Lawrence Dagstine: “Masters of the Universe 2010…”

The birthday of all birthdays approaches.  Three.  And this year’s theme is actually the very expensive, 30th Anniversary re-release of some funky figures I grew up to in the very early 1980s.  He-man and the Masters of the Universe: Adult Collector Series.  These are for my son, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I had a little fun with them myself (he he).  The artwork and detail is out of this world, done by the Four Horsemen, and if you have an action figure or toy news blog, please feel free to use these pics.  I was most surprised by how expensive they were.  First off, they sell out in less than 24 hours all the time on Mattel’s main homepage… So your only shots are places like eBay or Amazon if you want to own these high-end figures.  Next, when I say high-end, I mean it.  The 2010 Masters of the Universe line-up runs between $25.00 and $80.00 per figure on average; with $35.00 to $60.00 being that in-between number with S&H.  Are they worth it? Yes and no (I also managed to pick up a 2002 Castle Grayskull MINT in the box.  Some of the more memorable characters are even more awesome-looking than when they first came out in 1982.  Characters like He-Man, Man-at-Arms, Trap-Jaw, and Moss Man included.  And they include better weapons and equipment, too.

Word, yo. It all good... Later we go to Mr. B's for a Nickel and Shiznit!

It should be noted that I didn’t pick up Skeletor but, rather, Scareglow instead.

No hard feelings, Skeletor.  I’ll give a little description of the figures further down.

Sorry, Skeletor... but Scareglow looked wayyy cooler than your candy ass.

So with the castle and the average forty-fifty dollar action figure I ended up spending close to $700.00 in He-man related toys.  Why spend so much, you ask? Well, while I agree they are for my son and I’m reliving my childhood through him, and hope one day that he might want to repeat the process… It wasn’t just a birthday celebration or bunch of gifts I just “had to own!” Yes, I do collect my own Doctor Who and Star Wars action figures.  Yes, I have Matchbox/Hot Wheels cars.  Yes, I have baseball cards made of chrome.   Oh, and don’t even get me started on Transformers, Thundercats, Smurfs, G.I.Joe, and some now-old school 8-bit NES games.  These toys were a celebration to welcome my son into my home as I now have custody (visitation rights) of him 7 to 8 days a month.  In the event a weekend lands with a Monday as a holiday, there’s your eighth day.  So I have my kid for lots of cartoon fun (and the park outdoors) one week a month.  Which means more to me than my writing, so yes, along with a new bed directly across from mine, makes $700.00 seem all the more worth it.

2002 Castle Grayskull - MIB; with Action Chip/Sound Effects

2002 Castle Grayskull - Back of box/castle interior view

Other gifts included a Superman “Through the Ages” gift set, a 13″ tall Cyberman, a pair of Iron Man sneakers, and a 2010 AT-AT Imperial Walker.  But let’s concentrate on the Masters of the Universe line-up for now.

Scareglow - Skeletor's Henchman from another dimension

Beast Man - Skeletor's Original Henchman with realistic paint job

Tri-Klops - Skeletor's Henchman who can see through one eye

Trap-Jaw - Skeletor's iron-mouthed, claw-armed henchman - RARE! $50 and up!

The He-man adult series also comes in nice collectible boxes

It appears I’ve picked up an unequal amount of good guys versus bad guys.  Maybe that’s because the bad guys always looked cooler.  I’ve also picked up the whole 130-episode television series, which lasted four years in the early 80s — they tried to bring it back in 2002, but failed — and they were the basis of my childhood and fantasies growing up.  It’s now time to introduce it to another generation, just as some parents from Generation X are introducing Star Wars and Transformers to their young ones.  Who knows, maybe the 80s culture will always be with us.  Why? Because the 80s into the early 90s were probably one of the coolest periods for things in general.  And not just toys.  Though cheesy to some today, you had your clothes, music, movies (ala Empire Strikes Back, Predator, Terminator, and Aliens), comics, graphic novels, and even science fiction, fantasy and horror novels when it was at its height.  There is a man by the name of Stephen King we can thank for that.  Anyway, on to some more action figure pics.

He-man in Battle Armor - paint job just like the day he premiered

Faker - The evil He-man which Tri-Klops & Skeletor put back together.

Wun-Dar - Savage ancestor of He-man; great grandfather - VERY RARE

Moss Man - authentic green fur and he smells like a Christmas Tree

Man-E-Faces - Good guy robot from the 2002 collection with three faces

Now before I go, get a load of this… Not only did they make the new figures look just like the older figures, only with superior paint jobs — once again, the Four Horsemen are responsible for these figures — but one of them included a ring.  The ring you see below I used to own and wear almost thirty years ago.  The Castle Grayskull Ring.  Every detail has been repeated.  I don’t know what’s funnier, the way it looks since I lost it in the early eighties and the fact that I still remember it, or when I was running around second grade with it on, raising my hand to the sky, shouting, “I HAVE THE POWER!” Actually, what’s probably hilarious is the ring still fits my ring finger, and I wore it outdoors by mistake one day, not realizing I had it on.  Nevertheless, when I was young I loved that He-man ring, and I’m glad to have an exact duplicate of it back.  It sits on my writing desk, and believe it or not, it even gives me a little inspiration when it comes to penning horror stories.  I fiddle around, put it on, or sometimes just stare at it.  Oh yeah, I also picked up the NEW Webstor figure.

The Castle Grayskull Ring - Memories that still fit almost 30 years later.

Castle Grayskull put together w. The whole gang saying goodbye.

Once again, there’s nothing wrong with reliving your childhood or passing it on to the next generation.  And it’s things like this which helped inspire me to become the one thing I do most these days.  Being a genre writer.

With that said, everybody say goodbye.  Until next time.  BYE BYE.  Bye everyone.  See ya.

Cheers,

Lawrence Dagstine

Lawrence Dagstine: “Christmas Time 2009…”

For the 2009 holiday season, I decided to update my blog homepage and fill my fans and followers in on some of my gifts and achievements of the last twelve months, along with what to look out for and what will be under the x-mas tree this yuletide season (for the little one).  Regardless of the last year-and-a-half of dying markets and a bad genre economy, 2009 still managed to be my best year in the “earning” department, where I doubt I will ever be able to rival 2007 in the quantity and material department.  Some of these achievements range from smaller press and semi-pro fiction acceptances, minor proofreading, non-fiction writing and essays, resumes, my first official short story collection being released, my first Kindle title being released, making over 2000 friends and followers on Facebook, and just a lot revolving around the written word and The Spirit of Christmas.

Isn’t that a beautiful Christmas tree? The lights flash blue and white.  Progress-wise, this year I had very little time to blog/plug but got a lot of acceptances (some straight through 2011), let go of a lot of reprints, wrote 26 BRAND NEW short stories, wrote 8 BRAND NEW novelettes, wrote four unfinished novellas between 15,000 and 30,000 words in length — which I may make available on my blog to read next year.  I mean, why let good stories go to waste.  Or maybe I will get around to editing and finishing those novellas.  I have future eBooks & Kindle titles on the horizon.  I realized that, money-wise, it doesn’t pay to release a second short story collection.  I can earn more individually.  I was shortlisted a couple of times by some decent pubs, made second readings, almost made it into 4 professional level magazines/venues.  And that’s just the fiction department.  Oh yeah, did I mention the steampunk and satire offers?

Below you will find pictures of just half of this year’s gifts.  It’s mainly a Cybermen-themed Christmas this year, with David Tennant regenerating into Matt Smith and all.  And my son is now a Dr. Who fan and absolutely adores The Cybermen (he’s scared of the Daleks).  Oddly enough, he’s also more a Christopher Eccleston fan.  One of the items I searched the UK high and low for was The Cybermen Age of Steel 4-figure collection.  Collect them all, open up the packages, and you can build a fifth figure.  The Cyber Controller.  I also picked up The Next Doctor on DVD and ordered a Cyber Leader Voice-Changing Helmet to seal the deal.

Some of the other gifts, which are already wrapped, consist of model kits with glues and paints from my old man, though they say ages 8+ and 12+ on the packages.  So I guess the little one will have to hold on to them until he’s old enough to understand them.  Those are made by Revell.  There are also Bob the Builder videos.  Believe me, Doctor Who wasn’t the only stocking stuffer.  There are some other wonderful toys and gifts ranging from Super Mario to Toddler Costumes to Spongebob Squarepants-themed games, and, like last year, play food items.  Like “make your own pizza.”  The Spongebob game in the picture below is actually Connect Four, but obviously for a slightly younger age group.  Then there’s the one last-minute gift I just couldn’t put down.  The paint job was so realistic.  It reminded me of the Super Powers Action Figures of the 80’s.  Remember those? The Justice League of America Boxed Set: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern.  These figures are mint and pristine! And who doesn’t love the JLA?

Now that’s a big ass cup of coffee (by the way, that’s made of metal).  Just couldn’t resist.

In a reduced and very affordable fashion, I also treated myself to a few early-season gifts.  First, notice the non-fiction book above on Pompeii.  You got it.  It’s research time.  Lawrence Dagstine will be coming your way sometime in 2010 with a story set in Pompeii.  It could be before Volcano Day, it could be after.  It could be Alternate History or not the story you’re expecting.  But you know me when it comes to Historical Weird Tales.

Also, I can’t recommend enough WEIRD HISTORY 101 — published by Falls River, and if you’re a B&N member, you might be able to get it reduced now for $4.00 — in hardcover.  This tome is sooo awesome.  It’s like a mini factbook and reference tool for the writer, and just all around interesting to own.  If you’re a writer of historical tales, alternate history, steampunk, or period pieces, trust me and go to Barnes & Nobles and get this book.  Doesn’t matter what genre.  Author is John Richard Stephens.  You won’t find these kind of facts on Google, or between the pages of traditional historical reference books.

And if you look up above, I finally have a new computer desk.  Nice to have shelving and a drawer, but still unsure of what to fill it up with yet.  Now that the little one has gotten older, the bookcase units pretty much belong to him and his toys.  Now that I have a Kindle, most of my print books will be donated.  Those I wish to keep will be locked away in storage between two households (yeah, there’s that many).  But that desk above is situated in a new corner, it’s my new workspace, and it’s where I’ll pen that Pompeii tale for you Dagstine readers when the time comes.

With that said, I’ll probably only update this blog four more times before the New Year.  Stay with me in 2010.  We have many adventures to go on together, and much awaits.  Won’t you join me? To all my fans and readers…

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Lawrence R. Dagstine

Other New Entries: “About Me”

Lawrence Dagstine: “Christmas Aftermath 2008…”

In the spirit of wintertime holidays from years past, I decided to go ahead and do an aftermath blog entry  for Christmas Day 2008: holiday hand-me-downs, boys and toys, or cool gifts from Yuletides’ past.  From Star Wars to Doctor Who to Matchbox and, of all things, Puppets.  There’s some cool play things here to see, new and old.  Some things even you might remember as a kid.  Unopened presents and a few stocking stuffers, too.  Not to mention this past year’s tree, a few ornaments, and the delicious meal that I cooked; plus, a recipe.  But first, the night before Christmas…

The Christmas Tree

The Christmas Tree

The Presents

The Presents

The Puppets

The Puppets

The Decorations

The Decorations

The Stocking Stuffers

The Stocking Stuffers

The Christmas tree stands about four feet, nothing spectacular, and the puppets are by Melissa & Doug’s (coming soon to book promo videos near you).  The stockings were a very interesting investment.  Something like two for five, but purchased the day after Christmas 2007.  It’s amazing what you can find for practically nothing once the holidays are over.  The Sesame Street theme was cute, too.  We had lights up in the kitchen, and hanging snowmen and Santa ornaments in various places around the house — some attached to magnets — made of wire and a clay mixed with ceramic.  These were inexpensive, too.  Next, we have the meal

Baked Ziti w. Hint of Chicken Casserole

Baked Ziti w. Hint of Chicken Casserole

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Cayenne Pepper Chicken

Cayenne Pepper Chicken

I didn’t make the baked ziti — it was out of this world! — but there was a lot, and it had a hint of “chicken casserole” in it, if you know what I mean.  The side dish this year was garlic mashed potatoes, and I cooked my own specialty in the picture above: Cayenne pepper chicken, spicy and delicious! Having been to Santa Fe, New Mexico, I know how to give it just the right flair.  Yes, you could use a barbecue marinade.  Hey, even a mesquite.  But why use a mesquite when you don’t have to?

The recipe is very simple, and after you burn your mouth eating it — have a lot of water handy — you’ll still be glad you broiled it because of that flavor.  Here is what you will need, and this is good if you’re cooking for the whole family and want leftovers.   As for ovens, your typical gas range is fine.

-Two big oven pans/trays for broiling. Layer them with aluminum foil.

-32 to 40 Perdue Oven Roaster drumsticks AND thighs.

-Defrost chicken well, then lightly salt (garlic works, too).

-Two hours later use cayenne pepper seasoning on pans/trays.

-Dip bottom of chicken in cayenne pepper seasoning, then spread it across the top layers heavily.  You want spice!

-Put the thigh/drumstick tray (or pans) in oven.  Make sure the top of chicken looks nice and reddish-orange.

-Preheat oven to 425 or 450 degrees, cook for 45 to 50 minutes.

-Check on it while it’s cooking.  45 to 50 minutes is well done.

-Shut stove off.  Let cool.  Sit down.  Eat, and Enjoy…

Now for the hand-me-downs

Big Guy and Little Guy

Big Guy and Little Guy

Star Wars and Dad's Toys

Star Wars and Dad's Toys

And these would be from my own personal collection…  A few of what’s left, anyway.  I’ve collected Star Wars for 30 years now.  Yup, since I was a toddler.  On the left is a talking Darth Vader stuffie, the Empire Strikes Back action figure Bossk the Bounty Hunter (behind him is another packaged figure; Han Solo in Hoth Gear).  Next  to that you have the Hammerhead figure, Roron Corobb (The Clone Wars cartoon).  Behind Roron Corobb, there’s Luke Skywalker, dressed in ceremonial garb from the ending of A New Hope (when he received the medal for destroying the Death Star).  Over on the right, yes, that would be the original 1983 Rancor Monster and Darth Vader Action Figure Holding Case.  Inside are TONS of figures made between the years 1977 and 2007. 

Last but not least, the blue phone box in the center is Doctor Who’s time machine, the TARDIS.  It blinks, it flashes, it makes sounds, and David Tennant’s voice emits from it.  It also doubles for a coin bank.  I used to have a couple of Dapol ‘Who’ figures and a Tom Baker doll back in the day, too.  All this and more will be handed down to my boy when he gets a little older.  Unless he wants to trade his 2008 Hess truck, mind you. 

Then came Christmas Day (or Boys and Toys)…

Wakey, Wakey, it's Christmas Morning

Wakey, Wakey, it's Christmas Morning

Oh snap! Santa was here!

Oh snap! Santa was here!

Decisions, decisions.  Which shoud I open first?

Decisions, decisions. Which shoud I open first?

Betty Crocker 43-piece play food set

Betty Crocker 43-piece play food set

Another shot of the Betty Crocker set

Another shot of the Betty Crocker set

Opening the other gifts - 2008 Hess Truck (grandpa)

Opening the other gifts - 2008 Hess Truck (grandpa)

Never too young to write - Leap Frog Phonics Writing Desk

Never too young to write - Leap Frog Phonics Writing Desk

Matchbox talking pirate/skull mountain playset

Matchbox talking pirate/skull mountain playset

Toy ATM Machine and Toy Shopping Food Cart

Toy ATM Machine and Toy Shopping Food Cart

Animal Planet Remote Control Tarantula - I loved this!

Animal Planet Remote Control Tarantula - I loved this!

Some MORE Mr. Men books by Roger Hargreaves

Some MORE Mr. Men books by Roger Hargreaves

2008 Limited Edition HESS Truck w. snow tractor (from Grandpa)

2008 Limited Edition HESS Truck w. snow tractor (from Grandpa)

Christmas toys and books

Christmas toys and books

Noon spelling lesson

Noon spelling lesson

Time to visit the relatives

Time to visit the relatives

Other gifts for the 2008 holiday included a Curious George Doll and children’s book set, a few Berenstain Bears children’s books, a plush recliner for toddlers from Land of Nod, a Remote Control Spider (which I think I already posted), a Little Tykes Piggie flashlight, and for me, books yet to be read.  There were some small NERF balls, too.  However, the Pillsbury Doughboy is not new.   Very old school.

At the end of the day it’s time to finish off the season right… Watching the Doctor Who Christmas Special via BBC satellite, like every year, or on a Web forum tonight.  David Tennant and David Morrissey in the long-awaited episode: THE NEXT DOCTOR.

Cheers,

And Happy Holidays!

Lawrence R. Dagstine