Tag Archives: back to the future

Fine art from the fine folks at Cricket Press

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

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

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

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

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

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I’m having a nostalgic ReAction to these toys!

If the 80s was all about an insane amount of merchandising and toy branding, there was one small place where we were all sort of collectively let down by this blitz and that’s movie-themed toy lines.  Sure, we had a ton of Kenner Star Wars figures, there were a handful of Raiders of the Lost Ark toys, and we even got four Legend of the Lone Ranger figures from Gabriel, but there were so many hugely popular flicks that never had lines released.  I’m looking at you Ghostbusters.  Most of the toy lines were tied into either cartoons, or cartoon spin-offs of movies (okay, we did have Real Ghostbusters toys, but it’s just not the same.)  It really wasn’t until the 90s when we started to see movies regularly getting their own short run toy lines (the Shadow, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, and Dick Tracy all spring to mind.)  So for years us 80s kids had to really concentrate, evoke the theme song of the Muppet Babies, and use our imagination (said with all the extra syllables baby Piggy added in the cartoon.)  I distinctly remember using my G.I. Joe and Star Wars figures to play V or the Last Starfighter (the B-Wing pilot from RoTJ made a good stand in for Alex from the Last Starfighter, and if you turned his head around he makes a nice Shocktrooper from  V.)

In the past couple of decades a lot of toy companies have done some fun work addressing the lack of 80s movie toys, but the figures are usually in the 6-8″ scale and are sculpted in such a way where they tend to only work as one-pose plastic statues.  Again, fun, but it they never really hit that “action figure” nostalgia I have for Star Wars and G.I. Joe figures.  Well, last year a couple of companies teamed up (Funko and Super7) to release vintage Kenner-style figures based on original molds for the movie Alien.  These were a huge hit with really fun retro inspired cardbacks and limited articulation and detail in the sculpts.  Sure, it’s a little gimmicky and it evokes a false sense of nostalgia, but who cares, these figures are a lot of fun!  Based on the success of that line Funko and Super7 have launched a much larger line of these ReAction figures that will start hitting stores this month.  Most of these toys feature characters from movies which either never had toys or never had complete lines, but there are also a few sets of TV Show figures thrown in as well.  There’s a lot of great stuff in the line including stuff from the Terminator, Predator, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Hellraiser, Halloween, The Crow, Escape From New York, Pulp Fiction and the Rocketeer, but the two lines that have really grabbed my attention are a series of Goonies and Back to the Future figures!

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I can’t even express how long I’ve wanted to have vintage style Goonies figures.  In this first wave there are five figures including Sloth and the kids (Mikey, Mouth, Chunk and Data), and I hope they sell well enough that we can get a second wave featuring at least Stef, Andy and Brand, but I’d love a set of Fratelli’s for sure.

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Mouth

Data

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I know a lot of folks have been bummed that the sculpting and paint apps are super simple, but I actually like that.  It reminds me a lot of the original Star Wars figures and honestly these toys aren’t about photo-realistic accuracy, they’re about having fun toys to have further make believe Goonies adventures with.  Besides, if you’re like me then you’ll want two sets, one I can open (and have fun with) and one to hang on the wall of Branded HQ.  The card art alone is worth it for me on these.

I’m not quite as jazzed about the BTTF figures, though mostly this is because the design team at Funko/Super7 chose to use one standard image for the card art (and in doing so chose NOT to license/use the bitchin’ Drew Struzan poster art.)

Marty

It’s not a huge deal, but because of the repetitive card art these won’t look as good on the wall, so I’ll probably just end up opening a single set…

Doc Brown

George

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Again, I hope these sell well enough for a second wave because I’d really like to have a Loraine, as well as a Marty in the radioactivity suit as Darth Vader from the planet Vulcan!  As it is, at least I can re-enact George punching Biff in the parking lot of the Enchantment Under the Sea dance…

The Goonies figures are slated to be released in October while the Back to the Future figures should be hitting pegs in June.  They’re all up and available for pre-order at Amazon right now!

Rebuilding the 80s, brick by brick…

So it was announced today that the 7th official Lego Cuusoo project is going to be brick artist Brent Waller’s Ghostbusters play set.  I was pretty excited when I saw the news because the work he did on his Ecto-1 is kind of beyond superb…

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Not only is the Ecto-1 really beautiful, but his minifigs of our four heroes managed to really nail the personalities of Egon, Ray, Winston, and Peter.

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For those unfamiliar, Lego Cuusoo is a community-building based platform to submit ideas to Lego.  These projects are put out to the public for support, and if they garner enough attention and votes the project is submitted to a review board for the possibility of becoming a production set.  The set that drew my attention to this concept was the Back to the Future DeLorean submitted early last year…

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The DeLorean wasn’t the first “branded” Cuusoo project, but it’s the first older property that I’m sure fans have been making builds of for years to finally see an official release.  I haven’t picked it up yet, but it sure is tempting.  The final build is slightly different than the proposed version above, a little blockier and a bit less sleek, but it’s still pretty fantastic…

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Coming hot on the heels of M. Togami’s Back to the Future DeLorean, this new Ghostbusters project got me thinking about what other possible 80s era projects builders have in the works.  I mean with two major 80s properties now available you know folks have to be scrambling to showcase their skills on other franchises.  It reminded me of a pretty rad series of Goonies sets I saw up on the site recently designed by a builder that goes by the handle Lyonsblood…

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These Goonies sets manage to capture the adventure and aesthetic of the film in a very condensed format.  Take the organ of bones play set he calls Skeleton Scare.  The slide, the pit of spikes and the overall design of the cave are very rad and easily evoke the flick.  He’s also designed a set for One-Eyed Willie’s pirate ship…

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But what really sold me on the Goonies designs were the minifig sets of both the Goonies gang, as well as Mama Fratelli and her boys.

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As neat as these were I figured they’d probably never see the light of day, but after seeing Funko release a series of vinyl Pop Goonies figures there might be some hope just yet!  So, what other fun 80s-centric projects are floating around on Lego Cuusoo?  How about this rad large format build of the Dukes of Hazzard General Lee by artist Kenta974!

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I love how he rendered the rebel flag on the roof, though it’s a design element that is the nail int eh coffin of this project never coming to fruition.  I’d have a hard time seeing Lego seek branding approval for such a controversial symbol as that iconic flag.  Even so, the build is awesome.  While we’re on the subject of rad cars, how about this super cool rendition of the Knight Industries Two Thousand by StevesXD

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He really managed to nail K.I.T.T.’s sleek curves and I think any Knightrider fan would love to have this on their shelf…

How could we have the Ecto-1, BTTF Time Machine, the General Lee and K.I.T.T. without the A-Team and B.A.’s super cool van?!?  Thanks to Isreal Lemus, we can take a look at a possible design as well as Hannibal, Murdock, B.A. and Faceman…

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Are we likely to see these other projects coming to full Cuusoo fruition?  Probably not.  I’d have to hazard a guess that the A-Team is too violent a property, the Dukes of Hazzard too controversial, and Knightrider not quite popular enough on the pop culture spectrum to garner enough potential buyers, but I think that the Goonies set has an honest to goodness shot if it can manage to get enough votes to put it in front of the review board.

The only build that’s absent from this list that really surprises me is Airwolf.  I must have spent two solid years trying to perfect my own “Lady” out of my rag tag mix of Space and Town sets as a kid.  I’m really kind of flabbergasted that no one has submitted a build for one on Cuusoo yet.  I couldn;t close out this post without one though, so here’s a beautiful build of the “Lady” by artist Orion Pax

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1.21 Gigawatts of fun…

This past weekend I stumbled upon something pretty cool while I was browsing through Alternate Worlds, a Baltimore area comic shop, with my girlfriend Jaime.  A co-worker had suggested the store to her since they have a great selection of comics, games and toys.  I was curious if there was anything eighties-centric that I might want to pick up, so we jumped in the car and took a trip over to check it out this past Saturday.  Though the store did have a few vintage G.I. Joe, Star Wars, and Transformers, the item that caught my attention was actually something that was released just a few years ago, the Back to the Future Card Game by Looney Labs

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Though the game debuted in 2010, this is the first time I saw it and I couldn’t pass up the chance to snag a copy.  I mean, it was my density, er, destiny because Jaime and I were looking for some more 2-player games we could play and, well, Back to the Future.  I mean how often do you see 80s movie-themed card or board games that aren’t stupidly expensive?  When we got home, after a quick game of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Trouble (which we found an the 5 Below in the same shopping center as the comic shop), we ripped open the shrink wrap so we could check out the game…

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Included are three sets of cards, the main game deck, a small stack of player character ID cards, and set of 28 timeline cards that act as a game board of sorts.  The concept is pretty simple, each player is randomly dealt an ID card featuring a descendant of one of the main characters from the Back to the Future movie trilogy.  There are various McFlys, Browns, Tannens as well as some of the more obscure families like the Needles and Berrys and Stricklands (even the Strickland descendants know the McFlys have always been slackers…)

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Each character has a list of events associated with them that they need to make sure happen in order for them to both exist and to win the game.  These events are recorded on the timeline cards which are spread out chronologically and act a game board.  Each timeline card has two possible variations of the event listed, and these can be manipulated by the players using cards from the game deck…

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In the set of timeline cards there are specific “linchpin” events that the player can alter (flip to show a different outcome – like when Marty McFly Jr. agrees to help Griff Tannen and his gang in BTTF 2), and changing them has a ripple effect that flips subsequent cards.  Based on the character that you draw you’ll be targeting some of these “linchpin” events, changing the past so that your den…destiny can be fulfilled.  (Alright, stopping with the density jokes.)  The characters/players alter these event cards by using cards from the main game deck which consists of various items and actions.

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For me this is where the game really shines as the cards feature a bunch of fun stuff from the movies like cases of plutonium (thanks to your friendly neighborhood Libyan nationalists), the Gray’s Sports Almanac, hooverboards, or copies of George McFly’s debut novel A Match Made in Space.  There are also six time machine cards which feature the various incarnations of the classic DeLorean as well as the train from BTTF 3.

All in all the game is a little confusing on the first play through as it takes a while to get used to how the cards interact, and there are some play/draw variations that are hard to keep straight, but the game goes pretty quick and by the second time it should be a lot smoother.  I wasn’t familiar with Looney Labs when I picked this Back to the Future game up, but apparently after doing a little digging it looks like it’s this set is based on their Chrononauts Card Game.  So if you’re familiar with that than this one should be a cinch to pick up on the mechanics.

Unfortunately the BTTF Card Game is no longer in print, but there are still reasonably priced copies available on Amazon.  Now, if only someone would come out with a Monster Squad-themed card game I’d be in heaven…

Awesome Ript Contest and a bunch of 80s pop culture vehicles merge to form 8DTron!

So I was recently indoctrinated into the whole 24-hour T-Shirt a day phenomenon when friend of the site Slick McFavorite (of the Open Your Toys podcast) pointed me to an awesome Universal monster mash-up design that I had to have.  Honestly, as much as I’m into pop culture, my wardrobe of cool shirts is pretty damn limited and I’ve been trying to change that over the last six months.  One of my favorite recent purchases was from the site Ript Apparel, a shirt called 8DTron by the artist known as Brinkerhoff

Seriously, how great is this concept?!?  Showcasing a bunch of 80s pop culture vehicles, this Devastator-esque combiner robot 8DTron hits on so many of the things I love from my childhood.  Airwolf (aka The Lady), the General Lee, Rick Hunter’s Veritech (or the Jetfire Transformers toy, you be the judge), the A-Team van, Ecto-1, Optimus Prime, the license plate from the Back To The Future Delorean, and He-Man’s power sword.  Not only is the design super cool, but the actual shirt is pretty damn nice as well, especially for $10 plus shipping.

Honestly, coming across sites like Ript is pretty cool, but it’s also sort of like opening Pandora’s Box (or more accurately, her Armoire) as I can easily see myself developing quite the shirt-a-day habit.  Well, Ript is holding an amazing contest where one lucky winner can win the cool shirt mega lottery, literally a shirt a day for an entire year!

Here’s the press release…

CHICAGO-BASED RIPT APPAREL TO GIVE AWAY ONE YEAR’S WORTH OF GRAPHIC TEES TO ONE LUCKY CONTESTANT

Don’t do laundry for a year: win the next 365 t-shirts from RIPT Apparel

This Thursday until the end of January, RIPT Apparel will be conducting it’s biggest customer giveaway ever. An entire year’s worth of tees will be awarded to one lucky contestant. Yes, that’s 365 shirts, every design printed for an entire year.

To get a grasp on just how many shirts RIPT makes in a year, check out this video displaying the entire roster of shirts from 2012

Entering is easy, just sign up via Facebook at this link.

Prizes:
Grand Prize: a year’s worth of daily RIPT Apparel tees over the course of 2013 (February 1st 2013 to January 31st 2014)
1st Prize: 1 free shirt per month for a year (12 free tee coupons)
2nd Prize: RIPT Apparel prize pack (RIPT tee, RIPT Hat, RIPT Coasters)
Runners up: 1 free tee coupon (multiple winners)

Timeline:
Accepting entries Thursday January 17th through Thursday January 31st
Winners chosen and contacted Friday February 1st.

RIPT Apparel is a Chicago-based online apparel retailer that sells one new shirt design every 24 hours. Each design is created by artists who share in the profits for each sale and retain the rights to their work after their artwork is sold.”

I know I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Brinkerhoff designs a “sequel” shirt to 8DTron featuring K.I.T.T. fom Knight Rider, a Tron Light Cycle, Magnum PI’s Ferrari, The Thunder Tank, a Cobra HISS Tank, the Buckaroo Banzai Jetcar, and Voltron’s head and sword!

Guest Hosting on the Nerd Lunch Podcast!

I listen to a lot of podcasts, but lately it seems like a bunch of shows that I love have been ending.  So I was pretty excited when I discovered a new show that featured some of my favorite bloggers coming together to geek out over the airwaves.  The Nerd Lunch podcast debuted this past week, and it features NL alums CT and Jeeg, as well as Paxton from Cavalcade of Awesome!

These guys were gracious enough to invite me in as a guest on their second episode as the 1st in a series of revolving 4th chair hosts.  We spend the episode discussing the Back to the Future flicks, which just happens to be one of my favorite franchises from the 80s.  So if you want to hear us talk about Marty, Doc, Biff, time travel continuity, the animated series, as well as where we think the future of this film franchise could go them head on over to Nerd Lunch and give the episode a listen.  You can also find their show on iTunes.