Dinosaur Dracula!

The Cinn*A*Burst Gum Tribute!

Surely you remember Cinn*A*Burst!

The legendary gum was Warner-Lambert’s attempt to do battle with Wrigley’s Big Red. How on Earth did they lose that war?!

Cinn*A*Burst hit the scene in September of 1991, just as I was entering the seventh grade. I hated all of middle school, but the seventh grade was a special kind of awful.

I was awkward and unpopular. I wore terrible clothes. My hair looked like the world’s biggest mushroom cap. My primary modes were “easy to ignore” and “easy to target.”

I mention this not to be maudlin, but because Cinn*A*Burst was actually my best weapon against the perils of junior high. In the seventh grade, you could buy your way out of plenty of trouble with the right gum.

Cinn*A*Burst was infused with “flavor crystals,” giving it a boost of candied spice and an oddly pleasant crunch. Everybody loved Cinn*A*Burst. At least, every kid in my junior high school did.

Five days a week, I’d bring at least six packs of it to school with me. Generally speaking, the kids I might’ve had issues with chose to let me live… as long as I shared my gum. I was like Augustus with his corn doles, only instead of becoming a beloved ruler, my reward was to not get punched in the ear.

I don’t know exactly when Cinn*A*Burst stopped being made, but it did. By then, I wasn’t paying attention. This amazing gum that meant so much for my mouth and social status went out with a whimper, and I’ll forever regret not being there during its time of need. All I can do now is help to keep the memory alive.

To jog your memories, below are examinations its five best TV commercials: Read More…

Ninja Turtles “Sumo Raphael” Figure!

Playmates’ original collection of Ninja Turtles toys survived for longer than you might’ve noticed, because if you’re around my age, you probably outgrew five-inch Donatellos before the rest of the world did.

It’s a shame, because as the line entered its final years, Playmates made some desperate but creative attempts to keep those Turtles afloat. Objectively speaking, many of the collection’s best figures came out near the end.

Here’s one example:

Believe it or not, this existed! “Sumo Raphael,” released in 1995, was just one of the seemingly countless revamps to the main Turtles, who by that point had been everything from astronauts to cowboys to Universal Monsters. I always preferred unique characters to the endless Ninja Turtle revisions, but when they worked, they really worked.

And a big-bellied Raphael with Yokozuna’s hair? Yeah, that really worked. Read More…

1992 TRU Jurassic Park Treat Box!

If you’ve been around Dino Drac long enough, you’ve probably read my article about the legendary Toys “R” Us Treat Box. Of course, “legendary” may be too strong a word, since I seem to be the only one who remembers them. Thank God for material evidence.

Brother, you missed out. At scattered points during the ‘90s, TRU paired up with various sponsors to give away cardboard “lunchboxes,” filled with samples and coupons. More importantly, every time they ran the promotion, the box had a different and even more awesome theme. (I already told you about the Batman Returns version, which included, among other things, a cutout Catwoman mask.)

Now here’s another, from later that year: The Jurassic Park “R” Treat Box!

Jurassic Park debuted in June of ‘93, but this box is actually from late ’92. That should give you an idea of how long and deep the film’s marketing ran.

These giveaways were promoted in TRU’s Sunday circulars, and whenever they came around, I was always there. I cannot possibly overstate how much I loved the “R” Treat Boxes! They were free with any (literally any) purchase, so it’s not like you had to jump through any major hoop to get one.

I don’t have the original samples that were once tucked inside, but imagine things like a pack of gum and a teensy bit of Crest toothpaste. If you were lucky enough, there’d even be a bag of chips or cookies. I remember treating those things like priceless artifacts that were to be left unmolested for all of time. (For roughly ten minutes. Then I ate everything.)

The free junk made me feel like such a star, but even the empty boxes were worth celebrating. Covered with good reasons to cut them into a million pieces, here are the key features of the Jurassic Park version: Read More…

Vintage Vending #13: Trash Can Tots!

Last night on Dino Drac’s Facebook page, I randomly opened an old pack of Garbage Pail Kids. Doing so stirred many memories of my childhood GPK obsession, which had some incredible highs and lows.

If you were alive at the time, you should remember the highs. Collecting Garbage Pail Kids was something most kids had in common. You could talk about those cards with just about anyone. They were a way to turn the most distant acquaintance into a fast friend. We’d compare collections, trade our doubles, and just be so comfortable in the weirdness of it all. Hey, everyone else was doing the same thing.

The lows, at least around here, happened after word spread that they were “bad luck.” Things changed instantly. If you had GPK stickers on your marble notebooks, it was time to scratch them off. To be seen with them was to basically be a leper via accessory. Garbage Pail Kids were already sliding in popularity, but this was a different kind of peer pressure. Nobody wanted “the curse.”

Opening up that pack also reminded me that I had this. Garbage Pail Kids were popular enough to inspire legions of would-be usurpers. Over the years, there must have been dozens of upstart trading card sets that took more than a little inspiration from them. Very few of those sets caught on in any memorable way, but if you were a kid who liked disgusting trading cards, boy, you had options.

What you see above is the teaser card for Trash Can Tots, a shameless GPK ripoff distributed solely through vending machines in the ‘80s. Sold in uncut strips of three, the set is legendary among GPK diehards for its crude art and uninspired designs. Read More…