Showing posts from 2017

The Force Works in Mysterious Ways in Star Wars: The Last Jedi

The latest Star Wars movie The Last Jedi opened last week, just in time for the holiday shopping season. If the special editions and the prequel trilogy are any indication, the irate fans who hate this new movie will be complaining about it for another decade or two; thus, for the sake of expediency, I figured that I'd chime in with my thoughts before the 2017 wraps up. As Jar Jar Binks would say, meesa tink that Last Jedi is muy muy bombad! Read on for my complete review.

The Last Jedi picks up right where Force Awakens left off. General Leia (Carrie Fisher), Poe Dameron (Oscar Issac) and the rest of the Resistance are busy evacuating their base just as the First Order arrives to counterattack after the loss of their Starkiller weapon. Finn (John Boyega) considers leaving the Resistance until a plucky maintenance worker named Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) convinces him to stay and accompany her on a mission that could save the Resistance from complete destruction. Meanwhile, Rey (…

From Red and Blue to Side-by-Side: Converting Print Anaglyph 3D to Digital Stereoscopic 3D Pictures

One thing that I love about the current era of affordable and portable computer equipment is how it can be used to resurrect (so to speak) media content from previous eras. In this case, I'm talking about converting anaglyph 3D pictures into stereoscopic pictures that can be viewed through a cell phone and a VR head set.

Since I became a 3D enthusiast since the early '80s, I have assembled a small collection of anaglyph 3D pictures that appear to have depth when viewed through filtered red and blue glasses. One of the books I picked up was Amazing 3-D, which was written by Hal Morgan and Dan Symmes and published in 1982. Not only does this book provide a history of 3D media from the 1830s to the 1980s, but it also includes a significant selection of anaglyph 3D pictures from movies, comic books, trading cards, magazines and still photography. Click here to read the Amazing 3-D chapter on 3D comic books, which was reprinted on the 3D Film Archive site.

I've been tinkering ar…

Classic Monsters Attack Lego Worlds

Way back in 2015, I did a post about Lego: Dimensions, Lego's entry into the "toys-to-life" genre of video gaming. Specifically, in light of the many licenses Lego applied to Dimensions (e.g., Back to the Future, Ghostbusters, Scooby-Doo, etc.), I wondered if this video game would get around to incorporating the classic movie monsters that were seen in the Monster Fighters and Pharaoh’s Quest lines of Lego kits. Fast-forward to last month when Lego announced its discontinuation of Dimensions, and it looks like no classic monsters will be added to this game during its run. Yet all is not lost, monster fans: Lego also announced recently that it would be adding a horror-themed DLC expansion pack called "Monster World" to its Lego Worlds video game. Better late than never, I suppose.

I've heard about Lego Worlds before, and it sounded like Lego's attempt to cash in on the popularity of Minecraft's open sandbox style of gaming. While I'm sure that th…

Machine Robo's Bike Robo Gets a DX Upgrade

If I've learned anything from observing the transforming Japanese robot collector community over the last few years, it's this: ANY transforming robot character can be redesigned and rescaled many, many times over.

Last year, Action Toys began releasing vintage Machine Robo MR-600 figures as they appeared in the ‘80s anime series, Machine Robo: Revenge of Chronos. These figures are between four and five inches tall and, thanks to advancements in toy production technology since the '80s, their small sizes can accommodate intricate features and more complex transformation configurations than figures from the original Machine Robo line. The original MR-600 figures were known for their simple yet sturdy designs, which made them suited for rigorous play; the new, more complex figures are obviously aimed at the collectors market, those who are looking for more screen-accurate representations of their favorite Machine Robo 'bots.

Four figures from the Action Toys' Machine…

Coming Soon for Alien Fans: AR Xenomorphs and Weyland-Yutani Blueprints

Even though 20th Century Fox was not pleased with the box office performance of last summer's Alien: Covenant, this franchise’s many lines of merchandise seem to be moving along just fine. Home video sales for Covenant are good, NECA is selling action figures that are based on Xenomorph designs from Capcom's 1994 Aliens vs. Predator arcade game, and Eaglemoss has added Xenomorph designs from Kenner's Aliens toy line from the '90s to its ongoing series of collectible Alien franchise replicas. Furthermore, two reference books are coming out that look like must-haves for die-hard Alien fans like me: The Book of Alien: Augmented Reality Survival Manual by Owen Williams, which is being published by Carlton Books, and Alien: The Blueprints by Graham Langridge, which is being published by Titan Books.

Scheduled for release this November in the U.S., the official description of the The Book of Alien: Augmented Reality Survival Manual is that it was written for “new recruits of…

The Future at a Discount: Five Below's VR Headset

Pioneering cyberpunk author William Gibson once said, "The future is already here--it's just not evenly distributed." That quote ran through my head when I saw a virtual reality (VR) headset for sale for $5 at my local Five Below store. That's even cheaper than a Google Cardboard kit, which costs around $10.

This "VR Lesnse2 Virtual Reality Viewer" headset is nothing more than a plastic shell with a pair of adjustable lenses and elastic head straps; the user has to provide all of the necessary hardware and software. Nevertheless, I had to laugh at how frequently VR is hyped as cutting-edge technology, and yet here it is on sale for $5 in the year 2017 at a local discount store. To be fair, this isn't the first time VR has been used as a sales gimmick to move cheap and lackluster products, although at least this headset provides the option of adding the necessary technology so that some satisfying VR can actually happen.

Snide remarks about cost aside, t…

A Look at Lego Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures

As someone who grew up during the '80s, I am all too familiar with cartoons that have been created for the sole purpose of selling a toy line. Sure, an occasional episode of these cartoons rose above the standard of a 30-minute toy commercial to actually tell a compelling story, but those were frequently the exception to the rule. Times have changed since then, and just because a cartoon has an explicitly commercial purpose does not mean that it is without entertainment value. Such is the case with Lego Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures, which currently airs on the Disney XD channel.

I heard about The Freemaker Adventures while I was browsing around some Star Wars fan sites. Given how other Lego-based media (the video games, TV shows and movies) have shown an impressive degree of wit and creativity, I decided to check this show out to see if it amounted to something more than a means to advertise a new line of licensed Lego Star Wars merchandise. I was pleasantly surprised--The …

Summer Blockbusters, Superhero Franchises, and Media Monopolies

With the summer blockbuster season 2017 tucked away, many articles have been circulating about how this was the lowest-grossing season since 2006. Naturally, these articles include speculation over why this happened, everything from audiences being sick of "gimmicks" such as 3D to superhero movie fatigue. I think that these speculations (which don't have any hard data to back them up, of course) overlook some very key details about the current state of filmmaking, why superhero movies aren't going anywhere, and how the current state of summer blockbuster movies reflect the current state of Hollywood, which is dominated by a handful of powerful media mega-monopolies.

One thing I've noticed that is consistently missing from 2017 summer blockbuster commentary is information about the ongoing rise of high-definition, on-demand video technology. These days, just about any device that has an internet connection and a screen (i.e., HD TVs, smartphones, and touchscreen ta…

Nintendo vs. Virtual Reality

Nintendo earned its popularity over the years by its willingness to experiment with new forms of video gaming. In fact, the popularity of its latest console Switch, a home/portable console hybrid, is a great example of this strategy in action. However, it looks like Nintendo won't be doing anything with virtual reality (VR) any time soon.

This news comes as a surprise to many Nintendo fans, but recent comments made by Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime at Variety's Entertainment and Tech Summit strongly indicate that Nintendo won't be going virtual with the Switch. In his comments, Fils-Aime said that the "problem with VR is that there aren't a lot of experiences that are truly fun."

While I can understand Nintendo's reluctance to invest in VR, this news still baffles me because the company's strategies in recent years would suggest otherwise. The Nintendo 3DS has both stereoscopic gaming capabilities and augmented reality (AR) games, whil…

From Shark City Ozark: The Limited Edition Jaws 2 Bruce Bust

When it comes to high quality Jaws collectibles, no one else does it like Shark City Ozark (SCO).

In a time where just about every popular franchise has licensed its name out various companies for the production of detailed collectibles, SCO rose to the occasion for the woefully underserved Jaws fan community by releasing a series of amazing mechanical shark replicas. Not only did these replicas meticulously capture the intricacies of the mechanical sharks used in the first movie, but SCO has also produced replicas of the sharks from the threesequels with the same amount of outstanding quality.

The latest line of SCO's Jaws collectibles is a series of limited edition 1:6 scale busts of the mechanical sharks. Its newest entry in is a reference to the electrifying ending of Jaws 2: the "Cable-Chomping Scarface Bruce" bust.

As the name suggests, this Jaws 2 bust includes an underwater power cable that can be put in its mouth to give it a sort of "action pose", or …

The Last Jedi Toys: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Disney recently unveiled many of the toys that it plans to release in conjunction with the next Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi, which is scheduled to arrive at the box office in December. None of these toys give away any major plot details for the next chapter in the blockbuster space opera, but they do include new interactive entertainment products ... as well as reminders of Disney's reluctance to move too far away from the original trilogy.

The Good: Of the many Last Jedi toys that have been previewed so far, two interactive toys instantly caught my attention: Sphero's remote control R2-D2 and Lenovo's Star Wars: Jedi Challenges, an augmented reality (AR) lightsaber kit.

Sphero's initial contribution to licensed Star Wars merchandise was a remote control BB-8, which was released for The Force Awakens back in 2015. The new Last Jedi RC toys include R2-D2 and another BB droid named BB-9E, but it's the R2 toy that impresses me the most. Of the many, many electronic…