Category: Pop Culture


A close up for Bruce the shark in Jaws

Review by C.J. Bunce

In time for the 40th anniversary of the movie Jaws, Titan Books issued an updated edition of Jaws: Memories from Martha’s Vineyard, a rare and unusual chronicle of the making of a film.  Told via photographs and interviews from the locals who helped literally make the film, from construction crews to performers tapped to play key roles in the movies, Memories offers yet another view of the making of the first modern summer blockbuster.

What differentiates this book from other works on this movie (or any other movie) is the “local” perspective.  Instead of giving the standard Hollywood view of the “making of” a movie using interviews with the crew and producers as you’d normally find on the TV and Film shelf, the authors, Jaws memorabilia collectors Matt Taylor and Jim Beller, take a historical research approach.  They rely on primary source material, through hundreds of hours of interviews with every islander who would speak with them, newspaper clippings from 1974, scrapbooks and photo albums that have sat on shelves for 35 years, including plenty of information never before seen by the general public.  The result is a story told in photos rarely seen for any film or film franchise–something you’d only find from years of books published about Star Wars, Star Trek, and the Indiana Jones movies.

Amity Island billboard in production

The story is told chronologically, day by day from the selection of the filming locations on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts to pre-production and on through the wrap-up of filming.  The memorabilia and ephemera pictured includes everything from the remnants of the actual boats used in the movie to the more mundane, like checks and contracts for day laborers.  Yet every piece is interesting, like candid Polaroids showing Robert Shaw’s first day on set and Spielberg at the cabin he lived at during the shoot.  The experience of sifting through all that remains of the production is a bit like spending a weekend at a small town local library researching any historical event from a town’s past.

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Gentle Giant Ant-Man SDCC 2015

As we find every year, Gentle Giant is back again next week with several great exclusives for San Diego Comic-Con 2015–something for everyone.  The finest pieces come from Marvel Studios’ new Ant-Man film and classic Star Wars characters.  The Ant-Man sculpt, shown above, is a top-notch rendering of Paul Rudd’s character in costume.  This statue is limited to only 500 pieces.  It is 4.25 inches tall–not ant sized but big enough to appreciate.

Gentle Giant prototype Boba Fett SDCC 2015

Next is this stunning bust of the prototype for Boba Fett.  Every version of Boba Fett that gets turned into a toy or collectible simply amazes, and this all white version just makes us all want to see this character in action.

Deadpool Gentle Giant SDCC 2015

Deadpool fans will appreciate this interpretation of Deadpool by Gentle Giant artists.  It’s Deadpool as he may have looked in Secret Wars.  This figure stands 12 inches tall.

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Super7 Haunted House SDCC 2015

San Francisco-based toy company Super7 announced several exclusives this week that the company will be offering at San Diego Comic Con later this month, including a giant Haunted House to be used with their 3 3/4 inch action figure line with Funko toys.  Super7’s biggest playset so far, the Haunted House is designed to fit any and all 3 3/4 ReAction figures and classic Kenner figures.  Measuring in at a whopping 25” wide and 20” tall, the three-story mansion is packed with trap doors, concealed entrances, hidden rooms and secret passages.

Super7 spent almost an entire year developing this playset to match the vintage cardboard playsets of the 1970s.  Loaded with over 60 individually painted panels and countless custom double-pass die-cuts on both sides of every board, the Haunted House may look simple, but this was the most complex toy Super7 has ever produced.  Available exclusively from Super7, the Haunted House playset will be available for $75 each, limit one per person at SDCC booth #4945 (action figures not included).  Look below for close-up photos.

Universal Monsters ghost figures

Super7 will also be offering two Nightmare Before Christmas action figures, and a four-figure Universal Monster monster playset including a crypt. Super7 will also be offering a Masters of the Universe prototype set, available only at Skeletor’s Lair during SDCC at 701 8th Ave., San Diego, CA 92101.

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Flux Capacitor from Back to the Future

Let’s face it–our lives are very busy, and the last thing you will do when you wake up tomorrow morning is think “Hey it’s time for me to replace my flux capacitor.”  However, the life of your time travel system is very dependent on the condition of your flux capacitor.  Having an old flux capacitor can stall an otherwise enjoyable journey, and can cause you to be stuck back in 1985.  Or worse.  Just ask Marty McFly.

Save the Clock Tower

And although they don’t offer an annual maintenance service agreement, that’s why the folks at Diamond Select offer a replacement flux capacitor for handling all your time travel needs.  Remember, you should always check and possibly change your flux capacitor in between time travel escapes, or at least every 30 years or 300,000 miles.  Changing the flux capacitor is actually something that is very easy for anyone to do.  Here are two places to pick up your own high-end unit, and a less expensive option for everyone else (complete with blinky lights!).

Replica flux capacitor

Amazon, Entertainment Earth, and BTTF.net each offer the same unit right now.  You can get yours from Amazon here, Entertainment Earth here, or from BTTF.net here.  Through June 20, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. Central time BTTF.net is knocking $95 off their regular price.  Amazon has the lowest price as of today, but has limited quantities.  So act fast.*

Need a more affordable model?

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Jaws-paperback

Reviewed by C.J. Bunce

For the Fourth of July that is arriving on the heels of the fortieth anniversary of the premiere of the blockbuster movie Jaws, what better time for a summer reading of Peter Benchley’s bestselling novel that the movie is based on?

Well it was a good notion.

And it’s the notion in the novel Jaws–the premise–that fortunately inspired scriptwriter Carl Gottlieb, and Benchley himself–to both expand the novel, and more importantly, whittle it down, into such a finely executed, classic film.

But wait, Jaws was a bestseller!  A book that was on everyone’s bookshelf in the early 1970s!  Who doesn’t remember that book cover, and who didn’t sing the praises of that book?

The first third of the novel is quite good, exciting reading that fans of the film will be familiar with:  The death of a young woman at night swimming with her boyfriend in the northwest beach community of Amity, the politics of Chief Brody and the Mayor keeping the beaches open, and the subsequent death of a boy and lambasting of Brody by the boy’s mother for not closing down the beaches after the first death.  The introductory chapters really set up the reader for a wild ride.

Jaws_novel_cover

Unfortunately from there the story drifts off course and never returns to the excitement of the set-up.

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Jaws Entertainment Earth exclusive SDCC 2015 comic-con Quint and shark

Youth is wasted on the young.

I should have this line from It’s a Wonderful Life in a frame hanging over my desk.

Case in point:  The exclusive Jaws shark and bloody Quint playset available only from Entertainment Earth in San Diego on Comic-Con weekend.

How much fun would we have had with that toy as kids?

And–wow–look at these nifty Planet of the Apes figures from NECA toys:

NECA-CC15-POTA-Bundle SDCC 2015

NECA has introduced some of our favorite lines in the past, like the retro Tron line from more than a decade ago.

San Diego Comic-Con exclusives are being announced in advance of the show in addition to what will be revealed at this year’s show with 40 exclusives this year from Entertainment Earth alone.  If you want one of them you’ll need to be at SDCC 2015, except for some, which we have links to pre-order from below.  And this year you’ll be limited to one per person for SDCC 2015 Entertainment Earth exclusives as other booths have done in the past.  So you’ll need to enlist some friendly Con-goers to buy extra for you.

CW Funko SDCC 2015 exclusives Arrow Flash

Highlights include new Funko ReAction unmasked Oliver Queen and Barry Allen figures from the CW series Arrow and The Flash, as well as these:

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Kirk Spock intercom

Okay, we’re still pumped from seeing William Shatner this weekend (discussed here).  So let’s take a look at a few items we received from online superstore Entertainment Earth.  Entertainment Earth is featuring several items inspired by movies and TV this month, including two we’re reviewing here today.  First up is a motion-activated door bell sensor made by ThinkGeek, in the design of the wall communicator panels seen throughout the corridors of original starship Enterprise NCC-1701 from the 1960s Star Trek series.

Nicely designed and affordable at under $30, it features three authentic sounds.  Press the white button to hear the boatswain’s intercom whistle (Captain on the bridge!).  Or set the right, left, or both motion sensors to sound off when anyone passes by.  Choose either the red alert (with flashing light) or the swoosh sound of the opening door as you pass into the transporter room.  More than a cheap toy, the sensors actually work for several feet and the sound is clear and loud.  And batteries are included.

Great for your home or office, it will instantly let everyone know your affiliation with the Federation.  Check out the details and order yours here.

Think Geek Star Trek Doorbell

Just compare the look of this ThinkGeek working door sensor to the real thing (above).

When you’re in travel mode to the next star system, checking out a planet’s surface with a landing party, or just going to your nearest Star Trek convention, why not go in style?

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Dumb and Dumber car Wizard World Des Moines 2015

What makes a great Comic Con?

Wizard World Des Moines combined all the right elements this past weekend to create a new annual Midwest destination tradition.  A mix of big name celebrities, comic book creator icons, fanboys and fangirls attending in costume, a variety of vendors, gaming opportunities, current genre properties, the unexpected, taking along family and friends (and meeting new ones and catching up with old ones) and taking in some good food.  And thanks to the success of its first effort, Wizard World will be back again next year at the Iowa Events Center, May 13-15, 2016.

If you missed it, check out our coverage at borg.com yesterday here.

A comic and pop culture convention is even better when your own favorite character seems to have his own theme at the show.  Take our own favorite, Green Arrow, for instance.  This weekend you could have met the artists for the three best Green Arrow series ever produced, including artist/writer Mike Grell:

Milton Bunce Mike Grell Wizard World Des Moines 2015 Zorro

Artists Milton Bunce and Mike Grell at Wizard World Des Moines 2015 Sunday.

And as luck would have it, Mike found a lost piece of original art he brought to the show, a cover prelim/rough for a 24-year old annual issue he created:

Grell WWDM 2015 cover rough annual 4   Green_Arrow_Annual_Vol_2_4

There’s no place better to pick up original comic book art than a Comic Con, whether it’s a sketch commission or original pages that artists bring to the show to gawk at or even purchase.  (Thanks for bringing this one, Mike!).

And there’s one of the other of the three major artists known for his Green Arrow work (he’s done Batman and a ton of other characters, too), Neal Adams:

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Wizard World Des Moines 2015 from above

It must be one of the best-attended Comic Cons for a first-time event:  More than 25,000 fans of print and film superheroes and celebrities attended this weekend’s Wizard World Des Moines comic book and pop culture convention at the Iowa Events Center in downtown Des Moines, Iowa.  And the show’s management believes the attendance assures Wizard World will return to Des Moines next summer, establishing the next major annual Midwest comic book fan convention.

Fans from Iowa and neighboring states toured the halls and giant celebrity autograph and photo op room, many in cosplay garb.  The highlights include a premiere slate of comic book creators in Artists Alley and celebrity appearances that gave everyone something to be excited about.

Michael Golden Wizard World Des Moines 2015

Star Trek fans barely had to wait in line to meet sci-fi icon William Shatner, who also spoke to a crowded house of fans Saturday afternoon.  If you like superheroes, you could meet the two most popular Green Arrow creators of all time: artist Neal Adams and writer/artist Mike Grell, Superman actors Brandon Routh (Superman Returns) and Dean Cain (The Adventures of Lois and Clark) (Routh also appears as The Atom on CW’s The Flash), DC Bombshells creator Ant Lucia, Rogue creator and long-time Marvel artist Michael Golden (above), and Mike Zeck, artist for Marvel Comics classics like the Marvel Superheroes Secret Wars series:

Mike Zeck Wizard World Des Moines 2015

The Walking Dead fans met series star Michael Cudlitz, and received an exclusive variant Issue #1 from the comic book series, drawn by Iowa artist Phil Hester.  And horror fans got to cross off their list one of the modern Big 3 of horror icons, Nightmare on Elm Street’s Freddy Krueger himself Robert Englund.  Fans of the cult film Boondock Saints met up with star Sean Patrick Flannery.

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Nerd HQ 2015 logo

The staff at borg.com have made it to several of the Nerd HQ celebrations in San Diego, including the first event back in 2011 where we met Zachary Levi and Scott Bakula.  We’ve been able to see panels since then with some of our favorites, like the Doctor Who panel featuring Matt Smith, Jenna-Louise Coleman, and Steven Moffat.  Nerd HQ takes place each year during San Diego Comic-Con International weekend.  Each year it has been hosted at a facility within close walking distance of the San Diego Convention Center, and this year it will open its doors directly across the street at the New Children’s Museum.  It marks the fifth year for the event.

Don’t confuse Comic-Con with Nerd HQ–Nerd HQ is not affiliated with Comic-Con.  The crew that runs the show–Chuck’s Zachary Levi and his friends–are a bit like party crashers, yet they offer an opportunity for those who missed out on tickets to the Big Show to still have a close-up experience with celebrities in the same town on the same weekend.  It’s convenient for everyone since the celebrities typically have engagements for Comic-Con, so they can just divert some time to Nerd HQ, where for $22 per person per panel Nerd HQ piles up a fair amount of cash for charity.

Flip through the “back-issues” of borg.com here to find several videos of past Nerd HQ panels.  Then check out this preview of this year’s panels with Zachary Levi:

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