Dress Your Wounds: Dark Horse’s “Archie Vs. Predator” Finale

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Mud Honeys Betty and Veronica grace Andrew Pepoy’s cover for the final “Archie Versus Predator installment.

Archie Versus Predator #4
Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Alex de Campi
Penciller: Fernando Ruiz
Inker: Rich Koslowski
Colorist: Jason Millet
Cover Artist: Andrew Pepoy

#BFF’s, Battle Friends Forever…
The end is nigh but what started out as a “you can’t be serious” concept turned out to be a ridiculously fun excursion into post-millennial farce. Issue 4 of Dark Horse ComicsArchie Versus Predator finds the last few Riverdale residents intact preparing for their ultimate fight for survival, while also attempting to stay well appointed in the best of togs.

With a cover blurb like “Frenemies No More” it’s no spoiler to tell you that our forever teenage gal rivals Betty and Veronica make formidable foes for the extraterrestrial hunter in the finale.

Author Alex de Campi has kept the plot unpredictable and the action on high, ramping up the body count on an issue by issue basis. The swift scenarios almost make you forget that iconic characters are meeting their demise in the bloodiest of ways.

SkeletonPete Says…
From here I’m totally prepared to learn that My Little Pony is the God-Head overlord of the Engineers in Prometheus 2. Mr. Ridley Scott, if you’re listening, the old Hollywood axiom “If you can’t make it bigger, make it funnier” applies.

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Faith Erin Hicks’ Alternative cover for “Archie Versus Predator” #4.

How Suite It Is: 2015 Toy Insider Event Grows in Scope

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New York City’s Chelsea Pier complex was the site for the 2015 Sweet Suite event designed to alert traditional press outlets and the exponentially expanding blogger community to the play industry’s newest goodies. This season’s gathering, mounted by the folks at Adventure Publishing Group (APG) (Toy Insider, The Toy Book, The Licensing Book) was the biggest ever, encompassing the wares of almost 100 vendor/sponsors. See the link loaded list of participants on the Sweet Suite Sponsor List.

Sweet Suite 15 was a sensory riot with so many wonderful items vying for deserved attention. To document the afternoon APG president and Toy Insider Mom Laurie Schacht conducted on-site interviews with the industry sponsors and attendees were banging out Tweets, Instagram pictures and videos posts by the hundreds (thousands?) It was especially cool to find The Verve Pipe’s Brian Vander Ark providing the live soundtrack performing songs from the group’s Are We There Yet album.

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Toy Insider’s Laurie Schacht meets a brace of WowWee Rev’s gesture controlled MiPosaurs.

As an information gathering excursion co-editor Adriana “Andy” Melendez and I have found the invitation-only opportunity to be invaluable, often leading to months worth of pre-holiday roll-out features about the newest toys.

It’s also a perfect platform to explore new products and have an easy-going tet a tet with their creators. Heck, I got so “toy-tipsy” I was even cajoled into donning an “Amy Poehler” wig for the gals at the Goldie Blox booth. Do blondes have more fun? I can’t say for sure but it likely beats being a balding 60 year old guy in a baseball cap.

What caught our collective eye? I know Andy was particularly taken with the I Am Elemental action figures and their empowering message for young ladies. I zoned in on Crayola’s “Color Alive” Easy Animation Studio and Hexbugs’ newest Vex Robotics kits (including an operational Zoetrope). Both were still in early development when first spied at the New York International Toy Association Fair last February.

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Just a few of the new items Andy and Pete will be reporting on in depth. I Am Elemental Action Figures (left,) HexBugs’ Zoetrope (top right,) Crayola’s Easy Animation Studio (bottom right.)

I also enjoyed a thorough demo and up close look at the eye-popping next-gen graphics of Activision’s Skylanders SuperChargers multi-platform game. Anki Overdrive’s track hugging robotic race cars promise to be an exciting experience, and Madame Alexander Doll’s mirthful Muppets will be available just in time for ABC’s Muppet TV relaunch.

Also ready to launch in the vanguard of inevitable Stars Wars mania is Build-A-Bear Workshop‘s Darth Vader and Chewbaca bears.

Expect us to be reporting on those items and many other products in depth as they reach their release dates in the coming weeks. In the meantime enjoy this teaser gallery of pictures from the event.

Click Any Image to launch the Gallery

Fleet Week: IDW Sends “Star Trek” Back To School

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IDW Publishing will launch the “Star Trek: Starfleet Academy” mini-series in December 2015.

Enterprising Young Crew…
Fans of the backstories of their favorite Star Trek characters will be thrilled to learn of IDW Publishing’s just announced Star Trek: Starfleet Academy mini-series.

Slated for launch in December 2015, IDW says the Star Trek: Starfleet Academy books will not only tell the school days tales of Kirk, Spock and Uhura, but will also offer an adventure that ties in the “current” crop of cadets from everywhere in the galaxy.

IDW editor Sarah Gaydos likens the stories to those of Harry Potter’s Hogworts days, as well as the young X-Men’s tutledge under Professor Xavier, and they are suggested as a good entry point for new readers. The 2009 movie reboot has already shown us Cadet Kirk could be quite a problem child, so I expect lots of rule breaking and some detention in the offing. Maybe even an intergalactic “breakfast club.”

Mike Johnson and Ryan Parrot will write the series with Derek Charm handling the artwork. Johnson, Charm and Gaydos will be part of a panel discussion at SDCC on July 10 at 4pm with plenty more to relate about this series and other IDW projects. Walt Disney fans will also want to check the IDW booth (#2743) schedule for when Charm is signing convention exclusives of his Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse issues.

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Artist Tony Shasteen’s wrap-around cover of IDW Publishing’s 50th issue of “Star Trek” coming in October 2015.

Silver Anniversary Reflections…
The academy series will launch right on the heels of IDW’s 50th Star Trek issue that promises to be loaded with special content, and begins a three parter that brings the plot line of the classic TV episode “Mirror/Mirror” (Oct 1966) into the new ST universe.

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

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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.
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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.
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Click Any Image To Launch the Gallery

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.

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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”

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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.