Popular Culture Collectibles Reviews

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Back To The Future The Ultimate Visual History

I am a huge movie fan-especially of fantasy and science fiction movies.  So it should come as no surprise that my top rated films fall in both genres.

Interestingly enough my favorite films all are part of a series of movies.  They are:  Star Wars, Indiana Jones, The Terminator, Ghost Busters, Pirates Of The Caribbean, Aliens, Men In Black, James Bond...and my all-time favorite movie trilogy: Back To The Future.

When Back To The Future Part One came out n 1985 it turned the time-travel movie genre on its ear.

Everything about the movie struck gold from its storyline, casting, direction, movie score, special effects and more.  Originally meant to be a one-shot movie the film struck a cord with movie fans and two sequels were produced and released in 1989 and 1990.

Truthfully my favorite film of the series is Back To The Future Part Two where Marty and Doc have to travel to the future, back to an alternate present timeline where biff is a powerful and corrupt rich man, and finally back to the past where Marty once again finds himself stranded.

Recently the film franchise celebrated its 30th Anniversary and to celebrate that momentous event a new book was recently released: Back To The Future The Ultimate Visual History from Harper Design, written and compiled by Michael Klastorin and Randal Atamaniuk with Forward by Michael J. Fox, Preface by Christopher Lloyd, Introduction by Bob Gale and director Robert Zemeckis provides the Afterword.

Talk about you 'Ultimate' Visual History!

This book goes into extensive detail about all three movies:  casting, storyboarding, concept art, pre-production, post production. practical and visual special effects, costumes, scripting, lighting, conceptual art, inside information, cast and crew commentaries and so much art and photos that will make your head spin.

Also included are special tipped-in inserts recreating certain key prop pieces in the movies such as Marty's family photo, the letter he wrote to Doc Brown, a Tardy Slip, Biff money, a Jaws 19 poster and much more.

There's even a special section on the 3D Ride at Universal Studios and art from the animated TV series.

What a wonderful way to celebrate 30 years of Back To The Future magic.

So hope into your DeLorean, jump on you Hoverboard, hitch a ride in Biff's car or saddle up Doc's horse-do whatever it takes and get this book today!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Huevos: Little Rooster's Egg-cellent Adventure

Are you ready to 'crack up?"

That's good, because I have a new computer animated DVD/Digital movie for you to see that is 'egg'cellent and which you're sure to get 'egg'cited about.

Lionsgate presents Huevos: Little Rooster's Egg-cellent Adventure that is sure to become a family classic.

Join Rolo the teenage rooster who is a chicken-chicken as in frightened by just about everything.

But when a rancher threatens his home and family it's up to him to muster a little courage and deal with his 'shell' shock.

Joined by some of his fellow hatchlings Rolo 'hatches' a plan to save his family, friends and farm.

Rolo has plenty to 'crow' about along with his 'egg'centric friends.

Extras include two versions: one in English and one in Spanish and a Behind-The-Scenes featurette.

First Order Snowtrooper

If you collect Star Wars action figures my advice to you is, "Grow up!"

Grow up to larger action figures that is, instead of those dinky three inch figures.

Jakks Pacific is a 'large' Star Wars fan. So large in fact that it has created a whole new collection of oversize Star Wars action figures.

As part of its 20-inch Star Wars action figure collection the First Order Snowtrooper is one cool figure.

Partially articulated the figure moves at the shoulders, wrists, upper legs and neck.  Display in its box or freestanding-either way it is impressive, "Most impressive."

Starting at the head the figure features a variation of a classic Snowtrooper's helmet,  The upper helmet flanges over the lower helmet covering the back of the neck.

A single black horizontal strip serves as an eyepiece against frigid conditions and whiteout and twin rebreather extended ports tipped by dull gray fixtures set below the lower jaw line.

A black neck covering connects the helmet with the lower solid white Snowtrooper tunic that is partially hidden by heavy chest armor with waist control module and flap-over shoulder guards leading into lower arm gauntlets and heavy all-purpose insulated gloves.

The back of the upper armor attaches to a breather and equipment backpack complete with power couplings, communicating gear and supply nodule.

A black belt wraps the waist with a heavy white buckle and twin satchels with oversize flaps necessary for use in high winds and cold.

Heavily insulted trousers tuck in at the knees at the large arctic boots with multi-straps and ankle guards and thick heels.

A waist to lower knee wind guard hangs from the belt that is open at the front for easy movement.

Included with the figure is a blaster with scope and energy cartridge modified to fire in cold weather.

It's quite an impressive figure that is well-crafted and sculpted, cast in solid white plastic with black belt, insignia, straps and weapon components.

The figure is hollow thus cutting down on its weight.  Construction is solid, articulation points move easily, the figure is well-balanced and poses easily in various action poses.

The blaster switches easily from hand-to-hand and the backpack snaps in and out with no difficulty.


Star Wars fans are sure to love all of Jakks Pacific's Star Wars figures some of which measure over three feet tall and the cost of the figures is a real wallet pleaser. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Jude's Moon and I Wish

It's difficult to find good children's' books that give valuable lessons and help children learn.

Too often the children books are written so children have a hard time understanding them.  So too illustrations are either too simple are too complicated.

It's difficult to find a happy medium.

Author Nancy Guettier has found that balance.
Her books are easy to understand and are complemented by simple, yet colorful illustrations that hint at realism yet retain a childlike quality, whoever the artist might be.

I Wish follows the adventures of two best friends who find a magic wand that grants wishes.  The best friends think about what they would wish for.  The only problem is each wish would separate the two friends.

They conclude that the very bet wish is to have a best friend-something they already have.
The lesson: often our wishes show us that we already have what we need-in this case a good friend.
In Jude's Moon young Jude sees the Moon during the daytime.  His imagination takes hold as the book explores various facts about the Moon coupled with Jude's imaginative scenarios.

In the end Jude uses the Moon as nightlight.  It's a delightful way for children to learn interesting facts about the Moon coupled with childlike imaginings.

Jude's Moon is illustrated by Tina Cash Walsh and I wish is drawn by Meegan Barnes.

Both books are published by Morgan James Publishing.

Star Wars Jedi Master #1, December

"No try!'  "Do or not do!"

Do you think you have what it takes to be a Jedi Master?

Titan Magazines and Disney challenge your Jedi skills with their brand new magazine: Star Wars Jedi Master #1.

Yoda brandishes his green lightsaber as he jumps straight at readers on this first issue's cover
Inside you'll learn what it takes to be a Jedi Master by first learning about The Trade Federation's Trap, Planet Naboo, Naboo Queen's Royal Starship, Trade Federation Battleship and Qui-Gon Jinn.

After pondering and memorizing various facts Jedi hopefuls are given a series of quizzes and skill sets they must complete to start on their path to becoming a Jedi.

There are matching games, Q & A, questions about technology, planets, individuals, battles and adversaries and mazes to navigate.

A double-sided poster is also included along with pertinent information on The Jedi Council, Interplanetary Travel, Droids, battles, Jedi lightsaber training, the Sith and a final confrontation between the Jedi and Sith.

The magazine is chockfull of Star Wars fun facts and information cleverly intermingled with color photos and art to test Jedi hopefuls.

Star Wars fans and especially kids will love to challenge their Star Wars knowledge while learning how to become a Jedi Master.

Friday, November 20, 2015

American Ultra

Mike has always been a dork, lazy and an underachiever.

And that suits his girlfriend Phoebe just fine.

But, when events propel him into a dangerous situation Mike suddenly discovers that he is ,in fact, a government CIA sleeper agent proficient in hand-to hand combat and a plethora of weapons.

As time progresses Mike surprises himself with his new abilities, abilities he never knew he had.  And what's with his girlfriend?  She turns out to more than he expected.

When Mike finds himself the target of hired hitmen his dormant abilities kick in and he and his girlfriend fight to survive.

American Ultra is filled with surprises as viewers discover at the same time as Mike his CIA agent abilities.

It's action -packed, full of dry wit and filled with unexpected surprises throughout the film, courtesy of Lionsgate.

Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD extras include: A Documentary, Featurette, Gag Reel and Commentary. 

Under The Dome Season 3

Based on the book from premiere horror-master writer Stephen King Under The Dome from CBS/Paramount explores the ultimate case of isolation.

When residents of Chester's Mill find themselves trapped under a gigantic transparent Dome panic initially ushers in.

After three years the townsfolk have managed to reluctantly acclimate themselves to their imprisonment.

Nonetheless the frustration at being cut off from the rest of the world has taken its toll.
Paranoia sets in and the unsettling feeling that there must be a sinister reason behind the Dome.

Who constructed it?  Where does it come from?  Are some of the citizens of the township part of the plot?

Season Three delves more deeply into the mysterious Dome and tension run high as frightening new speculations take root and some questions are at least partially answered making the phenomenon even more disturbing.

The entire Third Season comes in specially designed Under The Dome slipcase.
Extras include:

Bloopers, a retrospective of Season Three, Behind The Scenes Secrets, The Season Finale, Deleted Scenes and several other featurettes.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Triceratops And T-Rex



Playmates Toys and Nickelodeon present two new figure from their Half-Shell Heroes Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figure sets for kids ages three and up.

Turn on the cute factor with the TMNT figures specifically designed for young hands and fingers.
Rugged and small enough for youngsters and partially articulated these colorful figures offer hours of playtime fun as you team up the Turtles with dinosaurs!

All the Turtles comes dressed in their traditional attire with their own specific color scheme. 
Miniature versions of there trademark weapons are also included.  Kids can easily pose the Turtles and place weapons in the TMNT's hands.

Donnie & T-Rex make quite a team.  Scaled to the same size as Donnie, the T-Rex is a cute, cuddly version of its carnivorous namesake.

It's big head, short, stubby upper limbs and oversize rear legs, swinging tail and open and close jaw are perfect for posing with Donnie.

Leo & Triceratops make a great team.  Leo brandishes his weapons as he stands by the Triceratops with its spiked upper head flourish, triple horns and low profile orange body with movable legs and tail.

Both dinosaurs feature distinctive color markings: T-Rex with purple and Triceratops with blue.
Collect all the figures in the set and enjoy a blast to the past!

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X-Men #108

In this day and age it may seem hard to believe that Marvel Comics’ X-Men was at one time a middle-tier seller.

The X-Men had never been one of Marvel’s top selling titles during the Silver Age even after Roy Thomas and powerhouse penciler Neal Adams took over the title.

Circulation numbers were still low and the title (while not canceled) began publishing reprints starting in the low 60s issues though the early 90s issues.

When Giant Size X-Men #1 was introduced with the new X-Men team the title slowly began to pick up readers and eventually began publishing bi-monthly.

The title’s young writer (Chris Claremont) and penciler Dave Cockrum infused the X-Men titles with plenty of pathos, angst and a soap opera setting along with plenty of action to pique readers’ interest.

Some little known interesting facts behind the title may surprise some readers.

Chris Claremont’s favorite characters were Colossus and Nightcrawler.  He considered Wolverine a second-string character with very little potential-nothing more than a thug.  In fact, at one time it was bantered about that Wolverine would be a teenager and that his claws were actually in his gloves.  There was even talk that he was a mutated Wolverine!

Penciller Dave Cockrum had left DC Comics where he penciled The Legion Of Superheroes.  Many of the character designs he created for the X-Men were originally intended for use in the LSH: Storm, Colossus and Nightcrawler for example.

As the X-men slowly garnered more readers Cockrum had a difficult time completing each issue’s pencils-he was a slow and meticulous penciler best known for his costume, character and setting designs.   Cockrum penciled the X-Men through issue #107, which introduced the Starjammers and the Shi-ar Imperial Guard (Marvel’s version of LSH), pitting them against the X-Men.

Take note that in issues # 107 and 108 many of the events that would later go on to define the X-Men were first introduced such as Phoenix’s power and Wolverine’s ferocity.

Unable to keep a consistent penciling schedule Cockrum reluctantly quit the X-Men and a new artist, fresh off Marvel’s Spider-Man Team-up, Ironfist and other fill-in issues took center stage.
John Byrne began his impressive penciling run with issue #108 and the X-Men changed forever.

Unlike Claremont Byrne loved his fellow Canadian Wolverine and in years to come would successfully define the berserker X-Man. 

His boundless imagination gave new life to the X-Men with his vast alien landscapes, innovative character desigsn and his unfailing eye for page composition and story pacing.

He, and Claremont, would go on to co-plot the X-Men through its most impressive run until the mid-140 issues when Claremont’s and Byrne’s creative visions clashed, resulting in Byrne leaving he X-Men.

Ironically Dave Cockrum would begin a second run on the title, which eventually fell to the penciling talents of John Romita Jr., Paul Smith, Marc Silvestri and Jim Lee.


X-Men #108 is not the easiest issue to find and is considered by many collectors as the spark that ignited John Byrne’s career.  He, along with inker Terry Austin, brought a new realism to comic books with their collaborative attention to detail.  Their team-up would forever change the face of comic books and would go on to influence a whole new generation of comic book artists. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Child of Two Worlds

When a severe outbreak of Rigelian fever threatens to incapacitate and kill the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise under the command of Christopher Pike desperate measures must be taken.
Too far away from a Starbase to seek a cure Captain Pike orders the crew to pilot the Enterprise to a nearby planet which has a rare mineral element that will cure the crew.

In route, the Enterprise intercepts a small spacecraft being pursued by a Klingon warship.
On board are two woman, one of which had been captured by the Klingons at an early age and has taken up the mantle of a Klingon warrior.

Her sister, kidnapped her from the Klingons and had hopes of taking her home to the planet the Enterprise is traveling to.

Captain Pike and the crew of the Enterprise suddenly find themselves immersed in a struggle between the Klingons and young woman's home planet as to whom she belongs to.

If she is not returned to her home planet the Enterprise will not get the needed medical supplies to cure the Rigelian fever and if she isn't returned to the Klingons the Federation may find itself at war with the Klingons.

Child Of Two Worlds, written by Greg Cox and published by Pocket Books, follows the exploits of the Enterprise crew under the command of Christopher Pike.

A young Mr. Spock must come to terms with his own mixed heritage while attempting to  communicate with the young woman who was captured and raised as a Klingon.

The book begins a series of stories from the original Star Trek series just before Captain Kirk took command of the Enterprise.

For the first time readers are given glimpses of the early lives of Spock, Number One and the other original crew members of the Enterprise.


Star Trek fans are sure to love this latest Star Trek novel. 

Previews, December

COMIC BOOKS & GRAPHIC NOVELS
Code Pru #2 l AVATAR PRESS INC
Jonesy #1 l BOOM! STUDIOS
Kennel Block Blues #1 l BOOM! STUDIOS
Dejah Thoris #1 l D. E./DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT
Grumpy Cat (And Pokey!) #1 l D. E./DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT
The Misadventures Of Grumpy Cat Volume 1 Hc l D. E./DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT
Disney Princess #1 l JOE BOOKS INC.
Persona Q: Shadow Of Labyrinth Side P3 Volume 1 GN l KODANSHA COMICS
Wet Moon Book 1: Feeble Wanderings (New Edition) l ONI PRESS INC.
The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye l PANTHEON BOOKS
School Judgment: Gakkyu Hotei Volume 1 GN l VIZ MEDIA LLC

BOOKS
The World According to Superman HC l COMICS
Wonder Woman: Amazon Warrior SC l COMICS YOUNG READERS
Drawing Beautiful Women: The Frank Cho Method Publisher Edition l HOW-TO
MAGAZINES
DC Superhero Best of Figurine Collection #7: Catwoman l EAGLEMOSS
DC Superhero Best of Figurine Collection #8: Green Arrow l EAGLEMOSS
Marvel Fact Files Cosmic Special #5: Groot l EAGLEMOSS
TRADING CARDS
Bowman 2016 Baseball Trading Cards l TOPPS COMPANY
Topps 2016 Opening Day Baseball Trading Cards l TOPPS COMPANY
Topps 2015 Star Wars: The Force Awakens Series 2 Trading Cards l NON-SPORTS CARDS
Topps 2015 Star Wars High Tek Trading Cards l NON-SPORTS CARDS
APPAREL
DC Heroes: Red Hood Flip Black T-Shirt l PREVIEWS EXCLUSIVE WEAR
Legends of Cthulhu: Battle White Ringer T-Shirt l PREVIEWS EXCLUSIVE WEAR
Howard the Duck: Space Duck Black T-Shirt l PREVIEWS EXCLUSIVE WEAR
DC Bombshells: Harley Quinn Camisole/Panty Set l PREVIEWS EXCLUSIVE WEAR
DC Bombshells: Wonder Woman Camisole/Panty Set l PREVIEWS EXCLUSIVE WEAR
Hawkeye Symbol Knit Beanie l PREVIEWS EXCLUSIVE WEAR
Red Hood Symbol Knit Beanie l PREVIEWS EXCLUSIVE WEAR
Dark Knight III: Prowl by Miller T-Shirt l GRAPHITTI DESIGNS
Flash TV Symbol Season 2 T-Shirt l GRAPHITTI DESIGNS
TOYS & STATUES
iZombie: Liv Moore “Power Up” Action Figure l DIAMOND SELECT TOYS & COLLECTIBLES
Batman 1966: Batgirl Maquette Diorama l BATMAN
Batman Returns: Catwoman Maquette l BATMAN
Doctor Who 5-Inch Vinyl Figures l DOCTOR WHO
Dorbz Horror Vinyl Figures l FUNKO
POP! DC Heroes: Swamp Thing Vinyl Figure l FUNKO
POP! Voltron Vinyl Figure l FUNKO
Minecraft Stop-Motion Movie Creator l MINECRAFT
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Donatello 1/6-Scale Collectible Figure l TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES
IMPORT TOYS
Dragonball Super Master Stars Piece: Son Gohan Special Version Figure l DRAGONBALL SUPER
Star Wars: The Force Awakens: C-3P0 & R2-D2 W/ BB-8 Artfx+ Statue l KOTOBUKIYA
Alien Big Chap Mini Figures l KOTOBUKIYA
DC Comics Variant Play Arts Kai Timeless: Sparta Batman Figure l DC HEROES
Dragonball Z: Dimension of Dragonball: Super Saiyan 3 Son Goku Figure l DRAGONBALL Z
Marvel Retro Deadpool Sofubi l MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE
COLLECTIBLES & NOVELTIES
Attack On Titan: Colossal Titan Bust Bank l ATTACK ON TITAN
DC Superman Logo Business Card Case l DC HEROES
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Vinyl Decal l DC HEROES
Dragonball Z Heat Change Mugs l DRAGONBALL Z
Deadpool: Shark Tank Coffee Mug l MARVEL HEROES
GAMES
Magic the Gathering Boardgame: Battle For Zendikar Expansion l HASBRO - BOY’S GAMING
Magic the Gathering TCG: Oath of the Gatewatch l WIZARDS OF THE COAST
D&D Dice Masters: Faerun Under Siege l WIZKIDS/NECA
D&D Miniatures Set Four l WIZKIDS/NECA
DC Heroclix: Dawn of Justice l WIZKIDS/NECA
DC Heroclix: Worlds Finest l WIZKIDS/NECA

Monday, November 16, 2015

Tomb Raider and Assassin's Creed

Two of the most popular video game series ever produced have obtained their lofty position for a number of reasons: great stories, spectacular art, stunning animation, impressive visuals, resounding sound effects and music, a stellar voice cast and incredible attention given to ever detail.

Titan Books presents two new releases that spotlight and celebrate the impressive talent that went behind the making of Rise Of The Tomb Raider and Assassin's Creed Syndicate.
Both Art Books feature page after page of full color concept and final art (much of it full pages).


Assassin's Creed Syndicate explores the dark, dusty, dirty and dangerous  back alleys and streets of Victorian London during the Industrial Age.

Much of the never seen before art shows how artists and designers recreated the look and feel of that era right down to the smallest detail.

Buildings, characters, locations, attire, transportation and more are represented not as flat illustrations but as lush and rich with light and shadow studies of a bygone era.


Equally impressive is the Rise Of the Tomb Raider The Official Art Book that delves into the mysterious locales and destinations of the world's most famous female explorer.

Weapons, gear, clothing, equipment, characters (both human and otherwise), atmospheric exotic locales, weather conditions and mystic other world like locations are presented in full color.

Both books invite readers to explore the world of video game creation and provide in-depth text and production notes to explain the complicated process by which both were created.

The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction #722, November/December

NOVELLAS
Gypsy– Carter Scholz


NOVELETS
Hob's Choice– Tim Sullivan
Tomorrow Is a Lovely Day– Lisa Mason


SHORT STORIES
The Winter Wraith – Jeffrey Ford
The Thirteen Mercies– Maria Dahvana Headley
Her Echo– KJ Kabza
The Fabulous Follicle– Harvey Jacobs
DreamPet– Bruce McAllister
Cleanout– Naomi Kritzer
It's All Relative at the Space-Time CafĂ©– Norman Birnbach
The City of Your Soul– Robert Reed


POEMS
Phases – Sophie White


DEPARTMENTS
Books To Look For – Charles de Lint
Musing on Books – Michelle West
Films: You Are Me and We Are All Together – Kathi Maio
Books– Elizabeth Hand
Competition #90
Coming Attractions                   
Index To Volumes 128 & 129                 
Curiosities– Douglas A. Anderson


CARTOONS
Arthur Masear, J.P. Rini, Joseph Farris, Bill Long


COVER
"Bhen" By David Hardy

Friday, November 13, 2015

Lereculey and Gatignol

Comix Buro recently added two new artists to its gallery: Jerome Lereculey and Bertrand Gatignol.

Both have distinctive styles that are sure to be eye-pleasers to anyone who appreciates the art of illustration.

Lereculey's Sketchbook character designs and figure studies range from human to animal to the fanciful.

I found his collection of sketches especially interesting.  They gives readers a real picture of the artist's thought processes.  Rough sketches give way to page layouts, tight pencils, inks and spectacular figure and scene designs.

His expertise ranges from the realistic to the fantastic as evidenced by his careful facial and body studies to his intricately detailed fantasy figures such as monsters, gnomes, trolls, knights and the like.

Gatignol's Sketchbook emphasizes his anime and manga influences.

 Obviously a seasoned draftsman his art is clean, crisp and yet displays flights of fancy with its slightly exaggerated human figures.

Sketches range from cute to commanding-all of which are done with careful attention given to line, composition and color.

Both artist make fine additions to Comix Buro's repertoire of artists.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Art Of Halo 5 Guardians

Just when you think that the Halo video game series can't get any better along comes the next version to prove you wrong.

That's just the case with the new Halo 5 Guardian video game release, especially when it comes to the art.

The Art Of Halo 5 Guardians showcases the incredible visual power of the new video game release.


But, Halo 5 did not just spring up out of nowhere.
Inside this book, from Insight Editions, readers are given a tour of the many steps it takes to produce an award-winning video game.

Starting with sketches, concept drawings, character designs, weapon concepts, environment layouts and atmospheric and terrain details and more that all lead up to a spectacular combination of imagination.

Pages are packed with full-color illustrations and paintings, sketches, building and transport design along with color studies, lighting variations and character interaction with game elements on a large scale.

If you're interested in the how and why behind game design then this is the book you want to purchase.

It's a hands-on examination of the massive creative collaboration behind video game design.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Zits Apocalypse

What is the fascination that teenagers have for zombies?  I figured it out.  They're brainless, make guttural noise, shamble about aimlessly and are constantly hungry.  That's it!  Teenagers and zombies are one in the same thing!

In Andrews McMeel Publishing's new Zits collection: Zits Apocalypse, by Jerry Scott and Jim Borman readers will discover just how similar zombies and teenagers are.

Join Jeremy and his high school pals (and parents) as they discover brain power, bad and good hair days, digestion, insecurities, laundry, exercise, food, aging, drones, music, traffic, skinny jeans and just about every other teenage dilemma, insecurity, parental fixation and point of conflict between the generations you can think of.

If you're a teenager, were one or raised one then Zits is it!

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Unless you were alive in the mid-1960s you may have felt a little lost if you saw the Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie playing at the theaters this last summer. 

Based on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. TV series, of that time period, the show starred David McCallum (Ducky on NCIS) as Illya Kuryakin and Robert Vaughn as Napoleon Solo: two super-spies cut from the James Bond cloth.

It was one of my favorite TV series when I was a young teen.  I even went so far as to dress-up like Illya Kuryakin in my black turtleneck sweater and pants.  I even cobbled together a fake radio in a matchbox and owned the infamous The Man From U.N.C.L.E. attachĂ© gun with barrel extension, bipod, scope, rifle stock and extra long ammo clip, along with a The Man From U.N.C.L.E. identification badge.

The series featured a combined network of spies from all countries around the world fighting global terrorism and threats.

The movie, starring Henry Cavill as Solo and Armie Hammer as Kuyakin, faithfully recreates the look and feel of the 1960s, right down to clothing and transportation.

It also faithfully plays homage to the team of Solo and Kuryakin (albeit with a little animosity thrown in to make it interesting.)

The two secret agents are reluctantly teamed together to stop a sinister plot to destabilize the balance of power by the proliferation of nuclear weapons and technology by a secret criminal organization.

In typical super spy bravado the spy duo manage to take on the bad guys, romance the ladies and look smashing while doing so.

Featuring spectacular action, exotic locales, beautiful women and dastardly villains the movie captures the sense of the TV show on which it is based and add a few surprises of its own.


The Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD Combo pack also includes some spectacular extras such as: several featurettes, a on-set insider look and much more from Warner Bros.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Weed Whisperer

Many, many years ago (the early 1970s to be exact) while I was attending The University of Miami in Florida, I got turned on (not that kind of turned on!) by what was then a little known comic strip called Doonesbury.

The comic strip consisted of an eclectic cast of characters derived from the far left to the far right and everyone in between.

At that time the country was going through a mass cultural change.  Woodstock was just a few years behind us and the war in Vietnam, Richard Nixon's Watergate and the Women's Movement were in full swing.

Equal rights, drugs, sex, religion-all were in transition.  Young people were abandoning their parent's vision of the future and everyone was starting to do their 'own thing'.
Doonesbury commented on these social phenomenon in an off-the-cuff, cynical and hilarious manner.

By far my favorite character in the strip was Zonker, the uber-liberal hippie who wanted nothing more than to smoke pot, live free and drop out.

A lot has changed over the decades.  Zonker has grown up (sort of) but his free spirit and unique take on life are as poignant and to the point as ever.


In the latest Doonesbury hardbound collection of daily strips (in color): The Weed Whisperer, from Andrews McMeel Publishing, Zonker and his fellow Doonesbury residents tackle unemployment, government ineptitude, legalized marijuana,, a hilarious class reunion and other social and personal dilemmas and decisions as only G. B.Trudeau (the strip's creator) can portray them.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Zarafa

Imagine yourself a small African boy (Maki) who has been captured and enslaved. 

Miraculously one night you manage to loosen your bonds and escape.

As you run across the savannah you can hear the slavers chasing you.  You are alone, frightened and don't know what to do.

Incredibly you meet an orphan just like yourself-a small baby giraffe (Zarafa) and a nomad by the name of Hassan, Prince of the Desert.

The three new companions travil to Egypt to the Pasha in the city of Alexandria.

The Pasha orders Hassan to deliver the baby giraffe to King Charles of France.

Hassan, Zarafa and Maki begin their long journey in a hot-air balloon to cross the Mediterranean.

Along the way they travel to North Africa, Marseilles, and the Alps to at last arrive in Paris.
But, Maki, knowing what it is like to be enslaved, has his own plans for Zarafa-to free the baby giraffe and return Zarafa home.

Zarafa is a delightful movie, filled with adventure and touching emotional and inspirational moments.

Families will love it, on Blu-ray from Cinedigm.


Extras include a 'making of' featurette, several documentaries, a trailer and sneak peeks of other animated features from Cinedigm.

Gruppo and 318i

Despite Mussolini's bravado the Italians were not a major force in WWII.  Allied with the Axis forces Italy soon succumbed to the Allied's superior forces and found itself a split country-both pro and for the Axis.

While the bravery of the Italians during the war cannot be disputed much of their military equipment was inferior to the Allied forces.

With the introduction of the Italian Air Force's Macchi c-205 Veltro fighter they hoped to compete with the Allied p-51 Mustangs.

Although the Macchi C.205 Veltro '155 Gruppo' boasts a powerful new engine, heavier armament, with two 20mm cannons, they simply couldn't get enough off the ground to make any worthwhile difference in the outcome of the war in the air.

Hasegawa Hobby Kits' 1/48 Scale, Limited Edition model kit of 155 Gruppo is a splendid recreation in miniature of the aircraft. 

With its tri-propeller, single pilot cockpit and all of its historically accurate details (right down to the landing gear) the 155 Gruppo model is miniature masterpiece.

Select from two decal configurations and by using the helpful enclosed instructions assembling, painting and decaling will turn out perfect.

The 1/24 Scale JTCC Auto Tech BMW 318i Limited Edition model kit offers mucho horsepower of a different sort-in a race car.

Lay down some serious rubber and burn up the tracks with this miniaturized version of famous racecar from the 1980s and 1990s.

The German BMW 318i proved itself a winner when it took many of the races dominated by Japanese cars.

Take a look at this beauty with its perfectly scaled and accurate details starting with its low profile, custom wheels and tires, racing configuration and reinforcements for safety.

Parts detach easily from part trees and before you know it you'll be racing this baby straight to your favorite display area.

1001 TV Shows You Must Watch Before You Die

I am one of the first of a generation that were glued to their TV sets when they were kids.

The time was the mid-1950s and has continued to today.

Granted as I've grown older I don't watch near as much TV as I used to,  mainly because there aren't too many shows I like or can tolerate.

I'm not big on the living dead, vampires, mass murderers, over dramatic soap operas and reality TV.

I was raised on cowboy shows, innocent situation comedies, clear cut good versus bad detective shows and variety shows that actually had variety.

Foul language was taboo, bedroom scenes were few (with no mention of sex) and heroes still existed.

Still, there are some bright spots on cable and network TV.  I have my favorites as does my wife.

If you are a big time fan of TV for as long as I've watched it I have the perfect book for you: 1001 TV Shows You Must Watch Before You Die, edited by Paul Condon and published by Universe.

Drawing its resource material from countries all over the world the book examines the best-of-the-best TV series from every genre.

Comedies, dramas, cop shows, sci-fi, fantasy, supernatural, variety, westerns-you name it, this book has them.


Each selected TV series is thoroughly examined and includes a color photo. 
Beginning at the beginning of broadcast TV the book flows through each decade, provides pertinent information for each show including cast and synopsis and even offers a few little known facts about each.

This is the ultimate TV show book that brings back memories and invites readers to discover TV shows they may not be familiar with but deserve watching.


Now excuse me, I need to microwave some popcorn, chill off a 2 liter of Coke and sit my over the hill rear down and veg in front of my TV and read this book while I flip through the channels.