Subscription Box Review: Star Wars Smuggler’s Bounty- Jan 2017- The Empire Strikes Back

Finally, the next Smuggler’s Bounty box has arrived.  Funko decided to base this month’s theme on one of the better, if not best of the Star Wars movies, Empire Strikes Back.  Lets see how they decided to celebrate one of the most exciting chapters in the Star Wars saga..

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First off, this box is huge.  It is definitely the largest of the boxes so far.  Besides the size, the only noticeable difference is the image of Luke in his Dagobah fatigues.  Other than that, it is the standard box.

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Opening it up you see the standard patch and pin.  The patch is of Yoda with Empire Strikes Back written on the side.   The pin features Lando Calrissian, though, if you look at it at a certain angle, you would swear it’s a pin of Lionel Ritche.  I can’t be the only one, right?

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Beneath the flap, we find another little Star Wars plushie.  This time, we get a Wampa, the creature thar captured Luke on Hoth.  It is very cute and has nice soft fake fur.  Including the Boba Fett one from a half a year back, I now have two from this line.

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Funko has given us hats and shirts so what other clothing items will they branch into?  How about socks?  Yes, we get a pair of Pop! Socks, with a Star Wars theme, featuring Pop heads of Darth Vader and Storm Troopers..  They fit me fine (size 10 1/2 feet) and are mostly polyester.

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Last is the much hyped Han on a TaunTaun.  This was revealed at least a far back as November and it looks fantastic.  Han is wearing a brown coat (which I thought was blue; even my action figure of him had a blue coat) but obviously, Funko falls into the brown camp.  It doesn’t bother me but I’d hate to start a debate like the blue and gold/white and gold dress from the internet last year.  Anyways, the Han Soo Pop is not removable from the TaunTaun, but it comes with a large base with pegs to plug into the Tauntaun’s feet.  Finally, the Han figure is a bobble head, but the Tauntaun isn’t.

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It’s brown! It’s blue!  WHO CARES!

This newest box may seem a bit light, but it is still a good value.  The deluxe Pop definitely is of the most value and is the best part of the box.  The socks are nice and I could always use more (they get lost so easily.)  The plushie is nice.  I’d give it to my dog, but he’d destroy it in seconds.

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The next Smuggler’s Bounty box will ship in March 2017.  January’s theme is Star Wars Rebels, the current animated show on Disney XD.  The Smuggler’s Bounty page promises an exclusive Darth Maul Pop! bobble head in that box..  You can subscribe to Smuggler’s Bounty at https://www.smugglersbounty.com/  You can also purchase the previous boxes like the one just reviewed, but supplies are limited.  The deadline to subscribe for the Empire Strikes Back box is 15 March, 2016.

I hope you enjoyed this review.  Excuse me as I look for my Lando pin.  I seem to have misplaced it.

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Hello?. Is it me you’re looking for?

 

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Subscription Box Review- Marvel Collectors Corps Spider-Man Box

I got an surprise email from the fine folks at Smuggler’s Bounty a few week back.  It said that, due to my loyalty and sticking with the sub for over a year, they were going to send me a box from one of the other Funko subscriptions for free.  My first thought was, “Yeah, I like free.” but them it turned to “Oh I hope is isn’t one of the DC boxes I already have.!”  But I lucked out and got one from their other superhero subscription box, the Marvel Collector’s Corp.  I received the Spider-Man box from last August (didn’t think they send me the latest box, anyways), which came last week.  Let us take a look at the contents.

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The mailer box is a brown box with the Marvel Collector Corps logo and the month’s theme clearly labelled on it.  You get a picture of Spider-Man’s mask on top in full colour.  The box is nicer than the DC Legion of Collector’s box in that regard.

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Opening the box, we see the patch and pin for the month.  No surprise the patch has Spidey’s face and the pin is of his spider symbol.  They both look nice and is what we have come to expect from Funko.

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Underneath that flap we get to the rest of the goodies.  First is this comic, a reprint of The Amazing Spider-Man (the latest run, cover dated October 2016, so released in July 16) and is the prologue of the Dead No More story line which they bring back…dead characters.  That happens a lot in Spider-Man books, in particular.  I still think it was cheap for them to bring back Aunt May all those years ago (let her and her wheat cakes rest in peace!)  If you don’t follow Spider-Man or haven’t check in in a while, you may be lost (yes, May married J. Jonah Jameson’s father so he and Pete are step-brothers and Peter’s is like Tony Stark rich) so good luck to you.

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Next is another of Funko’s Pop! Tops.  This grey and blue baseball cap features a Funko-ized Spider-Man logo.  It is adjustable so it should fit up to the most massive of heads.  The underneath of the visor even has a pattern of Marvel and Pop! logos on a red background.

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Next we get a Funko Frabrikations.  These dolls are done in the Pop style with the large heads and small bodies.  The head can rotate and the bottom of the feet are flat so they can stand up unassisted.  They are made pretty sturdy, too.  They are a bit large, so they would tower over your pops.

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Finally we get to the Pop!, which is. surprise surprise, of Spider-Man.  Forgoing the typical Pop! pose, Spidey is posed as he is jumping, ready to spin a web.  He has a clear stand that attacks to his back to keep in up.  He is also a bobble head.

There you have it.  I like all of the Funko boxes that I have got and the Marvel one is just as great.  I am trying to spend less lately, though I probably won’t be getting another sub ( I have a hard enough time letting one of my other subs go!).  But I would wholeheartedly recommend this subscription to Marvel and pop vinyl fans.

The next Marvel Collector Corp box will ship in February 2017.  The new theme will be Super Hero Showdown.  You can subscribe by going to https://www.collectorcorps.com/ .  The deadline is 15 Feb 17.  Subscribers can order any of the previous boxes, but supplies are limited.  I hope you enjoy this review.

Unboxing- Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star Noble Phantasm Edition

The physical copy of Fate/EXTELLA comes in a special edition called the Noble Phantasm Edition.  Lets take a look at what you get in this set.

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The special edition comes in a sturdy box.  The North American version from XSEED Games doesn’t have a fancy box like the European  version (called  the Moon Crux edition) but the content is the same.

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Inside we get this cloth poster featuring Tamamo (left) fighting Nero (right).  The art looks nice and it is very colourful.

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You also get 16 art cards featuring the characters in the game.  The cards are of a sturdy plastic.

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Finally you get an art book/source book for Fate/EXTELLA.  Featuring character designs, concept art and a glossary of terms, this will help you learn more about the Fate/EXTELLA universe.  It is a pretty good read. and is in English.

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Of course you get the game, reviewed in my last post.  The PS Vita and the PS4 version of the Noble Phantasm edition are the same beside the version of the game you get.  Costing $79.99 for the PS Vita or $89.99 for PS4 (all prices Canadian), it is not that much more than just the game.  I think the book makes this set worth it.  The game is available physically without the set as well.

PS Vita/PS4 Review: Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star

Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star is a third person hack-and-slash action game developed by Marvelous and published in North America by XSeed Games. It is a spin-off of the popular Fate multimedia franchise by Type Moon that started with the Visual Novel Fate/stay night(originally an eroge that was toned down for a general audience) that spun off into anime, manga and video games.  Fate/Extella is an indirect sequel to the spin-off game Fate/Codes (still available on PSN as of this writing.) and Fate/Codes CCC (Japan only).  This game is available for the PS Vita and the PS4 with cross save and cross download features.  It is playable on the PlayStation TV micro console.

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Start Screen on PS4

The Fate franchises has an underlying theme to all of its versions:  The is a mystical artifact called the Holy Grail (what it is can vary) and a war is fought over it.  The Grail chooses several people to become Masters.  Masters usually have some sort of magical aptitude, but their level can vary from person to person.  All of them, however. are able to summon a Servant.  A servant is a Heroic Spirit that become a legend in the past, present or even future.  They come from history, legends, myths or even from times not yet past.  These Heroic Spirits are not necessary good, but they have all made their mark on history in some way.  But the ultimate goal is to defeat all of the others and win the Holy Grail, which will grant them what they desire most.

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Servants are broken down into several classes.  There are Sabers (sword wielders), Casters (magic users), Riders (fast moving, sometimes with a mount), Archers (projectiles, not necessarily arrows), Berserkers (great strength and endurance), Lancers (lances and pole arms), and Rulers (able to command other Servants)

Fate/EXTELLA varies a bit from the core Fate storyline.  For one, it takes place not in our world, but in a virtual reality.  The Holy Grail is the Moon Cell Automaton, an ancient computer build by non-human hands and hidden on the Moon.  It generates a virtual world called SE.RA.PH.  Masters, called wizards, project their consciousness into this world and they bond with their Servants, who the Moon Cell Automaton pulls from the Earth’s history.

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Nero Cladius is one of the Heroic Spirits in Fate/EXTELLA
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Medusa is another servant that exists in SE.RA.PH

The second difference is  that the Holy Grail War is already won.  Set after the events of Fate/Codes,  EXTELLA sees the player takes the role of the Master who had won the Grail War and now rules over the virtual world of SE.RA.PH alongside the Servant, Nero Claudius.  A Saber class servant, Nero is very loyal to the protagonist.  She (yes, she)  gathered four other Servants (now existing independently in SE.RA.PH.) to help rule the new lands.  She has a ring, the Regalia that symbolizes her dominion over SE.RA.PH.  But things are not as simple as it seems.  Another servant appears with her own Regalia.  A Caster, Tamamo no Mae has claimed that she won the Holy Grail War along side her master, who appears to be the player character as well.

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Both Nero and Tamamo (the fox girl) claim to have won the Holy Grail War.

A servant sent as a System Administrator,  Archimedes explains that the player character was attacked in the real world by servants of Velber, the Umbral Star, a sentient planet that destroys every civilization it encounters.  It has returned to Earth after 14 000 years to lay waste to the planet and its Moon.  It split the player’s avatar into three parts, Body, Mind and Spirit.  Nero has Mind, Tamamo has spirit, and the body is in the hands of Velber’s servant, Altera.  The player has to help the servants reunite the three parts and hopefully stop the Umbral Star from destroying the virtual and the real world.

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Archimedes (standing in front) seems to have all the answers…

 

The main story is split into three parts, one for Nero, Tamamo, and Altera.  Each part has you fight in battles as you try to win by taking over sections of the battlefield and defeating the enemies within.  Each time to takeover a sector, you gain keys called Regime Matrices.  Collect 15 keys and you take over the area.  Lose 15 and the enemy takes over instead and you lose.  One you have 15, the Boss servant appears and you have to beat them to complete the level.  this is similar to the gameplay of Koei Tecmo games such as Dynasty Warriors.

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Tamamo has her own copy ofr the winning Master.

 

You create the Master of the game, but the customization is limited.  You can create the name and choose their sex, but that is all you can customize.  Other than you name and what sex you choose, the game plays the same with your servant expressing their admiration and love for you no matter your sex.  You are skill referred to as King or Master or Husband, depending on the character, though sometimes the female player character is referred to as Lady.

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Male or female, Tamamo is a loving wife to her Master

Each of the servant characters have the standard light and heavy attacks (Square and Triangle, respectively) that can be chained for combos.  As the character levels up you gain the ability to do longer combos as they are unlocked.  The Circle button activates the Extella Maneuver; as the little blue bars beneath your health fill up, you are able to launch an attack that hits all the opponents around you.  The more bars you have build up, the longer you can string the attacks..  Finally, X is jump.

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End result of a Extella Maneuver

 

There are also two special attacks.  First is the Moon Crux (L2 on PS4, L and X on the Vita)for the three main heroines in with they temporarily transform into a more powerful version of themselves and gains special effects like flames or ice with their attacks.  The other servants don’t transform, but become more powerful until the bar  above their health empties.  The other special attack is the characters’ Noble Phantom.  Throughout each level, there are Red crystals with a circuit part that fills a graphic  next to the character’s health.  Once you get three of them and complete the circuit, you can press R2 (or the circuit symbol with the Vita’s touch screen) to activate the attack.  Each characters attack is different and they tie into that character’s legend or backstory.

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Nero transformed during the Moon Crux
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Nero begins her Noble Phantasm

Besides the main story, you have two other modes.  The side quest allows you to play as any of the other servants you have unlocked in story mode.  There is also a Free Mode, in which you can replay any of the missions you have beat with any character that you have unlocked.  Missions may even have side missions give by other servants that will increase you affinity with them.  There is also a gallery, which you can watch any of the cut scenes you unlocked, look at character models or read up on terms in the Fate Extella setting.

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Each servant besides the main three have a side story.

There are alternate costumes available as paid DLC for the game, with more coming in the weeks to come.  You can change the costume between missions and the character’s looks will reflect the costume in most cut scenes.  Even the character art in the dialogue will reflect the costume you are wearing, which is a nice touch.

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First Week DLC features swimsuits for the girls and two of the guys.

 

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Even the art reflects the costume (Shackled Bride outfit shown)

This is a pretty fun game.  Fans of Dynasty/Samurai/Hyrule Warriors will enjoy the same hack and slash gameplay in this title.  The three storylines and the ability to replay levels  adds some value to the game.  The characters are all interesting, once you get over some of the interesting changes to some historical figures.  Nero being  a woman is not that surprising; in the original Fate anime, the Sabrer in that series, Artoria (who is a hidden character in this game), was the legendary King Arthur.  Iskandar, the King of Conquerors, is large and imposing, but historically, Alexander the Great (who is  based on) wasn’t that tall though his exploites were larger than like.  The most interesting interpretation was Elizabeth Bathory.  A Hungarian countess distantly related to the (historical) Vlad Dracula , she was accused of murdering young girls to bath in their blood to remain young.  In the Fate world, she returns looking like a teenage girl with dragon wings and tails and a desire to become a pop idol.

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Saber from Fate/stay night (Artoria Pendragon) is a hidden character in Fate/EXTELLA

 

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Elizabeth Bathory bathed in blood to stay young.  Bet she didn’t want to look this young!

Both the PS 4 and the PS Vita versions play the same.  Of course, the Vita version cannot show as may enemies on screen as the PS 4.  In fact I find the Vita version a bit easier because of that.  Both versions have an option to upload your same so you can transfer it to the other system.  Gameplay on the PlayStation TV version lets you use the controller like in the PS4 version.  All of the DLC the is or will be available for this game will get you both the Vita and PS4 version

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The PS4 version can have more enemies on screen
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Artoria in her swinsuit

 

Fate/EXTELLA: the Umbral Star is available now  both in a physical release or digitally on the PSN.  The Digital version will give you a theme for the system you bought it for and either the Shackle Bride outfit for Nero (PS4) or the Cold Blooded Warden outfit for Gilgamesh (PS Vita).  Both the physical version comes in the Noble Phantasm edition, which I will review separately.

4/5

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Fate Extella_20170118203521

 

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Subscription Box Review- DC Legion of Collectors- DC Legacy- Jan 2016

It’s 2017 and Funko has shipped out its first DC Legion of  Collector’s box.  What better way to ring in the New Year than by looking into DC’s 80+ year history with the DC Legacy box.  Let’s see what inspiration Funko has pulled from this long and varied history.

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The box is the standard box that we’ve seen so far.  This month showcases Batman, because, if you slap Batman on something, it’ll sell.  And he is a legacy character, being around since 1939.

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Opening the box, we see the patch and pin.  The patch features Green Arrow in his classic silver age look he had from 1969 to about 1986.  The pin features my favourite Earth elemental, Swamp Thing. Swamp Thing first appeared in the comics in 1971 during rise in popularity of horror comics.  Both the patch and pin are pretty good this time.

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The comic included is a reprint of Adventure Comics 452, from 1977.  In it, Aquaman and Aqualad take on Black Manta to try to save Aquaman’s son.  This is a pretty pivotal issue in Aquaman’s history and the outcome affected him for years.  I won’t spoil it for those who don’t know Black Manta and Aquaman’s history.

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The T-shirt for this month has a variant.  You can either get a Krypto the Superdog or an Ace the Bat-Hound ringer t-shirt.  The t-shirts themselves are in a retro style, but the art on both shirts seems to be taken from the Krypto the Superdog cartoon from 2005.  While both canine counterparts of DC’s biggest heroes are definitely legacy characters, I would have  preferred them in more of a retro style.  Still, I prefer the Ace shirt.

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We also get another item from Funko’s POP! Home line.  These Batman and Robin salt and pepper shakers are presented in their classic silver age look and invoke memories of the old T.V. show, though I don’t think there are specifically supposed to be “Batman ’66” items.  The openings on the top of the figures are rather large so I do not know it they would be any good if used, but they would look good on a shelf.

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Lastly, it is the Pop! that makes the box.  This time it is Plastic Man.  This classic character first appeared in Police Comics in 1941 and at the time was published by Quality Comics.  DC acquired the rights to him and other Quality Comic characters in the 1950’s.  The figure’s body is unique for a Pop ad his arms are long and his hands are big.  His torso is even twisted and elongated.  This is definitely a character that needed to be shown in Pop form.

This box is a good start to the new year.  The pop is definitely the best thing about this box.  The T-shirt is not as exciting to me, as it shows a version of a character that I don’t consider classic (sure the cartoon was 10 years ago, but it is not a definite version of either characters.)  If they were Popified, maybe I’d like it more.  It is not bad shirt, though.

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I hope you enjoyed the review.  The next Legion of Collectors box will be shipping in early March 2017.  The next theme is Superman, as show in the pictured card.  You can subscribe at https://legionofcollectors.com/ in order to get your box.  The deadline is 1 Mar 17.  Subscribers can order any of the previous boxes, but supplies are limited.

2016 in Review- Thank Crom It’s Over!

Well, another year has come and gone and boy wasn’t it a shit show?  Bowie, Abe Vigoda, Prince, Chyna, Carrie Fisher and others left us this year.  ISIS was sent running but Syria got much worse for anyone who wanted change.  The UK Brexited the EU, Ultra-right wing groups are on the rise and the US elected Donald Trump as their president.  The good news is we haven’t managed to kill us all off yet, but nothing seems to stop the quickening descend into oblivion we are on.

But this blog has never been about such serious things.  Why start now?  And it can’t all be doom and gloom, at least not for me.  While the passing of my cat Meeloo back in February was a sad occasion, it wasn’t as frustrating as when my hot water tank burst and flooded my basement.  Then there was a situation with paperwork that threatened to prevent my career progression.  The stress of that would have caused me to pull out my hair, had I not lost it all years ago. More water trouble and unexpected bills kept me on my toes for the rest of the year.  Now that I look back, it still looks gloomy..

But I got through it.  I have my health (relatively), the love of my wife and a dog that keeps me on my toes.  I did get the promotion at work and am really enjoying my new position.  I am by nature a “glass half-empty” type of person, as I do not hope that things get better, only that they don’t get worse.

Then, there is this blog.  I sure did not meet my goal of 30 new post this year.  I only posted 21 times, which is still my third best yearly total.  I posted at least once every month except January.  Again, I would like to post more.  Maybe a goal of 25 post this year is possible.

What is there to post about in the next 12 months?  I got the next Legion of Collectors and Smuggler’s Bounty box coming up in the next month.  Unfortunately I am probably dropping one for a while, probably the Star Wars one, unless the hints for the next box wows me.  I got a new PS Vita game coming, Fate/Extella: the Umbral Star.  That could be both a game review and unboxing as I got the collector’s edition.  Too bad Sony has given up on the Vita in the West and the games will dry out.  There is still PS4 games to review though and a backlog of PS Vita games I could delve into.  Then there are movies that I want to see:  Underworld 5, Aliens Covenant, Guardian of the Galaxy 2, Wonder Woman, Avengers: Infinite Wars and Justice League all come out this year   Of course, the is Star Wars VII, coming in December 2017.  I also never got around to review Rogue One.  I may wait for the Blu-Ray release for that.

So, there is a lot more content that I could get to next year.  I hope I continue to entertain and maybe inform with this blog, though it might just be me.  So, brace yourself and gird your loins as we face whatever 2017 have in store for us.  We can make it if we stick together.

-James a.k.a. Xcalibar