Fatherhood and Fandom: Chatting With The Man Behind The New Robotech RPG

Bryan Young ROBOTECH RPG
(Harmony Gold/Strange Machine Games)

In the 80s, kids had it pretty good when it came to after-school and Saturday morning shows. That’s not to say there isn’t a wealth of quality entertainment for kids to enjoy these days, but I’m just not convinced Paw Patrol and Peppa Pig will have the staying power of GI Joe or She-Ra. Among the giants of the era was an odd little number that went against the grain, and changed America’s relationship to cartoons, storytelling, and giant robots forever.

“I think Robotech has such a cool science fiction story that anyone could still latch on to it. And since it’s available on every platform to stream, more and more people are finding it. It’s still capturing people and still a juggernaut in the fandom.”

I’m talking to Bryan Young, the writer of Robotech: The Macross Saga Roleplaying Game from Strange Machine Games, which is available this week for preorder. Co-created with Jeff Mechlinski, the game is designed to give players the feeling they are in Robotech, clocking in at 264 pages of reference material, play scenarios and original in-universe stories by Young.

Robotech RPG
(Stranger Machine Games)

Before the Power Rangers made repurposed footage a standard practice, Robotech was famous for splicing together three entirely different Japanese cartoons with new scripts to become one cohesive story. While some purists scoffed at the creative license, there is no arguing that Robotech is largely responsible for introducing young American audiences to long format storytelling, complicated relationships, and giant machines that could turn into different giant machines.

There was more complex storytelling going on than most fare from that era, especially in how it worked in a long-form story. It was the only show I didn’t feel like I could miss an episode because things would just change too quickly. With He-Man or GI Joe, the episodes were just sort of catch-as-catch-can; there was no continuity to them.”

They say you should never meet your heroes, but Young has spent his adult life staunchly defying that old idiom. As a writer, podcaster, filmmaker, and journalist, he has made a career out of his interests and passion, particularly for genre storytelling. In layman’s terms, “genre” in this case means, you know, nerdy shit.

But more than Robotech, more than the Star Wars analysis that made him “twitter famous” (my words, not his) and more than earning camaraderie with the filmmakers and writers that he idolizes, Young is invested in his family.

“Being a father affects my creativity in ways I could never have even imagined. For one, they’re inspiring. My kids are all incredibly inquisitive and curious and I’m able to tap into that a lot easier because it’s something they continually teach me how to do better.”

We all hope our kids will love the same things we do, but Young knows that it’s better not to push it. “Bringing my kids into my fandoms is less important to me than letting them find their own. I’ll share my passions with them and if they happen to latch on like I did, then that’s great, but I want them to find their own. I love when they get to share those passions with me. This should be a two-way street and they should have the freedom to find what works for them.”

Of course, as many dads know, trusting your kids to find their own interests, even in the shared nerdsphere, can be…challenging.

“I spent like a weekend trying to survive in the harsh Minecraftian wilderness. By the end, I’d carved out a nice cave-dwelling, built fire, and was wearing a wolf-pelt. It was pretty primitive. At the end of the same weekend, Scout, my middle child, brought me over to their encampment and they were like, “Dad! Check out this roller coaster I built!”

Bryan and Family
(Twitter.com/swankmotron)

Some dads think they have to choose between a creative career and a family, but the truth is, being a dad can teach you how to succeed in any area. After all, no matter how hard things can be, parents make it happen.

“As far as balancing the family and work, I try to work on my creative endeavors when they’re sleeping. I get up in the mornings before they’re typically awake and get my work done then so that when I get home, we can spend our time together as a family.”

While keeping his schedule tight, and family time special, Young makes sure to include his kids in the personal and professional enthusiasm he has for his work much as possible. Sometimes, it even leads to new ideas and projects that wouldn’t have happened without involving his kids. “In all honesty, the thing I love is that if my kids have a project they want to work on, we will. When Scout was about 8, they got really interested in learning about presidential assassinations and we went out and sought out a book for them on the topic that would be age-appropriate. When we didn’t find one, we worked on one together and that’s how my book “A Children’s Illustrated History of Presidential Assassination” was born. Scout even did illustrations at the back of every chapter in addition to the work of the professional illustrator who did the rest of the book.”

Truth be told though, sometimes dads just like to show off, and Bryan’s hard work has paid off in major dad bragging rights. “The standout moment for me has to be taking my eldest, Anakin, to the red carpet premiere of Solo: A Star Wars Story. It was an incredible experience and I think I definitely won dad of the year last year for it.”

Part of what makes Robotech so enduring is the stories were designed for kids, but continue to resonate with adults, which makes for an ideal cultural touchstone for dads and their children to share. “The thing that changed viewing Robotech from an adult perspective for me is that there’s a deeper understanding. There’s a lot more honesty in the storytelling than I realized. Granted, there are more rough things in the storytelling than I realized, too, but it’s still so charming that it makes up for any of those hard edges.”

Follow Bryan on twitter for insightful film analysis and inside scoops on all things nerdy and cool, or at www.swankmotron.com for original stories. Robotech: The Macross Saga Roleplaying Game is available now for digital download from Strange Machine Games, and preorders are now open for physical copies that will be released this December.

Skull One
(Robotech.fandom.com)

And speaking of inside scoops, I don’t know if this will actually help in your game, but here’s a little tidbit about the writer’s favorite Mecha:  “Has to be Skull One. Roy Fokker’s paint job on that thing is iconic and it’s just a great fighter, full of history and tragedy.” Good luck, pilot.

Saved by the Bell Reboot Trailer: It’s 2020 so This Show Could Actually be Good

Saved By The Bell Trailer
(YouTube/ONE Media)

A lot of things have happened this past year that are simply unprecedented. From the global pandemic to murder hornets to water on the moon to Tiger King, 2020 has been full of unpredictability, but perhaps nothing has caught me more off guard than this:

Saved by the Bell is being rebooted, and it looks sort of… good?

Look, the bar is low. The original Saved By the Bell, which I watched religiously on Saturday mornings and after school, was a trainwreck of a show. The acting was bad, the humor was unbearably cheesy, and the entire thing was amateurish on every single level. The cast pretty much all went on to success of some kind, barring Dustin Diamond (Screech) who gained little more than notoriety for being a creep, and Lark Voorhies (Lisa Turtle), who basically disappeared from the public eye.

The rest of the cast, which included Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Ferris Bueller-type Zack Morris (who only recently started watching the first series), Tiffani-Amber Thiessen as cheeleader and girl-next-door Kelly Kapowski, Mario Lopez as jock A.C. Slater, and Elizabeth Berkeley as brainy feminist Jesse Spano (I hate myself for remmebering all of this), went on to successful careers of varying degrees.

Of course, they couldn’t have been too successful, because all four of them are back in the reboot!

The premise has been updated to fit modern times, with Bayside forced to welcome outsiders into its privileged confines (and Zach is now governor of California because rich white people always fail upwards!), Slater and Jesse working at the school where Zach’s son rules the roost, and the humor has been updated to maybe – possibly – have some actual laughs!

Of course, this being SBTB, there are plenty of indications that no, this will not be good, like the character of Zack’s son, who immediately looks unbearable. Also Max, the magician waiter (and owner?) of the local hangout, is back for some reason, as is the “Friends Forever” song from one of the original series’ most absurd episodes. So tread lightly!

It premieres on Peacock on November 25th:

LEGO Celebrates The Mandalorian Season 2 With Life-Size 14,000 Piece Baby Yoda

LEGO Baby Yoda Big Build
(YouTube/LEGO)

LEGO has given us a huge array of Star Wars sets over the years, ranging from simple to over-the-top elaborate. The LEGO Star Wars partnership began in 1999, but due to the massive success of the iconic collaboration, LEGO has extended the partnership with Lucasfilm multiple times. Fortunately, we get to enjoy the sweet fruits of this match made in Alderaan until at least 2022.

The people at LEGO are extremely good at keeping up with the latest trends, releasing multiple sets based on The Mandalorian in under a year since the hugely successful series’ premiere. However, the first LEGO Mandalorian set was missing one very important character – Baby Yoda.

Baby Yoda quickly became the adorable, scrunchy little face of the Disney+ series, so its absence from the set was noticeable. LEGO remedied the situation by giving Baby Yoda its very own set. Though Baby Yoda isn’t actually the younger version of the wise old Yoda we know and love, Mandalorian fans quickly took a liking to The Child – maybe because whatever species these little green guys are, they’re freaking cute.

Over 1,000 pieces to build your very own LEGO Baby Yoda is a pretty sweet tribute – but how does 14,000 LEGO bricks sound? Big, it sounds big. And it is – in fact, LEGO celebrated the release of The Mandalorian season 2 by building a life-size version of The Child (a little over 22 inches tall). If you’re going to bring another Baby Yoda into the world, it’s important to make sure the little guy’s comfortable. Aside from building The Child himself, the LEGO masters built him his very own floating pod.

“Patience you must have,” real Yoda reminded us – and we’re pretty sure he was talking about this. Three master LEGO builders put this set together as a team, and it took a whopping total of 119 hours.

LEGO posted a video of the build on YouTube, but fortunately, they condensed 119 hours down to 55 seconds. The caption read, “‘The Child’ is back in Season 2 of The Mandalorian. Watch this video of our master builders creating a scale LEGO model of the galaxy’s cutest co-pilot.”

“Why did we build the cutest co-pilot in the galaxy?” LEGO’s video asked, which is truly an excellent question.

“Because this is the way!” An extremely on-brand answer that’s The Mandalorian equivalent of “because I said so.”

Regardless of the real reason, big Baby Yoda is cool as heck. Don’t forget to watch the Season 2 premiere of The Mandalorian on October 30 on Disney+, and if you’re planning on attempting your very own Big Build, may the force be with you.

Disney+ Lands Oscar Isaac on Marvel’s Moon Knight Show

oscar isaac is moon knight
(Getty/Francois G. Durand Marvel)

Last year, in the aftermath of Endgame and the end of the Infinity Stones saga, Marvel Studios laid out their plans for the future of the MCU.

Aside from the various movies that are still yet to see the light of day (Black Widow, The Eternals), and Thor and Dr. Strange sequels, they announced the WandaVision, Falcon and Winter Soldier, and Loki TV shows for Disney+. We know now that Hawkeye and Nick Fury are getting shows too, but not everyone on Disney+ will be from the movies.

Marvel also announced shows for lesser-known characters like She-Hulk and Ms. Marvel, which were recently cast, and someone called Moon Knight, a fan-favorite character who is a mercenary/vigilante/consultant (?) and is also a conduit for an Egyptian god named Khonshu.

Keanu Reeves was rumored to be in the running, but it looks like the former Resistance member, Oscar Isaac, is in. The Star Wars star has signed onto Disney+’s Moon Knight series, and aside from Samuel Jackson joining the platform, Isaac may be the biggest star Disney+ has.

Isaac is a talented actor who was nominated for an Oscar for the Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis and has split his time between the Star Wars trilogy and prestige projects from respected directors like Alex Garland, JC Chandor, and Denis Villeneuve, with whom Isaac made the forthcoming Dune.

Isaac isn’t the first movie star to move to television, and he surely won’t be the last. Over the past decade, the divide between the TV and movie ecosystems has all but disappeared, and with the future of movie theaters in doubt, thanks to the impact of the coronavirus and the explosion of streaming, more and more box office stars may be taking refuge in TV projects.

As long as the people doing TV are as bad-ass as Oscar Isaac, I don’t have a problem with it. It’s also easy to see a future in which Isaac takes Moon Knight from Disney+ to the big screen, if and when movies come back. It’s hard to believe they’d grab such a big name for a minor character and keep him corralled to the small screen.

No word yet on when production will start.

He’s Back: Arnold Schwarzenegger Recovers From Second Heart Surgery

Arnold Back after Second Surgery
(Twitter/Schwarzenegger)

“I’ll be back.” The iconic phrase was made famous by Arnold in 1984 while playing a time-traveling robot assassin. He went on to use it in 7 other movies and then in real life after waking up from his first heart surgery in 2018.

He’s clearly a man of his word.

Arnold revealed on social media over the weekend he’s feeling “fantastic” after having an aortic valve replacement. The legendary actor and former politician thanked the doctors at the Cleveland Clinic for their work and posted a thumbs-up pic of him in the hospital recovery room. It won’t be long before he’s back Terminating trolls.

“I feel fantastic and have already been walking the streets of Cleveland enjoying your amazing statues. Thank you to every doc and nurse on my team!”


The heart surgery was a planned follow-up to the one he had in 2018 to replace a pulmonary valve. Both surgeries stem from Arnold’s congenital heart defect. Schwarzenegger also posted a few pictures of him walking around the city after his procedure, drawing some warnings from his kids in the comment section.

His son, Patrick, begged his dad not to work out. “❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️PLEASE DONT GO WORKOUT TODAY!!” he commented on the post.

His daughter Katherine showed her support with hearts, and his youngest son Joseph also sent his support, “Love you dad! How are you already hitting a lat spread???” he wrote on Instagram.

It wasn’t just his family sending good vibes his way, as even his co-star from the 2008 blockbuster hit True Lies (ok it was 1994, the real date just makes me feel old), Jamie Lee Curtis shared a sweet sentiment for her former co-star.

NASA Found Water on the Moon

Moon Water
(Twitter/NASA)

NASA revealed some major news Monday, announcing they have discovered water on the moon. And, possibly, like, a lot of it. This news was blasted across the NASA communication matrix, including an emoji-filled tweet, which doesn’t feel like the most authentic way to broadcast a major scientific discovery but hey, it is 2020.

It’s been a terrible year on Earth, but a cool year for space. We got confirmation the Pentagon recovered “off-world vehicles” and a chicken nugget became the first of its kind to reach space.

And now we have moon water.

In a press conference, NASA discussed the two groundbreaking studies and the accompanying data to back up the discovery of water on the sunlit side of the moon, along with the possibility that there is much more water than previously believed (or hypothesized) on the moon.

“For the first time, water has been confirmed to be present on the sunlit surface of the moon,” said the director of the astrophysics division at NASA’s Science Mission Directorate during the press conference.

“We had indications that H2O — the familiar water we know — might be present on the sunlit side of the moon. Now we know it is there. This discovery challenges our understanding of the lunar surface and raises intriguing questions about resources relevant for deep space exploration.”

The agency detected the water with the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy airborne telescope. The SOFIA is basically a plane with a huge telescope in it. And it has space geeks excited that water can exist in the harsh circumstances on the surface of the moon and the possibility we could use more of the moon’s resources in future explorations.

Not only could we drink the moon water, if we were ever seriously planning to colonize the moon, having a source of water is absolutely essential for the splash park (no society can exist without one).

Monday’s announcement also included data from a second study that hypothesized many dark pockets on the moon could be filled with moon ice (some of these have been in darkness for billions of years). Further study needs to be done to map out just how much water is on the moon, but from a science standpoint, it was a big breakthrough for NASA.

Frozen Foods Company Makes History by Sending the First Chicken Nugget to Space

Nugget Launched into Space
(Facebook/Iceland Foods)

One small trip for a chicken nugget, one giant leap for the only food my kids will eat. A frozen-foods company made history this year by launching the first chicken nugget into space. The nugget now joins the elite class of various astronauts and assorted animals as the first of their kind to leave the planet.

Iceland Foods was the British company that celebrated their 50th anniversary by launching it into space. It’s been a great year for space, with the news the Pentagon had recovered off-world vehicles and the NASA dads making their trip outta here in a SpaceX vehicle. And now, this:

The company used a space-marketing company (which…is a thing that exists, I guess) to launch their nugget, which was secured to a weather balloon and cameras during its ascent miles into the atmosphere. It reached an altitude of 111,000 feet, which the company said translated into about 880,000 nuggets. The best part is you can watch it float away, and then come crashing back down to earth (at a speed of 200 mph) as all dreamers do eventually.

The nugget looked to be in good shape, especially as it hit temperatures approaching negative 100 degrees, but there is no word yet on what “out of this world” tastes like.

Father of Three Decorates Thousands of Lunch Bags With Dad Jokes

Dad decorates sandwich bags with dad jokes
(Instagram/sandwichbagdad)

Dave Blumenthal, a 44-year-old father of three knows how to make lunch memorable for his daughters. It’s not what’s inside the paper lunch bags that make his daughters’ school lunches special, but oddly enough, it’s what’s on the outside that counts. Though he has no formal training, Blumenthal is an artist – an artist that combines his love for his daughters with his never-ending supply of dad jokes. For over 8 years, Dave Blumenthal has been turning his daughters’ lunch bags into hilarious works of art.

It all started with a sandwich when Dave and his wife’s first daughter went off to school. “We had a newborn in the house at the time so my wife tried to make our first born feel special by cutting some shapes in her school lunch sandwiches,” Dave explained.

Dave soon took over the sandwich-cutting duty, carving the bread into shapes of cartoon characters and letters of the alphabet much to the delight of his daughter and her classmates. Once the bread-carving became too time-consuming, Dave decided to draw directly on the bags themselves – and he hasn’t stopped since.

 

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The bag reveal became a highly-anticipated moment in the school day for both teachers and students, sparking conversations, and even helping Dave’s oldest daughter overcome her shyness. Despite their success in the classroom, Dave didn’t have any intention of expanding his lunch bag project. That is, until his daughter’s teacher convinced him to share his hilarious jokes with the world. Shortly after, Sandwich Bag Dad was born.

 

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“I am honestly still amazed that my humble little bag drawings have attracted so much attention,” Dave marveled. “I seriously never expected to gain any followers – other than my family – when I first started posting. My kids still shake their head that there are so many people who voluntarily choose ‘the sandwichbagdad experience.’”

 

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It’s immediately evident why Dave’s sandwich bags have attracted almost 7,000 Instagram followers – between the unique take on dad jokes, the impressive art, and the fact that he does it all for his kids, it’s a truly wholesome undertaking. Though some people find it hard to believe, these entertaining sandwich bags do indeed fulfill their intended purpose.

 

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Dave explained, “The bags are absolutely and positively genuine lunch bags which my kids take to school! All my posts are just the ‘before’ pics. While some end up being hung up on their classroom walls, the vast majority end up coming home crumbled and very much worse for wear after holding a sandwich in them for a few hours. Most end up being tossed into the recycling!”

Though Dave is often encouraged to expand his “sandwichbagdad” empire, he has no plans to do so at this point in time. “At the moment, I’m just happy making people smile and knowing my dadjoke superpowers are being used for good not evil!”

 

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For a concentrated dose of dad jokes, follow him on Instagram.

UFC GOAT Retires After Victory Citing The Loss of His Father

khabib nurmagomedov retires
(Twitter/UFC/ Instagram/khabib_nurmagomedov)

One of the greatest mixed martial artists in UFC history is stepping away from the sport at his pinnacle, and he’s citing the loss of his dad and coach earlier this year as the reason for his retirement. Make no mistake, unbeaten UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, and he retires unbeaten with a perfect 29-0 record. He announced his retirement immediately after defeating Justin Gaethje in a title match on Saturday. A match he won despite BREAKING HIS FOOT before the fight.

“This is my last fight. There’s no way I’m going to be back without my father,” he said. “ I spoke to my mother. She don’t know how I fight without father, but I promised it’s going to be my last fight, and if I give my word, I have to follow it.”

His dad, Abdulmanap, passed away in July from COVID-related complications. His dad was his longtime trainer and coach, and Khabib will walk away from the Octagon rather than continuing to defend the title without a key member of his team.


As word of his retirement spread, UFC stars poured in tributes to Khabib, who will go down in history as one of the greatest ever. Dana White was quick to call him the best pound-for-pound fighter in the game right now. He went even further, calling him the GOAT in the sport’s history.


Any mention of the word “GOAT” and of course, there’s going to be a debate, but no one can really challenge that he was the greatest lightweight champion the sport has ever seen. And he was the best fighter his dad worked with, but not the only, as the UFC now has a number of fighters that got their start in Russia thanks to him.


He was emotional in the Octagon after his win, and while it may seem crazy to some to walk away in your prime, it doesn’t to those who how close the two were.

Khabib learned the sport from his dad, and even his trainers acknowledge the major presence he had on his son. In fact, Khabib’s relationship with his dad seemed stronger than most, as he even called his dad his best friend and once told a reporter after a win that his advice for youngsters would be “respect your parents.”

Sister Creates Disney at Home After Little Brother’s Trip Was Canceled by COVID

Sister's at home disney experience
(The Dad Break)

In the grand scheme of what COVID-19 has done to our country, a missed vacation may not seem like a big deal. But to an 8-year-old desperately looking forward to a trip to DisneyWorld, it’s everything. And his older sister was determined to give him that trip, even if it meant making it happen without leaving the house.

10-year-old Ella’s goal was to give her little brother with Down syndrome the best at-home Disney trip possible, even if it meant the rides would be virtual. Other families have done the at-home Disney thing on a smaller scale during the pandemic, but none quite as well as Ella pulled it off. Her mom told Good Morning America she spent six weeks planning it for him, and included four ride experiences, an ice cream cart with Mickey Bars, and even nailed the perfect background music.

As you can see in the video, shared by The Dad, he had an awesome time. It’s the type of heartwarming gesture you hope to see in your own kids someday.

It’s just the best. That’s all you can really say about it. The type of thing that restores your faith in humanity, and the type of content that makes you feel a little bit better about how people are taking care of the loved ones in their world.