Thursday, September 27, 2012
The Three Stooges is currently showing on AMC, so I thought I'd reprint this article I wrote on the Stoogeum, which originally appeared in AntiqueWeek.
“Dewey, Burnham, and Howe.” “Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.” “Moe! Larry! The Cheese!”
If the above phrases don’t make you chortle, chuckle, grin, or guffaw, you have no soul. Okay, that’s more than a little hyperbolic, but even those who don’t quite “get” the pinching, poking, pummeling antics of The Three Stooges will have to admit that the tussling trio is one of the most popular comedy teams of all time, arguably more well-known than such dynastic duos as Abbot and Costello and Laurel and Hardy.
Originally a part of the vaudeville comedy team Ted Healy and His Stooges, which began performing in 1925, the Stooges didn’t officially became The Three Stooges until 1934, when they broke away from Healy and signed with Columbia pictures. During their 23 years at Columbia, the Stooges starred in five features and 190 film shorts.
Remnants from the Stooges’ Columbia days and much more are on display at The Stoogeum museum, a three-story, 10,000-square-foot facility billed as “the world’s first and only museum of Three Stooges memorabilia.” In addition to such offerings as a research library, an 85-seat theater, and a 16mm film storage vault, the museum boasts nearly 100,000 pieces of Three Stooges artifacts, from games to toys to movie props to costumes to artwork to rare photos (spanning 50 years of Stooges history).
The Stoogeum is home to a number of unique items, including Joe Besser’s passport, Larry’s driver’s license, and Shemp’s discharge from the United States Army. One of the coolest one-of-a-kind items currently on display at the Stoogeum is a custom Three Stooges pinball machine, which was built and designed by Eric Strangeway. The pinball is set up on free play, as is a 1984 arcade game manufactured by Mylstar. There’s even a Three Stooges slot machine customers can try their luck on.
Regrettably, unlike most museums, The Stoogeum does not keep regular hours. Rather, they are only open approximately one day per month (admission is free, but visitors should feel free to make a donation). To find out when you can get your “nyuks” on at The Stoogeum, check their website.
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Monday, September 17, 2012
My article on STNG appeared in a recent issue of AntiqueWeek. Here it is, reprinted:
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994), a series that both divided and united fans of the beloved original Star Trek (1966-1969). Some welcomed the new program with open arms while others shunned its bald, British captain, its alliance with the hated Klingons, and its kinder, gentler view of Starfleet—the diplomatic Captain Picard was much less of a space cowboy than the roguish Captain Kirk.
Over time, Star Trek: The Next Generation, which takes place nearly a century after Star Trek: The Original Series (as it’s come to be called), has become a classic series in its own right, creating a rabid fan base that is unabashedly devoted to Picard (Patrick Stewart), Commander William Riker (Jonathan Stewart), Lieutenant Commander Data (Brent Spiner), Chief Engineer Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton), and the other crewmembers of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D.
In 1988, while the show was still getting its sea legs (or should that be “space legs”?), Galoob produced a set of six STNG action figures, which were roughly the same scale as the famous line of 3 3/4″ Star Wars toys from Kenner. The set included Picard, Riker, Data, La Forge, Lieutenant Worf (Michael Dorn), and Security Chief Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby).
When the set came out, there were paint color errors on several of the characters’ faces, resulting in a feeding frenzy for Data error figures. The standard flesh-faced Data was common, selling for just a few dollars above retail, but speckle-faced Data, dark tan-face Data, and blue-face Data were selling on the aftermarket for upwards of $100 each. These days, however, the prices have dropped considerably: all a six characters, regardless of errors, can easily be found for as little as $6-$12 each in the original packaging.
Galoob released three vehicles in conjunction with its freshman STNG action figure set: a very nicely detailed die-cast Enterprise 1701-D ($35 MIP), a Ferengi Fighter ($100 MIP), and a Shuttlecraft Galileo ($65 MIP).
Four alien figures followed: Antican (cat-like creature), Q (immortal, god-like being), Selay (a snake-like alien), and Ferengi (a greedy, big-eared species). The aliens, which were produced in fewer numbers than the Enterprise crew, sold for around $25-$45 apiece on the aftermarket back in the day, but prices have now settled into the $15-$20 range.
Numerous Star Trek: The Next Generation collectibles have followed in the wake of those first toys, including a variety of mass market trading cards, action figures, comic books, and movie-based items (STNG spawned four films), along with limited edition merchandise from the likes of The Franklin Mint and Diamond Select Toys.
A recent search of completed eBay auctions turned up the following:
Williams pinball machine: $4,605
Starfleet MK VII Tricorder movie prop: $528
Pewter Claw & Ball Gavel produced by Franklin Mint: $405
Unopened USS Enterprise-D telephone: $399
Complete cast signed photograph: $350
Resistance is Futile Borg sculpture: $325
Halliburton metal promotional case: $300
3D Tridimensional Chess Set produced by Franklin Mint: $285
Porcelain collector’s plate created by David R. Roesler (#305 of 350): $199
Unopened USS Enterprise NCC-1701 D from Diamond Select Toys: $147.50
Unopened Data action figure with cat/violin from Diamond Select Toys: $152.50
Star Trek: The Next Generation fandom is still going strong. To commemorate the show’s Silver Anniversary, the main cast members are reuniting at the forthcoming Wizard World Austin Comic Con, taking place October 26-28 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas (check www.wizardworld.com/home-tx.html for more details). This follows on the heels of the Canadian reunion at the Calagary Comic and Entertainment Expo held in April earlier this year.
Saturday, September 15, 2012
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
ARLINGON, TX—Back in 2010, two comic book enthusiasts living in North Texas had a conversation about the lack of small, frequent conventions in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. The brainstorming session led to the North Texas Comic Book Shows, a quarterly mini-con held in Arlington (home of the Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers), which is centrally located between Dallas and Fort Worth.
The first of the North Texas Comic Book Shows was held Oct. 21, 2011 at the Hilton Hotel, drawing just four dealers and 70 customers. The ensuing shows have grown exponentially (the July event had 70 customers the first hour), with the upcoming first anniversary edition—taking place Oct. 6 at the The Crowne Plaza Suites—promising a packed convention hall filled with retro action figures, classic comic books, vintage paperbacks, original art, super-hero model kits, old magazines, and other collectibles and curios.
In addition to having comics-related memorabilia for sale, the show will offer prize drawings. To receive an extra ticket for a chance at a prize, simply bring in a non-perishable food item, the accumulation of which will benefit area food banks.
Past North Texas Comic Book Shows have featured local creators (such as Marvel Comics artist Sam de la Rosa), and the forthcoming show is no different. The special guest this time around is Jason Adams, a trading card artist who has done comic book and Star Wars work for such companies as Topps and Upper Deck.
Venom artist Sam de la Rosa, shown here with the winner of a signed piece of art, was a guest at a previous edition of the North Texas Comic Book Shows.