If Bruce Wayne, the Monopoly Guy, and Bill Gates had a private McDonalds…

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It would probably look something like this:

Outside the Billionaire McDonalds Outside the Billionaire McDonaldsInside the Billionaire McDonalds Inside the Billionaire McDonalds

Shingle style barn architecture, leather furniture, art glass lamps, and a fireplace. That’s how fast food is done in one of Chicago’s richest suburbs, Lake Forest. Luckily they still have the Dollar Menu for out of town schmucks like me, so I was able to get a couple McChicken sandwiches after I picked my jaw up off the floor.

Figure Reviews: Assault on Cobra Island

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Still haven't kicked the G.I. Joe habit. Hasbro is shifting the line over to the movie stuff and very little of that has my attention. But before they did that, they came up with two "final" 25th Anniversary sets. Each set is a seven pack and one is a Joe set and the other a Cobra set. The Cobra set really didn't interest me. The Strato-Viper is cool and I can see myself maybe trying to grab a Dr. Francois Mindbender off eBay someday, but all the wackily colored Vipers aren't my cup o' joe.

The Joe pack contained a couple figures I was interested in and now I'm finding I might have gotten more than I bargained for.

I bought this set primarily for Altitude who for all intents and purposes is actually Ripcord. Great figure and due to what appears to be a lot of unique molding, I'm thinking he might have been in the queue for an earlier release but got held back thanks to Marlon Wayans.

Probably the coolest feature about this figure is the big honkin' gun he comes with. Better than an accelerator suit.

Not sure why he looks like Brian Dennehy though.


Zap is a decent upgrade of the original although because the original was one of the first thirteen, he's a rather boring figure. Finally though, he has a mustache and since the Zap I had as a kid no longer had thumbs, I finally have a Zap with thumbs again.


Recondo was the other figure I was looking forward to. The hat is removable. Coincidentally though, he looks a bit like Harrison Ford sporting a mustache without the hat on.


This set contains a couple figures based on vintage figures I never owned nor really were aware of because I had stopped collecting. While I had heard of Chuckles and Outback, I had never heard of Hit and Run and figured all three of these might be prime candidates for selling. I've got to say, they've all made excellent cases for remaining on the CT Joe team. Lots of gear and cool specialties certainly make these guys worthy contributions to the team.




Outback is sporting a darker T-shirt than his vintage counterpart. This figure would be more in line with the Night Force variation. Doesn't bother me either way since Outback isn't a character I have any strong attachment to.


Finally, there's Wet-Suit. I always found this character (and most of the characters from the 1986 wave) to be redundant. There already was a diver (Torpedo). I guess now he had a friend. So I guess I wasn't too excited about this particular figure in this 7-pack. I would rather have had Low-Light. Beyond that, this figure wasn't quite as faithful to the vintage counterpart.


After opening the box and stripping him of his gear, my tune changed a little. I like the idea of this guy who's come up out of the water, ditched his gear and is ready for some action.


All-in-all, a good set. My biggest gripe is that the plastic used for these figures seems a little less sturdy that the previous figures in this line. And with the mix and match system they have going to build these, some of the parts don't quite fit together as well as they might have hoped.

Be Seeing You

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While only 17 episodes (and of those, only 10 or so are good), the original Prisoner was compelling, thought-provoking television that came way ahead of its time. Patrick McGoohan produced, wrote and starred in this series about a former spy who was brought to a village in order to learn some secrets. It was very high-concept and had just the right type of eccentricity to inspire a cult-following.

While I don't consider myself a rabid fan, I do have a great respect for the series and think it to be the precursor to a great deal of television we have today. For example, without The Prisoner, we wouldn't have Lost. While I do have tremendous respect for it, I also have some issues with it. Mainly with the ending. I won't spoil it other than to say it left a lot to be desired.

After Doctor Who was successfully relaunched in 2005, the thought of a modern-day Prisoner reboot crossed my mind. And indeed there has been talk of a couple movie versions that never panned out. Now, AMC has finally released some footage from their upcoming remake of The Prisoner.

This footage winds up being a bit too long to be a great trailer, but it shows all the right things: What the new Village looks like, the rover, Number Six, Number Two, and most importantly, "I'm not a number, I'm a free man." I'm anxious to see this series and hope for a better conclusion this time around. With the star power behind this, I also hope the poignancy and gravitas comes with this series just like it did with the original.

The Internet on Your TV, More or Less

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A couple months back I followed CT into the realm of HDTV. I ended up with a Samsung 6 series LCD TV. It’s a great TV, but it has one feature that is half-baked: the Internet@TV widgets.

widgets!

The basic premise is that you can press a button on the remote and bring up a range of Internet content through the same Yahoo! widgets that are available on a PC. Not a bad idea on paper, but I’m don’t think the developers or the designers of my TV thought this all the way through.

  1. My TV doesn’t have a 3 GHz CPU under the hood, so a tricked out interface means that navigating between onscreen items can take 3-5 seconds. Not fun.
  2. My TV doesn’t have a keyboard, so entering a YouTube search or a 140 character tweet using the laggy onscreen interface is excruciating.
  3. There isn’t a general web browser widget, so I can’t view any links in tweets, news stories, or YouTube data.

It’s a decent enough attempt by the folks at Yahoo! and Samsung. Though as CT likes say to say about movie scripts, “it’s a rewrite away”.

Figure Reviews: Super Grover

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One of the ideas behind Nerd Lunch is that as we three nerds go along in life, we find we have less time and money for those nerd interests we once enjoyed. There was a time when I bought a great deal of action figures. But before my recent G.I. Joe relapse, I went a few years without buying a single action figure. My last collection, one I still have prominently displayed, are my Palisades Muppets action figures. (Someday I plan to show off my Muppets collection here at Nerd Lunch.)

I love the Muppets and I love those figures. I managed to acquire every Muppet figure they made with a few minor exceptions and variants that I'm not interested in tracking down.

Although, there was one figure I never got. Palisades announced they were going to launch a Sesame Street line and in my book, those guys are Muppets, too. But, as the Muppet Show line was winding down and the Sesame Street line was starting, I saw it as my opportunity to get off the train before it crashed and decided that I wasn't going to get any Sesame Street figures. And that included the Super Grover convention exclusive. Like Lays potato chips or G.I. Joe action figures, there was no "just one." It was all or nothing and I had to choose nothing.



Then, Palisades went out of business and Super Grover was the only Sesame Street figure released. And getting one would have been getting all, but by that point, it was too late.

So, cut to four years later. I'm selling stuff on eBay and come to find out I have an out-of-print, highly sought after Conan trade paperback. I sell it for enough money that I decide to go after this missed acquisition and get the last Muppet figure. After two failed attempts, I finally manage to win a Super Grover that was packaged as Grover Kent, which meant there was less demand and he was easier to obtain. I didn't care. I'd be opening it regardless.


What a great set and opening it made me a bit nostalgic for days five or six years ago. Also frustrated as it took me about three hours to open it. The box it came in is enormous, but has that really cool Alex Ross rendition of Super Grover. In the box is a body, two heads, a Grover Kent outfit, and a telephone booth.


By the end of the Muppet run, I had developed a love/hate relationship with Palisades. Their attention to detail and incredibly ornate sculpting made me a fan. The fragility of the figures and playsets drove me mad. Recalling that, I already worry a great deal about the arms on this figure. The joints don't move as well as they should and the arms feel like they are made from a flimsier plastic than I'd like. This fragility means that Super Grover will be staying Super Grover. Grover Kent will be making no more appearances. Changing him is not worth the potential break. (I will say that changing his head was a lot easier than I had feared it would be.)


One of the first things I did was have Grover meet up with the only other Sesame Street character I have...Kermit. Kermit was the only Muppet to regularly appear on both The Muppet Show and Sesame Street. Other Muppets made the crossover from one show to the other and they all meet up in The Muppet Family Christmas, but Kermit and Grover have just as much history as Kermit and Fozzie. I must admit that was slightly disappointed to see the scale between these figures to be off. Super Grover seems considerably larger than Kermit while they really should be closer in size than this.


I wondered if I was looking at the figures the wrong way. I'm not used to seeing them from head to toe. Setting them up as a puppet stage seemed to help, but I still think Grover is larger than he should be. Although, it doesn't really matter since he'll be displayed away from most of my Muppets figures.


As usual, Palisades attention to detail and the amount of thought they put into these figures shows here. Super Grover has an open mouth while Grover Kent has a closed mouth meaning these two heads are completely different sculpts and not just the same base head with different stuff glued on.




The phone booth is a nice touch and from what I recall, very faithful to the phone booths often seen in Sesame Street. Just looking at it, I start hearing "Telephone Rock."


The packaging, while large, is fine. The previously mentioned Alex Ross art makes it and the back gives a glimpse into what was to be the first series of Sesame Street figures. Other prototypes for later lines have popped up on the internet. It would have been a truly great line. And as a result, I'm glad it never got made. Easier that way and I don't have the shelf space anyway.



Some may view the trading in of a Conan book for a Sesame Street figure as less than manly but in a fight against the two, I'll put my money on Super Grover every time.





The Walrus Plan

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Tutus are funny It’s no secret that we’re big fans of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. We’ve pontificated about how he should play Doc Savage on the big screen and has all the makings of Hollywood’s next action star. But does all that mean I’ll watch a Disney kids flick just because The Rock is in it?  Yes, yes it does.

Story

The premise of the The Game Plan is pretty simple and trite. The Rock is a self absorbed football superstar living a bachelor life to beat all bachelor lives. Out of the blue, his daughter from a one night stand several years ago shows up and the cuteness and hilarity ensure.

Presentation

With the predictable plot, the film lives and dies with the performances. The Rock’s portrayal of Joe Kingman is absolutely the best thing about the movie. The writers threw in several scenes that allow him to channel some of his old wrestling character with great results. The supporting cast playing Kingman’s football teammates delivers laughs as well. Unfortunately Madison Pettis is merely average as the daughter. I may have had unreasonable expectations after seeing some Dakota Fanning and Abigail Breslin movies recently.

STORY

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PRESENTATION

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REWATCHABLE

walrus_reyes

As kids movies go, you could do worse and you could do better. If you enjoy The Rock, the two hours will be worth it. If you enjoy The Rock (and Elvis) as much as I do, then it’s worth another two hours just for a few scenes.

Happiness is

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3.4 pounds of Cheez-Its.

IMG_2140God bless you, Costco. And thank you, Cheez-It Fairy, for leaving them at my desk.

Nyrd!

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I remember when I first heard about the Sci-Fi Channel. I believe I was a freshman in high school and it was like a dream come true. A whole channel devoted to showing nothing but science fiction. "If I had that channel, I'd have the TV set to that all the time," I thought.

Too bad it was almost nothing but a complete disappointment since.

First, I could never get the channel. It was too specialized for the cable system we had to carry it. Then, my parents finally got DirectTV...just in time for me to go to college. It was during one summer while in college that I was able to videotape almost the entire Alien Nation series and then catch some Incredible Hulk and V episodes.

All my encounters with Sci-Fi would be frustrating. With millions of potential hours of science fiction movies and television series, I'd get to a hotel room or visit a friend that had it and something absolutely dreadful would be on like a Dark Shadows marathon or the movie Gulliver's Travels starring Ted Danson.

In my humble opinion, Sci-Fi's greatest achievement was the four-year (should have been five) run of Farscape and the two-part mini-series that concluded the series. If nothing else, Sci-Fi gave us that only to take it away.

For a brief period of time, I did finally have the Sci-Fi Channel. And the channel was saturated with horror movies and reality (sci-fi reality?) programming. Instead of having Sci-Fi on all the time, I'd more often land on the Food Network.

A year ago we moved and full cable did not move with us. And what have I missed? It wasn't Sci-Fi, it was ESPN and ESPN 2. And the 14-year-old in me cries.

I'm not saying they could do nothing right. They did also give us Battlestar Galactica and they brought to America the new Doctor Who. But for whatever reason, Sci-Fi and I could just never make anything happen together. My limited enjoyment of their programming has been largely through DVDs or other outlets.

As of today, Sci-Fi is no more. Now, in a reported effort to shed their "geek image", they are called SyFy. And instead of geeky, they just look plain silly.

And you know what, it still doesn't matter. That dream I thought had come true never came true in network form. Now, through Netflix, the internet, and what I happen to own, I can construct my own personal Sci-Fi Channel. And believe me, it's been well worth the eighteen year wait.

(Not) Netflix Notes 3

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While I don’t have Netflix, there are a number of DVDs I’ve watched over the past few months that I’m never going to get around to reviewing. This admission of failure will clean out my draft posts folder and maybe give us something to talk about.

Get Smart

Wish it were smarter When I first saw the trailers for Get Smart I was completely jazzed about it. It was probably the summer 2008 movie that I was most looking forward to, but the reviews and word of mouth were bad and I never made it to the theatre to see it. Sadly, those assessments were accurate. It’s not terrible, but is only mildly funny at best and certainly doesn’t live up to the awesome cast.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

I’ve never read the Hitchhiker’s books, so I came to the movie with few preconceptions and no special fondness. I left my living room with no special fondness. I knew enough to expect the Monty Python sort of weird, but the plot was slow and the performances half-hearted. The only part that amused me was Alan Rickman voicing the manically depressed robot, Marvin. I’m convinced Alan Rickman could read the phonebook out loud and be entertaining.

librarian2_posterThe Librarian: Return to King Solomon's Mines

The second Librarian movie holds its own pretty well with the first one and features 100% more Jonathan Frakes. These movies aren’t masterpieces, but they are just plain fun. And yes, this one is also way better than Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Quantum of Solace

I’ll let CT give the full review of QoS at some point. My brief assessment is disappointing. I thought Casino Royale was a great movie and a near perfect reboot of the franchise. Perhaps that raised my expectations too much. The plot never seemed to rise beyond a way to string together the action sequences. It wasn’t awful, but nowhere near as good as Daniel Craig’s maiden voyage as Bond.

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