Episode 093: Just Put The Mask On And Shut Up

The_Bella_Twins_WrestleMania_31In this episode, the fellers begin to settle into the new reality of this world gone mad filled with personal upheaval and global sickness as they record their very first episode of 2020 and, boy howdy, is it a snazzy humdinger of an episode!

We start off discussing our various coping mechanisms as Fitz starts fondling little men made of plastic and reviving a long dormant segment about it, then he reveals an earth shattering discovery from the depths of his kidhood that warms the cockles of his adulthood.

Doom tries talking about Star Trek, but gets sidetracked bitching about the WWE Hall Of Fame, which leads to him bitching about a bunch of other Wrestling stuff, and then they ask YOU, the long suffering listeners, for your opinion on the future of The Nerd Blitz, so listen up and tell your friends!

URL: Episode 093: Just Put The Mask On And Shut Up
Direct Download: tnb093.mp3

Fitz’s Toy Chest #13: Snake Eyes

Welcome back everybody, I hope you’re ready to go deep deep DEEP into the nerdy waters because this week I’m pulling out one of the all time greatest figures ever made.

After touching on this character a little bit last time when we profiled Stalker, I felt it was only natural to follow that up with a full feature about my favorite Joe, Snake Eyes!

Snake Eyes
Company: Hasbro
Acquisition Year: 1982
Acquired via: Purchase (Venture)
Years In Possession: 38

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With just an Uzi, a satchel of explosives, and an all black outfit, Snake Eyes hit the pegs and became the most unlikely success ever. It is well known that Snake Eyes was never intended to become the complex, tortured badass that he would evolve into over the years. No, Hasbro created Snake Eyes as a complete throwaway character. He was an attempt to fill out the Joe ranks as cheaply as possible, which resulted in the all black paint scheme. Without having to paint tiny bits like belt buckles or backpack straps, they could produce this figure at a fraction of what the other more detailed figures cost.

But thanks to Larry Hama’s excellent characterization of Snake Eyes in the Marvel comic series and the intentionally omitted personal details on the figure’s file card, Hasbro failed at creating a throwaway character and succeeded beyond their wildest dreams in creating a character that could rival the likes of Wolverine in popularity.

I have to admit, as intriguing a character as Snake Eyes would become, his original figure was a snooze in my 9 year old opinion. He was certainly one of the last figures I bought. However, the more his character was fleshed out in the comics, the more intrigued I was by his backstory. What the toy lacked in color the comic more than made up for in characterization.

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From the killing fields of Vietnam to a Ninja clan in Japan and then on to being a member of the most elite fighting force the world has ever known, Snake Eyes is easily the most interesting character in all of the G.I. Joe pantheon.

This character supplied me with some of the most memorable and vivid scenes I would ever read in a comic book. Seeing the accident that disfigured him and left him unable to speak, the masterpiece that is G.I. Joe #21, watching him send his ally Kwinn’s body off in a funeral kayak in the arctic, and his epic battles with Storm Shadow.

In the comics, whenever Snake Eyes appeared in civilian clothes (which was rare) he would trade his black face mask for a different mask, a human mask made of rubber and a pair of sunglasses to try and pass as normal and hide his horrifically disfigured face. Such a small touch that gave this character so much humanity. He was almost a god in terms of ability and toughness, and yet you felt bad for him because he could never be just a truly normal person.

As for Snake Eyes the figure, this was the first place I had ever seen an Uzi sub machine gun. It looked so weird, so much different than the M-16 or M-60 models that the other characters came with. I didn’t even know how to pronounce the word. Was it Uzzy or Ooozie? Why was there a longer thinner piece coming out the bottom of the gun’s grip? (It’s the oversized magazine, dummy). In fact, I was convinced that the extra plastic on the bottom of the handle was a mistake and broke it off of the original uzi that came with this figure. D’oh!

The glasses molded onto this figure always made me wonder, how did his sunglasses stay on? It wasn’t until much later that I realized they were goggles, you can even see a wonderful little detail on the back of his head that shows the strap of the goggles coming out the mask and going back in. I assume so he can adjust the way they fit?

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Unfortunately as you can see, even an elite mystical ninja warrior is not immune from the dreaded broken thumb disease. For years this figure had the faintest of white lines on the base of that thumb, a telltale sign that it was about to come off. I was extra EXTRA mindful of that, but alas, sometime in the 90s it finally popped off.

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Snake Eyes has gone through many design changes over the years, receiving several costume changes/upgrades including what I consider the pinnacle of this character’s look in 1986, but this is where it all started. The red headed step child of the original Joe team who turned out to be the real star of the franchise. Funny how things like that work out.

That’s all for this week guys, hope you enjoyed it. Come back next time for more broken toys and mind numbing childhood anecdotes!

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Share this post on Twitter with the hashtag #TNBToyChest, and let us know what you think!

Boosting The Signal: A Look Back At Firefly

They say you never forget your first.
And for me, that first was Firefly.
The first Sci-Fi franchise I found all on my own little onesie, no influence from Family Guy doing a spoof, no slight urging from a friend, no podcast making me warm up to it over time.
Firefly was all me, and all mine.

I grew up watching Buffy, but I missed the show when it first aired because this was the era before the internet and in a time when I would see “From The Creator Of” and not know enough to care what that meant.
So, in more ways then one, I missed the boat.

Now, I distinctly remember the trailers for Serenity when it was still coming soon and thinking it looked so damn weird.
The image of that weird girl, River, with her ballet like twirling and slashing while holding those things that looked like battleaxes always stuck out as something strange and different…and, at the time, not for me in any way, shape, or form at all!

So cut to a few years later and the introduction of Blu-Ray Disc, the cutting edge, the next evolution of home video!
Pre-The Clone Wars, for me at least, walking through the home video section at Walmart and I see this weird lookin’ sci-fi movie cover with its striking looking woman, this intense looking dude, and that beautiful ship.
It only cost $10 or $15, so I took a shot.

Now, for those unfamiliar with Firefly/Serenity, this was a dumbass dipshit move as Serenity is basically the series finale of Firefly.
I don’t want to spoil too much for those of you that don’t know the series and movie, but there are key character deaths, the biggest questions are answered, and I’m pretty damn sure all the mysteries of the series are solved.
So, yes, I watched that first.
But I didn’t give any amount of a shit, I loved it!
The humor, the action, the cast, and most of all the ship itself.
That homey, fully realized, eye-catching, and perfect boat was, and remains to this day, to be one of the biggest selling points for me.

Now, after watching the movie, I definitely felt like I missed something somewhere.
Until I dove into the special features, I never knew Firefly existed beyond the off-handed Family Guy joke about all of the shows that FOX had cancelled.
Those few bonus features opened up a whole new world!
Not long after I found the series on DVD, quickly I watched it and the movie in order.

Recently, I rewatched all fourteen episodes and the movie again and I feel basically the same as I felt over a decade ago, the same as the Browncoats that have been there since the premiere back in 2002.
This was, and continues to be, a wonderfully original series in style, tone, and use of language that was cut down well before it ever got a chance to hit its heights.
But what we were left with still set a damn high bar that most shows still don’t get near.
Pretty much the entire cast has gone on to great success in other shows, some on FOX.

And the quality and cast aren’t the only lasting pieces of this show’s legacy, because this little red headed stepchild of a franchise has rippled through even the heaviest of heavy hitters.
For example, I don’t think a single person can look at Solo and The Mandalorian (both of which I completely and utterly love) and seriously say that Firefly didn’t influence them.
Solo even has the space train robbery for christsake!

Now, in the age of the ever vocal internet, fans have been outspoken enough to warrant multiple comic series and 4 novels, so far.
In Serenity, Mr. Universe said what has become a sort of rallying cry for Browncoats everywhere “You Can’t Stop The Signal”, and that is more than fitting.
But after rewatching the entire show, another quote feels even more appropriate “When ya can’t run no more, ya crawl.
And when ya can’t do that, ya find somebody to carry you.”
We may never get any more filmed content from this franchise, but I’m glad the legacy will be carried on through comics and novels.

Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her continued editorial assistance.

The Nerd Blitz Question Of The Week #89

Some times things on earth are a little cuckoo crazy nuts, so we look to the stars for some relief from all the wackadoodleness.
And sometimes (say 89 straight sometimes, for example) you look to The Nerd Blitz Question Of The Week for relief and some good ol nerd conversation.
Let’s all do that again, right now!

This week we’re going a slightly different route and setting up a weird scenario for you all to answer.
The scenario we’re asking about is: An Eccentric Billionaire Comes To You And Offers To Build You A House That Is A Full Scale Replica Of Any Space Ship In Fiction, What Ship Do You Pic And Guess?

Leave your answer down in the comments below or tweet it over to us on the Twitter @NerdBlitzPod or by using the hashtag #TNBQotW

Special thanks goes out to the good sir @SteBoost for creating our eye catchingly sexified QotW logo.

Daphne And Velma: The Vanishing Girl Review

Seemingly since the Scrappy era (more modernly with Get A Clue) there has been this weird notion to break off the gang into different pairings, for whatever reason.
More recently, there’s been an uptick in telling origin stories of the gang (The Mystery Begins, the incredibly cringe inducing Daphne & Velma movie, & the upcoming SCOOB!), to varying degrees of success.
So, how does this novel that combines those two very things fare?
Well, gang, it looks like we have a mystery to solve!

As always, this is your official ***SPOILER ALERT***

First and foremost, this book is earnest as hell.
This is most definitely not a story of 4 fun loving teens traveling the country solving mysteries with a big, goofy, loveable talking dog in tow.
This is the most serious treatment of the characters to date, and that’s both a good and bad thing.
Good because, like Mystery Incorporated, it gives me exactly what I always wanted to see from this franchise, a slightly less goofy and more serious series of mysteries.
The down side to all that earnestness being that the main attraction to the franchise, the aforementioned loveable and goofy talking dog, is declawed and dull down to almost being a footnote.
That’s right, gang, Scooby doesn’t talk at all, he’s just a normal dog.
Which works for this iteration, but does take away a big piece of the puzzle.

Let’s get this out of the way now so we can move onto the fun shit, my only major issue with this book/continuity would be the personalities and characterizations of the gang and their backgrounds.
For one, they all seem like rich, or formerly rich, kids with inattentive, dismissive dickhead parents.
But also, Shaggy throws the best parties in town, but really has no interest in them.
Fred is an aloof hippy dippy yoga lover.
The only ones that actually feel right are Daphne as a bit of a bratty child of divorce, whose mother is a multi-millionaire game designer, and Velma, in that she’s a lonely social outcast who feels like she’s probably the smartest person in any room she may enter…in the vein of what the incomparable Mindy Cohn was doing in Mystery Incorporated, just without the controlling psycho attitude.
Fred and Shaggy feel like they were dumbed down and swapped, for no real reason other then they just aren’t the focus of the story.
It’s a little frustrating, but through the comicbook “Multiverse” filter, I can deal with it.
Onto the good stuff!

The thing I enjoy the most is that this is clearly influenced by my absolute favorite Scooby series, Mystery Incorporated!
And it goes beyond just the town using the Crystal Cove name, the darkness and spooky edge to all of the mysterious goings on are just magnificent.
This version of Crystal Cove has its own founding curse that the town uses to wrangle in a tourist trade.
The curse of Crystal Cove is that generations before, every member of the town just up and disappeared without a trace.
Every year the town holds a festival to mark the day, and the ghosts of the missing still haunt the town to this day.

In my view, I think it’s pretty clear that author Josephine Ruby (a mysterious pseudonym for someone whom not much is known about, that nods to Scoob’s creation) loves Velma, because she’s the most fleshed out and faithful.
And bonus, unlike Mystery Inc, Velma is so damn likeable from start to finish that if you didn’t love her before, you probably will by the end.
Velma is that lonely kid that everybody fucked over and likes to push around, make eat shit until they need her and then they come a-callin’.
Daphne and Velma were once the best of friends, and it all changed once Velma saw something she wasn’t meant to see and told Daph, the reaction was less than ideal, and Daphne turned on her in a big bad way.
The plot forces them to put aside their differences for a common good, but the oldest wounds have the deepest scars.

To start wrapping up, I truly did love this book far more than I expected I ever would.
There is some of the anticipated “boys are trash & girls are perfect” type of tripe you get in these types of novels, but not overwhelmingly so.
This new continuity is familiar and interesting, Ruby is building her own world and it works well enough to keep me interested and welcoming future installments.
The cliffhanger left me wanting the next book now!
I so hope that these sell well, because this is the first step on the path to one of the last two pieces of Scooby I crave most: Serious, full length, Scooby novels!
I need somebody, potentially even Ruby herself, to write serious novels about the whole gang, in the same way Mystery Incorporated did, but in prose.
The best books ignite your imagination, and this did in so many ways.
Check it out, gang.

Let us what you think of this review in the comments below or share this post on Twitter with the Hashtag #TNBBookReview.

Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her continued editorial assistance.

TNB Commentaries 045: Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom

templeofdoomPlease turn off your cellphones and get ready to crack that whip, give the past the slip, step on a crack, break your momma’s back, cause some big bad problems are sure as hell about to come along in this action packed, exciting, and adventurous tale for the ages!

For our 45th Commentary, we travel back to within a sankara stones throw of 1984 for the second installment in this iconic franchise starring Harrison Ford, Kate Capshaw, Jonathan Ke Quan, & Amrish Puri in a trip to the deep jungles and dangerous mines of India.

We talk the latest developments in the world of Indiana Jones, for better or worse, why Silent Night sucks asshole ball juice, Billy Joel, why one of us may not like this movie as much as the other, and generational gaps, all while technologically failing to start the damn movie, so buckle up for another typical Nerd Blitz Commentarial ride!

URL: TNB Commentaries 045: Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom
Direct Download: tnbc-045-temple-of-doom.mp3

This has been a feature of TS-D/JA Productions and JJ2E Media 2019

Fitz’s Toy Chest #12: Stalker

Welcome back guys to another installment of Fitz’s Toy Chest. This time out we’re headed back to 1982 where a few pieces of plastic and an o-ring combined to make the ultimate soldier.

When Hasbro launched the G.I. Joe 3 3/4 line in 1982, they did so with 13 figures. If you look at those first 13 figures you can tell that one of their mandates must have been to try and make the team as diverse as possible which is something they continued to do throughout the Joes’ run in the 80s.

Sure the majority of the original team was still comprised of the usual array of white dudes, but Larry Hama made sure to include 3 minority characters right off the bat: badass female commando, a Hispanic heavy explosives soldier, and the subject of this week’s Toy Chest, a former gang warlord from Detroit turned green beret…Stalker.

Stalker
Company: Hasbro
Acquisition Year: 1982
Acquired via: Gift
Years In Possession: 38

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The G.I. Joe comic and the file cards all written by Larry Hama were my first introduction into the world of the military. It was the first place I heard the term “Grunt”, the first place I saw the word “Commando”, or heard about a “Geneva Convention”. It was also where I was introduced to the concept of a Green Beret.

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How I came into possession of this figure was that it was a surprise gift from my grandma. We were at her house one day and she said she had a present for me and she produced 2 G.I. Joe figures from a plastic shopping bag. She said pick the one you want, the other would go to my cousin the next time he came over. The two figures were Breaker and Stalker. I chose Stalker. Why? He was the most interesting looking to me. He didn’t look like the other Joes. Not only was he a different ethnicity than all the other characters, his paint scheme was strikingly unique as well.

Most of the original Joes all used the same couple of body molds and only differed in the paint schemes (obviously Scarlett being the exception). By this time I already had Rock N Roll and Clutch, both bearded white dudes like Breaker, but Stalker was something else entirely. From the camo paint scheme on his fatigues to the green beret on his head. I can remember thinking “What is up with that weird hat?”.

Also, his gun was pretty cool looking too.

Breaker’s military specialty was “Communications Officer”, BO-RING. Stalker’s was listed as “Ranger”. What the hell is a Ranger? I didn’t know but it sounded cool as hell.

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It was not long after I started reading the Joe books, maybe a year or 2, that I discovered the Black Eagles series of novels by John Lansing and learned a whole lot more about Vietnam (it was still a few years before Platoon would hit theaters and probably a decade before I would actually watch it). What drew me to those books initially was a image like this:

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Notice the green beret? I was immediately drawn to this cover by that beret. I knew what that was, that was what Stalker wore and I was instantly intrigued. Who knows, one of these Black Eagles book may show up as a Nerd Blitz Book Club entry….

Later in the Joe series, they delved more into Stalker’s service in Vietnam where it actually served with Hawk and Snake Eyes (before he was disfigured martial arts master). Those panels were the first images I remember seeing of a line of green fatigued soldiers in boonie hats wading through waist high grass, something of a cliche in Vietnam movies but at the time was brand new to me.

As for Stalker the action figure, unfortunately you can see that he suffered the same fate as an incredibly high number of those original 13 Joes, the infamous broken thumbs!

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I recently read in Mark Belamo’s fantastic G.I. Joe reference book that the incredibly brittle thumbs on these figures was due to the composition of the plastic they used. It was found to be too brittle and the next assortment of figures would be the first with a reformulated plastic that was slightly more pliable to solve the broken thumb problem. Sadly, almost all of my originally Joe’s are missing at least 1 thumb. I was normally very careful with my toys even as a kid, but even I could not avoid this problem, much to my dismay.

Join me next week when I pull another gem from my bag of tricks! I promise that soon we’re going to diversify and change things up from the normal Star Wars/G.I. Joe/Transformers-fest that this feature has been up until now. What could that mean? What other vintage toy lines could I possibly have in the Toy Chest? You’ll find out soon enough!

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Share this post on Twitter with the hashtag #TNBToyChest, and let us know what you think!