Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Marvel's Star Wars Comics

With Disney having acquired both Marvel Comics and Star Wars, it made sense we'd see the return of Marvel Comics in charge of the Star Wars comics again. Once the Dark Horse contract expired, Marvel welcomed back Star Wars in spectacular fashion! The stories are focused, tightly written, and exciting -- filling in the gaps between episodes IV and V.

The main Star Wars book, written by Jason Aaron, puts his "world building" talents to use - creating a believable experience to thrust our heroes from one adventure to another. The first 4 issues have been released, and they did a pretty resounding job of capturing whats great about Star Wars. I especially liked the focus on Luke Skywalker. Having the limelight stolen away by the charismatic Harrison Ford - it feels good to see Luke finally getting his due. In these issues Luke isn't exactly a Jedi yet - in fact, he's swatted away by Darth Vader like a fly. BUT - his notoriety for destroying the Death Star captures Darth Vader's attention (explaining who he knew to hunt for, in episode 5). A trip back to Tatooine is in order, which I'm excited to see.

The art by John Cassaday has been stellar, to say the least. He delivers art that not only pleases you with a photo-realistic style, but is also imbued with acting for everyone's depictions. Darth Vader comes off especially menacing. I was sad to hear that Cassaday is leaving the title so soon; I hope he'll come back for another arc. In the meantime, though, Stuart Immonen will take over starting with issue #8.

Meanwhile, Darth Vader has been making his own waves in his first on-going comic series. Written by Kieron Gillen, Darth Vader returns to prominence as the ultimate evil villain he always was. Darth Vader has a lot of schemes and plans going on - much of it behind the emperor's back. Even when he's simply talking, or dealing with internal politics, he's menacing -- just imagining James Earl Jones' voice with this dialogue is a joy.

Salvador Larroca supplies to the art for Darth Vader. While Larroca's style is more photo realistic, he makes you believe in these scenes with Darth Vader. I've especially been pleased to see illusions to Darth Vader's past. I've never been one of those prequel hating fans -- and these scenes are nicely added, delivering a better melding of those two sides together, of Anakin and Vader. Just seeing Vader on an adventure reminds me of all the action he saw as Anakin during the Clone Wars; and seeing it match up in the comic is really wonderful to see.

Some new characters have been added in Darth Vader's secret arsenal - one being Doctor Aphra, a trill seeking archeologist two repair ancient droids. She repairs and puts together two nasty droids for Vader -- an evil C3PO and R2D2. The first is versed in torture, while the later is armed to the teeth.

Only a few issues of Star Wars and Darth Vader comics have been made so far, but already I'm hooked! Greg Rucka has a 4-issue limited series coming up, Shattered Empire, examining what happened to the empire after the 6th film. Already a limited series Princess Leia comic has proved successful, with a Lando comic coming up as well.

I hope Marvel keeps their A game going in these titles. While Star Wars comics have never been bad - their having drifted away from the main heros made them regrettably forgettable in many cases. With this sharp focus on filling in the gaps between films, I feel more assured these titles will remain relevant for the foreseeable future.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Star Wars G4 Attack of the Show Spoofs

I got and have been watching the Blueray edition of Star Wars. They included with the combined set a series of parody clips (some good, some not so good). What it was missing, though, was the Attack of the Show parody clips.

G4's website is still running (apparently... for now) So I'm posting these clips, showing extended scenes for the 3 original movies, and also a clip where the Emperor tries to get a new job.

Episode 4 Extended Scene

Episode 5 Extenced Scene

Episode 6 Extended Scene

Emperor gets a Job

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Kamen Rider Mach Translation Cheat Sheet

I got the Kamen Rider Mach Drive today! Its a Super Fun toy. The more shift cars you have, the better. I have a few.

Warning: the words in this device are pretty much all Japanese, though. I looked up and wrote down a cheat sheet for myself, which I'd like to share. (a few cars are missing, but I list most of them). I'm going off of what I found online; forgive me if anything is wrong.

Type Speed = Hayai/Fast
Type Wild = Tsuyoi/Strong
Type Technique = Umai/Clever
Type Fruits = Kudamono/Fruits
Dead Heat = Kyuuni/Dead Heat
Formula = Kousoku/High Speed

Max Flare = Moeri/To Burn
Rumble Dump = Arabull/To Roughen
Spin Mixer = Mazerl/To Mix
Mad Doctor = Naori/To Care
Deco Traveler = Travel
Dimensional Cab = Takuru/Slang for "To Ride a Taxi"
Dream Vegas = Atare/To Win
Fire Braver = Nobiru/To Extend
Funky Spike = Sasaru/To Pierce
Hooking Wrecker = Hippare/To Pull
Massive Monster = Kajiru/To Gnaw
Midnight Shadow = Shinobi/To Hide
Burning Solar = Pikaru/To Shine
Rolling Gravity = Tsubusu/To Crush
Colorful Commercial = Senden/To Advertise
Justice Hunter = Toraeru/To Arrest

Viral Bat = Yumiya/Bat
Viral Spider = Tsume/Spider

Signal Bikes
Magaru (Turn)
Kaksan (Split Apart)
Tomare (Stop)
Kiken (Danger)

Pressing the Button 4 times adds another word, usually one of these:
Zutto = Much
Kyuni = Suddenly
Totemo = Very
Imasugu = Right Now
Takusan = A Lot
Kanari = Fairly
Zettai = Absolute

and, finally, the phrase given when you shut the device without a signal bike or shift car, it will say "Otskare", or "Good Job"

Kamen Rider Drive Shift Cars

I've very much been enjoying Kamen Rider Drive. One of the cool things about the show is that you can, essentially, play along with the Shift Cars gimmick and henshin devices that are sold. Amazon has become a great and easy place to buy from, featuring the Drive Belt, Mach Driver, and other items available for fair prices. The Shift Cars are fun, not only a display pieces and toys -- but because they function in each Drive Belt or Henshin device, giving unique sounds for each toy.

I began collecting the Shift Cars, and Signal Bikes, and thought I'd give my thoughts on each of them.

Mind you -- there are two different versions of these toys. There are DX versions, which usually come in two or three-packs, or with cosplay weapons, that feature shinier stickers, and a single click flipping feature on Shift Cars. Gashapon toys, and Candy Toys, feature a similar clicking feature, but with more clicks required to flip the back of the car, and less shinier stickers. Essentially the Gashapon toys are cheaper versions --- but, this time, not by much; as they all work in the Drivers, and function nearly identically to their DX counterparts.

There are two types of Shift Cars; Forms (changing the character into a different mode), and Tire Koukans (where the Tire on Kamen Rider Drive changes, giving him new powers). There are also Signal Bikes, for Kamen Rider Mach to use, and Viral Cores, for Mashin Chaser -- but all are interchangeable with each others toys/devices.

Type Speed (Form)

This is the first Shift Car, coming in the box with the DX Kamen Rider Drive Belt. It places the belt into Speed mode, which is generally the default mode of the character. This shift car is simple, but nicely reminds you of Tridoron (Drive's main car), with similar accents and coloring (while also not being a mini version of Tridoron).

Max Flare

This fire-themed car comes along with the DX Kamen Rider Drive Belt as well, giving you your first Fire Koukan ability. The shift car is made in a luminescent orange clear plastic, which really highlights the sculpting details of the car.

Funky Spike

This Shift Car either comes with the DX Driver, if you get the 3-Shift Car included version; or, instead, the DX version can be obtained with the Shift Car Holder, sold separately. I opted just to get a Gashapon version instead. Its detailed in green clear plastic, with shiny pink paint for the headlights and window. Spikey details encompass the entire vehicle, living up to its name. Its one of the coolest of the Shift Cars, and produces weird funky noises when used in the various devices.

Spin Mixer

I got a Gashapon version. The mixer is probably one of the more plain versions of the Shift Cars - but is also underrated, as it features a wonderful amber-like clear plastic, and gives Drive a useful power in the show, to render foes stuck and unmovable.

Massive Monster

This little guy is probably my favorite of the whole bunch! He features a Pixar-like face and mouth, with veins bulging out of the sculpt of dark purple translucent plastic. Contrasting with his color scheme, high dark green wheels make the Shift Car pop, giving personality to an already personality-themed toy.

Midnight Shadow

This car comes along with a purchase of the DX Tridoron vehicle. Midnight Shadow is a ninja themed car, featuring details similar to protective chain mail a ninja would wear, with a wonderful purple theme and yellow accents. If you don't want to get Tridoron, a Gashapon version would probably satisfy you.

Dream Vegas

Made is milky white clear semi-clear plastic, this royals royce car features a Vegas theme, with a level molded into the back, and dolor signs in gold adorning the side. In the show Dream Vegas endows Drive with one of his wackiest powers - the ability to throw lots of coins at the enemy (but only if he lands a Triple 7!) Dream Vegas comes in an easy-to-pick up two-pack with Dimension Cab.

Dimension Cab

Like I said, Dimension Cab comes packaged along with Dream Vegas -- and this pair seem appropriately matched, as Cabs are everywhere in Vegas. This cab comes in a yellow clear plastic, with wonderful checkered detailing. The words Taxi adorn the hood. Definitely one of the more unique and stand-out Shift Cars of the bunch.

Justice Hunter

I didn't get this one.

Type Wild (Form)

This big muscle car turns Drive into Type Wild. More engine under the hood - Type Wild has a nice beat box sound to it when turned into this mode. Otherwise its a plain looking car; thought its big wheels, and similarity to Type Speed, save it from looking boring.

Rumble Dump

Childish, though it may be, I can't help but laugh at this one. Especially when its shorted to just "Dump" -- and said by the toys -- it's simply funny! Otherwise this is a great Shift Car, with a wonderful translucent yellow plastic - what would otherwise be a boring dump truck becomes a glittering jewel, standing out among the other shift cars. It comes for sale with Mad Doctor.

Mad Doctor

Mad Doctor essentially heals the heroes, but in the most painful way possible. You don't visit it for a check up, you visit it when you've been poisoned to death. Being nearly all plain white might make this a boring shift car - but the futuristic look of the vehicle, with a semi translucent plastic makes it look very pretty.

Hooking Wrecker

This shift car is somewhat plain, but makes up for it with a movable crane and a wonderful dark green coloring in translucent plastic.

Type Technique (Form)

I got Type Technique as a Gashapon version - giving me a green mini dump truck, and allowing the Belt to go into Technique mode, with a booming robotic theme. The front of the dump trucks modes juuuuuust a bit, with the arms able to extend a wee little. (Not much, though. Its not a big feature.)

Fire Braver

The little Fire Engine that Could - this Shift Car seems dull at first, but it saved by its nice translucent plastic. (This image makes it look much brighter than it really does.)

Rolling Gravity

Rolling Gravity comes in a two-pack along with Fire Braver. Gravity is actually one of the most used Shift Cars in the show - as he creates the roads that appear in the air for the cars to drive on. (You know, when they aren't simply flying around instead) This picture depicts the translucent plastic as being lighter than it really is; its actually a dark amber like color.

Road Winter

I didn't get this one.

Amazing Circus

I didn't get this one. (Obviously because it's evil!)

Type Fruits (Form)

I got a Gashapon version of this car, featuring the movie tie-in between Gaim and Drive. Fruits mode gives you an awesome Gaim themed sound, with the blaring trumpet of Sengoku Era Japan. Sure, its a throw back to the previous series -- but its a wonderful, and can't miss Mode, if you like Kamen Rider Gaim as well. As for the Shift Car itself, its done in a shiny orange plastic, with blue windows, and an orange slice theme all along the car.

Deco Traveler

This shift car is fun, having appeared in the show and helping to solve a case! Its based on those brightly colored trucks from Japan, decked out in dazzling lights. I don't know what the Japanese words are on its side and roof - but it plays a little Japanese tune when placed in the Drive Driver. Although its just a Gashapon-only released version, it one I also immediately went out looking for on ebay. I found mine for a good price, and have seen it go for around $10.

Burning Solar

A Gashapon-only release, this car looks quite stunning; and it should -- because it contains the Power of the Sun! Decked out with blue solar panels, it nicely contrasts with the dark rich translucent plastic making up the rest of the car.

Colorful Commercial

I didn't get this one.

Type Dead Heat (Form)

This Shift Car is special, as its used by both Drive and Mach reguarly - giving them a tremendous power boost, but with the danger of overheating and going critical. The Shift Car transforms with the bike resting in the bed of the side car. Its a bit big for a side car, but it otherwise works to get the point across of the two characters, Bike and Car, combining as one.

Type Formula (Form)

This shift car comes with the Trailer Cannon vehicle, which is a large shift car of its own. Type Formula gives Kamen Rider Drive tremendous speed. The jingle and sounds it produces in the Driver are cool as well.

Formula 01

Formula 02

Formula 03

After so many original Shift Cars, when they released these three (in a single pack), I thought to myself that they where finally giving up and just doing different colored version of the same car. Well -- look again! Yes, they are all race cars -- but the combine to be a Pit Crew for Type Formula!! Seeing them in action on the show completely changed my mind. They produce a boring 01, 02, and 03 sound when in the Drive Driver -- but useing them in the Trailer Cannon unlocks a snappy jingle for each one. Cool, right?

Signal Bike / Type Next (Form)

Shaped just like Go's bike, this shift car is Kamen Rider Mach's standard henshin tool. Place it in the Drive Driver and you'll go into "Next" Mode. (becuase he's the "Next" Generation System)

Magaru Signal Bike

This signal bike comes with Kamen Rider Mach's cosplay gun, which I didn't want to buy - so instead I sought out a Gashapon version of it. Since its Gashapon, it doesn't come with the sparkles inside the mold, like the DX versions do, which is a disappointment. This Signal Bikes comes with an arrow theme - which fits, as it will always seeks out its target and hit the bullseye.

Kaksan Signal Bike

This Signal Bikes shoots in many different directions, accounting for all the armorments and weapons all over the design. Decked out in sparkles, it looks quite impressive. It comes in a two pack with "Stop".

Tomare Signal Bike

The "Stop" Signal Bike has a stunning electrical theme, and like Kaksan, produces a nice new jingle in the Mach Driver. The electrical stricker particarly look pretty.

Kiken Signal Bike

A jaws-themed bullet, Kiken Signal Bike is an odd one, to say the least. But it has such a wonderful smile on it's face - you just can't help but like this little guy? He comes packaged together with Dead Heat.

Chaser Bat Viral Core

This car comes along with Mashin Chaser's Break Gunner - and gives it Bat like shooting sounds. The silver is very pretty, and works excellently with the dark theme of Mashin Chaser's weapon.

Chaser Spider Viral Core

I got this one as a Gashapon version, which comparing it to the DX Bat version, itsn't that much different. It gives the Break Gunner Spider like sounds (actually managing to give voice to such silent little insects!)

Chaser Cobra Viral Core

I didn't get this one.

Chaser Signal Bike

This Shift Bike, in the form of Mashin Chaser's actual bike, is suppose to be a Form Change for the upcoming Kamen Rider Chaser -- when the villain returns, once again, to being a hero. This toy comes with the Signal Ax cosplay toy; but, instead of getting that, I'd rather wait for a Gashapon version of this one.

The Legend Signal Bikes set seems like a match made in heaven for Kamen Rider Mach's driver. Each bike is based on one of the Heisei Riders (well, one is the original Showa bike). I've heard hacked sounds from the Drive Driver, and these bikes supposedly would just active a sound saying their individual names. I hope there's much more when used in the Mach Driver. I mean, they have to include the jingles and sounds from the other shows, right? If not, I would be very disapointed with this set.

Over all, I'm conflicted wether to persue this premium Bandi release. Sites have already sold out pre-orders, and ones that haven't charge $200. (At least $50 more than the Japan yen difference). Its an expensive set; but it sure looks like it might be worth it. (Even if I'm disapointed by the sounds)

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Kamen Rider Drive

The series Kamen Rider Drive did not immediately appeal to me. Cars aren't a big interest for me - and mixing that with a police detective theme felt cumbersome to me. The first episode failed to impress me - as the toy heavy gimmick of "Shift Cars" was front and center, being integral to the plot, rather than a device used in the story. The enemies, also, seemed bland, even though they had a cyber punk rock theme to them.

While it was slow to start, the engine finally came roaring on for me. Once you get past and accept the little Shift Cars, the series made a strange kind of sense to me. It isn't trying to be too serious - the powers, Tire Changes, that Drive utilizes are an example of that - with wacky and weird powers. Underlying it all, though, is a fun adventure/detective show.

The characters really began to grow on me. Shinnosuke really helps sell the interested, but sometimes laid back, Kamen Rider/detective. He's partnered by his talking belt - Krim - a scientist who died, but uploaded himself digitally. He acts as the talking car -- similar to Knight Rider -- giving advice and guiding the hero through the story.

Kiriko acts as Shinnosuke's sounding board - and guide, getting him to shift into gear and really get into a case or investigation. Her stoic no-smiles personality really shines on the screen, and makes breaks in that tough persona really stand out.

Go is Kirko's brother, who interjects himself into the series, as a death-defying stuntman-like Kamen Rider. Kamen Rider Mach -- who always announces that he goes at Mach Speed, brings a fun element to the series - including a slight rivalry between him and Shinnosuke.

The Roidmude enemies utilize a cool effect - called "Heaviness", to slow down reality and gravity. It becomes a calling card for the foes - and something the heroes can track and find the enemy. These robotic androids are a created force that has gone out of control -- and are evolving in different ways as they steal people's identities and memories.

The lead group of the villains hadn't all-together caught my attention -- as they seem somewhat generic at first. Heart is the leader, backing up a fearsome amount of power; Brain provides the intelligence to the group (but is somewhat ignored), and Medic, introduced later, helps round out the dreariness of the cast.

The character that, at first, REALLY annoyed me? Mashin Chaser, also known as the Grim Reaper. He shows up in the 3ed episode, and automatically becomes Kamen Rider Drive's nemesis. No special reason is stated -- he just HATES Kamen Riders -- and gets in the way of the hero over, and over again. I began to be really annoyed -- why does he keep showing up, fighting every episode? His story didn't seem very dramatic --- that is, until Kiriko was dead-center in the line of fire, and Chase choose not to fire on her and kill her. Why? Well, this is where the character got VERY interesting for me: turns out, he's the Proto-type of Drive, a former Kamen Rider himself, who was defeated by the Roidmude and reprogramed to be their ally. Its really amazing -- a complete reversal of a drum, uninteresting character, suddenly became a wonderful ongoing focus for the series.

Anyway -- what do you think of Kamen Rider Drive? I hope the series continues to do well. I've also had a lot of fun collecting getting some of the toys from the series. I can't afford the $300+ S.H. Figuarts version of Tridoron (the car) - but the DX version seems fun, and only cost $55 on Amazon. I also plan on getting the S.H. Figuarts of Drive, Chase, and Mach (and the Type Wild version of Drive). Throw in a good price on Gashapon Shiftcars I found (but probably isn't there anymore), and I feel like I got a good collection from the series going on.

I really didn't expect to enjoy and like the series as much as I do. Like I said before -- it's just a fun series; not trying to be overly serious. So, if you watch the series -- just enjoy the Drive.