Thursday, June 23, 2016

Got my signed Dean Cain Pop

I wasn't able to meet Dean Cain at Toycon but I was able to pick up a signed Superman Pop!

Beggars can't be choosers.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Monday, June 20, 2016

Lucha Libre is one of my fave comics!

When the English version of this Les Humanoides Associes comic, Lucha Libre, was published by Image Comics in 2007, I was really happy because I thought that this was such a funny and off-beat comic written by Jerry Frissen and drawn by artists such as Bill, Witko, Tanquerelle, Reutimann, Gobi, Fabien M, and Christophe Gaultier. 

It's about five middle-aged Latinos who dress up as Luchadores fighting crime in East Los Angeles. They battle tiki warriors, werewolves, aliens, and rednecks! 

Meet Coolrain Lee, designer for the NBA Mindstyle toys.

Meet Coolrain Lee, designer for the NBA Mindstyle toys.
by rick olivares

During the recent Toycon at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, there were life-sized reproductions of NBA players rendered in the Mindstyle toy figurine manner that is a hit among basketball fans and toy collectors. The NBA Mindstyle Collectors Series was released in 2011 to great acclaim. Since then a second series was released with a third underway.

While the NBA Mindstyle figures were Toycon selfie hits, seated all the way in the back of exhibit was a bespectacled man who was sketching on a pad. Every now and then, he was asked to sign boxes of the toys by knowledgeable fans.

It was Korean toy designer wunderkind, Coolrain Lee; one of the brightest talents in the industry today.

We had a brief chat about Toycon, the NBA, and what he’s working on at the moment.

Rick: I understand that you didn't have any formal art training. Yet what prompted you to design toys? What were your favorite toys growing up? Did you get into manga and anime?

Coolrain: I majored in Chemistry during my time in university but I also studied 2D and 3D animation because I wanted to create them. I love animation especially “The Nightmare Before Christmas” by Tim Burton and “Wallace and Gromit” produced by Aardman Animations. It is because of them that I started collecting toys as a result. Like these animations, I want to create toys that can inspire people. Up to today, I collect a lot of toys, comic books, and look into art books related to animations.

With Coolrain Lee!

Rick: Are you a sports fan -- basketball, football, baseball? Do you have favorite sports teams? How did doing the NBA Mindstyle figures come about? Do you have a favorite basketball player? Which figure did you enjoy sculpting? Have you met any of the NBA players whose figures you did?

Coolrain: I watch a lot of basketball, football, baseball, tennis and other sports and I love to play basketball. In the 80-90s, I liked Chicago Bulls with Michael Jordan, Pippen and Dennis Rodman; and then Philadelphia with Allen Iverson; Orlando Magic with Shaquille O’Neill and Anfernee Hardaway; New York Knicks with Patrick Ewing; Houston Rockets with Hakeem Olajuwon; and currently I like Golden State Warriors with Curry and Oklahoma City with Kevin Durant. 

Rick: Did you have fun in Manila? What was the Toycon experience like for you?
Coolrain: I first visited Manilla four years ago because of an exhibition hosted by Vinyl on Vinyl (gallery in Manilla) and this is my second time visiting. I am very thankful to all my fans in Manilla for visiting me and special thanks to many of my fans who came with Eraser Heads created together with Bigboy Cheng from Secret Fresh. 

It was a great honour to meet so many fans at this ToyCon and it was a great memory I will never forget. 

Rick: Are you working on a new project? If so, what would that be? When can we expect it to come out?

Coolrain: I am currently preparing a new series and collaboration works under one of my original design series “Dunkeys” and planning to show it to the public at the end of this year. I am also working on a collaboration with an artist I like and will be available to the public but not so soon. And a new NBA series is also on the way. 

My signed Kobe Bryant box! 

Friday, June 17, 2016

C-3PO: The Phantom Limb is a droids' Saving Private Ryan

The C-3PO: The Phantom Limb one-shot has got to be one of the best that Marvel has put out with regards to its Star Wars line.

I eagerly looked forward to this for two reasons: to learn why everyone's favorite protocol droid has a red left arm and to read what the creative team of James Robinson and Tony Harris have concocted. It was a reunion for the two who last worked together 20 years ago on one of my fave comic book series ever -- Starman! 

In "The Phantom Limb" a resistance ship goes down and the only survivors are six droids one of which, Omri, is a protocol droid for the First Order with knowledge on where Admiral Ackbar is kept. They fight their way to safety at a downed tie-fighter however at a great cost. Omri and C-3PO are the only two ones left and throughout their "journey" they discuss sentience, mind-wipes, and their duties to their respective masters. 

Personally, it is a wonderful story; one I wish were slightly a little longer. It's like a Saving Private Ryan for droids! One of the better limited series that Marvel has put out since re-acquiring the Star Wars franchise. 

I'm still not liking Robinson's writing for Marvel; I don't think he has a firm grasp of the characters like the Fantastic Four unlike his writing for Starman, The Golden Age, or the Justice Society of America. But here it isn't so bad.  Harris' art isn't like what he produced for Starman as well and it's just good to see him back.

This one is for every Star Wars fan including the completist. And for those old time fans who wondered at the red arm in The Force Awakens, you gotta get this!

And oh, it does go well with my Chrome C-3PO Funko Pop!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Hayley “Agent Carter” Atwell to grace AsiaPop Comicon 2016

Hayley “Agent Carter” Atwell to grace AsiaPop Comicon 2016
by rick olivares

British-American actress Hayley Atwell was announced last Wednesday, June 15, as one of the headliners of the upcoming AsiaPop Comics Convention this coming August 26-28 at the SMX Convention Center at the Mall of Asia complex in Pasay City.

Atwell starred in two seasons of "Agent Carter", a spin-off from the widely popular Captain American films. Yet somehow, ABC did not renew the action-adventure show that was set in the late 1940s for another season. And that has resulted in a fan uproar with a current online petition to continue over at Netflix where Marvel Studios has had great success with “Daredevil" and "Jessica Jones".

She played Peggy Carter, Captain America’s romantic interest and the intrepid agent of the Strategic Scientific Reserve, the precursor to the fictional globe-spanning spy organization S.H.I.E.L.D. The show tied-in not only with the Marvel Cinematic Universe films like Captain America but also the television show, "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” The first season was a critical and ratings success averaging some seven million viewers. The second season saw the viewership plummet to a little over four million viewers but critics, such as Variety’s Maureen Ryan, blamed that on “questionable scheduling decisions” and “lackluster promotion”. As critics of ABC pointed out, the ratings were slightly lower than “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” that is also shown on the same network and rival “The Flash” on the CW Network and 

An online petition on was almost immediately started a fan from Spain, Arnau S., to bring the show over to Netflix. Since the petition began last May, 121,000 have signed; some 30,000 short of the its targeted 150,000. Atwell and the show were also recently prominently featured in three major comic book conventions in Dallas and Florida in the United States and in Blackpool, England a few weeks ago.

While Atwell became popular due to Captain America and Agent Carter, she previously made a name for herself as a stage actress. And post-“Agent Carter”, she is set to play a lead role in the upcoming legal drama, “Conviction”.

In last year’s AsiaPop Comicon, actors Paul Bettany (Marvel’s The Avengers), Nathalie Emmanuel (Game of Thrones), and Colton Haynes (Arrow) were some of the celebrities to grace the country’s biggest celebration of pop culture. 

AsiaPop Comicon organizers said that there will be more announcements with regards to their comic, film, cosplay, and toy guests soon.

Monday, June 13, 2016

My Daredevil Funko Pops and Dorbz

A short talk with comic book artist Arthur Suydam at Toycon 2016

A short talk with comic book artist Arthur Suydam at Toycon 2016
by rick olivares

Tucked away in an alley with signs marked, “zombies” — where people posed next to statues of the undead for selfies and whatnot -- was a man who unbeknownst to the public has recently been associated with these reanimated corpses. He was American artist Arthur Suydam. To comic book fans today, he is known for his covers to titles such as Deadpool, Thor, Wolverine, X-Men, and perhaps the more popular title… Marvel Zombies. That limited series was written by the Zombie King himself, The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman with interior art by Sean Phillips (Incognito, Fatale, and The Fade Out all with that masterful writer, Ed Brubaker) and covers by Suydam himself. 

Those ghastly covers of some of the world’s most beloved and recognized pop culture heroes were both haunting and powerful. And they were on display on his tables and the walls surrounding his zombie area of Toycon 2016 at the SMX Convention Center.

It was through another of Suydam’s post apocalyptic works where I became a fan.

I was in second year high school when Epic Illustrated published their 13th issue. Epic Illustrated was published by Marvel Comics as an answer to Heavy Metal magazine, the American version of that racy French mature comic that dealt on a variety of themes not touch on by their North American counterparts. 

That particular issue was one of the best. It featured the black and white art adaptation by Al Williamson and Carlos Garzon of the Blade Runner that was shown in theaters a few months earlier. Rick Veitch, who would later come to fame working with Alan Moore on "Swamp Thing” and “Miracleman”, wrote and drew the fourth part of his space saga “Abraxas and the Earthman”. Spanish writer and artist Pepe Moreno had a short story of — yep, is this a coincidence or what — zombies in outer space with an eight-age story titled, “Survival”. The late Archie Goodwin wrote a medieval piece that was illustrated by painted by Mike Saenz. 

Ironically, both Mike Saenz and Pepe Moreno produced two of the first computer-generated graphic novels one after the other. Saenz created "Iron Man: Crash" in 1987 while Moreno worked on "Batman: Digital Justice" in 1990.

The other story in that 13th issue of Epic Illustrated is perhaps the most popular one to emerge — “The Adventures of Cholly N’ Flytrap”, a series of stories about a duo of survivalists in a post-apocalyptic and absurd world where they are dressed up in World War I-type of clothing and fight for the sake of fighting. Cholly and Flytrap have appeared in Image Comics and have been re-published in trade paperback form in recent years for a new generation of fans to discover. And Suydam is just all to glad to be working on the comic book medium for four decades now.

I brought out my copy of Epic Illustrated and the 63-year old Suydam’s eyes lit up.

“So you have that. And I am sure you’re an old time comic book fan,” he said throwing out a fist bump.

“You betcha!”

We gabbed about life in New York City and New Jersey where he lives and where I once did too years ago. After exchanging pleasantries, talking about Bruce Springsteen, the Golden Age of Marvel Comics, and the Walking Dead, we got down to the interview.

Rick: How’s Manila treating you?

Arthur: It has been great. I look forward to going out of town. I hear there are a lot of nice places. But right now, we’re here at Toycon. 

Rick: I understand that “The Adventures of Cholly N' Flytap” were supposed to be for Heavy Metal the movie.

Arthur: Yes, it was. I was commissioned to draw a character with some military trappings. I did but with a twist because he had this armadillo or turtle-like casing looking like a jet fighter pilot with lots of shell casings and riding a giant bat. Moebius was also asked to do the same thing but I think he already had something that he had come out with already (titled “Arzach” about a warrior who rode a pterodactyl-like creature in Metal Hurlant, the inspiration for Heavy Metal). The producers of the film came out with this sexy and buxom girl riding a pterodactyl-like creature so I guess we all know whose design came out the winner.

But I didn’t fret much about it. I still had my character who I liked and I developed it for Marvel Comics of which I am a big fan. Epic Illustrated was out and I just leapt at that chance.

Rick: Reading that first story — “The Rites of Spring — I felt it was like an anti-war story. In some ways it is. The Vietnam War ended something like seven years before but the effects were still being felt back home in the States. There’s a weariness to it. Cholly and Flytrap were up against some people who were trying to fertilize this barren world. So you know they drew the lines between good guys and bad guys.

Rick: Anti-heroes like Mad Max.

Arthur: Yeah, you could say that. Mad Max came out around this time. And people were just hearing this term “anti-hero” and that is what Cholly and Flytrap were.

Rick: Well, Cholly and Flytrap have been a hit. Not a cult classic but a hit. 

Arthur: It is nice to create something that people across generations really like. But I think today’s kids will know me for the Marvel Zombies. (laughter).

Rick: That must have been cool to work with Robert Kirkman.

Arthur: Yes, it was. Mr. Walking Dead himself! And he is quite talented you know. A visionary. See how Image Comics has done since he took over.

Rick: So what do you think about this zombie world and the return of horror as a genre in this world we live in.

Arthur: It’s great! There’s something for everyone. And for me. Not many people from my time in comics are still doing work today so I am not complaining. Am just happy.

Arthur Suydam's sketch of Roadrunner -- Beep! Beep! -- on a blank cover of The Walking Dead!

And below, Michonne (Dannai Gurira) from The Walking Dead.

Toycon 2016 was BIG fun!

Irish actor Kristian Nairn who played "Hodor" in "Game of Thrones" was one of Toycon 2016's biggest attractions.

Toycon 2016 was BIG fun!
by rick olivares

This was the biggest Toycon yet. Make it the tallest.

Six-foot-eleven Irish actor Kristian Nairn who played “Hodor” the gentle giant in “Game of Thrones” was a big hit — pun intended - at the Toycon + Poplife Fan Experience edition of the country’s biggest toy and pop culture event held at the SMX Convention Center at the Mall of Asia, Pasay from June 10-12.

Nairn’s character of “Hodor” bit the dust literally at the hands of the White Walkers a few weeks ago after playing a recurring role of the Stark family’s silent protector for five seasons. The Irish actor was jovial despite the heat, and candidly talked about the success of the fantasy drama series that has gripped audiences for the last several years and answered questions from fans.

“Hodor” wasn’t the only star present. Dean Cain who played Clark Kent/Superman in Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman for four seasons was also present as were other actors such as Daniel Logan who played a young Boba Fett in the Star Wars prequels. 

And there was that massive Voltes V display. How tall was that? This is probably the first cartoon to singularly hold the collective breath and attention of an entire generation that to this day, that anime holds good memories! 

Francis Abad who rushed to the SMX Convention Center late in the afternoon of June 12, the final day, said, “The Voltes V statue was the first thing I saw when I got there. As early as then, I knew I was going to have fun. And then when I saw the Stan Lee exhibit, it was great probably because I am a fan. It had a museum-like display that was a nice touch."

What added to the excitement of this year’s Toycon was its partnership with the Salt Lake Comicon & FanXperience that really ramped up the star power of the fan event. Previously, local entertainments and little known artists made guest appearances. Fan favorites Nairn and Cain are massive attractions while Logan along with “Twilight” werewolves Bronson Pelletier and Kiowa Gordon are welcome additions for the uber geek fans. 

JA Lukban and girlfriend Kamla with actor Dean Cain.

Toycon patron JA Lukban said that he enjoyed meeting Cain who talked about missing his old television series and what a blast he is having being a part of the cast of 'Supergirl'. “I asked him what significance will his role have as the build up from last season was good,” related Lukban. “He can’t say anything as expected. But he did say he missed played Clark Kent and that he will appear in more episodes in the second season of ‘Supergirl’”.

Meg Siasoco and the BB8 Pop!
Toy collector Meg Siasoco also had a blast, "ToyCon 2016 is bigger, more interesting than before since it has a bigger venue and they invited International artists. It was good to see them even though I did not get a VIP or Legendary ticket. The Encantadia reveal was spectacular as well. The Votes V display was very impressive since this is the biggest one to date if I am correct. Mindstyle and Pop Life released the Japan based characters of Legends and Creatures line of Funko Pop. Actually, as a Funko collector, I enjoyed the con because there are lots of Pops around. But if you are not a Funko collector, there might be a bit of disappointment since not all toys are in there."

The weekend’s cool exhibits:

The Philippine Outpost of the 501st Legion.
The 501st Legion is the name of the fan group that was started in 1997 by Albin Johnson and Tom Crews that dressed up in highly accurate Stormtrooper and later Sith Lord gear that has expanded to some 8,000 members worldwide. For Toycon, they have a Stormtrooper and Boba Fett character for your own selfie delight.

The Stan Lee Excelsior Exhibition
The co-creator of the Marvel Universe is unable to come over. I know his last comic convention will be at the NYCC later this year. This exhibit is the closest one we will ever get to see “the Man” who has co-created many of today’s modern pop culture heroes from Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, the Hulk, the X-Men, and many more. On display are comics, original art work, signed movie props, and other collectibles associated to the face of Marvel Comics.

And there’s the Toycon 2016 exclusive of Stan Lee Guan Yu Funko Pop that costs P750! 

The Encantadia Exhibit
The re-telling of this beloved fantasy teleserye is set to air next month, July, over GMA7. And what a way to help promote this new series as it features new stars who aren’t like the previous edition’s star-studded cast. The attention to detail in the exhibit was marvelous. Makes you eager to catch this new series.

The Heneral Luna Sari Sari Store
I though that this small “kiosk” was cool. It had DVDs and other paraphernalia related to the films under the TBA stable from “Bonifacio” to “K’Na” to "Heneral Luna”.  

The NBA Mindstyle exhibition
The life-sized toy figure designs of NBA stars was one of the more popular sites for selfies and photo ops. It took me a day to realize that these designs were the NBA Mindstyle Series by Korean toy maker Coolrain Lee. He wasn't there when I passed by on Day Two but during Day Three, the man was there! Lee, who didn’t have any formal art training is a genius. And his NBA figurines catapulted him to another level of stardom and recognition! It sure was a geek moment to meet him.

The Voltes V exhibition
The long-time favorite of Filipinos who were weaned on the 1980s anime explosion. The giant statue is awesome and perfect for photo ops!

Pat Lee and Arthur Suydam in the house!
It was nice to see Pat Lee and Arthur Suydam. Between the two, I am a fan of the latter having read his Adventures of Cholly and Flytrap in that old Marvel fantasy magazine, Epic Illustrated. Suydam also did those now famous Marvel Zombies comics.

Other things I personally liked:
The customized One Punch Man Pop
Comic books and graphic novels on sale with some prices at 80% off! Can’t beat that.
The numerous toy displays — the Statues and Collectibles Alliance PH in particular! 
The Cosplayers!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

At Toycon 2016 Day 3

Love the larger than life Funko Pops! I Am Groot! 

The IFlix exhibit has sets for Attack On Titan, Kill Bill and others! You could have your picture taken for free with these dazzling Cosplayers! 

The Encantadia exhibit!

At the larger than life Manny Pacquiao Pop!

She can be my Agent Carter any time! What a pretty lady.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

At Toycon 2016 Day 2

30 Days of Night! The vampire comic that brought back horror. I used to have every single original issue of this. Unfortunately, I lost every single one of them to a typhoon. Have been trying to get them back via the back issue market but they are just so darn expensive (anywhere from $20-40). The trade paperback will do.

Next to the statue of my all-time favorite comic book creator, Stan Lee! 

Stan the Man Lee ain't getting any younger so it's about time I grabbed a Funko Pop of him. And a 2016 Toycon exclusive at that!

Next to a statue of one of my fave basketball players -- LeBron James!

This Stormtrooper and Bounty Hunter accosted me on account of my Smuggler's shirt featuring Han Solo and Mal Reynolds (of Firely). Busted!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Some of my most treasured comics: Fantastic Four #147-149

Fantastic Four #147 was my first ever FF comic book. My grandpop bought this for me at Clark Air Base and I was enthralled. Along with X-Men #19 (the Mimic), they were some of my first ever comic books and they turned me into a lifelong comic book fan. While I still have the FF issues, I lost X-Men #19.

This three-issue arc features the first ever Johnny Storm in a red FF costume, Thundra, Medusa, and a battle vs Namor for Invisible Girl. 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Got my Pop 'Til You Drop card

Got my Pop 'Til You Drop membership kit: sticker, keychain, membership card, and pin!