On Tour

MATTEL DreamToys 2018 Christmas Showcase | Barbie Ultimate Kitchen, Harry Potter & more!

Blast Process was fortunate enough to be invited to DreamToys 2018 - Yay!

The DreamToys list is the most authoritative independent prediction of toys that will be sought after for this Christmas.

Many toys and games were nominated by the panel and Mattel made into the top 10. So keep watching and celebrate your Christmas with a Barbie!

Funko DreamToys 2018 Christmas Showcase | Fortnite exclusives, Harry Potter, Wreck-it Ralph & more!

Blast Process was fortunate enough to be invited to DreamToys 2018 - Yay!

The DreamToys list is the most authoritative independent prediction of toys that will be sought after for this Christmas.

Many toys and games were nominated by the panel and Funko made it as a stocking filler that many children would want.

So keep watching and make your Christmas go with a POP!

LEGO DreamToys 2018 Christmas Showcase | Harry Potter, Jurassic World, Lego City Arctic Expedition

Blast Process was fortunate enough to be invited to DreamToys 2018 - Yay!

The DreamToys list is the most authoritative independent prediction of toys that will be sought after for this Christmas.

Lego unsurprisingly has made the list.

So keep watching and you'll get to see Marius Lang, UK Head of Marketing at Lego, give Brian (our man on the ground) a guided tour of the Lego display.

So sit back and enjoy the bricks!

Ian Kennedy at The Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2018

On a very wet Saturday Neil attended the Lakes Comic Art Festival and after watching the 'Flying High - Meet the Kennedys' drawing demonstration caught up with Ian Kennedy at the Scottish Comics Bothy. A very popular and crowded location.

The comic courses mentioned by Ian are in association with the University of Dundee;

https://www.dundee.ac.uk/english/comics/ https://www.dundee.ac.uk/study/pg/com...

See some of Ian's work here;

https://www.comicartfans.com/searchre...

The Art of Stranski - Lorenzo Etherington interview at the Wildman Gallery

Neil attended a very wet 'Lakes International Comic Art Festival' but that didn't stop him from interviewing!

Here he talks to Lorenzo Etherington; who along with his brother Robin is more widely celebrated as the Etherington Brothers and whose comics for all ages are adored by an army of fans. A point admirably demonstrated earlier this year when their 'How to Think When you Draw' Kickstarter campaign became the biggest funded UK comic project ever.

When Neil caught up with Lorenzo it was at the Wildman Gallery where his Art of Stranski Exhibit had just opened (12th October to 15th November). So sit back and discover together this forgotten lost 1940s masterpiece.... [Spoiler - Its all Lorenzo!]

For more information about the Etherington Brothers (and links to their free teaching materials);

http://etheringtonbrosportfolio.blogs...

https://twitter.com/etheringtonbros

https://www.instagram.com/etherington...

Thanks also to 'Turtle Steve' for stepping in as camera-operator!

https://www.instagram.com/willy_geek_/

FAB Worlds of Anderson - National Space Centre - Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, Space 1999 and more!

Neil's out and about again, this time he headed over to Leicester to visit the National Space Centre where a fantastic event was held on the 22nd - 23rd of September to celebrate the FAB Worlds of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson.

Find out more at the link below:

https://spacecentre.co.uk/event/the-f...

Rare: From 8-Bit To Xbox One - Exhibition Tour

Neil headed off to The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in Coventry last weekend to witness a fantastic new exhibition celebrating legendary British video game developer, Rare!

The exhibition is called 'Rare: From 8-Bit To Xbox One' and covers three decades of iconic games such as Battletoads, Banjo-Kazooie, GoldenEye and Viva Piñata.

Then set sail on the Sea of Thieves and explore how Rare’s latest release was made!

The Exhibition is on until the 23rd of September, for more details, check out the link below:

http://www.theherbert.org/whats_on/13...

Barrage Wargames Show Feature

Barrage Wargames is an event that takes place in Stafford, UK that is dedicated to Wargaming and also a spot of D&D, in short if you enjoy table top games of a Historical, Fantasy or Sci-Fi nature, you're sure to enjoy the event!

John Potter Guildford, the event's organiser was kind enough to give Neil a guided tour of the event, taking him around all of the event's 3 halls and chatting with some of the show's key exhibitors.

 For more info about this yearly event, check out of the link below:

http://staffordwargames.wixsite.com/b...

To find out more about 'House of Bread', the event's chosen charitable cause, you can follow the link below:

https://www.hobstafford.co.uk/

STC25 - 25 Years of Sonic the Comic

On the 3rd of June 2018, Neil and Tom headed to Manchester to attend STC25, an event celebrating 25 years since the first issue of Sonic the Comic.

The British Sonic the Comic was quite different from others, often referred to as Fleetway Sonic, after the comic's publisher. It had it's own unique characters and stories built around the video games.

It's amassed a massive following since it was first published, a enthusiastic group of fans even created their own continuation of the Comic online, having recently released their 275 Issue to co-inside with the event.

You can check out more here:

stconline.co.uk

LAWGIVER MK.4 - UK Judge Dredd Convention

We like to keep things interesting here at Blast Process, as you may have noticed we've been covering some Comic events recently and even done a feature on Starlord, a classic British comic that was closely connected with 2000AD, bringing us nicely to our latest 'On Tour' video...

Lawgiver is a dedicated Judge Dredd fan convention. The fourth such gathering was held at the Doubletree Hotel in Bristol on the 26th of May 2018. Neil went along, camera in hand, to check it out! For more info on Lawgiver, check out the website below:

http://lawgiver.co.uk/

Neil's Free Comic Book Day Adventure in London 2018

 

Saturday May the 5th, Neil was London bound to attend the 2018 Free Comic Book day, an event that spanned 3 main London based comic shops, with guest appearances and signings galore!

So we handed him a video camera to grab a first hand account of the event, resulting in this little video, enjoy!

You can find out more about Free Comic Book Day here:

https://www.freecomicbookday.com

https://twitter.com/Freecomicbook

Featured Stores:

Forbidden Planet Shaftsbury Avenue  https://www.forbiddenplanet.com https://twitter.com/ForbiddenPlanet

Gosh! Comics https://www.goshlondon.com https://twitter.com/GoshComics

Orbital Comics http://www.orbitalcomics.com https://twitter.com/orbitalcomics

Guests Gosh! window painting:

Dan White https://milkthecat.wordpress.com https://twitter.com/Thebeastmustdie

Crom http://cristianortiz.com https://twitter.com/BITSOFCROM

Lord Hurk http://www.lordhurk.com https://twitter.co/LordHurk

Lizzy Stewart http://www.abouttoday.co.uk https://twitter.com/lizzystewart

Paul Shinn http://paulshinndraws.com https://twitter.com/paulshinndraws

Isabel Greenberg http://www.isabelnecessary.com/ https://twitter.com/isabelgreenberg

2000 AD:

 https://2000ad.com/ https://twitter.com/2000AD

http://www.nedhartley.com/index.html

https://www.twitter.com/nedhartley

Matt Smith http://2000ad.com/ https://twitter.com/2000AD

Alec Worley http://www.alecworley.com https://twitter.com/alec_worley

Colin Bell https://about.me/colin.bell https://twitter.com/colinbell

Pye Parr http://www.pyeparr.com https://twitter.com/pyeparr

Tanya Roberts https://www.enolianslave.deviantart.com https://twitter.com/enolianslave

Keith Richardson

Indio! http://fistfullofindio.blogspot.co.uk https://twitter.com/Laughing_Indio

Neil Googe http://neilgooge.com https://twitter.com/neilgooge

Owen Michael Johnson http://www.changelingstudios.com https://twitter.com/Owen_Johnson

Doctor Who:

George Mann http://george-mann.com https://twitter.com/George_Mann

Rachael Stott https://www.rachaelstott.co.uk https://twitter.com/rachaelatwork

Simon "Si" Spurrier http://simonspurrier.co.uk/ https://twitter.com/sispurrier

The Guardian Cartoonists:

Stephen Collins http://www.stephencollinsillustration... https://twitter.com/stephen_collins

Tom Gauld https://www.tomgauld.com https://twitter.com/tomgauld

Simone Lia http://www.simonelia.com https://twitter.com/simoneliadraws

The Wicked + The Devine:

Kieron Gillen http://gillen.cream.org/wordpress_html/ https://twitter.com/kierongillen

Jamie McKelvie https://jamiemckelvie.com https://twitter.com/McKelvie

Allred:

Michael Allred and Laura Allred http://www.aaapop.com https://twitter.com/AllredMD

Agatha Christie Memorial:

 http://www.agathachristiememorial.co.uk/

Stoke CON Trent 2018 - Convention Overview

 

Stoke CON Trent is Staffordshire’s Biggest TV, Film, Comic and Memorabilia Convention. Neil and Tom took a video camera along to the event to see what it had to offer!

Further details of the event courtesy of the Stoke CON Trent website:

Many people come to Stoke CON Trent for a variety of reasons. It could be to meet the fantastic line up of guests we have, have a quick chat with them while they sign their autograph for you.

Others to see the attractions, examples at previous events have included various Doctor Who, Terminator, Gerry Anderson and Star Wars Props. We usually have a selection of Classic Cars including replicas of The Back to the Future Delorean, KITT , Del Boy’s Reliant Robin and Capri, A Star Wars X-Wing, The Scooby Doo Mystery Machine, Starsky & Hutch’s Ford Gran Tourino and the A-Team Van. Cosplay – a high percentage of visitors come to Stoke CON Trent dressed as their heroes from TV & Film.

Most enter the wonderful Cosplay Competition. Lots of people visit the various comic traders, artists and exhibitors, the event is the biggest specialist traders congregation of all things comic book, television and film held in Staffordshire on a bi-annual basis.

More info here: http://stokecontrent.co.uk/about/

IMAX VR Experience Opens in Trafford Centre Manchester

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Blastprocess was invited to try out the attractions at the new Odeon IMAX VR which is now opening at the Trafford Centre in Manchester on Friday 24th.

Mike was particularly keen – I think he was nearly at the ‘are we there yet’ stage as we drove down for our allotted meeting. So it was with great excitement that I and Mike approached the freshly revealed new attraction. Its protective hoardings had only been removed the night before.

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So after the warm welcome from Ben and his team of VR helpers we were given a guided tour of the booths and choice of the entertainments within. Honestly we felt like we had entered the Crystal Maze. But before we could begin we had to fill in some light paperwork and watch the health and safely video before moving onto the initial experience.

First up was Space Flight… (The full title is a little bit of a spoiler so I’ll stop right there). In this you are the passenger of an aircraft that achieves low Earth orbit. Now I’d best explain that you’re wearing; the glasses are HTC Vive business edition, meaning that you can’t buy these in the shops/online etc., and depending on the games then other equipment will be utilised (subpac rumble backpacks for example). For Space Flight you’re sitting in VR designed rumble chair - we'll find the name for this! Despite knowing that you’ve going nowhere the feeling of actual take off comes across as being very real and the views are exceptional. And as I implied earlier when I mentioned the title; I can’t tell you what happens…

imax vr mike 4.jpg

Life of Us was next on the agenda and this is unusual. Not in a bad way but this needs some careful explaining. Essentially in this experience you evolve from a ‘blob’ (yeah it will have a scientific name but let’s just go with ‘blob’) that goes through various incarnations as it evolves. Unlike Space Flight this is multiplayer so I could ‘see’ Mike next to me as we progressed through different geological periods. Our forms changed with each new time period and we learned as we went along what we could do with our new found bodies. The end was unusual - Let’s just say that it feature’s music by Pharrell Williams.

imax vr neil and mike.jpg

And so onto Eagle Strike; now I have no hesitation is saying that this was my favourite. This game allowed for various combinations of player vs player action but found 2 vs 2 to be the best.
In it one team are eagles whilst the other are falcons and we’re using some very snazzy Xbox controllers to interact with the game; with the exception for the direction of flight which was controlled by the turning of your head. Essentially you were tasked into bring food back to your eyrie. Once your bunny snack was acquired you were vulnerable, the opposing team now trying to snatch the animal carcass from you. Think of it as a feathery game of capture the flag. I must mention the landscape in this title. You are flying over and through a desolate and decaying Paris. The boulevards and alleyways present you with cover and the occasional speed boosts. It was a considerable joy using these as cover trying hard not to clip any of the scenery.

From being covered in feathers our next game gets you encased in metal as we played Archangel. This is a story driven mech simulator/shooter where you operate a 6-story walking robot. Story and path through the environments were predetermined but by using the Vive haptic feedback controllers you operated the robots arms; which of course mean you are controlling its collection of ordinance. In game selections allow you to change the loadout and there’s a choice of narrative experiences depending on the difficulty you wish to experience. 

imax vr neil and mike 2.jpg

For the next game it was the moment that Captain Kenny of the United Federation of Planets to makes his mark because we played Star Trek: Bridge Crew “Rescue at Perseph”!
(OK the actual title doesn’t include!) 

This is ideally designed for 4 players so just having the two of us made it a little taxing. That doesn’t mean you have more work to do; other players are replaced by bots but I feel that having people you know in all the positions would make following updates easier. I took the role of the Captain of our Federation vessel and Mike was designated as Tactical, the other possible roles being Helm and Engineering. 
Being set in the reboot film universe, or Kelvin timeline the look of the bridge matches that seen in the JJ Abrams/Bad Robot films so has a modern take on the original series look.
Since only the Captain can see all the mission objectives, this is a game of communication. So the Captain has to instruct the crew taking care that their actions don’t overlap since some commands will have a direct impact on the ability of others to achieve their orders. So a certain amount of judgement and oversight is needed. We managed to rescue 5 people during our session and this is certainly an interesting game that deserves a lot of exploration and play. Talking to the staff they’ve managed to rescue 25 people so unlike the Kobayashi Maru this isn’t a no-win scenario (Star trek II reference there folks).

imax vr mike and neil 3.jpg

From Star Trek we moved onto Star Wars: Trials on Tatooine. Now I’d played this last year at Star Wars Celebration Europe on the LMxLAB stand so I was eager to give a better showing this second time around. In this mini adventure you’re tasked with meeting a certain smuggler and you will get ‘a bad feeling about this’ as trouble obviously breaks out. Again I’ve no wish to spoil things so I can’t really tell you what will certainly be the main selling point. However when I played this before this was the first time I appreciated what VR could now achieve; the sense of being part of the action was overwhelming. 

imax vr mike 2.jpg

And finally we played Raw Data. We were recommended to play this last. The reason being that by then we would have become familiar with the VR technology plus this title is a lot more physically demanding than the others.
In essence is a first person sci-fi themed shooter. Three character classes exist with the game which also affected the load out to be carried. I found the easiest was the character with the handgun(s), the katana wielder and the shotgun user requiring more skill to play but in balance provide more flexible firepower. This title used the haptic controller to move you around the play environment. This was achieved using what appeared to be a grenade ark showing where you’d instantly move to. This worked very well allowed you to appear behind your target before teleporting out.
I could tell that this was Mike’s favourite and he seriously liked the shotgun…

imax vr neil 2.jpg

We spent the afternoon enjoying the experiences that IMAX VR could provide so many thanks to Liam and his VR hosts of the IMAX VR Manchester Trafford Park for their time, trouble and patience. We look forward to a return visit and also seeing future titles and when they appear.

IMAX VR will be opening it's doors or is that virtual space? for you to explore and immersive yourself in on Friday 24th at the Trafford Centre in Manchester. On-line bookings will be taken through it's website but we'll give you updated as more information lands come launch day.

A little snippit from Mike; 

IMAX VR is truly unlike any other VR experience that I've come across. Start to finish, this is how you showcase and explore the world of VR

It's all he talks about!

A Joke – a play by Dan Freeman

Two days ago, in a small theatre located in Winsford I took my seat to watch the first ever public performance of ‘A Joke’ and would serve as the first of two previews before heading north where it will form part of the Edinburgh Fringe this year.


This is a new play by Dan Freeman; the creator/writer of ‘The Minister of Chance’, ‘The Light of September’ and the main constituent of Mundo Jazz.
Now this isn’t a review but my thoughts of the evening and confession time; I’m not a totally impartial observer since I had sponsored the play (well page 2 at least). This neatly introduces the fact this play is crowdfunded and various perks are on offer to help keep this show quite literally on the road. I’ll put enough links to make Jacob Marley blush at the end.

Now to the play itself… A tricky one this since I’m not going to spoil it but I have to write something and I think it is fair to at least give you an idea of what to expect.


The play is a three hander with each of our performers appearing onstage with knowledge of the world in general but nothing of themselves. As it progresses our three Joketeers(?!) go on a ‘Fools Journey’ navigating themselves through the structure of a joke and as a consequence life – after all what happens to a joke once it’s told?

To reveal more would be unfair but personally I saw within the performances various interpretations of the Fool, glimpses of Harry H Corbett and even homages to Flanagan and Allen. This may just be my imagination however but these thoughts crossed my mind as I watched.

Up to now I’ve not mentioned the cast. Our unnamed journeymen are played by Richard Oliver, Sylvester McCoy and Robert Picardo. Each provide a different perspective on their situation and are different characters despite being identically dressed (all costumes can be bought – I told you it was crowdfunded).

Now I said that this isn’t a review but it was a marvellous night with laughs a plenty.
The logo may be a chicken but it isn’t by any means a turkey.

Tickets and play information
 

http://www.danfreeman.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/ajokeplay/

Author

https://www.facebook.com/dan.freeman.127

Cast

https://www.facebook.com/4SylvesterMcCoy/

https://www.facebook.com/RichardOliverActor

https://www.facebook.com/rpicardo1

Chester Pokemon Go Event 17 Miles in 1 Minute Video

A little late in posting the video here, but here's our summary of Chester's very own Pokemon Go event.

Christmas in July Trade Event - London 2017

Christmas in July for those who are not aware is a trade show (or shows) that allow retailers or manufacturers the opportunity to present their Christmas selections to the media far in advance of the big day.

From a single event, this has bloomed into a season with individual retailers having their own shows and on 20th July (2017) at the former Billingsgate Fish Market, Amazon took their turn.
Once inside the venue was open plan with different zones representing various parts of the Amazon organisation. Active demonstrations were everywhere whilst samples of Amazon Food were being circulated*.

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Of interest to our regular readers was the gaming area found on the upper floor. A small delegation from Microsoft were taking people through the features of the forthcoming Xbox One X whilst a rolling video was demonstrating the visual enhancements of the new hardware; an example of which was on a table. I actually got to hold the new machine, well the casing for it, and it is fair to say that visually it is a black version of the Xbox One S. Thus maintaining the new smaller profile but what did strike me from a tactile point of view was the surface knurling which gave it a more rugged feel, that’s not to say it was pronounced just more apparent to the touch.  Still no confirmation on the internal hard drive size but Gamescom is just around the corner and that might be the venue for final SCU details.

Literally next door to the Xbox display was the Oculus VR demonstration area. Here you could try from a selection of demos. For those that don’t know the Occulus Rift is a head mounted 3D display that is driven by a PC. In order to allow you to interact with the 3D environment they were using a pair of Touch controllers. These resemble a small moulded pistol grips inside a halo like hoops. Fitted with safety straps these hung from the wrists until required and soon became a natural extension of your hands. The pads, triggers and buttons were exactly where you’d want them and gave you far more control than that offered by a conventional controller. Although initially available separately these controllers are now part of a time limited bundle pack.

The next person to experience it was my trusty compatriot Brian (Doyle) who chose the demo where you’re inside a building with a lot of interactive items.  At this point I’ll hand over to Brian;

My previous exposure to VR gaming is minimal. At Celebration Europe last year, I did try "Trials on Tattooine", the ILMxLAB's own "proof of concept" experimental VR, which required every person trying it to have their own private room and a minder. As it involved a lot of turning around and lightsabre combat I can only imagine what we looked like to the minders, but I hope it kept them amused. (I will confess that when I tried to deflect Stormtrooper blaster fire back at them, eventually I think some of the troopers just gave up and left out of boredom)
So this was my first go at proper commercially targeted VR, and I wasn't sure how it would compare.

The person ahead of me for the Oculus Rift, was REALLY getting into the Fruit Ninja-like game, to the extent that there was a deal of jumping around which was really putting the length of the flex to it's limits.

Being far more sedate, I tried the "Robo Recall" demo, which involved interacting with a cute and friendly little floating robot in a cluttered room as it provides you with a range of little toys for you "3d print" and interact with, from toy bottle rockets, to a free floating target practice range.
The illusion is incredible, at a basic level you KNEW you were still in a large open-plan display area, but the game area walls crowding in around you convince you otherwise (as does the remarkable sound design). Even not having a physical presence in the game beyond a pair of disembodied hands (which can interact with things but can't register touch), isn't enough to spoil it (When it really should). As someone who needs varifocal glasses there wasn't even a loss in focus when the depth of field changed, which surprised me more than I expected.

Of course, the effectiveness of the illusion is one reason I would probably be very limited in my playing. Since I was "in" a crowded area, I had an overwhelming urge to constantly check what was behind me, and for the Robo Recall game that was fine as all there was a blank wall with a door (Which you couldn't open). How exactly I would react to any remotely creepy or menacing game, with jump scares and worse yet, having to check behind me for shambling things, I'm honestly not sure how I'd react, but I'm not sure I could actually enjoy it.

Thanks Brian, now to my thoughts or call it a second viewpoint which seems very appropriate for a stereoscopic device…


Once I was kitted up and had the unit configured to my eyesight (just a slider) I then went through a tutorial on the way you interact inside the virtual environment. Here I must mention that unlike my previous experience of VR the Touch controllers mean that you don’t just see the tool being used but your actual hand and thanks to the gesture input you see the position of your fingers too.
Once the tutorial was over I was able to make a selection from the choice of demos. Since you were able to ‘see’ what the wearer was experiencing on a screen and the choice that Brian had made seemed to be a lot of fun I selected the same one.
I then found myself in some sort of worn out building behind a counter. The décor had a strong 80s office vibe. The sense of place was palpable and without spoiling the demo it used a device to create items to interact with; the first being a robot buddy. The 3D was convincing and the Touch controllers gave me the required tools to interact with the environment and I was genuinely disappointed when the demonstration came to an end and I had to return to the real world.

Sadly, my time at the Amazon event was limited as we were a late arrival so the coverage now draws to a close but I must give grateful thanks to Amazon for their hospitality.
*I must confess that the lemon drizzle cake was the best I’ve ever tasted and incredibly moist. The carrot cake was pretty nice also…

- Neil Kenny and Brian Doyle

EGX 2016 Interviews - Game of The Show?

It's that time of the year again, a date thats always bookmarked in the Blast Process diary. EGX is the UK's biggest gaming event that's held at Birmingham within the NEC.

So what did we get up too? Here's a few of our Interviews that we carried out with some upcoming indie developers!

Snake Pass is our clear winner going into our YouTube viewership but we'll be checking out  the games come closer to release and let you know our verdict on them.