A Little Help From My Preds: DST’s Horribly Handy Collectibles

predator, bottle opener, refrigerator magnets, diamond select toys, dst

Diamond Select Toys Unmasked Predator Vinyl Bust Bank

Buddy Can You Spare A Dime…
The Unmasked Predator Vinyl Bust Bank, shown here from its debut at New York Toy Fair 2015, was one of my favorite Diamond Select Toys reveals back in February. It’s the most detailed of bust banks so far, trumping even the cranial convolutions of DST’s Metaluna Mutant.
predator, bottle opener, refrigerator magnets, diamond select toys, dst, alien facehugger, bust banks

Eli Livingston also sculpted these DST Alien Egg with Facehugger and Cthulu Bust Banks.

Giger Encounter…
As you can see, the predator sculpt by Eli Livingston is amazingly accurate (note shoulder blaster) and beautifully scary. Livingston has modeled several of the earlier bust bank series, including The Wolfman. Most recently he’s designed the Alien egg with face hugger and Lovecraft Cthulu banks recently released by Diamond Select. It’ll probably be no surprise to learn that the sculptor also worked with original Alien xenomorph creator the late H. R. Giger on several jewelry pieces based around Giger’s art. The Bomben Skull Ring is one of my faves which began as the volume and tone knobs for Ibanez Guitars’ H. R. Giger signature model.

At 8” high and under $23 the Predator Bust Bank is both shelf and wallet friendly. If you like big ugly things (aside from your bowling buddies) hanging around the “man-cave” and eating your spare change, this one’s for you.
predator, bottle opener, refrigerator magnets, diamond select toys, dst, cthulu bust bank

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A Little Left of Lidsville…
Now that summer is here, tracking prey can be exhausting and sweaty work. Whether you’re Count Zaroff playing a most dangerous game in fog hollow or a yautja hunter chasing Betty and Veronica around Riverdale, you could most likely use a cool brew. Unfortunately twist-offs aren’t de rigueur in all parts of the universe. No need to worry. The just released Unmasked Predator Bottle Opener is an impressive bit of kit from Diamond Select Toys will ensure you have the right weapon to get a quaff quickly.

predator, bottle opener, refrigerator magnets, diamond select toys, dst

Diamond Select Toy’s Unmasked Predator Bottle Opener (Photo Courtesy of Diamond Select Toys)

Pop Your Pop’s Top…
Though hitting the shelves this week, a wee bit late for Father’s Day, it would make a great conversation piece for collector dads at family picnics. Those who do not imbibe, or prefer cans and corks, can still enjoy its value as a beyond – the – ordinary refrigerator magnet, and a nice companion piece to DST’s Alien Xenomorph “church key” styled bottle opener.

SkeletonPete Says…
If utility is the order of the day for your continued collecting, then DST’s growing list of themed banks, pizza cutters, bottle openers, ice trays (and check out that Alien xenomorph Cookie Jar!) may be all you need to convince your spouse why this next purchase is must have for your household.

The Rain, the Dark, and Other Things: Silencio’s “She’s Bad”

silencio, she's bad, david lynch

Silencio’s “She’s Bad” album invokes David Lynch soundtracks, while its retro cover references the graphics of Saul Bass.

She’s Bad
Release Date: June 16, 2015

Kirk Salopek– Guitar
David Jamison– Drums
Matt Booth– Bass
Lee Hintenlang– Sax
Denny Karl– Keyboards
Dessa Poljak– Vocals

Lynch Mob…
Fans of 1950’s noir and 1960’s spy and surf film soundtracks will find a cozy sonic home in Silencio’s new album She’s Bad. Though the band describes itself as a tribute to the soundtracks of director David Lynch and his composer cohort Angelo Badalamenti, and continues to play live sets filled with those cues and themes, they have also expanded their scope with original compositions that emulate the progenitors of Lynch’s style. Doing so Silencio has produced a set of songs that stands in many ways as a musical history.

The album’s 18 tracks explore the components of what I term “outre wave”, the collision of rock-a-billy rawk, sunny surf, and greasy strip club rhythm and blues. For instance, “Surf Creep” is an amalgam of all the hallmarks of 60’s stinging twang, and could serve as a primer for those uninitiated to the sounds of The Ventures, Duane Eddy, Hank B. Marvin, and Vic Flick’s 007 guitar work.

“Low Down Dirge” strolls in the footsteps of Link Wray’s “Rumble.” The increasingly modulated, shattering, tremolo of Wray’s tune was also the inspiration for Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song.” “Passing Through Four Doors” offers a cool beatnik jazz groove that would serve as an alternate cue for Juliet Prowse and Sal Mineo to dance to in Who Killed Teddy Bear (1965).

A Shot in the Dark…
“Creeper” is a furtive trip into Henry Mancini territory that will have you visualizing the Inspector Clouseau cartoon character from Pink Panther title sequences. Mancini’s influence on this genre cannot be overstated. He might be viewed as its de facto godfather. His Peter Gunn and Pink Panther themes alone became the well spring and blueprint for a torrent TV themes including I Spy, The Avengers, Danger Man and Secret Agent Man, The Prisoner, The Munsters and even The Odd Couple.
dessa poljak, silencio, she's bad, david lynchOh, Dessa…
Lynch has notably injected Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams,” Little Jimmy Scott singing “Sycamore Trees,” and Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” into his soundscapes, and following suit Silencio smartly includes plenty of vocal tunes featuring Dessa Poljak, Silencio’s Betty Page meets Jessica Rabbit chanteuse. Her delivery harks back to Marilyn Monroe’s breathy style and she can perform a smoldering rendition of minor key blues, and genre touchstone, “I Put A Spell On You” in concert. The album’s title track shares some resemblance to that seminal Screamin’ Jay Hawkins tune, but resolves about a third of the way through to an interesting interlude, with big horns, that would not be out of place on a Cilla Black arrangement. Poljak also channels the icy edge of Twin Peaks‘ Julie Cruise, especially on “Dark Dreams,” which to my ear is the most Lynchian of offerings on the album.

Bad to the Bone…
She’s Bad not only delivers what it promises, a compendium of sounds that emulate Lynch’s soundtracks, but the album further succeeds because it has the “ring of truth.” These songs do not just ape their ancestry but add nicely to the genre at large. It’s clear that Silencio has grown from being sincere and proficient fans covering their favorite cues to exceptional purveyors of the sound they love.

SkeletonPete Says…
I will admit that when I first became aware of Silencio I was skeptical about their myopia for one auteur, but their ability to explore the roots of Lynch’s work on She’s Bad makes for a wider musical experience.

I’ve was lucky enough to hear Silencio live at New York’s Le Poisson Rouge (LPR) last season, and will be there again when the band returns this summer. I was happy to see that guitarist Kirk Salopek had discovered the virtues of New York luthier Jeff Kadlic’s Champtone Guitars, which I first encountered at the much missed Brooklyn Bowl Guitar Shows.

Dream A Little Dream: IDW Compiles New Little Nemo Tales

little memo, return to slumberland, idw, winsor mccay

Issues 1-4 of IDW’s “Little Nemo: Return To Slumberland” are compiled in this new trade paperback.

Little Nemo: Return To Slumberland

IDW Publishing
Trade Paperback (ISBN: 978-1-63140-322-4) $9.99 USD

Writer: Eric Shanower
Artist: Gabriel Rodriguez
Colorist: Nelson Dániel
Lettering/Collection Design: Robbie Robbins
Editing: Chris Ryall & Scott Dunbier

Release Date: June 17, 2015

Sweet Dreams ’til Sunbeams Find You…
As namesake of a famous Disney character AND coincidentally the best ever playmate of the Princess of Slumberland young James Nemo Summerton finds himself spirited into a series of nightly adventures when summoned to replace the original Little Nemo. This IDW Publishing release compiles the first four issues of Little Nemo: Return To Slumberland (begun in August 2014) into a single 88 page, digest-sized (6” X 9”), full color trade paperback.

Like Alice in Wonderland, Nemo enters a topsy turvy dream terrain where the laws of daytime physics do not apply. It’s the deftly drawn and daftly scripted handling of the premise that made cartoonist and writer Winsor McCay’s character so popular from its beginning in the pages of the New York Herald in 1905. A bold draftsman McCay often broke the fourth wall in his cartoon strips (Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend) and even went so far as to destroy the panel frames in his classic Little Sammy Sneeze.

little memo, return to slumberland, idw, winsor mccay

The nocturnal royals find a new Nemo in IDW’s “Return To Slumberland”

Stars Fading But I Linger On…
Sharing creative duties on Return To Slumberland are writer Eric Shanower and artist Gabriel Rodriguez. Return To Slumberland represents a new series of stories which contemporize the lead character but do not lack the visual grandiosity or inventiveness of the McCay strip. Slumberland’s architecture remains rooted in McCay’s homage to the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition (AKA Chicago World’s Fair) and fin de siecle Luna Park of Brooklyn’s Coney Island. Each panel is absolutely spectacular in detail and vibrant coloring (by Nelson Dániel), not only honoring the stylized work of McCay but later 20th Century work by Max Fleisher and Maxfield Parrish. Escapades in the “tessellated tower” give Rodriguez a chance to render his best M. C. Escher inspired dreamscapes. At one point our adventurers find themselves in a lake of india ink surrounded by dip pen spires and stacks of paper that I believe are a whimsical wink to the thousands of individually drawn pages McCay created for his early animated opuses, including Gertie The Dinosaur (1914).
little memo, return to slumberland, idw, winsor mccay

The “tessellated tower” pays homage to artist M. C. Escher’s mind-boggling graphics.

SkeletonPete Says…
This all-ages, Eisner Award nominated, book will be enjoyed by those who are read to, as well as those who read it to them. I believe it will be a keeper in any library and returned to often over years.

Little Nemo: Return To Slumberland is also a really wonderful way to introduce youngsters to the rich heritage of the graphic novel, fantasy art from Gustave Doré through Frank Frazetta, and a jumping off point to explore early cartoon animation. Go find Gertie the Dinosaur on YouTube, I had to buy it on 8mm reel.

The story’s updating has the added benefit of eschewing the extremely unfortunate sexist and ethnic characitures that, while “of their times,” mar some of the original strips for a modern audience. That said, those collectors who become enchanted by the little dreamer might avail themselves of Winsor McCay: The Complete Little Nemo the entire run of 549 strips in full color as a gigantic magnum opus from Taschen Publishing.

No Bikini Atoll: My Beach Party Blogathon 2015 Post


(Editor’s Note: Oowee, got in just under the wire with this one. Thanks to Ruth of Silver Screenings and Kristina of Speakeasy for a neat excuse to write about one of my all-time guiltiest pleasures.)

Oh man, it’s literally the eleventh hour for posting a review Speakeasy/Silver Screenings’ 2015 Beach Party Blogathon, so here goes…

The Ghostess with the Mostest…
Released in April of 1966, on the tail end of American International Pictures’ (AIP) beach party film chronology, The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (GitIB) stands as my favorite in the series.

What makes GitIB so much fun is its kitchen sink nature. It feels like there was a tacit acknowledgement that the “endless summer” of the surfin’ 60’s might actually be waning after all and a pull out all the stops attempt to buoy this baby was required. It shares a “more is better” affinity with the latter Universal Pictures monster rallies of House of Frankenstein and House of Dracula.

beach party films, beach party blogathon, ghost in the invisible bikini

Cecily (Susan Hart) hips her “Hiram Baby” (Boris Karloff) to his new existence.

Too Much Monkey Business…
Couched in the – even then – hackneyed trappings of the “Old Dark House,” The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini could pass for a live Scooby Doo episode. It also greatly resembles the previous generation’s Kay Kyser vehicle You’ll Find Out, (1940) even sharing Boris Karloff as a cast member. The one twist in the script is that the villains have no idea they are being thwarted by real ghosts. Those ghosts are portrayed by Susan Hart, as Cecily, the titular see-thru character, and Karloff as former carnival owner Hiram Stokely, her surprised to find himself deceased beau.
beach party films, beach party blogathon, ghost in the invisible bikini

Gorilla My Dreams: Mighty Monstro in classic carrying the heroine mode.

Poe Knows…
The rest of the large GitIB cast is run through a series of the oldest story and sight gags in theatrical history. There’s an inheritance at stake, a multitude of revolving walls, secret passages and falling chandeliers, portraits that watch you, an escaped carnival gorilla, damsel in distress on a buzz saw, a grand guignol waxworks, and a string of Mack Sennet style chases. Fans of Roger Corman‘s Edgar Allan Poe films can have a heyday perusing this movie’s mis en scene. To my eye Stokley’s chamber of horrors was also the set of many an AIP EAP romp. Can anyone help out with specifics here?

Original series leads Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello are replaced by another post-Disney kid, Tommy Kirk, and Deborah Walley in the hero and heroine roles. Beach film stalwart Harvey Lembeck, does mega slapstick throughout, returning for his last ride as motorcycle gang leader Eric Von Zipper.

Other cast members are a convergence of old and new Hollywood of the mid-1960’s. It’s an aspect the film shares with the contemporaneous Batman TV series, which premiered on ABC TV a few months earlier. Karloff, Basil Rathbone, Patsy Kelly, Jesse Young, and even Francis X. Bushman appear alongside the bevy of beach kids, with Rat Pack scion Nancy Sinatra and Claudia Martin representing a changing of the guard.

beach party films, beach party blogathon, ghost in the invisible bikini

Nancy Sinatra sings “Geronimo” backed by the Bobby Fuller Four.

Teardrop City…
Sinatra offers a catchy pop tune “Geronimo,” backed by The Bobby Fuller Four. Fuller can be seen gyrating wildly through the instrumental “Swing A-Ma Thing” wielding an awesome Vox white teardrop guitar. The group serves as “house band” throughout the film. All songs are credited to series regulars Guy Hemric and Jerry Styner. The Les Baxter soundtrack is augmented by drip-drop reverb laden sound effects.
beach party films, beach party blogathon, ghost in the invisible bikini

Susan Hart, as the transparent title character, boogies through the end credits with the AIP teen troupe

SkeletonPete Says…
Historically Ghost in the Invisible Bikini represents a last innocent romp prior to the LSD exploitation and sensationalism of films like Riot On Sunset Strip, Pysch-Out and The Trip. Those films in turn presaged studio system killers like Five Easy Pieces and Easy Rider. Think of the cultural gap between The Monkees’ September 1966 pilot episode and their cinematic swansong Head and you’ll get my point.

I love the film because it incapsulates my late pre-teens with remembrances of the aforementioned Batman and Monkees TV series, The Munsters, Aurora plastic model monster kits, Famous Monsters of Filmland and Monster World magazines, Top 40 from a transistor radio speaker, The Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations” on the AM airwaves, and begging my pop to take me to see Karloff in AIP’s Lovecraft adaptation Die Monster, Die.

Once Upon A Time in Battleworld: Marvel’s “1872” #1

marvel comics, secret wars, battle world, war zones, captain america, 1872

Artist Skottie Young illustrates his youthful spin on Sheriff Steve Rogers for this Marvel “1872” #1 variant cover.

Younger Than Yesterday…
Fans of artist Skottie Young can mount their hobby horses and wave their 10 gallon hats for the just revealed variant cover of Marvel Comics1872 #1 on sale July 1, 2015. I love Young’s “little kid” spin on the superheroes of Marvel. They rarely fail to make me smile. I hope his designs find their way into an expanded line of collector toys and figures.

marvel comics, secret wars, battle world, war zones, captain america, 1872

Nik Virella handles the interior art for Marvel’s “1872” #1.

Red, White, and Blue Badge of Courage…
The Secret Wars story, written by Gerry Duggan and drawn by Nik Virella, follows Steve Rogers (Captain America) as the sheriff of a small town called Timely (wink, wink) in the burgeoning American West of the 19th century. It joins the juggernaut of announced Battleworld warzones rattling the Marvel universe to shreds.

Other cover variations by artists Alex Maleev and Evan “Doc” Shaner reveal town casino kingpin Wilson Fisk, a gamma green “snake oil” elixir being brewed by a certain Dr. Bruce Banner, native American Red Wolf, and The Vision!

marvel comics, secret wars, battle world, war zones, captain america, 1872

Evan “Doc” Shaner variant cover for Marvel’s “1872” #1.

SkeletonPete Says…
Seems like time to put on an Ennio Morricone soundtrack, kick back with a shot of “rot gut”, and dig into a very different view of your favorite superheroes and villains.
marvel comics, secret wars, battle world, war zones, captain america, 1872

Marvel Comics’ “1872” #1 cover by Alex Maleev.