REVIEW: McFarlane’s Captain Picard action-figure misses the mark

McFarlane Toys is kicking off a new series of 7-inch Star Trek action-figures starting with Captain Kirk and Captain Picard. These figures just hit stores and my figures arrived today. I collected all of Diamond Select’s Star Trek figures previously (and loved them) so I was naturally curious about what McFarlane’s versions would be like.

I’m going to cut to the chase: their Captain Kirk figure is amazing. So I’m not really going to talk about that figure much. But they really missed the ball on their Captain Picard figure. Details matter on figures I collect and they got a bunch of the details wrong which really disappointed me.

Close-up of McFarlane’s Picard figure.

You can see that they didn’t do a good job getting Picard’s eyes quite right. The rest of his face seems quite a match. It’s his eyes that bug me. But my biggest problem is with the uniform they used for their Picard figure. During the third season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, they transitioned away from using the form-fitting one-piece uniforms seen in Season 1 and 2 and went with a two piece uniform which consisted of pants and shirt that unzipped in the back for all the male cast members (and other male supporting characters like Lt. Barclay). But during that transition, Picard’s uniform was a bit off during the first few episodes of the third season. You had these two seams that ran down the middle of his uniform shirt.

Captain Picard as seen in the first episode of Season 3. Notice the two seams?

This weird uniform style for Picard was seen until the 6th episode of the third season called “Booby Trap”. In that episode – Picard has the uniform shirt that he will have for the remainder of the series.

Captain Picard as seen from the 6th episode of the third season called “Booby Trap”. Notice no seams?

So why did McFarlane Toys choose to model their Picard figure in a uniform style that was used in only 5 episodes of the third season rather than the more familiar uniform style he’s most recognizable in for the series?

Back of the Picard figure.

The other issue is the back of the Picard figure is also not right. It includes no zipper seam going down the middle and the lines are not right.

The quality of these figures is great but its the detail that is lacking and as a collector, details really matter to me. The next two figures in the new McFarlane Toys Star Trek 7-inch action-figures series is Michael Burnham from Star Trek: Discovery and Spock from the Original Series. I’ll definitely be picking them up but I really do hope they pay special attention to getting the details right.

Crafting my story and building my personal brand

Spin Your Tale

This month, I did a small “reboot” of my blog here in an effort to redefine my personal brand. People know “Brandon LeBlanc” as the guy who works on the Windows Insider Program at Microsoft that also used to run the Windows Blog. A large part of my personal brand is tied to Microsoft – which is ok because I’m more than happy to admit I’m a self-professed Microsoft fanboy. But there’s more to “Brandon LeBlanc” than just Microsoft. I also care about other things – ranging from what Ford is doing with their car line-up to the in-development new Batman movie to the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies as just some examples. I also care about equality in the workplace and space exploration. This is where I can talk about all that stuff. This is where I can craft MY STORY and be in control of driving my personal brand.

What really motivated me to do this little reboot of my personal brand through my blog was my manager Dona Sarkar. She has a huge passion for helping others develop their own personal brand in addition to putting a lot of effort into maintaining her own – independently of her job as the leader of the Windows Insider Program. Matter a fact – Dona just recently released a brand new book called Spin Your Tale which talks about how you can craft and control your story which is the thing that leads to your brand. I highly recommend buying her book.

Get busy crafting your story and building your personal brand. And watch me craft and build my own!

Latest details on upcoming Batman movie

News broke today that Star Wars star Oscar Issac is in talks for a role in the new Batman movie – possibly as the film’s villain. If this turns out to be true, I’m all for this as I believe he’s a fine actor and could be a pretty good Batman villain. But which villain? That’s the mystery.

To catch folks up to speed – Warner Bros. is currently developing a new Batman movie, tentatively called “The Batman”, with director/writer Matt Reeves signed on. Reeves previously directed the last two “Planet of the Apes” movies and “Cloverfield”. He’s been hard at work on finishing the script for the movie.

I was surprised at some of the sloppy reporting seen in many of the news articles that hit the web with the Oscar Issac news. For example – many of the articles are reporting that Matt Reeves’ Batman movie would be (loosely) based on Frank Miller’s “Batman: Year One”. No – it’s not. Many of the articles also state this is the beginning of a standalone trilogy that would stand separately from the already existing DC Universe movies such as Man of Steel, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, Wonder Woman, and Justice League. No – it’s not. It’s not hard to go out and do a little fact-checking on what’s been said by the movie’s director/writer.

Here is what we currently know about Matt Reeves’ “The Batman”:

  • It won’t be a origin story. This is the direction Matt says his Batman movie will take: “We’re doing a story that is definitively Batman though, and trying to tell a story that’s emotional and yet is really about him being the world’s greatest detective and all the things that for me, since I was a kid, made me love Batman.”
  • It will be a story that is all about Batman. Matt wants to avoid having the movie filled with cameos servicing other stories.
  • It will be part of the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) of movies. However, that doesn’t mean the movie won’t take place in the “early days” of Batman and feature a younger Batman than what we saw in Justice League.
  • Ben Affleck is still involved – per Matt Reeves.  In which capacity he’s involved remains unknown. Even if Matt goes for a younger Batman for his movie, Ben’s involvement could be at the Executive Producer level. Or perhaps the movie starts with Ben’s Batman telling the story of an earlier adventure.
  • Production looking to begin late spring, early summer 2019. But it’s all depending on the script.

I am a huge Batman fan  – of both the movies and comics. I am really looking forward to seeing what Matt Reeves has in store for the Dark Knight. And I’m also a fan of Ben Affleck as Batman. He fits the version of Batman seen in the comics. I think we haven’t had a chance to see him truly *be* Batman yet on the big screen  and hopefully we get that chance. (There’s been some good scenes but I don’t think the storylines in Batman V Superman and Justice League really gave both actor and character “justice” – pardon the pun.)

I suggest following Matt Reeves on Twitter to stay updated on the latest going on with “The Batman”.

The “Way of the Warrior” Star Trek Mission Crate

UPDATED on 8/20 to include tweet from Loot Crate on their new Shipping Status page. 

Subscription boxes have become popular with different fandoms over the last few years led by Loot Crate and others like Funko. These subscription boxes usually come every 1 to 2 months with a bunch of nerdy exclusives and other goodies based on a theme. I had been a subscriber for Loot Crate’s main subscription boxes – or “crates” – but canceled my subscription because I was finding the contents and themes for the crates hit or miss. Then late last year, Loot Crate announced they would be doing Star Trek subscription boxes. As you can imagine, I jumped on board immediately and bought a subscription for their Star Trek Mission Crates. How could I turn down getting a subscription box filled with Star Trek exclusives in partnership with Quantum Mechanix every 2 months?

Their first Star Trek Mission Crate subscription box was “Wolf 359” themed. It shipped in January in a box that looked like a shuttlecraft from the Original Series. Inside, it came with an exclusive “Locutus” limited edition statue from QMx and some other goodies. I didn’t blog about it here but this post here does a really good review of the box. 

Today I received the second Star Trek Mission Crate subscription box which is “Way of the Warrior” themed. “Way of the Warrior” was the title of the 2 part episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine that saw Michael Dorn join the cast as Worf after war breaks out with the Klingon Empire. (Despite taking the theme from DS9, I had a little giggle when I noticed the box was labeled as “The Next Generation”.)

Opening the box revealed all the goodies!
Klingon socks, badge, and sticker with Mirror Universe tribble and Worf!
Worf looks pretty badass!

The box included:

  • A Worf “Master Series” Limited Edition Statue from QMx.
  • A Mirror Universe Tribble from QMx. 
  • A pair of Klingon socks.
  • A Klingon emblem badge from QMx.
  • A Klingon sticker. 
  • A Star Trek: Discovery Lapel Pin. 

Everything is this subscription box was awesome. I believe the Discovery lapel pin was handed out at the 2018 Office Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas earlier this month and since I couldn’t attend – I was glad to score one through this way! I have no complaints about the box. This Star Trek fan is impressed.

However, I do have a general complaint about my overall experience with the Star Trek Mission Crate subscription. I feel like Loot Crate is struggling a bit to fulfill the promise of shipping these boxes every 2-months. The second Star Trek Mission Crate subscription box was supposed to arrive in March. And it was supposed to be “Dark Frontier” themed after the 2-part Star Trek: Voyager episode “Dark Frontier” and feature Seven of Nine in some fashion. In May, I received an email saying this box was delayed and was expected to ship mid-July. That’s the last thing I heard about that box. Then in early July, I received an email saying that the “Way of the Warrior” box was delayed until late July. No word on what happened with the “Dark Frontier” box. Then on July 31st, I got another email saying the “War of the Warrior” box was delayed again to mid-August. The box finally arrived but still no word on the “Dark Frontier” box. It has been almost 7 months between boxes. I really want to see Loot Crate be more transparent about what’s going on with these boxes, which boxes are supposed to ship when etc. 

Overall though, I’ve been very impressed with the 2 Star Trek Mission Crates I’ve received so far and really excited for more!

UPDATED: Loot Crate responded to my tweet about this blog post alerting me to their new Shipping Status page. It just launched. 

Chris Pine walks away from Star Trek 4

A follow-up to 2016’s Star Trek Beyond is in development at Paramount with S. J. Clarkson on board to direct. “Star Trek 4” will be the 4th in the series of new Star Trek movies that began with 2009’s Star Trek directed by JJ Abrams. However, the new movie may be in trouble as both Chris Pine and Chris Hemsworth have reportedly walked away after negotiations have stalled over money according to the Hollywood Reporter. Pine would have returned to the iconic role of Captain Kirk while Hemsworth would be returning to play Captain Kirk’s dad George Kirk which was announced in 2016 just after Star Trek Beyond his theaters.

Chris Pine as Captain James T. Kirk from Star Trek Beyond.
Chris Hemsworth as Lt. Cmdr. George Kirk from Star Trek (2009).

In 2009’s Star Trek movie – George Kirk was the first officer aboard the U.S.S. Kelvin as it was attacked by Nero who’s ship was thrown back in time. This resulted in the creation of the Kelvin Timeline. George Kirk died as he collided the U.S.S. Kelvin into Nero’s ship (the Narada) in order to help the crew of the Kelvin (including his wife and newborn son James T. Kirk) escape. 

When Chris Pine signed on to play Kirk in Star Trek Beyond, he also signed on for Star Trek 4 with the deal locking in how much he would get paid for Star Trek 4. From what I gather from the Hollywood Reporter article – it seems that Paramount wants to re-negotiate that deal after Star Trek Beyond didn’t do as well as they were hoping at the box office. 

According to IMDB, Star Trek Into Darkness and Star Trek Beyond nearly had the same budget but Star Trek Into Darkness grossed $467 million worldwide while Star Trek Beyond grossed $343 million worldwide. I think Paramount was hoping Star Trek Beyond would do as well or better than Into Darkness. It seems Paramount’s expectations for Star Trek movies is that they will earn an estimated $400 million at the box office and that Star Trek isn’t at the same level as Marvel or Star Wars movies. As a result, they are looking to find ways to maximize their profit off these movies by (probably) lowering the budget and asking their lead actor to take a pay cut. 

I think this is a cheap thing for Paramount to do. If they want to make a 4th Star Trek movie, having Chris Pine as Captain Kirk is absolutely critical to the movie being even remotely successful. He’s a damn good Kirk and people recognize that. His appearances in major hit movies like Wonder Woman will also help. He’s *worth it*. In looking at things to cut from the budget, Chris’s pay (which was agreed on in a deal signed 2 years ago) should be one of the last things to try and cut.

I’m assuming a deal was signed with Chris Hemsworth when they announced he was returning to play Kirk’s dad in 2016. However, he’s not critical. Paramount can adjust the story if they don’t want to pay the big bucks for Hemsworth. Or they can go with a completely different story altogether. Take the time to develop a good story with the budget you’re willing to go with. There’s no sense in rushing a new Star Trek movie. 

But one thing is clear to this Star Trek fan: Paramount – you don’t have a Star Trek 4 without Chris Pine.


Frustrating online dating experience

I’ve been divorced for about 2 years now and I’ve dated a few people since the divorce was finalized. My last relationship was awesome but I called it off as I wasn’t quite feeling the connection on my end due to some things I needed to figure out on my own. So I took some time off from trying to date to figure that out. This was a few months ago. Recently, I’ve jumped back onto the dating apps – primarily Bumble and Tinder to casually look at meeting new people. I’m an introvert. And there’s the so-called “Seattle Freeze”. So it’s a bit difficult for me to meet women. The dating apps help with that. So that’s really my dating life in a nutshell. I don’t normally write about my dating life but wanted to vent. Who knows if I will actually post this (Update – I did.).

Up until two days ago, I had been messaging back and forth with a woman I connected with from Bumble. We hit it off (or it appeared we did at the time) and decided to move from messaging via the Bumble app to texting each other after exchanging phone numbers. We texted each other all day one day asking lots of questions and in general getting to know each other more. We even exchanged Instagram accounts which gives more insight into the kind of person I was. She even followed me and gave me permission to follower her (her Instagram account was locked down). I was going on vacation to Arizona but told her I wanted to meet up when I got back and she also wanted to meet up. The very next day – things were completely different. Texts were short and pointed. It felt like I was getting the cold shoulder. I asked if anything was wrong and she told me she was just at work. So naturally, I left her alone since she was at work. We had texted while she was at work the day before. But I still wanted to be respectful. Another day passed and I texted “Happy Friday” since it was Friday but I heard nothing back from her. I hesitated to reach out as I didn’t want to seem too clingy. I opened up the Bumble app and noticed she un-matched us. Then I noticed she un-followed my Instagram account. I still had permission to see her Instagram though. Things felt weird. So I texted her and asked if we were still on the same page about getting to know each other. She finally responded with a “not interested” message. I thanked her for her response but I am pretty sure I was blocked by then and she removed me from her Instagram. So that was that.

I totally get that in the process of exchanging messages with people, things can result in someone changing their mind about whether or not a match on a dating app is actually a good match. That’s kind of how the process works before you end up meeting in real life. But I’m frustrated with how things went down here.

First,  things went from seemingly really good to not good at all overnight with no explanation. I read and re-read my messages to try and figure out if I said anything wrong and nothing stood out. So I was really confused.

Second, it appeared that she never really intended to text me back that she had changed her mind and was no longer interested. She un-followed my Instagram and un-matched us on Bumble. It was only when I texted her asking point-blank if we were on the same page that she responded. She was just going to disappear – or “ghost” me.

Oh well. I’m frustrated but I wish her well. I just think I deserved more of an explanation.

Try out the open-sourced Windows 3.1 File Manager

On April 6th, Windows 3.1 celebrated its 26th birthday. Windows 3.1 was the first version of Windows that exposed me to the world of personal computing. I wouldn’t be where I am today without it. I did so much on Windows 3.1. It was the OS I used to connect to the Internet for the first time. It was the OS I first used a CD-ROM with (to play the Star Trek: The Next Generation Interactive Technical Manual). To honor this great OS, you can download and run the original Windows 3.1 File Manager here from GitHub. File Manager was before File Explorer and was how you would navigate your PC’s hard drive and access your files. Microsoft has open-sourced File Manager for people to play around with. And now I’ve got File Manager pinned to my taskbar in Windows 10.

File Manager from Windows 3.1 running on Windows 10

Thanks to Christina Warren for the heads up last night!

Why Star Trek: Discovery is a missed opportunity

When I have written about Star Trek: Discovery, it has been with optimism and excitement to see Star Trek back on the small screen. That hasn’t changed. But back in August, we got a bit more information about the premise of Star Trek: Discovery — including that it’s set in the “Prime Timeline”.

So what does that mean, exactly? Well, its a missed opportunity I think. Let me explain.

The new Star Trek movies — including Star Trek Beyond — are all set in what is called the “Kelvin Timeline”. This timeline was created when Nero traveled back in time and attacked the U.S.S. Kelvin at the beginning of 2009’s Star Trek. It sort of “reset” Star Trek — or rebooted it. Everything that existed in Star Trek before 2009’s Star Trek such which includes all the previous TV shows and movies remain part of the “Prime Timeline”.

This new “Kelvin Timeline” was exciting because now Star Trek could be explored in different ways completely untethered by what’s canon and what’s not canon. Look at what they did in Star Trek Beyond for example. Simon Pegg and Doug Jung, who wrote the movie, had the freedom of coming up with a story that saw the Enterprise destroyed and crew stranded on a planet that that sits on the other side of an unexplored nebula.

LucasFilm went through the motion of resetting canon back in 2014. Star Wars had this huge “expanded universe” that was developed over the course of two decades after the original Star Wars trilogy which included stories about what happens with Luke, Leia, and Han after Return of the Jedi. In order to make room for the new trilogy of movies starting with the Force Awakens, LucasFilm didn’t want to be tied down to this expanded universe and wanted the freedom to go in whatever direction their new creative team wanted to go. Again — untethered by canon.

But there’s more to the story for Star Trek.

Star Wars has a single owner: LucasFilm. Star Trek had a single owner too (Paramount) up until 2005 when the rights to Star Trek were split due to the Viacom/CBS split. Paramount continues to own the rights to Star Trek movies, but CBS now owns the rights to Star Trek TV shows. This created a few problems. For example — CBS continues to market the original Star Trek series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, etc. to consumers. Paramount, on the other hand, is marketing the new Star Trek movies — like Star Trek Beyond — to consumers. You end up having two entities marketing a bunch of Star Trek stuff to consumers. While Paramount was originally marketing 2009’s Star Trek movie, CBS was pushing a bunch of product for the original series. You got a bunch of product with Shatner’s Captain Kirk plastered all over and then product with Chris Pine’s Captain Kirk on it. As you can imagine, this just creates a ton of consumer confusion. But this is what happens when you’ve got business people wanting to milk a franchise for all the profit they can get out of it. Rumor has it, JJ Abrams wanted Bad Robot to have end-to-end control of Star Trek and was really concerned about this exact situation. However, when he couldn’t make things work so he just jumped ship over to LucasFilm and took on Star Wars. Bummer, right? (Well, not a bummer if you’re a Star Wars fan and loved The Force Awakens.)

By introducing a new Star Trek TV show, CBS and Paramount had an opportunity to work together and create a shared universe that could exist between this new TV show and the movies. The new Star Trek movies have already re-introduced Star Trek to a new generation. Instead, CBS and Paramount continue to push Star Trek independently of each other. The result is Star Trek: Discovery which is in the “Prime Timeline” and is another prequel before Kirk. A missed opportunity.

I still remain cautiously optimistic about Star Trek: Discovery and am excited to see the show. But I can’t help feel a bit bummed we’re not seeing further exploration of the “Kelvin Timeline” and all the new stuff introduced to us in the new movies.

Thoughts on the new U.S.S. Enterprise 1701-A

Even if you haven’t seen Star Trek Beyond yet, just by watching the trailers you would know that the Enterprise gets destroyed. And it shouldn’t be a surprise that the crew gets a new Enterprise at the end of the movie . This new “highly advanced” starship that was already under construction at Starbase Yorktown. Since the Enterprise gets destroyed, the decide the name this new starship the Enterprise NCC-1701-A. The new Enterprise was designed by Sean Hargreaves.

I was a huge fan of the previous Enterprise from the J.J. Abrams films which was designed by Ryan Church. The design of the Enterprise-A borrows a bit from Ryan Church’s design but aims to call back to the original Enterprise designed by Matt Jefferies. I am mostly a fan of Sean’s design except for one piece:

I am not a fan of the wait the nacelle pylons integrate into the engineering section near the back of the ship near the shuttlebay. It’s just too pointy and fat.

We have only seen the Enterprise-A on screen very briefly. So its possible that the design could change by the time we see her on screen. But I look forward to seeing her in action!

Happy 50th Anniversary to Star Trek

On this date in 1966 — Star Trek first aired on NBC and started a legacy that would grow into something awesome.

I missed out experiencing the initial rise of Star Trek in the 70’s after the original series was cancelled as I wasn’t born yet. However, I did live through Star Trek’s resurgence in the 80’s with the movies and Star Trek: The Next Generation. For many fans, Star Trek means “Kirk, Spock, and McCoy”. And there is no arguing against that. Those characters are the heart of Star Trek’s legacy. But for me, Star Trek means “Picard, Sisko, and Janeway” — and yes even “Archer”. My love of Star Trek didn’t begin with the original series. It began with Star Trek: The Next Generation and continued with all that followed.

I fell in love with the characters and storylines. I fell in love with all the fancy 24th century technology and science used in the stories. I loved the stories that put characters in tough situations that invoked thought and emotion. The stories that were thought provoking were the best episodes! Like when Picard was assimilated by the Borg and Riker was forced to use the deflector to try and destroy the Borg ship with him on it. They made us wait the entire summer to find out what happened! They wouldn’t kill Picard, would they? Like when Worf broke his back and the crew was confronted with having to chose between respecting Worf’s cultural beliefs and theirs when he proclaims he wants to go through ritual suicide. Like when Neelix and Tuvok were merged together into a new individual named Tuvix and Janeway had to make the call to split them back into individuals despite Tuvix’s protest. Did she make the right call? And of course who can forget when Sisko decided to try and bring the Romulans into the war with the Dominion and sought Garek’s help — which didn’t quite go the way he had planned. In many of these stories, the characters had to deal with repercussions and consequences of their actions. Many of the stories pushed intelligence to find solutions rather than simply pulling out a phaser.

While my love of Star Trek didn’t start with the original series — it wasn’t until I was older I realized that the subsequent shows that came after continued what the original series started by challenging us to think about the things happening in our world today and how we can be better. How can we improve ourselves? Star Trek inspires me to be better each and every day!

We have seen amazing adventures and stories over the last 50 years of Star Trek and I am so excited for what’s to come. Star Trek Beyond was one of the best Star Trek movies yet (in my opinion — I know some will completely disagree with me on this). And we’re getting a brand new Star Trek show called Star Trek: Discovery which arrives in January.

Live long and prosper. #LLAP50 #StarTrek50