The name “ARCO” is most synonymous with a chain of cheap gas stations, but you’ve probably owned some of their toys, too. Though the company managed to score some big licenses (everything from Disney to The Chipmunks), it was arguably more famous for its fantasy and sci-fi toys, which ran the gamut from medieval monsters to futuristic astronauts.
ARCO’s wares were most commonly found at pharmacies and bric-a-brac stores. Most of their toys had a “generic” feel, right down to the thinness of the cardboard backers. These were modest toys meant to be sold in places where expectations were lower.
That’s partially how ARCO built its name. A kid might’ve ignored their stranger offerings at a Toys “R” Us store — after all, nobody’s gonna pick Unknown Monster #26 over some dude who had his own cartoon series and cross-promotion with Wheat Thins — but in pharmacies and discount shops, they were virtual oases in deserts of picture frames and aerosol cans.
During the early ‘80s, ARCO put out a wide variety of “spooky” toys, which are now impossibly rare and fetch far more money than plastic cans full of rubber worms ever should. Justifying the demand is the fact that they’re the most genuine and weirdly sweet of all spooky toys. Remember that spread of hardcore classic shit under Ralphie’s Christmas tree? If he was into ghosts and goblins, it would’ve been all ARCO.
Take their collection of Creepy-Crawly Things, for instance. This was a line of five cent rubber creatures made more extravagant by the addition of thematic containers. The various monsters would’ve barely passed as vending machine toys individually, but putting them in such neat containers made the Creepy-Crawly Things line glow like a radioactive bug light that somehow attracted small, disaffected children. Read More…
Here’s another bunch of old junk food from my always-growing collection. At this point, our apartment stocks more old food than new food. It’s like the world’s most misleading pick for a emergency fallout shelter.
WWF Superstars of Wrestling Bars!
More commonly known as WWF Ice Cream Bars, absence has made our hearts grow fonder. One could argue that the desserts are more famous now than they ever were while still in production!
Being a wrestling fan helped, but even kids who’d never heard of Roddy Piper couldn’t resist these. With layers of soft cookie, vanilla ice cream and a hard chocolate “chaser,” each bar was like a mash of a Chipwich and a Fudgsicle.
WWF Ice Cream Bars debuted in the ‘80s and lasted through the early 2000s, with the gamut of “wrestler cookies” constantly being refreshed to reflect the most current roster.
As a kid, they were my #1 reason to treat every ice cream man like Santa Claus. Everything that came off of those trucks was fun, but WWF Ice Cream bars felt like edible collectibles. Were they not so delicious and meltable, I would’ve lined the whole series up on my bedroom shelf. Read More…
Well, it’s my friggin’ birthday. I’m 37, folks. THIRTY. SEVEN. I’m not sure that I even could get away with saying that I’m in my mid-thirties anymore. Gross.
It feels strange. Like, have I moved past physical growth? Am I now at the point where everything just slowly rots? Will they try to stop me when I walk into TRU? Gah!
Those who have followed me for a while know that I typically hide my birthdays, and even when I don’t, I abhor celebrating them. So I guess it makes perfect sense that I spent pretty much all of today editing the latest Purple Stuff Podcast.
This week, me and Jay from The Sexy Armpit are celebrating All Things 1986. (Well no, actually, we’re just celebrating eleven things from 1986.) There were some majorly awesome and geeky debuts that year, from Transformers: The Movie to My Pet Monster. Hopefully we’ll cover some of your favorites! (And before anyone yells at me for forgetting The Legend of Zelda, I felt that would be a cheat. The game did come out in ’86, but it didn’t hit the States until the following year. So there.)
Give us a listen by clicking the giant play button below!
You can also download this week’s episode directly by right-clicking here.
Thanks so much for listening, as always! Read More…
If you like Smurfs, Star Wars and swamp monsters, good news! Dino Drac’s February 2016 Funpack has all three!
If you haven’t been paying attention, I sell monthly Funpacks. Without them, there’d be no Dino Drac! (The modest ads you see on this site do not at all cover even the expenses associated with Dino Drac, let alone the time and effort spent on its content! So yeah, the Funpacks are definitely the site’s lifeblood.)
Subscriptions are $25 a month (that includes shipping), and for as long as you stay subscribed, you’ll continue to receive new boxes of fun junk, each and every month. You can cancel at any time without penalty. In trade for helping to keep the site afloat, you’ll get a box some some (arguably) awesome stuff!
Skip to the bottom of this post for additional subscription details and notes on how to order. Or keep reading, to see what’s in store for the February 2016 Funpack!
There are over a dozen items in this month’s Funpack, ranging from action figures to trading cards to bags of super delicious tortilla chips. Take a look! Read More…
For wrestling fans in the ‘80s, it didn’t get any better than Saturday Night’s Main Event.
Run as late night specials on NBC with no set schedule, the WWF famously took over Saturday Night Live’s time slot, which both legitimized the product and gave kids the excuse to treat midnight like morning.
Though the shows were usually recorded a month prior and always post-produced to death, I didn’t understand that as a child. To me, it was always live television. I’ve remained a fairweather fan of pro-wrestling ever since, but even decades later, nothing’s come close to matching the excitement of these specials.
I recently found some of my old wrestling videos, which were all taped off television, with the shitty custom labels to match. On one of them was the January 1989 edition of Saturday Night’s Main Event, complete with all of the original commercials.
Yes, a goldmine.
This edition of SNME came out when my interest in wrestling was at its absolute peak. Macho Man Randy Savage was the champ, and he and Miss Elizabeth were on top of the world. As a kid who wasn’t a fan of Hulk Hogan but would’ve taken bullets for Macho and Liz, seeing Savage with the belt while Hogan had to make do with just pointing at it was sooo utterly satisfying.
As was customary, the show started with a series of goofy promos, leading into an opening package that still gives me chills to this day. (I know most people prefer the even older opening — the one scored by Animotion’s Obsession — but this is the version I always think of when someone brings up SNME.) Read More…
On Sunday morning, me and Jay visited yet another comic book show, this time in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey. Honestly, the big draw for me was that the show was staged from a Holiday Inn.
I am all about random hobbyist conventions taking place at minor hotels. Those are the types of shows I grew up with, where vendors cram into modest conference rooms, and where there aren’t even the smallest hints of corporate sponsorship.
These shows are plain but intimate. If you’ve ever been to a giant Comic-Con event, I imagine that you spent weeks if not months preparing, strategizing everything from your budget to your outfit. By contrast, a show like this involves no prep at all. You kinda just go, even if you’re hungover and wearing yesterday’s clothes. Read More…