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PCHOF’18 POPS! for Patients Spreads Joy Through Funko Toys

pchof pops for patients

pchof pops for patientsIf 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!”

pchof pops for patients

pchof pops for patientsThere 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!


PCHOF’18 – Warhammer Quest Leads to Hall of Fame

Warhammer

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.

WarhammerThirty 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.

WarhammerIn 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.

Warhammer

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.


PCHOF’18 He-Man, Masters of the Universe Power Their Way Into Hall

he man battle catHe-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.

masters of the universe cast

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.

castle grayskull

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.

Skeletor figure

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.

she ra evil lynGirls 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.


PCHOF’18 Power Rangers Make Mighty Addition to Pop Culture Hall

power rangers

power rangersSaban’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.”

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.”

power rangers

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.

power rangersDespite 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.)

power rangers

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.


PCHOF’18 Steve Geppi, Diamond Distributors Join Hall of Fame

steve geppi

steve geppiOne of the biggest success stories in comic book history isn’t known for drawing or writing any comics. In fact, he’s not really known for any part of the creation of comics. Steve Geppi is the founder of Diamond Comic Distributors, who have become a titan – actually THE titan in the comics distribution business.

For his game-changing volume of work in the comics industry, Steve Geppi is an inductee of the Pop Culture Hall of Fame for 2018.

In in 1972 when he was in his early 20s, Geppi rediscovered his love of comics when he found his nephew reading an old Batman comic. He bought some second-hand comics from a woman on his mail delivery route, then began hitting flea markets and comic shows looking to trade.

Those trades eventually became sales, and he quit his regular job as a mailman to focus on attending more comics shows. in 1974 he opened his first comic book store, although he realized there was even more money to be made as the middleman who distributes the product to others. He eventually bought New Media/Irjax, a once large but then struggling distributor and created Diamond Comic Distributors.

steve geppi

As other competitors attempted to copy his business model, they failed, folded, and sold to Geppi, increasing his market share even further. Reaching out to fans, he started a magazine called “Previews” to, well, preview upcoming titles to consumers. There were no direct sales to consumers, but, they could pester their local comic book store to carry the titles they wanted.

Geppi has also become a comics publisher, producing nicely packaged reprints of old comics from EC and Disney. Many of these titles are from the same era when he was a child, another chance to rekindle his love of old comics.


PCHOF’18 Heats Up with Inductee Howard Chan of Hot Toys

howard chan hot toys

howard chan hot toysWhen looking at a photograph of a Hot Toys figure, one can’t help but think they’re looking a photo of the actual subject. The level of detail and the realism of the textures and surfaces are astonishing to see.

For bringing that kind of realism to the collectible business, Howard Chan, founder of Hot Toys, is a 2018 inductee of the Pop Culture Hall of Fame.

Known mostly for their large (1/6 scale, roughly a foot tall) superhero figures, Hot Toys extends to other parts of pop culture and entertainment as well. Characters from Star Wars, Back to the Future, and RoboCop are among other well-known movies that have been immortalized by the company.

Chan got his start as a screenwriter for the Hong Kong based television station TVB. He decided to open an action figure shop in Hong Kong in the late ’90s, called, interestingly, Cool Toys. There were numerous large-scale figures available at the time, but they were more toylike in look and detail. Chan wanted to make something more.

howard chan hot toys

His first sculptures were of Mission Impossible’s Ethan Hunt, George Lucas, and Neo from the Matrix. These were not officially endorsed, small quantity offerings, but the success convinced him to up his game. “It was a huge hurdle… we were trying to get licenses through Hong Kong agents, and the agents asked ‘what are action figures?’” he said.

In 2000, he produced the first of his series of military figures, an F-14 Tomcat pilot. By creating a “generic” character, licensing issues weren’t a factor, and he was able to build his reputation quickly before stepping back into pop culture figures.

howard chan hot toysWith the world of action figures now paying attention, Chan was able to latch onto the Star Wars train and produce figures from those movies. He also took the innovative step of teaming up with Sideshow Collectibles to produce exclusive figures for that prominent distributor. The tandem proved powerful, and Marvel, DC and others were now queuing up to do business with Hot Toys as well.

No artistic detail or business detail for a Hot Toys offering escapes his eye. To this day, even as the head of the company, he insists that every single new figure goes through his rigorous processes.