Category: Con Culture


Looking for something to do at home?  Check out the Insight Editions Incredibuilds series of 3D wooden model kits.

As a follow-on to its Harry Potter crest, Hogwarts Express, Golden Snitch, and Time Turner, Firefly Serenity spaceship, Star Wars Death Star, Millennium Falcon, Star Destroyer, AT-AT, X-Wing Fighter, and TIE Fighter, Marvel’s Iron Man and Infinity Gauntlet, DC’s Flash helmet and Batmobile, Ghostbusters Ectomobile, Assassin’s Creed hidden blade, Disney Beauty and the Beast characters, and even Santa Claus, a monuments collection, and animal kingdom wooden model kits, Insight Editions has released its three latest 3D models, and they feature iconic ships from the Star Trek franchise.  Just released as part of its Incredibuilds line, you can choose from the original Federation starship U.S.S. Enterprise, the U.S.S. Enterprise-D from Star Trek: The Next Generation, or a Klingon Bird of Prey.  Or grab them all.

Recommended for ages 10 and up, each kit comes with a full-color 32-page softcover booklet discussing the specs of each vessel, the history, appearances, and notable Star Trek characters that have served on each ship, dozens of photographs from the TV series and movies, and a section discussing behind-the scenes materials.  Each is written by Dayton Ward, Star Trek novelist, all in the style of the fan-favorite technical sheets that once appeared in Star Trek magazines over the years.

 

Like all model kits, adult supervision is a good idea, and the need for patience to avoid breaking any parts–the nature of wood makes these easier to build than the more difficult to assemble and more breakable Metal Earth kit counterparts.  And these are a bit sturdier than the classic balsa wood kits you may be familiar with.  An easy to follow, fold-out instruction sheet is included for each ship, and a single sheet of laser-cut, FSC-certified wood with easy-to-assemble, punch-out pieces.

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Die Hard board game

Looking for your next game to keep you family occupied this spring?  Gamemaker Usaopoly has a recently released board game for fans of Bruce Willis’s John McClane and the Die Hard franchise.  It’s the Die Hard: The Nakatomi Heist Board Game.  While you’re sheltering at home (you’re doing that, right?) you can order the game from two good sources we found: Amazon here and Entertainment Earth here.  Bookmark this link to Entertainment Earth for future reference, because as Amazon reprioritizes shipments, it may be the quickest shipping method for the coming months for all your game and toy purchases.

The Die Hard: The Nakatomi Heist Board Game is a one-versus-one, two, or three players game of stealth, combat, and action-tactics, following the story of the original Die Hard film.  The game has several components and plays out with cards and tokens in a sequence of three acts.  One player is John McClane and the rest play thieves, moving through Nakatomi Plaza, while the thieves try to stop him and break into the vault.  Thieves proceed to break six locks to get to the seventh level, when the FBI breaks in.  McClane must complete objectives to get to each new level.

Die Hard cards   Die Hard tokens

Players have shoot and punch attack actions, and McClane sneaks around the board–yep, walking through glass.  Thieves get “line of sight” to draw blood (not “first” blood, that’s a different movie).  Thieves get reinforcements, and McClane can get radio support.  The game ends when McClane dies, the thieves break into the vault, or McClane kills Hans Gruber.

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PatrickPicard

Patrick Stewart is back again to save the day, and he’s doing it in two ways.  As Sir Patrick Stewart, he has begun reading sonnets and sharing his readings online.  And as one of our favorite Captains, Jean-Luc Picard, he’s sharing news of the ability for anyone to stream the first season of his new series Star Trek: Picard on the CBS All Access streaming service–free.

As most know, the master thespian was an actor in the Royal Shakespeare Company before appearing in Star Trek: The Next Generation and as Charles Xavier in the Marvel X-Men franchise films, including one of his landmark performances in James Mangold’s 2017 Oscar-nominated film, Logan.  On his social media (see his Instagram page here) Sir Pat has begun reciting a sonnet a day, in the hopes that “a sonnet a day keeps the doctor away.”  He has so far read Shakespeare sonnets 116, 1, and 2.

Patrick Stewart

And Tuesday he announced more good news for his Star Trek fans: “Our #StarTrekPicard season finale is Thursday, and starting today until 4/23, you can watch for free on @CBSAllAccess in the US with the code: GIFT.”  All you need to do is sign up for the streaming service and use the code GIFT.  Check out the CBS All Access website for full details.

Star Trek: Picard takes place twenty years after the events in the movie Star Trek: Nemesis, which resulted in the death of Brent Spiner’s character Data, and also after the events of Star Trek (2009), which resulted in the destruction of the planet Romulus.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Timing of the debut of a horror genre series on Friday the 13th isn’t that much of a clever stretch, unless your series is about a plague and it’s launched on this particular Friday the 13th.  It’s a shame that with most people staying home there won’t be a water cooler to circle around to discuss Netflix’s latest and greatest release.  That’s the second season of Kingdom, the fantastic, epic tale of villagers in medieval 16th century South Korea dealing with a deadly plague.  Check out my review of the first season here at borg.  I am a bit envious of those who get to watch the first and second season together, because there are subtle hints in the first season that will have a greater impact if you remember them as the many twists and surprises are unveiled.  “Ripped from the headlines,” about a zombie series?  Who would have thought that was possible?

And yet it is.  The first strange irony is that the production was South Korea’s first international release via Netflix, with its topic mirroring people from differering statuses coping with a sweeping virus, government incompetence and mismanagement, and the disparate treatment of economic classes.  Unprepared for what lies ahead, a king is infected with a plague that renders him uncapable of leading.  A group of thug-like mobsters takes the opportunity to position their candidate to take the throne–only he is not ready to lead.  In fact, he doesn’t even exist–yet.  The actual person best able to lead–the rightful heir to the throne, a prince played in classic Shakespearean stateliness by Ju Ji-hoon–has been pushed aside and exiled.  He soon learns his people are threatened by a novel virus–a virus that restores the dead, but not as their former selves.  That was in the first season.  In the new season we learn that the truth behind the virus is even stranger than we could have expected.  As a physician (played by the excellent Doona Bae) struggles to find a cure, the heir to the kingdom attempts to save his people and return to seize the throne from the young, ruthless queen (played by Kim Hye-jun), who is at least partly to blame for his plight.

Kingdom pic 1

The result is a second season that matches the success of the first–the best zombie show you’ve ever seen, while also seizing the opportunity to bring a certain gravity along by steeping the story in a historical context.  And now that many have lived a few days with the threat of a deadly virus at bay, you may find the series takes on its own different, unexpected, heavy level of drama.  You might agree the nature of the threat in the series makes for the least “fantasy” version of a zombie story you’ve yet seen on film or television.  Kingdom is as much science fiction as fantasy, but it’s like that science fiction you’ve seen from Stan Lee superhero creations, and all his character origin stories resulting from misapplied science.  You’ll also find plenty of heroes and villains.

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In a matter of two days, parts of the entertainment industry have been significantly carved back in their ability to reach audiences because of the rapid movement of coronavirus/COVID-19 and new guidelines from the Center for Disease Control recommending social distancing to stave off further spread of the disease.  While publishing, whether books or comics (hard copies, ebooks, other digital, or online), music (except live events), and TV and movies at home (it’s still debatable whether theaters are safe spaces or not) become safe alternatives to turn to, live sporting events are out, as are most pop culture events like comic book conventions and Renaissance faires–at least for the immediate future.  So this will be a time where creativity must lead the way.  “Necessity is the mother of invention.”  Creators will need to come up with new ways to reach consumers, and the better that businesses–large or small–are able to solve novel problems and innovate quickly, the better they will be able to get through the next few (or several) months.  We’ve seen two new great ideas that arrived right away worth checking out.

The first is Faire Relief 2020, a Facebook group that turned from nothing to nearly 3,000 members within its first day yesterday.  You can find the group at this link (there are no requirements to join).  From the group’s page: “Due to the COVID-19 outbreak a lot of events have had to be cancelled.  For those who make their living doing Renaissance Faires and Festivals this can be a devastating blow.  This group is to help aid those Merchants, Artists, Performers and the like by allowing them to put their Wares up for sale or sharing their contact information and Facebook pages so that people may purchase from them.”  You’ll find anything and everything there, from custom wood designs, jewelry, candles and incense, food and drink, and leatherwork, to custom cosplay like chainmail and other clothing (historical and modern fashions), pottery, and even gifts and collectables like wax seals, sculpted dragons and dragon egg statues.

Wood, Willow, and Whatknots–one of the Renaissance faire small businesses–offering jewelry, oils, fragrances, and wood burning. Find them at http://www.woodwillow.com.

At the same time, Wizard Entertainment, the company behind many nationwide comic conventions, distributed a press briefing previewing its new Wizard World Virtual Experiences, an attempt to bring pop culture conventions online.  For more than 20 years Wizard has produced “Wizard World” events where attendees meet celebrities, participate in Q&A panels, collect autographs and chat with their favorite celebrities, writers, and artists in gatherings at convention centers across North America.  Now Wizard wants to bring that experience to fans at home.

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Assassins Creed cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

Gigantic and worthy of the expansive universe it chronicles, Assassin’s Creed: The Essential Guide is one of the better visual histories in the fantasy and science fiction genres.  Titan Books has released a full-color expanded hardcover edition, updating a 2016 edition with plenty of new content, including new sections and the incorporation of recent storylines.  In a word, it’s a comprehensive look at Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed for past gamers and new gamers, and readers of its many tie-in stories, or anyone wanting to know what the game, and tie-in film, novels, and comic books, are all about.

The fun of the Assassin’s Creed universe is the merger of history and adventure in a way that incorporates both fantasy and science fiction.  The science fiction is from the time travel that isn’t.  That is, from the vantage point of a seemingly unlimited selection of starting points across history, characters can look back to the past to gain knowledge and answers to essential questions along their hero’s journey, much like in Doctor Who.  A catalog of important objects, showcased in the book via artwork in the style of the game and comics, is a treasure trove of fantasy, roleplay devices that propel players and readers through the labyrinthine stories.

Assassins Creed b

Assassin’s Creed: The Essential Guide explains the history behind the two key factions–the Creed and the Templars–and the conflict between them.  It includes timelines of events, and takes a step back to the fantasy world of the distant past that grew into modern civilization, all presented as in-universe, as if the reader lives in this secret realm behind our own.  Readers learn of objects like the Animus device, the Apples and Staves of Eden, and other important ancient artifacts and totems unearthed in the games and tie-ins.  Diehard gamers will meet again the key characters–and subordinate characters–from the video game who have presented the journey so far, and readers of the books and novels will find their familiar heroes and denizens here as well.

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PCKC 2020 comics

***Update***

The mayor of Kansas City has ordered the delay of all events with greater than 1,000 people in the city for 21 days, due to the city’s declaration of emergency for coronavirus/COVID-19.  Planet Comicon Kansas City will therefore be postponed, according to the event website until late summer or fall 2020.  See PlanetComicon.com for further updates and details.  Note: Since many creators were relying on this event for their income, please consider reviewing the guest list and purchasing their comics, books, and creations through their other channels (we’re all going to be home for a while, so it’s a perfect time to catch up on reading, right?).  In light of the cancellation, instead of the sneak peek at her new novel Premeditated Myrtle and cover reveal for her second novel in the Myrtle Hardcastle Mysteries series (the cover created by award-winning artist Brett Helquist) planned for Planet Comicon weekend, our own borg.com writer and author Elizabeth C. Bunce will be revealing the cover for the second book–How to Get Away with Myrtle, here at borg–look for it here coming soon!

Original post:

In only one week the pop culture convention Planet Comicon Kansas City is scheduled to return, this time to celebrate its 21st year.  The event is expected to host a pantheon of nationally recognized writers and artists for its eighth year in its downtown Kansas City, Missouri, venue at the Kansas City Convention Center.  The show runs Friday, March 20 through Sunday, March 22.  This is of course now subject to any cancellations, individually or as a whole, arising from corona virus/COVID-19 outbreak concerns.  Some of the biggest names and most popular comics creators are in the line-up for the 2020 event, probably the best-known being Roy Thomas, the comic book writer and editor who was Stan Lee’s first successor as editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics.  Characters he created or co-created include Wolverine, Ghost Rider, Vision, Carol Danvers, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Red Sonja, Ultron, Man-Thing, Red Guardian, and Valkyrie, the majority of which have become so famous they’ve made it to recent big or small screen adaptations.  Famous for his work on X-Men and Avengers, Thomas is also known for his work on classic titles All-Star Squadron and Justice Society of America.

Several other comic book creators scheduled to attend the event for the first time include Bill Amend, Garth Ennis, Adam Hughes, Stanley “Artgerm” Lau, Ed McGuinness, Afua Richardson, and Peter Stiegerwald, plus many others.  Returning PCKC regulars slated to appear include Freddie Williams IIJason Aaron, Phil Hester, Ande Parks, Ant Lucia, Skottie Young, Megan Levens, Seth Peck, Rob DavisJason Arnett, Bryan Fyffe, Bryan Timmins, and Darren Neely.  In addition to comics creators, fan-favorite novelists scheduled for the show include borg.com writer and author Elizabeth C. Bunce, who hopes to debut the cover for the second book in her new Myrtle Hardcastle Mysteries series at her booth over the weekend.  Other authors scheduled to attend include convention regulars Kevin Dilmore and Dayton Ward, plus Kevin J. Anderson, Jim Butcher, and Timothy Zahn–and many more.

PCKC 2020 authors

Back again, the Elite Comics flight crew is planning its “Party on the Pillar” hoping for attendees to pick up some great deals on what the Con is all about–comics.

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The Ninth Doctor, Darth Vader, Superman, James Bond’s Q, Lt. Cmdr. Data, Ahsoka Tano, Ariel-The Little Mermaid, a Mythbuster, a slate of characters from the CW Arrowverse, Stranger Things, and The Karate Kid, and more are heading to Kansas City

For twenty-one years Planet Comicon Kansas City has been one of the Midwest’s biggest comic book and pop culture conventions and that was no less so in 2014 when it became the largest attended event in the history of the Kansas City Convention Center.  And it’s only gotten bigger.  Last year’s show featured guests including Henry Winkler, William Shatner, John Wesley Shipp, Cary Elwes, and Joonas Suotamo, and this year more of the most memorable names from TV and movies from the past and present are slated to attend.  Leading things off, The Doctor is In–The Ninth Doctor to be exact–Christopher Eccleston, star of Doctor Who who also played villains in Thor: The Dark World and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, will make his first appearance at the annual event, which takes place at Kansas City’s convention center at Bartle Hall, March 20-22, 2020.

Fan-favorite nerd, cosplayer, builder, and either your first or second favorite Mythbuster, Adam Savage will be making his first appearance at the show.  Making their second appearances at the event are star of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (and Guardians of the Galaxy and Harry Potter universe actor) Darth Vader actor Spencer Wilding and Star Trek legend–Data himself (and Dr. Soong, Lore, and B9)–beloved actor Brent Spiner.  After several appearances of past Superman actors, Midwest native Brandon Routh is finally coming to PCKC.  He’ll be joined by other CW Arrowverse actors, Rachel Skarsten (in her second Kansas City convention appearance), plus Katie Cassidy, Kevin Conroy, Jes Macallen, Courtney Ford, and Caity Lotz.

Two Yutes?  My Cousin Vinny, The Outsiders, and Crossroads star Ralph Macchio is making his first appearance at PCKC.  Joining him are his co-stars from The Karate Kid and Cobra Kai, Martin Kove and William ZabkaStranger Things fans can meet stars Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, and Gabriella Pizzolo.  To top it all off, formerly James Bond’s Q and Monty Python comedy legend, John Cleese is making his first convention appearance in Kansas City.  And perennial Planet Comicon Kansas City guest, the original Hulk, Lou Ferrigno will be back in town for the event.

–there’s something for every TV and movie fanboy and fangirl at this year’s show.

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Bond IMAX

Concerns about the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) have finally had an impact on movie theaters.  As companies like Twitter and Facebook are pulling out of Austin’s South by Southwest annual festival, and major guests and vendors have canceled their attendance at Seattle’s annual Emerald City Comic Con (including DC Comics and Dark Horse Comics), the first major motion picture is getting bumped amid concerns of a predicted decline in movie theater attendance.  NBC reports that delaying the release of the eagerly awaited film No Time to Die–said to be the last Daniel Craig stint as James Bond–was due to studio concerns about the virus.  Internationally, China, France, Switzerland, Italy, South Korea, and other countries have seen event closings and delays in recent weeks, with the film market already taking a hit in China, South Korea, and Italy.

On Wednesday, the official James Bond 007 social media account posted the following:

MGM, Universal and Bond producers, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, announced today that after careful consideration and thorough evaluation of the global theatrical marketplace, the release of NO TIME TO DIE will be postponed until November 2020.

So the 25th official Bond film that was almost here moves from next month to Thanksgiving weekend.  Until then, audiences will have to wait for their next Bond fix–Maybe dream about getting your own Aston Martin as part of an offer in conjunction with the film’s release (below), or a sweater like Daniel Craig wears in the new film.

NTTD pic

Check out these features, tie-ins, and trailers for No Time to Die below, including director Cary Joji Fukunaga discussing the film:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

This week the Wizards of the Coast roleplaying game team introduces a third way to enter its family friendly world of Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying fun in a card game format with Dungeon Mayhem: Monster Madness Along with the barbarian Sutha the Skullcrusher, the wizard Azzan the Mystic, the paladin Lia the Radiant, and the rogue Oriax the Clever from 2018’s Dungeon Mayhem base card game, and ranger Minsc with his miniature-giant space hamster, Boo, and the shapeshifting druid Jaheira from the Battle for Baldur’s Gate expansion pack, players now have six new monsters to add to the mix, and a stylized deluxe box that allows for all 12 character card decks to be housed in one place and played as a single game for up to six players.

In Dungeon Mayhem: Monster Madness, you play as one of six D&D monsters, each with their own way to charm, crush, disintegrate, and devour their foes.  They include the beholder Delilah Deathray, the mind flayer Dr. Tentaculous, Blorp the gelatinous cube, the killer lounge chair mimic Mimi Lechaise, the red dragon Lord Cinderpuff, and the owlbear Hoots McGoots.  Select a character from the core deck and one from the six monsters or combine decks from any past edition you have–each player chooses a character and corresponding deck of cards and all prepare for mayhem.

If you enjoyed the previously released six characters, you’re going to love mixing them up with the new six.  Their personalities are smartly coordinated with their individual powers, and players will soon find their own favorites.  Kids of all ages will love attacks like crushing hugs from an owlbear, or defending an attack from a rogue using “all the daggers.”  Whether prompted by an evil sneer from a wizard or an eviler sneer from a dragon, everyone will have fun with the now complete set of Dungeon Mayhem characters.

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