Friday, June 24, 2016

Needless Things Podcast 113 - Gate Trek 2022: Agent Alien!


LIVE in the Phantom Zone! Phantom Troublemaker is joined by Sean Reid, Mike Gordon, and Jason Frazier for a fun-filled sci-fi free-for-all!


Thursday, June 23, 2016

Random Bits and Pieces (6/23/2016)



I’ve got lots of little things on my mind this week rather than one big thing. Here they are.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Toy Review – Walmart Exclusive Star Wars The Black Series 3.75” Captain Phasma from Hasbro


I almost didn’t bother with this one because I am so over people regurgitating lamentations over Captain Phasma’s role in The Force Awakens. But I reviewed the larger Black Series Phasma, which is from a line I don’t even collect, so I thought I should cover this one.
I honestly thought that I had reviewed the 18” JAKKS Pacific figure as well, but I can’t find it. Short review – it’s an awesome big figure for the price. I’m happy to have it.

The Toys R Us Exclusive 12” figure from Hasbro is also great. That one has my favorite armor of any so far. That finish is shiny!

I did not review the standard 3.75” Hasbro figure, though I will reference it later.

I decided before the Force Awakens was released that my favorite characters were going to be Finn and Captain Phasma. I focused on figures featuring them – not that I bought a lot and not that there were that many available before the movie came out. I didn’t even find a standard release Phasma for myself until after Christmas. Actually, I take that back – it wasn’t until my son got the Amazon Exclusive First Order Troops set for Easter that I had a Phasma because he gave me his extra.

Good kid. His parents must be raising him right, even if they don’t force him to wear capes and Doctor Who costumes to Home Depot so they can post pictures of it on Instagram to impress their friends.

Man, I am fed up with the internet today, huh?

I dug Phasma’s shiny armor and I’m a huge fan of Gwendoline Christie’s performance on Game Of Thrones, so she seemed like a solid pick for neat toys. As for Finn, I just liked the look of the kid. And Jon Boyega delivered the goods.

As for Phasma, if anyone should be disappointed with how she was used, it should be the guy that went to the Disney Store every fucking day for two weeks to try and get that die cast figure they made of her (I never got one). But I’m not disappointed. It’s Star Wars. 98% of the action figures made had three seconds or less of screen time.

That is a math fact that I just made up.

Also there are at least two more movies coming and maybe she’ll be featured more prominently. Maybe not. If you’re sad because of this or anything else about Episode VII, I don’t want to hear about it. Take your space angst elsewhere, Sheila.

FIRST GLANCE

It’s funny how different these Phasma (Full Name: Elidonna Laserforce Phasma) figures can look. Some are shinier, some have more detailed cloaks, some have pointier boots, some are slender and some are a bit squat. As you guys may well know by now, I am not the guy that’s going to sit down with the Visual Reference Guide and critique every little detail. I’m just going to try to determine if the figure looks and feels right. And this one does.

PACKAGING

It’s a smaller version of the 6” Black Series window box and is way oversized. The back is impossible to photograph and I would prefer Vintage style blister cards, but Hasbro is trying to create the illusion of increased value. Also, there are eighteen languages printed on the back. Let’s move on.

LOOKS

This helmet doesn’t look quite a duck-like as the others I have. It still is duck-like and that’s appropriate because the first thing I thought was that her helmet looked like a chromed-out Mighty Ducks helmet, but this one isn’t as obvious about it. The detail is solid and the paint is good except for a stray squiggle in the corner of the left eye that I didn’t even notice until I was looking at these pictures.

The shape of this Phasma seems more accurate to me. She looks taller and slimmer than the others. I think Hasbro did a much better job with the proportions on this one. For reference, here’s how it looks compared to the standard release:


For the price (almost thirteen bucks) I was debating whether or not I even needed to get this one with the simpler one on my shelf, but I sure am glad I did. That’s a huge difference to me.


The armor is metallic fleck rather than shiny chrome and I’ll tell you right now I’d buy a vac metal version of this or any other Phasma in a second for a reasonable price. By which I mean not Hot Toys $275 figure.


There’s plenty of detail and the colors of the armor and the body glove are nice and separate. Her belt is a separately sculpted piece and has painted pouches on the side and the trademark Trooper canister on the back. I can’t quite recall what’s in there at the moment because there have been so many jokes about it. Toilet paper? Thermal detonators? Oxygen? Space coffee? Whatever the case, I’m impressed with all of the paint around this area. It looks good and makes a big difference in perceived value.


In case you hadn’t noticed, Captain Phasma has armored cowboy boots on over her greaves. They’re pretty slick. In addition to the overall dimensions, I feel like this figure captured the boots a bit better. They’re a little more slender and feminine. I’m not saying that movie Phasma looks all girly, I’m just saying that there are subtly feminine traits about her armor that some of the other figures have failed to capture. And there’s nothing wrong with a woman looking like a woman.


The arms are similarly armored, but each forearm has a different gizmo on the inside. I couldn’t get those to photograph for shit, so just take my word for it. Or zoom in on the other pictures if you really need to see a couple of unpainted instrument panels.


The cloak is pretty shiny. So far I only have one soft goods Phasma cloak (on the JAKKS Big Fig) and it’s my favorite, even though it’s kind of crappy. I get that her cloak is an over-the-shoulder thing and hangs a certain way, but I really feel like this is one of the rare instances where soft goods would have been better. This thing looks kind of like a garbage bag. A garbage bag with a red stripe on the side, but a garbage bag nonetheless. The red is a little janky, but it’s been consistently janky on all of the figures, so maybe it looks like that in the movie? Someone check and let me know.

ACCESSORIES

Captain Phasma comes with a Sonn-Blas F-11D blaster rifle. You might think it should be solver like the rest of her, but you’d be wrong. While there are some variations in the shade of sort-of-platinum that it seems to be, it definitely doesn’t match her armor in the movie. 
This one looks great. The sculpt is fantastic and the black painted detail is spot-on.
It can plug into the socket on her thigh:


And the figure cannot hold it straight for shit:


This is the one area where the simpler model wins, hands-down.

FUN

This figure has all of the range you’d expect from the pre-simplification Hasbro Star Wars figures. The joints all have a good range and you can pop the head off and remove the cloak if you so desire.

OVERALL

Aside from the ridiculous fact that this Captain Phasma can’t hold her blaster properly (which you could take as a nod to the original Kenner line if you’re an idiot), this is by far my favorite Captain Phasma as far as the appearance of accuracy goes. She’s the right height compared to other 3.75” figures and she doesn’t look all squatty.

These Walmart Exclusives have not been easy to find and I hold a lot of animosity towards Hasbro for letting the worst retailer in the history of the universe have them. Walmart’s handling of Exclusives has always been a shit show, from distribution to even just putting them out on the fucking pegs. If you even think you might want this figure or know someone that might, buy one if you see it. You will never see another one.

Or two months from now every Walmart in the country will have four rows of them marked way down to $11.98 apiece for the next six years.

4 out of 5

Or buy from Amazon and help Needless Things pay the bills!:


Monday, June 20, 2016

Movie Review – Phantom on Cell


Ten years ago Stephen King released a book called Cell.

The last thing I had read was the final Dark Tower book. I loved it. I loved the ending. As much as it wasn’t closure, it did feel like the completion of a cycle. Between the epic journey that had just been portrayed and the roughly two decades of fiction that had satisfied me so much, I felt like the guy had to run out of good ideas sometime. And perhaps after King was hit by a van in 1999 I felt like the guy just deserved a break.

I should have known better. The voice that flows through King wasn’t going to stop just because his body took a hit.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Needless Things Podcast 112 - Bobby Nash

Phantom Troublemaker talks to award-winning writer Bobby Nash!


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Quatermass and the Pit (1967)




It’s come to my attention recently that nowhere near enough of you have seen this film. I’m not sure how it’s gone so unnoticed by so many over the years, but somehow it has. This is one of the Hammer classics that played around in several genres at once, telling a story that dances into both classic science fiction and fantasy/horror quite nicely. It had a tight script, some great FX work for the era, and had an amazingly solid and engaging cast that helped propel a story “five million years in the making”.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Movie Review – Phantom on The Conjuring 2


I thoroughly enjoyed The Conjuring. It was a classic haunted house flick that was told through the eyes of the paranormal investigators rather than the victims. Not only that, extra care was taken to establish all of the characters in the movie, particularly Ed and Lorraine Warren, the investigating couple played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga. It was the character work more than anything that won me over. While the film had its share of scares and was very well done, my investment in the people on screen is what truly made The Conjuring rise above other horror fare. Director James Wan made great use of all of the tools at his disposal, but relying on Wilson and Farmiga was the smartest decision.

Horror sequels are pretty hit-or-miss, with much more of the latter. But this franchise was in a special place where it had not only returning leads but a returning director, as well. I felt like as long as there was a solid story, the Conjuring 2 had to be a win.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Toy Review – “Weird Al” Yankovic Retro Action Figure from NECA


NECA has been killing it with their selection of these Mego-style action figures. They’ve hit so many HUGE pop culture icons – Freddy, Jason, Leatherface, Snake Plissken, Ashley J. Williams, and even the Crimson Ghost. They also produced extremely limited runs of figures in this style for Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight. Now NECA is stepping into new territory with franchises like Bill & Ted and this new Weird Al figure.

Monday, June 13, 2016

1986: The Cartoons


Thirty years ago I was ten years old, which means I was still at optimal receptiveness for the things that would in 2016 evoke fond memories and feelings of nostalgia. I got the idea for this post from the first Dragon Con panel I was a part of – 1982: Best Sci-Fi Movie Year Ever? (or some such thing). We had a great discussion about the movies that came out that year. Sadly nobody recorded it, but I thoroughly enjoyed having a topic that was both broad and focused. It was only 1982 sci-fi movies, but there were plenty to discuss!

It turns out I have so much more to discuss about 1986 than could have ever been covered in a single post. Initially I wrote about the toy lines of 1986, then 1986 movies, television, and last week music. I was foolish to think that the few cartoons I mentioned in the toy post would be enough. I had planned to cover more in the TV post, but there turned out to be so many sitcoms and whatnot to cover that there wasn’t room for cartoon talk.

It also turns out that there were more than enough cartoon happenings in 1986 for a full post. HUGE happenings.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Needless Things Podcast 111 – 1986

Phantom Troublemaker, Beth, Sean Reid, and Chris DePetrillo go back in time thirty years to talk about the pop culture of 1986!