Retro Spins: Freddie Mercury - Mr. Bad Guy

Freddie Mercury
Mr. Bad Guy

When I first heard Freddie Mercury's album (Mr. Bad Guy), back around 1991, it didn't impress. In fact, it was quite awful. However, with the release of The Great Pretender (1992), which featured a remixed version of the majority of the tracks, I've come to appreciate this album more. As such, the album has remained relatively "shelved" in my collection in favor of the aforementioned "updated" version.

I gave the 1985 album a listening session for today's Retro Spin, and I have to say, it's grown on me all the more in light of recent Queen activity. Keeping in mind I write these posts far in advance, and to put it into perspective, this listen comes about two weeks after the release of Bohemian Rhapsody in theaters.

It's by no means Freddie's greatest work. In fact, for me, it ranks up there with Hot Space from Queen. However, this is because of the actual music style. It's too club friendly. Heavy bass driven tracks, geared more towards dancing. Lyrically, these are some great tracks. They just aren't mixed well with the actual music style. I dare say, if Queen were to reunite and re-record the actual music, this could be one of their best albums.

With that said, there are still gems to find here. Man Made Paradise and Love Me Like There's No Tomorrow stand out as classics for me. Overall though, I would still recommend the 1992 The Great Pretender from Freddie over Mr. Bad Guy.

This is proof that sometimes going solo isn't necessarily the best career move for a singer. Sometimes you need your band mates to tell you, "No, this isn't good. Let's try it this way," or sometimes even, "Let's move on from it." As great as Freddie Mercury was (is), his work with Queen will always be far superior to that of his solo work because within the band there was that push pull mentality, which (for my money) always resulted in the best.

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Alf (Marvel Comics)

Marvel Comics
1988 - 1992 

Fans who couldn't get enough of Alf in the 80's were in luck. Not only could they tune in weekly to the sitcom, they could also enjoy the fifty issue Marvel Comic series and its three annuals.

Each issue featured a digest style layout, incorporating a handful of stories in each issue with no continuity. The majority of the series was written by Michael Gallagher, who was a veteran of Mad Magazine, as well as several other "children" based titles; Heathcliff, Sonic the Hedgehog and Archie, to name a few. It was drawn by Steve Manak and Marie Severin.

Beyond that though, there's not really much to say. Alf isn't a super hero, he doesn't have a book with deep narratives or overarching plot points. Nope. He's just a brown furry puppet who lived with the Tanner family, and longed to eat their cat, Lucky.

With that, I leave you with a cover gallery of each issue from the Marvel run.

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Retro Spins: Tommy Tutone - Tommy Tutone 2

Tommy Tutone
Tommy Tutone 2

Does Tommy Tutone have any hits other than 867-5309/Jenny? No.

Does Tommy Tutone have any good songs other than 867-5309/Jenny? Well....

The album sets the bar really high when it fires off a double barrel shotgun blast of goodness in 867-5309/Jenny. Unfortunately, from there, much like a man fumbling to reload said double barrel shotgun as intruders in his house scatter, the album becomes a bit of a mess.

The remaining ten tracks aren't necessarily bad. They're just there. Nothing very catchy. Nothing which stands out. By track seven, all I really wanted in life was for this album to be over. Still, I pushed through to the end, knowing I would never get my thirty-eight minutes of life back.

Yikes, that's awful when you think about it. I lost thirty-eight minutes of my life listening to this album...That makes me shudder.

It's records like this which contributed to many people ceasing to buy albums. People just got tired of dropping full album money on single worthy records, and I don't blame them.

For a one hit wonder song, which is readily available on multiple 80's compilations, Tommy Tutone 2 isn't really worth dropping the ten to fifteen dollar asking price on it. As far as I'm concerned, unless you're a massive Tutone fan, if those even exist, you can skip this record altogether.

I guess with that said, the answer to my second question at the top of this post is, no.

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Weird Al Yankovic (NECA)

Weird Al Yankovic

I have a love /  hate relationship with "Weird Al" Yankovic. As a kid growing up in the 80's, I loved his albums. I also loved his movie UHF. However, as I got older, and his albums continued into the 90's, I found myself on the opposite spectrum. I couldn't stand the guy anymore.

While I originally thought this new mindset was a result of me thinking he was merely a rip off artist, stealing and benefiting from other's hard work, the truth was more deeply rooted. It wasn't Al himself. Rather, it was that I simply didn't enjoy 90's music. As such, it's hard to enjoy a parody of a song when you don't exactly enjoy the original. This remains true to this day. While I find myself still enjoying his work from the 80's, I can't get into anything else from him.

What I can get behind is a classic rendition of Al from the 80's. NECA did a fantastic job of this with their 2017 release of the singer.

While the window boxed Polka Power figure came with two heads, obviously, I'm more so a fan of the version which features his 80's look on the body. It's a spot on sculpt, featuring all that awesome nostalgia of Al from his curly hair and mustache to his accordion and outrageous wardrobe style.

NECA also produced a White & Nerdy version, based on is 2006 "hit" from the album, Straight Out Of Lynwood.

I don't honestly have much more to say on the figures, so instead, I'll leave with a story.

A few years ago, I actually got the chance to see "Weird Al" live. It was an interesting show to say the least. He would sing a song, then promptly walk off stage. While gone, a large monitor would play some of his "classic" moments, such as his mock interviews and Al TV stints. He would then return in a different costume and sing the related song - Picture his fat suit while singing Fat. This rinse and repeat scenario unfolded over the course of the next couple of hours. It was a unique experience, but not one which left me saying my life was enriched or changed for the better by seeing him live.

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Order Of Battle: Hardee's Smurf Glasses

This will be an ongoing post of my Hardee's Smurf Glasses, as I obtain them. 

Obtained: November 2, 2019

Obtained: November 2, 2019

Obtained: November 2, 2019

Obtained: November 2, 2019

Obtained: November 2, 2019

Obtained: November 2, 2019

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Order Of Battle: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

This will be an ongoing post of my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toys, as I obtain them. 

Obtained: November 2, 2019

Obtained: November 2, 2019

Obtained: November 2, 2019

Obtained: November 2, 2019

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Retro Spins: David Bowie & Mick Jagger - Dancing In The Streets

David Bowie & Mick Jagger
Dancing in the Streets

It honestly shocked me to find the classic Dancing in the Streets from David Bowie and Mick Jagger was only released on vinyl in 1985. I thought for sure this would be on one of the two's solo albums, but no. Single, or nothing.

The track was recorded by the duo as a contribution to Live Aid, and was completed, video and all, in under twenty-four hours. Another interesting fact about the song, is that the band playing the music is The Jam - Another band I came to find out who my favorite song from was also only released as a single. For the sake of closing the loop, that would be their 1981 single, Absolute Beginners, which would later be used on the 1997 soundtrack for Grosse Pointe Blank.

Boy, singles everywhere!

It's sad, thanks a lot in part to Family Guy, that these days the song is considered to be one of the worst things to come from 80's music. I guess it's just one of those, you had to be there moments, where you could enjoy the tune as it was intended to be - A fun duo between two of rock's greatest musicians. And, it is fun. It's catchy. It's got a beat you could dance to, and hey, to boot, it's even just good - You know, the biggest thing that matters in the long run.

Dancing in the Streets came in multiple vinyl versions, which included, twelve inch, seven inch and forty-five.

The twelve inch featured the extended dance mix, the dub mix and edited version, aka the radio version. The seven inch featured something called the Clearoutain Mix as well as the instrumental version. The forty-five featured the original version as well as an instrumental one.

For my collection, I opted just the forty-five as I just wanted the "original" version of the song. Of course, if you're looking to get this track in crystal clear digital form, you can look to the 2007 released The Very Best of Mick Jagger or the 2002 released Best of Bowie.

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The Rolling Stones (MediCom)

The Rolling Stones

Want to spend a ton of money on a non articulated set of six inch action figures? Then look no further than MediCom's The Rolling Stone line from 2006. Sadly, you won't find the whole band present. Rather just Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.

Not being a big fan of the Stones myself, I have to be honest and admit I have no clue which era these outfits come from. Google searches all came up in vain. Then again, when you're typing things such as Mick Jagger blue outfit and Keith Richards white shirt, you don't tend to get much help.

 6" Mick Jagger

For what it's worth, the figures look good. Personally speaking though, I'm not a fan of action figures with zero articulation and frozen poses. Even if it's simply for display purposes, I think companies such as Sideshow and SH Figuarts have proven articulation to be somewhat of a necessity in this day and age. These 2006 figures get no pass in that regard.

 6" Keith Richards

Hidden behind a cardboard cover were two twelve inch versions of the same figures. The only difference was that these actually got a touch of articulation. On these, the heads swiveled, the shoulders, elbows and wrists had joints as did the top of the legs and knees. The clothing was also fabric vs. the plastic used for the six inch versions.

 12" Mike Jagger

Overall, the entire line came and went in the blink of an eye. This probably wasn't helped by the fact it was limited to exportation from Japan. This meant very few sources were available for buyers overseas. These were the kind of pieces you would walk past at places such as Otakon, and do a double take because you never knew they existed.

 12" Keith Richards

Between their overall limited nature, and their overseas distribution, these figures are not cheap. The carded six inch figures can sell for as much as eighty dollars a piece. Meanwhile, the twelve inch boxed versions are going to wallop your bank account at two hundred fifty dollars or more. To make matters worse, even with the aid of ebay, they're still incredibly scarce.

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Plastic Caskets: Why I Dislike Graded Comics

I've never been a fan of graded comics and as I get back into the realm of buying and reading books, I can't help but realize just how badly it's gotten. It seems every book pre-bronze age has been encased in a plastic casket. While dealers and niche investors seem to love it, I only stand to dislike it more and more with each book I see.

As the days progressed, and I exposes myself more and more to the world of comics again, the thought of this concept grated on my nerves more and more. The more I saw them, the more I couldn't stand them. I wanted to slap the dealers selling them and break all the books free of their slabs.

Because it continued to infuriate me, I decided to sit down and think about this horrendous and idiotic concept in hopes of getting to the root of what bothered me so much about it, writing down points as they came to me. As I sorted through my list of notes, I found that each one fell into one of three categories.

Category 1: Self Professed Experts

CGC, PXG, CBCS and all the others out there are nothing more than self professed experts and there is no "official" guideline to grading comics. When you get down to the heart of it, you're relying on the opinion of the individual grader who is looking at your book. Further, and most importantly, opinions are subjective. Typically, they're only relevant to those who agree with them.

More so a result of there being no official guideline, these people can make mistakes, and have. Was the grader tired? Did they just want to get through their mandated pile of books for the day? Was it a friend of theirs they were helping out? All of these factors weigh into the process, and all have potential positive or negative implications. You may have noticed that small crease in the spine, but either the grader didn't, or conveniently chose not to.

Which leads to another problem with this whole system. VIP customers have been rumored to get preferential treatment and leniency when grading their books. More so shocking is the allegations of books being swapped out for lesser quality ones. While I can't personally attest to any of this, I can tell you it doesn't help boost my feelings on the system of grading comics.

Category 2: Inflated Prices

Price points in any guide are subjective to begin with. However, a mint book assessed at $3,000.00 isn't worth more than this just because you encase it in plastic. It's still the same book and it's still in the same condition. This mindset of dealers and individual sellers that a graded comic somehow garners a 500% markup is asinine.

Further, this affect trickles into the regular market of non-slabbed books. I can't tell you how many comics I've seen with inflated prices simply for the fact of keeping in line with graded ones. It's ridiculous.

Worst of all, it prices people out of the hobby. Sure, I get it. Rare books are going to be worth more than common ones. However, when dealers actively look for ways to inflate their prices, they cut out the average comic enthusiast who can't afford books anymore.

If you want to see all of this in practice, look no further than The Amazing Spider-Man issue 208. This is a comic people have in their comic box to fill a hole between 207 and 209, nothing more. I've never met anyone who was actively seeking this issue out for its content. On a good day, this comic will sell for two to three dollars. CGC graded, this book has sold for forty to fifty dollars. Why? It's still the same book nobody wants.

Category 3: Comics Are For Reading

You'll notice in my entire post that this is the first time you will see the word "collect" in any form or fashion. There's a reason for this. From my perspective, a true comic book enthusiast doesn't collect comics. They buy comics to read and enjoy. The end result just so happens to be that you end up with a collection of them over time.

This brings me to my last point, and my biggest disdain for graded books. Comics are for reading. Slabbed books can't be read. As a result, these become useless.

Back when I was going to local comic shops, the purpose of getting a comic was to take it home and read it. Enjoy the story and artwork. Absorb all of it and in the process of doing so, learn to draw comics myself.

When you seal a comic book in plastic you take away it's main purpose. To be read. You no longer want to have it to read it. You just want to have it to have it. Would you buy a sandwich just to stare at it? Probably not (if you have any sense of intelligence). So why do that with a comic book?

Rant Complete

While I'm sure this post will be filed under, "Just another internet rant," it served its purpose for me to get it from my head to digital paper. At the very least, now that I have it at the forefront of my mind, I can speak coherently on the subject if I ever get into it with a dealer at a shop or show.

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A Visit To Cool And Collected Headquarters

In a recent post, Brian over at Cool and Collected stated he was looking to offload some items which had been shifted from his collection to storage. Since we live so close to each other, it was a perfect opportunity to reach out for a visit to his home, aka, The Cool And Collected Headquarters, to see if there was anything of interest.

What I loved about Brian's house was the sense you got the moment you walked in the door. You knew you were in a collector's home. Displays were established in numerous rooms, neatly set up on shelving. Brian's main focal point seemed to be his den, which houses his current treasures of interest. He was happy to not only take me through it, but also let me snap some photos.

For those of you who have been to his site, you know Brian's main focal point of collecting is Batman and Marvel characters, pre 1970's. He loves the unique pieces that you won't find every day, and its these that he displays predominantly on numerous shelves and display cases.

From there, we took a trip to his basement, which the walk alone was a treat doing. Once again, the walls from the stairwell to the actual room were decked out with numerous shelves, all housing a collection of some form of toy. Brian smiled as he informed me that the majority of these items were his kids. Yes, it seems even his children have a little bit of the collector's bug inside of them.

In a separate room off of the main basement area is where Brian houses his overstock. I'll call it that because Brian seemed a little self conscious about being labeled a hoarder. To that regard, I'd like to assure him that this was not at all the sense I got. Everything he had for sale was neatly organized in labeled boxes or bins, as if to be displays unto themselves.

While the sight of it all may have been a little overwhelming and one of those, "Where to start," moments, Brian settled all of that with one question. "What are you looking for?" I thought for a moment, and it hit me. I didn't honestly know, but I had to say something. The first words that came to my mouth were, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." Brian gave a grin and said something to the tune of, "I can help you with that." With that, the boxes started coming down from their shelves to a small table back in the main basement area.

"Pull out what you're interested in," Brian said. I immediately spotted a treasure I was looking for. A set of the four original figures, mint on their cards. From there, more boxes came out, and with each one I got a little more comfortable with throwing out more and more ideas of what I was interested in, and even more boxes followed as a result. Before too long, I had a nice stack of toys sitting on the table in my "want" pile.

With everything gathered, we then set to the task of negotiation. Brian knew I wanted a good deal and I knew he wanted a fair price. He threw out numbers to me of what his expectations were and I in turn threw out numbers of my own. As we both thought on things, we enjoyed a side conversation about the upcoming shows, such as Schoff's comic show and Dave Hart's Timonium toy show. This concluded with my offer and Brian accepting. The deal was done, the money was paid and I was the owner of some great new toys and collectibles.

What was great about my visit to his home was Brian's delight in showing his collection to me. He was happy to showcase and talk about all the things he had on display or tucked away, and additionally, we had a great conversation about various other things, such as our current hobby interests. Overall, it was a fantastic visit.

Before heading out, Brian gave me a box of his Cool and Collected magazine, which I said I would take to the Schoff show with me and hand out to the various vendors. For those of you who don't know, Brian self published and sold from his site this fantastic magazine. While he doesn't currently have plans to release a second issue, even though he has completed the majority of the work, let's hope that will change in the near future.

Now of course, I didn't leave Brian's house empty handed. Below are the pictures of all the great new stuff I acquired. Sadly, I appear to have lost one item between Brian's house and mine. That would be a random Madballs. While it's not a major loss, it's kind of a bummer I misplaced it. Naturally I took the trash out this morning, which included the boxes from Brian's, and I just realized now that it is gone. Oh well...Maybe it will turn up somewhere.

As for the stuff I can still account for, those are:

The holy grail of Kenner 1979 Alien toy collecting. This one was nowhere near my radar of want items. In fact, it wasn't something on your average day I would have considered picking up. However, when I saw this item at Brian's house, just asking for a new home, I decided on the spot that I had to have it.

Brian made an amazing custom stand, which he included with the figure at no additional cost.

While I never would have expected it, one of the things I told him I was looking for was the set of Hardees Smurf glasses from the 80's. This was a very random thing to ask for, and I was genuinely surprised when he then proceed to pull out six of the eight glasses.

I just need Papa Smurf and Smurfette to complete my set!

I'm by no means a mint on card collector, or a fan in general of keeping toys sealed. However, even I have to admit I won't be opening these carded original TMNT figures. They're just too pristine to deserve being ripped off their cards. Instead, I'll seal them in Zoloworld protectors and display them that way.

I'm not a big Masters of the Universe vehicle collector, but something about this Roton was begging me to bring it home.

This tray was also too good to pass up. This is classic 80's artwork!

Last up, until I find my Madballs ball, is this awesome complete Speeder Bike from the 1983 Return of the Jedi line. I would have passed this up had Brian not produced the two rear flaps for it.

There you have it. My visit to Cool and Collected Headquarters, and my new wares.

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