Two Podcasts and a Comic Strip!

3591481091_6f63ecfd4eI’ve been very lax in posting news, due to NaNoWriMo, but there are three things I wanted to let everyone know about.

The first two are related to the Tupacast! After a several months long hiatus after we discussed Stranger Things on episode 15, we are back up and running again. It might be too late to listen to our Halloween memories episode, unless you enjoy candy. But it was still a good one. Our most recent topic was the awesome 80s flick Throw Mamma From the Train, which I had never seen before but enjoyed very much.

Episode 16 – Halloween Time!!

Episode 17 – Throw Mama From the Train

The last bit of news is very exciting. I am working with my buddy Brandon Pennington on a new comic strip. We’ve entitled it “Geek on Fleek Comix” which sounds good but who knows what it means? I don’t. We’ve got two strips up so far, and we’re planning to release new ones every Monday and Thursday. Stay tuned for a bigger announcement about the comics soon, but in the meantime, check out Brandon’s Instagram for the latest strips. For now, enjoy the two below!

NaNoWriMO 2016 – Final Update

book-textbookNovember has come and gone, and thus NaNoWriMo 2016 has also come to an end. I started the month with the beginning of what I thought would be a short story. I set a goal to make it a novella by the end of the month. It’s not quite there yet, but after connecting the dots here and there, and taking the ending beyond the bare bones, I do indeed have something publishable on my hands.

This year, I kept track of my output in a Google Sheet. I wrote 21 out of the 30 days in November. I began with 4,640 words, and ended with 26,078 just before midnight on December 1. That is 4,000 words short of my original goal, but I don’t mind that at all. You can see my progress in the nifty chart below. I love data!

So what next? I did write just a bit on December 1, just to get a bit closer to the end. Now, I’m in the middle of taking a few weeks off. I plan to come back to it over the holiday break, finish it up, and get the edits and such going in order to publish as an ebook by February. I have a con appearance coming up in March, and I would like to get physical copies ready for that if possible.

Here’s a final excerpt from the story, which I’ve decided to call “The Thing from the Drive In”. Enjoy!

Then, a deep bass rumble filled the air, and a spiraling burst of light shot out of the marble, heading over my shoulder. I turned as the dazzling lights zipped in an arc across all the rows of parked cars. On the movie screen, the scene changed, showing a closeup of the Thing that Time Forgot. The Thing opened its gigantic maw, filled with huge, razor sharp teeth. The horn on its snout glowed with radioactive green flame. It began to roar just as the blast of light from the marble hit the screen. Thousands of rainbow colored sparks exploded from the surface of the screen, raining down over the first few rows of cars. The Thing let forth a scream of primal fury, but this time, the sound wasn’t coming from the tinny speakers next to the cars. This time, the roar was coming from the screen itself.

 

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NaNoWriMo 2016 – First Update

writing-1209121_960_720I wrote most of the words in my two books during NaNoWriMo, the first in 2013-2014, the second last year. This year, I am continuing the tradition. This time around, I’m actually writing fiction for NaNoWriMo, which his more appropriate since it is supposed to be about writing a novel, after all. I’m finishing up a fun tale I started in April. On Halloween, it sat at 4,640 words, and now, before I begin writing today, the 12th, I’m at 9,425 total words. My goal is to hit 30,000 words by the end of the month. That is short of a novel, in the novella range, I guess, but if the story fits in that space, it fits.

Here’s an excerpt from the new story.

My bed never looked more inviting. I took off my jeans and threw them on the floor, then walked over to the small black and white TV set I got for my birthday and turned the knob. A rerun of one of my favorite episodes of Stellar Warlords was on. It was the perfect thing to fall asleep watching. I didn’t even bother changing into my PJs before turning back the covers and propping myself up on my pillow.

Captain Schattmore of the Spacestar Thunderhawk was stuck on a desert planet with his arch enemy, the Martian Emperor Lar’sonis. Schattmore was one of the coolest heroes in all of science fiction. He was smart as well as strong, and had a predilection for alien women in skimpy outfits. (I wouldn’t mind if my future wife had purple skin and antennae if she was as pretty as Lunetta Ludbaalaup from Galaktika-III.) The head Martian bad guy, Lar’sonis, was a perfect foil to Captain Schattmore. Lar’sonis had four arms ending in claws, a slitlike nose, and enormous glowing red orbs for eyeballs. He wore a suit of high tech armor with all sorts of futuristic gadgets on it.

In this episode, though, aliens had sent these two mortal enemies to a strange planet where they had to fight one another without the benefit of any of their technology. No phason pistols, no communicatrix, no force field armor, nothing. Of course, the planet was full of all sorts of dangerous stuff, like rock slides, a mutant lizard, and atomic solar flares. The Captain and the Martian Emperor had just realized the importance of working together before I slipped off into a deep, dreamless sleep.

Movie Review: Shin Godzilla

godzilla-resurgenceEarlier this month, I was quite excited to watch the newest Godzilla movie. For many, this wouldn’t be a big deal, but for me, it was a very special day. I enjoyed the last American Godzilla movie in 2014, but I’ve always had a special place in my heart for the Japanese series. The last of those, the poorly named Godzilla Final Wars, came out in 2004. Twelve years later, Toho Studios  is back with Shin Godzilla. We drove three hours to the nearest theater showing it, the Alamo Drafthouse in Kansas City. It was a great experience, start to finish.

I wouldn’t usually mention the theater itself in a movie review, but the Alamo Drafthouse is worth talking about. It was my first time at one of these establishments, and it was probably the best trip to the movies I’ve ever had. Instead of playing boring commercials before the show, we were treated to a delightful series of Godzilla-related shorts. Several vintage trailers for older Godzilla movies made up the bulk of the pre-show. There was a brief bit of a Godzilla Island episode (a late 90s TV series that used actual action figures for the monster scenes). I especially loved the Spectreman clip and Bambi Meets Godzilla. All the quirky stuff they showed us got me even more hyped for the film itself.

I’ve been to exactly one theater that served food other than popcorn and pretzels before. It was less than amazing to eat bad chicken tenders and average french fries while sitting in a standard theater seat. The Alamo Drafthouse does it much differently. A helpful waiter took our order before the movie began. Just as the theater darkened, he returned, delivering our drinks and popcorn unobtrusively. There was a narrow table running the length of each row, very convenient for holding drinks and food. About a half hour in, our burgers arrived. They were fantastic. Connor and I had fries, while my wife chose to have hers on a bowl of greens and other salad-like stuff. Our drinks and popcorn were refilled every twenty minutes or so. Never once did the wait staff interrupt the movie, even when helping other people. The food was much better than I was expecting, and just added to the wonderful time we had watching the movie.

So what about the movie then? Was Shin Godzilla any good? I think it was great, and I’ll tell you why. We are now entering a spoiler zone, so if you haven’t seen the movie, you might want to stop reading.

 

 

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p9-schilling-shingodzilla-a-20160804-870x490Ever since the first Godzilla in 1954, all subsequent movies called back to the original monster. Even when the series was rebooted in 1984, 2000, and beyond, there was always a plot point about the return of the creature. Shin Godzilla abandons this concept. For the first time in over five decades, Godzilla is brand new, something never seen before, without any historical precedent. It’s refreshing to see Godzilla treated in this way. When you don’t automatically know it’s a giant radioactive reptilian monster, it adds to the sense of dread and danger of it all.

Compounding the sheer terror about what Godzilla might be is the shifting appearance of the creature throughout the film. At first, Godzilla is more a meteorological phenomenon, causing floods and such. Then a gargantuan tail and spiky back appear, causing panic. When Godzilla finally makes landfall, it looks far more alien than any version we’ve seen before. Initially, you see large, googly eyes which are almost comical, but then the undulating, tadpole-like nature of the beast is revealed and it’s horrifying. Over time, Godzilla evolves into more and more dangerous forms, before eventually taking on the more traditional bipedal stance. Even in this iteration, however, Godzilla is a far more revolting abomination than it has ever been before.

The historical theme for Godzilla has always been the dangers of nuclear weapons. In Shin Godzilla, the focus shifts away from the threat of external nuclear powers. The context is clearly the Fukushima disaster from 2011. Again and again, the government is portrayed as slow and ineffective in its response to Godzilla. These same concerns have been voiced concerning the release of radioactive material from the Fukushima nuclear plant after damage from a tsunami. In Shin Godzilla, bureaucrats are indecisive when dealing with the threat of the monster, and their ineptitude costs many Japanese lives. After one particularly grueling scene, many of the “old guard” politicians are killed, leaving behind only minor officials who are even less prepared to deal with Godzilla. It’s refreshing to see these new themes being used in a Godzilla film.

downloadOne of the best things about a giant monster movie is seeing a huge creature tear up a city. In Shin Godzilla, the level of destruction is off the charts. Not only is Godzilla now bigger than any previous iteration, it has more raw power than ever before. The classic atomic breath is brilliantly realized, and both awesome and awful in its use. The new ability to shoot beams from the back spines and tail is somewhat controversial, but I felt it made sense and was executed well. There is a sense of absolute hopelessness when seeing the sheer entropic force that Godzilla has. There is a sense of an ever growing death toll, something that is often glossed over in other kaiju films. This gives the scenes of destruction much more emotional impact than you’d expect.

As far as the special effects go, Shin Godzilla easily has the best of any previous Toho film. It compares quite favorably to the 2104 Godzilla, though Shin Godzilla had but a fraction of the budget of the American film. Not once did I think “MAN IN SUIT” while watching. Suitmation was likely still used but it looked brilliant, regardless. The cinematography was quite unique, much different than the standard monster movie fare, and the soundtrack was a great balance between classic themes and modern style. It’s easily the most cinematic film in the series since the original way back in the 50s.

I simply adored Shin Godzilla, and can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s a big change from previous films, for certain, but not an upsetting one. The film seems to have been a big hit, and the ending was quite ambiguous, making it likely that a sequel will eventually come. I am very excited to see what direction Toho goes in the next Godzilla film. The little kid in me just can’t wait to see this new, creepy Godzilla take on another monster, if indeed that’s the direction they go. But they might not. That’s fine too, as there are still plenty of interesting stories that could be told with just the Big G alone…

Help Us Raise Money for Sick Kids! Extra Life 2016

extralife_origFriends and Family,

When my nephew Corbin was just a couple weeks old, he got very sick and had to be taken to Children’s Hospital in St. Louis. It was a very scary time for our family, but due to the efforts of the doctors, nurses, and staff at Children’s, Corbin had successful open-heart surgery and he has been in great health ever since.

For several years now, in honor of Corbin, I have participated in a gaming marathon called Extra Life. Extra Life is a fundraiser for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Millions of dollars have been raised by Extra Life since 2008.

This year, I am doing something a bit different for Extra Life: my Pioneers students will be joining me for 12 hours of gaming! On Thursday, November 3, starting at 9:00 AM, we will begin our gaming session. Our goal is to play board games, card games, and of course video games all throughout the day, even after school! The gaming will wrap up at 9:00 PM. We are planning to webcast the gaming session live, and my students will be doing commentary and that sort of thing. Our webstream will be posted at the Pioneers website located here.

I’ve set a fundraising goal of $1000 for us. You can donate by clicking the blue Extra Life logo above. All of the money goes straight to meeting the needs of sick kids, so any little bit helps! I’m looking forward to playing some games, but the best part is doing some good for others while we play!

Thank you!

So I Have a Flea Market Booth Now…

img_20161012_183121238Because I am either A) insane, B) foolish, C) easily bored, or D) all of the above, I am now the proud renter of a flea market booth. Over the years we have accumulated lots of cool stuff, and sooner or later, for most of the stuff, we decide we don’t need it any longer. Some of the more expensive stuff goes on Ebay, some of the cheap stuff goes to garage sales or gets donated. There are some things in that sweet spot in between the two extremes that make great flea market material.

I’m not sure I really thought it all the way through before I began. It turns out that a flea market booth is a lot, and I mean LOTS of work. Gathering stuff up took most of a Saturday. There were debates about exactly how many Spider-Man figures we should keep for my nephews and potential future grandchildren. Several spare Power Rangers were missings hands or legs. I was willing to get rid of  many of my comics, but some weren’t bagged when I bought them and weren’t in good enough condition to sell. Once we had a fair sized collection of things nice enough to sell, but not so nice we couldn’t live without it, we moved on to pricing. Writing prices and wrapping little stringed tags on action figures takes a while.  And that’s if you know exactly what they are worth (very hard to determine in most cases). For books, DVDs, and video games, I printed prices on address labels. It took so much longer to get this done than I had anticipated.

But that was before we ever made it to the booth. There was still much work to be done. First, I had to shop for stuff to display my stuff on. Even goijng with inexpensive options, we spent well over $100 on shelving, pegboard bits, and other incidentals. Carrying all the shelves, comics, books, and other stuff wasn’t exactly easy on my back, either. And then there was the assembly. A running joke in our home is “I’m not Bob Freakin’ Vila” and putting all the shelves and things together was way outside my comfort zone.

However, many dollars, tablets of ibuprofen, and hours later, the booth is done (enough) in time for the first day the new Flea Market is open. I am hopeful that I will at least make my money back!

Why I Love the Godzilla Movies of the 90s

PopCultureLeague-Logo-BigThe Pop Culture League challenge this week is another great one. Here There Be Monsters! I knew exactly what I wanted to write about: the King of Monsters himself, Godzilla! I have been a big fan of Godzilla ever since I was a kid. My first exposure to the big G was at the public library, in the Crestwood Monster series of books. I read all those books over and over again, but Godzilla was my favorite. (I’m lucky enough to still have a set of those books today!) Godzilla made frequent appearances on Saturday TV, and I remember watching many of the older Showa series Godzilla films on a grainy black and white TV set in my bedroom. We also rented Godzilla ’85 several times in the late 80s.

Then, in 1997, a new Godzilla movie came out. It wasn’t great, by any stretch of the imagination, but it did get me to thinking about my favorite monster again. By 1999, I was married and had a five year old son. In October of that year, AMC ran its annual Monsterfest, and ran nearly all the Godzilla movies, including several that I had never seen before. It turns out that they kept on making Godzilla movies after 1985! I was thrilled to learn about this, and went online to find out more about them. Between our VCR tape of Monsterfest and obtaining a few releases on VHS (thankfully plentiful due to the marketing of the ’97 American movie), my son and I were able to watch all the movies in what is known as the Heisei era. We watched them time and time again, wearing out the tapes. When son #2 arrived, we upgraded to DVD and eventually Blu-Ray. We rewatched all the 90s era movies in preparation for the 2014 American Godzilla, and with a new Japanese Godzilla being released this year, I decided to go through my favorite era in Godzilla history one more time. Here are quick reviews and ratings of each of these great films.

the_return_of_godzilla_poster_japan_1The Return of Godzilla (AKA Godzilla 1985)

In 1984, Toho brought back Godzilla after over a decade off. No longer the good natured defender of Earth, this time Godzilla was back to his roots as an unstoppable destructive force of nature. I have, as of this writing, only ever seen the American release of the film, which added in Raymond Burr, just as the 1950s Godzilla did. We had this on VHS, but it was extremely hard to get on DVD. Just last month, the movie was released on Blu-Ray. I am looking forward to watching the original, un-Americanized version for the first time.

Rating: 3 out of 5 Dr. Pepper Ads

Godzilla vs. Biollante

This is a solid entry. A scientist merges Godzilla cells with those of plants, hoping they will be able to thrive in desert conditions. Terrorists attack, destroying the cells and, sadly, killing the scientist’s daughter. The grief stricken father merges her cells with those of a rose, in order to keep her soul around. He also manages to add in Godzilla cells, because why not? The resulting creature is a plant-Godzilla hybrid, which is one of the coolest looking monsters you will ever see. Eventually, the big G shows up, there’s a titanic tussle or two, and it’s over. Weird, and quite dark for the series, but very watchable.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Angry Roses

mecha_king_ghidorahGodzilla vs. King Ghidorah

This is my personal favorite of ALL Godzilla films! It has literally everything. Time travellers from the future come to 1991 to meet an author. They plan to test his theory: Godzilla was a”Lost World” type dinosaur on a Pacific Island that mutated after exposure to radiation from nuclear weapons. They all go back in time, planning to destroy Godzilla before he is created. However, the future people leave behind three strange “pets”. Upon returning to the present, the critters have been mutated in Godzilla’s place, turning into King Ghidorah! The evil future people plan to use the three headed abomination to knock Japan down a peg, as they are the world leader in the 23rd century. The army uses a nuclear sub to recreate Godzilla (say what?), and the Big G and King Ghidorah fight! Godzilla wins, then attacks Tokyo. Everything looks bad, but then the sole friendly future traveller saves the day, piloting a cybernetically rebuilt version of King Ghidorah and drives Godzilla off. It’s absolutely nuts, from start to finish, and I love it.

Rating: 6 out of 5 Time Paradoxes

Godzilla Vs. Mothra: Battle for Earth

One of the things I liked about the Heisei era Godzilla movies was the continuity from one to the next. One of the major recurring themes is that humans are destroying the environment. Mothra appears in this one, returning after many classic appearances, in her traditional role as defender of humanity. Her darker foil, new character Battra, fights instead to defend the planet itself. The two come into conflict, because SYMBOLISM. Godzilla shows up, naturally, and he’s pretty much against both humans AND the earth. Mothra and Battra put aside their differences and take him on in both larva and flying form. The fight scenes in this one are particularly great. The fairy twins and their song are among our favorite parts of the entire franchise.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Gooey Webs

godzilla-vs-mechagodzilla-2-4Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla II

I love robots, and I love Godzilla, so it’s no surprise that I also love Mechagodzilla. Toho triple dips here by bringing back two more classic monsters, in addition to everyone’s favorite metal dinosaur. Rodan returns, also evolving into a more menacing flaming form known as Fire Rodan (makes sense). You’ll either love or hate the third returning alumnus: baby Godzilla! I’m not a big fan of the tyke, honestly. I know it seems odd to say it, in a genre known for goofiness, but the baby is just a bit too cheesy for my taste. Still, this one has Mechagodzilla and some great fight scenes, so I’ll bump it up higher than it by all rights should be.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Adorable Roars

Godzilla Vs. Space Godzilla

After the last movie drew heavily from the roster of classic monsters, we have a new main villain in this one. Pay attention here, or you might get lost. So apparently some Godzilla cells from Biollante escaped into space, and made their way through a black hole. The cells came out and formed into an evil version of Godzilla, with all sorts of spiky glowing crystals on its body. Sound weird? That’s because it is. It doesn’t make much sense at all, but really, is that a bad thing? Baby Godzilla is unfortunately back and more cutesy than ever. I love the way Space Godzilla looks, and the human-controlled combiner robot Mogera is pretty sweet. Still, this is unquestionably the weakest entry from the Heisei era.

Rating: 2 out of 5 Skreeonks

haneda3Godzilla Vs. Destroyer

After years of absorbing radiation, Godzilla is overheating. If he goes critical, Earth will be destroyed in the ensuing explosion. Scientists develop a freezing ray and use it to cool off the Big Red G. Meanwhile, baby Godzilla is now larger and renamed Godzilla Junior. The main baddie, Destroyer, is composed of multiple smaller critters that merge and evolve in several stages. Junior fights Destroyer, who hurts the little guy badly just as Godzilla arrives, red hot and ready to explode. The big guy fights valiantly then goes into meltdown. The resulting surge of energy defeats Destroyer, and then Godzilla dissolves into goo. Suddenly, the radiation levels fall, reviving Junior, who is now full sized! This was lots of fun, and a great send-off to the series, for sure.

Rating: 5 out of 5 Freezing Lasers

In ten days, I will be watching the latest Japanese Godzilla film! It’s called Godzilla Resurgence, or Shin Godzilla. I’ve tried to avoid spoilers since its release in Japan over the summer. It’s a shame I have to drive three hours away to get to a theater that’s actually showing the movie, but that’s just fandom for you. I’ll be sure to write a review with my thoughts on the new movie here!

Here are some of the other league entries for the week, or you can check them all out here.

Transformers Prints by Tom Whalen

800px-dw_20th_anniversary_lithograph_imageWhile the majority of my Transformers collection is toys, I’ve also amassed many other types of items. I’ve got dozens of Transformers comics, several vintage coloring and activity books, even a Choose Your Own Adventure style story featuring my favorite Transformers characters.

Transformers illustrations are some of my favorite pieces in my collection. I loved the recent book Transformers Legacy: The Art of Transformers Packaging. There are some boxes that I’ve kept simply because I love the design and the pictures. I have several posters, as well, and two I especially enjoy are framed in my office. One is an Optimus Prime mosaic Botcon exclusive from 199. The other by from one of my favorite comic artists, Don Figueroa, and features every single Generation 1 character, in honor of the 20th anniversary of the toyline back in 2004.

imagesLast month, I read an article over at the Retroist about a new series of prints from artist Tom Whalen. I didn’t recognize Tom’s name, but I did recognize his style. A previous illustration of his served as my iPad wallpaper for well over a year. I had actually looked for the lithograph of this amazing image but it was unfortunately well outside my price range. The new prints, headshots of iconic Autobots, were more affordable, so I jumped at the chance.

I paid a little extra for the variant editions, which are printed on paper with a metallic finish. You couldn’t really tell much difference in pictures online, but I suspected the effect would be worthwhile in person. I couldn’t have been more right! The prints arrived last night and I was awestruck when I opened them. The clean lines and bold colors look incredible on the silvery sheen of the prints. My bad camera and terrible light setup don’t do them justice.

My original plan was to keep only Optimus and Prowl, and trade or Ebay the rest. However, after seeing them in person, there’s no way I am getting rid of Bumblebee, Ratchet, or Jazz. I can’t wait to get all five prints suitably framed and on display in my office. I’m sure it will take some willpower to not purchase the Decepticon versions immediately, or resist splurging on the larger lithograph which is available on Ebay right now…

Top 10 Seasons of Power Rangers

PopCultureLeague-Logo-Big

The Pop Culture League Challenge this week is a simple one: Top 10! I immediately started thinking of what I could rank. Transformers? Maybe, but I couldn’t narrow it to ten, in all likelihood. Godzilla movies? An intriguing thought, but I already have another post brewing regarding the King of Monsters. Maybe something about comic book superheroes? Again, same problem as Transformers: where do I start?

And then it occurred to me, why not discuss a franchise that blends my love for robots, actors in suits destroying model cities, and super heroes? Power Rangers is one of my favorite television shows of all time. I loved it from the first time I saw it way back in 1993, and have watched it ever since. I haven’t seen every single episode of every season, but I’ve seen the lion Zord’s share of them, for sure. I love the toys as well; at one point, we (me and my boys) had all but five American release Megazords. My Power Rangers toy buying has slowed since my kids are nearly fully grown now, but I still try to stay current. Someday, I hope to have grandkids, and they will need all of these toys, you see…

So, without further delay, here are my choices for the Top 10 seasons of Power Rangers!

 

4068896#10 – Mystic Force

When I first saw the suits for this season, I thought wow, capes! It’s like superheroes! Next, I saw the Megazord with the wizard hat, and thought nope, that won’t work. Then I actually watched the show, and it turned out fine. The magic themes were a total Harry Potter ripoff, but I like Harry Potter, so it was cool. Mashing spells and magic formulas up with PR elements was a good fit. This show also had one of the best bad guys ever: Koragg, the Knight Wolf, who turned into a centaur Megazord!

 

lost-galaxy-magna-defender#9 – Lost Galaxy

The first totally new set of Power Rangers, and also the biggest budget for any season ever. The big draw here, for us, was the Magna Defender. His costume was awesome, his anti-hero attitude was unique, and he could grow to huge size and drive his bull-shaped Megazord. My son dressed up as Magna Defender for Halloween, and later wore the suit out from playing in it. Another fun memory was the long series of new episodes that aired on weekdays during the fall. Coming home after school and watching new episodes of Power Rangers together with my kindergartner curled up next to me was wonderful.

 

all_10_dino_super_charge_rangers#8 – Dino (Super) Charge

Power Rangers had been in a long term slump before this came out. The two series preceding it, Samurai and Mega Force, were both two years long, and also terrible. Then this season, based on the classic dinosaur theme, appeared and made up for six years of bad shows. The acting is much better than the norm, and it’s a large Ranger team which I always enjoy. The only negative is the Megazords, which have a sort of superdeformed look I don’t particularly care for. However, there are tons of them, and they are all prehistoric creatures, so it’s hard to complain!

 

photo-sep-28-10-05-26-am#7 – Lightspeed Rescue

Many fans will disagree with me, but I really liked this season. The Megazords are among the best toys the line has ever seen, with tons of interactivity and play value. The Supertrain Megazord, especially, looked fantastic, and it was gigantic, too. The sixth ranger for this season, Ryan, the Titanium Ranger, was the first American-only Ranger ever, and his story arc was interesting. The demonic villains were quite creepy, almost too scary for my kiddos at certain points in their development. I loved the season-long interplay between Green Ranger Joel and his crush, Miss Fairweather.

 

hqdefault#6 – Jungle Fury

Too many Zords? Maybe, but who cares when each one is totally cool? We enjoyed this show so much I ended up importing all the major toys from Japan just to have them in the proper scale. That may seem silly to some, but when daddy loves giant robots and the kids show those puppy dog eyes, well… I’m a sucker. The characters were fun, especially the mentor and eventual Purple Ranger, RJ. The best part, though, was the set of three new Rangers created just for the American market: Shark, Elephant, and Bat Rangers! Amazing villains, too. Not much to complain about with this one!

 

tumblr_lvoq62dxhm1r5mk62o1_1280#5 – MMPR Season 2

In college, I worked at an after-school program. When Power Rangers began airing, it immediately became a “drop everything and watch” activity. I enjoyed the show with 30 or so kids every day and thought “wow, it’s like real life Voltron, but with dinosaurs!” I was hooked. The formula had gotten a bit stale towards the end of season 1, but then the new season came out and changed everything. New Zords! New villains! Tommy lost his powers, then regained them, becoming a new Ranger color in the process! The Thunder Megazord is one of my favorites, to this day. This season set the bar high for the rest of the series to follow.

 

Image result for shadow ranger spd#4 – SPD

My sons were 4 and 11 when this came out, so both of them were totally into it, and as a dad, that meant I was totally into it too! This may be the best cast, top to bottom, of any season. We particularly loved the hilarious Green Ranger, Bridge. There was a uniformity to the design of the Megazords that looked great and was quite appropriate for the tech police theme. This season also has my favorite Ranger of all time, the Shadow Ranger. His costume was totally sweet, all steel blue and black. He had the best fight scene in PR history, where he took out 100 minions in one minute. Topping it all off, he was a dog-headed alien. What more needs to be said?

 

147fe8602b24e3f124e5f8aae999836b#3 – In Space

This series was the one airing when I started dating my wife-to-be and her 3 year old son. Introducing him to the show is one of my fondest memories. This was the end of the continuity heavy Zordon era, and it went out in style. The “evil Ranger” theme is one that is oft repeated, but it was never handled as well as with the Psycho Rangers. The spaceship themed Megazords were slick, and truly stood out compared to their predecessors, which were mostly animal based. One of the best PR villains, Astronema, tops it all off, making this season stand up well against the best the series has to offer.

 

mezodon-megazord#2 – Dino Thunder

The series makes a triumphant return to its prehistoric roots, and it was wonderful. Fan favorite former Ranger Tommy came back as the series mentor. When he finally suited up again as the Black Ranger… it was goosebumps all over. The Zords were fantastic, probably the best animal-based forms across the whole series. Zeltrax, Elsa, and Mesogog were menacing villains, very fun to watch. Additionally, the two lead male Rangers were named Connor and Ethan; these are my youngest son’s first and middle names. The episode “Fighting Spirit”, where Tommy has a vision in which he fights his previous alter egos, is a delight. I also enjoyed the episode where the Rangers watch a “Japanese ripoff” of their own exploits. Deliciously meta!

 

power-rangers-time-force-167081#1 – Time Force

This one stands head and shoulders above the rest. A team of police from the future travel back in time to hunt down an escaped mutant terrorist. The best Pink Ranger ever, Jen, is the team leader, and she is awesome. There’s an intriguing season long romantic subplot between Jen and Wes, the modern-times Red Ranger, who looks suspiciously like her dead boyfriend from the future. Time travel wasn’t emphasized as much as I would like, but there are still some “fix the timeline” shenanigans. The Quantum Ranger (who is also Red! Two Red Rangers? Sweet!) was a particularly interesting sixth ranger, far more mercenary than you’d expect from a kids’ show. He also piloted a giant silver and red Tyrannosaurus, which is one of the best Zords ever. The Time Force Megazord was a quadruple-changer, extremely unusual, having two different humanoid robot forms and a giant jet mode as well as the individual ships. This series is more what I would now call “CW style”, but this totally worked. Time Force remains unsurpassed among Power Rangers seasons.

 

Here are some highlights from the other Top 10 Lists, check them all out at Cool & Collected:

A Box Chock Full of Vintage Awesome

As a follow up to the Pop Culture League blind box challenge from several weeks ago, Cool & Collected offered up mystery boxes to those of us who participated. For the low price of $20, I jumped at the chance of opening a box full of unknown but surely totally cool stuff. Lo and behold, last weekend, a rather heavy box was dropped off at my front door.

I was totally shocked with how much stuff was packed in the box! It just happened that my nephew, who is 4 years old, was at our house. He joined me, my wife, and our fifteen year old son as we gleefully went through it all. Check the pictures below for the full record, but here are some highlights!

  • As a Transformers fan, I was tickled to see Air Raid, a robot who transforms into a black jet. It’s my first vintage Aerialbot, oddly enough. Also: my first Happy Meal transformer, a hamburger! Always wanted to get these.
  • My wife is a Snoopy fan, and I love outer space… Astronaut Snoopy is perfect!
  • The 45 record of “Buy the World a Coke” makes me want to buy a record player.
  • An A-Team stamp? MOSC? Yes please!
  • You can never have enough Jawas.
  • I now own action figures from Hook and Water World. I never thought I’d be able to say that.
  • Even the comics were great choices: Iron Man, Indiana Jones, and NFL SuperPro!
  • I need to get a poster up in the game room for all the cool vintage stickers I’ve now amassed…

Major props to Brian at Cool & Collected. We had such a great time opening this stuff!