PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

Radio Free Charleston Continues Looking Back On The AIR

Radio Free Charleston, the flagship show on the The AIR pauses this week to look back at its beginning on this internet radio station. Listen at

Tuesday at 10 AM The AIR re-presents the first episode of RFC “Volume 4.” Over three years ago, when “On The AIRadio” rose from the ashes of Voices of Appalachia, we decided to start Radio Free Charleston over with a new “number one” episode, and that’s why we use the “volume 4” designation. Originally a two-hour weekly show, we decided to cut RFC down to sixty minutes when The AIR shortened its name, and yours truly suddenly found himself responsible for the whole station back in July, 2016. The two-hour episodes haven’t been heard since, until today. As has become the norm, our first episode featured a mix of then-new local music, and cool stuff from deep in the RFC Archives. Here’s the playlist:


Jordan Andrew Jefferson “White Light”
The Smoky Room “Pie Chart”
No Rain “Don’t Come Around”
Jack Griffith “Everything It Takes”
Dina “Pies”
The Laser Beams “Eden By The Fire Escape”
Sheldon Vance “Don’t Walk Away”
Miss Mousie and The Rigamarole “Dumpsters and Divebars”
Neil Zaza “Take On Me”
Under Surveillance “Rachel”
The Nanker Phelge “Meerkat and Wombat”
Trielement “Ultra Violet”
The Company Stores “Pocket Change”
Wolfgang Parker “Ain’t That A Kick In The Head”
Superfetch “Suck My D*ck ISIS”
Mark Wolfe “Gypsy Rant”
The Heydays “Shady Grove”
Bud Carroll “Mistaken Identity”
Out of Nowhere “Rise Above”
Tape Age “Worst Night Of My Life”
J Marinelli “The Great Negation”
Joe Vallina “Humble Days”
Renaissance “So Blase”
Stark Raven “It Never Goes Away”
Clownhole “Old Man Jumping A Fence”
Under The Radar “All Along The Watchtower”
Bobaflex “Pray To The Devil”
Syphter “No Laughing Matter”

At 10 PM we’ll go back to July, 2016 for what I believe was only the third one-hour episode of Radio Free Charleston.


Jeff Ellis and 40 Days “Must Be Something In The Water”
The Laser Beams “The Ballad of Patrick Morrissey”
Strawfyssh “Netted Fish”
Trielement “Accidental Chaos”
Hybrid Soul Project “Stay”
The Science Fair Explosion “Cosmic Girls”
69 Fingers “Average Joe”
The Renfields “Transylvania Fight Song”
Time and Distance “War”
Mother Nang “Peel”
Farnsworth “I’ll Tell You When I’ve Had Enough”
Qiet “Daddy’s Too Old”
Blue Million “Down To A Groove”

New episodes of Radio Free Charleston can usually be heard Tuesday at 10 AM and 10 PM, with replays Thursday at 2 PM, Friday at 8 PM, Saturday at noon and Midnight, and Sunday at 3 PM exclusively on The AIR. The reason for the special repeats this week is that next week sees episode 100, and it’s taking time to prepare.

At 2 PM Tuesday Nigel Pye checks in from Haversham Recording Institute with a 60-minute mixtape of groovy Psychedelic Rock. This week it will be a fresh episode, if it downloads in time for us to slap on the schedule. .

Psychedelic Shack can be heard Tuesday’s at 2 PM, with replays Wednesday at 11 AM, Thursday at 9 AM and 10 PM and Saturday at 7 AM and the following Tuesday at 9 AM.

Tuesday at 3 PM your PopCulteer returns to host a new hour of The Swing Shift as we continue to bring you the best Swing Music of the last century. This week we present an assortment of Swing that runs the gamut from current European revivalists to classics from the Golden Age to Elektro-Swing, 90’s revivalists and more.  This week’s show is a mystery, as it’s being recorded after we write this post.

You can hear The Swing Shift Tuesday at 3 PM, with replays Wednesday at 7 AM, Thursday at 7 PM and Saturday at 9 AM, only on The AIR. You can also hear all-night marathons, seven hours each, starting at Midnight Thursday and Sunday evenings.

Monday Morning Art: TV Lady


It’s another simple piece this week, a digital bowlderlizing of a sexy lady silhouette against a geometric background, fed through a filter that mimics an old CRT TV screen. Not much else to say about it. Click the image to see a larger version.

Monday on The AIRThe Monday Marathon remains shrunken from 24 hours to 8. It still kicks off at 7 AM, every Monday, and it still showcases one of our popular music programs, but now it wraps up at 3 PM, to make way for two weekly marathon presentations of the best of two of our regular shows.  At 3 PM you can settle in for eight hours of great New Wave music with Sydney’s Big Electric Cat. Then at 11 PM you can spend you overnights with eight hours of the best Progressive Rock of the last half-century on Prognosis. Today’s Monday Marathon features the eight most recent episodes of Radio Free Charleston, in honor of the fact that it will be a rerun tomorrow.

You can listen to The AIR at the website, or on this embedded radio player…

Toy Fair 2019: Retro Toys and Links

The 2019 International Toy Fair in New York City officiall opened yesterday, and most of the big announcements have been made, with the products shown, and photos splashed all over the internet.

Since your PopCulteer did not attend the big show this year, I’m going to do my best to round up as much news as possible about all the cool pop culture collectibles coming your way this year, with some analysis and plenty of links (and borrowed images) to bring you up to date. This long post is just our first installment. Sunday Evening Video is taking the week off, but we will have a special video presentation later in the week.

You can find the latest news on what Hasbro is doing with Marvel Comics HERE, with Star Wars HERE, Transformers HERE, and with Power Rangers HERE. I will post links to what Mattel is doing with Barbie, WWE, DC Comics and more after they have their blogger breakfast meeting Monday, and more information is available. It will also take a while to dig through all the reports to find out what’s happening with Frozen 2, Toy Story 4 and the other big movies coming out this year.

Over the past few years, one trend that seemed almost to become the rule this year is that we didn’t get a lot of surprises. The major toy companies started leaking information about their offerings days, and even weeks, in advance. Even LEGO, who had a major surprise with a construction set based on The Flintstones, had leaked word of that in January, even though they just unveiled the product to the public Saturday (that’s it, seen left).

The usual suspects are out in full force at Toy Fair 2019. Everybody who can secure a part of a license is offering product based on the heavy hitters: Marvel, WWE, Disney’s Frozen 2, Pixar’s Toy Story 4, Star Wars, and DC Comics, and the second tier, but still profitable properties like Universal Monsters and all things horror, KISS, Star Trek, Hanna Barbera, and retro toy lines.

That last catagory, retro toy lines, is both near and dear to my heart, but also a little disappointing this year as I seem to have aged out of the target demographic for such efforts. Yours truly grew up at the end of the 1960’s era of super-cool toys like the original GI Joe, Captain Action, Johnny West, and Major Matt Mason.

So far I’ve only found news of one company offering collector figures in the 1/6 scale that I collect, and that’s the very excellent and very expensive Quantum Mechanix. You can see their offerings for Star Trek, It, Supernatural and more HERE.

In the 1970s I was still young enough to enjoy The Adventure Team GI Joe, Evel Knievel and the MEGO World’s Greatest Super Heroes, but as with most people my age, by the time MEGO started licensing every property known to man, and then Star Wars came out and lowered the bar for what an action figure should be, my interests were turning to girls and cars.

However, my mom ran a daycare center, and I was there almost every day, and therefore got to see several waves of “hot toys” that kids had to play with over the next twenty years or so. I remember realizing that the Star Wars figures existed to sell the larger vehicles, and that’s why they were so tiny and barely-articulated. I understood why they were the way they were, but thought the figures were crap. Later, the revived Real American Hero GI Joe showed that you could make quality, articulated figures in that small scale. But most companies who scaled down to that size didn’t bother, and the results were underwhelming.

Likewise, when He Man and the Masters of The Universe first showed up, I was stunned at the sheer idiocy of the concept, the name, the cartoon, and the design of the toys (I was also about as far from the target audience as you could get). So I have no fondness for that toy line at all. I understand that people who grew up with that will love it forever. I grew up with the Batman TV show. It’s about as silly and stupid as TV shows get, and I will love it to my dying breath.

That’s how nostalgia works. So if I seem dismissive of certain types of action figures, just remember that I’m showing my age. Not every toy can be as cool as a new MEGO 14″ Gorn (seen above).

So sadly, this year the trend in retro toys is to go back to the style of toys that were made during the time I had little interest in then-current toys (and I have to admit here, that once I rekindled my interest in toys as an adult collector, I started paying attention to the whole toy industry again, so my disinterest was just a phase). While there is some great stuff out there, and I can admire it for what it is, at lot of it is stuff I can leave out of my personal collection. It’s cool, but the toymakers aren’t aiming at folks my age for nostalgia anymore. The “Sweet Spot” for toy collectors now encompasses people ten to thirty years younger than I am.

But there are some great goodies coming out, and let’s run down some of the highlights with links and stuff

Joel and Paul, from MEGO, in front of part of the MEGO booth at Toy Fair.

As I have mentioned here before, MEGO made a triumphant return to Toy Fair after more than three decades in limbo, and showed off plenty of new product, although they had leaked much of it beforehand. Over the past couple of weeks they told MegoMuseum about 14″ version of their Star Trek and KISS figures, but at Toy Fair they were able to show them off in person, along with a few new 8″ figures, and one entire new line, Heads Up!.

MEGO also showed off 14″ tall versions of Bruce Lee, Jimi Hendrix, KISS and Star Trek, and posted images on Facebook. Plus they took the wraps off of Heads Up!, which is an inexpensive line of hi-power bouncing balls that come with stands. The balls are recognizable heads from pop culture, including Marvel Comics, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, KISS, SpongeBob Squarepants, Beavis and Butthead, South Park and others. Set to retail for under five bucks, this could be a surprise hit. It’s a cool product that doesn’t take up a lot of space, and it has recognizable characters plus play value.

You can see the Heads Up! display at right.

In a few days we’ll cover the other companies that showed 8″ MEGO-style figures at Toy Fair.

The real big trend in retro toys this year is one that, I have to confess, does not push any of my buttons. Toymakers are marrying the worst elements of the original Star Wars action figures–simple sculpts and only five points of articulation– to dozens of pop culture properties.

Some of them, to be honest, do look great, but these also seem to be designed to be kept in the package, since they don’t offer much in the way of play value. ToyArk has some of the best photos, and I suggest you visit this link to see their latest photo galleries.

Even Hasbro has jumped into this segment, reviving the Kenner brand to release Target-exclusive retro Star Wars figures that look every bit as lame as the originals. I’m sure these will provoke squees of delight from the folks who loved them as a kid. For me, it’s an easy thing to pass up.

I realize that there are people who hold this type of figure in high regard, but I just can’t count myself amongst them. To me, these recall a time when bean counters took over the toy business, and sacrficed size and articulation at the altar of profit. Profit does drive the toy industry, of course, but when I was a kid, I wanted toys that could be played with, instead of just being three-dimensional trading cards for movies and TV shows.

Mezco is getting into the game with their 5 Points line, and the stuff looks cool, but gets an easy pass from me at the same time. At Toy Fair they showed figures based on Scooby Doo, The Warriors, Space Ghost and Birdman, The Six Million Dollar Man and The Addams Family, which is based on Charles Addams’ original designs (right), and might actually pry some money out of my wallet. You can see ToyArk’s photos of these HERE.

The folks who kicked off this trend with their ReAction line (which spent a few years licensed to Funko before returning home), Super 7, showed off an impressive assortment of new licenses, which will all take the form of tiny, barely-articulated figures.

If you are a fan of Pee Wee’s Playhouse; Beavis and Butthead; Planet of The Apes; Alien, Masters of The Universe; Universal Monsters; 80’s movies They Live (prototypes seen at left), Breakin’ and Teen Wolf; metal bands Iron Maiden, Motorhead, Ghost, King Diamond, Ozzy, Megadeth, or Slayer; and a couple of other properties, then you might be tempted by these poorly-articulated figures. To be fair, many of them look really, really good, as you can see at ToyArk.

Funko is going even further into retro land with several lines of figures produced in the ludicrous He Man style, including DC Primal Age, which at least as a good comic book tie-in. You can also find Funko’s “Savage World” He Man style figures of horror icons like Freddy Kreuger, Jason Vorhees and Leatherface, as well as ThunderCats and Street Fighter. Once again, ToyArk has the photos.

PopCult will continue to update you on the latest news out of Toy Fair all week long.

The PopCult Toybox

The deluge of Toy Fair new begins. This morning we’re going to bring you a long post with lots of news, and where possible, quotes from the official press releases…

Fisher Price Does Yellow Submarine

Fisher-Price will be releasing “Little People” figures of The Beatles from Yellow Submarine later this year, as well as some classic WWE Wrestlers. This is part of Mattel’s attempt to boost Fisher-Price’s business by dipping their toes into the pop culture collectibles market.

The Yellow Submarine set will be a limited-edition four pack of figures, available this Fall for just under twenty bucks.

Get ready to rock ‘n roll with a little help from your friends John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr with this special edition celebrity Little People® figure pack.
Each member of the iconic band The Beatles is brought down to Little People® toy size with their own character figure styled with the band’s looks from “Yellow Submarine.”

Transformers Do Ghostbusters

Hasbro is releasing a Transformer that turns into The Ghostbusters Ecto 1.

Autobots, Decepticons and ghosts?! Hasbro, Inc. and Sony Pictures Consumer Products today revealed the first-ever TRANSFORMERS-Ghostbusters Collaborative figure, the ECTO-1 ECTOTRON, available at GameStop summer of 2019 and for pre-order starting February 15 at HasbroPulse.com, GameStop and EB Games Canada. This year marks the 35th anniversary of both the TRANSFORMERS brand & the original Ghostbusters film.

When fans of the iconic Ecto-1 from the 1984 Ghostbusters movie look a little closer at this nostalgic interpretation of the car, they will be treated with a new “robot in disguise” named ECTOTRON, a converting Paranormal Investigator. The figure is packed in a G1-inspired box featuring classic tech specs and comes with its own proton pack and Slimer accessory, and converts between two modes in 22 steps – a seven inch Ecto-1 vehicle and a TRANSFORMERS robot.

Alpha Does SpongeBob and WWE

Alpha Group will be releasing a slew of toys based on SpongeBob Squarepants, just in time for the beloved cartoon’s 20th anniversary.

Alpha Group will unveil the new product line at North American International Toy Fair, February 16-21 (booth #2965). Merchandise begins rolling onto retail shelves in Spring 2019. Product lines include:

COLLECTIBLE VINYL FIGURES – Designed for the older fan that has grown up with SpongeBob and now enjoys collecting figures from their favorite nostalgic shows.

Masterpiece Memes – 8-inch collectible vinyl figures bring to life fan-favorite show and movie moments that have now become some of the most popular viral memes. Featuring exceptional details and window packaging for collector displays, the Spring Masterpiece Memes figures include Mocking SpongeBob, Imaginaaation SpongeBob, Surprised Patrick, Spongegar and Handsome Squidward. For Ages 6+, SRP: $19.99

SpongePop CulturePants – The 4.5-inch vinyl collectible figures celebrate and capture iconic pop culture in a unique SpongeBob way. The Spring line includes B-Movie SpongeBob, Patrick and Dr. Plankton, based on the horror episodes from the show, as well as Old-Timey SpongeBob, Patrick and Squidward in an all-new timeless style inspired by the golden age of animation. For ages 6+, SRP: $9.99

Spongesicles – These Fall 2019 vinyl figures look just like the real SpongeBob ice pops you buy at your local ice cream truck, except they won’t melt! With four unique designs – three of them with a melted look and one perfect – which will you get? Includes removable stand. For Ages 6+, SRP: $9.99

NICKELODEON SLIME – For the first time ever, two Nickelodeon favorites come together for an epic experience, as now SpongeBob and friends get “slimed” with official Nickelodeon Slime!

Slimeez with Nickelodeon Slime – Experience the world of Bikini Bottom like never before with SpongeBob Slimeez Figures! Load each 3-inch figure with Nickelodeon Slime (included), push and watch the ooey gooey Slime ooze through the figures. Six figures arrive on shelves this Spring, each packaged with 2oz. Slime and collectible SpongeBob cube for the ultimate blind package experience. Will you find the rare Gold SpongeBob Slimeez? Seven figures debut in Fall. Ages 6+, SRP: $6.99

Plankton’s Slimetory – Get even messier with the all-new Plankton’s Slimetory playset. Featuring three colors of Nickelodeon Slime and an exclusive SpongeBob Slimeez figure, kids can mix slime colors and fling it on SpongeBob by using the catapult! Ages 6+, SRP: $19.99

TOYS WITH A TWIST – Totally wacky ways to play with SpongeBob with your friends!

StretchPants – Play with SpongeBob in a crazy new way! Stretch his arms and legs to activate over 20 unique silly sounds and phrases from SpongeBob himself! Parents, siblings and friends can join in the fun by grabbing an arm and a leg. Keep pulling to hear what he will say next! The more you pull, the funnier he gets! Available this Spring. Ages 4+, SRP: $24.99

Giggle Blaster – SpongeBob is silly and wacky and now kids can be too with the SpongeBob-styled Giggle Blaster. Featuring a real working periscope, the fun-themed blaster sprays aerosol party string (included) and shouts over 15 SpongeBob phrases and sounds. Packaged with one can of aerosol party string, and compatible with most standard size cans, the Giggle Blaster arrives in Fall. Ages 6+, SRP: $19.99

NOVELTY COLLECTIBLES – Young-and-old alike will dig playing with the novelty collectibles!

SpongeHeads – Dress up as your favorite SpongeBob SquarePants characters with the 20-inch soft, inflatable headwear! Made to fit most kid and adults heads, SpongeHeads allow fans of all ages to show off their favorite characters in a silly fashion-statement! Let the party begin! Available Spring 2019. Ages 6+, SRP: $12.99

ALL-NEW PLUSH CHARACTERS – From 4-inch clip-on collectibles, 6-inch minis and an assortment of interactive and squeezable plush, new SpongeBob SquarePants plush roll out beginning this Spring.

Mini Plush – Bring Bikini Bottom to the toy collection with these soft, 6-inch Mini Plush friends! These adorable little SpongeBob characters are perfect for play and display. Six characters debut in Spring. Ages 4+, SRP: $7.99

Exsqueeze Me Plush – The 8-inch Exsqueeze Me Interactive Plush burp and fart! Fans will love to squeeze and laugh with these soft, plush pals. Coming in two waves, each featuring SpongeBob and Patrick: Spring 2019 and Fall 2019. Ages 4+, SRP: $14.99

Huggable Plush – A new huggable plush of favorite SpongeBob characters arrive this Fall including Doe Eye SpongeBob, SpongeBob with Glasses, Patrick and Plankton. Ages 4+, SRP: $19.99

SpongeBob LaughPants- Celebrate SpongeBob SquarePants’ 20th anniversary with the soft, huggable joke-telling +17-inch plush. Among his many jokes and wacky sounds: “How did Patrick do on his bubble test?” “He blew it!” Featuring articulated arms and hips, and premium material including real pleather shoes and belt, SpongeBob LaughPants debuts in Fall. Ages 6+, SRP: $39.99

Alpha will also partner with WWE for a line of giant inflatable things with which kids can pummel one another…

Cushioned and safe, WWE AirNormous line of inflatables allows kids to bring WWE action home for hours of fun whether indoors, outdoors, at parties or events. Debuting this fall, the line is designed for kids ages 4+ and includes:

AIRNORMOUS BIG BASH PROPS – These enormous WWE props include a sledgehammer, fire extinguisher or microphone. Based on actual props used by Superstars such as John Cena, Seth Rollins and Triple H, these props tower over three feet tall. Each sold separately.

Ages 4+, SRP: $9.99

AIRNORMOUS SUPER SLAMMIN’ FISTS – Show off with these Super Slammin’ fists that are bigger than any WWE Superstars’!

Ages 4+, SRP: $9.99

AIRNORMOUS DELUXE MUSCLE ARMS – Inspired by WWE Superstar John Cena, these oversized muscle arms bring more to the party with their realistic ringside sounds and famous John Cena phrases. Ages 4+, SRP: $19.99 (3 AAA batteries required)

“We’re thrilled WWE is the first AirNormous licensed partner,” said Matthew Sherman, Director Global Brand Marketing at Alpha Group US. “From its size, to its inherent play patterns, the sports entertainment brand perfectly complements AirNormous.”

Check back for more Toy Fair updates all weekend long in PopCult.

This week we head back to late October, 2012, for an example of how your PopCulteer and humble Radio Free Charleston host can make something out of nothing. For reasons I don’t exactly recall, but which probably had to do with a grueling schedule taking care of my late uncle, we didn’t do a new Halloween episode in 2012. Instead, I assembled “Skull Shirt,” a one- hour-five-minute compilation show that presented highlights from the first five years worth of Radio Free Charleston Halloween specials. We made up for it the next week, with a show largely recorded at the very first ShockaCon.

Representing our first Halloween special, music-wise, we had half of The Pistol Whippers, Brian Holstine and Bobby Peyton, performing an acoustic version of a classic Whippers punk tune that I keep forgetting the title of. This was one of the highlights of episode eight. Over the end credits of this compilation, you will hear Whistlepunk with “Vampire Love Song.” Whistlepunk was the very first band we had on Radio Free Charleston and this song from episode seven was actually recorded during the same sessions as their song on our first show.

Speaking of Whistlepunk, in 2007, just in time for RFC 29, the now-five-member Whistlepunk hosted a Halloween party at Capitol Roasters and we brazenly hijacked it. You’ll see a few clips from the party, with some costumed party-goers, and you will also see the music video for “Horror Movie Gangster” by Lil Guy from South Park Enterprises. This was the first rap video on Radio Free Charleston and also the first video that was edited, mixed, and finished after the host segments of the show were done. It’s also a great song and a fun video shot in grainy black and white at Spring Hill Cemetary.

In 2008, we were so filled with the Halloween spirit that our two part Halloween special (RFC 54 and 55) grew a third appendage (RFC 64) which didn’t show up until April Fools Day the following year. These three episodes together comprise Radio Free Charleston Horror Theatre and include appearances (mostly in zombie form) by Kitty Killton, Liz McCormick, Brian Young, Melanie Larch, Alan Young, Stephen Beckner, and Mark Beckner. I became “Count Rudolph.” These episodes were loads of fun and feature the most extensive use of green screen technology in the history of Radio Free Charleston.

This episode offers up two musical treats from these jam-packed shows. First we have “Planet Of The Psychotic Women,” a great lost Go Van Gogh music video which combined footage shot by Stephen Beckner in 1991 with a vintage live performance of the band shot by yours truly, also assembled and edited by yours truly in 2008. After that, we had Hellblinki (also known as The Hellblinki Sextet) with “Don’t Go Down To The Woods,” a live performance recorded at The Blue Parrot.

RFC 85, in 2009, was our longest episode to date, running over thirty minutes and incorporating one of the most fun sketches we’ve had on the show. I signed up with the “Big Buddy” organization to take two underprivileged kids trick or treating and things didn’t turn out exactly as they’d hoped. The kids were Mandy Petry and Jeff Bukovinsky of The No Pants Players and we also had appearances by Duncan Stokes of the NPP, along with Amy Williams and Mark Wolfe. Of special note is RFC’s Resident Diva, Melanie Larch, as “Malice Orr.”

Representing RFC 85, we have two memorable performances. First, Unknown Hinson, with “Silver Platter,” recorded live at The Sound Factory. The Kang of Country Western Troubadours was in vintage form, and getting him for the show was a major coup.

This compilation also features a very cool video by Flare Baroshi, “Vampire Mafia,” co-directed by Flare Baroshi and yours truly, and filmed on the two abandoned floors of desolation above LiveMix Studio.

The original plan for 2010 was to produce an entire movie and post it as our Halloween show. That didn’t happen and “Jazz From Hell” remains our unfinished epic. For this show, I included the trailer for “Jazz From Hell” so you can see that it’s pretty much your everyday, run of the mill mad scientist-creates-pot-that-turns-people-into-zombie-jazz-musicians.

Our host segments for this “best of” show were shot at a cemetary which shall remain nameless. Our title shirt was on sale at Penney’s, I think. I can’t really remember. Oh, since the orignal shows were in the standard aspect ration, we dumped the widescreen for this episode.




Brief Notes On A Nice Night At Home

The PopCulteer
February 15, 2019

Your PopCulteer was snowed in this week. Not by actual snow, but by paying work and computer issues.

So this week the PopCulteer is going to be quick random stuff that I crank out off the top of my head.

First off, despite the looming deadlines, Mr. and Mrs. PopCulteer had a wonderful Valentine’s evening. We watched one of my gifts from my lovely wife, Teen Titans Go To The Movies, which was hilarious and a real treat for any comic book nerd. Plus, it’s nice for this DC fan to see that Stan Lee’s final cameo released while he was still living was in a DC movie.

Seriously, comic book fans will want to watch this repeatedly to catch all the obscure riffs and references, from people not knowing The Challengers of the Unknown, to pranking Swamp Thing to spoofing the entire idea of super hero movies. They even get in digs at Deadpool, the Marvel character and hit movie, which was ripped off of the main villain used here, Deathstroke.

I think I surprised my wife though, when a block of about fifty names came up under “special thanks” in the credits, and I was able to tell her what each one of them had done, especially since some of them created characters who were only seen on screen in the background for a few seconds.

After that we watched Christopher Guest’s Mascots, which debuted on Netflix back in 2016, before we subscribed to the service. It’s in the format of Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show, but this time set at a World Mascot Competition. It’s pretty hysterical in places, if quite a bit gentler in its approach than Guest’s earlier films.

The film was unjustly panned when it came out. The truth is it’s a good addition to Guest’s mockumentary oeuvre. Some of his regular crew are on hand, like Parker Posey, Fred Willard, Bob Balaban and Jennifer Coolidge, plus there are newcomers like Chris O’Dowd, from The IT Crowd and Get Shorty. An added bonus is that Guest reprises his role as “Corky St. Clair” from Waiting For Guffman.

We got a kick out of it, and kept wondering if Dale Morton knew about it.

Two great, fun movies, Graziano’s pizza and Valentine’s cake made for a nice, laid-back evening.

Meanwhile, your PopCulteer is also gearing up to bring you reports from Toy Fair this weekend. I’ll be posting some longer reports, but I’ll also link to some other great online sources and epic photo essays from folks on the scene.

And with that, after a long week with many deadlines, we will put this brief PopCulteer to rest. Check back all weekend for our regular features and our bonus Toy Fair coverage.

The PopCult Toybox

Factory Entertainment, Inc., announced this week that the company has entered into a multi-year licensing agreement with Apple Corps Limited to once again produce collectibles based on the legendary musical group The Beatles and their landmark animated film, Yellow Submarine.

In the past, Factory produced some really cool items like the Alex Ross Yellow Submarine tin totes (seen right), and that relationship has been renewed. Factory Entertainment expects to release its first new Beatles collectibles in early 2019. Product categories include: Collectible metal miniatures; Plush (seen below in prototype form); Statues; Tin Totes; Towels; Bath Toys; Keychains; and Bottle Openers.

All products will be available on Factory Entertainment’s website as well as from various online and brick and mortar retailers.

“We are incredibly proud to again be working with Apple Corps to produce a line of high-quality Beatles collectibles” said Jordan Schwartz, President and CEO of Factory Entertainment. “Not only do we plan to revisit some of our ”greatest hits,” but we will be debuting new items that are sure to please Beatles fans of every age. As fans ourselves, we consider the opportunity to produce Beatles products a tremendous privilege.”

Not content with that, Factory has also entered into a multi-year licensing agreement with CBS Consumer Products to produce collectibles for all Star Trek movie and TV titles.

Factory Entertainment expects to release its first new Star Trek collectibles in Summer 2019. Product categories include: KUZOS™ Collectible Metal Miniatures; REVOS™ Stylized Vinyl Figures; Pawzplay™ Collector Plush; Desktop Environments; Bottle Openers; and Wine Stoppers. We don’t have any images for these yet, but they may unveil some at Toy Fair this weekend.

“As lifelong fans, we are incredibly thrilled to be partnering with CBS Consumer Products to create new Star Trekcollectibles,” said Jordan Schwartz, President and CEO of Factory Entertainment. “We’re particularly excited to bring the iconic Star Trekcharacters and imagery to Factory Entertainment’s proprietary KUZO™, REVO™ and Pawzplay™ lines.”

Factory Entertainment’s Star Trek collectibles will also be sold on their website, and at various retailers.

Love Is In The Air On The AIR

Two of our shows offer up new Valentine’s Day treats a day early on our sister internet radio station The AIR, as Beatles Blast and Curtain Call fill the air with love. You can listen at the website, or on this embedded radio player…

Wednesday at 2 PM an all-new Beatles Blast presents a love-themed mixtape, as we bring you nearly an hour of loves songs by The Beatles as a group and solo, along with some terrific covers of the Fab Four’s romantic classics.

Beatles Blast offers up a new episode every Wednesday at 2 PM, with replays Thursdays at 9 PM, Saturday afternoons, and Sunday at 5 PM, exclusively on The AIR.

Then at 3 PM, Mel Larch rounds up an hour of love songs from the stage for a special romantic edition of Curtain Call.  You’ll hear loves ongs from shows like The Lion King, Fun Home, Aspects of Love, Fiddler on The Roof, Anything Goes and more, and peformances by Linda Rondstadt, Michael Ball, The Beatles, Art Garfunkel, Betty Buckley and Ella Fitzgerald, among many others.  Mel’s introductions explain why these tunes are among her favorite love songs.

Curtain Call can be heard Wednesday at 3 PM, with replays Thursday at 7 AM and 8 PM and Saturday at 6 PM. An all-night marathon of Curtain Call episodes can be heard Wednesday nights, beginning at Midnight.

Also, remember that at 1 PM and 7 PM Wednesday you can hear a tribute to The Earl of Elkview as we replay The Relax Radio Show on The AIR.

Toy Fair Bombshells Start Dropping Early

The Intertaional Toy Fair in New York begins Saturday, but this is when companies start dropping their big news, and today we’ve had a couple of bombshells so far.

IGN reports that McFarlane Toys has been granted the license to produce collectible action figures from six to twelve inches tall, based on DC Comics comics, movies and television shows, along with corresponding vehicles and accessories. The report uses the term “Multiverse,” which was the name used for Mattel’s collectible line of DC Comics figures.  This deal begins in 2020, so we aren’t likely to see anything or know any details until next year’s Toy Fair, but it is an interesting move.

This likely means that the Spin Master deal, which we told you about late last year, will likely only cover DC Comics action figures that are aimed at the kid’s market, like the Mattel True Moves 12″ figures, or the upcoming Batman Knight Missions and Justice League lines from Mattel.

Many fans of the DC Multiverse line were wondering what the change of licenses meant, and now it means that the license for DC Comics action figures has been split between two companies. Most likely, the Spin Master figures will sell for ten dollars or less, while the McFarlane Toys figures will sell for twenty bucks and up.

This is a real surprise since Todd McFarlane, who owns McFarlane Toys, is one of the founders of Image Comics, one of DC’s competitors. Before creating Spawn, and co-founding Image, McFarlane drew comics for DC and Marvel, notably Spider-man and The Hulk for Marvel, but also Batman, Invasion and Infinity Inc. for DC. It will be interesting to see if McFarlane expands his toy company to handle the extra business, or if he cuts loose some of his other toy licenses, like The Walking Dead and Call of Duty.

In retrospect, it may not be that big a surprise. McFarlane handles Game of Thrones, and just scored the license for Harry Potter and Wizarding World, and both of those are adminstered by Warner Brothers Consumer Products, who also run DC Comics’ licensing business. So this may have been in the cards.

At Toy Fair, McFarlane will be showing off his newly-acquired licenses for Game of Thrones and Fortnite among others. The DC Comics license does not start until 2020.

Also today comes news that Diamond Select Toys, the toy arm of Diamond Comic Distributors, has purchased collectible figure maker, Gentle Giant Ltd. Let’s go to the press release:

Beginning February 1, Diamond Select Toys and Collectibles, LLC, will assume operations for all of Gentle Giant’s existing licenses, and release previously developed and newly created busts, statues and scaled-up vintage action figures. Any in-progress and future products will be offered to retailers through the Previews catalog, published by DST’s sister company Diamond Comic Distributors.

Gentle Giant’s collector club, the Premier Guild, will continue to operate, with exclusive items for members and reserved access to certain products. DST has pledged to fulfill any outstanding exclusives and rewards to current members, and to expand on the club’s scope going forward.

“This is a great moment for DST,” said Diamond Comic Distributors owner Steve Geppi. “The unification of many of Gentle Giant’s licenses and built-in fan base with DST’s sales and distribution channels is a recipe for success. Two wonderful companies uniting talents to produce the best of the best.  I am confident the final product will be well received by both companies’ wonderful supporters and customers.”

“It is a great honor for Gentle Giant to continue our strong creative relationship with Diamond,” said Karl Meyer, VP of Entertainment at 3D Systems. “With great pleasure, I am personally thrilled to have DST uphold the Gentle Giant Ltd brand and work with our artists in bringing entertainment magic from the screen to the collectors’ hands.”

“I have been a longtime fan of Gentle Giant’s products, and I am excited to continue their legacy,” said DST president Chuck Terceira. “Once we’re up and running, we plan to deliver seamless service of existing product lines, so expect to see the same level of quality, with the added bonus of DST’s broad distribution.”

In addition to resin busts and statues, DST produces Gallery PVC Dioramas, Select action figures, Minimates mini-figures, Vinimates vinyl figures, D-Formz PVC figures, prop replicas and vinyl banks.

This is a bit of a surprise, but not really a shock, since the two companies are compatible, and Gentle Giant was dependent on Diamond Select for much of their distribution anyway.

We’ll have more pre-Toy Fair news all week.


West Virginia lost a treasure last week with the passing of George Daugherty, who was better known as The Earl of Elkview. George was a singer, songwriter, stage performer, music educator and historian and a mentor to many, and this week, with the kind permission of his family, The AIR will present The Relax Radio Show, a one-hour program created by The Earl and his friend, Buddy Griffith. You can listen to it Tuesday at Noon and 8 PM on The AIR, which can be heard at the AIR website, or right on this embedded player…

Billed as “A semi-live recording of songs, poems ad stories by wVirginia’s official Yankee Doodle Dandy,” The Relax Radio Show includes such classics as “Someone Rubbed The Mayor The Wrong Way,” “West Virginia Comin’ Back Halleleujah Marchin’ Band,” and “Jimmy Carter’s Sister Saved My Soul.”

The Relax Radio Show will run Tuesday at Noon and 8 PM, with replays Wednesday at 1 PM and 7 PM, Thursday at 11 PM, Friday at 11 AM and Saturday at 8 PM. All times EST.

Also on The AIR Tuesday, at 10 AM and 10 PM, it’s part two of Radio Free Charleston‘s archival presentation of a night at LiveMix Studio, recorded almost exactly ten years ago.

This week we present the second of a two-part “Night at Livemix Studio.”  LiveMix Studio was our production partner when we revived RFC as a video program (AKA “RFC Volume 2) and for a time, the studio space also operated as a performance venue. In last week’s show and continuing this week we take you back to February 13, 2009, about ten years ago, for a pre-Valentine’s concert featuring several LiveMix Studio bands. Last week you heard the Electro-fusion-funk of Electro Biscuit, featuring LiveMix partners Greg Wegmann, Kai Haynes and Brian Young, and Whistlepunk, which also featured Brian Young, along with Spencer Elliott and Dan Jordan (and Karen Allen singing on one song).

This week we bring you Stephen Beckner, Karen Allen with Sean Richardson (before they named themselves “Tofujitsu”) and Philip Washington. All this year we’re celebrating 30 years of Radio Free Charleston, and there was no way we could go without mentioning LiveMix. Without them, we never would have had an “Act II.” You can hear a replay of part one of our LiveMix special Tuesday at 11 AM and 9 PM.

Radio Free Charleston can be heard Tuesday at 10 AM and 10 PM, with replays Thursday at 2 PM, Friday at 8 PM, Saturday at noon and Midnight, and Sunday at 3 PM exclusively on The AIR.

At 3 PM your PopCulteer returns to host a new hour of The Swing Shift as we continue to bring you the best Swing Music of the last century. This week we present an assortment of Swing love songs, presented in a one-hour “mixtape” format. You see, it’s Valentine’s Week, and we had to do something to mark the occasion.

It’s still our great selection that runs the gamut from current European revivalists to classics from the Golden Age to Elektro-Swing, 90’s revivalists and more. This includes tunes from The Brian Setzer Orchestra, Ella Fitzgeraled and Louis Armstrong, The Royal Crown Revue, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and many, many more.

You can hear The Swing Shift Tuesday at 3 PM, with replays Wednesday at 7 AM, Thursday at 7 PM and Saturday at 9 AM, only on The AIR. You can also hear all-night marathons, seven hours each, starting at Midnight Thursday and Sunday evenings.