Tag Archives: Star Wars

Of new homes and AT-STs…

The more time I spend gliding through this wondrous existence I can’t help but keep coming back to this underlying thread of kismet that has ruled my pop culture collecting.  Not trying to toot my own horn here, but I try my very hardest to put out as many good vibes as I can into the collecting and nostalgia community as I can afford.  I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t get satisfaction from sharing my collection, through this site and often just sending out pieces to those that I find are looking.  The point is, that I enjoy sharing the love so to speak, and every so often, that love comes back my way and for that I am grateful.

A few year ago I wrote a little bit about my childhood experience with a very particular Star Wars toy, the AT-ST Scout Walker released by Kenner back in 1983.  As I mentioned in that piece my family was uprooting itself from Tampa, Florida and the 1st home that I spent any substantial time in.  My father had landed a new job a couple of hours east in Orlando, and we were in the midst of packing everything up.  I was preparing to leave behind everything that I knew, five years worth of friends, secret short-cuts throughout the neighborhood, and the only house I could remember.  It felt like a pretty big deal at the time, I’d just turned six and hadn’t realized that moving was something that people did.

house in tampa

Before we completely pulled up stakes and left Tampa for good, we took a couple of exploratory trips to the suburbs of Orlando looking for a new house.  Again, this idea was pretty alien to me, and we ended up going to a series of house showings that had a very weird effect on me, in particular I was introduced the concept of coveting other people’s junk.  There were a couple of experiences I had during these trips that had a pretty big impact on me as a kid.  Growing up in the small neighborhood in Tampa we our family lived often times felt very communal.  For instance, there was an old couple at the far end of our oval-shaped development that had a pool that was open to all the neighborhood kids.  All you had to do was knock on their door and ask and you could swim to your heart’s content.  It also seemed like all of the friends I had at the time were really good about sharing our toys.  We were always borrowing each other’s Star Wars or Masters of the Universe figures with little to no squabbling (like in the picture below where I can be seen holding a friend’s Millennium Falcon with joy.)


But the first time we scheduled a house showing at a home that was still occupied by the family trying to sell it, well, that’s when I first started to covet.  What was the object of my affection?  A lone Star Wars AT-ST Scout Walker toy that was perched up on a chest of drawers in the kid’s room in the house we were walking through.  Being six, the thought hadn’t occurred to me that the stuff in the house wasn’t part of the bargain.  In fact, I spent the next three hours trying to convince my parents that out of all the houses we’d looked through to that point, this last one was obviously the one we should go with.  I mean it was two stories, had hardwoo…screw it, it was because there was an AT-ST in one of the rooms that I really freaking wanted.  After it was explained to me that buying a house didn’t quite work the way I’d hoped (and boy was I a tad relieved when they pointed out that if it had I’d be losing all MY STUFF to some other kid), I was a little crushed.  Getting to have Hungry Howie’s Pizza later that night really didn’t make it better.  Getting to listen to my Michael Jackson Thriller tape on infinite repeat during the two hour trip back to Tampa only helped a little.


That one encounter in some strange kid’s room was the only time I ever saw an AT-ST toy in real life.  None of my friends had one, and none of the friends I’d eventually make in Orlando did either.  As much as I wanted one, it was six months until Christmas, and in kid time comprehension that was like years.  So I’m pretty sure that I let it slip from my mind, and by the time Christmas of 1983 rolled around I was probably begging for some other toy that had caught my eye.  If I have to be honest I’ve always sort of had an AT-ST-shaped hole in my heart over the years though.  I never sought it out, mainly because by the time that I was starting to have nostalgic pangs for old Star Wars toys they were already becoming collector’s items and were way outside of my budget.  But also, as I’ve mentioned in the past, there’s this idea I subscribe to, that the hunt is more than half of the thrill of collecting.  Somewhere in the back of my mind I think I knew that I should just hold off.

Then, in an amazing turn of kismet, everything changed recently.  First off, over the past year I’ve been working incredibly hard with my fiancee to save up a nest egg that we could use to buy a house.  It’s my first time as a home buyer (and not just a goofy little kid tagging along with his family looking for one), and this would be the first honest to goodness house that I’d be living in since the early 90s, back when I was in high school and my family lost ours when we had to downgrade after a rough patch.  The idea of finally biting the bullet and buying a house terrified me as I’d become more than accustomed to living in apartments, but the time was finally right and all of the pieces were starting to fall into place.  It was an amazingly hard process where we pretty much had to deal with every possible thing that could go wrong (buyers on my fiancee’s town-home pulling out at a week before closing, contracts on houses that had Tom Hanks The Money Pit level hidden problems, and shyster real estate agents that were stealing thousands of dollars from us.)  But at the end of the day we finally found the home of our dreams and for the first time in 23 years I was living in a house again…


It’s a little rough around the edges and needs some TLC, but we love it.  At the same time that we were hip deep in this process and not sure whether or not we’d even end up in a house, I received a very kind e-mail from a reader in the UK named Andrew who had stumbled upon the original piece I’d written about my childhood lust for the Star Wars AT-ST Scout Walker toy.  It just so happened that he was looking to part with his childhood AT-ST and we made arrangements to give it a new home here in the States.  Something about the timing of this filled me with a metric ton of hope while facing off against all the house buying pitfalls we were experiencing.  I just knew that this was all meant to be, again, that the pieces were all falling in place, and that for the second time in my life, while house-hunting I was encountering this specific Star Wars toy!

Long story short, just after moving into our new house, Andrew’s gift arrived safe and sound at its new home (my office) where it will be loved and displayed proudly at Branded in the 80s HQ…


AT-ST-3   AT-ST-2

Don’t think I can thank Andrew enough for this gift and for convincing me that the best practice is to keep putting out as much positive energy and actions out into the world.  Some day, if I’m patient and lucky, lady kismet will make sure that all my pop culture desires are met, and then some!

My tiny weird Star Wars collection…

Nostalgia is such a weird beast that pulls me in some very strange directions. When it comes to collecting and impulse buys I find that I am consistently picking up some very unconventional items like being drawn to collecting 80s stickers and sticker-collecting ephemera including hobby magazines and old photo albums that had been used to house vintage collections.  Then a few years later I was building a rather large collection of old “mom magazines” (stuff like Working Woman, Woman’s Day and McCalls) because I felt a strong urge to find pictures of old household products in advertisements and stuff.  And let me just say that I have found some pretty amazing advertisements in those magazines like this badass Return of the Jedi jungle gym play set!


Lately my attention has been focused on old school supplies (vintage Pentel mechanical pencils, Trapper Keepers, and old school folders.)   At the end of the day what I’m really seeking is that gut-punch feeling I get when I see something that very strongly reminds me of my childhood.  Sure, vintage toys and releases of old cartoons and sitcoms on DVD are cool, but the smell of a specific kind of Trend scratch and sniff sticker or the sound the Velcro makes on a Trapper Keeper flap is so vivid and clear that it’s like stepping back in time.

So when I stumbled across a gentleman that was selling mint, in-package vintage Star Wars Return of the Jedi Oral-B toothbrushes and perfectly stored empty boxes of Star Wars Pepperidge Farms cookies I didn’t hesitate and immediately plunked down $30 to reclaim a few tiny pieces of my childhood that really should not exist anymore.  Before I forget, everyone hunting for vintage toys should totally check out @FarToys_Vintage for some great stuff!


I’m pretty sure I’ve brought this up in the past, but it still dumbfounds and amazes me that some of this stuff is still bouncing around in people’s pop culture and ephemera collections.  I mean these two Star Wars Return of the Jedi cookie boxes are the definition of trash.  I mean thousands if not hundreds of thousands of these boxes were purchased by parents around the country (even world maybe?), the cookies were eaten, and then the boxes were unceremoniously thrown in the garbage.  Who in the hell had the presence of mind to think, “Hey, I should hold onto these because 30 years from now there will be a dude who will give me $20 for these two cookie boxes.”

Granted, I know that there is/was a craze for collecting anything Star Wars related and that makes the fact that these were carefully flattened and shelved for three decades a little easier to understand.  I mean, hell, I was so into the Tim Burton Batman flick that I distinctly remember filling a short comic book box with every scrap of Batman-related anything that I could get my hands on, up to and including a full sealed box of Batman cereal (the one shrink-wrapped with the creepy Batman coin bank.)  But even though I was a rabid collector that box only stayed in my collection for a few years before it eventually ended up in the trash.

batman-cerealSimilarly, who was buying up Oral-B Star Wars toothbrushes back in 1983 and storing them in their original packaging for posterity?  Now I don’t want to come across as mocking, because as this article points out I not only bought these 30 years later, but and very, very happy that they still exist.  I just can’t help wondering how I can even be in a position to buy these things.

Anyway, on to these miracle treasures that I’ve recently been able to reconnect with.  The first item that I stumbled across was the Oral-B toothbrush.  I can so distinctly remember the day my mom bought me one of these back in 1983.  I’d already seen the movie a couple of times in the theater and I was still practically begging her to take me back to see it again.  It was a rainy overcast day in central FL and I remember driving down a back road to a local Drug Emporium in my mom’s copper-colored Mazda 626.  Though I have no proof of this I would swear that I was wearing my awesome blue Empire Strikes Back Darth Vader iron-on T-shirt as I pretty much had Star Wars on the brain 24/7 that year.


I remember walking into the store with my mom, feeling how weirdly slick the low-pile carpeting felt underneath my Buster Browns, and then making a b-line to an aisle that had a bunch of candy and toys.  As my mom went in the back to fill a prescription I was making my way up and down the aisles scanning the shelves for anything of interest when I stopped dead in my tracks in the toothpaste section. There on a set of pegs were a bunch of colorful slim boxes with a very family logo and bunch of characters that I practically thought were my real life friends (and enemies.)  Holy crap, there were Star Wars toothbrushes and I had to have one.  I hated brushing my teeth (what kid doesn’t?) and had recently gotten into the practice of counting to counting to 60 out loud in mushy toothpaste mouth to know exactly when I could stop scrubbing.  Immediately my mind started compiling all the reasons why a Luke Skywalker toothbrush would solve all of my (and my parent’s) frustration with at bedtime as I would now love brushing my teeth.


I’m not sure exactly how eloquent I made the argument, but that day I went home with an awesome shiny red brush with my hero, Luke Skywalker, painted on the handle.  As a very predictable postscript to this story the toothbrush did absolutely nothing to enliven my brushing experience and I’m sure I was just as cranky every night at 9:00pm as I ever was.  Either way, that day in the Drug Emporium was burnt into my brain and when I saw a mint in box toothbrush pop up in my instagram feed I absolutely had to have it.  Now, the only question that remains, and it’s a question that’s subconsciously plagued me since that fateful day, why did the designer of this series choose red as the color of the packaging and brush?  Why wasn’t it green like his lightsaber in that third movie?  There was also a Darth Vader brush in the set.  Why wasn’t that one red?


The whole ad campaign for these was pretty awesome considering they were just cheap toothbrushes.  There were posters produced, as well as activity books and even an official plaque-fighting club that you could join!


Moving on to the second nostalgia gut punch.  About a week after I picked up the toothbrush from Faraway Toys on instagram, he blew me away again by offering up a set of two Pepperidge Farms Star Wars Return of the Jedi cookie boxes.  Holy hell did I ever eat my weight in these as a kid.  If memory serves they weren’t even that good, but anything edible and shaped like Chewbacca, Admiral Ackbar, and Luke Skywalker was a favorite.  These came in three varieties, Peanut Butter, Vanilla, and Chocolate (the latter being offered exclusively in the “dark side” villain character shapes.)  Though I remember the dry, crumbly cookies coming in a foil bag inside these boxes, I don’t really have any specific memories of eating them.  I just know that I did because I can recall almost every aspect of these boxes that I undoubtedly poured over while munching on the cookies.  I was always a food container reader, something that I continue to this day.


No matter how these things ended up surviving, I can’t thank @FarToys_Vintage enough for allowing me to reconnect with some very obscure treasures from my past.

What’s your favorite weird tiny nostalgic collection?

Awesome 80s Bedrooms: Who’s the Boss Edition

While writing about a bunch of these awesome bedrooms from 80s movies I figured at some point, if I want to keep finding new rooms to deconstruct I’d eventually have to branch out into TV series as well.  I was actually kind of psyched about this because I remember there being some amazing bedrooms in shows like Silver Spoons and Punky Brewster, and while both of those series do feature neat bedrooms (Rickey has a race car bed and Punky slept in a freaking wheel barrow/carriage) surprisingly there really is little to no actual pop culture junk to dissect.  Then the other night the girlfriend and I were watching some old episodes of Who’s the Boss when a bunch of fun stuff caught my eye in Johnathan’s room.  Enough that I felt like it warranted a bit more examination, so let’s take a closer look at Johnathan Bower’s awesome bedroom…



As you can see in the screenshot above the majority of the stuff in Johnathan’s room is pretty generic kid’s junk ranging from the super cheapo carnival stuffed animals to over-sized novelty sunglasses.  But the Darth Vader Star Wars action figure carrying case caught my eye which is what prompted me to take a closer look at the room, so let’s start there…


1). Kenner Darth Vader Star Wars Collector’s Case from 1980


2). Giant Crayola Crayon Plastic Novelty Coin Bank

Crayola Crayon Bank

3). Imperial Dragons & Daggers Battle Sword from 1983

imperial-1983-dragons and daggers battle sword

If ever there was a product in the 80s that I coveted hard core and never managed to procure it was those damn giant crayon banks.  At some point I managed to get my hands on a giant Coke bottle bank, but what I really wanted was the crayon bank because they looked so cool.  I remember seeing over-sized stuff like this in flicks like The toy, Big, and Jumpin’ Jack Flash and for some reason felt like my life wouldn’t be complete without one.  Guess I managed to survive alright though.  As for that Imperial Battle Sword, one of the set designers must of loved that line of toys because as you can see in this next shot Johnathan had practically one of every release from that series…


4). Imperial Dragons, Knight & Daggers Sabretooth Serpent from 1983

imperial dragons knights and beasts sabertooth serpent

imperial dragons knights and beasts sabertooth serpent 2

5). Imperial Dragons, Knight & Daggers Battle Beast from 1983

imperial dragons knights and beasts battle beast

6). Imperial Dragons & Daggers Fantasy Creatures from 1983

imperial-1983-fantasy creature 2

imperial-1983-fantasy creature 1

7). Imperial Dragons, Knight & Daggers Rhino Revenger from 1983

imperial dragons knights and beasts rhino_avenger

From what I can gather on these Imperial fantasy toys, they all came in multiple color combinations, so there were green and orange Sabretooth Serpents with red saddles as well as Purple and blue with gold (or red) saddles, and ever combo in between.  Any which way you cut it these were cheaper Masters of the Universe knock-offs that are pretty damn awesome for what they are.  Basically they were designed to be interchangeable with the MOTU figures as animal beast accessories that all came advertised with “12 Warrior Weapons” that you could use for your existing Masters figures.  Kind of ingenious.

Speaking of Masters of the Universe, the last main thing I wanted to point out in Johnathan’s room is a pretty super rare sought after item….


8). Spectra Star Trap Jaw Kite from 1982

MOTU spectra star kites

These Spectra Star kites were freaking awesome and featured an almost 5 foot full body version of the character.  I love that Johnathan has his hanging on his wall (as it’s what I would do with one if I could get my hands on a cheap one now.)  From time to time you see the He-Man and Skeletor kites pop up on ebay, but I’ve never seen a Trap Jaw.

Huge thanks to Liz Vitale from the rad Puppatoons site for identifying a couple more toys!  When it comes to stuff like plush dolls and horses, unless they’re Ewoks or 30-30 from Bravestarr I’m pretty clueless, so thanks Liz for adding a bit more info!  Here they are…


9). JC Penny Exclusive Breyer Chestnut Stallion from 1982

Bryer Stallion 1983

10). Giant Pink stuffed Snake from Kay Bee Toys

Pink Stuffed Snake from Kaybee Toys

Be sure to check out all the other Awesome 80s Bedrooms I’ve deconstructed

Awkward Toy Family Photos…

Though I’ve been more or less away from the site for the last few months, I’ve still been mucking about with some geeky nostalgic stuff.  In particular I’ve been having some fun on Instagram taking a series of photos of my current toy collection.  Since I’ve broken down and started picking up some more vintage toys lately (ones that I used to own not mint on card or in box), as well as picking up some modern nostalgic figures here and there, I thought it would be cool to jumble these up and create some goofy Awkward Toy Family photos to document the collection.  That’s one of the things that I enjoy about Instagram is that it only takes a few minutes to grab a few toys from the shelf and snap a picture before heading out to work.  It’s never going to replace Branded, but when I’ve got a crap ton of real life things eradicating my time to write, it’s a great way to still feel engaged. So, with that in mind, here are some of the photos I’ve shot over the summer…


This is one of the first I shot, and it was just totally on a whim.  I love the idea of Faker giving piggyback rides.  My good buddy HooveR had sent me this Captain Power figure and that small act of kindness is pretty much what helped me break through my aversion to procuring loose, used, old toys.  I had forgotten how cool the Captain figure was and had a blast pairing him up with my Masters of the Universe figures, so I just said “screw it” and started hitting up eBay.  So thanks Hoov! ;)


Speaking of the Captain, here’s a photo for a failed 80s band that could never reproduce the popularity of their first and only major label record.  Emmdubs, a swell dude I follow on the social media was kind enough to send me his old Miles Mayhem figure, and I had just recently picked up that sweet Tux Go Bot mint on card at a local antique shop for only $7.


I envisioned this photo as three hard working dudes getting together after a tough day of doing whatever jobs requires wearing these cumbersome masks.  Emmdubs has also sent me this Matt Tracker figure, and I went ahead and pulled the trigger on two of my favorite childhood action figures from the Star Wars and G.I. Joe lines (the AT-AT Driver and Wet Suit.)


Next up is my cadre of feathered heroes including Quicksilver from the Silverhawks (the only Silverhawks figure I owned as a kid), Jason from Battle of the Planets, and Gizmoduck from DuckTales.  I had this GD cereal premium as a teen and cherished it so much that I turned it into a lucky necklace and wore it to my high school graduation.  Some ridiculous teacher saw it and snatched it away from me and I never found her to get it back.  By the by, man is it ever hard to find a decent condition Silverhawks figure.  The chrome plating wears off so easily so 97% of the loose figures I’ve seen look terrible.  Took forever to find this one…


Here’s a weird toy robot family photo including my all time favorite Transformer Sideswipe, Cliffjumper, a cool Decoy of Smokescreen, and my favorite Go Bots toy, the Super Go Bot Psycho!


Switching gears a bit, here’s a picture of some of my favorite childhood motorcycles (Sly and Piranha & Brad Turner and Condor from M.A.S.K. along with Afterburner from the Transformers.)


Here’s another early one that I’ve posted before featuring a D&D Wardule, Tonto from the Gabriel Lone Ranger line and a demon from Blackstar.


For those of you who are longtime readers you’ll know that I love Robo Force and I REALLY love their sweet hugging action feature…


Remember that time He-Man and Teela ended up in the spirit world and really needed some help getting the new tenants of Castle Greyskull to move out?  Beetlejuice was not the greatest option, but they had to try…


Some of my favorite super hungry and ornery aliens and ghosts!


Hands down, my favorite G.I. Joe figure had to be Dial Tone.  Such an under appreciated figure and character.  He’s posing with a sweet water color portrait by the kickass Christopher Tupa!


I also ran across some of my Micro Machines star wars tiny mini figures, so I did a couple of shoots with them and their larger counterparts.  Admiral Ackbar can not repel cuteness of that magnitude!  As for the Gamorean Guard and Greedo, I think the guard got the better end of this trade by far…


And speaking of Greedo, last but not least, Greedo playing Space Invaders (which was what I was fiddling with while recording a recent episode of the Nerd Lunch podcast with the Retroist as a guest…)


So check me out over on instagram.  I try and post regularly and do my best to keep it fun!


Geeky Valentines weekend shenanigans

This past weekend my girlfriend Jaime and I took the opportunity of some downtime to check out a couple of cool sites in and around Baltimore.  I’m still seeing a lot of the city for the first time and we lucked into a pair of free tickets to Geppi’s Entertainment Museum right across the street from the Orioles Stadium, so we thought it would be fun to head downtown and check it out.  I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect.  I only heard the words comic museum and toys, but I was intrigued.  When we pulled up to the building on Saturday morning it was a little unassuming, but as soon as you walk inside you’re bombarded by large-scale banners of all sorts of pop culture fun from 50s era tin toys to recreations of famous comic covers done in a more modern style.  Once you get past the front desk you’re greeted by an amazing hallway covered from floor to ceiling with rare film one-sheets, product merchandising ephemera, and some pretty inspiring artwork (including a couple breathtaking conceptual pieces from the ’66 era Batman TV series!


The museum is broken up into a series of seven or eight individual exhibits including a comic book retrospective, a turn of the century comic strip showcase, a local Baltimore pop culture collection, a collectible and art show centered on African American works, and a number of rooms full to the brim of collectibles and antiques divided by decade.  There’s so much amazing stuff on display that you could probably spend an hour in each of the rooms and not see everything in one visit.  The comic retrospective alone is worth the price of admission as there are some truly “amazing” pieces in the collection including copies of Amazing Fantasy #15 and Action Comics #1!


shawn Jaime

In addition to some of the heavy hitter powerhouse comics above, there was a really nice collection of 50s & 60s era EC, Atlas, and Dell comics, as well as a bunch of those really cool mini hardcover digests from the 30s and 40s featuring The Shadow, Buck Rogers, and Tarzan.  There were some nice Esiner Spirit inserts which I’ve also never seen in person before.  I loved getting a chance to see some of the rarer formative books in person for the first time, but it was also rad to see copies of more modern books like issue one of Eastman & Laird’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or the wall of 90s era books featuring all sorts of gimmicks and cover enhancements (that I bought into back in the day hook, line, and sinker!)

In the comic strip exhibit I was a little bummed that there were no copies of Little Nemo in Slumberland, but there was a surprise that totally made up for it.  I was really excited to see a couple of Winsor McCay Gertie the Dinosaur drawings.  I mean talk about animation history!


All of the comic book stuff was really neat, but the rooms where my eyes really lit up were the rooms dedicated to pop culture collectibles and toys.  From Disney, Popeye, and Little Orphan Annie all the way to the Transformers, Masters of the Universe and (gasp!) Vanilla Ice, there was something for everyone on display.  


Some of my favorite older pieces included a LOA decoder pin (which of course elicited a series of A Christmas Story quotes from both Jaime and I) and a really nice collection of vintage PEZ dispensers (featuring three of my favorite Universal Monsters)…


There was also a display of Monkees memorabilia, teen magazines and and a sweet insulated lunchbox that I would have killed for as a kid.  I grew up watching the series on Nickelodeon and for all intents and purposes they were my first favorite band (with a little competition form the Beach Boys and Weird Al.)


As far as the more recent stuff, the toys and collectibles that I have some true nostalgia for, Geppi’s did not disappoint.  Though I wouldn’t call the collection exhaustive, it was diverse enough to be really fun and it featured items that don’t tend to get the same spotlight shown on them.  So whereas they had a very nice mint in package Transformers Jetfire, as well as an Optimus Prime and Grimlock, I was honestly more excited to see their collection of Super Friends (Nabisco) and Star Wars cookie and cereal boxes!  I remember collecting the Super Friends boxes for awhile around the time that the first Burton Batman film hit theaters…


There was also a nice collection of vintage MOC Dukes of Hazzard toys.  Not quite as obscure, but still not as popular as the Transformers.


I loved seeing these because of it just drives home how cool the impending Funko/Super7 ReAction figures are that are about to start hitting the pegs.   In addition to all this there were also some weirder pieces and arrangements in the collection that showcased the sense of humor of the curators.  Whether it was the BFF placement of the Buger King and Ronald McDonald or the oddly suggestive C3P0 tape dispenser, Geppi’s surely has a lighter side to their exhibits…

best buds


If you’re in the Baltimore area and you want a fun place to spend and afternoon I’d highly suggest stopping into Geppi’s Entertainment museum.  There’s a to to see and they also have a pretty decent pop culture gift shop.  I could leave with out a swell ThunderCats Mumm-ra vinyl Funko Pop figure!

On Sunday we braved the icy streets and made our way further south into Washington, DC, specifically the Georgetown area so that we could visit a cinematic landmark I’ve wanted to see for a long time.  For those of you that are horror fans, you’ve probably already figured out what I’m talking about by the mere suggestion of film and georgetown, but for those who might not know, The Exorcist was filmed in and around this area back in 1972.  I’ve wanted to visit this town and walk the staircase where Father Karras took his fatal plunge in the film…

excorcist 2

Let me just say that picking the dead of winter to visit this site was a precarious decision indeed.  The streets leading to the steps were on steep hills and coated in inches of thick slippery ice.  Luckily the steps themselves were pretty much ice-free, so we could still traverse them.  Also, in an odd turn of events, Jaime had secretly cued up the Exorcist theme so she could be set to play it as we walked the staircase, and before she could actually play it it automatically started playing as we approached it!  Maybe there’s a weird hidden glitch where based on your GPS Spotify will surprise you with rad music cues.  Or maybe Pazuzu possessed her phone :p

excorsist 1

All in all is was an amazing Valentines day weekend…

Awesome 80s Bedrooms: E.T. Edition…

It’s been a few weeks since I sat down and got all OCD combing through a DVD looking for an awesome 80s bedroom.  Last night I popped my special edition of E.T. the Extra Terrestrial into the computer and spent a couple hours staring at Ellitot’s room looking for some fun stuff to talk about.  At first I was a little disappointed because so many of the scenes were in silhouette, but with a quick finger on the pause button I managed to find some nice shots with a lot of fun junk lying around, in particular I realized that Elliott has a favorite comic book hero that I never noticed before!

ET One Sheet

So, with any Spielberg flick from this period there is always going to nods to Star Wars, and E.T. is no exception, but there are a lot of other interesting things lying around Elliott’s room…

ET 1

1). Star Worlds Planetarium playset


2). Coors Beer baseball cap (because you know, drunk E.T. and Coors is totally the official beer of earnest sci-fi flicks…)

3). Viewmaster Theater projector by GAF


4). Star Wars Hoth Turret and Imperial Probe Droid playset

Turret and Probot

5). Han Solo’s Blaster

Han Solo Laser Pistol

One of the things I love about Elliott’s room is all of the little items that represent space travel, be it the plethora of Star Wars toys, the space shuttle hanging from his ceiling (in a later screen shot) or his planetarium play set.  It’s subtle for sure, but still welcome for a movie about meeting an alien.

ET 2

6). Star Wars Greedo action figure

Star Wars Greedo

7). Captain America Pez dispenser

Captain America Pez

8). Frozen Moments fake spilled can of Coke

9). “Jaws” shark pincher/grabber wand

Shark Pincher

10). Star Wars 2-1B Medic Droid (in the football helmet)

Star Wars 2-1B

So, I have to assume that the shark pincher wand was an in-joke/reference to Jaws right?  There are a lot of Star Wars figures scattered around on Elliott’s desk, but these are the only two we get to see clearly and not just in silhouette.  Also, the Pez dispenser was a bitch to identify.  Even though Elliott holds it up to E.T. to show him how to fill and eat the candy there’s only a split second or two where there’s enough light to identify it.  Also, this is not the favorite super hero I alluded to before.  That’s still to come…

ET 3

11). Star Wars X-Wing Fighter

Star Wars X-Wing

12). Darth Vader’s Tie Fighter

Star Wars Darth Vader Tie Fighter

13). Incredible Hulk Poster

So, as I started to pay closer attention to the set dressing in E.T. I started to notice a lot of Incredible Hulk items hanging around.  Granted, this was smack in the middle of the character’s popularity thanks to the Bixby/Ferrigno TV show, but I like to image Elliott being a huge fan of the Hulk because he was a middle child and always seemed like he was being put down by his brother and all his friends.  Like maybe he identified with that inner rage or something.  Anyway, there are a couple of other toys in the above screenshot, the aforementioned space shuttle and another toy hanging from the ceiling at the top right of the frame that I can’t identify…

ET 4

14). Elvis Costello poster (so Elliott has good taste in music)

15). Weird dart board cabinet.  Artful Dodger Dartboard Cabinet (see update below)

16). Mighty Marvel Incredible Hulk Glowplate light switch cover

Might Marvel Glowplate

17). Star Wars Tie Fighter

Star Wars Tie Fighter

Alright, the dart board cabinet.  The main reason I pointed to this is that I’d love to find out what that weird Jack the Ripper-looking design is on the cabinet (MYSTERY SOLVED!)  Also, there’s an weird amount of dart boards in Elliott’s room!  Not only does he have this cabinet on the wall but there’s an additional dart board to the left.  Also, that other dart board?  It changes through out the film.  There’s another design that’s strictly black and white that’s hanging in other scenes (which you can see in the screenshot with items 6-10 above.)

ET 5

18). Star Wars Hammerhead Action figure (as well as Snaggletooth, Walrusman, Lando Calrissian, and Boba Fett.)

Star Wars Hammerhead

I didn’t want to clutter this will all of the screenshots detailing the various Star Wars figures Elliott shows E.T. in silhouette, but they’re all listed above.

ET 6

19). Star Wars Darth Vader’s Star Destroyer Playset

Star Wars Darth Vaders Star Destroyer Playset

20). Stratego and Chutes & Ladders board games (as well as a Lego set to the right of those)

In the screenshot above there is a weird looking clown/egg head toy that I can’t identify.  The nose lights up and there’s a tuft of hair that pops up and down as well, but I’ve never seen it before and couldn’t figure it out from google.  Anyone know what this freakish thing is? 

*Updated*  I finally freaking figured out what that egg headed toy is, it’s a 1981 Flippo Sonic Control Clown Head toy!


Also, there’s one additional Star Wars item, a Tauntaun up high on a shelf with some wooden dinosaur puzzle toys…

Okay, one last cool item that’s not technically in Elliott’s room, but goes to proving his love for the Incredible Hulk…

ET 7

21). Incredible Hulk Sleeping Bag

Hulk Sleeping Bag

I think part of the reason that discovering all of this Hulk merchandise in Elliott’s room made me so happy is that I was a pretty big fan of the character at the time too.  That TV show had a huge impact on me and I remember begging my mom for the Ben Cooper costume for Halloween around this time as well as having my own Hulk Sleeping bag and Hulk plush toy (that had velcro hands so you could make him hug your arm…)

While I’m talking about E.T. and stuff I noticed in the background, there’s another little thing that I noticed during the opening scenes with all the kids in the house playing Dungeons & Dragons.  It’s just a little thing but I noticed that C. Thomas Howell is smoking while they’re playing, but it’s only in a quick shot and the cigarette and ashtray disappear pretty quickly…

ET Smoke

I wonder if that was a mistake, like Spielberg didn’t intent for it to end up in the film, or was it placed to show the kids being a little rebellious?


I recently had the opportunity to catch E.T. on the big screen so I took extra special care to keep an eye out for details in Elliot’s room since I’d been having so much fun analyzing the bedrooms in 80s kid’s flicks recently. First of all, when I originally dissected the room there was a weird dart board cabinet that I couldn’t identify (number 15 in the above screen shot…) Well, it was as plain as day on the big screen. #15 is in fact an Artful Dodger dart board cabinet from Oliver Twist!

artful dodger

Now that I’ve identified that it doesn’t do much to explain why the Artful Dodger is on a dart board cabinet, but still, mystery solved. In addition to this I also noticed some more toys in Elliot’s room, as well as in their living room!

ET 1

1). Chutes and Ladders boardgame

2). Magic 8 Ball


3). Lego Universal Building Set

4). Empire Strikes Back Twin-Pod Cloud Car

cloud car

5). Super Simon Electronic Game

super simon

Though the Super Simon box is in the screen shot above (in Elliot’s room), the game itself is actually on a shelf in the living room…

ET 2

But for the first time I noticed that there are also some other fun things in the living room like…

6). An Atari 2600

7). Big Trak from Milton Bradley

big trax

There were also a bunch of other small, fun things I noticed throughout the film. Little details, like how John Williams drops into Yoda’s Theme for a could of beats during the Halloween scene when E.T. sees a kid dressed up in a Don Post Yoda mask…

ET 3

…or the fact that Dee Wallace is wearing a really weird handgun pin on her vest in one sequence…

ET 4

Sure, these things haven’t radically changed my outlook on the film, but any time I have the opportunity to learn something new about a film I thought I knew everything about, well that’s worth a full-priced movie ticket if you ask me.

So, anything I missed?

Other Awesome Bedrooms I’ve covered…

Sara’s Room from Adventures in Babysitting

Eugene’s Room from The Monster Squad

Mikey’s room from the Goonies

David’s room from Flight of the Navigator

Robbie’s room from Poltergeist

Ben’s room from The Explorers

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

Fred Savage’s room from The Princess Bride

Josh’s room from Big

Halloween Hangover: Robbie’s Room from Poltergeist

Well another Halloween season has come and gone, but I’m not quite ready for it to complete move on.  I’d intended to post more during the month, but like always life got in the way and blah blah blah.  You know what it’s like.  So, as a little bit of an extra Halloween-y goodie I thought it’d be fun to take a closer look at another pop culture bedroom (I examined rooms from The Monster Squad and Adventures in Babysitting earlier in the year), this time Robbie and Carol Anne’s room from Poltergeist!


Now I’m going to concentrate on Robbie’s half of the room because honestly Carol A\nne’s side was pretty darn sparse and boring.  Seriously, there’s just nothing to it, see…

Poltergeist 3

I mean there’s that cow poster, a Precious Moments poster, and that baby carriage, but I’m falling asleep just listing that stuff.  Robbie’s side of the room on the the other hand is chock full of all kinds of 80s era awesome.  I mean just check out this one screen shot!

Poltergeist 8

Alright, let’s break this room down…

1). Darth Vader Action Figure Carrying case.


2). Toys ‘R Us Geoffrey Sleeping Bag.

3). Speak & Spell.


4). Empire Strike Back Host Laser Turret and Imperial Probe Droid playset

Turret and Probot

5). Star Wars Tie Fighter.

tie 2

6). Poster from the movie Alien.


7). Star Wars bedsheets.

That is a whole lot of awesome for just one scene in the film, and that’s not even counting the stuff that I can’t identify (like that blue robot thing on the floor just to the right of his mom or the weird 1988 Superbowl Champion poster above his bed that makes no sense considering the movie was released in 1982!)  First off, I have to say that it’s pretty cool that Robbie was such a huge fan of Star Wars, though I guess that was pretty indicative of every other kid from the time.  I know I had a metric ton of Star Wars toys by this time including those sheets.

**Update**  Thanks to Esteban from the Roboplastic Apocalypse for identifying the blue robot as Karrio, the Micronauts carrying case!



It’s also not even half of the SW stuff in his room…

Poltergeist 5

In fact, here’s some more in the above screenshot.

8). Star Wars A New Hope poster.

9). Yoda Hand Puppet.


10). Taun Taun and various Star Wars action figures (including Tatooine Luke, Hoth Han Solo, FX-7 Medical Droid, and R2-D2)


While collecting screenshots of Robbie’s room it was kind of neat to notice that the toys on the shelf behind his bed kept moving around from scene to scene so either they were always getting knocked over or Oliver Robins was having fun playing with them between takes!

Here’s one last screenshot with yet more Star Wars stuff!

Poltergeist 9

11). C3-P0 and R2-D2 poster (it’s dark in the screenshot, but trust me, I’ve stared at it long enough to recognize them.)

12). Darth Vader poster.

13). Bert & Ernie poster.

14). Kick ass Chewbacca jacket!

So, anything I missed?

Other Awesome Bedrooms I’ve covered…

Sara’s Room from Adventures in Babysitting

Eugene’s Room from The Monster Squad

Mikey’s room from the Goonies

David’s room from Flight of the Navigator

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

Mourning the Loss of a DVD Player with the Illegitimate Child of Maria and C3P0…

So, as I mentioned earlier in the week my DVD player of the last decade decided to go and die on me, and it’s been more or less in the forefront of my mind.  See, I don’t subscribe to a cable service and my TV is sort of ancient, so I’m not readily streaming Netflix to it or anything.  I’m sort of at a crossroads since I have to make a decent-sized purchase.  Do I get an el cheapo DVD player or do I finally pop for a Blu-Ray player?  If I buy a Blu-Ray, shouldn’t I get an HD TV as well?  Stands to reason right?  While thinking about my options I was thumbing through some 32 year-old issues of People magazine that a very gracious co-worker recently gave me and I stumbled upon a pretty nifty Hitachi VCR advertisement.  What does all this have to do with this week’s League assignment?  Well, this week’s theme just happens to be robots, and the ad features a pretty awesome looking droid…

Hitachi Ad 1981 Small

This sad little guy was introduced in 1981 during the beginning of the Home Video boom.  Folks were starting to adopt the technology, and as with any expensive electronics purchase long-lasting equipment was top on many consumer’s lists of desirable qualities.  Trust me, I’m debating that same question right now.  I’m still of the ilk who looks for hardware that will make it in the long haul.  My TV is almost old enough to enlist, and I have a boombox that’s been able to vote for as many presidents as I have!  Sigh.  I’m slowly being pulled, kicking and screaming, into the new millennium.

Back to this Hitachi robot pitchman.  Not only was he featured in their print campaign, but he was also in their TV commercials, like this from the same year.  Also, It doesn’t escape me that the design of the Hitachibot looks a hell of a lot like C3P0 and Maria from Metropolis had an illegitimate kid who never quite reached the peaks of success that his parents did…


If I had to guess, I’d bet he was probably hanging out with other robotic flash-in-the-pans like Twiki from Buck Rogers and Vicki from Small Wonder, sucking down antifreeze and boosting car batteries for fun and profit…

Wondering what the other League members are talking about?  Well, transform and roll out to some of these sites…

Rich, The Nerd Nook, lists his top 10 favorite pop culture bots!

Goodwill Geek, Goodwill Hunting 4 Geeks, breaks out his impressive robotic toy collection!

Charles, Geek Show Ink, shares his thoughts on the Rascal Robot!

Victoria, Vikki Verka, talks a bit about the Chōjin Sentai Jetman!

Jamie, Whatever I think of!, talks a bit about Hymie from Get Smart!


I’m Down With OPP, er, Coveting Other People’s Property…

This week The League is hosting another virtual shopping spree through a very real (and pretty darn awesome) auction being held over at Hakes.  In the last auction I put in my bid on a set of Sanrio prototype aquatic action figures that never saw full fledged production.  It was pretty rad stumbling across the archeological remnants of proposed and designed toy line that sadly never came to be, and there are some more rare production prototypes and carded figures for some rares 80s toy lines in this new auction.  But I wanted to take a slightly different slant with my shopping spree this time.  In fact, I don’t really want to go on a spree at all.  There’s one item in particular that I have my sights on, but I’ll get to that in a moment.  First I wanted to highlight a few items that I would have, um, virtually bought, had I not put put the brakes on my fake spending.

Hakes Stuff

Pictured above are a few of the 80s centric items that caught my eye in the most recent Hakes auction.  There are some pretty cool Flintstone Kids Pizza Hut premiums that I would proudly pin to my messenger bag (not to mention that I sort of have a fetish for pinback buttons.)  There are a handful of rad and kind of rare Infaceables action figures released by Galoob in 1984.  I love the idea of action figures built around transforming from human to monster and back again.  And last but not least, a seriously awesome Street Hawk lunchbox.  I came pretty darn close to winning the original artwork for this lunchbox back around the time I started this site and I’ve always been a little miffed at myself for not bidding just 20 bucks more, ’cause if I had it’d probably be framed and hanging in Branded HQ right now.  As it stands I’d love to have the actual lunchbox as a memento of balking at the auction price 7 years ago…

But as I mentioned, I had to take a trip back around the virtual auction house, virtually putting all these cool things back on the virtual shelves.  Why you might ask?  Well, because as I was browsing through all this neat stuff I was feeling a little bit like I was walking through someone else’s house full of bitchin collectibles.  I can’t explain it, but I get this vibe a lot when I’m hunting through flea markets and picking through antique stores.  All these things came from someone else’s childhood or estate.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not going all Mikey from Goonies here.  I’m not saying we should all thROW back the rich stuff from the bottom of the wishing well.  It’s just a thing I struggle with from time to time.  What cemented it for me was stumbling upon this next item, a toy that I have a very covetous history with, the Star Wars Return of the Jedi At-ST Scout Walker released by Kenner in 1983


Now I had a lot of Star Wars stuff as a kid, a ton of the action figures and my fare share of vehicles including not one, but two At-At Walkers.  But, as it goes, and like I mentioned in this post a couple weeks ago, it’s always the things that you don’t own that seem to be what’s coveted the most.  In the case of the At-ST Walker, well, I never came across one in the store or at any of my friend’s houses.  I saw my first and only AT-ST toy back in the summer of 1983.  My family was picking up stakes from our home in Tampa, FL to move a couple hours due east to Orlando.  I had just turned six and my folks decided to let me tag along on some trips out of town while they did some house-hunting.  On one of these excursions we stopped at a house that still had a family living in it, and while we were taking a tour I spotted the above toy sitting on the bureau of some strange kid’s bedroom.  Being six, the thought hadn’t occurred to me that the stuff in the house wasn’t part of the bargain.  In fact, I spent the next three hours trying to convince my parents that out of all the houses we’d looked through to that point, this last one was obviously the one we should go with.  I mean it was two stories, had hardwoo…screw it, it was because there was an AT-ST in one of the rooms that I really freaking wanted.  After it was explained to me that buying a house didn’t quite work the way I’d hoped (and boy was I a tad relieved when they pointed out that if it had I’d be losing all MY STUFF), I was a little crushed.  Hungry Howie’s Pizza later that night didn’t make it better.  Getting to listen to my Michael Jackson Thriller tape on infinite repeat during the two hour trip back only helped a little.  If I have to be honest I’ve always sort of had an AT-ST-sized hole in my heart over the years.

Seeing that piece up for auction, well it both reminded me that I still kinda sorta (read – desperately) want this toy and that even if I don’t get it, wanting it still feels pretty good in it’s own weird way.  So that’s why if money were no object, I think I’d walk away from the auction with just this one treasure to fill that mechanical chicken-shaped hole in me…

So, check out the Hakes Auction, pick out your own weirdly shaped coveted item and fill in that hole that’ll make you feel a bit more, well, whole.  When you’re done, check out these other League posts to see what they found…

Jaime, Shezcrafti, seems to have some pretty damn similar tastes in stuff as me

Dex, AEIOU and Sometimes Why, picks some choice items

Chris, Random Nerdness, has a basket full of, well, random nerdy things

Victoria, VikkiVerka, has a taste for BLOOD, well, books about blood and guts

RobotPJs, Robot’s Pajamas, runs down some fun bad Ditko artwork

A Good Thing About Moving…

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

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

Shawn Star Wars small

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