PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

Prime Day Balloon Deals

A couple of years ago I told you about Bunch O Balloons, a cool new way to rapidly inflate balloons with a pump, or fill them with water. We showed you the pump in action in this video.

Prime Day is still happening at Amazon, and they have a couple of great deals on the Bunch O Balloons water balloons. If you want to spend your summer surprising your guests with water balloons, this is the time to stock up!

The first deal gets you 350 rapid-fill water balloons, while the second deal gets you 330. Either way, you’re going to wind up armed with over three hundred easy-to-fill water balloons. That’s 30% off Amazon’s regular price.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, the “go-to” water balloon around the globe that fills and ties 100 balloons in 60 seconds are now 100% recyclable.

ZURU Bunch O Balloons, the original and best-selling water balloons are now made using recyclable plastics, which has led to over 1,200 tons of plastic being removed from this brand this year, a 57% increase over the company’s original goal of 800 tons set last year. In addition, balloons are made of natural latex rubber and biodegrade, further delivering on environmentally and sustainable practices.

With Crazy ZURU Bunch O Balloons Water, each stem comes with a completely new mix of multi-colored balloons for added backyard water excitement. All ZURU Bunch O Balloons products in the USA, Canada, U.K., Australia and New Zealand will be fully recyclable through their new TerraCycle Recycling program. Consumers simply sign-up online, package all their used Bunch O Balloons packaging and balloon pieces then ship to TerraCycle, where they will then be processed and recycled into new materials.

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Powerless

As you may know, PopCult has a sister internet radio station, The AIR. You can find it at its own website, or listen to it on the handy-dandy embedded player that you can find right here…

We had planned to return with all new programming this week now that our servers are all upgraded, bright and shiny and looking brand-new.  But yesterday, as I prepared to record Radio Free Charleston and The Swing Shift, storms moved into the area and your PopCulteer was afflicted with a series of brief power outages that made producing new radio shows impossible. Luckily, we didn’t get a long-lasting outage, but the flickering on and off rendered the computer I use for the show fairly useless.

Now, it has been scientifically determined that all of our encore programs are at least 150% cooler than any other radio programming on the planet, so even our reruns are worth giving a listen. You are still free to tune in at will.  Tuesday our music specialty shows will be repeats, but we plan to have new stuff later in the week, and I will move heaven and earth to bring you three hours of new RFC next week.

In the meantime, now that the power is staying on for more than ten minutes in a row, I’m going to work on a video of last weekend’s Marx Toy Convention for Wednesday or Thursday, and later today we’ll have an update on a sale price on a cool toy I told you about a few years ago.

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Monday Morning Art: Imaginary Flowers Redux

 

This week I decided to revisit an old piece and try out a new technique.

About twelve years ago I did a drawing in my sketchbook while listening to live music at Taylor Books. It was really just a glorified doodle that I wasn’t paying much attention to while I was working on it. This was around the time that Myasthenia Gravis began attacking my fingers, which is why the cross-hatching is so sloppy, as you can see at right. A few days later I painted over it digitally, and used it as an entry in Monday Morning Art.

I found the original scan the other day, and decided to try something new with it. I printed it out on photo paper, and painted in real-world style. I used some thick, gloppy old acrylics and wound up with some pretty wild accidental textures as it reacted with the glossy coating on the paper. The printout was about half the size of the original drawing, and I discovered that, using a small amount of thinner, I could “warp” the image a little.

I don’t know if I consider it a rousing success, but I do think it’s an interesting approach, and it definitely has some potential. The image you see above is a photo because it wasn’t dry enough to stick in the scanner. There’s some minor color correction.

If you want to see it bigger, just click on the image.

Meanwhile, Monday at 2 PM on The AIR, we bring you a new episode of  Psychedelic Shack, followed at 3 PM by a new edition of Herman Linte’s weekly showcase of the Progressive Rock of the past half-century, Prognosis.  You can listen to The AIR at the website, or on the embedded radio player right here…

Neither of our friends from Haversham Recording Institute gave us a full playlist this week. Their shows will probably go on a brief summer hiatus while they are otherwise occupied providing translation services for the Olympic Games.

However, Nigel Pye has informed us that Psychedelic Shack will open with a “really groovy tune” from Jimi Hendrix. Psychedelic Shack can now be heard every Monday at 2 PM, with replays Tuesday at 9 AM, Wednesday at 10 PM, Friday at 1 PM,  and Saturday at 9 AM. Classic episodes can be heard Sunday at 9 AM as part of our Sunday Haversham Recording Institute collection.

At 3 PM, Herman Linte offers up a new Prognosis, which will focus on the criminally-overlooked 1970s Prog band, Patto.  You can hear Prognosis on The AIR Monday at 3 PM, with replays Tuesday at 7 AM, Wednesday at 8 PM, Thursday at Noon, and Saturday at 10 AM. You can hear two classic episodes of the show Sunday at 2 PM.

At 7 PM, stick around for a 12-hour marathon of Live and Local music, featuring Go Van Gogh, Hybrid Soul, Groove Heavy, Low Cut Connie, C2J2 and more

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Last week I told you about Vlad & Niki Super Hero Surprise, and as promised, today we have an unboxing video, so you can see your PopCulteer ripping open one of the Surprise eggs to check out the treasures inside.

Vlad & Niki Super Hero Surprise will be available exclusively at Target in the US, beginning JUne 21. We’ll update this post with a link once they go on sale, and be sure to check PopCult later this week for photos and video from The Marx Toy Convention!

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The RFC Flashback: MINI SHOW number 60

This week we jump back to the end of May, 2015, for an RFC MINI SHOW starring The Scrap Iron Pickers.

The Scrap Iron Pickers were an all-star progressive metal trio, based in the Charleston area, who released one killer CD and had many memorable live shows. Jason “Roadblock” Robinson anchored the band on bass. John Sizemore provided pyrotechnics with his guitar. Keeping the beat on drums was none other than Matt Wolfe, the drummer for the legendary West Virginia metal band, Byzantine.

These two songs were captured on the first night of Mission Coalition, a two-day metal show with tons of great bands that was organized by Roadblock in September, 2011.  Back then, I shot so much video for Radio Free Charleston that some of it sat around on various hard drives for years.

Any time these guys want to reunite, I’ll be happy to plug their shows in PopCult and shoot video. I loved this band’s music.

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One last look at WonderFest

The PopCulteer
June 18, 2021

Your PopCulteer is in Wheeling, basking in the joys of the Marx Toy Convention, but you lucky people get to go back a couple of weeks to WonderFest 2021, which happened in Louisville.

I’ve already brought you photo essays of WonderFest in general, plus pictures of the model vehicles, heroes and monsters. Plus we had a cool, unplanned video.

Today we’re going to look at the remainder of my meager selection of not-too-blurry photos. If you read the earlier posts you know that I had camera and hand mishaps, and more than half the photos I took were unusable.

Still, you will get a glimpse of some of the cool dioramas and props, and we’ll bring you some of the cheesecake models, including a Vampirella section and a few other examples of the sexy female form, captured in plastic and paint.

Captions will be at a minimum, so if you see a photo with no caption, and don’t know what the hell it is, chances are I don’t know either. Like that big cool thing above right. I think it’s a demon vomiting into the brain of a guy eating a sandwich, but it’s probably from a movie or TV show or something.

On with the photos…

Possibly my favorite thing in the model contest room was this monster building a model of himself to add to his collection of cool monsters.
Trek busts. They looked like part of a cool giant chess set.
What better use for a small blown amp than to house a Jethro Tull diorama?
This is one side of a fantastic two-sided diorama of Snow White and the Evil Queen.
Sadly, I did not get a decent photo of the other side.

The Cheesecake Factor

A big segment of the model-building hobby consists of model kits of lovely young women. Here’s an assortment, starting off with a trio of Vampirellas.  She was, by far, the most-modeled character at the show, edging out Batman and The Creature From The Black Lagoon.

 

 

 

Wednesday Addams, all grown up.
Vampira, from Plan 9 From Outer Space
A cartoony Elvira
A heavily-armed, patriotic young woman in a see-thru bikini.
Looks like tomorrow is another Captain America shirt day. (phrase courtesy of Bill Lynch)
Don’t mess with the well-armed lady wearing assless chaps.

 

 

With that we wrap up our WonderFest coverage…except for photos of the stuff I bought there, which might show up next week in this space. Check back with PopCult for all our regular features and fresh content every day.

Special note: PopCult may disappear from this location at The Charleston Gazette-Mail soon. Don’t miss out on our new posts at our NEW HOME. Bookmark the new site, and subscribe to our RSS feed. You can also follow PopCult and Rudy Panucci on social media at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The Marx Toy Convention Returns Friday!

After one year off due to the pandemic, Marx Toy Convention is happening again this year, and it happens Friday and Saturday at  The Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum in Wheeling.  Your PopCulteer is thrilled to be going to this toy show, which is one of the most enjoyable in the country. I can confess now that last year, in the middle of the pandemic, a small group of convention regulars, including yours truly, kept our hotel reservations and gathered for an informal get-together, where we got to see each other and buy and trade toys while trying to stay as safe as possible. It was a sanity-preserving trip, but it wasn’t a real substitute for the actual convention.

This year, we’re running up for the first day, then we’ll make a brief stop in Moundsville where Francis Turner will re-open the Marx Toy Musuem for one night only for a private sale. Then we have to skitter off for a top-secret adventure. However, if you can’t make it up Friday, give Saturday a shot. What better way is there to spend the day before Father’s day than visiting The Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum and maybe buying Dad some of the toys he cherished as a child?

This is seriously one of the most fun toy shows there is. A few years ago I compiled an index to all the Marx Toy coverage I’ve featured here in PopCult. Since then we’ve left the Gazette-Mail and have new URLs, so here’s a revised and updated index to Marx Toys in PopCult…

Just about every time I’ve gone, I’ve brought you photos or videos or words to show how cool this event is. As promised, today wer’e going to provide a casually-assorted index with links to the best of our coverage of the Marx Toy Convention.

Before we jump into that, I want to bring you a link to a post I did many years ago to show some of the sights you can see at the museum. In 2010, back when Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum played host to both The Marx Toy Convention and MEGO Meet, I posted a photo essay to give my readers a hint of what the museum is like. This museum is really a treasure, and anyone travelling the Northern Panhandle should make it a point to stop by. They have all kinds of toys, and you will get a nostalgia rush like you’ve never felt before.

On to the convention coverage:

We didn’t have a convention, per se, last year, but I did get to review what was planned to be the convention figure.

The most recent official Marx Toy Convention was in 2019, and I posted a photo essay and a quick video HERE.  In 2018 I posted a very late photo essay and a  slightly more timely video.

In 2017 I brought you video and photos in a couple of different posts, which you can see HERE and HERE. I also did a thorough rundown of the show in 2016.

2015 marked the 50th anniversary of Johnny West, and at Kruger Street they had a special exhibit, curated by Scott Stewart, who presented a lecture. You can see the preview post HERE.

This was also the year that James Wozniak, Stewart and Terri Coop teamed up to create a 50th Anniversary Johnny West figure, and Suzanne Hackett Morgan assembled a video made up of photos of the new Johnny from collectors all over the country. You can watch both videos in THIS POST, and read that year’s preview HERE.

In 2014 we took Lee Harrah and Mark Wolfe to Wheeling with us, and Mark provided the ultra-cool photos of Kruger Street in his incredible photographic style. The first time I covered The Marx Toy Convention proper was in 2013, although I’m pretty sure that I’d been going since 2009.  See, back then I was sort of killing myself producing video of FestivAll for Radio Free Charleston, so my visits to the Marx Toy Convention were usually just a quick drive to Wheeling, visit and buy stuff for an hour, then drive back, so I didn’t have time to take many photos.

That’s most of our Marx Toy Convention coverage (minus several redundant preview posts from years past) but we also have the now-closed Marx Toy Museum to talk about.

Our first visit to the Marx Toy Museum, the brainchild of Francis Turner, was in 2012,  and we marked that momentous event with a five-part photo essay.  I took so many photos that I had to break them up into different sections: Meet The Museum; Marxism Takes Over The Toy World; Playsets and Plastic People; Girl’s Toys; and fnally my personal favorite, Johnny West and the Cowboys.

The Christmas, 2012 episode of Radio Free Charleston featured host segments recorded at The Marx Toy Museum.

In 2016 we broke the sad news that The Marx Toy Museum was going to close. We noted the closing date, but one year later, Francis opened the doors for one night for a private sale, and let everyone know that American Pickers had visited after he closed his doors. One year after that, Francis opened the museum doors one more time, and told us The Ballad of Big Loo.

Be sure to check PopCult next week because I’m sure we’ll have plenty of photos, and possibly some video from this year’s show.

Special note: PopCult may disappear from this location at The Charleston Gazette-Mail soon. Don’t miss out on our new posts at our NEW HOME. Bookmark the new site, and subscribe to our RSS feed. You can also follow PopCult and Rudy Panucci on social media at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Vlad and Niki Surprise Us With Toys

The PopCult Toybox

As my readers know, I cover pop culture here in PopCult, and I focus a lot on nostalgia for the pop culture from my childhood. But what about the pop culture of today and tomorrow? What will today’s kids be looking at fondly when they’re my age?

My guess is that they’ll be looking back at Vlad and Niki, two boys from Dubai who have one of the most successful YouTube channels in the world. The boys, (aged 8 and 6) began making unboxing videos in 2018, and have become internet superstars just by having fun. Their parents run 21 YouTube channels in 18 languagues, and their main channel has over 65 million subscribers. These kids are huge stars with today’s kids, with the #1 YouTube channel for boys, and the #2 channel for families.

The energetic videos center on the boys’ daily life adventures, which are brought to life with special effects and animation, superhero narrative, toy testing, and catchy songs. Last year, Vlad and Niki introduced Christian – the boys’ new baby brother, who is delighting in his older brother’s antics. Their mother even gets into the act in some videos.

Now, in partnership with Zuru Toys, Vlad and Niki are getting in the blind box toy business, and they’re doing it in a big way. Vlad & Niki Superhero Surprise provides a complete unboxing experience, allowing kids to bring the included comic book & the story to life! Each super-sized surprise egg features over 20 surprises including mask and cape, Super Hero Vlad and Niki figurines, Baby Christian figurine, a dinosaur or robot figurine, two die-cast car, slime egg, light up skateboard, wrist snap-band, stickers, tattoo and much more.

Vlad & Niki Superhero Surprise is packaged in a giant egg (with ears) and will be available exclusively at Target beginning June 21. You can check out Vlad and Niki’s super-fun and bizarre video of them playing with the Superhero Surprise here…

Next week your PopCulteer will get into the act with his own unboxing video of Zuru’s Vlad & Niki Superhero Surprise. You’l get to see my real-time reaction to seeing these cool toys in person for the first time. I should warn you that superheroes, dinosaurs, robots and toy cars are pretty much in my wheelhouse, so I’m really looking forward to this and may not be completely objective.

I won’t be flying around or chasing dinosaurs or anything though…not at my age.

Special note: PopCult may disappear from this location at The Charleston Gazette-Mail soon. Don’t miss out on our new posts at our NEW HOME. Bookmark the new site, and subscribe to our RSS feed. You can also follow PopCult and Rudy Panucci on social media at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

WonderFest: The Monsters

In this rather long photo essay we’re going to bring you images of some of the monsters, creatures, critters and freaks on display in the model contest room at WonderFest 2021, which took place weekend before last. As with our other photo essays, please excuse the odd blurry photo. Your humble blogger was having hand issues and camera issues, as detailed earlier, and I was not at all satisfied with my work on this.

Still, there’s plenty of cool stuff to look at here. Hit up the list of previous posts in the right column or scroll down for more of our WonderFest pictures and video. I will be posting the last batch of photos Friday.  Your PopCulteer is in a deadline crunch, and has other posts lined up for later this week, so we’ll be bringing you the climax in a few days. That post will also include a handy index to the other photo essays, since they’ve wound up spread out over a longer period than I’d planned.

For the sake of expedience and sanity, these photos are not going to be captioned. They are cool model kits, built by talented artists. That’s all you really need to know.  Enjoy the artistry…

 

Because of the size of this photo essay, we will continue with more photos after the jump.

Continue reading…

Monday Morning Art: Pencil City

 

This is another workout for my fingers, with my trusty Blackwing Palamino on airbrush paper. It’s a city scene that I had stuck in my head. I’m not certain, but I think it’s Chicago, or maybe New York. My pent up wanderlust from the pandemic year has me longing for a trip to the big city. I did not use photo reference for this, but I absolutely did use a ruler for all those straight lines.

Click the image to see it bigger.

Meanwhile, over at our sister radio station, The AIR, we are spending another weekend in reruns due to server maintainance. This week we are going to do marathons all week long.

Monday you can listen to Prognosis, with Herman Linte, from 7 AM to 7 PM. Then you can hear Psychedelic Shack, presented by Nigel Pye, from 7 PM to 7 AM the next morning.

Tuesday at 7 AM, tune in for 24 hours of Radio Free Charleston.

Wednesday you can hear Beatles Blast from 7 AM to 7 PM, and then stick around for Curtain Call, hosted by Mel Larch, from 7 PM until 7 AM the next morning.

Thursday it’s time for 24 hours of The Swing Shift, beginning at 7 AM.

Friday tune in for 24 hours of Sydney’s Big Electric Cat, presented by Sydney Fileen, starting at 7 AM.

Finally, Saturday we bring you Mel Larch’s Disco showcase, MIRRORBALL, from 7 AM to Midnight.

There is still a chance for brief signal interruptions this week, so don’t be alarmed if you encounter a few seconds of silence here and there.

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

Special note: PopCult may disappear from this location at The Charleston Gazette-Mail soon. Don’t miss out on our new posts at our NEW HOME. Bookmark the new site, and subscribe to our RSS feed. You can also follow PopCult and Rudy Panucci on social media at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.