Monster Squad Art, Part 2!

10710926_10152738966882328_5146327273773526587_nFor Day 2 of the Monster Squad fan art showcase I wanted to highlight a couple of seriously fun concepts.  First is the amazing work of Jason Edmiston who really knocked it out of the park with this Night of the Creeps/Monster Squad mash-up for Fright Rags

Jason Edmiston

Next is this totally rad idea for creating the VHS release advertisement for the “movie within a movie”, Groundhog Day Part 12 by Nathan Thomas Milliner!  I love that he gave this fake move the poster treatment…

1551459_455787314552592_5400043894649680805_n

Alright folks, time to rip open that wax wrapper and snag your Monster Squad trading card for today!

Monster Squad Wrapper

Today’s card is #9, The Gillman!

9 Gillman F-B

15044260840_0dd488a2cc_o

Monster Squad Art, Part 1

10710926_10152738966882328_5146327273773526587_nI thought it would be fun to showcase some of my favorite Monster Squad-themed art on the weekends this month, and who better to kick it off with other than a couple of seriously cool dudes who I am so happy to have originals of hanging in Branded HQ (not these pieces, but plenty of others.)  First up are some amazing sketches by one of my favorite comic book artists, Dan Schoening (of IDW’s Ghostbusters comics.)

MS Sketches Dan Schoening

I really love Dan’s eye for detail and the way he filters likenesses though his dynamic style.  If you get a chance, pick up his collected Ghostbusters comics work, you won’t be sorry!  Dan is also doing a really cool Halloween Countdown with monsters and creatures on post-it notes all month long!

Next we have one of the nicest folks I’ve ever met online, the awesome Christopher Tupa!

Christopher Tupa

Chris’ whimsey and his ability to tap into the wonder of childhood is unrivaled!  He is also participating in the Countdown to Halloween this year via his instagram account, check it out!

Now for today’s Trading card!

Monster Squad Wrapper

Since there was never any MS merchandise produced, specifically a Topps trading card set, I thought it would be fun to make a mini set of 80s-style digital trading cards for my favorite movie of all time. So come back each evening for Trick or Treats and collect them all!

Today’s card is #28, The Squad is formed!

28 How does he get up here F-B

15044260840_0dd488a2cc_o

Deconstructing the Monster Squad Clubhouse

10710926_10152738966882328_5146327273773526587_nFor this special edition of Awesome 80s Bedrooms I thought I’d change things up a little and try my best to do a breakdown off all the cool stuff in the Monster Squad Clubhouse.  There is so much stuff in there with every flat surface literally wallpapered with movie posters and stills.  I’ll be honest, 60% of it I can’t figure out, or can’t see well enough to make out.  Either way there is still a ton of fun stuff I can identify.  First up, a nice shot of the clubhouse and the description that was in the script to set the mood…

MSClubhouse

Script Description

Let’s start with probably the most famous shot of the Clubhouse which appeared during the scene when the Club was giving Rudy the Monster Test…

1

1). Return of the Living Dead movie poster (which is obscured by another poster that’s overlapping it on the bottom that I can’t identify…)

2). Hammer’s Vampire Circus movie poster

3). Movie still of Bela Lugosi as Dracula

4). The Being movie poster

5). Inhumanoids D’Compose action figure

So, technically, this next picture of the clubhouse is a “behind the scenes” photo (which I sourced from an issue of Fangoia), but I wanted to include it for completeness sake because it’s the only shot I know of that includes the ceiling.  This shot isn’t in the movie (that I’m aware of) but it includes some fun stuff like…

2

6). Frightmare movie poster

7). Movie still of Jerry (Chris Sarandon) from Fright Night

8). Movie still from Critters (Couldn’t find the exact still for this one, but you get the idea)

Up next I’m gonna jump to a shot inside the clubhouse right after Dracula shows up to blow the thing to smithereens (a single tear just fell down my cheek)…

3

9). Dr. Jekyll Aurora Monster Model Kit

10). The Hunchback Aurora Monster Model Kit

11). Famous Monsters of Filmland Issue 28

12). The Mummy Aurora Monster Model Kit

For 13, there are two posters I want to identify.  On the left is…

13a). Zombie (Zombi 2) movie poster

Then to the right of that in the shadows is one that I had a terrible time trying to figure out.  I reached out to the horror community, even to Fred Dekker (who was super kind with his time to answer, though he was stumped too.)  But my good buddy Ben Rollier of BatFan.com stepped up, tapped into his well of Batman detecting skills and solved the mystery!  Man I love the community on the internet…

13b). Hannah Queen of the Vampires movie poster from 1973

14). Movie still of the Ray Harryhausen Cyclops from the 7th Voyage of Sinbad

Next up…yet more movie stills and posters and stuff ;)

4

15). Movie still of David Niven in Old Drac

16). Some of the club’s monster drawings including illustrations of the Gillman, Dracula, and Frankenstein’s Monster

17). Finger wall hook (these are seen ALL throughout the clubhouse…)

18). Godzilla, War of the Monsters movie poster

19). Movie still of Lon Chaney Jr. in The Wolfman

There’s a closer look at that Godzilla poster in this next screen capture…

5

20). Blood of Ghastly Horror movie poster

21). Assorted Garbage Pail Kids and GPK puffy stickers…

22). Movie still of Sissy Spacek from Carrie

We get a few different angles in the scene when Rudy and Patrick are blackmailing Patrick’s sister to help them with some virginal German linguistics…

6

23). Ultraman Toy

24). Metaluna the Mutant Model Kit by Tsukuda

25). Movie still from The Creature From the Black Lagoon

26). B&W Promo still of Robert Englund as Freddy Kruger

27). Inhumanoids Tendril action figure

I was really surprised to spot the next three toys in this scene with the Monster learning to talk…

7

28). Roboto Masters of the Universe action figure

29). Mantenna Princess of Power action figure

30). Leech Princess of Power action figure

There are some more toys in this scene, as well as the boxes for those Aurora model kits of Dr. Jekyll and the Hunchback.  There are more toys on that makeshift shelf that I can’t identify…

8

31). Remco 3 &  3/4″ Dracula action figure

32). Gillman model kit by Tsukuda

9

33). Movie still from the 1925 Phantom of the Opera movie starring Lon Chaney Sr.

34). Movie still from the 1931 Dracula featuring Bela Lugosi and Edward Van Sloan

10

35). Sssssss movie poster

Sssssss

11

36). Still from Hammer’s The Curse of Frankenstein starring Christopher Lee as the Monster

Curse of Frankenstein

12

And finally one more movie poster…

37). Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors movie poster

Dr Terror

Now, I need to print out a bunch of these photo and posters and start building my replica clubhouse!

As an added bonus, here’s an ACTUAL bedroom breakdown, a quickie featuring the only shot of Sean’s room from the film…

Seans Room

Sean’s bedroom appears for a split second in the film at the very start of the Rock Until You Drop montage sequence and even though it’s really quick there are a number of cool things lying about.  I can’t identify all of it unfortunately, like what appears to be a Creature From the Black Lagoon toy/statue on his dresser, or the specific issue of MAD magazine all the way on the left.  That being said, here’s what I could figure out…

1a). Famous Monsters of Filmland Issue 28 (he obviously brought it in from the Clubhouse…)

1b). MAD Magazine issue 199

Thanks to Erick of the rad Wonderful Wonderblog for identifying the issue of MAD magazine to the left of FMoF #28!

2). Inflatable T-Rex (for the life of me I couldn’t identify the specific model or maker)

3). MAD Monsters Issue 5

4). “This Place Gives Me The Creeps” mini poster

5). Fantastic Four Issue Number 1 Poster

6). Famous Monsters of Filmland Issue 29

7). Plastic Frankenstein’s Monster statue (again, for the life of my I couldn’t figure out the year or maker…)

Before I close this out, here’s today’s Monster Squad trading card!

Monster Squad Wrapper

Today’s card is #21, E.J. & Derek!

21 EJ and Derek F-B

countdown button 200 2014 1

Monster Squad, my VHS holy grail…

10710926_10152738966882328_5146327273773526587_n

For the longest time it seemed like I was the only person who even knew that The Monster Squad existed.  After moving away from Florida during the winter of 1990 it seemed like I left behind everything I thought I knew and moved to a snowy wilderness where none of the other kids wore T&C Thrilla Gorilla shirts or obnoxiously colored surf shorts, nobody seemed to have a skateboard, and no one I met had heard of The Monster Squad.  New Hampshire felt like a completely different planet as a preteen who had spent the last 11 years growing up in sunny Tampa and Orlando.  During this period of change my mother and I developed some strange habits to try and stay connected to the world we left behind.  We had these daily ritual movie-watching sessions where we’d watch and rewatch the same handful of movies to a point where we knew every line of dialogue by heart and the tapes started to deteriorate.  VHS ownership was still an expensive hobby in 1990 as it was still in the middle of the initial boom and many catalog titles were only being manufactured for sale to video rental stores at exorbitant prices.  We had a handful of movies we’d taped off of HBO including a copy of Willow that I know for a fact was played over three hundred times during that year or so where we felt like we were in limbo.  And regular trips to the video rental shop were as important as eating or breathing.

I subsisted on a steady diet of about six VHS tapes that I watched to death, copies of Robocop and the first Tim Burton Batman flick that we owned, that beat up, taped copy of Willow, and rental copies of Rad, Red Dawn and The Monster Squad.  It was around this time that I developed a desire to own copies of the movies that I loved.  As I mentioned, buying copies of a lot of films was cost prohibitive as you had to purchase them through video store distributors and a single movie carried a price tag anywhere between $79.95 to well over $100.  For a thirteen year-old kid that seemed like an impossible dream.  When I could I’d tape movies off of HBO, which wasn’t perfect, but with recording in EXP mode and cramming three full movies on a single tape, the $5.99 per blank tape cost was much more in the realm of my budget.  Even so, I never managed to record The Monster Squad on TV, so it became the first hole in my collection, the movie I was constantly on the lookout for.

US Retail - Store VHS Vestron Advertisement 1988

I would have battled the vampire in the above VHS trade advertisement for a chance to own the flick.  Also, on a side note, I think it’s kind of funny just how much of the Monster Squad marketing riffed off of Ghostbusters, specifically in the ad above.  I guess the copy writers were trying their best to align it with the gold standard of horror comedies at the time.  “The Monster Squad ain’t afraid of no Ghouls!” indeed.

Getting back to my collecting woes, I wouldn’t own a copy of the film until a couple years after I graduated from high school.  In and around 1998 there was a rental store called Home Video in my neck of the woods that was beginning to thin out some of its stock to start making room for DVD rentals.  I had a full time job and was buying up VHS tapes left and right.  Though I had a pretty sizable collection (around 250 tapes at that point, which was a lot for the time) I still had yet to find a copy of The Monster Squad and by this time Vestron was no longer distributing the flick (if they were even still in business at all) so I was always on the hunt for video stores that were selling off their tapes.  So when I walked in and saw their clearance shelves I immediately started scanning the racks.  Right there in the middle of the second row was a copy of the movie complete with a faded cover from being in line of the direct sun for years on end, but I had to have it.  The store was asking for $30, which was still a pretty hefty price tag for me, but I plunked down a twenty and a ten and walked out with mt prize.

Untitled

MS VHS 3

I watched the ever living hell out of this copy of The Monster Squad, well over 200 times between 1998 and 2007 when the flick was finally released on DVD.  It’s still the gem in my movie collection even though I haven’t owned a VCR in almost a decade, and I can’t imagine ever parting with it.  Since this was released I’ve picked up the DVD, a copy of the laserdisc, and now the Blu-Ray.  I’m sure I’ll buy a copy when it’s released on a  holocube or whatever the hell the next format is.  Some people continuously buy copies of Star Wars over and over, but for me, it’s The Monster Squad.

Alright, now for today’s Monster Squad trading card!

Monster Squad Wrapper

Since there was never any MS merchandise produced, specifically a Topps trading card set, I thought it would be fun to make a mini set of 80s-style digital trading cards for my favorite movie of all time. So come back each day for Trick or Treats and collect them all!

Today’s card is # 1, Sean Crenshaw!

1 Sean Crenshaw F-B

countdown button 200 2014 Robare

How I discovered the Monster Squad…

10710926_10152738966882328_5146327273773526587_n

I’m sure most Monster Kids can recall that moment when they were exposed to and ultimately fell head over heels in love with classic horror. That first experience where they stumbled upon an issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland, when they caught a glimpse of a Basil Gogos painting, found their first Aurora monster model kit, or tuned into their first local horror host screening a beat up old print of one of the universal classics on a Saturday afternoon. For me, I can pinpoint that moment to an almost exact place, date and time. I had just recently turned ten years-old, it was in Orlando on August 22nd 1987, at the Altamonte Springs Cineplex Odeon theater at roughly 4:00pm. I know that because that was when I attended a screening of Fred Dekker’s The Monster Squad with my childhood friend Bryan and my mind was blown by what transpired on that huge movie screen over the course of the next hour and twenty minutes.

The excitement had been building for a couple weeks prior to that screening. I had about $10 worth of saved birthday money in my black Velcro Jimmy Z wallet that was earmarked for a matinee at my local theater and there were a handful of flicks that I really wanted to see that summer. I wasn’t sure if I should get a ticket to North Shore (I lived in FL and was in the middle of my surfing/BMX/Skateboarding phase), the new live action Masters of the Universe flick (I was in the waning days of my initial love of that cartoon and toy line), or Garbage Pail Kids: The Movie. Then one afternoon I was hanging out with my friend Bryan at another kid’s house that I didn’t know all that well. That kid’s parents were out shopping and we were sitting at the kitchen table flipping through the Orlando Sentinel looking for the comics and movie announcements. We were making a mess of the Arts and Entertainment section, spreading it all over the kitchen trying to find the fun stuff when out of the corner of my eye I glimpsed an ad for a film I hadn’t heard of and the tagline had me diving over Bryan to snatch up the page.

“You know who to call when you have Ghosts. But who do you call when you have Monsters?”

Monster Squad Newspaper Ad August 14 1987 2

I wish the above picture was ripped from the Orlando Sentinel, but unfortunately their archive is mainly text, but pretty much everything else besides the theater location is what I saw that afternoon.  I remember drooling over the artwork in the ad, the iconic painting by Craig Nelson featuring a group of kid monster hunters hanging out on the hood of a hearse underneath a sky literally filled with monsters. It was like the Mt. Rushmore of classic movie monsters, and at that moment I knew exactly where the remainder of my birthday money was going. All thoughts of surfing vacations in Hawaii, Dolph Lundgren as He-Man, or little people in GPK costumes evaporated from my consciousness. In my spastic excitement Bryan and his friend had stopped spreading and paper out and they hovered over my shoulders to get a look at what I was obsessing over. They were hooked too. The Monster Squad sounded amazing to our 10 year-old brains, it was like The Goonies versus Halloween and we all decided that come hell or high water we’d be catching that movie as soon as possible.

Spokane Chronicle Page Spread Aug 14 1987

That afternoon was capped off with some weird drama as Bryan and I got into an argument with his friend about the use of his home phone and our now immediate need to call a 1-900 number to “hear a special monster message”, part of the Monster Squad theatrical advertisement that ran in the August 14th papers across the country (as seen above.) By calling 1-900-660-6666 we could actually talk to a freaking monster! Bryan’s friend was having none of it as he wisely knew that he’d get into huge trouble when the phone bill came and there were a bunch of charges that he’s have a tough time explaining away. No matter how much we needled him, no matter how much we cajoled, or offered a month’s worth of sack lunch Twinkies, he would not budge.  Needless to say we were bummed and in a fit of childhood stupidity Bryan and I stormed out of his house and sped away on our bikes in a huff. That little row lasted the entire week and on that next Saturday it was just Bryan and I packed into the rear-facing, fold-up station wagon seat en route to catch a screening of a film that would forever change my life.

Twenty Seven years later and I can still feel the visceral pull of needed to call that 900 number.  When I sat down to write this my mind raced.  Dare I dial it?  Would that recording still be ready to play, sitting on an aging cassette tape in some call center switchboard, just waiting for me to finally be brave enough (and financially stable enough) to accept the charges and hear a real live (er…recorded) monster tell me some juicy tidbits about their life, or my Horror-scope, or whatever cheesy message was in store?  I had some Skype-Out credit sitting in my account so I decided what the hell, what’s the worst that can happen?  Well, it’s my sad duty to report that the number is no longer in service.  Sigh.  That doesn’t mean my research stopped there.  I dug into the internet archives hoping someone else had written about, or hopefully recorded that original message.  No dice.  Well, not exactly.  Thankfully someone on youtube managed to rip an old 1-900-660-6666 commercial from a VHS tape and upload it, though for the final nail of my despair coffin the commercial was Christmas themed.  Apparently whoever held that number changed it out seasonally.  Still, kinda neat that my detective skills were unable to unlock that tidbit I guess.

So in place of the actual Call a Monster message, here’s asimilar horror-themed 900 hotline from back in the day.  I’m particularly fond of it as it was pimped by Al Lewis, Grandpa Munster himself and called the Jr. Vampires of America Club!

Also, this first post is just the taste of a much longer article that I recently wrote for the premiere issue of Monster Shindig magazine which should be debuting later this month!

Lastly today’s first Monster Squad Trading Card!!!

Monster Squad Wrapper

I made a mini set of 80s Topps-style digital trading cards for my favorite movie of all time, one that unfortunately never had an official set released (or any merchandise for that matter.) So come back each day for Trick or Treats and collect them all!

Today’s card is #10, The Mummy!

10 Mummy F-B

15044260840_0dd488a2cc_o

Wait, there are four Ghostbusters?!?

ghostbusters_poster

Poor Winston Zeddmore and Ernie Hudson, it seems like outside of the Real Ghostbusters cartoon and the various comic book series Winston/Hudson is always getting the shaft.  Whether it’s being dropped from 95% of the merchandising of the first film not appearing on the posters or on some of the home video releases over the years, the fact that Hudson is snubbed for most of the film’s original trailer (there’s even a montage of everyone who is starring in the film and when it gets to Hudson, the footage is there but only silence from the announcer), or the fact that Hudson was even passed over when he auditioned to reprise the character in the cartoon for crying out loud.  Both the character and the actor can not catch a break.  I’m surprised they didn’t put William Atherton on the poster just to rub it in a little more…

36249-ghostbusters-old-full

Well, I’ve been aware of these slights for awhile, but I never realized just how deep this snubbing went.  Last week I found that copy of Starlog (issue 98 from September of 1985) and while flipping through it there was a spotlight on Ernie Hudson, specifically in reference to his recent stint as one of the Ghostbusters.  At first I was just skimming the article because I thought it was probably a fluff piece, but the more I read the more I realized that even though he was overjoyed to work on the film and is happy with the final result, the Ghostbusters he helped make was not the one he signed on to star in.  In fact, if the version of the script that swayed Hudson to sign on had been filmed things would be a lot different!

Starlog 98

Sigh, Hudson doesn’t even get a blurb on the cover…

First of all, the way Hudson frames it in this article the character of Winston was in the film longer, originally hired at the outset with Janene when the trio of Stanz, Spengler, and Venkman open the business.  But aside from that there was originally a much richer back story for the character including the fact that he was ex-military, and not just some random guy off the street looking for a job.  He always felt like the odd man out in the films since he wasn’t a scientist like the other three (well Venkman is debatable.)  On top of those slights, some of his bits from the original script were dished out to other characters during filming.  For instance Winston was originally the character that was to be cornered by Slimer in the hotel hallway, which of course went to Bill Murray.  Then later in the film it was Zeddmore that had the Stay Pufy brain fart that brings the Destroyer in the form of a giant marshmallow man!  Well, at least he still gets the “big Twinkie” line…

You can read the article for yourself below…

So, what do you think, has Winston been getting the shaft?

IT’S ALIVE! Branded gears back up for the 2014 Countdown to Halloween

It’s been pretty quiet around here during this past summer as I’ve been juggling a lot of projects, but things have calmed down a bit and I’m fully ready to tackle my 9th Halloween at Branded in the 80s.

Before I talk about this year’s theme, I wanted take a second and point again to the Countdown to Halloween site, a hub for sites who are participating in the month-long celebration of all things Halloweeny.  I recently re-skinned the website for this new year and added a brand new batch of participant badges, all with a monstrously aquatic theme in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the release of Universal’s Creature From the Black Lagoon!

Julie Adams and the Gill Man in CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, 1954.

I had a lot of fun fudging the 3-D effect for the new site banner as well as picking some creature-rific imagery for the 2014 badges.  This year there’s also a special project I’m working on specifically for the countdown site that I hope to announce in the next few days.  So head on over to the Countdown site. check out the list of participating websites, and join up if you’re planning on celebrating on your own site!

10300784_10152738938257328_7578219611792464424_n

As for Branded, this year I’m finally going to spend some quality time talking about one of my favorite films, probably my most favorite, Fred Dekker’s 1987 kid-adventure, horror masterpiece The Monster Squad!  I’ve written and talked a little bit about the flick over the years, though mostly it was either reviewing the bootleg DVD, lamenting the lack of an official DVD release, and then when the film was finally released on disc, it was to lament the horrible cover art that adorned it.  I fully intended to spend a week talking about the movie when the 25th anniversary came up a couple years ago, but I got sidetracked and just wrote one short piece about seeing the film for the first time.  I also did a breakdown of Eugene’s room when I first started my exploration of 80s era kid’s rooms on film.  I still feel though, that I haven’t sufficiently tackled a discussion of the flick, so for the next 31 days I’m going to do my best to dig into all aspects of my favorite movie of all time!

10655011_1449641078658365_981214608_nI have a pretty ambitious line up of articles and features planned to celebrate this cult classic, so I hope you’ll join me each day as I examine all aspects of the movie from the script, the marketing, the home video release, trivia, behind the scenes footage and so much more.  As an added bonus, each day this month I plan on posting a treat for your virtual McDonalds Halloween Boo-Pail.  I’ve always been bummed that the movie didn’t have a big merchandising push like other kid’s flicks from the decade, so there were never any read along adventure books, Burger King Collectors glasses (a crime since they were so prominently featured in the movie), or toys.  We didn’t even get a set of Topps trading cards!  We all know how much I love Topps, wax wrappers and junk, so I’ve taken it upon myself to create a mini set of collectible digital Monster Squad trading cards, and I’ll be “handing” them out in place of candy for all you trick or treators who stop by Branded this month.  To get you started I’ll post the first one below.

27 Scraps F-B

Thanks again for reading Branded and I look forward to kicking some Wolfman nards over the next month…

countdown button 200 2014 Robare

Awkward Toy Family Photos…

Though I’ve been more or less away from the site for the last few months, I’ve still been mucking about with some geeky nostalgic stuff.  In particular I’ve been having some fun on Instagram taking a series of photos of my current toy collection.  Since I’ve broken down and started picking up some more vintage toys lately (ones that I used to own not mint on card or in box), as well as picking up some modern nostalgic figures here and there, I thought it would be cool to jumble these up and create some goofy Awkward Toy Family photos to document the collection.  That’s one of the things that I enjoy about Instagram is that it only takes a few minutes to grab a few toys from the shelf and snap a picture before heading out to work.  It’s never going to replace Branded, but when I’ve got a crap ton of real life things eradicating my time to write, it’s a great way to still feel engaged. So, with that in mind, here are some of the photos I’ve shot over the summer…

5c35ce88075811e3b8f122000a1f9345_7

This is one of the first I shot, and it was just totally on a whim.  I love the idea of Faker giving piggyback rides.  My good buddy HooveR had sent me this Captain Power figure and that small act of kindness is pretty much what helped me break through my aversion to procuring loose, used, old toys.  I had forgotten how cool the Captain figure was and had a blast pairing him up with my Masters of the Universe figures, so I just said “screw it” and started hitting up eBay.  So thanks Hoov! ;)

10467728_248502502009783_967646821_n

Speaking of the Captain, here’s a photo for a failed 80s band that could never reproduce the popularity of their first and only major label record.  Emmdubs, a swell dude I follow on the social media was kind enough to send me his old Miles Mayhem figure, and I had just recently picked up that sweet Tux Go Bot mint on card at a local antique shop for only $7.

929161_520996784696199_1677551544_n

I envisioned this photo as three hard working dudes getting together after a tough day of doing whatever jobs requires wearing these cumbersome masks.  Emmdubs has also sent me this Matt Tracker figure, and I went ahead and pulled the trigger on two of my favorite childhood action figures from the Star Wars and G.I. Joe lines (the AT-AT Driver and Wet Suit.)

10537993_268146130057311_70480804_n

Next up is my cadre of feathered heroes including Quicksilver from the Silverhawks (the only Silverhawks figure I owned as a kid), Jason from Battle of the Planets, and Gizmoduck from DuckTales.  I had this GD cereal premium as a teen and cherished it so much that I turned it into a lucky necklace and wore it to my high school graduation.  Some ridiculous teacher saw it and snatched it away from me and I never found her to get it back.  By the by, man is it ever hard to find a decent condition Silverhawks figure.  The chrome plating wears off so easily so 97% of the loose figures I’ve seen look terrible.  Took forever to find this one…

10593466_311572379017097_981667116_n

Here’s a weird toy robot family photo including my all time favorite Transformer Sideswipe, Cliffjumper, a cool Decoy of Smokescreen, and my favorite Go Bots toy, the Super Go Bot Psycho!

10561027_304942949679329_725208076_n

Switching gears a bit, here’s a picture of some of my favorite childhood motorcycles (Sly and Piranha & Brad Turner and Condor from M.A.S.K. along with Afterburner from the Transformers.)

915511_1374320472840974_1993858304_n

Here’s another early one that I’ve posted before featuring a D&D Wardule, Tonto from the Gabriel Lone Ranger line and a demon from Blackstar.

10520134_535959019865349_186021687_n

For those of you who are longtime readers you’ll know that I love Robo Force and I REALLY love their sweet hugging action feature…

10608066_1524138174469883_499817049_n

Remember that time He-Man and Teela ended up in the spirit world and really needed some help getting the new tenants of Castle Greyskull to move out?  Beetlejuice was not the greatest option, but they had to try…

928647_745981542142485_1258126491_n

Some of my favorite super hungry and ornery aliens and ghosts!

c984265cb14811e3b1a50e4395231e59_8

Hands down, my favorite G.I. Joe figure had to be Dial Tone.  Such an under appreciated figure and character.  He’s posing with a sweet water color portrait by the kickass Christopher Tupa!

10508023_871605252868118_1037694061_n

I also ran across some of my Micro Machines star wars tiny mini figures, so I did a couple of shoots with them and their larger counterparts.  Admiral Ackbar can not repel cuteness of that magnitude!  As for the Gamorean Guard and Greedo, I think the guard got the better end of this trade by far…

10601888_701300246629879_1963858774_n

And speaking of Greedo, last but not least, Greedo playing Space Invaders (which was what I was fiddling with while recording a recent episode of the Nerd Lunch podcast with the Retroist as a guest…)

10499291_676255555800656_78611102_n

So check me out over on instagram.  I try and post regularly and do my best to keep it fun!

 

I’m basically still Chunk at heart

For the majority of my life I was, well, let’s say pretty husky.  As a very young kid I was actually pretty skinny, say up until I was six or seven, but starting with my family’s first big move across state, and then all over the east coast things got a little difficult for me and well for a bunch of reasons food became my comfort.  But I’m not really sitting down to write about that as much as describing an aspect that contributed to my personality as a kid.  Moving around a lot, overweight, and to be quite honest I was one hell of a weird kid.  My mom has always kept an unusual schedule, sleeping during the day when my sister and I were at school and my dad at work, and then staying up till all hours of the morning watching late night cable.  When she would go grocery shopping it was usually at one of the stores in the area that was open 24 hours and she liked to hit them up between 10:00pm to 12:00am to avoid a bunch of other customers and to basically have a stress free experience.  When she went on the weekends I’d tag along and wander around the vast empty store, browsing the toy aisle for 45 minutes talking to myself out loud and making mental lists of all the stuff I would ask for on my upcoming birthdays and Christmas.  From the outside I’m sure I appeared pretty damn weird, but I was fully aware of it and for the most part didn’t care how I looked or seemed to others.  I was entertaining myself and that’s all that mattered.

So when relating to characters from pop culture, it should come as no surprise that I’ve always felt that Chunk (Jeff Cohen) from the Goonies is more or less my spirit animal…

Goonies

I was never great at making friends though I always managed to, and when I did I tended to over compensate, exaggerate and be kind of a handful just like the loveable Lawrence.  In my defense Michael Jackson, nor his sister, ever came to my house to use the bathroom…but I saw Stephen King in a Maine bookstore once on vacation (sure I did…)  I wouldn’t say I was using the character as a role model, but I sure did feel his pain whenever he’d spaz out or make a fool of himself…

Chunk a Mess in ActionTruffle Shuffle

I also had a weird habit of wearing Halloween costumes was past the point of being “acceptable” for normal attire.  I mean I’d be hanging out in the house dressed up in my sweet ninja gear during Christmas or I’d be tooling around the neighborhood in my “G.I. Joe fatigues” and beret for instance…

8555990730_7987102d84_z

…so later on in life when I found out about Jeff Cohen’s penchant for waring weird and wacky headgear both on and off the set of Goonies, I totally related.  Part of it was that need to perform, part just trying to over compensate.

Jeff Cohen Hat Obsession

Anyway, this is all a lot of lead up to the fact that I just found this old back issue of Starlog magazine in a used bookshop this past week and I was overjoyed to see that it included an interview with Jeff Cohen (and Corey Feldman, but Jeff steals the show)!  Usually these articles only focused on the adult actors or crew, so it’s pretty rad to find one that was concentrating on the kids, but wasn’t fluff from an 80s teeny-bop magazine.  Hope everyone enjoys reading this as much as I did…

Starlog 98

Again, from the article Cohen has a quote about his character Chunk that really echos my childhood experience as a pseudo-Chunk…

“Chunk is too much, but he doesn’t care.  He likes it.  He doesn’t like being fat, but he likes having his own personality.  He’s a little bit flashy, wears plaid pants and a big Hawaiian shirt and struts around…he’s a klutz and a liar.  He lies to his friends, but nothing to hurt ‘em.”

Anyway, the interview is all over the place as both Feldman and Cohen are hyped up and excited, but I still think it’s a fun read and a great snapshot of these two actors in the prime of their Goonies experience.  So glad I found this…

Fine art from the fine folks at Cricket Press

The land of Branded has basically been an empty field populated only by the sound of crickets chirping over the summer, but behind the scenes I’ve been gearing up for the coming Fall and my yearly Countdown to Halloween.  I have a fun month worth of posts planned for this season that I’ll be kicking off towards the end of September, but until then (and speaking of crickets) I thought I’d point to some work by a couple of my favorite artists, Sara & Brian Turner the supremely rad Cricket Press.  The duo have been producing some amazing illustrations and screen prints for over a decade and I’ve had the opportunity to meet, hang out and work with them during my tenure at Branded.  Could ask to meet nicer, more creative folks for sure.  Lately Cricket Press has been dipping into the 80s nostalgic well for inspiration in some of their prints that I thought readers here might really dig.  Specifically Sara has been illustration and designing a series of prints based on kid adventure flicks like The Goonies, Stand By Me, The Outsiders and E.T.

il_fullxfull.628485226_oy45

I love her eye for composition and the perspective she uses with her subjects.  There’s a storybook quality to the illustrations that nail the tone of the inspiration while still filtering the pieces through her style that is just awesome.  I love way she frames the stand off between the Goonies and the Fratellis in the above print for instance, or the way she condenses the story of the gang from Stand By Me into the one image below.  I can feel the vibrations of the train I know is coming, and it illustrates the adventure that’s ahead of Vern, Teddy, Chris and Gordy…

il_fullxfull.579367012_qaxb

il_fullxfull.604674218_qipo

Cricket Press has also recently finished a series of 80s era iconic vehicle prints that are done in a very minimalist style that I absolutely love.  I have these hanging in Branded HQ right now…

il_fullxfull.584115855_jz1f

The image above doesn’t do justice to the prints as they used metallic inks on the Delorean, KITT, and BA’s Van from the A-Team that really make these pop.

You can find all of these and more over at their Etsy shop, so head on over and check out their work.  You won’t be sorry!

il_fullxfull.597146908_ldno