Podzilla 1985

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Theme Parks Are Dead, Long Live the Sandbox!

If you know me, congratulations!

No, seriously, if you know me, I'm not doing my job very well.

Alright, for real this time!

If you know me, you know that out of all the great games I've played in my many years as a gaming enthusiast, none have changed my life as much as Ultima Online. We had J.P. Harrod on the site a couple of months ago talking about his time with Electronic Arts and the role he played on the Ultima Online dev team, and I found him to be both humble and amazing at the same time. To work on such a legendary game that shaped an entire genre must have been a daunting task, but J.P. is a Cadillac of a man.

You should all know by now that I spent almost all of my time from age 16 to 20 braving the wilds of Sosaria in a never ending quest for adventure and coin. I had a damn good time with it, too, as a lifetime of red eyes and all night Orc-a-thons will attest to.

It's not that I love Ultima Online because it is the single greatest game of all time. I mean, it is, but I suppose the argument could also be made that it was my first MMO and I see it through the rose colored glasses. I can definitely admit that the game has lost its luster over fifteen years later. I blame that more on EA's inability to keep alive what made UO so great in the first place, along with the inevitable passing of the player base that made the world feel alive. Gamers today aren't the same class of gamers that we had in "my day," and I might get in trouble for saying that but it's my column so go play Halo and don't fornicate yourself on your way out.

You know why I loved Ultima so much? Because it was a sandbox game, and until recently it felt like that term was a four letter word.

It's obviously seven!

In its original form, Ultima Online had no quests. It had no levels. It relied upon the player to make items to sell, create adventures for themselves, and it didn't hold your hand through any of it. You made your character, picked some skills, and it dropped you right in the middle of a city and said "fuck you, make your own destiny!"

And we did. Sandbox games are designed as entirely open experiences where you can do whatever you want. Imagine Skyrim, with its skill based system and freedom to go wherever you want, but as an MMO with less story and more social interactions.

It's not that games haven't attempted to recreate the sandbox feel that Ultima had. Mortal Online, Darkfall, and even something as different as Eve Online have all labeled themselves, or been labeled by others, to be the "next UO." They may be decent games in their own right, but all of them failed miserably as the next Ultima. They were more akin to massive online arenas where players could grief each other, or in Eve Online's case, it missed the Ultima mark but still grew into a classic title on its own.

But those were your choices for sandbox games. Sure, you could go back to UO, but why bother? It wasn't the same beast anymore. Returning players will find items with stats, gear grinding, and a very lonely world that barely resembles the sacred lands of our youth.

So we hung our heads and forced ourselves into the world of the theme park MMORPG, where games like World of Warcraft satisfied the craving while leaving us hungry for something more. Apparently, back when UO and Everquest were the big two, all of the game developers decided to clone EQ and leave UO to die a lonely death as the greatest that should have been. Guided adventures became the norm in both Eastern and Western MMO's, and the success of the juggernaut that is WoW cemented the theme parks domination in this industry we all love.

Companies attempted to copy the success of WoW year after year, but always failed to live up to the gargantuan numbers that Blizzard's beast brought to the table. Still, there was success to be had, so the MMO Machine churned out clone after clone that over saturated the market and would probably kill off the entire genre eventually. Warcraft's numbers have fallen hard over the past year, and recently they admitted to losing over 600,000 subscribers in a matter of months.

Just when it looked like the industry had reached its low point in terms of both creativity and popularity, a small beacon of hope appeared somewhere in the distance. Like a heroic knight rising up to destroy the darkness that has claimed these lands, he stands on the edge of the horizon waiting for the opportunity to strike.

Kingdom of MMORPG's, meet your unlikely savior - The Sandbox!

Everything that is old is new again. While the clones fight for scraps among themselves, the sandbox MMO is ready to make its presence felt once more in a slew of new games coming soon. Richard Garriott and his UO team has reunited to bring us quite possibly a very revolutionary title called Shroud of the Avatar, while team Everquest will finally show off EQ Next this friday.

That's right, the two games that started it all are coming back to reclaim their industry, and I couldn't be more excited. I've never been a huge EQ fan, but the hype behind Next is so incredible that even I feel like an anxious kid at Christmas waiting to see what's in the damn box.

As for Lord British and his Shroud of the Avatar, well... I've said it before, and I'll say it again - I would follow that man into hell and back.

And it's not just those two vying for your attention. Eve Online is still alive and kicking very well, while upstart titles like Revival, Archeage, and Salem are going to offer a wide range of sandboxy goodness for the MMO player who is sick and tired of this theme park nonsense!

I started Blogzilla 1985 years ago as an outlet for me to bitch about MMORPG's. Back then it was called "Blogs THEY Don't Want You to Know About," and I spent most of my time waxing poetic about Warcraft, Champions Online, and Aion, just to name a few. BZ85 evolved from that simple idea, but I've never lost my love or interest for the genre that has most impacted my life as a gamer.

I'm damn proud to say that we are going to bear witness the revival of the sandbox MMO, and I'd like to take some credit for that.


My next mission? Get AKI involved with WWE games again.

This might take a while.

Kill Bill, Twins, & More!

 I came home to check out what I have missed out on the web today and so stoked to find out that the Tasty will be having their comeback soon. I may have fangirled just a bit. Hehe. I'm sorry, but its an awesome duo... they can sing... and dance... they are shmmmmexy.... and TWINS!!!

 LMAO! Ok, I'm done. (For now :P )

Brown Eyed Girls' 'Kill Bill' music video was released...
and it is AH-MAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you liked the movie by Quentin Tarantino... and kpop... or either of the two, check it out below.

Definitely worth the viewing. I am a bit of a sucker to long MV with a good story to it.

2NE1's next song will be revealed August 7th.

Psy will release a new album this fall and he tweeted today that he has 3 songs completed.

Led Apple released their MV for 'LOVE (Gimme Kimi Love)'. I love the swing feel to this song. It reminds me a bit of their song 'Run To You'. Its just so perky and gives a warm, fun, happy feeling!

EXO has released both Chinese and Korean version teasers for their new single, 'Growl'... coming soon!

If I had to narrow down to a group with great choreographed and performed dance moves, then Infinite would be tops, for sure. Recently they released 'Destiny'.


Another group that would make that list would have to be Beast, who released 'Shadow'. I was a bit surprised by the dark MV from them, honestly.

Super Junior's Japanese single 'Hero'!!! 'Nuff said. I don't care that it is in Japanese! Its freaking SUPER JUNIOR!!!!! XD

VIXX just released a teaser. I can't tell much from it though. Its in reverse... They have had a Jekyl and Hyde theme going... from the video, I expect this song & MV to be a nice one. When I say 'nice', I mean... without the dark and dangerous feeling like the last one.
Kim Hyun Joong is 'Unbreakable'... This jam features Jay Park and if you are into hip-hop will keep your head rockin' to the beat.

BTS proves that they are 'Bulletproof'. This track puts even more bump in your trunk. I'm excited to come across a new kpop... erm... hip-hop/rap group.

M.I.B. will make a comeback soon, as well as... B.A.P who released their single, 'Hurricane' earlier this month.

Anybody who knows me at all, should know that I am always randomly searching for new music... I came across something just a little different that what I normally listen to.

I present to you...

If you like music with strings, violins to be exact...

this trio has a catchy tune that is definitely ear worthy.

Now I actually like the performance version better...... check it out... here!

This post was written by

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Falling In Love (Touch Me Over Here)

 2NE1 released Falling In Love, July 8th. I watched the MV right after its release and I must say I absolutely love it.

FYI, those of you who aren't all that familiar with Kpop but have listened to will.i.am's #willpower... Have you listened to 'Gettin' Dumb'? That song features CL of 2NE1... who also came out with a solo, 'Baddest Female'. CL can go hard!

Check out 2NE1's MV for 'Falling In Love'

Teen Top celebrated their 3rd anniversary with CLAP ENCORE! Including a reaction video of them watching their MV. I seriously think this is one of the most hyper groups. They are fun to watch.

Jay Park released his mini album, I Like 2 Party, July 10th. The title track was featured in the Korean release of the Will and Jaden Smith movie, After Earth.

Xia (Kim Junsu) is back!!!! 

Just released his MV for 'Incredible' featuring P.Diddy's stepson, Quincy, and OMO!!!! It is incredible.This is the title track for Xia's 2nd solo album which includes 12 songs.

Here is the tracklist:
1. No Reason
2. Rainy Eyes
3. Apology
4. Chocolate Girl
5. Incredible (ft. Quincy)
6. Confusion (ft. GilMe)
7. Don't Leave
8. Turn It Up (ft. Dok2)
9. Fantasy
10. Funny Song (w/ BOOM)
11. I'm In Love
12. 11am

Check out my blog dedicated to XIA and the live showcase that was aired online.

Rain has completed his service in the military. Word is out that he joined Cube Entertainment, but no details
on plans for the future have been released (or leaked... that I am aware of).

CN Blue plans their comeback July 31st.

August 18 is G-Dragon's birthday... and did someone say new album?! Of course! What a great way to celebrate.

KCON '13 is coming up next month. I will post details about it soon.

 Yes, I know, it has been a while since I have posted... here at least. I shall remedy that in the near future.

This post was written by

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Radio Personality Kidd Kraddick Dies

In really unexpected and sad news to finish off this Saturday night, I just read on CNN that Kidd Kraddick died at age 53. Kidd Kraddick might not be too familiar with a lot of you, but his death is another in a long list of people I idolized growing up that includes Mr. Food, Tim Russert, and Randy Savage.

Kraddick was the host of Kidd Kraddick in the Morning on 96.5 here in Southeast Missouri for as far back as I can remember. That's not saying much, because I have one of the worst memories in the world. I'm not quite a goldfish, but I'm certainly no elephant. I used to listen to Kidd on my forty five minute drive from Mound City to Cape Girardeau when I worked at Steve & Barry's. I hated talk radio at the time, and I especially hated that kind of talk radio that seemed to collect the most annoying voices and obnoxious promos into one room just to assault your senses.

Kidd was different, though. He didn't seem like the kind of annoying host that a lot of radio stations had, and he definitely lacked the sleaze factor of popular shock jocks like Howard Stern or Don Imus. He was a very faithful man, but went about it in such a way that didn't make you dislike him for it or feel like he was pushing an agenda on his show. His witty banter with co-hosts Big Al Mack, Kelli Rasberry, and J-Si were a welcome addition to the uneventful drive in my then barely used Pontiac Grand Am.

I remember listening to a morning interview with Steve Irwin after the Crocodile Hunter passed away, and I spent that entire day just a little blue because of the effectiveness of their tribute to him. The team was very down to earth, sensible, and easily the one morning show I could relate to. They made me laugh, they made me cry, but they always entertained me and I felt like every morning was just a little bit easier to handle thanks to them.

Plus I really loved Drunk News.

Drunk people = ratings.

I stopped listening to their morning show a few years ago when they switched stations and 96.5 decided to start airing the dreadfully unfunny Ace & TJ show in their place. I caught a couple of clips here and there online, but my daily adventures with the Kidd crew had finally come to an end.

Kidd never stopped giving, though. His radio show remained a staple of many peoples morning commutes, and his work with children thanks to his Kidd's Kids initiative made him much more than just another radio host.

I don't have any idea what will happen to the Kidd Kraddick show now that Kidd is gone. Al and Kelly are fantastic at what they do, but they work best when playing off of someone with the kind of spotlight stealing personality that Kidd had. He was the kind of host that renewed your faith in broadcast radio, way before guys like George Noory, Hunter Hendricks, and Justin Mann roped me back in.

It's hard to say goodbye to someone you've never met, yet when they pass you feel the kind of sting in your heart that is reserved for a good friend. I think the best way to end this blog is to do it the way Kidd would.

Keep looking up - cause that's where it all is.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Wrestler Brian McGhee Allegedly Murders Ex-Girlfriend

It's the kind of shocking story you never expect to see coming.

I was reading pwinsider.com, as I often do, when I came across a story about how former WWE developmental wrestler Brian McGhee was arrested for the murder of what is believed to be his ex-girlfriend Bianca McGaughey. Apparently, McGhee stabbed her to death before leading police in a pursuit which only ended when law enforcement used dogs to get him out of his then crashed car.

According to PWinsider, McGhee was under a WWE developmental contract from December 2010-August 2012. He injured his knee during training, and he never truly recovered from the injury and allegedly found himself the target of ridicule and ribbing by his trainers and fellow trainees.

Months before he was released from his WWE developmental contract he wrote the following on his Facebook, though he later claimed he was a victim of a hacked account -

"Guys, I don't know how much longer I can handle this. Every day is a constant struggle to keep my sanity. I love wrestling and it's all I ever wanted to do. Already going crazy since I've been for like ten months now, but it gets worse. Every day a trainer goes out of his way to rib or disrespect me in front of the boys because I've been out so long. I can't clear myself. I wanna wrestle more than anything, but I don't even know who I am anymore. It's so f--king hard. I just feel it just building inside of me and I don't know how much longer I can contain it. I have daydreams of just f--king everyone up on some real s--t. I'm not a kid. I'm a f--king man. But what do you do when the people in charge of helping you get to the main roster are the ones making your life the hardest. I've been drinking almost every day. It's to the point to where I keep Vodka and Gin in my trunk. Help me!"

PWInsider reports that sources that have contacted them state that McGhee was never the same after his time with WWE, and was "increasingly frustrated" by his time there, though whether his time in wrestling contributed to this awful tragedy is unknown at this time.

In a strange twist for the staff here at Blogzilla 1985, I discovered a strange link between our site and the accused murderer when I went to his Facebook page to see a picture he himself posted after the alleged murder. McGhee posted a picture of a bloody wound, which he then made his profile picture, along with text saying "Didnt (sic) know I had it in me...bitch isfdead (sic)... arip (sic).. I'm next. No jail for meeee bbay(sic)

It's unknown whether the wound is from McGhee himself or his alleged victim, 25 year old Bianca McGaughey.

It was during my time on his Facebook that I noticed he and I have a mutual friend - Blogzilla 1985's own Louie Benson, who most recently came home after living in DDP's Accountability Crib with Page, Jake Roberts, and Scott Hall.

I asked my friend Louie if he had heard the news yet, which he responded by telling me that he was online when the picture and status was posted. Louie seemed rather heartbroken by the news, as he told me that McGhee seemed like a great person when the two spent time together in the late 2000's at LWA, which would later become St. Louis Anarchy not far from where our headquarters are located.

When asked his thoughts on the shocking news, Louie expressed a sentiment that seems to be common on McGhee's Facebook page in wake of the tragedy.

"I guess it's true what they say. It's always the ones you don't expect. I always thought he was a sweetheart." McGhee remains in Florida at Pasco County Jail tonight, where he waits until he is charged with first degree murder.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Live Love...Disappointment

In the year 1999 an alien space craft crashed on a small island in the Pacific ocean and would change the coarse of human history. Sadly this didn't happen in real life but anyone who was a fan of Robotech was waiting for it to come true when the fateful year rolled around.

Robotech aired in 1985, back when most animated shows were required to have at least 65 episodes in order to air. This 85 episode series was a collaborative project that reworked three preexisting Japanese cartoons into one series. Each of these cartoons would serve as a separate, but linear story for the over all series.

Despite being out of the spot light for many years, most anime fans of the 80's and 90's will know what it is if you say it's name. For some it can start a conversation that could go on for days. Granted I was a child of the 80's but Robotech didn't hit my radar until I was in high school. Cartoon Network was just starting to plan anime regularly in their new Toonami line up. With Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z already being popular hits in the line up they brought out Robotech to fill another genre of the medium. I watched the first episode, that they had a special airing of one Saturday night, and to be honest I wasn't really interested. I watched it off and on for a few episodes and still nothing really grabbed me.

Then "Bye Bye Mars" aired. The back story of, cranky first mate, Commander Lisa Hayse made me see her in a new light. There was a reason she was so damn by the book and hard. From there the episodes just got better. I wasn't disappointed again until the end of The Robotech Masters saga when rather than started the third story arch, The New Generation, Cartoon Network started back over at the episode one. What the hell? what about the new threat to Earth? Who are these Inivd? I needed to know. I wouldn't get to know. Cartoon Network never aired the final arch.

Once I started college Robotech was being released on dvd. Finally I was able to see the end of the series. I enjoyed it but like many fans I was left with questions. What happened to Rick Hunter and the rest of the SDF-3's crew? Where were the first generation Robotech fighters when all this chaos was going on back on Earth? Granted I had discovered the novels that retold the series and beyond, but as much as I liked reading them it wasn't the same as getting to watch.

In 2005, Robotech:Shadow Chronicles, was announced. It had been twenty years since the show was produced and fans were excited about the new project. The new story took place right where the series ended, brought back old familiar faces as well as some new ones. Most of the original cast returned as well, which own them big points in my book. It was amazing and got fans pumped back up about the older series. Remastered versions of the show were put out, as well as releases of the books and RPG resources. Hints of new projects were flying around, including more animated films and shorts, and the big news a live action film. Not much has been heard of the live action film in a while but just this past week a new animated feature was released; Robotech: Live Love Alive.

I was psyched, finally something new from Roboetch. Granted to see it I was going to have to buy Shadow Chronicles again, since they came bundled together, but I was willing to do that. While out doing some necessary errand running for the week, I tracked down a copy. DVD in hand it was only a matter of time now before the viewing goodness.

Live Love Alive, goes back to the Freedom Fighters of The New generation. This tale takes a closer look at Lancer "Yellow Dancer" Belmont and his role in the war. I love Lancer, he's an awesome character. An injured soldier running form the Invid, who's only chance at survival is to cross dress as a girl to go undetected. Then take that same female disguise and add a need for musical performance and Yellow Dancer is born. I love how Lancer's comfort level, be it as himself or as yellow, tends to make people awkward in one way or another. All and all this should have been a good movie, but I feel cheated.

Remember when Itchy and Scratchy got their own movie? There was that little tag at the end, what was it....

53% new footage.

In Live Love Alive, it's closer to 15% new animation and that's being generous. It's one over inflated recap episode. Basically they condensed the 3rd arch in 89 min. and added a some out of place CG of the mechs in space.

There was a small scene at the beginning, while they explained about the arrival of the Invid, that they showed some cool new footage of the Southern Cross Army and we get an updated design for Dana Sterling of the 15th squadron. Of the new footage it was by far the best looking.

Other wise the only other "new" animation was at the very end. It was of Lancer and Sera showing that they did end up together. That's all good and fine, but if you've read "The End of the Circle" (vol. 18 of the Robotech novel series) you already knew this. Plus they hinted at it pretty good at the end of the series as it was. It wasn't even done that well. I enjoyed the old reused animation better.

All I can say is that "Shadows Raising", the long delayed sequel to Shadow Chronicles, had better be freaking amazing to make up for this sad excuse for a feature. Maybe I'm at fault for not researching it enough first, but I was disappointed with what I got.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Quick Rant on George Zimmerman and the Media Monsters

If there is one thing that has united the mainstream media in presidential off season, it's George Zimmerman.

If you watch any of the major networks you'll see Zimmerman as they want you to see him portrayed - a crazy Klansman who routinely patrols the neighborhood in his all white battle tank, which is covered in the blood of innocent black children, in his never ending quest to quell the dark uprising. He's kind of like the Punisher, only instead of Frank Castle's family being murdered by gangsters, they were seen in the same neighborhood as African Americans and he swore an oath to right that injustice by murdering their kind.

Injustice. It's not just a fantastic game, it's a real thing, people. George Zimmerman is the poster boy of injustice now. He's a seven foot tall fire breathing negro killing racist machine designed to destroy anyone who isn't white. You know, despite the fact that he himself is not white. But that's a fact, why would the networks bother themselves with silly little things like that!

If you watch any of those networks and buy into the rhetoric they spit in their never ending quest for the almighty dollar, then you're an idiot. True journalism died decades ago and what we have now is nothing more than a new style of entertainment designed to scare and absorb you into their ratings stable. They're more akin to actors than newscasters, and the guys I grew up idolizing have either died or retired from this mockery of an institution they once proudly embodied.

In the initial "podcast" yesterday I touched on the fact that the Trayvon Martin story is still a major media event, and do you want to know want to know why it hasn't dissipated? Because the media found someone they could exploit, and they continue to exploit him thanks to people who can't more or think on their own. They need the puppeteer to guide them from one story to the next without the ability to see the world for themselves.

Trayvon Martin might as well be a character in reality TV. The whole case might as well be a Law & Order episode, and the mainstream media knows that they found a prime time story. This is up there on the level of who shot JR.

They will move on only when and if the public gets tired of Trayvon Martin, and then they move on to the next poor soul they can exploit. Maybe finally then that thirteen month old baby that was shot in the face will finally see justice. Unfortunately, until the ratings drop, neither will the exploitation of Trayvon's death, or the character assassination of George Zimmerman.

Trayvon was not an innocent angel, and George Zimmerman is not the devil. Neither of those facts make what happened to that seventeen year old any less tragic. However, we would be doing justice (remember that word?) a wrong by merely calling Zimmerman a racist devil that shot an innocent child, when none of that seems to be entirely true. He was in the neighborhood watch, he was well liked and helpful in his community, and by all accounts he was a damn decent guy. Trayvon was just a kid, but it saddens me that all of the negativity about Zimmerman was deemed crucial to the case, while all of the middle finger weaving and pot smoking from Martin was labeled a smear campaign to destroy this angelic icon of racial tension and injustice.


Within the past few days I read that Zimmerman was being praised as a hero for helping to save a family of four trapped under a car wreck. I then read on TMZ that the people under the car were white, and I think I threw up a little bit in my mouth. This was one of their top stories, like the fact that these people were white was the smoking gun in this story and that it taints any good he did by helping them.

Is that not injustice, as well?

Is TMZ insinuating that if they were black, he would have ignored them and kept driving?

Ridiculous. He would have pursued them nonetheless, even if the authorities had told him not to.

Monday, July 22, 2013

BZ85 Talky Picture Show for 7.22.13

You think it's easy writing for Blogzilla 1985?

Well, of course it is! Even an individual with no writing talent has an opinion, and if they can put that opinion into anything remotely similar to a coherent written thought they're welcome on this site. He'll, moist of us hear can barely talk English, much less wrote parigraphs.

But you know what's harder than writing something down? Talking about it when you've got a microphone in your face. Still, audio is the way of the future, and if BZ85 is to survive the coming blog apocalypse we have to adapt.

So, I've taken it upon myself to start adding audio and video segments to the site, and I'm both proud and terrified to bring the first attempt to you - the loyal Blogzilla fans.

Both of you.

So before we come up with some crazy cool name for these segments, and also get the kind of equipment that makes it sound professional or legible, I bring to you this "talky."

In it we explore a couple of random topics and end with some ranting and raving about Trayvon Martin.

Enjoy, if you can.

Comic Con Goes Gold!

About a year ago I discovered the Infinity Toys line of collector Jem and the Hologram dolls. Their first release was Hollywood Jem at San Diego International Comic Con and she was a huge success! The first series included the Classic Jem, her everyday persona Jerrica Benton, her boy friend and music tech Rio Pacheco, and the super computer Synergy.

These dolls sold out very quickly, though you can some times still find a few through various online doll stores. Other wise you are looking at serioiusly inflated prices on eBay and Amazon from private sellers.

This year Hasbro took the wheel and exclusively sold the Comic Con release for 2013. Jem was originally created by Hasbro so this only makes sense, though the dolls are still produced by Infinity Toys. The Glitter N' Gold dolls have been reborn, and I have to say look fabulous. Too bad I'll never get my hands on them. Back in the 80's it was kind of a big deal to get a gold record, so it was only natural that our favorite animated rock start would hit that mile stone.

I have the original Glitter N' Gold Jem still. She was my replacement Jem doll when my first one got broke at the baby sitter's house. It was worth the upgrade. What little girl wouldn't want their Jem doll to be decked out in gold metallic fabrics and have gold tinsel high lights? Even the cassette tape she came with had a gold foil label. I still have that too, though nothing to play ti on any more sadly. I never got the matching Glitter N' Gold Rio though to go with her. I wasn't that spoiled of a child. No those days of full collections as a kid were reserved for Rainbow Brite, but that's another story.

The new Infinity take on the Glitter N' Gold dolls are amazing. They've kept with the gorgeous new look they've given to the Jem line and have still kept all the classic nostalgia we crave. The costumes are dead on right down to the second outfit in white for Jerrica, minus the reversible aspect the 80's toy had. Even the stitching on the top is the same pattern as the classic. I also love that the Rio doll comes with the Glitter N' Gold album, complete with accurate cover art from the show. On a side note I remember the gold album episode also bringing to light bar code technology which was still new at the time. Crazy how far things have come right?  It those little details that I completely eat up and die for. Oh if only I had the extra money to spend on these treasures.

Aside from the new Comic Con releases, there were two other series releases in the past year. The first series came out in early September of 2012. Series two had a launch of late November that same year and brought us the Holograms. 

Kimber Benton: Jerrica's younger sister who plays keyboard and writes most of the band's music. She's the youngest in the group but easily also the most passionate. She's also the most fickled when it comes to love. The other girls stick pretty much to one guy through the whole series, but Kimber shops around a bit more. I never cared for her 80's doll, but I love the new version. her hair is just awesome!

Aja Leith: The original foster girl of Starlight House, she grew up with Jerrica and Kimber as if they were sisters. She also plays guitar for the group and if usually the one fixing the car and other technically problems that pop up around the foster home. She's not afraid to get a little dirty while getting the job done. Aja was always my favorite hologram. I think I just liked the idea of having blue hair. Must have been all the early anime influence in my life. Though she's of Chinese descent not Japanese.

Shana Elmsford: Starlight House's second foster girl she also grew up with her band members, though she was a shy girl music helped bring her out of her shell. Shana usually plays the drums in the group but she can play bass guitar as well. She's also a fashion designer and often creates the groups costumes for their shows. Shana's new doll got her hair a lot closer to her look in the show, but I still don't  entirely love it. I guess there's only so much you can do doll wise with what's basically an Afro. I do love that they color pretty much spot on this time around.

Another little fun fact: the last names of the band members come from scientists who were involved in holographic research.

Series three came to us this past May and brought fans the long awaited MISFITS. These are the dolls I actually really regret not getting a chance at. I hated them as  kid, but looking back now they had such a fun punkish style. The jaded side of me also loves their selfish tone of music. They're out for themselves and don't care of the world knows it.

First up with have the "bad girl" group's leader Pizzazz. Or Phyills Gabor, as her birth certificate reads. Pizzazz is a rich spoiled daddy's girl who get's whatever she wants, mainly because her father is always busy and makes up for his lack of time with money. Her goal is to become number one in the music charts and to be the world's biggest start. The world is there to adore her and if you want to do what she says you're more than welcome to tag along, until she get's sick of you.

Roxanne "Roxy" Pelligrini: is the "tough-as-nails" bass guitarist and also back up vocalist. She's a high school drop out from Philadelphia who's out for a free ride from Pizzazz. She was illiterate until one of the Starlight girls convinced her to learn how to read. Roxy is the most head strong of the Misfits, and though she'll back down from Pizzazz she doesn't like not getting her way.

Mary "Stormer" Phillips: is the verbal punching bag of the group. She is walked on by the other girls and rarely speaks up for herself for fear of rejection. Stormer plays keyboard, as well as writes all of the music for the group. Even though she's pretty much the creative force behind the group she get's next to no credit. She's generally a good girl, but has to act bad to fit in with her "friends", though she does seem to truly enjoy the harmless mischief they do. It's the more dangerous stuff she will object to, but still get dragged along. if things had worked out differently Stormer would have fit in fine with the Holograms.

Also released this summer was Broadway Magic Jem. She was an exclusive for W Club members and has already sold out. She came with a stage back drop cut out as well for display. Have I mentioned that I love seeing all these costumes from the show coming to life?

Finally this fall Jem and the Hologram fans and collectors will finally be able to add members of the third band to their collections. The Stingers are up for pre-order with an estimated shipping date some time this September. The Stingers appeared in the final season of Jem but their toys never made it to the sales floor. Pictures of prototypes exist, but were never made. Though I've seen my fair share of good customs out there, these will be the first official Stingers dolls.  would love to get them but there's so many other things that need to be paid for instead.

While the Holograms sing about good will and the Misfits are about selfishness, I guess the Stinger's theme would be greed or excess. They come from a ruff start, playing on the streets of Europe and nearly starving to death until they got a fan following and a big break.
"Riot", Rory Llewelyn is the charismatic leader of the Stingers. He's very aloof and can be highly arrogant but he's a talented musician and the back bone of his group. He was forced to join the army by his overly strict father, but his love of music made him decide to go AWOL and join a band while stationed in Germany.

"Minx", Ingrid Kruger was the synthesizer player in the band that Riot first joined. When he had creative differences with their leader she saw the potential he had and left the group with him to start their own group. Minx, like Riot is also arrogant and self-centered, but she will take advice from Riot and even looks up to him a bit. She's a highly manipulative woman and takes pride in the fact that she can have any man she wants, though she get's board easily and tossing them side like yesterday's trash. Surprisingly Minx is very tech savvy  and often builds her own equipment.

"Rapture" Phoebe Ashe was the final member to join the group. She plays guitar and along with Minx sings back up. Rapture is a top notch con-artist and pretty much an expert on the occult which helps on her ticks more often than not. She's highly intelligent an quick to react to almost any situation which makes her a great performer on and off stage. 

These three not only cause trouble for the Holograms, but they through the Misfits into chaos as well, seeing that Pizzazz falls head over heals for Roit, while the Stinger's lead has eyes only for Jem. As evil and terrible as this group is I love them. I figured I would want the Minx doll but after seeing them I really love the Rapture doll. They toned down her Flock of Seagulls hair style and yet she still looks dead on. Their black and yellow costumes make them look like the most complete group, and helps to show off their musical edge.

 All and all the Infinity Jem line is going strong. If their releases follow suite a fifth set should be due out in Nov. again. We've yet to see the final Hologram, Raya and the forth Misfit, Jetta. They're sure to be in this set. I look forward to also seeing rival cousins Vivian "Video" Montgomery and Constance "Clash" Montgomery. I would also love to see Dance and Astra get dolls as well as the evil Eric Raymond and the ever androgynous Rat. If video DJ Lindsey Pierce "Lin-Z" get's a doll I may finally have to find a way to get one of these. I look forward to what Infinity Toys brings us next with this line.

Dennis Farina Dead at 69

Reports coming from pretty much everywhere that veteran actor Dennis Farina has passed away today.

Farina was born in Chicago, and started as a police officer there from 1967-1985 before trying his hand at acting, where he found great success in films like Snatch and Get Short. He was also a star on the small screen during a memorable run on Law & Order, which is where my fondest memories of him come from.

Dennis Farina leaves behind three adult children from a previous marriage, and a rep for the actor says he was survived by "the love of his life of 35 years, Marianne Cahill." He reportedly died from a blood clot in his lungs.

He will be forever remembered as the no nonsense kind of character the world sorely misses today.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Good Old Days....

I recently got around to watching "Oz the Great and Powerful". I enjoyed it, but it really just made we want to watch "The Wizard of Oz" again. I loved that movie as a kid and could probably still quote along with it. It's just one of those movies that stuck with me as I grew up.
It got me thinking about what films I watched over and over again, and yet I could still go back to them now and love them just as much if not more. So I present to you ten films that can sum up my childhood.

A Few Tweeks for Twelve

Season twelve of Project Runway has arrived. This time around the designers have a chance at the largest prize package in the show's history. The winner will receive $150,000 from GoBank, a new bank account designed to be used from mobile phones; $50,000 of next generation technology from HP and Intel; a year's supply of Resource Natural Spring Water and an all-expense paid, spa trip for two to Maldives, courtesy of Resource Water; the chance to design and sell an exclusive collection at Belk; a complete sewing and crafting studio from Brother Sewing and Embroidery; a fashion spread in Marie Claire magazine; a 2014 Lexus IS 350; a $100,000 fabric allowance from Tide Pods; and a $50,000 styling contract with L'Oréal Paris. This prize package is worth more than half a million dollars. Damn..... maybe I should really get back onto that whole learning how to sew thing...

Aside from the crazy prize load, this season they introduced "Runway Redemption." Fans of the show got to vote on three designer, from past season, that they would like to see given a second chance.  personally voted for Valery from season 8 but Kate from season 11 won the vote and will be strutting her stuff again. I didn't care too much for Kate's attitude in the last season, but I'm willing to be open minded towards her again.

The other big change is on the runway itself. Our favorite mentor, Tim Gunn, will now be joining the judges on the runway. He won't actually be judging the looks but he'll be there to help give insight to the creation process and answer any questions the judges may have on what went on in the work room. Tim being on the runway will also allow the judges to get an up close look at the designs before they make their final decisions on who goes home and who wins the week's challenge.

As far as judging goes, each design will remain anonymous until after the looks have walked the runway and been scored. Only then will it be revealed to the judges who did what work. Though if the designer is clear in their own design voice they judges will be able to tell who made it any way....
Finally Tim has been given a new power, the "Tim Gunn Rescue." If he strongly disagrees with a decision the judges make he can save the designer from elimination and give them a second chance. The catch is he can only do this once. Someone this season will be saved by Mr. Gunn, but who will that designer be....

With the formalities aside let's take a look at how season twelve has started.
This season started things off with the unconventional challenge. The designers were greeted not only by Heidi and Tim, but also by 16 sky divers with brightly colored para-shoots. The para-shoots would be their materials for the challenge, and with them they would have to show the judges their point of view as a designer. In the work room they were also given similar fabric in black and white to use as supplemental materials. They were also given a day and a half to complete their looks.

A few designers have already made an impression on me, and not all of them good. Alexandria for one is very confident, she's already said she was going to win the first challenge. News flash dear, you were safe. You have to at last get in the top three to have a chance at winning. If she stays this full of herself it's gonna get old fast. Her design was well made, but personal I wasn't impressed with it. She may not understand the meaning of failure but I don't think she understands how irritating she's going to become either...

Another designer that already has me rolling my eyes is Timothy. He's a so called "sustainability" designer. So all natural is his deal. He took it to the point that he wouldn't let the hair and make up artists do much of anything to his model. No make up, no hair products, he wouldn't even let them use a hair dryer or iron on the girl's hair. I felt so bad for the model, she felt very singled out when all of the other girls got the full runway treatment. It's all fine a good to be aware of nature and wanting to preserve it, but his
extreme on it is going to wear thin fast in book. Judge Zac Posen also made a point to bring out Timothy's own contradiction in his design. He used a lighter to burn a texture into his fabric, which mind you is a synthetic plastic that when burned releases toxins into the air. With his model looking like a plane crash victim he found his way into the bottom three, yet managed to sneak through and survive to the next week.

Miranda and Timothy are actually designers from the same city, and her attitude toward him from the start should have been a give away to his personality. I just though she was being a bitch.... nope she was right he should just be ignored some times. Miranda herself though seems a bit awkward to me. She had a very strong sense to her, probably from her time in the military, but she's already from the start not following the rules. The designers were told that the extra material was to be added for touches not the full look. And yet she still went and used mostly the black additive fabric for her look, only using her para-shoot for accents. The judges had her in the top three until they learned of this. She found her rank doing a 180 to the bottom for not following orders. Her two piece dress stood out, but I wasn't a fan. I'd have liked it better as a full dress.

Despite his good sewing skills Sandro also found himself in the bottom this week. His taste level was highly questionable to the judges, dressing his model up like a Vegas show girl in the 1920's. It also didn't help that in his design her lady parts were hanging out the bottom. Poor girl, she did her best to stay covered up, but there's not much you can do when you have to reveal and turn at the end of the run way.

Rounding out the bottom three designers was Angela. Her hooded dress looked more like a poncho and left everyone in the judges chairs wonders where the rest of her look was. On closer inspection her sewing skills weren't up to par either and she was voted out. I was a little sad to she her go so soon, cause from the start she seemed like a nice person. I liked her personality and was excited to see what she'd make through the run of the show. Guess my design senses are starting off rocky this go around.
Kate, the returning designer from season 11, found herself safely in the middle much to her disappointment. I know I said I'd stay open minded and give her an chance. Though she does seem to be being nicer this time around I also feel like she's trying too hard to be nice. Though I will admit it was funny to watch her almost face plant running to grab the para-shoot she wanted to use. The dress she made was girly and cute, but I didn't feel like it was anything special.
Also in the safe zone was Justin. I thought his pink dress was simple but pretty. It had nice movementto it and was just plain cute. Justin is another first in Project Runway history. Just like all the others he is a capable designer out there looking for his chance, so what makes him a runway first? He's their first hearing impaired designer. His explanation made me smile a bit "When people first meet me they think I'm from another country. No I'm just deaf." He has an interpreter for when they receive their challenges, just to make sure he doesn't miss anything, but in the work room he's on his own. I like the laid back attitude he's been showing so far, and in some ways being deaf give him an advantage. If the other designers are being rowdy or starting to bother him he quite literally turn them out and focus on his own work. I'm curious to see how far Justin will make it.

Sue was surprisingly in the top three this week. I wasn't too big on her look, but the judges found it charming. I really don't get their taste some times... I will say the woman has guts though. She had to ask for help from one of the other designers cause she wasn't sure how to use the sewing machine. With the level of competition this show hosts it had to have taken some balls to admit you weren't sure how to use basic equipment. 

I also give points to Dom who was nice enough to hep out a fellow designer when she could have just ignored the woman. Dom's look landed her safely in the middle. It was sporty but not something I'd want to wear. I'd like to see what else she can come up with though. 

I am happy to report that my favorite look of the week wound up being the winner. Bradon made a mad dash for the paras-shoot he wanted, jumping over a fallen Kate in the process. Not being use to the type of fabric he wasn't sure what it was capable of doing, so rather than drawing a plan out he just started playing with the fabric. What he ending up going with turned out great. It was pretty, intricate without being over worked and flowed beautifully on the runway. I was happy to see him win and I look forward to his next creation.

So far season twelve seems to off to a good start. I know I didn't cover all the designers but hopefully the rest will make something attention grabbing this week to make me spot light them as well. I have yet to pick who I want to win but a few are on my "to watch" list already.

Until next time.