This is the story all about how my life got flipped turned upside down… all because of a box of product samples given away by Blockbuster in the 1990s.
See, I was planning to do a Deadsites entry on Blockbuster. After digging up a version of its webpage from 1997, something caught my eye. That little yellow box on the lower-right.
“FREE BONUS PACK.”
What was that about? I had to know.
Once I clicked, the Deadsites plan took a backseat to a new mission. A mission to learn everything there was to know about Blockbuster’s “Bonus Boxes” — those being cardboard boxes filled with coupons and samples, given away at Blockbuster stores at scattered points throughout the ‘90s.
On Blockbuster’s 1997 website, these boxes were erroneously called Bonus Packs. Oh well, same difference.
Their description: “Inside is the sweetest mix of snack goodies, baby bars, coupons, freebie offers, game entries, and sugar treats. Open this treasure box up, and one little gleeful surprise after another spills out. Each one comes in perfect sizes for stashing away in secret spots and sneaking into places. Heh, heh, free stuff is cool!”
Apparently, these Bonus Boxes weren’t much different from the Treat Boxes formerly given away at Toys “R” Us stores. Technically free — but not really since you had to buy something to get one — the boxes gave Blockbuster’s promotional partners a chance to raise awareness about everything from breakfast cereal to laundry detergent, all by way of trial-sized samples.
Despite being a pretty frequent Blockbuster visitor throughout the ‘90s, I never knew about these boxes. I’m assuming that some of you did. You lucky pricks.
The spread of samples shown on Blockbuster’s site looked incredible, too. Holy shit, is that a pack of Cinn*A*Burst gum? And Starburst Fruit Twists?! I AM SO IN. Or at least, I’m kicking myself for not being in when I had the chance. Read More…
Assorted travels have left me with assorted trading card packs. I figured it was time to do something with them.
…so I ripped open the six shown above, and challenged myself to name the best card in each of them. This wasn’t as easy as it sounds. For example, in the case of the Gremlins 2 pack, I was forced to choose between a glamour shot of Lenny and a card depicting the scene where Murray Futterman pours wet cement all over the Bat Gremlin. My whole head melted.
Off we go! Read More…
Uh oh — the coffee cups are back!
If you recall, I asked Dino Drac readers to submit photos of their weirdest coffee cups, owing to morbid curiosity and probably worse. That was back in July. Over a hundred of you accepted the challenge, and I was so overwhelmed the sheer volume of strange mugs that it took me more than half a year to start building the gallery.
In February, we looked at 25 crazy mugs sent in by Dino Drac’s thirstiest readers. Today, we’ll bring that number up to 50. In Part 2 of The Coffee Cup Exhibition, enjoy another 25 mugs, belonging to complete strangers from across the globe.
For this article, I am merely the curator. The photos and stories pasted below come from the individual cup owners. I think you’ll enjoy seeing the cups, but I think you’ll enjoy learning why they mean so much to their owners even more. It’s a kind of voyeurism. Like a dumb version of Rear Window.
#26 – Counselor Deanna Troi the Coffee Cup!
Submitted by Nina S.
“Though born into a Star Wars family, my cultish devotion to the animated series Gargoyles allowed me to cultivate an appreciation for the actors of Star Trek: TNG, many of whom voiced characters in the Disney cartoon.
“It’s been a difficult few months for me, so I decided to book an appointment with my therapist to do some mental housekeeping. ‘I have no idea where this came from, but I figured you’d appreciate it,’ she told me, as she brought me freshly brewed green tea in this marvelous flagon.
“That is why she’s a great therapist.” Read More…
Continuing on with another look at old comic book ads, this time I’m focusing on the classifieds. These were smaller ads, often no taller than an inch, tossed by the dozens onto individual pages. For me, that was where the real magic happened.
These ads had to make an impression with few words and tiny photos, and they most often did so with wild exaggerations and impossible promises. If it sounded too good to be true, it was, but man did it sound good!
The classified ads in old comics were also where you’d find the trashiest stuff, or at least things that would never sail in 2015. A single page from 1980 may have given kids the chance to order everything from serious knives to live chickens, at prices they could afford.
By contrast, most of the ads I’m about to feature are pretty tame, but for one reason or another, they all excite me to pieces.
The Thing #20, February 1985
During the Transformers’ golden era, “lesser” transforming robot figure were sold by a variety of makers. Even aside from Gobots, I think everyone had a few Transformers that weren’t really Transformers.
This “Moto-Bot” fellow is more famous than a dingy comic book ad might suggest, having been sold by many companies, with his own special packaging and everything. $2.50 for a robot dump truck with motorized pull-back action seems like a sweet deal, even by 1985 standards. Read More…
I’ve been doing some spring cleaning, so before I shuffle parts of my old candy collection onto shelves that are too annoying to reach twice, I thought I’d pay tribute to them here. Turning crud into content makes me feel less bad about buying twenty-year-old Spider-Man gumballs, after all.
Candy Mouse Candy Tarts!
Just another of the endless parade of “computer-themed” candies from the late ‘90s, Amurol’s Candy Mouse blends a computer mouse with a real mouse into something so mousy, I don’t even know how to finish this sentence. Mmoouussee?
Filled with lame candy tarts, you were of course only buying this for the container. With a length of black cord that could be construed as a computer mouse’s wire or a real mouse’s tail, I’m simultaneously impressed and aggravated with Amurol’s insistence on serving two masters. Mousters? Read More…