PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

Toy Fair 2018: Harry Potter Toys and Games

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hp-001Toy Fair is over, but we still have plenty of news to bring you as we sort out the reports and figure out what’s the most newsworthy items. We’ll probably wrap up our coverage by Friday, and then move on to the next big things in pop culture.

For now, we’re going to look at toys based on Harry Potter, since you can’t find many pop culture phenomenons bigger than good old Harry.

Jakks Pacific announced that they will be releasing a series of new technologically enhanced Wands in the Harry Potter Wizard Training Wand collection, as well as an assortment of Die-Cast Wands inspired by fan-favorite characters. Additionally, the Wizarding World™ toy line will also include the new Niffler Challenge Game inspired by Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

We go to the PR: “With 11 different spells to learn and master, kids can now train like a wizard with the Harry Potter Wizard Training Wands (seen at the head of this post and below). Using active motion sensors, these wands track movement throughout five different modes of play, allowing for endless spell casting alone or with friends. The Wizard Training wands assortment includes Harry Potter’s Wand, Albus Dumbledore’s Wand, and Lord Voldemort’s Wand; each sold separately for $24.99.”

“Kids can also collect die-cast replica wands from some of their favorite Harry Potter characters. With a variety of 12 different styles, for only $4.99 kids can master the wizardry of Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Harry Potter himself, and many more. Each wand stands 4 inches high and includes a special stand for display purposes. And in the spirit of Wizarding World magic, each wand is sold in a blind mystery box allowing the wand to choose its wizard!”



JAKKS Pacific also introduces the Niffler Challenge Game, inspired by Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. This two-player game allows each player to load up the Niffler with jewelry and coins until they spill onto the cases; the first player to spill the contents wins. For the first time the adorable, mischievous Niffler has its own game. The game includes one Niffler on a rocking base, two wands, 64 coins and necklace pieces — available for $19.99 this fall.



LEGO has an impressive set that’s sure to entice Harry Potter fans. The Hogwarts Great Hall set (above) has one side that looks like the outside of the stately fixture of Hogwats, while the other side showing the inside of the building with room for all your Harry Potter minifigures as well as other features like the Sorting Hat and other iconic items, characters and characters from the films.

hp-004Funko expands their Rock Candy line to include several new Harry Potter figures (seen right and below). This is Funko’s less-cartoony representation of characters that doesn’t transform everything into their big-headed “Pop” style. The first wave of figures in this line was a big hit last year.

Among the figures due out in 2018 are Harry Potter with the prophecy orb; Ron Weasley in his Quidditch Uniform; Lord Voldemort and Albus Dumbledore.

There’s also a Barnes & Noble exclusive figure of Neville Longbottom with the Sword of Gryffindor from Book 7.

Funko also showed a new line of Harry Potter plush figures (seen below, bottom), but those have already hit retail. They’re still pretty darned cute-looking.

With a Broadway play, and a new movie due out this year, in addition to millions of fans of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts clamoring for more, it’s no surprise that the world of toys is being overrun by Wizards this year. I would be at all surprised if even more Harry Potter merchandise hits stores near the end of the year.



life-speaks-logoWe are still a bit hungover from Our PopCult Toy Fair coverage (keep checking back, we’re not done yet) and all the Rubber Soul Beatles Marathon programming that we’ve featured the last two weeks over at The AIR , but Wednesday we have some classic replays for you as well as a fresh serving of Life Speaks to Michele Zirkle. Tune in at the website, or on this neat little embedded player…

You can hear a brand new edition of Life Speaks to Michele Zirkle Wednesday at 1:30 PM, with a replay at 7 PM, Michele brings us a half-hour pep talk about self esteem, self-worth and how to gain confidence. She tells of her own struggles with insecurity and self-doubt and how she overcame her fears and has spoken, literally, to millions of people. It’s all part of the running narrative of Michele’s show, where she urges us to slow down and listen as “Life Speaks.”

You can keep up with Michele’s other projects, her life-coaching and her first novel at her website, where you will also be likely to find out about her upcoming second novel.

Elsewhere on the schedule for The AIR Wednesday you will find carefully-curated, hand-picked encore editions of programs like Curtain Call, hosted by Mel Larch, where this week the focus is on Hamilton, and Beatles Blast, hosted by your PopCulteer. We are still deep in the thrall of The Beatles this week on The AIR, as we bring you four more hours of the Rubber Soul Beatles marathon Wednesday at 8 PM. Due to popular demand, the entire marathon will be played again Sunday, February 25, beginning at 11 AM.

You can follow the whole schedule on this embedded doo-hickey, which quite frankly scares us just a little, the way it changes with each day…



Toy Fair 2018: Barbie News

barbie-001The PopCult Toybox

Mattel showed off a ton of new Barbie Product at Toy Fair, and we have some images to share. These aren’t exactly scoops. The dedicated online Barbie fandom uncovered most of this info in the middle of last year, but now we have Mattel’s official photos to confirm what they already knew by haunting accidental pre-order listings on Amazon and Chinese eBay postings.

At the bottom of this post you’ll find a link to a comprehensive blog post that shows multiple images of all of the products that Mattel is releasing in the Barbie line this year, along with news on sets which have not yet been seen. Mattel releases dozens of new Barbie figures in a multitude of forms all year long, and if you’re a die-hard collector, you already know that.

The trend this year is away from the high-tech gimmickry that failed to catch on for the last few years. Barbie will focus on new fashions, new careers and high-quality dolls based on upcoming movies. After failed ideas such as a Wi-Fi enabled Barbie and a Barbie drone, Mattel has realized that they don’t really need to change their core product that much. Barbie is Barbie, and with the demise of Monster High and the recent slump of Disney Princesses, Barbie remains the grande dame of the fashion doll world, even in her 59th year.

Tomb Raider Barbie was announced at Toy Fair as coming out in March, but was already available locally at the Barboursville Toys R Us over the weekend. This thirty-dollar figure is based on the upcoming movie and has an articulated figure with a great headsculpt that resembles actress Alicia Vikander, who plays Lara Croft.



Other movies that will inspire Barbie sets this year include Jurassic World: Fallen Temple, A Wrinkle In Time and Wicked. No images were released for Wicked, or for the upcoming new X-Files, Nutcracker and the Four Realms or Mary Poppins sets, but we do have Jurassic World and Wrinkle sets depicted below.





Barbie’s Fashionista’s line continues with new dolls in a variety of body types and skin tones wearing all-new fashions.




The impressive big playset this year is the Barbie Large Rescue Vehicle, which is due out in June. Barbie comes to the rescue with her care clinic vehicle, which includes a working siren and lights.


Lift the lever at the back of the colorful vehicle to instantly transform it into a care clinic. Barbie can greet her patients at the check-in stand that flips up in the center of the clinic. On the left, a yellow couch can be pulled down to reveal a waiting room with a fish tank. Pull down the fish tank to reveal a gift shop, where you can pick get-well gifts like a teddy bear or heart-shaped balloon! On the right, an exam room is fully equipped for medical emergencies and check-ups. The pink patient bed can be adjusted for comfort and also doubles as storage.


While these are great for Barbie collectors, 1/6 scale action figure collectors (think the original GI Joe) might have some interest in the kit-bashing and customizing potential for some of Barbie’s items, particularly this Ken Traveler set with Motorcycle, which is in stores now for thirty bucks.




These are just the highlights.  PopCult Note: We have removed a link that was here originally after being informed that the site we linked to pilfered their content from other websites. Sorry for the inconvenience.

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e2441-mvl-mcu-10th-avn1-1Due out this fall, Hasbro will be releasing ten sets of figures to celebrate ten years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Fans can commemorate 10 years of epic blockbusters with new MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES figures.

Each MARVEL STUDIOS: THE FIRST TEN YEARS figure features high-quality deco and extensive articulation in 6-inch scale.  These are all-new sculpts designed with the collector in mind. While recommended for ages four and up, make no mistake that these figures are aimed at the adult collector. Prices have not yet been released on these, but I would expect them to be in the thirty-to-fifty dollar range per set.

All told there will be  10 new multi-figure packs including updated fan favorite characters as well as several first-time Marvel Cinematic Universe figures as featured in THE AVENGERS, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, CAPTAIN AMERCIA: CIVIL WAR and more! Each figure sold separately.

The packaging is designed so that the images on the sides of the boxes all fit together to create a panoramic montage of all the Marvel Cinematic Characters together when displayed on a bookshelf.  You can see that below, and then after the jump, check out Hasbro’s official images of some of the sets.



Continue reading…

The PopCult Toybox

tf-001While we’re not at Toy Fair ourselves this year, YouTube is loaded with videos that are the next best thing to being there. Not Another Retro Channel has great videos that show stuff from NECA and MEZCO, two companies that have all kinds of great pop culture toys and collectibles.

NECA offers up cool horror-movie characters, with Re-Animator, It and The Fog making a big spash this year, plus they have toys anc collectibles based on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Crash Bandicoot, Pan’s Labrynth, Ash vs. Evil Dead, FRiday The 13th, Gremlins, Aliens, Predator, American Gods, Elf, as well as Marvel Comics and more.

The video runs under twelve minutes and shows lots of cool images…

MEZCO is another great company that produces Living Dead Dolls and the ultra-high-quality One: 12 collection of six-inch action figures.  New this year are figures from Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther and Blade and the Netflix Marvel characters in the One:12 scale, plus DC, Popeye, and horror movie classics in that scale too.

MEZCO will also be releasing some really high-detail Kong: Skull Island figures this year and next. This video is just over four minutes and is also packed with great images…

Just a few hours ago Not Another Retro Channel posted a quick walk-through video of the McFarlane Toys booth.

Keep checking PopCult. We’ll be posting more Toy Fair news all this week. Not Another Retro Channel is sure update their YouTube page with more videos all week long, too, so give them a visit and subscribe.



This week our art for you is a happy accident, or some would say, just an accident. While adjusting the white balance on a photo of the Chicago skyline, taken in December, I slipped up and hit the button for one of the paint filters, and the buildings turned all fuzzy–like they were made out of dryer lint.

It cracked me up, and I still don’t have all my graphics program’s bells and whistles working on the new PC, so I thought you’d enjoy it and then I wouldn’t have to do any new art this weekend. Click to enlarge.

Our Toy Fair 2018 coverage continues later today.

Toy Fair 2018: Reports from Bleeding Cool

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bc-imageOver at the beloved muck-raking comics and pop culture website, Bleeding Cool, they’ve been very busy all weekend long posting updates, reports and photos from Toy Fair.  They’re doing a killer job, so we’re going to point you to some of their more interesting items…

They have extensive photos from Hasbro’s showroom, so you can see what to expect from My Little Pony and Disney Princesses.

Also from Hasbro, Bleeding Cool brings you tons of images from upcoming Marvel toy lines.

They have more photos than we’ve seen elsewhere from the always-incredible NECA booth.

Everybody has coverage of Funko, but Bleeding Cool pointed out their Conan action figure, which I don’t recall anyone else mentioning.

They also offer up lots of great close-ups from the Super 7 booth.

These are the first photos we’ve seen so far from our friends at Cryptozoic Entertainment.

Lots of in-depth images of Transformers on display in this post.

Bleeding Cool offers up plenty of details on the Star Wars collectible action figures lines.

They show plenty of great high-end colletible statues from Good Smile Company.

They also posted plenty of images from the MEZCO booth with Living Dead Dolls and the One-12 Action Figure line.

For more Toy Fair news from  Bleeding Cool, keep visiting their “Games” section of their website.

PopCult will continue to bring you news from Toy Fair 2018 for the next few days, be it links, videos or full reports. Just keep checking back.

pc-2-18-01The PopCult Toybox

UPDATE: For the latest news on Monster High, and signs of a possible revival, click HERE.

Mattel’s Monster High seems to be missing in action at Toy Fair this year. So far the only mention I’ve seen of it anywhere was in a press release about Mattel’s partnership with Tynker, an educational program that helps teach kids coding. This is no great surprise, as the doll line unwittingly paid tribute to another classic monster movie at retail last year: The Incredible Shrinking Man.

Unless Mattel had Monster High buried in a corner of their enormous booth that nobody’s bothered to cover on the internet yet, the rumors of the past two years are true. Monster High has been cancelled.

It’s been a precipitous fall for Monster High, a brand that, just four years ago, was pulling in almost two billion dollars a year, but it’s also pretty much the norm for the toy business.  Monster High had close to an eight-year run, which is pretty impressive for a toy line.

pc-2-18-03In 2016, Mattel, in dire financial straits following the loss of the Disney Princesses line to Hasbro, rebooted Monster High and tried to aim it at a younger audience.

Instead of extending the life of the brand, that move seemed to hasten its demise, as collectors rejected the new designs and the already dipping sales never quite recovered. The new designs were really out of touch with what fans wanted.

If any new Monster High toys  make it into stores in 2018, they’re most likely just the last few items that were in the production pipeline. Apparently the division was shut down last year (or earlier) and the design personnel shifted to other projects.


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Toy Fair 2018: Photo Scoops From ToyArk

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toyark-001Since we’re not actually attending the International Toy Fair in New York this year, I’m going to point you to one of the best sources for huge photo collections from the event. It’s the next best thing to being there and they’re updating the website on a regular basis all weekend long.

That’s just one of the hundreds of images they’ve put up over to the right of these words. This depicts just the tip of the iceberg of Super Seven’s ReAction figure line this year.

ToyArk has photographers on the scene, snapping images of all the latest and coolest toy offerings. So they’ve posted images from Marvel, Star Wars, Funko, Quantum Mechanix, Super Seven and more, with new batches of photos showing up every hour or two.

So head on over to ToyArk and wallow in eye candy, and keep refreshing their home page for the next few days.

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DC Collectibles has unleashed a ton of images of their upcoming product.  They’re collaborating with legendary make-up artist, Rick Baker, and musician/comics guru Gerard Way, plus they have Doomsday Clock action figures and plenty of other cool stuff in the pipeline for 2018.  This story is so good that we’re just going to run the press release with barely any editing. Check out the “sizzle reel” that shows off all the products right here…

dc_bombshells_batman_catwoman_5a84b7cf4dc2d8-52638998DC Collectibles, the award-winning line of collectibles from DC Entertainment, will celebrate 20 years of toy-making at this year’s American International Toy Fair in New York. To commemorate this milestone anniversary, DC Collectibles revealed huge plans for its 2018 lineup, including several high-profile collaborations such as a life-size bust of The Joker designed by one of Hollywood’s most celebrated special makeup effects artists, Rick Baker.

DC Collectibles also recruited My Chemical Romance frontman and DC’s Young Animal curator Gerard Way to put his own spin on DC’s iconic Batman and The Joker characters for the company’s longest-running statue line, Batman: Black & White. Other collectibles on tap for 2018 include new action figure sets based on Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s hit DOOMSDAY CLOCK comic book series and new variants for DC Artists Alley designer vinyls, plus several new additions to popular statue and action figure lines.

dc_gallery_joker_baker_bust_v01_5a84b42350a1a9-19415954Best known for his work on Hollywood blockbusters such as An American Werewolf in London, Men in Black, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Planet of the Apes, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, Star Wars, and the Thriller music video, among others, luminary special makeup effects artist Rick Baker has brought his monster-making talent to one of DC’s most iconic Super-Villains, The Joker.  The Joker Bust by Rick Baker is designed, sculpted and painted by Baker and features the same spine-chilling attention to detail that can be expected from the Academy Award winner. Measured at 22.5″ tall, only 200 of these limited-edition busts will be produced, and each will be numbered. Fans can bring home this high-end collectible from DC Collectibles in October 2018 at a suggested retail price of $1000.00.

“DC Collectibles is always seeking out interesting artists from different industries to bring their unique art styles to DC’s popular characters, and we are thrilled to partner with Rick Baker on this sculpture,” explained Jim Fletcher, executive creative director of DC Collectibles. “From the disturbing eyes to the sinister smile, Rick did a masterful job capturing The Joker’s psychotic demeanor.”

“When DC Collectibles approached me about this project, I jumped at the chance to do something with The Joker,” said Baker. “The Joker is one of the most notorious Super-Villains of all time, and I had a blast depicting his twisted and demented personality through this bust. The DC Collectibles team was great to work with and gave me complete creative freedom to bring my version of the character to life.”

bm_bw_batman_g_way_v01_5a84b44a492692-73293407DC Collectibles has also tapped acclaimed musician and writer Gerard Way to design original iterations of The Joker and Batman for the company’s best-selling Batman: Black & White statue line. The eccentric character designs are based on sketches Way created for a past story idea and will now be brought to life as 7″ statues in 2018.

“I am extremely excited to have teamed up with the wonderful people of DC Collectibles to bring fans these visions of Batman and The Joker in physical and wonderfully monochromatic form,” said Way. “My ink and wash drawings of these two characters come from a pitch I had created, called ‘Kingdom of The Mad,’ which, in my opinion, is a very dark take on the characters– so seeing them in gorgeous black, white, and grey seems very fitting. I hope fans enjoy these different takes on the characters, and I am honored to now be a part of the Batman: Black & White family.”

“Our Batman: Black & White statue line has always been a great avenue to try new ideas and welcome new artists into the DC Collectibles fold,” said Fletcher. “Gerard’s indie art style is a perfect fit for this series and offers a fresh take on Batman and The Joker that we’ve never seen before.”

doomsday_clock_af_2pk_oz_front_5a84b516ae5598-04894344DC Collectibles will also debut new DOOMSDAY CLOCK action figures in 2018, based on Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s critically acclaimed comic book series. The 7″ figures will release in sets of two and will include fan-favorite WATCHMEN characters Dr. Manhattan, Ozymandias, Rorschach and the Comedian, plus two new DC universe characters – Mime and Marionette-created in DOOMSDAY CLOCK.

Capitalizing on excitement for the upcoming DC Artists Alley designer vinyl line, DC Collectibles also revealed new variants for the Hainanu “Nooligan” Salque and Sho Murase waves of figures. Black-and-white editions will be offered for Nooligan’s standard designs of Batman, The Joker and Harley Quinn, and special holiday designs will be offered for Murase’s Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn and Catwoman characters. These new variants join the already-announced standard and black-and-white versions of the Chris Uminga wave that debuts in June. Uminga’s wave will be followed by Nooligan’s vinyls in September and Murase’s in November.

“The feedback for our upcoming DC Artists Alley line has been fantastic,” noted Fletcher. “The first few Chris Uminga figures have already sold out at the retailer level, and we can’t wait for them to hit stores this summer. We hope fans embrace the different variant editions for each artist and collect them all!”

Additional collectibles debuting in 2018 include new DC Bombshells offerings, such as a Batman and Catwoman Deluxe statue, a statue featuring The Joker’s Daughter and a Nurse Harley and The Joker action figure 2-pack. There will also be new character additions to the highly anticipated DC Essentials action figure line and best-selling DC Designer Series statue series.

The full list:

dc_designer_series_supergirl_turner_v01_5a84b83192fff0-35270954DC GALLERY

  • The Joker Bust by Rick Baker
  • Reissues: Green Lantern Battery Prop, Yellow Lantern Battery Prop


  • The Joker by Gerard Way
  • Batman by Gerard Way


  • Dr. Manhattan and Ozymandias
  • Rorschach and Mime
  • The Comedian and Marionette


  • Hainanu “Nooligan” Salque: Black-and-white variant editions of Batman, The Joker and Harley Quinn
  • Sho Murase: Holiday variant editions of Catwoman, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy


  • Statues: The Joker’s Daughter, Batman and Catwoman Deluxe
  • Action Figures: Nurse Harley and The Joker 2-Pack

hq_rwb_turner_v01_5a84b927c7f806-66213586DC DESIGNER SERIES STATUES

  • Red Hood by Kenneth Rocafort
  • The Joker by Brian Bolland mini statue
  • Supergirl by Michael Turner
  • Jim Lee Collector 3-Pack Statue Set: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman


  • Black Manta
  • Brainiac


  • Philip Tan
  • Michael Turner