Use Your Imagination

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Crafty Childhood

Rainy day activities we used to call them. When there was nothing else to do kids had their favorite stock phrase, I’m bored! Then our parents would reply with their stock phrase, “use your imagination.”

We came up with games, fantastic worlds, and kept ourselves occupied for hours on end. All without the tech of today. It was never present. Our minds would become stronger in the process of inventing. You cannot miss things that were not invented yet.

Finding discarded refrigerator boxes was common during the 1970’s. We used them to build forts, roll down hills, and pretend just about anything our minds could invent!

A carboard box became a spaceship or a time machine. Adventures got played out complete with hand to hand melees to overcome villains. Then on our television sets came perhaps some of the most imaginative television programs on Saturday mornings to compliment our rainy day adventures.

There were 3 commercially supported networks, CBS, ABC, and NBC. New York City also had 3 locally based independent channels: WNEW–5, WOR–9, and WPIX–11.

These independent channels picked up the first ever re-runs in TV history. Network execs did not think people would watch repeats of old shows.

But to the children of that era every single re-run was a first time viewing. Every series from the 1950’s and 1960’s would get aired again. More on this topic in a future entry.

This week I want to talk about the programming of the 1970’s, my childhood. Saturday mornings became a special time of the week for millions of us.

Sid & Marty Krofft

Network TV in the 1970s programmed Saturday mornings just for kids. Cartoons, live-action space operas/adventures, and the brothers Krofft who had series on all 3 networks! At the top of their game there was a variety show based in Atlanta in 1978 called The Krofft Supershow. Hosted first by the Scottish hitmakers Bay City Rollers then the made up Captain Kool & The Kongs, featured 3 series: Dr. Shrinker, Wonderbug, and Magic Mongo.

When their first series originally aired on NBC in 1969 no one knew their everlasting impact. H.R. Pufnstuf was that first show. A fantasy adventure starring Jack Wild as Jimmy (Oscar Nominee for “Oliver!”), Billie Hayes as Witchiepoo, and Lennie Weinrib as H.R. Pufnstuf (he starred later as the Genie Mongo).

How the Krofft Brothers Named Pufnstuf

Of course the famous Mayor of Living island was named after Puff The Magic Dragon, a folk tune that at the time was a popular hit.

In their interview for TV Archive, Sid and Marty Krofft talked about the naming of their now iconic series. There are fun facts brought up as well.

My favorite fact was that The Beatles watched it every week. In England Pufnstuf was broadcast at 6 in the evening. Manager Brian Epstein asked for a 16mm copy of each week’s show!

At the end of every episode Pufnstuf and Jimmy tell viewers to keep those letters and postcards coming. Their fan mail was on average 10,000 letters per week!

Many college kids were watching the show. A lot of them thought the name Pufnstuf was drug related. Naturally the network’s standard and practices would have never allowed it.

A lad named Jimmy and his golden flute, Freddie, are lured away in Witchiepoo’s boat. The vessel attacks Jimmy sending him into the water. He finds himself washed ashore on the Oz-like Living Island. Its Mayor, the friendly dragon H.R . Pufnstuf, and his staff Cling and Clang rescue Jimmy. The rest of the series’ 16 episodes are Jimmy’s attempts to escape the island and various other adventures.

The Krofft shows featured musical numbers too. On Pufnstuf Jack Wild’s character Jimmy sang on several episodes. ‘Walking, Talking Boy’ and ‘Mechanical Boy’ are examples.

“The Magic Path” episode had the discovery of a special walkway that could lead Jimmy off the island! Then there was the scheme of using a box kite to fly him home.

Another big hit was “Sigmund and The Sea Monsters”. Star Johnny Whitaker sang the theme song, ‘You Gotta Have Friends’. He also sang on many episodes.

Sigmund was a misfit. Brothers Burp and Slurp were genuine monsters. Big Daddy and Big Mama were their parents, modeled after Hollywood gangsters of the 1930’s.

Johnny and Scott find Sigmund. They take him in to their clubhouse. Each episode has the boys protecting him from his awful family.

The popularity of these shows propelled stars Jack Wild and Johnny Whitaker to teen idol status. They performed beside the costumed Krofft characters at the Hollywood Bowl in L.A.

Krofft Series Roundup

  • H. R. Pufnstuf________________________16 Episodes (1969)
  • Land Of The Lost___________________43 Episodes (1974–76)
  • Sigmund and The Sea Monsters____29 Episodes (1973–74)
  • The Lost Saucer____________________16 Episodes (1975)
  • Lidsville____________________________17 Episodes (1971–72)
  • The Far Out Space Nuts_____________12 Episodes (1975)
  • The Bugaloos_______________________17 Episodes (1970–71)
  • Dr. Shrinker________________________16 Episodes (1976)
  • Electra Woman and Dyna Girl______16 Episodes (1976)
  • Wonderbug _______________________ 22 Episodes (1976–77)
  • Bigfoot and Wildboy________________20 Episodes (1977–79)
  • Uncle Croc’s Block___________________16 Episodes (1975)
  • Pryor’s Place_________________________13 Episodes (1984)
  • The Krofft Supershow________________16 Episodes (1976)

I watched all of these programs when they aired. The Krofft brothers had some star power too. “Lidsville” featured Butch Patrick of “Munsters” fame, he played Eddie! Charles Nelson Reilly also starred on the show as villain Hoodoo and with Phyllis Diller on “Croc’s Block.” “The Lost Saucer” starred Ruth Buzzie and Jim Nabors as androids named Fi and Fum. Richard Pryor starred on “Pryor’s Place”. Bob Denver of “Gilligan’s Island” starred in the “Far Out Space Nuts”. Martha Raye was Benita Bizzare on “The Bugaloos”.

The cost of producing so many live-action fantasy shows took its toll. Pufnstuf had 16 episodes that were reran throughout the 1970’s. To widen their audience, Sid and Marty Krofft produced a 98 minute feature film, Pufnstuf”, that featured Martha Raye as The Boss Witch and Cass Elliott as Witch Hazel and the original featured series cast.

“Land of the Lost” ran the longest. Eventual re–boots were produced in the 1990’s and 2000’s and a really bad feature film Starring Will Ferrell.

In 1978, Sid and Marty Krofft opened an indoor amusement park that took up 5 floors of Atlanta’s Omni Center, now home to CNN. It featured a giant sized pinball machine that people could ride through on specially designed vehicles.

Visitors rode the escalators to the top floor that featured a carousel. Then working their way down through the other floors and attractions. Upon exiting there was the familiar Krofft TV Productions logo.

Despite the financial failure of the Atlanta park, the brothers designed Krofft show themed rides for Six Flags in Georgia and in other theme parks across the U.S.

Krofft Gallery: (L–R): The movie ‘Pufnstuf’ (1970), Atlanta based indoor Amusement Park, the book ‘Pufnstuf & Other Stuff’ by David Martindale, and the Krofft TV Production logo seen at the end of each series’ episode.

When ABC Premiered “Scooby Doo Where Are You! Saturday mornings for kids was born.

The Stone Age and Future Age Enable The Scooby Age!

“The Flintstones” appeared in primetime a decade before its debut followed by “Jonny Quest” by Hanna–Barbera in the 1960s. At the dawn of the seventies ABC put Scooby Doo on the air. A group of teenagers along with their pooch and hippie owner Shaggy took on investigations of mysterious happenings in spooky houses and other nefarious schemes.

The series was an instant smash. Unheard of in TV Land that a cartoon would become such a cultural touchstone that a repeated phrase at the end of each episode would ring down through the decades: ‘we would have gotten away with it too if it hadn’t been for those meddling kids!’.

The program portrayed teenagers as responsible, caring, and ultimately wiser than the adult villains they would apprehend each week. There were ghosts and ghouls aplenty. Shaggy was always scared to death but with the help of Scooby Doo would overcome his fears usually by accident to win the day. Fred, Velma, and Dafney were the trio of calm and cool. Many viewers later stated that Velma was Lesbian. The series had plenty of camp value in it.

As seen in the gallery below, Shaggy and Scooby were often the first to face each week’s featured ghoul. The ‘NEW’ Movies series brought a lot of guest stars to the show including Laurel & Hardy and Batman & Robin. Campy 1970s fun!

I woke up with my sibs every week to tune in for their latest adventure. You learned how to overcome adversity in a way. Scooby and Shaggy despite being scared out of their wits somehow rose to the challenge of catching crooks disguised as ghosts and monsters.

The show became the longest-running of that era. It spawned numerous spin-offs. ‘Scrappy-Doo’ also got his own series! As seen in the gallery below, Scooby’s offspring Scrappy proved so popular there was a spin-off.

I admit by the time I hit my pre-teens the magic of Scooby had waned. There were a lot of spin-offs too. I was hitting those pre–teen years when Saturday morning early wake-ups had lost their magic.

Today the streaming services like Amazon Prime premiered “Scoob!” a brand new animated movie. And of course there were the live action Scooby Doo movies. Puppy power indeed!

Public Television Introduced Sesame Street

PBS Introduces Zoom & The Electric Company

We’re Gonna Zooma Zooma Zooma Zoom! was sung by a group of children who were not professional performers. Each week they scripted the show! This included creating a made-up language called Ubby Dubby.

Skits were performed. Games were invented. And there was a Zoom Guest too. The Guest segment was a real kid who had a hobby/interest to share.

At the end of each show the kids invited the viewers to write in on a postcard to request a Zoom Card. On the front was a color photo of a Zoom kid and on the back was instructions on how to do a craft featured on the show at home.

I sent in for a card once. I got the instructions on how to make a calendar with drawers using matchsticks.

The Zoom kids would sing the address Boston, Mass 0-2-1-3-4….send it to ZOOM! at the end of the show.

Channel Thirteen (PBS) is the flagship station for Public Television in the U.S. Zoom and The Electric Company were produced following the enormous success of Sesame Street which premiered in 1969. Although these shows aired every weekday I always felt like they were part of my Saturday morning media diet.

“Hey you guys!” would be yelled loudly at the top of every episode of The Electric Company. This program taught reading comprehension to kids. Proper sentences, grammar, punctuation, and the rest would be featured in silly skits.

Fargo North was a detective character who used a decoder machine to put words in their proper order to form a sentence.

Rita Moreno (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony winning actress) was a featured player. Morgan Freeman played Easy Reader, a hip guy who read a lot.

There was animation too. The Adventures of Letter Man showed a superhero who had a letter on his chest he would use to spell the correct word to save someone from peril.

There was also a special appearance of a popular superhero—Spidey Adventure Stories! Spider-Man in live action!

Groovy Times

The 1970’s made for a great childhood. The influence of the previous hippie days showed up in the various series featured this week. Commercial TV began to exploit the popularity of rock music, had kids who were not always show-biz types, boys with Red hair became idols, and there was a sense of escape from adult authority.

The following years Cable TV replaced Saturday Morning TV with Nickelodeon, the first Network for Kids. And MTV became the channel for rock music.

As you can see from this blog entry I treasure the memories I have in front of our black and white TV during those groovy times. They had a big influence on me.

For the full 5 minute interview with Sid & Marty Krofft regarding the naming of their Pufnstuf series just click here: https://youtu.be/MPW-8Db0LFI

http://www.BillieHayes.com is the website of the actress famous for playing Witchiepoo, she raises money for her animal rescue charity! Check it out!

“See you next week!”

Thank you Dear Readers!

A United Front

The gate continues to connect our current crisis to ideas expressed in the popular culture.

Perhaps the one franchise that gives me comfort in these trying times is Star Trek.

The late creator of Star Trek Gene Roddenberry.

I started watching the original series when it was first syndicated in the early 1970’s.

At that time the show returned on Saturday mornings with animation. Series regulars also returned to voice their characters.

Today I often think of the original stories as a way into thinking about our present situation.

The starship Enterprise had over 400 passengers. The sick bay had 6 beds.

It was mentioned on many episodes how humanity overcame inequality, war, poverty, and illness.

The sick bay onboard the Enterprise.

As a nation we are still reaching for the stars. Before Covid-19 NASA was talking about Mars.

Around the world there are never ending wars, poverty, and sickness. How can we ever hope to reach distant galaxies when our own is in such disarray?

This is what makes the Star Trek Universe so appealing and comforting. It presents a future in which all of humanity are exploring deep space as a United group.

Any perceived threats are met on a United front as an assault against Earth.

The mythos of the series competed against the realities of the 1960’s. Vietnam, civil rights, and political corruption were raging.

By decade’s end NBC canceled Star Trek after 3 seasons and just 79 episodes.

Viewers campaigned to save the show. Known as Trekkies, fans were devoted enough to get the animated series and a convention at the Statler-Waldorf hotel in Manhattan.

It’s important to note that the term Trekkie became stigmatized by those who felt Star Trek was too altruistic for it’s own good. Most of the fans today use the term Trekker instead.

The franchise now stands at 7 TV series, 13 feature films, and the animated series. Over 700 hours of viewing available on Amazon Prime, Netflix, and CBS All Access.

Discovery and Picard are the current series. I have not seen them since I don’t subscribe to CBS All Access.

I am returning to the original series and all of its sequels and films.

Of all the episodes “The Naked Time” stands out for today. The crew becomes infected with a virus.

Most notably the ship’s helmsman Mr. Sulu runs amok with fever as a barechested swashbuckler.

Mr. Sulu crazy with fever is a fan favorite episode.

Every time the ship’s crew faced illness Dr.McCoy would complain that vaccines take time. His many retorts have become part of the long list of famous lines from the series.

By the end of an episode you knew an answer would be found. We cannot ever be so lucky in reality.

But, Star Trek makes you feel better about humanity’s prospects for survival.

The Vulcans are a race of half-human people ruled by logic. Mr. Spock represents them as chief Science Officer. His most famous line is “Live Long and Prosper”.

As a signifier of how positive the affect the series has had on its viewers 1 in 3 Americans are fans.

Around the world millions more are dedicated to its ideals of possibilities and respect for all cultures.

Left-Right: Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy), Admiral James T. Kirk (William Shatner), and Dr. Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy (Deforest Kelly). Star Trek The Motion Picture (Paramount 1979)

The United front of science fiction must still be an aim for humanity. The United Federation of Planets may still be fiction but we at least have a United Nations in reality.

I am a Trekkie. After a long break from it I have come back to Star Trek. Now there are many episodes to explore and favorite films to enjoy all over again.

Future blogs of The Gate will discuss Star Trek’s philosophy as well.

Please keep in mind this statement at the end of the first Star Trek feature film in 1979—The Human Adventure is Just Beginning…

Batman Turns 80

May 1939 was the debut of The Batman in National Comics.

Bob Kane and Bill Finger introduced the world to their crimefighter 80 years ago. This blog entry are just my thoughts about the character. Caped Crusader, Dark Knight, or World’s Greatest Detective are all fitting monikers used over the years.

38 years on there would be the television debut of the Batman character in a primetime series that would air twice a week. Several episodes would be two parts long featuring a cliff-hanger ending in part 1 and concluded the next night. ABC aired the show for 3 seasons. This was my first memory of Batman. My generation saw the reruns on New York’s local stations WPIX 11 and WNEW 5 during the 1970s.

After school the reruns of Batman were always fun to watch despite not seeing the program in color as intended until the 1980s! We had a black and white set even after the networks were broadcasting in color. As a kid I did not care because the show was great. Several of the episodes were based directly on Batman comics published during the 1940s–1950s.

  • The episodes “Hi Diddle Riddle” and “Smack in the Middle” were adaptations of “Remarkable Ruse of the Riddler” from Batman #171 (May 1965), written by Gardner Fox; in it, the Riddler, jealous of the attention Batman is giving the Mole Hill Mob, arranges a trap so Batman will apprehend the gang and give the Riddler the Caped Crusader’s undivided attention.
  • Many events of the episodes “The Joker Is Wild” and “Batman Is Riled” are based on the silver age comic book story “The Joker’s Utility Belt” from Batman #73 (October 1952) by David Vern Reed.
  • The episodes “Instant Freeze” and “Rats Like Cheese” were inspired by “The Ice Crimes of Mr. Zero” from Batman #121 (February 1959) by Dave Wood and Sheldon Moldoff.

The series was so popular that a movie was produced for theatrical release. This would air during Superhero Week on ABC-TV’s 4:30 movie in New York. I watched it many times in my childhood.

Adam West’s Batman was funny, living pop art, and corny. For a kid it was perfect. I think the 1966 series is the most enjoyable of all the screen incarnations of the character.

The fight scenes between Batman & Robin and their nemesis plus henchmen were filmed at an oblique angle (aka Dutch) to literally show they were crooked! The animated comic balloons appeared on screen to spell out the sounds like in the comic books—Biff!, Pow!, and Splat!

The Greenway Productions team captured what comic books look like on the page. Never taking itself too seriously was the key to unlocking the imagination of its viewers. A line-up of movie stars all played the villains that to this day are hard to match. The later features on film in the 1990s attempted to place big stars as Batman and as various villains to mixed results.

On the small & big screen.
Top Row: Adam West, Michael Keaton and Christian Bale as Batman.
Bottom Row: Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, and Oscar Winner, the late Heath Ledger.

When the dynamic duo climbed up building walls there would be a cameo by a star or a fictional character looking out their window. They would have some chit chat that was quite funny. On YouTube their listed as “Window Cameos”.

You never knew who might open their window during a bat climb. Dick Clark meets the dynamic duo!
Edward G. Robinson makes a cameo!

Nelson Riddle provided a jazzy music score to accompany the action in Batman. Unfortunately the attempt to spin-off a Batgirl series failed.

However Green Hornet and Kato did get a full season of episodes. And the only characters billed as guest heroes! Yvonne Craig as Batgirl was the first time on television that a female superhero was featured in an ongoing role. Today, “Supergirl” is a prime-time series.

Created by William Dozier who was also the show’s narrator, Batman aired on ABC at 7:30pm between 1966—1969.
Van Williams as Green Hornet & Bruce Lee as Kato. It ran 1 season; 1966-1967.

I always thought that Bob Kane and Bill Finger’s creation had the best rogues gallery. The Joker (Cesar Romero) , The Riddler (Frank Gorshin), The Penguin (Burgess Meredith), and Catwoman (Julie Newmar) were the tops for me.

Many of the villains were taken directly from Batman comic books. There were also original characters featured since many celebrities of that time wanted to appear on the show. Milton Berle (TV’s first star) as Louie The Lilac, Carolyn Jones as Marsha Queen of Diamonds, and Victor Buono as King Tut are just a few of the many colorful villains added to the rogues gallery of Gotham.

37 villains appeared on the show. Click here for a full list: https://batman.fandom.com/wiki/Villains_of_Batman_%281960s_series%29

In 2016, television critics Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz ranked Batman as the 82nd greatest American television show of all time.
Mr. Sepinwall is my hiusband’s cousin and the best TV critic in the USA

Because of the series I then followed animated series that featured Batman. Bob Kane created the animated series “Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse” as a comedic series based upon his Batman characters.

The catmobile would roar out of a cave with Courageous Cat pointing his sky writing gun at the sky to reveal the opening title.

Superfriends was a weekly show featured on Saturday mornings in the 1970s. I also began reading the comics. Reading the Batman comics from the 1950’s, 1960’s, and 1970s I saw the evolution of the characters.

Frank Gorshin (Left) and John Astin (Right) as Riddler on “Batman” (1966)
Cory Michael Smith as Riddler with
Robin Lord Taylor as Penguin on “Gotham” (2019)

I found out the series’ first season made most of the episode titles rhyme, “Hi Diddle Riddle, Smack In The Middle” was the premiere. It was a 2 parter that featured Frank Gorshin as The Riddler.

Later, in the 1990s, Warners produced Batman The Animated Series featuring the voice of Mark Hamill (Star Wars) as The Joker. This show captured the noir look of the 1940s Batman.

Batman: The Animated Series is an American animated television series based on the DC Comics superhero Batman. Developed by Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski and produced by Warner Bros. Animation, it originally aired on Fox Kids from September 5, 1992, to September 15, 1995, with a total of 85 episodes.  For the final fifteen episodes, the series was given the on-screen title The Adventures of Batman & Robin, which was also used for reruns of earlier episodes. The series became the first in the continuity of the shared DC animated universe; spawning further animated TV series, feature films, comic books and video games with most of the same creative talent.

During the 80 years of Batman comic books different creative teams were entrusted with the growing legacy of Batman. When it began there was no Robin. The Batmobile looked different than it does now. Renderings of villains changed as well from era to era. Gadgets were added like the Bat-arang, Bat-rope, and everything else that you can think that fits his crimefighting techniques.

In the printed issues of DC comics Batman was known as The World’s Greatest Detective. Take that Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, and Miss Marple! Then I discovered how much better the actual stories could be when produced in serial form week after week. In fact, Batman was the only prime-time show to air twice a week in its first 2 seasons other than the Soap Opera, “Peyton Place”.

The Bat-Copter, Bat-Boat, and Bat-Cycle were added over time. The series featured them when the series’ ratings began to fall in Season 3.

My first encounters with Batman on the page was in the 1970s. Neal Adams was drawing him. I was shocked how dark the stories were compared with the bright TV show. I think there are many interpretations I like but my first sight of it was that splendid TV series. The serialized format of the show evoked the movie serial of Batman appearing in theaters in the 1940s.

Just look for the word Omnibus in the title to find a collection of a specific artist.

Grant Morrison was the most recent series I read in the last few years. I loved this updated version. There was even a run of comics called “Batman Incorporated” in which every nation got their own Batman to fight crime.

Issue #1 of Batman Incorporated.

Over the last 80 years Batman has refelected our deepest fears of a world too chaotic to tame. Every generation has their Batman. For me it is the late Adam West. Then screen actor Michael Keaton starred in the feature film directed by Tim Burton in 1989. Following a sequel, “Batman Returns”, Val Kilmer (“Batman Forever”), George Clooney (“Batman & Robin”), Christian Bale (“Batman Begins”, “The Dark Knight”, and “The Dark Knight Rises”), and Ben Affleck (“Batman vs Superman”, “Justice League”) have played Batman in the movies.

Despite initial worry from fans, Michael Keaton was fine as Batman.
In 23 years time the Batcave went from technicolor to dark.
A Dark Knight of the media age emerged on screen.

********************************
Warner Bros featured the music of Prince, their biggest music star at the time, in the film.
Despite negative critical reaction, the film was a blockbuster.

The look Warner Bros. created with Tim Burton’s dark vision of the world of Batman stood in deep contrast with the TV series. This more serious treatment would be favored in the 1990s and 2000s.

Imagination is a powerful tool that develops in childhood. I had Batman toys in the 1970s. Played out adventures with friends in the park. The reason it’s important to read at least some of the stories on the page is simply because there are thousands to choose from each decade. You can see what each passing era was like for the characters and each creative team that was used to animate the adventures.

Every time Batman celebrates a milestone anniversary the comic book shops have compilations of the best Batman stories from each decade. There have been numerous comic book series devoted to the characters featured in Batman stories. Even Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne’s butler and surrogate father had his own series of comics.

The Batman character has appeared in TV, radio and movie serials, feature films, video games and animation. When he debuted in 1939 all of the new forms he would take only happened because audiences have been attracted to the stories. The people that got Batman on the air in 1966 were fans of the character.

Where does he get those wonderful toys?” is a line from the movie “Batman” in 1989, spoken by The Joker, played by Jack Nicholson. This line is probably the most memorable in the script. It evokes the countless number of toys based on the characters in Batman produced over 8 decades. There are Billions of dollars worth of toys every year dedicated to this enduring legend.

Since the 1940s Batman action figures have been produced. Above is pictured an 8 figure tribute.

The past 5 years, “Gotham” has aired on Fox as the latest TV version of Batman. For the first time the Batman character is not shown until the final episode which just aired a few weeks ago.

Focusing on the anarchy of a city wracked by serial crime and a crimefighter named James Gordon. The origins of the classic villains are depicted. Penguin, Riddler, and Selena Kyle (Catwoman) are present during the entire series. The origins of The Joker, Mad Hatter, Mr. Freeze, and Bane are depicted.

The noir series was so dark I had to watch with the lights off to see it! There was a viewer discretion bumper at the beginning of every episode. The stylized violence was still the most graphic I have ever seen on a network show. The times did indeed change a lot.

Gotham is an American crime drama television series developed by Bruno Heller and based on characters published by DC Comics and appearing in the Batman franchise, primarily those of James Gordon and Bruce WayneDanny Cannon directed the pilot, and he is an executive producer along with Heller. The series stars Ben McKenzie as the young James Gordon. It premiered on Fox on September 22, 2014 and concluded on April 25, 2019.

No matter how the fortunes have changed for this enduring character in recent times there will most certainly be many more adventures written and performed in the next 80 years.

Warner Bros. announced a new feature film, “The Batman”, to premiere in 2021. Robert Pattinson (Twilight) will become the youngest actor to play the Dark Knight.

72 Years of The Batman. (Above) Every Bat symbol drawn to represent the enduring legacy of The World’s Greatest Detective

Exclusive Funko Pop!

All the retailers that carry the Pop! collectibles offer specific items that are only sold by each outlet. There is currently a George R.R. Martin pop at Barnes & Noble only. This is a B & N exclusive. There is a sticker on the front of the Pop box to indicate this status.

Retailers began exclusive packaging on things like Blu-rays a while back. To increase traffic they started to offer items you could not get online. The treasure hunt aspect of finding a desired item enabled retailers to get some folks away from just clicking their mouse at home.

The demand for certain releases across the collectibles landscape has been quite eye-opening. Last month Amazon offered pre-orders for the new Queen Pops. Now they are only offering third party sellers for them. And the prices can become insane.

If you are lucky to live in a place where there are lots of choice you can usually still find them at a reasonable price.

For exclusives you should check online to see what items are being released. When visiting retailers you can browse through to find their exclusives. Always look for the sticker that says Exclusive.

My local B & N had a Hermione Granger Pop that was an Exclusive from a Funko Pop Convention! The price was $14.95. Cool item.

FYE will have an exclusive Freddie Mercury Pop! A diamond glitter pop styled after the rock icon’s stage wear on Queen’s Rock N America Tour in the summer of 1982 in support of Hot Space. This turned out to be his final US appearances.

Hot Topic carried an exclusive Bellatrix Lestrange pop, a villain in the Harry Potter series.

Store to store; region to region. These factors decide what figures you will find in your local shops. My closest B & N loves Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, and the video game Fortnite. These are heavily carried.

Check out your local places first. Then branch out to see what you can find elsewhere.

A B & N Exclusive!

A Hot Topic Exclusive!
FYE Exclusive!

Next Blog: Rock Stars At Home/Book Review

Rudolph The Original Misfit/Essay

Growing up as an American you take a lot for granted.  When the holidays roll around there are an embarrassment of riches.  Holiday parties at school and relatives’ homes; shopping for toys.

Along with all the other goodies came annual airings of specials on network television.  Premiering in 1964 on NBC, “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer”, produced by Arthur Rankin and Jules Bass, has become the longest running special of them all.  Like the song says Rudolph really has gone down in history!

My family had four kids.  My two older brothers and younger sister would watch every special in December.  Ranking Bass Productions followed the success of ‘Rudolph’ with “Frosty The Snowman”, “Santa Clause Is Coming To Town”, and my other favorite—“The Year Without A Santa Clause”.

Except for ‘Frosty’ the programs were done in stop motion which made the characters look all too real.  Rudolph’s nose looked like an electric night light.  And the visuals were cool.  The snowy landscape of Christmas town is filled with magic. 

Rudolph had a message that made a strong impression too.  The story related how Rudolph gets ostricized for not fitting in with other reindeer.  Running away from home he meets an elf named Hermie who wants to be a dentist.  They are both misfits! 

On their journey they meet others who do not fit into life either including a prospector named Cornelius who never finds gold.  There is an island of misfit toys.  Santa rejects certain toys who are deemed ill equipped to bring joy to a child.  This seemed pretty mature for a kid’s special.  But then again, Charles Schulz was delivering messages about depression and phobias in his Peanuts specials that began around this same time.

“The Year Without A Santa Clause” premiered in 1974 just before my 7th birthday.  It related the tale of that one year when Santa caught the flu.  Christmas would have to be cancelled.  Two goofy elves take a reindeer and fly away to change Santa’s mind.  Their idea is to collect letters from children to bring back to the North Pole.  Along the way they get detoured to the lair of Snow Miser and Heat Miser.  Each miser gets a vaudeville like show number to perform.  The songs in this special became classics along with the characters. 

 



Snow Miser (voiced by Dick Shawn) and Heat Miser (voiced by George S. Irving).  
A couple of misfits.

To all the misfits out there: Happy Holidays!