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Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XIX

Shout! Factory serves up Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XIX, another well-balanced DVD box set of the cult TV show.

You are cordially invited to step aboard the stranded Satellite of Love as its crew continues its ongoing assignment of viewing (and mocking) the most… ahem… misunderstood… films of all time! Join hosts Joel Hodgson and Mike Nelson as they celebrate the very first — and only — 19th DVD box set of the hilarious cult phenomenon Mystery Science Theater 3000 with their loyal, albeit morally misguided, crew — Tom Servo, Crow T. Robot and, of course, Gypsy!

The first two episodes are from The Comedy Channel seasons, hosted by Joel Hodgson, and the remaining pair are Sci Fi Channel entries hosted by Mike Nelson. Dividing the set even more neatly, Hodgson’s episodes both have the word “Monster” in the title, while Nelson’s begin with “Devil”.

Robot Monster, Season 1:
This hunk of cheese regularly shows up on Worst Movie Ever lists. It’s also fairly short, so the episode opens with a double dose of the Commando Cody serial Radar Men from the Moon: Chapters 4 & 5, “Flight to Destruction” and “Murder Car”. Then it’s on to the classic sci-fi B-flick, Robot Monster, featuring randomly inserted stock footage of stop-motion dinosaurs and dino-lizards, a bubble machine slash alien device that inexplicably gets a lot of screen time, and the titular robot monster, Ro-Man, who’s just a guy dressed up in a gorilla suit and space helmet. Ro-Man uses the “advanced” technology of his world to wipe out the human race in the first few moments of the story, but somehow has trouble tracking down the lone surviving family over the rest of the film, even though they’re only a stone’s throw from the primitive cave that serves as Ro-Man’s base of operations. To further complicate matters, Ro-Man develops a disturbing crush on Alice, the movie’s requisite hot-chick-scientist. In other words, Robot Monster is perfect riffing material for Joel and the ‘Bots, who spend the host segments imitating the aliens and mocking the complete lack of sense that the movie makes. Of note to MSTies, this is the final episode of the show to have a green theater seat silhouette, before it changed to the more familiar black. The bonus features on this disc are a new introduction by J. Elvis Weinstein (the original “Tom Servo”), the Larry Blamire Geeks Out featurette that gives indie filmmaker Larry Blamire’s perspective on the movie, and Robot Monster’s original theatrical trailer.

Bride of the Monster, Season 4:
As a prelude to the movie, the Satellite of Love crew riffs on Hired!, Part 1, in which a car salesman is really, really bad at his new job, inspiring Joel and the ‘Bots to stage Hired!: The Musical during one of the host segments. The main feature, Bride of the Monster, is an Ed Wood title that practically riffs itself. It stars two of Wood’s regulars, Bela Lugosi and Tor Johnson, as mad scientist Dr. Eric Vornoff, and his mute henchman, Lobo, who are attempting to create a race of atomic supermen. Alas, Lobo gets distracted by the pretty lady his master intends to experiment on, and Vornoff discovers that a giant, man-eating octopus — a limp rubber prop in half of its scenes — isn’t, perhaps, the safest choice of pet to guard his lab against unwanted visitors. The bonus features on this disc are the retrospective featurette Citizen Wood: Making the “Bride”, Unmaking the “Legend”, the Inventing the “Invention Exchange” conversation with Joel Hodgson, and Bride of the Monster’s original theatrical trailer.

Devil Doll, Season 8:
Devil Doll is a typical possessed-ventriloquist-doll horror tale, except that the ventriloquist, in this case, is way more creepy, evil, and expressionless than his wooden puppet. Everyone is the movie seems to be mesmerized by The Great Vorelli’s stage act, despite his utter lack of talent and the peculiar tension between him and Hugo the Dummy. The film plods along as Vorelli plots to hypnotize a wealthy beauty into becoming his unwilling meal ticket… er, bride, with plenty of dead air in the script for Mike and the ‘Bots to throw their voices into. The bonus features on this disc are The Puppet Master: Richard Gordon on “Devil Doll” featurette (Gordon being the film’s executive producer), and Devil Doll’s original theatrical trailer.

Devil Fish, Season 9:
A French-Italian production filmed in Florida, Devil Fish is essentially a cheap knock-off of Jaws. Rather than simply presenting a freakishly big shark, though, the “devil fish” is a genetically engineered octopus/shark hybrid that’s escaped its creators and gone on a rampage, much like in Roger Corman’s recent Devil Fish-inspired Sharktopus. When the devil fish isn’t chomping anyone who gets within six feet of the water, the movie focuses on the characters wearing skimpy swimwear, tosses in a gratuitous love scene, and plays a soundtrack that sounds like it was lifted from softcore porn. Meanwhile, in between bouts of movie-riffing, Mike and the ‘Bots have to deal with some angry sealife of their own when they manage to offend dolphins with their prank call to SeaWorld, and the dolphins, who turn out to be a superior, space-faring species, show up at the Satellite of Love in their battle destroyer. The bonus features on this disc are the hour-long convention panel MST3K: Origins and Beyond at CONvergence 2009 (with Mary Jo Pehl, Frank Conniff, and Joel Hodgson as panelists), and Devil Fish’s original theatrical trailer.

The Steve Vance-illustrated covers of the slimline DVD cases are included as mini-posters, as usual, and the discs’ animated menus incorporate sound clips from the episodes that they go before, a now-standard detail for Shout! Factory’s MST3K box sets. What’s new in the Volume XIX set is the inclusion of a Gypsy figurine. It’s become a tradition that the end-of-year MST3K DVD release comes with a limited-edition bonus, beginning with the Crow. T. Robot figurine that accompanied Shout! Factory’s very first MST3K set in 2008, followed by Tom Servo in 2009. Gypsy’s arrival in 2010 sees the completion of the ‘Bot trio, and marks the first time that Gypsy has appeared as a toy or model. She’s in scale with her two smaller companions, so she towers above them, the hose that makes up her body coiled into a disc-shaped base that keeps her top-heavy purple head from toppling over. Tom Servo’s catchphrase of “I’m huge!” would be an appropriate tagline for this figurine, as would Crow’s “You know you want me, baby!” After all, the Satellite of Love wouldn’t function properly without the big-hearted Gypsy.

The question now, with all three ‘Bots accounted for, is what will the next bonus be? If you’d like to suggest action figures of Joel and Mike, or perhaps a Christmas ornament of the Satellite of Love, then e-mail Shout! Factory or post your ideas on their Cult Faves message board.

Pre-order at Amazon.com:
Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XIX (Canada)
Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XIX (US)

Or order directly through the Shout! Factory website.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 is distributed by Shout! Factory. For more Mystery Science Theater 3000 information, please visit The Official Mystery Science Theater 3000 Website and Satellite News: The Official Mystery Science Theater 3000 Fan Site.

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Poo: The Card Game

Back in the 90s there was an online game called Flinging Poo at Kids in the Zoo. I played it obsessively for a while. It was a cute animated game where you were a monkey in the zoo flinging poo at children, the other animals and passing folks (except for the Zoo keeper who would beat you with a broom if you hit him). Because I had such fond memories of the browser game, when I heard about Poo: The Card Game, I just had to play it.

As one of the monkeys in a cage at the zoo, your goal is to try to remain as clean as possible while flinging as much poo as you can at your friends. To do this, you are armed with an array of weapons from Pellet Poo (does 1 damage point) to King Kong Poo (does 5 damage points). In addition to the regular poo, there are Special Poo cards that can increase damage done to your opponents or even hit more than one target at a time. For example, the Devil Poo does 3 damage points to ALL players except you. Once a player hits 15 poo points, they are eliminated from the game.

The first player eliminated, though, can grab and play The Golden Banana card and take their points down to 8 and stay in the game, so it’s not so bad to be the first player “out”, but that’s not the only save option available. There are Defense cards such as Buddy’s Face (exactly what it sounds like: grab a friend to use as a shield) and Mishap cards (such as Montezuma’s Revenge where you can dodge the poo and 2 points bounce back at the flinger).

Event Cards provide special circumstances that can help, too. Is all the poo at your disposal not doing enough damage to keep you from losing? Play the Reinforcements card, discard your low-point poo, and draw replacement cards. With any luck, you might draw something like Keepers got the Hose and wash away some of that stench (and points along with it).

Still not clean enough to stay in the game? There are Clean cards, too! Maybe you’ll get lucky enough to draw Dip in the Pool (removes 4 points) or Found a Towel (removes 2 points). Is someone being particularly nasty to you? Maybe Sharing the Love with another player will help (removes 2 poo from you and adds it to any player you like).

The illustrations in Poo: The Card Game remind me a bit of Disney’s Tarzan because they are more like animation frames than cartoons or comics, and have more depth then the traditional children’s book illustrations. The colors are vibrant and faces are expressive. One of my favorite illustrations is on the Dodge card. It depicts a monkey hiding behind an unsuspecting gorilla that’s munching on leaves, completely unaware he’s about to get hit in the face with the poo meant for you.

Game play is simple and quick to learn. The only difficulty you might have is the scoring because you are constantly adding and removing points. We tried a few different things (making and erasing hash marks, numbers, etc.) but I think the easiest way to keep score is either with a 20 sided dragon die for each player or plastic bingo chips. With the dice, you just rotate your die to the number of points you now have as they are added or removed. With the bingo chips, toss them from a discard pile to your opponent’s chip pile after you play your card, and move them from your chip pile to the discard pile as you play Clean cards or poo points get removed from you in any other way.

It was a fun game to play, and one thing we agreed on is that there is an aspect of the game that reminded us of the card game Speed. You see, there is a 5 Banana Rule (as in 1 banana, 2 banana, 3 banana…) in which each player has only 5 seconds to play their turn or lose it. Once you are familiar with the cards (and don’t have to spend time reading them), the game’s pace moves quickly. It’s a fast-flying, vicious game that will keep everyone cringing and laughing at the same time.

Poo: The Card Game is for 2 to 8 players, ages 8 and up, and includes 110 playing cards:

  • 40 Poo cards
  • 14 Special Poo cards
  • 10 Mishap cards
  • 14 Defense cards
  • 14 Event cards
  • 16 Clean cards
  • 2 The Golden Banana cards

Poo: The Card Game can be purchased at your local game shop or at Amazon.

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Teh Itteh Bitteh Book of Kittehs: A LOLcat Guide 2 Kittens

“I can haz new Cheezburger book, with a book giveaway contest on the side?”

The I Can Has Cheezburger? website launched its line of LOLcat books in 2008 with I Can Has Cheezburger?: A LOLcat Colleckshun, an introductory guide to the world of LOLcats that outlines the basics of LOLcat language and culture. A year after pouncing onto bestseller lists, it was followed up by How to Take Over Teh Wurld: A LOLcat Guide 2 Winning. Not surprisingly, for a book focused on feline global domination, the manipulation and subjugation of cats’ human “owners” is the theme of Volume 2′s selection of LOLcat images. If a cat were to write an inspirational book on how to get ahead in the rat race, then How to Take Over Teh Wurld would definitely be the result.

The newest title in the captioned-kitty series, presented as the “threequel to the LOLcat dynasty”, is Teh Itteh Bitteh Book of Kittehs: A LOLcat Guide 2 Kittens. If you’re a fan of LOLspeak and the geeky memes that circulate at I Can Has Cheezburger?, but secretly (or maybe not-so-secretly), visit the site mainly to squee over the adorable pictures, then this is the Cheezburger book that you’ve been waiting for. With chapter headings like “Yr kitteh and u”, “Kyootness: resistance is futile”, “Kitteh to-do list”, “Teh artz of lol”, “Momcat knows best”, “Uh-oh bad kitteh”, “Rules kittehs live bai”, and “Itteh bitteh kitteh committeh hall of fame”, you know you’ll be responding to each page with an awww or giggle. Iconic LOLcats Ceiling Cat and Basement Cat make appearances, their kittenhood pictures showing Ceiling Cat starting out on the bumpy path to achieving divine goodness, and Basement Cat and his minions at a more playfully naughty than personification-of-evil stage. Dogs, usually the bumbling arch-nemeses of adult LOLcats, also get a gentler treatment in Teh Itteh Bitteh Book of Kittehs, posing cutely and safely interacting with the less-threatening LOLkittens.

Like its littermates, Teh Itteh Bitteh Book of Kittehs is a small, square book, the purr-fect size for popping into Christmas stockings. The pictures are printed on thick, glossy paper, securely bound so that the book will survive long after it becomes dog-eared… er, cat-eared from use.

Itteh Bitteh Kitteh Committee Boxed Set - Collectors Edition

The soon-to-be-released Teh Littr Boks Set: A LOLcat Colleckshun gathers all three volumes in a tidy box, but if you already have the first two books, and just need Teh Itteh Bitteh Book of Kittehs to complete your set, you can enter now to win a copy. Leave a comment on this post, or tweet ÜberSciFiGeek using the hashtag #USFGcontest, by November 2, 2010, and one lucky reader will be chosen at random to receive a free copy of Teh Itteh Bitteh Book of Kittehs from Gotham Books!

Order now at Amazon.com:
I Can Has Cheezburger?: A LOLcat Colleckshun
How to Take Over Teh Wurld: A LOLcat Guide 2 Winning
Teh Itteh Bitteh Book of Kittehs: A LOLcat Guide 2 Kittens

Pre-order at Amazon.com:
Teh Littr Boks Set: A LOLcat Colleckshun

I Can Has Cheezburger?: A LOLcat Colleckshun, How to Take Over Teh Wurld: A LOLcat Guide 2 Winning, Teh Itteh Bitteh Book of Kittehs: A LOLcat Guide 2 Kittens, and Teh Littr Boks Set: A LOLcat Colleckshun are distributed by Gotham Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA), and its international affiliates. For more information about I Can Has Cheezburger?, visit the official website at icanhascheezburger.com.

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"Star Wars" Imperial AT-AT (All Terrain Armored Transport)

In honour of the 30th anniversary of Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Hasbro has released two versions of the movie’s most iconic vehicle: the AT-AT.

As Hasbro says in their press release for the Star Wars Imperial AT-AT (All Terrain Armored Transport), “in space, size does matter”. Everyone who sees the deluxe AT-AT for the first time is struck by the sheer enormity of it. While it isn’t fully to scale with the 3.75” action figures that man it, it does currently hold the title of largest AT-AT toy ever made, fitting a crew of 20 action figures, six of those in the head’s command cockpit alone. The yellow starburst on the packaging, proclaiming the 2010 AT-AT to be “Over 2 Feet Tall!”, doesn’t really manage to convey just how big this behemoth is out of the box. It has to be seen in person to be truly appreciated. Unpacked and assembled, the deluxe AT-AT stands approximately 24 inches tall, 28 inches long, and 12 inches wide, about the size of a medium-sized dog, and, loaded to full capacity with action figures and a speederbike, weighs nearly as much as one, too. It’s instantly the focal point of a room, even if, in the absence of a sizable enough table or display case, it’s relegated to the floor.

Despite dominating the average Star Wars collection, bigness isn’t the deluxe AT-AT’s only selling point. A gorgeously crafted toy, it quite faithfully recreates the stop-motion models used in The Empire Strikes Back, putting it closer to being a studio scale model than simply a plaything. The attention to detail is impressive, particularly in the interiors. Also contributing to the high-end air of the piece is Hasbro’s meticulous paint job. Applied with model maker precision, the paintwork capably matches the appearance of metal, with dark, rusty stains weathering the vehicle, and panels painted in mismatched shades giving it the realistic look of a patched-up war machine. As an optional bonus, a sheet of battle damage stickers is provided to further age the AT-AT’s armor. (These stickers are permanent ones, rather than the reusable peel-and-stick kind, so choose carefully how you place them.) Seven more stickers fill in the AT-AT’s viewscreens, and there are three Imperial markings to apply to the included speeder bike.

"Star Wars" Imperial AT-AT (All Terrain Armored Transport) Details

Most importantly, the deluxe AT-AT is huge fun to play with, as it’s loaded with features. It emits vehicle, walking, and laser firing sounds, accompanied by 27 random-play Darth Vader, General Veers, Imperial Officer, and Clone Trooper sound clips from The Empire Strikes Back (three 1.5VAA/R6 batteries required; the American version speaks phrases in English, but the mainline product in Canada is sound-effects-only to accommodate the French market). More than one sound can be active at once, permitting Imperial commanders to bark orders while the AT-AT is in motion. LEDs light up the cockpit viewscreen and forward laser guns, which move by means of slider buttons under the chin, and the guns on the cheeks shoot projectiles quite a distance when buttons are pressed on them. A pull-up handle behind the head pops up hidden laser cannons, and enables you to lift and swivel the head. The deluxe AT-AT has a multitude of hatches to explore, as well. The top of the head opens to access the cockpit, where the included AT-AT driver action figure sits, and double hatches open on both sides of the body. A zip-line pulls through the trapdoor in the floor of the main compartment, then winds back up with the press of a button on the upper deck. At the rear of the AT-AT, a large hatch drops down to reveal the speeder bike bay. A speeder bike is included, and snaps onto a launch/landing pad that extends when a button is pressed (there are a lot of buttons on this AT-AT). There are even a couple of tiny hatches on the sides of the docking bay that let you peek in at the parked bike when the hanger is closed. Inside the two-level main compartment are a pair of repelling platforms that swing out, each capable of holding two figures. They’re lowered by pressing a button, and retracted by turning a thumbwheel. The AT-AT’s articulated legs have ratcheting joints at the hip and knees that securely lock poses into place with a loud, satisfying click, providing extra stability. Adjustable at the ankle, the feet are bigger than those on the original Kenner AT-AT, raising the Imperials’ chances of stomping a Rebel snowspeeder.

The instruction sheet warns against knocking the AT-AT over, but after watching it tip over numerous times, it didn’t seem to be any the worse for wear. The thick plastic is sturdy enough to take a pretty heavy beating, and the doors are designed to release when too much pressure is put on them, then snap right back on. As long as kids don’t lean their weight on the head or try to use the AT-AT as a riding pony, it should hold up to many years of enthusiastic play.

Need another reason to want Hasbro’s Star Wars Imperial AT-AT? Fans of the nostalgic short film AT-AT Day Afternoon, who missed out on getting the vintage Kenner AT-AT, now have the opportunity to adopt their very own robotic dog from a galaxy far, far away!

"Star Wars" Galactic Heroes: AT-AT Walker

For children (ages 3 and up) who aren’t old enough yet to play with a Super Deluxe AT-AT, Hasbro offers the Star Wars Galactic Heroes: AT-AT Walker. This junior edition AT-AT is a little over knee-high to the deluxe AT-AT, and looks absolutely adorable when displayed next to its towering big brother. Like the rest of the toys in the Galactic Heroes line, it has a chunky, stylized look that will appeal to kids and/or fans of the Japanese “chibi” style made popular in anime and manga.

"Star Wars" Galactic Heroes: AT-AT Walker Details

The Galactic Heroes: AT-AT Walker is basically a “training wheels” for the deluxe AT-AT. It has the same features, but in a more stripped-down form. Electronic lights, weapons, and walking sounds (two 1.5VAA/R6 batteries required) are activated by a single button on the head, but don’t play concurrently, and sound bytes aren’t part of the package, so children are free to do their own movie quoting. There are two hatches, one for the cockpit and another on the left side of the body. The AT-AT Walker is completely in scale with other Galactic Heroes toys, though the bulky blaster wielded by the included AT-AT driver necessitates a bit of wiggling to fit him into the driver’s seat in such a way that the cockpit will close. A speeder bike, also included, clips onto the main compartment’s hatch, and inside the compartment is a trapdoor and simple zip-line that’s manually operated by pulling a plastic tab in the roof that the cord is tied to. The legs and hips are labeled with numbers for quick, easy assembly, and articulation is limited to the hips and ankles. This small AT-AT won’t be achieving any deep knee bends, but its range of movement still allows for multiple action poses.

Both of the AT-ATs have screw-on battery compartment covers, with the screw safely attached to prevent loss or a choking hazard. (Note: These toys are not recommended for lolcats!)

Order now at Amazon.com:
Star Wars Imperial AT-AT (All Terrain Armored Transport)
Star Wars Galactic Heroes: AT-AT Walker

The Star Wars Imperial AT-AT (All Terrain Armored Transport) and Star Wars Galactic Heroes: AT-AT Walker are distributed by Hasbro and Hasbro Canada. For more Star Wars information, please visit the official Star Wars website.

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Back to the Future: The Card Game

Looney Labs, the creators of the award winnings games Fluxx and Treehouse, has an awesome new addition to its large collection of fun-filled games. In collaboration with Universal Pictures, for the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the film, Back to the Future: The Card Game hits store shelves September 3rd. As a descendant of one of the characters from the Back to the Future movies, you must not only travel back in time to fix the time line to ensure your birth, but then you have to stop Doc Brown from inventing time travel to begin with! Sounds like a paradox, I know, but hey, with a card game you don’t have to fear a massive universe-ending cascade effect.

Using the game mechanics of their popular Chrononauts time traveler game, it’s a card game that plays almost like a board game. Time Line cards are laid out in 4 rows of 6, chronologically from 1885 (when Hill Valley was in desperate need of a new Blacksmith) to 2015 (the infamous botched McFly Jailbreak). Each of these events is either a Lynchpin or a Ripplepoint, meaning, if a Lynchpin event is changed, it will have one or more “ripples” in the time line (such as we saw when George punched Biff at the “Enchantment Under the Sea” dance and Marty returned to a new and improved future).

Like every other Looney Labs game I’ve played, it’s ingenious in its quick and easy-to-learn, yet complex and ever-changing, game play. The cards basically tell you everything you need to know so you’ll only have to double-check the instructions the first few times you play before getting the hang of things. The illustrations are similar to a comic book and are chock full of images from the films. The cards are also dotted with events, quotes and references from the films so you quickly get a feeling of familiarity with the game, almost like catching up with an old friend.

Back to the Future: The Card Game Contents

As I said, game play is pretty easy. Once you’ve laid out your Time Line cards, you randomly draw an ID card to determine whose great-great-grandchild you are. The ID cards include a set of events that you must make happen in order to preserve your time line and win the game. For example, if you are Marty McFly III, you certainly want to make sure great-great-grampa takes that swing at Biff in the parking lot of the dance but if you are Buffy Tannen, you want to prevent it.

Unlike Chrononauts, where meeting those time line event changes wins you the game, Back to the Future adds an interesting twist: The game ending card has 5 randomly shuffled cards stacked, 4 of which are duds. If you meet your goals and flip the card, you have a 1 in 5 chance of actually winning on that turn, giving the other players a chance to mess up your time line again if it’s a dud.

In order to change those time lines, you use Game cards which include Items (like a case of Plutonium or a copy of George McFly’s first novel), Time Machines (yes, you finally get to drive the DeLorean), DoubleBacks (which let you change events when you travel back in time, maybe twice if you have the correct item on hand), Actions (such as Hitch a Ride, which lets you flip any lynchpin of your choice if the player before you changed time) and Power Actions (like Memo, where you can leave a memo for yourself to remind you to stop another player’s Action before they can finish it).

Looney Labs really paid attention to the details in creating this game. You’ll find the obvious things here (such as various versions of the DeLorean, the Gray’s Sports Almanac and the fading McFly family photo), but you may have forgotten about the bullet proof vest, Mr. Fusion and Frisbie’s Pies. I think my favorite little touch is the back of the ID cards. While all of the other cards bear the Back to the Future logo, the ID card is an Employee ID badge featuring the CusCo logo, address and ID bar-code. For those of you who don’t recall, CusCo was the company that Marty McFly was working for when he received the YOU’RE FIRED! fax.

Between the events on the Time Line cards, to the quotes and other references on the other game cards, you’ll find yourself smiling and laughing a lot as you recall favorite moments from the films. As a matter of fact, every hand we’ve played so far has been filled with pauses as we stopped to discuss the shows, and we have an insatiable desire to have a Back to the Future movie marathon very soon. If, after playing a few rounds of your new Looney Labs Back to the Future: The Card Game, you find yourself hankering to watch the movies, too, more Good News! Universal is releasing a new, digitally remastered Back to the Future: 25th Anniversary Trilogy box set on DVD and Blu-ray in October.

For 2 to 6 players, ages 11 to 111.

Contents include:

  • 28 time line cards
  • 10 Character cards
  • 62 Game cards
    • 17 Items
    • 6 Time Machines
    • 8 DoubleBacks
    • 17 Actions
    • 14 Power Actions

You can get Back to the Future: The Card Game directly from Looney Labs, or check your local game retailer. While Back to the Future: The Card Game isn’t listed on Amazon.com yet, be sure to keep an eye out for it and check out the other Looney Labs games while you are there!

Looney Labs Website
Looney Labs Fan Club
Looney Labs on Twitter
Looney Labs Community Page on Facebook

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Adios & Ciao Ciao by tokidoki

It’s pronounced mee-mo-bot.
Refresh. Enjoy. MIMOBOT!

Flash drives, while extremely useful, aren’t generally the most exciting looking pieces of technology. They’re usually just little lozenges of plastic in a limited selection of solid colours. In 2005, Mimoco changed the face of flash drives forever by introducing MIMOBOT, a line of designer USB flash drives. Inspired by pop culture, and borrowing from the idea of collectible toys, Mimoco turned flash drives from merely practical devices into a means of artistic expression.

MIMOBOT come in three categories: original characters created in-house by Mimoco, a series of collaborations with popular artists, and licensed brands. Currently, these categories include Mimoco’s Core Series, Artist Crossovers (such as FriendsWithYou and tokidoki), Community-Designed ‘bots contributed by talented MIMOBOT fans, and the hugely popular Licensed Crossovers, or “Artist Series”, that includes Hello Kitty and Mimoco’s most well-known output, the Star Wars MIMOBOT Series. There’s even a line of keychain “outfits”, called protoHoodies, that clip MIMOBOTs to bags or clothing while preventing wear to their painted cases.

As if having a beautiful computer accessory wasn’t enough, every MIMOBOT is preloaded with exclusive avatars, icons, wallpapers, screensavers, sound bytes, and other multimedia goodies, including the latest issue of Mimoco’s video publication, mimoZine. Since MIMOBOTs are compatible with Mac and Windows, their bonus contents come in formats for both systems. All drives are available in 2GB, 4GB, 8GB, and 16GB sizes, and feature a tail light that flashes when the MIMOBOT is plugged in.

Aside from their unique appearance, the most interesting thing about MIMOBOTs is that they have a back-story, which claims that the flash drives are sentient creatures who hail from Planet Blõôh. The MIMOBOT designs are merely identities that they adopt on Earth to better enable them to infiltrate human society. One set of these disguises is provided by tokidoki.

Renowned Italian artist Simone Legno’s tokidoki brand is crossing over to the consumer tech world with the introduction of the tokidoki for MIMOBOT collection of designer USB flash drives, another entry in the MIMOBOT Artist Series. tokidoki, which means “sometimes” in Japanese, was named such because of Simone’s love for Japanese culture and his belief that “everyone waits for moments that change one’s destiny.” After his destiny-changing moment arrived in 2003, he went from being an artist who used his website to promote his freelance work to an artist who successfully built tokidoki into a world-famous international brand!

The tokidoki MIMOBOT collection was launched by a pair of tokidoki x MIMOBOT characters, Adios and Ciao Ciao, with the slogan Love is… in the Air:

As legend has it, Adios spent 500 years in fire and brimstone before the devil discovered his good-natured ways and kicked him out of hell. Too mischievous for heaven, Adios was condemned to live forever on earth, in his modern grave-loft with his girlfriend Ciao Ciao. Together, Adios and Ciao Ciao wander the world, sharing with others how to make the most out of this life… A perfect love story for fashion-tech lovers everywhere.

This gothic-anime duo, in a matching “his-and-hers” style for the tech crowd, ensures that couples won’t accidentally grab each other’s data. They make great little gifts for any romantically geeky occasion, and, like true love, will also withstand the test of time — MIMOBOT flash drive cases are made of a thick, sturdy, molded plastic, and the caps, while easy to remove, snap on firmly. The boldly coloured designs are cleanly applied, with no paint overlap or bleed, and Adios and Ciao Ciao’s silver and gold caps offer a hint of metallic flair. Bellissimo!

Transfer Rate: Hi-Speed USB 2.0 (backwards compatible with USB 1.1).

Mimoco encourages the recycling of their packaging and products, so check out the GreenBot USB Recycling Program (GURP). It offers discounts on future MIMOBOT purchases when you send in your old flash drives… assuming that you can bear to part with them. Even non-functional MIMOBOTs still have value as tiny works of art. This collectibility is really the only downside to MIMOBOTs, as soon you’ll have so many, you won’t know where to display them all. Then again, can a techno geek ever really have too many flash drives?

Order now at Amazon.com:
MIMOBOT

Or order directly through the Mimoco website.

MIMOBOTs and protoHoodies are distributed by Mimoco. For more information on tokidoki, please visit the official tokidoki website.

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The Worst Thing She Ever Did

I recently read The Worst Thing She Ever Did by Alice Kuipers. It’s the story of a young girl name Sophie who went through a traumatic event and is having trouble going on with her life after it. While my own traumatic events weren’t quite the same as Sophie’s, I could definitely identify with her struggle to express herself and find not only the missing words to do so but discover who she is now that everything in her life has changed.

The Worst Thing She Ever Did is a young adult novel written as Sophie’s journal, so you see inside her head, into what she’s thinking and feeling, as she attempts to open up on the blank pages. At first, the entries are brief with little detail of her daily life and they are spaced days apart. As the book continues, you see her slip a few bits and pieces of the past in as she more fully details her days.

Because a strong theme of the book is finding ways to get unstuck so you can open up and express yourself, I asked if Alice Kuipers could share a bit with us about how she gets unstuck and finds inspiration to get her lost words flowing again.

I’m really glad to be guest blogging for you. Thanks. You asked me to share a few writing tips and so I thought I’d blog a bit about how to get inspired when you’re stuck and you don’t know what to write. In my novel The Worst Thing She Ever Did, the main character, Sophie, is completely stuck with what to say in the face of her suffering. She is lost for words and until she gets unstuck she can’t move on to her future. Turns out, for her, writing is the way forward.

Writer’s block can be something quite terrifying. The blank page stares at you, or more likely the blank screen. That little cursor blinks impatiently. How do you get ideas? Well, there are lots of sources of inspiration so here are five ideas to get you unstuck and get writing.

  1. Read magazines and newspapers especially if you’re writing SciFi because thrilling and weird innovations and events will get your imaginative neurons firing. I saw an old article about giant sinkholes in Guatemala the other day — that could inspire anything from serious melancholy poetry to wild exotic fantasy.
  2. Think of a hero of yours and put them in a challenging situation. What would they do? The harder the challenge, the more difficult the situation, the better the story.
  3. Take a line from something you’re reading and use it to inspire you — it could be your first line for a story or the finishing line that you have to reach.
  4. Put on a piece of music you haven’t listened to for a while but that you used to love. Let the memories the tune inspires get you writing.
  5. Imagine you’ve left every thing and every one you know somewhere far away. You’re in a totally unknown place. Are you still you? What happens? Sometimes writing what you don’t know (as opposed to the old adage of writing what you know) can get you fired up and over being stuck.

Getting unstuck is one thing. But being inspired is just the start of discovering yourself as a writer. It took me several years to find the way I wanted to tell the stories I want to tell.

For me, taking my time was the best way to discover my voice, so I have one final piece of advice on finding your voice:

Experiment with every form and genre you can imagine (and read widely to discover forms you’d never heard of) until you find the one that suits you. You might surprise yourself and discover you’re a sound poet, or a comic playwright, or maybe you’re a screenwriter for children’s movies. The more you write, the more comfortable you’ll be in your writer skin.

I have loads more tips and prompts and links on my website alicekuipers.com for emerging writers.

Come and see me there!

Ali

More Alice Kuipers Links:
Browse Inside The Worst Thing She Ever Did
Alice Kuipers’ Official Website
Alice Kuipers’ HarperCollins Canada Website
Alice Kuipers on Twitter
Alice Kuipers on Facebook

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Sometimes science is gross. It doesn’t have to be, though, especially when it comes to science-based toys. GIANTmicrobes, “stuffed animals that look like tiny microbes — only a million times actual size!”, are more intellectually stimulating than a teddy bear, but still just as cute.

GIANTmicrobes

GIANTmicrobes are available in Original (5-7″), Petri Dish (3 Minis), and GIGANTICmicrobes (15-20″) sizes, with each strain of GIANTmicrobe having regular and miniature versions, and the most popular styles mutating into GIGANTICmicrobes*. (GIGANTICmicrobes, aside from being huge, huggable stuffed toys, are suitable as decorative throw pillows, so if you have a science-themed room in need of whimsy, these jumbo microbes fit the doctor’s bill.) New GIANTmicrobes are spawned regularly, at a rate that makes action figure lines seem like relatively small outbreaks. The complete catalogue of specimens, to date, is as follows:

  • Aerials: House Fly, Mosquito
  • Alimentaries: Acidophilus (New!), Beer & Bread (Yeast)*, Cavity, E. coli*, Listeria (New!), Salmonella*, Yogurt
  • Ambulatories: Lyme Disease
  • Aquatics: Algae, Amoeba (Blue, Orange, or Yellow), Copepod (New!), Krill, Red Tide, Scum, Sea Sparkle, Waterbear (New!)
  • Calamities: Anthrax, Black Death*, Ebola*, Flesh Eating*, Mad Cow*, Typhoid Fever
  • Corporeals: Brain Cell*, Egg Cell, Fat Cell, Nerve Cell, Platelet, Red Blood Cell*, Sperm Cell, White Blood Cell*
  • Critters: Bed Bug, Black Ant, Bookworm*, Dust Mite, Flea, Louse, Maggot, Red Ant
  • Exotics: Bird Flu, Martian Life*, Penicillin*, Swine Flu*, T4
  • Health: Common Cold*, Cough, Ear Ache, Flu*, Sore Throat*, Stomach Ache*
  • Infirmaries: C. Diff, Chickenpox, Measles (New!), MRSA*, Pneumonia, Rubella (New!), Staph*, Toxic Mold
  • Maladies: Athlete’s Foot, Bad Breath, Giardia, Kissing Disease*, Pimple, Ulcer
  • Menageries: Heartworm, Mange, Rabies, Toxoplasmosis
  • Professional: Hepatitis, HIV*, Polio, TB
  • Tropicals: Gangrene, Leishmania (New!), Malaria, Sleeping Sickness, West Nile
  • Venereals: Chlamydia*, The Clap (Gonorrhea)*, Herpes*, HPV (New!), The Pox (Syphilis)*

The GIANTmicrobes’ low-pile plush fabric is soft and brightly coloured — a pile of the toys looks like a spilled box of Crayola 64-pack crayons — and accent materials like shiny plastic eyes, embroidery, fringe, cord, felt, and shimmery metallic cloth add tactile detail that make GIANTmicrobes so invitingly touchable. Hang-tag booklets and other packaging on the GIANTmicrobes provide pictures and scientific bios of the real lifeforms they caricature, humorously written in the manner of Bill Nye the Science Guy, allowing GIANTmicrobes to be both educational and fun. Parents and teachers can use them to introduce their little scientists to the world of microorganisms, while school health classes and medical professionals will want to employ them as props in discussions with young people about sensitive topics, such as pregnancy and STDs. Or, you can skip the real-life science lessons and just play. Gather a group of friends to recreate the infection process on a grand scale by throwing GIANTmicrobes at one another and yelling things like “I just gave you kissing disease!” (This game is great exercise, as you’ll need to run and dodge to avoid being “infected” back.)

Martian Life Petri Dish

Perhaps the most entertaining of the GIANTmicrobe toys are the petri dishes. Three mini microbes are sealed in a plastic “petri dish”, a heavy, clear plastic container subtly embossed with the GIANTmicrobes logo on the lid. The paper labels are all loosely attached with bits of transparent tape, so they’re easily removed to give you a fairly realistic looking petri dish. Mad scientists-in-training can amuse themselves for hours, combining the contents of petri dishes to see what “results” they get. The more petri dish selections in the “lab”, the more interesting the “science experiments”! Bookworm + Brain Cell = Smart Bug. Martian Life + Swine Flu = Pigs in Space? Amoeba + Flesh Eating Disease + Rabies = Microscopic Zombie. Yikes!

If you work in a doctor’s office or science lab, and want to add a touch of humour to your formal wear, GIANTmicrobes are printed on stylish neckties in three eye-catching designs. For informal settings, there are t-shirts and hats. Other GIANTmicrobes-related items tailored to your workspace are coffee mugs, keychains, and, for anyone wanting to apply fake cooties to their skin, temporary tattoos.

The GIANTmicrobes brand even has a line of medical supplies. There’s a liquid soap dispenser shaped like a common cold bug, moist wipes, and a digital thermometer. The bright orange and white thermometer is less clinical in appearance than a regular thermometer, and has an adorable picture of a sad cold bug on the handle, a teensy GIANTmicrobes thermometer stuck in its mouth. The digital thermometer comes in a protective clear case, and, being electronic, contains no toxic mercury — seriously, why stick poison in your mouth when you’re already sick? Since the device is American-made, it displays degrees in Fahrenheit, so converting the results will be a necessary inconvenience in other countries, where Celsius is standard. The thermometer only takes about a minute to spit out an accurate reading, however, and its tip is flexible for a comfortable fit under the tongue. A beep indicates when the temperature readout is ready, and a fever alarm lets you know when a visit to the doctor is in order. An auto-off feature conserves battery life, which lasts around 200 hours.

Germs are tenacious little beasts, and frequent hand-washing only controls them for so long. As a last line of defense, you may need to bring in the big guns to keep your playful GIANTmicrobes in order:

Camo Shooter

Marshmallow Shooters, recommended for ages 8 to 88, are similar to Nerf guns, except that instead of shooting foamy, marshmallow-like projectiles, they use real marshmallows as ammunition. Depending on which Marshmallow Shooter you choose, mini or full-sized marshmallows are loaded up and launched, and if you prefer a firearm that’s more medieval issue than a pistol or bazooka, the extensive range of Marshmallow Shooters includes bows and crossbows. Weapons aren’t usually described as Earth-friendly, but these toy shooters hold that unique distinction. Unlike foam pellets, the “biodegradable payload” used by Marshmallow Shooters simply melts away, leaving no trace behind, aside from a few diabetic squirrels who get to the treats before the next rain shower. Everyone knows that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, so blast those microbes into submission with a barrage of sugary sweet marshmallows!

Order now at Amazon.com:
GIANTmicrobes
GIGANTICmicrobes
Marshmallow Shooters

Or order GIANTmicrobes directly through the Giantmicrobes website. Order Marshmallow Shooters directly through the Marshmallow Fun Company website. GIANTmicrobes and Marshmallow Shooters are also available through ThinkGeek.

GIANTmicrobes, GIGANTICmicrobes, and GIANTmicrobes in a Petri Dish are distributed by Giantmicrobes (US) and Stortz & Associates (Canada). Marshmallow Shooters are distributed by Marshmallow Fun Company (US) and Stortz & Associates (Canada).

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Liebrary

Bookworms who enjoy intellectually challenging social games like Trivial Pursuit, Scattergories, or Balderdash will delight in the creative-thinking gameplay of Liebrary, “The Game Where the First Line Speaks Volumes”.

In Liebrary, players are given a book title and the plot summary and then asked to create the most believable first line of the book. The object of the game is to bluff other players into believing that your first line is the correct one. The more outrageous, the better!

Liebrary was co-designed by actresses and best friends Daryl Hannah and Hilary Shepard, who took inspiration for their game from an old parlor game that had the same concept as Liebrary, but required access to hundreds of actual books to play. When Hannah and Shepard decided to create a portable version of the parlor game that could be played in the absence of a library, or taken along on family vacations, Liebrary sprang into creation. (If you do have new or favourite books on hand, though, you can easily incorporate them into gameplay.) A set of book cards lists the title, author, plot, and first line of books, conveniently condensing hundreds of novels into a single, small card box. The card box is styled after a card catalogue drawer, a reference that may likely be lost on younger players, since the card catalogue has largely disappeared from libraries in the age of computers, but players over the age of thirty will appreciate the nostalgic touch. Along with the game board and other playing pieces, the card box fits inside a larger box that, appropriately enough, resembles a thick book. Liebrary’s elegant box cover recreates the look of a worn, green, leather-bound volume, and can be gorgeously displayed on a bookshelf with real books.

Fantasy fans know Hannah best as Madison the mermaid from the classic 1980s film Splash, but she’s also a dedicated environmentalist, so it’s no surprise that a sticker on the front of the package assures eco-friendly game players that Liebrary is “printed on recycled paper using soy-based inks”.

In addition to the standard, travel-size game, there’s also a deluxe Liebrary: Family Edition, which Hannah introduces in the following 2010 Toy Fair video:

You don’t need to be well-read to play Liebrary, just really convincing, and the gameplay is quite easy to learn, so even children and novice players can jump right in. Up to six players move across the simple game board using wooden, book-shaped tokens called Liebrary Book Pawns. To move ahead, you must earn points: one for every vote your first line gets from the other players, and two if you vote for the book’s real first line. Three points go to the Liebrarian if nobody picks the right line. There are 350 book cards in the card catalog box, divided into five genre categories: Fiction/Non-Fiction, Classics, Mystery/Sci-Fi/Horror, Romance, and Children’s. A Category Die is rolled each round to determine which book category the book card will be drawn from. The Liebrarian then reads aloud the title, author, and plot on the book card (but not the first line!), and sets the sand timer. Players have two minutes to write down their first line — either a creative guess or, if you’re familiar with the book, the actual opening sentence. (The less seriously you take the game, the more fun it is!) The first lines are read out and each player votes for the line that they think is best, after which the Liebrarian reveals the true first line written on the book card. Some squares on the game board also require a random Liebrary Card to be drawn. There are ten Liebrary Cards, and, depending on the messages printed on them, such as “You got a book deal! Move ahead two spaces!” or “Writer’s block! Go back one space.”, will forward or hinder your gameplay. The winner of Liebrary is the first player to make it to the final square on the game board, marked “THE END”.

Liebrary supports 3 or more players, ages 12 and up. Game length: variable.

After playing Liebrary, be sure to check out Discovery Bay Games’ Locale, a geography-themed bluffing game featuring “Exotic Destinations and Hilarious Deceptions”:

The object of Locale is to make up a story by explaining as much as you can about a given location. (Do you know where Bird-in-Hand is? How about Timbuktu?) Bluff your way around the globe!

Daryl Hannah and Hilary Shepard have two more games coming soon, as well. Famous Last Lines, “The Party Game Where You Have the Last Line”, is a movie version of Liebrary, while Call It!, “A Quick-Thinking Game Where There’s a Perfect Call for Every Match!”, is a memory challenge card game.

Liebrary and its fellow games are certain to become playtime favourites… no lie.

Order now at Amazon.com:
Liebrary
Locale

Or order directly through the Discovery Bay Games website.

Liebrary, Locale, Famous Last Lines, and Call It! are distributed by Discovery Bay Games.

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Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XVIII

Shout! Factory relights the Movie Sign for their upcoming DVD box set, Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XVIII.

The Mads of Deep 13 and the loyal yet helpless crew of the Satellite of Love — including Joel, Mike, Tom Servo, Crow T. Robot and Gypsy — cordially invite you to join them as they pay tribute to some of the finest-quality cheesefests this side of Gouda! The 18th laugh-filled edition of Mystery Science Theater 3000 promises to keep you as entertained as ever with four episodes never before available on DVD!

Lost Continent, Season 2:
A group of scientists and military men, their nitwit plane mechanic in tow, set off to find a failed rocket experiment that’s nose-dived into a land inexplicably populated by rubber dinosaur models. You’d think that in a movie featuring dinosaurs, they’d be the main attraction, but no; most of the movie focuses on eternal scenes of the expedition scaling a mountain (“Rock climbing, Joel, rock climbing!”) and slogging through the jungle, with barely a word of dialogue spoken. That the film is in black-and-white only adds to the tediousness of the rock climbing, to the point that the normally unflappable Joel, Tom Servo, and Crow lose their patience and snap at the film. The casting of Hugh Beaumont (Ward Cleaver, Leave It to Beaver) provides an endless supply of Wally and the Beav jokes, and Beaumont (played by Michael J. Nelson) even visits the Satellite of Love during one of the host segments to inform Joel and the ‘Bots that he’s actually one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, spoofing on the iconically wholesome 1950s TV Dad image he secured in his most famous role. Shout! Factory warns at the beginning of the film that the “episode was compiled from the best possible surviving master”, so there are quite a few distracting image and sound flaws, but none bad enough to ruin the viewing experience. The bonus features on this disc are a new introduction by Frank Conniff (“TV’s Frank”), and the film’s original theatrical trailer.

Crash of the Moons, Season 4:
This episode opens with the B&W short General Hospital, the final entry in a three-part riff of the soap opera’s 1963 debut season. Mocking soap operas is almost too easy for Joel and the ‘Bots, who wring General Hospital for every drop of melodrama it has, and mercilessly lay on the camp. The episode’s main feature, Crash of the Moons, is cobbled together from three episodes of the space opera TV series Rocky Jones, Space Ranger to create a feature length collection of 1950s sci-fi clichés. John Banner (Sgt. Schultz, Hogan’s Heroes) steals every scene he’s in as the overly chipper, English-mangling ruler of one of the two doomed moons, and is the target of much good-natured ribbing inside and outside of the Satellite of Love’s theatre. One host segment is dedicated to the promotion of “Bannergrams”, and in the closing segment Bavarro (played by Michael J. Nelson) appears on the SOL’s viewscreen but is quickly redirected to Deep 13 to annoy the Mads with his cheerfulness. Crow and Tom Servo also have a musical number, “The Gypsy Moons”, in which they serenade Gypsy until the escalating competition gets completely out of hand. The bonus feature on this disc is the Crash of the Moons Original Mystery Science Theater Hour Wraps, a Biography-style film intro and wrap-up with host “Jack Perkins” (played by Michael J. Nelson).

The Beast of Yucca Flats, Season 6:
The main feature is preceded by two short films — Money Talks resurrects Benjamin Franklin’s shadow to lecture a teenage boy about managing his 1950s-era budget, while industrial video Progress Island, U.S.A. unenticingly hawks Puerto Rico to potential investors in 1973. In The Beast of Yucca Flats, fan-favourite B-movie star Tor Johnson (Plan 9 from Outer Space) plays a Russian scientist who flees his would-be assassins right onto a military test site, an atomic blast mutating him into a lumbering killing machine. The film, gloomily narrated by director Coleman Francis, is largely silent, leaving plenty of dead space for Mike and crew to fill with riffs. The bonus features on this disc are No Dialogue Necessary: Making an “Off-Camera Masterpiece”, a featurette that examines the making of The Beast of Yucca Flats, done in a style that mimics the film and guest-starring Frank Conniff; Coleman Francis: The Cinematic Poet of Parking, a retrospective look at the director and his filmmaking process; the original theatrical trailer for The Beast of Yucca Flats; and a stills gallery.

Jack Frost, Season 8:
In this trippy Russian/Finnish fairy tale, Ivan, a narcissistic young man with a blonde bowl cut, and the unfortunately named Nastenka, Russia’s answer to Cinderella, find true love despite Ivan being briefly turned into a werebear by Father Mushroom and Nastenka accidentally getting frozen solid by Jack Frost. Along the way to their happily-ever-after, they also encounter the inept witch Baba Yaga, a flying house, menacing trees, a pig transformed into a sled, and a band of unsavoury dwarves. Jack Frost borrows its palette of supersaturated colours from The Wizard of Oz — overcompensating for the lack of colour in the other three episodes of Volume XVIII — which just increases the film’s surreality. The snowballing weirdness makes Mike’s performance as the Lord of the Dance, and an appearance by Yakov Smirnoff (played by MST3K prop master Patrick Brantseg) on the Satellite of Love, seem normal by comparison. The bonus feature on this disc is a new introduction by Kevin Murphy (“Tom Servo”).

Steve Vance continues to illustrate the film poster style covers of the slimline DVD cases, copies of which are included in each MST3K box set as exclusive mini-posters. Their campy, retro comic book design perfectly fits the tone of the cheesy movies, and the easy-to-frame prints are ideal MSTie decor. The discs’ animated menus, always of exceptional quality, have practically become a bonus feature in their own right. Sound clips from the movies are cleverly edited together to create new scenes of interaction between Crow and Tom Servo, the vignettes serving as previews of the films they accompany.

Shout! Factory has obviously been listening to fan suggestions, as Volume XVIII is another solid set of most-wanted episodes. If you’d like to help keep the hits coming, be sure to e-mail Shout! Factory or post on their Cult Faves message board.

Pre-order at Amazon.com:
Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XVIII (Canada)
Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XVIII (US)

Or order directly through the Shout! Factory website.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 is distributed by Shout! Factory. For more Mystery Science Theater 3000 information, please visit The Official Mystery Science Theater 3000 Website and Satellite News: The Official Mystery Science Theater 3000 Fan Site.

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Tired of sparkly vampires? Are you on Team Buffy, as opposed to Team Edward or Team Jacob? J!NX now makes it possible to express both sentiments on one article of clothing. When you’re out hunting vampires, you’ll definitely want this fashion statement in your arsenal. That way, your immortal enemies will know exactly where you stand on the issue of Buffy vs. Twilight.

"Buffy Staked Edward" Hoodie

The Buffy Staked Edward Hoodie began life as a hugely popular T-Shirt and Women’s Tee, both of which are still available in the J!NX Shop. Since Vampire Slayers are traditionally female, there’s also a smaller Women’s Hoodie, cut to be more form-fitting than its male counterpart.

Thick enough to deflect the marble chill of a shirtless vampire, with a lined hood for extra warmth, the Buffy Staked Edward hoodie will keep you protected as you search the forest for Cullens to stake. Its sturdy, double-stitched seams will survive multiple maulings by Twihards seeking vengeance on behalf of their beloved Edward — if you wear this item in public, especially near movie theatres showing Eclipse, then durability is an important selling point — and the roomy kangaroo pocket provides a perfect place to conceal Mr. Pointy. Just be sure to concentrate on hiding your thoughts so Edward doesn’t read your mind and spoil your special “surprise” for him.

Sparkly vampires are unnatural. You know it; Buffy knows it. The world would be a better place if archetypes were respected and the Twilight saga came to a quicker demise, concluding “…And Then Buffy Staked Edward. The End”. Sorry, Bella. It looks like your choice between Edward and Jacob just got a lot easier.

For ladies who’d like to add a hidden touch of sexiness to their vampire butt-kicking ensemble, J!NX offers pairs of novelty underwear in matching black…

"Speak Friend and Enter" Boy Brief Panties

Remember when Cameron Diaz drove the fanboys wild in Charlie’s Angels by dancing in front of her bedroom mirror in a pair of Spider-Man Underoos? J!NX’s Speak Friend and Enter Boy Brief Panties raise the nerdiness level a few more notches by featuring a quote from The Lord of the Rings. The Underoo-style briefs are trimmed in white, a delicate thread of feminine pink running through the waistband elastic, with “speak friend and enter” written in an Elvish font across the front, a context that gives Gandalf’s famous words of advice a much naughtier meaning. Password indeed!

"Follow the Rabbit" Hot-short Panties

Even less subtle than the Tolkien undies are the Follow the Rabbit Hot-short Panties, inspired by The Matrix. If you’re not a Matrix fan, but still love Alice in Wonderland, then feel free to interpret “Follow the White Rabbit…” as a direct reference to Alice instead. Either way, these black short shorts are soft and flattering to female curves. (J!NX’s underwear tends to fit small, so you may need to order up a size.) Plus, the bunny illustration printed on the hip in white ink is cute, unless you’re Buffy‘s Anya — then it’s more terrifying than vampires.

Order directly through the J!NX website.

The Buffy Staked Edward T-Shirt and Hoodie, Speak Friend and Enter Boy Brief Panties, and Follow the Rabbit Hot-short Panties are distributed by J!NX.

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"Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog" Blu-ray

If you’ve already watched Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog in its online and DVD incarnations, you now have a third option: Blu-ray.

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog was such a huge viral hit that it went on to win an Emmy Award, despite having never actually aired on television, a feat that assured it was only a matter of time until Dr. Horrible earned Blu-ray treatment. A Hugo Awards nomination and a win at the 2009 People’s Choice Awards surely helped fast-track the title to the Blu-ray list, as well.

For those who haven’t already memorized Joss Whedon’s Internet spectacular, here’s a recap:

Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother) stars as Billy, A.K.A. Dr. Horrible, a budding supervillain whose plans for world domination continually go awry. His two goals: getting accepted into the Evil League of Evil, and working up the guts to speak to his laundromat crush Penny, played by Felicia Day (The Guild). The only thing standing in his way is Captain Hammer, Billy’s superhero archnemesis played by Nathan Fillion (Firefly, Castle). With one big score, Billy could get into the E.L.E. and earn the respect of Penny, but only if he can keep her away from the dashing Captain Hammer.

The Blu-ray’s special features are the same as those included on the standard-definition DVD. Some may seem new, but they’re actually the hidden bonuses from the standard DVD’s Easter Egg Hunt, now made much easier to find and access. If a 42-minute movie seems a bit skimpy to warrant buying a Blu-ray disc, then over 90 minutes of bonus material and multiple viewing options should change your mind:

  • Commentaries/Special Version
    • Watch Commentary! The Musical — in this first-of-its-kind, musical meta-commentary, the cast and creators ignore what’s happening on the screen to sing 42 minutes of all-new catchy tunes: “Commentary!” by Company; “Strike” by Company; “Ten-Dollar Solo” by Stacy Shirk (as Groupie #2), Neil Patrick Harris; “Better (Than Neil)” by Nathan Fillion; “It’s All About the Art” by Felicia Day; “Zack’s Flavor” by Zack Whedon, female backups, Joss Whedon; “Nobody Wants to Be Moist” by Simon Helberg (as Moist); “Ninja Ropes” by Jed Whedon, Neil Patrick Harris; “All About Me” by Extras; “Nobody’s Asian in the Movies” by Maurissa Tancharoen; “Heart (Broken)” by Joss Whedon, backups (Jed Whedon, Zack Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen); “Neil’s Turn” by Neil Patrick Harris; “Commentary! (Reprise)” by Company; and, “Steve’s Song” by Steve Berg.
    • Watch Filmmaker’s Commentary — the regular commentary track, in which stars Neil Patrick Harris, Felicia Day, and Nathan Fillion, and writers Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon, Zack Whedon, and Maurissa Tancharoen discuss the movie.
    • Watch with No Commentary — self-explanatory.
  • The Making of Dr. Horrible Featurettes
    • “The Movie” — a behind-the-scenes look at the movie’s production process.
    • “The Music” — a behind-the-scenes look at the writing and recording of the songs.
    • “What Just Happened?” — the cast and creators share their reactions to Dr. Horrible‘s launch, the after-effects of the movie’s release, their popularity at San Diego Comic-Con, the overwhelming response from fans, and how Internet distribution has empowered artists.
    • Play All Three — again, self-explanatory.
  • ELE Application Videos — the top 10 video applications submitted by fans who sought to join the Evil League of Evil.
  • Outtakes — a blooper reel (originally an Easter egg on the standard DVD).
  • Behind-the-Scenes — rehearsal footage (originally an Easter egg on the standard DVD).
  • Evil League of Evil Interview — candid group interview with the members of the ELE (originally an Easter egg on the standard DVD).
  • Teaser Trailer — the Internet’s first glimpse of Dr. Horrible.
  • Set Up
    • Audio — 5.1 Surround Sound, Stereo 2.0.
    • Subtitles — English, Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Chinese (no fake Wiccan this time, like the standard DVD had as part of its Easter Egg Hunt).

New to the Blu-ray is the completely redesigned menu. The standard DVD had a rather basic, amateur-looking menu, whereas the Blu-ray opens with a highly professional one that combines slick graphics and animation. The Dr. Horrible theme song plays in the background, and the selections pop up and expand in the style of a computer’s start menu. Scene selection is split into three sub-menus: Act 1, Act 2, and Act 3, which was how the original web series was divided. The picture and sound are crystal clear, as expected from an HD movie presented on Blu-ray, the colours popping in sharp contrast and minute details coming into focus for closer fan inspection.

The Dr. Horrible Blu-ray is the polar opposite of horrible, so if you already have the standard DVD, it’s well worth the upgrade to the Blu-ray edition.

Order now at Amazon.com:
Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog Blu-ray (Canada)
Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog Blu-ray (US)

Or order directly through the New Video Group website.

The Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog DVD and Blu-ray are distributed by New Video Group.

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