5 OF THE: BEST FILM & GAME MERCHANDISE SITES

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5:  Forbidden Planet 

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Forbidden Planet has a large range of merchandise from film and TV to games and graphic novels. Although featuring a range of products, Forbidden Planet is best for figurines and toys; the site has a huge range of really cute POP! Vinyl figures.

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If you are looking for something a little less adorable, Forbidden Planet also offers such treasures as replica Chucky dolls and Freddy Krueger’s glove. There is also a section for clothing and apparel. In terms of both video game and film merchandise, the site focuses mainly on big names, and in some sections there are very few products (clicking on certain sections actually brings back no items). For figures ans statues, Forbidden Planet is a good site to check out, but for clothing and other merchandise, the site has less to offer.

POP! Vinyl figures start from £8.99 and action figures from £13.99

4:  Loot Crate 

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Loot Crate is a unique subscription service which sends you a crate full of gaming goodies once a month. Each month, the crate has a different, vague theme – past themes have been ‘survive’, ‘animate’  and ‘launch’- this month’s theme being ‘dragons’.

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Whilst the theme of the crate is announced, the contents remain a secret meaning that the merchandise you receive each time is a surprise. Well, you are able to peek as there are plenty of ‘unboxing’ videos of Loot Crates on YouTube. The crates differ vastly and you will receive merchandise that cannot be found anywhere else. The crates usually include a number of different items such as figurines, books, and stickers, whilst most crates also contain a t-shirt. You may think it is hard to justify paying for a box when you have no idea what it contains, however, the Loot Crate website shows you their past crates, and this is a good indication of what you can expect to get. Everyone who buys a crate is entered into a draw to win the monthly Mega Crate which is worth hundreds of pounds.

April 2014 Mega Crate

April 2014 Mega Crate

Loot Crate offer 1 month (around £18), 3 month (around £17/mo) and 6 month (£16/mo) plans.  Each crate contains over $40 worth of merchandise.

3: J!NX jinx_logo

J!NX is a site which specialises in ‘clothing inspired by video games and geek culture’. In addition to being the official Minecraft store, J!NX offers plenty of other merchandise from Portal pants to Half-Life headcrabs.

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The site sells t-shirts predominantly, however other items are available. Many tees are available from £7.99 ($9.99) plus shipping, making it one of the better priced sites. Although offering a range of products, J!NX tends to feature merchandise from bigger name games – particularly esports merchandise from the likes of League of Legends, Starcraft, Dota and Twitch – and therefore J!NX lacks the breadth and the diversity of similar websites. If interested in one of the few games that the site does have merchandise for, there is a fair amount of choice; however, for a wider selection, or for more obscure or independent games, better sites can be found.

2: REDBUBBLE

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On Redbubble you can find lots of cool art from independent designers. Whether you want to cater for your niche movie needs from Taffin t-shirts to Troll 2 stickers, or satisfy your retro gaming desires with cool Banjo Kazooie teesRedbubble has plenty of merchandise on offer.

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Redbubble promotes independent artists; many unique and interesting designs can be found on the site, and there is also an option to sell your own artwork. Although various formats are available, Redbubble’s main attraction is clothing. Most designs can be purchased as standard tees, tank tops, hoodies, baseball shirts and fitted t-shirts – Redbubble has more options for female clothing than similar websites. All items of clothing are available in around twenty different colours, and standard tees are usually priced at £15-20 (around $25-33) plus shipping.

1: SOCIETY6

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Society6 should always be your first port of call if you are looking for anything cool to wear, to drink from, or even to furnish a room. Whether you want your own Big Lebowski rug, a Psycho shower curtain or a Groundhog Day wall clock, Society6 can meet your requirements and really tie the room together. With so much art on offer, a search of your favourite film, game or TV show will usually return many wonderful and creative results available in different formats and sizes.

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Society6 doesn’t just cater for entertainment buffs, as it also acts as a platform for many artists to be able to sell their cool, creative work. The site allows you to view an artist’s profile if you enjoy their work and are looking for similar prints.

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Posters start from around £8 (around $14) and tees from £13 (around $22) plus shipping.

5 OF THE: MOST INSANE NIC CAGE FILMS

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Of late, Nicolas Cage has taken over the online world. As his likeness adorns countless internet memes, some people enjoy Photoshopping Nic’s face onto cats, whilst others proclaim he is their One True God. The actor’s popularity and his links to online absurdity can be exhibited with a quick search of his name into Google Images.

NIC CAGE SCREENSHOT

Weirdly enough, this seems normal now. However, despite his popularity, it is easy to forget that Nicolas Cage is an actor and not just a face to stick on top of photos of sharks and cupcakes (although I believe this is partially Nic’s own fault for starring in a film in which his face can be taken off and put onto other things). The absurdity surrounding the actor on the internet can easily be linked to his appearance in many ridiculous films. So, if the internet doesn’t fulfil your silly Nic Cage needs (in which case you probably need help), or if you simply want to remember the talented actor before his image was shamelessly and cruelly used to spread ridiculousness online, here is a list of the top five most insane Nicolas Cage films.

If you’re new to the Nicolas Cage insane acting fanclub, this video should bring you up to speed.


 

5.  Face/Off (1997)

IMDB RATING: 7.3

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Cage plays villain John Travolta Castor Troy in this face-swapping extravaganza. In Face/Off, the stupidly named Castor Troy is a terrorist who is wanted by FBI agent Sean Archer (John Travolta) as Archer suspects Troy of murdering his beloved son. As it transpires that Troy has planted a bomb, the location of which is only known to Troy’s brother ­– the equally stupidly named Pollux Troy – Archer’s only way of saving the day is to actually become his enemy. Oh, they can do that in this movie? Well that’s a stroke of luck. Whilst Archer is running around with Troy’s face, when Troy wakes up in hospital to discover he has no face he decides to borrow Archer’s face as compensation. Despite only swapping faces, the voices and the vastly different bodies of Cage and Travolta also seem to have swapped. I am unsure why the filmmakers believe that the ability to full body-swap is more far-fetched than the idea of transposing one’s face seamlessly onto another person. Perhaps this is solely done for the purpose of making the title Face/Off work on the literal level as well as the metaphorical. Cage effectively plays two characters, however he is much more fun as the villain and is comparatively dull when inhabited by the good cop persona of John Travolta. Face/Off is an average action movie with a silly premise, however it is worth watching for some classic ridiculous Cage moments.  

SUMMARY: Freaky Friday but with more explosions and magnetic moon boots.

INSANITY RATING:  5/10

4.  The Wicker Man (2006)

IMDB RATING: 3.6

Remakes are rarely a good idea. The original The Wicker Man is a terrifying piece of cinema, a beautifully crafted and unique horror which often ranks as one of the best British films of all time. The feel of the original film, the isolation, desperation, and genuine horror is lost in the remake, party through the change of setting from a Scottish isle to America, and mainly through the replacement of the naive and righteous Christian policeman (wonderfully portrayed by Edward Woodward) with Nicolas Cage being an a self-pitying, moody arsehole riding a motorcycle. However, the fact that this film is so, so bad makes it somehow less offensive as a remake. The Wicker Man contains many of Cage’s most famous ridiculous scenes such as the punch-woman-while-dressed-as-bear and the ‘Not the bees!’ sequence to name but a few. These hilarious moments however do not make the film watchable, and the rest of the film remains dull and painful to watch. I recommend that no-one see this movie, particularly those of you who are fans of the 1973 version of The Wicker Man, as the plot changes are nonsensical and verging on blasphemous to the original. Plus, you can find all of the hilarious scenes on YouTube. That is an activity I can recommend.

SUMMARY: Cage shouts and punches his way through this offensive ‘remake’ to create some of modern cinema’s most insane and unintentionally hilarious scenes.

INSANITY RATING:  5/10

 

3.  Adaptation. (2002)

IMBD RATING: 7.8

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Written and directed by the masters of cinematic weirdness (Charlie Kauffman and Spike Jonez), Adaptation uses Cage to add insanity to the already surreal story. Cage plays the film’s actual writer, Charlie Kauffman, and his fictional twin Donald in a plot that details the struggle of turning the book ‘The Orchid Thief’ into a film. Charlie, the accomplished screenwriter, aims to create a faithful adaptation of the book, whilst his brother Donald, the aspiring writer, favours action and scandal and questions the ability to make a film which is just about the search for a flower. The conflict between the brothers’ personalities is uniquely reflected in the film’s narrative structure and plotline, whilst Cage actually has a chance to prove that he does have some acting range. Self-referential and subversive, Adaptation is a lesson in post-modernism, mixing fact with fiction to create a wonderfully weird story. The fact that the plot changes immensely midway through the film, and then descends into chaos and absurdity until the climax, exhibits a boldness for which Kauffman (the real one) should be commended. Original, clever and complicated, Adaptation is a fun film with a good story and a great cast including Meryl Streep and Chris Cooper who won an Academy Award for his role in the film.

SUMMARY: The film gets extra points for doubling the amount of Cage screen time by casting him as twins. And it has crocodiles in it.

INSANITY RATING: 8/10

2.  Deadfall (1993)

IMDB RATING: 3.6

The only film on the list which does not feature Cage as the lead, Deadfall is a truly awful film. I admit that I didn’t make it to the end of this film, partly due to the fact that Cage only has a small role as Eddie, a con man who meets his demise fairly early in the film. The film’s plot is completely insane yet extremely boring, and Cage manages to pack plenty of his own brand of ridiculousness into the film considering his relatively brief screen time. Cage’s performance in Deadfall is almost legendary, the character of Eddie is constantly angry, and Cage plays him with a ridiculous accent which has so little clarity that not a single word can be understood. This silly accent is teamed with an even sillier wig to create a character too insane to be at all believable. That said, believability was probably not the film’s key motive; a fact that became apparent with the introduction of a villain with a mechanical lobster claw for a hand. Although Cage takes overacting to a whole new level, his performance in this film is entertaining and memorable, which sadly cannot be said for the other actors in this tedious movie. At some point later on in the film Charlie Sheen randomly turns up as a talented pool player, for reasons that I am not entirely sure of. Ridiculous from start to finish, the film is only as (mildly) entertaining for as long as Cage is on screen.

SUMMARY: One of the worst if not the worst film of Cage’s career. Really not worth watching, just go to YouTube.

INSANITY RATING: 8/10

1.  Vampire’s Kiss (1988)

IMDB RATING: 5.6

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Completely absurd 80s film in which Cage plays Peter Loew, a fairly successful man who, after spending the night with a night with a stranger, gradually becomes convinced he is a vampire. Whether intentional or not, Vampire’s Kiss is one of the funniest films I have ever seen. The plot of the film is insane, but it is without a doubt Cage’s manic performance which makes this film so wonderfully ridiculous. Loew’s descent into madness is entertaining and the film is always funny and occasionally creepy, particularly the scenes which Cage shares with Maria Conchita Alonso who plays one of his employees. If intended as a black comedy, this film really hits the mark and deserves a far higher rating than it currently holds. Cage’s performance and the character of Loew are so over-the-top that many of the film’s scenes are genuinely hilarious; my particular favourites being the scene of Loew crying in the most dramatic and unnatural way I have ever seen, and the chaotic Cage running around for five minutes repeatedly shouting ‘I’m a vampire. I’m a vampire.’ Very enjoyable, hugely funny and completely insane, this is yet another Nic Cage film which has become infamous thanks to internet memes and YouTube clips.

SUMMARY: If you’re reading this article, you’re going to want to see this film. It is currently available on Netflix. If you’re a fan of Cage, vampires or reciting the alphabet, this is a film for you.

INSANITY RATING: 10/10

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A NIGHT IN WITH: BANISHED

While browsing the Steam library, looking for something to while away the hours, my eyes drifted upon something; a small Steam ad with a picture of a town. “Oh, I thought. What’s this? A new city-builder set in the middle ages.”  After checking out the reviews, people seemed pretty happy with the game. Well, after spending a night in with Banished, I feel that the positive reviews have come from people who enjoy pain.

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Banished is the debut game from Shining Rock Software and has been universally well received; which is great for any Indie company. What was is more is that Shining Rock Software is a one man band, Luke Hodorowicz. It’s a labour of love, and you can really see that a lot of effort has gone into this game and boy, did it pay off. Hodorowicz mentions that he may want to develop the game further, by adding mods and making it available on multiple platforms, so hopefully this game is going to be one to watch over the coming months.

Banished doesn’t have a story other than that you are a group of settlers, starting again. It’s a lot like the game Towns in that respect.  It is possible to jump right into the game, but you’ll probably want to get the tutorials done. The tutorials don’t tell you as much as you might like them to, but they’ll get you started. Moreover, Banished’s tutorial system feels quite old fashioned, bringing back memories of the horrible-to-navigate-tutorials of Rollercoaster Tycoon. The camera system is fairly standard, however, if you play a lot Civilization you may find it frustrating that you cannot just drag the screen to move the camera.

Okay, you’ve got the tutorials out of the way, now the fun begins! You will notice upon starting a new world that you get the option of entering a ‘seed’. A ‘seed’ is the map you’re going to be playing on; it is randomly generated and unique, meaning you can share your starting maps with anyone. There are also some interesting and pretty cool seeds available.

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Everyone writes their own story when they form the beginnings of their humble settlement. I assume they could be glorious, liberating tales of success, but more likely, they’ll be tragedy. My plan for Banished was simple: Build houses for the people to live and farms to feed them. What could go wrong?

After some tranquility, pleasant construction and fruitful harvests, I thought I was made. Then it really began. Winter: “Steve the tailor has died of frostbite.”  Oh. Oh Steve, I hardly knew you. I stayed still for a second after the tragic loss of Steve, then I began to ponder, it must have been a fluke! I guess Steve just fell asleep in the river. Oh, that silly Steve. I said it began earlier, but I was sorely wrong. Before I knew it, whole families were eradicated; they could have been the start of history but instead they become part of tragedy. Some died of hunger, some of frostbite and some even managed to get crushed by rocks, but that totally wasn’t my fault! Honest. I sat there, mere hours after the dawn of my sure-to-be-prosperous nation, looking at five empty houses and a dilapidated farm.  The game didn’t tell me I had failed, though, it let me gaze upon my empty town and the three remaining, dishevelled, malnourished husks of my once glorious people, wandering around waiting for the certainty of death. It was at that moment that I became intrigued.

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Banished is a game with difficulty and realism. A game whereby a bad winter that you were not ready for can destroy everything you have worked for; the game does not pull any punches in that respect. I went through four different new games trying to work out where I was going wrong.  Eventually, I stumbled across a basic formula that worked for me. I started, after housing everyone, with fish farms and hunting grounds to build up a stockpile of food. After that, I went for farms to keep a constant supply of food coming in. I then got a tailor and a blacksmith to fulfill the basic need of clothes and tools. You can get up work camps for each resource, which is labour intensive, or you can strip the landscape for quick collection, but scavenging the land lends to the risk of making it barren and scaring off the wildlife you need to slaughter. Then I had some tough decisions to make, how should I assign my men? When assigning your labour, this is a point where Banished may turn you into a monster. In the game, only adults can work, and children are just a strain on your economy. Very quickly you may get into the mind-set, that if people have to die, it might as well be the children.

I wanted the buildings up quickly, but I had to make sure the granaries did not run dry during the harsh winter. The town is small and my biggest limitation was workers. This meant I had to play it slow and steady. Taking risks would ensure that I would be slapped in the face for my foolish ambition, with 20 deaths on my hands, and this had already happened far too many times. This time I was cautious, and I made sure to not overextend, keeping a good supply of food and making my expansions when I could. That was the start of the mighty civilisation, the creatively named NewTown1.

The experience of playing Banished is aided by its wonderful graphics style; they are tranquil, calming and immersive. The graphics make you care for the labourers in your fields, and you mourn their deaths with their family. Watching the weather role over season to season as your little villager’s age is also rather fulfilling. Those first wisps of snow at the start of winter can be pleasing to the eye, but also instil fear in you. You can, almost, see the villagers pull there leather jerkins closer as they struggle home in the cold. Or, like Steve, you can feel their pain as they freeze to death, because the idiot in charge doesn’t know how to give them adequate clothing.  The sounds of the game are basic, but help immerse you into the scenario. Sadly, I had to turn some of the effects of as the animals in the pens drove me to breaking point with the repetitive mooing and suchlike, but overall the soundtrack is pleasant.  You might be left asking for a little more from the sound track, which although is fitting, it is also bland.

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Banished is a very enjoyable time sink to poke your head into and you quickly get sucked in. The game is a lot like a Civilization game in the fact you can sit watching things develop whilst you are watching or reading something else while doing it… oh wait …THAT’S WHY STEVE DIED.  It’s the type of game where you can hook up a second screen and put on your favourite film as you wile away the hours expanding your town. If you like games like these, you will be playing this hour after hour after hour until it is 5 o’clock in the morning and you find yourself sat in the dark alone with just your laptop. You didn’t mean to, but you just can’t stop.

£15 may be slightly on the heavy side, but it will be well worth it if it has sucked you in in. Obviously, there is no time frame for completing the game, but I’d expect that if you play a lot of these games, you’ll rack up hundreds of hours pretty quickly, making the £15 price tag seem very reasonable.

Official Site | /r/Banished | Banished Wiki

+ Addicting

+ Freedom to express yourself

+ Challenging

–  Sounds are a tad repetitive

STOP DYING YOU FOOLISH MORTALS!

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This Night In With is dedicated to Steve the Tailor, who sadly froze to death last night.
R.I.P. Steve
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