The other day I stopped into my local GameStop to see if they had any of the San Diego Comic Con exclusive Funko Pop!s available. What I discovered when I walked in, however, was much more exciting. Recently, Mega Construx released a line of Pokémon-themed building block sets. Being the Pokémon fan that I am I was at first embarrassed that this line had completely flown under my radar when it was announced back in February, but at least stumbling on them the way I did was validating.
There were about twelve sets in total, roughly six larger boxed sets and six little minifigs sort of that come in a Pokéball. I bought a little Eevee Pokéball on the spot. I figured I’d get one of the small ones to dip my toe in a bit, see how I like them. When I got home, it took me about ten minutes to put together (which really only took that long because I kept dropping all the pieces.) Once the figure was complete, I was hooked. At first it looked a little janky with the thick little legs and awkward tuft of fur on its chest but eventually all that became part of its charm.
A couple of days later I went back to the store and pored over which of the larger sets to buy. What I like most about the line is there are a few different themes; besides the smaller figures, a couple of the larger Pokémon are represented, like Charizard and Gyarados. The line also includes the starter mid-evolutions, Charmeleon, Wartortle and Ivysaur as their own stand-alone sets. Each of the starters, Charmander, Squirtle and Bulbasaur, along with Pikachu are paired off for battle scene building sets.
After much, much deliberation, I decided to go with Charizard. I also picked up Abra and Magikarp, a couple of my favorites, from the line of smaller sets so I can display next to little Eevee.
Again, the little ones were quick to assemble; total time for both of those was about fifteen minutes. Charizard, on the other hand, took roughly an hour to build. The build instructions were slightly confusing as the way they’re drawn isn’t as clear as what you’d get from a LEGO manual. I managed, though, and I’m really proud of myself.
I’m also really proud of this Charizard, which turned out to be a nice display piece. A lot of the articulation is really good, especially around the head, legs and tail. I would have liked if there was a bit more articulation, like maybe if the arms moved a little better and get some moveable fingers and jaw in there but I also realize that those features would impact the price, which may turn off a few potential fans.
As far as quality, it’s easy to tell why LEGO is the cream of the crop. That’s not to say Mega Construx are bad; in fact, they’re intricately designed and really capture the likenesses of the Pokémon they’re meant to replicate. However, the building aspect of the set was difficult at times. I found myself struggling to click blocks in place, having to rely on using my teeth to get the amount of pressure that I needed. This could have been due to some microscopic defect in the stud that made it just too big to fit. In fairness, though, it could have just been small parts and sweaty hands (it was a really hot day, you guys.)
If you do manage to get them clicked into place and realize you put the piece in the wrong spot, good luck getting it apart. Unlike LEGO, Construx don’t come with a handy separating tool so, once again, I lucked out that I had a mouthful of teeth to do the job. In fairness, though, I don’t fault Construx for this. It took LEGO years to realize a tool like this was a necessity and since they likely have a patent on it, Construx will need to design their own.
As I mentioned earlier, in addition to the larger sets, the series offers a few single figures, such as Pokémon’s mascot, Pikachu, and a few other fan favorites, like Eevee, Magikarp, and…Zubat. What I like most about these are the packaging; they all come in a plastic Pokéball that can be used as a display base once building is complete. And at around $7 each, they’re a pretty good deal. Considering LEGO minifigure blind bags can retail for right around $5 and only have about 5 pieces each and a substandard display, these Pokémon characters are basically a steal.
Even the larger sets are a good value. At this time, the biggest set was Gyarados, with a total of 352 pieces retailing for $30. Compared to some of LEGO’s franchised sets, that’s an amazing deal. The LEGO Batman Movie Riddler Riddle Racer playset has 254 pieces and is regularly priced at $35 (though was on sale for $24 at the time of this writing, for whatever that’s worth).
Then again, you get what you pay for. With LEGO being the Cadillac of building blocks, the Pokémon Mega Construx don’t size up to quite that level. Sure, the models are well done and really capture the likenesses of the Pokémon, but the builds aren’t as sophisticated as what one would expect from LEGO.
It was a great choice for Mega Construx to jump into the Pokémon arena, especially given the mainstream popularity of Pokémon GO. Building sets like these now appeal to a wider audience since they are familiar with the characters. Even though they aren’t perfect, they are fantastically modelled and offer great playability.
Bottom line: I want more. Not just “I want to buy more sets,” which is definitely true. The low price point and great showcaseability really make these sets a good value despite their shortcomings. When I say I want “more,” I mean more sets. I want this line to do well so that Mega releases additional sets, like maybe the Generation 1 legendaries, Articuno, Zapdos, Moltres, and Mewtwo. Even a tiny little Mew hovering over a Pokéball would be sweet.
Also, I want to see some from the later generations of games: Tyranitar, Hoot Hoot, Lucario. There are so many great Pokémon that would make amazing display pieces that this could go on forever…just like the games!
BBC broke the internet when they announced this morning the casting news for the next season of Doctor Who. The Doctor, most previous played by Peter Capaldi, will now be represented by Jodie Whittaker, who is best known for her roles in Broadchurch and Attack the Block alongside current Star Wars actor John Boyega.
Of course, the news has polarized Doctor Who fans. Over the past few years, there has been a major online movement to cast a woman in the role of the Doctor. However, there are a number of Doctor Who purists who are disappointed by the casting, feeling that, in a show centered around a time-travelling alien who can regenerate into a new body once they die, the idea of a woman Doctor is unbelievable.
Unfortunately, much of the backlash isn’t all that civil, with many naysayers using outright misogyny to denounce the news. Which, in my opinion, is unfortunate as Whittaker is a talented actress and is sure to bring her own flair to the role.
Regardless of your feelings on the matter, the casting of Whittaker marks a new direction for the show, as not only will this season bring on a new Doctor, but also a new show-runner as well, with Broadchurch creator Chris Chibnall taking over for Steven Moffat.
As has been the tradition, Whittaker will officially take over the role in the Christmas episode.
The news was announced in a promotional trailer that played after the Wimbledon men’s singles final. Watch the trailer below.
You can also read more about the announcement, including a short interview with Whittaker, on BBC’s website.
Will Jodie Whittaker’s take on the Doctor be as lovable as David Tennant’s, as memorable as Matt Smith’s, or as short lived as Christopher Eccleston’s? Only time will tell, but personally, I’m excited for the gender swap.
Given the size, popularity and market share Funko currently enjoys, it’s no surprise that their booth at San Diego Comic Con is one of the most anticipated. They will be offering a metric buttload of exclusives (all of which you can find here), and that’s on top of the Pop-Up Shop they’re hosting outside of the convention in San Diego (news of which you can read about here).
So with all of that in mind, it’s not hard to imagine that some checks and balances need to go into place for fans wishing to buy from Funko. Like last year, they will be instituting a lottery system to allow people into the booth to purchase their exclusives. Below, you can find all of the details regarding the lottery, as posted on Funko’s blog.
If you’re heading to SDCC and have your eye on a few of these exclusives, make sure you pack your lucky rabbit’s foot, rub the tummy on your Buddha statue and cash in that last wish with your genie, because it’s going to take a lot more than just punctuality to grab these vinyls; you’re gonna need luck on your side.
When: Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Drawings will start shortly after the lines are let into the building until supplies last. Depending on the amount of attendees in line this line may start moving as early as 6:00am.
Where: Pavilion Terrace (Upper level outside Sails Pavilion). Attendees must first enter the Convention Center from the Badged Member entry line at the front of the building before lining up for drawings. Entry to the Sails Pavilion will be from this line.
ADA attendees with mobility issues should go to the Lobby B2 doors and use the glass elevators for access to the Sails Pavilion. They will be let up to the holding area outside the Sails Pavilion at the same time as the rest of the attendees.
- Attendee & professional badges only.
- One drawing per person, per day.
- This random drawing is for a chance to get a wristband to purchase items at the Funko booth.
- Winning a ticket does not guarantee you of any specific item at the Funko booth. Items may sell out by the time you reach the front of the line.
- Tickets are for a specific date and time and must be redeemed for that specific session.
- Tickets are not transferrable.
- There will be a strict limit of one of each item per ticket.
- You will not be able to line up at the Funko booth before your session begins.
- ADA attendees must also go through the lottery process outside the Sail Pavilion, as noted above.
Find us on the convention floor at Booth #5341!
San Diego Comic Con starts Thursday, July 20th and runs through Sunday the 23rd. Will you be at the show? If so, we’d love to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment down below or you can tweet to us @Sub_Cultured!
Well before the wide release of Spider-Man: Homecoming, early preview reviews started rolling out and proclaiming the film to be fantastic. I was a little worried that much of the hype was overblown; that the reviewers were overlooking the movie’s flaws just because they were happy to have Spider-Man as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Granted, I had no reason to feel this way having not seen the movie, but that’s just the anxiety in me. After seeing Spider-Man: Homecoming, however, I realize just how silly this notion was.
For starters, Homecoming doesn’t get bogged down in an origin story. One of movie-goers’ biggest complaints is that the first film in every super hero series is an origin. Most often, it’s necessary to establish where the character comes from. Sometimes, a movie is directed well enough that the audience doesn’t realize they’re watching an origin. For Spider-Man: Homecoming, there’s a quick scene recapping Peter Parker’s (Tom Holland) experiences in Berlin prior to his debut in Captain America: Civil War and how Tony Stark (do I even need to put “Robert Downey Jr.” here?) gave him his suit but that’s it. They make references to the spider that bit him but we never see it happen. Thankfully Marvel and Sony understood that audiences know how Peter became Spider-Man.
As a character, Spider-Man has always been about dichotomy, and Homecoming recognized that. Peter Parker is the timid, nerdy, powerless kid but he’s also the strong super hero who can do amazing things. In the movie, though, we see this power divide almost everywhere. Spider-Man wants t do more and help people on a grander scale but Tony Stark limits his abilities and keeps him grounded. Adrian Toomes, the villainous Vulture played by Michael Keaton, is a hard-working, blue-collar salvage worker whose life is threatened when a powerful government organization comes in and claims authority over his jobsite. We can understand his fear and need to do whatever he has to in order to provide for his family. (This was also a nice way to tie Homecoming into the MCU and the events that transpired in Avengers.)
Spider-Man: Homecoming also places a lot of focus on Spidey’s supporting characters. Peter’s best friend, Ned (played by Jacob Batalon, who looks more like Ganke than Ned Leeds but I digress), gets almost as much screen time as Peter himself. School bully Flash Thompson (Tony Revolori) shows up often and is much more than a one-note trick than previous portrayed in the other movies. Even a character like Michelle has an abundance of screen time, but that’s to be expected when they put someone like Zendaya in that role.
All of this works to make Spider-Man: Homecoming feel like a true Spider-Man movie. Spider-Man has always been about the people around him. Seventy plus years of comics show us that Spider-Man became the hero he is because of his affection for his friends, and even his tormentors. Previous cinematic versions of Spidey never really got that ideal, or at least never expressed it as well as Homecoming did.
One of my biggest complaints about Homecoming is the way it handled Peter Parker. As the quiet, nerdy kid, Peter either gets picked on or ignored. He lives with his elderly Aunt May, who no doubt maintains her household while living on a fixed income. Peter feels that financial crisis and decides to help carry the burden. However, in Homecoming, Peter isn’t like that. Sure, he gets picked on by Flash Thompson, but overall he has a few close friendships. His peers find value in his intelligence and every time they’re disappointed by him it’s through his own actions. Even Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) is younger and prettier than her other incarnations (which the movie doesn’t hesitate to joke about), which allows her to continue to provide for herself and her teenage nephew. Peter’s life in Homecoming isn’t that bad.
Being Spider-Man, however, sure as hell seems like it. Homecoming manages to show audiences just how much it sucks to be Spider-Man. He gets yelled at by the public for making mistakes. His actions cause massive damage to the neighborhood he lives in. He puts his life on the line to take down a threat when no one else will listen to him. Why?
Clearly because “with great power comes great responsibility.” The beauty of Spider-Man: Homecoming is that we have a Spider-Man who understands Uncle Ben’s powerful message without having to beat audiences over the head with the phrase. Not once are those words uttered, but we see how much Peter values them. This all goes back to the lack of an origin story. Spider-Man knows when it’s time to do the right thing; whether it’s from the life lesson he learned off-screen from his Uncle Ben or from being mentored by Iron Man himself is irrelevant. It’s a notion that’s inherent in this version of Spider-Man.
There’s lots of things to enjoy about Spider-Man: Homecoming; all of the excellent performances of the cast, most notably by Holland and Keaton, the return of Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan in a true supporting role, and all of the small throwbacks and references the filmmakers added. Overall, what I liked about Homecoming is that this is the closest a movie version of Spider-Man has ever gotten to its comic book roots. The young Peter Parker/Spider-Man has a lot to learn, not just about being a hero but about life in general. They’re not fast forwarding through his growth but allowing audiences to experience it first-hand, which is the most exciting part of the story.
The latest San Diego Comic Con exclusive announcement from Funko is different from the rest. Instead of an individual figure, it is a launch for an entirely new line called, Vnyl., which is “vinyl” without the “i.” Why the name? Well, according to Funko, “there’s no “i” in Vynl. because there’s always two of them!”
Vnyl. will make its debut at this year’s San Diego Comic Con, featuring an exclusive Batgirl/Poison Ivy set. More sets will be released later this year, like Freddy & Jason, Jack & Sally (from The Nightmare Before Christmas), and He-Man & Trapjaw. That last one is an odd pairing considering Skeletor would make more sense, but that just leads me to believe we can expect more Masters of the Universe Vnyl. in the future. Funko also teased other sets between SDCC and the end of 2017 but gave no hints as to what they could be.
The series is highly stylized, which is saying something when it come from the company that gave us Pop!s and Mystery Minis, all of which have their own unique look. To me, they look a little like the Super Best Friends, a series of cartoon shorts that aired on Cartoon Network as part of their DC Nation.
They look pretty cool, but I’ll admit I’m not entirely sold on them. Maybe as the series progresses and they adjust some of the features, as they did with Pop!s, I’ll find them more appealing but right now, I can do without these.
Here’s the full release from Funko’s blog:
Funko is proud to introduce Vynl., a brand new line of stylized vinyl collectibles created with pop culture fanatics in mind! Vynl. will take a new approach to collecting by showcasing the intricate relationships between beloved characters through a playful new aesthetic and display-ready collector packaging. As this new line of figures is centered around character relationships, every Vynl. release will contain two figures in order to highlight the connection between both characters and play off of their respective storylines.
Vynl. figures will utilize thoughtful and imaginative design to elaborate on the emotional bonds between some of the most cherished characters in pop culture. Though Vynl. figures will derive from countless realms, storylines, and universes, Funko will maintain a consistent design aesthetic ensuring all Vynl. figures look spectacular when displayed together.
This exciting new line will make its debut at San Diego Comic-Con 2017 with Batgirl and Poison Ivy. Then, later this summer, you’ll be able to collect Freddy Krueger & Jason, Sally & Jack from The Nightmare Before Christmas, and He-Man & Trapjaw from The Masters of the Universe. More amazing two-packs are scheduled to arrive between now and the end of 2017.
SDCC Exclusive Batgirl + Poison Ivy Vynl.
Freddy Krueger + Jason Vorhees Vynl.
Sally + Jack Skellington Vynl.
He-Man + Trapjaw Vynl.
So, what do you think of this line? Are you excited for something new for Funko or are you on vinyl burnout? Let us know in the comments!
Each January, I make a list of the movies that I want to see that coming year. It’s usually filled with big-budget, over-blown action flicks, because that’s what I like. This year, I had to revise my list a couple of times because I overlooked a few items that should appeal to me. One of those revisions included Baby Driver. At first glance, I wasn’t too sure about the Edgar Wright penned and directed flick but I decided to give it a shot. I’m glad I did.
Ansel Elgort is Baby, the film’s protagonist. A perfectly apropos nickname given his youthful looks, but “Baby” is all audiences know the character by throughout most of the movie. Nicknames are also a recurring trend in the movie, in which a team of thieves are gathered by the mysterious Doc (Kevin Spacey) to pull off complex heists. Think the Avengers, but they steal stuff and don’t have super powers.
The plot of the movie is thin by most standards; Baby is in for “one last job” before leaving his life of crime behind him. Naturally, the plan goes off the rails and all hell breaks loose, leaving Baby to adapt if he wants to survive and live his happily ever after.
Edgar Wright is a director who manages to put his own spin on different film genres. He breathed new life into zombie movies with Shaun of the Dead and made a legitimately fun comic book flick with Scott Pilgrim vs the World. It’s easy to expect Wright to deliver a fast-paced yet super fun heist movie, which he manages to do.
Despite the weak plot, the movie is a blast, mostly because of the characters that Wright has created. We have Baby, deep and mysterious and into a wide range of music to which he has an unnatural attachment. The audience is only allowed brief glimpses into his past, but it’s enough to puzzle together why he is the way he is. We’re also given an expository explanation as to his need for music at all times, which is delivered in a delightfully clever way by Mr. Spacey himself.
Then you have Bats, played by Jamie Foxx. “Bats” is short for “Bat-Shit,” indicating how crazy the character is. We’re given nothing about Bats’s past, yet Foxx’s portrayal of the character intimates just how deep his psychoses run. Foxx is great in this role and makes it really easy for audiences to hate him.
Then there’s John Hamm’s Buddy. An enigma for most of the film, it’s hard to gauge which way Buddy goes. He’s a bank robber, sure, but he’s also the only one who’s ever shown Baby any respect. Hamm imbues Buddy with a dead-eyed stare and cool charisma that makes him look like he was ripped right out of a Tarantino film, which makes him a perfect fit for the world of Baby Driver.
With how much we give credit to Edgar Wright for his direction and the actors for their delivery, we also need to recognize the editors, Jonathan Amos and Paul Machliss. I’m sure much of the film kept with Wright’s vision, but Amos and Machliss cut it so that it gels perfectly. A lot of the fun of the movie is within the action sequences, where the gunshots and sound effects sync up with the film’s soundtrack. It’s subtle at first; you almost don’t realize it’s happening but when you do, it adds depth to the scenes.
Speaking of the music, I can’t ignore the soundtrack as it’s an important element of the film. The song selections work brilliantly with the on-screen actions. Similar to the way Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 handled its own musical numbers, Baby Drivers takes innocuous song choices and pairs them with intense, frenetic action. A tire-screeching police chase set to “Bellbottoms” by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion? It works. An explosive gun fight in a dirty warehouse with Button Down Brass’s “Tequila” as the back drop? Flawless. (The soundtrack also features Ducky from NCIS and I never thought I’d type that sentence but here I am.)
There’s more to Baby Driver than just cool characters and an OK plot; it’s a movie that delivers an experience. From the very start, and I mean at the start of the vanity logos, the film includes a low level hum, just like the one Baby hears from his tinnitus. It accompanies almost all of the moments that aren’t occupied by music or explosions and is persistent throughout, making the audience feel just like Baby does. Sometimes it’s noticeable, sometimes it isn’t. Either way, we get a better idea of how Baby hears his world.
Baby Driver isn’t perfect, though. Baby’s world is turned around when he meets a pretty, perky waitress named Debora (Lily James). Debora’s goal is to cut and run out of town, a goal that Baby doesn’t realize he has until he meets her. James is lovely in the role but her part just runs flat. We get some back story into her character but it’s nothing of any significance. She has a whirlwind romance with Baby but she doesn’t actually change him in any way. We’ve already seen that he has a conscience despite what he does for a living; all Debora does is make him want to run away from the life he built in Atlanta.
It’s a weird dynamic, in a way, considering the relationship Wright shows us between Baby and his foster father, Joe (CJ Jones). Joe is deaf and uses a wheelchair, casting Baby in the caregiver role. Their relationship is so natural and authentic that I would find Joe a more believable reason for Baby to escape the world that he’s entrenched in. I guess you just can’t beat a pretty girl when it comes to movie tropes.
Leaving aside the stale plotline and few shallow characters, Baby Driver is a remarkable film. It’s a fun, upbeat romp in a summer overloaded with drab, ennui-filled popcorn flicks.