Hot Toys, makers of amazingly realistic 1:6 scale action figures, sent out a photo this week of their next great undertaking, and what a project it will be. Coming straight from the new Christopher Nolan blockbuster, “Dark Knight Rises”, Hot Toys unveiled the initial working shots of the new Batwing plane to be seen in the upcoming film.
Hot Toys has said this will be their largest project ever, dwarfing even their 1:6 scale Tumbler from the last Batman movie and their soon-to-be-released Batmobile from the 1989 Tim Burton version of “Batman”. As to just how big this vehicle will end up being, keep in mind that what you see in this photo is purely the cockpit section, which is nowhere near representative of the epic wingspan this beast will surely have.
What will the price point be for this massive toy? Your guess is as good as mine, but considering the cost of their previous enormous vehicles, this is definitely going to be mighty close to $1,000 USD, if not being that much. The big question collectors have to ask themselves now is how are they going to display such a lofty collectible, and how many arms and legs of themselves will have to sell just to be able to afford it?
Hey, militia of the NerdNewsToday – want to win some sweet swag? Of course you do!
Thanks to the fine folks at Anchor Bay, I am giving two lucky fans each a copy of “The Aggression Scale” on blu-ray. The movie is coming off a successful buzz-creating midnight world premiere at the 2012 SXSW Film Festival. The Aggression Scale is a unique take on the home invasion thriller with two teenagers confronting some heavily armed bad guys who are looking for stolen cash, leading to a bloody battle of wits and will. Directed by Steven C. Miller (Scream of the Banshee), the film stars, Dana Ashbrook (“Twin Peaks”), Derek Mears (Friday the 13th, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) and Ray Wise (“Twin Peaks,” “Reaper”).
When out-on-bail mob boss Bellavance (Ray Wise of ”Reaper”) discovers that $500,000 of his money is missing, he sends four hardcore hit men to send a ”loud and messy” message to the suspected thieves’ families. But when the killers invade the Rutledge home, they’ll meet the household’s emotionally disturbed young son Owen (Ryan Hartwig). Owen has a history of violent behavior, knows how to make lethal booby-traps and is about to teach these thugs some deadly lessons in extreme vengeance. Fabianne Therese co-stars in the savage thriller that stunned midnight audiences at the 2012 SXSW Film Festival and IndieWire called ”like HOME ALONE with more death!”
So, how do you win a copy of The Aggression Scale on blu-ray? Simple, all you have to do is tweet to your friends on Twitter to follow my Twitter account to win, using the hashtag #NerdNewsToday to make sure I see your entry. Here is an example:
“Follow @NerdNewsToday for the best video game, comics, movies & toy news. Join the #nerdvolution”
Feel free to get creative with it too, as long as you have my account and hashtag, you are entered to win! If you want to increase your chances, have those same new followers tweet me back and let me know who sent them to join me. You can enter as many times as you want – the more, the merrier. The contest begins now and goes until June 3. As Picard would say, engage!
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!
I used to watch the first “dot hack” series that used to air in the early days of Toonami’s Midnight Run on Cartoon Network. Back then, it was the first series, “.hack//”, and since then, the world has grown and expanded into quite a huge playing field. Funimation recently released the newest OVA from the series, “.hack//Quantum”, which I caught on the Funimation channel (back when I still had it… I’m looking at you, Verizon Fios!). Not knowing much about it, I saw some bizarre armored tuxedo cat that was incredibly adorable, and I had to see what this madness was about. Long story short, I came for the cat, but I stayed for the story.
“.hack//Quantum” is the story of three players in the MMORPG called “The World R:X”. Sakuya, Tobias, and Mary are adventuring, when a twist of fate gets Sakuya stuck in a bad situation of a mistaken identity. She runs into Hermit the Cat, and the world suddenly starts to get a lot more interesting, especially when this kitty has the power to make things disappear with his magical stick. Back in the real world, however, when players run into the living undead in the game and are defeated by them, they are feeling real consequences, including comas and death. What is the cause of this, and who is this mysterious kitty? You will have to watch this three episode OVA for the answers to those questions?
This is the first OVA project (other than the computer animated movie) to not be animated by Bee Train Productions, nor directed by Koichi Mashimo. Instead, Masaki Tachibana helmed the project, with Kinema Citrus animating the film along with Bandai Visual. For me, not being a seriously devoted fan to the series to begin with, I can not attest for a dip or upgrade in quality of any kind with the old guard not involved in it. I can say that i was captivated by the characters and the intriguing story, and especially the lush environments and animation.
I was very impressed with the artwork and style, as well as how they were able to capture the feel of a fantasy-based MMORPG that is represented in this series. Fluid movements and some subtle expression changes, especially with Hermit the Cat, companied with gorgeous landscapes and cityscapes that feel vast and have a real physical weight to them. Things feel grounded and part of their environment, which is very important in being sucked into this world.
The CG is incorporated smoothly into the show and does not stick out like a sore thumb. Rather, it is well integrated into the aesthetics of the show and very well-done. There are great group shots across the entire OVA that were rendered with CG that do not look like faceless mobs of generic people, but rather are all independent and unique. Many of the larger monsters or enemies are also CG, and look far better this way than they would have if they were hand-drawn, especially with their sheer size and movement. The third episode features the most prominent use of CG in the OVA, and it fits the feel of the show while adding some intense movement that would have been otherwise impossible, or absurdly expensive, to produce.
This DVD set is loaded with extras, including some animated shorts called “Go, our Chim Chims!!” The chim chim’s, which are practically eggplant versions of the characters in the OVA, give educational lessons on the world of Quantum to catch new viewers up, and to refresh established fans. There is also three segments hosted by the effervescent and far-too-cute for American TV’s, Yui Ogura (who was the voice of Hermit in the Japanese version). Her features include a cooking segment where she makes a charaben in the shape of Hermit the cat, another where she learns how to animate, and a bizarre quiz show segment which does not really have any relevance to this set as it was made exclusively for the Japanese DVD.
Beyond those segments, you also get the original commercial, trailers, and Japanese promotional videos for the series.
During my research for this DVD, I came upon some negative reviews of the show itself, with some critics calling it a rehash of other stories from the series. As a casual dot hack fan, this was not an issue, and since I am not familiar with the rest of the series, I can not speak on if this feels repetitive to the other episodes. I can say, as a stand-alone movie, it’s a fine piece of work and I enjoyed the experience. There were some twists, some turns, and my minimum knowledge of the series did not affect me from having trouble understanding what the show (or their environment) was about. I believe that is one of the strongest parts of this OVA, is that a newcomer to the series can dive in, and thanks to some carefully placed dialogue here and there, grasp the concept of the show and the universe the characters live in.
You can order .hack//Quantum: Complete OVA Series (Blu-ray/DVD Combo) from Amazon.com for around $16, which is totally worth it. While I do not have a blu-ray player just yet, it looks brilliant on DVD, so I can only imagine how great it looks at a higher resolution. If you have never tried anything from the dot hack series before, this OVA is a good gateway to get you interested and potentially hooked.
Godzilla: Kaiju World Wars is a 2-4 player competitive board game based off of the Godzilla franchise made by Toy Vault. Players take on the roll of four fan-favorite giant monsters, the titular Godzilla, Rodan, Gigan, and King Ghidorah, as they battle across different cities in a race to cause the most destruction.
While the game is far from perfect, it has a unique and striking sense of aesthetics that the players are immersed in from the time they open the box. Everything about Godzilla: Kaiju World Wars is well-designed from a visual perspective. Regardless of any other aspects of this game, hard core fans of the series and some of the more dedicated board game enthusiasts might find Kaiju World Wars a worthwhile buy just because of how neat looking everything is.
The first thing a player is going to go for when they unpack the box is also the crown jewel of the design: the monsters themselves. The four figurines are probably the best looking mass-produced pieces in any board game out there. There’s something viscerally juvenile about the figures that forces people to click them together while making roaring sounds. The cartoonish qualities of the monsters plays very well with the rest of the game’s aesthetics.
Destroying the board is a fundamental mechanic of Kaiju World Wars. The game provides several “scenarios” with different goals and victory conditions. But, in all rules of play, crushing buildings and setting the scenery on fire is necessary to achieve success. Wanton destruction is very satisfying when combined with the game’s visuals. A destroyed building can be flipped over to indicate that it is now “rubble” and, on the rubble side are footprints that the monster can stand in, meaning players actually act out the trampling of buildings.
The rubble feature is just one of many beautiful details that make the game have a high fidelity look and feel.
For a game with such an eye for detail in the aesthetic department, the rules and the way the game teaches players are highly slapdash. Actually figuring out how to play is a long and confusing process even for veteran board game enthusiasts. Kaiju World Wars is not in any way friendly for casual players.
The problem isn’t that the rules of the game are terribly complex, but the game itself gives the player no help in figuring them out. The instruction manual seems to gloss over major points while belaboring details that seem unimportant. This is largely because most of the rules and mechanics of Kaiju World Wars are printed on a deck of “info cards” kept with the game pieces. The information the player needs to know is scattered between the manual and the cards without rhyme or reason, and the info cards are not packaged where the player has to look at them, first. It’s easy to get thoroughly frustrated with the game before even noticing that the cards have vital data on them.
The combat rules in the game are broken into “Basic” and “Advanced.” Presumably these two sets of rules are to allow an easier transition for players trying to learn the game. But, in practice, Kaiju World Wars is hard to figure out, no matter what. The Advanced rules simply provide a greater amount of differentiation between the monster characters. There will never be a reason to play the Basic rules.
Once the players have the game sauced out, Kaiju World Wars works best four players. As previously mentioned, the game book provides different scenarios with different rules, goals, and number of players. But the most generic scenario, which also happens to be the most fun, will get the most use and runs best with four.
While the more specialized scenarios have pre-designed city setups to play the game with, the basic scenario allows the players to redesign the board each time. The buildings, parks, icons, and military vehicles are split between the players who are allowed to place them down wherever they like.
The board-building process is a huge and unexpected bonus of Kaiju World Wars. The building pieces are each single levels that fit on top of one another, with complete buildings between one and four stories in height. Since any player can build up on what any other player has put down, one person can turn a one-story building into a four-story building and greatly alter the strategic importance of that part of the board before the game begins.
Once players start to get a feel for what to do in the game, the building of the city becomes the most engaging part of play: making the city’s imminent destruction all the more cathartic.
Even with the entertainment involved in building the board, Kaiju World Wars does not have the same infinite replay value of a game like Carcassonne or Settlers of Catan. Hard core board game enthusiasts who are not specifically Godzilla fans will likely only bust this game out every now and then when they meet a friend who has never played it.
The level of complexity in figuring out the game generally doesn’t make it good for the younger end of its target audience. It’s hard to imagine anyone under 14 actually having the patience to play by the rules. So, while younger kids may appreciate how good the game looks, they’ll probably get more use out of a toy.
Kaiju World Wars has some great ideas and is a fun game to play once it gets started, but it lacks mass appeal. Consider this a game strictly for Godzilla fans and avid board game players.
You have to hand it to Funimation – those folks know how to find some darn good anime. Case in point, the anime adaptation of the popular romantic comedy manga, “Princess Jellyfish.” Produced by Brain’s Base and directed by Takahiro Omori, this anime garnered a ton of attention when it first came out, but this reviewers luster for anime had fizzled out back then. Only recently, thanks to getting the Funimation channel on cable tv (Verizon, bring back Funimation!), my spark was lit once more, and I got hooked on Princess Jellyfish. The question is, will other readers get into it, or is this rom-com not worth the hype? Let’s take a look and find out!
Nerdy and bespectacled eighteen year-old Tsukimi Kurashita is a resident of Amamizukan, a modern-day nunnery to a group of Otaku girls whose group they refer to as “the sisterhood.” All of the ladies are socially inept and obsessed with various things, such as Tsukimi’s craziness for jellyfish, Mayaya’s lust for all things “Records of the Three Kingdoms” merchandise, or Jiji’s insatiable desire for old men. All of the girls are virgins, and have never dated a man, let alone talk to one.
One night after a depressing failed trip to Harajuku, Tsukimi laments by checking in on a jellyfish friend at a pet store that she named Clara. Unfortunately, the jellyfish is threatened by a species that can kill Clara, forcing Tsukimi to attempt to speak to a “stylish boy” that is running the store. Shoved out of the store for her awkwardness, Tsukimi bounds into a beautiful living Barbie doll named Kuranosuke, who helps Tsukimi rescue the jellyfish by using her sexuality to force the clerk to give them the sea creature. Kuranosuke invites herself over to the nunnery for the night, and when Tsukimi awakens, she learns the truth – Kuranosuke is actually a boy in drag!
This is simply the starting point of an eleven episode series that takes plenty more twists and turns as it progresses, introducing more characters and stories of star-crossed lovers and love triangles with nothing but weird situations. This wacky cast of geeks, freaks, and “stylish” people clash and combine as the saga moves along, leaving viewers wondering what will happen next (and sadly, I can not say too much without giving away huge spoilers).
Maxie Whitehead, who some fans will recognize as the new voice of Alphonse Elric in the Fullmetal Alchemist series, is simply exceptional as the voice of Tsukimi. You can not help but to fall in love with her in the english dub, which I actually preferred over the original Japanese track, mainly because of Whitehead’s performance. Josh Grelle as Kuranosuke also stands out, playing both the role of a man and woman with subtlety and easily transitioning between the two, especially as the character becomes more complex as the series continues. The entire cast is perfect in both versions, but this is one of those series that I can honestly recommend to check out in english since it carries over very strongly.
The story is what really sells “Princess Jellyfish”, and while I am far from a fan of romantic comedies, I could not help but be enamored by this series. Maybe it was because I could identify with Tsukimi in some ways, or maybe it was just that the show really was that damn good, but I was hooked halfway through the first episode before the first major plot twist even happened.
“Princess Jellyfish” is available in a DVD and Blu-Ray combo pack, and contains a ton of special features on them. Aside from some trailers, you also get commentary on the first and final episodes of the show with some of the english voiceover actors, and textless versions of the incredibly catchy songs from the opening and closing credits.
In addition to those, you get these other special features:
Princess Jellyfish Heroes – A four-part mini-series of 4-5 minute long backup stories that chronicles the other Otaku girls in Amamizukan, diving deeper into who they are and their obsessions, and are just generally fun
Go, Sisterhood Explorers! – A six-part mini-series of 30 second shorts done in a more simiplistic animation style of the girls from the nunnery trekking through a jungle. Nothing important to plot development here, but it’s some good fun nonetheless.
Tsukimi and Jiji’s Octopus Tour – A 22-minute live action short featuring the Japanese voice-actors of Jiji and Tsukimi going to an aquarium to learn about jellyfish. Educational aspects aside, the ladies are pretty cute, so that’s a good reason to watch.
The Princess Jellyfish Field Guide, which runs down the various jellyfish species in the series
This boxed set is a must-have for all anime fans, and can even transition to the broader spectrum of non-anime fans (since they do exist out there, the sad mortals). “Princess Jellyfish” has quickly become one of my favorites of all time, and you will not be addicted to this series by the end of the first episode. No spoilers here, but by the end of the last episode, you will be screaming for more, and I genuinely hope we do get a sequel, but you’ll have to watch the series to understand why!
Released in Japan in 2009 and brought to America courtesy of Funimation, “Summer Wars” tells the story of high school student Kenji Koiso, who excels at math, and is working for Oz during the Summer. Imagine if the social and gaming aspects of Facebook combined with banks, stores, and every other facet of life from hospitals to electricity, and there you have Oz. Natsuki, the girl of his dreams, invites Kenji to join her for a week at her family’s home to celebrate her grandmother’s 90th birthday, but little does he know he must pretend to be her boyfriend while he is there. On his first night over, Kenji’s Oz account is hacked by someone called “Love Machine,” and things quickly go awry for not just Kenji, but the entire planet as every human being is connected to Oz. The family soon comes together and overcomes various adversities to take on Love Machine and save the planet, even if they are just one family against a powerful hacker… and that is as much as I can say without spoiling things.
The first time I saw “Summer Wars” was on the Funimation Channel, and while I missed the beginning and just started towards the middle of the second act, I was completely enamored and hooked. The animation is gorgeous and smooth, with vibrant colors that take you from the quiet nature of the Japanese countryside, to the hustle and bustle of the cyber world of Oz. Watching it on TV, I saw the dubbed version, which I still loved due to some great voice-over acting from an experienced cast.
The film was directed by Mamoru Hosoda, who also directed The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, The Digimon movie, and several others, as well as animating other prolific series through his career. Hosoda helmed the ship at Madhouse for this film, and has produced a great work of art. If the name “Madhouse” sounds familiar to you, it may be because they are also the creative team behind many other great titles, including Redline, Paranoia Agent, Rideback, Sakura Wars, Wicked City, and many of the Marvel Comics anime titles just to name a few of the dozens of animes they have made.
Breaking up the real-life scenes is that world of Oz, which is where the creativity of Madhouse truly shines. Thousands of unique creatures habituate in this online universe, each one with their own animated character. Most of the action happens in this place as well, including the fight scenes with Love Machine and the family, which are spectacular, exciting, and dramatic. There is a real sense of tension and urgency in these scenes, translated with what is happening back in the real world, on a level that few animes can capture without going over the top.
Funimation put out a two-disc DVD (or Blu-Ray) set of Summer Wars, and both are filled with goodies. The first disc features the full-length film with your choice of dubbing or subtitled film, as well as the option to hear a commentary with the english voice-acting team. Disc two features all of the special features, which include trailers and TV spots, and interviews with the original Japanese voice-over actors, as well an enlightening interview with Hosoda himself. While the trailers are no big deals, the interviews are interesting and shed some info on how the actors approached their characters, and discuss the depth of the film, while the director talks about filmmaking and how Summer Wars went from a concept into a masterpiece.
The DVD set also comes with four art cards inside, that feature the avatars of some of the characters in the film. The cards are double-sided, so you are technically getting eight cards, depending on how you want to look at it.
Summer Wars won several awards including the 2010 Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year, the 2010 Japan Media Arts Festival’s Animation Division Grand Prize, and the Anaheim International Film Festival’s Audience Award for Best Animated Feature. Is it any wonder they won so many with this piece of work? Summer Wars is a great film on multiple levels, and while the satire of social networks is at the forefront, at the end of the day is about family ties, and just how strong one family can be. Amazing animation, great voice acting, and an original script combine for one masterpiece of a film that I could not give a higher recommendation to.
Japanese figure and statue-maker extraordinaire, Kotobukiya, was at NY Toy Fair 2012, showing off some goods from earlier in the year, as well as what is new for this year.
Koto unveiled new statues from Star Wars (including Darth Maul and Darth Vader), Batman, Superman, and their Bishojou line, with sexy anime statues of Miss Marvel, Harley Quinn, Power Girl, Black Widow, Black Cat, and many more. Plus, magnetic Darth Maul chopsticks and awesome Star Wars ice cube trays! Lastly, check out the world debut of the new Mass Effect bishojou statue, which features a ball jointed neck for the character, a first for their line.
High-end sculpting at consumer prices is what makes NECA so great for collectors, and at NY Toy Fair 2012, the company impressed all with their latest offerings.
NECA unveiled plenty of new items this year from their video game licenses, including Gears of War, Team Fortress 2, Bioshock, and Assassin’s Creed. The toymakers also showed off their continuing movie line, featuring ET, Aliens, Predator, Robocop, Jason Voorhees, Freddy Kreuger, and their brand new Rocky figures. Take a look at that figure of Mr. T and tell me you don’t get chills!
Check out the full photo gallery below!
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