PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

Toy News Out The Wazoo

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pc20301The PopCulteer
February 3
, 2017

The International Toy Fair in New York is just a few weeks away, and Toy Fairs in Europe are either wrapping up, or about to start, so this week the PopCulteer is going to be an epic rundown of some of the latest news from the toy industry.

Go get something to drink and find a comfortable spot so you can read this without any undue fatigue. Here is the latest from the world of Toys. PopCult will be very heavy with toy news for the next month or so.

Warner Bros. Consumer Products

Warner Brothers always puts out a pre-Toy Fair press release that tips their hand a bit, offering up what they see as their main focus with toys that will be manufactured by multiple licensees. This year the focus is on their big movie properties, Wonder Woman and Justice League, with nods to some of their television and cartoon items, plus the new blockbuster DC Superhero Girls franchise.

Their press release is short on specifics, but does give us an idea of what to expect in stores. “With collections and must-have products from the most anticipated films of the year, we’re excited to showcase the full breadth and scope of WBCP’s DC Super Hero offerings in partnership with our super-powered global partners, programs and products at Toy Fair this year,” said Pam Lifford, President, Warner Bros. Consumer Products.

pc20302Wonder Woman hits theaters around the world in her first-ever standalone, self-titled action adventure feature film, beginning on June 2. The much-anticipated epic delves into the Amazonian Super Hero’s origins and her fight in a war to end all wars. In continuation of Wonder Woman’s 75th anniversary and in support of the upcoming film, Warner Bros. Consumer Products and its partners created a line of products fit for Wonder Woman fans of all ages.

Global master toy licensee Mattel will unveil product from the powerful line of toys to accompany Wonder Woman’s first-ever solo feature film, including a full toy line created in the likeness of the movie’s characters, collectible figures, dolls, playsets and role play for fans to recreate their favorite scenes from the movie. The Wonder Woman feature will also be supported by global partners The LEGO Group with an exciting construction set inspired by adventurous moments from the film, and Rubie’s Costume Co. with a new line of Wonder Woman movie-inspired costumes and accessories for fans of all ages.

Additional licensees with toy offerings include Funko, with fan-favorite stylized collectible figures; Neca, with 18-inch replica figures; Tonner Dolls, with detailed-design 18-inch fashion dolls; Madame Alexander, with 11-inch fashion dolls; Hot Toys, with the highly detailed high-ticket collectible figure you see above; Kotobukiya, with high-end collectible statues; Mezco and QMX with stylized figures; Jada Toys, with mini-metal figures; NJ Croce with bendable figures and keychains, Schleich with collectible figures; Sakar International, with electronics and accessories; and many more worldwide.

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bec-2-03-logoSydney Fileen returns Friday at 3 PM with a brand-new episode of Sydney’s Big Electric Cat on The AIR. You can listen to The AIR at the website, or on this embedded radio player…

Back in fighting trim after the recent flu outbreak at Haversham Recording Institute, Fileen presents two hours of terrific New Wave-era music. There may even be a subtle theme to this week’s show. Check out the playlist:

The Clash  “Know Your rights”
M  “Official Secrets”
Elvis Costello  “Two Little Hitlers”
Theatre of Hate  “Do You Believe in the Westorld”
The Plugz  “Mindless Contentment”
Hazel O’Connor  “Big Brother”
The The  “The Beaten Generation”
New Model Army  “No Rest”
Joe Jackson  “Right And Wrong”
Laibach  “Sympathy For The Devil”
The Sex Pistols  “Holiday In The Sun”
Stiff Little Fingers  “Guilty As Sin”
Talking Heads  “Burning Down The House”
Boomtown Rats  “Banana Republic”
DEVO  “Freedom of Choice”
Depeche Mode  “People Are People”
Spear of Destiny  “Never Take Me Alive”
Kate Bush  “Army Dreamers”
The Buggles  “Living In The Plastic Age”
The Beat  “Whine and Grind/Stand Down Margaret”
The Specials  “Racist Friend”
Gang of Four  “To Hell With Poverty”
The Stranglers  “No More Heroes”
Funboy Three “The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum”
Tom Robinson Band  “Up Against The Wall”
The Vapors  “Cold War”
The Dead Kennedys  “Kill The Poor”
The Dickies  “Paranoid”
The Police  “When The World Is Running Down”

Sydney’s Big Electric Cat can be heard Friday at 3 PM on The AIR, with replays Saturday at 2 PM, Sunday at 6 PM, Monday at 7 PM, and Tuesday at 8 PM. Look for a special Toy Fair Preview edition of The PopCulteer this afternoon.

Remembering John Wetton on RFC International

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rfci-20217Thursday at 3 PM The AIR presents a special episode of Radio Free Charleston International, a tribute to John Wetton, a progressive rock icon, who passed away Tuesday at the age of 67.

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

John Wetton was best known as the lead singer, bassist and one of the songwriters for the hugely successful Progressive Rock band, ASIA, but his prog-rock pedigree stretches back further than that, with notable stints in King Crimson, UK, Roxy Music and Uriah Heep, among others on his list of credentials.

Following his exit from ASIA in the late 1980s, Wetton continued to collaborate with ASIA keyboardist, Geoff Downes, and also released a series of solo albums. He participated in a limited reunion of UK, with Eddie Jobson, and also contributed to several progressive rock tribute CDs, collaborating with stellar talents like Adrian Belew, Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman and Alan White.

The original line-up of ASIA reformed in time for their twenty-fifth anniversary in 2007, and recorded new albums that recaptured the vitality of their younger days. The reformed ASIA toured until Wetton’s health issues became too much for him to continue. Wetton succumbed after a long battle with colon cancer Tuesday morning.

This week, since Prognosis is on hiatus following a flu outbreak at Haversham Recording Institute, Radio Free Charleston International host, Rudy Panucci, took it upon himself to assemble a two-hour salute to one of the greatest voices in rock. In this show you will hear studio and live tracks featuring John Wetton from ASIA, King Crimson, UK, ICON, and Wetton himself, solo and in collaboration with other great musicians.

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New Shows Wednesday on The AIR

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201-air-logoToday on The AIR listeners can tune in at 1 PM for brand-new episodes of two great talk shows, On The Road with Mel and Life Speaks with Michele Zirkle Marcum.

Listen at The AIR website, or on this sweet little embedded player…

This week On The Road with Mel takes requests. Mel asked her listeners to chime in via social media with their favorite driving music.

Tune in at 1 PM to hear the following songs, suggested by folks like Kevin Pauley, Dale Morton, Marlette Carter and more:

Talking Heads “Road To Nowhere”
Martha and The Vandellas “Nowhere To Run”
Jackson Browne “Runnin’ On Empty”
Celine Dion “I Drove All Night”
Shirley Ellis “The Name Game”
Earth Wind and Fire “September”
Electric Light Orchestra “Mr. Blue Sky”

At 1:30 PM, with a replay at 7 PM, on Life Speaks, Michele Zirkle Marcum explores the benefits of losing things, and how sometimes when you lose things, they come back when you least expect it.

As Michele explains it, “The most unique finds aren’t the physical ones, they are the friendships and experiences that surround lost items and finding a new friend or a “new” angel is a thrilling discovery indeed.”

After Life Speaks, Mark Wolfe talks with Kth Allen on The Best of The Real with Mark Wolfe, and we are then treated to two hours of musical theater on Curtain Call with Mel Larch. The AIR continues with an evening of music, talk and comedy, and at midnight you can check out seven hours of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.

Radio Free Charleston Marathon Tuesday!

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1-31-rfc-marathon-logoGet ready for 24 hours of great local music as we celebrate the last day of January Tuesday, starting at 9 AM on The AIR! Listen at the website, or on this embedded radio player…

Radio Free Charleston is the only regularly-scheduled showcase for local music, and has been around the Charleston area in some form or another since 1989.  Now supporting the local scene on The AIR, RFC brings you local, original music from new artists, established artists, and from our archives, which stretch back over fifty years.

You will hear rock, hip hop, jazz fusion, progressive rock, folk, Americana, classical, avante-garde and experimental music by people with ties to Charleston and the surrounding areas.

Running from 9 AM Tuesday to 9 AM Wednesday morning, this is your chance to sample some of the vibrant, diverse and exciting music that Charleston has to offer.

It would be impossible to list every song we play for all 24 hours of the marathon, but you will hear local favorites like The Company Stores, Qiet, HARRAH, Jeff Ellis, Todd Burge, Pepper Fandango, Spencer Elliott,and more. We’ll also bring you music from Charleston natives who have moved on to other areas like Ann Magnuson, Michael Cerveris, and Deni Bonet. Plus we’ll dig into the archives for tunes from Mother Nang, Go Van Gogh, Hasil Adkinks, The Amazing Delores, Stark Raven and more incredible blasts from the past.

The video incarnation of Radio Free Charleston is gearing up for a relaunch after a year-long hiatus, but the radio show has never stopped. Today’s your chance to tune in and support the local scene.

Sunday Evening Video: JoeLanta Is Coming!

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df7a3e_891ff9045c0a446099699e0bd08ba224mv2We are less than six weeks away from one of your PopCulteer’s favorite events of the year, JoeLanta and the Great Atlanta Toy Convention. Open to the general public on the weekend of March 11 and 12, with special events for people who purchase the Commander’s Package beginning March 8, this is the coolest toy/pop culture event that I go to.

Visit the website for information on special attendance packages, hotel deals, and the general admission, too.

Above you see the recap video for last year’s edition of JoeLanta and the Great Atlanta Toy Convention. It took me months to complete this clip due to isues arising with my eyes during my treatment for Myasthenia Gravis, but with the PopCult peepers on the mend, this year I promise we’ll have the recap up in a more timely manner.

Below you will see the recap of the 2015 edition of JoeLanta, which was yet another fun adventure. I will be making the trip down South again this year, video cameras in tow, and it’d be great to see a crowd of PopCult readers down there with me.

Vendor tables are officially sold out, but there’s a chance that one or two may open up before the show, potential vendors should contact the organizers through the website to get on a waiting list.

There are always special guests, artists and toy experts on hand, like Larry Hama, the creator of The Real American Hero GI Joe, fopr instance.

This year there will be an entire room devoted to panels and screenings from the Transformers experts at Radio Free Cybertron. A full intinerary can be found at the website, with more cool stuff being added every day. You might want to check the Facebook Event page for the lastest news on guests like The Possum Kingdom Ramblers and dealers coming in from around the world.

16003108_10210097439586997_8204423102732240893_nThis year’s convention figure for the folks who get the Commander’s Package is a cool Cave Explorer. That’s him, seen at left. Commanders will also have early access to the dealers, a special “Lobby Swap,” a concert by Radio Cult, plus they’ll get to see the JoeLanta Film Festival, curated by Tim and Lisa Weedn and they can participate in the parachute drop.

JoeLanta and The Great Atlanta Toy Convention is held to benefit the Cody Lane Memorial Toy and Diorama Museum. The Cody Lane Memorial Toy and Diorama Museum is dedicated to Cody Martin Lane, an avid collector and member of the Atlanta GI Joe Collectors Club, who passed away 2007, after a long battle with a degenerative neurological disorder called CIDP.  He was 17 years old.

2017 will be my fifth consecutive trip to Atlanta for the big show, which had previously just been a pipe dream for your PopCulteer whilst he was toiling away as a caregiver for elderly relatives.

I will remain forever grateful to JoeLanta bigwig, Buddy Finethy for calling me early in 2013 and slightly twisting my arm to get me to go, and also to my beautiful wife, Melanie, for being the world’s best travel partner (and a very indulgent spouse).

I plan to bring PopCult readers plenty of photos and videos, but it’s much more fun in person.



Ten Years of RFC Flashback: Episode 33

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33montageFrom January, 2008 comes a show with music from Holden Caulfield and The Synergy Collective. This show also includes Turkish Star Wars and animation by Frank Panucci.

Holden Caulfield was captured live at the La Belle Theater in South Charleston in August, 2007. For The Synergy Collective, we took our cameras to Ric Cochran’s Lighthouse Cafe at the Baptist Temple Fellowship Hall in November, 2007.

33ani02While remastering this show, I was reminded that, in the early days of Radio Free Charleston, I was not as adept at salvaging camera audio as I am now. I h0pe that the performances come through despite the shaky sound.

Frank Panucci contributed another installement of his animated “Existential Journey” series, while we also dug up scenes from the “so bad it’s good” Turkish sci-fi movie that used the special effects from Star Wars without permission. You can read the original production notes HERE.

16174412_1403749776324782_3439105754151120898_nThe PopCulteer
January 27
, 2017

Tonight at 7 PM at the Madison Civic Center (261 Washington Ave, Madison, WV) ASW Wrestling presents Broken Resolutions, an epic wrestling card featuring TNA Wrestling stars “Broken” Matt and Jeff Hardy, whose match will be recorded for an upcoming episode of TNA Impact on Pop TV.

You may remember that I wrote about The Final Deletion, a TNA special match that originally aired last July. At the time I said, “There is something so wonderfully crazed about this that you can’t figure out if it’s the worst thing you’ve ever seen, or the best.”

Since that time the Brothers Hardy have refined the act and have been one of the most interesting sideshow acts that pro wrestling has to offer. At this point, tickets, which are almost sold out, will only be available at the door. In addition to the Broken Hardys, the card will feature ASW’s usual top-notch wrestling stars putting on a whole evening of thrilling action.

More details in this graphic:


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Wonder Crew Is Here To Save The Day!

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The PopCult Toybox

5940_will_pkg_copy_1024x1024Traditional gender lines in the toy business are evolving. This is more a case of the business recognizing reality than it is of any great change in the make-up of how kids play with toys.

There have always been times when boys would want to use play to explore more emotional and nuturing behaviors, like with dolls or creative activities, and there have always been times when girls wanted more action and adventure, with action figures, sports or play weaponry.

It’s only been recently that society has recognized the folly of forcing kids to play within strictly-defined traditional gender roles.

In the past few years we’ve seen a range of Nerf foam play weapons for girls, and last year we saw the rise of two action figure lines aimed at girls, IAmElemental and DC Superhero Girls. We have also seen Hasbro release their Easy Bake Oven in gender-neutral colors so that boys can learn the basics of cooking.

The marketing of toys has caught up with reality as traditional gender-defined roles have evaporated. The end result of this is a better choice of toys for all kids.

about-superhero_largeIn that spirit, Laurel Wider, a psychotherapist and mom, developed Wonder Crew. Wonder Crew is a hybrid doll/action figure, intended for boys, but also fun for girls, that allows kids to figure out their own play patterns.

Wilder was shocked when her son came home from preschool one day and announced that “Boys aren’t supposed to cry.” Frustrated by many of the messages boys were (and weren’t) receiving from the “blue aisle” and inspired by the way play influences child development, Laurel created Wonder Crew to encourage kids to be their full selves.

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