Galactic Trek: The Search for Zork

The cast of Giant Nerd Australia’s improv comedy Galactic Trek, returned to Fringe this year at the Rob Roy Hotel, this time with their show The Search for Zork. This show had the crew of the USS ImproCity visit a planet full of the undead, which they must try to stop from spreading across the galaxy. For an hour, they presented a story that was both fun and evoked a feeling of Star Trek: The Original Series.

A highlight of Galactic Trek is how it pays homage to low budget sci-fi films and TV shows. This was clear in their descriptions and sound effects. The doors would almost never open on time, the transporter sound would take some time to appear and the bridge is described as being held together by tape. For Star Trek fans, there were references galore, the Kirk vs. Spock battle music being a notable one. Being a fan of sci-fi myself, I found all these little references well done. Even with few props, the actors were able to convey everything effectively.

Another highlight was the characters. Captain Bill Jamieson, one of the main characters, had a very Captain Kirk essence to him, in both appearance and acting. The character of Zork had a very ’80s sci-fi appearance, particularly with his green head and horns. The standout character though was a red shirt called Jones Jonesy. Jonesy is how I imagine Blackadder’s Baldric would be if he were in outer space.

The show wasn’t without its shortcomings. While it did have a lot of funny moments, a lot of these were based on sci-fi references. This did not affect me as I already knew the jokes, but not everyone would understand them. For a show about searching for Zork, there was little actual searching for him. The actual search for Zork was minor to the plot, which made me wonder why they would call it the search for Zork. It should also be noted that Zork’s actor’s pants ripped during the performance, which was by no means the actor’s fault but did detract from the experience slightly.

Galactic Trek: The Search for Zork is a whole lot of improv sci-fi fun. It had many great references and a very Original Series plot. While there were a few shortcomings, it was still a fun time. Fans of sci-fi would really enjoy this show and its unique spin on Star Trek.

3.5/5


Words by Cameron Lowe

You can catch Galactic Trek: The Search for Zork at Rob Roy Hotel until the 10th of March. For ticketing and more click here.

MOD

Where Art Meets Science and Technology

Have you ever wanted to visit an art gallery that shows the relationship between art, science, and technology? Well, fear no more for MOD is the place for you. Opened in 2018, MOD is an art gallery where you can view art based on subjects like augmented reality, astronomy, and robotics. Being a bit of a science nerd (astronomy in particular), I have been eager to visit MOD. Upon visiting it, I was enthralled and absorbed into its world of interactive wonders.

The first exhibit I visited was Prosthetic Reality (an Augmented Reality exhibition) in the Lecture Gallery on the ground floor. As you can see in the image below, it appears to a casual observer just an exhibit of pop art. However, if you have the EyeJack app (available on both iOS and Android devices) you can download the exhibition and it will be transformed. Using the AR feature, the artworks come to life with colour, animation, and sound. For example, one of these artworks tells a story of a Japanese town destroyed by a disaster. Its main picture is of the town before the disaster, but through EyeJack, it plays Japanese style music and shows it destroyed through animation. I discovered more of these set up across the museum, which was a surprising addition. It gave me motive to explore the entire gallery to find them all.

 

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Another exhibit within the MOD I found interesting looked into genetically modified babies. Displayed in the Gould Interactive Gallery, this demonstrated what we may have to do to survive on Earth if we keep going the way we are. All these babies are displayed in wheel-around newborn beds from hospitals. One baby that really stood out to me had a head with strange gill-like curves on its sides. To me, it appeared as if a Ferengi and a Klingon from the Star Trek universe had a child. There was explanation on a nearby wall, this modification would be necessary to survive higher temperatures on Earth. It is a frightening possibility and seeing it in model form really got my creative mind running.

 

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There was a small part of artificial intelligence and robotics near the genetic modification exhibit. You could stand in the middle of a room and an AI would supposedly learn and copy your movement. I tried this out, but could not comprehend how it worked, which was unfortunate. The idea behind it is really cool and I do recommend you to give it a go. Perhaps you will figure out how it works. Also, part of that exhibit was a model of a robotic head. Upon first glance, it looks exactly like a human head (with extremely realistic skin), but its eyes move and it speaks. It was like stepping into Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Seeing it alongside the movement exhibit made me realise it was part of the human-like features which AI and robots of the future may soon have.

Perhaps my favourite exhibit in the whole of MOD was the Our Sky exhibit in the Universal Gallery. A Science on a Sphere (currently the only one in Australia) sits in the middle of the room with screens on all the walls. With a computer board, you can cycle through the planets and moons in our Solar System which appear on the Science On a Sphere. As you can see below, Jupiter appears on it, but I could easily change it to Mars or Enceladus (a moon of Saturn). With the screens on the walls, you could surf the Solar System and check out the many different astronomical signs. Perhaps what really made this exhibit fantastic is the inclusion of science and astronomy from the First Australians. This is shown through video and sound, which play above the gallery. This addition gives a fresh, more Australian perspective on astronomy and science and has me eager to learn more about First Australian astronomy.

 

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MOD is a fantastic place to check out the relationship between art, science, and technology. If you are a sci-fi fan or into science and technology I highly recommend you visit this place. You can find it on the western side of the Morphett Street bridge on North Terrace (north side) on UniSA’s City West campus. Entry is free and it is open six days a week (closed Mondays). More information can be found here.

 


Words and photography by Cameron Lowe.

Mega Toy Fair 2018

The Adelaide Mega Toy Fair is the largest annual market for toys and collectables in Australia. This year’s event was held over the first weekend of June (June 2nd-3rd) at the Stirling Angas Hall in the Adelaide Showgrounds and marks 25 years since it began. I have been wanting to visit the Mega Toy Fair for years, but due to other commitments I never had time, this year I finally had the chance to visit. What I came out with was a thrilling, worthwhile experience that, without self-control, could have easily drained my bank account.

I arrived at the Mega Toy Fair right on opening time (10am) Saturday morning to a massive line up. The picture below shows me from the end of the line, near the Kidman Entrance gates. Seeing the line-up, I knew this was going to be an interesting event. The line eventually died down, much to the relief of anyone arriving later on.

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After paying the $7 entrance fee (I got concession, $8 for regular adult) I felt as though I had fallen down a hole into another dimension. The event was gigantic! Hundreds, possibly even, over a thousand stalls were before me. It was a collector’s paradise of things old and new; from pre-World War Two Hornby clockwork trains and a $35 statue of K-9 from Doctor Who to endless rows of Hot Wheels cars and a OO (1:76) scale model of The Flying Scotsman steam locomotive.

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My inner nerd went into overdrive browsing all of these tables, especially when I found the video games. At one table, I found a loose cartridge of Secret of Mana selling for $75 and a boxed copy of Mystic Quest Legend (Final Fantasy Mystic Quest in the US/Japan) for $100. While I did not buy these, I thought they were reasonably priced, as compared to game stores and eBay, which could have easily been double the price. One of my other encounters was discovering a copy of Harvest Moon on the SNES, a game that is rare in Australia. However, I suspected it to be a reproduction cartridge as it appeared too new and the cartridge art seemed off.

The Mega Toy Fair was a pop culture lover’s dream come true. I found Star Wars toys from the seventies and eighties on a vast majority of tables and a boxed Robot figurine from the original Lost in Space. To me, there were three things that really caught my interest out of this pop culture goodness. One was a Laserdisc copy of Star Wars: A New Hope. I did not ask for the price, but I found it to be a very unique piece and I would have bought it if I had a Laserdisc player. Another stand out piece was a collection of Star Trek: The Original Series figurines at the Starship Mawson stand. They were imported from the US and selling for $300, a price too steep for me at this moment. Although they were expensive, I found them to be beautifully crafted and would have gone well in my pop culture collection. The third was an Edgar Allan Poe bobblehead selling for $40. It is one of the things I eventually caved and bought.

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Overall, I really enjoyed the Mega Toy Fair. It was well worth the trip through to the other dimension, where pop culture and my childhood took over. I will certainly be going back to it next year. I can only hope I have more money on me and more space available to use up at home.        


Words and photography by Cameron Lowe 

Adelaide Comic and Toy Fair 2018

 

Despite being a small city, Adelaide has a number of pop culture conventions, one being the Adelaide Comic and Toy Fair. Now in its fourth year, the Adelaide Comic and Toy Fair is held around the Adelaide CBD and this year’s April 28th event was held on the first level of The German Club on Flinders Street. I decided to make my first visit and I am happy to say that it did not disappoint.

I felt at home right as I entered the room, after paying the $2 entry fee. I found figurines from popular franchises like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Action Man filling the tables inside. The variety of them was diverse, from boxed Farscape figurines selling at $15 to a $500 boxed Black Series Boba Fett with Han Solo frozen in carbonite. Alongside all of these were Lego (but not actual Lego) sized figurines of super-heroes selling for $10-15 each. Whether it be for starting a toy collection, or finding your favourite childhood toy, the Comic and Toy fair had it all.

 

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For retro game collectors, the Comic and Toy Fair did not disappoint. There were boxes full of games, mainly from retro consoles like the Sega Saturn and PlayStation 2. Many games were the usual shovelware titles, but there were some hidden gems. One gem was a copy of Resident Evil: Deadly Silence (case included) for the Nintendo DS selling for $40. Perhaps the most impressive find was a copy of Final Fantasy V (cartridge only) for the Super Famicom selling for $7[1]. Speaking of the Super Famicom, one was on sale for $130 with its box for any willing game fan.

For bookworms, the Comic and Toy Fair had enough books to quench your thirst for reading. There was a little a bit of everything, from the classic Doctor Who Target Books series to old encyclopedias of the Star Trek universe. Comic book fans were also spoiled for choice, having a wide selection of comics from both the past and present. Both Greenlight Comics and Gamma Rays had a presence, offering the usual $2-$4 range of old single-issue superhero comics to trade paperbacks of V for Vendetta. Alongside these were comics from Adelaide indie comic writers like Darren Koziol of Dark Oz, and Dr. Mike 2000 of the Universe Gun series. Fans of the DECAY series could pick up the final issue for $12 from Koziol himself.

 

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The final interesting part of the Comic and Toy Fair was the presence of two Adelaide pop culture clubs. These clubs were Starship Mawson and TinTin Club Australia, with the former being the prime Adelaide sci-fi fan club. Some memorabilia from Lexicon, a recent pop culture exhibition at Unley Museum, was on sale too, including a framed 1960s Spiderman comic being sold at the Starship Mawson table for $90. For anyone who might be interested in joining these club, I recommend looking them up and getting in contact.

Overall, the 2018 Adelaide Comic and Toy Fair was a worthwhile experience. It was a fun day out where you could find a hidden gem and discover more of the Adelaide pop culture scene. I recommend anyone who is interested in pop culture expos like AVCon and Supanova to go check out the Comic and Toy Fair next time it is held.

If you are interested in pop culture and toy collecting, the Mega Toy Fair will be on at Adelaide Showgrounds (June 2nd-3rd). For more information, click the link here.


[1]WARNING: Super Famicom games will not work on your Australian Super Nintendo (SNES). This is due to region lock. To play a Japanese game, you will need either a Super Famicom, or a third-party region-free system. Another word of warning: Super Famicoms run on the Japanese 110V power setting, well below the Australian 230V standard. To prevent possible motherboard frying or a fire, you must buy a step-down convertor.


Words by Cameron Lowe