Category Archives: Reviews

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

Comic Review: Freaks of the Heartland

Dark Horse Comics is re-releasing the Spectrum Gold Award winning miniseries, Freaks of the Heartland, as a deluxe hard covered graphic novel. This gem was released originally back in 2004 as a six issue trade paperback written by famed horror writer Steve Niles, who is also responsible for other great reads like Criminal Macabre and 30 Days of Night. This story is brought together by accomplished illustrator Greg Ruth, whose talents are also showcased in more recent reads like Sudden Gravity and Alabaster: Wolves.

Freaks of the Heartland is really a testament to how diverse Niles and Ruth can be in the name of storytelling. Its subject matter and feel is a far cry from the blood drenched thriller that is 30 Days of Night, and the artistic styling is nothing like the tight lining and bold gray scaling in Sudden Gravity. For two guys who’ve made the horror genre their own they really showed an entirely different side of what they’re capable of with this story.

This story is centered on two brothers; the older brother named Trevor Owens and his baby brother Will. Trevor has always looked after his younger brother Will, who is grossly deformed and isn’t allowed to stay in the house with the rest of the family.  Will actually stays chained in their barn; away from the few people in the small town they live in. Tension progressively runs higher and higher amongst the small community and tough choices need to be made; the kind of choices children shouldn’t have to make. Through these choices they find out they’re not the only ones in town dealing with this kind of problem.

Reading that kind of premise, I’m sure this doesn’t sound like any horror story you’d be into if you’re into horror comics/graphic novels; which is understandable. However, at its core, this is still a horror story. Much unlike the sort survival horror you’d expect in the genre, Freaks of the Heartland deals more with tragedy, loss of innocence in children, how they deal with it and how those around them react. The story is written and illustrated in a way that it’s easy for the reader to relate to these characters, and from their standpoint, this situation is terrifying. Past that feeling of terrifying uncertainty, there’s a full range of emotions and social issues that are touched upon like empathy, family roles, discrimination, and duty. From both sides of the fence it feels personal, and whenever things calm down you, as the reader still have a feeling of uneasiness coming from these characters.

I would like to give all the credit to Steve Niles for creating such a brilliant story, but in all honesty, no one could have brought this together the way it is the way Greg Ruth does. There is blood and gore in this book, yet it isn’t terribly graphic and doesn’t need to be. Where there was more rendering done and where parts are given less detail is deliberate. It all contributes to the story. The panels get brighter and have higher contrast when the story takes an intense turn and gets more cool and relaxed when things are calm. The children’s faces are illustrated very clearly with softer brush strokes and relaxed colors, as opposed to the adults’ over all appearances are shrouded in more shadow with heavier, more aggressive brush strokes and colors which makes them seem more monstrous than the deformed children in a way. All the while, the pallet keeps up with general earth tones that compliment the heartland theme very well. Simply put, the artwork in this story is beautiful.

If there was any negative about this book that could be pointed out is that you could finish it within an hour, which is kind of unfortunate. It’s really the other edge of the double blade on this sword. The story will keep your attention from beginning to end, and in most cases, you won’t want to put it down. You look at it and think “hey, one hundred sixty some odd pages is a lot of material,” but the book is paced so well that the end comes quickly. It doesn’t ruin the story, it’s just deceptively short.

If you’re into horror comics but want to take a break from the zombies, vampires and aliens; this is the book for you. If you’re not into horror comics, I’d still suggest this title for you. I’d suggest anyone into comics without super heroes. $29.99 is worth the price for a really good story in a hard covered book. Freaks of the Heartland will be available in hard cover on Dark Horse Comic’s website on June 27th, but in the mean time, it is available for pre-order here.

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“Trigun” DVD Review

What can be said about “Trigun” that already hasn’t? The groundbreaking space western anime that changed the industry, featuring top notch animation and a fine American dub, this 26-episode series has inspired countless franchises since then. Funimation has recently released Trigun: The Complete Series Box Set, featuring the entire run of the show in a convenient thin-packed DVD set, so it seems that the time is right to talk about it once more.

For those of you living under a rock for the past decade, “Trigun” was based on a manga by the same name in the late ’90’s, and was quickly adapted into an anime series only two years into the run of the comic. Meryl Stryfe and Milly Thompson, a pair of Insurance agents, have been given the task of evaluating the damage and claims of one “Vash the Stampede”, also known as “The Humanoid Typhoon.” Wherever this elusive outlaw goes, major destruction and chaos follows. When the two field agents meet Vash, they are shocked to see how aloof and simple he is, and think they have found an imposter. The Vash they have met whines, complains, eats donuts, and is bullied constantly. But as they quickly learn, wherever Vash goes, trouble follows, and the man in the red jacket with the 60 billion double dollar bounty on his head constantly has trouble tracking him down, no matter where he goes.

The cartoon series was animated by Madhouse, who have been responsible for numerous excellent animes, many of which have been equally high-risk taking in genre and breaking from the average stereotypes. There were not too many “space westerns” in that era, but after Trigun took off, plenty more followed in its footsteps. Directed by Satoshi Nishimura, this show took desolate deserts and merged them with futuristic steampunk machinations from the days of the wild, wild west. Think about Mos Eisley from “Star Wars”, but without the aliens and more crazy Japanese characters roaming the plains, and there you have it.

The animation is smooth and fluent, with unique character designs that have since become iconic, especially for cosplayers. You can not go to a comic con without running into a Vash or Wolfwood! What makes the series work so well is the character development, and how even the most seemingly goofy episodes can turn into a meaningful way to explain more about the origins and personality of Vash, and why he is the so-called humanoid typhoon. Much like “Cowboy Bebop”, small bits of his past are explained, but eventually we do get a serious flashback that introduces Knives, the exact opposite of Vash who you will see much more of towards the end of the series.

Speaking of Wolfwood, the supporting characters are all fleshed out, especially the ones that appear for just one episode. Like many old western TV shows, the episodes are often a one-shot around a single story. “Trigun” has a running story and continuity, but it thrives on these one-shot stories, and these characters deeply interact with our protagonists to tell the tale of Vash, Meryl, Millie, and Wolfwood, explaining their motives by showing and not just telling.

And thank goodness they do show, as their is plenty of high-octane shoot-outs to show in this series. Vash might often be hesitant to draw his gun, but when he does, you better not blink. A pacifist by nature, Vash does his best not to cause violence, but violence has a nasty habit of finding him on his ronin-like journey. Each episode, Vash battles some bizarre-looking and highly memorable villains, often augmented by some mecha parts. These characters are still some different looking baddies, and continue to stand out amongst other animes with their distinct looks and weapons.

Special features on this set include textless songs and original Japanese trailers, as well as the option to see this in English or the original Japanese dialogue.

It is quite disappointing the series finale was so finite that producers have said there could never be a sequel or continuation of the series (no spoilers here), but you will be happy to know that there is an OVA called “Trigun: Badlands Rumble” that is pretty spectacular, but we will talk about that another time.

You can order Trigun: The Complete Series Box Set on Amazon.com for under $25 new, which is less than a dollar per episode! “Trigun” is simply one of the best, an instant classic that will surely survive the test of time and continue to inspire new fans and new series as it grows older. Thanks to this new funimation value-pack, you can own the entire series in a very compact container and enjoy it whenever you want, and you will definitely want to have a marathon of this show at least once a year.

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Comic Review: Mind MGMT #1

Critically acclaimed comic book artist/writer and the most original voice in genre comics according to Dark Horse Comics, Matt Kindt, has started working on his first ongoing series as artist and writer for Mind MGMT. This Dark Horse Original is promising everything from weaponized psychics, hypnotic advertising and robots to talking dolphins, gorillas and astronauts; all wrapped up in government conspiracies and espionage.

How coherently is all of that subject matter coming across in just the first issue? Aside from the government conspiracies and weaponized psychics, it isn’t doing it much. Understandably so, it’s only the first issue of an ongoing series. If this story made complete sense right from the beginning, it would take away from a lot from the potential of the comic. With that in mind, the near beginning of the comic is especially vague with four people being violently murdered for no apparent reason; each is killed by the person that dies next. This would make no sense if not for the title of this series.

A title like Mind MGMT (management, clearly) gives a bit of an explanation to just about everything unexplainable in this comic before the reader is even presented with it. Through information given throughout this first issue, you just may be able to connect a lot of dots and break through a lot of the mystery into what’s happening. However, the reader doesn’t get beaten over the head with it. So for readers a bit faster on the ball, this may be a bit of a letdown in comparison to those not analyzing everything as much. Still, this doesn’t ruin the story.

The introduction of the protagonist, Meru, is well done in this first issue. A bizarre incident is presented in which she’s investigating. Through this, the reader is given a range of emotions from Meru with a great insight to her situation pre adventure. The reader is presented with a lot of her character in a way that makes not relating to her almost impossible, and from there, the story progresses at a steady pace until the end of the issue. After that, you’re given a two page story about a character seemingly unrelated to what has transpired so far, and like the title does, gives a lot more explanation to what is happening by just being presented as opposed to the information provided.

Despite all this extra information given that might help you make connections to what is going on, it still doesn’t answer why. That’s what makes this a good read; regardless how much the reader may pick up on to explain what, it still doesn’t answer much of any why (if that makes any sense).

As good as the story is, the art isn’t helping the experience, unfortunately. I assume what’s being used here is watercolor, but given the pallet choice, it may be multiple ink washes brought together with inconsistent black lining that doesn’t have any real rhyme or reason.  They don’t emphasize moods or change up depending on the situations at hand, and neither does the color scheme. It’s kind of all over the place with grays to identify flashbacks and (from what I assume are) government agents.

Overall, the artwork screams Expressionism; the sort done by the one student who’s a fine arts major surrounded by communication design majors in an illustration class. By that, I mean it seems that’s the direction taken because that’s what Kindt is comfortable with, and not because it helps tell the story. It’s as though he missed the point of the word “sequential” in the phrase “sequential art.” With that said, I will give credit where it’s due. It’s pretty. These are pretty pictures that are pleasing to the eye and very atypical of a comic, which for some will be a pleasant breath of fresh air.

If you’re into most typical comics; this may not be the title for you. However, if you have an artsy/hipster/beatnik friend who tags along with you to your local comic book shop; this is definitely the title for them. This may just be the title that gets them into comic books. As far as comics go, the story is great, and the art is endearing to non comic fans. interest into other kinds of artistic expression. The fact that it’s different works in Mind MGMT’s favor. As always, you can find this title anywhere Dark Horse Comics are sold, or you can find it on Dark Horse’s website, available now for your viewing pleasure

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Zombie Apocalypse Essentials: Guns & Ammo’s Zombie Nation Magazine

In continuation of our commitment to bring you the latest and greatest of Zombie Apocalypse Essentials, NerdNewsToday is totally geeked to share with you the Zombie Nation magazine by Guns & Ammo. We all know the forthcoming apocalypse will bring mass destruction and send us back to the days of writing by candle light and eating only what we kill. No smartphones, no email, no Internet – which is exactly why we’re glad Inter Media Outdoors wised up and printed a  well-packaged guide to essential tools and tactics for living in a real-life  ‘Zombieland.’

Zombie Nation brings detailed reviews of several guns such as the Valkyrie Armament BSR MOD-1 (pictured on the cover) and my personal favorite, the Double Star Zombie X; an AR with a working chainsaw, you know, in case you need to rid yourself of flesh eating house guests. Guns not your thing? No worries, Gerber and Ka Bar knives and attachments are covered in this first of its kind magazine as well.

We all know that getting close to anyone infected is the opposite of smart, and yet it may still be a necessity. How would you react if engaged in close quarter combat? While unarmed? ‘Avoid the Bite: Six tips for going unarmed against the undead’ is sure to be a must read for any prepper.Whoa! I almost forgot – this kick ass magazine also has a guide for how to dress for survival and comes with a free fold out zombie target.

Carry this magazine with you rolled up in your back pocket and you won’t just be toting a few tips & tricks, but entertaining bathroom reading material as well in the form of interviews with movie creatures from the hit AMC show “The Walking Dead” and a closer look at the master of zombie makeup and his amazing work. Info and entertainment, two things you won’t regret having after running for your life for the past 36 hours straight.

There you have it, nerds. Over 125 pages of zombie goodness waiting to be consumed. A fun read that could help you live to see another day. Beautifully freighting high def photos that really help drive the point home. Go grab your copy at newsstands today or online HERE.

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“The King of New Orleans”, Biography of pro wrestler Junkyard Dog – Book Review

Sylvester Ritter is a name that all old-school pro wrestling fans must be aware of, although chances are they know him better by his stage name. “The Junkyard Dog”, or sometimes just JYD, won multiple single and tag team championship in his career during the 70’s and 80’s, and broke racial barriers along the way. Greg Klein, a student of the civil rights era, grew fascinated with Ritter, enough to write “The King of New Orleans: How The Junkyard Dog Became Professional Wrestling’s First Black Superstar”.

Released by ECW Press, this 180-page paperback tells the biography of Ritter from his early days all the way to becoming the first Black champion in a Southern pro-wrestling company, a big accomplishment in the 70’s. Living in New Orleans, Louisiana had passed many laws to keep Black people from competing in various sports, especially in interracial environments where they might mix with White folk. At the time, the majority of gimmicks given to Black men in pro wrestling were flat-out racist, and the wrestlers were always “heels” (or the bad guys for my non-smark readers).

After graduating from Fayetteville State University with a degree in political science, Ritter had dreams of becoming a pro football player. Fate intervened, as an injury forced him unable to join a team, and he instead was introduced to pro wrestling by a friend. Ritter debuted in the Tennessee territory, and eventually worked with Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling in Canada and Mid-South Wrestling in America, which is where booker “Cowboy” Bill Watts gave him his famous moniker.

During this time period, Ritter had matches with men like The Dynamite Kid, The Fabulous Freebirds, Ernie Ladd, Ted DiBiase, Kamala, King Kong Bundy, “The Natural” Butch Reed, and a young Jake “The Snake” Roberts before his DDT dropping days. In the mid-1980’s, JYD headed to Vince McMahon’s WWF, where his character grew in popularity and wrestled with some of the top stars before heading to WCW in the 90’s to feud for the world title there against Ric Flair.

Success was not an easy road for a Black man in that era, and Ritter had to battle against all sorts of racist promoters and unsavory characters to get to the level that he ultimately achieved. His hard work paid off, and opened the way for future Black wrestlers such as Booker T, Ron Simmons, Ron “The Truth” Killings, and many more who compete today.

Ritter sadly passed away in 1998, but Klein felt that his story was important enough that it must be remembered in this book, and what a great job he does of commemorating this superstar. Klein conducts interviews with many of the people that knew or worked with JYD, be they wrestlers, family members, friends, or even just admirers of his wrestling who inspired them to fight the good fight in a time where civil rights were still not accepted nationally. His writing style invites the readers in and offers every player a specific voice, and while this book is intended for wrestling fans, one does not need to be to enjoy this story. Klein weaves together these stories into one cohesive and fascinating biography that all wrestling fans should read, along with any history buffs who are interested in the civil rights movement. Entertainment was one of, and still is, the most powerful forms of political change, and JYD is an easily overlooked aspect of the struggle.

You can order The King of New Orleans: How the Junkyard Dog Became Professional Wrestling’s First Black Superhero for $13.43 on Amazon.com, and I definitely recommend it. I am glad that Klein wrote this book to cement JYD’s place in history, as I would have passed up on this book since before reading it, I simply took Ritter for granted. Professional wrestling has always thrived on racially-heated angles in their booking, and JYD was one of the first Black athletes to overcome stereotypes and cliche booking, to be treated just as a human being and not as a color. Pro wrestling fans will not be disappointed with this quick read and will be in for quite an unsuspecting treat and history lesson. Klein has ensured that future generations will not let this barrier-breaking, “thump” dropping, larger-than-life superstar become a forgotten hero.

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“Mushi-shi: The Movie” DVD Review

Directed by the anime genius that is Katsuhiro Otomo (who gave us such gems as “Akira”, “Domu: A Child’s Dream”, and “Steam Boy”), “Mushi-Shi” is the live-action adaptation of the anime series from 2006 of the same name. Released by Funimation for American viewers, this supernatural thriller has wowed audiences worldwide, including at the Sundance Film Festival, Venice International Film Festival, and the Toronto International Film Festival.

Taking it’s source material from a 26-episode long anime series, “Mushi-Shi: The Movie” had its work cut out for it from the start. Condensing that much of a plot into one movie is no easy task, but not having any knowledge of the series before seeing the movie, I never felt lost or that I was missing some crucial information from the original. After reading about the anime later, however, I am even more impressed with what this film has done for this unique story.

Taking place between the Edo and Meiji periods in Japan, a white-haired traveler named Ginko wanders the countryside, accepting offers to solve paranormal problems with mystical beings called “mushi”. These parasitic mushi come in a variety of forms, along with a mix of troublesome ways they feed off their hosts, and Ginko, being a mushi-shi, has the ability to see all of these beings and dispose of them. The first half of the film sees us learning about Ginko and his abilities to help a troubled village, and after that we dive into the story of who Ginko really is and to what extent these mushi will go to feed.

Ginko, played by Joe Odagiri, is a subtle character that reminds me of a cross between John Constantine from DC Comics “Hellblazer” and Osamu Tezuka’s “Black Jack”. Subtle is truly the word to describe all of the acting here, with each character feeling different from one another and truly immersing the viewer into their world. The backdrops and exteriors seamlessly push you in more and more with each scene and make you feel like you are part of this strange place where bug-like spirits wreak havoc only because they are hungry.

Otomo uses a very documentary-feel to the film in terms of photography and lighting, relying much on natural light to evoke the moody and dreary feel to the film. There is an isolating loneliness that this world has, which seems to softly fade away when more than one person is around. Most shots in the film rarely contain more than two people in the frame at once, and purposefully so to keep this feeling so powerful. Being a mushi-shi is a dangerous and lonely line of work as we learn, one not cut out for most people, and the cinematography reinforces how it must feel to be a character like Ginko and those who have similar abilities to him.

The mushi themselves are mostly CG, aside from some fish and snails, but are not fully-rendered apparitions. Most are white or black mist-like vapors that float around and consume things, and blend in like physical effects. Once again, subtlety is what rules the day with this movie, and the handling of the mushi was done to make them seem harmless in the beginning, and threatening by the end, all while looking like parts of nature.

In terms of being a horror anime, there is not much gore and zero jump scares. This is more an ambient film that methodically builds pressure with each scene, which ultimately culminates in the last act of the film where all mysteries are solved. There is a pretty gross scene where someone gets their arm stabbed, and I would normally not give out spoilers but this is one of those warnings where I feel I should, since most of the movie has very little violence whatsoever. This is not a slasher or killing movie, but an intriguing thriller and a journey for two characters.

One warning I will give to all viewers is that this movie is a long journey, clocking in at well over two hours long. “Mushi-shi” is a very slow-moving film that requires patience to get through, especially with the slow first act. Does the movie drag? Not necessarily, but it takes it’s time to set up the world and characters within it, giving you spoonfuls of each until the bottle is emptied. The second half of the movie does take some major turns from how it starts, and the conclusion can get a little trippy, but it’s still worth a watch.

The DVD that Funimation has released includes an additional ten minutes of deleted or extended scenes, some of which are not super necessary to the plot, but you can be the judge of what is relevant or not. There is also a short feature about the film’s premiere night that speaks with the cast of the film on the red carpet, and the original theatrical trailer for it.

You can buy Mushi-Shi: The Movie from Amazon.com for around $9 and is worth a shot if you enjoyed the anime series, or just want to see a very stylish movie with some impressive acting and effects. The beautiful imagery makes this very watchable, along with the expert performances from the entire cast and a captivating plot, so even if you are not familiar with the anime, I recommend it. It’s definitely something you won’t see everyday, but will be one of the more interesting movies you will get based on a Japanese cartoon.

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“Samurai 7” DVD Review

Pretentiousness aside, Akira Kurosawa is genuinely one of my favorite film directors. My education in Japanese cinema began purely because of him, in fact, as the very first foreign film I ever owned was one of his legendary movies. Back when the Museum of Modern Art in NY was briefly renovating itself and moved to a temporary location, I went there on a class trip. Browsing in the gift shop, I ran into a double-VHS set (remember tapes?) of 1954’s “Seven Samurai.” Being into samurai thanks to my love of anime, and curious about international film, I pleaded with my parents to pay the $34.95 for it so I could own it.

I was enamored with all three plus hours of it, and my love story with Kurosawa and international films begin. Fast forward to 2012 when I finally got my hands on “Samurai 7”, an anime adaptation of this movie from 2004, now released by Funimation. Broken up into a 26 episode series, “Samurai 7” takes the prolific film by Akira Kurosawa, and does not modernize it or throw it into a “neo-tokyo” environment. Rather, it absorbs the story into this new world and tosses in a few curve balls and creates a new tale. Think of it is an oral story that gets passed on to a new generation, and with each new story teller, the tale changes to fit the times.

Sometime in the future, after a great civil war that pit man against machine, a peasant village is being terrorized by a group of ruthless mechanical bandits. The bandits are becoming worse each year, and the hamlet decides that they must fight back. So, with the help of local farmer Rikichi, divinist Korara, and her sister Koracha, the group heads to the city to seek a samurai to fight for them. Needless to say, their lone warrior turns into a group of seven, but how this band of ronin meet and join forces is just the beginning of a long and epic story.

While the story itself starts out very much the same as “Seven Samurai”, it is not long before the first major plot changes happens, that being the addition of a female character, a priestess named Kirara, to help search for the samurai. In the original film, there are no heroic leads for any ladies. Their sparse roles were only that of beautiful villagers to add a romantic sub-plot to the film. Kirara is the strong female character in the group, joined by her little sister Koracha.

The animation is what you would expect for a series, about on par with Trigun if I had to compare it to anything. There is some CG to create the giant robot samurais that are the bandits, and I must admit that it ages gracefully and does not feel out of place. Each of the seven samurai has a unique look that fits their personality and fighting style, with some clever choices made in the aesthetics of each one.

Does a viewer need to have seen the original film it is based on to appreciate it? Not at all, as any anime fan can leap right into this series without knowing a lick about Kurosawa and completely enjoy the series from start to finish. Having seen the film it is based on adds some depth to my enjoyment, but it is definitely not necessary. Being a 26 episode series, many liberties were taken from the original source, namely in the quantity of battles that occur. In the original film, the second half of the movie is one huge fight, while here, action is interspersed in each episode. There is also a subplot exclusive to this series about class warfare, as merchants play a key part in this samurai vs bandits fight.

Special features from the Viridian set include textless opening and closing credits so you can enjoy the songs like music videos, promotional video hyping the series, image galleries, and character profiles. Furthermore, the series is presented in 16:9 widescreen as opposed to letterbox (since this has aired on standard definition TV a few years back on the IFC channel).

I highly recommend this series. Action-packed, funny, and great pacing make this a must-see DVD set. The original “Seven Samurai” is tough for many home audiences to sit through since it is so long, and this series is much longer thanks to being chopped up into 26 episodes. Thanks to some brilliant pacing and writing, you will keep coming back to watch more, and if you are like me, will try to get through the entire thing in one day. Not because you want to rush through it, but because you will want to see how it ends.

You can order Samurai 7: Box Set (Viridian Collection) from Amazon.com for around $45 new, which comes out to around $1.75 per episode. That is a price that can not be beat for an anime series that truly stands out among the competition. “Samurai 7” is a familiar epic from cinema that has been innovated for today’s discerning anime fan, and both will surely stand the test of time.

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A Boy and His Blind Box: Tokidoki “Marvel Frenzies”

A long time ago, back when I wrote for another toy news site, I started a feature about blind box toys. I have always been a fan of the blind box toy, especially the Japanese ones since you can never really be disappointed with your selection from those. Other toy collectors may not be too interested in not knowing what they are getting and would rather hit up eBay for the full set or to cherry-pick, but for a true collector, it’s the hunt that matters.

After a few years away from that particular site, I decided today it was time to bring this series back on my site. What better way to start it with than these mini-collectibles from Tokidoki, and just in time for the epic release of “The Avengers”. Marvel Frenzies takes the iconic Marvel superheroes and villains and re-imagines them through the mind of Simone Legno in that signature style that has become a part of Tokidoki’s charm. There are twenty characters total in this wave, so let’s take a look and see which ones I end up with!

The art on the boxes is colorful and easy to recognize. Anyone can tell who is who from Marvel by their specific attributes, such as Spidey’s eyes or Wolverine’s pointy ears. Even a collector who is not familiar with Tokidoki will instantly be able to pick apart the characters and be intrigued by the unique designs.

The sides of the box also feature a bizarre little comic page with some of the other characters in this series. Why does Captain America love burgers? Because he is American of course, just like how Dr Doom stews on his throne like all Latverian’s do (assuming they existed). My favorite would be on the top of this side, which has Cyclops using his optic blast to roast a leg of meat.

The figures are housed inside silver pouches with a very easy to tear slit on each side, along with the Tokidoki logo all over it. What characters lurked inside these metallic mystery bags? Let’s rip them open and find out!

First up was Rogue, wearing her iconic X-Men outfit from the mid-90’s, popularized by the Saturday morning animated series. You have to love the little details in these little figures, which stand a mere inch and a half tall. Rogue’s eyelashes stand out, as her hands on her hips give her that Southern attitude that Marvel fans are accustomed to. While her figure may not be as sultry as a ten-inch tall Kotobukiya statue, her curves remain intact, as do the little details on her costume like her belt that hangs low on her waist and her knee-high boots.

The paint can be a bit iffy in some spots on Rogue, but that is easily forgiven when you remember the scale of the figures. Rogue is a character that requires more paint than the average character, so I am not docking any points on the occasional paint mishap.

Rogue is not the only female character in this line, which also features Storm from the X-men and another Storm, Sue Stork AKA The Invisible Woman from The Fantastic Four.

Joining us in bag numero dos is the former herald of Galactus and most emo character in Marvel comics until Penance emerged after “The Civil War”, The Silver Surfer. With no discernible facial features, Surfer does have a very shiny coat of paint that is quite reflective like the “real” Surfer. I use quotation marks since he is not exactly real… at least to most people…

Surfer is crouched deep on his surf board as he careens through the galaxy in a very dynamic pose, possibly the most dynamic of all the Frenzies. Surfer is not the only Frenzy with a vehicle, as Captain America is riding a skateboard (he is also carrying a cheeseburger, since all Americans ride skateboards and love cheeseburgers.

Some of the other characters in this line include Thor, The Punisher, Wolverine, Iron Man, Doctor Octopus, and even The Vision from The Avengers. Tokidoki has gone out of their way to have a very eclectic mix of characters, and have successfully captured their likenesses, redesigned them in the TD style, and squashed them into 1 1/2 inches.

These are some fun blind box figures, and one of the best parts about them is that they can double as keychains. Each one comes with a thin lanyard that you can use, as well as a proper latch to attach them to your backpack, cell phone, or wherever else you want to snag them onto.

“Marvel Frenzies” is a fun blind box figure that covers many bases. Hardcore fans will appreciate the characters in their signature poses, while anime fans will love the chibi-style that does not go too far into the realms of obnoxiously cute. Combined with the keychain, these collectibles can fit in on a shelf, nailed on a wall, or hanging on a book bag. I say give these blind boxes a shot and see who you end up with.

If you liked these figures, you can pick them up straight from Tokidoki’s site at this link here for $5.95 each! Check out the gallery below for more shots of these toys!

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“Gamer Grub” Food Review

Marathon gaming sessions are a true test of mettle to hardcore gamers. It takes long hours and dedication to plow through story-mode so you can unlock all the goodies for multiplayer mode, resulting in hours of non-stop action. In between shooting and tea-bagging your friend’s characters, you will need to stay hydrated and fed. Today, we are taking a look at the latest solution to keeping your stomach from going empty, as we taste some “Gamer Grub”, courtesy of the fine folks at Thinkgeek.

Gamer Grub is the latest technological advancement in nerd culinary arts, promising to not only deliver a great taste, but also includes “neurotransmitters” to improve your gaming experience, as well as a greaseless sensation on your fingers while munching. The expectations were set high from the start, but did this snack deliver, or are you better off sticking with mountain dew and doritos? Let’s take a look!

Each resealable bag is filled with 3.5 ounces of whatever flavor you have. We are testing both “Pizza” and “PB & J”. Pizza flavored contains cheese curls, tomato almonds, sesame sticks, pita chips, fried onions, and pizza cashews, while PB & J has peanut butter chips, peanuts, strawberries, strawberry jelly chips, and sweet bread.

In terms of health, the pizza flavor is obviously the fattier of the two, clocking in at 160 calories per serving (which is 1/3 cup, equal to three servings as the total of the pouch), with 9 grams of fat. Amazingly, only one of those grams is saturated fat (that’s the bad kind). PB & J is 140 calories per serving, with this bag’s serving size being 1/4 cup for some reason. Neither flavor has any cholesterol or trans fat (which is the really unhealthy fat).

In terms of vitamins, they both have their share, while the pizza flavor actually has a slight edge in that department. What about those alleged neurotransmitters the front of the package boasts? “Proprietary cognitive blend”, choline and L-Glutamine acid are your main players here, so just what exactly are these mysterious elements? In the “blend”, you have magnesium phosphate dibasic, choline bitartrate, ascorbic acid, vitamin E acetate, L-glutamic acid, beta carotene, and niacinamide (you can learn about all of their benefits on the official Gamer Grub site). Choline is a type of nutrient that improve mental functions such as cognition, memory, intelligence, motivation, attention, and concentration. The L-glutamic acid is a neurotransmitter that also helps your focus and learning, so combined, these actually should make you a better player (at least while you are eating them) as opposed to scarfing down greasy chips or cookies.

But here is the most important part of this review – what does these taste like? Quite honestly, they are both pretty darn tasty! The pizza one has a hint of tomato flavor in every bite, along with those cheese curls to mimic your average pizza flavored snack. However, the pita chips add a nice crunch to it, along with those nuts that balance it out and make it a much healthier alternative to a real pizza, minus the oily fingers and lethargic feeling that comes with it after you are done with your slice.

Unlike it’s savory counterpart, the PB & J flavor is much sweeter, hitting you with a strong jelly smell as soon as you rip the top off the pouch. This is definitely a dessert kind of snack, with the tasty little “sweet bread” pieces dominating it. The candied strawberry and chewy strawberry jellies are quite good when sandwiched with those sweet breads to balance them out, along with the peanut butter chips. The problem here was that this bag was dominated by sweet bread pieces. There were more strawberries in the bag, but they sank to the bottom due to their weight, so give the bags a good mix before opening them, otherwise you will end up with the picture above.

What about the greasy finger issue that the front of the bag claimed would not be a problem? The PB & J flavor is completely greaseless, and barely even needs a napkin after you are done picking through them. The pizza flavor is the problematic one here. While, yes, it is not greasy, your fingers will be coated with the pizza seasoning, so you will still need a napkin handy to wipe your fingers off. However, it still is not greasy, so your controller will remain un-lubricated other than that of your own sweat. Instructions on the top of each pouch suggest you simply use the bag itself as the way to feed yourself, and doing that will definitely keep your hands clean, but it will also make you look like a complete and utter slob (if you care about that).

If you are looking for a new snack that is not so terrible for your body, Gamer Grub could quickly become your new favorite. Each bag costs $2.99 from Thinkgeek, with a three-pack of each flavor costing $7.99. While thinkgeek currently does not carry it, there is also a BBQ and s’mores flavor, which I am now dying to try. I would say buy in bulk and give both flavors a try – you will be hooked after your first taste!

You might also like our reviews of the “Star Wars Han Solo Carbonite Chocolate Bar” Review and our “Star Wars Han Solo Carbonite Ice Cube Tray” Review!

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Zombie Apocalapyse Essentials: Hornady Zombie Max Ammo

 

Welcome back for another installment of Zombie Apocalypse Essentials. This time we’re looking at ammunition. Not just any old bullets, mind you, but Zombie Max 9mm rounds from Hornady. Before we get started, though, take a quick look at this epic commercial for the aforementioned handgun rounds and get acquainted with this groundbreaking product.

Sure, the commercial looks impressive, but one has to wonder how the Zombie Max compares to your everyday run of the mill round. Not to fret, fellow nerds, I got my hands on these living dead stoppers last week, blew off some steam at the local shooting range, and am here to report to you on all you need to know about this potential lifesaver. So, is it legit or is it just an over-priced gimmick?

From their website:

Hornady is known for making high quality, accurate, dependable ammunition. Zombie Max ammunition is no exception. Each round is loaded with a special, neon green, polymer-tipped Z-Max bullet that delivers devastating expansion and was specifically designed for zombie elimination. You never know when the impending zombie apocalypse will begin, so make sure you’re prepared with extra magazines and bugout bags stuffed full of this effective zombie specific ammunition.

Right off the shelf, the Hornady Zombie Max ammo grabs your attention with the stellar artwork on the box, something altogether too uncommon at your local gun shop. From zombie eyes and blood splatter to zombie silhouettes staggering toward you, the graphics on the box are the work of a standout marketing exec. Open the flap to gain access to the live ammo and you’re greeted with the following statement: Hornady: Certified Zombie Ammunition. Pointless, but nonetheless humorous.

Continue opening the package to reveal twenty-five rounds of brain splattering goodness. The ammo I used was 115 grain, 9mm Luger, Z-Max bullets. I loaded a few magazines and went to town. There was no added recoil from shooting this ammo nor was there any noticeable difference in the mechanical operation of the gun. However, the same cannot be said for the poor targets being shot. Instead of just getting pumped full of lead or spilling its contents from a flesh wound like most ammo, the Zombie Max penetration made a slightly larger hole at the point of impact  on the one target and completely exploded the bottom of a water bottle that just moments prior was full of life saving hydration.

After about thirty minutes of shooting, I feel it safe to say that the specialty ammo is a gimmick that performs well under fire. All rounds did what you would expect them to do, destroy what they hit. When the price is more than twice what you would reasonably pay for double the amount of non-zombie rounds, you may want to consider only buying one box. When the SHTF, it’s not going to matter if you’ve got Z-Max or Tampax, as long as you can sever the brain stem you can live to fight another day. Until then, your one box will be pretty cool to have around, if only for a conversation starter when your friends come over to go over the bugout drill.

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