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Sunday, March 31, 2013

League Assignment; When I was a kid

When I was a kid, my favorite show, movie, toy-line...you name it was Ghostbusters.  I can't even describe in any articulate sense how much I loved that franchise.  I remember the first time seeing it on VHS rental from the Electric City Video store down the street.   I even remember the previews on the tape for the other Columbia Pictures releases...Starman, Karate Kid and Passage to India.


 photo ghostbusters-2.jpg

I remember seeing it in two parts on a Saturday afternoon and being so mad when we had to turn it off so I could go to my grandpa's (actually I remember it being the first real movie I remember besides Solar Babies and Flight of the Navigator) I remember being mesmerized with the ghost parts, the librarian, the eggs on the counter, the crumbling rooftop of the Shandor building, Stay-Puft (or was it Stay-Puff?) and all the wonderful touches in the movie like the lights on the proton packs, all the weird sci-fi stuff on top of Ecto-1, the button for the fire-alarm and being absolutely obsessed starting with the first shot of the lions in front of the New York Public Library, my dad and I even made up a spin off story about the guy at the elevator, you know, "what are you, some kind of cosmonaut?"... I could go on and on, I have the whole movie memorized. 

Then there was the amazing cartoon series that was actually scary...even thinking back to some of those episodes like Mrs. Robinson's Neighborhood, Don't open until Doomsday, and Ghosts R Us still gives me fond chills.  It had insanely creepy villains like Sandman, Samhain, the Boogieman and Killerwatt that stand only next to Inhumanoids in how balls out scary they were for a children's audience.  I even did a top 10 list of my favorite GB ghosts and toys here! I always went to my cousins on Saturday and would draw the ghosts at her house after seeing that morning's episode.  Voice acting was superb with the likes of Lorenzo Music and Arsenio Hall and although the actor's depictions were that of their own, they really took hold of the characters they were portraying in a very believable manner.  The opening animated title sequence was incredibly memorable and very high quality and set the tone perfectly to the Ray Parker Jr. hit single and the show carries on the well done animation throughout the series. (except the more cartoony kid geared Slimer shorts)

Mad props to Zoltan and his seriosuly awesome GB collection!
Best board game ever!

No good 80's franchise was worth its salt until you weigh it next to the merchandising!  These toys were top notch and quintessential 80's fare.  Kenner was at the absolute top of their game and it showed through their first few waves of this line.  You had spot on depictions of all the major male characters (poor Janine and Slimer never really got show accurate representations...hell even Louis got an eventual proper rendering)  The proton packs with the awesome yet incredibly fragile spinning multicolored proton beams were so cool and I used all of my figures as templates for my drawings I plastered all over my parents' fridge always trying to nail that perfect ghostbusters emblems that were emblazoned on their arms.  These were the drawings that would be what got me into my lifelong love of artwork.  The ghost toys were very innovative in some of the scare gimmicks along with the Ecto-Plasm and the cool pack in ghosts in the little vials and the vehicles especially Ecto-1 and 2 and the firehouse playset are legendarily epic toys that collector cross franchises to appreciate!  The 1:1 scale stuff really invented a new generation of mini cosplayers with the amazing proton-pack, goggles, ghost-trap, neutrino blaster, zapper and popper to name a few.  My aunt made me a custom jumpsuit and I was a Jr. Buster more than once for Halloween...or any other random day around the house.  Beyond the toys were Happy Meal tie-in's, drinking glasses, erasers, pencils, coloring books, sticker books and cereal (obviously) and I was crazy about all of it!


Ghostbusters NES rom glitch #2.

Even the flops in the "Ghostbuster" franchise were little diamonds in the rough  The very first Ghostbuster toys were actually Filmation Ghostbusters...hey, parents were only doing their best as I'm sure many were when they bought those cash-grabs on the toys shelves in 1985.  To their credit, the Buggy and HQ are some of the coolest playsets and vehicles around. 

"I don't remember HIM for the cartoon...?"
Killer vehicle, though.
I also remember the infamously bad Ghostbusters Nintendo game...it was the first video game I ever received before I even got the system to play it on!  I was so excited and so ultimately disappointed when we plugged that piece of garbage in and my father and I struggled to play it all Christmas morning...eh, we exchanged it for the Legend of Zelda and all was rectified nicely. Ghostbusters 2 the game rolled around and that wasn't much better...meanwhile there was an awesome Genesis version of Ghostbusters and a pretty cool top down zap em up style arcade port as well.

Speaking of Ghostbusters 2...I remember seeing that with my cousin Paul and being so blown away...I think it's such an inferior movie in retrospect but it was geared totally toward 7 year old me when it was released...that's the real problem...there was so much more going on in the writing and concept beyond the great effects in the first one and it's like they knew they couldn't top it and just aimed it at the kiddie audience with goofier jokes, ridiculous ghosts and the even-then played out underdog genre....even the classic and super-memorable moody Elmer Bernstein music is replaced with like the Bobbie Brown Ghostbusters Rap and like this overly happy crap by Randy Edelman.   It kinda really is a movie that is truly heralding the end of the 80's and the beginning of the "yo yo yo" 90's.  I do have to say it absolutely blew my mind when the Busters were driving the Statue of Liberty with the NES Advantage, props to Nintendo.

Yeah...there's a lotta "this" in GB2.
Just recently I thought to myself...so, wouldn't like the whole world be completely different if the events that transpired in the first movie were real?  Like these guys single-handedly confirmed life after death, the metaphysical world of the supernatural and proved a nuclear proton ionization beam could be harnessed and utilized...you think the world would have like a "First contact" moment or at least the busters would make a shit-zillion dollars selling their patent to the U.S. military or something!? Instead everyone is like..."bah...go to hell, ghostbusters! We hate you!" and then, for no real reason all like them again after their trial when they managed to black out the entire city...sure hope nobody was murdered or robbed during that black out...nah, that never happens in 80's New York.   Eh...as you can see, even in my adulthood, nary a week goes by where Ghostbusters aren't on the brain.

Rich at Fortune and Glory Days takes us on a walk around the block in his childhood memories!

Brain of Cool and Collected looks on my favorite soldiers.

Tupa's looks on a silly ol' bear.

Pop Rewind likes his cartoon characters all in one half hour special.

Achievements in Gaming remembers some two-wheeled adventures.

Check the whole current listing over at C&C!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

League Assignment: Guilty Pleasures

Following the League's previous footsteps of Nerd Confessions, we add another shameful notch to our pelts of humiliation...

  After looking at the list, I realized these were mostly things I share with my wife since we got together...For your consideration, in no particular order.

Evey Sunday at 9 on Philly 6ABC's Million Dollar Movie...

Hallmark Channel Movies

Golden Girls

N.W.A. (seriously, I'm 30 and its 2013)

High Times Magazine...if its there, I'll read it.

Dance Moms...very slowly, I'm learning their names.  Dear God, why?

The Haunted for Pets on Animal Planet...great first season.

Weird Al Yankovic, I freaking love him!  First cassette tape I ever owned.

Watching the crazy shit Dr. Jack and Rexella van Impe had to say on their show.

Yanni...the man has talent, straight up.

The PuppyBowl, this Grinch's heart grows three sizes on Superbowl Sunday...too bad it's rigged or I'd totally throw some money on that action.

Too Cute! Like the Puppy Bowl only syndicated.

Martha Stewart on Create TV, Her voice is smoother than Ambien, baby.

All my Children...why did they ever cancel that show???

Hellions is watching some nighttime Soaps!
Cal is playing with dolls!
Achievements in Gaming is tapping some Mana!

What are you up to?
Check out C&C to see what the rest of the League has to report.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Lego Star Wars: A-Wing Fighter 75003 Review!

Here's a quickie review of the 2013 Winter Lego Star Wars Collection: A Wing Fighter...
Very nice to see lego paying so much attention to episode VI in these past waves with the Jabba's Palace, Ewok Attack, Endor/Scout Battle Pack, Desert Skiff and Rancor Pit...Wowwie Zowie! Not only do we have some quality sets at relatively decent prices (I just picked up Jabba's Palace off Amazon for 85 bucks priced down from 120, noice!) but we also are seeing some beautifully detailed minifigs!  The A-wing is no exception.
In this set you get a brand new Han Solo Endor General minifigure and A-Wing minifigure...I've noticed in the past few sets that Lego is doing some beautiful work on detailing the legs!  Check out Han's holster and Belt as well as the A-Wing pilot's Harness.  The A-Wing pilot's Helmet is a nice, wonderfully detailed model as well.  Admiral Ackbar is a re-release that you could have previously scored in the Mon-Calamari playset but it's a great opportunity to score one of my favorite rebel leaders.  Accessories are Ackbar/cup - Han/Blaster - A-wing/Wrench...btw, this new pilot mold puts the last version to shame which looked list a cross between an old school Lego Space and Lego City figure from the 80's complete with race car visor.  Oi.

The ship is a nice construction and very simple to build.  It looks very nice and true to the film with great decals that really seal the deal.  The cockpit is tight, it has flick fire missiles, and cool thrusters...the only "action features" it possesses are the missiles, a pop down front landing gear and a flip up cockpit.  It is adorned with the classic rebel red and white and has some nice extra decals on the wings and front sections to make it look beat up and worn.  An extra set of stickers would be good to for customization if you intended to buy a couple of these and at 25 bucks a ship, (20 on some websites) it seems pretty doable but this is a minor complaint. 

All in all, if you want to pick up another Lego Star Wars set but don't want to shell the exorbitant wad of cash that some of these sets will soak you, Go with the A-Wing, no question.  It's right up there with the Desert Skiff and AT-RT for some affordable sets with cool-as-hell minifigures.

League Assignment: I'm seeing red!


This week's assignment from the good ol' League of Extraordinary Bloggers:  I'm Seeing Red

Boy am I ever...this pic came out better than I thought it would showcased a few of my favorite franchises and all of the crimson adorned goodness to come along with them.  I was thinking of doing red-skinned guys for Star Wars like Nikto, Weequay and Admiral Ackbar but I just stuck with red suits or red bots.  Strange that a lot of these are my favorite figures as well...You gotta love Optimus, Powerglide and Warpath...Wild Weasel and Crimson Guard are possible my hands down favorites of the Joe collection and the Firebat is a simple but killer Cobra vehicle.  That Emperor's Royal Guard is a fan fave as well...that pike was a mother to track down at a not-insane price as well.


Check out some more Leaguers here!

ShezCrafti lists 21 magenta laden facts about herself
Flashlights are Something to eat goes with Red Foxx...hm, I'd go with Red Skelton or Red Buttons...what's with all these comedians named Red????
Cool and Collected goes red alert...wouldn't expect any less from the fearless leader
Toyriffic highlights a pretty random but cool figure
Thirtyishyearoldboy is finding red everywhere he looks, food, movies, comics, toys! I love it!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Feature: Diamond Select's Battle Beasts - Series 1

This is one heck of a delayed review...I must admit this was one series that I was incredibly torn about.  When I initially heard about these guys being released (like 2 years ago) I was eagerly awaiting seeing them drop on the pegs, then time passed and I lost interest, then they reared their heads at Comic Con last year and I saw human characters and that they were going to be comic shop, on-line exclusives which completely turned me off to the series and I set my sights on the Takara Beast Saga imports (which I ordered two of and was kinda disappointed in) then I saw that these guys were being released as Toys R Us exclusives minus the humans with two additional beasts with, in my opinion, better paint schemes.  I heard of a January release date and religiously searched the TRU website until one day, BOOM, the series pops up.  I packed Little Luke into the car and we headed off a few weeks back.  I snagged the entire series except for the re-pack of Vorin the Ram who I may buy again just for the new paint scheme and the pretty cool Scorpion bad guy, Scorpus (nice name, not.)

Mint on Card
They have your classic Minimates look but one thing you may notice is that these guys really don't look all that much like Minimates.  Art Asylum and Diamond Select did a great job creating some truly innovative unique sculpts to make these guys have very animistic qualities rather than just being straight-up anthropomorphous men painted up like animals. In the bottom left corner you see the Comic Con exclusive, Vorin vs. Zik (the fly, mosquito?)  Each box has the banner of Vorin, Gruntos and Merk (our heroes) in a Battle Stance. On the side of each character on the box is a nice cartoon style head shot of each character in true minimates fashion.

Packaging Out of the Box
Above is Merk and Spidron.  I'm fuzzy on character origins and the comic that has been released but I know Merk is the good guy and Spidron is the enemy character.  This set by far has the most extra accessories.  Your characters have a mess of holes on them to attatch weapons to their gear and/or bodies... As you can see, Spidron has detachable arms and a read stinger.  Take a look at Merk's legs though...my biggest gripe about the series is one of the nicest touches the made to the characters and that is skinny legs, that have reversed calf portions.  I'm thinking to make them look more animal accurate.  They look really good but they are not that easy to stand beyond one or two poses.  I personally think all minimates should come with nice clear, plastic stands. The weapons are made with painstaking detail and the paint applications are really spectacular.  These photos just can't do the facial detailing justice either.
Gruntos and Scalex ...(oops I meant, Scalpus, seriously doesn't "Scalex" sound way better for a snake bad guy???)  are the next guys we'll look at.  Very cook designs and you can see what I mean about detailing a little better since I was able to tighten up on the focus in this shot.  The weapons look really nice and Scalpus especially has weapons that really bring me back to the old Hasbro Battle Beasts.  These both stand really nice and are quite sturdy.  My issue here which doesn't even apply to me is that, as figures, these guys are supposed to have interchangeable parts for combinations and for kids to have fun with their minimates.  These two guys are pretty much as is.  I tried a bit to swap some parts and it's not too doable.  I don't plan on messing with these guys constructions so it doesn't bother me one bit.
Antalor and Nychirix are my favorites, hand's down.  The photos that were released of these two guys are pretty much what sparked my interest in the series again.   They were late figures beyond Gruntos, Vorin and Merk and their pictures didn't surface until about a year later. The facial detailing is amazing and Nychirix's face is great with an articulated jaw. (nice touch) The only thing that I found a problem with in this set is Nychrix's arms are very still and the first pose I tried to make in extending his wings almost broke his arms which came off really easily.  Antalor has a nice viking axe, a three way boomerang and a tusk horn.   Super cool.
Finally, here is my San Diego Comic Con Exclusive promo set of Vorin the Ram and Zik.  Vorin has had numerous paint variants and styles and this one's main difference is in his cape which is torn and windswept looking...There is also a pretty cool stealth version of him in darker blues, greys and black.  His weapons fit in his hands by far the easiest of all the beasts and the sword comes in a great looking scabbard that attaches to his back.   Zik is my least favorite of the group and doesn't really have much going on.  no weapons, pretty basic Minimate body that the just stretched and added a set of arms to.  His wings are very well made and look truly translucent though. Hats off to Art Asylum's great figures... My buddy is trying to score me an autographed copy of the amazing promo poster by Ulysses Farinas.  Now lets compare these new reinventions to the old Hasbro Battle Beasts.  Granted, these two franchises are supposed to be completely unrelated but any toy collector worth their salt would be hard pressed not to make instant comparisons.  One other thing, the Diamond Select guys even have a more BB feel to them than the Beast Saga revamps...The monochromatic pupil-less eyes say it all.

Spidron and Web Slinger Spider
Nychirix and Blitzkrieg Bat


Merk and Harrier Hawk
Gruntos and Wolfgang Walrus
Scalpus and Triple Threat Snake
Antalor and Major Moose

Friday, March 15, 2013

G1 knockoff impressions! Grimlock and Shockwave

I bit the bullet and asked for some KO Transformers for Christmas this year... I weighed my options and after long debate with a fellow collector who also vouched for KO's, I picked out two relatively pricey loose G1s that I've wanted for quite some time, Grimlock and Shockwave.  An original Grimlock goes for about 45 loose without any accessories and Shockwave is an instant 80 bucks even without the targeting reticule, battery cover and rotted cannon cable.   Money isn't particularly an issue but I did this purely for the sole nostalgic experience of actually getting a G1 Transfomer in a box and opening it for Christmas.  If going KO was pretty much the only way to do this, so be it.  I know some collectors absolutely hate these figures and all they stand for but these are for my shelves and I don't plan on reselling them so this doesn't bother me a bit.

Grimlock's box captures the vintage style pretty well even down to the stat card and points...I love the illustration on the back with the insecticons and Jetfire looking awesome.  (I actually had bedsheets with a very similar picture on this)  This is a major reason why I went with the KO's because of the chance to get this nice box art...let's face it, these two Transformers with their boxes would definitely be soaking you a couple hundred dollars...(as opposed to 100 for the pair)

Shockwave's box is pretty cool too although Shockwave isn't in the illustration (guess he's back on Cybertron)...When this came in the mail and I opened it up at my parent's house, my mom and dad instantly recognized this as one of my childhood toys..."Didn't you used to have this?" My dad asked.  "Yes, indeed"

Shockwave was the first of the Zhong Jin repro knockoffs we'll look at.  Overall, great construction, the electronics feature worked well...Shockwave in many respects is an absolute fan favorite so I've wanted to get my hands on any version I could. Shockwave was one of the original Transformers I had as a very young child and lost in the shuffle between High School and College.  His transformation works very well, although a bit "too" tight...I had to use pliers to get his feet and legs to move but too tight a transformation can never be a bad thing.  Or can it?  The plastic is well made, paint is spot on and he stands really sturdy.

Grimlock is another fan favorite.  However the price points I've been seeing for him (and pretty much all of the dinobots on ebay cept for Slag) have just been wayyy to high.  Have you seen the price of Swoop even withOUT his head??? Sheesh.  I never owned this guy as a kid but loved him on the show, in the movie and had him on my bedsheets so it was great to finally unwrap a Grimlock in a perfect G1 looking box...Except for the fact that the KO box calls him a Bommander instead of Commander. Oh well, that's why it's cheaper.  Besides that, I love this guy...he's got a special place on my desk as I type this.  He looks great, transforms perfectly, has perfect paint and chrome and his weapons are very well made...the only gripe is the sticker sheet the seemed a bit off center in how the decals were cut but you can judge that based on the photos.  Say what you will about KO's, if just having items that capture the feeling of owning an original G1 is your goal, these guys are for you.  I already have my eye on Cyclonus and Springer.