Category Archives: Branded in the 80s

These Should Exist: The Rad Edition

I’ve been having a ton of fun creating digital trading cards recently.  I think this project sort of falls inside the dead center of my Venn diagram that is a mix of being creative, learning to hone my Photoshop skills, and geeking out about all the 80s stuff that I love.  With that in mind I’ve had a hard time focusing on much else for the past few weeks and decided I might as well dive into creating another set of cards while I’m enjoying the hell out of it.  So over the past week I tackled another of my all time favorite films which also just happens to be criminally under-merchandused, the 1986 BMX-ploitation flick Rad!

Rad Wrapper

For anyone that’s been reading this site for any length of time or listened to the podcast I co-host, The Cult Film Club, it should be pretty clear just how much I love this flick. I must have rented this flick from the local mom & pop video store 2.6 million times as a kid and I was always bummed that it never caught on with audiences in the theater the way that it did on VHS and on cable.  Though this isn’t the sort of film that made sense to spawn a toy line, I always felt that the movie would have been perfect for adapting into one of those youth novelizations or, well, a trading card set…

Rad_3_Hal_combo

Rad_1_Cru_combo     Rad_2_Cru_Cant_combo

Rad_4_Bart_Taylor_combo     Rad_5_hanging_out_Combo

It’s weird, when I tackled this set I thought it was going to be a cake walk in terms of picking what scenes and characters to include on the cards.  I mean I love the crap out of this film.  But that actually became a problem because after I started compiling a list it was quickly topping out at one hundred cards.  Creating that many cards would have taken forever and I knew that I had to draw a line at around 30 cards.

Rad_6_Helltrack_combo

Rad_7_SgtSmith_Combo     Rad_10_DukeBest_combo

Rad_8_Wesley_combo     Rad_9_Mopheadboy_combo

Narrowing the list down was tough.  Sure, there were a bunch of cards I wanted to make that highlighted some of my favorite lines (“The only thing I’m good at is riding THIS bike!”, “Let’s Walk this sucker”, or “Gnarly!”), but when I was limiting myself to 30 these were some of the first to go.  I also wanted to include at least one card for ever major pro BMX rider featured in the film, but that would have been half the set right there.  So I ended up making sure that I at least included cards for the two main stunt doubles, Martin Aparijo and Eddie Fiola.

Rad_31-32

Rad_12_rexrod_combo

Rad_11_pegride_combo     Rad_15_qualifier_combo

Rad_13_wannadance_combo Rad_14_bikedance_combo

I also wanted to include cards for all the awesome bands and musicians on the soundtrack, I mean what is this movie without the sweet dulcet tones of John Farnham or Sparks?  Again, these had to go…

Rad_17_groupies_Combo

Rad_16_asssliding_combo     Rad_27_Timmer_combo

Rad_28_radracing_combo     Rad_29_bestbuds_combo

Rad_26_Christian_combo

There was also an issue trying to source enough interesting radical facts for the card-backs.  Again, since this movie never got the DVD treatment there were never any making-of documentaries shot, no director commentaries, etc.  There were a handful of BMX magazine articles and the official/unofficial commentary track that Bill Allen, Bart Connors, Sam Bernard, Martin Aparijo, Eddie Fiola, and Jose Yanez recorded last year that were invaluable for compiling the facts that made it onto the card backs.

Rad_23_Helltrack_combo

Rad_18_Cru_Bart_combo     Rad_19_Cru_360_flip_combo

Rad_20_Hulk_Hogan_combo     Rad_21_Bart_takesout_Rod_combo

Rad_22_Bart_Fair_Race_combo

All in all, I’m really happy with how the set turned out and I can add it to the list of digital trading cards that I can only dream about being real, sitting in binders between my Goonies and Little Shop of Horrors cards…

Rad_25_mikemiranda_combo     Rad_30_bicycleboogie_combo

Rad_24_Bart_joins_RadRacing_combo

Interview in Non-Sport Magazine

So, speaking of all these throwback digital trading cards I’ve been working on, I totally forgot that I was interviewed last October by Ryan Cracknell of Non-Sport Update Magazine (and his site Trader Cracks)!  Just got my hands on a copy of the issue, the Feb-Mar 2015 edition, Volume 26, Number 1.

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The interview mainly deals with the set of The Monster Squad cards I made last Halloween, but it also touches on my non-sport card collecting during the 80s as well.  Here’s a picture of the article if anyone’s interested in reading it…

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These Should Exist: The Young Guns Edition

I’m still toying around with the idea of making this a regular feature here at Branded, but after recently creating the sorely needed and non-existent Adventures in Babysitting cards a couple weeks ago I got to talking with my pal and Cult Film Club co-host Paxton about collaborating on a set of Young Guns and Young Guns II digital trading cards.  We both love those movies (as evidenced in our two-part double feature podcast from this past year), but I’d say that the love Pax has for the films is way, way up there, most definitely in the realm of my love of The Monster Squad.  So we hunkered down, traded notes on design and Photoshop secrets, and proceeded to create our own sets of Young Guns trading cards that we both believe should really have existed.

I’ll start off with series one, and as with any good set of 80s era trading cards we felt like we needed some rad wax wrappers.  For this set we created two, a hero…

Wrapper YG1 A

and a villain…

Wrapper YG1 B

As for the cards themselves, Pax and I are gonna split up the set we designed, each showcasing half.  If you want to “collect them all”, you’ll have to head on over to his bitchin’ site the Cavalcade of Awesome to get the rest.  Also, in terms of design, this Young Guns series one set provided the perfect opportunity to tap into a wonderful and wonderfully misused 80s era Topps card flourish, the mystifying real wood-bordered 1987 Baseball cards!

YG1_2_Doc

So, from my perspective, I both loved and loathed that ’87 wood border design back in the day.  That was the year I picked up the baseball card collecting bug and that Topps mega set (over 700 freaking cards) was my jam that summer and fall.  I mowed so many lawns to save up enough dough to collect that entire set one wax wrapped pack at a time, so I loved the entire experience collecting it and trading cards with my friends.

YG1_4_Chavez    YG1_6_Steve

Much like in the flick Big, there were plenty of “…need it, got it, got it, need it…” sessions with my buddies, but all of us were scratching our heads as to why Topps chose that weird ass border design.  Was it supposed to represent a close-up of a baseball bat?  Who knows.  What I thought at the time was that it made the set look like they were Bonanza cards, so when Pax brought up the idea of doing this Young Guns set I felt it was finally time to utilize this design in a way that it would truly shine…

YG1_8_Buckshot    YG1_10_Murphy

YG1_12_Spirit_World

Though these sets are pretty damn time consuming to make, I love the challenge they present to try and nail that 80s aesthetic in the look and “feel”.  With each passing set I work on I feel like I’m getting better and better at nailing that vintage look.  While Pax and I were making these and passing them back and forth we were both feeling that need to have these printed up for real so we could stick them in binders and stare at them all day long…

YG1_14_ReapIt

YG1_16_Iron     YG1_18_Pals

As I mentioned above, these are only half of the cards Pax and I designed.  If you want to collect the rest (of course you do!) then head on over to the Cavalcade and unwrap his Series 1 pack!

Of course, like most fans of the Young Guns movies (as well as Billy the Kid on film fans that dig these 80s interpretations), it’s hard to consider the one flick without the other.  Though it’s considered a sequel, the continuing story of Billy the Kid and the Regulators of Lincoln County New Mexico in Young Guns II really is just the second half of a larger single story.  So when we set out to make these cards for the 1988 film it was a given that we’d also have a Series 2.  Here’s a tease of one of the wrappers for that series we did, and we’ll release the full set of cards soon!

Wrapper YG2 B

Once again, if you dig these digital trading cards, please head on over to the Cavalcade of Awesome and complete your set!  For those taking a close look at the numbering, you might see that there are some chase cards for these sets that we’ll be sharing elsewhere as well!

You’re in love with a…WTF?!?

While discussing Mannequin on the latest episode of the Cult Film Club (a podcast I co-host) we brought up the fact that in the 80s “unconventional” romances on film was sort of a thing. You know, boy sculpts girl, boy gets fired for taking too long constructing girl, boy stumbles upon girl in a department store window, boy gets job at department store to be close to girl, girl turns out to be a real girl, they fall in love, boy ends up saving girl from a giant chipper/shredder. Your basic run of the mill love story for the 80s. Since this style of film was so prevalent during the decade, I thought it would be fun to rank my top 15 weird-ass WTF 80s romance flicks. Strangely enough, ONLY three of them star Jeff Goldblum!

#15: The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)

15 - Purple Rose of Cairo

Woman hearts Fictional Character

I first saw this on HBO back in the day and it broke my young mind. For those who haven’t seen it, this Woody Allen film stars Mia Farrow and Jeff Daniels and centers on Farrow’s character Cecilia falling in love with Tom (a fictional character in the movie within a movie played by Jeff Daniels.) Tom, having somehow noticed Cecilia watching him from the audience over and over, breaks the 4th wall (literally) and steps out of the film into the real world to get to know and eventually fall in love with Cecilia.

#14: Earth Girls Are Easy (1988)

14 - Earth Girls Are Easy

Woman hearts Blue Fuzzy Alien

What do you get when three horny (and rather furry) aliens crash land in Geena Davis’ pool while attempting to seek out some hairless female companionship? Hilarity. It’s also the first of three times that Jeff Goldblum finds his way onto this list. Written by kooky Julie Brown, this flick captures the WTF hyper-color weirdness aesthetic of the late 80s particularly well…

#13: Date with an Angel (1987)

13 - Date with an Angel

Man hearts a Real Life Angel

Proving that it’s possible to make a romantic film in the 80s about a man falling in love with an angel an not using Real Life’s Send Me an Angel, Date with an Angel is a rare gem indeed. Though it’s a romantic comedy, the premise is kind of WTF (aside from the fact that there’s angel romance in it) as the main character is about to die from a brain tumor when the angel sent down to fetch his soul accidentally crashes into a satellite, breaks her wing and falls into the main character’s swimming pool. Only in the 80s….

#12: Vibes (1988)

12 - Vibes

Psychometist Man hearts Trance Medium Astral Projectionist

Hello again Jeff Goldblum. Okay, so if you’re noticing, the general gist of this list involves rather normal people falling in love with abnormal beings, and technically this movie has two abnormal people falling in love with each other, but still, it’s such a weird romantic madcap romp that I had to add it to the list. Besides, it upped Jeff Goldblum’s participation to 20%! Either way, I love this flick as it’s fun watching Cyndi Lauper acting, something that she didn’t do nearly enough of back in the 80s…

#11: My Stepmother is an Alien (1988)

11 - My Stepmother is an Alien

Man hearts Super Hot Alien

This was one of those films that I completely missed out on back in the day but finally caught up with thanks to my CFC co-host Jaime. I love 80s era Aykroyd so it was awesome finally catching up with this flick where he plays a scientist working on sending radio waves into space. He stumbles across Kim Basinger, an alien from a world called Cosine N to the 8th, who is investigating the source of a disturbance that is wrecking havoc on her home world. The unlikely duo fall in love and in a very fish out of water setting we get to see Basinger’s Celeste discover a world of amazing experiences on Earth. Also, notable for introducing the world to a young Alyson Hannigan…

#10: Making Mr. Right (1987)

10 - Making Mr Right

Woman hearts Adorably Naive Android

This was one of those films that I saw two million times on Comedy Central throughout the 90s. Starring John Malkovich in the dual roles of scientist inventor Jeff Peters and his creation Ulysses, who is designed for replacing the human element in long term deep space flight. When Frankie Stone is hired to do PR for the Ulysses project she gets more than she bargained for when the android falls in love with her and the world he was created to leave.

#9: High Spirits (1988)

9 - High Spirits

Man hearts Ghost of Murdered Bride

This is another flick that I totally missed out on until recently when Jaime sat me down to watch it. I love The Gute, Steve Guttenberg, and as you’ll see Daryl Hannah is no stranger to starring in these types of weird, WTF romantic comedies. I’d also call this flick a hidden gem with some really fun performances by Liam Neeson, Jennifer Tilley, Beverly D’Angelo, and Peter freaking O’Toole.

#8: Electric Dreams (1984)

8 - Electric Dreams

Man & Obsessive AI Stalker Computer hearts Woman (who’s into the computer kinda)

Electric Dreams is one of those super weird early 80s flicks that was riffing on the whole 1984 “big brother” theme, but wrapping it up in a romantic pseudo-comedy. Miles in need of organizational help finds the “perfect” AI -driven computer, computer and Miles both fall for their new neighbor, Cellist Madeline, weird love triangle ensues. For fans of last year’s Spike Jonze flick Her, this movie feels like it was a heavy inspiration…

#7: Walk Like a Man (1987)

7 - Walk Like a Man

Woman hearts Man-Child who was Raised by Wolves

One of my favorite guilty pleases of the 80s, this flick is Howie Mandel at his best. The researcher/teacher/student/pet relationship between Penny (Friday the 13th Part 2‘s Amy Steel) and Bobo is beyond heart warming and the zany antics with Bobo’s brother and sister-in-law (Christopher Lloyd and Colleen Camp) are hilarious. To this day I still want to shove a Raisinet in the mouth of anyone who does good work…

#6: My Demon Lover (1987)

6 - My Demon Lover

Woman hearts Man Possessed by Horniness-Induced Demon

This is not a good movie. It’s actually really awful bordering on unwatchable in parts but I still have a soft spot in my heart for Scott Valentine (Nick from Family Ties) and can’t help but love the concept. As a horny young boy Kaz (Valentine) was cursed by the gypsy grandmother of his first kiss to forever become a horned demon whenever he gets, well, horny. Since then he’s roamed the streets of NYC as a begger bum who purposefully acts as obnoxious and chauvinistic as possible to avoid falling in love with a a woman he knows he’ll never get to keep. That is until he stumbles upon Denny (played by Michelle Little), a girl who specializes in hopelessly dating scum. Match made in Heav…er…Hell.

#5: Mannequin (1987)

5 - Mannequin

Man hearts Two Thousand Year-Old Egyptian Princess trapped in a Mannequin

What more can I say about this flick that we didn’t address in our most recent episode of the Cult film Club or on our 30 Things We LOVE About it list? Andrew McCarthy is at his Andrew McCarthy-iest and Kim Catrall is perfect as Emmy. Nobody said falling in love with a dummy would be easy…

#4: Weird Science (1985)

4 - Weird Science

Two boys heart the Woman of their Dreams, that they Built Themselves

How do you find the perfect woman if you’re a nobody dorky geek with only one friend? Easy, join forces with said friend, throw a copy of Frankenstein on the VCR, strap on your mother’s bra, hack governmental imaging software, feed in numerous magazine and newspaper clippings, and tap into the mystical wish fulfillment ether to will the perfect woman into the body of a Barbie doll you have hooked up with a battery. Easy peazy. Now break out the chips, dips, chains, whips, and .357 revolvers and get to it!

#3: The Fly (1986)

3 - The Fly

Woman hearts Man whose DNA fused with that of a Fly in a Teleportation Accident

I know what you’re thinking, this flick isn’t a romance. Well, even though it’s a horror film, I truly think that the core story is more of a dark romance, much like Clive Barker’s Nightbreed or Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead. Besides, this list didn’t have nearly enough Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis, so there. And who wouldn’t want to make-out with Seth Brundle, even during his vomiting on doughnuts and eating the liquidy after effects phase…

#2: Splash (1984)

2 - Splash

Man hearts Mermaid

Probably the most classic (and classy) of the WTF romances of the 80s, Ron Howard’s Splash set the bar for inter-species love. Also, is it just me or was Daryl Hannah born to plays roles like Madison? I mean highly emotive, mostly silent (I’m thinking Pris from Blade Runner, Ayla from Clan of the Cave Bear, etc.) This is also the film debut of the Tom Hanks that would steal all of our hearts throughout the decade. Also, eating lobsters shell-on is pretty hardcore…

#1: Howard the Duck (1986)

1 - Howard the Duck

Rock Star hearts Alien Duck

So I’ll be the first to admit that Howard the Duck isn’t really a romance, but as far as WTF romances go, the fact that it’s alluded to that Howard and Beverly “get it on” is amazing and awesome. Especially awesome for ducks hoping for some Lea Thompson love. In my book that makes it number one.

Peel Here #117: Nostalgia from two angles!

Getting old is weird.  As if succumbing to the crippling pull of childhood nostalgia in my mid-twenties wasn’t weird enough, lately I’ve been feeling a similar wave of emotion towards the content that I presented at the outset of this very website.  Back in 2006 when I started Branded I wasn’t sure exactly what form the site was going to take.  I know that I wanted to discuss a bunch of 80s era childhood memories, but I wasn’t concrete about how I was going to pursue that discussion.  It wasn’t until later in the year, after the podcasting bug had worn off a bit and I started switching my focus to writing that I hit upon something that really got me excited which was procuring a bunch of 80s era ephemera and scanning it to share and to be the spark of something to reflect on.  That’s when I decided to get my hands on as many examples of stickers from the decade that I could find, and in that search I reconnected with a piece of my childhood that (at the time) seemed that no one save one random eBay seller remembered, the 7-11 Slurpee lenticular rock coins from 1984-85.

301819436_c1e5d4398c_b

I was so happy to have found a set of these and even happier when I realized that these were actually stickers and not just collector coins.  I wrote about them back in November 2006 and after scanning them in and sharing them felt pretty confident that I had these little bits of lenticular nostalgia nailed down and “out of my system”.  A few months later in an attempt to recoup the costs of sourcing so many stickers for the site I decided to liquidate my rather larger collection of stickers in order to use the dough to buy even more.  This created a couple of issues though.  For one, at the time vintage stickers were pretty damn cheap on eBay as it seemed like no one was actively buying them.  My hope was that buy selling all the stickers in one large lot I would have a better chance at making back at least what I put into acquiring them as it was an instant collection (featuring pretty much everything I covered on Peel Here for the first 60-70 columns).  Unfortunately I ended up taking a bath on the auction barely making back a fourth of what I originally spent on the stickers.  To add insult to injury, over the next few months I started to notice that the prices of 80s stickers on eBay started to exponentially increase.  All of a sudden people were in the market, so the meager funds I was about to recoup didn’t stretch all that far.

7elevenrockcoins

Well, at least I still had all of the scans I made right?  I figured that if nothing else I had all the imagery of the stickers and felt certain at the time that when ever I felt the nostalgic wave of sticker love wash over me I could just flip though the image archives I have on the site and saved to my hard drives.  I didn’t think about it much for the next few years, but eventually, around 2010 I started wishing I hadn’t sold so much of my collection.  There were a couple of examples in particular that just didn’t translate into the scans as well as I’d hoped, specifically all of the Lazer Blazers holographic stickers and the various lenticular stickers.  It was next to impossible to get scans of both images featured on the stickers (as evidenced above.)  Thanks to friends of the site and some decent eBay auctions over the past 9 years I’ve been able to reacquire a bunch of the lenticular stickers (like the Transformers and Go Bots puffy stickers), but the price of Lazer Blazers and the 7-Eleven Slurpee Rock Coins have been way too high to justify.

Well, after years of waiting and watching eBay like a hawk I finally managed to reclaim a set of the 7-Eleven Rock Coins for a very reasonable price and was super thrilled when they came in the mail this past week.

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It’s so weird, but I feel like I’ve reconnected with an important part of what made Branded in the 80s work for me.  Back during the early days of the site I heavily used these in the site design.  Everywhere on the site that had bulleted lists (like the list of other sites I dig) I used a tiny sprite of the Dio rock coin.  It was too small for anyone to really notice, but I was happy knowing that they were plastered all over the site.

4

Looking back at the fact that I’ve almost been running this site for a decade has made me realize just how important it’s been in changing who I am, providing me with a ton of new connections to friends and was the portal to experiences that never would have happened otherwise.  These little lenticular stickers are a very specific symbol of that for me…

7  6

I’m glad I finally got my hands on these again, and having a second shot I’m gonna use this opportunity to showcase them a bit better by literally sharing them from different angles so hopefully folks can get a better view of them.  As an aside, I still find the collection of bands here really strangely eclectic (Rush, Loverboy, .38 Special, Go West, Ratt, Dio, Tears for Fears, Ozzy Osbourne, Huey Lewis and the News, The Police, Night Ranger, Billy Squier, Journey, Bryan and Adams, I guess it’s like MTV threw up all over these…)

5  3

Not only has almost entire decade past since I first shared these, but so many other things on the internet have changed that there are way more resources available to gleam a bit more of what the experience was like collecting these back int he day.  Back in ’06 there were a handful of vintage commercials available on youtube, but not quite to the extent that there are today where there seems to be a dedicated fanbase of people constantly ripping video from old VHS tapes.  So imagine my excitement when I stumbled upon this Slurpee commercial advertising these rock coins!

I’ve also since learned that this 1985 set is the second series.  There was another smaller series done in 1984 that had many of these same bands (and specific sticker coins), but there were a few differences including R.E.M., Krokus, the Tubes, and Big Country.  Also the Ozzy sticker was black instead of red.  I have yet to find a set of these 1984 stickers that aren’t astronomically priced, but there was one extremely blurry picture on eBay, so I figured I’d include it as proof that they exist.

$_57

It’s weird to realize that nostalgia is a motile phenomenon, that it grows with us as we age and isn’t just about the rose-colored view of our childhoods.  It’s also a very personal and selective thing that effects everyone differently.  Whereas I find myself getting nostalgic for the mid 2000′s and the start of Branded, I’ve yet to feel any real pull towards the my time as a teen in the 90s (which some exceptions for friends long gone).  Maybe it points to the fact that the 90s pop culture just didn’t grab me in the same way that the 80s have, and so that 80s nostalgia can jump to even my discussions about it.

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Either way, I finally feel a little bit more at ease knowing that I’ve reconnected with these small bits of my past yet again, and hopefully this time I’ll have the foresight to hold on to them.  Even the Billy Squier sticker coin, which was the first one that I pulled from the bottom of a Slurpee cup in the summer of 1985….

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These Should Exist: Adventures in Babbysitting Edition

This past October I had a whole hell of a lot of fun spending the entire month talking about one of my favorite movies of all time, The Monster Squad.  Part of what made those 31 days exciting for me was working on a project where I I got a chance to utilize my meager design skills to fix a hole in the pop culture past by creating a small set of vintage-style Topps trading cards for the film that never existed, but should have.  Not only was it fun to design and create them, but through doing that and sharing them I was able to chat a bit with a bunch of the cast and crew from the flick, and eventually a friend of the site (Justin) even took the time to actual print out a set of the cards and ship them to me from Australia!  So now I have them in 9-up card pages in a binder right next to my Goonies cards and Garbage Pail Kids, a true dream come true.

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That got me thinking about all the other films and TV shows that were never really merchandised back in the day, properties that I felt should definitely have left more collectibles in their wake.  So this past week I carved out some time to work on filling in another hole in the “These Should Exist” category by designing and creating a mini set of Topps-style trading cards for the flick Adventures in Babysitting!  So without further to do, here are some more digital trading cards to collect from Branded in the 80s…

Adventures in Babysitting Wax Wrapper

Part of what I love about working on stuff like this is getting a chance to visualize and design aspects of branding that could have existed 28 years ago.  I love wax wrappers from trading cards as it is, so screwing around in Photoshop designing them is a real blast.  They’re far from perfect, but I feel like they push that nostalgia button fairly well.

1 - combo

I also love the excuse to dig into a film I love to both take a closer look at it (sort of like I do with the Awesome 80s Bedrooms breakdowns, including the one I did featuring Sara’s room from Adventures in Babysitting) and find the little things that I never noticed before while passively watching, as well as curate a bunch of trivia for the flicks that not everybody may know.

2 - combo   3 - combo

4 - combo   5 - combo

That really applies to flicks like Adventures in Babysitting that have never had a real public outlet for discovering these kinds of behind-the-scenes facts and trivia.  Though the film has been released on every home video format from VHS & Laserdisc to DVD & Blu-Ray, there has never been an official making-of or any released commentary tracks.  All these home video releases have been bare bones affairs.

6 - combo   7 - combo

8 - combo   9 - combo

Similarly there was never an official souvenir magazine, and I haven’t been able to track down that make vintage articles about the making of the film because it wasn’t the sort flick that was covered by the geekier rags like Starlog or Fangoria.  In fact, the only piece of official non-video release merchandise that I know exists is the 1987 Scholastic/Point novelization of the flick.

10 - combo  11 - combo

12 - combo

13 - combo  14 - combo

So after combing through a bunch of more recent website interviews with the stars I was able to gleam some fun facts to share and ended up learning a lot more about the the film that I have previously known.  I guess that’s another great side effect of tasking myself with a project like this, it gives me an excuse to discover and read a bunch of interviews that I usually don’t feel like I have the time to dig into.

16 - combo

Bottom line, it’s a shame that a flick like Adventures in Babysitting never had fun junk to collect like souvenir magazines and especially a set of Topps (or Fleer or Donruss) non-sport trading cards back in the day.  So hopefully this scratches an itch for anyone who also wishes that these existed.

15 - combo

What other flicks and TV shows do you think should have had sets of trading cards?  I know I have a dream list that I’d like to work on.  Share your suggestions in the comments section below!

Peel Here #116: The Extra Terrestrial Edition…

4560287382_404990f06c_oLately I’ve been going back through some of my older sticker posts here at Branded and looking for gaps in what I’ve covered (80s pop culture-wise.)  I was kind of surprised that I never invested in any E.T. stickers when I initially started collecting.  So I’ve since remedied that and thought it was high time I shared the handful of stickers I’ve picked up over the last year.  E.T. the Extra Terrestrial is one of those touchstone flicks that basically defines the childhood experience of the early 80s, establishing and creating the template for the glut of kid adventure films that would come in its wake.

The merchandising blitz for the flick touched on pretty much every possible product from lunchboxes to toothbrushes, so it was no surprise when Topps released a set of trading cards and stickers in 1982…

Topps ET Wax Wrapper

Like a lot of the Topps card sets this one featured a sticker-card subset which featured 12 cards instead of the normal 11 that Topps typically issued.  Not only was there an extra sticker to collect, but it was presented in a slightly weird format.  Usually Topps featured full card size, die-cut stickers, and this one did have a lot of them, but two of the cards are actually comprised of 16 mini sticker sheets.  I think this is the only time Topps did this if I’m not mistaken…

1   3   5

2         4

6

7   8   9

10   11   12

As was pretty standard for the time there were 9 different card backs which form a puzzle poster…

cardback poster

Topps wasn’t the only E.T. sticker game in town though as the merch blitz for the film was pretty damn intense.  I’ve only managed to pick up a few other examples of stickers, though I think they’re pretty cool, in particular these Diamond Toymakers Sniff-Ums scratch and sniff stickers (also from 1982)…

ET

There were at least 4 different scents; from left to right Flower, Grape, Peanut Butter and Pine.  I love that the line art on these was repurposed so much within the set…

Next up is a Hallmark sticker sheet that I assume was meant for teachers to use on homework and tests….

23

I freaking love the idea of E.T. playing arcade games and I feel like this was a total missed opportunity in the film.  I was wonder if there were any Atari commercials featuring E.T. playing his doomed game, and sure enough there is a Christmas themed one where he does just that!  Also, while I’m on the subject there’s also another rad E.T. Atari commercial that features Andre Gower (Sean from Monster Squad) as Elliot too…

The last sticker I have to share today is another Hallmark sheet, though this one features just one single giant sticker…

Giant Sticker

I know there are way more E.T. stickers floating around out there (I’ve seen pictures of plenty of puffy and fuzzy stickers as well), but this is all I have in my collection.  Anyone have any other favorite E.T. stickers in your collections?

Awesome 80s Bedrooms: Who’s the Boss Edition

While writing about a bunch of these awesome bedrooms from 80s movies I figured at some point, if I want to keep finding new rooms to deconstruct I’d eventually have to branch out into TV series as well.  I was actually kind of psyched about this because I remember there being some amazing bedrooms in shows like Silver Spoons and Punky Brewster, and while both of those series do feature neat bedrooms (Rickey has a race car bed and Punky slept in a freaking wheel barrow/carriage) surprisingly there really is little to no actual pop culture junk to dissect.  Then the other night the girlfriend and I were watching some old episodes of Who’s the Boss when a bunch of fun stuff caught my eye in Johnathan’s room.  Enough that I felt like it warranted a bit more examination, so let’s take a closer look at Johnathan Bower’s awesome bedroom…

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As you can see in the screenshot above the majority of the stuff in Johnathan’s room is pretty generic kid’s junk ranging from the super cheapo carnival stuffed animals to over-sized novelty sunglasses.  But the Darth Vader Star Wars action figure carrying case caught my eye which is what prompted me to take a closer look at the room, so let’s start there…

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1). Kenner Darth Vader Star Wars Collector’s Case from 1980

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2). Giant Crayola Crayon Plastic Novelty Coin Bank

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3). Imperial Dragons & Daggers Battle Sword from 1983

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If ever there was a product in the 80s that I coveted hard core and never managed to procure it was those damn giant crayon banks.  At some point I managed to get my hands on a giant Coke bottle bank, but what I really wanted was the crayon bank because they looked so cool.  I remember seeing over-sized stuff like this in flicks like The toy, Big, and Jumpin’ Jack Flash and for some reason felt like my life wouldn’t be complete without one.  Guess I managed to survive alright though.  As for that Imperial Battle Sword, one of the set designers must of loved that line of toys because as you can see in this next shot Johnathan had practically one of every release from that series…

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4). Imperial Dragons, Knight & Daggers Sabretooth Serpent from 1983

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5). Imperial Dragons, Knight & Daggers Battle Beast from 1983

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6). Imperial Dragons & Daggers Fantasy Creatures from 1983

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7). Imperial Dragons, Knight & Daggers Rhino Revenger from 1983

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From what I can gather on these Imperial fantasy toys, they all came in multiple color combinations, so there were green and orange Sabretooth Serpents with red saddles as well as Purple and blue with gold (or red) saddles, and ever combo in between.  Any which way you cut it these were cheaper Masters of the Universe knock-offs that are pretty damn awesome for what they are.  Basically they were designed to be interchangeable with the MOTU figures as animal beast accessories that all came advertised with “12 Warrior Weapons” that you could use for your existing Masters figures.  Kind of ingenious.

Speaking of Masters of the Universe, the last main thing I wanted to point out in Johnathan’s room is a pretty super rare sought after item….

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8). Spectra Star Trap Jaw Kite from 1982

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These Spectra Star kites were freaking awesome and featured an almost 5 foot full body version of the character.  I love that Johnathan has his hanging on his wall (as it’s what I would do with one if I could get my hands on a cheap one now.)  From time to time you see the He-Man and Skeletor kites pop up on ebay, but I’ve never seen a Trap Jaw.

Huge thanks to Liz Vitale from the rad Puppatoons site for identifying a couple more toys!  When it comes to stuff like plush dolls and horses, unless they’re Ewoks or 30-30 from Bravestarr I’m pretty clueless, so thanks Liz for adding a bit more info!  Here they are…

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9). JC Penny Exclusive Breyer Chestnut Stallion from 1982

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10). Giant Pink stuffed Snake from Kay Bee Toys

Pink Stuffed Snake from Kaybee Toys

Be sure to check out all the other Awesome 80s Bedrooms I’ve deconstructed

Chef Boyardee Mini Ravioli is in my DNA…

5741481453_25e5050515_oChef Boyardee is what being six years-old tastes like. Of all my senses the sheer power of the one-two punch of taste and smell as a means of time travel is unrivaled. Sure, the immediacy of sight, seeing imagery of our favorite toys, clothes, TV shows and movies is transportive, and audio, hearing favorite songs, dialogue from movies, or something as incidental as the specific ring my childhood telephone made is enveloping. As far as touch is concerned, for me this is the sense that is overshadowed the most by the others as it’s the one that is next to impossible to turn off and thus it just becomes a part of being. I’m hardly totally discounting it, I mean I have very distinct memories of what it felt like to play with Lego for instance, the sharp edges, the pain under my fingernails from hours of trying to pry apart two flat 1×2 pieces, or the way it felt to chew on one of the bulbous rubber Space set tires. But of all my senses the almost inseparable combination of taste and smell has the unique ability to overwhelm me, almost drowning me in a flood of memory, almost literally enabling me to travel back in time when I reconnect with certain stalwart flavors.

admin-ajax.phpeThis past December I decided to relocate, packing up all my collectible junk and moving from Atlanta to Baltimore. Though I’d hardly say that I’ve been homesick these past three months (I had no problem trading in the Falcons for the Ravens, peaches for crabs, or the really shitty traffic on I-85 for the really shitty traffic on I-95), I have been feeling the pull for homey comfort food. I’m sure part of this is dealing with my first real snowy winter in the last 25 years, as well as wanting to lean on some small part of my past, something that feels like it’s a part of my down to the level of my DNA. While doing some grocery shopping and browsing the aisles of my new local supermarkets I was on the hunt for something that would make me feel like a kid again, something easy, cheap, and undeniable; something that hasn’t changed over the last three decades. For me this pretty much meant picking up a can of Chef Boyardee Mini Ravioli.

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Of all the branded food products I grew up with none had quite the impact on my life as Chef Boyardee, positive and negative. I’ll be the first person to admit that it’s not good food. Hell, even as a kid I know that, and now that I’m a “responsible” adult doing my best to watch what I cram in my body, these heavily processed cans of pasta are probably right under the 1lb block of Velvetta on the list of things that humans should never consume. Even though I know for a fact that my consumption of way too much Chef Boyardee as a kid let to my issues with weight as a kid, the nutritional value isn’t really what I’m getting at. Without these cans of faux Italian goodness I sometimes wonder if I’d be as comfortable in the kitchen as I am today.

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In the eighties I had two distinctly different experiences with Chef Boyardee Mini Ravioli that changed my life for decades. I was six at the time of my first life changing event. My family lived in a quaint slice of suburbia in Tampa, Florida and my best friend was a kid from down the street named Anthony. I remember that his parents were a little on the eccentric side, in fact my dad always used to joke about the fact that Anthony’s father caught and caged a peacock he found on the golf course that butted up to the back of his property. They kept the bird in their garage and always had the door rolled up so they could display it to the neighborhood as a sort of status symbol. I actually thought it was pretty cool and totally identified with how his dad must have felt when he caught it. I myself spent an inordinate amount of time as a kid searching that golf course for wildlife and was always coming home with a mini travel cooler filled with creek shrimp, crawfish, turtles and frogs. At some point during that summer of ’83, Anthony, his little sister and I ventured out onto the green that was beside his house. There was a short bridge that connected a path leading around the green over a small creek that ran alongside it, and underneath where the earth had eroded away there was a decent amount of natural red clay soil exposed. We dug up a couple buckets full of clay with the idea of making some small pottery that we could sell to the neighborhood. We spent the afternoon shaping crude clay ashtrays and a couple sad little clay ducks before leaving them in his driveway to bake under the scorching Florida sun.

Anthony’s mom came out and saw us completely filthy; arms and clothes caked in orange clay mud, and immediately pulled us into the house to get washed up. I remember being very concerned about leaving my handiwork outside and unsupervised where anyone could swipe it and told her as much. Though I don’t remember her exact reaction, I’m pretty sure she had a laugh at that and she ended up buying my duck and ashtray for $15 to put my mind at ease. By the time we were mostly free of mud, and she’d sent the two kids to their rooms to change into fresh clothes it was starting to get dark out. I remember feeling a little strange in their house because I hadn’t really spent much time inside it before and it smelled completely different than my own home. Anthony’s parents didn’t smoke like mine did, and there was a very flowery scent that wafted up from the carpet from the powdered deodorizer I saw his mom using while I waited for Anthony to get done changing.

The family invited me to stay for dinner, so I called home and asked if I could stay out past the time when the street lights came on (the international sign for when to call it quits) to have dinner with Anthony’s family. I must have gotten the okay because the next thing I recall is sitting up on a stool at their kitchen counter with a view of Anthony’s mom breaking out a few cans of Chef Boyardee. I can still see the yellow cans when I close my eyes and remember being excited. Well, that was until I saw his mom bring out a frying pan and crack a couple of eggs into it. My mom was never one to cook breakfast for dinner, so I had no idea why she was frying up eggs when there was also some ravioli simmering on the stove next to it. What happened next changed the way I would view food for the next 30 years. Anthony’s mom dished out two bowls of ravioli for us and topped each one with a sunny side up fried egg. I can’t quite explain why, but the sight of Anthony breaking into the super runny yolk and mixing it with a heaping spoonful of Chef Boyardee made me so disgusted that I freaked out a little. It’s not that I had an issue with either the pasta or runny eggs, I loved both, but the combination of the two had me so nauseous that I had to abruptly excuse myself and I ended up running home, crying and feeling really weird and embarrassed.

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I’m not sure exactly what it was about that mix of food, carpet cleaner, and the strange (to me) odors in the house, but from that day forward it because nearly impossible for me to eat food prepared by anyone besides my parents or stuff I’d get out at fast food or restaurants. Whenever I attempted to eat outside my comfort zone I would have a physical reaction to the food, usually gaging or dry heaving. School lunches, eating at friend’s houses, visiting family, pot lucks at work, or dinner with the in-laws became my own private hell over the next three decades. I spent the first two years of middle school only eating Hostess Dunkin’ Sticks out of the vending machine instead of ever attempting getting a real plate of food. I’ve made so many excuses for why I wasn’t hungry or didn’t feel well as an excuse not to eat that people started to think I had serious health issues.

Over the past few years I’ve loosened up quite a bit, and I think I’ve finally managed to shake my food phobias. Though I’ve always been able to eat stuff that I’ve prepared myself (even weird stuff), the idea of mixing eggs and canned pasta has sort of haunted me. The other morning I was making breakfast for my girlfriend and she requested fried eggs sunny side up so she could dip some toast in them. I’d actually gotten up a bit earlier than her and wanting something comforting I already had a bowl of mini ravioli prepared for myself. While frying my girlfriend’s eggs I screwed up and broke the yolk on one, so I set it aside and made another. Not wanting to waste any food I unconsciously plopped the egg on top of my bowl of ravioli and proceeded to eat. It wasn’t until I was finished that I realized what I had done and the memories of that night in Anthony’s house came flooding back. Sometimes it’s strange the way we change as we age. I’m not sure what triggered inside that let the phobia subside, but I’m glad that I’m more or less free of the fear of eating.

admin-ajax.phpGetting back to the positive way the Chef has changed my life, I’d have to go back to sometime during the fall of 1985. I had just turned eight and was just starting the third grade. That was an interesting time for me because we’d just moved from Tampa to Orlando into another super quaint suburb of Florida and all of a sudden the scope of my world had grown exponentially. For the first time I was allowed to leave the neighborhood so that I could ride my bike the mile and change to my elementary school. I started earning an allowance and found myself “flush” with five bucks a week at a time when most of the stuff I wanted cost between $0.25 and $1.99. And it was around this time that my parents decided to trust me to use the stove top burners to “cook” my own lunches when I got home from school and on the weekends. Now I use the term cook lightly here because all I was really doing was heating up junk that I dumped out of a can into a saucepot (almost exclusively Chef Boyardee Mini Ravioli), but this was an important step for me at an age when I was being seduced by the siren call of fast food. Granted, I was still eating a form of fast food, but it was a form that I had to “cook”. It took a modicum of effort and got me comfortable with using a stove and making stuff for myself.

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This is most likely what urged my mother to buy me a copy of the Betty Crocker Cookbook for Boys and Girls that same year, which seriously upped my game in the kitchen (well, if making hot dog pizza and eggs baked in bologna cups game changers.) By the time I was in my late teens I was regularly cooking for myself at a time when none of my friends were willing to do much more than nuking their lukewarm chicken McNuggets in the microwave. It seems like such a trivial thing, but when I think back on it, having the freedom to cook my own mini raviolis was the catalyst that has led me to being as competent as I am in the kitchen today.

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In a lot of ways, for good or for ill, Chef Boyardee really is part of my DNA. When I’m in the mood for comfort, when I seriously want to time travel back to the eighties, all I have to do is crack open a can, heat it up and with the first spoonful I’m instantly 30 years younger in a way that watching cartoons, reading old kid’s books, or playing around with my vintage toys can never unlock.

Awesome 80s Bedrooms: The Boy Who Could Fly Edition!

It’s been a little while since I took the time to deconstruct an awesome 80s kid’s bedroom and I was recently in the mood to re-watch some Fred Savage movies so I thought it was high time that I take a closer look at Louis’ room from the 1986 flick, The Boy Who Could Fly!

Boy Who Could Fly PosterIt’s been forever since I saw this movie the last, in fact it was probably sometime in 1987 when it was playing non-stop on HBO.  This flick is sort of feels like a made-for-tv after school special, but it’s actually the big screen follow-up project for Nick Castle after his work on The Last Starfighter.  It’s one of those movies that most of my friends from high school and on never saw when they were young and thus they would never believe me when I described it.

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Though he only had a supporting role, this was the film that introduced me to Fred Savage and of all the neat 80s rooms I saw on screen as a kid, Louis’ was the one I coveted the most.  I think a lot of this had to do with the fact that both his character and I were slightly obsessed with G.I Joe toys as you’ll see in this break down.  So lets dig into the room and all of Louis’ stuff…

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1). G.I. Joe Sleeping Bag

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2). Alton Tobey Print of the Apollo 11 Astronauts

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3). Teddy Bear Lamp

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4). G.I. Joe HQ Command Center playset from 1982

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5). Sentinel Toy Robot by Kamco

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5a). Imperial Great White Shark and Frilled Dinosaur toys

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In the above screenshot we get the largest amount of non-G.I. Joe toys in Louis’ room.  There’s some more miscellaneous stuff on his desk in another shot, but there isn’t a good enough angle to really get a look at what’s there.  Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the rad dirt bike wallpaper.  Pretty much everything from here on out is G.I. Joe stuff, like this better look at the stuff at his feet…

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6). G.I. Joe Slugger from 1984

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7). G.I. Joe Footloose Action Figure from 1985

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8). G.I. Joe Amphibious Personnel Carrier from 1983

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9). G.I. Joe Wild Bill figure from 1983 (Pilot of the Dragonfly helicopter)

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10). G.I. Joe Spirit action figure from 1984

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11). G.I. Joe Recondo figure from 1984

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12). G.I. Joe MOBAT (motorized battle tank) from 1982 *UPDATED* Road Power Commander’s Tank by Echo (Thanks tothe rad @Twitziller for the correction!)

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13). G.I. Joe Thunder action figure (driver for the Slugger) from 1984

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One of the things I noticed while re-watching this flick is that Savage’s character Louis has a ton of multiple figures and vehicles.  For instance in the shot above you can clearly see three Thunder and two Footloose action figures.  Later there are multiple Barbecue figures and Cobra F.A.N.G. helicopters.  Bottom line, his mother loved him.  Also, the super cool Rob Lammle (SpaceMonkeyX) pointed out that there is a Doc figure I neglected to mention in the shot above, Thanks Rob!  Upon further inspection I also noticed a Cobra Eels figure on the back of the tank too, and @twitziller pointed out that there’s a Firefly figure on top of the APC.

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14). G.I. Joe Cobra Rattler from 1984

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15). Gumby and Pokey bend-em figures

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16). G.I. Joe Dragonfly helicopter from 1983

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17). G.I. Joe Skystriker from 1983

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18). G.I. Joe Cobra F.A.N.G. from 1983

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19). Customized Tonka Sidewinder Cycle from 1984

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I think it’s interesting that the set designers/prop masters chose to repaint and augment a Tonka Sidewinder big wheel to look like it was army themed instead of just buying an actual G.I. Joe branded cycle.  They were both available at the same time.  Either way, because of the new paint job Louis’ cycle had it took me forever to identify it…

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20). G.I. Joe Torch action figure from 1985

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21). G.I. Joe Alpine action figure from 1985

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22). G.I. Joe Mutt action figure from 1984

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23). G.I. Joe RAM motorcycle from 1982

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There’s definitely a story point about it in the actual movie, but can I just say how adorable it is that Louis buried his “fallen soldiers” in actual graves in his back yard? As I mentioned, this is brought up in the flick when he freaks out one stormy night and goes out back digging through the mud looking for some of them as you can see below.  Maybe this is why his mother always bought him so many doubles…

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24). G.I. Joe Barbecue action figure from 1985

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25). G.I. Joe Snow Job action figure from 1983

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That about does it for Louis’ room and toys.  I wanted to take a second and give a huge shout out to the amazing 3D-Joes site where I sourced the images for all of these toys.  They are doing an amazing job of showcasing the classic Real American Hero toy line with scans, photos, and 3D turnarounds that you need to see to believe.  They also have a bunch of prints for sale including some really great ones that cobble together all the carded G.I. Joe action figures from 1982-1989.  I have both of these and they are hanging proudly in Branded in the 80s HQ!

If you enjoyed this breakdown, here are a bunch of other Awesome 80s Bedrooms I’ve deconstructed…

Sean’s Room and The Monster Squad Clubhouse!

Sara’s Room from Adventures in Babysitting

Eugene’s Room from The Monster Squad

Mikey’s room from the Goonies

David’s room from Flight of the Navigator

Robbie’s room from Poltergeist

Ben’s room from The Explorers

Pee Wee’s room from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure

Elliott’s room from E.T. Part 1 Elliott’s room Part 2

Fred Savage’s room from The Princess Bride

Josh’s room from Big

Sarah’s room from Labyrinth