Wednesday, June 22, 2016

'Augmented reality' for collector pins? Yes, and more out now from FanSets—aka my old buddy Dan Madsen!

Some of just the first offerings from Fan Sets
It's the 50th! Everyone is looking for a new way to show and celebrate their Trekness... and now here's a cutting-edge spin on an old favorite from none other than my buddy and colleague Dan Madsen.

His new company FanSets just launched with Dan, founder of the former longtime Official Star Trek Fan Club and my boss-publisher for the late great Communicator mag, and two partners in a great new enterprise: combining official and beloved 2-inch Star Trek character and ship pens in a bunch of new ideas for wearing and display—including a blow-your-mind way to see and enjoy pins in a whole new way!

Wait, what? you're saying by now: 
Pins are kinda retro, old-school —and yet still fun for when you can’t cosplay and just want to wear a favorite ship or character. But what's cutting-edge about a pin?

My annual catch-up with Dan at San Diego Comic-Con
"It’s the Augmented Reality pins," Dan told me in an exclusive chat. "We are working with a company out of Indonesia that is one of the top three Augmented Reality companies in the world. Essentially, what this is, is—let’s take the Enterprise pin: You'll be able to take an app that we’ll provide and, when you see that pin on anyone, hold your smartphone or your tablet up to it for a second–and suddenly the Enterprise will come alive, out of the pin: it will literally be 3-D and move—shoot off into warp drive, with music and sound effects."

Or, say, point your app'd smartphone at one or more certain characters on a transporter pad and get a 3-D holographic beam-out effect, with voices and music. Or stand your Enterprise pin next to your buddy with her Klingon ship, and point again:  "The Enterprise will come out of the pin, the Klingon will come out of the pin, and they’ll have a space battle right there on your phone! Firing back and forth at each other."

Dan says he and FanSet partners Lew Halboth (28 years in the video game industry) and John Garrison(his industrial background backed by comics fandom) expect to have the first AR pin out by Christmas, and to demo the system for fans at "STLV"Creation Vegas Khaann. But long before then, there are lots of other lines coming—and an ever-growing batch of the basic pins are up at the website right now."The fun thing is, not only can you wear them, you can display them," Dan says. "If you decide today you feel like wearing Sisko, then you put Sisko on and wear him— then you come home and you put him back in your display."

They have "tons" of these pins planned—from basic character and ship pins by the "hundreds" of styles, where minor characters like M'Ress are just the start (she's in the first 50). "She's one of the coolest pins, to me," Dan says. "That’s just an example of how we’re going into more of the minor characters that you don’t see turning up on most merchandise, if at all."

But you can also look for everything from pins with moveable parts, to autograph pins (to get and wear your favorite actor's inking), to "alphabet" pins sporting a notable of that letter (S with a Spock!) ... to the AR pins and app. The autograph pins are slightly larger, but "not so heavy they weigh down your jacket!"—and take any pen used for signing regular photos.

"By Vegas in August, we will probably have 50-70 different ships and characters, and probably have some of the first autograph pins there for the actors who are appearing," Dan says. He's especially proud of the vibrant colors and the enameling on even the basic pins: "The website does not do these colors justice! The little Chakotay pin—it's only two inches tall, but you can see in detail the little tattoo on his forehead."

And by the end of the year we're going to be launching a collector’s club, so that people can not only get exclusive pins but get access to order first on our limited- edition pins—like a run of 1701 pins, and once they’re gone, they’re gone."

Look for a special FanSets display case coming, too. "The fun thing is, not only can you wear them, you can display them," he notes. "If you decide today you feel like wearing, you know, Sisko, then you put Sisko on and wear him— then you come home and you put him back in your display." You can collect them all, he adds—or maybe just the original series. Or Next Generation or Voyager, or just the ships, or the captains...and so on.

Dan was most enthused and insistent that his partners all came together with a business plan that took over three years to design and capitalize and, in a word, is not flimsy. They fully intend to "pump out" hundreds of pins, go deep into the Star Trek bench of characters, ships, and gear—and not be dependent on early sales to make the full line come to pass, including the high-end AR pins. "No, we're not launching with just a bare-bones line—that’s the reason it’s taken so long," he says. "None of us wanted to get involved if it was gonna be hanging by a thread, at first. We wanted to make sure we had all our ducks in a row, so as to have the biggest launch and rollout we could."

"We’re gonna have a huge collection in Vegas—our very first appearance at a convention, " he adds. "We hope to have an augmented reality demonstration there to show, and we’ll have a ton of pins there to buy. And at Mission New York a month later, and at Destination Star Trek Europe." The license includes many countries globally and covers all Prime Trek, with the Kelvin Timeline movies about to be added and the new Bryan Fuller TV Trek series dealt for as soon as possible.

FanSets also has a license for the same ideas with Harry Potter and DC Comics, and will be adding more franchises soon. "But I wanted to start with Star Trek because that’s where I started, with the Official Fan Club," Dan says, "and it’s still the closest to my heart. And to get them launched in time for the 50th anniversary!"

Timing did not allow FanSets to get a booth at massive San Diego Comic-Con—but Dan says they'll have a presence with two exclusives, available from either the Stylin' Online at the Official Star Trek booth or at the Stan Lee Comikazi booths at SDCC. One of the pins is a tribute to Nimoy, Doohan and Kelley on the transporter pad, the other is an Enterprise inscribed with the SDCC 2016 line—and both to be sold for that weekend only for $12.95.

Otherwise, the regular character pins sell for $8.95, the ships are $12.95, and the Augmented-Reality pins are $12.95 as well. The line of the moveable-part and larger autograph pins are not set yet, but everything the company sells will be under $20.

And, he proudly adds, no consultants were used in the choosing of these pins.

"We’re all Star Trek fans—we sat down and thought, who should we do?" Dan recalls. "We have to do the main guys, but once past that—who are the ones we don’t see very often that we ought to do? We don’t have to sell a million of each one—we’re selling to collectors, so we can do a smaller run and do pins that appeal to a smaller number."

Sure, that's great talk, I tell him—but have you thought about a Tellarite?

Dan knows me well: “I am absolutely proud to tell you that we have a Tellarite!"

I can't wait to see it.

FanSets also has a Facebook page.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Taking Trekland back home for 'Silver' SoonerCon # 25

Thanks to my homies back in red-dirt fandom land, I'll be back BUSY with a Portal 47 drawing and all the Trekland road show once again in metro OKC for SoonerCon next weekend—which this year is a triple treat. And BUSY for me!

It's SoonerCon 25 ... on its actual 30th anniversary...and also the 25th anniversary of its onetime OKC sister media con, my own baby Thundercon.

SoonerCon is still a comfortable size at an expected 2,000, but incredibly diverse and sprawling in coverage—from anime, comics, "Oklahoma's largest sci-fi/fantasy art show", and SF/F lit and media ... to gaming, live-action role-play, "real space" science, cosplay, fan films and indie cinema.  There's also the latest inductees into the Oklahoma Speculative Fiction Hall of Fame. And it still supports a charity: this year, the
Oklahoma state chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

And they've even got SoonerCon red carpet photo-op billboard walls!

It's been growing about 15% a year since coming to the Reed Center in suburban Midwest City, five minutes east of downtown OKC just off I-40 at Sooner (yes) Road ...and has sold out the adjoining Sheraton. I'm told the next-door Hawthorn Suites/Wyndham has all mini-suite rooms and is honoring the con's $99 room rate with an SCon mention —and day/ weekend memberships* are on early-bird discount through Wednesday. You can find late news on Facebook, too.

As the comic-con mega-model has taken the country's mainstream imagination in grassroots pop culture by storm, I've seen many old-school "lit cons" across the country wither and die out altogether. Kudos to SoonerCon after its 2007 reboot, where both Leonard and the old vets join Aislinn and the new blood with savvy marketing and sponsorships... and the growth stays vibrant.

I mean, look at this sponsor row (above)—including Bernina of OKC, who sponsors the entire cosplay/costuming shebang! (Logical, Captain.)
OKC is also home to one of the three major TOS fan-film studios in the US, of course, with the education-based Starship Grissom and other productions filming at Starship Studios.  I'm also looking forward to crossing paths on the con trail with mon capitan Vic Mignogna of Star Trek Continues and joining him for the Oklahoma big-screen premiere Saturday of STC's recently-debuted sixth outing, "Come Not Between The Dragons."

I also get a chance to join SCon's rich space science/STEAM track to evangelize a whole hour with Oklahoma Space Alliance folks about non-profit Enterprise in Space. Our Con of Wrath DP Neal Hallford will be back home and doing some panels, too!

But of course my big focus this Trek anniversary year is my PORTAL 47 insider fan service, and talking about the upcoming ST Beyond with new-found enthusiasm as well as the new CBS Trek series coming in January on streaming All Access. There are three Portales in the Oklahoma City metro alone (and one ex-pat on hand), and we'll have a live meetup for sure.

So here's my way busier-than-usual days at SCon... which is also here, on-site (scroll).

And in the cookie-cutter hours between these panels, I'll be at my table 

FRIDAY (tabling noon-3, 4-5 )

3 pm: SoonerCon @midnight: Worst Book Ever (Maynard) In @Midnight style, I'll relay audience suggestions to writer panelists to create the best "worst titles" and intros ever. PART II will include the book covers drawn Sat.)

5 pm: "The State of the Trek" Forum (Ballroom D) My renowned fan forum where YOU talk and opine after my kick-off. And boy have things picked up. No rusty/dusty topics here.

6pm: Opening Ceremonies (
Ballroom D)

(tabling noon-2, 3-6 )

11 am Monster in an Hour (J Stage) I moderate audience shoutouts to several artists to fulfill the dictum of a "monster robot" artwork—which then goes to the charity auction.

2 pm: Trekland, Between the Cracks
(Ballroom B) Hey, it's my annual show of in-jokes and insights, updated for this incredible 5-0 Fever anniversary year in Trek, new movie and new series! Are you a JJverse fan—I especially want to hear from you!

4-6 pm; ST Continues screening of Ep. 6, "Come Not between the Dragons," with a panel following with Vic
(Ballroom D) Where anime fans discover Trek, and Trek fans find their childhood. :-)

6 pm: Art/Charity Auction (Ballroom A/B) I have some historic SoonerCon & ThunderCon pieces you locals don't want to miss.

10 pm-midnight: The Dr. Trek Show (Parlor: Sheraton 104)Your last chance to get in on my annual, live-touring crowdfunder event to support my documentary, "The Con of Wrath"...with prize trivia, rare unseen Trek clips AND sneak peeks of the doc with George, Walter, Nichelle...and plenty of time to still go party.
SUNDAY (Do the math—I have one hour of table time today, at 2 pm !)

Noon: Enterprise in Space: For Real! (Theatre) I get an hour to update and recruit new "virtual crew" crowdfunders, as spokesman and lead fandom/celeb outreach for this amazing, non-profit global program for student projects to orbit and be returned— inspired by the best of sci-fi and sci-fact, aboard the first real Enterprise in space. Members of the Oklahoma Space Alliance, the local chapter of EIS's sponsoring National Space Society, will join me too.

1 pm: Star Trek at 50 (Ballroom D)— A true panel, where Vic and I and everybody will share about our inspirations, dreams, and loves from Gene Roddenberry's unending little space saga's sandbox.

3 pm: SoonerCon Scoops and Stories (Ballroom D)— Yep, the veterans finally get to party and jawbone over our local con memories from the pre-cool days of fandom. Here's where it's great to have homies ... I think.

And Closing at 4 pm— for what will surely be an historic SoonerCon.
If not

*In the grand old tradition of true sci-fi conventions, your SoonerCon attendance is a
membership—in contrast to a mere show, with a ticket.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

On a day like today, HERE's how to apply Trek therapy

Back to "5-0 Fever"and more videos in a second....

But today, on this tragically historic day of the biggest mass shooting in US history... followed on soon by the discovery of an Indiana kid in L.A. trying to make his own anti-gay mark... I've seen lots of numb, mourning, sad folks online sharing their grief, talking, and even railing about all the topics-turned-hotspots: Literally, the ol' guns, gays and God wrapped up in one bloody package for legitimate discussion, hot debate, and of course political opportunism ...whether anything really changes, or not.

And of course from Trekland's perch I see a lot of Trek fans, somewhere along the numbness spectrum, announcing they're just about to go off and binge-watch a chunk o'Trek to escape and chill out in their beloved universe where such crap doesn't happen.


Because, really—to be truthful and credit Gene Roddenberry and his writer-descendants... the "perfect" 23rd and 24th centuries were often times not seen to be so—and at times dispensed with teh alien metaphor and came close to home.

What comes to mind? Well, if you do an "escape bingewatch" today... what about gender equality in TNG's "The Outcast," the paranoid fascism of DS9's "Past Tense" I & II (above) or "Homefront/Paradise Lost" ... theology tyranny in "In The Hands Of the Prophets" or Voyager's "Distant Origin"... or Enterprise's xenophobic dive into "Demons/ Terra Prime"? 

Then maybe wind it all up with TOS's "Day of The Dove," and wish we could find our planet's rotating ball of noncorporeal hate-consuming light sparkles...and deal with it all as easily as that.

And then go curl up and watch "Tribbles" or "Piece of the Action," and hug those pillows, loved ones or both.

And keep dreaming—and working—for "The Big Bird's Dream," each in your own way. 

In other words: Keep on Trekkin'... with meaning.

Monday, June 6, 2016

All I know's what I read on [public] Twitter

Hey, I'm as up for a little Internet hits-n-glory as the next um, millennial… 

But the reports of my having "announced" or "broken" news re: the writing staff of the new Star Trek 2017 series are … greatly exaggerated, to steal a line from Mark Twain. I did see an exciting, and almost unbelievable public Tweet from show writer Kemp Powers about Joe Menosky, and mentioned it during a panel at Phoenix ComicCon, betraying my own excitement about it. But one audience tweet later, and you'd think I unmasked Watergate's Deep Throat.  I've tried to clarify the detail, but to no avail. 

Gotta love the Internet…. or not. Making news for having eyes! 

And hey. I love PHXCC (more to come on that).. but what IS it about Phoenix writers and me? 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

THIS WEEK: Trekland and Portal 47 are Phoenix-bound!

Yes, it's been out there for a while, but here's a quick look at the details for this weekend when Phoenix Comicon is awesome enough to have me back as a guest.  Gates and Robert B. will be repping Trek for its 50th year at PHXCC, as well.

If you go to the link above, you can click in for my table and panels, and all others, in your own scheduler called ConQuest.

I can't wait to connect up with our Phoenix-region fans old and new. I'm especially on the hunt for JJ-era fans... I really want to talk to you, or hoping the vets reading this can steer me to some of them.

Oh—and it's supposed to be a load of dry heat all weekend—so undress accordingly!


Look for me this day and all four days at Table AA1726 in the southeast corner in Autograph Alley. We'll have a FREE DRAWING for a Trekland Trunk artifact and a couple of Portal 47 "two free month" passes, plus "On Speaker" CDs, maybe a rare copy of the TNG Companion,  and info for non-profit Enterprise in Space.

I'll have table hours of 11-6 apart from lunch AND:
1:30 pm,
North 232ABC—Star Trek: A 50th Retrospective— An actual panel. I'll try to keep up with some esteemed fans, before I get my solo shot Saturday.
6 pm,
North 229AB— Continuing Voyages: Books & Comics—Another actual panel!

You can find me at the table from 11-6, besides lunch AND:
3 pm,
North 229AB—Trekland: The Not-So-Final Frontier of Trek at 50!HERE is the annual update of my signature show, with so much going on!

8-10 pm, Hyatt Room (TBA Thursday)—Dr. Trek's Show crowdfunder for The Con of Wrath Why give $20 to get your screen credit and support my real-life doc— in its last year  of filming—when you could come live and get so much more? Two hours of prize trivia, rare Trek clips and sneak peeks from George, Walter, Nichelle, the late Harve Bennett ... and unauthorized stories from me! More on the project and being a supporter here.


No panels, but I'll be at Table AA1726 to close out the weekend.

However, there's a good bet we might locate a meetup somewhere for you local stragglers. Any ideas?

This weekend I'll have a few "founding" PORTAL 47 deep-divers as well who will exercise this con for their drinks meetup benefit—and that will be TBA.