Tag Archives: 1980s

I measure my years in Coreys…

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Corey Feldman and I both share an interesting trait in common, we both use his filmography as a means of charting the timeline of our lives (well to a point, for, um, both of us.) Seriously, when St. Martin’s press kindly offered a review copy of Feldman’s newly published memoir, Coreyography, I figured why not, I knew I loved a bunch of his movies and was curious to read how he reflected on his life to this point. But in the preface, when he writes, “I’ve always marked the chronology of my life not by the year, but by the film…”, it really struck a chord with me. Looking back I’ve personally done the same thing, using movies to mark the years, but when I consider my childhood and adolescence, Corey Feldman stands out in so many of my favorite films. Gremlins, Goonies, Friday the 13th 4&5, Stand By Me, The Lost Boys, License to Drive, The ‘Burbs, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and yes, even if not especially Rock and Roll High School Forever. These are all films I’ve watched a million times, and all of them very clearly chart my time growing up in the 80s and 90s. I was also an avid fan of the Bad News Bears sitcom when it aired in repeats on Nickelodeon, and watched my fair share of Madame as well.

Corey

When I found my copy of the book on my porch this past Thursday I was excited, but also not really sure what I was getting myself into. Sure, I love most of Feldman’s 80s era films, but I’ll be honest I’m not a devotee of his personal life. In fact I’ve sort of purposely tried to ignore the press on him dating all the way back to when my mom would clip out the articles on him and lifelong friend Corey Haim from her copies of People magazine. She thought I’d find them cool, but I really didn’t want to know about his drug busts or legendary hotel-trashing parties. So I was in the dark for the majority of his big sound bites over the past decade or so, whether it be his comments on Michael Jackson, his declaration of war on Hollywood pedophilia, or even his reunion with Haim on The Two Coreys and the bombshells about molestation and rape. Blissfully ignorant. So when I cracked the cover and dug into the preface(filling myself in on all of the personal Corey stuff I managed to miss over the years), I again asked myself, what was I getting into?

Corey 1

First and foremost, the memoir is a very quick read, light and breezy with a conversational tone that belies the fact that Feldman wrote it himself (I mean seriously, so many memoirs are ghost or “co-“ written.) It also skirts dramatic license when considering the prose. I’ve read a handful of memoirs and am consistently bugged by the way the authors chose to fill their recollections with an absurd amount of detail and massive amounts of quoted conversation. As much as I’d love to trust their writing, I spend a lot of time thinking and writing about the past and know that when you get right down to it, very few of us have the ability to remember in exacting details the events of our lives. Feldman doesn’t fall trap to this and stays true to the snippets of memory, which is both refreshing and honest.

Circling back to the “light and breezy”, well, that’s just as much of a positive as it is a negative. When you get to the content, the book reads like a Cliff’s notes edition. He scurries from topic to topic, only barely touching on any one movie or experience for a moment before flitting onto the next. For anyone who is a fan of his movies, don’t hold your breath for much in the way of behind the scenes tidbits. He devotes a decent amount of time to the filming of the Goonies, but honestly, most of that time is spent describing himself lusting after the opportunity to meet his childhood hero Michael Jackson on set. Similarly, for those hoping for a lot of behind the scenes stories with his best friend Corey Haim, well, there honestly isn’t much of that either. When it comes to Haim, Feldman spends a lot of time dancing around the rape Haim suffered on the set of Lucas, and the rest painting a portrait of a friend who seemed to annoy way, way more than ever endear. In fact, Feldman seems to be distancing himself from Haim with this memoir, down playing their friendship.

Corey 2

For those looking for the gritty details of Feldman’s days spent snorting or injecting every drug within reach or details into his sexual escapades either consensual or non, it’s all there, but written in such a flippant tone that it all ends up seeming so very inconsequential. It certainly isn’t a tell-all, as he (probably) wisely chose not to name, accuse or implicate anyone in his own or Corey Haim’s experiences with molestation and rape, though he does spend a lengthy portion of the book addressing the abuse he suffered at the hands of his mother. Speaking of tone, I was also surprised how easily Feldman relates the stories of his life as if he were speaking about them as they happened. He doesn’t really look back and dig into his life, examining and offering up a perspective more wise with distance and age. He tone is in the moment, as defiant as when he was on the set of The ‘Burbs and was approached by Joe Dante and Carrie Fisher about his drug usage, or as childlike and naive when consistently pestering Stephen Spielberg for a meet and greet with Michael Jackson on the set of the Goonies. Again, this is both boon and bane, equally putting the reader in the moment, but also lacking much in the way of depth.

It’s not to say that there’s nothing to the book, or that it wasn’t and interesting and entertaining read, it’s just, well, light. There is enough here fans of his films will sure to gleam a fun detail or two about some of their favorite films, but don’t expect anything groundbreaking. All in all, the book feels like a really good outline for a much longer, more detailed look at Feldman’s life. Who knows, maybe in another ten or fifteen years he’ll use Coreyography as a guide to sit down and write it.

Coreyography hits book stores on October 29th!

So, I don’t go to yard sales but…

this week’s League topic is all about that one great yard sale or flea market find.  Though I do enjoy perusing the aisles of antique stores and the occasional flea market, it’s super rare that I ever find anything I really want to plunk some hard earned money down on the counter to own, let alone something I’ve been actively searching for.  Maybe my focus is too narrow (I want some pretty damn specific stuff) or my cheapness keeps the purchasing in check (I’m super unwilling to buy that specific stuff if it means spending more than $10-20 bucks!)  Either way, I don’t really have a great “wow, lookit that, how much, screw it I’ll pay it…” kind of story.  Yes, I loved finding a bootleg double-logo Spiderman.  Sure, it was rad finding an in-box Robo Force Enemy toy and a carded Starriors Hot Shot.  And yes, it was pretty damn cool to spot this bottle of G.I. Joe Bazooka shampoo/bubble bath while hanging out with the amazing Jaime Hood the first time we met in person (though I didn’t pull the trigger on buying the little guy.)

bazooka clean

No, the only item that I have in my collection that gives me that “holy crap I can’t believe I found this” feeling has to be my almost complete set of 1st series Garbage Pail Kids.  I didn’t buy them; they were given to me by a super awesome co-worker out of the blue who didn’t know or really care what they had (not that they’re even worth much in their condition), but all the same it evokes that feeling.  That one big score, that awesome relic I’d been looking for for almost 30 years, the Holy “Crap I Found This” Grail.  I wrote about this incident shortly after it happened back in June of 2010, and honestly, I’m still pretty proud of what I wrote.  So I’m going to lay it our for you again because it’s still my favorite “I found that” moment (collecting junk-wise that is…)

“I’ve talked a lot about collecting here at Branded, and on a few occasions I’ve discussed how the hobby leads to certain unobtainable “holy grail” items. The hobby is, by nature, goal driven; when you find one thing, one object that you desired and enjoyed, as a collector you’ll inevitably seek out another item linked to the first and so on. It’s these goals that keep you going, looking for the next piece to acquire, and the beauty of most collections is that there is usually one item that is really hard to obtain. Personally, though it’s frustrating during the hunt, this unobtainability is what keeps the fire stoked; it’s what keeps it interesting.

dirty gpk

Though I’d consider myself a collector, I’ve always been hampered by my own frugality. As much as I’ve wanted certain expensive things over the years I’ve found that I have a hard time paying much more than bargain prices. If I can’t find it cheap, then it can wait. So even though some of my “holy grail” items are available, it’s unlikely that I’ll ever add ‘em to the collection based on crazy high collector’s prices. I’d resigned myself to the fact that no matter how much I wanted a set of 1st series Garbage Pail Kids stickers, it just wasn’t going to happen. The set runs upwards of $300 on eBay, which is roughly $280 more than I’d ever be willing to pay for 82 sticker cards. But the hunt kept me searching. About seven months ago I stumbled across a single 1st series card, 36a Wrapin’ Ruth, in a comic shop. I was so stoked because I’d never seen one up close, and it was only a buck. I snatched it up and put it proudly at the beginning of my collection, just waiting for the other 81 stickers to eventually join it. I wasn’t holding my breath.

Then, just a couple weeks ago, a co-worker came in with a big bag of miscellaneous Garbage Pail Kids cards. Her son had just gotten into the newer series and one of her friends had given her a bunch of their old stickers to pass on to him. Since they were older and because she knew that I collected them myself, she gave me first crack at them considering that her son would be more interested in using them as stickers than collecting them. This has happened before, people have given me a stack of cards to rifle through, either to help them find anything “worth some money” or to add to my collection. Typically there isn’t anything of value, and usually the cards are in pretty bad shape. This stack was no different as you can see in the 1st picture above…

Some of the cards looked like they’d been dipped in beef stew, while others suffered from the normal issues; checklists had been ticked off and there was a fair share of cards that were either written on or were missing borders. But as I started sorting the stickers into piles (beef stew, border-less, doubles of stuff I already had), I found a pocket of cards that were stuck together. As I carefully pried them apart I realized that they were 1st series cards, and they were in pretty good condition. Well, they were actually pretty bad in that they all had a thick line of residual tape glue on the backs where they’d been taped into a picture album, but none of them looked like they’d been dipped in stew.

I decided to take my lunch so that I could concentrate on the stickers, and a half an hour later I was staring at a sight that I honestly never expected to see, a near complete set of 1st series Garbage Pail Kids stickers! I kept muttering, “Holy crap…” under my breath as I was sorting and I found more and more of the set.

All told, the set was only 14 stickers short (including my Wrappin’ Ruth), and whoever had collected these as a kid had managed to at least get at least one of each of the A&B stickers except for one set. So even though the set isn’t complete, all but one of the John Pound paintings are accounted for, as well as most of the Tom Bunk illustrated certificate backings.

After spending a good four hours rubbing off the residual tape glue, and putting them into card pages that evening I was finally looking at something I never thought I’d have. Granted, the cards aren’t in the best condition, but who cares!

Not to look a gift-horse in the mouth, but I was a little bummed that there wasn’t a Potty Scotty sticker. Growing up, though I never managed to see any of these stickers firsthand, I was aware of a handful of the cards based on other GPK merchandising. In my eyes there were six main cards that sort of defined the series and Garbage Pail Kids as a whole, Adam Bomb, Dead Ted, Nasty Nick, Bony Joanie, Brainy Janie, and Potty Scotty. In fact, any GPK that featured a toilet was sort of like the equivalent to Boba Fett or Wedge Antilles in the Star Wars Universe. I’m glad I snagged a Jason Basin though…

This is kind of a silly thing to admit, but for years I used to have this reoccurring dream where I was in an orchard of trees that had GPKs instead of leaves. It was perpetually Fall and the stickers where falling to the ground in big heaps and I’d spend the whole dream raking up the cards and sorting them by series. I’d always get so depressed after waking up and realizing that the big pile of 1st series GPKs weren’t real. The past two weeks have felt like that dream. I guess in some way, as glad as I am to have finally scored these stickers, it’s sort of anticlimactic in a way. The hunt is mostly over. Sure, I can pick up the missing 14 stickers over time (if I can find the damn things cheap enough), but I almost don’t want to.

I did decide to go ahead and order one sticker, 35b Rockin’ Robert. Seemed like a shame to be missing the one John Pound painting. I think I’m going to have to consider Potty Scotty as the new holy grail for my GPK collection…”

As a post script to this story, over the past three years I’ve manged to plug a few of those missing card holes in the set.  Of the original 13 missing cards I actually found 9 of them during an antique market trip.  I’m still missing 4 cards (12b, 25a, 27b, and the all important 14a, Potty Scotty.)  I’m not trying too hard to get them, keeping the hunt alive and all, and as much as I would absolutely love to have him, I’ve seriously considered specifically not getting the Potty Scotty card.  I have one of the over-sized ones framed at Branded HQ, and I can always look at his twin, Jason Basin, and well, pretend.  That way I’ll always have my GPK holy “crap I don’t have that” grail.

So, if you enjoyed reading this tale of the ultimate rad vintage score, why not check out some of the other League members to see what they found on their hunts…

Jaime, Shezcrafti, doesn’t do yard sales either, but if she did she’s be on the hunt for some electronic radness

Eric, Toyriffic, shares his epic Masters of the Universe haul

Patrick, Nerd Out with Me, found an amazing Sith Lord that can hold up his pants

James, James Abels dot net, uncovered some rad top secret NES passwords

Grey, Achievements in Gaming, found an amazing deal on the rare Dark Tower game, he then in a very classy move, gave to a friend

 

False Nostalgia…

Nostalgia and memories are the closest thing to a time machine that we have, that we’ll ever have.  The power that images of old toy and food packaging can have over an individual is astounding, transporting them instantly to a day when they were a child in a store, staring up at a coveted item or watching as their parent handed over that week’s groceries to a cashier to be rung up.  Holding an Atari joystick will remind you what that orange shag carpeting felt like between your toes when you were trying desperately to figure out how to find all the pieces of E.T.’s makeshift radio transmitter.  For me, just the sight of a Little Orphan Orange Otter Pop instantly makes me remember sitting on one of those ground mounted transformer units, those big green metal power boxes that pepper the landscape of most suburbs.  I can feel the thing burning my butt and thighs through my long surf shorts as I sucked on that pop and chatted about skateboarding with a friend.  It’s an intense feeling, like a drug sometimes.  There have been moments where I stumble across something that I completely forgot about and literally doubled over as if I were punched in the gut.  The disbelief that I had forgotten, or more accurately neglected some cherished thing and memory is such a strong and weird feeling.  Running a site like Branded, well I’ve made a hobby out of recalling those memories and doing my best to inspire them in others.

So it was weird this past week when I found an advertisement in an old issue of People magazine that both punched me in and gut with remembering, but also made me realize that I’ve had nostalgic feelings for something I actually never had or experienced.  How many folks out there associate the 80s with wearing Lacoste kid’s polo shirts?  I know I did.  I could care less about clothes brands at the time, and I didn’t even know the Lacoste or Izod names, but I thought it was pretty darn cool that a bunch of my shirts had little alligator patches on them!  Part of this was growing up in Florida and seeing gator imagery everywhere, so it was also pretty cool to see those little patches on shirts.  It played into this sense that I had at the time that Florida was the center of the country, the center of cool (later on, when I moved up north for awhile, I was astounded when most of the kids didn’t even know what surfing was!)  I mean, even if you never had one, who doesn’t remember this little guy?

Lacoste

It’s not like I only wore Lacoste shirts, or I have an intense nostalgic love for the rad little gator patch, but it is an aspect of my childhood that I remembered fondly.  Well, at least I thought I did until I saw the following 1981 Sears advertisement that jogged my memory enough to make me realize I never had any little gator patch shirts!

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As I flipped to this page in that old People magazine my jaw dropped at the sight of that little Dragon patch.  Braggin’ Dragon branded polos.  It was the fire coming out of its mouth, that little burst of flame that I remembered on my own shirts as a kid.  I instantly was transported back to a time as a kid when I thought my shirt was cooler than a friends because mine had a reptile that could BREATH FREAKING FIRE.  Top that.  So stumbling on this ad was sort of bittersweet with the reconnection to something I had as a kid and the realization that for the past 15 years I’ve been fondly remembering the Lacoste gator for no good reason.  Misplaced, misremembered nostalgia.  False.  It’s a lesson about how easy one can jumble memories, how idealized thoughts of the past can become.  It’s also another shining example of why I love ephemera so much.  These old mom magazines full of old advertisements and photoshoots are a version of the truth that’s set in stone.  They’re a Rosetta Stone that can unlock the past in ways that our own minds alone are often times incapable of processing.

Braggin Dragon Logo

Now, do I get this little guy tattooed above my heart on my chest? ;)

Taking a Closer Look at an Awesome Bedroom, part 2: The Monster Squad Edition!

I had a crap ton of fun examining Sara’s room from Adventures in Babysitting a couple weeks ago, so I figured I’d take a second to take a closer look at another pop culture bedroom.  This time I decided to scope out Eugene’s room in one of my favorite flicks, 1987′s The Monster Squad!

monster squad poster

There really only one scene with the bedroom in the flick, the iconic beat where Eugene, scared out of his wits, begs his dad to come and get the monster out of his closet.  But in that minute or two of footage there are a ton of cool things in the background.  But let’s start with Eugene himself as he’s wearing some pretty darn bitchin’ PJ’s…

Monster Squad 1

1). Robotech Odyssey Pajamas

That’s right, Eugene is a fan of the 80s Carl Macek re-edit of the Macross Space (Soap) Opera.  Front and center on that rad nightshirt is none other than Rick Hunter, Roy Folker, and Captain Gloval.  But that’s not all the giant mech goodness in this room as we’ll see in a later screenshot.  So let’s take a closer look at Eugene’s room shall we…

Monster Squad 2 small

2). The Punisher Poster

3). Garbage Pail Kids Stickers

4). Godzilla Toy

5). My Pet Monster

6). Wolverine Poster

So, I think it can be firmly established that the set designer decided that Eugene was into comics, in particular some of the more violent vigilantes in the Marvel Universe!  There are also some GPK  stickers on the wall, though it’s kind of hard to make out which ones.  There are more GPK stickers on his closet door that I’ll run down in a bit.  Like Sara in Adventures in Babysitting, Eugene was a proud owner of a My Pet Monster too.  Let’s take a clearer peep at those Marvel posters…

Posters

It kind of cool to realize that Eugene was into the same characters that I was growing up, and I’m totally jealous of that Rick Leonardi Wolverine poster!  Anyway, what else is in his room?

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7). Dreadstar Poster

8). Comico Comics posters (Jonny Quest on top and a jam poster featuring Mage, Grendel, Jonny Quest and Robotech among other characters…)

9). Mickey & Minnie Mouse lamp

Continuing the comic book theme we can get a glimpse of some Comico branded posters on Eugene’s wall.  Not only was he reading Wolverine and the Punisher, but also potentially Matt Wagner’s Mage and Grendel as well!  Seriously it’s like that set designer was pulling inspiration from my very mind!  There are a couple of other posters in the room that I couldn’t peg (one to the left of and one below the Wolverine poster in the second screenshot), as well as a toy helicopter on his bureau underneath the Punisher poster.  Anyone out there have any guesses?  Here’s a better look at that Comico mash-up poster…

Comico

Okay, last but certainly not least, a better look at some of the Garbage Pail Kids on Eugene’s closet door…

Monster Squad 4

10). More GPKs.  Specifically Roy Bot, Apple Corey, Stoned Sean, and Warmin Norman from the 3rd series, Basket Casey, Larry Lips and Dana Druff from the 4th series.  The rest I can’t get a good enough look at…

So, anything I missed?

Other Awesome Bedrooms I’ve covered…

Sara’s Room from Adventures in Babysitting

Mikey’s room from the Goonies

David’s room from Flight of the Navigator

Robbie’s room from Poltergeist

Ben’s room from The Explorers

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

Elliot’s room from E.T.

Fred Savage’s room from The Princess Bride

Josh’s room from Big

No Seriously, I Guess I like Talking… ;)

All of a sudden one stops and takes stock of the past few weeks and it’s impossible to ignore the fact that you’ve been hosting or guest hosting on a ton of podcasts.  This happens to everyone right?  Seriously, I think I’ve been making up for my recent internet sabbatical in the form of podcasting.  It’s immediate, the editing is minimal (as if I edit my writing, pshaw), and the conversations tend to be a lot more fun than just banging away at my keyboard.  I’m not really comparing the two for any other reason than trying to rationalize how in the past two week’s I’ve had six podcast announcements!  Seriously, I guess I like talking…

Cult Film Club

So, what are the other three shows I’ve been involved with recently you might be asking yourself?  Well, first off, there’s a brand new episode of the Cult Film Club, the show I do with some criminally awesome co-hosts, Paxton Holley and Jaime Hood.  This should be of interest to folks who enjoy this site as the movie we chose for discussion is none other than the batshit insane Karate Kid III!

Martin-Kove-Lives

For real, this flick is crazy, and as my co-hosts point out, Karate Kid III is basically a parody of the first KK film.  John Kreese, down on his luck after all of the Cobra Kai students have abandoned him in the wake of some crazy car-window punching and nose honking, seeks revenge against Daniel and Miyagi by hooking up with his secret CK grand master and old war buddy Terry Silver.  They lure Daniel to the dark side of the, um, karate, and well, you have to watch this film to believe that it was actually made.  We chat about the film, the actors, some dream re-writes, and how we all secretly wish we were Terry Silver.  You can listen to the episode and join the Cult Film Club here!

Next up is the long awaited release of the new episode of the Saturday Supercast!

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This time I check back in with hosts Jerzy Drozd and Dave Roman to discuss one of my all-time favorite flicks, 1986′s Transformers the Movie.  We’re joined by the super cool Matt Hawkins to discuss the film, the soundtrack, the casting, and we all provide some interesting arguments for how the Decepticons managed to hand the Autobots their buts so easily at the start of the flick!  We all had way too much for with the conversation and it ended up a long show.  So Jerzy and Dave broke it in half.  Check out Part 1 over at Sugary Serials!

Last but not least, I was kindly asked to be a guest on the latest Retro Retro Retro Podcast by the really awesome and swell guy Raven J!

retro retro retro

The discussion is all about magazine memories, NES and Gensis video game reviews, as well as some movie reviews.  I sat in on the discussion of magazines with Raven and his crew and had a blast.  Check out their site, and you can find the episode here!

Taking a Closer Look at an Awesome Bedroom!

I was recently inspired by Tim over at Flashlights Are Something to Eat and Johnny at Freddy in Space to finally get off my butt and write about a topic I’ve been meaning to get to for what seems like forever, namely, taking an awesome 80s film and finding cool stuff in the background that makes said film even more awesome.  Specifically I wanted to take a closer look at some of the kid’s bedrooms that I kind of obsess over.  Not sure if I’m going to make this a reoccurring column just yet, but either way I wanted to focus on just one room today.  Probably my favorite kid’s bedroom in an 80s flick, let’s take a closer look at Sara’s room  from 1987′s Adventures in Babysitting!

Adventures in Babysitting

So, Matt at Dinosaur Dracula recently wrote about this room, mainly to point out the inclusion of a certain plush toy that I’ll get to in a minute, and pretty much anyone who has seen this flick knows that Sara is mildly obsessed with a nordic Marvel character that goes by the name Thor (ever heard of him?), but there is a metric ton of other cool stuff in this room…

AIB 1 Small

So, let’s take a look at what I was able to spy in the room.  In the screen shot above we of course have a ton of Thor references (which I haven’t numbers because that was just going to get out of hand) including the large cut-out standee on the wall to the right, the wicked awesome Thor bedspread, the Thor Halloween mask hanging from the right bedpost, and the super cool drawing of Thor on the rainbow bridge to the upper left of the bed.  So, what else is hiding in this image…

1). A Wrinkles Puppy puppet plush made by Ganz in the early 80s.

2). A Geoffrey the Giraffe Toys ‘R Us plush

3). A Cabbage Patch Kids plush.

4). Transformers Walkie Talkie (the 2nd handset in in another shot)

5). Giant Donald Duck coloring book.

Here’s a closer look at that Transformers Walkie Talkie and the Wrinkles plush…

Wrinkles Transformers

There’s some sort of big action figure behind the walkie talkie that I can’t place (purple, yellow and red with a silver head), any guesses?

*UPDATE #1* You guys are quick!  Huge thanks go out to Jaime of Shezcrafti.com and Matt of Geektarded for solving a couple of the toy mysteries!  As Ms. Hood points out in the comments, the large plush on the bed is none other than one of the Pillow People, in particular Punky Pillow!

pillow people

Dr. Geektarded identified the toy behind the Transformers Walkie Talkie as an Inter-Changeables Cosmobot, a re-colored Micronauts Biotron figure.

Inter-Changeables Cosmobot

Photo from Microforever.com

This sequence moves pretty fast as the camera pans across the room, so most of these shots are kind of blurry, but let’s take a look at another shot a few frames past the first…

AIB 2 Small

The Thor reference count now jumps from 4 to 7 as there are two more drawings on the art desk and a third on the floor next to the dresser.  But what else is there to spy in the room?

6). AMToy Super Pickle Hot Dog Plush hanging from the ceiling…

7). A Rainbow Brite plush, the Sprite known as Sparks (and this is the second series Hatful Sparks – ’cause he has an Indian headdress…)

8). A super rad poster of Jelly Beans that I felt I had to point to…

*UPDATE #2* I don’t know where that Hot Dog is from (Thanks to Jack Frost for solving the Hot Dog mystery!), but I managed to find a clearer picture, as well as a better one of Sparks…

Spark Hot Dog

Moving right along, here’s out next screen shot…

AIB 3 Small

Okay, I’m officially going to give up counting Thor references because there are like a billion on the floor by Sara.  I will say that it’s rad how often she can be seen sporting the Thor helmet.  More importantly, this shot has two more awesome background elements…

9). A Lots-a-Lots-a-Legggggs plush toy.

10). Probably my favorite background spotting, a 1985 Transformers Soundwave Cassette Player by Durham Industries that actually plays full size tapes (many thanks go to Steve at the Roboplastic Apocalypse for helping me identify this rad piece)!  I had never heard of this tape player existing before I spotted the over-sized Soundwave in the background.  So cool!

Soundwave Leggggs

AIB 4 Small

There was one straggler that I couldn’t get into the same screen shot with the last two, another favorite spotting in this room…

11). A Darth Vader “The Force” Light Saber from 1983!  I had Luke’s green one form Return of the Jedi.  For those that don’t remember, these had hollow plastic blades that were designed to catch the air to make some pretty wicker saber noises.  Reis at the Dork Horde has a great write up about his Vader Saber

AIB 5 Small

Next up we have three more Thor sitings with another large standee, the light switch cover above it (not on the actual light switch as it’s one of those weird paddle switches) an another drawing above that.  And on the shelf to the right…

12). Transformers Dinobots Snarl wall clock from Concept Clocks (which happens to have a reversible image plate with the Insecticon Bombshell on the other side!)  It’s so damn rad that Sara is also a major Transformers fan…

AIB 6 Small

In the above shot you can get a better look at that Thor drawing on the wall (and there’s another off to the right.)  But let’s take a look at the bookshelves shall we…

13). A Disney Fluppy Puppy plush.

14). A 2nd set of Transformers Walkie Talkies, this one shaped like Optimus Prime

*UPDATE #3* I have no idea what that red plush is next to the Transformers clock.  It looks like it has a ton of sharp teeth though. *Thanks to Newton G. of Infinite Hollywood for identifying the red toothy plush as LB the Bounder from Teddy Ruxpin!

Optimus Fluppy

LB the Bounder Teddy Ruxpin

And for the last screenshot, a much more recognizable background item…

AIB 7 Small

15). A My Pet Monster plush.  Always wanted one.  Never got one.

So there you have it.  Sara from Adventures in Babysitting has a pretty darn awesome bedroom filled with all kinds of rad toys,  a lot of which I wished I had as a kid.  Did you spot anything that I missed?

*UPDATE #4Can anyone identify the grey and red robot by Sara’s feet?  Thanks to Tintod at the wicked awesome Junk Fed for identifying the robot at Sara’s feet as none other than a Jim the Politician remote control robot!

Jim the Politician

Other Awesome Bedrooms I’ve covered…

Eugene’s Room from The Monster Squad

Mikey’s room from the Goonies

David’s room from Flight of the Navigator

Robbie’s room from Poltergeist

Ben’s room from The Explorers

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

Elliot’s room from E.T.

Fred Savage’s room from The Princess Bride

Josh’s room from Big

A Good Thing About Moving…

So I recently moved house, which is part of what’s been keeping me so silent on the internet these past few months, but in the process I found some treasures I didn’t even realize I had!  A little while after my sister passed away I took charge of all the family photos so that I could organize and scan them all so we’d have an easy to share set of digital snapshots.  My main focus was getting to all the pictures of my sister, but I kept a stack of photos of myself as a kid that I haven’t had a chance to look through until this past month.  One of the awesome side effects of a move (seriously, you have to try and look on the bright side right?) is that it forces you to take stock of everything you own.  It all has to be packed up, moved and unpacked, so you get a couple chances to find things that have been lost or discover things you never realized you had.

One of laments about my childhood is that by the time I came along my parents had lost a lot of the zest for taking pictures that they had with my sister.  So I don’t have any Halloween photos, or all that many Christmas morning shots.  Well, apparently my parents had been sitting on some pictures that are exactly the kind of things I’ve been dying to post on Branded but thought didn’t exist.  There weren’t a ton, but there were a few really cool snapshots, like this one of me and my friend Timmy playing with his Millennium Falcon sometime in 1982…

Shawn Star Wars small

Man, how I remember coveting that thing!  I had some really cool Star Wars junk as a kid (a couple of At-Ats, an X-Wing, Snow Speeder, and a Y-Wing), but isn’t it always the case that the stuff you didn’t have always seemed cooler than the stuff you did?  Well, at least I got a chance to play with it and wasn’t just drooling over the pages in the Sears or JC Penny Catalogs…

I’ve rigged all the cabinets so you won’t need tokens…

Getting back into the swing of things around here and as luck would have it this week’s League assignment is a real peach!  Submitted by Jason over at Rediscover the 80s (who just started a pretty rad podcast that I totally am way behind in pimping), the topic is all about building a dream arcade in our homes.  Though I’m not much of a gamer these days, I did spend a decent amount of time playing the stand-up cabinets at the local pizza joints, mall arcades, Showbiz and Chuck E. Cheese’s, and even in the converted utility closet of the 7-Eleven that was in my neighborhood growing up.  That being said, my dream arcade would probably fit in a utility closet now that I think about it…

So what would be in my dream arcade closet?  Only four cabinets.  Well, three cabinets and one cocktail table unit.  First up, the classic (at least for me), Galaga…

Galaga Small

This is my go-to game when I’m in the mood for a truly old school arcade experience.  It’s also the game I judge most pizza places on.  Sure, if a place makes a good NY style pizza, that’s good, but if there are arcade cabinets in the joint and Galaga is missing, so too will be my patronage.  For my money (and I will drop a considerable amount of coinage in a Galaga cabinet when I have a belly full of pizza) there no better combination than securing that double spaceship with the taste of sausage and onion in my mouth that was just recently washed down with coke sipped out of a clear red plastic cup.  Just a bit of heaven if you ask me.

Plucking some similar pizza place-centric nostalgia heart strings would be securing a Mrs. Pac-Man cocktail sit-down table.  Faux wood grain trim would be essential too…

Mrs Pacman Cocktail

Can’t count the number of times I played a unit that looked just like this while waiting for my personal pan pizza at my local Orlando area Pizza Hut as a kid.  Did I mention that the personal pan pizza in question would have invariable been free based on my appetite for reading and the Pizza Hut Book It program…

Now the next cabinet is not an arcade game in the strictest sense, but it did provide an arcade experience, and that’s the Nintendo PlayChoice-10…

PlayChoice-10

This unit was basically a way for Nintendo to “advertise” for the NES system by housing it and 10 games into one arcade cabinet.  We had one in my local 7-Eleven when I was growing up and it’s where I spent a good deal of time playing games like Ducktales, Goonies II, and more importantly Lifeforce.  I also learned a neat trick where if you could pull both of the joysticks to the right and mash down all the buttons you’d get free timed play on a handful of the games in the cabinet.  I used this method to play a shitton of Lifeforce before breaking down and begging my mom for an at-home copy of the game.  In other words, mission accomplished Nintendo.

Rounding out my dream arcade would be my favorite arcade game ever, a 6-player X-Men game cabinet…

X-Men Small

Not only was this game based on Pryde of the X-Men, my favorite X-Men cartoon of all time (the one-shot failed pilot produced by the wonderful folks over at Sunbow), but it features one of my favorite X-Men characters, the much underrated Dazzler.  My four friends during middle and high school were all X-Men nerds like me, so between the five of us we used to rock the crap out of this game at our local arcade/go cart track called Malibu Grand Prix.  All of us would beg our parents to go there for birthdays just so that we could spend a couple hours plunking quarters into the above machine.  I’m pretty sure we even came close to beating it one or two times.  Hands down some of my favorite arcade experiences surrounded time at the joystick playing either Wolverine or Dazzler.

About 10 years ago I ran across a very reasonably priced 6-Player X-Men cabinet, but was plagued with the ultimate nerd conundrum of how to justify a car payment on something so big and loud that would be next to impossible to move without a professional team and a forklift.  In the end I passed, but there has always been a part of me that regretted it…

So there you have it.  The Branded in the 80s Arcade.  Small, sure.  But for me, arcade heaven.  Pass me a slice of sausage and onion, and don’t worry, I’ve rigged all the cabinets so you don’t need tokens!

If you liked my shenanigans this week, why not check out these other rad League participants…

Pax, Cavalcade of Awesome (and my rad Cult Film Club co-host), lists his top 10 arcade games!

Classick Material, Cold Slither Podcast, goes the extra step and makes a fantasy show about his favorites!

Rich, The Nerd Nook, Moonwalks over to the 7-Eleven to play some Street Fighter II!

Kal, Calvin’s Canadian Cave of Cool, has a bone to pick with Dragon’s Lair!

Collecting Deconstructed

I made an admission recently about how small my actual personal vintage 80s collection is, and I wanted to expand upon that a bit.  Though it mostly pertained to my collection of things that I actually had from when I was a kid to now, surviving personal pop culture relics, I think sometimes I might give off the wrong impression as to how large my actual vintage collection of stuff really is.  By that I mean it’s kind of small, at least in terms of what I think someone who runs an 80s nostalgia site might, and probably usually owns.  Sure, I’ll be the first to admit that I have a ridiculously large collection of animation cels, specifically monsters, spooks and creeps from the Real Ghostbusters cartoon, and I still have a pretty big collection of sticker cards (Topps, Fleer, Donruss, etc), stuff that I’ve featured in the Peel Here column over the years, but outside of that so much of the stuff I’ve amassed over the last couple decades spent pining after my youth has been more modern tchotchkes.  Take my collection of G.I. Joe 2th anniversary figures.  I have around 50 of those adoring the walls of Branded HQ alongside some vintage style Star Wars figures (emphasis on “style”.)  I have a bunch of mini movie posters printed at the local Kinko’s self-serve copier when the attendants weren’t looking, as well as a scary amount of 80s cartoons on DVD.  But a lot of this stuff is more representational of my nostalgia and not directly linked to it.

Again, there are other things that I have that are more personal, my framed 1977 Halloween Horrors LP, or my sister’s collection of 80s era LPs, but these things by no means make up the bulk of my collection.  So, why am I bringing this up?  Well, I’ve been thinking a lot of what collections and collecting means to me over the last year and I’ve come to the conclusion that the desire to be a completist, or to focus on only vintage items is, for me personally, a fruitless compulsion.  That’s not to say that I’m giving up on collecting, or that I’m only buying a bunch of modern junk, it’s more of a realization that so much of the joy is not in possessing these coveted items, it’s simply the actual desire to own them.  It’s the hunt, not the trophy.  The trophy, if not the specific, actual item I possessed as a kid, is merely a representation, no more real than a memory of that same item held as a child, or a picture scavenged off of Google image search (for me at least.)  So many of the things that I desire to have back, those specific relics from my childhood, are way beyond my ability to ever secure them.  They are gone.  In a landfill most likely. That’s why the Atari system my friend re-gifted to me recently is so sacred to me.

GPKs

Part of what drew me to this conclusion was another amazing acquisition I wrote about awhile back, the near complete set of vintage 1st series Garbage Pail Kids that I lucked into for free.  When sorting the cards that were given to me, and realizing that so many of them were 1st series my heart was a lump in my throat.  After I was done and I noticed that there were about 20 stickers missing, 2 of which were A&B sister cards (meaning there was one image missing from the set of John Pound paintings) I was sort of heart broken.  I’d been searching for an affordable set of 1st series GPKs all of my life and here was one given to me for free and it took me exactly 25 minutes to go from elated beyond belief to deflated and full of grief.  To my stupid credit, it only took me another half an hour to come to the realization that I was given two gifts that day.  One, the set of coveted sticker cards, and two, because it was an incomplete set, I was also re-gifted the hunt.  That desire to keep looking.  If that was totally stripped I fear that the urge to “collect” GPKs would diminish, and I’m not sure I’m ready to ever let go of that desire.

Boxsome pack

The other thing that really knocked home this idea of redefining what collecting means to me was when the absurdly cool Tommy Day of Top Hat Sasquatch decided to launch a new project recently called Boxsome.  In a nutshell, Boxsome is a site where you can purchase little packages of nostalgia in the form of 80s and 90s era trading card packs.  Each Nostalgia pack contains two wax packs of your choice from their inventory, and it comes shipped with a bunch of extra goodies including pogs, stickers, and little designer goodies that I believe will be rotating in and out.  At first blush one might think, what is the point?  Why would I want only two packs of Howard the Duck trading cards?  I can buy the whole set off of eBay for the same price!  But that’s just it, if I’m right, Boxsome isn’t about owning all the Howard the Duck cards (complete with a neatly folded wrapper and a set of the sticker card sub set.)  It’s about revisiting what it was like when you went to the store or gas station and you were only allowed to spend a dollar or two and you could only afford to pick up a few packs here and there.  How many kids ever completed their sets of Topps cards?  Sure, I know some of us did.  I mean I managed to complete the entire 700+ card run of the 1987 Topps Baseball card set.  But I also know that that experience is a lot rarer than we might think.  We might have a full run of a set or two, but most of us only had a handful of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Batman, or Dark Crystal cards.  And you know what?  Maybe that’s all we really need.  Just a handful of vintage cards to remind us how neat these sets were, reminding us how it felt to collect them as a kid, and keeping the “hunt” alive by only buying a pack here and there.

boxsome logo

Money buys a lot of things.  Hell, it can buy you all of the things.  But it doesn’t make one a collector, and the act of buying all there is to buy, that feeling of the purchase, will never feel as good as just the simple desire to own that stuff.  That desire, the hunt, that’s what’s worth preserving.  If you’ll excuse me I’m going to go stare at my collection of 19 Dark Crystal cards I’ve amassed.  And I’m going to dream about one day owning the rest…

For those interested, Tommy was kind enough to offer Branded readers a special offer of 20% off your purchase until April 16th! Just go to Boxsome and use coupon code “BRANDED”. Tell him I sent ya!

Being Re-Gifted My childhood, Part 1

I’ll be honest, for a guy who runs a site dedicated to his love of the 80s even I will admit that it’s weird how much of a void there is of personal vintage junk in my collection.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve acquired a bunch of stuff over the years that I cherish, but when I look over everything that I have, very little of it is stuff that survived with me through the decades.  Whether it was from my own collection purging, trading, damage, or stuff “lost” in moves (my parent’s favorite excuse for chucking my toys over the years), I only have a handful of things that have been with me forever.  There are a few kid’s paperbacks (Samantha Slade: Monster Sitter, the Lost boys novelization, and a copy of Which Way Batman), some of my sisters records, my Wicket plush, and this 5″ by 5″ square of what’s left of my original woobie…

I have a lot more of my stuff from my high school years, but I do regret not keeping a tighter grip on the stuff I had when I was a little kid.  Well, this past week I was given a couple of rare gifts by a friend (we’ll call him D) who I’ve known since I we were in the 8th grade together.  Over the years we’ve seen less and less of each other even though we only live about 15 miles apart.  You know, life gets in the way and junk.  D is about to have his second child, little D numero 2, and if I had to guess he is looking to clear out as much space as he can find to make room for the new arrival.  Well, he sent me a facebook message asking me if I wanted to take something off his hands.  That something just happened to be an Atari 2600 video game console and a bucket full of games and peripherals that have been gathering dust in his garage.  The thing is, and he knew this obviously, this particular Atari system (and 8 of those games) used to be mine before I gave them to him back in middle school.

I was never an avid gamer by any stretch of the imagination, but there were two game systems that I played a whole hell of a lot, the NES for the most part, but I, like so many other folks growing up in the 70s and 80s, was weaned on the Atari 2600.  I first bought the exact system, controller and the 8 games you see pictured with it below at a garage sale when I was six.  It was 1983, and we’d just moved to Orlando from Tampa.  I didn’t really have any friends yet, and it was kind of boring and lonely in the new house.  Heck, our cat Smokey who had just made the trip with us immediately ran away, so I was sort of in a funk.  One Saturday I ventured out into the neighborhood though, and there was a guy down the street trying to sell the last bits of stuff at a garage sale.  There was a table with the Atari inside a faux-wood paneled Game Center box.  I’d had plenty of experience with the system playing one that was hooked up to a TV in the rec room of a public pool back in Tampa, and for some reason I never imagined having my own at home.  I asked the guy how much it was and he thoughtfully scratched his chin and squinted at me (at least that’s how I “remember” his expression in my mind) before saying “Ten Bucks Kid.”  I asked him to hold it and I sprinted back home to beg for the money from my dad, who quickly relented.  I ran back, slapped the ten buck on the table (again, probably artistic license with my foggy memory) and stole home with the system held high above my head.

As I mentioned, the console had eight games included, Combat, Surround, Berserk, Space Invaders, Asteroids, Chopper Command, and the much maligned E.T. and Atari port of Pac-Man.  For some reason I never acquired any more games, and I was pretty content with these for the next three years until I scored my first Nintendo system.  Back in 1990-91 when I gave the Atari to D, I didn’t think much of it.  Heck, at that point I said had a fair number of my original childhood toys and never thought I’d miss the clunky wood-paneled beauty.  Fast forward 23 years and I can certainly attest to missing the ever-living hell out of it.  I mean, it’s not like I was lying awake at night wondering where it was, but from time to time when I’d see people blog or podcast about their vintage systems I would feel a little pain in my heart.  So when D asked if I wanted the system back after all these years I was pretty damn floored.  When I drove over to pick it up I did everything in my power not to point at it and say something stupid like, “There, there it is, that thing, those beautiful things that I used to have in my house back in Florida, look at it, it’s right there, that thing that I had when I was six!”  Those where statements that I made in the car on the way home though, just saying.

As soon as I got home, I immediately cleaned off a table, took out the system and very gingerly cleaned her up.  There was a massive amount of dirt and grime on it, but with a little warm water and a crap ton of paper towels I was able to get it looking almost like new.  To be honest, I have no idea if the system will even run anymore, and even if it will, if I’ll be able to hook it up to my TV (the vintage R/F switch is looking pretty rough.)  But really, this system isn’t so much about playing it as it is about just having it again, a little reminder of what it was like to be six with my very own copy of Pac-Man, even if it was a super shitty version of the game.  I remember playing Chopper Command, and having to flip a switch on the back of the actual console to change the rate at which my helicopter fired (short bursts or those long laser blasts.)  There was so much joyous frustration trying not to touch the walls in Berserk.  And to this day I still have no idea how the hell you get all the pieces to make the damn phone rig in E.T.

If I ever do get it running there was an included extra surprise of about 50 extra games that D had amassed over the years.  Here’s a few snapshots of what I would call the cream of the crop…

  

 

I can’t thank D enough, and to my amazement, there was another amazing piece of my childhood that came along with the Atari that I’ll be writing about in part two of this article later this week, or next.  Stay tuned.  And now if you’ll excuse me, I have to find a place of honor for the Atari in Branded HQ…