Saturday, August 23, 2014

August Loot Crate Delivers Happiness!

My girlfriend is so amazing. She puts up with me which can't be hard to do. I mean, I don't put the bag clip on the chips, which by many standards is enough for her to leave me. But, she hasn't. And for four years now, she's given me the best gifts during my birthday and Christmas. And she always blows me away. The thing is, she always loves giving gifts so much, she gives a few gifts way before my birthday. I'm talking a month in advanced, she surprises me with a Mr. T coloring book. Yes, I'm serious, look...

Jealous? Yes you are. Stickers and bookmarks and many other goodies. But that will be for a future entry. I can't give it all away!

So, last night, after a very long and tiring day, my loving lady presented me with an amazing gift that is essentially makes it hard to follow up. In fact, it's a number of gifts in a nice little package. It's a LOOT CRATE!!!

That contents tho.
So, Loot Crate is a great subscription service for us geeks that delivers great geeky goodness every month. What you see above is my first(and nowhere near last) package. Now, my iPhone camera wasn't the best choice to take photos of these goods so the pictures do it no justice. It's really a spectacular set that one must hold in their hands to truly appreciate it. Let's go through the contents shall we?

First off, the box. Since this is my first set, I don't know if this is the same box every single month or if it's a special design. August's theme was "heroes" so obviously they had to find a theme that corresponded with a summer blockbuster involving heroes. So, this month's box was inspired by the sewer that the Ninja Turtles call their home. With a few modifications including a subway sign that resembles the Konami Code and an arcade machine. It's a really nice touch. And after this month, I can use it as a backdrop for my Ninja Turtles collection. Which is great seeing as I don't have to pay out the butt to find a sewer playset. And hey, speaking of the Turtles...

A mini Donatello figure and Donetello-mask shades?!? Yo. Seriously. Stop it. I don't think I need to continue reviewing this. The two photos you see above this paragraph alone should drive you over to their site and order your box for September. Now, Donatello may not be my favorite Ninja Turtle, but I'll be darned if I'm not going to build a collection of these mini figures from KidRobot. This vinyl mini figure is just one in the line of vinyl minifigures featuring the Turtles themselves, Splinter and that human can opener, The Shredder. It's awesomeness and collectability factor is at a ten and the other 5 will be mine in no time.

The sunglasses, thankfully, ARE adult sized. Which means I can wear these to work on a hot day. Seeing as I work outside at a summercamp where goofiness is encouraged, these are a perfect companion to those long days. Nobody will yell at a 6'4 man with Ninja Turtles shades. No one. That Senior Executive job will be mine in time.

Thanks to Guardians of the Galaxy, Groot-Mania is running wild, brother. Sorry, Lord of the Rings, there's a new contender for the world's favorite walking tree. And with this exclusive Pop Funko bobblehead, I can now join in on the fun. Yes, I'm the only person on the planet who has yet to see the movie, but I already know I'll walk out happy. And I'm also the last one to jump on the Pop! figure craze. These things are amazing and I've been wanting to start a collection and thanks to Loot Crate's deal with Funko, I can potentially get an exclusive every month. Yup. Loot Crate has their own exclusive Pop! figures every month. Looks like we picked the right month to get started too. My girlfriend kept remarking how adorable he looked, so I have faith our Funko collection will be growing over time.

A new air freshener featuring Sonic the Hedgehog, a Deadpool magnet and an exclusive pin. Now, it's a well known fact I'm a huge button and pin collector and anytime I can get my hands on one that represents a special happening, I'm all over it. My assumption is they come in every month's delivery, so it's an even bigger incentive. Also, the Sonic air freshener can replace the extinct Halloween air freshener I've had in my car since 2010. It's about time I found a new one.

These "Shwings" are essentially lace on wings you put on the side of your shoes. Now, personally, I won't be wearing them, but I feel like they could give me the confidence that I can run in public a thousand times faster and be taken seriously. Just like the sunglasses, no one is going to be questioning a grown man with wings on his shoes.

Rounding out the package is the Loot Crate mini-zine. An article here discussing the theme of the month, a few photos from social media, and a look at the golden contents in this lovely box. A fun read. Definitely a nice collectible.

For a birthday present, this is amazing. But imagine getting a birthday present every month to this caliber. Mind blowing. And it's relatively inexpensive. You're looking at under 20 bucks a month shipped for goodies valued way over that. I can't suggest this highly enough. So plese head over to their site at Loot and indulge yourself into beautiful geeky goodness.

Now, leave. I have a battle between Donatello and Groot to start. They want those Shwings and only one can truly own them.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

25 Years of Saved By The Bell!

Today marks a huge milestone in tv history. Well, that may be a little too much of an exaggeration but if you're a member of my generation, you'd probably be more inclined to agree. You see, 25 years ago today, Saved By The Bell debuted. Yes. That's right. Feel old. Because I certainly do. Sure, we celebrate 30, 25 and even 10 year anniversaries of movies and tv shows, but I have a hard time believing I've spent 25 years obsessing over Tiffany Amber Thiessen and dreading Screech appearing. But it's true. It's all true. 25 years ago today, NBC rolled the dice and hoped for a hit and they got it. Well, kind of. The first season was crapped on by critics as being too hokey and silly. But the kids loved it and with in a few years, it changed Saturday morning forever. Cartoons, which some would argue NBC was king of Saturday morning cartoons(me included), were gone and in their place were a variety of kid and teen friendly sitcoms featuring similar characters and situations. California Dreams, Hang Time, City Guys. Heck, even USA got into the mix with their own version called "USA High". Now, as someone who sat there and watched the majority of these while waiting for wrestling or something else, I can tell you they were pretty awful. The original Saved By The Bell cast was a hard act to follow, even to this day.

Now, I should be able to sit here and tell you that Saved By The Bell is, at this point in my life, only a nostalgia trip. That's all it should be. Nothing more, nothing less. Just a show that I watched as a kid every Saturday morning from 1989 to 1993. End of story. I shouldn't be telling you that since 1989, it's been one of my favorite shows to sit and watch and just enjoy. A comfort show, if you will. I shouldn't have extensive knowledge of characters, stories and irrelevant information like that.

But I can't. And I won't. Because that's a lie. And lying is naughty.

The fact is, I love Saved By The Bell with all my heart. It's just the way it is. There's just something about this show, that I can watch a quarter of a century later and still get a smile on my face. It's a show that defined entertainment in my generation. For 5 years, everyone my age and up stopped what they were doing on a Saturday morning and for a half hour and indulge in the silly plots and goofy dialogue. Yes, even at that time the situations were a little silly, but it worked. It continues to work even to this day. Even if it's as cheesy as Jessie being addicted to sugar pills, Zach trying to get out of class or the gang driving home drunk after a party. It didn't matter. The charisma and charm of the everyone involved was more than enough for us to stay tuned in. These were more than just characters as kids, they were actually a part of our lives. As the series continued, we were growing just as much as they were as well.
Buddy Bands. Deal With It!

This show has stayed with me well past the age of ten. I'm alright with that too. Despite the College Years, The Malibu Sands and Tori(no one can ever replace my beloved Kelly Kapowski, you hear me?), I accept thus show for all it's goofy flaws. Over the years, I'd catch the constant reruns on TBS at all hours. When I was 13 I was appalled to hear my friend Tim came over and when asked if he wanted to watch SBTB with me, he said "Sorry. My mom doesn't like that show and doesn't want me watching it". What?!?!? What kind of poor child was depraved of Mr. Belding? In 1996 too. It wasn't like last week or something. But it was a strange occurrence. I never really knew anyone who didn't like this show. It seems the show always had something for everyone. Whether it was the eye candy for the girls, the girls that us boys worshiped, the crazy fashion sense that is considered dated and tacky by today's standards, and of course who didn't want to head to The Max for a burger? I even tuned in for the two prime time movies aired on NBC. To this day, I still rock out to the Saved By The Bell soundtrack. Nothing helps get me through a rush hour like "Go For It"! And you can better believe if you say "Zach Morris Phone" to someone, they will get the reference instantly. Even the theme song, which has been my ringtone in previous years, is 100% memorable.

I've written about my SBTB love twice. One in a entry for Shit-Mas over at ShitMovieFest and one that was nothing more than just a gallery of Kelly Kapowski. But if you know me, for 25 years now, my love of SBTB is more than just two entries on a blog or two. It's a part of my life that no other show can really take. Most people stay loyal to their favorite shows from an early age. Well, Saved By The Bell is one of the few shows of my childhood I can continuously watch well into my 30s. Full House, Family Matters and other popular shows I was front and center for every week don't have the same effect. What is it about this show that still makes me smile? I don't know. But I know that 25 years later, there's plenty of others who share the same feeling and share the same love for this show that I do. And judging by the show's staying power through reruns and multiple dvd releases, I doubt this show will ever truly go away. Despite Dustin Diamond's disgusting attempts to disparage the show.

But it's allright...well, you know how the rest goes...


Monday, August 11, 2014

Reviewing Turtle Power!!

When I first got word of a new Ninja Turtles documentary entitled "Turtle Power, " I almost flew through my chair. I mean, thirty years of history of something so near and dear to my heart in one documentary is going to be a very interesting watch  and more importantly a documentary on my childhood. Does that sound weird? I don't think so. I feel no matter how huge my love of G.I.  Joe and Masters of the Universe may be, for some reason Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is the toyline that sends me back to the toy aisle of Kiddy City quicker than any other. It sends me back to the first grade when my best friends and I got up at the end of the day and started singing "We're The Turtles" from “Coming Out Of Our Shells.”  It sends me back to seeing the poster for "Secret Of The Ooze" for the first time in a theater and freaking out big time.

So, no, I guess it doesn't sound weird at all.

Eastman and Laird. Creators of the Ninja Turtles
When  early previews and teasers started popping up online, I had to email the film's director, Randall Lobb,  in hopes to get a few words with him about this rather ambitious project. Randall seemed excited  to put word out of his upcoming DVD . And as a lifelong Ninja Turtles fan, I was happy to help him promote it. After  receiving the screener disc and reviewing it twice in a day, I found it to be a very enjoyable experience. It included  many tales and behind the scenes activity I never heard or witnessed. According  to Mr. Lobb, he had quite the support. "We  reached out to Mirage Studios, " he said.   "And they said we can’t stop ya." It  seemed from the start it wouldn't be an easy task at first. But, thanks to the highest of sources everything turned out ok.  "As we came to know Peter and Kevin they began to provide material for the project, " Randall recalls.

Top: Early meeting with Playmates to produce the first toys.
Bottom: Early sketches for a "Musician Turtles" line.

Behind the scenes footage,  such as early meetings with Playmates Toys to early test and production footage from the Jim Henson's workshop for the first movie,  keep this documentary even more fascinating. Footage that most people never knew existed will definitely please the fans seeking out how the Turtles came into our lives.

"T he scene where everyone at Mirage is celebrating the Playmates agreement. Definitely profound moment" Randall said, when asked about his favorite footage.  And he's right. It's almost like Eastman, Laird and their Mirage loyalists were celebrating taking over the world. Because anybody  who was around back then can tell you they  definitely took over.

Michael Ian Black and Robert Ben Garant, members of the Coming Out Of Our Shells live tour.

More fun facts unknown to certain viewers and even the producers of this film, were discovered in production. As a comedy fan, all Randall could think when discovered Michael Ian Black and Robert Garant played the turtles in a promotional tour was "This is crazy!”

On  a personal note, being a fan of the State, Stella, and any David Wain project, finding out these two were a part of Turtles lore was a huge freak out moment for me as well!

The original TMNT cartoon voice cast reunited!
Another highlight for me, and  quite frankly anyone who grew up loving the cartoon, was the reunion of the voice actors of the 1987 cartoon series, including the late James Avery.  Though Randall  has a different highlight stating, "When Uncle Phil came in and started doing Shakespeare, it was all over. All bets were off." It's not everyday we get to see a reunion of our childhood heroes, especially those from behind the scenes. So for us to get an eye into an entire cast coming back together and goofing off together is  a rather profound thing to see for all who loved the cartoon.

This documentary, available on Tuesday August 13th, is a must own documentary for fans of the series and pop culture in general. Though it's revealed that  Eastman and Laird went their separate ways as friends and collaborators, a happy ending shows they eventually came back together to work on their most famous creation years after their split. This documentary shares a happy message to follow your dream and just take a chance,  because you never know where fate will take you. Because let's  face it, if Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles can capture the imagination of the world, then anything can. All it takes is one dream, a chance and determination!

A very big thank you to Paramount for allowing me to review this great DVD,  as well as Mr. Randall Lobb for giving me a few moments to discuss this project that took years to complete. This movie can't get a higher recommendation out of me. I've seen a lot of documentaries lately but I have never  seen a documentary on something so close to my childhood like this. It really hit close to home for me and made me remember why I loved the Ninja Turtles in the first place. I guarantee you'll have the biggest smile on your face after watching this.

Order the documentary here and sit back with a big slice of pizza and enjoy the history of those wacky Turtles!

For more info on Turtle Power, head to their official site at Turtle Power.