Posts

Showing posts from 2018

A Look at the Robot Combiners from Tomica Hyper Rescue Drive Head

Image
With the 2018 holiday season officially upon us, now is a great time to talk about toys. For this blog, that usually means robot toys--in this case, a series of robot combiners based on the 2017 anime series Tomica Hyper Rescue Drive Head Kido Kyukyu Keisatsu.

The Super Robot Reign of Godaikin

Image
I've written plenty of posts about Japanese robot toys that were sold in the U.S. during the '70s and '80s, but one line that I never got into too much detail about is Godaikin, a selection of "Super Robot" toys that were sold here between 1982 - 86. Unlike other imported Japanese robot toy lines of its time, Godaikin never became a household name; however, between its brief, unique history and the high quality of its products, Godaikin remains one of the best Super Robot toy lines ever released.

Jaws 3D vs. The Meg 3D

Image
Last weekend, I finally got around to seeing The Meg in 3D. While it doesn't set a new standard in sharksploitation excellence, it's fun enough in its own right, the 3D effects are pretty good, and it's leagues ahead of all the cheapjack sharksploitation films that have surfaced over the years (e.g., Atomic Shark, Santa Jaws, Nightmare Shark, the Sharknado movies, etc.).

The Freemakers Return for a Curtain Call in Lego Star Wars: All-Stars

Image
Last year, I had the pleasure of discovering Lego Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures, an animated escapade through a Lego version of the Star Wars universe that featured a great voice cast, witty scripts, and enough Easter Eggs to keep Star Wars fans rewinding and pausing their video playback machines for hours on end. The series ran for a total of 26 episodes across two seasons, and not much was said about the future of the Freemaker family after that … until the arrival of Lego Star Wars: All-Stars, which debuted last October on various Disney media channels (e.g., Disney XD and DisneyNOW).

Even though All-Stars has been touted as a series of eight shorts and four episodes that span the entire Star Wars saga, it really is the third season of Freemaker Adventures. It uses Lego-themed parodies of Solo: A Star Wars Story to provide an origin story for the Freemaker family, and then it fast-forwards to the sequel trilogy era (The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi) to explore what happene…

Examining and Understanding Human Behavior Through VR

Image
In my opinion, the one unique aspect about virtual reality (VR) that the media does not fully grasp is how its interactive, real-time simulations within simulated three-dimensional space can influence and observe users in ways that other forms of media (e.g., print, radio, television, and film) cannot. Because of the advanced computational power that supports it, VR can measure the behavior of its users and then be modified based upon the data collected to create better, more impactful experiences. This unique trait of VR was the topic of "Enter The Mind: Virtual Reality and Psychology", an event that was sponsored by DC Virtual Reality (DCVR) and Virtual Reality User Experience (VRUXDC) and hosted at the AARP’s Hatchery last Tuesday night in Washington DC.

The two presenters at this event were Dr. Susan Persky, who directs the Immersive Virtual Environment Testing Area (IVETA) in the Social and Behavioral Research Branch (SBRB) within the National Human Genome Research Inst…

Opening on December 1st: PLAYlive Nation in Annapolis, MD

Image
If you're a tabletop or video gamer who lives in the Baltimore and Washington DC area, you're in luck. A new location of the PLAYlive Nation social gaming lounge is holding its grand opening celebration at noon on December 1st at the Westfield Annapolis Mall in Maryland. The Annapolis location will be the first PLAYlive Nation in the state, as well as the first PLAYlive Nation along in the northeastern coast of the U.S.

Memories of Stan Lee (1922 - 2018)

Image
With the recent passing of Stan Lee, my membership in the lifestyle cult of geekhood requires me to write a post that reflects upon Lee's monumental influence on modern nerd culture. Even though I've consumed countless Marvel comic books, cartoons, TV shows and movies, I would hardly consider myself to be well-versed in the history of Marvel comics and Lee's career. Nevertheless, I can definitely say that there's something genuinely welcome and endearing about a creator who's ready and willing to play alongside his creations in the same sandbox.

Three Important Things to Know About Virtual Reality

Image
I've been spending plenty of my spare time as of late exploring the technology known as virtual reality (VR). While it has been a very enlightening experience so far, I had quickly come to realize that I started my jaunt into the virtual world without answering one fundamental question: What exactly is VR? If you are uncertain about VR too, don't worry. Here are three things that I learned about VR that should help you navigate this emerging platform of interactive media so you can get the most out of it.

A Look at the Expanded Edition of Jaws 2: The Making of the Hollywood Sequel

Image
With 2018 marking the 40th anniversary of Jaws 2, it only seems appropriate that Jaws fans are treated with something special to commemorate this franchise milestone. That special something is the expanded edition of Jaws 2: The Making of the Hollywood Sequel, which was written by Michael A. Smith with Louis R. Pisano and published by BearManor Media. Read on to learn more about the expanded version of this behind-the-scenes book, and why it’s worth the double dip (no pun intended) for those who have the original 2015 edition.

The Shocking Secret of Boba Fett!

Image
The other week, I heard that the long-rumored stand-alone Boba Fett movie has been scrapped by Lucasfilm in favor of The Mandalorian, a live-action TV project that's being helmed by Jon Favreau. While some Star Wars fans may be disappointed by this news, I think it's probably a good idea. As someone who grew up with the original Star Wars trilogy and witnessed the bounty hunter's introduction to the public back in the late '70s, there's only one thing that you need to know in order to understand Boba Fett: He's a misdirectional sequel teaser.

A Look Back at Topps' Creature Feature Trading Cards

Image
Over the years, I have blogged about many of the classic creature feature items I have either owned or encountered during my childhood, items that deepened my interest in horror and sci-fi movies to the point where such an interest became a lifestyle choice. These trips down memory lane have provided to me a greater understanding of how studios such as Universal and American International kept their movie monsters alive in the imaginations of kids long after they stopped scaring audiences at local theaters. This post is devoted to one of the collectibles I picked up on a whim in the early '80s: a set of collectible trading cards from Topps' Creature Feature set.

Mobile Suit Gundam Model Kits Just Got Closer to Actual Robothood

Image
A few years ago, I published a post about how some Japanese robot model kits (and a few Japanese robot toys) are so detailed that they include removable panels that reveal the internal workings of the robot. Such attention to detail gives the robots a sense of verisimilitude, with these internal workings suggesting that the robots are actual machines with actual functional parts. However, thanks to Bandai’s BN Bot brand, some of these model kits are about to get just that: functional, programmable parts.

The Wolf Man--and Lon Chaney Jr.--Join Wave 3 of Limited-Release Mego Figures (Updated)

Image
Last week, I posted about two monster figures (Dracula and Frankenstein's Monster) that have been included in the recent relaunch of the Mego toy company. Based on what I found online, it looks like the Wolf Man is poised to join the other Mego monsters, even without the official blessing from Universal.

Mego Returns, Bringing Dracula and Frankenstein's Monster with It

Image
For as much as I have written about Mego and Mego-inspired products on this blog, I've been very lax on responding to this tidbit of news: During the last San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC), original Mego Corporation Chairman Marty Abrams announced that he was relaunching the Mego brand through a selection of limited-run 8-inch and 14-inch figures that will be sold exclusively at Target. Wave 1 of the figures was released back in August, and wave 2 was released in September.

While I know that Mego still has a passionate fan base, I'm baffled about why anyone would want to do a Mego revival at this point. So many other toy companies have capitalized on Mego nostalgia (e.g., Distinctive Dummies, Figures Toy Co., NECA, etc.) that officially reviving Mego now feels anticlimactic. Furthermore, the Mego figures I most fondly remember were the ones based on popular superheroes (DC and Marvel) and sci-fi franchises (Planet of the Apes and Star Trek). While the new Mego figures have some DC …

Are Smartphone-Based Headsets Leaving the VR Market?

Image
I've spent the last few months trying to wrap my head around the current state of virtual reality (VR)--the technology, the applications, the markets, and so on. With the rise of Google Cardboard and smartphone-compatible headsets such as Samsung Gear and Google Daydream, it looked like smartphones would be one of the key platforms that push VR and VR-compatible content to the general public. Now, that platform appears to be falling apart.

Pixelized Paint on a Computerized Canvas: A Look at VR Painting

Image
Recently, I heard about a kickoff event that was sponsored by DC Virtual Reality (DCVR) called "Paint the World: A VR Painting Pop-Up Public Event". Held last week on October 2nd in downtown DC, the event promoted VR technology and education and to raise funds that will assist in getting VR tech to communities. While this is a worthy goal, some of you might be asking: What exactly is VR painting? Read on to find out ...

ReAction Readies New Phantom Figure; DC Characters Get He-Man Makeovers

Image
This year’s New York Comic-Con (NYCC) was held last week and, as with most events such as these, two NYCC toy announcements caught my attention.

Nerd Parents Conjure Up Harry Potter's Diagon Alley in Maryland

Image
It always brings a smile to my face whenever I hear about parents encouraging their kids to become the next generation of devoted geeks. Case in point: Two Harry Potter fans in Maryland built a replica of Diagon Alley in their backyard for their daughter's birthday.

Mario Kart VR Arrives in Washington DC

Image
It's finally happening: The virtual reality (VR) version of one of Nintendo's most beloved kart racing titles is making its debut this week in our nation's capital, courtesy of Bandai Namco.

The Unlikely Success of the Predator Franchise

Image
This month saw the release of The Predator, the latest film in the sci-fi creature feature franchise that started back in 1987. I haven't seen the new film yet, but I have been looking over the reviews to see how critics have reacted to the newest installment in a film series that celebrated its 30th anniversary just last year. Of course, most of the critics have been dismissive of the movie, which I've come to expect from critics when they talk about monster movie sequels. However, based on what I know about the franchise as a whole, it surprised me how much most critics don't know about the Predator series. If they did, they wouldn't be asking why Predator movies keep being made even though they don't make blockbuster amounts of revenue at the box office.

Predator arrived in the middle of Hollywood's string of testosterone-laden, macho action star-driven adventure blockbusters during the 1980s, blockbusters that banked on the appeal of stars such as Sylvester…

USA Today Enters the Realm of Virtual, Augmented News

Image
Whenever a new form of electronic media enters popular culture, it will inevitably face a significant amount of challenges to define itself as something different from other mediums while simultaneously making itself accessible and appealing to as many people as possible. Such is the case of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), both of which use features from established electronic mediums (e.g., video games, digital video, and portable computing) to create new kinds of content.

Of course, creating new kinds of electronic media is one thing; creating new kinds of electronic media as an extension of a pre-existing media platform is something else. The later issue was the main topic of “Designing the Next Generation of News”, a presentation that was held last Thursday evening at the Washington DC office of AARP and was co-sponsored by DC Virtual Reality (DCVR) and USA Today.

“Designing the Next Generation of News” was presented by the Emerging Tech team from USA Today: Ray So…

A Look at Collectible Big Bang Theory Figures

Image
A few weeks ago, CBS announced that this upcoming season would be the last for the long-running sitcom The Big Bang Theory. As a huge fan, I was a bit disappointed to hear this news; on the other hand, the show is still quite good for something that has already been on the air for 11 seasons, so it's probably best for Big Bang to go out on a high note.

That said, this post isn't about The Big Bang Theory as a TV show. Instead, I thought that I would take a look at the show's merchandising--specifically, the collectible figures. Half-hour, live-action TV shows rarely get the collectible figure treatment and even though the nature of Big Bang's comedy lends itself well to collectible figures, it's still pretty amazing to see the kinds of figures this merchandising license has cranked out over the years.

Anyone who knows anything about The Big Bang Theory can tell you that nerd-friendly collectibles are on display in every episode. The main characters' living spac…