Star Wars merchandise has always been unusual. The license has been used by so many companies to make great things like books and action figures, and more unique items like chopsticks and cookie jars. Made by Kotobukiya, the “Star Wars Han Solo Carbonite Ice Cube tray” is one of those more peculiar items, and today we are going to take a look at this novelty item and see if it is worth spending your hard-earned cash on.
The silicone rubber tray measures six inches long and four and 1/4 inches top to bottom, with the small spots for the cubes just under half-an-inch deep and the large spot under 3/4″ deep. The underside of the tray has flat portions where the molds are, to ensure that your ice cubes retain the shape of Han Solo without being crushed by the interior of your freezer.
I was curious about any multi-purpose uses for this ice cube tray, like using it as a mold for chocolate. However, it is recommended that you not use hot liquids in this since it may warp the shape of the tray. More importantly, who knows what chemical reactions might be caused from the heat with the rubber, so even if you made a chocolate mold of Han Solo without ruining the tray, you might be poisoning yourself instead. On the plus side, your epitaph would be “Han shot first.” I can not condone it, but I will investigate further using this as a mold, but if you really want a chocolate Han, you might as well buy one from ThinkGeek directly!
I filled the tray up with water and stuck it in the freezer to see how long it would take to freeze. If you are in a rush to use this ice in a short time frame, it should be noted that the larger slot will take at least twice as long as the other slots to completely freeze solid, but within an hour or more, all the spots should be ready to go (unless you feel like setting your freezer from the medium level to a higher one).
Here we are once everything was frozen! The ice cubes perfectly pick up the tiny likeness of Harrison Ford, although with water it will be harder to see this. In later photos, I used red gatorade to make the image easier for you to see. I was surprised by how well the detail looks on these tiny ones, and especially on the larger ice cube. This is definitely Han Solo in carbonite in ice form. I imagine this is what the bartender in the Mos Eisley cantina puts in his cold drinks, or would have if he was not from a time long, long ago.
Using the red gatorade, the detail becomes a bit clearer. The problem with freezing plain water is that you will get “freezer burn” which will make your ice more opague. Colored water will make Han be more visible, and I recommend using that instead of uncolored water. The cubes, or ice rectangles to be more accurate, easily pop out thanks to the soft silicone tray, meaning you don’t need to get rough with the tray to yank them out after they have froze.
Overall, this is a fun novelty item with a lot of uses. If you like to throw parties, the Han Solo ice cube tray will be a great conversation-starter, especially with its two different sizes, and be a cute addition to alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages.
This tray sells for $10 on ThinkGeek at this link here, and makes for a perfect stocking-stuffer, gift for an office party, or something for your favorite Star Wars fan. I give this two thumbs up for the fun factor and practicality of this far-fetched item. If only they had a book on how to make Star Wars-themed mixed drinks to complete this item…
One of the more obscure characters, as well as rarer figures, from the original “Masters of the Universe” line was Scareglow. This living skeleton was just as buff as Skeletor, which made less sense considering he was supposed to be a ghost made of muscle and bone. No one questioned things like this in the 1980’s, it just seemed right. Here in the 21st century, things like this have become even more awesome.
Matty Collector re-released their take on Scareglow for their “Masters of the Universe Classics” line, giving him quite the upgrade from his original toy, as well as making him easier to find. Today, we are reviewing this MOTUC version of Scareglow, who according to the packaging is an “Evil skeleton serving Skeletor,” to see if he was worth reviving for the line, or better off dead. Continue reading “Scareglow” MOTUC Action Figure Review→
With mankind just years away from when Cyberdyne’s machines will become self-aware and oppress humanity, we still have some time to enjoy neat little gadgets to entertain ourselves with. Smartphones, which will undoubtedly be the generals in the war against the machines, are quickly replacing many handheld devices with it’s ability to multi-task. Plus, you can play some pretty decent games on them!
Many of these smartphones have touch screens, making gaming a very unique experience. However, some games were not meant to be played with your greasy fingers on a screen, and require another means of control. ThinkGeek has solved that issue by creating their “Joystick-It” Smartphone Arcade Stick, which attaches to your touch-screen smartphone to change your gaming experience.
Back on Cyber Monday 2011, Matty Collector did a huge four-day long sale on their site for many older figures from their various toy lines. Not one to miss out on this opportunity, I stayed up until 3 AM EST to make sure I could grab what I wanted before the pirates and scalpers swooped in to devour the available toys. My bloodshot eyes and ruined sleep-cycle proved worth it, as I came out of the sale with a few figures I had wanted for some time.
One of those figures was Orko, “The Heroic Court Magician,” who was an exclusive figure from San Diego Comic Con 2010. He came in two versions, one a plain version of Orko, and the other a special translucent version. Today, we are looking at the ordinary Orko, but nothing is ordinary about this figure. In addition to Orko, one of his accessories is a full-sized figure of Prince Adam, so enjoy this review of two figures in one! Continue reading “Orko” MOTUC Action Figure Review→
When I first reported about this Han Solo Carbonite Chocolate Bar, I was head over heels for the concept. Star Wars + Chocolate= Amazing. The centerpiece of the Star Wars universe could now be the main event in my dessert of sugary cocoa cravings! Man, this smuggler really does get around.
The fine folks over at ThinkGeek were cool enough to send me a bar for me to try out and review, so that I could pass on the info to all of my hungry readers. The idea is great, but how is the execution on this treat? Is this nothing more than a quick sugar rush, or is this packed with levels of deliciousness, the magnitude of which you can not repel? Take a look at the review and find out for yourself! Continue reading “Star Wars Han Solo Carbonite Chocolate Bar” Review→
Thundercats are on the loose once again in 2011, with their Cartoon Network reboot holding strong against the competition. Ban Dai has been making the figures from this show, and earlier this year decided to throw their hat into the nostalgic adult-collector world by creating their “Thundercats Classic” series. Sadly, the line has been cut short after only two figures were produced, Lion-O and Tygra, but more on that later.
It truly is depressing since the figure we are reviewing today, Lion-O is probably the best action figure of the year for me! I am not a hardcore Thundercats fan, although I did grow up with the series, but this toy very well might make me a changed person. What makes this action figure so great that I have given it that illustrious award? Read on and find out!
Packaging: Unlike his four-inch counterparts from the rebooted series, the packaging on this classic figures is more like a showcase box. At nine inches tall, it is an impressive looking package and focuses more on verticality rather than stuffing things horizontally so it can better fit on racks in stores. You get a clear view of everything that comes with the figure, as well as the many joints of it as well.
Taking him out of package will require more attention the four-inch figures, since the sides of the box have slits that are taped up in several spots. Once you get through the tape, you will be greeted by more tape holding some of the accessories in place. Keeping the figure itself in the package are five plastic strings (not twisty-ties, but plastic strings). Unlike twisty-ties, you can just cut these out of the plastic, but getting a pair of scissors in that tight space is a bit of a chore. I found the quickest way to get them out was to use the scissors to cut into the case itself, then gently pop the strings out.
Sculpting: This is Lion-O as we all know and love him. His mane caught in that bizarre windstruck pose (that, or he uses more hair gel than everyone on “The Jersey Shore”), his stoic muscular frame, right down to that cleft-chin of his. Lion-O has an iconic look of his own, just like He-Man or a GI Joe character, and this figures sculpt captures that feel to the tee.
It’s not a character that lends itself to much detail to begin with, but Ban Dai has paid attention to every minute aspect of the character to make this the definitive Lion-O figure. The beauty here is in the simplicity, since the character was one that had to be mass-produced back when cartoons were still hand-drawn (remember those times). This figure is exactly the way Lion-O looked in the original show, and just plain feels right.
Paint: Much of the figures good looks comes via the paint job on it. Ban Dai is not known for highly-detailed paint jobs like McFarlane toys, but for doing a very simple look done right. Lion-O does not have much fanciness to him to begin with, but what Ban Dai has done is made this figure feel like it was torn straight off of an animation cel.
There is a little sloppiness around the edges of his hair near his face, but it is nothing earth shattering and nothing else suffers from that issue. The cartoony appearance of Lion-O is dead-on here, and small nuances like painting his belt with a shinier paint add to that feeling. Most of the figure here is molded plastic anyway, so there is not much to paint, but what there is looks fine all-around and screams Lion-O.
Accessories: This classic figure includes a spare set of hands, the fully extended Sword of Omens, and the sword in dagger form. You could also count the Claw Shield as an accessory, so Lion-O is ready for action no matter what the situation. The sculpting on all of these pieces is on par with the rest of the figure, and maintains the style of the retro series completely.
The sword and dagger are made from sturdy plastic, although the blade of the sword can be a bit wonky (easily fixed by just flattening it out for a few minutes). The coolest part about the dagger is that it fits into the Claw Shield, just like in the cartoons.
There is also a handle attached to his belt, which allows you to easily slip the Claw Shield into it for easier carrying if you want to use his plain hands.
Lion-o is loaded with accessories, which includes an additional pair of hands, and the sword of omens in two sizes – dagger form and fully-extended form.
Playability: Lion-O is beyond flexible! I did not get as creative as I could have with my poses in the photos, but this figure can hold just about any pose because of his many joints, and the type of body he possesses. There are many other ball-jointed figures on the market, but due to various reasons (like molded clothes or body types), the figures are not as poseable as they should be. Ban Dai is great at making figures highly articulated without losing the integrity of the character, and Lion-o is a great example of that.
Lion-O has a whopping 25 points of articulation, meaning he can be posed in nearly any stance, no matter how dynamic, and still stay balanced. If you want him to be slashing at Mumm-Ra with one hand while pushing away Skeletor with his other as he climbs up the steps of Castle Greyskull, he can do that. If you want Lion-O to do a German Suplex to one of your pro wrestling figures, he can do that. The only limit is your imagination, and for a kid, that means there are no limits to how much fun they can have with him.
The downside of so many joints, especially the kind that Ban Dai uses, is that they can wear out with use a bit faster than other figures (I know from experience). But, if you keep your posing of him down to a minimum, he will last many years on your shelf. If you buy this for a child, it might get loose over time, but that will probably make things more fun for them anyway.
Final Verdict: I started this review by calling it the potential figure of the year, and I stand by that. As a fan of Mattel’s adult collector lines, such as “Masters of the Universe” and “Ghostbusters,” Lion-O does not reach the level of sculpting prowess that they have attained. However, what Ban Dai has done masterfully is capture the look, feel, and energy of the original series, put it into an action figure, and made the perfect blend of a toy for both adults and collectors. Best of all, their price point matches that, as this figure has a suggested retail price of around $16, and unlike Matty Collector toys, you can find this in brick-and-mortar stores.
It’s sad to see this line discontinued so early on, especially when they only released Tygra to accompany him. Fret not, as Ban Dai is forging ahead in 2012 by reviving this line, but now in six-inch size so that they will be perfectly compatible with Mattel’s MOTUC line and other high-end collector figures. The plus side is, once again, you can find them in stores and for much cheaper than what Mattel charges.
2012 is the the 30th anniversary of MOTU, so the pressure is on for Ban Dai to compete with their nostalgic line of “Thundercats Classics,” and if they can keep this quality up with their new figures, I think Matty is going to have some serious trouble on their hands.
What is a cartoon show without a villain? He-man has Skeletor, GI Joe has Cobra (and GI Joe Extreme had S.K.A.R., but the less said about that the better), and the kids from Dungeons & Dragons had to deal with Venger. Meanwhile on Third Earth, the Thundercats dealt with an ancient mummy that could transform into a powerful monster named Mumm-Ra the Everliving.
In the reboot on Cartoon Network, Mumm-Ra has returned, looking more gruesome and powerful than ever. Of course, there is an action figure of this evil character, and today we are reviewing the mummified version from Ban Dai’s line of four-inch basic figures.
Packaging: Mumm’Ra’s package is simple and small. You get a clear look at what is underneath the plastic, and the graphics both on the backing and inside the plastic are attention-grabbing.
From the packaging, you can infer that this is not necessarily a line for adults to collect, but more for kids to open and play with. Thankfully, your kid can rip this open with relative ease, although there is a harder plastic bit on the bottom to make sure you don’t tear into it too hard that the pieces fly out of it, never to be found again.
The back of the figure includes a bio on the top half, and images of the other figures from this line on the bottom half, in a very colorful display. When you take Mumm-Ra out, you can see the famous two-snake emblem behind him.
Sculpting: Mumm-Ra has an easy but distinctive look to capture. Ban Dai got it right here, giving him that hideous face we have grown accustomed too, along with his slender bony fingers that would make Mr. Burns feel right at home.
Loose bandages hang off of his arms and legs, and are pretty thick for gauze. They are wider than Mumm-Ra’s fingers in fact. The character is hunched over with a nefarious look on his face, plotting something evil to unleash on the Thundercats. The way his hands are clutched gives him a wicked feeling, making for a very classic looking figure that captures just how powerful this old mummy truly is.
Paint: Mumm-Ra has only three shades of paint to worry about; blue, red, and the off-white color of his wraps. There is some slight sloppiness when it comes to the open parts of his wrapping that reveal his blue skin, and while his eye balls are painted, his pupil is not, so I hope Mumm-Ra plans on seeing an eye doctor about those burst blood vessels.
Everything else is a solid color, so not much more that I can say about the paint. The packaging shows him in more of a dull grey color rather than this dark blue he has been painted with, and I hope that Ban Dai goes back in at some point and re-releases a grey variant so we can have some uniformity with the color scheme of Mumm-Ra transformed. With Mumm-Ra’s cloak on, most of the issues I have with his paint disappear instantly, but the cloak is a story unto itself (see “Playability”).
Accessories: Mumm-Ra comes with a Shield Claw of his own, and a Dagger of Omens. The dagger barely fits in his hand, and loosely at that. It took some nestling to get it in there, and if you want to move him around, expect to see that weapon drop from his grasp pretty quickly.
The Claw Shield attaches to his wrist pretty easily, but the cloak makes it cumbersome to stay on for too long. The dagger fits conveniently into the shield, and stays there well enough, as long as you can find the sweet spot.
This figure also has a “Thunder Lynx” magnet in his hunchback, which allows him to interact with certain vehicles and playsets in this line as an added bonus. I do not have any of those items so I can not tell you what they do, but I can report that it blends into his back-hump and is totally hidden by his cloak anyway. We can count his cloak as an accessory too since it is removable, but without it, Mumm-Ra just looks like an average blue-faced mummy.
Mumm-Ra also comes with an enormous instruction sheet, which you can peek at in the photo gallery below. It explains how to do everything you ever wanted to know how to do with the figure, including how to put his cloak on, and how to use his action feature.
Playability: This is where Mumm-Ra falls disappointingly short. Mumm-Ra is not meant for action, with a mere six points of articulation. His head rotates around his neck, his shoulders go up and down, his wrists feebly rotate, and his waist turns. The end.
If this was my first figure in the Thundercats line, I would be totally turned off from buying others. Luckily, I know that the rest of the line has high articulation, but Mumm-Ra does not. Since the other figures have more mobility, it clearly is not an issue of size. So why does this mummy monster have such limited flexibility? No idea. He is also a bit unbalanced when his cloak is on, so much so that the entire weight of the figure is balanced using the end of his cape, leaving Mumm-Ra standing on the balls of his feet.
I suppose he is not meant to be agile anyway since he is a decrepit and ancient being. It’s not like Mumm-Ra goes charging into fights anyway without transforming first, and if he had more articulation, his classic hunched-over look would not work as well. So, I suppose we can forgive them for this since it works with the character, but I would not have minded elbow joints at least and maybe some moving ankles. Even their Ben 10 “Swampfire” figure had more joints and he was in a pretty fixed pose too.
Final Verdict: Mumm-Ra is not the strongest of the Thundercats figures in terms of playing with, and is too simplistic for hardcore collectors to get much out of. The appreciation I found with Mumm-Ra came from the nostalgic look of this creature, and even with his flaws, I still find myself enjoying this toy.
The price of Mumm-Ra is not steep at all, and while he is not nearly as cool as his transformed version, there is something captivating about the evil aura this toy gives off that makes him cool. He makes for a good desk decoration, but little kids might not enjoy him as much as adults.
You can pick up Mumm-Ra from Amazon.com for around $6-7, making him pretty much worth it on that price alone. He might not be the best that the Thundercats line has to offer, but he is still pretty neat at that size and fun to have around. And remember, Mumm-Ra is not a bad figure, he’s just evil.
Check out the gallery below for more shots of Mumm-Ra, the everliving!
Cartoon Network has been producing many great cartoon shows in the past few years for kids of all ages. One of their longest running franchises in recent times is “Ben 10,” the story is about young Ben Tennyson, his cousin Gwen, and their grandfather Max who discover a mysterious watch-like device called the Omnitrix during a camping trip. Like all 10 year old kids, Ben realizes the only course of action is to battle aliens and right the wrongs of the universe by transforming into aliens. It’s only logical.
It was not long before toys had to be made, and Ban Dai has been producing these figures since the show first debuted in 2005. Now, over six years later, the characters have all aged in real time and star in “Ultimate Alien,” where Ben now uses the Ultimatrix and transforms into even bigger and cooler aliens. Today, we look at one of those aliens.
“Ultimate Swampfire” is part of Ban Dai’s “Ben 10: Ultimate Alien” line, and first premiered on episode 53 in the episode, “Ben 10 Returns.” Hailing from the planet Methanos, Swampfire has pyrokinetic powers, a rotten scent, and a nasally voice, making him the Woody Allen of aliens. So, let’s dive in and take a closer look at this figure.
Packaging – Nothing too out of the ordinary here. Swampfire comes on your normal blister card, which is a very compact nine inches tall. There are no frills here, as it’s very economic packaging. Since these toys are intended for kids who are going to rip them open immediately, the main event is the figure itself which is given the most space on this box.
The back of the box features a look at the other figures in this line, as well as the “Disc Alien Ultimatrix,” which we will talk a bit more about later. A character bio would have been nice to see on the back, but again, being for younger kids (many of whom probably can not read yet) there is not much of a huge need for that. It’s pretty straight forward, and it serves its purpose of being a window for a child to see and scream “GIMME GIMME GIMME!”
Taking him out of the package was very easy too. No twisty-ties or rubber bands, just one plastic case that he pops right out of easily. The plastic is pretty thin, but the figure is well-protected and snug in his molded coffin.
Sculpting – Swampfire captures the style of the cartoon dead on. He could practically pass for a model that the animators would use for reference. The character design reminds me of “Holocaust” from Marvel Comics (remember him), but unlike that character, Swampfire is a more balanced looking figure. For someone like me who knows Ben 10 only in passing, I can still enjoy this unique looking creature, and can figure out what he is all about just from looking at him.
He might not be the most detailed figure compared to more realistic lines, but this is a cartoon which focuses on style more than realism. There is no variety in the texture of the figure other than some indents on the muddy section of his body, but the figure seems to be more about the color combinations than it does about fancy sculpting. It accomplishes what it sets out to do, and looks good doing it – simplicity, and some times, there is nothing wrong with that.
Paint – As I said above, I think this figure is more about color than it is about detail. One look at the cartoon show will tip you off to that, and this figure is very accurate in terms of its color. At it’s core, it’s a blue and green color scheme with black highlights, and it works together in unison very well.
I am happy to report that there is no slop around the edges or any blotches. The paint is smooth all over the toy and gives it that feel that it came right out of your TV screen.
Accessories – Swampfire comes with only one accessories, a mini-disc thing with his alien symbol. This disc goes into the Ultimatrix accessory that your child (or you, I’m not judging) wears on their wrist, where it then lights up and spins into action.
To use it, you nestle the character down into the disc, then release it to see him and his arms pop out. The disc looks nice enough on its own, but without the Ultimatrix, this accessory does nothing except get lost when you put it down.
Playability – Swampfire has nine points of articulation, many of those joints hidden nicely, while his knees do have blatantly visible pins. At four inches tall, this figure is great for a kid and will fit in with most other action figures in that scale like Star Wars or the upcoming four-inch Thundercats figures.
The toy is made from sturdy plastic and feels pretty solid, so I would not be worried about your youngling dropping it and smashing it into trillions of pieces. If they own the Ultimatrix, they will have tons of fun roleplaying with it, making the single accessory great for kids, not so much for collectors. Then again, how many collectors are hoarding Ben 10 toys?
Final Verdict – When I asked how many collectors hoard Ben 10 toys, I did not mean that in a negative tone. Far from it, as Ben 10 really is intended for kids to play with. I wish there were more toy lines like this, since it seems nowadays companies are more interested in the adult collectors than they are in entertaining children.
Ban Dai keeps the integrity of the franchise as well as a high play factor for kids. They are still great for collectors too, but this is a toy that was meant to have fun with. So if you buy one, make sure to get yourself one to take out of the package too.
Check out the gallery below to see more photos of “Swampfire”
The latest entry into the collection of Spider-Man video games is Shattered Dimensions, developed by Beenox and published by Activision. How does it stack up against previous entries in what has been, at best, a mediocre franchise?
In the early days, gamers had the likes of Maximum Carnage and Separation Anxiety that put them in the boots of Spider-Man and/or Venom. These early beat-em ups were fun at the time, and while you could web-sling, they didn’t really capture the feeling of freedom as you swing around New York City.
With the genesis of 3D gaming, Spider-Man came out for the PS One and the Nintendo 64. In this you could web-sling with a greater sense of how it would feel for Spider-Man, but it was still limited to a certain area, boxed in by the developers. This continues into the first Spider-Man movie game that was released for the GameCube, PS2 and X-Box.
With Spider-Man 2, Treyarch switched things up, allowing gamers to roam through an open-world New York City, swinging at will, provided your webs had something to which they could cling. The limitations were more natural, and the web-slinging had a much more natural, organic feel to it. Combat still left something to be desired, but it was tolerable. This same open-world mentality continued up to the last Spider-Man game, Web of Shadows. With Shattered Dimensions, however, that fun aspect of the Spider-Man games feels like it has taken a giant step backwards, though the way the game is set-up would make that open-world environment a bit more difficult to maintain.
The story behind Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions is that during a museum robbery, the Amazing Spider-Man (voiced by none other than Neil Patrick Harris) and Mysterio get into a fight and a mysterious stone tablet, the Tablet of Order and Chaos, gets broken by Spider-Man, causing a dimensional rift to form and the pieces to get scattered across different Spider-Man continuities: Amazing, Ultimate, 2099 and Noir. Each Spider-Man is voiced by a different voice actor as well, helping to aid in the idea of four separate Spider-Man identities.
Each Spider-Man has some of the same basic moves, but also has one or two unique aspects, as well. The Amazing Spider-Man is the most well-rounded, the Ultimate Spider-Man (in which Spider-Man has donned the black Symobiote Suit) is a bit stronger and better in melee, Spider-Man 2099 is better at dodging attacks, and Noir Spider-Man isn’t very good at straight forward fights, and is better off sticking to the shadows to take his enemies out.
The idea sounds like a lot of fun, but the execution is more than a little muddled. Each Spider-Man controls identically when it comes to swinging around and melee combat. The game itself is little more than button mashing combos into groups of baddies while occasionally dodging incoming projectiles.
The level designs and enemies are little more than repetitive palette swaps. Spider-Man tracks down a shard of the tablet, runs into a classic Spider-Man villain who has been made stronger by said shard, and chases them through a very linear level, all the while fighting off groups of baddies that the villain can create that share more than a few similarities with the baddie that spawned them.
Each level is the same formula with a different enemy from Spider-Man’s numerous Rogue Gallery. The only break in the monotony comes in the form of Noir Spider-Man’s levels, where stealth plays a bigger role.
Overall, there isn’t a lot to recommend a purchase for this game. It’s overall very mediocre at best, and there isn’t a whole lot of replay value. Each level does come with its own challenges that, when beaten, give you points to increase or enhance Spider-Man’s combat and character abilities. The challenges are even tracked, so you know which ones you’ve done and which ones you haven’t. Even with that, give this game a rental before a purchase. It’s not worth it.
I am a classic video game fanatic, but classic video games are not a fan of me. A retro video game is like a fine wine, aging with grace and dignity, and typically getting better with time. Their consoles, however, are more like that relative you locked up in a senior center and only visit on the day before major holidays (since why waste a holiday on a person who can’t even remember what year it is).
The frustration of attempting to play an old Nintendo game on its system knows no bounds. You can blow as much as you want in the cartridge, but if the system is just too old to work, you are wasting your breath. With older video game technology copyrights going up for grabs in the past few years, many “clone consoles” have popped up that offer you the ability to play older games on them, often two systems in one like the RetroDuo.
Then along came the retron 3, which offers not one, not two, but THREE different consoles in one! With this contraption, gamers can relive their favorite NES, SNES and Sega Genesis games in cartridge form. Many of its predecessors were mediocre, so how well does this system rank? Hit the jump and find out in the full review! Continue reading Review of Retron 3 NES/SNES/Genesis Triple Game System→
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