Branded in the 80s Headquarters, or creating the clubhouse I never had as a kid

By Shawn Robare

I was prompted by Andrew Jones to document my recent room renervations in a conversation on twitter.  If you have a second, check out his site as he has a bunch of cool stuff up there…

A few weeks ago I’d wanted to go through my set of Topps Goonies trading cards (I’d wanted to take a closer look at the card with Sloth having his prosthetics applied for some reason), and had a hell of a time finding them.  Though I’d managed over the years to put my vast collection of sticker cards in binder pages, I had a ton of card sets that were literally laying all over in our second bedroom/office.  After an annoying search I finally found them, and then promptly went out and secured enough trading card pages to put everything I had in binders.  This was the first sign that I’ve been denying my problem with ephemera organizing, and that I needed to do something about it before the wife decided to call TLC and report me to Hoarders.


The second sign was when a friend mentioned that they wanted to see the Branded archive and to get a feel for the real location where this site is more or less broadcast out of.  Though we have a bunch of friends and family that come over to our place, none of them are all that interested in my nostalgic hobbies, so our second room has always been cluttered and a general mess.  The idea that I had some sort of archive for my collection was a little hilarious, at least an organized one.  Though I got a chuckle out of it, pretty soon I had to backtrack and ask myself why I wasn’t more on top of things with the various stuff I’ve been collecting and writing about all these years.  That weekend the wife and I took on the monumental task of sifting through every single piece of paper and plastic in that room (along with the “collection annex stashes” that littered the rest of our place) so that we could get this stuff properly organized.  The first step was tackling the dreaded closet.  That thing was packed floor to ceiling with 10 years worth of stuff, not all of it wanted or needed, and it took the better part of two days to get it all sorted, cleaned, and put into keep, toss and donate piles.  Along the way we found some things that we had completely forgotten we owned like a veritable arsenal of ninja-esque weaponry…


I mean, everyone has a set of batarangs, shuriken, nunchucks, and a couple samurai swords in their closet, right?  Hell, we were a bo-staff and a pair of sai away from outfitting the Ninja Turtles.  Anyway, though it seemed like it took forever, we finally managed to get it all done, and had two carloads of stuff to take over to the Goodwill.


If you’re wondering, yes we kept the weapons.  For one, I’m not sure if you can actually donate them to the Goodwill, and for another, well, you never know when Shredder and the Foot Clan is going to break into your home looking for the secret of the ooze or something.  When all was said and done we’d given away over hundred books, 30lbs of clothes, and a bunch of those white elephant-y gifts that you get from relatives, except they were serious when they handed them to us.  Though we appreciated the thought, we weren’t sure we were ever going to really find a use for the dragon in a glass ball with the strobe light attachment.  Trust me, it sounds way cooler than it actually was.

All of this work left us with a second bedroom that was feeling rather sparse now.  It used to do double duty housing half our library of books as well as our computer and my cartoon collection, but now most of the books were in the other room.  It was neat but sort of sad now…


Pretty much the only stuff on the walls were a couple of framed animation cels and my collection of 25th anniversary G.I. Joe figures.  The wife never uses the computer, so she basically turned the room over to me to do with as I pleased.  Immediately I began scheming, trying to figure out how I could convert the room into the cockpit of an AT-ST from Star Wars so that I could finally live out my dream of the perfect clubhouse I never had as a kid.  By the by, would you call the area in the AT-ST “head” a cockpit?  Anyway, since that was a dream that would never materialize (I don’t have access to the room from above anyway), I decided to instead stick with the idea of a clubhouse and proceeded to figure out a way that I could make this room feel like the 8 year-old me had decorated it.  The first thing I needed was to find the proper wall art!



It was hard narrowing it down as far as movie posters went, but I ended up picking a bunch of flicks that meant a lot to me growing up.  Some of these are replicas of posters that adorned my walls as a kid (Tales From the Darkside was one I loved), and others are for flicks that I’ve watched so many times I’ve just about memorized the scripts (UHF and Rad.)  These were all sized to 11×17 so that I could maximize the space by the way.  Not pictured are mini posters for The Lost Boys, The Monster Squad, and the Star Wars trilogy.  I didn’t just want to stick to movie posters though, and I was wracking my brain trying to figure out a way to represent some of these cherished movies from youth.  Then, last week, TL from Flashlights are Something to Eat pointed to a badass miniposter/prop from The Karate Kid featuring the tournament announcement as seen in the Cobra Kai dojo.  A geeky designer had recreated the poster pretty darn well and is offering the digital image of the poster for free on his site.  A quick trip to Kinkos, two bucks and a little white lie about this being a real tournament announcement later and I had my own copy for the Branded HQ wall!



I also really wanted to represent the Goonies, but again, not particularly with another poster.  I liked the idea of procuring some replica props from the film when I came across this awesome map on eBay!  Not only does it look great (aside from the Photoshop-y burnt edges), but it was only $10 and I am certainly on a budget with this clubhouse remodel.  Today I even managed to find some pretty authentic looking replicas of the map doubloon and the copper bones key as well.  I’m crossing my fingers that they’ll fit inside the frame I bought for the map…

When attempting to narrow down the number of posters I wanted to hang, there were a lot of runners up that I still really wanted to hang, but just didn’t have the room.  On a recent trip to Target though, I found a solution to this problem in super cheap decent looking 4×6 inch frames.  So another trip to Kinkos, and 4 bucks (plus $6 more for the frames) later I have a bunch of these to put up as well (I posed them with Brad Turner from M.A.S.K. for scale)…


I also framed a few more animation cels, some other original art and a couple prints.  I think I’ve done a pretty good job of capturing most of the nostalgic highlights, from toys and cartoons, to TV, Flims, and even stuff like the Garbage Pail Kids…



I even managed to pull in all of my favorite horror and nostalgia DVDs, as well as keeping a small bookcase just for my ridiculous Choose Your Own Adventure-style and novelization paperback collection.  Though I still have a few more odds and ends to frame and hang, I’ve more or less created an official Branded HQ/Clubhouse.  The last thing the room needed, in a “really tying it together” sort of way, was a lamp.  Wouldn’t you know it, Target had this brand new beauty on the shelf this week…


Now I can sit back and write in an environment exclusively designed to keep me Branded in the 80s.  Here’s to hoping I don’t spent all that time with a glazed look on my face just starring at the walls though…

  • Severed – Thanks! The GPKs are stickers from the 1985/86 set that were reissued at the time as “giant” 5″x7″ stickers…

  • Awesome room. Where is that Garbage Pail Kids art from? I like your Goonies / Karate Kid art pieces that are for “those in the know.”

  • Michael – Ha! I’ve actually never heard that ninja joke. Yeah, I know that earthquake was a real bitch for you guys. On the other hand, I feel so much better with all my stuff out and up on the walls. I want to see some pics!

  • Last time I had displayed all my stuff, there was a massive earthquake and it all fell down. Since then it’s all been in boxes. Summer vacation is coming up so I think I’ll tempt fate and set it up again. I’ll send you pics once I do. My favourite Ninja joke: Can he throw a Ninja star? Shuriken!

  • Great job on your toy room. I especially like the varied frame sizes for the different printed materials. I may have to borrow that idea :)

  • Paxton – Yeah, I guess that’s the best way to lose a man-cave though. Yeah, I can’t wait for the doubloon to get shipped so I can see if it fits int he frame. If not, guess I’ll have to find a giant shadowbox or something. Oh and I was so jazzed when I saw TL post it about that tournament poster at Flashlights are Something to Eat. Now if I could just find an affordable Airwolf flight helmet my clubhouse will be complete!

  • Awesome, Shawn. Nicely done. When we moved to Florida, I lost my own “man cave”. Very sad. Most of my stuff now sits in storage except for a small amount I keep on my desk at work. Kudos to the Young Guns poster. And the 4×6 idea for replica posters is brilliant. Lots more room to display. And the Goonies map/key/doubloon is a fantastic display. Hope to see it when it’s done. And, OMFG, that link to the All Valley Karate Championship poster was AMAZING. Thank you for that. I’ve also been lusting after this All Valley shirt for years but can’t bring myself to spend $20 for it: With child #2 on the way, I’m not sure I’ll get my office/”man cave” back for many, many years to come. Which is sad as I have no “HDQ” for the Cavalcade or the Nerd Lunch podcast. Pax

  • Jason – Thanks man! Yeah, we’ve been looking for a bigger boat too, but after doing all this work I think I can let the search rest for a couple years…

  • Awesome! Looks very cozy. I can’t wait til I have a chance to get “my own” room. :) I already have a pretty good idea in my head, now the wife and I just need to “find a bigger boat”. Again, very nice Shawn!

  • Slick – I’d love to see pics if and when you do! As far as the Hulk goes, I’m 99% sure it’s from the 2008 Hasbro movie line. It’s the one that talks and his eyes light up:

  • Tommy – Cool, it feels pretty rad to finally get stuff up. Much more homey. Yeah, I about died when I saw that lamp shade…

  • Absolutely amazing! Makes me really want to get to work on Open Your Toys HQ. I meant to ask this when you originally posted the lamp photo. Do know what Hulk figure that is specifically? Minimally what his copyright stamp says? Thanks.

  • Looks great! I’m undergoing something similar in my office right now. I’ve had a bunch of art prints I’ve been meaning to frame for over a year and I’m finally getting around to it. I love the lamp!