Monday, January 30, 2017

What Do You Do When Your Dreams Fail To Come True—For Now?

I’ve always been a dreamer.  For my entire life I’ve always had huge aspirations and plans.
When I was young I dreamed of being a super spy, a superhero, a starship captain and an intrepid explorer.

I dreamed of traveling to the stars, visiting wild and exotic places, accomplishing great heroic deeds and taking my place in the history books.

Alas, none of these things came true.  

The nearest I came to any of these things was to read about such exploits in books, comic books, watching them on TV or going to the movies.

As I grew older I realized that accomplishing one’s dreams takes a lot of hard work.

I’ve never considered myself a particularly smart person, I barely squeaked by in high school and I somehow managed to graduate college with a 3.5 GPA.  Go figure.

Once out of school a series of bad decisions, personal and family problems and lack of funds curtailed most of my dreams.  Still, I was not discouraged.

Miraculously I met and married the girl of my dreams, fathered two great kids, maintained a decent vocation in graphic design where I made a decent living, but nothing spectacular, and somehow managed to survive relatively sane.

Still, in the back of my mind, tucked away in a secret corner were my dreams.  I still clung onto them.  I suppose that stands true for everyone-some small part of every person’s mind still latches onto a childhood dreams.

In a small part fragments of my dreams have been accomplished.  While I never became and explorer or hero I did manage to find comfort and some sense of accomplishment in my hobbies, vocation and family.

My dreams allowed me to imagine great tales of adventure and intrigue and put them down on paper and in art and to my kids I was a superhero rescuing them from imaginary monsters and threats.

Now that I’ve retired my dreams have drastically changed.

Traipsing around the globe looking for adventure, fighting off dastardly bad guys and putting my life on the line seem much too dangerous and require me to step out of my comfort zone.

Still dreams are dreams.

Today my dreams include seeing my family safe, saved and added to with grandchildren.

Typing away on my keyboard is an adventure to me as various publishers and manufacturers send me material to review.

Sadly review samples are dwindling and I find myself wishing for more.  I deeply desire to find old toys and comic books, sell of the overflow of articles in my personal collection and (hopefully) see my various writing and drawing projects grab someone’s attention and blossom to written, published or film fruition.

For years I looked forward to retirement only to discover that many of the things I enjoyed or wished for in my youth seem distant, fruitless and worth little of my time.

Age does change you and I’ve changed.

One thing however has not changed: the ability to dream and dream big.

I’m not ready for the grave yet-there’s still so much to see and do and with God’s grace, guidance and generosity I hope to accomplish many more things.   

And who knows?  Maybe some of my dreams will still come true or be replaced by even better dreams.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Previews, February

Eleanor & The Egret #1 l AFTERSHOCK COMICS
Godshaper #1 l BOOM! STUDIOS
Amory Wars III: Good Apollo #1 l BOOM! STUDIOS
Jungle Fantasy Annual 2017 l BOUNDLESS COMICS
Spongebob Comics Volume 1: Silly Sea Stories TP l UNITED PLANKTON PICTURES
Spongebob Comics Volume 2: Aquatic Adventurers Unite TP l UNITED PLANKTON PICTURES
The Greatest Adventure #1 l D. E./DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT
Kim Reaper #1 l ONI PRESS INC.
Penny Dreadful #1 l TITAN COMICS
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn Of War III #1 l TITAN COMICS
Disney Manga Magical Dance Volume 1 GN l TOKYOPOP
Street Fighter Vs. Darkstalkers #1 l UDON ENTERTAINMENT INC
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations Volume 1 GN l VIZ MEDIA LLC

Art of Nestor Redondo SC l ART BOOKS
Guardians of the Galaxy: Complete Comics History HC l COMICS
Wonder Woman Talking Figure & Illustrated Book Kit l COMICS
The Wild Adventures of King Kong vs Tarzan SC l PULP HEROES
Star Wars: The Original Topps Widevision Trading Cards HC l STAR WARS
Star Wars: A New Hope Big Golden Book l STAR WARS YOUNG READERS
Doctor Who Magazine #511 l DOCTOR WHO
Alien: Covenant Magazine l MOVIE/TV
The Creeps #10 l HORROR
Gotham Season Two Trading Cards l CRYPTOZOIC ENTERTAINMENT
Topps 2017 Star Wars 40th Anniversary Trading Cards l TOPPS COMPANY

APPARELHydra & SHIELD Symbol Heather Action Snap Back Cap l PREVIEWS EXCLUSIVE WEAR
Doctor Who: “12th Doctor Galaxy Coat Lining” White T-Shirt l PREVIEWS EXCLUSIVE WEAR
Star Wars: Salacious Crumb Black T-Shirt l PREVIEWS EXCLUSIVE WEAR
Star Wars: Scavenge Robes Heather Grey T-Shirt l PREVIEWS EXCLUSIVE WEAR
Howard the Duck: Waddle Solo White T-Shirt l PREVIEWS EXCLUSIVE WEAR
Doctor Strange: Holo Reality Black T-Shirt l PREVIEWS EXCLUSIVE WEAR
Spider-Gwen: Wall Cling White T-Shirt l PREVIEWS EXCLUSIVE WEAR
Iron Fist: Yellow Fighter Black T-Shirt l PREVIEWS EXCLUSIVE WEAR
Batman: All-Star Face T-Shirt l GRAPHITTI DESIGNS
Wonder Woman: Defender by Frank Cho T-Shirt l GRAPHITTI DESIGNS
Marvel Premier Collection: Classic Iron Man Statue l DIAMOND SELECT TOYS & COLLECTIBLES
Fantasy Figure Gallery: DC Comics Collection: Batman 1/6-Scale Resin Statue l DC HEROES
POP! Marvel: Blade Vinyl Figure l FUNKO
Son of Zorn: Zorn Action Figure l FUNKO
One-12: Collective: Marvel Spider-Man Action Figure l MARVEL HEROES
Star Wars Rogue One: Death Trooper ArtFX+ Statue 2-Pack l KOTOBUKIYA
FFVII Remake Play Arts Kai: Barret Wallace Figure l FINAL FANTASY
FFVII Remake Play Arts Kai: Cloud Strife Figure l FINAL FANTASY
Game of Thrones: Daenerys Targaryen 1/6-Scale Figure l THREEA/THREEZERO
Showa TK Trooper: Arid Patrol 1/6-Scale Figure l THREEA/THREEZERO
Showa TK Trooper: Black Sun Commando 1/6-Scale Figure l THREEA/THREEZERO
Dark Souls III: Souls of Cinder 1/6-Scale PVC Figure l VIDEO GAMES
Symphogear GX: Hibiki Tachibana 1/7-Scale PVC Figure l VIDEO GAMES
Ghoulsville Vac-Tastic Plastic Masks l HALLOWEEN

Nintendo Super Mario Collector Pins Series 1 l NINTENDO
Pokemon: Pokeball Bluetooth Speaker l POKÉMON
Star Wars Rogue One Xbox One Wired Controllers l STAR WARS
The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game l EVIL HAT PRODUCTIONS
Pathfinder: Gamemastery Guide Pocket Edition l PAIZO, INC
Pirates of the Caribbean Battle Yahtzee l USAOPOLY

Marvel Dice Masters: X-Men First Class l WIZKIDS/NECA

Thursday, January 19, 2017

So Much To Buy, So Little Money

One of the pitfalls of retirement is that (in most cases) retirees don’t have the same amount of income as they did when they were working.  Most times it really isn’t needed, as expenses aren’t as much.

That’s true in my case.  While I receive Social Security and two small pensions my income is about half of what it was when I was working. 

Fortunately my wife have paid off our  house, car and other typically long-term expenses are nil.

Of course we still pay for utilities, insurance, etc.

Unfortunately it leaves very little money for extra things.  We try to eat out about twice a week, take in the occasional movie and manage to go on vacation once a year.

Were not rich by any stretch of the imagination, but we’re not poverty level either.

I mention this because as a lover of Pop Culture I get frustrated.

There is so much great stuff coming out associated with comic books, movies, etc. that I’d love to have the cash to buy, but, I can’t.

Oh sure I hit the used book stores, buy myself a gift on my birthday, Father’s Day and Christmas, but to impulsively go out and purchase an expensive book, toy or even comic books doesn’t fit our budget.

I’m lucky though, writing and posting Boyce McClain’s Collectors’ Corner does garner the occasional review sample.  For that I am grateful to the companies who so graciously provide them.

Still, I wish more would come in.

I pride myself on my reviews.  I delve deeper into product reviews than most reviewers and post reviews almost every day.

There are so many interesting Pop Culture items and merchandise I wish I could review-but, funds simply do not allow it.

So, be that as it may, I’ll still write reviews when I can, and pray that more companies will supply review samples.  Collectors’ Corner has been in existence for 25 years and here’s hoping it will survive for another 25.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Dot-To-Dot and Art Studio

Whenever I went to the doctor or accompanied my mother to the doctor when I was young there were always coloring books containing dot-to-dot pages and various puzzles and other things to do to keep me busy.

As with most doctor appointments they always took longer than anticipated, especially waiting for the doctor.

I would spend much of the time coloring or completing the dot-to-dot drawings.  I enjoyed both.
Obviously many adults enjoyed coloring books when they were kids if the plethora of ‘adult’ coloring books proliferating bookstore shelves is any indication.

Recently dot-to-dot books having also began appearing.  The kid dot-to-dots had only a few dozen dots to connect.  The adult dot-to-dot books number in the hundreds of dots.

Thunder Bay Press has done dot-to-dots one better with their 1000 Dot-To-Dot Books.  But, what I especially like is that they have comic book dot-to-dot books!

Imagine comic books and dot-to-dot!  Can it get any better?

The Marvel ‘The Amazing 1000 Dot-To-Dot Book’ contains twenty comic book Marvel superheroes that are based on the work of Marvel’s finest artists as interpreted by Thomas Pavitte.

Look for Wolverine, Captain America and many more and don’t miss the 1700 dot poster of Captain America and Ironman. 

The second ‘Marvel 1000 Dot-To-Dot Oversize Softbound Book’ features Spider-Man.  
Dot-To-Dots include Spider-Man, his friends and foes and a 19” X 14” poster of Spidey taking on Doc Ock!

Connect the dots, break out the colors (markers, crayons, colored pencils) and before you know it you have twenty awesome posters!

What kid (or a kid at heart) hasn’t wished at one time or another to be able to draw the animated Walt Disney Studios gallery of characters?

Well, here’s your chance.

The ‘Disney Art Studio’ has everything you need to learn how to draw the characters: pencil. Ink and color them.  Just look at what you get:

128-Page Project Book
3 Watercolor Paints
2 Paintbrushes
Drawing Pencil
7 Colored Pencils
Fine-Line Marker
Kneaded Eraser

All you need is drawing paper and you’re on your way to drawing Disney characters like the pros.

By the time you’re through you’ll be able to draw forty-four Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse, Snow White, Ariel, Aladdin and many more.

The entire ‘Step-By-Step Book And Everything You Need To get Started’ package is sure to be a big hit. 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

I Am Blessed

‘I am blessed.”  I’m sure you’ve heard that term used...and overused. Televangelists, hellfire and brimstone pastors and name and claim it preachers tend to overuse the term without really explaining as it pertains to God.

It’s easy to get cynical when you hear the term.  It tends to irritate some people and even makes other angry.  Some people just don’t like the fact that other people are grateful.  Others refuse to believe God exists.

I can’t help that.  People are going to think what they want.  I can only speak for myself.
I am blessed.  

Here’s why.

I’m blessed because God has forgiven my sins and saved me and I now know that I will be residing in Heaven with him forever.  If God never did anything more for me for all eternity-that’s enough.

But, God has done so much more for me. 

Let me start out by stating that considering the background I come from, the various incidents in my life and the many times I catered to my flesh and selfishness I should have been dead a long time ago and burning in Hell.

But, God in his mercy kept at me, convinced and convicted me of my sins, saved my soul and continues to direct me and love me-unconditionally.

Enough of my spiritual blessings.  What about here on Earth?  My list is long.

I’ve been blessed with a wonderful wife whom I’ve been married to for 38 years.  I’m blessed with two great kids-both adopted-and both doing well and soon my first grandson.

I’m blessed with a roof (paid for) over my head, a good car (also paid for) a sizable bank account, retirement, good health, a strong body, cloths to wear, food to eat, lots of little ‘extras’ that God provides, living in a country where I’m free, allowed to make my own choices, air to breath, legs that walk, hands that grasp, good friends, a family I love (both on my side and my wife’s), a great church---the list goes on and on.

Take a moment, realize what you have and be grateful.  There are so many people in the world that envy your abundance.  We, as a nation, are so blessed-never take your blessings for granted.

Be grateful each day that God has seen fit to allow you to wake up in the morning, live your life and provide for your needs.

I encourage you if you have not asked God to save you-don’t put it off.  God doesn’t expect you to come to him all cleaned up and sinless.  He accepts just as you are-no conditions.

Make him the Lord of your life-he will take you places and pour out blessings that you could never imagine.  I know, I’m living proof.  I’m not asking you to take my word for it, find out for yourself.  I believe you’ll both surprised and delighted.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Cabinet and Star Wars

When I was teaching high school Commercial Art one of the projects the students had to create in PhotoShop was their own version of a ‘Cabinet Of Curiosities’.

For those of you unfamiliar with a Cabinet Of Curiosities it originated in the Edwardian and Victorian Ages.

Back then only the rich could afford to travel around the world or even to some more primitive parts of their own country-such as out West in the U.S.A.

Many of the travelers would collect various items, bric-a-brac and artifacts and bring them back home. There they would assemble display cases to show off their prize possessions.

At some point some bright entrepreneurs began showing the Cabinets Of Curiosities to the general public for a small fee.  They were a huge hit. 

Remember, most people at that time seldom traveled more than a few miles from where they were born and raised.

To them viewing such odd and exotic items would be like you and I traveling to the Moon or outer space-it’s not something the common man can do.

Workman Publishing and author Gordon Grice have brought the concept of the ‘Cabinet Of Curiosities’ to the 21st Century with their book by the same title.

In it readers are encouraged to create their own Cabinets Of Curiosities by ‘collecting and understanding the wonders of the natural world’.

Inside the book explains how to begin collecting items from the oceans, animals, insects, plants, minerals and other objects commonly found in nature.

Instructions are given on how to categorize them, organize, label, display and care for them.
Information packed text delves into each individual category or subject while at the same time explaining how the natural world works.

Students and teachers are sure to be fascinated by the Cabinets while learning at the same time.

From the first six films in the Star Wars Saga comes the Star Wars Fandex Family Field Guide.
Star Wars fans can easily fan through the various images of key characters, space ships, planets and creatures from the films, flip the individual fan pages over and read all about the character or creature represented by a color photo on the flip side.  

Additional information is also printed below the photos.

The Fandex allows Star Wars fans to easily identify key characters, etc. in a flash.  The entire assembly neatly fans together into one unit and is stored in a cardboard display box with a clear cover.  

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Fantastic Beasts X 3, Star Wars Propaganda, Suicide Squad and The Whoniverse

When Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling announced that she would not be writing any more Harry Potter or Harry Potter related books after the last Harry Potter movie and book were seen and written, no one really believed her.

Harry Potter fans knew that she had too much invested in the Potter Universe and (let’s be honest) her bread and butter stemmed from the series.

The ‘no new Harry Potter material’ was soon put to rest when it was announced that a pre-Harry Potter book was being written with a subsequent movie in the works which was recently released.

As expected more Harry Potter material will be showing up soon.

Harry Potter fans were excited (and justifiably so) when the new ‘Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them’ movie premiered.

Their long wait was justified as the film continues to draw in crowds and successfully continued the Harry Potter/Hogsworth legacy.

Harper Design proudly presents three new high-end and high-quality, oversize hardbound books that celebrate the release of the blockbuster film.

Anyone who knows me can tell you that I am fascinated by the inner workings of movie making. 
How a diverse group of people can come together and create movie magic is astounding, especially if a film turns out to be a blockbuster.  ‘Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them’ is one such blockbuster film.

Harper Design and author Ian Nathan delve into the magic and hard work that went into making the movie with their ‘Inside The Magic: The Making Of Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them’.

Simply by looking at its cover, printed on heavy paper stock with its colorful design and spot varnish character highlights and clever border design, readers can expect an incredible piece of literary work.

The film’s star: Eddie Raymayne provides the opening foreword and with an introduction by David Heyman.

Inside are full-color photos and art of the film’s characters, costume designs, set pieces, location shots, the various prop pieces, behind and in front of camera shots, creature designs, location shots all accompanied by informative text about the making of the film, cast and crew comments and production notes.

Follow along as the film is visualized, brought to life and filmed.  It’s an engrossing examination of the making of a film filled with strange creatures, spectacular visual and practical special effects, massive sets, period costumes and settings and clever props and set pieces.

Just as impressive is ‘The Case Of Beasts: Explore The Film Wizardry Of Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them’ hardbound and snap case book written by Mark Salisbury and designed by Mina Lima.

As impressive as the film is this book’s design is just as intriguing and well crafted.
Pop open the secured cover and flip through a few pages and you are immediately struck by its clever design using full-bleed images, full-color photos and tipped in ‘extras’ such as documents and more.

As a graphic designer I have to say I am impressed by the ingenious and outstanding way this book has been put together.

Tipped in pamphlets, recreated newspaper clippings, posters, photo montages, cleverly crafted inserts with recreated documents, black and white and color photos along with graphs, blueprints and other items are complemented by the text in typewriter font that make this book more of a journal both in look and feel.

Relish the details, be enthralled by the inner workings of making the film from special effects and character, set and costume designs and marvel at the ingenuity and outstanding design of this most impressive book.

I could sit literally for hours looking over its pages and appreciate the talent that went behind its design and printing.

Making a movie is one thing, visualizing it before production is another.  As talented as filmmakers are it takes a very special group of talented artists, painters and sculptors to visualize any piece of literary work and translates it to film.

In ‘The Art Of The Film Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them’ author Dermot Power provides a visual gallery of the art that was created for the making of the film.

Traditional and computer generated art were both used for the process.  Locations, set pieces, costumes, character designs, creature visualizations are presented in stunning (some as full page) illustrations (both black and white and in color) and 3D maquettes that bring the film alive and set the mood and feel of the film.

As an artist I can appreciate the tremendous amount of work, dedication and talent it takes to pull off such a monumental task.

Each piece of art comes with a brief description of what it is and how it was created.
The book offers a real insider’s look at the creative process and those who possess the imaginations and talent to create an entire world.

It’s no secret that when George Lucas created his Star Wars Saga that the Nazi made the perfect template for the evil Empire.

Both the Nazi and the Empire were ruled by a megalomaniac who used violence and fear to control the population.

The Nazi were notorious for creating propaganda that idealized the Nazi regime, its policies, its leaders and its purpose.

It only makes sense that the Empire would do likewise.

In ‘Star Wars Propaganda: A History OF Persuasive Art In The Galaxy’ both the Republic and Empire are represented in posters, banners and other literature lauding and promoting their causes.

The large hardbound book emblazoned with the Empire and Alliance logos on black comes packaged in a slipcase featuring Stormtroopers on its cover.

Inside includes 10 Collectible Posters, propaganda posters and literature and a whole section dedicated to the freedom fighters of the Alliance.

Both sides of the conflict are represented from their earliest inceptions to events leading up to and during the recent resurgences of the First Order and the New Republic.

Beautifully illustrated and including augmented photo images, the book delves into both the past and present conflicts accompanied by expository text and a listing of the artists who contributed to the various propaganda pieces.

This is a fun book to look through and I really get the feeling as if I am looking at real propaganda pieces much like those produced for WWII that I saw as a kid.

If you have not seen the Suicide Squad movie I urge you to do so.  It is unlike and superhero movie you’ve seen before both is the way it is filmed, its main antagonists and the pacing, music and overall look.

In ‘Suicide Squad behind The Scenes Of The Worst Heroes Ever’ readers are offered a front row seat to the making of this most unusual and totally unique take on superheroes.

Upon looking at the book the first thing that strikes you is the cover image of the Squad members rendered as skulls along with the villains of the film.

Open up the oversize, hardbound book and the visual roller coaster is underway.

Every aspect of making the film is covered in exhaustive detail.  Pre-production, production, post-production are all examined.

Character selection and design, set design and construction, costumes, physical effects and fight choreography, set pieces, set designs and construction, lighting, visual effect, practical effects—everything about the film is examined.

Also inserted in the book are special surprises such as tipped in photos, documents, tattoos and much, much more.

It’s like touring a visual carnival.  There is so much to look at and absorb it will literally take hours to look through the entire book-it’s that good.

I loved the full-page photos, cast and crew close-ups, set designs, costume visualizations and every aspect of making the film.

Just like the movie the book is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before-it’s frantic, fast-paced and just plain fun!
George Mann and Justin Richards present ‘Doctor Who The Whoniverse The Untold History Of Space And Time’.

Much has been written about Doctor Who and the Timelords but how did they and the universe they live in come about?

Starting from the early universe the book then delves into its earliest inhabitants and their cultures.

Discover the many types of life that were scattered across the universe. See how the Daleks, the Cybermen, the Time Lords and the various alien factions (both good and bad) came about and why the Time War occurred.

Filled with striking full-color illustrations and paintings the book begins at the dawn of time and travels to the far flung future and the ultimate conclusion and fate of the entire inhabited universe.

Doctor Who fans are sure to enjoy each and every page as they delve into the massive Whoniverse and uncover the hidden (and not so hidden) secrets of all of time and space.

The thickly bound, hard cover book is a ‘ must have’ book for Doctor Who and science fiction fans.

‘Who’ needs it? You do! The Doctor prescribes it!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Cheyenne, Lawman and Frankenstein Jr. and the Impossibles

When Clint Walker was chosen by Warner Bros. executives to star in the 1950’s Western TV series Cheyenne he had very little, to almost no, acting experience.

Clint was ‘discovered’ not much earlier.  Before that he had worked at a variety of jobs including a security guard and bouncer.

The first year of the series was a learning experience for Mr. Walker.  Fortunately he was a fast learner.

He decided that he would play the Western as a serious drama well aware that men, women and especially children would be watching the show.

Determined to be a good role model Clint he kept both his professional and private lives on the up and up and tried not to mingle the two.

Clint Walker’s acting chops were decidedly more mature and refined when Cheyenne hit its second season.

In the Cheyenne The Complete Second Season DVD collection the maturity and confidence shone by Clint was evident as he took on more challenging dramatic sequences as well as more demanding physical scenes.

Cheyenne continued to roam the West as a lonely gunman who placed honor and trust before his own safety.

In this season he aids the President, helps an orphan, battles the usual cadre of Western bad guys and still manages to woo the ladies.

It’s the Ol’ West as only Cheyenne can deliver it.

Longtime movie heavy and bad guy John Russell switched to the side of the law in the Lawman TV series that began airing in the 1950s.

In the series he plays Marshall Dan Troop who has the unenviable job of policing one of the roughest, toughest and dangerous territories in the Wild West.

Along with his often naïve and bumbling Deputy Johnny McKay, the two lawmen protect the innocence and deal out Western Justice.

Noted for his steel-eyed and unwavering way of facing down outlaws Lawman Troop never fails to bring in the bad guys and right wrongs.

The entire first season comes courtesy of Warner Bros. with its ‘Lawman The Complete First Season DVD’ collection.

Straight from the 1960s comes Hanna Barbera’s ‘Frankenstein Jr. and The Impossibles DVD Classic Collection’.

I loved both animated series when I was a young boy and I still enjoy them today.
Both complete series are included in the DVD Collection.

Frankenstein Jr. follows the exploits of boy genius Buzz Conroy who built the robotic Frankenstein Jr. and who together fight evil bad guys, diabolical criminal geniuses and otherworldly threats.

The Impossibles stars three members of a Rock and Roll group who, under the directive of Big D, fight crime as their superhero alter egos Multi Man, Coil Man and Fluid Man. 

Whether its fighting and bringing to justice run-of-the-mill, common criminals or super-powered foes The Impossibles use their unique superhuman powers to save the day!

Look for loads of action and lots of fun.

Gundam F91, Galaxy Angel and Turn A Gundam

RightStuf! recently released three new Anime Blu-rays that Anime/Manga fans are sure to enjoy.

Mobile Suit Gundam F91
Any Anime fan worth their salt is familiar with the Gundam series.  The prevailing theme of every Gundam series are giant mechs, battles, conflicts and interesting and memorable characters.

Mobile Suit Gundam F91 delivers on all of these.

In a nutshell the story goes thus.  It’s been several decades since the last conflict between Earth forces and outlying colonies but as with all civilizations history has a tendency to repeat itself.

While none of the original Gundam series characters exist in this new series, the story sounds vaguely familiar.

In order to accommodate its burgeoning population Earth Forces build several outlying space colonies.

But, when the Crossbone Vanguard decides to expand its extraterrestrial empire by seizing several of the colonies things begin to heat up.

Suddenly Seabook Arno finds himself a reluctant savior and must pilot his Gundam F91 in a desperate attempt to stop the Crossbone Vanguard.

Mobile Suit Gundam F91 contains some spectacular space and terrestrial fight scenes along with impressive visual effects and some of the best hand-drawn animation (especially the suit scenes) seen.

Viewers will soon come to like the reluctant new hero and finds themselves drawn into the epic storyline.

Galaxy Angel
Are you ready for a space saga like no other?  How does lots of high-tech, spacecraft, dangerous and dastardly foes, epic planetary vistas and gorgeous space jockeys strike you?  Gorgeous space jockeys!?  What!?  Where do they come in?

Galaxy Angel stars the gorgeous members of the Angel Brigade whose mission is to search out and find valuable and rare ‘Lost Technology’.

The only problem is Lost Technology isn’t easy to find (that’s why it’s lost) and searching for it costs a great deal of money.

What to do?

If you’re the Angel Brigade you take on whatever job you get from running supplies, delivering mementoes, stopping missile attacks and yes, even saving kittens!

Galaxy Angel is rip-roaring romp featuring a bevy of beauties each with their own unique personalities and quirks.

Action, adventures, danger, intrigue and a whole lot of hilarious hi-jinks and physical comedy make up the series.  If you like beautiful babes with big guns then Galaxy Angel is the Anime for you!

Turn A Gundam
As I mentioned earlier most Gundam series follow a set formula.  Turn A Gundam adheres to some of elements of the formula but with an interesting twist.

The entire story is situated in such an environment that its steps outsides the bounds of traditional Gundam series.

Oh sure, there are battles, bad guys and heroes-but that’s where the similarities end.
Turn A Gundam successfully turns the Gundam universe on its collective ear by introducing a totally unique twist in time and technology.

While previous Gundam series features huge space vistas and battles Turn A Gundam takes place mostly on Earth, an Earth with ‘Steampunk’ like technology facing off against a far superior and technologically advanced adversary.

Turn A Gundam is much more concerned about the characters and there are plenty of interesting individuals to focus on with a plethora of supporting cast members all drawn from diverse societies.

What starts out as a peaceful conciliatory exchange between the Earth and Moon colonies soon escalates into all-out war with a young hero, Moonrace, stuck in the middle.

Turn A Gundam delivers on several levels with its sweeping story, awesome visual effects, clever designs and well-formed characters.

Since the series is so unique to the Gundam mythos viewers are sure to encounter a few surprises and unexpected twists and turns.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Cheyenne The Complete First Season

Having been raised pretty much as a single child (my brothers were older than me and had moved out by the time I was five years old) by my mother, I hungered for a strong male role model in my life.

TV and movie stars played a big part in my education as to what it meant to be a man, particularly TV Westerns.

One of my favorite TV Westerns starred a giant of a man, Clint Walker, as the Wild West loner with the heart of gold and the moral fortitude to fight for truth and justice: Cheyenne.

I was fortunate enough to have a brief e-mail conversation with Mr. Walker’s wife a few years ago.  She conveyed to me that he was pleased with my email and was at the time unable to answer my reply personally.

He had recently had some health issues and was going through physical therapy.  Mr. Walker turns 90 years old this year.

Warner Bros. proudly presents ‘The Complete First Season’ of the TV Western series ‘Cheyenne’ on DVD.

For those of you unfamiliar with Clint Walker, he never set out to be a TV star.  However his towering presence so impressed TV and studios executive it was impossible not to cast him as Cheyenne.

Each week Cheyenne would right a wrong despite what it cost him personally.  He was a man’s man: men admired him and women loved him and kids looked up to him.

Cheyenne lasted for an impressive eight seasons the first of which had Cheyenne Bodie battle everything from rustlers to outlaws to Indians.  Fists fly and guns blazed as Cheyenne mete out his own brand of two-fisted justice and always managed to get the bad guy.

TV Westerns influenced a whole generation and one of the few series that influenced more people was Cheyenne.

A DVD extra includes an interview with Clint Walker: The Lonely Gunfighter: The Legacy of Cheyenne.

Captain America #109

The story goes back that in 1969 when artist/writer Jim Steranko was penciling and writing his now famous run on Marvel Comics’ Captain America that he was behind on schedule.

Jim Steranko was and is the consummate artist and refuses to rush his work or compromise its quality.

So, it was not unusual for him to be behind on Captain America.

When Stan Lee hired Jim Steranko he knew the risks of Jim’s tendency to drag his feet.  Still, deadlines are deadlines and something had to be done so that Captain America #109 would be printed and delivered on time.

Stan called on the one person he knew could make the deadline-Marvel’s mainstay artist: Jack Kirby.

Together Stan and Jack, with able assist by inker Syd Shores, turned out what is now considered the definitive origin of Captain America.

Over the decades since Cap’s introduction his origin had been tweaked and modified at the whim of various artists and writers.

Stan and Jack successfully combined all the elements of his origin into a cohesive whole that includes Cap’s induction into a secret government program, the introduction of key figures in his legend and much more.

Years later artist John Byrne and writer Roger Stern would build upon the story Stan and Jack created to bring Cap’s origin even more up to date.

But to me Stan and Jack’s version is the template for all that followed in Cap’s illustrious star-spangled crime-fighting career.

I my opinion Captain America #109 is a ‘key issue’ that every person who names himself or herself a comic book collector needs to add to their collection.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Exploration, Monty Python and WWII

I’ve always been an explorer.  As soon as I was old enough to walk or ride my bike around my hometown it wasn’t long before I knew of every back road, abandoned building and wooded area around.

My friends and I would explore, sometimes all down, the surrounding areas and when we got older often hitch-hiked to neighboring towns.

As soon as I got a car weekends were spent driving about and exploring.

Although finances kept me from going to other countries I did manage to go across country to California on my own.

Now that I’m older I still have the exploring bug, although it is pretty relegated to riding my bike around.

Carlton Books\Andre Deutsch and author Beau Riffenburgh, along with the Royal Geographical Society, take exploring to a whole new level with their ‘The Exploration Treasury’.

The oversize, softbound book, with 40 frameable prints, all come packaged in a beautiful, full-color, heavy bound, flip-lid box with a silk ribbon marker for easy removable of the book and prints.

The book interior faithfully reproduces the text, illustration and photos taken form the Royal Geographical Society’s exploration archives.

Famous explorers, explorations, archaeological sites and more are faithfully archived along with historical and informational text.

You get a real sense of the courage and tenacity of the early explorers back in the days when traveling took months of preparation and were often fraught with danger.

I first encounter Monty Python’s Flying Circus while flipping through TV channels and settling on the local PBS station.

What I saw totally blew my mind.

Here was a group of prime and proper Englishmen taking part in some of the most outrageous comedy skits I’d ever seen.

Nothing was spared, trains were skewed, long-held institutions and customs poked and prodded and innuendos flew with reckless abandon.

Skits assaulted viewers in rapid-fire succession accompanied by hilarious and totally unique animated sequences.
Songs, musical numbers, somber and sometimes silly skits coincided.  It was a veritable free-for-all all that was totally unlike anything I had ever seen on TV before.
Carlton Books presents ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus Hidden treasure’ complete with a foreword by the Pythons.
Inside the hardbound, slipcased book is a complete history of the Python’s, spotlights on the various members, skit scripts, song lyrics, archival photos, tour guides, animation art and special archival document and photo inserts and clever and slightly absurd extras.

Now, how does that silly walk go?

As a former high school teacher I had a difficult time explain gin how pivotal and important World War II to our modern society to Millennials.

In this age of instant information at one’s fingertips, ease of access to information, material goods, freedom of travel, choice of career and unlimited possibilities it’s hard to imagine when all of that could have been taken away.

I’m old enough to remember WWII veteran’s regaling me with their war stories.  Much of the memorabilia left over from the war was sill readily available during my young years.

The horrors of the war were recalled during history lessons at school and the repercussions of the war were very much real-especially the lingering Cold War.

IWM and Carlton Books and author Richard Ovary recall the war that should have ended all wars in ‘WWII Remembered From Blitzkrieg TO The Allied Victory”.

The handsome hardbound book comes packed in a flip-open, display book with ribbon and tipped-in sleeve for the audio DVD containing 78 first-hand WWII veterans account of their experiences.

The book itself contains archival photos, graphs, maps, documents and accounts of every campaign and pivotal moments of the war.

Intermingled wit informative and fascinating text the book is a ‘must-read’ compilation of facts and memories of the war.

It successfully brings the ear years to life and documents the many sacrifices and horrific events of the greatest war ever fought.

A special ‘Top Secret Documents Enclosed’ folder contains reproductions of some of the vital and secrets documents of the war.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Russian, Sea Combat and Uniforms

A great deal of information is available about the role of the German, United States and European countries that fought during The Great War:  WWI.

Very little is mentioned about the importance of Russian troops and air support that fought during the war.

What information that is available tends to concentrate on the ground troops, their heavy equipment and weapons.

Very little is mentioned about Russia’s air power during the conflict.

Stratus and Casemate Publishers along with writers Marat Khairulin and Boris Stepanov, explore the ‘Russian Aviation Colours during 1902 to 1922, in Vol. 2 Great War’.

Inside archival photos, aircraft illustrated reproductions, insignia, logos and color plates and maps are accompanied by detailed examinations of key battles and conflicts that make history come alive from this little known segment of WWI.

Military might of the oceans has always played a pivotal role in any armed conflict throughout history.

Amber Books and Robert Jackson examine ‘Sea Combat From WWI To The Present Day’.  This fascinating new book includes detailed text about sea bound conflicts, ground invasion support and aircraft deployment.

Historical and modern day photographs of key conflicts, ships, water defenses and weaponry accompanied by maps, charts and schematics bring the full scope of military sea power to life.
When searching for books on military uniforms I always seemed to find myself with one of two choices. 

Either the book(s) focused on one small fragment of military garb from a specific country or military inflict or if the book(s) did include a historical selection of military uniforms images usually consisted of fuzzy photographs, period illustrations or paintings or a combination of both.

In the ‘Military Uniforms Visual Encyclopedia’ over 650 full-color illustrations faithfully reproduce military uniforms throughout the ages from countries all around the world.

Accompanied by a timeline the illustrations spare no detail to when it comes representing military uniforms along with weapons, insignia and transports supported by extensive text descriptions and historical context.

It’s the best book of its kind that I’ve ever seen. 

If you’re looking for a great book on military uniforms this one will ‘suit’ you just fine.