Star Wars 2015 Trailer Spot the Action Figures to Come


The trailer to the new Star Wars movie premiered this weekend. You don’t learn too much about the plot from it, but maybe we can start to predict (guess?) the action figures we should look for.

Star Wars 7 will premier in December, 2015. I better not see Jar-Jar Binks anywhere!

Star Wars 7 will premier in December, 2015. I better not see Jar-Jar Binks anywhere!

Here is a link to the trailer:

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Mystery Science Theater 3000: Turkey Day Collection (XXXI)’ Is Comedy Worth Being Thankful For


NOTE: This story was first published on Pop Matters and is featured as a news item on The Collectors Show which can be heard at http://www.webtalkradio.net.

There was a time when the funniest show on television was a little show based solely around making fun of bad movies. Much like any number of thousands of late night TV shows since Vampira took to the airwaves, this public access-cum-basic cable movie show featured host segments with elaborate, colorful and weird characters quipping about the featured films. Mystery Science Theater 3000 carried this trend three steps further with the space-borne human host and two of his robot friends actually apparently sitting in the theater watching the movie with the at-home audience and making fun of the film even as it unspools.

Fans circulated tapes of the show and kept its legend growing for 11 full years and even spawned a feature film. But throughout all of those years, the best day out of all 365 was Thanksgiving, or “Turkey Day”, when Comedy Central

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Turkey Day Collection (XXXI) Director: Various Cast: Joel Hodgson, Michael J. Nelson, Trace Beaulieu, Frank Conniff, Josh Weinstein, Kevin Murphy, Mary Jo Pehl, Bill Corbett, Patrick Brantseg, Jim Mallon, Don Scardino, Gumby, Pokey, Joe Clokey (Best Brains; US DVD: 25 Nov 2014; UK DVD: Import)

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Turkey Day Collection (XXXI)
Director: Various
Cast: Joel Hodgson, Michael J. Nelson, Trace Beaulieu, Frank Conniff, Josh Weinstein, Kevin Murphy, Mary Jo Pehl, Bill Corbett, Patrick Brantseg, Jim Mallon, Don Scardino, Gumby, Pokey, Joe Clokey
(Best Brains; US DVD: 25 Nov 2014; UK DVD: Import)

(formerly The Comedy Channel) would air episodes as day-long marathons packed with some of the best laughs the network ever achieved. Since the advent of DVD, the “Best Brains” have been releasing multiple feature length episodes in four pack collections. The most recent is this Turkey Day Collection, the 31st installment, which celebrates none other than Turkey Day itself just in time for Thanksgiving 2014.

There was no specific or unique set of episodes chosen for each Turkey Day. Although generally the funniest programs were chosen, any and all were applicable, so while this set of four films surely pays tribute to the annual celebration, in fact these four wouldn’t constitute a quarter of a Turkey Day marathon. In short, this collection of Jungle Goddess (1948), The Painted Hills (1951), The Screaming Skull (1958) and Squirm (1976), though all funny, are no more or less representative of the Turkey Days on the whole than any number of other episodes out there. While both Jungle Goddess and The Painted Hills (both “Joel” episodes) might have aired during the Turkey Day marathons, The Screaming Skull and Squirm were culled from the last two seasons, both of which aired on the Sci-Fi Channel. In short, in spite of the subtitle, this 31st collection isn’t really about Turkey Day until you get into some of the extras.

What makes this set worth having for Thanksgiving (and beyond Thanksgiving) is the plethora of extras found on each disc. Once again, the set comes in a handsome collector’s tin with four mini-posters by artist Steve Vance. On the discs themselves we get new introductions by creator Joel Hodgson along with robot friends Tom Servo and Crow. These introductions give a bit more background into the films being skewered while continuing to be funny (as one might hope and respect from the Mystery Science Theater 3000 guys).

Some of the best (and most nostalgic) inclusions are the old bumpers shown during commercial breaks on each Turkey Day. These evolved through the years from simple one-off jokes to evolving stories that fit perfectly into the Mystery Science Theater 3000 mythos. This is, after all, a fictional science fiction TV show with its own story arcs and continuity, all wrapped around the films they happen to be mocking each week. However, purists will point out that not every bumper segment is actually included in the lot called “Bumper to Bumper: Turkey Day Through the Years”. This collection includes only those filmed by the cast and not those featuring Adam West and other actors. The well-done documentary “Inside the Turkey Day Marathon” does briefly mention these additional bumpers with no small amount of disdain, so their exclusion does make some sense. That same documentary does live up to its name as it traces the show’s Thanksgiving marathons throughout the years with interviews with the cast and crew and copious clips from the past. So, yeah, it’s safe to say that it’s pretty damned funny.

As for the films themselves, they range from the “poorly done” to the pretty damned terrible. The one exception to this rule is the Gumby and Pokey short Robot Rumpus (1957) which is featured within the same episode as The Screaming Skull. While this may not exactly be a miracle of storytelling, it is a skillfully stop-motion animated adventure for kids that is not exactly ruined by the riffing of Mike Nelson and the ‘bots—enhanced might be a better word. Further enhancing the short is a documentary called “Gumby and Clokey”, featuring Joe Clokey discussing the creation of Gumby and Pokey, focusing on Robot Rumpus and beyond. The Screaming Skull also gets its own documentary called “This Film May Kill You: Making The Screaming Skull”.

The latter documentary comes off as an apologist’s reversal of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 mockery to give a more balanced look at this admitted B-Movie (designed as a tool for scaring kids and teenagers). However, this documentary is sometimes just as ironically funny as the film itself, especially when The Screaming Skull is identified as an unofficial remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca (1940).

The Painted Hills is a Lassie vehicle that stars the original animal actor (Pal) who played Lassie, although in this film the dog’s name is “Shep”. Go figure. The Painted Hils is standard ‘50s “all ages” fare and still manages to give Joel, Crow and Tom Servo plenty of material for laughter. This one is preceded by another short, the painfully ridiculous “educational film Body Care and Grooming (1947), which almost seemed to be made for the trio to make fun of.

Squirm is not a great film, but it is more entertaining on its own than many of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 choices. This feature is accompanied by an interview with star Don Scardino as well as yet another short, the 1940 joke called A Case of Spring Fever. The short centers around a man who is frustrated by springs and then must face a world with no springs whatsoever. Once he’s learned his lesson, he simply will not stop talking about springs, much to the delight of the animated imp who granted his backhanded wish. While Squirm is hilarious on many levels, A Case of Spring Fever gives Mike and the ‘bots plenty of material for their own sketches.

Jungle Goddess is a hilariously oblivious, vaguely racist — okay, more than vaguely — adventure film about two great white hunters invading the “Heart of Darkness” in Africa to find a tribe ruled over by a blonde haired American woman whom they worship. In that one of the Great White Hunters happens to be played by George Reeves, you can be sure there are lots of Superman jokes to be made.

Then there’s the first chapter of the not great Bela Lugosi serial known as The Phantom Creeps. This episode is marred by its almost too much amount of black and white. Is the “Shadowrama” a contributing factor to the better (and more endurable) episodes being in color? Perhaps. Then again, maybe black and white enhances great movies, but makes bad movies even worse.

Regardless, each of the four episodes included in this 31st collection of Mystery Science Theater 3000 is a winner; or, at least, is made so by the glorious filmicide performed by first Joel and the bots, then Mike and the bots. Packed with extras, “The Turkey Day Collection” is a mighty fine entry into a collection of Mystery Science Theater 3000, but still isn’t sequential within the saga of the show, skipping from season to season. Not all four of these were even possible to feature in the actual Turkey Day Marathons, but these are four funny episodes and that’s something to be thankful for.

Science of Superheroes: Super Materials in Comic.


There’s science in comic books. A new exhibit looks at Captain America’s shield, Spider-Man’s web, Thor’s hammer and Batman’s cape and more, scientifically.

Click this link to listen.

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This Week On The Collectors Show Collecting Plumbing


A couple of weeks ago we covered a news story about a man who collected bed pans. This got me to thinking about the larger issues of plumbing which led to this weeks’ program. This week on The Collectors Show on Web Talk Radio (www.webtalkradio.net) we learn about a large collection of plumbing from The Plumbing Museum. Located ironically in Watertown, MA, the museum began as a private collection. The Manoog family began the collection and kept their work in the family.

The Plumbers Museum stands as a tribute to the plumbers, engineers and inventors whose hard work and creative spirit have contributed so much to the betterment of our society.

The Plumbers Museum stands as a tribute to the plumbers, engineers and inventors whose hard work and creative spirit have contributed so much to the betterment of our society.

Mr. Manoog’s father, Charles, began collecting antique commodes, claw-foot tubs, ornate sinks and other plumbing items beginning in the 1950s. A museum for these items was established by son Russell in 1979. In its former Worcester location, the American Sanitary Plumbing Museum had hosted curious visitors from all over the world.

Since 1979, The Plumbing Museum has attracted plumbers, tradesmen and curious visitors from all walks of life. The museum offers a unique, trade-specific take on American history. Moreover the museum stands as a tribute to the plumbers, engineers and inventors whose hard work and creative spirit have contributed so much to the betterment of our society.

More noteworthy items in the collection are “The Nautilus” toilet and “The Earth Closet” but more than just a quirky set of collectibles, is the importance to the health and well being of people that result from sanitation and clean drinking water.

To find them on line go to:http://www.theplumbingmuseum.org.

 

Today Is World Toilet Day!


Which is the perfect time for me to tell you that next week on The Collectors Show we will interview Linda Weick of the Plumbing Museum. It is the only museum of its type in the world and is located, ironically in Watertown, MA. It is repleat with tools of the trade, dating back over 200 years.

A photo from inside the New Delhi Toilet museum.

A photo from inside the New Delhi Toilet museum.

There is a toilet museum called The Sulabh International Museum of Toilets, located in New Delhi. It was established in 1992 and formally inaugurated on March 19, 1994. We are not sure what the inauguration was like and do not want to pursue this question any further.

To hear The Collectors Show go to http://www.webtalkradio.net or iTunes.

Collecting Nancy Drew Books On The Collectors Show


The first Nancy Drew novel was published in 1930. Copies of the original series are very collectible.

The first Nancy Drew novel was published in 1930. Copies of the original series are very collectible.

This week on the Collectors Show we meet Jennifer Fischer who is an expert on collecting Nancy Drew books. We’ve talked before on the show about collecting books and even collecting old manuscripts but we have never talked about collecting anything this specific. A timeless sleuth, Nancy Drew is smart, capable and plucky independent. She might have been the perfect female “super hero” had she been just a little crazier and worn a cape. Why you ask? Because like other super heroes she has personal tragedy in her background. In her experience was the tragedy of losing her mother and the double tragedy of a father who was a (gasp) lawyer!

So who was she? Nancy Drew was the fictional girl detective/investigator who solved mysteries. Like Jessica Fletcher, but younger. The first books were published in 1930. Of course those led to movies, TV shows and all other types of merchandizing tie-ins. But did you know she was not always as well thought of as she is now?

Nancy Drew was once scorned and rejected by libraries and educators. The early classic Nancy of the 1930s-1940s is bold, independent, fearless, and capable. These were not always qualities welcome or encouraged in girls, quite the opposite. In that sense Nancy was ahead of her time. “Before the 1930s, there weren’t any books with teenage heroines who chased villains down dark alleys,” says our guest Jenn Fisher, author of Clues for Real Life: The Classic Wit and Wisdom of Nancy Drew and president of the fan site nancydrewsleuth.com.

The first Nancy Drew book, 1930’s The Secret of the Old Clock, was ghostwritten by Mildred Wirt, who penned 23 Nancy Drew titles as Carolyn Keene—the same pseudonym used today. An original edition can bring $5,000 in mint condition; Wirt’s autograph doubles this copy’s value to $10,000. Eight years after the novel’s debut, the series spawned a movie, Nancy Drew: Detective. A lobby card from that film now sells for up to $800.

With the revisions starting in the 1950s, Nancy is not so outspoken and accepts more help from others making her seem less heroic. Nancy also started traveling throughout the world experiencing exotic adventures and discovering new things; in one adventure she even encounters a flying saucer!

The main Nancy Drew Mystery Stories series progressed through several stages.

The series started with the original 56 volumes of the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories from 1930-1979. Beginning in 1959, the original texts of volumes 1-34 were revised and updated for consistency with the later volumes. But skipping ahead a few decades we find that she changes with the times!

The 1970s saw a licensing bonanza with Nancy Drew lunch boxes, a TV show—and this 1973 cookbook we found on eBay, which features a recipe for Sleuth Soup (a dubious mix of tomato juice, whipping cream, and beef broth). Published in 1971, The Crooked Banister reflects America’s then-fascination with futuristic science fiction via a robot on the cover. Books from this decade are more common, pegging the worth of this particular title at $30. The era also spelled the end of the Stratemeyer family’s control of the series, with Simon & Schuster taking over the publishing in 1979. To hear and learn more about Nancy Drew go to www.webtalkradio.net or iTunes.

 

LEADING COLLECTION MANAGEMENT AND HOME INVENTORY SOFTWARE COMPANY, COLLECTIFY LLC, LAUNCHES COLLECTIFY CLOUD


Collectify LLC announced last week at SOFA Chicago the launch of Collectify Cloud, a private Cloud service that allows subscribers to manage their collections and possessions anytime anywhere. Collectify LLC is the only software company to offer a complete solution to collections and home inventory management needs, with their two leading softwares: Collectify™ Collectors’ Edition, and Collectify™ Home Inventory.

Collectify™ Collectors’ Edition allows the cataloguer to choose from 33 pre-defined collection types or customize fields to fit the collection or use.

Collectify™ Collectors’ Edition allows the cataloguer to:

• choose from 33 pre-defined collection types or customize fields to fit the collection or use

• select from 40 template reports or customize

• track the location of objects. If on loan, know when that object will be returned

• document financial and insurance details of the collection

• store appraisals, insurance, catalogs and other documents associated with the objects

• email reports to insurance carriers, brokers, family and friends

• build profiles of artists, manufacturers, framers, restorers, auction houses, and link them to the objects in your collection • store images, sound clips, and videos

• generate an insurance report at the click of a button.

Franklin Silverstone, Chairman and CEO of Collectify, commented: “We opted to go with a private Cloud service because of the extra layer of security it offers over the public Cloud – especially with all the recent security breaches that have occurred with web-browser based Clouds. Our clients’ data security is of the utmost importance to us.”

About the company:Based in Connecticut and Montreal, Collectify LLC was founded byFranklin Silverstone in 1993. Widely acknowledged as an innovator in thefield of professional inventory and renowned for the quality of theirsoftware, the firm provides Collectify™ Home Inventory Edition software aswell as its original product, Collectify™ Collector’s Edition software. Withmore than four decades of art, antiques, appraisal and auction businessexperience, Silverstone was formerly a senior partner of PhillipsAuctioneers, London, Head of Fine Art for all Phillips auctions rooms andSenior Partner in the US and Canada. He is curator for Charles R.Bronfman, the founder and owner of Franklin Silverstone LLC, and pastcurator of The Claridge Collection, Canada’s premier decorative artscollection.http://www.collectifycloud.com