Advertisements

Category: Con Culture


Netflix is now carrying a new documentary television series that delves into the creators behind some of our favorite toys from the recent, and not so recent past.  The Toys That Made Us features four episodes in its first season of streaming, each focused on a toy line that should bring in a good cross-section of fandom.  The choices for the first shows include Kenner’s vintage Star Wars action figures and playsets, Hasbro’s G.I. Joe, with an emphasis on the 3 3/4″ line of action figures, Mattel’s Barbie, and the Mattel’s Masters of the Universe No doubt Barbie and G.I. Joe should pull in the older crowd, while the latter half of G.I. Joe and Star Wars will pull in the kids of the 1970s and early 1980s, and Masters of the Universe the kids of the 1980s.

Not a show for kids and not another show about toy collectors, the series devotes plenty of each hour to interviews with designers, marketing, other businessmen discussing the nuts and bolts of negotiating deals, like the lawyer for Kenner discussing the greatest toy deal negotiation ever, and the later not-so-great negotiation because of a loose-lipped CEO.  The Barbie episode features a Barbie expert continually bashing the character as a “hooker” as if she has some sort of love-hate relationship with the doll.  But the politics of toymaking is interesting fodder for the right audience.  Should it be a surprise that toymakers have the same ugly corporate politics, the downsizing, the layoffs, and the takeovers, like every other company?  Prepare yourself for several CEOs and designers as they tiptoe, or not, around decisions and employers they wrestled with in the past as toys and brands came and went.  The creators look back both with nostalgia and anger at the former toy companies that eventually terminated their employment.  So look for an unusual take on these toys and these companies.

The next four episodes will be launched on Netflix later this year, and include Hello Kitty, Transformers, Star Trek, and LEGO.  Sometimes what the show chooses to tell is as interesting as how the show tells it.  The eight toy lines chosen no doubt came from the producer’s own focus groups, like the ideas behind some of the toys they discuss.  If The Toys That Made Us really is a one-time thing, someone else should come along and continue the idea with all the other major brands and influences.

We want to see an episode on Marx toys, including little toy soldiers and the 12-inch action figure series.  We also want to see a history of the broad Mego line of figures, Hot Wheels, Stretch Armstrong, and Big Jim.  How about companies like Fisher Price, Playskool, Playmobil, and Radio Flyer?  A series like this needs to cover more “recent” but still classic toy lines, too, like My Little Pony, Cabbage Patch Kids, Strawberry Shortcake, and figure out a way to capture famous classic toys like Spirograph, Tinker Toys, Play-Doh, Etch-A-Sketch, Erector Sets, Lincoln Logs, and the ultimate multi-license toy, Viewmaster.  How about a tour of the Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers factories of the past?  Who put out more great board games than these companies?  It’s easy to imagine entire episodes on the history of games like Clue/Cluedo and Monopoly.  And how about featuring a current game company that’s been around for decades, like Wizards of the Coast?

Continue reading

Advertisements

It’s been one long year of great entertainment.  Before we wrap our coverage of 2017, it’s time for the fifth annual round of new honorees for the borg Hall of Fame.  We have plenty of honorees from 2017 films, plus many from past years, and a peek at some from the future.  You can always check out the updated borg Hall of Fame on our home page under “Know your borg.”

In anticipation of the 2017 film Logan, last year we added Old Man Logan, Laura/X-23, and cyborg-armed mercenary Donald Pierce.  We also added Scarlet Johansson’s character The Major, previewing 2017’s live-action film The Ghost in the Shell.

We didn’t get the big ballroom at our venue reserved early enough for the induction ceremony this year, so it limited us to tapping only 24 named characters into the revered Hall of Fame this year.


As with last year, we’re granting a few early entrances this year, first to Simone Missick’s badass cop Misty Knight, who is getting a borg arm for season two of Luke Cage in 2018.


And here is an early look at Josh Brolin’s Cable, from 2018’s Deadpool sequel.  The borg comic book character Cable was a first round honoree to the Hall, so this is just another update to the character.


Onto this year… Kingsman’s almost-a-Kingsman Charlie was thought to have been killed off in the first film.  But he was back in the 2017 film Kingsman: The Golden Circle, sporting cyborg components.


A host of new borgs–Replicants in Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?–returned to the big screen in Blade Runner 2049, including some new names and faces, like Ryan Gosling’s K

Continue reading

What inspired you this year to be a hero?

Logan trying to save Charles and the little girl?  Wonder Woman storming the battlefield?

Maybe it was Rose Tico sacrificing herself to save Finn?  Bob Newby trying to save his almost-family?

You don’t need superpowers to change the world.

Several charities are out there in need of your help.  You can change the world one dollar at a time.  And it can even help your own pocketbook if you make charitable contributions by the end of the week for your 2017 taxes.

So change the world.  borg.com endorses the following awesome organizations:

Wayside Waifs

Great Plains SPCA

Alley Cat Allies

Humane Society

ASPCA

Animal Rescue League

Bat Conservation International

American Anti-Vivisection Society

REGAP

Best Friends Animal Society Sanctuary

Frankie’s Friends

Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary

Check out these great charities today and give if you can.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

Our borg.com Best of 2017 list continues today with the Best in Print.  If you missed them, check out our review of the Best Movies of 2017 here, the Kick-Ass Heroines of 2017 here, and the Best in Television here.

So let’s get going.  Here are our selections for this year’s Best in Print:

Best New Edition of Previous Published WorkThe Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame, David Petersen (IDW Publishing).  David Petersen’s artwork was the perfect excuse to get Kenneth Grahame’s wonderful classic The Wind in the Willows into the hands of new readers.  The new edition from IDW Publishing was the perfect storybook, and Petersen, known best for his Mouse Guard series, showed his understanding of these characters and their natural world full of wonder through his fantasy images.

Best Read, Best Retro Read – Forever and a Death, Donald E. Westlake (Hard Case Crime).  Not every good idea comes to fruition.  Not every excellent project gets off the ground.  Not every great book gets published.  The Hard Case Crime imprint of Titan Books came through again, seizing the opportunity to take a lost, never before published work of Donald E. Westlake--Forever and a Death--and brought it to life.  And what a great adventure!  Originally the story commissioned to be the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, the projected was shelved, and only now do we get fantastic characters (like environmental activist and diver Kim Baldur) in a very Bondian situation–destroying Hong Kong as payback for China taking it back from Great Britain.  Honorable mention for Best Retro Read: Turn on the Heat, Erle Stanley Gardner, and Dragon Teeth, Michael Crichton.

Best Sci-Fi Read – Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom: A Novel of Retropolis, Bradley W. Schenck (Tor Books).  Imaginative, new, and fun, Schenck took us into a timeless world full of nostalgia and classic science fiction.  Great tech, and a sprawling story.  Interesting characters and great world-building, this novel will be a great surprise for sci-fi readers.  Honorable mention: War for the Planet of the Apes: Revelations, Greg Keyes.

Best Fantasy Read – An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors, Curtis Craddock (Tor Books).  The plot of this debut novel is labyrinthine and action-packed, full of assassination attempts from all quarters, courtly intrigue galore, grandiose philosophies, and a cast of characters anchored by the strong, smart, resourceful, and eminently likeable heroes.  Supporting everything is Craddock’s strong, confident, often-funny, and sharply observant writing that goes from heart-wrenching to hilarious on a single page without missing a beat.  A dazzling debut.

Best Genre Non-fiction – Middle-Earth: From Script to Screen, Daniel Falconer (Harper Design).  We wish every genre franchise had such a magnificent, thorough, monumental guide.  Falconer’s guide to Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies is full of interviews at all levels of the creative process, and supported by concept art, photographs, maps, and so much more.  Worthy of the six films it covers, it’s the ultimate fan book and a model for any franchise attempting to put everything fans could want into a single volume.

There’s much more of our selections for 2017’s Best in Print and more, after the jump…

Continue reading

Leading up to the premiere of Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi later this month, this Friday fans of The Empire Strikes Back (and who isn’t?) will have a brief opportunity to fulfill a childhood dream.  What kid in the 1980s didn’t wish he had Han Solo’s parka?  If you were lucky enough to already have your own parka, then you gained a certain higher status with your friends on the playground.  Anyone who wanted to have their own tauntaun and Snowspeeder can have the next best thing this week, their own real-world coat to keep warm this winter, inspired by Commander Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia Organa, and Captain Han Solo’s coats from the Rebel’s Echo Base.  Sorry, no Chewbacca faux fur coat is available.

To commemorate the release of The Empire Strikes Back in 1980, Columbia Sportswear worked with Lucasfilm to give buyers a look and feel similar to the real thing, with only 1,980 jackets available for sale for each style.  For the basic collection, the Han Solo parka will be blue, because that is what fans remember and how it appeared to most viewers on the screen (following Rogue One director Gareth Edwards’ philosophy of re-creating what you remember instead of what the originals exactly looked like).  For more discriminating fans, Columbia is releasing an undisclosed but far lesser number of special Han Solo parkas in a dark brown color closer to the original coat in the Lucasfilm archives at Skywalker Ranch.  The standard Luke, Leia, and Han coats will be sold at $400, but the special Han coat will be released at $1,980, and will include a hand-signed (Han signed?) Harrison Ford autograph on the front.  The jackets will be available in limited quantities at the Columbia website here at 12:01 a.m. EST and at store opening in Columbia branded retail locations in the United States, Canada, Europe, China, Hong Kong, Japan, and Korea.

This is the second year Columbia is releasing an exclusive line of Star Wars-inspired clothing.  Last year in advance of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Columbia released a $400 Jyn Erso Resistance jacket and a $500 Captain Cassian Andor Resistance parka.  Don’t look for any replicas from Columbia very soon from The Last Jedi, but here are the descriptions of the four styles offered:

   

Leia Organa Echo Base Jacket.  Stand fearless against both the Empire and the ice planet Hoth with the limited-edition Leia Organa Echo Base jacket.  Inspired by Leia’s original costume featured in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, this versatile jacket and vest combination is crafted of a durable, water-resistant, cotton-blend fabric and insulated with Omni-Heat Reflective lining.  With a vintage look, flattering feminine fit, and eye-catching details—including stowable hood, princess seam piping, and gusset sleeves—you’ll stay comfortable and confident whether you’re taking on the elements or staring down a Star Destroyer in a galaxy far, far away.

Continue reading

Saturday entertainment memorabilia collectors and diehard Star Trek fans lined up in person, and bid via telephone and online as auction house Prop Store auctioned off 400 lots of screen-used props and costumes for Paramount Pictures at Prop Store’s new location in Valencia, California.  The auction included many key items used in the production of the 2009 J.J. Abrams Star Trek reboot film as well as the 2013 sequel Star Trek Into Darkness.  Paramount retained many more items than were auctioned off, but this was the third–and the largest–public auction of items from what the franchise refers to as the “Kelvin timeline.”  The Kelvin timeline resulted after the failure of Leonard Nimoy’s Mr. Spock to prevent the destruction of the planet Romulus and the subsequent journey by the Romulan Nero back in time as revenge to destroy both the USS Kelvin, the ship where Captain Kirk’s father served, and subsequently the planet Vulcan.  The Kelvin timeline includes the third film of the new series, Star Trek Beyond, but no items from that film were included in Saturday’s auction.

If high hammer prices are any indication of popularity, Star Trek shows no signs of slowing down.  Most lots exceeded their auction estimates, and lots for key characters far surpassed those estimates.  As you might expect, costumes from Chris Pine’s Captain James T. Kirk, Zachary Quinto’s Mr. Spock, and Benedict Cumberbatch’s Khan led the way.  Several Kirk costumes were at auction–examples of his standard gold tunic Starfleet uniform sold in lots of varying descriptions and completeness for $30,500, $14,640, and $8,540 (prices listed here include the added buyer’s premium fee charged to all buyers).  Even a costume for a Kirk double actor (an actor who stood in for Pine during stage preparation) fetched $3,965 and a similar unlabeled captain costume sold for $6,710.  Yet another Kirk uniform–a gray dress uniform for a double actor–sold for $12,200, and one of his Kronos (Qo’noS) disguises sold for $8,540.  But the best-selling lot was a costume worn by Quinto as Spock that also included phaser, holster belt, and communicator props–that lot sold for $33,550.  Benedict Cumberbatch’s Khan costumes were all big sellers, selling for $18,300, $9,150, $9,150, $8,540, $8,540, $6,710, $6,100, and $5,795, making him roughly tied with Kirk as the most popular of the characters with items represented at this auction.  Other key characters represented included a Uhura Starfleet uniform for actress Zoe Saldana that sold for $17,080, a Dr. McCoy “Bones” uniform for actor Karl Urban that sold for $9,760, and similar costumes that sold at the same price for Simon Pegg’s Scotty and John Cho’s Sulu.  No costumes were auctioned that were used by the late Anton Yelchin’s Chekov.  The auction also included several recognizable production-made and screen-used Starfleet props.  A rare Starfleet rifle sold for $15,860, and Kelvin timeline chrome Starfleet phasers sold for $3,355 to $11,590.  Only a handful of Starfleet background/stunt communicators were available, selling for $1,342 to $2,745.  Static/stunt tricorders sold for $2,318 to $3,355.

Well-known Star Trek aliens also invaded the Prop Store auction.  Klingon uniforms from a deleted scene in the 2009 Star Trek that were re-used in Star Trek Into Darkness were auctioned off (selling between $600 and $1,110), plus new Klingon costumes from the sequel, some of which included helmets and light-up “working” phasers and rifles (selling for between $1,952 and $9,760).  Four Vulcan uniforms sold, including one in the same style as that worn by Leonard Nimoy as Spock in one of his last performances as the character (these sold for $549 to $1,098).  And nine Romulan costumes sold, including some labeled for Eric Bana’s character, the villain Nero (selling for as low as $732 to a lot of two costumes for $1,342).

Continue reading

WKRP Nessman reporting Thanksgiving stunt

Pull the TV dinner out of the oven.  Throw some butter on those peas.  It’s time again for your annual tryptophan coma.  And another annual tradition.

Yes, it is time again for your annual viewing of one of the two best Thanksgiving episodes that ever graced the small screen.  Finish this phrase: “As God is my witness, I thought…”  You don’t know how it ends?  Then watch and enjoy our traditional viewing of the greatest Thanksgiving episode of TV ever (note: no actual turkeys were harmed in the making of the show):

But be prepared for next year, which will be the fortieth anniversary of the airing of this episode!

And in between your seconds and thirds on tofurkey, mashed potatoes, corn casserole, bean casserole, pea casserole–and don’t forget the gravy–then check out other Thanksgiving blasts from the past here.

And don’t forget the cranberries.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The borg.com Staff

Back in September here at borg.com we predicted the November Bonhams auction of Robby the Robot and his “space chariot” from the 1956 science fiction classic Forbidden Planet would hit the $1 million mark and we even entertained the possibility of a $10 million sale.  Yesterday the hammer fell at $4.5 million at Bonham’s “Out of this World” auction of entertainment memorabilia and with the addition of a buyer’s premium resulting in a final sale price of $5,375,000, Robby and his car became the highest movie prop lot ever to sell at public auction.  Technically a costume that doubled as a prop, Robby the Robot also became the second highest sale price for any piece of entertainment memorabilia to sell at public auction, eclipsed only by the 2011 sale by auction house Profiles in History of the iconic Marilyn Monroe subway vent dress from The Seven Year Itch, which sold for $5.52 million including buyer’s premium (yesterday Bonhams and the mainstream press, including The New York Times and CBS, mistakenly claimed Robby’s sale surpassed the Monroe dress price, but their reports neglected to factor in the buyer’s premium for the dress–a fee the auction house charges bidders based on a percentage of the hammer price, and the Monroe dress had a hammer price of $4.6 million).  The Robby the Robot costume/prop was used in dozens if not hundreds of appearances over the decades, including in key episodes of Lost in Space and The Twilight Zone.

Still, top prop honors is nothing to sneeze at.  The sale of Robby and his car nudged from the top spot the sale of the 1966 Batmobile from the 1960s television series, which sold for $4.62 million in 2013, including buyer’s premium.  The rest of the pantheon of prime public auction screen-used prop and costume sales includes one of two original James Bond Aston Martins from Goldfinger ($4.6085 million/2010), one of the falcon props from The Maltese Falcon ($4.085 million/2013), Audrey Hepburn My Fair Lady and Breakfast at Tiffany’s dresses ($3.7 million/2011 and $807,000/2006, respectively), Sam’s piano from Casablanca ($3.4 million/2014), the Cowardly Lion suit from The Wizard of Oz ($3.1 million/2014), Von Trapp kids’ costumes from The Sound of Music ($1.5 million/2013), Steve McQueen’s racing suit from LeMans ($984,000/2011), and one of four pairs of ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz ($666,000/2000).

In the science fiction genre, the artifact to beat was another robot–an R2-D2 that was pieced together from several screen-used components, which sold this past June for $2.76 million, and a Back to the Future III DeLorean time machine sold for $541,000 in 2011.  Robby easily nudged these props aside yesterday.  Would the sale price have been the same without the space car?  You’ll need to track down the anonymous telephone buyer to get the answer to that question (the four final bidders all dueled it out via phone bids), although you might keep an eye out at Paul Allen’s Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, as this is the kind of high-end prop he has purchased in the past.

Continue reading

Review by C.J. Bunce

Axis & Allies is a classic wartime strategy board game that you’ve likely encountered either yourself or found a good friend playing over the years.  First released in 1981 by Nova Game Designs it has continued to be re-released from the likes of Milton Bradley, and it currently is a game produced by Wizards of the Coast and Avalon Hill under the Hasbro umbrella of companies.  Thirty-six years after its release it remains a fun and competitive game in various versions of play with a loyal following, continuing to be the focus of tournaments at Gen Con and other venues throughout the year.  This month Wizards of the Coast is releasing an updated edition of the game celebrating the 50th anniversary of Avalon Hill.  The company had tapped Axis & Allies original game designer and creator Larry Harris to take another look at the game and develop a special anniversary edition with updated features and gameplay.  The result is the Axis & Allies Anniversary Edition, a giant, beautifully designed edition featuring plenty of extras, including two completely different games in one box as compared to the classic standard edition–one with a scenario beginning in the Spring of 1941 (the Axis attack) and the other beginning in the Spring of 1942 (from the traditional version of the game).  The detail and complex strategy allow for an unlimited level of historicity depending on the desires of the players.  The out-of-the-box version will test players’ skill in planning, including short-term battle tactics and long-term strategy, and as with the original game there’s also room for luck to have a hand in the outcome.

The Anniversary Edition, originally released in limited quantities in 2008 and out of print since, includes more than 650 game pieces, including some updated sculpts of tokens compared to the standard edition.  It’s housed in a deluxe sturdy box that features a gorgeous painting when the eight game piece boxes are housed together.  The gameboard is a whopping 24 x 46 inches.  Recommended for players 12 and up, 2-6 can play, each representing one or more of the United States, the Soviet Union, and the United Kingdom for the Allies, or Germany, Japan, or Italy for the Axis.  As compared to the standard edition Italy is feature of the Anniversary Edition, which balances out the board 3 to 3 (allowing for more players than prior editions).  As with Italy during the real war, the prospects of a single player representing Italy winning the game in a six player game will be a real challenge, but we figured a cunning or lucky player may be able to make it work.  China also has a different configuration in this edition, allowing for further twists to the game depending on how it is used to manipulate the balance of power across the board.  The key update for 2017 is an updated rulebook correcting past errors.

You really get your money’s worth with the giant board, extra features, and 650+ playing pieces in the Axis & Allies Anniversary Edition.

We set aside an afternoon to try it: my friend (who is a regular gamer, but hasn’t played Axis & Allies in years) and I (new to wargame/combat board games) made it through two complete rounds in 6.5 hours, but that time included initial board set-up (punching out pieces, etc.) and reading instructions.  Those familiar with the standard game will have no problem completing 4-6 rounds in this time, which appears to be the norm for a complete game.  The winner of the game is the first to capture a set number of major city capitals.  Each side starts with a designated number of cities (based on which scenario you play) and players decide in advance whether 13, 15, or all 18 capitals is the goal, which may shorten or extend the time of gameplay.  Paper money is used as IPCs or “industrial production certificates” and each of the six major countries is paid each round to represent a rough correlation of the actual military spending during the war.  We played the Spring of 1941 scenario and this meant Germany was powerful with Japan in a good position to strike, but the United Kingdom is entrenched upfront by design as a military stronghold with resources that, along with the resources of the United States, kept the balance in favor of the Allies for the first round.

Continue reading

Kansas City Comic Con 2017 wrapped after three days yesterday, full of great opportunities to meet comic book and other genre creators, celebrities, and participate in all sorts of activities from how-to classes on cosplay armor building to LEGO building, and several panels covering a variety of topics.  For regular convention attendees the best part is the ability to see friends you’ve known for sometimes decades, and forging new bonds with other like-minded, positive and fun people.

What came as a surprise for many this year was the enormous participation of attendees in their favorite cosplay.  On Saturday the open areas of the convention floor were often so filled with cosplayers and others getting photographs that you could hardly move through without bumping into someone.  That’s a pretty great feat, because Bartle Hall in downtown Kansas City is a major sized venue.

So let’s take a look at a few of the hundreds of great characters found at this year’s show:

   

To my left above is one of the first people to create Obi-Wan Kenobi as designed by Mike Mayhew in Star Wars Issue #15, written by Jason Aaron.  He really nailed the look with the great backback, rifle, and goggles.  This wins my “I am definitely going to borrow this idea” award.  This is the version Sideshow is expected to release in 1:6 scale in late 2018:

Here is Jennifer and Nicholas Forrestal with their Morticia and Gomez Addams from The Addams Family:

  

And a great Uncle Fester was on-hand as well.  The best ad lib physical humor award goes to Kevin Dilmore for his quick rendition of Thing.

I was surprised by all the Rogue One cosplayers that Elizabeth Bunce (as Jyn Erso in Imperial disguise) and I (as the Blue Squadron X-Wing pilot general) were able to get some photos with, including our boss, Mon Mothma:

… and a soldier from the Battle of Scarif (where we both met our doom):

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: