Category: Con Culture


Every year industry group The Toy Foundation unveils its annual Toy of the Year Awards (see the 22nd annual award winners here) and this week it announced the finalists for the 23rd annual honors, this time representing the past two years in 17 categories, with the final awards coming in November.  Altogether that’s 122 toys vying for top honors, selected from more than 600 nominees by a panel of judges comprising play experts, journalists, academics, retailers, and other toy authorities, and now it’s up to the voters to determine the winners.  All are invited to visit ToyAwards.org to vote for their favorites in each category through September 2, 2022.

Links, links, and more links… check out the full slate of finalists:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

No doubt the most eagerly-awaited gaming event of the year is Spelljammer: Adventures in Space, and at last it arrives tomorrow.  An inexpensive three-book boxed set (including DM screen and two of the most beautiful of the 5th Edition’s pull-out maps) that feels like a standalone RPG, it allows Dungeon Masters and players to explore Wildspace and the Astral Sea.  Combining themes of nautical exploration with deep space–think fantasy mash-ups like characters from H.P. Lovecraft, Jules Verne, Alex Raymond, and Edgar Rice Burroughs–Spelljammer brings new characters and places to 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons, while allowing characters you already know into another world.

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It’s been a year since Kevin Costner returned to Dyersville, Iowa, to lead the ultimate movie event follow-up.  Last year the Chicago White Sox faced the New York Yankees in vintage uniforms to provide fans of Major League Baseball with the ultimate gift, a regular season game at the most beloved stadium in the country–the Field of Dreams, setting for the Phil Alden Robinson’s 1989 film classic (find out more about last year’s game here).  Last night the second major league game to take place in Iowa–and second annual Field of Dreams game–featured the Chicago Cubs and the Cincinnati Reds.  Spoilers ahead–in case you missed the game.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse is one of those Dungeons & Dragons supplements from Wizards of the Coast that you might have overlooked.  First released as part of the Dungeons & Dragons Rules Expansion Gift Set in late January, it was one of the victims of worldwide shipping delays, and only made it to a single volume release finally this summer.  Compiling and updating monsters that originally appeared in Volo’s Guide to Monsters and Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes–and replacing those books for most purposes, this book is a bestiary presenting friends and foes for any D&D campaign with some creatures you’ve seen before while also fully incorporating 33 races not provided in the Player’s Handbook, but introduced in previous adventure volumes.

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For 15 years and 327 episodes, CW’s Supernatural established itself as the longest continuously running genre series of the century.  It’s the kind of series, like The X-Files, anyone can drop in on without getting lost in some ongoing story arc.  It’s no wonder that no movie mega-star gets as enormous a crowd at San Diego Comic-Con as when stars Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki enter the building.  With that kind of start, and a retro spin like the successful series Stranger Things, its coming prequel The Winchesters has the potential of doing well, and the full trailer for the series looks like it may have what it takes to stick around awhile, with a great vintage vibe and Scooby Doo look.

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If it’s not your third favorite Star Wars movie, it’s probably your fourth.  It’s director Gareth Edwards’ Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the movie that re-ignited the possibilities for Star Wars after George Lucas sold it all to Disney, and laid the groundwork for the great series The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett.  We thought the May teaser looked fantastic for Andor, the prequel series to Rogue One coming to Disney+ next month, but the full trailer is even better with some great surprises, including the return of Forest Whitaker as Saw Gerrera.  And bigger news: The first season will have 12 episodes, with 12 more on the way.

Diego Luna returns as rebel hero Cassian Andor, joined by Genevieve O’Reilly in her third stint as Mon Mothma plus the MCU’s Stellan Skarsgård is a new Kenobi-like mentor named Luthen RaelAdria Arjona (Morbius, 6 Underground) is Kleya, Denise Gough (Colette) is Imperial officer Dedra, plus Kyle Soller (Fury, Poldark), The Batman’s Alex Ferns, and Harry Potter and True Blood’s Fiona Shaw co-star (and it looks like Outlaw King and Monarch of the Glen’s Alastair Mackenzie or his doppelganger as a Senator or Ambassador of some sort).

Andor is already confirmed for a second season.  The series will not have the benefit of Gareth Edwards’ input, but it does have contributions from Rogue One writer Tony Gilroy and franchise creature maker Neal Scanlan will be pulling in unused creatures and effects from the films along with new ones for the series.  Meet B2EMO:

Check out this epic trailer for Andor:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

If you’re looking to get your fix of Doctor Who, a new roleplaying game has just arrived that may be just the thing for you.  Whether you want to step into the shoes of a Time Lord yourself, become a member of an alien species (join your own Paternoster Gang!), travel anywhere to the past or future, journey into outer space, or accompany a Doctor as a Companion, the Doctor Who Doctors and Daleks Player’s Guide is a giant guide to a new RPG for three or more players.  Grab your friends and take your own time machine to explore the universe and history, help others solve problems, and share your fish fingers, just like in the six decades of the Doctor Who series.  And you’re not required to use existing Doctors and Companions–or alien races–you can make up your own.  Or play without a Doctor, like UNIT and Sarah Jane Smith in the show.  How about Captain Jack Harkness and Torchwood?  Pull them in, too.

Filled with photographs from the franchise’s six decades, Doctors and Daleks Player’s Guide is available now in PDF, with pre-orders now being taken by publisher Cubicle 7 Games for the hardcover and a Collector’s Edition.  Check out links to order below.

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Arguably no player of fictional roles did more to further science and the future than Nichelle Nichols.  The actress who played Star Trek crew member Uhura for 54 years in the original series, six movies, and fan films passed away today at age 89.  I first met her in San Francisco in the 1990s and later at other events, and she always was gracious, embraced fans, and was always laughing, smiling, and enjoying her time recounting her personal story.  She probably has the most familiar story of any science fiction actor, as she became an icon of television, science fiction, and science fact.

Her greatest story was recounting how she had decided to leave the Star Trek series until she had a conversation with Martin Luther King, Jr., who informed her just how important it was that a black woman was being seen by an entire nation on television.  She was an equal crew member serving in a prime-time network series, and would go on to help expand the boundaries of race relations, participating in the first on-screen inter-racial kiss, with co-star William Shatner’s Captain Kirk.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

TCM’s film reference library of books has looked at the best sci-fi and horror movies, dynamic actresses, Christmas movies, summer hits, noir and war movies, and famous stunts, and its books have argued for 100 movies as the best of them all.  Diehard rock ‘n’ roll aficionados are the targets of the next dive into a select segment of genredom at the movies.  Today TCM and Running Press are releasing TCM’s Rock on Film (available here at Amazon).  Written by former Rolling Stone magazine editor Fred Goodman, by design it aims to blend crowd pleasers and buried treasure, and is not intended to be definitive–so don’t get your hackles up when you find your favorites didn’t make the cut.  Featured aren’t just typical “movies”–this is the TCM library’s biggest foray into documentaries.  So along with Purple Rain, American Graffiti, This is Spinal Tap, The Buddy Holly Story, That Thing You Do!, Inside Llewyn Davis, 8 Mile, Straight Outta Compton, Quadrophenia, and Tommy, look for discussions of A Hard Day’s Night, Dont Look Back (blame the lack of apostrophe on the film creator), Woodstock, The TAMI Show, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, and Echo in the Canyon.  And interviews with Cameron Crowe, Jim Jarmusch, Penelope Spheeris, Taylor Hackford, and John Waters shed some light on how filmmakers were influenced by rock and rock movies.
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What’s a Campaign Case?  It’s a storage container that can be used to store books, tokens, and/or terrain pieces, and it’s something new that is beginning today from Wizards of the Coast for Dungeons & Dragons RPG campaigns.  The first Campaign Case kit, available today (order here at Amazon or check your local game shop) focuses on Creatures.

And coming next month (and available for pre-order here), is a second Campaign Case will feature Terrain components.  Check out more on each kit below.

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