Saturday, 11 May 2013

Play Arts Kai Dark Knight Trilogy Batman

More than just a Man
Hello, world of high(er) end collectables! If you're as good as my first impressions of the PAK DKR Batman here, I may just stick around...

This is that pre-order I was talking about, and it's pretty incredible. This figure's got fantastic poseability, comes with a great selection of accessories and feels pretty sturdy - I haven't experienced any QC issues as yet (and I'm knocking on wood as I type) - it's without doubt the best Batman I own. Hoping I can get some good pictures with this guy, and maybe one day a Joker to go with him... Everything but my wallet is stoked for this!

Friday, 10 May 2013

LoEB: Deserted Island

league deserted island
Deserted Island Ahoy!
The League assignment this week is:

You are stranded for 10 years on a deserted island. You can take with you the following: One food item (in a never-ending supply), one movie, one game, and one pop culture character. 

This one is easy, right? My favourites from the subjects listed that I also think will endure for a decade. Easy. Ish.


Those of you who know me would know it couldn't be anything else...


I tried to think of alternatives to this, but to no avail. You can't mess with perfection.

Plus snow, right?

This was the toughest, but ultimately it had to be...

Riddler Trophies a Must...
Pop Culture Character

I'll preface this by saying I'm not a sleazy guy. All the same, I'd need help with basic survival skills, and would you rather spend ten years with runaway-dad Indiana Jones, or Lara Croft?

Yep, thought so.
For me that'd be ten years set; all bases covered and a lot of noodling to be getting on with. Sounds a little bit like paradise, actually...

Here's how some other Leaguers would survive:

Retro Toy Safari shares the Empire love and has a genius game suggestion!
The 30ish Year Old Boy and I have a lot in common...
If I could get a food exchange programme going on with Rich at Fortune and Glory (Days), I totally would.
Goodwill Hunting 4 Geeks has an inspired choice of companion(s)!
And Brian's picture at Cool and Collected says it all...

More here!

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Red Hot Summer

Decepticon Smolder
Quick photo post! We cleared out the garden today, and then had a little burn out with the cuttings. This seemed like the ideal situation to showcase my number one pyromaniac Decepticon, Smolder, as always accompanied by his Targetmaster-esque fire axe Chopster.

Through some of the exceptional photographers at Flickr I found PicMonkey, a photo-editing site that works like a phone app but with more functionality. There are premium only tools, but I edited the picture above with the free filters and I'm very happy with it how it turned out. There's not even any need to sign up and log-in, and you can upload straight to other sites, as well as save to your computer. I have yet to see a downside!

Eyes on Fire!
Back on topic with Smolder - you may remember that I pre-ordered the Maketoys Mobine Missile Launcher back in December; unfortunately after several delays (it's still on pre-order for April, with no sign of updates...), I cancelled the order to utilise the finds for something else. I've instead made another pre-order, but this time I'll keep quiet on what it is until I have it in hand...

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Garden War!

Free Comic Book Day 2013 was good to me, as I picked up three IDW Transformers issues amongst many others - an Alex Milne sketchbook, a re-print of Buster Witwicky and the Car Wash of Doom, and best of all, Re-Generation #81. The latter comic is a brilliant read, as it picks up from the end of the old Marvel series, with characters and a status quo that I know and remember fondly. Subsequently, I found myself in a Transformers mood...

G1 Transformers are mainly where it's at for me. I have some fond memories of Beast Wars, and love the design of Lio-Convoy (amongst others) - I certainly never subscribed to the 'Trukk not Munky' mindset - but the G1 cartoon and movie are what I think of when someone says 'Robots in Disguise'. However great the toys were for the mid-80's though, they don't stand up to today's standards, and that's where the Universe/Generations line does such a great job.

Cyclonus is a faithful interpretation of the G1 character design, the likes of which we didn't get with any Autobot or Decepticon back in the day, down to the colour scheme and the fantastic light-piping that make the eyes burn red. This version is from a Reveal the Shield two-pack that came with Rodimus Prime and a Matrix of Leadership - unfortunately I bought this second hand, so my only Hot Rod is an actual G1 version - but Cyclonus here did come with his firearm, the amazingly updated Targetmaster Nightstick. The amount of articulation, unthinkable in the 80's, coupled with the character likeness and playability (the transformation is sublimly intuitive) make Cyclonus a shining example of how Transformers should be done...

Autobot Jazz
On to the Autobot side of the battle then. I've already blogged before about Jazz and the heartbreak associated with that particular guy at G1; since then though I'm pleased to announce that my Reveal the Shield version has remained in one piece (but excuse me for a moment whilst I knock on some wood!).

What I loved about the old Marvel UK comics, besides the fact it was weekly installments of the Cybertronian War, was that it was my first exposure to a seperate continuity, and to the idea that the stories I could tell with these characters didn't need to be rail-roaded within the confines of the cartoon universe. That seemed like a decent preparation for pop-culture today, with re-boots and Ultimate Comics and live-action movie versus first-generation animated movie factions becoming increasingly normal; and I love it. Sure, we get some stinkers like Revenge of the Fallen, but then we also get the Dark Knight Trilogy. It evens out!

Bringing it back around, I'm glad that a comic like Re-Generation exists, and I'll keep reading. It's Transformers as I remember them, and I'm very happy that it's being continued - Bludgeon, Skorponok and Megatron as the Decepticon heavy-hitters suits me just fine.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, 4 May 2013

LoEB: Comic Books

league comics

Another week, another League post - I'm getting good at this! But this subject, man, what a doozy... COMIC BOOKS. Where to start?

Stage One: Elementary Reading

Paul Ryan
OK, for me it all started with Garfield, but newspaper strips are a whole 'nother art form in themselves and not one I'll talk about this time round. Milton Keynes market, very early 90's, where my Mum used to get me big bundles of comics. I loved Fantastic Four, but only for the frequent appearances of Spider-Man; it was a little while before I realised he had titles of his own! Regardless, from those early days, my favourite issue was the smackdown fight between the old and new Fantastic Fours, leading to Wolverine slashing the Thing's face, and the Thing reciprocating by punching Wolvie through some buildings and then having to wear a bucket on his head. Put that in an issue with the added bonuses of Spidey AND Ghost Rider, and you have a *ahem* modern classic!

Stage Two: Getting Hooked

Artist Unknown
When Sam moved to my village in '93 with a mutual love of comics, I got into them Big Time (see what I did there?). The Marvel UK reprint series 'The Exploits of Spider-Man' gave us modern issues, past classics, posters and news about what was going on in the Marvel Universe. Comics were available at newsagents, and we both devoured anything and everything we could. The 2099 universe was a huge deal for us (Miguel O'Hara becoming a favourite of mine), and together we created our own superhero universe and comics, under the banner Outer Limits. Our flagship character was Lobster Man, and we put together five full-length black and white comics (three Lobster Man, one Mutations and one Ice Master) and three inventory issues, which was impressive for pre-teens. Our efforts saw us get invited to the Marvel UK offices, where we met Tim Quinn, got shown around the studios and offices and given a bag full of free comics, including one signed by Stan Lee himself! Truly epic times.

Stage Three: Hard to Keep Up

Mark Bagley
I loved the Scarlet Spider, and the Clone Saga had me hooked to begin with, but around this time comics stopped selling in newsagents, reverting to the underground of speciality stores. As a kid I still got what I could, but not regularly enough to keep up with everything as frequently. Also I was getting older, and divergent interests, along with peer pressure, saw me start to drop away from comics. I picked up a few issues of the Ben Reilly-helmed Amazing Spider-Man, but stopped before his untimely demise at the hands of the Green Goblin in SM #75. 

Stage Four: Focus

Mark Bagley

In the late 90's I pretty much stopped reading Spider-Man due to the awful storylines and worse artwork, and only read X-Men sporadically (despite Joe Madureira's stunning pencils); however, at that time two titles drew me in with a dedication I hadn't had before - Thunderbolts, and from the pages of Spider-Man, Slingers. Thunderbolts utilised the brilliant concept of villains pretending to be heroes, who then discovered they liked the feeling of being good guys too much to carry out their plan. Writer Kurt Busiek expertly managed the doubts and personal relationships of the characters as they faced Avengers-like situations from their unique point of view, and longtime Spidey artist Mark Bagley provided sharp visuals and costume designs. The short-lived Slingers was an entertaining series about young kids being thrust into the world of superheroes, with engaging character dynamics and energetic, highly-stylised art. This series could've gone on much longer than it's 12 issues (and one Wizard #0), in my opinion...

Todd Nauck
From the Distinguished Competition, Young Justice filled the void left by Slingers and started my shift away from Marvel Zombiedom. Humorous characters, giant slices of character development and drama, and zany adventures all gave a sheen to a series with real heart. I hadn't cared much for DC outside of the big events before reading this series, but my horizons were broadened; so much so that this was the last ongoing series I collected regularly from either of the big two.

Stage Five: Branching Out

Andi Watson
I was winding up my love affair with superhero comics as 'real life' (girls and a social life) began to take over. Then a good friend from school who worked in the local comic shop put a copy of Blue Monday in my hands, and I was hooked. Blue Monday led very quickly to Hopeless Savages, who remain my number one all time favourite comic family, and this in turn led, through the amazing art of Bryan Lee O'Malley, to Scott Pilgrim. From there I embraced the indie publishers, rifling through Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, Street Angel, Lenore, Love and Rockets, Channel Zero, and many more.

Brian Wood
I was fortunate enough to meet O'Malley a few years ago, and I got him to sign my dog-eared copy of Ground Zero. He wasn't that flattered that I'd bought his earliest published work, but it's where I fell in love with his style!

Stage Six: Natural Conclusion

Bryan Lee O'Malley
Marvel's Civil War bought me back into the mainstream superhero fold, before Spider-Man's deal with the not-Devil punted me right back out again; all the same though, I began to tread between the indie and mainstream publishers without ever committing to any series completely (save for Scott Pilgrim, DMZ and Scarlet Spider). My love of the medium led me back to creating my own comics and in 2008, after years of drawing one-page strips, I finally started putting together my own mini-comics. I carried this on for many years, before realising I would need to significantly improve to make a real go of it; subsequently I've just (as in, on Wednesday) finished a two-year film-making course to better understand storytelling, both visually and emotionally. I haven't completed any comics in that time, and have a feature film script to write first; but I might just crack out the old ink and pens again sometime soon...

Yours Truly, circa 2011
Wow, that turned into a bit of an essay! The passion's clearly still there; guess I just need to stoke those fires. To those of you who made it this far though, thanks for reading!

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