Monday, 17 October 2016

The New Stormtrooper Helmet Star Wars fans Are Crazy For

Star Wars Black Series Full Size Stormtrooper Helmet

If you’re a regular reader of my blog you may recall I took the plunge on purchasing a life size replica of a Stormtrooper helmet last year. Overall I was pretty happy with it, close inspection of it highlights the fact it’s a home based kit made to order, the biggest giveaway of that being I have to turn the helmet sideways to get it over my head because the mould was probably squashed somehow and the painted on elements are okay..ish - but it’s functional in that it sits on my desk as an ornament and that is the only reason I bought it.

I have an absolute obsession with the original Stormtroopers – I even have a Pinterest page dedicated to them here

Last year HASBO released the Kylo Ren cosplay replica helmet as part of its Black Series, an impressive mould and likeness from the movie, it gave cosplayers the leg up they needed when looking to recreate the Force Awakens ultimate villain.

Now on the horizon (launching just in time for Halloween 2016) Hasbro have followed up the impressive Kylo Ren mask with the Imperial Stormtrooper full 1:1 scale helmet.
Now  the armour purists out there who know the sculpt differences in the helmets between ANH, ESB and ROTJ helmets (add to that now Rogue One sculpts) and the arguments for and against Andrew Ainsworth moulds it will be interesting to see how these are received – early indications from looking at the Replica Prop Forum comments suggest that this one for the price and accuracy is a winner. For many collectors the EFX version is the holy grail for costumers and collectors.

One of the standout differences with the Black Series version to all that have gone before it and are approved by the current 501st costuming ‘rules’ is the indents along the sides, in the original trilogy of films these hash / chevron lines are always represented by decals (see, we’re in real nerd country now) , however in Rogue One these are clearly indented...and straight not curved (see photo from Rogue One costume display below) and painted like the Black Series version which does suggest that this is a Rogue One Stormtrooper lid.

 Above: Rogue One Stormtrooper costume, note indents along side of helmet

The other difference is that the right hand eye socket doesn’t have the bump on the lower eye lid, the small movie imperfection that was in the original mould when the Stormtrooper helmets were created, collectors and 501st troopers swear by the eye bump ( see below) as an indication of movie authenticity. See I told you it was the small things. Anyway, this is completely absent on the new Hasbro Black series lid but 90% of the collectors who are going to grab this probably don’t really care.

Throw into that a half decent voice changer this is perhaps as close as anyone is going to get to an affordable and movie accurate Stormtrooper lid.

Above: ABS plastic, sharp detail and and a movie accurate sculpt, what's not to like!?

Amazon is listing the helmets now with a launch date of 28th Oct.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Who The F**K is Casey Neistat?

If you don't know who Casey Neistat is then chances are your internet has been down for way longer than it should have been.
Casey Neistat is a New York based Vlogger and film maker currently burning a legacy on the internet and YouTube at an incredible rate. In August 2015 he had just over 1 million subscribers on his Youtube channel, that figure is now racing past 5.2 million subscribers as we hit the halfway mark to October 2016 and over 683+ daily vlogs in the bag.

Neistat is currently the fastest growing Youtuber in terms of popularity and subscriber growth, it's fair to say he had a somewhat lucky break with being able to sell his Neistat Brothers tv show to HBO for a cool $2 Million a few years back but in general its clear to see that Neistat's popularity stems from his genuine personality and all round super friendly and fearless appeal.
Neistat, like many of the top YouTubers believes in delivering high quality content, it is after all what drives viewer interest on most youtube channels, unique highly engaging content that draws the audience in. His unique formatted style complete with a range of drone and hand held footage all of which is shown in super high definition quality and accompanied by music from the genre typically known as 'Headbob' mixes beautifully with his spontaneous and down to earth persona on camera.

Above all though, Neistat is super connected with the city of New York, his trademark Boosted board and bastardized Rayban Wayfarers (see this episode about the sunglasses) define who he is and how the people of New York recognize who he is as he darts through busy city traffic at what looks like crazy breakneck speeds. Neistat is also super connected to all walks of celebrity and media folk including other Youtubers like Roman Atwood, film directors like Ariel Schulman (Catfish and Paranormal Activity 3,4) , singers such as Justin Beiber and sports personalities like USA World Cup player Jimmy Conrad, the list goes on...

So, who the f**k is Casey Neistat?..

Neistat is the guy who snowboarded through New York city towed behind a jeep during one of the worst ever snowstorms to smash into New York , thus gaining massive global exposure through various news networks and racking up over 15 million views.

Neistat is the guy who 's breakthrough YouTube film 'Bike Lanes'  saw major news channels and New York blogs propel him to local stardom when he got ticketed by the NYPD for not riding his bike in the designated bike lanes (sounds mundane but Neistat crashing into a parked NYPD squad car deliberately to prove his point is pure genius).

Neistat is the guy who blew Nike's entire ad budget on international travel over the course of 10 days  but in doing so created the single best YouTube branding story out of three he created for the brand, titled 'Make it Count'  it remains his most watched YouTube piece with over 21 million views.

Neistat is the guy who hung on the bottom of a rope ladder suspended beneath a helicopter over the famous Hollywood sign to create a shot for Samsung's 360 camera.

Neistat is the guy who brands love, emerging powered skateboard brand, Boosted gets massive exposure from Neistat who uses their boards as a means of travel when he's in New York ( the guy dodges truck wing mirrors like a goddamn ninja). DJI, makers of the Phantom 4 and Mavic high resolution drones also get amazing exposure.Samsung and Canon get some of the most coverage through paid and unpaid endorsements of their brand and gear. Even corner shop and party supplier Balloon Saloon also does pretty good out of the visits by Neistat, $1 Pizza also gets a lot of promotion.

Neistat is the guy who, along with tattoo artist Scott Campbell went to Afghanistan and was embedded with American Special Forces Para Rescue jumpers to tattoo them, also check this particular episode for a blistering account of how getting tattooed after hours of insane close combat with Taliban forces proved to be a cathartic experience for one PJ by the name of Roger Sparks.

Neistat is the guy who goes through more tech than NASA on a bad day, his drone graveyard in his New York studio makes grown men weep, don't get me started on the number of smashed cameras and expensive lenses, to Neistat these cool gadgets are merely tools of his trade as a film maker.

Neistat is the guy who is creator and owner of venture capitally funded social app, Beme. Available on iOS and Android, Beme is a video sharing app designed to help people communicate and promote themselves and share their daily experiences.

Neistat is the guy who's video on the $21,000 Airline seat went viral, gaining him further exposure around the globe on various culture, news and lifestyle channels who loved the informative and detailed insight into luxury air travel with Emirates Airlines.

Neistat is the guy who decided to vlog daily on March 25th 2015, his 34th Birthday, he uploads a vlog segment everyday except for when he's too busy traveling, each Vlog lasts around 8-11 minutes and is a cumulative overview of his day.

Neistat is the living proof that living a decent and honest life with a positive outlook is one of the facets to success and happiness. Truth be told, if you're going to get advice from anyone, get it from someone who's living the dream and wringing every second out of every day and being successful with it.

Neistat is the guy who has a Supermodel for a friend - Karlie Kloss  who also started up her own channel with the help of Neistat's guidance.

Neistat is the guy who sometimes has a segment on his vlog called 'mailtime' whereby he opens ( totally destroys) his fanmail packages to camera, he gets sent everything from branded clothing and candy to tripods,gadgets and live lobsters (yes, live lobsters).

Neistat is the guy who helped his friendly UPS delivery driver Marlan start a Go Fund me page as a way for Marlan to help his critically ill sister receive medical treatment for her Kidney dialysis, something Marlan was struggling to pay for out of his own UPS salary. The fund target was smashed in less than 3 days.

Neistat is the guy who won GQ's 'New Media Star' Man of the Year and the Streamy's (First Person category) award  in the same year.

So there you have it, that's who the f**k Casey Neistat is and he's totally killing it.
Check out his YouTube channel

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Students are Hunting Killer Clowns

Ever since John Wayne Gacy and Tim Robbins gave clowns a bad name, oh and that one in the kids bedroom in the original poltergeist movie -  we've been plagued ever since by the darker aspects of clowns.
So much so it would appear that its become quite an epidemic, especially since the Twitter page for Clown Sightings has exploded in follower growth in the space of a week to well over 240,000.
They're arresting clowns in Kentucky ( a man dressed as a clown hid in a ditch), then Police in Virginia arrested two clown outfit wearing teenagers for chasing kids. Then in Winston-Salem a guy gets cuffed for reporting a clown trying to lure children into the woods..but later admitted he made it all up.
In Phoenix two other teens were arrested for robbing a Dominos Pizza and Taco Bell dressed as clowns. (not quite Batman bank style).
In Pennsylvania a 16 year old student was stabbed to death by an attacker wearing a clown mask. 
Authorities in Arkansas are enforcing a zero tolerance to anyone dressed as a clown...a move which could prove to be a career killer to children's entertainers in Arkansas.

Kentucky: Clown arrested, wasn't laughing at the time according to Police.

Pesco County Schools posted the following 'Clown Alert' on their Facebook page...
As you may be aware, there is a "Creepy Clown" phenomenon that is sweeping the country. This morning a tweet from the "Ain't Clowning Around" twitter site posted a threat about high schools. We have no reason to believe it is credible or that any of our schools are in danger. However, we are not summarily dismissing it and the sheriff’s office is investigating. To be on the safe side, all Pasco County Schools have been placed on "Alert Campus", which essentially amounts to “See something, say something.” Teachers will continue to teach and all other activities will go on as planned. Thank you for understanding that we are simply erring on the side of caution.

Orange areas above indicate reports of clown sightings ( Do clowns wear warm coats in Alaska?)

Nobody appears to have killed a clown yet, I don't know what's less dignified, getting shot dressed as a clown or getting killed by a clown. Then again, scaring the shit out of people always gets a laugh...until a clown induced heart attack happens.

If you're hunting clowns in Penn State ( apparently all the students are hunting them) you might need this, available from Tee Spring.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

10 Films That Made Men Cry

That moment when a movie has you hook line and sinker and hits you straight in the feels. I'm not merely just talking about that lump in your throat or the so called "I've got grit in my eye" excuse, I'm talking about full on blub. Here's a run down of 10 movies that make men cry.
SPOILER ALERT - Be warned there are obviously some spoilers in this list. If you haven't seen the movies, be warned this could spoil that emotional out pouring you'll experience.

1. Field of Dreams
An Iowa corn farmer, hearing voices, interprets them as a command to build a baseball diamond in his fields; he does, and the Chicago White Sox come.
Blub moment: When Ray (kevin Costner) asks the ghost of his father  to a game of catch. Despite the fact I'm a Brit and know absolutely nothing about baseball this got me where it counts and does so every time I see it.


2. Good Will Hunting
Will Hunting, a janitor at M.I.T., has a gift for mathematics, but needs help from a psychologist to find direction in his life. if not for the sheer dynamic brilliance of watching Robin Williams deliver an absolute showstopper performance its the feeling this great man is no longer with us.
Blub Moment: Sean Maguire (Williams) talks about his love for his wife and the Cancer which killed her. 


3. Million Dollar Baby
This film is about an underappreciated boxing trainer Frankie Dunn, the mistakes that haunt him from his past, and his quest for atonement by helping an underdog amateur boxer called Maggie achieve her dream of becoming a professional.
Blub Moment: When Frankie Dunn (Eastwood)  sneaks into the hospital one night to administer a fatal injection of adrenaline to a seriously injured Maggie who had begged Frankie to help end her suffering. In a coma Frankie finally tells Maggie the meaning of a nickname he gave her.

4. Marley & Me
A family learns important life lessons from their adorable, but naughty and neurotic dog. This one is an absolute killer if you happen to be a dog owner, particularly if you own a labrador. The movie takes you up and then drops you like a tonne weight when the inevitable end of  journey arrives.
Blub Moment: The aging Marley begins to show signs of arthritis and deafness. An attack of gastric dilation volvulus almost kills him, but he recovers. When a second attack occurs, it becomes clear surgery will not help him, and Marley is euthanized with John (Owen Wilson) at his side. 


5. Its a Wonderful Life
James Stewart's iconic role as George Bailey, a man who has given up his dreams in order to help others, and whose imminent suicide on Christmas eve brings about the intervention of his guardian angel Clarence.
Blub Moment: George runs back to the bridge where he was going to commit suicide and begs for his life back. His prayer is answered, as Burt catches up to him, but only to say he was glad he found George as everyone was worried about him. George runs through the town joyously, wishing everyone he sees a merry Christmas

6.Stand By Me
Perhaps one of the greatest coming of age movies ever created, directed by Rob Reiner and written by Stephen King. After learning that a stranger has been accidentally killed near their rural homes, four Oregon boys decide to go see the body. On the way, Gordie Lachance (Wil Wheaton), Vern Tessio (Jerry O'Connell), Chris Chambers (River Phoenix) and Teddy Duchamp (Corey Feldman) encounter a mean junk man and a marsh full of leeches, as they also learn more about one another and their very different home lives.
Blub Moment: The narration by The present-day Gordie (Richard Dreyfuss) writes that while Gordie and Chris stayed friends, they drifted about from the other two shortly thereafter. Vern married immediately after high school, has four children, and drives a forklift at a local lumber yard. Teddy tried enlisting in the army but was turned down because of his ear injury and impaired eyesight. He had served some time in prison and now does odd jobs around Castle Rock. Chris went on to college and became a lawyer. When attempting to break up a fight in a fast-food restaurant, he was fatally stabbed in the neck 


7. Forrest Gump
Slow-witted Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) has never thought of himself as disadvantaged, and thanks to his supportive mother (Sally Field), he leads anything but a restricted life. Whether dominating on the gridiron as a college football star, fighting in Vietnam or captaining a shrimp boat he excels at every aspect of his life. The film is an adventure and one of the greatest triumph of the human spirit stories ever made. The innocence that Hanks conveys as Gump is one of the finest things you'll see on film.
Blub Moment: In present-day, Gump reveals that he is waiting at the bus stop because he received a letter from Jenny who, having seen him run on television, asks him to visit her. Once he is reunited with Jenny, she introduces him to his son, also named Forrest. Jenny tells Gump she is suffering from an unknown virus (possibly HIV, though this is never specified). Together the three move back to Greenbow, Alabama. Jenny and Forrest finally marry but she dies soon afterward.


8. Saving Private Ryan
Heart wrenching, Spielbergs WW2 film pulls no punches and rams home the sheer brutality of war in the most visceral 25 minutes you'll see in any movie. Hanks is Captain Miller, assigned to take a small squad of men to search for and bring home the last remaining son of  the Ryan family who's other siblings have all perished in combat.
Blub Moment: There are two, the moment when Miller (Hanks) dies defending the last bridge from an approaching German Tiger tank and the present day Ryan who stands at Millers grave with survivors guilt.


Carl Fredricksen (Ed Asner), a 78-year-old balloon salesman, is about to fulfill a lifelong dream. Tying thousands of balloons to his house, he flies away to the South American wilderness. But curmudgeonly Carl's worst nightmare comes true when he discovers a little boy named Russell is a stowaway and their adventure together reveals some important life lessons for the both of them.
Blub moment: After suffering  a miscarriage and being told they cannot have a child, Carl and Ellie decide to realize their dream of visiting Paradise Falls. They try to save for the trip, but repeatedly end up spending the money on more pressing needs. Finally, an elderly Carl arranges for the trip, but Ellie suddenly becomes ill and dies. What makes the miscarriage scene even more impactful is that not a single line of dialogue is spoken. As a parent this will break your heart.

10.Schindlers List
Businessman Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) arrives in Krakow in 1939, ready to make his fortune from World War II, which has just started. After joining the Nazi party primarily for political expediency, he staffs his factory with Jewish workers for similarly pragmatic reasons. When the SS begins exterminating Jews in the Krakow ghetto, Schindler arranges to have his workers protected to keep his factory in operation, but soon realizes that in so doing, he is also saving innocent lives.
Blub Moment: The razing of the Jewish Ghetto and the young girl in the red dress. 

Got any movies that make you blub?, leave a comment and let me know

Friday, 27 May 2016

A $4 Batman toy Made me $109 in one click

While rescuing my beloved comic book collection from the ravages of hungry mice in my garage I happened to come across an old box I'd long since forgotten about.
When  I moved house 11 years ago I just packed up all my stuff, comics and toy crap and stored it in the loft and garage, totally forgot I had most of it.
A TV program came on the TV one night called Toy Hunter, the one with that enthusiastic American toy nut Jordan Hembrough, you know the guy, he's a walking toy encyclopedia but probably the last person you want diving through all your loft stuff just in case he finds that 1989 porn stash you have hidden under your Bionic Man figurine (yeah I had that too, the one with the roll up flesh sleeve).
Jordan Toy Hunter Man goes rooting through this guys garage and plucks out a Combat Belt Batman with this, " I just found gold" look all over his face. This particular Batman toy he found was from the animated series. 

The Batman animated series aired back in the early 90's, produced by Warner Bros the show ran for 85 episodes from 1992 to 1995, Kevin Conroy voiced Batman and Bruce Wayne and Mark Hamill (yes, Luke Skywalker himself) voiced Jack Napier and the Joker. As with most WB licences at that time toys were a big part of the shows merchandising.
Batman figurines have been around for decades, ever since Bob Kane first drafted his character and the demand for toys and merchandise grew as the evolution of comic book culture.
 Batman comes in all different guises, even if he never wore any of the different outfits licensors and toy manufacturers always look at ways to squeeze the dollar as far as it'll go - some are actually pretty cool ideas, others are, well, not so cool. (Infrared Batman came in a red suit...a red one!) Ninja Power Pack Batman came with Robin and the black and gold garb was just as weird as it probably sounds.Ground Assault Batman had a Green Goblin inspired foot glider thingy or “Motorized Turbo-Powered Ground Jet!” as its officially called.Then there was SkyDive Batman but last but not least was the little gem called "Combat Belt Batman".

Combat Belt Batman had a grappling hook, far more sensible if you ask me, I mean the man climbs all over peoples houses and places of business at night dressed as a of course he's going to need a grappling hook. Anyway, at the time this figure sold for around $4, or at least, that's the dollar equivalent of what the price label I had on mine was when I pulled it from the box in my garage.
Mr walking toy encyclopedia Toy Hunter man says "do you know how much this is worth?", garage man shrugs, adjusts his thick frame glasses and stands there mouth agape waiting for the punchline.
"This is a Combat Belt Batman and worth over $100 in this condition" says Toy Hunter  Man - two parts of that description went in an nestled their way in the back of my mind, "Combat Belt Batman" and "$100". I knew I had one and set about raiding the garage the following day.

Long story short I posted that little guy in mint condition up on Ebay for $104 and within 3 days sold him to a buyer in Devon, England. The best single click that earned me $104.

Ok so you got this far, there has to be a morale of the storty, well sort of, if like me you have no real attachment to some of the crap in your garage, primarily toys -  do yourself a massive favor and see what you have lying around, I know the Star Wars stuff has always had a collectors price tag attached to most of it, especially the 1976 Kenner stuff but I had absolutely no idea I had $104 sitting in a box in the shape of Batman with a grappling hook. no wonder for years the Chinese economy was booming these guys probably churned out thousands of these figures yet an internet search now will show you now that these as pretty rare to come by.
See, now tell your wife sitting around watching TV is a good way to earn money and don't let her touch your toys!

Collectors Resources

Toy Collectors Price Guide 2016 via Amazon