The ten best exhibits I saw at the Pop Culture Museum

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You may have noticed that I was…absent, last week. Contrary to popular belief, I hadn’t quit my day job to pursue my lifelong passion of becoming a professional rodeo clown, but I had vanished out of the country for something which I can’t talk about…yet. That being said, I can talk about what I did on my one day to sightsee in Seattle, which eventually came down to two choices: Either ascend upwards and gaze at the city below from the structure shaped like some sort of space needle thingy, or spend a few hours gawking at props and puppets in the Pop Culture Museum.

I think I made the right choice to choose the latter. Here’s ten awesome things I saw inside that museum, amongst hundreds of other exhibitions:

(PS: No flash photography was allowed in the museum, so apologies if a few items are a tad bit hazy.)

Ghostbusters stunt Proton Pack and trap

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Fun fact: The original Ghostbuster phantom-zappin’ Proton Packs were heavy as f***. A hard-shell containing electronics and mounted on a sturdy aluminium military Alice Frame may not sound like a hefty item to lug around, but try spending a day on a film set with that prop on your back while in full costume and being asked to film a few physical scenes.

Point is, the original Proton Packs were heavy and a bit on the fragile side. The solution to Bill Murray’s slowly-warping spine? Foam! The original Ghostbusters film cast a few lightweight foam Proton Packs that were easy to wear, looked convincing from a distance and could take plenty of abuse. Only a few of them remain, and the ravages of time have taken their toll on the foam which wasn’t exactly designed with preservation in mind.

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Still, it’s a stunning pack and a valuable resource for any Ghostbuster who wants to build their own spectral-wrangling device. I’ve got one of my own, and after taking quite a few photos I now know exactly where to modify my pack. Who ya gonna call? Someone else! I’m busy fixing my pack dammit.

The Indie Game exhibit

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With triple-A gaming being all the rage these days, I think we tend to take smaller games for granted. The rise of the Indie market in this industry has been nothing short of phenomenal in the last decade, with smaller games forming powerhouse experiences that can rival even the biggest of titles that arrive every year.

The exhibit of said industry at the Pop Culture Museum, is a reminder that games are for everyone. While reading an experiencing the history of these games was fascinating enough, it was seeing dozens of young kids flock to the demons on offer that was inspiring. Seeing the next generation of fans and potential developers, that’s where the real magic of the exhibit was as it sought to be both informative and entertaining. I think it pulled that off with ease.

Conan the Barbarian’s sword

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CONAN! WHAT IS BEST IN LIFE? I’ll tell you what is: Conan’s actual sword. The entire film may have sought to understand the riddle of steel, but the actual blade wielded by Arnie in the Hyperborean age is a work of art and the most metal exhibit around. It’s surprisingly smaller than I imagined, and yet it still looks like you’d need biceps the size of a former Californian governator to wield it.

It’s the small details that make it pop though. The etching on the blade, the texture on the handles. It may be a lump of steel used to decapitate Darth Vader, but it’s a sexy hunk of metal at that.

Highlander costumes and swords

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From the dawn of time, they came…

I still think the original Highlander film is a monumental achievement in world-building and mythology crammed into less than two hours of running time. That iconic Queen soundtrack, the wonderfully ludicrous idea of Sean Connery pretending to be an ancient Egyptian-Spaniard and riveting sword fights that always reminded people how to really get ahead in life.

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Highlander is the very definition of a cult classic, an action movie for the ages with stunning set and costume design. There’s an unheard of amount of detail crammed into each costume, while the signature swords of Connor MaCleod and Ramirez were works of art. They’ve been beautifully maintained in the decades since the original film that was NEVER EVER followed up by lacklustre sequels wrapped up filming. Seeing them up close though? A fantastic reminder that in the end, there can be only one.

John Cleese’s French Knight helmet from Monty Python and the Holy Grail

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YOUR MOTHER WAS A HAMSTER AND YOUR FATHER SMELT OF ELDERBERRIES! Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a very very weird movie featuring sorcerers named Tim, Grail-shaped lanterns in the night and at least one instance where the sound logic of a witch weighing the same as a duck manages to somehow prevail.

The most absurd and surreal moment in that entire film however, belongs to John Cleese as a French Knight. Not just any French Knight mind you, but a French taunting knight who lobs insults and livestock at King Arthur and his men from on high. It’s a surreal scene, punctuated by mockery without limits or reason and shot on a shoestring budget.

And yet, despite all of the legendary problems that plagued this film, Cleese’s French Knight managed to shine. Seeing this helmet up close, just made me appreciate that film even more. You feelthy Eeeengleeesh kaaaaaaaaa-nigget!

Ricardo Montalban’s costume from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

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I don’t have a favourite Star Trek movie. I have two favourite films: First Contact and the Wrath of Khan. Two generations of Star Trek from two wildly different eras and they’re both magical. There was a massive Star Trek exhibition at the Pop Culture Museum, but it was seeing the late great Ricardo Montalban’s signature chest-bearing costume that made this exhibit stand out.

You look back at that film, and you see just how on-point the design was. Even better? Khan’s costume is right next to the outfit that Crinklehum Rambleburn Sparkleslink Crumplescum Humbleblack Thunderquack Benedict Cumberbatch wore in Star Trek Into Darkness. And much like that film, it absolutely pales in comparison to the original.

It’s right there to be gawked at, while also putting to rest those ridiculous rumours that Montalban wore a prosthetic chest piece. Even in his 60s, Khan was still every bit the superhuman he was supposed to be whenever Montalban popped up on the set.

The original Terminator’s leather jacket

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Amidst several other props from the superb first Terminator sequel and an actal full-scale T-800 sans the flesh, I just found myself drawn to this leather jacket from the first Terminator movie. This was film history right here, a wardrobe that defined Arnold Schwarzenegger as a menacing and unstoppable killer robot from the future sent to kill a resistance that in the 1980s had yet to be born.

I don’t just like leather…I LOVE LEATHER. There’s somethng magical about that jacket, that probably saw plenty of action whenever Arnie slipped into it.

Colonial Marines armour from Aliens

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Speaking of James Cameron, here’s another link to the past: Aliens. This was the sequel that wanted to know if a team of battle-hardened Colonial Space Marines could put up a better fight against one of the most hostile alien organisms in the universe when said Xenomorph decided to take the fight to soldiers instead of space miners. Short answer: They were equally f***ed.

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Still, the space marines at least looked the part. The original armour worn by Hicks (GAME OVER MAN! GAME OVER!) looks like it genuinely could stop a few bullets, while that beautiful pulse rifle still looks like a work of art. Another stunt prop, the pulse rifle at the Pop Culture museum was also cast in foam, so as to make the shoot that little bit easier for the actors. So definitely not acid-blood resistant then.

The Studio A mixing console

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I like to imagine that music at its very best, tells a story. A tale of the people in the band, their trials and tribulations at making a cacophony sound like a symphony of chart-topping hits. There’s a narrative at play within every song, but very little thought is ever given to the equipment used to make that music have a sound that your ears can digest.

A mixing console is the sum total of that experience. A vast collection of switches and buttons, that creates art from chaos. Can you imagine then, the stories that the mixing console from Jimi Hendrix’s Studio A has to tell. Of the bands that came through, of the guitar god himself when he recorded tracks before his untimely demise?

There’s a history there, in every single one of those electronic components. A legend, that I’d love to one day hear more of. ‘Scuse me while I…kiss the sky.

Original Honeydew and Beaker Muppets

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Amidst dozens of Muppets and props from Labyrinth, there was this iconic duo. I’ve got an unhealthy love for Honeydew and Beaker. A mild-mannered scientist whose various experiments usually saw his poor high-strung lab assistant caught in the crossfire, Beaker is by far one of my favourite original Muppets of all time. You see these puppets in the flesh, and you see just how simple yet effective their design was.

They’re also somewhat massive, yet still impressive and entertaining even when they aren’t having their fabric prostate glands checked by a puppeteer between shoots. MEEP!

This T-shirt

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Seriously,look at it. I hate myself for not buying it.

 

Terminator

Last Updated: August 21, 2017

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