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XBox 360 Gamercard

RichAlot's Gamercard

Beating the Odds of Intervertebral Disc Disease

Late last year, my beagle Brodie started showing signs of discomfort when walking. I took him to the vet immediately the next morning for a checkup and she found two discs in his spine had calcified, a condition known as Intervertebral disc disease or IVDD. I made an appointment for him to see a neurologist the following Monday, but over the weekend his prognosis worsened and by Saturday afternoon he was paralyzed in his hind legs. I rushed him to an emergency clinic (over 2 hours away) for surgery that night and doctors discovered he had lost deep pain sensation. His chances of walking again were not good—less than 30 percent. Regardless, I requested the neurologist proceed with surgery.

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He's Alive!

  • Mattel's DC Universe
  • Mattel's MOTUC
  • NECA

While I haven't been updating the blog very often, I have updated some pages behind the scenes, such as the about me and hire me pages. I've also updated my photos page with some wildlife photography I took along with some photo work I've done for Cool Toy Review.

Oh, Deer!

  • Deer in my Yard

I have a small area in my garage that I converted into a gym. My normal routine is to work out in the evening or on a rare occasion, in the morning. This week I've been working out in the afternoon, mostly because the Florida summer is winding down and it's not as hot in the middle of the day as it was a month or so ago. Don't get me wrong, it's still hot, just not as hot. Anyways, for the last two days when I've opened the garage door to start my workout, I've spotted this deer. She's a welcome sight, when compared to the moths, mosquitoes and deer flies I've become accustomed to. The click of my camera snapping photos prompted a few stares and occasional ear twitch, but besides that she was content in chomping away on the vegetation behind my house, as I photographed her.

This Time, Glen Davis Isn't the Big Baby

There's a bit of controversy in Orlando after Glen “Big Baby” Davis hit a game-winning, buzzer-beater to help the Boston Celtics even up their best-of-seven NBA playoff series with the Orlando Magic. The controversy isn't related to anything that happened on the court—at least not within the playing confines—but instead focuses on Davis' reaction after the shot.

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Sideshow's G.I. Joe Snake Eyes Review

  • Sideshow Collectibles G.I. Joe Snake-Eyes Figure
  • Sideshow Collectibles G.I. Joe Snake-Eyes Figure
  • Sideshow Collectibles G.I. Joe Snake-Eyes Figure

I have to admit, I was shocked when Sideshow Collectibles announced they had acquired the rights to produce 1/6-scale G.I. Joe figures. G.I. Joe has been a staple of Hasbro's portfolio for going on 5 decades and along with Mr. Potato Head helped transform a small-town, textile remnant company into one of the world's largest toy makers. So what would cause Hasbro to lease the rights to one of their most successful brands?

Hasbro's business plan relies on mass-production and volume sales. High-end collectible figures, such as the ones produced by Sideshow, don't fit that plan because they pose too great a risk when you factor in research and development, production time, price-point and mass appeal. By giving Sideshow a shot at the G.I. Joe license, Hasbro satisfies the demand for collector-quality merchandise without taking that risk; and they make some money while they're at it.

If it's collector quality you're after, Sideshow's first offering in the G.I. Joe line, Snake-Eyes, delivers. Fans of the G.I. Joe animated series will immediately recognize Snake-Eyes' signature black wears, balaclava with visor, bandolier and Mk-23 pistol. Those unfamiliar with the animated series should have no problem appreciating the layers of military-accurate, holsters, harnesses, arms and accessories that accentuate the stealthily silent character. The figure's level of meticulous detail, coupled with the vast number of accessories is unprecedented in any of Sideshow's previous offerings. Snake-Eyes is Sideshow's best figure to date; by far.

It's worth noting that Sideshow's G.I. Joe line focuses on the 1980s A Real American Hero series and not the 1960s-era kung-fu grip, Chia Pet hair-styled Joes. Sorry old-timers. Anyways...

Snake-Eyes' comes armed with a number of detailed knives, ninja swords and firearms, and his countless magazine rounds and grenades never lack a storage pouch or pocket. His equipment and arms arsenals are complimented by several pairs of interchangeable hands and boots that, when geared-up on Sideshow's newly-engineered Prometheus body, can achieve a broad array of life-like action poses. The Prometheus body is much improved since its debut on Sideshow's Indiana Jones figure, earlier this year. The loose limbs and frequently disconnecting joints have been corrected, though the body silhouette looks a tad on the thin side for Snake-Eyes, who is usually portrayed as being a bit more muscular.

Snake-Eyes' clothing and accessories are well made. The hooks, clips, belts and harnesses are to scale and function just as you'd expect them to, if not better. The stitching on and around the pockets and Velcro did have some exposed threads and the Velcro's stick is a little weak on some pouches. This tends to result in pouches that won't fully close or flop open when you move the figure, which isn't so much a detriment as it is a nuisance. My only real gripe—besides the omission of Snake-Eye's pet wolf Timber, which Sideshow addressed in their upcoming Recon at Waypoint 12 Environment—was fitting the ammo clips into the pockets of the light assault vest. The clips just didn't want to fit and I found the canvas-constructed material would tear if I tried to force the clips in without wiggling them around. I eventually got them in, but it was frustrating.

I give Sideshow Collectibles' 1/6-scale G.I. Joe Snake-Eyes figure a 9.5 out of 10. Yo Sideshow!

Sideshow's Idol Chamber Environment Review

  • Sideshow Collectibles Indiana Jones Idol Chamber Environment
  • Sideshow Collectibles Indiana Jones Idol Chamber Environment
  • Sideshow Collectibles Indiana Jones Idol Chamber Environment

Continuing my review of Sideshow Collectibles’ Dr. Rene Belloq, today I take a look at the Idol Chamber Environment, which is the unique piece included with the exclusive version of the figure.

During the priority pre-order for this set, I couldn’t help but think the version of Belloq packaged with the Idol Chamber Environment was an odd choice. I also couldn’t help but think “Holy shit! I can’t believe they're including an idol chamber as the exclusive,” but that’s beside the point. If you recall, at the beginning of Raiders, Belloq swipes the fertility idol from Indy wearing a safari-esque outfit with khaki shirt and pith helmet. Though that version of Belloq would have been a more obvious choice to include with the chamber, the good news is we get a Belloq figure, and khaki shits and pith helmets are a dime a dozen in the 1/6-scale world. In other words, it’ll be easy to make your own jungle Belloq, should you choose to.

Before I start my review, let me get this out of the way; the Idol Chamber Environment alone is worth the $140 you’re paying for the set. The chamber is made from polystone and comparatively shopping Sideshow’s site for other polystone pieces with similar dimensions, you’ll find this set sells for considerably less. And you get a Belloq in the deal. Anyone complaining about the price of this package has no justification in my book.

The idol pedestal is hollow, but still has some good weight to it. Both it and the additional floor piece have soft foam along the bottom to prevent them from moving or sliding, which is a nice touch. The carvings on the chamber aren’t completely screen-accurate, but they’re close enough. What really surprised me is the level of detail Sideshow was able to achieve with the vegetation on the pedestal. The moss and growth on the rock looks very realistic and has depth and dimension. It’s well done.

Now what’s an Idol Chamber Environment without an idol? Despite including a fertility idol with their Indy figure--who you’ll most likely be displaying in the chamber--Sideshow included a solid metal idol with the environment. The idol has a gold-metallic finish and is quite heavy for its small size. The metal idol holds detail better than its plastic counterpart, so you’ll most likely bag the idol included with Indy in favor of this one.

So what’s wrong with the Idol Chamber Environment? Not much. My only complaint is the use of an additional floor piece to extend the floor, instead of widening the floor on the base. I think it would have looked better as a complete, single piece. Besides that, I think it’s a great piece and a must have if you’re an Indy collector. I give Sideshow Collectible's 1/6 scale Idol Chamber Environment a 9 out of 10.

Sideshow's Dr. Rene Belloq Review

  • Sideshow Collectibles Dr. Rene Belloq
  • Sideshow Collectibles Dr. Rene Belloq
  • Sideshow Collectibles Dr. Rene Belloq
  • Sideshow Collectibles Dr. Rene Belloq

My Sideshow Collectibles' exclusive Dr. Rene Belloq 12-inch figure (with Idol Chamber Environment) arrived via UPS, yesterday. Like one of my previous UPS shipments, the box had a gratuitous gaping hole at the bottom, so my excitement was mixed with the concern that something had been damaged. Luckily, I avoided disaster yet again, but still contest that brown is an appropriate metaphor to describe UPS' service.

Out of the box, Belloq's suit is a little wrinkled so you may want to press his coat and pants. The material and tailoring are well done and the stitching is clean. His pants are...well they're hiked up high enough to raise anyone's voice a few octaves, so you'll most likely want to display him with the coat closed. The problem with that is the clasp used to button the coat shut was applied slightly higher than it should have been (curse the factory!), so it gives the coat the appearance of being tight. Moving the clasp should help alleviate the fat guy in a small jacket appearance.

I was a little disappointed by the quality of Belloq's tie. The tie is pinned into a knot with a piece of thread, instead of being tied or glued to achieve a realistic look. This looks cheap, but thankfully can be remedied with a bit of innovation as seen on the Sideshow Collectors forum. There's also some debate amongst diehards on the Sideshow Collectors forum regarding the color accuracy of Belloq's shirt. I'm going to let this one slide since there are film stills that depict both white and blue shirts, so it can go either way (though blue looks to be the correct version).

The Belloq figure is built on Sideshow's new Prometheus body, which debuted on their Raiders of the Lost Ark version of Indiana Jones, late last year. The body has since been improved with tighter joints and limbs that aren't as loose as they were on the majority of the Indy figures. In fact, the figure holds poses well and I haven't had an incident of 1/6 leprosy, where a joint on the figure falls out of the socket. Belloq's shoes connect directly to the legs with a socket so there are no feet included. This is no big, but there aren't any socks included. This means Sideshow either missed this detail or Dr. Belloq was not only scholarly, but had an incredibly forward-thinking fashion sense in wearing a linen suit with no socks (think Miami Vice).

Belloq's likeness to Paul Freeman isn't bad; at profile it looks like Freeman, but the resemblance isn't completely there from the front. The figure's brown hair should have been highlighted with a touch of gray, especially on the sides. The proper highlights would have helped improve the likeness. Thankfully, the hat covers enough of the hair to hide the fact that Sideshow wasn't accurate with their paint applications. The hat itself is made of a soft plastic and fits snugly over the sculpted hair. I wish Sideshow would have used the same approach with the hat on their Indy figure because it looks great and works well.

You have several options in accessorizing Belloq including a pocket watch, a bottle of liquor with his family label and a MP-40 machine gun. I was hoping the pocket watch would have a “glass” face, but it didn't achieve that level of detail. The watch chain is a vast improvement over the chain Sideshow used for the necklace on their Lord of the Rings Frodo because it doesn't clump and knot. The detail on the MP-40 is also an improvement on what has come to be expected from Sideshow. The gun is molded in several pieces that fit together, has a removable clip, a spring-loaded chamber, a strap, and a working, retractable stock. In addition to the open/gripping hands, Belloq includes a pair of interchangeable clinched fists.

I obviously have a few gripes with this figure, but I consider them to be more lapses in detail than serious flaws. The problem is that Sideshow isn't demonstrating the same level of detail that Hot Toys is putting in their 1/6-scale figures and collectors are starting to recognize it. I personally like this figure and believe a few corrections to the lack in detail I mentioned above would vastly improve it. As a result, I give Sideshow Collectible's 1/6 scale Dr. Rene Belloq a 6 out of 10, which is a shame because it really should have been an 8 or higher. The Exclusive Belloq is limited to 1000 pieces and retails for $139.99 and as I'm writing this, is still available for order on Sideshow's Web site.

Stay tuned, tomorrow, for my review of the accompanying Idol Chamber Environment.