Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Marvel Comics Shopping!

While I love seeing the latest thing as much as anyone, buying individual comics is not a great value, especially when they are $3.99! I get deals on trade paperbacks that really drive home that belief, and have been lucky to find plenty in the dollar comics bins to keep me entertained, but it's fun to occasionally pick up a few new titles. I inadvertently ended up shopping at Slackers due to a southbound traffic jam, but worth mentioning is this retail establishment's thoughtful inclusion of bag & board in the price of their titles. I buy from a variety of local comics retailers in the area, and Slackers is the only I know of that doesn't charge for this. It's a small thing, but with the price of comics nowadays, it adds a lot of value in my book...  

*Marvel Now, FF #1
I had my nose so deeply into my recent TPB hauls that I completely missed news of Marvel's recent reboot of several titles, including FF. This issue featuring Mike Allred's cool artwork brought the relaunch to my attention! I loved the X-Force books I read recently, and his guest pencilling on Wolverine & the X-Men #17 was hilarious! Is that She-Hulk, Ant-Man, and Medusa...? And what's going on with the girl in a Thing suit?? This should be FUN! Hot off the press today, Kids  :) 

*Marvel Now, Fantastic Four #1
I thought I'd pick this up to compare to the FF issue #1 above- I've read nothing about it, but I dig on the Fantastic Four in general, and I like the team in their "Future Foundation" black & white...

*Marvel Now, Captain America #1
I bought this for the cover alone- the art looks killer! I don't pick up a lot of issues of Captain America, but this sent me over the edge. At a whole dollar more than the two Fantastic Four books, I mildly resent that some titles are more than others- like they are gouging us for the more popular, marquee heroes. I wanted to pick up the #1 issues of Thor: God of Thunder and All-New X-Men, but at $3.99 each I held off. Maybe later. I'm looking forward to the upcoming Cable and X-Force, and Guardians of the Galaxy in December 2012 and February 2013!

*Captain America & Black Widow #636 - 639
While shopping around I picked up four issues of this title, for the first time having noticed homeboy Cullen Bunn's credit as author. I was aware he worked on Captain America & Hawkeye awhile back, which I regrettably missed, so I snatched these exciting-looking issues up. Cullen is a personable guy, and I enjoyed his "Sorceror Kings" run in Superman/Batman last year. Looking forward to this!

While on the subject of comics. be sure to visit a couple of comics blogs I added to my "Blogs of Note" on the sidebar here at the Super-DuperToyBox recently, The Peerless Power of Comics and Too Busy Thinking About My Comics These men are very knowledgable on their subjects. Comicsfan covers a lot of Silver/Bronze Age Marvel with a slightly whimsical take & lots of great pictures, and Colin is a particulary astute critic with a more academic voice. Both are great!
More Later- Make It FUN!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Avengers Flip & Attack Captain America

I was breezing through Wal-Mart to pick up some bread & salad on Saturday night for spaghetti dinner at my friend's house, and seeing one of these Avengers Flip & Attack vehicles made me think their son James, a fellow Marvel enthusiast & Avengers fan! Hasbro produced three of these in their recent flood of Avengers merchandising: Iron Man, Hulk, and Captain America. I love the idea of the superhero/robot mashup- the Flip & Attack Hulk looked super-cool, too! I'd been curious about these, so I picked one up for my little buddy to see what they are all about. For after all, if you want to know if a toy is really fun or not, ask a kid  :D

 These are pretty simple toys, but have great eye appeal- from the front anyway. The paint apps are slightly metallic, adding nicely to Cap's mecha appearance. His head & chest sculpt are particularly dynamic, and the stars on his wheel covers are cool.

Flip & Attack Captain America doesn't have much articulation- his arms move up and down, but there are no elbow nor knee joints. His feet are connected at the base, presumably to stabilize the robot when he pops to his feet. Understandably, there's not much going on in back, which becomes his undercarriage when transformed into vehicle mode.

Flip & Attack Captain America isn't exactly a Transformer- he's mostly a wind-up vehicle that unfolds into a mecha/robot Captain America. After a sprint on his wheels, he pops open into robot mode, often times right up onto his feet! A short drop on his wheels will also unlatch his robot mode. James and I gave this a test run on the dining room floor while Mom & Dad were preparing dinner in the video below...

Captain America makes a great mecha- the stylization of his outfit lends itself well to robot adaptation. I've seen a few others recently, including the Transformers Mech Machines Avengers Captain America Assault Cruiser, the LEGO Marvel Super Heroes Captain America, and that cool Mega Bloks Captain America Techbot. I always liked the Iron Patriot Iron Man/Capt. America mashup, so it makes total sense to me. James & I thought he was pretty cool!

More Later- Make It FUN!

Monday, November 19, 2012

DC SuperFriends Robin

I'd had no luck finding this little guy for under fifty bucks in the past year or so, but stumbled upon a cache of these going for for $16.50 each, shipping included. Oh Glorious Day! Like my Hawkman from this series, this 5 1/2" Robin was a 2009 MattyCollector exclusive and came in their protective white box. 

I've said before that while these are simple toys, I appreciate their design as much as any DCUC, DC Direct, or Marvel Legends figure. Their happy colors and chunky build make them both comforting and inviting- "Play with me, I'm cute!"  And Robin is no exception...

They could not have made this little guy any cuter- his enthusiastic smile captures the young, energetic spirit of the Boy Wonder perfectly. Robin is sort of a mix of the Batman the Animated Series Boy Wonder and the Warner Brothers Teen Titans Dick Grayson. His buck is appropriately smaller than the "adult" counterparts in the series, as it should be- in my imagination, Robin is a boy of thirteen or fourteen, and it's cool to see the buck of an action figure/toy reflect that. While this whole line meant for ages 3 and up are very limited in articulation, they skipped the elbow hinges on this Robin, but they did give him swivel wrists. He also has an anchor peg for attachment to vehicles like the others- it's pretty ugly, but is what it is. As best I can gather, these were intended to activate sounds in some of the vehicles from this line of toys, but I'm unsure how this feature worked and it doesn't seem to activate anything when seated in my Batmobile. If anyone knows what I'm missing here, please leave a comment below and enlighten me.

I was likely more amused by the accessory included with this figure than the parent that bought him- the disc launcher packs a wallop! There's a warning sticker on the card backer about not aiming at the face, but you know some kid shot his sister with it. I'll keep this handy  ;D

Finally, my SuperFriends Batman has his partner in crime fighting by his side!

Of course this also meant Batman could have the right kid riding shotgun in the Batmobile! This was a fun moment, akin to my recollections of having a Batman & Robin to plop into my Mego Batmobile as a kid in the 70's- not quite as cool, but there's a certain satisfaction in having a dynamic duo to ride in your Batmobile   :D

Pictured below are DC SuperFriends Batman & Robin with the more recent Mattel Power Attack Batman & Robin. These guys also had a cool Batmobile I skipped on because I don't really even have room for the SuperFriends Batmobile.

SuperFriends Robin is a welcome addition to my Boy Wonder collection. See my posts on DC Direct Arkham Asylum Robin and Batman Incorporated Robin, my Kenner Turbo Glider Robin from 1992, and my Imaginext Robin w/cycle...  

More Later- Make It FUN!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

My Fan Art: Man of Steel

Man of Steel, 2012
acrylic on 140 lbs. watercolor paper
14 x 20"
My new painting of Superman! I mixed a little classic Man of Steel, some Doug Mahnke Final Crisis & Lee's New 52, Chris Reeve's spit curl, and color influence from a DC Superfriends toy I have. I loved the coloring on this variant Superman so much that I didn't I didn't even attempt to land the regular/conventional version...
I know a lot of folks were less than thrilled with DC's recent New 52 reboot, and Jim Lee's redesign of Superman's iconic costume, stripping the Man of Steel of his shorts and running armor lines throughout the figure. It was jarring to see initially, but I eventually came to appreciate it. I was admittedly mildly bored with the story in the New 52 Justice League, but the artwork was really great. I haven't gotten around to reading either of the New 52 Superman titles, but am slightly more interested in reading the New Krypton books first.
Speaking of variants, I also loved the New 52 Earth 2 Superman costume- a shame they killed him off in the first issue, LOL! The art was also great in this book, and the story was a little better than the New 52 Justice League.
Supes was painted all in brush with acrylic, no pens, on 14 x 20" watercolor paper. As I've said before, as a kid in school I dreamt of being a comic book artist- I went on to attend school and became a working fine artist. The influence of comics is highly evident in my work today, and though my style developed into a more abstract vernacular, it did retain a dramatic and narrative quality. Those comic artists are just in a league above and beyond me- lightning fast and SUPER-talented! Still, I occasionally enjoy illustrating a favorite hero, and starting this blog a couple years ago reignited that unrealized dream.
* See my painting of Superman (as Nightwing) rescuing the city of Kandor from Brainiac! 
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Friday, November 16, 2012

Custom Mouse Pads!

Here's something kinda fun- the old mouse here at the Super-DuperToybox was getting worn out, and after picking up a nifty, red Logitech M310 on sale, sadly discovered the local marketplace bereft of any cool comics-related mouse pads! I decided to just upload a couple favorite images on Vistaprint. At twenty-three & change shipped, they cost more than my new mouse. Not cheap  but they are hella fun  :D

*The photo of DC Direct Martian Manhunter & Superman is my own. I'm a big fan of  these two alien heroes for their great power and innate goodness toward the Earthlings. The History of the DC Universe figures were somewhat clumsy on their feet, but have great color and classic styling. Fun!

*The Mar-Vell pad borrows a panel from Captain Marvel: Secret Invasion, which is probably the best Captain Marvel story I've ever read. I recently picked up a copy of Ms. Marvel's Secret Invasion, of which I have high expectations- may read that puppy this weekend! The ratio for the mouse pad doesn't match the page size of the TPB, so I had to chop him off at the knees, but the thought panels/speech balloons left at the top say plenty. Great art!

More Later, Make It FUN!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wolverine & the X-Men #17

I don't read Wolverine & the X-Men really, but I happened upon this recent issue #17 illustrated by Mike Allred, whose run on X-Force I had just scored in a couple trade paperbacks. I absolutely love Mike's work, it's simplified, graphic and colorful style serves the sense of humor in this book very well. I laughed out loud!

After Deathlok gives Wolverine, headmaster of Jean Grey's School for Higher Learning, a dismal report on the staff's recent performance, the very presence of one in particular is brought into question  :D   "I know who you're gonna say, but let me tell ya, you're wrong. This guy performs a vitally important function here at the school." Time and again Wolverine defends his friend Doop's position at the school, confounding the rest of the instructors who are irritated and disgusted by the slobbering green spheroid. Offenses ranging from distilling alcohol in the chemistry lab and stealing food, to his complete disregard of basic hygiene have the staff at the end of their wits with Doop's lewd behavior and disgusting habits.

Wolverine is aware of Doop's clandestine watch over any threats to the group, however. In reality, Doop, the product of a Cold War era U.S. military experiment, works around the clock intervening wherever necessary. His worldwide watch for danger involves the kind of unscrupolous compromises, outrageous hours, and physical abuse that only Doop can withstand.
Humiliating liaisons, taking on an army of robots with Howard the Duck, stopping a Nazi bowling league's attack on the new school, and even smashing a nun's laptop are just a few of the indignities poor Doop must endure to protect the group. This silent guardian is often left in a shambled heap after the degradations of his duty and promise to Wolverine, all the while unrecognized by the rest of the staff for his tireless sacrifice.
But Wolverine understands Doop's real function at the school, confident that whatever had to be done was done, and the school was safe because of his unusual talents. The banter between Doop and Wolverine is funny- expressed in special font, Doop's nonsensical, fictitious language needs not to be understood for Wolverine's conversation to imply humorous and/or perverse undertones. Doop's ridiculous physicality and facial expressions drive his slapstick comedy, the creature's diminishing appearance progressing as the story comes to an end. This was hilarious from start to finish, and a fun to find right after discovering Allred's great artwork! My only regret is that Marvel didn't treat us to a companion issue with Doop against Galactus like they teased about on the last page- that needs to happen   :D
More Later- Make It FUN!

Monday, November 5, 2012

10" Marvel Universe Capt. Marvel by ToyBiz

I know what you're thinking: "Was it even worth $4.99?" Not really, but luckily it was 30% off that, bringing this 10" Captain Marvel down to $3.63 after tax. I've been buying these big dumb ToyBiz figures from the 90's since I started this blog two years ago, and that's definitely the least I've paid for one. You can usually find them south of ten bucks- I can't promise they're a worthy investment. But In spite of their dodgy quality, and somewhat unspectacular construction, I'm amused and fascinated by these. They're like a really well done bootleg   :D

Mar-Vell is definitely one of the more slapped together looking of these: while the deco is tidy enough, the suit design clearly ignores the sculpted detail on the buck, most noticeably at the waist and boot tops. With no accessories (though it says on the box one is included), the Kree warrior is somewhat of a plain-Jane, even among other figures from this line, but I love the character and uniform. At that price I couldn't say no!

Like the rest of these 10" deluxe lines from ToyBiz, Marvel Universe, X-Men, or Spider-Man, Cap has very limited articulation and posing options. There's no lateral movement in any of the limbs, so any stability in poses other than standing upright is compromised. Still, I did get him to bust a move here... one move   :D

I'm pretty sure this is the same head sculpt as the ToyBiz Archangel I have from the X-Men line, which works fine for Captain Marvel. Like most action figure lines, these 10" deluxe reused parts for different characters throughout the line. As I said, the deco is pretty clean, with Mar-Vell's star chest insignia neatly stamped on his chest. The Nega-bands lack any sculptural detail, but are neatly painted in a metallic bronze around the wrists.

These are big, dumb toys that took easily manageable production efforts to produce cheaply, then sold at a price point low enough to lure you in with a big brightly colored box. They're junk. But that's kind of interesting to me- the artifacts of our pop culture, the tons of plastic stuff we produce, buy and sell. I wasn't paying attention to action figures much in the 90's, but would bet they sold a lot of these in spite of their purported clogging of the clearance aisle after it was over.

Time for BIG TOY/little toy: 10" ToyBiz Capt. Marvel with 7" Marvel Select Capt. Marvel and Harbro 3 3/4" Marvel Universe Capt. Marvel...

10" Capt. Marvel with fellow ToyBiz Marvel Universe action figures Spider-Man 2099 and Dr. Doom... 

And finally, from my childhood copy of the Marvel Universe Handbook of the Dead & Inactive (1984), Captain Marvel's lengthy posthumous profile. While knowledge of the character in my youth was limited, I always thought he looked cool, so catching up with him in my adulthood is entertaining.

 More Later-Make It FUN!