Friday, May 31, 2013

Needless Things Episode 4: Toy Panel Live from TimeGate 2013

Hey Phantomaniacs - I've got a surprise podcast for you! 

Con Recap: TimeGate 2013 Part 4

I woke up right on time Sunday morning. I had plenty of time to shower, take the bags I didn’t need down to the car, and have a morning snack. I ate the junk out of the TimeGate gift bags because I didn’t know where the con suite was and I didn’t feel like paying whatever the Holiday Inn Chambodia charges for runny eggs and toast. So after a meal of BBQ Lays, peanut butter and Cheez™ crackers, and Cool Ranch Doritos I realized I was going to have the worst breath ever. I had foolishly brushed my teeth before eating and had packed up my toothbrush. Thankfully I had some industrial-strength Crest mouthwash in my backpack, so I drowned my mouth in that and swished for about five minutes. After that I basically couldn’t feel my mouth, so I figured it must be sterilized.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Con Recap: TimeGate 2013 Part 3

The ESO Dinner!
This year’s ESO Dinner took place at Uncle Julio’s. I was not familiar with Uncle Julio’s , but the best case scenario was that it would be a new and exciting dining experience. The worst case scenario was that it would be miserable and terrible and I would spend the rest of the night in the bathroom in my room disposing of Uncle Julio’s cuisine out of both ends and would have another excellent post about a nightmarish dining experience.
Unfortunately this one landed somewhere in the middle.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Con Recap: TimeGate 2013 Part 2

I actually managed to wake up bright and early on Saturday morning, despite the fact that I had stayed up quite late the night before watching “The Sea Devils” and finishing up my packing. I really hadn’t decided what I was going to wear and when until just before we left on Friday.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Con Recap: TimeGate 2013 Part 1

When last week started I couldn’t have been more excited about TimeGate. You could probably tell from the preview I wrote. But then a bunch of stuff happened and my enthusiasm kind of drained away.
I was going to be on an extremely limited budget because we are going to HeroesCon in two weeks and that actually requires travel money. I found out that I would be getting my trainee back this Friday. If you’ve been following the harrowing tale of me having to deal with this “doucheknuckle” as one of my co-workers referred to him, then you know how excited I am about this (not at all). I found out that Mrs. Troublemaker would not be staying at the con Saturday night, as some of her family had chosen this weekend to visit. And finally, I was awakened on Friday morning to the news that our air conditioner was not functioning.
Quite frankly, at that point I wanted to crawl back under the covers and skip TimeGate altogether.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Thank You, Come Again

No post today. I don't usually bother mentioning when there's no post, but there was supposed to be a post.
I had a really amazing time at TimeGate over the weekend, but I had a busy schedule - compared to my usual con schedule - and I'm tired. Also, I am fucking sick of the hassles and irritations technology brings. Our air conditioning went out on Friday, my main PC is still down with little hope of repair, and I can't get this one to back up for some reason. Also, my phone is acting crazy.
So it's 2:30 in the morning right now and I've decided that rather than  deal with another techno problem that would likely lead to me smashing things - like a typical Blogger problem or some video editing issue - I am going to skip today, watch Arrested Development on Netflix, and start my TimeGate recap tomorrow.
On top of all that, I get the trainee back on Friday because nobody else wants him. I am in full-on "Fire That Fucker" mode now.
See you tomorrow,

Thursday, May 23, 2013

TimeGate 2013 Preview

Hey, Phantomaniacs! It’s time to give a little love to my personal favorite sci-fi convention – TimeGate! I had never been to a TimeGate before last year and I had no idea what to expect. I ended up having an absolutely awesome time, made some new friends, and once again learned that Dragon*Con is not the be-all, end-all. I also got to be on my first-ever panel, which is one of the best times I’ve ever had and led to my inclusion on a couple of Dragon*Con panels later in the year. There’s definitely a lot to be said for smaller, more intimate cons. Go ahead and check out my recap of TimeGate 2012 while you’re here.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Phantom Who: The Name of the Doctor or The Name of Clara, Which is Mary Sue

Before I start this review of the final episode of Doctor Who until the 50th Anniversary Special on November 23, I need to notify you of the conditions that surrounded my viewing of the episode. I don’t think they affected my opinion of “The Name of the Doctor”, but they might have. I am writing this after only one viewing on the morning after I watched.
I was cautiously optimistic about “The Name of the Doctor”. Series 7 has had high highs and low lows – some of my least favorite stories since Colin Baker’s run, as a matter of fact. And the wildest thing is how widely varied opinions seem to be on individual stories. But it occurs to me that I can get a whole other post out of that subject (and that it’s going to be the subject on Earth Station Who in two weeks) so I’m just going to say that my faith that Moffat had a brilliant plan for Clara and the Doctor wavered but was never entirely lost.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Guest Toy Review by Mr. Beau Brown: Masters of the Universe Classics Spirit of Hordak by Mattel

This is the first Guest Toy Review here on Needless Things, which is somewhat of a surprise. I’ve had articles about vampires, wrestling, and even camping. You’d think toys would have come up sooner.
I’m thrilled that this one is from Mr. Beau Brown, co-host of the Needless Things Podcast (eventually) and Master of Puppets. Beau has a much stronger passion for Masters of the Universe than me, which makes the subject of today’s review particularly appropriate – the massively irritating Spirit of Hordak. You can read how I feel about this damn thing right here.
As stated there, Beau was one of the folks lucky enough to get one. And now he’s nice enough to be reviewing it for us, since it looks like there’s no way in heck I’m ever going to get one.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Movie Review – Star Trek: Into Darkness

No, for real – massive, awful, huge spoilers. Do not read this if you don’t want the movie spoiled. And you do not want the movie spoiled.
I absolutely love JJ Abrams’ first Star Trek. I thought it was a cleverly done reboot of a franchise that I grew up loving and feeling part of. If you want to see a little more of how I felt about it, I posted my review from the old MySpace blog earlier today.

Vintage Troublemaker: Star Trek

This is my review of JJ Abrams’ first Trek movie. It was part of my birthday post back in 2009. That one went up on the MySpace blog and has never been reposted here, so I thought I would put it up today as a sort of companion to my review of the new movie. I did something similar with GI Joe: Retaliation, only it came off as kind of awkward because I stuck that in the middle of the review. So this time you get two separate posts.
Come back later today for my review of Into Darkness.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Phantom Who: Nightmare In Silver, Indeed

Hrmph. I’m not sure where I am right now and I don’t know if I can separate my love of Doctor Who from my critical mind. I do know for certain that the reservations I have about the current direction of the show are genuine and not the byproduct of a jealous nerd’s possessiveness of a previously niche franchise that continues to grow in momentum and popularity. A small part of those reservations might, however, arise from concern that the creators’ attempts to appeal to the masses might alienate long time fans such as myself. That is certainly something that has happened time and again with other franchises.
And then there’s stuff that I just plain don’t like, which is an entirely different issue.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Toy Review – Masters of the Universe Classics Fang Man By Mattel

So they moved my trainee to another person because he is, quite frankly, a problem. I had a talk with the guy handling him now and he's having the same issues I did. I might end up with him again, but I hope not.

Anyway, to celebrate not being saddled with that jackass I sat down and wrote a couple of toy reviews. This is the first. The next one will go up on Monday.
 I totally forgot about this guy.

I opened him, took pictures, stuck him on the shelf. And then never gave him a second thought. I wasn’t all that excited about the figure in the first place. He didn’t look bad or anything; I just didn’t particularly care about him. But at least he wasn’t some tertiary female I’d never even heard of.

I watched the episode he appears in (is there more than one?) on Netflix after Fang Man was announced. It was fine and he was just some moron thug. Just like all of Skeletor’s minions. The characterization was just like the figure – nothing special, but nothing bad, either. I just can’t quite figure out why this guy got picked. I guess maybe it’s his big, stupid head. Because let’s face it – Fang Man has a big, stupid head.
First Glance: Fang Man does look quite unique and interesting in person. Similar to Beast Man, you can hunch the standard MOTUC buck over ad get a surprisingly different body profile. Add the new neck on top of that and this guy is pretty different.
Articulation: Fangy has the standard male MOTUC articulation. Plus a tongue.

Head – ball joint
Tongue - pivot
Shoulders – ball joint
Biceps – swivel
Elbows –pivot
Wrists – swivel
Waist - swivel
Hips – ball joint
Thighs – swivel
Knees – pivot
Boot tops - swivel
Ankles – pivot

The combination of the new neck and the head work to give Fangy an interesting range of motion. It isn’t quite snake-like, but there is a good degree of posability in all directions.
His shirt – which is another one of those damn belly shirts, but I’ll get to that – is a little thick on the sides, which gives him the usual weird neutral pose where he can’t hang his arms properly.

Fang Man’s tongue can pivot almost a full 180° across his open mouth.

The rest of the joints are tight and functional.
Sculpt: As far as the base sculpt goes, Fang Man’s only new parts are above the shoulders. He has a new neck piece and a new head that combine to give this figure a different profile from the majority of the Masters of the Universe Classics line; similar to what was done with Draego-Man.
The neck curves forward and the head is attached to the front. I like how the studded collar is the base of the neck and covers the opening of Fangy’s shirt. The fins that start toward the front of the head and go to the back of the neck add a lot to the look of the character. If not for those he might be totally schlubby. But they lend a bit of toughness to this otherwise goofy-looking guy. The Horsemen did manage to put a bit of menace into Fangy’s face. He looks dangerous in a slobbering, oafish sort of way. The actual sculpt is quite good and has captured the look of the Filmation character and the tongue mechanism works quite well.

Side Note: I’m a little torn on some of these Filmation likenesses. Yeah, Granamyr (who I passed on and don’t regret it) looks a bit cartoony. And Fang Man is definitely a good bit on the silly side. But Fisto has a gigantic fist and Stinkor is a giant man-skunk named “Stinkor”. So silly is kind of a stupid argument.

The rest of Fang Man’s base parts are things we’ve seen before and they all work for the character. He has a human body with the standard studded bracers on his wrists. His hands are clawed and large and seem new to me. If they have been used before, they’re from a character I don’t own.

For some reason they gave Fang Man a scaly torso. It's a part we wouldn't even see if the figure worked correctly, so I really don't understand.

The legs are also regular human parts. I like the combination of Skeletor’s calves with plain, booted feet. It’s different and looks good.
Coloring: I like the blue hues used on Fang Man’s skin and fins, but the yellow eyes are what really stick out. Even from across the room those piercing, bulbous orbs are Fangy’s most prominent features. His teeth are nicely done and the whitish color helps them stand out and give this guy a more menacing look. Of course, that’s all totally countered by his big, red Bill the Cat tongue.

Fang Man’s skin has a bit of a dark wash in places to give some depth. His collar and bracers are accentuated with metallic orange. Those parts make a very nice contrast to the light blue skin.

His boots have metallic red on the tops and a slightly different hue of flat red for the feet. I dunno. I get that the look is supposed to be greaves over boots, but it looks odd. I appreciate the effort, but I'm thinking maybe they should have just made them all metallic.
Flair: Fang Man has a new tunic and belted trunks that create the appearance of being a single piece. Well, except for the separation that allows his blue midriff to show through. But the only alternative to that would have been an entirely new abdomen and that’s not what this line is all about.

The sculpt on the clothing pieces is excellent. The shape of the upper piece pretty much completes the hunched-over look created by the neck and the right posing of the body. The design on the front is nicely reptilian and the colors look very good with the rest of the figure. 

His outfit thing -which, let's face it is a onesie - is actually amazingly detailed. All of the sculpted detail is great, from the design itself to the folds and wrinkles. The yellow portion down the front has gold trim and the designs on the shoulders are metallic red.

The belt is new and different, with a buckle and a couple of little stud pieces. There is simply nothing to be done about the gap between the top and bottom. No matter how you pose this guy some skin shows through. It's very frustrating because this is really the figure's only flaw.
Accessories: Fang Man comes with a force field rod, a sword, and the Wheel of Time (unrelated to the writings of Robert Jordan).

The force field rod is just weird. I mean, it’s great that we got it and all. And it looks like it should. But it’s a very odd-looking thing. The sword is awesome and has a sort of reptile face on the hilt. I like the size and shape of it quite a bit, and there is painted detail. A goon shouldn’t have a special sword. And the Wheel of Time is fine.
I’ve got to say, three accessories seems like an overabundance for a guy I couldn’t picture in my head the first time I heard him announced as a figure. But I’ll take ‘em.
Packaging: It’s the regular MOTUC blister card. Still neat and still effective. Here’s the bio:
That last bit makes Fang Man seem almost as redundant as Mekaneck. I mean, Beast Man can control any species. Including fire-breathers.
Value: Because of the accessories and the scope of the newly-sculpted pieces Fang Man feels like a slightly better value than some MOTUC figures. Still nowhere near being worth what he cost; but a bit more reasonable.
Overall: I think the Horsemen did a great job on Fang Man. If their intent was to show how great a figure based on a Filmation character could be in preparation for the Filmation sub; well they nailed it. I can’t help but think that the quality of Fang Man (combined with the fact that he “sold out” before Early Access – an occurrence I am very suspicious of) must have been responsible for a good number of the Filmation subs sold.
Having said all of that, I’m not sure that I actually like Fang Man enough to keep him. He is pretty darn goofy and is hardly essential. I am currently gathering up figures from various lines for an eBay purge and Fang Man may well be among them. But make no mistake – this is an excellent figure. Fang Man would get a perfect score if it weren't for his clothing issue.

4 out of 5

I think you’re going to have a tough time getting this guy for a reasonable price.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Spirit of Hordak

This is another one of those things that started out as an intro and mutated into something big enough to be its own post. So here’s this big rant about how does business. Part four or five of Lord knows how many rants about Matty:

Before I get to Fang Man, let me address this Spirit of Hordak business.
Excuse me – I meant “bullshit”, not “business”.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Toy Review: DC Unlimited New 52 Wonder Woman By Mattel

When DC Comics first released the overly-complicated, super-riveted, and just generally 90’s-looking new designs for the Justice League of their New 52 universe I wasn’t thrilled. They all seemed lame and gimmicky – like an attempt to create a uniform design for characters that should not have uniform designs. Rather than possessing any individuality or varying functionality, they all looked like they had been designed by the same guy. A guy who might be great at graphic design, but maybe not so good at storytelling.
Sorry. My intent here is not to bag on DC. They just make it so easy.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Toy Review: Friday the 13th Part 3 Jason Voorhees By NECA

NECA has been utterly charming me with their excellent releases over the past year or so. When I saw this Jason Voorhees in Toys R Us I realized I only have one Jason in this scale and it’s the McFarlane one. Well, I also have the one from the remake, but that doesn’t count.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Guest Post: The Mass Marketing of Nerdism and Why I Want to Burn Down Hot Topic by Beth Van D

Hey there, Phantomaniacs!
Today is my birthday. I am thirty-seven years old. It really doesn’t mean all that much except that it’s time for me to start losing a little flab for convention season. I don’t feel older. I do feel a bit wiser.
I have already received several excellent birthday presents – the first is the article you are about to read from Beth Van D. The second is that the horrible annoyance that is my trainee at work is being assigned to another trainer. My managers spoke with me about his progress and I was frank about the fact that the trainee simply does not listen to me and seems to be having difficulty retaining things. I attributed the failure to the both of us and perhaps a lack of communication. But the managers knew full well that this guy was a potential problem. Apparently he had a tough time in the classroom training, as well.
The third gift is that famed local band, Super X-13:
Is playing tonight at Club Famous Pub. I am purely by chance getting a birthday celebration almost custom-made for me. I honestly couldn’t be much happier right now.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

CHIKARA: The Ghost of You Clings… 5/4/2013

It’s gonna take me a minute to get to the actual recapping.

Actually, even the actual recapping might not be all that recappy. It’s funny – we were talking about the show on the way home and when we got to this one part Lil’ Troublemaker said not to tell Mommy about it. I asked him why and he said that the ring announcer had asked the people not to talk about it. I hadn’t even caught that. But it’s good that the boy is respecting kayfabe at this early age. I don’t know how much of anything we’re really supposed to talk about and we had so much fun at the CHIKARA show that I’d hate to give anything away that they wanted kept secret. So no match results here.

Before I get to Saturday’s CHIKARA show I want to briefly discuss Friday’s Monstrosity Championship Wrestling show.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Movie Review: Iron Man 3

I think I always open movie reviews with, “I’m not sure how this is going to go,” but it’s because my movie watching experiences tend to vary wildly. This time around I saw the flick with the family. I have never before watched a movie for the first time with my wife and my son – not a grown-up movie that I actually cared about, anyway.
I forgot the lesson I learned with Avengers, which was that a five-year-old does not have the same standards of movie pacing that I do. While I thought that Avengers moved along at breakneck speeds the first time I saw it, I learned that there is actually an enormous amount of people talking and not doing superhero things while wearing superhero costumes. I know this because it was pointed out to me by a five-year-old. Every couple of minutes.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Phantom Troublemaker on Star Wars: Episode I

(Painting by
I can’t remember ever writing anything about Star Wars.
I mean, obviously I’ve done toy reviews. And I’ve mentioned the books and movies and stuff in passing, or in reference to other things. I think you guys all have a pretty good idea about how much I love Star Wars. But I’ve never done of those posts where I just ramble on about my personal history with it; they way I’ve done with GI Joe, Faith No More, Doctor Who (several times), and even Iron Man (who I had no personal history with but still managed to crank out my 1,000 word minimum).
I hope you enjoy those posts, because in honor of the anniversary of the release of A New Hope thirty-six years ago, here’s a Star Wars thing. I went into this thinking that it had come out on May 4th and that was the deal with "May the Fourth", but it came out on the 25th. "May the Fourth" just sounds funny. So this occasion just got slightly more stupid and less meaningful. But it's about Star Wars, so hooray!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Toy Review Star Wars Vintage Collection Luke Skywalker (Hoth Outfit) By Hasbro

I haven’t reviewed a Star Wars figure in quite some time. There are a bunch of reasons for this.
First, there just aren’t that many new and different characters coming out.
Second, I already have a lot of them. Most of what I might want (that it seems likely that Hasbro will make, anyway). I suppose I could probably sit down and still make a list of a hundred or so characters that I would like to own, but I think I’ve got everybody that I could just name off the top of my head.
Third, they cost a lot more than they used to.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Comic Book Update: 5-1-2013

I guess three months is about the average time between posts for this particular article. I don’t even plan it that way. It just tends to happen that when my brain goes, “Hey! You need to do a comic book thingy,” that’s the amount of time that has passed.