Goodreads Book Giveaway

Old School Evil by Brian Cave

Old School Evil

by Brian Cave

Giveaway ends June 05, 2018.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Bad Guy Breakdown Round 14 - Genghis Rex

Before I go any further, I want to say one thing about Dinosaucers: it's way goofier than I remember. You know how most cartoons have a bad guy that's just kinda stupid? Always screws everything up and makes you wonder why the leader keeps them along? Well, this cartoon had two of those guys on the good side. It's just weird seeing one of the good guys doing the bumbling for once. Granted, there's still a few of these on the bad guys, the Tyrannos side, but it's just telling of the direction this show goes.

As an example of how dumb most of these guys are, in the second episode, Genghis Rex, the leader of the Tyrannos, decided to collect a fortune. Why a dinosaur-looking alien needs money, I'm not sure, but they decide to collect diamonds. And off they go to Houston. Why? Because it has the largest diamond - a baseball diamond.

On the way there though, they get tricked by a gas station owner to spend all their money, $47, on a metal detector to search for gold in the desert, then tricked again into giving the treasure chest they happen to find to the owner. Instead of just attacking this guy, they give away all the money they had, and I'm not even sure how they got that. In a sea of shows that made no sense, Dinosaucers was one of the most ridiculous. And I loved that!

Anyway onto our fighter. Genghis Rex is a big red alien from the planet of Reptilon and leader of its evil population. His usual quest is to steal the secret to Dinovolving, the good guys' technology that allowed a Dinosaucers to turn into a full-fledged dinosaur while keeping their intelligence and ability to talk.

While he doesn't have the ability to change into a smart Dino, he does have a weapon called a devolver, a pistol that has the ability to turn its target into a mindless dinosaur, or if it hits a human, devolve it into a Neanderthal. Another weapon in his arsenal is a fossilizer, which turns its target, be it Dinosaucers, human, or intimate object into stone. Genghis also had his own personal ship, equipped with lasers and grabber claws.

So what can we say about Genghis Rex himself? He's not particularly smart or brave, as he ran away from the Neanderthal he created without any fight. He's not terribly strong either, though he was able to swing another Dinosaucer around by his tail. Then again, punching a cardboard cutout didn't break it and hitting his Ankylosaurus minion on the head made him shake his hand in pain. Still, I'd say he's stronger than any human, but not by much.

Genghis Rex's biggest advantage is his weaponry, easily. Besides that, he's pretty lackluster, which is so disappointing considering he's got a T Rex head. You would think he'd be scary, but when a gas station owner doesn't bat an eye at you, you're far from scary.

I want to apologise again for the lack of pictures. I normally write these on the computer at night or early morning but since my son has changed his sleep schedule, I haven't found the time at home. I do this at work now on my phone and reception there stinks.

If you want to check out Genghis Rex's opponent for next week's battle, Cobra Commander from G.I. Joe, click here. And check back here next week to see them go toe-to-claw.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Bad Guy Beatdown Round 14 - Cobra Commander

Today we're looking at the world terrorist leader Cobra Commander.  Here we have something different from the rest of his cartoon villain peers: someone with no abilities, no talents, and no skill.  Cobra Commander has one thing going for him and one thing alone - Money.  Before I go any further, I must say that I wasn't able to watch all of CC's first 13 episodes, since the original G.I. Joe mini-series wasn't available on my normal cartoon watching sites.  The 13 episodes I watched started with the Revenge of Cobra mini-series, but I was able to watch the first episode of the first series where CC explains that he bank rolls all of Cobra's schemes with his hard-stolen money and complained of losing a fortune when his plans don't work out right.

So Cobra Commander has money, and lots of it, even if he has to supplement that with Tomax and Xamot's Extensive Enterprises, which is Cobra's legitimate business front.  What does that money buy him, though?  Apparently a LOT.  Cobra has a number of massive fortresses with improbable locations - in a desert, in a swamp, underground - each one with giant mechanical snake motifs.

It affords him a literal army of troops that, even if they can't shoot or fight for crap, can overwhelm the Joes, even their best fighter, Snake-Eyes.  It's amazing that he can hire so many people willing to sign up for his terrorist activities but can't give them a firing rang or a boxing ring to train in.  Along with that, they're apparently skilled enough to drive a tank or pilot a jet, but not well enough to not get knocked over or shot out of the sky after just a few minutes in battle.  His money also gives him the opportunity to hire a bunch of mercenaries that actually can do stuff, like Firefly or Zartan, even if he can't inspire much loyalty in them.

Lastly, in a huge surprise to me, he has access to giant robots!  The first time I shows up in the Revenge of Cobra mini-series, I was prepared to write it off as a one-time thing, possibly influenced by G.I. Joe's sister show, Transformers.  But then, another two robots show up in the first regular episode of their cartoon.  They're totally different looking, but the fact that they show up in two episodes makes it canon.  The second set didn't look like this one, but it's such a cool look, I just prefer this one.  No idea if it's piloted by someone or in programmed to follow orders, but either way, it's a great asset to have.

So he's got a slew of very basic fighters at his beck and call, how does he lead them?  Cobra Commander is hindered by two massive flaws: his impatience and his need to be entertained.  First off his impatience.  CC needs to be kept abreast of all of his schemes at all times and if he has to wait, he will destroy his own equipment in a hissy fit.  Secondly, he often puts his plans on hold just to watch the Joes fight in gladiatorial combat.  I don't know why that's such a big deal, but it happens way more often than I expected.

Besides that, Cobra Commander has no advantages.  He can't fight at all, getting captured without resistance at least 3 times.  He carries a gun, but in the 13 episodes I saw, he drew it once but never fired it.  He is capable of flying a helicopter or one of those winged jetpacks, but since both were shot down a few minutes after takeoff, here can't be a really good pilot. It's no wonder Serpentor was able to steal leadership from him so easily later on in the series.

Sorry for the lack of images, my internet is really slow and I can't find the pictures I want. I'll edit this later with more pics.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Bad Guy Beatdown Round 13 - Results

Shadow Weaver's portal find as it grew big enough for Hordak to walk through. He didn't know what to expect if the world on the other side, but he knew of Nazgar and the technological power he controlled before his death. If Hordak could harness that power for the Horde, he could squash the Rebellion and finally claim victory over that barbarian woman, She-Ra.
“Hopefully, those fools Catra and Scorpia can keep the Rebellion in check while I'm gone,” he said as he disappeared from Etheria and set for on the alien world. “What was it Shadow Weaver called it?” he asked himself. “Earth! That name sounds familiar.” He tapped his plated chin then shrugged. Etheria was his concern, for soon he would have it completely within the Horde's control.
As he walked the craggy landscape, he pondered Shadow Weaver's guidance - collect the three messages crystals to fund Nazgar's location and “liberate” his weapons. He looked at the desolate area that surrounded him and wondered if it was Nazgar's weapons which had caused it. He took the scanner from his belt and held it aloft: it started pinging immediately to his left. Shadow Weaver's directions had been spot on, depositing Hordak at the location of the first of the crystals, hidden within a volcanic cavern.
He pointed his arm at the cave entrance and transformed it, blue energy coursing over his limb, the flesh and blood converting into circuitry and conduits.  The cannon that replaced his hand glowed bright red before a stream of energy shot out, boring the collapsed rock away and revealing the stone altar inside, surrounded by a pool of steaming liquid. It reminded Hordak of home and put a smile on his white scaled face.

Possessing the first of his master's message crystals, Hun-Dred sought out the second at the volcano. While his Cult of Dred handled Maxx Steele and his insufferable Robo Force, Hun-Dred would snatch the crystal and escape. His master's order were explicit - retrieve the three crystals and Hun-Dred will know how to resurrect him so they can take over the planet.
Following his sensor readings, Hun-Dred approached the cave entrance, only to find it blasted open. Did Maxx Steele beat him there? He hovered inside, arming his crusher claws with the drill bits stored on his back. “Who has invaded this sacred place?” Hun-Dred called in his robotic voice, the lights on his chest flashing with each syllable and illuminating different facets of the cave.
“Sacred, is it?” the intruder called out, holding the purple crystal in his hand. “You should really consider a housekeeper.” He snorted out a string of laughter.
“That crystal belongs to me,” Hun-Dred days, ignoring the slight. “It is the property if my master, Nazgar.”
“Thank you for confirming my suspicions, you ugly bucket of bolts. Now, get out of my way so I can give the others and steal your master's ultimate weapon.” The intruder’s arm suddenly transformed into a ribbed barrel and shot a blast of energy at Hun-Dred.
In a microsecond, Hun-Dred's computer brain calculated the trajectory of the blast and hovered a foot to the left, avoiding the attack. More calculations allowed him to evade two other shots all while determining the best counter-attack. Stalactites in the cavern’s ceiling would provide enough weight to crush the intruder, Hun-Dred theorized in an instant.  He tilted his head back and aimed the two lasers under his helmet up, firing two blazing beams above the intruder.
The double lasers crumbled the ceiling’s hold and the massive pointed rock formations, dropping them directly onto the intruder.  Buried under tons of rubble, whoever he was would surely be dead and the crystal would be Hun-Dred’s. He stabbed at the pile of rock with his drill bit and began the tedious task of clearing the rubble obscuring his prize.  
When the ground beneath him Hun-Dred began to rumble, his sensors didn’t pick up the tremors due to his hover capabilities.  At the last moment, the sound of metal boring through the volcanic rock alerted him of something coming up just beneath him. He dodged out of the way just as the massive drill broke through the surface, an ugly white face just below the spinning head.  
“You’ll have to try harder than that if you want to beat Hordak!” The drill said before glowing blue and returning to the intruder’s form.  Hun-Dred had never seen a mechanical or technological being with such great shape-shifting powers - he would take the creature’s corpse to Nazgar for examination once it had been destroyed.  Hun-Dred dropped the drill bit and lunged at the intruder, catching both its arms in his crushing claws.
Hordak yowled in pain and kicked Hun-Dred away.  He surveyed the damage to his arms, mangled just above the shoulder.  The energy that had changed the one arm into a blaster tried channeling through both arms, but stopped at the spot where Hun-Dred’s claws has squeezed.
“That’s a clever trick,” Hordak said, “but as saw earlier, I can change more than just my arms.”  Hunching his shoulders to his neck, more blue energy coursed over his entire body, turning the humanoid creature into a rocket with the same ugly face on it.  Flames shot from the bottom as it launched into the air.
Hun-Dred attempted to fire his lasers at the rocket, but the speed it flew proved impossible for him to lock on to.  Before Hun-Dred could fully turn around, the rocket form slammed into his back and sending him flying. Without a foot grasp on the ground due to his hover capablities, Hun-Dred had no chance of stopping his forward momentum as the rocket continued to push him.
Hordak converted back into his original form and landed on his feet while Hun-Dred continued flying.  The robot slammed against the far rock wall with such force that he immediately exploded into a pile of circuits and crumpled metal, showering sparks everywhere.  Seeing the ease at which the robot shattered, Hordak considered Hun-Dred’s master and tossed the crystal into the boiling liquid at his feet. Anyone would would make such pathetic robots would have nothing worth stepping foot on this planet at all.
Click here for Hordak's respect post.  Click here for Hun-Dred's Respect Post. 

How expected the fighter that got killed in his first appearance to actually survive this round?  He's one of the few villains in this tournament that actually died in their cartoon.  Anyway, besides the blasters under his helmet, Hun-Dred had no real powers - besides maybe a robotic brain, if you can count that.  He doesn't even have any established strength feet with his crusher claws, I just felt bad enough for him that I estimated they could do some damage.  On the other hand, Hordak does have a lot of powers, capable of surviving a roof falling on him and escaping through his drill form.  Hun-Dred just could counter Hordak's many forms and invulnerability.

The Winner

To see the winner of the last round, click here.  To see the rest of the Bad Guy Beatdown fights, click here.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Top 5 Best Action Figure Gimmicks

Action figures have some pretty awesome gimmicks.  Think about it - toy manufacturers have been able to squeeze in all sorts of features into your GI Joe, Transformers, and He-Man figures. Spring-loaded missiles, voice chips, battle-damage armor are just a few of the dozens of ways toy designers have convinced us to buy their merchandise.  But what are the coolest gimmicks out there?

Magnets and Wind-ups - Starcom

Starcom toys combined two great features into one awesome toyline.  First, you have Power Deploy, a feature that when a button was pressed or a switch was flipped, would deploy a weapon or accessory automatically.  Returning the part to its original position would wind-up the feature again for its next use.  Second, was the Magna Lock system, where each figure had magnets implanted in their feet.  Normally this would just attach the figure to a vehicle or playset, but placing him on certain places would activate the Power Deploy feature, tying them together in the coolest way.

Combiners - Voltron, Go-Bots, Transformers

There are a lot of toys out there that are designed to combine into bigger toys.  Probably the most famous is the Voltron series, which had three different robots, each comprised of either lions, cars, or other vehicles, sometimes including up to 15 separate parts.  Go-Bots followed suite with Puzzler and Monsterous, but Transformers really took it to the extreme, introducing almost a dozen combiners in G1 with Scramble City, which allowed any four limbs to attach to any combiner torso.

Interchangeable Accessories - Centurions, Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors

These toys were some of my favorites growing up because of the almost unlimited configurations you could come up with.  Both lines featured a bad figure or vehicle with ports all over their bodies and a boatload of pieces you can plug into them wherever you like.  Both toys had an official configuration, but with the toys you could make them as crazy as possible, bristling with weapons or sleek as hell.  The best part was getting multiple figures and trying to put all their accessories on one toy, just overloading them with missiles and claws until they couldn't even stand up.

Holograms - Visionaries, Supernaturals

These toys had me feeling like we were in some kind of futuristic age.  Holograms were something reserved for sci-fi movies and credit cards, what the hell was it doing on our toys.  Visionaries used it to show off the magic powers they had, but Supernaturals (which was totally cheated out of having its own awesome cartoon) took it a step farther by making a number of generic figures where the entire front of them was a hologram and even used double-channel holograms to show two images as you moved them around.

Lasers - Bravestarr, Captain Power

If holograms were too sci-fi for toys, then action figures that shot lasers would blow your mind.  Bravestarr was the first toyline I had seen that incorporated lasers into them, using a backpack that would shoot IR beams at other toys and play sounds or make other features activate.  If that's cool, Captain Power dialed it up to 11, using lasers to make your toys interact with the actual tv show!  You'd hear sounds if your shots hit and your toy (which was a handheld jet) would shoot out the cockpit if it took too many hits from the enemy on the tv set.  The jets could also shoot at each other like a Laser Tag.  MASK even tried this technology with one set, where MASK's vehicle turns into a disappointing wooden crate.

Monday, May 21, 2018

2 Year/200 Post Anniversary Giveaway!

Two years ago, I decided to start the Old School Evil blog, where I would talk about all the cartoons and their villains that inspired me to write my novel.  Over those two years, I've made a whipping 200 posts, including a semi-weekly update marking progress of the book, a Villain Retrospect series where I post my thoughts on each of the villains, both those I remember watching growing up and the ones I've missed along the way and recently found, and then pitting them all against each other in my Bad Guy Beatdown series.  I've put more time and energy into the blog and book than anything else in my entire life and I'd like to share that with you.

Starting today, I'm holding a giveaway for 100 free Kindle copies of Old School Evil.  Click here or the widget above to enter through Goodreads.  The giveaway will last for the next two weeks, ending on June 5th with another small announcement.  During these two weeks, I'll be showing up in other places online with my retro blogger pals.  Keep an eye out and I'll be sharing them all here.  Good luck to all those who enter!

Bad Guy Beatdown Round 13 - Hordak

Considering the sword and sorcery leaning of Skeletor and the Masters on the Universe in general, it's interesting that the main villain if She-Ra is completely technological. I'm wondering what Skeletor was supposed to be learning from him while Hordak was his mentor. 

Hordak main abilities revolve around being able to change either part of it his entire body into weapons or vehicles. His most frequent change is turning his arm, usually his right, into a cannon of a sort. Normally, he shoots ladders out of it which are strong enough to destroy statues of rock formations. Surprisingly, he doesn't suffer from the Filmation white laser syndrome like Skeletor where his blasts just cause a little flash with no damage to the target. On one occasion he shot a stream of fire from the cannon, while on two other occasions he's either paralyzed or put his target to sleep with different blasts.

Here's also sometimes shown to have a Little claw weapon in his transformed arm, but isn't shown using it, so there's no way to tell if it's stronger than his regular hand. He once turned his arm into a hammer, as well.

His other most common transformation is turning his whole body into a rocket to fly away. He explicitly stated the first time we see him use it that he needs more training to control his rocket form better, after crashing into a thicket.

Another time in the same episode he turns his body into a drill and tunnels out from under a rock collapse. Whether he drilled out before the rocks actually fell on him or he survived the collapse and then changed is unknown.

Besides his shape-shifting abilities, Hordak is shown to be a mediocre pilot, flying around in ships that look a little too much like him. He doesn't necessarily have any weaknesses besides the typical cowardly Filmation villain tropes. His rocket power is generally used as an escape. He does depend on Shadow Weaver for a lot of his schemes.

Strengths: functional shape-shifting, various types of blasts from arm cannons, and alternate transportation forms.

Weaknesses: none

If you want to check out his opponent, click here.  If you want to check out the previous battle, click here.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Top 5 Cartoon Scenes that Messed Me Up

In my book Old School Evil, main character Jayce finally gets a chance to watch Transformers: The Movie after fifteen years. When he finds out Optimus Prime dies, his life literally changes - he realizes that a world of cartoons isn't as simple as he thought as a kid.

Optimus Prime's death is probably considered one of the most traumatic events in kids animation. But it got me wondering what other scenes screwed with my head as a kid when I was watching television and movies.

Secret of NIMH - The Great Owl

Don Bluth had a talent for making ordinary things scary looking, and none were better than Mrs. Bisby's advisor, the Great Owl. Though nothing happened to the cute little mouse, I was worried through that whole scene that she was getting eaten, sage advise be damned.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit - The Shoe

A lot of people will say Judge Doom's reveal is the scariest scene in the movie, the high-pitched voice and the dagger eyes, but for me it was the shear terror the animators were able to imbue into something as innocuous as a shoe that really messed me up. And for us to have to watch this innocent footwear dissolve into nothingness is almost too much to take. Absolutely terrifying.

Oliver and Company - Sykes's Death

Disney movies are full of death, there's no denying that. Plenty of villains will fall off cliffs or die in a pigp of magic dust. But Sykes had a special place in Disney's funeral hall - he dies in a way anyone could for in our world, getting hit by a subway. I think the connection to a real world without dragons or magic made it that much worse. Not to mention his dogs getting electrocuted by the third rail.

Inhumanoids - Gagoyle

Kids movies hold a monopoly on traumatic scenes because television shows are way more regulated. But if there's an exception to that, it's definitely Inhumanoids. In a show that's basically made up of nightmare fuel, one scene, or character really, takes the cake - Gagoyle. Whether it's his transparent stomach, or how it just bit off D'Compose's arm, this blue monster is beyond freaky.

Transformers: The Movie - Ironhide's Death

Yeah, I've said it a few times before, but Ironhide's Death is way harder for me to deal with than Prime's. Optimus had a great fight and honestly should have survived the damages to his abdomen. But Ironhide? The shot from Megatron's cannon directly to his face was SO brutal. And that's after everyone else in the ship is shot through. Even Megatron's line "Such heroic nonsense" line is heartbreaking.

If you want to see exactly how Optimus's death ruins Jayce's life, make sure to pick up Old School Evil, available on Kindle and paperback and for free on Kindle Unlimited.  Click the picture below to find it on Amazon.