Dinosaur Dracula!

Toys from the 1994 JCPenney Catalog!

I wanted to sneak in one last catalog review before Santa makes his magic, so here I am, blithely ignoring the dozen Very Important Things that I must get done in the next 36 hours, all for you.


This time, I’m pulling pages from the 1994 JCPenney Christmas catalog. I believe I would’ve been a high school freshman or possibly even a sophomore by that point, so my own experiences with these items were more of the cursory or “admire from afar” variety. It’s fun to see what I missed during that literal one year gap between when I was “allowed” to play with toys and when I discovered the “yo I’m a collector” loophole.

Below are a thousand words about eight things from the 1994 JCPenney Christmas catalog. Enjoy them.


Top-Loading Nintendo!

I’d already moved onto the Super Nintendo when this came out, but even if I hadn’t, my original NES still worked fine. To this day, I don’t think I’ve seen a top-loading NES in person.

Also known as the NES-101 or NES 2, the system retailed for a modest fifty bucks — mainly by necessity, since it was “competing” with 16-bit systems. The system’s design lacked bulk and arguably seemed “cheaper” than the original Nintendo, but the truth was that the changes were largely improvements: The top-loading design made the system both easier to clean and not as apt to break.

From what I see, these top-loaders now fetch more money than the original systems, I think owing as much to their comparative rarity as the technical improvements. (There are gamer collectors much the same as there are toy collectors, and one needn’t necessarily “need” a top-loader to “want” it!) Read More…

Energizer Bunny Ornaments from the ’90s!

I must’ve handled more than 200 Christmas tree ornaments over the course of my childhood, but I only distinctly remember a select few.

There was the candy cane that I made out of glitter and construction paper. Then the too-heavy Santa with the missing foot. And who would forget our old pinecone, covered by what was supposed to be fake snow but more closely resembled snot?

Above them all, though, was that cheap plastic Energizer Bunny.

Back in 1992, Energizer gave away four Christmas tree ornaments. While I initially believed that these were widely available across the country, further research indicates that they may have only been released regionally. If you’ve never heard of these, sucks for you, but I think you can see why applicable kids went wild for ’em!

The commercial embedded above — not my upload, by the way — goes a long way in explaining how silly plastic rabbits could’ve caused such a stir. You’ll notice that it aired during children’s programming, sandwiched between Charlie Brown and an advertisement for a LEGO set. It wasn’t hard for kids to put 2 and 2 together: These were the tree ornaments that we could own outright. Us, ourselves. Not our moms, not our dads and not our siblings. None of that “communal” bullshit, either. Read More…

The Purple Stuff Podcast’s Christmas Show!

It’s a Christmas miracle! The Purple Stuff Podcast has returned!


For those who don’t follow me on Twitter, yeah, we decided to take it easy with the schedule this month, because December is riotously busy and something had to give. We didn’t want to miss our chance to do at least one holiday-themed episode, though, so here we are!

This week, me and Jay from The Sexy Armpit tackle twelve awesome Christmas songs. For the record, I am a major Christmas music fanatic, and so is Jay. This ridiculous topic means the world to us. Lord knows if it’ll mean anything to you, but, whatever… listen to us anyway.


You can hear the new episode by clicking on that obnoxiously large button, or download it directly by clicking here. The Purple Stuff Podcast is also on iTunes, Stitcher and Podbean!

Thanks so much for listening! We’ll figure out a regular schedule for the show once the holidays are through. Read More…

My thoughts on The Force Awakens. (SPOILERS.)

WARNING! This post will include THE FORCE AWAKENS spoilers. I’ll warn you again before the spoilers begin, but if you haven’t seen the movie and have plans to, PLEASE skip this post until you do. Do not read the comments on this post, either!


In terms of entertainment, Star Wars has always been my one true love. To this day, I can only truly unwind with Star Wars stuff, whether we’re talking about the movies, the gobs of books, the fan-penned wikis or whatever the hell else. I’m into a lot of stuff, but Star Wars is the one thing that always creates my true escape.

The truth is, I didn’t even need The Force Awakens to be good. I wanted it to be, of course, but I didn’t need it to be. As I learned with the prequels, even a bad Star Wars movie will become the start-point for so many good Star Wars things. People love to shit on those old senate scenes; I’m guessing they never read the beautiful dissection of senate hall in the Star Wars Complete Locations book. People love to complain about Jar Jar; I do too, but without Jar Jar we wouldn’t have gotten the world’s weirdest Pez dispenser.

Really, I just needed The Force Awakens to exist. That was literally it. Anything beyond existing was a bonus. I knew I’d be covered, either way.


Now that I’ve seen it, it looks like I needlessly aimed too low. Holy shit did I LOVE this movie. Me and Jay saw it last night, and it only took a few minutes for me to breathe that slight sigh of relief, knowing that even through an objective lens, what I was seeing was out-and-out good.

What others think of Star Wars shouldn’t be important to me, and by and large, it isn’t. But if you were a fan during those times when it was largely scorned — when “Star Wars” was bordering close to a dirty word — you know the side effects. Hell, Star Wars is my #1 geeky passion, and how often have I written about it on Dino Drac? Barely ever. Why? Well, I guess I didn’t want to risk feeling bad about something that’s made me so happy. I literally won’t risk feeling bad about Star Wars.

When the movie ended, I was exhausted. Emotionally spent. I fought back tears at least five times, and I’m not just saying that because it fits this article’s narrative: I had to make a serious effort not to lose it. It was like experiencing a dream while fully conscious, where the miraculousness couldn’t be taken for granted. It sounds heavy-handed, but it’s true.

It wasn’t just that it was a new Star Wars movie, or even that it was a new Star Wars movie that was actually good. The thing that got me was how The Force Awakens connected so closely to the movies I grew up with — how it sincerely felt like the movie that’d come after Return of the Jedi — and how many impossibly distant stars had to align to make that happen.

Was The Force Awakens perfect? No. Neither were the originals. Neither was any other movie. Is everyone going to like it? No again. Heck, I’ve talked to a few mega-fans who are not at all contrarians, and The Force Awakens failed to rock their worlds. So this is not me putting a movie on a pedestal because I’m ready to defend every aspect of it until my dying breath. I’m putting it there because of what it means to me: A safe space that will always be there to turn to when I need to get lost.

Down below are twenty scatterbrained thoughts, opinions and observations about The Force Awakens. If you’ve seen the movie, let’s compare notes in the comments!

WARNING: From this point on, I’m going DEEP into SPOILER TERRITORY. If you kept reading after my first warning, I avoided spoiling anything in the intro. Now, all bets are off. DO NOT CONTINUE READING IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO BE SPOILED. Read More…