Your Popculteer is off on a secret mission, so instead of cool toy reviews or neat breaking news, we’re bringing you vintage video of three titans of the toy world. You will see how Lionel Trains were made in the 1950s. Then you will see how Mattel made their Jack-in-the-Box toys around the same time. Finally, we answer the question that has haunted mankind for decades…Just exactly how did they make the Betsy Wetsy doll?
Local Scene News
We have new feeds added From Charleston Underground and The Defintley Loud Podcast!!
These two cover much of the local art and music scene and if you are from out of town this will give you a great heads up on what goes on in Charleston and the Rest of WV.
You can Read it here on the Empty Glass site or click on the Links and read if on the on the original Site.
This week the RFC MINI SHOW shines its spotlight on Dina Hornbaker, who made her Radio Free Charleston debut back on episode 196, last March. Dina is a very talented singer/songwriter who just moved back to Charleston last year and has become a star of the open mic scene in town.
This week’s RFC MINI SHOW brings you three songs performed by Dina just last week at the Early Open Mic at Taylor Books. The RFC Crew just happened to be there armed with cameras and we decided to snag Dina’s first three-song set before deadline duties forced us to make a hasty retreat.This was true guerilla filmmaking because we forgot to tell anyone we were recording and had to ask permission afterward.
You’ll hear Dina doing a Summertime song with nods to Sam Cooke and George Gershwin, as well as the song that she performed on RFC 196, “Mountain Mama.” We wrap up the show with a lovely song that does not yet have a title. We’d like to thank Dina for allowing us to bring you this terrific little work-in-progress.
The Taylor Books Early Open Mic is developing into quite an eclectic scene. Keep checking PopCult for details on when the next one is coming up. The video in this episode may seem a little blocky, but that’s entirely due to your producer/director/host screwing up something while rendering it. So pretend it was done on purpose.
This week’s art is a digital painting composed of fragments of other digital paintings that I had laying around on the hard drive. It’s an exercise in throwing a few random components together to make a piece of art because Monday Morning rolled around too fast while I was recovering from a week of heavy deadline juggling and didn’t have enough time to put much effort into it. I’ve been posting a new piece of original art almost every Monday since March, 2006. They can’t all be winners.
Click to enlarge!
Let’s go back to the iconic 1960s comedy bonanza known as “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In.” It was a major breakthrough in television comedy and doesn’t really get enough credit for inspiring “Saturday Night Live.” This show launched the careers of Goldie Hawn and Lily Tomlin and boasted a ton of A-List Hollywood stars as guests.
Instead of looking at the funny stuff that made it to the air, how about we look at the funnier stuff that didn’t get past the censors? You’ll get to hear rude words, very rude words, celebrity guests blowing their lines and professional comedians trying their best to crack each other up.
Be warned that the language is definitely not safe for work, and these outtakes are much funnier than most of what made it to the air.
Here’s another batch, with just a little overlap…
This week we’re going to ramp up our game of catch up and bring you three classic episodes of Radio Free Charleston. These are not remastered, but instead are the edited versions that were posted to MySpace four or five years ago. Recently, MySpace brought back all the videos that they had removed from public display and we’re going to use those clips to fill in the gaps for videos that we haven’t remastered yet. This week we’re posting episodes 20, 22 and 25. Next week we’ll bring you three more of these.
Episode Twenty features music from Josh Buskirk plus Whistlepunk with Karen Allen of Tofujitsu on lead vocals. This show will eventually be remastered with the original animation restored, but this edited version has replacement stuff. From May, 2007. Read the production notes HERE.
Next up it’s episode 22, with tons of cool stuff. We have a Voices of Anatole video directed by Holly Siders, the first appearance of Captain Crash and The Beauty Queen when they were called “Aurora,” plus The No Pants Players eat a watermelon and Frank Panucci presents his classic cartoon, “No Running.” From June 2007. Production notes are HERE.
Finally, we have episode 25, which brings you music from The Amazing Delores and Joe Slack, plus we have scenes from Frank Panucci’s “Repurkussionz,” “Brokeback Coalmine,” a re-working/butchering of a short film by Danny Boyd and Steve Gilliland and part of Melanie Larch’s coverage of FestivALL 2007. From August of that year. Production notes are HERE.
Including these three episodes, the RFC Archive Blog now has every episode of Radio Free Charleston and The RFC MINI SHOW dating back to episode 89, in December 2009, and all of our first 25 episodes from 2006 and 2007. We have around 35 shows missing from 2007 to 2009, but we’re working on getting those up and running as soon as possible.
What’s up with RFC
You may have noticed that the most recent full-length episode of Radio Free Charleston, was number 199. That means we have a milestone coming up. To be honest, it’s been a bit of a millstone, too. I want do do something special to mark our 200th episode as a video entity. Last year I panicked a little when I realized that episode 200 was rapidly approaching and I wasn’t ready yet.
So, in order to be lazy and put off the inevitable, I created The RFC MINI SHOW to fill in what would become longer gaps between our full-length episodes. That’s turned out great, with our shorter shows focusing on single bands or acts and the longer shows getting just a bit longer. The irony of reducing my workload by beginning production and hosting duties on a second show is not lost on me.
But now I can’t really delay episode 200 any longer.
Actually, I can. Because I have special plans for this show, I’m going to take longer to put it together. I plan to drop RFC 200 in September, which coincidentally marks 25 years since the debut of Radio Free Charleston on the radio.
We have a lot of surprises planned that will all come together with a cosmic alignment of brobdinganarian proportions. In the meantime, get ready for several week’s of RFC MINI SHOWs to keep you from forgetting that we exist.
More Kanawha Players Fundraisers
The wolf has been shooed away from the door, but KP still needs to raise money so that they can stay in business. Tonight there is a family friendly comedy show, starting at 8 PM. Ten bucks gets you in the door to hear some great local comics and headliner, Mama Kate.
Then at 10 PM, you can see Fritz Lang’s classic film, “Metropolis” for a mere three bucks.
Tribute To The Troops IV
The annual benefit for Wounded Warrior, put on by Wood Boys Music, happens all day Saturday at Saint Albans Roadside Park. Check out this killer line-up and be sure to make it out to see the bands for a great cause.
Friday Night Music
For free you can catch Julie Adams and Steve Hill at Taylor Books, starting at 7:30. Also cover free at 9 PM is Dugan Carter and Friends at Bruno’s on Leon Sullivan Way.
Five bucks gets you in the door for Mojomatic with Tres Diablos at the Empty Glass, starting at 11 PM.
At 10 PM at The Boulevard Tavern, Goodwill swoops in from Morgantown and teams up with Miniature Giant to storm the stage for a mere five dollars.
Saturday Night Music
At The Blue Parrot you can celebrate Andy Haught.’s birthday. Lexington’s Triaxle make their Blue Parrot debut. Relative Obscurity (fresh off their riverfront opening for Saliva) headline.Plus you can expect a special Zeroking set featuring their original bass player Chris Greene which will highlight songs for their 2006 EP Sweet Sale of Excess (released almost exactly 8 years ago July 22)…come be a part of celebrating 10 years of Zeroking and join the madness. The show starts at 9 PM and the cover charge is five dollars.
I’m going to be lazy and just post the flyers for the rest of the cool Saturday shows. It’s been a long week.
That’s it for this week’s PopCulteer. Expect the usual features in their usual places next week. Well, except for that one thing…
The PopCult Bookshelf
This is one of those niche comic book collections that seems amazing in that it was even published. Presented here in glorious black and white are 570 pages of post apocalyptic comic book stories published by DC Comics between 1960 and 1983.
In DC’s self published fan magazine, “The Amazing World of DC Comics,” back in 1976, Paul Levitz (who would go on to become the president and publisher of DC Comics) wrote an article that tied together several threads of DC Comics science fiction stories and showed how the early 1960′s adventures of The Atomic Knights could be tied to then current DC series “Hercules Unbound” and Jack Kirby’s classic, “Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth.” He created a cool chronology of “Earth: After Disaster.”
The theory put forth by Levitz was that some sort of civilization ending apocalypse occurs in 1986, which at the time was still ten years in the future. In the years following this disaster, first Jack Kirby’s “OMAC” series happened right before the complete collapse of civilization, then the adventures of The Atomic Knights, a classic sci-fi series written by John Broome and drawn by Murphy Anderson took place. Sixty years after OMAC lost his superpowers, Kamandi emerged from the fallout shelter he shared with his now deceased grandfather, who in this theory was Buddy Blank, the alter-ego of OMAC. Between “OMAC” and “Kamandi,” Jack Kirby’s Atlas one shot, and DC’s mid-seventies “Hercules Unbound” series take place. Sprinkled throughout were several short “Earth After Disaster” stories published in “Weird War Tales” that explain how humanity died out and intelligent animals took over the world, which sets up the world of “Kamandi.”
This book collects almost all of these stories except for “OMAC” and the long running “Kamandi” series, whose Kirby-written and drawn adventures were recently collected in two beautiful full color hardcovers. In this book we start with a trilogy of tales by the legendary Sheldon Mayer and artist Alfredo Alcala that tell the story of “The Day After Doomsday.” We are then treated to a Superman story from 1976 that looks into the future and then nineteen short stories from “Weird War Tales” and other DC mystery books. After that, we get all fifteen classic adventures of “The Atomic Knights” by John Broome and Murphy Anderson.
That takes us less than halfway through the book. Next up is “Atlas The Great” from “1st Issue Special” #1, written and drawn by Jack Kirby, followed by all twelve issues of “Hercules Unbound,” which boasted among its artists such masters as Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Wally Wood, and Walt Simonson. From there, we get four backup stories from “Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth,” a time travel story where Superman teams with The Atomic Knights, and a reprint of Paul Levitz’s article from “The Amazing World of DC Comics.”
There is some great reading here. The standouts are “The Atomic Knights” by Broome and Anderson and “Hercules Unbound,” which boasts some absolutely beautiful artwork. Sprinkled throughout the short stories you will find artwork by folks like Frank Miller, Rich Buckler, Howard Chaykin, Steve Ditko, Paul Kirchner, Alex Nino, and Mike Nasser. It’s quite the treasure trove of obscure work by big name artists.
However, it is still astounding that DC bothered to publish such an obscure collection of work. I’m glad they did it. It’s really cool to have all these stories in one place. But given DC’s current utter disregard for even their most recent history, it’s stunning to think anybody at the company still cares about this material or that anybody in marketing thought that it could possibly sell to today’s audience.
Regardless of how or why this book came out, it’s just really, really cool that it did. What you get here for a relatively low price is hours and hours of entertainment about the end of the world. Ours is not to wonder why, ours is just to enjoy. The Great Disaster is great, but it’s certainly no disaster. If, by some chance, this book somehow becomes a success, I hope that we get a second volume. They could easily fill it with the non-Kirby issues of “Kamandi: The Last Boy On Earth,” as well as Jim Starlin’s short-lived revival of “OMAC” and a memorable three-part “Earth AD” story drawn by Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin, that I was a little surprised wasn’t included here.
It’s a special night as Mojo’s Sportsbar breaks from the open mic format to bring in Atlanta-based comedian, Laura Lewis, to headline a night of top-notch comedy, hosted by Ken Flippin. In addition to Lewis, you will be treated to sets by the area’s top comedians, Sheila Kerr, Annie Lane, Andy Frampton, Patrick Felton and featured act, Josh Weeks. The show kicks off at Mojo’s at 8 PM, and this week there is a five-dollar cover charge.
Over the past few months your PopCulteer has been bouncing around the nation, visiting several cool toy shows, conventions and stores, and as such, the rooms here at Stately Radio Free Charleston Manor are filled with tons of cool new items that I have yet to review.
The plan is to play catch-up over the next few weeks with some capsule reviews of the coolness what has passed through these halls. This week we’re going to check out a couple of really cool figures that we picked up at MEGO Meet last month, and we’ll also look at one of the new “ReAction” figures from Funko.
First up we have “Henshin X” a line of figures inspired by the legendary Henshin Cyborgs, a Japanese toy line from the 1970s that eventually became known in America as The Micronauts. Cast A Way Toys recently developed a new MEGO-scale body in conjunction with ZICA Toys (I wrote about the Kickstarter campaign HERE), and it is deployed to wonderful effect here.
The plan was for Cast A Way Toys to debut their revival of Action Jackson at MEGO Meet last month, but the first batch of heads produced in China were unsatisfactory, so they sent them back and the project has been delayed. However, they have plenty of their new “Type S” bodies, including a bunch of them made in clear plastic. In order to have something special for MEGO Meet, David Lee, the head of Cast A Way, came up with the idea to use the clear bodies to pay tribute to the Henshin Cyborgs while showing off the customizing potential of the new Type S body.
I’m not sure how many different designs Cast A Way had at MEGO Meet. I think there were at least six. I picked up two of them, and they are gems. The packaging features a resealable clamshell with an insert, so that the figures can be taken out for play or dioramas, then be returned for display.
The beauty of the new “Henshin X” figures is in the simplicity of how they were very simply kitbashed and customized. Some of the body parts were dyed so that they took on color but retained their translucence. The Type S body is held together with screws, so it’s easy to open up the chest and insert extra cyborg guts. The heads were things that Cast A Way had on hand, painted silver or gold.
The Type S body is spectacular. Rather than try to simply duplicate the original MEGO bodies, which to be frank, sorta suck, Cast A Way and ZICA developed a much better body with more points of articulation, stronger joints and studier materials.
Though there are no names on the packaging, a quick search of some message boards reveals that the two figures I picked up are Lord Akugon and Ken. Akugon has a silver skull head, a cloak and boots, with purple dye coloring parts of his see-through body. This is one ridiculously sharp figure. Your eyes are instantly drawn to him.
Ken has green see-through body parts, with a gold head and chest insert. I’m lucky enough to have a couple of 12″ Henshin Cyborgs, and these guys will look perfect on the shelf next to them. Both figures came with an assortment of clear replacement hands in different poses.
These were produced for MEGO Meet, and I doubt that there are any left at this point, but you may want to contact David Lee to see if there may be a second run of these any time soon. I paid forty bucks each for these guys and they are worth every penny. You can reach David at leedavm@Yahoo.com.
Next up we have a bit of a disappointment. Funko, the folks who make those cool “Pop Vinyl” figures that you see everywhere, have decided to enter into the action figure nostalgia market with a new brand, ReAction. Sadly for me, they are aiming at a demographic at least ten years younger than I am.
I grew up in the golden age of action figures, with the original 12″ GI Joe, Johnny West, Major Matt Mason, Captain Action and then later the MEGO heroes. Kids who were born about a decade after me grew up with crappy little 3 3/4″ action figures. The early Star Wars toys were great because of the ships and vehicles. The figures were pretty poor. They were poorly-sculpted, with likenesses that rarely resembled the actors in the movies, and they were crudely articulated and barely poseable.
Of course, if you grew up with them, you think they were the greatest thing in the world. That’s the thinking behind Funko’s new “ReAction” division. They have signed up a ton of beloved, mostly 1980s or 90s, pop culture properties. They will be releasing figures based on The Nightmare Before Christmas, Predator, The Terminator, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Back to the Future, Escape from New York, Firefly, Scream, The Goonies, Universal Monsters, Pulp Fiction, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Hellraiser, Trick ‘R Treat, Halloween and The Crow.
And our example today, The Rocketeer.
I’m a huge fan of Dave Stevens’ classic comic book, The Rocketeer, and I have wanted a good action figure of Cliff Secord for some time. I even have a custom figure that I made, but he doesn’t have a removable helmet. So I went ahead and ordered the ReAction Rocketeer, even though I had very low expectations.
Sadly, those low expectations were met. My ten bucks bought me a crudely-sculpted figure with no facial resemblance to either the actor from The Rocketeer movie or the drawings in the comic book. The paint is a bit sloppy, the articulation really bad and the helmet and jetpack are oversized.
Making matters worse, this is based on the movie, not the comic, so the jetpack looks clunkier anyway. The helmet is oversized and looks cheesy. And that face sure doesn’t look like Billy Campbell. The whole figure just looks bad. The Jodpurs that The Rocketeer wears are not captured well by this sculpt. He just looks like a guy with really fat knees and thighs. Add t that the fact that he only bends at the hips, shoulders and neck, and you can see that this is more a paperweight than a toy.
To be honest, I think ten bucks was too much for this, and I got a discount. I will not bother opening mine. He’ll go on the wall, or on a shelf. The package warns that “This is an adult collectible, Not a toy” and they are definitely correct. This is a sad excuse for an action figure. It’s more a knick-knack or a decoration.
I can’t imagine that they spent much more than a dollar making this. If ReAction had gone in a different direction, basing their figures on the GI Joe Real American Hero figures, with full articulation and much higher detail, these figures would be much more appealing. As it is, probably due to spending so much on licenses, they made these on the cheap.
However, if you grew up on the early Star Wars action figures, the ones that cost a fortune now, but are barely poseable, you might fall in love with these crappy little action figures. When you grow up with a toy it’s easy to overlook its deficiencies. That’s one of the things that keeps the MEGO-style figures in the public eye. The original figures were basically crap, but people who grew up with them love them.
For folks like me, who are a little older, or folks who were born later and got to play with the cooler figures that came out later, these figures will just seem sub-par.
This week The RFC MINI SHOW dives into the vault for two songs by the terrific local band, InFormation. One of these performances has never been seen before. These were recorded in May, 2011 at The Blue Parrot.
InFormation is Curtis Chittendon, Shane Durham and Roy Graley, and we first had them on Radio Free Charleston (with an early line-up) seven years ago. They continue to impress the hell out of RFC host Rudy Panucci with their progressive alternative energy and great lyrics.
We will now quote freely from their website…
“InFormation is a 3 piece Rock ‘N’ Roll group from Charleston, WV. If you think that Rock ‘N’ Roll music may be dying off, you need to see an InFormation show and have your Rock ‘N’ Roll spirits re-lifted!
InFormation brings everything you need for a Rock ‘N’ Roll show; mind melting guitar solos, killer guitar riffs, 9 string basses, 7 string basses, drum solos, catchy lyrics, and most of all a real good time.”
You can next catch the band Friday, July 18, at The Blue Parrot (where we recorded these tunes) with Deck of Fools (another great band that we’ve had on RFC). The show starts at 10 PM and the cover charge is only five bucks.