Thursday, April 30, 2015

Avengers and Secret Wars

Free is good.  Free stuff is better.  Free stuff that you can use and like is the best.

I like Marvel Comics.  Marvel Comics likes its fans.  Marvel Comics is giving a way two cool freebies.

One features a certain blockbuster Marvel Comics’ movie coming out May 1st.  The other previews Marvel Comics’ upcoming summer crossover event.

The Avengers Magazine features a full color photo on its cover of the Avengers: Age of Ultron movie.  Inside Marvel Fans learn all about the 50 Greatest Avengers Stories of All Time.  

There’s also a piece on the Avengers big three: Thor, Iron Man and Captain America.  Learn about the co-creator of the Avengers: Jack Kirby and Avengers Year One.

The other current Avengers key members are spotlighted and former Avengers writers reminisce and remember their stints on the titles.

The Avengers Silver Age artist John Buscema is paid tribute, the Avengers’ deadliest foes get their due and current Avengers artists showcase their work.

A sneak peek at the new Avengers movie is included as a full Roll Call of ALL the Avengers members.

Did I mention the magazine is free and it is packed with art!

Secret Wars is the latest Marvel Comics summer crossover event.  The free comic book includes snips of each new series spawned from the event.  If that doesn’t whet you whistle for more art and stories then it’s probably best you take yourself over to Marvel’s “Distinguished Competition.”

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction #719, May/June

F & S F Cover art by Michael Garland

Novella by Robert Grossbach

Novelets by Lisa Mason, David Gerrold, and James Sarafin

Short stories by Albert E. Cowdrey, Sarah Pinsker, Caroline M. Yoachim, Amy Sterling Casil, and Rob Chilson.

Charles de Lint’s “Books to Look For” by Alice Hoffman, Michelle Gagnon, and others

Elizabeth Hand’s “Books”, covering titles by Kelly Link, Eleanor Arnason, and John Connolly

“Films” column by David J. Skal, about “Into the Woods” and “Predestination”

“Curiosities” page by David Langford, about a 1971 book by Edward D. Hoch

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Three Stooges, TV’s Greatest and TV Western Heroes

When I was a kid I’d get up early Saturday mornings to watch The Three Stooges.

I loved watching the slapstick adventures of Larry, Moe and Curly (later on Shemp).

Between eye pokes, pies in the face, equipment mishaps, trouble with the law and other outrageous shenanigans I could always count on The Three Stooges to brighten up my day.

As I grew older I watched The Three Stooges cartoons and I discovered that the original Stooges shorts I watched as a kid were actually The Three Stooges movie shorts shown on TV.

For the first time ever Mill Creek Entertainment presents the entire run of original The Three Stooges movies made in the early 1960s on Blu-ray.

Although older a not quite as spry as they used to be The Three Stooges still delivered plenty of laughs whatever the situation.  Curly and Shemp had both passed away but a new member, Curly Joe, made up the gap.

As an extra-added bonus two movies starring the original The Three Stooges (that included Curly-my favorite) are also included.  They include Time Out for Rhythm and Rockin’ In The Rockies.

The four ‘new’ Stooges films include Have Rocket, Will Travel, The Three Stooges With Hercules, The Three Stooges Go Around The World In A Daze and The Outlaws Is Coming!
All of them are great fun and are sure to make your ribs ache and your sides split.

For you TV show nostalgia buffs out there be sure to pick up Mill Creek’s newest TV Guide Spotlight DVDs called: TV’s Greatest.

Each feature classic TV shows from the 1950s to the 1990s. 

TV’s Greatest Dads pulls episodes from Ozzie & Harriet, The Cosby Show, Bonanza, 3rd Rock From The Sun, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Roseanne, The Andy Griffith Show, Married With Children, Different Strokes and That ‘70s Show.

TV’s Greatest Mom spotlight Ozzie & Harriet, The Lucy Show, Petticoat Junction, Bewitched, The Partridge Family, Maude, Good Times, The Cosby Show, Married With children and Roseanne.

TV’s Greatest Kid stars serves up The Partridge Family, What’s Happening, Different Strokes, The Facts Of Life, The Cosby Show, Married With Children, Roseanne, The Nanny, 3rd Rock From The Sun and That ‘70s Show.

Very Special Episodes pays tribute to Maude, Good Times, The Jeffersons, What’s Happening, Different Strokes, The Facts Of Life, The Cosby Show, Roseanne, Party Of Five and That ‘70s Show.

If you’re into Westerns, specifically Western TV shows, then Volume Two of Mill Creek’s Western TV Heroes should hold you over quite nicely with 300 episodes from such classic TV Westerns as Bonanza, Fury, Red Ryder, The Cisco Kid and over two dozen more great TV Westerns that teach right versus wrong, justice, respect for the law and parents and other important moral standards lacking in much of society today.

For a dose of good old American values from a time when honor, truth and loyalty meant something be sure to pick up this DVD collection. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Four Centuries Of Musical Instruments

Music.  It's everywhere.  Every continent, every country, every village, township and home.
Music touches lives all over the world.  String, horn, brass, percussion-singly or together, musical instruments are the means by which mankind communicates by sound.

You don't have to speak another culture's language. Music spans the gap and communicates with sound and emotion.

Musical instruments have existed since the dawn of man.  Over the centuries they've developed, evolved and matured.

Four Centuries of Musical Instruments by Albert R. Rice from the The Malowe A. Sigal Collection showcases the evolution of instruments over the span of years.

Specific instruments are presented with full color photos along with historical side notes, repair and construction notations and material used.

All come from the aforementioned collection and fill a huge hardbound book proudly presented by Schiffer Publishing.

Banking On Confidence

When it comes to finance (especially personal budgeting), economics, accounting and anything that concerns money I'm luck I can balance on one foot let along balance a budget.

I leave all things financial to my wife.  I've tried to understand local, national and world economic matters.

The problem is whenever I find a book, website or other financial informational source the terms and jargon used are so confusing I'm more in the dark than I was before.

Dale K. Kline, the author of Banking On Confidence: A Guidebook To Financial Literacy from iUniverse, has made understanding economics, finances and how the whole thing works in the business and financial world even I can understand it.

Containing no fancy psuedo-babble, over-inflated terms and explanations or financial double-talk, the book makes it easy to understand the banking industry, economies, fiscal policies and all things money and asset related.

Finally! Everyday economics that make sense!  Now if I can just figure out how to balance my checking account.  

Pacific Rim and Planet of the Apes

About ten years ago the collectible, minimal articulation, action figure market took a heavy blow.  Cheaper, less-detailed and uber-articulated action figures (most downsized to 3 1/2 inches) took over the market, primarily aimed at the child consumer.

While some detailed figures were still produced, collectors watched as the selection dwindled and many of the small manufacturers of collector figures downsized or ceased to exist.

Fortunately for collectors NECA was not one of those companies.  Early on NECA began to diversify, expanding  its product line and garnering  many of the toy licenses from popular TV shows and movies-mostly 7 inch figures, with the occasional foray into larger figures, depending on the licenses.

NECA began to dominate specialty shops, comic book and game shops and successfully introduced its product into larger store chains.

While other high-quality toy manufacturers do exist, NECA flourishes and continues to turn out license properties of the highest quality collector figures-and they are even articulated!

Two such successful property tie-ins produced by NECA are Planet of the Apes and Pacific Rim.

Several series have come out. I'd like to concentrate on two of the figures.

When Pacific Rim hit movie theaters it was a huge success.  Why wouldn't it be?  After all, it featured giant monsters and huge robots.

NECA's Pacific Rim Anchorage Attack Battle Damage Jaeger Gipsy Danger is one of the figures.
Fashioned after the huge robot, the Gipsy Danger figure is painted a dull gray/blue, boasts resplendent decal and paint decoration and looks every bit as dangerous as its large namesake.

Arms and legs are articulated and battle scars and damage are present all over the figure.  Its left arm is severed from its shoulder and wires and gears protrude from the stump.

Gears and pistons are seen partially hidden by the robot's segment body armor, a huge turbine in yellow and orange shows predominantly on its chest, three shoulder and head plates guard the vulnerable head and a huge gash is slashed across its left chest plate.

A detachable hand and lower arm can be snapped on to replace its lower right arm plasma weapon and a partial section of its head component in also damaged and missing.

Paint and sculpting are first-rate with tight articulation points and assembly and overall armor, mechanisms and weapon accuracy are spot on.

The figure's bubble pack allows the figure to be seen in full, labeling is clear without being obtrusive and full color photos on the back showcase other figures in the series.

When the Planet of the Apes movie came out in the late 1960s I was in my mid-teens.  I remember watching the movie and being totally captivated.

The images, concept and storyline were fascinating and yet frightening and I couldn't take my eyes off the screen.

One of my favorite ape characters was Dr. Zaius.  The Doctor made for an interesting character in that he knew (or at least was suspect of) the fact that at one point humans were the predominate species, not apes.

While compassionate, Dr. Zaius was headstrong and set in his ways and very protective of the deception played on the apes-mainly because of its ramifications.

Considered a classic, the Planet of the Apes movie series has its first three chapters remade.  However the original is still my favorite.

The Dr. Zaius figure from NECA looks exactly like the Doctor.

Dressed in tans and browns the Doctor figure looks regal, wise and unswerving.  Articulated and standing seven inches tall the figure is meticulously sculpted, matching the appearance of the film version. 

The Doctor's cane is also included with the window-box figure.  Pay particular attention to the facial details, hand sculpting and careful attention to the paint and color application.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Woodstock Master of Disguise

My second favorite character from Charles Schultz's Peanuts comic strip, after Snoopy, is Snoopy's long-suffering feathered friend: Woodstock.

Named after the famous 1969 rock concert, Woodstock is as over-the-top, unpredictable and non-conformist as his namesake.

He and Snoopy, often with his other bird friends, manage to get into the most ridiculous, outrageous and downright funny predicaments imaginable.

Andrews McMeel Publishing presents its latest Peanuts Collection that celebrates Woodstock and his slightly off-kilter adventures in a new full-color collection that Peanuts fans are sure to relish.

From flying airplanes, ice-skating on Snoopy's water bowl to tackling flying Woodstock can always be counted on to deliver non-stop guffaws and giggles.

Look for the free, full-color, fold-out poster of Woodstock and his best friend, Snoopy.

Previews, May


Archie Vs. Sharknado One-Shot l ARCHIE COMIC PUBLICATIONS

Mercury Heat #1 l AVATAR PRESS INC

The Spire #1 l BOOM! STUDIOS

The Art of Mouse Guard: 2005-2015 HC l BOOM! STUDIOS

Will Eisner’s The Spirit #1 l D. E./DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT


Invader Zim #1 l ONI PRESS INC.

Nickelodeon Magazine #1 l PAPERCUTZ

Nickelodeon Magazine #2 l PAPERCUTZ


The Demon Prince of Momochi House Volume 1 GN l VIZ MEDIA LLC


Final Fantasy Type-0 Side Story Volume 1: Reaper Icy Blade GN l YEN PRESS

Grimm Fairy Tales: Robyn Hood Omnibus TP l ZENESCOPE ENTERTAINMENT INC


The Best of Mike S. Miller Art Book HC l ART BOOKS

The Hirschfeld Century HC l ART BOOKS

Malefic Time: Apocalypse Volume 1 HC l ART BOOKS

The Black Bat Double Novel Volume 1 l PULP HEROES

Star Wars: Jedi Academy Volume 3: The Phantom Bully HC l STAR WARS YOUNG READERS


DC Batman Automobilia Collection Special: Arkham Knight Batmobile l EAGLEMOSS

Ace Magazine #5 l COMICS

The Walking Dead Magazine #13 l MOVIE/TV

Star Trek Magazine #54 l STAR TREK


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POP! Doctor Who Vinyl Figures l FUNKO

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Batman: Arkham Knight Play Arts Kai: Batman l BATMAN: ARKHAM

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My Little Pony: Cookie Jar l MY LITTLE PONY

My Little Pony: Salt And Pepper Set l MY LITTLE PONY


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Magic the Gathering TCG: 2015 Magic Origins l WIZARDS OF THE COAST

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Knights of Sidonia Season 1 l ANIME

Lupin The 3rd: The Castle of Cagliostro BD l ANIME

The Wire: The Complete Series BD l CRIME/ MYSTERY