Friday, 20 March 2015


While I wait for the Solar eclipse to darken a solid grey sky, here's a quick update about what's in two new issues of the magazines...

Interzone #257

My 'Laser Fodder' column of DVD & blu-ray reviews:

Extant - season 1 (4/10)
The Haunting Of Black Wood (6/10)
Enemy (4/10)
The Maze Runner (4/10)
The Rendlesham UFO Incident (1/10)
Coherence (2/10)
Dark Planet (7/10)
Game Of Thrones - season 4 (7/10)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (3/10)
Continuum (4/10)
Halo: Nightfall (4/10)
The Device (1/10)
The Signal (5/10)

Black Static #45

My 'Blood Spectrum' column of movies & TV:

The Guest (3/10)
Dark House (3/10)
Grace: The Possession (2/10)
Jessabelle (3/10)
The Babadook (7/10)
The Calling (4/10)
Annabelle (4/10)
The Other (6/10)
Clown (5/10)
REC: Apocalypse (6/10)
Wolves (3/10)
Horns (5/10)
Zombie Resurrection (1/10)
Doc Of The Dead (4/10)

    Dunce Macabre: round-up
Ninjas Vs. Monsters
Hunting The Legend
Scar Tissue
A Haunting At Silver Falls
Kissing Darkness

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Look up!

Here's another post about my collection of diecast models...
Long before British squad the Red Arrows became synonymous, the world over, with aerobatic displays, the RAF had other flying teams, using different planes. My diecast model of the Reds' BAE Hawk is a budget-priced Corgi version at 1:72 scale.

Way back in the 1950s, the Black Arrows (of RAF 111 Squadron) flew Hawker Hunter jets, and the team still hold a couple of world records (including one for 22 aircraft performing a loop in formation). This Hawker Hunter F, mark 6, diecast is 1:72 scale - again by Corgi.  

In the 1960s, the RAF’s 92 Squadron took over, with the Blue Diamonds also flying Hawker Hunters. 

This popular British plane was also used by Belgian display team the Red Devils (aka: Diables Rouges). All three of these diecast models are just variations of the same Corgi product.

The immediate predecessors of the British ‘Reds’ team, an RAF unit called the Yellowjacks, flew in a jet trainer called the Folland Gnat. My diecast model of this plane is by Aviation 72. 

The Gnats were inherited by the Red Arrows and operated until 1980, when the team switched to flying the Hawk. I also have the 1:72 scale Amercom version of this plane, which is a more detailed model than the Corgi diecast (see top), but it's a lighter product using more plastic than metal.      

Friday, 23 January 2015


The new issue of Black Static (#44) includes my 'Blood Spectrum' column of movie & TV reviews. Here's the line-up with ratings:

The Girl Who Knew Too Much (4/10)
Nekromantik (5/10)
Sin City: A Dame To Kill For (7/10) 
Deliver Us From Evil (6/10)
Dead Snow 2: Red Vs. Dead (6/10)
Ragnarok: The Viking Apocalypse (5/10)

    TV 21: State of the Art
Vikings - season 2 (5/10)
True Blood - season 7 (6/10)
The Strain - season 1 (7/10)

    Barmy Surplus: round-up
The Rover
Ganja & Hess

Arriving on the same day, Interzone #256 has my regular column, 'Laser Fodder', of DVD & blu-ray reviews, including:

X-Men: Days Of Future Past (7/10)
Out Of This World: Little Lost Robot (5/10)
Spirited Away (3/10)
The Congress (8/10)
Patema Inverted (6/10)
Left Behind (4/10)
Before I Go To Sleep (5/10)
The Giver (6/10)
Beyond (2/10)
Ejecta (1/10)

Pleased to note how my rambling editorial rant about spoiler-mania chimes in - well, sort of, anyway! - with Jonathan McCalmont's excellent 'Future Interrupted' column of telling comments about the Allure of Ambiguity. Whether considering books or movies, it seems we're both thinking about the importance of interpretations.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Blue Angels

While the Royal Air Force’s flying displays by the Red Arrows are world famous, and the US Air Force has a Thunderbirds team, there’s a US Navy squadron that seems to be less well known outside America. The Blue Angels was first launched in 1946 and, in spite of some federal budget cuts, are still flying today with their standard blue and yellow livery. 

The Blue Angels current jet of choice flying in demos is the Boeing (MD) F-18 Hornet. A premium quality diecast model produced by Hobby Master proved un-affordable, so far, but I have a Motor Max version (in 1:72 scale) that’s a perfect place-holder, until I can find £40 to spare.

Older aircraft flown by the Blue Angels in previous decades, include the McDonnell Douglas F-4J Phantom II (1969-73), which is one of my favourite planes, and I have a Corgi model of this in 1:72 scale  

Another plane from an earlier period is the Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star (alias, T-bird) used by the Blue Angels in the 1950s. The Falcon model is excellent quality in the much preferred 1:72 scale.

The Blue Angels use a US Marines-crewed Lockheed KC-130F Hercules, nicknamed Fat Albert, and my Corgi model of this (in 1:144 scale) makes a superb addition to the collection.

I hope to get older planes like Grumman’s F6F-5 Hellcat and F-11F1 Tiger, also in the Blue Angels colours, but the models of these planes by Falcon and Hobby Master are too expensive.

Monday, 8 December 2014


While the Marvel comicbook Guardians Of The Galaxy was a memorable combination of space opera and superhero action, James Gunn’s movie rejects the original comic’s ‘cosmic Avengers’ - a team of genetically adapted 31st century humans, in favour of a newer but dumber generation, in a line-up of supposedly media-friendly stereotypes. Although it’s good to see a blockbuster ‘space movie’ that is not just another pointless addition to the Star Trek franchise, or an undesirable continuance of the overworked Star Wars universe, it’s a shame that Disney fare has been crudely shoehorned into a Marvel venture, and I suspect that many fans of previous space operas, Farscape and Firefly (TV shows that were frightfully over-rated), might enjoy this GOTG movie far more than I did.

Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon are primary influences on this lone-Earthman-lost-in-space adventure, that’s hampered by its affectation for 1980s references (Kevin Bacon was a cultural hero in Footloose?) with a mix-tape batch of tiredly unimpressive (but, probably, easy to acquire the copyright clearances for?) pop songs that can hardly be considered ‘classic rock’ exemplars. They add no dramatic spirit or sense, or even faddish value, to the interstellar warfare scenario that desperately needed some social concern or political relevance in accessible, if metaphorical, terms.

As green Gamora, a weaponised slave ‘daughter’ of death deity Thanos (introduced in Avengers Assemble), Zoe Saldana can do nothing more than overact and strike blank-faced action poses. As blue Nebula, former Doctor Who starlet Karen Gillan so easily out-classes Saldana, especially in their scenes together, that it’s embarrassing to note the misjudged hierarchy of casting choices. Champion wrestler Dave Bautista makes a fist of vengeful Drax the Destroyer, but never manages to grant his intentionally stilted dialogue the right measure of tongue-in-cheek appeal. Glenn Close plays Nova Prime (leader of the star cops) as if she’s got bills to pay and is having a bad hair daze. Michael Rooker makes noble savage Yondu into a blue-skinned variant of The Walking Dead’s redneck Merle.

Apart from the welcome presence of Benicio del Toro, as the creepy Collector, there is very little here that is appropriately uncanny with eerie alien improbability. Cheap TV show Lexx boasted rather more genuinely imaginative and witty use of its sci-fi weird aspects, and even the Riddick movies had a greater dosage of astronomical and inter-planetary strangeness. Now if only they could hurry up and remake Blake’s 7 on such a widescreen scale as this, that might offer us a lot more chills, and real fun!