Showing posts from 2018

Exploring the Virtual Worlds of Maryland: A Recap of Last Weekend’s Baltimore and DC Virtual Reality Meetup in Annapolis

Most of the subjects that I write about on this blog originate from Hollywood, which is on the opposite end of the country from me. On the other hand, plenty of exciting things are happening in the area of immersive, interactive 3D media—augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR)—at companies that are located in my figurative backyard. Thus, when I heard that there was going to be an informal gathering of AR/VR enthusiasts at Annapolis, Maryland last weekend, I jumped at the chance to see what these technical wizards are working on to bring virtual content to the public through a variety of venues and applications. Read on ...

Last weekend’s event was organized through by two groups: Bmore VR and DC Virtual Reality (DCVR). As their respective names suggest, these groups consist of AR/VR professionals from Baltimore and Washington DC. The Annapolis event was the first meeting that involved both groups, and the event’s location was chosen as the midway point between both …

Muscular Movie Monsters Terrorize Funko’s Savage World Action Figure Line

Some time ago when I was in a deeply daft state of mind, I wondered what a He-Man parody would look like if it were mashed together with Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It would be called "Eat-Man and the Flesh Eaters of the Universe", where Prince Adam (the best chili chef in all of Eternia) uses the magic chainsaw he found at Castle Flayedskull to become Eat-Man, a Frank Frazetta-ized version of Leatherface. I guess somebody over at the Funko toy company must have read my mind because with its upcoming Savage World action figure line, that’s what we’ll be getting ... and then some.

In the Savage World line, Funko will be taking five icons of ‘70s and ‘80s horror—Freddy Krueger, Leatherface, Michael Myers, Pinhead, and Jason Voorhees—and reimagining them as hyper-muscular fantasy characters what would fit alongside He-Man and Thundercats action figures. These figures will be available in September, and below are the preview photos of the figures that Funko published online yesterda…

Militarized Mechs: The Acid Rain Toy Line

When I was growing up during the '80s, Hasbro had two of the most popular toy lines: Transformers, a selection of imported, transforming Japanese robot toys that were repackaged into a single line, and G.I. Joe, a relaunch of its classic toy line into the 3.75-inch scale. In response to Hasbro, Kenner launched M.A.S.K. (Mobile Armored Strike Kommand), a toy line that tried to combine the dominant traits of Transformers and G.I. Joe. Instead of transforming robots and military vehicles, M.A.S.K. consisted of common, everyday vehicles such as motorcycles and cars that would transform into militarized assault craft with guns, armor plating, missile racks and rocket launchers. Now, 30 years later, another company is trying its hand at transformable, militarized machines: Acid Rain.

I’m not sure how long the Acid Rain line has been around, but references to its products have been popping up on enough of the websites that I frequent that I had to check it out for myself. Created and des…

What Went Wrong with The Lego Batman Movie--and Why It Matters

Sometimes, I don't like being right. When The Lego Batman Movie arrived in theaters last year, something about the trailers didn't look right to me. Obviously, it was intended to be a parody of Batman through the lens of a Lego-themed Batman world, but it felt like the movie was going to be something else so I avoided it ... until last weekend, when my curiosity got the best of me. It turned out that my initial instincts were right: For as goofy and absurd as it strives to be, The Lego Batman Movie simply isn't funny. However, what irked me the most was why it isn't funny, especially for a toy company that has otherwise mastered the art of genre parody. Read on ...

It's All About Mii: Thoughts on Nintendo's Tomodachi Life and Miitopia

I've played so many kinds of video games over the years, from brief coin-op adventures in video game arcades to hours-long campaigns on home consoles. However, one particular kind of gaming never made sense to me: the "life simulator". The idea of creating and managing the day-to-day life of a set of characters (human or otherwise) never appealed to me as a form of entertainment. It seemed too boring: there were no impulsive thrills, no high scores to accumulate, and no unlockable rewards at the end of a story. I held this opinion before Nintendo exposed me to its iconic avatars, the Miis.

My experience with the Miis proved one of the most valuable lessons in promoting a new technology: If you want users to desire a product, it has to engage them both creatively and emotionally. Thus, what better way to accomplish this goal than by allowing users to put faces of their own design on the product? Read on ...

A Book Review of Theatre of Fear & Horror: The Grisly Spectacle of the Grand Guignol of Paris, 1897-1962

As a devoted genre fan, I've spent plenty of time researching various forms of 20th century horror entertainment. While reading dozens of books and watching dozens of documentaries about horror novels, comic books, movies, TV shows, cartoons, and toys, I noticed occasional mentions of Grand Guignol, a form of live stage horror that was performed in France from the 1890s until the early 1960s. Before Universal created movie monsters ... before EC Comics printed ghoulish tales of terror in full color ... before England compiled its video nasty list ... there was Grand Guignol. The exact details of this kind of horror eluded me for years, until I got my hands on what some consider to be a definitive text on the subject: Theatre of Fear and Horror: The Grisly Spectacle of the Grand Guignol of Paris, 1897-1962, written by Mel Gordon and published by Feral House.

The Creature from the Black Lagoon Versus Count Gore de Vol—in 3D!

The 1950s heralded the arrival of two significant things in horror entertainment history: 3D creature features and horror hosts. Even though both of these attractions are well past their golden ages, that didn’t stop Washington DC’s local horror icon Count Gore de Vol from hosting a 3D showing of Creature from the Black Lagoon last Saturday evening at the American Film Institute (AFI) Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, Maryland. This event, along with the upcoming release of the Revenge of the Creature sequel on 3D Blu-ray at the end of next month, makes this summer a great time to be a horror movie fan. Read on ....

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Will Return in 2019

Thank the maker!

HoloTats: Wearable AR Fun!

For the last few years, I've been keeping my eyes on the latest developments in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) to see how companies are applying these technologies to pique consumer interest in these new technologies. Of the many applications I've seen, one that has just been released by Balti Virtual is something that I never would have expected: AR temporary tattoos, or "HoloTats".

8-Bit Beginnings: Art of Atari Book Review

Late film critic Roger Ebert once argued that video games can never be considered art. "No one in or out of the field (of video gaming) has ever been able to cite a game worthy of comparison with the great poets, filmmakers, novelists and poets," he stated. Whether you agree with Ebert’s reasoning or not, plenty of art has definitely been created over the years to help sell the concept of video games to the general public. Such is the thesis of Art of Atari, which was written by Tim Lapetino and published by Dynamite Entertainment in 2016.

Art of Atari begins with an overview of the company’s complete history, followed by more detailed examinations of Atari’s early approaches to its brand identity, its first coin-op arcade cabinets, and its first home consoles. Lapetino devotes most of his book to the art that was produced for the home console games and the artists who contributed their talents to establishing Atari as a pioneering leader in video game entertainment. The boo…

SDCC 2018 Super7 Toy Preview: Planet of the Apes, Universal Monsters, and He-Man

It's the middle of summer, so that means that the annual San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) is around the corner. Here's a sneak peak at some of this year's SDCC toy exclusives from Super7 that have caught my attention (all pictures are provided courtesy of Super7):

The Gods and Monsters of the Cosmos: An Analysis of Alien: Covenant

With "Alien Day" coming up on April 26th (you know, as in LV-426), I figured that I should get around to doing something that I've been meaning to do for months: post a review/analysis of last year's Alien: Covenant. I've been putting this off for some time because even though I love this movie, I've come to the conclusion that there’s plenty of material in the film to unpack if I’m going to write a proper blog post about it. I even felt like I needed to pick up The Art and Making of Alien: Covenant book by Simon Ward and the Alien: Covenant Blu-ray set (specifically, the set that included The Creatures of Alien: Covenant booklet) to ensure that I didn't miss anything in what I write. I don't think that I’ll get to it all, but here's my take on the second Alien prequel just the same. Enjoy ... and yes, there are spoilers ....

In case you have little to no familiarity with the Alien franchise, Alien: Covenant is the second prequel set before Alien,…

Advanced CGI Effects and the Rampage Movie: Was This Really Necessary?

Last weekend saw the debut of Rampage, a film headlining Dwayne Johnson and is based on the '80s coin-op video game of the same name. According to box office stats, Rampage claimed the top spot during its opening weekend, clearly demonstrating that the combination of Johnson's star power and top-notch special effects is worth plenty of money in today's cinema. While I'm sure that Rampage is an enjoyable enough creature feature in its own right, I can't help but to be disappointed at the lost opportunity that this film represents.

Even though the press has been covering this film as a "video game adaptation" (which it is ... sort of), I think that the more accurate description of Rampage is Warner Brothers' attempt to cash in on the latest giant monster movie trend that's been seen in films such as Pacific Rim, Jurassic World and Kong: Skull Island. WB owns Midway Games, the company that created the Rampage video game series; thus, all WB had to do…

Modularity Takes Center Stage in Takara Tomy’s Diaclone Toy Reboot

When it comes to purchases of expensive geek collectibles, I do a pretty good job at restraining myself from spending too much money. However, with its recent re-designs of its Diaclone line, Takara Tomy has been making it difficult for me to keep my financial resources secure.

As anyone who knows their Japanese toy robot history can tell you, Diaclone was a toy line from early ‘80s Japan that Hasbro later imported into the U.S. and repackaged as the Transformers line. However, Hasbro only imported the Diaclone items that transformed between robots and vehicles; the rest of the Diaclone line, which consisted of giant robots that could be rearranged into smaller vehicles and machines, were not included in the Transformers line. So, in order to cash in on the ‘80s toy robot nostalgia bandwagon like Hasbro has, Takara Tomy has been re-designing its non-Transformers Diaclone products and releasing them for the current toy collector market.

Above: One of the toys from the original Diaclone…