Monday, July 30, 2012

State of the Horde Address - August 2012

Hail Fellow Dork Horders!

It is I, your faithful Lord of Dorkness here with a slightly early edition of the State of the Horde Address!

The reason I'm posting this a couple of days early is because I'm leaving this morning for a week of sleeping in the woods, eating s'mores and having every fiber of my clothing marinated in woodsmoke. That's right, I'm going camping! But I'll be back next week for more blogging fun.

I don't really have a whole lot of Horde news to report. We got exactly zero new members this month! Oh well.

I've been crazy busy lately with work and SDCC, but now things should be calmer once I get back from camping, so I plan on setting some Horde stuff into motion which will hopefully make being a member more fun a rewarding for you all and possibly even attract more members.

Also, my VROOOM! art show goes up this month, but we're not having the opening until the 17th. What that means for you all is that I can finally get back on my "Payback Series" of art pieces that I promised everyone a gazillion years ago who sent me some cool stuff. So, stay tuned for that.

Ummm... I guess that's it. See you all when I get back!


Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Avengers Movie Black Widow Action Figure is My New Girlfriend

I don't get tooo crazy about upcoming action figures like I used to. Every now and then I get a sneak peek of one and slip into just-gotta-have-it mode, but it's not as often as it used to be. I did this most recently with the latest G.I. Joe Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow figures.

But when I first saw images of the Avengers movie Black Widow figure, I instantly fell in love.

But let's be honest here; This isn't so much about a Black Widow figure as it's about the fact that I finally have a Scarlett Johansson figure. Scarlett's been on my "list" for years now, and I admit that I spent most of Iron Man 2 and The Avengers having heart palpitations and trying to keep myself from turning into a whistling cartoon wolf like in an old Tex Avery cartoon.

This is the figure that we waited for after Iron Man 2, but which never hit toy shelves. Well, it was worth the wait. Just look at this sheer gorgeousness...

One of my biggest concerns was weather or not they captured the face of Scarlett, and they didn't do too bad. From straight on, the face looks a little off...

The figure itself is brilliantly sculpted, with sublime paint applications. The simple black jumpsuit with subtle gray piping is awesome. The articulation on the figure was along the same lines and many of Hasbro's Marvel Universe figures, with pivoting elbows and those double-jointed knees that I have mixed feelings about. The look a little weird, but they can make for some kickass poses.

Black Widow comes with a matching pair Glock 26s. Her right hand is molded with a trigger finger, so she holds the gun beautifully there, but the left hand is a basic "C" grip and makes her hold her spare pistol like it's got poo on it or something. Oh well. You can also tell from this pic that the side view of her face looks much more like Scarlett.

Again, why do action figures need to come with this crap? I mean, what the hell is this thing? Lame...

To wrap up, I guess I've made it pretty clear that I love this action figure. I should probably shut up about it before I really start sounding like a total weirdo. Well, even more so that I already do, I guess.

I've so far managed to avoid buying any more of the other Avengers figures, but I may just have to go get the rest, just so I can re-enact that scene where the camera pans around and they're all looking badass and ready to fight the bad dudes from space.

But I get the feeling that I just won't feel the same about my Jeremy Renner figure as I do about this one. Which I love. In case you missed that.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Willow Movie Adaptation Paperback SUUUUUUCKS!

During a recent visit to my favorite used book store, I came across a couple of movie adaptation paperbacks from Marvel. I'm a total sucker for these. Back in the day, when a big sci-fi/fantasy/adventure movie came out in theatres, MArvel was usually there to knock out a quick 2 to 4 issue movie adaptation in standard comic book format. But often, they would release the comic in paperback form as well, for reasons unknown to me. But I always loved these as they were the perfect size for kicking back and reliving the movie while sick in bed, or under a tree at summer camp or what have you.

I have several of these and am always quick to snatch them up whenever I find one.

But today's movie adaptation paperback is by far one of the laziest, half-assed publications in Marvel's history. Which is a shame, too, because I love the movie Willow...

The first red flag rises to the top of the flagpole of shame when I realized it was in black and white. Seriously, Marvel? Heck, the Red Sonja movie adaptation paperback I have is in color and that thing is horrible. You couldn't spring for a little ink on this release?

Also, one thing that has often bothered me about these paperbacks is that they are often reformatted from the original comic book layout, meaning that each panel has to be cut out and repositioned on the page, which is jolly good and all but sometimes you end up with pages like the ones seen below, with huge empty spaces, which always seemed like such a waste to me...

Also, I don't mean to clown the artist or anything, but his take on Warwick Davis fluctuates wildly. Here he looks like some sort of Elf Quest reject in drag...

Then we have these brilliant takes on the stars of the movie. Yes, that's supposed to be Val Kilmer in the second frame...

In all fairness, not every single panel is a travesty of poor caricaturization. 

And I couldn't help but notice how the majority of the book seemed like it was made up of close ups of faces. But there is the occasional fight scene, such as the below example of how Madmartigan deals with bridge trolls.

Anyway, it's obvious that terrible art and sub-par printing quality is not enough to stop me from plunking down $2 for a book just to make fun of it.

It's too bad, really. I've always loved the movie Willow and have always though that it was a massively underrated film, full of awesome fights, brilliant magic, hilarious jokes and high adventure.\

Not that you'd know it from this book.

But as I mentioned before, I bought a couple of these on my last visit, and the second one is beautiful! But that is another story...

Friday, July 27, 2012

Top 5 Friday! My Top 5 Favorite Childhood Frozen Treats!

Well, Summer is here and it's friggin hot. Granted, scenic Seattle,Washington is downright lovely compared to the sweltering, sticky, asphalt-melting Summer days I lived through in lower Michigan when I was a kid. I'm not kidding about the asphalt. We used to regularly go out to the street and pop tar bubbles with a stick for fun. The streets were literally bubbling.

One of the best ways to stay cool back then was to enjoy a nice frozen treat, preferably after having chased down a slowly crawling ice cream truck. But when you were denied that occasional joy, most of the moms in the neighborhood were smart enough to have something in the freezer, lest they want a living room filled with sweaty, angry kids in tank tops and swimming trunks.

Here's my top 5 favorites, in no particular order...

1. Bomb Pops
Bomb Pops were a staple of ice cream trucks everywhere when I was a kid. And the Bomb Pop was always a wise purchase because it was so huge! You got a lot of frozen treat bang out of your recently begged-for change with this treat. And the bonus was finishing the treat with bright blue lips.
2. The Nutty Buddy
When I was a kid, the Nutty Buddy was an almost adult frozen treat. It was so rich and sophisticated and possessed a delicate balance of flavors unlike our usual blast of imitation fruit flavor we got from our more common treats. You didn't get these a lot back then, but when you did, it was glorious. The pure poetry of the Nutty Butty is in that last bite of cone, where just the right amount of ice cream, chocolate and caramel pooled into one taste-bud shocking capsule of deliciousness.
3. Otter Pops
As a kid, our freezer pretty much always had a healthy supply of Otter Pops in it. Moms loved them because they were dirt cheap. I loved them because they had cartoon otters on them. I only wish I had saved some of those vintage wrappers. To this day, I have Otter Pops in my freezer and have no qualms about eating 5 or 6 in one sitting.
4. Orange Push Ups
If I had to pick a number one favorite from my childhood, Push Ups just might be the winner. I ate these by the boatload as a kid. That creamy orange sherbert and the clever pushing mechanism will never be forgotten. I even loved how gross the cardboard encasing got after 100 licks from a sweaty 7 year-old. I used to keep the circular plastic piece and the little plastic stem to use as parts for my giant, homemade shoebox spaceships.

5. Sno Cones
So simple. So classic. Just ice with flavored sugar water poured over it. The beauty of Sno Cones was in the fact that they were often found at special events, like carnivals or big amusement parks, thus giving them a slightly elevated standing in the frozen treats world. The best Sno Cones were the rainbow colored ones from the ice cream trucks, though. One of my favorite aspects of the Sno Cone was how once you ate all of the rapidly melting flavored ice, there was a solid shot of fruity punch pooled in the bottom that we'd slam back like a cowboy on a sarsaparilla.

So that's it for this week's top 5 list! Tune in next week, where I'll ramble on about other lings I like (or maybe dislike) in multiples of 5.

But since we're on the subject, what's your favorite frozen treat of yesteryear?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tales from the 25¢ Bin! Superman Edition!

I've talked about my life-long distaste for Superman several times here on the blog, and I've also gone into how over the past year or two, that distaste has somewhat dissipated. I think it has something to do with getting older. I've noticed that as I age, my dislikes have lost a lot of their venom and a small voice has begun to whisper out from the back of my mind things like, "But why don't you like it? Have you given it another chance recently? What could it hurt?"

I've done the same thing with shrimp and NFL football. Getting older is weird.

Anyway, I've dipped my toe into the world of Superman a little in the past year and my latest trip to the 25¢ bin seemed to me like a message from the comic book gods that it is time again to go a little deeper into the pool when I spotted these vintage Superman books. And since I do my best to pay close attention to what the comic book gods are telling me, I snapped them up.

First up is this issue of Superman Family from 1976. I love this issue because it reminds me of the era and style of the few Superman comics I remember having as a kid (often procured in batches from garage sales). Also, I was always a fan of these "family" books, especially the Batman Family ones, since you got several stories, often starring one of the more obscure characters.

Next up, we have a copy of a Superman comic from the time period when I really started hating the character. This came out when I was in 8th grade and by then I was a full blown Batman fanatic and as you know, when you're an 8th grader, everything is all or nothing. So I got it in my head that if I was a Batman fan, I had to hate Superman. Weird. But I will say one thing, I love the heck out of John Byrne, so this issue shows promise.

Next up is probably one of the greatest Superman covers I have ever seen. What romance! What elegant art! I'm gonna read the heck out of this one!

Here we see Supergirl being a douche. Whatever.

Now we're talking! This next comic has one of my favorite villains ever, Bizarro! I always thought that the concept that there is a twisted, backwards, evil doppelganger out there for everyone captured my imagination as a kid. I always want to read (and I have a vague memory of this) a comic where every DC superhero had a Bizarro of their very own. Imagine a Bizarro Batman! I wonder if I have a Bizarro me out there somewhere.

Ummm... I don't have much to say about this one. It was a quarter.

And finally, I grabbed this issue of Superboy. Can you believe that this is 100 pages of comic book for 50¢? Now we get, what? 22 pages? For $3.99? What a joke.

I never really understood Superboy. Is he just Clark Kent when he was younger? Then when did he start being super? I mean, there's a story here where he's a baby in a red cape, for cryin' out loud. Wouldn't people all over the world know about this Super Baby? And wouldn't they know he lived with the Kents in Smallville? It completely destroys his whole alter ego. And for that matter, when he was a boy, he didn't wear glasses. So he just had the same face whether he was Superboy or not. I'm so confused.

Anyway, that's it for this edition of Tales from the 25
¢ Bin! Now I'm gonna curl up in my reading chair and catch up on some serious Superman action!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

League of Extraordinary Bloggers Weekly Theme: Green Things!

This week's topic: Things That Are Green

I'm finally back to join in on the fun with the League of Extraordinary Bloggers! I missed the last two (which I'm mighty sad about, since they were great topics -  now none of you will ever know what makes me cry), so I'm all revved up to get started on this week's post!

Brian (our fellow Horde member and leader of the League over at Cool & Collected) has kept it simple for us this week with a pretty open-ended topic; Things That Are Green.

I admit, my knee-jerk reaction was to grab as many green toys as I could find and put them all in a pic together, but then I stumbled onto a long forgotten comic con purchase (from last year's SDCC) that I never blogged about. And guess what? They happened to be green from (rotten) head to (missing) toe.

I'm talking about my Mutagen Edition Z.O.M.B.I.E. figures from October Toys!

 Z.O.M.B.I.E. stands for "Zillions Of Mutated Bodies Infecting Everyone". This is one of those killer little plastic figure sets from the same guys that brought us those beyond-awesome M.U.S.C.L.E. homage figures known as OMFG. I bought these on a total whim during my first visit to SDCC last year, and for whatever reason, they got a little lost in the avalanche of other swag I brought home from that trip.

But I like to think that perhaps they were just biding their time for when I would one day need to write a post about something green and just happen to look inside a long forgotten box in the back of the Nerdatorium's Closet of Doom.

I don't know about zillions, but you do get 5 little bright green, translucent undead figures in each bag. I guess the bright green, see-through look is what makes them "Mutagen Edition". I have no idea what the original series looked like, and quite frankly, I'm too lazy to look it up right now.

Having taken a closer look at these figures, I'm now kicking myself for not opening them sooner! I'm a sucker for these off beat Army-man-style figures anyway, but these disgusting little buggers take the cake.

Let's take a look at them individually.

First up we have what I have named Mongo the Cat Eater. At first I thought it was some sort of zombie old man holding some sort of garbage or whatever. Closer inspection proved that this is in fact a zombie gorilla holding a cat. Seriously, guys... that's messed up.

Next we have the one I call Johnny Armless. Once a stand-up bass player in a rockabilly band, he now spends his days lumbering through the streets in search of brains. His hair is still perfect, though.

Here we have what appears to be a naked dude in a bath towel with what may be a Life Alert necklace on and holding either a Mr. microphone or a wooden spoon. This one may be weirder than the cat-eating gorilla.

Here we have a zombie of a little boy, who I'm naming Jeff, because when I was a kid, I was tormented for years by this older kid next door to me named Jeff and I'd like nothing more than the thought of him being a zombie that walks around having to hold his intestines off the ground. Ha! Take that, Jeff! You big, fat, stupid zombie face!

And finally, we have Trixie Von Polldancer, who's probably my favorite out of this set because, well... boobs. Also, I know she's undead and all, but I sort of have a thing for green women.

Also from the League:

Please see the complete list of posts from the Extraordinary League of Bloggers and show their blogs some love. Thanks!

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Dark Knight Hot Wheels 5 Pack!

Only a week after I stood in front of the actual Tumbler from the Dark Knight, I stumbled across this gorgeous 1:64 scale beauty, perfect for my movie and TV toy vehicle collection! And it was just a bit of a bonus that it came with a few other vehicle that one would see racing through the streets of Gotham City.

I just had to have this sweet ride to add to my Batmobile collection. Look at that sleek, matte black menace to criminals!, Granted, the Tumbler is not exactly my favorite Batmobile, but it is an important slice of silver screen Batman history. My only quibble with the toy is the yellow windows. Gloss black or smoked windows would have been better, in my opinion. But again, that's a small nit pick.

In the I Would Have Loved This As a Kid category, this Gotham City PD patrol car is actually pretty sweet. When I was a kid, I always loved my Metropilis PD patrol car from Ertl (or was it Corgi?), and of course, I had to have no less than three Hazzard County Sheriff's cars.

One of my favorites from this set is this Gotham City armored transport vehicle. The chrome on it is spectacular! And besides, you need something for the Joker to rob, right?

Speaking of the Joker, the set comes with this sort of "Joker Jalopy". While it's cool, it's not based on anything from movies or TV that the Joker ever drove. Basically, when a company releases a set like this, it's going to contain a few repaints to save on tooling costs and whatnot. It's cool, but I'm not doing cartwheels over it.

And while we're talking about underwhelming vehicles, if this repainted helicopter was a robot, it would be named Lame-a-Tron 5000. There's nothing about this chopper that screams "Batman". It looks like a big mechanical bee. Still, I suppose that the folks at Hot Wheels had a slot to fill and they filled it.

Overall, this set is killer! Like I said, I only really wanted the Tumbler (I don't think it was ever released individually, but someone correct me on that if I'm wrong), and at a whopping $4.49, you can't beat it.

I'm seriously fighting the urge to get down on the kitchen floor right now and have a harrowing chase with the Joker Jalopy trying to run the armored car off the road, a hapless GCPD patrol car giving chase, and coming up fast from behind, and gaining rapidly, is the one and only Batman.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

"Bat Fink" Sketch

Working on a new possible project for my company, by boss asked me to sketch up a quick "Batman meets Rat Fink" drawing. It was just nice to pout some actual ink on actual paper again. Just thought I'd share. I really hope something comes of this project.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Uh Oh... I Think I May Have Just Become a Tech Deck Collector!

I haven't really mentioned this on the blog, as I'm not really sure if this fits into the "geek" theme here at the Lair, but I have recently reignited an interest in skateboarding. This must be yet another manifestation of my mid-life crisis (I'm about to hit the big four oh).

I started skating just like every other kid on Earth back in the mid 80s, during skateboarding's 3rd resurgence, with the rise of Powell Peralta and the reign of Tony Hawk and Lance Mountain. I skated like a maniac all through middle school and a bit into high school. Later, in my early 20s, I would rediscover skating and find myself on a board again for the next few years. A nasty head-first collision with some concrete, complete with concussion, got me off of my deck permanently. Or so I thought.

My most recent reconnection with skateboarding started a couple of years ago with the purchase of a new longboard, which is basically like a skateboard for old guys, content with surfing the sidewalks and paved park trails. (I suppose I was also influenced by all of the skateboard related artwork I was assigned to create at my t-shirt/toy design gig.) I had come to really love my longboard, and have been casually riding it for a while when early one one morning, while most sane people slept, I got it in my head to grab my vintage Valterra Dragon deck and to head on up to the new nearby skate park. Luckily, the place was deserted since most kids didn't get up to skate at 6:00 AM on a Sunday morning.

Long story short, I had a blast and went out that day to buy a new street deck, some pads and a helmet.

I've since been heading up to the skate park about every other morning (I usually need a day for my sore muscles and knees to heal), but that is another story.

Today, we're going to talk about how my new-found love for skateboarding has clashed with my penchant for toy collecting, when both aspects of my life lined up like the suns and moons of the Dark Crystal as I found myself staring at a display of little toy skateboards called Tech Decks.

I have walked past the Tech Decks at Target and Toys R Us a million times while on my search for action figures and Lego minifigures. But now that I was a totally radical skate rat again, I found myself taking a closer look at these little four-wheeled wonders. And what little strength I had against buying any of them crumbled when I saw this sweet Black Label longboard. What's that? It's only $3.49? One thrid the price of an action figure? Done. Take my money.

The board itself is a work of pure beauty. I guess the Tech Deck people have really mastered the art of applying crisp, clean graphics on their products, and they would have to, because that's pretty much what these bad boys are all about. Sure, you can do all kinds of little finger tricks with them, but I'm a stranger to all of that. I'll learn some moves soon, but until then, I'm just loving the graphics on the deck.

Each Tech Deck comes with a slew of killer miniature skate gear. Grip tape, wheels, stickers. This one also came with some sort of sticky gel-pad thing that supposed to help you do tricks with your deck, but that didn't really interest me.

Putting the grip tape on the board was pretty easy and it didn't take me long to get the tape lined up with the truck screws.

One of the coolest features of Tech Decks is how you get to change out the wheels. There was nothing sweeter back in middle school than when I finally got a bright orange set of new Slime Ball wheels and put them on my deck. This was like living that moment all over again, only on a really teeny, tiny scale.

Surprisingly, despite their almost microscopic size, the wheels came off pretty easily.

I switched them out for the set of black wheels. I sort of liked the white wheels better, but I wanted to experience changing the wheels on one of these. Look how tiny that nut is! (That's what she said.) It takes a steady hand to switch out the wheels, but I managed.

Oh man, now that I look at it, this Black Label deck looks even more badass with the black wheels on it!

As I mentioned before, the deck came with a small sheet of stickers. I didn't want to grime up the graphics too much, so I just chose one small sticker and applied it near the tail.

Seriously, I think I'm hooked. These things are just too damn cool. I actually bought a few of these, so get ready ready for more Tech Deck reviews/show-and-tells. In fact, I may have to do some more general skateboarding posts. Sure, it's not necessarily a "geeky" subject, but I sure am geeking out on it. So, get ready kids.

Hey! Check out Frank! He's totally shredding! Actually, he really should be wearing a helmet.