Dinosaur Dracula!

Vlog: TMNT Sewer Exploration Belt, from 1990.

One of the less-referenced reasons why Playmates’ old Ninja Turtles toys were so great was that they were so strange, and nothing proves it quite like the Sewer Exploration Belt, from 1990.

A kid-sized arsenal of goofy crap in the vein of Batman’s utility belt, it covered every base. A real working compass! A big plastic bear trap! A can of ooze! TONGS!

With so much glory spanning across eighteen inches of green plastic, I needed a full fifteen minutes to explain it all:

And here’s the alternate link for YouTube loyalists.

With the Sewer Exploration Belt being so impossibly up my alley, I’m surprised I didn’t catch wind of it as a child. I might have been too big for it even by 1990, but I doubt that would’ve stopped me. Even if I couldn’t wear it, who could turn down a plastic device with a side container for retromutagen ooze?

/swoon

I’d write more, but that’s what the video is for. It was carefully scripted, and guest stars one of Hollywood’s all-time greats. Enjoy it for however many minutes you can stand. I give you four, tops.

Mad Mascots: Bigg Mixx!

Through crooked senses, “Bigg Mixx” rhymes with “brilliance.” And it should.

The cereal was named after its mascot, a beast that was part chicken, part wolf, part moose and part pig. Think Foghorn Leghorn, after a mishap with Seth Brundle’s telepods. I could try to come up with some adjective that I haven’t used in 4000 other reviews, but this time, “awesome” is all that fits. Bigg Mixx was awesome.

I never tried the cereal, because as a kid, somehow, Bigg Mixx the mascot did nothing for me. I guess it takes a more sophisticated level of taste to appreciate a four-way hybrid animal monster. Back in 1990, I just didn’t have it. Shame on me. If only Kellogg’s had armed him with some kind of futuristic ice blue missile launcher.

Here’s the old Bigg Mixx commercial, as viewed on someone’s tube television… Read More…

The Trash Pack Schoolbag!

I feel I’ve committed a grave sin in having waited this long to say anything about The Trash Pack, a line of wonderful little monster figures made by Moose Toys. On the scale of M.U.S.C.L.E. but with the sensibility of Madballs, this is the exact kind of thing that someone like me should publicly support. God, please forgive me.

Well, God probably doesn’t care. But I hope Moose Toys forgives me.

There’s a veritable army of figures available, each hidden inside its own tiny garbage pail. If you like monsters, you will fall in love with the Trash Pack instantly. There isn’t a single Trashie that I don’t like.

One is based on a diseased seagull. Another looks like Frankenstein’s monster. Then there’s a Trashie who is literally a living wad of chewed bubble gum. How on earth am I supposed to pick a favorite?

Some Trashies are rarer than others. Admittedly, this is how Moose Toys gets you to buy duplicate Trashies. You may end up with ten “Rancid Steak” figures, but that’s the cost of hunting the ultra rare “Bin Scab Beetle.” Oh sure, some people will hit the jackpot on their first purchase, but if our lives have been any indication, it won’t be us.

I can’t say enough good things about these figures, but I’m going to stop here. There’s already plenty of Trash Pack info online, from the full story on their official site to a fan’s view by my buddy Jonathan.

No, I’m here to tell you about something else. The motherfucking Trash Pack schoolbag. Read More…

Dinosaur Dracula at the Beach Fair!

There was some kind of weird beach fair thing in Staten Island this past weekend. I’m never one to turn down weird beach fair things.

The event exceeded expectations. It was like a tiny-sized, bootleg version of Wildwood out there. There weren’t any roller coasters, but they did have a giant, inflatable gorilla! There weren’t any arcades, but you could pay a dollar to fish plastic ducks out of a filthy pool, and trade them in for stuffed animals!

It was an endless sidewalk of street vendors, peddling everything from movies to food to toys, set against the backdrop of what Staten Island considers a beach.

Here are the highlights, but they come with a warning. I’m writing this with a terrible headache. I can’t be funny with a terrible headache, and can only set my sights as high as “coherent.”

The biggest draw was a series of enormous inflatable rides, set up on a grass field near the concrete pseudo-boardwalk. The one above was clearly the star attraction. A giant gorilla battling a giant dinosaur, in a scene that had to be inspired by King Kong. If it wasn’t, please clue me in about the other movies featuring giant apes fighting dinosaurs. I’d love to see them! Read More…

SPOTTED: Starscream in Top Gun!

Remember that “X-E Dissects” series on the old site, where we visited fictitious locales like Fred Savage’s bedroom and the wacky store from The Facts of Life, searching for real life retail goodies?

It was one of the last things I was totally into doing on X-E, and I have every intention of continuing that series on Dino Drac.

Course, there are plenty of fun things hiding in movies and TV shows that don’t necessarily warrant a complete dissection. So let’s consider this a spinoff of that, on a smaller scale.

It even has its own banner:

Pro, right?

What this is: Sometimes, you’ll be watching a film or a show, and some random character will have some random brand name item from real life. Because familiarity is such a rockin’ thrill, whenever this happens, you flip.

“Oh my God, that guy is drinking Apple Slice. I remember Apple Slice. I drank Apple Slice!”

SPOTTED (the exclamation point is optional) pays tribute to those happy moments, whenever and wherever they’re found.

In an unexpected twist, we’re gonna start with the Starscream action figure, from the G1 Transformers line.

That’s Starscream, next to a onion. He’s missing his wings, fists and a bunch of other pieces, and he looks like dogs have been chewing him, but make no mistake, that is Starscream.

Even in their ‘80s heyday, the G1 Decepticon jets seemed more for collectors than kids, with so many of the critical parts being so easy to lose. Many of the early Transformers toys were that way, and if we’re reaching, they inadvertently taught us important life lessons about patience and responsibility.

No kid wanted to spend all afternoon crying because Starscream had no hands, or because Optimus couldn’t find Roller. If you didn’t take care of that shit, there were consequences.

I’m getting away from the point, so let me run back to it. Envision loud footsteps here.

Starscream didn’t only appear in Transformers-related things, and in photos next to onions.

He was also in Top Gun! Read More…

Ten things I wanted to buy at Monster-Mania.

We dropped by the Monster-Mania horror convention in Cherry Hill last night, pretty much on a whim. Wasn’t planning to stay over, and with the last remaining rooms being $179 a night, I’m glad we didn’t.

I haven’t been to the New Jersey version of the con in years. This visit was confirmation that I like their Maryland-based conventions better. It’s a longer drive, but the Maryland hotel is much weirder/cooler/more fitting, not to mention roomier.  Perhaps I should’ve opened this paragraph with the phrase, “dear diary.”

Monster-Mania has grown wildly popular. Even on Friday night, when the convention was just getting started, the crowds were enormous.  Especially impressive when you consider that the original autographing headliner, Clive Barker, had to cancel. I refuse to believe that so many people came out for Carl Weathers. At this stage, Monster-Mania seems to be making its way on name alone. Good for them!

I’m not a convention guy by any stretch, but these just have such a friendly atmosphere, and despite the crowds, you never really feel as though you’re among the cattle. While you’d be silly to go to one if you’re not at all into horror movies, that theme is widely defined. So long as you can stand the sight of Freddy Krueger, there’s something for everyone.

I won’t bother with a full con report, because I wasn’t there for the whole con. Nor did I give the autograph rooms more than a passing glance, because after paying the guy from Gremlins to draw me a jack o’ lantern last year, there was nowhere to go but down.

Not fronting. The only reason I went there was for the dealer rooms. Yes, $50 in admission costs for me and the missus, just so I could buy things.

I had Dino Drac’s first Halloween season on the brain. The mission was to find a few things worth covering whenever those festivities end up starting. I think I made out okay, but what I left behind will haunt me for weeks. I didn’t want to be an idiot with my money, but man, there were some great things there. I thought about them the whole ride home. Even took pictures, because those are the mementos I don’t have to feel guilty about.

With that, here are ten things I kinda sorta wanted to buy at Monster-Mania, but didn’t. Read More…