Saturday, June 9, 2012

Toy Oddities: Avengers Black Widow Grab Zags!

Many weeks since release, The Avengers bandwagon still circles the block, beeping its horn and turning the massive crank on its built-in hype machine. And after purchasing the mysterious Italian Black Widow I have made it my fool's errand to continue to collect tiny effigies of the catsuit clad Scarlett Johannson in an attempt to build a shrine and eventually summon her.

This time we have the oh-so-crazily named Grab Zags, mystery packages that contain "cool surprise toys". Grab Zags have already done a Marvel series in the past but this set is specifically based on the Avengers movie. What kind of toys can you get? Check out this wacky sampling of eclectic WTF:

Over 100+ blind-packaged toys to collect? That sounds like a shivering, wallet-draining, waking nightmare for completist types. And what a weird selection of stuff? The figures seem like a desirable no-brainer, but if I opened up one of these and got a mini skateboard I'd be sorely disappointed, and I'd rather shit a shuriken than get a mini disc-launcher.

But to see what I did get (by eBay cheating) and to get a sense of the entire line... join me after the jump!

El Professore Movie Review: Invasion of the Saucer Men

El Professore Movie is back with another wonderful review. This week it's Invasion of the Saucer Men!

Director: Edward L. Cahn
Starring: Steven Terrell, Gloria Castillo, Frank Gorshin
* * 1/2
Ultra low budget, studio bound, second billed sci fi film that has achieved a cult following over the years due mostly to it's definitive 50s style portrayal of 'little green men'.

Click through the jump for the full review.

Hot Toys Announce 1/6th Scale Prometheus Figures!

Hot Toys have updated their facebook page to announce that thanks to the success of Sir Ridley's Alien origin movie, Prometheus, they'll be making 1/6th scale figures of characters in the film. There's nothing to see yet and no announcement on which character/s will be made, but hopefully there'll be enough for critics to re-enact their own version of the film where everybody acts sensibly and nothing actually happens. "This star map could be an invitation from our creators. Or it could just be a big old waste of time where most of us get killed. So forget about all that. Now who wants coffee?"

I'm up for at least one of these because say what you will about the plot/characters/motivation/story those are some mighty fine spacesuits! I'm hoping that Hot Toys will have the tenacity to get some LEDs in those helmets too. Seeing as how they're probably already sculpting a Fassbender for X-Men: First Class I'd say that his android character, David, is a very obvious choice, but I'm hoping they go deep enough to make a Charlize. 

What thinks you, tight-lipped reader? The first offerings are due this year in the American fall (they call summer "melt", winter "freeze" and spring "bunny rabbit") so I guess we'll know soon enough!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Review: Star Wars Action Figure Jackpot: Vintage Darth Malgus!

I have bemoaned 2012's lack of Star Wars action figures so much of late that I've started phoning random strangers to complain about it. Store shelves are still clogged with leftovers from the Phantom Menace 3D  release and new figures are rarer than nipples on Mickey Mouse. So imagine my shock when I saw this scowling puppy on AN ACTUAL STORE SHELF!

I thought it was an action figure mirage! I had to rub my eyes, pinch myself and sling my bottle of whiskey over my shoulder. But nope... this is the real deal. Darth Malgus - the big bad from The Old Republic MMORPG -  is easily the most sought after of his wave and frequently commands ridiculously high prices on ebay. And he's a videogame character on a vintage style card! Isn't that fun/wacky? Like seeing a pig in a pair of pants! So naturally I snapped him up, plus one of his friends.

To see more of this historical find... join me after the jump!

Humble Indie Bundle Just Got Bigger!

The Humble Indie Bundle V was already a mind-blowing collection of games by independent developers, available to you for whatever YOU want to pay, with the proceeds being split between the developers and charity. Included this time around are: the very stylish Super Brothers Sword and Sworcery EP, the dark and twisted Limbo, the pants-shittingly terrifying Amnesia: The Dark Descent, and the classing mind-bending Psychonauts. Plus all their soundtracks! AND if you chose to pay at least the average (around $7.50 when I bought mine) you also got the critically acclaimed Bastion and its soundtrack. This is a must-have.

So if you thought that was already super sweet - believe it or not it just got sweeter. Three more games have been added to the bundle! They are available to you whether you already paid the average price or want to pay the average price now! (Around $8.23 at the time of writing). Now you also get Lone Survivor (which I'm yet to investigate), the brilliantly frustrating and difficult (but awesome) Super Meatboy, and beloved puzzler Braid.

Holy crap. Just try to tell me that this isn't the best money you will ever spend! I will slap you to the ground.

The bundle has raised nearly four million dollars already and there's still five days to go! But I wouldn't wait! Go and do this now!

Gestalt Comics - Unmasked #1 Review!

Australian independent comic book publisher Gestalt Comics was kind enough to offer us the chance to review their new book, Unmasked!  As the resident comic book lover here at Fruitless Pursuits, the opportunity fell to me!

Unmasked is the story of a group of ex-super villains who hung up their capes and costumes 5 years ago and have been living as "private citizens" ever since!  Particularly it follows Simon and his wife, Nancy...both ex-villains eking out a living through 9-5 type jobs, pining for the good old days.  Unfortunately for them, Super Heroes still exist and the good old days maybe weren't so good.  Still, how DO you fight the boredom of a typical (albeit low, at least in Simon's case) life when you used to terrorize the world?  That's the question Unmasked seems posed to answer...

So what did I think of the book?  Join me after the JUMP to find out (and see more artwork, too!)

Review: Prometheus Will Wrench Your Guts.

Prometheus is a divisive film and you are going to hear conflicting reports. Is it wonderful? Is it terrible? Does not enough happen? Does too much happen? Is it a direct prequel to Alien or is something else entirely?

I think your response will vary depending on what it is you bring to the film. How familiar are you with Alien? How precious is it to you? Do you have an affection for ponderous old-school epics? What exactly do you expect this film to be?

I have recently watched Alien, a film which has very little plot, often moves at a sluggish pace, but has so much craft that it is still a masterpiece. The design, direction and atmosphere are so strong that it elevates the story from what could be a schlocky minor movie in less capable hands. I also read a lot of bizarre, body-horror, sweeping sci-fi comics by European artists in Heavy Metal magazine. Those creatures and worlds have always captured my imagination. These are the things that I personally brought with me when watching the film.

I was pleasantly surprised, which is not to say that Prometheus is without its flaws, but I enjoyed the experience. Join me after the jump and I will tell you why.

The Doctor's New Clothes

The BBC unveiled our first official look at the Doc's new threads, due to make their first appearance sometime after episode 5, where we'll be waving goodbye to The Ponds. Apparently the tweed jacket just reminds him too much of his adventure times with Amy, and he decides to switch things up a little. I must say, I'm VERY impressed. He's gone from 'Grandad's wardrobe pilfering hipster' to 'dapper English gentleman', and it works so so well. I'm liking the look of the new companion more than I did in some of the other preview photos, and let's face it, I'm just looking forward to getting rid of Amy....

Moving swiftly along.

Jump under the cut to see a few more photos of our new dashing Doctor, acquired from Tumblr but originally from Cardiff local spy/ninja Ryan Farrell. He posts photos from the set fairly regularly, so a good Twitter feed to be subscribed to if you're not scared of spoilers.

Thank Gif It's Friday

This needs no explanation.

Boards and Beers - Pirate Dice: Voyage on the Rolling Seas (Kickstarter Preview)

Our very good friend Taylor of Boards and Beers shares with us the following review. Take it away Taylor....

In my line of work, I have always found steering a pirate ship to be more difficult than it seems. What with the ropes and the sails and my complete lack of nautical knowledge, even I find it trying at times. However, every now and again a game comes along to truly inspire a new generation of young lads and lasses into becoming a pirate and taking to the seas on one of these awe-inspiring vessels. Today, this game is Pirate Dice: Voyage on the Rolling Seas.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

2012 Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con Huge Photo Recap

This past weekend was the annual Philadelphia Comic Con (formerly known as Wizard World Philly). Years ago it was all about bootleg DVDs, Star Wars actors, and exclusive toys. Things have shifted over the years and it's leaning more towards becoming a mass media event like San Diego Comic Con. Special guests Luke Perry, Jason Preistley, and Joey Lawrence were all scheduled to attend, which shifts the balance of the usual Lou Ferrignos, Bruce Campbells and Slave Leias. Although the convention has become more accessible, there is still plenty of nerdiness within.

Our good friend Dominic DiGiorgio a/k/a Digs Darklighter (@Digs1975) was on the scene and captured a  ton of images for us. Check out the Philadelphia Comic Con gallery after the jump.

Book Review: The Croning by Laird Barron

With the resurgence in popularity of authors like HP Lovecraft, with new attention of folks like Clark Ashton Smith and "weird fiction" in general, it's good to see new weird fiction published. Laird Barron was recommended by Phil from the Double Shadow podcast as someone to read, and I was able to get my hands on The Croning.

The story follows an academic and his wife over the course of various points of their lives. Don is continually caught up in some rather strange occurances, none of which he can truly explain and some he cannot readily remember. Toward the end of their lives, they own a cabin in the wilderness, there's hints of a croning ritual and, well, that's when things really get a little weird.

Barron's publishing history thus far has been more in the poetry and short story realms, and this book shows that - the overarching story is definitely cohesive, but it's told, in a sense, via a number of short stories with the same characters. It's actually a fairly interesting move, and one that worked really well for me in terms of keeping the slow burn and keeping me interested along the way.

As someone who's not a big horror guy, I really enjoyed the book. It got really, really creepy toward the end, had a lot of subtle nods to other books and ideas, and kept me up rather late reading. I can't ask for a ton more from a book, and this was really well done as a result. I'll definitely be looking for his other stuff sooner rather than later.

This Week's New Toy and Collectibles Highlights!

I'm very happy to announce that we'll be soon working with our new friends at Big Bad Toy Store which means that we get to be in the loop when it comes to pre-orders and new toy and collectible arrivals. I know that I often have zero idea of what's coming out these days, so this is going to be an awesome opportunity for us both to catch up on a sampling of what's out there as I comment on my favourites.

Like this crazy super-articulated 1/9th scale Iron Man Mark IV from the Active Gear Collection. I've been tempted by the similar Revoltech Iron Mans (men?) in the past, but this one has a ton of interchangeable parts, and brake flaps on his back, and best of all his chest lights up. Plus he's covered in ball joints. Yes. He's so super posable that even his balls are jointed! Now that's attention to details!

He can be pre-ordered here. He's not cheap, but he is Japanese and totally awesome. It would be the Iron Man of choice to strike dance moves on my desk.

Join me after the jump for the highlights of this week, including: SDCC 2012 exclusives, Retro Ninja
Turtles, Batman Arkham City, Mass Effect, Marvel and more!

Review: Minutemen #1! Before Watchmen.

So I bought and read Minutemen #1, the first part of the oft-debated Before Watchmen. Yesterday I shared my misgivings on the first five preview pages, so you may wish to read that first as a primer to where I’m coming from. But that was just a small part of it and to be fair I should only judge it as a whole.

To find out what I thought of the Watchmen prequel that you probably didn’t ask for, but DC is determined to give you... join me after the jump!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wreck it Ralph

A new 3d animated film from Disney but is this really a Disney film?

"Wreck-It Ralph is the 9-foot-tall, 643-pound villain of an arcade video game named Fix-It Felix Jr., in which the game's titular hero fixes buildings that Ralph destroys. For thirty years, Ralph has been doing the same job over and over and has become tired of being the bad guy. Wanting to prove he can be a good guy and not just a villain, Ralph escapes his game through the power cord and lands in Hero's Duty, a first-person shooter where he helps the game's hero, Sergeant Calhoun, battle against "Cy-Bugs", the game's alien invaders. He later enters Sugar Rush, a kart racing game set on tracks made of candies, cookies and other sweets. There, Ralph meets Vanellope von Schweetz, one of the game's characters, who has learned that her game is faced with a dire threat that could affect the entire arcade, and one that Ralph may have inadvertently started"

more details and opinions after the jump

Before Watchmen: Five Page Preview

USA Today has shared an exclusive five page preview of Darywn Cooke's Minutemen #1, the first chapter of the controversial Before Watchmen project which launches tomorrow. If you can't wait until then and want to get a taste of what the book has in store before deciding if it's worth a purchase, then you give it a read right here thanks to their fancy embed:Before Watchmen: Minutemen Exclusive Preview

Folks that know me will probably assume that I'm predisposed to disliking this thing, and I'm certainly on Alan Moore's beardy, curmudgeonly side on this fight as the original is one of my favourite books of all time, but I am determined to judge this for what it is. Unfortunately, for me at this stage, that's not a hell of a lot.

I'll share my thoughts (and gripes)... after the jump!

Hot Toys Teases Joker 2.0 1/6th Scale Figure: A Brand New Version of the Joker

Only last week I was commiserating that I missed the Hot Toys 1/6th scale Heath Ledger Joker and it looks like my plaintive sobs were heard! Over on the Hot Toys Facebook page they are teasing The Joker 2.0, a brand new version of the clown prince of comically killing things and annoying the crap out of bats.

There's not a whole lot to see yet, but I'm warmed by the fact that it's coming.

I anticipate big things when the head sculpt is revealed. Hot Toys have always been the best in this market, but if you look at their evolution - even in just the past year - you'll notice that their sculpts and paint work are improving exponentially. I'm glad they're taking the opportunity to update some popular figures - especially if you missed them the first time around. Hot Toys prices increase astronomically on the secondary market so if you miss them at release then you're often out of luck.

It'll be interesting to see comparison shots between this head sculpt and the last one. I'm also wildly anticipating the eventual Black Widow Avengers reveal where I think we'll also see how far they've come in terms of capturing likenesses when compared to the Iron Man 2 version.

We'll have more images and pre-order info when it breaks!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

What's Out? 6th of June 2012

Once a week I like to ask myself the big questions. Questions like "What new comics and merchandise are available at my local comic book shop today?". I will share the answer with you right here:

Wii U - Project P-100

This game has me excited for the Wii U. Much like Pikmin you control a bunch of citizens and by changing their formation you can turn them into various weapons like giant fists or a sword to fight the invading giant Robots

The game is being helmed by the man behind Okami, Hideki Kamiya which is also a big plus. Oh and the multi-player aspects look fantastic.

You can always count on Nintendo to give us a break from all these cover shooters and this feels like an old style Nintendo game.


New 52 Justice League BATMAN - The Action Figure!

Last Wednesday saw me leave the comic book store with MORE than just my favourite comics!  I simply HAD to purchase the historic First Action Figure Ever from DC Comic's New 52!  And of course, they simply HAD to start strong with everyone's favourite clown puncher, the Batman!!

This silly box should be no problem for an master of escape such as the Batman!
So did I instantly devalue this figure by opening him up?  OF COURSE!!  Is he any good? 

I'll tell you, and show you the rest of my (admittedly amateurish) pics of him....after the JUMP!

The Book Was Better Podcast: Episode 19: Free Willy!

What's even crazier than watching kiddie killer whale thriller Free Willy? Reading the novelisation of Free Willy by author Todd Strasser! What's even crazier than that? Recording an hour long podcast discussing and debating said novelisation. And yet Jessica and I have done just that! And now we're distressingly determined to inflict that podcast onto YOU.

You can download our chat directly from our official site or why not subscribe to us on the omnipresent iTunes and then you can hear us cynically dissect novelisations of all your favourite genre films every single fortnight!

In the past we've covered such gems as Space Jam, Jurassic Park, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Armageddon, so don't be afraid to stop by and check us out!

Galaxy of Passion - A Star Wars Telenovela

Day time television Star Wars is the best

Nerd History: Milo of Croton

I'm involved in a Mage: The Awakening game where our GM is fond of using real-world historical settings to place his players. We're about to do a one-shot game that takes place in the time of Pythagoras, and I was given the character of someone who I had never previously heard of, but immediately loved: Milo of Croton.

F**k Yeah Game of Thrones Recap! Episode 10: Valar Morghulis

After 10 steadily building weeks, blood and boobs fantasy epic Game of Thrones finally reaches its much anticipated series conclusion, delicately setting up the pieces for the next round. The ending of season one taught us not to assume that too many loose ends would be be tied (the ominous winter has been “coming” for some time now), but I would expect a final episode to pack a surprise punch.

Did Valar Morghulis leave us hungry for more? And how satisfying was this season as a whole? Find out all this... after the jump!

Stryder's Favourite Comics - 5/30/2012

The last Wednesday of May brought me far fewer comics than usual...only 2 that I was interested in!  Not to worry, I threw some extra stuff in to, you know, make up my word-count or something...

Anyway, there may have only been 2 comics of great interest to me last week, but one of those is possibly my favourite New 52 comic yet!!  That comic?

Batman Annual #1 - I am not at all ashamed to admit that Batman Annual #1 made me cry like a little girl.  Mr. Freeze's story has always been one that got to me, ever since the Batman The Animated Series season 1 episode "Heart of Ice".  (Here's a YouTube summary of same).

This comic is more or less the epilogue to Night of the Owls, but has little to do with them and everything to do with Mr. Freeze, his origins and his motivations.  We learned through this cross-over that Mr. Freeze was hired by the Court of Owls to figure out how to return all of the Talons to life.  As this is very similar to his research into bringing his wife, Nora, back to the land of the living after being cryogenically frozen for who knows how long, he seemed like the perfect man for the job.  However, even though he WAS successful, the Court likes to protect it's secrets and thus Mr. Freeze ended up on their hit list for the big night!  Luckily, Red Hood and the Outlaws arrived to "protect" him (see Red Hood and the Outlaws #9).  In the end, Victor's life is saved but he's also taken back to Arkham Asylum.

This annual takes place immediately thereafter, with Victor Fries in Arkham Asylum talking to a psychiatrist.  He starts to tell a story about his mother.  I'm not going to spoil this comic at ALL except to say that they took the origin from the Animated Series and just tweaked it and added to it in a way that makes it, to me at least, all the more heart-wrenching and pitiful.  I wouldn't be surprised if it turns out a little controversial, but I for one loved it!

Ravagers and Stormwatch and Batwing OH MY!  After the JUMP!

Tuesday Bounty: Glorious Bounty Gets Even.

Tuesday can only mean a brand new page of sci-fi/humour comic series Glorious Bounty, drawn by mighty meathooks of Edward J. Grug III, and written by me.

When we last left the crew they were still in their temporary robot bodies and Bruce was trying to unite them against a common foe. But PK and Deevis would rather fight each other. What a bunch of assholes!

Click to embiggen or read it on the official site!

And if you want to start at the very beginning, you'll find chapter one RIGHT HERE. It's about a sexy virus!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Watch Dogs

Getting a Dues Ex vibe from this one

The production design is dang nice, there's also a pretty cool dialogue exchange in this so hopefully the writing is strong. Although I have to say I'm more interested in the hacking element than another shooter but the shooting sections don't look that bad.

Watcha all think?

Comic School Review: Green Lantern #7: A Tribute to Pieface!

So with the entire Internet still buzzing about how Alan Scott (the original Green Lantern) is gay now, I thought I'd better dig deeper into the far-more-suspicious Hal Jordan archives and purchased issue #7 from the sixties. Sure enough Hal was up to his usual deep-in-the-closet tricks but what shocked me the most was the back-up story, Wings of Destiny, featuring his then best pal.

Yes, I am talking about the unflatteringly named Pieface, the "Eskimo grease monkey" who is coloured so yellow that Hal's ring could never possibly cause him harm. I seriously could not make this stuff up. Why wasn't Pieface in the movie?

Here's Hal having no doubt one of many Pieface induced nightmares:

Goddamn quit it, Pieface and let the man sleep!

Written by John Broome with art by either Joe Giella or Gil Kane, this is a startling tale of cultural insensitivity. Join me after the jump to see the myth, the legend, the pieface himself!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Nintendo Wii U Zombie Video Shows That You Too Can Be An Annoying Jerk!

Here's a four-minute "skit" from Nintendo which shows off the variety of communication features built into their upcoming Wii U console. And what better way to show off these features than utilise the memorable overacting of The Annoying Nasal Nerd, Douchebag Warren and Comedy Grandpa. You can be like all these jerks when you harness the power of the Wii U! It makes wrestling that giant controller a dream! But enough of me! Take a look for yourself...

A couple of things...

I already do most of these things with my iPhone. I check forums and watch videos when ever I'm stuck, or can even twitter/facebook/email/phone friends. I can even Skype them or use face-time without having to get up and place my phone in front of the television like the hilarious character portrayed in this video. So if that's the selling point I'm not quite convinced.

Secondly, have you seen the "community" on the existing online consoles? Is that something you're desperate to be a part of? Will the Wii U make it easier for me to converse with barely literate rednecks hollering homophobic slurs? I can't wait to spend more time with those guys!

Am I off-base here? Did I miss something important while watching the clever interplay of the various characters? Let me know why this is a good idea in the barren comments section below.

Book Review: Throne of the Crescent Moon

I can't think of a book that has left me as torn and divided as Throne of the Crescent Moon has.

The book is largely a high fantasy using Middle eastern tropes and concepts, weaving some different settings and ideas into a decently-formed, short (for a fantasy) story. The book excels at creating a great setting that feels familiar while being different than most general fantasy locales. It follows some ghul hunters, who include an older man on his last go 'round before his marriage and his well-read apprentice, who are suddenly facing a rather massive supernatural insurrection.

The problem with the book is more that it almost drowns in its concepts as it attempts to break free of them to be a good story. The characters are interesting on the surface but didn't resonate with me at all. The setting was great, and almost felt like a character in itself, but it ended up feeling like I was more of a visitor or observer rather than something that was a more immersive experience.

The book moves at a solid pace, which masks a lot of these issues, but I suppose my expectations were much higher for a book I desperately wanted to love. Much of my criticism might be based more around this not being the book I wanted it to be, but I would like to see something a little more engaging next time.

Toy Oddities: The Italian Black Widow (Preziosi Collection)

With my current infatuation with all things Avengers and, more specifically, all things Black Widow/Scarlett Johansson, I stumbled upon a never-before-seen (by me) oddity on ebay. It was an Italian auction for a strange, non-articulated Black Widow (or Vedova Nera) figurine of indeterminable scale, produced by a company called Preziosi. Naturally I had to have it.

So imagine my uncomfortable-to-witness delight and surprise when it arrived accompanied by a trading card and booklet, mostly written in the lascivious Italian tongue! Here's the front of the trading card featuring some fantastic Scarlett art which I don't think I've seen before:

To view the figure, and help me decipher what this all means... join me after the jump!