Thursday, 15 September 2016

AFB's Top 10 Gen 13 Stories!*

I’ve had this half-finished since just after I posted up that Gen 13 Trading Card Theatre post but my attention span is sometimes short.

Gen 13 was Jim Lee’s surprise success for his Image Comics imprint Wildstorm Entertainment. Originally it was advertised as Gen X but Marvel got involved, this was around the time Marvel was going to debut their own Generation X so that could have been a factor. After the team debuted in the much maligned Deathmate the series launched with a mini-series drawn by Wildstorm’s new sensation J. Scott Campbell (Danger Girl) and then had its own ongoing shortly thereafter, again drawn by Campbell until he went off to form another Image Comics imprint – Cliffhanger. Eventually the book was relaunched and all but one of the team members was killed (spoilers) to make way for Chris Claremont to write the third volume, this wasn’t a very well received idea. Gen13 had A LOT of mini-series and 1-shots as well as a second ongoing called Gen 13: Bootleg which did the same job as the mini’s and specials and allowed other creators to work on the characters – and apparently they were queuing up to do so.

So who are Gen 13? Well they’re a group of Gen-Active teens who were rescued from a secret government operation called I.O. by a former I.O. employee and fellow Gen-Active John Lynch. Gen-Actives are just Wildstorm’s version of Marvel’s Mutants. After escaping and hiding out in L.A. Jolla (where the company that published them also just so happened to be' based) they get themselves a dimension hopping teleporting green rat-monkey called Queelocke who is so adorable, and Anna, a robot housekeeper who kicks so much arse. The team soon learn that most of them are the decedents of Team 7, a government team that linked the Wildstorm universe and included Lynch, Grifter, Backlash and Deathblow. The rescued kids are: Fairchild, a dorky redhead who became a super strong and indestructible amazon; Freefall – Caitlin’s spunky and rebellious half-sister (as it turns out) who control’s gravity and is Queelocke’s ‘owner’; her boyfriend Grunge who’s a well-meaning idiot who can take on the properties of whatever material he touches (rock, sand, water, bubblegum, lint onetime if I recall); Native American lesbian Rainmaker who’s very pro-social justice and is just Storm in terms of powers and Burnout, Lynch’s son who’s a guitarist with a crush on Rainmaker and is just the Human Torch in terms of powers. Fairchild was kind-of the main character, at one point Wildstorm bragged that more dorm rooms had their life-size Fairchild poster on their doors than Pamela Anderson’s; I doubt this is true but I kind of hope it was.
Anyway I’ve been fond of Gen13 since I was about 13 so I’ve decided to tell you my top 10 Gen 13 stories in the hope that you will read at least one and like it more than you thought you would, so are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin:

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Pop Culture League Challenge: Buying Blind*

Another League topic perfect for me to spend a  thousand or so words on: Who doesn’t love gambling on a blind box or mystery package?

Born in 1986 I got to be a kid in at the tail end of the First Great Era of Blind Bagged Mini-Figures™. I came a little too late for M.U.S.C.L.E., Battle Beasts and Garbage Pail Cheap Toys but not too late to pick up dozens of them from bootsales around the county – perhaps the best thing about my childhood is due to timing and having the parents I did I got to grow up in three decades: I enjoyed the contemporary fads of the late 1990s, got to enjoy the 1970s through my dad and uncle who were determined to give me their childhood but better and got to enjoy the 1980s fads through my mum and her parents' love of bootsales, due to how bootsales generally work I even got to enjoy things like He-Man in roughly the same yearly waves as kids at the time did, only five to seven years or so later. So while I missed being contemporary with what are probably considered the ‘classics’ of the 80’s and 90’s mini figures I was right there for some of the best – Mini-Boglins and Monster in My Pocket as well as the criminally underrated Trash Bag Bunch, Bad Eggz Bunch and P.E.T. Aliens. I was also on the ground floor as it were for another type of toy that could very much be considered blind-bagged mini-figures but generally aren’t - that’s Kinder Surprise’s hand-painted figurines; America has banned Kinder eggs for years but they’re still available at every sweet shop and supermarket in the UK, were just as plentiful in my boyhood and they’re my favourite chocolate ‘bar’ so it’s not too surprising that I have piles of nostalgia for the most sought after of Kinder Surprise prizes of my childhood. All of this has left me with an undying love of mini-figures in general and so for this League post, in a shameful rip-off of Dinosaur Dracula’s 5 Random Action Figures, I have for you five mini-figures of note from my era, so are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin:

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Quick Crappy Review: WWE Elite Flashback SDCC 2016 Exclusive - The Shockmaster*

He fell flat on his arse!

In American Professional Wrestling, which has its own language to feel special, a ‘botch’ (from ‘botched up’) is a mistake. Everyone makes mistakes but because timing is so key to making wrestling believable botches tend to be a little more noticeable as even small ones can completely ruin the suspension of disbelief and a viewer’s immersion and harm the credibly of the wrestler, sometimes for years, sometimes permanently, and sometimes it they can permanently harm a wrestler. The wrestling fandom however has developed a perverse habit of celebrating botches in all their glory - the long running Botchemania video series, compilation videos of hilarious outtakes and mistakes that act as a Pro Wrestling version of You’ve Been Framed, being the most notable example of this – and if this celebration has a King of Fools, it’s The Shockmaster.

Mattel’s Shockmaster figure was the WWE exclusive for San Diego Comic Con International 2016, available at the convention itself and then sold on afterwards, which is where I got mine because I’m too poor and too foreign to get to San Diego.  It’s being sold under the WWE Elite Flashback line name, which is a sub-line of WWE Elite which is itself the mid-price figure range for Mattel’s WWE line. But who the fuck is the Shockmaster?

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Ten Other Great Songs By... The Clash!*

Welcome to the third instalment of Ten Other Great Songs By… where I gush about the songs you’ve never heard of by bands you don’t know the name of but would recognise if you heard them, eschewing the one or two hits the act has to tell you about 10 other great songs they recorded. We also ignore what I’ve taken to calling a band’s Teenage Kicks – songs that weren’t successful (or even singles sometimes) but are now as well known, if not more well known, than those top selling singles, just like The Undertones’ song Teenage Kicks, which far more people know their highest charting single My Perfect Cousin . And happily, after I had to ignore every A-Side from The Jam for my last entry into this series of shite, we have a much more suitable subject, today we’re looking at The Clash.
See, while The Clash are a big band and pretty widely known I know for a fact your average person struggles to name any songs by them that hasn’t advertised jeans and half of them don’t know the name of the band that sung Should I Stay or Should I Go anyway. Anyway formed by original manager and Malcolm McLaren frenemy Bernie Rhodes, for most of their existence the band featured lead guitarist and vocalist Mick Jones, bass player Paul Simonon, lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Joe Strummer and drummer Topper Headon. Headon didn’t join the group until after their first album and early singles (the drummer for those was Terry Chimes) and both Headon and Jones would both be ejected before the band finally broke up in 1986 (though this still had them outlasting just about everybody in the punk inner circle bar The Damned but they broke up once a month or so, so I don’t know if they should count anyway). The band’s biggest hit while they were still together was ‘London Calling’ which is now very overplayed on British radio and together with ‘Rock the Casbah’ and ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’ (which was a hit years after they’d split on the back of a Levi’s commercial) make up their three big songs that we’ll be ignoring. We’ll also be ignoring White Riot, their punk anthem. The band’s songs focussed on social ills and outlaw tales with a particular focus on racism, drugs, the state of the world and the drudgery of ‘normal’ existence and were and still are compared to their peers The Jam in the punk equivalent of the Stones/Beatles or Nintendo/Sega arguments. So are you sitting comfortably?  Good because this is a public service announcement – WITH GUITARS:

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Pop Culture League Challenge: House of Wax*

As I said I won’t be doing Pop Culture League every week but this week is another chance to work through my various traumas, yay. This week’s topic: The local Wax Museum is having a fire sale and you have the opportunity to add a life-size, life-like action figure to your collection. Who do you choose?

Why is Wax Museum capitalised? Whatever I’m going to capitalise it this whole post now
Anyway I think I’ve gone into this but I may not have, whatever I’m going into it in-depth now: I am paralytically phobic of mannequins, specifically life-like mannequins; as a good example of where my mind draws the line with where to become terror struck – the silly spooks in the Haunted Mansion graveyard don’t scare me at all but the dancers in the ballroom scene do, the Pirates of the Caribbean sit on the line. It’s called Automatonophobia and it is a fully recognised phobia (except by Microsoft Word’s spellcheck function it seems), Automatonophobia and god I wish it had a shorter name, why can’t it be like hydrophobia, short, simple, catchy…what I was talking about? Oh yeah Automatonophobia is the fear of ‘false representations of sentient beings’ and includes mannequins, ventriloquists dummies, The Hall of Presidents, Keanu Reeves, everything that’s too big to be considered a doll (that’s Pediophobia, which you’d think would be either a fear of paedophiles or feet but no) and it sometimes crosses over with a fear of corpses, which fits perfectly because zombies and ghosts are the only ‘monsters’ that creep me out and stuffed animals worry me more than their living counterparts.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Quick Crappy Review: He-Man & The Masters of the Universe Evilseed & Monster High SDCC 2016 Ghostbusters Frankie Stein*

What? They’re made by the same company, there’s totally a link.
Alright, I was actually going to pair Frankie with the SDCC She-Ra doll but I’ve decided to keep that doll in her box until I can find a place to actually put the thing, so instead Frankie’s sharing with Evilseed because he doesn’t have a review partner either since I sold Filmation Beast Man.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

BONUS Crappy Review: Mattel WWE Triple Threat Match*

I found a review I forgot to post. This should have gone up during the early stages of the Long Look at Sonic the Comic but I completely forgot to post it, as I have it fully written and have all the pictures taken for it, I thought you lucky fellows could have it as a bonus post.  

In’s 2016, do you know where your smiles are?
Following on from our last Pay-Per-View Mattel WWE review we’re having a Triple Threat Match because the card is subject to change I bought three figures off Ringsidecollectibles is THE place to buy current wrestling merchandise, it’s a good resource to know what’s coming out and it’s prices for the actual figures is pretty respectable, especially once you factor in the dollar-to-pound conversion BUT the postage is pretty over the top, you can pretty much buy another figure for the price it costs to send one toy to London, but if you order enough it can spread the cost and everything becomes about acceptable – that’s why I bought three, I’m not greedy I’m just tight.

Pop Culture League Challenge: No Quarter*

Oh my god, the League of Extraordinary Bloggers is back and I missed two weeks of it! It’s been rebooted as The Pop Culture League so as to not exclude a person who doesn’t use a blog (Tumblr users, YouTube users etc) and I’m down, but a rose by any other name and all that, this is my first League of Extraordinary Bloggers post. What is the League? Well every week the site Cool and Collected set a topic and people can produce something on that topic, I won’t be doing EVERY week’s League post because sometimes the topic is just so ill-suited but this week’s topic is perfect: What’s your earliest arcade or video game memory?

Usually it’s the story of a kid who’s mum won’t let them play them nasty, mind rotting, murderer making, electronic demon spawn but not here, my mum bought me a NES for my birthday in 1991, I hadn’t asked for it because I didn’t actually know what a Nintendo Entertainment System, or a video game console period, was, yeah my introduction to video games is a little abnormal. Until it happened I had no desire to play them, in fact I was only vaguely aware they existed. The only ‘arcade machines’ I’d ever been near were 2p machines, a pathetic kind of seaside gambling, and UFO Catchers – or ‘the cranes’ as they’re known – and maybe Whack-A-Mole. Mum got me this gift, which began a life-long hobby, because this particular NES came bundled with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (the first game, with the annoying underwater level) and I was and remain a massive TMNT fan, apparently this set helped save the NES, sales wise, in the UK. Well I say my mum got it, her brother, my late uncle, actually got it – he worked on the vans delivering, at this point, electrical goods and ‘acquired’ it through that I believe, later on he’d work delivering sweets and filling up vending machines and we’d never be short of Mars Bars again, well until he tragically died from a heart problem. But back to the happy memory of my first video game eh? The reason I remember this so clearly is not actually because Konami’s TMNT wowed and enthralled me – though it totally fucking did – but because my grandparents (whom me and my mum lived with) actually allowed me to completely take over the dining room table! This was more wowing and enthralling than any 8-bit tie-in video game with shitty underwater stages I can tell you, when you live in a house owned by a neat freak and a fascist the day they actually allow you to move furniture for a whole 24 hours is a day you don’t forget. If you think I’m joking I am seriously not, my nan (the neat freak) used to make me put a sheet down if I played on the lawn in case Real Ghostbusters Ecto-Plazm discoloured the grass and my grandad…well we’ll get to him in a minute. But this birthday my grandad cheerily brought in an old telly and allowed me to set up this marvellous magic box on our real wood drop leaf table and even moved the chairs to accommodate me, fuck me it must be my birthday thought I.

This didn’t happen again, in fact the next time I was allowed to set up a video game console in the front room with my grandad in it the console in question was the Nintendo Wii, which he actually really likes. This is primarily while I don’t have a massive nostalgic attachment to the NES like I do my Mega Drive, see my NES wasn’t permanently set up but was instead dragged into the living room for play on the ‘main telly’ – and if you’ve never played Super Mario Bros on the biggest telly Curry’s sold in 1991 you’ve missed out, seeing Mario that huge is amazing. But this could only be done when Grandad was asleep because when he was awake he owed the television – he was kind enough to let me watch CiTV when I got home from school but not until some years later and I still think he only did that because he really liked that show with the parrot called Madison, and anyway no CiTV show was made up of pixels and annoying bleeping. So the NES only got used in school holidays and there was only a few of them between June 1991 and November 1992 – the 21st of November 1992 to be precise, Sonic Twosday. After the arrival of the Mega Drive and with it my massive (and unending) obsession with Sonic the Hedgehogs, I got my own little set-up in the extension – a white unit I still use today for my retro video games – the NES was part of this but the Mega Drive was just so much better and so much more filled with Sonic games, so while the NES did get a look in (I still have trouble going a month without playing a Mario game) I never really bonded with it the way I did my Sega consoles. Then it went to my paternal nan’s house and then she dropped it down the stairs, yeah, this is that NES, and no I’m not over that, I had to wait until I discovered emulation to play Blaster Master again. Oh and the old telly that I used to play the NES that birthday, the one that later sat on the White Unit for the NES and Mega Drive was one of those TVs that the remote control pushed into? And then you pushed it in a little way and it sprung out? Those things were fucking great, can we bring them back? I’d forgo flat screens in a heartbeat to have one of those springy push-in-push-out remote controls.

Every joke about this game has already been made
So now you’ve had the brief biography of my NES what have we learned? Well we’ve learnt that Uncles are great at getting electrical goods, nans are terrible at carrying electrical goods, my maternal grandparents need psychiatric help, spring-loaded remote controls are engineering genius and The League of Extraordinary Bloggers allows me to post a few paragraphs of indulgence, thanks for reading.

As is customary with the League, here’s some links to some other participants:
And Cool and Collected itself because they love King Kong and so should you