Category Archives: The League

The Branded in the 80s Mixtape, sponsored by The League…

**Update, the 15th and final Mixtape has now been sent out.  Thanks everyone who requested one!**

This week’s assignment from the League is all about the tunes we used to jam back in our high school days, and the mixtapes we made along the way.  Basically, the deal is to construct a 12-song mixtape of what we were listening to in our cars at the time.  I didn’t get my first hand-me-down car until I was 19, but between 1991 and 1995 I was the consistent co-pilot of my friend’s run down gun metal grey Chevy Caviler.  To be honest though, I don’t remember if his car stereo even worked, so I don’t have a ton of memories cursing the back roads of our town listening to anything but each other’s dumb jokes and laughter.


I did, however, spend an inordinate amount of time waiting after school (like 3 hours a day) for rides from my parents as I moved outside of the district a year into high school and didn’t want to change schools.  So I was the guy curled up in a corner of an out-of-the-way hall with my walkman on full blast trying my best not to go insane while I waited.


For this assignment, I want to do things a little different.  Instead of simply listing my twelve top tunes from that era, I’m going to make some actual mixtapes (on CD) of these songs I loved at the time.  I’ll send out copies of this Branded mixtape to the first 15 people who e-mail me!  Make sure to include your snail mail address, and put “Branded Mixtape” in the subject line.  I thought this might be a bit more fun, and a slightly more visceral way of doing the mixtape.

I will say that some of the songs should be no surprise to anyone who has read Branded for any length of time, but, especially for the time, I listened to some goofy stuff.  Anyway, lets see how this turns out.

If you have a moment and would like to see what some of the other League members put together, mixtape-wise, why not visit some of these fine sites…

Reis, The Lair of the Dork Horde, bangs his head along to some choice thrash metal

Jaime, Shezcrafti, literally parties like it’s 1999

Paxton, Cavalcade of Awesome, unearth’s one of his old hip hop mixtapes

TL, Flashlights are Something to Eat, also manages to put his hands on an actual mixtape he made while visiting his brother at his radio station gig

Eric, Toyriffic, mixes up some classic rock and hair metal on his tape

Brian, Cool & Collected, wants you to know that he’ll be there for you

Dex, AEIOU and sometimes why, gets hot for teacher while doing a bunch of scissor-kicks

Cue Lyndsy Buckingham’s Holiday Road and take a trip with the League…

This week’s assignment from the League is all about capturing the last vestiges of summer and planning a dream pop culture road trip.  Honestly, I’m sort of sick of summer and am ready for it to be Halloween, but that won’t stop me from pondering what I’d do with two weeks and the whole country to see.  For me, a road trip of this magnitude would have to hit on a few of my travel goals, so real quick, aside from the pop culture shenanigans I’d also like to cross off a couple other “to do’s”, namely visiting another country and seeing the west coast.  I’ve spent my entire life up and down the east coast from Maine to Florida, but I’ve never been further west than Austin, TX, and I was less than a year old at the time.  So with those two goals in mind, I decided that the best way to really get the most out of the experience would be to make one huge circle across the country, dipping into Canada along the way…


All in all, there are six stops I’d like to make along the way that I think would knock out most of the main sites I want to hit some day.  Since I was born in Texas and haven’t been back since I was a baby, my first stop would be in the lone star state to visit a very specific house that resides in Kingsland.  This is a house that haunted my dreams years before I eventually saw the film that made it famous, a house that my mother warned me about a million times as a kid, from a film that she made me swear that I wouldn’t watch until I turned 18 (the one exception to the rule of letting me watch whatever I wanted beginning at age 10.)  The homestead from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre


Though the house and filming originally took place in Quick Hill (Austin), it was purchased and moved to Kingsland back in 1998.  It was a restaurant for a time, but I believe it now sits empty waiting for a buyer.  Anyway, when I finally turned 18 I had a hard time mustering up the nerve to watch the film, not because I was afraid of what I might see, but because my mother was so adamant about avoiding it.  She had the opportunity to see the flick in the theater when it was first released and it basically traumatized her.  In reverence to my mom I waited until I was in my late 20s to finally catch the film and somehow it managed to live up to my exceedingly high expectations and I really do consider it one of my all-time favorite horror films.  I’m sure while I’m there I’d swing past my old house in Austin as well, but this would be the star of the lone star stop on this trip for sure…

The next official stop on this whirlwind road trip across the country would be in a very picturesque town in one of the most visited film locations in the country, the Warner Brothers back lot in Burbank, California.  On the lot there’s an outdoor filming town called Midwest Street where so many of my favorite films were at least partially made including Gremlins, Back to the Future, The Lost Boys and The Monster Squad.  Specifically, there is a church on this street that was featured prominently in The Monster Squad and The Lost Boys that I would love to visit.  Maybe fill up a canteen of “holy” water, or at least stand outside and kick the door a few times, cursing it for being closed when I’d really like to go inside and hide while trying to blow a hole in Limbo…


I’m sure I’d find a bunch of awesome stuff to see on the back lot, but I think the church represents the site the most in my mind…

After yelling at myself to not kick a church (because it’s religious and stuff), I’d make my way north, up to the great costal wood of Astoria, Oregon to visit the second and final house on the trip, the Walsh family home from the Goonies


I’m sure this one, and the area as a whole, will quite possibly make a lot of these Road Trip lists, but I can’t help it.  The Goonies is probably one of the most important movies to me as a nostalgic 30-something and at some point I’d love the chance to gaze on this landmark.  I’m sure I’d also take the opportunity to break out a dirt bike and ride down to the spot where the convenience store was, as well as the jail and the beach so I could pull out my replica Spanish medallion to line up the rocks, but getting a few seconds to take a gander at the Walsh house is what would really make it feel real to me.

After misting up and wiping back some happy tears, I’d finally take the opportunity to leave this fine country and head up to Alberta, Canada, specifically Cochrane, so that I could visit another holy movie site, the high school that was used in the film Rad.


This stop would be all about finding a way to break into the school gymnasium so that I could do a little bit of solo BMX bike dancing while listing to Real Life’s Send Me an Angel on my iPod.  I’ll just need a few minutes alone, mostly because I’m no freestyler on a bike, but this would be just for me…

While in Canada I would be remiss if I didn’t take the opportunity to drive across the great country, seeing the majestic sites, eating some Tim horton’s doughnuts and eventually making my way back across the continent to Toronto so that I could take a kick ass site seeing tour of all the prominent Kids in the Hall filming locations (as well as some other historical KITH sites.)


The Kids in the Hall are for me what Monty Python was to the generation before, single-handedly warping my mind and opening my eyes to a whole comedic world that astounds me to this day.  Dave, Bruce, Kevin, Mark and Scott all qualify for sainthood in my book, and I’d love to belly up to Buddy’s bar, walk down the street where the “good looking slick dude” strolled, or see the famous Rivoli where they got their start.

Since I started the trip with some intense horror, I thought it would be only fitting to end it on the “other” landmark of the genre, the Monroeville Mall in Pittsburgh, PA…


Easily considered horror Mecca, this mall is of course home to the filming of the great George A. Romero film, Dawn of the Dead.  What can I really say other than I’d love the opportunity to make a couple laps through this place, pantomiming zombie pie fights and pretending that there’s a living dead Hare Krishna stumbling along behind me the whole time.  My only regret would be that I wouldn’t be able to leave by helicopter from the roof.

Well, there it is.  I’m sure there are a million other places I’d like to go, but this itinerary would go a long way to knocking stuff off the bucket list and it just makes sense to me.

If you have a second, you should check out these other League members and their pop culture road trips!

Jamie, Shezcrafti, fires up the Mirth Mobile and sets out on adventure!

Mr. R, The Man Who Stares at Toys, sticks to the coasts and looking for zombies and famous California dining establishments!

Jason, Rediscover the 80s, revs up the Family Truckster and covers most of the east coast and some of the midwest!

Brian, Cool & Collected, goes on a pop culture shopping spree across the nation!

Brother Midnight, Green Plastic Squirtgun, keeps his trip small, but fully packed with sights!

All I can say about this week’s assignment from the League is, well, I Don’t Know!

It’s been a few weeks since I was on the ball enough to participate in a League Assignment, but this week’s topic was too broad to pass up.  Brian over at Cool & Collected gave us one simple word.  Green.  I wracked my brain and all I could think of was, well, I Don’t Know!

So without further to do, here are eleven of my favorite You Can’t Do That on Television cast members getting slimed!

Moose and Kevin

moose  kevin

Alasdair and Lisa

alasdair  lisa

Vanessa and Adam

vanessa  adam

Doug and Justin

doug  justin

Matthew and Stephanie

matthew  stephanie

And of course this list would never be complete without Les Lye as Ross…


I was a little bummed that I couldn’t find a screen shot of Abby (the Mom, Librarian, all the adult women, etc.), but know that she’s getting slimed in my head right now…

If you have a second, check out these other League members for their take on being Green…

Paxton, Cavalcade of Awesome, shows us his green and fizzy side!

Jaime, Shezcrafti, breaks out the Turtle Wax and gets bodacious!

TL, Flashlights are Something to Eat, puts on a record and get’s grouchy and mean about green jeans!

Reis, The Dork Horde, gets artsy with some independent zombies!

Brother Midnight, Green Plastic Squirtgun, lets the monsters out to play!

Brian, Cool & Collected, doesn’t think you’ll like him when he’s angry!

The League: The only thing that makes me feel patriotic!

The new topic for the League actually covers two weeks (with the next being a holiday and all.)  Since it’s almost July 4th, Brian decided to pose the question of what is our favorite patriotic pop culture, be it movies, TV, or what ever.  What gets us to stand up and salute Old Glory.  To be honest, I’m not typically the most patriotic guy, not even with my love of G.I. Joe.  But there are approximately three minutes and thirteen seconds of animation that open G.I. Joe the movie that will always get me on my feet and screaming “yahoo” while waving an imaginary cowboy hat and firing off a make-believe gun into the air.  For those of you not familiar, the opening title sequence of the 1986 Sunbow/Marvel G.I. Joe animated movie is probably the most exciting, the most condensed, and arguably the most artfully animated segment of G.I. Joe that the studio ever released.  It’s also the most patriotic piece of animation I’ve ever witnessed, next to some of the School House Rocks segments of course, but with a billion times more explosions and lasers that SHR ever dreamed of…

For those of you who want to watch along at home, here’s a youtube clip of the segment…


The segment opens in space where the stillness is interrupted by a streaming comet zigzagging across the screen.  Of course the comet is revealed to be the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero logo, which bursts into view with a hail of fireworks…



This leads down to New York harbor at night, I’m guessing on July 4th because the Statue of Liberty is swathed in yet more fireworks and a metric ton of floating balloons…


We all know that there is only one thing that can interrupt the festivities, the fearful cry of “Cobra!”, as their helicarrier comes crashing through the sky dispensing a multitude of Cobra paratroopers onto Ellis Island…


One of the aspects that I love so much about this opening sequence is how dynamic the animation is and how close we end up getting to the action.  Sometimes too close, as in that worms-eye-view nut-shot of the Cobra paratrooper literally tea-bagging the audience…


There are a lot of fun angles though, in particular this shot of a Crimson Guard member punching into the screen, shattering what at first seems like our collective TV screens, but instead is the lens of a camera that was filming the attack.  If this sort of stuff was in every single episode of the regular series it really would have pushed it over the top, but I’ll settle for this three minutes of glory…




Of course, there’s only one thing that can turn the tide of a flood of serpents this thick, Duke, his bazooka, and a well placed scream of “Yo Joe!”


Though they’re featured in earlier episode of the series, this segment is a veritable advertisement for rocket-propelled human flight as every single Joe team member has their own freaking jetpack!


Another aspect of this intro that is so darn cool is that it pretty much features at least a half second segment highlighting just about every single member of the Joe team up until this point.  Even folks that really aren’t required when defending the Statue of Liberty from attack like Iceberg or Recondo, but I’m still happy to see them.  It’s also some of the best footage of the Cobra BATS, which were an awesome concept and toy, but were never utilized very well in the series…


Being just as wonderfully ludicrous as the series itself, Cobra’s master plan is to distract G.I. Joe with about a million and a half Troopers, which Cobra Commander secretly flies down to the Statue to set a timed bomb.  Overkill?  Sure, but why attack if not in style!


As far as patriotism goes, this three minutes features some of the best Statue of Liberty-based action this side of Remo Williams.  Forget that stupid battle at the end of the first X-Men movie (I’d much rather edit this sequence into that film frankly…)


Not only is the action awesome, but some of the character get a chance to be the badasses that their file-cards eluded that they were.  Case in point Snake Eyes.  Again, underutilized in the main series, in this segment he get a chance to ninja flip onto a Trouble Bubble, kicking out the pilot, and stealing the aircraft!



Not to be outdone, Alpine gets in on the action and uses his grappling hook gun to snag onto a speeding Firebat.  He then smashes his way into the cockpit, sending the vehicle plummeting to the ground, all while flinging himself off and snagging a ride on Snake Eye’s Trouble Bubble…




The best part?  Snake Eyes gives Alpine the international mute sign for “Nice Job” in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it beat before picking him up.  This three minutes is so jam packed with stuff I had to watch it like ten times to get all of these screencaps!


This is about the part where my inner eight year-old takes over and I can’t help but talk back to the screen narrating everything that I’m seeing…

“And then Duke Punches Cobra Commander off the statue!” I’m assuming he saying something like “…the lady said she didn’t want to dance!” as he did it too…


“And then Junkyard, Freedom and Scarlet pummel Torch!”



“And then Jets, firing missles!”


“And then Roadblock knocks the crap out of some Vipers!”


“And then General Hawk and Duke are shooting like Rambo!”



“And flint is beating up like 20 cobra vipers!”  Okay it’s four, but still…


(pant, wheeze, pant, pant…)

Now that I have my breath back, we’re at the crescendo of this sequence as Duke finds the bomb planted by Cobra Commander and he snags it, flying up to the helicarrier and planting it there with only seconds to spare…



Of course we get a very satisfying scream of “Retreat!” from CC before the patriotism ramps up to a fever pitch as…


…Duke grabs a flag lying on the ground and zooms it up to the top of the statue!



At this point all I can think is that G.I. Joe and America rules!


The rest of the movie is fun, but it’s nothing compared to these first three minutes.  Oh and for the record, I made sure to use exactly 50 screen captures, one for each and every state in this country.  How’s that for patriotism?  Yeah, I guess it’s not all that patriotic, but it sure did take a long time to snag and code them all…

Like what you read here?  Why not visit some of the other League members who weighed in on this week’s topic…

Reis, Lair of the Dork Horde, also talks about G.I. Joe this week!

Brother Midnight, Green Plastic Squirtgun, talks about Team America!

Adamotomy talks about Bomb Pops!

Brian, Cool & Collected, salutes along with the Hulkster and the Demon?!?

Newt, Infinite Hollywood, has three words for you, Hacksaw Jim Duggan!

Jamie, Shezcrafti, pulls out all the stops with cursing, Powers, and Fonda boobs!

Tim, Flashlights are Something to Eat, brings the music and some subliminal patriotism in the Alf cartoon!

New League assignment, my Top Ten favorite movie villains…

It’s been almost a month since I’ve turned in an assignment for the League (I took a couple off and the whole crew was on hiatus last week), but this week I’m back and ready to tackle the current topic of list making.  Since summer is upon us and for most of us that means plenty of extra trips to the movie theaters, Brian over at Cool & Collected posed the question of creating some top ten movie lists themed however we wished.  I love making lists, though I’m not sure I big on making authoritative ones, so I decided to choose a topic that is film related, but a little more specific and pretty much only applies to me.  So without further ado, here are my top ten favorite 80s era villains, my childhood league of injustice if you will…

10). Francis from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure


I knew a lot of guys like Francis growing up (minus the enormous wealth) who just had to have everything everyone else around them loved.  One kid in particular used to bug the shit out of my whenever I’d get a cool Garbage Pail Kid or baseball card, always wanting to trade for it.  There were a number of times when I’d get so frustrated that I’d rip up the requested card in front of him to shut him up.  Not only did it shut him up, but it also helped me to not get too attached to posessions.  It is after all, just stuff…

9). Biff from Back to the Future


Honestly, who doesn’t love to hate Biff?  Though most of the iconic scenes are in the first flick, I love the scenes of the young 50s era Biff in the first sequel when he’s getting ready for the Enchantment Under the Sea dance.  It’s not that he really shows any humanity per-se, but seeing him going about his day without specifically being a bully is nice.  Gave him a tad more depth…

8). Chet from Weird Science


Bill Paxton’s Chet is like Biff on steroids, twice as mean, twice as douche-y, and he has once hell of an ugly spud spirit animal inside of him.  Did I mention that Bill Paxton was born to play douchebag assholes?

7). Tie between David and his crew of Lost Boys in, well, the Lost Boys, and Jesse, Diamondback, Severn, Mae, and Homer in Near Dark



Very few times have I felt like Vampires have been nailed, cinematically speaking, but the packs of leeches in these two films pretty much define what I think immortal bloodsuckers would truly look and act like.  The Lost Boys is a bit more teen-y and flashy, but they’re certainly on the same page as the dusty, fang-less nosferatu in Near Dark.  Oh and look at that, Bill Paxton made the list twice.  Huh.

6). Hook & the Daggers from Thrashin’



Robert Rusler was brilliantly douche-y in Weird Science, but he really shines as an asshole in Thrashin’.  Picking on break-dancers, being an over protective brother to Chrissy, and starting skateboarding mace fights willy nilly is a hard and evil business.  For the two years that I skated (badly) in the 80s, I lived in constant fear of the local group of street-surfing bad asses that would skate through my neighboorhood on the weekends.  I was terrified that they’d beat me up and steal my board because I sucked.  They never beat me up, but my board was stolen…

5). Lo Pan from Big Trouble in Little China


This green-eye obsessed, mystic, Chinese demigod is equal parts hilarious and devious.  He also knows how to really utilize Thunder, Lightning and Rain.  I love the mythology in this flick, much like the one created for the villain to muck around in in this next flick…

4). Dr. Emilio Lizardo from Buckaroo Banzai


Batshit crazy does not even begin to describe Dr. Lizardo, and John Lithgow has truly has a field day chewing up the scenery as this insane Russian scientist turned would be ruler of the world.  “History is-a made at night.  Character is what you are in the dark.”

3). The Lone Biker of the Apocalypse from Raising Arizona


When you need to get your baby back at all costs, even if one of those costs might be decimating a small town, you call the Lone Biker of the Apocalypse.  He doesn’t need three biker friends to fill out his crew of horsemen, he’s his own quartet of evil.

2). RJ Fletcher from UHF


Evil incarnate.  He’d not only kick your puppy, but he’d bill you for having to have his shoes buffed afterwards.  Ever injustice league needs one of those megalomaniacal bastards that has an evil laugh and insanely weird evil plans.  Fletcher is the Cobra Commander of UHF

1). Johnny Lawrence and the Cobra Kai from the Karate Kid



Everyone else can have their Darth Vaders, Zuuls and General Zods, but my number one bad guy will always be super-douche Johnny.  He hates boom boxes, skinny unassuming Italian kids, and anyone who even looks funny at Elizabeth Shue.  Sweep the leg, Johnny, SWEEP IT!

There are easily a hundred other characters that could have made the cut, but after mulling it over these are the guys that at one point or another haunted my nightmares.  Coincidentally, these guys also populate, more or less, my top ten go-to films (though Thrashin’ would be switched out with Rad, and the Goonies would probably knock Raising Arizona off the list.)  So what’s the rest of the League have to say about their top ten movie lists?  Well, click on over and find out!

Jaime, Shezcrafti, puts together an awesomely obscure 80s teen flick list

TL, Flashlights are Something to Eat, talks about his go-to summer movies

Michael, Memories of Tomorrow, talks abouthis top ten films

Michael, Michael May’s Adventureblog, talks about his favorite films

Howie, Underscoopfire!, makes a great argument for his need for an 80s movie intervention

Brother Midnight, Green Plastic Squirtgun, has a rather fun eclectic list

Reis, The Dork Horde, talks about the top ten flicks that define him

Aaron, Movie Hodge Podge, talks about his favorite 80s action flicks

Lok, That Figures, lists his top ten favorite films (a lot of fun horror)

Adam, The Man Who Stares at Toys, gets Ravenous about his list

Paxton, Cavalcade of Awesome, travels back in time so much reality is becoming one big Gordian Knot

Brian, Cool & Collected, does not want a banana, but he’ll take a blonde startlet or a girl named Nova

Flywheels, Random Toy Review, counts down his top ten films

Jamie, Whatever I Think Of, lists her 10 ten flicks

Ashley, Life With Fandom, is digging up some fond movie memories from the late 80s, early 90s

The Dagger Games Project…

Brian over at Cool & Collected decided to use a suggestion I offered as a League topic this week.  It dovetails nicely with the release of the Avengers flick in theaters, and centers on the idea of a great pop culture crossover between heroes or stories that we’d really like to see.  I’m not typically one that spends any energy on fan-fiction, but I have to admit that I had an idea that I would love to see come to fruition some day.  With all the 80s remakes and franchise re-launches getting produced, I think it’s the perfect time to revisit some films from the decade that that would really make sense having sequels 20-30 years later.  In fact, in the spirit of the Avengers and the idea of taking multiple films and combining them into one giant sequel, I thought it would be really cool to take three films that were unrelated except for concept and tone and bring them together in a modern setting that would be really interesting.

So what flicks and characters am I thinking about?  Well, Wargames, Cloak & Dagger, and The Manhattan Project.  Now bear with me for a second as I’m going to get a little fan-fic-y.  All three of these film are semi-serious thrillers that starred young kids playing around in the world of thermonuclear war and espionage…

Wargames featured Matthew Broderick as David, a young budding computer hacker who taps into a government computer system (nicknamed Joshua) thinking he was stealing unreleased copies of computer war games.  Turns out that Joshua takes his games very seriously, and David unwittingly ends up challenging the computer to a real life game of thermonuclear war.

In the Manhattan Project, we’re following Christopher Collet as Paul, a young genius who decides to build his own personal atomic bomb after realizing that a local pharmaceutical lab is really manufacturing weapons grade plutonium.  He takes it to a national science fair in the hope that he can shed some light on the dangers the lab presents and ends up starting the countdown to possible annihilation.

Last, but certainly not least, we have Cloak & Dagger, which stars a post E.T. Henry Thomas as Davey Osbourne, an overly imaginative boy obsessed with a fictional spy from a video game (Cloak & Dagger) named Jack Flack.  Davey stumbles upon a murder, and before he knows it the game becomes all too real.

So what’s my idea?

In a nutshell, my crossover film would find all three characters grown up and embroiled in plot that would have the world on the cusp of falling into another world war.  Maybe John Lithgow’s character from The Manhattan Project eventually gave in to his darker urges and sold his services as a weapons manufacturer to the highest bidder and was then double-crossed.  His weapons have been designed, built and delivered, but he was never paid and now seeks to bring down the evil regime that stiffed him.  He reaches out to an old friend, Dr. Stephen Falken (Joshua’s designer from Wargames), who puts him in contact with Broderick’s David (who now works for the government.)  David puts together a “Mission Impossible“-esque team including Paul (Collet) because of his ties to Lithgow’s character and experience with weapons of mass destruction.  Of course things get rocky when C.I.A agent David Osbourne (Thomas) butts in and takes control of the operation.  Will the two David’s be able to compromise long enough to stave off World War III?

The film would of course also feature Dabney Coleman (as he graced the screen in both Cloak & Dagger and Wargames), Ally Sheedy (Wargames), and Cynthia Nixon (The Manhattan Project), as well as other 80s kid/teen actors making cameos (I’m thinking some of the more obscure folks like Helen Slater, Robert Sean Leonard, Matt Adler, and Keith Gordon.)  Heck maybe even William Zabka would come out of his bully semi-retirement and play an unruly goverment spook.

Again, I’m not all that into the idea of fan-fiction, but I do think the idea of getting these actors together to reprise their roles from some very fun 80s kid-centric thrillers would be both entertaining and an interesting way to look at reboots and remakes.  Why simply retell the same story all the time when these franchises are brought back (ala Footloose, Red Dawn, or what have you.)  This way the studios get a chance to capitalize on the brand recognition while giving everyone something new.  I know I’d pay to see this in the theater, though I might be the only one.  Maybe they’d call it Project War-Dagger, or The War Cloak Takes Manhattan

Looking for some other fun pop culture cross-overs?  then check out these other League members:

Christopher, Tupa’s Treasures, talks about the never-filmed season finale crossovers of the A-Team and The Fall Guy!

Fiji Mermaid, Sideshow Cinema, would like to see the Predator take on Boba Fett!

Michael, Memories of Tomorrow, talks about, well, you have to read it to believe it!

Of motorcycles, helicopters, and heli-choppers…

The day job has been licking my butt lately, so posts have been sparse, but I had a few minutes today so I thought I’d get to this week’s League assignment before I get bogged down at work again.  Coming off of a more personal topic last time, this week lightens things up a bit asking what our favorite non-Batmobile pop culture ride is.  I’ll be honest, I’m going to cheat a bit and pick three vehicles.  Though I think the heart of this question is referring to ground-based mobility, my mind is usually in the air so I couldn’t help but waiver between two of my favorite vehicles, which then spurred an odd connection between that two that I couldn’t help but also include.  First, lets stick to the pavement and talk a bit about my favorite live action motorcycle, Street Hawk!

Debuting in 1985, Street Hawk was a short-lived action adventure TV series that rounded out the interesting 80s era vehicle-driven shows like The Dukes of Hazard, Knight Rider, Airwolf, and Riptide.  The show featured Rex Smith as Jessie Mach, a police officer chosen to test a new and highly secret urban crime deterrent called Street Hawk.  This attack motorcycle was capable of ripping through the streets at 300 miles an hour, enabling Mach to track down the scum of the streets no matter how supped-up their ride might be.  The bike also has a laser mounted on the front, which is pretty darn nifty.  The deep black design of the bike, with the Tron-esque embellishments on Mach’s riding suit really worked for me as a kid and even today…


The bike was designed for the screen by an artist named Andrew Probert, who has done a ton of vehicle designs for Hollywood including working on the 1st motion picture and Next Generation U.S.S. Enterprises, as well as some of the time-machine aspects to the Back to the Future DeLorean.  Probert also worked on my next vehicle pick, Airwolf!

As I said, my head is typically in the clouds, and in my heart of hearts when I’m up there I imagine myself strapped into the pilot’s chair of the Lady herself, Airwolf.  The sleek interpretation of the Bell 222, with its deep phantom grey/custom pearl-grey two-tone paintjob is hands down my favorite flying vehicle from pop culture.  There was a lot of helicopter-centric fun in the 80s (with the Apache attack copters making headlines on the news and awesome fictional whirlybirds like Blue Thunder), but Airwolf is the queen.

There are so many cool aspects to the Lady, not the least of which is her armory including twin retractable chain-guns and a trio of retractable, belly-mounted rocket launchers…


Add to this is design of the flight-suits, including the badass helmet and the winged-wolfhead logo patches and I’m in heaven.  I’ve worn this patch loving on my jacket for years…


All this talk of motorcycles and helicopters reminds me of my other vehicle crush, Condor from M.A.S.K.  Figured I might as well throw in a cartoon/toy vehicle, and one that converts from motorcycle to helicopter to boot!

I think if I ever tried to go the extra mile and customize an actual vehicle that I could tool around town in, it would have to be Condor.  Not sure if I can pull off a purple and yellow, all-leather motorcycle suit, but I’d at least have to try and make a custom helmet that looked somewhat like Brad Turner’s Hocus Pocus.

Hopefully I won’t get drummed out of the League for my failure to commit to any one vehicle, but I’m not sure I could choose just one, even with one of Airwolf’s chain-guns pointed at my head…

If you have a minute, might I suggest you check out some of the other League members and their favorite pop culture vehicles…

Greg, Lefty Limbo, talks about the Landmaster!

Christopher, Tupa’s Treasures, talks about the car from Condorman, and some runners up!

Fong, Haxbee, talks about the Black Beauty!

Brian, Cool & Collected, talks about Marion Cobretti’s 1950 Mercury!

Rob, Action Figure Chat, talks about Mad Max’s Interceptor!

Paxton, Cavalcade of Awesome, talks about a few cars including the Wraith!

This is how my childhood ends, not with a whimper but a BANG!

So this week’s assignment from the League is all about looking back to that fateful year when we turned 12 and for all intents and purposes we knew that our days as a kid were numbered.  With only a year left before we officially became a teenager and all the heartbreak, acne, bad hair and bad poetry that entails, what year was it and where were you at?  For me it was the balmy summer of 1989 in Florida, and honestly, the whole idea of leaving my childhood behind was really weighing on my mind that July.

I’d just exited my first year of middle school, a transition that was rocky at best with my grades and attitude suffering constantly.  Up to that point I’d always lived within a mile of my various elementary schools (we moved a few times), so I’d been accustomed to the freedom of riding my bike to school and never really feeling trapped inside the building for 7 hours a day.  When middle school came around it was quite a bit farther away which meant riding in on the big yellow Twinkie, making me feel stranded at school until the bus ride home was over.  It sounds a little melodramatic for sure, but that’s how I felt all the same.  It didn’t help that the middle school was in a slightly rougher area of the city with enclosed chain-link fences and a police officer that was stationed every day in the parking lot.

I’d also just had a falling out with a friend at the time and had finally found another kid to pal around with that was just as disenfranchised as how I felt.  To top everything off, my dad was preparing to move us yet again, this time out of state (from Florida to New Hampshire), and for the first time my sister wouldn’t be going with us, leaving me with no touchstone except my parents in the new town.  We were planning to move on New Year’s day 1990, so the whole countdown to the end of the decade, leaving Florida, my new best friend, and my sister were all pulling at my shoulders like a backpack full of rocks.

That said, 1989 was still a pretty darn good year.  Though by that time re-runs of G.I. Joe and Transformers were starting to wean, and their respective toy lines were getting pretty funky (the Joes were entering space and the Transformers were “pretending“), there was a new crop of cartoons that (at least new to me) was pretty exciting including Spiral Zone, the Bionic Six and Denver the Last DinosaurBatman mania was in the air and my love affair with Tim Burton was at its peak.  I’d just recently decided to ditch collecting baseball cards in lieu of picking up comic books, and was quickly addicted to the soap opera of the Uncanny X-Men, X-Factor, the New Mutants and the newly launched Wolverine.  This of course led to my first encounters inside dingy, dusty comic stores, which would be come my second home for the next decade.  After my best friend got me hooked on Metallica in 1987 I finally started branching out a little musically and in ’89 started listening to a lot more goofy metal like Dangerous Toys, Suicidal Tendencies and Faith No More (whose album The Real Thing really opened me up musically speaking.)  I also started heavily reading Stephen King that summer, devouring old second-hand copies of Christine, Carrie, Salem’s Lot, The Shinning and Pet Semetary.  I couldn’t wait to rip into his new book The Dark Half that fall.

Cinematically speaking, 1989 brought a bunch of 80s franchises to a close as we got Ghostbusters II, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, as well as Back to the Future II (and before I turned 13, Back to the Future III.)  I also snuck into the theater to catch the first five minutes of Friday the 13th Part 8 before an usher yanked me by my ear our of the auditorium.  I crammed in theatrical screenings of UHF and Weekend at Bernie’s, as well as catching Best of the Best, The ‘Burbs, Gleaming the Cube, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and a couple Fred Savage masterpieces Little Monsters and The Wizard.  I even got a chance to play with a Powerglove after moving up to New Hampshire shortly after seeing the Wizard, which was cool since it was way too expensive to actually get one.  ’89 was also the year that my sister rented me a copy of Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste, which cemented my love of gory, campy horror.  I also started picking up my first copies of Fangoria now that I think about it.  Before I turned 13 I also caught Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Arachnophobia in the theater, (the Jeff Daniels horror spoof being my first solo trip to the movies as well.)

Finally, 1989 also introduced me to The Simpsons (I’d seen the Tracy Ullman show and was actually waiting on the premiere Christmas episode which I had taped on VHS for years.)  I still have (and wear) a couple pin-back buttons for the show that I found in my first few weeks of living in New Hampshire.  I was also exposed to the first Pete and Pete shorts on Nickelodeon, as well as a healthy dose of the first year of Hey Dude and the Kids in the Hall.

Our family ended up staying in New Hampshire for only 9 months, after which we moved again, this time down to the Atlanta area.  After spending the late 70s through to 1989 in Florida, and having since planted my roots in Atlanta in late 1990, I really do feel that 12 marks a pretty clear demarcation of the end of my childhood in a lot of ways.  Though I often say I’m still an 8 year-old inside, I guess that was the summer that I kind of grew up.

If you have a second, why not check out some of the other league members…

Greg, Lefty Limbo, talks about 1982!

Dex, AEIOU and Sometimes Why, also talks about 1982!

Ashley, Life with Fandom, talks about 1993!

Mike, Memories of Tomorrow, talks about 1985!

Reis, Lair of the Dork Horde, talks about 1984-5!

TL, Flashlights are Something to Eat, talks about 1988!

Brian, Cool & Collected, talks about 1984!

Stacey, Pendragon’s Post, talks about 1990!

CW, The Claymation Werewolf Digest, talks about 1992!

Yub yub BFF…

This week’s League topic is in response to last week’s Holy Grail & White Whale musings, and centers on what one prized possession we have that we would risk life and limb during a disaster to save.  I think this would be a pretty easy question for most collectors to answer, and I’d be willing to bet good money that most of these items would be relatively worthless on the monetary scale.  My guess is that it’s all about long-loved trinkets that have survived since our childhoods, and for me there’s no doubt that my most beloved possession is my Wicket W. Warrick plush from 1983…

Horrible picture, I know, I need to get a real camera (or at least a better cell phone…)

This little guy has been with me for almost 30 years and has never left my bedside.  Say what you will about the Ewoks (or Return of the Jedi), but at six years-old they were the coolest thing to happen to the Star Wars universe since Chewbacca played keep-away with the Ugnauts.  I think an aspect of these characters that tends to get overlooked is that they make great vehicle characters for the audience of kids watching these flicks, not just because they’re huggable teddy bear aliens, but because there’s nothing super special about them.  They don’t have the force, they’re not 7 feet tall with incredible strength, and they don’t have their own intergalactic space freighter.  All they have is their cunning wits and crude handmade weapons and traps, and honestly, what kid (especially little boys) doesn’t spend hours trying to make their own slingshots, spears, and neighborhood booby-traps?  Yes, I’ll admit that this is the same questionable, pandering writing process that led us to a pint-sized annoying Anakin Skywalker in the Phantom Menace, but I’d argue that the Ewoks hardly mar the viewing experience in nearly the same way.  Regardless, I loved them, and when my mom surprised me one day with this little fuzzy fella I was in heaven.

What he used to look like above…

He’s a little bit the worse for wear these days as he’s been on a few trips through the washing machine (which, by the way, is why his fur is so short and matted) and at some point lost his cowl, but if it’s possible I love him more now than I did at six.  There were some turbulent years where we’d get into some crazy knock down, drag out fights, but we always made up in the end.  I’m being serious about the fights.  Watching the trailer for the movie Ted freaked me out by how accurate the relationship between a boy and his stuffed bear (or, er, Ewok) can be.

Also, as a topper to the story, I actually did run back into a burning building to save Wicket a few years ago during a horrible apartment fire experience.  I’ve lost a lot of my childhood along the way, but I can’t imagine not waking up to this little guy after all these years.

Some of the other League members have also weighed in with their prized possessions.  If you have a second, why don’t you check them out?

Greg, Lefty Limbo, talks about his 1980 Mongoose BMX bike.

Eric, Toyriffic, talks about his 1978 Schwinn Scrambler.

Flywheels, Random Toy Reviews, talks about a couple of prized Transformers (Dinoking and Black Zarak).

Ashley, Life with Fandom, talks about his original He-Man figure.

Charles, Geek Show Ink, talks about his original Don Rosa Scrooge McDuck drawing.

TL, Flashlights are Something to Eat, lets us listen to his childhood on tape!

Of White Whales and Holy Grails…

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve turned in an assignment for the league, but this week’s topic, on collecting and holy grails, hits very close to home.  I’ve always considered myself a collector of stuff, but my interest in any one of the things I’ve obsessed over is transitory at best.  There are a couple of reasons for this, but one of the things I’ve discovered over the years is that the acquisition of one of these holy grail items tends to kill any of the passion I had while seeking it.  It’s a cliché for sure, but the fun is truly in the journey, and it’s really shaped the way I “collect” these days.

The instance that led me to this epiphany was when I recently lucked into an almost complete set of series one Garbage Pail Kids.  After being bitten by the nostalgia bug a decade ago, GPKs were one of the first things that I tried to reclaim from my childhood.  I’ve never been a big spender when it comes to picking up vintage items, so it took quite awhile to put together a collection of the stickers at a reasonable price.  I’d pick up a set here and there, anything that I could find under $10, and after awhile I’d managed to scrape together eight complete sets (series three through eleven.)  What I discovered while getting back into the hobby is that these sets are the most common (when the craze was at its height), and the real challenge was finding reasonably priced auctions for series one and two, as well as the last four series when the production run was much more limited.  The going rate for series two is typically between $40 and $50, while a nice set of series one can easily set you back between $75 and $100.  Eleven through fifteen are generally in the $30 to $40 range (per set), so all in all I could probably complete a run for around $250.  I can’t speak for anyone else, but dropping $250 on twenty five year-old stickers was out of the question.  I know this is the cheapskate, spendthrift, Scrooge McDuck in me, but there’s also an interior battle raging over how easy it is to just buying this stuff on sites like eBay.  Again, it’s brings me back to the hunt, a very integral part of the collecting experience, and one that the internet has been killing slowly for years.

What I’m basically getting at is that these days I prefer to “not try very hard” when seeking the white whales or holy grails of my collections.  The completist in me rears up from time to time and I can’t help but spend an hour or two during a month hoping to find some of the things I’d like to acquire, but for the most part I’ve left it up to chance that I’ll ever find this stuff.  Case in point, the GPK series one set that I have is still missing 10 cards (12b, 13b, 14a, 21b, 22b, 25a, 27b, 30a, 34b, and 35a), but considering that I have at least one of each of the paintings represented in my set, I’m not sweating the fact that it’s not complete.  Honestly, it too 25 years before I found any series one cards in the wild as it is, and I know they’re out there on the internet, but I think I’ll just keep “searching” and see what happens.

As far as what I collect these days, the list is a lot smaller than you might think.  In the past 10 years I’ve narrowed my collecting to DVDs (particularly the movies, cartoons and TV series I grew up with), animation cels (from 80s era cartoons that I love), Garbage Pail Kids, 80s era magazines (particularly kid-centric stuff like issues of Stickers, Muppet, G.I. Joe, Thunder Cats, Roboforce, Dynamite, etc.), trading card sticker sets (like the old Topps, Fleer, and Donruss sets for stuff like C.H.i.P.s, V, or even Menudo), and small scale mini-figures (like the Hasbo Heroes lines for Transformers and Star Wars, as well as older cereal box premiums, and current art toys like OMFG and the S.L.U.G. zombies.)  Sensing a theme?  Most of the stuff I seek out is flat and scan-able as imagery for this website, or cartoon related (again, which tends to be fodder for the site.)

So what are my white whales?

Cartoons that have yet to be released on DVD in North America for sure.  Granted, this is more of a rarity based on profitability for studios, but it’s still stuff that I’d love to have that I can’t so I guess it counts.  I’m talking about series like Turbo Teen, Teen Wolf, The ShirtTales, Tigersharks, Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n Wrestling, Visionaries, Kidd Video, unedited releases of The Ewoks and Droids (with at least the opening credits sequence and original incidental music included), and probably the lest likely to ever see a release, the Muppet Babies.  I’m sure there are more, but off the top of my head these are the titles that I’d love to see made available.  Hell, I’m happy I can at least watch Spiderman and His Amazing Friends on Netflix streaming right now.  I finally got a chance to see the X-Men episode and it was awesome.  Also, while I’m on the subject, I’m still pissed no one at Marvel or Disney thought to include Pryde of the X-Men on any of the X-Men cartoon DVDs as an extra feature.  For the record I think I own pretty much everything else that’s been released on DVD witht he exception of some of the Warner Archive stuff (because it’s freaking expensive.)

There are also some stickers that I’d love to get my hands on, particularly the set of Topps puffy Monstickers from 1980.  These were reworkings of the old Ugly stickers from 1965, that were condensed and sold in three pack strips as puffy stickers int eh early 80s.  For the last six years I’ve seen them pop up on ebay, but usually at about $12 a pack, or $100 for a full set.  $12 for three puffy stickers?  Insanity.

While the Monstickers are available, just hideously expensive, there are also some stickers that are just plain rare.  The set I’d love to have were originally released in sticker vending machines in the late 80s.  They’re foil prism stickers that feature horror movie icons and poster artwork.  I’ve managed to get my hands on a few of them, but these have proven to be some of the most elusive stickers from the 80s.  Not only did they not have a wide release (as they were limited to vending machines at movie theaters and pizza places), but I have a sneaking suspicion that they’re also bootlegs as it seems very unlikely that a company could have licensed flicks from all the different studios to compile this set.  Some of the franchises and films featured in this set include Halloween, Friday the 13th, Fright Night, Hellraiser, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Fly, Vamp, Nightbreed, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, They Live, Critters, Beetlejuice, and Return of the Living Dead.  The list literally goes on and on (you can see more of them here, here, and here.)  Back when I was first investing in a comprehensive sticker collection to feature on this site I saw an ebay auction that featured over a hundred of these stickers for $50.  I balked at the price back then, but have since only seen one additional auction pop up.  Now I’d love to pay $50 for a set that large, but honestly I think these are just too rare to reappear on ebay any time soon.

As I mentioned above I also collect animation cels.  I’m a huge cheapskate when it comes to this collection, but even so I’ve managed to pick up stuff from He-Man, Ewoks, The Real Ghostbusters, She-Ra, Bravestarr, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Filmations Ghostbusters series.  Anyway, one direction this has taken me into is in collection cels from the Real Ghostbusters series that highlight the monsters, ghosts, and ghouls featured over the run of the show.  I’ve been sharing these during the Halloween seasons in past years and so far I’ve managed to find cels of a lot of the cooler spooks.  I have yet to lay may hands on a cel of Samhain though, and next to the Boogey Man and the Sandman, he’s probably one of the most famous monsters from the cartoon.  On a side note, I have something very fun planned for Halloween this year animation cel-wise.

If you’ve enjoyed reading about my collecting habits, why not take a second to check out these other League collectors and their holy grail items…

TL, Flashlights are Something to Eat, talks about the Mister Rogers Neighborhood of Make-Believe Playset

Mike, Sexy Geek’s House of Swag, talks about interesting hand puppets and KISS Figures

Tommy, Top Hat Sasquatch, talks about the Muppets toyline

Brian, Cool and Collected, talks about some King Kong Grails

Jason Vorhees talks about the rare NES Championship game cartridge

BubbaShelby, Toyriffic, talks about the Shogun Warriors Rodan

Paxton, Cavalcade of Awesome, talks about Teen Wolf, The Six Million Dollar Man, and an elusive gold Yoda Pepsi Can