Built-Rite "Western Junior Picture Puzzle" #100 (1950's)

Jigsaw puzzles are always a risk...let's face it; what are the chances that the whole thing is really there?  There's no way to tell, save standing in the store and counting pieces (and I saw an old lady doing that one day)...but I'm not gonna do that.
Lots of factors go into me buying an item like this.  First, it's so obviously from the 1950's'; secondly, it has that art style that makes it unique to the time; thirdly, Western-themed items are just not something you see anymore.  The last thing I do is examine the box.  If it's in good shape, and if the pieces are clean and not damaged, then there's a good chance that, if somebody took care of it, it's all present.  And it was!
I didn't even mention that someone is smoking (even though that is a fact of history, and in this case, culture).  100 pieces is the right amount for a leisurely puzzle to do in one sitting.  I did learn something interesting about Built-Rite though.  They made tons and tons of puzzles, and I began to notice that some pieces were cut in a bizarre fashion...this is because they liked to sneak in some recognizable shapes!
That was an unusual and fun discovery.  It's nice that in all the gazillion puzzles that have been made over the years, one company was at least having fun with it.


The Return of BlockTech SUPERHEROES!! A Review (Such As It Is)

Ok, as promised...I only saw them at Target that one time, and lo and behold, they were at my favorite thrift store for a dollar less.  Yes, three bucks is too high for these, but two?? And unopened at that...imagine somebody not wanting these! Hold your nose...let's dive in.
I like how the box art doesn't say "collect them all," because they are all in this box...no, you are commanded instead to COLLECT THEM! As I stated in the previous article, most (if not all) of these names are actual comic characters, so I don't know what has been accomplished here.  Let's look at them individually...
This is "Smasher," also known as the "Green One." He is totally not Hulk, because he wears blue pants, and they are not torn.  Interestingly, his abdomen has more detail than his face.
From the front, these may be passable as minifigures to the average grandmother, or untrained eye, but from the back, all hopes for any quality at all are lost.  The legs are hollow, as are the heads, beneath the hair-pieces, as if just waiting for brains to be added.  Hulk Smasher is the only one with a serial number embossed across his backside.  Which is weird.
The name "Smasher" is not only a character in Image comics, it is also used for multiple people in Marvel (I knew about the Spider-Man one).  Which is weird, because the name is so lame, you wouldn't expect that.
"Metalman" is a very odd figure.  While the name suggests a robot (or...armor-covered character...get it??!), his mask only covers the front of his head, and we are left with a bald, flesh-colored head, with prominent ears...and, as a previous reader pointed out, a Devo hat! (All of the heads have prominent ears, and you will notice that any hair-pieces have to squeeze over the ears just to fit.)  I'm not sure what the dangling straps are supposed to refer to, and he is also the only figure with yellow underpants over his actual pants...or something.  You will notice from the box art, his arms were supposed to be yellow as well, to further suggest the red-and-yellow armored Avenger, but didn't end up that way.  A note on the arms, while we are on the subject:  as you can see, they detach where the elbow would be.  Not only is this odd, but it creates some unwanted articulation, and would be the first place to break.
Not only that, from the back, he looks like...
Of course, DC comics have some "Metal Men," but "Metal Man" is a Mega Man villain.

Next we have "Falconman." I understand that the bizarre name is to somehow tie in the Falcon, but this guy's byline should be "The Man Without A Country," because his costume could relate to several other flags, as shown above.
From the back, he kind of looks like Thomas the Tank Engine.
Next we have "Revenge," who apparently is an amalgamation of Hawkeye and Black Widow (you may remember the original Gatchaman villain, Berg Katse, who was both genders at once)...you may note what you think is a touch of lipstick, but then you see our next figure, who also has the same head.  The less said about this, the better.  I can't find any comic characters quickly that share this name, but I think it's obvious that this character is named after a 1967 Bill Cosby album.

Lastly, let me introduce you to "Lightning Bolt" [snicker].
Yep, no hammer accessory (I mean, that would just be plagarism!), and coming off more "He-Man" than "Thor," we have this guy.  Who may be wearing lipstick.  Note his V-shaped armor piece, and oddly-placed belt...
...which completely disappear when you see his back.  Also, he may be mooning us.

So there you have it...five Block Tech SUPERHEROES for less than the cost of one of those ridiculous blind-bagged Lego guys...I mean, you don't even know who you are getting! Am I right, Grandma?


Lego 76052 - Classic TV Series Batcave Review!

Unbelievable, but it happened! After last year's LEGO BATMAN 3 game, where you got to play an entire level within the 1966 show, it became painfully obvious how amazing all of this would be as an actual set....Lego must have thought so too!

And it's huuuuge.  2526 pieces in a 10-pound box.  And they didn't scrimp when it came to extras, as we shall see.  (Not to mention 9 minifigures!)
Bags upon bags upon bags...
The set consists of three parts, which can be hooked together (in more than one configuration) to make the Batcave and Stately Wayne Manor, as well as three vehicles.  And speaking of that, the first bag contains the 1966 George Barris Batmobile!
It's a jewel, complete with red phone, Bat-Turn lever (nice touch!), printed hubcaps, and a handy trunk to keep accessories in:
Now, I will say that since it's Lego, they had to put two of their stud-shooter guns on the front, but they really aren't obtrusive.  I would have left them off, but they are working them in everywhere, so it's just the way it is.  That said, isn't the beauty of Lego that you can change something you don't like...yourself?
Last year (or before that), we got the first 1966 Batmobile, which was a Comic-Con exclusive.  It was meant to be cute, and it was, but it doesn't hold a candle to this new one.  A kind soul published the building instructions online, and if you went that route like I did, you will benefit from the scan of the label sheet at the end of this article, because this little one badly needs door decals.
Of course, the exclusive one was meant to be sort of super-deformed, while this new one is better to scale with everything else.
Bag(s) marked #2 are the main unit of the playset, consisting of Wayne Manor on top, and the Batpoles and cave entrance below.  There must be a thousand pieces in the #2 bags alone, and if you are breaking up your build by steps, this is going to be a long one.
The crown jewel of the playset is this room from Wayne Manor.  I am happy to say that while the playset includes a sheet of 29 labels, the "wallpaper" bricks are printed.
The bust of Shakespeare lifts up to reveal the button, the bookcase slides back, and the Batpoles are revealed! As difficult as it is to be critical about this set, I will say that I found myself wishing this level of the playset was a few studs bigger all the way around.  The room is crowded for three minifigures, and since the flooring is tiled, they fall off easily if your table wobbles.  Between the globe and the desk, not much floorspace is left.  I know some people will complain that these Batpoles do not go all the way down, but there's actually some rationale here.  You can put Bruce and Dick into this section, close it up, and then already have the real Batpoles loaded with Batman and Robin, who are held in place by means of a hinged platform.  Releasing the platform causes them to spin to the bottom (by the way, they hold onto handlebars that are threaded around the spiral poles.)
Since we have so much of the house (the entire front of this section of the playset is the facade of Wayne Manor), Lego had to go ahead and top it off, resulting in some scaffolding and an old-school TV antenna...oh, and a cat, which they insist you put up there.  Not sure why.
Possibly for Catwoman?
So in the end, we have a neat, but crowded, Wayne Manor study, and then at least a foot of Batpole space, which is a very involved build, as I've said.  But then we get into the actual Batcave:
The middle unit of the playset is the Reactor, which if I remember right, somebody actually fell into in the 1966 movie.  In this photo, you can see some of the many accessories you get:  several computers, tables of chemicals, a filing cabinet, and more.  Several of the computers are placed to the left and right of the reactor, but you can move them around and have quite a bank of machinery--a room-full of equipment that the phone in your pocket can out-perform.
The reactor is impressive, but it's one of those hinged builds that has to sit onto a base, and never really anchors down.  The four leaning columns help in this regard, but it's not seated enough to stay put when you are moving that component of the playset around...in the end it's really background anyway, so it's not a huge deal.  Again, many, many slopes and arches in order to enclose it...which is a little bit of drudgery, but looks good when completed.
The third unit is a garage for the Batmobile, and a landing pad for the Bat-Copter on top.  I don't recall ever seeing in the show exactly where the Bat-Copter was kept, but this works nicely for the playset.  The Copter itself is a nice touch; I thought I wouldn't end up liking it nearly as much as I did.  Oh, and the dome is printed, so THANK YOU Lego for that.
My problem was the garage part for the Batmobile...I should point out that I did this build in one afternoon, and I'm sure I was getting weary of tan slopes and wedges.  They shorted me a tile piece, and apparently gave me an extra of something else, but that's not my concern here.  I probably won't be alone in complaining about the OUTSIDE of this component...to me, it should look like a cave, with lots of underbrush around it, complete with KEEP OUT sign or whatever it was...you know what I mean [NOTE: I may have been thinking of the "GOTHAM CITY 14 MILES" one].  Like the show.  Instead, the opposite side has the exact same facade that the front does.  The reason for this, admittedly, is so that the playset can be laid out in the opposite direction as the second photo shows.  You could have Wayne Manor on the right, and the other parts to the left.  They show you this in the manual;  I just don't see the need for it.  It would have been much, much better to wall in the reactor (yes, even though it would mean more rocks and tan), and then decorate the exit area for the Batmobile.  Then the entire outside of the playset would be as detailed as the front of Wayne Manor....but I don't want to complain too much!
The third vehicle is a motorcycle with sidecar.  Nothing fancy, but included for completeness.  You can park it to the side of the Batmobile.
Now let's get to the minifigures!
All are amazing, and almost every one has an alternate face.  At first I thought that Dick Grayson should have the "short legs," but that would require Robin to have them too, and he needs to be able to sit down!  The printing on the minifigures is extraordinary.  Some details, like the Joker's pinstripe pants, are even side-printed!  And why no Batgirl? Well, I think this is the "1966" Batcave, so she wouldn't be around yet.  I suppose it leaves an opening for a future set?
There is a rumor that Mr. Freeze is planned to come out later in a polybag, so anything's possible.  By the way, the Penguin does have the short legs, as he has before.  And I can't say enough about Caesar Romero's visible moustache!! Well done! All we are missing are the exclamatory sound effects:
Like that.  While $270 is quite a pretty penny for this set, I ordered as soon as it became available, as it was my most-wanted set this year, and that's saying something.  I am very thrilled with it, and congratulations to Lego for a bang-up job! 
Now here is the label sheet, and like I said, my main reason for scanning it is to provide door decals for the previous Batmobile:
Before we go, here are a couple of photos I took while having fun with some parts from the 6" action figures:


"What Is Wrong?" from HOW DO WE KNOW (1946)

I will often buy antique school books.  I find them hard to resist.  If I stumble on one old enough, or--especially if the artwork has that amazing style and color that just doesn't exist in printed material today--it's an insta-purchase.  Here is one that actually came from the storage building treasure-trove of my late uncle.  I'm not sure where he got it, but it has a grocery store-type price tag on it labeled "MEAT."  That sets the tone nicely for what is to follow.

The book, called HOW DO WE KNOW, is from 1946, and it is apparently a "science lite" type of gradeschool book. It's packed with paintings and text about going outside and observing things, playing, and that sort of stuff.  It's been on my shelf a couple of years, and the other day I decided to flip through it...and found this very interesting couple of pages.

This section is called "What Is Wrong?" and is exactly what it sounds like, but the artwork quickly becomes a study in surrealism. I think lots of these paintings would make a good album cover, or backgrounds for a really fun CD booklet.  Enjoy!

I don' t know about you, but that frog terrifies me.
I must confess I have stared at the final picture for quite a while...the best I can come up with is that the stork/crane has the wrong feet, but they ended on a weird note here.