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Attack of the Death Trooper (Star Wars Black Zombie Sandtrooper Custom by Joe Amaro)

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Twelve hours.

Twelve hours was all the time it had taken for nearly the entire crew of the Star Destroyer Vector – all 46,700 personnel – to die.

Ensign Bran Fenrell didn’t know why he’d been spared. He didn’t know why, just a few hours earlier, his bunkmate, Ryas, had drowned in his own blood just a few feet away. Fenrell himself had felt no ill effects, except for the painful knot of nausea that caused him to vomit all over the floor of their quarters as his bunkmate and friend gasped and writhed.

Finally Ryas had let out a slow, lifeless breath, like a deflating balloon, and lay still. Fenrell hadn’t bothered contacting the infirmary because by that point, everyone knew there was nothing that could be done. Whatever had been unleashed upon the Vector, it was invariably fatal.

Fenrell had sat on his bunk for hours, in shock, as the corpse of his fellow ensign putrefied across from him. He knew he’d have to leave eventually, though he had no idea where he would go.

He was considering his limited options when, out of the corner of his eye, he saw a flicker of movement on the opposite bunk.

He stared. He couldn’t have actually seen that, could he? His nerves were getting to him. But there it was again – he saw it clearly this time. Ryas’s finger had moved.

Fenrell hesitated, then crossed over to the other bunk. Could it be true? Could Ryas still be alive?

He looked over Ryas’s body. The skin of the ensign’s face and hands had turned to a gray-greenish color, with a rough, dried-out texture. It seem to hang loosely, although Ryas had been a bit overweight in life.

There was a slight hiss of air from the body. Was Ryas still breathing? A thought struck Fenrell – could Ryas actually have survived the infection? Could he be getting better? Or was this just the last bit of air escaping from a rotting corpse? Slowly, Fenrell leaned closer over Ryas, turning his head to listen for an intake of breath.

That’s when Ryas bit his ear off.

Fenrell screamed, blood spurting between his fingers as he clutched the ragged remains of his ear. Ryas lunged for him, sinking his teeth into Fenrell’s arm. The thing had terrible strength, and it was all Fenrell could do to tear it away. A chunk of his forearm came away in the monster’s jaws.

Fenrell ran for the door and frantically punched in the code to unlock it. Mercifully, he got the code in one try and the door slid open. As he fled, he glanced back to see the thing chewing with what seemed like deliberate concentration on the flesh of his arm, an almost beatific expression on its face. Torn bits of black uniform, sticky with blood and offal, clung to the thing’s lips.

Clutching his forearm and trying to ignore the desperate throbbing of his missing ear, Fenrell staggered through the door, being sure to lock it behind him. The thing that had been Ryas could have unlocked it from the inside, but Fenrell doubted it would remember how.

He found himself leaning along the corridor wall as he struggled to walk, leaving a long, bloody smear. He came to the end of the corridor and turned the corner…

…and found himself facing a squad of Field Stormtroopers. He recognized them by their yellow pauldrons and the rail detonators that dangled from their hands…

…their green, mutilated hands…

Fenrell managed one last scream, and then they were upon him.

I know zombies are probably kind of uncool at this point – particularly the tendency to insert zombies into any geek franchise you can imagine. But Joe Schreiber’s novel Death Troopers came out three years ago, when the whole zombie thing was a bit closer to its height. I wasn’t even into Star Wars at the time but I still bought it when it came out, primarily because I found zombies in the SW galaxy a more interesting idea than, say, the Marvel universe.

Part of that novelty was because Star Wars doesn’t typically veer into R-rated territory. Fifteen years ago, LucasFilm gave author Daniel Keys Moran a hard time for a scene in his Boba Fett story for Tales of the Bounty Hunters in which a mass murderer is executed by being eaten by animals (the actual killing isn’t even shown). Evidently by 2010 they’d realized there was a market out there for more mature-oriented SW material.

Poe Ghostal’s Points of Articulation or PoeGhostal.com? (Also: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. thoughts)

So, a question for you all, faithful readers. There’s yet another redesign coming (I don’t want to say it’s “major,” but you’ll certainly notice it), and I’m debating whether to keep the name “Poe Ghostal’s Points of Articulation” or just go to plain old “PoeGhostal.com”.

I’ve always been fond of the “Points of Articulation” pun, but “Poe Ghostal’s Points of Articulation” is kind of a mouthful for a name (though an easily-identifiable acronym, PGPoA). I’m leaning toward just going with “PoeGhostal.com,” but I can be easily swayed. Thoughts?

So, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premiered last night. (Spoilers ahead, I guess.)

A very early version of Poe

Let’s take a little trip down Memory Lane, shall we?

Way, way back in the year 2000 (weird how that still sounds futuristic…), I asked a friend of mine to create an visual avatar for my “Poe Ghostal” handle. This was back when the expression “go postal” was still somewhat in circulation, so I figured people knew where the joke came from.

The earliest reference to “Poe Ghostal” I can find is this Usenet message I wrote on  January 12, 2000. For the record, I still stand by my assertions regarding variations and “definitive” figures.

Two joints

I’ve got a poll on the sidebar regarding whether, given the choice of one or the other on a (human) action figure, you would prefer double-jointed elbows or double-jointed knees.

I know which one I’d choose, and I’m going to talk about that in an upcoming post. But I’m curious: why do you prefer the one you chose?

Poe’s Evolving(?) Thoughts on Bios

I’ve been going back and re-reading some of my oldest toy reviews lately (partly in an effort to get my reviewing mojo back, I’ll admit). In the course of doing so I came across some statements I made that, in light of more recent developments, seemed pretty amusing.

From my review of the Spawn: The Viking Age Skullsplitter figure from McFarlane Toys:

I actually find it rather interesting; if McFarlane can take these characters, change their names and cook up a new back story, why can’t I? I think action figure collectors should reject messy, half-baked biographies and come up with their own stories.

This was followed by a review of Bluetooth from the same line, where I wrote this:

[…] more importantly, why is there a need for a backstory at all? This complaint isn’t so much directed at McFarlane Toys at it is toy collectors in general. I know that McFarlane put out several lines without the backstories – it was the fans who demanded they be brought back, feeling that they had no connection with the figures without some sort of understanding of who or what they were. All I can say is, that’s a little sad. It seems  collectors are ready to come up with potential storylines for their toys, but they’re incapable of characterizing them.

I can’t decide whether this is consistent with the things I’ve written since then or not. I’ve always said I make better connections with figures whose characters have some sort of story or franchise behind them, but at the same time, I’ve rejected many of the bios created for MOTUC. (I still think Gygor is good, for example. I don’t care how many people think he’s cool as a bad guy. In my universe, he was a heel who made a face turn.)

I think I like to have some sort of character bio – at least the barest outline of one – but I also want the option to create my own stories with them. That may actually be what bothers me most about the MOTUC bios. While I’d like nothing more than a brief background and some information about the character’s personality and abilities, Mattel’s effort to tell an ongoing story within the bios often shortchanges all of that.

Poe Through the Years

Ever since the inception of this site, I’ve had some sort of graphic avatar to represent the “Poe Ghostal” character. I thought it might be fun to do a quick rundown of the various versions of Poe’s look that we’ve had through the years.

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This was Poe’s very first look, from the site’s very first incarnation in 2007. I’ve always had a fondness for the look of 1930s pulp heroes like The Shadow, Sandman or their Batman: The Animated Series homage, the Gray Ghost. The raven perched on Poe’s shoulder was a obvious reference to Poe’s “The Raven.” This was drawn and colored by my good friend Red Kryptonite, and it served as Poe’s look on the site until the redesign in 2011.

New comment system

Just a heads-up: I’ve decided to try out a new commenting system, and I’ll be switching over to it today. So commenting may be a little wiggy for a bit.

UPDATE: Aaaaand I didn’t like that new system at all, so never mind!

PoeGhostal.com joins forces with CollectionDX!

As many of you have already guessed, the mystery site that is now hosting PoeGhostal.com is none other than CollectionDX!

A Dynamic Debate at Dork Dimension

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Not that this topic hasn’t been argued to death before, but I thought I’d point you all to a discussion going on over at Dork Dimension about “collectibles vs. fun toys.” It grew out of the comments section of a review in which Nathan of DD had a side-rant about “collectibles.” I’ve made a few long-winded contributions in the comments section. It’s an interesting debate, even if I think it’s mostly a semantic argument being twisted into a qualitative argument.

That said, there does seem to be a groundswell among some toy fans against “collector” toys in favor of more simple toys that are “meant to be played with.”* I first noticed it with some of the Glyos folks, it accelerated around the time of O.M.F.G. and the burgeoning DIY toys movement, and now – for some toy fans, anyway – seems to be moving into mild but open antagonism toward “adult collector” toys.

*I use quotation marks not to denote sarcasm or belittle their argument, but to ensure I’m not implicitly endorsing the idea that collector toys aren’t meant to be played with, something I don’t necessarily agree with – at least not for all collector-oriented toys.

UPDATE: The discussion has also spread to Twitter (and roamed far afield from there, but it’s a pretty cool discussion).

Call for Help Completing My MOTUC Reviews

motu-motuc-banner-logoAs I mentioned a while back, I’m now officially a cherry picker on Masters of the Universe Classics. This includes selling off some of the figures I don’t want as they arrive from this year’s subscription. In addition, my interest in MOTUC has, not waned per se, but become more moderated, so that I’ve even fallen behind on the items I am holding on to.

However, I feel a strong obligation to ensure this site has a complete archive of reviews of MOTUC. As such, I’m officially soliciting guest reviews of MOTUC figures.

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