Popular Culture Collectibles Reviews

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Heian Maru


Measuring a whopping 18.36 inches the Hasegawa Model Kit 1:350 Scale IJN Submarine Depot Ship Heian Maru  comes in 360 pieces.  All are mounted on large part trees, except the split hull and larger pieces.  Each piece is tightly crafted with attention given to the minutest detail (hull plates and rivets anyone!)


Parts detach easily from part trees and with the easy-to-follow assembly instructions you'll have your very own Japanese WWII passenger liner/cargo/submarine depot ship assembled, painted and decaled in no time.  Choose from two decal options (1st or 8th Fleet).

The photo-etched  parts are molded in either gray or clear and fit together snuggly with no flashover of rough or loose edges.


Originally built to be a passenger line and cargo ship the Heian Maru was outfitted and armed just before the outbreak of the war and became a submarine depot ship.  Mainly used as a transport and cargo ship the Heian Maru was sunk in the Truk Lagoon after being struck five times by explosives.


The model kit duplicates the functional ship right down to its deck plating with guns, railings, cargo hoists, cables, a windowed bridge, scaffolding, anchors, lifeboats and all the other equipment included on the original ship.  


The Limited Edition ship model comes in large box with a full-color painting of the ship in port tending a submarine.


The single smoke stack ship model also comes with dual gold display stands so model lovers can view the entire ship stem to stern and below the waterline.   The Heian Maru model is sure to become a prized addition to any modeler's collection-it is to mine.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The "Quotable" Star Trek Voyager And Warehouse 13 Season 3



Two Trading Card Sets spotlighting science fiction/fantasy TV shows: one old series and one new series, have just been released by Rittenhouse Archives/Sci-fi Hobby.


To be perfectly honest I wasn't that impressed when Star Trek Voyager first aired.  The premise sounded promising: a starship transported to the far side of the universe and even at top light speed it would have taken the captain and the crew nearly 75 years to return to Federation space.


The first year or two the stories were good, but none of them really stood out.  However, by the third year Voyager caught its breath and picked up steam and as a result the TV series found its creative legs and consistently turned out excellent episodes.


Looking back Voyager had a lot of firsts: a woman Captain, a half Klingon/Human woman as chief engineer, a holographic doctor, an alien Cook and Morale Officer, a Borg Science Officer, a black Vulcan First Officer, a mixed crew of renegades and Federation personnel, an alien telepath whose lifespan was only seven years, a Helmsman/Weapons Officer who was an alternate universe version of the original Helmsman/Weapons Officer, a bad boy Federation washout as a Navigator and a spaceship with a biopac brain.


Voyager and its crew took on the Borg, Q, hostile aliens, alternate timelines and dimensions and even had time for some retro-Holographic adventures.


The "Quotable" Voyager Trading Card Set consists of 72 Base Cards ( I assembled one full Set and put a huge dent in a second) that come in 24 Packs with five Cards per Pack in one Box.  One hundred and forty four memorable quotes come on the Cards along with full color photos of the characters who said them. 


Three Autograph Cards are guaranteed in each Box (mine are Leigh McCloskey, Kathleen Garrett and Don Most).  All of the Cards are printed both sides on heavy coated card stock.

Randomly inserted Cards include:


  • 9 Best of the Holodeck Cards (1:12 packs) (2 for me)
  • 9 U.S.S. Voyager Ship Cards (1:12 packs) (2 again)
  • 10 Starfleet's Finest Cards (each sequentially numbered to 399) (1:48 packs) (zip)
  • 9 Star Trek Voyager Communicator Pin Cards (each sequentially numbered to 225) (1:96 packs) (3 per case) (zip again) 
 

The Warehouse 13 Season 3 Premium Pack Trading Cards come with six Cards per Pack.
Each contain two Episode Cards, two Relic Cards (mine were worn by Aaron Ashmore and Jaime Murray), one Artifact Card (Pavlov's Bell is mine) and one Autograph Card (Kate Mulgrew is mine).    

Only 200 Boxes of the Cards have been produced so hurry up and get yours before it is too late!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Book Ends and Terry Cloth




Schiffer Books just published two new books that as a graphic designer I find especially fascinating.


Robert and Donna Seecof take a visual look at what many would consider mundane everyday objects: book ends.


But, as a designer who is familiar with the long history of industrial and decorative design book ends are anything but common.   


While it's true that book ends serve what appears to be a simple function: holding up books, their functionality is far outshone by their elegant designs.


Book ends are a visual barometers of the times in which they were created.  Social and popular likes and dislikes are reflected in each set of bookends.


By simply looking at each book end design it's easy to spot from which time period they originated and the art styles that influenced them.


The book contains dozens of color photos of book ends accompanied by price ranges and descriptions. 


Each time period is examined as well as the manufacturers, materials used and rarity.  Art begins with book ends.


Terry Cloth was once only though of as fabric used for kitchen and bathroom towels and occasional for robes and slippers.  But, as the fabric's popularity grew so did its uses until today Terry Cloth can be seen used in   everything from shoes to dresses and more.


Terry Cloth, by Monique Combes, traces the history and uses of the colorful cloth.  From early advertisements to full color photos of Terry Cloth fabric designs the book is a comprehensive and thorough examination of the colorful fabric.  


I plan on using the book to instruct my art students about patterns and color. 

Heroes & Heroines



Love 'em or hate 'em Japanese Anime and Manga are here to stay.  We Americans tend to think of ourselves as innovators and inventors.  While it is true that American artists and writers created what is referred to as modern comic books and animated films and shorts, it took the Japanese to turn both on their collective ears.


Ironically two art forms that were introduced to the Japanese after their surrender in WWII would be conquered by talented Japanese artists and writers.  Even more amazing is the fact that Anime and Manga have influenced, reshaped and revolutionized American animation, video games and sequential art.


It's easy to spot the changes in the way animated TV shows, movies, video games and comic books are being created.  With more attention given to detail, movement, emotion and visual atmosphere it has transformed simple 'funny cartoons' into works of art.


In Heroes & Heroines: Japanese Videogame And Animation Illustration, publisher PIE International showcases the very best character art from Japan's best artists.  Incredibly diverse in styles each page bursts with close-ups, stagnant and action poses, clothing and weapon designs and much more.  

You can literally spend hours looking through its pages and marvel at the technical and creative brilliance it took to create each and every illustration.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Star Wars : A Galactic Pop-Up Adventure


The Star Wars franchise has conquered the movies, TV, toys, games, comic books, books, clothing and just about every other conceivable type of mass market item imaginable.


Stars Wars can now add Pop-Up books to its pop culture conquest.  Scholastic/Orchard/Lucas Books has just released the pop-up book of all pop-up books: Star Wars: A Galactic Pop-up Adventure by Matthew Reinhart.


Measuring in at nearly 2-inches thick the hardbound book with Yoda gracing the cover and large Star Wars type printed in gold foil immediately grabs your attention when seen on book shelves.

Inside readers are treated to fold out Podracers, Stormtroopers, Droids, aliens, planets, cities, monsters, villains, heroes, spacecraft and a spectacular fold-out of Anakin Skywalker transforming into Darth Vader.  As Anakin his Lightsaber glows a Jedi green and as Darth Vader its changes to deadly red glow.

The book is a printed 3D adventure that brings the Star Wars universe and its characters to life in clever folded and cut images. 

Littlest Pet Shop




They are so cute! When Blythe Baxter and her dad move to a new apartment above The Littlest Pet Shop she has a shock in store.  For some inexplicable reason she can communicate with the animals in the shop.

Together they keep the pet shop open and running for its eccentric owner, Mr. Twombly.  If only it were that simple!

Join Blythe and her new furry, finny and scaly friends as they embark on some exciting adventures and learn the bond friends have despite their differences.


Six episodes are include on the DVD collection from Shout! Factory along with two extras: a look behind the doors of The Littlest Pet Shop and coloring pages.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Seeds, Forest, World, Cats And China


Earth Aware Editions has just published five beautiful books that celebrate this big beautiful world we live in.  Each hardbound book boasts exquisite full color photos and art, first-rate printing and binding, heavy coated paper stock pages and slipcovers and tight binding.


These are top-of-the-line publications that would do anyone's library proud.


Some of the smallest living things that exist seeds are the well-spring of all vegetable life.  Their diversity, beauty and structure rival any manmade creation and far surpass them.


Seeds: Time Capsules Of Life, written by Rob Kesseler and Wolfgang Stuppy, with a preface by the Prince Of Wales, examines nature's marvel of genetic blueprints.  The sheer variety of the seeds will boggle the mind and please the eyes.


India's Tale Of Kindness To Animals is chronicled in The Peaceable Forest as written by Kosa-Ely and illustrated by Anna Johansson.  This beautifully drawn and colored book will thrill both young and old with its stunning art and lesson-laced text.


It's too easy to become complacent and satisfied by our immediate surroundings.  Too often, as human being, we tend to see things form only our point of view and seldom, if ever, venture out to explore new cultures, countries and people.


A Day In The World does just that with its photo-packed pages that take readers all over the world and immerse them into divergent cultures and countries.  


The oversize hardbound book contains hundreds of photos of people, places and things spanning the globe accompanied by short information packed tidbits explaining each photo.

For armchair travelers this is the book to look through and may, just maybe, it will provide just enough inspiration to get out of one's chair and comfort zone and discover the world and its people.


I have two cats, both female.  they are as different as night and day and I love them both dearly.  Although domestic occasionally I spot a hint of the wild big cats they are related to.

In Fierce beauty: Preserving The World Of Wild Cats, author Bhagavan "Doc" Antle and photographers Tim Flach and Barry Bland explore the diminishing world of the big cats.  


As man encroaches on the territories of the big cats they are slowly disappearing.  Shown in all their feline glory all of the wild big cats are given their due with large color photos, up close and intimate profiles and poignant text.  You'll never rook at your housecat the same again.


China.  It is a mystery to those of us raised in the West.  Both fascinating and frightening China and its people are enigmas to most of us.  Mysticism, communism, ancient, mysterious and yet compelling-hose are just a few of worlds that best describe Chine as seen by the West.


In China: An Intimate Look At The Past and Present readers are invited to take a photographic journey of the new long march and to discover for themselves the people, places and culture of China.  


After looking through and reading the book I came away with a new understanding of China and its history.  Full-color photos showcase the struggles, strength and cultural pride of a people who have endured hardships few Westerners can only imagine.  

Hold your I-Pad over certain pages and images and suddenly the book comes alive with moving pictures, music and more!  China comes alive in an interactive experience like no other!


Furniture, Propellers And Jets


Furniture.  Pretty dull right?  Normally yes. But, leave it to Hasegawa Hobby Kits to put the terrific in tables and dynamic in desks.  About now you're thinking to yourself, "What in the world is he talking about?"
Chances are if you are a model maker you also collect 12-inch figures-probably military figures.  I collect figures too but I always find myself facing a problem.  Figures need to be in an environment, especially if I create a diorama.  Action poses are easy.


Have you ever tried to make a figure diorama that involves a more 'placid' theme?  Ever try to find 'to scale' furniture for your figures?  Weapons-yes.  Foliage-no problem.  Vehicles-piece of cake.  Furniture?  Not so easy.


Thankfully Hasegawa Model Kits has solved that problem with its new line of 1:12 Scale furniture models.


Two new pieces are the easy to assemble desk with swivel chair and the fold-out wooden table with two folding chairs.  


Follow the easy directions and in no time at all you have two sets of miniature (working) furniture suites that will make your 12-inch figures jump for joy-if they could jump-and if they were real-well, you get my point.


For more conventional models check out four new Limited Edition model aircraft from WWII and contemporary.


The 1:48 Scale WWII German aircraft include a familiar plane recently reviewed by me.  the Messerschmitt Bf109E-4/7/B 'JABO' is the colorful cousin to the Messerschmitt BF109F-4/B 'JABO'.


With its single pilot cockpit, camo paint scheme, bright yellow front fuselage, rear fuselage yellow strip and yellow tipped tail fin the heavily armed Bf109E-4/7/B makes for a formidable tri-propeller fighter with heavy armor, bomb load and wing-mounted guns.  Did I mention the V12 aero-engine? 


Like all of the Hasegawa Model Kits aircraft the Bf109E-4/7/B comes with comprehensive paint, decal and gluing instructions, part trees with easily detachable parts (with little or no flashing) and to scale realism second to none.


Equally impressive is the Junkers Ju87B-2 STUKA w/SKID twin passenger fighter with tri-propeller, full armament and twin front ski skids and single rear skid.   Made for flying in cold mountainous areas the Junkers packed plenty of punch with its heavy armor, easy maneuverability and distinctive upswept wings tipped in yellow.


Speaking of yellow (and orange) the ACE Combat F-14D Tomcat "Pumpkin Face", 1:72 Scale fighter jet comes decorated on its top with a large leering pumpkin face and 'Happy Halloween' across its right wing. The swept back, variable sweep wings, supersonic fighter also includes twin jet engines under twin tail fins, a full weapon complement consisting of missiles, high caliber guns and enough additional firepower to make any opponent think twice about taking on this Halloween horror of the skies.


Display your Tomcat as in flight or with landing gear extended, cockpit open and wings folded. 

The F/A -18F Super Hornet 'VFA-32 Swordsmen' may not be as colorful as the Tomcat but is equally impressive with its similar body/wing/engine configuration and bubble cockpit.  Slightly more aerodynamic, The Hornet is one aircraft that has plenty of sting with it heavy weapon load, missile package and sophisticated electronics.  

Previews, January




Here’s what you can expect in new merchandise in the January Previews.

COMICS & GRAPHIC NOVELS
BPRD VAMPIRE #1 (OF 5)
BPRD HELL ON EARTH #105 COLD DAY IN HELL #1 (OF 2)
SLEDGEHAMMER 44 #1
AME COMI GIRLS #1
GI JOE SPECIAL MISSIONS #1
JUDGE DREDD YEAR ONE #1
TRANSFORMERS FALL OF CYBERTRON #1
MEMORIAL IMAGINARY FIENDS #1
EAST OF WEST #1
FIVE GHOSTS HAUNTING OF FABIAN GRAY #1
AGE OF ULTRON
GUARDIANS OF GALAXY #1
WOLVERINE #1
Hawken: Genesis
Crossed: Badlands #25
Crossed Volume 5 TP
Simpsons Comics #200
Adventure Time: The Mathematical Edition Volume 1 HC
Mark Waid‘s Green Hornet #1
Kitaro GN
Helheim #1
Archer & Armstrong Volume 1 TP
Mobile Suit Gundam Origin: Activation Volume 1 

BOOKS & MAGAZINES
Classic Marvel Figurine Collection Magazine Special: Skurge
Comic Book Creator #1
The Cats of Tanglewood Forest HC
Star Trek: The Next Generation: On Board the USS
Enterprise HC 

TRADING CARDS
Bowman 2013 Baseball Trading Cards
Alphas Season 1 Trading Cards
Superman: The Legend Trading Cards
Marvel: Greatest Battles Trading Cards
Garbage Pail Kids Series 2 Trading Cards 

TOYS & STATUES
Captain Action: Mission 013 Deluxe Action Figure
Captain Action: Iron Man Deluxe Costume Set
Captain Action: Wolverine Deluxe Costume Set
Marvel Universe Action Figures
Django Unchained 8-Inch Action Dolls
Deadpool: X-Force PREVIEWS Exclusive Pencil Cup Desk Accessory 

IMPORT TOYS
DC Comics: Wonder Woman “The New 52” Artfx+ Statue
A Better Tomorrow: Mark 1/6-Scale Action Figure
The Dark Knight Trilogy: Play Arts ~Kai~ Catwoman Figure
The Dark Knight Trilogy: Play Arts ~Kai~: The Joker Figure
Halo 4: Play Arts Kai: Spartan Sarah Palmer Figure
Halo 4: Play Arts Kai: Spartan Soldier Figure
Kobe Bryant Real Masterpiece Figure
Destroyah S.H.Monster Arts Figure

GAMES
DC HeroClix: Teen Titans
Marvel HeroClix: Iron Man 3
Terra Mystica

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Ice Age Continental Drift



Blue Sky Studios and 20th Century Fox HomeEntertainment present the latest adventures of Sid the Sloth, Manny and the other memorable characters of Ice in their newest 3D animated adventures: Ice Age Continental Drift.

When Manny, Diego and Sid are separated from their herd on an iceberg they travel the Seven Seas where the meet sea monsters, pirates and (shutter) Sid’s grandmother!  High seas hi-jinx ensues as everyone’s prehistoric favorites once again turn disaster into laughter.

The new Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy Combo also includes some pretty ‘cool’ extras like sing-a-longs, deleted scenes, music videos, featurettes and so much more.

So, all aboard for the biggest holiday release of the year!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Complete Calvin And Hobbes



I love cartooning.  One of my skills as a graphic designer is that I can cartoon.  I still cartoon.  I now teach high school drawing and dedicate a whole section on cartooning.

I love comic books but I especially love newspaper comic strips.  At one point I had high hopes of being a newspaper cartoonist.

Three comic strips had/have the biggest influence on me: Peanuts, Bloom County/Opus and my absolute favorite—Calvin And Hobbes.

The strip starred precocious and mischievous six year old Calvin and his imaginary friend Hobbes the tiger personified by his stuffed toy tiger.

Together the duo would embark on some of the most imaginative and outrageous adventures imaginable laced with sardonic views of growing up, grownups, school and life in general.
Bill Watterson, the creator and artist of Calvin And Hobbes, imbued the strip with a sense of wonder as seen through the eyes of a young boy.  Watterson’s art captured the innocence of childhood and yet lent itself to depicting some of the most elaborate scenarios as imagined by young Calvin.

The strips’ timing was impeccable and the word play between the two main characters was both funny and poignant.

Andrews McMeel Publishing has gathered ALL of the Calvin And Hobbes daily and Sunday strips into a handsome four volume soft cover collection that is sure to please any comic strip or Calvin And Hobbes fan.

Bill Watterson provides an insightful introduction where he talks about what inspired to create the strip as well as his talent for peering into the mind of a precocious six year old.  Although the strip ran a mere 11 years from 1985 to 1996 until Watterson’s retirement, Calvin And Hobbes still remains a huge favorite of comic strips.