Category: Con Culture


The Star Wars vintage Kenner action figures changed toys and franchising forever.  Sales of this line were so successful that it’s no surprise the fan nostalgia for these 3.75-inch figures in new packages is still as great as ever, 43 years after their first appearance in a pre-order campaign for Christmas 1977.  Disney knows what its fans want, and so they have assembled two takes on a new round of action figures for the Disney+ series The Mandalorian–one with modern molds and articulation in vintage packaging, and the other with retro, classic Kenner style molds and articulation, housed in classic, mock-distressed packaging–plus original-style vinyl capes!  IG-11, Moff Gideon, Cara Dune, Greef Karga, Kuiil, “Baby Yoda,” and Din Djarin, the man behind the mask.  You can pre-order them now at Entertainment Earth and Amazon.  Check them out:

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Currently housed in a Tudor-style mansion in Manhattan, The Explorers Club is a real place with a legacy of adventurers among its ranks.  Parodied in The Freshman, the club is a meeting place established in 1904 for the purposes of promoting scientific exploration around the planet, and it does host an annual dinner with unusual flair.  A table can cost you $100,000 and features food including tarantula and other exotic animals that would be a nightmare for animal rights advocates, not to mention the taxidermy displays (Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou was filmed there).  Honorary members include the likes of Theodore Roosevelt, John Glenn, Sir Edmund Hillary, Buzz Aldrin, and the club has bestowed its highest award to notables including Mary Leakey, Jane Goodall, Robert Ballard, and Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Not quite a secret society, the members have circumnavigated the world, flown, sailed, driven, and walked across each continent in search of the next discovery, returning back to the club to share the stories of their accomplishments.  In one of his last projects before his death in 2003, journalist and noted personality George Plimpton (himself a member) collected 51 first-hand accounts of these journeys from the club’s ranks and published them as As Told at the Explorers Club: More Than Fifty Gripping Tales of Adventure, available now in a new edition from Lyons Press.

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Founded in 1939 by Martin Goodman as Timely Comics, then re-branding as Atlas Comics, becoming a household name in 1961 thanks to the inspiration of creators Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko, hitting its low in bankruptcy, but rising like the Phoenix to become a movie franchise and Disney property in the 21st century, Marvel Comics has seen eight decades of change.  A new hardcover book aims to chronicle all that.  Marvel: The First 80 Years–The True Story of a Pop-Culture Phenomenon is coming your way next month.

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We often critique a series for its inability to get off the ground running.  Perhaps no television series excelled at that (both literally and figuratively) than the one and only original 1969-1970 animated series, Scooby Doo, Where Are You?  The entire series is airing this month on Boomerang.  The cultural impact of “those meddling kids,” the Scooby Gang, Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy, and their Great Dane Scooby Doo, cannot be overstated.  The pop song introduction, the 1960s van, the clothes, the cameraderie, mix with the first shake cam most of us ever noticed, cool colors, and a laugh track telling us we weren’t the only ones in on the fun.

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October is almost here!

Your annual list of scary, ghostly, spooky, creepy, slashery, and generally monstrous films is back.  The goal?  Not to miss your favorite Halloween movies in October, and maybe find some new favorites.  You’ll be able to find many staples of the holiday season.  Need even more recommendations?  Check our borg lists of past recommendations here–Halloween doesn’t arrive each year until we’ve watched The Watcher in the Woods and Silver Bullet.  Below we’ve provided hundreds of movies scheduled to air–hundreds to choose from with a mix of classics and modern fare.  Syfy′s “31 Days of Halloween” is back, along with Freeform′s “31 Nights of Halloween.”  AMC has its “Fear Fest” again, and as with last year you can get caught up on The Walking Dead airing throughout the entire month (you’ll have to check the AMC website for the last few days of the month, as the network doesn’t release its listings this far in advance).  Best of all, TCM hosts a day of monster movies on October 12 and 23, plus movies all month featuring Peter Cushing.  You’ll find this year all the usual suspects: Stephen King, Wes Craven, John Carpenter, Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, and Freddy Kruger.  Disney channel will be releasing its listings for Monstober later in the month so you may want to check the Disney website for updates.

New for this year–check out the new remake of Hitchcock’s Rebecca, The Haunting of Bly Manor, Ratched, the brilliant zombie series Kingdom, the monster-filled October Faction, The Babysitter, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and Enola Holmes on Netflix, The Vast of Night on Amazon, the horrors of love on Soulmates on AMC, Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island on Starz and Vudu, or 2019’s Ready or Not on Vudu.  If you missed 2018’s Halloween movie with Jamie Lee Curtis, or Get Out, find them streaming on Vudu and other services–it’s not to be missed (and you can catch all the past entries in the series on AMC).  Also, if you missed Netflix’s latest seasons of Stranger Things or Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, now’s a great time to catch up.  (Note: AMC and Syfy’s listings don’t always mention which versions of the movies are being aired (original or remake?), so your guess is as good as ours).

All month long on streaming services and premium channels like Netflix and Starz you can watch horror movies including The Sixth Sense, The Lost Boys, The Boy, Cloverfield, Coraline, Children of the Corn, Cult of Chucky, Van Helsing, John Carpenter’s The Thing, They Live, and Ghosts of Mars, Young Frankenstein, Aliens vs Predator: Requiem, Underworld: Blood Wars, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, Zombieland, Life, Scream, Amityville: The Awakening, Sleepy Hollow, Hollow Man, The Craft, and many more, plus series like The Twilight Zone, Ash vs. Evil Dead, Requiem, Bates Motel, and The Frankenstein Chronicles.  Everything you see in AMC’s listings are offered via their on-demand services, so watch those whenever you’d like.  If all else fails, you can find your favorite ghost story or other horror classic on Vudu and Amazon Prime, where you can buy or rent recommendations like The Fog (both versions), The Birds, The Shining, Orphan, Let Me In, The Others, The Woman in Black, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, The Ring, Grimm, and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (all these are highly recommended, and you can catch many of these airing this month, too).

So take notes and put your watch list into your DVR now so you don’t miss anything, especially useful for many of the marathons, which often play in reverse order (?!).  We’ve bolded some of our recommendations.  All times listed are Central Time:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Franklin, Scott, Shackleton, Dyre, Hillary, MacReady, Torrance, Norgay.  Name your favorite stone-cold adventurer from real life or fiction and ready yourself for what may be the deepest, most detailed world building in your Dungeons & Dragons gaming yet.  Ed Greenwood and R.A. Salvatore’s Icewind Dale will take on new meaning for you as a place of excitement and troubled outcasts, nonstop pitfalls, and numbing despair–if you’re not careful.  In Wizards of the Coast’s latest adventure, Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden, players will journey across lands doomed to darkness by a frostmaiden of many faces, known to embody all of winter’s cruelties.  Your most bone chilling nightmares lie ahead, and survival is only the beginning.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Video game dabblers and players turn into game company entrepreneurs in Netflix’s latest retro fix, High Score, a documentary in the vein of shows like VH1’s Behind the Music and The Toys That Made Us.  Pioneer designers and creators like Space Invaders creator Tomohiro Nishikado, Nintendo’s Hirokazu Tanaka, and Atari’s Nolan Bushnell piece together a brief history of video games with an emphasis on home play in this new six-episode, limited series now streaming on Netflix.  The series goes through the development and rise of games moving from upright consoles to the television set, with Mystery House, Space Invaders, Star Fox, Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Mario Bros., Sonic the Hedgehog, Madden Football, Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat, and Doom rising to the top as the touchstones of this modern corner of history.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Our next recommendation for anyone looking for a great weekend project is the Orpheus Music Box Robot Kit from Robotime, a wooden 3D puzzle music box craft kit that results in a steampunk desk-shelf cheerleader to lead you on as you plunk away on your keyboard.  You can build it in anywhere from 4-8 hours, but it has precision parts and you probably want to take your time and spread the build out over a few days.  The kit includes everything you need to build it, including six sheets of 221 laser-cut pieces, sandpaper, screws, screwdriver, plastic dome, a bag of dowels of various sizes, light and light switch, classic music box mechanics, and white glue.

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We’ve seen some good variants on classic board games introduced over the years by Hasbro and USAopoly, especially in their Trivial Pursuit line.  We’ve still enjoying last year’s Stranger Things Back to the 80s Trivial Pursuit, full of great trivia and a unique board that fits the theme of the Netflix television series.  For the toymakers’ next tie-in, they are going dark.  Ready for your Halloween party-at-home, the Horror Ultimate Edition Trivial Pursuit Game expands on an earlier 600-question card deck add-on (the Trivial Pursuit: Horror Movies Edition) with a creepy playing board, even creepier playing pieces, and 1,800 gore-filled and disturbing trivia question cards.  And lots of blood spatter everywhere.

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From Wizards of the Coast, Dungeons & Dragons is issuing a new set of rules options and subclasses for the “world’s greatest roleplaying game.”  Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything will be available on November 17, 2020, with a cover by Magali Villeneuve and an alt-cover by Wylie Beckert only available through local game stores. Pre-orders are available now here at Amazon (note: it’s not searchable by the title name yet, but can be found at this link).  Fans will get a chance to preview some of the new subclasses and more at D&D Celebration, an online gaming event open to fans all over the world, taking place September 18-20.

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