Tag Archives: the muppets

My Pop Culture Parking Lot…

It’s been awhile since I’ve talked about my love for tiny pop culture vehicles here at Branded so I decided to gather up all of my little die-cast beauties and go outside for a little photo-shoot this past weekend.  I can’t even begin to say how happy I am that companies like Hot Wheels and Johnny Lightning are putting out so many 1:64 scale toys to feed my obsession with 80s era cars, trucks, and other rad modes of transportation from all the films and TV that I loved as a kid…

Pop Culture Parking Lot

I don’t have everything that I’d like to have in the collection, but it’s getting to the point where the tiny valets are having a hard time finding a place to park these babies!  I shared the handful of vehicles I managed to procure a couple years ago on the site a while back, like the Back to the Future DeLorean and Tron: Legacy Lightcycle in the picture above.  Since then I’ve managed to track down a bunch of new releases, as well as a couple of older pieces that I’m really excited about.  For instance, right behind the DeLorean you can spot Cooter’s Mustang from the Dukes of Hazzard.  Speaking of the DoH, I finally managed to track down an ERTL General Lee!

General Lee

That’s been a huge hole in my collection for years, but now I can start jumping over all sorts of 1:64 scale lakes and ravines.  Of course, what fun is having Bo & Luke’s sweet ride without Roscoe’s Sheriff Cruiser to chase it?

Roscoes Car DoH

I didn’t have that many little toy cars as a kid (though I distinctly remember playing with the yellow Incredible Hulk Hot Wheels Scene Machine), but I always wanted these Dukes of Hazzard cars.  I had a friend named Timmy who had a bunch of them as well as a large fold up plastic floor mat that had all of Hazzard county on it that he received for his birthday.  I have some vivid memories of laying down near that mat tracing the various roads with my finger while munching on some novelty bologna bubble gum slices that Timmy also got for his birthday…

One of the rad aspects of 80s era TV was all of the shows that either featured some cool cars or were dedicated to an awesome vehicle like Street Hawk, Riptide, Magnum P.I., Airwolf or the ridiculously awesome Knightrider!  Thanks to the recent Hot Wheels releases I now have K.I.T.T. and even K.A.R.R.!

KITT and KARR

I was just reading that there should be a third Knightrider release in the 2014 Retro Entertainment series from Hot Wheels, so I’m curious whether we’ll be getting one of the two cool Semis, either the Knight Foundations mobile command 16-wheeler or the evil Goliath!

Of course any collection of neat TV vehicles wouldn’t be complete without B.A. Baracus’ van and Face’s cool white Vette from the A-Team

BAB Van A-Team

Face Vett A-TEam

But not all of my favorite TV vehicles hail from the 80s as there were some other shows that I adored as a kid which I caught in reruns on Nickelodeon (either during weekdays or on Nick at Night.)  I was so excited when I realized that Johnny Lightning released the Monkees’ Monkee-Mobile back in 1998…

Monkees

Similarly Johnny Lightning put out the Munsters’ Koach in the early 2000s…

Munsters Koach

I decided that I wouldn’t limit my acquisitions to just real vehicles either and was super stoked when Hot Wheels started putting out cartoon-accurate stuff this past year as well.  I had to have the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine…

Mystery Machine

Hot Wheels has also begun releasing some other Hanna Barbera vehicles like the Flintstones family car and the Jetsons spaceship.  It’s kind of blurry in the background of that first parking lot photo, but if you squint you can make out the Flintstones car on the back right.  I decided not to feature it as there’s a better version hitting store shelves soon that has more accurate colors that I’d like to pick up.

Drawing from the 60s (and another show I caught in reruns) as well as the 80s are a couple of my favorite variations of the Batmobile…

Batmobiles 66 and 89

I used to have an ERTL Burton Batmobile, but lost it along the way over the years so I was really happy to replace it with the newer Hot Wheels release.  I was also happy to finally pick up the ’66 version from the old Adam West show recently as well.  Segueing into films, I wanted to share the first pop culture vehicle that sparked off this current trend in Hot Wheels retro cars, the 2010 release of the Ecto-1 from Ghostbusters

Ecto-1

According to that 2014 release article I linked to above we’re in store for a second Ghostbusters vehicle release this year which I’m assuming is the Ecto-2 from the sequel (with the digital marquee and the checker tape siderunners.)  It would be kind of cool to get the beat-up original version of the hearse before it was pimped out by Ray though.

IMG_1608

Even though Hot Wheels has ramped up their production of these pop culture cars they’re still pretty difficult to find on store pegs.  I’m sure it’s a mix of scalpers snatching up all the product and the popularity of these coveted 1/64th scale cars, but it can be a real headache for collectors.  For instance I’ve been looking everywhere for the recent release of the Muppet’s converted school bus from the first flick.  I have yet to see one in the wild, but I was super lucky when gentleman and scholar CT over at Nerd Lunch very graciously gifted me with one this past Christmas!

Electric Mayhem Muppets

In fact that’s also how I managed to procure the Knightrider K.A.R.R. above, when the super cool William Bruce West sent me one he found.  I’ve been trying to spread the tiny car karma around whenever I find stuff that are hard to track down (like the Kroger grocery store Halloween Hot Wheels exclusive Slimer redeco Ecto-1 above…)

The most recent car I’ve tracked down for my collection isn’t an official pop culture car release, but close enough for me, this 1958 Plymouth Fury, AKA Christine from the Stephen King novel and John Carpenter movie…

Christine

Even though my pop culture parking lot is getting pretty full there are still some wishlist items that I’d love to hunt down, both releases I know are coming and some that I’m hopeful for (but not holding my breath.  So I’ll end this with my wishlist, but I’m curious, what vehicles do you have in your collection and what are you looking to procure?

Branded 1:64 scale vehicle wishlist….

1). Airwolf (Released by ETRL in the 80s, but also a Japanese Hot Wheels exclusive)

2). 1948 yellow Ford Super DeLuxe Club convertible from Karate Kid (potentially this year!)

3). 250 GT California model Ferrari from Ferris Bueller (Available from Hot Wheels)

4). Ecto-2 from Ghostbusters II (There is a Johnny Lightning release)

5). Buckaroo Banzai Jetcar (no chance in hell, sigh)

6). Porkchop Express from Big Trouble in Little China

7). Mad Max’s Interceptor (maybe with the new flick?)

8). Street Hawk motorcycle

9). Megaforce Dune Buggy & Motorcycle (Hot Wheels 80s)

10). Flight of the Navigator Spaceship

11). Thunder Road from the Explorers

12). Dracula’s Hearse from The Monster Squad

13). Mama Fatelli’s 4×4 from The Goonies

14). Light up VW Bug from The Money Pit

15). Harry’s Mutt Cutts Van from Dumb & Dumber

16). Wagon Queen Family Truckster from National Lampoon’s Vacation

Visiting the Jim Henson Exhibit at the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta…

It’s so easy to get lost in the sea of social media sometimes, pining after all the cool events and places other people are visiting and enjoying that are either too far away or too expensive to take advantage of.  At times like this that I have to remind myself that I take the area I live in for granted and forget that there’s a bunch of really cool stuff just under my nose.  This past weekend I decided to tune out the internet and take a stroll down to Atlanta’s Center for the Puppetry Arts to visit their semi-permanent Jim Henson Exhibit.  I’ve known about the center’s museum for awhile and I drive past it every time I find myself at the downtown Ikea, so it was way past time that I stopped and took a look…

jhp 1

I’m a pretty big fan of Jim Henson, though I’d hardly call myself an expert.  While I may not know the proper names of all the c-list muppets, I can say that I can’t imagine what my childhood would have been like had I not been introduced to the Muppet Show, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, Labyrinth, the Dark Crystal and Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas.  I’d heard that the exhibit featured some fun props and artifacts from Henson’s career, but I wasn’t quite prepared for just how many of the Henson Company’s beloved creations I would have the opportunity to see up close and personal.

jhp 2

All told, there were thirteen different projects represented, my six childhood favorites that I listed above as well as puppets and materials from Henson’s advertising work (the La Choy Dragon), The Jim Henson Hour, Dinosaurs, Farscape, and others.  Each section of the exhibit has plenty of anecdotes, behind the scenes information and pictures, as well as videos and a couple of hands-on activities.  It’s not a huge collection, but what’s included is certainly breathtaking.  For me, the magic of this museum is getting a chance to get so darn close to the actual puppets and props from the shows, specials and movies I love so much.  Whether it’s the majesty of seeing Big Bird…

jhp 3

…or the chance to spend some time with the critter’s from Labyrinth (like Sir Didymus and the lying door guard pictured below.)

did      lg

Just getting a chance to see the detail and craftsmanship of these characters was an astounding experience!  My pictures do absolutely no justice to the actual props, but are merely presented to give you an idea of what’s included.  I know that there is a down side to seeing these puppets sitting so static behind glass.  All the energy and life is lost without the performer, and in some cases this can almost be criminal or traumatic (as in Sir Didymus’ case), but I’d still recommend anyone with the opportunity to visit the Center to try and put that at the back of you mind.

fr

By far, some my favorite pieces had to be in the Fraggle Rock section which features a couple different scales of Fraggles (Mokey and Red in the normal/large scale, as well as all five – including Gobo, Wembly, and Boober – in a smaller scale as shot during the scenes with the Gorgs) and some Doozers…

fr2

…but I also loved seeing Emmet and Ma Otter from the Jugband Christmas special.  Honestly, I almost tear-ed up when I turned and saw the two in their little green rowboat.  All the songs came flooding back in, and I just stood and stared at them, trying to soak in all the little details…

eo

For you Muppets fans, there are plenty of Henson’s characters on display including Rolf, Dr. Teeth, and the Swedish Chef, as well as a couple others in a separate part of the museum (lets just say they were Out of This World…)

mdrt

Though the Henson section of the museum is pretty darn rad, there is also a more permanent puppetry exhibit that’s also very illuminating and features all sorts of puppets from across the globe (including Madame!)  But it was at the end of the second wing that I stumbled across my favorite piece in the entire museum, a full-size Skeksis (the General), including his gnarly sword, from the Dark Crystal.  There are no words for how amazing this piece of Henson history is.  Again, my iPhone camera did the Skeksis absolutely no justice…

sk

If you get a chance to stop in Atlanta, do yourself a favor and visit the Center for Puppetry Arts and peruse the Jim Henson Exhibit.  It’s well worth your time and money for sure.  If you want to see some more of my crappy photos, they’re on my facebook page

An awesome gift from a reader…

Looking back over the past six and a half years of running this site I have to say that if nothing else it’s enabled me to meet a bunch of super kind folks that continuously inspire me every single day.  Whether it’s having a fun conversation in the comments section, laughing it up on twitter or Facebook, participating in cross-site events like the League or the Countdown to Halloween, or even the rare times when I’m goosed into meeting up in the real world, tabling at conventions like Wizard World Chicago or helping to put on shows like the Up Fair in Kentucky.  Recently I received an e-mail from a reader, Daniel Carroll, who was super gracious in offering to send me a handful of his personal back-issues of Muppet magazine so that I could scan them and share them on the site…

It’s gestures like this that remind me of how cool the nostalgic pop culture community is, and how glad I am to be a part of it.  It’s not about getting my hands on rare magazines, it’s about the sharing in the community, of information and our communal memories of our childhoods.  I’m really looking forward to digging into these issues and to write about all the Muppet-y goodness within, but I also wanted to take a second to thank Daniel for sending these in, and to point to his graphic design website Carroll Creative Design

Included in the package was also a super cool Sesame Street calendar from 1988 that has some brilliant photos of the  Muppets that I’m also looking forward to sharing here soon.  So thanks again Daniel!

I put on my Sweetums costume and joined the Nerd Lunch crew for another podcast!

The Nerd Lunch podcasting crew recently invited me back onto their show to fill their revolving 4th chair.  This time we sat down to talk about the three original Muppet flicks (including The Muppet Movie, The Great Muppet Caper, and The Muppets Take Manhattan), though of course the conversation also touches on the show and the most recent Muppets movie as well.  Who are our favorite characters?  What are our favorite gags?  Most importantly, do we think Kermit and Piggy were actually married at the end of Manhattan?!?  Well, you’ll just have to listen to find out…

You can find episode 37 of the Nerd Lunch Podcast on iTunes, or you can download the episode directly!

Gonzo was a plumber, but now he’s popping and locking with the best of ‘em!

So I know it seems like I’m continuously going back to this same Fall 1984 issue of Muppet magazine this month, but in my defense there is a lot of neat stuff packed between those covers.  At first I had intended to just post tidbits from that issue while I was on vacation and out of the state, but there was so much neat content I couldn’t help but stretch it out a bit for fear of there being too much radness for one post!  Seriously…

This is the last tidbit though, I swear.  So we all know that Breakdancing really broke through to the mainstream in 1984 what with the release of Beat Street and Breakin’, not to mention classic episodes of sitcoms like Gimme a Break (where I first leaned of the phenomena back in the day.)  So, as a bastion of pop culture news for kids, it comes as no surprise that Muppet magazine was there at ground zero to cover it for the children of America.  This article features a couple of formative breaking crews, The Dynamic Breakers and their all-female spin-off the Dynamic Dolls.  The DB’s are themselves the more acrobatic members of a larger crew called the Dynamic Rockers, who were certainly a formative part of the hip hop scene at the outset.  The Breakers (Airborn, Duce, Kano, Flip and Spider), saw an opportunity to market their crew and ended up going on a media blitz in 1984 including talk and variety show appearances (even teaching Penny Marshall to do a headspin), and eventually ending up in this photoshoot/interview with the one and only Gonzo from the Muppets…

I can’t even summon the words for how cool it is to see Gonzo in his own Dynamic branded track pants.  Anyway, there’s plenty of advice for aspiring breakers in this piece including how to create your own outfit without going broke, building your crew around a variety of styles, and even a lexicon to Freshen up your lingo…

I’ll be the first to admit that I was a class-A, uncoordinated dork as a kid, and I have some very distinct memories of watching the Breakdance episode of Gimmie a Break or catching a bit of Breakin’ on HBO and then rushing out to the dining room where there was some space and trying my best to do a kick or backspin and then falling flat on my face.  I think all I ever managed to eek out was a sad moonwalk or two, but I suppose at least I gave it a shot.  Thank god none of that is on video…

The accordion is the wave of the future, the Sound of the 80s!

Seeing as I shared the Weird Al/Michael Jackson congratulatory advertisement earlier in the week, I thought it would be fun to follow that up with this Al Yankovic fluff piece (and not just because he’s interviewed by Fozzie Bear) from the Fall 1984 issue of Muppet Magazine.  There’s not really that much to dig into as far as revelations, or any trivia that isn’t pretty common knowledge, but it is fun to see the duo in similar Hawaiian shirts…

I found it rather interesting that these articles from Muppet are attributed to both a muppet character and to the actual author (in this case Katy Dobbs.)  I mean if you’re going to try and keep the fantasy of the Muppets alive by having them “interview” the celebrities, why then go so far as to list the actual writers with an “as told by” credit?  I get crediting for the work, but I think it could be handled on the contents page or something.  Just think it’s a little weird.  Anyway, I thought it was neat that Yankovic also brought up the fact that he always asks for permission when doing a parody, and to connect it to last week, Fozzie’s favorite song is “Eat It” by Michael Jackson…

Also included in the 4-page spread was the lyrics to “Eat It” and “I Love Rocky Road”, which is a nice touch.  Not sure if the lyrics were in the liner notes of Yankovic’s albums back then, but as a kid I would have totally loved being able to see them transcribed like that…

The vacation is almost over, but there’s still more Muppet Magazine!

It’s day five and I think we should be lounging around our resort today.  While I’m away looking for the arcade that was advertises to be at the place we’re staying, why don’t you take a gander at one of the meatier bits from the Fall 1984 issue of Muppet Magazine.  This time we’re taking a look at the cover story, which has reader questions answered by the man, Mr. T!

By the by, Mr. T plus the Muppets equals bliss.

Hopefully I didn’t get lost in Disney and will be back next week to catch up on some of the League Assignments as well as some other things I have on the back burner.  See you then!

Day 4 = Mini Halloween fun!

It’s day four.  If everything is going according to schedule I’ll be headed to the Magic Kingdom today and spending the better part of that time trying to convinve my wife that we should ride the Haunted Mansion at least ten times.  We’ll see if I win that argument.  In the meantime, while I’m out, here’s some more fun from the Fall 1984 issue of Muppet Magazine.  Today it’s all about Janice from the Electric Mayhem showing kids how easy it is to transform into your favorite rock superstar for Halloween!

The Michael Jackson and Boy George redos are fun…

     

…but my heart will always belong to Cyndi Lauper!

Vacation, Day 2! More Muppet Magazine!

It’s day two of my day job vacation, and I’m diving back into the Fall 1984 Issue of Muppet Magazine to share a couple more advertisements…

First up is this Advertisement for Unico.  I’ve never heard of this series, but tiny flying Japanese unicorns look pretty darn fun to me.  I love that this ad wasn’t geared towards girls, but instead features a boy and a girl.  Everyone loves unicorns, right?

Next up is this ad for Hallmark stickers.  What I thought was pretty cool about this is that beyond the odd issue of Stickers Magazine, I never tend to see ads for stickers, let alone the more generic Hallmark stickers.  It’s something I love about back issues of Muppet Mag!