Vintage Vending #3: Button-Button!

I know you were expecting a full tour of Iguana’s house, but I haven’t had a chance to complete it yet. My printer isn’t being cooperative, and without going into detail on why I need a printer to build a house for a paper lizard, I assure you that I absolutely do.

So that will have to wait.

For the moment, let’s knock out another edition of Vintage Vending. It seems just brainless enough for me to pull off on four hours sleep and with enough crud in my eyes to be 80% blind.

Button – Button, or so they called it. Likely released in 1990, this collection represents nearly everything I was obsessed with at the time. Honestly, if you replaced one of the Batman buttons with something from Gremlins 2, I’d have no choice but to marry this vending machine teaser card.

Of the dozen buttons featured, only one would’ve been a disaster for me – and no, it isn’t Madonna. It’s that “Born to Shop” deal. Aside from being a generic fool in a sea of licensed glories, a predisposition for shopping was not something I’d have been comfortable advertising.

Before I dive into the others, let’s not-literally talk about the title of this display.

“Button – Button.  Who’s got the buttons?”

I feel like that must be a play on a line from some song, but it’s not coming to me. The closest I can get is Jeepers Creepers.

“Jeepers, Creepers. Where’d you get them peepers?”

“Button – Button. Who’s got the buttons?”

It only works if you really, really want it to.

Actually, no, it doesn’t work at all. So all I’ve really established is that the umbrella title for these buttons was in no way a nod to Louis Armstrong. Sorry, Satchmo.

Even though there was a Ninja Turtles button right there, I think I would’ve preferred the Simpsons one.

I’m sure I’ve told this story before, but back in elementary school, I was the very first kid to wear a Simpsons t-shirt. It wasn’t even an official one – just some bootleg my brother picked up in the city, which went from white to salmon pink the first time I washed it. I’ll never forget the day I debuted that baby in school. The sad truth is that I’ve never been that popular again.

Of course, since my first Simpsons shirt was such a hit, I saw no choice but to keep getting more of them. Eventually, there was a school-wide ban on Simpsons clothes (some had light cussing on ‘em), but I’m sure I could’ve gotten away with a button. Had I encountered this vending machine back in 1990, I damn well would’ve tried.

Love-love-love this Ghostbusters 2 button. It’s licensed, but it looks more like a promotional pin than something I would’ve been able to buy anytime, anyplace. I envision it on the thin vests of video store worker bees, who, at the insistence of Columbia Pictures, had no choice but to alert customers that Ghostbusters 2 was available to rent. Maybe they hated wearing “Slime Time” buttons, but I sure wouldn’t have.

I guess now would be the time to apologize for the photo quality in this review. The entire teaser card was laminated, and through the years, a lot of dust has gotten trapped in there. Dust always becomes so much more prominent in photos, to the point where the one above looks like it’s been tweaked with the one-two punch of a sepia overlay and Gaussian blur.

It hasn’t. It’s just really old and dusty.

It’s strange that I haven’t written about Dick Tracy more often, because I was obsessed with that movie. And the toys. And the trading cards. And pretty much everything else that came in canary yellow.

I couldn’t have cared less about Dick Tracy, mind you. For me, the movie was all about its villains.

I was especially infatuated with “Itchy,” the low-level mobster who talked funny and constantly scratched himself. I didn’t want to be Itchy, but I sure wanted to look like him.

Cursed God for giving me good eyes, because my biggest dream was to wear glasses. Cursed Macy’s for sticking with blacks and grays, because once I met Itchy, I desperately wanted his royal blue trenchcoat.

Years later, the guy who played Itchy would resurface as the guy who played Ruth’s Russian boyfriend on Six Feet Under. STILL BLOWS MY MIND.

I eventually settled on a Dick Tracy Halloween costume, primarily for its cheap yellow trenchcoat, which was more like a backwards apron. I have the distinct recollection of embarrassing my family by wearing it out to dinner one night. In my defense, it was just a Sizzler.

I loved that movie wholly and truly, so even the Madonna-as-Breathless button would’ve been okay with me. I wouldn’t wear it in public, but as any kid who had a bulletin board knew, these buttons doubled nicely as corky décor. Breathless would’ve had her purpose. Like Mewtwo, that was all she really wanted.

Gonna need a little help with this one. It’s too distinct to be generic, but I can’t place it. Originally thought that it might’ve been something from the world of My Pet Monster, but that doesn’t seem quite right.

In what’s probably a hint, the button has the word “Biface” on it. “Biface” sounds like an accurate description of a part-boy, part-monster, but all I’m getting from Google are pictures of stone tools that look like fossilized shark teeth.

Mystery aside, I dig the button. It’s hard to dislike the idea of a child who spends portions of his days as a drooling bulldog.

Now, let’s go back to that photo of the whole spread. Which button would you pick? If you say the California Raisin, you’re just trying to be different.

PS I usually italicize movie titles and brand names. This time, I didn’t. It was an artistic choice, and I stand by it.

PPS: My God. The “Who’s got the buttons?” stuff comes from a children’s game referenced by no less than Willy Goddamned Wonka. Thanks for the tip, Cesar. I feel dumb, but not dumb enough to ninja edit, because when else will I have the chance to pull out a Louis Armstrong reference?