Friday, 30 October 2015

Nerdversity Reviews: Thundebirds Are Go! Thunderbird 3

Continuing our look at Thunderbirds at 50, we're taking a look at the Vivid Imaginations Thunderbird 3, released this year. The box is the same open box design as the rest of the vehicles and has the same logo and Tracy Brothers graphic as the others. This time, the box front is red and has a graphic of Alan running.

The back of the box features the same kind of instruction manual that the others do that explains how the gimmicks work and how to activate them, in this case the grabbing arms. It also features an advert for Tracy Island and also Thunderbird 1 and Thunderbird 2 & 4 pack. 

Out of the box, Thunderbird 3 stands at a whopping 5 and a half inches from nose to booster. It features a white nosecone rather than all red from the original. There's plenty of little insignia and warnings all over the rocket, even a WARNING JET BLAST on the thrusters. Many longtime Fandersons will no doubt notice the boosters are squared off this time, rather than rounded on the original model.

To activate the Grasping Arms gimmick, simply push the big gray booster in the middle to release the arms. Sometimes they all pop out, sometimes only one or two do. Then once the arms are extended, you can lift the arms into their fully extended position.

It does have sounds, activated by twisting the large gray middle piece and they are as follows:

  • FAB
  • International Rescue, this is Thunderbird 3, do you copy?
  • Deploying Grasping Arms
  • Rocket sound effect.

As a fan of Thunderbirds, I was never really that big on Thunderbird 3. I am not that much of a fan of the grasping arms on the remake, but overall, the toy isn't that bad. It currently retails for £8 and you can get it from most toy shops and online. 

Nerdversity 217 - A Brief History of Supermarionation

Before we begin our look at Thunderbirds at 50, we thought we'd take a look at how the puppetry techniques were used in Gerry Anderson's work and how the technology increased as the series went on and the inspirations it drew from. 

Nerdversity 216 - Only Fools and Boycie (Part 1)

Recorded at the Lichfield Garrick. This is part 1 of his 2 hour long intimate show played to about 100 people. In this part, John Challis talks about his early life up until the success of Only Fools and Horses in the early 80s. 

Nerdversity 215 - Transformers 30th Anniversary Special Part 17: Cybertron

Join Nerdversity as they continue their look at 30 years of Transformers. In this part, we take a brief rundown of the Cybertron franchise, going over the cartoon, the toyline and the pack in mini comics. 

Nerdversity 214 - SAG-AFTRA Strike

In this episode, Nerdversity sits down and discusses the impact of the SAG-AFTRA strike on the voice acting community and acting community. We discuss how it will affect cartoons as well as video games.

You can find out more information about the SAG-AFTRA strike here. You can also find out what SAG wanted in the deal here and just what limits the video game developers put on actors here

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Nerdversity Reviews: Thunderbirds Are Go! Thunderbird 2 and Thunderbird 4

Continuing our look at 50 years of Thunderbirds, we bring you the Thunderbird 2 and Thunderbird 4 set from Vivid Imaginations. 

The box is in the same open design as Thunderbird 1, with the vehicle clearly on display and the Try Me button allowing children to essentially play with it in store in the box. It also displays the open pod with Thunderbird 4 coming out.There's a large graphic of the Thunderbirds Are Go! logo with the crew stood behind it in their respective colours. The advertising blurb on the bottom has the individual craft names in their respective colours and an action shot of Gordon and Virgil

The pod that is inside Thunderbird 2 is actually a fake cardboard one, Though it does look fairly authentic. 

On the back of the box, we have the cut out and keep file cards for Thunderbird 2 and Thunderbird 2 which has a brief profile of Virgil and Gordon, as well as stats on the vehicles in question. There's a brief instruction sheet on the back which explains the various functions and gimmicks of Thunderbird 2. There's also an advert for the Tracy Island Playset, as well as Thunderbird 1 and Thunderbird 3 in the same line. 

Thunderbird 2's gimmick, other than the dropping pod and extending legs is that like the show, the wings can fold up and down. There's a lot of detail in this new sculpt, ranging from the DANGER JET BLAST warning near the tail rockets, to INTERNATIONAL RESCUE being printed on the tail fin. There's loads of other insignia and warnings dotted around the toy as well. Other details include windows on the nose and the extended sensors on the nose as well. There are free rolling wheels on the underside of the pod, allowing it to be rolled across any flat surface.

Pushing down on the buttons on fuselage near the wings extends the legs, the springs aren't that good and often need manually fixing. This can be done by simply flicking it out with a finger. The button on the rear of Thunderbird 2, just behind the pod is the release mechanism for the pod. The pod itself has a little hole at the top of the door in which you can hook your nail and flick the pod door down and then release Thunderbird 4. In all honesty, the mechanism isn't all that good and the pod often slips free and can even be pushed out with a finger. It's not all that secure. The front of the pod is unpainted, thus allowing for any expansion toys to be placed inside the pod and taken on any play Rescue Mission.

Thunderbird 4 is nothing really special. An inch long piece of yellow rubbery plastic that sits inside the pod. It's well detailed and painted for what it is, but it has no gimmicks or anything like that, 

It does have sounds like the others and they are as follows:

  • This is Thunderbird 2, mission complete, I'm on my way home
  • whirring sound effects
  • FAB Scott
  • Launching sound effect

All in all, while having it's flaws, it's not a bad toy and for the retail price of £8, you are getting a fairly sturdy toy and the better part is that you are getting 2 toys for the price of one, even though it is slightly larger than the others, being just a hair over the 5 inches that Thunderbird 1 is. The gimmicks are there from what we remember, the extending legs and dropping pod. This time, it has sounds and folding wings too. 

A Halloween Treat

No tricks, just treats. We have an awesome surprise for you. We have a list of FREE public domain horror movies for you and they can be found here

We hope you enjoy these movies and have a safe halloween

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Nerdversity Reviews: Thunderbirds Are Go! Thunderbird 1

As we have started our Thunderbirds at 50 retrospective, I thought we'd take a look at the current Vivid Imaginations toys based on the current incarnation of the series, Thunderbirds Are Go! The first on the list is Thunderbird 1

The box features an open design, not too dissimilar from the Power Rangers Dino Charge toys we looked at earlier. You can see the full toy displayed in the box with the wings splayed open. There's some graphics showing off the new logo with the 5 Tracy brothers behind the logo. The front also features graphics of Scott running and Scott coming down on a zipline.

The back of the box has the same logo in the upper right corner and has a clip out and keep filecard for Scott and Thunderbird 1 that has all the stats on Scott and his machine. It also has an instruction sheet printed on the back and advertisements for Tracy Island and some upcoming toys in the line.

Out of the box, Thunderbird 1 stands approximately 5 inches from Nose to tail and features a very detailed paint job that covers all over. There's a detailed cockpit on the underside, machine gun, markings all over THUNDERBIRD 1 down the frontof the craft and TB 1 featured all over the sides and rocket engine. It may not be visible that well on the pictures, but the blue detailing on the base and the engine feature a honeycomb pattern. The nosecone is made of a soft rubber and the body is made of a much harder plastic. 

Twisting the rocket engine all the way round extends the wings. It also plays a rocket launching sound. There is a button just above the 1 that plays a number of sounds and these are:
  • Rocket sound
  • Thunderbird 1 is away
  • FAB, I'm on it
  • We're International Rescue

These are currently for sale at most retail stores across the globe and are about £8 or $10 or so. There is some play value for children as it has sounds that can be accessed at the touch of a button and it has a gimmick in that the wings can extend and retract by twisting the rockets. There are probably a number of Gerry Anderson and Thunderbirds fans that have this in their collection. 

Nerdversity Reviews: Only Fools and Boycie

Event: Only Fools and Boycie
Date: 15th October 2015
Venue: Lichfield Garrick

For those out there that don't know who John Challis is, he's a well renowned British actor who has appeared in such things as Z-Cars, Citizen Smith, Beau Geste, Dixon of Dock Green, Coronation Street, Brass Eye, Ever Decreasing Circles, Doctor Snuggles, One Foot in The Grave, Doctor Who and most famously, his role as Aubrey "Boycie" Boyce in Only Fools and Horses, reprising the role again in it's spin off, The Green Green Grass,

The show was just over 2 hours and tells condensed versions of his books, "Being Boycie" and "Boyice and Beyond", telling the story of his life from being a young boy at school and being interested in acting and the theatre, right up to what he's doing now. 

The firs half of the show covered his young life, wanting to be an actor, to treading the boards with the RSC. It was a fascinating look into the life of a man who's acting work is mostly known for Only Fools and Green Green Grass, but it provided the insight into his early acting roles from minor characters and an audition with the Beatles, to quitting acting and opening a garden center, then getting the role in Doctor Who and then finally, the audition for Only Fools and Horses and then it becoming a cultural phenomenon of the 1980s.

The second half of the show comprised mainly of anecdotes from his time working on Only Fools's second season to the finish, such as filming the Jolly Boys Outing and one of the fans pretending to be a security officer. To filming in Miami and finally onto the filming and creation of The Green Green Grass. After that, he did a short Q&A with the fans before signing after the show. 

The show was inter cut with short clips from his career and even clips from Only Fools and Horses of his introduction, the infamous chandelier sequence, the seance where we learn his first name, Heroes and Villians and shots of Miami Twice.

If you have a chance to go see this show, then do so by all means. It's a fantastically funny show by an actor who is lesser known in the acting world, but has an amazing roster and some side splitting stories to tell people, 

Friday, 23 October 2015

Nerdversity Reviews: 1993 Power Rangers Power Gun/sword (blade blaster)

As the Legacy Blade Blaster is being released today (23rd November) in the UK at MCM London as an Early Bird teaser, we thought we'd take a look at the original toy from 1993.

Released in 1993, the Power Gun/Sword came packaged with the morpher in a special boxed set. I can only assume this is based of an early pre-production name, as I can't think why it wasn't named the Blade Blaster. It came in a large box that featured graphics of Jason transforming into his ranger form and then a T-Rex, 2 open areas that feature the Blade Blaster and the Morpher. Right off the bat, you can see that the barrel is in black and gold, rather than red and white, like the TV show.

Taking it out the box, it fits nicely in the hand, even as an adult and is near enough to be a 1:1 scale replica of the weapon from the show. There's some chrome on the T-Rex teeth on both the handle and the head. There's chrome on the barrel too. If you have a vintage one, be weary as the chrome will eventually rub off  and expose the white plastic underneath, this is extremely common on the rear of the gun, as that's where the rear "jaws" meet and rub. It's less common on the sides, rex head and barrel, but can occur through playwear. 

The Blade Blaster takes a square 9 volt battery. Yes, it has lights and sounds. The gun makes a "laser" sound and the end of the barrel lights up. I'll let you be the judge on how it sounds. Many have likened it to a 1990s rape alarm,

Transforming it to sword mode is simple. Slide back the T-Rex head, swing up the grip until it clicks and the teeth meet. Flick out the blade from the underside. It still fits nice and snug in the hand and it still feels like there's some serious heft to it. The grey blade is made of a softer, rubbery plastic and is blunted. There is no danger of ever poking yourself in the eye as it's a safety blade. 

Despite being released in 1993 in the US, the mold is actually from the 1991 Zyuranger Rangerstick, which has been repainted and given a new set of stickers for the US market. 

Now, lets take a look at some of the variants and re-issues.

Released at around the same time, here's the Green Ranger Gun/Sword. However, this one doesn't transform as it's a water pistol and permanently stuck in gun form. 

Released in 2010 by Disney, It's smaller than the original toy and is about as show accurate as you can get from a Disney toy. It transforms and doesn't have the same level of detail as the original toy and doesn't make sounds when the trigger is pulled, only the T-Rex eyes light up

The final version, the Legacy one being released today at MCM, sometime in November for the rest of the world and the UK. It features a completely show accurate paint scheme as it is taken from the original props. It transforms just like the show, has a spring locking and flicking blade and it even plays the Power Rangers theme.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Nerdversity Reviews: Power Rangers Samurai Megazord

Released in 2013, the Samurai Megazord (based on Shinken-Oh from Shinkenger), was the first of the Neo-Saban toys to be released under the new ZordBuilder gimmick. While not the first set of toys to be released under the gimmick, that honour belongs to Disney's Mighty Morphin line which had the Megazord and Titanus feature the gimmick, along with a bunch of other vehicles.

As for the Samurai Megazord itself, it comes in a large, open box with the Megazord in it's combined form, which has been a staple of Bandai USA since Mighty Morphin. Jayden, the red samurai ranger features in the boittom corner and there are pictures of all 5 zords in their origami forms.

The back of the box shows the Megazord and all 5 folding zords and how they combine. Underneath that there's a list of auxilary zords including the Beetle, White Tiger and Swordfish zords, which when combined with the Samurai Megazord would form the Samurai Battlewing Megazord. There's also shots of the Red and Blue Disc Cycles which could form new legs for the Samurai Megazord, which is toy only and never featured in show.

The Red Lion Folding Zord forms the chest and hips of the Megazord and comes with the battle helmet. Articulation in zord mode is very sparse, limited only to the legs and the opening jaw, which in show housed a flame thrower. In show, it had super attack, in which it lit itself on fire and dashed at high speed towards it's opponent. The head of the megazord pops out of the Fire symbol on the top of the zord. To transform Red Lion into the chest piece, simply fold the back legs into the thighs, lift the front legs up until they click into place, fold the body down and flip up the head.

The Blue Dragon Folding Zord forms the left leg of the Megazord, but due to the ZordBuilder Gimmick it can also be used as a right leg as well. It does have a little more articulation than red, moving at the neck and jaw. In show, the Dragon had a flamethrower in the mouth as well. Unlike it's Japanese counterpart which housed the helmet, the US toy stores the sword as it's tail. To transform the dragon into the leg mode, press down on the silver button just underneath the gold symbol on the knee, remove the tail and fold on itself, flick the dragon head up to form the foot.

The Green Bear Folding Zord forms the right leg of the Megazord, like the Dragon, thanks to ZordBuilder, it can be used as another leg for another megazord. It has 2 attacks in the show. The first of which, it can ground stomp and cause earthquakes. The second is that it can rear up and maul enemies with it's front claws. To transform the bear zord into it's leg form, simply fold up the leg panels into the body and lift up the head to form the foot.

The Pink Turtle Folding Zord forms the right arm of the Samurai Megazord. Being that it's Zordbuilder, it can become the arm of any other megazord in the toyline. It's special ability is much like the POPStation game City Fighter, or Street Fighter, or Street Overlord, depending in which name for it is being used this week, like the LCD game fighters, the Samurai megazord pulls off the Turtle Zord and throws it it's opponent. It is the only zord out of the entire megazord that can form the Emblem form, simply based on it's transformation. The transformation is simply pull the turtle apart, fold in the head and flippers, rotate the lower half to form a fist. 

The Yellow Ape Folding Zord is the last one and forms the left arm of the Samurai Megazord. It didn't appear to have any special powers in the show. Being that it's ZordBuilder, it can form the left arm of any Megazord in the ZordBuilder line and will work with the Legacy toys as well. Transformation is the easiest of them all, with the arms being raised above the head and snapped together. 

The Samurai Megazord stands around 12 inches from the top of the helmet to it's feet and the sword can be placed in either hand, but feels more secure in the left hand. The Japanese toy comes with a shield that can be placed in the hand, on the back or on the shoulder, but the American toy doesn't come with one nor does it have the attachment points on the ape zord or the back for holding one. The sword can sit on the upper part of the hip on either side as a make shift sheath, however, it isn't all that secure.

In all honesty, the Samurai Megazord isn't bad for an American toy. It's not in the same league as the original DX toys. The main detractors to many collectors are the paint apps, new molds for ZordBuilder, the missing shield and the missing emblem modes for the zords. However, the emblem modes were taken out to make way for the ZordBuilder gimmick. It depends on what you're after in the Megazord to be honest. If you want show accuracy, Shinken-Oh will be your best bet, if you want the playability, especially with other megazords from megaforce, super megaforce, dino charge and legacy, then I would go with Samurai Megazord. But then, your mileage may vary. 

*thank you Ashens for the POPStation and Street Overlord joke. 

Friday, 16 October 2015

Nerdversity Reviews: Jon Holmes - Portrait of an Idiot (As A Young Man)

Event: Lichfield Literary Festival
Price: £10

Before we get into the crux of the event, a little information about Jon Holmes. Many people might not know who he is. Jon is a multi-award winning writer, broadcaster, journalist and comedian. He was worked with the likes of Armando Iannuci, Graham Norton, John Culshaw, Steve Punt, Hugh Dennis and so many more besides. 

He has been on BBC radio, XFM, Radio X, written for many TV series including Dead Ringers and Horrible Histories.

As for the event itself, it took place in a church hall and was with an intimate audience of around 20 or so people. His book, Portrait of An Idiot, came around after he was filling in a form for his daughters and it asked for his detailed medical history. It was a question that he admittedly couldn't answer as he himself was adopted. Born to an unnamed mother and unknown father, he was given up for adoption at just four weeks old. As a result of the form, Jon decided to document his own life story and history, so that one day he could pass it onto his children, although he later said they're banned from reading the book.

The book is a story of how boys grow into stupid men. Stories of sexual misadventure, being accidentally shot in the face, spiders, ghosts, being locked in a toilet with an Oscar winning screen writer, American Road trips gone wrong, a fatally injured gerbil, being removed by Margaret Thatcher's security and having loving parents who bought up a child that wasn't theirs. It also serves as part memoir, part hilarious insight into how an unwanted baby in the Midlands became the most wanted man in Texas and how he gained the largest fine in British History and everything else in between.

The book is available from all good bookshops and Amazon for around £12.

Although I was unable to get any recordings from the event, the show was an hour long. Well put together and had some great anecdotes from Jon about his life and career that spans 30 or so years, as well as his travel work for The Times and The Guardian here in the UK, as well as about his writing work and how the comedy industry worked.  There was a chance at the end for the audience to ask him questions about his career and then he was signing copies of his book at the end of the show. 

Nerdversity Reviews: Power Rangers Dino Charge T-Rex Launcher.

Released in the summer of 2015, The Dino Charge T-Rex Launcher is one of the last items in the Role Play toys category. It comes in the same open box as the rest of the toys with pictures showing how the toy works. The toy itself is secured in place with 2 pieces of elastic and it comes with the standard Red Charger. 

The back of the box shows a large picture of Red with the T-Rex Smasher (Gabutyra Fang in Japan), which is what this toy is based on. It shows instructions on how to put in the charger and fire the discs, an advert for the Dino Saber, Dino Com and the T-Rex Launcher.

Taking the toy out of the package and it's already evident that this doesn't fit in adult hands at all. The paint apps are nice, however could do with some extra detailing to make it look more like the show accurate model, being in a dark red, black and silver for the teeth.

Putting the charger in the back of the hand grip activates the head crest and pulling back on the trigger lifts the T-Rex head and changes the eye colour from green to yellow and then launches a disc across the room.

Speaking of the discs, there are 8 in the box, but the Launcher only fits 6, so at least there are 2 spare discs, in case any get lost. The discs themselves are quite large, come in a yellow colour and feature the Dino Charge logo on both sides, being mirrored on the "tails" side of the disc.

To insert the discs, simply lift up the top of the launcher, insert up to 6 of the discs and then close the lid. All 8 will not fit in the launcher and will pop the lid off, since it cannot close properly, 

The launcher comes with the same Red Dino Charger that came with the Morpher. Same workings and the QR code registers the same charger when scanned into the app. 

In all honesty, this isn't all that bad in terms of role play toys. It could have been more like the T-Rex Smasher from the show and been more like Hulk Hands, but as a disk launching toy, there's potential, especially for children. Adult collectors probably won't get the same value out of it and will probably let it collect dust in a box somewhere.