Thursday, May 31, 2018

Painted Memories: I Am A Real American!




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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Retro Spins: White Lion - Big Game



White Lion
Big Game
1989

White Lion hit the scene in 1985, but didn't personally land on my radar until their June 1987 album Pride. Even so, I'm not taking a look at that album today, but rather their follow up to Pride, Big Game. Seeing the theme here with their albums?

The track Little Fighter was the first to chart from Big Game in June of 1989. Unfortunately, because it was in the mid 90's (number wise), it fell off the charts by the following week. White Lion wouldn't see another hit chart until September of that same year when Radar Love entered the charts. Once again this was short lived, and by the following week it too fell off the charts.

Though the album failed to find strong singles on the chart, I can say honestly it's not bad. I did take notice that White Lion has a tendency to sing a lot of songs about child abuse and in general children in bad situations. While these songs could be considered tender in nature, it doesn't make for very inspiring songs. In fact, it kind of brings you down. Fortunately these songs don't overshadow the album and you're able to find enjoyable spots.

I actually ended up transferring four of the eleven tracks over to my IPOD when it was all said and done; Goin' Home Tonight, Little Fighter, Don't Say It's Over and of course, Radar Love. Not a bad handful of songs.

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Monday, May 28, 2018

Solo Pre-Orders Already?



They don't even let movies get out of the theaters anymore, do they? Target and Best Buy have already posted their pre-orders for Solo: A Star Wars Story and boy are there a ton of different versions.

Target has a total of five different version listed for sale; none of which includes a standard or packed in DVD version. From them you can get;

2 Blu-Ray and Digital Code Combo Pack for $22.99 

4K / UHD + 2 Blu-Ray + Digital Code Combo Pack for $29.99

Target Exclusive 4K / UHD + 2 Blu-Ray + Digital Code Combo Pack with 40 Page Booklet for $32.99

Target Exclusive 2 Blu-Ray and Digital Code Combo Pack with Exclusive Millennium Falcon for $32.99

Target Exclusive 4K / UHD + 2 Blu-Ray + Digital code Combo Pack with Exclusive Millennium Falcon for $42.99

Shifting over to Best Buy you can get three different offerings (for now). It's interesting that they have a Blu-Ray / DVD combo listed and even more so interesting that there is no mention of a digital version packed in with this set. Then again, none of their versions make note of digital versions of the film, so perhaps this was just an oversight.

Blu-Ray / DVD Combo for $24.99.

4K Ultra HD + Blu-Ray Combo Pack for $29.99

Best Buy Exclusive Steelbook 4K Ultra HD + Blu-Ray Combo Pack for $34.99

Walmart has yet to make a peep about any form of exclusive. For those of you who remember my write up on that release, you know that the retail chain never bothered to announce what their exclusive version was, nor post it on their website - Even after release. Once again we may be playing it by ear. If they have an exclusive there are two speculations from this blogger what it may be; 1) a cut out of L3-37 or 2) Multiple changeable covers. If it is the latter, then hopefully much like the prior released Walmart exclusive it will contain a Blu-Ray + DVD + Digital Code Combo Pack.

No word from Disney either as to what their stores will be offering. It is however safe to assume they will stick with their norm of lithographs - A set of four to be exact. What will be interesting to see is if they release a Blu-Ray + DVD + Digital Code Combo Pack through their exclusive Disney Movie Club - Much like they did The Last Jedi. Boy was that a beast to track down through secondary markets. As much as I like collecting Star Wars, I don't exactly want to sign up for any clubs just to get it. It was bad enough when I was paying for a Costco membership back in the day to get the long box versions.

Well, there you have it (for now). Solo is on the horizon for home video and digital release. As for when that day is, well, that hasn't been announced yet. I speculate sometime in September. However, I'd be happy to be wrong with that guess if it's actually sooner. Hopefully it won't be later.

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Madballs (Star Comics / Marvel Comics)



Madballs
Star Comics / Marvel Comics
1986 - 1988

Who would have thought grotesque rubber balls would become icons of the 80's and spawn not only a (very difficult to find) toy line, but also a cartoon and comic book series? The series followed in the footsteps of Topps' Garbage Pail Kids and Wacky Packages. By this we mean went straight for the disgusting (awesome) niche.

This translated well into the realm of comic books where each character could be utilized to limitless potential - And Star Comics did just that...for ten issues.


Technically the series began as a three issue mini series. However, Star (Marvel) deemed it popular enough to continue for (at least) another seven issues. You'll notice with issue nine and ten that Marvel Comics resumed publishing. This is because in 1988 the company dissolved the Star Comics label and resumed publishing some of the more popular titles under the Marvel banner.

Fans of the series should also look to Marvel UK who published one annual.


Madballs
Lion Forge Comics
2016

As is the case with most 80's properties, an attempt was made to cash in on nostalgia when Lion Forge Comics produced an all new series in 2016. This didn't last long though and was cancelled after just four issues.


Well, that wraps up this year's Free Comic Book month salute. We'll see you next week where we return to the world of toys. What will it be? Meh....Probably something Star Wars related.

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Sunday, May 27, 2018

Solo Movie and Soundtrack Review (Non-Spoiler and Spoiler)





I took the opportunity of the three day weekend to track down the soundtrack for Solo as well as head to my local Regal Cinema to take in a viewing of the film. First, let's me delve into the movie.

Much like any of the new Disney Star Wars films I went in with zero hopes and little expectation of a payoff. To my joy and much like Rogue One, I found Solo to be far more entertaining than any of the resent episodic installments of Star Wars. Plus I got two great cups from the concession stand - They were out of the popcorn bucket...Dang.

Non-Spoiler Review

The film starts off a little rocky with some failed attempts at humor and an eye-rolling moment of Han Solo getting his name, but quickly picks up momentum from there. Viewers are treated to a ton of action and of course the fan service most people expected.

It's true, Alden Ehrenreich is no Harrison Ford. Then again, for the most part he doesn't try to be. He takes the somewhat look of the character he brings to the screen and proceeds to make the character his own. Personally, this helped to make the character believable from the get go because we didn't just have a man impersonating Han Solo. However, with that said, I do have to say hats off to Donald Glover who not only pulls off a believable look of Lando, but also the mannerisms. So perhaps with that said there was room for Ehrenereich to do a little impersonating.

Much like another reviewer said, Solo's main offering is nothing short of what most Star Wars fanatics haven't already read in various backstories for the main characters - or on Wookiepedia. However, there are some tidbits to be found here which will leave fans giggling with joy.

The movie is not only the first to really give a nod to George Lucas's Prequels, but also builds up to a sequel while setting the stage for the rumored future Kenobi movie. If I had one disappointment it was that it wraps up too quickly. While the movie takes its time getting to the end, the epilogue more so ends up feeling like a blink and you'll miss it moment. Still, the film was incredibly enjoyable and leaves me eager to take in a second (and beyond) viewing. I will most likely be making my way back to a local theater very soon.

Spoiler Review

Solo begins like any other Star Wars film, with the iconic A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away... It then deviates from the normal course and gives up a little backstory of sorts via on screen text which fades in and out with each paragraph. It's as if the Kasdan's initial intent was to give us an opening crawl, but were denied this honor bestowed only to the Episodes.

From there we immediately meet Han who is steeling a speeder and racing through the streets of Corellia to a destination we yet to know. After parking the speeder and running through a series of tunnels we meet one of the new characters and Han's love interest, Qi'Ra - Who also serves as the MacGuffin for Han's every decision.

After another escape sequence, the two are separated from each other, but only as a result of Qi'Ra being captured. This leads to the whole aforementioned MacGuffin - Han swearing to come back for her. As Han is still being chased, he goes for his only available option - Entering an Imperial recruitment center and signing up.

When asked his name by the recruiter, he responds with, "Han." When asked his clan, he responds he has nobody. This leads to the recruiter punching his name in as (queue eye rolls) Han Solo.

We then immediately cut to a war zone where Han is a boots to the ground soldier. During the battle he meets up with three more of our new characters - Who are disguised as Imperials to complete a job. Han is in tune with this and quickly picks up on the fact that Beckett, Val and Rio are no soliders of the Empire. When Han tries to blackmail his way onto the crew he finds the tables turned on him and ends up being led to the pit of "The Beast" as punishment for treason to the Empire.

"The Beast" of course ends up being Chewbacca who after another cringe worthy moment of Han speaking in gargling grunts (aka Chewbacca's native tongue of Shyriiwook) works with him to get free. They make a b-line back to the Beckett and his pals who are escaping at that moment with a ship. At the moment of seeing them, Beckett decides to take them with him - Convenient.

This leads the crew to their first job - A train heist for coaxium - a rare and expensive hyperfuel. While all starts out going well, the heist quickly goes bad when a band of marauders led by Enfys Nest arrive to try and take the fuel for themselves (or so we believe at the time). This leads to the death of Val and Rio and the loss of the shipment as it explodes into a mountain.

Beckett, Han and Chewie resolve to plead their case to the man they were working for, Vision, er...Dryden Vos. It is during this scene we find Qi'Ra has gotten off of Corellia and now "works for" Vos. The trio hatch a plan to recover pure coaxium from the spice mines of Kessel and are sent with Qi'Ra to do so.

However, they first need a ship which leads them to Lando. After a short scene of Han playing cards against his new frenemy, Lando wins the final hand, which includes a wager of his own personal ship, by cheating. Despite this, Qi'Ra and Beckett get him and L3, Lando's droid to join the crew and fly them to Kessel.

The crew head out aboard the Millennium Falcon and make their way to Kessel where their plan to steal the coaxium kicks off. Our senses are pummeled with more action, explosions and a robot coup. We then loss (sort of) another character in this battle - L3.

The coaxium is in hand, but there's only one problem. It must be kept at a low temperature or it will explode. As Lando tends to his dead friend / droid, Han and eventually Chewie take the helm of the Falcon and plot their course out of Kessel. Unfortunately, this is short lived by an Imperial blockade. With a change of direction and an improvised plan, Han and Chewie head for the maw. The outcome is of course the play out of the infamous Kessel run in 12 parsecs (or 14 if you're Rey...and a dolt).

The Falcon lands on Savareen, a planet known for being able to process coaxium into hyperfuel and begin the process as they wait for Dryden Vos to arrive. However, Enfys Nest is also there. While we sit back in our seats awaiting yet another shoot out, we instead end up with the two working together to instead give the fuel to the Rebellion.

Though Beckett says he wants no part of this, he actually ends up betraying everyone and working with Vos, giving him all the details of the plan - This is of course after a little sequel bait where he tells Han to come look for him on Tatooine to be part of a job for a big gangster (Star Wars fans know what that's all about). Han is one step ahead of him though. While everyone expects the coaxium is outside of Vos's ship with Nest, he actually brought it inside. Enfys Nest's group ambush Vos's men outside the ship and wipe them out.

Seeing an alternative, and being the only man in the room with a gun in his hands, Beckett forces Chewie to carry the coaxium out for him leaving Vos, Qi-Ra and Han in the ship. After a fight sequence, Qi-Ra ends up killing Vos and tells Han to go after Beckett and Chewie - Which he does.

This is where we get a fantastic nod to the Prequels as well as a great bit more of sequel bait. Darth Maul is alive and the head of Crimson Dawn. Qi-Ra blames the death of Vos on Beckett and is summoned to Maul's side. Maul is once again played by Ray Park and voiced by Sam Witwer. It's a fun Star Wars geek out moment and a confusing one at the same time since last we saw Maul (in film) was getting cut in half.

Back outside, Han confronts Beckett who starts lecturing Han. Rather than stand there and listen to it, Han does what all true fans of Star Wars have come to expect - He shoots first...While Beckett is in mid sentence. While Han believes all has worked out, in the distance the ship, now piloted by Qi'Ra takes off and leaves the planet.

Han and Chewie bring the hyperfuel back to Enfys Nest who takes it on behalf of the Rebellion. She also urges Han to come with them - Which he declines. Nest encourages him maybe one day he'll change his mind...Foreshadowing.

We now cut to Han and Chewie meeting up with Lando mid card game. In a hugging maneuver, Han relieves Lando of the card in his "cheating device" on his wrist (unbeknownst to Lando) and sits down to play Sabacc once again. Without his ability to cheat, Lando looses the hand to Han which includes the Millennium Falcon which Lando bet. The two fly off, the credits roll.

Solo was a great movie, but the most exciting thing I took away from it was Darth Maul appearing as the head of Crimson Dawn. This not only adds a potential for a sequel, but also paves the way for the Kenobi film. With Maul still on the loose there is a potential for him to appear in that film where we may finally get a well deserved rematch between the two - As opposed to the twenty second stare down and two second fight from the animated series, Rebels.

Let's also look at that potential for a sequel. Obviously the job for the big gangster on Tatooine is none other than Jabba the Hutt. While we of course know the outcome of that job, it would be fun to see it all unfold on screen. Why not? If they can take one sentence from the open scrawl of Episode IV and turn it into a two hour movie then why not this aspect for a sequel? I also wouldn't mind seeing a Lando film which leads up to him winning Bespin.

END SPOILERS

The Soundtrack

I drove to three stores and walked to two before I finally was able to put my hands on a copy of the soundtrack to Solo. When I finally did come across it in a Barnes and Noble it was the one and only copy the store had gotten. What the heck? Do stores really not stock CD's anymore? Target didn't have it. Walmart didn't have it. Best Buy didn't have it (two locations).

Because I listened to the soundtrack prior to seeing the film I unfortunately was not able to place the cuts to its respective film sequence. This was a bit of a downer as I always like to sit back and visualize the scenes for tracks from any soundtrack.

Overall, it honestly wasn't that good. Production wise and sound, sure, those had it where it counts. However, queues from track two, "Meet Han" continue to get reworked and overall worked into every single track from that point on. I literally felt like I was listening to the same song twenty times over and over and over. It was mind numbing.

One of the greatest aspects of John William's Star Wars score is that each song transports you to a particular planet, location or character theme. Each one is a different piece and stands out as its own special track. It's only when we get action or battle scenes that themes start to reoccur, but at the same time remain appropriate to the characters on screen.

With Solo you just don't get that. Han seems to be the only character with a distinctive theme and the end result as mentioned above is the same music over and over. It was really disappointing - Especially after all the effort I put into finding it.

I hate to say it, but I honestly would not recommend this soundtrack to anyone unless you are a die hard Star Wars fan who has to have it. There are no stand out tracks to take away from this album. The only songs I actually ended up liking were those which took from William's original scores.

So there you have it. My long winded two cents of not only the film but the soundtrack. Take from it what you will.

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Thursday, May 24, 2018

Painted Memories: Lowest Point Nothing




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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Retro Spins: Men At Work - Business As Usual



Men At Work
Business As Usual
1981

Men At Works Business As Usual (November 1981) took a little time before it charted in July of 1982 with Who Can It Be Now which worked its way up to the number two spot until starting to slip in November of that same year. However, at this point, the group had a second hit make its way to the chart - Down Under, which would become its most popular song of all time. The song would make it to the number one spot by January of 1983 where it would stay for a few consecutive weeks before starting to fall slightly before taking the number one spot again in February. The track would continue to drop through the remainder of the year, but be joined at the same time by the follow up album's single, Overkill.

When I turned on the album I immediately had a thought. Business As Usual was like listening to an Oingo Boingo album with the absence of the charm, quirkiness, fun and range of Danny Elfman's lyrics and his multi-range vocals. It wasn't terrible by any means. Unfortunately, its greatest weakness is that it's just okay.

With the exception of hits such as Who Can It Be Now, Down Under and Be Good Johnny its remaining songs really aren't all that catchy or memorable. Quite honestly too many of them sound the same as well. I couldn't tell you which was which and I literally just finished listening to it.

I'm not ready to give up on this one. I think I'm going to give it a couple more days and listen to it again to see if any of the songs (other than the obvious hits) pop out and stay in my head for more than two seconds.

Men At Work - TBD.

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Monday, May 21, 2018

The Centurions: Power Xtreme (DC Comics)



The Centurions: Power Xtreme
DC Comics
1987

I honestly don't remember much about the Centurions. I watched a few episodes here and there as a kid, but it definitely wasn't one of those, "Gotta get home and watch the next episode," type things. In fact, as a kid I only had one of the toys - Ace McCloud and the only thing I really remember about that was it had a ton of holes in it to attach accessories I kept losing.

Well, despite its lackluster appeal to me personally, I won't deny it was probably a fun toy line and cartoon for many others. It too, like so many toy lines before or after it, also spawned its own comic book series.


DC Comics produced a four issue mini series to test the waters (so to speak) to see if there would be further interest in the series to shift it to a monthly title - Such as the company had done numerous times with toy related titles. Sadly, this would be as far as the series would go...

The Centurions: Power Xtreme
London Editions Magazines
1987 - 1988

...That is unless you lived in the UK. Much like the Thundercats comics from Star, popularity was much larger in the UK for the Centurions - Well, a little bit more anyway. Enough to garner ten additional books between 1987 and 1988.


To date, these have been the last of the comic books published to feature the characters. In fact, beyond fans, there seems to be very little rumblings in the world of the Centurions these days. That's a shame. If done correctly, there is certainly enough interesting concepts around the property which could be re-visioned and revitalized into a worthwhile reboot. You know, just don't let Michael Bay do it.


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Sunday, May 20, 2018

Made A Couple Birthday Cakes



When I'm not collecting toys or CD's, I like to spend my time baking cakes and cupcakes for people. Here are a couple birthday cakes I recently made...

The bottom layer of this one is a butter cake with fresh strawberries baked into the top. The second layer is a vanilla cheesecake with more strawberries baked into the top.

The layers are separated by whipped cream which also coats the entire cake. Rainbow sprinkles surround the entire sides of the cake and it's topped with hand dipped chocolate covered strawberries.

I made this cake for a co-worker / friend who I've known for about eight years now. She celebrated her birthday in April and was happy as can be with this cake.

She shared a little with her mom and mom's boyfriend, then promptly ate the rest by herself....Would it help if I said she was pregnant?

This second cake was actually for my friend's (mentioned above) mom who celebrated her birthday just this weekend. I'm eagerly awaiting feedback as to what she thought of it. 

Her mom is a big chocolate fan, so I went all out in that regard. Both layers of this cake are triple chocolate fudge. The layers are separated by a thick layer of strawberry whipped cream which contain both fresh strawberries for texture and pure strawberry extract to drive home the flavor.

Surrounding the cake is a generous layer of chocolate ganache. This not only holds everything together, but stuffs the open area around the perimeter of the layers to securely hold them up.

The cake is "decorated" with a little whipped cream around the bottom and top with a nice pillow of it in the dead center. Along the perimeter of the top are fresh cut strawberries.

I'm eager to hear what her and her mom thought of the cake.

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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Painted Memories: A New Hope




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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

In All Things The Universe Is Balance





For every cause there is an effect. For every action a reaction. Harmony. Chaos. They both work in conjunction with each other to form a balance in the universe. There is no better way to analyze this basic principal than by the GIF below.



At a glance, this appears to be nothing short of a boy walking outside to dump a pot of water on someone's head. Or possibly it's a depantsing joke gone wrong. Look closer. Are either of these really what is going on?

Let's look at all the players involved in an event which is about to go completely wrong for almost everyone involved.
 

Player 1: Stander
Player 2: Faller
Player 3: Spiller
Player 4: Hitter
Player 5: Dog

The events which unfold all result from the actions of Player 1 who in turn causes a massive reaction. This all begins as Player 1 stands up from a bench to pet Player 5, the dog.

In doing so, Player 2 who is on the other end of the bench falls to the ground as the side of the bench where Player 1 was sitting flips upwards from the sudden loss of balanced weight.

At this time Player 3 just so happens to be walking outside with a pot of water. As Player 2 falls towards the ground, he instinctively grabs for anything he can to stop his downward momentum. This just so happens to be the shorts of Player 3. In addition to this, the bench which is now flipping upward hits the pot from Player 3's hands causing it to spill all over Player 4.

In an attempt to save his pants, Player 3 abandons the pot which completes spilling all over Player 4. Player 4 now reacts to the sudden dowsing by way of grabbing the pot and smacking Player 3 over the head with it.

Player 5 backs away avoiding the situation entirely.

The universe has completed its circle. Either that or this was an incredibly well choreographed stunt.

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Source

Star Wars Trailers, and Why I Find Them Useless



Star Wars fans in general seem to go gaga over every little two second snippet they can see of an upcoming Star Wars film. They gush over all the details in that brief moment, speculate about what it's about and hypothesize the internet up with rumor after rumor all based on nothing short of speculation. Which leads me to the conclusion that Star Wars trailers are pretty useless.

Let's take a recent film as an example. Go ahead and take a moment to watch the trailer if you will.



Watching this trailer, you get a solid understanding of what the movie is about and not only that, it gets points for being flashy and pretty. Sure, you don't know the characters in and out, who the villain is or overall how it will all come together. However, you know the world is pretty much garbage, many people prefer to spend their time in an alternate reality known as the Oasis and the creator of said place has passed away. In his wake he's left an Easter egg somewhere in the "game" and the person who finds it will not only be financially set for a lifetime, but also gain control of the place.

Great! Tells me everything I need to know about the movie to determine whether or not I want to see it.

Then there's Star Wars. Movies guarded in such high esteem secrecy that the trailers tell you little to nothing in the expectation that the name alone will make you see the film.

You can watch any trailer for any of the Star Wars films and walk away with nothing but pretty pictures. Let's look at the trailer for Solo.



Okay. What did you get from that? Someone is putting together a crew for a job. The end. You have no clue what the film is about. What the job is for. Where they're going. What the end goal is. Nothing. In essence this is a poor and pretty useless trailer set to do nothing but appeal to fans who will sit back and speculate non-stop about what they've just seen.

UPDATE - After seeing the film, turns out the trailer was also full of fancy editing - Lies if you will. He wasn't even putting a crew together for a job...

Star Wars wants you to see it because it's Star Wars. Not because it has an appealing story it wants to "sell" to movie goers. I mean at the end of the day it may be a great movie, but based on this trailer if I were to try and sell this movie to someone outside of Star Wars Fan Band Wagon the conversation would go as such.

"Hey you should see the new Solo movie."

"Why? What's it about?"

"It's about someone putting together a crew for a job!"

"What kind of job?"

"I don't know."

"So why should I see it?"

"Because it looks great!"

"What looks great about it?"

"It's got a lot of flashy scenery."

"Okay, but what is the story about?"

"Um.....Someone putting together a crew for a job."

Where are they going? What are they after? What's the end goal? Solo relies to heavily on the concept that people know the entire back story for Han Solo from various books, comics or other Star Wars films. Well what if they've never seen a Star Wars film or read a single piece of Star Wars literature?

A good trailer is one which mixes eye catching visuals to put you on the edge of your seat and a brief synopsis of the story to lay out the expectation in your mind. Without a solid combination of both of these you're left with little to get excited about...Unless you're a raving fan already...Which is who these trailers are clearly made for.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Retro Spins: Philip Bailey: Chinese Wall



Philip Bailey
Chinese Wall
1984

Philip Bailey's Chinese Wall (from October 1984) fires off with a double barrel shotgun blast of delight. The first track Photogenic Memory grabbed me so hard from the start with its catchy drum intro that I had to a buckle a seat belt for the exciting ride I was sure I was in for.

Then track two started...And it went downhill from there. The words boring, annoying and high pitched come to mind with the remainder of the tracks on the album. The only other saving grace to be found is the Phil Collins duet, Easy Lover - Which would hit the charts in November of 1984 and stay on them until March of the following year.

I even gave Walking on the Chinese Wall a second try when I read it charted in a couple weeks after Easy Lover dropped off. Hated it. I mean, hated it. Couldn't turn it off fast enough.

I do have to say I firmly believe Photogenic Memory is far superior to Easy Lover. However, the lesson learned here was that sometimes a greatest hits from Phil Collins can suffice for getting the songs you want which are featured on another artist's studio album.

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Monday, May 14, 2018

M.A.S.K. (DC Comics)



M.A.S.K. (Mini Series)
DC Comics
1985 - 1986

M.A.S.K. was one of the biggest successes for Kenner post their Star Wars franchise years. The toys combined intriguing characters with multi-function vehicles and playsets which provided hours of entertainment for kids. It didn't hurt that the line was backed by a highly popular animated series which lasted for two seasons and encompassed seventy-five episodes.

As was quickly becoming the norm for the era, toy developers were looking for marketing campaigns which allowed them to grab kids attention. Though animation was a great tool for commercials, stringent laws limited the amount of seconds a commercial could feature "cartoon" footage.

To help get around this, several big name toy companies sought out comic books as an alternative source of marketing. Pretty much every toy line from the 80's had a coinciding book through either Marvel, DC or Star Comics.


M.A.S.K. actually began its history in comic pages via three mini comics which were included in the actual packages of the toys. However, in 1985, DC Comics developed a mini series of four issues for comic book racks which ran until early 1986.

M.A.S.K.
DC Comics
1987

The mini series garnered enough popularity that DC Comics launched a monthly series in 1987.


Unfortunately, popularity dropped quickly by readers and the series was cancelled after just nine issues.


IDW attempted to revitalize M.A.S.K. in comic book for in 2011 where Matt Tracker was depicted as a police officer. However, this series never saw publication. Instead in 2016, a re-introduction / re-re-visioning of the series was produced which ran for ten issues through August 2017.

M.A.S.K. was initially slated to be a part of Hasbro's proposed cinematic universe which was in the works. However, the film got lost in the shuffle of flip flop responses from the studio (Paramount) and folks working on it who would one day say it was happening and then the next day retract and say it's not happening. As of April 2018 it is once again on the green light list. We'll see where it goes from there.

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Thursday, May 10, 2018

Painted Memories: The Bat





Please share your own thoughts, memories and stories in the comment section.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

To Survive A War, You Gotta Become War



An expert in Guerilla Warfare.


A man who's the best with guns, with knives, with his bare hands.


A man who's been  trained to ignore pain.


Ignore weather.


To live off the land.


To eat things that would make a billy goat puke.


In Vietnam his job was to dispose of enemy personnel.


To kill, period.


Win by attrition.


Now Rambo was the best.


Yes! Finally! I finally got my hands on Coleco's 1986 Rambo figure! It took me forever to track down one that had all the various accessories with it...Mainly because I ended up having to buy it in the package.

I talked the seller down quite considerably on this one because of the condition of the package. Don't let the picture fool you. The top 1/3 won't even stand up straight if you're holding it. It flops backwards. In person, it looked like it had been hit by a car and left for dead on the highway.

Fortunately for me, I didn't want the cardboard backer, so I think this turned out to be a win / win for both the seller and I. He got a fair price and I got the figure.

I think the figure got rescued just in time from it's cardboard prison too. It has an ever so slight sticky / tacky feeling to the arms and chest - Which is of course caused by the plasticizer. For those of you who have no clue what I mean, I"ll quickly explain.

As silly as it sounds, toys need to breathe. If you leave them in baggies, protector cases or even in their original bubble for excessive periods, the plastic can't breathe and when the plasticizer begins to break down, it can't escape. The end result is it clings back to the figure which is what causes the sticky layer.

If caught soon enough, you can simply soak your toy in ten parts water to one part dish soap for a few hours. In most cases this will remove the stickiness.

It's sad to think this, but unfortunately nothing last forever. Mind you, you don't have to worry about this in your lifetime if you take care of your figures as it can take anywhere from 450 to 1,000 years for plastic to completely break down.

"Isn't science fun?" - The Punisher.

Well, anyway...I'm sure most of you didn't come here today for a science lesson. So, back to Rambo.

As many readers of The Toy Box know, I have been looking to add this particular figure to my collection for quite some time now. Let's just have a look for a minute, okay?





Wonderful!

I love how it perfectly captures the look of Stallone (by 80's standards). One glance and most people can tell right off the bat who it is. There's even chest scars. Coleco did a fantastic job in this department. I also love all the great accessories he comes with.

I'm entertaining the idea of grabbing a Colonel Trautman and the white shirt, Fire-Power Rambo, but I'm honestly in no rush to do so at this time. I got the one figure I really wanted and I'm happy to just sit back and admire it for the time being.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Retro Spins: Go-Go's - Beauty and the Beat



Go-Go's
Beauty and the Beat
1981

The Go-Go's burst onto the scene in July of 1981 with their debut album Beauty and the Beat and immediately saw success as their song Our Lips Our Sealed quickly hit the charts in August of that same year and clawed its way to the top twenty's by January of the following year.

Though it would start to slip down the charts again at this point, We Got the Beat which had also made its debut on the charts in January climbed all the way to the number three spot before starting its decline.

However, by July a third Go-Go's tune was working its way up the charts - Vacation from their follow up album. This hit made it to number eight before starting to fall off the charts again.

With how popular the Go-Go's were, it pains me to say Beauty and the Beat is pretty terrible (in my own personal opinion). Sure, I'll take Our Lips Are Sealed and We Got the Beat, but that's about it. Nothing else on this album impresses me. I don't know if I'm missing something, being picky or if the Go-Go's simply aren't for me.

I tried listening to this album from start to finish and quite honestly I was so bored with it to the point where it became annoying background noise. You know the kind where you're like, "I really wish that racket would stop." The worst part about it was that with the simple click of a button I could have ceased my torment, but pushed forward to the end thinking something else on this album had to be good. Honestly, I found nothing.

Like I said above, I'll stick to the two chart toppers...Which now that I think about it, clearly I'm not the only one. I like the only two songs on the album which managed to chart. So at some point the entire country must have felt the same way I do right now.


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Monday, May 7, 2018

You Are 8 Years Old...



2 Minute Toy Break came out of nowhere today with a Round Robin Challenge which when typing a reply in his comment section got so long I figured I would just go ahead and post it here. He posed the question of what five toys would you bring with you if you were eight years old and headed for a road trip with your parents. Like I said, my comment on his page was getting rather lengthy, so I decided to go ahead and create my own response here.

As a child of parents who were always traveling for work and / or vacation (overseas and abroad in the USA), we seemed to always be on the road. Yet oddly, I never tended to bring toys with me as they were either in boxes traveling across the ocean or I just never really thought to bring any. Instead, music cassettes and Mad Libs (which usually got us in trouble) often accompanied us on trips.

However, that's not to say there were no toys involved. One of the great things about my mom was she never left us really wanting for anything. We were very privileged to own a lot of toys and with the exception of very few often got pretty much what we asked for. Yes, we were spoiled.

It was because of this spoiling that often times when on road trips we would pull into a not so local Toys R Us or tape store and be told we could pick something out for the road. Mom often used these trips to gauge our interest in things and also do preemptive Christmas / birthday shopping.

On these many trips I recall three specific items I picked up to occupy myself on the road.

Number 1: Remco Karate Kid Figures

By 1986 I was a massive fan of The Karate Kid, so when I saw Remco's line of toys hanging from pegs at a Toys R Us I knew these were the figures I wanted for the remainder of our trip to California for a round of Disney Land, Sea World and Universal Studios.

I believe I actually got quite a few of them on this particular trip and I want to say it was essentially the full run of purple carded (first wave) figures. At a minimum I know it was Daniel, Mister Miyagi, Johnny and Kreese.

Number 2: G.I. Joe Night Force Sneak Peak and Lt. Falcon

It was 1988 and though my interest in toys was dwindling fast in favor of the Nintendo Entertainment System I still enjoyed grabbing a G.I. Joe figure here and there. However, when you're on the road and your GameBoy has run its course, it's time to get back to some good old fashioned plastic action figures.

Okay, so Sneak Peek and Lt. Falcon aren't the greatest of Joes available. However, the fact remains the two kept me mildly entertained while traveling to visit my sister in college.

Number 3: Prince's Graffiti Bridge

You'll notice you have a lot of free time when riding in eight hour shifts for a week straight in a passenger seat as you travel from the West Coast to the East Coast. You'll also find yourself relatively bored out of your mind.

When we stopped at a retail store mid-way across the country in 1990 I had long since stopped playing with toys (sad, I know). As such, I needed to find other avenues of interest to keep me entertained for the next leg of the trip. After making my way to the tape section I found Prince's Graffiti Bridge and decided then and there I had to have it.

Mom wasn't big on albums with "Parental Advisory" stickers on them, so truth be told I don't know how I got away with getting this one. She may have been so tired herself that she just said, "If that's what you want."

It's amazing how many times you can run the same tape through a Walkman when you have nothing but time on your hands - Something I desperately wish I had these days.

Well, that about wraps it up for this post. No, this is not me taking the helm on any form of Round Robin Challenges, so don't look to me next week for the topic. Rather just a dump of thoughts which would have been a massive comment on Tony's site. However, I will say if the mood strikes me I may partake in others if someone posts them.

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Thundercats (Star Comics)



Thundercats
Star Comics
1985 - 1988

Thunder...

Thunder...

Thundercats. Ho!

Was it two "thunders" and a Thundercats, or three of them and then Thundercats? Getting too old to remember.

Thundercats burst onto the animated scene in 1985 and stood proudly holding its own against popular shows such as G.I. Joe, Transformers and He-Man to become an iconic cartoon, toy line and yes, even a comic books series.



Marvel Comics produced twenty-four issues of the series under its Star Comics banner. The series initially ran as a bi-monthly title (for the first eight issues) and then shifted to a monthly title.


Unfortunately you won't find any "big" names in the comic industry behind the title. Writers Ford Gilmore and John Lyman as well as artists Brett Booth, Joe Prado Al Vey and Eric Nguyen remain relatively unknown in the world of comics.


Fans looking for even more Marvel related Thundercats stories should turn their attention to the Marvel UK publications which ran for a whopping one hundred twenty-nine issues between 1987 and 1991. Marvel UK also produced several seasonal specials, trade paperbacks and hardcover annuals.


Though Thundercats went dormant for some time thereafter, by 2002 the Thundarians were back in the limelight via DC's Wildstorm banner which churned out several mini-series until 2004. However, it's worth noting none of these stories are considered cannon due to the numerous inconsistencies found within them.


Panini Comics, owners of Marvel UK would once again begin publishing Thundercats stories in 2012. These issues focused on the 2011 iterations of the characters for the very short lived animated reboot. Much like the cartoon, the comic series didn't last long either (eleven issues).

You'll notice with issues twenty-two through twenty-four that Marvel Comics assumed publishing the title. This is because in 1988 the company dissolved the Star Comics label and resumed publishing some of the more popular titles under the Marvel banner.


Thundercats can still be found periodically in print form - The most recent being the 2016 crossover with He-Man from DC Comics. Of course fans still wait for the long announced never seeming to be coming live action film.

In closing, there has been a fantastic fan made trailer for a Thundercats movie floating around for several years. I'm sure many of you have seen it already. If you haven't take a minute to check it out below.



I have to admit - I'd see this film if it were real.

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Thursday, May 3, 2018

Painted Memories: Activating the Turbo Boost





Please share your own thoughts, memories and stories in the comment section.

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Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Retro Spins: Alphaville - Forever Young



Alphaville
Forever Young
1985

The 80's brought with it a ton of one hit wonders - Many of which came from Germany. Today I'm looking at one such band - Alphaville.

With the help of MTV, the band found mild success with their hit Big in Japan which was released on their September 1985 album, Forever Young. However, it would be the album title track which would put them on the very high chart numbers, piquing for one week at 95 and disappearing the following week - Much like the band in general. Forever Young (the song) would go on to be covered numerous times over throughout the decades and to date remains the bands most popular.

The album is heavy on the synth pop from start to finish with the only detour from this being the bass guitar driven and highly discussed in forums, To Germany With Love - One of my personal favorites on the album.

Standout tracks for me have always been A Victory in Love, Big in Japan, To Germany With Love and Forever Young. Even after listening to the album in full for Retro Spins I didn't hear anything else that really stood out for me. In other words, nothing new got the honor of being sent over to the IPOD for my 80's shuffle. Oh well. I'll happily stick with the four tracks I already like.

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