet a magical spirit who turns them into the mighty Beetleborgs!

But wishes come at a price because the wacky magical spirit accidentally releases a long-imprisoned Vexor and his evil minions.  It's up to the teens and their spirit friend to stop him by using their superpowers and amazing vehicles.

Get ready to see the Transformers like you've never seen them before! 

In Transformers Rescue Bots the mechanized heroes transform into, you guessed it. rescue vehicles.

Given the mission to observe humanity and offer aid, the Rescue Bots disguise themselves as rescue vehicles and take up residence with a family of first responders.  Together they fight fires, floods and all sorts of man made and natural disasters.  The Rescue Bots learn what it means to truly be heroes.

Five episodes are included in the collection along with the premiere episode and coloring sheets.

The Zombies Are Coming!


Friday, September 21, 2012

Previews, October


Diamond Previews for October has a boatload of new merchandise for sale.  Here just a small sampling of what to expect.

New comic books include Hellboy In Hell, The Crow, Arrow, Django Unchained, Hip Flask, The Amazing Spider-Man #700, Mara, Star Wars: Purge, Deathmatch, Sherlock Holmes, Judge Dredd, Unearthing and A Child Is Born.

Catch up on your reading with the following books and magazines: Marvel and DC Figurines magazines, Doctor Who: The Wheel Of Ice, The James Bond Archives, Star Wars: Scoundrel and Neil Gaiman: Chu's Day.

Trading cards to look for are Topps 2012 Baseball Series and Magic Football.

Toys to play with include Star Wars Kenner, Halo 4, Mass Effect 3, The Dark Knight and more.
Game on with Batman Gotham City and A Game Of Thrones.

Fenton, Patriotic And Star Wars





The Revised & Expanded 2nd Edition of Schiffer Publishing’s new Fenton Art Glass: A Centennial Of Glass Making 1907-2007 And Beyond, written and compile by Debbie and Randy Coe, is an encyclopedic piece of work.

Browsing through its colorful pages I was struck by how many of the pieces looked familiar to me.  My Mom was a huge collector (the proper term would be a pack rat) and she literally had hundreds of the pieces listed.

Who would of thought that workaday, inexpensive knick knacks would wind up being so popular (and expensive) with collectors?  Go figure.

The 2nd Edition book is chock full of color photographs of the different glass work in all of its varied styles.  Prices are listed alongside each piece and several Fenton Art Glass collectors offer a few observations-especially since it was announced as the book was going into production that Fenton would be ceasing its art glass product line-a sad note to collectors.

I still remember as a young boy watching the 4th of July parade down the main street of my home town.  Veterans from several wars proudly wore their military uniforms and patriotism filled the air.  Back then love of country and being proud to be an American was not uncommon.  It wasn’t until the turbulent 1960s and the winding down of the Vietnam War that Americans began to question their government and patriotism.

Governments fail, the love of freedom does not.  I still love my country, salute the flag, bow my head when the National Anthem is played and respect our military.  Our country is going through tough times and a little patriotism on both sides of the political isle couldn’t hurt.

In America’s Patriotic Holidays: An Illustrated history from Schiffer and written and compiled by John Wesley and Sandra Lynn Thomas, the red, white and blue shine through.

From the earliest days of our independence patriotic items of all types are lovingly reproduced in photographic form.  Pages are packed with patriotic paraphernalia, placards, postcards, posters and printed pieces.  It’s a regular Uncle Sam yard sale!

If you love your country, if you have a patriotic bone left in your body, if you bleed red, white and blue then America’s Patriotic Holidays is the book you need-it’s the patriotic thing to do!

I know over the last 35 years since Star Wars hit the Silver Screen that a lot of Star Wars toys have been produced.  I just never realized how many until I picked up Geoffrey T. Carlton’s new book from Schiffer: Star Wars Toys: A Super Collector’s Wish Book.

Star Wars fans are in for a visual treat as they flip through this massive new compilation of full color photographs of each and every Star Wars toy, game, toy premium and action figure collection from all over the world.

Besides providing photographs of regular retail items the book also includes special editions, chase figures and what you can expect to pay for each item in or out of its package.  This book contains a galaxy of goodies, a universe of unbelievable merchandise and solar system selection of Star Wars gotta-haves.  

Figures, games, plush, vehicles, retail premiums, send away for, trading cards-you name it, this book has it! Save up your pennies, because you are going to need them.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Dark Shadows



Over 40 years ago one of my all-time favorite TV shows was Dark Shadows.  It involved Barnabas Collins, a reluctant vampire, and his friends, family and foes.  It was dark, scary, and sometimes devilishly funny and for a very short period the top rated daytime soap opera.

Director Tim Burton is also a fan of the cult classic TV series and recently he directed a modern adaptation of the TV show.

In the film Barnabas Collins (played to perfection by Johnny Depp) is wild and wanton playboy from the 18th century.  He lives a lavish lifestyle, as does his wealthy family housed in Collinworth Manor.

One day Barnabas makes the mistake of snubbing an amorous witch’s advances and he pays a heavy price.

The witch enchants him, turning him into a vampire and buries him alive.  Two hundred years later he is inadvertently unburied and finds himself smack in the middle of the early 1970s.
He discovers his family fortune is gone; Collinworth Manor is in shambles, as well as his descendents.  Everyone it seems has their own dark secrets.

The film follows Barnabas as he acclimates himself to modern times and modern times acclimates to him.  Dark humor intermingles with horror as Barnabas, his family and his would-be lover witch battle it out as to who will rule and survive in Dark Shadows.

The movie is a lot of fun, especially scenes with Johnny Depp. He plays Barnabas straight but as with all of his performances there is more under the skin of his character than first seen.

The Dark Shadows Blu-ray/DVD/Ultraviolet combo also includes deleted scenes, featurettes on the movie and classic TV series, transforming Johnny Depp into a vampire and much more from Warner Bros.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Borderlands 2



Borderlands 2 continues the first-person perspective storyline from Borderlands from Gearbox Software and 2K Games

Set on Pandora, a monster plagued wasteland/apocalyptic planet, Borderlands 2 has upped the ante when it comes to exploring and exploiting an alien world.

Looting it’s the name of the game whether you do it solo or with friends.  Borderlands 2 provides gamers with new weapons, lots of stats and variations of game play depending on the weapons chosen.

Choose to be an Assassin, Commando, Siren or Gunzerker each with their own particular skill and weaponry.  If players choose to be in the same class Borderlands 2 allows them to slightly modify and customize their characters into unique individuals.

Smart players will include variations of each class in groups to best explore and ransack the planet.  Strength in numbers is always the best strategy.  But, groups must share the loot and whoever gets there first attains the prize which is bound to cause some ruckus among members of looting parties. While weaponry has expanded, vehicles are much the same as in Borderlands.

Borderlands 2 has improved in its storytelling aspect and with a tighter story comes downright hilarious moments and spine-chilling dangers the next.  Voice talent is well matched with characters and Borderlands 2’s cell-shaded textures give the series the look of an animated comic book.

Environments have improved with expansive variation from anything from desserts to frozen tundra’s. Game play is fast, fun and filled with lots of visual and story surprises.  Characters move seamlessly from sequence to sequence with tight integration in environments.  

Visual effects such as dust, smoke, etc. look realistic while the sound effects, dialogue and soundtrack all combine to make Borderlands 2 a sequel well worth waiting for.

I was especially impressed by the character interactions (even minor characters chime in) the stunning variation in environments and beautifully rendered visual vistas.

Players can spend literally hours upon hours exploring Pandora.  New things to see and hear are around ever bend and corner and character interplay includes some hilarious dialogue, genuinely touching moments and excellent scripted lines.