PopCult

Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

Toy Show In Louisville This Weekend

Your PopCulteer and his lovely wife will be heading West (it’s really a pleasant drive) to just South of Louisville, Kentucky for the GI Joe Winterfest, a toy show produced by the fine folks being The Kentuckiana GI Joe Toy Expo (which happens at the end of July). Check out the Facebook Event Page for full details and preview photos.

This will be our first Winterfest, and it’s the first show at the new home of The Kentuckiana show.  GI Joe Winterfest happens at the Paroquet Springs Conference Centre, at 395 Paroquet Springs Drive, in Shepherdsville, KY.  It’s not far at all from the South Louisville Antique Toy Mall, so most toy collectors ought to have an easy time finding it. Check out how cool it looks…

One of the main attractions for yours truly is the ample supply of new Super Joe Unlimited figures that will be for sale there from My Vintage Toys and Trains.  I recently told you about those HERE and posted another video about them HERE.  However there will be dozens of vendors  and the show promises lots of old and new 12 inch and 3 3/4 inch GI Joes, Star Wars toys, Super Hero figures, Marx Toys, Megos, Big Jim, Pop Culture items and much more.

I’m hoping we can find some SpongeBob stuff for Mel.

GI Joe Winterfest is Saturday, with a Friday preview. Here’s the hours and details:

Saturday 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM Admission Just $8.00
Early Bird Admission at 9:00 AM for $15.00

Friday Night Preview 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM for $30.00

All admissions payable at the doors.

This is our first GI Joe Winterfest, and it is at a new location, but to give you a hint of what it might be like, check out this video I made for last year’s Kentuckiana GI Joe Toy Expo…

 

Intrusive Thoughts And STUFF TO DO

We are smack dab in the middle of Winter but there’s plenty of STUFF TO DO in Charleston and the surrounding area this weekend. But first, I’m going to tell you about a very cool Kickstarter project about which I am very excited.

Intrusive Thoughts is a first chapter of a six-part comic book series written by Anthony D. Stokes.  Last year I told you about his mini-series, Decay (which is three parts into its five-part story), and I am enjoying Decay so much that I’ve already kicked in on this campaign and made the decision not to learn too much about it until I have it in my hands. I don’t want t ruin any elements of the story.

Here’s what Stokes says on the Kickstarter campaign page: “Intrusive Thoughts Issue 1 is the start of a six-issue horror mystery comic book series that’s a combination of The Sandman and Where The Wild Things Are. The first issue is 28 full color pages.”

That’s all it took to sell me on the book. In a short time I have become a big fan of Stokes’ writing, and I’m really eager to see how he wraps up Decay (a campaign for the fourth and fifth issues will launch in a few weeks).

So if you want to get in early on the career of a storyteller who I predict will be a major talent in the next few years, visit the Kickstarter page for Intrusive Thoughts, and while you’re there, add on the first three issues of Decay.  You can choose levels with print or digital rewards, plus a variety of art prints and variant covers. Check out the video here…

And now on with STUFF TO DO

Live Music is back at Taylor Books. There is no cover charge, and shows start at 7:30 PM. Friday it’s Autumn Rae. Saturday That High Country Revival serenades the crowd at Charleston’s beloved Bookstore/Coffee Shop/Art Gallery.

The Empty Glass has some great stuff through the week to tell you about.   Thursday from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM, Swingstein and Robin play fiddle and piano and sing swing and early jazz standards. Each week they donate their tips to a local nonprofit.  Later on Thursday, Three’s Company Blues will play for a mere three-dollar cover.  Friday from 5 PM to 8 PM Timmy “Courts and Friends hold down the fort at the Glass. Friday at 10 PM Ruby–Mountain Soul Music will bring her violin to the stage at The Glass.  Saturday Andrew Pauley will be back, along with Rona Myers Sullivan and Mike Stange starting at 10 PM.  Next week they’ll have an open mic Monday night, and Songwriter Showcase on Tuesday. Weekend shows that have graphics are listed among the images below.

Please remember that the pandemic is not over yet. In fact, it’s surging again. Many people who have very good reasons are still wearing masks, and many of us, understandably, are still nervous about being in crowds, masked or not. Be kind and understanding  while you’re out.

If you’re up for going out, here are a few suggestions for the rest of this week, roughly in order except for the first item you see, which happens Sunday, and is for a very good cause.

SUNDAY

THURSDAY

 

FRIDAY

 

 

 

SATURDAY

 

 

The First Part of Animalistic Beatles and Ragtime On The AIR Wednesday

Wednesday afternoon The AIR brings you a special new episodes of Curtain Call and Beatles Blast, both of which are the first halves of two-part specials!  You can tune in at the website, or if you’re on a laptop or desktop, you could just stay right here and  listen to the convenient embedded radio player lurking elsewhere on this page.

At 2 PM Beatles Blast presents a themed show that, when I first thought of it, I thought was a dumb idea and there wouldn’t be enough songs to fill out an hour. I had the silly idea of doing an hour of Beatles songs (group and solo) about animals, or at least that mention an animal in the title. The Beatles were all animal lovers, so I figured it might be worth a shot.

Then I started compiling tracks for the show, and discovered that it’s going to be a two-parter. They had more animal songs than I realized. So come back next week for part two. Check out the playlist for part one below. I damn-near had enough songs about birds to give them a show of their own, but I decided to mix it up a bit.

Beatles Blast 087

The Beatles “Martha My Dear”
George Harrison “Baltimore Oriole”
John Lennon “Surprise, Surprise (Sweet Bird of Paradox)”
Ringo Starr “Bye Bye, Blackbird”
Paul McCartney “Long Tailed Winter Bird”
The Beatles “Free As A Bird”
Paul McCartney “All You Horse Riders”
George Harrison “Fish On The Sand”
John Lennon “Cold Turkey”
Ringo Starr “A Mouse Like Me”
The Beatles “Piggies”
The Beatles “Hey Bulldog”
Paul McCartney “Ram On (unreleased reprise)”
John Lennon “Hound Dog”
The Beatles “Blackbird”

Beatles Blast can be heard every Wednesday at 2 PM, with replays Thursday at 11 PM, Friday at 1 PM,  and Saturday afternoon.

At 3 PM on Curtain Call, Mel Larch salutes  25 years since the Broadway debut of the musical based on E. L. Doctorow’s Ragtime. Mel also want to pay her respects to Frank Galati, who directed the show, and who passed away on January 2.

Galati was a beloved director, writer, and actor. He was a member of Steppenwolf Theatre Company and an associate director at Goodman Theatre. He taught at Northwestern University for many years.

Ragtime featured music by Stephen Flaherty, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, and a book by Terrence McNally.

Set in the late-period gilded age of the early 20th century, Ragtime tells the story of three groups in the United States: African Americans, represented by Coalhouse Walker Jr., a Harlem musician; upper-class suburbanites, represented by Mother, the matriarch of a white upper-class family in New Rochelle, New York; and Eastern European immigrants, represented by Tateh, a Jewish immigrant from Latvia.

The show also incorporates historical figures such as Harry Houdini, Evelyn Nesbit, Booker T. Washington, J. P. Morgan, Henry Ford, Stanford White, Harry Kendall Thaw, and Admiral Peary, an weaves its narrative around some of the true-life scandals and events of the day.

It’s a great show, and also a long one. Rather than just bring you highlights, Mel decided to spread Ragtime over two episodes of Curtain Call, so like Beatles Blast, you get to come back next week for part two.

Curtain Call can be heard on The AIR Wednesday at 3 PM, with replays Thursday at 8 AM, Friday at 10 AM, Saturday at 8 PM and Monday at 9 AM. A six-hour marathon of classic episodes can be heard Sunday evening starting at 6 PM, and an all-night marathon of Curtain Call episodes can be heard Wednesday nights, beginning at Midnight.

Also on The AIR, Wednesday at 11 PM,  The Comedy Vault gears up a new episode for the new year.  This time you get a solid hour of the weirdly comical music of Barnes & Barnes.  The Comedy Vault can be heard every Wednesday at 11 PM, with the featured episodes replayed the following Monday at 8 PM.

Time Again For Local, Independent and Swing Music, and Free Format Radio on The AIR

It’s Tuesday on The AIR  and that means it’s Radio Free Charleston time, plus we also have a new edition of The Swing Shift for you enjoy. You simply have to point your cursor over and tune in at the website, or you could just stay here, and  listen to the cool embedded player found elsewhere on this page.

We have another fun hybrid show on Radio Free Charleston this week, with one all-new hour, followed by a classic two-hour Radio Free Charleston International, at 10 AM and 10 PM Tuesday.   This week our latest Radio Free Charleston has killer new tunes from loads of artists, and I’m going to tell you all about them now.

We open the show with a track from the next Zeroking album, and we continue with a cool mix of new stuff by local and indie artists, with a few ringers tossed in and the big deal this week, we have a preview track from the new album by legendary Alternative Rock band, Poi Dog Pondering, which will officially be released Friday (but you early adopters can snag it now from Bandcamp).

Poi Dog Pondering’s Keep On Loving Each Other, a song cycle that reverberates with the determination to follow one’s heart while living within an extended arm’s embrace of empathy, is the band’s 10th full-length album.

Our second and third hours resurrect an episode of RFC International from October, 2018, and it’s from back when almost every episode was a mixtape presentation that celebrates the concept of free-format radio.

Check out the playlist below to see all the goodies we have in store. Live links in the first hour will take you to the artist’s page…

Radio Free Charleston V5 116

hour one
Zeroking “Dead Are Dancing”
Law Biting Citizens “So Long Suckers”
Least “Power Blazer”
The Switch “Broken Pieces”
Leathers “Runaway”
Nixon Black “Win Place Or Show”
Hello June “Stranger”
Poi Dog Pondering “Sweet Taste In My Mouth”
Frenchy And The Punk “Mon Souvenir”
Jeremy Short “Happy Trees”
Marc Almond “My Love”
Buni Muni “Get Out Of The City”
We Are Scientists “Human Resources”
Stark Raven “Whiter Shade of Pale”

hour two
Elvis Costello and The Imposters “Under Lime”
Glen Matlock “Strange Kinda Taste”
Antarcticats “Pony”
Be Bop Deluxe “Shine”
Bourbon “Fuente Vieja”
Echo and the Bunnymen “Ocean Rain (Trasnformed)”
Ian Gillian and the Javelins “You’re Gonna Ruin Me Baby”
Joe Strummer “Coma Girl”
Katie Melua “Closest Thing To Crazy”
Keith Emerson “Walter L”
Argyle Goolsby “Nightsurf”

hour three
Billy F. Gibbons “Standing Around Crying”
Dave Davies “Same Old Blues”
Boz Scaggs “On The Beach”
Neil Finn and Paul Kelly “Deeper Water”
Kirsten Hersh “Lady Godiva”
Les Big Byrd “I’ve Tried So Hard”
Nazereth “My White Bicycle”
John Lennon “Oh My Love”
Paul McCartney “Ceasar Rock”
Pink Fairies “Resident Reptile”
Shriekback “My Spine Is The Bassline”
The Struts “Fire” and “Ashes”

You can hear this episode of Radio Free Charleston Tuesday at 10 AM and 10 PM on The AIR, with replays Wednesday at 9 AM,  Thursday at 3 PM, Friday at 9 AM, Saturday at Noon and Midnight,  and  Monday at 11 AM, exclusively on The AIR. Now you can also hear a different episode of RFC every weekday at 5 PM, and we bring you a marathon all night long Saturday night/Sunday morning.

I’m also going to  embed a low-fi, mono version of this show right in this post, right here so you can listen on demand.

 

After RFC, stick around for encores of  MIRRORBALL at 1 PM and Curtain Call at 2 PM.

At 3 PM we have a new hour of The Swing Shift that’s loaded with classic Big Band Era artists, mixed in with newer stuff and even a track from The Yardbirds to pay tribute to Jeff Beck.  Check out this playlist…

The Swing Shift 136

Paul Carrack “Frim Fram Sauce”
The Yardbirds “Jeff’s Boogie”
Tyler Pedersen “Steppin'”
David Campbell “You’re Nobody Til Somebody Loves You”
Daniel Glass Trio “Smoke On The Water”
Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne “New Way To Love”
Artie Shaw & His Orchestra “Frenesi”
Carroll Gibbons & Savoy Hotel Orpheans “I’m Going To Get Lit Up When The Lights Go Up In London”
Ronnie Lane & Pete Townsend “Catmelody”
Duke Ellington “I Let A Song Go Out of My Heart”
Lester Young “Jumpin’ At The Woodside”
Buddy Rich “The Trolly Song”
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy “Five Months, Two Weeks, Two Days”

You can hear The Swing Shift Tuesday at 3 PM, with replays Wednesday at 8 AM, Friday at 10 AM and 8 PM and Saturday afternoon, only on The AIR . You can also hear all-night marathons, seven hours each, starting at Midnight Thursday and Sunday evenings.

Prognosis Hits 100 With New Music From Jethro Tull, Peter Gabriel, Jon Anderson and More!

Herman Linte’s Prognosis hits a massive, epic and bombastic milestone Monday, as the show hit’s its 100th episode.

But first, Monday at 2 PM on The AIR, we bring you a new episode of Psychedelic Shack  You can listen to The AIR at the website, or on the embedded radio player elsewhere on this page.

On Psychedelic Shack, Nigel Pye offers up an hour-long mixtape of Psychedelic Music that, on this show,  kicks off with new music from Belle and Sebastion. Check out the playlist…

Psychedelic Shack 073

Belle and Sebastian “Juliet Naked”
Simon T. Stokes “Cobwebs”
The Glass Menagerie “End Of The Line”
The Radical Five ‘I Should Have Stayed In Bed”
Gypsy Moss “Captive To The Night”
Alan Avon & The Shop “A Night To Remember”
Kate Kennedy Construction Company “Armagedden”
Motivation “Little Man”
Edwick Rumbold “Boggle Woggle”
The Glass Opening “Does It Really Matter”
Steerpike “Prelude and The Marble Steps”
Orange Machine “Dr. Crippen’s Waiting Room”
White Trash “Illusions”
The Majority “Time Machine Man”
Harsh Reality “Praying For Reprieve”
The Unknown Group “Out of my Mind (Over You)”

Psychedelic Shack can be heard every Monday at 2 PM, with replays Tuesday at 9 AM, Wednesday at 10 PM, Friday at 1 PM,  and Saturday at 9 AM.

The big deal Monday starts at 3 PM. On a very special Prognosis, Herman Linte presents two full hours of epic Progressive Rock, and to mark the 100th episode, Herman Linte has loaded this program with ALL NEW MUSIC. Every track you hear in this show was released less than six weeks ago.

He opens with the preview single from the forthcoming new Jethro Tull album, RökFlöte, which is due out in April. This record sees Ian Anderson and crew exploring Norse Paganism. Following that we get new music from Peter Gabriel, Tranatlantic, John Cale and loads of newer Progessive Rock artists.

Also of note, opening the second hour, Herman treats us to a preview of Jon Anderson’s upcoming sequel to his Olias of Sunhillow album.

It’s been a real kick having Herman and the rest of the Haversham Recording Institute crew making these programs of theirs, true labors of love, for the last six and a half years, and it’ll be cool to see what they have in store for us in the future. If you’ve been scoring at home, you may realize that, if Prognosis has hit one-hundred episodes, then that means that on Friday, so will Sydney Fileen,  and Sydney’s Big Electric Cat. You won’t want to miss that.

But check out this playist of all-new Progressive Rock on today’s Prognosis

Prognosis 100

JethroTull “Ginnugagap”
Peter Gabriel “Panopticom”
Floor Jansen “Invincible”
Hypnose “Sheol Part II”
Transatlantic “Rose Colored Glasses (live)”
Sermon “Golden”
Riverside “The Place Where I Belong”
John Cale “Moonstruck (Nico’s Song)”
Jon Anderson “Zamran Is Coming”
The Prog Collective “A Matter of Time”
Skald ” Då Månen Sken”
69 Windmills “Tiny Robots”
Dead Meadow “The Left Hand Path”
VV “Vertigo Eyes”
The Subways “Futures”
Emolecule “Mastermind”
The Ocean “Preboreal”

You can hear Prognosis on The AIR Monday at 3 PM, with replays Tuesday at 7 AM, Wednesday at 8 PM, Thursday at Noon, and Saturday at 10 AM. You can hear two classic episodes of the show Sunday at 2 PM.

Tonight at 9 PM we bring you an overnight marathon of some of Herman’s favorite episodes of Prognosis.

Monday Morning Art: Inky Building

I’m still doing the ink thing here, playing with the Winsor-Newtons that Mel got me for Christmas. This week I cheated a bit. What you see above is really a mixed-media piece. Using photos for reference that I took in Chicago last month, I came up with a drawing of one of the buildings you see while standing in the Loop, looking up and gawking.

However, after trying to use a brush with a ruler, sanity prevailed and I switched to a marker. I did try a bunch of stipling with the brush, but lost all that when I did an ink wash over the basic drawing. There’s also a little watercolor at play here, since I felt the brownstone building on the right side was too yellow and I haven’t mastered the art of mixing ink yet.

I was attempting to use some of the light and shadow techniques I learned imitating Hopper a year ago, but I don’t know how obvious they are in this piece because the composition is nothing like his. I think the end result is a weird mix of architectural drawing and hyper-realism.  The ink wash over stipling gave me an almost-photographic look, but my fingers were too shot to do the whole piece that way, so it sort of has one foot in each world.

To see it bigger try clicking HERE.

Check back in with PopCult later today because we’ll have a second post to tell you all about a milestone program this afternoon on The AIR.

The RFC Flashback: Episodes Seven and Eight

Image75

We continue with our chronological run through the video version of Radio Free Charleston with our first two-part episode. Now combined into one video clip, it’s the first Radio Free Charleston Halloween Special. In our first year we decided to do two episodes for Halloween, back-to-back on consecutive weeks (the first time we achieved that, by the way). At the end of the first show, your host (that’s me) gets killed. Part two is hosted by my ghost.

Music includes The Concept, half of The Pistol Whippers, Whistlepunk, Clownhole and Professor Mike. These shows also include Pentagram Flowerbox, animation by yours truly and Brian Young, short films by Frank Panucci and the first on-screen appearance of Mrs. opCulteer, Mel Larch. This began the tradition of RFC taking on overly-ambitious ideas for our Halloween Shows, and if you haven’t seen it, I hope you enjoy it.

The Trouble With “Velma,” Plus More Super Joe

The PopCulteer
January 20, 2023

So HBOMax’s latest attempt at rebooting the Scooby-Doo Franchise, Mindy Kaling’s Velma, may be one of the worst-reviewed things in the world in recent history. At Rotten Tomatoes, the critic’s score was below 50% positive, which is bad, but the audience score is only 6% and dropping, which is atrocious. If Velma was a publicly-traded company, NASDAQ would have delisted it by now.

It’s pretty hard to defend. The show fails on almost every level. If you could somehow harness the power created by a swing and a miss, Velma could conceivably power a small European country for over a year.

Let me be clear here, I am the farthest thing from a Scooby-Doo purist you could find. I was seven years and one month old when I excitedly tuned in to watch the debut of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! on CBS back in 1969. I’d seen ads for it in comic books, and wanted to see if it was any good.

I sorta liked it. It was funny and fast-paced and I was seven and didn’t know any better, so I made it a point to tune in the next Saturday to watch.

And I clearly remember, to this day, what happened. The second episode of the show had exactly the same plot as the first one. I was disgusted. It was the first time in my life that I can remember realizing that my intelligence had been insulted. They just crapped out the same story with a different villain and pretended it was all-new.

From that point on, I viewed Scooby-Doo with no small amount of contempt. I still watched to see if they had diverted from the plot (they hadn’t) and I watched The New Scooby-Doo Movies simply because of the guest stars, like Batman and Robin, Sonny and Cher and The Harlem Globetrotters, but even those still used the same old plot of somebody pretending to be a ghost or a monster to scare people away (belated spoiler alert there).

Over the enusing decades there were a few bright spots. One short season of The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, with Vincent Price tagging along, was pretty good, as 1980s television animation goes. In 2010 Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated began a very well-done 52 episode run on Cartoon Network.  It was actually clever, engaging and smart–something that was not the norm for Scooby-Doo cartoons.  For the most part, however, Scooby-Doo always struck me as a pretty pedestrian concept that was never really that great. I’m always a bit surprised when somebody says they liked it.

So I’m not put off by the idea of a reboot. And I’m not bothered by the new diverse cast, or the adult-humor aspect of Velma.

I am put off by the gigantic pointlessness of it all.

It’s okay to change the race of three of the five lead characters. It could even be okay to totally omit the main character (there is no dog in Velma). What’s so mind-numbingly baffling is that they completely changed the personalities and interpersonal relationships of every single character.

There was no reason for them to bother with this reboot when the only thing they kept was the names of the four supporting characters. The characters retain none of their distinctive characteristics, aside from some visual trappings of the original show.

The adult humor aspect completely falls flat. The Venture Brothers did the “Adult Swim” take on the Scooby-Doo gang a decade and a half ago, played with it for eight minutes, and having exhausted every possible joke out of the idea, tossed it aside, never to revisit it.

Velma based a whole series on that flimsy premise.

There was no burning need for this. Mike Tyson Mysteries (with the same executive producer and animation studio) cranked up the level of absurdity and did this so much better without all the cringeworthy failed attempts at humor.

In this series, which purports to be an “origin story,” Velma, instead of being highly intelligent and competent, is a clueless, oblivious idiot who just happens to be of South Asian descent. Daphne is an Asian “mean girl” who apparently deals drugs on the side. Fred is a stereotypical rich White kid with sexual dysfunction. And Shaggy, called here by his real name, Norville, is a Black anti-drug crusading, super-intelligent school newspaper editor.

It’s like the Bizarro World Scooby-Doo, only it’s as lame as the original series was.

And even that would be forgiveable if the damned thing was remotely funny. The real sin of Velma is that it’s imitation cutting-edge. Every joke in the show has been done better, usually a decade or more ago, on The Venture Brothers, Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law, Robot Chicken or Rick and Morty.

And the execution of those familiar jokes is piss-poor. They crack so many humorless lines about how diverse the cast is that you wonder if the writers have some kind of FOX News anti-diversity agenda.

Velma is awful enough that it’d be more at home on FOX Nation than HBOMax. The show is poisoned by its self-referential, “Look how clever we are” comedic tone.

It’s not the worst adult-oriented cartoon ever made. Allen Gregory and El SuperBeasto still out-horrid it by miles, but it’s just so self-absorbed, derivative, unfunny…unnecessary that you really have to wonder how this show managed to survive Warner Brothers Discovery’s budget axe. Certainly, it would contribute more to the world if it were merely a tax write-off, locked away in a vault, never to be seen by human eyes. Even much of the animation design and style is ripped off from The Venture Brothers.

This is the kind of project that people pay to have removed from their IMDB profile.

So…I don’t really recommend it. I hope all the talented people involved quickly move on to other projects. I try not to be overly negative in this blog, but a person has their limits.

More Super Joe Unlimited

My second Super Joe Unlimited figure arrived, and I promised photos.  For the main story, check yesterday’s post.

The African American Super Joe Unlimited Commander, in the red jumpsuit.

An action pose, showing off the dark versions of the chestplate and helmet. And yes, those are Action Boy boots. I had them handy.

That’s this week’s PopCulteer. Check back for all our regular weekend features and fresh content every day!

Super Joe Unlimited Is Here!

The PopCult Toybox

I first told you about the revival of Super Joe last summer, with preview images of the prototypes that were shown at The Kentuckiana GI Joe Toy Expo. Now the figures are available and they are pretty spectacular.

First a little history is in order.  In 1976, following a healthy 12-year run, Hasbro decided to pull the plug on the 12″ tall GI Joe. Originally a military toy, Hasbro shifted gears and found even more success by adding fuzzy hair and Kung-Fu grip to the first action figure, but by 1976, competition from Kenner’s Six Million Dollar Man and MEGO’s World’s Greatest Superheroes line, combined with rising production costs convinced Hasbro to try something drastic.

Hasbro ditched the “GI” and co-opted half of MEGO’s “Superheroes” and most importantly, reduced the size of the figure. Super Joe was a vague science fiction concept that did its best to look sort of like it was a licensed property. The main figure looked a bit like the Adventure Team GI Joe, minus the fuzzy hair, but he wore a Flash Gordonesque body suit and had cool science fiction weapons. He also had a collection of aliens to fight. He was taller than the MEGO figures, but noticably shorter than his predecessor. Super Joe was a great-looking line that could have had a longer life, had circumstances not dictated otherwise.

Super Joe made his debut in 1977,  just around the time when the country fell in love with Star Wars. Kids wanted Star Wars toys…and nothing else. Competing toy lines didn’t really have much of a chance.

Super Joe was also at a disadvantage because of his size. He was too big to be compatible with MEGO figures.  He was noticeably shorter than Mattel’s Big Jim (which was being discontinued in the US around this time anyway) and he was dwarfed by Kenner’s Steve Austin.

One other thing about Super Joe that didn’t help matters any is that Super Joe was one of the most fragile action figures ever made. His body was basically a scaled-down version of Hasbro’s “Muscle
Body,” which was introduced at the end of the GI Joe Adventure Team line. That body replaced the sturdy nylon joints of the original Joe with super-fragile rubber joints that were prone to decay. Since Super Joe was smaller, so too were his joints, which made them exceedingly fragile.

The figures that didn’t break with standard play, eventually fell apart from the joints rotting…often in less than five years.

Almost everybody who has a Super Joe in their collection today has had to restore him by replacing the joints, or just gluing him together in a static pose. Figures found in unopened boxes are usually just held together by their jumpsuits.

Hasbro tried to reuse those bodies for a toy line based on the show, Space Academy, but those were so poorly promoted that I didn’t even know they existed until about six years ago. After two years, Hasbro threw in the towel and cancelled the line. The next revival of GI Joe would be the Real American Hero concept, which was wildly successful, and saw our action hero shrunk to even smaller dimensions.

A last note is that nearly everything I know about Super Joe I learned from Super fan, Steve Stovall.  Steve puts on the Kentuckiana GI Joe Toy Expo in Louisville, and invited me to his house a few years ago, where I saw the largest collection of Super Joe stuff I’ve ever seen.  Steve is very important to the latest chapter in Super Joe’s story.

Steve discovered that Hasbro trademark on “Super Joe” had expired, and he teamed up with White Elephant Toyz to secure the trademark and develop a new body design that would be compatible with the original Super Joe, but would fix the design flaws that made them so fragile. With that, Super Joe Unlimited was born, and the first figures are being shipped now.

White Elephant Toyz has alread sold out of their Caucasian figures, but still have kits to build their African-American figures, plus loads of accessories at their website. Steve’s eBay business, My Vintage Toys and Trains, has a limited number of assembled figures for sale at eBay. Steve will also have figures for sale at the Kentuckiana Winterfest Show on January 28. I’ll be telling you much more about this next week, and I’ll have plenty of photos and maybe video from the event after the fact.

With all that backstory out of the way, here’s a quick photo essay showing off Super Joe Unlimited. I snagged one from Steve so I could preview this before Winterfest. There may be additional photos of a figure I have coming in from White Elephant Toyz in tomorrow’s PopCulteer.

Here is Super Joe Unliimted, fully outfitted with some of his weapons.

Undressed so you can see the joints, which were all tight and sturdy.

The back view

A closer look at that great headsculpt.

Dressed and with a cool space dog tag. The only criticism I have is that the tailoring of his suit needs a little tweaking. The legs of his jumpsuit could stand to be a bit longer, so that it doesn’t restrict his range of motion.

Sometimes when you rush into doing a photo shoot, you do stupid things, like putting on the chestpiece backwards.

Just a few of the cool accessories. One note on the belt. It’s very thick and sturdy, so it might be more pliable soaked in warm water or tightened up in a clamp before you use it. This one won’t break, like the originals did.

Is that helmet cool or what?

A height comparison: MEGO on the left, Super Joe Unlimited in the middle, and Playing Mantis’ Kid Action (repro Action Boy) on the right. The Ideal Action Boy is taller, so keep that in mind.

Super Joe Unlimited and Kid Action are about the same height, but the body proportions don’t match.

The first batch of Super Joe Unlimited headsculpts, swiped from their Facebook page. More are on the way.

Mike Power has joined the Super Joe Unlimited team, and will be available at Winterfest next week.

 

 

 

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