Tag Archives: 1980s

Feeling a little guilty that I’m not a Mom from the 80s…

This week’s topic from the League is all about opening up about our guilty pleasures.  This topic is insanely hard for me to tackle because I’m pretty open about all of the stupid or weird stuff I’m into, and I don’t feel particularly guilty about any of it.  After doing some soul searching I guess the thing that most qualifies as a guilty pleasure for me would be the enormous thrill I get when buying and cracking the cover on a vintage Mom magazine.  You know the ones, McCall’s, Woman’s Day, Working Woman, Woman’s Week, any of the tabloid supermarket checkout magazines aimed at the modern woman in the 80s.

Over the last 4 years I’ve culled a decent amount of content for this site from my rather large “archive” of these magazines.  Return of the Jedi jungle Gym ads?  Check.  Pudding Pop ads?  Check.  Sizzlean and Frank ‘n Stuffs ads?  Check, Check.  I’m not apologetic about this collection in the least, but even I have to admit that I get a little too excited when I scope an eBay listing for a large lot of these cheap.  There isn’t uncontrolled squealing mind you, but there is usually a contented sigh when the auction ends at a reasonable price.  Also, though the intent is to pick these up for use with Branded, I will admit that I scrapbook a ton of stuff from these magazines that’ll never make it to the site because I am well aware of the limits of what is considered interesting.  No one wants to see me write two thousand words about my nostalgia for the Fresh’n Up fragrance towers or how awesome the airbrushed artwork is on the Hanes Comfort Slacks advertisements.  No one.  Also, on a similar note, probably the thing I enjoy the most about going out of town on vacation is visiting the local grocery and super stores hunting from products that I don’t have in my neck of the woods.  There are probably thousands of picture files on my computer of cans of soda, store brand boxes of cereal, snack products, and candy.  I’m pretty sure I’m the antithesis of the “life of the party”…

Wanna know some other hidden secrets of teh League?  Head on over to these sites and read their diaries…

Goodwill Geek, Goodwill Hunting 4 Geeks, shares some dirty movie secrets

Tim, Flashlights are Something to Eat, shares some dirty Vanilla Ice secrets

Jaime, Shezcrafti, shares some dirty Ace of Base secrets

Brian, Cool & Collected, shares some dirty Survivor secrets

Dex, AEIOU and Sometimes Why, shares some dirty secrets about Britney Spears

Cody, Crooked Ninja Turtle Gang, shares some dirty typography secrets

If only there was a Crush-Station playset!

One of my fondest memories from childhood was all of the excitement and anticipation surrounding the Toys R Us 10-minute Shopping Sprees that would pop us as grand prizes on kid’s game shows and in magazines in the 80s.  The idea of getting free reign of a toy store with just my speed and ability to jam shopping carts full of G.I. Joe, Transformers, and board games was more than my little mind could handle at times.  I used to day dream about what it would be like to have some dude in a giant Geoffrey costume cheering me on in slow motion as I filled cart after cart with all the stuff I coveted as a kid.  Alas, I never got the opportunity.  The best I could muster was watching Super Market Sweep and yelling at the people who wasted time getting boxes of crackers and rice when they could be grabbing those expensive huge canned hams!  Well, this week’s topic from the League has given me free reign to day dream about pop culture shopping sprees once more, except instead of tearing up the aisles of my local Toys R Us, we’re storming the Hakes’s Americana and Collectables auction site!  The assignment this week is all about checking out the latest Hake’s auctions and filling out virtual shopping cart with stuff we’d love to display in our collections.

Now normally I’d be all about jamming my cart full of all sorts of awesome stuff, and let me tell you there is a ton of rad stuff in the lasted around of auctions, but honestly I found something so cool I’d only need a single shopping tote to bring them home.  Do you recall the 1985 Sanrio Sea Creatures action figure line?  No?  Me neither, and it’s because this line of aquatic warrior action figures was never actually manufactured, but there are some prototypes up for auction at Hake’s that literally took my breath away…

   

There are six of these prototype action figures up for auction including Hammerhead, Piranha, and Octo above, and Ko-Ral, Eel, and Baron Von Cuder below…

   

This action figure line reminds me a lot of a cross between Masters of the Universe and the Thundercats toys, and it makes me wonder what kind of aquatic-themed media barrage we missed out on in the mid 80s.  Sure, we had the Snorks, but aside from the short-lived Tigersharks cartoon that really didn’t get any sort of massive distribution, there wasn’t really an undersea-themed action show for kids.  My mind is literally reeling at the thought of how cool this could have been had it made its way into production.  There are so many creatures that could be grafted into fighting warriors, from starfish to whales, and sadly we’ll never get a chance to see it.  I can just imagine the Crush-Station Giant Clam playset or the eventual figures that would have squirted water or had oozing “heavy water” goo canisters included.  Can you see the line of toxic polluted water villains?  Luckily though, there are these six awesome prototype figures, and if I had the grand to drop on them I can assure you they would be in my collection.

The detailing on these figures is exquisite and I can only imagine what they would look like fully colored…

They also had a lot of really cool accessories and weapons that remind me a lot of the action weapons packs you can snag from Spy Monkey Creations

Last but not least, many of these auctions also include some of the conceptual artwork for the characters which gives us a glimpse into what the color schemes would have been…

 

The designs remind me of a cross between Jack Kirby and Mike Mignola, and again it pains me that these were never produced.  How awesome is it that these prototypes are available from Hake’s though?  I wonder who’s collection these will end up gracing?

If you enjoyed taking a gander at these unproduced Sanrio action figures from 1985, please take a second and check out the other great Hake’s auctions, as well as taking a look at what these totally rad League Member’s did with their dream Hake’s spending spree…

Reis, The Dork Horde, takes on the mantle of the Phantom and punches evil in the face!

Jaime, Shezcrafti, wants to roller derby on the dark side with a jean jacket full of vintage buttons!

Christopher, Progress 13, is on the hunt for some DinoRiders and Jack Kirby Original art!

Robot’s PJ’s, The Robot’s Pajamas, is looking to slap loose lips, while riding a T-Rex and reading Weird Sex Fantasies!

Victoria, Henchgirl, has some Purrfect feline artwork in mind!

CT, Nerd Lunch, is seizing that bronze Rocketeer and packing his nerdy lunch in a Super Friends Lunchbox!

Todd, Neato Coolville, has his eye on a rare and tiny Jane Badler!

Brian, Cool & Collected, “Holy Grails Batman!”

TMNT memories, or tapping into my absurd inner Michelangelo…

Digging through a box of keepsakes this morning I stumbled upon a couple fun Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles items.  I’ve been thinking a lot about that cartoon and comic recently what with the new Nickelodeon series, Playmates toy line, and my near obsession with locating and snapping pictures of all the new Turtles merchandise in stores.  It certainly is a great time to love being a Turtle again.  Below is one of my favorite drawings as it was one of the first times I actually sat down and tried my damnedest to draw something that was truly fridge-worthy as a kid.  This is from 1988.  I was laying in bed sick and I had a stack of comic books and the first VHS release of the TMNT cartoon to keep me company.  I’m 99.9% sure I copied this Michelangelo drawing from the cover art on the VHS tape…

I was so happy with the outcome that I seriously considered sending it in to the local news station who would post art on the 5:30 news from local kids.  In the end I greedily hung onto it fearing that it wouldn’t be accepted and I wouldn’t have the magnificence of the drawing to bask in.  I was so proud of drawing all the links in the chain on his nunchucks.  Note, because the cover artwork from the VHS didn’t have the full body of the Turtles on it, I had to improvise and I totally put Mikey in the swamp.  Also, quarter sun in the top corner for the childhood drawing win!

The other treasure I uncovered was this home-made button I constructed out of a bored French Class doodle from 1993.  Our language teacher was a huge fan of drawings and art and would give tons of extra credit points for doing little art projects like making button and junk.  A friend and I managed to get a pretty decent grade in the first semester by wallpapering the room with out goofy drawings featuring our inane French witticisms.  This button roughly translates to “The Eggs are helping.”  How absurdly funny I thought I was being at the time…

Also, as a postscript to this, you know the new cartoon is a hit when you start seeing displays like this one popping up in stores…

Hun-Dred Crushed the Life Out of My Comments Section…

So, just wanted to post something quick to acknowledge that, yes, the technical aspect of the comments section of this website suck.  Like, the ability to post or see comments that is, not anyone’s fine musings (which like most folks who run sites I love hearing and responding to.)  The framework that this site is based on is pretty poor and basically held together by my heartfelt wishes and duck tape anyway, so it’s not surprising.  That being said, I’m always available via Facebook, Twitter, or Email, so yeah.

In other non-integral news, yesterday was an amazing mail day.  When I came home I was greeted with a mint-in-package Robo Force Hun-Dred 30 year-old toy robot.  I’ll probably be writing more about this beautiful specimen in the coming week, but for anyone that cares I’ll be spending the rest of the week and weekend staring at and most likely cuddling with it when I sleep.  TMRLI, I know.  (Too Much Robot Love Info.)  Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go exercise his hugging crushing action on some of my other action figures…

Just playing with some toys…

Been rearranging the toys on my bookshelves in Branded HQ.  Though I don’t have a ton of vintage 80s stuff, there is a little bit peppered in with the more or less retro themed toys…

Some of my favorites are the Transformers Classics Jetfire (just a great toy all around), the new Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, my Weaponeers of Monkaa Crystar custom build, and my ginormous Mumm-Ra who is currently the king of my collection…

What are some of your favorite toys?

My Beastmen…

Sometimes I have to remind myself that not every post has to be something precious where I do a bunch of research and try and dig into my memories of the 80s.  Sometimes I can just throw up a picture of my Beastmen…

The Wonderfully Creepy World of Vintage Strawberry Shortcake Cosplay…

Considering the most recent episode of the Saturday Supercast deals with not only girl’s cartoons from the 1980s, but specifically Strawberry Shortcake, I thought this would be a great time to share this Bettry Crocker branded flatware advertisement from 1982…

I’m not sure exactly what it is about the “real” little Shortcake in the ad, but she freaks me right the hell out.  She’s supposed to be cute right?  I’m guessing it’s partly the fault of the photography that makes her eyes seem like huge black pools of dead soul, but I think it might also be that I’m “hearing” the voice of Russi Taylor in my head when I look at this little girl and it’s just wrong.  These sets are pretty damn fantastic all the same (and thank god there wasn’t a little were-bear boy dressed up like Paddington to send me into further convulsions of horror.)  I’m not sure why, but at least one of these Strawberry Shortcake spoons made it into my household while growing up in the early 80s.  Considering my sister was in her early teens at the time of this ad, I find it strange that we had one.  My mother certainly didn’t buy it for me (though it would have been alright if she had.)  I kind of want a replacement, and checking eBay, they’re not that expensive.  Hmmm, maybe nostalgia and tax refunds are a dangerous mix…

Also, curiously very few eBay listings make note of how well the “smell” of the Peculiar Purple Pie Man of Porcupine Peak has held up over the years.  You think that would matter to more buyers, but oh well, yat a tat a tat tat, a ta ta ta!…

Talking about some stuff I LOVE TO DEATH!

Holy crap!  It’s freaking Podcast-a-polooza here at Branded today.  I have not one, but two new shows that went live this morning.  First up is episode 4 of the Cult Film Club, the show I co-host with Paxton Holley and Jaime Hood.  This is our Valentine’s Day episode, and for us that meant sitting down to watch the mostly naked Marc Singer, the topless Tanya Roberts, and John Amos’ butt cheeks in the amazing 1982 flick The Beastmaster!

For those uninitiated with the flick, it follows Dar, a warrior with the power to communicate with the animal kingdom, on his quest to avenge the destruction and mass murder of his village by the tyrannical wizard Maax.  Along the way there are plenty of painted tigers, hot-bodied Stygian witches, and freaky bird people that make this film a true fantasy cult classic!  In the episode we discuss the fantasy/barbarian genre, the violence and adult content in the film, cinematographer John Alcott and his amazing use of lighting, the special effects, and the wonderful score by Lee Holdridge.  We take a closer look at some of the actors in our regular segment, Hey Do I Know That Guy, as well as playing Hollywood moguls in a segment we like to call It’s Time For a Recast!

You can head on over to the Cult Film Club, or you can download it directed by right-clicking and saving here!

On the other end of the Valentine’s day spectrum I joined back up with the Saturday Supercast, this time talking with Jerzy Drozd and Dave Roman all about what it was like being a boy growing up in the 80s who watched girl’s cartoons…

We kick off with talk about the surprisingly intense My Little Pony: Rescue at Midnight Castle, then move on to The World of Strawberry Shortcake, and close with a chat about outrageous rocker gals on guitar-shaped motorcycles, Jem!  You can find the episode at Sugary Serials.com, or you can right click and download it here!

If these shows don’t say “I love you”, then I don’t know what does…

Cult Film Club Episode 3 and Chasing Marin Kanter…

Hey folks, just wanted to take a second an point to the release of the 3rd episode of the Cult Film Club podcast, my new project with Paxton Holley and Jaime Hood.  We’re having a ton of fun producing this show and if you’re a movie buff like me there’s sure to be something fun in the episodes for you.  This time we chose to discuss the 1966 Sergio Corbucci spaghetti western Django starring Franco Nero as the mysterious coffin-dragging gunfighter out for bloody revenge!

To listen to the show you can either visit the Cult Film Club, find and subscribe to the show in iTunes, or download it directly here (right click and save!)

I’ve also been writing some articles for the club including my recent experience watching the 1978 Walter Hill flick The Driver and the 1982 punk rock classic Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains.  I totally have a crush on Marin Kanter from that flick by the by…

Also, if you want to know what films we’ll be covering next, you can join our totally rad club and get the inside scoop on our plans and access to contests and stuff (like this one where you can win a free shirt from Ript courtesy of the Cult Film Club!)

My name is Walter Kellogg, Cereal Detective…

From time to time I find myself flipping through 30 year-old issues of various Mom magazines looking for inspiration and cool ads to scan for the site.  Over the past couple years I kept running across a series of ads for Kellogg’s Honey & Nut Corn Flakes that tugged at my mind, but I wasn’t quite sure why.  There’s nothing all that special about the ads except for a cartoon crow mascot (aptly named the Honey Nut Crow), but even he seemed more like the hillbilly cousin of Sonny the Cocoa Puffs bird and nothing that would really make for an interesting article on Branded.  Then out of the blue this past week I encountered the perfect storm of coincidences that finally led me back to those ads and a weird realization about how insanely complex and difficult the marketing of branded products must really be.

  

Let me back up a bit to 2010 and a free box of the newly launched Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut cereal that I received through Amazon Vine.  For those that don’t know, Amazon Vine is a goofy program where you can get early access to select products in exchange for reviewing them.  It’s mainly ARCs (advanced reading copies) of books, but from time to time there are DVDs, toys, and the occasional newly launched food item.  Basically the companies that publish or produce these products offer them to Amazon customers for free so that they can get product reviews (positive or negative.)  When I see food pop up I tend to grab it because I’m all for saving money on the grocery tab (and it’s hard to pass up free eats.)  I thought it was a little weird when the Crunchy Nut cereal popped up because I couldn’t imagine that cereal reviews on Amazon really make any sort of difference in the grand scheme of things.  Books and DVDs are one thing, but who stops while browsing the cereal aisle to look up reviews on the web, let alone Amazon?  Anyway, it was free, so I ordered it and ended up really loving the Crunchy Nut (it basically tastes like Cracker Jacks in cereal form.)

Though I really dug that cereal, it was way sweeter than the stuff I typically buy so I haven’t actually bought any more in the past two years.  This past week though, I was suckered into picking up another box as there was both an amazing sale on Kellogg’s ($2 a box), and if you bought two boxes of cereal you could get a free branded cereal bowl (from an in-store display), and I really wanted the entire set of four bowls.  Eight boxes of cereal and one embarrassing trip through the checkout line later I was the proud owner of four cheap character bowls and a couple boxes of Crunchy Nut flakes.  Later in the week I found myself inexplicably humming the commercial jingle to the extinct Nut & Honey Crunch cereal (I say inexplicably, but let’s be honest, this is the type of crap that is constantly floating around in my brain.)  Anyway, this all leads up to yesterday when I was flipping through some 1982 issues of McCall’s looking for something (I can’t even remember right now), and I came full circle back to one of those Kellogg’s Honey & Nut Corn Flakes ads featuring the Honey Nut Crow, and then all of a sudden it dawned on me that all three of these incidents were connected.  It was like that moment at the end of the Usual suspects, only I was flipping through a 30 year-old woman’s magazine while stuffing my face full of cereal…

I grabbed my copy of The Great American Cereal Book to confirm it, but was slightly devastated that there was no entry for Kellogg’s Honey & Nut Cornflakes.  There was an entry for Nut & Honey Crunch though, and listed as a bit of trivia was that the Honey Nut Crow was a former mascot associated with the cereal (though I don’t remember the Nut & Honey boxes ever featuring that character.)  I did a little digging on the internet this morning and sure enough, all of these cereals (Honey & Nut Corn Flakes, Nut & Honey Crunch, and Crunchy Nut cereal) are one and the same.  I’m pretty sure it was also marketed under the name Honey Crunch Corn Flakes (marketed with the Kellogg’s green rooster mascot.)  How could this one cereal keep popping up in my life under so many different circumstances?  And why did I never make the connection before?

It’s kind of hilarious when you look back over the cereal’s sordid merchandising timeline between its introduction in 1979 to today.  Whereas most cereals have stayed pretty consistent for decades, this one seems to be one hell of a hard sell to the public, even though it had a semi-successful ad campaign at one point (the “Nuttin’ Honey” commercials of the late 80s, early 90s for Nut & Honey Crunch.)  Why has the product been in need of re-branding no less than four times?  I mean, it’s nut and honey covered corn flakes?  How much simpler can you get?  I can see how the Honey Nut Crow was a misfire as he resembles Sonny the Cocoa Puffs bird a bit too much perhaps, but outside of that issue the tone of the marketing has been all over the map.  Initially the campaign focused on a “see it, hear it, taste it” motif (as seen in these two commercials from 1980.)  Then there are a series of commercials that tried to sell the cereal as “so good it needs to be stolen” (as seen in these two commercials from 1986 and 1989, as well as this British ad starring Hugh Laurie from 1985.)  In 1987 there seemed to be a pretty major fracturing of the ad campaign as it’s rebranded as both Crunchy Nut Corn Flakes (aimed at adults and placed in a black box, a food packaging no-no if there ever was one), and as the afore mentioned Nut & Honey Crunch (here are a couple more commercials from 1987.)  Then by the mid to late 90s it had been re-branded again, this time as Honey Crunch Corn Flakes (I guessing that nuts weren’t cool in the 90s after grunge rock hit.)  Now we’re back to the Crunchy Nut branding, though they’re dropped the Corn Flakes from the name.  Honestly, judging by their all-over-the-board advertising for the current branding I’m not convinced they know how to handle it even today (I mean, Inception and She-Males?!?)  Also, thank goodness for the archive of cereal commercials on youtube…

All of this leads me to the weird realization that in a way I’ve been able to taste the past.  When I first came across the old ads in the McCall’s magazine I was curious about what that cereal tasted like and was bummed that so many cereals have been retired by companies like Kellogg’s.  This was compounded by reading a tome like The Great American Cereal Book (filled with exciting extinct brands), and all the recent hoopla surrounding the bankruptcy of the Hostess company and thinking about the possibility of a product like the Twinkie disappearing from store shelves.  The idea that I wouldn’t be able to taste these things was sort of sad, but in realizing that some of these cereals still exist, just under different branding is sort of cool.  It’s like having a time machine for my mouth.  Anyway, I’m glad to have finally closed the book (the proverbial cereal book) on this flaky caper.  I’m going to call this one, The Case of the Honey Crow that Couldn’t Sell His Damn Cereal for Nuts…