It’s been months since the last edition of Five Retro TV Commercials, but have no fear: Thanks to some generous donations, I’m now armed with enough old commercials to write about nothing but old commercials from now through 2021.
Let’s get this party started, and yes this is how I party:
Nintendo Game Boy! (1989)
Given that the Game Boy would’ve moved a bazillion units no matter how Nintendo advertised it, this commercial was almost needlessly good.
For reasons I don’t understand yet still wholly accept, one of the Game Boy’s very first commercials (if not the first) starred a futuristic robot who stalked the Outworld for competitive opportunities.
Looking like a mix of RoboCop and the knight who always wins at Medieval Times, our hero summons a random Earthling to do battle with. It’s incredible. The best 30 second movie you’ll ever see.
(For the record, I myself never used the link cable to play against a friend, let alone a stranger from another planet. For me, the draw of the Game Boy was having something to do when I was by myself and away from my “real” Nintendo. Even then, a 2.5” mustard-colored Tetris game hardly seemed communal.)
TMNT Vehicles! (1989)
I adored the three TMNT vehicles shown here, which all doubled as “water toys” that were safe in bathtubs and swimming pools. (Or more commonly kitchen sinks that we allowed to overflow, because who gives a shit when you’re 9?)
The Turtles had the Sewer Army Tube and the Sewer Party Tube, differentiated by their color schemes and snap-on accessories. (I’d call the Sewer Party Tube the bigger achievement, if only because it looked more like a limited edition doughnut.)
In response, Shredder employed the Footski, an amazing vehicle that didn’t even need the water gimmick to be worth buying. (I’m not sure I ever even bothered to put the Footski into water. I just pretended it was miniature Foot Cruiser, and let it fly like a gross eagle.)
The Footski was essentially a Jet Ski, made more interesting by several venomous snakes which collectively acted as an underwater Ninja Turtle claw grabber. Remember The Car Built For Homer? The Footski was its equivalent in the TMNT universe.
Giggles Cookies! (1987)
Whenever I write about Giggles, I feel like the people who didn’t grow up on them think I’m exaggerating for effect. I swear, I’m not. These were unfathomably delicious cookies.
It wasn’t just the gimmick, either. The smiley faces drew us in, but it was gonna take more than that to make us repeat customers.
Giggles was the perfect midpoint between E.L. Fudge and Oreo. In everything from consistency to flavor to smell, I’ve never found another brand like it. Eating these cookies almost felt like eating ice cream, right down to the distinct cooling sensation.
It still surprises me that Giggles didn’t become a “forever brand.” The way I remember it, everyone loved those cookies. Cold lunch kids flashed them like badges. How did Giggles ever stop being popular?!
G.I. Joe Toys! (1987)
There are several drool-worthy toys featured here, but for me, this one’s all about Cobra Commander in his evil astronaut costume. (I know it’s not really that, but it’s still exactly that.)
It’s wild how Hasbro managed to continually revamp Cobra Commander’s outfit so effectively. Maybe other fans feel differently, but I can’t not love a Cobra Commander who dressed like a cross between Ace McCloud and a Ferrero Rocher chocolate.
Oh hey, FYI: In the DiC-produced cartoon series (set after the events of G.I. Joe: The Movie), Cobra Commander transformed back into a human, turned Serpentor into a fat iguana and started wearing this insane spacesuit. People shit on the DiC episodes, but I mean, those things happened.
Captain Lou Albano’s Hotline! (1988)
After the World Wrestling Federation but before The Super Mario Bros. Super Show, Lou Albano paid the bills with his own pro-wrestling hotline.
If I had to guess, the hotline was more about Lou’s motormouth comedy than serious wrestling gossip. It wasn’t affiliated with the WWF, which makes me wonder how Vince felt when the commercial aired during his own shows.
(It totally did, by the way. This one was found within a broadcast of WWF Prime Time Wrestling.)
I don’t remember dialing Lou’s number, but I sure called many other wrestling hotlines. The official ones were boring money pits, but the “outsider” hotlines really did have great scoops, which were all the more appreciated in pre-internet days.
Thanks for reading. I’ll try to space these out, but if you’re into Five Retro TV Commercials, just you wait. So much good stuff yet to come!