Showing posts from June, 2014

Make Your Own Fake Video Game Covers with the Atari 2600 Game Label Generator

It's no secret that many products rely on flashy packaging to boost their appeal to consumers, although some rely on it much more than others--such as a video game console with primitive graphics, a console like the Atari 2600.

Anyone who was around during the Atari 2600's arrival on store shelves a few decades ago will remember the artwork that went with its early games. Like the box art that was used to promote obscure, low-budget movies in VHS rental shops, the cover art samples on the boxes of Atari 2600 games were much more imaginative and colorful than the games themselves. Naturally, that was by design. According to Susan Jaekel, one of the artists hired by Atari to produce cover art for its games, "I never played the games, I was totally clueless about that. ... As I recall, I don’t know that they really gave me much direction. They just would tell me what the game was about, sort of loosely, and it was up to me to come up with a concept." (Go to the "Ho…

Legends of Cthulhu Action Figures, Brought to You by Warpo!

When it comes to toy collecting, never underestimate the power of nostalgia. Even though companies such as Sideshow Collectibles can produce multi-jointed, highly-detailed action figures of popular characters from comic books, movies and TV shows, there remains a subset of collectors who prefer the simpler approach that toy companies used in the late '70s and early '80s. Back then, the dominant paradigm for action figures followed the approach used by Kenner for its Star Wars toy line: 3 and 3/4th inch figures with simple sculpts and five points of articulation (neck, shoulders and hips). Such a style has been resurrected by companies like Super7 and Zica Toys as a way of appealing to toy collectors who grew up during the '70s and '80s; many of these retro action figures are even sold on blister cards, exactly the way they were packaged back in those days.

Whereas most companies are using pre-established licenses from the '70s, '80s and '90s to help sell th…

Horrors of Malformed Toys: A Gallery of Sofubi Grotesqueries

I recently came across an advertisement for a toy figure produced by Karz Works that is based on the killer plants from the 1963 sci-fi thriller, The Day of the Triffids. Triffid replicas are impossible to find outside of resin model kits, so I'm glad to see that this classic movie monster is getting the toy figure treatment that has already been given many times over to the likes of Dracula, the Mummy, and Frankenstein's Monster. However, one word in the ad stuck out because I had no idea what it meant: "sofubi". In the context of the ad, the Triffid figure is described as a "sofubi vinyl figure", but what that said about the figure itself was a complete mystery to me.

I looked far and wide on the Internet for clarification on the term and the most succinct description I could find is this (which I found on Wiki Answers): "Sofubi is a Japanese style of making toys and sculptures using soft vinyl. It is becoming popular among toy designers in America a…

Seeing a Classic Creature Feature on 3D Blu-ray

Last weekend, I finally got to see the 3D Blu-ray release of the 1954 horror classic, Creature from the Black Lagoon. It was originally released as part of the Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection Blu-ray set back in late 2012, but this is the first time I got to see it on my 3D TV.

Seeing Creature from the Black Lagoon in 3D has been my personal holy grail of sorts. I was born after the 3D film boom between 1952-54, so all I had to go on about these films was what was written about them in books and magazines. Some stills from the films were printed on paper in anaglyph 3D, but that was it. Since the arrival of DVDs, the 3D version of Creature was only available as anaglyph or field sequential bootlegs from a Japanese 3D laserdisc that was released back in the '80s. Naturally, the Creature 3D Blu-ray blows the bootlegs way, way out of the Black Lagoon’s waters.

Watching a 3D creature feature from the '50s in the way it was meant to be seen might not sound like a…

NECA Teams Up with Dark Horse Comics for SDCC 2014 Predator Action Figure

As part of Dark Horse’s reboot of its Predator comic book series, NECA will be releasing a limited edition figure based on the series’ first story arc “Fire and Stone” during the upcoming San Diego Comic Con (SDCC). The figure is based on a character that has been nicknamed “Ahab”. According to the description on the NECA site, "In his prime, Ahab took deadly trophies from countless worlds, his scars a proud record of glorious battle. Now an elder of his tribe, he leaves small game to the next generation as he looks to his final hunt. Following a lifelong obsession, Ahab searches for a creature more formidable than any Predator has ever faced before."

Like other figures in NECA's Predator line, the figure will be 7 inches tall with over 25 points of articulation and accessories that include a removable mask and backpack. Only 5,000 of these figures will be produced, so avid Predator fans will have to stay on their toes if they want to add this impressive item to their col…

Getting Lost in Nintendo Land

Even the most frugal video game geeks can't hold out forever.

As of last weekend, I am an official Wii U owner. I got a refurbished deluxe Wii U set with the Nintendo Land game included. Yes, I am aware of some of the setbacks that Nintendo has been experiencing with its latest console but from what I've personally experienced so far, the Wii U faithfully follows Nintendo's overall ethos of keeping video games approachable, creative and--most importantly--fun.

What has changed for the Wii U (other than the large gamepad, of course) is the conspicuous shift towards online interaction with other Wii U owners. Sure, there were options for online interaction in the previous Wii console, but the Wii U eagerly reminds you that you are part of an expansive, international social network every time you active the console. Read on for more thoughts about Wii U's approach to social networking and why it may appeal the most to those who normally wouldn’t like online gaming.