Thoughts on Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice

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Mar 312016
Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice

Now it’s a party – Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice


Had a chance to see Batman V Superman yesterday. Didn’t hate it but I think it’s “just ok”. Some thoughts on it follow and there are spoilers so don’t read this if spoilers bother you.

A couple of things about Batman V Superman first and foremost. One, I think it’s fair to say at this point that the films director, Zack Snyder lacks a fundamental understanding of the characters he’s making films about. Second, this film is rated PG-13 and DC/Warner will market the crap outta this to kids but this isn’t really suitable for young kids. More on that in a minute.

I thought Ben Affleck makes an interesting Batman. This is sort of remarkable given the material he had to work with. If you liked Henry Cavill as Superman in Man of Steel then you’ll like him here too. He’s the same sort of moody Superman here that he was in MoS so I don’t really have much to say about him. Jesse Isenberg’s Lex Luthor is a hot mess. I wasn’t sold at all on Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman but she literally saves the day and the entire film from being a giant POS.

So Batman….doesn’t just beat all the bad guys up. He kills them, he kills a lot of them and he works hard to kill them in creative ways. At one point he launches the Batmobile through a guys face because just shooting them or running them off the road isn’t murdery enough I guess.. Oh and the few guys that he actually only beats into submission and leaves for the police to find? He brands them with the bat symbol. Literally brands them with a red hot bat-brand. This is so they can be beaten to death by other inmates when they get to prison. It’s a pretty dark Batman. Zack Snyder got a lot of flak because

Man of Steel was also dark and Superman was directly responsible for a lot of innocent deaths in that film. That theme is reinforced in Batman V Superman in a sort of IN YOUR FACE HATERS manner. Snyder didn’t like the reactions he got from fans and critics and parts of this film feel sort of like a big middle finger to all of those people.

In spite of this Afflecks Batman is pretty interesting. This isn’t a Batman origin story (although we get the obligatory scene of the the elder Waynes being murdered. Everyone knows this is what happened, I think we can stop wasting time with this. At this point the only reason to show this anymore is to see if you can make a crueler version of this than the last guy at the helm of a Batman film. Enough already).

Batman is tired, he’s been at this for 20+ years and him and Alfred are both feeling it. They’re both battered and cynical but with good reason. This is reinforced by showing you a Robin costume that’s covered in bloody writing courtesy of the Joker. These guys have a lot of baggage. But they know it and they also admit and have to come to terms with the fact that they are both criminals just like the people they’ve been hunting (and killing) for two decades. My biggest issue with Batman in this film was the use of prophetic dream sequences to advance the plot. That was lazy and even though I’m not a Batman super nerd, I’m pretty sure it’s completely out of character for Batman.

Lex Luthor – Jesse Isenberg actually starts out OK in this role. He’s like an arrogant tech millennial/trust fund baby and he pulls that off.. He’s got daddy’s money and some success of his own. He’s arrogant and socially awkward and entitled. Perfect. Then suddenly and for no apparent reason he gets kind of twitchy and hysterical. It’s like the director told him “that’s great but I need to you channel some Heath Ledger Joker now” or something and it’s just absurd and not very entertaining to watch.

Wonder Woman – pretty great! As I mentioned above I think that she sort of saves the day figuratively and literally. She’s a minor player at first. In fact, she doesn’t want to be here at all. She reveals her motivation for being around early on but even that isn’t clear until you see what she’s talking about. She doesn’t have to do anything but chooses to help out in spite of her feelings about the world in general. Then when she reveals herself she’s a total badass.

This movie suffers from being too long and using shoddy plot devices to move the story along. Sometimes the characters suddenly change their minds for seemingly random reasons or wonky plot mechanics. This is particularly jarring during the big Bat vs Supes fight (which seemingly could have been avoided entirely by simply talking to each other). This film also has a disappointing ending that’s made worse by the gimmick at the very end that’s a ham fisted setup for the next film. Parents are going to have to do a lot of explaining, particularly if your children are big Superman fans.

The kid thing – Batman V Superman is slow. Like S….L…..O……W at times. Run time is two and half hours. It’s probably about 30 minutes too long. Because of this and how dark and murdery it is I think that young kids might have a tough time with this due to a combination of not being entertained enough and the dark tone of the story being possibly a little scary.

Airbrush Cleaning Kit Review by Master Airbrush

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Feb 032016


The airbrush cleaning kit by Master Airbrush

The airbrush cleaning kit by Master Airbrush

I recently posted an article about saving money on airbrush cleaners by using regular household or automotive cleaning products. That was intended for use between color changes and post paint session cleanups. Today we’re going a little deeper with an airbrush cleaning kit that you’ll find helpful when you really need to strip down your airbrush to it’s component parts and give it a thorough scrubbing.

The Master Airbrush Brand Airbrush Cleaning Kit

The Master Airbrush brand airbrush cleaning kit gives you lots of useful tools for breaking down your airbrush when you need to perform a thorough cleaning due to a clog or other issue and for that occasional deep clean.

The airbrush cleaning kit includes a large brush for cleaning the airbrush body, it includes a variety of small micro brushes for cleaning the barrel, tip and cap. These brushes include firm and soft bristle versions. There’s also a set of micro needles for cleaning out the tiniest passages (be very gentle with these as you don’t want to damage any small delicate parts).

There’s also a double ended pick tool that is useful for removing the rubber seals or gaskets if necessary for cleaning or when replacing them.

Lastly there’s a 16 ounce bottom feed wash bottle for your cleaning solution or rinse water. I actually recommend having two of these, one for airbrush cleaner and one for clean water. You can pick up one of these wash bottles on Amazon at this link.

These bottom feed plastic economy wash bottles make great airbrush wash bottles for airbrush cleaner and clean rinse water

These bottom feed plastic economy wash bottles make great airbrush wash bottles for airbrush cleaner and clean rinse water

One thing that this kit (or any other commercially available kit that I’ve looked at) doesn’t have is some airbrush lubricant. Fortunately this can also be found on Amazon and there are a couple different choices. You can go with the Iwata Medea Super Lube or the Badger REGDAB (that’s actually
Badger spelled backwards for some reason) airbrush lube. Either one is a fine choice as they both do the same thing. The REGDAB airbrush lube is a one ounce bottle and costs around $7 to $8. The Iwata Medea Super Lube is .33 ounce and costs about $12. If you can’t find either of those products some “3 in 1 Machine Oil” will also work fine and is the least expensive at around five dollars for a 3 ounce can, which you can probably find at your local hardware store You’re going to be using this very sparingly so any of these products should last you for years of airbrushing. In a future post I’ll go over the uses for airbrush lube.

Badger REGDAB airbrush lubricant/needle juice for keeping your airbrush operating smoothly

Badger REGDAB airbrush lubricant/needle juice for keeping your airbrush operating smoothly

The Master Airbrush, airbrush cleaning kit is nice because other than a lubricant it has everything you need to clean and maintain your airbrush in one complete package. It’s also very reasonably priced on Amazon at $20 including free two day shipping for Prime members.

Get your own Master Airbrush brand airbrush cleaning kit here!

Review – Funko Smugglers Bounty Star Wars Subscription Box The Resistance

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Jan 282016

The second Funko Smugglers Bounty Star Wars subscription box has arrived. I’ll break down the contents and tell you what I think about this subscription box now that I’ve received two of them. If you’re interested in reading my review of the first Funko Star Wars Smugglers Bounty box you can find that here.

Just What Is the Funko Smugglers Bounty Subscription Box?

Funko Star Wars Smugglers Bounty The Resistance subscription gift box

Funko Star Wars Smugglers Bounty The Resistance subscription gift box

If you’re familiar with Loot Crate, Nerd Block or other gift subscription boxes then you’ll have an idea of what this is. It’s the same idea, you sign up for a subscription and receive a box of random goodies every so often, as defined by the terms of your subscription. This is typically once a month, every other month or quarterly depending on the service.

The Smugglers Bounty box comes every other month and is a partnership between Funko and Lucasfilm that is themed entirely for Star Wars and contains items made by Funko and available exclusively via the subscription box. The cost for this box is $25 plus an additional $6.95 for shipping in the US. If you’re outside the US you may be subject to a higher shipping fee and/or taxes and import fees depending on your location. The Smugglers Bounty box bills and ships every other month. You can subscribe month to month or sign up for a longer subscription term. Funko promises to deliver at least $50 worth of goods in every box.

Funko Star Wars Smugglers Bounty The Resistance, What’s Inside The Box?

The Smugglers Bounty box for January 2016 was themed “The Resistance” and was delivered the third week of January. The contents of the box were similar to the first box but there were five items in the box this time instead of six.

There was a BB-8 patch

Funko Star Wars Smugglers Bounty The Resistance BB8 Patch

Funko Star Wars Smugglers Bounty The Resistance BB8 Patch

A Poe Dameron Pin

Funko Star Wars Smugglers Bounty The Resistance Poe Dameron pin

Funko Star Wars Smugglers Bounty The Resistance Poe Dameron pin

A Star Wars The Force Awakens movie poster themed T shirt

Funko Star Wars Smugglers Bounty The Resistance t shirt

Funko Star Wars Smugglers Bounty The Resistance t shirt

A ceramic C3PO coffee mug

Funko Star Wars Smugglers Bounty The Resistance C3P0 Mug

Funko Star Wars Smugglers Bounty The Resistance C3P0 Mug

A Chewbacca Funko POP figure

Funko Star Wars Smugglers Bounty The Resistance Chewbacca POP figure

Funko Star Wars Smugglers Bounty The Resistance Chewbacca POP figure

I don’t know if there were any other “rare” items that were randomly added to this months box like there were last month. I’ve looked at several other reviews and unboxings and they all contained the same items as the box I received.

Funko Smugglers Bounty The Resistance, Thoughts and Comments

Normally I’d try to follow a review format where I’d have a couple more sections titled “what I liked” and “what I didn’t like” about the box and then sum things up. I’m going to do things a little differently this time.

First up I’m gonna skip the “what I liked” section because I’m just not crazy about the contents of this box at all. If I have to choose a favorite item then it’s got to be the t-shirt. I like the idea of a Star Wars The Force Awakens movie poster themed t-shirt and I think the Funko art style is cool. I expected a Funko POP of course and that was fine, however I was a little surprised that it was Chewbacca. Being that theme is “The Resistance” I was expecting a BB-8, Poe Dameron or even a Rey POP figure. I’ll be honest and tell you that I found the coffee cup a little disappointing and wasn’t that thrilled about it. I also think the patch and pin in every box are going to get old really quickly. To be fair, I like the BB-8 patch a lot but the pins so far are kind of lackluster. My other issue here is that Funko pushes this as a box of items that exclusive to this subscription and I don’t see anything to indicate that this Chewbacca POP is different than ones you can buy online at places like Amazon. Lastly, and I complained about this last month, there is no paperwork in the box. There is nothing here to tell you anything about the items in the box or to even confirm that you’ve gotten everything you’re supposed to get. My first reaction on viewing the contents was “only 5 items, are there supposed to be 5? Are there supposed to be 6 like last month and I’m missing something?”

In terms of value, I usually try not to judge too hard on the dollar value of the box contents when it comes to these subscription boxes but this definitely does not feel like it’s $50 worth of stuff and to be honest it barely feels like a good value at $32.

I’m gonna be honest here, two boxes in and I don’t think the Smugglers Bounty box is a very interesting subscription box. When I opened the box this month my reaction was “very underwhelmed”. I’m actually starting to think that the fact that these boxes are exclusively Funko makes them worse than they could be if they were a mish-mash of Star Wars items from varied sources. A quick search on Amazon for Star Wars will result in a thousand items that would fit in one of these boxes with other items. Think of the possibilities, small LEGO sets, a small ship from Fantasy Flight Games X-Wing game, a book, PEZ dispensers, dice, keyrings, flashlights, you get the idea, I could go on forever with suggestions. I love the idea of a Star Wars themed subscription box but I think the box being all Funko items is too limiting to be interesting for very long.

In my opinion Funko would be better off long term if they placed one or two Funko exclusives in the box, say a unique POP figure and/or a t-shirt and then partnered with other companies to round out the box with other items. Part of the appeal of these boxes is the “wow factor”. You want the box you’ve just received to be exciting so that it immediately leaves you with a sense of anticipation for the next box. The Smugglers Bounty subscription box as currently constituted isn’t varied or interesting enough for me to be all that interested in continuing my subscription long term. If you love the idea of an all Funko, all the time themed box then I’d recommend it but if you’re not completely sold on that idea I’m betting that you’ll lose interest after just a couple of boxes. I’ll likely stay subscribed for one more box just to see if there are any changes but if the next Smugglers Bounty box is the same uninspired effort it’ll probably be my last.


Get your own Funko Smugglers Bounty subscription here

Jan 142016

Airbrushes are becoming a very popular “must have” among the miniature painter crowd and for anyone new to the practice of airbrushing models there are usually a lot of questions to go along with that. For lots of folks, they get all tooled up and ready to airbrush and it occurs to them that they’re going to need to clean their airbrush during paint sessions in between color changes and then thoroughly clean it after their painting session is over. This brings us to the topic of airbrush cleaner.

airbrush cleaner

What kind of airbrush cleaner can you use? You may be surprised by the answer.

Keeping your airbrush clean is fundamental to having a hassle free and fun airbrushing experience so it’s a good idea to develop a good cleaning regimen. It’s also important to have the right tools and cleaning agents to keep that airbrush working well. Today we’re going to talk about saving money on airbrush cleaner.

What Kind of Cleaner Can You Use To Clean Your Airbrush?

There are a lot of different products that are suitable for cleaning an airbrush. These range from name brand products made by the same companies that make airbrushes and airbrush paint, to run of the mill household items that you probably already have under the sink or in the garage.

The name brand products like Medea Airbrush Cleaner and Vallejo Airbrush Cleaner tend to be the default cleaners that everyone assumes are necessary. These products are actually very expensive considering that you’ll be using some cleaner between color changes and quite a bit during post paint session cleanup. The truth is that you can use some very inexpensive cleaners to do the same thing. Some folks don’t run cleaner through the airbrush between colors. When I ask why they do it this way the answer is almost always “to save money”. This is why I use less expensive cleaners.

iwata medea airbrush cleaner

This Iwata Medea Airbrush Cleaner works well but like many name brand products, it’s absurdly expensive.

First lets talk about cost. A bottle of Medea Airbrush Cleaner from an art supply store like Dick Blick or similar will run you between five and six dollars for a 16 ounce package. I looked at Blick today and their price for the 16 ounce squeeze bottle is $5.29. That works out to 33 cents per ounce (approx). This means that a gallon of this product will eventually cost you a whopping forty two dollars. By comparison Vallejo Airbrush Cleaner comes in a 200ml bottle – about 6 ¾ ounces – and costs around $8 a bottle. The Vallejo product is more than one dollar per ounce. Multiply that by the number of ounces in a gallon, 128, and you get the idea. (I would usually use Amazon pricing for this comparison but to be quite honest the prices for these products on Amazon are insane. Here’s a link to the Medea Airbrush Cleaner so you can see what I’m talking about).

Secondly, what you’re actually buying is, for the most part, a mix of water, concentrated detergent and alcohol. A lot of other cheaper cleaners are made up of the same or very similar stuff. There’s really no reason to use such spendy cleaners in your airbrush when a readily available and much cheaper substitute can be used.

Fortunately, there is a great alternative. Quite simply, you can use a generic brand of automobile windshield washer fluid as an airbrush cleaning fluid and it will cost you pennies compared to the name brand cleaners. Take a look at this image taken at my local Walmart the other day.

cheap airbrush cleaner

This automotive windshield washer fluid makes an outstanding airbrush cleaner and as you can see it’s dirt cheap

I’ve been using this product or a similar one for about 5 years. Besides water, the active ingredient is methanol. There’s also a little bit of detergent. As you can see from the image above the price for a gallon of Supertech Windshield washer fluid is under $2 a gallon, even after adding in sales tax. I squirt a bit of this into the airbrush paint cup between color chang4es and run it through, then a bit of distilled water (you don’t have to use distilled water, but where I live the water is very hard and stains/scales up everything so I use distilled).

airbrush cleaner wash bottle

This wash bottle is perfect for dispensing your airbrush cleaner. Pick up two if you also need a rinse bottle for water

Since manhandling a gallon size bottle is tricky, I manage this by transferring the cleaner and water to a couple of these LDPE wash bottles with the hook nozzles. The bottles cost a few bucks each but you could use just about any container that will give you good control when dispensing the cleaner – an old counter top detergent bottle or a used water bottle with a sport top/pop top.

iwata medea airbrush cleaning station

The Iwata Medea airbrush cleaning station is a great for  controlling and containing your waste from airbrush cleaner

When doing clean outs and color changes I spray leftover paint, cleaner and water into one of these Iwata Medea airbrush cleaning stations. I find that the jar is large enough to hold all of my waste from a typical painting session so I just empty and rinse it in the sink afterwards. I also like that the jar has a built in airbrush holder on the handle. Using the jar keeps the vapor and odor in my work area to a minimum and completely prevents any spills.

An Important Distinction About Generic Airbrush Cleaner

I’ve seen people use lots of different stuff including Windex and Simple Green, for cleaning airbrushes.. My one caution is that if you use a generic or household cleaning product, make sure you’re using one that does not have ammonia as a component. Ammonia is a little bit reactive with some metals and alloys and can cause corrosion or tarnishing.

While you can certainly use other cleaning agents in your airbrush, I like good ‘ol windshield washer fluid the best because it’s cheap and you can find it almost anywhere. Walmart, the auto parts store, convenience stores, even the automotive section at the supermarket has it sometimes. Using windshield washer fluid as an airbrush cleaner will save you a TON of money over the long haul.


Dec 172015

The first FUNKO Smugglers Bounty Star Wars Subscription Box arrived a few days ago and I thought it would be fun to tell you what it is and my thoughts on it.

The FUNKO Star Wars Smugglers Bounty Box promises to be full of exclusive Star Wars loot

The FUNKO Star Wars Smugglers Bounty Box promises to be full of exclusive Star Wars loot

The FUNKO Smugglers Bounty Star Wars Subscription Box – What Is It?

The FUNKO Smugglers Bounty Star Wars Subscription Box is a team-up from FUNKO, the maker of the ever popular POP line of collectible action figures, and Lucasfilm. This is an officially licensed subscription box that ships every other month and promises to deliver 100% exclusive Star Wars themed content with a retail value of at least $50 per box. The cost for this box is $25 plus $6.95 shipping. Additionally, if you live outside the US you may incur import taxes and fees depending on your country’s rules for that sort of thing. The boxes ship every other month. You can subscribe on a box to box basis or yearly. Unlike other subscription boxes there is no discount for subscribing yearly but they do promise some sort of free gift. (I subscribed on a box to box basis so I don’t know what the free gift is).

The FUNKO Smugglers Bounty Star Wars Subscription Box – What’s In The Box?

When you sign up for the Smugglers Bounty box you’re asked to provide a shirt size so that’s a pretty solid indicator of some of what’s to come. Other than that the contents of each box are a surprise each time which is part of the appeal. Unlike other random subscription boxes where the theme varies from month to month, this one is all Star Wars, all the time. The first Smugglers Bounty box was themed “The First Order” (pun probably intended) and according to the Smugglers Bounty website the second box will be themed “The Resistance”.

A couple months after signing up I received a shipment and tracking email and received the box a few days later in good order. The Smugglers Bounty First Order box contained the following items:

First Order Tie Fighter Patch

TIE Fighter Patch from the FUNKO Star Wars Smugglers Bounty Box

TIE Fighter Patch from the FUNKO Star Wars Smugglers Bounty Box

Kylo Ren Pin

Kylo Ren pin from the FUNKO Star Wars Smugglers Bounty Box

Kylo Ren pin from the FUNKO Star Wars Smugglers Bounty Box

Funko Captain Phasma Shirt

Captain Phasma t-shirt from the FUNKO Star Wars Smugglers Bounty Box

Captain Phasma t-shirt from the FUNKO Star Wars Smugglers Bounty Box

Star Wars The Force Awakens Lanyard

Star Wars The Force Awakens lanyard from the FUNKO Smugglers Bounty box

Star Wars The Force Awakens lanyard from the FUNKO Smugglers Bounty box

Captain Phasma Chrome POP Figure

Chrome Captain Phasma POP figure from the FUNKO Star Wars Smugglers Bounty box

Chrome Captain Phasma POP figure from the FUNKO Star Wars Smugglers Bounty box

First Order TIE Fighter POP Figure

First Order TIE Fighter Pilot POP figure from the FUNKO Star Wars Smugglers Bounty box

First Order TIE Fighter Pilot POP figure from the FUNKO Star Wars Smugglers Bounty box

Note that there was a chance to get the much rarer POP figure #90 version of the TIE fighter pilot that has red trim and other different details. There were also different shirts that featured Kylo Ren instead of Captain Phasma.

The FUNKO Smugglers Bounty Star Wars Subscription Box – What I Liked

Overall I’d say this was an interesting mix of stuff with the focus (as expected) being the FUNKO POP figures. I think it’s interesting that the theme is carried through, even to the image on the t-shirt. The quality on everything looks pretty good. When it comes to the dollar value of these subscription boxes, I’m not super hardcore about figuring out what the various items are worth. While I expect to get something reasonable, for me at least, it’s more about the surprise factor and the idea of getting some novelty stuff that I probably wouldn’t normally run across or have access to.  Surfing around the net looking at what these various items go for I think it’s easy to say that they exceeded their goal in terms of dollar value as well. Lastly, the fact that these items are exclusive to this box – the POP figures in particular – means that for collectors of FUNKO POP figures and Star Wars memorabilia in particular makes this an extra good value for some folks.

The FUNKO Smugglers Bounty Star Wars Subscription Box – What I Didn’t Like

I’m gonna preface this by stating that I was a subscriber to Loot Crate for almost two years. I’ve also gotten some other gift boxes here and there to try them out. I guess that means I had some expectations for how this would feel. While the dollar value here feels right, the fact that there were only 6 items in the box felt a little “is that it?” when I first opened it. I also felt like there should be something extra as this is the first Smugglers Bounty box and it’s coming just a few weeks before the release of Star Wars The Force Awakens. While the box has some fun stuff, there’s nothing here in particular that marks it as special or inaugural considering that it’s the launch of this program at the launch of the new round of films, etc. I’m sure you get what I’m getting at here. Another thing I’m not crazy about is the idea that some boxes are going to have something ultra rare included instead of everyone getting the same thing. That feels like a marketing gimmick and it seems a little divisive to the community. Finally, it really bothered me that there’s nothing in the box to tell you that you actually got what you’re supposed to be getting. What I mean by this is that in every other mystery box I receive (and this includes some non geeky boxes that come for my wife and daughter) there is a card or pamphlet or something that details what every item is that you’re supposed to have received. Without this, how is the recipient supposed to know his or her box is complete unless they talk to someone else and compare notes? I think this is a significant oversight and FUNKO should address this in future shipments.

The FUNKO Smugglers Bounty Star Wars Subscription Box – The Final Word

Overall I think the FUNKO Smugglers Bounty Star Wars Subscription Box is pretty good.

The dollar value is definitely on target and they are absolutely nailing the theme. Would I like to see a couple of non FUNKO specific items there for variety’s sake? Yes, but since this is a FUNKO branded box that’s unlikely. As noted above. my main complaint is the lack of any documentation to confirm you’ve received everything that you’re supposed to receive. Other than that it’s a solid effort and I’ll continue to subscribe for awhile to see how FUNKO keeps things interesting.

The next FUNKO Smugglers Bounty Star Wars Subscription Box is due in January 2016 and is themed “The Resistance”. The cutoff date for subscribing in time to get the January box is 1/15/16. I’ll have a review up a week or two after I receive it (I’m purposely delaying the reviews in order to avoid spoiling the boxes for people since the surprise is part of the appeal).

Get Your Own FUNKO Smugglers Bounty Star Wars Subscription Box Here!