Thursday, 17 September 2015


The latest magazine issues from TTA Press have just been published. Interzone #260 includes my ‘Laser Fodder’ column of blu-ray & DVD reviews of recent SF and fantasy releases. Here’s the line-up:

Contamination (4/10)
A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting On Existence (3/10)
The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension (9/10)
Metal Hurlant Chronicles (4/10)
Robot Overlords (6/10)
The Blacklist - seasons 1 & 2 (7/10)
The Hourglass Sanatorium (8/10)

            Gaze Control: round-up
Monsters: Dark Continent
Knights Of Sidonia - series 1
The Phoenix Incident
The Age Of Adaline

Also available, sister mag Black Static #48 has my ‘Blood Spectrum’ column about horror movies & TV on disc...

Housebound (4/10)
White God (6/10)
Jordskott (8/10)
The Town That Dreaded Sundown (4/10)

            Grue Sums: zombies round-up
The Dead 2: India
Dead Rising: Watchtower
Dead Shadows
Fallen Soldiers
Zombie Fight Club
The Walking Dead - season 5 (6/10)

            Laborious: also received
Return To Sender
The Burning
Cottage Country
Into The Grizzly Maze
The Falling

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Flying wheelbarrows

There are several aircraft of a particular style or design, used for both turbo-prop and jet engine planes, with twin tail-booms in a basic fuselage shape that’s nicknamed the ‘wheelbarrow’, for obvious reasons.
The De Havilland FB.9 Vampire was an RAF fighter made in the 1950s. It name fits a plane that looks like a fang-tailed devil. The diecast and plastic model is by Amercom in scale 1:72.  

Nicknamed the ‘fork-tailed devil’, American fighter the Lockheed P-38 Lightning is a lovely silvery model (scale 1:72) with some neat detailing, but I dislike the stand (with a tilt), produced by Oxford Diecast. Most disappointing, in terms of build-quality, is that the propellers are fixed. Even far cheaper, and comparatively tiny, model planes by Corgi - and others - have turning props.  

Armstrong Whitworth AW660 Argosy - was used as an RAF support command plane. A cargo transporter with a rear ramp access, this is notable for perhaps the first of its kind to be nicknamed a ‘whistling wheelbarrow’. The Amercom model is 1:200 scale.  

French air force transport the Nord N2501 Noratlas had clam-shell doors at the back instead of just a ramp built into the fuselage. This diecast model is by Atlas Editions (at a scale of 1:144), and the detail is only basic with static propellers. 

American cargo plane the Fairchild C-119, nicknamed a ‘flying boxcar’, was also used by the Italian Air Force (Aeronautica Militare). The diecast model that I have is from Italeri, in 1:200 scale. 

Disney’s animated movie Planes: Fire & Rescue has a Fairchild C-119 as the character named Cabbie. 

A Royal Navy jet-fighter, the De Havilland 110 Sea Vixen is a large (21cm wingspan) diecast model, of merely average mostly-plastic quality in 1:72 scale, from Altaya.

Italian bi-plane Caproni Ca.3 was a heavy bomber of WW1. Its three engines included a pusher situated behind the pilot, and combo of twin booms and three tail-fins make the aircraft seem like an oddly flimsy kite design by later standards.    

Still on my wants list is the WW2 night fighter, Northrop P-61 Black Widow, produced by Air Force 1 (scale 1:72), in top quality diecast but, so far, it’s hideously expensive. 

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

TTA summer

SF/ fantasy magazine Interzone #259 is out now, and it includes my regular 'Laser Fodder' column of blu-ray and DVD reviews. Here's the line-up, with ratings, for this issue:

Sword Of Vengeance (3/10)
Vice (4/10)
Tokyo Tribe (3/10)
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (8/10)
Jupiter Ascending (6/10)
Last Knights (4/10)
Hawk The Slayer (4/10)

    Redundoes: also received
Project Almanac

Also just published, horror mag Black Static #47 has the latest 'Blood Spectrum' column of my movie reviews, with coverage of...

The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Miss Osbourne (8/10)
Wyrmwood: Road Of The Dead (5/10)
The Haunting Of Radcliffe House (6/10)
The Sleeping Room (4/10)
Dream Home (5/10)
Whiplash (6/10)
Kajaki (4/10)
Twisted Tales (5/10)
Can't Come Out To Play (3/10)
Out Of The Dark (4/10)
Stonehearst Asylum (4/10)
It Follows (7/10)
The Voices (5/10)
The Woman In Black 2: Angel Of Death (4/10)
The Human Centipede 3: Final Sequence (6/10)
Tusk (4/10)

    Mediocritique: also received
Home Sweet Hell
Island Of Death
The Cutting Room
Girls Against Boys
The Loft
Digging Up The Marrow
A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
Unhallowed Ground

Sunday, 17 May 2015


Just watched The Magic Roundabout (2005), which had been on my DVD rental queue for years. Whereas The Clangers was a great sci-fi/ fantasy, the original Magic Roundabout of the 1960s was never as marvellously eccentric as genre entertainment or quite astonishingly weird as cultural artifice for children’s TV.

Stuffed with star voices - including Tom Baker, Jim Broadbent, Joanna Lumley, Bill Nighy, Ian McKellen, Robbie Williams, Ray Winstone, and Kylie Minogue (who also does a new theme song) - as this movie is, there’s no denying it is basically a British attempt on the American market’s dominance of fairytale quests in animated format. 

Here we have Dougal ‘Baggins’ and a fellowship of the runaway train from the village square in the shire, that is clearly designed/ intended to compete with those kung fu penguins, and whatnot. 

It’s a colourful adventure, with a superhero cinema plotline (baddie Zeebad schemes to freeze the world with magic diamonds), and various po-mo jokes (Dylan is a Kinks fan!), that lacks the obvious charms of Wallace and Gromit. Oh well, it’ll soon be time for bed. 

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Flying boats

I have always liked old flying boats and the amphibious type of aircraft rates highly on my top 10 planes list. As throwbacks to a nearly-forgotten era of bygone aviation freedoms, these big sea-planes remain iconic simply because they didn’t need runways. Any stretch of open water made landing and takeoff easy, although it helped if the plane could coast up to a pier or jetty for passengers to disembark or for unloading cargo.

Centrepiece of my flying boats collection of diecast models is a Short S-25 Sunderland III, a BOAC ‘Hythe’ class prop-liner (reg. G-AGKY) named Hungerford. A very heavy model of solid construction, this is a shiny limited edition (at 1:144 scale) from Corgi. 

Also a BOAC aircraft, I have a Boeing 314 Clipper (not pictured). It's another Corgi model, but only a very small one (wingspan: 125mm) of an unknown ‘fit-the-box’ scale.   

The main American flying boat I have is a Consolidated PB2Y-3 Coronado. A highly detailed 1:144 scale model (more plastic than metal, see above) made by Amercom, this diecast product usually comes with a free magazine.

Japanese ‘Emily’ is a Kawanishi H8K2, and this 1:144 scale model from Amercom is another part-work of the fortnightly Giant Warplanes magazine collection.

On my wants list:
German plane Dornier Do X (above) is a Lufthansa aircraft with six engines, and the model is produced by Postage Stamp Planes - scale 1:350, and Russian Beriev A-40 Albatross (rare jet-engined flying-boat only built as a prototype), from DeAgostini.