Author

About the Author
Founder and Executive Producer of the Heroes Podcast Network. Host of Screen Heroes and Redshirts & Runabouts podcast series. Known Trekkie, gamer, and all around nerd.

Villains Collector Corps Unboxing

This month’s Marvel Collector Corps box is themed “Villains”. What is the Marvel Collector Corps? It’s a bi-monthly blind box subscription service from Funko and Marvel. Every other month, a new themed box is shipped with various items from t-shirts to comic books or Pop Vinyls, and more. Each item is a Marvel Collector Corps exclusive, meaning even the Pop Vinyls are not available anywhere else. It should be noted that unboxing videos always contain spoilers about the contents of the box. So please keep that in mind as you watch our video. Check out our unboxing of the latest box from Funko and then subscribe to our YouTube channel. We have a lot planned to release this fall and winter including a web series. So stay tuned!

What do you think of this month’s box? We are now three boxes in. Do you think it’s worth the money? What is your favorite piece of the Villains box? Are you excited for December’s Guardians of the Galaxy box? Comment below!

Villains Collector Corps Unboxing

Grid Talk: 03 – Collectibles and Subscription Boxes

This week, Grid Talk is all about collecting, collectibles, and subscription boxes. We break down what we love to collect. Then, we take a walk down memory lane to discuss what got us started down the collectibles path. After that, we break down the recent surge in subscription box offerings including a dive into LootCrate as well as Funko’s growing line of offerings thanks to the Marvel Collector Corps, upcoming Star Wars themed Smuggler’s Bounty subscription, and the announced but unnamed DC Comics box. With nerd culture becoming so mainstream and major franchises like Marvel, DC, and Star Wars seeing insane amounts of money and success, collectibles are becoming higher quality, harder to come by, and more varied.

What do you like to collect? Do you collect action figures? Comic books? What are your thoughts on subscription boxes? Have you tried any of the non-collectibles services that provide food, clothing, or pet items? Comment below!

Collectibles Podcast Credits

Hosts
Derreck Mayer
Timothy Jackson
Zachary Story

Special Guests
Rae Stewart

Executive Producer and Editor
Derreck Mayer

Music
Michael Wallace (Flying Killer Robots)

iTunes Link
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/grid-talk-sci-fi-frontiers/id1057992963?mt=2

RSS Feed
http://thegridscififrontier.com/feed/podcast/gridtalk

Social Media
@GridTalkTweets

Email
contact@thegridscififrontier.com

Grid Talk: 03 – Collectibles and Subscription Boxes

Grid Talk: 02 – Back to the Future

Today marks the day Marty and Doc traveled to in the future in the 1989 sequel, Back to the Future Part II. This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the Back to the Future trilogy and franchise. To honor the franchise, we sit down to talk about the characters, cast, story lines, and future tech we’ve all grown to love over the years. We take a special interest in the 2015 Back to the Future Part II envisioned, comparing it to what we got… still wondering where our hoverboards are. But, while the shark still looks fake, it’s still part of one of our most beloved trilogies. So sit back, grab some plutonium and don’t let anyone call you chicken. It’s time for Grid Talk.

Podcast Credits

Hosts
Derreck Mayer
Timothy Jackson
Zachary Story

Special Guests
David Hill
Ryan Couture

Producer
Derreck Mayer

Music
Michael Wallace (Flying Killer Robots)

iTunes Link
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/grid-talk-sci-fi-frontiers/id1057992963?mt=2

RSS Feed
http://thegridscififrontier.com/feed/podcast/gridtalk

Social Media
@GridTalkTweets

Email
contact@thegridscififrontier.com

Grid Talk: 02 – Back to the Future

Crimson Peak: A Spoiler-Filled Review

Crimson Peak is a new horror film from famed Director and Writer Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Pacific Rim, Pan’s Labyrinth). I, for one, am a huge fan of Pacific Rim and can’t wait for the sequel. Crimson Peak stars Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland (2010)), Jessica Chastain (The Martian, Interstellar, Zero Dark Thirty), and Tom Hiddleston (Thor, Avengers, and the upcoming Kong: Skull Island), along with Charlie Hunnam (Pacifc Rim, Sons of Anarchy).

Crimson Peak Summary

The film takes place during the late 19th century, beginning in the United States and then spending the second half of the film in England. In short, Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) joins Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) and his sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain) at their old, run down mansion in England. The whole story is odd to me, but here’s the basic rundown with spoilers. Edith comes from money, lots of it. Her father was a hardworking man who has made something of his life and in turn, Thomas Sharpe comes to America in search of money. The Sharpe family had money at one point but it long since gone, their home literally falling apart back in England. Thomas Sharpe has a plan to get money rolling back in using the red clay under his property but he needs funding for his excavation machine. Crimson Peak EdithEdith’s father turns down his proposal. Meanwhile, Thomas takes an interest in Edith. Things seem nice at first but, long story short, Edith’s father uncovers incriminating evidence against Thomas and tells him to break Edith’s heart and leave, even paying him a decent sum of money to do so. Then, not surprisingly, Edith’s father is murdered in the wash room by an unknown figure… we are to assume it’s Thomas or his sister Lucille. Edith quickly marries Thomas. In fact, it seems that she does so before the funeral even occurs but either way, she moves to England, selling off everything she and her father owned and is in the process of transferring his family’s wealth into Thomas’s name for use on the excavation equipment, theoretically.

Now that we are at the mansion, creepy things happen. Edith sees ghosts, terrible ghosts, which are portrayed in a very unique way. We quickly figure out that a lot of murder has occurred in this home and Edith is becoming ill, likely due to some kind of poison. Meanwhile, back in the United States, Crimson Peak Thomas SharpeDr. Alan McMichael (Charlie Hunnam), who had taken an interest in Edith, is not convinced that Carter Cushing’s death was an accident but apparently no one else cared to investigate. More on that later. McMichael leaves the U.S. to find and presumably rescue Edith. During this time, Edith discovers that she is in fact being poisoned via her tea that is prepared by Lucille and that Lucille and Thomas have been planning this murder all along. What’s more important is that we finally find out that this mansion is Crimson Peak. Why is this important? When Edith was a child, the ghost of her mother came to her and warned her to beware of Crimson Peak. She doesn’t discover this nickname until it’s far too late and she is quite ill.

Thomas begins to have doubts about the murder because he has fallen in love with Edith. We find out that Thomas was married before and that at least three other woman have been targets of this nature, all now dead. THEN we find out that Thomas and his sister Lucille have an intimate, sexual relationship between the two of them, even producing a child at one point… which Lucille murders. Alright, so Dr. McMichael shows up, tries to take Edith away but is stabbed by Lucille. Thomas then takes advantage of the situation to pretend to kill McMichael to he can save Edith. Thomas is killed by his own sister in a fit of rage. The final battle, so to speak, takes place out in the snow between Edith and Lucille, with McMichael slowing bleeding out in the mines. Edith is victorious thanks to a timely appearance of Thomas’s ghost, which distracts Lucille long enough for Edith to bash her head in with a shovel.

Okay, so that’s what happens.

What I Liked About Crimson Peak

Crimson Peak is a beautiful movie. The colors, the costumes, the digital effects of the ghosts, all beautiful. I love the time period and the style of the film. I truly felt part of that era and the characters felt at home in that time. The state of the mansion was never questioned. It was ready to fall apart. All of the sets were designed perfectly, though overly dramatic at times.

Crimson Peak Lucille Sharpe

The acting was also pretty solid. I thought Jessica Chastain stole the show with her character being the most consistent and threatening. I also truly enjoyed Jim Beaver’s performance as Carter Cushing, as short as it was. He was perfect for the role and I’d wished he had survived if only to see him in another scene.

What I Disliked About Crimson Peak

I did not like this movie. I did not enjoy it and I would not watch it again. Why? There are several reasons. First, the whole plot is thin and illogical. Thomas Sharpe travels the world pretending to look for money and then winning over daughters from rich families. Then his sister dispatches with those families, forcing the daughter to be the heir to the fortunes. Thomas marries the woman and waits out Lucille to murder her in some way, usually poison. Let’s put aside how expensive it is to travel the world (the siblings had been to Italy, France, and the United States among other places), wouldn’t it be infinitely easier for Lucille, as a woman, to win over a single male with money? Second, they are only in this situation because they refuse to leave their family house which it turns out they hate anyway? All this while the siblings have a romantic relationship. Okay, let’s put that aside for a minute and focus on the murder of Carter Cushing. This is a decent sized man, nearing 60. He is preparing to shave in a fairly large wash room that has several attendants. While alone… completely, 100% alone for some reason, with no attendants anywhere in earshot… Lucille sneaks in (a woman in a men’s room in the 19th century) and is able to slam Cushing’s head against a sink not once but several times, literally crushing in the skull in more than one spot. Then, he is left dead on the floor, blood everywhere. She magically slips out. Then, no one wants to investigate the death. Everyone, except Dr. McMichael, believes Cushing slipped and hit his head….. half a dozen times and hard enough to not just knock himself out, or split his head open, but to literally crush an entire chunk of the skull, exposing the brain. Alright, let’s put that aside. Then, Edith quickly sells everything she and her father owned, marries Thomas and moves across the Atlantic, when not a week before, she was desperately trying to get her memoir published using every connection she had. Why did she give everything up so quickly? She was hurt and sad, of course, but she seemed very conscious and alert by the time she arrived in England. This decision seemed completely inconsistent with a character we are to believe is intelligent and level headed, though stubborn.  Finally, everything is so contrived. They sell clay which turns the snow red which is why it’s called Crimson Peak. It’s the dead of winter, so the Post Office is closed and that’s the only building anywhere near Crimson Peak. No police officials or lawyers want to investigate the violent death of one of the most prominent men in the city but the doctor who just got back in town is a resident Sherlock Holmes… which is also referenced early in the film for, I suppose, foreshadowing. Everything is so heavy handed. Edith’s memoir includes ghosts but it’s not a ghost story. The ghosts are just a metaphor for the past. Guess what? That’s actually the synopsis for the film she is in. Crimson Peak has ghosts but it’s not a ghost story. They are there to warn about the past.

Crimson Peak Conclusion

Crimson Peak Sharpe Family

In the end, it’s a wonderfully beautiful film that falls flat for its contrived, heavy handed, ridiculous plot. The actors are solid with Chastain stealing the show. If you love horror films, you might enjoy some aspects of this movie but if you take a minute to think about the plot and everything that it takes to get you to the climax and resolution, you’ll realize that this is a poorly orchestrated story.

I give it 2 poisoned cups of tea out of 5.

What did you think of Crimson Peak? Comment below with your thoughts!

Crimson Peak: A Spoiler-Filled Review

Marvel Announces Ant-Man and the Wasp

This just in! Marvel Studios has announced a new Phase 3 MCU film, Ant-Man and the Wasp which is slated for a July 6th, 2018 release. This is very exciting news for those looking for move superhero films featuring female heroes as this film marks the first time Marvel Studios will release a film with a female hero in the title. This does affect the release dates of two other Phase 3 MCU films, Black Panther and Captain MarvelBlack Panther has been moved up to a February 16th, 2018 release date while Captain Marvel will see a March 8th, 2019 release date.

This means that Black Panther will release a month before DC Comics The Flash, while Ant-Man and the Wasp will release a few weeks before Aquaman and Captain Marvel will release a month before Shazam.

The decision comes on the back of Ant-Man’s financial success, bringing in $410 million globally with $178.5 million coming from the domestic box office. While this falls short of Avengers: Age of Ultron’s nearly $459 million take, it is a solo film and an origin story of a character many were not familiar with. Now that it was successful, a sequel that features Wasp in action seems viable.

Meanwhile, DC Comics’ Wonder Woman is still slated for a June 23rd, 2017 release, putting their first female-centric superhero flick a year ahead of Marvel’s.

Marvel Logo

Marvel Studios also announced dates for three unknown films all in 2020 as part of Phase 4 of the MCU:

  • May 1st, 2020
  • July 10th, 2020
  • November 6th, 2020

Additional information on the announcement can be found at Marvel’s site.

I know I’m very excited for this new film as well as so many more in the superhero genre. What do you think of the latest news? Comment below!

Marvel Announces Ant-Man and the Wasp

Aladdin SNES (1993) – Retro Review

These days, most movie-based video games fall short of expectations and wind up leaving the player unhappy. Back in 1993, however, Capcom and Nintendo launched Aladdin for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). Now, I’ll just start by saying, I love this game! It’s a childhood favorite (yes I was a child when this came out, almost 7 actually). Aladdin provides an enjoyable mix of movie-based levels, new content and fun items. Aladdin is a side scrolling platform game. Each level has multiple stages, aside from the “Whole New World” carpet ride bonus level and “The Final Battle” against Cobra Jafar. Throughout the game you will be shown, well.. 1993’s version of cut-scenes. You get an image or two set to 16-bit music and text explaining what is happening for those of us who haven’t seen the Disney classic staring Robin Williams or don’t know about the side stories our heroes under took that never made it to the big screen.

The game stats are handled fairly simply. There is no timer or running score. You have lives, hearts, emeralds and apples. You can gain additional hearts and lives as the game progresses and you collect emeralds and apples in the levels. Every 100 emeralds will get you an extra life. You can use the apples to stun certain enemies by throwing them. To regain health (hearts), collect bread and chicken found in vases and chests. If you can catch the golden, flying scarab then you’ve won a spin on Genie’s wheel-o-stuff. Usually you’ll end up earning continue credits… BORRRING… but sometimes you will get an extra life or an additional heart! The word around the street is that if you hit “B” at the wheel when Genie blinks, you’ll be guaranteed either a 1-up or 2-up.

Aladdin Helpful Hints

Okay, so by now, you’ve had 20 years to play this game. You might not want to play the whole thing straight through and you wish you could select specific levels or stages. You can! Seriously. Okay, here is what you have to do:

  1. Make sure you have two controllers plugged in and use the primary controller to enter the Settings screen
  2. Pick up the second controller and press, in this order: L, R, Start, Select, X, Y, A, B (the speed isn’t too important)
  3. If done correctly, you’ll hear a little chime
  4. Return to the main menu
  5. With the primary controller, hold L + R and then use the control pad to pick different stages and levels
  6. The stages and levels are noted as Stage-Level in blue above the list of menu options; it can be hard to see

But, if you would rather use the passwords provided as you complete stages, here is the full list:

  • Stage 2: GenieAduAladdinSultan
  • Stage 3: JafarAbuJasmineGenie
  • Stage 4: GenieJafarAladdinAbu
  • Stage 5: AbuAladdinGenieJasmine
  • Bonus: JasmineJafarSultanJasmine
  • Stage 6: JafarJasmineAladdinJafar
  • Stage 7: AladdinJasmineAbuSultan

Aladdin Gameplay

Aladdin SNES Cover

As expected, you play as Aladdin while Abu follows you around. Aladdin begins in the market. As you run along the market place you discover your first enemies. At this point in the game, there are three primary enemies. You’ll have to battle some Guards, Claw in Pots and Archers. These are the official names for these enemies. At the end of the level you have to battle the Marketplace Peddler! This is the man who wants to cut Jasmine’s hand off for stealing food. We must save her! Seems simple enough. Being a game from 1993, all you have to do it jump on the Peddler’s head a few times but watch out! He has a sword and he will use it! You have to get close enough to him so he will swing at you and then as he is swinging, jump on his head. If you are successful, you get to meet Jasmine and talk to her a bit.

Aladdin Marketplace

After your romantic talk with Jasmine, it’s off to the Cave of Wonders! From here you will fight through the cave, evading bats and scorpions along the way. Just watch out for the spikes and sink holes to nothingness. After a while, Abu discovers the treasure we’ve been hunting for. As you walk through the sea of gold, demented swords will fly at you and then an evil, sword wielding skeleton takes a swipe at you. This is when you find Carpet! Remember our lovable, silent friend? He will help lead you to the Lamp. Well, until the next level when he abruptly leaves you for some unexplained reason. In the final stage of the Cave of Wonders level you’ll have to jump around on some logs. Don’t fall into the water because Aladdin cannot swim. He is from the desert, after all. Finally, to keep with the film, you walk past the incredible ruby rock Abu wants, up the stairs to the Lamp and as you take the Lamp, Abu takes the ruby and everything is about to get a lot worse.

With the Cave of Wonders melting around you, it’s a race to the surface. The levels speed up, pushing you along rather than allowing you to progress at your own pace. These are a couple of my favorite levels because they are fast and more challenging than the others. The second of the two “lava levels”, as I call them, puts you in the driver’s seat of Carpet as waves of lava slam behind you and boulders fall from above.

 

Now things get weird. Safe from the lava, you end up going inside Genie’s Lamp… a scene I must have slept through every time I’ve watched the movie. These levels are a lot of fun and in some ways, very psychedelic. You’ve got Genie’s face on blocks that fall, balloons that rise and you even have to jump on his tongue a few times. Somehow the Claw in Pots got inside the lamp, so be careful of those. The first level also has an area where you rely on Genie to provide items to walk on, bounce off of or swing from to get across a giant gap. Of course, I don’t know why Genie is okay with you falling to your death but it is a game. Some of Genie’s combinations of “helpful” items are more convenient than others. For example, sometimes he provides nothing but clouds, nice and simple. Other times he might provide balloons to swing from and cards to bounce off in the same run.

Aladdin Genie Lamp Level

If you make it out of the Lamp alive, you find yourself in a pyramid looking for Abu. The game takes things up a notch by increasing the difficulty a bit. Archers now shoot two arrows in a row, for example. The first level is fairly challenging as far as finding solid footing is concerned. Once you make your way through the pyramid, you come face to face with a horrible enemy, the Pharaoh! No… wait… it’s just Abu acting weird. This level feels very out of place because it seems like there should be another boss but nope, just Abu in a mask. Awkward.

Then, a complete break from the action. We must romance Jasmine, quick! This “bonus” level is nothing but the magic carpet ride. There are no enemies or obstacles to overcome, just emeralds. The only challenge is seeing if you can get all of the red ones in one go. The level is slow and fairly boring, definitely the low point of the game.

Aladdin Magic Carpet Ride

After your date, it’s off to Jafar’s Palace! Here we have the best of the best enemies, including Iago and Swordsman… er men? You’ll have to stay away from fire that inexplicably raises and lowers without leaving any real heat or burns behind. Eventually, if you’re good enough, you’ll find your way to Jafar’s throne room where he will fly, shoot lighting and create flying Claw in Pots from thin air! How do you beat this sorcerer? Well, you can bounce off the Claw in Pots to hit Jafar on the head or you can wait for him to throw his scepter. The scepter shoots lightning across the floor but Aladdin can jump on it and use it to get high enough to hit Jafar on the head. Defeating sorcerer Jafar takes you to the final stage!

The final stage is one level. You are provided a health power-up in the form of a chicken, then it’s off to fight the giant snake Jafar. Here, Jafar will shoot rocks at you by spiting them, which is weird. He will also lunge at you in an attempt to bite. Bounce off the rocks to get high enough or wait for him to lunge to jump onto his  head. As you injure him, he will get angry. When angry, he will oscillate his body, forcing you to either jump or burn in the fires below the cobra. If you defeat him, you can still die in the fire as his body flops about in pain. Just as you think you’ve won it all, he shoots back out and bites down! The game then moves to more “cut-scenes” explaining the entire ending to the movie.

Aladdin Snake Jafar

Congrats! You’ve beat Jafar and got the girl! Depending on how many emeralds you were able to grab, you’ll be shown slightly different endings as the credits scroll. For example, you’ll be shown the carpet ride or AI game play.

Unfortunately, if you’ve mastered the Nintendo classic, Aladdin, there are no difficulty levels to choose from to make it more difficult.

Have you played Aladdin on another console? How does it differ from the SNES version aside from Sega having a much nice title screen? What is your favorite Aladdin level?

Aladdin SNES (1993) – Retro Review

Star Wars: BB-8 Unboxing and Review

In the wake of Force Friday, we were able to get our hands on one of the new $149.99 BB-8 Droids from Sphero. This little Droid looks just like the one in The Force Awakens trailer and is controlled via a connected mobile app, compatible with Android and iOS devices. The video below is our unboxing of the brand new BB-8 Droid toy along with a review of its quality, functionality, and possible value. Watch the video and then let us know your thoughts about the most interactive consumer Star Wars Droid, BB-8. If you’ve got one yourself, let us know your own experience. Do you agree with my take? Disagree? We want to know! Comment below! Oh, and may the Force be with you.

Star Wars: BB-8 Unboxing and Review

DragonCon – From a First-Timer

DragonCon, the cosplay convention of the year, or certainly one of the biggest cosplay-centric conventions in the USA. For those who don’t know what it is, DragonCon is a massive, 70,000+ people comic convention held in Atlanta, Georgia with a heavy focus on two things: cosplay and partying. This year’s DragonCon, held last weekend, was the biggest to date, breaking ticket sales records from previous years plus who knows how many other people joined in on the non-official happenings. Now, I’m no noobie to comic conventions. I’ve attended several including my local Planet Comic Con and Blizzard’s BlizzCon in California. With that said, I’m certainly no veteran of the country’s largest shows, having never been to SDCC, New York Comic Con, or C2E2. So please, keep this all in mind as you read my take on DragonCon 2015.

Thor and Star Lord at DragonCon

 

My Expectations for DragonCon

I’m a cosplayer and a nerd. I love Star Trek, Star Wars, Futurama, Tron, and DC Comics. So, my hopes were to spend most of the convention cosplaying. I had three cosplays lined up: Green Lantern, Rocketeer, and I was debuting Star Lord. I also wanted to check out the creators, artists, and vendors. I love getting things signed, purchasing prints, supporting small, Indie, or local publishers, and I’m big on swag and collectibles. If time and money allowed, I wanted to meet a few celebrities, specifically those from Star Trek and The CW’s various DC Comics universe shows. I also wanted to check out the parade which features tons, probably hundreds of cosplays, among other exciting features. Finally, there were a couple of parties I was excited to check out in the evenings, especially one at the Georgia Aquarium after hours.

DragonCon Positives

Wasp and Black Widow at DragonConThis convention has so many talented and dedicated cosplayers, truly. I saw some amazing builds including sewing jobs, armor crafting, and unique ways of creating the illusion of a character’s power… like floating on a cloud, for example. It was great seeing so many characters, so many incarnations, and so many unique concepts. DragonCon also hosted some amazingly talented artists and creators. I was lucky enough to meet Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti. Such fantastic people, and incredibly talented. I was pumped to get my books signed by both of them, plus a couple cool prints. Then, there’s the vendor area, which takes up two floors in America’s Mart. So. Many. Vendors. Seriously, it took hours to walk through it all and all of my willpower to not max out my credit card. You could get everything from action figures and statues, to prints, bookmarks, buttons, pins, replica weapons, clothing, and, of course, Funko POP Vinyls.

Outside of the convention itself, I was able to attend the DragonCon Georgia Aquarium night. Imagine a massive cosplay party with a costume contest, all held in a cool aquarium after hours. Ya-Ya Han hosted the costume contest which was display on a big screen for all to see. Meanwhile, all of the exhibits were open so we were able to see the penguins, dolphins, and even the octopus came out to play, which is apparently rare. Atlanta also has some great food. We hit up the Hardrock Cafe, of course, along with Ted’s Montana Grill (since the one out in KC closed), and Pacific Rim… just in case my sushi was going to be delivered by giant Jaegers. It was not. But still, fantastic food.

Convention aside, being in Atlanta means some sight seeing. We took a ride on their big Ferris Wheel called SkyView and also took the self-guided tour of the World of Coca Cola museum. It was a decent tour that ended with a lot of soda tasting. My personal favorite was Inca Cola from Peru.

DragonCon Negatives

Some Lanterns at DragonConAlright, so I had fun. Truly. It was a good weekend and I’m glad I attended. With that said, I doubt I’ll be back. Why? I just don’t think it’s my scene. My issues break down into the following categories: physical size, population size, primary attendee focus.

Let’s talk about the physical size of this convention. It takes place across half a dozen different hotels. We spent time in the Marriott, the Hyatt, the Hilton, America’s Mart, and didn’t even make it to the others like the Winston. Ever have trouble finding a vendor or panel in a giant convention hall? Try hunting something down when you don’t know which hotel hosts which things or where the hotels are in relation to each other. In retrospect, I should have done a lot more research from a mapping perspective and memorized locations. On top of that, I would not have used the skywalks to get around. Too complicated. City streets are much easier. But due to the straight size of the convention, I never saw the Walk of Fame nor any panels. Additionally, so many guests, creators, vendors, artists, etc. were there that I missed tons of people I would have loved to see or I didn’t realize they were there and didn’t bring things to have them sign.

Black Widow with Mr. DNA at DragonConThen there’s the population size. Yes, I get that this convention does not have a cap on tickets and, yes, I get that’s kind of the point but I’m not sure that’s a good thing. Many places are impossible to walk due to too much traffic. People are literally walking into each other. No one wants to bend or move. I was strong armed on multiple occasions because people were just rude or frustrated. The patron to convention official or security ratio also seemed way off. Except when entering a badge-specific area, convention officials were no where to be seen and it’s tough to ask them questions at entrances when they are constantly telling you to keep moving, don’t stop… even when you are clearly walking. There were lines wrapped around buildings with people waiting to get into who knows what. I would cross streets out of my way because entire blocks were completely filled with people in line.

Finally, the convention focus. Now, this does not go for everyone, honestly, but the majority of people at DragonCon are there to party more than anything. Thousands of people were just standing, drinking, in areas that don’t even require a badge. Every night was party after party, people walking back to their rooms to replenish their alcohol, etc. In fact, you could do almost everything I did without a badge. The only times my badge was required was to see the creators and the vendors. The hotel lobbies, streets, and parties don’t require a badge. So how many people were there without a badge just to party and cosplay? Who knows but I’d estimate in the multiple thousands.

DragonCon Conclusion

At the end of the day, I had a good time. I bought tons of art and collectibles, got some stuff signed, and cosplayed. With that said, DragonCon is just not for me. I’m not a party-er. I don’t like to drink, especially while in costume, and definitely not in an atmosphere that warned me on several occasions about badge and wallet thieves. I’m not a fan of the multiple hotel situation where I spend more time walking place to place than I do actually being in those places. I think I’ll focus on attending some more Comic Con-focused conventions like C2E2 or Emerald City Comic Con. With that all said, if you love to cosplay, if you love to party, if you love the absolutely massive crowd, and don’t wish to stick to a schedule to get certain things done, then DragonCon might just be the convention for you. If so, you might want to book your room now. Oh, one bright side to driving from Kansas City meant a quick stop in Metropolis, IL to see the home of Superman. They’ve got some great Man of Steel stuff there including a giant statue and a museum.

Have you ever been to DragonCon? Tell us your thoughts below.

DragonCon – From a First-Timer

Secret Wars Collector Corps Unboxing

This month’s Marvel Collector Corps box is themed “Secret Wars”. What is the Marvel Collector Corps? It’s a bi-monthly blind box subscription service from Funko and Marvel. Every other month, a new themed box is shipped with various items from t-shirts to comic books or Pop Vinyls, and more. Each item is a Marvel Collector Corps exclusive, meaning even the Pop Vinyls are not available anywhere else. It should be noted that unboxing videos always contain spoilers about the contents of the box. So please keep that in mind as you watch our video. Check out our unboxing of the latest box from Funko and then subscribe to our YouTube channel. We have a lot planned to release this fall and winter including a web series. So stay tuned!

Contrary to what the featured image for this article says, this box is now unavailable. So if you liked what you saw, subscribe for future boxes.

What do you think of this month’s box? We are now three boxes in. Do you think it’s worth the money? What is your favorite piece of the Secret Wars box? Comment below!

Secret Wars Collector Corps Unboxing

Pacific 201 – A New Star Trek Kickstarter

Pacific 201 is a brand new Star Trek universe fan-made production. We’ve had several major hitters over the last couple of years including Star Trek: Renegades and, of course, Star Trek: AxanarPacific 201 takes place in the 2200s, forty years after the end of the Romulan War, the war we would have seen in season five of Star Trek: Enterprise. On August 21st, they launched their Kickstarter. To learn more about it, I was lucky enough to be able to interview Eric Henry, the man behind the Pacific 201 project.

Pacific 201 Recruitment Poster

Me: Hello, Eric. Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions today. First, let’s talk about you. Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with Star Trek, and film.

Star Trek has always been a big part of my life. My father, who had the privilege of growing up with the original series, did a great job of introducing my siblings and I to Star Trek with episodes and movies on tape. I don’t think we had all that many episodes, to be honest, but we watched them to death. There was a pretty healthy mix of TOS, TNG, and I think we had The Search for Spock and The Voyage Home, as well. Voyager was on the air by the time I was old enough to remember watching television, and we watched that every week too.

As far as my involvement with film goes, a lot of that is thanks to my father as well, who worked as a video photographer during most of my formative years. This meant that I was in near-constant contact with filmmaking equipment, and naturally, making movies became a staple of my childhood. It’s probably pretty safe to say that I made a movie a year from the time I was 6 to the time I was 18. By the time I entered college, I wanted to “up my game,” as it were. Finding myself with a film-savvy roommate, we set out to make something a little more professional, and we ended up producing a Kickstarter-funded short film called “Lily” two years later. Pacific 201 will be my biggest project to date, but it’s a natural step for me.

Pacific 201 Torpedo Fire

Me: Obviously, the big topic of discussion is your new project, Pacific 201, which is a new fan-film set in the Star Trek universe. Can you tell us a bit, for those that don’t know, about the film, when it takes place, and maybe the overall premise?

Pacific 201 is a story about how humanity copes with the aftermath of its first interstellar war – a war that shattered dreams for a lot of people. Even the founding of the Federation wasn’t quite enough to keep humanity from questioning its role in the quadrant. “Is exploring the stars really worth it if death and destruction are all we get from it?” We have to remember that since the launching of the NX-01, Earth suffered two major interstellar crises with the Xindi and the Romulans. It hasn’t all been peace and hope. The mission of the Pacific is a new generation of humanity proving to itself that the dream of peace and prosperity in the final frontier CAN be realized. It took humanity 40 years to regain it’s footing, but the launch of the Pacific is the true dawn of the kind of Starfleet and the kind of Federation we see in TOS.

Me: So, in short, your film, Pacific 201, takes place about forty years after the end of the Romulan War and the ship, Pacific 201, is the first real deep space exploration ship since the end of the war?

We imagine that Starfleet was doing SOME exploration between the Romulan War and the launch of the Pacific, but it’s definitely one of the last things on their mind. Border security, reestablishing trade routes, and other tasks associated with rebuilding after a costly war consumes much of Starfleet’s time and resources. Not to mention that probing into deep space is a sore subject for humanity after the war. Poking our nose into the unknown hasn’t done humanity much good, after all. Or – that’s the way it seems. But as a new generation comes of age, that attitude is diminishing.

Pacific 201 Shuttle

Me: Why did you pick this particular time period for your film?

When the story first dawned on me, it was actually something more concurrent with Kirk’s time. Perhaps slightly before the beginning of TOS – like the year 2260. But as I thought more about the story, I wanted there to be a really big deal about a new deep-space exploration vessel, and that didn’t really make sense coexisting with a ship like the NCC-1701. So I then considered a pre-ENT story, and while exploring that time interested me, I thought the speeds were too slow to get the ship anywhere really meaningful and new. There’s too much hand-holding in that era. I then realized that the period after the Romulan War would be jam-packed with all sorts of really tangible attitudes and situations that an audience could relate to. It’s not just a point on a timeline, but it’s a period of time that would have characters with real opinions and histories. People who had lost parents in the war, people distrustful of the unknown, people yearning for a new era of peace. It offers a whole spectrum of rich storytelling opportunities.

Pacific 201 Romulan Stealth Ship

Me: Did other fan-film projects like Star Trek: Continues or Axanar play a part in why you chose this time period or story?

The story I chose has much more to do with movies like Apollo 13 and submarine movies than anything. Star Trek owes a lot to submarine combat, and that series developed in the Apollo-era of space travel, so I always thought it would be awesome to see a Star Trek movie that had the same nuts-and-bolts, practical, and realistic feeling of a real-world historical film.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6EbTY9KBhM&feature=youtu.be

Me: So, I’ve seen a lot of the art and images posted online of the ship and uniforms. As is the case with previous Star Trek, the ship is basically its own character and something that gets a lot of screen time, especially in the Original Series-era films. Can you tell us a bit about your inspiration for the ship design? Why did you place the nacelles above the saucer section and not attached directly to the secondary haul as is typical in Trek ship designs? Can you tell us anything about the ship’s specifications (i.e. crew size, warp speed capability, weapons, science stations, etc.)? Can it land?

The ship is definitely a character in this film. After all, the movie is named after the ship itself. The design for the ship stems directly out of a naval vessel. Star Trek is so deeply-rooted in maritime tradition, and I wanted to respect that. Furthermore, to go with the storytelling style, it was important that the ship looked like something we might actually build in the future. The original Enterprise always struck me as a design that looks like it HAS to look that way. Sure, it’s an awesome design, but when you really think about it, it’s so weird and unconventional that it actually lends to its credibility. Starships won’t be designed to look “cool”. Instead, they’ll look like they’re designed with a function in mind, and the Pacific meets that requirement, I think.

The nacelle placement is actually pretty inspired by the Constellation-class starship that we see in TNG. That design always looked to me to make the most practical sense of any ship in Starfleet, and since a practical design was foremost in my mind, I definitely lifted inspiration from that. The secondary hull on the Pacific is pretty much everything BUT the warp core – torpedoes, navigational deflector, shuttle bay, etc. I call it the “mission pod,” because I imagine it can be swapped out for different pods depending on the ship’s mission. The engineering section is actually located in the primary hull, and has a horizontal warp core like Archer’s NX-01.

The Pacific is actually a pretty small ship in terms of volume, and has a crew of only about 120 people. Considering her size, she’s only moderately armed. The Pacific isn’t a battleship, but between four phaser cannons and four photon torpedo tubes, she does still have teeth. The Pacific also has 20 small bays that feasibly hold weapons, such as atomic missiles (which we assume were used during the Romulan War when there wasn’t enough antimatter to go around for torpedoes).

Pacific 201 Close-up with Escape Pod

Me: Alright, well, I’m very excited to see this ship in action. I, personally, think it’s a very beautiful design. Let’s talk about the uniforms. They seem to be a nice evolution from the Star Trek: Enterprise era naval style but include the basic color scheme used in the Original Series. How did you end up with this uniform design?

The uniforms take a very blatant page from British “No. 3” navy uniforms. One particular variant of that uniform includes a pullover sweater as part of the uniform, and we thought “ah, this actually kind of links to TOS,” because in the pilot episodes especially, the uniforms are, for all intents and purposes, pullovers. They even have the ribbed collar that the British No. 3 sweaters have. So we thought that was a fun way to link the real world to the Star Trek world.

Pacific 201 Crew Uniform

Me: As the Kickstarter, which we’ll talk about shortly, notes, you have stainless steel badges on the uniforms. Did you see these as an earlier version of the insignia badges in later Trek or were you trying for something completely different?

The badges on our uniforms are honestly closer to “something completely different” than anything else. There was no specific Starfleet badge in ENT, and in TOS, the badges on the uniform are something more akin to assignment patches. Since the uniforms in Pacific 201 already will include an assignment patch, the badge is actually something kind of new. In the context of the Pacific 201 world, it doubles as a personal data card (something that actually has precedent in TOS). You can read all about that in an article on the Pacific 201 website.

Pacific 201 - Crew Badge

 

Me: I mentioned the Kickstarter, so we should probably dive into that. Your campaign was launched on August 21st with a goal of $20,000. Why did you decide to go with crowd funding and why did you choose Kickstarter over other options like Indiegogo?

Kickstarter was a really natural choice for this movie. I had already used Kickstarter once before for Lily, and I really like that site’s model. I didn’t want to switch platforms between projects since Kickstarter already worked really well in the past, and we had something of a track record there.

Pacific 201 Interceptor

Me: Now, whenever a Kickstarter is talked about, someone always manages to claim that the money asked for is never necessary. Why did you choose to provide such a detailed breakdown right out of the gate? Your campaign specifically breaks things down into three categories and then those get broken down even deeper. Was this something you wanted to do from the get-go?

This is something that Axanar really impressed me with. They released a very, very detailed breakdown of costs that inspired a lot of confidence, and I felt that was something we should emulate with the Pacific 201 Kickstarter. Our breakdown isn’t super-specific, since we haven’t made every last decision as to what models of camera and lenses we’ll need to buy, but we thought that getting as specific as possible was something we really wanted to do.

Pacific 201 Top-down

Me: Let’s talk about the perks. You’ve got a lot of digital perks plus a few physical ones. How did you determine what perks would be available?

Something we wanted to do with the perks was to offer things that were really relevant to the actual project – things we’ll actually see in the movie. So the patches, the badges, and the pins were really obvious choices, since we’ll actually see those on-screen, and it’s always fun to hold something like that in your hands. The technical manual, too, was something that we thought would be really cool, since it will go into a lot of detail about things we’ve thought up for the story and the universe, but won’t have time to show on-screen. It’ll be really cool supplemental material that should enrich the experience overall.

Pacific 201 Ship

Me: One thing I noticed is that the film is only available in digital form. Have you thought about or do you have plans to release a physical DVD or Blu-Ray down the road? If not, why not?

Producing a DVD or a Blu-Ray is a huge amount of work that is actually somewhat disproportionate to the interest for it. Lots of fans are content with just streaming the movie on Youtube, after all. Given the work involved, it seemed like something that we didn’t want to offer as a perk on the Kickstarter – at least as anything but a standalone perk, which can confuse users, and that’s something we didn’t really want to do. However, we’re really not ignoring those who have asked questions about a DVD or a Blu-Ray. Our viewers who also want a DVD or a Blu-Ray can look forward to future plans, where we might end up offering a physical copy of the film as a standalone perk through Paypal donations after the Kickstarter. It depends on the interest.

Me: One perk, that I’m very excited about personally, is the limited $500 level which actually gets the person a speaking role in a scene of the film. That’s very cool. Are you excited about this perk? Was it something you thought would be fun or more necessary?

That particular perk is something that’s not really necessary, but definitely a fun way to involve our fans. We have a lot of roles in our script that are just one, two, or three lines, and since a Kickstarter is all about co-creation, it seemed natural to get fans in on a piece of the action.

Me: Can you give us any details about that role?

We have a few different roles that we have in mind for the $500 level, and the specific roles that donors at that level will get will probably vary on schedule availability, and who fits the costumes we have. We can’t really reveal the specific roles at the moment… but it’s safe to say that somebody might get to play a Romulan!

Pacific 201 Headon

Me: Another interesting perk is the Technical Manual. What kinds of things do you expect to end up in this book? Are you basing off of the previous official Technical Manuals say from The Next Generation?

The technical manual is definitely inspired by the Next Generation technical manual, and it’s going to include a wide variety of details that aren’t just limited to details about the ship. We’re going to include sections on the relevant in-universe history surrounding Pacific 201, as well as details on specific technologies and maybe even some character bios.

Me: The Kickstarter ends on September 20th, at 11:59PM EST. Is there anything else you’d like to say about the campaign before we move on?

Just that sharing and spreading the word is as important as actual contributions. Getting the word out will help this project succeed!

Me: Okay, let’s talk special effects. The ship renderings look great, as do the props shown in your Kickstarter video. How are you handling the special effects? Are you trying for practical effects with models or do you have some visual effects people working on it?

Currently, I’m handling a large portion of the special effects myself, but we are looking to expand the team, since not only is there a very high standard for the visuals in this movie, but there are some effects-heavy scenes in our script that will need talented contributing artists.

Pacific 201 Overhead

Me: Are you looking to have the bridge and other interior sets physically built or will some of that be CGI?

Our interior sets will be physically built. We have a really cool and intuitive plan to build our set in an almost entirely modular way, which will let us build dozens of sets at a greatly reduced cost by mixing and matching elements to create new spaces. I think people will really like our sets, which we’ll start building in force after a successful Kickstarter.

Me: Finally, let’s talk about future plans. If the Kickstarter is funded successfully and you’re able to make the Pacific 201 film, do you have hopes or plans for future films or a web series or are you anticipating this as a one-shot film?

Pacific 201 is a self-contained story, and there are no plans to create sequels or a web series. But who knows? I do have a really cool story in mind for a Romulan War miniseries… but if that ever happened, it’d be far off on the horizon.

Pacific 201 - Crew Member

 

Me: Is there anything else you’d like to add or mention about the project, yourself, your team or anything at all?

Just that we hope you all love what we’re doing as much as we do, and we can’t wait to show you a really excellent final product.

This has really been great. Thanks again for joining us, Eric. We’re very excited to see the final project and boldly go with you and your crew. To find out more about Pacific 201 check them out at the locations below and don’t forget to stop by and contribute to their Kickstarter before September 20th.

So there you have it, Pacific 201 aims to be a story about exploration, about moving beyond the Romulan War while fitting into the overall timeline of the Star Trek franchise. To learn more about the project, please check out the links below:

Pacific 201 Website

Facebook

Kickstarter

What do you think of the latest Star Trek Kickstarter? Are you going to back the campaign? What do you like about what they’ve shown so far? Comment below!

Pacific 201 – A New Star Trek Kickstarter

CBS Says ‘No’ to Star Trek: Renegades

Space might be the finale frontier but Star Trek is still trying to return to the small screen after the 2005 cancellation of Enterprise. Many have pitched show concepts and ideas but only a few have really made anything concrete. One of the biggest is Star Trek: Renegades, a crowd-funded fan film starring many Trek alum including Walter Koenig, Manu Intiraymi, Gary Graham, Robert Picardo, and Tim Russ who also directed the film\pilot. What is Star Trek: Renegades?

According to writer Ethan H. Calk:

It is nearly ten years after Voyager’s return from the Delta Quadrant, and the Federation is in a crisis. The Federation’s main suppliers of dilithium crystals are disappearing. Space and time have folded around several planets, effectively isolating them from any contact with outside worlds. And this phenomenon is not natural – someone or something is causing this to happen. This necessitates drastic measures; some of which are outside the Federation’s normal jurisdiction. For this, Admiral Pavel Chekov, head of Starfleet Intelligence, turns to Commander Tuvok, Voyager’s former security officer and current head of the newly reorganized Section 31. Tuvok must put together a new covert, renegade crew – mostly outcasts and rogues – even criminals. This new crew is tasked with finding out what is causing the folding of time and space, and stopping it – at all costs. But will they be able to put aside their differences and stop trying to kill one another in time to accomplish their mission?

So, the film takes place after the close of Star Trek: Voyager, leaving many of our Delta quadrant friends in the mix. The film disregards the semi-canon Star Trek Online video game and doesn’t really mess with the future prime timeline used in J.J. Abrams’ 2009 film. Instead, Star Trek: Renegades takes a darker, smaller look at Trek with a focus on a small group of outcasts who are the Federation’s only hope. It’s an attempt to bend and maybe even break the rules set by Gene Roddenberry. The Federation of Renegades is surely no utopia.

Star Trek: Renegades Props

How did the Kickstarter fare? Decently well, in fact. It managed to get funded with $242,483 with an initial goal of $200,000. It was definitely no major hit like LeVar Burton’s Reading Rainbow campaign which brought in over five times their original million dollar goal. But, reaching a goal is reaching a goal and the film\pilot for Renegades was funded and has been produced. Backers of the Kickstarter have even received their digital versions of the film over the last week with physical copies of DVDs and Blu-Rays going into production in the next couple of weeks.

Star Trek: Renegades DVD and Blu-Ray

Everything sounds like it’s been going well for the fan-made film. Well, everything is not holodeck credits and shore-leave for Renegades. The primary goal of the campaign was to produce a pilot strong enough to pitch to CBS, the owner of the Star Trek television rights. We now know how that went. CBS has decided to pass on Renegades for reasons we were not told by the production team. Trek rights are complicated due to Paramount and CBS sharing them along with the new JJ-verse and the love for the original Prime timeline. If I were to speculate, I’d say that CBS either can’t make a show in the Prime timeline due to Paramount’s newer movies (don’t forget that Star Trek Beyond is supposedly coming out in 2016 for the 50th anniversary of the franchise), or CBS already has plans to bring Star Trek back to TV in the near future and Renegades didn’t fit with those plans. Either way, we won’t be seeing Renegades on CBS or any official network.

Star Trek: Renegades Icarus

This is not the end though. The Renegades team announced to their Kickstarter Backers that all is not lost. Since CBS has passed on the pilot, they are going to turn the film into the pilot of a fan-made web series, or as they put it “an independently produced fan-supported Internet TV Series!” Their plan is to leverage the pilot\film as the first episode and produce a total of 12 episodes a year using a fairly normal TV series production schedule with episodes being produced in the span of a week or so. Walter Koenig has agreed to stay on through Episode 3 which will be the conclusion to the Episode 2 cliffhanger but after that, he plans to retire his Chekov character. According to the report, the Renegades team is actively writing the second and third episodes and a new crowd-funding effort is to be announced soon.

If you’re not familiar with the production, check out the trailers here.

Are you disappointed that Star Trek: Renegades will not be picked up by CBS? Are you glad it’s staying a fan-made production? Let us know in the comments and look for our review of the pilot in the coming weeks. Oh, and live long and prosper.

CBS Says ‘No’ to Star Trek: Renegades

Box Office Numbers: Aug 14-16, 2015

This weekend’s box office saw some major shifts in the Top 10 with the release of Straight Outta Compton and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. As you can see below, Straight Outta Compton dominated the box office with over $56 million and $20,000 per theater. While the first-week films did well, the previous contenders took major hits including Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, which saw an over 40% drop from last week and Fantastic Four, which saw an incredible 68.9% drop after just one week on the big screen. Meanwhile, Pixels dropped from the Top 10 after four weeks. While, Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck has nearly tripled its $35 million budget, Adam Sandler’s Pixels is still short of their $88 million. Take a look at the rest of the Top 10 below and let us know what you saw over the weekend.

Straight Outta Compton Crew

Box Office Top 10 – August 14-16, 2015

  1. Straight Outta Compton ($56.1 million in opening weekend across 2,757 theaters, averaging $20,348 per theater)
  2. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation ($17 million in third week, totaling $138.137 million)
  3. The Man From U.N.C.L.E. ($13.535 million in opening weekend across 3,638 theaters, averaging $3,720 per theater)
  4. Fantastic Four ($8 million in second weekend, totaling $41.96 million)
  5. The Gift (2015) ($6.5 million in second weekend, totaling $23.577 million)
  6. Ant-Man ($5.517 million in fifth weekend, totaling $157.568 million)
  7. Vacation ($5.33 million in third weekend, totaling $46.852 million)
  8. Minions ($5.2 million in sixth weekend, totaling $312.97 million)
  9. Ricki and the Flash ($4.57 million in second weekend, totaling $14.656 million)
  10. Trainwreck ($3.8 million in fifth weekend, totaling $97.92 million)

Coming Soon to the Box Office

  • Hitman: Agent 47 – 8/21
  • Sinister 2 – 8/21
  • No Escape – 8/26 (Wednesday)
  • We Are Your Friends – 8/28

Box Office Numbers: Aug 14-16, 2015