Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Quick Crappy Review: Mondo Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1:6 Scale Donatello (Mondo Exclusive version)

I’ve not been so good of late - you can tell when I’m not so good because my blog content either dries up or becomes really indulgent (well EVEN MORE really indulgent), depression and panic attacks have turned me into an unproductive slug filled with despair and pain. You know what I need? A huge Ninja Turtle to turn up in the post, that’d cheer me up a bit – well whaddya know!? Also: feel bad for me!

Donatello is the second of Mondo’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1:6 Scale Collectable Figures, 10-inch deluxe action figures based (mostly) on the TMNT comic books of old. The first was Leonardo and if you haven’t read my utterly spectacular Quick Crappy Review of that figure you can read it here, it’s probably best to give it a look over, not just because it’s utterly specular like all may amazing content (so much bullshit, so little time) but because this review’ll be referring to it a fair amount. Anyway Donatello was scheduled for release in Quarter 2 2016 and has arrived in Quarter 3 2017 so yeah, he’s a bit late – for whatever reasons Mondo have taken a year to ship these figures, things happen but it’s not a great start to their move into the world of 1:6 scale action figures and has severely damaged my trust in them (though they did get their Madballs out pretty fast). Anyway two versions of Donatello were available, a regular version and a deluxe version that came with an additional accessory but if you subscribed (so you got all four Turtles) you got the deluxe version for the price of the regular version, this is what I did.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Examples of Crap I Waste My Money On: Hyper Japan 2017 Edition!

It was Hyper Japan! The premiere anime, manga and Japanese culture convention for us in the South-East, I’ve been having heavy bouts of depression with long panic attacks and had to force myself to go but I’m so glad I did. It IS still being held at Tobacco Dock though, a place I likened last time to something like ‘a Hello Kitty store exploded in a survival horror location’: my opinion of the venue has not changed because the venue and layout has not changed – you still enter though a creepy underground carpark that looks like a test map from Left 4 Dead and Tobacco Dock itself is still filled with empty rooms, dead ends and dark corners and it’s still confusing as fuck to navigate without checking your map. There are – happily – no pyramid headed rapey executioners dragging huge knives, no one cosplayed as Pyramid Head this year (which is a good thing, because dressing up as Red Pyramid is fucked up in many ways).

I had an awesome time regardless, I cosplayed for once (I was a wizard dressed all in pink, I looked fabulous, no you can’t see a picture) which generally makes me more approachable than my usual ‘scowling bald man all in black’ look (I can’t help it! Some people have resting bitch face I have resting you can’t come in here in those shoes mate face) and so chatted to many other nerds, some dressed up, some may have been or they just might have been really stylish in general -  I even got to hang out with Nick Wylde and Judy Hopps for a while. I get a bit nervous around and when I get nervous I can overcompensate so I apologize to anyone who had an experience akin to a pink hurricane blowing past. I did feel a bit sparse this time around, I know there are always less sellers than at the Christmas Market because, well, that’s a Christmas Market themed convention but I still could have done with some more stalls and they REALLY needed some more food stalls but even if the convention had been utter crap objectively and it really fucking wasn’t - multiple stages, game rooms and panel rooms were all there to enjoy, I think there was a rave room too, what as that place? Even if it was crap objectively my friend’s infectious enthusiasm would have made sure I came out of my funk long enough to enjoy myself, we were all dressed up (except Dan, tit) and all themed (Fairy Tail, judge as applicable) and everyone was so up, it was a good time and a welcome break from mental and physical exhaustion (FEEL BAD FOR ME). I never do too much shopping at Hyper Japan events because it lacks the variety of crap LFCC and (to a lesser extent) MCM have on offer but I still got enough to squeeze an Examples of Crap I Waste My Money On post out – aren’t you delighted?

Your background for these is an awesome sketch of Oswald The Lucky Rabbit  my friend bought for me from Disney World. Just to clarify: it HAS been up on my wall, I took it took it down for the new windows to be put in and haven't put it back yet. 

Smego Squirtle!
A Present! (£6/$7.86 I think)
Oh no sorry it’s a LNO Squirtle, because that’s less like ‘Lego’ than ‘Smego’. This is the first thing I bought (well it was bought for me – thanks Natsu!) because how can anyone resist this? They had all three Gen 1 Starters too so if you’re more in the Bulbasaur or Charmander camps then they had your impulse buy covered too. I’m a Squirtle man, it was the Squirtle Squad that sealed the deal for me, a bunch of hoodlum squirrel turtles who had no fucks to give and wore glasses stolen from Mouser from Super Mario Bros 2? I didn’t want to raise a Squirtle after that, I wanted to be one and then it evolves into Thor Turtle and then a fucking tank. I like Bulbasaur and Charizard is undeniably badass but it’s just Squirtle has my heart.
Anyway I have one of these for Sonic and for Raphael and they’re a bitch to put together if you have hands as huge as mine, imagine King Kong trying to pick up a Jack Russel and you have an idea of what it’s like for me to build these, but it’ll be worth if for Squirtle. I need to get an Umbreon one of something like that so I can make little sunglasses for him, I bet they make one for the demon from Death Note (*Googles*… …. He’s called Ryuk), he has enough black to make Mouser sunglasses out of, surely?   

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

X-Looks III: My Favourite Jean Grey Costumes

I there wasn't gonna be another of these for a specific X-Character: I have the theory that these are more fun for me to work out and write than they are for other people to read and I didn’t think I ‘needed’ to do another one as I thought I had one definitive look I prefer for the remaining X-Characters (or at least only one or two) but that turned out to not be the case for Jean Grey, fucking gingers.
Me and Jean Grey have never been close, Rogue’s my favourite X-Man and Storm is (for me) the hottest X-Man but I’ve always been kind of ‘whatever’ on Jean: I don’t dislike her and she (or the Phoenix Force posing as her) has had some great moments but I wouldn’t say I like her either, she’s always just kind of ‘been there’ for me. I also don’t find her very attractive, in fact I think she’s kind of uninteresting physically speaking - This is odd as I’m a massive ’redophile’ and find gingers to be the most attractive breed of white people1 but for Jean the only time I found her attractive (and not just one of her outfits) is very recently when she was played by Sophie Turner (X-Men: Apocalypse) and as fine an actress as Turner is (and as pretty as she is) I think she’s a terrible bit of casting, mostly because she looks very little like Jean Grey, or at least 616 Jean Grey (and Evolution Jean Grey too now I think about it), so what I’m saying is the only time I found Jean Grey attractive is when she didn’t look like Jean Grey. Oh the reason that’s not on the list? I don’t like her black costume; I did like her ‘graduation’ costume (that’s based on the Jim Lee designed Mutant Genesis/X-Men ’92 cartoon look) a lot more but not enough to get it on the list. So I don’t really care either way for Jean Grey as a character and I don’t fancy her, and yet I have a whole bunch of looks I like for her, I wonder if that’s more likely (because I don’t have strong feelings on her) or less so (because I don’t have strong feelings on her)?

Anyway Jean Grey is a bit complicated: Jean Grey is one of the original X-Men and one of Professor X’s first students (the fifth to officially join). As a kid her powers kicked in just as her best friend was about to be run over by a car, physically ‘in her mind’ at the time of her death, Jean spent some time in a coma before joining the X-Men. Jean Grey sacrificed herself to save the All-New All Different X-Men and some allies and pilot them through cosmic rays2, during this an extra-terrestrial sentient force called The Phoenix Force came to her, took her form and left her in Jamaica Bay to heal (the cosmic rays having already began to kill her), this Phoenix was seduced and driven unstable by Mastermind and became Dark Phoenix, killed a planet then sacrificed herself on the moon. After this the force tried to return what it took from Jean but she rejected it, so it found the next best thing, a clone of Jean Mister Sinister was working who became Madelyn Prior. By the time Jean was eventually found in Jamaica Bay by the Avengers, Cyclops had married Madelyn and had a child (who became Cable) however due to a series of events3 the two split up, Prior lost it and became the Goblin Princess and died and then the memories of both Prior and the Phoenix Force as Jean Grey were returned to Jean. Jean and Cyclops got together proper, married and got stuck in the future helping to raise Cyclops’ son, then were the X-Men’s golden couple until Cyclops sacrificed himself to save X-Man, merged with Apocalypse and then came back with some serious emotional problems, Jean was then killed by ‘Magneto’ after tapping into the Phoenix Force herself. So are you…WAKE UP!....are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll being:

6. X-Men: The Movie Action Figure (Version 1)
Debut: X-Men: The Movie (Toy Biz)
So this was a big deal for about two minutes in 2000 but 2000 fell right in the deepest recess of THE DARK TIMES™ when I was a comic book fanboy extraordinaire. So it looms large in what’s left of my fragmented memories of this time so this particular look for Jean Grey has become somewhat big to me. The controversy was that when Jean Grey, Storm and the Jean Grey pack-in figure that came with Cyclops were released they had a huge plunging cleavage and Toy Biz thought it was a bit much so they revised them to have a painted-on bra and then eventually to have a new torso (and head, well except the pack-in Jean, that stayed with just the painted on bra). It was a big deal for a short while with collectors scrambling to get the ‘no bra’ versions and was reported on in magazines like Wizard and Toyfare and I actually found a no-bra Jean in-store during a holiday to Chicago that year (it was in a regular toy shop, I still have it carded3). Even though this controversy surrounded both Storm and Jean I associate it more with Jean, probably because she had two figures altered, probably because she was usually the one pictured probably because my third probably because; probably because the change was more noticeable on Jean Grey’s figure thanks to costume design and pose (her chest is kind of thrust out). Because this loomed so large at an impressionable point of my life when I was very focussed on collecting I genuinely think of this figure first 8/10 times when people mention Jean Grey and have grown to have great affection for it.
That’s basically why it’s here, why it’s so low is because I just don’t like Famke Janssen’s casting as Jean Grey and never have, facially she is just completely wrong for all artwork of Jean Grey up to that point (I think they were trying to match her to John Byrne’s drawing of the character if they were trying to match her at all?). I think Famke Janssen is gorgeous, please don’t think this is a knock on Famke Janssen’s looks nor for that matter her acting ability or her ability to pull off being a psychic Mutant acting-wise, it’s just that looks-wise she looks nothing like Jean Grey and it affects my opinion of the look overall. It probably shouldn’t - this is Jean Grey in another universe after all – but at this point it does so it helps it dictate the placing: that and I basically like it by association, because it was the outfit worn by a controversial and noteworthy toy.

Monday, 10 July 2017

5 Things I Saw At Pride in London 2017

So me and a friend went to Pride in London which was held last Saturday (the 8th), I got to be the token heterosexual and it was very fun indeed. If you’re wondering why a completely heterosexual man would go to Pride the answer is a) because my friend asked me and b) a show of support, plain and simple. I do support being out, being proud of it and being able to be so and I am more than happy to turn up and show this by my presence, by my complete nonchalance and by occasionally hugging very muscular men in nothing but shiny mock-leather thongs and rainbow body paint. Actually I’m happy to show my support to anything by hugging anyone, I just like hugging.
For a bit of history nicked from Wikipedia: London Pride has been going since 1972 (though technically 1970) that’s usually held around the first weekend in July, a time chosen because it was the closest Saturday to the Stonewall Riots, an American uprising of Gay and Lesbian New Yorkers after the police raided the Stonewall Inn. It has evolved from a very militant thing to an all day party and I know its drawn accusations of selling out. I’m not a member of the LGBT community, I did grow up being ostracized and beaten up but it was for other things, so I don’t know what right I have to comment but fuck it it’s my blog so: my feelings are: being yourself is worth celebrating as much as fighting for so either should be available at Pride and it is: there are still slogans all over the place and still organisations in the parade that aren’t there to shill for supermarkets AND there are crowds of half-cut people out dancing in the streets to some surprisingly listenable techno cuts and, having a bit of an interest in modern history, especially the 1950s upwards, I am somewhere between pleased and amazed that we’re got to the point where it’s seen to be better for a company’s image to support Pride than to not to.
Anyway I had a fucking great time and I clearly wasn’t alone in that, the event attracts around a million people and easily 80% of them were delighted of course 60% of them were pissed but... anyway here are five random awesome things that I came into contact with, so are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll being:

Rainbow Ice-Cream!
This was a special, put on by a shop called Yorica! - which is a free from shop with a branch in Soho. I’m not a vegetarian or vegan and have no allergies or moral issues with eating anything - I’d eat human if it came curried - and shops like Yorica are very expensive BUT if you tell me that 1) there’s a promotional food item on sale and 2) it’s fucking rainbow then my ass is there. For all I know you can now mix sorbet and ice-cream perfectly with today’s new-fangled technology but if you can’t then eating this is the experience that would give you if it were possible, it was teeth-shatteringly sweet and reminded me of the time I crushed a whole packet of Refreshers and put it all in my mouth (we won’t go into why shall we?) – none of these observations are to be taken as a negative; it was good ice-cream.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

X-Looks: My Favourite Storm Costumes

Toldja I’d do Storm
The point of these is that unlike many other characters where I have a definite preference for one look or costume there are some characters there’s a bunch I like with only very small gaps in preference between them and thus I made them into a countdown for my own benefit and amusement and I’m sharing it with you because you don’t get a choice, cool? This is truer for the X-Men’s Storm than just about any other character I can think of. When I internally debate such things the same thing happens: I think of my number one then in brief succession all the rest and end up with a pile of favourites.
So Storm is a Mutant with the ability to control the weather (except for the time she lost her powers for a while), her mother was Kenyan and her father was African-American but she was orphaned at a young age and grew up in Cairo as a child thief before being worshipped as a weather goddess by a small Serengeti tribe (as you do). She joined the X-Men in Giant Size X-Men 1 as part of the big All-New All-Different X-Men shake-up (which also introduced Wolverine, Nightcrawler and Colossus to the team) and has stayed with them pretty much since except for a while when a racial supremacist married her off to Black Panther. After Cyclops quit the team following Jean Grey’s ‘death’ Storm became leader of the group and even fought and bested her predecessor to remain in the role, when he eventually returned about a decade later she became leader of the X-Men Gold Squad and still leads squads when the writers remember to have her do so. Storm was long-time X-Men writer Chris Claremont’s favourite and he was VERY unsubtle about this in the pages of the books he wrote, as such Storm has a LONG history of being very badass and having villains fall for her, now it’s just an established fact in and out of universe that Storm is made of pure awesome. Rogue’s my favourite X-Man but Storm’s probably the X-Man character I fancy the most on a purely physical level so I’m going to really try and make this not too pervy but even if I fail: know that I have never (allegedly) paid a woman to dress up like Storm and do very rude things to me so at the very least I’m still less pervy than Chris Claremont. So are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll being.         

7. Outback
Debut: Uncanny X-Men issue 230
There is one reason for me liking this costume so much, it’s not a very good reason but it is the definite reason why I’m so into this look: it’s the outfit used for Storm’s first action figure in the original wave of Toy Biz’s X-Men line. I have a huge (some might say disproportionately huge) respect for the first two waves of X-Men toys, because there’s a crudeness, a toyness to them that I find very charming but also because they’re the start of it all, a pretty blatant case of ‘first instalment wins’ and y’know what? I don’t think some characters (Cyclops, Sauron, Weapon X, Blue & Yellow Wolverine, Iceman and Colossus) have ever been done better. So yeah its…hmm…how to put it?... it’s number 7 by association.  

Thursday, 6 July 2017

X-Looks: My Favourite Rogue Costumes

I was bored and couldn’t sleep, this is the result, I apologize in advance.
Rogue’s my favourite X-Men, I’ve gone into it before but the combination of wanting to hug her, her nice hair and enjoying seeing her kick arse makes her number 1 in the world of AFB, X-Men wise. She’s had a lot of looks, all the X-Men have, even ones you’d never think like Iceman, she’s changed body types (and then changed back for some non-comics media), she’s had a whole slew of hairstyles (and nicely she actually just grew her hair out as Uncanny X-Men progressed, no big jump, just a gradual growing of hair – just like a real person) and she’s had a lot of costumes. I was thinking about my preferred look/costume for various characters today because…I have no idea why, I was spending the whole day shifting furniture on my own with no music, my mind had no distractions and wandered to all sort of things. Anyway, with some characters there’s either no debate and no competition for me (She-Hulk, it’s all Dan Slott-era purple) or not a lot of choice at all (Blue Beetle II & III) but for some characters there are multiple looks or costumes I like and I like ‘em all a real lot < I decided on this sometime between the mattress and the second glass cabinet.    
One of the characters that’s true for is Rogue, in fact I ended up with 6 looks and decided to make you a countdown, I’m sure you’re delighted. So just to get you up to speed if you’re not: Rouge is a Mutant from Mississippi who ran away after her mutant powers kicked in while kissing a boy she liked (Cody) and was adopted by villainess Mystique and her lover Destiny. She absorbs someone’s psyche, skills, physique and (if appropriate) powers through skin-to-skin contact - this is (usually) something she cannot control and were she to touch you for too long it could kill you - so she can’t risk any accidental skin-to-skin contact – this has left her with a few issues. After touching Ms. Marvel for too long she permanently absorbed her physical powers – flight, invulnerability, strength – and got even more guilt. Mystique sent Rogue to the X-Men to help her control her powers and she’s stayed with the team pretty much ever since, even leading her own squad at times. With that are you sitting comfortably? Then this won’t take long, don’t worry. 

6.  X3: The Last Stand (X-Uniform)
Debut: X3: The Last Stand (20th Century Fox)
I didn’t get Anna Paquin’s casting when it was announced, over a decade and a half’s worth of comics portraying Rogue as a leggy Amazonian made hiring this little cute girl seem ridiculous to me but looking back at Rogue during her early days with the team (when the first X-Men film was set and when she was a similar age), specifically how Paul Smith drew her during that time, Paquin’s a pretty decent fit - especially facially. Thus my love affair with Anna Paquin began (True Blood is like a dream come true, it’s like a month worth of Anna Paquin). Anyway this is pretty shallow really but I just like seeing Anna Paquin poured into a mock-leather all-in-one jump suit, I’m such a sad little perv for Anna Paquin in this get-up that it gets voted above other outfits and looks that many fans would consider classic, pathetic I know. I choose this particular movie’s version of the look even though the costume’s pretty much the same as it was in the previous film1 for the following reasons: Anna Paquin had matured considerably since her debut as the character with a body and more so a face that’s a closer fit to the Jim Lee/Andy Kubert/Brian Hitch drawings of Rogue that I think of when I think ‘Rogue’ (mostly because of my age and when I came into the franchise I grant you) and her wig had gotten much longer with a lot more white stripe and was being worn down - again making it a closer fit to Lee/Kubert 90’s Rogue but and also just being something I find more attractive than having it up in a ponytail like she did when in-costume in the first two films2.  

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Quick Crappy Review: Neca Superman vs Muhammad Ali

This review has taken me weeks to post, I got this set at the May MCM convention, that’s over a month ago. Why has it taken so long? Well the last picture in this review came out blurry (all of them I took, around 15) so I had to retake it – yes this took me a month to do. I lost the figures, I couldn’t get to the loft, I had a birthday, I had various small bouts of depression, I’m a lazy fuck, all kinds of shit. Now I have the pictures and with very little other content to post because I’m super busy with other stuff (including replacing all the pictures in over half of the posts on here) so I’m finally posting this bloody thing. SO… I went to MCM’s May convention, in was quite frankly better than it’s been in years, two rooms of dealers, a much bigger list of guests (doubly impressive as another convention was happening the same weekend) and just overall a better experience. Sadly my cosplay fell apart before I got in the damn place but that meant I got to walk around the whole thing in ratty clothes and socks, treating the place like it was happening in my living room, it was very satisfying. I came home with two sacks of stuff, some for my birthday (paid for by others), some for myself to enjoy at the time, such as this: Neca’s Superman vs Muhammad Ali two-pack.

It dawns on me that if you don’t know about this then you’re likely confused as to why anyone would make a two pack of figures featuring a boxer and a superhero. Well once upon a time, roughly 1976, DC Editor Julie Swartz came up with the idea of having the most famous person in the world team up with Superman. Celebrities have crossed over with superheroes more than you might think, even by this point, sometimes because they had their own books (like Bob Hope and Jerry Lee Lewis), sometimes because the celebrity wants it and is big enough to get it (like Eminem) and sometimes just because DC/Marvel thought it would sell or be cool (like this), Kiss and the Saturday Night Live crew have appeared in comics so Muhammad Ali shouldn’t be too ridiculous to comprehend. It took a lot of negotiations and behind the screens fiddling (rumour has it that Ali wrote his own dialogue) but the book finally came out as a huge coffee table sized $2 comic in 1978: All New Collector’s Edition C-56, complete with a tag-line to get some sales off the back of Star Wars (I kid you not: the ridiculously clunky phrase ‘Star Warriors’ is nearly as big as the two leads’ logos). The cover has become somewhat iconic in comic book circles and the book is one of my favourite Superman tales of all time; produced by one of comics’ best duos – Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams – it delivers on its concept and the hype that surrounded it, helped by the fact that Ali is one of the few real-world people who I believe could and would have done something like, oh, say, boxed an alien and won if given the chance. Usually the celebrities in these things feel out of place, or worse the book feels like double-sized issue long blowjob for them (read the Punisher/Eminem special for such things) but Ali was so big and so good and known for being so good that his involvement as Earth’s Champion in an alien pissing contest feels as normal as Superman’s, in 1977 they’re easily the first two people the world would have chosen, with Luke Skywalker being number 3.