Tag Archives: 1980s

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…

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!)