The lifeblood of the Pop Culture Hall of Fame has always been collectibles. Comics, figures, games and the people behind them have only become a bigger part of pop culture as we’ve moved into the 2010’s. With so much out there, how can we make sure it’s preserved and accessible? Our close partners at hobbyDB recently appeared on The Fandom Files to discuss their goal of documenting every collectible ever made, along with everything you can do on the site right now. Take a listen and get up to speed!
Steve Geppi, who has made a career of distributing comic books to millions of readers (and the stores they shop in) has decided more comics belong in the library.
The Library of Congress, specifically. And we’re talking about over 3,000 items, all donated from the recently closed Geppi Collection of Comics and Arts. The museum was around for over a decade in Baltimore, full of rare comics dating all the way back to the Golden Age, which began in the late 1930s with the introduction of Batman and Superman.
The donation also includes movie posters as well as remnants of the old printing process, such as woodblock print plates.
According to Carla Hayden, a spokesperson at the Library of Congress, the collection was already the home to the nation’s largest collection of comic books, cartoon art and related ephemera. The Library already held more than 140,000 issues of some 13,000 comic book titles, also dating back to the 1930s. Many firsts and some of the most important comics in history are there, including the first comic book sold on newsstands, the first comics featuring Batman and other iconic characters, such as All-Star Comics #8, with the first appearance of Wonder Woman. Incredibly, Geppi’s donation will include many issues that weren’t already in the archive.
Geppi is proud of his contribution. “When I began collecting comic books as a young boy and then in earnest in 1972, I would have never dreamed that a major portion of my collection would find a home at the Library of Congress, alongside the papers of 23 presidents, the Gutenberg Bible and Thomas Jefferson’s library,” said Geppi. “This gift will help celebrate the history of comics and pop culture and their role in promoting literacy.”
Besides comics, Geppi is donating items representing various pop culture icons. Included are some Beatles memorabilia, a collection of flicker rings of comic book characters and political figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., Richard Outcault’s The Yellow Kid printing blocks and an original Kodak No. 2 Brownie camera model F. His donation doesn’t include the entire contents of the Geppi Collection of Comics and Arts… yet. He will consider future donations as well. “I view this newly established connection to the Library of Congress as the beginning of a long-term relationship,” said Geppi.
Geppi is a 2018 Inductee in the Pop Culture Hall of Fame for his role in creating the modern model of publishing and selling comics via Diamond Comic Distributors. We are proud of you, Steve!
If you’re a kid experiencing an extended stay in the hospital, it’s nice to have a companion pop into your life. An organization called POPS! for Patients is making that happen in the form of donated Funko Pop! figures. Since August of 2016, they’ve donated almost 10,000 figures to kids in the U.S and other countries, and it just keeps growing.
For their innovative and charitable efforts, Randy Lee and Krysten Barrera, founders of POPS! For Patients are 2018 inductees of the Pop Culture Hall of Fame.
Both Lee and Barrera saw their own children struggle during extended hospital stays in recent years. “We both personally know how sad it is to be stuck in the hospital, so we decided to give back and bring joy to kids in the form of POPS!” he said.
Lee was an avid collector of Pop! toys for himself, but now sees this cause as his new passion. “I had been collecting them for a few years but recently slowed down significantly,” he said. “I needed to focus on having the necessary funds required to attend all of the shows and events we are being invited to lately. It’s been a trade-off I’m happy to make!”
There are many ways people can help out. Anyone can send child-friendly POP! donations to the address on their website (popsforpatients.org) or their media channels (@popsforpatients). Lee also suggests “Or reach out, form a team in your area, and help your own local hospital.” Some companies have partnered with POPS! For Patents by channeling part of their Funko toy sales proceeds to the cause. Their website includes details on all the ways to help. The P4P team also encourages you to get involved and support your own local Children’s Hospital.
“We couldn’t do this without our volunteers and generous donors,” Lee said. “We’re a passionate, positive, and confident example of a “little engine that could” so please jump on board as we embark into year 3 of the #P4PWorldwide movement!
Ever since Dungeons and Dragons created a niche for long-term cooperative gaming, players have been looking for additional worlds in which to spend even more time. Warhammer has become perhaps the biggest universe to come along.
Thirty plus years of ever-expanding worlds and creative play make Warhammer a 2018 inductee of the Pop Culture Hall of Fame.
The Warhammer series of tabletop games started in the 1980s emphasizing thoughtful, cooperative team play over competition. (Despite the term “cooperative,” player are ultimately competing with each other). The series has gone from the original Warhammer Fantasy Battle’s Earth-like setting to the more recent Warhammer 40,000, with its futuristic, planet-hopping storyline. Even that last one has been around for thirty years now, debuting in 1987. Warhammer 40,000 has also spawned a series of video games that play off of the same themes.
In addition to maps that were constructed ahead of time, Warhammer relied on card play to help randomize the action and adventure. The game came to life through miniature figures. In fact, many players consider Warhammer to be a hobby more than a game. Decorating the figures and even creating landscaped tabletops consumes even more time than actual gameplay for many participants.
Warhammer Quest was primarily written by Andy Jones. Warhammer Quest was designed as a four-player game of exploration and battles. The main Warriors were a Barbarian, And Elf, a Dwarf, and a Wizard, each with different capabilities and strengths.
As the game grew and evolved, the cards and figures became collectibles unto themselves. When new universes were released, older ones continued to be updated and supported, so players could have several different adventures going at a time.
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, was perhaps the most popular cartoon of the 1980s. The action figures and playsets based on the adventures of Skeletor, She-Ra, Stinkor and the rest were huge sellers. Or was it the other way around, with the toys first and then the cartoons? Over thirty years after their introduction, the characters remain as popular as ever.
For all of those reasons, the Masters of the Universe are being inducted into the Pop Culture Hall of Fame in the “Brands and Characters” category. In fact, when you look at it a certain way, it’s impossible to separate the brand from the characters since they were so intertwined.
Prince Adam of Eternia, and his loyal followers were under constant threat from Skeletor and his minions. Adam’s secret weapon, of course, was a mighty sword. When he held it up and uttered “By the Power of Grayskull!” he was transformed into the mighty He-Man.
Plots were secondary to the action, but “MOTU” was a master class in character development. Each character, good or evil, had a reason to exist and a special personality or power to differentiate them from everyone else. And when the characters are that essential, the toys will be as well.
Pretty much every single character to appear on the show was made into an action figure, some with crazy features. Moss Man and Stinkor came with distinct aromas. Tri-Klops and Trap Jaw had moving facial features. Ram Man was a spring-loaded battering ram. The crown jewel of the toys was the Castle Grayskull playset, a creepily faithful recreation of Skeletor’s object of desire. Later, more realistic versions of the castle have been produced, but most kids would argue the original was perfect right out of the gate.
He-Man was even the subject of a collectible so rare that its very existence is still debated. Wonder Bread offered a specially decorated He-Man figure at one point, but existing copies are so unheard of that many collectors think of it as a hoax.
Girls even had good reason to enjoy the stories of Eternia, with She-Ra and Evil-Lyn and others who were not damsels in distress, but heroes and villains mixing it up and fighting it out week after week.
While the initial heyday of the cartoon ended in the mid-1980s, they never went away. With the rise of the internet, interest in the MOTU world hit a fever pitch, culminating with occasional re-issues and even new stories and adventures to follow. That enduring power is enough to get He-Man and his companions into the Pop Culture Hall of Fame.
Saban’s Power Rangers have morphed into so many versions over the last 25 years, it’s almost hard to count all the different variations. But with each new generation comes continued popularity on TV, movies, comics and merchandising.
For such staying power, the Power Rangers are 2018 inductees of the Pop Culture Hall of Fame.
The show began as the popular “Super Sentai” series in Japan in 1992. Saban Entertainment thought it would be a good fit in the U.S. market with some modifications. Instead of dubbing English over existing footage or adding subtitles, Saban kept the scenes of masked heroes fighting giant monsters, but filmed new Americanized scenes to wrap around that action. The transition was seamless enough that American kids instantly fell in love with the new show, renamed “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.”
Kids also embraced the toys and action figures to the tune of some $6 billion by 2001. Bandai, a Japanese company, created the early versions of the toys. The show was a huge hit for the fledgling Fox Network, one of the early successes along with “The Simpsons.”
Rather than sit still, the show evolved every few years, with newly designed hero characters (still courtesy of the Japanese production) and new American scenes with perpetually young new actors. So far, there have been 20 different mutations of the Power Rangers on television, plus three theatrical movies. Later series included more original footage including new characters and new battle scenes. but at its core, the show has always been derived from the Super Sentai series.
Despite the constant evolution, the Power Rangers kept consistent with some core principles of the show. Power Rangers are not allowed to use their powers for personal gain or for escalating a fight. Also, they can’t divulge their secret identities. (Either violation could result in losing their powers.)
The American version of the show went through several production companies, and is now produced by Hasbro who bought the rights from Saban earlier this year. Considering the billions of dollars in revenue from merchandising (especially toys), the Hasbro connection makes total sense.
Twenty-five years after its debut, the Power Rangers continue to morph into new and exciting adventures. That kind of endurance is worthy of the Pop Culture Hall of Fame.