Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Round Robin Challenge: Christmas Wishes Vs. Christmas Reality

With the death of Pop Culture League Challenge, I toyed (no pun intended) with the idea of creating my own challenges for people, but refrained from doing so because I didn't want to step on anyone's toes by "taking over" what Brian had created. Then I came across Mr. Smith's concept - Round Robin, and had to admit that I really like this idea. Not only does it create a new League (of sorts), but it also keeps the ball rotating from blog to blog.

The way it is designed is that the first person to post gets the privilege of hosting the next round, and creating the next topic. I like this! I like it a lot. It makes this new league something that we can all (metaphorically) have ownership of. Granted I don't really know how it's all going to work. How do you claim to be the first to post? Oh well...Splitting hairs. For now, let's just all enjoy it.

So the first Round Robin Challenge is Christmas Wishes Vs. Christmas Reality. While I know the woes of receiving a gift that wasn't necessarily wanted, I am happy to be able to say that one of the greatest things about my significant other is that she always goes above and beyond to put under the tree what I truly want. This year was no different.

Mrs. Claus had two large boxes under the tree for me this year, and they didn't disappoint. As I tore the paper off the boxes she said my face lit up like a little boy when I saw what was inside...

Most of you know what they are. For the rest of you, it's the vintage Castle Grayskull and Snake Mountain playsets.

As a kid I never had Snake Mountain, but I always wanted one. As for Castle Grayskull, I had one and played with it pretty much daily. To have these both in my He-Man collection is a dream come true! These are both 100% complete, and the microphone for Snake Mountain works. Pure awesome!

I don't have them set up just yet with all my figures. I'm planning on doing so - Once I move them to a more spacious area in the house. I'll add more photos once I do that. While I don't have all the vehicles and accessories from the vintage MotU line, I do have all the five inch figures, so these will be great to play with. Yeah, that's right...I'm going to play with them - Even at my age.

I hate to boast, but like I said above, my Christmas wishes typically become a reality. I truly am lucky to have that special someone in my life that always makes sure I get what I want for Christmas and birthdays. I am truly blessed to have someone that knows me so well, and goes above and beyond for me.

While I wish my other fellow bloggers had as great a Christmas as I did, not everyone got what was on their list.

2 Minute Toy Break shows us the playset he wanted, but didn't get.
Alexis wished for friends, and hopefully found in her comment section that she had already had what she wanted.
And of course, the host of the challenge provides his own Christmas story.

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Remembering Carrie Fisher with Princess Leia (Hot Toys)

What a sad day this is for fans of Carrie Fisher. Whether it's for her work in films such as Star Wars, Blues Brothers, When Harry Met Sally, and so many more, or her famous books such as Postcards From the Edge, Wishful Drinking, and like her films, so many more, one thing is for certain - Carrie Fisher will be missed.

As many of you know, Carrie Fisher passed away at age 60 today of a heart attack. The news was shocking to fans across the globe who had just recently heard that she was in stable condition after a medical emergency just days earlier. When all seemed to be righting itself, tragedy loomed its ugly head.

Though we will miss her deeply as the Princess of a galaxy far, far away, we can take with us some solace that she will forever be immortalized on film, paper, and even plastic. Though she is gone from this Earth, we will always have a part of her with us.

We'd like to take this moment to remember Ms. Fisher with a look at one of the best renditions of her we've ever seen - Hot Toys 2016 Princess Leia. The "doll" was released in 2016, and much like the many Hot Toys products captures the look of both Carrie Fisher and Princess Leia to a "T". It'd definitely an item we recommend to any fan of Ms. Fisher or Star Wars.

No, we know that no toy will ever replace having the real Carrie Fisher in our world. Nor would we even suggest it possible. Carrie Fisher will forever be missed.

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Monday, December 26, 2016

J.J. Armes (AKA Jay J. Armes) (Ideal)

J.J. Armes (AKA Jay J Armes)

Private Investigator, black belt in karate, bionic hands, television actor and book author - Jay J. Armes! Sounds like a pretty fascinating character, huh? Well, sit down for this one - He's a real person too.

J.J. Armes from the 1976 toy line from Ideal, is a real life American born in El Paso, Texas. At the age of eleven, he and his friend Dick Caples broke into a Texas & Pacific Railroad section house where they stole railway torpedoes. This day would be life changing for Armes in many ways.

When Armes rubbed two of the railway torpedoes together, they detonated mangling both of his hands. After being transported to a hospital, both his hands were amputated. Though it is not specified when he received his prosthetic limbs, it is safe to say that they certainly don't hinder him. In fact, they may have been what pushed him to become the man he is today.

Probably most notable in his numerous career hats is his own Private Investigator firm - The Investigators, which he founded in 1978. This included his launching of The Investigators Security Course which was designed as a mobile patrol and security service. Mr. Armes also professes himself to be the greatest Private Investigator in the world.

We're not to sure how the line came about. It might have been the publishing of his book, Jay J. Armes, Investigator in 1976. It could have been that the stars just aligned that day. Whatever it was that actually turned Ideal's collective heads towards the man, the end result was the short lived J.J. Armes doll and Mobile Investigation Unit playset that same year.

While we're not sure how popular the line was back in the 70's, these days the figure is rather valuable. Prices range from $20.00 to $40.00 for loose dolls - higher end prices being for those complete with the accessories and clothing. Ones in the box can sell for around $60.00 for low end condition, with mint packaging selling for upwards of $180.00.

Though the Mobile Investigation Unit isn't all that common, it doesn't sell often either. This is most likely due to sellers asking far too much than people are willing to pay. The average asking price for a loose one is around $60.00 to $65.00.

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Monday, December 19, 2016

Left 4 Dead (NECA)

Left 4 Dead

Valve is definitely a company known for producing quality titles. They don't release many, and thankfully so as this allows them to deliver what many consider to be perfect games. Left 4 Dead is no exception to the rule. It offers players 4-player co-op online, as well as versus modes while balancing all of this finely in a survival horror setting. With heavy focus on cooperative play and massive replay value, it's no wonder that the title quickly became such a critical success in the gaming world.

With such high praise for the game, it's disappointing that NECA's action figure line never really took off. Some could say that part of this blame would fall on NECA for not really trying. Unlike most action figure lines that launch with a strong lineup of characters - I.E. main characters, NECA released the Boomer and Smoker "zombies"...And then nothing else. Not even at the time of its launch was there any word that any other characters were on the horizon, so it's no surprise that overall the series was met with a whimper.

We can't help but feel like this was a majorly missed opportunity. Had NECA released two of the main characters alongside the Boomer and Smoker it not only would have give fans incentive to buy, but also two remaining main characters to push a second wave alongside other antagonists such as the Witch and Hunter, and even a deluxe Tank. The marketing potential seemed so obvious that we can't fathom how NECA missed this one.

This seems to be a general flaw of the company. They often times give the impression that they're so eager to launch a line that nobody at their headquarters takes the time to ask, "How can we do this right?" The company is notorious for launching lines that feel abandoned before they even start.

We won't deny that the two characters produced aren't spectacular in terms of sculpt, paint and overall design. In those departments, quite frankly, they're fantastic. Which only makes it more of a shame that this is all we got. There was so much appeal and draw for this series based on how popular the game franchise is that it's really disappointing to see how this line fizzled so fast.

Though we're sure the license has long since expired, if NECA would open their eyes they would see that there is still a lot of potential for Left 4 Dead figures. This is obvious by how the Boomer and Smoker sell for upwards of $35.00 to $40.00 a piece. We often wonder why toy manufacturers in general don't have a focus group that analyzes secondary markets for pricing to see which lines they should resurrect. We suppose if they haven't gotten it by now, they're probably not going to.

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Monday, December 12, 2016

Pop Culture League Challenge - Do Over

Today's Pop Culture League Challenge - Do Over!

Boy is this a good one. As collectors we all have those moments of shoulda, coulda, woulda, when it comes to a collectible we passed on or regrettably got rid of. Much like those collectors, I have my woes.

Yes, I am one of those children of the 80's that had them all - Thundercats, He-Man, G.I. Joe, Star Wars and more that came in my youth and went as I started my high school years. I could sit around and kick myself for those, but the fact of the matter is I didn't know any better. Who would have? So, in that regard there's not use in crying over spilled milk.

With that said, there are two moments in my life that I truly regret, and would love a do over.

The first was many, many years ago. I couldn't have been more than three or four years old. My brother and sister were standing outside talking to another kid, and said kid mentioned his love for Star Wars. Well, even as a three year old I had a passion for the films, toys, and...Well, everything that said Star Wars on it.

I immediately ran into the house and grabbed my dad's vinyl of the soundtrack which he had let me listen to at will. As I stepped outside on our elevated stoop to show the kid the album, it happened. The second vinyl, aka side 3 and 4 slipped from the sleeve, and bounced down the stairs, cracking on its way.

I was horrified - Clearly, since I still remember this event to this day. How was I going to tell my dad? Furthermore, and more importantly. How was I going to listen to the full soundtrack ever again?

I'm sure I got my hide tanned that day, but I can't honestly remember. The sheer fact that I broke the record was traumatizing enough to retain for the next 30+ years.

Now we fast forward to my teen years.

I was big into comic books. BIG! I had about ten long boxes during my high school years, and was in no interest in slowing down my habit any time soon.

My monthly chores garnered me an allowance just big enough to get a monthly subscription box of my favorite comics from my local comic shop, the now defunct Fantasy Five and Dime. I remember many a times going there and begging my dad to let me spend just two more dollars on the month's current hot title that I normally wouldn't read. Sometimes he gave in, but usually not.

It was during this time frame that my dad told me a co-worker had a box of comics in her attic that her son no longer wanted, and he asked if I was interested in doing some extra household chores to get it. At $50.00 it was going to take me months to earn that kind of cash, but yeah, I wanted it.

When the day came for the box to be handed over I eagerly dove into it. While the majority of it was dollar bin fodder, there were a few treasures in it. The first - Incredible Hulk number 181 - AKA the first appearance of Wolverine. Then there was...

Batman Number 2!

Granted it was in poor condition (to say the least), but it was an original Batman number 2 nonetheless.

Because my young mind had not yet grasped the history of comics I had in my possession, nor the once in a lifetime opportunity it was to even be holding such an iconic book in my hands - Not to mention the potential value, I took it with me to my local shop (as noted above). Seeing a young kid with such a vintage / collectible book in his hands, the shop owner immediately pounced.

$500.00 dollars in store credit later, I walked out thinking I had gotten the deal of a life time. Do you realize how many months of comics I could buy with this voucher in my hands? I totally came away from that deal the winner....So I thought.

The owner immediately slapped a price tag on it for twice as much, and sold it the next day.

See, my young mind was seeing quantity over quality. By the end of that $500.00 gift certificate I had a bunch of dollar bin fodder that most people wouldn't be able to sell even these days. It was the 90's after all, and comics during that period were so gimmicky that the majority of them are worthless.

I can only imagine how much someone would pay for that book today.

This story does have a happy ending though. It's not all about kicking myself for poor decisions of my youth.

Before my grandfather passed away, he was kind enough to bestow upon me his copy of the original Star Wars soundtrack on vinyl. This of course was a couple decades after the traumatizing event that left me (or my dad I guess) without a full version. Not only did I get to own one of my favorite albums again, but now it also had sentimental value attached to it.

I then went the extra step and obtained a copy of the original vinyls of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi to round out the set.

Not all tragedy's in life result in life long lessons. Sometimes we have to learn from the mistake we made, and at that point fate sometimes smiles upon us and says, "I'm going to give you another chance, but don't do it again." That's what I got with the Star Wars soundtrack.

So far only Brother Midnight has chimed in, so check the main page for any other updates.

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V For Vendetta (Quality Comics / DC Comics / NECA)

V For Vendetta
Quality Comics / DC Comics / NECA
1982 - 1985, 1988 - 1989 and 2007

Remember, remember!
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!

Now the rest that nobody seems to know....

Guy Fawkes and his companions
Did the scheme contrive,
To blow the King and Parliament
All up alive.
Threescore barrels, laid below,
To prove old England's overthrow.
But, by God's providence, him they catch,
With a dark lantern, lighting a match!
A stick and a stake
For King James's sake!
If you won't give me one,
I'll take two,
The better for me,
And the worse for you.
A rope, a rope, to hang the Pope,
A penn'orth of cheese to choke him.
A pint of beer to wash it down,
And a jolly good fire to burn him.
Holloa, boys! Holloa, boys! Make the bells ring!
Holloa, boys! Holloa, boys! God save the King!
Hip, hip, hooor-r-ray!

It's an old English folk verse which was written in 1870, and mind you the above is one of many translations that exist.

The first portion of the poem is of course widely known for its use in V for Vendetta. While we didn't personally care for the film, there are many out there that appreciate its strong political story, and themes of anarchy. The film retains a 73% on Rotten Tomatoes, which leaves it at about average.

What many people seem to not know about the movie is that it was actually a comic book series first. It was written by renowned comic author Alan Moore, and first published in the black and white pages of Warrior - A British anthology comic published by Quality Communications which ran from 1982 to 1985. Unfortunately V was one of the least popular stories in the strip based books, and when Warrior was cancelled, so to was the remainder of Moore's story.

Though many publishers tried to convince Moore to let them publish his whole story, it wouldn't be until DC Comics made an offer that this would actually happen. DC produced ten issues of the series between September 1988 and May of 1989 which also included the republishing (now in color) of the original Warrior stories. Actual new material wasn't printed until issue number 7, which is where the story would have picked up in Warrior number 27 and 28 had that series continued.

Since then, the mini series has been printed numerous times in trade paperback fashion, only boosting its popularity more. This of course led to the film in 2006, which in turn lead to the NECA toys / products in 2007.

NECA produced four items to coincide with the film's release; a seven inch figure, a twelve inch talking figure, a reproduction of V's dagger, and a 12 inch resin statue. As per NECA's typical ventures, all the items are of great quality, and each is unique in its own way. Admittedly, the talking V is fairly annoying because he doesn't so much say various phrases as he just prattles on for about a minute. Thank goodness there's an on / off button.

 7 Inch Figure 

 12 Inch Talking Figure

 Dagger Prop Replica

Resin Statue

Prices are kind of all over the map for these items. For example, the seven inch figure can sell for $40.00 one day mint in the package, and then $60.00 a few days later. The resin statue has been known to sell for as much as $150.00, and then not sell at all when listed for half that, yet in the same condition. These fluctuations of prices continue on for the rest of the items as well. There really is no rhyme or reason to it. Suffice to say that patience could garner you them all at a fairly cheap price, or really high if you're not.

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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Pop Culture League Challenge - Space Marines

I almost sat this week's Pop Culture League Challenge out because I wasn't able to compile my original post that I had in mind. For the record, that was Galoob's Starship Troopers line. Man that's a tough line to collect, but eventually we'll have it here. Just not today.

As I sat and pouted over the above, I decided, "I should just play a video game, and relax as opposed to stressing." That's when I thumbed through my PC drive, and settled on the original classic shooter that helped start it all...id Software's Doom.

As I fired up the game it hit me almost instantly. "Doom Guy!" The OG of space marines. Unfortunately while the idea was heading in the right direction, Doom Guy hasn't exactly had many toys produced based on him. In fact, Funko's recent Pop line may be the only ones.

That's when the second thought hit me.

Despite its lack of toys, Doom has had some incredible expansions in the franchise that go beyond the fantastic games - and no, I'm not referring to that awful film from 2005 starring The Rock. I'm talking about the anthology of books from writers Dafydd ab Hugh and Brad Linaweaver released between 1995 and 1996. I know, right...Who? They're not the most renowned writers in literature.

I remember first getting these books in the late 90's / early 2000's - Right around the time I got the Resident Evil novels by S.D. Perry (also a fantastic read). However, it wouldn't be until years later that I got around to reading them (the Doom books that is).

It was at this time that I realized what I had been missing - Even though it was sitting fifty feet away from me on my bookshelf. The stories fleshed out Doom Guy so vastly, and also introduced us to him by name for the first time - Flynn Taggart. Even the titles of the books were taken directly out of the original and sequel games.

The books read like you were literally playing the game, which to some would be considered dumbed down literature. However, for fans of the classic shooter series, this is only an added perk. You can literally visualize the corridors and doors, and this only helps to immerse you in the story all the more. I don't want to spoil the story / plot beyond that for anyone that is considering reading these.

If you've not read the series, and are a fan of the Doom games, I highly recommend that you check them out. You can still get them for cover price from most second hand sellers - Just be careful of the ones that are trying to get three to four times that price. While the books are out of print, they're far from scarce.

Other's have chimed in with their posts;

Brother Midnight talks Aliens.
Mr Smiths Plastic Bubble talks about a couple things - One of which is also a book.
Alexis provides her all star line-up team.

For the rest that come about, check out the main page.

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Monday, December 5, 2016

Disney Animated Classic Movie Posters (Disney)

Today would have been Walt Disney's 115th birthday were he to still be with us - Which he is if you believe the urban legend that he's cryogenically (apparently not a real word) frozen somewhere underneath Disneyland. In celebration of the day, we've compiled all the posters from the famous library of Disney Animated Classics.

Mind you, this list is heavily disputed among Disney fans. Go to one web site, and you'll see a list of 52 movies. Head to another, and that person will profess there are 58, and so on, and so on. We'd be lying if we said that we honestly knew which list was right. Suffice to say, ours comes from IMDB - Which like all the others is also disputed in the comments section. We're sure if someone finds this post online that it too will be disputed.

Since we're going chronologically, it's fairly safe to say that the list is accurate from Snow White, which was Disney's first animated classic film, through The Aristocats, which was the last classic to be approved by Disney prior to his death. From there, all bets are off. However, we're fairly positive that the list is accurate at least up until 1999's Fantasia 2000. It seems at this point is where most lists are disputed. Some claim Dinosaurs is a Disney Animated Classic, while others swear it isn't....We don't honestly care know. Suffice to say if you like the movie, and want to consider it one - Knock yourself out.

So, for what it's worth, here's what we have - Again, based on IMDB;

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)*Pinocchio (1940)

Fantasia (1940)*Dumbo (1941)

Bambi (1942)*Saludos Amigos (1942)

The Three Caballeros (1944)*Make Mine Music! (1946)

We, like all other Disney fans out there have our favorites, and our dislikes.The 1942 period beginning with Saludos Amigos, and leading through the 1948 released Melody Time definitely falls under the dislikes category. These films, while a fine piece of animation (and live action), simply don't hold up well for us in terms of general story telling. They rely too heavily on skits, and music to drive the films. More importantly - They're just so boring - Again, personally speaking.

Fun and Fancy Free (1947)*Melody Time (1948)

Though it's true that The Adventures of Ichabod and Mister Toad continues the tradition of building a film around skits, we actually really enjoy this one. Both main features of the film are strongly written, and are simply fun to watch. Fortunately Disney opted to return to fairy tales, and full length stories with its following entry, 1950's Cinderella.

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mister Toad (1949)*Cinderella (1950)

Alice in Wonderland (1951)*Peter Pan (1953)

Here's a fun bit of history for you. Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland is actually in public domain. Yep, if you want to create your own Wonderland story, and ship it off to the local printing press, or big screen, you're in your legal rights to do so. Neat!

Lady and the Tramp (1955)*Sleeping Beauty (1959)

One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961)*The Sword and the Stone (1963)

The Jungle Book and The Aristocats would be the last two films personally approved by Walt Disney. Walt passed away of lung cancer in 1966 at the age of 65 - A result of smoking pipes and unfiltered cigarettes for decades. Though it's true that Walt wouldn't be with us today as he would have been well over a hundred years old, it would have been amazing to see the direction he took the company had he stuck around for a few more decades - Not that we didn't get great films in his absence (Our personal favorite came out in 1977 starring a now famous yellow bear).

The Jungle Book (1967)*The Aristocats (1970)

Robin Hood (1973)*The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

The Rescuers (1977)*The Fox and the Hound (1981)

The 1980's brought with it a new style of Disney film - The beginning of the computer age. The Black Cauldron is noted for being not only the first Disney Animated Classic to incorporate computer graphics, but also the first to be rated PG, and have no songs sung by anyone. It's a classic unto itself, but definitely threw parents for a loop when it debuted in 1985. Let's just say it wasn't the Disney film many people were expecting.

The Black Cauldron (1985)*The Great Mouse Detective (1986)

Oliver and Company (1988)*The Little Mermaid (1989)

The Rescuers Down Under (1990)*Beauty and the Beast (1991)

The Rescuers Down Under is the first and only sequel to be allowed into the Disney Animated Classic lineup. All others to date have either been direct to video or made for TV under the Disney Movie Toons emblem.

Aladdin (1992)*The Lion King (1994)

Pocahontas (1995)*The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)

Hercules (1997)*Mulan (1998)

Tarzan (1999)*Fantasia 2000 (1999)

Not actually released in 2000, but rather December of 1999, Fantasia 2000 was a boast from Disney to remaster the original while adding in sequences that were intended for the original 1940's released film. It included new segues featuring the likes of Steve Martin, Angela Lansbury, Penn & Teller, James Earl Jones and more. Its biggest feature was that it was being presented in IMAX theaters. To many Disney purists, Fantasia 2000 ended up being what the Special Editions of Star Wars are to many - A horrible nightmare.

Now we come to that highly controversial Dinosaur from 2000. Mind you, it's not controversial for the film itself, but rather the point in Disney Animated Classic film history where the arguments of whether or not the various films belong in the lineup or not. We don't honestly know, so let the arguments begin in the comment section.

Dinosaur (2000)*The Emperor's New Groove (2000)

Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)*Lilo & Stitch (2002)

Treasure Planet (2002)*Brother Bear (2003)

Home on the Range (2004)*Chicken Little (2005)

Meet the Robinson (2007)*Bolt (2008)

With three films in a row strictly focusing on computer animation, the world of traditional animation seemed bleak to return. That was until Disney announced The Princess and the Frog. Not only did this continue the popular hand animated style, but also introduced fans to its first non-white princess.

The Princess and the Frog (2009)*Tangled (2010)

Winne the Pooh (2013)*Wreck It Ralph (2012)

Sadly it was a short live victory as Disney would later gut its hand animation department in 2013, ceasing any plans to continue in the "outdated" style. Computers are simply faster, easier, and cost less.

Frozen (2013)*Big Hero 6 (2014)

Zootopia (2016)*Moana (2016)

Disney has announced two projects in the works which are speculated to be a part of the Disney Animated Classic cannon - Moana (2016) and Gigantic (2018). These films keep in time with the computer animated features we have been receiving over the past few years, and it's most likely safe to say that this is the way it will be until the next best thing in animation is developed.

Gigantic (2018)

As so many Disney films have said in the past, this is "The End". We hope that you enjoyed this look at all these classic posters. Whether or not they truly do fall into the Disney Animated Classic lineup is another question - One we're sure will be debated for years to come.

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