Thursday, 17 August 2017

Quick Crappy Review: Max Factory Figma Action Figure Series 314: Leafa (Sword Art Online II)

It’s time for boobs and incest! The twin hearts of anime!


In these photos that Leafa's left hand is always the same despite swapping hands being a major part of the toy, this is because the peg broke off while i was swapping hands (y'know, what the toy's supposed to do) to take these photos and I had to superglue on the hand I intended to use for display. It's also why the pictures are a bit boring, so if you'd always wanted to see Leafa lined up with the Planeteers using an amulet and the cry 'incest' to help call Captain Planet, I'm sorry - blame Max Factory. Figmra really are a quality control quagmire. 


Well this turned up quicker than I expected. Sword Art Online seems to have settled into being the Nickleback of anime, it’s very popular but no one ever seems to admit to liking it, well fuck that I like Silver Side Up and Sword Art Online is one of my favourite anime. Being a contrary fucker like I am it wasn’t the opening Aincrad arc (where the characters are stuck in a virtual reality MMORPG where death in the game equals death in real life) that won me over (it has pacing issues) but later, less popular story-arcs – especially Phantom Bullet and Mother’s Rosario - and to be a really contrary fucker I loved the Fairy Dance arc. The common complaint I’ve read is that without the threat of dying the arc loses a lot of its weight and stakes, and the incest thing, I thought the incest thing was adorable and I’d argue that the arc simply has different stakes, Aincrad was about survival while Fairy Dance is a race against time, the longer Kirito leaves it the closer Asuna gets to becoming a sex toy and if he takes too long that slimy fucker Sugou will consummate the marriage of Oberon and Titania regardless of Titania’s feelings on the matter – I’d argue that racing to stop your wife being raped repeatedly is a good enough replacement for making sure you don’t die.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Quick Crappy Review: Hasbro Marvel Legends Marvel’s Sandman Series Ms. Marvel


Hey it’s the first Marvel Legends figure to get a Quick Crappy Review! That’s because I hold the uncommon and unpopular opinion that Marvel Legends are often a bit shit, which should do wonders for my already terrible view count.  In truth some of it’s me, I have a lot of emotional baggage and some of it is connected to superhero collector’s figures (because of course) but some of it is the same issues Marvel figures have had since Toy Biz: unappealing art style (sculpt style?), horribly obviously joints, ridiculous muscle definition, terrible faces and ugly paint washes, troubles that Hasbro has only been overcoming once or twice a wave in the last two years or so. Please don’t hate me.


Anyway Ms. Marvel is from the Marvel’s Sandman wave of Marvel Legends because Hasbro decided the best thing for their Legends series was to forgo silly shit like numbers and name ‘em after the build-a-figure. Sometimes a wave also uses a character name or film title (e.g. Captain America: The Winter Soldier) but this series doesn’t, it’s themed around Spider-Man and considered a Spider-Man wave but the web-swinger’s name or logo doesn’t’ appear anywhere on the packaging bar the names of the figures (cos there’s a figure called ‘Spider-Man’ in this wave). Ms. Marvel is this wave’s ‘guest star’, Hasbro have settled on a nice habit of throwing in a roughly thematic but mostly unrelated character or two per wave as a way of getting those characters out i.e. Death’s Head II in the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 wave or Sister Grimm in the Doctor Strange wave. Funnily enough, those ‘guest stars’ are usually the ones I buy.

Friday, 11 August 2017

A Look At... Ex-Mutants: The Saga Begins

It’s been over a year since I had A Look At anything without a Sonic character in the book, that’s quite unacceptable.

So the story behind Ex-Mutants then:
The concept came from a conversation between Eternity editor William Davidson and Eternity publisher Kevin Myers with the basic setup coming from the latter. Created as a jab at the black and white independent books that had sprung up in the wake of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle’s success (as a comic book) the gag was going to be that the whole set-up was a complete inversion of TMNT and its pretenders, the characters would be the only humans in a world filled with mutants and the title would be Young Ex-Mutant Samurai Humans. Ugh, thank god they got David Lawrence on board to write it, well actually ‘they’ didn’t, Eternity went to Campiti & Associates, a provider of comic book ‘packages’ – this used to be a big thing in the 1940s, basically a company that hires comic book artists and writers and produces comics that are then sold on to publishers, Will Eisner used to have one and Jack Kirby used to work for one, just as examples. Anyway Campiti & Associates bright in Lawrence (and Campiti is credited as co-creator of the characters in issue 1) and also Ron Lim, yes THAT Ron Lim, the bloke who drew Silver Surfer and Iron Man and all that, this was back when he had a style.

Top to Bottom: Angela, Erin, Lorelei, Vikki, Belushi
Then it gets complicated, Ex-Mutants was given a shorter, better title to match the more serious book that Lawrence & Lim had turned the concept into and released, it was a big hit and sold over 75,000 copies for Eternity Comics. However at roughly the same time it was being a hit there was problems behind-the-scenes between Eternity bigwig Brian Marshall, David Campiti (of Campiti & Associates), some creators and a bloke named Scott Mitchell Rosenberg who also owned Malibu Comics, a distribution company and was financing Eternity. To settle the row Rosenberg came up with the novel idea of just giving each of the rowing parties their own comic companies, Campiti was put in charge of Amazing Comics and Wonder Color Comics so Ex-Mutants moved over. Amazing Comics printed Ex-Mutants 2-5 and was supposed to print the Ex-Mutants spin-off The New Humans; they also reprinted a revamped and expanded version of Ex-Mutants #1 as Ex-Mutants: The Special Edition. Then people stopped getting paid, then office equipment stopped getting paid for, then The Comics Journal revealed Rosenberg’s involvement with Eternity, Amazing and Wonder Color, then rumours began to circulate that Rosenberg was going to dump everything but Malibu, then Rosenberg dumped everything but Malibu (Eternity was kept as an imprint). The Campini people jumped ship before the dumping, taking Ex-Mutants with them and self-publishing through Pied Piper Comics, they published Ex-Mutants issues 6-8, The New Humans and the first issue of the Ex-Mutants Micro Series (Ex-Mutants Micro Series: Erin #1), plus some issues of Wild Knights (another spin-off, they appear in this story we’re Looking At). However there was a legal battle over ownership of Ex-Mutants, in the end Lawrence and Lim couldn’t afford to keep fighting so threw in the towel and the rights to everything reverted to Eternity. Eternity reprinted issues 6 & 7 as special 40 page editions (but not issue 8) and Ex-Mutants Micro-Series: Erin #1 and the unpublished Ex-Mutants Micro Series: Vikki #1 as the first two issues of Solo Ex-Mutants. Ex-Mutants would then be relaunched under Malibu with a different set of characters – that’s what the Mega Drive game is based off by the way.


Eternity also re-printed the first three issues of Ex-Mutants as a small graphic novel called Ex-Mutants Volume 1: The Saga Begins which I found at an indoor market while on holiday in Devon (that market was immense, a mix of flea market, bootsale and farmer’s market but held in giant old metal cattle barns). I was very new to American comics at the time and just assumed it was an X-Men book from the 1980s I didn’t know about. I was wrong obviously (although I’m sure others made the same mistake, at least they better’ve had or I’ll feel REALLY stupid and I don’t want that) but I remained fascinated, it was filled with mutants and tits and I was about 12 so it’s not too surprising I got into it and you know they’re still two of the things I like about the book today *sigh* I’m pathetic. Anyway I’ve been meaning to do something on the Ex-Mutants since I started blogging, this is what you’re getting so are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin:

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Examples of Crap I Waste My Money On: Bootsale Report 15

I really like bootsales, I know I grouse about them on here sometimes and they are filled with inconveniences (or ‘other buyer’s as that’s also known as) and the occasional utter wanker selling: today while enquiring about the price of a large bendy Ned the Noodle (an old Pot Noodle mascot) a woman asked me to give her a price, knowing nothing about Ned the Noodle other than he worked for Pot Noodle I offered her £2 (I dunno) – she scoffed and told me she wanted  £13 because he’s £20 on eBay – if you know how much you want, why fucking ask me to name a price? To get the chance to feel superior? You’re that desperate for that feeling that you need to use Ned the fucking Noodle dolls to achieve it? I didn’t buy Ned.
But I do love bootsales, they’re car-crash fascinating, they’re usually relevant to my interests and they’re always unpredictable. I haven’t ‘done a bootsale’ (that is, sell at one) since I was about 15 but my grandad died last winter and we were left with a shed (and half a loft) full of his old fishing gear so we finally got around to setting up a stall at my local bootsale haunt, Dunton Bootsale, and outing all this dark green stuff that he’d accumulated over decades of having only one hobby. We did really well if you’re interested, Dunton has a bunch of really good fishing good stalls that turn up every well so a lot of fishermen get down there and the dealers who run those stalls are always happy to buy new stock of clueless civilians like us. My morning was a stream of quirky 50-somethings, boxes of old toys and a disturbingly large amount of taxidermy (what was up with that Dunton Bootsale bods? Stuffed dead things were bleedin’ everywhere) and that is not a bad way to spend the day of rest. I also did exceedingly well as a buyer, hauling a sack of goodies home with me, and I do mean a sack of goodies, here is my literal sack of goodies:


And here is that sack of goodies, all cleaned up and in a lovely group shot:


Considering that’s all toys the variety is noteworthy and delightful: stuff ranging from the early 1980s to things still on store shelves now (hopefully you can make out the Indominus Rex behind the Halloween Bears, if you can’t that’s ok, IT CAN CAMOUFLARRRGE after all); from the collectible to things that aren’t worth shit (I paid 25p for that Bayformer and I still feel I overpaid – but Slag’s my favourite Dinobot and I couldn’t help it); from playsets to cereal prizes. Now I’m gonna talk about some for a paragraph apiece! You’re so lucky! And as always I’m not saying these are the best buys, the best bargains or objectively or subjectively the best things in that photo they’re just the ones I can get a paragraph of babble out of (and it’s a good shopping trip when you don’t need to highlight such great scores as a Rogun or a still-carded Babylon 5 figure) so are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll being: 

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Cool Spot and Candyman present: 3 1990s Memories!


So I was reading a post on site Dinosaur Dracula about old comic book ads, I couldn’t sleep and I kill time like this. The first two ads were for Soda-Licious sweets starring 7-UP’s Cool Spot and the film Candyman and I realised that these two completely unrelated things are coincidentally responsible for two of my most vivid memories from the same period of my childhood (roughly late 1993, I would have been 7). I also realised that I hadn’t told anyone either of these stories, not family, not friends, there is nobody in my life or who has been in my life in the last 10 years who knows these two things, if I die tomorrow no one will ever know these things about me. I wasn’t happy with that. I was suffering from heavy bout of depression and with it long, extreme panic attacks so I wasn’t exactly emotionally stable and the thought that no one would ever know the story about me and Candyman upset me, so I wrote both stories out on Word, along the way I added a third story that was in the same boat because the Cool Spot story reminded me of it. Now I’m going to share them with the internet so that at least one person knows them and sleep a little easier. So are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll being:     


Me and Cool Spot
For a while I completely worshipped Cool Spot, I should have just built an alter made out of 7-UP bottles and those horrible cheap sunglasses they sold by the counter and honestly I did so much weird shit by myself when I was under 10 that I can’t say for certain I didn’t. Spot or Cool Spot was a mascot for 7-UP, he was introduced in 1987 and was an anthropomorphic version of the big red circle in the 7-UP logo, he also wore sunglasses and trainers because that’s what cool people do. The Spot was never used to promote 7-UP here in the UK (Fido Dido was, more on that in a minute) but the video game Cool Spot was released. It makes more sense than you think, Cool Spot looked and played like any other me-too mascot platformer that came out in the wake of Sonic the Hedgehog’s success and it was developed by Virgin Games – who were a British firm. I latched the fuck onto this game and if you’d’ve asked me at the time I’d’ve said it was my second favourite, behind only Sonic the Hedgehog 2, I rated this thing that much – I still think it’s a decent (if a little unforgiving) 2D platformer but then I wouldn’t expect anything else from a game programmed by David ‘The Earthworm Jim Bloke’ Perry. To me Cool Spot was as big as any video game star, if I drew a picture of video game stars (a fairly common occurrence) he’d be on there alongside Sonic, Mario, Link and Pac-Man, when my grandad gave me a fancy wooden wine bottle box to store my Mega Drive cartridges in I drew Cool Spot on it – again putting him in the same league as Sonic, Knuckles, Ecco, the Ferrari Testarossa and Alex Kidd. But the memory that I stumbled across, the point of this segment is this:
One day while wandering around in my garden I decided to create my own garden, the best of gardens, and sat down to drawn it. I drew everything the same way at this point, in biro on Computer Paper – that’s what we all called it, my mum used to ‘get’ it from work and it was neither A4 nor A3 – I insisted this was the way to get the best results, I eventually learned what a pencil was. I thought I still had this drawing and had it scanned but I don’t, I’m sorry, but I can remember it shocking vividly, I also remember that I didn’t finish it. It was a big garden, there was a few things I’d still put a my dram garden today (fibre-glass dinosaurs and a swimming pool) and some stuff that society and advertising had taught me was cool in late ’93 early ’94 , it included a skate park for instance even though I could not and still cannot skateboard in any way that doesn’t involve me sitting on the board and drinking juice cartons but it wasn’t for me anyway it was for all the cool friends having this awesome garden would absolutely guarantee me, I used to imagine being 13 and being part of a gang fairly often then, everyone had bomber jackets, Converse All-Stars and sunglasses and I was thin. Getting back to the point though is that below the skate park was my fountain, because all big gardens need one and it was a Cool Spot themed fountain where in the centre water would squirt and raise Spot into the air (this is genuinely a thing that water features can do, I don’t know if they can lift a large statue of a fizzy drink mascot but it’s legit thing). I was so into this food mascot who I didn’t even know was a food mascot that immortalizing him in thousands of pounds worth of marble fountain wasn’t even a maybe but just something that obviously had to be. It was one of the first things I thought of if I remember correctly ‘in my dream garden I must have…a swimming pool, a Cool Spot fountain, dinosaurs…”.

Me and Fido Dido
While we’re on the very specific subject of 7-UP mascots: The Fido Dido Jacket. Fido Dido was the mascot for 7-UP in the UK for a long time, a lot longer than in the states because we never had Spot, and I still consider him to be THE mascot for the brand, it’s Tony the Tiger or Ronald McDonald or whathaveya. Turns out he’s not owned by PepsiCo but was licenced, he was created by two women from New York (Joanna Ferrone and Sue Rose, who is the horrible human being responsible for inflicting Angela Anaconda on the world) and dates back to 1985, who knew. Anyway I grew up in (and currently live in) a town called Collier Row which is in Romford (it’s next door to Romford itself), it’s built around a roundabout (Americans: those are circular things you drive cars around) with four streets coming off it in a rough X shape, this is ‘up the top’ where our shops all are. For a while my mum and nan worked in a ‘cheap shop’ called Saint’s – I miss it so –which was on the same side as the Library (it was about two shops up from it actually) where there was also for a while this clothing shop that sold, amongst other things, bomber jackets. It was run by a short Indian gentleman who had a really full head of hair and shouted a lot, that’s all I remember about it other than the Fido Dido Jackets.
He used to hang them from his shop’s canopy; they were that shiny material and used to shimmer in the sun like Aztek treasure. I lusted after them so badly, I used to stand and stare at them to the sounds of the owner shouting at someone (I presume it was at someone, he could have just been insane). I’m pretty sure they each had Fido Dido wearing a Fido Dido bomber jacket (meta?) with his back turned, but turning around to look at ‘the camera’, I wanted to be as cool as Fido Dido. I was weirdly obsessed with the concept of cool as a kid, I blame Sonic the Hedgehog, my weird preconceived notions about coolness and what it meant meant I never told anyone about my wanting for these jackets except maybe a passing mention to my mum in the most fake-casual way a child can mention something. They weren’t particularly expensive and I’m sure my mum or nan would have got me one as my winter coat that year had I asked but I assumed the following: because they were so cool (and shiny) they were really expensive, further I didn’t understand the concept of ‘unofficial’ (read: bootleg) back then and would never have thought that something was anything more than 100% official if it featured a ‘proper’ person or character and not a knock-off and 100% official meant it was expensive (I’d learnt this via knock-off action figures, seriously); that I simply wasn’t allowed to own such a jacket because I was too young and too uncool to do so, so I shouldn’t ask for one because it wasn’t appropriate. Instead I just stopped and stared at the shiny jackets with the 7-UP mascot who looked a bit too much like Gary Rhodes and imagined being roughly 13 and owning one (because they would never go out of style and never not be available in my hometown) walking down the street with a posse of similarly attired youths.
Also it always struck me as really wrong that Fido Dido jackets came in anything other than green, I think it still would today.    

Me and Candyman
Fuck Candyman, oh don’t get me wrong Candyman is a superb horror film and easily one of the finest of its decade but fuck Candyman because Candyman manged to traumatise me for around a month as a child and I hadn’t even seen the bloody thing (also because it’s all one word and that upsets Microsoft World, this paragraph is filled with angry jaggedy red lines, cross at me for ignoring them when I clearly have a word spelt wrong and need to change it). Candyman came out in 1992 when I was 6 so no one at school had seen it, a couple of kids claimed they had but I knew their parents for fuck’s sake and they would never let them watch shit like Candyman but the kids with older siblings or bastard parents had been told about the film’s plot or overheard about the film’s plot and the legend of Candyman. For those who haven’t seen it Candyman is just Bloody Mary but a big black bloke with only one hand and an awesome dress sense, you say ‘Candyman’ three times in front of a mirror and he turns up and kills your ass dead. While writing this I remembered the name of the little bastards who told me about this legend, it was fucking Sammi-Jo and Jason and Sammi-Jo still lives ‘round here so I think I may have to extract twisted revenge. Anyway these two giggling little turds told me about it and my six year old mind took it completely at face value, I wasn’t so much scared of the Candyman coming out the mirror but that I wouldn’t be able to stop myself from doing it when in front of a mirror and thus dooming myself. We had a lot of mirrors in my house, there was a big one in the hall, one in the bog obviously and my mum’s bedroom was and is still boarded with wardrobes with mirrored doors. So I couldn’t piss, leave the house or get a clean t-shirt (my room was so tiny I stored my clothes in my mum’s room) without the temptation to call upon the Candyman. 
Then I had to spend the night sleeping in my mum’s room, I  can only assume I was ill because that was usually the only time I slept in there (it was cooler, closer to the loo and the bed was closer to the ground) and I woke up in the middle of the night and laying all rolled up like a terrified little hotdog I gave in and whispered Candyman three times out loud and then shat myself and waited for death. Which didn’t come – no surprise there, I hate to ruin it for everyone but even if you want to believe Bloody Mary might work Candyman never does because Candyman is not based on a real-world legend it’s based on a short story by Clive Barker. But because I didn’t know that at the time I was instead convinced that Candyman was just waiting for the right moment and for a good four weeks afterwards I was as uptight as a priest on trial because I knew that any moment Candyman was going to lean out any reflective surface at any moment and slash me open. Oh yeah, because no one had seen the film the rough image I’d been given of Candyman was that he was a tall bald Black man (mostly true, he had hair) in a huge fur coat with a huge collar (sort of true, I was told more along the lines of John Ruth that Isaac Hayes) with an all metal version of Freddy Krueger’s glove (not true at all). I do mean any reflective surface btw, I remember walking through a small shopping centre in Romford called The Liberty and shitting myself past shops like WH Smiths because I thought Candyman might lunge out from between signs advertising Ruth Rendell and GamesMaster Magazine and collect the debt owed him. Eventually I just got more and more confident that he wasn’t coming and the worry subsided, notice that I didn’t say that I realised Candyman didn’t exist, that never occurred to me and I had no idea until I went to senior school that Candyman was a film, I just assumed he hadn’t heard me or because I wasn’t standing facing the mirror it didn’t count or something like that.
What’s saddest about this is that sometimes I still have nightmares where I’m lying in my mum’s bed, all rolled up like a hotdog and can’t stop myself from whispering Candyman three times. Tony Todd never turns up in it and guts me though; the fear just comes from being unable to stop myself. So if you live in the UK, when you see a news report that someone has smeared a 12 foot high ‘I never forgot’ in cowshit on the house of one Sammi-Jo of Romford, Essex you know where to send the police.


I feel better. I think I should probably feel embarrassed about revealing these to the world but I was 7! Everyone does stupid shit when they’re under 10, it’s not like it reflects badly on them as adults, well unless they killed someone I guess - but I didn’t kill anyone, at least not that I or you can prove. Ta for reading me go on about food mascots and slasher villains, you’re all wonderful. 

Monday, 31 July 2017

Examples of Crap I Waste My Money On: LFCC Summer 2017 Edition!

So about twice a year Showmasters hold the London Film and Comic Con and I’m of the opinion that ‘LFCC’ has become the best of the three big nerdcons held in London throughout the year (LFCC, MCM and Hyper Japan): it has the biggest amount of dealers with the best variety of wares and the biggest names for autograph hunters, MCM is a bigger event but LFCC is the better event. I don’t usually have much nice to say about Showmasters, they developed a reputation with me for being unable to organize a piss-up in a brewery let alone a comic, film and general all-purpose geekery convention but I’ve been bloody impressed with their last two efforts (this and the last MCM), however I didn’t do any autographs and I went on Sunday both times so so long as you don’t want to do one of the cornerstones of a convention or go on the main day of said convention, my opinion is good.  I had a marvellous time; it wasn’t too busy (except for the odd bottleneck but whatchagonnado these things happen, if Disney still hasn’t eliminated ‘em completely we shouldn’t expect Showmasters to be able to do it) with a nice relaxed atmosphere in the dealer area with some very amiable new sellers; I know the wait times for some of the signing times were pretty extreme (Kevin Smith for instance, I dunno about Alyson Hannigan, I’m not allowed within 50ft of her anymore) but I didn’t see anyone getting irate over there either; loads of superb cosplayers; a new pop-up maid café (didn’t get time to eat there but we did chat to a maid, Nikki I think); nice easy to access panels and generally an effortless experience all ‘round. But who cares, let’s talk about stuff:


LFCC is my ‘shopping convention’, I put money away especially for it because, again, it always has the best dealers in the biggest quantities and it does not disappoint. I waver, sometimes I’m all about quantity, sometimes I’m all about quality (this con was a quality day) but usually I pick up a variety of things – some toys, some trading cards, a book or two, the odd inexplicable thing – but this con it was all toys and nearly all figural. I honestly feel a bit annoyed at myself (I worry about becoming obsessive) but the reason for this is simple: competition, or the lack thereof: there was so much good stuff on the toy stalls that the others couldn’t compete. So this isn’t going to be a very varied Examples of Crap I Waste My Money On but it is going to feature aliens, aliens, more aliens and alien robots so are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Spawn Spree IV

Meh, given that this has taken six months, it’s less a spree and more a marathon in multiple parts.

Anyway, welcome to the fourth instalment of Spawn Spree, where I type some meaningless bullshit about six old McFarlane Toys action figures because it seems like the whole world turned against them roughly six months after Neca released their first toys and I often feel totally alone in being a fan of them. Today’s Sensational Seven include Mecha Spawn, Possibly Culturally Insensitive Spawn, Lady Spawn, Spawn’s Boss, a bison and me moaning about how I’m stupid and can’t pronounce a word from one day to the next – tantalizing!
So are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin:

 
Manga Spawn
Spawn Series 9 (1997)
The Spawn figure that you can own without someone knowing you own a Spawn figure! Manga Spawn’s one of the few Spawn figures that retains a high resale value and could conceivably be called ‘sought after’ and I want to think it’s because it’s the coolest Spawn figure made – Spawn reimagined as a mecha samurai with insect wings – but I’m sure it has as much to do with the continued popularity of anime and the fact that this could slot into anyone’s collection of mech figures, model kits and kinkeshi without anyone batting an eyelid. This is really the best use of McFarlane Toys’ love affair with detail, applying it to mech takes the figure from looking busy to just looking like the inspiration and things like giant blades, spikes and big white Ms on chests work perfectly within the genre, so by doing nothing different they ended up making a Spawn figure that looks nothing like a Spawn figure? Dumb luck? Probably but I like to think someone put some thought into things and was vindicated. I got to use vindicated, correctly, in a Spawn-based post and it wasn’t a pun, I feel proud of myself – very proud. What was I doing? Oh yeah writing a pretty sensible review of this figure, why was I doing that? I bought this with some money I was gifted for Christmas, I bring this up because if Christmas was a Gundam, it would look like Manga Spawn