Category: Pop Culture


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Funko is on its way to becoming one of the giant toy companies.  Did Ideal, Hasbro, Kenner, and Mattel start like this?  Just look at not only all of its licensed films and television series, but at the breadth of the types of figures it offers.  We’ve discussed at length the Funko ReAction line, but their most popular line is the Funko Pop! series of large, squat bobblehead figures, and Funko also produces a Fabrikations line, Mystery Minis, and a high-quality sculpted Legacy action figure line.  Now there is another Funko line of figures–the Vinyl Idolz–with some interesting licensed films represented.

Just as Jaws is a blockbuster genre classic, so is Young Frankenstein for fans of comedies, listed as #13 on the American Film institute’s roster of the funniest American movies.  The Nightmare Before Christmas-inspired sculpt style for Vinyl Idolz is a good fit for Young Frankenstein.  But there’s more–a Shaun of the Dead line is also simply brilliant.  Also look for the strangest combination of shows in a toy line we’ve ever seen: Back to the Future, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, the original Ghostbusters trio, The Walking Dead, Dodgeball, Napoleon Dynamite, the 1960s Batman TV series, Say Anything, Hot Fuzz, and even the strange, non-lead regulars of Seinfeld.

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After the break, check out images of several of the new figures.  Click on each to learn more and order or pre-order them at online superstore Entertainment Earth.

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TIE fighter

If you remember the 1970s, you may remember the first time you saw the catalog for Star Wars toys–an insert in any and all Star Wars vehicles, playsets, and large-sized action figures.  Hasbro has published the complete, first catalog for Episode VII of Star Wars, and as we expected from the preview we discussed last week here at borg.com, plenty of dollars will be spent at midnight, September 4, 2015–“Force Friday”–as the new line of toys spreads across the country.  As much as for its groundbreaking space fantasy films, Star Wars is known for its landmark toy and collectible merchandising.  Look before Star Wars and nothing compares.

Below, we reprint the new catalog so you can start making your want list.  But first, do you remember the first Star Wars catalogs?  Just compare what was offered for Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back fans to what will be available to the latest generation of Star Wars moviegoers.  Not much has changed, has it?

You’ll find 3 3/4-inch action figures, even the first of the 12-inch line of figures, vehicles, lightsabers (although the new line could merit its own catalog), and then those… other items you can’t quite explain.  Like Star Wars plastic model kit vans from the past, or now… is that a Chewbacca Furby?

Here are both the catalogs from Star Wars: Episode IV, A New Hope, Episode V, The Empire Strikes Back, and the latest–the catalog for Episode VII, The Force Awakens:

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LOTR Astin 1

So what is the point of cosplay anyway?  For some it’s costume contests, for others it’s the challenge of creating the closest look possible to the real thing, for others it’s making a new mash-up or creation no one has thought of.  For others, it’s getting garb together to meet up with the actors or creators that made the character famous in the first place.  Whatever your motivation, you know you put it all together just right when the result is all-out fun for you and everyone you encounter, whether you’re attending a local or large convention or visiting your local Renaissance Faire or other gathering.

This year at the Kansas City Comic Con, with the announcement of The Lord of the Rings’ own Samwise, actor Sean Astin as guest, it meant it was time to bring Middle-earth to Kansas City.  It’s a surprising rarity at pop culture and comic book conventions–fantasy characters.  Sure, you see plenty of superheroes, sci-fi movie and animated characters, but fantasy, via films, TV, or books, seems to just be gaining steam.

LOTR Astin 5

Your fearless editor brought out the Radagast and Gimli fatigues (see here and here for some photos) and joined up with Mimosa Bunce aka Rosie aka borg.com writer and author Elizabeth C. Bunce and her newly minted Hobbit feet and garb, and we met up with the Springfield Fellowship of The Lord of the Rings for some fun.  Astin called the Middle-earth contingent together at day’s end and Elizabeth broke away from Artists Alley to join the Fellowship for a fun photo shoot thanks to Froggy’s Photos.

Want to know what in-depth preparation, research, knowledge and sewing skills go into the creation of garb for cosplay?

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Chris Hadfield album space sessions cover songs from a tin can

International Space Station astronaut Chris Hadfield has another “first” in store for us.  You’ll know Commander Hadfield as the rock star astronaut who recorded his own version of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” back in 2013.  We discussed his rock video filmed in space here back then at borg.com.  Hadfield is now releasing the first ever album recorded in space.  And yes, Space Sessions: Songs From a Tin Can will include his hit “Space Oddity,” the song heard more than 26 million times by Earthlings via YouTube.

If an album was ever begging to be released in vinyl, this may be it.  Luckily it will be released on CD, digital, and vinyl.

Hadfield has recounted his missions in An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth and via his photos in You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes: Photographs from the International Space Station.

Ground control to Cmdr Hadfield

Here is a trailer for the album:

And here is “Feet Up,” a single from the album:

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Star Wars Episode VII action figures A eBay

When Star Wars: The Phantom Menace premiered sixteen years ago in 1999, action figure collectors had gone a decade without any new 3 ¾-inch action figures from the Star Wars franchise toy line.  Hasbro released updates to the original trilogy beginning in 1995 as Lucasfilm rejuvenated the toy line.  At midnight on May 3, 1999, the day of the release of the new trilogy action figures and ten days before the film’s release, Toys ‘R’ Us stores saw waiting lines similar to what we would see for the first week the movie screened in theaters.

Official May 1999 SW cert

The general public had no “first look” at the new line other than a sneak preview figure of Samuel L. Jackson’s Mace Windu, so fans had to decide quickly upon inspecting the new figures whether they were going to jump in with both feet or ignore the line altogether.  Instantly appealing figures and characters included Qui-Gonn Jinn and Darth Maul.  Wave 1 included eight figures: Anakin in Tatooine outfit, Battle Droid, Darth Maul, Jar Jar Binks, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Padme Naberrie, Queen Amidala in Naboo outfit, and Qui-Gonn Jinn.  Each came with a Commtech chip (Commtalk in Europe) which produced sounds from the movie if placed on a separately purchased Commtech reader.  All card backs featured the face of Darth Maul.

Captain Phasma figure   Kylo Ren figure

September 4, 2016 is the scheduled release date for the first wave of action figures from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  Somehow, the first wave of figures hit the streets this week and made it to eBay, and they reveal twelve new action figures for Hasbro’s now (again) Kenner-branded line.  Is one of these going to be the next Jar Jar Binks?

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3D Photobooth Gimli Jo Kamm KCCC 2015 Kansas City Comic Con

The first Kansas City Comic Con comic book and pop culture convention wrapped Sunday at the Kansas City Convention Center at Bartle Hall.  We bid farewell as Doctor Who’s Colin Baker headed to the airport to return home to England and other guests set out across the country after a long and exciting weekend in the Midwest, leaving behind some happy and (exhausted) fans.  But first, crowds again lined the aisles Sunday, grabbing last-minute selections of prints from artists, books from writers, and comic books and collectibles from the several dealers on site.

Sunday saw more panels, more autographs and photo ops, and more conversations with creators.

Royals Iron Man

Our vote for the best cosplay of the show?  This Kansas City Royals-inspired Iron Man.  What better cosplay ambassador to the first Kansas City Comic Con than this superhero?

But it was hard to beat this great costume of a Gnoll from Dungeons & Dragons:

Gnoll from D&D

Excellent work!

Our vote for the best new addition to conventions anywhere this year was Jo Kamm’s 3D Photobooth.  Unlike the 3D photobooth featured at last year’s World Series, the 3D Photobooth at KCCC printed highly detailed, large figurines.  And unlike other 3D printing booths we’ve seen before, Kamm’s software and technology recreated recognizable faces.   We’ll feature the process used at the booth in a later article, but our response and those of various passersby watching the imaging in process was simply “Wow!”

Here Kamm renders examples of a digital 3D, 360-degree image of both our Radagast ensemble from Saturday…

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Sean Astin CJ Bunce Elizabeth C Mimosa Bunce KCCC 2015 Kansas City Comic Con

We could stop after just the above photo with actor Sean Astin, but we won’t.  Kansas City Comic Con broke the mold this weekend, setting up a fun environment for thousands of attendees to get a major league dose of pop culture fun.  You could meet icons of classic movies, like Pam Grier (1970s action film star), classic TV, like Butch Patrick (Eddie, from The Munsters), from current hits like Game of Thrones (Kristian Nairn), and classic 1980s video games (Billy Mitchell of King of Kong fame), to kids’ favorites (Power Rangers’ August St. John), classic British TV (Doctor Who’s Colin Baker), and megahits like The Lord of the Rings (Sean Astin) and Star Wars (Nalini Krishan and Orli Shoshan).

Creators from the Star Wars universe could be found everywhere, from current Marvel Star Wars writer Jason Aaron, to artist icon Michael Golden, to Disney-era Star Wars artists Bryan Fyffe and Joe Corroney.  Creators from several major licensed characters could be found with Phil Hester, Ande Parks, Jai Nitz, Greg Smallwood, and Tony Moore.  And then there is Jim Shooter and Mike Zeck from the superhero sphere of classic comics.  Phew!  That’s a busy weekend.

Rick Howland KCCC 2015 Kansas City Comic Con

We had a great time with Rick Howland, star of Syfy Channel’s Lost Girl, which only recently wrapped its final episode.

Here’s writer CW Cooke talking with attendees at his booth…

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William Binderup Pam Grier KCCC 2015

The first ever Kansas City Comic Con began yesterday afternoon at the Kansas City Convention Center at Bartle Hall in downtown Kansas City.  Thousands of fans met hundreds of creators of comic books, fiction, cosplay, and other creative pursuits.  Many fulfilled dreams to meet celebrities of TV and film both new and from the past.  Comic book conventions are all about spending the weekend with like-minded fans of anything and everything you could conceive of fitting between the sci-fi, fantasy, and superhero genres.

The first day was full of con-goers getting the lay of the land–getting sketches commissioned by their favorite local or nationally-recognized artist, getting in the front of the line to meet a host of celebrity guests, and getting the first selection from the great volume of dealers at the show.  Helping out everyone were the yellow shirt-garbed “henchmen”–a well organized group of ambassadors that handled everything with a smile.

Bunce Pam Grier KCCC 2015

You can’t beat a day when you get to meet one of the coolest women in the history of cinema.  C.J. Bunce with Pam Grier.

Guests included Pam Grier, star of dozens of movies in the 1970s as well as TV and film roles since, and in particular the lead role in Quentin Tarentino’s Jackie Brown.  Ms. Grier is everything you’d hope for in such an iconic actress, and she had plenty of stories to share with fans Friday.  She also hosted a special screening of Jackie Brown after the show at the Alamo Drafthouse Theater.  Attendees received an exclusive Jackie Brown print signed by Ms. Grier.

Jedi KCCC 2015

Nalini Krishan and Orli Shoshan arrive for the opening of KCCC 2015 Day One.

Nalini Krishan and Orli Shoshan signed photos for fans and participated in photo ops, as did other media guests.  Ms. Krishan and Ms. Shoshan were featured as Jedi Knights in the Star Wars prequels.

Elizabeth C Bunce KCCC 2015

Author Elizabeth C. Bunce in steampunk cosplay.

Your humble editor spent the day with author (and borg.com writer) Elizabeth C. Bunce at Table 617 in the convention’s Artists Alley.  As much a part of comic conventions as print media creators and celebrities are cosplayers, and plenty could be found in the convention halls.

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BW1    Cluster_006_A_Main

Today we have another big sampler of comic book previews for books hitting comic book stores everywhere tomorrow, on Comic Book Wednesday.

We have previews today with something for anyone and everyone and we’re previewing many books that have been around for a few issues in case you missed them.  It’s always easy to request back issues from your local comic book shop.  So look for previews below from Dynamite Comics, IDW Publishing/Archaia, BOOM! Studios, and Dark Horse Comics.

BigTroubleLittleChina_014_B_Variant    RSConan01-Cov-A-Ross

Don’t miss out on Red Sonja/Conan, Star Trek, Big Trouble in Little China, Zombies v. Robots, Transformers v G.I. Joe, Barb Wire, The Shadow, Cluster, Broken World, and Swords of Sorrow.  And don’t forget to look for the Adam Hughes cover art for Barb Wire and Alex Ross cover art for Red Sonja/Conan.

Without further ado, here are this week’s previews:

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Sean Astin KCCC 2015

This Friday, Saturday, and Sunday thousands of sci-fi, fantasy, and superhero fans will attend the inaugural Kansas City Comic Con, a new comic book and pop culture convention to be held at the Kansas City Convention Center at Bartle Hall.  The show has booked the very best comic book and fiction writers and artists in the U.S. as well as some great movie and TV guests.

Jackie Brown KCCC exclusive print

Headlining the show will be none other than Jackie Brown herself, actress Pam Grier. Not only is Ms. Grier known for her leading role in Quentin Tarentino’s hit film, but she has also starred in the classic 1970s films Coffy and Foxy Brown, as well as Fort Apache The Bronx, Something Wicked This Way Comes, John Carpenter’s Escape from L.A. and Ghosts of Mars, and TV series including Night Court, Crime Story, Knots Landing, Miami Vice, Bones, The L Word, and Smallville.

Fantasy fans can meet Sean Astin, who played Frodo’s pal Samwise in The Lord of The Rings series, also scheduled as a show headliner.

Colin Baker Doctor Who TARDIS

Many Doctor Who fans will get their first chance to meet Colin Baker, who played the fan-favorite Sixth Doctor on BBC’s original series from 1984 to 1986. Known for his bright patchwork jacket, you may have seen him most recently in the funny film The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot, discussed earlier at borg.com here.

Todd Aaron Smith KCCC 2015 print A     Todd Aaron Smith KCCC 2015 print B

In this big year of Star Wars, Kansas City Comic Con attendees will get an opportunity to meet two actresses known for their roles as Jedi Knights in the Star Wars prequels. Nalini Krishan played Barriss Offee, a Jedi Knight and General in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones.  Also scheduled to appear is Orli Shoshan, who played Jedi Knight Shaak Ti, also in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (as well as deleted scenes in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith).  And check out the great prints above that will be available for animation artist Todd Aaron Smith.

corroney print

Creator guests scheduled to attend the Con include Jason Aaron, Neal Adams, C.W. Cooke, Nicholas Forristal, Bryan Fyffe, Michael Golden, Phil Hester, Damont Jordan, Jim Mehsling, Jai Nitz, Ande Parks, Chris Sebela, Greg Smallwood, Rick Stasi, Bryan Timmins, Darryl Woods, Mike Zeck, and our own borg.com writer, fantasy author Elizabeth C. Bunce.  Joe Corroney will be onsite signing the above print for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and check out this great KCCC print available from Bryan Fyffe:

KCCC print Bryan Fyffe 2015

The show expects to have hundreds of vendors, plus displays, cosplay, autograph and photo opportunities.

Kansas City Comic Con will be held August 7-9, 2015, at the Kansas City Convention Center in downtown Kansas City at Bartle Hall, the venue for the region’s biggest events.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

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