Welcome to the latest edition of Five Retro TV Commercials, starring me, my cat and a broken Mer-Man character bust. Us three.
Sunkist Fun Fruits! (1980s)
I was partial to Fruit Wrinkles, but there’s no denying that Sunkist’s Fun Fruits were THE fruit snacks of the ‘80s. Originally shaped like bloated pill bugs, this commercial marked Fun Fruits’ graduation to other, louder shapes.
The “Letters” and “Numbers” varieties were intended to placate strict parents, because if you’re not gonna be healthy, at least be educational. The “Animals” version was the clear chaser, unless you’re really gonna claim that you’d prefer a gumdrop shaped like the number 9 to one that resembled a tiger.
Animated like one of those old school storybook videos, this particular commercial wasn’t nearly as cool as other Fun Fruits ads, which were usually done with live actors.
I mean, I don’t care if Generic Boy is a cartoon or a real person, but there’s a big difference between an animated tree and a ten foot Evil Dead prop with plate-sized googly eyes. (And if you prefer the former, you’re definitely the same asshole who picked “9” over the tiger.) Read More…
My collection of oddities includes many ratty dolls from the 1980s. Only a few are kept on permanent display; the rest live in bins and bags, too cute to throw away, but too filthy to waste shelves on.
The five featured below have been trapped out of sight for years, to the point where I’d forgotten I even owned them. To make amends, I’m giving them a whole Dino Drac article. I wish that sort of mea culpa got me out of trouble with real people and not just stuffed caterpillars, but this is the world we live in.
Teddy Ruxpin (1985)
Y’all remember Teddy Ruxpin, right? The talking teddy bear who was ostensibly built to read stories via audio cassette, even if most people just wanted to make him sing Sussudio? That guy. He was a very big deal in the mid ‘80s, with technology that seems quaint now, but felt sooo futuristic at the time.
Grubby was Teddy’s best friend — a giant caterpillar who looked like he should’ve played bass at Chuck E. Cheese’s. While Grubby “talked” much like his pal, he only worked when plugged directly into him. So yeah, despite the fact that a giant talking caterpillar was a hundred times cooler than a small talking bear, kids had no reason to ask for Grubby until someone got them Teddy Ruxpin. Shame!
(I found Grubby at a church flea market several years ago, tucked into an old playroom that was finally being cleaned out. The five dollar asking price was a steal, even if paying it meant that I had to carry a giant caterpillar across a busy church basement while everyone tried to spot a “666” birthmark in my hairline.) Read More…
My obsession with old Kool-Aid packets takes me to strange places. Like the back pages of Spider-Man comics from the late ‘90s.
Thanks to a hot tip on Twitter (love you, Aaron and Skinslip), I learned that the July 1996 issue of The Amazing Spider-Man was hiding something awesome inside. For those looking to play along, it’s issue #413. The one with Godzilla and Luke Skywalker on the cover. No, seriously.
Freebies had been stuffed inside of comic books before, but it was usually just a random trading card, or at best a foldout poster. In the summer of ‘96, the Kool-Aid Man set a new standard. Dude always does.
Indeed, every copy of The Amazing Spider-Man #413 came with a free packet of Slammin’ Strawberry-Kiwi Kool-Aid. Protected by cellophane and sandwiched between a two-page Kool-Aid advertisement, the fact that I’ve gone this long not knowing about an issue of Spider-Man with fucking Godzilla on the cover THAT CAME WITH FREE KOOL-AID is sobering and embarrassing. By all rights, this should be my seventeenth article about it.
A closer look: Read More…
Welcome to the 29th (!!!) edition of Five Random Action Figures, posted during the busiest holiday weekend of the year. If you’re reading this between now and July 5th, congratulations, you are one of the lucky dozen to do so.
Below: Five more action figures from the ‘80s and ‘90s. Had I planned this better, they’d all be holding those toothpicks with the little U.S. flags on top. There’s always next year. I’ll be 73.
Emperor’s Royal Guard
Star Wars (1983)
Wow, has it really taken me 29 editions to cover this guy? As a kid, the Emperor’s Royal Guard was my absolute favorite action figure. It wasn’t even a close race.
While future lore would make more of their story, these were the seemingly ceremonial guards first seen in Return of the Jedi, flanking Emperor Palpatine and adding splashes of color to the otherwise drab Death Star. They only served as set dressing in the film, but I was immediately taken with their flowing robes, slick helmets and apparent dedication to the mafioso principles of omertà.
In action figure form, the Emperor’s Royal Guards looked just as regal, and kicked off my near-lifelong obsession with toys that utilized real, actual fabric. Seems that most collectors prefer molded clothing these days; I can only assume that they never tore the robe from an Emperor’s Royal Guard to make a fancy finger puppet.
On that note: I went through a dozen of these figures as a kid, and it had nothing to do with army building. As much as I loved those robes, I loved tearing them off even more. Underneath the main cloak was a crimson cocktail dress, which worked great whenever I staged some grand toy gala complete with Gravy Train steak dinners.
I’d end up tearing that robe off, too, and then begin begging for a new Emperor’s Royal Guard. Really couldn’t name many other figures that were worth picking twelve times. Kudos, Kir Kanos! Read More…