Friday, April 27, 2018

Asteroid Escape, Squirrels Go Nuts! and IQ Stars

A see a light at the end of the tunnel-no, really, I do!

“What tunnel?", you may ask.

Why the game tunnel.

With the predominance of video games over the past quarter of century it is encouraging when I spot more and more gamers abandoning their gaming consoles and playing real games: board games, strategy games and IQ challenging games.

That’s why I’m so excited that Smart Games keeps turning out games for the entire family-games that challenge players-games that bring the fun back into gaming.

Space, spaceships and asteroid field—admit it –who doesn’t like the adventure of challenging space?  What a perfect vehicle for a game.  I mean-if video games can do space, why can’t a single-player game put gamers into middle of the action.

Asteroid Escape pits a gamer’s wits, strategy and creativity to the max.

It sounds simple enough: a player has to navigate their spaceship through and asteroid field.  Simple?  Not so fast!

Did I mention that there are 60 challenges (contained in a small booklet) where a gamer must navigate their ship through shifting asteroids in order to escape?

Here’s the kicker, no asteroids can block your spaceship or obstruct its wings in order to escape.

Talk about a challenge!

Check out the cool 3D game board (with clear, plastic, protective cover), asteroids and an awesome spaceship with its red cockpit and thrusters. 

You have to think fast, avoid getting hit by asteroids and escape!

It’s time to go nuts.  No, really-you have to little go nuts, or should I say, go after nuts.

In Squirrels Go Nuts! A single player (six years old and up) must take on 60 challenges ranging from easy to expert.

Winter is coming on and it’s vitally important that squirrels hide away their nut supply underground.

You challenge is to maneuver your squirrels around the game board (avoiding flowers) and drop all of the nuts into holes. 

Trust me-it’s harder than it looks.

Those cute little squirrels don’t always cooperate and it may look like you’ve made the right moves to drop the nuts into holes-but don’t count your nuts yet!

Try not to get too ‘squirrely’ as you go nuts!

Are you ready to challenge your brain?  Do you have what it take to arrange groups of stars on a grid in 120 configurations?

If you have what it takes to win then IQ Stars is the single player game for you.

It looks easy, but placing seven stellar puzzle pieces on the board in the proper sequence is a real brain-buster. 

There are only so many holes to place the stars in and they only fit together as clusters in select configurations.

IQ Stars challenges gamers’ concentration, problem solving skills and logic.

Lair of Darkness

Lair of Darkness is a Structure Deck in the Konami Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game series.

Each Structure Deck: Lair of Darkness contains:

    1 Preconstructed Deck of 41 Cards
        2 Ultra Rares
        3 Super Rares
        36 Commons
    1 Common Token
    1 Beginner's Guide
    1 Double-sided Playmat/Dueling Guide

The "Power Up with Packs" supplement on the back of the included Play Mat suggests combining this Deck with the following Cards from these Sets.
        Evenly Matched, Metaverse, and Akashic Magician from Circuit Break.
        Call of the Archfiend, Hey, Trunade!, and Downbeat" from Extreme Force.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Justice League, Ectomobile, Totally Awesome, Pacific Rim Uprising and DC Comics Variant Covers

 The Justice League movie has come and gone and is now out on Blu-ray and DVD.  Although the film had mixed reviews, personally I liked it.

My only complaint is that the film didn’t delve into each character's back story, especially the three characters not seen on movie screens before: The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg.

Non-comic book fans are familiar with big three: Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, but were left confused by the three new characters.

Insight Editions offers the perfect way to catch up on the various Justice League character back stories and personal lives-both in and out of costume.

Justice League The Official Guide not only examines each superhero in the team but delves into their alter egos, origins, past history, where they came from and how they got their individual powers.

The book is brimming with full color photos of the Justice League cast along with people, places and things associated with them.

It’s a great primer on the team that longtime fans and those new to the team will enjoy.

Whether it’s the original Ghostbusters films, the remake, the animated TV series or the toy line one item stands out from all the rest: the Ghostbusters’s mode of transportation: the Ectomobile.

The converted hearse decked out in the latest of ghost busting paraphernalia and equipment was a hit with movie goers the moment it showed up on the Silver Screen.

Haynes and Insight Editions recognize the importance of and fandom associated with the Ectomobile-whatever version, and has dedicated an entire Ghostbusters Ectomobile Owner’s Workshop Manual to the iconic vehicle.

Full color photos complement the extensive schematics of the engine, ghost busting equipment, special capabilities, other classic Ghostbusters gadgets such as the proton packs and everything and anything mechanical or technical associated with the Ghostbusters are included in the book.

Text, both technical and pertaining to the various Ghostbusters teams themselves is included.  The book is the ultimate Ghostbusters guide to all things paranormal paraphernalia.

I especially enjoy looking at the various component breakdowns, their functions and how they were used. 

“Who ya gonna call?  Ghostbusters!”

Although I was born in the 1950s and grew up watching 1960’s Saturday morning cartoon shows I have to admit that when it comes to animated series, both original or as merchandise tie-ins, the 1980s has the 1960s cartoons beat by a mile.

Besides providing fascinating historical text and behind-the-scenes glimpses of the creation of each show the book is a visual treat for animated cartoon fans.

Totally Awesome The Greatest Cartoons Of The Eighties, written by Andrew Farago, packs it in with full color art, tipped in special inserts- such as pre-production sketches and character designs and much more.

Just look at what’s inside: The Smurfs, Spider-Man, He-Man, Inspector Gadget, G.I. Joe, JEM, Thundercats, Muppet Babies, Ghostbusters, Disney, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Garfield and Mighty Mouse.

What’s not to love!?  What a great way to travel back in time to the height of cartoon popularity and meander down Memory Lane accompanied by your favorite cartoon characters!

As children we could have never imagined the amount of blood, sweat and tears that went into making animated cartoons.  After reading this book readers will gain a whole new level of appreciation for the geniuses behind the cartoons. 

The Art And Making Of Pacific Rim Uprising by Daniel Wallace really gets into the meat and bones of the making the phenomenal giant robots against giant monsters movie.

Like its predecessor: Pacific Rim, this new movie showcases some spectacular slugfests, incredible visual and special effects, amazing computer animation and an intriguing storyline.

Production on a movie of its scale takes years of planning and the creative input of literally hundreds of people in front of and in back of the cameras.

Starting with a concept the book showcases pre-production conceptual art, costume and set designs, weaponry, robots, monsters, scene setups, sketches, color studies, lighting effects, environment designs along with every aspect associated making of such a monumental film.

Full production notes, cast and crew comments, production decisions and more are discussed in detail making this book a wonderful study about the art of film-making.

I was blown away by the incredible color conceptual paintings, digital designs and impressive attention to every detail showcased in the book.

Thrown in some very special inserts and a stunning book design and you have a real winner.

One of the big draws to modem day comic book collectors is special editions or alternate cover comic book titles.

While the interior of a particular comic book issue may be consistent the comic book companies soon realized that fans wanted more so they started providing limited edition variant covers to many of their titles.  The more rare-the better.  Fans loved it!

No one does it better than DC Comic Books as shown in DC Comics Variant Covers The Complete Visual History.

WOW!  I am totally blown away!

Starting back in the mid-1980s with the re-imaging of Superman, DC Comics began experimenting with variant covers.

For that point on there was no stopping DC as it began offering alternate covers to almost every title in its library.  Not every month mind you, but as the years progressed so did the number of variant covers increase until today almost every title released each month has a variant or variants covers.

What a gallery!  This oversize book really gives justice to the incredible art turned out by DC’s stable of artists.

It is an absolutely stunning book that I am proud to include in my collection.  The designs, colors, concepts, layouts, shock value and talent of each cover really stirs the blood and sets the old heart racing!

It’s like candy for the eyes and I intend to sweeten my pupils and retinas to the max!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Fighting Clowns, Golden Age Of Radio and Rod Taylor

There’s radio comedy and then there’s The Firesign Theatre’s radio comedy.

Most of us have heard about classic radio comics such as Jack Benny, Bob Hope and the like but nothing could prepare us for The Firesign Theatre!

Take four guys, wicked sensibilities and humor, a no-hold-barred, in-your-face sarcastic and poignant jabs at current trends, politics, societal norms and conventions and you get The Firesign Theatre.

In David Ossman’s memoir: Fighting Clowns Of Hollywood he lets readers in on the latest and greatest comedy sketches and homage with such sketches as Owl & Octopus Show, Nick Danger and many more tongue-planted-firmly-in-their cheeks parodies and tributes in a hilarious romp sure to please The Firesign Theatre legion of fans.

Written by John Rayburn and published by BearManor Media, Thrilling Days Of Yesteryear: The Golden Age Of Radio takes readers back to the roots of early broadcast humor, intrigue, Westerns and other radio genre.

Comprised of personal recollections from both the author and old time radio personalitie,s the book brings the heyday of broadcast radio dramas, comedies and the like to life.

Long before TV and movies captivated audiences with their visual magic classic radio shows left it up to listeners to use their imaginations to fill in the gaps.

It is a delightful book that recaptures the long gone era of family entertainment that dominated living rooms for over a quarter of a century.

My all-time favorite, classic science fiction movie is George Pal’s The Time Machine.  Well over 50 years ago I remember sitting in a movie theater and being totally captivated by the film’s premise.  The film’ star: Rod Taylor totally owned his role as the world-weary time traveler.

Rod Taylor An Aussie In Hollywood, by Stephen Vagg, delves into Taylor's illustrious acting career.  Manyrefer to him as the premiere Australian actor in Hollywood.

For decades Taylor starred in an impressive line of movies such as The Birds, The VIPS and more.  He was one of only a few actors who successfully starred in both movies and on TV.

His range as an actor ranged from action and adventure to love stories.

The book is an absorbing tale of a young Sydney boy who dared to take on Hollywood and beat it at its own game.

Considered one of the most professional and respected actors in Tinsel Town, Rod Taylor also had his own share of demons, alcohol and ego among them.

Yet through it all he managed to survive and consistently turn out outstanding performances in high profile films. 

It is a wonderful look at the actor’s life, complete with the blemishes, and what effect his career had on the newest string of Australian actors.

Will Bear Share? and Will Sheep Sleep?

Having raised two children of our own and now baby-sitting a one year old grandson my wife and I pride ourselves on knowing what it takes to raise children.

By far one of the most important things to teach children involve books.

When dealing with small tykes it is important to select books that contain large and colorful illustrations and minimal text.

Kids 0 to 3 years old are developing their cognitive skills during this time period and it is imperative that books challenge both the visual and auditory skills of children.

Author/artist Hilary Leung and Scholastic Books recognize how critical it is to teach children beginning at an early age.

Leung recently released two books that fill the criteria mentioned above.

Both books are small, hardbound volumes with thick pages making it easy for young children to hold and turn pages.

Both books are durable, easily cleaned and perfect for small kids.

Will Bear Share? and Will Sheep Sleep? contain delightful and colorful illustrations accompanied by short, direct text that make it possible for children to follow along.

Ask any parent and they’ll tell you children tend to have short attention spans.  Both books address this issue by offering concise, to-the-point, simplified text and primary and secondary colorful illustrations that immediately draw young children’s attention.

Sleep and sharing are subjects young kids easily identify with and the books make both concepts easy to understand.