Popular Culture Collectibles Reviews

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Legend Of Tarzan

For serious book readers out there who have picked up the classic book Tarzan Of The Apes, and its sequels, by writer Edgar Rice Burroughs, the new 'The Legend Of Tarzan' strikes a familiar cord.
Unlike many previous Tarzan movies and TV series the new Tarzan movie harkens back to the original premise of the classic Tarzan book.
Like the book the movie looks into the origin of Tarzan, including his been raised by apes.  Viewers get to see Tarzan interact with the apes, become one of their own and return to his humanity.
Tarzan (John Clayton, Lord Greystoke) has left Africa, returned to his civilized life as a wealthy lord and married his sweetheart Jane.
But when he is invited to return to the Congo as an emissary he soon discovers that things are not as they appear.  There are sinister forces at work and soon Tarzan must reclaim his ape heritage to battle a murderous plot of revenge and greed.
This is Tarzan as he was meant to be seen: untamed, ferocious, deadly and King Of The Jungle.
Warner Bros. presents The Legend Of Tarzan on a new Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD Combo Pack complete with plenty of featurettes about the film, its cast and crew and the challenges of translating the adventures of Tarzan to the Silver Screen.
Stunning vistas and special effects, tooth and nail fight and action scenes and an underlying love story for his wife and animal family capture the essence of Tarzan as originally envisioned by Burroughs.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

101 Sci-Fi and Horror Movies


Do you love movies?  I do.  I especially love Sci-fi movies.  But, I also like movies from all genres: Horror, Action, Romance, Historical, Westerns, etc.  It's the quality of a movie I look for, not the type of movie.
That's why I am so excited about Quarto Publishing Group's two new books: 101 Sci-Fi Movies You Must See Before You Die and 101 Horror Movies You Must See before You Die.

If you're a movie fanatic like I am you will enjoy each and every turn of the page of each book. 

Full-bleed color photos of classic and much-loved movies are backed up by a full page of exposition about said movies.

Don't look for just domestic films but films made all over the world from the beginning of film making. 
Get ready for some serious fun as you flip through each page, marvel at the photos and get some 'inside' info on some of the best - loved Sci-Fi and Horror movies of all time. 

Alien invaders, killer robots, distant planets and galaxies, unexplored space, inner space, time travel, demons, killers, monsters, maniacs, hauntings and more are all represented in this marvelous dynamic duo of movie facts and photos.


Movie lovers are sure to want these books for their libraries.  I know I'm adding both to mine.

Labyrinth, Gundam, Eye, Phantom and Cobra

For those of you unfamiliar with Anime it is the Japanese equivalent of animation here in the U.S.
While American animation tends to be more 'in your face' Japanese Anime is often more subtle and enigmatic in its execution.
Symbolism plays a huge role in Anime as do quiet, reflective moments, much of it is focused on a single act or a character's reaction to a given situation.
Anime is linked to the Japanese psyche.  Stories represent the Japanese culture, beliefs and perspective.
Colors, textures, light and shadow, character attributes, locales and the environment intermingle to produce animation strikingly different than seen in the Western world.
Not surprisingly the influence of Anime on American animation is starting to show itself.  Compositions, pacing, music, visual and sound effects intertwine to create stories that require the viewer to pay close attention.
A simple scene of an object, a person's glance or even a shift in scenery can alter a storyline and play an important role.
Recently RightStuf! sent me five of its DVD Anime collections.  Right Stuf! has an extensive DVD and Blu-ray collection of Anime ranging from horror to humor. 
The Fantastic Detective Labyrinth DVD collection contains episode 1-25 in order that introduce viewers to the strange and mysterious world of Mayuki Hyuga, the heir to the Hyuga fortune and estate.
Almost doll-like in appearance, the small, frail boy is much more than he appears.
His abilities and skills continue to grow over the years, often surprising himself.  Recently he has solved a series of mysterious supernatural crimes taking place in and about the Tokyo which had been almost destroyed 30 years ago.
He, along with his faithful manservant Seiran Shinano, help the police in their investigations while at the same time attempt to discover the secret to Mayuki's powers and unique abilities.
Dwelling in a Western style mansion believed to be nearly a century old, Mayuki, Seiran, their maid and dog fend off evil that attempts to usurp the source of Mayuki's power.
Joined by his new grade school friends, Mayuki must learn to live as other children do and struggle with his blossoming powers.
Fantastic Detective Labyrinth is a real brain-teaser that will keep you guessing as to what comes next and if what your see is really as it appears.
We never learn.  Despite destroying out world with war and pollution and moving to outer space mankind still manages to tick each other off and starts another war-only this one is much more sinister in its scope.
Determined to free itself from the corruption and political shenanigans of the old Earth the space colony declares independence from its home world.
People are not happy-on both sides.  So like so much of human history chronicles -war breaks out.
Those that rule Side 2 of the space colony begin an invasion of Earth, determined to wipe out the old order.
Unfortunately innocent civilians and the Earth itself suffer the consequences.
One such Earth boy, Uso Ewin decides not to take things lying down and so rebels.  At first unsure of hamlet and his abilities he soon finds himself adept at piloting the Victory Gundam and fights back-with consequences.
His family, friends and the entire Earth suddenly find themselves drawn into an interstellar war where brother fights against brother and family against family, with the fates of the Earth and mankind weigh in the balance.
This is classic Gundam that is in no small part responsible for the huge surge of interest in Anime.  It's cinematic scope, brilliant animation, engrossing storyline and breakout visual effects and pacing set the standard for many Anime that followed.
Grandiose in its sweeping storyline Victory Gundam Collection 1 has it all: pathos, humor, intense character development and much more.  Episodes 1-26, Clean Opening 1, Clean Closing 1, End of Episode Promos and Eyewatch Animation are all included courtesy of Sunrise and RightStuf!.  
Get ready for the ultimate cat and mouse game with a little romance, intrigue, danger and mystery thrown in for good measure.
Three sisters: Hitomi, Rui and Ai Kisingi run the Cat's Eye restaurant next to the police station in Tokyo Japan.
Unbeknownst to the police the three siblings are actually Japan's most notorious jewel and art thieves: Cat's Eye.
The sisters are famous for their daring thefts and clever getaways.  No one has ever caught them, seen them clearly or know who there are.
Surprisingly the police have somehow missed the obvious connection between the restaurant's name and its three owners.  Especially in the dark is Utsumi Toshio, the police detective dead set on catching Cat's Eye.  Even more ironic is that he is the boyfriend of Hitomi.

It's a classic tale of boy meets girl, crook meets the law.
Another wrinkle in the story is that the ladies tend to steal items once belonging to their father who collected stolen art during the Nazi regime.  The ladies rationale is to make up for their father's past sins.
In order to pull off their crimes Hitomi often tips off Toshio about their next crime which she uses to her advantage because she and her sister's spy on the police as the set up their sting.
Watching Cat's Eye I get the feeling I am watching a thriller/spy TV show from the 1970s or 1980s.  Stylized images, quick editing and limited use of computer special effects and sequences give it a bit of a 'dated' look, but in a good way.
The interesting storyline sets up a feeling of tension and anticipation because the viewer is never quite sure what will happen next especially since a romance between a thief and a cop is taking place creating an atmosphere of uneasiness because viewers never know when the secret will be revealed.
The Cat's Eye DVD collection includes episodes 1-36, a clean opening and closing and trailers from Nozomi Entertainment.
Creepy-that's best word I can use after watching Nozomi Entertainment's Boogiepop Phantom Complete TV series put out by RightStuf!
I wasn't really sure what to expect.  Boy! Was I surprised!  Boogiepop Phantom dials up horror by slowly, almost painfully offering viewers glimpses of strange supernatural happenings.  Figures appear out of nowhere, things lurk in shadows, people aren't people but things, city alleys and hidden alcoves hide creepy unworldly creatures hell-bent on destroying humans and devouring them both body and soul.
Five years ago a series of grisly killings has the city in an uproar. Families are afraid to go out at night, children stay indoors to play and no one walks alone, especially at night.
Soulless creatures take on human form seeking out those steeped in depression and loneness.  They make for easy prey.  When the time comes to consume them most surrender rather than choose to live.
An experimental drug goes wrong and changes individuals to more (and less) human, granting them superhuman strength and endurance.  Indirectly it also created creatures who seek out and consume human flesh and souls (or so it would appear.)
Boogiepop Phantom pursues such creatures and 'saves' certain individuals-placing them in a dream world for their protection.
Five years after the grisly murders they resume and the battle against lightness and darkness soon escalates to a higher degree.
Can the city and its citizens be saved and what are the long-term effects of the drug?  Have reality and fantasy combined?  Does the past, present and future intermingle?
The more I watched the series the more questions I had. 
What struck me the most about Boodgiepop Phantom was the imagery.  Fragments of images, flashes of light and dark and scenes shown from different perspectives give the series a unique look.
I was never really sure what I was witnessing and I believe that's the whole point.  Often what we perceive or think we see is the scariest.  For something to be truly unknown it must be totally unfamiliar. Boogiepop Phantom manages to give viewers an easy, unsettling feeling in the pit their stomachs.  Every moment I found myself anxious as to what might happen the next minute.
Beautifully illustrated and animated, Boogiepop Phantom succeeds on many levels: as a horror story, mystery, thriller and suspense tale.
There's something quaint and charming about old school Anime.  Not quite as sophisticated as today's computer animated that is enhanced and visually sophisticated, older Anime still has its merits.
Sure the characters look a bit dated, the special effects kind of quirky and the animation a little more low-tech, but where most old school Anime lack in razzle and dazzle they make up for it with clever stories, inventive pacing and interesting characters.
Space Adventure Cobra is just such an old style Anime series.
In Space Adventure Cobra The Original TV Series part 2 DVD set, all-around rough and tumble good guy and womanizer Cobra is recruited by Dominique in order to infiltrate the infamous and dangerous Pirate Guild Rug sport.
Using his position as a Rug Ball player Cobra hopes to find out about the Guild's drug ring, escape the training camp and report back to the authorities so they can put an end to the Guild.
A few problems may make that difficult.  The other team members have it out for Cobra and the Guild discovers Cobra's true purpose.  Infuriated at his disruption of their illegal activities the Guild will stop at nothing to enact its revenge on Cobra including hunting him down and killing and destroying everyone and everything he holds dear.
Episodes 16-31 are included on the DVD set from Nozomi Entertainment.
For some good old fashion Anime fun be sure to pick up your copy today and reacquaint yourself with a classic Anime that influenced and set the standard for many of the Anime produced today.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Home Front, Tanks and Knights

Back when I was in my early teens (the late 1960s) my mother and I lived next door to a family that had occupied the same house for four generations.  They all were pack rats-keeping every family memento and item over the years.  Surprisingly they were very well organized.

Occasionally I would stop by their home and walk through their generational museum.  It was fascinating.

One day the current occupants decided to sell off their ancestral home, downsize and move out of town.  They hired my friend and I to help them move their items.  When we were all done they told us that anything left over that they decided not to take with them my friend and I could keep.

Needless to say, I was thrilled.  We searched about grabbing items here and there.  When we came to the rickety back porch a large steam chest caught my attention.  Opening it up I discovered it filled to the brim with World War II memorabilia: ration stamps, clippings, etc-the majority from the home front.

I took everything.  Since WWII had ended a mere 20+ years previously, like any young boy at the time, I was fascinated by the entire conflict.  Many WWII veterans lived nearby and I would sit and listen to them for hours talk about the war, both overseas and its repercussions stateside, for hours.

Harper Collins and Andre Deutsch, along with writer Juliet Gardiner, recount the war years as it affected the British Home Front.

'The Second World War Home Front Life In Britain During The War' is a hardbound book encased in a vintage looking slipcase that offers readers the opportunity to experience the war as British civilians.

This handsome book is filled with archive photos, document reproductions and recollections of those who experienced the war.

From the war's onset the book chronicles the hard years as experienced by the besieged Brits.  Maps, documents, newspaper clippings and other memorabilia of the war are complemented by photos, war propaganda and more. 

Special dipped in and inserted extras include recreated posters, correspondence, pamphlets, maps and government, business and personal documents that make the war come alive.

Experience the hardships, sacrifices and lives of those who endured the war at the home front.
Modern warfare (the past 100 years) has seen incredible advancements in mechanized weapons of destruction.

One such weapon, the tank, has undergone a startling evolution of capabilities and killing efficiency.

In 'The Tank Museum Tanks 100 Years OF Armoured Warfare' authors Robin Cross and David Willey, along with publisher Andre Deutsch, chronicle the long and bloody history of the mechanized might of Tanks.

From their early days as clunky, slow and ponderous, tin cans on treads, tanks have evolved to one of the mainstays of war.

As seen in this hardbound book in a slipcase, tanks have become more and more efficient as killing machines taking on new capabilities and sophistication.

Black and white and color photos follow the slow transformation of the tank from a simple cannon on wheels to its modern personification as a mobile weapon platform, troop transport, ground troop support and mobile command center.

Extensive vintage photos and document reproductions immerse readers into the world of tanks from all over the world.  Key campaigns, pivotal battles and more are revisited using informative text, graphics and photos

Schematics, maps, stats and more introduce readers to the armored might of tanks as experienced by their crews and commanders.

Another type of armored war machine war were the Medieval Knights.  These stalwart warriors rushed into battle upon their armored and festooned steeds, clothed in heavy armor and equipped with the then state-of-the art hand weapons.

As a young boy I remember buying a knight's castle play set advertised on the back of a comic book.  Over 100 knights, Medieval war catapults and weapons of war, along with castle walls, made up the set.  I played with it for hours until I lost most of the pieces and it literally fell apart.

In 'Knights Secrets Of Medieval Warriors' by Henry Templeman from Carlton Kids, readers are in for a treat as they travel back in time and get to experience life as a knight.

From early training as squires, young men rose in the ranks to don the armored might of a knight.  God, King, Queen and country were served by those armored minions of righteousness (mostly) as they provided protection for the realm against invaders, rebellions and more.


Learn all about their training, armor, weapons, creed, steeds, duties, keeps and castles and more as you steep yourself in history courtesy of archival paintings and illustrations and modern computer recreations and photos of jousting and Medieval recreations and reenactments.

Trees and ATTU

A big 'welcome' to Dover Publications to the review pages of www.bamcc.net.

After retiring from teaching drawing and commercial art at a local high school over a year ago the drawing bug has struck me again and I'm cranking out a prodigious amount of work.  

As any serious artist will tell you drawing, or art, takes a lot of sweat and research.  Images do not flow like magic from and artist's fingertips-it take a lot of hard work.

Over the last few weeks I've began to accumulate a lot of reference books on many different subjects.

Transportation, architecture, figures, portraits, costumes and other books are being added almost daily to my reference library.

Ask any artist (at least in my case) and they'll say one of the hardest things to draw is trees.  Sounds silly right?  Not really.

Trees are especially complex subject to draw and to make them look natural.

Shading, line quality, proper placement in their respective environments, natural settings, complementing man-made structures and more are difficult techniques to draw correctly.

Frank M. Rines 'How To Draw Trees' is an invaluable resource for any artist wishing to tackle one of nature's most complex creations.

Whether solitary or in forests or smaller clusters each type of tree is covered in great detail with beautifully illustrated examples of trees of every variety.  I plan on following each and every word of the author's advice as I populate my drawings with trees.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love comic book and comic strip artwork.  I have my favorite gallery of artists, but now and again an artist of outstanding talent slips by me.
One such artist is Sam Glanzman whose graphic novel creation 'ATTU" has grabbed my attention.

Up until this point I was unaware of his work but I must say after reading through and looking at his work I've become a big fan.

Rendered in black and white the ATTU The Collected Volumes really showcase his work that reminds me of Joe Kubert's and Tim Truman's art (Tim provides an introduction).

Jeff Lemire writes the foreword and one-time Swampthing artist Stephen R. Bissette provides the afterword.

Looking through ATTU you can watch as the artist's work matures and takes on new challenges.  As an artist myself I appreciate the amount of hard work and exhaustive reference gleaning it took to produce such a collection.

Central Intelligence Unrated

In my opinion one of the most unappreciated actors currently in films is one-time WWE wrestler Dwayne Johnson (The Rock). 

Over the last 10-15 years Dwayne has proven himself to be an actor of wide scope from intense action and drama to witty and satirical comedy.

He is fearless with his acting.  Whether its a sentimental, heart-string pulling moment or the willingness to dress up in the most ridiculous outfits Dwayne takes on all challenges-much like he did during his wrestling career.

In the Central Intelligence Unrated Blu-ray release from Warner Bros. Dwayne plays one-time, overweight and bullied geek Bob who completely turned his life around as he grew older.
Enlisting in the CIA he becomes one of the agency's top operatives. 

When he attends his high school reunion he teams up with his reluctant 'big man on campus' former schoolmate who is now an account.

Together they plunge head-first into the world of espionage complete with spies, hired killers, shoot-outs, stand-offs and danger.

Join Dwayne Johnson and his costar and comedian Kevin Hart as they prove that opposites do attract and that you can never know what your life might bring your way. 

Johnson and Hart prove to be an outrageously funny team offering up plenty of laughs as they manage to take on the world of Central Intelligence without much intelligence of their own.

Blu-ray extras include a Director's commentary, a gag reel, alternate scenes and other outrageous featurettes.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

DC Comics Covergirls

To quote Cindy Lauper, "Girls just want to have fun!"

Or rather, "Women just want to kick behind!"

Over the past two decades or so women have been given their just due in TV shows, movies, theater and in all form of mass media pop culture genres.

Recently women have taken front row and center in comic books.  Although there have always been strong, free-spirited and independent women portrayed in comic books, the trend is in full swing in mainstream and small print comic books.

DC Comics has always been in the forefront of depicting strong leading women in its titles.   
So often in the past women who showed the tiniest bit of independence or backbone were often shown as plain, beefy, unattractive and prone to fits of over excessive emotions or no emotions at all.

That's changed.  Today's women in comic books are strong, confident and professional and attractive.

Quarto Publishing Group/Chartwell Books and writer Louis Simonson present DC Comics Covergirls that prove that beautiful women can be smart, strong, confident and just as capable as any beefed-up male.

Adam Hughs provides the foreword for this beautiful compilation of artwork taken from DC Comics and its imprints.

Cover art and interior pages spotlight the 'big name DC heroines such as Wonder Woman, Lois Lane, Supergirl and the like.

Additional sections shine a light on other super-heroines and super-villainesses such as Batgirl, Catwoman,  Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn and more along with Vertigo femme fatales.

Fascinating history-laced text and character insights make this a wonderful read and a pure delight for the eyes.  Over 200 full color images are included counting covers, interior art and character galleries.

Previews, October

COMIC BOOKS & GRAPHIC NOVELS
Rough Riders Volume 1 TP l AFTERSHOCK COMICS
Reggie & Me #1 l ARCHIE COMICS
Uber: Invasion #1 l AVATAR PRESS
The Avengers: Steed & Mrs Peel: The Diana Magazine Stories Volume 1 GN l BIG FINISH PRODUCTIONS
Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: Giants #1 l BOOM! STUDIOS
Klaus and the Witch of Winter One-Shot l BOOM! STUDIOS
Wonder Woman ‘77 Meets the Bionic Woman 77 #1 l D.E./DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT
Red Sonja #0 l D.E./DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT
Another Castle: Grimoire TP l ONI PRESS
Disney’s Great Parodies Volume 1: Mickey’s Inferno GN/HC l PAPERCUTZ
Hookjaw #1 l TITAN COMICS
World War X #1 l TITAN COMICS
Divinity III: Stalinverse #1 l VALIANT ENTERTAINMENT
Tomie Complete Deluxe Editon HC l VIZ MEDIA
The Pokemon Cookbook Sc l VIZ MEDIA


BOOKS
Mercenary: The Freelance Illustration of Dan Brereton HC l ART BOOKS
Krazy: The Black & White World of George Herriman HC l COMICS
The Art of Archer HC l MOVIE/TV
The Art of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story HC l STAR WARS
Star Wars Little Golden Book: I Am a Stormtrooper l STAR WARS - YOUNG READERS
MAGAZINES
Doctor Who Magazine Special #45: 2017 Yearbook l DOCTOR WHO
Birth.Movies.Death. Magazine: Tim Burton Commemorative Edition l MOVIE/TV
TRADING CARDS
Star Trek: The Original Series 50th Anniversary Trading Cards l RITTENHOUSE ARCHIVES
Topps 2017 Baseball Series 1 Trading Cards l TOPPS COMPANY
APPAREL
Adventure Time: “Boom Anime” White T-Shirt l PREVIEWS EXCLUSIVE APPAREL
Buckaroo Banzai Institute Hoodie Black l PREVIEWS EXCLUSIVE APPAREL
Doctor Who: “Four Doctors Band” Black T-Shirt l PREVIEWS EXCLUSIVE APPAREL
Doctor Who: “Four Doctors Catchphrases Comic Book” Black T-Shirt l PREVIEWS EXCLUSIVE APPAREL
Marvel Heroes: “Lady Aranas” White T-Shirt l PREVIEWS EXCLUSIVE APPAREL
Marvel Heroes: “Spector In Flight” Black T-Shirt l PREVIEWS EXCLUSIVE APPAREL
Suicide Squad: Belle Reve Logo Knit Beanie l PREVIEWS EXCLUSIVE APPAREL
Suicide Squad: Belle Reve Logo 3930 Flex Fit Cap l PREVIEWS EXCLUSIVE APPAREL
Suicide Squad: Task Force X Logo 3930 Flex Fit Cap l PREVIEWS EXCLUSIVE APPAREL
The Flash TV II Symbol T-Shirt l GRAPHITTI DESIGNS
TOYS & MODELS
The Nightmare Before Christmas Glass Tumblers l DIAMOND SELECT TOYS
Marvel Fact Files Special #2:4 War Machine l EAGLEMOSS COLLECTIONS
Dc Chess Collection: The Complete Justice League Set l EAGLEMOSS COLLECTIONS
Alien & Predator Figurine Collection #1: Alien Xenomorph l EAGLEMOSS COLLECTIONS
Alien & Predator Figurine Collection #2: Scar Predator l EAGLEMOSS COLLECTIONS
Fantasy Figure Gallery: DC Comics Collection: Batgirl 1/6-Resin Statue l DC HEROES
POP! Conan the Barbarian Vinyl Figures l FUNKO
World of Pop Volume 5 HC l FUNKO
Avengers Legends Gear: Captain America Shield l MARVEL HEROES
Avengers Legends Gear: Iron Man Electronic Helmet l MARVEL HEROES
Scott Pilgrim: Ramona Flowers 9-Inch Collectible Vinyl Figure l SCOTT PILGRIM
Star Wars: Rogue One Black Series: Sgt. Jyn Erso 6-Inch Action Figure l STAR WARS
Star Wars: Rogue One: Stormtrooper Voice-Changer Helmet l STAR WARS
IMPORT TOYS
Godzilla 12-Inch Series: Godzilla 2014 Version l GODZILLA
Godzilla 12-Inch Series: Godzilla 2001 Version l GODZILLA
Dc Universe: Green Lantern Artfx Statue l KOTOBUKIYA
DC Comics: Batman & Robin Artfx+ Statue 2-Pack l KOTOBUKIYA
Final Fantasy Advent Children Play Arts Kai: Sephiroth Figure l FINAL FANTASY
Kirby’s Dream Land: Meta Knight Nendoroid l NINTENDO
Toy Story Chogattai: Buzz the Space Ranger Combiner Chogokin Figure l TOY STORY
Bioshock: Infinite Elizabeth Statue l VIDEO GAMES
COLLECTIBLES & NOVELTIES
DC Heroes Vinyl Decals l DC HEROES
Doctor Who: “Four Doctors Colour Catchphrases” Coffee Mug l DOCTOR WHO
Doctor Who: “Three Doctors Selfie” Coffee Mug l DOCTOR WHO
Marvel Heroes: The Infinity Gauntlet Cookie Jar l MARVEL HEROES
Marvel Heroes Vinyl Decals l MARVEL HEROES
GAMES
Batman: The Animated Series: Almost Got ‘Im Card Game l CRYPTOZOIC ENTERTAINMENT
Exploding Kittens Card Game l EXPLODING KITTENS
Robo Rally Classic Strategy Game Cs l HASBRO

Burke’s Gambit Board Game l WIZKIDS/NECAWWE

Saturday, September 17, 2016

WWE Nitro Machines and Nitro Sprints

Are you ready for some 'explosive' fun?  Then get ready for Playmates Toys' Nicro Machines and Nitro Sprints starring some of your favorite wrestling stars.

The Rock is dressed in his black muscle shirt and beckons contenders on as he sits atop his custom black Bull Bruiser Pick-up Truck,  Rev it up and watch The Rock go as he races down the fairway or after those foolish enough to take him on in the ring.

Double your fun with the John Cena with The Cenarator vehicle and figure two-pack.

Place the miniature John Cena figure into the Cenarator and watch him go! Take him out, spin his wheels and he's the fastest wrestler in the ring!

Both the Nitro Machines and Nitro Sprints feature four wrestling figures.  Each action toy is rugged (just like the wrestlers) for hours of play and fun.  Kids are sure to 'wrestle ' up a good time! 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The War Years, Heads and Cars

The top two things I like to do the most are draw and read comic books.

Hachette Book Group/Quarto Publishing Group must have been reading my mind because it sent five books that feed my desire to draw and read comic book courtesy of several of its imprints.

DC Comics introduced superheroes to comic books beginning with the introduction of Superman in Action Comics #1 in the year 1938. 

Not too long afterwards Batman and Wonder Woman soon took their places on magazine racks.

A plethora of copycats inevitably sprung up from other publishers anxious to cash in on the superhero comic book craze.

In 1941 when the United States entered WWII it seemed a natural fit that superheroes would play a pivotal role in the war effort.  Superheroes became so identified with the war that after the Allied victory in 1945 superheroes began to fall out of favor with the general public which was desperately trying to put the war behind them.

But, during the heydays of the war Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman were in the thick of the action and their respective comic books sold in the millions.

Chartwell Books presents a colorful trio of books dedicated to the war years of Superman, Batman and Wonder Women containing 20 classic tales each pulled from the DC Comics' vault spanning the years 1938 to 1945.

Writer Roy Thomas (longtime comic book scribe) has compiled three marvelous, hardbound collections in full-color of the earliest adventures of the DC Trinity of superheroes.

Beautiful full-color covers complemented by spot varnish action scenes spotlight the three heroes.

Inside each book are stories of their war efforts from fighting spies and saboteurs here at the home front to battling the evil forces of Axis Powers overseas.

This is where superheroes earned their stripes and became the instantly recognizable icons of pop culture we know and love today.

Any die-hard comic book fan is sure to want these three outstanding books for their collection.
Recently the drawing bug has bit me again after having taken time off from my drawing table the past year.  Once bitten by the drawing bug it is hard to shake.

As an artist and designer I hunger for how to draw, paint or design new things and to improve those things I feel most comfortable with when I sit down at my drawing table.

I often mentioned to my high school art students when I was teaching that art is the only occupation that is based on failure.  Simply meaning that each drawing, painting or design urges artists to push on and create something even better.  It is a constant learning process.

From Walter Foster's Drawing Made Easy series comes Lifelike Heads: an excellent resource by Lance Richlin than offers a step-by-step series of illustrations created to help artists master drawing human heads-both male and female.

Beginning with simple shapes the series explores eyes, mouths, face shapes, shading and so much more.  It's a great first step in mastering the art of drawing human heads.

Thom Taylor, Lisa Hallett and Motorbooks Studios tackles high-tech with their marvelous new book called How To Draw Cars Like A Pro 2nd Edition.

I'm excited about this book.  I've often found it difficult to draw things mechanical and I'm anxious to take what I learn from this book and apply it to my drawings.

From simple shapes, perspective, light and shadow, color, exteriors, interiors, cutaways to using computers to render car designs this book has it all!


I can hardly wait to start drawing!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Scorpion and Hawaii Five-O


I remember my skepticism when I heard that CBS was planning to put on the air a new version of my favorite old TV series Hawaii Five-O.

Surely no one could replace Jack Lord as Steve McGarrett, head of Hawaii Five-O, and the other classic cast members.

I admit it, I was wrong.  The new cast and crew have successfully updated the classic TV show and its premise for the 21st Century and made it a top TV show.

Fast-paced, suspenseful and relevant the show is a big hit with fans, just like the old series.
Here it is the seventh season and CBS/Paramount has released the entire sixth season on DVD.


Every action-packed episode is in its entirety.  Loaded with spies, the mob, assassins and every other type of domestic and international criminal undertaking, the series proves that good guys finish first.

Enjoy the entire sixth season episodes along with over an hour of extras including lots of featurettes about the series and cast and crew, extended and deleted scenes, a gag reel and music video.  "Book 'em Danny!"

Celebrating its completed second season is the CBS TV series Scorpion about a ragtag group of social, genius misfits who are operatives under Homeland Security.


Watch as these geeks and freaks manage to thwart the most deadly of crimes and save countless lives.  All 24 episodes are included along with deleted scenes, commentary, featurettes, a gag reel and much more.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Churchill, Countach 5000 and DAF 95 Canvas

Let's talk about Churchill.  No, not Winston Churchill, the former British Prime Minister during the WWII who was known for being a 'bulldog' when it came to facing off against the Axis Powers.

No, rather let's talk about Italeri's new Churchill WWII armored tank model kit that can be slightly modified, decaled and painted to represent six different armored tanks: Mk. III, Mk. IV, Mk V, Mk III Kingforce, NA 75 and AVRE.

Part of Italeri's Warlord Games collection the solid gray parts come on three part trees, detach easily and neatly and also includes a single human (to scale) figure decal sheet and easy-to-follow instruction for assembly and a full-color paint application guide on the back of the model kit box.

The majority of boys and men at one time in their lives have dreamed of owning and driving a luxury sports car.


Few of us actually can afford to purchase such cars but we can dream.
Well dream time is over. For you 'financially challenged' boys and men out there you may never see or own an actual high dollar sports car but now you have the next best thing.

Italeri's Lamborghini Countach 5000 Quattrovalvote 1/24 Scale model kit may not be the real thing but it certainly looks like it.

This beautiful model kit features all the Lamborghini bells and whistles you would expert from a luxury sports car minus the price tag.

Molded in sold white and black the model kit feature rubber tires, a plethora of chrome parts, a boatload of interior and exterior details and accessories and  lots of windows.

Sleek with a low profile, this beauty has it all including a revved out engine, a luxurious interior and so much more.

Put this baby together and imagine yourself driving down the freeways in Europe in your custom, 'very' expensive sports car that only a few can afford.

It may not be as pretty as a Lamborghini or as luxurious but it's just as impressive and a lot more practical, especially if you drive a truck for a living.

The DAF 95 Canvas semi-truck with trailer is a 'must have' model kit for any truck lover.
At 1/24 Scale this model packs on the details and accessories with its fully equipped cab featuring a roof wind deflector, heavy duty frame and bumpers, integrated headlights and turn signals, twin roof horns, oversize side mirrors and flat face with huge front windshield and side windows. 

Just as impressive is its undercarriage, fully-detailed engine, maxed-out interior with full dash, seats and controls and more.

The powerful semi easily pulls along the eight wheel canvas-side trailer with reinforced frame on its sides and back and chrome fenders and bumper.

You'll be equally impressed with its heavy under frame, large cargo hold and engineered modular carriage.

Anyway you drive it, it's a lean, mean, hauling machine that is captured perfectly in miniature.

Follow the detailed instructions, paint it, decal it and assemble it and before long you'll be on the road!

Star Trek The Official Magazine Exclusive Mission New York Edition

Titan Magazines celebrates 50 years of Star Trek with its special Star Trek The Official Magazine Exclusive Mission New York Edition, September, #58, featuring a stark black cover with a 50th Anniversary Star Trek logo.

Inside Trekkies (or Trekkers as they preferred to be called) are given a grand tour of all things Star Trek starting with a look at the new Star Trek Discovery TV series.

Things pick up at warp speed as The Kelvin Timeline is explored, Comic-Con celebrates 50 years of Star Trek, 50 artists contribute their own unique visions of Star Trek and sort through Trek memorabilia.

William Shatner (Captain Kirk) reflects back on the success of Star Trek, a special Anton Yelchin memorial is given and Star Trek Beyond is reviewed.

The illustrious career of Trek creator Gene Roddenberry is spotlighted, an original fiction story about Scotty is included and actress Nana Visitor looks back on her stint as a Bajoran. In Part One: To Have Boldly Been several Star Trek TV series stars reflect on their Trek connection, the infamous Trek MacGuffin is explored, the life of Worf is examined and the various careers of Star Trek captains are chronicled.

Watch as the original Enterprise model is lovingly repaired and refurbished, take a look at Trekology, the IDW Star Trek series are given their due, experience Starfleet Academy, read the new Star Trek books from Pocket Books, Data speaks, prepare for some Klingon Konflict and get ready to chuckle at the Starship Trekkers Beyond Belief comic strip. 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Painterly Days, Fashions and All-American Girls

I'd like to take a slightly different approach to this review, not so much as a book reviewer but as an artist.

Over the years I've made a profession of art from graphic designer, art director, marketing director and teacher of commercial art and drawing.

I've used all types of media in my art career from pencils to markers to computer design programs.

It doesn't take long to figure out which supplies and programs are the best.

It also doesn't take long to recognize art talent be it from a professional or a student.

Schiffer Books generously supplied four art related items for review: two art supplies and two books.

Painterly Days are high quality art supplies.  The color pencil set consists of 12 pencils of superb quality.  The reason I can tell this is that the colors apply strong and consistent, blend nicely and are bright and rich.  There's no chalky residue or inconsistent color coverage.
The same applies to the watercolor set of 18 colors.

Pigments lay down smooth and rich, blend and flow effortlessly and provide consistent saturation.  The colors were hand-chosen for organic drawings as seen in the Painterly Days coloring books as are the color pencils.

As an artist I'm constantly on the lookout for good reference sources.  While the internet offers a plethora of choices it's time-consuming and often frustrating to find the correct image.

Recently I began a series of drawings for a children's book and a Christian cartoon series.  Both require extensive uses of costume and fashion references.

Fashions & Accessories 1840-1980, written and illustrated by Geoffrey Warren, is an excellent resource for find the images I need.

Every period piece of clothing, shoes and accessories are represented.  I plan on using this book extensively.

I appreciate the talent of other artists, be they painters, illustrators, designers or photographers.
Alvarado's All-American Girls is more than a compilation of cheesecake color photos of beautiful girls.  It is a tribute to the long history of pin-up girl art whether they be represented in photos, drawings or paintings.

Lush photos lovingly staged and shot of beautiful women are artistically manipulated and augmented to represent period photos, paintings and Pop and Op art.


It's a real eye-opener and a standout tribute to a classic art form.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Cosplay, Tintin, Tolkien and Wallace & Gromit

From across the Big Pond in the UK comes a quartet of new books that are sure to send chills up fan boy and fan girl spines.

Carlton Books http://www.carltonbooks.co.uk/ presents a spectacular collection of books covering Cosplay, Tintin, Tolkien and Wallace & Gromit in grand style.

Each book is a stunning example of how printing books should be done.  Expert binding, stitching, cover illustrations and photos, spectacular full-color interior photographs an clever interior inserts, fold-ins and full-bleed photos make each book a visual treasure for avid collectors.

People have always dressed up for special occasions: holidays, events and parties.  Recently, in the last 10 to 20 years, a new phenomenon has blossomed: Cosplay.

For those of you unfamiliar with Cosplay it involves fans of various pop culture genres to dress up as their favorite characters.

Comic books, movies, TV, Anime, Manga, Gaming-you name it there are bound to be fans who parade around in home-made (and often very sophisticated) costumes related to their particular interest.

Cosplay: The Fantasy World Of Role Play by Lauren Orsini examines the Cosplay phenomenon with a series of stunning full-color photos of fans decked out in all of their costumed glory as superheroes to Manga cuties.  Each photo is accompanied by a short text explanation and mention of the dressed up participating fan.

This is a book that you can sit around and literally spend hours pouring over the images.
Indiana Jones, James Bond and countless other movie, TV, literary, animated and comic strip characters owe a great debt to Herge's Tintin strip.  Tintin and his dog, and fellow adenturers, take part in some of the most spectacular adventures ever devised by man. Herge And The Treasures Of Tintin, written and compiled by Dominique Marico, offers a loving tribute to the boy adventurer.

Inside the oversize hardbound book' featuring a pillowed cover' readers immediately spot a newspaper reproduction insert commemorating one of Tintin's first adventures.

Pages are filled with illustrations by Herge including sketches, character studies, color selections, story synopsis and words and comments by the artist and writer himself.

Special 'inserts' offer tipped-in special treats such as sketches, panel layouts, promotional items and much more. 

As a graphic designer and artist I am amazed a the sheer amount of work presented and the impressive imagination needed to create such work.    

Tolkien's Hobbit and Rings Trilogy are without a doubt some of the most revered and admired literary works of the 20th century.

Unless you've been living under a rock (or Hobbit Hole) in recent years Tolkien's work has been visible and available everywhere from books to movies to merchandise.

In The Secrets Of Tokien's World creative collaborators Gareth Hanrahan and Peter McKinstry present readers with "A Guide To The Peoples And Places Of Middle-Earth."     
 
The visual tour starts off with a bang as it takes readers on a fast-paced and thrilling tour of Middle-Earth using full-color illustrations and paintings.  People, places, events, hidden secrets and lore are explored using short and precise text inserts complemented by stunning art.
 
I discovered the Claymation antics of Wallace & Gromit over 20 years ago and have faithfully followed their often bizarre and hilarious adventures via cartoons, movies, comics books and other forms of Wallace & Gromit paraphernalia such as toys, etc.

I proudly boast of my UK W&G hardbound comic strip collections and my McFarlane Toys figures.

Wallace & Gromit Grand Adventures & Glorious Inventions is Wallace's 'Scrapbook Of An Inventor."

Pop open the clever, hinged, protective cover and behold--the world of Wallace & Gromit comes alive!

Blueprints of inventions, character designs and spotlights, photos of their home, laboratory, surroundings and friends, acquaintances and enemies are included.

Specials sections on their various animated adventures are also included and there's even clever little 'extras' Wallace and Gromit fans will love.

The entire book is a visual treat filled with eye-candy, fascinating insights into the popular series and so much cool 'stuff' you'll soon find yourself shaking your hands and exclaiming, "I just love cheese Gromit!"

Carlton Books http://www.carltonbooks.co.uk/.