Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top 10 Films of 2013

Was 2013, an EPIC year for movies?

       2013 was an odd year for film; looking ahead to it a year ago one might notice the absence of long awaited blockbusters such as the Avengers or the Dark Knight Rises that littered the 2012 calendar.  Instead 2013 boasted a steady diet of what looked to be solid films with none boasting the title of biggest film of the year.  Rather, we got a decent mix of new properties and surprising Oscar contenders to go along with the steady diet of superhero and other established tent-pole franchise films.  So was 2013 an Epic year for film? Find out in the form of our top 10 films of 2013 after the break...

(Click on the title links for the individual review and rating for each film)

Monday, December 30, 2013

Movie Review: The Wolf of Wall Street

Someone get this man an Oscar!

      Most people have one opinion of  Martin Scorsese films, generally considering them instant classics upon a single viewing just because of the director's name being attached to the film.  I have always found Scorsese's work to be very well done, but have never been one to consider a film a classic because it was laced with gangster delivered f-bombs.  This Christmas, however, came something different from the director; maybe not quite as different as last year's Hugo but still a break from the gangster sub genre Scorsese has been so closely associated with over the course of his career.  This time the world famous director instead chose to focus on financial corruption in the form of the retelling of the real life story of the man known as the Wolf of Wall Street: Jordan Belfort, portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio.  So was The Wolf of Wall Street something refreshing from one of the best directors alive? Will he finally be able to direct Leo to an Oscar win? Find out after the break...

Toy Review: Grabit Robot Multipurpose Holder (Green) by Trinkits

     Back in March 2013 I looked at a cool Kickstarter Project called the Grabit Robot Multipurpose Holder. Designed as both a tribute to vinyl toys and a household storage device the Grabit features a very simple, clean design style that is quite appealing. If you're interested in learning more about the product and the design process behind it, check out this interview I did with designers Leo and Angie Fajardo! If you're interested in learning about this cool toy, which you can purchase at Trinkits' website, you had better keep on reading as I'm about to put this bad boy through standard Epic Review process. Join me after the break....

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Toy Review: Neutrino Wand from Ghostbusters by Mattel (with video!)

     Ghostbusters and Raiders of the Lost Ark constantly battle for the title of my absolute favorite movie of all time. If you ask me one day of the week, I'll tell you that my favorite movie is Ghostbusters. Ask me the next day and I'll tell you I prefer Raiders of the Lost Ark.  I have loved Ghostbusters ever since I saw it as a kid (even though parts of it terrified me). I've sat in a real Ecto-1 (it was signed by Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, and Dan Aykroyd). I've watched the commentary track for the film (something I rarely do). I randomly insert Ghostbusters lines into regular conversation. I guess I have about every mark of Ghostbusters fandom there is except for being a prop expert. Yes, while I know all of the tools the guys use and some of the little nitty gritty details, there are entire websites where Ghostheads sit around and study, compare, and build Ghostbusters props. While I'd love to get to that point someday, that's not me. Today, as I'm reviewing Mattel's Ghostbusters Neutrino Wand from their Epic Creations line, I'm not able to give you specific measurements and comparisons. I will give you my opinions as a toy collector and a lifelong Ghostbusters fan. Deal? If that works for you, then join me after the break....

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Action Figure Review: Plundor from Masters of the Universe Classics from Mattel

     "Quest for He-Man", one of the first season episodes of the Filmation animated series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, is absolutely insane. It involves He-Man getting mindwiped by Skeletor and being magically sent to the plant of Tranus, a pollution covered world where an evil rabbit named Plundor lives in a giant fortress that looks like it wouln't be out of place at Krustyland. Oh, and who is sent to save He-Man? Ram-Man, Orko, and Cringer. Yup, no way that could go wrong! It's a fun but really weird episode that's most famous for the villainous pink bunny Plundor (voiced by John Erwin). Interestingly, Plundor is not part of the Club Filmation subset of Masters of the Universe Classics but a release in the main line. Interested in a pink bunny for this Christmas that isn't Ralphie in his pajamas? Then read on to learn more about Plundor, after the break....

Monday, December 23, 2013

Action Figure Review: Deathstroke from The New 52: Super Villains by DC Collectibles

There are two reasons I picked up the action figure of Deathstroke from DC Collectibles' New 52 line:
1) I've always liked the look and character of Deathstroke, AKA Slade Wilson, so he appeals to me as a toy.
2) Due to his various associations and affiliations and along with his appearance in Batman: Arkham Origins, I consider Deathstroke to be enough of a Bat-family villain that I will happily begin adding figures of him to my shelf.

     There are quite a few Deathstroke figures out there along with quite a few more coming out soon. Besides this guy, DC Collectibles has released a 1/18th Deatstroke in their Injustice: Gods Among Us line and is preparing to release figures of Slade based on his appearances in Arrow and Batman: Arkham Origins. Need help deciding on which version of Deathstroke you want to add to your shelf? Then join me after the break as we examine his New 52 appearance.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A New Batgirl Review: Batgirl from Super Best Friends Forever by DC Collectibles

     I was really shocked to see DC Collectibles releasing merchandise from Super Best Friends Forever and as soon as I saw they were releasing a Batgirl, I knew I'd buy her. Super Best Friends Forever was one of the DC Nation shorts that aired on the Cartoon Network and followed the adventures of Batgirl, Wonder Girl, and Supergirl as the fought villains like Solomon Grundy, Poison Ivy, the Cheetah, and even each other on occasion (such as when Supergirl initially dissed Batgirl's suggestion of SBFF as their team name or when Wonder Girl wouldn't let the girls take the invisible jet out for a spin). Each of the five one minute and 16 second episodes were created, written, and directed by Lauren Faust of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and The Power Puff Girls fame, so you know that Super Best Friends Forever is colorful, exciting, and hilarious. It has a humor that seems quite broad and should appeal to both small children and older fans who can appreciate a different take on these super women. I really wish it had been picked up as a full length cartoon as it's quite good. Enough about the show, however; let's talk about this PVC figure released by DC Collectibles!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Action Figure Review: Kwinn v2 from G.I. Joe Retaliation by Hasbro

 If you've never read the old Marvel G.I. Joe comic series G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, you can be forgiven for assuming that it was simply a Saturday morning cartoon/ toy advertisement turned into a funny book. You'd be wrong, however, as reading and rereading the series, mostly written by storytelling master Larry Hama, it's amazing how much depth, humor, and drama was woven into those pages. Even if a character only appeared briefly, Hama made sure to find ways to gave them distinctive characterization that helped them stand out. While Hama typically took Hasbro's toys and brought them to life, there certainly were a few characters he created for his stories that were so appealing they had 80's kids searching the toy aisles looking for action figures that didn't yet exist. One of those characters was Kwinn. Appearing during the first year of the comic, Kwinn was a mysterious and honorable Inuit mercenary who was definitely his own man. While Hasbro released a version of the character in his arctic gear from issue #2 back in 2004, it's Kwinn in his jungle outfit that fans have dreamed about owning for almost 30 years. After a few years of teasing us, Hasbro managed to finally release the jungle version of Kwinn in the G.I. Joe: Retaliation line. Yes, while Kwinn has nothing to do with G.I. Joe Retaliation, I couldn't care less. He's an excellent figure and well deserving of your attention. Ready for a look at this guy? Then join me after the break...

Monday, December 16, 2013

A New Batgirl Review: Batgirl from Kubricks Batman by MediCom

     This is going to be a brief review at it's covering something that's enither new nor terribly complex. It's a Kubrick Batgirl. Kubricks are block styled minifigures (similar to Minimates or Lego minifigures) released by Japanese company MediCom that actually preceded Minimates (the first Kubrick series was released in 2000). And yes, they are called Kubricks in honor of Stanley Kubrick. Anyways, at some point (probably around 2003) Kubricks released a blind boxed series of figures featuring various Batman heroes. Alongside the Batgirl figure I'm looking at today, the set also included Batman, Robin, Mr. Freeze, Azrael, Scarecrow, and Spoiler (which as far as I know is the only articulated Spoiler figure ever released by a toy company). Ready for a brief look at Batgirl? This is actually the first Kubrick figure I own, which is kind of interesting in and of itself. More details after the break....

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A New Batgirl Review: Batgirl from DC Comics Cover Girls from DC Collectibles

 I've been waiting for this statue for quite some time and was really excited when she arrived in the mail last week from Big Bad Toy Store. I really liked the Adam Hughes styled Cover Girls of the DC Universe line and was disappointed to see it go, although I did want some statues based off of the New 52 appearances of some of the most powerful women in the universe! While not every character reboot/ relaunch/ redesign has been perfect, I think Batgirl has been quite well handled. It's great to see Babs back in action while not neglecting some of the formative events of her character that have come before. Her costume is also pretty slick as well, which is always a plus. Awesome vigilante redhead + slick outfit + statue should be a good combination, right? Right? Well, read on and learn more after the break....

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Action Figure Review: Castle Grayskull from Masters of the Universe Classics by Mattel

As Skeletor said in the 1987 film Masters of the Universe, "Everything comes to he who waits, and I have waited so very long for this moment." Yes, after one year of preorders, waiting, concepts and preproduction pieces, constant changes, small victories, crushing defeats, and sheer anticipation, Castle Grayskull has finally arrived to my home. Earlier this afternoon my wife texted me a picture of the enormous box sitting in our kitchen and I've been jazzed ever since. Heck, I've been singing the Castle Grayskull song all week now to help myself pass the time. Before I even open the box, I have to say that while there have been plenty of ups and downs on the journey from having Castle Grayskull exist simply as a sketch on paper to existing as an actual product delivered to my door, I think there are some folks that need to be commended. First, regardless of all other issues I don't think anyone can say that Scott Neitlich ("ToyGuru") and the Four Horsemen are not passionate about Masters of the Universe. Whether or not you agree with design decisions, style decisions, or business decisions, it really is impressive and I'd say quite unprecedented to bring a product of this size and scale to fruition. If you can show me another 6 -7 inch line with this large of a playset, I'll be shocked. Secondly, I think all Masters of the Universe fans need to be given a hearty round of thanks. I'm a pretty hardcore fan of a number of properties but I really don't know of any fandom that seems to get stuff done quite like He-fans and She-Ravers. We did it my friends!

     Now, are you ready? Is this going to truly be the greatest playset of all time or is it going to be a disappointment and subject to overhyping? Is it going to be a simple oversized piece of plastic or will it be a toy that magically transports us back to our childhoods; to a time when that ancient and mysterious fortress of power boggled our minds and captivated us with a spirit of adventure and enchantment unlike any other toy possibly could? I don't think I've ever written an introduction to a review prior to having the opportunity to open and fully experience the product, but that's what I'm doing here. When I say join me as we delve into that ancient, moss covered fortress together to uncover it's secrets, that's precisely what I'm about to do. Join me in learning Grayskull's secrets via this handy FAQ/ Review for the Masters of the Universe Classics Castle Grayskull, after the break....

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Action Figure Review: Radagast the Brown from The Hobbit:The Desolation of Smaug by the Bridge Direct

     I was a pretty hardcore completest of Toy Biz's excellent and expansive Lord of the Rings toyline and had always hoped that they would strive to create some figures based off of Tolkien characters who weren't seen in the film such as Tom Bombadil and Radagast the Brown. I was pretty thrilled when I learned that Radagast the Brown would be in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and was even more excited when I learned that he was to be played by the Seventh Doctor, Sylvester McCoy. While a bit silly and over the top at times, I liked McCoy's portrayal of Radagast as a member of the Istari who truly was more concerned with the world of beasts than the world of men. He had a great costume and really brought life to a character that got omitted from Peter Jackson's  The Fellowship of the Ring. The Bridge Direct has put out some nice product for The Hobbit films, but it hasn't seemed to be as hot of a property as hoped for. All of the Desolation of Smaug product is exclusive to Toys R Us and I was incredibly excited to find Radagast the Brown there last week. Whether you're a fan of the The Hobbit or are simply bolstering your Toy Biz Lord of the Rings roster, you should be pretty satisfied with this resident of Rhosgobel. More after the break....

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Toy Review: Sect of Rand from Mordles by ToyFinity

     While there are lots of smaller independent toylines available these days which are inspired by classic toys from the 70's, 80's, and 90's, it's rare for one of those lines to be officially owned and branded by a former fan. That's exactly what happened with Mordles, however, the small miniscule fodder for the larger creatures from Ideal's 1985 line Rocks & Bugs & Things. The good folks at ToyFinity actually managed to purchase the rights to these guys and have been cranking out Mordles left and right beginning this summer. Selling for $1 each and $10 for ten packs, the Mordles are some of the coolest little minifigure monsters you're likely to find. They're adorably creepy and go great with plenty of toylines. Today I'm looking at one of the newest color schemes for the line, the red and black "Sect of Rand Edition." I'm also looking at one of the Explorer Mordles that comes free with each order. Ready to take a look at these tiny terrors? Then join me after the break....

Monday, December 9, 2013

Lego Review: Dol Guldur Ambush from The Hobbit:The Desolation of Smaug by Lego

     I have to admit that the prospect of seeing the Necromancer (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) battle Gandalf in The Hobbit really excited me. It's one of those details from the book/s that has always appealed to me and I'm excited to see the scene come to life. In their new series of The Hobbit sets Lego has dedicated two sets to a battle that takes place at Dol Guldur. The larger set is called "Dol Guldur Battle" and features the ruins of the fortress proper along with Gandalf, Radagast the Brown, and the Necromancer himself; it definitely appears to be the "flagship" set for this series. Today's review is the smaller set "Dol Guldur Ambush" and is designed to attach on to the larger set. It's a neat feature that expands the other set (which I should get around to reviewing later this week) and adds not only a few more traps to Dol Guldur but also gives builders two more orcs and Beorn, the oft neglected character who can turn into a mother flippin' bear. That's right. A bear. Ready for a look at the Dol Guldur Ambush? Then join me after the break....

Saturday, December 7, 2013

RoboCop 3.0 from RoboCop by Jada Toys

     I'm pretty excited for the new RoboCop film that slated for release on February 12, 2014. While I absolutely adore Paul Verhoeven's original film and consider it a classic, it also is a film that I feel is a good candidate for a remake. Considering the cast that director Jose Padilha has assembled (Gary Oldman, Jackie Earl Haley, Samuel Jackson, Michael Keaton, Abbie Cornish, and Miguel Ferrer) I have high hopes that the new film will be a worthwhile remake that brings a lot of new idea to the table. Today I'm talking about toy, however, and I was actually quite surprised to stumble upon these at a Toys R Us just the other night. From Jada Toys (a company I don't think I've ever heard of) we have a few figures based off of the new film in a variety of scales. There seems to be two 4 inch figures, two 6 inch figures, and some larger stuff like a remote control RoboCop on his motorcycle. I opted for the 4 inch 3.0 RoboCop that features his slick new outfit. I would have grabbed the 6 inch figure, but the figure literally has no lips sculpted onto the face which just looks really, really weird. Is this a worthwhile addition to the ever growing stable of great Robocop toys or is this a forgettable version of Detroit's favorite son? Read on and find out after the break....

Friday, December 6, 2013

A New Batgirl Review: Batgirl 1/24 from DC Universe Mystery Minis by Funko

  I don't know what it is about blind boxed/ bagged stuff, but there's something really exciting about it. Maybe it's the modern day equivalent of getting cool little toys from gumball machines. I love that, except when you're trying to get a specific figure or character. Thus was the case with the new DC Universe Mystery Minis by Funko. Featuring a cool roster of Batman centric characters including Batman himself, Catwoman, the Joker (both comic and Ledger), Penguin, Riddler, and of course Batgirl in a variety of poses, while I like all of those characters the only figure I really wanted for my collection was one of the three Batgirl figures. Fortunately, I managed to pick one up on E-bay so I knew what I was getting. These vinyl figures are fun and stylized like Funko's Pop! figures but are smaller. Ready for a look at one? Then join me after the break....

Action Figure Review: Battle Shell Raphael from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Playmates

   I have fond memories of the original Storage Shell Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures. While Donatello was the first released (in 1990), the rest came out in 1991 and were a great way to get fairly standard versions of the Turtles again along with some great accessories. I've always loved action figures that could carry accessories in some way and these guys delivered. In the spirit of those originals, Playmates has now released the Battle Shell Turtles into the new TMNT line. Today I'm looking at Raphael, my favorite turtle and the coolest but rudest dude you're likely to meet. Before I begin the review proper, however, can I say that I'm extremely impressed with how Playmates is handling this line? While the majority of the figures fall into the average/ slightly above average category, they've put out a ton of figures and vehicles in a little over a year and they've managed to make the figures able to be found by supplying retailers with enough of them. While traveling the last week or so I think I managed to see pretty much every figure in the line released to date except for maybe April. That's pretty impressive considering most toylines these days seem to either stagnate or only make one production run of each figure. Anyways, let's get into looking at Raph.....

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Cool Kickstarter Campaign: Cheesetroyer Cheeseburger Glow in the Dark Vinyl Toy


Ready for a kaiju that really brings the beef?

Glenn at Bad Teeth Comics sent me a press release regarding a really cool Kickstarter project he's working on for a new 4.5 inch vinyl toy: The Cheesetroyer! With "gross monster features, kaiju style and a cheeseburger for a head next to a sesame seed turtle shell", this is a toy that you're going to want to add to your shelf and/or possibly snack on (*editors note: toy is not really edible*).

     If you're interested in this guy, head on over to Kickstarter and check him out. Bad Teeth has lots of different versions of this guy available and some other pledge incentives including a comic book. They're pretty close to their goal so head on over and pitch in. More pictures and the press release after the break....


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Action Figure Barbecue: Castle Grayskull, Adam West, Carl Grimes, Batman, Daleks, Demona, Kry-Sis, "Mime" Joker, Power Lords, Ra's al Ghul, Scarabus, Rat King, Spider Bytez, and Legendary Battlers

Image from Pixel Dan.com
While you'e winding down from your Black Friday shopping and gearing up for Cyber Monday deals, why not take a break and read some great toy reviews from all across the interwebs?

      I don't think any review this week could possible could compare to Pixel Dan's video review of the Masters of the Universe Classics Castle Grayskull. While I'm still waiting for Mattel to charge my card again and ship my castle, Dan makes the wait just a little easier with his 40 minute epic that covers pretty much every detail of the ancient fortress of mystery and power. While I'm a little disappointed at the size (it really does't look much taller than the 200X castle, the sculpt and detail look petty sweet.

     John Gaither over at the Clawful Punch won the Adam West Batman from our Epic Grab Bag contest and put up a review of the figure.  John's figure has a really weird issue with having dirty knees (not the reason we offered the figure as a prize) that I know mine didn't have. Really bizarre stuff.    
  Over at Action Figure Imagery, Action Figure Man has been reviewing the newest Walking Dead series, my favorite being Carl Grimes. While I've not been collecting this line (I don't like the weird scale) I have read all of the reviews of these guys and checked out Brad's figures and I'm pretty impressed with Carl. He's a pretty nice looking figure that really captures the likeness of the actor portraying him.

More after the break......