The PopCulteer
May 10, 2024

Between outside work, allergy attacks and Myasthenia Gravis, I have been slacking off with reviews for the past few months. I really need to catch up to things, so today I’m going to write five short reviews of cool things that have made their way into my collection over the past several weeks.

These are not detailed reviews, and I’m using photos from elsewhere on the web, rather that drag out the portable studio and camera and spend half the night taking pictures. This is for the sake of expediency, and so that I can tell you about these really cool things while there’s still a remote chance you can get your hands on them. We have some action figures, some comics, a fashion doll and a paperback novel to tell you about.

Forbidden Zone – Paperback Book
By Joshua Millican

This is a novelization of one of my favorite movies of all time. It’s a heartwarming tale about family love, schoolkids on a grand adventure and good triumphing over evil.

That is true, but it’s also a psychotronic delight starring Hervé Villechaize and Suzie Tyrell as the tyrannical rulers of the sixth dimension, which is accessible by a portal located in the basement of the Hercules family.  The movie is filled with surreal characters and bizarre settings. You’ll see Danny Elfman of Oingo Boingo as Satan (his brother directed the movie) and lots and lots of lovely young women running around wearing only white panties, knee socks and tap shoes. It’s not really for kids. It’s like a Max Fleischer cartoon come to life.

I just got this book in Thursday, so I can’t do a full-blown review. Soon I will have time to read this paperback novel, but for now, here’s the publicity blurb:

If you’re a loner, beware.
Abused and misunderstood, beware.
Proud and lustful, beware.
Dregs and druggies and transgressive artists, beware.
If you’re on your own, you might end up in the FORBIDDEN ZONE!

Experience the bizarre and musical tale of a girl who travels to another world through a gateway in her family’s basement. Follow the dysfunctional Hercules Family into the erotic and hellish catacombs of the Sixth Dimension. Meet the sinister and scintillating residents of the Forbidden Zone and party down with the Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo!

Richard Elfman’s transgressive cult sensation is now a novel, oozing with sex, mayhem, and body horror. This irreverent reimagining isn’t for the faint of heart—or the easily offended!

To stress it again, this is for adults. You can order your own copy now from Vinegar Syndrome.

Longbox Heroes Collection Action Figures

These are safe for kids.  These are action figures of some of the top independent comic book characters of the 80s and 90s, in the scale and format of DC Super Powers figures (originally from Kenner, now in a new series from McFarlane Toys). Longbox Heroes Collection is a retro styled 4.5” Comic Book Action Figures line.

Two years in the making, Fresh Monkey Fiction and Big Bad Toy Store take on independent comic book icons.  The Longbox Heroes Collection™ is the toy line that fans have been waiting for and features a selection of action figures based on some of the biggest names in creator-owned comic books heroes (and villians) including: Madman™ created by Mike Allred, The Goon™ created by Eric Powell, The Tick™ created by Ben Edlund, Mr. Monster™ created by Michael T. Gilbert, Cassie Hack™ created by Tim Seeley, Grendel™ created by Matt Wagner, and The Rocketeer™ created by Dave Stevens. Along with all-new characters The Black Phantom™* and the army-building Onslaught Trooper™* inspired by “The Rocketeer Jet-Pack Adventures” collection of stories.​

Each figure has been designed and sculpted by toy industry veteran and historian Jason Geyer aka ToyOtter Toys . These retro styled action figures have been uniquely created to have the look and feel of the classic Super Powers action figures of the 1980’s, along with playable articulation fans expect and deserve.

These were sold as a pre-order that took quite some time to come to fruition,  but they look fantastic and are in stock now, individually or as a set, at BBTS.


Over four years ago I wrote about a great one-shot comic book published by Rebellion/reasury of British Comics called SMASH!. I loved the retro/anglo stories, which offered new takes on classic UK comic book strips from the 1960s and 70s.

Originally solicited in the UK last year, a new three-issue mini-series version of SMASH! finally arrived in my hands a few weeks ago, and it’s another absolute treat.

Written by renowned artist/writer Paul Grist (KaneJack Staff), this fast-paced action-adventure mini-series features the very best and the most outlandish heroes, superheroes, and anti-heroes that British comics can offer. Two very different 1960s secret agents – Jane Bond and The Steel Claw – face mechanical menaces Robot Archie and the murderous AI Max from The Thirteenth Floor, and villainous anti-hero The Spider spars with supernatural avenger Cursitor Doom.

The series features new stories with great art from Tom Foster (Judge Dredd), Anna Morozova (Lowborn High) and Jimmy Broxton (Hope), and stunning covers by Andy Clarke (Batman and Robin). The story spans sixty years, involving the key characters, many of whom starred in the great IPC comics in the late 1960s.

Any decent comic book shop should be able to order this for you, or you could check online sources or be all fancy and order it directly from the UK.

MEGO DC 50th Anniversary Figures Wave 3

Punching all the nostalgia buttons, last year MEGO released near-exact replicas of the original DC MEGO World’s Greatest Superhero figures, in replica packaging, but on a vastly-improved new body. The line was a huge success and they continued it with a second wave, consisting mostly of villains, later in the year.

Now that all of the original male DC figures from MEGO have been released, they are still going with a new wave of eight figures, available now from online retailers like Absolutely Retro, and these are all gems.  No longer obligated to copy the weird cost-cutting quirks of the original Worlds Greatest Superheroes, MEGO has crafted some truly impressive eight-inch action figures with awesome headsculpts and really nice costume detail.

In this assortment they took on Dr. Fate, Deadman, Firestorm, Nightwing, Red Tornado, Bizarro, Two-Face and Brainiac. They look spectacular and are a great addition to anybody’s MEGO superhero collection.

Monster High Outta Fright Operetta Doll

Okay, this is one that I bought for my beautiful wife, Mel.  Her favorite character from the Monster High line was Operetta, the daughter of The Phantom of the Opera. Rather than opera, her musical kicks come from Rockabilly, but she still has the scarred face and mask, but she also has a smoking hot sense of hot-rod style.

This is the first version of Operetta that Mattel has released since they revived the Monster High line, and you have to join the Monster High Fang Club (it’s only ten bucks for a year) at Mattel Creations to get her, but it’s well worth it, since the deluxe collectors figure is only fifty dollars, which isn’t much for a limited run from Mattel Creations.

Here’s what they say on the website:

Straight from her concert in the catacombs comes the first exclusive Fang Club Member doll of 2024. Catch the hottest music act in Monster High – the new Operetta doll. Based on the fan-favorite G1 character, this singing phantom takes the stage in a 1950s-inspired spiderweb dress and vinyl record overskirt. She comes with her rockabilly pet spider Memphis Longlegs and a guitar handbag to complete her retro look.

  • 10.5 inches tall with 10 points of articulation
  • Wears a spiderweb dress with a vinyl record overskirt and piano key shoes
  • Her hot rod red high-top hair style is crowned by her pet spider Memphis Longlegs
  • Rocks her look with a neck scarf, dice earrings, and a guitar handbag
  • Premium Packaging with music notes and Outta Fright logo
  • Includes Certificate of Authenticity

And those are five cool things that have taken up residence in Stately Radio Free Charleston Manor over the last few weeks. This has been this week’s PopCulteer. Check back every day for fresh content, even when your humble blogger is a bit under the weather.