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).