PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

2017 PopCult Gift Guide: Woody Numbers Tribute Shirt

gg-woodyI bumped an item from the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide so that I could work in this note about Woody Numbers. Woody (Sherwood Spencer to his family) passed away last week after a grueling health crisis that saw him spend most of the last two months at Duke University in North Carolina.

Many people know Woody from his local wrestling appearances. Whether it was in IWA East Coast or All Star Wrestling or one of the other local feds, Woody was a character who left a real impression and always entertained the crowds. That’s how I met Woody and I have to be honest, we were not close buddies, but Woody always made Melanie and me feel welcome and the few times that we got to just hang out and talk were just loads of fun. Woody played the heel in and around the ring, but he was really just a sweet lovable guy who was passionate about wrestling, his favorite music and movies and loved traveling and eating well. I’m really going to miss seeing him around, and I know he will leave a huge void in the lives of his family and his friends.

Woody knew his time was almost up, and wanted to be back in West Virginia when the end came. His brothers in the 108 Dragons and IWA East Coast Wrestling moved Heaven and Earth to make that happen, and they did manage to bring Woody home a couple of days before he passed. To help with this they created a T-Shirt with the design you see to the right, which can be pre-ordered now at this link. All proceeds will go to help pay off Woody’s expenses. I’m not sure if it will be printed in time for Christmas, but that’s not really what this is about. It’s about helping out with Woody’s medical bills and final expenses while paying tribute to a guy who will be greatly missed. You can also make a donation in Woody’s memory to his GoFundMe page, to help his family.

I was in Chicago when Woody passed away and did not get a chance to say my farewell to him. I do know that he loved Chicago, and whenever I mentioned going there he’d shoot me a list of great places to eat. We bring the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide to a close with this suggestion that you do something in memory of Woody Numbers. Even if it’s just buying that cool shirt in his honor.

Tomorrow we will present the master list of every recommendation in the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide.

Starstruck: Old Proldiers Never Die
gg-starstruckby Elaine Lee (Author) Michael Kaluta (Illustrator)
IDW Publishing
ISBN-13: 978-1684050185

The next-to-last pick in the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide is actually the mass-market version of a book that I supported via Kickstarter over four and a half years ago. Starstruck: Old Proldiers Never Die collects the recent IDW mini-series, which serialized the long-awaited remastered and recolored science fiction epic, which presented the further adventures of Harry Palmer and some of the Galactic Girl Guides. This is the perfect gift for fans of the original Starstruck comic book, and will also appeal to folks who like Blade Runner, classic science fiction and even detective stories.

This is top-flight science fiction comic bookery here. Lee and Kaluta have crafted a story that blends film noir with space opera and comes up with a story that hits you right in the gut. Lee’s dialogue is witty and clever and Kaluta’s art is as incredibly detailed and wonderful as it always has been. To give you a sense of the story, here’s the publisher’s blurb:

What does a guy do when his droid goes missing? And not just any droid, an extremely rare pleasure droid that’s a dead ringer for his long-lost love! As bartender Harry Palmer–ex-rebel, ex-mercenary “proldier”–combs Rec 97, a perilous, planet-sized, vacation station, following clues and fending off enemies, he must also delve into his own past to do battle with his personal demons. Will Annie’s abductor be an old pal, a hidden foe, or two inebriated fem-fighters that frequent his bar?

Elaine Lee has had incarnations as an EMMY-nominated actress and playwright, artistic director of a theatre company (Wild Hair Productions), comic book writer and color artist, animation writer and story editor, video game writer, and art director for a music company. Specializing in sci-fi, fantasy and horror, Elaine has created six original comic series (including BrainBanx, Skin Tight Orbit, and The Transmutation of Ike Garuda). She is best known as writer/creator of Vamps. She has written animation scripts for Niolan, A-Film, and Stardust Entertainment/Hallmark Entertainment.

Michael Kaluta’s early professional art appeared in pulp magazines, and his earliest comic book work appeared in various Charlton Comics. DC Comics was Kaluta’s main focus of the 1970s; drawing interiors and, eventually, covers for their House of Mystery and House of Secrets comic books. Covers for both Detective Comics and Batman were the next step, and, eventually, the nod to draw DC Comics’ 1970s versions of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Carson of Venus and pulp icon The Shadow. The new century saw a Madame Xanadu five-issue comic book story arc, and Chaos King, a special 30-page stand-alone book in Marvel’s Chaos War.

I’ve been a fan of Starstruck for a ridiculously long time and it’s terrific to finally have this collection in my hands. The mass-market version is not vastly different from the Kickstarter edition, so be advised that you’re in for a treat with ultra-high production values and printing and a killer story and art. You ought to be able to find this book at any bookseller or well-stocked comic book shop, or go to Amazon where they have everything, usually for way less money.

The Burlesque Coloring Book  
gg-burlesqueby James Courtney, foreword by Jim Sweeney
Level Up Books
ISBN-13: 978-0998449616

The first pick on this final day of what seems like the years-long 2017 PopCult Gift Guide really puts the “adult” into “adult coloring book.” It’s The Burlesque Coloring Book, and it’s a really nice collections of illustrations even if you’re not into the whole coloring thing. This is a great gift for any burlesque afficianado, or performer on your holiday shopping list, and it’s also just perfect for anybody who likes looking at and/or coloring wonderful drawings of beautiful ladies. James Courtney has produced an incredible collection of vintage cheesecake-style drawings that you can color, if you are so inclined.

I’m going to quote liberally from the inside flap here:

“All the comedy and sexiness of a burlesque show without having to leave your house! The Burlesque Coloring Book is a fun and imaginative portrayal of burlesque in all of it’s varying styles that truly celebrates the diversity of these amazing performers! The perfect combination of art and sass!” — Deb au Nare, founder of the Burlesque Academy of Asheville “The glamour of burlesque is perfect for coloring! As a burlesque aficionado, I’m thrilled by the charm and energy in these drawings. As a coloring fiend, I adore the beautiful costuming and fine details in this book!”

— Jo Weldon, author of The Burlesque Handbook

The Burlesque Coloring Book captures not just the look and style of contemporary burlesque but also the sparkly personalities that make up today’s scene. Other adult coloring books help you relax, this one’s guaranteed to leave you more than a little worked up.”

— Dustin M. Wax, Executive Director of the Burlesque Hall of Fame

The Burlesque Coloring Book exemplifies all the spirit, sass and fun burlesque has to offer. A little bit campy and a whole lotta sexy, what better way to unwind than to spend time coloring these fabulous beauties? And…no one says you have to stay inside the lines!”

— Autumn Adamme, founder of Dark Garden Unique Corsetry

The Burlesque Coloring Book is a delightfully detailed collection of illustrations showcasing the fabulous scenery, extravagant costuming, and vibrant performers that make burlesque what it is today. Featuring over 50 real-life drawings by highly acclaimed pin-up artist James Courtney, every page of this book stands poised and ready for your choreography of color!

Those rave reviews are well-deserved, and any fan of the female form will appreciate this book. It’s printed on high-quality thick paper stock, with each coloring page is on its own separate sheet. Crayons, pencils, or even pens can be used without any bleed-through. And the variety of illustrations presented guarantees a relaxing and inspiring experience for colorists of every skill level.

Your best bet to get The Burlesque Coloring Book is through Amazon, but you might be able to find or order it from other booksellers.

You Don’t Own Me: How Mattel v. MGA Entertainment Exposed Barbie’s Dark Side
gg-barbie-bratzby Orly Lobel
W. W. Norton & Company
ISBN-13: 978-0393254075

Our book recommendation for today’s 2017 PopCult Gift Guide is yet another book about toys. This time it’s about the dark side of the toy industry, the battle between Mattel, the makers of the iconic Barbie doll, and MGA, the company that created the Bratz dolls. It was not just a war over best-selling toys, but a war over who owns ideas.This is a great gift for any die-hard fan of fashion dolls, but it’s also perfect for anybody with an interest in intellectual property rights and legal maneuvering.

When Carter Bryant began designing what would become the billion-dollar line of Bratz dolls, he was taking time off from his job at Mattel, where he designed outfits for Barbie. Later, back at Mattel, he sold his concept for Bratz to rival company MGA. In You Don’t Own Me, law professor Orly Lobel reveals the colorful story behind the ensuing decade-long court battle.

This entertaining and provocative work pits audacious MGA against behemoth Mattel, shows how an idea turns into a product, and explores the two different versions of womanhood, represented by traditional all-American Barbie and her defiant, anti-establishment rival, Bratz―the only doll to come close to outselling her. In an era when workers may be asked to sign contracts granting their employers the rights to and income resulting from their ideas―whether conceived during work hours or on their own time―Lobel’s deeply researched story is a riveting and thought-provoking contribution to the contentious debate over creativity and intellectual property.

The series of lawsuits in question bounced from court to court, and practically killed Bratz by blocking them from stores for a couple of years right at the height of their popularity, which lead to Barbie losing in court, but winning at retail.

Orly Lobel is an award-winning author and a renowned legal scholar. A graduate of Harvard University, she was recently named one of the top minds in research by The Market Magazine. Her books and research are critically acclaimed and have been featured in top media including the New York Times. the Economist, the Wall Street Journal, the Harvard Business Review, Bloomberg, NPR and TED. In You Don’t Own Me, Lobel presents what could be a complex and at time boring subject in a vivid and engrossing manner that pulls you in almost like a Perry Mason story.

You should be able to order You Don’t Own Me from any bookseller using the ISBN number, or go to Amazon where it’s on sale for almost half the suggested retail price.

gg-jlaNext up in the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide is an animated treasure that’s perfect for the superhero fan on your holiday shopping list. This inexpensive two-disc set contains the first 26 episodes of the excellent Justice League Action cartoon, which Cartoon Network has inexplicably buried in a very-early Saturday morning timeslot. Each episode is eleven minutes long and stars a gigantic roster of DC Comics’s greatest heroes, with quite a few obscure surprises thrown in along the way.

Justice League Action takes an approach similar to Batman: The Brave and the Bold, which is a more light-hearted and enjoyable presentation of the DC Universe. It’s fast-paced and exciting, filled with humor and it features an all-star cast.

Mark Hamill returns as The Joker, pitted against Kevin Conroy’s Batman. Hamill also voices Swamp Thing. James Woods is on hand. Patton Oswalt voices Space Cabbie. Carl Reiner is the Wizard, Shazam. Other voice actors include Sean Astin, Jerry O’Connell, Gary Cole, Jon Cryer, Cloris Leachman, Dana Snyder, Jon Lovitz  and dozens of others.

The series is more cartoony than the classic Justice League Unlimited series, but it’s loads of fun and much of the production team is made up of veterans of the classic DC Animated Universe series, including Paul Dini, who is credited as a writer on eleven episodes.

Justice League Action is one of those series that could very well be a major hit if only Cartoon Network would show it on weekdays after school instead of burying it in a weekend death slot.  The DVD collects the first half of the first season, and I believe that Warner Brothers is committed to producing at least two full seasons, so this is a great way to get in on the ground floor, and it’s a terrific gift for the fan of the DC Animated Universe who may not even know that the show exists. You can order it from Amazon.

gg-eggOur toy pick in the penultimate day of the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide is Egg Babies, a new toy for young kids that combines the joy of blind-box collectible fun with the cuteness of plush and the sheer enjoyment of breaking stuff. This is a great gift for kids, ages three and up, who like to be surprised.

Egg Babies are colorful Styrofoam eggs with a “FUR”-endly surprise inside that’s just waiting to hatch. Kids simply crack the egg open to reveal one of six adorable, soft and cuddly characters, each with a unique personality.

The eggs are made of styrofoam and break open easily. In fact, it might be harder to get them out of the package than it is for kids to open the egg. This is just such a fun concept, and kids are sure to fall in love with the idea of “hatching” their new plush friends.

Characters include: Turtellini, an out-going and caring turtle who loves to share treats; Patches, an energetic and active pup who’s mastered the art of true sportsmanship; Bubble Gum, a confident little bunny who expresses herself through music; Kiwi, an extrovert and drama chick who loves the spotlight; Snowflake, the sweet and lovable kitty who makes new friends wherever she goes; and Hamlet, a cheeky and mischievous pig who’s known for stirring up a little trouble. You may notice from the package that Snowflake is the “mystery” Egg Baby.

Kids can easily crack the Egg Babies open to enjoy the “eggcitement” of what’s inside, and at an affordable price around ten bucks each, young collectors are sure to add more than just one to their holiday wish lists. Each egg measures 6”H x 4.25”W and the plush character is approximately 3.5”W x 4”H.

This is a terrific stocking stufffer for the plush-loving kid of almost any age, and it could turn them into a collector, so be prepared and get several.

You can find Egg Babies at most toy retailers, or visit Amazon, where they seem to cost a little more, and you’ll want to order quick to make sure you get them in time for Christmas.



2017 PopCult Gift Guide: Local Music

gg-local-musicToday the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide is devoted to local music, made here in West Virginia. I’ve already covered a few notable albums, but there’s plenty to talk about, and much of this music is only available as downloads. I will post links to every album I list here, but be advised that, if there are physical copies, and I don’t provide a link to where you can order them, you may have luck at Budget Tapes & Records, Sullivan’s Records, or Taylor Books. Also be advised that many of these albums are available from iTunes, but since I have not assimilated into the world of Apple, it’s hard for me to get those links.I’m still trying to get used to this post-physical-objects world we now find ourselves in.

I’ve been a supporter of the local music scene for nearly thirty years, as the host of Radio Free Charleston, and also as the author of the PopCult blog, so devoting a day to this topic shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.

In no particular order, here’s a list of great recently-released local albums:

John Radcliff “Stupid Mind”

John Radcliff is an old friend, going way back to the original Radio Free Charleston days, and he’s also a hell of a musician and songwriter. His latest album, available only as a download right now, is a priceless slab of pop-rock Heaven. I’m going to quote from Rad’s Bandcamp page now, and apologize because I’m too lazy to change it from the all-caps that used to write his profile:


This is exquisite stuff. It’s pure ear candy, with great music and clever lyrics, and you can download it HERE.

The Heavy Editors

I have fallen into a bit of a trap where every time I play a song by John Radcliff on Radio Free Charleston, I remember to play one in the same show by his former Feast of Stephen bandmate, Joe Vallina. I repeat that quirk of mine here, by mentioning the EP by Joe’s new band, The Heavy Editors, right after plugging Rad’s new album. I raved about this EP back in September, and you can go read that now so that I don’t have to quote heavily from myself.

You can download The Heavy Editors debut EP HERE.


4OHM MONO is the latest project of Huntington maestro John Lancaster, and the band has released two killer digital-only EPs this year, The Death and Resurrection of a Salesman and Dissonant Praises. The band consists of John Lancaster on vocals and guitars, Mac Walker on guitars and synth, Barry Smith on bass and Josh Adkins on drums.

Both releases were produced by 4 OHM MONO, and recorded and mixed by Barry Smith. and they both sport cool covers designed by Justin McCormick. This is pretty epic progressive metal and the band has created a monumental sound, with heavy music and clever lyrics.

Both releases are available on their Bandcamp page but can also be found on just about any digital/streaming platform (iTunes, Apple Music, Amazon, Google Play, Spotify, etc.). You can also hit up their website and follow them on Facebook.

Chuck Biel “Mumblety-Peg”

Chuck is a legend in Charleston and has shepherded many incredible bands and projects over the years. His most recent release is available for download from CD Baby, and it’s called “Mumblety-Peg.” This is chill-out music, played largely on his Harpejji, and it’s perfect to relax to while the music stimulates your mind. I’ll go to the description on the page…

Emmy nominated Film Composer Chuck Biel’s recent Musical effort “Mumblety-Peg”, composed, performed, recorded & produced by Chuck, features the new instrument the Harpejji. With 24 strings and a range like an orchestra, the sounds produced go from from happy to energized to caressing and mournful…that is to say, emotion packed. Mumblety-Peg: a game, and an Album by Chuck Biel

You can download Mumblety-Peg HERE, and visit Chuck’s site to hear what he’s been up to lately HERE.

Speedsuit “WAX”

Speedsuit is the latest musical project from Stephen Beckner, another of my old friends from the original RFC days, and one of the finest songwriters this state has ever produced. In Speedsuit Stephen is joined by Dan Jordan, Ryan Jackson and on “WAX,” their debut album, Dave Roberts or Brian Young trading off on drums.

It’s all great stuff, in a classic style influenced by everyone from The Beatles and Stones to Johnny Cash to XTC. You can download WAX HERE, and go out and attend their gigs for the full experience. I do believe that physical copies of this album are available at local music shops and at their shows, but I’m not 100% certain of that.

Todd Burge

Todd is another West Virginia treasure, and he doesn’t really have a new release out, but you can’t really go wrong with any of his albums. As it say on his website: “WV Troubadour, Played everything from Alternative Rock to Bluegrass, but is mainly known for the sharp wit, soaring vocal & guitar prowess found in many of his songs while performing his hybrid brand of Contemporary Americana-Folk. He has performed venues as diverse as NPR’s Mountain Stage, CBGB’s, The Country Music Hall of Fame and the Kennedy Center. He is about to perform near you”

He’s also offering a remarkable deal on a bundle of his entire catalog. You can read about that HERE, and scope out his individual releases HERE, if you’re afraid of making that big a commitment. These are physical copies of his albums, by the way, so you can actually wrap them and stick them under the tree.

Kerry Hughes

Kerry is a local musician and songwriter who is going through a ridiculously prolific period. He jumps from genre to genre and leaves his mark on each. I think he’s put out at least three albums this year, possibly more, and they’re all filled with terrific tunes from this one man band. I’ve been playing his stuff on Radio Free Charleston for months, and people are loving it.

You can find all of his releases available for download HERE.


This mysterious collective of unspecified individuals produces bizarre experimental electronic music. Not for the faint of heart, this is music for the adventurous futurists on your holiday list. Also, they occasionally use the swear words. You can download their latest release, from just a few weeks ago, right HERE.

Johnny Compton “Last Man Standing”

Johnny Compton is a local legend, a guitarist who can shred your face off one minute, then turn around and play something so tender that it can make you cry the next. In fact, Johnny knows 17 ways to make you cry with his guitar, and only one of them involves physical contact. He’s mastered everything from metal to bluegrass to the blues and acoustic ballads and he’s managed to do it all while maintaining his reputation as a bad-ass >shut yo’ mouf<. It’s why they call him “JMFC.” The MF does not stand for “Mighty Fine,” but that is an apt description of how he plays.

He’s endorsed by Killer B guitars, Von York strings, Spectraflex cables, Checkered pedals, Planet Tone pickups, InTune picks, Corvid enclosures and JN Branding.  I will be playing the heck out of his solo album, Last Man Standing, on Radio Free Charleston in the coming weeks, but you can get the whole album HERE, and you might even find physical copies at local music shops or at his gigs, if they haven’t sold out yet.

This Album is a collection of songs written by Johnny Compton throughout his career. Friends and Family came together to help Johnny complete these unfinished works. This project is a look at Johnny in a different light than what his fans are used to seeing.

Wolves of the Calla

While Johnny cut loose with his solo album just a couple of weeks ago, earlier this year he tore a hole in the universe with his metal band, The Wolves of the Calla. You can grab their debut EP HERE. It’s loud and aggressive and is pretty much the perfect gift for any teenager who has to go to high school and needs a release.

Membrane Cell  “Caduceus”

Membrane cell is the brainchild of Kenny Booth from Trielement and Harrah and David Synn formerly of Godmode Broadway and StychNtyme. Starting out as strictly an instrumental band, Membrane Cell has, like their name implies, evolved.

Now a primarily vocal band with lyrics and only a few instrumentals, and electronic beats fused with electric leads and synth pads with driving but melodic guitars, Membrane Cell sounds like something from the future while staying familiar with their industrial roots. With the beats keeping the overall melancholy tone of the songs, and the compositions taking the listener between pure sonic mayhem to a euphoric trance- Membrane Cell is part electronic, part rock, and 100% experimental.

Move into the future with new music that doesn’t linger in the past. You can find tracks from their debut EP HERE, or download the entire six-song EP HERE. I’ve been playing a couple of tracks from this on The AIR, and folks are really digging it.

Stark Raven

Once again going way back to the original RFC days (actually this band pre-dates RFC), we have legendary band, Stark Raven. Stark Raven, formed in the mid-1980’s in Charleston, WV, was a genre bending band that played for thousands of excited fans through out WV and the US during the nine years that they were together. Combining acoustic and electric guitars, bass and drums, an amplified string section (electric violin and cello), electric dulcimer, mandolin, harmonica, accordion and tight three part vocals.

Just last summer the band reunited for a couple of shows and remastered and re-released their albums, which had been out of print for over twenty-five years. It all still holds up, and just as they always defied musical labels, they also manage to defy time, as their music has not aged a bit. You can download their entire catalog HERE, and check local music shops because I know that there are physical copies of their reunion compilation out there. I just don’t know where you can buy them.

There you go, a dozen great local artists who have new music that you can download, and in some instances buy as CDs. If you want to give locally made stuff this holiday season, this is a great way to do it.

a1773611769_16Actually, let’s make that a Baker’s Dozen with an album so new that I almost forgot to include it…

Farnsworth “Elk City”

You can find this new album by Charleston’s favorite retro-rockers, Farnsworth, right HERE. I would write more about it, but I’m downloading it as we speak so I can use it as the big finale on this week’s brand-new Radio Free Charleston.

Don’t forget that I have previously recommended The Company Stores, Byzantine and Scarlet Revolt in the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide. That’s three more killer local albums for you to consider giving as gifts.

Also, don’t think that your PopCulteer is omnipotent when it comes to the local music scene. I almost left out Farnsworth, and I love those guys. I’m certain that there is even more great local music out there that has escaped my notice. If that is the case, and you know a local band that I missed, please make use of the comments below and share some info about them and a link to where we may find their music.

air-logo-new-url-01On top of all that, please don’t forget that PopCult has a sister internet radio station, The AIR. On The AIR we play more local West Virginia music than any other radio station of any kind. Check out the embedded player here:

…or go visit the website, which looks pretty cool on one of those nifty smartphone things that all the young peoples are using these days.

Due to the excessive workload of producing the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide, it’s been over a month since your PopCulteer has produced a new episode of Radio Free Charleston, but as soon as this post is ready to go, I’m hopping over to the recording studio to see if I might be able to crank out a special episode to air beginning on Tuesday, December 12, the very day this post will go live.

I’ll be including one track from every recommended artist on this list. You can listen at 10 AM and 10 PM Tuesday, with a replay Thursday at 2 PM, and extra reruns all week long.

2017 PopCult Gift Guide: New Boots and Panties!!

gg-duryIan Dury and The Blockheads New Boots & Panties!! 40th Anniversary Edition is today’s music pick for the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide, and I didn’t just pick it because of the funny headline. This is a fantastic gift for any fan of late-1970s punk/new wave music who likes songs with great hooks and musicians with killer chops. Plus it’s got one legendary song that belongs in everybody’s collection on it.

New Boots and Panties!! was the debut album from Ian Dury and The Blockheads, and it’s considered his finest. To commemorate forty years since its release, Demon/Edsel have reissued it as a limited box set packaged in a 12 x 12 hardcover book containing four CDs, the original album on vinyl, and a pull out eight page booklet with sleeve notes by one of the Blockheads, Phill Jupitus.

Alongside the original album on vinyl and CD there are three bonus discs containing bonus tracks, demo versions, John Peel Sessions and a full live performance not available before on CD. New Boots And Panties!! was originally released on the legendary Stiff Records in 1977. It’s considered Dury’s best album and it was also his most successful after it was certified Platinum in the UK 2 years after it’s release. This the most comprehensive version of the album to date.

You may be able to order Ian Dury and The Blockheads New Boots & Panties!! 40th Anniversary Edition from local record stores, but your quickest bet is probably to visit Amazon. For a sample of the most famous tune from this album, watch the video below…

The Unofficial Guide to Vintage Transformers: 1980s Through 1990s
gg-transformersJ.E. Alvarez
ISBN13: 9780764354410

Today’s book pick in the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide is another book about toys, and it’s a doozy. This is a revised edition of what many collectors consider to be the bible for Transformers, The Unofficial Guide to Vintage Transformers: 1980s Through 1990s.

In the almost twenty years since completing the first edition of this book, J.E. Alvarez prety much “turned pro.” He served as a creative consultant for fiction and toy designs for the Official Transformers Collectors Club and official collectors convention known as Botcon for several years. Alvarez was later recruited by Hasbro to become a full time member of their Transformers and G.I. Joe design teams. As Creative Manager for both brands he contributed to films, television series, toys, other merchandise, and overall brand fiction and creation. Semi-retired, he now spends most of his time at home raising his two children. Besides his passion for the Transformers brand, he enjoys collecting other properties such as Masters of the Universe, G.I. Joe, Aliens, and LEGO.

For many years, the Transformers have been a staple of pop culture. As new and old collectors seek to enhance their knowledge of this toy line, this book provides a wide view of the Transformers action figures from their earliest incarnations, their journey through the 1980s, and culminating with the Beast Wars in the 1990s. Extremely well researched, this guide provides information on the development of the figures while explaining their key features, along with showcasing many figure variations. Featuring images of figures both in and out of package, yearly product listings for easy reference, and pricing examples for many key items, this book is a great tool for reintroducing yourself or getting familiar with these toys from the past.

The absolute perfect gift for any Transformers collector, The Unofficial Guide to Vintage Transformers: 1980s Through 1990s should be available to order from any bookseller by using the ISBN number, or you can go directly to the publisher and snag a copy there.

gg-ecto1Our toy pick for today in the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide is the perfect gift for the rabid fan of Ghostbusters on your holiday shopping list. Earlier this year Playmobil acquired the rights to make playsets based on Ghostbusters, and one of their many way-cool sets is the Ecto 1, the modified 1959 Cadillac Ambulance that the poltergiest-punishing crew uses to get around.

Selling for fifty bucks or less at retailers that carry Playmobil toys, the Ecto 1 is a pretty cool recreation of the iconic vehicle from the original Ghostbusters movie. It has sounds taken from the original effects library and functioning lights, plus a detachable roof so that you can easily stash all the proton packs and Ghostbusters to get them ready for their next mission.

This set also includes Ghostbusters Winston Zeddemore and Janine Melnitz in their official uniforms with two detachable proton packs and proton wands, ghost trap, PKE meter for measuring psychokinetic energy, and silicone slime splatters that stick to smooth surfaces. Recommended for children and adults ages 6 and up, this is a great display piece for grown fans of the movie, but it’s also durable enough for kids.

For a limited time you also get a code that you can redeem online for four episodes of The Real Ghostbusters cartoon from the 1980s. Ghostbusters has earned a place among the pop culture elite and continues to be popular with multiple generations of fans. It’s a fandom that managed survive that awful attempt at a reboot from 2016, so you know it’s here to stay.

Like I said, you can find the Ecto 1 (as well as other, more elaborate Playmobil Ghostbusters sets) at retailers that carry Playmobil, or you can point your browser to Amazon, and try not to cross the streams.