Friday, July 24, 2015

Junk Culture Rabbit Holes: Action Jackson

Action Jackson was his name!  We know this because the jaunty jingle of his commercials told us so.  He was not, however, Carl Weathers.  That Action Jackson was a totally different guy, though, come on, where's his toy line?  I wonder if they got each other's mail?

Anyway, this particular Action Jackson was a toy created by Mego as their answer to G.I. Joe, particularly the 70s Action Team era G.I. Joe.  AJ was an 8-inch tall action figure (or, let's be honest, doll) with which kids could re-enact "bold adventures" (which were his aim, also via the ) provided they bought the additional outfits, vehicles, and playsets.

What sort of bold adventures?  How about flying a personal helicopter pack, driving a stunt cycle, or being a firefighter in a heat resistant suit?  That bold enough for you?

Need more boldness?  How about being a frogman? An Aussie marine?  Karate expert?  Ski patrol trooper?  Jungle safari guide?  Or, um, a firefighter again?  That's... well, maybe not as exciting the second time around, but you know, it's a dangerous profession, so that's still bold.

Still not bold enough for you?  Okay, adrenaline junky, how about... uh, driving a jeep?  Well, really you could just wait a few years until you get your license, kid, but okay.  Or... okay, jumping with a parachute is a little more high risk, sure, but you can always just pay someone out at your local airfield and do that this afternoon if you wanted to.  And, wait, really, driving a snowmobile?

That last group of kids has some pretty achievable goals that I don't know if I'd qualify as bold or even particularly adventurous, but hey, to each their own.  I think the diminishing returns here are a pretty good indication of why this line didn't last long, but I'd totally be down for a Action Jackson "exploring the shelves of a used bookstore" set myself, so I'm not one to judge.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Pretty Sketchy: Boldly Going Nowhere for Comic Non 2015

Didn't make it to Comic-Con?  Well, you can still find some great original comic book art at Comic-Non thanks to the internet.  You can even dress in costume to do so if you want... or just sit around in your boxers.  Comic-Non is a judgment-free safe space, you guys.

Anyway, I helped ease the pain of being unable to attend SDCC by ordering this a few weeks back from a site called Anthony's Comic Book Art (click to enlarge it to the size of Captain Kirk's headache):

This is page 21 of DC's Star Trek (v1) #48 - pencils by Tom Sutton, inks by Ricardo Villagran, lettering by Helen Vesik, and snarky James T. Kirk dialog by the Writer of Stuff himself, Peter David (writing his first issue of Star Trek).  The set-up is that the crew was throwing a bachelor party for one of the created-for-the-comics ensigns, things got out of hand because Scotty, Bones, and Chekov all spiked the punch, and Kirk walked in just as someone angrily lobbed a bottle across the room.  Hence the bandage and the threats.

I loved this page as soon as I saw it... you get a shot of the Enterprise (which looks like it's talking), some shots of the crew (including Arex!) well-rendered by Sutton and Villagran, and a JTK speech that is equal parts anger, inspiration, and snark.  This helps ease the whole "left behind" thing a bit.  Thanks, Anthony!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Doctor Who and the Little Plastic Bricks (of Death) (to Bare Feet)

(Left home the weekend of Comic-Con?  Hey, me, too.  Again.  "Fair" ticketing system my ass.  But don't let it hold you back... let's make our own fun celebrate the 6th Annual Comic-Non International, the best convention of all because it's pants-optional.)

Like everyone left behind (in the non-Kirk Cameron sense, I mean), I watch all of the news coming out of San Diego this weekend with a mixture of being excited by the announcements and possessing the vindictive hope that everyone who did get to go gets herpes of the eyes or something.  This bit of wonderful that came out on Thursday definitely falls into the former end of that spectrum:

I've known for a while there was going to be a Doctor Who component of the Lego Dimensions toy box game thanks to this post over on Brick Fan (which also shows off the Portal 2 level pack), but I was planning on only picking up the level pack itself (along with a few others) for the pieces.  I've typically looked at toy box games the same way I look at collectible card games and pay-to-play MMORPGs... I don't like games I have to keep buying in order to continue playing.

This trailer changes all that, though.  I've been saying for years that a Doctor Who game in the style of the TT Games Lego series would be my idea video game, but it never seemed like it could be a reality since Lego never had the Doctor Who license.  Even when Lego announced that Doctor Who projects could be submitted for Ideas projects and one got rushed through, it never seemed like a possibility.  And yeah, a full Lego Doctor Who game may still never happen.  But with Lego Dimensions, you get the possibility of a Lego game where the Doctor, Batman, Doc Brown, Gandalf, Wildstyle, Scooby Doo, and whomever else can team up to fight Daleks with Portal guns.

Fine, Lego and TT Games.  You've got me.  I'm in.  Be silent and accept my funding, or whatever it is the kids on the internet say these days.

The best part of this, though - at least in my eyes - is that the trailer shows official Lego versions of all 13 canonical Doctors (sorry, Peter Cushing fans).  We're still not 100% sure what's going to be in that Lego Ideas Doctor Who set due out in November (at least as I type this... that seems the sort of thing they're bound to announce this weekend), but the Doctor included in that is likely to be Peter Capaldi's 12th Doctor rather than any of the others.  But even if we don't get 1 through 11 and the War Doctor, the designs are now out there so you have to imagine that some bootLego minifig maker like Sheng Yuan will make them
if Lego doesn't themselves (and yes, bootlegging is wrong and what not, but if Lego isn't going to make all these extra characters they design for games, oh well).  I've wanted Lego Doctors so much I made my own, for crying out loud.

5 and 7 were particular hard to get right.
So, yeah, I'm in is what I'm saying. I don't remember ever grabbing my credit card from my wallet and yet it keeps ending up in my hand somehow.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Building a Mystery (Show)

As I'm pretty sure I mentioned somewhere in the long-distant past, I wanted to be Encyclopedia Brown when I was a kid.  Starlee Kine has found a way to do that as an adult and I have to admit I'm jealous.

Kine has a new podcast called Mystery Show, which I suppose you could say is a bit like Serial but less life-and-death serious and more whimsically mundane (in that good way).  Basically, someone approaches her with a mystery they've encountered in life and she seeks out the solution via good, old-fashioned, shoe-leather investigation and this-could-easily-be-your-quirky-friend charm.  And as is the way of life, no one mystery is ever just one mystery, and each investigation leads to more questions to be answered and numerous rabbit holes to explore (as when a simple informational call to a Ticketmaster rep leads to a deep conversation about how we all deserve love and compassion).

Kine, like Serial's Sarah Koenig, is a This American Life alumna so that vibe and propensity for finding gripping narrative in everyday things is all over this show, but this is definitely more Donald J. Sobol than James Patterson, more Scooby Doo than CSI... though admittedly she's not likely to stumble across anything that involves unmasking an embittered amusement park owner (but it would be outstanding if she did).  I think we all have that one unanswered question in our lives that bugs us... not a thing that ruins us, but just something that frustratingly, tantalizingly makes us wonder "Yeah, what was up with that?"

Maybe if we're really lucky, Starlee will help us figure that out.  In the meantime, I'm happy to listen to her reconnect someone with their long-lost belt buckle or find out what happened to this one video store.  Just because it's mundane doesn't mean it also can't be endlessly fascinating.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Sarek and Amanda; or, What's so funny 'bout Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations?

I think that the enduring appeal of Star Trek, particularly the original series, is the unbridled and completely unironic just-post-Kennedy-era optimism (just before the rest of the 60s would beat it down), and the way it embraces and embodies a philosophy the series would eventually attribute to the Vulcans: Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations (IDIC).  IDIC is about celebrating what makes us different rather than shunning and eventually destroying it, and seeing all that we can achieve if we just get over ourselves, get our shit together, and get to work.  It's a nice thought, a beautiful sentiment, one that helps get me through troubled times.

One of my favorite expressions of this philosophy in the entire series is the relationship of Spock's parents, Sarek and Amanda.  We only ever get a few brief glimpses of it, and the explanation of what brings these two together is never really touched upon (at least not officially... I'm sure it comes up in the spin-off media at some point, and we get a brief discussion of it in the first of the Abrams Trek movies), but what we do see is remarkable.  Vastly different in terms of point of view, disposition, philosophy, and yes, biology, but when you see them together there's no question they belonged together.  The way they looked at each other, spoke with each other, and especially touched - that way where they wouldn't hold hands but instead touched their index and middle fingers together - it's all there in the performances of Mark Lenard and Miss Jane Wyatt (as she was sometimes wonderfully billed).

Kevin Church and Ming Doyle made a fantastic comic called "The Truth" for the Trek fanzine To Boldly Zine (which can be read in its entirety here) in which they theorize how it is that these two remarkable characters came together.  It's sweet, it's true to the original performances, the characters themselves, and the world they inhabit; best of all, it shows that tightly controlling (or, alright, suppressing) emotions is a lot different than not having them at all, which is a mistake I think a lot of writers make with Vulcans.  So read it, enjoy it, absorb it, understand the amazing people who helped make Spock the fascinating character he was, and make it part of your Trek head canon along with the Diane Duane Romulan novels, Marvel's Early Voyages series, and some of the better issues of the first DC Comics run (you know, for instance).

(Click pages to Enterprise-size 'em):

Thanks to Kevin for permission to run these.  Be sure to check out his great original series Tumblr site, They Boldly Went.