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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Toysday: Upgrades

     I've mentioned before here, that I love Dr Wu products. So when I saw that he was coming out with a set for the already excellent TLK Voyager Optimus...I had to. And it does not disappoint, not one bit. Introducing Dr. Wu M08 Judgement!

     Bigger and more detailed than the shield and sword that came with him, they store in the same places and fit great.



     The shield expands and the gun barrels flip out. 
The Sword looks great, and stands up beautifully against Megatron's sword





     If you have this figure, the upgrade is highly recommended. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Monday Media Musings: Heroic Origins

     Every good hero has a good origin story- Swearing vengeance for the deaths of your parents, or taking responsibility for the life you failed. Hurled from your dying world as it's last son, or given a power ring and made into a green space cop.

     What I am contemplating today is the story behind the story. When Siegel and Schuster created the Superman, they were inspired by other fantastic heroes of the day (I found a nice Bio on them, here). Martin Nodell created the Golden Age Green Lantern from an image of a trainman waving a lantern on dark track, plus elements of Wagner's Ring cycle.

     Yesterday I saw Professor Marston and the Wonder Women



     It was a good film, well acted, and respectfully handled. The subtle nods to things that inspired different aspects of the character were just that- not thrown into your face, just placed there for those in the know to catch. The Movie is R, for language and sexual content, so this is not one for your kids. William Moulton Marston  had a very unconventional relationship with two different women, both of whom he loved deeply, and who loved each other in turn. Their relationship was incredibly brave by modern standards, and damn near foolhardy brave by the standards of the times (the twenties, thirties and forties).

     Marstons granddaughter has come out saying the story is made up, and doesn't reflect the family accurately. She said the family was not consulted.

     The truth?  Who really knows? No one now was there to tell the tale. I liked the movie, and it seemed to have some truth to it. Go see it, form your own opinions. It's a good story, and a good story can make a pretty enjoyable couple of hours in a theater.

     So I leave this post with a quote from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Ransom Stoddard: You're not going to use the story, Mr. Scott?
Maxwell Scott: No, sir. This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Toysday: Jump Start (or Tow Me Away)

     Way back in the day, when Hasbro was trying all kinds of stuff with their original transformers line, there were two experiments called Jumpstarters. They were pull-back-motorized toys that would roll forward, jump into the air and snap to a standing position. Crazy, right? Their transform was essentially a sharp waist-bend, when the catch uncatched, they would unfold and spring into the air. They were super-common toys back in the day, I had Topspin, but ended up giving him away during a purge.



     There was a little bit of later self-kicking, so I was really glad to see that the Titans Return line was giving them an update. It's a really good update. They don't transform with a jump any more, but the new toys have the blocky, bulky look of the originals, and are Titan Masters, also. The transformations are highly innovative, and despite the retool status of TwinTwist, there is a lot of differentiation between the two.


      They cam with the same pair of weapons, that can be used separately or plugged together. to make them look a little more different I display them differently




And to the title of this post, I go to Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull, to the album Crest of a Knave


Monday, October 9, 2017

Monday Media Musings: A Sparrow's Flight


     Today(And the release of POTC5) has me contemplating the curious journeys of Captain Jack Sparrow. I'm going to Omit anything here that is not POTC Movie Cannon(intentional). I am also far less concerned with his sea voyages than I am with his journey as a character.


     When we meet him in The Curse of the Black Pearl, he is a genius of improvisational tactics, able to lie like Loki himself, and is seeking the ship that was stolen from him. He has a cutlass, a pistol with one shot, a compass that points to what he most desires, and a list of enemies dead and alive that is staggering. He loves the Sea, The Black Pearl, and Rum. In pretty much that order.

     Bold, Fearless, Obnoxious. He is a classic trickster, carrying the seeds of his success in one hand and the seeds of his own downfall in the other, and juggling...


     When we meet up with him again in Dead Man's Chest, he is being , pursued by the supernatural Entity Davy Jones,
Not him.
Him.

and considerably more fearful. Jones intends to take Jack's life or the Black Pearl, as part of a bargain they made. Sparrow runs from his fate as long as he can, but when he can run no more, he faces his end with style and boldness, running straight into the teeth of the Kraken.


     When we find him in the Locker in At World's End, he seems to have gone somewhat mad, and fragmented into personalities to keep himself occupied-not necessarily multiple personalities, more like highly focused versions of himself. When extracted from the Locker and returned from the land of the dead, he is wrapped in his endgame with Jones and Cutler Beckett, but also wrangling for position with Hector Barbossa. At the end, he is free of that bargain, and while he loses the Pearl and his crew, he has a map in his possession of wonders galore that he can exploit.

     On Stranger Tides finds him athwart the most feared Pirate of them all, Edward Teach, AKA Blackbeard, seeking the fountain of youth. Not a captain now, but a conscripted sailor on Blackbeard's Queen Anne's Revenge. From this spot, he attempts mutiny, and is left alive only because Blackbeard and his daughter need the knowledge Jack has.

     Dead Men Tell No Tales is a curious turn. We Find Jack Sparrow, drunken, broken, still brilliant, but even more self- sabotaging. I think it's here that we truly start to see the shape of this character. There are two personae, the public and the private. And the public Persona has all the good stuff. Jack is a bit like me. I have been described as being always on stage(and not always as a compliment). And when he starts to Dazzle with Dexterity and Baffle with Bullshit, even his most bloodthirsty foes, whom he has delivered the gravest insults to, wind up watching in fascination. Alone, he creates an audience to perform for- he entertains himself, as it were. On stage, if he feels he is losing the confidence of his audience, he will resort to even more extreme behavior until he has their attention back. And I think it comes down to one seminal event, told in flashback in Dead Men Tell No Tales

     When he saves his ship and defeats Salazar, he is given tribute from the crew. It is in this event that Jack the Sparrow is truly born, and set on a path to remain a captain, on stage for his crew to observe his brilliance. When their confidence slips, so does his mask, and we see the lonely child behind the legend...

     This might be why the Rum is always gone.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Friday Funnies: Nushooz

So I found these at Walmart. Are they Crocs, or just something to wear while dragon your feet?

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Toysday: The Lost LIght

     I semi-follow the comic, love the character designs, and MMC seems to have taken up a vow to do these characters comic-accurate. I love MMC, too- they produced my first third-party figure purchase, my first Arcee figure, and they continue to put out excellent designs.

     There have been a lot of opinions, pro and "'con" on the decision to write Megatron into an autobot. For my dollar, the storyline made it make sense, and matched up with Megatron's decision at the end of Transformers Prime to disavow the decepticons.

     And now as penance for his millions of years of war crimes...he is co-captain aboard the lost light with Rodimus



     Also aboard are Ultra Magnus, Nautica, and Skids

     Cyclonus and Tailgate

it's incredibly important to know that Cyclonus is not a decepticon...



     Swerve and Whirl(who may be the angriest autobot in the world)


     Chromedome and Rewind

And many others as well, which I will be adding or updating in other posts...Stay tuned!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Monday Media Musings: It's a Wonderful Afterlife


     When I think of a piece of fiction with an afterlife, I tend to shy from traditional depictions of heaven and hell, and go for the ones that eschew all that and develop the other side as it's own thing, with it's own laws and rules. I love the way the writer goes beyond tradition to create something new and exciting, even after the final bell has rung.

     In The Frighteners, Death is a hell of a way to make a living.


     Michael J. Fox plays Frank Bannister, a former architect who gained the ability to see spirits after the death of his wife. He uses a crew of "emanations" to haunt people or, "put the frighteners" on them in order to make money at the time of the movie.

     In the world of The Frighteners, you die and there is a tunnel of light, taking you to the next place. If you miss the tunnel, you are an emanation, and expected to stay in your grave until the next chance to go. As an emanation, you decompose as a slow trickling cloud of ectoplasm, and you are stuck as you died, wearing whatever you were wearing at the time. The graveyard, however is guarded by a full on spirit, the ghost of Sgt Hiles(R. Lee Ermee) who can access anything he wore or used while alive and is made "physically Ill" by the sight of Frank Bannister sneaking around his graveyard. Ghosts are tied to this world by their remains, and tend to follow their remains decomposition, if the oldest ghost in Frank's employ, The Judge,(John Astin) is anything to go by.

     Beetlejuice Holds that Death is a lot like the DMV.


     Tells the tale of the Maitlands, a couple who are crazy in love and die together in a car accident. Their afterlife is a 125 year tour stuck in the house they lived in, and unable to leave due to anything beyond the house being a desert populated by stop-motion claymation sandworms. A handbook for the recently deceased that they find in their possession leads them to an afterlife bureaucracy, where suicides in life become civil servants in death, and help is as readily available as in any other bureaucracy...A masterpiece by Tim Burton.

     For RIPD, Death is a Buddy Cop movie


     Ryan Reynolds is Detective Nick Walker, Who after being betrayed and murdered by his Partner, is offered the choice of going down or working fothe Rest in Peace Department, hunting down the ghosts that won't go quietly into that good night. Partnered with grizzled and controversial western lawman Roycephus Pulsifer (yeah, Spell check just went off on me there) they uncover a plot to take down the whole system. Oh, and for some reason, Cumin can reveal a host in hiding. And R.I.P.D agents get a disguise so the living can't recognize them. This may be and probably is the only film where Ryan Reynolds is body-doubled by James Hong. Relax Body, folks.

Plus this little Gem


     What Dreams May Come lets you choose your own afterlife


     There are parts of this film that are painful to me. There is a seemingly disproportionate amount of tragedy heaped upon one family. On the other hand, there is a brilliant performance by Robin Williams. The film is shot on special film stock to be breathtakingly beautiful in the places where it needs to be, and terrible in the places where the visuals require that. It's treatment of suicides going to a hell they make for themselves is chilling, real nightmare stuff. And the people you meet in heaven may not be who you expect, or look like you would expect them to look. But at the end of the day, heaven is what you make for yourself, based upon what you can accept.

     And me? What would I choose? I think you could do far worse than an afterlife of your own choosing...

Monday, September 25, 2017

Monday Media Musings: To Boldly Go...



     I'm more a Star Wars guy than a Trekker. I was too young to see Star Trek TOS in the first blush of it's prime time debut, and too old to get too drawn into TNG and DS9 and Voyager- I watched some of them, watched all of  TOS in syndication. I do recall the Star Trek Saturday morning Cartoon that just pretty much rehashed the plot of a number of TOS episodes...as did some of TNG.

     I saw up through STIV(the Voyage Home) but didn't really stay dedicated to that movie franchise like I have to some others. I recognize the importance of Star Trek as a cultural phenomenon and a societal mirror, and I recognize it's value.

     Right about now, you are thinking "what a freaking downer post. He came not to praise the Trek, but to bury it." Guess what? I Didn't bring a shovel.

     The Star Trek reboot that sprang fully formed from the mind of J.J. Abrams is brilliant, and I loved the first two films. They do seem to lose about a full Enterprise each movie, and Beyond seemed muddled, although a second viewing might clear some of that. I love the cast, I love the pacing, I love the TOS tropes that get flipped or turned sideways. The fantastic re-imagining by way of an altered timeline, some edgier relationships and some Firefly-style shoot-em-up is my cup of tea. It takes itself seriously but not too seriously.

     But I'm not here for that either. I'm here for the other thing Star Trek inspired. The Spoofs...

     I was old enough that I got to see Quark in primetime.

not this:(although I did see him in primetime)

this:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quark_(TV_series)
     It was not a brilliant parody, but it was entertaining. They hit out at various Sci-fi tropes in their 8 episode run. You can find them on DVD now, if you are interested.

    Then in 1999, we got this piece of brilliance:
Galaxy Quest


     The Premise actually called me back to a Story in an old Star Trek Anthology, Visit to a Weird Planet Revisited by Ruth Berman. In the story, Shatner, Nimoy and Kelley find themselves on the real, actual, according-to-Hoyle U.S.S. Enterprise and have to face down a Klingon commander. The stories in these anthologies, along with the novels that followed the series were some of the first pre-internet fan-fiction.

     In Galaxy-Quest, of course, the semi-retired and typecast actors from the Galaxy-Quest T.V. series are making their living doing conventions and charging for autographs.  At one of these conventions, they meet representatives from an alien culture who have based their way of life on the show, and need the help of the original crew to save their civilization. If you haven't seen this...I'm not sure what to say except SEE IT IMMEDIATELY. By the Sons of Warvan, Tim Allen may do a better Shatner than Shatner. This is also a movie that makes me miss Alan Rickman all the more.

     Which brings me to now.
The Orville
     Seth MacFarlane is an interesting character. I Haven't decided yet if this is a spoof, or a serious insipred-by, or what it wants to be when it fully spreads it's wings. I think in a lot of ways the show doesn't even have the answers to these questions. First episode was ...meh, entertaining enough. Second episode was better, funnier, but the third episode took a bite of some meat. And seriously chewed. I'm not going to spoil anything here, but I personally think that the show deserves a chance to find out what it can be, and I have a new respect for MacFarlane based upon the note he ended episode three on. It took guts to not go for the happy ending and I think it was the right choice.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Friday Funnies: A Grass Joke

     I'm imagining a story idea: A young man, heir to a an old, titled, family, but one that is financially bankrupt. His parents scraped together the last of their savings and brought the family to America. Though in a new land, they made the children promise not to forget their heritage and responsibility to the title.

     As the eldest son, he took a lot of responsibility for caring for his siblings. He took a job doing manual labor, for a lawn care company, and became an expert. Soon he was able to start his own business, caring for lawns, caring for his family and never, never forgetting where he came from.


The title? The Marquis De Sod.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Link-Pimping

     Just a quick post to point you at a friend of mine.

     Why is he a friend? Does he buy transformers for his daughter?


     Well, no. but I like him anyway. And I think you will too.

Dose of Dad

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Toysday: Spring in My Heart

     I think I have mentioned here on this Blog that I love Springer as a character. He was one of my favorite transformers in the old days, and I tend to be very interested in any new versions that come up.

     So when i heard there was a new third party company in the wind, called Open Play and their first product, Big Spring, was going to be a masterpiece scale/style version of Springer...


     I was both intrigued and skeptical. First outing as a company, and they took on a triple changer???

     So I watched reviews, and paid attention to what other fans were saying, and it was about 90% good. He was also at a surprisingly low price point versus other iterations of the character. So I ended up biting. I bit, and was hooked.

 The Good:

  • He looks good in all three modes, tricky to do on a triple-changer.
  • His transformation is intricate, but still fun rather than headache inducing. 
  • He has a high level of articulation and posability, and is very sturdy 
  • His aesthetic goes good on my shelf. 
  • His colors blend together well, so no color is jarring or misplaced. 
  • Little touches like a variable canopy width, pop-out headlights, pop out stabilizers in helicopter mode. 
The Baddish:
  • His face is a little flat and expressionless. 
  • Some tabs don't stay tabbed in they way I would like
  • Some things don't "store" in all modes, such as the bomb and the sword holder that plugs into his back

     Final thoughts before we get to the photos- A good transformer figure is one you enjoy transforming, over and over for years. A great one is one you keep learning things about, every time you transform it. Open Play gave us this figure. No Frills packaging, no printed instructions, but they went all in on the little special touches on the figure, and they did not skimp on accessories. Whoever the designers are, I look forward to their next project. 








And Cappy joined me in my office because we are working on training out the worst of the screaming. If you have ever heard a gold-capped Conure in full voice, you will comprehend the necessity...