Monday, November 19, 2012

Off Topic: Curiosity - "What's Inside the Cube"

I downloaded Curiosity a couple of days ago, and after a couple of days of not being able to join, I've been playing it, fairly regularly for a couple of days. I think I'll end up playing on it a lot. Why? Because I'm interested in the entire social experiment that's happening here. At it's heart the app is a game. A really lame game actually. The premise is simply this, there is a huge cube in a room, and you have to get to the middle of it by chipping off it's layers one cubelet at a time. There are MILLIONS of cubelets in each layer, however, there are also almost a million players chipping off cubelets all at the same time. At the heart of the cube is something wonderful says the creator Peter Molyneux a quite famous and wealthy game designer. And only one person gets to see what it is. I don't expect to be that person. As I mentioned there's almost a million other players, that's based on a recent interview which stated that the app has been downloaded 900,000 times already. I suspect as the cube gets closer and closer to being completed the number of downloads will go up. I'm curious to see what's inside, I'm curious to see how the different images and texts on the different layers tie into the endgame. And I'm curious to see what the outcome is going to be. I guess I'm just curious. You can be too, it's free in the App Store.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day

Duke Voted, Why Haven't You?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mars Attacks Topps Heritage!

I will absolutely and totally admit to being a sucker for Nostalgia. In particular I absolutely adore the Mars Attacks property, originally a trading card set in 1962 illustrated primarily by Wally Wood and others. Most people only know it at a movie, but it's so much more than that. Topps tried an ill-fated comic book line in the mid-90s, Mars Attacks was one of their flagship titles. I think I MAY still have them in storage, at least I hope I do.

It's been 50 years since that original card set was released, and despite it being reprinted at least three other times, it's being done again, Heritage style, which means same printing process, same old cardboard, same old packaging with some new-age inserts and bonuses. Bonuses like sketch cards, printing plates and the requisite limited-edition parallels.

I've been collecting the set for awhile, piecing it together pack by pack at $2.09 plus tax (Target, thanks) for 6 cards has been tough, as Topps notorious penchant for cruddy distribution continues apace with it's lack of imagination when it comes to parallels.

Sell Sheets

The set breaks down like this:
55 Standard Cards - reprinting the original set.
10 "Deleted Scenes" - seeded 1 per pack
15 "New Universe" - seeded 1 per pack
5 Lenticular 3D cards (1:8)

1/1 Sketch Cards -
1:24 Hobby
1:96 Retail

1:3 - Puke Green
1:24 - Silver
1 per case - Gold Parallel (Hobby only)
220 total printing plates (4x each card)
550 (10 total per card) foil autograph by Len Brown

I have purchased a total of 23 individual retail packs. I know this because I have exactly 23 New Universe and 23 Deleted Scenes Cards. I have pulled 6 Green Parallels and 1 silver. I've also pulled 2 lenticular cards. AND, the grand-poo-bah, a sketch which I just pulled today. Ready? Here it is:

I DO believe that it's a Dan Brereton - which if it indeed is, would be a coup-and-a-half since he's one of my favorite comic artists. His series "Nocturnals" is monster-mayhem on a grand scale. I also adore his "Giantkiller" series from DC from a few years ago. Now I'm not 100% sure it's a Brereton, so I'm kind of posting here to see if anyone actually recognizes the signature.

As to my set collection, well the good news is I have a complete 10 card Deleted Scenes set.

That's it. For my personal set I'm missing the following:

and the New Universe: 7, 11

Lenticular 2, 3 & 4

I have the following doubles for trade:

Deleted Scenes:

New Universe:

I am totally willing to trade my parallels, but only for the Lenticular Cards or a Sketch if you want to part with yours.

Green (3x per 1x Lenticular) 3, 8, 15, 29, 49, 53

Silver (Straight up 1:1 for a Lenticular) 46

Trade Rules: I live in So. Cal. I'm willing to trade to Canada, but that's about it for over-seas. Sorry UK. Unless you can supply all my needs. Then we'll talk.

On commons I'll do my 2 for your 1.

We should ship at the same time.

If you're interested in trading, please send me email to

Monday, July 16, 2012

Upper Deck History of the United States Set BARGAIN

I was perusing my local Target looking at the cards section when I spied something I had never seen, the 2004 Upper Deck History of the United States card set on sale for a relatively low $9.99, so I bought it. Now, I was out of the card collecting game in 2004, working on my undergrad degree at UCLA, so I had no idea this set even existed, and I'm kind of glad I didn't find it until now. When they designed that set they thought it might be nicer to not number it #1-300, rather each individual sub-set is separately numbered. To make matters worse there are several insert sets, including the extremely hard to find "coin" cards. None of these chase cards are included in the factory set.

Once you unwrap the plastic you find that the set isn't collated, so you have a bit of fun ahead of you. I found a checklist here and I went to work.

The photos and card design are really well done, and a cursory glance at the backs make them appear to be well written. I'll be going through the set in detail later.

For $10 sure seems like a good deal to me.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Upper Deck to launch $200 pack of Marvel Comic Trading Cards

Just got this missive via the Upper Deck folks, all I can say is...$50 per card? Ridonkulous. Definitely NOT a budget collector item. Upper Deck Announces the Most Premium Marvel Trading Card Product Ever Produced! Trading card giant announced “Marvel Premier” is coming at Comic-Con with a suggested retail price of $200 per pack! Carlsbad, CA (July 13, 2012) – For years the Upper Deck Entertainment team has produced some of the most compelling and collectible Marvel trading cards in the industry. And now Upper Deck has decided to raise the bar in terms of what collectors can expect in a pack of Marvel trading cards announcing today at Comic-Con the company will release Marvel Premier on October 2, 2012. It will be the most premium comic trading card release of all-time with packs carrying a $200 suggested retail price tag. So what comes in a $200 pack of Marvel trading cards? There are just four cards in each pack, but they all pack a punch! First fans will receive a premium base card on thick card stock from the 50-card base set numbered to just 99 copies. Next they will receive a one-of-one sketch card from top Marvel artists. The third card is an industry first where collectors will find a dual, triple or quadruple hinged sketch card. These are really remarkable trading cards and we will be releasing images of them soon. The fourth card will be either a “Classic Corners” card, a Shadowbox card or an “Emotion” booklet card by Jason Adams and NAR! “For years we’ve seen die-hard Marvel fans pay big bucks for some of the premium inserts in our Marvel trading card lines,” said Jason Brenner, Upper Deck’s Marvel brand manager. “This is our first opportunity to provide them with a set of Marvel cards that are all high-end insert quality. This is certainly not a product for everyone which is why we are not making very much of it, but the fans it is targeted for are going to love it!” Upper Deck’s 2012 Marvel Premier really is about the artists and the company has employed some of the best for this project including Cruddie Torrain, Jason Adams and Nar! Additionally there are new innovations besides the hinged sketch cards with Upper Deck’s Shadowbox cards making their debut in the entertainment realm. The “Classic Corners” subset is another one that comic fans will be sure to love that pays homage to some of the greatest Marvel comic corners of all-time in a premium patch card. So get ready Marvel fans. Upper Deck is about to change Marvel trading cards as you know them for the better! About Upper Deck Upper Deck is the leading sports and entertainment trading card and collectibles company. For more information on Upper Deck and its products please visit About Marvel Entertainment, LLC Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is one of the world's most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library of over 8,000 characters featured in a variety of media over seventy years. Marvel utilizes its character franchises in entertainment, licensing and publishing. For more information visit ### Chris Carlin Sports Marketing & Social Media Manager The Upper Deck Company 2251 Rutherford Road | Carlsbad, CA 92008 T: 760.929.3159 (NEW) | F: 760.929.3150 Follow Upper Deck on: Web | Facebook | Twitter | Blog | YouTube

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The KINGS are in the Stanley Cup Finals

For the first time since 1993 the Los Angeles Kings are in the Stanley Cup Finals, and I am giddy with anticipation. It's been a long 8 days since the Kings clinched their berth by beating the #3 seed Phoenix Coyotes in the Western Conference Finals, capping off a great run in which they defeated the top three seeds in the West. All season this time had underachieved, only to be saved by the should-be Vezina winner Jonathan Quick, they finally started playing playoff hockey at the right time. Going into the game, which starts in about 15 minutes I might add, the Kings are 12-2 and Quick has an UNGODLY 1.54 GAA. I've been doing my part as a Kings fan - I have not shaved and I have worn one of my five Kings jerseys each and every day for at least part of the day since the playoffs started. What's funny is that I did forget to bring a jersey with me on an overnight tripe we took to Long Beach last weekend, and of course the Kings lost that day. These guys, I hate to say it in order not to jinx it, are looking like a team of destiny. Time will tell if they are. All I can say right now is GO KINGS GO. GO KINGS GO. GO KINGS GO. GO KINGS GO.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Junior Seau 1-19-1969 to 5-2-2012

Beyond the creative writing portion of one of my High School English classes, I don't think I've ever written an obituary; not about to start now. But I feel that I would be remiss if I didn't comment on the suicide of one of my favorite players from the 1990's. I was 19 in 1990 when Junior got drafted by the Chargers, but I was already well aware of his on field exploits having watched him at U$C for the previous couple of season. I remember during his rookie year when I was roommates with Otis and Lori out in La Mesa and hearing Otis bellow out "Look at Junior flailing all over the field in the wrong positions." Yeah, despite being a great player, Junior had a lot to learn about the NFL. He would though, spending 20 seasons in the league, which in my mind was about six seasons too long. He really should have stayed retired the first time when Miami didn't want to re-sign him.

I actually met Junior on a couple of occasions when I was an autograph hound at Charger Training Camp. Below are the two remaining autographs of his that I obtained back then. They are, along with my other Chargers autos some of my most prized possessions. Junior was a gentleman with all the fans back then, of course he was mobbed by kids and adults alike, and he would only sign one item from everyone, but he signed for everyone and he was generous with smiles and kind words.

Back in the day I even ate at his restaurant in Mission Valley. I don't recall it being anything spectacular, but it was a quality restaurant.

Junior will be missed, and the league needs to take a look at protecting players with concussions more. IN the end though, it was his own decision to take his own life. And what's sadder to me still is that his autographed card isn't the only one I have from ex-Chargers who are no longer with us.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Oyo SportsToys Albert Pujols Mini-Figure Review

I don't think that it's any secret that I LOVE Lego and Mini-Figures that are compatible with Lego. After all I've been showcasing my Character Building Doctor Who figures for quite some time. I've even been buying up single packs of the recent Mega Bloks Power Ranger Samurai figures because I found them to be enjoyable and cheap. And I mean cheap, the last two I bought cost me a TOTAL of $0.62 before tax thanks to Target's after Easter Sale.

AFOL (Adult Fans of Lego) have been customizing Lego Mini-Figures for quite some time now, and I think it's safe to say that you can practically find any figure in any decoration if you look hard enough for them. I've already seen fantastic figures from GI Joe, Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica on the internet. One area that doesn't get a ton of Mini-Figure love though is sports, and it seems like it's a no-brainer. Sure Lego did their own NBA Basketball line a few years back, and while that was actually more of a fun game than collectible, beyond soccer and a few NHL figures they haven't returned to Sports. Now they have just announced Official Olympic Figures in blind packs to be sold exclusively in the UK during the Summer, but they haven't gotten around to Baseball.

And now they probably won't.

Because Major League Baseball and the Players Union have teamed up with OYO SportsToys for a FULL LINE of Baseball Mini-Figures. And when I say full line, I mean it, every team has practically a full starting lineup of figures available and a generic player who isn't really anyone specific. Each player is unique too, their facial features are as close as they can possibly get at this scale, and their uniform numbers and names are tampoed on the back.

Each figure comes shrink-wrapped in their own collector's case which is a green colored sturdy plastic case surrounded by a full-color cardboard sleeve. The graphics are as professional as you'd expect with a major license. The back shows CG pictures of the player in action and has the expected legalese. The case splits into two pieces, with the bottom having a single stud which I guess is there to attach the base plate to, that's what I did. It's kind of a shame that the case doesn't have a lid because without the paper sleeve the case is left open. They mention on their site that they designed the package to resemble a baseball card and to be able to place in a kid's pocket. That would be great, but if the kid loses the paper-sleeve then their figures will stay in the case, but the extra items won't.

Each player comes with a ball, glove, bat, hat and a base-shaped stand which is individually numbered with their unique "DNA" code. At this point there's nothing to do with the DNA code, but I would expect that at some point you'll be able to input them into OYO's website for some added bonus content.

The basic shape of the figure is very close to their Lego forefathers, but OYO's limbs are drastically upgraded. Each player has bending knees and swivel biceps, so where Lego mini-figures have only seven points of articulation, these guys boast an amazing 11 POA. They also have angled wrists so that they can actually hold their bats in two hands! This extra articulation allows for some great poses that other Mini-Figures just can't achieve. The only thing that would make these better would be a swivel waist, however I do understand why they don't have it, a swivel waist would reduce the number of support studs from two to one and with the added articulation of the legs I can imagine the engineering wouldn't hold up. MOST Mini-figures avoid swivel waists as it is.

OYO makes a point of saying the hat is an accessory, I don't know if I would do so. The included bat is pretty solid, if not spectacular. The ball and the glove both have very nifty slits molded in so that they fit nicely in the figure's "claws". The glove doesn't really look like a baseball glove to me, but it does the job. The ball is servicable, but I would love it if they could have molded some seams into it. The home-plate shaped base has one stud on the top and three female studs on the bottom, so it can be attached to a base plate or the bottom of the carrying case as seen in the pictures.

Personally I want to have the complete collection of Angels players, there are 11 available, and I now only need 10 more! The cost of these though is going to be somewhat prohibitive, as they retail on OYO's site for $12.99 each! When you consider that Lego is doing blind-bagged figures for $3.99 and MegaBloks are a buck cheaper, and Character Building figures cost me $4.99 imported from the UK, these guys are just too expensive. If OYO can drop the cost a few bucks with their next edition I think they'd be better served. While the case is a nice extra, I'm sure it's adding quite a bit to the overall cost, and that's money that can be better spent on more figures!

That's not to say you can't find a bargain, my Friendly Local Baseball Card Store "California Sports Cards" just brought in a case at $10 each! When I saw them there this morning my eyes lit up as I've been looking for them at retail for over a week. I thought I was going to have to hit up Dick's Sporting Goods as the OYO site says they're selling them there.

OYO really seems to have their marketing department running in overdrive too, they're out and about at several ball-parks around the country, including Fenway where the creator of the company got his idea to make fully licensed Baseball mini-figs. They're active on Twitter and have their own blog. I half expect these guys to show up as special Stadium Give-Away figures too. In fact I kind of hope they do, that's a great way to get a huge number of these little dudes into collector's and kids hands.

Oh yeah, and on their website they're advertising Hockey and Football figures coming soon. If I could build an entire LA Kings starting lineup I'd be as happy as a little girl.

DISCLAIMER: The product featured in this article was purchased by the author. That doesn't mean though that I wouldn't accept SWAG and review it fairly, I totally will. Send me an email at WMNOE@YAHOO.COM for details.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

I HATE April Fools, Except...

Let it be widely known here and now that I, William Matthew Noetling, HATE April Fool's Day. My hatred comes from working over at for several years and inevitably on 4-1 there would be some pre-teens or tweens who think that they're god's gift to the world making some really stupid joke.


OK I hate April Fool's Day. With the exception of what ThinkGeek.Com does with it. Check this stuff out, all new items available today!

I can't help it, but I really want the inflatable Star Trek Captain's Chair. You never know with them either, in the past one or two of the joke items have actually become real items! Things like the Star Wars Tauntaun Sleeping bag come to mind.

IN any case, have a little fun today, but don't go overboard. Pranks are only fun if you're the one pranking.

EDIT: Oh cool, the Star Trek Chair IS REAL!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

March is the Cruelest Month

March Madness is in full swing, the Final Four is this weekend, and I could care less. Heck I'm more interested to see if Tiger can win the Masters this weekend. I'm also focusing all my fan vibes on rooting the Kings to a playoff spot. Why don't I care about March Madness? Well, duh, I'm an Alum of UCLA.

The newly minted Pacific 12 division was a huge disappointment this season, garnering only TWO bids to the big dance, and one of them was in one of the four play-in games. And Cal lost that game. Colorado, the winner of the inaugural Pac-12 tournament didn't fare all that well either. Ah well, Baseball starts this week!

Topps Golden Giveaway

Speaking of Baseball, remember I said I would give my take on the Topps Golden Giveaway online gimmick? Here goes:

BLEGH! Digital coins are not vintage cards. The real cards supposedly fall about one in 15 codes, I've put in something like 8 codes so far and I haven't seen one. Whereas last year's edition of the vintage card giveaway was actually pretty cool, and the year before that earned me $100 in eBay money (thanks to pulling a Derek Jeter auto), this year's edition doesn't excite me whatsoever. We'll have to see as the three series of Topps flagship brand are released as to how well the program goes. I would imagine this will be the last year for any online type offering from Topps, as they haven't renewed their ToppsTown promotion this season.

Which reminds me, that's kind of sad. I actually liked the ToppsTown promotion, where you could enter a code found in each pack of cards into the web and were rewarded with a pack of virtual cards. I actually completed the Baseball set for each year of the promotion, and I had a great time trading virtual cards in order to complete the set. I won't get a chance to do that again this season. Oh well.

I think eTopps is practically dead as well.

I think the thing that bothers me is that there should be some sort of digital content tied into a baseball card pack. Upper Deck had a pretty good program where you could enter codes from the back of each card and earn points that you could save up to get free cards. Believe me, I know, I earned two retail boxes of cards that way. Upper Deck was kind of stupid about it though, each card may have had a code, but the code was the same for each copy of the card. They would have been better off just putting the codes on their wrappers, which is what they tried for their horribly executed virtual world a couple of years ago.

See I think redemption programs or rewards programs are a pretty nifty thing. They certainly make me purchase more of a specific item if I know I'm getting rewards points. For example, I've been doing the MyCokeRewards program now since it's inception, and I daresay that I've gotten several hundred dollars worth of merchandise for free simply for inputing some codes. I also redeem Disney Movie Rewards, and have gotten a couple of hundred dollars of exclusive merch from them too, including a really bad-ass Pirates of the Caribbean Watch, and a Jim Shore Tinkerbell figurine.

I think a really well run wrapper code redemption program from Topps would be awesome. Each code could be worth a random amount from 10 to 100 points, and you could redeem points for special singles or packs of exclusive cards. Instead of doing the silly eTopps auctions or contests, they could easily have the same back end computer frameworks reworked.

Doctor Who News

Matt Smiths' third season, the seventh overall of the newly revived Doctor Who begins airing in August. I won't unleash the spoilers here, suffice to say it looks to be an exciting year of episodes!

I FINALLY pulled the trigger on the Character Building 11 Doctors Set.

Should be here in a few days. I'll definitely give it a review when it arrives. Got a great deal too, $33 all together including shipping off of eBay. So that's about $3 per figure, which is actually CHEAPER than I can get the single packs from Series 1 or 2 right now.

Speaking of which, since I last blogged my collection of CB Doctor Who figures has increased to a staggering SIXTEEN figures, including both of the "Rares" from Series 2 (River and Police Girl Amy). I found single packs retailing for $4.99 at Aahs which is a chain of Southern California gift stores. Sure when I include tax I'm looking at $5.50 for a figure that shouldn't cost me more than $3.00, but at least I can get them, and I can "feel" through the packs to find the ones I want.

Series 3 of blind packs and sets are scheduled for release within the next couple of months in the UK and previews have shown that Character Options, the overall master licensor of all things Who has a robust future planned for the ersatz Lego figures. You can check out more at Doctor Who Toys. I'm there on the forums as "Time Lord Will", just FYI.

Once I get my 11 Doctors Set I will work on an all new comic. I think. I'm not really sure to be honest. Sounds like a good idea, but you never know what with the time and everything.

Bargains Galore

If you've been to your local toy store lately you'll notice that there are probably figures left over from last year's hot Summer films, notably Thor, Captain America and Green Lantern. Mattel took a huge bath on the latter film, due to what I believe was a too expansive line with really crappy articulation. Seriously. While the character selection was nice and varied, the figures just sat on the shelf, probably also due to the fact that the Ryan Reynolds feature wasn't very well received. If you're still so inclined though, you can find rock bottom prices on tiny plastic Scarlett Johannsen exes at your local discounter in various shapes, sizes and multi-packs. Seriously Mattel, WTF? We lost the gradually improving DC Infinite whatever 1/18th scale line for this?

And just an aside, WHY can't I get a decent 1/18th scale DC Universe figure line like the Marvel Universe Line? I mean that line is amazing, even though I don't really collect Marvel anymore. Well, with the exception of the below paragraph that is...

The two Marvel films were significant improvements over Iron Man 2 and set the stage for this year's Avengers line. While I haven't personally seen any Cap film figures on clearance, I have found a few of the Asgardian's mates for more than half off. My personal collection now includes a Loki and Volstagg, both of which flank my Thor. While I would have preferred a nice display stand rather than the incredibly dopey kiddie weapons, these aren't bad figures at all. I am going to purchase the best looking Cap figure I can find, but so far I haven't seen one I like, not even in the Avengers line. Which, well, let's face it, two waves in blows huge chunks.

I mean seriously, the Hulk figure from the new Avengers line up is an abomination of plastic that should have never hit the pegs. It looks like a bad bootleg that I would buy down in Santee Alley.

G.I. Joe Retaliation

We're just a couple of months away from the second big screen adventure for the original action figure toy. While it's being billed as a "reboot/sequel" I think the film is going to succeed or fail based on an unfair comparison to Rise of Cobra which I didn't think was all that bad. I don't really understand what people are looking for when they go to a movie that's based on a toy line in the first place. When you go see Battleship this Summer are you expecting to see Shakespeare in CGI?

I am looking forward to the toy line that will accompany Retaliation though the five previews of carded figures so far do not excite me at all. As with the last movie line Hasbro has decided to put in a huge kiddie weapon, which most likely fires a huge missile, instead of the arsenal of accessories included with the wildly popular "Pursuit of Cobra" line that spun out of the last movie line. The one plus that I can see so far is that they are making a Joe Colton figure, only his second appearance in the entire line, and the first, to my knowledge, 1/18th scale figure of the one and only Bruce Willis.

So there you go, now excuse me, but I've got a Hockey game to watch. Go Kings Go.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Final Score: 11 for 24.

Time I've now effectively lost never to get back: 3 hours 10 minutes.

At least I closed out the big four with a perfect record. Not that they were all that difficult to pick.

That's not so bad. Other than the opening sequence and the Cirque Du Soleil thing, it was a relatively TAME telecast. Chris Rock wasn't even that controversial, well, he wasn't. His hair on the other what happened?

Kind of saw the shadow of J-lo's nipple. I missed it, had to catch it on TMZ.

The film Colin Firth and Michelle Williams appeared in together when she was "12" - A Thousand Acres. Haven't seen it.

If I had remember that Christopher Plummer wasn't even nominated for A Sound of Music I would have chosen him instead of Max Von Sydow. Oh well.

First time in ages that we've actually seen the Best Picture of the year.


* My take on Topps Baseball's Golden Giveaway (Quick Preview: Meh!)
* A new Doctor Who Review
* Maybe a new Doctor Who Photo Comic
* Maybe a preview of the 2012 Angels?
and the obligatory Much, Much More!

Oscars 2012 results so far

Yeah, I'm not doing so hot. 7 out of 20 so far, with the big four to go.

WINNER: Christopher Plummer in "Beginners"
I chose Max von Sydow in "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"

I chose Benice Bejo in "The Artist"
WINNER: Octavia Spencer in "The Help"

I chose WINNER: "Rango" Gore Verbinski

I chose WINNER: "Hugo" Production Design: Dante Ferretti; Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo

I chose "The Artist" Guillaume Schiffman
WINNER: "Hugo" Robert Richardson

I chose WINNER: "The Artist" Mark Bridges

I chose "Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory" Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky
WINNER: "Undefeated" TJ Martin, Dan Lindsay and Richard Middlemas

Documentary (Short Subject)
I chose: "The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement"
WINNER: "Saving Face" Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy

I chose "The Artist" Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius
WINNER: "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall

I chose WINNER: "A Separation" Iran

I chose WINNER: "The Iron Lady" Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland

I chose WINNER: "The Artist" Ludovic Bource

WINNER: "Man or Muppet" from "The Muppets" Music and Lyric by Bret McKenzie
I chose "Real in Rio"from "Rio" Music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown Lyric by Siedah Garrett

WINNER: "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore" William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg
I chose "La Luna" Enrico Casarosa

I chose WINNER: "The Shore" Terry George and Oorlagh George

WINNER: "Hugo" Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty
I chose "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl

I chose "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Bo Persson
WINNER: "Hugo" Tom Fleischman and John Midgley

WINNER: "Hugo" Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman and Alex Henning
I chose "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White and Daniel Barrett

WINNER: "The Descendants" Screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
I chose "Moneyball" Screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin. Story by Stan Chervin

I chose "The Artist" Written by Michel Hazanavicius
WINNER: "Midnight in Paris" Written by Woody Allen

1 for 2 so far.

Hugo has won both Cinematography and Art Direction. I picked the latter, missed the former. For those scoring at home batting .500.

Last Minute Oscar Picks

84th Annual Academy Awards
My last minute picks are Double Starred. It's starting RIGHT NOW.

Actor in a Leading Role
Demián Bichir in "A Better Life"
George Clooney in "The Descendants"
**Jean Dujardin in "The Artist"
Gary Oldman in "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"
Brad Pitt in "Moneyball"

Actor in a Supporting Role
Kenneth Branagh in "My Week with Marilyn"
Jonah Hill in "Moneyball"
Nick Nolte in "Warrior"
Christopher Plummer in "Beginners"
**Max von Sydow in "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"

Actress in a Leading Role
Glenn Close in "Albert Nobbs"
**Viola Davis in "The Help"
Rooney Mara in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"
Meryl Streep in "The Iron Lady"
Michelle Williams in "My Week with Marilyn"

Actress in a Supporting Role
**Bérénice Bejo in "The Artist"
Jessica Chastain in "The Help"
Melissa McCarthy in "Bridesmaids"
Janet McTeer in "Albert Nobbs"
Octavia Spencer in "The Help"

**"The Artist" Michel Hazanavicius
"The Descendants" Alexander Payne
"Hugo" Martin Scorsese
"Midnight in Paris" Woody Allen
"The Tree of Life" Terrence Malick

Best Picture
**"The Artist" Thomas Langmann, Producer
"The Descendants" Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, Producers
"Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" Scott Rudin, Producer
"The Help" Brunson Green, Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan, Producers
"Hugo" Graham King and Martin Scorsese, Producers
"Midnight in Paris" Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum, Producers
"Moneyball" Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt, Producers
"The Tree of Life" Nominees to be determined
"War Horse" Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers

Animated Feature Film
"A Cat in Paris" Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli
"Chico & Rita" Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal
"Kung Fu Panda 2" Jennifer Yuh Nelson
"Puss in Boots" Chris Miller
**"Rango" Gore Verbinski

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
"The Descendants" Screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
"Hugo" Screenplay by John Logan
"The Ides of March" Screenplay by George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon
**"Moneyball" Screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin Story by Stan Chervin
"Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" Screenplay by Bridget O'Connor & Peter Straughan

Writing (Original Screenplay)
**"The Artist" Written by Michel Hazanavicius
"Bridesmaids" Written by Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig
"Margin Call" Written by J.C. Chandor
"Midnight in Paris" Written by Woody Allen
"A Separation" Written by Asghar Farhadi

Art Direction
"The Artist"
Production Design: Laurence Bennett; Set Decoration: Robert Gould
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2"
Production Design: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan
Production Design: Dante Ferretti; Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo
"Midnight in Paris"
Production Design: Anne Seibel; Set Decoration: Hélène Dubreuil
"War Horse"
Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Lee Sandales

**"The Artist" Guillaume Schiffman
"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" Jeff Cronenweth
"Hugo" Robert Richardson
"The Tree of Life" Emmanuel Lubezki
"War Horse" Janusz Kaminski

Costume Design
"Anonymous" Lisy Christl
**"The Artist" Mark Bridges
"Hugo" Sandy Powell
"Jane Eyre" Michael O'Connor
"W.E." Arianne Phillips

Documentary (Feature)
"Hell and Back Again"
Danfung Dennis and Mike Lerner
"If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front"
Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman
**"Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory"
Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
Wim Wenders and Gian-Piero Ringel
TJ Martin, Dan Lindsay and Richard Middlemas

Documentary (Short Subject)
**"The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement"
Robin Fryday and Gail Dolgin
"God Is the Bigger Elvis"
Rebecca Cammisa and Julie Anderson
"Incident in New Baghdad"
James Spione
"Saving Face"
Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
"The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom"
Lucy Walker and Kira Carstensen

Film Editing
**"The Artist" Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius
"The Descendants" Kevin Tent
"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
"Hugo" Thelma Schoonmaker
"Moneyball" Christopher Tellefsen

Foreign Language Film
"Bullhead" Belgium
"Footnote" Israel
"In Darkness" Poland
"Monsieur Lazhar" Canada
**"A Separation" Iran

"Albert Nobbs"
Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston and Matthew W. Mungle
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2"
Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng
**"The Iron Lady"
Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland

Music (Original Score)
"The Adventures of Tintin" John Williams
**"The Artist" Ludovic Bource
"Hugo" Howard Shore
"Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" Alberto Iglesias
"War Horse" John Williams

Music (Original Song)
"Man or Muppet" from "The Muppets" Music and Lyric by Bret McKenzie
**"Real in Rio" from "Rio" Music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown Lyric by Siedah Garrett

Short Film (Animated)
"Dimanche/Sunday" Patrick Doyon
"The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore" William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg
**"La Luna" Enrico Casarosa
"A Morning Stroll" Grant Orchard and Sue Goffe
"Wild Life" Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby

Short Film (Live Action)
"Pentecost" Peter McDonald and Eimear O'Kane
"Raju" Max Zähle and Stefan Gieren
**"The Shore" Terry George and Oorlagh George
"Time Freak" Andrew Bowler and Gigi Causey
"Tuba Atlantic" Hallvar Witzø

Sound Editing
"Drive" Lon Bender and Victor Ray Ennis
"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" Ren Klyce
"Hugo" Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty
**"Transformers: Dark of the Moon" Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl
"War Horse" Richard Hymns and Gary Rydstrom

Sound Mixing
**"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"
David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Bo Persson
Tom Fleischman and John Midgley
Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, Dave Giammarco and Ed Novick
"Transformers: Dark of the Moon"
Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Peter J. Devlin
"War Horse"
Gary Rydstrom, Andy Nelson, Tom Johnson and Stuart Wilson

Visual Effects
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2"
Tim Burke, David Vickery, Greg Butler and John Richardson
Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman and Alex Henning
"Real Steel"
Erik Nash, John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor and Swen Gillberg
**"Rise of the Planet of the Apes"
Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White and Daniel Barrett
"Transformers: Dark of the Moon"
Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Matthew Butler and John Frazier

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Superbowl Live Blogging Cancelled

I have company over, it would be RUDE to live blog during the game.

So it's cancelled. I know you're all disappointed.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Superbowl XLVI Live Blogging

For the third or fourth straight year I will be live-blogging my view of the Superbowl from my wonderful PAID-OFF Tempur-Pedic bed in front of my 46" Plasma, watching in HD this year.

Grub will be a CPK Frozen Pizza, Frozen TGI Fridays Mozzarella Sticks, Chips and fresh Guac. You're welcome to come over but it ain't gonna be no party.

I'm picking the Giants to win, it's the glamour pick - which means if I follow my own past will be the wrong pick.

So tune in tomorrow.

Doctor Who Review - Story #117 - 5B "Four to Doomsday"

I will admit it, I have the Doctor Who bug again. Doesn't everyone get a bug up their butt about something every now and then? Plus it feels good to write something. Anything.

I recently decided to vary my Classic Doctor Who viewing, mostly because since there's so many stories out there (over 200 so far) and the show has been on for so long, if you decide to view in a certain order the entire thing can get overwhelming. What I've been doing is taking a sampling of all the different Doctors. As you know I already reviewed a whole season's worth of the Fourth Doctor stories, so when I came back to Classic Who I thought I might try someone different and looked at the First Doctor's first serial. The problem with the First Doctor is that not all the episodes are available easily and some are frankly missing (there are missing episodes in each Doctor's run until the Fourth Doctor). So I moved on to the Fifth Doctor.

After enjoying his first serial Castrovalva I wanted to delve right back into another story, one that was a bit more, well, standard fare. The introductory episodes of a new Doctor always feel a bit off, in that since the personality isn't really established anything goes. The interesting thing with the current incarnation of the Doctor, Matt Smith, is that anything goes for the entire run with him.

"Four to Doomsday" starts off with the TARDIS materializing inside of a giant spaceship, complete with the Star Wars-esque long opening shot of the giant cruiser. The Doctor puts on a silly helmet which is supposed to let him breathe and steps out into a room filled with all sorts of scientific devices. He discovers that he's being watched, and our villains are introduced. Appearance wise they are similar to the Vogons of Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, who as we all know or should know was a former script editor for Doctor Who. Oh and when I say Vogons, I mean the ones from the ORIGINAL BBC television version, not the ones from the Hollywood Movie (which I rather like, but I digress). They hail from the planet Urbanka, are aptly named Monarch, Enlightenment, and Persuasion. Shortly after introducing themselves our heroes are given a warm welcome and asked to assist Monarch in his plan to relocate the entire Urbankan population to Earth.

Vogon Prostethic ...err...oops, Monarch

The Doctor then discovers that Monarch has been preparing Earth by snatching up whole tribes or small cities over their previous visits. He enlists an Ancient Greek named Bigon to help them thwart the green pile of goo's plans. There's some further interesting bits involving robots, dragon dances, gladiator combat and aboriginal dancing. It's all rather muddled to be honest, and following the actual plot was more than a hassle. In the end our hero is still The Doctor, the villains are still stupid and good wins the day.

Burt Kwouk and Illarrio Bisi Pedro

Random Thoughts

* I can really see why the character of Adric (Matthew Waterhouse) was so reviled by fans back in the day, because he's rather obnoxious throughout the proceedings.
* Tegan and Nyssa don't get a lot to do either, and are used as hostages for the most-part.
* Former Pink Panther series regular Burt Kwouk has a part as the leader of the Chinese faction of Monarch's slaves.
* Nyssa collapses at the end of the episode for no apparent reason and is simply tired.
* The scenes of the four earth-cultures doing their "entertainment" are rather odd and misplaced. However, they are also the most interesting parts of the episodes.
* There is a really hilarious set of scenes where the Doctor exits an airlock and space walks to The TARDIS. You really have to see it.

The there's the space helmets. This episode is full of them. No one really knows why.

I can't say that this was my favorite serial, nor can I really recommend watching it other than for completist sake. Nothing really exciting happens, though we do get another look at The Fifth Doctor's new personality, and I suppose that's something. Too bad it's not really enough.


There doesn't appear to be anything collectible that would tie into this episode directly, other than the requisite novel adaptations and video releases. All of which are readily available. If you have to have them.

Previous Entries in the "Doctor Who Review" Series:

1st Doctor #1 - An Unearthly Child
4th Doctor #1 - Robot
4th Doctor #2 - Ark in Space
4th Doctor #3 - The Sontaran Experiment
5th Doctor #1 - Castrovalva

Special - 4th Doctor Collectibles
Special - Character Building Tardis Mini Set

Friday, February 3, 2012

Doctor Who Toys - The Pandorica is Open!

Was it a mere two weeks ago that I posted about finding Doctor Who Toys cheap? This afternoon I decided on a whim to go to Yoga class by myself and on the way back, feeling VERY refreshed and relaxed I stopped into the same Comic Book Store DreamWorld Comics, where lo and behold the Pandorica Chair and River Song were now nestled in the $2 toy box. There were, in fact, two complete sets. So not to ruin it for someone else I left the second set in the box, along with several of the side-pieces.

As soon as I got home I put it together and I really like it. The chair is well designed and does hold the Doctor in quite snugly. I haven't tried the Amy figure yet, especially since I don't have QUITE the right one.

To make a really keen display you really only need a couple of the side-pieces, earlier in the day I tried it with the top on, and it looks good, but it's hard to see really. I'll relight it though and see what I can do.

The River Song figure that comes with it is OK, I'm happy to have her, but I'm really thrown off by her hair and her head. All in all though I'm really happy. Remember I got these pieces at outrageously low prices.

The Gang's All Here! I consider the Roman Auton to be Rory. So there.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Topps 2012 Baseball Series 1 is Live

It's not even February and the brand spanking new Topps Baseball Card Set is out. What's even better is that I actually got to purchase a few packs on "opening day!" I can't even remember the last time that happened. Gone are the days when I could afford and justify buying a full box, and at $2.50 a pack I'm pretty much limited to a sub-$20 purchase. I called ahead to my friendly LCS California Sports Cards and made sure they had them in stock, which they did! I was the lucky first person to actually buy any packs, so I got first pick. Unfortunately, I chose poorly. Nothing spectacular in my first seven packs. Not even a stinking Angel.

Oh well.

First Impressions

I honestly think that Topps is going to have a very difficult time recapturing the magic of the last couple of years worth of standard sets. There was just something crisp and clean about the last two years worth of base card designs, and while this year's version is incredibly similar to the others, it feels more retread than retro. That isn't to say they're bad looking cards, they're not. They're just not that special anymore. On the front.

On the back they threw collectors a bone, look at that HUGE number on the top right side in white on black lettering. For someone who's eyesight is slowly but surely getting worse, this is a huge boon. Sorting these bad boys won't be such a chore after all.

It wouldn't be a modern day Baseball Card Set without parallels, and while I only pulled the single Gold card above, I think it's safe to say that parallels don't sell the set. I also liked last years version MUCH better. The platinum parallels and their cognac and blue flavored cousins were a sweet and shiny bit of goodness that could save even a bad pack. This year's gold versions get a big MEH from me. But gold being the theme this year I had better get used to it right? Because Topps is certainly shoving the "gold" down our throats. Just look at the more "common" inserts below:

The only one without a "gold" theme is the "Walk Offs" which really isn't that special of a moment to celebrate. Though the one I pulled was actually a nice moment, Posednik's 2005 WS Game 2 homer, his first in over 500 ABs. One time "minor" feats don't really capture my attention as much, but I guess it does leave room for Jersey Cards, and that's what they're really pitching here. Once again most of the insert sets look like they're designed for autographs or jersey swatches instead of being a complete set unto themselves, and that's just cheap if you ask me. Topps could put a little more effort into inserts, and when they do, they are pretty nice.

For example: Golden Greats, of which I pulled two Jackie Robinsons with consecutive numbers. I do believe there are also versions of these cards with real coins in them as well. I do know there are autographed versions of some of them.

I would be remiss if I didn't at least mention the mini-insert this year, which is an homage to the 1987 woodies. I don't have anything good to say about that set, other than ever single one I pull will end up on eBay or trade fodder. I don't like Minis. There I said it. I know there must be something wrong with me. The thing is I have something like 60 of the Kimball Champions inserts from last season still and I hate them. I don't need more Minis. I really don't need minis that are reminiscent of a set that I can still buy for pennies a pack. Save the Minis for Allen & Ginter or Gypsy Magic or whatever non-base level set that they would be a better fit with. Geeze, I remember 1987, it wasn't that great a year.

Also I didn't pull any of the "Golden Giveaway" redemption cards, which doesn't bother me that much, apparently this year you can't get a vintage single for each code, so that really doesn't thrill me. I still have to send away for my 2011 Diamond Giveaway Cards (mostly Angels that I traded for), which I should get free shipping on since I won a free "vintage" pack and a Diamond Die-Cut (I forget who I originally pulled, but I traded him for Dan Haren and subsequently traded HIM for Howie Kendrick!).

In 2012 we also get the return of "Topps Prime 9" which is a Hobby Only insert that you bring
back to your store to redeem. I managed to acquire a complete set of last years' inserts after I pulled more than half of the redemption cards. I had a devil of a time finding a shop though, but then the aforementioned California Sports Cards got them in and finished me off, which was awesome, thanks Matt! I beat the odds out of my 7 packs to get Card #1, whomever that might end up being. I'm hoping for Pujols.


Which brings us to the gimmickery portion of the day. Before the cards even hit shelves three gimmick short-prints were announced: Jose Reyes and Albert Pujols in their new team uniforms and a Skip Schumaker card featuring a squirrel. Now I know that other bloggers will rain on Topps parade just like they have in years past (pie-face cards, airbrushed in Presidents and former players, etc) but I kind of like the gimmicks. Notice I said KIND OF. I think the Squirrel card is ridiculous. I think it's really sad that one has already sold for more than $600 on the bay of E. Undoubtedly there will be more gimmicks that show up, or Legends Variations or some such. Me, I just want a Pujols card in his new Angels uniform, and I don't want to have to wait until Series 2 to get it. Ah well. I can dream right?

Final Reflections

2012 Topps is another solid effort, but other than the new Pujols card doesn't offer anything that wasn't around last season or the year before. The coin cards are nice and there's a ton of pretty gold foil on the cards, but frankly isn't it time we stopped using 90's era gimmicks to sell cards? Who am I kidding, they're still using 50's era gimmicks to sell cards. And sell they will. Can't wait to hit up Target so I can get some cheap packs.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Upcoming Doctor Who Reviews

As you know I've been skipping around the various Doctor's incarnations lately, reviewing one of the 5th Doctor tales and promising more. Well, that I can deliver. Here's what's coming up on Doctor Who Review:

2nd Doctor Final Story - The War Games
3rd Doctor Story #1 - Spearhead from Space
5th Doctor Story #2 - Four to Doomsday
5th Doctor Story #3 - Kinda

I also added a poll to the right, you tell me which Doctor's stories you want me to review. I can certainly do all of the 8th Doctor to the Present, as I've actually seen all of those already, so those would be rather easy to do. But I'm not all about easy anyway.

Previous Entries in the "Doctor Who Review" Series:

1st Doctor #1 - An Unearthly Child
4th Doctor #1 - Robot
4th Doctor #2 - Ark in Space
4th Doctor #3 - The Sontaran Experiment
5th Doctor #1 - Castrovalva

Special - 4th Doctor Collectibles
Special - Character Building Tardis Mini Set

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Doctor Who Toys Galore!

You never know when you're going to find something really cool. Today on the way back from my daughter's Yoga class I decided to stop at Dreamworld Comics where I was immediately drawn to a huge bucket of loose toys. I started digging and soon noticed a mint complete Roman Auton and I got all giddy. Perhaps could there be other Who toys in the bucket? Sure enough I snagged a Fez Wearing 11 and Amy Pond in Kiss Girl outfit. So I took my score up to the front and the gent told me they were only $2 apiece! Naturally I went back and looked for more. Found several more Autons, but nothing of excitement, until I figure out what the flat gray squares were...there seemed to be quite a few of them. Yes, that's right, the Pandorica from "The Pandorica Wave" of figures. Only they weren't the original release, they were the second one without the actual audio CDs (which I think are better anyway). The only problem is that the Doctor is missing his mop. Big whoop. I would like to get a scale sonic screwdriver though.

Of course it would have been great if I had actually purchased the River Song w/Pandorica Chair for $25 as well. I may have to go back and get that, since it's a great price for a crucial piece which I can really use now.

My previously purchased Gold Dalek, 11 With Fez, Amy in Kiss Girl Outfit & Roman Auton plus the Pandorica

However, that's not to say the day was that bad. When I got home waiting for me was my Birthday order from Whonorthamerica - SIX of the Series 1 Blind Character Building blind bagged figures and a set of 1986 FASA Miniatures from the old role-playing game. This is my second order from the fine folks in Indiana, and I'm more than pleased with their service. Ordered on Monday night, it was shipped Tuesday morning and I received it this afternoon (Thursday). Priority Mail was only $5.60.

I greedily tore into the packs carefully cutting each of them open so that in case I got a double I could resell it easily. First pack was the Rare Blue Shirted Doctor which is 1 per 36 figure case, which is a great start for me. The next one was a Weeping Angel, the standard screaming version, (packed 4 in 36). So was the next pack, and the next pack AND the next pack after that. Yup, I got all four of that cases' Weeping Angels. Oh well, at least it's an army builder. My final pack held a Red Dalek (5/36). Complete with shipping the entire order cost me just over $25. I figure that I'll sell at least two of the four Angels, and possibly a third if I get any movement. There's NO single listings for them on eBay right now. If I get $4 - $6 each for them I'll be happy. Oh and if you would like to trade for something, please let me know.

Which brings me to a complaint: these figures are TINY. The packaging is small as well, and yet there are eBay sellers trying to get $6 for shipping these things. One in a bubble envelope shouldn't cost more than a dollar to ship.

My new additions to my mini-figure collection.

My entire "Character Building" collection - 9 Doctor Who Figures, 8 Generic CB Figures (plus one weird MegaBlock guy in the back.

Oh the dio stories I could do now.

Doctor Who Review Will Return

I have viewed the second and third 5th Doctor stories ("Four to Doomsday" and "Kinda") and am about half way through the first episode of the final 2nd Doctor story ("The War Games"). I'm going to put up a poll on the side - you tell me which doctor's stories you want me to review, and I'll do it!

You realize this is my THIRD post this week. Not too bad. See I told you I'd write more.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Doctor Who Review - Story #116 - 5A "Castrovalva"

I'll admit it, I can't keep a schedule at all. Not only that, but I'm jumping around all over the place with this series, much like the show and the Doctor himself. So I think it's entirely appropriate that because I'm not watching these shows in any sort of order, that I review them in no particular order either. Being that there won't be any NEW episodes of Doctor Who for a few more months, I'll continue to explore all of his previous incarnations, at least until I'm familiar with all of his different regenerations. To that end, a couple of months ago I looked into the 5th Doctor played by Peter Davison.

I actually remember the kerfuffle that happened when Tom Baker decided to leave the series, and was replaced by the MUCH younger (by almost two decades) Davison who had made a name for himself starring in the BBC adaptation of "All Creatures Great and Small." At just under 30 years old he would be the youngest actor taking the role until our most recent Doctor Matt Smith. The blatant appeal to younger viewers worked, especially in relation to his companions who would be much more involved in the serials than the previous incarnations allowed.

"Castrovalva" starts with the end of "Logopolis" with the 4th Doctor falling from a radio tower and regenerating into his new identity, assisted by a third party named "The Watcher" who somehow realized that the 4th's time was up. This "Watcher" turned out to be "a manifestation" of the Doctor himself and merged with him upon regeneration. Very wibbly wobbly if you ask me. In any case, the regeneration doesn't go well, and the Doctor is in danger of dying, so his latest companions, Adric, Tegan and Nyssa get him to the TARDIS, where they stick him in the "Zero Room" in order to ensure his health. Meantime they try to figure out how to pilot the TARDIS. Adric, a genius level teenager from "E-Space" is obnoxious and annoying, but helpful in that his mathematical mind is able to get the TARDIS to dematerialize and onto a flight path. Tegan is a flight attendant that showed up in the previous episode simply wandering into the TARDIS thinking it was a real police box, and as such is the frightened "newbie" and not really very useful at all. At least she's pretty. Nyssa is some sort of galactic genius princess and together they all manage to help the Doctor out of his funk.

TARDIS Crew - Circa Castrovalva. From Left - Adric, Tegan, The Doctor and Nyssa

After the hallmarks of a regeneration are played out (i.e. the changing of the clothes, which includes several scenes where Tom Baker's signature scarf is unravelled) our heroes discover that Adric is being controlled by the Doctor's greatest nemesis, the rogue Time Lord The Master, and that he wants to destroy the Doctor once and for all. Adric steers the ship to Castrovalva, a peaceful austere planet where the Doctor can rest and relax and let the regeneration take it's course, since he's STILL not stable even after being in the Zero Room. Along the way they get caught in a trap by The Master and are forced to "delete" several of the rooms in the TARDIS (including the Zero Room, oops) in order to escape. Once on the planet they create a "Zero Cabinet" which Nyssa and Tegan carry around the surface on the way to the actual city Castrovalva. Meanwhile Adric has disappeared, or more accurately, he was captured at the beginning of the story and his appearances in the TARDIS since were holographic projections, or some such.

The new doc checks out his new appearance

Once in the City the citizens all help out our heroes, but all is not what it seems. Eventually the Doctor recovers and realizes the entire place is a trap and doesn't really exist, that it was created by Adric through The Master to ensnare the samaritan Doctor and yes, kill him. Obviously they foil his plan and they escape trapping The Master inside the city as it collapses, never to be seen again (until his next appearance anyway, the guy dies more times than The Joker).

So to sum up, the Doctor regenerates, there are problems, he tries to take a vacation, gets caught in a trap and cleverly escapes and all is well. Pretty standard stuff actually, and while this is "classic" Who, it's not really a classic story. Sure Anthony Ainley plays the Master to perfection, and Nyssa and Tegan are absolutely gorgeous to look at, but the whiney Adric really brings the whole narrative down. The guest starring Castrovalvans are quite well done though, BBC Shakespearean actors usually bring an air of classiness to the proceedings, even if the effects are definitely low budget. There's a charm to the classic stories though that shines through all of the general silliness and padding that the old multi-part serials had built in. We get to see more of the TARDIS interior in this episode than I've ever seen before, including new rooms and corridors.

Collectibles from the 80's era Doctor Who are abundant, and new figures are being made by Character Options still. In the 5" Action Figure line we have seen the release of the Doctor just after he regenerates (i.e. in Tom Baker's clothes), and of course there are multiple iterations of the 5th Doctor in his standard Cricket outfit, with and without the celery stalk on the lapel and hat. There's even a 5" Zero Cabinet toy, but I'm not sure if this is a custom or an official CO toy. I tend to think it's a custom since there doesn't appear to be an official release. You can also download a printable version, though I can't find it at the moment. There are not figures yet of the Doctor's companions, though if you want miniatures, trading cards or autographs, they exist. Castrovalva itself is also featured on a couple of trading cards. The story was adapted into a Target Novel and is still readily available, DVDs and VHS tapes also exist and are easy to find.

The Regeneration Doctor, one of several variations

Five of the variations of Five

The Zero Cabinet Custom?

Next Time on Doctor Who: "Four to Doomsday" - Next Review - either that or "The War Games".

Previous Entries in the "Doctor Who Review" Series:

1st Doctor #1 - An Unearthly Child
4th Doctor #1 - Robot
4th Doctor #2 - Ark in Space
4th Doctor #3 - The Sontaran Experiment

Special - 4th Doctor Collectibles
Special - Character Building Tardis Mini Set

Monday, January 16, 2012

I miss Holograms

I'm feeling rather nostalgic today since it's my 41st Birthday. Something I was just pondering - why don't card companies make Hologram cards anymore? I really enjoyed those in the 90's and I haven't seen a full hologram card in forever, and they were just damn cool.

The very first Hologram that was released officially was that Lombardi Trophy card in 1990 Pro Set. While I bought (and to this day still buy every now and then) a ton of packs I never pulled the thing. To this day it's still one of the more valuable "regular" Pro Set Cards, in that it's not really an error.

That card caused a lot of grief back in 1990, initial cases of the cards could be searched by a metal detector and thus a bunch of folks managed to snag multiples and turn them for a nice profit. Pro Set responded by putting in foil decoys in packs, making them essential unsearchable. The fact that they were hand numbered to 10,000 helped fuel the frenzy. Today you can find one on the bay of e for under $50.

1990 saw a virtual flood of Holograms invade the trading card world, after the Lombardi card manufacturer Skybox started inserting them into their comic book sets, which makes sense, since the artwork on the card was often rather colorful. Unfortunately I only have this one DC Superman to show off.

Eventually Holograms would move from the realm of insert to the actual base cards with the Batman and Superman full hologram series. These were really awesome cards, as not only were they holographic, but they were taken from 3-D Models! A further technological innovation would be the awesome SKYDISCS from Skybox which when placed in full sunlight would project a 3D image not unlike how the holograms work in the Star Wars movies.

I really miss Hologram cards, when I would pull one from a pack I'd always shout "ooh Shiney" and that became a mantra with me. Foils are nice today, and autos and relics still make me excited, but not the same as holos.

Oh and did I mention they took a sharpie autograph NICELY? I used to have an autographed Marion Butts from Upper Deck Football with a beautiful blue sharpie in-person auto, but sadly I do not know where it went.