T-Shirt Tuesday – Star Wars Sweater Madness

The Shirt: Happy holidays from Hoth ye fledgling padawans!

Payment: Sold by Redbubble, who accepts all major credit cards.

Styles: Available in adult sizes S-XL.

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Featured Art(ist) – Dave Dorman

This week’s featured art(ist) is Dave Dorman.

Famous for his illustration work, particularly concerning the Star Wars franchise, Dorman is a professional who’s work any bonafide nerd is sure to recognize. He has done a number of book covers for the Star Wars Expanded Universe, including the covers for one of my favorite (and most influential) Star Wars book series, the Young Jedi Knights.

However, he is by no means only a Star Wars artist. He has done illustration work for Marvel, Batman, Magic: The Gathering and his personal project, The Wasted Lands (see above). There’s a fun retro vibe in his artwork due to his killer oil-painting techniques. This guy designs it old school.

He has a great portfolio that’s worth looking at – you’ll be surprised what images you might recognize!

– E.B.

T-Shirt Tuesday – Everyone’s Favorite Bounty Hunter

The Shirt: Boba Fett is a cult figure from the Star Wars universe – his following produced so much lore, it’d fill an encyclopedia. He’s the man with the plan, stoic and ready bring on the hurt. Even Sarlaccs can’t stop this guy.

Payment: Sold via Snorgtees, who accepts Paypal and all major credit cards.

Styles: Available in adult sizes S-XL.

– E.B.

Why Star Wars: The Clone Wars Isn’t Just for Kids

This week’s review/impressions slot goes to the CGI animated series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

The show just aired it’s final episodes, fillling out six seasons of Star Wars narrative. Now the whole shebang is on Netflix, making it the perfect time to discover this hidden gem.

I had seen Internet forum chatter extolling the merits of the series, but I never got around to watching an episode. After two nights of jetlag induced insomnia, I’ve worked my way through the first season and I have to say, I’m impressed. This is the Star Wars that the prequel film trilogy SHOULD have been. Here are some reasons why Clone Wars doesn’t leave the bitter aftertaste of disappointment for Star Wars fans (cough)lookingatyouEpisodeIII(cough):

It’s Funny: The humor of the television series might be younger audience friendly, but it still resonates for older Star Wars fans. The humor can get fairly meta at various points, making references to common sci-fi and television tropes.

The Dialogue Isn’t Awful: There are no stilted, awkward conversations where actors are obviously trying to keep a straight face while delivering lines like, “Love won’t save you, Padme. Only my new powers can do that,” or  “I’m haunted by the kiss that you should never have given me.”

Master Yoda.

Jedi Are Cool Again: Yoda is a boss. The Force feels powerful. A Jedi Master can take on countless battle droids by his/herself. None of this fighting a few droids for a few minutes, then flopping over because the plot requires it. Jedi are powerful, wise and live up to the ideal I remember from my childhood.

Anakin Skywalker is Likeable: One of the greatest tragedies of the prequel films is how Anakin Skywalker’s character develops. The immature, childish, almost repulsive Episode III Anakin doesn’t exist in The Clone Wars- instead we see a talented young man, with real passions and good intentions. Here is the honorable tragic hero capable of falling to the dark side and assuming the mantle of Darth Vader, not the pathetic angst-ridden teenage brat from the films.

Anakin Skywalker.

No Hayden Christiansen: No Hayden. Makes previous point possible.

If you have some spare time, or you looking for a good show to put on while you work, consider starting Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Star Wars Superfans and casual watchers alike will find Clone Wars worth a view.

– E.B.

Loot Crate – Nerd Swag Delivered to Your Door

Loot Crate is a service that strives to capitalize on the popularity of surprise grab-bag giveaways and nerd swag on the Internet. Here’s how it works; Join Loot Crate for less than $20 a month, they find a bunch of products and brand partners to construct a “crate” based on a theme, it gets delivered to your doorstep! The retail worth of every box is over $40, so you are getting great nerd swag for a primo price.

August’s crate was based on the theme “CAKE!”

I joined last month for their “Warriors” themed crate – inside was a great t-shirt, digital comic redemption codes, a munny figure and other treats. It wasn’t as impressive to me as the amazing January crate I saw promoted from a previous month, but I was still pleased with the retail value and theme. I am definitely keeping my subscription.

The January Crate – “LAUNCH!”

There are two similar services to Loot Crate – Nerd Block and Booty Bin. One of the reasons I decided to try Loot Crate was due to the positive reviews and comparisons. Nerd Block apparently has great retail value, but no real content curation/theme. Booty Bin is a rip-off. I might also give Nerd Block a try next month, just for a comparative analysis but I have been REALLY pleased with my Loot Crate experience thus far.

Additionally, another big draw to Loot Crate is the fact that each month, they choose a “Mega Crate” winner from their subscription base. These crates include game consoles, exclusive collectibles and other high price memorabilia.

Mega Crate Swag – Expensive Valve game Collectibles!

I definitely recommend giving Loot Crate a try, the price and retail values are a great deal. Also, it’s fun when you get mail, so why not?

– E.B.

Why Play Old Games?

With new blockbuster video games releasing every month, plenty of gamers could spend their entire lives playing the freshest things on the market. These games promise the innovative, genre defining experiences anyways, so why go back and play games from ten/twenty/thirty years ago?

I used to be that kind of gamer… until I picked up The Secret of Monkey Island on Xbox Live Arcade. I had never played a point and click adventure, and I certainly hadn’t played anything that graphically archaic. The witty writing and thoughtful design had me hooked, and I promptly downloaded the sequel as soon as I finished the game.

This experience unlocked a whole new appreciation me for “retro” gaming, or at least, playing through backlogs of acclaimed older titles. My second example, and current personal favorite, is BioWare’s Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Even through the game is not necessarily retro, since it is only seven years old, it is is amazing to see how far gaming technology has progressed in the last decade. The game does feel dated compared to BioWare’s more recent Mass Effect and Dragon Age franchises. However, Knights of the Old Republic is still a valuable experience due to an excellent story and memorable characters. Even if the mechanics are occasionally glitchy and it doesn’t look like a Hollywood movie the talented writing means the game deserves to be played.

Not the best graphics… but such a good game!

Ideally, a “Game of the Year” or a “classic” video game should hold up against the test of time – not necessarily in every way, but there should be something valuable there for a gamer. With the rise of retro game reboots on iOS and Android, now is the time to go back and play those Final Fantasies (they used to be good, I promise), 2D Scrollers and old school fighting games. With reasonable price points (most retro game reboots are less than ten bucks!) this might be the best gaming decision you could make.

– E.B.