Thursday, 25 May 2017

Kiddicraft Webster - Webster's Sports!


Welcome sports fan to Webster’s Sports!
I know I used sports twice in once sentence, shut up.
Webster’s Spots is one of two playsets for the small but awesome Webster line from Kiddicraft, the other was the bigger but actually less awesome Webster’s Playhouse, which looked a bit like the Nerfuls’ playset but with angles, I respect that you may have no idea what I just meant.  Here it is and here are its two exclusive pack-in spiders:


Sunday, 21 May 2017

Six Examples of Crap I Waste My Money On: Bootsale Report 13!

This morning wasn’t that great. I know I usually open these this year with amusing but ultimately insignificant woes attached to bootsailing but y’know, they’re not THAT bad, it’s mostly just comic exaggeration to get a laugh out at you at my expense (except Collier Row bootsale, that really is that shitty), being dusty or temporarily bored can be funny but it’s not a terrible situation. This bootsale sucked though, not because of the bootsale itself (though it was somewhat unproductive) but because I ended it by having an hour long panic attack, now I did have a surfing shark to cuddle so it wasn’t the worst panic attack I’ve ever had but it really does put a damper on an outing, it’s also pretty hard to concentrate on, or care about, stalls full of other people’s old crap, it’s hard to concentrate on to care about anything actually. You’d think that, as I have them once a week at least, I’d be able to recognise panic attacks coming on way in advance, but it still takes me a good five minutes of thinking ‘I feel really weird’ before I cotton on because sometimes I’m fucking daft, anyway I’m very used to having panic attacks and can suffer them well but that doesn’t mean I like having them and I like having them in public places even less and in public places I visit regularly even less than that, I feel very self-conscious next time I go even though I know, rationally, no fucker noticed in the slightest because they were all too busy looking at old crockery and second hand handbags but y’know if the rational part of me was in charge I wouldn’t have random panic attacks in fields. Today’s take-home was also fairly middling, not terrible and certainly not un-exciting, just meh. Maybe it’s the lead-up-to and after effects of panicking for an hour, it’s hard to really enthuse about Flintstones candy containers when you’re acutely aware of how terrible and worthless your life is and that most people think you’re a loser. I will try though, and also to those people: I’m a loser with a surfing shark to cuddle actually, bitches. I took a photo anyway, not because  it was an impressive haul worth commemorating but more because I just wanted to see a group shot that included Master Splinter, Will Smith, Bart Simpson, an evil clown and the happiest Venom ever:


I was right wasn’t it? It’s delightful. Venom agrees with me, but then he thinks EVERYTHING is delightful. So are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin:  

 
The Surfing Shark!
£2 ($2.61)
Or Frank, as I’ve dubbed him. Thought I better throw some context out about that reoccurring surfing shark gag up there as early as possible, I really did buy a cuddly surfing shark – he’s from Hawaii and it was love at first sight. I think I’ve pinned down why I was so taken with him, at first I just thought it was his perfect ‘walking down the beach to the waves’ stance and grumpy little face but I’ve since decided it’s because it’s a massive middle finger to Surfers and its existence is wonderful in its wrongness. Sharks are famous for eating two things: surfers and Robert Shaw, so tourist shops in Hawaii decided to make their target audiences’ only natural predator into one of them and sell it to them to remind them of the good times they had because the cuddly toy’s inspiration wasn’t eating them. Frank is the guy who steals your girlfriend and then turns up to your birthday party with her only with blood in the water and missing calf muscles, he is flagrantly flaunting his fuck you and I love him, and alliteration.  

Thursday, 18 May 2017

AFB's Top 13 Favourite Wrestlers in American Professional Wrestling


While ill I watched a lot of YouTube, and it left me in the mood to write a bunch of indulgent top 10s – which lead me to dust this off. I did a bunch of work on a Top 30 Wrestlers list as one of last year’s 30th Birthday Top 30s but it never got finished, no real reason, it just didn’t. But I looked about the messy teenager’s bedroom that is my documents folder and had enough material and enough inclination to turn it into a top 13 and so I did but… it still felt a little too indulgent so I’ve decided to recommend four matches of each entry on the list, that way if reading some bald bloke you’ve never met enthusing doesn’t float your boat you’ll still have 52 wrestling matches to look up on DailyMotion.
Anyway criteria was simple: the wrestler had to have had a career in America but didn’t have to be American (Canadians are coming). The reasons for this? Simply I know very little about Mexican or Japanese Wrestling so I felt if I was excluding them I should also exclude British Wrestlers too. Backstage bullshit and out-of-the-ring behaviour isn’t being taken into account when it comes to numbering, I’ll bring some of it up but it wasn’t used to judge the wrestlers for this list, I’m just referring to it for some other bullshit reason, probably attempts at humour or because it’s relevant to something other than the numbering. Wrestling for the WWF/E wasn’t a necessity but as so many American Pro Wrestlers do over their careers it shouldn’t be surprising that all but one on this list have done just that.  So anyway, ready for some barely clothed sweaty mean and poor and vague reasoning why I like them? Great!  Then are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin like a thorn in your eye: 

13. Bayley / Becky Lynch
Who? Two femael wrestlers who came up through and out of WWF's NXT division (and show) together 
Why? So why are they tied? Well for the really silly reason that I figured out that I like them equal, I like them both for the same set of reasons: they’re great wrestlers, they’re attractive and I want to hang out with them, can you imagine going shopping with Bayley? It would be immense, I imagine she’d just run from store to store and buy an armful of awesome t-shirts, funky stationary and soft toys and I Lynch is just cool, I think it was Paige who asked what her purpose was as WWE Diva? My answer: to be the really undeniably likable one you want to chat with before and after you see them beat the piss out someone. The difference really is that (and sorry to both girls in advance) I find Lynch more attractive (and more… my sort of person) while I think Bayley is a better wrestler, to me those things even them out (shallow I know).
Sasha Banks vs Bayley - NXT Takeover: Brooklyn (WWE NXT)
Charlotte vs Bayley vs Sasha Banks vs Becky Lynch – NXT Takeover: Rival (WWENXT)
Alexa Bliss vs Becky Lynch – TLC 2016 (WWE)1
Asuka vs Bayley – NXT Takeover: Dallas (WWE NXT)1

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Examples of Crap I Waste My Money On: Bootsale Report 12!

Today I went to a bootsale in the rain. If you can’t see the problem with going to an entirely outdoor market with absolutely no cover when its pissing out let me enlighten you: you get wet, and everything you might want to buy either gets wet or gets covered up so it doesn’t get wet so you spend a lot of time walking around, getting wet, looking at nothing. It’s not exactly harrowing but it is fucking boring. “Oh we’re up now” the rest of the people I was going with said “we might as well go, it’s only supposed to be showers” it was showers, about three altogether that lasted for about half the time we was there, in-between it was very sunny, turning the field – and the inside of my coat – into a tropical climate… but I’m glad I listened to them:

It’s not a great haul, but given that it was the exact opposite of bootsale weather, coming home with anything at all is worth being chuffed about, let alone coming home with Mr Pricklepants! And of this meagre selection six of them (the dinosaur, the white guy, the van, the police bike and the robot respectively) are top buys, items that I’ve been looking for for a while and genuinely collectible with a notable resale value, or tl;dr they cost a lot at conventions. Also Wolfcop on DVD. So are you sitting com…oh, no hang on, I totally have to show you these:

I didn’t buy them because even I have limits but I had to take a picture, they’re not quite on par with the Anti-Terrorism Super Gun in terms of sheer shameless cluelessness but I think we can all enjoy the Samurai Gun Special, y’know a firearm for those warriors who didn’t use firearms and the brutal simplicity of FIGHT GUN. Now with that shared, are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.   

 
Reader’s Digest Gets Morbid!
50p (64¢)
A child bullied me into buying this.
She caught me flicking through it and just kept telling me it was 50p, moving closer with each announcement, I thought she was going to square up to me. Her mum was on the phone meeting my eyes with a look of ‘I dunno, I can’t control the creature, just give her money and maybe she’ll back off, it works 7 out of 10 times with us’. So to avoid getting into a fight with (and almost certainly loosing too) a four year old (she was little but wiry, like a mongoose with a ponytail) I just gave her the 50p and scampered away, hoping she wouldn’t follow and duff be up ‘round the back of the chemical khazis. Thankfully she stayed to extort money from more unwary buyers and I was able to regain my composure and work on convincing myself that I am, in fact, an alpha male.  The book’s actually quite good, ranging from the generic (famine in Africa) to specific catastrophes (the Titanic) all in that Reader’s Digest style of writing and even as dirty as it was (this is after a few wet wipes and some Fairy Liquid) it was well worth 50p of protection money. 

Enemy!
£3 ($3.87)
This alone was worth getting wet for, to pay less than a fiver for a Robo Force figure I’d let it bloody hail on me. This big house clearance stall had three Robo Force figures, three, but only Enemy was in good enough condition for me to buy (they had Hun-Dred, the Skeletor of Robo Force and easily one of my top 100 action figures but his arm was broken, it made me sad, I lovingly touched his angry beetle head in tribute, then washed my hand). This was not a clean toy, in fact it was a dirty week in general, the mixture of rain and accumulated dirt from various attics and sheds is not a pleasant one but even as mucky as he was, and with a peeling sticker (I’ve since stuck it) Enemy was a fucking steal and he is my new best friend. If you’ve never owned a Robo Force toy and can’t see the appeal I would like to tell you that they are big, angry, chunky, give hugs and those suckers they stand on are like fucking super glue, they can and will stick to anything: Enemy stuck fast to an old trunk when all I did was put him down to give the stallholder (who was wearing a bowler hat and shorts - good man) the money, these are the all-terrain vehicles of action figures.  

Stone Cold Steve Austin!
70p (90¢)
If y’wanna see dwitefry spend a whole paragraph doin’ a bad Stone Cold impression gimme a hell yeah! Have you seen this figure? Je-sus Christ son get serious, they made ol’ Stone Cold look like a confused Simon Pegg and then had him write his name across his jeans because apparently Austin 3:16 says “I sign mah own crotch”. The whole thing’s so goddamn ridiculous and yet so goddamn awesome there weren’t no way we was leaving without it an’ anyway even when he’s comically out of proportion the Rattlesnake’s still the meanest son of a bitch that ever lived and that’s the bottom line, cos Stone Cold said so.

Joker Van!
£4 ($5.16)
While certainly in ‘played with’ condition I’ve wanted one of these for years and having one in my hand that was an affordable price I just couldn’t put it down. It’s more of my ‘so ridiculous it’s awesome’ thing, it really does look like for all the world that The Joker has given up being the Clown Prince of Crime and become the Crown Prince of Furniture Removals or possibly just taken to transporting the forty cakes Lex Luthor steals. It’s just so silly but then it’s The Joker, if any villain was going to steal a bakery van, paint it bright purple then slap giant stickers of their face on it and then actually use it for larceny then the Joker’s than villain. Hell he probably has a fleet of them and made sure to use actual baked goods in the crimes he uses them for, just for the sake for theming. This is why The Joker is better than most other supervillains, yes purple vans make you superior to robots who’ve killed countries and alien robots that have bottled cities, I don’t make the rules, I just live by ‘em.

Odds & Sods!
Approx. £2.20 ($2.84) the lot
The thinness of this week’s haul allows me to spotlight a constant in all my bootsale shopping, The Odds & Sods. If you look through all of the haul photos in the Bootsale Reports on this site you’ll see that they’re all padded out with a number of random, worthless and often small toys that are sometimes Pokémon. They rarely-to-never get spotlighted and you might not even consciously notice them (if you existed) but they make each Bootsale special, you never know what they’ll be and they never disappoint. How they get bought ranges from me actually going to the stall purposefully to purchase them to thinking ‘well I’m already buying five things from this box, I might as well make it six’ they’re not stuff I actually ‘collect’ or things that I’d ever buy new or search for on eBay but they do usually tie into some obsession I have. Like the Pokémon, I only really ‘collect’ the Gen 1 & 2 toys but I’ll buy any Pokémon that I half-way like if it’s cheap, the little hollow Pokémon (represented in this photo by a super deformed Zekrom, the black lizard thing in the bottom right corner) are always cheap so it’s common for me to come home with one. Bootsales are generally a lot more productive if you’re easily pleased, I think that’s why children like them so much, I am very easy to please FOR EXAMPLE: that Playmobil skeleton is, to me, perfect - it’s the reanimated skeleton of a Playmobil figure, think about that for a minute - and the lady gave it to me for free (I bought some other stuff from her). That genuinely cheered me up and made the rain feel a little warmer during the next shower, sure I was wet, cold and muddy but I got a free Playmobil skeleton, man. FOR EXAMPLE: I will buy any gorilla that looks remotely King Kong-esque but as for the shark, I was chatting with another bloke looking through the Dirty Stall (that was something this week, the rain had turned the inexplicable dirt to inky ecto-plasm, but apparently I’m happy to dig through black slime if there’s the off chance there might be Ninja Turtles there and so was this bloke) and I said to him “if that shark squeaks I’m buying it” “squeeze it” says the other nerd - now invested, the shark squeaks, we were both genuinely happy, I bought him, god he was filthy but now he’s clean and I have a small squeaky shark in my life, I think I’ll call him Shawn. It pays to find joy in little small things, especially squeaky rubber sharks.

 
Space Precinct Police Bike!
£5 ($6.44)
Man I wish this bloke had had all of his stall out, he had this and rows of carded Legends of the Dark Knight and Phantom Menace stuff, if that was the shit he was willing to let get wet I’d’ve loved to have seen what else he had. Anyway I used to have a complete set of Space Precinct figures and vehicles but they all disappeared, perhaps victims of the Great Crush Dummies Box Disaster, so now I’m gradually reacquiring the set. It’s not too difficult because it seems nobody but me likes or even remembers the show (which I consider to be Gerry Anderson’s Babylon 5) or their toys so there’s not really any competition and sellers have no respect for them thus you can, for instance, get a carded vehicle for a fiver off some bloke at a bootsale, or pay 50p for a figure off another bloke from a bootsale. You can’t do that with Masters of the Universe, or even the other Gerry Anderson toylines of the 90’s like Thunderbirds of Captain Scarlet (which I’m also having to rebuy, having lost nearly all of them too). So what I’m saying is, learn to respect Space Precinct but not before I buy a boxed Police Cruiser.

Two Foot of Dinosaur Magazines!
£5 ($6.44)
So these were those scam magazines you see advertised every January: “buy a magazine for a fiver reach month and build a scale model of the Titanic, first issue only 50p” those things. I totally bought into that as a kid and between Dinosaurs! and How My Body Works my mum was putting our newsagents kids through college. Each issue of Dinosaurs! was focussed on a specific dinosaur and was filled with a bunch of stuff like 3D double page spreads, ‘Ask the Expert’ pages full of facts and even little comics (the one in the first issue was the discovery of the Iguanodon) and yes this is all from memory.  These 9 binders contain nearly 100 issues of Dinosaurs! and all but 1 of the trading cards that came with them, I don’t know how two 14 year old girls came to have these (or why 14 year old girls feel the need to wear nothing but strappy tops and short shorts in a downpour) but in terms of buying back my youth this is the fucking motherload. Of course once you’ve bought 9 binders full of magazines you now have to figure out what to do with them and how, luckily the uncomfortably scantily clad jailbait had many a Tesco’s Bag for Life but we were miles from the car and the rain was starting and they were heavy and you fuck around for five minutes getting rained on before just deciding to take them back to the vehicle and get wet. It was so worth it, this is a better collection than I ever had a child and I am going to savour pouring over them, living on Toffee Crisps and Fanta I will not being leaving my room until Thursday, I will once again know everything that there was to know (in 1993) about Pachyrhinosaurus.     

In fact I’m starting right now, thanks for reading another one of these, see yourself out. 

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Marvel Comics 1972-1978: The Editor-Go-Round Period

So I've been ill in bed for over a week and this has apparently put my muse into a coma that it still hasn't woken from, but this is why you plan ahead - or more accurately, write something then leave it for ages because you can't be arsed to make the images for it. 
So I noticed that all the comic book stuff I’ve posted on this blog, with the exception of the odd entry in the Top X-Men Comic Stories list, are all relatively recent, 1990s and upwards, and I felt that this could give the wrong impression of me, I like comics from all eras, to prove this, here’s a long-ass article about a far earlier time in comics: the Editor-Go-Round period of Marvel Comic.

Ok, here’s how it worked – Stan Lee was editor-in-chief at Marvel Comics from 1945 until 1972 (when he became Publisher) that is 27 years, damn. In 1978 Jim Shooter took the EIC position and held it until 1987, a respectable 10 years, between these two holding the position there  was a period of Marvel comics I like to call the Editor-Go-Round period. From 1972 to 1978 there were five editor-in-chiefs, none lasting more than three years, they were (in order): Roy Thomas, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, Gerry Conway and Archie Goodwin, all with different ideas about how staff and characters should be treated, all with different ideas about what stories and topics Marvel and comic books should cover and all with Stan Lee and Cadence Industries sticking their ore in at a time when the comics industry was in a massive slump and Marvel had grown into a large business with several licencing deals that affected comic content (not least toy companies Azrak-Hamway International and Mego). Behind the scenes it was a nightmare, everything from divorce to kidney trouble, but the Marvel Zombies out there might be looking at that timeframe and thinking “hang on, that’s when some of Marvel’s most acclaimed books/my favourite stories came out, that’s when Chris Claremont started on X-Men, that’s when Jim Stalin was on Warlock, that’s when they killed Gwen Stacy, that’s when Star Wars came out dammit” and you’re absolutely right, despite the company being in chaos – and sometimes because of it – the Editor-Go-Round period produced a lot of great work, a lot of cult favourites and a good deal of big stars for Marvel (which now, thanks to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, are one and the same thing – everyone knows who Star-Lord and Rocket Raccoon is now, it is very strange) and this is going to be my long tribute to that time-period by going through it chronologically and talking about key books, stories and runs by one or more creators, consider it a guide on how to read Marvel Comics from 1972 to 1978. So are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin:  

Stan Lee is made Publisher at Marvel Comics, his old job as Editor-in-Chief goes to Roy Thomas, who has been employed at Marvel since the 60’s and is the first person Lee truly trusted to take over scripting the comics he began.

Marv Wolfman on Dracula!
(Tomb of Dracula #7-#70, Dracula Lives! #1-5 plus annuals)
Tomb of Dracula started before the E-G-R period when Stan Lee was still in the chair, but for the first six issues it was passed through a selection of writers (the first issue alone had three of them) before ending up in the hands of Wolfman, though this was long before he would go to DC and turn out his best work on New Teen Titans and Crisis on Infinite Earths he crafted a consistently high quality gothic horror series, effectively Marvel meets Hammer Horror, with a cast of great characters, a fantastic version of the titular vampire and introduced Blade the Vampire Hunter. Usually he was complimented by Gene Colan, who turned in shadowy plus sexy artwork to make the whole package that much better.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Just who WERE Sylvester Stallone's old team?

So who was those people who were going to ‘go steal some shit’ with Stallone at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2?
Just a quick one, I’ve just got back from seeing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. I enjoyed it very much thank you, I’m not sure if I prefer it to the original but it was very funny, very awesome and we got to see a lot of character development. There were times when I would have liked a little bit of a better balance between comedy and action in one or two scenes but the balance wasn’t THAT far off. What I enjoyed as much as the film was sitting in a full cinema, packed with as many teenagers on their days off and Essex scum as it was with fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and nerds and they all cared about Nebula and Yondu, they all cheered on Star-Lord and Rocket Raccoon, they all loved Groot, they all treated Ego the Living Planet as a genuine threat. Having grown up in and been a tragically hardcore fanboy during the nineties and early-to-mid noughties when not only mainstream acceptance but fandom acceptance of these character was considered a ludicrous impossibility, when you’d get laughed at in comic shops for liking the Rocket Racoon mini-series, when no-one but the most die-hard Kirby fans knew who the fuck Groot was. but being the guy who did, who adored Jim Stalin’s run on Warlock, who read Guardians of the Galaxy and Infinity Watch (no matter how shit they could be), who preferred Gamora to Wonder Woman, who preferred Rocket Racoon to Wonder Woman (my dad will agree with this by the way, he’s loved Rocket nearly as long as I have), who had complete runs of industry and fandom punch-lines like Howard the Duck, this was so gratifying, because this shit was always good and always filled with so much promise and now everyone’s caught up, I felt like crying - and GOD that was a run-on sentence.     

Anyway I’m sure this has been covered by some clickbait site or YouTube channel but I thought I’d do it just in case: one of the FIVE after credits scenes in the film shows Silver Stallone’s character delighted that his old team, made up of various Ravagers captains, has been brought back together by the events of the film and they should go steal some shit. The gag is that all of them are present day Marvel Cinematic Universe versions of the original Guardians of the Galaxy, this makes complete sense as Yondu (who has a much bigger role in this film) is a Ravager who’s a modern day Marvel Cinematic Universe version of Yondu Udonta, the archer from the original Guardians. For the confused there are two teams called the Guardians of the Galaxy, the second is active in the present day and debuted in 2008 in Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 issue 1 following the event Annihilation: Conquest; this is the team made up of Star-Lord, Rocket Racoon, Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, Groot, Adam Warlock and so on - the one the film team is based on. The first team, now sometimes know as Guardians 3000 or Guardians of Infinity, is from an alternate future, the same one Killraven’s from and debuted all the way back in 1969 in Marvel Super-Heroes issue 18 (so the second one comes first chronologically, comics are complicated) and is the one that includes Major Victory, Yondu, Starhawk, Charlie-27 and Martinex. Hopefully this'll be useful to someone, so are you sitting comfortably: then do you have any tape?

Examples of Crap I Waste My Money On: Bootsale Report 11

I wasn’t planning to go bootsailing this week despite being a bank holiday (meaning Dunton and many other bootsales are on both the Sunday and Monday), we had rubbish weather predicted and I had no one to go with BUT I couldn’t sleep Saturday night, my sleep pattern is very often atrocious, so as I was still awake at 6am I decided to wander down to Collier Row bootsale. I’m sure I’ve gone into this before but just in case I haven’t: Collier Row Bootsale is my local bootsale that’s about a four or five minute walk out of town, the reason I very rarely go to it and instead drive half an hour to Dunton is because Collier Row bootsale is an utter shithole. Amongst its various problems is 90% of the buyers and about 75% of the sellers are curmudgeonly arseholes and so after about five lines of dirty stalls and rude bastards so was I. The benefits of the place come down to it being nearby, it being small enough to do in an hour and there being a good chance you’ll see a fight, because of all the curmudgeonly arseholes. I didn’t see a fight this week – sadness.
How well did I do in terms of purchases? Terrible. I didn’t even take a haul photo. Buuuut Given that it only took roughly 75 minutes out of my day and there was little else to do at 6am on a Sunday you could argue that it was in fact worth going - I got some stuff after all, and what I did get was all pretty decent but yeah, not a great ‘haul’. Still if I do these every time I have great success it only seems fair to do it when I have little, plus I want to vent.