Thursday, December 25, 2014

Collectible Time #15: A Caped Crusader Christmas

Contrary to the startling resemblance, the above isn't Adam West, but rather (due to the deft workings of my friend, Skip Hulbert), yours truly as the '60s Cape Crusader. (Considering that Skip holds a remarkable resemblance to Hollywood heartthrob, Van Johnson, who portrayed the dreaded Minstrel on the series, a sequel is in store with us naturally in the leads--ha, ha.) Anyway I'm using this fine image to introduce some new Batman collectibles I received this Christmas.

First up, from Mom and Dad Housel, is the Mattel Batmobile: a stunning 20" long representation of the classic George Barris vehicle. It's designed for the 7" television series characters, if one's so inclined to insert them. 

I've read more than a few derisive remarks on this representation, claiming it's nothing more than an over-sized piece of plastic, but hey, folks, what does a styrene kit consist of, for cryin' out loud? This this precisely the same, just assembled and detailed. 

As with all of Mattel's '60s Batman items, this one sports colorful packaging: collectible in its own right. To me, for the price (and this typically goes for about $50 via most sources), the Batmobile is a steal that even the fussiest of Gotham villains couldn't pass up!!!

To accompany the Batmobile, my parents also gave me a 31" black-and-gray Caped Crusader. (This goes along with my three, 31" versions of Christian Bale's Dark Knight.) For a generic take on our hero, which covers both the original and modern color schemes, this is an ideal representation for any across-the-board fan. I'm more than pleased and proud as punch to have it as part of my jumbo action-figure collection!!!

And from my in-laws, Ned and Faith, I received a spectacular anthology on Batman's primary adversary..."The Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told"!!! The mad clown's diabolical antics are thoroughly detailed in this classic compilation, offering hours of demented fun--a must-have for any Bat-library (and just dig that crazy cover)!!!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Collectible Time #14: MacFarlane Walking Dead 10" Rick Grimes and Daryl Dixon figures

Though I haven't previously posted on AMC's "Walking Dead", I am (like many people) a huge fan of the show (as well as the entire flesh-eating zombie sub-genre). To commemorate this fact, my parents bought me a MacFarlane 10" Rick Grimes figure. It projects all the grit and tension we associate with Andrew Lincoln's character and can be posed in either of two ways, as pictured above.

The Rick figure is a companion piece to MacFarlane's 10" Daryl Dixon piece, released about a year ago. It perfectly captures the likeness of actor, Norman Reedus and comes with an attachable poncho and of course, Daryl's trademark crossbow. 

It appears that MacFarlane may do others on this scale, and I'm determined to nab them as they appear. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

TIme Travel Time #8: The Final Countdown

Summer 1980 is characterized by several blockbuster imagi-movies: "Empire Strikes Back", "The Shining" and "Friday the 13th". There was another in the mix: a hit during August of that year, which has increased in popularity over the decades: United Artists' time-travel epic, "The Final Countdown". 

The story focuses on the USS Nimitz, sent on a vague observation mission by a recluse named Mr. Tideman. In the process (and without seeming cause), the mighty vessel encounters a whirlwind-like portal which transports it to December 6, 1941 Pearl Harbor, a day prior to the Japanese air attack.

Before long, the crew, lead by Captain Mathew Yelland (Kirk Douglas), discerns the leap in time. A liaison to Tideman, Warren Lackey (Martin Sheen), offers theories as to how the teleportation may have occurred, layering not only a sense of wonder upon the predicament, but also trepidation. 

To assess the situation, Yelland dispatches his air crew to scope the turf, which gets characters from both sides of the time spectrum involved: Senator Samuel Chapman (Charles Durning); his secretary, Laurel Scott (Katherine Ross); Commander Richard Owens (James Farentino); Commander Dan Thurman (Ron O' Neal) and captured Japanese Zero pilot, Simura (Soon Tek Oh). The latter's presence helps build tension, though exists basically to pad the plot.

Discussion whether to engage the Japanese is paramount, making "Final Countdown" reminiscent of Rod Serling's "The 7th is Made Up of Phantoms". Is it ethical to interfere and risk altering a known history or is the Nimitz obligated to combat the enemy, regardless of its relegation? 

Produced by Peter Douglas (Kirk's son) and directed by Don Taylor (who previously steered the time-travel epic, "Escape from the Planet of the Apes"), "Final Countdown" is polished and well paced. Though some have argued the film doesn't fully realize the possibilities of its premise, it still presents an interesting twist in the end. Credit, in this regard, goes to screenwriters David Ambrose, Gerry Davis, Thomas Hunter and Peter Howell for making the tale edgy and taut, while never taking it over the top. 

For aeronautic buffs, "Final Countdown" has garnered a following for its realistic sequences. Similarly, the Nimitz acts as one of the film's primary characters (much as does the USS Enterprise in any "Star Trek" adventure). Additionally, John Scott's score ignites a sweeping sense of duty during its militaristic moments and during the interludes, grows memorably haunting.

"Final Countdown" could have sailed in any number of directions with varying success. It may not satisfy all viewers (particularly those who wish to explore the concept's unrealized paths), but for those intrigued by time-travel, this all-star outing will likely stay enthralling from its adventurous opening through its chilling, final cap. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Collectible Time #13: Planet of the Apes Caesar Busts

To commemorate the home-disc release of "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes", I pre-ordered (and have received), a dandy 12" Andy Serkis Caesar bust. Caesar's Warrior Collection contains not only "Dawn", but "Rise"; supplemental footage; a collectible booklet and cards. As you can see, the likeness to the face-painted Caesar is remarkable.

The Serkis bust is, for all intents and purposes, a companion piece to the Roddy McDowall 12" Caesar storage bust, released eight years prior. (That set includes the original, five theatrical films; Tim Burton's redo; the television incarnations and documentaries). Unlike the new bust, the original doesn't have a name-plated base, but instead sports simulated hair and a clothed upper-body. 

I consider myself fortunate to own these spiffy tie-ins, and if the increased value of the McDowall set is any indication, the Serkis one should also rise in value: not that I purchased these for investment purposes; but solely for my love of the apes!!!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Flask of Eyes Fun: Match Aurora Monster Art to my Story Characters (Who's Whom?)

Here's a neat activity for all you precocious kids! Match the Aurora James Bama monster-model artwork with a character from "Flask of Eyes"! Not all the images reflect a character from my book, mind you, so think it through; let's see how ya do. Respond with a post if you're so inclined; you've nothing to lose. (Also, if you want to reminisce on any Aurora kits you once had, or still have, feel free to indulge; whatever you should choose to do, I sure would like to hear from you). 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Flask of Eyes--the Cake!!!

My coworkers (God bless 'em) surprised me with a lunchtime party to celebrate the release of "Flask of Eyes", where I even got to sign copies of the book for them. Anyway, get a load of that cool cake! What a dandy! It's truly amazing what can be done with images on cakes these days, isn't it? And yes, keeping in the spirit of the book, a few folks did eagerly eat the eyes of Ash Arcenaux's arresting image!!!

Also as a nifty bonus, take note of the below shot, just prior to my cutting the cake. My pal, Skip Hulbert, put his artistic talents to use and gave me an unsettling Michael Myers half-face: a chilling touch which also invokes Phantom of the Opera, don't ya think? (Hey, now that I think about it, there's also a sprinkle of Shatner/Kirk in there!!! Wow!!! Talk about exuding multiple personalities!!!)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

New Novella Announcement--The Hyde Seed Cometh!!!

Have another story set for publication through Damnation Books, entitled "The Hyde Seed"!!! Since I don't have any images to reflect my particular characters at this point, I thought I'd let the Oscar-winning duality of good ol' of Frederic March stand in lieu for now. More details ultimately to follow...

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Time Travel Time #7: The Time Travelers

Famed science-fiction writer Ib Melchior's "The Time Travelers" is a low-budget, 1964 reply to George Pal's highly acclaimed adaptation of H.G. Wells' "The Time Machine". (The knock-off was produced by Samuel Z. Arkoff and Bill Redin for AIP, as part of its long line of imagi-movies.) Like the Wells classic, "Time Travelers" has proven most influential on the pop-cultural scene, due to its use of a portal as a means of trekking through time. In truth, "Time Travelers" is the basis for Irwin Allen's popular "Time Tunnel" series, as well as the feature-length "Journey To the Center of Time". Its portal concept has also found its way into "Austin Powers: Goldmember" and has clearly influenced the teleportation premise in "Stargate".

Melchior's plot centers on a group of scientists who trigger an actual jaunt into the future (the year 2071, to be precise) and find that the window of their laboratory has amazingly "melted" away, allowing them to enter a strange, new world. 

The crew consists of Steve Connors (Philip Carey); Erik von Steiner (Preston Foster); Carol White (Merry Anders) and giving the adventure a touch of comic relief, technician/electrician Danny McKee (Steve "Dobie Gillis" Franken). They are an affable and credible group, respectful of their work and concerned for the consequences it's spawned. They're also understandable apprehensive of the harsh predicament in which they find themselves. 

Initially, the landscape of the futuristic world appears desolate, but soon the travelers are tracked by angry mutants: quasi-Morlock types, who unlike the famed creatures that inspired them, maraud in the daylight. Also, as the scientists' luck would have it, their portal (which is otherwise conveniently visible after they depart their lab) vanishes. To avert the mutants, they seek refuge in a cave and are granted access to an underground city, where non-mutant humans and androids reside.

The underground realm is presided by Dr. Varno (John Hoyt of "Man with the X-Ray Eyes" and "Star Trek'"s "Cage"/"Menagerie"). Varno reveals that his people are completing a spacecraft that will deliver them to Alpha Centauri via suspended animation: safe and secure from Earth's dire aftermath of nuclear war. 

Though Varno's intent is admirable, the belligerent mutants are dead set on thwarting it (and perhaps, we eventually learn, with some justifiable cause). To complicate matters, our intrepid travelers are rejected by Varno's council to accompany them on their interstellar flight, (influenced mostly by a cantankerous overseer portrayed by "Dark Shadow'"s Dennis Patrick). This leads the group no other choice but to devise a new portal, in hopes of returning to their original place in time. Alas, their efforts result in confounding consequences and a most unique (if not harrowing) ending. 

Melchior's direction is competently paced, and though the film has tell-tale signs of its confined budget, Vilmos ("Close Encounters of the Third Kind") Zsigmond's cinematography thwarts any potential, visual restrictions. On another positive note, the film offers a beloved cameo by Forrest J Ackerman, legendary editor of "Famous Monsters of Filmland": a big treat to fans at the time of the film's release (and still enchanting to those who remain in the know). 

Beyond a few moments of insinuated titillation, "Time Travelers" is essentially G-rated material and will more than suffice for a carefree weekend view, which is how many of us experienced it as youngsters during the '60s and '70s. 

Unquestionably, this quaint exercise is a fine way to occupy one's time: a humble yet stellar excursion, which in addition to espousing a grim "Planet of the Apes" type warning on nuclear destruction, predominately spins a speedy spree of colorful fun!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Collectible Time #12: Moebius/Jeff Yagher, Adam West Batman kit

From Z&Z Hobbies, picked up the first in a developing 7-piece styrene model-kit series...Adam West as Batman!!! 

The kit is produced by Moebius, one of the companies admirably carrying on the Aurora tradition, and this particular representation holds an uncanny likeness to West, thanks the the masterful sculpting talents of Jeff Yagher. Once assembled, the figure will stand close to 10" tall.

Evidently, next on the agenda is a Julie Newmar Catwoman, with a Burt Ward Robin and Burgess Meredith Penguin to follow!!! Holy styrene kit, Batman!!! This series is truly a modeler's dream come true!!!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Flask of Eyes Update #6

It's here!!! It's here!!! 

Yes, "Flask of Eyes" has officially emerged (accompanied above/below by a couple more fitting, "borrowed" images, along with Ash Arceneaux's eye-catching cover). It's currently available from Damnation Books (; Amazon; and Barnes and Noble. Be bold! Be prepared! The thrills and chills are truly right at your fingertips!!!

The creatures in the story are impressions of famous monsters, so those who fancy such lurid rallies may have good cause to read my yarn. It's also laced with some dreamy, alternate-reality passages: a few loops through present, past and future. If such a concoction sounds like your cup of tea, by all means give "Flask" a taste!!!

From my press release: "Set in 1963, 'Flask of Eyes' deals with creatures from another dimension who enter our world to thwart an enemy that plans to alter history. The creatures are empowered by their psychic abilities, which are nurtured from devouring the eyes of their fallen."

Sound enticing? Well, check it out. Let me know what you think. I'll be avidly awaiting your comments. And remember...To Taste the Eyes is to Open One's Mind!!!

(Below a little bonus from my press release: a shot taken in the NJDOE courtyard, near the Delaware River, by my coworker, Melissa Orlowski; I'm proudly displaying a Frankie "trophy" given to me by my coworker, Leslie Foster Leslie, to commemorate my getting "Flask" published. Cool!!!)

Collectible TIme #11: Chewbacca 20"; Darth Maul 18"; and Stormtrooper 31" action figures

Practically on the heels of obtaining my 18" Jakks Tie Fighter Pilot figure (see Collectible Time #9; Sept '14), I've purchased from a local Target, a 20" Chewbacca figure. 

This particular representation sports an honorable 7 points of articulation, but perhaps more significantly, it has a swell finish, creating the illusion of shaded fur. 

The size, of course, also adds to the piece's presence, ranking it up there with Kenner's '70s large version of Chewy (the refurbished Bionic Bigfoot, as many of you may recall), as well as the excellent Screamin' '90s model kit.  

For a mere $20, I just couldn't pass him up! Trust me: though the pics adequately capture his overall look, he's even more impressive in person!

For the same price, I also stumbled upon an very impressive 18" Jakks Darth Maul at Walgreens! Like Chewy, he also sports 7 points of articulation.

With his trademark black and red markings, he invokes the character's necessary menace, and at this striking size, it comes across all the more powerfully. This version also comes with an attachable dual-beamed light saber, as is featured in the photos.

Anyway, I've always fancied Maul; too bad he didn't extend beyond "Phantom Menace"; there was so much more villainy he could have implemented within the saga's cinematic stretch.

On another spectacular Jakks note, I learned of a 31" classic-styled Stormtrooper figure from my friend, Steve Goodrich (who you may recall illustrated my "Magical Elixirs" volumes years ago); couldn't so easily locate one of these beauties, so ended up ordering it from Amazon, and whoa, yeah, it's sure a spiffy one and a swell addition to the 31" Darth Vader and Clone Troopers I purchased a while back.

I sure would like to see Jakks do more of these 31" figures, maybe even an all-the-larger scale Chewy, C3PO, Greedo and/or Boba/Jango Fett. Supposedly Maul's jumbo version is scheduled for release in the UK, but why oh, why not here? Oh, well, no one can fault a guy for complain', let alone dreamin'. Guess I'll just keep my eyes peeled and be grateful for whatever falls my way.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Flask of Eyes Update #5

"Flask of Eyes" is fast approaching its November release from Damnation Books, and so I'm offering a couple more visual grabbers to mount your anticipation. 

The below "Classics Illustrated Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" is used in an alternate-future segment in the tale. 

Also, in the very same scene, Jack Finney's thought-provoking literary classic, "(Invasion of) the Body Snatchers" is referenced.

What are the insidious implications? What does it all mean? You'll soon understand when once you read..."Flask of Eyes"!!!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Flask of Eyes Update #4

As my big "Flask of Eyes" release date approaches from Damnation Books, I thought I'd offer a couple interim teasers. As such, below you'll find two posters: Jack Arnold's "Monster on the Campus" (1958) and H.G. Lewis' "Blood Feast" (1963). 

The "Monster on the Campus" artwork is actually displayed in the lead character's dingy apartment. It also links to a startling, physical change that strikes him (hint, hint).

The "Blood Feast" poster isn't referenced in the story, but the actual film is, in fact, featured in one of the tale's surreal scenes.

Anyway, hope these ghastly selections wet your appetite for my novel, and rest assured, "Flask" is most definitely coming soon to a literary source near you!!!