Category Archives: Reviews

Reviews of movies, toys, comics, collectibles, and anything else I can get my grubby hands on!

Zombie Apocalypse Essentials: Blackhawk S.O.L.A.G. HD with Kevlar

 

Despite what your ego tells you, you’re going to need all the protection you can get when the zombies attack. I hear you ask, “Gloves? Really?” Yep, you betcha’! Scientists predict that 73% of survivors will be infected from a bite wound. The most vulnerable, and at the same time least protected, part of our body is our hands. Think about it, we reach out with our hands to grab stuff, leave them dangling at our sides as we walk, and will be forced to use them for defense once the ammunition runs out. Keep reading to find out why every prepper should have a pair of these hardcore gloves if they want to survive the Zombie Apocalypse.

Blackhawk S.O.L.A.G. (Spec Ops Light Assault Gloves) HD with Kevlar will protect you from yourself and those who think Cheetos stained digits are the cat’s meow. Designed with SWAT missions in mind, these gloved are heavy-duty, ergonomic (comfortable), and offer leather-covered molded hardshell knuckle/finger protection. This is key, you see, because when you’re actively engaged in close quarter combat with the undead you are susceptible to being bitten. You may have the goal of piling the dead-dead bodies to properly dispose of them in a blazing inferno only to realize the body you grabbed wasn’t really dead-dead. Chomp. Now you’re infected.

Let’s imagine that scenario a little differently this time. You and your pal have the same goal, but this time you’re wearing a pair of gloves (but not these ones) and the body is motionless. You douse the tower of zombies without realizing you splashed a little on your hands. You go to light the match and suddenly…. you get where this is going. Good luck surviving when you have melted little stumps trying to squeeze off rounds as Death watches with bated breath.

If you had been wearing Blackhawks’s gloves you would’ve been fine. How? They had the foresight to make these fine gloves flash and flame resistant. Hey, when you’re on the battlefield things can get crazy. But all of this sounds good on paper, but how does it stack up when put to the test? Luckily for us, our friends at Blackhawk send us a pair to try. Here’s what I found to be true.

  • Getting bit still hurts, but my flesh was never opened up as a result.
  • The gloves add a certain “cushion” when landing a punch. It hurts about the same when on the receiving end, though.
  • The back-of-hand and wrist adjustments provided a sense of security and stability to my wrist. Even when running, you won’t feel like the gloves will fly off.
  • The nylon loop on the wrists made it incredibly easy to put on and attaching it to carabiners comes in handy when you need to keep the gloves off without losing them.

Z day is upon us. I suggest you take this opportunity to protect the two hands God gave you. You won’t regret not mixing bodily fluids with the living dead if your digits are chomped. The friends you meet along your journey will appreciate you being able to give them an extra hand, because they don’t have any after that bon fire accident. You can get yourself a pair here.

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Comic Review- “Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi: Force Storm”

Dark Horse Comics is releasing the prequel of all prequels within the Star Wars universe.  John Ostrander and Jan Duursema of Star Wars: Legacy fame return together again to tell the tale of  the Jedi’s beginnings.  In this origin story, we’re introduced to the ancient warrior monks known as the Je’Daii (go figure, huh?). We follow through their trials and sacrifices as they come to reach an understanding of a new mysterious energy. This strange force seemingly called upon them to gather on the planet Tython, in the center of the galaxy to learn how to harness its power as well as the balance between light and dark.

Or so you’re lead to believe when you read the teaser description on Dark Horse’s website. Roughly two thousand years of origin history (and potentially dozens of issues worth of story making material) are explained, in a nutshell, in about eleven pages. From there, the reader is introduced to a few characters, both hero and villain, residing in places familiar to Star Wars fans.

That’s a bit of a letdown. The first six of those eleven pages are dedicated just to the gathering of the very first Je’Daii, which consists more of visuals than reading. Then in another five pages, the reader is handed another two thousand years of civilization creating, heartache, war and loss with Je’Daii holding it all together while becoming more sophisticated in their use of the Force. You’re shown images of families, tyrants and others tied together by these fighting monks, but it’s just passed over as though, in the grand scheme of things, all that is irrelevant.

Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t. It’s the first issue, so it’s difficult to gauge from this point. It’s not just a first issue, but it’s a first issue of an origin story that starts before a ton of other stories in just about every sort of media you can think of. Honestly, with all the bases they cover in just these twenty four pages, if I were to go more into detail, I’d be spoiling a lot for you.

The artwork for this series isn’t terrible, but it’s not likely to be a vocal selling point for this comic. Though it’s easy to follow the story, the page design here is uninspiring. At times, Jan Duursema makes attempts to create dynamic panels, but falls short half heartedly. This is most evident when presented with action sequences. There’s a scuffle at the end of the comic where, no matter how any times I look back to it, I can’t tell what’s going on. It really feels like the characters lost track of the floor and are just floating and flipping around, while trying to understand the concept of space they’re presented with.

The inking isn’t the best either. Dan Parsons’s ink work is used to create many a necessary texture with heavy lights and darks, but there isn’t much of anything as far as proper line weight to express stress, mood or lighting. That task was left upon the colorist, Wes Dzioba. Despite color seeming somewhat redundant with the heavy inking job done on most of these pages, it ties everything together, more so with the backgrounds. The figures, however, feel a bit bland. Still, the artwork isn’t bad. It’s just not award winning, but I should mention that the cover art by Gonzalo Flores is very attractive, as it should be. True, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but this cover would spark the interest of just about any Star Wars fan to pick this book up.

If you are a Star Wars fan, you should definitely pick this one up. The potential is there for a good series. Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi: Force Storm is currently available for pre-order on Dark Horse’s website or you could just wait until it hits the stands on February 15th.

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Zombie Apocalypse Essentials: Books That Will Save Your Life

Sirens have been blaring for hours. The stench of burning corpses and death penetrate your nostrils, violating you like “Rampage” Jackson doing an interview. Only the sound of low groans fill the air, making the drop of an empty cartridge pierce the nearly silent night. Life as you once knew it is nothing more than a distant memory. The promotion you wanted, seeing Episode One in 3D, and hoping your landlord will let you slide until payday are things you no longer care about anymore. Nearly everyone you have ever know has either been devoured by a mob of zombies or they themselves have been infected and are now on the hunt for flesh. Left to your own devices, you could only hope to live long enough to see another Friday. Thankfully, there are a few books that will not only prepare you for what is to come, but increase your chance of survival as you either wait for rescue or trek to the nearest safe point.

As we’ve mentioned previously, if you’re going to survive Z-Day you’ll need special gear. But what good is the gear if you don’t have a plan? Our friends over at ThinkGeek sent us a little zombie book bundle in hopes that we’ll survive long enough to give them that five bucks we still owe them. The guys here at NerdNewsToday wish you nothing but the best when the hammer drops and we highly encourage you to read these two books: ‘The Zombie Survival Guide‘ by Max Brooks and ‘The Zombie Combat Manual‘ by Roger Ma, and the take the ‘Zombie Survival Aptitude Test‘ by Casey B. Bassett. Next is a breakdown of what’s between the covers of each.

The Zombie Survival Guide – The author of ‘World War Z’, Max Brooks, expounds on key elements and strategy to surviving in the end times. This detailed book is just shy of 250 pages excluding an “outbreak journal” in the back. Broken up into seven major categories, Brooks’ lessons are many and vast. Page after page you’ll learn to distinguish truth and myth, which weapon is best for a specific scenario (close range/long range), as well as a profile of the many common locations (supermarkets, banks, hospitals,etc…) survivors usually try to hole up in and set up camp. I can personally attest that I would undoubtedly die within the first 24 hours because of my ignorance. Knowing the pros and cons of many types of shelter and weapons has greatly impacted my own personal plan of attack.

One of the best features in this book are the illustrations. They may be in black & white, but the visual aids come in handy when describing the ideal living quarters or how remain undetected while on the run. The last third or so of the text is detailed record of attacks dating all the way back to 60,000 B.C in Katanda, Central Africa. These accounts can give you a glimpse of what it’s like to be literally preyed upon by the living dead. Knowing what others have tried and failed to accomplish affords the reader the opportunity to learn from their mistakes as they attempt to live to see another day.

With over one million copies in print, it’s no wonder this New York Times bestseller has captivated the hearts and minds of geeks everywhere. The Zombie Survival Guide leaves no stone unturned, or no room unchecked if you prefer, and is the most trusted source for the tactics you’ll need to survive.

 

The Zombie Combat Manual – The back cover reads, “When the bombs stop falling… When your ammunition runs out… When the dead are still attacking… Will you be ready?” What I find eerily fascinating about this 296 page treasure is just how realistic it is. Eventually your supply of shotgun shells and homemade explosives will be depleted. This is the primary reason that any weapon with a finite number of uses is, at best, as decent secondary line of defense. As a survivor, whether alone or not, you will be faced with the nightmarish task of defending your unarmed self against at least one reanimated corpse. Even if you’ve read Anderson Silva’s ‘MMA Instruction Manual‘, you’ll still find yourself in a world of hurt (or worse!) if you don’t know the basics of hand-to-hand combat.

If for nothing else, buy this book to see the hilarious depictions of the numerous ways to defeat a zombie. While the pictures are laugh out loud funny, they’ll help you remember where to aim  for when swinging a machete, how to utilize proper footwork to avoid being directly in front of an assailant without tripping over your own feet, and how to property transport a child to safety should you ever have the need. My favorite section of the book is the weapon selection and combat strategy. Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of the weapons available to me in a time of crisis may just save my life in the future. What’s more is that I now have military-esque knowledge of how to win the war survive.

 

Z-SAT: Zombie Survival Aptitude Test – Think you know enough to survive the Zombie Apocalypse? Are you willing to bet your life on it? You will never know if you are knowledgeable enough unless you take this test. This 90+ page test will take a few hours to take and then grade yourself (no cheating!). After completion, you will be given a grade, just like in school. The only difference is that if you bomb this test you don’t get detention or grounded – you’ll die a premature death. All of the questions are multiple choice where you fill in the little circle next to the correct answer. Most questions offer four choices while there are a few True and False scatter throughout. Some questions are straight forward while others require to examine a picture to find the correct answer.

The confidence instilled in the student after taking and hopefully passing this test is enough to push the biggest nerd to a whole ‘nother level. Without this book you’re only guessing at how much you know and how good you’ll be at surviving after the world crumbles around you. Please don’t leave your fate in the hands of a whimsical guess.

 

These books weigh roughly two pounds and take up very little space, making them perfect to carry along on camping trips, long flights, and running from shelter to shelter after Z-Day. I require no thanks for sharing this information with you. Buy them. Read them. Survive. That, my fellow nerds, is thanks enough.

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“Sinners and Saints” Movie Review

Anchor Bay’s latest DVD release, “Sinners and Saints,” starring Johnny Strong, Kevin Phillips, Method Man, Tom Berenger, Costas Mandylor, and Bas Rutten, has just come out earlier this month. Direct to DVD is typically translated to mean a “meh movie,” so can this film overcome that distinction, or will you be seeing this on the clearance rack at Wal-Mart? Let’s take a look and break this thing down!

Here is your quick spoiler-free synopsis of the film:

“In the gritty New Orleans underbelly, beleaguered Detective Sean Riley is trying to cope with the death of his young son and his failed marriage. Facing a probable suspension from the department, Riley is teamed with a young homicide Detective, Will Ganz, to help solve a series of brutal murders that have plunged the city into a major gang war. The two quickly realize there is something much bigger and far more sinister going on than either could have ever imagined.”

Johnny Strong’s character, Sean Riley, is that douchebag at the bar that purposely cock-blocks you, purely because he can. He is pretty unlikeable in the beginning of the movie, trying to play that bad-ass cop with a heart of gold gimmick. Unfortunately, him and his team of cops at the start of the film just come off as braindead morons who must have skipped every class at the Police Academy, otherwise they would know how to properly enter a barricaded home with an armed gang inside. This is hardly a spoiler alert, but their terrible police work is what gets most of Strong’s unit slaughtered instantly (with him being the convenient sole survivor). Even after getting to know him halfway into the film, he is still not the most riveting character emotionally (I would call it flat acting), but the dude can fight and shoot and that is what matters in a movie like this.

Strong’s partner in the film ends up being a homocide detective played by Kevin Phillips, who will be appearing later this year in George Lucas’ “Red Tails” film. On his own, Phillips is bland, but when teamed up with Strong, the two bounce off each other nicely. That seems to be the best that can be said about our two leads, is that it takes another actor to push them to make their skills better. Depending on the scene, sometimes the characters will be stronger than in others, so just be patient and hang on tight for the pay-off.

The most interesting character to me was the one of the villains, played expertly by Louis Mandylor. His modest insanity and bad guy tactics are fun to watch, augmented by his Australian accent that makes anything he says sound more intense and evil. Costas Mandylor plays the main baddie, who reminds me of Michael Ironside from “Total Recall” in the best way possible.

The film gets interesting pretty quickly, as a strange group of mercenaries begin storming various locations and beginning a disturbing series of human-arson acts. Speaking of which, in terms of graphic violence, “Sinners and Saints” implements a mainly digital series of special effects for their gunshots and blood, but they make up for that with their revolting burn victims that are rather crucial for the plot. Nothing like a charred body to wash away the taste of a CG shootout.

While the acting in the film is not superb, it’s good enough for a direct-to-DVD release. It’s not a group of laughably bad actors trying to get a break, but some decent up-and-comers who are growing their chops, so kudos to the casting director for finding a solid cast that makes the film work.

The film features some other notable actors like Tom Berenger, Sean Patrick Flannery, and Method Man in supporting roles. Method Man is definitely the most interesting character of this group, but I can not say anything else without spoiling what happens. MMA fans will recognize Bas Rutten in this film as one of the main villain’s enforcers, named Dekker. Most of the time, Rutten just stands vigil as a silent bodyguard with the director tossing an occasional reaction shot his way in various scenes with his boss. His fight has the most MMA techniques in it, but being a bad guy means that he most certainly will die, and his death is quite entertaining.

Most of the action scenes are shootouts in urban settings, typically a strong hold situation where one group is trying to assault another’s hide-out or location. There is a very cool knife fight towards the final act of the film that is gritty and exciting, and made me wish there was more hand to hand combat rather than gun fights. Diana Lee Inosanto, daughter of Dan Inosanto, was a co-producer on this film, so it is no surprise that we would get such a wonderfully choreographed blade fight scene, I just wish Bas Rutten had a chance to get his hands dirtier and help have more hand to hand fights in the movie.

Overall, I was modestly impressed with the plot for the film and how involved I became in the cast and conspiracy of what was happening. While the acting will not win any awards, this is a group of promising young actors who are growing into their abilities, so consider this your chance to see them before they hit it big. “Sinners and Saints” harkens back to the good ole’ action films of the 80’s and 90’s, but with a modern flair and broad group of supporting actors to flesh this detailed plot out.

You can order “Sinners And Saints” from Amazon for around $12. The DVD also includes deleted scenes, and a very short behind-the-scenes feature. If you are a fan of action films, give it a shot (pun intended).

If you liked this movie review, you may also enjoy these: Insane racing anime “Redline” DVD & Movie Review, and WWII Supernatural action anime, “First Squad: The Moment of Truth” DVD & Movie Review

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“First Squad: The Moment of Truth” DVD & Movie Review

What happens when you take a group of ragtag supernatural soldiers battling against the forces of evil and mysticism, and put it in the backdrop of World War II? You get the first Hellboy movie. But, beyond that, you also get “First Squad: The Moment of Truth,” an anime directed by Yoshiharu Ashino, and released by Anchor Bay. Anime is a fickle genre at times, especially when it starts to mix in real-life dates and events. Does this edition of “First Squad” hold up in combat, or does it fall to its knees and cry that it wants to go home? Check out the review to find out!

Set during the opening days of World War II on the Eastern Front, 14-year-old Nadia (because every anime needs an adolescent girl) has a strange gift. An oprhan who travels with a sideshow act around Russia to entertain soldiers, Nadia has the power of clairvoyance, but none of that can help her regain her lost memories from her childhood. While performing for some troops, the camp is attacked and everyone is slaughtered, except for her. She is rescued by an old man in the woods, who manages to return her safely to the city where she meets a familiar General who explains who she is, what she can do, and why she is the last line of defense the world has in stopping the invading German army.

Nadia is part of a special group of children who were trained to be psychic soldiers, as well as the gun-toting kind, and it is up to her to retrieve her dead friends from the underworld so that they can battle the Nazi’s supernatural army of crusaders from the 12th-century before they turn the tides of the war forever.

The concept of “First Squad” is pretty clever, and has an excellent set-up to lead you into being interested in Nadia, since she is the focus of this hour-long OVA. From the start, we see a cold and emotionless girl who has no idea why she has these cursed powers, who is outcast from society because of it. After being pursued by a pair of busty blonde Nazi women, one of my favorite cliches of all time, her life begins to resume normalcy (as much as possible) as she opens up and is able to find her friends.

Unfortunately, this anime tends to drag a bit. It’s a very slow 60 minute movie, and takes its sweet time in the first act to establish everything that is happening. By the second half, things pick up quickly and it becomes a very tense and great final act, but viewers will need to suffer a bit to make it through the opening.

The animation is smooth and wonderful to look at, sometimes violent and sometimes beautiful. The scenes on the battlefield are exciting, but the underworld is probably the most creative, with hordes of murdered soldiers of different eras marching across their own private hell. Interspersed through the anime are spots made to resemble old newsreel clips, which add some realism and depth to the film, and help flesh out the time period better to make the viewer more involved.

DJ Krush provides much of the music heard through the film, helping to set the right mood for each scene. His sound contrasts the imagery and setting of the movie in a perfect balance, leaving me wanting a way to grab a copy of the soundtrack to this anime.

There is not a ton of action in the film, but what is there is exciting and makes for a good pay-off. I just wish more time was given to Nadia’s friends, who do not make a notable appearance until the second half, and do not do much until the last 10 minutes or so. The ending was a bit anti-climatic, but that leads me to believe this anime will be a series and not just a one-episode wonder… at least, I hope it becomes a series, otherwise I will be disappointed since I just got started liking these characters and want to see what craziness they get into with the Nazi’s next!

Overall, “First Squad: The Moment of Truth” is not my favorite OVA of all time, but it’s a good one and worth giving a watch. My main complaint is that it just sort of ends with not enough closure, and leaves a huge gap that must be filled by a sequel. It is a slight let-down that this entire DVD is just the hour-long film and a few trailers for unrelated things, leaving me wanting much more out of this DVD which I clearly am not going to get anytime soon. However, for a one-shot film, it does the job, and does the job well.

You can pick up “First Squad: Moment of Truth” on Amazon for around $18-20.

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Zombie Apocalypse Essentials: 5.11 XPRT Tactical Boots

I can hardly believe it’s already 2012, mostly because it feels like just yesterday we were partying like it was 1999. If we are to believe the Mayans had some sort of divine revelation of the future, then the world will end this year. Some fear a Death Star sized asteroid a la Armageddon, while others fear solar flares that only the likes of Quasar could make possible. While I do not doubt the plausibility of either of those scenarios, I submit to you that it is ten times more likely that the human race will be infected by Solanum and turn into brain-eating zombies. Think about it, us humans are just as prone to dropping beakers as we are misplacing our keys. Time is quickly running out and you need to be ready when the $%*& goes down.

One of the most overlooked items when preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse is footwear. Allow me to give you a suggestion: 5.11 Tactical offers plenty of fine gear, most notably their XPRT Tactical Boots made out of USA full-grain leather featuring an antibacterial and moisture wicking lining. They were kind enough to send me a pair to try out. Put it to the test I did; here’s my take on why these are absolute must-haves for anyone who doesn’t want their brains on the menu.

No matter the terrain or weather, the XPRT (Extreme Performance for Rapid Tactics) Tactical 8” boots will keep you comfortable and protect your feet from the elements. I ran through ankle deep snow for 30 minutes straight and not once did my feet know it was the dead of winter in the Midwest. While most boots stop at that, you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you find out that not only do the boots keep your feet warm and dry, they also have a patent-pending Kick-Toe to help you kick in a door (or skulls for that matter) without breaking a few toes in the process and a Talon Stabilizer that offers unparalleled support. Still not enough? Since no place is safe, only safer, you really get a kick out of (no pun intended) the cushioning foam insole that makes feel like they’re walking on the clouds of Heaven when you’re really just surviving another day in Hell.

The Zombie Apocalypse is going to get messy. Stepping on non-survivors on your way to the Hostess truck or delivering a little Sweet Chin Music to an undead neighbor will undoubtedly dirty up your new duds and cover you in infectious blood from the ankle down. No worries, 5.11 made sure these boots were blood pathogen resistant. Hidden dangers may wait at every turn of the corner, but at least your feet are well protected.

Finally, you must know that although rocking these SWAT boots is like wearing a mini armored truck, you certainly won’t be able to tell when you have them on your feet. I slipped my feet into the black boots, used the time saving Cinch system to fasten them, and went for a run. You’d be hard-pressed to find a cross trainer as lightweight as the 5.11 XPRT Tactical boots. When you think of boots, you picture ugly, clunky, dead-weights, capable of replacing the bucket of cement used by most mobsters when they wanted a snitch to sleep with the fishes. When you think of this must have item for surviving a zombie horde, you’ll think of a combination of G.I. Joe and Flash Gordon – Kick ass and really fast – which, ironically enough, is exactly what you need to be on Z Day if you plan on escaping to the safe zone. Pick up a pair in your size here.

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“Redline” DVD & Movie Review

On January 17, Anchor Bay will release their next big Anime movie, “Redline,” on DVD and Blu-Ray for the first time in America. Created by Takeshi Koike and MadHouse animation studio, this outrageous film was released in Japan back in 2009, and has taken its sweet time arriving on US shores in an official format. Is this film worth the wait, or is it best left forgotten about? Find out in our review!

The Redline is a no-holds-barred, anything-goes race with traditional non-flying cars held every five years to determine who is the best racer around the galaxy. “Sweet” JP – so named for his personality, retro style, and refusal to mount weapons on his racecar – nearly wins the “Yellowline” race against an eclectic mix of bizarre aliens and humanoids, but his Trans Am is sabotaged by an explosive device placed by his friend and mechanic, Frisbee, in an attempt to pay off a debt he racked up with the Mafia to create JP’s car. While recuperating in the hospital, the pair finds out that JP was selected for the “Redline” because two other racers withdrew.

JP heads to the Robo World, a planet that is vehemently against the race taking place on their locale since they are hiding weapons of mass destruction there and do not want to be discovered. As JP wanders around the refugee camp where the racers are being housed, he meets Sonoshee, a sensual girl who rivaled the skills of JP in the Yellowline, and the two are instantly attracted to each other. Together, they must outrun police, bounty hunters, the army of Robo World, and the other racers to not just win, but survive with their lives intact.

Take one part “Fast & Furious”, add a dash of “Death Race 2000”, and mix it up with some intense animation that is the love child of “FLCL” and “Ninja Scroll”, and that summarizes the feel of “Redline.” Comparing it to other films beyond their themes would be unfair, as Redline is a unique experience that I honestly can not judge it next to other animes. It stands out on its own from top to bottom, and is unlike anything you have seen before. The story moves at a breakneck pace, although it can get lost in the shuffle of this self-referential moments and hyper speed action of the movie.

The film was created by Katsuhito Ishii, who worked on many other animes, as well as the animated sequence from the first “Kill Bill” movie, and Takeshi Koike, who many Americans will remember from his contribution to the “Animatrix” DVD. The stylized animation is in your face, with bold lines and bright colors, and a frenetic pace that never slows down for very long. Stark blacks contrast against pastels for a striking look and feel unlike many other animes on the market.

The most amazing part of this film was that everything was hand-drawn, including the giant robots, cars, and backgrounds. Hand-drawing the film is what caused it to take seven years to produce, start to finish, but the impressive visuals will leave you in absolute shock and awe. This juxtaposition of space-aged technology inside the film, along with the traditional art of animation, makes for a highly stimulating and evocative experience that will amaze all viewers.

The music of the film was created after the animation was done, and is synched to perfectly fit every moment of each scene. The American voice-over actors also do a wonderful job of keeping up with the integrity of the original sound in the film, and while I am normally a sub-title person, this constantly-moving film benefits from the English dub so that you can keep your eyes on the action and not on the text.

Redline is a must-see for all anime fans, and I believe can transcend the narrow appeal of otakus and reach out to mainstream audiences. Extravagant and original are the two words that come to mind when I think of this product of love and obsession from MadHouse. While the plot can be a bit thin at times, you will be too enamored with the energy and visual experience of the film to worry too much about that. You will be hooked from the opening moments of the film, all the way to the final climactic race where the stakes are high, and the animation cel count is even higher!

You can pick up “Redline” on DVD from Amazon for around $15-17, and is absolutely worth it. Even if you are not a huge anime fan, this is that one exception that comes out every few years that goes beyond its genre, like “Akira” or “Ninja Scroll,” and can be enjoyed by fans of racing movies or action movies as well. Give it a watch, you will not be disappointed!

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Triad Toys “Dakota Jennings” Figure Review

Released by Triad Toys at the start of 2011, Dakota Jennings is part of their “Dead Cell” line of supernatural investigators and eliminators. According to the storyline of the toys, “Dead Cell” is a special ops group made by the US Goverment to deal with vampires, werewolves, and other nightmarish creatures. Led by Abigail Van Helsing, there are hundreds of teams like this around the world ready for any paranormal situation.

Dakota watched as her parents were killed by monsters at a young age in her hometown of Devil’s Lake, North Dakota (I wonder if that is a real place), and was raised by “Dead Cell” members who fought the beasts. She is a master of “Judo-based street fighting,” and prefers to use her sword and pistol in battle. With this bizarre background info out of the way, let’s take a look at the figure!

Packaging:

Dakota is boxed in what appears to be a rather straight-forward set-up with a long cardboard box. The design work on the front lets you know what team she is on, and gives multiple pictures of her posed for action, or possibly a photo-shoot in “Soldier of Fortune” magazine.

The back of the box has all of her stats, as well as the extended backstory to what I summarized above for the concept behind this “Dead Cell” line (which you can read in the full in the photo gallery at the bottom of this review), as well as who Dakota Jennings is.

There is a barcode on the bottom of the figure with the code “DED0001,” so next time you go to your local toy store, ask them to check for that bar code in their database.

The toy opens from the top, but the real fun is in the panel in the front. In spite of it’s simple appearance, the front opens up to reveal her accessories on the left, and a window into the figure itself inside the packaging. The weapons are attached to the left side via six plastic plugs, keeping everything nice and snug inside their molded plastic homes.

Sculpting:

The figure itself is around 10 1/2 inches tall, and not a full 12 inches. The sculpting is smooth on her face, perhaps too smooth since she has a look of dull boredom on her face. Maybe she is just jaded from all the demon killing, but her expression is so lackadaisical that it is disappointing. It could be interpreted as a cold stare of death from a woman who has seen so much violence in her world that it no longer phases her, but all of the ladies from Triad Toys have this look.

Her hair looks nowhere near as good out of the box as it did in the photos on the packaging. I am not much of a stylist, but the hair juts out of her head flatly and evenly, making her facial expression even more noticeable. The sculpting on her accessories makes up for much of the plainness of her face, but we will get to that in a bit.

Her clothing is all fabric, and fits the tone of the character in the color and appearance. She has all sorts of leather-looking pads wrapped around her, like on her forearm, knee, and her belt. Her denim pants had some trouble staying up (FYI, she is going commando), but they were meant to be low-riders anyway, so just give them a yank when you are posing her in your display. Otherwise, she will be giving the other figures in your collection a free show, and if you want a piece of Dakota, you have to pay to play.

Paint:

Not much I can say about the paint job here, since most of the paint is on her face. It’s clean and neat, and that sums up the paint on the figure. The accessories are more or less all solid tones as well, nothing spectacular but nothing bad that detracts from the figure. The detailing here is more in the clothing since it is fabric, as opposed to sculpted clothes.

Accessories:

Dakota comes with eight hands; a pair of closed fists, hands to hold her sword, hands to hold her gun with a trigger finger, and completely open hands grabbing for the air. She also comes with a handgun with a removable clip and sliding barrel, her leather jacket, her Katana, and the scabbard holding it. She also has magnetic boots, meaning she can clip onto a metallic surface to help her stand up straighter.

The hands come on and off pretty easily, and firmly grip whatever weapon you want to put in them. The sword slides right into her scabbard and has great detail on the handguard of the katana. I love the pistol, and I do want to add that both her gun and sword have holsters as part of Dakota’s clothing. The pistol fits in a holster on her left leg and the sword has a section on her back, as you will see in the photo gallery below.

Sadly, you can not put the sword in that compartment when she is wearing her leather jacket, but the jacket is so cool that you can forgive that. The front has a working zipper, and more surprisingly, so do the sleeves!

I really love the sword here, and can not get over the detail in the handguard. When I heard Triad had the license to make “Lone Wolf and Cub” toys, I was very worried about them getting the weaponry right, but my fears have been alleviated after seeing Dakota’s arsenal. Triad did a great job with the accessories, and if you count her clothes as part of that category too, then you will love this figure for that alone.

Playability:

Dakota uses an Alpha Female body type from Triad Toys, making her extremely flexible and great for posing and play. This is a toy for adult collectors, but is priced at just the right point where a kid could play with this, or an adult could have fun making stop-motion animations or taking dynamic photos of her in action.

She can hold her sword like a samurai, point her gun like James Bond, or pose like Elektra from Marvel Comics (minus the giant red bandana), and that is all without a figure stand. All of her accessories offer plenty of different options, and lots of fun for the stop-motion animation enthusiast. If you are a diorama maker, chances are you already have a great setting to put her in, whether it’s urban, some dark temple, or a post-apocalyptic setting.

Final Verdict:

I may have been a bit harsh on Ms. Jennings here, especially since she was one of the first in the “Dead Cell” line. While the other figures in this line come with much more interesting accessories and clothes, Dakota looks like a passive and less attractive Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Triad Toys is not trying to be like other companies, such as Sideshow or Hot Toys. These are not figures that are going to have short runs with absurd prices and limited availability. These are high-grade figures made for a specific fan base, and I think it accomplishes a lot on the level that it is going for.

The number of accessories, the clothing, and her flexibility make her a good figure overall. I wish her face looked less identical from the other cloned ladies that Triad makes, but she poses well and, when placed in the right position with her accessories, the expression works.

Fans of Triad must like this face since it is used a lot in their other lines, and since this is my first figure from the company, I probably just need to get more accustomed to it. Overall, I like this figure a lot and am open to grab some more Triad Toys figures the next time I come across them.

You might also like our reviews of Ban Dai’s Thundercats Classic: Lion-O figure, and MOTUC Orko & Prince Adam figure!

Check out the gallery below for more pics of Triad Toy’s Dakota Jennings!

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“Teela” MOTUC Action Figure Review

The original “Masters of the Universe” toy line from the 1980’s was basically an all-boys club. A hero named He-Man, what did you expect? While it would be two years later that Filmation would create He-Man’s sister, She-Ra, little girls who were forced to watch the original series with their brothers did not have many females to look up to.

Most girls were not going to be fans of Skeletor’s main squeeze, Evil-Lyn, and Queen Marlena was busy being a bland and meaningless character. This left Teela, who according to the package of the action figure we are going to review today is a “warrior goddess,” to be the character little girls could live their action fantasies through. Matty Collector released an action figure of her back when the “Masters of the Universe Classics” line first launched, and today we are going to review her and see how well she has held up compared to the MOTUC figures of today.
Continue reading “Teela” MOTUC Action Figure Review

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