Sunday, July 23, 2017

Drama in My Ears: Big Finish Productions Listened to May-July

While I had the best of intentions of blogging about the audio dramas from Big Finish Productions as I listened to them, it look like I’ve been falling down on the job. Rather than try to remember my reactions to everything I’ve listened to since March (my last Big Finish post, I think), I’m just going to jump back on the bandwagon with stuff I’ve been listening to more recently. 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

What's In the Box?!?: June Marvel Collector Corps and July DC Legion of Collectors

In this latest Funko subscription box report, we have something of a comics crossover! That’s right; this week I’ll be featuring both the Marvel Collector Corps and DC Legion of Collectors!

Let’s start with the Marvel Collector Corps, which this month features Spider-Man: Homecoming at its theme.

To me, one of the most distinct images of the new movie version of Spider-Man, first seen in Marvel Captain America: Civil War, is his homemade costume. So I’m pleased to see that featured on the box. Plus, it makes it very clear that this box features the movie version, not just a comic version.

Upon opening the box, we see this month’s patch and pin. 

The patch features the new version of the Vulture, masked and goggled. Having seen the movie recently, I was really impressed by Michael Keaton’s portrayal of the Vulture; very down to earth and believable. Much more interesting than the really old man version in the comics.

The pin is based on Spider-Man’s web-shooter hologram from the movies, which in turn evokes the spider-light from the comics.

Lifting the flap, we see the card announcing next month’s theme: First Appearance: Avengers. I’m not quite sure what that even means, so that’s exciting.

As usual, I’ll show the reverse of the card at the end of the unboxing, since it shows all the items in the box.

Beneath the card is this month’s exclusive comic. This time around, it’s the first issue of the new Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man, by Chip Zdarsky and Adam Kubert. I love Spider-Man, I love Chip Zdarsky, and I love Adam Kubert, but I haven’t read this comic yet. (This box arrived right in the middle of some particularly stressful events that affected our household pretty deeply recently, so I’ve been distracted.) The art looks great, and I’m sure the story is fun. As usual, the cover is an exclusive cover, featuring Pop!-ified versions of the characters.

(I should also mention that I was very happy to receive this box before the Wednesday that this comic was released, otherwise I probably would have bought a copy for myself. For once, good timing.)

This month comes with a T-shirt, which should make fans who never want to see anything besides T-shirts very happy. It’s the school shirt for the Midtown School of Science and Technology, Peter’s school. I wore it to the movie when we saw it.

(Fans will recognize the establishing date of the school, 1962, as the year Spider-Man first appeared.)

This month’s exclusive Pop! features Spider-Man with his underarm web wings. I had picked up some of the other Pops from the movie already, including Tony Stark wearing his kitten T-shirt and Peter in his homemade costume. I think this is the only Pop! I have with him wearing the sleeker costume from the movie.

The final items in the box were a pair of Mystery Minis. While there are a whole bunch of Spider-Man Mystery Minis available, the only way to get characters from this movie are in this box. Each box comes with two, but there were four different ones total, so even box subscribers won’t be able to get a complete set very easily. I received Spider-Man in his homemade costume—which I really like—and the new version of Shocker. The other two possibilities were the Vulture and Spidey in his high-tech suit. I’m not as big a fan of the Mystery Minis as I am the Pint-Size Heroes, but these are still nice.

And here is the card detailing the items in the box.

Moving on to DC Legion of Collectors—the second box we’ve received—this month’s theme is a longtime favorite of mine: Batman: The Animated Series.

The box features a nice, weathered-looking silhouette of the Penguin.

This month’s patch and pin feature two popular villains.

The patch is a nice portrait of the Joker. I’ve always been partial to this design for the character. I just wish I had a better way to display all the cool patches we’ve received, although my wife has some ideas.

The pin is of Catwoman. If I’m honest, I prefer the later design of her from the series, as opposed to this one. Still, this is a nice addition to my collection.

The inside of the box is really nicely designed this month as well.

Once we get past the flap with the pins, we see the card revealing next month’s theme. My box arrived really quickly this month, and for once I had no idea what the next them would be until I opened the box. It’s DC’s Most Wanted, so we’ll be getting lots of villain stuff in September’s box.

The comic is an oldie but a goodie: the first issue of the Batman Adventures, the comic adapting the style of the TV series by Kelley Puckett, Ty Templeton, and Rick Burchett. That series represents one of my favorite post-1980s runs of Batman comics, and I’ve been rereading them recently as DC reprints them in a nice series of comprehensive books. This one has an exclusive Pop! cover.

As soon as I saw what lay beneath the comic, I got excited. My wife was seated so she couldn’t see into the box, so I decided to slowly reveal the items to her, leading up to the one that had me the most excited.

First out of the box was this month’s T-shirt. Since the Marvel and Star Wars boxes come with shirts my size, we decided to subscribe to the DC and Disney boxes with her T-shirt size. This is the first box to come with a T-shirt for her, and it’s a beaut. It’s the Batman Animated Series logo head shot of Batman, only Pop!-ified.

This month’s exclusive Pop! is Mr. Freeze, apparently decided by a fan vote. That’s fine; Mr. Freeze, particularly the version in the animated series, is a really poignant and well-designed character. (If memory serves, this version was actually designed by Mike Mignola.) One area in which I fell this Pop! is particularly successful is in capturing the skin tone for the face.

Look at his widdle Bat-arang!
The last item was something that I was hoping for, but was sure had probably already been produced: a Dorbz Ridez of Batman and the Batmobile from the series. I’m a huge fan of all the iterations of the Batmobile, particularly the one from the 1966 TV series. This one is a close second, and it looks great.

Overall, the stripped-down, deceptively simple design of the Batman animated characters is tailor-made for the Funko line. That show is one of my favorite versions of one of my favorite characters, and I’m glad that this month’s toys lived up to my expectations.

As usual when I do a Funko unboxing, picking a Pop! of the Month would be redundant, so that’s it for this week! See you next week!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Catalyst Prime for June: Noble #2 and Accell #1

Last month, I enthusiastically discussed at length how much I enjoyed the first comics from Lion Forge Publishing’s Catalyst Prime superhero universe. I’m pleased to say that in their second month, I’m still a big fan. I want to share my excitement, because it’s hard for any company to launch a superhero line, especially a smaller company. These books deserve to find success, and if I can help spread the word to my loyal readers (well, my wife), then that’s what I will try to do.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

What's in the Box?!?: June Disney Treasures Box

Apologies for no blog entries the past couple of weeks. Things have been pretty stressful in our house again, for reasons I won’t get into here. Hopefully, things will be back on track now.

A little before that stressful hiatus, though, the second Funko Disney Treasures box arrived! The theme this month is Festival of Friends, and Funko had already revealed one of the items that would be in the box. But we’ll get to that once we open the box. First, let’s take a look at the box itself.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

My Birthday Dinner(s)

My birthday was a couple of weeks ago. Traditionally, we celebrate it at home, and my wife makes the best Beef Wellington in the entire world just for us. However, this year, we were going to be traveling on my birthday, and ended up with two birthday dinners at restaurants: one here at home in Las Vegas, one in Monterey, CA. 

Sunday, June 4, 2017

New Comics: Catalyst Prime & Noble

This week is a bit longer than my usual posts; more of an essay than a simple blog post. But it’s about a new line of comics I find myself feeling pretty passionate about, and that I wanted to share with you.

I’ve been a comics reader and fan for as long as I can remember, but I seem to have reached the point where I don't get excited about comics news as much as I used to. If a creator I like is working on a new project or returning to an earlier creation of theirs, my interest is generally piqued. If something I've loved is being reprinted, that generally gets my attention. Otherwise, I now take a "wait and see if it's any good" attitude towards comics news. So I found myself surprised that I was getting pretty excited about Catalyst Prime, a new line of superhero comics in a shared universe from Lion Forge Comics.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

What's in the Box?!? May Star Wars Smuggler's Bounty

I got back from vacation to find the latest Star Wars Smuggler's Bounty box waiting for me, and it was HUGE! Easily the largest box I’ve gotten from any of the Funko subscription series to date. This month’s theme is the 40th anniversary of A New Hope, which I first saw at the Coronet Theater in San Francisco during its initial run. The movie is represented by an image of Princess Leia on the box. Let’s take a look at what’s inside!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

What's in the Box?!? May Funko DC Legion of Collectors

While we have been enjoying the Funko subscription boxes Star Wars Smuggler’s Bounty, Marvel Collector Corps, and the new Disney Treasures, my wife and I had been holding off on subscribing to the DC Legion of Collectors box. I used to be a huge DC Comics fan, but my interest in their books has dropped sharply in recent years, for a number of reasons. Plus, most of their movies do not interest us, so when Funko puts out a box featuring characters from the Suicide Squad or Superman vs Batman movies, we know it’s going to a box chock full of stuff we probably don’t want.

However, when we watched the unboxing video for the March Superman box, it all looked pretty cool. And we do watch the DC TV shows. Plus, one DC movie we are excited about is the Wonder Woman movie. Unlike the other DC movies to date, the trailers show Wonder Woman fighting bad guys, not other heroes, they show characters making jokes and smiling, and there are even scenes that appear to take place during the day and without any rain. My wife loves Wonder Woman as a character, so we took the plunge and ordered this box. Here’s what we found inside.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Cloak and Dagger: Shadows and Light

I didn't realize it until recently, but I am a huge fan of Bill Mantlo's Cloak and Dagger series from Marvel Comics. To be honest, until recently, I didn't even give Mantlo his due as a creator. He wrote so many comics for Marvel, and quietly did them well, I took him for granted. I think I also unfairly judged him for his work on licensed comics based on toys like Micronauts and Rom: Spaceknight. Today, however, I realize what a truly creative writer he was, and I'm really happy to see his creations getting their due, in the movies and on TV, as well as comics. And while I love seeing his Rocket Raccoon on the big screen, I may be even more excited about the upcoming Cloak & Dagger TV series on Freeform.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

What's in the Box?!?: Marvel Collector Corps April 2017

About a week after receiving the first Funko Disney Treasures box, the latest Funko Marvel Collector Corps box arrived. This month’s box features Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, and as a longtime fan of the Guardians of the Galaxy in general, and Rocket Raccoon in particular, I had been eagerly awaiting this box. So let’s take a look inside.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

What's in the Box?!?: Funko Disney Treasures April 2017

My wife and I both love Disney. And we love Funko. As my regular reader knows, every month (because they ship bi-monthly on opposite months) I look forward to the Marvel Collector Corps box and the Star Wars Smugglers Bounty box from Funko. So when Funko announced Disney Treasures, a new subscription box full of exclusive items, including something from the parks in each box, we couldn’t wait to sign up. 

We recently received the first box, with the theme Pirates Cove. Here’s what’s inside.

(Clearly, spoilers after the jump.)

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Being able to write about more Big Finish audio dramas makes me happy for a number of reasons. For one, listening to them makes me happy, because they are entertaining and engaging. For another, I listen to them while I walk on the treadmill, so the more Big Finish I listen to, the more I must be walking on the treadmill. 

(I’ve listened to a few more since writing this, but those will have to wait for another week.)

Trailers for the stories are at the end of the post.

The Star Men, telling the tale of the Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan, and Adric's adventures at a research base, Gallius Ultra, caught in the throes of an invasion from the mysterious Star Men, is a lot of fun. Written by Andrew Smith, the young screenwriter who wrote Adric's debut back in 1980, it brings the young Alzarian to the fore, giving him plenty of opportunities to use his vaunted mathematical prowess to help save the day. 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Wanyama Safari at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge: A Photo Gallery

This week’s blog is another photo gallery from our trip to Walt Disney World. We stayed at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, which is our favorite Disney hotel anywhere. We love being able to look out the window in the morning and see the animals out on the savannas surrounding the hotel.

Not too long ago, they introduced a new experience at the hotel: the Wanyama Safari. This was a tour by truck through the savannas to see the animals up close, beyond what we could see from our room or walking the trails around the hotel. At the time, it was open only to guests at Animal Kingdom Lodge; it has since been made available to all Walt Disney World guests. 

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Dinner at Victoria & Albert's: A Photo Gallery

Last fall, my wife and I went to Walt Disney World for our sixth anniversary. As we always do, we made a point of dining at Victoria & Albert’s, the highest of high-end restaurants at the resort, located in Disney’s Grand Floridian Hotel.