Reality is the playground of the unimaginative
Home Of Superheroes, Supernatural, and Star Stuff

Thursday, 28 February 2013

For Those Who Can't Wait Until Next Wednesday...


Female Super Hero Fan Film from Jesse V. Johnson on Vimeo.


Massive thanks to Al Bruno III for drawing this fan-made trailer for a non-existent Wonder Woman movie to my attention.

An homage to everyone's favourite Amazonian, this short was directed by Jesse V. Johnson and stars Nina Bergman (aka musician N.I.N.A.). Nina's song Xplode accompanies the faux movie trailer.

Picture by Robert Sebree

Auntie And The Undead...



In The Flesh is a new mini-series from BBC that appears to have more in common with Warm Bodies than The Walking Dead in its approach to zombies.

The first I learned of it was a trail after the most recent episode of Being Human and it's clearly aiming for the same demographic.


The Next Doctor: Candidate Number Seven...

Candidate Number Seven: Colin Morgan

Like a great many of my chosen 'potentials' for the role of The Twelfth Doctor, 27-year-old Colin Morgan has already appeared on Doctor Who - he was Jethro in Midnight.

He is, of course, best known for his lead role in the BBC's recent Arthurian fantasy serial Merlin.

Fans might be discouraged by the fact that he has already been asked about becoming The Doctor and dismissed the idea.

However, as we all know in this age of social media and Internet scoopage, there's a great deal of obfuscation around these decisions.

The very fact that he has said he wouldn't play the role is the best indication that he might already be in line for the part. 

Zombies: The Next Generation...



How can you go wrong with a zombie movie starring The Next Generation's LeVar Burton, movie hard-man Danny Trejo, Mariel Hemingway, French Stewart and that guy from My Name Is Earl who isn't Jason Lee or Eddie Steeples?

This looks like an above-average offering from The Asylum and a decent follow-up to their last zombie flick, which I rather enjoyed.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

The First Doctor Is In!


PDF preview copies of The First Doctor Sourcebook for Cubicle 7's Doctor Who: Adventures In Time And Space have been sent to those who have subscribed to the series of eleven supplements.

The PDF is due to go on sale to the general public next week and I believe the cut-off date for subscriptions is March 4... so get in on the pre-order deal while you can.

I've only really flicked through the 159-page First Doctor Sourcebook, and will probably wait for the hard copy to arrive in a month or so before I give it a thorough read, but straight out the gate it has set the bar really high for gaming supplements.

As well as an overview of the First Doctor's era there is a story-by-story guide on how to run the plots as presented on television and suggestions for using themes and elements of the stories as well as statistics for key characters, monsters, technology etc

Many of the examples I saw also managed to tie this era in with the more recent (post-2005) iterations of the show, helping to create a sense of verisimilitude.

The book is rounded out with character sheets for the First Doctor and all his companions.

If the production calibre of the First Doctor Sourcebook can be maintained throughout the run (and I have no doubt that it will as all of C7's Doctor Who books have been gorgeous) then together these sourcebooks could easily become the ultimate Doctor Who gaming reference and quite probably one of the all-time great gaming products.

The Next Doctor: Candidate Number Six...

Candidate Number Six: Reece Shearsmith

Another member of The League Of Gentlemen (like Mark Gatiss), the 43-year-old actor, writer and comedian will be playing Patrick Troughton in the upcoming docudrama about the early days of Doctor Who - An Adventure In Space And Time. So if that doesn't seal his Whoness credentials I don't know what will!

He is also a magician, which could help bring some Seventh Doctor-style quirkiness to the role.

Some of Shearsmith's earliest roles, in the mid- to late-90s, included characters in 'unofficial' Doctor Who spin-off videos produced by BBV, such as Auton and P.R.O.B.E. (a four film serial written by Mark Gatiss).

Pair Of Jacks...

I have previously drawn attention to the two versions of Jack And The Beanstalk coming to life next month (one a big budget Hollywood blockbuster, the other an Asylum direct-to-DVD special).

See if you can spot the difference:



versus


Judging by the brief glimpse at the end of The Asylum trailer they might be going for a twofer mockbuster and bringing in a bit of Pacific Rim-style monster-vs-giant robot action as well!

Wonder Woman Wednesday...

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Whither The Tuesday Knights?

Back in November things were looking very promising for the Tuesday Knights getting their game on in 2013.

We had Meredith and Clare both lined up to run their first roleplaying games.

Meredith's was to be the main one, a tabletop version of World Of Warcraft (as, in her real life, she's an online journalist who writes about MMOs and things I don't understand), with the idea that Clare would run a short Space 1889 game to scratch her steampunk itch.

However, days before we were to get together for the first time in 2013, my mum passed away and suddenly the escapism of roleplaying games didn't seem that important.

Unfortunately, by the time the dust had settled in the Knight household (well, had almost settled) everyone else's lives had - unsurprisingly - moved on and Meredith had enrolled in an Open University History degree which, along with her journalism, is now taking up her time.

I can't remember when Clare told us she was pregnant again, but as the months have gone on she's found herself increasingly 'afflicted' (if that is the right word) with "pregnancy brain" (I have been witness to at least a couple of 'forgotten coats' and 'lost wallets' moments) - which isn't really ideal if you are thinking of running your first roleplaying campaign (and using a system that only a couple of us had even a passing knowledge of).

And the impending arrival of a newborn kind of rules her out of running anything for the moment anyway.

So, we're at a stage where every one is once more fired up to game, but we are without a game.

The Tuesday Knights are meeting up in the middle of next month (and even that took several rounds of emails and date shifts to find a day everyone could make) to have a pizza-fuelled pow-wow and decide what we're going to do gamewise going forward.

Although reluctant to commit to anything before he retires next year, Kevin has volunteered, if nothing else is suggested, to run a Crypts & Things dungeoncrawl (on the understanding that there is no going outside the dungeon - it's the dungeon or nothing) and Pete also said he might be up for running a pick-up game of something.

The Next Doctor: Candidate Number Five...

The chances are you have already seen this very interesting interview with Steven Moffat where he says he is already preparing the next series of Doctor Who and that Matt Smith will be staying in the role "forever". However, that does not stop this piece of idle speculation about possible candidates to replace Matt in the TARDIS when the lure of Hollywood gets too much and he departs for sunnier climes.

Candidate Number Five: Anthony Stewart Head

Has already more than proved his geeky acting chops with memorable  key performances as both Buffy's mentor Rupert Giles in Buffy The Vampire Slayer and ruthless king Uther Pendragon in Merlin.

The 59-year-old veteran would be a superb choice to play a very domineering Doctor - and his musical talents could lay the groundwork for the inevitable musical episode of Doctor Who we've all been expecting (yes, I know there was a Big Finish musical audio play, but it's a TV trope the show has never touched).

As always I welcome your comments on this suggestion - and the others in the series - as well as alternate choices for this important role.

There will, eventually, be a poll to hammer out once and for who the readers of HeroPress fancy to be the next to own the keys to the TARDIS.

Inspiration behind Episode Three of Spartacus: War of the Damned

Dealing With Drow...

Monday, 25 February 2013

The Next Doctor: Candidate Four...

Candidate Four: Mark Gatiss

In all honesty I'd love Mark Gatiss to take over from Steven Moffat as the show runner for Doctor Who, however if that it is not to be then the next best thing would be for him to actually take on the mantle of The Doctor.

As well as a great actor and comedian, 46-year-old Gatiss has written original Doctor Who novels and episodes of the new show as well as the 50th Anniversary docudrama An Adventure In Space And Time, frequently pops up on the extras of Doctor Who DVDs in various capacities, has appeared  a couple of times in nuWho etc.

He also appears in - and writes for - Sherlock.

As David Tennant's time in the role of The Doctor proved, there are definite benefits to having a knowledgeable fan of the show as its central character.

Gatiss also has a penchant for Gothic horror which, time and again, has been the driving force behind some of the show's finest stories.

Tonight On Spartacus (In The UK)...

Map-A-Monday: Skaro

click to embiggen
 

Skaro: homeworld of the daleks.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Fee Fye Foe Fumm!



A look at the giants of the forthcoming Jack The Giant Slayer.

The Next Doctor: Candidate Number Three...

Suggested by Joshua Macy on Google+

Candidate Three: Richard Ayoade

Best known, of course, for his role as Maurice Moss in The IT Crowd, 35-year-old Ayoade is a versatile comedian, actor, writer and director.

He is also remembered for his turn as Dean Learner in the hilarious Garth Marenghi's Darkplace and was recently seen in the US sci-fi comedy The Watch.

A Victory For Dead Trees...


Saturday, 23 February 2013

Game Of Thrones: Season Three Trailer...



Season Three of Game Of Thrones begins (in the UK) on April 1 on Sky Atlantic

Why Earth?


Why is The Doctor so obsessed with Earth (and its human inhabitants)?

Of course we know why Doctor Who (the programme) is always returning to Earth because (d'oh!) that's where it's made, it's cheaper to film an Earth-bound story than bust the budget on outer space special effects and alien planets, and there's a feeling that the 'general public' will relate more to stories involving humans.

But - in Universe - why does The Doctor keep coming back here? And perhaps even more importantly why are so many alien races (particularly the daleks) obsessed with conquering the planet?

I'd love to hear other fans' pet theories on this, but here's mine:

In the moments before the final death of the planet Earth (cf. The End Of The World), the nascent Time Lords drew the planet back in time to become Gallifrey.

In Planet Of The Dead, Lady Christina says to The Doctor: "You look human" and he shoots back: "You look Time Lord" and I believe this is a clue to the fact that through some wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey bending of space-time the human race is somehow an antecedent, an evolutionary forebear, of the Gallifreyan Time Lords.

Or it could be that the daleks just want to get their hands on the giant Racnoss starship at the core of the planet...

R2-D2: Beneath the Dome...

Friday, 22 February 2013

Fleamarket Friday: Let's Go Retro...


The third issue of Tim Shorts' fine OSR fanzine - The Manor - has hit the streets, boasting the usual selection of useful articles: a self-contained dungeon adventure; another of Tim's characterful merchants that can be dropped in any fantasy urban setting; and a new adventuring class - the Monster Hunter.

Twenty-four pages of goodness wrapped up in a nice, simple brown card cover that instantly reminded me of the original "little brown books" that first introduced the world to Dungeons & Dragons.

Co-incidentally, this week, Wizards Of The Coast has announced a prestige release of reprints of the those long-out-of-print and highly sought-after books (in a wooden presentation box, with designer dice).

The $149.99 box set also includes the Original supplements: Greyhawk, Blackmoor, Eldritch Wizardry and Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes. This isn't really a box set to use, but rather an artefact to treasure, a memento of the origins of this fine hobby of tabletop roleplaying games.


Fleamarket Friday: A New Deal On The Doctors...


Cubicle 7 is now offering a third subscription option for its series of Doctor Who supplements coming later this year, dealing with the character's different incarnations.

This new deal allows people to subscribe to PDF copies only of the books for $180/£110. Like the hardcopy subs, this PDF-only deal is only good until March 4.

This subscription includes PDF versions of all 11 titles: The First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Doctor Sourcebooks, plus the Eleventh Doctor Sourcebook One, and at least three Doctor Who short PDF-only products to be released in 2013.

As all the books are roughly the same size, it's still a mystery what the Eighth Doctor book will contain, as he has only appeared in the one TV movie (as far as I'm aware C7's licence only covers The Doctor's televised adventures). I'm thinking maybe a large section on the different incarnations of The Master, but I'm intrigued to see what Cubicle 7 give us.

Fleamarket Friday: The Light At The End...



Part of Big Finish's broad celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who is November's The Light At The End, a multi-Doctor tale featuring Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann (as The Doctor), supported by Louise Jameson (Leela), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa), Nicola Bryant (Peri), Sophie Aldred (Ace), India Fisher (Charley Pollard) and Geoffrey Beevers (The Master).
"November 23rd 1963 proves to be a significant day in the lives of all eight Doctors…

It's the day that Bob Dovie's life is ripped apart…

It's also a day that sets in motion a catastrophic chain of events which forces the first eight incarnations of the Doctor to fight for their very existence. As a mysterious, insidious chaos unfolds within the TARDIS, the barriers of time break apart…

From suburban England through war-torn alien landscapes and into a deadly, artificial dimension, all these Doctors and their companions must struggle against the power of an unfathomable, alien technology.

From the very beginning, it is clear that the Master is somehow involved. By the end, for the Doctors, there may only be darkness
.
"
The play is available to pre-order in two formats: the £14.99 standard, two-disc edition or the £40 five-disc limited edition, collectors version which includes a pair of 70-minute documentaries and a bonus Companion Chronicle with William Russell as Ian Chesterton.

Fleamarket Friday: Resistance Is Futile!


On April 25 select cinemas across the United States will be screening the remastered Star Trek: The Next Generation story The Best Of Both Worlds as a a feature-length movie to help promote its release - and that of Season Three - on Blu-Ray.

The event will also include behind-the-scenes clips from the story and 'making of' sequences from Season Three.

The Best Of Both Worlds (a two-parter which concluded Season Three and opened Season Four of Star Trek: The Next Generation) sees the arrival of the dread Borg in Earth-space, their abduction of Captain Picard and his transformation into their spokesman, Locutus.

To find your nearest cinema for this seven o'clock screening, visit Fathom Events.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Doctor Who: The Sun Makers (1977)


Millions of years in the future, The Fourth Doctor, Leela and K-9 arrive on Pluto and discover it has been transformed into an industrial complex run by the omnipotent Company.

The Company keeps its human workforce in line through ever-increasing taxes and mind-altering drugs pumped into the atmosphere (which help maintain a constant climate of fear).

The TARDIS travellers descend into the bowels of the city where they meet a fledgling group of belligerent and cowardly rebels who The Doctor whips up into a mood of revolution.

The Sun Makers - named for the individual mini-suns each city on Pluto has - is quality political satire, sadly as relevant today as it was back in the '70s.

Robert Holmes' playful and uncomplicated script is full of witty one-liners and none-too-subtle barbs against heavy taxation. In fact the whole story has an overwhelming anti-authoritarian, Blake's 7 "sticking it to The Man" vibe about it (possibly accentuated by the presence of Michael Keating - aka Vila from Blake's 7 - among the rebels).

The Company's main representative on Pluto is the wonderfully wicked Collector (Henry Woolf), the wheelchair-bound, high-pitched Usurian (the clue's in the name, folks!), constantly berating his city chief Gatherer Hade (Richard Leech).

Outside of The Doctor, this charismatic pair have some of the best lines in the show and help keep the pacing brisk.

Perhaps George Lucas should have watched The Sun Makers before sitting down to write the script of The Phantom Menace if he'd wanted to make an interesting sci-fi movie about taxation!

Even with its limited BBC budget, the story makes atmospheric use of factory roof tops and London Underground tunnels to create its industrial setting, while The Company has a definite Aztec motif (sun gods and all that) to much of its senior staff's costuming and office space.

There is, of course, a fair amount of running around in corridors - well, this is Doctor Who, after all - but it never gets tiresome or feels like padding.

Finally, although it's probably a bit crass to point this out but Louise Jameson looks absolutely stunning as Leela throughout this four-part tale - without a doubt confirming her role as "something for the dads".

A Peak Behind The Curtain...

The Next Doctor: Candidate Number Two...

Following on from Tuesday's opening shot, here's my second suggestion as a worthy successor to Matt Smith.

Candidate Number Two: Damien Molony

Currently to be seen as OCD vampire Hal in the final season of Being Human on BBC3.

Being Human is 28-year-old Damien's first TV role and he's already proved himself versatile enough to handle the role of The Doctor, bringing everything from horror to humour to the part of Hal.

Obviously, these are only my suggestions and I more than welcome any input from readers.

Eventually I'll post up a poll and everyone can vote on who they'd like to see as the next Doctor.

How To Use A Wand...

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Doctor Who: The Greatest Show In The Galaxy (1988)


Notoriously plagued with production problems (after asbestos was discovered during renovations of the studios where the story's interior scenes were due to be shot), The Greatest Show In The Galaxy fails quite dramatically to live up to its optimistic title.

From the outset a large part of the problem appears to have come from someone - either writer Stephen Wyatt or director Alan Wareing - misreading the definition of surreal as cheap and crappy.

Supposedly set on the alien world of Segonax little effort is made to conceal the fact that, once again, Doctor Who is filming in a quarry.

Not only that, even though the mysterious Psychic Circus has travelled from end of the galaxy to the other before settling on Segonax the entire ambiance is very much Earth - 1950s with a lashing of the 1980s.

The Seventh Doctor and Ace arrive on the planet after the TARDIS receives some spam mail inviting them to The Psychic Circus: The Greatest Show In The Galaxy.

Even after the TARDIS lands on Segonax, The Doctor and Ace don't reach the circus until the end of the first episode and the rest of the tale is wrapped up in so much messy obfuscation that the decent plot at the core of this tale could be easily overlooked.

The circus is, in fact, a trap - with a succession of performers being forced to entertain the three-person audience, a '50s family with shades of The Family Of Blood (Father, Mother, Daughter). When the audience tires of the performers they are killed and the next entertainment is wheeled in.

Metaphorically, the circus can easily be taken as representing a television show (probably Doctor Who itself) with the attendant problems of retaining an enthusiastic audience. However, this does make you wonder then why it brings in a pointless and condescending character such as the bespectacled, tank top-wearing Whizz Kid (Gian Sammarco), a heavy-handed parody of the show's own enthusiastic fan base?

The Greatest Show In The Galaxy clearly thinks it's being very clever, yet - despite some strong character moments - in many respects it's the most blatant example of The Emperor's New Clothes and little surprise that just one season (four stories) later the show was cancelled.

Fifteen Minutes Of Hilarious News Interviews...



As an ex-journalist, I appreciate the value of a good interview subject.

Be warned, this compilation does contain some fruity language, so it's definitely NSFW!

Worth it though for the stoner UFO expert alone... 

A New Car? Make It So!

Sometimes it feels as though, whenever I write about my non-geeky life, it's all doom and gloom but that's far from the truth (it's just the doom and gloom tends to make one forget the good bits).

Rachel and I actually live a very good life and there's no better example of this than the surprise present her parents' gave us at Christmas: a cheque towards the purchase of a new car.

Here's a picture of us opening the cheque for the first time on Christmas day.


The reactions are real (although admittedly I was calculating how many DVDs I could get for that sum of money). And yes, I am a grown-man wearing a Jake The Dog T-shirt.

Anyway, Rachel picked up our new car last week - an almost new, shiny, black, Ford Fiesta Zetec and it's so smooth compared to our poor old car (also a Ford Fiesta Zetec, which I purchased around the time I started working at Maxim, so I'd had it for about a decade).

This is something we've talked about for ages, as Rachel was becoming increasingly concerned about taking our old car on any long journeys (such her frequent trips to Wales to see her two godchildren), and with our Christmas cheque we were able to go to a local dealership and tell them exactly what we wanted.

Now I know next to nothing about cars, but I'm a sucker for gadgets so this new vehicle is a Star Trek-like leap into the future for me, with its sundry gadgets, parking sensors, iPod socket and numerous push-buttons on the dashboard.

We've even finally joined the "clicker age" and have a car that be remotely unlocked using a key fob clicker. Sure, most people had those last century, but like I said I'm quite backward when it comes to anything to do with cars.

Wonder Woman Wednesday...


Tuesday, 19 February 2013

First Look Trailer: For the Win



This is a trailer for Team Unicorn's upcoming music video For the Win.

Alongside cameos from Aisha Tyler, Mythbusters' robot overloard Grant Imahara and a super secret Big Bad, Team Unicorn brings together a geek army to destroy evil in a post-apocalyptic world while promoting truth, justice and the Unicorn way.

The full music video will be released on March 4.

Team Unicorn are: Michele Boyd; Clare Grant; Milynn Sarley; and Rileah Vanderbilt.

The Next Doctor: Candidate Number One...

It seems quite probable that Steven Moffat will hand-over the reins of Doctor Who after this year's ginormous 50th birthday shindig at the end of the year. It also seems likely then that Matt Smith will hang up his fez at the same time and a new Doctor will appear for the next era of the show.

Therefore I'm starting an occasional column on possible candidates for the role of the 12th incarnation of everyone's favourite Time Lord...

Candidate One: Chiwetel Ejiofor

Currently lighting up our TV screens as the smoother-than-Lando band-leader Louis Lester in the BBC's swanky period drama Dancing On The Edge.

Geeks will probably remember him as The Operative in Joss Whedon's Serenity, but 35-year-old Chiwetel has an impressive catalogue of stage, TV and movie roles under his belt as well as plenty of awards and an OBE.

I imagine he would probably play a cooler, calmer Doctor than Matt Smith and David Tennant - possibly more in the Jon Pertwee vein.

Inspiration Behind Episode Two of Spartacus: War Of The Damned...

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Paws For Thought...


Despite his dwarf genes, Barney may still be growing but I don't think he'll ever be as big as Herman here, (almost) the world's biggest rabbit.

Thanks to Rachel for drawing this picture to my attention.

"You're Never Alone With A Rubber Duck"



Inspired by The Happy Whisk's old Wonder Woman quizzes and my recent acquisition of the giant duck above, I'm running a "just-for-fun" trivia challenge to see who can tell me, for five Hero Points (and without the aid of Google):

  • What brilliant radio series does the quote "One's never alone with a rubber duck" come from?
  • For a hundred bonus points can you also tell me who said it?

A hint: it's my all-time favourite radio show and has been mentioned on HeroPress before...

Accumulated Hero Points can be cashed in for snacks and prizes at the booth on the way out as you exit through the gift shop.

Toot-Toot Time!


This weekend's model train show in Tonbridge was a landmark occasion for two reasons - it was my godson Alec's first show (see him above having a large scale layout explained to him by a very patient modeller) and it was the first that Rachel has attended in her new role as a "miniatures blogger".

Rachel was in charge of the camera and took all the pictures this year. She has published a wonderfully illustrated article over on her blog - Miniatures Make Me Happy, so go and check it out.

We met up with Alec, and his father Nick, at the Angel Centre in Tonbridge and the young man had a great time demanding "more trains" and pointing out that the "trains go". Alec loves trains, so was in his element - in fact I think he might have been slightly overwhelmed by a surfeit of trains, they were everywhere he looked!

Every time Alec saw a Thomas - from Thomas The Tank Engine - he would cry "Thomas" and he did a fine job of identifying the other characters from the beloved children's books and TV show.

I expect when he got home he spent the rest of the weekend telling his mum all about it.

See more great pictures like this over at Miniatures Make Me Happy

The Rarest Collectible...


Saturday, 16 February 2013

Doctor Who: Planet Of Giants (1964)

A TARDIS malfunction causes the spaceship's doors to open as it is materialising, which has the effect of shrinking it - and everyone inside - as they land.

The First Doctor, Susan, Ian and Barbara emerge in a world where they are only an inch high - it's actually the garden of a 20th Century scientist called Farrow (Frank Cranshaw), but to them it is an almost totally alien environment.

The TARDIS crew soon discover that all the insects in the garden are dead and are then witness to the murder of Farrow by ruthless businessman Forester (Alan Tilvern).

Forester will do anything to get his new insecticide, DN6, Government approval but Farrow had discovered that the chemical mixture was far too powerful and was killing everything it touched.

While hiding in Farrow's dropped briefcase, Ian and Barbara get carried inside the dead man's laboratory - and it's left to The Doctor and Susan to scale the inside of a drainpipe into the laboratory to try and rescue their colleagues.

As the first story of the show's second season, Planet Of Giants is a delightfully atypical tale from a time when Doctor Who was still testing the waters and finding its true identity.

For the most part the special effects are wonderful - coming as they do, four years before Irwin Allen's Land Of The Giants TV series. The story uses primarily giant props (which are wonderful) mixed in with a few scenes of rear-screen projection (which haven't aged so well) when our tiny heroes are interacting with the oversized world.

With the protagonists main aim being simply to get back to the TARDIS and back to their right size, that they are instrumental in helping halt the production of DN6 and getting Forester arrested is almost incidental - as the two groups of humans (big and small) never directly interact.

There's some repetition of a dialogue, but with the story cut down from four episodes to three, Planet Of Giants doesn't feel padded and manages to maintain a good pace throughout.

The rear-projection moments aside, the 1960s was probably the best time to produce such an experimental episode - had it come a decade or two later it would have fallen foul of dreadful CSO and if made today would run the risk of hit-and-miss CGI.

It's the enormous props that make this story so memorable, combined with the "lucky" plot twist that all the insects have been killed by DN6 meaning there's no worries about trying to animate foot-long ants or 10 foot earthworms. The only living insect Ian and Barbara meet is a fly, which is handled very deftly - with Barbara fainting at the sight of it so it wasn't necessary to show it flying off.

Star Wars: Empire Of Dreams...

Empire of Dreams: Marking of Star Wars is a documentary from the 2004 Star Wars Trilogy DVD set.

Ladies & Gentlemen, Welcome To My World...


It should come as no surprise to regular readers that my enthusiasm for HeroPress took a severe hammering in the wake of my mother's death last month. Suddenly it just didn't seem that important.

Things, however, are starting to get back to normal around here and this week I've found myself inspired to type up some short posts to get myself into the spirit of blogging. 

I'll be honest and say I'm still not 100 per cent back in the swing of things. A loss of a family member can make you question priorities etc I'm sure this is a topic I shall return to in the coming weeks, but while I'm processing all the data that is streaming through my noggin I'll endeavour to try and not be too maudlin.

My lack of concrete posts over the last four weeks or so has resulted in a severe drop in readership - again, not really surprising - with my daily hits dropping from over 1,000 down to about 300 or 400; so if we are to continue I will have to work on upping my game again.

Not that I write HeroPress for the hits, the blog's primary reader is myself and as long as I'm pleased with what I've written that's the main thing. I've always seen this site as a record of what I've been doing, reading and watching that a Future Me could visit and chuckle (or groan) at.

Part of the impetus for my return to blogging, however, was Rachel's unexpected announcement earlier in the week that she was launching not one, but two blogs, and thus I can finally 'officially' welcome her to our superteam of Followers.

Please be upstanding while we play the National Anthem for:

Friday, 15 February 2013

Fleamarket Friday: Ahead, Warp Factor Cute!


High-end collectible manufacturers Quantum Mechanix (QMx) have unveiled the first three characters in its new line of Trekkies Q-Pop Figures.

Representing Starfleet's best and brightest from Star Trek: The Original Series, these figures stand 4.5 inches tall and are made of high-quality PVC.

This initial trio are Captain James T Kirk, Communications Officer Nyota Uhura and First Officer Spock.

So, what are Q-Pops?

Q stands for "quote"  because just about everyone has a favorite saying for each character (although I don't recall Captain Kirk actually saying "Pew! Pew! Pew!" when he phasered any klingons!) .

Pop refers to the word bubble that "pops up" over each figure, where you can write witticisms using the matching Trekkies marker that comes with each figure.

Trekkies Q-Pop Figures will be available mid-2013 from QMx and QMx-authorized comic, collectibles and specialty stores.

They will also be available direct at www.qmxonline.com and will retail for $19.95 each.

Future releases planned for this line include Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy and Chief Engineer Montgomery "Scotty" Scott.

Much like Tribbles, I do find their cuteness rather infectious and may end up picking up a few if they materialise on this side of The Pond.

Fleamarket Friday: The Chronicles Of Paliax...


Nathan Ward, winner of the recent HeroPress design-a-monster competition, has drawn to my attention a webcomic created by one of his former students.


The Chronicles of Paliax is an on-going webcomic about a stone golem searching for his identity, created by Sean Lewis from Christchurch, New Zealand. New pages appear three times a week - Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Like all good adventures, it begins with a dungeoncrawl...

Films On Netflix: Galaxy Of Terror (1981)


Recommended to me by my good mate Paul, Galaxy Of Terror is a slightly bonkers, early '80s Alien-wannabe, produced by the legendary Roger Corman and resplendent in that "they're making this up as they go along" feeling that he always brings to his movies.

In an alien galaxy, there is a world ruled by a glowing-headed dictator known as The Master (a very natty special effect, it must be said, and a character that has nothing to do with Doctor Who), who hand picks a miss-matched team of astronauts to embark on a rescue mission to the desolate planet Morganthus - where an earlier ship has crashed.

The rescue team boasts a host of well-known performers: Erin Moran (Joanie from Joanie Loves Chachi and Happy Days), Robert Englund (Nightmare On Elm Street, V etc,) David Lynch-stalwart Grace Zabriskie, horror-movie veteran Sid Haig and familiar TV faces Ray Walston and Bernard Behrens.

Throw in some rubbery monsters and an unpleasant assault by a giant rape-maggot that ranks with the original Evil Dead's animated tree as just plain wrong, and it's no wonder this has become a cult classic.

To be fair it quite quickly shakes off its Alien aspirations as it heads more into pseudo-psychological territory somewhere between Shakespeare and Space 1999.

For a low-budget schlockfest, Galaxy Of Terror has some very impressive visuals: as well as the storm-lashed surface of Morganthus we are treated to the sci-fi/Dungeons & Dragons delights of the massive, maze-like interior of a pyramidal structure the adventurers have to explore to turn off the energy beam that caused them to crash-land as well.

And if that isn't enough of an incentive to track this B-movie treasure down (as long as you can stomach the giant maggot scene and a squirm-worthy moment involving a shard of crystal sliding under someone's skin) there's the added bonus that the film is only 81 minutes long.

Fleamarket Friday: No Power In The 'Verse Can Stop You Buying This...


Browncoats will be clamouring to get their hands on the recently unveiled Firefly boardgame from Gale Force Nine, manufacturers of the popular Spartacus boardgame.

Joss Whedon's cult sci-fi show comes to life in the new boardgame, announced at the New York Toy Fair last weekend, from Gale Force Nine and Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products.

Firefly: The Game is scheduled to dock with store shelves in the Autumn.


In the game, players captain their own Firefly-class transport ship, traveling the ‘Verse with a handpicked crew of fighters, mechanics and other travellers. As a captain desperate for work, players are compelled to take on any job - so long as it pays. Double-dealing employers, heavy-handed Alliance patrols and marauding Reavers are all in a day’s work for a ship’s captain at the edge of the ‘Verse.

This will be the first in a series of tabletop hobby boardgames and miniatures games from GF9 set in the Firefly 'Verse.

"Building on the success of Spartacus: A Game of Blood and Treachery, we're thrilled to be making a game that evokes the heart and themes of Firefly," said John Kovaleski, CEO of Gale Force Nine. "With challenging game play, fantastic production values and compelling narratives, you and your fellow captains will want to head out into the big black again and again."

Learn more about game at Gale Force Nine and follow its development on the game's Facebook page.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Trek To My Heart...


As before, there was a strong Star Trek element to my Valentine's Day presents from Rachel this year - the pair of mammoth 365 books (one Original Series, one The Next Generation).

Each is thick enough to stop a bat'leth or stun a mugato if you're backed in a corner, although their primary function is background information on the episodes of the two series.

I also got a giant duck for the bathroom:


We've just a delicious meal of coq au vin and dauphinoise potatoes, from Cook, by candlelight and now, after a short breather, are planning to snuggle down for a screening of The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists.

Doctor Who: The Snowmen (2012)

I can't be the only Doctor Who fan that wishes Steven Moffat would leave Doctor Who and return to making more episodes of his marvellous Sherlock. The spiralling decline of the show since he took over destroyed any enthusiasm I had for last year's Christmas special. The trailers didn't help, every time I saw the titular Snowmen all I could think of was Calvin & Hobbes (and not in a good way). Even the prospect of a perky new companion couldn't persuade me to watch it, hence the tardiness of this review. However, with the current season starting up again on March 30, I felt I couldn't sit on this any longer and I had to bite the bullet.


The Doctor has had enough and has 'retired' to Victorian England, 1892, where he spends his time sulking and hanging out with the Silurian detective Madame Vastra (Neve McIntosh), Vastra's wife Jenny Flint (Catrin Stewart) and their resurrected Sontaran valet, the inappropriately hostile Strax (Dan Starkey).

It's n early Christmas and there is something weird going on with the snow which piques the interest of spunky barmaid Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman), especially when she sees snowmen spontaneously growing out of the ground.

She bumps into The Doctor (or was she looking for him, anyway?), but initially he isn't interested in helping and would rather spend time moping around in The TARDIS (which he has parked in the clouds above the city and made accessible by an invisible spiral staircase).

However, Clara - who is also masquerading as a children's governess - is then introduced to Madame Vastra and together they convince The Doctor that this is a case worth investigating.

The Snowmen turned out to be far better than I expected but also far from perfect. The mystery of Clara's identity is certainly intriguing, especially given the surprise ending of the story, but all the flirting was horribly reminiscent of Rose, Amy and Martha. Oh, for the return of Donna and a companion who can just be The Doctor's friend and equal without this unnecessary sexual frisson!

I suppose this does rule out any prospect of Clara turning out to be Susan

Isn't The Doctor married now, anyway?

The whole parking The TARDIS in the clouds thing was daft as well. While symbolic of The Doctor putting himself 'above everything' and creating an impressive  visual, he (or Steven Moffat?) has clearly forgotten the perception filter, which meant he could have simply parked the TARDIS in a back room of Madame Vastra's house and no-one would have been any the wiser.

Style over substance is becoming almost synonymous with Moffat's era of Who. Another example is the villainous foot soldiers of the story, the titular Snowmen, who do very little except stand around for most of the episode, while Richard E Grant's Dr Simeon is the most one-dimensional villain the show has seen in a long while. There was, of course, a reason for this in the form of the Great Intelligence (sumptuously voiced by Sir Ian McKellen), but some depth to Simeon's character would have been nice.

The Great Intelligence links The Snowmen back (forward?) to the the 1967 Second Doctor story The Abominable Snowmen, which this story serves as a prequel to.

However, the way the episode was scripted and paced, the bland 'take-over-the world' plot involving Simeon and the Snowmen played second fiddle to introducing Clara to The Doctor. Bizarrely, The Doctor took her into his confidence remarkably quickly - giving her her own TARDIS key within moments of first introducing her to his ship. But again, maybe, there is something deeper going on there and there is some connection between the two that we - and they - are unaware of?

It has to be said that during his retirement The Doctor has been busy redesigning the interior of The TARDIS and, thankfully, it once again looks like a spaceship rather than a three-year-old's art project. Hopefully now we might actually get to see more of the ship's interior, but maybe that's too much to ask for?

It was also good to see the return of Vastra, Jenny and Strax (although the latter's rebirth was rather glossed over) and, if anything, it confirms the fan supposition after their first appearance that the world needs a Madame Vastra spin-off serial (especially in these dark days of no Torchwood and no Sarah Jane Adventures).

The major flaw of The Snowmen, as with much of nuWho, is that there is too much going on - too many sub-plots and themes - in its limited duration (an hour) that not everything gets the screen time or development it deserves, leaving the whole feeling rather patchy.

Some of this may be deliberate teases from Moffat of revelations to come, of course...

Coming Soon:

Happy Valentine's Day, Geeks!

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

I Am An Unlikely Jedi...


This is the awesome black and white sketch of me in the style of Unlikely Jedi: Return Of The French Guy, the Star Wars-inspired comic I recently helped fund via Indiegogo, that was one of my perks for putting some cash into their coffers.

I love this picture - there's someting about it that makes me really feel like a cartoon character. I can see myself using this - or the face at least - as an avatar on various forums etc in the future.

Although the campaign didn't reach it's target, it raised enough that the comic is still going ahead.

If you want to keep abreast with developments in this project, there is a Facebook page and eventually the comic will have its own, dedicated website.

Inspiration Behind Episode One of Spartacus: War of the Damned...

Meanwhile, In An Alternate Universe...


For those who have yet to see it, SciFind.com has a brilliantly written "alternative universe" take on the eleven lives of The Doctor... where the Time Lord is a Time Lady.

This isn't just a list of actresses, but a well thought-out, and witty, article spelling out the characters of the different incarnations and the background behind their casting (in this alternate universe).

Now, I'll be honest and admit that I'm an old stick-in-the-mud who strongly believes our Doctor should never change gender. However, a different character - this Doctor - I would have enthusiastically watched every week.

In fact, I'm all in favour of the BBC starting a parallel - but interconnected - show about this female Gallifreyan. When there was the mandatory brouhaha and rumour mill about a new companion for The Eleventh Doctor I was a strong advocate of the suggestion that it should be Miranda Hart, but now I see her better used in the Whoniverse as a headlining Time Lady.

Monday, 11 February 2013

The Beginning Of The End...

The final chapter of the epic, blood-soaked saga of slave rebellion in Ancient Rome - Spartacus: War Of The Damned - debuts tonight, in the UK, at 10pm on Sky1HD.


Game Of Thrones Season Three: Chaos Preview...


Or April 1 in the UK!

Map-A-Monday: Amtor

Click to embiggen
Amtor aka Venus from Edgar Rice Burroughs' Carson Of Venus tales. For more maps visit ERBzine.
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