Saturday, February 9, 2013

Toy Fair 2013: Hasbro's Star Wars, Including the Black Series!

New York Toy Fair 2013 is already a buzz as toy giant Hasbro displays their wares. Good friend of the site, Travis Denman is on the ground and we must thank him, as well as the good folks at Vinylmation Kingdom for helping us with images (be sure to check out their own coverage!).

So one of my own most anticipated Toy Fair reveals is more of the 6 inch Star Wars Black Series for distinguished man-children (we recently saw X-Wing pilot Luke). Three more figures were revealed today, including this one familiar filthy-toothed hell-clown...

To see a lot more images, and read unabashed opinons, please won't you join me... after the jump!

South Korean Airforce parody Les Miserables, the internet approves

As if South Korea needed another reason for us all to think they're a bunch of total bros, the airforce has assembled a parody of Les Miserables (called Les Militaribles, no less) which is both well done and hilariously awesome. Seriously, between this, Gangnam Style, The Host and Aachi and Ssipak, SK has risen extremely high on my list of places to get filthy drunk in.

So good.

(via I Heart Chaos)

El Professore Movie Reviews: The Creation of the Humanoids

Director: Wesley Barry
Starring: Don Megowan, Erica Elliot, Francis McCann, Don Doolittle
* * * *
The setting is a post nuclear war society where blue/green skinned, silver eyed human looking robots have become commonplace. The surviving human population are suffering an ever decreasing birthrate and are dependent on their self thinking, self motivated creations for assisstance in trying to rescue the human race. Meanwhile, a fanatical organization ('The Order of the Flesh and Blood') is attempting to stop the robots from appearing (and becoming) too human, fearing they will go from helping to taking over. They are especially distressed when they discover that a scientist is experimenting on human replicas and giving them genuine emotions and memories.

Full review after the jump.

ToyFair 2013: Skylanders SWAP Force Mixes Customization & Collecting!

Skylanders has been doing things right for a while now.

First there was the multi-platform Activision video game that required toy figures to play as specific characters. This was marketing gold, but also a lot of fun. Instead of an in-game purchase, it was an in-store purchase. Players would buy physical object that looked cool on their toy shelf but also doubled as a part of their game. You could technically play the game without the characters, but they were divided into a bunch of factions (wind/fire, etc). Areas within the game required characters from certain factions, and with each character having unique attacks, movement and abilities... having a variety of characters was very helpful. This may sound annoying, but it was quite the opposite. Have you ever heard of a positive experience in spending money? A few games have tried to do this, but Skylanders did it best. Proof: The first Christmas of its release you couldn't find a single figure on the store shelves.

Then they took things to the next level in Skylanders Giants with massive oversized figures that could do a lot more damage on screen (and to your wallet). But it was still cool. Nothing groundbreaking, but bigger usually means better. Especially with kids.

Now, for the third version of the game, Activision is intruding Skylanders SWAP Force. 16 new customizable figures that continue to blur the lines between the physical objects and their digital representations. Each figure has a mid-point that allows the player to make their own brand new character on the spot. The character will visually change, but their in-game effects also change. Depending on where you are in the game, you can modify your character to have two varying attacks, which can be very helpful. Customization makes everything better in video games, and adding this to the physical product tops that. The design of the characters may suffer a bit as everyone needs a common center shape, but having more control over your character is exactly where Skylanders needs to go.

Check it out:

More ToyFair 2013:

Toyfair 2013: Lego Iron Man 3 Leak Spoils Stuff!

While we wait for New York Toy Fair 2013 to get fully underway, let's bide our time with these spoileriffic Lego sets from Iron Man 3. (We do so much Iron Man news we should change the site to Ferrous Pursuits). (Get one of the older kids to explain that one to you). There are three sets that are leaking all over the interwubz, jamming up the cyber-tubes, and although most of the pictures are small and pixellated we can certainly begin to speculate on some of the weirdness that's set to occur in the film.

Like look at this tomfoolery...

I'm going to tell you everything I think about old man Beardy Ben Kingsley attacking Iron Man with a weaponised street sweeper... after the jump!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Scott Pilgrim's Bryan Lee O'Malley Does Battle Royale!

Aint It Cool News have shown off an awesome new poster than Mondo has created for the Japanese kids-murdering-kids-on-an-island cult classic, Battle Royale. And if you haven't yet seen that magnificent, visceral film then rush out and see it - Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins certainly did!

But the best part is that Mondo artist Kevin Tong has teamed up with Bryan Lee O'Malley. (Not to be confused with Bruce Lee O'Malley who is a famous kung-fu leprechaun). O'Malley is the writer/artist of Scott Pilgrim, one of my favourite comic series EVER, so to see his style interpreted here is appropriately wonderful. Check it out...

I'm not sure if this is for sale anywhere, but Mondo posters sell out fast and command high prices so you'd have to be super quick. We love you, Bryan Lee! Looking forward to your next book!

Sci-Fi / Fantasy News!

Here are some of the interesting stories/things that came up this week in the world of Sci-Fi/Fantasy.

Author Neil Gaiman of Stardust, American Gods and Good Omens fame launched an amazing and innovative art project this week. The idea was to send out twitter questions for each month of the year over a twelve hour period. People responded with answers that would become prompts for stories. Gaiman has been blown away by the response. You can read his blog about it here:

UK Fantasy Series Being Human has had its final season announced!

And George R. R. Martin takes on some new projects:

Discussion and speculation under the cut.

Review: Hot Toys Black Widow (The Avengers)!

Now this is the moment I’ve been waiting for. I’ve been excited to slowly assemble the Hot Toys’ The Avengers collection of 1/6th scale collectible figures but it should be no secret to regular readers of this site that Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow is easily my favourite. Is this because Black Widow is the smartest, funniest, deadliest, most dynamic? No, it’s because I am shallow. And if we’re both cool with that, we can happily move on.

When initially revealed via Hot Toys’ official photography, this is the one that created the most mixed reaction. The Scarjo likeness has been questioned, and the rooted hair looked problematic. Since then there’s been a few changes so I’m really eager to open this up, see it in person and assess how well this figure works.

I don't think we needed to worry. Let’s reveal more Black Widow... after the jump!

Thank GIF it's Friday

I love a good Haters Gonna Hate Disney gif.

Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Classic Collection Raphael!

I haven’t bought anything Ninja Turtles related for a billion years. The original comic series inspired me greatly as young teenager and became a gateway to a host of independent comics and fostered the crazy dream that anyone with a good idea could become a multi-millionaire. Then I suffered the kidified cartoons and merchandise that ultimately made me feel embarrassed for liking the comics in the first place. And then I left turtles, forgetting why they were so formative in the first place.

I collect a lot of crap that reminds me of my childhood. I have shelves of Star Wars and the odd Batman. But I’ve never gone back to turtles. They’ve produced nothing of interest for me. It became a kid’s thing with little of interest for an adult fan. At least until now...

When Playmates first announced their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Classic Collection there was a lot of positive buzz online but I wasn’t feeling it. They’re closer to the cartoon appearance than the comics and didn’t hold any interest. Until I saw them on the shelves. Wait... they’re bigger than the original figures? They have... what?! 34 POINTS of articulation?! And that packaging is pretty nostalgic... And that sculpt is actually pretty fun... Oh god!... It’s... happening... again...

I needed a Raphael for my shelf. And to find out just why these are so great... join me after the jump!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

In Praise of ABC Family's "Bunheads," the Guiltiest of Guilty Pleasures

As much as I love all sorts of fantasy books and video games and sci-fi shows and what have you, there is a part of me that, at the end of the day, is little more than a fifteen year old girl. This part of me likes reading young adult romance novels, is a huge fan of Meg Cabot (writer of The Princess Diaries), and so on. That part of me was drawn to Gilmore Girls back in the day, when my wife and I effectively blew through seven seasons of the show in about two months time. I became an unabashed fan of Amy Sherman-Palladino, even through that really misguided The Return of Jezebel James with Parker Posey, so I was very ready to get on board with a new show.

One other thing about my past I forgot to mention? I took tap dancing lessons for ten years as a child. This isn't shtick - I tried 'em all, but tap stuck with me and I tap danced from ages four to fourteen. That part of you really never goes away, so when I read that Amy Sherman-Palladino was offering a) a new show b) similar to Gilmore Girls c) that involved dancing? Yeah, I'm in.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Rest Iron (Monopoly) Piece

The iron is dead. Monopoly fans killed it off, sending it to the graveyard of long lost game pieces. Along with the long forgotten cannon, airplane, and lantern… the iron was rarely the first choice by Monopoly players. It wasn't even the 5th or 6th choice, and as a result the poor iron spent most of its life in the Monopoly box, never exploring the famous Atlantic City streets.

After todays unfortunate announcement, we took the iron for a long-deserved tour of the real Atlantic City. Click through the jump for some of the most memorable moments.

Game of Thrones Character Shots: A Book Reader Perspective

I’m a big fan of A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin, the book series that has spawned the wonderful television series, Game of Thrones. I’m invested in the books to a significant degree and I want the show to be successful while remaining true to the spirit and story of the books. Now, a television series is a very different beast to a fantasy book series, there are too many characters and plots for Game of Thrones to do full justice to the book series (I recommend that you read the books, they are incredible), but so far, the television series has included most of the major plotlines in all their glory.

To be clear, I am afraid. I am afraid that the choices made in the television series will influence the development of the outcomes and characters in the book. I’ve heard George R. R. Martin comment on some of his choices vs. the show runner choices and I am terrified. I want to shake him. Yes! The television show and the book series are different beasts, remember that George. Because already I can see the non-inclusion of some characters, the hybridising of others, the change in plot arcs detracting from the intricate maze in the books. I’m worried that because someone hasn’t showed up in the show they can’t be part of the major arc they occupy in the book, or that someone who has stayed too long or been too well developed has been so at the expense of other really important characters. Don’t screw me George R. R. Martin!

Recently, the lovely Suzanne put a Game of Thrones Character Shot post on the site. You can view it at: . In it she looks at new shots of various old and new characters reacting as a connoisseur of the show alone. Here’s my take on the character castings and plots from a book perspective, but beware, here be spoilers. I will keep them vague, and certainly to seasons 1&2 of the show as well as to vague portions of the book. As most book enthusiasts agree, the two parts of book 3 are the best and are crucial to the game. The show runners of Game of Thrones seem to agree. Let’s see how they go.

Let's Talk About the Confirmed Standalone Star Wars Films and What We Can Expect!

Disney’s Bob Iger has confirmed that standalone Star Wars films will be produced concurrently with the new sequel trilogy. These separate films will focus on existing characters from the saga and further develop their stories. According to Bob, this is what screenwriters Lawrence Kasdan (Empire Strikes Back) and Simon Kinsberg are currently working on. Rumour is that the first character to be tackled is Yoda, which is inline with rumours from over a year ago. I recall reading an old report that Lucasfilm were looking at making prequels to the prequels, centered around the history of a certain tiny green Jedi. I assume that these stirrings were in fact the initial inklings of what we’re seeing come to fruition now.

So that’s the news part, which you can read anywhere. Now for the rampant speculation and opinion as to what all this could mean... after the jump!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Kickstart the Week with Compounded: Better Gaming Through Chemistry

Compounded is missing link between science nerds with board game nerds (forget about the Big Bang Theory). It's a game where players must manage their elements to build chemical compounds. Does that sound nerdy enough?

It's actually very accessible for all types of gamers and their non-gamer friends, And it's a lot of fun. I played it back at Origins 2012 and here was my reaction:

While at the DiceHateMe booth, I was able to play my first full game of Origins. It was Darrell Louder's Compounded, which I sadly missed out on at Unpub 2 and various events since. In the game, players must commit chemicals to various tiles on the board, trying to make chemical compounds. You also have to claim the compounds before someone else jumps on it, or before it catches fire. I had a blast playing this game, and can't wait to play it again. The design is very solid, and seeing the graphic design work that they've started on this, I can't wait to see how nice the final product looks.
I'm happy to say the final product looks amazing. Right in line with the Dice Hate Me product line. 

Did I mention it has a periodic table of the elements scoring track?

The early success of this project is a good sign, as well as a good way to measure the quality of the game. It was fully funded within 36 hours of its launch, and is now about to hit the 400% mark. The reviews and recaps have been very positive, and the momentum hasn't shown any sign of slowing down.

If you're interested in chemicals, lab fires, elements, pressing your luck, and high quality board game production... you should probably check out Compounded. The base game is $42 on Kickstarter and ships in August.

Compounded on Kickstarter:

Stryder's Favourite Comics - 1/30/2013

Every month goes by in a flash when you're a comic book fan, and January is no exception as the last week of comics for the month is already here!  They dumped another 10 issues on me last Wednesday! Here's what I got:

Batman and Robin Annual #1 - "Let's see what the kid has up his sleeve...Game on."

I really loved the story presented in this annual.  It's a tale of Damian and Bruce Wayne, far more than one of Batman and Robin, and a tale that takes a lot of time to add little touches and humanizing qualities to both members of the Dynamic Duo.  Damian sets up a scavenger hunt of sorts for Bruce, sending him around the world in search of special "surprises" that he's cooked up...all of which revolve around getting to know the Wayne family a little better!  Not one to ever play things exactly straight up, however, Damian is using this same opportunity to trick his father into leaving him alone in Gotham City, whereupon he's decided to be "Batman" for a few days all by himself!  How long will it take the "World's Greatest Detective" to clue in to his son's ruse? 

This book really highlights Damian's character and character growth throughout the series and I thought it was great!  I've been pretty worried lately that between "Death of the Family" and Batman, Incorporated, that Damian Wayne may just be killed off...stories like this make me sincerely hope he is NOT!

Superman, The Flash and more after the JUMP!!

Iron Man 3 Extended Look

Superbowl XLVII didn't only bestow upon us a kickass game of football which the Niners tried really hard to win and the Ravens tried really hard to not lose, we also got an Extended Look at the new Iron Man movie. Oh, you've already seen it? Be quiet, just watch it again.

You know what, if that ended at 35 seconds, I would have been ok with it. We don't see a huge amount of new stuff here, apart from the extended plane scene which is pretty cool. If I'm perfectly honest I found it a touch underwhelming and it seemed a bit of a waste to debut it during such a big event. I may well just be emotionally guarding myself because after Iron Man 2 turned out to be such a pile of excrement I just don't know if I can deal with being hurt again.

Tony don't hurt me. Don't hurt me. No more.

The Book Was Better Podcast Episode 35: Jaws 2 (With Guest Host Tristan Fidler!)

Here it is! The moment of truth! As co-host Jess temporarily departs to pop out a baby, The Book Was Better podcast enters a brand new phase with a series of wonderful guest hosts!

In this first new episode I am joined by film buff, radio host and fellow podcaster Tristan Fidler as we tackle the ridiculously over-the-top novelization of Jaws 2! 95% different from the film, this rough diamond adds casual racism, misogyny, the US Navy, forensics, a seal, a porpoise, and the goddamn mafia! This is one not to miss!

You can download it right now at the official site, or why not subscribe to us on iTunes so we can pump more forgotten books into your eager head every single damn week!

Monday, February 4, 2013

More Kaiju Kaos Miniatures with Optithulhu the Eldritch Horror!

Bailey Records is continuing its Kaiju Kaos: Smackdown miniatures line with some very limited edition (and inexpensive!) casts of their kool kharacters. (They don't spell it that way, but it seemed necessary in a Quarriors kind of way.)

As 8pm EST tonight creeps up on us, so does the launch of Optithulhu the Eldritch Horror. He's the latest of their limited edition miniatures, and limited to just 10 castings in each color.

Here he is all painted up:

Or, if you cannot paint (like me) you could leave him in his cool limited edition colors. I have a certain fondness for the "Snow White" Optithulhu.
Each color is limited to 10 castings. In addition to these limited colors, a “gamer gray” version will be made available in unlimited quantity initially at Storenvy and then permanently at and at gaming and comic book conventions. The first offerings are: ·         Snow White (opaque white resin) for $8 each·         Green Ice (clear emerald green resin) for $10 each·         Gamer Gray (opaque gray resin) for $8 each

Check them out at: 

The Readthrough of Time: The Eye of the World - The Graphic Novel

Having struggled a bit through The Wheel of Time, but overall leaving the series feeling positive on a whole, I figured a good endcap would be trying out the graphic novel adaptation of The Eye of the World, which only covers the first section of the novel.

The good is that it does what Jordan was incapable of doing - it boils the story down to (for the most part) its important essences. The story feels a lot more concise and the point of what's going on comes about a lot clearer. With that said, it's effectively eight issues that probably could have been shrunken a bit, but it's simply a difference between what I found important and what Chuck Dixon, who adapted the book.

The bad is that the artwork is much more manga-esque than I expected, and looks less like paper art and more like something devised up on a computer. I'm hardly an art purist, nor do I pretend to know much of anything about art, but expecting a graphic novel and getting something different was continually jarring. Seeing Rand in particular with hair that looked straight out of an anime in some scenes was a bit different for me.

Overall, the book is far from a failure. It does a good job with the source material, and clearly people are enjoying it so far. At this point, it's not so much that it's not good, but more simply that it's just not for me.

Hot Toys Reveals Iron Man 3: 1/6th scale Power Pose Mark XLII Collectible Figurine

What a mouthful that heading is. Our dear friends at Hot Toys are having so much success with their Iron Man figures that they've branched out even further for their Iron Man 3 collection with a new line entitled "power pose".

My initial interpretation of this phrase was that these would be super articulated figures that could pose dynamically. It appears that almost the exact opposite is true. Instead these are mostly non-articulated 1/6th scale figures fixed in iconic poses from the film. It does appear that there are some interchangeable parts included though to vary it up a little bit, but these are by no means typical of what Hot Toys has been doing. They still look pretty amazing though. First one up is the Mark XLII. Which sounds like something a fat guy would wear....

For plenty more pictures and some friendly conversation... join me after the jump!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Big Bad Toy Store Highlights! Let's Talk Iron Man 3, DC New 52, Domo, Minecraft and More!

It's that time again to scan over the lists of freshly announced and ready for pre-order toys and collectibles from our friends at Big Bad Toy Store! Sure, they're a sponsor, but to show my hard-hitting journalistic integrity, I only show you the coolest (or most bizarre) items that catch my discerning collector's eye! Like this inevitable set of Iron Man 3 pop vinyl figures....

I doubt it features too prominently in the film (it's Tony in the middle of nowhere without his armour, remember?) but this Iron Patriot design sure looks to be a highlight. It makes me want to proudly eat a hotdog in front of a crying American eagle. And I'm Australian! There's plenty more similar Funko Iron Man effigies at the link: IRON MAN 3 FUNKO ITEMS  

And there's plenty more cutting edge commentary... after the jump!

J J Abrams’ Star Trek

On a week where J J Abrams has been made the Director of the new Star Wars films, and with the Star Trek movie sequel soon to hit cinemas, a few of us watched the 2009 film in preparation on Saturday night.

I first saw the Star Trek movie in Picadilly cinema with a work mate as a reward for a long week. Having never been a big Trekkie (I had seen some of the William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy series) I was excited to be able to get on board fresh and I loved it. This time around has only been my second viewing and I’m going to review the movie based on the re-watch, following it up with some reasons to watch the new movie this year. For more, including spoilers for the first movie, follow behind the cut.