ISSUE NO. 5
IN THIS ISSUE
32 | RETAIL RUNDOWN: BOXLUNCH
8 | IT’S ALL ABOUT EXCLUSIVES
BoxLunch fights hunger with sales from its unique fandom merch.
24 | 80 MARVELOUS YEARS
44 | MERCH MAKERS: CRYPTOZOIC ENTERTAINMENT
Can’t-Miss Collectibles at NYCC
Snag some limited-edition merch to celebrate Marvel Comics’ anniversary.
Playmobil: The Movie
47 | ‘TIS THE SEASON TO BE GEEKY
We picked our fave merch, collectibles, and more to make your days nerdy and bright!
Hasbro Acquires eOne, New YouTube FTC Rules, and More
36 | IT’S GOING TO BE EPIC
Playmobil: The Movie promises an animated adventure with the famed toy brand.
38 | POP PICKS:
Upcoming Kids’ TV Series
40 | COME ON, VÁMANOS!
66 | POP PICKS:
CLASSIC HORROR SCREAMS
13 | ARTISTS’ ALLEY:
The Horror Genre Gets the Reboot Treatment
One Part Natural Talent, One Part Fandom, and a Healthy Dose of Creativity
16 | THE REWIND: STAR CARS
There’s a booming market for Hollywoodinspired collectible vehicles.
20 | MINT CONDITION:
FROM SCREEN TO SHELF
The filmmaker behind The Flintstones and Jingle All the Way discusses his extensive cross-fandom collection.
Dora the Explorer grows up and faces new adventures in Dora and the Lost City of Gold.
26 | FLAUNT YOUR FANDOM
42 | DC YOUTH IMPRINTS STOMP ONTO THE SCENE
28 | LEVEL UP
Find out what’s coming soon from DC Ink and DC Zoom.
For the love of horror! Check out our favorite creepy collectibles.
Use your fandom for the greater good.
34 | NEXT-GEN NEWS
62 | MUST-HAVE MERCH
64 | POP PICKS: GEEKY CHARITIES
6 | FROM THE EDITORS PAGE 33
Cryptozoic keeps fans coming back for more with games, trading cards, and collectibles.
Spooky Fashion Finds
How Esports and the Overwatch League Are Reinventing Sports Merch for the Modern Gamer
“Super Family,” Charles Thurston
Cover photo: Rob Charles, Cosbot Photography, @cosbotphotography
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS
How a Group of Avengers Cosplayers Are Giving Back in a Big Way
4 | Issue No. 5 | THE POP INSIDER
FROM THE EDITORS
WELCOME TO NEW YORK (COMIC CON)! It’s been waiting for you! We’re so excited to kick off another con in our very own hometown — the Big Apple. New York Comic Con (NYCC) brings all of your favorite celebrities, superheroes, cosplayers, and more together to celebrate the things you love. And since we love ‘em too, we’ll be there! Stop by booth No. 270 while you’re there and say hi! While you’re waiting in line for panels and autographs, ﬂip through these super-powered pages. See some of the best exclusives you can grab from the show ﬂoor on page 8. And make sure you add Cryptozoic to your list of booths to stop by while you’re at the show — with their “fans ﬁrst” motto, they’re sure to have the perfect collectible to complete your shelf. Learn more about how this company grew from gaming to collectibles and more on page 44. Plus, we know a con is all about that sweet, sweet cosplay. While we can’t wait to see what you brought to walk the aisles of NYCC, we’ve assembled our own local heroes, the NY Avengers, to talk about all things cosplay. You can see them gracing our cover, but also ﬂip to page 10 to learn more about how they are coming together to change kids’ lives. Take a peek at our Pop Junior section for an inside look at what all the youths are talking about these days. Check out what’s to come on the big screen with fandom features on Playmobil: The Movie on page 36 and Dora and the Lost City of Gold on page 40. Plus, we talked to some of the authors involved in DC Comics’ new youth imprints. Read what’s new on page 42. And, of course, in addition to NYCC, October means the start of spooky szn — and we’re ready to scream. Want all the horror-ﬁlled merch your heart desires? Check out our selections on page 62. And if you’re into creepin’ it real all year-long, we’ve got all the must-haves for your day-to-day wardrobe on page 26. And trust us, if lewks could kill, we’d be dead, HONEY! Speaking of seasons, the holidays will be here before you know it, and you better believe ‘tis the season to be geeky. Our very ﬁrst Pop Insider Holiday Gift Guide features
6 | Issue No. 5 | THE POP INSIDER
CEO Laurie Schacht firstname.lastname@example.org PUBLISHER Jackie Breyer email@example.com EDITORS-IN-CHIEF
all of our favorite picks for every nerd on your list. Trust us, they’ll love. Flip to page 47 and start your shopping list immediately! We’re also putting a spotlight on how you can use your geekiness for the greater good with a roundup of nerdy charities that help those in need — turn to page 64 to learn how you can geek out and give back. But, of course, that’s not all! There’s a lot more content packed inside this issue and we’re so excited to share it — and NYCC — with you! Be sure to check us out on thepopinsider.com and on social media @thepopinsider for extensive coverage of the con, and tons of other nerdy news and updates. Love from your favorite scream queens,
Marissa DiBartolo firstname.lastname@example.org Ali Mierzejewski email@example.com SENIOR EDITORS Jacqueline Cucco firstname.lastname@example.org Sierra McCleary-Harris email@example.com Maddie Michalik firstname.lastname@example.org James Zahn email@example.com ASSOCIATE EDITOR Madeleine Buckley firstname.lastname@example.org EDITORIAL ASSISTANTS Victoria Rosenthal email@example.com Miranda Siwak firstname.lastname@example.org ART DIRECTOR Joe Ibraham email@example.com PRODUCTION DIRECTOR Bill Reese firstname.lastname@example.org SALES & MARKETING James Devin email@example.com Branden Mendez firstname.lastname@example.org Adventure Media and Events, LLC 307 7th Avenue, #1601, New York, NY 10001 Phone: (212) 575-4510
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER! popinsider.com/subscribe Follow us @thepopinsider!
ABOUT THE EDITORS: Marissa DiBartolo and Ali Mierzejewski are editors-in-chief of the Pop Insider and the Toy Insider. They report on trends and hot topics affecting the toy and pop culture industries, keeping up to date with the latest in TV, movies, video games, collectibles, and more. They have been featured on ABC World News Now, Good Morning America, The TODAY Show, The Steve Harvey Show, MSNBC, Fox Business, and dozens more. Follow them on Twitter @thattoygirl and @ohsotrendy.
THE POP INSIDER, Fall 2019 — “THE POP INSIDER” (ISSN-2641-5496) is published quarterly by Adventure Media & Events, LLC, 307 Seventh Ave., Room 1601, New York, New York, 10001. Periodicals postage paid at New York, NY 10001 and additional mailing ofﬁces. © 2019 Adventure Media & Events, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Printed in U.S.A. Subscription rates: $48 per year. THE POP INSIDER is a trademark and service mark of Adventure Media & Events, LLC registered in the United States Patent & Trademark Ofﬁce Postmaster: Send address changes to THE POP INSIDER, c/o Adventure Media & Events, 307 Seventh Ave., Room 1601, New York, New York, 10001 or e-mail bill@ popinsider.com.
compiled by Madeleine Buckley, associate editor
#NYCC What better way to remember your New York Comic Con (NYCC) experience than with a collectible or print that you can only get right here, right now? With so many booths and so much great merch on the show ﬂoor, it can be hard to decide what’s worth the wait. So, we’ve collected some of our fave exclusives to help you out. Check out more must-have merch on page 62 and even more NYCC exclusives at thepopinsider.com.
Booth No. 722
FUNKO POP! ICONS: MARVEL STAN LEE ASTRONAUT Funko
Hey, fellas! This exclusive Funko ﬁgure commemorates Stan Lee’s intergalactic cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 2.
Booth No. 502
BATMAN TV SERIES BATMOBILE WITH BATMAN AND ROBIN PIN MATES AND PAPERCRAFT BATCAVE AND WAYNE MANOR Entertainment Earth Batman and Robin are rolling in style in this epic Batman play set, modeled after the 1966 Batman TV series. The two-story manor and Batcave even includes tubes for the Pin Mates to slide down. The set is limited to 600 pieces.
Booth No. 2036
VISIONS: CAPTAIN AMERICA LIMITED-EDITION MATTED LITHOGRAPH, UNSIGNED Alex Ross Art We love this 3,000. Alex Ross created this illustration, limited to 250 pieces, as an alternate cover for the comic Captain America No. 34.
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Booth No. 110
Booth No. 1920
BATMAN/ALIENS — 7-INCH SCALE ACTION FIGURES, BATMAN AND “JOKER” ALIEN 2-PACK
A WILD RIDE ON ENDORTHEMED KEEPSAKE ORNAMENT PopMinded (Hallmark)
NECA Holy mashup, Batman! This two-ﬁgure pack is inspired by the 1997 Batman/Aliens comic book miniseries and includes a “Joker” Alien. Both ﬁgures are fully articulated, and the set is limited to 5,000.
Booth No. 110
KIDROBOT X SANRIO 3-INCH HELLO KITTY UNICORN, CHROME Kidrobot Chrome. Hello Kitty. Unicorn. Do we need to say more? There are only 1,000 of this (literal) rainbow unicorn.
Paploo the Ewok is ready to $40 take down the Empire on his speeder bike. The ornament also plays sounds from Return of the Jedi. Total production run is 3,200.
Booth No. 1644
GHOSTBUSTERS SCARED MR. STAY PUFT ACTION FIGURE Diamond Select Toys
If his face is any indication, Mr. Stay Puft is about to be toasted! This 8-inch, articulated ﬁgure is limited $20 to 500 pieces and comes packaged in a full-color window box.
FANDOMFEATURE FEATURE FANDOM
BY MARISSA DIBARTOLO, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
ot all heroes wear capes â€” but some do. While Captain America and his crew are known for saving the day on the big screen and in comic books, their legacies are ultimately just fantasy. But thereâ€™s a group of real heroes giving back to their community in a very super way. The NY Avengers are a group of cosplayers who band together for the greater good. These men and women don their custom-made superhero gear and make appearances at charity events on the East Coast, interacting with the people who look up to heroes most of all: kids. From hospitals and sporting events to local churches, the Avengers show up for meet and greets and photo-ops, and even put on live shows for kids in need.
IT STARTED WITH A PRINCESS Every team needs a fearless leader. Founder of the NY Avengers Samantha Catalano’s go-to cosplay is Captain Marvel, but her cosplay journey actually started with a princess. Catalano dressed up as Elsa for Halloween, and her look was so spot-on that a friend asked if she would volunteer to dress up as Elsa for a charity event — and it was all downhill from there. “Within a month or two I had 12 princess costumes,” Catalano says. Catalano started a princess-on-demand birthday party business with help from her mother, plus a program she calls Enchanted Wish, through which she and her team of princesses make hospital visits for kids in need. Catalano attended New York Comic Con (NYCC) in 2015, dressed in her ﬁrst ofﬁcial cosplay: Harley Quinn from Suicide Squad. “Going there and cosplaying for the ﬁrst time is what drew me into the community,” she says. “I made friends. I met some of the people who are in the NY Avengers now, and they really pushed me through the door.” Catalano’s ﬁrst Marvel cosplay was Spider-Gwen. Since then, she’s done other characters, including Jessica Jones, Black Widow, and Cable, but Captain Marvel is her go-to Avenger.
“Our Black Panther, Malcolm Jones, was working a party while many of us were at another event. There was a preteen kid there who made some off-hand comment, ‘You’re not the real Black Panther. IF you were, where are the rest of the Avengers?’ Not wanting to be defeated by a 9-year-old, Malcolm dialed ‘Spider-Man’ on his phone on Facetime, and [the kids at] that party had an hourlong facetime session with each and every one of us suited up. It was perfect timing. By the end of that event, that same kid was shouting, ‘WAKANDA FOREVER!’ In a world in which our childhood-bubble is popped and we don’t believe in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny anymore, that kid will always remember the day he called out Black Panther and was proven wrong — that heroes really do exist.”
Dom Charland, Star-Lord, NY Avengers
The NY Avengers pose with fans at the Brooklyn Cyclones game in the Autism Suite.
AVENGERS... ASSEMBLE! No stranger to charity events, Catalano wanted to put a super squad together for a meet and greet with underprivileged kids at St. Finbar Catholic Church in Brooklyn last December. She asked eight friends who had great Marvel cosplays to join her, careful not to duplicate any characters so the kids were not confused. “After the event, we all sat down and I was like, ‘Why don’t we do this? Why don’t we put a name on it, and do this for charity events? We’ll come as a packaged deal,” Catalano explains. “From that point, we stuck together.” In just three months, the NY Avengers grew to an impressive roster of more than 20 cosplayers. Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Winter Soldier, Ant-Man and the Wasp, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Panther, and even a 7-foot-tall Thanos — they’ve got all the key characters you know and love from iconic Marvel movies. And as the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) grows, so will the Avengers. “We’re trying to ﬁll the roster as much as possible, like right now we’re looking for a Loki,” Catalano says. “We want to extend the roster as much as possible; we want to make it bigger.”
Left: The NY Avengers assemble at Vessel, Hudson Yards in New York City. Above: The women of the cosplay group show off their power stance. Photos: Rob Charles, Cosbot Photography, @cosbotphotography
WHATEVER IT TAKES With so many cosplayers, events, conventions, and varying work and school schedules to contend with, this group is a lot to manage. “It takes a lot of spreadsheets,” Catalano explains. And of course, it takes help. Dom Charland, whose main cosplay is Star-Lord, is a manager of the group, helping coordinate photoshoots and events, and keeping everything organized. “In a lot of ways, I wish I could make this my full-time job and let go of Muggle responsibilities,” Charland says. “Some of the things we do have such a larger impact on people’s lives than anything I could do behind a desk on a 9-to-5 [job].” Babs Butcher, who cosplays as the Wasp, acts as an assistant manager. “When Captain Marvel tells a small-town Pennsylvania girl she’s worthy of joining the ranks of the NY Avengers, you answer the call,” Butcher says. Joshua Rodriguez (Captain America), Daniel
Acosta (Thanos), Isaac Vicci (Iron Man), and Rafael Ayala (Winter Soldier) are key players as well, assisting with cosplay builds, team organization, and more. Being a NY Avenger is no small commitment. Cosplay takes a huge amount of passion, skill, money, and time. But in the end, the work is worth it for this dedicated group. “For me, the best part of the appearances is when a kid is also dressed up as your character and you meet them,” Charland says. “I was ﬁlling in as Ant-Man for an event, and a brother and sister dressed as Ant-Man and the Wasp walked by, and it was the greatest feeling ever. Those kids probably had no idea we would be there. Everyone expects to see Spider-Man and Black Panther, but to see two grown versions of yourself go absolutely bonkers over you has to be an awesome feeling.” So far, the Avengers have made appearances at the Ronald McDonald House, St. Mary’s Hospital for Children, the Cradle of THEPOPINSIDER.COM | #FuelYourFandom | 11
FANDOM FEATURE Aviation Museum, and more. Sometimes they appear as the Avengers, sometimes they borrow some of Catalano’s princess costumes, and sometimes they swap cosplays between them — it’s all about giving the kids what they want. “I’m really big with the hospital visits because it’s an experience that money can’t buy — and something you can’t even explain,” Catalano says. “For a kid [who’s] going through that, even if it’s a half hour, you just get to make them smile and be there for them. You get to take them away from all the big battles that they are fighting.”
THE BONDS OF FRIENDSHIP Between con appearances and charity events, the NY Avengers spend a lot of time together. They help each other prep new cosplays, repair and enhance old ones, and even enjoy each other’s company completely outside of the world of cosplay. “I share more with my NY Avengers family than I do with my own family! I have a place I belong, where I am safe, loved, and where my crazy ideas are valued,” Butcher says. “We help our own dreams come to life, and when someone needs a hero, we can be there for them.” And (in the words of Uncle Ben) with great power, comes great responsibility. “My day-to-day went from, ‘Oh, we have an event next week,’ to ‘We have an event next week, two on Thursday, need to get these three characters together for a hospital visit, and don’t forget we have to make the Hulk a real thing by December,” Charland says. It’s an intense schedule, but this group is all smiles on and off camera. Their energy is infectious, their passion is palpable, and their friendship is admirable: They embody the Avengers beyond their costume replications.
MAKING DREAMS COME TRUE Cosplay is so common at conventions, such as NYCC. You can hardly walk 5 feet without running into Spider-Man or accidentally stepping on someone’s long, flowing cape. But outside of the convention scene, spotting one of your favorite superheroes on an average day is a rarity, so kids coming face to face with more than 20 at a time is truly a remarkable experience. For these kids, seeing is believing. “Meeting superheroes ultimately makes the impossible possible,” Butcher says. “So when a child needs to know that they can recover from surgery or illness, and they can brave adversity and doubt, meeting their favorite characters in real life becomes the physical manifestation of something seemingly unachievable becoming reality.” The NY Avengers have impressive cosplays far beyond anything you’d find on a shelf in Party City. They use high-end materials — such as EVA foam, fiberglass, and more — and make sure every piece of their cosplay is a screen-accurate depiction of the characters they embody, from makeup and scars to battle damage on their props. An incalculable amount of time and energy goes into crafting these looks, perfecting poses, and learning how to embody the characters they represent. “When you commit to cosplaying on this level, you become the character in ways the actor, the cartoon, the action figure can’t be,” Butcher explains. “It’s not easy, but the reward is greater than you can ever imagine.” True professionals, the NY Avengers take their craft and passion for fandom to the next level, dedicating a huge portion of their lives to helping kids in need make beautiful memories that last a lifetime. In a post-Endgame world, what’s next for these true heroes? Global domination, of course. The team hopes to expand and do even more charity events over the next year, and move outside of the East Coast to reach more organizations across the country and on an international level. They also plan to incorporate more interactive elements into their appearances, such as skits and trivia games. And much like the MCU entering into Phase Four, the NY Avengers hope to set up a legacy that lasts beyond themselves. “I hope that when we get too old to do this, we will have other people continue on as well,” Catalano says. ✪ Joe Anthony Ramos as Ant-Man and Babs Butcher as the Wasp; Photo: Rob Charles, Cosbot Photography, @cosbotphotography
12 | Issue No. 5 | THE POP INSIDER
Samantha Catalano Captain Marvel @samanthas_cosplay
Alberto Bohorquez Hawkeye @NYCC.bugle
Daniel Acosta Thanos @reignofcosplay
Mary Kate Lively Hela @MK_cosplays
Babs Butcher The Wasp @Babsbutcher
Amir Soliman Deadpool @powertripcosplay
Isaac Vicci Iron Man @nytonystark
John Hubbard Deadpool @cosplaywade
Dom Charland Star-Lord @domcharland
Aileen Rivera Cinquemani Mantis @momthecosplayer
Eyliza Morciglio Joshua Rodriguez Gamora Captain America @call_me_cap_brooklynkid @lyza_christine_cosplay Rafael Ayala Winter Soldier @Raf_bucky_barnes
Emy Sadler Rocket Raccoon @electricemy
Rebecca Bitondo Maria Hill @rebzdeladisco
Naiquan Midyett Spider-Man @cosplaynay
Samantha Rubin Scarlet Witch @sammyrubin
Malcolm Jones Black Panther @Bossjones
Christian Acosta Spider-Man @itsalphachris
Lovie Lee Black Panther @Lovieleeofficial
Jake Dawson Dr. Strange @jakecosplays
Brett Harte Thor @brokecosplay
Renee Frangione Black Widow @codenamecitadel
Colin Dungan Vision @infinitepolygoncosplay
Joe Anthony Ramos Ant-Man @The_lawless_gentlemen
Darnell Hicks Luke Cage @cagednerd
Catch the NY Avengers at NYCC on Thursday, Oct. 3 at 1:30 p.m., where they will host the panel “Crash Course Into Cosplay” on the Cosplay Central Stage in the River Pavilion at the Javits Center.
Natural Talent, Next-Level Fandom, and a Dose of Creativity by Sierra McCleary-Harris, senior editor
artoons are a quintessential part of childhood. Whether you were loyal to Disney’s One Saturday Morning programming block, Cartoon Network, or something else, chances are you had a favorite show or two — or 10 — and they influenced your childhood in some way. For Charles Thurston, that influence was significant. Thurston, an artist based in Orlando, Florida, is increasingly known for his intricate, painstakingly detailed paper cuts. Using little more than paper and time, Thurston has recreated everything from Beauty and the Beast’s Cogsworth and Robin Hood’s Prince John to Scooby-Doo and Star Trek’s Captain Jean-Luc Picard, using layer upon layer of colored paper to reimagine the characters we all know and love.
He credits his voracious childhood appetite for cartoons — all cartoons, no matter how cheesy or unknown — for sparking his creativity and lifelong passion for art. “I think my love of art is centralized around … cartoons,” Thurston says. “When I think of cartoons that I watched as a kid, I don’t think of like, ‘Oh gosh, I had to get home to watch Transformers, or I had to get home to watch G.I. Joe.’ Pretty much, as a little kid, if there was a cartoon on, I would give it a chance.” In fact, some of Thurston’s first paper pieces were homemade toys inspired by those same shows: DIY Transformers he made for himself. While his parents certainly bought him toys, they stuck to more moderately priced items — not necessarily the hot-
test, trendiest picks — and instead invested heavily in his education. “I went to a private Catholic school; I know my parents worked hard to get me there,” he says. “So I had GoBots, and my friends had Transformers, if that makes sense. It wasn’t the pricey, pricey toy; it was the middle-of-the-road toy. I used to make a lot of my own stuff. My main medium that I use right now is paper, but I remember as a little kid I used to make paper Transformers. “It’s cute to tell now, but I’m just picturing myself as a little kid: I would draw the robot on one side, draw the car on the other side, then cut it out so that it’s folded in half,” he adds with a signature, hearty laugh. “Like here’s the car, and then I would fold it again like here’s Optimus Prime. So I’ve been using paper for years and years.” If cartoons and a natural penchant for creation took Thurston half of the way, Disney took him the rest. He began working at Walt Disney World when he was still in high school, sometimes even skipping school to spend more time at the park. (Who can blame him?) He was a character and a puppeteer for 16 years, and he did parades, too. “I puppeteered as the Little Mermaid, Bear in the Big Blue House, the Lion King, the Disney Crew, Pocahontas and her Forest Friends — basically every puppet show on the property in the early 2000s, I did,” Thurston says. In fact, his first paper-cut piece was conceived while he was there. “I wanted to make something for my mother for Christmas, and Disney didn’t really pay that much,” he says. “So I was trying to think, ‘OK, what can I make her?’ In every theme park break room, I guarantee you’ll find at least four copies of old Entertainment Weeklys, so I would take those from all the break rooms and cut them up. I decided I
THEPOPINSIDER.COM | #FuelYourFandom | 13
In addition to his paper cuts, Thurston also sells prints of the cuts at cons. After getting an irresistible offer for an original piece he intended to keep for his personal collection, Thurston now makes three copies of anything he think he may want for himself. From top left to right: “Dance,” “Totally Gizmo,” and “Super Family” All photos: Charles Thurston
was going to make her a ‘Last Supper’ and treat it like a tile mosaic — but with paper.” While Thurston credits Disney with a lot — his first career, meeting his wife, and being the single-largest influence on him creatively, with the exception of his parents — he was so busy and fulfilled while working there that he put his art on the backburner, sketching occasionally at best. Eventually, his desire to start a family — and the extra money that requires — led him to work as a programmer at Carley Corp., an Orlando-based custom training solutions company. “I bluffed my way into a job,” Thurston says. “I got a job programming. I was there for five years, and the money was great. It helped us afford to have my daughter, my oldest, Lily, and it was great in that aspect, but I hated it. I hated the work. I’m an entertainer, I’m an artist, I like performing, making people laugh, making something, and the work I was doing, although the money was very good, it was soul-crushing.” Although Thurston was unhappy with his programming job, there was a silver lining: It pushed him back toward art. He started
14 | Issue No. 5 | THE POP INSIDER
drawing more, desperate to do something creative — to create something. At the same time when he found himself getting reacquainted with his art, a friend of Thurston’s encouraged him to attend conventions. Initially, Thurston says he primarily saw conventions as a big money suck, paying for entry into an event where you just spend more money. Nonetheless, he dove in, saving up enough money to attend MegaCon. He happened upon a little thing called Artists’ Alley — and it changed his life. “What’s an Artists’ Alley?! I had never even heard of it,” he says. “A friend of mine [told me] it’s where local artists and big-name artists can go and get a table and sell their stuff. They do sketches, and it’s great. … I did the math in my head and was like, ‘Wait; it’s only $50 more for an Artists’ Alley table than a three-day pass to the show next year. If I spend $50 more, I get an Artists’ Alley table, I can bring my stuff to be seen, I can sell stuff, I can come to the show, and I get an extra badge for my wife?’ Yeah? Alright, where do I sign up? I’m gonna do a show next year!”
That was about seven years ago, and Thurston’s been hooked ever since. Needing inventory, he started drawing more and more — every day — and thinking about what it would take to make art for a living. Thurston didn’t have to wait or think too long. After working at Carley for five years, he was laid off. “I went home; I was super depressed, and I was talking with my wife about it,” he says. “I was like, ‘I’m going to try finding something else; don’t worry.’ My wife had a great job at Disney, and we had benefits through her, so it was really great. When we had talked about having kids, we both wanted one of us to stay at home with the kids. So she said, ‘You’re already doing art. You’ve been at Carley for the past five years, and it’s killing you. You hated it. So why don’t you try doing this full time? Why don’t you try art full time? And just work out of the house because that’ll allow you to be home with the kids, and also do something that you’re passionate about, and something that you love.’ God bless her. She’s always been so supportive — incredibly supportive — of what I do.”
So, what started as an anxiety-filled period of change quickly saw Thurston following his dream: Working as a full-time artist — and a stay-at-home dad. Although he’s dabbled with children’s book illustration, paper mosaics, and other art forms, Thurston’s papercuts are his current focus. “Right now, all my prints are all my paper work,” Thurston says. “I retired all my other prints — almost two, three years ago now — at shows. And I [decided] to focus just on paper. For like a year, everything I did was just paper, so that I could work on it and focus on it and make bigger and cooler things.” When he first started selling his art at cons, Thurston says he couldn’t give the paper away, that’s how unpopular it was. But that’s far from the case now. Today, he creates not just original pieces or those inspired by classic and obscure Disney properties, he does a fair amount of commissions, too — including some for big names, such as John Leguizamo. “It’s been so amazing,” Thurston says. “I’m just so happy that people appreciate the art form, and they appreciate the time it takes to do it.”
When you look at Thurston’s paper work, you may find yourself asking if it’s really just paper as you wonder about the shading and pops of color. “It’s all paper; I don’t touch it up digitally at all,” Thurston says. “I’m always trying to push myself to do something new with it.” Using his iPad Pro with an Apple pen or his Wacom Cintiq, Thurston does a rough sketch, goes over it about three more times, adds in the line work, arranges it all, and then prints it. That drawing becomes the basis for the final paper cut, which features natural shadows and foam core for depth. “I wanted to set myself apart,” he says. “I try not to do shading with any paints or the pen or anything. I try to shade just with the actual paper or use natural shadows. I’ll layer it inside the shadow box with foam core. The only pen that I use is if it’s a fine-tip line that I need to get; ... I’ll use a Micron pen to get that little detail, or a white gel pen for like the white in their eyes, like a little white dot.” While the paper is still Thurston’s primary focus, he recently created a limited-edition set of enamel pins based on Cosmo from The Iron Giant. They sold like hotcakes burgers, and if he can monetize them well, he says he’ll make more. Thurston’s also newly into Dungeons & Dragons (D&D). A visit to his Instagram page reveals a cutesy series of tiny dragons and dice inspired by the game.
When he’s not sketching his latest piece or fanboying over obscure, old-school animation and D&D, you can find Thurston gearing up for his latest con. Dragon Con was most recent, but he’s headed to NYCC’s Artists’ Alley next. “NYCC is my favorite show to do,” Thurston says. “Don’t get me wrong; I’ve done some other conventions that are just wonderful, wonderful shows, … but NYCC is almost like a validation to artists. Those people are art connoisseurs. They appreciate the value. They respect it’s an art form, and it’s a skill. It kind of reassures me that I’m making a correct choice in wanting to be an artist because these people appreciate and value my work and realize that it’s gonna cost money to make this.” If you find yourself with a few extra minutes to mosey down Artists’ Alley at NYCC, stop and see Thurston at table C-5. And when you do, make sure you ask him about his favorite pie. ✪
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sierra McCleary-Harris is a senior editor at Adventure Media & Events, editing and producing content for the Toy Book, the Toy Insider, and the Pop Insider. You can ﬁnd her fangirling over LOTR and Disney princesses, or falling into every thirst trap the internet sets.
“Iron Giant Trees”
“Once Upon a Wintertime” Check out more of Thurston’s art on Instagram @theartofcharlesthurston
THEPOPINSIDER.COM | #FuelYourFandom | 15
There’s a booming market for collectible vehicles inspired by Hollywood adventures and entertainment properties. by James Zahn, senior editor For many, it may have started with the Batmobile — speciﬁcally, the George Barris-designed car that was piloted by Adam West and Burt Ward in the 1966 Batman TV series: a love affair with vehicles not from the streets, but from the screen. If it wasn’t from Gotham, there’s a good chance it was at least from the same decade, as the ‘60s served up an explosion of automotive creativity that was wowing audiences on TV and in theaters. The Munsters’ Koach and Drag-U-La; Black Beauty from The Green Hornet; the Monkees’ Monkeemobile; Herbie, the Volkswagen from The Love Bug; the ‘68 Ford Mustang GT from Bullitt; the ‘63 Aston Martin DB5 from Goldﬁnger; and the Minis from 1969’s The Italian Job all spawned from the same decade. While some of the cars were created to serve a purpose within the ﬁctional narrative, some were simply stock models with little to no enhancement. But their appeal grew, either from being pushed to the limit for the sake of entertainment or from the attachment to a charismatic driver, such as Steve McQueen, Sean Connery, Burt Reynolds, David Hasselhoff, or the Duke Boys. Over the years, these “star cars” became big business, inspiring countless toys and collectibles, and business is booming like never before as collectors continue to assemble ﬂeets of vehicles inspired by the obvious and the obscure. For every technologically advanced Back to the Future Delorean Time Machine, there’s a rusted-out ‘52 Ford F-1 Sanford and Son Salvage pick-up truck. And while most collectors would love to have the red ‘58 Plymouth
16 | Issue No. 5 | THE POP INSIDER
Fury featured as the title vehicle in John Carpenter’s 1983 adaptation of Stephen King’s Christine, some prefer the barely seen, blue ‘68 Dodge Charger from the ﬁlm instead. Indiana-based Greenlight Collectibles is one of a few companies that caters to many interests through its long-running Greenlight Hollywood range — an ever-changing assortment that runs the gamut from the “greatest hits,” such as The Blues Brothers’ Bluesmobile and the Smokey and the Bandit Pontiac Trans-Am, to the “deep cuts,” such as an ‘87 Jeep Wrangler from Patriot Games and the ‘73 Volkswagen Bus from Field of Dreams. The company just released details on its 26th wave, which will include Travis Bickle’s cab from Taxi Driver and the ‘82 GMC K-2500 pick-up from The Fall Guy. Among the more recent deep cuts from Greenlight are a ‘55 Chevrolet Two-Ten Townsman wagon from Vanishing Point and a ‘72 Jeep C-5 from the sitcom Mork & Mindy. Filmmaker Brian Levant, who was a writer on Mork & Mindy, has an unusual favorite star car toy, and it’s one that not only comes from another series that he worked on, but also from the series on which Mork ﬁrst appeared: Happy Days. Top: Transformers Bumblebee 1:12-scale Elite 4x4 R/C from Jada Toys; Right: Jada Toys’ Hollywood Rides Hopper’s Chevy Blazer from Stranger Things
“The Happy Days Fonzie’s Jalopy is my favorite,” Levant says. “I have the Jalopy and the box, and I even have the Fonzie’s Garage play set! When I posted pictures of it on Instagram, that was one of the most-liked posts I’ve ever done. It was surprising,” he says. [Read more about Brian Levant on page 20] While the Jalopy was produced by the Mego Corp. in scale with its 8-inch action ﬁgures, vehicles from Happy Days have been done as die-casts by Matchbox, Johnny Lightning, and Ertl. Back to the Batmobile, the iconic nighttime ride of Bruce Wayne’s alter-ego has become a subcategory all its own, with toys from multiple licensees and appearances across several different Hot Wheels lines, which have also included other Bat-vehicles, such as the Batpod, Batwing, and Batboat, along with vintage, comic-inspired takes and modern interpretations, such as the Tumblr from Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight ﬁlm trilogy. Just as individual fans have a favorite Batman incarnation, many favor a speciﬁc version of the car, and perhaps no one knows that better than Michael Uslan, executive producer of every Batman-related ﬁlm across live-action animation since 1989’s Tim Burton-directed Batman. “My dear friend, Anton Furst, was responsible for the design of the Batmobile, and I can’t help it, but that’s still
THE REWIND my favorite,” Uslan says, recalling the production of the ‘89 vehicle, while noting that he’s one of the few people who’s been able to ride in all of the live-action Batmobiles from the ‘66 version to the recent Justice League version. “It was all about coming up with a war machine that would be taken seriously. The car had to ﬁt into Tim [Burton]’s vision of Gotham City as brought to life by Anton and his group,” Uslan says, reﬂecting on the classic, almost elegant inspirations for the vehicle. The ‘89 car and the ‘66 version are regularly reissued with variations in paint color and deco for maximum collectibility. At Jada Toys in California, designers have been coming up with new interpretations of vehicles from the Fast & Furious franchise for years, but recently they’ve spread their wings for a line that’s appropriately named Hollywood Rides. “Hollywood Rides brings back the nostalgia of all the iconic Hollywood movie vehicles and characters we grew up loving and offers a way to bring together all the movie vehicles in a smaller scale,” says Darryl Li, Jada Toys’ director of marketing. “It gives collectors the opportunity to showcase their passion for the most iconic properties.” The lineup from Jada includes die-cast, R/C, and even a collection of Nano Hollywood Rides that shrinks the vehicles to an even smaller-than-micro scale. The ﬁrst wave of Nanos includes vehicles from the Fast & Furious and Transformers franchises, and Li says that the company plans to expand the Nano universe with other licenses, including Back to the Future and Harry Potter. Rather than focusing solely on screen-accurate replicas, much of the Jada line is “inspired by” the source material and presents familiar things in new ways, such as non-transforming Transformers characters under license from Hasbro that allow for a really detailed presentation of what the Autobots’ and Decepticons’ vehicle modes can be. They’re also looking to DC Comics and Marvel in creating stylized, character-inspired vehicles, such as the Deadpool Taco Truck and yes, a ton of Batmobiles, including one from Batman: The Animated Series that became one of this year’s quickest sell-outs at Comic-Con International: San Diego (SDCC). “Whether you’re a car enthusiast, pop-culture collector, or movie fanatic, there is something for every fandom,” Li says. Two of the most popular offerings from Jada this fall are coming straight from Hawkins, Indiana: a pair of familiar rides from the Netﬂix original series Stranger Things. Hopper’s 1980 Chevrolet K5 Blazer comes with a replica 18 | Issue No. 5 | THE POP INSIDER
‘SLICENSING’ THE STAR CARS In the realm of automotive collectibles — particularly die-cast — there’s an above-average amount of “slicensing” that goes on. That means that ﬁlm studios and their agents will often share the same license with multiple parties, effectively “slicing” it up, resulting in similar products from different manufacturers that all offer something different when it comes to size, scale, or audience. Right now, you can ﬁnd versions of the Ghostbusters’ Ecto-1 being produced for Mattel’s Hot Wheels, the Johnny Lighting Silver Screen Machines collection by Round2, and Jada Toys’ Hollywood Rides. Even Funko and Playmobil got in on the action with their own versions of the iconic 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor ambulance that was famously converted and decked-out for paranormal investigations and eliminations.
Reimagined in every scale, the Ecto-1 in 1:64 (Mattel) and 1:32 die-cast (Jada); as a 1:12 Elite R/C (Jada); and the Ghostbusters II Ecto-1a (Playmobil)
police badge, and Billy’s ‘79 Chevy Camaro is packaged with a limited-edition coin. For the holiday season, Jada is partnering with Walmart for a pallet promotion featuring new 1:12-scale Elite 4x4 R/C vehicles. The new collection reinvents the Transformers’ Bumblebee, the Ghostbusters’ Ecto-1, and the Justice League Batmobile for off-road action with jacked-up suspension and rugged tires. Even Spider-Man is in on the fun with a Superbird-inspired ride. In the UK, Corgi continues its legacy of creating die-cast vehicles based on classic properties and personalities, such as The
Beatles, Harry Potter, Paddington, Captain Scarlet, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and even Rowan Atkinson’s Mr. Bean. On a global level, there is, perhaps, no other brand with the proliferation of Mattel’s Hot Wheels, and the depth of assortment from and inspired by entertainment properties continues to grow, with new offerings pulled from ﬁlm, TV, animation, and gaming. Vehicles once driven (or piloted) by Fred Flintstone, George Jetson, Homer Simpson, Gru, and Cruella de Vil are now part of a lineup that has featured multiple versions of the Back to the Future Delorean, along with Biff’s
manure-covered Ford, and Marty McFly’s custom Toyota pick-up; K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider in regular and Super Pursuit Mode, along with his evil twin, K.A.R.R.; the Ghostbusters’ Ecto-1 and Ecto-1a, along with versions based on The Real Ghostbusters cartoon and the 2016 remake; Scooby-Doo’s Mystery Machine; The A-Team van, the Pizza Planet truck from Toy Story; Magnum P.I.’s Ferrari; the Starsky & Hutch Torino; The Muppets’ Electric Mayhem van; Snoopy and Woodstock on a hot rod doghouse; and vehicles inspired by Angry Birds, Halo, Minecraft, Forza Horizon 4, and Rocket League. When it comes to cross-generational appeal, Jimmy Liu, Hot Wheels marketing manager at Mattel says, “It’s the authenticity and variety that Hot Wheels brings — to have a ﬁnely executed miniature replica of a vehicle that has captivated fans throughout the years — and it all ﬁts in the palm of your hand!” And that’s just scratching the surface, as sprawling line extensions branch out into the Character Cars line, along with limited-edition sets and assortments featuring artwork from pop culture for entirely original creations. The Premium Pop Culture line has featured Hanna-Barbera cartoons, Star Wars, The Beatles, Peanuts, and more. “For replica vehicles, we strive to accurately reproduce what is seen on screen in 1:64 scale,” Liu says. “We stick to the reference material to ensure we are being as precise as possible. For graphical assortments, such as Pop Culture, there is a lot of creative work and brainstorming that goes into creating each theme. We think about current trends and how we can leverage the amazing artwork available for the license.” One of the latest Premium Pop Culture assortments is a Star Wars collection that pairs artwork from Brian Miller of Oktopolis with collector-grade, die-cast vehicles. It’s creating “star cars” based on a galaxy far, far away. STAR CARS GO HIGH-TECH Perhaps the next evolution in collecting these entertainment rides will be allowing the toys to go back into entertainment, but in new ways. Hot Wheels id, which launched this summer at Apple Store and Amazon, features 1:64-scale cars that contain special technology that allows kids and collectors to merge physical play with the digital world for an experience that Mattel calls “mixed play.” This fall, entertainment rides enter the platform for the ﬁrst time. K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider and the Darth Vader Character Car — which actually exists as a real-life, driveable vehicle — will be intro-
Hot Wheels’ Pop Culture Ford Transit Supervan with Boba Fett artwork by Brian Miller
duced, presenting examples of vehicles both based on and inspired by entertainment, with “Screen Time” and “Sith Series” on their redline tires, respectively. And yes, those Gotham cruisers are coming to Hot Wheels id as well. A full range of Batmobiles from Batman ‘89, The Dark Knight, Arkham Knight, and The Justice League are in the mix, each with special-edition color schemes and design ﬂairs. Appropriately, the George Barris-designed 1966 TV Batmobile is the perfect throwback to when it all began. It’s the ﬁrst Hot Wheels id ride to be speciﬁcally labeled on its ﬂip-top outer box as a “Limited Edition Collectible.” If there was any doubt that we’ve reached a renaissance of sorts when it comes to the vehicular pop culture fandom, the appearance of a greatest-hits assortment of star cars in a recent Walmart grocery commercial should do the trick. You just can’t get more mainstream than that. ✪
“It’s the authenticity and variety that Hot Wheels brings — to have a finely executed miniature replica of a vehicle that has captivated fans throughout the years — and it all fits in the palm of your hand! “ Jimmy Liu, Hot Wheels marketing manager, Mattel
The 1966 TV Batmobile (above) and K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider, based on a 1982 Pontiac Trand Am (left), get high-tech upgrades as part of Mattel’s Hot Wheels id collection. Each car contains tech that can be tracked by a companion app.
THEPOPINSIDER.COM | #FuelouFandom | 19
SCREEN TO SHELF
Brian Levant, the filmmaker behind The Flintstones, Jingle All the Way, and Are We There Yet?, discusses his extensive, crossfandom collection of toys, advertising, and entertainment memorabilia. by James Zahn, senior editor rowing up in Highland Park, Illinois, Brian Levant found himself drawn to entertainment in an era when the television boom was about to pop and America was on the cusp of a licensing revolution. Levant caught the collecting bug early. “When I was really young, maybe in 1958 or so, things like Three Stooges flasher rings and little glow-in-the-dark light bulbs started appearing in gumball machines — things that you really had to have,” he says, reflecting on the genesis of a passion that has been with him ever since. It’s a collecting hobby that’s been shaping his book: My Life and Toys. For the past eight years, Levant, the filmmaker behind Beethoven, The Flintstones, and Jingle All the Way, has been working on the book with his brother-in-law, Joseph Pellegrini. Levant has the stories and the toys, but the process has taken time because Pellegrini, a commercial photographer, is in Chicago, while Levant is in Los Angeles. Whenever Levant makes his way back to Illinois, he brings a box of toys with him to be photographed. 20 | Issue No. 5 | THE POP INSIDER
REKINDLING MEMORIES OF THE PAST “It’s been a process, and working on the book has revived memories of things like riding on the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile,” he says, pointing to the memorabilia as distinct signposts that represent moments in his life. Levant, who got started in Hollywood by writing and producing on TV series, such as The Jeffersons, Happy Days, Mork and Mindy, The New Leave It To Beaver, and The Bad News Bears, finds a lot of connections between his hobby and his work. When he visited the Weinermobile as a kid, “Little Oscar” was played by Jerry Maren, the Lollipop Kid from The Wizard of Oz. “Jerry worked as a stand-in on The Bad News Bears, and it was so weird to talk to him again after all that time,” he says. FROM THE BOOKSHELF TO BEDROCK While there are a lot of creative people who tend to collect what they’ve created, Levant may have booked a major gig because he collected. “I think one of the reasons I got The
Flintstones was because of my collection,” he recalls. “I’d heard that they were looking for a writer, but my agent at the time said, ‘They’ve got somebody already, but they’d like to speak to you about directing.’ When I went in to meet with [Steven] Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, I sat there for the first 10 minutes fumbling before I got myself together, but what I did bring was a Polaroid of my Flintstones collection, which was, at the time, maybe 35 to 40 pieces. Spielberg was blown away by it.” Levant says he now has around 4,000 pieces of Flintstones memorabilia, including the Williams’ Flintstones pinball machine that was directly inspired by his 1994 film. SURROUNDED BY INSPIRATION AND CREATION Happy Days was a series that Levant started working on and then collected. “I’m very fortunate that from 1976 into the ‘90s, there was a steady stream of great Happy Days merchandise being released, and it’s great to live with these parts of my life,” he says.
Clockwise from top: A portion of Levant's Flintstones collection, a shelf dedicated to the Scooby-Doo Mystery Machine, and a Turbo Man enamel pin by Pin Lounge paying tribute to the 1996 Tiger Toys action figure
In Levant’s home office, he says that he’s completely surrounded by the comedians who have influenced him, the projects he’s worked on, and the entertainment that has inspired him. One particularly interesting collection is tied to a famous property that Levant wasn’t in love with until after he worked on it: Scooby-Doo. “I have to admit that I was not a big Scooby-Doo fan. I took the meeting and couldn’t remember Daphne’s name,” he says with a laugh. Timed with the 40th anniversary of the Scooby-Doo franchise in 2009, Levant directed Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins and Scooby-Doo! The Curse of the Lake Monster for Warner Bros., both of which made their debut on Cartoon Network. “I developed such an appreciation and appetite for collecting Scooby-Doo while making those two films,” he says. “And look at Robbie THEPOPINSIDER.COM | #FuelYourFandom | 21
MINT CONDITION Amell [Fred] and Hayley Kiyoko [Velma] — they’ve gone on to become genuine stars.” As Scooby celebrates 50 years this year, Levant continues to collect, amassing everything from multiple versions of the Mystery Machine to what may have been the first Scooby-Doo toy ever created: a simple vinyl figure of the Great Dane. IT’S TURBO TIME! (A CLASSIC COMES AROUND) In 1996, Levant took the helm of what would be his biggest-budget film: Jingle All the Way. Now considered a perennial holiday classic, the initial response to the Arnold Schwarzenegger-led film was unexpectedly tepid. The film opened at No. 4 with a plot that mirrored the real-life Tickle Me Elmo craze of the year — parents going wacky in a hunt for the year’s hottest toy, the fictional Turbo Man. Of course, the film had merchandising of its own, with Tiger Electronics shipping Turbo Man action figures during the holiday season. “The reason I chose the movie initially is that I figured I’d get all the toys,” Levant says. “By the time we finished production, I had the original 24-inch Turbo Man from the parade scene, and it sat in a box in the garage for more than 20 years. The original sculpt from the Tiger toy was in my storage area in a box of literal office junk. I was so disappointed. When you throw yourself into your work for that amount of time and under so much pressure and visibility, it’s very draining. The response we got was a cold slap in the face, and that was the first time that had happened in my career. I was lucky, though — I was 20-something years into my career before that happened.” Over the years, the perception of Jingle All the Way has changed, with VHS and DVD releases followed by Blu-ray and streaming, along with seasonal showings on both TV and the big screen. “I am so appreciative of the response,” says Levant, who teaches screenwriting at universities on the West Coast. “Whenever I go on these campuses, the only thing that anyone ever asks me to sign is Jingle. People explain that they sit down with their families and they watch it together every Christmas. I’m genuinely touched.” The film’s growing popularity has, of course, spawned new collectibles, many of which are making their way into Levant’s hands — everything from high-end collector’s statues to enamel pins, T-shirts, and impressive fan art. As life imitates art, the original Tiger Toys Turbo Man is now a sought-after collectible that fetches hundreds of dollars, 22 | Issue No. 5 | THE POP INSIDER
Ad Icons: The General Mills Monsters. of "Monster Cereal" fame: Fruit Brute, Franken-Berry, Boo-Berry, and Count Chocula; Photo: Joe Pellegrini
but there are also prop makers who have taken it upon themselves to create highly articulated figures that have been created from scans of the original production props and upgraded with modern tech. THE ICONS OF ADVERTISING Funko has been expanding its collection of Ad Icons over the past few years, but Levant has many of the originals that predate the Pop! Vinyl craze. Colonel Sanders, Big Boy, Cap’n Crunch, Mr. Peanut, the General Mills Monsters, Tony the Tiger, and more vintage figures each occupy a dedicated space in his office. “As a kid, it was impossible to watch TV without being bombarded by the cereal commercials, and the way Kellogg’s would grab Wild Bill Hickok, Howdy Doody, and Superman, and later the Hanna-Barbera characters, to advertise,” he recalls. “It was an all-out assault, and at that time, it was Sugar Frosted Flakes, it was Sugar Pops — they literally pushed the sugar.” Other mascots in Levant’s collection include the Pep Boys, Speedy Alka Seltzer, Mr.
Bubble, Green Giant, and Charlie the Tuna, to name a few. THE PINNACLE PIECE Having a collection that spans decades and interests, could Levant possibly have a singular favorite toy or collectible? “When I finished The Flintstones, which was a 23-month process, I bought myself a very nice present,” he says. “A set of Marx Bros. dolls — in the boxes — from the film Love Happy. I have them mounted on my wall.” Currently, Levant is on the hunt for new Superman pieces, but not the standard fare. He’s looking for “ugly ones,” particularly the knockoffs and foreign pieces. He also made a stop at the biannual All-American Toy and Advertising Collectors Show in Glendale, California, where he picked up a vintage Superman lunchbox and Thermos, a Kix cereal Lone Ranger Six-Shooter Ring advertisement, and an original 7-inch vinyl single of The Beatles’ “I Saw Her Standing There” / “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.” No matter what your interest or fandom, Levant completely nails why things connect — and why we collect. “See, collecting is about passion,” he says. “It connects us to our shared past and personal memories. It highlights our interests, our tastes, and our obsessions. Collecting is a physical manifestation of our individuality.” Levant hopes to release My Life and Toys at some point late next year. ✪ Follow @brianlevant on Instagram.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: James Zahn, best-known as The Rock Father, is senior editor of the Toy Book, the Pop Insider, and the Toy Insider. He is a media personality, commentator, consultant, actor, adventurer, raconteur, and overall pop culture and toy enthusiast.
MARVELOUS On Aug. 31, 1939, Marvel Comics No. 1 landed on comic book shelves, introducing the world to the Marvel Universe for the first time. In the eight decades since, that comic book universe has become an integral thread in the fabric of pop culture, producing some of the most recognizable characters to ever fly, smash, crash, and save the day on page and on screen.
compiled by Madeleine Buckley, associate editor
Marvel COMICS No. 1000 Marvel Comics Marvel history and creativity collide like never before in this 89page comic book, which features the entire Marvel Universe of characters and art from 80 creative teams. Plus, it ﬁnally answers a mystery with origins in Marvel Comics No. 1.
MSRP: $9.99, Available: comic shops
Monopoly Marvel 80 Years Edition Hasbro Get ready to buy up famous Marvel covers and team leaders in this themed version of Monopoly. Who needs houses and hotels when you can buy issues and omnibuses?
MSRP: $49.99, Available: GAMESTOP
“For myself and almost every other comic book fan around the world, Marvel’s beloved comics and characters have been a part of our lives for as long as we can remember,” said Marvel editor-in-chief C.B. Cebulski in a public statement. “But it all started with the Human Torch.”
To commemorate 80 years of heroics and storytelling, many retailers have partnered with Marvel to create
anniversary-inspired merchandise. Check out some of our favorites! 24 | Issue No. 5 | THE POP INSIDER
Marvel 80th Funko Pop! Vinyl Figures Funko It’s #TBT for some of Marvel’s most iconic heroes and villains, including Iceman, Deadpool, and Wolverine. They’re getting new Funko Pop! ﬁgures, with designs inspired by their very ﬁrst comic book appearances.
MSRP: $10.99, Available: ENTERTAINMENT EARTH
Marvel’s Box of Super Heroes: The 80th Anniversary Notebook Set Marvel Entertainment/Clarkson Potter Notebooks, assemble! These eight blank, 47-page notebooks each feature one of Marvel’s iconic heroes: Captain America, Black Widow, Ms. Marvel, Black Panther, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Groot and Rocket, or Iron Man. The set comes in a keepsake slipcase.
MSRP: $20, Available: barnes & noble, amazon
Snag some limitededition merch to celebrate Marvel Comics’ anniversary.
IT Marvel’s 80th anniversary Backpack shopDisney
Marvel 80th-Anniversary Crate Loot Crate This box of limited-edition goodies comes straight to your front door, packed with at least ﬁve items — including apparel, housewares, and more — inspired by the Marvel Universe. You can also get your hands on an exclusive pin and jacket in the Marvel Legacy edition crate ($130).
MSRP: $80, Available: LOOTCRATE.COM
Marvel Select Sandman Collector’s Action Figure Diamond Select Toys This 7-inch ﬁgure features Flint Marko in his classic striped shirt, with swappable legs that change to a tower of sand for all of your super villain needs. It also features an interchangeable sand ﬁst, a claw, and spiked mace pieces.
MSRP: $29.99 Available: comic shops, specialty stores
Marvel Super Heroes Arcade Cabinet Arcade1Up Get ready to battle like it’s 1995 with this limited-edition cabinet, which features the Marvel Super Heroes ﬁghting game. Play as your favorite heroes, battle villains for Inﬁnity Gems, and try to save the universe from Thanos.
MSRP: Starting at $299, Available: ARCADE1UP.COM
Any FOOM (Friend of ‘ol Marvel) will want to get their hands on this backpack, which is decorated with small details that pay homage to the comic book powerhouse.
MSRP: $49.95 Available: shopdisney. com
limited-edition marvel 80th watch citizen Count down the minutes until the next Marvel release with this commemorative watch. Its numbers are styled with a comic book font, and the watch face background features logos from throughout Marvel history.
MSRP: $495 Available: citizenwatch.com
Marvel Block Logo Long Sleeve T-Shirt C-Life Marvel x Barbie Mattel Barbie gets even more super with three new dolls that pay tribute to X-Men characters Storm, Mystique, and Dark Phoenix. Each doll is painted to the character’s likeness, wears a stylish outﬁt inspired by the mutants, and features articulation for posing.
Wear your love for Marvel on your sleeve — literally! This long-sleeve T-shirt has Marvel Comics logos from throughout history on one sleeve and “since 1939” on the other.
MSRP: $24.99 Available: FYE
MSRP: $54.99 Each, Available: gamestop THEPOPINSIDER.COM | #FuelYourFandom | 25
FLAUNT YOUR FANDOM
MONSTERS ARE REAL HOT TOPIC
GHOULISH GLAMOUR MEHRON MAKEUP
Zombie-fy your makeup routine with Mehron Makeup’s Resident Evil 2 Zombie All-Pro Makeup Kit, featuring professional special FX products that are ideal for cosplay or Halloween looks. MSRP: $99.95 | Available: mehron.com
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark comes alive in Guillermo del Toro and André Øvredal’s ﬁlm adaption of the children’s book series that turned so many ‘90s kids into horror nerds. Bring your childhood nightmares to life with Hot Topic’s creepy collection of T-shirts, featuring terrifying images from the books and ﬁlm. MSRP: $22.90-26.90 | Available: Hot Topic
think we mean a pumpkin ky szn is in full eﬀect. And if you There are no bones about it — spoo , you are sorely mistaken. sure mea good few scary movies thrown in for It’s spice latte here and there and a with some devilish accessories. with monsters, and vamp it up Creep it real with shirts splashed . style unusual — Flaunt Your Fandom time to celebrate the strange and
ATTACK THE DARKNESS DEATH SAVES
Founded by Joe Manganiello and designer Damian Higgins, Death Saves caters to hardcore Dungeons & Dragons fans who grew up battling monsters and dodging witch hunts from people who said the game was evil and occult. The streetwear company puts the heavy metal feel back into the brand with hats, tops, accessories, and jewelry inspired by all things D&D. MSRP: $10-3,200 | Available: death-saves.com
26 | Issue No. 5 | THE POP INSIDER
IT’S JUST A BUNCH OF HOCUS POCUS LOUNGEFLY
This Hocus Pocus Spellbook Clutch Purse, from Loungeﬂy, will put a spell on you. Stash your black ﬂame candle and other spooky essentials in this Hocus Pocus-inspired clutch modeled after Winifred’s Manual of Witchcraft & Alchemy. It comes with a removable strap so you can transform it from a clutch into a crossbody bag, no magic required. MSRP: $65 | Available: shopdisney.com
WELCOME FOOLISH MORTALS ALEX AND ANI
Beware of hitchhiking ghosts. Disneyland’s original Haunted Mansion attraction ﬁrst opened to mortal guests in 1969. Celebrate 50 years of happy haunts with Alex and Ani’s Haunted Mansion bangles. The charm features a grim, grinning ghost on one side and a 50th-anniversary message on the back. MSRP: $49.99 | Available: shopdisney.com
THE MONSTER MASH! IT WAS A GRAVEYARD SMASH!
UNIQUE VINTAGE X UNIVERSAL STUDIOS MONSTERS
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esports and the Overwatch League are reinventing sports merch for the modern gamer. by Madeleine Buckley, associate editor ne of the most-watched sports in the U.S. isn’t one that’s played on a field — or even standing up. According to Activate’s 2017 “Consumer Tech & Media Research Study,” it’s the most-watched sport among viewers ages 18-34, with 62% of sports viewers tuning in. That sport is esports — in other words, competitive video gaming — and it has grown dramatically over the past few years, both in revenue and viewers. While video games and football seem to have little in common, the evolving esports landscape mirrors the patterns of major sports leagues like the NFL, especially with the addition of official esports leagues, tournaments, and championship events. One of the most-established leagues in esports is Activision Blizzard’s Overwatch League (OWL), which had its first official season last year. For those unacquainted with esports, the idea of watching other people play video games may seem unusual, but Daniel Siegel, head of esports licensing at Activision Blizzard, says that is far from the case. “What are the reasons that anybody wants to watch an NFL game? They want to
Overwatch League Atlanta Reign Third Jersey
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watch the best football players in the world play a game that they like to watch,” Siegel says. “In our case, we’ve raised a generation of fans playing and watching Overwatch, and so it shouldn’t surprise anybody that those fans want to watch the best in the world play. ... So to me, it should feel familiar, and it’s a very natural sort of human thing that we all want to watch the best do something that we love.” In fact, the OWL has plenty in common with traditional sports leagues. It’s made up of teams associated with different cities, and those teams go head to head in regularly scheduled games that fans can stream online or attend in person. The league has commentators, jerseys, star players, rivalries, a postseason with a major tournament — the Overwatch League Grand Finals, which took place last month in Philadelphia — and many other elements that fans will recognize from the NFL, NBA, and MLB. One unique part of the OWL, however, is its global scale. Of its 20 teams, nine are based in cities outside of the U.S. Next season, the teams will start traveling to each other for the first time (previous OWL matches have been held almost exclusively at Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California). Steve Young, president of Activision Blizzard Consumer Products Group, says this will hopefully increase fan engagement at a local level, benefiting both the league and the game as a whole.
“The reason a lot of those partners are interested in working with us is because we deliver such a different audience than what they have from traditional sports. ... It’s pretty incredible.” — Steve Young, president, Activision Blizzard Consumer Products Group “It feeds back into the core game franchise and then, of course, the game franchise feeds the esports experience,” he says. “And we think that the tide kind of can rise all those boats.” As the league continues to grow and expand, the OWL merch available for fans has evolved as well. As a brand, Overwatch partners with other companies, such as LEGO and Hasbro, for toys, games, and collectibles. But the league and its players present additional partnership opportunities that are more akin to traditional sports, such as trading cards and personalized jerseys.
However, the OWL sets itself apart with its younger age demographic. “The reason a lot of those partners are interested in working with us is because we deliver such a different audience than what they have from traditional sports,” Young says. “It grows the pie for partners like Fanatics, New Era, or all the rest. It’s pretty incredible.” Activision Blizzard officially partnered with Fanatics, the worldwide leader in licensed sports merchandise, for fan merch earlier this year. The OWL was the first esports league to partner with Fanatics, and Alex Dean, Fanatics’ general manager of esports and gaming, says the choice was deliberate. “Strategically, we were looking for the right partnership to enter this space,” he says. “And Overwatch League created, really, a traditional sports model — but in the esports landscape. It made a lot of sense and allowed us to use our best-in-class retail and operational execution that we do for our other league partners and align that very seamlessly with what the Overwatch League is building.” While some of the products are similar to what Fanatics offers for other sports, the OWL leverages fan feedback to produce merch that best fits its community. Some of the most popular OWL Fanatics products so far include the limited-edition Third Jerseys, which the teams designed in collaboration with Fanatics and sometimes wear for matches, and the Hometown Collection, which
Overwatch League Hometown Collection shirts
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New Incredibles 2 trailer shows off Jack-Jack’s developing powers as Elastigirl as an emerging hero.
New York Excelsior wins last year’s stage three finals in Burbank, California. Photo: Blizzard Entertainment
features artwork and apparel inspired by elements of the teams’ home cities. Siegel notes that the OWL fan base is especially diverse and that Activision Blizzard works closely with Fanatics and its other partners to be sure that is reflected in the merch. “It’s not the stereotypical gamer from 10, 15 years ago. We’re into fashion, we’re into culture, we’re into music. ... We’re into all these influences just like everybody else,” Siegel says. “We push [these partners] into a direction that says, ‘Hey, you’re not just talking to a 40-year-old NBA fan. You’re not talking to a 60-year-old MLB fan. You’re talking to someone who’s probably around 24 years old, maybe a little bit younger, and they look at the world differently.’ And so, we have to talk to them differently and then deliver different products that make them happy. Because at the end of the day, this is a happy business.” Young attributes the leagues’ wide appeal to the video game itself, which features a diverse group of 30 heroes to whom fans can relate. He says love for the game can get fans interested, but that the viewership expands as players share that love with others. “People are watching with their children, they’re watching with their partners, their friends,” he says. “And that does grow the audience opportunity for us, for our games. And then the games continue to grow, and that feeds the audience for esports.” Both Activision Blizzard and Fanatics agree the merch opportunities for OWL —
and all esports — will continue to grow. “There’s just potential everywhere,” Siegel says. “We’ve raised a whole generation of fans on consoles, and PCs, and mobile devices, and they’re influenced every day by what they see from their favorite teams and their favorite players who are playing their favorite games, which in this case is Overwatch.” Since partnering with the OWL, Fanatics started producing merch for the NBA2K League as well. Dean says that, with the right opportunities, the company will continue expanding in the space. Speaking to the growth and broad appeal of esports, Dean points to its accessibility as a major contributing factor. “Whether you’re almost any age or any athletic ability, you can, for the most part, sit down in front of a console or a PC and play the same games,” he says. “You can watch those players executing at a higher level, and you can honestly tell yourself, ‘If I were to practice hard enough and do it, I have all the tools in the tool bag to be a professional.’ There are a lot of sports where that hill to climb is a little bit harder. And I think that’s really appealing to a very broad base of fans, including myself.” ✪
Overwatch League Houston Outlaws Third Jersey
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Madeleine Buckley is an associate editor at Adventure Media and Events, where she contributes to The Pop Insider, The Toy Insider, and The Toy Book.
THEPOPINSIDER.COM | #FuelYourFandom | 31
JURASSIC RETAIL RUNDOWN WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM
GET SOME, GIVE BACK BoxLunch fights hunger with sales from its unique, fandom-inspired merch. by Madeleine Buckley, associate editor
f you Google “BoxLunch,” the slogan “Get Some, Give Back,” is one of the ﬁrst things you’ll see. It’s right at the top, next to the store’s name in the ﬁrst search result. Philanthropy may not be the ﬁrst thing you associate with geeky merch, but that is the entire foundation of the BoxLunch brand. Hot Topic launched BoxLunch back in 2015, offering gifts and other merchandise inspired by fandoms ranging from Harry Potter, Marvel, and Disney to classic TV shows, anime, cartoons, and video games. But having a positive social impact was part of the BoxLunch business model from day one, according to Robert Thomsen, vice president of merchandising and marketing at BoxLunch. “Looking to give back in a more dynamic way, we chose to forgo the traditional charitable model and instead we tried to integrate giving into the BoxLunch DNA,” he says. The company accomplished this by making a pledge: Every time a customer spends $10 at BoxLunch — in person or online — the store donates a meal to someone in need, thanks to a partnership with Feeding America. To date, the year-round #GetSomeGiveBack campaign has provided more than 50 million meals nationwide. Andy Wilson, chief development ofﬁcer at Feeding America, calls this a “truly amazing accomplishment [that] has made a difference for people in need across the country.” Feeding America has a network of more than 200 food banks, which BoxLunch’s brick-and-mortar locations work with on a local level. This April, for National Volunteer Month, Box Lunch employees spent time at 32 | Issue No. 5 | THE POP INSIDER
Feeding America food banks, sorting food and packing meal kits. According to Christopher Duran, brand marketing and PR specialist for BoxLunch, this speaks to the company’s purpose to inspire and innovate. “We believe that our customers share the philanthropic spirit our brand carries, as we would not have passed this milestone so quickly in the short four years we have existed [if they didn’t],” he says.
"The BoxLunch customer appreciates being offered more than just a tee from their favorite properties." — Christopher Duran, BoxLunch brand marketing and PR specialist Those core customers are primarily millennials and older adults. The store appeals to this speciﬁc demographic and sets itself apart from other pop culture retailers by dropping full collections that go beyond apparel. “The BoxLunch customer appreciates being offered more than just a tee from their favorite properties,” Duran says. These collections typically span a variety of categories, including apparel, accessories, home goods, pet products, and collectibles.
BoxLunch also keeps the preferences of its primary demographic in mind when choosing and designing products, aiming for what Duran calls an “elevated aesthetic.” “You’ll see designs that feature more subtle references to their licenses versus large graphics and loud color palettes,” he says. “We also lean into classic artwork for our designs, since we know our customer appreciates the retro look.” One example of this is the company’s new Maleﬁcent collection (pictured above). The included products are inspired by the character’s original, animated form, not Angelina Jolie’s live-action portrayal in the upcoming Maleﬁcent: Mistress of Evil. Looking even further into the future, BoxLunch also plans to round out its holiday offerings with an expanded selection of ugly sweaters, along with new collections inspired by Frozen 2 and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. BoxLunch itself continues to expand, as well. At the end of last year, there were 114 locations in the U.S., and by the end of this year, there will be more than 140 locations in 37 states. As it grows, BoxLunch plans to provide more communities not only with unique geeky goods, but also with support and action to end hunger. “The desire for the most innovative pop culture products and paying it forward has accelerated our growth beyond expectations,” Thomsen says. “We are just getting started as we explore more ways to make positive change.” ✪ For more ways to give back, check out page 64.
DC HEROES SOAR
into New Youth Imprints
Dora the Explorer's New Adventure What’s New in Kids’ Entertainment Playmobil Ventures to the Big Screen
Read more at thepopinsider.com
HASBRO ACQUIRES ENTERTAINMENT ONE IN $4 BILLION TRANSACTION PJ Masks, Peppa Pig, and Ricky Zoom have a new home in Rhode Island. Toymaker Hasbro will boost its entertainment production and distribution capabilities with the acquisition of Entertainment One (eOne), for approximately $4 billion. “The acquisition of eOne adds beloved, story-led, global family brands that deliver strong operating returns to Hasbro’s portfolio and provides a pipeline of new brand creation driven by family-oriented storytelling, which will now include Hasbro’s IP,” says Brian Goldner, Hasbro chairman and CEO. “... We are excited to welcome eOne’s talented employees from around the world into the Hasbro family.”
Hasbro will take control of eOne’s preschool brands, and the entertainment capabilities of eOne will provide Hasbro with the ability to develop its IP across TV, film, music, AR and VR, live shows, and more. Hasbro also acquired Bandai last year, taking over the Power Rangers brand, and manages its own well-known IPs including Transformers, My Little Pony, and more. The toy giant is well-poised to become a leader in children’s entertainment. ✪
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A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS LIVE ON STAGE RETURNS THIS HOLIDAY SEASON A Charlie Brown Christmas Live on Stage will tour North America this fall with two separate touring groups to reach more cities throughout November and December. Produced by Gershwin Entertainment, A Charlie Brown Christmas Live on Stage is “a fresh take on the timeless classic that gives the audience a completely new way of experiencing the story as portrayed by real actors who maintain the integrity and spirit of each Peanuts character.” The stage adaptation of Charles M. Schulz’ classic holiday tale is based on the TV special by Bill Melendez and Lee Mendelson, and is set to the famed score by Vince Guaraldi. The stage adaptation is by Eric Schaeffer with a special arrangement by Arthur Whitelaw and Ruby Persson. VIP tickets and the full North American tour schedule are available at acharliebrownchristmaslive.com ✪
WHAT YOUTUBE’S $170 MILLION FTC SETTLEMENT MEANS FOR THE FUTURE OF KIDS’ CONTENT Last month, Google’s YouTube division came to a $170 million settlement agreement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over allegations that it violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA) regarding kids’ content and consumption on its platforms. Although YouTube claims that its primary platform is designed for users ages 13 and up, it has become the most widely used platform for young audiences. Safety and privacy concerns have surfaced regularly in recent years, which led to constant revamp in policies geared toward content creators, including the development, launch, and subsequent revamp of the YouTube Kids app and website. Despite this, the FTC believes that COPPA violations took place regarding how YouTube handled data for users younger than the age of 13, and how it tracked and served them targeted advertising. In an email sent to creators, YouTube announced sweeping changes, including requiring creators to self-identify content geared toward kids, and the introduction of an internal AI that will identify videos that target young audiences, such as kids’ characters, themes, toys, or games. Although this is a U.S. law, the company is making changes to its practices globally. Beginning on Jan. 1, all data collected on videos deemed to be kids’ content will be treated as if it’s coming from a user younger than the age of 13 regardless of the viewer’s age. Comments and notifications will be turned off on much of the content. Above all, YouTube still recommends that kids younger than the age of 13 use the YouTube Kids app. ✪
Stay up to date with the latest toy news, reviews, giveaways, and more! @thetoyinsider
POP JUNIOR: FANDOM FEATURE
it’s going to be
Playmobil: The Movie promises an animated adventure with the famed toy brand. by Maddie Michalik, senior editor
ormally, 2-inch tall, plastic, claw-handed figures would be found in kids’ hands, their fingers curled up around them as they dream up their next story; displayed in various themed play sets; or stored inside toy boxes worldwide. This year, they’re taking on the big screen. Playmobil: The Movie, produced by On Animation Studios and the beginning of a trilogy planned for the iconic brand, is set to debut in theaters in the U.S. on Dec. 6. This cinematic experience — filled with original songs, an all-star cast, action-packed moments, and lots of jokes — furthers Playmobil’s expansion into animated entertainment. In this action-adventure movie, Playmobil toys are at the center of a crisis in which citizens from different lands vanish into thin air. Secret agent Rex Dasher (Daniel Radcliffe) partners with smooth-talking food truck driver Del (Jim Gaffigan) and Marla (Anya Taylor-Joy), a smart, savvy civilian with her own secret agenda, to rescue these citizens. It turns out that Marla’s younger brother
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Charlie (Gabriel Bateman) was one of the Playmobil figures to unexpectedly disappear. It’s up to his older sister to bring him home, as the trio goes on a journey across new Playmobil worlds to gather clues for their rescue mission. “One of the big ideas in this is, ... wouldn’t it be fun if you literally turned into your childhood toy? In order for you to get back through the portal, you had to think like you did when you were a child,” says Lino DiSalvo, producer and director at On Animation Studios. “Everyone can relate to that. Let’s not do just some kind of cross-dissolve, like watching a kid play with a toy and then cross-dissolving to animation. Let’s literally do Tom Hanks in Big. Let’s literally have this magical event happen, and let’s turn these characters into toys and see what happens. Everyone loved the idea because they haven’t seen that before.” DiSalvo, formerly at Disney and head of animation for Frozen, made his directorial debut with Playmobil: The Movie. Naturally, bringing an existing property to life is
difficult in itself, but the real challenge was in approaching the movie differently from other films, such as The LEGO Movie. While LEGO products are based on construction, Playmobil focuses more on a role-playing and storytelling experience. “Part of why I love my job is doing research, and one of the things I found was when you buy a Playmobil box, you’re basically buying a genre, and the really cool thing as well is that they don’t tell you who the hero in the box is,” DiSalvo says. “... I think the reason why my children love these toys is they roleplay with [them], and they make different people the hero. That’s a cool, genuine thing, and there’s a truth in that toy. I tried to make the movie reflect that: where a girl needs to go and become the hero that she used to be.” And the audience goes on that journey. Viewers will be transported into a number of magical Playmobil toy lands, such as Rattler’s Gulch, Fairytale Land, Constantinopolis, and Western World. This genre-jumping style ended up being the comedic template for
Marla (Anya Taylor-Joy) bolts toward Charlie (Gabriel Bateman) after he is captured.
Playmobil: The Movie Del’s Food Truck
Playmobil: The Movie Rex Dasher with Parachute
the movie, with caricatured tropes for those genres. So, Radcliffe’s Rex Dasher acts very much like Roger Moore from the James Bond ﬁlms, and the way the characters behave and the spontaneity of a musical number are undeniably at the root of Fairytale Land. To represent these genres accurately, DiSalvo and his team unboxed — literally — every Playmobil toy ever made. The company’s headquarters in Germany sent two pallets’ worth of toys (that’s approximately enough toys to stand twice as tall as the Hollywood Sign) to Los Angeles, which served as an inspiration to many of the characters in the movie. The toys, such as a food truck and a ﬁgure wearing a Hawaiian shirt,
sparked ideas, like the protagonist teaming up with Del because nobody knows routes better than a food truck guy. Also, as part of his research, DiSalvo met with more than 200 Playmobil fans worldwide to get their take on how this toy brand is different from others. “There were some Playmobil fans that literally got emotional telling me about how they used to play with their parents and how it was the ﬁrst time they started inventing a story,” DiSalvo says. “… I could have made a movie that probably would have checked more boxes in regards to a general audience, but I took this gig to honor the toy and to make the movie for Playmobil fans.” But one of the ideas DiSalvo is most proud of is that Playmobil: The Movie unapologetically focuses on kids as its audience. The movie embraces the messaging of siblings coming together and the importance of family, but it also avoids cynical themes and rapid-ﬁre, snarky jokes that kids won’t understand. And, of course, kids can take home the colorful universe from Playmobil: The Movie. “The designs for each ﬁgure are directly
Red vikings chanting Charlie’s name after the end of the battle.
based on how they appear in the movie,” says Peter Jaensch, head of development at Playmobil. “The movie’s modern style of animation allows for plenty of entertainment value on screen — for example, by utilizing very individual facial expressions — and at the same time creates a close link to the original toy ﬁgures. Of course, we want to attract new audiences and fans as well. At the heart of the story is a journey through different Playmobil-themed worlds. There is a clear message: Playmobil has something for everyone.” In addition to ﬁgure mystery packs, various play sets featuring memorable scenes from the animated ﬁlm, such as Del’s Food Truck, Emperor Maximus in the Colosseum, and Rex Dasher’s Porche Mission E, will also be available. Kids can act out their favorite scenes from the movie or take the new characters on their own imaginative journeys. “The key to success has always been good stories,” Jaensch says. “Our play themes offer unique characters, exciting adventures, conﬂicts, and solutions — always involving values such as friendship, solidarity, tolerance, and courage.” As for the future of Playmobil content, Playmobil: The Movie is only the beginning. Fans can look out for additional videos on the brand’s YouTube channel and Playmobil’s ﬁrst major TV series inspired by knights, called Novelmore, which will premiere next fall. ✪
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Maddie Michalik is the senior editor at the Pop Insider and the Toy Insider, where she fuels her geeky heart with the latest in pop culture, entertainment, and the coolest products. She is also the managing editor of the Toy Book, making sure the toy industry is up to date on the latest toy and entertainment news.
THEPOPINSIDER.COM | #FuelYourFandom | 37
POP JUNIOR: POP PICKS HASBRO THE EONE POWER TRIO Hasbro’s surprise acquisition of Entertainment One (eOne) brings PJ Masks, Peppa Pig, and Ricky Zoom into the same family as the Transformers, My Little Pony, and G.I. Joe. Ricky Zoom got off to a big start on Nick Jr. this fall, and the story of the bright red motorcycle and his adventurous friends — Scootio, Loop, and DJ — is expected to become one of the hottest kids’ properties in the year ahead. Next summer, kids can look forward to new adventures with Peppa, George, Mummy Pig, and Daddy Pig on Nick Jr., while the PJ Masks are suiting up for their fourth season on Disney Junior. The next batch of superhero adventures with Catboy, Gekko, and Owlette will kick off with a four-part special.
NEW YEAR, NEW FANDOMS A Look at What’s Ahead for Kids’ Animated Entertainment by James Zahn, senior editor In an age of nearly unlimited choices between traditional TV, streaming services, and over-the-top options, there’s never been such a diverse array of family content available. Every kid’s path to fandom starts somewhere, and the next year is shaping up to be an incredible one, with new worlds to explore, new characters to meet, and new adventures to have with some old friends. Read on for some highlights of what kids will be watching in the year ahead.
SPIN MASTER ENTERTAINMENT/ SKYBOUND ENTERTAINMENT SUPER DINOSAUR Based on Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead) and Jason Howard’s (Trees) Skybound/Image comic book of the same name, Super Dinosaur follows 10-year-old genius Derek Dynamo and his T. rex best friend Super Dinosaur as they protect the planet against evil. The series is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video in the U.S. Super Dinosaur is supported by a full range of toys from Spin Master that are available exclusively at Amazon in the U.S. and at Toys “R” Us Canada.
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NICKELODEON/CBS TELEVISION STAR TREK ANIMATED SERIES Emmy Award-winning duo Kevin and Dan Hageman (Trollhunters, LEGO Ninjago) will launch a new animated Star Trek series that will focus on “a group of lawless teens who discover a derelict Starﬂeet ship and use it to search for adventure, meaning, and salvation.” Unlike the original Star Trek: The Animated Series, which aired from 1973-74 on NBC prior to recently ﬁnding a new audience on Netﬂix, the new series will not follow the original crew of the Enterprise. No word yet on a release date.
MARVEL ANIMATION & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT MARVEL’S MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR From producers Laurence Fishburne (Ant Man & The Wasp) and Helen Sugland’s (black-ish) Cinema Gypsy Productions, and Emmy Award-winner Steve Loter (Kim Possible), this is the tale of a 13-year-old super-genius named Lunella Lafayette and her 10ton T. rex Devil Dinosaur. After Lunella opens a time vortex that transports Devil Dinosaur to present-day NYC, the pair teams up to protect the Lower East Side. The series will debut next fall on Disney Channel.
NICKELODEON BABY SHARK Doo, Doo, Doo, Doo, Doo, Doo! Next year, Mommy, Daddy, and Baby Shark are swimming to Nick Jr. in an all-new preschool musical series that brings Pinkfong’s global viral hit to life in new ways, and with many new songs that kids can dance to.
POP JUNIOR: FANDOM FEATURE
”Themes of inclusivity and friendship are exactly what this world needs to see right now. Plus, a healthy dose of a diverse, strong young woman as the lead.” -Kristin Burr, producer
, n O e Com
! s o n a m á V Dora the Explorer grows up and faces new adventures in Dora and the Lost City of Gold.
by Ali Mierzejewski, editor-in-chief Isabela Moner stars as Dora in Dora and the Lost City of Gold from Paramount Pictures, Paramount Players, and Nickelodeon Movies.
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ou’d recognize her short bob haircut, bangs, pink T-shirt, and orange shorts anywhere. For 19 years, preschoolers have been tuning into Nick Jr. to learn about adventure, inclusivity, and diversity from Dora and her friends. When the Dora the Explorer series debuted in 2000, kids immediately fell in love with the spunky, brave, and smart lead character. Kids felt like Dora was talking directly to them, as the animated preschooler often broke the fourth wall and asked the audience questions, pausing for them to answer. It’s been almost two decades since Dora’s preschool TV series debuted, and she’s back in a new way — a feature ﬁlm that combines live-action and CGI animation. Dora and the Lost City of Gold shows us a teenage Dora, who may look older, but has not lost her passion for exploring. With a PG rating that suggests the movie is intended for audiences older than those who watched the animated series, this movie’s goal is to connect audiences of all ages, and it couldn’t come at a more perfect time. “Themes of inclusivity and friendship are exactly what this world needs to see right now,” says Kristin Burr, one of the ﬁlm’s producers. “Plus, a healthy dose of a diverse, strong young woman as the lead.” And Dora is that perfect lead. “She’s still the same person she was as a young girl,” Burr adds. “She’s sweet, full of wonder, eager to learn about everything she comes in contact with. She is the smartest person in the room and unapologetic for who she is. She’s worked to understand the jungle all her life, and now must navigate a whole new world: friendship with kids her own age. But she ﬁnds a way because of her positive spirit and generous nature. She’s a great character all audiences can get behind and appreciate.” The movie features allusions to the original series — Dora’s iconic outﬁt, quips about her breaking the fourth wall, etc. — however, this Dora is not the Dora who we grew up with. In Dora and the Lost City of Gold, she ﬁnds herself on what might be her most dangerous adventure yet: high school. As her cousin Diego puts it — de-
livered in the most relatable way in basically one breath by actor Jeffrey Wahlberg, “Dora, this isn’t the jungle. It’s high school; it’s life or death. So, if I don’t talk to you, don’t take it personal, OK? We’re all just trying to survive. High school’s a terrible nightmare.” Unfortunately for our expedition-loving heroine, in order to go to high school, she must miss exploring an ancient city made of gold with her parents, hilariously portrayed by Eva Longoria and Michael Peña. However, circumstances lead Dora to her wish of a true adventure, as she guides her trusty friend Boots (Danny Trejo), Diego, a jungle inhabitant named Alejandro (Eugenio Derbez), and a group of new teenage friends on an adventure to save her parents. Of course, they run into familiar characters, like Swiper (Benecio del Toro), along the way. Directed by James Bobin, the movie’s strong cast gives it the vibe of light-hearted fun and spirited adventure that Dora is known for. Plus, much like the original Dora series did when it debuted, it puts diversity and inclusivity at the forefront. “It was important to ﬁnd Latinx actors, as Dora was an iconic Latinx character for young generations,” Burr says. “We were fortunate to have an incredible cast for this movie that brought so much humor and fun to the characters.” And those themes of inclusivity and friendship don’t stop at the big screen. Just Play brings the movie to life with toys and products that embody Dora’s adventurous spirit. Just like in the movie, Just Play’s Dora and the Lost City of Gold fashion doll incorporates elements from our teenaged hero, in addition to elements of the animated Dora of Nick Jr. fame. To capture her adventurous spirit, the doll is fully articulated so that fans of all ages can play with and display her in different action poses. She comes dressed in her iconic outfit and includes her infamous backpack and her sidekick Boots. In addition to the fashion doll, Just Play’s line also includes movie-inspired Boots and Swiper plush toys for kids to take along with them on all of their adventures. Whether you grew up with Dora or this is your first expedition, Dora and the Lost City of Gold will teach you the importance of sticking together and chasing adventure. Because after all, together, anything is possible. ✪
POP JUNIOR: FANDOM FEATURE
DC Youth imprints stomp onto the scene by Sierra McCleary-Harris, senior editor
hen someone says “DC Entertainment,” your brain probably conjures thoughts of Superman and Wonder Woman, big-budget Blockbuster films and classic TV cartoons, or maybe even Robert Pattinson’s upcoming turn in the Batsuit. Whatever your mental list, middle-grade (MG) and young adult (YA) graphic novels are likely not at the top of it — but they should be. Last year, DC unveiled two new graphic novel publishing imprints: DC Zoom for MG readers and DC Ink for YA readers. The MG novels are geared toward readers ages 8-12 and are centered on friends, family, and growing up, while the YA novels aim a little higher to readers ages 13 and up and focus on everyday aspirations, struggles, and triumphs. Although superheroes never go out of style, DC’s new focus on the MG/YA publishing space begs the question: Why now?
“Superhero stories have exploded in popularity — we’ve seen the excitement everywhere, [on] billboards, on TV, in costumes and toys, in games, and at theme parks,” says Michele Wells, DC’s vice president and executive editor of Books for Young Readers. “This, combined with interest from parents, educators, and librarians for stories that entertain and empower while teaching visual literacy, makes this the perfect time for DC to publish content for middle-grade [and YA] readers.” “Sales for graphic novels and books for younger audiences also continue to grow, so making DC’s iconic characters accessible to young readers through thrilling, intimate, and relatable coming-of-age stories is an important part of DC’s publishing strategy,” Wells adds. The first titles were released in the fall, and this summer, during a Book Buzz panel at the American Library Association’s (ALA) annual convention in Washington, D.C., the company shared its plans to expand the program. The new stories feature classic DC characters and superheroes reimagined for
a younger audience. While the names may be familiar, the stories — and even the faces — are new. “To tap into this younger audience, DC is partnering with bestselling authors of middle-grade books and artists with unique styles to tell original, standalone stories that reimagine DC’s popular characters and make them accessible to readers who have never picked up a comic or are unfamiliar with superheroes,” Wells says. Some of the authors and illustrators include Meg Cabot, Shannon and Dean Hale, Amy Wolfram, Kirk Scroggs, Ridley Pearson, Mariko Tamaki, and more, many of whom are new to graphic novels, DC, or both. Take veteran author Ridley Pearson, for example. Super Sons: The Polarshield Project, published in April as the first novel in a new Super Sons trilogy, was his first graphic novel. The second title, Super Sons: The Foxglove Mission, hits shelves later this month. “The fun thing with DC, and really one of the things that attracted me to the offer, was that I’m working with two editors and an illustrator, so there are four of us at any one time trying to make a single piece of coherent fiction,” Pearson says. “Sometimes we agree, and sometimes we don’t. And it’s just as much fun when you don’t as when you do because it builds a better ship. That partnership — that collaboration — is surprising and exciting and fluid.” Similarly, Meg Cabot, author of the
"You don't need to have a superhuman voice. You can just use your regular voice and speak up when you see injustice, and that's what she's learning to do.” — Meg Cabot, author, Black Canary: Ignite 42 | Issue No. 5 | THE POP INSIDER
Interior panels from Black Canary: Ignite, The Secret Spiral of Swamp Kid, and Super Sons: The Foxglove Mission. Artwork: DC
famed Princess Diaries series and countless other YA and adult novels, also took the graphic novel plunge with DC, penning the new Black Canary: Ignite. “Well, this is obviously a completely different process than writing a book; … it’s more like writing a screenplay,” Cabot says. “But you’re also writing, you’re describing, every single panel, which I did not know when I first started doing it, that that’s how these are written — that the writer actually tells the artist exactly what to draw and lays out the entire scene of the book. I was a little in shock.” On top of this fresh blood particularly lending itself to reimagining the tried-andtrue storylines, there’s the added bonus that it also helps make these novels super accessible to fans new to the DC Universe (DCU). “DC was excited to reboot the Super Sons,” Pearson says. “The Super Sons have a really successful comic book line, and we didn’t want to wade into those waters and be anything like that because the author/ illustrator of that is doing gangbusters well and he has such a cool world he’s built, but at the same time, we wanted to reach younger readers. We knew we needed to do something markedly different.” While a fresh look certainly helped Cabot and Pearson bring the Super Sons and Black Canary to life for younger audiences, sometimes a lifelong fan has the perfect touch to breathe new life into a classic. Kirk Scroggs, author and illustrator of The Secret Spiral of Swamp Kid, which was released at the beginning of the month, has been a fan of Swamp Thing — and its illustrator, Berni Wrightson
— since he was a kid. “When I found out that he had drawn the original Swamp Thing, I was definitely on board as a young kid,” Scroggs says. “So I wanted to kind of take it, and I thought it would be fun to turn Swamp Thing into sort of an Obi-Wan [Kenobi] type character, where he’s like a mentor — still a little spooky, but a good guy at heart, which he always was.” The new MG and YA graphic novels are a bit more educational than those written for general audiences, and they deal with issues of interest to younger readers, with the authors taking special care to create relatable, teachable content without being preachy. “Not simply comics for all ages, which are generally considered appropriate for readers across the board, the content of these graphic novels … is evaluated from an educational perspective and leveled to ensure the stories we’re telling and the issues addressed are perfectly appropriate to these readers,” Wells says. Issues vary from timeless ones, such as friendship and acceptance, to more current, targeted ones, such as climate change and sexism. “Ultimately, I wanted to make sure it was like a fun comic book adventure,” Scroggs says. “I’m writing for DC, I want this to be a comic book that’s gonna be action, intrigue, scares, meet some giant monsters, but it definitely tries to weave into the story the nice little story about acceptance and about friendship and about being comfortable in your own skin.”
While Black Canary: Ignite definitely embraces those same adolescent issues, Cabot infuses a call to action, too. “I think one of the great things about her is that she’s a hero, not necessarily because she has super strength, but because she has a voice that she uses, and that’s something I think we really need right now in the world is using your voice to speak out against evil,” Cabot says. “You don’t need to have a superhuman voice. You can just use your regular voice and speak up when you see injustice, and that’s what she’s learning to do.” Not only do the graphic novels feature messaging and storylines geared toward younger readers, but DC has also made sure they’re accessible in other ways, too. The novels feature fonts specifically chosen to be easier to read for struggling readers, the layouts are designed so that readers just starting out with graphic novels can digest them easily, and the stories themselves challenge advanced readers to expand their vocabulary with language supported by visual context clues. Coming up this fall, DC will release a veritable slew of graphic novels under both imprints — including new stories about the Justice League, Swamp Thing, Green Lantern, Harley Quinn, Batman, Wonder Woman, and more — with more than a dozen other titles slated to hit shelves between now and 2021. At press time, DC was planning two NYCC panels to promote its MG and YA graphic novels. Visit dccomics.com/news for more info. ✪ THEPOPINSIDER.COM | #FuelYourFandom | 43
CRYPTOZOIC ENTERTAINMENT PUTS FANS FIRST Cryptozoic keeps fans coming back for more with games, trading cards, and collectibles. by Jackie Cucco, senior editor
ans first.” That’s the slogan at Cryptozoic Entertainment — the maker of games, trading cards, and collectibles based on some of your favorite fandoms — and we couldn’t agree more. Whether you’re a comic book fiend, a Walking Dead devotee, or an Outlander binge-watcher, Cryptozoic is tapping into the passions of fans and collectors far and wide to create the content that consumers want. It all started with World of Warcraft (WoW), the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) from Blizzard Entertainment. The year was 2010, and Cryptozoic had an exclusive deal to make a WoW Trading Card Game. That was Cryptozoic’s very first product, which held a special place in the hearts of WoW fans, who are a dedicated bunch. At the time, WoW held the Guinness World Record for the most popular MMORPG game in the world, with 10 million subscribers. Some could say that Cryptozoic played its cards right because what started as a trading card game company branched out into geeky games. “Very early on, we got access to some excellent IPs, such as The Walking Dead, DC Comics through Warner Bros.’ Smallville, and some popular fandoms,” says Amanda Barker, associate product manager at Cryptozoic. ”One of our big hits early on was the DC Deck-Building Game. That has been one of our most popular products. Still to this day, I sell copies of the original DC Deck-Building Game.” As much as Cryptozoic invests in its fans, the fans show the love right back. The company tapped into its fanbase in the past to help bring some of its creative projects to life with four different Kickstarter projects to fund games based on Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters II, The Walking Dead, and an original intellectual property called Cult. “As far as our Kickstarters go, we started with Ghostbusters in early 2015. That was one of the biggest Kickstarters that we’ve ever done,” Barker says. “The original one was in the top-five, highest-grossing games on Kickstarter at the time. That has definitely been a really cool feather in our cap to have.” Ghostbusters: The Board Game garnered 8,396 backers, who pledged more than $1.5 million to help fund the game in 30 days. It’s an episodic adventure game for one to four players who are tasked with busting ghosts and sealing gates to the Spirit World. The game is customizable, cooperative, and highly replayable — so replayable that fans are still passionate about it four years after the Kickstarter. “We still have reviewers covering that game simply because they enjoy it,” Barker says. It features unique illustrations and figures based on original artwork and designs by Dan
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Wonder Woman Movie Collectible Golden Goddess
MERCH MAKERS Schoening, the artist of IDW Publishing’s Ghostbusters comic book series. Barker says that The Walking Dead: No Sanctuary game was also very successful on Kickstarter. The game redefines the survival horror genre with gameplay that mimics the group dynamics from the AMC series. One player takes on the reins of leadership, and the other players decide whether or not to support his or her choices. Fans can play as detailed, miniature versions of their favorite characters from the first season of the show: Rick Grimes, Daryl and Merle Dixon, Glenn, Andrea, Shane, and Theodore “T-Dog” Douglas. “They’re a labor of love. It takes a lot of work to go into the Kickstarters, but we always want to make sure we can make the best game possible,” Barker says. “The Kickstarters allow us to do a lot of fun things that we wouldn’t be able to do otherwise — the stretch goals, miniatures, game upgrades, and things like that.” Cryptozoic now has a growing alphabet full of games to spice up any game night, including adventure games, board games, card games, dice and deck-building games, and episodic games. “I think DC Comics is one of our biggest brands that we love to embrace,” Barker says. “I’ve seen great feedback on our DC Deck-Builders. The DC fans are definitely very active and important to us. Also, Rick and Morty is a long-time fandom that we continue to embrace. We got in pretty early as far as the wave of popularity ... and we’re able to make some exciting games for the Rick and Morty fandom.” In addition to its evergreen products, fans can also catch Cryptozoic on the convention circuit, where its exclu-
The Joker Calling Card
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sives have struck a chord with collectors. Cryptozoic’s collectibles first launched in 2016, and the Golden Goddess DC Bombshells vinyl figures made their debut the following year at Comic-Con International: San Diego (SDCC). Cryptozoic’s other SDCC exclusives that year included the Metallic Red 25th Anniversary Harley Quinn, Lil Bombshells vinyl figures, DC’s the Joker Calling Card Statue — “Bloody Noir” Edition, and Orphan Black Trading Cards Season 2 and Season 3 Premium Packs. “We sold out; the lines went around the booth, and we had to get line management to handle. Seeing people run to the booth is incredible and exciting. The feedback was really great,” Barker says. “A lot of the exclusives, like the Golden Goddesses for example, were so popular that we turned it into a line.” The Golden Goddesses were originally just a one-shot idea, but Barker says they turned into a comic con tradition — and an entire line — thanks to the fan frenzy. Fans can keep their eyes peeled for an exclusive Wonder Woman Movie Collectible Golden Goddess at this year’s New York Comic Con (NYCC). “That one’s pretty special because Wonder Con has had a Golden Goddess, and SDCC has had Golden Goddesses, but New York Comic Con has not had one yet.” In addition to the comic con exclusives, one of Cryptozoic’s most exciting new releases this year is the 14-inch Wonder Woman: Princess of Themyscira statue, a depiction of Wonder Woman as a classical Greek statue. “She’s actually based off the Venus de Milo, but given the nods of Wonder Woman with her tiara, her golden lasso, and her shield, with Wonder Woman’s epitaph written around the rim of it. It’s a lot of throwbacks
to Greek mythology and Wonder Woman’s origins,” Barker says. As for that “fans first” slogan, it actually holds two meanings. “The fans come first, but we’re also fans first ourselves,” Barker says. “When we approach items, such as games or trading cards or collectibles, we actually go around the office and ask, ‘Oh, are you a fan of this show? How does this look?’ And involving fans becomes a really important part of the development process.” Barker says that when the Cryptozoic team is crafting its episodic games, such as the Rick and Morty games, it tries to make sure the gameplay fits the episode as much as humanly possible so it can feel as if fans are playing as part of the episode. When they make new collectibles, they try to offer niche things that people don’t usually see, such as their resin hand statues. The Joker Calling Card is a statue of the Joker’s glove holding a playing card, zoning in on the imagery that makes him so recognizable rather than an obvious, full-body figurine. “It’s kind of like a creative, different interpretation of the Joker. It’s just his hand, but yet you know who that is, and it’s an interesting representation of the character,” Barker says. “We handle a lot of licenses that people have seen a lot of times, but we try to always bring something fresh and new to the table with whatever it is that we do.” ✪
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jackie Cucco is a senior editor at Adventure Media & Events. She writes for the Pop Insider, the Toy Book, and the Toy Insider, and is in charge of all things Instagram. When she’s not watching horror movies, you can ﬁnd her playing paparazzi for her pet bunny, Peepers (@thebigpeep on Instagram).
HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE
WHAT DO YOU GET THE GEEK WHO’S GOT IT ALL? THE POP INSIDER’S POP 20 FEATURES THE PERFECT GIFTS FOR THE BIGGEST FANS IN YOUR LIFE. WHETHER YOUR LOVED ONES STAN SUPERHEROES, SITH LORDS, OR BOTH, WE’VE GOT YOUR SHOPPING LIST RIGHT HERE!
STAR WARS HOME ARCADE GAME ARCADE1UP
Featuring the original machine’s artwork, this 5-foot arcade cabinet includes a light-up marquee; a full-color, 17-inch display; dual speakers; real-feel flight yoke and control buttons; a riser; and the original arcade versions of the classic games based on the original Star Wars trilogy. MSRP: $499 Available: GameStop, Walmart
NINTENDO SWITCH LITE NINTENDO
While the Nintendo Switch can play games on TV or on the go, this compact, lightweight gaming system is a handheld-only version. It can play all Switch games that are compatible with handheld mode, including those with online play. MSRP: $199.99 | Available: mass retailers
MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES AVENGERS ELECTRONIC POWER GAUNTLET HASBRO
POLAROID ORIGINALS ONESTEP 2 VF — STRANGER THINGS EDITION POLAROID
Take selfies the old-school way with this limited-edition, instant-film camera. Features a built-in flash and a rechargeable battery that lasts up to 60 days per charge. Pro tip: Although it’s inspired by the “upside down,” make sure you snap pics with the camera right side up. Pairs well with the special-edition Stranger Things film (sold separately). MSRP: $109.99 | Available: Amazon, Best Buy Cover: Mitchel Wu Toy Photography | www.mitchelwutoyphotography.com
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The intricately detailed design of this electronically articulated Power Gauntlet is inspired by Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame. With pulsating, light-up Infinity Stones and sound effects, it can be locked in fist mode for a powerful display. MSRP: $99.99 Available: mass retailers
MY HERO ACADEMIA DEKU FULL COWL GLOW-IN-THEDARK POP! VINYL FIGURE FUNKO
1:24 STRANGER THINGS HOPPER’S BLAZER WITH POLICE BADGE JADA TOYS
Do you know Deku? You should. This exclusive Pop! vinyl figure of My Hero Academia’s Deku is ready for battle in full-cowl mode, and it glows in the dark.
Make your escape from the Upside Down with the Stranger Things 1980 Chevy K5 Blazer. This collectible features styling cues directly from the Stranger Things series, and includes a replica of Hopper’s police badge.
MSRP: $13.99 Available: Entertainment Earth
MSRP: $24.99 Available: Amazon, Target
HARRY POTTER INVISIBILITY CLOAK
NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS JACK SKELLINGTON & ZERO CHARACTER PUPPETS
Looking to sneak around Hogwarts without being seen? Appear to disappear with Harry’s invisibility cloak. Features a detailed pattern on one side and a green, silk-style interior that pairs with an app to make wearers look invisible. MSRP: $69.99 | Available: mass retailers
The Pumpkin King and his ghost dog come to life with your help. Jack is a 6-foot-tall puppet, while Zero is about 30-inches long, and each features multiple points of mobility. MSRP: $159.99 (Jack), $53.99 (Zero) Available: folkmanis.com
LEGO HARRY POTTER ADVENT CALENDAR LEGO
Celebrate the holidays in the Wizarding World. Behind each of the 24 doors is a different LEGO Harry Potter gift, from the Hogwarts Express to a Wizard Chess set. Includes seven minifigures, such as Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Dumbledore. MSRP: $39.99 | Available: mass retailers
DISNEY VILLAINOUS: WICKED TO THE CORE & EVIL COMES PREPARED RAVENSBURGER
Iconic Disney Villains reign supreme in these follow-up titles to Disney Villainous. Players can combine them with the original game or play them on their own. MSRP: $24.99 (each) Available: mass retailers
These themed games combine strategy with Pop! vinyl figures. Players go head to head as their favorite characters in exciting scenarios at memorable locations from DC, Harry Potter, Rick and Morty, and more. MSRP: $39.99 (each) | Available: mass retailers
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HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE
STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES HYPERREAL EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK 8-INCH DARTH VADER FIGURE HASBRO
BATMAN BLACK & WHITE MINI 7-PIECE BOX SET: WAVE 4 DC COLLECTIBLES
Iconic favorites from DC Collectibles’ Batman Black & White line are back at 3.75 inches tall. The set features seven figures, including Batman interpretations from Jae Lee, Brian Bolland, Chris Uminga, and more. MSRP: $40 Available: Amazon, Entertainment Earth
V, this Inspired by Star Wars: Episode V figure of the iconic villain features detailed fabric costuming, an interior skeletal structure with seamless joints, and hyper-articulation for realistic posing. Includes eight accessories and a figure stand. MSRP: $79.99 Available: mass retailers
VOICE-ACTIVATED BATMOBILE MIMOPOWERDECK MIMOCO
Level up with these Nintendo-inspired power banks, which provide four full smartphone charges. Choose from a classic NES controller, Legend of Zelda, or Super Mario Bros. designs. MSRP: $24.99 | Available: mimoco.com
Goodbye, Siri — hello, Batmobile! This voice-activated personal assistant is a highly stylized die-cast replica of the Batmobile that connects to your Google Home or Apple Siri via Bluetooth, and answers you in an Alfred-inspired British accent. MSRP: $79.99 Available: Best Buy, GameStop
JUMANJI PROP REPLICA
THE NOBLE COLLECTION This beautifully crafted prop replica of the Jumanji game is for those who seek to find a way to leave their world behind. Features finely detailed sculpts and full graphic artwork inside. MSRP: $145 Available: The Noble Collection
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FRIENDS X ALEX AND ANI ALEX AND ANI
Your favorite episodes are now your favorite accessories. Friends fans can choose from a variety of bracelets featuring iconic symbols and memorable quotes from the show, including “How you doin’?” and “You’re my lobster.” MSRP: $39-49 | Available: alexandani.com
THE AVENGERS ASSEMBLED COMPLETE 4-MOVIE COLLECTION STEELBOOK
All four Avengers films in 4K Ultra HD come complete in a limited-edition steel library case. Also includes a special, personal letter from Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige as he reflects on more than a decade of storytelling. MSRP: $149.99 | Available: Best Buy
POKÉMON SWORD & POKÉMON SHIELD NINTENDO
A new generation of Pokémon is coming to the Nintendo Switch. Become a Pokémon Trainer, embark on a new journey in the Galar region, and unravel the mystery behind the Legendary Pokémon Zacian and Zamazenta. MSRP: $59.99 | Available: mass retailers
PLAYMOBIL GHOSTBUSTERS ECTO-1A PLAYMOBIL
This Ecto-1A includes all four Ghostbusters characters, pink slime pieces, a hologram pyramid, proton packs, and more. Features everything you need to track down paranormal activities. MSRP: $59.99 | Available: Walmart
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NANO GAUNTLET MUG — MARVEL’S AVENGERS: ENDGAME DISNEY
Make mornings a *snap* with this ceramic mug, which is shaped like the gauntlet from Avengers: Endgame and features all six Infinity Stones. MSRP: $22.95 | Available: shopdisney.com
IRON MAN MK50 ROBOT
Complete augmented reality missions, which take place after the events of Avengers: Infinity War, with this Iron Man robot and its companion app.
I am Groot, I am Groot. (Read: Bring Groot to life with this puppet, which has jointed limbs and multiple finger pockets to animate and pose him.)
MSRP: $289 Available: Amazon, ubtrobot.com
MSRP: $47.99 | Available: folkmanis.com
MARVEL DEADPOOL TACO HOLDER
MARVEL FLUXX LOONEY LABS
Assemble your Avengers dream team in this Marvel-infused version of the Fluxx card game. The game also comes with a collectible coin inspired by Captain America’s shield. MSRP: $20 | Available: mass retailers
Combine your love for Deadpool AND tacos with this taco truck-shaped taco holder, which holds three tacos. MSRP: $19.99 Available: shopnerdcode.com
MARVEL COMICS NO. 1000 MARVEL COMICS
This anniversary issue includes the entire universe of Marvel characters, with work from 80 creative teams packed together in an 89-page comic book. MSRP: $9.99 Available: comic shops, comicstore.marvel.com
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WAKANDA FOREVER SPIN MASTER
Do you have what it takes to rule Wakanda? Find out in this strategy game as you take down villains, mine Vibranium, and compete to collect the most Wakanda points. MSRP: $29.99 | Available: mass retailers
STAR WARS FLEX WATCHES — STAR WARS FLEX
DEATH STAR POPCORN MAKER UNCANNY BRANDS
The Star Wars collection features different themes, locations, and characters from a galaxy far, far away. Each watch color represents a different cause that FLEX partnered with to give back 10% of gross profit.
That’s no moon — it’s a popcorn maker. This air popper makes popcorn in minutes. The top half conveniently doubles as a serving bowl, so you can snack while watching your favorite Star Wars flick.
MSRP: $40 (each) Available: flexwatches.com
MSRP: $49.99 | Available: Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, BoxLunch
DARTH VADER LASER-ETCHED GLASS SCULPTURE THE HAMILTON COLLECTION
STAR WARS X BARBIE MATTEL Barbie and Star Wars join forces in a new collaboration paying homage to Star Wars: A New Hope with a high-fashion twist on iconic characters Princess Leia, Darth Vader, and R2-D2. MSRP: $100 Available: barbie.com, Barnes & Noble
STAR WARS “STAY ON TARGET” 1,000-PIECE JIGSAW PUZZLE BUFFALO GAMES
This puzzle made from recycled puzzle board features a comic-book portrayal of an X-wing, Y-wing, and the Millennium Falcon. It’s named after Gold Five pilot Davis Krail’s iconic line from Star Wars: A New Hope.
Feel the power of the Dark Side with this solid glass Darth Vader sculpture. Crafted with more than 1 million precisely targeted lasers, Darth Vader’s menacing image is etched into a block of optically pure glass on a sturdy, full-color display base. MSRP: $99.99 Available: hamiltoncollection.com
MSRP: $14.95; Available: Barnes & Noble
OUR UNIVERSE STAR WARS: EWOKS CHARACTERS SWEATSHIRT HER UNIVERSE Hang out with your new fuzzy friends with this burgundy sweatshirt inspired by the animated Star Wars series, Ewoks. Features Wicket, Princess Kneesaa, Teebo, and Latara. Yub Nub! MSRP: $44.90 Available: heruniverse.com
STAR WARS JEDI: FALLEN ORDER EA
STAR WARS RETRO COLLECTION 3.75-INCH FIGURE ASSORTMENT HASBRO
Inspired by Star Wars action figures from the ’70s, these figures feature Kenner-style design and detailing. Characters include Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, Han Solo, and a Stormtrooper. MSRP: $9.99 (each) | Available: Target
Become a Jedi through this new game’s innovative lightsaber combat system that partners striking, parrying, and dodging with a suite of powerful Force abilities you’ll need to leverage to overcome obstacles that stand in your way. Available for XBox One, PS4, and PC. MSRP: $59.99 (regular edition); $69.99 (deluxe edition) Available: mass retailers
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HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE
HARRY POTTER HARRY POTTER COLLECTION HOGWARTS CASTLE MUSICAL TREE TOPPER HALLMARK
No matter what house you’re in, bring the enchantment of Hogwarts to your holiday celebrations. Plug it in for constant illumination or start a sound and light show featuring music from “Hedwig’s Theme.” MSRP: $119 | Available: hallmark.com
HARRY POTTER: FILM VAULT: VOLUMES 1 AND 2
HERMIONE GRANGER BAG PROP REPLICA
THE NOBLE COLLECTION
Straight from the Warner Bros. archive, Potterheads will discover filmmaking secrets behind magical creatures and locations from the Harry Potter films. Each volume features illustrations, behind-the-scenes photography, and a collectible art print.
Grab your Polyjuice potion and channel Hermione Granger with this prop replica as seen in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. Perfect for cosplay, the 9-inch bag is made of high-quality materials.
MSRP: $16.99 (each) | Available: Amazon
MSRP: $49.95 Available: noblecollection.com
HARRY POTTER INFINITY BOX YUME TOYS
Rotate the infinity box to reveal hidden compartments, each containing a secret item, such as travel tags, pins, and an exclusive Harry Potter Yule Ball Ornament plush. Available in 18- and 24-piece versions. MSRP: $39.99 (18 piece), $59.99 (24 piece) Available: hottopic.com
HARRY POTTER HOGWARTS BATTLE DEFENSE AGAINST THE DARK ARTS
WEASLEY’S WIZARD WHEEZES & DAILY PROPHET WREBBIT 3D PUZZLE
Wizards can master their defensive skills in this fast-paced game. Players take turns playing cards to build an unstoppable deck, and try to stun their opponents three times to win.
Get your floo powder ready to enter Diagon Alley as you build two iconic locations with 235 pieces. This 3D puzzle connects with the other puzzles in the Diagon Alley Collection. Just don’t accidentally say “diagonally.”
MSRP: $24.95 | Available: Amazon
MSRP: $29.95 | Available: Amazon
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HARRY POTTER HOGWARTS CASTLE SET OF 5 ALEX AND ANI
This set of bracelets — in a shiny, silver finish to symbolize a spellbinding, snowy day at Hogwarts — will add some magical style to your day. Remember: Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home. MSRP: $129 | Available: alexandani.com
DC WONDER WOMAN INVISIBLE JET WITH WONDER WOMAN AND THE CHEETAH PIN MATES SET BIF BANG POW!
Wonder Woman is ready to take on the Cheetah in this cute Pin Mates set, including the (currently visible) Invisible Jet. MSRP: $16.99 Available: Entertainment Earth
BATMAN 80TH ANNIVERSARY 18-FILM COLLECTION DC/WARNER BROS.
Who’s ready for a movie marathon? Celebrate Batman’s big year with this amazing collection of movies, on DVD or Blu-ray, featuring the Caped Crusader. MSRP: $68.98 (DVD), $89.99 (Blu-ray) Available: Best Buy, Walmart, shopdcentertainment.com
BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE DELUXE EDITION (HARDCOVER) DC COMICS
WONDER WOMAN MOVIE COLLECTIBLE
CRYPTOZOIC ENTERTAINMENT Celebrate the coolest Amazonian princess to ever grace the big screen with this 8-inch figure. It features Wonder Woman’s armor, lasso of truth, and sword from the DC film.
Revisit Alan Moore’s iconic Joker origin story with this recolored, hardcover edition of the 1988 one-shot.
BATMAN BLACK & WHITE: BATMAN BY JOE MADUREIRA STATUE DC COLLECTIBLES
Sculpted by Paul Harding, this 4.86-inch figure is straight from Joe Madureira’s variant cover of Justice League: Rebirth No. 1. MSRP: $80 Available: Sideshow, Amazon, Entertainment Earth
MSRP: $17.99 Available: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, shopdcentertainment.com
MSRP: $29.99 Available: store.cryptozoic.com
YUME TOYS Pronounced “designer,” this series of chibi Batman plush figures pays tribute to various Batman designs from the past eight decades. Available in 7- and 10-inch versions. MSRP: $12.99-22.99 Available: mass retailers
ENTERTAINMENT EARTH Every office needs a superhero (or villain). Add some geeky flair to your cubicle by repping your fave DC character, such as Superman, Wonder Woman, Harley Quinn, or the Joker. MSRP: $24.99 Available: Entertainment Earth
DC MOVIE GALLERY SHAZAM PVC DIORAMA DIAMOND SELECT TOYS
Straight from the big screen, this 9-inch diorama — modeled after Zachary Levi — features Billy Batson in full Shazam! form, complete with lightning arcing from his chest. MSRP: $49.99 Available: shop.diamondselecttoys.com
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HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE
RUBIK’S MAGIC STAR BRAND PARTNERS GROUP
It’s a cube! It’s a star! It’s a … Rubik’s Cube? This transforming geometric puzzle toy is addicting to twist from a star into a cube. MSRP: $9.99 | Available: Amazon
TRIVIAL PURSUIT NETFLIX’S STRANGER THINGS BACK TO THE ’80S EDITION HASBRO
This game features questions about ’80s pop culture and Stranger Things. If a player lands on a portal space, they have to flip over a panel, sending players to the Upside Down. MSRP: $19.99 | Available: Amazon
BOB ROSS 2QT SLOW COOKER UNCANNY BRANDS
Make happy little meals with this 2-quart slow cooker, featuring variable cook settings, a removable stoneware insert, and a tempered glass lid, as Bob Ross watches over you.
SEGA GENESIS MINI SEGA OF AMERICA
CARMEN SANDIEGO HANDHELD ELECTRONIC GAME BASIC FUN!
Complete missions around the world to find clues and catch villains working for Carmen Sandiego. Make it to the end for a chance to catch Carmen, wherever she is in the world. MSRP: $24.99 | Available: Walmart
This mini console is loaded with 42 classic games, including Earthworm Jim, Darius, Mega Man: The Wily Wars, and more.
Hatch, raise, and train these digital monsters from cyberspace, then link them with other DigiMon to battle. May the strongest monster win.
MSRP: $29.99 | Available: Amazon
MSRP: $79.99 | Available: Amazon
MSRP: $19.99 | Available: Amazon
GHOSTBUSTERS STAY PUFT COOKIE JAR
ADULT MAD LIBS: THE GAME
The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man must eat a lot of cookies because he turned into a cookie jar: a 10-inch-tall, ceramic one with hand-painted details.
Players use word cards to create the funniest sentences possible. All players vote on which sentence should win the round, and the first to win three rounds wins the game.
MSRP: $29.99 | Available: Amazon
MSRP: $20 | Available: Amazon
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GREMLINS GEEKI TIKIS BEELINE CREATIVE
Drink yourself back to the ’80s with these tiki-style ceramic mugs featuring your buddies Gizmo and Stripe from the movie Gremlins. MSRP: $19.99 Available: Entertainment Earth
HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE
VIDEO GAMES & GEAR
LEGO OVERWATCH JUNKRAT & ROADHOG LEGO
OVERWATCH ULTIMATES SERIES PHARAH AND MERCY DUAL-PACK FIGURES
THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: LINK’S AWAKENING
Recreate the apocalyptic Junkertown using 380 pieces. Features Roadhog with his Chain Hook and Scrap Gun, Junkrat with his iconic peg-leg and Frag Launcher, a yellow chopper, and a diorama.
Pharah and Mercy feature character-inspired accessories, game-inspired design, and multiple points of articulation. Build a roster of heroes with additional figures (sold separately).
MSRP: $49.99 Available: mass retailers
MSRP: $39.99 Available: Amazon, hasbropulse.com
Link has washed ashore on a mysterious island. To escape, players must collect magical instruments and awaken the Wind Fish. Battle enemies as you conquer dungeons and uncover hidden secrets in this updated version of a classic. MSRP: $59.99 | Available: mass retailers
FORTNITE BATTLE BUS DRONE BY JAZWARES JAZWARES
MARIO & SONIC AT THE TOKYO 2020 OLYMPICS SEGA
Compete with your friends in more than 30 action-packed 3D and 2D games, including all-new Olympic sports games, such as skateboarding, surfing, and sport climbing.
This Battle Bus Drone features game-authentic lights and sounds and highly detailed decoration. It Includes a 6-inch micro USB cable for recharging, a remote control, and a collector’s guide. MSRP: $49.99 Available: Amazon, Target
TETROMINO LIGHT PALADONE
This USB-powered light features a black board and 53 colored tetromino blocks that fans can place as if they’re playing Tetris. MSRP: $12.50 | Available: Amazon
MSRP: $59.99 | Available: mass retailers
NINTENDO ADVENT CALENDAR
BESTWAY MAINFRAME INFLATABLE GAMING ARMCHAIR
Gamers can travel through Dream Land, fight alongside new allies, or get ready for a melee with this jumbo plush Kirby.
Reveal 24 days of Super Mario-themed surprises, including articulated, 2.5-inch figures and accessories. Display figures with the pop-up environment pieces and create your own scenes.
It’s game on with this inflatable armchair featuring oversized arm and backrests. The futuristic-printed chair is portable and includes a mesh storage pocket for extra controllers.
MSRP: $29.99 | Available: tomy.com
MSRP: $49.99 | Available: Amazon
MSRP: $29.99 | Available: Menards
CLUB MOCCHI-MOCCHIMEGA KIRBY TOMY
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TABLETOP GAMES PLANET
BLUE ORANGE GAMES
DIE HARD: NAKATOMI HEIST TIP OF THE TONGUE UNIVERSITY GAMES
The questions seem easy, but can you spit out the answer in 2 seconds or less? Players must think fast in this party trivia game to try to be the first to get rid of all of their tokens. MSRP: $19.99 | Available: Amazon
HARRY POTTER LABYRINTH RAVENSBURGER
Players must use their wizarding skills to find the shortest route through the labyrinth and find the Harry Potter characters while also reaching all of the treasures and targets throughout the gameboard. MSRP: $24.99 | Available: Walmart
Relive Die Hard in this competitive game. Take on the role of John McLane, Hans Gruber, or the thieves to maneuver through Nakatomi Plaza and move through the story of the original film. Wearing shoes is optional. MSRP: $39.95 | Available: Amazon
In this game, the world takes shape in the palm of your hands. Players strategize to create a perfect world and ecosystem for wildlife to flourish. MSRP: $34.99 Available: Amazon
THE BLOCKBUSTER GAME CARPOOL KARAOKE GAME BIG G CREATIVE
Do you have what it takes to ride shotgun with James Corden? Select a song from an app or a streaming service and then duel other players in song, dance moves, or celebrity trivia to gain points. MSRP: $19.99 | Available: Target
Blockbuster is back! In round one, players name as many movies as they can in a category before time runs out. Then, in the second round, players either use one word, a quote, or act out the names of additional movie titles. MSRP: $19.99 | Available: Target
KENNY G KEEPIN’ IT SAXY GAME
MONOPOLY: MY HERO ACADEMIA
Play as Pac-Man and gobble up everything you can, while the remaining players work together as ghosts and try to catch you. The Pac-Man pawn even makes arcade sounds from the original game.
Stay in the groove with the power of jazz! In this cooperative game, players work together to make sure Kenny G stays smooth and saxy during a hectic day, such as overcoming uncool events, detangling his luscious locks, and avoiding traffic.
Make your way across the board, choosing between Class 1-A’s students and teachers. Includes a custom game board, cards, and collectible tokens of Eraserhead’s Visor, Grenade Glove, Deku’s Mask, Dummy Bomb, Shigaraki’s Hand, and the UA Sigil.
MSRP: $19.99 | Available: Amazon
MSRP: $19.99 | Available: Target
MSRP: $39.95 | Available: Amazon
PAC-MAN THE GAME BUFFALO GAMES
BIG G CREATIVE
THEPOPINSIDER.COM | #FuelYourFandom | 59
HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE
FACTORY ENTERTAINMENT Meet the vinyl figures with a spin — literally. A self-righting mechanism allows the figures to revolve, rock, and wobble. Build a pop-culture army that’s always on the move with characters from DC, Jurassic Park, and more. MSRP: $12.99 (each) | Available: Amazon
FUGGLERS SPIN MASTER
Fugglers are unpredictable, mischievous plush creatures that are, well... ugly — but in a totes adorbs kind of way. Fugglers feature gangly arms, pointy ears, giant heads, small heads, and other weird attributes. There are 40 to collect. MSRP: $14.99 Available: Amazon, shop.spinmaster.com
RBG 10-INCH PLUSH FIGURE BLEACHER CREATURES
Pop culture’s favorite Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg gets the plush treatment in this 10-inch doll, complete with RBG’s signature collar. MSRP: $19.99 | Available: mass retailers
RICK AND MORTY BUTTERBOT COIN BANK SURREAL ENTERTAINMENT
ALTER NATION PANDA MONY
Available as 1:12 or 6-inch-scale figures, each fully poseable character includes a mini comic book and accessories. Phase one includes four heroes (El Ray, Daart, Quillroy, and Albert VII) and two villains (Sham and Sabotage). MSRP: $21.99-24.99 Available: store.pandamony.toys
Unlike the real Butterbot, this one doesn’t pass butter. But it does help you save money as you pass your coins through the slot, where they’ll stay for safekeeping until you decide you need to buy more merch. MSRP: $29.99 Available: shopnerdcode.com
KAME HOUSE COOKIE JAR ABYSTYLE
What’s cooler than a mini Kame House in your kitchen? How about a ceramic one you can fill with cookies? Pay a visit to Master Roshi and share a snack. Includes a removable lid. MSRP: $39.99 Available: Amazon, abystyle.us
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES MASTER SHREDDER CHEESE GRATER
SURREAL ENTERTAINMENT Every kitchen needs a box grater, but few are as geektastic as this one featuring a 3D character mold of TMNT character Master Shredder. Beware of introducing the grater to its nemesis: the dishwasher. MSRP: $19.99 Available: shopnerdcode.com
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GODZILLA VINIMATES VINYL FIGURES SERIES 1 DIAMOND SELECT TOYS
The black-and-white, 1954-era Godzilla and the full-color, 1999-era Godzilla team up against their robot doppelganger. Each 4-inch figure has an articulated neck and comes packaged in a full-color window box. MSRP: $9.99 (each) Available: shop.diamondselecttoys.com
FISHER-PRICE THE BEATLES YELLOW SUBMARINE BY LITTLE PEOPLE MATTEL
Get ready to rock ‘n roll with John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr with this special-edition figure pack. Character figures are styled with looks from “Yellow Submarine.” MSRP: $19.99 | Available: Amazon, Target
MASTERPIECE MEMES ALPHA GROUP
Fan-favorite SpongeBob moments come to life through these meme-inspired, 8-inch collectible vinyl figures. Collect Mocking SpongeBob, Imaginaaation SpongeBob, Surprised Patrick, Spongegar, and Handsome Squidward. MSRP: $19.99 (each) | Available: Amazon, Target
GAME OF THRONES COLLECTOR’S CHESS SET USAOPOLY
Challenge a friend or display this chess set as coffee table art showcasing an epic battle. Includes 32 resin chess pieces resembling the series’ actors and an Iron Thronethemed board with a metallic gold checkerboard and a dragon scale-textured backwrap. MSRP: $99.95 Available: Barnes & Noble
THE OFFICE POP! FIGURES BY FUNKO FUNKO
Bring the fun and camaraderie of The Office home (or to your dorm) with these Pop! figures, including Michael Scott, Pam Beesly, Dwight Schrute, Darryl Philbin, Kevin Malone, Jim Halpert, and more. MSRP: $10.99-14.99 | Available: mass retailers
SUNNY DAYS ENTERTAINMENT These 5-inch action figures are made of malleable rubber so fans of Voltron, Battlestar Galactica, and more can easily bend ’em, stretch ’em, and pose ’em into practically any position. MSRP: $9.99 (each) | Available: Amazon
Do you like scary movies? Horror merch is the best kind of merch, and although we support terror year-round, October is its time to shine. The creepier, the better, so get your ghostly hands on this must-have horror merch before it vanishes into the darkness. IT: EVIL BELOW GAME | USAOPOLY It’s do or die with a side of killer clowns in this co-op strategy game based on the movie It. Play as the Losers’ Club to defeat Pennywise — or die trying. Each character has special abilities, and you have to work together as a team because if even one player dies, Pennywise wins. MSRP: $29.95 Available: Amazon
ANNABELLE CREATION ADULT DELUXE COSTUME RUBIE’S COSTUME CO. Is it a doll or is it a devil? Dial the creep factor all the way up and scare all the trick-or-treaters with this costume based on the supernatural demon doll from 2017’s Annabelle: Creation. Yeah, it’s a little freaky, but if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. MSRP: $45.99-49.99 Available: Specialty costume shops, buycostumes.com
compiled by jackie cucco, senior editor
MDS MEGA SCALE SAW: BILLY WITH SOUND MEZCO TOYZ Let the games begin. If you think dolls are creepy, wait until you see this 15-inch Billy ﬁgure, inspired by the Saw movies. It has 11 points of articulation and a button hidden on its back to activate sound. If he starts talking, you sure as hell better pay attention. MSRP: $94 Available: preorder now, mezcotoyz.com
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HALLOWEEN VHS THROW BLANKET | CREEPY CO. Everyone’s entitled to one good scare, huh? Make some popcorn and cuddle up with Michael Myers under this jumbo ﬂeece blanket. It features a recreation of the original VHS tape of 1978’s Halloween, directed by John Carpenter and starring the O.G. scream queen, Jamie Lee Curtis. MSRP: $34.99 Available: creepycompany.com
SABRINA SPELLMAN AND SALEM STATUE ICON HEROES It’s the witching hour somewhere. Sabrina is a witchy teen dream in this 7.4-inch statue, modeled after Kiernan Shipka, the actress who plays the halfmortal girl in Netﬂix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. MSRP: $79.99 Available: preorder now, iconheroes.com
THE UPSIDE DOWN SET I LEGO Enter the Upside Down with this 2,287-piece LEGO set based on Stranger Things. Build the Byers’ house and a creepy upside down version with a light-up alphabet wall. The set includes eight Stranger Things miniﬁgures. MSRP: $199.99 Available: mass retailers
Use your fandom for the greater good.
GEEKS DOING GOOD compiled by Miranda Siwak, editorial assistant
Superheroes do exist, they just might not look how you think. In fact, some work their magic in the shadows and behind the scenes to save the day. Here are some of the incredible organizations ﬁghting for the greater good. Donate through their websites, host a fundraiser, or volunteer to make the planet a better place. Suit up: The world needs your help.
ABLE GAMERS CHARITY This nonproﬁt powers up to make gaming accessible for kids with disabilities, no matter their physical limitations. By using a variety of technologies, including mouth controllers, eye gazes, and other customized controllers, the foundation makes gaming inclusive for every player with its #SoEveryoneCanGame mission. Donate to the cause via the website and $0.94 of every dollar received goes directly to gamers in need. It’s time to level up and get to work! HQ: Kearneysville, West Virginia Donate: ablegamers.org
OPERATION COMIX RELIEF SPIRIT OF CHILDREN No spooky hospital stays here! Spirit Halloween brings Halloween celebrations to children’s hospitals nationwide. The retailer raises funds for Child Life to provide support for art, music, aquatic, and pet therapy programs and additional educational tools in children’s hospitals. In its 13-year tenure, the initiative has raised $54 million across 141 partner hospitals in the U.S. Fans can get involved by donating to the spooktacular cause at Spirit Halloween stores all season long — and feel boo-tiful on the inside and outside. HQ: Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey Donate: spiritofchildren.com
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Holy books, Batman! Founder Chris Tarbassian started this homebased project in 2003 to send comic books abroad to ill and wounded soldiers to enjoy during their deployments in the midst of Operation Iraqi Freedom. You can send in comic book donations by mail to their headquarters or deliver them in person at Bedrock Comics in Framingham, Massachusetts, and they’ll send the books to soldiers stationed overseas in war zones. HQ: Framingham, Massachusetts
WORLDBUILDERS This geek-centered nonproﬁt aims to raise money for respected charities that may be overlooked by the geek network. Made up of a team of geeks, gamers, and book nerds, Worldbuilders understands the importance and the value of what charities offer people in need. The charity’s efforts have supported causes including Heifer International, First Book, MercyCorps, and Global Giving, and have raised more than $9 million since 2008 — with no signs of slowing down anytime soon. These geeks doing good host a number of fundraisers, sell geeky merch, and attend cons to spread the word about these important causes. HQ: Stevens Point, Wisconsin
STAN LEE FOUNDATION
HERO INITIATIVE The Hero Initiative suits up to support comic creators in need with emergency medical aid and ﬁnancial support. With fan contributions totaling more than $1 million, the cause is able to give back to those who create the content we enjoy so much. Through donations, this organization has been able to change these artists’ lives by supporting them when they needed the most help. After all that these artists have done to create books we enjoy, this is one small way to give back to them and share our thanks for telling incredible, moving stories. HQ: Los Angeles
MAGIC WHEELCHAIR This nonproﬁt organization turns children’s wheelchairs into the costumes of their dreams, helping to put a smile on these deserving kiddos’ faces. They’ve transformed chairs into Transformers, Star Wars vehicles, the Batmobile, and more. The organization has made more than 150 costumes for kids, and volunteers are essential to building these epic chariots. The organization gives a whole new meaning to riding in style. HQ: Keizer, Oregon
Excelsior! This nonproﬁt organization pays tribute to the superpowered vision of the late Stan Lee. Just as Lee shared his passion for teaching to inspire generations of writers and artists, the foundation aims to springboard his legacy to assist literacy and arts programs in fun, meaningful ways. These IRL superheroes provide educational resources and help boost access to literacy, education, and the arts with a variety of projects and partner institutions dedicated to these worthy causes. The nonproﬁt helps to promote life skills that empower anyone’s inner superhero mindset to realize their potential and triumph over self-doubt. HQ: Springﬁeld, Virginia
Donate: stanleefoundation.org ANIME ART MUSEUM PROJECT Celebrate the rich history and works of anime with this nonproﬁt museum project dedicated to showcasing anime artists, studying anime art, and promoting anime history and its Japanese roots. Fans can take art classes, view artwork, and celebrate the rich culture as the museum aims to give every artist access to comprehensive anime art education and exposure. HQ: Gainesville, Florida
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classic screams compiled by Victoria Rosenthal, editorial assistant Whether you love them or you hate them, movie and TV reboots and sequels currently dominate the entertainment industry. Within the next year, the horror genre will be the target of this revival trend, with remakes that range from fan-favorite slashers to cult classics that feed off the nostalgia of an older generation of viewers and the cinematic fears of newer ones. Here are a few rising from the grave and coming to haunt our dreams between this year and next.
GRUDGE If you couldn’t go into your attic for months after watching the 2002 Japanese classic, you’re not alone. The original American version, which premiered two years later, not only imported the horrifying Japanese story of a vengeful female ghost, but also the unforgettable image of her dead corpse with long black hair slithering across the ﬂoor. The entire franchise is crawling over to America with new characters and a new setting — let’s hope that doesn’t mean in your own house. Sam Raimi is producing the remake starring Demian Bichir, Andrea Riseborough, John Cho, and Lin Shaye, while Nicolas Pesce is directing and writing the project. Produced by: Sony Screen Gems | Release Date: Jan. 3, 2020
The Midnight Society returns to Nickelodeon in October for another round of scary storytelling. Photo: Viacom/Nickelodeon
ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK? True Nickelodeon kids know the fear triggered when the ominous theme song from Are You Afraid of the Dark? begins. It was a test of will to power through an entire 30 minutes of scary campﬁre stories. In the reboot miniseries, which begins airing on Nickelodeon just in time for Halloween, a new generation of Midnight Society members will tell spooky stories around the campﬁre in three episodes. Each story is set in the Carnival of Doom during a whopping full hour of terror. The cast includes Sam Ashe Arnold (Gavin), Miya Cech (Akiko), Tamara Smart (Louise), Jeremy Taylor (Graham), and Lyliana Wray (Rachel). Ace Entertainment’s Matt Kaplan and Spencer Berman, along with BenDavid Grabinski and Dean Israelite, are serving as executive producers on the project. Grabinski is also writing the script, and Israelite is directing the series. Produced by: Nickelodeon/ACE Entertainment Release Date: Oct. 11, 18, and 25, 2019
This classic children’s novel by Roald Dahl is making its way back to the big screen next year. This time, it has a new cast, including Anne Hathaway as the Grand High Witch, and a different setting. Director Robert Zemeckis is bringing the movie to the Gothic South in the 1960s and planning to follow the source material more accurately than the original 1990 ﬁlm did. It will still follow the story of a boy who discovers a coven of witches who hate children. He tries to expose their evil plans before the witches stop him in his tracks. Additional cast members include Octavia Spencer, Stanley Tucci, and Chris Rock.
The Shining’s little Danny Torrance is all grown up and tormented by the spirits of Overlook Hotel. Torrance (Ewan McGregor) returns 40 years later in this sequel, using his “shining” powers to protect tween Abra Stone (Kyleigh Curran) from a cult called the True Knot, which is hunting her down to feed off her powers to prolong their immortality. As he overcomes his own issues with depression and alcoholism, which he inherited from his infamous father, Jack, Torrance releases the Overlook Hotels’ spirits that continue to haunt him in order to protect Abra. Mike Flanagan wrote and directed the ﬁlm adaptation of the New York Times best-seller. Jon Berg and Trevor Macy will produce, while Stephen King, Akiva Goldsman, Roy Lee, and D. Scott Lumpkin will serve as executive producers. The movie also stars Rebecca Ferguson (Rose the Hat), Carl Lumbly (Dick Halloran), Zahn McLarnon (Crow Daddy) Emily Alyn Lind (Snakebite Andi), Burce Greenwood (Dr. John Dalton), Jocelin Donahue (Lucy), Alex Essoe (Wendy Torrance), Cliff Curtis (Billy Freeman), and Jacob Tremblay (young Danny Torrance).
Produced by: Warner Bros. | Release Date: Oct. 16, 2020
Produced by: Warner Bros. | Release Date: Nov. 8, 2019
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