15 SECOND MEMORIES

Lately I have had old commercial jingles running through my head. I think it has been prompted by the bankruptcy filing and subsequent closures of many Toys R Us stores. It all started with the Toys R Us jingle, “I don't wanna grow up, I'm a Toys R Us kid” and went on from there.

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Do you remember the tootsie roll jingle or even the Oscar Mayer bologna song? It is strange how those 15 second songs can become engrained in our heads and define a small piece of our childhood.

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Many of the jingles from those commercials got us to buy the product that was sold.  Many of the product pitch lines stick with us as well.  If someone says “LETGO” does not “my Eggo” enter your mind?  What about “Follow my nose”? Does not “It always knows” come to mind.  These advertisers knew what they were doing.  Modern day advertisers are getting back into that mindset as well.  Taglines and jingles must be memorable for us to buy a product.

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The same goes for cartoon related toys.  Tell me that the G.I. Joe theme song does not still resonate with you.  Do you remember the intro to Captain Planet?  Star Trek anyone?  “To boldly go where no man has gone before” (y’all know that they changed “man” to “one” for Next Generation right?).  The sound of a transformer transforming brings chills to the skin of any fan.  Toys are just one of the many products that a good jingle or tagline can entice a person to buy.  

“Thunder. Thunder.”

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You finished the line, didn’t you?  

 

Be not embarrassed the next time someone says “Well now you know,” and you blurt out, “and knowing is half the battle.  G.I. Joe!!!”  It is okay to let that flag fly.  Why is it okay?  Because a lot of the people around you that hear you say that, they were thinking the same thing.  It just might lead to you making a great, new friend.

Remember my friends, don’t hide who you are.  Collect what you love.  Surround yourself with people who respect you.  Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Have an excellent day everyone.

CHIMICHANGA!!!!!         

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Anna D

First Lady of the ROC

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It's Not About How Hard You Can Hit

It's “Collect and Connect” in the ROC, right? Well, please bear with me.

My last weeks have been very hard, and I just wanted to share and hope that a few comments pop up as this is not supposed to only be a new blog entry, but also a share of my mind.

I am single again and the last few weeks were the process of the break up…slowly, yet surely.  I won´t dive too deep into the topic, but pretty much everybody here knows me…so feel invited to hit me up, and I’ll tell you the story.

Today I want to talk about the hard times in the hobby. The times where it doesn't help because you are too occupied by the giant claw around your heart which is sucking all the joy out of everything.  I wonder, am alone in this? Am I alone with this feeling that not even plastic crack helps in ANY way, shape, or form??

I stopped watching the podcasts for a while, I didn´t tend to my new Voltron, I had no energy to do new reviews or photoshoots. I didn´t look at Power Baser nor did I think about finally posting my photos. The only thing I was able to do was to sit on my couch in my collection room and have a pretty blank stare into my TV, trying to rhyme together the plot of “Altered Carbon” on Netflix.

That was 2 weeks ago…

Last Monday (meaning February 12th and yes…my valentine´s day was hell), I went down the drain terminally. I grabbed a travel bag, yelled at my ex-girlfriend, and my father picked me up. I left everything behind…I only grabbed a few movies.

I didn´t even think about it. After a few days, there was the need to return. My cat hadn´t seen me in days (she needed cat food), and I wanted to see my stuff.  I entered our apartment…both cats came running at me and I felt it all crashing before my eyes.  The life I knew was gone. Soon there would only be one cat. Soon she would be gone and with her…our memories, everything that we planned, everything we were, and everything we wanted to be. Tears streamed down my face as I stroked both cats gently.  I needed to get out. I couldn´t handle it.

That´s what the next days were…I stayed at my father’s…had no contact with my ex-girlfriend and didn´t have my stuff.   I felt numb, lost, and betrayed. I thought about ordering FAAAAAANS TOOOOOOYS Sovereign (yes, I´m better while I´m writing this. If you bear with me, you´ll understand), but I opted out. Not consciously…I just lost the thought.

Another fast forward to Saturday: I went to meet a good friend that returned to my side a few months ago and we went to see Black Panther…tipsy-toeing back into the stuff that I loved. 134min of silence for my mind and heart.

Afterwards, we went to our main-stay-bar called the “Yesterday.”  There I was struck and here is where my caption continues:

“…It´s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”

A girl was sitting at the bar and won´t tell you anything specific as it is too fresh, but she helped me. She is beautiful, fresh, smart, outgoing, and put the biggest band-aid on me. 4 hours later I’m walking home smiling, and I even had the chance to talk to my ex-girlfriend yesterday (Monday, February 19th, 2018). We parted amicably and she will leave our place March 16th…and I have plans (new shelf life is coming then).

And today (February 20th 2018), I will see the girl from Saturday again…that helped me get my head back on straight, enjoy everything, and it´s not that she defines me again. I need to never let myself be defined by another person, there´s only one life and you need to get out of the swamp by yourself, but sometimes…there is someone that helps to get you back into the swing of things. I can concentrate again on work, friends, hobbies, and I don´t have the claw around my heart and I can just look at the sun and think: I am me.  I define myself and even if a few people have advised me not to rush things, it feels so good.  Plastic crack is back in my life (active Hulkbuster hunt currently) and how everything feels…I´m back to being me and ready for new things, and with this, I’ll let Fred Durst tell the rest:

“But what do you think?
We could give it a try
'Cause you never know.
Maybe we could be soul mates

But maybe not,
But maybe so.
If you never try
Then you'll never know

The grass could be greener (could be)
And it will always be greener on the other side
But you…just never know.

This could be the one!”

Thx for bearing with me, talk soon and never forget:

KEEP. MOVING. FORWARD.

-         Tim Kay

Paul C’s Top 10 Toys Of The Year

Well, it’s now the end of the month, and that means it’s finally time to put out my Top 10 Toys list for the year.  “But Paul, it’s January 31st.  You’re supposed to get this kind of list out by DECEMBER 31st!  You’re a month late!”  Sure, if we use that calendar, I am indeed late, BUT I have a loophole!  Like fellow member of the ROCFam AznKidMatt, I am Asian.  That means I can use…Chinese New Year! 

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Yes, that’s why this list is coming out on January 31st, not because I collect so many different lines that I needed an extra month to whittle it down.  And besides, my wife and I are having a baby soon, so Lay Off Me!    

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Ahem.  Anyway, without further delay (since this is already so delayed), here are my Top 10 Toys of 4715!

10) Titans Return Sky Shadow

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Yes, you read that correctly.  That’s a mainline Hasbro figure in my top 10 and SPOILER, more are coming (#hailhasbro!).  As you’ll be able to tell from the rest of this list, I love to play with my toys.  Not only does this toy look great, but it works incredibly well.  Most complaints about this figure are: He’s a headmaster (not canon), he has waffles, and he shouldn’t turn into a jet and a plane.  None of those things bother me.  As one who loves a fun toy over a slavish recreation of the source material, I’m completely on board with the changes.  His face sculpt is great, his transformation is surprisingly easy and intuitive for combining 2 vehicles into one robot, and he’s solid as hell!  The only thing that keeps him from being higher up on the list is the lack of a waist swivel and the fact that he can’t hold his gun as well.  Small potatoes compared to actually getting all 3 well-scaled Phase Sixers in the same retail toyline.  Whoever would have thought this day would come?

9) The Iron Factory Seekers

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I’m compiling these all into one entry as I don’t remember which ones actually came out this year.  I love Legends figures.  I’m right up there with our more prominent members of the ROCFam (Deluxe, AceMilo, Robert D, etc).  Though I definitely enjoy the G1 stylings of the DX9 Legends Seekers, for me, there’s no comparison.  The Iron Factory offerings win.  I like their beefy proportions and I like the Raptor stylization, but where IF wins out over DX9 is in the engineering.  Look at the comparison shots below. 

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From left to right, we have DX9, Hasbro, and Iron Factory.  IF is significantly smaller than DX9 in jet mode, but upon transformation, they are almost the same height.  Very impressive.  I’m not saying the DX9 is bad by any means.  I just like the IF for what it has accomplished.  Plus, a BAF clear Seeker?  As someone who loves clear Transformers as much as Deluxe, that was my jam.  Well played, Iron Factory.

8) Titans Return Triggerhappy (and his mold mates Misfire and Sluglinger)

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For me, these guys are among the best of the Titans Return line.  I never would have thought we’d get this set of the Decepticon Targetmasters.  Cyclonus and Scourge always get a lot of love, but never these guys.  Getting them all was a treat, but the big bonus is that they’re great toys!  Yes, they share a mold, but they have surprisingly different personalities in hand (probably from those colors), and their transformations feel surprisingly different despite all being retools.  There’s enough that’s different about them so as to not feel boring.  It certainly helps that the transformations are surprisingly complex (but not difficult) for a retail deluxe figure.  Kudos, Hasbro!

7) Iron Factory Bridge Watcher

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Another great entry from Iron Factory.  He’s a nice chunky bot of a Shockwave, isn’t he?  His proportions are similar to Quakewave, and that’s a good thing.  His transformation isn’t difficult (once you figure out how to transform those legs.  Man, how many reviews made that leg transformation seem like a nightmare?  It’s super easy once you understand the sequence), and you end up with a great bot and a great gun.  He even comes with swappable hands (on a Legends figure!).  What’s not to like?   

6) Titans Return Top Spin and Twin Twist

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Remember what I said 2 entries ago about the TR Triggerhappy mold?  You can pretty much copy and paste that here.  These are a bit higher on the list for me because they were even more unexpected (for me).  These guys both transform into nonsensical vehicles.  They were both gimmick-ridden G1 toys that weren’t great, though they held a special place in many hearts.  I never thought we’d get the pair of these guys, much less a pair that looked great and had yet another fun, complex transformation.  Plus, I LVOE WRECKERS!  #WreckAndRule!

5) MMC Kultur

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I am a big fan of the IDW comics.  The first few years of MTMTE and RID really sucked me in and I was dying to get representations of those IDW guys on my shelves.  This was particularly true of the DJD.  The first 2 MMC offerings looked great, but had very particular transformations.  They weren’t much fun, though it was worth it to get them on my shelf.  Tarn here bucked that trend.  Not only did he look great, but his transformation was simple by comparison.  Simple isn’t necessarily a bad thing in this case.  To go from a chunky tank to a chunky bot shouldn’t be tough.  This one was simple enough to be fun, yet involved enough to not be mind-numbing.  I have no problem PLAYING with this guy while I’m watching TV, and because of that, he gets a lot of love from me.

4) Unique Toys Perukill

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What more can be said about this guy?  He’s takes the #1 spot on a lot of lists, and he’s well deserving of that spot. Hell, he is my top Transformer, and that says a lot.  He looks incredible in both modes, and his transformation is truly special.  I still don’t really understand how we were able to get a kibble-free Bayformer.  Those designs are Kibble City, yet this one manages to pull it off spectacularly.  The only reason this isn’t my #1 is because he basically stands alone on my shelf.  I don’t have any other MP Movie figures, and I don’t plan on getting any more (unless they turn out like this).

3) Lego Ninjago City

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You all knew I was going to have some Lego representation on this list, didn’t you (check out Building Up To It every Friday on the Bricks On The Dollar YouTube or on your preferred audio format)?  Well, this set is a doozy!  At nearly 5,000 pieces, this could have been a very tedious and “complicated” build.  I’m glad to say that this one was a blast to put together.  The box art (done by one Bobby Skullface) looks amazing, but there’s no way it would look like that in person, right?  Well, check this out:

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It is every bit as impressive in person as it is on that box.  Even if you didn’t watch the Lego Ninjago Movie (I understand that it’s an acquired taste), there’s still a story to tell with this set.  As is the case with the (real) super-crowded Asian metropolises, this structure is built from the bottom up.  Things are added on top of each other, and this allows a story to unfold.  The bottom level is decidedly old-school.  Lots of stone carvings and structures and there’s a river running through it that you can traverse on a boat.  In the name of progress, modernization must occur.  Let’s just add upwards!  The upper levels are decidedly modern with things like a crab restaurant, a comic shop, an ATM, and even a rooftop sushi restaurant (with a sushi conveyor belt!).  One really fun thing about the build is that cherry blossom tree that you can see on the right of the pics.  It gets built layer by layer as you complete each floor of the city.  It’s not until you finish the blossoms that you realize that you’ve been building an overgrown tree the entire time.  Much like the modern stores and restaurants being built on top of the traditional, the traditional cherry blossom tree is coming through the modern.  I love little details like that.  The play features on this set are just immense (did I mention it comes with 16 minifigures?), and once again, I love to play with my toys. 

2) SH Figuarts Bruce Lee

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Any member of the Realm knows how great a Figuarts figure can be.  Super poseable, blistering with accessories, and typically a great likeness to the source material, these are truly action figures for adults.  In that sense, this figure is nothing special.  I own many Figuarts figures and they’re all great.  There’s something about this one though…The likeness is uncanny, and the poseability is very appropriate for Bruce Lee.  I’d love to have Figuarts poseability with all of my toys, but having it on a martial artist is just gravy.  The funny thing is that I don’t really put him in many of your typical action/fight poses.  I love to pose him in that split second before the fight begins…that moment of tension before it all goes down.  You can see the almost feel his muscles tensing up before springing into action.  My true confirmation on the greatness of this figure, though, is that my entire family took notice of it.  I cracked this guy open over Christmas, and as I typically do, I played with it on my own.  I don’t draw much attention when I’m playing with my toys.  Every time someone new walked by it, they were taken aback with how impressive it was.  The poses, the likeness, everything.  If a normie will immediately understand the greatness of a toy without needing explanation from me, I consider that a win.

1) Diaclone Big Powered GV

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Man, this thing is one impressive beast.  The price point will immediately put this out of many a comfort zone, but if you also like to play with your toys, do yourself a favor.  Find a Japanese retailer and pick this up.  It’s amazing.  Much like Vehicle Voltron, Big Powered here is made up of multiple vehicles.  What is even more impressive is that those vehicles can all interact with each other.  Connect one piece to another.  Open them up and play with the crane.  Collapse the mech suit and transport it.  And when you’re done with all of that?  Combine them all into a GIANT ASS ROBOT!  Everything about this entire line is a throwback to an earlier time.  Motorized play features, transformations, magnets, clips, everything you remember from your childhood is here…and it’s solid as hell.  No need to worry about poor DX9 tolerances or loose TFC joints.  You can bash this thing around without fear of…anything, really.

So that’s my top 10!  As you can see, my tastes are very varied, but the running theme is that I love to play with my toys!  I know this isn’t the case with everyone else’s sensibilities.  What toys made your top list this past year?

(You know what?  Because I love to talk about toys, here are a few Honorable Mentions in no particular order):

Marvel Legends Marvel Knights

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I’m a big fan of the Marvel Netflix shows (though they vary in quality), and I’m really happy to see them represented on my shelf, especially looking as good as they do.  Just a bit more poseability would have put them on my top 10.  I look forward to seeing more in later waves (I want a Kingpin, Black Suit Daredevil, Luke Cage…)

Titans Return Trypticon

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I am so pumped to have an updated Trypticon toy.  This is the kind of Generations figure I love.  A modernized interpretation of the G1 toy.  It looks good in all modes, and it is a great use of the play features of the line.  Plus, he can eat Titan Masters!  Just a fun piece all around.

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Lego Minifigures

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Representing both Marvel and DC here, I’ve picked a sprinkling of some of Lego’s offerings this year.  We have some of the more ridiculous members of Batman’s Rogues Gallery, the stars of Marvel’s newest buddy comedy, and The Spirit Of Vengeance.  If you don’t think these are charming as fuck, you might be dead inside.

Marvel Legends BAF Warlock

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Show of hands.  Who actually thought we’d ever get a Warlock figure, much less one that looked as incredible as this?  No one did.  Put your hands down.  You’re lying. 

MMC Calidus - Shadow Ghost Version (TFCon USA Exclusive)

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Solid figure, fun transformation, great color scheme, and I love a mustachioed bot.  Excellent!

Lego Ninjago Movie Fire Mech

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If you listen to Building Up To It, you know I love me a good mech suit.  This one absolutely fits the bill.  It looks incredible!  The only thing that kept it off of my Top 10 is that it’s not as poseable as it looks, at least not out of the box.  There are some great mods out there that will give it a knee bend, etc, but because you have to do that on your own, it gets dinged.

Paul C

IG: @paulchiu1

Twitter: @paulchiu1

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What Do You Think Of When You Hear The Word "Geek" or "Nerd?"

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What do you think of when you hear the word ‘geek’ or ‘nerd?'

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Most people think of fat guys with neckbeards who live in their mother’s basement eating Cheetos and chugging Mountain Dew.  

Hardly ever does the image of a well groomed, physically fit, good looking young man come to mind.  Even rarer still does the image of a woman, any woman, any female at all, come to mind.

Alas, it is true.  We, as female geeks and nerds, are not often thought of when hearing those words.  Many times, it is with a kind of fascination that female geeks/nerds are viewed with. When attending a Comic-Con, females are often seen as, “The sweet wife/girlfriend tagging along with their husband/boyfriend”.  She is not typically seen as a fellow geek/nerd.  

I understand that not a lot of this blog’s audience is female, and I equally understand that not many of the blog’s readers read my entries just because it is so very female oriented.  My apologies.  I wanted to remind all the readers that in this lovely nerdom (that we are all members of), there are a great many females that feel somewhat alienated.  They are seen as an anomaly, not the norm.

I want to use this entry to inform all the males in this group, that yes, there are many females with similar interests to you.  Yes, we do exist.  Yes, it is entirely possible that you have underestimated that beautiful woman you met at that last Comic-Con.  And yes, the Voltron Black Lion she was holding was for her collection, not for somebody else.

Ladies, I am here to invite you, all of you, to let your geek side shine. Post up the pictures of your collections.  Send in those “What’s in the Fucking Box” videos (editor’s note:  send all video submissions to entertherealmcast@gmail.com).  Let us see your nerd life.  In this community, all are welcome.  Come inside and chill at the Cool Table. Bring your figures, your fanart, your folded T-shirts (yes Eddie, I said folded), sit down and enjoy.  

 

Much love to everyone in the Realm.  Have a great day and remember that it doesn’t matter if anyone else loves your collection as long as you love your collection.

Anna DuBois

First Lady Of The ROC

 

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Obligatory Ranking- Top 5 of 2017

Ah, New Year’s Day. The day we celebrate the end of one year and the hopeful new beginnings of the next. It’s the time of year where we make resolutions to do things we didn’t do the year before and when we reflect on all the things we’ve truly accomplished.

As collectors, it’s the time where we remember all the amazing things we saw, held, and played with, and above all, we honor those figures that stand out to us. 2017 left me with my jaw on the ground so many times, I started to get road rash on my chin. It was a flood of awesome! 3rd Party companies stepped up the game, Takara Masterpiece shocked us, and Hot Toys continues its quest to tempt my wallet into suicide. Yeah, I’ll just continue to enjoy them from afar…

I’m primarily a Transformers fan, so obviously my list will be biased towards the franchise. You know, budgets and adulting and all, so a collector must stay (at least a little) focused. So, without further delay here’s my top 5 figures of 2017.         

#5) Maketoys Downbeat                                                                               

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Downbeat brought the beat. When I was a child, Jazz was one of the coolest G1 characters. He spoke with a hip accent, reminding me of the Soul and Jazz musicians I listened to with my older family. He was a fast car, a smooth talker, and even managed to bust a move occasionally. Plus, he was voiced by Scatman himself. What’s not to love?

#4) MMC Kultur

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Coming back into the fandom, I was introduced to the IDW comics. IDW took the Transformers franchise and expanded it greatly! Great, in-depth stories, fresh takes on background stories, and most of all, new characters! Chief among them for me was Megatron’s team of ruthless Internal Affairs enforcers, the DJD. This group of psychopaths was led by the devilish and twisted Tarn. A sociopathic control freak with a penchant for talking victims to death, he was the evil the Decepticons needed. Hidden behind his Decepticon symbol mask was the true mind of a killer. Sinister and dangerous, he was even too much for Megatron to control.

#3) Takara Masterpiece Cheetor

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I’ll admit, I was late to the Beast Wars game. I was a G1 kid, and Beast Wars came out as I was graduating high school. I was far more interested in racing motorcycles, skateboarding, and picking up girls. It wasn’t until my son started showing an interest in the line that I came back, and boy, am I glad I did! The early CGI animation was a little campy, but for the time I’d say it was well done! What caught me was the story. Beast Wars had a very solid writing team, which resulted in a very tight and integrated bit of fiction. The characters had strong personalities, and it was darker and grittier than G1. Plus, beast modes were cool. I had seen animal based designs in the TF world before, but they were always just styled to look like machine versions of those beasts. These guys were full on organic animals! The more I watch this show, the more I like it. It’s edged G1 out of my second-place slot of favorite show, with TF Prime currently sitting at #1.

#2) Titan Returns Trypticon

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Trypticon holds a special place in my heart. It was my first G1 titan and one that my grandmother purchased for me. She and I spent many, many hours playing with Transformers when I was a kid, and Trypticon was always our centerpiece. He was big, chunky, and so much fun! My grandmother was one of the most important people in my life. She more or less raised me, and she is responsible for a lot of who I am today. Unfortunately, she passed away just before Christmas 2016 at the age of 95, so when I managed to score this big guy on release at my local Toys R Us, I was overrun with memories and emotions. I won’t lie, I had a few tears in my eyes when I opened him up, remembering the same day I opened my original one with her at the kitchen table. The feels, man, the feels! TR Trypticon is a reminder to me why I’m in this hobby.

#1) X-Transbots Klaatu

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I’ve bought some stunning figures this year. I’ve bought more expensive figures, more detailed figures, and more highly revered ones, but my number 1 spot goes to this chunky little weirdo. I’ve always found Cosmos to be a silly character in G1. He’s a UFO, he’s fat, and he’s a bit of a comedian. There is nothing about “robot in disguise” with this dude. As a kid, I had the original minibot toy, and he practically lived in my pocket. I took him everywhere! I picked up XTB Klaatu on a recommendation from the ROCfather himself and a few others. It was a close, near coin toss moment between XTB and the MMC offering. I’m very glad I chose Klaatu! He’s chunky and hefty, and I can’t stop flipping him back and forth between modes. He lives on my desk, always within reach. Sure, he won’t fit in my pocket anymore, but he’s the most fun figure I’ve purchased in a long time.

 

2017 was full of greatness. So many honorable mentions! I did spend a lot of the year buying backlog figures (I started collecting far later than most), and I’m switching from CHUG scale to MP/3rd Party. Toyworld Seaspray was hard not to put on the top 5 as was Badcube Huff 2.0. The Titans Return line gave us some cool renditions of Topspin and Twintwist that will be great until a 3rd party company does MP scale versions. There are also several figures I missed due to budget that I will pick up in 2018 if I can find them. Perfect Effect Beast Gorira, KFC Apeface and Snapdragon (I forget the KFC names), XTB Eligos and Andras, just to name a few. 2018 is looking to give us a proper Arcee from Fans Toys, some Aerialbot goodness from Zeta Toys, and of course, Takara Masterpiece Dinobot. Needless to say, I’ll be looking for as much overtime as I can get this year!

Happy New Year to my ROC family, and I look forward to 2018 with you all!

Rob Milton

Instagram @Robsrobits

 

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Helpful Holidays

I was shopping in my local Wal-Mart the other day.  Just picking up some last minute gifts, Mountain Dew, and of course some Cheese Curls.  I turn the corner into one of the toy aisles to find a Transformer for my nephew. As I was checking out the display of what few Transformers they had to offer, I saw a woman pick up a figure, look at it quizzically, then hang it back on the peg.  She seemed confused about what she was looking at.  She was obviously, not a collector.  I knew I had to try to help.

 

“Are you looking for a Transformer for a child?” I asked casually.  She turned to look at me with what can only be called concern.  “Um, yes I am.”, she answered. Obviously unsure about where this conversation was headed.  “I am a collector.” I responded quickly. I was trying to put her at ease that I wasn’t some weirdo woman stalking the toy aisles. I smiled and asked “What age child are you shopping for?”

 

She appeared to relax and responded, “He’s eight,” she said, “and I have no idea what any of these toys are.”  I smiled, scanned the limited choices and then picked up a Bumblebee from the Robots in Disguise line.  I handed it to her and said “He might like this one.  It has an easy transformation that won’t frustrate him very much but is fun to do, and there is a current cartoon series that he will be able to relate the character to.” 

To say she was completely relieved would be an understatement.  This young person she was buying for must mean a lot to her.  You wouldn’t fret over a toy that much if they didn’t.  She turned the package over and over in her hand, reading everything written there.  She seemed intrigued by this toy.  I picked up the figure I was going to buy for my nephew and scanned the small section for anything new.  The woman put the Bumblebee into her cart, smiled a huge smile, thanked me again, and then walked off. 

I finished my stroll through the toy aisles, replaying the encounter in my mind.  A smile crept onto my face and I was truly happy to have helped that woman out.  As humans we should always try to help one another when possible.  As collectors, that means we should use our passion for good, not evil.  Share what you know if you can.  If you see a person who clearly needs some guidance on a toy purchase, please help them.  That just might be the purchase that gives birth to another collector.

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Anna "First Lady Of The ROC" DuBois

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R.O.C.K Reviews: Hot Toys 1/6th Arkham Knight

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Producer: Hot Toys
Height: Approx. 12”
Weight: N/A
Where to buy: SideShow Collectibles:  

https://www.sideshowtoy.com/collectibles/dc-comics-batman-hot-toys-902934/

Hot Toys ramps up its gaming sub line with this homage to the “Arkham Knight” series Batman. Being a 1/6th scale (12”) figure really helps in that the details of it all truly pop. The sculpt itself, particularly in the facial-features, is about as accurate as I could have imagined, and the suit (made of a vinyl material) is really nice and detailed as well. My main gripes about the suit would be the shoulders not seeming to be very securely attached (I’ve had no problem with them coming off at this point, but they seem to be lightly glued on; just seems like a problem waiting to happen) and the cape in that it’s beautiful looking with the black leather but the “wires” are so weak that they’re absolutely pointless (particularly when this was sold using promo shots with a cape fully spread.)

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The articulation is nice and seemingly “standard” for most mid-sized Hot Toys bodies, but with the spandex suit, there are some limitations as to be expected. Speaking of the suit, although it does crease immediately after posing, the creases do fall out in after a day or so in a regular, straight pose. It comes with a nice variety of hands to hold the extremely well-done assortment of weapons from the games, but unfortunately the non-flexible forearm guards keep you from being able to do much with the wrist articulation, thus hindering some posing with them.
 

Overall, I feel like this piece is tremendous looking but leaves a bit to be desired if you’re wanting to display him in poses that are a bit more gritty or extravagant. Overall score 7.5/10.

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Overall, I feel like this piece is tremendous looking but leaves a bit to be desired if you’re wanting to display him in poses that are a bit more gritty or extravagant. Overall score 7.5/10.

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Kuma

Check out more of my work at the following:

IG: Kuma_photos
FB: Facebook.com/Kumastyle
Web: Kumastyle.com

The Twelve Days Of Nerdmass

On the first day of nerdmass my lover gave to me

            a detolf to use for my display.

On the second day of nerdmass my lover gave to me

            2 Marvel Legends,

            and a detolf to use for my display.

On the third day of nerdmass my lover gave to me

            3 unboxed chugs,

            2 Marvel Legends,

            and a detolf to use for my display.

On the fourth day of nerdmass my lover gave to me

            4 star wars comics,

            3 unboxed chugs,

            2 Marvel legends,

            and a detolf to use for my display.

On the fifth day of nerdmass my lover gave to me

            5 anime DVD’s,

            4 star wars comics,

            3 unboxed chugs,

            2 Marvel legends,

            and a detolf to use for my display.

On the sixth day of nerdmass my lover gave to me

            6 pack of ice cold mountain dew,

  5 anime DVD’s,

            4 star wars comics,

            3 unboxed chugs,

            2 Marvel legends,

            and a detolf to use for my display.

On the seventh day of nerdmass my lover gave to me

            7 bags of Cheetos,

  6 pack mountain dew,

  5 anime DVD’s,

            4 star wars comics,

            3 unboxed chugs,

            2 Marvel legends,

            and a detolf to use for my display.

On the eighth day of nerdmass my lover gave to me

            8 sets of Legos,

            7 bags of Cheetos,

  6 pack mountain dew,

  5 anime DVD’s,

            4 star wars comics,

            3 unboxed chugs,

            2 Marvel legends,

            and a detolf to use for my display.

On the ninth day of nerdmass my lover gave to me

            9 nerdy t-shirts,

            8 sets of Legos,

            7 bags of Cheetos,

  6 pack mountain dew,

  5 anime DVD’s,

            4 star wars comics,

            3 unboxed chugs,

            2 Marvel legends,

            and a detolf to use for my display.

On the tenth day of nerdmass my lover gave to me

            10 Star Wars tickets,

            9 nerdy t-shirts,

            8 sets of Legos,

            7 bags of Cheetos,

  6 pack mountain dew,

  5 anime DVD’s,

            4 star wars comics,

            3 unboxed chugs,

            2 Marvel legends,

            and a detolf to use for my display.

On the eleventh day of nerdmass my lover gave to me

            11 different Starscreams,

            10 Star Wars tickets,

            9 nerdy t-shirts,

            8 sets of Legos,

            7 bags of Cheetos,

  6 pack mountain dew,

  5 anime DVD’s,

            4 star wars comics,

            3 unboxed chugs,

            2 Marvel legends,

            and a detolf to use for my display.

On the twelfth day of nerdmass my lover gave to me

            12 awesome Deadpool Figures,

  11 different Starscreams,

  10 Star Wars tickets,

            9 nerdy t-shirts,

            8 sets of Legos,

            7 bags of Cheetos,

  6 pack mountain dew,

  5 anime DVD’s,

            4 star wars comics,

            3 unboxed chugs,

            2 Marvel legends,

            and a detolf to use for my display.

Anna D

First Lady of the ROC

Anna DuBois Profile.jpeg

Disney Has No Clue What They Have

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Upon the purchase of the Star Wars franchise, Disney acquired another princess. The only thing is that this princess is a badass chick who is fighting for what she believes in. She is a do it herself diplomat that isn't afraid of negotiations with a blaster. She is what I love about the franchise.  She definitely doesn't need a prince charming.  

Who is this awesome new princess you ask?  Why, of course, it is the one and only Princess Leia.  This princess is, in my completely biased opinion, the best of all the princesses in the Disney lineup.  Only Leia could overcome the hurdles she was born with to become one of the greatest leaders of the ragtag rebellion that ultimately overthrew the Empire.  She is the ultimate politician combined with warrior.  She is compassionate as well as fierce. A true force to be reckoned with.

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The first words that come to mind when I think of Princess Leia (the character not Carrie Fisher, the actress) are fierce, unafraid, determined.  I also see her as beautiful, compassionate and loving.  There are so many facets to this character that her appearances in film have not done her justice.  In the EU (Expanded Universe), she shows her true grit.  She battles a Jedi trained Hutt and succeeds for goodness sake!  

Even in canon, she shows her ability to hold her head high no matter what by facing the criticism and outright anger when it is revealed that she is the daughter of Darth Vader.  She deals with the entire ordeal of (for lack of a better definition) leaving politics to pursue the battle against the First Order.

We are first introduced to Princess Leia as a figure in a long flowing white gown addressing an R2 unit.  She is a distance away so we do not hear her voice or know what she is instructing the little droid to do.  As the droid approaches, she steps back into the doorway, out of site.  That little droid won’t tell a soul (save for Mr. Obi-Wan Kenobi) what he carries or what that mysterious lady in white told him.

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I think “spy” should be added to the list of accolades for this princess.  She has been working on the inside of the Imperial senate for years, working her contacts to aid the growing rebellion.  She was key in obtaining food, weapons, and most importantly, information.  When the Emperor dissolved the senate, Leia still had the ability to reach out to those contacts and bring those worlds into the rebellion.  Yeah, “bad ass spy with an awesome gift for political wooing.”

When Darth Vader captured her, he tortured her.  He brought her to Moff Tarkin to see her home planet and everyone on it destroyed.  She stayed strong.  She never lost her hope that the rebellion would succeed.  She cried, yes, but she never lost her faith in the cause.  

The poor woman was then rescued by 2 men who were never in possession of an exit strategy.  She grabbed a blaster, fired a shot, and voila, exit strategy.  We are gonna forget that they ended up in a garbage compactor and that Luke almost got eaten.  We are also gonna forget that they all almost got killed when they fired a blaster and it ricocheted, bouncing off of every wall.  She did it all without fussing over a broken nail or crying over a bruised knee.

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We have all, for the most part, watched the films.  Many of us have read the books, both canon and EU.  We all have our opinion of this character, and all of our opinions are valid.  As a young girl, I wanted to be Princess Leia.  As a grown woman, I still want to be Princess Leia.  She has many qualities that I aspire to have and a strength that I always want.

 

Disney princesses, as a whole, are strong characters.  The problem is that they all have the gender-typical hang ups. Cinderella is trapped in an abusive home situation and has to have a man basically save her from it.  Snow White was in a similar situation only her stepmother wanted her dead.  Ariel is very self-centered, like a teenager, and it takes a man to ground her.  Belle needed the Beast.  They all have that one thing. I bear those other princesses no ill will but I am a bit on the biased side.  

The Star Wars story is built on the strength of the Skywalker family.  Leia is the Princess of Alderaan and the daughter of Anakin.  She has the fire and fury of her father.  She has the cultured diplomacy of her mother.  She has The Force to help lead her.  She is the one princess in Disney’s lineup that is truly a Princess.

Long live the best, most awesome princess.

Long live Princess Leia.

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Anna D

First Lady of the ROC

Anna DuBois Profile.jpeg

JUST GIVE ME A TUB OF BLOCKS

In a world where toy manufacturers are having a hard time breaking through the gender divide, Lego has had the key all along.  Open a tub of Lego Blocks in a group of kids and both boys and girls will begin to build. They will build cars, houses, spaceships, pyramids, everything they can imagine. The only limits to their creativity are how many blocks they have.

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Lego is the ultimate unisex toy and its popularity is growing. Even adults enjoy building with those colorful blocks (Editor's note: to hear from 3 such adults, check out the "Building Up To It" podcast on the Bricks On The Dollar YouTube channel!). Lego even produces kits to build everything from a snow speeder from star wars to the apartment in big bang theory.  These kits have made it possible for the most unimaginative person to build something cool. The build kits have brought more adults back into Legos than ever before.

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Thanks to these little blocks, we have an imaginative outlet for both boys and girls as well as a gateway for budding designers.  We know that using the imagination is good for our brain development but Lego adds another element to this.  Manipulation of the bricks by both children and adults helps with those fine motor skills that are so important in our lives. Who would've thought that these little blocks were that multipurpose.

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Lego has made it a point to market to all children (and adults). I was watching TV the other day and saw a commercial which brought a smile to my face. In this commercial were 4 children, 3 boys and a girl. They were playing with a Lego set from the Ninjago line. The interaction between these 4 children showed no gender bias and the girl had a lounger as well as the boys.  Finally, a company has made it a point to not assume that only boys will want these toys.  

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I believe, that in the very near future, we are going to see more and more of this unisex marketing of toys.  After years of placing boys in shop class and girls in home economics, we are finally starting to see the end of the divide.  As the years move on, I am looking forward to attending more CON’s and seeing more and more female involvement in the events.  As for the social media groups, I am already seeing more and more ladies joining them all the time.  To all the ladies that read this, I say it is time to let your inner geek goddess shine.  

 

Just a quick addition and I will let you all go back to your lives.  I am thankful that you have taken a minute to read these words.  My geeky side has been blessed by having so many people accept me with open arms and I, for that, I am eternally grateful.  Thank you all and have a great day.

 

Anna D

First Lady of the ROC

Anna DuBois Profile.jpeg

What’s Next?

Doing some inventory today, I realized just how close I am to finishing my Masterpiece scale Transformer collection. I’m quite literally only a few figures away, and I’d like to upgrade a few. I need to sort out a selection of Dinobots, and I’m missing a couple of the G1 movie cast. Once that’s done, I’m a couple minibots and some combiner upgrades away from being done.

So that leaves me with a dilemma, what happens next? This collection has been my primary focus for the last couple years. Sure, I’ve bought a few other things, and my wife and I always collect video games and related merch, but the effort has been primarily on my G1 crew.

Another wrench was thrown in when I started following and participating in the ROC Instagram push, #realmofcollectors. I see amazing shots from very talented photographers, and a lot of the best aren’t of Transformers. Oh, don’t misunderstand, there is a ton of great TF photography, but some of the things done with other lines is simply mind blowing. And, let’s be clear, I’m a nerd of diverse tastes. From anime to gaming, comics to traditional cartoons, I love all things nerdy.

With my G1 collection winding down, I’ve decided to look heavily at other lines. Sure, I could continue with Transformers, and I’m sure I will with things such as the IDW figures from MMC. However, I’d like to shift my primary focus towards something different. Something that will allow me to shoot some of these crazy photos, and allow me to bond with other characters I already love.

I’m sure this is an issue faced by many collectors as they finish a primary line. I mean, part of the collecting hobby is the act of collecting itself, and there’s just no 12-step program for plastic crack (yet…). There’s nothing like opening that new figure, and putting hands on the toys for the first time. It’s a rush!

Here’s where I’m at: I have a few lines to consider, and some of them may be a challenge.

  1. SH Figuarts has some great stuff from several anime, as well as the video game figures. My wife says we need more video game related things… This one may win.
  2. Figma, same deal as SHF. Have you seen their Samus Aran figures? Perfection! Plus, my wife really likes their Mario and Zelda figures (hmmm… I think I see a trend.)
  3. Hot Toys. Prepare for wallet devastation! But the Marvel stuff is simply amazing!
  4. More Gundam, you can never have enough! But I could graduate to the higher end kits
  5. GI Joe, which I already do collect. The problem is that I sort of relate this to my Transformers collection (and they’re displayed together). Plus, the vehicles take up a LOT of space.

No matter what, collecting has become a fun and challenging hobby for me. It has replaced a couple more expensive ones, and it has allowed me an avenue to bond with my kids. There is a treasure trove of wonderful things to discover, and by branching out, I hope the fire continues. I’m even debating ways to turn a part of my garage into a diorama area, as well as making some modifications to my office for the same reason. The photography aspect has added a whole new dimension to the hobby as well, and I need more diversity in my subject matter.

So, while one collection may be winding down, the hunt continues.  

Rob Milton

Instagram @Robsrobits

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A Spoiler Free Review Of Thor: Ragnarok

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Before tonight’s Enter The Realm, I thought I’d throw out some thoughts on Thor: Ragnarok.  I’m sure they’ll discuss it in its entirety on the show (assuming the Jackal Squad all got around to watching it), but I figure I’d throw some thoughts out there for anyone wondering if they should go see it.  This will be spoiler free and I don’t plan on revealing anything that wasn’t obvious from the trailers.  If you purposefully stayed away from those, you may want to check out here.  Actually, check out after you take a look at this Lego poster for Thor 3.  It’s awesome! 

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Anyway, we’ll start with the bottom line.  Should you see it?  Yes, yes you should.  I REALLY enjoyed the film.  It’s a lot of fun and the visuals are stunning.  Are there things that will be hated by “true” Thor fans or Hulk fans?  Most certainly.  They didn’t bother me at all, but I’ll try and detail some of them below.

First thing:  The tone.  As is often discussed on Nerd Rage Radio (and sometimes on ETR as well), there is a fear that the MCU films are getting too jokey.  As Bobby Skullface would say, “Too many lulz.”  Adam Russman was actually worried that after the success of the Guardians Of The Galaxy movies, Marvel Studios would automatically assume that we need more Chris Pratt-style jokes.  Well, they were right.  This movie is packed full of jokes.  Did I mind it?  Not one bit.  In all honesty, the Thor movies were probably my least favorite of the MCU flicks.  It’s not that I didn’t like them (something has to be at the bottom), but as a character, Thor has always been a bit bland to me (I was never a fan of his comics either).  I enjoyed this shift in tone.  It’s no longer about the warrior/god existing amongst humans.  In fact, the tone shifts significantly from a Fantasy genre film to almost a Buddy Cop film (certainly once Hulk gets involved). 

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Lots of jokes at the expense of Tony Stark and Loki (as should be expected at this point), but there were many others as well.  If you already thought the MCU films had too many jokes, this will certainly disappoint, but as I observed my theater, the jokes were very well received by those less jaded and by the normies. 

Location.  The first 2 films were on Earth.  That grounded the Thor films in a way that was needed, certainly when introducing the god of thunder to a crowd that didn’t know him already.  Having Kat Dennings’ character question all of Thor’s strange actions is a great way to answer the audience’s questions.  Thor: Ragnarok is not on Earth.  It takes place on Asgard or on Sakaar.  Both worlds are fantastic and (for lack of a better term) out-of-this-world.  Doing this frees Thor up to be Thor.  You no longer have to try and explain Thor’s magic through the lens of earth-based science.  Now it can just be magic.  Thor can just be a badass fighter and a great warrior. 

Visuals:  Even if you don’t like the way this movie is sounding, you will still be enamored by the visuals.  Yes, there are some parts that are obviously CGI (Cate Blanchett can’t actually generate knives out of thin air), but for the most part, things are at the level expected with the MCU.  The world is bright and vibrant and the fight scenes are epic.  There is a VERY 80’s sci-fi/fantasy vibe with the visuals, but given the soundtrack and the subject matter, it’s appropriate.  It definitely adds to the fun (I pray that the Ready Player One movie can capture the 80’s feel like this movie did).   

The Cast: This is probably where this movie shines the most.  All of the major players do a great job in their roles.  If you’ve seen ANY other review of Thor 3 (or even just read the headlines), you know that the star player is Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie. 

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She’s featured in a good majority of the film and she does very well with her material.  She portrays a complex badass well!

Cate Blanchett is great as Hela.

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I mean, look at her!  You can tell that she really enjoyed playing Hela.  She’s a multi-Oscar award winner, so you know she can play Subtle very well.  She doesn’t have to do that here.  She gets to be broad and crazy and you can really tell she’s having a blast.

Tom Hiddleston is as good as always with his portrayal of Loki. 

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By now we expect a certain level of excellence from him in this role.  We get it here, though he’s the brunt of a lot of the jokes.  It’s hard to take the trickster god seriously when he’s so often the brunt of the joke, but the movie doesn’t really focus as much on him this time.  On a separate note, is it weird that when I see Tom Hiddleston with his normal hair, it looks wrong?  He’s so engrained in my head as Loki that when he doesn’t have the long, black hair, it seems off. 

Idris Elba is his normal badass self as Heimdall. 

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He has a meatier role this time around (I’m sure this is due to the fact that he’s just so awesome).  A true badass all around.

Karl Urban is fine as Skurge, but he’s probably the most “throwaway” of the cast. 

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I feel that he probably had a more complex (and ultimately more satisfying) role in the movie, but his good stuff got cut out for time.  If the MCU ever did a Director’s Cut, he’d probably feature more heavily.  As it stands, he’s…fine.  I fully admit, I may be overly disappointed in this due to my love of Karl Urban in general.

The biggest question mark was Jeff Goldblum as Grandmaster. 

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Was he going to bring something interesting to the role, or would he just be Jeff Goldblum?  Well, he was very Goldblum-y.  Let’s get that out of the way right off the bat.  The good thing is that the writers definitely took that into account.  They used his quirks to the advantage of the story and his…neuroticisms played well to the character.   

Mark Ruffalo plays Bruce Banner well as always and Sir Anthony Hopkins does a good job as Odin.  They aren’t in the movie very much, so it’s tough to really critique their characters.  Just know that Anthony Hopkins has a “Sir” before his name for a reason, and Mark Ruffalo gets to be jokey for the first time in a while (again, having this movie set somewhere besides Earth allows for the character to cut loose a bit).

So we get back to my bottom line.  Should you see this movie?  Yes, I would probably give it a high 8/10.  I’ll give it an 8.5 for simplicity’s sake.  Is it going to be for everyone?  Probably not.  I believe Jisk wants his MCU movies to be more serious like the DC films.  He probably won’t like all of the jokes here.  It’s a safe bet that Adam Russman and Bobby Skullface will not like this solely because of the jokes (Joe KW will probably like it).  Will it do well?  Absolutely.  This will be the best performing Thor movie without question.  Should you watch it?  If you’re a fan of the source material, I have no idea if this is accurate, so your mileage will vary.  If you like the MCU iteration of Thor and you like the progression his character has made, you will definitely like this.  If you’re a casual MCU fan, you’ll like this.  If you just want to have some fun at the theater, you’ll like it. If any of those sound like you, go see it. 

Or as Chuck C so succinctly put it:

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Paul C

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IG: @paulchiu1

     @glorious.stefan

Twitter: @paulchiu1

Like Lego?  Be sure to check out the Building Up To It podcast on the Bricks On The Dollar youtube channel!

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You. Complete. Me.

Rabbit holes. What are they, where are they, and where do they come from…and: Do we really need´em?

As a disclaimer, first I want to say that I accept and respect every single last one of you all in the Realm. You collect and buy whatever and how many of whatever you like and how you see fit. This here is my way of doing it, and because I have read many comments and posts of people who say stuff in the vein of, “How am I supposed to pay for all of this? Damn you (insert “Fans Toys” (I'm not doing it here ;-) ), Hot Toys, Iron Factory, MMC, etc., etc.),” I wanted to write a different set of thoughts and maybe spark up a flame. If this isn't for you because you´re a completionist, or you simply don´t like my blog entries, I suppose you may exit now, and that’s fine.

For all others: Welcome to my third entry. This is starting to be fun.

So…rabbit holes are apparently THE abyss of a fandom.  A practical definition of “Rabbit Hole”:

  • Have you been into Street Fighter pretty much from the get-go and you also collect Bandai´s S.H. Figuarts line? You´re screwed.
  • Do you love the Marvel Cinematic Universe?  Do you love it each time Robert Downey Jr. shows up in the gazillionth armor variation and are you ALSO into One-Sixth Scale? Then you “need” all the Hot Toys armors. Feel the burn.

And to close it off:

  • Do you love Legends-scale Transformers? Do you have all of Hasbro´s releases, but acknowledge that there is stuff missing.  BOOM! Iron Factory drops their Bruticus.  Guess what? Down the hatch you go.

I think you get the picture (if you weren´t familiar with the term “rabbit hole”). I may shatter some expectations here by saying this, but you don't “need” them all.  You can spend money on other things, may it be real life, may it be other franchises, or you got mortgages, or debts to pay, or, or, or…

Don´t get me wrong. I love looking at everyone's collection. It is a major part of the hobby for me, and I also do understand and absolutely respect you when you say that you need the Transformers G1 Ark crew in MP form. Those are almost impossible to pass up, same with a full Street Fighter lineup. I grew up on those. The part I don't understand is when you collect and you post comments like I mentioned above (“How am I supposed to…?”). You´re not. Plain and simple.

If you don't have the money, don´t buy it. Look at your stuff, check if you “need” it.  That's where MY approach comes into play, which I jokingly called, “The German's Approach” a few months back:

I only have the characters I absolutely need, 1 or 2 characters that have a sentimental value for me, or it was an impulse buy (like entering a Toys’R Us for the first time in 3 years and you see figures you normally don´t see).  This means:

  • I collect Terminator, Robocop and Transformers (with the first 2 on hold, because there is nothing coming at the moment):
    • Terminator
      • I have nothing in my 1/6 collection I regret and I would only add a few more: T1 Kyle Reese, T1 Sarah Connor, and a T1/2 T-800 Endoskeleton and that´s it. Nothing more would spark my interest.
    • RoboCop
      • I´m essentially only missing Dick Jones, Anne Lewis, and Clarence Boddiker. Legio7’s customs are borderline genius, but they are way too expensive, and I´m not paying $400 for a figure without accessories.
  • Transformers
    • My MP shelf is done, BUT: I´m thinking about upgrading to accommodate Sunstreaker and Sideswipe. I'm also thinking about Fans Toys’ Omega Supreme and and and...
    • The one thing I NEED is Galvatron, and if nothing happens soon on the official side, I will hunt down Fans Toys Sovereign.
  • (I also have a little bit of Marvel, but not much and I´m almost done, so this is not really a category)

But here is where “The German’s Approach” comes into play: I want to get Generation Toy's IDW MP Megatron next. I opened this rabbit hole (unknowingly) with Mastermind Creations’ Carnifex, continued with the Transform Mission Stunticons, and widened it even further with Generation Toy's OP.EX. I don't know where this will take me, but I do know that I want to go to the United States next year. If I want to manage that, I need to stay selective, and that's what I recommend.

Wait a little bit once you have something in your shopping cart. I know the first urge is to buy it, but for me…even if it´s preordered and the payment is due, it can go a couple of different ways:

  1. “Man, 380 bucks for that Diecast War Machine…alright.  Order placed.”  
    • This is the quick way, because I regretted selling this piece in the first place, but next comes the alternate and quite honestly, it’s what usually happens.
  2. “Man, 250 bucks for that Batman, and the Arkham Knight is next…you forgot that PO, did you?  Together they're around 550 bucks.”
    • That's when I look around and I see I don´t have the space. Even though I have the money, I don't “need” it, so I canceled the preorder and I didn't regret a thing.

And this is where I come back to one of my first sentences, where I was really honest and I apologized if I stepped on anybody´s toes, but again, it´s my honest opinion:

If you buy something, even though you said before that you don´t have the money for it and jokingly say: “Huh, ramen for next half a year again,” then it´s your problem.  “Self-induced pain” is the magic term here, and this is where you shouldn't get any mercy from anyone.  Broken down, there should really only be 2 paths for us as collectors:

  1. You REALLY want to have it: Pull the trigger, look forward to it, but don´t complain when it shows up and you get a cut worth 200 bucks or more.
  2. You suppress the urge and stay away: Congratulations! You made it to the promised land of selective collecting.

I´m currently bound to the #2 due to private reasons, but I'm not sad about it.  I'm actually happy with it. It helps me keep everything in check.  I know my expenses and if I don't need a toy, I cancel my PO.  This has helped me big time in the past, and I hope I rang a bell with someone here.

Peace out and thx for reading,

The Mad German

IG: @Figurephotographycrate

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Coming Soon...

For those of you who have seen my Instagram page (or met in person), you know there are pretty much 3 things that I truly LOVE:  kid’s toys, animals, and FOOD (and taking pictures, I suppose, but you know, I’m Asian).  Why bring up food on a blog that is ostensibly about nerdy things?  Well, I became a foodie (long before it was trendy to call yourself a foodie) thanks to one Alton Brown.  That guy is nerdy as hell. 

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Anyway, I bring AB up because he believes that our favorite foods share a connection to our pasts…that they are more than just calories used for sustenance.  We love them so much because they remind us of a specific moment in our lives.  I don’t have fond memories of Boo Berry cereal because it’s a delicious.  It’s because it reminds me of watching cartoons when I was little young (because of my long running love for food, I don’t think I’ve ever been “little”). 

To this end, longtime Realm member Jason L brought up a great idea for the blog, and if it goes the way I think it will go, it will be a great way to share some great recipes and get to know other members of the Realm.  Let’s post up some of our favorite recipes on the blog.  More than that, let’s share the reason why we like this recipe and why we wanted to share it with the Realm in the first place.  Not everything has to have the childhood tie, but giving that explanation (and maybe a little bio of ourselves) will help us all to know each other a bit more and will go a long way to help make the Realm more of a ROCFam.  

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If you're interested in having one of your recipes featured on the blog, leave a comment or hit us up via PM.  Jason has already started interviewing Realm members for their recipes and to feature/spotlight them for the blog, and we should be seeing the first installment next week.  I'd like to tell you who is being featured, but I can't.  I've been told to keep things Shhhhhh...

Watch this space.  Some good (and delicious) stuff is coming!

Glorious Stefan

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Introducing R.O.C.K. Reviews!

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What’s up, Realm? Welcome to R.O.C.K. reviews. This is TJ a.k.a. Kuma Style, and I’m going to be doing occasional articles here focusing on mecha toys, swag, and series that aren’t Transformers or spinoffs. From the Brave collection to Mazinger, I’m here to talk about (and possibly introduce some of you all to) a lot of the Super and Real Robot series I collect and enjoy watching. This is a great community and I’m excited to contribute a bit.

I think a good place to start( for intro purposes) is by defining what Super and Real Robots are. Both are robots featured in Japanese animation and comics (manga). “Super” robots are normally robots “found” by the antagonists and have more mythical origins (i.e. “Mazinger Z” or “Gurren Lagann”) while “Real” robots are built by humans for purposes of war (i.e. “Mobile Suit Gundam” or “Macross”). Both of these sub genres feature extremely large mecha and larger-than-life scenarios.

In terms of toys, there are a wide variety of products from a wide variety of companies. I collect mostly diecast (“gokin”) mecha products, and the main companies that I collect are Sentinel, Bandai, and Art Storm. Note that Bandai calls their diecast products “Chogokin” (a term derived from “Mazinger Z”) meaning “Super Alloy.” It’s a term that Bandai coined and copyrighted for use with their older “popy” diecast pieces and have kept using through current lines. Bandai’s lines such as “Soul of Chogokin,” “Metal Build,” and “Super Robot Chogokin” focus more on being very faithful to the designs of the original anime/manga and toys while companies like Sentinel and Fewture models tend to take more artistic liberties with the designs of their products.

It needs to be noted that not all mecha are under these two genres and not all mecha toys are diecast. All things robots are mecha, even Transformers. I’ll be doing all kinds of stuff in these articles but wanted to highlight a couple of things that will be focused on more than others. Really looking forward to getting this going with you guys and hopefully you enjoy it too. Here are a few pics from some of the toylines I’ll be looking at.

Pictured: Fewture EX Gokin Energer 1969

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Pictured: Max Gokin Godannar

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Pictured: Volks Variable Ryu Ko Oh

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Pictured: Soul of Chogokin Tobikage

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Recognize any of them? Anything in particular you want to see me go over? Either let me know in the comments or shoot me an email!

Kuma

Check out more of my work at the following:

IG: Kuma_photos
FB: Facebook.com/Kumastyle
Web: Kumastyle.com

Sowing the Seeds- Farming Simulator 17 Takes Over My Game Time

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What is it about sim games that captivate people? How can something that seems so mundane (like doing chores and baling hay) grab our attention and pull us in for hours on end? Let’s be realistic, most of us wouldn’t do these things in our real lives unless there were no other options.

I’m typically not a sim gamer. Sure, I’ve had fun with games like Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon, but they bring a specific art style and play mechanic to the table. They’re cute, silly, and very care free. I’m normally the guy who is into fast-paced First-Person Shooters, or story-heavy RPG’s. I’d rather shoot first, ask later, then shoot again in Ghost Recon: Wildlands, or venture deep into irradiated wastelands mini-nuking super mutants in Fallout 4.

A few months ago, my little brother (whom I normally play with over Xbox Live) seemed to disappear off the map. He was nowhere to be found in our usual online haunts. Not on Forza Horizon, not on Ghost Recon, he was just gone. A few texts later, and I found him. His response? He was FARMING! Ok, a teenage boy WANTING to do chores? Something was amiss…

That weekend, we ended up at my parents’ house for a family get-together. You know the type, lots of food, all the siblings and our respective children, and for our family, nerding out to games. While I was there, my little brother introduced me to his newest obsession: Farming Simulator 2017. I shook my head and laughed a bit, yet there I was, staring at a screen full of highly detailed terrain and looking at one of the most amazingly rendered sunsets I’ve ever seen in a game. It was stunning to see!

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I sat there with him as he plowed fields, planted seed, and harvested crops. He had a full-blown forestry division, a herd of cattle, and fields of various produce ranging from wheat and barley to potatoes and sugar beets. And don’t even get me started on the pigs! I love pigs! Pigs bring bacon! No bullets were flying, no secrets were being unlocked. He was simply doing chore…and loving it!

My brother pestered me for a few months to get the game. I avoided it for quite a while until it popped up on an Xbox Live Gold deal with all the downloadable content included. I had just purchased South Park: The Fractured But Whole and was positive that would be my go-to game for quite a while. Well, a combination of South Park being the most non-kid-friendly game I’ve ever seen and the super-cheap sale on FS17 changed that. I don’t get much game time where my little ones aren’t around me in some form, so I gave FS17 a go.

What I was greeted with was a spectacular experience. I was plopped straight onto my own farm, with some basic equipment and a few small fields. It was quiet, no music, the sound of a slight breeze and feeling of an early morning in a rural area. You could almost smell the cool, crisp morning air! The tutorial was minimal, and it felt more like a few friendly hints as I set off on my cultivating experience.

The more I played, the more it sucked me in. I’ve always been a fan of farm machinery and heavy equipment. In my daily life, I drive a tractor-trailer. Think of me as a glorified UPS guy with a much bigger truck. Yet, here I was with crops to tend and all these large machines at my control.  And you know what? It’s incredibly relaxing. I’m not hurried to find points of interest, I’m not getting shot at, and I’m not being pressured by a time crunch. I can sit back, tend to some chores, and explore.

Now, this game isn’t going to win any awards for being the most advanced driving sim ever. The controls can be a bit clunky with the Xbox One controller, and the physics can lead to some interesting glitches at times. But the first time you see your harvester on a fog covered field, tearing through some soy beans or wheat, you forget all about the little things.

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And that’s what this game is about. It’s about forgetting the world outside and simply existing in a quiet backwoods town. It’s about the smell of the country air, cow dung included. It’s about the simple life. Oh, and BIG ARSE TRACTORS!

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Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some sheep that need my attention and some grain to get to the mill.

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Rob Milton

Instagram @Robsrobits

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One Turn At A Time, One Click At A Time, One Shot At A Time...

Ok, so right of the bat, I have to say that I AM (not “consider myself,” AM) an amateur when it comes to toy photography. I would love to do it professionally, but I would need to spend way more money on this (like buying a fish-eye lens or more material to do a big frame for mounted diffusor so the light wouldn´t be too hard), but this entry right here is just to show people that pretty much everybody can do it if they have the heart for it. You don´t need much. I honestly believe that, especially since, for people of our age, “playing with our toys” actually is posing the figures professionally, honoring the effort that went into it, and being happy with how amazing the character looks in the selected pose.

Continuing where I left off: I started out with a small compartment in my Expedit shelf (later discontinued by IKEA, but kind of re-instated as Kallax) after I had gotten myself a Nikon D3100 with a Tamron AF 18-200 Macro lens. I took the already installed Osram LED STIXX as the lighting and (most of the time) used the Autobot insignia that from the ‘Covenant Of Primus’ book as the background (of course I don´t only photograph Autobots, so I needed a Decepticon insignia too…I ended up building both, but that´s a subject for another time). It worked very well, as you might see on these following examples:

Pictured: Takara Tomy – Transformers Masterpiece – MP10: Optimus Prime

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Pictured: Takara Tomy – Transformers Masterpiece – MP27: Ironhide

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But I soon ran into space problems. Ultra Magnus was the first culprit (he’s huge). So what did I do? I tried shooting him with my lights in front of my black TV.  This…was a major set-back.  I was not satisfied:

Pictured: Takara Tomy – Transformers Masterpiece – MP22: Ultra Magnus

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I knew I needed a proper background. Not a photobox though, since I wanted to maintain my open space for bigger pieces (I was working on my Combiner Wars Devastator custom at the time), but all these interim steps didn’t give me what I had pictured in my mind.  First, I tried a chromed, foil-like background, but I didn't think this through:

Pictured: Mastermind Creations R-17 Carnifex (3rd Party IDW Comics Re-imagined Generation 1 Overlord)

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The next step was the most logical: Cloth.  I got a blue, little goldish gleaming cloth as background, hung it over my TV, and the lighting duties were taken over by rechargeable LED lights with different, rising luminosity settings (which also utilized a clamp.  I still use these; I highly recommend them and you can get similar ones on Amazon).  

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The pictures turned out something like this. It was ok, but still not where I wanted to go:

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But soon the space there started to diminish too! I switched to my kitchen table and added 2 plywood panels and background clamps. Still not the set up I was hoping for as the pictures turned out to have somewhat of a yellow gleam to it (due to the kitchen’s headlight) as can be seen here:

Pictured: Hot Toys - MMS237 D06 - Iron Man 2 - Whiplash Mark 2

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I finally got the idea to buy myself a little table, enlarge the surface with one of the panels, and add a new background. Those who follow me know I bought a metallic, kind of gunmetal grey fabric (which has a glorious gleam to it), and I was able to utilize a big acrylic plate which you might spot in the lower left of the picture to the right. So most of my pictures looked similar to this:

Pictured: Bandai - Tamashi - Soul Of Chogokin: Spec XS-04: Evangelion Unit 00 from the Movie ‘Evangelion: 1.11 – You Are (Not) Alone, also EVA-01 & EVA-02

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Over the next few months, I added Bandai Tamashii Nations Stage Act 4 as action stands (I rarely use them in photos now, but this will change) and a professional tripod for my camera.  My current set up now looks like this:

Pictured: My attic photo space & Floodlight

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Also I finally got to read further into settings of my camera, now utilizing the aperture, or even manual mode. Nowadays, I only shoot my figures in ISO100 and let the aperture do its own thing. Due to the tripod and self-timer, I seldom have a shaky picture (it only really happens if the position was unstable and utilizing the tripod wasn´t possible).  I want to take the opportunity to shout out  fellow photographers Ryan Fogg (@series209 on Instagram) in the ROC and Kevin Clarkson (@kclarkson78 on IG) from the Sixth Scale Photography Facebook group. Awesome people, please give them a follow. If you need help with settings, write them a message; they absolutely won´t bite. Last but not least, I still wasn´t satisfied with the lighting so I just upgraded to construction floodlights with 10W power, and I also have 3 new backgrounds in the pipeline. Soon I will start my reviews of the remaining 4 TransForm Mission Stunticons Revolt, Overturn, Carnage and Disorder, their combined form (Havoc), and also Generation Toy´s OP.EX, and I can´t wait to use all of it.

So whatever you get out of this post, I can only tell you that you will probably be your own worst critic. I know this from experience.  Many of the pictures I do tend to turn out “bad,” so I redo them plenty of times. But let me give you some advice: Play with your camera settings, try new things, or even try some simple techniques. Mounting something on a card box helps, it doesn´t HAVE to be fully professional. You may not have a lot of money, but you’ve got a camera and as long as you don´t have 2 left hands (or maybe even if you do), you´ll make it work. I know it. Check your workplace, is there something that can be utilized?  Ask if you can have it, or who knows?  Maybe your coworkers have ideas. Like mine, who put me on the tracks to buy the floodlights.

You just need a start. You want to do it…get to it.

Peace out and thx for reading

The Mad German

IG: @Figurephotographycrate

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Show Review: The Gifted - Episode 3: eXodus

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Oh man, I am really trying, I really am; this show is just really not good. I feel like my eyes were bleeding while I watched this trash. And before I go further let me put in the:

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The opinions expressed in this review in the opinion of mine and mine only. Realm of Collectors are not responsible for inaccuracies or misrepresentations. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Realm of Collectors podcast/website.

So let’s start off with the cute episode name: “eXodus.” All of them have a capital “X” in them so you definitely know you are watching an X-Men show (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). Anyways, this episode brings more of the same: weak story, weak acting, and just poor overall eXecution (see what I did there? Dad jokes in full effect).  As I review this episode, I am not going to go in full chronological order. I am going to jump around from character to character.

So the episode (in a nut shell) has showed us that you should always listen to Thunderbird and Favoc (Fake Havoc aka Eclipse), cause they are right 99% of the time. That’s all that matters about these two characters in this episode. They are right and you are wrong. Nuff Said!

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At the end of episode 2 ("rX"), we saw Reed getting captured and making a deal with Coby Bell to protect his family.

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Well, after introducing some more mutant fodder throughout the episode, Reed is touched by THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS (Yes, after Reed was touched, the Real Ghostbusters caught the Spirits of Christmas, sorry everyone Christmas is officially Cancelled).

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He then has a change of heart and gets sent to mutant jail even though he is not a mutant. Meanwhile, the rest of our family go see Lauren’s brother and, you guessed it, typical hijinks ensue.

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Lauren’s brother wants nothing really to do with the situation…that is, until the neighbors come and threaten to huff and puff his house down unless he sends the mutants out. And out they came, with some more piss poor special effects and a typical outcome.

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The one bright spot of this episode might be that Blink is actually starting to look like Blink. Her acting is still not good, and I really don’t believe that it’s because of her acting ability.  The scripts are just bad.

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I know I really haven’t mentioned Polaris at all, but there really wasn’t a reason for me to mention her. I think she is miscast and everything about her character is just plain old awful.

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While I’m sure you can see that I am not a fan of this show, I keep watching it and I am truly hoping that it will get better. So I’m three episodes in and if I subscribed to the Bobby SkullFace method (three episodes and done),

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I could dump this show already, but I am going to try to give it to Episode 6 and hope that it picks up and gets much better. It’s a comic book show, I have to give it that much right? I mean I watch all the other comic shows out there (yes, including that awful Super-girl as well as Legends of Tomorrow), but when I can honestly say that both of those CW shows are light years better than this, it’s a sad state of just how awful this Gifted show really is. 

When does this show come back?

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Let me know what you think in the comments section. Or hit me up on my social media  

Instagram – Jr.missing.linke

Facebook – Jr Linke

Jr.

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Lights, Cameras, Music!

Everyday all across the world there are nerds humming and whistling their favorite movie themes or show theme songs. Chances are, that tune was composed by the great John Williams. Here in sunny California, at the Hollywood Bowl, there is a yearly concert put together by the Maestro of the Movies himself to celebrate not only his own works, but the art of live orchestra in movies.

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The best part of this concert is how easily accessible it is to all fans. Tickets start at 15 dollars for the nosebleed seats and anyone that has been to the Hollywood Bowl knows those seats aren’t bad. I have sat in those 15 dollar seats for the past 7 years and the experience is still amazing! The picture below shows the view from the last row.

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John Williams creates themes for each performance, making each concert a different experience. In previous years he has centered these concerts on The Art of Choreography, and he conducted songs about dance with “Singing in the Rain” and “An American in Paris” followed by swordplay songs like “The Mark of Zorro” and “Duel of Fates.” A few years ago the entire night was dedicated to the works of Julie Andrews.

This year, the theme was Triumph after Tragedy. The concert started with what can only be described as a conductor’s apprentice. David Newman conducted a few pieces that were picked out by the theme such as “Cathy’s Theme” from Wuthering Heights and Judy Garland’s cover of “Born in A Trunk”. Then John Williams came out with his First Chair to a roaring applause. He talked about why he decided on the theme Triumph after Tragedy and why the musical pieces he chose are important to cinema and to himself.

In silence, he turned around and began his first song “The Adventures of Mutt” from Indiana Jones and The Crystal Skull. This lead into “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” Three Harry Potter scores and then, before the intermission, we get a celebrity guest. Kobe Bryant.

Yes, Legendary NBA star Kobe Bryant came out and John Williams began to describe how he had never seen a game of basketball in his life, but that the poem Kobe wrote for his retirement press conference made an impression on him.  The story goes that Kobe and John had met a few years before he decided to retire. After that press conference, “Dear Basketball” was in everyone’s mind.  Kobe and John Williams collaborated on the animated project made in honor of Bryant’s career (with score by Williams). I’m not a basketball fan, but it was an inspiring piece/moment with Kobe reading his poem to the audience while the music played.

Then came the intermission, and with the intermission came the wine. This is Hollywood after all.

The 5-minute warning flashed and everyone returned to their seats while Mr. Williams began to talk about Daisy Ridley and her character in Star Wars. He explained that the only reason he agreed to come back and score the Star Wars films was that he didn’t want anyone else to do music for the character of Rey. The night ended with “Scherzo for X-Wings,” “Rey’s Theme,” and the Star Wars Main Title. At this point everyone who brought a lightsaber to the concert turned it on and waved it in the air to the tempo of the music.

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At the conclusion of the song, the lights dimmed and The Conductor exited the stage, but since the first chair was still seated, John Williams returns and performed the theme from 1995’s “Sabrina,” “The Imperial March,” and the theme from 1978’s Superman.

The man is A LEGEND. I recommend everyone who reads this to try and come out to California for the experience of seeing the creator of all our favorite songs live. His concert is at the end of August or the beginning of September and with The Last Jedi hitting theaters this winter, anything could happen for next year’s event.

Esteban Romo

IG: @Danttebay0

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Welcome To The New ROC Blog!

{Paul C here.  Before I get started with this post, just a bit of…admin.  I’ve been appointed the main editor of the ROC Blog.  As I also plan on contributing material to the blog, if I need to post anything as “The Editor,” I will post as “Glorious Stefan.”  This way, there’s no confusion between something administrative or something nerdy.}

 Welcome!

Welcome!

Hi Folks!

The ROC has a number of podcasts/YouTube shows and depending on which ones have caught your fancy lately, you may or may not have realized that we are opening up this Blog to members of the ROCFam.  The Realm rolls deep and we know everyone has their own perspective on things, and this blog is a great way to share that perspective with others!  Much like The Cool Table Network has done for its “group of likeminded podcasts,” I am envisioning this blog as a great way to bring us all closer together as a community and as a fandom.  It’s a safe space for us all to share our thoughts (on pretty much anything) amongst a group of folks who by default share a common ground. 

Over the past few weeks, we’ve had a number of submissions posted on these pages.  We’ve heard from Anna D (the First Lady Of The ROC) who shared a bit of what it’s like to be a female collector in this male dominated community.  We’ve heard from Tim Kay who showed us how different life is as a collector in Germany.  Are we spoiled for choice here in North America?  Hell yeah, we are, and we still take it for granted (Mericuh!).   JR Linke gave us his thoughts on a great nerd show (LORE) and a…not-so-great one (The Gifted).  Rob Milton gave his thoughts on his rekindled love of collecting. We have other contributions coming, but we want more! 

I am personally looking forward to contributing regular material to the blog in the immediate future.  I actually have so many ideas floating through my head that I don’t know which one to do first!  Leave a comment below if you find one of them particularly intriguing.  I’m currently torn between:

 

  • A Valiant Comics review (starting with the reboot all the way to the present)
    • Valiant is without question the deepest and most wonderfully interconnected comic universe at the moment and a huge majority of comic readers don’t even know it
    • They’ve also been the most award winning publisher for the past 6 or so years since that reboot
  • A “retro” nerd cartoon review
    • I’d probably start with The Tick animated series or Batman: The Brave And The Bold
  • A non-Cool Table podcast spotlight
    • I listen to a lot of great podcasts of varying topics.  I’d love to be able to turn some other members of The Realm onto some of them  

 

Though there are a lot of Transformers fans in the ROC, the “C” stands for “Collectors.”  That’s a very broad term and we’d love to hear about all of your passions.  Do you love GI Joe or MASK?  Do you love Super Robots and Gokin figures?  Do you get excited (so to speak) whenever Harvey__Dent talks about the newest SH Figuarts DBZ figures and start chomping at the bit when pnkr10 or Dust have no idea what’s going on?  Do you want to share your love for Gundam with the group?  Do you build dioramas or do toy photography?  Do you do all of these things and have tips about how to manage them all?  Then we welcome your submissions!  If you’d like to contribute to the blog, leave a comment below or send me a PM in the Facebook group (either directly to Paul Chiu or to the Realm Of Collectors page in general).  We can talk topics and I can give you the information on how to submit your contributions.  Are you passionate about something that is under-represented in The Realm?  Here’s your chance to bring others into the fold!  Let’s grow this community and expand some horizons! 

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REALM!

Glorious Stefan 

 

IG: @glorious.stefan

    : @paulchiu1

Twitter: @paulchiu1

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