Category Archives: Toys

Finding the “Truth” in Collecting

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how and why I collect.  Whether it’s refining and focusing on specific items, trying to curb the urge to splurge on modern collectibles, or just simply questioning why I want to do it on a fundamental level.  A good portion of this pondering has led me to question what is it exactly that I care about in the things that I collect.  When breaking a piece down there are a number of aspects that add or detract from the collectability of the item.  Is it vintage, what kind of shape is it in, is there any personal attachment of a similar item from my childhood, is it “worth” anything, is it rare or obscure, is there a pedigree to this particular item (e.g. did the piece come from a famous collection or was it owned by someone noteworthy), etc.  Every one of these criteria have different levels of importance for every individual piece, and this is something that makes collecting a rich experience.  Every piece has a story.  But sometimes there are things that we just want.  There’s a pull in the gut to pick something up and that desire can be so overriding that the collector, the curator of your museum of storied pieces, takes a backseat to convenience.

A few years ago, before I made the move from Atlanta to Baltimore, I took a tour of some of my favorite places knowing that I was probably never going to get the chance to visit them again.  One of these was a great vintage toy store out in the middle of nowhere that I was always able to find some decent, cheap vintage toys.  On one of these final trips I ended up picking up a cherished childhood Transformer, Afterburner from the Computron combiner set.  The toy was still mint on card and included inside the package was a short comic and mail-away order form for a set of three figures, a mini-combiner set known as the Decepticon Reflector.  Reflector, a toy made up of three robots that form into a single lens reflex camera, has forever been a piece that I’ve wanted to own.  Of all the Transformers action figures my favorites have typically been ones that change into everyday objects.  So Soundwave the tape deck, Blaster the Boombox, Perceptor the microscope or those rad Kronoform watches.  The cars and jets are cool, but it’s harder to suspend one’s disbelief since none of these are to scare for obvious reasons, but the everyday items are usually pretty damn close (with the exception of Blaster of course.)

It was only ever available as a mail-away in the 80s, so it was kind of rare and I’ve never seen one in all my years of digging through antique and comic book stores.  Though I never had the opportunity to get my hands on a Reflector, I always hoped that at some point the set would be reissued.  Well, the other day I stumbled on an auction on eBay with a very affordable set of figures that were still mint in box.  Something felt very wrong about the auction though.  I knew that since the toy was a mail-away that the likelihood that Hasbro ever produced actual packing was highly unlikely (most mail-away toys come shipped in plain brown or white boxes and are sealed in plastic bags.  On top of the packaging, the toy was shipping from China.  Everything about this just screaming bootleg.  But, offered with the Buy-It-Now option at $25 with free shipping it gave me pause.  It made me rethink what it was exactly about my desire to own this figure that mattered.  What is the “truth” of this toy for me?

It very quickly occurred to me that none of the typical criteria for collecting mattered with this piece.  It isn’t a toy I had as a kid, vintage Reflectors in decent shape with all of the accessories command a fairly hefty price tag, and there are plenty of other pieces I’d rather buy in it’s place if I was going to spend that kind of money.  But I still wanted it, and I was extremely curious about the quality of this bootleg toy.  The seller seemed to be specializing in vintage, mint-in-box Transformer knock-offs that were all pretty affordable considering how much their “real” counterparts cost on the secondary market.  Some of those knock-offs are toys that I used to own and that are pretty high up on my hunt list, and what if the quality was nice enough that I could own these pieces again?  I decided to throw caution to the wind and buy the Reflector to test the waters.  For $25 it’d at least be worth satiating my curiosity and I knew that I could at least get some use out of the experience.

Though it took a while to ship out, I received the bootleg Reflector in the mail this past week and I have to say that I’m pretty shocked at just how good the quality of this knock off really is.  I was expecting a super flimsy box with poor printing and super cheap plastic reproductions of the figures and this couldn’t have been further from the truth.  The box feels and looks like an honest to goodness vintage Hasbro product with heavy cardboard, great diecuts on the corners and crisp saturated package art.  A lot of care was taken with the presentation from recreating the official tech specs, to including accurate correct English on all of the text.  I’ve seen plenty of bootlegs at flea markets before, but they always have a ton of broken English and very poor packaging.  The only detail that I noticed that was a bit off was the 1984 copyright/Trademark notice at the bottom of the package since this figure was released in 1986.

So, what about the toys themselves?  Again, I was expecting super cheap, light weight plastic with absolutely no metal accents.  And again, I was wrong on all counts.  Not only did the figures have metal core pieces, but the plastic feels very much in line with similar toys I had as a kid.  The paint is on par for 80s era Hasbro as well and not sloppy at all.  The included stickers look accurate, are printed on nice foil paper and the figure even came with one of those old school heat sensitive stickers that you rub to uncover their Decepticon logo.  In the world of bootlegs I’m pretty sure that is going way above and beyond!

It wasn’t until I transformed the figures and combined them to form the camera alt mode that I noticed some issues with the quality.  There was a little bit of plastic flashing on the figures, a couple little extra bits of excess plastic that needed to be shaved off with a knife in order to make the pieces fit properly in place.  But this is also an issue I’ve had with actual legitimate Transformers toys from Hasbro, so it was hardly that big of a deal overall.

All in all I am pretty stoked with this purchase.  For only a little more than the original toy cost back in 1986 I was able to nab this piece for my collection.  But this raises some interesting questions for me.  Since this toy is a bootleg, shouldn’t I feel, well, bad?  Granted, it’s not like I’m putting anyone out of work buy buying this since no one is officially manufacturing and selling legitimate re-issue Transformers like this, but isn’t there something inherently wrong about adding a bootleg like this to a collection?  Sure, there are a lot of folks that almost exclusively collect knock-off toys, but it’s very rarely toys that are so accurate that it takes a master toy detective to tell the bootlegs from the originals.  Most folks who collect knock-offs do so because they are so cheaply and horribly produced.  The attraction is the sadness of the doppleganger, the deformity, the horribly flashing issues, the terrible paint and plastic color choices.  With a replica bootleg like this though, the only draw is in acquiring seemingly legitimate pieces at bargain basement prices.

To be 100% honest, I’m pretty conflicted.  Though I’m not trying to pass this off as a credible G1 Transformer toy, it’s certainly something I’d have to mention if I ever had a fellow collector over to the house.  At the end of the day, I know that I want this toy on my toy shelf.  Looking at it and playing with it makes me happy, so it has found a home in my collection.  The question now becomes, how far down this rabbit hole do I allow myself to go.  The eBay seller also has a really nice gift set of the complete Computron combiner toys.  That’s an item that I would very much like to reclaim for the collection, but now I have to figure out what is essential about the piece.  What is the “truth” of the piece.  Do I stick to hunting down a vintage set, waiting until I find something I’m happy with at the best quality/price ratio?  Or do I tic this one off the list and order an affordable bootleg from China?

What would you do?

Clearing the guilt cache, or Fortress Maximus is the MAXIMEST!

I want to preface this piece by bringing up a simple fact. Sometimes real life sucks. It’s awkward, weird, painful, and tends to derail us when we least expect it.  Last August my father was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer and just a year after I had made the decision to uproot from my previous home of 20 years to move in with the love of my life, I was faced with the challenge of moving my parents across country so that I could take care of them. The past year has been rough to say the least. This is not typically something I’d mention here at Branded, but in the end dealing with real life junk kept me away from the site at a time when I just starting to prep for some big things and partnerships. It sucks, I sucked it up, I dealt with the things that needed to be handled and the site got thrown on the back burner. Family is certainly more important than this site, but in the mix of moving them, a million doctors appointments, and my father passing away I dropped the ball with a promotion that has been eating away at the back of my brain.

I haven’t done a ton of promotions on the site. Typically I end up buying stuff myself to give away and front all the shipping. It’s just how I roll. But the super gracious folks at Entertainment Earth reached out to me and wanted to partner up. I was hoping maybe they’d send some inexpensive 80s-centric tchotchkes, maybe a modern He-Man lunchbox or a Back to the Future pint glass or something that I could write about and then host a contest to give away. But they kind of insisted on sending one of the largest, most expensive modern Transformers toys on the market, the Titans Return Fort Max play set. I agreed, worked on an article while I waited for it to be shipped out, and was getting pretty excited to be able to gift one of these things to some lucky reader of the site. Fort Max arrived, I unboxed it, took a bunch of pictures and was all set to finish the review and set up the contest when the news about my father hit me like a ton of bricks.

Over the next three months I had every intention of finding a couple hours to throw the contest up on the site, and every time I finally found some free time to myself something would pop up. I kept telling myself that as long as I got the review and contest up and running by the end of November it would all be cool. I’m sure sending me a free Fortress Maximus is hardly going to bankrupt Entertainment Earth, but I still felt guilty all the same. That monster of a toy cost over $100 at retail and I had made a commitment to help pimp their site for their trouble. And there it sat in the corner of my office like a 2 foot tall guilt monster staring at me.  When the middle of December rolled around I had, had enough. I boxed Fort Max back up and gave it to my nephew for Christmas. Ultimately, that was where he was going to go anyway as my nephew is a Transformers nut and seriously, what the hell was I going to do with it anyway.  It’s not a bad toy, but I’m just not enough of a Transformers nerd to give it the home it deserves. So at least it found an appreciative owner and I was safely away from it’s frozen-faced stare.

Of course, that didn’t change the fact that I still didn’t deliver on my end of the bargain. Having just recently found some balance in my life I’ve been able to pick back up with Branded a bit. This review has been sitting in my drafts folder for over a year and honestly, I didn’t have the heart to delete it. Long story short, the super rad folks at Entertainment Earth gave me a very cool toy, and here is a review of that toy. Unfortunately I can’t give one away in a contest now (pretty sure that bridge has fallen to ashes), but I can at least ask anyone who reads this to hop on over to the site and consider buying some plastic fun for someone this holiday season. And if you’re curious what I think about a giant toy robot, then by all means, please continue reading…

entertainment_earth_logo

As a kid growing up in the 80s it was tough not to covet like, ALL the toys. All of them.  Between daydreaming about winning the Toys R Us Toy Run Sweepstakes where I’d get a chance to have five whole minutes to grab everything I could get my hands on in the store or pouring over all the little toy catalogs that came packed with vehicles and figures from toy lines like G.I. Joe, M.A.S.K. and Transformers, I was always thinking about toys that I didn’t and in most cases would never own.  Even though I think it’s safe to say that as a kid I wanted ALL of the toys, there was a series of toys that I never managed to get my hands on that I desperately wanted, the Transformers Headmasters series that were initially released back in 1987.

catalog

At this point in the Transformers mythos we were about a year past the release of Transformers: The Movie, the Hasbro toy line was starting to dip in popularity, I was starting to shift my collecting focus from toys to comic books and according to my parents I was too old to be asking for these for birthdays and Christmas.  Of all the various toy design gimmicks of the 80s, none had captured my attention quite like the Headmasters.  I was always very ‘action figure’ focused in my toy collecting, and weirdly I was always sort of obsessed with any kind of interesting head-related accoutrements.  I adored any figures with removable helmets or working visors, not to mention characters that had some sort of head gimmick (like Kobra Kahn from the Mattel Masters of the Universe line with his water-spraying technology or Mumm-Ra’s light up eyes from the LJN ThunderCats line.)  So the idea of a series of Transformers with removable heads that were themselves transforming robots?  OMG.

Well, after almost 30 years I’ve finally been able to get my hands on a Transformers Headmasters toy.  For those who aren’t aware, Hasbro has been releasing a series of Transformers Classics toys over the last decade under a number of different product line names (Classics, Combiner Wars, etc), and the most recent series is called Titans Return which has finally brought back the Headmasters gimmick to Transformers.  There are a bunch of figures starting to trickle out into stores (including characters like Scourage, Blurr, and Blaster), and by far the most impressive (and imposing) is the Classics re-release of one of the largest Transformers toys ever released, Fortress Maximus!

image

Full disclosure, I received this toy to review from the folks at Entertainment Earth, and I typically don’t do reviews of releases from modern versions of classic toy lines (unless of course they do crazy things like combining brands like G.I. Joe and Transformers.)  That being said, they very cool folks at EE made me and offer that I just could not refuse which is the ability to hold and contest to give away one of these massive toys to one lucky reader of Branded.  I love being able to pay it forward whenever I can and there was no way that I was going to pass on the opportunity to get one of these rad toys out to the folks who read this site.  I’ll get to the nitty gritty of the contest at the bottom of this post, so with that out of the way, let’s take a look at the new Transformers Titans Return Fortress Maximus…

fm-1

First and foremost, this thing is MASSIVE.  I mean like almost two feet tall and the size of a toddler massive.  Having never had the original toy that this new figure (playset?) is based on I have no idea if it’s larger, but I did have a friend who had a Metroplex toy and this Fortress Maximus seems to be a lot larger by far.  Second, for a toy this large Hasbro really pulled out all the stops in terms of pose-ability and articulation.  Now that may seem like a weird statement on the surface, I mean with a larger scale format figure like this there is obviously way more room to implement articulation and detail into the design, but from what I’ve seen in the larger scale toys like this there is usually a distinct lack of articulation.  Bottom line, for once it seems like you can realistically recreate the poses and action stances from the packaging with this toy and I find that pretty darn awesome…

image-2

The level of detail is also off the charts.  Not only articulation-wise where can you independently move his fingers, but in the mold as well.  There are a million tiny details in the mold that make the figure incredibly realistic without falling off the cliff into the Bayformers territory of becoming too alien in design.  This figure really is like a beautiful, highly detailed, ultimate version of what the character was meant to look like.  Like a cross between the old Marvel comics and cartoon episodes mixed with the base of the original G1 toy.

image-6

Now, as cool and massive as this toy is, it’s not without its drawbacks.  Even though you can put Fortress Maximus into some cool poses, because of his heft it’s hard to have him standing up independently in them.  Also, again, because of the size and weight I don’t see this being a great toy for kids as it would be quite unwieldy to try and play with, and I say that as a kid who had a G.I. Joe U.S.S. Flagg as a kid and hated it.  Just because something is big does not make it awesome when it comes to playtime.  No, Fortress Maximus here is very much for the adult collector.

image-4

Another drawback is the way the head connects to the body.  Much like the original G1 version, Fortress Maximus is a headmaster, so his head detaches and becomes Cerebros.  And to finish off this nestled doll of a Transformer, Cerebros is also a headmaster, where his noggin comes off to become Titan Master Emissary.  As cool as this is from a conceptual standpoint, there are some logistical problems that make the overall head attachment on Fortress Maximus a bit precarious.  When Cerebros transforms to form FM’s head, Emissary acts as the connector piece.  Because it’s so small and the over all head piece is so big I’m betting it would be pretty easy to accidentally snap off Emissary when trying to remove or attach Cerebros to Fortress Maximus.  It just felt a little fragile to me when playing with it.  So again, an aspect that puts this in the camp of the adult collector that will most likely just transform the toy once and then display it.

fortress-maximus-city

Lastly, and this is just an aesthetic thing for me, I’m not a huge fan of Fortress Maximus’ city alt mode.  Much like Tom Hanks in big I just found myself holding it wondering why a kid would want to play with a city instead of the robot…

1fd7ec07967725ed742b85bc7d0c43294a8ef8f0

That being said, I am still really stoked about the overall toy in general and think that for Transformers fans this would make an amazing centerpiece to any collection.

Parents just don’t understand…

4461391534_02cce86892_o

The Fresh Prince said it best when he declared…

“So to you all the kids all across the land
Take it from me, parents just don’t understand

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I love pouring over old issues of various “mom” magazines from the 70s and 80s.  Not only are they chock full of insanely outdated recipes and fun advertisements for products that no longer exist, but they’re also a goldmine for goofy old articles about the latest childhood fads at the time.  Whether it was the lead up to Christmas and the staff editors were putting together articles about the latest toys or hard hitting (LOL) exposes on the popular trends in cartoons comics.  I love getting a chance to look back and see what was on parent’s minds when I was growing up.  What was concerning them about the toys and cartoons I loved playing with and watching on weekday afternoons and Saturday mornings.

I just recently stumbled on this short piece in the September 1987 issue of Working Woman (aka Working Mother) magazine that centers on kid’s fascination with gross and scary toys and collectibles called “Why Kids Love Yucky Stuff” by Dave Jaffe.  Jaffe was a writer and news editor for WGN in Chicago at the time, but he also had a tenure as a sketch comedy writer for the beloved Chicago area Bozo Show, as well as a stint as an editor at the National Lampoon.  The piece has some fun, though albeit harmless theories as to why kids in the 80s loved playing with stuff like Hordak’s Slime Pit from the Princess of Power/Masters of the Universe Mattel toy line or AmToy’s My Pet Monster.  Aside from the concept that kids loved slime because it literally feels good (and I’m not even diving into why that slick, gooshy, tactile sensation might be pleasing), or that they like monsters because they work as an outlet to get out their anger and frustrations, the article doesn’t really say all that much that hasn’t been stated a million times in a million clichés.  Boys like to scare girls with plastic bugs because they like, like them, or what is gross to an adult is titillating to kids…

Working Woman Sept 1987 1

But what I feel this piece was really lacking was that simple idea that kid’s love things that are forbidden or taboo.  Plop 10 kids down on a are of shag carpeting and give each a He-Man and Skeletor action figure and I can guarantee that most of them will drop He-Man in a heart beat to play with Skeletor because he has gnarly, clawed fingers, webbed feet, and a skull for a head.  Skeletor represents to many things to a kid on a subconscious level, fear and aggression (just as the article points out), but his design is also just so much more fun because it’s different and weird.  There’s an air of mystery about Skeletor baked into his design.  Why does he have webbed claw feet, what happened to his face, and why is he blue?!  He-Man on the other hand is pretty much all there on the surface.  He likes to work out, appreciates furry underwear, and could probably use a haircut.  If I hard to hazard a guess I’d say that this applies to almost all toylines.  What was more popular in the Real Ghostbusters toy line, Egon, Ray, Winston, & Peter or the transforming ghosts?  Yeah, the ghosts.  Boba Fett, Darth Vader, & the Stormtroopers or Tatooine Luke & Hoth Leia?  Yeah, the former in a heartbeat.

Working Woman Sept 1987 2

Again, this article is pretty harmless, but it is a pretty amazing time capsule for all of the icky, gooey, gross stuff that was available at the time including Madballs, My Pet Monster, the Real Ghostbusters, the Masters of the Universe Slime, Slime Time Watches, Nickelodeon Green Slime shampoo, Garbage Pail Kids, the Inhumanoids monsters, those weird Hasbro Belly Buttons, and Mad Scientist Monster Lab playsets.

The All New Branded in the 80s podcast, Episode 7!

Branded Podcast Logo_RAD

On this episode of the All New Branded in the 80s podcast I spend some time talking about what it’s like to be a nostalgia addicted guy in the world of pop culture collecting.  Though I adore most all 80s nostalgic kid’s stuff, these days it takes more than a tub full of Masters of the Universe figures or a wall of Nintendo NES cartridges to get me excited about collecting.  No, to really make my head spin the stuff that I love to find has to be the kind of things that simply just should exist anymore.  So join me as I talk about a few items I’ve stumbled upon in the wild that really made my eyes bug and gave me that metaphorical punch of nostalgia to the gut.

Here are some pictures of the stuff I talk about in this episode…

Battle-Cat-Hopper

11667277_10153454747567328_6015714517964212045_n

13912576_10154395893082328_7956163153978392863_n      13935140_10154395893087328_4510943413195037200_n

You can find the episode on iTunes, Stitcher, the Branded Facebook page, or you can also stream it directly from the handy player below, or download it directly by right-clicking and saving here.

You can subscribe to the podcast here!

If you want to chat about the show or other fun 80s junk, you can send me an e-mail to smurfwreck@gmail.com

Of new homes and AT-STs…

The more time I spend gliding through this wondrous existence I can’t help but keep coming back to this underlying thread of kismet that has ruled my pop culture collecting.  Not trying to toot my own horn here, but I try my very hardest to put out as many good vibes as I can into the collecting and nostalgia community as I can afford.  I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t get satisfaction from sharing my collection, through this site and often just sending out pieces to those that I find are looking.  The point is, that I enjoy sharing the love so to speak, and every so often, that love comes back my way and for that I am grateful.

A few year ago I wrote a little bit about my childhood experience with a very particular Star Wars toy, the AT-ST Scout Walker released by Kenner back in 1983.  As I mentioned in that piece my family was uprooting itself from Tampa, Florida and the 1st home that I spent any substantial time in.  My father had landed a new job a couple of hours east in Orlando, and we were in the midst of packing everything up.  I was preparing to leave behind everything that I knew, five years worth of friends, secret short-cuts throughout the neighborhood, and the only house I could remember.  It felt like a pretty big deal at the time, I’d just turned six and hadn’t realized that moving was something that people did.

house in tampa

Before we completely pulled up stakes and left Tampa for good, we took a couple of exploratory trips to the suburbs of Orlando looking for a new house.  Again, this idea was pretty alien to me, and we ended up going to a series of house showings that had a very weird effect on me, in particular I was introduced the concept of coveting other people’s junk.  There were a couple of experiences I had during these trips that had a pretty big impact on me as a kid.  Growing up in the small neighborhood in Tampa we our family lived often times felt very communal.  For instance, there was an old couple at the far end of our oval-shaped development that had a pool that was open to all the neighborhood kids.  All you had to do was knock on their door and ask and you could swim to your heart’s content.  It also seemed like all of the friends I had at the time were really good about sharing our toys.  We were always borrowing each other’s Star Wars or Masters of the Universe figures with little to no squabbling (like in the picture below where I can be seen holding a friend’s Millennium Falcon with joy.)

9116367715_b1f86078fe_o

But the first time we scheduled a house showing at a home that was still occupied by the family trying to sell it, well, that’s when I first started to covet.  What was the object of my affection?  A lone Star Wars AT-ST Scout Walker toy that was perched up on a chest of drawers in the kid’s room in the house we were walking through.  Being six, the thought hadn’t occurred to me that the stuff in the house wasn’t part of the bargain.  In fact, I spent the next three hours trying to convince my parents that out of all the houses we’d looked through to that point, this last one was obviously the one we should go with.  I mean it was two stories, had hardwoo…screw it, it was because there was an AT-ST in one of the rooms that I really freaking wanted.  After it was explained to me that buying a house didn’t quite work the way I’d hoped (and boy was I a tad relieved when they pointed out that if it had I’d be losing all MY STUFF to some other kid), I was a little crushed.  Getting to have Hungry Howie’s Pizza later that night really didn’t make it better.  Getting to listen to my Michael Jackson Thriller tape on infinite repeat during the two hour trip back to Tampa only helped a little.

At-ST

That one encounter in some strange kid’s room was the only time I ever saw an AT-ST toy in real life.  None of my friends had one, and none of the friends I’d eventually make in Orlando did either.  As much as I wanted one, it was six months until Christmas, and in kid time comprehension that was like years.  So I’m pretty sure that I let it slip from my mind, and by the time Christmas of 1983 rolled around I was probably begging for some other toy that had caught my eye.  If I have to be honest I’ve always sort of had an AT-ST-shaped hole in my heart over the years though.  I never sought it out, mainly because by the time that I was starting to have nostalgic pangs for old Star Wars toys they were already becoming collector’s items and were way outside of my budget.  But also, as I’ve mentioned in the past, there’s this idea I subscribe to, that the hunt is more than half of the thrill of collecting.  Somewhere in the back of my mind I think I knew that I should just hold off.

Then, in an amazing turn of kismet, everything changed recently.  First off, over the past year I’ve been working incredibly hard with my fiancee to save up a nest egg that we could use to buy a house.  It’s my first time as a home buyer (and not just a goofy little kid tagging along with his family looking for one), and this would be the first honest to goodness house that I’d be living in since the early 90s, back when I was in high school and my family lost ours when we had to downgrade after a rough patch.  The idea of finally biting the bullet and buying a house terrified me as I’d become more than accustomed to living in apartments, but the time was finally right and all of the pieces were starting to fall into place.  It was an amazingly hard process where we pretty much had to deal with every possible thing that could go wrong (buyers on my fiancee’s town-home pulling out at a week before closing, contracts on houses that had Tom Hanks The Money Pit level hidden problems, and shyster real estate agents that were stealing thousands of dollars from us.)  But at the end of the day we finally found the home of our dreams and for the first time in 23 years I was living in a house again…

IMG_6921

It’s a little rough around the edges and needs some TLC, but we love it.  At the same time that we were hip deep in this process and not sure whether or not we’d even end up in a house, I received a very kind e-mail from a reader in the UK named Andrew who had stumbled upon the original piece I’d written about my childhood lust for the Star Wars AT-ST Scout Walker toy.  It just so happened that he was looking to part with his childhood AT-ST and we made arrangements to give it a new home here in the States.  Something about the timing of this filled me with a metric ton of hope while facing off against all the house buying pitfalls we were experiencing.  I just knew that this was all meant to be, again, that the pieces were all falling in place, and that for the second time in my life, while house-hunting I was encountering this specific Star Wars toy!

Long story short, just after moving into our new house, Andrew’s gift arrived safe and sound at its new home (my office) where it will be loved and displayed proudly at Branded in the 80s HQ…

AT-ST-1

AT-ST-3   AT-ST-2

Don’t think I can thank Andrew enough for this gift and for convincing me that the best practice is to keep putting out as much positive energy and actions out into the world.  Some day, if I’m patient and lucky, lady kismet will make sure that all my pop culture desires are met, and then some!

Collecting the Art of G.I. JOE

As I get older the way I celebrate and appreciate my nostalgic memories changes.  Back in my mid-twenties, broke and living in a two-bedroom apartment I really didn’t have the means to procure or display any sort of vintage collection.  I spent hours scouring eBay for deals on Garbage Pail Kids, old toys, and albums on vinyl.  I very rarely pulled the trigger on any of these auctions, but I loved looking and hope that I’d eventually be in a better position to finally pick up and display some of these treasures.  At the time I kept wishing that there was more of a market that catered directly to fans like me.  People who wanted to endless flip through pictures of nostalgic treasures without having to wade waist deep in the expense of investing in a collection.  I used to daydream about coffee table books that collected nice scans of all the Garbage Pail Kids, reference books that cataloged all of the toys I used to love, or art books that featured vast collections of album cover and skateboard deck art. Slowly, as my generation has come into its own and started infiltrating publishing houses and coming on board with the same companies and brands we used to be the target audience for, my dreams have begun to be realized.  A few years ago we saw the Abrams company team up with Topps to start releasing awesome collections of Wacky Packages, Garbage Pail Kids, and Star Wars trading cards.  Then came a series of really cool toy identification guides for Transformers and G.I. Joe toys by 80s toy guru Mark Bellomo. More recently we saw the release of a couple of awesome books chronicling the brand artwork of Masters of the Universe and the box art packaging of all the Generation 1 Transformers toys.  Add to this a couple of wonderful books that focus on 80s era 45rpm cover at (Put the Needle on the Record by the supremely cool Matthew Chojnacki) and skateboard deck art (The Disposable Skateboard Bible by Sean Cliver) and I am pretty much in heaven.

But this is just the beginning and there are a lot more books I’ve love to see.  This is where independent publishing and the fans have come to the rescue to start filling in the gaps where the larger companies are dropping the ball.  For instance, this past year we saw the release of a badass little Visionaries Toy and art guide thanks to Kickstarter.  Speaking of Kickstarter, my bud Philip Reed has almost funded his new book project, Action Figure Carrying Cases, a Photographic Overview!

untitled

This leads me to another huge gap in the 80s toy art book landscape, the Art of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero.  Though we’ve seen some really awesome new vintage-style G.I. Joe toy lines from Hasbro in the last decade, they really seem to not understand the power of the brand they hold.  They are so focused on trying to produce lucrative new movies that they undermine the vintage brand consistently, focusing less and less time and money on the property which is a shame.  The Transformers: Legacy box art book, though delayed for almost a year and not as entirely complete as it could have been (both art and artist recognition-wise), was a great release and it would be a no-brainer for them to compile and release a very similar version for G.I. Joe.  But they haven’t and from what I can tell, they don’t plan to either.

3d joes

That’s where the exhaustive work of Carson Mataxis and his site 3D-Joes comes to the rescue.  Mataxis has been putting a metric ton of work into an online 3D gallery chronicling the entire G.I. Joe toy line.  In order to pay for the software licensing fees and hosting he’s been creating some beautiful giant poster/prints of mint on card G.I. Joe figure collections, the sales of which directly fund his site.  I have a few of these posters, and they are magnificent to say the least.

Well recently he’s decided to go all out on acquiring a ton of vintage packaging and merchandising that features all of the 80s era G.I. Joe artwork from the likes of Earl Norem and Hector Garrido just to name a couple.  He’s been meticulously restoring the artwork in photoshop in order to create a series of prestige floppy books that collect all of this art.  I finally got around to picking up the first three books that collect a good portion of the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero art from 1982-1987…

Though these books are a little pricy at $35 per volume, for the collector of G.I. Joe art these are a must buy.  Each book features an absolutely stunning 11″x16″ wrap-around, enhanced, foil cover that’s printed on very heavy cardstock.  The interiors are all full-color and feature every single carded action figure, vehicle box, and play set package, not to mention covers for all of the Find Your Fate and floppy kid’s books, as well as a bunch of other products.  Each book also features an introduction by Kirk Bozigian, the original G.I. Joe brand manager from 1982-1994 who was also the inspiration for the likeness of Law, the MP (who also came with sidekick dog Order.)

Volume One concentrates on all of the toy releases from the 1982-1983 lines, and is the sparsest volume at 62 pages (including inside front and back covers.)

image

image image

Volume Two contains all the toy releases from the 1984-1985 years and clocks in at 78 pages (including inside front and back covers.)

image

image

image

Finally the newly released Volume Three collects all the toys from the 1986-1987 releases and is also 78 pages (including inside front and back covers.)

image

image

image

image

From what I understand there will be at least one more volume produced that covers the 1988-90 years, with a potential follow up that will cover the remaining years worth of releases.  For my money these first three volumes cover all of the toys that I had as a kid and they’re the perfect way to sit back and appreciate all of the amazing artwork and design that was put into the G.I. Joe toy line. I can’t thank Carson enough for all the time and work he’s put into his site and these amazing books!

If you swing by and pick up copies of these, be sure to tell him Branded sent ya, thanks!

It was finally time to up my watch game…

It feels really good to be able to finally start catching up with writing articles here at Branded.  Over the past few years there’s been a lot of changes in my life behind the scenes, and in particular a lot of stuff has been going on over the last six months including helping my girlfriend sell her townhome, securing a new job, and the one that has been the most frightening and fulfilling, buying my first house.  But the dust has begun to settle, I’m in the middle up setting up a new and improved Branded HQ, and I can get back to what I’ve missed the most, writing about all kinds of fun 80s junk.  In fact I’m currently having a blast revisiting some of the cool stuff I’ve acquired that I’ve been meaning to write about.  For instance, a very cool new (well, vintage) watch that I’ve been wanting to reconnect with for the last 25 years…

563934200_71a309a9c0_o

Back around 1985 or ’86, I was pretty obsessed with getting my hands on the amazing transforming robot watch depicted in the Bonkers candy ad above.  I first saw these in the little red candy and trinket vending machines at my local Pizza Hut as the “main” prize, the one thing you could get out of the machine for a quarter where you’d actually be getting more than your money’s worth.  I can’t count how many quarters I sunk into these machines only to get endless amounts of plastic army men, colorful puffballs with glued on felt feet and googlie eyes, or generic pencil topper erasers.  I was never a lucky kid when it came to winning stuff like this.  And here’s the thing, from my estimation at the time, you had to either win one of these robot watches or convince your parents that it was safe for them to send a check or cash to Nabisco to score one.  Lets just say that I could never get my parents to believe that these comic ads were not a scam.

At the end of the day I did eventually end up getting one of these watches by trading some Garbage Pail Kids to a friend, though it didn’t have the watch band and it looked like he had chewed on the little blue and red buttons on the front.  None the less I cherished that red robot watch and kept it in my pocket for years.  It didn’t matter that the one I had was used, or that it wasn’t an official Kronoform watch (a fact I wouldn’t even be aware of until 20 years later when I really started getting nostalgic for my youth.)  I’m not sure what happened to my specific watch, but for the last 10 years or so I’ve been yearning to get a new one.  The thing is, they’re kind of rare and when they do pop up on eBay they’re kind of outrageously priced.  So I’ve been biding my time, waiting for the right opportunity.  That opportunity happened a couple of months ago after I posted the Bonkers advertisement above on my instagram account.  I mentioned how I wanted to get my hands on one of these and a very kind gentleman from Canada that goes by the handle No_Thriller had just scoped one at his local toy/comic store.  After working out the details No_Thriller picked up the watch for me and then shipped it down to the states where I was eagerly awaiting its arrival!  And yes, that is also an awesome Steve Nazar signed print of the T&C characters in the background that my good bud HooveR sent and that also arrived that day…

image1

Not only did this one still have the watch band fully intact, it was a beautiful almost brand new official Takara Transformers Kronoform release!  Also, it still worked (the super kind No_Thriller was nice enough to replace the old battery before shipping it.)  Even though this one isn’t red, I still love it to pieces…

image2

This also reminds me of that piece I wrote about having a crush on Helen Hunt’s character Lynne Stone form Girls Just Want to Have Fun if for no other reason that she also wore a sweet red robot watch in that flick.

61

Now maybe if I can ever build that time-traveling-DeLorean I can go back in time and ask her out to the prom.  I mean we have the same taste in Transformers watches, that’s all that matters right?

Of Mystery Boxes, Laserpunks, and Kismet…

A few months ago my buddy Ed over at AEIOU & Sometimes Why tipped me off to a mystery box swap that he was planning for this summer.  Basically, he filled a box full of miscellaneous fun stuff (movies, toys, and ephemera) and a host toy (a Dracula Mego figure that also travels around with the box.)  The idea is to send the box out across the country to various folks who sign up who can take whatever they want from the box and then add more before sending it on to the next recipient.  I’ve participated in a couple of fun experiments like this over the last decade (once while hosting Spock and another time hosting King Kong), though this time there would be the added excitement of getting to peruse a box full of free mystery items as well as getting a chance to donate some cool stuff that I’ve had lying around gathering dust that could find much better homes.

The box arrived on my doorstep this past week and my girlfriend Jaime and I had a blast fishing through the box.  There were a handful of items that peaked our interest including a rad Stylophone pocket synthesizer that Jaime has been fawning over, a couple movies and a pack of recent Garbage Pail Kids.  But my eyes lit up when I spotted something in the box that I’ve wanted to get my hands on for awhile but had been putting off because there never seemed to be enough funds to justify.  Tucked underneath a couple Halloween plush dolls and a Mad Libs book was a small package of some really cool independent resin art toys from France called P.U.N.K.S. by Laserpunk Toys!

IMG_5488

I first found out about these little M.A.S.K.-inspired resin art toys back at the end of 2013 on Facebook.  Somehow or another I stumbled upon their FB page and instantly fell in love with the concept, design and execution of these 3″ figures.  I’ve seen a lot of folks making really cool art toys paying homage to the scale and design of the Masters of the Universe, Transformers, M.U.S.C.L.E. and G.I. Joe lines, but I had yet to see anyone tackling the M.A.S.K. aesthetic.

IMG_5489

I spent a good year lusting after these figures while I waited for Laserpunks to finish their fundraising campaign and prep them for sale, but was a little bummed when they were released because they were out of my price range for impulse buys.  They retailed for $40 + international shipping which is completely understandable when you consider they’re independently produced hand crafted resin figures.  That process isn’t cheap, and they even manged to squeeze in 5 points of articulation and accessories, which for resin is difficult.  Still, I put these on the virtual wishlist and shuffled them to the back of my mind.

IMG_5495

So when I saw the package of P.U.N.K.S. in the mystery swap box my heart skipped a beat.  A case of total kismet!  I’m not sure exactly who put these little fellas in the box (though I have a good idea from looking over the list of folks who have signed up to host the swap), but I’m eternally grateful and want to assure them they found a good home and will be displayed along side the handful of M.A.S.K. toys I have here at Branded HQ.

IMG_5478

Hopefully the items that Jaime and I added to the box will find a new home and make someone else do a double take.  If you curious to learn more about the Laserpunk P.U.N.K.S. figures, it looks like they’re still for sale over at their site.  There’s a very fun commercial for the toys as well the definitely evokes that 80s era merchandising feel!

Awesome 80s Bedrooms: The Making Contact Edition

It’s been a little while since I dove in and deconstructed an awesome 80s era pop culture bedroom.  This past week I had my mind blown a couple times when Pee-wee Herman shared the piece I did on his room from Pee-wee’s Big Adventure on Facebook and Twitter…

…and Zack Ryder and André Gower were discussing the breakdown I did on the Monster Squad Clubhouse on twitter…

I was honored to say the least!

This got me thinking about some of the films that I have on a list that I want to tackle at some point; stuff like Ferris Bueller’s room, or Chainsaw’s room from Summer School. A lot of what’s on my to-do list at this point is more in the realm of teenaged characters as I feel like I’ve exhausted most of the cool room for the younger characters (or the rooms I haven’t covered are kinda boring.)  But there was one more movie with a younger kid’s room that I’ve been meaning to tackle for over a year now, a film that I had completely missed out on in the 80s and didn’t find out about it until just a couple years ago.  The flick in question is an obscure and weird Austrian film from 1985 called Making Contact (though it’s also known as Joey in some parts of the world) that is mostly known for being one of Roland Emmerich’s first projects.

Making_Contact

Though the flick was shot in German, an English dub was released on VHS back in the late 80s.  I think thins might be why I missed it.  Around that time I was increasingly becoming obsessed with horror flicks and spent most of my time in the video rental store browsing through A Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, and Friday the 13th flicks.  Luckily though, I stumbled across this flick a couple years ago via a suggestion from a reader.  As soon as I could source a copy I sat down and took in this semi-lost 80s gem.  Let me just say that this movie is pretty amazing as a relic of a bygone days, but it’s also one of the weirdest 80s kid’s flicks I’ve ever seen.  Emmerich not only directed, but also co-wrote this supernatural thriller that centers on a young boy named Joey who is mourning the loss of his father.  Joey finds that he has the ability to mystically contact his dad through a toy phone, though whether he’s really talking to his father or some other malevolent force is part of what makes this film so weirdly captivating.  Let’s just say that there is a lot of telekinesis, living puppets & toy robots, and about 200 homages to Steven Spielberg films that very obviously had a huge impact on Emmerich.

If you haven’t seen Making Contact, do yourself a favor and seek it out.  It’s a little uneven and weird, but totally worth the time investment.  Not only is it a weirdly fun film, but Joey has one of the most densely packed 80s era bedrooms that I’ve ever seen on film (definitely giving Elliott from E.T. a run for his money.)  I’m gonna do my best to breakdown as much of it as I could identify…

Untitled-1

Joey has toys littered all over his room.  There’s stuff stacked on every surface including shelves, bureaus, tables, all over the floor and spilling out of his closet…

1). Felt Steelers football pennant

Steelers Pennant

2). Felt Giants football pennant

Giants Pennant

3). Felt Lakers basketball pennant

Lakers Pennant

4). Sesame Street curtains

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

5). Cool BMX Poster (couldn’t identify it, but wanted to point it out)

6). Smurf stickers on the bureau

7). Return of the Jedi Sheets circa 1983

rotj_sheets2

So, are felt sports pennants still a thing?  I remember as a really young kid in Tampa, FL it seemed like it was mandatory for all kids to have a Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Rowdies (soccer) pennants hanging on the walls.  I’m having a hard time remembering any friends who didn’t actually.  Also, I totally had these exact Return of the Jedi sheets around the same time too.  In fact, I still remember the exact moment when I stopped “having” these sheets as well.  For some reason my mom left me in my bedroom with a hair dryer when I was about 6, and I got the bright idea to heat up the sheets by turning on the dryer and sticking it underneath my balled up sheets.  They totally caught fire, though it was a slow burn and I managed to get it out out before things got crazy.  Man, I miss those sheets…

Untitled-2

8). Terry Bradshaw Poster

1982 Marketcom Terry Bradshaw poster

9). Kenner Star Wars Tie-Fighter 1978

tie-fighter

10). Kenner Star Wars Slave I, 1980

Photo from Collector’s Club of Great Britain

Untitled-3

11). Kenner Star Wars Imperial Troop Transporter 1979

ImperianTroopTransporter

12). Tomy Racing Turbo Dashboard game circa 1983

tomy tubo

13). Tomy Zoids Giant ZRK circa 1983

zoidsgiantzrk

So, really quick I want to point to another item in the above screen shot, the race car helmet lamp.  Half of the reason that it’s taken me two years to write this Making Contact bedroom breakdown is because I’ve been wracking my brain while searching the internet for where that thing came from.  I haven’t been able to figure it out and it’s been driving me a bit insane.  Does anyone know where that thing originated or when it was released?  It seems so specific, which usually makes tracking it down easier, but not in this case.

**UPDATE** Thanks to reader Jack Frost for finding some auctions for the racing helmet lamp that have partically solved the mystery of where these things came from.  Apparently they were produced in Austria in the 70s, though the manufacturer is possibly still in question.  Looks like it was made by FF Leuchte.  Here’s a clearer picture of the lamp…

feacf472b9c0162c1be517a812595567.image.400x600

Untitled-4

14). Milton Bradley Pac-Man board game, circa 1980

pacman_boardgame

15). Milton Bradley Donkey Kong board game, circa 1980

tumblr_mhm6mbhDtW1rrftcdo1_500

16). E.T. wallpaper (lining both his closet and this trashcan), circa 1982

il_570xN.586923843_hwk4

Untitled-5

17). Tomy wind-up walking shoes, circa 1981

6

18). Kid Stuff Records Pink Panther’s County Album picturedisc, circa 1982

pinkpanther

19). Vanity Fair Smurfs Record Player, circa 1982

1

20). Horikawa Batter Operated Super Space Explorer, circa 1962

2772_l

Untitled-6

21). E.T. Plush doll (I can’t identify this specific plush, honestly it looks like a bootleg or carnival prize.)

21). Blow Mold Disney Donald Duck coin bank, circa late 70s

donald duck

23). Dinky Star Trek USS Enterprise, circa 1976

11

Untitled-7

24). Tamiya Wild Willy 2 motorized jeep circa 1984

custom_head

25). Kenner Star Wars Ewok Village play set, circa 1983

10

26). Kenner Star Wars Millennium Falcon play set, circa 1983

5197_l

27). Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University poster

28). Empire Strikes Back Yoda poster

Yoda - Dagobah -

Untitled-8

29). Kenner Star Wars At-At play set, circa 1980

7

30). Kenner Star Wars Scout Walker, circa 1983

9

As you can see from the previous shots, Joey loved Star Wars and was fastidious enough to keep a bunch of the boxes for his play sets.

Untitled-9

31). DC Comics Phantom Zone, #4, April 1982

3

32). Tomy Peepers wind-up walking binoculars, circa 1984

peepers walking binoculars by Tomy

In doing research for this breakdown I noticed that the production designers were fond of Tomy toy products.  I thought it was interesting that the Peepers wind-up toy above was actually the star of his very own Disney movie back in 1984 called Where the Toys Come From.  The flick sounds like it may have even been the blueprint for the eventual Toy Story movies as well…

20130215192443!Where_the_Toys_Come_From

Untitled-10

33). Pac-Man Pacmania toy drum set, circa 1982

2125600717_a6566089ca

Untitled-11

34). Whitman Disney Donald Duck jigsaw puzzle

2

35). Tomy Hoomdorm Jumper toy, circa 1982

hoomdormsm

Untitled-12

36). Parker Brothers Q-bert boardgame, circa 1983

5 copy

Untitled-13

37). APC A-Team jigsaw puzzle, circa 1983

a-team jigsaw puzzle

And finally, before I end this mammoth bedroom breakdown, there’s one more thing I wanted to point out from the film that’s outside the bedroom arena.  During a scene set in Joey’s school, he stops and takes a pretty rad school folder out of his bag…

Untitled-14

38). Masters of the Universe school folder, circa 1983

motufolder

Pretty darn spiffy if you ask me.

So, for those of you that have seen this film, did I miss anything?  Let me know int eh comments!

The Official Unofficial Visionaries Collectors Guide & Contest!

4461391534_02cce86892_o

**CONTEST UPDATE**  And the winner of the Visionaries Collector’s Guide is… Ryan, @no_thriller!  Congrats Ryan!

For fans of 80s era cartoons and toys it’s hard to argue that we’re truly living in a Renaissance that is seeing so many of our beloved properties being celebrated.  Not only are a lot of these brands being re-envisioned with upgraded “classics” style product launches like the new Mattel Masters of the Universe figures, Transformers Classics, and the recent 25th anniversary G.I. Joe line of action figures, but there are also a lot of outlets focusing on the original toys and animation who are producing some amazing stuff like the 3D-Joes Carded Figure prints or the recent Masters of the Universe and Transformers art books.  If you’re a fan there are literally thousands of cool and eclectic collectibles on the market to quench your nostalgic thirst.

Sometimes it even feels like there may be too much new stuff, like there’s a tidal wave of products about to come crashing down on the fandom, drowning us all in an ocean of cool stuff.  I know that probably sounds a little dark, but it’s honestly how I feel at times while trying to keep up.  That’s why I often find myself tuning out and just try and focus on one interest at a time.  It’s why I was never all that interested in treating Branded as a hub for 80s fan news as it’s just too much work for one person to stay on top of everything.  Hell, even focused sites (like the ones concentrating on singular 80s era brands like YoJoe.com or or any of the million Star Wars sites) must have a hell of a time keeping up.  Luckily though I’ve met a lot of amazing people over the years through Branded, and they’ve been super cool tipping me off to cool new relaunches and products.  One of these folks has always gone above and beyond, the witty, kind and super gracious HooveR, and I feel lucky to call him a friend.

IMG_5423

Hoov recently sent me a couple copies of the official, unofficial Visionaries Collectors Guide that was published this past April by Punch Party Press, a small two-man outfit out of the UK.  Though I was a huge fan of the cartoon as a kid I only manged to get my hands on a single action figure, Witterquick (I wrote a piece about re-acquiring him after 25+ years), and I’ve always been a little surprised that the Visionaries seemed like they didn’t have the same sort of fan love that other similar b-level properties have (like the ThunderCats and the Silverhawks.)  So when Hoov told me that there was a small press company working on a collector’s guide I was pretty darn excited.

IMG_5426

The book was crowdfunded on Kickstarter this past year and somewhere along the way Hasbro (who produced the original toy line and own the rights to the property) stepped in and sort of changed the focus of the book in terms of how it would be marketed and released after publication.  Christopher Ibbit and Gemma Tovee came to an agreement with Hasbro that would let them print and distribute the book, but they were only allowed to sell it for 1¢.  I don’t know the specifics of the deal, but I’d have to assume that they were allowed to keep and use the money raised on Kickstarter to fund the bulk printing and shipping of the books to the backers.  Since the books were also available for a time after the crowdfunding ended, I’m also assuming that the pair had more books printed than were needed to fulfill the backer pledges.

IMG_5424

The volume itself is really cool and focuses strictly on the 2 waves of the original toy line, the 1st originally released in 1987, and a second that was designed and marketed but ultimately never released.  Clocking in at 54 pages, the full color guide is printed on heavy matte cardstock and is about the size of a standard DVD case, almost like a pocket guide.  The book also features a couple of cool single-color neon ink cover illustrations by Bob Hall, that are really bright and vibrant.  All of the action figure photography in the book is excellent with a mixture of views for each figure including action poses as well as front and back shots with the accessories.  The pages are also complete with all of the bio and flavor text from the back of the toys, which was a really nice addition.

IMG_5425

For me the book works as a collector’s guide (as intended), but it’s also sort of an unofficial art book as well as Ibbit and Tovee took pains to find unaltered versions of the packaging artwork for the majority of the toys in the book, even the unreleased second wave of figures.  I have to wonder if they had access to this via the connection to Hasbro or if there were other sources for the action figure card art.  They even managed to devote a two-page spread to the original hologram illustrations for this second series as well, which was a really awesome added bonus.  There’s even a scan of a later comic book-style ad featuring some of the unproduced toys as well.

IMG_5427    IMG_5428

Though I would have loved to see the book be a little more comprehensive and also tackle other Visionaries merchandise like the short-lived Star comics series or the Marvel Big Looker Storybooks, I know that for a small press run of books like this that was probably impossible.

Visionaries_books

In fact my only real gripe would be that there are a couple of major pieces of card art missing from the first series of toys.  I’m not sure if this was a mistake or if it was a challenge to nail down nice artwork, but the cards for Leoric & Darkstorm are missing.  Considering they were able to provide nice imagery for the rest of the line (including vehicles and the second unreleased wave), these missing pieces stand out and keep this volume from being a perfect guide for the line.

All in all, considering the issues with Hasbro limiting their ability to sell the book, and the relatively obscure nature of the line it’s simply amazing to see a book this nice being released.  For Visionaries fans this is a must have collectible and unfortunately if you didn’t manage to get a hold of one via the Kickstarter or through their site after the campaign, it’s now out of print.  Well, as I mentioned above, my good buddy HooveR was super awesome for sending me not one, but TWO copies of the book!  So I’m going to give away my extra copy to one lucky Visionaries fan.

IMG_5429

So, what do you have to do to win this awesome book?  Well, for starters it would be really cool if you follow me on twitter (@smurfwreck), like the Branded Facebook page, and follow me on Instragram (@smurfwreck), but I’m not going to make those mandatory.  Instead let’s make this a fun exercise.  Below I’m going to post a very cool piece of Masters of the Universe artwork by the amazing Earl Norem (who sadly, just recently passed away.)  This painting was featured as a puzzle in an issue of the Masters of the Universe magazine and contains 16 intentional errors in the artwork (in the original magazine there were 17 errors, but one of them is kind of ridiculous so I’ll use it as an example below that doesn’t count.)

What I would like you to do is to send me an e-mail listing all 16 errors, your name and the name of  your favorite Visionaries character.  The contest will end on 8/2/2015 at Midnight est, and I’ll pick a winner at random on August 3rd and notify them via e-mail.

So the example of an error in this painting (that doesn’t count for this contest), the Land Shark is literally depicted as being in the water (and we all know it’s an evil land vehicle.)  So, find the other 16 things wrong with this picture and win a copy of the Visionaries Collectors Guide!

MOTU_Lake_of_Mystery_Contest

Click on the image to make it bigger!