Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Passport to adventure - renewed!

We used to be able to travel across the border to the states with only a driver’s license for ID. In the last two decades they tightened up security – needing a passport to fly to the U.S., but we were still able to drive across the border with just a license.

Then they tightened up the border as well and we came out with an enhanced ID that you could get instead of getting a passport. Since I don’t fly a lot, I got that instead. It was a bit cheaper, but you had to go for an interview to get it done.

When it was came up to expire in 2012, I was told that I had to interview again. Since we were travelling too soon and their office hours were not good, I was unable to get an appointment before we had to travel so I rushed a 5 year passport.
I then got a renewed enhanced license in the mail.
On the upside, when we went to Disney World last year, my passport was still valid so I didn’t have to get one.

This summer, I kept mentioning that I should probably check to see if I needed to renew it. When I finally got around to digging it out and checking, it turns out that my instincts were right. So I had to scramble to get it renewed before it expired.
The office close at 4:30 pm but I was able to squeak in and get it done in time. I ended up getting a 10 year renewal. This should cover most of my remaining travelling days. It works out to under $20 a year, which I consider a bargain for the ability to go anywhere at a moment’s notice.

Not that I often get a chance to do that. But I could.

Monday, October 9, 2017

State of the Marvel Universe - miniature game

With a bit more searching, I was able to get more figures for the Marvel Universe Miniature game. I think I’m good now. I have all 5 starters, 13 of the 19 single figures, the 3 sets of markers, and the spray template. Of the Spider-Man game figures, that work with the Batman Miniature game but also have cards to use with the Marvel Universe game, I don’t have any of the 3 starters, but do have 4 of the 5 figures.

I have all the key figures I had wanted. There are still two figures that I am interested in, Loki and Elektra, but those both seem to be rare and expensive, so I will substitute Heroclix figures. I would also substitute for the rest of the figures I need unless the price drops on them significantly. These are Thanos, Doctor Octopus, Incredible Hulk, Venom, Hulkbuster MK44, and the other sculpt of Black Widow. If I run across the Spider-Man starters at a good price, I would get them as well – Superior Spider-Man, Spider Robots, and Goblin Cult.

Now I just have to paint them.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Figure Painting Total - September 2017

I was finally able to get a Jean Grey for Marvel Universe as well as another Emma Frost. The one I already owned had a casting issue with one of her legs. I will see if I can use some green stuff to fix it, and modify her to be a Scarlet Witch.
FunAgain had another sale, so I picked up some of the bigger figures to use with both Batman Miniatures and DC Universe.

BM/DCU – Clayface – 1
BM/DCU – Deathstroke – 1
BM/DCU – Harley Quinn – 1
BM/DCU – Soloman Grundy – 1
MU – Emma Frost – 1
MU – Jean Grey – 1

Oct figures bought - 6, figures painted – 0

Running total 2017 – figures bought 125, figures painted 0

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Cerebus - final thoughts

I have finally finished the last collection of the Cerebus series - The Last Day.

  While it was good to have read the whole series, I still feel that where I had originally stopped was probably a good spot for me.  I had originally read Cerebus, High Society, and Church & State 1 + 2.  I stopped before Jaka’s story.

I liked the parody parts in the first two, and loved the supporting characters of Lord Julius, Elrod, the Roach, and even Red Sophia.  I feel that he had nailed the look and character of Groucho Marx for Julius.  I hadn’t read Elric but knew of him, and thought he was sufficiently mocked as an overly serious character by giving him the speech pattern of Foghorn Leghorn for Elrod.  The Roach was the parody of the then-current comic industry, and Red Sophia was Cerebus’ Red Sonja.
Even though everyone raves about Jaka’s Story, when I finally read it, I wasn’t as impressed.  Heroes are defined by their struggles.  When they have achieved their goals, their story becomes less interesting.  I was never as smitten with Jaka as most of the readers seemed to be.
Cerebus becomes a series where the footnotes are as important as the regular story.  The research clearly shows.  I can’t compare the Oscar Wilde, Hemmingway, or Fitzgerald likenesses, but the Stooges, Woody Allen, and Marty Feldman are spot on, and even the young Mick and Keith are recognizable.
  Sim’s outlook and views have changed during the course of the series and it spills into the series.  Some people lose their minds about Sim writing the character Dave into the series and espousing ‘his’ views, but Sim is very meta about it, Dave is clearly a character.  Any resemblance to the views held by the character are carefully controlled by the author.  Some people have trouble separating the character Dave from the author Dave Sim.
Granted, I read these all after the fact, collected safely into tradebacks.  On a month-by-month basis, Sim was very interactive with his readers through the letters’ column.  Remember, this was in the pre- and early-internet days, and being able to speak and argue directly with the writer was an oddity.
The writing was often daring.  In the midst of the stories, with it spinning off on a tangent, the readers weren’t sure where it was going.  Collected, you can flip ahead to see where the threads lead, but as issues, the monthly wait must have been both exciting and frustrating.  I mean, we knew how it would end as that was foretold to Cerebus back in but the path to that destination left a lot of room for wandering.

My final thought on the series?  I’m good with it.  Even though I didn’t enjoy it as much after the Church & State storyline, I don’t mind buying and reading through the rest of the series.  At the very least, to help support a Canadian artist who was at the forefront of creator owned, and published books.  He may not have always been likeable but he was a champion for creator rights.
A 300 issue epic, written and drawn by the same creative team is not something that we are likely to see repeated often, if again.  To publish it as well, and keep all of it in print, is a milestone that will not often be passed.  The entire series fits nicely onto a shelf or into a short box if you’re tight for space. You can follow along with what he’s currently doing, like the Cerebus In Hell project or the , on the website A Moment of Cerebus.

Thanks, Dave Sim, for Cerebus, and letting us get to know you on this journey.  And thanks again for the sketch from 1994 at the Central City Distributors trade show in St. Louis.  I wish you good things on your way.

The ‘phone books’ are:
Cerebus – covers issues 1 - 25
High Society – covers issues 26-50
Church & State volume 1 – covers issues 52-80
Church & State volume 2 – covers issues 81-111

Jaka’s Story – covers issues 114-136
Melmoth – covers issues 139-150 (Oscar Wilde)

There is also a comic Cerebus Zero which collects the ‘missing’ issues which are not collected above – 51, 112-113, 137-138.

The Mothers and Daughters storyline is broken up into four smaller books.
Flight – covers issues 151-162
Women – covers issues 163-174
Reads – covers issues 175-186
Minds – covers issues 187-200

Guys – covers issues 201-219
Rick’s Story – covers issues 220-231

Going Home – covers issues 232-250 (Fitzgerald)
Form and Void – covers issues 251-265 (Hemingway)

Latter Days – covers issues 266-288 (Stooges, Woody Allen)
The Last Day – covers issues 289-300

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Batman Miniatures Game second edition

The Second Edition rules are up on the Knight Models site. They have already been updated. Part of this is due to correcting the translation from Spanish. They do not have a new book yet but they say that the Flash and Arrow book and the Arkham Campaign book are still compatible.

With this update, a lot of the figures have been moved to the Legends category. They are still usable, but are no longer being made in quantities. They have changed some of the gangs, and released a few new sets in resin.
Of the 30 figures I currently have, 20 of them are still current if you count the Suicide Squad box. Otherwise only 6 of them are current.

There have been some changes in the gangs. The Joker, Bane, Penguin, Mr. Freeze, Riddler, Court of Owls, and the new Amazons of Themyscira are all still there and basically unchanged. The Poison Ivy gang has been renamed the Gotham Sirens, the League of Shadows has been renamed the League of Assassins, and the Scarecrow gang is now called Militia. They have created a new gang called the Central City Villains and moved Grodd into it. The Watchmen were already gone prior to this update.

The bigger changes in the gangs is the combining of Batman, Law Forces, and Arrow into the new Brave and Bold. The Organized Crime now includes Black Mask, Lexcorp, and parts of the Wonderland Gang. They are starting with 5 resin starter sets to add to the Grodd and Shaman sets. They are Batman, Joker and Clowns, Bane and Mercenaries, Gotham Sirens, and Blackgate Prisioners. They are a bit cheaper than the metal figures and they look great. We’ll have to see how easy they are to work with.

Friday, September 15, 2017

FunAgain again

I’m ‘saving up’ to get more of the Games Workshop big game boxes, like Deathwatch: Overkill, The Horus Heresy: Burning of Prospero, Gangs of Commorragh, and the new Blood Bowl. However, FunAgain had another sale, so I picked up a few more figures for the Batman Miniature Game. I didn’t get too many – there is the pending second edition coming, and they have been grouping older figures into sets.

I ended up ordering two of the larger figures, Solomon Grundy and Clayface, and two regular figures, Deathstroke and Harley Quinn. On sale, the larger figures were hard to pass up. All four are figures that already have cards for the DC Universe game as well so that gives me a fair amount of villains to use.

The Court of Owls set and the Gotham Butcher are also on sale and are tempting in that they are a pretty small crew. I’ll probably pass for now and see what becomes of the Court of Owls crew with the new edition.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Figure Painting total - August 2017

Not much this month. I actually started putting together the Bat Signal and the Construction Set pieces. Painting could theoretically happen. If they aren’t too much trouble, I’m looking forward to doing one of the vans or even the billboards.

BM Bat Signal – 1
BM Construction Set 2 – 11
BM GCPD van – 1

Aug figures bought - 13, figures painted – 0

Running total 2017 – figures bought 119, figures painted 0

I think the biggest part of the weight of inertia behind not painting is the pressure to do a good job. That and the mass of figures to be painted. Because the Marvel and DC Universe games are much smaller sets, that takes a bit of the pressure off having to paint an army but because there are fewer figures, each one becomes more important, and the pressure to not screw it up increases as each figure then becomes a hero figure and can’t be lost in a squad.

Helping this, I now have a few figures that I don’t really care about (Gambit, Toad, Ares, and most of the figures from the Suicide Squad boxed set – especially Joker’s crew), and some of the heroes have a really easy costume scheme (Black Widow, Black Panther, Groot, and The Thing).

Plus, I now have enough buildings, cars, and scatter terrain that I can use to fill enough of a board to play a game. The ability to paint a few figures and then play with them helps. Games which have a larger painting requirement can be more daunting, as the reward for painting figures gets delayed until you have amassed enough painted figures for a game.