Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Retro Spins: Nu Shooz - Poolside



Nu Shooz
Poolside
1986

Despite two prior albums, Can't Turn it Off (1982) and Tha's Right (1984), Nu Shooz didn't have much success until their third album, Poolside (1986). It featured the bands most successful hits to date, I Can't Wait (not to be confused with Stevie Nick's song of the same name released in 1985), Point of No Return (not to be confused with the same titled song from Expose released in 1987) and Don't Let Me Be the One.

I Can't Wait has an interesting history to it. The song originally appeared on the band's 1984 album Tha's Right. Poolside's version is actually a remix the band produced while overseas. While the remixed (and more widely known) version retains the integrity of the original '84 version, it incorporates and features the memorable bouncing synthesized vocals heard predominantly throughout the track.

Overall the album plays out well. It's got a fun synth pop style to it and makes you want to tap your feet to track after track. There's actually not anything on the album I would label as "bad". However, beyond the hits, there's also nothing really memorable. The hits are hits for a reason and quite honestly you don't really need anything beyond those. As a whole, it didn't leave me with the sense of, "I've got to hear more from this band." More so, "Thanks for the hits, take care of yourself now." Cause you know, you have to at least wish people well.

Nu Shooz released one final album in the 80's (Told U So 1988) and then disappeared until 2010 when their new album Pandora's Box was released. Since then they've released two additional album. Unfortunately, none of their albums before or after 1986's Poolside garnered any hits for the band.

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Monday, April 29, 2019

Return of the Jedi Widevision (Topps)



Return of the Jedi Widevision
Topps
1996

Alright, let's do this. I think at this point you readers knew this was coming. I hit A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back so let's wrap it up with Topps Star Wars Widevision Return of the Jedi.

Taking a page from the prior two series, the set once again got advertised via promotional cards. However, one stood out of the bunch in this lot of seven cards. If you look at the photo below, the top right card doesn't state, "Coming this winter," as the others do. Instead, it is the regular card from the series with the only difference being the "P" number on the back and the back itself which advertises the series. It's so unique in terms of the other promo cards that it is often times missed by collectors who mistake it for a random loose base card.

Promo Cards

Promo Cards

This time around, Topps produced a promotional poster as well. Much like the promo cards, there are several collectors out there who "need" this item in order to consider their collection to be complete.

Promo Poster

Once again there are 144 cards to collect in the base series and each of them fits together meticulously to tell the full story of the film.

Base Set

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The chromium chase cards return with more of that wonderful art from Ralph McQuarrie.

Chrome Chase Cards

Chrome Chase Cards

Chrome Chase Cards

Topps once again encourages collectors to buy multiple boxes and / or cases in order to get a complete set of box topper mini posters. However, considering it's going to take you a few boxes to pull all those beautiful chromium cards, it may be well worth it.

Box Topper Mini Posters

Box Topper Mini Posters

Box Topper Mini Posters

For me, this was it for the Widevision series of cards. For starters, I never expected it to become as popular as it did that it would spawn sets not only for all the Prequel films, but also the Special Edition Trilogy. It blossomed into too much. Especially when they began making hobby and retail sets. It was difficult enough to track down the Original Trilogy sets with all chases, promos and posters.

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Sunday, April 28, 2019

Wrapping Up A Five Year Vacation To Gotham City



This week brought an end to my wonderful vacation in Gotham City, meeting the likes of Penguin, Riddler, Selina Kyle, Jim Gordon, Harvey Bullock, Bane and a slew of other faces which came and went, then came again, and possibly went again over the course of five years.

When Gotham first aired in September of 2014, I admittedly wasn't all that interested in the show. I felt like they were taking established characters, and implanting them into a time before they were interesting. Two bit thugs, if nothing else. I actually stopped watching after just a few episodes, and went about my life. I called it, "Just another cop drama, but this time set in Gotham."

On a night of boredom, I was surfing through Netflix's streaming material, and came across season one and two of Gotham. I was just enough in the right mood to try it again that I fired up the first episode. Twenty-two binged episodes later, I was jumping into season two. My favorite character was easily Mad Hatter, as portrayed by Benedict Samuel. He nailed it, and stole every show he was in.

Season three was currently airing, and I waited impatiently for it to appear on Netflix. At this point, I was hooked. The zigs and zags that each episode took kept me on the edge of my seat, and the new lore of the characters equally invested me. What was Gotham's take on Joker or Mr. Freeze? How will other characters such as Ra's Al Ghul and Dr. Strange (not to be confused with Marvel's character of the same name) be introduced? With each passing episode these answers came without disappointment.

Of course, with me currently catching up on season three via streaming, that meant season four was passing me by. Fortunately by this point, I had also gotten Hulu. Immediately upon finishing up season three, I jumped straight into four. As I was catching up on episodes, I heard the terrible news. Season five would be the last, and the show would be wrapped up.

Well, as of today, I've finished watching the show, and I've go t to say, it was a pretty lackluster ending. The finale felt shorter than the rest of the series, and really didn't serve much purpose.

One of the things I enjoyed the most about the show as a whole was that it constantly kept me in suspense, guess as to what would happen next. Meanwhile, "...The Beginning", as the final episode was entitled, felt all to predictable. Plot points were seen from miles away, and while it was fun to see the villains being introduced to Batman from afar, the show really didn't offer much.

Within the first fifteen minutes we're told five times that ten years have passed. However, one really has to suspend disbelief on this one. None of the characters look like they've aged a day. Well, with the exception of Selina Kyle, thanks to a new actress stepping in to play the older version of the character. Quite frankly, I didn't buy it, and the weight of the episode crumbled on that alone. By the third or fourth time hearing, "It's been ten years," I looked at my girlfriend and said, "It sounds like they're trying to convince themselves more than us that it's been a decade."

Overall, it wasn't a climactic ending to a series which delivered so much over the course of five years. It was simply just fan service to say, "Hey, thanks for watching. Here's Batman for all of your time invested." But, here's the thing. After five years, I was invested in the characters, and I didn't necessarily need Batman to wrap things up for me. Instead, I would have preferred seeing a finale surrounding the characters they built for half a decade. Let's see Penguin rise from the ashes of Gotham and become a crime lord again. Let's see Riddler stump Gordon with his first riddle. Heck, let's see Lee removed from the picture, and re-establish Jim and Barbra as a couple.

This show had so much potential to go out with a bang, and instead it left me feeling like I was watching a two part episode that got cancelled before the second could air. Look, we all know that the future of Gotham was Batman. We didn't need this conveniently wrapped up in a bow for us. But, I suppose if they didn't, then the other half of the fans would be just as upset. No win situation I suppose...

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Masters Of The Universe Movie Posters



Happy Masters Of The Universe Day!

Say what you will about the Canon Films flop. Personally, I really enjoyed it as a kid, and as an adult, I still watch it here and there. Granted, not often.

This year, I thought I'd ring in Masters Of The Universe Day with a look at the various posters which were produced in the USA and other English speaking countries to promote the film. Some are better than others, but all of them capture the spirit of the film.












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