Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Product Review: McFarlane Sports Figures

The McFarlane sports figures are one of my favorite collectables.  Back in the day all we had were smaller starting lineup figures if you liked to collect figures of players.  These were standard body type figures like this Robin Yount Starting Lineup figure.  Not the smooshed body variety or bobble heads just good old action figures of sports folks.  Now we have McFarlane figures.  McFarlane started in the early 2000's producing sports figures and releases updates every year to include current players and legends.  The line covers the major sports to include the NHL, NBA, NFL and MLB players as well as former college football players.  The McFarlane site can be found here.  It is actually  This is in reference to Todd McFarlane's comic book character Spawn whom he created and is maybe most famous for. 

The figures themselves have great detail and the poses are very good ranging from action shots to sideline and non-action poses.  There is a good variety of players and teams that are represented.  There are always players you wish they had but nobody is perfect.  Some players also get more love than others which again isn't a surprise.  This means you'll see multiple Peyton Manning and LeBron James figures.  Not a bad thing just part of the deal since they have to make money.  You can check out what has been produced for each sport by clicking on the league's logo on the front page of the website or by choosing the appropriate sport from the Toys drop down at the top of the page.  This will allow you to browse each wave of figures by year as well as see those upcoming. 

Each wave has the base figures and will normally have some figures that have different paint schemes.  Usually home and road jersey options or even the uniform of a player's former team.  There are also chase figures and figures that can only be purchased through memberships in the collectors club through the website.  Their store is here.  Most figures are still found easily through online retailers and auction websites.  Local retailers also stock them but it is hit and miss.  Toy-R-Us, Hastings and Target are your best bets though I still see them at some of the bigger Wal-Marts.  Some of the older more rare and/or more popular figures may come with a hefty price but the base figures can start at anywhere from $7 to $20 but again that is based on popularity and availability.  McFarlane also offers different licensed action figures such as Halo, Walking Dead, Assassin's Creed, as well as music artists. 

The figures themselves are great.  I am that sports guy who is a big fan of my teams and favorite players.  This gives me one more way to show my support.  I only wish I had more room to put them out.  Still I love the detail, poses and variety.  They are also durable but watch out for some of the smaller or thinner accessories like balls, bats, sticks and helmets.  I highly suggest these to anyone who is a big sports fan or knows one and might want to give one as a gift.   The figures are typically 6 inches but with accessories definitely can be bigger.  McFarlane also produces a 12" line on a much smaller scale.  There are also special edition figures that come out from time to time for an event such as the World Series or NBA Finals winners three packs.  Also customer figures can found or requested on the auction sites or with a quick search of the internet of "custom McFarlane figures" via Google or your favorite search engine.  Again don't hesitate to check them out. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons agree to 5 year $103 million dollar extension

Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons agreed to a 5 year $103 million dollar extension this week.  This is a great move by the Falcons.  Falcons fans, me included, have to be thrilled.  "Matty Ice" may already be the best quarterback in the franchise's history.  No disrespect to Steve Bartkowski who may be the most beloved Falcons quarterback in history (he's my favorite).  But Matt Ryan already has 56 wins in his five seasons compared to 55 wins for Bartkowski in 11 seasons.  Yes, Chris Chandler took the Falcons to the Super Bowl but his five seasons aren't enough to put him at the top and don't get me started on Michael Vick.  Chris Miller is the only other QB in the discussion but he probably at the bottom of the pack.  The next six seasons will cement Matt Ryan's legacy in the history of the Atlanta Falcons.

Matt Ryan has already won 56 games and has twice as many touchdown as interceptions (127-60) while racking up a career quarterback rating of 90.9.  He's completed less than 61% of his passes only once.  Sure he is only 1-4 in playoff games but the Falcons have been to the playoffs for four out of the last five years with the expectation being they'll continue to be there for the immediate future.  His performance puts him right there with the best there is in the game.  Don't beat him up for his playoff performances yet.  He is 27 and just entering his prime.

He is worth every penny.  This contract puts him right up there behind Aaron Roger and above Joe Flacco when it comes to dollars.  It doesn't mean he is the second best quarterback, because he isn't, but that is today's market.  There are not that many great quarterbacks and he is one of them and you aren't winning without one.  While defenses can still win games you need an excellent quarterback to score in today's pass happy era.  So while Ryan's price tag is not cheap it is the going rate and you couldn't let him walk after this season.  Waiting to extend him could have also meant the price might go up in a year.   

I love this move.  If you look at the bottom half of the league and the issues those teams have at quarterback you have to feel good that we (yeah I am one of those guys) are set at quarterback for years to come.  Hopefully Atlanta can continue to keep weapons around him and upgrade the defense.  The NFC has many good teams that will continue to challenge for the top of the conference each season but there is no reason to believe Atlanta won't be one of them for the next six seasons. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Movie Review: Despicable Me 2

Was able to see Despicable Me 2 over the weekend with the family.  The youngest is 12 and the others range from 18 to 25.  Oh and me, the 44 year-old old fart.  We all enjoyed the movie and it is very funny.  They were able to keep a good balance between all the characters as they each are important to making this franchise funny - Gru, the girls and of course the minions ( who doesn't love the minions).  New to the mix was Lucy as a partner to Gru (you'll have to watch for the details).  She is good add to the mix.  As this is an animated movie I won't try to dissect it too much but some of my favorite parts were watching Gru struggle with Margo's "dating" a boy.  As a father of four girls I can so relate.  Bottom line is it was funny and very easy to watch.  I highly recommend it to everyone. 

Catching Up With the NBA Offseason

The last week has been very busy and the excitement of the Finals is carrying over for me as there has been a flurry of activity in the way of free agent signings and agreed to trades.  It has been a really exciting week and I want to talk about at least a few of the deals.

Dwight Howard signs with Houston Rockets:  It all begins and ends with Dwight Howard.  No big shock that he ends up in Houston.  I think this is the right move for him.  He is paired up with a scorer who can shoot from the outside in James Harden and is now in a town that doesn't eat it's own.  Will he win a championship?  I don't think so but with San Antonio possibly near the end of their run (2-3 years?) and Los Angeles on the down tick that leaves Oklahoma City as the team to beat.  And there is no reason to think this team can't beat the Thunder assuming Houston can put some good supporting pieces in place.  Rumors are Houston center Amer Asik wants to be traded and also that Jeremy Lin might be on the way out as well.  Hopefully they can bring back some valuable players.  Bottom line this is a good deal for all involved and I see no reason Houston can't compete in the near future. 

Josh Smith signs with Detroit Pistons:  This hurts Atlanta as they lose a scorer and dynamic player.  It only hurts because there isn't a ready replacement.  Al Horford is a natural power forward and might do even better if he can move back to the 4.  Not that the Hawks have a starting center ready to take over that spot (backup Zaza Pachulia bolted for Milwaukee).  Detroit gets that scorer/dynamic player but also get a guy who isn't a classic power forward and thinks he can hit shots from the outside.  And no he can't.  But I'm sure Detroit knows this and he will fit in fine in their system.  I was curious as to where he would go and hadn't heard any rumblings about the Pistons.  All good.  Should help setup Atlanta in the future as they have some extra cap room to improve moving forward.

Andre Iguodala signs with Golden State Warriors:  I love this move.  The Warriors already have a scorer in Stephan Curry and Iguodala will fit well in the front court with Bogut and Lee.  He won't be expected to score and will be able to concentrate on defense.  The Warriors also cleared out dead wood while getting valuable cap space in a trade with Utah.  I really like what they've done and they could easily be a top four team in the Western Conference soon. 

Al Jefferson signs with Charlotte Bobcats:  This team isn't going anywhere anytime soon but this gives them a legit center who can anchor the middle.  Again this isn't a conference changing move but I really thought it was a good move for Charlotte.  Jefferson for his part will be the man and should be able to rack up good numbers assuming there is anything resembling a team around him.

Jarrett Jack signs with Cleveland Cavaliers:  Another move that isn't going to be changing any futures of the league but I think he is a very good shooting guard and teaming with Kyrie Irving should be a big plus.

Andrew Bynum to ???:  The league is a weird contradiction.  It loves to run and gun while kicking to the guy at the three-point line.  Still everyone covets the big man especially come the playoffs when games tend to slow down.  So it should be no surprise that teams are looking at Bynum and even Greg Oden.  I think any deal Bynum, and Oden for that matter, gets will be one that protects the team and should give Bynum plenty of opportunity to excel.  I'll be curious how Bynum comes back and how he'll handle being in the spotlight again after rough year he had in Philly.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Celtics Blockbuster Trade with the Nets

The Boston Celtics have agreed to trade Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry to the Brooklyn Nets for forwards Kris Humphries and Gerald Wallace, along with guard Keith Bogans, and first-round picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018.  This is one of those blockbusters in which both teams win.  New Jersey gets a short window in which they can expect to be the third maybe even second best team in the Eastern Conference.  Their staring lineup will consist of Garnett, Pierce, Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez.  Not a bad starting lineup for new coach Jason Kidd.  The price they pay is a short window considering the age of the three Celtics they received and one heck of a bill from the NBA for being over the salary cap.  Boston for their part will get some flexibility going forward in rebuilding their team.  The three draft picks will probably be late round picks (maybe a mid rounder by 2018) so don't expect LeBron James with any of these picks.  Still any rebuilding effort needs young players so three extra first round picks over the next five years is a good thing.  They can also be used to trade up or trade for veteran players when the team is on the uptick.  It'll be interesting to see how this plays out and how history views the trade.  There is a good shot at this being a wash.  Draft picks are always shot in the dark and the veterans the Nets received could all fall apart tomorrow.  No matter how it comes out I give both teams credit for making a bold move. 

Looks like the Spurs will resign Tiago Splitter for four years at $9 million per year.  Not surprising even though Splitter played poorly against the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.  Splitter is a good fit in San Antonio though I still would have liked them to add a true big man who can defend the rim better........Clippers' Caron Butler and Eric Bledsoe to Phoenix for shooting guards J.J. Reddick (Milwaukee) and Jared Dudley (Phoenix).  L.A. and Phoenix each send a first round pick to Milwaukee.  Another trade I like for all teams involved.  Clips get shooters while Phoenix get a starting point guard and a three who can score while the Bucks get picks to help them build around one or more their free agent guards.......I think Dwight Howard should take his talents to Atlanta.  Would my Hawks get past the second round with him?  Doubtful but it would awesome to have a top tier player in the fold, which is something Atlanta hasn't had in a very long time.  But that won't happen.  So I think he should go to Houston.  I think they have the best shot do anything long term and pairing him with James Harden seems like a great deal.  Wherever he goes I hope he can settle down and repair his more recent legacy of being that wishy washy guy that everyone hates........David West is returning to the Pacers.  With Danny Granger returning from injury there is no reason to think Indiana can't once again be the number two team in the East.