Dinosaur Dracula!

Those books with the 12 stickers inside.

Today we’re gonna get reacquainted with some very special books.

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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…

More ’80s and ’90s Candy!

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.

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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…

Back to the Flea Market.

The yard sales were very unkind on Saturday, so on Sunday, we switched things up with a visit to the Englishtown flea market.

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Smart move! Great weather made Englishtown busier than I’d ever seen it before, and since we arrived pretty late in the day, vendors were more in the mood to haggle. Best of all, unlike last time — when I admittedly bought junk purely so I’d have something to write about — the flea market was stuffed with things I actually wanted.

Below are the six things I left with, for a grand total of twelve bucks:

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Ceramic E.T. Bank!
Price: $3

Easily my showiest find, this E.T. ceramic bank allegedly belonged to the vendor since he was a child. I tend to believe it: It certainly looks vintage, and the craftsmanship is too on-point for this to be any kind of bootleg.

The vendor was thrilled when I took an interest, and it couldn’t have just been about the three bucks. In fact, he and his wife demanded that I let them wrap it in newspaper before leaving. I would’ve bought a ten inch E.T. bank no matter the circumstances, but the fact that this one meant so much to someone makes it feel extra special.

I wonder if the guy’s gotten any sleep since I bought it. Am I now the star of his biggest regret? Read More…

Dino Drac’s May Funpack is available now!

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($25 MONTHLY, SHIPPED! AVAILABLE IN THE U.S. ONLY!)

Dino Drac’s May 2015 Funpack is here!

The quick-and-dirty version: Every month, I mail out a new Funpack. Subscriptions cost is $25 per month (that includes shipping), and you can cancel at any time. For as long as you remain subscribed, you’ll keep getting more Funpacks!

Without these subscriptions, there’d be no Dino Drac, so many thanks again to all subscribers, old and new!

Before I give you the deets on subscribing, let’s take a look at this month’s goods!

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May’s Funpack is another 10+ item box, loaded with old-and-new tricks and treats. Each Funpack includes:

– A Playskool G.I. Joe figure from 2002 — part of an old Pepsodent promotion! Whaaat?!
– A sealed pack of Empire Strikes Back Photocards from 1980!
– A honest-to-goodness Ghostbusters film cell, in custom packaging!
– Trading card packs, including Battle Cards and Topps Nasty Tricks!
– A sealed McDonald’s Power Rangers “Power Coin Pack” from 1994!
– Dino Drac’s May 2015 Ugly Mini Poster!
– The May 2015 Specimen: A 1993 Nintendo Sticker Factory sticker!
– A packet of still-fresh Purplesaurus Rex Kool-Aid!
– A bag of Wise Nacho Twisters!
– A Mystery Bag stuffed with a few more goodies!
– Dino Drac’s May 2015 Funpack Newsletter! (Not pictured.)

If you’re already sold, skip to the bottom of this post for subscription information. For the rest of you, let’s take a closer look at this month’s loot! Read More…

Toys from the 1984 Consumers Catalog!

Today I’m gonna show you the highlights from the 1984 Consumers Distributing catalog. Don’t run — it’s more interesting than it sounds!

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I’ve mentioned Consumers Distributing before, but to save you a click, here’s a primer: The odd stores were more like OTB centers, where instead of wheeling around shopping carts, you stood at little kiosks filling out catalog order forms. Workers would then seize your goods from a warehouse in the back. If not for the financial frivolity, it might have seemed dystopian. With little space dedicated to “ambiance,” costs were kept down, and Consumers could price things lower than most department stores.

Physically being there was never much fun. With so few things on display, the store was all-business and not at all for mindless browsing. Still, I had a special affinity for Consumers, since their catalogs were nearly as good as Sears Wish Books!

Even as a kid, I couldn’t believe their prices. Everything was cheap, but certain things were really cheap. (Of course, this often led to disappointment. You’d go to Consumers clutching their clearance pages, only to find out that nothing you wanted was in stock. 49 cent Karate Kommandos? I knew it was too good to be true.)

Those old catalogs have been one of my “grail searches” over the years. I was recently able to acquire a big pile of them, and they’re every bit as sweet as I remember. For starters, let’s check out the highlights from their 1984 catalog!

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Star Wars Figures!
Price: $2.97 each

If I’ve not made this clear in prior articles, Kenner’s original Star Wars line is my favorite action figure series of all time. Those toys shaped my childhood, and were absolutely what drove me to become a collector in my teen years.

One of my literal earliest memories is of sitting in my childhood bedroom, throwing a party for my Star Wars figures with the Ewok Village playset. There were over a hundred available, and I damn well tried to collect them all. While falling short of that lofty goal, I certainly had every single figure pictured in that spread. What amazes me is how each one sparks a different memory.

The Gamorrean Guard? My mother brought me along when she visited her best friend, who happened to be my godmother. I didn’t see her often, but she always lived up to her title with great gifts. That afternoon, she gave me the Gamorrean Guard, and hoped it’d keep me quiet as she and my mother smoked their way through eighty cups of coffee. It did.

Nikto? On some ridiculously long ago evening, I was at TRU. (Which, come to think of it, is the same TRU I just did that shopping spree at.) The goal was to get a new Star Wars figure, but as the line’s vitality was already waning by then, the pickings were slim. From the poor selection, the only one I didn’t have was Nikto. I chose him begrudgingly. He was a fresh face, yes, but not a very interesting one. I should’ve just gotten an extra Boba Fett.

The Emperor? As mentioned in this article, I got him through one of Kenner’s mail-away offers. You haven’t lived until you’ve received an ostensibly free Star Wars figure by mail, trapped within a stark white cardboard coffin.

I’ll stop there, but I could write similar paragraphs for each of the pictured figures. God, I loved that line. I still do. Nothing else has come close. Read More…