October 20, 2023
I’m still playing catch-up when it comes to reviewing toys (and comics and books), so this week our PopCulteer is devoted to three photo-reviews of cool new toys. We’ll be looking at an action figure, a slot car and a model railroad accessory, and all of them are still available for purchase. Details will be included with each review.
I’m trying to clear the decks a bit before we jump headfirst into The 2023 PopCult Gift Guide, which is going to be smaller this year than it has in previous years. The plan is to begin on November 1, with three-to-five gift suggestions each weekday, while flashback gift ideas from previous gift guides, plus general retailer spotlights will be offered up on the weekends.
And it’ll wrap up the day before Thanksgiving, so I can take some time to enjoy the holiday season without stressing myself out. The Master List will run on Black Friday.
But now, we dive back into…
The PopCult Toybox
Tura Satana is a cult icon movie star, exotic dancer and feminist hero, famous for appearing as “Varla” in Russ Meyers’ 1965 exploitation classic, Faster Pussycat, Kil, Kill and the sci-fi shlock epic, The Astro Zombies.
With a life that at times seemed more exciting than the wild movies in which she starred, this martial-artist who took revenge on her rapists in Japan, danced burlesque at the famed Trocadero nightclub, posed nude for Harold Lloyd, turned down a marriage proposal from Elvis Presley and survived being shot and breaking her back in a car wreck managed to live life on her own terms and inspire independent women along the way.
She became an underground movie favorite and was sort of a Japanese-American Bettie Page who could easily kick your ass. Satana was popular at comic book and pop culture conventions, and enjoyed a huge resurgence in her popularity and acclaim before she passed away in 2011.
Odeon Toys, who are the toy company arm of our friends at Plaid Stallions, previously made the Brick Mantooth action figure, procured their first-ever license to produce a MEGO-scaled version of Tura Satana, dressed in her iconic Faster Pussycat outfit. They teamed with White Elephant Toyz, who are producing all kinds of terrific collectible toys right now, and they signed big-name artist, Joseph Michael Lisner, to create the package artwork.
The packaging, as you can see on the right, is a bit of a tribute to the Big Jim’s P.A.C.K. package artwork of the 1970s. Tura comes packaged in a top-opening box that will fit right in with your vintage or recent MEGO boxed figures.
The articulation is terrific. She bends and holds her poses very well. The rooted hair gets a little hard to tame, like Ms. Satana herself, and actually makes her look even more like she did in Faster Pussycat.
The end result is a killer action figure who seems ready to burst out of her package and beat the living crap out of your MEGO-sized Batman and Spider-man figures. You can order Tura from either of the links above.
Now the photos…
Scalextric Batmobile Slot Car
by Scalextric, a division of Hornby
$69.95 at hobby shops and Amazon
It is entirely possible that I have some sort of mental disorder, a compulsion to buy every version of the George Barris 1966 Batmobile that comes out. It’s the only way I can explain dropping seventy bucks on a 1/32 scale slot car when I don’t actually have a 1/32 scale slot car track.
Having established that, this is one killer rendition of the one true Batmobile (except no subsitions or forgeries). Measuring around 6.5 inches, this is a perfect sculpt of the Batmobile with loads of tiny details. However, unlike many of the toy Batmobiles, this one actually has Batman driving it…sort of.
I mean, this is one goofy-looking Batman. He looks like he’s wearing a bad Halloween costume of the Adam West Batman…yet, that adds to the charm. It might also explain the absence of Robin, who might not want to be seen hanging around this weird Batman with part of his forehead exposed, and what looks like a kid’s Halloween mask pulled over half a cowl. Aside from the head, the paint job on the figure is pretty good.
That is one small detail on an otherwise impeccable version of The Batmobile. If it bothers you, you can always repaint him.
I can’t vouch for how well this car runs, since I don’t have any track that I can run it on (unlike my 1/64 scale Batmobile slot cars), but from what I hear Scalextric stuff is pretty well-liked by hobbyists. For me, this car fills a void in between my 1/24 scaled Batmobiles and my 1/48 scale Batmobiles. If you see it and want it, go get it. It’s really cool.
Just look at the photos…
I grew up in the 1960s, and I am a sucker for cool toys based on NASA’s glory days. I don’t currently have a train layout set up, but over the last few years I have been accumulating cool structures for when I eventually do build a place for the HO Scale trains I’ve been collecting since 1976.
Menards, who just arrived in Barboursville a couple of years ago, have their own line of model railroading products nestled among their hardware, groceries, work clothes and home goods, and they are a godsend for model railroaders. This is a major retailer who does not have an extensive toy department, but they have provided a lifeline to hobbyists who might now have a hobby shop nearby.
They have a full line of fully-assembled structures, with an easy-to-use plug-in power system, so you can just pick them up, find a space on your layout, and plug them in. When I saw they were doing a Saturn V rocket, I was hoping they’d eventually release it in HO Scale (they usually put out an O Scale version of their structures first), and now they have released this rocket and launch tower in both scales, and I’m going to quote from their website, so I don’t get any details wrong…
The mightiest rocket of the American space program was the majestic Saturn V of Apollo fame! Rising 363 feet into the air, the 6.2-million-pound giant could produce 7.6 million pounds of thrust – more than enough to transport three Astronauts to the Moon! Thirteen Saturn Vs propelled thirteen trips to the Moon!
The Rocket Launching Tower salutes the American space program and allows you to include a rendering of this technological marvel on your own HO gauge layout.
The basics: This is fully assembled and decorated. There is illumination of the launch tower and red flashing warning lights on top of the structure. At the base of the rocket platform you’ll spot rapidly flashing red LEDs. Below the platform is a grate that house Menard’s water vapor “smoke” system. Carefully add water, and when power is applied, a visible torrent of vapor can be seen – simulating launch!
The Rocket Lunching Tower requires a 4.5-volt power supply sold separately (Menards SKU nos. 279-4061/4361, 4062/4362, or4050). Power may be applied through either a rear table-top plug in, or from below the building with a pigtail connector.
Why you need this: Okay, this is pretty cool in its own right, but if you have a military or space theme anywhere on your railroad, this is a natural addition to it.
The HO Scale Launching Tower has an 4-¾ by 4-¾ inch foundation with a height of 9-3/8 inches. There is a complex array of structural support beams as well as conduits for electrical line or fuel for the liquid-powered rocket motors.
It has a massive tower structure with six levels. Five feature support arms reach out to the rocket. The rocket itself is a good model of the real thing. It is white, and decorated with black striping and an American flag. An Apollo capsule is up top, and you’ll find rudders and engine nozzles at the bottom.
The four rapid-flashing red LEDs warn folks that something big is about to happen. Then water vapor flows out at a rapid rate, suggesting the countdown is almost complete! Next stop, the Moon!
The Menards Rocket Launching Tower salutes our space program and a project for which every American can be proud!
I was able to pick this up in Barboursville, but I may have gotten the last one. It can be order from their website, using the links above for the appropriate scale. Just take a look…
And that is this week’s photo-heavy PopCulteer. I hope you enjoy me playing catch up with the toy reviews. Check back for all our regular features.