Today’s first pick in The 2020 PopCult Gift Guide is seven suggestions that you give a magazine subscription or single issue to the person on your holiday shopping list who enjoys the quaint and archaic pastime of reading magazines. For the younger among you, these were printed pamphlets that were sort of like websites, only they never crashed, and weren’t updated as often.
If you know someone of that certain age where magazines are still a thing and they still want to read about what was cool when they were growing up, then you can get them a gift subscrption to one of the magazines below, because despite all the joys of modern technology, nothing beats the tactile experience of reading and turning the pages of a good magazine…especially when you’re sitting on the toilet, or in your other favorite reading room.
We begin with a new magazine…
Back in the day, toy collectors got their news from magazines. There were several on the stands back in the early 90s: Jim Main’s Collectible Toys & Values, Lee’s Action Figure News and Toy Review, Tomart’s Action Figure Digest, Kalmbach’s Classic Toys, Toy Shop. I’m probably leaving out a few, but those were the leaders in the field.
Some of these magazines offered detailed, in-depth articles, printed on cheap newsprint, while others presented high-quality photographs of rare toys on expensive slick paper. They all filled a reference niche that the book market hadn’t quite caught up with yet. This was how you learned the history of the various toy companies and kept up with the hobby.
Happily, the nostalgia-merchants at Plaid Stallions.com have created a new toy magazine, Toy-Ventures, and after a harrowing experience in crowdfunding, it is available and it’s an absolute treat.
Editor and publisher, Brian Heiler, has a passion for the toys of his youth, particularly the lesser lights that don’t get that much attention from the average toy collector. Over seven years ago I raved about Brian’s book, Rack Toys, which looked at the cheap and cheesy toys sold in grocery stores and pharmacies, and that’s going to be back in print soon.
The first issue of Toy-Ventures is not only an entertaining read, but it’s also an impeccable work of reference. The second issue is imminent.
To get your own copy of Toy-Ventures, visit the MegoMuseum/Plaid Stallions/Odeon Toys store (where you can find some other pretty cool things to order) or check eBay. At the moment, it’s going to run you about sixteen bucks shipped to the US, and it’s well worth it if you have any interest in cool toys of the 1970s.
Remind is a great little magazine that is published by the folks who currently publish TV Guide, and it’s well-steeped in the days of yore.
The key to Remind is pure nostalgia. They claim to cover each decade from the 1960s to the 1990s, but since nostalgia was already such a huge part of pop culture by then, they have also delved into pre-1960’s pop culture icons like the Universal Monsters, Elvis Presley, Marlon Brando, Humphrey Bogart, Marilyn Monroe and the earlier stars of Hollywood.
I’m not complaining, because Remind employs a light, informed and fun approach to their articles. You won’t find deep, probing analysis here, just the highlights and some great photos. It’s fun, and that’s really something we need more of these days. The articles serve their purpose to remind us of the cool stuff from the history of pop culture. Hence the name.
Remind also has trivia, crossword puzzles, word search, and one of my favorite features, reprints of vintage comic strips from the various decades. This is the kind of magazine that, by law, should be required in all waiting rooms. It’s a bit like Highlights Magazine for grown-ups.
Another part of the charm of Remind is that it’s a hybrid magazine, with part of it printed on slick paper, and the rest on newprint. Hardly anybody prints on newsprint anymore, and to be honest, I sort of miss it. You can find your way to ordering gift subscriptions right HERE.
RetroFan is the brainchild of Michael Eury, who edits Back Issue Magazine (devoted to bronze-age comics) and TwoMorrows, who publish a variety of magazines and books that cover comics, pop culture and toys. RetroFan is a natural extension of the throroughly-researched nostalgia that Eury employs with Back Issue, only applied to pop culture in general.
With an all-star roster of writers, including Ernest D. Farino, Scott Shaw! Will Murray and others, RetroFan is a pure delight that dives head-first into topics like Charlie’s Angels, Captain Action Toys, Horror Movie hosts, The Andy Griffith Show, Space Toys, lunch boxes, classic TV shows and cartoons, pop music and anything else that made life more fun in our youth.
RetroFan has been successful enough to be bumped up to bi-monthly status from the quarterly schedule it began with and it’s clear that they have no shortage of topics that will punch the nostalgia buttons of any Baby Boomers, Sub-Boomers, Gen Xers or even Millenials with great taste on your holiday shopping list.
You can subscribe to RetroFan HERE, and I’m sure they can work out gift subscriptions for you as well. What could be more nostalgic than reading a magazine of any sort, let alone one that covers cool stuff from decades ago?
Exotica Moderne is a quarterly publication showcasing the new tiki and lowbrow art and artists, exotic cocktails, kustom kulture, music and more. Focusing on where these genres have been and where they are heading, Exotica Moderne features emerging artists as well as those spearheading these movements. Where all of these subcultures meet and intersect, Exotica Moderne covers next wave of tiki and lowbrow art.
Regular Features include: Tiki with Ray ; Cocktail Hour; Moving in Stereo; and Private Oasis. There have been two issues published so far, and they can be ordered directly from the magazine’s publisher, House of Tabu, who also offer some cool Mugs and other items like shot glasses and memberships in The Order of The Golden Fez.
Determined not to fall into the trap that has ensnared some other Tiki magazines, Exotica Moderne does not offer subscriptions. You can sign up for their email list, and you will be notified when the new issue is available to order. It’s neater that way. Nothing beats being able to flip through a magazine and find great articles and cool graphics about stuff that just screams “COOL” at the top of its lungs.
This is a great gift for the Tiki fan on your holiday shopping list who still reads paper magazines, and it’s cheap enough to be a stocking stuffer. You can order it HERE.
Zelda: The Magazine of the Vintage Nouveau
Zelda: The Magazine of the Vintage Nouveau is the publication for lovers of early 20th century culture, style, arts, film, music, and more! From the beginnings of the 20th century to the Golden Era of Hollywood, Zelda brings the love of this era to life on paper. They feature not only interviews, tutorials, and features on subjects from the era (1900-1940), but highlight the movers and shakers and best of what’s going on in the vintage-style social scene today.
Published twice a year, this digest-sized small press publication is the perfect gift for the person on your holiday shopping list who feels that they were not born of this time. Zelda is filled with articles on fashions of the day, new Jazz era concerts and shows and interviews with the biggest pre-Atomic-age retro personalities.
The latest issue, just released a few weeks ago, includes articles on coctails of the era, David J, late of the neo-Goth grandfathers,Bauhaus on his transition to Big Band music, 1920s-style Garters, plus reviews of classic movies, words on styling and a look at Art Deco Egyptmania, along with loads of other fascinating stories.
You can order the current issue, as well as select back issues of Zelda at their website, and be transported to another time.
Bachelor Pad Magazine
We move on to another “out-of-it’s time” digest-sized ‘zine, Bachelor Pad Magazine. This quarterly mag is for anyone who is a fan of the Atomic Age lifestyle. Filled with stories all about booze, babes, and burly-q since 2007. Bachelor Pad publishes four regular issues a year plus one naughty Nightcap Edition each summer. You can subscribe or order back issues at their website.
The hallmark of Bachelor Pad Magazine is the stunning PG-rated pin-up pictorials, usually starring the stalwarts of the modern burlesque scene. Though eye-popping, they are tame enough to retain a classy aura that calls back to a more innocent era, where being “naughty” didn’t involve quite so much effort.
Alongside the lovely ladies you’ll find short stories, articles on mixologly, movie lists, coverage of Burly-Q events and vintage-style magazine cartoons. Bachelor Pad Magazine is a deliberate relic of an earlier age…an Atomic one, at that.
Non Sport Update
Okay, I’m going to be a bit self-serving here. I’ve been contributing to Non Sport Update for twenty-three years now. This is the journal of non-sport trading cards and in 2016 it was acquired by Beckett Sports Media, which put it on even more newsstands and in more places so that you can read about the latest Wacky Packages, Garbage Pail Kids, Star Wars cards or other cool non-sport trading card wonders.
Non-Sport Update is THE magazine for collectors of non-sport trading cards (cards that focus on movies, television, sci-fi, comics, music, etc.–anything other than sports). The magazine is published bi-monthly in January, March, May, July, September, and November.
Each issue is filled with features and departments focusing on the latest trading card releases, promotional cards, online happenings, and vintage cards. Their large, 32-page price guide lists values for the most popular card series from the 1880s through today. Articles cover new and vintage card releases. Inside the magazine, you will also find contests, a schedule of card releases, and much, much more. Each issue comes poly-bagged with sample promotional trading cards.
If you’d like to subscribe or look into ordering back issues, just visit the website and check out all the wax pack goodness (gum not included).