Tag Archives: lord of the rings

Lord of the Rings and Avatar the Last Airbender Action Figures Go Up for Pre-Order!

Tired of living in today’s science-fiction world? Enter a world of fantasy with Diamond Select Toys’ next two action figure releases! The first series of Lord of the Rings Deluxe action figures and the second series of Avatar the Last Airbender Deluxe action figures are up for pre-order now, on the DST site and other online retailers. Place your order today for delivery this fall!

Avatar The Last Airbender Deluxe Action Figures Series 2 Asst.

A Diamond Select Toys Release! Based on the hit animated series, Series 2 of Avatar the Last Airbender figures includes two highly requested figures! Firebender Azula and airbender Aang (in his Season 1 outfit) each include powerful bending effects pieces, and Aang even includes his glider! Each figure features approximately 16 points of articulation, is sculpted in a 7-inch scale, and is packaged in a full-color window box with hangtag.  Designed by Eamon O’Donoghue, sculpted by Richard Force. (Asst. #FEB208697, SRP: $24.99/ea.)

Lord of the Rings Action Figures Series 1 Asst.

A Diamond Select Toys release! Form the Fellowship! The epic new series of Lord of the Rings action figures begins with the original odd couple, the dwarf Gimli and the elf Legolas! Each 7-inch scale figure features 16 points of articulation, detailed sculpting and a full range of accessories. Each comes packaged in a full-color window box with hangtag, and each figure comes with a piece of Sauron – collect the whole line to build the 13-inch villain! Sculpted by Gentle Giant Studios. (Asst. #FEB208698, SRP: $24.99/ea.)

Super-Articulate: Your Collecting Timeline

I was posed this question by a co-worker yesterday. He asked, “How and when do you decide what to collect?” He meant specifically in terms of figures, but I suppose you can apply it to anything. I had a multi-year period where I collected baseball cards due to an increased interest I had in baseball around junior high. I’ve been getting comics nearly my entire life. But figures is an interesting question, and I think I can break that down.

First thing, I’m going to subtract just “generally getting toys” from the timeline. I had Fisher-Price Adventure People, for example, but I couldn’t say that I actively “collected” them. I’m only going to include lines that I could honestly say that I collected. (Let me clarify that the years are when I collected these series and not the dates that the lines necessarily ran).

Mego World’s Greatest Superheroes and Others (late ‘70s): I’m sketchy on the year, but the first Mego figure that I know I had was . . . Wonder Woman. I’m pretty sure my Aunt Jennie got me this, and I’m pretty sure it’s because I loved Super-Friends and Wonder Woman on TV. I could have been . . . 3, maybe? That would be 1976ish, which is about right, as Mego introduced the WW figure in 1974. Shortly after, I had Batman, Robin, Superman, Shazam!, Joker, Penguin, and Spider-Man. I’m honestly not sure why I didn’t have more Marvel. I DID, however, get three of the Mad Monsters: Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula, and The Mummy; I’m also not sure why I didn’t have the Wolf Man, as I love werewolves. I had Captain Kirk from the Star Trek line (this is the only one that my memory is fuzzy on, as I think I might have had a couple of others), a couple from Planet of the Apes, and all of the Wizard of Oz (except the Munchkins) and the Emerald City playset. A number of these were played to death, lost to time or garage sales or younger relatives. I believe I still have the Kirk somewhere as the last survivor; that’s because he doesn’t believe in the no-win scenario.

photo via MegoMuseum.com

Star Wars (1977-1984; 1995-2002ish; 2019): I’ve told this story here and elsewhere a couple of times, so I’ll keep this one brief. I was all in at the start; I even had the Early Bird Certificate. I was really consistent until I lost steam after ROTJ and stopped due to my interest in other things. When the line came back in the ‘90s, I picked up again and hung in until just after AOTC. I stopped completely until this past year when The Mandalorian re-ignited my interest, and I started filling in certain characters from the 6-inch Black Series. I kind of regret not getting on that sooner, but since I’m not approaching it as a completist, I’ll live with it.

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (1982-1987): Again, I’ve told this story, notably a much longer version in the book The Joy of Joe. I got into the 3-3/4” line early, and I was all in on both the toys and comics right up until around BattleForce 2000.

Masters of the Universe (1982-1984): A brief run, but one I should include. I really liked that Castle Grayskull playset.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons from LJN (1983-1984): A brief shining moment. I didn’t have all of them, but I had quite a few. These had great detail and should have stuck around longer.

Transformers (1984-1986): I was never a completist, and mostly done in 1985. I got a handful in 1986, including the Aerielbots and Hot Rod (which I got after the movie). My favorite from the line remains Jetfire.

Super Powers (1984-1986): Definitely not complete (I refer you to the previously discussed Mister Miracle and Cyborg), but I loved this line and would have certainly gotten more if they’d gone into the proposed Teen Titans, Blue Devil, and more.

THE LAYOFF (1987-1991): I quit collecting for a few years spanning junior high and in to the senior year of high school or so. The absence was due to a variety of reasons: lack of interest, concentrating on comics, lack of money, sudden upturn in the ability to secure dates, school activities, hanging out with bands, and so on. But the thing that really brought me back, outside of a stray pick-up here or there, was when the Toy Biz X-Men line launched in 1991.

Marvel/X-Men/Spider-Man/etc. (1991 to Now, really): I am a nearly lifelong X-Men fan. Seeing them get figures ahead of the animated series brought me back. And when I went in, I went in all the way. With a brief break for the cessation of Marvel Legends a decade ago, I’ve pretty much been in the tank ever since. I narrowed my focus over time to the 6-inch Legends, and they comprise the bulk of my collecting today.

Star Trek (Playmates; 1992-1996 or so): I told the story of my girlfiend (now wife) hunting down the original Deanna Troi figure for me. I was definitely into this for a good bit, picking up a lot of ST:TNG, DS9, and TOS figures. I stopped around Voyager due to a combo of burnout, the return of Star Wars, and my ongoing focus on comics figures.

Spawn/Youngblood/Wetworks (1994-1996): Like seemingly everyone else that started getting McFarlane Toys, I was drawn in by the details and the chance to get characters from an exciting new publisher. My favorites were the Wetworks figures (again, love that Werewolf). I stepped away from these as I lost interest in the comics themselves.

Total Justice/JLA (1996-1999): I really wanted a DC line in the ‘90s that was comparable to the Toy Biz Marvel avalanche. This was a decent, brief attempt. It got extended into comic shops and TRU exclusivity (loved the “hard light” evil versions of the JLA based on the “Rock of Ages” comic arc) and actually did Connor Hawke (MIA in action figure form ever since).

DC Direct (1998-2010ish): I loved DC Direct for a good, long while. There were some maddening bits (scale inconsistency, an unwillingness to finish teams), but there were some truly great character selections that we’ll possibly never see again (Enemy Ace? Tim Hunter? The Authority? Spider Jerusalem? Jericho?). For a kid that always wanted JSA and Legion figures, this line was a partial dream come true. I ultimately ditched it due to character repetition, increasing prices, and a more enjoyable experience collecting DCUC and doing the C+C figures with my kids.

Wrestling (WCW/Toy Biz 1998-2001; WWF/E:1998-2001ish): Like millions (and millions) of people, I was very into wrestling for a time at the turn of the century. I’d watched a lot in the mid ‘80s, gone away from it, and picked it back up watching Nitro rebroadcasts while working the late shift of a publisher. (I was working 3pm to 11:30pm, and TNT would rerun the show after I got off work.) Soon after, I was watching both WWF/E and WCW, and soon after that, the Toy Biz WCW figures hit. I got interested for a while, but my collecting of the figures faded as a I watched less and less.

Dragonball Z (circa 2000-2007): Similar time frame, similar story. Started watching DBZ on Toonami. The show had an incredible array of characters and I really enjoyed it. I got these for a good while, including the DB and GT spin-off lines, but I tapered off when they did.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel (2000ish-2006): Again, you love a show and you might buy the figures. I really feel like these could have gone on longer, as there are a number of characters that never quite made it (seriously, where the hell was Gunn? Or Connor or Gwen Raiden or Harmony or Nina?). I stopped just ahead of them releasing Kennedy and Kendra, which I never picked up.

Gundam (2001-2003): Stop me if you’re heard this one before. But I started watching Gundam Wing, and . . . yeah. I got A TON of these as I started writing for Newtype USA and watching more and more Gundam series. I didn’t list it, but I picked some up in “Japan” at EPCOT a couple of years ago.

Lord of the Rings (2001-2005): Loved the book for years. Loved the animation. Loved the movies. I thought that the figures were great. I didn’t get the tail-end variants or the Eye of Sauron, but I did get the trolls, the horses and warg, and the fell beast. I regret that a different company got the license for The Hobbit films; I never did get any of those, and they never completed the dwarves.

Justice League (2003-2009ish): One of the greatest animated series of all times turned out a line of great-looking figures that had a really hard time standing up. I burned out when they started doing more and more direct exclusives, etc., but I did get the Grundy and Giganta. I gave all of these to my boys.

DC Universe Classics (2007-2012): You know something? I loved this line. I thought it was a worthy compliment to Marvel Legends and the Collect + Connect figures were among the first things that my sons contributed to helping with where my collection is concerned. The character selection overall was great and Mattel deployed some boxed sets in clever ways to get us characters like the Crime Syndicate. One of my favorite things ever is the Legion of Super-Heroes boxed set. It was a drag when they had to go the subscription model, but I stuck with it the whole time (and with Club Black Freighter, too). I know they tried to continue the idea with DC Multiverse, and I have more than a couple of those as a companion to these, but they just weren’t quite the same. This is a lamented line for me.

CURRENTLY: Marvel Legends and certain Star Wars: The Black Series (6-inch scale only). I will pick up occasional DC figures that hit a spot that’s not covering on my shelf (come on with the classic Dawnstar, McFarlane).

All right, readers. What about you? What are your main lines? How long? What’s the line you collected the longest that you eventually quit, and why? Let’s talk.

New Pop! Movies: The Lord of the Rings in February

This series of Pop! Movies: The Lord of the Rings  features Gollum, Lurtz, Merry and Pippin. Rounding out the series is Aragorn!

Gollum has a chase, featured with fish. A rarity of 1-in-6.

Pop! Movies: The Lord of the Rings are out from Funko in February.



Don’t be hasty, look for the 6” Pop! of Treebeard!

And there’s exclusives! At Barnes and Noble you can find invisible Gollum!

Look for Aragorn as King Elessar at Toys”R”Us!

9 Ideas for Amazon’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ Show

LOTRFI

Unless you’ve been chilling out in your hobbit hole smoking a couple bowls of Old Toby with limited wi-fi connection courtesy of the Hobbiton equivalent of Time Warner/Spectrum, you may have heard that Amazon Studios now has the rights to make television shows based on The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos himself tweeted about the acquisition, which some see as a power move to try to have a big fantasy show to compete with HBO and Game of Thrones. And if you’re trying to make a “prestige” fantasy universe, you can’t go wrong with playing in J.R.R. Tolkien’s original high fantasy sandbox even though Peter Jackson’s 2001-2003 Lord of the Rings trilogy is a modern film classic and basically my generation’s Star Wars. (The two too many Hobbits not so much.)

In related news,  J.R.R. Tolkien’s son, Christopher Tolkien, who has been the director of the Tolkien Estate since the author’s passing in 1973 has stepped down and is retiring. Christopher Tolkien compiled his father’s posthumous works, including the Silmarillion (1977), which features the creation myth of Middle Earth and sets up many of the events of Lord of the Rings. (Characters like Gandalf, Galadriel, and Elrond even cameo in it.) However, he wasn’t a big fan of the film adaptations and refused to sell Warner Bros the rights to any books other than Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit.

This could all change with his retirement, and Tolkien geeks could look forward to The Silmarillion trilogy to go with unending Star Wars sequels and Harry Potter prequels. But for the sake of this article, I’ll be limiting the possible TV shows to stories and characters that appear in The Lord of the Rings, it copious appendices, and The Hobbit even though a show about the rise and fall of Numenor would dunk on Game of Thrones while stealing its lunch money and making out with its romantic partner.

All these stories take place before Fellowship of the Ring just like the potential show mentioned in the Amazon press release.

YayAragorn

9. Young Aragorn Show

This show was the first one that came to mind for many Tolkien fans so let’s get it out of the way first. Even though he looks like he’s in his mid-30s, Aragorn is actually in his 80s during Lord of the Rings, which earns a laugh from Eowyn, who has an unrequited crush on him. He has been around the block a little bit: riding through the wild with Elrond’s sons, fighting for both Gondor and Rohan, and even going on a solo man hunt for Gollum. (The subject of a solid, violent fan film.)

The Aragorn prequel show definitely shouldn’t go the Gotham route and have Aragorn be a kid with the exception of flashbacks featuring him in Rivendell and not being a fan of his foster father Elrond pushing him towards becoming king of Gondor. It would work best in the vein of the 2013 Tomb Raider game, Casino Royale, and Batman Begins showing how the orphan Estel became the hardened, badass ranger, Strider, and a king in exile. Hell, you could probably come up with a whole part of a character arc from one of Viggo Mortensen’s long, smouldering looks in Lord of the Rings.

Besides being a cool lone wanderer fantasy adventure show, like Xena with stubble, the young Aragorn prequel has a wealth of relationships to develop from his father figures Elrond and Gandalf to younger versions of Theoden and Denethor when he fights as a mercenary for Rohan and Gondor and especially his romance with Arwen. Honestly, I could watch a whole season of them fighting the forces of Evil in the North and doing a lot of smooching.

ElrondIsildur

8. Isildur and Elrond Show

This show would take place 3,000+ years before the Fellowship of the Ring, but it would be fantastic and could lead into the epic battle, cold open in Fellowship. It would focus on the characters of Elrond and Isildur and provide an inside look at the legendary “Last Alliance” between humans and Elves from the POV of their two young leaders. The show could flesh out Isildur’s father, Elendil, and Elrond’s commander, Gil-Galad, who barely appeared in Fellowship and show what kind of personalities the men who stood up against Sauron had.

Isildur, his father, and brother are also some of the last refugees from the Atlantis-like island of Numenor, which was destroyed by the Valar (Gods of Middle Earth) after their last king struck up an alliance with Sauron. So, the main conflict of the series wouldn’t just be good versus evil, but also personal. It could also show how Elrond went from an optimistic Half-Elf warrior to a cynical, misanthrope after Isildur decides to keep the One Ring and not destroy it. Speaking of the Ring, it already has a built in climax as Isildur chooses power over peace and allows Sauron to survive. (Honestly, Elrond should have pushed him in the lava and saved a lot of trouble.)

If Amazon is serious about being competitive with Game of Thrones and wants to do a real high fantasy show, they couldn’t go wrong with adapting the story of the first war against Sauron featuring the characters of Isildur and Elrond. Plus it’s a chance at seeing the Elven rings in action, having flashbacks featuring Sauron in a sexy, deceptive, Milton’s Lucifer form, and also exploring the interesting topic of religion in Middle Earth. Because Isildur is probably pissed off that his homeland is thousands of feet underwater.

Haradrim

7. Rhun or Harad-Focused Show

Although not as bad as his frenemy C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien’s treatment of race in Lord of the Rings was quite problematic. You could play a drinking game with how many times he refers to “non-Western” humans as “swarthy” in the book. Sauron’s allies, the people of Rhun (Who are referred to by the basically racist sobriquet Easterlings),  and Harad, don’t fare much better in the film and are just face mask and turban wearing enemies for the main characters to cut through or sneak around.

Even though they get zero characterization in the books and films, both Tolkien and Jackson saw some potential in the people of Rhun and Harad in a monologue delivered by Sam in the book and Faramir in the movie where he asks, “You wonder what his name is… where he came from. And if he was really at heart.” I think a serious fantasy war drama about a young Rhun or Haradrim would be fascinating and go into the motivation behind banding together with someone really evil in Sauron and Mordor.

In Tolkien’s Unfinished Tales, he mentions a resistance movement to Sauron in Rhun, and this footnote could turn into an entire TV show. I think it would be more powerful to show the life of a Rhun or Haradrim soldier, who fought for Sauron and their daily life and emotions.

While HBO is doing a fantasy/alternate show about the Confederacy winning the Civil War, wouldn’t it be cool if Amazon did a revisionist take on the Tolkien mythos and gave people of color agency and robust character arcs to go with the cool armor designs and giant elephants?

TombofBalin

6. Mines of Moria Show

Players and ex-players (Like yours truly) of The Lord of the Rings Online should definitely know that the Mines of Moria is easily one of the coolest and scariest places in Middle Earth. It’s the ultimate RPG dungeon, and unfortunately The Fellowship of the Ring could only show audiences its main quest line. This is why a show centered around Balin’s failed colonization of Moria would be a very entertaining and horrifying show.

The show could begin with Balin (Ken Stott reprising his role from The Hobbit films) feeling restless in a peaceful Erebor and deciding to reclaim the dwarves’ ancestral homeland and mine the beyond precious metal mithril. There would be plenty of gruff humor, axe swinging action, and all kinds of creepy critters either from Tolkien’s mythos or twisted original creations.

I was sad that Guillermo del Toro didn’t get to direct The Hobbit films so it would be really redemptive for him if he directed the pilot, executive produced, and helped design some of the monsters for this Mines of Moria show. It could provide a longer look at one of the cooler places in Middle Earth and also tell a story from the POV of the dwarves, who are supporting players in both the Middle Earth books and films. Plus it would make the Tomb of Balin scene even sadder.

TheodenBoss

5. Young Theoden Show

Rohan is one of the most fascinating countries in Middle Earth because they’re basically Vikings, who ride horses. J.R.R. Tolkien’s essay The Monsters and the Critics  is pretty much responsible for you reading Beowulf in AP English or Lit 101, and you can see a lot of his passion for the 9th century Anglo-Saxon epic poem in the honorable warriors and people of Rohan. Plus “shield maiden” is seriously a job you can have there until Grima Wormtongue decided to bring the patriarchy back.

As played by Bernard Hill with a fantastic wig, Theoden is one of my favorite characters in The Two Towers and Return of the King. He has strong emotional connections to his niece, Eowyn, his late son, Theodred, and even the hobbit, Meriadoc Brandybuck. Theoden also has a passive aggressive relationship with the people of Gondor, which he kind of takes out on Aragorn. (The whole “Where was Gondor?” scene.) His empathetic approach to kingship would be a unique wrinkle in a TV drama landscape filled with assholes and anti-heroes

A Theoden TV show would also be a chance to explore the relationship between the Rohirrim and people of Dunland, who were allies of Saruman in The Two Towers and utilize a fantasy setting to look at political imperialism. Theoden might be a nice guy, but he perpetuates the oppressive status quo, oops.

HBT2-fs-140204.DNG

4. Tauriel/War of the Ring “Northern Front” Show

While the Lord of the Rings was focusing on the events in Gondor, Rohan, and Mordor, there was a whole war being fought in the North. Remember the dwarves, people of Dale, and Elves of Mirkwood from The Hobbit? They had to deal with hordes of Orcs and Sauron’s allies from Rhun decades after liberating their people from a giant dragon voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch.  The valiant effort of Legolas’ fabulous father Thranduil and the dwarves of Erebor and the Iron Hills misdirected resources that could have been used to hunt down Frodo and the One Ring or besiege Minas Tirith.

The setting of the War of the Ring’s “Northern Front” would be a prime place to reintroduce the unfairly maligned character, Tauriel, who was played by Ant-Man‘s Evangeline Lilly in The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug and The Battle of Five Armies. With Legolas traveling with the Fellowship, she’s the top warrior of Mirkwood and also has interesting connection to the dwarves because of her relationship with Kili from The Hobbit. Most of the leaders in Lord of the Rings are male so it would nice to see the War of the Rings from a female POV and get a real arc for Tauriel instead of just being a cog in a forced love story.

This show would also provide an opportunity for Lee Pace to come back as Thranduil, King of Mirkwood, and I could definitely use some more fantastic eyebrows and moose mounts. An interesting subplot could be centered around the Elves of Lothlorien deciding to help at Helm’s Deep instead of their relatives’ war in the North, which probably made Thranduil furious.

WitchKing

3. Rangers of the North vs. The Witch King Show

This show idea completely comes from my personal love for the “Shadows of Angmar” quest line in the Lord of the Rings Online MMO. Before he chased down hobbits with magical rings, the Witch King was responsible for the decline and eventual demise of Arnor, the kingdom in the North that Aragorn is the heir to. The attack on Weathertop in The Fellowship of the Ring is the Witch King basically talking trash to Aragorn and telling him that the North still belongs to him.

The battle between the Witch King and Arnor is interesting because with the help of hobbits, Elves, and Gondorians, the Rangers of the North eventually defeat him, but they’re scattered and have no real political power. This is why Aragorn looks like he hasn’t taken a bath ever (And still looks hot.) instead of looking like royalty in Fellowship of the Ring. 

The war between Arnor and Angmar spans five centuries and involves Arnor splitting into three separate kingdoms. (Game of Thrones is not original.) A good way to tell this long story would be to pick a family of Rangers and tell their story over the years and using the framing device of Aragorn telling the story to the hobbits by the camp fire. They didn’t have much food so they had to do something to pass the time. The show’s setting in the North could also lead to cameos from fan favorite characters, like Tom Bombadil, the Barrow-Wights, and Old Man Willow as well as the occasional hobbit and familiar places like the Prancing Pony Inn.

OrcsGross

 

2. A Dark Comedy About Orcs, War, and Their Feelings

With the exception of  Saruman and Gollum, the forces of Evil in Lord of the Rings aren’t really well-sketched out. The glorified flashlight Eye of Sauron that pops up throughout the three films is certainly no Hannibal Lecter, Anton Chigurh, or even Jason Voorhees. Sure, Weta Workshop’s designs for the various Orcs, Goblins, and Uruk-Hai in Lord of the Rings is very cool and grotesque, but Peter Jackson didn’t have time to dig into their inner feelings in his film trilogy.

This is where this unnamed show about Orcs and their feelings come into play. It should be a war story about foot soldier on either the Gondor or Rohan front and be a dark comedy in the vein of Full Metal Jacket, MASH, or most recently, Four Lions finding the funny side of fighting for the forces of evil. The main character should be either a foot soldier or non-commissioned officer with occasional cameos from named Orcs/Uruk-hai from the books and films, like Lurtz, Gothmog (The puffy, white faced guy from Return of the King) , and Gorbag, who did a cool crane kick move before getting stabbed in the back by Samwise Gamgee.

I am here for latrine digging humor and jabs from regular Orcs about how the Uruk-Hai are pretty, but dumb as well as finding out what the ordinary, lunch pail, er, scimitar wielding foot soldier thinks about Sauron and his war against humans, Elves, and the “free people”.  A good showrunner for this project would be one of Middle Earth (Aka New Zealand’s) finest comedic directors Taika Waititi if he’s not too busy making every future Marvel movie.

GreatBilboBakeOff

1. The Great Bilbo Bake Off

In the terrible of year of 2017, who wouldn’t want a show featuring cakes, pies, pastries, and all matter of hobbit treats judged by Noel Fielding, Paul Hollywood, and company. Plus since this competition technically takes place in a fantasy world, why not bring back Mel, Sue, and everyone’s favorite Commander of the British Empire, Mary Berry from previous seasons of the Earth spinoff of The Great Bilbo Bakeoff.

Yes, because he’s one of the oldest hobbits, Bilbo (As played by Martin Freeman, duh.) should definitely be the main judge of his show. It would also give him a much needed break from his hobby of map flipping, ring fondling, and generally being a weird loner hoarder. Plus his 111th birthday is coming up, and you definitely need a tasty cake if you’ve lived that long.

Just be wary of the Sackville-Bagginses taking your Baked Alaska out of the freezer…

The Sights, Sounds (and Selfies) of C2E2 2017

Four years after I first visited it as a 19 year old journalist, I returned to C2E2 in 2017 to a much more crowded show floor and a world where a monosyllabic tree and a talking raccoon, not Iron Man were the most popular characters in the Marvel Universe. Most of my C2E2 was spent wandering around Artist’s Alley, chatting with creators/fellow fans/Twitter friends, and trying to not get lost.

One reason I love C2E2 is that they bring in excellent comics guests to balance the celebrities and their overpriced autographs. ($100 for Stan Lee. Come on!) There’s everyone from the very friendly and passionate webcomic creator Ngozi Ukazu from Check Please! to veteran writers, like Greg Rucka and Kieron Gillen, and I found myself flipping from Archie to Black Mask and occasionally a side of the Big Two while walking around. The Artist’s Alley is the beating heart of the con even though C2E2 also has two quite large gaming areas for console gamers and tabletop fans, and the Weta Workshop truly spoke to the Lord of the Rings nerd in me.

Here is a gallery of pictures of my C2E2 2017 experience starting with the Captain Marvel cosplayer I met while waiting for the shuttle bus and ending with a moment where I felt like a comic book character. (Dionysus from The Wicked + the Divine #8 aka the rave issue to be specific.)

 

 

 

Six Things at C2E2 I’m Most Excited About

I love C2E2, not just because it’s located in the great city of Chicago, home of the best pizza, rappers, and (As of this writing.) basketball team in the world. C2E2 one of the few big time cons that still focuses on comic books and their creators, not just celebrities and movie trailers. It’s also the first comic book convention that I attended many moons ago in 2013 when I strode into the press lounge asking how to interview a comic book creator and frantically texting my editor. But it was a great time, and I got to see some of my heroes, including Felicia Day, comic book painter demigod Alex Ross, Kieron Gillen, and the very kind Doctor Who and Wolverine writer Paul Cornell.

I am very excited to return to C2E2 in 2017 and bask in the glow of comic book fans, creators, and publishers. Here are six things you should check out at (or after) the show, which runs from Friday, April 21 to Sunday, April 23.

  1. C2E2 Exclusive Variants/Comics

At their most primal (and capitalist) level, cons are about buying stuff that we think is cool. Whether that’s a celebrity pretending to care about us for sixty seconds, a print by our favorite artist, or a replica of Mjolnir because we have a god complex. One thing I love about comic book conventions is the opportunity to get special covers of comic books. It can be a snapshot reminder of meeting a certain creator, having an artist draw a character you like, or a bit of both like when I picked up Joe Quinones’ Serenity: Leaves of the Wind variant at Baltimore Comic Con in 2014. (Mal and Inara drawn like a pulp novel cover equals major heart eyes.)

Number one on my list of special comics to pick up at C2E2 is an exclusive early copy of Matthew Rosenberg and Tyler Boss’ hilarious 80s period piece/crime comic Four Kids Walk Into A Bank #4, published by Black Mask Studios. There are only 66 copies of this comic, which features a cover by We Can Never Go Home so get to their booth quickly, and all proceeds to go to the anti-gun violence charity, CeaseFire Illinois. You get to read a cool comic early and help an important cause. Some other comics worth checking out are horror maestro Rafael Albuquerque’s variant for the new Alien: Dead Orbit series, Scott Hampton’s classic fantasy style cover for American Gods #1, Matt Wagner’s creepy Joker-centric cover for The Dark Knight III #1, and Mike Allred doing Flash of Two Worlds Harley Quinn #1 style.

And if you’re a huge Lord of the Rings geek and have money to burn, you could always grab an exclusive Helm of Sauron from Chicago Costume…

2. The Valiant X-O Manowar Release Party (And General Con Presence)

The resurrection of Valiant Entertainment as a publisher has been one of the great comics success stories of the past five years. And they have quite the C2E2 planned with everything from a special beer to commemorate the launch of X-O Manowar #1 by Matt Kindt and my favorite Conan artist Tomas Giorello to Bloodshot coffee mugs.

Valiant is doing a full spread of panels, including ones about X-O Manowar’s past, present, and future as their flagship book and one about the upcoming Harbinger Wars 2 crossover with never seen before art and information about this book, which will affect almost all Valiant titles, including Faith. There’s also an early look at Ninjak vs. The Valiant Universea live action webseries featuring many Valiant heroes, like Ninjak, who will be played by Jason David Frank. (The former Green Power Ranger.)

And to cap things off, there’s the X-O Manowar #1 release party held at 7 PM on Friday at the Cobra Lounge. The party is also celebrating the release of Pipeworks Brewing Company’s X-O Manowar Galactic Golden Ale and has a $5 cover charge that will be donated to the suicide prevention charity, Hope for the Day. Comics and craft  beer are an excellent combination, and maybe you’ll spot Valiant’s famous ale and wine swilling immortal, Armstrong, at the party.

I HATE FAIRYLAND

3. Image Comics Panels

Image Comics is home for some of the creative comics of the 2010s in a variety of genres from dystopian science fiction (Bitch Planet) to space opera (Saga), urban fantasy (The Wicked + the Divine), and even sex comedy (Sex Criminals) and autobiography (Self-Obsessed). And all of Image’s books are owned by their creators.

One place to see all of your favorite Image creators at one place is at various panels. The one I’m looking forward to most is  “Image Comics Presents: Storytelling Essentials”, which will be held on Saturday at 11:15 AM and is a general chat about craft, influences, and inspirations. The panel lineup is pretty stacked and includes up and coming writer Donny Cates (God Country), queen of all colorists Jordie Bellaire (Injection), artist of all the pretty people Jamie McKelvie (WicDiv), the legend Greg Rucka (The Old Guard), the artist with one of the cleanest lines in comics Declan Shalvey (Injection), and writer/artist of adorable superhero babies and demented fairy tale characters Skottie Young (I Hate Fairyland).

I can’t wait to hear the interactions between this eclectic group of creators, who demonstrate on a daily basis that comics are much more than superheroes, and artists and colorists are equal, if not superior participants to writers in the creative process.

4. Weta Workshop Awesomeness

Before I got into comics, I was a huge (and still am) J.R.R. Tolkien and Lord of the Rings nerd. They weren’t splashed on the covers of Entertainment Weekly and People, like the trilogy’s stars and Academy Award winning director Peter Jackson, but the visual effects and makeup team at Wellington, New Zealand’s Weta Workshop truly brought the denizens of Middle Earth to life in both Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Plus they’re named after a prehistoric, resilient cricket that only lives in New Zealand.

Weta is also responsible for crafting the worlds of Narnia, the Planet of the Apes, Mad Max Fury Road, and the upcoming Thor Ragnarok and excels at both practical effects and CGI. One thing that they are especially known for is creating large scale miniatures, like the ones of Minas Tirith, Helm’s Deep, and the dark fortress of Barad-Dur in Lord of the Rings as well as the Great Wall of China in the recent 2017 Matt Damon film with the same name.

And lucky for fans of science fiction and fantasy, they have booth and panel at C2E2 where you can geek out over Gollum, King Kong, Elven blades, or Power Ranger suits and check out the company’s portfolio and history. As icing on the cake, you can see a live makeup “transformation” featuring Warren Dion-Smith. Basically, you will see how flesh and blood human beings become orcs live and in person. The panel is at 2:30 PM on Sunday.

5. Mike Colter Panel

Marvel Studios is bringing several of the actors from their TV shows to C2E2, including Iain de Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge, who play the adorable, quirky British agents in Agents of SHIELD, the Kingpin of crime himself Vincen D’Onofrio, and finally, Mike Colter, who played Luke Cage in Jessica Jones and Luke Cage and will reprise his role in the upcoming Netflix series, The Defenders. Before playing the hero formerly known as Power Man, Colter was a crime lord in CBS’ The Good Wife and had roles in The Following and American Horror Story: Coven.

Colter’s appearance at C2E2 is almost perfectly timed as a bulletproof, black superhero is a powerful image for the United States in 2017. We currently have an Attorney General in Jeff Sessions, who has disparaged the NAACP and was considered by Coretta Scott King to be too racist for a federal judge and is one of many cabinet members and high ranking racist, xenophobic (usually) men that run this country. By standing up for his community of Harlem against corruption, Luke Cage is a symbol of hope in this dark time, and Mike Colter embodies him perfectly by playing him with a wonderful mix of physical presence, understated politeness, and a touch of rage in the middle of battle.

And, on a pure fan level, it will be interesting to see how much (or little) Mike Colter is allowed to say about Defenders, which is coming out in about four months. I am intrigued to see if he has anything to say about working with Finn Jones’ Iron Fist, and if they had any of the chemistry that Luke Cage and Danny Rand had in the comics. Jessica Jones, Daredevil, and Luke Cage were all enjoyable shows, and the environment in this panel room is bound to electric with anticipation for their team-up in Defenders with the audience hanging on every crumb of information Colter doles out about the upcoming show.

6. WicDiv Panel and Exclusive Merchandise

If you have read my work at all, you know that I wouldn’t end an article about a comic convention without bumping The Wicked + the Divine, which is my favorite current comic. Writer Kieron Gillen is making his first appearance at C2E2 since 2013, which was the glory days of Young Avengers, and artist Jamie McKelvie is going to his first C2E2 ever. They are bringing some exclusive merch, including pins of a death skull and Persephone’s hand and a very metal Baphomet t-shirt. Wearing this shirt instantly gives you the superpowers of ripped abs, Andrew Eldritch sunglasses, and fire swords.

And it’s kind of fitting that the WicDiv panel is being held on Sunday as fellow fans, er, worshipers of the Pantheon can join together and air out our feelings about the bittersweet ending to the “Imperial Phase” arc and get ready for the WicDiv #455 featuring the gods of ancient Rome. The panel is at 2:30 PM and will most likely have some glorious cosplay.

And that is my highly subjective list of the six coolest things to do at C2E2. Remember to stay hydrated, pack a portable phone charger, and take plenty of selfies with your favorite comic book creators and fans of general awesome things.

Coming Soon from Funko: Lord of the Rings Pop! Keyschains & Pop!s!

Now’s your chance to order these awesome new Lord of the Rings Pop!s! and Pop! Keychains that Funko announced at London Toy Fair!

Pop Keychains: Lord of the Rings

Take Frodo and Gandalf on your own quest with these Pocket Pop! Keychains!

Add them to your key ring this spring! Both are out in June!

Pop Movies: Lord of the Rings

This series features characters Gandalf, Frodo, Samwise Gamgee, a Nazgul, Saruman, and the Balrog! Look for the Frodo chase variant – a 1 in 6 rarity! Beware the Balrog is in 6-inch Pop! form! These new pops come to shelves in June!

Fashion Spotlight: The Best Cosplay Party EVER!!!, LOTR, The Doctor’s Express

Ript Apparel has three new designs! The Best Cosplay Party EVER!!!, LOTR, and The Doctor’s Express, by wagnogueira and bomdesignz are on sale today only! Get them before they’re gone!

The Best Cosplay Party EVER!!!

the-best-cosplay-party-ever

LOTR

lotr

The Doctor’s Express

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Unboxing: Nerd Block’s November 2016 Classic Block

Nerd Block Classic‘s November 2016 box has arrived and here’s what you can find inside. The box includes items from Deadpool, Nightmare Before Christmas, Back to the Future, and more.

What’s inside? Check out the video to find out!

You can get your own Nerd Block here.

 

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site.

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