Friday, August 17, 2018

Top 5 Animated Intros

The cartoon intro – a show’s 60-second chance to grab a kid’s attention and hold on tight.  I covered part of it a while ago with the Top 5 Cartoon Theme Songs, but there’s another part to consider – the animation.  While some cartoons cheap out and just use clips form the shows (coughDisneycough), most cartoons animate an action-packed segment that boils the show down into 1 minute of awesome.  But some of those cartoons cheat a bit, pouring all their effort into the intro while the rest of the show just kinda sucks. So today we’re looking at the Top 5 Intros Better than their Cartoon.
Superman (1988)

Ruby Spears doesn’t have a track record of great cartoon openings.  Most are a mix of clips from the show and original animation, and neither is particularly impressive.  Superman, on the other hand, has some really good animation in it, particularly when he flies by the building.  But the cartoon itself is pretty basic and shows none of the flourish of the intro.

If I were to go by the intro, this cartoon would be non-stop thrills with a ton of cuts to close-ups and some great transitions.  Instead, the cartoon has none of that excitement, and Nightshade doesn’t look nearly as good, which is a crime. Get it? Crime? Ugh, I’m sorry.

It’s apparent there’s something special about the Jem intro that the cartoon just doesn’t have – Rotoscoping.  For those not familiar with it, it’s a technique of animating over live action film. That way your animation can mimic perfectly how a character and their clothing moves.  That’s a whole other level of cheating compared to the animation in the show.

One of the biggest ways I’ve seen to create a thrilling intro to a cartoon is with special animation tricks, like flashing light or energy (I wish I knew the name of the technique used for that), and Visionaries uses this trick quite a bit, which is what you’d expect when the cartoon is about holograms.  Too bad during the cartoon itself, most of the holograms are presented as solid green or blue objects, maintaining none of the charm of the intro.
Rankin-Bass (Thundercats, Silverhawks, Tigersharks)

This trio, I think has to be the most egregious in the difference of intro and cartoon animation.  Full of fast action and light shows, the intros to each of these cartoons pulls the rug out from under you when you get the main cartoons, full of sloppy animation and mistakes galore.  It amazes me just how big the disparity is, but I still can’t help but watch them each time, because they’re by far the best intros ever made. Too bad the rest of the show can’t live up to the hype.

There's one last week to pick up Old School Evil in Kindle for $.99, don't miss out!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Bad Guy Beatdown Round 15 Results

“This is Earth?” Nemesis asked, surveying the urban landscape around their ship, including the stadium that had been leveled by their landing.  “Pathetic.”
Kanawk groaned.  “Your negativity astounds me.   You want an easily conquered population?  You won’t find one more eager to fall under your heel than my home planet.”  He pointed at the squads of police cars and firetrucks speeding towards the crash site.  “Look at this paltry welcome we’ve received. They have no response to a giant robot such as yourself.”
Nemesis flexed the red claw on his left hand open in contemplation.  He shot the claw out on a cable, smashing it into one of the police cars.  The claw squeezed the car across the middle, cutting the vehicle in half. “Yes, I believe you might be right.”
The response teams opened fire on the robot, pelting it with bullets that bounced off its metal skin.  Inside Nemesis’s chest-mounted cockpit, Kanawk couldn’t help but smile at the thought of the people that hadn’t even mounted a rescue operation for his space mission being wiped out under his robotic partner’s massive foot.
Down below, the police offer’s calls over the bullhorn went silent before being replaced by a shrill voice that Kanawk instantly recognized.  “Hey, you metal freak! What’s the big idea ruining our show?!” It was Pizzazz, and Kanawk’s thoughts of revenge against humanity was shoved aside out of fanboy glee.
Nemesis staggered as if attacked.  “You fool, Kanawk, you said they had no advanced weaponry!  They’re using some sort of sonic cannon against us!” He regained his footing and moved to squash the green-haired human as she fought against the officer who was previously using the microphone.
“No!” Kanawk shouted, slamming his fist into the controls in front of him.  “They’re the Misfits, my favorite band!” He entered a string of commands and from Nemesis’s ankle, cables were deployed which reeled his feet back to the ground.  “You can’t crush them! They’re the only things on this planet worth saving.”
Nemesis considered.  “Their sonic attacks do seem like valuable assets.”  Down below, Pizzazz punched the officer at the bullhorn, while another singer, this one with white hair, successfully commandeered a police car and was interrupting rescue attempts by singing over the loudspeakers.  
Kanawk activated his own communications system and shouted his apologies to the band, his broadcast squelching the cruiser’s loudspeakers.
“Listen to the sound system on that, Roxie!” Pizzazz said.  “We could play over every one of Jem’s shows with those speakers!”
Kanawk squealed.  “Yes, absolutely!”
“What are you doing?” Nemesis asked, as Kanawk entered commands for the giant robot to lower himself to the ground.  “Nemesis doesn’t kneel for anyone!” He resisted the movement, but Kanawk activated more cables in the robot’s hands which brought him even lower.  
“Why do you resist me, Nemesis?” Kanawk shouted, pressing more buttons.  “With Pizzazz and the Misfits’ in our fold, we’ll have even more influence and destructive power over this planet!”
Nemesis turned his claw hand into a spinning blade and sliced through the cables pulling him down. “I do not like having one fleshbag inside my console, what makes you think I’d like two others?”
“I don’t care what you want!” Kanawk cried.  “I’ve been dreaming of this day my whole life!”
“Then I shall end it for you.”  Nemesis rerouted his auxillary power system through his cockpit, frying Kanawk with a million volts of electricity.  “I don’t need your help conquering this planet, and I think I’ll start with your so-called Misfits.” With that, he hefted a lag up and brought it down on Pizzazz with a sickening thump.
Roxie, still circling the site with her stolen police car, screamed Pizzazz’s name before spinning out and driving directly toward Nemesis.  The robot folded his claw back into a sharp point, revealing a laser barrel. He blasted the car, causing a massive explosion and sending the wreckage into the air.
From back at the stadium where she helped rescue efforts for the children in the stadium, Stormer saw the carnage, but was unaware of her bandmates’ demises.  She later joined the Holograms before retiring from music to focus on an adoption agency.
Click here for Nemesis's respect post and here for the Misfits's

Is there any real doing that this fight would go this way? Maybe if Nemesis was dumb enough to allow Pizzazz access to his control center, she could have sabotaged his systems with her reckless abandon, but I figure Nemesis doesn't even like having Kanawk there, so he wouldn't let others in it. Of course, Kanawk probably want a Misfits fan, but that was the only way this story lasted longer than 1 paragraph.

The Winner

Click here to see the last round, Confess Commander vs. Genghis Rex. Click here to see the rest of the fights.

Don't miss picking up Old School Evil on Kindle, on sale for 99 cents until 8/25.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Wednesday Wrap-Up - 8/8/2018

1000 followers?! I can't believe I've finally reached this on Twitter.  To commemorate, I'm planning to drop the price of Old School Evil starting Monday the 12th through Saturday the 26th to 99 cents!   I'll be posting links to it pretty often through the two weeks, so make sure to pick it up if you haven't been able to afford its regular $4.99 price.

Besides the same, not a lot had been happening besides the OSE 2 rewrite. I finally got to pay that I've been looking forward to where I'm giving characters titles that the DDTB had assigned them. Mainly leader titles here, like Commander vs. Director vs. Mastermind. I admit, I love coming up with titles and I'm going to be assigning a lot of them in this book. Guess I'll need to go through a bunch of cartoons to figure out what they would all go by.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Bad Guy Beatdown Round 15 - The Misfits

Today we're looking at Nemesis's... nemesis, along with Jem and the Holograms's, the Misfits.  Made up of three super-bitches Pizzazz, Roxie, and Stormer, this band shredded the charts with much better songs then the Holograms ever did.  But when they weren't singing, the participated in activities such as kidnapping, destruction of private property, and attempted murder.  How the hell did they never go to jail?!

Like I said before, the band is made up of three regular members - Pizzazz, the leader with the puke green hair, Roxie, the white-haired one that didn't really have any character-defining traits, and Stormer, the reluctant blue-haired singer, who showed some real concern and would sometimes go against her band mates if their schemes involved treating children like shit.  Apparently, she's fine with treating adults like shit, though.  Their attitude is out in the open too, with songs such as "Gimme, Gimme, Gimme," "Out of my Way," and "Takin' it All."

But there's one villain in the show worst them - their manager, Eric, while not as visible in the show was easily the worst of the bunch, hiring thugs to burn down houses, blow up houses, and all around try to murder Jem and the Holograms in every episode.  Still, the Misfits are more than capable of attempted manslaughter on their own, whether it's accidental or intentional, like Pizzazz's habit of reckless driving, especially when she commandeered a bulldozer and steered it into a group of children!

Anyway, one thing I had forgotten about the cartoon is that the Misfits have a sometimes 4th member, Clash.  She shows up in episode 6 as a fan of the band and was welcomed with open arms, since she immediately offered to sabotage a movie starring their rivals.  In fact, that episode is one of the most gratuitous in their efforts to end the Hologram's careers.  After first failing to erase the tapes that had recorded all of Jem's scenes, then rigging a fake bridge to collapse under Jem while she was crossing it, Clash was the one to take the whole thing a step further.

While filming a scene using staged explosives, Kimber was supposed to ride a motorcycle through a minefield.  Clash used the cymbals on her wrists to distract the special effects guy in charge of the explosives, allowing the other Misfits to change the timing on them.  As a result, the explosives went off early, sending Kimber flying from one blast to another.  If this had happened on a real set, I'm pretty sure Kimber would have been blown to bits.  She survives, of course, but it only highlights the Misfits' wanton destruction and lack of regard for human life. 

Another episode shows the Misfits calcutated attacks on the Holograms on a ski slope, taking each of them out one by one until only Jem remained.  Then they all team up on her, pelting her with snowballs.  What do you want to bet they all had rocks in them?  Of course, after that, they up their game by setting off an avalanche to bury Jem.  This is the behavior of people that have absolutely no remorse, total psychopaths that somehow get away with their threatening antics every time.  How do they do it?  It probably has to do with Pizzazz's father being a billionaire, who allows her to spend as much money as she wants, even being movie studios and record labels, just to get her out of his hair.

The only thing you don't outright see in the shows is physical violence, which is a real surprise.  Only once did it look like Pizzazz might attack Jem, and it was shockingly Jem that started it, throwing a star hanging from a rope and hitting Pizzazz in the back.  Unfortunately, Jem's boyfriend Rio stepped in to keep them from scratching each other's eyes out.  And we all know Pizzazz would have wrecked Jem's whole world.

And yes, their music is better. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Wednesday Wrap-up - 8/1/18

Man, it's been ages since I've done one of these!

So, what am I doing these days? Firstly, I'm working in the second draft of Old School Evil 2. I'm a few chapters into the rewrite from the first draft and so far I'm way happier with the story! I'm tying more stuff into it from the first book, and fleshing out characters, and making the stakes way higher for Jayce and his team.

Besides that, I've been working on a couple other ideas. Old School Evil as it stands is one trilogy. After that, I've got a secondary trilogy planned, codenamed Generations, which will expand the cartoons I'm drawing inspiration from in both ways. I've created a handful of cartoons for the Scooby Doo era, and some of the Pokemon era. Lately, I've been planning out the last one if those monster cartoons, and I really like how it's turning out.

Lastly, I've been wasting a lot of time with Mega Bloks. See, they had a set for TMNT that included the Shredder, and since he's a cool villain, going along with the Skeletor figure they made a little while ago. Since I got a big set with Shredder, I went nuts and bought a ton of other TMNT sets. And now I'm planning to customize a ton of other figures into MASK, GI Joe, and other characters. It's a huge waste of time for me, since it would require 3D modeling and printing custom heads.

Where do I go from there? Why making up a story that crosses over a bunch of cartoons with an idea of turning it into a comic, all just so I can pay it on Twitter and Instagram, which I will be going to pretty soon.

Ugh. Why do I do this to myself?

One more thing to note: I'm coming up on 1000 followers on Twitter. I'm thinking I'll do something special when I get there.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Bad Guy Beatdown Round 15 - Nemesis

Oh man, I've been waiting for this one. One's a 50 feet robot, and the other is three mean girls.

Technically that's not true.  While Nemesis does have all the strength and abilities, not all of it is accessible to him.  Let's do a very brief history of the Robotix and you'll see what I mean.  The home planet of the Robotix was inhabited by two main races - the peaceful Protectons and the reptilian Terracores, which Nemesis lead.  When the planet was threatened by destruction, both races decided their best course for survival was to enter suspended animation and send their ship into the stars.  To preserve their bodies, the ships main program, Compucore, was able to upload the Protectons' and Terracore's essences into the Robotix, large robots they used for manual labor. 

I know it's a lot of info, but we're almost there.  The good and bad Robotix began fighting as soon as they were awakened, but they were unfamiliar to their new bodies, so they couldn't do much more than throw a punch.  But when humans landed on the planet, they went into the Robotix's control console and were able to interface, which granted the Robotix with more abilities, weapons, and configurations.

Nemesis was joined by Kanawk, the leader of the selfish humans on the space crew, who was as much a schemer as Nemesis.  While Nemesis was capable of just about nothing before besides tossing Protetons around before, Kanawk was able to activate a bunch of weird configurations in him, starting with an extending drillbit from Nemesis's mouth that opened up to expose a camera.  That's just about the weirdest thing you'll see in the cartoon - I mean, why couldn't it have come out of his hand?  Instead, it looks like he's puking up a metal worm.

Anyway, beyond that, Nemesis mostly gets upgrades to his hands - in fact, instead of reconfiguring his entire body like most of the Robotix can, turning them into vehicles or ladders, even, Nemesis doesn't change his shape at all.  Rather, most of the changes are in his left hand, which is a small three-pronged claw, which he can extend before interfacing.  He's got a cannon on his shoulder, but I'm not sure if interfacing is required to use it.  His other hand, which is also a claw, but closer to a pincher, I guess, has two extra features - an energy whip, which can cut through a tree big enough to support Nemesis's weight, and then a data link to control a computer.

While the other Robotix can convert into wheeled or even flying vehicles, Nemesis is too good for that, depending on 95% of the time.  Only on two occasions did he move by other means and one of them you can't even tell what he's doing.  I think his feet have turned into tank treads, but it's hard to tell if his feet always looked like that.  The other time, he flew with rocket boosters on his feet. 

That's it for Nemesis's abilities, but how is he at leading?  Definitely not good since half way through the movie - I should mention that this wasn't a full series, but was a movie made up of 16 shorts - Nemesis is taken out by his second-in-command, Trannix, shot in the back and knocked off a cliff.  What is it with Hasbro cartoons where the leader has a backstabber as his lieutenant?  He comes back a few minutes later and doesn't even do anything for revenge on Trannix.  That's lame!  He could have at least yelled at him, but the next time they're together, there's not even a mention of it.  He was able to capture two of the Protectons and replace their programming with other Terracores, including their leader, but that one was reversed pretty quickly.  the other one was left as a spy, but it didn't amount to anything. 

It's really telling that a villains only real defining feature is Peter Cullen's villainous voice - unlike Venger, who had the voice but kicked ass as well.  Nemesis is probably the most disappointing thing about his cartoon - the most boring robot mode, no other configurations, and loss of control over his 4 - yes 4! - subordinates.  I'd say that doesn't bode well for him, but I think he lucked out with his opponent.

Click here if you want to see my original thoughts of Nemesis from when I was a kid for some more degradation of this guy.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Bad Guy Beatdown Round 14 Results

Cobra Commander strode through the halls of the Terrordrome, ranting at the bald scientist following him.  “Humanoid dinosaurs, Dr. Mindbender!” he shouted. “You fail to produce anything with that much potential and I find out they’re already roaming the Earth?”
“But Cobra Commander, we don’t know what these creatures are!”
“What does it matter?” the commander said, holding up his hand for the doctor to stop as he approached to a squad of Cobra soldiers.  “You five, arm up your Viper Gliders. We’re going hunting.”
The troopers turned to salute and shouted “Cobra!”  They ran towards the hangar with Cobra Commander following them.  
Dr. Mindbender took to his heel, continuing his unsolicited warnings.  “Sir, we don’t know anything about these creatures. They could be aliens for all we know!”
Cobra Commander spun to face his subordinate.  “I still don’t see what that would be a concern, Doctor.  Our surveillance shows that only two of three of the creatures are together at any time.  We have superior numbers and firepower, there’s no way we could lose!”
“But if they are from space, or another dimension even, they could have weaponry we could never dream of.  We need to consider--”
“No, doctor, you need to consider what your next words are.  Your petty experiments have wrought nothing but trouble for Cobra.  Perhaps when we retrieve these creatures, I’ll allow you to synthesize them to be new Cobra troopers.  Until then, I don’t want to hear another word about your cowardly concerns. Do you understand?”
“Perhaps Dr. Mindbender has a point, Commander.”
Cobra Commander dropped his head back in frustration.  “And you have concerns as well, Destro?”
“Not concerns,” the silver-headed man said, offering the commander a pistol,” just a suggestion that you arm yourself with more than your charming personality.”
Cobra Commander snatched the weapon from Destro’s hand and hurried away to the helicopter hangar, while his two bald-headed minions looked at each other in disappointment.

The Tyrannos stomped their way across the canyon, shoulders slumped and breathing deep.  Genghis Rex lead the way, mumbling under his breath about his latest defeat to the Dinosaucers.
“Uh, Bossasaur?” Ankylo muttered from behind him.
Genghis spun around and dropped to Ankylo’s level so fast the smaller Tyranno fell backwards.  “Can’t you see I’m busy formulating our next plan to defeat the Dinosaucers and steal the Dinovolving technology from them?”
Quackpot leaned close to Plesio and covered his bill with his hand.  “I thought he was just whining?”
“What did you say, Duck-breath?” Genghis said, taking a step towards Quackpot and shaking his big red fists.
“Nothing, Chiefasaurus!” Quackpot jumped back, smacking Plesio’s lowered head with his own.
“That’s what I thought!  Now, the next one who interrupts my planning is going to get a shot of my Fossilizer!”
“But Bossasaur, look up there!” Ankylo shouted, his finger raised up into the air.
Genghis turned to look into the sky and saw six small flying vessels approach.  “Dinosaucers?” It didn’t seem likely as they’d never chased the Tyrannos away after they’d actually defeated them, preferring to stand around and laugh as Genghis and his goons slunk away.  This latest rout was particularly humiliating, as Genghis--. He shook his head. Next time will be different.
“They’re coming right for us!” Plesio said just as the five winged vehicles opened fire.  Red laser fire filled the air as each vehicle made a pass at the grouped Tyrannos. Ankylo and Quackpot both fled into a crevasse inside the canyon wall while Plesio jumped into the river below.
“Cowards!” Genghis roared, the shoots whizzing by him.  He charged across the field, dodging fire, towards his personal ship.  He jumped inside and fired off the rockets, launching into the air to pursue his attackers.  “You fools think a handful of hang-gliders can destroy a Reptilon ship?” In short work, Genghis had blasted all five gliders out of the sky, each pilot parachuting safely to the ground.  He turned his attention to the final flier, a small helicopter firing a barrage of missiles at him. Genghis’s rocket-powered ship easily evaded the primitive weaponry and he flew close enough to the helicopter for his ship’s articulated claws to grab ahold of it.   With a powerful hydraulic yank, the helicopter split in two, spilling its pilot into the air before another parachute was deployed.
On the ground, the first five pilots were firing their rifles at Genghis’s ship with the same underwhelming accuracy.  Ankylo and Quackpot, coming out of their hiding spots, drew their attention away from Genghis, allowing him to land his ship and wait for the final flier to reach the surface.  
During his descent, the helicopter pilot un holstered his gun, firing on Genghis while shooting a long drawn-out, “Cobraaaa!”
Genghis scoffed, withdrew his Fossilizer pistol and fired at the parachuter, scoring a direct hit.  The pilot turned to stone, adding hundreds of pounds to the parachute and causing it to fail. The now statue plummeted to the earth and shattered into a pile of rubble.
As the surrendered pilots were escorted back to Genghis by Ankylo, the leader of the Tyrannos hissed, “Cobras have nothing on a Tyrannosaurus Rex!”
 Click here for Cobra Commander's respect post.  Click here for Genghis Rex's.

Let's be honest here - did anyone expect Cobra Commander to win?  Even with a number of his troops tagging along with him, he was hopelessly outgunned.  Cobra Commander himself is a liability, jumping right into battle without a plan, relying only on his over-inflated ego to win, which has never worked for him.  Genghis might be stupid, but she's shown to be a decent shot and okay in a fight.  He's got way more powerful weapons and vehicles as well.  I think that even if Cobra Commander had brought on the full might of his entire terrorist organization, he'd still have lost to the technologically superior and more ruthless Tyrannos.

The Winner
To see the winner of the last round - Hordak vs. Hun-Dred, click here.  And to see the rest of the Bad Guy Beatdown matches, click here.

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.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Wednesday Wrap-Up - 5/16/18

Old School Evil has officially been on the market just over two weeks and has garnered a bit of attention so far.  I've gotten a couple good reviews on Amazon and Goodreads - including a great one comparing the book very favorably to Ready Player One.  Sales have been sluggish, but I've got a little plan for it that I'll start next week.

I'm in talks to get an audiobook in production.  A voice actor in a lot of Youtube videos has offered to do it and it in the process (hopefully) of making an audition sample for me.  He's been looking into doing audiobooks lately and I've been hoping to get one made so it works out really well.  As soon as I get his sample and sign off on it, I'll be posting a link to his stuff.

Next Tuesday is a huge day for Old School Evil the blog - May 22nd is the 2nd anniversary of starting it, and I'm going to make my 200th post on that day.  I've got a huge plan for it, but will keep most of it to myself until then.  I will be honest, I'm extremely excited about it, so it's hard to keep it secret.  But it is less than a week away, so I'll hang on to it until then.

I've also finally gotten a picture up for my About Brian page on the blog, and created a profile for my Amazon and Goodreads author pages.  Feel free to check them out, and I'll be sharing them all this week as well on Twitter and Facebook.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Bad Guy Beatdown Round 13 - Hun-Dred

After watching the 1984 one-shot Robo Force: The Revenge of Nazgar, I started wondering if I made a mistake including him in this tournament.  It's going to be difficult for any enemy to build up a sort of threat level in a mini-series, but one episode is almost impossible.  Maybe if he got three episodes - the length of time Nemesis got in Robotix, he might have had a chance, but no, Hun-Dred was doomed from the start.

Does Hun-Dred have anything going for him?  Much like the rest of the Robot Force and Cult of Hun-Dred robots, he's capable of hovering around including over liquids (suck it Marty McFly), though he needs a ship to fly anything above a few inches off the ground. For weapons, he's got to face-blasters which are strong enough to slice through a couple huge stalactites, causing them to fall on the Robo Force and trap them in boiling bubblegum.  He also has interchangeable melee weapons, the pointy bits on his back, to use in his clawed hands.  One of them is a drill bit, I'm not sure what the other one is since it's never employed.

You might think these weapons are pretty weak and you'd be 100% right. While some of the other robots in the cartoons have lasers blowtorches on their hands, Hund-Dred is stuck just holding one of the clumsy, tiny weapons and charging his enemies.  When Hun-Dred stabs at his heroic counterpart Maxx Steel's shoulder, the drill bit he was using just disintegrates. It's a pretty meager effort and for that Hun-Dred gets the ultimate humiliation.

Considering a lot of shows like these are left at least a little open-ended, I'm surprised that they so completely killed Hun-Dred off.  And right after this, they blow up his resurrected leader, the titular Nazgar.  Like, they shoot the little throne Nazgar was hiding in and it explodes.  This show knew exactly what it was getting and decided to go all out and kill its two main villain within seconds of each other.  

This is hardly a villain that deserves to be in any tournament, but I did do a Villain Retrospect on him and he still does more than Dr. Claw or Emperor Dark.  Barely.