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Archive for February, 2017


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Along with Funko’s announcement earlier at London Toy Fair 2017 of a line of Kenner style ReAction figures and its famous Pops! bobbleheads, even more Twin Peaks tie-ins are on their way.  To help promote Showtime’s launch of the Twin Peaks sequel and reboot this year after a 25-year absence for this weekend’s New York Toy Fair, online superstore Entertainment Earth and toymaker Bif Bang Pow! have announced new Twin Peaks items every fan will be after.

Two lunch boxes will be available, inspired by classic tin versions popular in the 1950s through the 1970s.  You can get the “Welcome to Twin Peaks” style or a version featuring the famous Double ‘R’ Cafe (home of damned good coffee and cherry pie).  The “Welcome to Twin Peaks” lunch box features the wooden sign from the show introduction and images from the series.  The Double ‘R’ Cafe lunch box features the diner on the front and back, plus images of a cup of coffee, a slice of pie, and the TP emblem against a checkered tablecloth background under the handle.

A smaller tin tote will be available featuring the Black Lodge logo.  It holds a matching deck of playing cards.

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Another unique item is a 192-page hardcover writing journal based on Agent Dale Cooper’s trademark microcassette recorder–the one he used to record messages to Diane back at his office.

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melee

One of the great things about attending San Diego Comic-Con is being introduced to hundreds–if not thousands–of new characters you have never seen.  They come by way of cosplayers who have spent countless hours matching their wardrobe, armor, weapons, and other props to conjure well-known characters.  Many are mash-ups of multiple characters.  Some aren’t specific characters but evoke a time or place.  Rarer yet are costumes cosplayers just decide to make of their own creations.  It appears that it is this last group that will be featured on a new Syfy Channel series called Cosplay Meleé.   

After the break, check out a preview of the new series.  This is Syfy’s second foray into a cosplay-themed series.  The first was Heroes of Cosplay, a short-lived show that filmed professional and semi-professional cosplayers preparing to compete at various comic book and pop culture conventions across the U.S.  That show had the benefit of not being a Top Chef-variant series–viewers actually watched as the cosplayers built their costumes, usually based on characters from movies, TV, or anime, and they had the same time they would have in real life to build their cosplay.  Certain contestants showed the positive side of cosplay, like the amiable contest winner Chloe Dykstra, and certain contestants… didn’t.  A recent similar show began in 2015 on British Channel 4 called WTF is Cosplay?

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The hook for Cosplay Meleé for many genre fans will be host Yvette Nicole Brown, co-star of the TV series Community.  A make-up and special effects crewman from various movies (Christian Beckman) and a model (LeeAnna Vamp) will serve as co-judges with Brown.  Four new contestants will be featured on each show, with a $10,000 prize at stake.

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jonny-quest-figures

We’ve been raving about the three and three-quarters inch scale Kenner-style action figures from Funko’s ReAction line here at borg.com for a few years now.  If style and nostalgia are your jam but not necessarily screen-accurate sculpts, it’s hard to beat the myriad of licenses that Funko has secured.  What you may not have seen is that Figures Toy Company has been producing a similar series of figures reflecting the larger, eight-inch Mego action figure line also popular in the 1970s.

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Like Funko, Figures Toy Company has secured licenses of brands, movies and TV shows you’d never think would surface again, like Evel Knievel, Dukes of Hazzard, DC Comics, KISS, Shazam, Batman TV series heroes and villains, Super Friends, Scooby Doo, Tarzan, Dallas, The Monkees, The Three Stooges, Gilligan’s Island, and most recently Jonny QuestAlso like Funko, don’t expect Sideshow Toys’ level of detail.  The appeal of these lines is pure nostalgia, and packaging is half of the value.  The company also didn’t forget accessories and playsets, like a great set of Batman weaponsthe Batbus and Batlabclassic style carrying casesGotham GCPD bus, professional wrestling accessories, the Teen Titans bus, and the classic Batcave.

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Your editor with the original Mego Robin figure, and at right the new Figures Toy Company version.

The toy company has also stepped ahead into more recent licenses, creating a line of Mego-style Harry Potter action figures.  Some of Figures Toy Company’s action figure lines are also offered in a 12-inch and 18-inch version.  Many lines were released in limited editions and exclusives, and some can only be found on Amazon and eBay, and many are still available with new figures released frequently.  Not only do many have the Mego-style retro packaging, others have the Kresge Stores-style packages your parents could pick up in the 1970s as point-of-sale purchases at checkout in local dime stores across the country.

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The next noir crime drama may come as a surprise: It’s Dynamite Entertainment’s new throwback series Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys.  Inspired by recent noir comic book series like Ed Brubaker’s Fatale and Darwyn Cooke’s Parker series, writer Anthony Del Col (Assassin’s Creed, Kill Shakespeare) and artist Werther Dell’Edera (Detective Comics, House of Mystery) are bringing the classic books and 1970s team-up television series into the 21st century.  It looks to have the vibe of CW’s new Riverdale television series update to Archie Comics, including that show’s Twin Peaks aura.

The Hardy Boys stories and Nancy Drew Mystery Stories series were first published in 1927 and 1930 respectively and continued for 75 years.  Created by Edward Stratemeyer, but ghost written by Mildred Wirt Benson and hundreds of writers over the decades, the books followed teenaged brother sleuths, Frank and Joe Hardy, and a young heroine detective, Nancy Drew, whose strong character has been cited as a personal influence by Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Sonia Sotomayor, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

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In the new series, Frank and Joe Hardy are accused of murdering their father, a detective, and they enlist Nancy Drew to help prove their innocence–and find the real murderer.  The series promises a “twisting, hard-boiled tale, complete with double-crosses, deceit and dames,” keeping with the noir crime setting.

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IDW Publishing writer Mike Johnson continues to take Star Trek where no one has taken Star Trek before.  As he did successfully in Star Trek Countdown and Star Trek: Nero, Johnson continues the adventures of Captain James T. Kirk and his crew in the Star Trek “Kelvin” timeline–the new timeline begun by J.J. Abrams beginning in 2009.  Johnson is breaking new grounds along with artist Tony Shasteen in Star Trek: Boldly Go, a monthly comic book series featuring a standalone story issue hitting comic book stores tomorrow.

In the first four issues of Star Trek: Boldly Go, Johnson and Shasteen take readers beyond last summer’s hit movie Star Trek Beyond.  Kirk and his crew are divided now, serving aboard separate vessels.  Kirk leads the USS Endeavour, with Bones as second rank under another medical chief.  Chekov serves with them.  Spock and Uhura are on sabbatical on New Vulcan with Sarek.  Scotty is teaching at the Academy back on Earth.  Commander Sulu is serving under Captain Terrell (played by Paul Winfield in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan) aboard the USS Concord.  And then a nemesis encountered much later in the Prime Universe pursues the Concord.  Why? Is resistance truly futile?  Find out when The Borg seize Spock.

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Fortunately instead of being merely a gimmick to bring the key villains from Star Trek: The Next Generation into the realm of the original series, the change-up in the timeline is nicely tied to a logical occurrence in Kirk and Spock’s past, while further binding the ex-Enterprise crew together.

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Tomorrow with Issue #5 Johnson and Shasteen set their focus on Jaylah, the heroine from Star Trek Beyond, and our nominee for the most kickass heroine of all the Star Trek films.  It’s a great, personal story, providing backstory showing how Jaylah ended up where she encountered the Enterprise crew at the beginning of Star Trek Beyond, and where the character is now.  Here is a preview of Star Trek: Boldly Go, Issue #5, courtesy of IDW Publishing:

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grimbeard-didier

As the old song goes, “It’s a pirate’s life for me.”  If you can imagine Popeye the Sailor Man and Yosemite Sam as a pirate and a dwarf of the classic fantasy variety, then you’ll have a hint at what’s coming in Grimbeard: Tales of the Last Dwarf, a new fantasy-comedy novel written and illustrated by Samwise Didier.  Didier is senior art director for Blizzard Entertainment, where he became known to fantasy gamers for his work on Warcraft, StarCraft, and Heroes of the Storm.

Captain Grimbeard is a salty old pirate who leads up a crew of two (a foodie TV-watching cook and the severed head of a formerly massive fellow) on his sea vessel, the Ol’ Girl, a ship that incorporates the aura of both a dragon and a dog.  He is also the last dwarf, resulting from a genocide caused by the worst of the fantasy races, the detestable, betraying, “traitor-ious” elven race.  Thrust a thousand years into the future he balances life as a cantankerous drinker of ales, a tough and hardy carrier of the great dwarf legacy, and a bawdy rogue finding his way among the worst part of today’s world… social media.  What is a dwarf to do?

Grimbeard shares in first person his exploits: how he missed out on the destruction of his race because he was breaking up a frost giant wedding, how he assembled his noble crew, how he started (and abandoned) his own Friday night boxing event, how he landed a (pretty-ish?) troll by consuming too much Taroellpiz, and how he ended up the centerpiece of his own surreal reality show.

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Adventure Time fans, and fans of bawdy comedy shows like Ted, Family Guy, and South Park, will appreciate the humor here.  Grimbeard will also appeal to fans of the lighter, comedic side of fantasy roleplay.

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infinity-war-clipA decade of preparation is coming together at Marvel.  Kevin Feige, the #2 executive behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe, conceived the idea of expanding Marvel via an investment in The Avengers, dolling out individual films that would be interconnected, and, in return, build a tremendous financial enterprise.  A decade after Robert Downey, Jr. first played Tony Stark in Iron Man, we’ll see it all come together in the first part of Avengers: Infinity War in summer 2018.

This will wind up the third act (Phase 3) of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (with possibly one more Avengers film inserted in 2019) and its anyone’s guess what will come next.  Here is the rollout schedule:

  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, May 5, 2017.
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming, July 7, 2017.
  • Thor: Ragnarok, Nov. 3, 2017.
  • Black Panther, Feb. 16, 2018.
  • Avengers: Infinity War, Part 1, May 4, 2018.
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp, July 6, 2018.
  • Captain Marvel, March 8, 2019.
  • Avengers: Infinity War, Part 2, May 3, 2019.

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Of all these films, Captain Marvel seems the most likely to be the first spark that prepares fans for a Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 4.  Unlike Phases 1 through 3, it’s the first film that takes a step outside the classic comic books, featuring Brie Larson as Carol Danvers, a version of the character created in the pages of Marvel Comics as recently as 2012.  It seems an obvious step to reboot the universe at this point with other, modern versions of the comic book superheroes.

This weekend Marvel released a first look at the commencement of production on Avengers: Infinity War.  The key person surprisingly not in the opening images is Chris Evans’ Captain America.  No doubt fans want to see scenes of Evans and Starlord actor Chris Pratt going head to head.  And the roster of actors in the film will be unprecedented as superhero movies go.  Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange is expected to appear, among many others, hinted at in Avengers: Civil War, which excluded Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk, and Chris Hemsworth’s Thor.  Check out this first look from Avengers: Infinity War:

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Fans and filmgoers may not realize the theatrical adaptation of the popular Ubisoft video game Assassin’s Creed is really unlike any other past movie based on a video game.  Never before has a brand owner, here Ubisoft, taken such a hands-on approach to making a film adaptation.  That comes through in Ian Nathan’s new look at the film and its unique production process, Assassin’s Creed: Into the Animus.

Ubisoft has been involved in not only several iterations of the game but continuations found in comic books and graphic novels, as well as behind the scenes concept art books for the various versions of the game.  Pride in the brand and maintaining the integrity of the story for gamers was taken into account from the inception of the film as concept.  From casting Michael Fassbender as the film’s lead to Fassbender’s role as a producer and personally delving in to understand the mechanics of the world of the gameplay and what that meant for his two parallel characters–Aguilar in the past and Callum in the modern age–loyalty to the game was always a priority, as recounted by the crew interviewed by Ian Nathan for this book.

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For those who haven’t seen the film, the plot follows two protagonists in a world of Assassins and Templars, men separated by centuries of history yet linked by their DNA, necessitating the re-creation of a historically accurate fifteenth-century Spain and a technologically advanced present day world.  Assassin’s Creed: Into the Animus is an introduction to the complex world of the games, a look at the elaborate sets and exotic filming locations, an understanding of the choreography of the parkour scenes the film is known for, and maintaining the trademark look of the franchise, including Aguilar’s famous assassin’s hood.

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The Circle is no doubt another in a long line of topical dramas starring the great Tom Hanks.  Everyone loves Tom Hanks, the actor, yet his roles have become predictable.  If you’re making a movie and you want to bring instant sympathy, respectability, or authority–especially if the source material doesn’t have much of its own character development–Hanks is your guy.  He reportedly brings in $10 million to $20 million per film, and double or triple that if he negotiates profit sharing deals, which may explain why he’s not in many special effects-heavy films.  Where his performance is always reliable, it’s the films themselves–the stories and settings–that have often let us down once we crossed into the 21st century.  What will be his next Philadelphia or Forrest Gump?  His next Splash or Big?  These days he’s the go-to guy for biopics (Charlie Wilson’s War, Captain Phillips, Saving Mr. Banks, Sully), historical teleplays and documentaries (Band of Brothers, The Pacific), and novel adaptations, especially the never-ending Robert Langdon series (The DaVinci Code, etc.).  The Circle fits in as a novel adaptation, this time an adaptation of a novel about the horrors of our modern technological age written by Dave Eggers and directed and co-scripted by James Ponsoldt.

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But Hanks isn’t the real draw for this film, it’s the mega-sized co-lead actors who all hail from the biggest genre franchises that really make this a movie we might want to check out in the theater this April and not wait for the home release.  The star is Emma Watson, Hermione of the Harry Potter franchise whose other big 2017 film–Beauty and the Beast–with Watson in the lead role as Belle, will be released only six weeks prior to The Circle.  Star Wars: The Force Awakens and this year’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi star John Boyega (ex-Stormtrooper Finn) has next billing.  Oddly enough someone just as popular in the U.S., the U.K., and Asia should have next billing in the trailers, yet she’s seen but not listed in the title credits.  That’s the popular Doctor Who companion Amy Pond and the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Nebula from Guardians of the Galaxy, Karen Gillan.  That’s some pretty popular acting names and pop culture street cred for a flick outside the sci-fi and fantasy realm.  But that’s not all.  The Circle also features beloved comedian and nerd crusader Patton Oswalt, fan fave Bill Paxton (Aliens, Apollo 13, Edge of Tomorrow, Training Day), and familiar face Glenne Headly (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Monk). 

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The plot follows a new worker (Watson) at a trendy tech company (think Google), where this fictional company and its outlandish benefits encompass and suffocate the workers’ private lives.  Here’s a new trailer for The Circle, followed by an earlier version of the trailer:

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ninjago-movie

Today and this weekend millions of moviegoers will flock to theaters to see what could be the biggest selling Batman movie so far: The LEGO Batman Movie.  A spoof of Batman set in the world of the famous building blocks, it’s the kind of film that will appeal to multiple demographics:  little kids, big kids, and adults young and old.  After the downer that was Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, batfans are ready for fun over dreary.  If you missed the great trailers for The LEGO Batman Movie, check them out now here.

As we learned in the awesomely brilliant, funny, and clever original LEGO film The LEGO Movie: “everything is awesome when you’re part of a team.”  And that motto holds up in the next LEGO movie coming in 2017, The LEGO Ninjago Movie. 

What is LEGO Ninjago?

LEGO Ninjago is a LEGO building block series of more than 100 sets that began in 2010. A tie-in television series began in 2012, with a story centering on four Ninja, each with its own elemental dragon: Kai (Master of Fire), Jay (Master of Lightning), Cole (Master of Earth), and Zane (Master of Ice).  Sounding a bit similar to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, they are brought together as a team by Sensei Wu to defeat the evil Lord Garmadon.

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Tron: Uprising producer Charlie Bean is directing the The LEGO Ninjago Movie, which is written by Dan and Kevin Hageman, writers of The LEGO Movie and LEGO Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitsu.  The movie stars some well-known genre favorites voicing the roles from the toy backstory: Jackie Chan as Master Wu, Dave Franco as Lloyd, Olivia Munn as Koko, Fred Armisen as Cole, Justin Theroux as Garmadon, Abbi Jacobson as Nya, Kumail Nanjiani as Jay, Zach Woods as Zane, and Michael Peña as Kai.

Here is the first trailer for The LEGO Ninjago Movie:

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