PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

LEGO Creator Expert James Bond Aston Martin DB5

LEGO Creator Expert James Bond Aston Martin DB5

Continuning BIG TICKET DAY, we have the very cool LEGO Creator James Bond Aston Martin DB5. Your best bet (and price) is to order it directly from LEGO.

Get a license to build with the awesome LEGO® Creator Expert 10262 James Bond™ Aston Martin DB5. This impressive replica model captures the elegance and timeless sophistication of Agent 007’s iconic 1964 sports car, and comes with a wealth of authentic details and functioning gadgetry.

Open the doors and you’ll discover a detailed interior with a concealable radar tracker and a door compartment containing a telephone. And when it’s time for action, activate the passenger ejector seat, turn the revolving number plates, raise the rear-window bulletproof screen, deploy the wheel-mounted tyre scythes and pull back the gearstick to reveal the front wing machine guns.

This collectible model car also features a detailed straight-6 engine, drum-lacquered silver front and rear bumpers, moulded silver-coloured wire wheel rim inserts and front and rear Aston Martin logos. The model has been designed to provide a challenging and rewarding building experience full of nostalgia—a must-have for fans of the Aston Martin DB5, James Bond movies and LEGO building sets.

Just like the Aston Martin in Goldfinger, this sporty vehicle has a few tricks up its sleeve.
Lift the bonnet to check out the straight-6 engine detailing. Pull back the rear bumper to eject unwelcome passengers. Revolve the number plates, raise the rear-window bulletproof screen and deploy the wheel-mounted tyre scythes. Pull back the gearstick to reveal the front wing machine guns.

Collectors can own this collectible replica of the Aston Martin DB5, as featured in the classic James Bond™ Goldfinger movie. And they get to build it themselves.

This set includes over 1,290 pieces and is suitable for ages 16+. The finished model is thirteen inches long, three inches tall and four inches wide, and it’s the perfect gift for the Bond fanatic on your gift list who also likes to build things. You can find it in LEGO stores, or order it from them online, where you can expect to spend a hundred and fifty bucks or so.

Akira 35th Anniversary Box Set

by Katsuhiro Otomo
Kodansha Comics
ISBN-13: 978-1632364616
List Price $199.99

Akira is the award-winning Manga by Katsuhiro Otomo that celebrated its 35th anniversary last year with this lavish boxed set, printing this work in its original black-and-white format, reading right-to-left.

This might be a drawback is, like your PopCulteer, you got spoiled back in the 1980s when publishers would simply flop the artwork when they translated Manga, so that they could be read like a standard Western publication. Personally, I prefer Manga presented in the bastardized form, instead of the purist form, which is now standard. I’m not suggesting here that one way is better than the other, but if you’re going to drop big money on a gift like this, make sure that your recipient will be comfortable reading it right-to-left.

What you get for your money is an all-new, complete 35th anniversary hardcover box set of one of the most acclaimed and influential comics of all time, with the original Japanese art and right-to-left reading format for the first time! The science fiction epic that changed anime and manga forever is presented in six beautiful hardcover volumes, plus the hardcover Akira Club art book and an exclusive patch with the iconic pill design.

In 1982, Kodansha published the first chapter of Otomo’s Akira, a dystopian saga set in Neo-Tokyo, a city recovering from thermonuclear attack where the streets have been ceded to motorcycle gangs and the rich and powerful run dangerous experiments on destructive, supernatural powers that they cannot control.

In 1988, the manga was adapted into what was at the time the most expensive animated film ever made, which brought Akira’s influence out of the manga world and onto the global stage. Today, it remains a touchstone for artists, writers, filmmakers, and fans, retaining all the brutal impact and narrative intensity it had when Otomo first unleashed it onto the world.

Akira 35th Anniversary Edition features story and art by Katsuhiro Otomo. It’s over 2500 pages, and is presented here in six hardcover volumes of the original Manga, plus an additional book of bonus material, and a patch, all nestled in a decorative box.

This is the perfect gift for the obsessive fan of Japanese culture on your shopping list. Just make sure that they prefer the right-to-left versions of their manga. The book has a hefty two-hundred dollar price tag, but can be found on Amazon with a steep discount that takes some of the sting out of the purchase.

This is a PopCult Gift Guide selection for BIG TICKET DAY.

IAMElemental Action Figure Gift Sets

IAMElemental Action Figure Gift Sets for Holiday 2018

IAmElemental, the toy company that pioneered strong, healthy female action figures, has issued limited-edition gift sets of its award-winning superheroes for this holiday season. The gift sets feature female action figures from the company’s Series 1/Courage (Bravery, Energy, Honesty, Industry, Enthusiasm, Persistence and Fear) and Series 2/Wisdom (Creativity, Ingenuity, Curiosity, Logic, Exploration, Mastery and Oblivion).

We told you about IAmElemental a few years ago when we encountered their founder at the International Toy Fair in New York, and it’s great to see that they’re still going strong and making their figures available in these affordable gift sets for the holiday season.

“IAmElemental’s gift sets are an ideal introduction to our female action figures, which invite girls and boys to develop their character by playing with The Elements of Power,” said Chief Elemental Officer Julie Kerwin. “Courage and Wisdom are fierce, strong females ready to save the world. They make the perfect gift for kids, collectors, educators, activists and powerful people everywhere. We are especially pleased to partner with a fellow small-business owner, CocoaCrayon.com’s Lisa Moss, known for her impeccable taste and elegantly wrapped gifts, to offer a specially curated Courage Gift Set.”

There is a special gift set that’s exclusive to Cocoa Crayon.

Courage Gift Set ($49.99 including free gift wrap, ages 3+,(available exclusively at Cocoa Crayon) includes:

6.5″ Courage Core Power Action Figure, a fusion of all Elements in Series 1/Courage. She features more than 30 points of articulation and includes removable accessories including a helmet, armor, flaming Energy sword and Courage shield;

TheElements of PowerBoard Book, introducing young children to the positive and powerful messages of the IAmElemental universe; and Courage Tableware Set, a child-size place setting including an 8.5” plate, a 5” bowl and a 10.7 oz glass.

In addtion to that, there are three great “starter kit” sets you can order directly from IAMElemental’s website:

Superhero Starter Kit #1 ($20 including free U.S. shipping in a decorative mailing box, ages 3+, available at IAmElemental.com) includes:

Three randomly selected Series 1/Courage Mystery Packs, each with a 3.75” Courage action figure and powerful accessories, for the price of two.
Inspired by Joan of Arc, Series1/Courage female action figures are the original Elements of Power first introduced on Kickstarter in 2014 and named as finalists for 2017 Toy of the Year.
IAmElemental’s 3.75” female action figures offer nine points of articulation and come with a removable, interchangeable accessory, a shield that can also be worn as a charm, and two trading cards – one to keep and one to share.

Superhero Starter Kit #2 ($20 including free U.S. shipping in a decorative mailing box, ages 3+, available at IAmElemental.com) includes:

Two randomly selected Series 1/Courage Mystery Packs, each with a 3.75” Courage action figure and powerful accessories; and
TheElements of Power Board Book, introducing young children to the positive and powerful messages of the IAmElemental universe.

Superhero Starter Kit #3 ($20 including free U.S. shipping in a decorative mailing box, ages 3+, available at IAmElemental.com) includes:

Two randomly selected Series 1/Courage Mystery Packs; each with a 3.75” Courage action figure and powerful accessories; and
One randomly selected Series 2/Wisdom Blister Pack, with a 3.75” action figure and powerful accessories. Inspired by Hypatia, Series 2/Wisdom female action figures were finalists for 2018 Toy of the Year.

These are perfect gifts for young girls who like action figures, but want to play with female figures. Collectors of 3 3/4″ figures will also be struck by the high quality and detail on these figures.

Frankenstein Alive Alive

Frankenstein Alive Alive

written by Steve Niles
art by Bernie Wrightson and Kelly Jones
IDW Publishing
ISBN-13: 978-1684053377
$24.99 (on sale at Amazon)

This immaculate hardcover collection of the mini-series is the perfect gift for the fan of gothic horror or just folks who appreciate beautiful comic art on your shopping list.

Inspired by Mary Shelley’s immortal gothic horror tale, Frankenstein Alive, Alive brings new life to the Promethean monster, courtesy of Steve Niles (30 Days of Night) and Bernie Wrightson (Frankenstein, Swamp Thing). Victor Frankenstein’s cobbled together creature continues his adventures, embarking on a journey to discover his own humanity.

Collecting the four-issue series along with an extended gallery section of never-before-seen layouts and pencils by Wrightson, all scanned from the original art.

This is the final art produced by Bernie Wrightson, a master of modern horror art, who lost his battle with brain cancer before the original mini-series was finished. Additional art is supplied in the final chapter by Kelley Jones (at Wrightson’s request), who stepped in to complete the series upon the comic book legend’s untimely passing. This book collects some of the finest work by one of the best artists to ever illustrate comics.

Niles is also a master of the horror comic, as a writer, and he crafted a story that played perfectly to Wrightson’s many strengths. Wrightson had been associated various adaptations and interpretations of the story of the Frankenstein Monster since the mid-1970s, and this book was seen as the crowning achievement of his storied career. It is a real work of art. Kelly Jones also deserves major kudos for stepping into a very challenging position and admirably filling the shoes of Wrightson to finish this work. That he was hand-picked by Wrightson is a testament to his considerable talents.

Using the ISBN code, you ought to be able to order this book from any bookseller, but be advised that Amazon has it for about eight bucks less than the list price.

Karen Allen: Here We Are Now

Karen Allen: Here We Are Now

Karen Allen has been a major force in the local music scene for quite some time. Originally the lead vocalist for Crazy Jane, Karen has been a member of Whistlepunk and Tofujitsu, and has performed as the leader of The Wren Allen band. Hot on the heels of the recent Crazy Jane reunion album, Karen has just released an amazing new album, Here We Are Now, that proves she is still at the top of her game as a songwriter and singer.

Let’s go to her official bio for more details: “Karen Allen’s upbringing in Point Pleasant, West Virginia has a surprising effect on her life and music. While grounded in country folk and roots rock, Karen gravitates to indie pop, alt rock and experimental sounds. All of these influences fuel a musical landscape for telling her unique story of love, loss, forgiveness, and transcendence.

“Karen is best known as the founding member of the alt-grunge band Crazy Jane. The band recorded and toured in support of three albums, performed at the legendary CBGBs (NYC), NPR’s “Mountain Stage”, NXNE Music Festival (Toronto) to name a few and alongside acts such as They Might Be Giants, Violent Femmes, Donna the Buffalo, Julian Lennon, and Robyn Hitchcock.

“Deeply affected by the 9/11 tragedy, Karen immersed herself in humanitarian work, becoming a skilled community organizer focused on helping disaster survivors and military members and families affected by war. During that time, Karen also began playing drums and recorded with indie rock duo Tofujitsu and experimental rock trio Fabulous Head.

“Her upcoming release, Here We Are Now, is the culmination of a life beset with extraordinary experiences. The record was engineered and produced by Ken Stringfellow (The Posies, R.E.M., Big Star). From honest provocative lyrics to moody atmospheric swirls and textures to unforgettable melodies, Karen embraces her power and prowess as a musician to deliver her best work yet.”

You can order Here We Are Now directly from Karen’s website, or you can check to see if it’s available at local shops like Budget Tapes & Records or Sullivan’s Records.

On this album, Karen re-worked “Satellite,” a song that she recorded with Whistlepunk back in 2007. Karen’s new version brings a whole new flavor to the song, but you can see the video I made for the original version right here…

The PopCulteer
November 2, 2018

Okay, I realize that you probably don’t really need instructions for a gift guide, but just so you know what to expect over the next month, I’m going to try to lay out everything as clearly as possible.

This is the fourteenth annual PopCult Gift Guide, and every year I try to suggest cool things that I think my readers would like to know about so they can give them (or receive them) as Christmas (or Hanukah, or Kwaanza, or whatever) gifts this holiday season. Every year we do things a little differently that we have before, and 2018 is no exception. Superficially, I’m not putting the words “PopCult Gift Guide” in the headline for each post. It makes the links a tad unwieldy, and any readers ought to be able to discern what they’re reader from the context and the graphics.

I’ve also added an extra graphic to our header post, to drive that point home, although it’ll disappear after December 1, so that won’t really be an issue for folks reading these as archives posts in the future. And oddly enough, some of my previous gift guide posts still attract readers more than ten years after they were originally published, all year-round.

I have made one change since the preview post I put up last week. Instead of Saturday being BIG TICKET DAY, where each gift idea costs more than a hundred bucks, now Saturday and Sunday will both be BIG TICKET DAY, where I reccomend two gifts per day, and each gift idea will cost over sixty dollars. The main reason for the change is that a lot of the things I was going to recommend have dropped in price since I first started compiling my list, and this way we can still include them all.  This means that through the week, each gift suggestion should cost you under sixty bucks.

I will try to include at least one local-to-West Virginia item every weekday. Some of these will be recommendations for Charleston-area stores or restaurants. Many items I suggest will only be available online, and I’ll include links for ordering, but in the case of things that are available locally, I will try to tip you off to where you can shop local. My readership is about 20% local and 80% everywhere else, so please don’t get upset if it seems like I’m not doing enough to promote our local businesses.

Posts should go up in the afternoon each day, and you can expect at least three gift ideas a day, and as many as five. The 2018 PopCult Gift Guide runs the entire month of November, so if you have to order something, you should have plenty of time to get it delivered.

During the gift guide, we are suspending two of our regular features, The RFC Flashback and Sunday Evening Videos. You can still expect to find Monday Morning Art and The PopCulteer on their usual days.

With those points established, and also with the guide already underway (we started with three gift ideas yesterday–you can find links to the right), let’s let things resume. Look for three more posts later today.



As has become tradition, our first day of The PopCult Gift Guide includes this year’s HESS Toy Truck. We tell you about this one on the first day because it’s a limited edition, and if we held off, they might sell out before you can get your hands on one. Once sold in HESS Oil gas stations, these keepsakes are now only sold online, since HESS sold their retail outlets to Marathon Oil a few years ago.

This year HESS released a bonus truck, an 85th anniversary edition of their very first tanker truck, and it sold out in less than two days, so you don’t want to wait around on this one.

This year lucky kids and collectors can get The 2018 Hess RV with ATV and Motorbike. a powersport trio ready for any adventure. The set features a sleek and modern recreational transport loaded with lights, and a spirited wheelie-popping pair of teammates eager for on and off-road action!

The RV is strikingly vibrant with 60 LED lights, a gleaming chrome front, white body, contrasting black fenders, and dark tinted cab windows. Clear windows showcase the two internally illuminated compartments housing the ATV and Motorbike, which are accessed by button-release drop-down ramp doors.

The ATV has oversized, terrain-tough tires that partner with a powerful pull-back motor to race flat or flash its impressive wheelie-action. A roll cage encloses the driver while the 10 switch-activated lights and chrome details shine bright. Getting in on the race challenge and wheelie-popping power is the sport-tourer style Motorbike, with a push-friction motor, and working head and tail lights.

One change this year, which may be considered a blessing to some parents, the HESS RV with ATV and Motorbike does NOT have any sound features. Some folks might miss them, others will be very happy to see them go.

In total, this 3-in-1 combo includes an eye-popping 73 lights, the most ever on a holiday Hess Toy Truck! The 2018 Hess RV with ATV and Motorbike is sold exclusively he at The Hess Toy Truck website, for $33.99 plus tax, which includes 8 Energizer® batteries and free standard shipping.

Rick and Morty Games

Rick and Morty Games

Cryptozoic Entertainment, released two great games based on the cult TV show, Rick and Morty this year, and we’re going to recommend both of them for rabid fans of the Adult Swim mind-bending series.

Rick and Morty: The Ricks Must Be Crazy Multiverse Game. In this engine-building tabletop game, 2-4 players take on the roles of Rick, Morty, Zeep, and Kyle as they introduce Power Supplies to different worlds, and then try to use the resulting Power to activate Contraptions before their opponents. Based on the Rick and Morty episode “The Ricks Must Be Crazy,” gameplay takes place in four “’Verses” with unique attributes: the Rickverse, Microverse, Miniverse, and Teenyverse.

During the Action Phase, players spend Actions to move to different ’Verses where they can build Power Supplies and Contraptions. Then, during the Power-Up Phase, Power generates from the bottom ’Verse up, and players utilize it to play One-Shot cards, use Character Abilities, and power-up their Contraptions. The winner is the player who scores the needed Victory Points by building Power Supplies and activating Contraptions.

Rick and Morty: The Ricks Must Be Crazy Multiverse Game can be found almost anywhere games are sold for a suggested retail price of $20.

Rick and Morty: The Pickle Rick Game is an intense 1-2 player game, based on the hugely popular “Pickle Rick” episode of Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty. One player plays as Pickle Rick as he tries to escape a heavily armed compound, while the other player takes on the roles of both the Russians and Jaguar as they try to stop him.

The Pickle Rick player uses weapons cards to dole out damage and Air Vents to get out of jams as he or she tries to get to the Rooftop. The game includes both Pickle Rick and Jaguar miniatures that are moved across a dynamic board made up of tiles that are constantly being added, rotated, and flipped. Adding to the off-the-wall fun is the game’s packaging: It looks like a pickle! The Pickle Rick Game is in stores now, and will run you between $30 and $35.

Pinpricks: A Book of Tiny and Terrible Oddities.

Our first pick in the 2018 PopCult Gift Guide is a graphic novel by Jason Pell, Pinpricks: A Book of Tiny and Terrible Oddities, which I told you about back in its Kickstarter incubation stage earlier this year. The book is now available, and I highly recommend it as a gift for fans of the macabre and the unusual.

Pinpricks: A Book of Tiny and Terrible Oddities is not really a novel, per se. It’s one-hundred and one illustrated short stories of misfits, monsters, and the terminally awkward. You will meet unusual characters who get caught up in extraordinary situations, which get resolved very quickly in ways you won’t expect.

You will meet monsters and madmen and mimes and very unusual children among the many short, short stories. Pell’s cleverness shines through as he crafts atmospheric scenarios with a minimum of words and pictures.

This compact book of eerie vignettes is the perfect gift for the person who enjoys the offbeat elements of life. You can order it from Amazon, where it is currently just under $16.

Check out the video preview made for Kickstarter for a sample of what you’ll find in Pinpricks: A Book of Tiny and Terrible Oddities…