Saturday, January 26, 2013

Kickstart the Weekend with Formula E by Clever Mojo Games / Game Salute

Formula E, formerly known as Haathi is an elephant racing game (yes, an elephant racing game!), quickly speeding to its final days on Kickstarter. The artwork is beautiful and it comes with amazing components (elephant meeples and holy cows), but most importantly... word around the street is that it's a lot of fun.

The team behind Formula E has a wonderful track record. Clever Mojo Games released the high quality mega-hit Alien Frontiers and designer Bruno Faidutti is best known for Citadels (as well as one of my favorites Incan Gold). But even with their history the Kickstarter is still about $10,000 shy of its funding goal, with only 60 hours to go.
"...something I would play again..and again..and again. This game has all of the things that I think make board gaming great. The theme and mechanics work very well together. (Ok maybe an elephant on a flying carpet is a stretch but it works.) It is simple to learn and simple to teach without being a simple game. But most of all..its fun..and I'm talking the kind of loud, boisterous, laughing, yelling, saying words you wouldn't say in church fun." - The Cardboard Jumgle
If the name of this game sounds familiar, it's because it's a nod to the classic racing game Formula D (or Formula De for the international folk). The publishers totally approved the nod, which speaks volumes for the quality of this game.

For $45 you can get a copy of the game, and if you want to just kick in $20 you will get 50 of those sweet, sweet meeples. Such a weakness for gamers!

Formula E on Kickstarter:

El Professore Movie Laments 'The Day the Clown Cried'

Sure there are many lost or unreleased films that ol' El Professore Movie would love to be able to take a gander at (The first filmed version of Tarzan Escapes aka The Capture of Tarzan, King Kong Appears in Edo, Bruce Lee's The Big Boss with the missing 'saw in the head' moment, the complete 160 minute version of A Better Tomorrow 2...), but none (absolutely none) have held the same perverse fascination as Jerry Lewis' unfathomably wrongminded, 'The Day the Clown Cried'.

More info after the jump.

I Guess It's Time to Weigh In on the J.J. Abrams Star Wars...

After much speculation it is finally confirmed. J.J. Abrams has been officially announced as the director of the much anticipated and infinitely discussed Star Wars Episode VII.

As an unapologetic, life-long Star Wars fan find out what I make of all this... after the jump!

Review: Django Unchained!

It's no secret that Django Unchained is a triumph. Basking in critical acclaim and a slew of Oscar nominations (including Best Picture) this film is all the proof you need that not only does writer/director Quentin Tarantino still have it, but in fact he never even lost it. It's well-performed, beautifully crafted, thoroughly entertaining, thought-provoking and, at times, heart-breaking. But is it really one of Tarantino's best?

I was utterly engaged throughout the vast majority of Django's near three hour running time but then a moment occurred where - for want of a better term - everything went south. A decision is made which to me seems less motivated by the character than it is by the screenwriter, and from that point forward I began to disengage.

You already know why this film is better than 99% of what is out there. I agree with that too. But to delve a little deeper, join me for a heavy SPOILER filled discussion... after the jump!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Hot Toys Tony Stark! Iron Man 3 Busts! 1/6th Scale Joker! 1/6th Scale Bossk!

A wealth of amazing high end collectibles have been revealed or made available for pre-order this week  so here's an image heavy round up to show you what we have to look forward to. This is the stuff that I'm really into. I'm scaling back all the cheap crap from my collection and focusing on detailed, screen accurate, well-made pieces.

Much like this freshly announced Hot Toys 1/6th scale Tony Stark with workshop from the rapidly approaching Iron Man 3....

You can see a lot more of him, plus Hot Toys Iron Man 3 busts, a 1/6th scale comics-style Joker and a 1/6th scale Bossk... after the jump! Now UPDATED with pre-order info!

Thank GIF it's Friday!

Happy Friday/Saturday depending on where you are in the world! No matter how bad a week you had, it can't have been worse than this guy, getting hit in the nuts on live TV at the Australian Open.

The Fringe Pattern Unlocked

Last weekend a really great science fiction show ended for good. The Fringe series finale was solid, but perhaps felt more like a season finale than a series finale. For those who have never seen Fringe it is science fiction in a very pure form; a literal science base (known as fringe science) with a stretch of the realm of possibility. There are no aliens on this show, just people exploring scientific boundaries that become more and more convoluted. If you are a fan of huge multi-season arcs, great characterisation and science fiction, then Fringe is a good bet for you.

JJ Abram’s, the show’s creator, is known for his shows Alias, Lost and more recently, Revolution. Where Alias and Lost started strong and lost their way (though both seemed to somewhat find a point at the end, whether they were satisfactory points is another question), Fringe seems for the most part to be consistently good. The handful of main characters grow, are challenged and find some resolution along the way. It’s solid.

Before launching into a review of the finale, and of the series in its entirety, here’s the basic premise. FBI Agent Olivia Dunham is the show’s central character. She and her team investigate ‘Fringe Events’, events with some basic scientific origin that push beyond the realms of what we understand, often with horrific consequences. Her team consists of Walter Bishop (a half mad scientist), his son Peter Bishop (super smart with a somewhat dubious past) and Astrid Farnsworth (a super smart, super patient FBI agent with a real knack for taking care of the people around her, including Walter). As the series progresses it becomes clear that the fringe events (or The Pattern as some refer to it) are tangled up with Walter Bishop.

I’ll leave it at that. If you haven’t seen the series, I strongly recommend that you do, it’s pretty fantastic. The review below contains spoilers for all seasons, over-arching spoilers for seasons 1 – 4 and specific spoilers for season 5 (especially 5.13 – the 100th and final episode of Fringe).

Unpub 3 (Unpublished Games Festival) Mega Recap!

Last year, we kicked off the board game convention (pre)season by heading down to Delaware for the intimate, yet innovative Unpub 2. This past weekend was the 3rd year for the Unpub program and it was bigger, longer and better than ever.

With two days and 65 unpublished board games, there was a lot of ground to cover. I was also running up to 15 sessions of my own games so it was tricky. In the end, I only played about 8 other games (mostly quick ones) but still had a blast.

Click through the jump for my full recap!

Metallica Turns Their Frown Upside-Down

Vimeo user Major Scaled has taken traditionally sad songs and converted them into much happier versions simply by changing the key from Minor to Major. It's amazing how much of a difference that can make. It's subtle at first and may be hard to recognize if you aren't very familiar with the song, but the mood is instantly uplifted. Not only did Major Scaled completely rework parts of the song (the vocals too!), but he/she made a pretty seamless modification of it.

In the end the song has a whole different feel. It's almost a Country song?!

Click through the jump for one more song, the poppiest versions of REM's Losing My Religion and The Doors Riders On the Storm that you'll ever hear. I'd be curious to see these songs thrown into mainstream radio and see the reactions of the listeners. Some might be confused as the song plays. Others would just sing along not even noticing the difference.

So close, no matter how far...

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Big Bad Toy Store Highlights! Let’s Talk Gremlins, GI JOE, Bioshock and More!

Let’s cast our discerning eyes over the newest list of pre-orders from our pals at Big Bad Toy Store and pick out some toy and collectible points of interest that you and I can chat about. Like this bit of fantasy fulfilment that I feel like I’ve been waiting for my entire life:

Did you ever watch the first Gremlins and think, “This is good, but surely the gremlins themselves could afford to be a little sexier?”. Well Gremlins 2 had you covered with a seminal moment featuring female Greta (I thought she was Lady Gremlina?) who was proof of what happens when you show a mogwai a porn magazine after midnight. When I was really young I had a crush on the Miss Piggy puppet and Greta here almost eclipsed it.

This is a 1:1 scale replica stunt puppet, standing nearly 30 inches tall and with her own metal display stand, outfit and wig. BBTS have her for $60 off list price. Snap up this wonderful piece of eighties movie memorabilia which is only marginally easier to explain than a Fleshlight.

What else caught my keen eye?... Join me after the jump!

Video Games: My "Tokyo Jungle" Diary!

A lot of video game developers make assumptions. They assume that most gamers are power-hungry miscreants who fantasize about being blood spilling lunkheads, be it the gruff, bandana-wearing, boombox-titted meat-heaps of Gears of War, or the obnoxious, bullet-spewing dude-bros of Far Cry 3. You’ve got us all wrong.

But then, finally, along comes Tokyo Jungle, an off-kilter game that truly understands us. It knows that beneath it all, what I really want to play is a yellow, fuzzy, soft and vulnerable baby chick, or a plucky, stunted, yipping pomeranian. And on the mean streets of post-apocalyptic Japan I can do just that. I can eat, hunt, nest, mate and fight for my right to survive. I’m going to climb up that food chain. I’m going to kick a big dent in the circle of life.

I’ve played Tokyo Jungle and this is my story... after the jump!

Support the Most Virile Animation Ever: The Manly Show!

Remember our good friend and former contributor, Tim Merks? The reason he has been posting for us is that he's been working his arse off with fellow artists Christien Clegg and Adrian Tolman on some of the most testosteron fuelled artwork and animation ever The Manly Show. You can check out the very entertaining tumblr here but now they have even bigger, sweatier, musclier fish to fry.

Tim and friends need your help to support their campaign to produce three manly animated shorts. This is an extremely talented team who create some of the most kinetic and inventive animation you will see, so if you're at all in doubt please take a look at this brilliant teaser for their campaign.

Their fundraising is in its final week and there's still a bit of a way to go, so if you can through them a big manly bone, check out their Pozible campaign here. We miss you, Tim!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

D&D Classics is Live!

I had heard murmurs that this was happening, and apparently a quiet launch occurred, because D&D Classics went live this week.

They're teaming up with DriveThruRPG and offering a bunch of old systems and campaigns as PDF downloads. Plus, as a launch bonus, they're offering a pile of free stuff to start out, including Keep at the Shadowfell, which might have been the first real D&D campaign I've been involved with, and the classic In Search of the Unknown.

Worth looking at if you're nostalgic or a completest, I've already downloaded all the free stuff, and I'm definitely eyeing some of the other extras...

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Book Was Better Podcast Episode 34: Battleship!

The Book Was Better is the podcast where Jessica and I read, discuss and heartlessly mock the ridiculous tie-in novels of your favourite and not-so-favourite films!

For our first full episode of 2013 we have set sail for Battleship, the critically acclaimed, audience-pleasing, cult classic based on a stupid old board game. Will Taylor Kitsch manage to buy a burrito amid an alien invasion? Who cares! But we read it to you anyway. This is our biggest episode yet, and Jess' last one before she goes on maternity leave so stick it in your listening holes!

Also don't forget to help out author Peter David and assuage our guilt for being mean to him this episode. We are all wishing him the very best! To find out what went down and how you can assist his fast recovery check out all the details at

You can download the episode at the official site, or why not subscribe to us on iTunes and make our 2013 great!

Stryder's Favourite Comics - 1/16/2013

Here we are on the coldest, snowiest, Wintriest day of the year here in Toronto, with naught to keep us warm but a whole lot of Comics!  Let's dig right in!

Batman #16 - "This whole place, my dear, a love letter, to you!"

Batman arrives at Arkham Asylum to confront the Joker and end this madness as "Death of the Family" continues this month!  The Joker's been waiting patiently for his nemesis, here on his home turf, where he's had lots of time to prepare!  It's easy when you have a building full of madmen all ready and willing to help to take a piece out of the Dark Knight.  Batman must progress through the out of control madhouse, relentlessly stalking...all while trying not to think about what could happen to the Family...and especially what the Joker may have done with Alfred!!

Of course, going to Arkham, one can expect more villains than just the clown...Batman has to get past Mr. Freeze, Clayface and Scarecrow, and that's just for starters!  Oh, and of course there's more hostages...there's ALWAYS more hostages...poor Batman.  There's no way everyone's getting out of this one okay...

More "Death of the Family" along with Superboy, Suicide Squad and the Ravagers after the JUMP!

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Nintendo 3DS Is Back On My Radar.

I haven't bought a 3DS game since launch, and I think I'm about to break my dry spell.

Tokyo Crash Mobs is everything I've been looking for in a game. You THROW people into other people. If that's not enough, there are UFOs and overlays of people congratulating you on your victories. It looks bizarrely addictive and I'm about to dust off the old 3DS.

As silly and crazy as it looks, I've been holding out for something different and innovative and exciting for the 3DS. This is more on the crazy side, but it's close! As a lifelong Nintendo fanboy who has fallen in absolute love with his PSVita, it's things like this that always pull me back.

Tokyo Crash Mobs - $6.99 on the Nintendo 3DS eShop.

The Fog of War Machine! Hasbro's Iron Man 3 Cover Up!

The action figure market isn't what it used to be. Major companies have eschewed fickle man-child collectors to focus on cutting-costs and appealing to actual children. This means that we are no longer seeing mainstream retail lines with screen accurate sculpts or extensive articulation. This has been particularly felt in Hasbro's Star Wars line with the recent announcement that the next waves of collector focused figures have been cancelled for now. We've gone full circle back to the eighties were cheap and simple rules the shelves.

But then Hasbro releases the following image of their new 3 3/4 inch War Machine figure for Iron Man 3. Looks pretty cool, right?

WRONG! There's a very good reason that War Machine here is photographed in the dark and has a huge hunk of debris obscuring him. This tactic is terribly transparent, Hasbro. To see what Hasbro is trying to hide... join me after the jump!

Kickstart the Week: Fate Core

My friend Chris (who runs a gaming blog over at Claw/Claw/Peck) turned me onto what might be the most generous Kickstarter I've seen yet, for the Fate Core gaming system. It's fully funded, and it's got tons of goodies for gamers:

Evil Hat is proud to bring you Fate Core: the latest evolution of the Fate role-playing game system. Inside you'll find refined, clearer language about every part of the game -- ranging from streamlined language about aspects and skills, to a unified approach for game actions and outcomes, to our trademark, rock solid GM and player advice.


Upon publication we'll place near to 100% of the Fate Core text into the Open Gaming License as open content, once again continuing our commitment to supporting third party efforts to build the Fate games everyone wants to see.

I'm not really familiar with the system, but I hear good things and, with a $5 entry level for a ton of stuff, it's worth throwing some money at.

First Look at Pop Vinyl Game of Thrones Series 2!

There really aren't many people left in the world who don't have a Funko Pop Vinyl figure fashioned after them. These beady-eyed, mouthless collectible vinyl figures appear to have infected every single marketable franchise, and perhaps a few non-marketable ones as well! If it's on the big, small, or computer screen then rest assured it will be quickly sculpted into a little swollen headed effigy to stare blankly ahead on your shelf. I need to stop my house from being plagued by these, but many are too tempting, including this second batch of figures based on HBO's wildly successful blood and boobs fantasy epic Game of Thrones. These figures seem to pose the question... "What if all the frigging characters were midgets?" It might look a lot like this:

See! There's little Jon Snow ready to be balanced atop your highest wall! He's probably the most recognisable of this series and as such my favourite of the bunch. But who else appears in this wave? Can you guess the other five? I tried and failed miserably. Now I want to make you miserable as well.

Let's find out... after the jump!