Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Adventures in 3D Blu-ray Rentals

It's tough being a geek on a budget.

Last weekend saw the release of the much-hyped Godzilla reboot, which is available in both 2D and 3D versions. The good news is that it's been getting great reviews and earning kaiju-sized profits at the box office; the bad news is that if you want to take a significant other with you to enjoy the film in its full three-dimensional glory, you'll have to fork over at least $25. That doesn't include refreshments and a meal before or afterwards. What those prices, what's a 3D monster movie loving geek who is low on disposable cash to do?

Fortunately, in our age of seemingly endless supply of digital media content, the Mrs. and I found an solid alternative: a online 3D Blu-ray rental service named 3D-blurayrental.com (easy to remember, eh?).

3D content has gotten the short end of the stick in comparison to most other digital media these days. Our cable provider carries a selection of 3D titles, but the selection is small and limited to newer releases. If you want to see an older 3D movie--say, something released before 2013--you won't find anything. Netflix has been experimenting with streaming 3D content, but their selection is extremely poor and the streaming frequently crashes. Thus, after a careful search for alternatives outside of what we already have, 3D-blurayrental.com is the best bet we've found so far for 3D movie rentals.

The first title we rented was Jurassic Park 3D, the recent re-release of Steven Spielberg's 1993 2D blockbuster. (The way I saw it, if we couldn't see one 3D giant monster movie in the theaters, why not watch a different 3D giant monster at home?) The transfer from 2D to 3D is astonishing; while there was some crosstalk in a few of the scenes, the majority of the film benefits greatly from the added depth. The disc also included a 3D short that explained the 3D conversion process used for Jurassic Park. With such an impressive conversion process, there's no reason why other special effects-intensive Spielberg movies (e.g., Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the Indiana Jones movies, etc.) couldn't be transferred to 3D.

Of course, the easy rental process of 3D-blurayrental.com made it worthwhile. It operates like Netflix in that you receive the disc in the mail in an envelope that can be re-used to send the disc back. You can either pay for each rental individually, or you can select a monthly subscription plan. Even though 3D Blu-ray rentals are this company's main selling point, it also has a robust selection of 2D Blu-ray titles from which to choose as well.

High-definition 3D content might not be ready for massive online distribution yet, but it's nice to see a company like 3D-blurayrental.com give it a shot at affordable rental prices. Cash-strapped 3D geeks like me are very thankful for that.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Terminator Toy Review (Part 2 of 2): Playmates and Bladez

Terminator Salvation, or T4, arrived in theaters during May of 2009, just as its tie-in toy line by Playmates Toys had found its way into toy stores. The preceding 2003 sequel, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, did not have a toy line; all of its collectible miniatures (e.g., intricate busts and figures) were aimed at an older demographic, which was in line with T3's R rating. The 2008 TV series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which only lasted for two seasons, didn't feature any collectible miniatures for any demographic at all. So what made T4 different? Read on to find out!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Terminator Toy Review (Part 1 of 2): Kenner and Galoob

For something that has been plagued by ownership issues for most of its history, the Terminator franchise has proven to be quite profitable. So far, it has four films to its name (with a fifth on the way), a TV series (with another one rumored to be in production as a complementary narrative for the fifth film), and dozens upon dozens of comic books, novels and video games.

This two-part post will look at one of the more unusual aspects of the franchise: toys. I'm not talking about the highly-detailed Terminator action figures produced by companies like NECA, or the highly-detailed and super-expensive Terminator action figures produced by companies by Hot Toys; I'm talking about Terminator toys that were specifically designed for the pre-teen set. I'm not sure what convinced toy company executives that genocidal robots from the future that cover themselves with human flesh as camouflage would be the perfect play time pals for kids, but that's what happened twice (so far) during the franchise's history. Read on …

Monday, May 5, 2014

Classic Anime Mecha Go to War in Mobile Suit Gundam: MS Front 0079 Video Game

I still haven't invested in a new gaming console yet, but that hasn't kept me from enjoying the console I already have--the Nintendo Wii--by picking up exclusives that were released outside of the U.S. Today's post is my review of Mobile Suit Gundam: MS Front 0079, a title that was released only in Japan by Namco Bandai back in 2007.

As non-U.S. releases go, I was able to purchase MS Front for a decent price on eBay. It wasn’t prohibitively expensive like other foreign Wii titles such as Zangeki no Reginleiv or Ikenie no Yoru, so I decided to see what it was like. Even though I only have a passing familiarity with the expansive Gundam franchise, that didn't keep me from enjoying this game for hours on end. MS Front is one of the best games I've played about mecha (i.e., giant robots with human pilots); it's like opening a toy box full of big 'bots with which to play. Read on for my complete review.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Star Wars Diecast Vehicles are Returning to Our Galaxy

Three diecast Star Wars vehicle replicas from the late '70s.

With more and more news stories appearing online about the next Star Wars movie and the upcoming Star Wars: Rebels cartoon, it only makes sense that the merchandising wing of the franchise is going to hope on the hype bandwagon. Of the upcoming toy releases, one harkens back to a long-standing tradition within the Star Wars fan community: miniature diecast vehicles.

There’s never been a shortage of Star Wars vehicle toys and model kits, but I always had a soft spot for the die-cast replicas because they provided movie-accurate scale proportions and details without requiring competent model-building skills to assemble them. Hasbro’s Titanium Series was the most recent line to carry diecast Star Wars vehicles, but that line also included replicas from other franchises such as Transformers and Battlestar Galactica. According to Rebelscum.com, the new series is being released by Disney and each vehicle will be available in two sizes: the smaller vehicles, which will sell for $9.95, and the larger deluxe vehicles, which will sell for $19.95. Early word has it that the deluxe vehicles will be closer in size to Hasbro’s line of Action Fleet vehicles.

Click below to see photos of the prototypes based on vehicles from the original trilogy (photos provided by Rebelscum.com). Please note that the photos are of the prototypes and not the final products.