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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

DC Icons The Flash Toy Review


When it comes to iconic heroes, I have to admit DC does it better. Superman. Batman. Wonder Woman. These demi-gods of comics have survived through the years to become legends in the comic book world. And what better way to honor these characters than a toyline that perfectly captures their iconic nature!

Enter DC Icons, DC Collectibles' newest line of fully-articulated action figures. I saw their lineup and instantly knew who I was going to get. The one character who's had many toys over the years but none have satisfied me. Until now. I'm talking about the fastest man alive, the Flash, whose figure I will be reviewing today!

The DC Icons packaging is nice and neat and displays the figure with his accessories very well. I actually like the packaging of DC these days. But really, toys like the Flash deserve to be released from this plastic prison!



Out of the box, DC Icons Flash looks amazing. This is the Flash costume debuted by Barry Allen that marked the beginning of the Silver Age of Comic Books, and the figure captures the look amazingly well. The sculpt is easily one of the best I've seen out of DC Comics, paint is well-applied, and the details are sharp, right down to the little wings on the side of his head! His expression is one of intense concentration, but some angles and the way the eyes are painted make him look a bit dour for my tastes. A sly smirk would have fit his Silver Age personality better, wouldn't you say?

 


DC Icons features a completely new base body for their figures, and it fits the Flash well. It's not as brawny as some of his DC Universe Classics or even DC Direct counterparts, so we have a Flash that looks exactly like a runner should.




Speaking of running, DC Icons Flash gets one of the rarest things to see in a Flash figure: "running" hands! Finally, a fully-articulated Flash figure that looks like he's actually running instead of punching the air in front of him! It's one of the main reasons why I never bought a Flash figure until now, and seeing this figure posed with runner's hands is a sort of a breakthrough moment for me.


He also gets extra hands, one posed and one clenched in a fist, because sometimes the Flash needs to just stop and punch a dude in the face. Swapping out his hands is a bit of a chore, though, as the wrist holes are tight as hell, but I guess better that than his hands wobbling loose on me. Just be careful or you may end up snapping them off in a fit of Red Lantern-like rage!

 


DC Icons articulation looks great and offers a good range of motion, a must for characters as limber as the Flash. Double-jointed elbows, rocker ankles, and the new torso joint design lets you pose Flash however you like and he would look absolutely cool doing it.

 


But while the articulation does its job, it doesn't do it well enough in some areas. Poor Icons Flash can't lift his head to see where he's going while running, and the way the legs are built into the figure's hips makes Flash's legs go up and to the side when bent, so putting him in a running pose looks weird in some angles. But when you look this good, who cares if you look like you're dancing a little jig while you run?


The Flash comes with one weird accessory: the Cosmic Treadmill he uses to run through time safely. While it's quite an iconic piece of the Flash's history and does look great and filled with neat little details, it doesn't scream "must have", know what I'm saying? I would have rather gotten clear plastic "speed" effects (speed punches? Whirlwinds you can attach to his arms? yellow lightning bolt streaks?) instead. I mean, his co-Icon Green Lantern got armor and wings and weapons, and all poor Barry got was this?

 


Most of DC's action figure lines dance the 6"-7" scale, but DC Icons is a little different. Since I mix and match the best figures from all toylines to form my toy roster, I'd want my heroes to look at least in scale with each other. At 6 inches tall, they won't be mixing well with even the sorta-uniform scale of DC Universe Classics.  DCUC Batman towers over DC Icons Flash, but that's exactly why I bought Flash over everyone else; Flash is a lean, mean, running machine, and his smaller stature is a perfect fit beside my Justice League figures.



But really, all I asked for is a decently articulated Flash figure, and DC Icons delivered. It's a gorgeous fig that perfectly captures the Scarlet Speedster at his most iconic, making it quite possibly THE definitive Flash figure. If you're looking to beef up your Justice League roster, go straight for this toy and never look back.


DC Icons Flash is out in most specialty stores in the Philippines, but he's selling out really fast (hah!). You have to look out for misapplied paint around the lightning details on his costume and on his eyes...wouldn't want a wall-eyed Flash, now would we? But if you do see him in your local comic store or toy shop, get him quick before he's gone for good!

I hope you enjoyed my review of DC Icons Flash! Which Icons figure are you getting? Let's talk about it in the comments below. Thanks for reading!


Monday, November 30, 2015

Trese Board Game Playtest: It's Scary Good


It's official: I live in an age where Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo's scary, insane, and amazing comic book Trese has been made into a board game.

My girlfriend Andrea and I had the privilege of being one of the first to playtest Balangay Entertainment's prototype Trese Board Game in Uno Morato last Saturday, and I have to admit I had some reservations. But all those doubts disappeared once the dice started rolling!


I was surprised at how well thought-out the Trese Board Game is. You play as one of five characters from the Trese comic (Maliksi, Captain Guerrero, the twins Crispin and Basilio, and, of course, Alexandra Trese herself), and the goal is to beat the scenario by completing three objectives. We got the God of War scenario, so we had to stop Bombers from blowing up locations, enlist the aid of supernatural creatures, and finally seal the Big Bad Talagbusao at the end to win.


The Trese Board Game took us to some iconic locations in Manila, where cases come up (via Case Cards) that need your team's attention. You roll dice to attack aswang, disarm bombers, or solve cases. The Case Cards are interesting in that you don't know what you're getting into until the Cases 'manifest' themselves by flipping face up. It's that kind of randomness that kept us players on our toes.

Too many cases unsolved, though, and the Crisis Meter goes up, representing the escalating trouble in the city. Once the meter reaches its highest point, the city is in shambles and you lose. It's a brilliant mechanic, really, and I love how it makes you feel just like Trese and the gang as they try to stop the city from being overrun. It's a good incentive for your team not to mess around and solve some cases!

Our team of four (Crispin, Basilio, Captain Guerrero, and Maliksi) made it to the end of the God of War scenario, where the final objective was to seal the dreaded Talagbusao. As luck would have it, the Kambal were in the right place at the right time to seal the dude and end his reign of destruction once and for all, just like in the comic! In the end, after a suspenseful series of dice rolls trying to meet Talagbusao's high requirements, it was Andrea (as Basilio) with help from another player (as Crispin), who defeated the Talagbusao and ended the session in victory!


It was a fun ride, and kudos to Balangay Entertainment for successfully translating the feel and flavor of Trese into board game form. We had lots of fun, and you can bet that we'll be there to buy a copy once it's available!

Thanks for reading! If you want to know more about Balangay Entertainment, you can visit their fanpage here. Haven't read Trese yet? You frikkin' should. Trese is available at National Bookstore and other good book stores.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Ronnie del Carmen and Pete Docter Invade Manila for INSIDE OUT


Inside Out, Disney-Pixar's latest movie, arrives in Philippine theaters August 19, and what better way to celebrate its release than with a visit from the two people who helped bring it to life!

Ronnie del Carmen and Inside Out director Pete Docter are in Manila right now to promote Disney-Pixar's latest animated film, and we're fortunate enough to have been given exclusive access to their press conference! This is the first time Pixar ever flew someone over to Manila to promote their film, so this is an amazing opportunity to know more about Inside Out straight from the source.


Pete and Ronnie were all smiles as they climbed up the stage, even dancing an adorable little jig for everyone in attendance. "We've been here 12 hours and we've already eaten 3 times," Pete quipped before taking his seat. Looks like Ronnie's been giving Pete a crash course in Filipino dining habits!

Ronnie del Carmen is a veritable rock star in his own country, as he's one of the most prominent Filipinos working in Hollywood right now, having worked on some of Pixar's most memorable hits like Up, WALL-E, Finding Nemo, and now Inside Out. A graduate of the University of Santo Tomas majoring in Advertising (like me!), Ronnie's hard work enabled him to be pulled into Pixar and eventually leading him to where he is today, back in Manila sitting in front of a media/press crowd promoting the film he co-directed with Pete Docter.


"[Pixar is] a collaborative place," Pete tells us in between regaling the crowd of the process that goes into making a movie like Inside Out. "There's a team of 270 amazingly talented artists who worked on this film, and every one of them contributed in some way."

Unsurprisingly, some of these 270 were fellow Filipinos, Ronnie revealed. "We called ourselves Pixnoys (Pixar-Pinoys). And all we do is eat."

Kidding, of course. Ronnie always looks like he's having the time of his life.

Having migrated to the US in 1989, Ronnie calls it "quite a journey" from simply watching movies in Greenbelt, wishing he could be a part of making movies, to eventually working at Pixar. "I'm not just coming home, there's a movie I helped make that 's opening here [in the Philippines] and it's kind of a surreal experience."

"It's a dream come true," Ronnie says with a smile.


At a current global box office take of $630 million (with more territories still waiting for the premiere), Inside Out is a smash hit for Pixar, who seem to have a knack for bringing engaging and funny stories to life.

One surprising tidbit about Inside Out was that it was supposed to feature depression as 'a malevolent force taking over', but decided against it, as it didn't further the message they were trying to convey. "The thing about depression is that it's the absence of emotion," Ronnie says. "It's not about being political. It takes it out of the hands of the protagonist. It would not be worth watching this movie about emotions and you're ineffective."


A movie about emotions have never been done before, and it took Pete and Ronnie's team 5 years of exhaustive research into psychology and story meetings-cum-therapy sessions to clarify how they're going to go about making people care about personifications of emotions.

"The research kind of fell our way and we were like, 'Yes! We can tell the story' because the hard thing to do is to make a movie wherein you care about what your characters are going through." Pete explained. "No one's ever seen an emotion before, nobody knows what they do, yet they're these characters in a little girl's head, and we're supposed to care about what they want. That is monumental."

The last question is the most decisive one: will we ever see the Pixar films, a collection of movies that's been analyzed by fans to hell and back as happening in a single universe, cross over with each other?

"This will be a controversial answer," Pete said with a rueful smile before answering in the quite definitive "No."

Ow. Sorry about that, Pixar shared-universe fans.


And just like that, the presscon was over. Pete and Ronnie stayed to do a photo op holding plush toys of Inside Out's characters, their babies, and you can see in their faces the relief of finally releasing to the world their labor of love. And with a near perfect score from critics and fans alike, it's evident the world absolutely loves them too.

Inside Out opens across the Philippines on August 19, 2015.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

7 Things from the Batman v Superman Trailer

San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) has been carpet-bombing us with mind-blowing reveals, but right now none have been as mind-blowing as the new Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer! This new trailer is chock full of new footage, giving us some interesting new info about the movie. Let's look at seven things that stood out from the trailer!


THE TRIAL OF SUPERMAN

Many wondered why the gratuitous Disaster Porn of Man of Steel seemed to have no repercussions. But apparently that's not true, since it looks like Superman WILL be held liable for the destruction of Metropolis. How liable though, is anyone's guess. What else can they do to a guy who can shrug off the blast from a World Engine? And can Superman's reputation even recover? I guess we'll have to wait till the movie arrives for the answer.


WAYNE TOWER FALLS

Speaking of destruction, it's now verified that Wayne Tower is one of the many buildings destroyed by Superman's fight with Zod, and Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) was there to see it happen! Shades of 9/11 permeate this scene, and it looks like this event is the catalyst for Batman's disdain for the Man of Steel.


KNEEL BEFORE LUTHOR

An unusual scene, which looks like Superman at the mercy of Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg)! Will this be the reason why Superman would choose to battle Batman? Is mind control involved? Lex's smug smile and Superman's blank stare could be a hint of how this goes down.


A DEATH IN THE FAMILY

In a nice nod to the comics, Bruce Wayne looks upon a costume mounted in the Batcave's museum, and it's unmistakably the costume of Robin, Batman's trusty sidekick! It's grafitti'd with something the Joker would say, implying that Jared Leto's character in Suicide Squad may have a hand in making that suit empty, just like how the Joker was the reason for Robin's death in the comics. It also implies Batman did have a partner at some point, and whatever happened to him may have had a profound effect on Bruce Wayne's worldview.


WONDER WOMAN!

Finally, we get a clear look at Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman! I have to say I'm loving the look, and it's the scene that gave me more chills than any other scene in the trailer. She looks WAY out of place in the trailer, though, but that's just the comic book fan in me talking. Where does she fit in with Batman and Superman's rivalry? I guess the trailer worked, because now I can't wait to know the answer.


DARK KNIGHT RETURNS

Blink and you'll miss it! Before Batffleck grapples away from an energy blast, he's bathed in a lightning silhouette that's awfully familiar...


It looks like the good folks of Batman v Superman paid homage to Frank Miller's iconic cover from The Dark Knight Returns!


KRRRRYPTONITE!

Green rocks in a Superman movie? It doesn't look good for the Man of Steel already. Looks like Luthor will gain access to Kryptonite at one point in the film. It's Superman's biggest weakness in the comics, but we'll have to see what effects it has on him in Batman v Superman.



Judging from the things we learned from the trailer, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is shaping up to be the most anticipated movie for DC Comics fans, and comic book fans in general. If the film is as good as the trailer makes it look, the mind blowing has only just begun!

BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE is in theaters March 25, 2016.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Nostalgia Makes Me Feel Good!



There was one toy that caught my attention at ToyCon, and for me it was worth more than any toy in that convention.

While squeezing myself through the crowd during last Saturday's ToyCon, I came upon this shop that had lots of vintage G.I. Joes, SilverHawks, X-Men, and Star Wars figs. If I saw a figure I once owned in that pile I would break into a smile. I looked around to see what else they had, and that's when I saw hanging on their booth's wall a Proton Pack toy from The Real Ghostbusters toyline.

Suddenly, nostalgia carpet-bombed my consciousness. Seeing the thing up close brought back lots of memories! I was a huge fan of The Real Ghostbusters as a kid, and my mom often told the story of how she bought a Proton Pack like this from a catalog while she was in the States and almost didn't catch her flight home coz it was only delivered the very same day she was supposed to leave.


The day I got this toy was one of the best days of my life. The Proton Pack was one of, if not THE first of my "big" toys. To me it was the Real Thing, and I wore it every damn day, bustin' "ghosts" all through the house and annoying my parents with the incessant whirring noise the gun made!

Unfortunately, my Proton Pack was given away during the Great Teenage Toy Purge (where she thought I was too old for toys), so you could imagine my joy seeing one of these again. I was even half-hoping it was actually my Proton Pack, inspecting it to see if it had the same pinch in the hose or the same tear in the sticker I remember so vividly.

I asked how much they're selling it for, and they told me they haven't put a price on it yet. Just as well...you can't really put a price on nostalgia.

Did you ever see a toy from your childhood that gave you nostalgia feels?


Saturday, June 13, 2015

Jurassic World Movie Review


The first Jurassic Park was a marvel of modern cinema. Unfortunately, it got a bit long in the tooth with every sequel. But just when you thought it could only get worse, Jurassic World comes to remind itself that it could get better, and it can start by sticking to what it did best.

Located off the coast of Costa Rica, the Jurassic World luxury resort provides a habitat for an array of genetically engineered dinosaurs, including the vicious and intelligent Indominus rex. When the massive creature escapes, it sets off a chain reaction that causes the other dinos to run amok. Now, it's up to a former military man and animal expert (Chris Pratt) to use his special skills to save two young brothers and the rest of the tourists from an all-out, prehistoric assault.

There are points where Jurassic World feels too much like a love letter to the original Jurassic Park, like it was slowly turning into a remake than standing on its own reptilian feet. But on the other hand, that was probably why I enjoyed Jurassic World so damn much. Running through corridors being chased by raptors, kids running through forests with a dinosaur hot on their tail, all of it brought back awe and wonder and visceral thrill of seeing dinosaurs chomp and stomp their way across the screen just like it did when I first saw the original 1993 film as a kid.


The humans this time around are a bit genre-savvy, a bit more aware that what the fact that Jurassic World exists is crazy and fun...and every bit as dangerous. Chris Pratt steals the show with his cool and collected performance as alpha male Owen Grady, channeling his previous Star-Lord persona to woo ladies and stare down velociraptors like it's no big deal. Unfortunately, there wasn't much characterization left in the bowl for the rest of the cast. Bryce Dallas Howard was okay as overachieving park manager Claire, not as particularly memorable as Laura Dern was in her time. Vincent D'Onofrio as shady InGen thug had nothing much to do. The two kids? Jeez, I even forgot the kids' names, and their 'parents-about-to-divorce' back story wasn't very compelling.

You know who was compelling though? The dinosaurs.


Dinosaurs. Compelling. Not exactly the kind of word I'd describe long-extinct reptiles who want to eat everything that moves, but when you fear for every living thing on screen whenever the Indominus Rex (the movie's Big Bad) arrives, or feel that swell of joy seeing freaking velociraptors have a Big Damn Heroes moment, there's no other other way to describe it. The featured dinos this time around had "real" personalities, showcasing the underlying themes of humans (unsuccessfully) meddling with nature, especially 65 million year old nature.


But most importantly, Jurassic World made me fall in love with dinosaurs, even the first Jurassic Park, all over again. Trust me, the climactic battle will make sure you'll feel the same way too. Despite feeling like a retread, there's no denying that Jurassic World is a damn-near solid blockbuster film, a non-stop thrill ride from start to finish. Rejoice! Dinosaurs are cool again. Highly recommended!

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

The ‘Single Ladies’ / Shingeki no Kyojin Mash-Up You Need Right Now

Guile's Theme? Go home and be a family man. The DuckTales theme? You are small time.

If you really want to know if Beyonce's video for "Single Ladies" is universal, there's no better way to test it than to set it to the song that absolutely goes with everything: Guren no Yumiya, the opening song to Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan), as Youtube user Lei Riddel just did!

I don't think I've ever seen such holy symmetry. It's like discovering the equation that answers the meaning of life.

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