Friday, November 14, 2014

G.I. Joe: 30th Anniversary - Sci-Fi

The 30th anniversary of G.I. Joe continued to bring some excellent updated figures to the market. Sadly these would be some of the last good Joe toys to appear on retail shelves. I was partial to many of the figures in the series as they were updates of some of my favorite characters, such as Sci-Fi.

30th Sci-Fi photo YoJoe003_zps6c81c742.jpg

Sci-Fi was one of those old toys that bordered on "crossing the line" so to speak between the realism of military and science fiction. This laser trooper wore a bright neon green suit for crying out loud, but many fans and collectors still embraced the toy and the character.

The 30th anniversary version is an excellent update, keeping true to the look of the original figure. There were a few changes however and most of them are for the better in my opinion. First off the green has been muted a bit. No more day glow neon green. He also comes with a secondary head sculpt. As you can see from the above pic, I've opted for the full face shield head as opposed to the original.

30th Sci-Fi photo YoJoe001_zps8e05a7ba.jpg

The original head is more of a helmet now. You never really knew what Sci-Fi looked like beyond his exposed lower face, but now you do. This is one change that I can take or leave. I prefer the new head myself. The helmet looks a little bulky when its on the figure. I wish Hasbro would have just sculpted the face/helmet together like on the original A Real American Hero toy. This head reminds me of Wet Suit for some reason.

30th Sci-Fi photo YoJoe004_zps0af2159c.jpg

As with most of the 25th / Pursuit of Cobra / 30th / Renegades figures, the attention to detail is fantastic. From the wrinkles in the clothing to the addition of elbow and knee pads, Sci-Fi looks fantastic. Even his bland silver back pack got a nice upgrade. It even has a few small paint apps! Thankfully the black plastic tubing is long enough to attach his gun to his backpack and it not hinder the pose ability of the figure.

30th Sci-Fi photo YoJoe002_zps29d8cde9.jpg

I feel as if I'm being a little biased here since I loved the original Sci-Fi figure, but all that aside I believe Hasbro has done a remarkable job with the modern upgrade of this character. He was one of the last figures I bought from retail and still one of the few Joe figures left in my collection to date. Highly recommended figure.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

M.A.S.K.: Slingshot w/ Ace Riker

M.A.S.K. has always been one of those nostalgic toy lines I would love to collect, but it seems like every time I buy a toy from the series I find myself liking the memories of the toys, more than the toys themselves. While there are a few exceptions, this held true when I picked up Slingshot sometime last year.

MASK Slingshot photo 044_zps63eb79ca.jpg

Slingshot is a very dated looking recreational vehicle. I can't help but imagine what kid's impressions where when they saw this sitting on store shelves in 1986. After all, in the same 2nd series of M.A.S.K. you could have chosen the Raven, the slick black Corvette or even Outlaw, V.E.N.O.M.'s tanker truck headquarters. I'm sure though some kid out there was beside themselves when they realized they could own a transforming RV!

MASK Slingshot photo 045_zps793c6d2b.jpg   MASK Slingshot photo 046_zpsaea90d4a.jpg

All joking aside the Slingshot does have a realistic looking form, complete with "Crusin" license plate on the front and back. The head lights and tail lights are stickers (as are the license plates), but the windows and the deco on the side are painted on the toy. Even after nearly 30 years, the chrome on this toy still looks pretty good. How comes this chrome looks so good, yet the chrome used on the Transmetal Beast Wars toys looks like crap now? What gives?!

MASK Slingshot photo 047_zps664bc3fd.jpg

Slingshot's transformation is very simple - just fold down the two halves of the RV and you've got yourself a surveillance unit complete with a Sonic Jet.

This form is strictly powered by imagination. Yes there are some stickers alongside the edges that give it a computer lab feel and of course you've for the launching Sonic Jet, but there really isn't much going on in this form.

MASK Slingshot photo 048_zps181bf2da.jpg

The RV's front grill does fold out to reveal a dual pair of laser guns, but outside of the launching the jet what more is there to do here? I should also mention that there is a seat in the launching mechanism for the jet. Here Ace or any other figure can operate the attached guns.

MASK Slingshot photo 054_zps25f5cf31.jpg

The Sonic Jet is the real draw I would guess for most kids back in the day. When "launched" from the surveillance unit, the wings pop forward giving it flight. Underneath the jet is a Laser Tracer bomb that can be dropped with your finger and some imagination.

I've always thought this jet reminded me a bit of the old Cobra Firebat that launched out of the middle of the Terror Drome play set. More of a reconnaissance type craft than a fighter, Ace Riker can spy on V.E.N.O.M. unnoticed and report back to Matt Trakker.

MASK Slingshot photo 056_zps8b7c9927.jpg

Speaking of Ace, the included figure is one of the better looking figures in my opinion. I like the leather bomber jacket and orange shirt underneath. Ace seems to look a little older than some of the other characters and I like that. To me he gives off a tough guy vibe - reminds me a lot of Colt Seavers, the Fall Guy.

MASK Slingshot photo 055_zps82647a05.jpg

Ace wears the Ricochet mask. However I can't remember what it's exact power set is. I'm guessing it shoots some kind of ricocheting objects? 

I like the look of the mask. The exposed eyes, the silver breathing apparatus and how the mask cradles his shoulders and upper torso. I mush prefer these style of masks over the shorter masks that just cover the figure's head.

Slingshot is a fairly common M.A.S.K. toy and can be had in most cases for under $30 complete. The small Tracer bomb is the most commonly missing part. All of the M.A.S.K. toys are fun in their own right and while I do remember having fun playing with my friend's Slingshot in the mid-80's, for me it just doesn't have the same lasting power as some of the other vehicles.

MASK Slingshot photo 051_zps2ca3068e.jpg

MASK Slingshot photo 050_zps4eb1b91b.jpg

Sunday, November 9, 2014

My $10 NEC Turbo Express and the Tale of How it Happened

It's rare that I find good deals locally. I see them all the time on various groups on Facebook or in different forums online. How do these people have such fortunate luck to run across such deals on action figures, comics and video games? Are people lying? Or are people really that lucky sometimes?

Well finally after a very long dry spell, my luck finally resurfaced. This time in the form of a NEC Turbo Express portable video game system.  Here's a quick run down of how it came to be...

Again, a huge thanks to Retro Reboot for the Turbo Express and to Gil Perales for recapping the system. I look very forward to putting in some gaming time with this bad boy this holiday season. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Transformers Oddity: Armada Bubble Twist

About this time, 11 years ago, small tubes of bubble gum started appearing on shelves at Toys 'R Us stores in the United States. Produced by Cap Toys, Bubble Twist contained a stick of gum inside a tube, similar to the Push Pop candy brand. When pressed from below, the gum would push up through a grid in a twisting manner, hence the name Bubble Twist. Inside specially marked containers, the bottom of the tube contained a small PVC figure of various Transformers Armada characters.

Bubble Twist photo 100_7242_zpse9b2e43d.jpg     Bubble Twist photo 100_7243_zps1f9c32b6.jpg    

Similar to the old decoys from the Generation One days, these rigid PVC figures came cast in a variety of color. Ironically enough I got the two G1 colors - red and purple. These static figures stand at about 2 inches tall. Character selection included Hot Shot, Megatron, Optimus Prime (Super Mode) and Starscream. They came in the following colors: black, blue, gray, purple and red.

    Bubble Twist photo 100_7241_zpse2d21066.jpg     Bubble Twist photo 100_7244_zps60270739.jpg

I don't know why I like these, but I do. I guess it's partly because they remind me of the G1 decoys, or maybe it's just because it's one of those Transformers oddities. Every since I bought the two I own, I've never seen or heard anything about them since.

Bubble Twist photo 100_7245_zpsab027700.jpg

Bubble Twist photo 100_7246_zps1ffd95ec.jpg

Just a tad smaller than the old Legends size

Friday, October 31, 2014

Month of Horror continues with Dawn of the Dead (1978)

I'm wrapping up the nearly month long horror movie feature with my top horror flick of all time, George A. Romero's 1978 masterpiece Dawn of the Dead. I can't say enough great things about this movie. From the characters to the special effects to the movie's setting. Everything about this movie is just freakin' awesome.

As the zombie epidemic continues to spread across the country and television executive and her boyfriend take a news copter and try to flee Pittsburgh. Around the same time they meet up with 2 SWAT team members (one of which is actor Ken Foree!) and the 4 set off to find somewhere safe. During their escape they start to run low on fuel and need to land. They notice a large mall just outside the city limits and decide to land on the roof as there should be plenty of needed supplies inside. What they find is the mall has been overrun by zombies. As the movie unfolds we get to see this newly formed team try to survive not only the zombies, but living together as well. They eventually make a makeshift shelter in the mall while trying to figure out their next move.

Dawn of the Dead is actually the 2nd movie in Romero's zombie trilogy and easily the best in my opinion. Some may argue that the pace of the movie is too slow or that the characters are stupid. I tend to disagree. One of the things that makes this movie unique if you will is the setting. Taking place inside the Monroeville Mall located just outside of Pittsburg, PA offers up a different vibe when compared to other horror movies. One of the things I found charming about the mall is that it's a real mall - not just a cobbled movie set. Check out this site for an interesting "now and then" look at the mall.

I will give the 2004 remake honorable mention as director Zack Synder did a great job with the re-envisioning of this classic tale. I still prefer the original, but you can't go wrong with the modern film either as it has a new take on the now classic "mall formula".

If I had started this horror movie feature at the beginning of the month I would've showcased a few more films. I guess I'll have to save them for next year. Of those movies honorable mention goes to:

Dawn of the Dead (2004), Diary of the Dead, Feast, Grindhouse, Jeeper's Creepers, Pulse, REC, The Ring, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), Vacancy

Month of Horror continues with Halloween (2007)

I never was a big fan of John Carpenter's Halloween franchise. I've seen most of the movies, but the Michael Myers character just never appealed to me in the way other horror villains have. When I heard Rob Zombie was releasing his own version of Halloween I didn't know what to expect, but I eventually saw it anyway. Wow. What an intense ride.

So there was this big debate over John Carpenter versus Rob Zombie and which version of the movie and or Michael Myers is more terrifying.  Who cares.  I read that John told Rob to make the movie "his own" and that's what Rob did.  Both are great movies and you can't go wrong with either.  I just found Rob's version of the movie a little more, well, violent.

In the original you don't get to see Michael's family much so you really don't know why he turns out as he does.  In Rob's version you get a more in depth look at Michael in his early years and his dysfunctional family.  For me this helped set up the movie a little bit more.  I get the whole argument of we the movie viewer isn't supposed to feel compassion for the killer (who felt sorry for Freddy Kruger?) and not knowing what sets off someone and turns them into a killer is far more scary.  I get all that.  Valid points.  Remakes aren't for everyone, but if you can be subjective enough and separate the two movies and take them for what they are I think you'll see that both movies stand on their own as fantastic additions to the slasher genre.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Month of Horror continues with You're Next

Long before the WWE's Erick Rowan wore the now iconic plastic sheep mask, the mask first made it's debut in You're Next.

The Davison family assembled for a family reunion weekend. Mom and Dad were happy to have all of their family reunited, but who invited the axe wielding maniacs?

You're Next is another entry into the home invasion genre of horror. I knew little to nothing about this film when it was released in 2011, but the trailer alone got me into the theater. I was one the edge of my seat through out the entire movie. Its a well written and slick movie. There are so many turns and twists to the story that I can't say much more without giving everything away. It's not an overly gory film, but it's got just enough horror type violence that will satisfy most fans. Some reviewers love the film for all the same reasons I do, while others criticized some of the story elements. Watch the movie for yourself before casting your vote of yeah or nay.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Month of Horror continues with Friday the 13th Part VII - The New Blood

Are you surprised that a Friday the 13th movie didn't make an appearance before now? While I love the first film it's been showcased all over the place so I wanted to pick another movie in the series. While I'm partial to part 3 (long before 3D special effects were used in just about every new movie), but for some reason I chose part 7 instead (Kane Hodder?). As a whole most of the Friday movies are pretty good, heck even Jason X has it's moments. The tag line for part VII: The New Blood is "Jason is back, but this time someone is waiting for him!"

Tommy Jarvis chained Jason Voorhees to the bottom of Camp Crystal Lake where he has laid dormant for many years. That is until a young telekinetic girl, Tina Shepperd inadvertently awakes him from his long slumber.

I guess what I remember most about this movie was how Jason himself had a nemesis of sorts. In the previous movies there really is no adversary for Jason as he just hacks away at his helpless victims. Not so much in this movie. I love the scene towards the end of the movie when Jason and Tina go head to toe. Tina throws (literally) a lot at Jason and he takes the abuse and keeps getting up for more. Kudos to Kane Hodder here as his acting is great. In my opinion Kane was the best actor ever to wear the iconic hockey mask. During the fight scene Jason truly looks puzzled over what is happening to him. There is this sense of disbelieve that he is having someone stand up against him. Take a look if you don't remember the scene:

I don't know about you, but this was an entertaining film thanks to the big fight scene. All of the Friday the 13th movies have their moments. Some are better than others, but part VII will always stand out in my memory. As a bonus treat here is another video I found compiling Jason's kills.

Month of Horror continues with Rubber (2010)

"Are you tired of the expected?"

I honestly don't know the best way to describe this movie. It's so odd, yet so entertaining. Just check out the trailer and you'll see what I'm talking about.

If this intrigued you enough, you can find the movie available on Amazon Instant Video.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Month of Horror continues with Night of the Creeps

" If you're dead. "

I like to think of this movie as the precursor to Slither (2006). Part sci-fi, part horror and all 80's. I remember catching this movie back in my high school days on USA's Up All Night television program. I recently found that this movie is currently streaming on Crackle. Whether you're a fan of 80's horror, zombies, sci-fi or whatever I think you may find this movie enjoyable.