On Saturday, me and Jay from The Sexy Armpit visited the first-ever Atlantic City Boardwalk Con, a sort of generalized pop culture celebration that to me felt like a delightfully miniaturized version of SDCC.
Held at the still-sparkly Atlantic City Convention Center, “ACBC” was my best con experience in a long time. Big enough to feel like a major event but still intimate enough to not overwhelm anyone, I was impressed with everything from the layout to the variety of attractions to the damn parking garage.
The convention’s main draw was a number of big (and several not-so-big) stars doing autograph sessions, which I gleefully ignored in favor of simply exploring the floor and maybe buying some old toys. I did hear that the autograph portions of the show came with a few headaches, but for someone like me — someone who just wanted to roam free for a couple of hours while adding comics and action figures to an increasingly heavy bag — it was close to perfect.
Below are my eleven favorite things about ACBC. Here’s to hoping it returns next year!
#1: The Atmosphere.
We went on Saturday morning, and while there were a lot of people there, the convention could’ve comfortably fit twice as many visitors. I suppose that could mean that the show didn’t perform quite as well as its backers were hoping, but I prefer to think that they just invested in the right venue.
The Atlantic City Convention Center is huuuuuge. The ceiling was out of reach for anyone smaller than the Cloverfield monster. There were tons of vendors, but they weren’t sardine-packed.
This made for a great atmosphere. You didn’t need push or shove to get from Point A to Point B. You could mindlessly stop to adore some cool thing without being immediately trampled by the ten people who were secretly one foot behind you. Everyone seemed to be in a good mood, and I think the extra space had a lot to do with it. Read More…
Last July, I introduced you to The Ultimate ‘80s Sticker Album, which originally belonged to a complete stranger. One who really, really liked stickers.
Well, I’ve found a similar album, which once belonged to another stranger. It’s not as jampacked as the album from last summer, but in its way, it’s just as awesome:
The Official Sticker Collector’s Album was released in 1983 by Gordy International, which certainly had a vested interest in making kids obsess over stickers. Gordy International was one of its era’s leading sticker companies, offering adhesive versions of everything from legit cartoon characters to anthropomorphized foodstuffs.
Fortunately, this album’s original owner didn’t stop at Gordy’s stickers. There’s a little bit of everything in here, hitting so many subjects and in such random order that it almost feels more like a parody of ‘80s stickers albums than a “real” one.
What’s more interesting is that the stickers aren’t only from the ‘80s. A few Power Ranger appearances suggest that this album was in use until the late ‘90s. Given that there are stickers here too old for even me to remember, this merits discussion!
My best guess is that someone a little older than me started the album, before passing it down to a much younger brother or sister many years later. I’m rather digging the idea of a messy sticker album becoming a family heirloom. This is the sticker book version of the Winslow quilt from Family Matters. Read More…
I found it, I found it. The most impossibly ‘80s thing of all impossibly ‘80s things.
Ironically, for all I know, it might’ve come out in the ‘90s.
This Sun Kids combo pack blends two things that perfectly bookend all of my other childhood memories: Cheap sunglasses with neon frames… and puffy stickers. I honestly could not choose a better two items to represent “1986” in the form of meretricious pharmacy toys. Read More…
When you hear the word “kaiju,” your mind probably drifts to Godzilla, or to the creatures from Pacific Rim, or maybe to the monster from Cloverfield. It’s all stuff like that, right?
But see, “kaiju” just means “monster,” and by that definition, there sure are a lot of them to celebrate… even if we adhere to the extended definition of a very large monster.
Here are seven kaiju — or kinda kaiju — that don’t hit these lists nearly as often as they should.
The Ewok Adventure, 1984
The Ewok Adventure is way better than you’ve heard. The first of two made-for-television Star Wars movies starring tons of Ewoks, this one sent two crash-landed youths searching for their parents with the help of everyone’s favorite droid-worshipping teddy bears.
It turned out that said parents were being held captive by the Gorax, a gnarly beast that was at least 30 feet tall. In the film, camera tricks and special effects did little to hide the fact that the Gorax was just some guy in a goofy ogre costume, but that’s kind of what made it such a great monster. That thing could really move!
There’s only one Gorax in the film, but supplemental materials indicated that there were actually a fair number of them, roaming Endor and looking for trouble. Since certain Goraxes are over a hundred feet tall, they have no problem wreaking havoc on the Ewoks’ treetop villages.
Coolest thing? While Goraxes do eat Ewoks (and stranded humans), they’re just as interested in keeping them in cages… as pets. Read More…
Today we’re gonna get reacquainted with some very special books.
If you’re at all familiar with these, you already love them. Published by Antioch in the ‘80s and ‘90s, they were commonly found at elementary school book fairs, and on those delightful Scholastic Book Club order forms.
Those were some of the best days of the school year! My book fairs were always held in the library, where hundreds of shiny new books were piled atop borrowed desks, silently spiting the library’s ten thousand used books, which ironically went completely ignored on the library’s busiest day.
We’d shop with our parents’ money, ostensibly there to find motivation to read. Heading home with sticker books and the errant edition of Choose Your Own Adventure, the fairs felt more like school-sanctioned trips to toy stores.
And those book club order forms? Getting them made for great days, too. Filled with everything from Garfield treasuries to puffy sticker sheets, they were again ways to interpret our superiors’ encouragement to read as our superiors’ encouragement to buy bullshit.
Often enough, the books I’m celebrating today were the stars of both events. While having little to do with one another as far as subject matter, they still shared many traits. One, they were all published by Antioch. Two, they were always perfectly square. Three, THEY CAME WITH 12 COLLECTOR STICKERS.
Yeah, three was the big one. Read More…
Tonight’s focus: More ridiculous candy from the ‘80s and ‘90s. I doubt you’re surprised. I’m very excited about this batch, which includes a few expired edibles that I never thought I’d be able to reclaim. My sources of triumph are sad, and uniquely mine.
Chew Fun Bubble Gum Noodles!
Made in 1985, this was one of my childhood favorites. Who could resist such clever packaging? Modest piles of bubble gum noodles lived inside gorgeous little takeout boxes, which were just big enough to let you pretend that LJN’s WWF figures adored Chinese food.
Some have called Chew Fun “racist,” but I’m not so sure. The name is simply a chow fun pun, and putting gum inside tiny takeout boxes doesn’t ring any alarm bells, either. (Of course, the typeface is more questionable, and I wouldn’t expect to see that mimicked in 2015.)
Takeout boxes have been my jam for as long as I can remember. They are, after all, chiefly responsible for my obsession with the pet shop scene from My Blue Heaven. Now that I think about it, that passion may have started with Chew Fun. Read More…