Retro Spins: Purple Rain



Is it a studio album? Is it a soundtrack? Is it both? I don't know, but it's shear perfection!

Take a richly-human story of survival and triumph, a now soundtrack by some of the hottest bands around and the startling, brooding presence of 24-year old rock superstar Prince - the man who lived the music - and you've got Purple Rain, which according to Rolling Stone, "may be the smartest, most spiritually ambitions rock-'n'-roll movie ever made."

This is the passionate behind-the-scenes stuff that rock-'n'-roll dreams are made of, a pulsating, slice-of-rock semi-autobiographical film starring Prince as "The Kid", a Minneapolis club musician known for his lightning guitar riffs and flash-fire vocals. As alienated as he is talented, The Kid struggles with both a tumultuous home-life and his own smoldering anger while taking refuge in his music and his steamy love for sultry Apollonia Kotero (lead singer of the camisole-chic Apollonia 6).

The turbulent, gutsy film sizzles, seethes and rocks in a way few rock films ever have. Hot-blooded Prince and his band The Revolution give electrifying performances of songs like the exhilarating "Let's Go Crazy", "I Would Die 4 U', the plaintive classic "When Doves Cry" and, of course, "Purple Rain" and other hits from the best-selling Warner Bros. Records soundtrack album of the same name.

Hailed by Newsweek as "the new Prince of Hollywood" PRINCE and PURPLE RAIN will reign over rockdom for some time to come. - Back cover of the original VHS

Well, I guess, based on the above, it's a soundtrack.

Long winded back covers of VHS tapes aside, I have to say, Purple Rain, the album, is spectacular. From start to finish, for me, there's not a bad song among the nine tracks. It's woven together as a true masterpiece of my lifetime, and stands out as one of the very few epics I've ever heard. It's the album that for many, myself included, turned attention towards Prince, serving as a segue into his music and massive discography to come throughout future decades.

I'd list out all of my favorite tracks, but quite frankly I'd just be listing out all nine from the entire album.

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Star Trek Electronic Phaser Guns



Star Trek Electronic Phaser Guns
South Bend
1979

It's the first toy to utilize infrared technology, and it just so happens to also be a Star Trek product. Before there was the Nintendo Zapper, Lazer Tag or Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future, there was Star Trek Electronic Phaser Guns.

Much like Lazer Tag, the object was to shoot at another live player. However, rather than aim for a target disc on their chest, you had to instead disable the other player's phaser with a well placed shot. This was thanks to each gun having a beam emitter and receiver, alleviating the need for any further devices. It also made the game a bit more challenging. 

The set was produced in 1979 by South Bend, a company which actually got its start by producing croquet mallets and balls back in 1874. It continued to thrive in the doll accessory business with items such as carriages, wagons, rocking horses and other wood based toys throughout the latter 1800's, becoming most noted for its "Willow" brand. In 1960 the company became a wholly owned subsidiary of Playskool, which was then obtained by Milton Bradley in 1968.

South Bend was a family company which was the home of upwards of 400 employees, some of which were second and third generation workers.  Their story ends with a sad tale of what happens when you export everything overseas for manufacturing. By the 1980's, the company was suffering from the cheaper products which were being produced and shipped to the USA from abroad. South Bend prided itself on American made, quality toys, but business was business to Milton Bradley and dimes were dimes. They decided it was time to cease all production and close the doors in 1985.

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Comic Book Artist and / or Illustrator Wanted




I'm seeking a highly detailed digital comic book artist for a potentially long-term commitment and joint venture partnership for a comic book series planned for submission to Image Comics for consideration of publication.

Artistic skills should be tailored towards fantasy / adventure / steampunk, with the ability to draw characters of all ages, shapes, sizes and ethnicity, as well as, vehicles and structures. The appropriate candidate will be responsible for the full completion of each page, layout, pencils, inking, coloring (if applicable) and lettering. Artist must be efficient enough to ultimately be able to turn over a minimum of one fully completed page per day.

Candidate must have, and be efficient with, a digital drawing software and hardware which supports lossless quality PDF files. Drawing software must also support and have industry standard comic book layouts for use. Support of ePub, CBR and CBZ file formats are a plus, but not required at this time.

Only those who can and will dedicate a high level of commitment to a long-term project and potential life changing opportunity should apply. Your submission portfolio should include three (3) fully completed comic book pages which show detailed and consistent characters, vehicles and backgrounds from multiple angles, poses and perspectives, as well as, display a cohesive ability to tell a story from panel to panel.

Additionally, your submission should include two (2) steampunk style vehicles of your own design (one air based and one land based) and four (4) characters in this same fashion – one (1) male adult, one (1) male child, one (1) female adult and one (1) female child. Be as detailed as possible to showcase your fullest abilities.

Please include your first and last name, e-mail address and phone number on each submitted page.

If selected for this project, candidate not only agrees to provide the necessary submittals for the initial submission process to Image Comics, but also to be the artist on the entire project if / when selected for publication. Because this opportunity is currently for the initial submission package, no fees will be paid up front. The objective is to find a creative partner and collaborator who is interest in pursuing this project through to fruition and completion. In the event of publication, the artist would receive a 40% split of royalties received per issue, after all publication and associated fees are collected and paid.

Artist will be required to sign a contract, so all interested persons must be over the age of eighteen (18).

Please leave a comment with your e-mail address if you're interested in inquiring further. Your information will not be published.

Reading Spider-Man: The Amazing Spider-Man 11



Title: The Amazing Spider-Man
Issue Number: 11
Release Date: April 1964

Highlights
  • Doctor Octopus returns
  • Spider-Man invents and uses his first spider tracker
  • Peter Parker wants to tell Betty Brant he's Spider-Man
  • However, when Bennett Brant takes a bullet to the chest when Spider-Man and Blackie are fighting and dies, Betty shouts our hero telling him how much she hates him
  • Try as he might, Spider-Man still doesn't know how to beat Doctor Octopus
    Low Points
    • At this point in time of the Spider-Man series, Marvel doesn't seem to really know what to do with Doctor Octopus as a villain, regulating him to breaking Blackie out of prison for money
    • Really? The guy's name is Blackie?
    • We finally learn Betty Brant's secret and it's not worth the hype built up over the prior issues
    Oddities
    • Betty Brant's secret is that her brother owes a gambling debt to a mobster...who's in prison...and he's the attorney for...Huh? Just leave him in prison and say, "Have a nice day!"
    • Doctor Octopus betrays Blackie in the end to take the money he was already going to get...plus a boat?
    Rating (based on a 1 through 5 Stans grading system)


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    Review: Super Impulse World's Smallest G.I. Joe



    I talked about Super Impulse's World's Smallest G.I. Joe figures originally in my post from last week, and was able to finally track down a set of my own. Let me tell you, if the pictures were as exciting for you as they were for me, it was nothing compared to actually holding them in my hands.

    These tiny Joes are incredibly awesome! They burst with nostalgia and fun. The detail to attention which was given to these clearly displays a labor of love and respect of the original 1980's Hasbro line. It's amazing how much effort went into such little figures which stand no higher than 1 1/4 inch.

    For now, there are only three - Duke, Roadblock and Snake-Eyes, all based on their original V1 iterations. Of course, I'd be lying if I said my fingers weren't crossed tightly with the anticipation for more. I'd be ecstatic if Super Impulse released the entire line of 80's Joes in Smallest fashion. I'd love to display them all in front of their 3 3/4 counterpart in my toy room.


    Each figure comes sealed in a plastic bubble and features all of that great artwork you're familiar with from the vintage line at the bottom of the package.


    It's because of this that it was actually very difficult for me to open these. I was torn between my desire to keep the plastic packages intact for display and my fascination with the even smaller cardback inside.


    As you know, I'm a big fan of opening my toys, and because of this, that's exactly what I ended up doing - Almost immediately. The urge was just too great.


    Ever held three carded G.I. Joe figures in the palm of your hand? You can with these.


    As mentioned in my prior post about these, the cardbacks are actually plastic with acrylic bubbles. This not only makes them durable, but also gives them the ability to stand up straight on their own. Another convenient and well thought out inclusion is the clasped door on the back which give you access to the figures inside, as well as, their accessories. While I took a look, I didn't actually end up removing any of the contents from their packages. I didn't want to risk losing them.


    All of the figures come with a nice assortment of items, but I'd be lying if I said they were all accurate to the original releases. For the most part they are, but there are some differences. For example, Duke's backpack is actually Dusty's and he's missing his binoculars. However, said binoculars can be found packed in with Snake-Eyes. As for Roadblock, his gun tripod doesn't attach to his backpack like it does with the 3 3/4 version. These are minor flaws, and don't detract from the overall enjoyment of the figures.


    Another minor grumble is the artwork on the card for Duke. It's unfortunate that this is updated to that of the G.I. Joe Resolute line. It's also odd because Super Impulse clearly had access to the original artwork because they used it for the larger package. Fortunately, the other two match their original 80's cardbacks.


    Overall, I'm very pleased with these figures and excited of the prospect for more. I've only recently been introduced to the World's Smallest line of toys, but I can say with all certainly I'll be digging in to more. They have numerous properties which include The Transformers, My Little Pony, Barbie, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Hot Wheels, classic games and a slew of Fisher-Price's iconic toys for younger children - Just to name a few.


    I hope to review many more of these in the very near future.

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    Reading Spider-Man: The Amazing Spider-Man 10



    Title: The Amazing Spider-Man
    Issue Number: 10
    Release Date: March 1964

    Highlights
    • First appearance of The Enforcers - Big Man, Ox, Fancy Dan and Montana
    • The mysterious secret of Betty Brant continues to build and she leaves town
    • Readers discover that J. Jonah Jameson hates Spider-Man because he's jealous of him
    Low Points
    • Plays out like a poorly written Scooby-Doo episode
    • It's obvious who Big Man's secret identity is from the start, because his alter ego is the only new character in the story
    • The Enforcers are definitely nothing more than villains of the week
    Oddities
    • The Enforcer's first objective is to simply outsmart Spider-Man in public, but not defeat him or get him out of the way for good - Basically, they just want to make him look bad
    Rating (based on a 1 through 5 Stans grading system)






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    Reading Spider-Man: The Amazing Spider-Man 9



    Title: The Amazing Spider-Man
    Issue Number: 9
    Release Date: February 1964

    Highlights
    • First appearance of Electro
    • Origin of Electro
    • We learn more about Betty Brant, most importantly that she dropped out of high school and is actually a teenager (see prior Reading Spider-Man posts for my problem with that missing bit of information from past issues featuring her)
    • Betty Brant has a mysterious secret, and it makes her intriguing as a character
    Low Points
    • Overall,  not a very strong story
    • Electro is just another villain who wants to use his powers to rob people
    • Electro is beaten with water from a hose - Cliche
    Oddities
    • Spider-Man fights Electro wearing rubber shoes and gloves to negate his electricity
    Rating (based on a 1 through 5 Stans grading system)






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    Retro Spins: Kidd Video - The TV Show Hits



    Kidd Video had a short lived life as a Saturday morning cartoon from 1984 to 1985. It followed a fictional band, fronted by Kidd Video, and their journey through The Flipside - a world run by the evil Master Blaster, who initially brought the group here to be musical slaves.

    What made the show stand out among the rest of its MTV era audience was the inclusion of pop / rock songs, as well as music videos and clips within and following each episode. Additionally, it featured original songs which were performed by the actors / band members, and full fledged music videos to accompany them. Best of all, these songs were actually great tunes. So great that in fact the fictional band took off in Israel, where a record (and other merchandise) was produced.

    This record to be exact!

    Featuring all eleven original tracks from the show, this is the ultimate companion to the series - A series, which to date, has never been officially released on DVD. Sad. Still, I suppose we have the record to enjoy...well, sort of.

    As mentioned above, this record was only released in Israel, which makes it a little difficult, and somewhat expensive, to get anywhere else. Copies show up on ebay here and there, but it's going to cost you around $75.00 to $100.00. It's also typically from the same sellers, who have no interest in negotiating the price. I recall when I was first looking for this album, the seller actually told me he had no interest in lowering his asking price, and would continue to relist it until it sold for the amount he wanted. It took me a couple years of coming back around to this record before finally finding it from someone a little more reasonable - Though it was still $60.00.

    Well worth it though.

    This is a great album. Speaking as someone who watched the TV show as a kid, I couldn't honestly tell you about any of the episodes. The only thing I actually remembered from the series was the music, and I loved it as a kid (kidd?). As an adult, I can appreciate the songs on their own, and find them, actually, quite enjoyable. On par with the music of the 80's, and easily able to stand on its own.

    Quality wise, it has its moments of "issues". Mind you, this is by no means a result of the record itself, which is actually pretty crisp, but rather the production of the tracks when they were originally recorded. This is most notable when  S's are sung on a couple tracks. The mic hisses back in protest a little. Detracting, but not a deal breaker, for me anyway.

    Personal favorites from the record are, Video to Radio (the opening theme to the show), A Little TLC, Come Back to Me, You Better Run, Turn Me Up and Easy Love. A couple tracks land on the "okay" meter, such as, It's Over When the Phone Stops Ringing and We Should Be Together. I could honestly pass on the rest though. Still, eight tracks out of eleven? That's not a bad ratio.

    If you're a fan of 80's music, and looking for something a little different, then this is definitely one to try out. Of course, if you're a fan of the cartoon series, then this is a must have.

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    G.I. Joe Die-Cast Metal & And Micro Figures



    Today, I'm looking at a few G.I. Joe based lines from the 80's and "today". First, I'm starting with:

    G.I. Joe Die-Cast Metal
    Aviva
    1983

    Aviva produced a very small run of vehicles in 1983 which were based on the original wave of vehicles from Hasbro.

    There were six released in total, and each featured moving wheels and parts, such as rotating turrets. It terms of design, these metal miniatures were spot on to those of their larger plastic counterparts. Sadly, there were never released in conjunction with any miniature figures to coincide with them.

     Attack Cannon (FLAK)*Heavy Artillery Laser (HAL)

     Battle Tank (MOBAT)*Rapid Fire Motorcycle (RAM)

    Mobile Missile System (MMS)*Attack Vehicle (VAMP)

    Aviva also release a pack of three vehicles. However, these were just a multipack of the individually carded VAMP, RAM and HAL.


    It's interesting that Aviva never released a second three pack to incorporate the remaining vehicles into one package.

    G.I. Joe Micro Figures
    Hasbro
    1989

    In 1989, Hasbro ran an interesting promotion with their 3 3/4 inch line of G.I. Joe toys. They incorporated into each carded figure a miniature, or micro if you will, figurine made from flexible PVC.

    There were twenty produced in total, and the character included a vast assortment of some of the most popular figures since the beginning of the 1982 wave, all the way through 1989.

     Bazooka

     Beach Head

     Blowtorch

     B.A.T.S.

     Cobra Commander (Metal Helmet)

     Crimson Guard

     Cobra Officer

     Destro

     Duke

     Flint

     General Hawk

     Grunt

     Gung Ho

     Major Blood

     Quick Kick

     Roadblock

     Rock N' Roll (his head anyway, with Repeater's body and gun)

     Sgt. Slaughter

     Snake-Eyes

     Wet Suit

    Hopefully you noticed the poster to the left of each figure. This was a mail away premium, which offered throughout the entire promotion.

    Speaking of mail away promos, Hasbro also produced eight micro vehicles. Much like the poster, collectors could send in their request for them with the aid of two of their Flagg Points plus $7.75 With the exception of 1986 and 1989, there was a vehicle representing each year since the first 1982 wave.

    MOBAT*Persuader*APC*Warthog A.I.F.V.
    Snow Cat*Cobra H.I.S.S.*A.W.E. Striker*Vamp MK II

    Unfortunately, these vehicles were too small to incorporate the figures into.

    However, with all of this said, it leads me into what actually inspired and spawned today's post.

    G.I. Joe World's Smallest Action Figure
    Super Impulse
    2019 / 2020

    I don't normally collect modern toys, but when I saw these being talked about on the Youtube channel of formbx257.

    Super Impulse has made an entire line of various toy lines, and some of those include The Transformers, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Barbie, as well as several other novelty and nostalgic based toys. I highly recommend you check them out. If for nothing else, for how cool they are.

    Anyway, back to the point at hand.

    Super Impulse released three Worlds Smallest G.I. Joe figures.

     Duke

    Squint your eyes if you have to. These are 1 1/4 inch tall action figures which come in their own blister packs, all neatly packed inside of a plastic bubble. Now, the cards for the figures aren't actually cardboard. Instead, they're acrylic. To get the figures, and their removable accessories, out, simply open the hatch on the back and remove the contents within.

     Roadblock

    What's equally neat about these is that the miniature "cardbacks" can stand straight up on their own, making them just as fun to display in their packages. However, if you want to remove them, each figure not only has a foot peg hole, but also comes with its own clear action figure stand.

    Snake-Eyes

    While I don't know if you'll find these "everywhere", I do know you can find them, and some of the other Worlds Smallest toys, at Cracker Barrel (of all places). Yes, the restaurant. Or, better stated, their gift shop. They'll set you back around nine or ten dollars each, which is a bit high for something so small.

    I found the three I picked up on ebay and bought them as a set for around $27.00 with free shipping. The guy selling them had nine more sets as of yesterday evening.

    These things are really cool and I hope there is a plan to make more of them.

    This leads me to one last item for today.

    Cobra H.I.S.S. Tank with Lights and Sounds
    Running Press
    2014

    For those of you who own the 2014 Cobra H.I.S.S. Tank with Lights and Sounds, you may be happy to hear that the above noted figures from Super Impulse are compatible with it. However, this is probably not intentionally done. Still, it's a pleasant surprise.

    Unfortunately, this vehicle isn't as readily available as it was back in 2014, but you can still find them around here and there - If you look hard enough.

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    Reading Spider-Man: The Amazing Spider-Man 8



    Title: The Amazing Spider-Man
    Issue Number: 8
    Release Date: January 1964

    Highlights
    • The Living Brain is eluded to be able to figure out who Spider-Man is
    • Peter Parker, tired of being bullied, fights Flash Thompson in a boxing ring and beats him
    Low Points
    • Decent, but not great, story of a super smart computer which goes on a rampage
    • Secondary story in the issue shows Spider-Man acting not only as the antagonist, but also a jerk, to the Fantastic Four
    Oddities
    • No explanation is given as to why Spider-Man is acting like a jerk to the Fantastic Four, specifically to Human Torch
    Rating (based on a 1 through 5 Stans grading system)


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    Reading Spider-Man: The Amazing Spider-Man 7



    Title: The Amazing Spider-Man
    Issue Number: 7
    Release Date: December 1963

    Highlights
    • Great story featuring the return of Vulture
    • Vulture has evolved, thwarting Spider-Man's way of stopping him the first time - Which Spider-Man thinks will work just like last time
    Low Points
    • Peter Parker, High School Student, cuddles with Betty Brant, adult receptionist for The Daily Bugle
    Oddities
    • Vulture's idea for a "big score" is robbing The Daily Bugle, and not a bank
    Rating (based on a 1 through 5 Stans grading system)


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