May 27th, 1998.
I was an absolute mess!
It was my first year in college, and I was Big Time Tanking. The friends I was closest with in high school all went to different colleges, and I made exactly zero new ones at mine. The ones I had left were few and far between. My list of vices was long enough to require multiple pages. I had no idea what I was doing or where I was going. I have journals from that year that are so filled with misery that they honestly read like parodies.
Even then, I’m sugarcoating things. If I was totally honest with you about this, I could never face you again. And, who knows, tomorrow I might want to review a new Doritos flavor.
But it’s important to give you some idea of who I was and where my head was at, because it’ll help you understand why I clung so dearly to this:
My old toy room.
May 27th, 1998.
I’ve been writing about old toys since April of 2000, and even from the start, it was more with a “remembered” passion than an existing one. By 2000, I wasn’t a collector — at least not by the definition we usually mean. Enthusiast, dabbler and cherry-picker, sure, but not a collector.
Back in 1998, I was definitely a collector. I’d been a collector for years by then, but you know how it is when you’re a careless kid and everything else goes to shit. You focus on your happy hobbies and pretend it’s okay to ignore everything else. In 1998, I was in DEEP.
I didn’t recognize it as an “escape” at the time, but I sure do in retrospect. And boy, I threw myself into it. I’d just gotten my first only-for-me computer, and I spent almost all of my free time wheeling and dealing on message boards and newsgroups. There was a pretty big group of toy traders online, back before eBay made things too easy, and back before the USPS priced us out of our hobby.
I was really good at it, too. Good and lucky. I can still remember dozens of my best deals, but two stand taller than the rest:
1) A seller had an immense collection of vintage Star Wars figures and vehicles. Something like 60 complete figures in near-mint condition, and over 25 different vehicles and playsets, all with their boxes. He charged me $2 for each figure, which was way cheap, but his prices on the vehicles and playsets were even more insane. I didn’t realize until later that he’d looked at the ancient price stickers and charged me half of their original retail cost. So I was buying shit like the Imperial Shuttle, complete-in-box with the instruction manual and everything, for 14 bucks.
2) About a week after I decided to collect G1 Transformers figures, a trader got in touch with me. He said he’d obtained tons of them, but didn’t have the patience to figure out who was who and what was what. He wanted a simple “package trade” deal. I put together a box that couldn’t have had more than a hundred bucks’ worth of stuff in it, pulling from various lines that he’d expressed interest in. I agreed to send before he did, and he was happy with the contents.
And then he sent MY boxes.
I’ll never forget that day. Six or seven absolutely enormous packages arrived all at once. Boxes that once housed things like TV sets and major appliances. I was nearly in tears after opening them. It was almost the entire collection of G1 Transformers, all complete, some still in boxes, and some still in SEALED boxes. Many in doubles. Many in triples. Even in 1998, the collection had to be worth over ten grand.
Most of my scores weren’t nearly as noteworthy. One figure here, one figure there. I’d send this, they’d send that. I’d get five or six packages a day, and send out just as many. I almost never bought things, and only sold enough to cover my constant shipping expenses. 90% of what I had was through trades.
Now let’s get back to that toy room… Read More…
If you’re smart, you’ll watch Jingle All the Way at least once before Christmas. Arnold Schwarzenegger battling Sinbad for 1996’s hottest toy, all so he could make little Anakin Skywalker think he was a good dad? Uh, YES. The ludicrous but lovable film was stupid in all the best ways.
There’s another reason to see it, though.
If you’ll recall, Arnold (sorry, I can only call him Arnold) spent most of the movie hunting a Turbo Man action figure. (A fictitious creation for the film, even if it ultimately became a real thing.)
But since every kid wanted a Turbo Man, obtaining one was nearly impossible. Arnold found this out the hard way, during his infamous trip to Play Co. Toys — the movie’s stand-in for Toys “R” Us.
When toy stores appear in movies, the production team is usually careful to avoid showing too many “real world” items. In Jingle All the Way, all bets were off. Play Co. Toys was LOADED with real world stuff. It was just like being at a TRU in the mid ‘90s.
Some of the items were immediately recognizable. With others, you’d never know what you were looking at without a frame-by-frame investigation. Which is exactly what I did!
In the latest Dino Drac dissection, I’ve picked out twenty-nine different real world toys hiding in Jingle All the Way. This took what felt like a year but was actually only a day and a half. Here’s the breakdown, and a big thanks to RKOLemonJack for telling me to give this movie a closer look!
NOTE: The title of each item below links to more information about it, including others’ reviews or even the original TV commercials. Click ’em if you’re interested! Read More…
Christmas was great. One for the ages, really. It must have been, since I ended it by sleeping for thirteen hours straight.
I’m used to feeling a bit down on the 26th, but this year, I think I did the perfect amount of Christmasing. Enough to where I don’t feel like any stones were left unturned, but no so much that I’m now ready to burn down my tree while doing the death metal horn fingers.
Our Christmas Eve party was the usual seven hours of complete mayhem. Over thirty people shouting at each other, with enough food and booze to cover triple that number.
It all started with a bang, too.
My family — mainly one of my sisters — surprised me by recreating my 1993 Christmas Tiki Hut! Even today, I don’t have the words. If I can count this as a “Christmas present,” it’s one of the best ones I’ve ever received.
Using the photo from this post as their guide, everything that was possible to recreate was recreated. They even found the same tiki glasses!
There was the rusty carafe full of Slim Jims… the hard-boiled eggs topped with cheap caviar… even the infamous “olive tree!”
Fittingly, they put the Tiki Hut in the basement. Like mine, it was stationed away from the main party, so all of the already-gross food could get even grosser with each passing hour. Perfect!
This was honestly one of the nicest things anyone’s ever done for me. If I’ll remember the 2013 Christmas season for anything, it’ll be this monstrosity. The one covered with crackers and toys, and the sorts of decorations that keep Oriental Trading in business. Read More…
I’m half-crocked on wine that tasted a little too much like vinegar, so apologies in advance if I make eighteen typos.
Christmas Eve is here. My favorite day of the whole year. Everything leads up to it, and everything after it leads up to the next one. Weird!
I haven’t posted as much as I would’ve liked to lately, but it’s not for any bad reason. Some of my more distant relatives are in town, and this whole past week has been filled with “Mini Christmases.” I didn’t want to miss any of them for the sake of one more candy review. Shit happens.
Today was nuts. We made a hundred stuffed mushrooms, and when I say “a hundred,” I don’t mean “a pile that looked like a hundred but was actually thirty.” I mean a literal HUNDRED stuffed mushrooms. I haven’t chopped that much parsley since I needed hair for my life-sized edible Joker.
Then came the last minute shopping. There was a lot of it. The stores actually weren’t too crowded, but when you’re shopping for gifts this late in the game, chances are that you have no idea what to buy. At least, I didn’t.
Some lady at Target asked if I needed help with anything. My impulse was to hug her ankles and scream, “I need SO MUCH help with EVERYTHING.” Instead I said “no” and continued walking in mindless circles for another twenty minutes. Hope you like cheap chocolate fountains, Sis.
When all was said and done, I took care of my to-dos, and even had enough time to come in 2nd in a surprise Scrabble game. (I lost to my nephew, but that’s okay, because I beat my brother. All I cared about was beating my brother.)
I’ve had a great Christmas season. Had a great Halloween season, too. You’ve heard my spiels before. September, October, November and December – those are my months. When I think of the “holiday season,” it’s that whole four-month stretch. It ain’t over yet, but this has definitely been one of my favorites. The wine says so.
But it’s not just the wine. I’m so thankful for the friends I’ve made through doing whatever the stuff I do here is. I’m so thankful that people still read/watch the stuff I do even though I’ve been doing it for a hundred billion years. I’m so thankful that I named my site Dinosaur Dracula, because it’s so much fun to draw that with crayons.
I want to wish everyone a merry Christmas, or whatever it is that you’re celebrating. Have a blast. Thank you to death for being a part of my anthill empire. I love you even if I have no idea who you are.
If I remember to charge my phone, I’ll be posting photos of tomorrow’s crazy nonsense, so remember to follow the site on Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook. If I managed to make all of those words link correctly, it’s a fucking miracle.
I’m so looking forward to seeing where the site goes in 2014. Even if it’s nowhere new. I don’t care. If nothing else, I’m slated to write about Snaliens in January. So yeah. Snaliens are coming.
See you in a day or so!
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a zzzzzzzzzzz
PS: Feel free to use the comments as your personal Christmas confessional. TELL US EVERYTHING. Who you’re seeing, where you’re going, what you’re getting. SPILL IT.
The 2013 Christmas season hasn’t been especially hot for weird food, but if you look hard enough, there are a few big time players.
Like this one, for example. Post’s Pebbles cereal with a limited edition SUGAR COOKIE flavor. It looks good, it tastes good, and the box features Dino wearing Grinch dog antlers. I have exactly zero complaints.
Get the whole story in this sickly sweet video review:
For the life of me, I could not find this in stores. Still haven’t. I got so fed up with the fruitless department store runs that I gave in and ordered it from some third party seller on Amazon. If you’re dying for a box, try there!
Freezy Freakies. The one time I had any opinion at all about gloves.
Made by Swany, they were decorated with everything ‘80s kids cared about, like robots and jets, and cute little animals. On that merit alone, they were destined for big things. 99% of gloves were boring, and if a child had to pick between normal gloves and GLOVES WITH ROBOTS, well, duh.
But that wasn’t the half of it. The real reason Freezy Freakies became so legendary is that they had magical powers. See, only when you wore the gloves outside would their cartoony symbols fully materialize.
This bizarre old commercial tells the story:
In the house, your Freezy Freakies might have had the image of a rocket ship on them. Sounds okay, but check this: Once you got those fuckers outside, the rocket ships grew blazing red exhaust trails.
Don’t pretend like you don’t want to clap.
Okay, yeah, if you weren’t a part of the fad, I guess they wouldn’t seem like such a big deal. Believe me, they were. Those gloves marked my first-ever interest in fashion. You could’ve dressed me in mismatched sneakers and a shirt that said “My Life Is Bingo,” and I wouldn’t have cared. But GOD HELP YOU if you sent me onto the snowball battlefield without Freezy Freakies.
Me, my friends, we all had them. I don’t know who started the trend, but once Freezy Freakies turned up in our neighborhood, none of us wanted to be the jerk without ’em.
A snowstorm isn’t a good time to be the odd man out. Not when you’re seven, at least. Everyone liked a good snowball fight, but we liked unfair snowball fights even more. The ones when you totally outnumbered your opponents. There was no quicker way to make five antsy boys throw snow at you than to be the only kid out there without color-changing gloves. It was like walking into Crips HQ without the blue bandana. Read More…