Popular Culture Collectibles Reviews

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Wings of Angels and Video Games


 
It was the time of Mom, apple pie and patriotic fervor. Glenn Miller and his band and Frank Sinatra topped to charts, Abbott and Costello wowed movie goers with their shenanigans, the 'Road' pictures teamed Bing and Bob, the Lennon Sisters and Betty Grable were America's sweethearts and Americans pulled together to fight the war against the 'ratzi Nazis' and those 'dirty Japs'.
 
America was in the midst of WWI and the future of freedom and democracy were endangered.  Freedom loving young men volunteered or were drafted into the armed services and wives and girlfriends worked in factories and were dubbed 'Rosy Riveters.

The U.S. war machine was in full swing with hundreds of aircraft, tanks and  other military vehicles and supplies being pumped out weekly.  America was out to win the war and nothing dare stood in her way.

Patriotism was at an all-time high from buying war bonds to serving in the U.F.O. and Civil Guard.  Signs of patriotism were everywhere. Flags and banner adorned homes and businesses, paper drives and scrap metal drives helped fuel the war machine and Americans learned to live frugally in order to aid the war effort.

One very important sign of patriotism shown up on military aircraft.  Pilots, crew and ground support would decorate their assigned aircraft with logos and mascots.  Pretty girls were especially favored mascots and the more risquĂ© the better.

Calendars and photos of scantily clad women reminded the men at war who was waiting for them when they got home and one of the reasons they were overseas fighting.

As a tribute to the art of WWII pinups and aviation mascots comes Volume 1 and 2  by Michael Malak and Schiffer Publishing that recreate classic pinup and aviation 'good girl' art using today's top models, print and photography techniques and illustrations to represent the art that 'brought our boys home.'

Lovingly created with gorgeous photos and art, each book brings the war years back (in slightly updated form) with stunning clarity as created by many of today's top photographers and artists.  

In Brett Weiss' new book from Schiffer: The 100 Greatest Console Video Games 1977-19787 readers get to travel down digital Memory Lane and learn everything there is to learn about the early years of video games, the advances in technology, game mechanics and innovations and much more.

Pages are filled with fascinating text, photos, screen captures and more about each genre of video games developed during this important decade.

Break out your controllers, plug in your console and get ready to relive the genesis of an entire entertainment industry.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Crashlings and Cat Paw!



Are you ready to have some ridiculously outrageous fun!?  Get ready to spin, zip, slip, slide, crash, crunch and tumble as you take the meteor mutants from outer spec: The Crashlings, on their rough and tumble adventures.
 
Pick out any meteor ball (in lots of colors) and pop it open to reveal your very own miniature mutant Crashling.  But, be careful, meteors pop up and can fly up to four feet!  Retrieve your very own Crashling for plenty of pop-up fun. They're so ugly, they're cute!

For more fun than any human should have pick up a Crashlings 10 Pack.  Inside you'll get five mutants and four unopened meteors including a double whammy meteor.

Aliens, Dinos, Sea Life, Monsters and Insects-no matter the Crashling, you'll love them all!
Collect all 150 of the adorable ugly mugs and start your own intergalactic zoo.

For some real action pick up The Crashlings Catapult City Playset.  Three Crashlings are included and once you set up your Catapult City they'll whoosh, fling, spring, fly and collide with the stack'em up city.  

Included in the Playset are a Zipline Blaster, High-Speed Launch Ramp, Meteor Control Tower, Stack and Crash Buildings, Stadium Seats and Catapult Launcher.  Let the meteors roll and look out below!

For some feline fun be sure to pay a little 'scratch' so you can get your 'paws' on Wicked Cool Toys' Cat Paw!: the fuzzy, bendable cat paw on an control stick that drive humans and pets crazy with its spring loaded, trigger activated scratching power.  It's 'purr-fect!'

Edge Of Tomorrow



After several dismal blockbuster films actor Tom Cruise strikes gold starring in Warner Bros.’ Edge OF Tomorrow futuristic sci-fi film.
 
Edge Of Tomorrow sees Earth under attack by a vicious and relentless alien force. Cruise stars as military desk jockey Major William Cage, a non-combat military officer, who suddenly finds himself thick in battle-a battle in which he is killed.

Inexplicably he wakes up alive and relives the battle over again, is killed again, and on and on-repeating the battle and dying.

But, he, along with fellow soldier Rita Vrataski, continue to learn with each encounter.
With their experience they decide to take the battle to the aliens and as their battle savvy grows what was once thought as a dismal defeat, humanity now has a fighting chance.

The Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD Combo also features several extras including featurettes on weapons, the making of the film, deleted scenes and more.

Live, Die, Repeat!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

These Are The Voyages TOS Season One and These Are The Voyages TOS Season Two



I’ve long considered myself well-versed and informed when it concerns the facts and fables surrounding the original Star Trek TV series.

After all I am a ‘Trekker’-I watched the TV series when it was first broadcast in 1966 on the NBC TV network on Thursday nights.  I was immediately hooked on the show the moment the starship Enterprise streaked across our small black and white TV screen.

I was 13 years old, impressionable and drawn to the adventures of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Sulu, Chapel, Scotty, Chekov and Uhura. They were like family and like with any family I kept a special scrapbook about them.

If it was about Star Trek, I collected it: TV guides, comic books, a full set of the original Leaf trading cards, ALL of Leonard Nimoy’s record albums, William Shatner’s ‘Transformed Man’ album, toys, games and even an NBC Star Trek press pack complete with DeForest Kelley  autograph.-you name it, I had it.  (I still have some of those items).

Yep, I’m feeling pretty cocky-I’m a Star Trek expert-or so I thought.  That it until I read the These Are The Voyages TOS Season One and These Are The Voyages TOS Season Two books from Jacobs Brown Press, written and researched by Marc Cushman and Susan Osborrn.  Now I feel like a rank amateur.

To state that I’m impressed would be an understatement.  Never have I read books that so completely and totally delve into the original Star Trek TV series than these books. (Season Three is on the way).

The Season One book begins with the life and times of the series creator: Gene Roddenberry.  From his birth up until the time he conceived and produced the original series the book provides exhaustive details on every aspect of his pre-Trek life including his early literary influences, his many TV writing assignments, successful and failed series and much more.

Each book delves into its respective season with full episode breakdowns, behind- the-scenes scuttlebutt and examinations of the ins and out of network TV, executives and decisions.

From casting and guest star appearances, storylines, story-editing, inner squabbles and compromises, studio policies and hierarchy and the like-each facet of the show is examined thoroughly.

I never knew I knew so little about my favorite TV series.  And I love it!  I feel as if a whole new light has been shown on the series which makes it even more exciting to read about.

Whether you’re a ‘Trekker’ or ‘Trekkie’ you’re sure to love this series of books.  “Fascinating.”

Monday, September 15, 2014

Eternals


After artist Jack Kirby's brief, but prolific, 1970's tenure at DC Comics, the King returned to Marvel Comics.  Hoping to recapture some of magic he created at DC Comics, Jack introduced the Eternal to Marvel Comics (a sort of New Gods reboot).  
 
While the characters never achieved the popularity of many of Jack's other Marvel Comics creations, the Eternals would become a crucial part of the Marvel Universe.

Writer Neil Gaiman and artist John Romita, Jr. breathed new life into the Eternals with their successful Eternals mini-series.

What if a group of super-powered beings existed thousands of years ago that were given the task of protecting mankind?  What if no one remembered they existed?

Medical student Mark Curry soon discovers that the Eternals do exist and that he might be one of them!

Shout! Factory presents its Marvel Knights animated adaptation of the Eternals mini-series complete with state-of-the-art animation, stellar voice cast, thundering soundtrack and impressive visual effects.

A special look back at the Eternals with John Romita, Jr. is also included.

Sin City and Spider-Man 2


I've been a big fan of writer/artist Frank Miller's work ever since he helmed Marvel Comics Daredevil.  Other works by Miller include The Dark Knight Returns, Ronin, 300 and my favorite: Sin City.
 
With Sin City Frank was able to let loose, unrestricted by censorship and corporate mishandling.  Sin City allowed him to push his artistic boundaries and write and the crime story straight out of Mickey Spillane.

It's not surprising that Frank's Sin City became a successful movie starring Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba and Bruce Willis.  Filmed in black and white, with color added for emphasis and dramatic effect, Sin City turned the movie mainline industry on its collective ear.

Diamond Select Toys presents a brand new set of figures based on the hit movie.  The deluxe action figures come on diorama bases with accessories.

The figures are reproduced in black and white and grays, emulating the movie's characters and style. All come packaged in oversize bubble packs inserted sideways into wraparound hanging cards decorated with figure photos, the movie's logo and including a short description of each character's role in the story.


First up is the rough and tough Hartigan who have just been released from prison after eight years for crimes he did not commit, taking the blame for Senator Roark's' son.

Fearing for Nancy's Callahan safety (she knew of the Senator's son's crimes) Hartigan sets out to help Nancy, not knowing his every move is being shadowed.

The Hartigan figure is fully-articulated and comes attired in Hartigan's trademark attire: black shoes, gray pants, black shirt, white tie and gray trench coat.

His rugged and scarred face looks grim as he holds a pistol in his right hand and a pipe in his left.  The clothing looks as if it is windswept with its trench coat billowing and tie flaring out.

Sculptor Jean St. Jean has done an excellent job of recreating Bruce Willis' features, albeit with hair, and the clothing looks real with its wrinkles, folds and 'lived in' look.  

Articulation points are well hidden, paint and color is crisp with no spill-over or sloppy edges and sculpted features, hands, accessories and clothing look natural and unposed.


The Nancy Callahan figure captures the exotic beauty of Jessica Alba (kudos Jean St. Jean!) and her stripper attire is revealing without being brazen.

Clothing includes a sequenced spaghetti strap top, leather chaps and boots, twin gun holsters with two pistols (one in each of Nancy's hands), elbow length gloves with long tassels, mid-leg tassels and bikini bottom.  

Nancy's long blond hair (in this case light gray) hangs down over her shoulders.

Like the Hartigan figure the Nancy figure is fully-articulated for easy posing, is expertly crafted from sculpting to paint application and matches Jessica's features and form perfectly.



The Marv figure is definitely the most impressive.  Like the other figures in the set the Marv figure is extremely well crafted with subtle shades of gray paint and color application duplicating the look of character in the film and comic books.
Marv’s face is an interesting melding of realism and illustration due in no small part to the excellent makeup worn buy Mickey Rourke and duplicated by Diamond Select Toys artisans.

The Marv figure stands with legs spread, a pistol clenched in his upraised right hand and with an open shirt revealing a white undershirt and cross necklace. His dark trench coat appears to be fluttering in the wind and articulation on the torso, arms, legs and head are well hidden and integrated perfectly with folds and creases of the figure’s clothing and musculature.

Pay particular attention to the details on Marv’s face, hands, clothes (especially the wrinkles) and body proportions and position.  Every lace on his boots, stains and wear on his clothing and his weathered face are evident.
Marv stands in front of an alley scene: brick wall and littered alley street.  Check out the street drain, pitted and rusted drain pipe on the wall and cracked pavement. An additional axe and gas can are included.
 



The relaunch of the Spider-Man movie franchise changed the look of the film Spider-Man.  While his costume looks similar there are differences-mainly it harkens back to the look of the original Steve Ditko costume design.

The Diamond Select Toys Spider-Man 2 action figure matches the movie version perfectly and with its abundance of articulation the figure poses in the arachnid poses Spider-Man is famous for.

Included with the figure is a long (Todd McFarlane looking) spider web, an extra hand for holding the web and custom base duplicating the look of a high-rise apartment window with air conditioner.  The Spider-Man 2 figure features Spidey's huge costume white and black eyes, red web detail and long and lean muscle appearance.  

Sculpting is perfect, paint is superb and the many points of articulation allows the figure to pose just like Spider-Man!

All three figures are extremely well done. Packages are rugged and can either stand or be hung.  All-in-all some very nicely done figures.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Weird-oh World The Art of Bill Campbell



When I was about ten years of age, or thereabouts, I discovered Hawk Model Kits, specifically the Weird-oh Hawk Model Kits.
 
They were some of the strangest and weirdest models ever produced and I loved them!  As did every other kid about my age.

Weird-oh Model Kits featured bizarre humanoid figures dressed in outlandish genre outfits, driving whacked out cars, race cars and the like.

They were bright, bizarre and best of all they were fun!

Little did I realize that they were the creation of artist Bill Campbell, who was a fine and commercial artist in his own right.

Author Mark Cantrell and Schiffer Publishing have compiled an oversize paperback book filled with drawings and paintings by Bill beginning with his military sketches all the way up to his Weird-oh art and successful Commercial art concept pieces and editorial cartoons.

A whole new generation of Weird-oh fans have cropped up making Bill Campbell's art much loved and appreciated.

Other photos and articles spotlight his model work, illustrations and product designs.  Bill Campbell truly was the original "Mad' man!

Previews, October



COMIC BOOKS & GRAPHIC NOVELS
Crossed +100 #1 l AVATAR PRESS INC
Escape From New York #1 l BOOM! STUDIOS
Abigail and the Snowman #1 l BOOM! STUDIOS
Shaft #1 l D. E./DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT
Army Of Darkness #1 l D. E./DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT
The Sculptor HC l :01 FIRST SECOND
Disney’s Frozen Cinestory HC l DIAMOND COMIC DIST.-STOCK
Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream HC l LOCUST MOON PRESS
Stumptown Volume 3 HC l ONI PRESS INC.
The Valiant #1 l VALIANT ENTERTAINMENT LLC
Master Keaton Volume 1 GN l VIZ MEDIA LLC

BOOKS
Doctor Who: The Visual Dictionary Updated & Expanded HC l DOCTOR WHO
Sons of Anarchy Official Collector’s Edition HC l MOVIE/TV

MAGAZINES
Marvel Chess Collection Special #2: Rocket Raccoon & Groot l EAGLEMOSS
Star Trek Starships Collection Special #3: USS Vengeance l EAGLEMOSS
Ultimate Spider-Man Magazine #1 l COMICS
Star Wars Insider #154 l STAR WARS

TRADING CARDS
Topps 2015 Baseball Series 1 Trading Cards l TOPPS COMPANY
Marvel Dangerous Divas Series 2 Trading Cards l RITTENHOUSE ARCHIVES

APPAREL
Guardians of the Galaxy: “Yondu” Blue/Black T-Shirt l PREVIEWS EXCLUSIVE WEAR
Stark Industries: “World Logo” Red T-Shirt l PREVIEWS EXCLUSIVE WEAR
Marvel: Headpool 950 Zombie Hero Snap Back Cap l PREVIEWS EXCLUSIVE WEAR
The Phantom: “The Man Who Cannot Die” Black T-Shirt l PREVIEWS EXCLUSIVE WEAR
DC Heroes: “Constantine Graveyard” Charcoal T-Shirt l PREVIEWS EXCLUSIVE WEAR
Superman: “Power” by John Romita Jr T-Shirt l GRAPHITTI DESIGNS
Superman: Red Son Symbol Hoodie l GRAPHITTI DESIGNS
Harley Quinn: “Stink Bomb” by Amanda Conner T-Shirt l GRAPHITTI DESIGNS

TOYS & STATUES
Lionel DC Batman M7 Subway Car Add-On Pack l DC HEROES
Breaking Bad: Gus Fring 6-Inch Action Figure l MOVIE/TV
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Action Vinyls Series 1 l TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES
Batman 1966: “To The Batmobile” Maquette Diorama l BATMAN
The Walking Dead: Daryl & The Wolves 1/8-Scale Statue l THE WALKING DEAD

IMPORT TOYS
Marvel Now: Deadpool “X-Force” Artfx+ Statue l KOTOBUKIYA
The Wind Rises l STUDIO GHIBLI
Batman Arkham Origins: Play Arts Kai: Robin Figure l BATMAN: ARKHAM
Batman Arkham Origins: Play Arts Kai: The Joker Figure l BATMAN: ARKHAM
The Dark Knight Rises: Selina Kyle MAF EX l THE DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY
DC Hero Sofubi: Harley Quinn l SOFUBI
DC Hero Sofubi: The Riddler l SOFUBI
Godzilla: Vinyl Wars: Godzilla 1973 Sofubi Overseas Exclusive l SOFUBI
Godzilla: Vinyl Wars: Godzilla 1965 Sofubi Daisenso-Goji Version l SOFUBI
Super Mario Bros.: Luigi S.H.Figuarts l TAMASHII NATIONS
Super Mario Bros: S.H.Figuarts Diorama Playset C l TAMASHII NATIONS

COLLECTIBLES & NOVELTIES
Guardians of the Galaxy Action Hero Vignettes l GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
Guardians of the Galaxy: “Lil Groot” Black T-Shirt l GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
Guardians of the Galaxy: “Neon Symbol” Cardinal Red T-Shirt l GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
Guardians of the Galaxy Symbol 3930 Flex Fit Cap l GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
The Breaking Bad Decal Pack l MOVIE/TV

GAMES
XCOM: The Board Game l FANTASY FLIGHT PUBLISHING INC
The Walking Dead Yahtzee Collectors Edition l USAOPOLY
D&D Attack Wing Wave 3 l WIZKIDS/NECA

DVDS & DIGITAL MEDIA
Robot Chicken DC Comics Special 2 l ANIMATION
Dragonball Z: Battle of Gods l ANIME
Doctor Who: Deep Breath l DOCTOR WHO