Sunday, April 24, 2016

Marvel Collector Corps April Unboxing: Captain America: Civil War

I'm alive! Sure that seems fairly obvious given that this is a new post but keep in mind I survived one of the longest weeks of my life. Started the new second job and endured it's ungodly early morning schedule, visited the doctors office, took care of business at the secretary of state, even had to deal with some cloths shopping. My days were measurable by the pain levels in my poor feet. Hearing the news of Prince's death during work on Thursday pretty much made me think the entire week was the embodiment of suck. Thanks be to Galactus that the mailman was nice enough to deliver my new Marvel Collector Corps package. What a magnificent sight to behold.

Unlike the last two boxes, I actually let this one get spoiled beforehand. Partly this was because there were already a ton of spoilers out on the net before my box even shipped, but mainly it's that it was the day before starting work and I needed a good reminder of why money is such a nice thing to have.

Opening the box we get the customary patch & pin and boy howdy are these nice this time around. Black Panther takes center stage on the pin and looks quite nice. Patch duties are handed over to Crossbones who easily makes for the best one yet. I'm thinking ot doing a small shadow box display for these as I go along since I'm still not the type to actually apply these to any garments or bags.

Another tiny inclusion this month, one that I'm not sure how to feel about is a lanyard. Here's the thing, I'm simply not a lanyard guy. My keys go in my pocket and that's good enough for me. I don't hang em around my neck, arms, or wherever. Nor do I feel the need for a larger bulge in my pants. On the upside, it is a cool item and seems pretty well made. I'm just not quite sure what to do with it.

Turning to clothing we get what is easily my favorite shirt so far. The use of colors and variety of characters make for such a fine piece of clothing. I can attest from my previous box that these shirts fit nicely and hold up quite well under repeated wear. Definitely going to wear this to the theater, no shame whatsoever.

I was a little surprised at Black Panther being the comic this month instead of anything Captain America related. I suppose it works from a long term marketing standpoint. I just expected something different. On the upside this is the best issue I've gotten from MCC so far. The writing is solid, art's very nice, and unlike that sloppy Deadpool comic, I'm actually interested in seeing how this story develops.

Now the best part of every box. It's toy time! We've got an unmasked Iron Man Dorbz figure which ranks a bit low in the rankings for my admittedly small Dorbz collection. That's not to say it's bad so much that when compared to the Horror ones or even fellow Marvel chiropractors like Ghost Rider, this just comes across as a little basic. It's still nicely painted and I love who solid these little guy are built. I'm really not trying to be mean cause I still like the figure, he's just not a standout figure.

Ensuring that this box wins us fans over, Funko threw in a Pop two-pack of Captain America and Iron Man in new action poses. Iron Man is actually one of those new clear base airborne varieties which makes him the main feature over Cap's somewhat basic stance. Seeing as these kinds of double packs usually cost in the upper teens at stores, this is a real treat on top of all of the other goodies.

A new feature this time around is a fact sheet that discuses the development process of every item in the box. On one hand this is neat as you get to see the progression of sketches and concepts to the finished product. What's a little cruel though is that Funko notes some of the other items that were originally supposed to be included. In this case they mention that the box was supposed to have a Sam Wilson Captain America Pop and launch a new product line. I love what I got but I have to ask, what happened to that Pop? What's the new line? It seems weird to sour this newest patch of goodies with hints of what might have been. Hopefully we'll hear something about those items soon.

Once again, Marvel Collector Corps has left me very satisfied. This has proven to be the most continuously solid subscription box I've tried and I'm gonna stick with it for a long time to come. The quality of this service shone through all the more when compared to this month's Loot Crate which put my sister in quite a huff. If anyone out there wants to join, you've got until mid-June to nab the Women of Power box. As a lover of Marvel's Superheroines, I am crazy excited for that one.

That's a wrap for now. I've gotta get back to enjoying my free time before another long work week. I plan to have a couple of new Sentai articles up soon along with a piece for Dread Central. I'll see you all soon.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Spring Snacks: M&M's Nut Flavors, Mystery Peeps, and Amazing Cheese Balls.

Big announcement! I've got an article up on! That's right, no longer am I solely confined to the world of blogger. Someone has actually seen fit to carry my inane ramblings to an even bigger audience. If you're at all interested, check out my post over there and maybe leave a comment or spread it around. It'll earn you some good karma, I guess. Check it out.

Writing for other websites isn't the only thing I've been up to lately. I also got a new job, apparently a new doctor, and all sorts of fun new things. Basically I've been busy with a lot of real world responsibility lately. You know, the boring stuff. Other than a couple appointments and starting the new job, things should return to the proper flow sloth and ignorance soon.
That break from regular blogging means I've got a backlog of things to talk about like the surge of springtime snacks that have been hitting stores lately. Seeing as I was strolling through ankle deep snow a week ago, the sudden shit to nearly eighty degree weather is confounding to say the least. Outsiders may not know it, but when Tim Allen does those soothing travel ads, sudden and violent shifts in temperature is Pure Michigan. The accompanying onset of pollen has left me a little dimwitted as well. Having the option of opening the windows and listening to the toads and crickets is a fair trade for the frequent brain farts. What was I talking about again? Oh yes, candy.

One of the biggest product launches going on now is M&M's nut face-off. This threesome of Honey-Nut, Coffee-nut, and Chili-nut are competing for a place in the regular line-up based on a voting competition. I grabbed all three from Walgreen's figuring I'd enjoy at least one of them. I mean it's M&M's. The pretzel variety is piratically mana from heaven. None of these deserve to share self space with their candy brethren. Without a doubt this is the worst selection of vote for your favorite flavors I've ever encountered. Honey is overdone and seems artificial, coffee is weak and dirty tasting, and the less said about chili the better. Thankfully I've got this GIF to properly illustrate my reaction. Suddenly spending three hours on giphy seems totally worthwhile.

Unwilling to be outdone by candy, the folks at Little Debbie have given the Zebra treatment to Cake Rolls, Nutty Bars, and Brownies. I could only bring myself to buy two of these as I remain convinced Debbie's brownies are a pox straight from hell.
Zebra Nutty Bars turned out alright. Nothing amazing but nothing to scoff at. They've got a few interesting cosmetic differences to help them seem special but in reality they don't even match up to their normal counterpart.
Zebra Cake Rolls on the other hand deserve a regular spot in the Debbie selection. Pretty much everyone can agree that both traditional Swiss Cake Rolls and Zebra Cakes are awesome in their own right. The merging of the two is positively divine. You get the Zebra flavor with the heft and moisture of the Rolls, god is it ever a good mixture. Plus they're enormous! Absolutely a proper snack for big lads like myself. You should go stock up.

Now I dunno about you folks but for me and the nephew/nieces, Peeps are kind of a big deal. We indulge in every new variety that comes our way and even mix a few of em for extra fun. Part of this Easter's line-up were three new entries in the mystery flavor category. Last year's mystery turned out to be the very tasty fruit punch which got its own proper and hard to find release this year. As for this new contenders, let's take a look.
Flavor #1 wasn't too bad. I felt confident they were aiming for some kind of choco flavor and sure enough these are supposed to be Hot Chocolate. They're definitely not going to please every peep fan but they were at least an interesting novelty.
Flavor #2: Was gross, very gross. Not quite as bad as some of last fall's varieties but there was some sort of salty corn thing going on that just doesn't work in marshmallow form. Some studying revealed that the flavor is supposed to be Buttered Popcorn. I can only imagine the person who came up with this idea was trying to get fired.
Thankfully Flavor #3 proved to be legitimately tasty. At first it seemed like an alternate take on the Fruit Punch flavor but according to the internet, these are supposed to be Sour Cherry. I find that a little surprising as these lack the severe edge sour versions bring to the table. Wouldn't mind seeing these return someday.

Another Peep variety on the market is Cotton Candy. As a fan of both treats these were such a good way to induce sugar shock. They completely nailed the flavor. I supposed there's some poor soul who sees this as the merging of two great evils. In a way they're right. So yea, I love em.

Possibly the best surprise in the Easter candy department was the slew of new Russel Stovers Marshmallow Eggs. I didn't get to try all of them but of the ones I managed to sneak into my lower intestine, three stood out as special. First up was Key Lime which was nearly too strong but for those of us who like our lime with some kick, this was good. Pineapple turned out be pretty damn tasty by being lite and nuanced. There was just enough fruit flavor to set it apart from the pack. The winner of the trio and one I hope to see return is Mango. It walked the line between the other two, being lighter than Key Lime with just a little more fruitiness than Pineapple. I took down more than my fair share of these and I'm not ashamed of it.
Your best bet at finding these is probably at the nearest Walgreen's. They may still have a few on clearance and I'd recommend you buy up as many as possible.

The next snack is hardly new but I felt the need to share it for anyone looking to relive some old memories. Those of us who are old enough fondly remember Planters Cheese Balls. In the vast landscape of cheese puffs, nothing could compare to a can of Planters. They were moist, flavorful, amazing testaments to mankind's gluttony. For some reason the dumb bastards stopped making it years ago, leaving many of us with fond memories and an urge to find a proper replacement. That's where Better Made steps in.
For those who don't know, Better Made is a Detroit based snack company that makes the standard spread of potato chips and the like. Recently I decided to try out their Cheese Balls since Menards had them on sale and oh god what find they are. This is the closet I've come to finding a true replacement for the old Planters stuff. It's incredibly cheesy, very moist, leaves a think orange film on your fingers that demands to be sucked off. Lord is this ever a suggestive food review. Even the packaging is a fair proximity to the old classic. If you're in distribution range of Better Made stuff, you owe it to yourself yo pick up a can of these lovely balls.

Well kids. I've actually been writing about snack foods until sunrise. I need to get some sleep for another busy week. Let me know of any awesome foods you find out in the world and wish me luck with the new job. I'll be back soon. Enough to work on this backlog of goodies.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Ritz Salsa Verde Corn Chips Review

(The following article was my second entry sample for a snack food reviewer position on another website. While my Batman cereal review had gone over well enough to place me in the second round, this one obviously didn't fare quite as well since I didn't get the job.
In the interest of never letting an article go to waste and making a quick post during a rather busy week here's the second food review. Enjoy.)

It seems we're living in a renaissance of entertainment, not so much in quality as quantity. There are more television shows than at any point in history, not to mention movies, novels, comics, games, sports, songs, blogs, vlogs, podcasts, and livestreams. How we haven't grown permanently attached to our chairs is a mystery. It could be argued that there's no need for this much content. Lord knows I tap out at two shows about hunting Bigfoot. What can't be denied is that people need fuel to power through all these delightful distractions. Thankfully the modern snack aisle is equipped to meet this growing demand with an ever changing supply of salty treats. Case in point, new Ritz Salsa Verde Toasted Corn Chips.

Through the years, Ritz brand has made multiple attempts at branching out of the traditional cracker mold. Several of these efforts have been decent enough to stay on the market, though none offer enough pure enjoyment to emerge as top tier treats. Their rather lackluster track record held my enthusiasm in check when I approached a display of their latest offering. I was also wary because chips and crackers face a tough audience in my home, where not only must they satisfy my needs, but also the needs of the hungry mini hippos, otherwise known as corgis, who gather around at the sound of the first crunch.

Opening the bag provided quite the surprise as I was smacked by a powerful, almost body-odor-like scent. Such a scent usually accompanies chipotle flavored snacks which made it seem as if Ritz may have grossly miscalculated the intended flavor. Over time, however, this scent mellowed significantly, an improvement as this first whiff has as much in common with these chips as Prince does with sensible fashion.

After sampling the rather strong scent, I imagined an equally robust flavor. Imagine my confusion then as I met with a very light and balanced taste. There's a pop of spice accompanied by traces of vegetables, all held in just the right ratios. No single element ever outweighs the others. Likewise, the spice only provides a warming sensation, never a full burn. The overall effect is almost refreshing as it wakes up your senses without overstimulating them.

Soon enough the idea struck to try these with dips and spreads. Usually I avoid such combos as flavored chips tend to clash with or overpower other foods. Not the case here at all. Items as simple as traditional hummus all the way to bold horseradish cheddar combined wonderfully with the crisp salsa taste of each chip. Bonus points for them being sturdy enough to withstand a good dip or two.

Sadly, it's not all sunshine and rainbows. Despite the balanced flavor, these chips offer a halfhearted texture that starts crunchy before turning to grainy mush. This isn't a major issue at first, but over time it becomes akin to something not unlike wet insulation. This makes each chip slightly less enjoyable than the last. For someone watching their weight, consider this a bonus as it makes them significantly easier to put down.

Poor texture choices aside, these are still a solid snack. Sure, they aren't liable to change your lifelong eating habits, but they provide a nice alternative for those times you're craving something a little lighter. I'm positive they'll sustain you through half a weekend of true ghost stories, and satisfy roaring corgis.

Item: Ritz Salsa Verde Toasted Corn Chips
Purchased Price: $3.19
Size: 8oz bag
Purchased at: Meijer
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Crisp, balanced flavor. Pairs excellently with dips and spreads. The first chip bag in months that hasn't exploded or shredded apart completely upon opening.
Cons: Initial scent is totally misleading. Dull, mushy texture. Prince's work with the New Power Generation.

Nutrition Facts: Serving Size 1 oz. Servings per container about 8. Calories 140. Calories from fat 60. Total fat 6g. Saturated fat 0.5g. Trans fat 0g. Polyunsaturated fat 1.5g. Monounsaturated fat 3.5g. Cholesterol 0mg. Sodium 140mg. Potassium 60mg. Total carbohydrate 19g. Dietary fiber 1g. Sugars 2g. Protean 1g.