Tag Archives: Toys

A Very Gummy Halloween…

Well, now that we’re in September most of the stores have started rolling out their seasonal swag.  I haven’t fully dived into the merchandise yet, but I have been picking up a lot of sugary items.  I thought I’d share some of the stuff that’s stuck out so far, in particular some of the gummy candies that I thought were interesting.

First up we have a package of Target branded Berry Oozing Gummy Candy Skulls…

Every year there are a lot of “generic” Halloween gummy candies that are packaged and re-packaged under different brands.  So no matter where you go, you tend to find the same little red, white, and blue gummy brains and multi-colored gummy candy corn under a multitude of different store packaging.  The same is true this year, though amidst the pile at Target were these seriously creepy gummy skulls that were sort of a breath of fresh air since the mold is completely unfamiliar to me.  I was really impressed with the eerie vein-y-ness and clenched teeth on these skulls, and was intrigued by their berry-flavored ozzing blood…

Flavor-wise, these guys aren’t bad, though I’m not usually a fan of the opaque, marshmallow gummy candies.  The oozing factor was cool and was surprisingly abundant in most of the heads (which is rare with this sort of gimmick.)  As far as the packaging goes, it’s pretty sparse as most of the Target branded candy packaging is and features only one of their 2011 kid-centric Halloween characters.  It’s looking pretty clear that the characters they’ve designed are going in the Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends direction, which seems to be the theme in a lot of the stores this year.

The next gummy selection is the one big name brand entry today, a box of Lifesavers Spooky Shapes Gummies.  I remember these from last year with these same “Universal” monster mascots (which also appear on packages of Bubble Tape), though they were only available in a big bag of individual packets.  I like that they offered a small box so that I could more affordably try them…

I’m also glad because these were the only gummy candies that I absolutely couldn’t stand the flavor of, so I won’t have any extra packets that I’ll have to pawn off on unsuspecting Trick-or-Treaters later.  There are a lot of gummy products on on the market that get Halloween-y branded packaging this time of year, but not all that many that actually use seasonal molds, so I do have to give these credit for at least having spooky shapes.  I was surprised that there were so few though, as the larger bag has a whole bunch more…

Finally we have a couple different offerings from the Black Forest brand under the Ferrara Pan Candy Company…

   

There was a pretty neat display of these at my local Kroger which featured individual bags of both Gummy Vampires and Werewolves.  As an added attraction, the Vampire gummys were also “Juicy Oozers”. Both sets had fun themed shapes (the werewolf pack featured wolf paw prints as well werewolf bodies and heads, while the vampire pack had bats, coffins, vampire mouths and heads.)  Though the oozing wasn’t as prevalent in these gummys as the Target skulls, these both featured some of the best tasting gummies so far.  I also really love the packaging design.  You don’t see very many werewolf themed food products, at least not nearly as many as I’d like.

There are some more Halloween gummy products that I want to talk about, but they’re a little different than these, so I think I’ll save those for later in the month…

Garbage Pail Kids + M.U.S.C.L.E. + Erasers = The Trash Pack

Though I tend not to cover much of the modern merchandising that plays off of 80s nostalgia, from time to time I do see some stuff that I just have to share.  While walking around Toys R Us the other day looking at their new Halloween displays I stumbled upon some little toys that really caught my eye.  They’re called the Trash Pack

In a nutshell, these little guys are the equivalent of the cheap-o vending toys you tend to find at the entrances to grocery stores and as prizes in arcades.  They’re a collection of 1″ monsters, critters, spoiled food items and bugs (both micro-biotic and insectile in nature) that are a cross between a pencil topper and a charm toy.  Normally I probably would have passed these up as the available packages (containing either 5 or 12 figures) were pretty pricey ($6 for 5 and $10 for 12), but the sheer amount of 80s era influeces packed into these little guys was just too attractive…

First off, the figures are packaged in little plastic garbage cans that immediately evoke the M.U.S.C.L.E. men phenomenon, but there’s also an obvious Garbage Pail Kids vibe with the all the gross gags and collectability.  On top of that these are also riffing off of the current resurgence of figural eraser collecting that’s really gripped kids for the first time in 25 years.  If these had also come with stickers I think my mind would have melted…

  

All in all I have to say that even though the thought that went into the merchandising was pretty cool, the price-point is just way too out of whack.  All told there are almost 200 different figures (including color variations on around 55 different molds) and the chances of scoring a complete set for under $100 seems pretty slim.  When you consider that these are just glorified vending toys, that makes these guys pretty darn expensive.  Also, though some of the molds are pretty cool (I highlighted my favorites in the photos), there are a lot that just don’t read well (in terms of coming across as what they are.)  These are available in 2, 5, and 12 packs, and I think that if the price was reduced by half they might catch on, but I have a hard time seeing parents plunking down the kind of cash it would take to get there kids started out on a decent collection.

  

OMFG! Update and some creativity…

I have no idea where this week has gone too!  Well, I figured I’d through up a quite post to update on the progress of the below OMFG! Kickstarter project which just this morning crossed over the funding mark.  There’s still a good month and a half to go until the campaign is over so if you’re interested in helping fun a possible Series 2 and would like to get your hands on some cool toys in the process, head on over and make a pledge.  I’ve been pretty inspired by this whole community toy project that I threw my hat in the ring with a couple of designs for the 2nd series.  First up is a little guy I call Boom Box

The drawing is a little wonky, but the concept hopefully gets across.  He’s a little bit hip hop, a little Soundwave/Megatron mash-up, and a whole lot of Boom!  I’m thinking he also has an evil twin named Ghetto Blaster…

Next up is more of a silly idea that I had to draw once it popped into my head.  It’s Stripe the Gremlin wearing a Mogwai (read Gizmo) hoodie.  Probably a little too “brand” specific for the OMFG! minifigures, but I had a lot of fun drawing him.  Think I might take a crack at coloring him this weekend (And now I did, though only some basic colors)…

 

Anyway, if you’re at all interested in the OMFG! project, head on over to the Kickstarter page or the October Toys forums and get in on the fun and speak up about your favorite designs!

Monster in My Pocket + M.U.S.C.L.E.s = OMFG! Series 1!

If there’s one aspect of this site that I tend to neglect, it’s a lot of the more current news and interesting tidbits that are heavily influenced by the 80s era craziness I typically expound upon.  It’s no secret that in the past five or six years there’s been a huge resurgence in the popularity of the toys, movies, and music of the eighties, but for the most part I’ve always felt that there are plenty of other sites that address this stuff better than I’d be able to, particularly with keeping timely updates and such.  Lately though there have been a handful of things hitting my radar that are so cool, I’ve had to flip my perspective and look forward.  With that in mind I thought I’d take a second today to point towards a really awesome independent toy project I stumbled upon yesterday (thanks to Jason at Open Your Toys) that should be exciting to all those kids who grew up collecting and trading M.U.S.C.L.E.s and Monster in My Pocket mini figures…

Created by a community of toy enthusiasts and artists, and spearheaded by the fine folks over at October Toys, these OMFG! (Outlandish Mini Figure Guys) are preparing to descend upon nostalgic toy collectors everywhere.  The first series features five outstanding creatures including the king of bone-daddys, Multiskull, a swampy southern man monster known as the Crawdad Kid, the frontier’s worst nightmare, the Phantom Outhouse, a master of his own castle, King Castor, and a cryptid that would give the purple people eater a run for his money, Stroll.

This community toy jam has been gestating on the October Toys forums for the past four months or so and has culminated with the launch of a Kickstarter fundraising project to make these little guys a reality.  If you’re the type of guy or gal that’s interested in collectable vinyl figures, nostalgic relaunches (like the Transformers Classics and the 25th anniversary G.I. Joes), or you’re still teary-eyed because your parents gave away all your M.U.S.C.L.E.s to the little brat down the street when you were off at college, then you might want to head on over to the OMFG! Kickstarter campaign and make a pledge today!

Spock boldy went where not many Mego action figures have gone before, the house of Branded!

Well, as I’ve hinted at in the past month, the house of Branded was visited by none other than that crazy stone-faced, logical Vulcan Spock!  I recently played host to Eclectorama’s traveling Spock Mego figure on it way around North America, and it was my duty to show him a good time around Duluth, Atlanta, and Athens, Georgia.  Well, the pictures are back from the photomat and they’re up over at Charles’ site!  So click on the picture of Spock below to skate on over to see his vacation photos!

I had a lot of fun with Spock and was a little sad to see him go, but on the bright side, I handed him off to the wonderfully talented Liz Vitale of Puppatoons fame, so I know he’s in good hands.

My hand hurts from painting such action packed art!

The fantabulous Bubblegum Fink passed along a link on his blog to an awesome site filled with G.I. Joe packaging art and file cards called the Art of Joe Online. It’s limited to 1982-1985 which covers the majority of the first wave (when the art had that kick ass burst of flame behind the characters as opposed to the later art which had the weird pixilated digital fire burst) of action figure and vehicle packaging art as well as art from puzzles and some of the book and catalog covers. The cheeky bastard(s) has/have also hidden other G. I. Joe art databases within the pages. If you click on the ‘About‘ link on the front page there’s a list of easter egg hints. I only managed to find a couple, apparently knowing IS only half the battle as I couldn’t figure out the hints, but it was fun nonetheless.  You can click on Mr. Cobra Eels to join the hunt…

Only 25 tickets! That’s a steal…

The woman and I decided this past weekend to “do it up right”, by which I mean that I practically forced her out of the apartment on an adventure to a flea market in the middle of nowhere followed by her choice of fun eating establishment, namely Stevie B’s pizza buffet (which is like the unloved smaller cousin of Chuck E. Cheese with a lot less games and a lot more weird pizza toppings.)

I sought out the flea market in hopes of finding some fun gems from the 80′s but didn’t really find anything. There was one stand that had a bunch of comics and a few magazines. The comics were so mixed up that it was way too much of a chore to look through them, though I did find an issue of Marvel’s Alf for $0.50, so I snagged that. I found a couple Starlogs from the early 80′s with articles on the Dark Crystal and V, so I’m sure I’ll be sharing those in the coming months. Other than that it was a bust though, so I left feeling like I’d never find anything cool from my childhood, at least not this particular weekend.

When we hit Stevie B’s my only expectation was weird ass pizza and some ghetto skee ball. As far as pizza goes, we hit the jackpot. On the buffet were no less than five weird ass pizzas including, baked potato pizza (slices of baked potato, bacon, and cheddar cheese with a sour cream-esque sauce), taco pizza (slasa base topped with ground beef, cheddar cheese, black olives and lettuce), nacho pizza (same as the taco pizza with no lettuce and a lot more corn tortilla chips), mac & cheese pizza (think pizza crust topped with mac & cheese and then topped with mozzarella cheese), and for dessert, Boston cream pie pizza (let your imagination run wild.) Definitely cheered me up.

I was coasting on semi-terrible yet amazingly fun pizza when we hit the tiny game room in the back, hoping that the Galaga machine was at least still there, when I saw them. Two boys were cashing in their meager strings of prize tickets for these little red and yellow envelopes that contained a blast from my childhood. Power Prop Flying Gliders. The day was now complete.

I must have won a hundred of these fragile Styrofoam WWII gliders from Chuck E. Cheese, Showbiz pizza, and the couple of arcades I went to as a kid. Out of all the bins of plastic spider rings, crayons, little plastic jumping frogs, super bounce balls, fake plastic moustaches and pixie sticks, the Power Prop Flying Gliders looked like the best possible option, the winner of the beauty pageant that was cashing in tickets for prizes. It was like the Wheel of Fortune back in the 80′s when you’d spend your loot on the crap residing in the rooms on the spinning platform, and the gliders were always the first choice, with a spider ring thrown in to spend out the ticket change.

As you can see from the scan above, they really are simple as hell. One body with two slits punched in it for the wings and tail rudders, one plastic weight (and propeller holder), and one propeller and pin.

I managed to get enough tickets on crappy skee ball and this weird “shoot a token into a hole via a ski slope” game to get three of these gliders. These are exactly as I remember them, down to the styles and packaging. I’m not sure if these were a product of the 80′s or if they were gliding through parking lots and crowded birthday parties in the 60′s and 70′s as well, but I haven’t seen on in almost 25 years.

I left it up to the lady at the ticket counter to pick out my three gliders because I wanted to be surprised, and she did a pretty good job picking. Not only did I not get a duplicate, but I also got one of three different WWII factions, America, Japan, and Germany. She also managed to pull out one of my favorite designs, the EOCKE Wulf TA 152H, better known in my simple mind as the purplish, blue-red one with the German symbol on it.

After a quick scan of the available designs on the back, the Wulf is the one I’d choose first every time. So yea, me. When I got home and constructed them I went through the same range of emotions that I probably went through as a child, that it felt too light and skimpy to actually fly and then the amazement of watching it soar along my apartment hallway when it did in fact fly very well.

When I was a kid I always wanted one of those large sturdy Styrofoam airplanes that people were always demo-ing in the mall, the all white ones with the blue and red stripes down the side and a penny inserted into slits on both sides of the nose to give it weight. They would always do these awesome loop-de-loops in the open air of the mall and it fascinated me, though they were a bit steeply priced for what they were and I invariably ended up with the flying gliders that I’d score at Chuck E. Cheese instead. In the end, I’m glad I did.

All in all it made for a nice capper to a fun weekend.

3.75" pf Plastic Heaven revisited…

See Hoov, I learn from my mistakes eventually…

Nala over at Plastic Crack tipped me off to a new line of G.I. Joe Classics 3.75″ 25th anniversary figures that Hasbro will be releasing soon.  On the tail of the Transformers Classics line this is both cool and probably a hazard to my bank account.  I especially dig the Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes figures, but the basic Cobra Trooper and Scarlett are pretty bad ass.  Here are a load of pictures from the new line…

The Baroness is pretty good, but her glasses just look awful.  Maybe on the actual figure they’ll look a little better…

The Destro figure is pretty awesome too.  I love that the guns fit in the holsters and junk.

Dukes pretty boring, but then again, Duke is pretty boring, so no surprise there.

So what’s next, a 20th anniversary edition of the Masters of the Universe flick and an uber cool toy line to go with it?  Nevermind…