Monthly Archives: May 2015

This Happened This Week Friday

I don’t get flustered or even intimidated by celebrities.  I don’t read magazines to see how celebrities are just like us or stare at pictures that showcase two celebrities wearing the same outfit to judge who wears it better.  I really just don’t care.  Even when I go to Comic-Cons I hardly ever enter the celeb area where people who act on some of out favorite shows charge for their autographs.  Hell, I don’t usually even bother getting comics signed by creators because it feels like your’re defacing a piece of history by writing on the cover of a comic book.  That being said, the following story had your humble narrator completely star stricken with my hands shaking out of control.  Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

My great friend Corry, who own a beautiful comic shop in Wayne, NJ called Zapp Comics, implored me for a few years to come to and spend Free Comic Book Day at his shop.  I was finally able to clear my schedule enough to join him this year – and the crowds didn’t disappoint!  It was an amazing spectacle to see a constant flow of customers pour into the shop to enjoy the festivities and deeply discounted prices of valuable comics.  In the 12 hours that the store stayed open the business didn’t let up until hour 11 when the store cleared enough to let people walk around without the hindrance of knocking into the person next to you.  Want to see what I’m talking about?  Take a look at the video linked to this picture of my friend showing off his goods:

At the end of the day I had put aside a few toys and comics to purchase but when I brought them up to the register my friend slid them back and said that they were all mine as a thank you for putting in all the hours.  I was beyond grateful, mainly because in the pile were the Simpson’s R.E.M. figures I had been searching for everywhere!  Saying goodbye was hard that day because I really had a grand time working at the shop that day.

The next morning, with my wife and children all buckled in for the long ride, we headed back up north to our wonderful little state.  The children fell asleep instantly and only awoke 2 hours into the trip, halfway through Connecticut.  O told me to stop at the next rest stop for lunch and to give everyone a break from sitting in the car.  As we finished our lunch that day an amazing occurrence happened that I haven’t truly wrapped my head around to this day.

I am going to side track here for a moment to tell you how much I love R.E.M.  I was devastated when the band decided to call it quits as I looked forward to every release from the influential band that once topped the charts and at one time was the biggest band in the world.  When I learned that the Simpson’s were commemorating their season 13 appearance I knew I had to track those figure down!  Thanks to Zapp, they made it real easy.

Back to the Connecticut rest stop.  As I was cleaning the table of all our trash I heard a voice that I thought I recognized.  I turned and only saw the back of the head of a man I thought looked like Mike Mills from R.E.M.  He was wearing a Georgia T-Shirt which furthered my suspicions – but what were the chances that a member of the band I worshiped walked into the same rest stop at the exact same time my family and I were enjoying lunch?  To boot, I also had  his action figure sitting in my car from my friend who had gifted them to me the day before!  How is this possible?  My  mind was spinning!

The man I suspected was Mike Mills went into the bathroom but I have the class and manners not to intrude on such a moment.  I waited for him to exit and that’s when I saw his face.  I was 100% sure that this was the bassist and back up vocalist of the greatest band in the world!  Again, my mind went into a free fall – not so much that I was going to meet a member of my favorite band – but that he happened to be there in the first place!  As I walked over I tried to get my faculties to no avail because when I approached him I was running through the band’s history and for some unknown reason I spouted out the wrong name.  I asked him “Excuse me, I know this is probably an odd question but are you Bill Berry from R.E.M.?”

The generosity of this man immediately showed as he shook his head no with a smirk but then leaned in closer and said “Mike Mills”.  I was both embarrassed and elated!  As I gushed for a moment he enjoyed making my son, who was cradled in my arms, laugh.  I introduced myself and my son and then asked if he would sign the figure.  He said “Sure” with a shrug and I ran out to grab the trio of figures.  Being able to read a moment I waited for him to grab his lunch and walk over to me.  He signed my figure and even personalized it to me:


Then I pushed my luck and asked him for a picture before he departed.  He agreed once again and I snatched up my daughter and we were able to commemorate the event with this photo:



One of the best weekend of my whole life and I have my friend Corry and my beautiful wife to thank to have all the stars align in order to meet one of my musical idols.  Once in a lifetime sort of weekend!  So, what did you guys do?

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Toy vs Toy Friday!

I have lots of interests – one of the more fun and keeps me young at heart is the toy obsession I share with a few other friends.  I remember when the toy hobby really started taking hold of collectors back in the mid-late 90’s.  Star Wars figures were once again crowding the shelves with rabid fans raving about .00 and .01 backer card numbers.  Of course, it all seems so trivial now – but then it meant paying a $5-$10 difference.  You can see the lasting effect that the 90’s boom had on the toys today (leading the charge was McFarlane Toys) that are sculpted to perfection by amazing artists and, often times, priced at a premium keeping parents on a budget with no choice but to leave them on the pegs.

McFarlane's Odin

McFarlane’s Odin

Today’s toys are surely superior to the toys of yesteryear, no?  Well, let’s take a look, shall we?  Let’s compare the latest offering of Zeus from Marvel and Hasbro and the 1999 Zeus from McFarlane’s Curse of Spawn line.  Of course, the Zeus is recent Build-A-Figure that accompanies the Marvel Legends line.  Taking that into account we will bring that up a little later when comparing prices.  First let’s focus on the obvious: the sculpt, paint application and articulation.

hulk and easter 014

Like I mentioned, McFarlane led the pack for where toys are today.  Before McFarlane many toy companies created either “3’3/4 or 5” figures with 5 points of articulation and hardly any difference in the sculpt.  For example, the Masters of the Universe line boasted all different head sculpts but the bodies were used for every figure with an added unique feature, like a rancid smelling Stinkor or a realistic Moss Man.  When Todd Toys (McFarlane’s debut moniker) was released onto the toy collecting public people were in awe of the detail, the fun action and the amazing likeness from the page to plastic.  Each series flaunted more detail and continued quality.  One of the peaks, in my opinion was series 13 from where this figure originated.

Marvel's Odin

Marvel’s Odin


When premiered, Zeus was the standout figure among such monstrous creations with titles like Hatchet and Raenius.  But, Zeus showed off a restraint that the other original pieces did not.  The Greek God has amazing detail not just on his beast knee pads (dude must be a sick boarder) but also on his skin and hair.  I’ll admit without his bad ass crown of horns his hat head makes him look less intimidating – but he makes up for it with his chain wallet of human skulls.

hulk and easter 008

Marvel, on the other hand, gives us a sculpt and paint job that is both cheap and unimpressive.  It’s like we’re taking a huge step backwards.  Not to mention

hulk and easter 012

Now, we could reason that you get more bang for your buck but truth be told, McFarlane’s original price on Odin was a very reasonable $9.99 – in 1999 that was more on the expensive side – but compared to today’s $20 action figures it seems like a dream!  Especially since it’s still available on eBAY close to original retail.  On the other side, Marvel’s Odin is only available by collecting each piece provided in separate figures in the Marvel Legends Thor line.  So, by paying $20-$22 for all 5 figures (6 if you want the optional head) then you get this inferior figure.  Easily costing you a whopping $100-$120 (although, for the savvy shoppers you can find one online for $35-$40).  Obviously Hasbro has been trying to figure out how to keep the Marvel lines profitable – but all at the expense of the collectors.

Winner: McFarlane’s Odin! 

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