Book Review: “Mars Attacks,” A Retrospective

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If you were ever once a kid chances are there was something you loved to collect. For me it was Archie comics, for my brother it was lead soldiers and baseball cards, for my BFF up the block it was miniature spoons (don’t ask) and for some kids who were of prime collecting age in 1962 it was the graphic Mars Attacks trading cards. Before Tim Burton directed his 1996 film version (inspired by, methinks, the series’ 1994 rerelease), Mars Attacks was a trading card series produced by Topps, a company better remembered, perhaps, for their baseball cards packaged with a bright pink piece of Bazooka Joe brand bubble gum, which was manufactured onsite at their headquarters in Brooklyn. The Mars Attacks card packs also came with a heavily powdered slab of the delightfully difficult-to-chew gum, but unlike Topps’ other long-running series, Mars Attacks’ saga of alien destruction was considered too controversial and was shut down soon after production began.

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The scenes depicted on the cards were actually toned down from even more gruesome images of dogs set ablaze by laser beams and battered corpses, human and alien alike, but parents, teachers, reporters and the local DA thought the battle scenes were still too bloody and the women way too buxom for young children’s eyes.

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After printing ground to a halt the cards’ value soared; A full set of 55 cards is worth $25,000 today—more if you throw in an original wrapper or two. Adding to its cult classic status is the fact that the artwork for Mars Attacks was painted by Norm Saunders, “one of the most lauded pulp cover illustrators of the 40s and 50s.” Since every card needed to pop with the action and intensity of a pulp book cover, Saunders’ contribution was instrumental to the cards overwhelmingly popular reception amongst kids and teenagers as well as the adoration of fans that lives on today.

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moleskine smart notebook for evernote digitizes handwriting and sketches

sketchbook manufacturer moleskine has teamed up with application developer evernote to create pocket-sized notebooks capable of transforming hand-written text into digital files.

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Crafstman Revival in Downtown LA

In the heart of downtown LA, tucked casually and nondescript amongst the graffiti and industrial buildings, there is a small group of craftsman operating under the name District Millworks. The only indication that there is a business in the building is an address and name on the door to the front entrance, however, once inside, you will find the outfitted design studio, workshop and showroom of dedicated craftsmen who are creating truly unique products that wear the descriptions rustic and modern seamlessly.

Specializing in repurposed materials, reclaimed wood, and metalwork, their pieces and installations are starting to pop up in restaurants, boutiques, offices, and showcased homes in LA and beyond. They are a young company from humble beginnings, and the team is a fairly quiet bunch, but they let the saws and their work speak for them. If you have the chance to slip in, prepare to be pleasantly surprised and take the opportunity to try out their custom built shuffleboard table or swing from the 20ft swing inside their showroom. More.

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Making the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier Fly

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It’s admittedly a far-fetched and kooky transportation design, but the flying quadrotor helicarrier featured in The Avengers, which wasn’t exactly a documentary, captured the imagination of youthful moviegoers earlier this year. It also came to the attention of a certain 40-something modelmaker and RC enthusiast from Arkhangelsk, Russia, who goes by the handle Native18. Google Translator’s done a spotty job, but from what we gather, Native18 is well-known in the Russian RC community, and on this forum, that community discusses Hollywood-designed vehicles and if they can be replicated. The S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier challenge was posed to Native18.

Blueprints don’t exactly exist for the thing, so “Nate” had to pull the scene from the movie that best shows the overall vehicle:

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From that he was able to break out the following two stills and attempt to reverse-engineer the form.

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Next came the modelmaking and construction process (along with a healthy amount of forum debate, in jargon-laced Russian, about what would and wouldn’t fly, literally).

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