Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Is Pathfinder Beginner box the new Red Box?

There was a time when there was a rift in the rpg community. Dungeons and Dragons went to 4th edition, but a large number of players did not follow them in this new direction. This left a void! But of course the 3.5 SRD was still valid so someone could, if they wanted to, go back and make a new game.

Of course someone did this. Paizo the company that had been publishing Dungeon and Dragon magazines for years decided to shift into the game making market. They had already been creating an adventure path for use with 3.5 and had been expanding on that system. The next step for them was to create a game.. . . and compete with the company that had been producing the most popular RPG ever for the last 10 years.

The game is Pathfinder and Paizo has been producing it for some time, releasing huge tomes of rules. It has been very successful, but it has had issues with being able to get new players, as the size usually intermediates these new players. Paizo recently developed a beginner box set and this may be the best beginner box set to come out of the RPG industry in years.

The box is jam packed with lots of high quality products. Dice, Glossy full colored rule books, a battle mat, Cardboard counters, character sheets and enough rules to run an adventure up to level 5. This set gets me excited about role Playing again.

Take a look at what is in the box.

The rules are slightly simplified taking out some abstract rules such as attack of opportunity, but over all the rules set is fantastic and ye old D20 system. The amount of stuff you get in this box alone is worth the price of 30$ (or less at amazon).

If you are interested in role playing games, or want to get back into them, The Pathfinder Beginner box is an excellent place to start!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Toy and Comic Shows, a good stop gap for the cons!

I love conventions. These are great big events where you can meet people with similar interest. If you look hard enough you will find the perfect con for you. Probably near you. Go and check it out. Conventions are every where now. But what is becoming a lost art, so to speak, is the small local show.

These shows are what really tide me over between the big events. the shows are the place for the collectors. where you can go and look for comics and toys and other Nerdy things that you might be into or are looking for. always a good place to finish off a collection.

This Saturday is the Knoxville Comic and toy show. This show turns up three times a year and is one of my favorite events. It is small and local, but I always walk away finding something I am looking for. If your into Star Wars or Lego or Masters of the Universe or any number of other toys or comics you can find something there for your collection.

At just 2$ to get in it is well worth the time to go and look around even if you live a little further away but within driving distance, you should try it out it will be worth your time!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Mad Matty Monday Reveal

Last week I wrote about Mad Matty Monday. I jumped on the sale this time around and made an unboxing video to show you what you could get in the box this time around. The internet is reporting about 5 different variations of the box, all of them with 4 figures, so not too bad for $40. The value of my box is roughly $100.

In the box I got Gygor, Mo-larr vs Skeletor, Keldor, and Adora. For me this was a good box as I only had Adora out of this set.

If you participated in Mad Matty Monday this year I would love to hear what you got.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Toy Stories

I love toys. I always have. Toys were a very important part of my childhood. They were a way to express myself, tell stories, and even relate to others. I will go so far as to say that some of the toys I had as a kid, helped me become who I am. Not literally, but more in a round about way.

What I love about toys are the stories they tell. Not Necessarily the stories that children tell with them, but the stories that they tell. The little bit of paint that is rubbed off of a nose, or a chew mark on the right arm. Heck, a missing arm. These little plastic people can tell as many stories as their owners. This is one of the reasons I like going to flea market and yard sells so much. I like to find these stories. I like to bring these stories home with me.

To me a well played with vintage action figure is worth so much more than a vintage action figure that is still in the box. Toys can be securities for children. Some children escape into their toys to get away from less than desirable circumstances at home, some may just want to get away from a brother or sister, and others want to tell stories. Toys make all of these things possible. And in 20 years that kid will look onto that toy fondly.

I have had a lot of toys in my day (as a child and as an adult) I have gotten rid of some and I still have some. The ones that Stay the closest to me are the ones that mean something to me. I have acquired several He-man and Skeletor figures over the years, but MINE sit astride their Battle Cat and Panthor and battle it out on my desk. These figures got me through childhood and they are some of my most prized possessions, not because of a monetary value, but because they are MINE But these toys can tell a story on their own. He-man is dirty, and his legs are loose, but I don’t want to clean or fix him, because that dirt represents hours of battles we had together. I don’t want to change him because he is mine and is important to me the way he is.

Toys are important to children and I think that it is important for children to have these physical, tangible things that they can hold in their hands, as a security and as a developmental tool. Video games can be fun, and they can even learn from them. But they are not tangible, the adventures they have are scripted by a game designer. Giving children toys to play with may be more important than you can imagine.

Friday, October 14, 2011

UNIT-E from Hasbro And What it could be!

At NYCC this weekend there have been sightings of a poster bolstering UNIT-E from Hasbro. On the poster is a plethora of properties owned by the toy company. These Lines include, M.A.S.K, Jem, Action Man, Micronauts, Stretch Armstrong, Candy Land, and Battleship. There is also a new property that I am not familiar with "Primordia."

There has been speculation from months that Hasbro was doing something exciting with some of these older brands. But no one knew what it was. In august some even discovered that Hasbro got the rights to the name UNIT - E. So it has been speculated for some time, but now there is a little more information about it, and I suspect we will continue to get information through out the weekend.

this could turn out to be some very big news for toy fans.

Check out the poster and news at these sites:

And here is a forum post following the history of this project:

Now for My take and some friendly speculation.
There is some thought that hasbro is unleashing a shared universe between these properties. Some are speculating Transformers and GI Joe included in this as well.

this would be cool, and MASK, Action man, battleship, Micronauts, and maybe Stretch Armstrong could really work well in that universe. Then you have Candy land, and Jem. Which doesn't quite fit the bill.

What I find interesting is what is left off the list. Inhumanoids and Visionaries are two very good lines that did not make the list. That said we still don't know what Primordia is, and based on the image, I wouldn't doubt if it is somehow related to Inhumanoids, it wouldn't surprise me.

Some are speculating that it is a toy story/night at the museum like movie where toys come to life at night. Could be, so if they are toys for toys sake. . . Perhaps.

Unit-E could be any number of things, and it is going to be interesting to see what they do. I am excited about where it can and will go!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

80's Nostalgia: The Wheeled Warriors

This week I am am going to take a look at a little known toyline form the 80s and some of it's commercials. The Wheeled Warriors was a toy line of vehicles and small (about 2 inches) figures. The vehicles could share removable parts including wheels and weapons.

(The song on this cracks me up, really playing into the good guy bad guy thing. "You can make the Good guys better" and "You can make the bad guys badder")

As a Kid I never had any of these toys, but of course as an adult I have aquired some. This is another review I hope to do soon.

There was also a Cartoon series that these toys were based on. It was produced by DIC, and Animated by Sunbow. I remember watching this quite a bit a a kid. It was a fun show. Unfortunately it is one that suffers from "Not being as good as I remember it" I recently watched it and it was just kind of blah. Of course I find that a lot of shows suffer from this.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Repackaging is stealing!

This bothers me. Today I took a trip to Wal-Mart on my lunch break and pursued the toy Aisles. I do this from time to time to see what is new. The last time I was there I had noticed that they had goten quite a few characters from wave 14 of DC Universe Classics. which I thought was strange since those figures had been gone for a while. They had actually only recently disappeared from those same toy shelves. As I pursued the packages I noticed something was odd in a few of the figures. The Build a Figure piece was missing.

In some modern toy lines They have created Build a Figures. where you get a peice (an arm or a leg etc) of a figure so that if you collect them all you can guild a new complete figure. As I looked over the figures I realized this piece was missing in ALL of the new arrival wave 14 figures. They had all been "Repackaged"

Repackaging is what someone does when they buy a figure, takes the parts out that they want (sometimes replace it with something else) Reseal the package so it looks as if it has not been opened and then take it back. This, of course is stealing.

Its annoying on a couple of levels. 1) Like I said above it is stealing. 2) the store doesn't know it has happened and puts it back on the shelf for regular retail price, and 3) someone could buy it!

Its really quite despicable that people would do this. I understand that the figures are expensive. I understand that you might not want all of those figures, to get the one that you do want, but there are other ways to get them. Ebay usually has a huge stock of these pieces that you can buy for decent prices, and other places online as well.

Here are some pictures I took of the repackaged figures and their packaging.

Where the piece is missing

The Figure in package

The white line in the letters is where the culprit cut the tape and then repackaged.

The Figure in package

Where the piece should be.

The White line is the where the Culprit cut the original tape and then re-taped the package.

Please don't do this!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mad Matty Monday Sale

Today is the second Mad Matty Monday sale from In this sale Mattel bundles up to 3 mystery items in a box and sends them to you. you pay $40. The Items are guaranteed to have a $40 value, but more likely it will be much higher. There are three brand options. Masters of the Universe Classics, Ghost Busters, or DC Universe. Just select your brand and then get your items.

The reports from the last sale were pretty good, In the Masters sets most people got an oversized figure like Tytus which has a $40 price tag to begin with, a regular figure and some sort of accessory product. That comes out to about 75$ worth of product.

So, if your interested in one of these brands and you either want to get a good deal, or perhaps you are just looking for a good way to start collecting these figures you may take a look at this Mad Matty Monday sale!

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Evocative Cover Art of Jack Kirby's Kamandi

In the Early 70s DC tried to get the license from for Planet of the Apes, but was unsuccessful. Of course that didn't Dampen their spirits, they just turned to Jack Kirby and ask him to create something similar. Kirby hadn't seen the movies but was familiar with the concept. He had written other stories similar to Planet of the Apes predating even the novelization of the story.

So Kirby created Kamandi the Last Boy on Earth. A series with vivid imagery of a post apocalyptic earth ruled by sentient animals. I find that the covers of this series is some of the most evocative imagery I have ever seen in comics. The covers tell a story. Here are some of my favorites.

(Images come from The Cover Browser you can find more comic book covers there as well)
Issue 1

Issue 2

Issue 4

Issue 8

Issue 12 unfinished and finished Cover
(found at

Issue 15
Issue 19
Issue 27

Issue 29
Issue 31

Issue 36
Take some time and explore other great Kamandi Covers at the Cover Browser

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Is Moffat Still the Golden Boy?

I am writing today to pose a question to myself. “Is Moffat still the Golden child I had hoped he would be?” Now that the honey moon period with Moffat is over What do I think about his tenure as producer so far?

Moffat has an incredible resume (in Doctor who alone). He does fantastic work. that resume got me thinking back RTD’s day that Moffat would be a perfect person to replace RTD. For the most part I was not alone in this thought process. Many fans championed the cause of Moffat as show runner. All of the stories he had written were so original, and well done. Most of them won awards and those were the stories that were putting Doctor who on the map like it had never been before. I was firmly on “Team Moffat” I championed the cause. Moffat took over.

Now its been two years and while I still agree that Moffat was the obvious choice and still was the best option (especially for taking doctor who to new audiences) I have to say he has taken the show in a direction that was unexpected.

In season 5 he introduced a whole new way of looking at the show. He made it clear that the past still happened and he wasn’t trying to supersede any of that. However, the look changed immediately. Even the promotional material changed to a kind of floating, spacey feeling. replacing dark shadows with purples and stars. Immediately, I really liked this! It felt classic, some how.

It took me a few episodes for it to really jive with me. Moffat put his new direction in from the very start, but it wasn't until we hit “Time of Angels” and “Flesh and Stone” that it really jived with me. Those stories introduced space in a way that the new series hadn’t done. It DID feel like classic who. Lots of little references for the old school fans but not so much to really turn off new viewers. At the same time though, Moffat was putting his mark on his tenure, and that mark was River Song. He started throwing in long term story goals. Some of which we still don’t know the answers to! This is Moffat’s style. Toying with the audience.

Season five went on with some very good episodes, some of them may be some of the better in doctor who history. Others of the season could be some of the worst! It was a mixed bag but still good and for the most part on par with the RTD era.

Moffat, at least for me seemed that he was doing a good job, but I decided to reserve judgement for the next season.

Season 6 has now come and gone, and I have a better idea of what Moffat is doing. If I were basing my opinion of where he is going on season 6 alone I would be a little worried. He has continued threads from season 5, some of which he still hasn’t finished, and I have to say I am becoming bored with the River Song story. There is a silver lining however, He is bringing back some very good episodic stories that are good for what they are. A fantastic plus. I thrive on these episodic stories. the arc was still there (and often very present) but the episodes have been good.

If all indications of where season 7 is going is accurate, I am excited for season 7 and of course season 8 will be a 50th anniversary extravaganza. So at the moment I am excited as to where Moffat is taking us, but I have to say it is not the way I would have expected him to do it. And I’m not sure it is the way I would have asked for it to be done.

I’m not sure if Moffat is the the golden boy we thought he was going to be. If you look at his person he is much more of an ego than RTD was, this is not necessarily a bad thing. He does have a precise image of where he sees Doctor who going, so in that respect I think we are in good hands. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for our show and it’s show runner.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Four Horsemen's Independently Made Action Figures

I’ve been familiar with the four horsemen since they worked on the 2002 Masters of the Universe line. Since then they have worked on several lines including Masters of the Universe Classics and DC Universe Classics for Mattel, But did you know that the Four Horsemen also have their own lines of figures.

I first heard about these four horsemen creations a few years back, but only recently have really paid attention to them. As with ALL of their work they have created some really, cool figures and sculpts, and are really innovative with their design process.

A few of the really cool lines that they are producing on their own is the Outer Space men (which takes advantage of Onell design's Glyos system), and the Gothitropolis line of figures. All of the figures they produce offers multiple interchangeable parts from arms and hands and some times even faces. . . Yep you read it right some of the Scarabus figures from the Gothitropolis line have multiple faces! The Horsemen go all out to make great figures.

Here are a few images from the Fore Horsemen's web store, flick on the image to go to that product on their store.

Take a look at the other toys you can get from their store at Take a look at the Awesome statuesque figures that these guys are creating on the independent market.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

80's Superhero Toy Lines, and Some Commercials

I am a fan of 80s toy lines. I love He-man, and am intrigued by Transformers and GI joe, but there are two other lines that epitomize the 80s for me. Secret Wars, and Super powers were Competing lines of Marvel and DC super heroes respectively. Both were about in the same scale (about 4 inches) but they were both different.

The Super Powers line, by Kenner, was made up of DC Super heroes, and made a huge deal out of action features. You press the figures legs together you activate punching arms or a grab or some other feature. This was the main piece of the line, and I have to say it was fun as a kid. I got a lot of play out of the Super Powers figures I had. which as I recall were only SuperMan, Batman, and Robin. But those three saw a lot of play.

DC Super Powers line toy commercials.

Alternately there was Marvel’s line, the Secret Wars was produced by Mattel. They were simpler figures. . . Much simpler figures. They had two fewer points of articulation, and no action features (which is strange because of the emphasis Mattel had put on action features in other lines). The figures were made out of an almost PVC materiel and had an almost rubbery bend in them. Each of the figures came with an accessory, a Shield, a Secret shield to be exact. The shields would open and a small lenticular insert could be inserted within the shield to show moving scenes. As a kid I only had spider man from this line, but that spiderman got a lot of play. I still rank this as one of the best toy lines in the 80s regardless of it’s simplicity!

Marvel Secret Wars Toy Commercial showcasing some vehicles. There, weren’t as many Secret wars Comericals produced.

Since the 80’s I have acquired more of each of these lines, and hope to do some line reviews of these in the near future. For now though, Watch these spectacular Toy commercials for the lines! They scream adventure to me :)

Monday, October 3, 2011

That New Toy Smell No more!

This weekend one of my favorite web series ended. That New Toy smell is/was a toy news and review show that was produced by the Pop Culture Network. The guys that roe on this show and the other shows/videos from the site really know their stuff. They were some of the first people online doing what they are doing.

That New Toy Smell is just one show that they produce and their material is fantastic. A community of collectors has really popped up around these videos. I have to admit that These guys are the guys that got me back into collecting, and going to toy shows etc. . .

The guys over at the network cover all kind of toy events from cons like SDCC and even industy shows like New York toy Fair. They have the best pictures and information for what is coming out.

I also find myself frequenting he forums there, there is a GREAT community of users and collectors who are always helpful if you have a question. If you are a collector sign up for the forums there are a lot of people who are interested in what you have to say.

So to the guys at Pop Culture network I would like to thank you for all of the time and efort you guys put into the show you do, and thank you for almost 4 years of that new toy smell, Even though I got to it late, I still feel that it is an important part of the collectors community and it will be missed.

To all of you who may be interested take a look at the Pop Culture Network and see what they have to offer they have some Great content! you can also check out their youtube channels Here and Here

If you are interested here is the final episode of That New Toy Smell!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Is Collecting Killing the Toy Industry Or is it Video Games?

The other day I posed a question on an internet forum I frequent. The question was simple: Is collecting hurting the toy industry? I think it is a valid question.

Here is my thought process: I frequent toy aisles, I'm a collector it's what we do. In the last few years how ever I am seeing fewer and fewer kids in these aisles, and more and more collectors (meaning people around my age). Now for me I think of the toy industry as an industry that exists because of kids. The industry companies report that only 20 - 30% of their market is collectors. They even use kids as excuses. Recently there was a 4 inch green lantern movie line (go to any big box stores they have tons of these because no one bought them) that is one of the worst toy lines I have ever seen. Little articulation and almost no playability. When asked about it Mattel answered with "It's not geared at collectors its a children's line" with a line of thinking that children don't want quality toys.

All of that said if you go down the toy aisles you see lots and lots of toys that are obviously aimed at collectors, with special multi-packs , 6 inch figures, and prices that are way out of reach for children to acquire. And of course children can't get to the stores like adults can, adults can frequent stores whenever they are able, so by the time kids get there all of the good stuff that they want are gone. Not to mention the crappy limited packs of figures in boxes.

I will say that this post is mostly about boys toys, for the most part girls toys are thriving now, with more aisles than they have had for sometime, and I might say some of the best girls toys to come out for a while. What does this say about the trends of the industry?

Now when brought up on the forum there were some good responses, the most common being "It's not collectors it's video games" which is a valid point. I have a few nephews and they really could care less about toys, and would much rather play with a video game, some of them come equipped with a DS wherever they go. Toys are unimportant to them because they like the fictional world that is created for them on the screen. So are video games imagination killers?

I'm not going to be so bold as to say that, but I will say this: the toys that I grew up with were very good at being story toys. they were evocative in design and concept, they worked toward telling a story . I enjoyed . . . and lets face it. . . still enjoy delving into a world of fiction with my toys. Don't get me wrong, As a kid and now, I enjoy a good video game. The selection around my house is not as impressive as it once was, but I enjoy it from time to time.

Now of course this could come down to a a lot more than what I mentioned here. Parrenting styles (not a criticism just noting that there is an option here), As I mentioned before selection in the toy aisles, and of course the obsession with electronics in today's society. Some of this comes from advertising, or the lack of it. A few days ago I posted about Masters of the Universe toy commercials from the 80s, these used to be the norm, now they are few and far between. On the other hand Video Game commercials are every where.

So lots to think about, but what do you think? Why do you think the toy aisles are becoming emptier?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Doctor Who Confidential Canceled and How to Fix It

Doctor Who Confidential has been canceled. the official reason is sited as financial issues, using it as a cost cutting option. In my opinion this should have happened a long time ago . . . At least in terms of what it currently is.

I have been with Doctor who for a long time, and the behind the scenes stuff has always my favorite bits, but I haven't watched confidential since season 2. It just hasn't appealed to me, mainly because by the time it is on the screen I have already consumed this information. Though they are very good at keeping spoilers out of the public and off of the internet, a lot of the information that confidential reports are things that come out in interviews and set pics leading up to the particular episode. They have always made much better DVD extras.

Here is my suggestion. Make it a web series. The format would work on the web, actually it would work very well. You could do less video and make it a weekly feature. It could contain written information with video put in to support the text. With this format you could spread out the release of information across the week that the episode airs. Revealing bits and piece, interviews with actors and producers, etc. . . It would be two fold, informative for those of us who like behind the scenes stuff, but also it could act as publicity material.

These are just my thoughts what do you guys think?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Why I'm a Fan

As just about any reader knows I like Doctor Who. I can’t remember not liking Doctor Who. I’ve been thinking a lot about why we like things that we like, and Doctor Who Seemed like a good starting point.

Thinking about the things I like. . . the major things that I like . . . they all stem from childhood. Nostalgia plays a huge part. I find that I am constantly striving to pull on thread that runs from childhood through to adulthood. I surround myself with parts of my childhood, probably in an attempt to not loose said childhood. Of course, all of this “climbing a thread from my childhood” ends in a lot of clutter, and extra stuff. Collections I can’t let go of, and buying up parts of my childhood that I want to preserve. The line of logic usually goes back to “But I want my kids to have them when/if I ever have kids” When In the back of my mind I know I would never let my kids play with them.

Now, Fandom has also been an interesting journey for me. The earliest form of any sort of organized fandom for me involved me asking my dad questions about Doctor Who. Of course, this quickly switched to my dad asking me questions about Doctor Who. My dad of course is probably the reason I am the person I am with fandom. Now, he is by no means a super fan. But he is also more than a casual viewer. Some of my earliest memories are of being with my dad and watching doctor who, or playing with toys, or looking at books about things that I still like. He encouraged the love that I have for these things. So in a way, even though I am lucky enough to still have my father, these childhood franchises that I hang on to is not only a connection to my childhood, but it is also a connection to my father. In one way it’s a point of reference that I can communicate to him about, and on another level it is a part of me that I know I will always share with my dad. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I can feel my dad when I watch Doctor Who, or pick up a Masters of the Universe figure, and I hope to always have that!

So, My purpose for fandom is nostalgia and also the memories it conjures for my Dad. I think it is probably more complicated than that, but those are the reasons I feel it is important for me. Why is fandom important to you? why are the franchises that you follow important to you. Why does it just make sense to be a fan?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Exploring Masters of the Universe Toy Commercials!

I love toy commercials from the 80s. I find myself trolling youtube looking for these commercials. Of course my favorite are the Masters of the Universe commercials, of course as a kid that was my favorite, so it makes sense that I would still be drawn to it. The commercials grew over the years, but they told a story.
The story was usually an encounter played out by kids, of one of the bad guys trying to get castle grayskull, but sometimes it would be Skeletor running from the horde. It always ended on a cliff hanger with the idea that the ending was up to the kids watching. That they should tell the story they way they wanted to. I loved this encouragement for telling stories. Back then I felt like ti was important to tell a story with my toys. and these commercials . . . even though they were trying to sell me something it they were entertaining and to some point educational in that it got me wanting to tell a story the way the kids were on the commercial.

I am going to post a few commercials that I like a lot.

The first one is a very rare early masters commercial that was only aired once or twice in the US. so this is a rough video.

“What would you do with all of the power in the universe?”

And of course the first mainstream commercial.

The Slime Pit. This was one that I always wanted but never got. . . while I was a kid. . . I have two of these now :)

Snake mountain . . . Is waiting if you dare!

The fright zone -

The Evil Horde - This is one that is still very vivid in my mind as a child. Probably one of the best comercials they made:

Battle Bones - thought it was a cool idea then. . . and I still do

And of course there were commercials made in other countries, here is one from Germany. My only question is, why did they put Stratos in the flying vehicle ?

And finally, this is not a commercial but it is a video of a traveling toy display from the mid 80s.

So tell me, what are your favorite toy commercials? What do you remember about those vintage 80s toy commercials.

We all have the power!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Avengers, Earths Mightiest Heroe's - Thoughts-

For me, cartoons based on Marvel properties have never been as good as cartoons based on DC properties. They always lack something. It always feels like they are making a cartoon to make a cartoon, and not necessarily tell a good story.

Don’t get me wrong they’re not all bad, so to speak, just lacking. That is until I watched the New Adventures cartoon. I think they finally got it right. Marvel has finally gotten their “Super friends” or to compare it to something more modern, Justice League. This series is reaching back to the beginnings of the Avengers comics, and though they are modernizing, they are staying true to source material. I appreciate that.

I am only about 6 episodes in, but they are spending their time telling character driven stories and building to something much larger. Each of the characters have gotten an episode to showcases them to get the viewer interested. Then the characters begin working together without even knowing it.

The traditional Avengers characters aren’t the only characters of importance, you also have Nick Fury and his Shield Agents, the Asgardian pantheon, and a whole host of super villains. The world the writers are constructing is complex and far reaching. The threats come from around the world, other planets, other dimensions and even from the future.

Of course there are hints at the rest of the Marvel Universe existing right there in the first six episodes. There is a News Paper about a vigilante and a skull as a photo alluding to The Punisher, and Our friend Logan who will one day become Wolverine Fights along side Captain America back in WWII. I prefer a wide far reaching universes. Things seem to pop better when I can feel that there is a world living outside of the story I am seeing.

Another thing that really works for me is the animation. So many of the cartoons I am seeing these days has a distinct Japanese style, which is OK, I am not anti anime, I just don ‘t want that to be the only diet of animation that I get. the styling of this show is like watching a comic book with, comic book art, and “sound” effects. It is truly superb.

I have to say the Avengers, was a pleasant surprise. When I began watching I didn’t know what to expect. I have seen so many dumbed down super hero cartoons, I really wasn’t expecting much. This blew me away the animation is highly superior and the story telling is excellent. If you are a cartoon or comic book fan, you should check this out. If you have kids who like cartoons, let them see this. It truly is fantastic!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Secret Histoy of Comics

I have often found that I am more interested in the back story of how fiction came to be as much as I am interested in the fiction itself. I have spent many an hour tracking down and reading Doctor who nonfiction and facts about the development of the show. The soap opera of production if you will. I am intrigued by that. I find that the drama behind the screen is as interesting as what is actually on the screen.

Recently I have begun looking at other Soap operas of development. I have become interested in the history of a medium, namely comic books. The history of the comic industry is filled with friendship, backstabbing, love, sweatshops, and of course hate. for some the fledgling industry was a way to make a quick buck, that's what the publishers saw. For others, though, it was a way of expression. Hundreds of children of the 1930s would copy the Sunday comic supplements and learn to draw. Of course many of those children would go on to work in the comic industry and help define a medium. Many of the names that are melded into comic history started just like that. Bob Kane, Jack Kirby, Joe Shuster, the list goes on. But of course there were others that didn’t survive the war on comics.

What I have found is that in the history of comics there was hate for a medium. Much like television, video games, the internet have been accused of rotting the minds of the youth and turning them all into delinquents, comic books suffered this fate almost 80 years earlier. When the comic medium went through this there were many who paid. Many of the artists and writers never worked again in the medium they loved. some even had to change their names, as they were hated and blacklisted. The public outcry was that these creators of comics were terrible people for “warping” the minds of the youth. The comic industry almost didn’t survive.and it took over ten years for it to find its feet again after this golden age.

Once the American Comics Code was put into effect The comic book industry bounced back which brought this second age of comics. . . the silver age. This silver age brought the super hero, which was only a small portion of the golden age of comics, to the forefront of the industry. So in many ways this controversy of the 1940s created the current state of comics that we see now on the comic shop shelves. In reading about these situations I am reminded of the importance of the backdrop of a situation and the effect it has on everything else.

If you are interested in this oft forgotten history check out “The Ten Cent Plague” by David Hajdu. Take a look at some of the backdrop from an industry that we take for granted today.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Rewatching movies from my childhood: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the Movie

In my adult mind the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie has always been a a cheese fest with a shallow plot, questionable costumes, and a lot of pandering to children. As a child I remember loving it, so I think the grown up inside didn’t want to expect too much so made it out to be a bad movie. Strangely I was surprised watching this movie.

There was pandering to children. Using slang words of the the time to mimic the characters from the cartoon show, but as an adult instead of being turned off by this It actually drug me into being a 10 year old kid and I found myself kind of smiling at the ridiculousness of these characters. What I found was that these “Turtles” were indeed characters and not just icons. The movie did not push the title characters to the background to focus on “human nature” like modern “cartoon” movies like Transformers tend to do. This movie actually reminded me of the other part of the title of the movie “teenage,” which is a part of the title that is often forgotten about.

These Turtles were very much teenagers which I think was great, they went through teenage angst and dealt with some of the feelings teenagers go through. Now, this is to a lesser extent than someone might expect in some movies but it is there and I think that is something that makes the movie great. We have four odd characters that are allowed to be characters. we are allowed to see this journey, or change that they experience. In a way this is a coming of age movie and it works really well in that mindset.

We get a lot of really well written lines for the “good guys” we have characters that are alive and vibrant from April and Casey to Splinter. On the other spectrum I feel that the “Bad guys” were card board and stagnant, they were bad for the sake of being bad, and in a way that is what they were supposed to be, all of the foot clan were criminals because being a criminal was cool.

I think there is one component of the movie that still works for me all of these years later and allows the movie to really stand up 21 years later. The Turtle costumes were fantastic. They, even now, suspend my disbelief. Thinking about when this was made, I am amazed at the the quality of these costumes. Now days they would just computer animate these guys. I am so glad we have these really well built costumes though, it adds something real to the experience.

Now that Nickelodeon has the rights to the franchise there is talk of yet another cartoon series and a new movie and of course with that comes a new toy line, but there is something great about the fact that I can settle back to this movie 21 years after it was made and still enjoy it. A lot of the movies from my childhood are hard to watch and I easily find flaws with them, but as I watched The original Turtle movie, I couldn’t find a flaw. I laughed at all the prompts and more importantly I was a kid again. For 93 minutes I went back in time while I enjoyed a movie I loved as a kid, not becuase it pandered to the kid inside me but because it was actually a good movie.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Doctor WhoTarget Novel Cover Gallary

A great legacy of Doctor Who through the last 45 or so years has been Doctor who novelizations. In those years there has been some very good book covers. In this post I want to mention show some of the interesting covers from some of the episode novelizations.

Sometimes they just got things wrong. In this first doctor Adventure, Tom Baker, the fourth Doctor, is presented on the cover.

This is an early Chris Achilleos cover of the first appearance of the Dalek’s

Some of the covers are just very evocative.

One of my favorite stories.

The Achilleos covers are some of my favorites.

Although sometimes he did not hit the faces perfectly.

This isn’t the right Cyber Head!

Imagine the silver bit being shiny!

This actually looks better than what appeared on the actual story!

There are some very interesting Target covers, and you can look at many more of them at Tardis.Wikia, where I got these images, take a look and enjoy the look at all of the different art that defined a generation or people who were unable to see some of the TV episodes that these books were based on!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Doctor Who and Space Opera

As I mentioned in my last post I love space opera. I love the black and white nature of characters, I love the gleaming space age space ship, I love the intrigue on a galactic level. As most of you know I also love Doctor Who, and therefore have a special place in my heart for Doctor who with a hint of Space Opera in them.

Some of my favorite doctor who stories are those set in the gleaming halls of space ships, stations, or bases. Some of them have the square jawed space captain hero and some simply have the Doctor to save the day. An era that I feel has some of the best space opera stories is the early 70s.

While for most of his time as the Doctor, Jon Pertwee, was stuck on earth where he defined himself as a man of action, a new man for a new time. When he finally does get back into space he is, of course no less a man of action. Jumping right in the middle of two races on the brink of war in “Frontier in Space”, we get to see a very well developed race in the Draconians, and we see the future of humanity. Each of them not thinking they can survive with the other. Of course the Doctor sorts it out.

Later of course the Doctor stumbles upon talks between representatives of the Galactic Federation and the primitive planet of Peladon. in this adventure you get a menagerie of aliens including The centipede like Alpha Centauri, the “Head in a Bowl” Arcturus, and of course Ice Warriors, who are my favorite Doctor Who monster. . . Except in this adventure they are not “Monsters” they are not even the bad guys, they are the good guys! At a young age I think this is what struck me, Monsters who are not bad. Intergalactic civilizations existing in peace amongst one another was such a novel idea to my young mind. It was a morality tale, and has stayed with me today. But the whole story made my mind come alive with stories about space battles and the galactic federation, and Aliens and peace summits. While the story itself was not all shiny space ships and swashbuckling adventure, it subtly set a stage in my mind for adventures, that every doctor who story set in space has to stack up to!

Of course there are all kinds of space stories in Doctor Who, it is part of the show on screen and off. Some of the best Space Opera in Doctor Who is in the audio spin off series from Big Finish Productions “Dalek Empire” To me the Daleks were made to roam the halls of space ships. Boarding them and fighting freedom fighters. And, in Dalek Empire, that is what they do. We have heroes fighting, what seems like an impossible battle against every one’s favorite metal genocide machines.

In fact, as much hate as the new Dalek Design in the new series got, I think they fit the space age Dalek. Their shiny plasticy domes and their fancy neon colors reflecting lights up and down corridors. Of course that said they are still too big!

Recently I have been most impressed with the first few minutes of “The Time of Angels” where we see River Song escape a space ship into the void of space only to be picked up by the Doctor. Also in that story we get this great back story of the church and where it is in the future, as a sort of Knights Templar sect acts as military. Later in season 5 we see river song again, this time she escapes again, and makes her way to a bazaar with a host of Alien creatures that puts me in mind of Jabba’s palace.

Space Opera and intergalactic intrigue is in the blood of Doctor who in so many of it’s forms over the years. Exploring shiny cultures or, more often the future of our own culture is one of the most fun experiences a new producer, or writer can give to this great audience that the show has!