Tag Archives: The League of Extraordinary Bloggers

G.I. Joe, a Real French-Canadian Hero!

6883501769_16f5716f51_oI thought I’d take a crack at this week’s League topic (simply: Yo Joe!) since it’s both something I’m interested in (G.I. Joe obviously) and it just so happens that I have something new in my collection that fits in perfectly with the subject.  Not that long ago I was happy that I could provide a friend (the ultra rad Sarah Szefer) with a much-needed toy accessory that she’d been missing for awhile, and as an unexpected “thank you” she sent a small care package.  Since she lives up in Canada, specifically in Quebec, she thought it would be awesome to gift me some cool 80s era French-Canadian ephemera.  One of the bits that caught my eye was this awesome comic book advertisement from 1984-85…

French Canadian G.I. Joe Ad 1985

I’ve never personally seen an English version of this ad, so I’m not sure if it was strictly used in foreign markets or if I just missed it.  Either way this is a really neat ad that is way more in line with all those cool diorama set-ups you’d see in the old Sears Wishbooks.  I always loved the creativity in those since they tended to utilize natural materials mixed with art for the setting like the sand and rocks above.  I love the addition of the fake aquarium vegetation and the awesome impressionist forest fire depicted in the background painting.  Too cool.  I think I also love these types of play set-ups because I spent the majority of my G.I. Joe playtime as a kid setting up battles like this and then never actually acting them out.  It was all about setting the stage for me, and these sorts of advertisements (or the wishbook spreads) were sort of like toy porn in my eyes.

So thanks a million for sending me this Sarah, it totally made my week!  If you like what you saw here and would like to see more League posts about G.I. Joe, check out these other great sites…

Stacey, Geeky Vixen, is waxing nostalgic about old friends and discovering badass Ladies in G.I. Joe!

Michael, Retromash, takes a look at Joes from the UK perspective with Action Force!

Jathaniel shares some artistic Joe pictures from his instagram account!

Derek, Goodwill Hunting 4 Geeks, shares some awesome G.I. Joe kid’s picture books (Earl Norem Art!)

Erik Johnson talks about Joe Gibken from Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger!

Brian, Cool & Collected, talks about his Joe team, those 82-85 characters!


I’m obsessed with the LoEB’s return!

6883501769_16f5716f51_oThe League of Extraordinary Bloggers has been on hiatus for a while as Brian over at Cool & Collected has been “extraordinarily” busy with his C&C print magazine project, but it’s finally back this week with a new topic. To kick things off again Brian asks what our current obsessions are, and this just happens to coincide with a slight shift in my personal 80s collecting habits of late. Outside of a few sets of Garbage Pail Kids, I really didn’t start buying up stuff from my in and around childhood until I started work on this site. Then for the first 7 years or so of running Branded I focused most of my efforts on acquiring all sorts of ephemera, be it stickers, old magazines, or trading card wax pack wrappers that spanned all sorts of pop culture subjects from cartoons to food. I love talking about the 80s, specifically the marketing and “branding”, and I wanted to touch on all sorts of stuff from Sizzlean to amazing Return of the Jedi Jungle Gyms. Needless to say, digging up all of this stuff wasn’t cheap, so finding content to talk about on the site sort of dominated my collecting. The majority of the stuff I was hoarding storing in my flat-file, while awesome, didn’t necessarily always reflect the stuff I personally had as a kid.

Over the last year though I’ve decided to concentrate on rebuilding a small collection of things that I actually had as a kid.  Whether it’s the reproduction Masters of the Universe figures Mattel put out just after the millennium…


…or picking up the occasional mint on card vintage toy like the super cool Transformers Afterburner I recently found.

Afterburner 1

I think this all started just over a year ago when I managed to get a hold of my original childhood Atari 2600 system.  Reconnecting with that faux wood-paneled beauty really got me thinking about where I really wanted to spend my money when it came to my collecting habits.


Lately this turn towards reacquiring treasures from when I was a kid has morphed into some more obscure purchases.  Instead of trying to get all the actual toys I had I’ve been cherry-picking specific pieces I owned from various toy lines, stuff that when put out on a shelf illustrates my childhood experience.  This has led to some more obscure toy hunting leading up to snagging stuff like a Demon from Blackstarr, Warduke from the D&D line, and Tonto from the Gabriel Legend of the Lone Ranger line


I’ve also started following this urge to round out my collection with more offbeat stuff by picking up some weirder childhood reading material.  For instance, I was just recently reminded by my mom during one of our weekly phone calls about a cookbook she gave me when I was eight, the Betty Crocker Cookbook for Boys and Girls (a version published in 1985 by Golden.)  I immediately flashed upon the iconic cover and felt an insane desire to pick it up and hold it again.  So I logged on to eBay immediately after the call an proceeded to track down and buy a copy…

BCCookbookForBoysAndGirls 1

I must have stared at those disturbing cheeseburger people a million times as a kid.  Even though this isn’t my original copy (which is probably no longer in existence or mostly disintegrated in a landfill in Florida somewhere), mine was as beat-up and well read as this copy I now have on my shelf.  Clocking in at just under 100 pages, this cookbook was my go-to tome when learning the basics of recipe-reading and trying my hand at some culinary concoctions that were always just this side of edible.  Though I learned a lot from watching my mom in the kitchen, I always took pride in exploring on my own and trying to make lunches or breakfasts on the weekends, and a lot of that inspiration came form the dishes in this book.  Speaking of, the recipes range from the ridiculous yet fun arrangement of canned fruit on a lettuce leaf like this Friendly Dog Salad below…

BCCookbookForBoysAndGirls 3

…to the surprisingly difficult to master (as a kid) Eggs in Bologna Cups.  Mine never tasted right.  In fact they were pretty noxious if I remember (probably due to over-use of the paprika which I practically caked on top of each cup…)

BCCookbookForBoysAndGirls 4

The book is filled with glorious 70s/80s era design, from the style and color of the cookware depicted in the recipes to the bodacious font choices.  I actually kind of love it to death and am curious about seeking out some other more standard 80s era cookbooks for my kitchen…

BCCookbookForBoysAndGirls 2

Reading back through it I was surprised at the level of complexity in some of the recipes (like a giant baked ham loaf that required grinding up smoked ham steaks), and some of it actually looks like stuff I’d love to try today as a way more accomplished home cook.  In fact I’m toying with the idea of trying to replicate all 120 or so dishes in the book at some point.  I mean a lot of this stuff is pretty simple, but I remember it being sort of like comfort food.  It might be easy to turn one’s nose up at it as an adult, but stuff like this Polka Dot Pizza (aka Hot Dog Pizza) looks like the perfect comfort food for a lazy Saturday afternoon…

BCCookbookForBoysAndGirls 5

BCCookbookForBoysAndGirls 6

If you enjoyed reading about my currently 80s collecting obsession, why not take a moment to check out some of the other League participants to see what they’re focusing on like…

Brian at Cool & Collected who is currently binge watching Band of Brothers and True Detective

Lee & Linz at Pop Rewind who are obsession over McDonald’s Orange Drink

Derek at Really Rather Random Guy who is having a an existential obsession crisis

Victoria at Vikki Verka who is glad she found the sci-fi series Charlie Jade

Tim at Flashlights Are Something to Eat is listening to the Scorchers, watching Breaking Bad, and buying some Atari games!


With a handle like Smurfwreck you’d think blue would be my favorite color…

…but it’s not, it’s hot pink.  Now that, that random bit of trivia is out of the way, I wanted to take a second and tackle this week’s League assignment where we’re charged with taking photos highlighting the color blue.  Last time we had an assignment like this (with Red), I totally didn’t notice the photo assignment and wrote and essay about blood and how it worked into my first and only fight as a kid.  This time I paid better attention and collected some of my favorite blue stuff from around Branded HQ.

First up, one of my two favorite blue t-shirts, and the classiest one I own for sure…

Top Hat Sas

Next up, some chilly and wet stickers from my favorite vintage collection, Garbage Pail Kids…

GPK Blue

I was surprised at how many blue robots I had within reaching distance…

blue robots

Posing my Soundwave statue it occurred to me that there were a hell of a lot of blue villains in the 80s cartoons and toy lines I loved.  Like Fakor, Skeletor and Trap Jaw!

blue fakor

Not to mention the supreme blue badass that is Mumm-Ra!

blue mummy

And who can forget the rad blue fashion sense of Cobra!

blue terrorist fashion

But by far, my favorite blue thing is the totally amazing birthday gift I received this year, my very own furry blue My Pet Monster!

mpm 1 mpm2

Oh, and there’s my other favorite blue t-shirt, DeLorean represent.

If you like all the blue-i-ness you see here, why not check out some of the other League members to see what blue caught their camera eye…

Jaime, Shezcrafti, shares 21 (not) boring blue things about her

Dex, AEIOU and Sometimes Why, opens a vintage pack of Blue Star Wars Topps trading cards

Miss M, Diary of a Dorkette, gets blue with her Dorky Snaps

Derek, Goodwill Hunting 4 Geeks, shows off his very impressive blue toy collection

Laura, Boo Bobby, shows off her Boglins, Gonzos, Rad T-shirts, and Turtles, oh my

Todd, Neato Coolvile, has quite an impressive collection of vintage blue wonderful

Tommy, Top Hat Sasquatch, is feeling blue, so Batman made cookies!

Chris, Garage Sale of Awesome, shares their super rad blue M.A.S.K. bedsheets!

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

I’ve rigged all the cabinets so you won’t need tokens…

Getting back into the swing of things around here and as luck would have it this week’s League assignment is a real peach!  Submitted by Jason over at Rediscover the 80s (who just started a pretty rad podcast that I totally am way behind in pimping), the topic is all about building a dream arcade in our homes.  Though I’m not much of a gamer these days, I did spend a decent amount of time playing the stand-up cabinets at the local pizza joints, mall arcades, Showbiz and Chuck E. Cheese’s, and even in the converted utility closet of the 7-Eleven that was in my neighborhood growing up.  That being said, my dream arcade would probably fit in a utility closet now that I think about it…

So what would be in my dream arcade closet?  Only four cabinets.  Well, three cabinets and one cocktail table unit.  First up, the classic (at least for me), Galaga…

Galaga Small

This is my go-to game when I’m in the mood for a truly old school arcade experience.  It’s also the game I judge most pizza places on.  Sure, if a place makes a good NY style pizza, that’s good, but if there are arcade cabinets in the joint and Galaga is missing, so too will be my patronage.  For my money (and I will drop a considerable amount of coinage in a Galaga cabinet when I have a belly full of pizza) there no better combination than securing that double spaceship with the taste of sausage and onion in my mouth that was just recently washed down with coke sipped out of a clear red plastic cup.  Just a bit of heaven if you ask me.

Plucking some similar pizza place-centric nostalgia heart strings would be securing a Mrs. Pac-Man cocktail sit-down table.  Faux wood grain trim would be essential too…

Mrs Pacman Cocktail

Can’t count the number of times I played a unit that looked just like this while waiting for my personal pan pizza at my local Orlando area Pizza Hut as a kid.  Did I mention that the personal pan pizza in question would have invariable been free based on my appetite for reading and the Pizza Hut Book It program…

Now the next cabinet is not an arcade game in the strictest sense, but it did provide an arcade experience, and that’s the Nintendo PlayChoice-10…


This unit was basically a way for Nintendo to “advertise” for the NES system by housing it and 10 games into one arcade cabinet.  We had one in my local 7-Eleven when I was growing up and it’s where I spent a good deal of time playing games like Ducktales, Goonies II, and more importantly Lifeforce.  I also learned a neat trick where if you could pull both of the joysticks to the right and mash down all the buttons you’d get free timed play on a handful of the games in the cabinet.  I used this method to play a shitton of Lifeforce before breaking down and begging my mom for an at-home copy of the game.  In other words, mission accomplished Nintendo.

Rounding out my dream arcade would be my favorite arcade game ever, a 6-player X-Men game cabinet…

X-Men Small

Not only was this game based on Pryde of the X-Men, my favorite X-Men cartoon of all time (the one-shot failed pilot produced by the wonderful folks over at Sunbow), but it features one of my favorite X-Men characters, the much underrated Dazzler.  My four friends during middle and high school were all X-Men nerds like me, so between the five of us we used to rock the crap out of this game at our local arcade/go cart track called Malibu Grand Prix.  All of us would beg our parents to go there for birthdays just so that we could spend a couple hours plunking quarters into the above machine.  I’m pretty sure we even came close to beating it one or two times.  Hands down some of my favorite arcade experiences surrounded time at the joystick playing either Wolverine or Dazzler.

About 10 years ago I ran across a very reasonably priced 6-Player X-Men cabinet, but was plagued with the ultimate nerd conundrum of how to justify a car payment on something so big and loud that would be next to impossible to move without a professional team and a forklift.  In the end I passed, but there has always been a part of me that regretted it…

So there you have it.  The Branded in the 80s Arcade.  Small, sure.  But for me, arcade heaven.  Pass me a slice of sausage and onion, and don’t worry, I’ve rigged all the cabinets so you don’t need tokens!

If you liked my shenanigans this week, why not check out these other rad League participants…

Pax, Cavalcade of Awesome (and my rad Cult Film Club co-host), lists his top 10 arcade games!

Classick Material, Cold Slither Podcast, goes the extra step and makes a fantasy show about his favorites!

Rich, The Nerd Nook, Moonwalks over to the 7-Eleven to play some Street Fighter II!

Kal, Calvin’s Canadian Cave of Cool, has a bone to pick with Dragon’s Lair!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jaime, Shezcrafti, shares some dirty Ace of Base secrets

Brian, Cool & Collected, shares some dirty Survivor secrets

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

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

Oh, there was going to be blood…

*Update* Oh man, I’m such a dumbass, I didn’t process the phrase “Photo Assignment” on this week’s League challenge.  Sigh.  What a dink I am…

This week’s topic from the league is pretty broad, just the word Red, which usually makes from some interesting interpretations.  Can’t wait to see what others have written about frankly.  For me, after writing about my sister recently and having to really dig through some of my childhood experiences, there was only one thing that immediately sprang to mind, blood and the only time I was ever in a “fight”.  I was a pretty harmless kid.  A little butterball obsessed with G.I. Joe, action films, and comic books, but if you knew me you knew the likelihood of any actual fisticuffs was beyond silly.  I just really didn’t have it in me.  Still don’t.  There was one time though, one instance where I was pushed a little too far.  I wish I had a Ralphie (from A Christmas Story) experience with a bully that just pushed too far and I beat the tar out of him while letting loose a string of obscenities that were still hanging over Central Florida as I type this, but alas it wasn’t anywhere near that cinematic or therapeutic.  I’ll set the scene.  I was 11 years old.  It was 1987, and I was in the middle of my G.I. Joe phase (i.e. typically wearing a cammo T-shirt and olive drab shorts, and very often wore what I thought was a badass “green beret” beret – see below.)

I’d just begun the sixth grade, which meant riding the big yellow Twinkie to and from school.  I’d also  just recently watched the film La Bamba, and was telling a friend about it on the bus.  For some messed up reason we thought the scene where Ritchie Valens’ mother found out about his passing was funny (I was eleven, cut me some slack), and we kept reenacting the scene, throwing up imaginary laundry in the air and calling each other’s names (instead of “Ritchie!”)  Real quick, looking back, I was being a little callus douche, and if I could reach back through time and hit myself upside the head I totally would.  Anyway, I wasn’t the only Shawn on the bus that day.  There was a kid who lived a couple streets down from me that I was sort of friends with (you know, enough to go over to his house but not sleep over) who shared my name (and spelling.)  I’d had a beef with him earlier that month in a dispute over trading some baseball cards.  He wanted my Bo Jackson rookie card and I didn’t want to trade it.  He kept badgering me relentlessly, so one day I took the card out of my binder, showed it to him and tore it in half.  I thought I was ending an argument, but I guess he took it really personally.  Long story short, while goofily reenacting the scene from La Bamba, he assumed I was making fun of him and when we got off the bus, well, IT WAS ON.

He hung back for a bit, but when I was in my yard heading towards our front door he came running at me full steam, screaming, with his right arm out to the side in preparation to clothesline me.  I turned around and honestly didn’t know what to think.  It was kind of in slow motion, enough so that I thought to myself, “Wow, Shawn’s going to clothesline me, and isn’t it weird that Ritchie Valens’ mom was hanging laundry on a clothesline…?”  While processing the coincidence, he totally clotheslined me, right in the face, hitting me hard enough to give me a couple black eyes but luckily he didn’t break my nose.  Here’s where the story got downright pathetic.  As I confessed, I was quite the pudgy kid, and a little tall for my age group.  The other Shawn?  I swear he weighed 50lbs soaking wet, and for real, his gums would start bleeding if you looked at him askance.  Though he tried his best to waylay me, he just hit my face and them tumbled over me.  A little stunned, and honestly still thinking about clotheslines, it took me a second to really get mad.  But when it hit, I was pissed.  Seriously, like, pissed right the fuck off.  Part of it was the group of other kids that had gathered around and were chiding me, urging me on to fight, and part of it was some twisted pent up rage that I’d apparently been harboring and didn’t realize.  All of a sudden I wanted blood.  Like seriously, I wanted to see Shawn bleed.  So I bent down, grabbed him by the shirt, and hauled back and, um, well, slapped him across the face.  I so wish I had punched him, but like I said, I just didn’t have it in me.  But boy did I give him a slap he’d never forget.  More importantly, the blood started flowing.  From his nose, his gums, it was like I’d turned on a faucet.  Honestly, he was like a little scrawny Andrew WK…

For me, this was mission accomplished.  I proceeded to then resort to the only other thing a butterball like me could do, I sat on him until he calmed the fuck down.  About ten minutes later most of the other kids had dispersed, and Shawn had started clotting.  I got up, he sulked away and I felt like a million freaking dollars.  I was so stupidly proud of what I had done.  And you know what was the real cherry on top of this stupid childhood sundae for me right then?  I had Shawn’s blood all over my shirt.  I couldn’t wait to show my parents and sister.  “Look guys, I was in a fight, and I won!  See, this is his BLOOD!”  Let’s just say my parents didn’t see it quite in that light.  But my sister did.  And at the time, that’s all that mattered.

You can see the residual of what was left of my two black eyes in the picture above, just a little red around the sockets…

If you enjoyed my response to this week’s League assignment, why not check out some of these other member’s posts…

Tim, Flashlights Are Something to Eat, adds a “D” like a Fox!

Jaime, Shezcrafti, shares some random red radness!

IoK, That Figures, shares some of his red action figures!

Eric, Toyriffic, gets intergalactic-catty with Dex-Starr!

Todd, Neato Coolville, has collectables in his blood!

If only there was a Crush-Station playset!

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

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


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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rewriting Oscar History…

So this week’s assignment from the League is another interpretative, one-word theme, The Oscars.  Whether it’s the Odd Couple, the Grouch, or the awards ceremony, there’s a lot of pop culture room to cover with that word.  But I’m going to be a bit of a purist and stick with what I assume was the general idea and talk a bit about the awards ceremony.  Personally, aside from the one year when Silence of the Lambs won every Oscar ever (including best animated film), I haven’t paid all that much attention to the show.  I don’t really care for the fanfare and the older I get the more jaded I get and the more and more it just seems like the whole thing is about money.  Doing my best to sweep all of that aside though, I thought it would be fun to let my mind slip back to my childhood and then I pretended to hold my own Academy Awards ceremony for each year in the 80s (except I’m the sole member of the voting academy.)  I’m going to nominate my top five favorite films of each year, and pick the Branded in the 80s Best Picture Oscar.  So yeah, let’s get on that…

In 1980 I was 3 years-old, but I was already becoming quite the cinephile thanks mainly to my Mom who was always exposing me to great films.  So the nominees for Best Picture in 1980 are…

1). The Empire Strikes Back
2). My Bodyguard
3). 9 to 5
4). Popeye
5). Midnight Madness

There are other films that I dearly love from ’80, but most of them I didn’t catch up with till later in life.  The five flicks above were hands down my favorite, even if at 3 I didn’t understand everything on-screen.  I have fond memories of insane scavenger hunts, Adam Baldwin gruffly protecting nerds, Lilly Tomlin singing to cartoon birds, Luke Skywalker finding out that his dad is a dick, but when it comes right down to it, there’s only one of the five films that I rewatched constantly as a kid…

…and the Winner for 1980 is: Popeye!

Seriously, for the soundtrack alone, but there;s a rad Octopus battle (a theme in movies I dig), and the casting is astounding.  Love that film.

So the nominees for Best Picture in 1981 are…

1). The Great Muppet Caper
2). Dragonslayer
3). Time Bandits
4). Clash of the Titans
5). Raiders of the Lost Ark

Apparently 1981 was all about Muppets and fantasy for me.  Stolen universe jumping maps, stolen baseball diamonds, stolen Stygian witch crystal eyes, lost arks, and freaking Vermithrax Pejorative!

And the Winner for 1981 is: Dragonslayer!

A, I apparently have a thing for girls who masquerade as boys (see Just One of the Guys later), and B, Peter MacNicol is super awesome and doesn’t get enough credit.

The nominees for Best Picture in 1982 are…

1). The World According to Garp
2). The Secret of Nimh
3). The Toy
4). Poltergeist
5). The Beastmaster

At five years-old my mom sat me down to watch The World According to Garp.  I had no idea what “no glove, no love” meant, but I thought John Lithgow was a pretty lady.  Also, crazy saxophone scene, and the dog biting ear stuff stuck with me for years.  Poltergeist taught me to fear hidden graveyards under the subdivision, Beastmaster taught me about how much cooler I would have been had I been magically born from a cow, and the Secret of Nihm was just plain rad.  I have to say though that I have memories of renting The Toy over and over again.  There was a point where I could quote every line in the film, so…

…the Winner for 1982 is: The Toy!

The nominees for Best Picture in 1983 are…

1). Wargames
2). Class
3). A Christmas Story
4). Return of the Jedi
5). Eddie & The Cruisers

At six it was unquestionable that Star Wars rocked my world, and I remember seeing Return of the Jedi multiple times in the theater.  I also had the bed sheets, tooth brush, shampoo, and I was eating the Pepperidge Farms cookies as well.  Looking back though, there were other films that had a pretty big impact on my life that year.  Class started to explain the funny feelings I’d have in my pants, Eddie and the Cruisers turned me onto rock and roll, and A Christmas Story became a family staple way before TBS started shoving it down peoples throats with their plumbers helper.  Wargames however turned me onto the awesomeness of Ally Sheedy and Matthew Broderick, more specifically it started to shape my personality to that of one slightly devious, but mostly just innocent.  Did I almost just start World War III?  Moi?

And the Winner for 1983 is: Wargames!

The nominees for Best Picture in 1984 are…

1). The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension
2). Red Dawn
3). The Karate Kid
4). Ghostbusters
5). Cloak & Dagger

Picking only five films for 1984 is a lot like shooting a bunch of baby ducks.  I mean I had to cut Temple of Doom, Streets of Fire, Gremlins, The Last Starfighter, Muppets Take Manhattan, The Terminator, Night of the Comet, Beverly Hills Cop, Starman, and Breakin’ 1 and 2, the essential Electric Boogaloo!  That being said, this might sound insane, but for all the amazing rad films that year, the one that had the single most impact on my 7 year-old brain was Cloak & Dagger.  I spent hours daydreaming about everything that happens to Davey in that flick, so when I saw it I felt like the writers and director had literally tapped into my brain and poured out the contents onto the screen.

And the Winner for 1984 is: Cloak & Dagger!

The nominees for Best Picture in 1985 are…

1). Just One of the Guys
2). Better Off Dead
3). Real Genius
4). The Goonies
5). Pee Wee’s Big Adventure

If 1984 was like shooting baby ducks, then 1985 was a lot like eating their carcasses.  Seriously, look what didn’t make the cut!  The Breakfast Club, Gotcha, Fletch, Back to the Future, The Legend of Billie Jean, Fright Night, Weird Science, My Science Project, Teen Wolf, Commando and Young Sherlock Holmes.  It’s tough, but I had to choose five.  Just One of the Guys showed me more undercover women, and uncovered boobies.  Better Off Dead defined the majority of my sense of humor for the rest of my life.  The Goonies is, well, I’ll let Jaime over at Shezcrafti extol the virtues of that one for mePee Wee’s Big Adventure is a near perfect film.  But only one of these flicks was on constant repeat in my household and that was Real Genius.  When you’re finished hammering that nail though that board come help me set up this giant bag of Jiffy Pop will ya?

And the Winner for 1985 is: Real Genius!

The nominees for Best Picture in 1986 are…

1). Transformers: The Movie
2). Big Trouble in Little China
3). Rad
4). The Three Amigos
5). Something Wild

Alright, by ’86 it was getting a little easier for to whittle down the lists.  That being said this year was still a doozy.  I was only 9, but my hormones had kicked in early apparently because I couldn’t stop watching Something Wild and hoping someday I’d find myself in Jeff Daniel’s shoes (well, minus the Ray Liotta experiences.)  Big Trouble in Little China is another near perfect film, as is The Three Amigos, but this contest is really just a grudge match between two of my top three films of all time, Rad and Transformers the Movie.  As much as I heart the bike dance, Send Me An Angel, Cru Jones, Helltrack and evil jumpsuit wearing twins who can do the worm like no one else, this contest has to go to Transformers.  Including my viewing of it for a recent Saturday Supercast I have now officially seen that flick 141 times (unofficially I think it’s probably closer to 400+.)  No question.  Bah Weep Grana Weep Ninibon.

And the Winner for 1986 is: Transformers: The Movie!

The nominees for Best Picture in 1987 are…

1). Light of Day
2). The Monster Squad
3). Near Dark
4). The Princess Bride
5). Innerspace

Much like 1986, there really is no contest for 1987’s best picture.  Is anyone surprised?

And the Winner for 1987 is: The Monster Squad!

The nominees for Best Picture in 1988 are…

1). A Fish Called Wanda
2). Willow
3). Beetlejuice
4). Young Guns
5). Vice Versa

By 1988 I was starting to really develop my tastes in film, and honestly the decade was starting to turn the corner from the feel of typically 80s flicks to something else.  I wasn’t quite starting to get jaded yet, but I was getting a little pickier.  That being said I watched the ever living crap out of all five of these films, though one in particular I’ve seen over 300 times, and that film is the second to star Val Kilmer (who would get two Branded Best Actor awards for sure) on this countdown.

And the Winner for 1988 is: Willow!

For the final year in this countdown, the nominees for Best Picture in 1989 are…

1). Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
2). UHF
3). Say Anything…
4). The ‘Burbs
5). Young Einstein

1989 lead the decade out with a bang for me, and the above five films are all near and dear to my heart.  Tom Hanks is arguably at his comedic best in the ‘Burbs, Weird Al made a piece of cine-magic with UHF, the stars aligned for Yahoo Serious with Young Einstein, and Bill S. Preston Esquire and Ted “Theodore” Logan ignorantly wormed their way into my everyday parlance.  But at 12, almost a teenager, and on the verge to leave my home of 10 years in Florida to move to the snowy wilderness in New Hampshire, there was only one film I truly identified with that year, and it was the one where I decided that I wanted to either marry or be John Cusack when I grew up.  Lots of angst for me in 1989…

And the Winner for 1989 is: Say Anything…!

So, there you have it, my top ten favorite films of the 1980s, along with 40 amazing runners up.  What would have made your list?

Also, last but not least, the nominees for best League Assignment entries this week are…

Jaime, Shezcrafti, makes an Oscars Mixtape

Iok, That Figures, runs down his alter-Oscars

Dex, AEIOU and Sometimes Why, is getting grouchy

Tommy, Top Hat Sasquatch, takes a look at some Oscar-winning action figures

Jon, The Combat Workshop, is working on building “The Oscar”