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Comics & Toys

Chicago and C2E2 2014

I just got back from a much needed vacation to Chicago. For the third time since 2011 , I attended the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo. C2E2, as it's called, has become one of my favorite comic events to attend. It's a great event that's both affordable and isn't completely overwhelming like New York or San Diego.

My parents traveled up from Bloomington, IL and spent the weekend in Chicago as well. It was nice to spend some time with them. Since moving to Boston I don't see them very often.  We spent Thursday together wandering around Chicago. It's always nice to reconnect with my old home. It's an awesome city. I miss it frequently.

Friday I spent the morning walking the show floor. I had a VIP ticket, so they let us on the floor with the pros at 10am. It was nice to have an hour with the floor largely empty. I picked up some show exclusives and a couple toys for my collection.  After they let everyone else on, I headed upstairs for some great panels, including one with writer Gail Simone (One of my favorite writers). After that I attended a panel with an assortment of DC writers and artists.  Finally I headed down to the main show floor (thank you VIP Pass for guaranteed premium seating) for a panel with Torchwood's "Gwen Cooper" - Eve Myles, and wrapped up the day with a Game of Thrones panel including Natalia Tena (Osha) and Kristian Narin (Hodor).

First thing Saturday, I spent some time walking through Artists Alley. I didn't buy any art this year, but I always leave these cons completely awed and inspired by the work of the artists attending. And with the intention of getting back to drawing myself.

One of this weekend's panels I was most excited to attend was the Power Rangers "Reunion" panel. Jason Narvy (Skull), Paul Schrier (Bulk), and Steve Cardenas (Rocky the 2nd Red Ranger) were ridiculously entertaining. I think we laughed more that panel than any all weekend. I finished up Saturday with a "24" reunion. Carlos Bernard (Tony Almeida), James Morrison (Bill Buchanan), and Louis Lombardi (Edgar Styles) were up on stage telling stories and fielding questions. Dani and I have been powering through all 8 seasons of the show the past couple months and are super excited for 24 Live Another Day.

I usually just got back on Sunday to wander around the floor a little more and maybe take in one last panel.  However there were a couple this time I had to see.  One was a special private event for Marvel Unlimited Plus members (subscribers of Marvel's digital comics app). We got some cool swag and were privy to some neat previews. Including some test footage from the new Ant Man Movie, which is going to be great.  And then I wrapped up my C2E2 weekend by seeing Stan Lee, in a Q&Q panel. This was my first time catching him live anywhere, so it was pretty special. Excelsior!!  Below are some pics I snapped from around the event.

One of the coolest parts of these show is all the amazing cosplayers that attend. So much time, energy and creativity goes into making these awesome costumes. And with a huge "Hero's of Cosplay" event going on Saturday night, awesome costumes were not in short supply. This is just a small sample of what was there.

I was sad when the weekend wrapped up. It was a great experience and a much needed vacation. I didn't want it to end. I came back feeling refreshed and inspired to be more creative.  I had said earlier that I wasn't planning on doing NYCC this year. But now I'm reconsidering. It's just too much fun!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Signing

To this day, my favorite, and arguably the best, comic book / cartoon / movie / toy lines is the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  I still have vivid memories of being a young kid in the toy aisle of this store called Roses, seeing those first toys on the pegs. After that came the cartoons, Archie comic books, coloring books, movies, and years of my elementary school art teacher begging me to draw something other than a ninja turtle.

Last summer, on a trip up to Wells/Ogunquit Maine with the wife, we drove by this shop called Shellback Artworks on Rt 1.  The distinctively TMNT branded signage immediately drew me in. Turns out it's owned by an artist named Steve Lavigne.  He is known for his lettering and coloring work on the older Mirage TMNT comics. He wasn't there that time, but we took a spin around the shop, the art gallery upstairs, and met his wife.

Recently on Facebook, he announced a signing at the shop. Peter Laird, as in the Laird of "Eastman and Laird's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" was going to be there along with TMNT artist Jim Lawson. I definitely couldn't pass that up. So I gathered up a few belongings to get signed and drove up for the afternoon. It was amazing!

I'm kind of shy, so I didn't really say much to them. But in the off chance that Peter Laird ever reads this, I wanted to say "Thank you for the Turtles. The characters have brought, and continue to bring, me hours of enjoyment in all their various incarnations."

Some pictures from the event and the items I got signed are below.

July 2013 Loot Crate Unboxing

Sorry I'm a bit late on this unboxing. I had knee surgery on the 19th, and hadn't had a chance to get to it quite yet. The theme for July is "Varsity". That fits with the fact that it's largely a "Video Game High School" (VGHS) themed box.

I wasn't familiar with VGHS prior to this months crate. OK, I honestly had never heard of the web series. So I found the entire series as a movie on Netflix and took a look. It was an interesting show. Nicely done and well produced. However I think the target demographic for the show is slightly younger than me. 

Anyways, onto the unboxing...

So right off the top, we see a newer, slightly larger shipping box. And inside we are met right away with a PEZ dispenser and some star wars head phones. Ok, good start.

Here's the full crate revealed. Here's the full rundown of what's included -

  • Star Wars Earbuds from Jazwares and Lucasfilms Ltd
  • Video Game High School Season 1 DVD Set from VGHS
  • Marvel Pez Dispenser from PEZ and Marvel
  • Video Game High School Button Set from VGHS
  • VGHS Stormtrooper Vinyl Sticker from Danger-Brain and VGHS
  • VGHS 'Emergency Wireless Keyboard' Pencil from Danger-Brain and VGHS
  • Sonic Air Freshener from Epic-Scents and Sega
  • Rocket Jump Vinyl Sticker from Rockery Jump

Here we've got all the VGHS themed  items in the crate. Nothing crazy exciting here for me. I wound up watching the show on Netflix like I mentioned earlier, so the DVD isn't terribly compelling. The storm trooper sticker is kinda cool. I'll find a place to stick that for sure.

The rest of the items are pretty sweet though. Star Wars ear buds... classy.

 Sonic air freshener... errr... fresh. That'll go up next to my Megaman Air Freshener from the February crate.

 PEZ Candy Dispenser... sweet.  Not a huge Captain America fan, would have rather had Wolverine, but them's the breaks. However I do like candy and it's been forever since I've had PEZ candy. Forgot how sugary yummy it is.

Like what you've seen here and want to get your own crate each month? It's super easy, just hit this link and sign up. It takes two minutes and starts at only $13.37/month plus shipping. Sign up today! 

June 2013 Loot Crate Unboxing

I came home from our weekend away in Syracuse to find the June 2013 Loot Crate waiting at my door. Score!  The topic this month was MASHUP and we have seen some pretty rad mashup posts from the Loot Crate crew on their Facebook page leading up to this months delivery.

Last months box wasn't as great as some of the previous ones, but this one really made up for it.  Let's check it out!

First up from BIC we have a Tech Stylus 2 in 1 pen.  it's a combo retractable ball point pen and stylus.  The stylus end looks like of like a black round eraser.  I tried it out on the iPhone and it actually works pretty well.

Also seen here is the Loot Crate branded wall Tangrams. Now I love tangrams. It's a great logic puzzle. With a quick search online you can find the puzzles to use your wall tangrams with.

Continuing on, we have some pretty sweet 8-bit sunglasses, always fun Warheads candies, and a couple of pretty awesome stickers. Especially loving the Mario and Ninja Turtles mashup sticker by Hairbrained Design.

Last but not least, we have a Comickaze golden ticket and a t-shirt! Yes! So the golden ticket is for a con that I was actually unaware of.  Stan Lee's Comikaze is a mulit-media pop culture convention in LA happening in early November.  My "code" only netted me 20% off the tickets - which unfortunately is no where near enough to prompt me to spend the cash to fly out for it. Oh well!

On to the shirt! So you may say to yourself, what does the "Kool-aid Man and Dead Pool have in common?"... Well aside from similar coloring absolutely nothing.   Good thing that being similarly colored is good enough for the awesome mash up shirt. Check it out and be super jealous you don't have one!

Seen enough to say to yourself, "I really want my own Loot Crate every month!"? It's super easy, just hit this link and sign up. It takes two minutes and starts at only $13.37/month plus shipping. Sign up today!

May 2013 Loot Crate UnCrating

Another epic month in the world of Loot Crate. This month's theme was "Equip".

A bit different look for the crate this month. There wasn't really any high-end item like the previous couple months with the Funko and Kid-Robot toys. Still, it was a pretty nice box, and I finally got my loot crate ID card!

 Let's see what we got:

Here's the list of loot: 

  • One Year Digital Subscription to Pure Nintendo Magazine
  • 8 Bit Space Invaders Bow Tie from Black Tie Geek
  • Don't Panic Towel
  • Ninja Cord Wrap
  • Super Mario Coin Candies from Boston America
  • "Inanimate Stickers" from Fred & Friends
  • A Papercraft Ironman
  • A little DC Comics statue

I haven't yet checked out the magazine yet, but based on the website it looks pretty cool.  The bow tie is currently being adorned by my 28" MattyCollector Voltron until a time comes in which I have an appropriate event to wear it to. The candies were delicious and I kinda love having a little metal Mario coin block on my desk.

The rest of the stuff I'm a bit *meh* on.  I got The Flash as my DC statue and he's not really one of my favs. The towel, stickers, and cord wrap are kinda neat, but I don't see myself doing much with them. Though I find myself playing with the little cord wrap guy on my desk from time to time.  And one of these days I'll get around to putting the papercraft together. I do enjoy a good papercraft.  Check out the rest of the pictures of the loot below. 

If you are interested in getting your own Loot Crate, please use the following link to sign up - it'll help me out too!  Get Your Loot Crate Here

2013 Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo


This post is quite a bit late in coming, but I wanted to revisit my awesome weekend in Chicago. I had originally planned on going to this show's sister show, the New York Comic Con this past October. But due to having my place to stay fall through and it being absurdly expensive to get a motel room in Manhattan, I had to call it off.  So I just pivoted and planned a trip to the Chicago show instead. I went two years ago, and it was a blast.

I made sure to be at the show first thing on Friday. I wanted to hit the show floor before all the craziness happened. The size of the show was so much bigger this year than in 2011. By the time I finished walking all of it, I was exhausted. I wound up finding several toys that had been eluding me for a while including a MOTUC Roboto, a mint on the card Silverhawks Quicksilver figures, and a vintage Hoard Trooper figure from the He-Man toy line. All super awesome stuff. I even took in a show the varient stage where a group was performing the entire "Once More with Feeling" musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Very Entertaining.

New this year was a section of the floor called "The Block" which was like Artist's Alley, but for people who make comic and entertainment related toys and other goods. Lots of cool indie action figures, art toys and all kinds of neat stuff.

I didn't make it back on Saturday. The good friends I stayed with offered up a trip to the zoo instead. I couldn't pass it up. Spending a day with friends was just what I needed to take my mind off of the awful events from a couple weeks prior.  Such a blast.

Sunday I made it back in for a while. The floor was SUPER crowded at this point. Since the last day is "Family Day", there was a lot more children and people in general. I was really glad I did the floor on Friday.  The one panel of the show I actually made it to all weekend was the "Drawing DC" panel where you got to watch several DC artists including Chris Burnham, Patrick Gleason, and Doug Mahnke sketch on a projector while they talk about what they do and answer audience questions. It was my favorite panel in 2011 and this one didn't disappoint either. You can see one of Burnham's sketches below.

All in all it was a great weekend. And while I did miss quite a bit of the panels, I still highly enjoyed spending time on the floor and see all the amazing artwork in Artist's Alley and The Block.  Below are some pictures from the event.

March 2013 Lootcrate Unboxing

Today I received my first ever Loot Crate.  If you don't know what that is, it's ok. You soon will.  Loot Crate is a monthly subscription box service where they ship you a box of cool geek / gamer culture related items.  I was so pissed that I missed out on last months one because of the "Tardis Prime" shirt and the "Sharks with freaking lazer beams" can coozie. We had been told ahead of time that the topic for this month was "Cosmos". And oh man did they not disappoint. So without further delay...

Note: I was going to make a video for this unboxing, but my eagerness to dig in got the better of me. Next month, I promise!


Vador Bobble!!! How cool is this?

Dead Space Vinyl Art

Hexbug Nano Micro Robot (I can't stop playing with this guy!)

All in all an amazing month from Loot Crate. Being a toy collector, I about lost my shit when I saw the Funko bobble.  The rest of the stuff is equally as awesome. I'm proudly sporting my Cheat Code wristband around everywhere now. 

If you are interested in getting your own Loot Crate, please use the following link to sign up - it'll help me out too!  Get Your Loot Crate Here

My Collection Obsession

Ever since I was young, I've had a bit of an obsession with toys.  Especially action figures. Being a child of the 80's I grew up with the like of He-Man and She-Ra, Ghostbusters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Thundercats, Silverhawks, GI Joe, and Voltron to name but a very few.  I've always been pretty creative. I was constantly drawing and building things when I was a kid.  I think the combination of my love for these characters along with a deep appreciation for the artistry of sculpting articulated action figures and other toys has completely rekindled my love for these toys as an adult. Now that we have moved into our own place just outside of Boston, the wife has reluctantly allowed me to display parts of my collection.  Currently I have about 70% of my modern and vintage toys set up around the apartment.  I'm excited to share some pictures of the displays here.

There are a few lines I seriously collect, and others I casually collect.  The largest chunk of my collection is taken up by the various Masters of the Universe lines.  This includes the ongoing Mattel Masters of the Universe Classics Collectors Line.  I'm a current and future subscriber to Club Eternia.  Here are some counts of what I have verses the totals for each line.

Vintage MOTU Figure/Vehicles: 69 of 121
Vintage Princess of Power: 10 of 60
He-Man New Adventures: 9 of 41
Modern (200x) MOTU: 52 of 90
MOTU Classics: 84 of 98 as of the time of this post.
NECA MOTU Stactions: 5 of 18

You may also notice in the pictures above, I am a proud owner of a 99% complete vintage MOTU Eternia playset.  I've got nearly all the parts, the manuals, mini-comic AND THE FREAKING ORIGINAL GIANT BOX!  I LOVE this set and can't wait to get a table set up to display it.  It's huge - notice how it's almost as tall as the chair back!

Some of the other lines I collect are the vintage LGN Thundercats, Diamond Collectables Stargate SG1 and Atlantis, Mattel's DC Universe Classics (I'm a sucker for the build a figure concept), Bucky O'hare, and vintage and Modern Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Thundercats: 13 of 63
Stargate: 6 of ??
DC Universe Classics (single wave figures): 49 of 158
Bucky O'Hare: 7 of 12
TMNT Vintage: 74 of 262
TMNT Modern (2012): 14 of 14

There's also a few other random toys and such scattered around in on shelves and boxes.  As you can tell it's a hobby I really enjoy!  I'm heading to New York Comic Con in a couple of weeks.  I'm hoping to fill some of the holes left in my collection.

Matty Collector Toy Review - September, 2011

Chief Carnivus, Leech, and Hurricane Hordak

The September release from the Masters of the Universe collection included two new figures and one re-release.  We get two new figures in Leech and Hurricane Hordak, both part of the 2011 subscription.  Chief Carnivus was the figure available as a re-release.  All three are pictured below.


If you remember the original Leech figure from 1985, it was quite hefty.  The figure also had suction cups for hands, feet, and a really powerful suction mechanism for his head.  You would push a button on his back, then press his face against a smooth surface and release the button.  He would stick right to it.  That's the one thing missing from this figure... any sort of suction mechanism.  That all being said, this figure is really quite stunning.  It still has a bit of heft to it.  The Four Horseman have done an amazing job with the head sculpt.  It's gorgeous in the most grotesque way possible.  And who doesn't love a great bat style crossbow.

The articulation, like most of the others from this series, is good.  You have to be careful with the left arm since there is an attached piece of armor there that could be pinched and broken.  Aside from the crossbow, Leech also ships with a suction cup netting in the shape of the Horde bat.  It's a fun accessory, but I was a little bummed that the way it was packaged caused one side of mine to be deformed.

Hurricane Hordak

Next up we have Hurricane Hordak. This is easily the least impressive of the three figures.  I was very excited about this figure because I was under the impression there was actually a spin mechanism to him like his 1986 original design. They paid homage to the design by sculpting a non functional spin wheel on the back of his removable armor.  The design of the figure is nice, but nothing special.  In my opinion the previously released Hordak figure from Matty Collector was much more impressive.

Hordak comes with updated versions of the same three spin weapons the original figure sported.  There's the bat blades, the thunderball mace, and the fork pincher.  They all attach by plugging into the hole in the figure's right arm. Again articulation is pretty good, although the bulky armor tends to limit movement a little bit.  A small price to pay for so much bling!

Chief Carnivus

I discovered the Matty Collector Masters of the Universe toy line after they had already been out a couple years.  While I am signed up for a 2012 subscription, I am still missing a good number of the previous year's figures.  When I have the opportunity to pick up a figure re-release, I absolutely take it.  This month, we had the opportunity to pick up Chief Carnivus.  This is a character I'm really not that familiar with. Outside of what I read on his card, and a brief appearance in the 2002 cartoon series, I really had no idea who he was.

That all being said, this is one wicked awesome figure sculpt. The detailing is one of the best I've seen from this series so far.  The Chief comes with a sword, shield and full length cape.  The armor, weapons and head are all highly detailed and well sculpted.  The figure articulates well and displays amazingly.

And just for fun, here's some "action shots". Click 'em to make 'em bigger. As of this posting, Leech is already sold out, but you can still pick up Hurricane Hordak and Chief Carnivus at Enjoy!

She-Ra battles Hordak

He-Man takes on Leech

She-Ra is captures, can He-Man and Chief Carnivus save her?

The Original Ninja Turtles are Back

I am ecstatic the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are back in print.  Kevin Eastman, one of the original creators of the turtles is back writing a new revitalized comic series for the ninja four.  In this first arc Eastman, along with co-writer Tom Waltz, is re-telling a version of the origin story side by side with the introduction of a new villan - a mutant ally cat named "Old Hob".  All the old fan favorites are here as well, including April, Casey Jones, and Splinter.  Dan Duncan has done an amazing job with the interior art.  And Sam Kieth and Walter Simonson put together this amazing four-part cover.  When I saw it on the shelf I had to grab all four of them!

Apparently this is all part of IDW and Nickelodeon's efforts to revitalize the Turtles and get an entirely new fan base excited about them.  I'm looking forward to seeing what Nickelodeon does with their new animated series next year.  It's going to be hard to top the original cartoon!

Also, in October, IDW is releasing a 312 page hardcover collection of some of the best original TMNT comics.  Be sure to check your comic stores for TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION.  I will absolutely be picking up a copy.

Also, Cowabunga!