Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Review: Warlord Games' Doctor Who Miniatures

I've always had a soft spot for little metal miniatures. Ever since Fine Art Castings first started rolling them off their production line (in truth a casting machine in their garage!) in 1984, there have probably been more little metal figures of Doctor Who characters produced than most other items of merchandise (excluding, probably, trading cards if you count the cards individually!)

Now Warlord Games has picked up the license, and their initial release are two boxes, each containing five little figures.  Each box costs £19.99 which makes them £4 each, which is about the same price as other 35mm figures these days, so overall not too bad a price.

The figures tie into something called 'Into The Time Vortex: The Miniatures Game' but I have no idea what this is, and there's no clues on the boxes of figures ...

So ... we have one box which is 'Tenth Doctor and Companions' - this contains, as you might expect, the tenth Doctor, plus Rose, Martha, Donna, and Wilf (a surprising addition to be honest ... but then who else might they have chosen? Maybe Sarah Jane Smith?)

The figures are approximately 35mm so quite small, and come unpainted. Each also has a little plastic stand which you have to glue yourself to the base of each figure.  It's a nice set!

The second box contains 'Twelfth Doctor and Companions' and here we have Doctor 12 of course, and also Clara, Vastra, Jenny and Strax. Again, a good selection.

If you like the little miniatures, then these are a good addition to the collection. The packaging is a card box containing a plastic inner containing 6 little 'trays' and in each is a figure, and in the sixth are the bases. There's also a card wrap around the plastic inner with character details and so on printed on it.

I'm looking forward to seeing what the actual game is too ...I'm guessing some sort of 'Dungeons and Dragons' type scenario, or it could be a 'Monopoly'-type board game ... we shall see!

The Warlord Figures are available direct from the manufacturers:

Monday, September 12, 2016

Review: Too Late For Tears (1949) And Woman On The Run (1950)

These two late-period film noirs became available in the UK from Arrow Films in June 2016 as a matching pair of dual-format Blu-Ray and DVD combos, essentially replicating equivalent US releases from Flicker Alley the previous month. Both movies are presented in top-notch new high-definition restorations courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive, and their release was made possible by the sterling efforts of the Film Noir Foundation, an admirable organisation dedicated to the preservation and appreciation of film noir.
            Too Late for Tears stars two noir icons, Lizabeth Scott and Dan Duryea. Scott’s character, Jane Parker, is out driving in the Hollywood Hills one evening with her husband Alan, played by Arthur Kennedy, when a suitcase full of illicit cash lands in their laps – almost literally, as it is thrown into the back of their moving car by a member of a criminal gang in a bizarre case of mistaken identity. She then proceeds to stake her claim as one of the most mercenary women ever to be depicted on screen, as she does everything in her power to take possession of the money and keep it from being recovered by its intended recipient, Duryea’s character, Danny Fuller. Alan is just the first of several people who come to a sticky end when they try to oppose her …
In Woman on the Run, struggling artist Frank Johnson, played by Ross Elliott, is the chance witness of a supposed gangland murder, but makes himself scarce before the police can take him into protective custody. His semi-estranged wife, portrayed by the movie’s star Ann Sheridan, then plays a cat-and-mouse game with the police as they both try to track Frank down before the murderer can get to him and eliminate him.
One of the main things that these two movies have in common, and that makes their pairing-up for release coincidentally rather apt, is their inclusion of strong female lead characters, who are both equally determined and unrepentantly single-minded in their own individual ways. Scott’s character in particular is an archetypal femme fatale, and certainly not a woman anyone would want to cross! Scott and Sheridan give excellent, career-highlight performances in their respective roles, and the movies as a whole are both extremely enjoyable, although Woman on the Run, with its unusual fairground-set climax, probably just has the edge.
The Film Noir Foundation deserves much kudos for its dogged and ultimately successful campaign to get these movies restored and then commercially released, and any noir aficionados unfamiliar with the organisation’s work would be well advised to check out its website at and consider making a small donation to its ongoing cause, in return for access to regular downloads of its superb quarterly magazine Noir City.
These Arrow releases both come highly recommended; and each is rounded off with a strong package of extras:

Too Late for Tears

  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing.
  • Audio commentary by writer, historian and film programmer Alan K Rode
  • Chance of a Lifetime: The Making of ‘Too Late for Tears’, a new behind-the-scenes examination of the film’s original production, produced by Steven Smith and the Film Noir Foundation and featuring noir experts Eddie Muller, Kim Morgan, and Julie Kirgo.
  • Tiger Hunt: Restoring ‘Too Late for Tears’, a chronicle of the multi-year mission to rescue this lost noir classic, produced by Steven Smith and the Film Noir Foundation.
  • Gallery featuring rare photographs, poster art and original lobby cards.
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original poster artwork on one side, and newly-commissioned artwork by Matt Griffin on the other.
  • Booklet featuring new writing by writer and noir expert Brian Light.

Woman on the Run
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing.
  • Audio commentary by author, historian and noir expert Eddie Muller.
  • Love is a Rollercoaster: ‘Woman on the Run’ Revisited, a new featurette on the making of the film, from script to noir classic, produced by Steven Smith and the Film Noir Foundation.
  • A Wild Ride: Restoring ‘Woman on the Run’, a stranger-than-fiction featurette on the film’s restoration, produced by Steven Smith and the Film Noir Foundation.
  • Noir City, a short documentary directed by Joe Talbot about the annual Noir City Film Festival, which the Film Noir Foundation hosts at San Francisco’s historic Castro Theatre.
  • Gallery featuring rare photographs, poster art and original lobby cards.
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original poster artwork on one side, and newly-commissioned artwork by Matt Griffin on the other.
  • Booklet featuring new writing by Eddie Muller.

Stephen James Walker

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Review: Dead End Drive-In (1986)

This is another Arrow Blu-Ray/DVD release and another film I'd never heard of before ... and probably with good reason.  It seems to be Australian-made, with no known actors in, and is a sort of Mad-Max-esque low budget tale of low-lifes.

It takes an age to get going ... we are introduced to our unlikable cast of characters, and two of them, Crabs (Ned Manning) and Carmen (Natalie McCurry) decide to go to the Drive-In to make out. Except that the Drive-In has no Drive-Out, and after they identify themselves as Unemployed, the Police come and take the wheels from their car, thus trapping them inside the Drive-In along with all the other unemployed scum from the city. The fences and gates around the place are electrified - it's a sort of unofficial prison for these people, though they do get vouchers they can exchange for food and drink ... there's a whole community here!

And so the action unfolds with car chases and explosions, '80s punked up outfits and cars and graffiti ... as Crabs tries to get some wheels for his car, but then runs out of petrol ... so he has to get some more petrol before he can try and make a break for freedom.

Somewhere in all this there's a good idea struggling to escape - the concept of luring undesirables to a place with a cheap offer for the unemployed, and then trapping them there. But the film is slow to get going, and then when it does get going, it's not sure where it wants to go.  It's not clear how the Police get away with what they're doing ... does no-one realise that you never leave the Drive-In - there seems to be no 'word on the street' that people who go there never come back ...

It's nicely made though, and the action sequences are pretty good. It's not a film I'll rush to watch again though, and while it's set in a nominal future, there's nothing particularly 'horror' or 'science fiction' about it ... it could be happening now, or 20 years ago ...

  • Brand new 2K restoration from original film materials
  • High Definition (1080p) Presentation
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
  • Audio commentary by director Brian Trenchard-Smith
  • The Stuntmen, Trenchard Smith’s classic television documentary on Grant Page (Mad Max, Road Games) and other Australian stunt performers
  • Hospitals Don’t Burn Down, Trenchard-Smith’s 1978 public information film told in pure Ozploitation fashion
  • Behind the scenes gallery by graffiti artist Vladimir Cherepanoff
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Chris Malbon

First pressing only: fully-illustrated collector’s booklet containing writing on the films by Cullen Gallagher and Neil Mitchell