Smurfs

How did the Smurf fascination begin?  I remember being a little kid in the late 70s and everyone in my class loving the “The Smurf Song” by Father Abraham and the Smurfs.  We were little and I guess we thought they were cute.

Then a couple of years later, on a family holiday in West Wales, I got one of the promotional Smurf figures from a petrol station.  It was the artist smurf.  I chose him because, even though he was a painter, I liked art.

I may have never bought another Smurf at all, after that first one, except that he got chewed up by our dog.  So I went to buy a replacement but couldn’t find the same one, and bought another.  So the collection began…

Smurfs became another one of the toys that would get played with, amongst me and my friends.  Some of the other kids had smurfs too, so we could put them all together and create little stories.  I have loads of fond memories of playing with them, outdoors on warm summer days.

Of course, there was the Hanna-Barbera cartoon too, which kept interest rolling along. 

Over time, I picked up more smurfs to add to the collection.  On holidays, sometimes a souvenir would be a Star Wars figure; other times a smurf or a comic book.  I remember my Gran always used to buy my sister and I a smurf when we went shopping with her.

Occasionally, I’ll find a character that I don’t already have at a toy collector fair or Comic Con.  Maybe even a carboot sale.  It’s still fun to find a new one to add to the collection.

I think the attraction of smurfs was the variety; like may other things I’ve collected, it’s fun to have a diverse collection of different characters.  I used to draw designs for my own Smurfs when I was a kid, too – just the same way as I designed my own superheroes.

Anyway, you can see here most of my collection (and some of my sister’s that I have for “safe keeping”).  Some of the classic characters, like Papa Smurf, Smurfette, Brainy – even Gargamel and his cat, Azrael.

Some of my favourites are the Clown, which is really detailed.  Plus of course the Skateboarder, which I’m really proud of.  I bought him before I’d ever stepped on a skateboard, so I have a real fondness for that one.

There’s loads of others out there, and I’d really love a smurf house for them.  Or several houses, to make a smurf village!  Unlikely that’ll ever happen.

That “Smurf Song” found it’s way into my burgeoning vinyl collection a while ago.  I did eventually replace the artist smurf, too.  Still got my first one, though, mangled and chewed up though he may be.

Dedicated to my great childhood friend Brendan O’Neil, who inspired my imagination all those years ago.  RIP.

Cats Playlist

Cats!  I love ’em!

They’re crazy, cute, playful and lovable.  They’re agile and graceful and beautiful.  But most of all, they are loyal little companions who, despite their reputation, are full of affection.

To honour my furry feline friends – past, present and future – I collated another one of my themed playlists.  This collection of songs all have a connection to cats in some way, and create an eclectic compilation that crosses categories.

You can compile a similar list, and I hope you and your cat enjoy!

  1. Mongo Santamaria – “El Pussy Cat”
  2. The Cure – “Love Cats”
  3. Johnny Cash – “Mean Eyed Cat”
  4. Barney Kessel – “Something for Cat”
  5. The Presidents of the United States of America – “Kitty”
  6. The James Taylor Quartet – “Faster Pussycat”
  7. Stray Cats – “Stray Cat Strut”
  8. Hanna-Barbera – “Top Cat (Main Title)”
  9. Howlin’ Wolf – “I Ain’t Superstitious”
  10. Tom Jones – “What’s Ne w Pussycat?”
  11. Marty Paich – “The Cat”

    My cat, Jenna

  12. Ted Nugent – “Cat Scratch Fever”
  13. Primus – “Tommy the Cat”
  14. Jacknife Lee – “Here Kitty Kitty”
  15. Rolling Stones – “Stray Cat Blues”
  16. Pete Moore & His Orchestra – “Cat Walk”
  17. Alice Cooper – “Gutter Cat vs. The Jets”
  18. Beyonce – “Kitty Kat”
  19. Hanna Barbera – “Top Cat (Underscore)”
  20. Devo – “Pink Pussy Cat”
  21. Danzig – “Wicked Pussycat”
  22. Celia Vaz/Friends from Rio – “Francisco Cat”
  23. Roni Size – “Mad Cat”
  24. R.E.M. – “Star Me Kitten”

Bonus points if you know why the Howlin’ Wolf track is included…

Sadly, I forgot to add Nina Simone’s “Feline Good” to the list…

Till next time: ciao, cat lovers!

Chester Comic Con

Chester Comic Con

Sunday 24th September 2017

My buddy Dan acquired some tickets and I was off to my first Chester Comic Con.  Amazingly, it was held at that den of drunken depravity, Chester Racecourse.  So for once, that almighty dignity vacuum would feature some actual culture.

To be fair, the racecourse was a pretty good venue.  There was plenty of space, with the indoor stalls surrounding a courtyard where numerous cosplayers, fans and geeks of all types could gather.  As it was decent weather, this outdoor section was a handy addition as it got fairly crowded indoors.

The stalls were many and varied; it was good to see a large number of merchandise stalls selling all manner of collectable paraphernalia.  There was plenty to drool over and spend hard earned cash on.

I picked up some comic books and Lego figures for presents, incredibly managing to resist adding more Funko Pops to my collection (there were lots).  As always with these events, however, there was tons I regretted not picking up later!

The cosplayers at the Con were superb.  There was all manner of fabulous creations on show, as seen here.  You’ve go to admire the dedication, hard work and creativity that goes into making these costumes.  I also think they’re also very brave, it takes some guts to proudly display your geek pride.

Well done to all the cosplayers – costumed heroes, every single one!  And thanks for letting me take your photo for this blog.

A highlight of the day were the Q&A sessions.  I caught a very interesting talk with Christopher Fairbank, who discussed his roles in film and TV from Auf Wiedersehen, Pet to Guardians of the Galaxy – and tons of other stuff.  His recollections provided loads of fascinating insights behind some of the many projects he’s been a part of.

Later on, there was another Q&A with Martine Beswick, Caroline Munro and Madeline Smith.  I’ve met these wonderful ladies before, but it was great to hear them talk about their experiences with Bond, Hammer and beyond.  The session was light hearted and lots of fun, with some genuinely interesting stories. All three came across very well; they were warm and friendly and really happy to be part of the event.  Superb, my favourite bit of the whole day.

All in all, Chester Comic Con was a total success.  It was a great day out and I’ll definitely be repeating the experience next year.  Let’s hope that 2018’s Con is expanded to two days!

The Chester Comic Con website is here.

Well folks, there you have it – for now.  I have a few more photos from the event to share, however I appear to have reached my limit for images with WordPress.  So for now, this is it.

In fact, this may be the end of Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub.

We shall see…

MCM Birmingham Comic Con – Part 2

NEC Birmingham

19/20 November 2016 

I have loads of photos to share from my recent trip to Birmingham NEC, so thought I’d share some more.  As I mentioned previously, there were loads of fantastic Cosplay costumes being worn – so here are some additional pics.

In fact, it seemed to me that there were even more costumed attendees than ever!  MCM Birmingham is the biggest and best Comic Con I’ve been to (I’ve not made it to London), and the number of cosplayers seemed to be higher than ever.

There were some truly amazing outfits. Whether film or TV, book or comic book – it seemed like hundreds of heroes (and villains) were walking the halls.

Maybe it was just the abundance of Harley Quinns, but it seemed like there were many more females dressing as characters this time.  Nothing wrong with that, as comics and science fiction have always been more of a boys club.  Nice to see the ladies being involved and doing things so well.  No offence to the Harleys, by the way – the more the merrier!

There were some classic costumes from the boys this year too, though.  Deadpool and the Joker seemed quite popular, and were represented well with some superb renditions.

In my opinion, when I was last here Marvel characters slightly out weighed DC.  This November, DC were definitely fighting back!

Lots of Walking Dead, too.  I mentioned last time the amazing Daryl Dixon who I photographed, but messed up the picture.  Probably for the best, Mrs Platinum Al would be drooling forever.

There was also a Negan, who was an amazing look a like.  He should get some stunt double work on the show, he was so good!

Another dead ringer was Breaking Bad’s Walter White look a like – an amazing resemblance!  Check him out at @walterwhitelike on Twitter.

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All in all a superb day was enjoyed by all.  Thanks to all the various cosplayers who gave me permission to take their photo.  Everyone was really kind, gracious and friendly – I thank you for your patience.

Now I’m looking forward to a return to MCM Comic Con at the NEC in March 2017!

Wales Comic Con Strikes Back – part 2

Wales Comic Con

Saturday 23rd April to Sunday 24th April 2016

Glyndwr University, Wrexham

OK – so as I mentioned last time, I ended up with quite a few photos from Wales Comic Con.  Far too many for just one blog post.  So here’s part 2, featuring the remainder of pictures that I took.

Not much in the way of text this time – most of it was covered in the previous instalment.  Scroll down if you want to check that out.

So here you go – the second part of our adventures at Wales Comic Con in Wrexham…  IMG_20160424_134905083 IMG_20160424_134951100

At last November’s Wales Comic Con, my trusty Canon camera suffered a sudden, unexpected demise.  As a result, my recent photos have been taken on a little digital snappy camera and my phone.  Not ideal.  Now I don’t claim to be a great photographer, but a good camera has helped cover much of my inexperience.  I hope you can forgive some of these less than awesome pics and enjoy some of the fun of the day.

My thanks again to anyone who allowed me to take their photo at Wales Comic Con.  It’s really appreciated, and I hope you like the results.

Wales Comic Con was a real success yet again, in my opinion.  An enjoyable welcoming atmosphere, with very friendly guests.  I shared my last post on social media and the feedback was resoundingly positive, which was great.

So thanks again to all I encountered at Comic Con.  Your warmth and positivity made this event a fantastic experience!

The Wales Comic Con website is here.

Wales Comic Con Strikes Back – part 1

Wales Comic Con

Saturday 23rd April to Sunday 24th April 2016

Glyndwr University, Wrexham

It was time for another fun family day out in Wrexham, for Wales Comic Con.  Time to charge up the landspeeder and head over for more sci-fi shenanigans at Glyndwr University

Following on from the success of last year’s events, Wales Comic Con is now spread over a whole weekend.  This was a good move, as there seemed to be less crowds this year  – without losing any of the welcoming spirit.

We headed over on the Sunday, and though the weather wasn’t as amazing as this time last year, it still managed to remain fairly decent.  No matter, there were plenty of things to see and do, both inside and out, at the Con.

Although the guests weren’t of particular interest to me personally, it was nice to see a good amount of celebs in attendance.  The celeb who I was most thrilled to see was none other than Justin Lee Collins, who I didn’t know was there.  Most of the females in the vicinity seemed to be very taken with Jason “Aquaman” Momoa…

The amount of merchandise on sale appeared to be greater than previous, which was a bonus.  We splashed out on a few items, namely a cuddly Harley Quinn doll, a Walking Dead mug and some (delicious) peanut butter fudge.

The highlight, as ever, were the Cosplayers – dressed as all manner of characters from every facet of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror that you could imagine.  Yet again, the ingenuity and creativity on display was astonishing.  I took load of photos, which you can see here.  Despite my best camera having gone to the great Jessops in the sky, they mostly turned out OK.

So a big thank you to everyone who posed for a photo.  Everyone was very friendly and happy to be photographed – they were all super stars!

Speaking of Cosplay, my daughter Eloise was dressed as Princess Leia again and looked fantastic!  Quite a few people commented how great she looked, and asked for her photo!

This was also the first time I tentatively dipped my toes in the water of costuming at an event also.  After having been chided by various people at Sci Fi Weekender for not dressing as Tony Stark, I decided to give it a go.  I wore the same Black Sabbath that Tony wears in the film, and relied on my beard for the rest.  It was OK and a couple of people knew who I was supposed to be.  No one asked for my picture though…

I should also say that the staff seemed to be very helpful and efficient also.

All in all a grand day out for the Platinum Al family.  Looking forward to more later in the year!

The Wales Comic Con website is here.

It turns out that I have loads of half decent photos from Wales Comic Con.  Stay tuned for part 2 soon!