Tag Archives: goonies

I’m basically still Chunk at heart

For the majority of my life I was, well, let’s say pretty husky.  As a very young kid I was actually pretty skinny, say up until I was six or seven, but starting with my family’s first big move across state, and then all over the east coast things got a little difficult for me and well for a bunch of reasons food became my comfort.  But I’m not really sitting down to write about that as much as describing an aspect that contributed to my personality as a kid.  Moving around a lot, overweight, and to be quite honest I was one hell of a weird kid.  My mom has always kept an unusual schedule, sleeping during the day when my sister and I were at school and my dad at work, and then staying up till all hours of the morning watching late night cable.  When she would go grocery shopping it was usually at one of the stores in the area that was open 24 hours and she liked to hit them up between 10:00pm to 12:00am to avoid a bunch of other customers and to basically have a stress free experience.  When she went on the weekends I’d tag along and wander around the vast empty store, browsing the toy aisle for 45 minutes talking to myself out loud and making mental lists of all the stuff I would ask for on my upcoming birthdays and Christmas.  From the outside I’m sure I appeared pretty damn weird, but I was fully aware of it and for the most part didn’t care how I looked or seemed to others.  I was entertaining myself and that’s all that mattered.

So when relating to characters from pop culture, it should come as no surprise that I’ve always felt that Chunk (Jeff Cohen) from the Goonies is more or less my spirit animal…

Goonies

I was never great at making friends though I always managed to, and when I did I tended to over compensate, exaggerate and be kind of a handful just like the loveable Lawrence.  In my defense Michael Jackson, nor his sister, ever came to my house to use the bathroom…but I saw Stephen King in a Maine bookstore once on vacation (sure I did…)  I wouldn’t say I was using the character as a role model, but I sure did feel his pain whenever he’d spaz out or make a fool of himself…

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I also had a weird habit of wearing Halloween costumes was past the point of being “acceptable” for normal attire.  I mean I’d be hanging out in the house dressed up in my sweet ninja gear during Christmas or I’d be tooling around the neighborhood in my “G.I. Joe fatigues” and beret for instance…

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…so later on in life when I found out about Jeff Cohen’s penchant for waring weird and wacky headgear both on and off the set of Goonies, I totally related.  Part of it was that need to perform, part just trying to over compensate.

Jeff Cohen Hat Obsession

Anyway, this is all a lot of lead up to the fact that I just found this old back issue of Starlog magazine in a used bookshop this past week and I was overjoyed to see that it included an interview with Jeff Cohen (and Corey Feldman, but Jeff steals the show)!  Usually these articles only focused on the adult actors or crew, so it’s pretty rad to find one that was concentrating on the kids, but wasn’t fluff from an 80s teeny-bop magazine.  Hope everyone enjoys reading this as much as I did…

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Again, from the article Cohen has a quote about his character Chunk that really echos my childhood experience as a pseudo-Chunk…

“Chunk is too much, but he doesn’t care.  He likes it.  He doesn’t like being fat, but he likes having his own personality.  He’s a little bit flashy, wears plaid pants and a big Hawaiian shirt and struts around…he’s a klutz and a liar.  He lies to his friends, but nothing to hurt ‘em.”

Anyway, the interview is all over the place as both Feldman and Cohen are hyped up and excited, but I still think it’s a fun read and a great snapshot of these two actors in the prime of their Goonies experience.  So glad I found this…

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!

Sloth

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.

Mikey

Mouth

Data

Chunk

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

Biff

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!

Pop Culture Cartography

I was recently flipping through a few of my issues of ThunderCats magazine (as you do) and decided to finally remove and unfold some of the included posters that each issue contained.  Most of them are pretty bad, awkwardly painted versions of the characters in a sort of collage, but one of them kind of blew my mind.  It was a full on map of 3rd Earth!

Map of Third Earth

It looks like it’s pretty much strict to the season one stories as there’s no mention of the Lunataks, but it’s still pretty damn amazing.  I love knowing that the Ro-Bear Berbil village was right behind Cat’s Lair and that Castle Plun-Darr is out in a little peninsula.  I shared this scan on the Branded facebook page and on Instagram and when I was talking to folks about it, it reminded me that I had a couple other pop culture maps in my collection.  The first one that sprang to mind was another magazine centerfold, though this time it was from issue number four of Muppet Magazine from 1983…

Fraggle Map Muppet Magazine Issue 4 Fall 1983

The lands of Fraggle Rock!  Of course, this is just the immediate vicinity of the day to day Fraggle wanderings and doesn’t account for the vast lands of “Outer Space”, but I have to assume that Uncle Traveling Matt has this covered and is working on more maps…

Of course, my favorite map in my collection is a replica of One Eyed Willie’s treasure map from the Goonies.  I have it handing on my living room wall right next to a nifty portrait of the Fratellis by Matthew Luxich, a replica of the doubloon, and a print by Scott Fuller.

Goonies Art

goonies map

After wracking my brain I also realized that I had a map of Nockmaar from the film Willow that was in an old Sourcebook that I used to have….

Map of Nockmaar Willow

…as well as a pretty rad map of the Smurfs’ village that was an insert in the really cool World of the Smurfs book I reviewed a few years ago!  Though the Smurf book is out of print, it’s is still pretty easy to snag over at Amazon.

Smurf Village Map

Talking about these on Facebook, the super rad Douglas Bodine sent me scans of an amazing map of the world of The Dark Crystal!  The map was included in an old storybook called The Tale of the Dark Crystal

Dark Crystal Map

The last piece of pop culture cartography that I have is the map that was included in William Goldman’s The Princess Bride (which I totally forgot about until my girlfriend Jaime pointed it out…)

princess bride

I bet these would look pretty awesome framed and on the wall (well, I know the Goonies map does for sure.)  It also has me wondering what other cool pop culture maps are hanging around out there.  I know that a series of maps for the lands in the Masters of the Universe were just released with the MOTU Classics figures including Eternia and Etheria.  I’d love to get my hands on those.  So, any other cool pieces of cartography that are 80s-centric?

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!

Dukes of Hazzard 1

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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

Knight Rider

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…

A-Team

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

Airwolf

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The Seedy Adult Underworld of 80s Family Entertainment

I know every generation says this about the decades when they came of age, but growing up in the 80s was seriously a whole different world; like living on another planet at times.  There was a lot more going on when it came to entertainment aimed at kids in terms of adult themes and material that surely went over the head of most of the viewing audience.  Looking back I love this and really appreciate that the creators and writers didn’t dumb down the content, even if some of it might stray a little further towards “adult” than many people might realize. You definitely saw this in a cartoon like Ren & Stimpy (which granted was the early 90s, but was the culmination of the freedom the previous decade expressed), which constantly toed the line of what was considered decent for a kid’s show.  Heck, I’ve mentioned before that I think John Kricfalusi is very probably the guy responsible for animating anthropomorphic penis aliens into the background sequences in the Saturday morning cartoon Galaxy High (particularly in the first and second episodes)…

Galaxy High penis creature 2

I was having a conversation with a co-worker the other day about catching up with some 80s flicks that they hadn’t seen in over 20 years, in particular Ghostbusters and the Goonies.  The topic turned to the awkward dream sequence featuring a sex scene between Dan Aykroyd’s Ray Stanz and spectral “presence”.  I guess you could call it oral innuendo, but the background behind that sequence is pretty plain.  Ray banged a ghost.  It’s one of the interesting aspects of reading the original Richard Mueller novelization

Ghostbusters Novelization

In the book (which is based on the Aykroyd/Ramis screenplay) we learn that, that dream sequence was actually from a real sequence planned for later in the film.  Right after Ray and Winston are driving through the city talking about the end of the world, when the two go to Fort Detmerring looking for a spook. They split up and Ray stumbles upon a room that is a replica of a revolutionary war officer’s barracks. He finds a uniform and puts it on, lays on a bed and promptly falls asleep. When he wakes, the ghost they were looking for is about to go to town on his junk. Apparently this sequence was largely cut, but I’m betting none of them wanted to ditch the blowjob joke, so they sandwiched it into the montage (and it also explains the old war uniform Ray is wearing beyond the fact that they morphed the scene into a dream.)  What’s even weirder is that this is actually the culmination of a plot thread in the book where Ray is both lonely and changing his feelings about catching the ghosts. Since Peter is courting Dana and (in the book) Egon and Janine are becoming an item, Ray is looking to blow off some steam, and the experience with the ghost is just what he was looking for. Also, there’s a bit with Ray thinking about how it might be wrong to catch these ghosts just to jail them in the containment unit, and when he awakes to his spectral date-night he wonders if maybe some ghosts are good.

The author, Mueller, actually expands the sexuality in the novel here and there. For instance, everyone thinks about sex to one degree or another, but if I’m used to dealing with a character where this is never brought up, say the Librarian in the opening sequence of Ghostbusters, then when she starts “thinking” about how she feels guilty for seeking out all kinds of ancient kinky woodcuts featuring taboo sexual practices in the library’s non-public collection, well, I get a little weirded out. As far as I can tell, the librarian character in the script is slightly different; she’s written to be rotund and in her mid to late twenties, but for all intents and purposes the scene in the script is almost shot for shot what we’ve come to know and love in the final film. Mueller, though, felt the need to paint her as a bit more sad and depraved, which for an incidental character is pretty weird. This sort of thing pops up here and there in the novel, including in the scene where we’re first introduced to Dana as she gets out of a cab and goes into her building. The narrative is fractured into a bunch of perspectives as a handful of people on the street take notice of her and give their two cents. One of these includes an elderly man walking his dog who glances at her and thinks, “…how long (has) it been since it’s been long…

This is actually a trend in 80s era novelizations, and for some movies that might be surprising, like say, the Goonies book

Goonies Novelization

Now you may be asking what could possibly be sexualized in the Goonies, I mean it’s not like there’s a secret love scene between Chunk and Sloth right?!?  Well, Sloth love Chunk, but that’s actually (and thankfully) not explored in the novel, but that didn’t stop author James Kahn from evoking electricity-induced orgasms.  Say what?!  Um yeah.  So in the wishing well sequence, at the end, after Andy has sent up the bucket empty, all the kids realize that they’re covered in leeches. Data has a bright idea and end up strapping two wires to a 20-volt battery. He sticks the wires in the water by his feet sending a light electrical charge through his body that’s lethal enough to kill the leeches. He does this for the rest of them, and afterwards, James Kahn tags on a small scene that is, well, almost obscene. After getting the shock, Andy and Stef are standing off to the side, and Kahn describes them as having “…limp smile(s) and small sigh(s)…” Then Stef says to Andy, “I got all tingly – just my luck, I’m in love with a pond!” After which the following passage appears: ‘It annoyed Andy, for some reason, I don’t know, like someone had made her feel good and she didn’t want to…’ Then Andy hauls off and slaps Data saying “Don’t-you-ever-try-that-again-with-me-Buster!” What the hell! Did Kahn actually suggest that Andy and Stef had orgasms from the electric shock!?!  Yeah, yeas he did.

What I’m really curious about is how much of this was in the original shooting script.  I know the leech sequence was in the script (as it made it’s way into both version of the book, including the leaner kid’s version) and was shot and deleted (and has sadly been lost to time), but how much of the subtly was in the actual film versus something that Kahn added for the book.  On the one hand, looking back this is so weird and out of place in the story, yet I have to remind myself that I was reading about pre-teen and teen orgasms in Judy Blume books when I was 7 years old!

There had to be flicks that were completely pure and free from blowjobs and sexual innuendo though right?  I mean you’d never see any of that in E.T. The Extra Terrestrial right?!  Wrong.  Again, taking a look at the novelization by William Kotzwinkle we get a much darker depiction of the story than what would eventually end up on film (well, I’m assuming the following sequences weren’t shot…)

ET Novelization

There’s a sequence in the novel where Elliot, Steve and Gertie’s mother Mary (played by an exasperated Dee Wallace in the film) is so lonely and lost in her own mind that she fantasizes about disappearing from life and, believe it or not, masturbation. (See page 17; the innuendo is there.) She’s also simultaneously dreading the world her children have to face, wondering if they’ll succumb to overdosing on drugs, all while listening in on them playing a campaign of Dungeons and Dragons in the kitchen.  There’s also portions of the book where E.T. becomes weirdly stalker-ish and longs to bond with Mary, starring at her from the closet, thinking about how he could fulfill her needs.  E.T. even gets pretty downright creepy in the sequel novel, E.T. The Book of the Green Planet, where he reaches out to his long lost friend from Earth, melding with the now older Elliot’s mind from across the cosmos.  It comes across very peeping Tom-like, and sort of disturbing.  Experiencing love and yearning “through” Elliot.

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All in all, though all of this adult stuff might seem really questionable on the surface of things, again, I’m really glad that these authors and creators took the chance to expose kids to the real world.  Some of it is for the sake of comedy, some of it is important info that awkward pre-teens probably need, and some of it is just exploring deeper adult themes.  Weird, interesting and kind of neat…

Awesome 80s Bedrooms: Goonies Edition

In my quest to document some of the awesome kid’s bedrooms from 80s flicks I’ve been kind of bummed that some of my favorite flicks don’t really have any bedroom scenes, or if they do they’re super abbreviated.  A movie like SpaceCamp only features the communal bunks at, er, Space Camp, while films like Wargames, The Wizard, and Little Monsters have super boring rooms with little to nothing to really comment on.  There are also some that are featured so quickly that it’s hard to really get a good look at anything.  Today’s awesome 80s bedroom, Mikey’s room from The Goonies, fits in that latter category, even though it’s a brief appearance there are still a handful of fun things to be spotted…

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This main shot has the bulk of the fun junk (even though there is a second shot as Mikey walks out of the room where you can see his work bench, there’s not a lot to comment on…)

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1). The Jacksons Poster clipping (most likely from their 1984 tour) *Corrected* Prince and the Revolution!  Dude, the white glove tricked me!!!  Thanks to The Navigator (as in Flight Of) for pointing out this poster clipping error!

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2). MSA All Service Gas Mask Model S.

MSA All Service Gas Mask Model S 1

3). 1984 LJN Gremlins PVC figures (featuring the Gizmo and Stripe Mogwai)

LJN Gremlins Figures

4). Tomy Zoids ZRK model

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5). 1978 Superman Sheets

Superman Sheets

So there’s a handful of fun stuff in this shot.  I was really happy to spot the Zoids toy as well as the Gremlins Mogwai figures (a nice nod to Spielberg), but also the ’78 era Superman bed sheets!  Richard Donner having a past film in the set dressing is pretty rad.  There’s a bunch of magazines and comics on the dresser that are impossible to identify, as well as an interesting looking pink book that I have no idea what it is.  Also, I love the skull light on the bed post!  Speaking of magazines though…

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6). Coconut Pirate Head

7). Mad Magazine issue 227

MAD Magazine issue 227

This isn’t the only Mad magazine in the flick.  Though Mikey is looking at this issue in his room, in a moment, after he walks out and gets a pep talk from Bran, he throws himself on the couch where he picks up another issue, again making reference to Donner’s 1978 Superman film…

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8). Mad Magazine issue 208

Mad magazine 208

So, even though this was a really quick sequence, it illustrates that Mikey still had a pretty awesome bedroom!

So, did I miss anything?

Other Awesome Bedrooms I’ve covered…

Sara’s Room from Adventures in Babysitting

Eugene’s Room from The Monster Squad

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

Alternative Movie Posters bringing the Art back to Design

I’ll be the first person to admit that I have my gaze set firmly in the past when thinking about pop culture art and design.   The packaging, ad campaigns and poster designs, all of the branding that I love to examine, catalog and collect.  I know a big part of this is because of my nostalgia, looking back to my childhood to what I consider the heyday of innovative and interesting artwork and design.  And I know that this can become a trap, where I’m blinded to great modern work because it’s doing something different than what I might prefer.  In my defense though, there are what seem like unending trends in graphic design these days that have made the landscape truly mind numbing and boring. In particular I’ve noticed this with a lot of modern poster design for films and DVDs, which I’ve mentioned before bugs me to no end.  I mean seriously, is it just me or do the following posters all blend into one giant mess of bland, sad, white noise?

Movie Posters the same more

I would certainly not lay this at the feet of the films themselves as there are some really great movies in this bunch (as well as some truly horrible films.)  All I know is that if I walked into a theater with a wall of these posters all lined up and had to pick a movie based only on this imagery I’d be confounded as to which one to pick.  They’re all the same.  Even when the campaigns are a little more successful in terms of good design, you quickly see so many other designers jump on the bandwagon, diluting interesting concepts and bringing it all back down into the pool of white noise, boring static…

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Obviously this isn’t always the case.  There is still some great poster design out there in the mainstream, for instance the campaign that was recently run for the 2013 release of The Wolverine

the wolverine poster good

Simple, beautiful and tied into the story of the film (what little coherent story there was in that very horrible movie), the artwork in the above poster is a breath of fresh air even though it was the cream in an ad campaign that was rife with other horrible designs like this argument for banning the “brightness/contrast” function in Photoshop…

the wolverine sucks

So, does this mean that the art of design died sometime in the late 80s?  Of course not, it’s all about trust for creative vision and the lack of which exists in the large movie studio system.  These companies have millions of dollars riding on marketing and design campaigns and when attempting to sell their product to as large an audience as possible they can so very easily lose sight of the merits true art, favoring instead to stay the course of design by committee honed by market research and focus groups.

But there is a fascinating response to this bland design in film art, and in his new book Matthew Chojnacki explores this phenomena.  Alternative Movie Posters: Film Art from the Underground dives into the limited run screen prints, glycees and digital prints created for revival and festival screenings of movies that have been cropping up over the last decade.  There’s been a movement to bring the intimacy and limited edition of band gig posters to the film world where thousands of artists celebrate screenings with interesting conceptual designs.

Film Art

For those of us that don’t want to do battle with the shopping cart at Mondo (trying to land a copy of their popular, insanely fast selling screen prints), or who can’t afford to keep up with all of the amazing artwork with these alternative posters, Chojnacki’s book is a great archive highlighting the work of over a hundred different artists from all over the world.  Much like he did with his previous book, Put the Needle on the Record, he really does an amazing job curating this collection of independent artwork.  Whether it’s double page spreads highlighting a specific artist or using these opposing pages to compare and contrast between artists, focusing on a particular style, medium, or similar concepts, there was a lot of care put in the arrangement of the designs.

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There are over 200 posters spanning the gamut of the past 80 years of film, from stark expressionistic takes on M through to unbelievably creative spatial collages for The Dark Knight Rises.  For lovers of film and design Chojnacki’s Alternative Movie Posters is a welcome raft in the sea of uninspired corporate design.  Not every piece of artwork in the book will win you over, but all of them go a long way to recapturing a time when studios actually seemed to care about producing and commissioning true works of film inspired art.

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Each work is accompanied by artist commentary including poster specific inspiration, the art, films and other artists that influence their work, as well as what they use to create and their thoughts on film.  The book also annotates each piece with biographical info and how to contact the artists to find further work or commission some of your own.  Though the book doesn’t focus on any specific genre or era of film, for children of the 80s there is a lot of work focusing on the films we grew up loving.  Tron, Robocop, The Dark Crystal, Gremlins, Goonies, Labyrinth, The Burbs, The Lost Boys, Ghostbusters, Beetlejuice, Big and a ton more…

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I also love that Chojnacki didn’t limit himself to work being released in America, the roster of artists is truly international and an interesting mix of well known and up and coming designers.  I was just as excited to spot artwork from folks I recognize like Joe Simko, Tim Doyle and  Jason Edmiston, as I was to be introduced to folks like Gary Pullin (contributing outstanding Teen Wolf and Street Trash posters), Laurie Shipley (with a great Revenge of the Cheerleaders piece), Rocco Malatesta (with a great eye for minimalism and spacial conceptualization in his Raging Bull piece) , and Ryan Luckoo (who did a phenomenal job with the Dark Knight Rises.)

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If you have a film buff, artist, or designer on your Christmas list this year, do yourself a favor and pick up Matthew Chojnacki’s Alternative Movie Posters: Film Art From the Underground (and while you’re at it, pick up a copy of Put the Needle on the Record too.)  You won’t be sorry you did!

 

Today is all about Power Packs…

The fine folks over at 8 Bit Zombie recently started selling sets of stickers, patches, and button in what they’re calling Power Packs.  I’ve been a fan of their clothing and retro themed items for awhile (Proud Member of their Kid’s Club!), so I jumped at the chance to snag one of these.  They come in two varieties, the Action Pack (pop culture theme) and the NES Pack (Video Gaming theme), but since I’m a regular old cartoon and movie nut at heart I went with the Action Pack…

So what wonders are contained in these rad sets?  Well, for starters, not only do you get the Power Pack, but 8bz is usually kind enough to throw in a bunch of other stickers and goodies including buttons, vintage trading cards (I snagged a sealed pack of Harry and the Hendersons cards!), and sometimes even M.U.S.C.L.E. minifigs.  As for the pack itself, this one was loaded with stickers and a couple awesome patches.  I love the 8BZ branding, so those were neat, but that Join Cobra patch is the bee’s freaking knees.  Honestly though, the main reason I picked up this pack was for the 5 Garbage Pail Kids inspired stickers featuring great illustrations of Robocop, The Goonies, and various other cartoon heroes and villains.  I’m a sucker for anything GPK related.

I was also lucky to snag one of their newly minted brass arcade tokens.  How awesome is that?  From now on when deciding between two places to eat out, screw heads and tails, it’ll be all Powergloves and 1-Up Coins!

Check them out at 8 Bit Zombie, and tell ‘em I sent ya!

It’s finally here, the 25th anniversary of the Goonies!

Well, it’s officially here, the 25th anniversary of the Goonies.  I feel kind of lucky that I was more or less at the perfect age for a flick like this (I was seven, just about to turn eight) where I could both identify perfectly with the gang.  Not only was I close in age to Data, Mikey, Chunk and Mouth, but I’d also just moved for the first time when I was old enough to be aware and to have hated the feeling of leaving behind friends and a comfortable neighborhood.  It was also the first in a string of similar movies with a group of adventuring kids that helped define my sensibilities at the time (including the Monster Squad, SpaceCamp, the Explorers, and Stand By Me.)

One of the things I’d like to point to before I get into the this last celebration post is a fan-made documentary that was created in conjunction with the 25th anniversary event that was held in Astoria, OR this past weekend.  Called The Making of a Cult Classic, this short film looks like it’s going to be an essential addition to any Goonies-centric collection.   You can watch the trailer and order a copy of the flick here.

One of the coolest aspects of the internet when it comes to nostalgia is the wealth of obscure information that gets floated around.  I can’t thank Sara Turner (of Cricket Press) enough for pointing me to a set of Drew Struzan’s Goonies poster variations…

I really dig these for a number of reasons, the main one is getting a chance to sneak a peek into Struzan’s process when it comes to illustration.  Sara mentioned this in her e-mail, that it’s really interesting to see Struzan changing up the line-up of the kids hanging off the stalactite, and it begs the question of how he approached it from a storytelling perspective.  On the one hand, he had to decide which of the kids should be front and center, not just as a main character from the movie, but in terms of the crazy situation he’s decided to draw them in.   Realistically it makes sense to have Brand as the leader in the chain because he’s the oldest, strongest and for all intents and purposes the most capable of the bunch.

But what I find kind of fascinating is how to continue the chain from there. Would it make more sense to have Mikey next seeing as they’re brothers and Mikey is the defacto leader of the Goonies?  Nope, instead he chose a theme of burgeoning relationships within the group and he added Andy next.  He also managed to keep the rest connected in a similar manner with Data and Chunk together (they’re probably the most independent in the group and would make a great duo), Mikey and Mouth connected (sort of the 1st and 2nd in command personality-wise) while also keeping Mouth and Stef together since they sort of have a “thing” in the flick.  Overall, it also makes a bit of sense to have Stef being up the rear as she’s the least connected to the overall group (since she’s Andy’s friend who is only hanging out with the group to be near Brand.)

So it’s kind of neat to get a glimpse into the rest of the possible variations (at least the variations of a character at the top of the chain.)  Struzan, overall, decided to keep the theme of inter-character relationships when rearranging the various chains.  With Mikey on top, Mouth comes next, followed by Stef, Brand, Andy, Data and Chunk.  Personally, I think I would have switched out Brand and Andy, showing that Andy is connected to both Brand and Stef, but that’s just me…

Even though having Mikey on top is probably the most sensible alternative to Brand in terms of story, I think the poster with Mouth on top makes a lot of sense from a business perspective.   Corey Feldman was probably the most accomplished of the Goonies when the flick came out and would probably have had the most face recognition (even though Josh Brolin did have the Brolin dynasty thing going on since his father was in the limelight with shows like Hotel and a string of popular flicks.)  It’s weird that again, Struzan kept the basic chain in order with Brand coming after Stef and before Andy.

   

Keeping this chain in mind, the Data variation is kind of interesting from a story stand point.  This is the one version that keeps all the core Goonies together.   I also like that Struzan played around with the rubble a bit and threw in Data’s spy peepers and possibly his compass as well…

   

Even though the Brand variation of the poster became the main theatrical version, all of the other made their way into print in the various newspaper announcements in the theater section.  Im not sure if these variations were handed out to the same papers so that they could choose or so that they could change it up each week of the flick’s theatrical run, but it’s neat that they all eventually made it into the public.

Well, that’s it for the Branded in the 80s week-long Goonies celebration.  There are only two more years until the 25th anniversary of the Monster Squad rolls around, so I’d better start putting something together for that!

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