These Should Exist: The Robo Force Edition!

Well, I’m finally back from my winter hiatus and I have a lot of stuff I want to write about here at Branded in the coming year.  2016 marks my 10 year running this site and I’m kind of floored that I’m still loving it after all these years.  Hell, I’ve officially been writing about the 80s as long as that decade lasted and I still have a ton of articles in mind that I’d love to tackle.  Bottom line, I want to take a second to thank each and every person who has ever stopped by to read an article, leave a comment, or strike up a conversation on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.  I’ve gotten a chance to meet a bunch of you at various conventions and live events, and there are still a lot of folks I’d love to say “Hi” to in person someday.  It’s been a crazy ride and it’s not even close to being over yet.

I wanted to ease my way back into writing articles so I thought this would be the perfect time to share another set of digital trading cards that I’ve been slowly working on over the last year.  Looking back to the beginning of this site, there was one 80s brand that came up a lot when I was fondly remembering obscure nostalgia from my childhood.  It’s a toy line that is a real underdog when it comes to under-loved properties, and one that has had a great resurgence over the past couple of years.  I’m talking about those loveable, hugable robots, Maxx Steele’s Robo Force!

Robo_Force_Wrapper

When I started designing these digital 80s trading cards I knew that I wanted to not only fill in the pop culture cards for sets based on TV shows and movies, I also wanted to create sets for other fun stuff like bands, book series and toy lines.  Robo Force was always right up there at the top of the list of sets I wanted to work on, not only because I have a lot of fondness for the line, but also because there is a lot of great artwork that really hasn’t been showcased.

RoboForce_Combo_1

RoboForce_Combo_3     RoboForce_Combo_8

RoboForce_Combo_2

I took this opportunity to scan the back of one of the packages that had some great art featuring all the characters from wave one of the toy line.  I also scanned in some of the book covers and took some fun screenshots from the one cartoon episode that was finally released on DVD this past year…

RoboForce_Combo_4     RoboForce_Combo_5

RoboForce_Combo_6     RoboForce_Combo_7

RoboForce_Combo_9

All in all, I had a blast working on this cards.  To beat a dead horse, I really wish that I could get these professionally printed up, but until I can make that happen I guess I’ll just have to be content in creating them.

RoboForce_Combo_10     RoboForce_Combo_11

RoboForce_Combo_12

RoboForce_Combo_13     RoboForce_Combo_14

RoboForce_Combo_15

RoboForce_Combo_16     RoboForce_Combo_17

This is also one of those sets where I had a hard time holding back when it came to the amount of cards I wanted to design.  Between trying to feature all of the characters, the great artwork from the books and screenshots from the DVD, if I had the time this set would have easily had 100 cards or more.  As it stands I tried to cap myself at 26 to keep it down to a manageable project.

RoboForce_Combo_18

RoboForce_Combo_19     RoboForce_Combo_20

RoboForce_Combo_21

I was really happy with how these turned out.  In fact, I’m toying around with the idea of making a second series that exclusively focuses on the animated special so that I can try my hand at putting together a set that is more in line with the Masters of the Universe cards that Topps did (complete with scene by scene breakdowns and speech bubbles added to all the screenshots.)  But we’ll see…

RoboForce_Combo_22     RoboForce_Combo_23

RoboForce_Combo_24-26

Trapper Keeper, the Sophisticated School Supply

About a month ago my buddy Philip Reed over at BattleGrip.com send me a link to a vintage newspaper article about the introduction of Mead’s Trapper Keeper notebook system that was originally published in the Reading Eagle in December of 1982.

4

I love getting pointed to or stumbling across articles like this that address cool, yet let’s be honest, rather mundane aspects of what it was like to be a kid in the 80s.  I mean I can just imagine what it was like in a household around the end of summer where a kid had been badgering their parents to get them that new orange Trapper Keeper with the badass Lamborghini  and sunglasses on it because they absolutely had to have it to do well in the coming school year.  At first the parents are balking at the idea, I mean the last thing that want to do is to shill out another $5 for an expansive notebook when they know for a fact that their kid lost three of those expansive newfangled mechanical pencils the year prior, and will probably go through three more this year.  But then after skimming through the paper one morning the father saw this piece about Mead’s new notebook system and they realized, hey, maybe there’s something too this…

Trapper Keeper - Reading Eagle - Dec - 12 - 1982

Granted, this short article by J. Earl Ruthardt is basically a glorified advertisement for Mead and it’s products, there are some fun bits in information in there for the 80s nostalgia enthusiast.  I mean, I assumed that the Trapper Keeper evolved from other Mead notebooks, but it was cool to learn that preceding the Trapper Keeper were two other products, The Mead Organizer and the Mead Data-Center (the latter of which sounds badass, though I’m sure it’s just a three ring binder with folders that fit inside.)  It was also neat to discover that the revolutionary design of the Trapper Keeper was crowd-sourced from surveys with kids all over the country where Mead could get an idea of the notebook woes students had to deal with on a daily basis.

I also think it’s interesting that the design alone was the biggest selling point initially since the graphic design of the folders back in 1982 was still the standard one-color outer folder with no embellishments for crazy 80s era imagery.  So if these were so popular that they were flying off shelves and selling out at stores across the country in 1982, I have to imagine that when they started slapping on airbrushed dolphins, photos of bounding kittens and the aforementioned Lamborghinis sales must have at least doubled.  20 million dollars in sales for a single type of school supply.  I think that means that at least 1 in every 4 kids in the country must have owned at least one in 1982.  Pretty crazy stuff.

And since I love showing off my vintage Trapper Keeper, here it is again…

1

3

2

Pop Culture Cartography Revisited

Almost two years ago I dug through my books and piles of ephemera to gather together my collection of pop culture maps from all sorts of different fantasy and movie worlds including cartography from the Thundercats, Willow, Fraggle Rock, The Princess Bride, The Smurfs, Dark Crystal and of course my favorite, The Goonies.  Well, this past month I discovered that there are two different versions of the map from the Goonies.  Not only is there an actual map in the film that leads the way to One-Eyed Willie’s pirate treasure (which I have a pretty darn cool replica of hanging in Branded HQ), but there was also a rather rare piece of mail-away, ephemera that was offered by Hi-C back in 1985.

Scan courtesy of Dan Goodsell (the rad artist behind Mr. Toast!)

Called the Goonies Story Card Adventure Map, this mail-away freebie was a giant fold-out map that had a very unique way of presenting the various locations from the film as well as illustrating the plot at the same time.  This thing was gargantuan at almost 4 feet long and almost a foot high.

But before I dig into that I want to thank the gracious Dan Goodsell of the World of Mr. Toast for allowing me to showcase his scan of the above Hi-C can label.  I’m sure I’ve talked about this before, but there are a handful of seriously awesome folks like Dan who have spent considerable amounts of time and money procuring, collecting, and archiving rare ephemera.  On the face of it these digitized collections provide an unbelievable insight into packaging that is a priceless archive for graphic artists, not to mention acting as a visual connection that generations of people can connect over via our cultural shared nostalgia.  But these collections often hold clues and keys that unlock all sorts of other mysteries for fans of pop culture. When I first stumbled upon the Goonies Story Card Adventure Map I didn’t realize that there was more to the map.  But after doing some research and finding the awesome Hi-C scan of Dan’s I was able to fill in some of the gaps that I was looking for. Without these archives, or blogs and sites that freely share their collections of vintage scans it would be impossible to put the pieces of the past back together.  So again, I want to thank Dan for being a super cool dude and letting me share this piece from his collection.

So what is this Story Card Adventure Map that I’m so excited about?  Well, as part of the Goonies merchandising push back in 1985 Warner Bros. partnered with the Coca Cola Company to offer these free map and card sets either via a mail-away promotions on the cans of Hi-C, or from in-store displays.  If you snagged one of the foldout maps in the store you had to collect the story cards that were printed on the Hi-C juice can labels (see above), whereas if you mailed away for the map it was shipped complete with the 24 card set included.

Goonies_Adventure_Map_Cover

Between the cards and the flavor text on the map you can relive the plot of the film scene by scene, and location by location.  But even without the card set that map is really cool because it addresses one of the weird spatial mysteries presented in the film, which is where exactly these underground tunnels and caves are located in relation to the above ground landmarks in Astoria (or at least the Astoria presented in the film…)

Goonies_Adventure_Map

Unfortunately this map wasn’t designed to answer those spatial questions specifically, but because of the way that it’s laid out it hints at how a lot of the films locations are laid out and how they connect to each other.  Also, as a bonus bit of interesting area layout imagine all that space from the country club on the top left out to the Goondocks on the top right being covered in a newly constructed golf course. I’m guessing the 9th and 10th holes would have been located along the shore right where that neighborhood stands.  Stupid Troy and his dumb dad…

Goonies_Adventure_Map_Back

Not only did this map generally reveal the location and proximity of landmarks in the film the included story cards and character bios on the back of the map also revealed other obscure details of the film like all of the characters full names.  Did you know that Data’s real name is Ricky Roper?  That Chunk’s last name was Cohen (which was also the actor’s actual last name, Jeff Cohen.)  That Andy was short for Andrea?  There’s also some more backstory revealed such as confirmation that Stef and Mouth dated for a bit before the film.  Or that at 13, Mikey is the youngest Goonie which puts the other three at, at least 14 and places all of them in the 8th grade most likely.

Do these details actually matter?  No, but they’re still cool bits of trivia for any diehard fan for sure.  As far as pop culture cartography goes, this map may have just taken the number spot as my favorite ever…

 

Peel Here & Scream, Day 31!

Peel_Here_Scream

We’ve finally arrived on the big day!  Happy Halloween everyone!  Hoping today is full of hayrides, haunted houses, trick-or-treating, carving pumpkins, Halloween parties, and all sorts of spooky merriment!  Me?  I’m going to kick pick one of the recipes out of the Vincent Price Cookbook, chill out and have a blast watching horror movies and handing out buckets of candy to kids this evening.

The last sticker for this countdown is a Mello Smello promo sticker given out at Circle K’s back in the 80s and feels like the perfect image to close out this season with…

unnamedjhghj

Again, hope everyone has a happy Halloween and thanks for stopping by Branded this month to check out all the vintage sticker fun.

2dmgklx.jpg

Peel Here & Scream, Day 30!

Peel_Here_Scream

Well, we’re just one day away from the big show, the 10th Halloween where I’ve been sharing creepy, spooky 80s era fun here at Branded in the 80s.  If there’s one thing I’m really grateful for when it comes to running this site it’s that it’s forced me to pay more attention to the little things that surround my favorite holiday.  Looking back, the 10 years that preceded Branded I feel like that era is just a blur where the Halloween-y celebrations were minimal at best and I wonder about how many cool things slipped by my radar during that time.  Ah well, maybe I’ll find out over the next 10 years when the folks start really waxing nostalgic over the late 90s and early 2000s.  I assume I’ll be a regular reader of the Branded in the Millennium website whenever someone starts that ;)

Now onto the stickers for today.  First up is this rather creepy sheet of stickers from Hallmark released back in 1982.  Even though the illustrations are on the cute and cuddly side, if you pay attention you’ll see that these stickers are a tad more intense than the fare that I’ve been sharing so far during the Countdown.  Take that vampire scarecrow for instance.  Instead of just posing with a cute black cat it looks like he’s about to attack it!  Or what about that spider that’s sizing up that bee that it’s about to devour?  Or those seriously frightened jack-o-lanterns, or that freaky ass tree monster!

1982

Alright, let’s bring the intensity down a notch with this sheet of stickers released by Paper Magic back around 1983-84.  The stand-outs for me on this sheet are the anthropomorphic potions in the witch’s cauldron (which are awesome in a scrubbing bubbles sort of way) and that ghostly duo that look like they’re one werewolf drummer away from an awesome band…

$_5hggg7

Next up today are a couple of packs of Window Weirdos stickers released by the Sticker Store around 1980 or so.  I love these because they’re so sketchy, and the whole idea of peeking into the windows of a creepy house to see all the weird things living inside is genius!

hhhhh    gggggg

Last up today on this eve before Halloween is this small sheet of stickers that I haven’t been able to identify in terms of exact year or manufacturer.  I will say that I love the aesthetic and if I had to pinpoint it I’d guess these were released sometime between 1985-1987.  Also, Cowboy pumpkins for the win…

sssss00

Come back tomorrow for my final day of the 2015 Peel Here & Scream Countdown to Halloween!

2r3i810.jpg

 

 

Peel Here & Scream, Day 29!

Peel_Here_ScreamFor today’s Peel Here & Scream I’m jumping in the haunted DeLorean and heading back to 1983 for these classic monster stickers from Hallmark.  Is that the most dapper werewolf you’ve every seen or what?!?

$_5x7

I also dig that this sheet features the grim reaper.  He doesn’t get nearly enough play at Halloween if you ask me.  Also, dig the vamped out Bride of the monster on this sheet too.  Next up is a scratch-n-sniff pumpkin sheet also from Hallmark, though this time from 1984…

$_57

Both of these sheets came complete with cut lines, so my assumption is that these were designed to be cut up and distributed as treats for Halloween.  Maybe proto Stick-R-Treats?

Anyway, there are only a couple days left, have you all got your plans in order for the big day?

2dmgklx.jpg

Peel Here & Scream, Day 28!

Peel_Here_ScreamWe’re getting down to the wire for this year’s Halloween season with just a handful of days left before our towns are besieged by tiny ghosts and goblins and we all get sick off of eating way too much candy.  I can’t wait to plant myself on the porch and hand out candy to a bunch of excited trick or treaters!  But enough about me, lets get to today’s stickers shares which is all about Hallmark Stick-R-Treats!

il_fullxfull.454975703_pvjp

Stick-R-Treats were sold in bags by Hallmark for folks to hand out in lieu of candy during Halloween from around 1983 to 1995 or so.  I didn’t get many as a kid, but I would have loved them in my pumpkin pail…

$_5khjjkh7    il_570xN.385737826_hzlm

s-l500

$_sdvsvs7    $_57dfdf

il_fullxfull.385725539_3vir

il_fullxfull.275840235

Somewhere in my archive I also have a sheet of Gremlins stickers too.  I’ll have to update this post later with those…

**UPDATE**  Here’s that Gremlins sticker…

558671358_eb3c100db5_o

2dmgklx.jpg

 

Peel Here & Scream, Day 27!

Peel_Here_Scream

Sigh, this work week is already kicking my butt, but I’m not gonna let that keep me from sharing some fun vintage Halloween stickers! First up we have this awesome sheet of Hallmark stickers from 1980…

1980 Hallmark Halloween stickers

There is absolutely nothing I don’t love about that sheet of stickers.  Ghost mice eating candy corn, happy scarecrows, warm fuzzy devils, werewolves, and ghosts hiding behind their own “Boo”.

The other sheet I wanted to share today is just as adorable…

$_5bcbcb7

What’s up wi all the mice eating candy corn stickers all of a sudden?!?  I’m not sure what company released this second sheet, but by the look of the artwork, I’d say that these were probably released around 1980-81.

Well, you know the drill.  Come back by tomorrow for even more Vintage Halloweeny sticker fun!

2r3i810.jpg

Peel Here & Scream, Day 26!

Peel_Here_Scream

Welcome back to the last week of the 2015 Branded Countdown to Halloween!  Can you smell that?  Nope, it’s not a fresh batch of scratch ‘n sniff stickers, it’s freaking autumn!  I’ve been mentioning here and there that I recently made a long distance move from Atlanta to Maryland and one of the most jarring aspects to this change in scenery has been experiencing a true set of four seasons.  Down in the south we basically get two seasons, summer and winter.  At least in the area where I lived there weren’t a ton of leafy trees that changed color in the fall (mostly there were just various pine trees), and the temperatures usually went from a bamly, humid 90-100 degrees down to the 40s and 50s almost overnight sometime in mid to late November. Up here though, it’s far enough up north that the foliage is beautiful with vibrant red, orange and yellows in the leaves and you can actually smell autumn in the air.  That mix of dying and fallen leaves, the crispness to the 60 degree weather, and somewhere off in the distance a fire.  This is my first fall experiencing this and I feel like I’m in a movie, like those final moments in Big with all the autumn colors lining the streets and all the neighbors out raking the leaves into piles that kids are playing in.  It’s pretty awesome.

I’ve finally stocked up on candy for the trick or treaters, and the girlfriend and I have broken out our collection of Halloween TV show episodes, specials and movies.  I think I might even break out my copy of E.T. just to watch through the Halloween scenes of the film because today’s vintage sticker sheet is all about E.T. and the holiday…

E.T. Hallmark Halloween Stickers 1982

Released by Hallmark back in 1982, these stickers played up the Halloween-y aspect of the film without really touching on any of the imagery that’s in the movie.  We get one sticker with E.T. dressed as a ghost, but none of the kids, or even a silhouette of the group out and about which is a pretty iconic image from the film.  It’s a little weird, but still a very welcome addition to the season sticker collection.

Well, come back by tomorrow as I ratchet up the countdown and start sharing twice the amount of stickers during this last stretch to Halloween night!

2dmgklx.jpg

Peel Here & Scream, Day 25!

Peel_Here_ScreamAlright folks, this may be the last Sunday of the 2015 Countdown to Halloween, but there’s still a lot of fun left to share, so let’s dive right in with this trio of Ghostly sticker sheets!

This first sheet of spooks hails from 1987 and was released by Hallmark.  This sheet is a little weird because at first it appears that most of the illustrations are the exact same, but if you look closely there are subtle differences in each…

1987 Hallmark Halloween stickers 1

This second sheet is a sister release to the above sheet and features the same style of ghosts, though with a bit more panache!

1987 Hallmark Halloween stickers 2

Last up today is a sheet of specters released buy Amscan back in 1985.

$_5vwwv

Swing back by tomorrow as we start the final march to October 31 with 6 more days of Halloween sticker fun!

2r3i810.jpg