Tag: sdcc

SDCC 2011: Images In And Around The Con

Here is our first gallery from Comic-Con International 2011 in San Diego. There is a lot to see at the show and it is impossible to capture it all, but we snapped some of our favorite images. This first batch is comprised of random things we saw as we wandered about inside and outside the convention center.









SDCC 09: Jimmy Fallon And Dan DiDio


Jimmy Fallon is not giving up on his dream to sell his comic to a publisher. Having failed with Stan Lee he now goes for DC Comics and pitches his idea to Executive Editor Dan Didio. Will “The Recharger” become a hot new DC property? Watch the video to how the impromptu pitch session goes…

Review: SDCC ’08 Exclusive G.I. Joe Cobra Commander

At the 2007 San Diego Comic Con, Hasbro’s G.I. Joe 25th Anniversary line was just beginning. Despite the line having only been on shelves for a few months, Hasbro still managed to roll out an exclusive figure for the con. This figure was Destro with a paint deco based on an error from the 1990’s, or the “pimp daddy” Destro as fan began calling him. It was a shout out to those fans who had collected the line for years, and they ate it up. This year at SDCC, the climate for the line was different. The 25th Anniversary line now boasts vehicles, five box sets, comic book two-packs and several waves of single carded figures. Hasbro decided to treat the fans to something special for their loyalty to the line with very unique version of Cobra Commander based on the character’s early appearance in the comics. This version of the Commander is just what an exclusive should be – the perfect version of a character available elsewhere, but an exclusive that was target to the loyal fan-base.

Hasbro continues the retro-style packaging of the 25th Anniversary line while also presenting some new artwork. The overall result will be appreciated by those who are ‘mint-on-card’ collectors. The bright yellows and reds contrast to the darker colors of the character art and the figure itself. The MOC presentation will display very nicely alongside last year’s Destro exclusive. Once the figure is ripped from his blister, its uniqueness among the other 25th Anniversary Cobra Commanders becomes more evident.

I won’t be unveiling any secrets by letting everyone know that this Cobra Commander isn’t even technically even a G.I. Joe. The body used was originally sculpted and tooled for the Toht figure from the second ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ series of figures. On this body is a new Cobra Commander head specifically for this version of the figure. Now, being that this construction is a bit of kitbash, some collectors may get up in arms about Hasbro’s re-using of parts and the impurity of the figure’s development. Sure, this is a kitbash, but so is a large percentage of the 25th Anniversary line. In fact, it is my estimation that a minimum of 45% of figures in the line re-use parts from existing ones.

This version of the Commander has a head that is not as dynamic as the one typically used for 25th Anniversary Cobra Commanders. However, this version of the character isn’t supposed to be on the front lines of battle, so the subdued and motionless mask works. As for the body, not using a typical 25th Anniversary sculpt sets this figure apart from the rest of the line. However, this difference is in places that are of little consequence. The key differences are in two areas; the legs are more stiff, but they are confined by the bottom of the jacket and the jacket offers a swivel instead of a rounded joint at the midsection. Indeed these are minor imperfections in a figure that is otherwise identical to the 25th Anniversary figures and he’s a unique and interesting addition this already extensive line.

While the figure itself is superb, the accessories that accompany this version of the Cobra Commander are unfortunately lacking. Looking at the podium in package, you’d think it was a solid plastic piece. It’s not and that was a disappointment for me. While the podium itself is plastic and solid, the Cobra emblem is a flimsy insert. Because I have not read the comic on which this figure is based, I was unsure if this was accurate. The removable mic is neat and, in defense of Hasbro, the podium can now be used in a variety of customized displays, if one chooses to remove the emblem from it. Given the body sculpt, the figure could be used to customize any number of politicians… in all sorts of creative manners.

Speaking of the comic, for a figure based on such a specific moment it would have seemed like an easy tie-in for Hasbro to give buyers a reprint of the issue on which the figure is based as an added bonus. After all, this was a Comic Con exclusive. Another accessory issue is the lack of a name base for the figure. This may seem like a small qualm, but for those who would have liked to display the figure without the podium, it is a noteworthy absence.

So there you have it. The figure is a mixed bag…. which in this writer’s opinion is perfectly acceptable for a SDCC exclusive. The exclusive model really exists for the die-hard collector, whose collections will still benefit from this addition despite its shortcomings. This figure is a unique version of Cobra Commander that will stand out among the endless repaints and re-releases in the 25th Anniversary line. Plus, he’s the only G.I. Joe 25th Anniversary figure thus far to re-use parts designed and sculpted for another line. Sounds like a pretty good exclusive indeed.

Click here to see our full photo gallery of the
Hasbro G.I. Joe Cobra Commander SDCC ’08 Exclusive!

You can read more of C.J.’s musings on film, toys and music over at stunksstage.com.

A Conversation with ‘City of Ember’ Director Gil Kenan

First thing Thursday morning at Comic Con we got the chance to sit down on an outside terrace at the Convention Center to chat with film director Gil Kenan. His first film Monster House, produced by Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg, was very well received and went on to gross nearly double its budget. Gil’s first live action film, City of Ember, will be released on October 10th.

PCZ: Joe Dilworth, along with Dan Clark, for Pop Culture Zoo, talking to Gil Kenan today, director of City of Ember.

GK: I thought that was like a true or false. That was the easiest question I was going to get all day.

PCZ: Yeah, well, sorry.

GK: And we’re done!

PCZ: Thank you very much!


GK: How am I doing? I’m doing great. It’s a beautiful day, I’m excited. I haven’t really been out on the show floor yet. I’m really excited to go out and nerd out. I’ve got a four-month-old daughter and I’ve decked her in a kind of exclusive Skywalker Ranch onesie, and I’m going to dangle her around in front of crowds.

PCZ: That will be great. People will part the way for you.

GK: Or rip the little onesie off her pink body.

PCZ: Or they’ll offer you a lot of money for it. “Dude, where did you get the onesie!”


PCZ: So, City of Ember. That’s your first live action film, is that correct?

GK: That’s right. Yeah, although in some ways, obviously, Monster House is animated through and through, it is sort of that my mode of making film was a good transition. I worked with actors on the stage in the sort of motion capture stage, and making the shots I worked with actually the same people who shot City of Ember who I brought on. So, it was an animated film but it was a good stepping stone towards my first live action effort.

PCZ: Now, I wanted to ask you about the motion capture. Was that project –was that how it was going to be done or was it part of the process you came up with?

GK: Um, no, it was going to be a motion capture film although that still wasn’t – no one knew exactly what that meant yet. [Polar Express] was actually in the first or second week of shooting. Maybe they hadn’t even started shooting yet. It was something right in that zone. I came from a life of making experimental films that were sometimes live action, sometimes stop motion, sometimes pixelation, and so I was ready to wrap. I knew that as long as I had a story to tell I could tell it with whatever tools were right in front of me. So I was given a set of tools and it was kind of cool because it was like the Wild West, no one really knew how to make a movie this way or what the movie should look like. I got to sort of corral it and lead it to the theater.

PCZ: Excellent. Okay, moving over to doing live action with City of Ember – did making it seem a little easier since you didn’t have to do the motion capture?

GK: No, every movie is really, really hard. It’s like, it should be hard. If making movies was easy then I don’t think that they would be as good or it wouldn’t be as much fun to see them. Every movie presents its own problems and disasters. We shot in Belfast, Northern Ireland, really far from home in a summer where it rained every single day for the entire duration of our stay. But I got to build an enormous city. I literally got to build a set the scale of which you don’t see any more. I went from a film that was completely virtual to one where I knew I didn’t want it to be like a green screen set extension kind of a film. I wanted my actors to be able to live in a world and interact and for there to be a sort of organic sense of life to the place. We got that when we built Ember.

PCZ: Now, how was location shooting? Was that something that was new to you?

GK: Yeah. I want to do more. I mean, the film is such a controlled story that it almost all takes place within the confines of the city under ground and so location shooting was limited to a handful of days. The majority of the shooting was all in this enormous set. And so the hardest thing was getting my light because I had to wait for the rain to stop and the clouds to move. That stuff’s a bummer. The next time I shoot it’s going to be in the desert. I want to know I’m going to get my light and I’m gonna shoot it.

PCZ: We’re down from Portland so we empathize.

GK: That’s funny. I was just talking to Tim Robbins because he might be doing a movie up in Portland, and by the way Portland is one of my favorite cities in the world, it’s an amazing place. I was telling [Tim] he should go talk to Gus Van Sant about the nature of shooting there because in a way you sort of have to make peace with the gods and know that part of the quality of the film shot in Portland is that no two shots will look alike. It’s almost like a patchwork quilt of light and in a way that sort of defines the look of it and its cool. It’s really good. But that’s not the movie I was making, and so I had to have some control.

PCZ: Were you a fan of the books prior to this?

GK: What books?


GK: I was. When I started there was actually only a manuscript for the original novel. It hadn’t been published yet and there was no sequel, or prequel, or whatever. I read it, it blew my mind. I called the next morning and said I had to make the movie, and then I came in two days later and pitched to Tom Hanks’ company. I pitched them a three hour version of the film without breathing and willed them into submission.

PCZ: They’re like “Okay, fine. You have to do it. Go.”

GK: I used my Jedi mind trick. “I will be doing this movie.” “You will be making this movie.”

PCZ: Was there anything that you had to lose from the books that you really felt…

GK: It wasn’t about losing, it was sort of about adding. The books are a word-based puzzle, and I knew that my job as a director was to create something visual, something cinematic. So it was actually kind of 
one of the challenges I enjoyed the most in this process, was taking something that works well on a page and turning it into something kind of involving, cinematic, visual puzzle.

PCZ: Following up on that, Walden Media is fairly new with Prince Caspian and the “Narnia” series, how was it working with Walden Media and especially translating their printed works to the screen?

GK: It was great. They have a real respect for stories, for writers. They’re very novel-friendly, and also to their credit they really embraced all the things that make this story great. Not a lot of companies would have gone out on a limb on a movie like “Ember”. So it’s been a really great relationship.

PCZ: Fantastic.

GK: Well, I’ve enjoyed our chat.

PCZ: Likewise.

Thank you very much to Gil for his time at Comic Con and to Walden Media for the opportunity to talk to him.

SDCC 08: Transformers Fans Still Rabid for ‘Robots in Disguise’

During a Hasbro panel at this year’s San Diego Comic Con, the Transformers brand team presented their plans for the the remainder of this year and into 2009. Thanks to the blockbuster success of the live-action feature film, the Transformers brand had a banner year in 2007. Hasbro learned that they had not only a collector’s property but a strong children’s brand as well. While there was crossover between demographics through additional movie toys, Universe Legends and Robot Heroes, this past year saw the company catering lines to specific demographics. For adult collectors, Hasbro developed the ‘Transformers: Universe’ line to focus on classic characters redone with updated technology. For the kids, there was the animated television series and its accompanying line.

As strong as this two-pronged sales model was in 2008, next year looks to be another banner year for the brand. Transformers will not only be celebrating their 25th anniversary but also storming back into the mainstream once again with the tent pole summer film, Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen. Despite Hasbro’s reluctance to reveal upcoming product or details on the film, they were more than ready to reveal their plans to honor the Transformers brand for its success.

Unlike the 25th anniversary G.I. Joe line, which is focused primary on the brand’s strongest period during the era of the original Marvel comic and Sunbow animated series, Transformers will celebrate all iterations of the line. From a re-issue of original hero Optimus Prime to characters from various themes, these new products will be released under the banner of ‘Transformers: Universe’. As products from the animated series and movie will primarily carry the youth/casual shopper market, the 25th anniversary line will cater to the collector market. Being the first piece, Optimus Prime will be packaged as a box set with both a DVD containing the first three episodes of the original show as well as a comic. This set will serve as a perfect, inclusive “meet the Transformers” package for collectors and newcomers alike. Releases thereafter will be more specific, giving fans characters and products they want to see. The current Robot Heroes, Universe, and Universe Legends lines are slated to include characters from Generation 1, Beast Wars, Generation 2, and many more.

Needless to say, the fans attend Hasbro’s Transformers panel were ecstatic… it was fantastic to witness. In the internet age, message boards and fan forums are often categorized not by the quietly-content and excited majority but by the angry, bitter and never-satisfied minority that feels the need to whine about a missing racing stripe or the size of a weapon or decal. Seeing the excited and satisfied fanbase represented at the panel was a treat, and Hasbro is certainly going to give them plenty to cheer about in the year to come!

You can read more of C.J.’s musings on film, toys and music over at stunksstage.com.

Click here to see our full photo gallery from the Hasbro Transformers panel at the 2008 San Diego Comic Con!