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Journal Archives from August 2011
 
G.I. Joe - 30 for 30 - Hazard-Viper

Hasbro is celebrating the 30th anniversary of their 3 3/4" G.I. Joe line this year with their "30 for 30" selection of figures. It seems like only yesterday that we were avidly collecting the 25th anniversary line! Things are looking strong for this assortment, and it's exciting that they have even brought back some 12" offerings, as we saw at Toy Fair back in February.

Here we have the Hazard-Viper, a fan favorite that is sure to be hard to find. In fact, twitter indicated to me that the street date for this line might in fact be September 20th, which jives with the fact that Walmart didn't have these in their computer when I tried to buy them. It was only thanks to a friendly manager who pushed through the sale that I wasn't totally denied. As a result - we can all check out this great figure and his hazardous bio!


I feel as though I must have arrived at Walmart shortly after they put the figures on the pegs, but I was still unable to find Steel Brigade. Perhaps there is a collector clerk, but why leave the rest? Just another of those retail mysteries I suppose! I did pick up the rest of wave 1, which will appear on the Preserve in the next few days!




Posted by charlie on August 31st 2011, 08:55 PM
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eBay Watch - Rock Lords, UK Action

Rock Lords collectors will be well familiar with the rare repaints that brought up the tail end of the already poorly distributed Action Shock Rocks group. I certainly don't have a full set of the repaints here at the Preserve, and have even been approached to part with the ones that are in the header images of my poorly-populated Rock Lords page.

Today then we take a look at an eBay action from Harrow, Middlesex, United Kingdom (hruff hruff hruff!) featuring one of these very seldom seen repaints which did in fact get some distribution in the UK market as well.


There in the middle, between Crackpot and Brimstone, is the jaunty-colored, almost Transformers G2-esque, Dragon Stone. I rarely see this one appear, and it started at a delightfully reasonable price. I was in a Rock Lords mood today, so it seemed something you all might want to see as well!

Posted by charlie on August 30th 2011, 08:10 PM
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Battle Force 5 - Pull Back Racing Saber

Picking up where we left off last week, I suppose there's something wonderfully symmetrical about it yes? Well, sadly Zelix, which is always rare, was somehow not in attendance at the largely toy-hunter-free local Big Lots, but three out of four Pull Back Racers isn't bad. Therefore, we have the last of the set, the vehicle of team leader Vert Wheeler, Saber!


It would be neat if these 1:43 scale vehicles came with similarly small drivers, though I assume they would be a total choking hazard, not to mention immediately lost. "0." says Rosie the Cat. Indeed Rosie, indeed.
nbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbh
Posted by charlie on August 29th 2011, 04:28 PM
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Battle Force 5 - Pull Back Racing Water Slaughter

Let's glide into the weekend with another one of these later-wave, confusing, pull-back racers that turned up at Big Lots! Here is Water Slaughter, the weapon of choice by the bad guy Sever. I wonder if these even made it into regular retail outlets?


We also had a note from the G.I. Joe brand team at Hasbro today that the Q&A will be a little delayed. Maybe they can blame the hurricane?

Posted by charlie on August 26th 2011, 07:23 PM
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Battle Force 5 - Pull Back Racing Reverb

I've said before that one thing that this line did wrong, or at least a misstep, was the almost comically high number of scales, variations, and subtleties that it contained. Sure, maybe if I'd put more work into it, and if I had less lousy stores near where I live so I stood a chance of finding the full range of product, I could have made sense of it all. As it stands, I suspect I've barely even come to grips with half of the line.

Take for example the set of 4 "pull back racers" that turned up in the Big Lots score this week. I had to do a double-take to be sure they weren't the same 1:43 scale vehicles that I'd found previously, and at least judging from the only one that overlaps with my old set - Saber - they are indeed different. So - as we slowly and not-so-surely grow the checklist of this already vanished line, here is Pull Back Racing Reverb, in all of it's purple glory!


In an earlier post, I had been debating if I should watch any of the Battle Force 5 cartoon, or if that would corrupt my ability to enjoy the series. Preserve reader Ben chimed in that exactly that scenario had soured him on these sets that he was all set to add to his collection, so I'm even more reluctant to see it now. And this got me thinking.

It got me thinking about growing up. As I've gotten older, it's been interesting to see my perspective on age change. When I watch a movie it's easier for me to relate to the 'grown ups' and their problems. When I see parents, of which I am still not one, I see them as peers, at least chronologically, and have an eerie, unexpected affinity with the adult world that snuck up on me in the night, surely. Therefore, when I watch contemporary cartoons, I'm struck by the 'young' feeling that everything has. Most of the protagonists have gotten younger over the years, it seems, and 'adults' are often relegated to a humor, authority, or support capacity. And that's a funny thing...

I've been comparing this line to M.A.S.K. - and you know what? That show had grown men and women duking it out with some serious hardware. You get the same thing from G.I. Joe, to be sure. While going to the grocery store may make me feel like I'm basically as old or on par with the other weary shoppers, when I watch one of these old cartoons, those character still seem grown up to me. Now - arm chair psychologists rejoice, since I'm sure this has something to do with how I was a kid when I first came to know those characters, but I feel such a conclusion is an oversimplification. I think it is not a stretch to claim that leading character depictions in children's entertainment have grown closer in age to them, and I think it's too bad to have moved away from the archetype of a strong, capable adult which was the standard 25 years ago.

Posted by charlie on August 25th 2011, 09:12 PM
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Battle Force 5 - Water Slaughter

It turns out that my flaky brain betrayed me once again, and the 1:24 scale Buster Tank and Saber vehicles that I scored at Big Lots were not, in fact, new versions of these vehicles but exactly the same as the ones I already have, which are even featured right here at the Preserve! I guess it's been a year or so since I last checked them out, but that's a flimsy excuse at best.

However, while also not a new vehicle, I had not previously been able to find the Water Slaughter vehicle with the Sever figure, until now!


I'm a huge fan of the '80s-esque disc firing, and the shark man figure looks pretty great. When you combine all that with the $6 pricetag at Big Lots it's truly absurd - definitely worth checking out!
Posted by charlie on August 24th 2011, 09:30 PM
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Battle Force 5 - Big Lots Style

We're no stranger to the fantastic relationship that hit-or-miss bulk clearance outlet Big Lots has had with Mattel's Battle Force 5 line for over a year now. They have been turning up piles of the product when it was all but vanished from main line retailers. You may recall that I fell for this line when it seemed to be channeling M.A.S.K. in some important ways, and I've kept that passion alive by carefully never watching a single second of the cartoon. Maybe it's good? Not sure. But, I may be about to find out!


You see, along with what appears to be an entire new wave of vehicles in the various scales under the 'Battle Action' gimmick, there was also a DVD-pack with 2 mini vehicles included. It apparently contains Episode 1 of the cartoon. So - do I do it? Do I risk not liking this line anymore? Maybe I'll like it better still! Only one way to find out....and these new sets will be featured on the Preserve in greater detail starting this week.
Posted by charlie on August 23rd 2011, 12:30 PM
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Matty Collector - Down to the Wire!

Consider this a very final warning, for anyone who may still be on the fence for the 2012 subscriptions over at mattycollector.com

According to their charmingly self-contradictory and inconsistent website, the subs finally close at 11:59 PST - which gives those of us on the East Coast another few hours to debate and hem and haw.

Really and truly, though, $140 for the Ghostbusters collection, split over a year, really isn't much. Same can be said for the Voltron sub, even at $290 for the year (plus Sven!). You get a lot for each sub, it's spread out pretty painlessly, and it's a low price to pay for a fun surprise in your mailbox every now and then! So - if you're still debating, get out your card, and support a company who was brave enough to try a direct-to-consumer sales channel, which hasn't been perfect, but has produced a lot of great figures and a lot of great conversation.



Posted by charlie on August 22nd 2011, 09:41 PM
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Stern to Make Transformers Pinball

There is only one company left who manufactures pinball machines, Stern Pinball, having stood the test of time and otherwise gobbled up the failing competitors over the years - a very Hasbro-esque thing to do. I suppose it was only a matter of time before the mega-live-action-Transformers franchise drew their attention - it seems a pretty natural fit after all, and quite cooler than a Family Guy, Avatar or Shrek pin which have been some of their recent titles. I just hope they have Cullen doing the in-game audio! Here is their high-production value 'trailer' for the new game.



Posted by charlie on August 21st 2011, 07:19 AM
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Ghostbusters Behind the Scenes Photo - Gozer and Ray

These days, it seems that along with making a movie you also have to make three or four 'making of' documentaries, and fill several terabyte drives with 'exclusive behind the scenes' photos and video. All of this material is then quickly boiled down, compiled, and reshaped into myriad extras on the DVD release (funny...sounds old fashioned to say 'DVD release' now) and is available to the buying public shortly after the movie is out of theaters.

Back in the day, though, you got your movie and you were glad for it. That makes it even more exciting and rare when something like the Making the Shining documentary surfaces, or this simply wonderful photo of Gozer and Ray Stantz appears from the other side.


Bustin' apparently makes Aykroyd feel good! I like that image so much, I'm going to sail into the weekend on it's breeze. Perhaps this helps to inform the Friday movie selection of some faithful Preserve readers - I suspect it has done so for me. (Thanks to lookatthisfrakkinggeekster for the tip.)

Posted by charlie on August 19th 2011, 08:27 AM
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The Lure of Half Price

Today I popped over to a local coffee/burrito/scone shop near my office for a little lunch, and as is more and more often the case was struck with a thought-nado from observing my surroundings. I guess I blame the consistent 4 hours of sleep.

You see, this shop used to have the 'slightly old' muffins and cookies, with a little star sticker on them, at the oh-so-nice-afford-more-toys half price mark. I'm not a man who needs his pastry baked the day of, so seeing stars is always one of my goals at this place. Lately, the stars have been hard to come by and I had to wonder where oh where all the stale food had gone? Well, today I found a starry scone, but it was the saddest thing ever - not even with a plate, in front of the happy 'HALF PRICE' card which also has little stars. Something about it reminded me of a trip to the SPCA, and all the little kittens who just want a home.


I suppose this explains both why I have 4 cats, and why I have trouble cleaning out some storage areas - the immediate and considerable anthropomorphizing of everything from a stuffed animal to a chocolate chip scone. Well, like the cats, I gave this lonely scone a good home (no, I do not eat my cats).

So all this got me to thinking of some things that Adam at 16bit.com has been posting recently about his sizable purchases of ultra-double-clearance Gormiti figures. I've been tempted by these as well, given their apparently spiritual connection to Battle Beasts of yore, and Diamond Select's obvious contempt of the series. I realized how sad I find things like the 75% off aisle at Target, when the products that got picked last for kick ball have no way to hide their poor sales numbers anymore, and are there, red tags blazing, still not going home with anyone. It's made even more poignant after getting into the Toy Fair rotation, where I've seen many of these figures (like the 2011 Zhu Zhu hamsters) before they even came out, and spoke to the companies behind them and their hopes for that retail year.

I think it comes down to an investigation of the levels of significance which we assign to the tangibles of our day, and our lives. Certainly we all do so to varying degrees, with varying success, and to varying things, though few among us do not have that 'favorite thing' that we'd not want to lose. Maybe at the heart of this thought experiment is a greater truth about marketing and successful business, and how a manufacturer who can best tap into this seeming human propensity will rise above the fray - as I think often is the case with the 'toy of the year', whatever it may be this time around. Or - perhaps - I'm just working out my uncertainty over my relationship with the consuming world, and how that may change, via necessity and perspective, with the passage of time.

Posted by charlie on August 18th 2011, 11:40 AM
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Metal Gear Solid 2 - The Orange Box

A lot was made of the Orange Box set of games from 2007 by Valve, featuring the smash hit Portal. Well, I posit that there was a still greater Orange Box, from back in 2001, in none other than Metal Gear Solid 2. Yes, that's right, I mean the literal Orange Box that Snake uses as an amazing disguise.


A friend is visiting from far away lands, and has reminded me this evening just how great this game is, and most notably the Orange Box. I like to think that the Valve guys were fans, and it's no accident that their later-day release played some verbal hopscotch with Plissken and company.

Posted by charlie on August 17th 2011, 10:33 PM
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Voltron Subscription - Exclusive Sven Figure

One of the things that is drawing me to the MattyCollector.com Voltron subscription, aside from the awesome promise of a 23" Voltron, is the exclusive Sven figure. What a great character he was in the early animated series, and was all too soon sent to Planet Ebb for "medical treatment" after his fight with the witch, Haggar. Or, as shown in the Japanese Go Lion material, where I believe his nickname was "Quiet", killed dead and mourned by the Voltron Force. Pretty hard core, right? Yeah, I always thought so, and the cool folks at Mattel have finally, after all these years, made a figure for him. Only way to get it though is the subscription. That's quite a brass ring, and I have to at least make sure everyone knows about it, before the subs are no longer on sale, after August 22nd. Go check it out!



Posted by charlie on August 16th 2011, 08:44 PM
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Colbert and Parry vs. Perry

First - this is not a political post!

Ok, now that we got that out of the way - there has been confusion over my last name for my entire time on this planet, with everyone from telemarketers to bank tellers trying to spell it 'Perry' rather than 'Parry'. I guess the 'e' version turns up more often here in the U.S., though I think back in the motherland of Wales or thereabouts, my spelling is seen as more traditional. I suspect that my now 11-year-old decision to name this site after my last name probably doesn't help in the old search rankings.

Until now!

Last week, perfectly coiffed funny-man and party-bending humorsmith Steven Colbert released the first ads for his new 'Super PAC' and, well, he's bringing the awesome back to 'Parry'...'Rick Parry' that is!



So thanks, Colbert, for talking up the best spelling of the name! Maybe the Preserve can get the Colbert Bump!

Posted by charlie on August 15th 2011, 07:07 AM
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eBay Watch: X-Men 6 Player Arcade

I have a small arcade collection here at the Preserve. However I always want, as with most things, and like a good American, more. A real grail piece in terms of sheer size, absurdity and showpiece quality is the 6 player X-Men unit from 1992. This beast would be the largest piece of built-wood in just about anyone's home, and features 2 TVs just to make it twice as heavy. Better still, there are still about 2 hours left on this eBay auction - so if you live near Rochester NY, go check it out!



Posted by charlie on August 12th 2011, 09:52 PM
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Matty Mattel Denies His Deadline - Thrice

There was a time, not that long ago, when we were all told by the mattycollector.com site that their 2012 subscriptions were going to be available from July 22nd until August 5th. We knew we all better hurry up and reserve as many as we could afford, because they would then only be available as part of the white-screen-of-death disaster that takes place monthly at their high-tech site.

Well, then the date slid to August 14th, and there was much speculation about what this meant for the subscription model - however a little historical research points out that they've pushed the date in the past as well. It still raised plenty of eyebrows, and one has to wonder if the date would have stayed put had the 'Club Infinite Earths' line been selling better - which will only be produced if a still-distant number of pre-registrations is met.

And now, today - not two hours ago, I see a 'tweet' by Matty that the sale is extended until August 22nd...but hurry up! There are only 11 days left! Don't wait! There seems, in fact, to be a great amount of disagreement over the dates on their very own site - you can often find all three deadlines represented on a single page even now. So, I'll do my part for this fiasco, and let you all know the new date, and encourage you to jump on board with one, two, three - heck make it all four - of their plans for 2012. Matty might just keep extending the date otherwise, and none of us wants that.



Posted by charlie on August 11th 2011, 08:08 PM
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Retail Report - Captain America Justice Jet

Of the huge raft of super hero and comic-property movies that charged into theaters this past summer, it seems that Captain America was the one least likely to be discussed in harsh, belittling terms. The other properties, notably Thor and Green Lantern, had toy lines that vied for shelf space along with Cap and his alternate decos, but perhaps on the strength of the mediocre reviews that both of those efforts received, their toy lines somewhat died on the vine. I am seeing a number of 'wave 2' Green Lantern basic figures, which after initial hotness are themselves starting to warm the pegs, but at least in my small town Thor never got past first base.

It was heartening, therefore, to actually see the new Captain America Justice Jet from wave 2 of the vehicles in that line turn up in-store today! I think that Big-H did a fine job with the accessories in this line and it would have been a shame for that one to end up on the cutting-room floor.



While it's had a stronger run than it's foes this summer, it was starting to look like the plug had been pulled on this line as well - hopes of seeing wave 3+ of the figures seem unfounded - but at least those pursuing a complete collection of vehicles from this line are now in luck. Those of you in larger cities, eBay would indicate that wave 3 is even showing up in limited locales, so snag it while you can! Of course, the holiday reset having just completed at Target puts as all in mind of the ever-accelerating pace of 'holiday shopping' and how it will, astonishingly, be upon us before we know it. Companies will need to keep the shelves full to bursting for that annual push, so it could just be that Captain America, the winning line from the winning summer movie, isn't done yet!

Posted by charlie on August 10th 2011, 09:29 PM
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Littlest Pet Shop - Walkables

Continuing the theme from yesterday, I couldn't resist shooting a little more video of a Littlest Pet Shop display this morning. It seems that Hasbro is up to their old tricks - when a brand has been popular for a few seasons, it must be time to load it down with tricks and gimmicks, and change the format all around. So seems to be the case with their LPS line - I didn't see a single 'basic' pack of figures on the pegs - rather they were all some sort of 'walking' or 'glittering' or other affectation. It's like the Targetmasters and Headmasters of the good old days, though those are mainly awesome via nostalgia - when you think about it, they probably could have left well enough alone! (Blasphemy!)

Anyway, here is a video of the new 'walkables' display. I'm particularly amused by it, because unlike most of the other 'moving' displays in the toy section, this one makes a hilarious grinding mechanical noise - sort of a cross between a leaf blower and a paper shredder - as it drags the pets around in an infinite circle. Check out the video, and then check your local stores to see all the bizarre new pets that big-H has cooked up for this season!



Posted by charlie on August 9th 2011, 09:20 PM
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New "Blythe [heart]'s Littlest PetShop" Sets

Blythe dolls were introduced in 1972 and were sold for only one year by Kenner. Not meeting with popular sentiment then, it took nearly three decades for them to resurface, at which point toy-society appeared ready for their distinctive look and super-cool pull string eye changing effect. Japan of course knew it was hip and latched onto the property immediately, with Takara quickly ramping up to monthly releases around 2001 which continue to present day! Since this is one of many many brands that Hasbro has in their back pocket, they made the cool decision to release Blythe dolls on mass market US shelves in their small-scale format, packaged along with the popular Littlest Pet Shop line about a year ago.

Well, while I thought that was a pretty cool and bold move on the part of big-H, making for some distinctive looking sets and no-doubt making the day of many doll collectors in the US, it seemed like sales of the sets weren't as brisk as one would hope. As such, I was deligthed to see an entire new wave of this line that has made it into the brand new Target Holiday Reset!


There appears to be a new Target-only sub-set called 'Black and White' which is quite artistic, as well as some new basic sets along the lines of the earlier releases. At Toy Fair we saw a most impressive airplane playset, which I keep hoping can somehow make it to market. Seems the holidays would indeed be a good time for such a release!

Amusing side note: the iPhone text auto-correct apparently does contain the word 'Blythe'

Posted by charlie on August 8th 2011, 08:04 AM
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Run For Your Life: 5K Zombie Obstacle Course

The clever folks over at Geekologie pointed me to this one, and I feel I must similarly share it with you. It's basically a 5k capture-the-flag race, with challenges, and with zombies in full makeup who are trying to get your flags before you reach the finish. Sounds like it could be fun, intense, and downright dangerous! Perfect! Learn more about them at their fantastic runforyourlives.com and check out their ape-hockey promotional video below.



Posted by charlie on August 5th 2011, 08:44 AM
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Local KMart Shutting Down

When I was a kid my dad and I had a Friday routine. We'd go to Flourtown, pick up a pizza from Antonio's, get some fruit danish from his old family friend who ran a bakery next door to the pizza place, and then hit up the KMart that served as the anchor of that suburban Philadelphia strip mall. That KMart store was probably single handedly responsible for more of the vintage Preserve collection than any other one store. Well, ok probably the Cheltenham Toys R Us - but it was definitely a close second.

Few things can be more visceral in the memory of a fat young toy nerd in Philly than the smell of hot pepperoni on a freshly made, disasterously unhealthy pizza, the promise of cinnamon buns and danish for breakfast the next day, jostling reassuringly on the seat in the back next to the pizza, and the excitement of seeing what new Go Bots, Transformers and GI Joe might be waiting to delight us at KMart. For that reason alone, I've always had a special place in my heart for the store, even though they do tend to be a little less well kept-up than one would hope in recent years.

Fast forward to modern times - where I've had a KMart in my small town since I moved here some 16 years ago. Recently, the evil Walmart sprang up right behind it, in the most unfair case of geographic retail warfare one could imagine for such a little 'burb as this. Over the years since, though, the KMart stayed strong, somehow making the sales to stick around, and providing a welcome retail toy outlet as well as consistent store exclusives with the big brands, year over year.

And so it was with not a small amount of sadness that I heard earlier this week that KMart was shutting down. I think everyone knew it was coming, or at least suspected as much, but it was sad to be confronted with the reality, especially given the geographic isolation and relative lack of options that this town boasts - now one further reduced. After shooting yesterday's Imaginext video, I figured it might be fun to record my last toy run to KMart, and I happened to be downtown today. The upstate New York version of the National Anthem was on the classic rock station, and the sky was blue and full of fluffy white clouds, so I started filming mid-drive. Sure it's rough, but it's one take and I sort of like it. Here is my last KMart toy run, complete with long intro.



Heartbreaking postscript - I learned from the cashier that they in fact did not choose to go out of business due to poor sales - rather their crooked landlord did not renew their lease after over 30 years. He claims to have another tenant lined up who will 'pay more' and I guess provide him with more security than he believed was likely with the Big K. Well, I think that sucks, and over 60 hard working people are losing their jobs, some of whom I learned had actually been there for those whole 30 years! Thanks for the toys, the tools, and the hard work over the years KMart. You went out before your time, and not because you went broke, so at least maybe the head may be held a little higher for it.
Posted by charlie on August 4th 2011, 08:07 PM
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imaginext DIno-Riders - Animated In-Store Display

As I've been saying repeatedly since February, I am most excited about the Dinosaurs (aka Dino-Riders) imaginext sub line that is just hitting stores now. To further raise the stakes, I just this morning discovered an animated shelf display, complete with volcano effects, loud roaring and what looks to be all of the figures in the set. This may well be the first raucous in-store display of recent years that I can get behind!


Posted by charlie on August 3rd 2011, 05:22 PM
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G.I. Joe Q&A #4 - Due Sunday

GI Joe logo

Consider this the reminder for both you and I alike that the next round of questions for the G.I. Joe brand team are due to them this coming Monday. That means you need to get them in to me by Sunday night! If you have anything on your mind related to Joe (that they will actually answer) then let me know.

We didn't get much news from the media circus that is San Diego Comic Con, so just about everything that was rumored is still un-answered. Of course, they also won't confirm or deny rumors, so I guess come up with clever questions about paint decos and the favorite ice cream flavor of the lead designer (maybe I'll ask that).

Posted by charlie on August 2nd 2011, 06:32 PM
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Locke & Key - NY Times #1 Best Seller

What started as an experiment into a new format of story telling for author Joe Hill several years ago, in collaboration with genius artist Gabriel Rodriguez, has reached one of the highest honors that can be bestowed upon a written work - by the mega popular media at least. Yes, that's right, Locke & Key is now the #1 New York Times Best Seller! How cool is that? The new issue is on stands now and they are receiving well deserved accolades from every corner of the geek world. It still delights me to be able to say "I met them when they weren't quite as big rockstars"!


Congrats to two guys who prove that skill, creativity and hard work can still, now and then, help you make it to the top!

Posted by charlie on August 1st 2011, 05:51 PM
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