Category: Con Culture


Review by C.J. Bunce

When you think of your favorite Christmas movies, you probably think of Miracle on 34th Street, Elf, It’s a Wonderful Life, A Charlie Brown Christmas, or even Die Hard.  But maybe you don’t.  What about movies that aren’t big-budget blockbusters, that never made it to the big screen and in fact weren’t intended for a theater release?  I’ll Be Home for Christmas Movies is a look at a subset of holiday films that might be thought of as the unsung heroes of Christmas: Hallmark Channel Christmas movies.  The genre has a niche fandom, a fandom whose creations are about lost romance, conjuring a magical spirit, featuring locales of finely decked halls, strings of lights, and rafters of evergreen–and lots of happy people, at least by the end.  They also feature some favorite actors from other genres.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

When I was a kid in school, periodically we were given book orders, full of discount versions of books, but also posters and popular magazines like Dynamite, and lots of tie-ins with the latest news on current movies and TV shows.  Anything Star Wars was quickly added to our book order form, and that’s what Titan’s latest tie-in reminds me of most.  Star Wars Insider: The Galaxy’s Greatest Heroes looks at 16 of the biggest heroes of the franchise from the creators and actors behind them.  But after nearly 45 years, the book allows a greater opportunity for even more people behind the scenes to offer their commentary on fan-favorite characters, with something for every Star Wars fan.

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A galaxy of ships is getting even bigger.  Hero Collector’s famous collection of model ships of the Star Trek line continues with the launch of three new ships from Star Trek: Discovery.  The U.S.S. Discovery-A (Refit), Section 31 Deimos-Class and Cleveland Booker’s ship will ready fans for the show’s fourth season now getting underway.  These ships continue to fill in the giant Star Trek: Universe collection, which most recently showcased starships from Season 1 of Star Trek: Picard. 

Take a look at some high-quality images of these new releases below, now available for preorder here direct from Hero Collector and available soon here at Amazon:

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It’s the ultimate subscription box… or cube.  Only it’s a one-shot purchase that will give Star Trek fans something to look forward to for 24 days.  And it may just give your postal carrier a hernia.  It’s a hefty, giant reproduction of The Borg Cube in the first ever Star Trek Collector’s Advent Calendar, new this year from Hero Collector.  Collectors of Star Trek character pins will especially want to ask Santa for this prize, but it features enough variety that there is sure to be something to share with a house full of Trek fans.  It’s a box that reminds us of the old Firefly subscription crates–with similar variety and quality–a few big items and several smaller items.

The big wins include a first warp flight-inspired espresso mug for your raktajino, original series-era bridge screen-inspired coasters, and some NextGen socks, but that’s all we’re saying (OK, just a bit more below).  Act fast to get it soon: Pre-order here direct from Hero Collector, offered at a discount from SRP as of today’s date.  We didn’t find this available anywhere else.

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We’ve seen some good variants on classic board games introduced over the years by USAopoly, and this next merger will appeal to fans of Dungeons & Dragons’ recent years of comic book stories.  Clue: Dungeons & Dragons is a licensed update to the 2001 edition of the game with new characters, playing pieces, and gameboard.  It’s the game of Clue with a Dungeons & Dragons theme, a good way to pull in younger players who aren’t yet ready for roleplaying games, but want to join in with stories of fun fantasy adventurers like Minsc and Boo.

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Next year Firefly is getting a reboot–a jump start–as its current monthly series from BOOM! Studios winds down.  The series will be titled All-New Firefly, and it catches up with the crew of the Serenity following the events of the movie Serenity.  Kaylee Frye is now Captain Frye, stepping into Mal Reynolds’ shoes, taking on the same kinds of jobs fans of the TV series will be familiar with.

The series will be written by David M. Booher with artwork by Jordi Pérez.  Primary cover art will be by Mona Finden, with variant covers from Dan Mora, Ethan Young, Dani Strips, and Junggeun Yoon.

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Milla Jovovich’s badass superheroine Alice in the Resident Evil franchise, from 2002’s first film through five sequels–Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004), Resident Evil: Extinction (2007), Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010), Resident Evil: Retribution (2012), and Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016)–has given us the 21st century version of Ellen Ripley and Sarah Conner.  And speaking of Connor, the trailers for the next chapter of Resident Evil, a prequel called Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City, looks a lot like Terminator 3–plus lots of zombies.

Check out the first trailer and a profile on Hannah John-Kamen’s character Jill Valentine, below:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

As much as any movie has been able to keep its secrets in the past few years, it’s hard to beat the surprises in the epic fantasy film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, the first film of Phase IV of the Marvel Cinematic Universe without an Avengers headliner.  And when I say fantasy, I mean it–it’s got it all, a combination of the magical realm of Doctor Strange, the ancient, secret country hidden from the rest of the world like Black Panther, a mix of Asian lore, Shakespearean family squabbles (including a famous, Oscar-winning Shakespearean actor), and a plot–and dragons–right out of The Lord of the Rings (after all, Ten Rings are better than One Ring, right?).  It has action, it has ties to the old and new, and, thanks to co-star Awkwafina, it’s the laugh-out-loud funniest of all the Marvel movies.  And it’s finally arrived on Disney+ so mass audiences still staying away from movie theaters finally have a chance to see what they missed.

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Early this year The Strong’s National Museum of Play announced twelve finalists for induction into the 2021 National Toy Hall of Fame.  The contenders included nominees from previous years, including American Girl dolls, the Battleship board game, billiards (including pool), Cabbage Patch Kids dolls, the Fisher-Price Corn Popper, mahjong, Masters of the Universe action figures, piñatas, the Risk board game, sand, The Settlers of Catan board game, and toy fire engines.

Only three would take their honored places in the Hall this year when they were announced at a ceremony this week at The Strong in Rochester, New York.  The National Toy Hall of Fame recognizes toys “that have engaged and delighted multiple generations, inspiring them to learn, create, and discover through play.”  Criteria for induction include: Icon-status (the toy is widely recognized, respected, and remembered); Longevity (the toy is more than a passing fad and has enjoyed popularity over multiple generations); Discovery (the toy fosters learning, creativity, or discovery through play); and Innovation (the toy profoundly changed play or toy design).  A toy may be inducted on the basis of innovation without necessarily having met all of the first three.  So what made this year’s cut?  American Girl Dolls, the Risk board game, and sand–yep, look out Anakin Skywalker, your least favorite thing is one of the favored playthings of this world.

The Hall of Fame, which began in 1998, is celebrating its 23rd year.  Reviewing the 75 previous inductees should provide you with an incredible flashback of nostalgia: alphabet blocks, the Atari 2600 Game System, baby doll, Baby Nancy doll, ball, Barbie, bicycle, Big Wheel, blanket, bubbles, Candy Land, cardboard box, chalk, checkers, chess, Clue, coloring book, Crayola Crayons, dollhouse, dominoes, Duncan Yo-Yo, Dungeons & Dragons, Easy-Bake Oven, Erector Set, Etch A Sketch, Fisher-Price Little People, Frisbee, G.I. Joe, The Game of Life, Hot Wheels, Hula Hoop, jack-in-the-box, jacks, Jenga, jigsaw puzzle, jump rope, kite, LEGO, Lincoln Logs, Lionel Trains, little green army men, Magic 8 Ball, Magic: The Gathering, marbles, Matchbox car, Monopoly, Mr. Potato Head, Nintendo Game Boy, paper airplane, pinball, Play-Doh, playing cards, puppet, Radio Flyer Wagon, Raggedy Ann and Andy, rocking horse, roller skates, rubber duck, Rubik’s Cube, Scrabble, Silly Putty, skateboard, Slinky, Star Wars action figures, stick, Super Soaker, swing, teddy bear, Tinkertoy, Tonka Trucks, Twister, View-Master, Uno, and Wiffle Ball.

Which of these 12 toys would make your list for 2021?

The beauty of all these toys?  We did some of our own research and about 95% of them are still available for today’s generation of kids.  Just click the toy name above and you’ll find most available at Amazon right now.  Want to spoil your kid and get them one of each of the 78 toys in the Hall (or donate a set to your local community center)?  It’ll cost you about $1,840.

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First previewed here at borg back in March 2019, the first comic book story from the universe of television’s The Orville read in every way like a script that didn’t get produced–an episode that fits nicely into the timeline of the show but didn’t get filmed.  As fans await the third season of the series, The Orville: New Horizons, coming to Hulu March 10, 2022, Dark Horse Comics is publishing a two-issue story this fall, The Orville: Artifacts Written by executive producer David A. Goodman with artwork by David Cabeza and colors by Michael Atiyeh, The Orville: Artifacts keeps the series alive with its unique brand of humor and science fiction design style.  Readers will find Ed, Kelly, Gordon, and the rest of the crew looking just like the actors that play them, as they ready themselves for The Orville’s next TV mission.  Take a look inside the first issue below. 

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