Venganza Media Gazette

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Pre-Order Alert: Sideshow Darth Vader Premium Format Figure



Join me.  It is the only way

Sideshow Collectibles has put up for pre-order their latest 1/4 scale Premium Format Figure in the Star Wars line — Darth Vader.

Inspired by one of the most climactic duels in cinematic history, Darth Vader descends the steps of a Death Star themed base. With his light-up crimson lightsaber at the ready, the commanding villain is prepared to engage in mortal combat and claim victory for the Galactic Empire. Every detail of the Sith Lords costume, from his iconic helmet to his sweeping black cape, have been faithfully recreated as seen on screen in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.

The figure stands 26.5-inches high with the giant base, and is the first time in nearly 10 years that Sideshow has offered the most iconic of all Star Wars characters.  So place your order now at Sideshow Collectibles!

March 5, 2015 Posted by | Movies, Star Wars | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Pre-Order Alert: Sideshow Darth Vader Premium Format Figure

Rumor: Ant-Man Marvel Legends Figure to be Walgreens Exclusive?




Could the next Walgreens exclusive Hasbro Marvel Legends figure be Ant-Man?  Read on for why this now seems likely.

Two bits of news came to us two days apart.  Taken separately they mean nothing, but put together a pattern seems to form.

First we received an inside tip from a HYDRA Agent at Walgreens.  The Agent sent a screenshot showing that the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron Marvel Legends figures, the ones with the Odin Build-A-Figure, are now in the Walgreens system.  More interesting, though, is that there were eight individual UPC codes as shown in the below image:

Walgreens Avengers Legends UPCs


This new wave of Marvel Legends is slated to have seven figures:  Iron Fist, Hawkeye, Captain Marvel, Thor, Sentry, Scarlet Witch, and Machine Man.  As these figures ship in cases of eight the standard case will have two of the in-demand classic Hawkeye figure.

I was confused as to what the eighth UPC could be, until Walgreens Toy Buyer Steven Anne tweeted:


As Ant-Man’s 2006 Comic was titled Irredeemable Ant-Man it is likely that Anne may be hinting at an exclusive of the figure tying into this summer’s upcoming film.

Rumors of an Ant-Man Marvel Legends figure have been swirling on social media recently, though there was no consensus on if there would be only one Ant-Man figure or an entire Ant-Man themed wave of Marvel Legends.  The rumors were consistent in that the figure(s) would be an exclusive, with some indicating Target as the retailer who would carry it.

While confirmation will likely come at next month’s Toy Fair International, it seems likely now that Ant-Man will be a Walgreens exclusive.

Walgreens is a new retailer to carry exclusive Hasbro collectible figures.  They started in 2014 with Agent Venom in the Marvel Legends line as well as a Boba Fett figure in the 6-inch Star Wars Black Series line.

Given that Anne’s tweet also mentions “electryfying” speculation has already begun that it may reference another Star Wars exclusive figure as well.  (Let the speculation begin–an electrified Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker from the end of Return of the Jedi?)

We will keep you updated for the information!

For news on Marvel Legends figures follow Marvelicious Toys on Facebook and Twitter, and watch for Toy Fair coverage on the video podcast at

For news on Star Wars figures follow Star Wars Action News on Facebook and Twitter.  We will also be covering Toy Fair news on our show at

January 13, 2015 Posted by | Comic Books, Movies, News, Star Wars | , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Rumor: Ant-Man Marvel Legends Figure to be Walgreens Exclusive?

Pre-Order Alert: Hot Toys Quarter-Scale Boba Fett Figure

Hot Toys - Star Wars - Episode VI Return of the Jedi - Boba Fett Collectible Figure_PR18

The ultimate bounty from Hot Toys is now available for Pre-Order – their Quarter Scale Return of the Jedi Boba Fett Figure.

In July Hot Toys announced they had obtained the rights to sell figures based on the Star Wars films.  The only releases so far had been in their 1/6 scale (12-inch) Movie Masterpiece Series line.  Boba Fett is the first release in their quarter-scale (18-inch) line of figures, bringing a level of quality, articulation, and accessories never before seen in Star Wars figures of this scale.

In terms of size, this figure matches a Sideshow Collectibles Premium Format Figure, or figures in Diamond Select Toys’ (now cancelled) quarter-scale figure line.  But while the Sideshow “figure” is really a statue, and the Diamond Select Toys’ figure was a toy that did not attempt realistic likenesses and high articulation, Hot Toys is bringing the detail of their Movie Masterpiece figures to this giant size.

Standing nearly 18-inches tall (45cm to be exact), this Boba Fett figure has a helmet with an articulated rangefinder and  extremely detailed Mandolorian armor designed to match the bounty hunter’s appearance in Return of the Jedi.  Underneath that armor you’ll find over 30 points of articulation allowing a huge variety of poses.  And more, you get seven interchangable hands for different gestures, and a huge number of accessories including two blaster rifles (regular and damaged), a survival knife, an anti-security blade, and more!  Plus if you get the Special Edition (exclusively through Sideshow Collectibles) you also get  a blaster sidearm with holster which Boba Fett has in Star Wars: Episode V Empire Strikes Back.
Don’t miss the chance to add the fearsome bounty hunter to your prized collection!

 Find out all the details and pre-order now at Sideshow Collectibles!

December 16, 2014 Posted by | Movies, News, Star Wars | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Pre-Order Alert: Hot Toys Quarter-Scale Boba Fett Figure

40 Year-Old-Critic: Return of the Jedi (1983)

return_of_the_jedi_ver1In The 40-Year-Old Critic, Venganza Media creator and host Arnie Carvalho recalls a memorable film for each year of his life. This series appears daily on the Venganza Media Gazette.

See a list of all reviews

Anticipation for a film can be like great sex.

The foreplay starts when the film is announced, giving fans a hint that something great is to come. The slow build of anticipation can be excitingly agonizing. News bits are teased like a nibble on your earlobe, pictures are released from the set — the brief flashes making moviegoers anxious for the full reveal — and quotes tease the mind with plot threads as vague as an erect nipple through a cotton blouse. Finally, it all climaxes on the opening weekend; and that first viewing can sometimes be even better than the build up, or it can be a frustrating experience as the film exposes itself as something lesser than the fantasy built up in your mind.

To properly hype a film is a delicate dance. Studio marketing teams must be careful not to show too much too quickly, while still ensuring the filmgoer remains not only interested, but almost intoxicated by the perfume of previews.

I learned all of this as an 8-year-old. The film that taught me this lesson was Return of the Jedi.

Arnie's childhood soccer team was The Force to be reckoned with.

Arnie’s childhood soccer team was The Force to be reckoned with.

Up until the spring of 1983 moviegoing was always spurred by an adult in my life.  Even when I picked the film we attended I chose by simply looking at the newspaper listings, with no knowledge of release dates or whether the film was leaving theaters soon.

I usually became aware of a film upon its release. As mentioned in yesterday’s E.T. article, I watched Siskel & Ebert At The Movies weekly to learn about new films, but until their review aired I knew nothing about new movies being made. I may have seen an ad or two on television or trailers before other movies started, but I was too young for any of that to grab my attention.

I was too young to plan.

But that started to change after The Empire Strikes Back, with its unresolved cliffhanger of an ending. Being only 5 years old when I first saw Empire, I couldn’t fathom waiting three years for a conclusion to a story. After all, that was more than half my lifetime!

Primarily due to the toys, Star Wars was a constant topic of playground conversation, and throughout first, second, and third grade rumors about the next Star Wars film spread through the grapevine like urban legend.

“George Lucas was going to make Return of the Jedi three years after Empire, just as Empire was three years after Star Wars!”

"Are you done yet???"  Arnie's sister builds his AT-AT on Christmas day, 1982.

“Are you done yet???” Arnie’s sister builds his AT-AT on Christmas day, 1982.

“Then he’s planning to take a break for a few years, and release the next movie — Episode I — in 1989!”

To this day I don’t know how much of the “news” I heard about future Star Wars films was made up, how much came from news and magazines — passed down from parent to child — or how much I’ve learned since that has retroactively mingled in my imaginings.

What I do remember is the anticipation — for years — of that next Star Wars film.

I was not a child who dealt well with suspense. Commercial breaks were often agonizing torture, and season-finale cliffhangers would cause me physical pain — the need to know. But for three years I battled, wanting so badly to see what happened in the final Star Wars film.

Yet, despite all the anguish and all the talk about that third film it never felt real until late 1982 — six months before Return of the Jedi‘s release. When the trailers and magazine articles started, when toys started to hit shelves bearing the new, red Return of the Jedi logo, when bookstores had entire displays of Star Wars books promoting the upcoming film… that was when 8-year-old Arnie went insane.

It's finally done!

It’s finally done!

Toys, books, and magazines were all purchased in anticipation of this film — surrogates I used to try and satiate my desires until the Jedi’s release. My godparents would placate me with a deal: If I did good in school that week, then on Saturday they would take me to buy one action figure.

ONE!?!?!  But there were dozens on the store shelves, and so many more to come! I would watch Saturday morning cartoons and make lists of all the figures being released. I took a cardback and would X off each figure I owned as a way of marking time until I could have them all.

My parents, however, were not as indulgent regarding toys. They did however encourage me to read, and so I remember one Sunday going to the (now closed) local bookshop, The Book Emporium. There I saw a massive display of Star Wars novels, and a poster promoting the upcoming release of a Return of the Jedi novelization! That image of two hands clasping the blue lightsaber was burned into my brain, and to this day it is my iconic image of that film. I couldn’t bear it so I badgered my father to buy me all the Star Wars books, and I took my pleasures where I could — reading the novelizations of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back to fully re-experience those stories before seeing Return of the Jedi.

Arnie - Star Wars Pics 1980 through 1983 6

Arnie’s 1983 Birthday Cake

Finally, two weeks before the film was out, the novelization by James Kahn was in stores. I bought it the Saturday after it was released and tore into it. I couldn’t wait any longer for Return of the Jedi — the thirteen days until the film would be in theaters was agonizing.  I had to have it now. I read like I’d never read before, page after page, excited for every new reveal.

It was a feeling like I was doing something naughty. There was forbidden knowledge in this book! I knew things no one else on the playground knew!

So excited was I about my insight into this upcoming movie that I would regale my sister Susan with anecdotes from the novel. Perhaps wanting me to have a pure movie experience (perhaps just wanting to shut me up), she introduced me to the concept of what we now call a “spoiler.”

She asked me if I was ruining the movie by knowing all about it before I saw it. Now, I wanted to see this movie more than I wanted air to breathe, so I promised her I would not read the last 50 pages. The film’s ending I would save for the screen.

But the waiting was killing me. Never before had I paid careful attention to a film’s opening date, but that year I knew Return of the Jedi would open on May 25. I had never been to an evening movie before — my parents always saved money by taking me to matinees — but Susan promised to take me opening night. My childhood best friend Stuart, now my co-host on Now Playing Podcast, also joined us.

We went early; Susan knowing that her brother wasn’t the only one anxious for Jedi. Still, the line was long at the Fox Theater in Springfield. It ran the full length of the strip mall, and for a half-hour we stood right outside the toy store where I practically drooled over the giant Star Wars toy display in the window.

ROTJ Vader

Vader walked the line at our Return of the Jedi screening.

Walking down the line, working the crowd, was Darth Vader. I’d seen costumed characters before on stage shows, and sometimes superheroes would appear at that very same toy store. But those were scheduled appearances. I had no concept of cosplay, and I was somewhat frightened by this tall man carrying the Kenner lightsaber. Part of me knew he wasn’t the real Darth Vader, and part of me hoped he was indeed the Sith Lord come to terrorize my town.

When we got to the box office we were told there were only 3 tickets left for the film — all of us could get in, but we couldn’t sit together. My sister was flummoxed by this, as we were two children in her care for the night.

But I didn’t care who I sat by, or didn’t sit by, just get me in that theater! Sorry Stuart. Sorry Susan. I cared more about seeing Return of the Jedi than spending time with either of you!

That was another radical shift. Up until that point in my life, movies were always a social event. I couldn’t imagine watching a movie alone, and going to a cinema was always as much about time with friends and family as it was the film itself.

Not this time. This time Return of the Jedi and I had to be together. Now.

So in we went. I had an end-of-the-aisle seat next to a stranger. Before the lights dimmed I tried to look around and see where Stuart and Susan were seated, but the theater was large and soon I ceased to care. They never once entered my thoughts as I was transported at 0.5-past-lightspeed to a galaxy far, far away.

In 1983 there was no better birthday gift for Arnie than an Ewok village.

In 1983 there was no better birthday gift for Arnie than an Ewok village.

The film moved so fast and had so many vivid creature designs that I instantly forgot everything I had read in the book. On the page I had only my own imaginings, and a few photos in the middle of the novel, to aid in the visualization of the story. Now, with dancing Twi’leks, organ-playing muppets, and slithering Hutts the film consumed me whole — as the Rancor would to the Gamorrean guard. The Emperor, the red-robed Royal Guards, the speeder bikes, they enthralled me. But my favorite were the Ewoks. Some have claimed the fierce teddy bears were Lucas’ crass marketing attempt to appeal to children. It worked. I was hooked by these furry, man-eating creatures, and immediately every Ewok figure was at the top of my toy-buying list.

When the Death Star exploded, I didn’t care that it was a retread of the same climax Lucas had done six years earlier, the one I’d watched on VHS nearly every day after school. Evil was defeated. That was what mattered.

This film lived up to what I wanted at that age. It was love-at-first-viewing, and like any new romance the euphoria made me proclaim it the best movie I’d ever seen. I knew I had seen E.T. 12 times in theaters the year before, so I would not be satisfied until I’d seen Jedi 13 times and it could claim my record.

(At 17 viewings, counting the ‘97 rerelease and a convention screening, Jedi is to this day the movie I’ve seen most often theatrically.)

As an adult I feel Return of the Jedi, while still very good, is by far the weakest of the three original Star Wars films. The pacing is downright odd, with too much time spent rescuing Han Solo in a subplot far removed from the main action of the saga. Lucas had painted himself into a corner and it took a long side-trip to the Pit of Carkoon to fix it. Yoda’s death was convenient, Luke and Leia’s sibling relationship was contrived, and Han Solo was neutered.

"Obi-Wan, invite the creepy guy to join us, did you?"

“Obi-Wan, invite the creepy guy to join us, did you?”

Jedi was also the first Star Wars film where I felt Lucas was too ambitious and the technology was not able to realize his vision. From Imperial Walkers to Tauntauns to Landspeeders to Yoda, the effects wizards in Lucas’ employ had made it all work in his previous films. But in Jedi the seams were showing — quite literally in the case of the puppets in Jabba’s palace. From the shoddy matting of the Rancor to the poor articulation in the Ewok faces, this is the Star Wars film that looks the most fake.


Lucas would try to fix some of these technical issues in myriad re-releases, starting with the Special Edition in 1997. Each time Jedi got a little worse, right down to the creepy insertion of Hayden Christensen at the end, and Darth Vader’s lame battle cry of “Noooooo.”

Still, despite these issues, the core storyline of Vader’s redemption, a son’s determination to save his father, and the final battle between good and evil makes this a worthy entry in the Star Wars franchise.

But this experience — anticipating a film so hotly that I was near-obsessed — was euphoric. To this day few experiences in my life are as pleasurable as the anticipation for a great, exciting movie.

Arnie - Star Wars Pics 1980 through 1983 1

More birthday gifts from 1983

It was this level of hype I had for the remake of Friday the 13th that launched Now Playing Podcast’s first retrospective series. That same hype for The Avengers, more than one year before its release, instigated Now Playing’s Marvel Movie Retrospective.

As for future hype, I look at Star Wars Episode VII. I believed for 30 years that the Star Wars story ended with Return of the Jedi, but Lucas’ decision to retire — combined with Disney shareholders’ lust for profit — mean the story will continue. Part of me feels like this is a spinoff, a story based on characters created by George Lucas. Episode VII is in completely unnecessary, save for the Disney folks who watch it with dollar signs in their eyes.

But… it could be good. The recent reveal of an X-Wing is pulling at my nostalgic love for the original trilogy. Certainly all the marketers at Disney will try to seduce me. The images revealed, the first trailers, will all be Episode VII courting me, teasing me, trying to gain my interest and make me excited. Time will tell if Star Wars can still get me hot and bothered 32 years later.

But I’ll never forget my first, and as such Return of the Jedi will always be special.

Arnie is a movie critic for Now Playing Podcast, a book reviewer for the Books & Nachos podcast, and co-host of the collecting podcasts Star Wars Action News and Marvelicious Toys.  You can follow him on Twitter @thearniec

August 13, 2014 Posted by | 40-Year-Old Critic, Marvelicious Toys, Movies, Podcasts, Reviews, Star Wars, Star Wars Action News | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The 40-Year-Old Critic – Introduction


40-Year-Old-Arnie-Master-working-CloseUp-2In exactly 40 days I turn 40 years old.

That milestone is not one without heft.  If the actuarial tables for American males are to be believed, I’m likely at least halfway through my time on this planet.  Each day I am probably closer to my death than to my birth.  Now is the time to start measuring life by the things I’ll never do instead of the things I could do.  It’s a time to reflect on what has been and determine what will be for the rest of my days.

The usual things come to mind when I ponder my life thus far:  My loving, supportive, smart, and funny wife, Marjorie.  My long-time best friend, Stuart.  My godparents, who helped raise me and taught me to be analytical.  My sister, who exposed me to literature and deconstructionist themes.  My father, who gave me a cynical view, a strange sense of humor, and a love of classical music.

But what all these people have in common is a strong memory of watching films together; sitting in a dimly lit cinema, absorbed by the images on the screen.

Marjorie and I have seen so many films together that I doubt I could compile a comprehensive list. but a few stand out.  Our first film as a married couple, watched in a midnight release on our honeymoon, was Star Wars:  Attack of the Clones.  The projector broke.  We sat for 3 hours past the planned midnight start time before the movie began.  I can still sing that New Orleans’ theater’s jingle for popcorn and candy, which played on a loop the entire time.

Another memorable movie trip was to see Richard Linklater’s Before Sunset. It was a limited release so we had to drive 4 hours each way just to watch the film, and I was so tired on the return trip we had to get a hotel.

I remember Ocean’s 11 — a movie with such a strong feel-good vibe that it saved our Sunday.  We walked into the theater in the most sour of moods, and left extremely happy.

I remember watching Fight Club on video.  Marjorie was tired so she went to sleep, and the next day all I could talk about was how she had to see that film–the first movie that I felt she and I had to share as a couple versus being able to experience on my own.

Stuart and I have seen films together since 1982.  I remember going with him to see E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial and Return of the Jedi.  Many more movies followed, but there are standouts. Charlie Sheen’s The Wraith, which we saw hoping for horror but got car races and heavy metal instead.  We hated it at the time, but I later came to love this film for what it was (and the Sherilyn Fenn waterfall scene).  We saw The Gate the weekend it opened, and bemoaned our choice for days.  Not all the movies we watched were terrible — I first saw The Godfather trilogy in Stuart’s Chicago apartment, and he introduced me to Apocalypse Now and Blade Runner as part of a film noir marathon we had together as teens.

For years Stuart and I had a standing Christmas night movie appointment.  He was in town to spend the holiday with family, and so a dinner of Chinese food and a movie viewing was had. Jackie Brown was the most memorable of those Christmas viewings, and we had wildly different reactions to Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction follow-up.


But from European Vacation to Jaws 3-D to The Devil’s Rejects, Explorers, JFK, The Lawnmower Man and hundreds more, Stuart and I are still going to movies together.

My sister Susan took me to see my first R-rated film, Beverly Hills Cop.  She also exposed me to many movies I’d have not seen in my youth without her influence, including Ghostbusters and Lady and the Tramp.  She is much older than I, so our movie time together has been sparse, but always memorable, including E.T., Return of the Jedi, and Bridget Jones’ Diary.  (Though she staunchly refused to join me for a Hellraiser marathon.)

Yes, throughout the years my romantic, familial, and friend relationships have all involved, and in some ways been shaped by, movies.  Sometimes there is no quicker way to look into a person’s soul than to ask what films they cherish.  So it seems appropriate that to celebrate my 40th birthday I look back at 40 years of cinema.

Each day, from now until my birthday on September 12th, I will post an article looking back at the one film from each year of my life that impacted me most.  This may not be my favorite film, it may not even be a film I like, but the one that had the longest-lasting impact on me and helped shape my view of the world.

I hope you’ll join me each day as I reflect on my lifetime of cinema.




August 3, 2014 Posted by | 40-Year-Old Critic, Movies, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Pre-Order Alert: eFX Collectibles Biker Scout Helmet and Pistol



Up for pre-order now from eFX Collectibles is their Legend Edition Scout Trooper Helmet & Pistol!  This is described by eFX as “the most accurate reproduction of this incredible helmet produced to date.”  The master molds for the helmet were made from the original master tools ILM used to make the helmets used for Return of the Jedi, and then an original ILM decal sheet was used to make the markings and symbols on the helmet.  Finally the helmet is made in ABS, just like the on-screen prop helmets.

Additionally this helmet comes with a replica Biker Scout Pistol, cast from an original, screen-used prop!

The price is $899 and, limited to 500 pieces, this is sure to sell out fast.  So if you want yours head to eFX’s web site now!

July 8, 2014 Posted by | Movies, News, Podcasts, Star Wars, Star Wars Action News | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Pre-Order Alert: eFX Collectibles Biker Scout Helmet and Pistol