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Sunday, 27 January 2013

The Inaugural Slave Leia Sunday...


Another feature ported over from Stay On Target!, my Star Wars blog. "Slave Leia Sunday" will be a quarterly celebration of those lovely lasses who cosplay as Jabba's favourite lady...

Is It Bigger Than A Breadbox?


Saturday, 26 January 2013

Academy of Heroes - Episode Eight: Finale


Previous episodes of Stan Lee's Academy of Heroes have profiled seven real life super heroes who walk the streets of America and help people everyday.

Stan Lee has personally challenged these heroic individuals to face particular weaknesses with the assistance of experts hand-picked by Stan.

In this final episode Stan selects one hero to join the ranks of his World of Heroes and I have to say he chose wrong! But what do I know, eh? And he almost makes up for his incorrect decision with the surprise - typically Stan Lee - twist at the end of the episode.

The Rise, Fall, And Redemption of Anakin Skywalker...

Friday, 25 January 2013

Flumphs!


GenCon Indy Pre-Registration opens on Sunday (January 27), so hurry over to http://www.gencon.com/ and reserve your spot!

Fleamarket Friday: Bring On The Barge!


A conglomeration of Star Wars collecting sites have banded together to support a fan petition urging Hasbro to produce a scale replica of Jabba's sail barge (from Return Of The Jedi).

This was inspired by a point raised by Hasbro's Star Wars brand team, at last year's New York Comic-Con, that they could possibly manufacture this Holy Grail of action figure collectors.

The aim of the petition, which is looking for at least 10,000 signatures, by next Thursday (January 31) is to demonstrate the strength of fan enthusiasm for the project to Hasbro at New York Toy Fair in February.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

JJ Abrams For Episode VII...

News has just broken across the web that JJ Abrams - director of the most recent Star Trek movies and co-creator of Lost and Fringe - will helm Star Wars: Episode VII for Disney.

The movie is (definitely) being written by Toy Story 3 and Little Miss Sunshine screenwriter Michael Arndt.

If this turns out to be true, I imagine it'll kiss goodbye to a third Star Trek movie from Abrams - unless Paramount are in a very understanding mood!

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Adrianne Curry Visits Rancho Obi-Wan...


In episodes three, four and five of the web series Adrianne Curry's Super Fans Adrianne and Elliot get a call from Steve Sansweet to come visit Rancho Obi-wan, one of the largest Star Wars collections ever assembled.

Set blasters to squee!

I've seen clips of Steve's collection on other shows, but it never fails to make me drool.
Oddly, Adrianne has a similar effect...


If you skip over Adrienne's little inserted "asides", this is a great mini-documentary about Steve Sansweet and Star Wars fandom.


(yes, this originally ran on my Star Wars blog, Stay On Target!)

Monday, 21 January 2013

My Message From Chewbacca...


Some time ago I saw some footage of Peter Mayhew - aka Chewbacca - walking with the aid of cane sculpted like a lightsaber.

As a fellow walking stick user I was rather envious and finally, this week, got my act together and tracked down a contact email address for Mr Mayhew.

I sent him a short message asking if the stick was available commercially and within a couple of hours, much to my delighted surprise, he emailed me back.

He explained that the cane was a unique item fashioned for him by a fan who has, to date, expressed no interest in taking commissions for further walking sticks.

Peter signed off his message: "If he changes his mind, I will put the info on my Twitter account and website at chewbacca.com."

What a gent! I was so touched that he would take the time to reply to me, and so promptly, even if it wasn't the news I wanted to hear.

I shall certainly keep my eyes and ears open for further developments as I'd love a lightsaber cane to add to my arsenal of walking sticks that sit by the door of the dining room. Of course, it would be reserved for use on special occasions only.

Map-A-Monday: Doomstadt, Latveria...

Click to embiggen

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Game Of Thrones Season Three: Invitation To The Set

Snowmageddon!


Gotta love this country. Every time we get a layer of snow the media explodes into a mass panic as though we have never seen this powdery white substance before... and everything grinds to a halt.

It's Snowmageddon! It's The Beast From The East!
 
Normally I welcome snow with a child-like enthusiasm, but this year things are a bit different. I've got Barney to worry about - although, in all honesty, he doesn't seem that bothered by it - and I'm slightly concerned that it might screw things up for mum's funeral this week.

Because it's being held in the village where I grew up - and where dad is buried - I must confess to a slight anxiety that people might not be able to get there (including the vicar, who was supposedly away at his grandson's christening this weekend).

On the other hand, I'm sure this is not the first funeral to be held in the snow - and almost certainly won't be the last - so I'm sure we'll be able to give mum a great send-off.


As of 3pm today, it's snowing steadily - if not heavily - but the forecast is for it to continue thus through the rest of today.

BAAAMMMMBBOOOOOOO!

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Thank You!


Although this week was the sixth anniversary of HeroPress, for obvious reasons I wasn't in a particularly celebratory mood.

I just want to take a moment and thank everyone - here, on Facebook and on Google+, for the magnificent outpouring of sympathy and support in the days after my mum died. I'm not sure if you all realise just how important your words were to me in those dark days.

I'm trying to get my mind back into a blogging mode, but it just feels like I'm going through the motions at present.

For the time being, please take it that the HeroPress Anniversary Design-A-Monster competition is still running (closing date: January 30), but unless there is a sudden tidal wave of entries or I'm suddenly fired up to blog profusely I can see it getting knocked on the head.

Possibly along with HeroPress.

Making Of Game Of Thrones Season Three: Vlog 2 - Molding The Book Into A Series

DVD Of The Week: Dredd (2012)


Stallone's Judge Dredd movie from 1995 got a lot of things wrong (starting with the eponymous anti-hero showing his face), but one thing it got right was its presentation of the futuristic Mega-City One and its claustrophobicly close and overcrowded tower blocks.

The Mega-City One in Stallone's flick looked like a science-fiction city. It looked like the comics it was based on.

Dredd - the latest stab at bringing the star of 2000AD, and assorted other comics, to the silver screen - can't even get that right.

The first half-hour of the movie takes place in and around the streets of MC1, but it could be any modern city, its streets teeming with very 20th Century vehicles and people that you'd see if you looked out your window right now (presuming you live in a modern, Western city).

Outside of the Judges and their weaponry almost no effort has been made to translate the illustrations of the Judge Dredd strips to this movie.

Sure, there are a few little easter eggs (Chopper and Kenny Who? popping up in graffiti, the word 'drokk' on the back of a single jacket), but the Ma-Ma gang that Dredd (Karl Urban) and Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) go up against could easily have drifted over from The Wire or any number of contemporary 'gritty' gangster shows.

Even the language is wrong - with everyone dropping f-bombs left, right and centre; it doesn't even sound like a Judge Dredd tale (which has its own vocabulary of futuristic swears in the comics).

The main two-thirds of this 90-minute movie occur inside the 200-floor, Peach Tree tower block, which is controlled by gang boss Madeline Madrigal aka Ma-Ma (Lena Headey of Game Of Thrones and The Sarah Connor Chronicles fame).

The tower goes into 'lock-down', trapping the two Judges inside after they go to investigate multiple homicides at the block.

Ma-Ma is okay as a villain, but nothing special and certainly not one of the "larger-than-life" characters you'd find in the majority of Judge Dredd comics.

The film's only real strength comes from the central performances of Urban and Thirlby as grim lawman Joe Dredd and psychic Cassandra Anderson respectively.

It's only in the banter and teamwork between the Judges that Alex Garland's otherwise uninspired script shows any sign of understanding the comic book world and its inhabitants.

As I had feared from the trailers, Dredd is a major missed opportunity that fails on almost as many levels as Stallone's movie did - it's just that fans appear more willing to cut it some slack because, at least, the character of Judge Dredd is handled better.

Even throwing in the sci-fi drug Slo-Mo (which Ma-Ma is peddling), it's quite obvious that Dredd is little more than a contemporary action-thriller (it's basically The Raid, The Horde and any other 'fighting your way through a tower block' movies you can think of) with anachronistic comic book Judges added for random flavouring.

More time was clearly devoted to thinking up camera gimmicks to cash-in on the current 3D fad than ensuring Dredd actually looked and sounded like a Judge Dredd story.

Perhaps whoever picks up the baton of bringing Judge Dredd to life next might actually think to stick closer to the comics - which must be doing something right as they've been published continually since 1977!

3113

3113 from Eric Demeusy on Vimeo.


3113 is The story of an android named 3113 who is sent on a mission to rescue the last member of an endangered species.

Its objective is suddenly interrupted when a meteor strikes its spaceship forcing it to crash land on an unknown planet. 3113 must now push beyond its mechanical anatomy to find a way out while at the same time decipher the strange occurrences which seem to guide the android on its path.

Director: Eric Demeusy; Producer: Kyle McIntyre; Music: Christian Davis; and Camera: Jason Mitchelltree

Friday, 18 January 2013

Building Your Own Hive Of Scum & Villainy...


Blog buddy Christian Walker is building some Mos Eisley houses for his roleplaying game and after I coo-ed over his work to date (see picture above), he directed me to a couple of sites highlighting some aspirational, grand scale Mos Eisley construction.


The first was on the Hirst Arts forums where a sprawling, miniature replica of the infamous spaceport was being built for use in wargames or RPGs - in scale with the old Wizards Of The Coast prepainted miniatures.


The second site focusses on building accurate replicas of the cantina - where Luke met Han for the first time - for posing Hasbro three-and-three-quarter inch action figures in.

If only I had the talent, finances and - rather crucially - the room to build and display/store something like these incredible dioramas.

Oh well, I can dream...

Academy of Heroes - Episode Seven: Knight Owl



In the most interesting episode to date of this quirky series, former firefighter Knight Owl is partnered up with an ex-police officer to improve his street smarts.

News Nuggets...


Fleamarket Friday: Choose Your Weapon!


Weapons Of Choice is a new series of minimalist posters from Moxy Creative, featuring the iconic weapons of five pop culture stalwarts - Batman, Iron Man, Rocky Balboa, Freddy Krueger, and Darth Vader.

The 11.75" x 15.5" prints are $30 each, plus $15 shipping for any number of posters.

And be sure to check out their other ranges elsewhere on their website for similar, cool artwork.

Fleamarket Friday: Smuggler's Gambit!



Smuggler's Gambit is an all-new story created in the spirit of the classic Star Wars NPR radio dramas - written by Fanboys' Kyle Newman and performed by voice actors from The Clone Wars including Sam Witwer, Tom Kane, Ashley Eckstein, Matt Lanter, Dee Bradley Baker, Matthew Wood, Clare Grant, and Daniel Logan with David Collins as Han Solo.

It was recorded at Celebration VI in Florida last year. The full audio of the half-hour play can be listened to, or downloaded, over here.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Patricia Knight (1935 - 2013)


Buddhists refer to the transitional state of bardo, between death and rebirth, when the spirit endures a series of monstrous challenges. I can think of no better metaphor for my mother's life from the day my dad passed away, seven years ago, until her death last Saturday morning. She was 77.

My parents were so in love that mum just couldn't cope on her own. Before he died, dad confided in Rachel that we needed to be aware that mum was forgetting things with increasing regularity and it quickly became clear that she couldn't continue living in the family home on her own.

We were so lucky that a very kind health visitor helped to find mum a place at the Mount Ephraim House Care Home in Tunbridge Wells, where she spent the remaining years of her life in the care and comfort of a loving environment, staffed by amazing carers.

Mum was born and raised in Tunbridge Wells and met dad, who was a telephone engineer (like her father), when she was working as a telephonist.

They lived in Western Road, Tunbridge Wells, for several years and that's where I was born. When I was about three, we all moved to the bungalow in Henwood Green Road where I grew up.

Dad eventually retired, freeing up time for them to enjoy their frequent day trips around the South of England, taking cream tea at every National Trust property they visited. They remained active until dad died in 2005.

It didn't matter how much we all loved her, after the the Alzheimer's took hold it just gradually ate everything that made her her over these last seven years. Thankfully in her final week she was asleep almost constantly and, I hope, unaware of what that cruel disease was doing to her.

She hadn't really been herself for quite some time, but part of me always hoped that maybe one day we'd go to visit and there would be the sharp, vibrant, wickedly funny woman I remembered.

She is at peace now and reunited with the love of her life.

I miss you, mum. The world is less fun without you.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Map-A-Monday: World Of Mortal Engines...

Click to embiggen
This week's map comes from the Fever Crumb cycle of books by Philip Reeve, the prequels to his awesome Mortal Engines quartet, and depicts western Europe in the far distant future.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

[COMPETITION] A Handy Reminder...

We're a week into my bloggersary design-a-monster competition and the field is still wide open.

Aimed at both gamers and non-gamers alike, you simply have to tell me the story behind the pictured creature - check out the original blogpost for the full details.

You can also see the beastie in all its glory at the top of the right-hand column of HeroPress.

Submit your background stories, game stats (if you have them) etc to me at this address.

The closing date for entries is January 30 and here's a visual reminder of the prizes up for grabs:


The winner gets his choice of either the Stan Lee documentary or the ICONS roleplaying game, as well as an eBook of either of Alex J Cavanaugh's Amazon best-selling space opera novels.

I'd like to thank the following bloggers who have so far supported this competition and hope you'll check them out - if you don't follow them already:
Here are three more extended interview clips from With Great Power... The Stan Lee Story, which could be yours if you send me your monster write-up...


Buffy Vs Edward...



And there's a very cool "victory for the little guy (and common sense)" story behind this vid.

Ladies & Gentlemen, Carpe Diem!

As the sixth anniversary of HeroPress draws near, I'd like to take a moment to welcome the latest signings to our exclusive team:

  • Alex J of Alex J Cavanaugh (an amazing, inspirational blog about writing; a central hub for frequent cross-blog events etc)
  • Will Doyle

Friday, 11 January 2013

New Game Of Thrones Teaser...

Academy of Heroes - Episode Six: Motor Mouth



In this episode, Stan decides that fast talking, taser-happy Motor Mouth needs to learn some self-defence techniques for when he's roaming the streets.

This is actually one of the better episodes, however, I'm not a physical person at all but I can't understand why someone going up against Motor Mouth in a fight simply doesn't grab his solid rubber half-face mask and either pull it over his eyes or ping it back into his face? It seems a ridiculous thing to wear if you're really going to be tackling suspected criminals.

Fleamarket Friday: These Are The Jedi You Are Looking For...


The Indiegogo campaign to fund Unlikely Jedi: Return Of The French Guy, a contemporary riff on popular Star Wars tropes in a comic book format, hit the 30 per cent funding mark over Christmas... and still has three weeks to run

British game designer and avid comic fan Ryan Brain's plan is for this 28-page comic to be the first of five issues that make up the story Return Of The French Guy.

I'm pretty sure this is something that should appeal to HeroPress readers as this new comic series is a sequel to The Unwritten Rule trilogy of Star Wars fan films Ryan and his friends made back in 2003.

The original idea was to create a feature-length sequel, but over the years this has morphed into a graphic novel and comic.

I'll let Ryan explain:





To help spread the word about this uniquely British comic book and ensure that it hits its target, visit the campaign's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/unlikelyjedi and follow it on Twitter at www.twitter.com/theunlikelyjedi

And don't forget to pledge!

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Epic Kills of Spartacus: War of the Damned...

A visceral taste of things to come in the final chapter of the Spartacus epic, which premieres January 25 in the States...



Probably NSFW (unless you work in an abattoir)!

It's a Trap!!!

The UniCorps Wants YOU!



Team Unicorn wants YOU! Join the UniCorps, an intergalactic force of awesome. Punch out bad guys, rescue kittens, make rainbows appear from nowhere!

Become a card-carrying member and do YOUR part to save the universe!

Infomercial starring Team Unicorn (Michele Boyd, Clare Grant, Milynn Sarley and Rileah Vanderbilt), directed by Sean Becker and written by Colton Dunn.

Featuring Rachael Leigh Cook, James Gunn and the original unicorn, STAN LEE! along with Kevin Shinick, Kathy Holland, Ainsley Parks, Dave Foy and Pat Cox.

Before Felix Baumgartner...



Archival news footage of Air Force Captain Joseph Kittenger's skydive in 1960 from 19 miles above the earth.

Even though pressurisation in his right glove went wrong and his hand swelled to twice it's size, he continued the ascent. His final words before stepping off the Excelsior III were "Lord, take care of me now."

His speed reached 614mph (988km/h).

Kittinger's records for the highest ascent, highest parachute jump, and fastest velocity stood for 52 years, until they were broken last year by Felix Baumgartner.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Brave New World Or Bland New World?


Saw the first episode of Primeval: New World and it wasn't as crappy as I feared it would be.

That's not to say it was great - far from it - but then the original Primeval was pretty much mockable car-crash TV for its first season.

The only thing that had going for it was frequent gratuitous scenes of uberspunky pixie Hannah Spearritt cavorting around her character's apartment in her underwear.

However, from the second season onwards the show went from strength-to-strength (sadly the saucy Spearritt moments were phased out) and, much like Merlin (which also had a stinker of a first season), Primeval became must-see TV.

However, does Primeval: New World deserve this grace period? In a very real sense it's not a new show, just a new season - with a totally different cast - of an established show.

The pilot episode didn't start too promisingly, and several of the supporting cast are truly bland, but as things progressed it began to find its feet.

This episode saw Connor Temple (Andrew Lee Potts), from the original British show, coming to Vancouver to recover an "anomaly detecting device" that had fallen into the hands of scientist Evan Cross (Eureka's Niall Matter). Cross had got his hands on the device when he and his wife stumbled up an an anomaly and she was killed by a dinosaur that had emerged from it.

Cross appears to have not only purchased the abandoned warehouse where this event took place (surely the police were suspicious of this? A man's wife is killed mysteriously after breaking into an abandoned warehouse and then he buys the building and converts it into his own office space?) but has spent the last six years chasing anomalies, without really knowing what they are.

For new viewers - which presumably the Canadian show is seeking to attract - Connor's role in things isn't made particularly clear, except to hint that he is somehow connected with the 'dead'(?) Anomaly Research Centre agent Cross also found when his wife got eaten by a T-Rex. Presumably this will be explained later in the series, even though - as far as I am aware - none of the other original cast are scheduled to appear in New World.

Cross has assembled a rather rag-tag team of confidantes to help him in his quest to understand these anomalies, but the only really interesting character - who comes on the scene quite late in the day - is Geoff Gustafson as the rather Fox Mulder-ish Lieutenant Ken Leeds: a Royal Canadian Air Force officer and sole remaining operative of the government's Project Magnet (which is, apparently, a real thing).

Admittedly, Leeds is a quite stereotypical, dishevelled "eccentric" character, but I'm a sucker for those, having an obvious geeky empathy for such people.

"My God, It's Full Of Stars!"


In the week that Dar Horse's new back-to-basics Star Wars comic hits shelves, IDW's prelude to the new JJ Abrams' Star Trek movie - Into Darkness - goes on digital pre-order.

Star Wars, written by Brian Wood with art by Carlos D'Anda, picks up events after the destruction of the first Death Star, with the Empire still in power and the Rebels on the run.

There is no Expanded Universe as this stage, giving Wood a blank canvas to work from, similar to the heady days of the original beloved Marvel comics from the late 70s.

This latter fact is quite ironic given that Dark Horse is expected to lose its Star Wars licence to Marvel in the wake of the Disney purchase of Lucasfilm (Disney also owns Marvel), while the former is worth bearing in mind as there is no telling what effect Star Wars Episode VII will have on the years of Expanded Universe stories.

Meanwhile all four issues of the Star Trek: Countdown To Darkness mini-series have now become available for pre-order from Apple iBookstore - with the first issue arriving on January 16.

Written by Mike Johnson, from a story by movie scribe Robert Orci, with art by David Messina, the mini-series bridges the gap between Abrams' two Trek movies and leads directly into the plot of the new film.

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