Sunday, August 17, 2014

Late birthday gift to myself

Broke down and bought these for myself.  

I've had Fantasy Flight Games' "X-Wing" for about two years now.  I've not really played it ... just haven't had time.  Our old game group (mostly guys I work with) really haven't gotten together in a year or so ... so, no games.  So far I've got the starter set (one X-wing and two TIE fighters) and the Millennium Falcon expansion pack (got it mostly just for the miniature).  At $15 bux a piece, the miniatures had kind of hit a price limit for me.  They're good, really good miniatures but $15 is a bit much for me.  Now I've found a dealer selling them for $10 each and free shipping on orders so I'm giving myself the go ahead to start building my fleet and get this game rolling.

These will be the start of my X-Wing game miniatures collection which I plan on adding to each paycheck as well as making some custom capital ships / freighters / support craft through kitbashing.  The Tantive IV is one of my favorite ships in all of sci-fi shipdom.  My 8 year old mind fell in love with that hammerhead shape and those eleven blazing engines as soon as I saw it on the silver screen way back in 1977 and ever since then I've been looking for a good sized replica of this classic ship.  About two years ago I broke down and bought the $300 27 inch long Rand Cooper Tantive IV (currently saving up for his $500 38 inch long Imperial Star Destroyer) but haven't put it together yet.  Here's a Tantive IV in much smaller scale (still large) and it's prepainted and assembled so right out of the box it's a display unit.  I'll probably only have one Tantive IV in my collection but I've got up to three Rebel transports ear-marked for the collection and this will be my first one.  The local hobby shop wanted $50 for the Transport and $90 for the Tantive IV which, again, was a bit much in my book (and for my wallet).  I spend some pretty money pretty fast sometimes but even I'm prone to waiting until the price falls or shopping around for the best price.  I like to support my local shops but going online I saved about $40 on these two items (the Transport was $40 and the Tantive IV was $60).  That savings gives me enough money to either add four fighters to my collection or another Rebel Transport (and I've found an online shop that I'm going to give a lot of business to in the months to come).

So, that's the update.  Happy late birthday to me and it was a pretty good birthday with me buying myself the '89 Dodge Daytona Shelby back in June and now, two months later, these two sets of expansion miniatures.


It's not often that I collect a series of comic books and usually when I do it's a short-run series like Miller and Darrow's "Hard Boiled" or something like Delgado's "Hieroglyph" or Steve White and Dan Abnett's "Hypersonic" but every once in a while, thank you life, there comes another series which I adore.  Luckily I found this one about two years back but didn't start collecting it until this month (which meant that I had to catch up).  

Prophet is the story of John Prophet, a modified / vat grown super soldier (think Captain America) who wakes up from stasis / hybernation on Earth so far in the future that nothing is recognizable to him.  Time, alien races and cosmic events have forever altered the planet, even the galaxy.  John Prophet is not alone, he is one of many John Prophets, some altered genetically for different environments or situations and each as a mission.

The Empire of Man is returning, rising in power, and hell is to be paid.

I can't tell you very much about this other than if you like classic 1970's style Angus McKee, Richard Corben, Moebius and Moreno artwork like that once found in the pages of "Metal Hurlant" ("Heavy Metal" to us Americans) then Prophet is for you.  Just flipping through the pages and looking at the artwork takes me back in time to when art ... comic art ... was hand drawn and not done on computers.  It's crude, brutal and wonderful, not glossy, sedate and precise.  I've ranted about art, especially sci-fi art, and how in it moving into the digital age it has lost a lot of what made it so great.  There's no soul, no emotion anymore in sci-fi art and it shows.  The same can be said of modern sci-fi comic books.  Everything is so clean, antiseptic, mundane and predictable.

Not so with Prophet.

Prophet is the telling of an epic story, tens of thousands of years, with characters that have started in another age of comics (the 1990s) and off and on appeared in several series then had their selves thrown into a reboot in the far future, a future so wonderfully bizarre that you wish that someone would make a movie of it.

Carnivorous aliens, symbiotes, parasites, adaptive membranes, interspecies sex, living rock people, living metal robots, crystal sentients, sapient fungus ... Prophet has something for everyone and a surprise for all.  The artwork is amazing in scope and depth, it's like looking at Darrow's work on "Hard Boiled" ... every time you go back and look at it you see something you missed.

John Prophet is an interesting character but so far I'm drawn more to Diehard, a cyborg shell that is over 10,000 years old.   A man from the 1990's, his body was replaced after his death and his cyborg form lives on.  Several stories tell of Diehard's past, some of when he was still a man, others when he was living on some planet with some adoptive race and had a family.  The fact that Diehard is replacing parts of himself with organic parts taken from dead John Prophet clones is intriguing.  At one point he has a human heart beating in his chest cavity (something he hasn't had for thousands of years) and later he can speak again due to adding one of the clone's vocal cords to his design.  You would think that if a machine was operating just fine without a human heart (and for thousands of years) why would it need to install one now?  Also, why does it need vocal cords to communicate which it could just have a speaker to project an artificial voice.

I may find this out yet.

If you want to pick up on Prophet, you can do so now quickly and cheaply.  There are 45 issues of Prophet dating back to the early '90's but the current restart didn't happen until issue 21.  There are 45 issues now meaning that you need to start at issue 21 and catch up.  That means that you have 24 issues to grab.  This isn't hard since on Amazon there are three trade paperbacks which capture issues 21 to 38 leaving you only with 39 to 45.  I bought the trade paperbacks (about 10 bux each) and then found the other back issues at my local hobby shop for face price.

If you like weird sci-fi, were once a fan of the old Heavy Metal magazine and like stuff like Delgado's "Hieroglyph" then you'll dig Prophet.  Each issue is a page turning treat that leaves you waiting impatiently for next month and the next issue.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

My old dune buggy

I'm a '69 model, posed here in my '70 model Dune Buggy at my old house in Birmingham, AL. To this day I don't see how my parents never saw what was coming in my teenage and later years but in hindsight I had a frigging great childhood and it only got better after that!

The strange thing is, at 45 years old, I still remember this pedal pusher car. I had a lot of fun in it but quickly outgrew it and moved on to another, bigger toy ... the Marx Wild Rider! Even then I marveled at the levers and pedals that made the wheels turn.

Do you see the discolored stripes in the rear plastic wheels? That's from me doing "burnouts" on the back patio there, I could sit in one place and basically physically pedal it faster than it could get traction so the rear wheels just spun on the concrete. I used to do the same thing with my Mattel "Big Wheel" only with the front wheel. Sanded that thing almost smooth doing "burnouts" on pavement.

My parents really didn't have a clue what they had brought into this world ...