Some of you might have heard about Dominoes Robotic Unit (DRU) which was announced publicly a few weeks ago.
And while we can all applaud that humans are now one step closer to never leaving their couches.
However, until that day robots are in grave danger. Just last year the poor defenseless Canadian HitchBot (http://www.hitchbot.me/) was destroyed near Philadelphia. This makes the design of DRU highly concerning. It lacks an apparent righting system. We all know that robot immobilization can negatively affect the fate of whole planets in addition to the operation in which the robot is currently engaged.
DRU’s defensive design is also questionable. There has been some mention of DRU recording the images of assailants. It’s not confirmed if even this minimal level of protection will be implemented. However I feel compelled to point out that this system will be insufficient in light of HitchBot’s dismembered while carrying no cargo. DRU primary function will be transportation of goods which will dramatically increase the likelihood of ‘freak angle grinder accidents.’ so DRU clearly needs and active defense system.
I recently viewed the Rogue One trailer and while it appears to be the best Star Wars movie since 422733600 (that’s May 1983 for those of you who aren’t on Unix time) there are 10 glaring issues with it.
0) Where is Wedge Antilles?
He’s either in or leading Rouge squadron since let’s say Always! Since Mon Mothma was apparently cloned for this movie you’d think they could clone Wedge, and no Wedge isn’t loosing his pasty complexion and acquiring rhythm since Riz Ahmed is playing someone called Bodhi Rook.
1) More importantly the editor is clearly anti droid. Droids are in less than 10 s of a 117 s trailer, And the shots are all terrible just look at this.
I realize Star Wars isn’t exactly the droid friendliest place in the universe, but this is ridiculous.
I’ve been on a bit of a symbiote kick lately here on the blog, but I’m finally moving on from Venom. The first Spider-Man action figures I ever got were a three pack of Spider-Man, Venom, and Carnage, branded with the Maximum Carnage video game graphics. I didn’t even know who Carnage was back when I got that figure, but over the years, I’ve learned more about the second symbiote and while he’s honestly not that great of a character, he’s still very popular and it’s no surprise that Carnage showed up in the Marvel Legends line.
Carnage was released in the Marvel Legends Amazing Spider-Man 2 line. Considering how few movie characters get released in “movie waves” anymore it’s not surprising to see him show up here. I do, however, have to roll my eyes at all the fans who thought that meant Carnage would be getting the movie treatment at some point. While I think he looks cool, Carnage is honestly a pretty crap character. He’s a serial killer obsessed with chaos who can kill people super effectively now that he’s got a symbiote. It’s not exactly the most movie-friendly character out there since he doesn’t really have a plan beyond killing everyone he can. If Marvel ever wanted to make an R-rated Spider-Man movie, he’d be great, but since they’re logically focused on PG-13 movies, Carnage isn’t going to show up any time soon, and that’s fine. The Marvel Legends Carnage uses the base body they’ve used a lot over the years, and that’s unfortunately a problem for me. Under the symbiote, Cletus Kasady was a pretty thin guy. Yeah, the Carnage symbiote bulked him up, but this is way too big a body for Carnage. I wish the wirier new Spider-Man body had been around at this point because that would be the perfect base for Carnage as well. Since this is the first time I’ve reviewed a figure based around this body, I’ll discuss the articulation a little more in depth. Carnage has hinged ankles, swivels at the mid-shin and just below the hip, the standard ball-and-socket hip joint, a waist swivel, an ab crunch, ball joints at the shoulders, bicep swivels, double-hinged elbows, hinges and swivels at the wrists, and a hinge and ball joint in his neck. This makes Carnage quite poseable and everything moves quite well. Despite being built around the standard Marvel Legends body, Carnage gets a surprisingly large number of new pieces. Both this lower legs and lower arms are new pieces because there are ports that allow Hasbro to plug tendrils into. No other figure before Carnage had something like this, so I think they originated with Carnage. Carnage also gets new hands with large, knife-like fingers. This fits Carnage quite well because that’s how he spends most of his time. Unlike Venom, Carnage is always ready to kill and his symbiote reflects that. Up top, Carnage also has a new head and this is a great piece. Carnage’s mouth has always been a bit weird. Originally, when Carnage transformed in the comics, the pink of the symbiote’s mouth actually covered Cletus’ face. Over the years, that’s evolved more into an actual mouth with pink inside. The Marvel Legends version opts for the second design and as such, Carnage’s head sculpt is actually two pieces. The lower jaw is a separate piece, but it’s not poseable. However, doing it this way adds some depth to the sculpt and makes Carnage look like he’s got an evil smile. Considering how much he loves killing, I think that’s a great call. The head sculpt is also where most of the actual sculpting is done. His eyes are slightly recessed and that’s literally the only sculpted detailing on the body. Carnage may be a simple figure, but the simplicity serves it well and makes for a great version of the symbiotic serial killer.
Carnage is mostly red, and with a name like Carnage, that’s not surprising. Add in the fact that in the modern comics, the Carnage symbiote is now literally part of Cletus’ blood, and the red everywhere makes sense. Carnage is molded entirely out of red plastic, yet there’s enough depth in the design that he doesn’t look plastic-y. Black swirls are painted over the red. In the comics, they’re kind of used to show the chaotic nature of the character. In fact, in the original discussions about the character, Marvel’s editors wanted Carnage’s patterns to look entirely different in every panel of the comics he appeared in. Mercifully, cooler heads prevailed and while the black swirls aren’t always consistent, the black is usually in the same spots. The black is well done throughout the body, though the paint work on the head is a little weak. There’s a bit of black slop on the eyes and a bit of white undercoverage as well. While the eyes are a bit weak, I do like the pearlescent white used. It just looks a little more sinister than the pure white that’s often used for Carnage. There is a pretty noticeable paint flaw on my Carnage’s right eye. Normally, that would be a deal-breaker, but Carnage was such a popular figure that I only ever saw him once on the pegs, so I figured I’d better buy him. Carnage was released labeled “Spawns of the Symbiote.” Marvel has started doing this thing where, to sell more figures, some characters are released under generic names so they can swap in a different figure later in the run. In this case, Carnage was released first but then down the road, Hasbro released a version of Carnage’s spawn, Toxin. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the cool, original version of Toxin but the crazier, Venom-like version. Carnage definitely moved a lot better than Toxin, so it was out of necessity that I bought a slightly-flawed version of the figure.
Carnage is another accessorized Marvel Legends figure, though it’s not much considering what they could have done. Carnage is known for forming wicked weapons like axes and huge blades with his symbiote that take the place of his hands. Marvel Legends has dabbled in swappable hands before, but unfortunately, they didn’t do that with Carnage. The bladed fingers are nice, don’t get me wrong, but I’d love to have seen an axe hand like my vintage Carnage figure had. He does, however, get a batch of tendrils that plug into has back. That works well for Carnage because he’s traditionally drawn with a lot of tendrils coming off his body. It’s another way to quickly differentiate Carnage’s silhouette from Venom’s when drawing him. The tendrils are made of soft plastic and plug securely into his back. They really do add a lot to the figure, but it still would have been nice to see some sort of symbiote weapon for Carnage.
Many people consider Carnage to be a character defined by 90s excess. Basically, he was created to be a more extreme version of Venom. However, just because the character’s origins and the character itself aren’t that great, that doesn’t mean it’s not a cool looking character. Sometimes Spider-Man doesn’t need to fight someone that has plans of world domination. Sometimes he just needs someone to flatten and Carnage fits the bill well. Yes, the symbiote makes him more formidable, but at his core, he’s just a souped-up punk with a hard-on for killing. I still disagree with many fans that the symbiotes need to show up in the Spider-Man movies eventually, but I can’t disagree that Carnage, when used properly, can be a fun character. I have strong ties to Carnage because of my first Spider-Man action figure purchase ever and being a comic child of the 90s, I definitely remember Maximum Carnage. At the end of the day, Carnage is a character that sells action figures, so it makes sense for Hasbro to make him and it’s a solid figure of a less-than-impressive Marvel character.
I’m a bit usual as an action figure collector. While most of my collection is focused on the G.I. Joe brand, I dabble in a lot of other properties when there’s something I think that looks cool. Not a lot of collectors do that, but I think a cool figure is a cool figure, so who cares if it doesn’t fit with the bulk of my collection. However, the one line I’ve avoided dabbling in was Art Asylum’s Minimates. It’s not because I don’t like them, but honestly, it’s because I fear they’ll be my next line I’ll get into whole hog and I don’t know if my budget can handle that. Unfortunately, Guardians of the Galaxy led me to break my Minimate embargo with a cool three pack of Drax, Groot, and Rocket Raccoon. Thankfully, this hasn’t led me towards too many more Minimate purchases, but now that I’ve broken the seal on Minimates, who knows where that will lead me.
The overall Minimate design is pretty simple, though there’s not an example of the standard Minimate in this particular set. The standard Minimate design is as follows: a cylindrical head, a square torso piece, arms (with ball joints at the shoulders, hinges at the elbows and swivels) with c-grip hands, a crotch piece, legs and small feet. Save a few special circumstances, all the Minimate’s details are provided by paint work. They’re a surprisingly fun format for characters and the characters from Guardians of the Galaxy translate well to this format.
Drax is the closest to the standard Minimate we get in this set. He uses the basic body, but gets a chest cap to bulk him up and slightly larger feet to give him some extra height. The bulked up look works perfectly for Drax. Like all Minimates, the paint work does the heavy lifting and this is an impressive figure. Drax has incredibly detailed tattoos on his upper body in the movie and this figure has them as well. The tampo work is extremely crisp. They could be a little clearer, but you can still make out the three skulls on his back and that’s what’s important. Drax’s green skin is a bit darker than I’d prefer. I think it should be just a little more vibrant, but that’s just me. Drax’s pants are black, with added detail done in gray. The belt is designed to look like studded leather and the gray lines on the pants stand out well and add depth to the overall look of his pants. The boots do have laces molded into them, but that’s the extent of molded details on Drax. Art Asylum is pretty good about finding accessories for their Minimates, and Drax’s are a no brainer. Drax gets a pair of new knives that look like the curved blades he used extensively in the movie. The blades fit decently in his hands, though I do wish the grip were a tad tighter. They do tend to fall out pretty easily when bumped. The knives are molded out of black plastic and have silver paint applications for the blades. The detail work on the knives is quite impressive as you can still see the patterns in the blades with the silver paint over them. Not all lines can paint something that small and not mute the details in the process. Drax is a fairly simple design, but he was that way in the movie too, and simplicity isn’t always a bad thing. It also helps that Minimates themselves are a fairly simple medium, so that means Drax’s look transfers especially well to the Minimate line.
Going the other way, Groot is a rather complicated Minimate. Groot still has the basic Minimate torso and legs, but it looks like he has slightly longer arms, tree-like hands and feet, a taller crotch piece, and a unique head with tree bits coming off the top of a standard cylinder. This gives Groot a lot of extra height and that’s perfect since he spends so much of the movie taller than everyone else. Like Drax, Groot’s facial features translate well to the simplified Minimate aesthetic, though I don’t think it’s quite as good as Drax. The paint work is very simple compared to Drax. Groot is molded entirely from tan plastic with black lines placed over to give Groot some anatomy and tree bark. There are some green vines and flecks throughout, but the green is applied somewhat inconsistently. There are some spots on the torso piece that look like the green should continue down to the taller crotch piece, but they don’t. The feet are also a little strange because I have yet to find a way to position where both feet sit level on the ground. It doesn’t make Groot unstable, but it’s a little odd that they aren’t designed to sit flush with the ground. Unlike Drax, Groot doesn’t really come with an accessory, but it’s Groot. It’s not like he was known for having a crazy gun or something. I’ll admit, I would have loved to have seen a Minimate version of the potted Groot but it would have been pretty hard to make that in scale with other Minimates.
Since there’s an open slot because Groot has no accessories, the folks at Art Asylum wisely decided to make a version of Rocket Raccoon and include him here with his arboreal best friend. Rocket Raccoon is an unarticulated minifigure, but Art Asylum made sure he still looks like a Minimate and that was a great call. That means he fits in well with everyone else. In fact, when I first got this set, the arm joints looked so realistic, I wasn’t totally sure whether he was poseable until I got him out of the package. Rocket’s figure is designed to look like the prison gear he wore for a significant part of the movie, and I think that’s where the gun also came from. Despite his small size, he’s very well
detailed, with a furry texture on his exposed body. The tail is vital to balancing him so he can stand, though I have found you can sort of get Rocket to ride Groot like he did in the movie. I’m not sure if that was an intentional design choice or not, but it’s pretty cool nonetheless. Rocket is a necessary addition to the set and really makes it worth your money since you’re essentially getting three figures for the price of two.
Overall, my first experience with Minimates was a positive one and it was nice to finally be able to get some sort of Rocket and Groot merchandise. I barely saw anything in the scale I prefer to collect, so jumping over to Minimates was a no-brainer. It’s a fun little one-off addition to my collection and honestly, it’s got a lot of great appeal to someone my age. The smaller accessories might be a drawback for a young Marvel fan, but even then, there’s still a lot of fun to be had. The price is decent and Groot and Rocket look like they might integrate pretty well with the Guardians of the Galaxy Legos as well. Even if they don’t, though, they’re still fun pieces. While Rocket and Groot are kind of the stars to me, Drax is just as good and I’ve really grown to like Drax a lot since the movie came out so I’m kind of glad these three main characters were all packaged together.
Much like the last entry on the list of scoundrels, thanks to the Disney buy-out, this particular Star Wars character doesn’t exist anymore, but I don’t care. Heir to the Empire was the first Star Wars novel I read, and Talon Karrde played a big role in the Thrawn trilogy and he definitely made an impression on me when I first met him there. Timothy Zahn created some great characters during the time he wrote in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, and in my opinion, Talon Karrde was probably his best.
Though he first appeared in a book set after the fall of the Empire, Talon Karrde’s backstory stretches back to the pre-Rebellion days. Talon Karrde was basically a scoundrel since birth. He first started working for a crime boss named Jorj Car’das and became one of his go-to smugglers and information brokers. Early in his career, while fleeing from Imperial pursuit, Karrde blindly jumped into hyperspace and when his ship reverted back to real space, he found himself staring down a fleet of old Dreadnaught-class cruisers. Thinking he was toast, Karrde immediately jumped away again. Analyzing the data after he reached safety, Karrde realized he had actually found the legendary Katana fleet, a fleet of Dreadnaughts that were designed modified to be run with a fraction of the necessary crew that disappeared after the lead ship’s computer malfunctioned and had the entire fleet jump into hyperspace while unmanned. Karrde kept this information a secret for many years because he knew it was worth money, but he didn’t have the resources to exploit it at that time in his career. It would be the first of many times Talon Karrde realized that sometimes the right information can be more useful than the biggest blaster. Karrde worked for Car’das for many years until Car’das mysteriously disappeared with his entire cache of information. This lead to a power struggle within Car’das’s organization that could have turned bloody had Karrde, as one of Car’das’s most trusted lieutenants, made the offer of splitting Car’das’s organization only to take it all over himself in a bloodless coup. Though the organization was not as large as the Hutts’ cartel or Black Sun, Karrde’s reputation as an honest and trustworthy scoundrel meant that doors were open to him that weren’t open to these more ruthless organizations. During the Galactic Civil War, Karrde’s organization remained neutral, aiding whichever side could pay him. Jabba’s death opened up the galactic underworld and Karrde recruited quite a few members of Jabba’s inner circle and expanded his organization. It was at this time he moved his base of operations to Myrkr, which is where we first met him in Heir to the Empire. Karrde remained very hands-on in the underworld despite being a major player. His hands-on approach led him to cross paths with Mara Jade while investigating a rival crime lord’s operation. Karrde had hoped to take it over, but once he realized that the crime lord’s safari business was engaged in hunting sentient beings and was being used as a cover to illegally extract resources from the planet, Karrde decided to act to take the operation down. It was at this point Karrde first met the woman who would become his most trusted lieutenant, Mara Jade.
A few months after meeting Mara Jade, Karrde decided to make her his second in command, but at around the same time, Karrde’s organization drew the attention of Grand Admiral Thrawn. Thrawn went to Myrkr to harvest a creature native to the planet called ysalamiri. These creatures could naturally suppress the Force within a few meters of it. Karrde aided Thrawn in safely removing the delicate creatures from the planet and felt that something was up and began carrying the creatures in his ship as well. Despite assisting Thrawn in this instance, though, he was still very reluctant to get involved with either the Empire or the New Republic and continually acted in a way that kept him neutral in the conflict. However, when Luke Skywalker came into Thrawn’s hands, his neutrality soon came to an end. Karrde didn’t want to turn Skywalker over to Thrawn for fear the New Republic finding out but he also couldn’t let Skywalker go because that would surely get back to Thrawn and that would be the end of any peaceful relationship he had with the remnants of the Empire. While Skywalker was in Karrde’s possession, Han Solo and Lando Calrissian gained an audience with him to try and bring Karrde’s organization into the New Republic, but once again, he refused. Unfortunately, while Solo and Calrissian were on their mission, Thrawn returned again with another job for Karrde. The chaos caused by trying to hide Solo and Calrissian from Thrawn and Skywalker from both parties afforded Skywalker a chance to escape. Skywalker’s escape and subsequent rescue by Han made it clear to Thrawn that Karrde had been working with the New Republic and Karrde knew he needed to go on the run now that he’d made an enemy of the Empire.
Karrde was forced to go on the run, though he did have the perfect bargaining chip to buy himself out of trouble with Thrawn—the location of the Katana fleet. Thrawn came to Myrkr to get Karrde’s assistance in finding large warships and no one but Karrde knew the location of this fleet of over 100 Dreadnaughts. Despite Mara Jade’s counsel to sell Thrawn the information, though, Karrde refused because he knew that selling that information would only buy him out of problems in the short term. He believed the New Republic would outlast Thrawn’s attacks even if the Empire got the Katana fleet and he did not want to make an enemy of what would likely be the next galactic government. Mara Jade, acting on her own, sold Thrawn the location of the Katana fleet but was captured after doing so. Thrawn attempted to use Jade as a bargaining chip with Karrde and captured him when he came to retrieve her. This ambush was enough to turn Karrde against the Empire. Karrde was subsequently rescued by Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade and then attempted to sell the location of the Katana fleet to the New Republic. Several high-ranking politicians, most notably a Bothan named Borsk Fey’lya, distrusted Karrde and used bureaucratic red tape to slow down the deal. Karrde convinced Leia Organa Solo to trust him and the two launched a secret mission ahead of Fey’lya’s own group to prevent Fey’lya from getting control of the Katana fleet by crewing them with New Republic officers loyal to him. Karrde also used his resources to exonerate Admiral Ackbar, who was currently being held on charges of treason partly orchestrated by Fey’lya. The New Republic and Empire arrived at the Katana fleet’s location at almost the same time. Fey’lya ordered the New Republic to abandon the fleet and leave the soldiers already on the ships to die. However, Karrde, along with Leia Organa Solo, managed to turn Fey’lya’s soldiers against him when they broadcast out his statement that he didn’t care about the soldiers who supported him and that they were pawns he could sacrifice for his own political ambitions. Not only did this turn the tide of the battle, but it severely weakened Fey’lya’s political strength for many years, protecting Karrde from the Bothan’s retribution. Karrde being Karrde, he continued to remain neutral after this battle, though he would continue to assist the New Republic in bringing down Thrawn by using his resources to follow the money trail and find Thrawn’s secret cloning facility.
Though not officially working with the New Republic in any capacity, Karrde helped create Smugglers’ Alliance. Smugglers are a notoriously shifty bunch, but Karrde managed to bring a large group of smugglers together for a time to work for the New Republic. However, even when working for the New Republic, not everything was on the up and up. To pay his smugglers, he had his tech hack into New Republic files to pay them. The Smugglers’ Alliance was a boon to the New Republic and though Karrde never acted directly for them, his involvement gave it the legitimacy in the underworld community for it to work.
Several years after the fall of Thrawn, Karrde’s notoriety as an information broker would benefit the New Republic once again. Grand Admiral Thrawn apparently returned from the dead and released damning information about the Bothans. According to a document in his possession, Bothans assisted Emperor Palpatine in committing genocide against the Caamasi people. The Caamasi were proponents of non-violent resistance to the Empire and the people of Caamas were all but wiped out when the planet’s shields mysteriously failed as the Empire arrived to bring them in line. With the shields down, Star Destroyers bombarded the planet and killed nearly everyone on the planet. The document revealed that it was a group of Bothan spies that assisted the Empire in bringing the shields down. This information threw the New Republic into chaos as Bothans, while a key part of the Rebel Alliance, always had a reputation of being cunning and duplicitous. Considering Bothan politician Borsk Fey’lya was now a high-ranking member of the New Republic government, such conflict could be bad for the entire government. Leia Organa Solo tasked Karrde with finding an original copy of the document Thrawn released to see if there were alterations made to it. To do so, Karrde would have to find his old boss and mentor, Jorj Car’das. Karrde was reluctant to track down Car’das, considering he took over his organization, but Car’das was surprisingly welcoming. Though Car’das did not have an original copy of the Caamas Document in his cache of information, he did give Karrde a datacard with information the New Republic would find useful. The datacard revealed that Thrawn was not alive and in fact was being impersonated by a con man. With “Thrawn” exposed as a fake, Supreme Commander Pellaeon (Thrawn’s former second-in-command) reasserted control over Imperial forces and called a truce with the New Republic. Karrde assisted in negotiating the treaty between the New Republic and the Imperial Remnant, which was his first step down the road of legitimacy. Karrde began working more closely with the New Republic and provided vital intelligence during the Yuuzhan Vong War and the Second Galactic Civil War.
Karrde’s biography reads as your classic scoundrel. He was content at playing both sides for as long as he could, but he still had a clear code of ethics and morality. Like many scoundrels, he wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty, at one point even killing a bounty hunter that was coming after him on his own, but like many genteel scoundrel types, he tried to avoid violence whenever possible. He would use his knowledge and information to get him out of trouble, but when pressed, he wasn’t exactly afraid to throw down. However, this nature often tended to rub people the wrong way. Since Karrde was always looking out for his bottom line, many outside the fringe community saw him as a mercenary who would sell his services to the highest bidder. However, that interpretation ignored the fact that Karrde was loyal to his people, even beyond their worth to him as assets. Inside the fringe community, though, Karrde’s hatred of kidnapping and slavery showed that he was as trustworthy as someone in their line of work could be. Karrde also extended protection to any who were under his roof as guests and would not sell them out, even if the money was good. Once again, all the elements of a classic scoundrel are there. Add in that he was a sharp dresser and had some pretty impressive facial hair and you have another clear scoundrel. Karrde was such a popular character, he even made an appearance in the somewhat obscure Star Wars Collectable Card Game. The game relied largely on movie footage for still images of characters, but they dabbled in the Expanded Universe from time to time, and Karrde was one of the first. Karrde is well loved by fans of Zahn’s work (myself included) and Zahn loved him so much that he even posed for the card image of Karrde for the Star Wars Collectable Card Game. That’s some dedication to a character you created yourself.