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The Weekly Haul – Week of August 24, 2016

A definite small week in terms of new Wednesday stuff.

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New TMNT, new Action Comics, and because it was "only" $5.99 (hey, isn’t that what some single issues are from Marvel, nowadays?) the Spider-Man/Wolverine hardcover. Because hey…cheap oversized Marvel hardcover.

And while I continue to–going on 14 months now–refuse to buy any single issues from Valiant, if it’s a "free" issue tossed in, I won’t entirely object. Heck, I might even read it–since hey, I didn’t have to buy it. It’s still not gonna convince me to buy any.

I received an email today that my DCBS package will ship this week, so I doubled up on the Action Comics issue, but last time the package arrived on Friday before I had even gotten to read several of the issues I’d figured I was ok doubling up on, so…learned from that. Especially given life at present.

TMNT at Work: The Leonardo Collection

It’s easy to locate my desk/work-area at work: just look for the toys displayed on a cabinet above a cubespace. I tend to go in phases, over a period of weeks/months of adding to or building a ‘collection’; after a lengthy Robin (Tim Drake) run, I cleared the cabinet, and restarted with Leonardo, Ninja Turtle.

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Initially I started with taking in several of the "basic" figures from the various toy lines over the years. 1980s, 2003, 2012, the "Original Comic" line, and even the 2014 film line. Then I found the Classics figure, the Funko Mystery Mini, and the miniature version of the 2003 figure.

Since starting, I’ve acquired the miniature 1980s figure, the two mini 2016 film figures, and the MegaBlox 2012 figure along with the plush.

And while helping clean out my parents’ garage, I found what I think was some sort of Kids’ Meal toy, presumably from Burger King back in the day (based on the 2003 animate series.

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In addition to these I have quite a few Leonardo "variant" figures primarily from the 1980s line.

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The larger quantity of figures I started with of Leo is why I went with him as the focus…and he’s "traditionally" been my favorite Turtle (though I’d say in recent–the last 10 or so–years that has shifted to Raphael).

After 12 Years…Finally: The Complete Classic TMNT!

Twelve years ago, Summer 2004, I was excited at the (then-finally) release of the original episodes of the "classic" TMNT cartoon on dvd. Prior to this, there was only old VHS tapes (That were hardly complete runs) or less-than-stellar downloads and such.

So when a dvd of the first season–the original 5-episode "mini-series"–was released, I was stoked! (Even though I still prefer the 2003 series above the 1980s and current shows).

Not too long after there were a number of other releases, as Volume Two and Volume Three and so on…simply collecting a few more episodes at a time, but stuff was spotty…and then there was crap like a season being released as four parts, four different units to purchase instead of just one, and so on. More recently, stores have seemed spotty on carrying stuff (by "stores" I primarily mean Target and Walmart with a bit of Toys R Us thrown in) with a mix of the "volumes" and "seasons". Finding them for around $5 each, I’d (over a period of months) acquired seasons 10, 8, and 9) after buying the season 3 set (which duplicated several of the early "volumes"–and the discs actually still bear the "volume" labels).

I was thrilled recently fo find a full Season 7 unit (containing the entire season, not just a "slice" of the season) for a good price (about $15).

Of course…that still left me with a gaping, expensive hole: I had seasons 1-3 and 7-10…but no 4, 5, or 6.

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Presumably to capitalize on the new live-action movie, Walmart seems to have at least temporarily stocked more TMNT stuff…including new double-season editions.

Over the weekend, when I literally came face-to-face with the Season Four box set and then spotted the double-season edition with Season 5 and Season 6 and realized I could complete the series for a "mere" $25, I jumped on it. (In an age when single 2-hour films cost $20-$25+…to get 3 seasons for that same pricing was fantastic!)

And now, "only" 12 YEARS later, I finally own the entire "classic" Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series.

I’ve also "kept up with" the releases of the current series…and may "splurge" on the live-action series now…as that’ll just leave the 2003 series missing. I have some of those dvds…but hardly the full series, and those were horrible as they only had 3-5 episodes each (even splitting a 5-part story labeled parts 1-5 onto two different releases!).

Time and "patience," I guess!

Dipping Back Into Digital…Over Two Years Later

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It’s been over two years now since Comixology did away with in-app purchasing for Apple devices. Being an Apple guy (simply by way of having iPhone and iPad), that stopped me in my tracks as far as digital comics went.

back_to_digital_openscreen_marvelI wrote about the one-year mark last year… and not too long after, “discovered” Marvel Unlimited.

I’ve enjoyed Unlimited a great deal, and found it to be SUCH a great value that even doing the $10 month-to-month subscription (rather than lay out $70-80 in one go for the entire year), I have zero problem with going a month or months without using it yet still paying for it!

The six-month “delay” or “embargo” or whatever–the gap between what’s available without separate purchasing and whatever’s out this week–does not bother me at all. I’m so far behind on “current Marvel” in general anyway that it doesn’t much matter…and for the cost, any mattering there is is offset by reading relatively new stuff for such a small cost–given Marvel‘s $3.99+ price point, really all I have to do is average 3 comics read per month to ‘break even’ with anything else being total bonus. And for what I read just last summer, I’d mentally decided it more than covered over a year, and it’s not yet BEEN a full year since then, so I’m golden. It allows me to–should I choose–read up on a lotta stuff, catch up, etc at my relative leisure without laying out a lotta money (and while I may not like to admit it, keeps me tethered enough that I’m then going to be interested in buying other stuff as a result of things I read, whether newish issues, some collected volume(s), or just stuff from bargain-bins.

back_to_digital_openscreen_dcMaking the “purchase” one time, and being all set until I cancel my subscription and otherwise being free to browse and select and download at my leisure from the app–without constantly logging in or having to juggle multiple apps and interfaces for single-issue selections and such (i.e. purchasing through Comixology without in-app purchases) works extremely nicely!

Just about 3 weeks ago, heading toward DC Comics‘ big Rebirth issue, I’d gotten excited enough that I searched for and downloaded DC‘s digital-comics app to “check” on what a friend has told me a number of times…the individual companies’ apps still allow the inn-app purchases, even though Comixology‘s app itself does not. So, for the first time in over two years, I was all set not only to make “a” digital purchase…but was excited, anticipating, and ready/willing to pay full price digitally…just to satisfy the craving, the immediate gratification of getting to read an issue before work rather than have to wait until a late lunch break to go to the store to get the issue (which I’d already had a copy being held).

back_to_digital_2Taking advantage of a “sale” I had noticed, for a mere 99 cents, I bought the recent Superman Annual that I believe led into the final stuff just ahead of The Final Days of Superman with the titles big #50s and such.

EDITING 6/15/2016 to add: Can’t believe I forgot that I also dropped another $14 or so on an Annual and 12-13 or so issues of Batman for the “core” Zero Year story!

And then after so thoroughly enjoying the new Action Comics issue last week, just to “support” the title and legacy numbering and in-app purchasing and $2.99 price point in general, I bought a digital copy to just have it.

Which I’m sure–for me–may have opened the floodgates as I rediscovered the joy of the digital purchasing–being able to learn of something and/or just being flat-out “in the mood” to read it, and even if I’d consider its print edition nothing more than “a quarter book”–something I wouldn’t pay more than 25 cents for–I’ll pay the “convenience tax” for the digital access and get to read whatever issue(s) immediately and without it taking up a lot of physical space!

back_to_digital_openscreen_tmntCue, then, adding the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles app to my device–because darn it, the TMNT have always been a soft spot for me and an “exception” I’m willing to make to things I’ll otherwise completely avoid on principle…so might as well check that app out, and at the very least see if I can access old purchases I’d made of some of those books.

Much like the DC app, the TMNT app does indeed allow for in-app purchasing…which may well mean some trouble for me down the road, but I especially like that they have stuff priced well below print, at least on some of the collected volumes.

And much to my shared chagrin and enjoyment, there’s currently a sale going on…not just for a couple days or the week, but the entire month of June.

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So, I ‘bit.”

I was curious.

I had to check into the prices of the collected volumes…especially after realizing how far behind I am on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures volumes.

back_to_digital_3With the sale going on, the volumes were $3.99 apiece…and contain at least 4 issues each, if not 5.

For the price of one single Marvel issue that I’d read in a few minutes, I could buy a collection of issues I’ve been intending to re-read soon anyway and that I know I’ll enjoy.

So, utilizing the ease of in-app purchasing…I bought volume 10 for the Future Shark Trilogy story. And that included references to the Eye of Sarnath and such, so decided I might as well get the next volume as well, for the Black Hole Trilogy that I remembered quite enjoying.

Yet after reading the Future Shark stuff, I wanted to backtrack a bit…so got volume 9 for the United We Stand “crossover” story with the Mighty Mutanimals, and a couple more “key” issues I remember from back in the day.

And at this point, I’m honestly thinking that–while it’ll add up to the same thing either way–being able to spread the purchases out, I maybe completely backtrack on these volumes to take advantage of the $3.99/volume price, just for the ease of re-reading the issues on my tablet.

Ultimately, the point being: I was completely soured to digital comics, my interest (and weekly purchases of at least a handful of 99-cent issues) had been killed in its tracks. And I wasn’t just mouthing off or “complaining online” while still giving over my money–I stopped cold, and did not spend another cent, period, sum total on any digital comics from Comixology.

That lasted over two years, some 25 months.

While some of it is the re-“novelty” of the stuff and diving back in after some time away, I’m obviously somewhere in the audience for digital comics! And willing to (on impulse!) purchase digital comics if only to read one time and be done.

Just a drop in the bucket overall, but nearly $20 in just a couple weeks while planning on several more purchases (and who knows from there) on top of buying print editions…and Comixology itself lost out as I’m now going through the individual companies’ apps rather than theirs directly. Sure, they might get a cut, but I imagine it’s smaller than what they’d get if I was going through their app itself even with the “Apple tax,” and all the more significant across time.

Blast From the (TMNT) Past: Krang’s Android Body

While I included in a post back in September 2014 about Krang and the Kraang, I didn’t focus much on Krang’s Android Body there in any singular fashion, and what I was able to focus on was the toy itself.

Little did I realize that a couple years later, I would come across the original box it came in while cleaning out the attic at my parents’ house!

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Unfortunately, the pink brain-part–Krang himself, the character, is a “new” 2014 edition, part of the Classic Collection series of re-issued TMNT figures. But he still fits, still “completes” the otherwise genuinely-vintage piece!

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This is one of the few “accessories” or “vehicles” that I felt was truly worthwhile and fitting…and given what I recall of my obsession with the figures themselves (to the exclusion of vehicles/etc), that’s definitely saying something. And particularly with the new live-action/CGI film about to hit, it’s kinda fitting to find this “original” given how much “more” recognizable this piece becomes.

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Here’s the front of the box…”typical” from the line, and its time, with exaggerated art, ridiculous interpretations of the turtles, and just a small image of the actual product (since this was not a window-box). While this body was an “accessory” piece, it did have the “bonus” of the pink brain part of the figure (minus the walking contraption of the “standard figure” release) to make for a fully complete toy in and of itself.

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Not much new from the top you don’t get from the front, but it certainly helped cover the bases, making sure that whatever part of the box you looked at, you certainly know what it is!

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Same for the side–and they certainly don’t want you to miss that it included Krang himself, rather than you having to purchase the body and then go buy a separate additional figure just to play with it.

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Given this “figure”‘s size, the back sticks with that motif rather than showing off a bunch of other smaller figures (or even vehicles). More on that below…

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A closer look at the back, and the amazing alliteration that totally fits my present-day sensibility and is something I appreciate far more at present than I ever did as a kid!

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Interesting copy-text to “sell” one on the piece…

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And it points out various “features” of the thing, only about half of which I found important or relevant at the time back when I first got this, and the sentiments hold true in 2016.

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I’d mostly forgotten about them, but along with the “regular” figures and vehicles, Playmates had at one point had a line of $20 figures that stood about a foot tall–these oversized giant editions of the basic figures. $20 for one figure?!? What ridiculous nonsense! (Nowadays with $14 3.75″ figures, these would probably be $60+ apiece!)

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Then there were those Pizza Point things you could clip and save. I don’t think I ever learned what/where/how one could “redeem” them, or if I did, I don’t recall deeming anything “worthwhile” enough to be bothered to do anything about it. So hey, I still have at least 4 of the points available to me. Anything good still available?

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The box even has the remnants of the original price sticker, and confirming that I got this from Hills (and not Children’s Palace or Toys R Us or Kmart) (This was pre-Walmart/pre-Target!) (At least for me)

What an expensive thing then, and what a bargain that price would be, now, for such a figure/accessory of this significance and such.

And what novelty to find this original box after all these years, something that it never would’ve occurred to me that I’d saved for any reason! Truly a blast from the past, and a weird sort of “link” to the past, a tangible piece of ephemera in a world of stark contrasts these days–you either find something “mint in box” for HUNDREDS of dollars, or something “loose” for mixed pricing. And here I have originals of the opened box and the loose figure(s).

TMNT2 (2016) Toys – Kraang

Of all the “new” TMNT toys for the new 2016 sequel, the only one I really had any interest in was Kraang.

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Finding the figure recently, tossed it in my cart, and let it spike my groceries cost up a bit. Can’t say I’m all that thrilled with the figure in and of itself…but I like that it has a sort of updated look/feel to the ’80s cartoon version for the body, while the “brain” looks more current cartoony. I haven’t any idea if the film character is a singular entity or if this represents simply one of a bunch of generic entities…but with the inclusion of Bebop and Rocksteady I’m “assuming” singular.

ninja_turtles2_kraang_back

The back of the card shows other figures to look for. I’m really not interested in any of them offhand, except perhaps Casey Jones (I have the ’80s, 2003, and 2012 cartoon versions…add a 4th incarnation?) and maybe Bebop and Rocksteady…that might wait til the film’s actually out.

Five villains to six unique heroes…that 5:6 is not a bad ratio to have for a line of figures for a movie! Though I might be slightly more interested in trying to track down a set if three of the four turtles didn’t right here on this layout have variants (1. Where’s Donatello’s? 2. I like it better when there’s simply a different “version” of the four turtles in a given wave uniquely displayed on the card-backs).

It also helped a great deal that Target seemed to realize that jacking their prices up to basically $10 to Walmart and Toys R Us‘ $9 wasn’t doing so well, and so the price is back “down” (at least where I’ve seen lately).

As variants go on the TMNT toys…I’d really dig a line of these “standard” figures based on the IDW comics, in the Mateus Santolouco style!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Deviations [Review]

teenagemutantninjaturtles_deviations0001Deviations

Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Art: Zach Howard
Additional Art: Cory Smith
Ink Assist: Joylon Yates
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Publisher: Ted Adams
Cover: Zach Howard
Published by: IDW
Cover Date: March 2016
Cover Price: $4.99

Aside from the price, I’ve enjoyed these Deviations issues (having read the Ghostbusters and the GI Joe issues prior to this one). My most obvious comparison to describe the Deviations designation is that these are IDW‘s version of the classic Marvel series What If..? That is, a key story point is chosen, an an alternative outcome is explored. For obvious reasons, IDW phrases it In a World… Where _______ happened! instead of What If… _______ happened?, but the result is functionally the same. This issue (as with the other four one-shots) carry a hefty $4.99 cover price…hefty in general, though admittedly not drastically beyond the standard $3.99 price point of regular-sized issues.

In a world where the turtles join Shredder, we find a hunted Splinter struggling to survive against his sons, who have been fully brainwashed into Shredder’s control and the world of the Foot. Old Hob is brought into things–the turtles getting Splinter’s location from him–and then the confrontation. The turtles capture Splinter, and present him to Shredder. Total victory nears for Shredder–the turtles have defeated rival gangs, brought Splinter (Hamato Yoshi) to him, and he is at the height of his modern power…and then things crumble. Splinter is not unprepared and–along with Hob and (separately) a revenge-bent Hun (father of Casey Jones, who in this continuity was KILLED by Shredder)–battle is joined, with results rather different from “actual continuity,” establishing a new status quo for this world while leaving us as readers to wonder where things might go from here.

While the Ghostbusters issue I read pivots on the original film’s story, and the GI Joe one is more of a generalized thing…this TMNT issue pivots on a specific event within current IDW Comics continuity, specifically the inciting bit of the City Fall arc…where Casey Jones was stabbed (but survived) in this issue, he died; and where Shredder gained control of only Leonardo, here he got all four of the turtles. As with the rest of the TMNT issues, this one involves multiple folks for the story, Waltz for the actual script, and mostly familiar art credits. Howard‘s art fits my memory of City Fall in that while this has its own style visually, it’s not any sort of jarring contrast to Santolouco‘s art. As such, and having followed the IDW series from its start through present I feel more “aware” of stuff with this story and like this is a perfect fit for my expectation of the Deviations books.

The story itself works and feels very much like any given issue of the ongoing series, and the art–as mentioned above–fit very well, making for an all around attractive package and enjoyable read. My chief nitpick with this issue is that it is too short and I’m not a fan of paying more for the sort of backmatter included in this issue, artificially inflating the feel of its size.  We have 24 story pages, and then 6 pages of The Anatomy of a Page where we see plot, script, layout/pencils, inks, colors, and lettering in progression.

I would very much enjoy seeing more exploration of this alternate timeline or even exploration of other alternative outcomes. A world where Raphael never reunited with his brothers. A world where the turtles failed to stop General Krang. A world where the turtles were too late to save Donatello. Etc. To me, this sort of thing would be great for some mini-series…four issues would allow more room than one and would provide for companion volumes to existing TMNT collected volumes. And if a creative team really got involved or an alternate take really hit with fans, it could be revisited multiple times and expand the alternate world.

I’d love to say I recommend this to “anyone,” as it IS a one-shot and thus not like one has to invest in multiple issues…but this really seems more like a treat for the longer-time fans. To really appreciate the story, one would have to have read City Fall…otherwise this is just some generic issue with bad turtles working for Shredder. That this hinges on City Fall inherently allows for a lot more context (the first 20-some issues of the series). Certainly recommended for anyone who has followed IDW‘s ongoing TMNT series at any length or at least enjoyed the first few volumes and City Fall. The $4.99 is steep even for the “extra” pages…but it IS a one-shot, cheaper than the 2012 and 2014 Annuals, and the paper stock is sturdy so it at least feels like a much better quality (physically) than many $3.99 books.

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