Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

Month: June 2021 (Page 1 of 4)

Help Identify This Mystery Figure

The PopCult Toybox

UPDATE: The Mystery has been solved, less than an hour after this was posted. Read the answer at the bottom of this post!

Usually here in PopCult, I’m the person telling you all about cool toys and figures and things, and I usually have all the details needed to enlighten you.

This time, I’m the one needing enlightened. I need your help identifying this figure I found on a recent trip. I have been researching this for weeks, and while I came up with a few leads, none of them have panned out.

Let me tell you how this mystery guy showed up in my collection: On the way back from WonderFest early in June, we stopped at the Peddler’s Mall in Winchester, Kentucky. Peddler’s Mall is a small chain of antique malls that have proven to be rich hunting grounds for vintage toys, comics and trading cards. While speed-shopping through the place (Mrs. PopCulteer was in the car, enjoying the air conditioning), I found this guy in one of the booths.

I was intrigued, but probably picked him and put him back three or four times before I decided that he was too interesting to pass up at $8.99.

Due to the construction type, material and sculpting quality, I would say he probably dates back to the late 1950s/early 1960s.

The tag around his neck identified him as “Decades Vintage, Vintage Plastic Toy.”

Not a lot to work with there.

My first thought was that he might be a Marx Toy, but the figure has no markings at all, anywhere.

Let me describe him as objectively as possible: The figure appears to be 1/8 or 1/9 scale in size. It is a seated figure of a middle-aged man, dressed in what appears to be mid-century casual attire, with a suit jacket, no tie and his shirt unbuttoned.  His pants are cuffed. His shoes are slip-on loafers. In his seated position, his feet are pointed down, indicating that he was seated in a taller chair, or a rocking chair, or possibly bleachers or as a passenger in a vehicle.  He is not posed as though he is driving. One hand is raised slightly off his leg, while the other rests on his other thigh. He is seated in a casual manner, with one leg arched outward.

The figure is molded in a dark tan/light brown styrene plastic.

He is hollow, with two-piece (front and back) construction. The Sculpting quality is quite good, on par with a Marx sculpt, but the assembly is rather sloppy, with gaps in the seams and sloppy glue application.

The detail on the sculpting goes to great lengths to depict fabric textures, but the figure is completely smooth on his rear end and the backs of his legs, indicating that he was meant to be paired with a seat of some kind, possibly a sofa or a rocking chair.

His two-piece construction reminded me of a Hartland figure, but those figures are considerably smaller, more crudely sculpted, and are usually painted.

This guy shows no sign of ever having been painted. The pigment used on him is very close to what Marx used on a few solid plastic figures, and the quality of sculpting is on par with Marx, but the complete absence of any manufacturer marks tells me it isn’t a Marx figure, or at least not a Marx figure that was made for sale to the general public.

I have not been able to identify the face. I think he bears a slight resemblance to the actor, Robert Young, the star of the sitcom, Father Knows Best and the medical drama, Marcus Welby, M.D., but the figure is not dressed the way either of those characters would have been depicted in merchandising at the times they were on the air.

He may very well be another celebrity of the day, or he could be a politician, preacher,coach or retired athlete, or historical figure. However, the lack of a tie is a curious omission if that last one were the case.

At the Marx Toy Convention I showed a photo of him around, and nobody recognized him. Mark Hegeman, who knows way more about vintage toys that I do was stumped, but suggested he might be part of a model kit. Aurora made a model kit of President Kennedy in a rocking chair, but Mark looked him up on Google, and the Aurora figural kits had many more pieces and were molded in different-colored plastic, plus this guy doesn’t look like Kennedy. However, there is a possibility that he might be a refugee from another company’s model kit. I haven’t ruled it out.

In fact, I haven’t ruled out a lot yet.

He could be an advertising figure that was attached to a store display. He might have been part of a large-scale dollhouse playset. It’s possible that this was a very small-scale production for a private display, possibly to sell furniture or something.  He could also be a passenger in a remote-control car or plane. He might be an historical figure of some sort, possibly part of a set that came seated on a display. He might even be a miniature version of a statue of a famous author, separated from his base.

He does not show signs of being permanently attached to any base.

So I am stumped. I’m including plenty of pictures here, and you can click on them for a larger version. If you can help me solve the mystery, please leave a comment. I’d really like to know who he is.

More photos after the jump…

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Lost Decades, The Madison 2, The Swivel Rockers on a new RFC Tuesday.

Tuesday on The AIR  we deliver a partly brand-new episode of Radio Free Charleston. It’s three hours of music that lets you support the local scene and indulge your strange musical desires. You simply have to move your cursor over and tune in at the website, or you could just stay on this page, and  listen to the cool embedded player over at the top of the right column.

We have a newish Radio Free Charleston at 10 AM and 10 PM Tuesday.  This week we open with a new track from The Lost Decades, and bring you one all-new hour of RFC, and one encore of the very first episode of RFC International. Life, technical issues and laziness have kept us from doing a new RFC in five weeks, so getting this one done on time was a pretty neat accomplishment.  We do manage to bring you some killer new and vintage local and independent music in our first hour, plus some really great stuff in hours two and three.

After the first hour of RFC, stick around because the second hour revives The first RFC International, from 2016, which hasn’t been heard by human ears in almost five years.

Check out the playlist to see all the goodies we bring you this week…

RFCv5 053

Lost Decades “Crushed At Dawn”
The Madison 2 “Small Town (live)”
The Madison 2 “Chains (live)”
The Swivel Rockers “Sweet Little 16 (live)”
The Swivel Rockers “She Loves My Automobile (live)”
Danny Elfman “Everybody Loves You”
Garbage with John Doe and Exene “Destroying Angels”
The Residents “The Aging Musician”
Matt Berry “The Blue Elephant”
All Torches Lit “Vagabond”
mediogres “Morning Delight”
Mark Beckner Group “Odessa”
Sierra Ferrall “In Dreams”

hour two (RFC International #1)
The Beatles and Led Zepplin “Helter Skelter”
The Beetlevanias “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
The Rutles “Shangra La”
Chemical Beats “Welcome To The Black Parade”
Todd Rundgren “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”
The Beatnix “Stairway To Heaven”
Be Bop Deluxe “Surreal Estate”
Kerry Livgren “Mask of the Great Deceiver”
The Buggles “Vermillion Sands”
Nightwish “The Heart Asks Pleasure First”

hour three
Ian Dury and the Blockheads “Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll”
Madness “One Step Beyond”
Lene Lovich “Lucky Number”
DEVO “Jocko Homo”
ELP “Benny The Bouncer
Franz Ferdinand/Sparks “Dictator’s Son”
David Bowie “Blackstar”
Transvision Vamp “Velveteen”
Jellyfish “Brighter Day”
Split Enz “Bullet Brain and Cactus Head”
Hazel O’Connor “Writing on the Wall”
Kate Bush “Suspended in Gaffa”

You can hear this episode of Radio Free Charleston Tuesday at 10 AM and 10 PM on The AIR, with a replay Thursday at 3 PM. This Friday we’re going to begin an RFC Marathon that will run all weekend long. I’ll tell you about that in a day or two.

As is now the norm, 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.

The Swing Shift will return with a new episode next week.

Monday Morning Art: Bottle Shadows

This week our art is a photograph. I ran it through a few filters, but I didn’t really do much in the way of painting or redrawing anything. The art in this is the composition. I was outside Saturday, for way more time than I normally spend out of doors, and the way the late afternoon sun caught these bottles and cast those wild shadows struck me as camera-worthy, so I whipped out my phone, and you see the results above.

If you want to see it bigger, just click on the image.

Meanwhile, Monday at 2 PM on The AIR, we bring you a classic episode of  Psychedelic Shack, followed at 3 PM by an encore of a recent edition of Herman Linte’s weekly showcase of the Progressive Rock of the past half-century, Prognosis.  You can listen to The AIR at the website, or on the embedded radio player at the top of the right-hand column of this blog.

Psychedelic Shack can now 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. Classic episodes can be heard Sunday at 9 AM as part of our Sunday Haversham Recording Institute collection.  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.

At 7 PM, stick around for a 12-hour marathon of my favorite single episodes of the programs on The AIR.

Sunday Evening Videos: Marx Toy Mania

Tonight we have two PopCult Videos that were shot on June 18, 2021. First we have a quick look at the first day of the 2021 Marx Toy Convention, and below that you’ll find a quick look at the Marx Toy Museum sale that happened later that evening.

On June 18 and 19, 2021, after a one-year hiatus due to the pandemic, The Marx Toy Convention made a triumphant return to The Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum in Wheeling, West Virginia!

The PopCult cameras were on hand, and here’s a brief look at the sights, and some of the sounds of the 2021 Marx Toy Convention!

Later that day we made the short drive to Moundsville and The Marx Toy Museum which officially closed in 2016. However, the museum’s owner, Francis Turner–whose collection formed the basis of the museum, has reopened the Marx Toy Museum for one-night sales every year since its closing, and after one year off due to the pandemic, on June 18, 2021, following the first day of the Marx Toy Convention, Francis welcomed collectors into the museum once again. This is a quick taste of what we saw…

The RFC Flashback: MINI SHOW number 61

This week we flash back to June, 2015, when I brought you footage shot the previous March at JoeLanta (now ToyLanta).

ToyLanta, of course, is the annual gathering of devotees of the original 12″ GI Joe, held every year in Atlanta Georgia. We’re talking about one of the most fun toy conventions in the country. All the proceeds go to benefit the Cody Lane Memorial Toy Museum, which will present hands-on play experiences and amazing action figure dioramas. I can’t want to go back in person, next year.

The JoeLanta Jam Band consists of our friends Radio Cult (Ricky Zhero, Bambi Lynn and Jeremy Slotin), teamed up with guest musicians from the world of GI Joe collecting. There are some very talented folks in the hobby, and their talents extend beyond customizing and building action figure dioramas.

In this edition of The RFC MINI SHOW you’ll get to hear David Lane, one of the JoeLanta organizers, handle lead vocals while master dioramist and model-building Mike Gardner tears it up on lead guitar on a cover of “Give Me Three Steps.” Later, Alex Massey, a GI Joe wunderkind of the diorama world, shows off his guitar chops, teaming with Radio Cult for “Detroit Rock City.”

Saturday Night Fever and Marx Convention Swag

The PopCulteer
June 25, 2021

We have photos of the goodies I acquired on our trip up North last week, but before that, we have news on today’s brand-new episode of Mel Larch’s MIRRORBALL on The Air!

Friday afternoon we offer up a special new episode of MIRRORBALL. The AIR is PopCult’s sister radio station. You can hear this show on The AIR website, or just click on the embedded player at the top right column of this blog.

At 2 PM, Mel Larch uncorks a new MIRRORBALL! The AIR’s showcase of classic Disco music salutes the definitive Disco Movie, Saturday Night Fever. On July 2, the director’s cut of SNF debuts on HBO Max, and to get you ready Mel brings you an hour of highlights from one of the best-selling movie soundtracks in history. You’ll hear classic Disco tunes by The Bee Gees, Tavares, KC and The Sunshine Band, Yvonne Eliman, David Shire, Kool and The Gang, Walter Murphy and The Trammps.

The soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever is a crash course in Disco history, and if you miss the days of polyester, danceable beats and unironic cheesiness, then you won’t want to miss MIRRORBALL Friday.

How I Spent My Summer Toy Budget

So, I got lots of stuff last week at the Marx Toy Convention, and while you’re waiting for the bonus photo essays and the Sunday Evening Videos, I thought I’d share pictures of the cool stuff I got last week.

I got this cool, custom “bronzed” Jay West, from Terry Ryder. He’ll fit right in between the Chief Cherokee and Johnny West figures that I got from Terry over the last couple of years. He’s not in his final spot yet, and I need to take the tag off.

Dave Roth always has cool and rare stuff, and this year I picked up a boxed Valiant, the Black Knight’s horse, who was only sold in the UK. I also picked up a few heads, a faded salmon Jane and, of course, a Polar Bear.

From James Wozniak I got those cool hand-painted miniatures of Johnny and the Chief, plus some cool plastic playset figures, including Rosie The Riveter, Female soldiers and some feesh that Mel wanted.

I didn’t get much of Brad’s 3D-printed wonderfulness, because I’m going to see him again at the Kentuckiana GI Joe and Toy Expo in Louisville at the end of July. This stuff is way cool!

From Professor Jim Fuller I picked up this cool Mexican recast Johnny in a cool repro box. Jim also gave me a cool surprise which I will post here in PopCult as soon as it is safely unpacked.

Of course I picked up a couple of cool custom heads from Mike Rohde, and he threw in some head-changing tools.

This year’s mortifying example of how horrible I am with names. I got these cool Kitbash/Custom Mexican Bandido and a recast white Buffalo, and forgot to get the guy’s name, so if you’re reading this, please post a comment with any links to your stuff. It was really cool.

Finally, we have a couple of items that I got at the Marx Toy Museum after-hours sale. Francis Turner just happened to have one of my holy grails sitting around, and he just happened to give me a great price on it.

The Remco Showboat is a toy that my brother and sister and I had when I was a kid. I’m pretty sure that my folks got it before I was walking. It’s a huge toy, over two feet long, and fourteen inches tall and it’s a sternwheel paddleboat with a stage. The stage area could be used to put on plays, of which four are included.

This toy came out in 1962, and this one is still sealed.

Let me repeat that, it’s never been opened…not in 59 years.

The reason I wanted one of these was so that I could create custom versions of Mel’s favorite plays, and we could have this as a centerpiece in our living room. That is still the plan, but for now it’s going to remain sealed. When we do open it, maybe when it’s 60 years old, we’ll preserve the moment on video.

This is what it will look like out of the box…

The toy machine gun on top was a gift from Francis. Mel saw it, and Chicago is special to us, so I asked about it and he just handed it to me.

I guess you could say I had a pretty good day last Friday.

As I did yesterday, here are some reference links:

Brad Curry’s Bee Active Toys.

James Wozniak’s Classic Recasts.

Scott Stewart and Stewart’s Attic.

Tom Heaton’s Vintage Toy Room.

That is this week’s PopCulteer. Check back for our regular features, including two videos on Sunday–the Marx Toy Convention, and The Marx Toy Museum Sale.

2021 Marx Toy Convention in Photos

The PopCult Toybox

Okay, first…yes there will be video, but not until Sunday. The weekend storms that prevented yours truly from making new radio shows this week also messed up my video software (I use the same program for both) and I need to reinstall some stuff from backups before I can edit video again. That’ll take me a few hours, but everything should be up and running in plenty of time for me to have TWO Marx-centric videos for you Sunday.

The Marx Toy Convention took place last Friday and Saturday at The Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum in Wheeling, and it was great seeing some friends that we hadn’t seen since 2019 (plus a bunch that we saw a year ago, but we don’t talk about that).

In this photo essay we’re going to take a quick look at the convention in about 35 pictures. These were either taken by yours truly, or by Mrs. PopCulteer, Mel Larch. That photo of me with Dave Roth was swiped from Dave on Facebook, but Mel made me crop her out because she still hates to be photographed.

Needless to say, we had a blast. We spent too much money on really cool stuff, caught up with old friends, Mel got to spend some time with Lou the Kruger Street cat, and I was comfortable going maskless for the first time in a long time (I’m fully vaccinated, tested to make sure the vaccine work, and registered in the vaccine lottery, but I didn’t do it for Babydog…I did it for myself. Babydog can get his own damn money!)

That paranthetical aside is some topical West Virginia humor, for those readers from out of state.

Anyway, this is not the last of our Marx coverage by any means. I will also be posting a photo essay from the Friday evening private sale at the now-closed Marx Toy Museum, and at some point I’ll be bringing you some images of cool new stuff at The Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum.  They took advantage of the lockdown to redo huge portions of the Museum and everything is all freshened up and cooler than ever.

Anyway, here are the convention photos, with some captions, but not a lot. Just look at the cool stuff and the peoples having funs.

Have I all of them? No, but I’m trying.

More images after the jump…

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Coming Attractions: The Marx Toy Convention Coverage

Last week I told you all about the Marx Toy Convention, which happened last weekend at The Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum in Wheeling. A wonderful time was had by all. Cool, rare toys changed hands, and this post is to let you know that I will be posting video and photo essays beginning Thursday, here in PopCult.

Once again your PopCulteer was bedeviled by shaky hands (our famed monopods have spent the last year in the trunk of my car, which wouldn’t have been a problem, except for the fact that we took Mel’s car to Wheeling). So I’m having to sort out which photos are acceptable, and I still need to write and record voice-overs for the video we shot, which hasn’t happened yet because it’s been very loud around Stately Radio Free Charleston Manor this week.

So today you just get a teensy taste of what wonders await you, and I probably get to stay up past midnight so I can record my narration without airplanes, trains, lawnmowers, fireworks and monthly emergency siren tests fouling up my work.

So check back with PopCult because we’ll be loading up with terrific Marx Toy Convention goodness over the next couple of days. Here’s one sneak peek photo as a teaser…

Prime Day Balloon Deals

A couple of years ago I told you about Bunch O Balloons, a cool new way to rapidly inflate balloons with a pump, or fill them with water. We showed you the pump in action in this video.

Prime Day is still happening at Amazon, and they have a couple of great deals on the Bunch O Balloons water balloons. If you want to spend your summer surprising your guests with water balloons, this is the time to stock up!

The first deal gets you 350 rapid-fill water balloons, while the second deal gets you 330. Either way, you’re going to wind up armed with over three hundred easy-to-fill water balloons. That’s 30% off Amazon’s regular price.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, the “go-to” water balloon around the globe that fills and ties 100 balloons in 60 seconds are now 100% recyclable.

ZURU Bunch O Balloons, the original and best-selling water balloons are now made using recyclable plastics, which has led to over 1,200 tons of plastic being removed from this brand this year, a 57% increase over the company’s original goal of 800 tons set last year. In addition, balloons are made of natural latex rubber and biodegrade, further delivering on environmentally and sustainable practices.

With Crazy ZURU Bunch O Balloons Water, each stem comes with a completely new mix of multi-colored balloons for added backyard water excitement. All ZURU Bunch O Balloons products in the USA, Canada, U.K., Australia and New Zealand will be fully recyclable through their new TerraCycle Recycling program. Consumers simply sign-up online, package all their used Bunch O Balloons packaging and balloon pieces then ship to TerraCycle, where they will then be processed and recycled into new materials.


As you may know, PopCult has a sister internet radio station, The AIR. You can find it at its own website, or listen to it on the handy-dandy embedded player that you can find at the top right column of this blog.

We had planned to return with all new programming this week now that our servers are all upgraded, bright and shiny and looking brand-new.  But yesterday, as I prepared to record Radio Free Charleston and The Swing Shift, storms moved into the area and your PopCulteer was afflicted with a series of brief power outages that made producing new radio shows impossible. Luckily, we didn’t get a long-lasting outage, but the flickering on and off rendered the computer I use for the show fairly useless.

Now, it has been scientifically determined that all of our encore programs are at least 150% cooler than any other radio programming on the planet, so even our reruns are worth giving a listen. You are still free to tune in at will.  Tuesday our music specialty shows will be repeats, but we plan to have new stuff later in the week, and I will move heaven and earth to bring you three hours of new RFC next week.

In the meantime, now that the power is staying on for more than ten minutes in a row, I’m going to work on a video of last weekend’s Marx Toy Convention for Wednesday or Thursday, and later today we’ll have an update on a sale price on a cool toy I told you about a few years ago.

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