Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

Month: March 2023 (Page 1 of 4)

Get Your Dance Fix, Then Get Your Fixx Fix, Friday On The AIR!

The PopCulteer
March 31, 2023

We have reached the last day of March and Friday afternoon we offer up new episodes of MIRRORBALL and Sydney’s Big Electric Cat. The AIR is PopCult‘s sister radio station. You can hear these shows on The AIR website, or just click on the embedded player found elsewhere on this page.

At 2 PM, Mel Larch uncorks a new MIRRORBALL!  Once again, we don’t have a fancy theme this week, just meaty, beaty, funky Disco music.

Check out the playlist…


Boney M “Daddy Cool”
The Isley Brothers “That Lady”
Donna Summer “I Love You”
Grace Jones “Love Is A Drug”
Eddie Kendricks “Keep On Truckin'”
The Village People “YMCA”
Kool And The Gang “Hollywood Swinging”
McFadden & Whitehead “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now”
Gloria Gaynor “Never Can Say Goodbye”
Hot Gossip “I Lost My Heart To A Starship Trooper”
The Bee Gees “Stayin’ Alive”
Abba “Lay All Your Love On Me”
5000 Volts “I’m On Fire”
The Emotions “Best of My Love”
Love And Kisses “Thank God It’s Friday”

You can hear MIRRORBALL every Friday at 2 PM, with replays throughout the following week, Saturday at 9 PM, Sunday at 11 PM, Monday at 9 AM and Tuesday at 1 PM.

At 3 PM, Sydney Fileen graces us with a special mixtape salute to The Fixx on Sydney’s Big Electric Cat. The Fixx is a group that Sydney considers to be one of the quintessential New Wave bands, despite the fact that they found much more success in North America than they did here in their home country, the UK.

Formed in London 1979, and led by Cy Curnin, the band is still making new music with their recently reunited original line-up. This week will Sydney mines on their first decade of making music together with two solid hours of music that includes their hits, deep album cuts, extended mixes and even a few b-sides.

Sadly, because of your PopCulteer’s somewhat crazed schedule this week, I don’t have the playlist to share with you, but you know it’s all going to be great for fans of The Fixx.

Sydney’s Big Electric Cat is produced at Haversham Recording Institute in London, and can be heard every Friday at 3 PM, with replays Saturday afternoon,  Monday at 7 AM, Tuesday at 8 PM, Wednesday at Noon and Thursday at 10 AM, exclusively on The AIR.

That’s what’s new on The AIR Friday, and that is this week’s PopCulteer. Check back for our regular features every day.

March Goes Out Like A STUFF TO DO

At the risk of repeating myself, you should know the drill by now.  There’s plenty of STUFF TO DO in Charleston and all over the Mountain State as we bid ‘farewell” to March, and start to fool around with April.

Live Music is back at Taylor Books. There is no cover charge, and shows start at 7:30 PM. Friday it’s Brenna Dugan and Aaron Fisher. Saturday Brandon Costello entertains 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.  Sunday sees the return of the Post-Mountain Stage Jam.  Next week they’ll have an open mic Monday night, and Songwriter Showcase on Tuesday. Other shows that have graphics are listed among the images below.

Please remember that the pandemic is not over yet. In fact, it’s sort of 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.

Not The Beatles On “Beatles Blast” and a Musical Theatre Preview on “Curtain Call”

Wednesday afternoon The AIR brings you a special new episodes of Curtain Call and Beatles Blast.  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 revisits a theme we explored way back on our seventeenth episode, bands that deliberately tried to sound like The Beatles. This time we lead off with music from The Analogues, a Norwegian Beatles tribute band that, after releasing five live albums of meticulously-reconstructed Beatles covers, have come out with a studio album of very Beatlesque original songs.

You hear a few tracks from The Analogues, along with music from The Rutles, Utopia, Klaatu, Dukes of Stratosphere, Split Enz and more. Check out the playlist for this slightly deceptive mixtape show…

Beatles Blast 090
Not The Beatles II

The Analogues “Patience”
The Analogues “Good Foot”
Klaatu “Doctor Marvello”
Utopia “Crystal Ball”
The Rutles “Hold My Hand”
Dukes of Stratosphere “Shiny Cage”
The Analogues “Say That You Will”
Utopia “Alone”
Klaatu “Everybody Took A Holiday”
Dukes of Stratosphere “Vanishing Girl”
Split Enz “What’s The Matter With You”
The Rutles “Get Up and Go”
Novelty Island “Yes”
The Rutles “Let’s Be Natural (rehearsal)”
Klaatu “For You Girl”
The Knickerbockers “One Track Mind”
Julian Lennon “Let Me Be”
Sean Lennon “Wait For Me”
James McCartney “Fantasy”
The Analogues “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah”

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 brings us a mixtape of her own as she curates one track each from sixteen new, or upcoming, musical theatre productions from Broadway, The West End and around the world. Some have just opened on Broadway or in the West End, some are just preview songs from concept recordings, some are from upcoming revivals and some may never actually make it to the stage. The plan is to explore these new shows in more detail in the coming weeks.

This show is just a taste, with songs from Kimberly Akimbo, Bad Cinderella, Something’s Afoot, Parade, Maggie, CAGES, Ballad of Dreams The Musical, Darling Grenadine, Between The Lines, EPIC: The Cyclops Saga, McGyver: The Musical, Lighting The Fuse: Sparks From Treason, Baby, The Great British Bake Off Musical, Ride The Cyclone The Musical and Some Like It Hot.

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  presents a classic episode featuring the stand-up comedy of Shelly Berman.

A New RFC and Sinatra on The Swing Shift Tuesday!

We have come to Tuesday on a week filled with new programs on The AIR  and that means it’s time for a new  Radio Free Charleston and a new edition of The Swing Shift. 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 one new hour and two hours of classic RFC  from 2017 today on Radio Free Charleston this week. Our first hour is loaded with new releases from West Virginia an dindependen artists, plus a few ringers, like brand-new Depeche Mode.

Our new hour opens with the RFC debut of The Apurna Project, and pays a quick tribute to the recently-departed class of 2023 WVMHOF inductee, Fuzzy Haskins. We have great local tracks from the likes of The MFB, Hurl Brickbat, Massing and Buni Muni, plus we have some cool independent stuff to share.

We preview half of a two-track EP from Nashville’s Jonny Strykes in advance of its April 15 release, and we also bring you one-fourth of Story At Eleven, a new long-form composition by Chicago Jazz bandleader and composer, Shawn Maxwell.

Also, while I knew nothing of the band, Sweeny Todd, when I played them, I just learned that they were a 1970s glam-rock band from Canada that included Bryan Adams and Nick Gilder among their ranks. The track I play in this show features a 16-year-old Adams on lead vocals. Who knew?

Our second and third hours revive an a couple of classic one-hour versions of Radio Free Charleston Volume 4 from 2017, and it’s a nice time capsule of the music scene then, along with a healthy dose of treasures from the local music vault.

Check out the playlist below to see all the goodies we have in store. Where possible, live links for the first hour will take you to the artist’s pages so you can find out more about them, buy their music and find out where to see them perform live…

RFC V5 124

hour one
The Apurna Project “The Good Ole Days”
Fuzzy Haskins “Cookie Jar”
The MFB “Funkle Sam Needs You”
Shawn Maxwell “Answer & Arrival”
Hurl Brickbat “Blooms”
Test Subject 17 “Operation x5000”
Jonny Strykes “Save Yourself”
Massing “Daisies”
Buni Muni “Backyard Wrestling”
Damone “Just What I Needed”
Skyhooks “Broken Gin Bottle”
Payback’s a Bitch“Where Have All the Groupies Gone?”
Depeche Mode “My Favorite Stranger”
Sweeny Todd “Shut Up”

hour two
The Company Stores “So Good”
Todd Burge “Time To Waste Time”
The Defectors “Hesitation”
Radarhill and Nick Weckman “Hope-The Burning”
M with Chuck Biel “Fools Line Up”
Farnsworth “Roll Me Up”
Payback’s a Bitch “I Walk The Line”
Superfetch “Simple Mathematics”
Ann Magnuson “Cobras In Love”
Deni Bonet “Nuages”
Hybrid Soul Project “Just Friends”
Qiet “Mayfly Man”
Stark Raven “Irrational People”
The Amazing Delores “Love Magic”

hour three
Wren Allen Band “Nothing Ever Happens Here”
Bon Air “Bizarre Love Gun”
Todd Burge “Another Sunny Sunday”
Deni Bonet “Palisades”
Calendars and Kerosene “I’m Over You”
Speedsuit “Falling Star”
Sheldon Vance “What Remains”
Since We Set Fire “Halle Halle”
Wilbur By The Sea “Stillness”
Rain May Fall “Remember Everything”
Scrap Iron Pickers “Searching For The Scientist”
King’s Harem “Down By The Riverside”
Byzantine “My New Casket”

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 last week’s episodes of  MIRRORBALL at 1 PM and Curtain Call at 2 PM.

At 3 PM we offer up a special new mixteape episode of The Swing Shift. This time it’s a solid hour of the Swingingest tunes recorded by one Francis Albert Sinatra. Your humble blogger and radio host was raised on Sinatra, and that’s probably where my love of Swing Music originated.  We cover pretty much the entire career of “The Voice,” and it’s a killer hour of great music.

Just check out this impeccable playlist, baby…

The Swing Shift 140
Frank Sinatra
“On The Sunny Side of the Street”
“I’ve Got You Under My Skin”
“Something’s Gotta Give”
“This Can’t Be Love”
“I’ve Got The World On A String”
“Night And Day”
“Just One Of Those Things”
“Come Dance With Me”
“I Get A Kick Out Of You”
“I’m Gonna Live Till I Die”
“Dancing In The Dark”
“Let’s Face The Music and Dance”
“Ya Better Stop”
“The Song Is You”
“Fly Me To The Moon”
“Luck Be A Lady”
“The Way You Look Tonight”
“You Make Me Feel So Young”
“Get Happy”
“The Best Is Yet To Come”

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.

Monday Morning Art: Scarabesque

Today we have a new digital creation as our art. It’s one of my digital abstract things that I can whip up really quick when I’m insanely busy.

This one is a combination of patterns and colors and it wound up looking a bit like a scarab to me, hence the title.

To see it bigger try clicking HERE

We are going to have new episodes of Psychedelic Shack and Prognosis today, but because I’m writing PopCult a few days in advance, I don’t have the playlists for their shows this week. They will be very good shows, but you’ll have to tune in to hear what’s on them. (Updated below)

So, Monday at 2 PM on The AIR, we bring you a new episode of Psychedelic Shack, and then at 3 PM a new 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 elsewhere on this page.

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. 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 8 PM you can hear the classic Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks 2000 Year Old Man on an encore episode of Comedy Vault.

Tonight at 9 PM the Monday Marathon presents ten hours of random programs from The AIR, from 2016.

Last Minute Update:

I just got the playlists for today’s shows as I was heading out the door. Here they are:

Psychedelic Shack 075

Steppenwolf “Jeraboah”
The Rolling Stones “Gomper”
The Ferris Wheel “I Can’t Break The Habit”
Velvet Fogg ‘Once Among The Trees”
The Mooche “Seen Through A Light”
Tuesday’s Children “In The Valley of the Shadow of Love”
Blonde on Blonde “All Day, All Night”
The Flying Machines “Smile a Little Smile For Me”
Donovan “Hey Gyp”
Sun Dragon “Look At The Sun”
Friends “Mythological Sunday”
Episode Six “Gentlemen of the Park”
The Rogues “Comin’ Home”
Team Dokus “60 Million Megaton Sunset”
The Now “Marcia”

Prognosis 102

Soft Machine salute

“Slightly All The Time”
“Moon In June”
“Kings And Queens”
“Fletcher’s Blemish”
“Virtually, Parts 1-4”

Sunday Evening Video: Animated Action Figure Adventure

Above you see the first installment of The Wanderer. As the YouTube description says, it’s a “new space western blockbuster from Nitrowolf105 Wolfy Studios! Action! Adventure! Showdowns! Laser cows! Wolfy! It’s all anyone could want and more!”

This is the creation of Cameron Pauley, and his dad, Kevin Pauley.  Cameron was present at the recording of the first video episode of Radio Free Charleston, but he probably doesn’t remember it because I don’t think he was a year old yet at the time. His dad is the local comedian and actor, of No Pants Players and State 35 fame, and he collaborated on this project.

The Wanderer is an all-star action figure extravaganza, and part of the fun is recognizing the “actors” who have been repurposed to tell this story.

If you want to see more chapters of this saga, including those that are currently in progress, as they are released, visit Cam’s YouTube page.

If you’re really impatient about it, watch the second chapter, right here…

The RFC Flashback: Episode 17

Episode Seventeen of Radio Free Charleston saw your host, Rudy Panucci, sporting a “Kung Fu Grip” Shirt, and was loaded with all sorts of cool stuff.

We had RFC Diva, Melanie Larch in a wrestling ring, cutting a promo; Music from John Radcliff and Under The Radar, recorded at LiveMix Studio; and we had an episode of Pentagram Flowerbox plus our end credit repurposed a Stan Freberg commercial as our animation.

Go back to March, 2007, for “Kung Fu Grip Shirt.” You can find the original production notes here.

Revisiting The Train Show

The PopCulteer
March 24, 2023

You could say that I have toys shows on the brain this week.

ToyLanta is happening now. I told you about that Wednesday.  I’m not there in person, but I’m there in spirit and will be at JoeLanta in August. Your humble blogger is currently at the Lexington Comic and Toy Show, and you’ll be hearing all about that next week.

But today, I have the final batch of photos from the KVRA Model Train Show, which happened in Charleston a couple of weeks ago.

You can see the first batch of photos HERE, and the video I made HERE.

Below you’ll see photos of some of the train and non-train vendors, close-ups and details of some of the train layouts and even a personal holy grail that your PopCulteer unexpectedly stumbled upon.

So let’s look at the pics…

Cool paintings from a local artist.

A table was dedicated to diverse books.

If I had room in my house for more cool stuff, I probably would’ve snagged one of these cool repurposed industrial lamps.

Mel had to drag me away from this table, seriously.

Handmade wooden minatures that could be used with model railroading, or just for display.

The model train vendors mightily tried my self-restraint. I considered buying this.

This was also tempting.

This vendor’s display wrapped around the corner of the rather sizeable room.

Larger scale trains, taunting my wallet.

There were plenty of layout structures available too.

Though mesmerized by some of the vendors, we could’ve spent hours just staring at the model train layouts.

This layout is prominently featured in the video we made.

This was part of a huge, oval layout that ran through several real WV locations.

Going in for close-ups. The detail is amazing.

Espertly executed row housing.

A very realistic depiction of an industrial area.

An aerial view of cows at a watering hole.

More cool scenery.

A really nice way to enhance the 3-D modeling with 2-D backdrops.

Ultra realism with a 1930’s-era scene.

I couldn’t pass up this Mail Pouch barn.

Finally, the unexpected Holy Grail. I didn’t expect to find anybody selling vintage vinyl at this show. And I certainly didn’t expect to find a Crack The Sky album that I’ve been looking for since I heard their live cover of “I Am The Walrus” in 1978, on the waning days of the free-format WVAF. So this nice vendor, who is normally based at The South Charleston Antique Mall on D Street, helped me scratch a 45-year itch.

With that minor miracle we wrap up this photo-essay PopCulteer. Check back for our regular features and fresh content every day.

STUFF TO DO The First Weekend of Spring

You should know the drill by now.  There’s plenty of STUFF TO DO in Charleston and all over the Mountain State as the forces of Spring attempt to beat back the oppressive forces of Winter, creating climate chaos and lots more wind that we shoulda oughtta have.

Live Music is back at Taylor Books. There is no cover charge, and shows start at 7:30 PM. Friday it’s Minor Swing. Saturday McKenna Hope entertains 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 (as you’ll see below, this week it’s a really good cause).  Next week they’ll have an open mic with Unmanned Monday night, and Songwriter Showcase on Tuesday. Other shows that have graphics are listed among the images below.

Please remember that the pandemic is not over yet. In fact, it’s sort of 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.

Continue reading

ToyLanta Happens This Weekend!

ToyLanta happens this weekend at the Hilton Atlanta Northeast in Atlanta, Georgia, and for only the second time in eleven years, your PopCulteer won’t be going.

Nothing drastic or dramatic has happened. Last year ToyLanta, which started as “JoeLanta,” a GI Joe-centric toy show, spun off JoeLanta as a separate show once again, this year happening in August, and since I couldn’t fit last year’s JoeLanta into my schedule, that meant I had to miss it.

So for 2023 I planned to skip ToyLanta and will instead make it to part of JoeLanta before splitting the weekend with PowerCon in Columbus, Ohio.  Instead of ToyLanta, this weekend Your PopCulteer and his lovely wife will be in Lexington at the Lexington Comic and Toy Show, where ironically, we’ll probably see Larry Hama, the legendary writer of the GI Joe: A Real American Hero comic book, and somebody we first met at JoeLanta ten years ago.

But ToyLanta is still one of the biggest toy shows in the Southeast and it’s loads of fun, so if you’re anywhere near it and into cool toys, you should make last-minute plans to attend.

As a bit of a preview, today I’m going to re-present an annotated and updated index to the coverage that we’ve provided for JoeLanta/ToyLanta in this blog since 2013. Photos are all taken from previous year’s coverage.

As I mentioned, ToyLanta began life as JoeLanta, which was originally inspired somewhat by The Official GI Joe Club Convention. Over the years the Official GI Joe Club (which shut down in 2019) shifted their focus from the original 12″ GI Joe from the 1960s and 1970s, to the “Real American Hero” Joe of the 1980s.

This left a lot of collectors of the original GI Joe feeling disenfranchised, so in 2000 they decided to put on their own show, based in Atlanta, that would provide a more intimate and more affordable gathering of collectors of the larger GI Joe, with a focus on custom figures and outfits, and elaborate dioramas.

JoeLanta quickly gained a reputation as the most fun toy convention in the country. JoeLanta eventually became a fundraiser for the non-profit Cody Lane Foundation (named after a young fan who had passed away) and is now focused toward raising money to build a toy diorama museum. In 2017 JoeLanta became ToyLanta.

Longtime PopCult readers may recall that, for the first several years of this blog, I was not able to travel. I’d been a full-time caregiver for my mother until her death in 2006, and rather than get a reprieve from caregiving, I was almost immediately pressed into service managing my uncle’s healthcare, and eventually becoming his chief caregiver.

Because of this, I could not travel to toy shows, despite being fairly well-known for writing about collectible toys since 1996.

By 2009, I had some help taking care of my uncle, and was able to get away for day trips to The Marx Toy Convention and MEGO Meet when both shows were in Wheeling. In 2013, Buddy Finethy, from JoeLanta, got in touch with me and persuaded me to make the trip to Atlanta for my first big toy collectors convention.

I’m always going to be grateful to Buddy for that.

Later in 2013 my caregiver responsibilities ended, and for the first time in over twenty years, I was really free to travel. JoeLanta became an annual trip and Mel and I always have a blast going down there for what became week-long visits that included shooting locations for The Walking Dead and lots of fun shopping in addition to the best toy show in the country. JoeLanta became ToyLanta a few years back, to reflect the expanded interests of the convention-goers.

At this point, I’m going to turn the story over to the links below, which will give you a chronological portrait of PopCult going to ToyLanta.

This is not a complete list of every post I’ve made on the subject. Many of them were redundant, just re-posting previous years worth of material to plug an upcoming show, so this index will just focus on the meaty, original content.

You know I’m bringing one of these home with me.

Let’s start in 2013…

I did announce my first trip to JoeLanta in advance. This was risky, since my uncle’s relatives had a nasty habit of trying to create emergencies to disrupt any trip I took out of town, but I did indeed mention my trip to JoeLanta in advance, and it’s in this post, which includes a dead video I need to edit at some point.

We made a short visit that year driving down Friday and back Sunday, but hadn’t quite unpacked on Monday, so I ran this as Monday Morning Art.  The following Friday I had a brief photo essay ready to go. Later that day I posted video of the State of the Hobby Roundtable, which I also participated in. A few days later I finally had my first JoeLanta wrap-up video ready, which included interviews with Buddy Finethy and David Lane, and my old online friend (who I’d met in person for the first time), Dave Matteson.

In 2014, freed from my caregiver obligations, we made a longer trip to JoeLanta, which included our first visit to Senoia. I previewed that year’s show HERE.  I had also prepapred a PopCulteer column to run on the first day of the show in case I didn’t have time to report from the road, but it turned out that I did have time to get some photo essays online. This turned out to be the day with four PopCulteer columns. We covered the Walking Dead tour of Senoia, which took place on the Thursday before the show, and that bus trip also included trips to see the collections of Tim Merrit and Bryan Tatum.  The Sunday of ToyLanta we brought you a Studio Joe video from Tim and Lisa Weedn, who have become good friends and are hilarious filmmakers.

Still in March, 2014, I posted a photo essay of my haul from Joelanta. Someday I’ll get around to unpacking and displaying all this stuff.  Our next post included three videos, two of which are still online. This had a new Studio Joe film and the 2014 Walking dead panel from JoeLanta. We then posted our take of The Walking Dead tour, The “Joe at 50” panel, The 2014 State o the Hobby, The Marx Action Figures Panel with Scott Stewart and Tom Heaton, video of Tim Merrit’s collection, video of Bryan Tatum’s collection, Monday Morning Art based on Mike Gardner’s “Zombie Horde at Yellow Creek” diorama, and our big 2014 JoeLanta wrap-up video.

Mike Gardner’s epic diorama was so huge that it took two more photo essays, posted almost a month later, to cover them. Here is part one and part two.

We kicked off our 2015 JoeLanta coverage with a preview post that included Tim and Lisa Weedn’s preview video for the show.  We managed to get a photo essay online for day one of the show that year. We also got a photo essay of dioramas and custom figures posted while we were still on the road, too. After we got back home, I had a photo essay of the dealer’s room for everyone to see. Later on, we revisted the diormas with another photo essay.

2015 was the year we really went overboard on the videos, preserving many panels from the convention. Larry Hama gave a detailed breakdown of his famous GI Joe comic book story, “Silent Interlude.” There was The 2015 State of the Hobby.  The Phantom Trouble maker from The Needless Things podcast and Ricky Zhero from Radio Cult hosted a panel on character toys.  There was a panel devoted to Monster High.  Speaking of Radio Cult, we featured the band, performing at JoeLanta, on The RFC MINI SHOW. Don Teems joined Mel Larch and Mike Gardner on The Walking Dead panel.  Almost two weeks after the show, I was able to finish the big 2015 JoeLanta wrap-up video.  A post that compiled other 2015 JoeLanta videos also included a musical tour of the dealers rooms, set to the music of Chuck Biel. A few days later I posted raw video of the dioramas, set to more music by Chuck Biel, along with an extra photo essay. Then, from our extended trip, we had Mel’s video of Senoia, and The Walking Dead Shoppe. Filmed on the floor of the convention, our next RFC MINI SHOW showcased The Possum Kingdom Ramblers.

Joe Hodge’s “Gristmill”

2016 was a bit of a strange year for your PopCulteer. For the second year in a row, Mel and I had gone to New York for the International Toy Fair just a few weeks before JoeLanta. I had tons of photos and video from Toy Fair to edit and post, and didn’t get it all done before it was time to leave for JoeLanta. At the same time, my hands were getting increasingly weaker, and I was having trouble keeping my eyes focused. We took Lee Harrah with us to JoeLanta, and he was a huge help, because by this point, I couldn’t even open a water bottle by myself. I managed to keep my weakness fairly well-hidden, but I knew something serious was going on with me. A month after we got back from JoeLanta, I was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis, which was a life-changing revelation, but was also a huge relief, just having a diagnosis.

Still, we managed a lot of coverage that year. Our preview post kicked things off. After we got back, I managed this first recap post, before diving head-first into coverage. We offered up The 2016 State of the Hobby panel a few days later. In 2016 we had two panels from Larry Hama, one just of the artist/writer doing a Q&A session, and one talking about his experience storyboarding Boardwalk Empire.   Mike Gardner’s diner diorama was featured in a photo essay. We also had video and more photos of the 2016 dioramas HERE. Lee Harrah was a guest on the Needless Things podcast’s Toy Stories panel. We crossed over with the other “RFC” and presented the Radio Free Cybertron Transformers panel.  We also caught up with the Earth Station One podcast for a Star Wars panel. We also had a panel devoted to Big Jim, and a revival of the classic action figure that, sadly, did not happen. In happier news, we decided to do a video devoted to The JoeLanta parachute drop.

2016 was also the year that, due to my diagnosis and the lovely hurricane of meds that followed, I didn’t get the wrap-up video finished until November. I was appropriately mortified by this.

To make up for that, in 2017 I went a bit overboard and ran previews for two weeks ahead of the event. I’m not going to post links to all of those, because most of the previews just re-posted stuff that you can see in the links above. However, the first one is filled with pertinent new info. Our first post during the convention that year covered the name change from JoeLanta to Toylanta. and sprinkled in a few early photos.  I also managed to post photos of Mike Gardner building his epic Avengers diorama.  As soon as we got back, I posted photos of my haul from the show.  Photo essays from the show were posted HEREHERE, HERE and HERE.

A word essay with photos was posted HERE.  Having learned my lesson the previous year, I made it a point to do the wrap-up video first in 2017. Then we had panels with Felipe, from Louco  Por Bonecos and James Wozniak from Classic Recasts.  We also posted panels devoted to Monster Toys, The Walking Dead, MEGO and The Needless Things Podcast’s Playing With Toys.  In addition, we had a panel devoted to Super Joe, and this was the year that  Larry Hama, having exhausted much of his GI Joe material, spoke at length about his experience creating a role in a Sondheim musical.  I have a feeling he got the idea for this topic from a conversation he had with Mel when we first met him a few years earlier.

After we got back, an installment of Monday Morning Art was inspired by the custom figure and Bryan Tatum’s cool cave diorama piece.

In 2018 I did another week of preview posts for the show that used material from previous years, but among those posts I also had a new GI Joe-centric Monday Morning Art, with a digital painting that I had printed on canvas and donated to the ToyLanta auction. I had a placeholder post set to publish on the first day of the show, but I also managed to sneak in a quick set of photos of the pre-show trip and activities. I also edited a quick trailer for the show on the road, just to see if the laptop was capable of rendering video.

The reason I wanted to see how well the laptop handled video was because I got the crazy idea to do a video each day while I was there, so that I wouldn’t have so much video editing to do once we got home. This didn’t work out too well because people watched the first day, then didn’t bother watching anything else.  Also, I didn’t get a chance to start on the video until after midnight, and wrapped it up and posted it about six hours later, which meant that I was operating with about 90 minutes of sleep on the second, very long and busy, day of the convention. I was too wiped out to do any more videos while we were on the road. In fact, I spent much of Saturday hallucinating that I was being followed by cows.

2018 was also the year that…SURPRISE…the hotel was being renovated AND a water-main break meant that nobody could drink tap water or take a shower.  I whined a bit about it in this post. However we did manage to have a good time despite all that, and I brought you a taste of the ToyLanta Film Festival from Tim and Lisa Weedn.  I also showed off my toy haul from 2018, but you have to scroll down past a depressing essay about Toys R Us first. I re-edited much of the “Day One” video and combined with everything else I’d shot to put together a longer wrap-up video.

My allergies took a real beating on this trip, and we returned home to Arctic weather, and that combined with audio issues due to the renovations and breaking news about Toys R Us, meant that a lot of stuff from ToyLanta 2018 didn’t get posted for quite some time. To be honest, I still have a ton of stuff from 2018 sitting unused on one of my external drives. However, I did manage to get two panel videos done…just in time to promote ToyLanta 2019!

First I put together two short promos for ToyLanta, 2019, using footage from previous years. You can see those HERE. Then I posted toy designer, Greg Autore, and his panel on GI Joe toys he designed that never made it to retailers. After that, I posted the 2018 Space Toys panel, with Carlos Morrison, Clay Sayre, Terry Stair Jr. and George Felix. Tim and Lisa Weedn also made a cool trailer for the 2019 show, even though they couldn’t make it that year.  Another preview for 2019 was one more GI Joe-inspired Monday Morning Art piece that I had printed and donated to the annual ToyLanta auction for the Cody Lane Foundation.

2019 was a bit of an unusual ToyLanta for your PopCulteer because we made plans to do something on the trip for Mrs. PopCulteer, Mel Larch, who is a huge fan of The Walking Dead.  For a very brief and limited time, the studio where they shot TWD was giving tours of all the places that were normally forbidden for the general public. I told Mel to book us on a tour during the trip, and the only day they had open was Sunday, the last day of ToyLanta. My plan was to shoot tons of video and photos on Friday and Saturday, pull an all-nighter on Satuday night (after the Radio Cult show, which ran really late that year) and get up Sunday and check out and head to Senoia.  In previous years, the only thing happening on Sunday was great last-minute deals from dealers who didn’t want to have to carry stuff back home.

However, after we booked the tour, we discovered that every single one of the GI Joe panels had been moved to Sunday. So I didn’t shoot any video of the panels that year. But since they never offered that studio tour again, and it had Mel beaming with joy, it was worth it.

I did have the wrap-up video posted before the convention was over. After we got back, I posted a photo diary of our trip  down and then the show itself.

Amid another MG flare-up, I posted the raw video of the dioramas from 2019, and photos of my toy haul from that year.  Much later, I was able to post photos of the diorama and custom figures HERE, HERE and HERE. I also snuck in an abstract painting of Bambie and Ricky from Radio Cult jamming at Buddy Finethy’s restaurant, Hawg ‘n’ Ale.

In 2020 there was no ToyLanta. I covered its cancellation in real time HERE.  I was able to bring you that year’s planned Film Festival, compiled by Tim and Lisa, HERE. In 2021 it was still too soon for my immuno-compromised butt to go to a toy convention, so we sadly had to miss the show for the first time since we started going.

We did return in 2022, and I devoted several posts to ToyLanta. A few days after returning, I teased several photo essays from our trip, and the following Sunday I shared a cool walk-through video by Ricky Zhero, one of the organizers of the show.

In the week after that, I brought you photo essays devoted to The Toys, The Big Diorama, the stuff I got at the show, custom figures and vehicles, the Star Wars diorama, video of the dealer’s rooms, and a Monday Morning Art with video of a sunset, filmed at the hotel.

I’m sure it’ll be a great show this year, and if I didn’t have to choose between ToyLanta and JoeLanta, we might’ve done both this year, but knowing that I’ll see all my ToyLanta friends at JoeLanta in August takes the sting out of it a bit.

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