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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Generation Toys Jazz

     I have said before on this blog I am not a toy reviewer. Turns out I was incorrect. I just needed the right spark to start me off.

     When I opened the package from the Chosen Prime, and touched the box I knew someone had taken it to another level. Unlike the printed boxes with varying thicknesses and qualities of cardboard, this is a heavy black full box, similar to a photo box, with the company logo printed on it in metallic letters. It has a fitted sleeve that is printed that slides off. Inside the box is a fitted foam rubber insert to hold the car form secure and safe.

      Some of his transformation is based upon this toy. Special Ops Jazz from the Reveal the Shield line. An excellent piece in it's own right, it is one of my favorites. with a solid, intricate transformation, the only place it suffers is in a shortage of paint applications, What I show here is my custom painted version where I worked to fix that. He spends his days on one of my classics shelves between my Takara Tracks and my GDO Cliffjumper. That is, unless he is helping me at my desk for the day.

     Jazz has long been Optimus Prime's right hand 'bot. As head of special operations, he is in charge of the most dangerous covert missions. Jazz is also a true earthophile, more than most other autobots, effortless immersing himself into and grasping Earth's culture.

     Jazz was played on the G1 series by the late great Scatman Crothers, also famous for voicing Hong Kong Phooey. I remember listening to him, one of the three most distinctive voice actors on the show( along with Peter Cullen and Casey Kasem)and truly enjoying his way of bringing life to the role. While many have tried to fill his shoes in the role, in the opinion of this blogger, no one ever has.

     Generation Toys J4ZZ(Jazz) is solid in the hand, without being full of oddly placed Die-Cast parts. His transformation is intricate without being headache-inducing. He looks great in robot mode and in alt-mode as what most resembles a modern Porsche. The Plastic they used for his car parts is a pearlescent white with a stylized version of his original deco, with red and blue racing stripes. I added an Autobot emblem to him as soon as he hit robot mode. His joints are smooth, not so tight as to make you listen for breaking plastic, not so loose that they flop around. His blaster fits securely in his hand.

     And then we get to the odd little details. the flaps that open up to fill in gaps, to cover the hollows. These are the little extra touches of pride that elevate this above even most third party companies. These are the things that make it a pleasure and a treasure of engineering.

     Would I recommend this? It depends on what your collection has room for, or what you are looking for. If you are looking for scrupulously G1 exact detail, this isn't it. He bounces back and forth between Classics toy, G1 toy and IDW Comics. He becomes a new thing. My collection demands only that the aesthetic fit my tastes, because above all else, I embrace the fluid nature of Cybertronian transformers. They are always changing. He may or may not be your masterpiece Jazz. He will do nicely for mine.


Monday, October 24, 2016

Pop Culture League: Here comes Halloween!

  It’s the most wonderful time of the year...


     What does Halloween mean to me? Halloween was always my time to be someone else, to shed my skin and become someone else for a night. As I grew older, different outlets opened up, like conventions, D&D, the renaissance festival...But Halloween memories and the feelings this time of year evoke for me have stayed through all those changes. 

     I remember looking for an appropriately sized Ben Cooper costume at Woolco. The costume was folded in a box, with the mask on top. 

     I remember the Batman Costume... Silver age, 1960s/70s era Batman that I wore one year. That synthetic(probably flammable) costume and the stiff plastic mask with the little mouth slit. I found this online with what I remember it being like.
Credit to whoever Erick is for sharing this. If I tried to find my Moms old Halloween pictures...
let's just say there is a closet or two of photo albums.
     I remember one year jumping out to spook someone and bag of candy. I remember the person I spooked patiently helping me pick up my candy, and I remember feeling like an absolute tool. 

     I remember putting on a black turtleneck and draping a piece of cloth over my neck and thinking I had achieved this effect:

I remember later wrapping that cloth around my head to be a ninja.(same night)

     I remember never dressing as the monster or the villain, always the hero. There was one year I had a clown costume, but they really only got super-creepy later on. 

     These days, I prowl the costume aisle and shops to see the trends, usually based on whatever movie was popular this year. I watch spooky movies to set the mood, and I observe All Hallows eve as the traditional last night of the year. I say farewell to the ones lost and bid them good journey to their next place. 

     The last two Halloween parties I went to were at my neighbors, one was a B-movie theme(tuck a katana inside a trench coat and you are the Highlander!) and the other was a superhero party. I dressed as Green Arrow(longbow hunters timeframe) and was mistaken for Robin Hood all night. 

     Some people ain't got no culture, you'know? And I couldn't even tell them they had failed the city...

And now for some folks who did not fail the city:

And anyone I might have missed can be found with the league logo at the top

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Night of the Accident

     Tonight was a weird night. It may have been the man in the next checkout at Wal-Mart who was a face painting victim and knew it.

     It may have been the discussion with my roommate, where she equated my writing style to that of a grandma, talking about the vacation she took with her grandkids at motel six where she liked how clean the room was, and the pool was warm.

     Sam asked if my writing persona was male, female or neutral, and said most of my posts were good " trunk pieces". I told her that evidently my writing persona was that of an elephant, then, or possibly a mammoth, because I am woolier.

      But I think really, that it was the accident with the kid on the hoverboard that set the tone.

     For the record, he hit me.

     We were heading down Garrison, making decent time, when traffic slowed as it tends to around 6 pm. Next to us, along the road were three kids, two afoot and one on what I would have to describe as an iridescent chrome green hoverboard. We passed them, traffic slowed, and they drew alongside.

     And then he seemed to fall backwards, and we heard the thunk! of impact, and felt the passenger side of my car actually lift slightly. He shot his hoverboard out from under him and literally wedged it under my civic. So we had three kids, apologizing and trying to extricate this fancy device from under my Honda.

    Now I feel like my car should be spitting pieces of green chrome for a couple of weeks, but the reality it that the kid was unharmed, and his hoverboard was surprisingly tough, didn't appear to have a scratch on it.
It looked like this, but with a lot more Honda on it.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Pop Culture League Challenge: Are You Scared?

     A Chilling and Horrifying question from

     What scares me? the traditional standbys, from the classic universal monsters to the modern slasher give me a moments pause and nothing more. The only one that disturbed me for more than a moment was Freddy, because he can get into your dreams. Jason, Michael, etc. are just abnormally strong whack-jobs with masks, and they are neither sword nor arrow proof. The original Alien shocked me badly, but mostly the face-hugger scene. It just came RIGHT OUTTA THERE, so that was more camera work than the inherently scary nature of the face-hugger. The chest-burster was just gross and alarmingly fast after that.

     There are things that unnerve me-faces or creatures whose intent you can't read- stray dogs, unexpected clowns (yep, clowns) for example, but they don't terrify, me, they make me justly wary. A creepy clown with a stray dog has a good shot of making me cross the street and go around. But that is millions of years of human survival instinct functioning as designed. If something feels unsafe to us, there is probably a reason that it is.

     These are the things that terrify me, that paralyze me during the day and wake me from a sound sleep at night. The creeping fear that the cough I have is going to go from asthma to worse. The fear that my "Diabeetus" is going to start advancing and incapacitate me. The fear that people are going to abandon me. The fear that some illness I don't know I have is going to snuff my spark in the middle of the night. The fear that my birds and family are going to be left without my care, and the worry of who will care for them. Neil Gaiman said "Every hour wounds, the last one kills." and the Reaper is slow but certain to everyone. Nobody avoids him.

     And then there is the paper. Bills. Medical bills. Medical bills from doctors I have seen, and bills from doctors I have yet to see. the bills that are slowly collapsing into a black hole on my desk, pulling me toward their event horizon and my eventual doom.

     So my fears are... Adulting. Aspects of it at least. This is why I have the plastic bubble. Looks like I bypassed the funny on this one.

Welcome to Adulthood. Sleep with the lights on.

And this made me think of a Song by Jethro Tull

Here are my cohorts and their boogie-men

And you can always access any others from the pop culture league logo above

Saturday, October 15, 2016


     I came across a term a little while back, new to me, referring to a revisionist western. It casts aside and questions the ideals of the traditional western, and deconstructs the mythic nature of lawman vs. lawless. The cowboys aren't always right, the indians aren't always wrong. Good doesn't always win.

Some examples of this Genre are:

All favorites I might add. 

     What this got me thinking of though, was have we come far enough to have reached the revisionist Superhero Film? Looking around, I think we have.

     The first example that came to mind for me was the Dark Knight trilogy. Quintessential superhero films, I know. Why I tend to think of them as revisionist, is because of their tone. The emphasis is not so much on good versus evil as the cost of being the Batman. The trilogy is also designed to end, not to continue. Superheroes never really retire, and they never really die.  They do, however, get rebooted.

     Another one that comes up as revisionist for me is My Super Ex-Girlfriend. the titular Heroine, G-Girl, is an insecure mess and misuses her powers to destroy the life of the guy who dates her, and dumps her for the odd behavior he sees in her.

     Hancock has to hit this list for me, as well. An angry, alcoholic superhero with a history of property damage... call him an asshole, one...more...time. It de-mythifies the origin story by having superheroes as a natural part of the world, set to defend it, and manages to make it's own mythology, in the process.

     Speaking of films that create their own mythology...Unbreakable- Some people are stronger, tougher, have enhanced senses, and that is what our myths are based upon. Likewise, some people are more fragile.

     Surprisingly, I can't add Watchmen to this list, because while it definitely takes a revisionist tone, it owes that to it's source material, to which it is very faithful. Deadpool I can't call revisionist for the sme reason, and likewise Suicide Squad.

     And then there is The Return of Captain Invincible- you have a disillusioned, betrayed alcoholic hero, called back into service to save the world. Music by Richard O'Brien and Richard Hartley among others.

    Just some food for thought. You may come up with others, or you may think I am completely off base. I'd love to hear your thoughts

Monday, October 10, 2016

Pop Culture League Challenge: Zombies

     We as a culture are fascinated by the dead rising; Vampires, Ghosts, and now Zombies are super-popular; We LOVE Zombies!

     I have seen a lot of the classics- The Evil Dead, Night of the Living Dead, Night of the Comet...

     What I am going to talk about here is my favorites.

      I am basically an optimist. A lot of Zombie fiction ends too hopelessly for my taste- World War Z for instance, the solution was to infect themselves with something the zombies wouldn't feel safe eating. A dark solution in my book.

      IZombie- Liv Moore wakes up and finds she is a zombie- she also finds that if she eats brains, she can keep her intelligence, and she gains the memories and some personality aspects of her meal- You are who you eat, after all. she uses her newfound abilities to fight crime with the Seattle PD. Oh, and you have never seen a more attractive zombie in your life...Watch her on the CW.

     Shaun of the Dead- What I like about this movie is the "comes the moment, comes the man " theme; Shaun is a slacker, loving nothing more than his  video-games and going down the the Winchester pub...until the zombie apocalypse makes him step up to try to save those he loves. Oh, and always remember that when looking for food, supplies, and weapons... the pub should be your first choice. Grab your cricket bat and go to town.

     Fido- This one is a bizarre post-zombie-apocalypse film.- you can prep for your death by making sure you don't come back by cremation or decapitation. there is both implied and actual human-zombie relations of an illicit nature, and a company called Zomcon provides zombie controlling technology so we can use the zombies as household servants...if you haven't seen it, see it.

     And of course Zombieland, with it's rules for survival- this is a more hopeless world than the other three, when all you can do is try to find fellow survivors and maybe, just maybe, the last Twinkies. Really, it's about trying to find ordinary things in an extraordinary world. The little things thatkeep you going- a friend, a loved one, a cream filled sponge cake...

     What it boils down to for me is not the zombies, but that we will survive. Man will adapt, and find a way. And put it on YouTube

and for further reading:

Cracked .com-7 reasons a Zombie Apocalypse couldn't happen
And 5 more reasons it could

and my fellow surviving leaguers

  • Green Plastic Squirt Gun is trapped and surrounded by zombie toys
  • The Toy Box chose his three least favorite pop-zombie phenomena
  • Toy Break took us back to Resident Evil the game, not the movie
  • Collectors Universe has a legitimate fear of the walking dead
  • Another F* Blog Voltroned together 3 weeks of challenges and formed blazing sword
  • The Harvey Mercheum has a rare sketch of Zombie Richie Rich...which is chilling.
  • Cool and Collected is happy McFarlane "spawned" walking dead figures
  • Cassie's Library (brand new to the league) did a video pondering the impact of the dead returning in our culture
  • Haxbee went even deeper- into the moral implications of why we love zombies
  • G.I. Jigsaw gave us more on WWE zombies and the triumph of the walking dead
And click the Pop culture league banner above for any I missed

Monday, October 3, 2016

Pop Culture League Challenge: “Here there be Monsters”

Another Excellent writing prompt from

     When I saw the challenge, my immediate thought was "What is a monster?" A short except from Wikipedia gives us a definition:  A monster is any creature, usually found in legends or horror fiction, that is often hideous and may produce fear or physical harm by its appearance or its actions.

     But: Everything is a monster to something. To the Mouse that tries to get into Tangos cage, I am the monster that glues the floor. To me, he is the monster trying to kill my bird. To the doves we feed outside, we are monsters...Kindly ones, but to be avoided in close contact nonetheless. To the hawks that hunt the doves on our street...etc. To me the live action Transformers movies were about heroes and villains, but to my elderly parents...25 foot metal monsters, both factions. There are Monsters on the Big screen and the Small one, Monsters in our news feeds, even, some might say, Monsters running for office in the election this year.

     I learned early on about Vampires(the Lugosi kind, not the sucky sparkly kind.)I've seen Mummies, Frankenstein's creature, King Kong but the first monster that even really sparked my imagination was the king of them all:

He has a modern look,

But it's the classic look for me

     He has around 30 live-action films and three animated series based on his majesty. And I have this weird toy I have had forever that sort of echoes him in ways...If anyone knows it's origin, or even has ever seen the like, let me know.

Pacific Rim was a different kind of take on the Kaiju movie- As the narrator/protagonist states:"To fight monsters we created monsters of our own". Because Giant Robots vs. giant monsters never escalates...

     There are Cryptids, some of which may exist but probably nothing like we imagine them. A recent picture of the Loch Ness monster(the clearest ever taken!) was probably three seals swimming together.

     I think it fitting to end this post on monsters with Supernatural, because the show is above all else, about family, and the term 'Monster' is relative. Dean and Sam Winchester travel the country in their black Impala, saving people and hunting things.

     As they travel, they hold to each other above all else. But as they kill monsters, they discover that some of those 'monsters' are just quietly trying to stay under the radar, live the best they can, and stay alive. Some of the monsters have families of their own, and consider the Winchesters to be the monsters.

     Look at the monsters, and know that even Grendel had a point of view, even Grendel had a mom. A Hot, hot mom...

 Monster is a choice, not an appearance. The Monsters are inside us, should we but let them loose.

 Here be Monsters
And here be links. Please click the Logo above for any I missed

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Captain America Civil War: Aftermath

     I wanted a place to collect all the weird product tie-ins I found for the movie, and there were a few...

this is clearly a "throw pillow"

Iron Man signed the PEZ Accords, but not Cap. 

This is for Back to School. for those sniffly days when you have to start a fight with your best friend

     And finally a ;little story about the product I did buy- the throw (appropriately named) bearing the image of Captain America's shield. Just a nice blanket, you might think, as did I, until it sames Sam from IMMINENT ATTACK. She was in the room with me, and Tango started at her, with Blood in his Eye. And he hit the shield blanket, and stopped...and flexed his claw on the fabric...and rolled on it. Tango loves soft fabrics, he loves to touch them, wrap himself up in them... you get the picture. So with his attack on Sam forgotten in the feel of the Velourbranium* blanket, Sam made her escape. I can't recommend this product highly enough if you find yourself in those circumstances

For more on Sam and Tango and their tortured relationship

*Velourbranium is a rare fabric woven in Wakanda which takes Hostility directed against it and turns it into warm, fuzzy, comfortable feelings. To quote Ultron: "The most versatile fabric on the planet and they used it to make a blanket. Actually, that was a pretty good idea."

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Exiting Offscreen

     So one of my big personal peeves is when they replace a character or an actor from one movie to another. When an actor has personjal trouble, or they are "set poison" or the just downright don't wanna do it, it disturbs a space in my head, and knocks me off an even keel in an already chaotic world. One thing I value very highly is my mental well being, and I try to treat my mind pretty gently.

     Some examples:

  • Mikaela Banes in the Transformers franchise- She clashed with the director and producers of the movies, prompting her removal between ROTF and DOTM with a weak "she broke up with Sam" story. For that matter, the entire Witwicky family vanished from the franchise after DOTM, as did Seymour Simmons. 
  • The Rhodey Switch between Iron Man and Iron Man 2- Don't get me wrong- I preferred Don Cheadle's performance and characterization over Terrence Howard's, but a body-swap is a body swap in my head-space, and it ripples outward causing chaos in my head. Here is some info that may explain the switch, but I am sure there is more to it. 
  • The Vanished Henley Reeves- The story in the film was that she got tired of waiting for The Eye and asked to be let out. The real deal is that the actress was pregnant and could not film. 
  • The Lonely Death of Steven Hiller- This is an offscreen death with him dying as a test pilot for the earth defense program.  A plausible, but weak story. The real story is that Will Smith, is alive, well, and too pricey for the sequel. 
  • You wouldn't like me when I'm Edward Norton- I prefer Mark Ruffalo, but he and Edward look nothing alike. 'Nuff said
  • Dumbledore Polyjuices from Harris to Gambon- Again,  I like the second actor better. I wish they had cast him in the first two. Nothing against Richard Harris, but I like Michael Gambon's portrayal better
     So why am I bringing this up? these exits and changes are all part of life. People Die, People Break Up. Actresses get pregnant, or get sick. Actors die, or their stock goes up and they get expensive. 

     My problem with this, is that my head-space uses movies to make sense of the world, and make it manageable. when so much is uncontrollable, a movie or a book is a scripted world where things go as they should. When something goes out of control in a movie, it causes a little but significant disruption in my ability to focus on it, and distracts me. I have to satisfy myself beforehand that other aspects of the work are to my liking so I can settle in and enjoy it. It makes me almost not want to see things where this has happened, and did actually stop me from wanting to see Independence Day:Resurgence in theater. 

Anyway. just ranting a little rant for you.