Dinosaur Dracula!

Vintage Vending #14: Magic Tricks and Jokes!

I don’t know why I’ve waited so long to feature this set. It’s one of the best Vintage Vending collections yet!

The “Magic Tricks and Jokes” assortment is like an old Johnson Smith ad come to life. The collective charm far outweighs the fact that every item on the card is a hunk of junk, at least in the practical sense. (Even the truly neat items were miniaturized to the point of pointlessness, unless your head really is tiny enough to don Groucho glasses with a three-inch diameter.)

The set is from 1987 – right within the era of the legendary “50 cents each” ads that waited inside so many comic books and kiddy magazines, offering the full-sized versions of these tiny treasures.

I don’t know if I can truthfully say that squirt flowers and phony vampire fangs were ever “all the rage,” but if you were going to pick a year to turn them into vending machine fodder, you could do a lot worse than 1987. Read More…

Red, White & Berry Pop-Tarts!

I found patriotic Pop-Tarts.

Okay, so exactly how popular are Pop-Tarts, anyway? I can’t name another food that gets anywhere near this many special editions. Kellogg’s goes nuts for every holiday, and I don’t just mean the big ones. If it’s on the calendar – any calendar – Kellogg’s makes a Pop-Tart for it. (For some holidays, they even make two!)

So no, I’m not surprised to see these. Frosted Red, White and Berry Pop-Tarts are “bursting with berry flavor” and colored like our nation’s flag. More importantly, they arrive in a box so aggressively celebratory that I’m halfway crocked just from looking at it. Read More…

Dino Drac goes to the zoo!

I saw some animals, yo.

I hadn’t been to the Staten Island Zoo in more than ten years, but it’s barely changed at all since my last visit. Our zoo is small and isn’t a place that many out-of-towners would travel to see, but it’s clean and has at least one alligator, and that’s all I really ask of zoos.

Below are several highlights. Read More…

The Legend of Zelda!

While digging through some more old storage bins, I came across that.

The Legend of Zelda, for the Nintendo Entertainment System.

Finding an old Zelda cartridge might normally only be cause for a passing smile, but this was different. This was 100% complete, in its original box, with the manual and everything.

I even have the foam block.

Maybe I’m wrong or maybe I’m just old, but I feel like today’s kids couldn’t possibly understand what it was like to get a NES game. It was a different sort of experience. Keep in mind, I’m not calling it a “better” one. Just different.

The game – meaning, the actual playing of the game – was only the half of it. I got just as many jollies from the tangible parts. The box, the cartridge, the manual. Sure, these things still exist, but do they have the same feel?

Today’s games – again, the tangible parts – are more like DVDs. They may be packed nicely with great cover art, but you wouldn’t exactly handle them with rubber gloves. You wouldn’t put them on pedestals, proverbial or not.

(And yeah, I’m excluding super special fancy releases that come with wild bonuses. There are exceptions. I’m speaking generally, here.)

When I got a new Nintendo game, I treated it like a freakin’ puppy. I wanted the box to stay in mint condition forever, even if it never did. I’d place it on my shelf like it was a sports trophy.

And the manuals and other paperwork? God! I didn’t look at my Nintendo manuals like simple tools to help me play more effectively. To me, they were real books. From the story summaries to the intense illustrations, I spent more time reading and rereading certain manuals than I spent playing their associated games.

So yeah, this could be another case of someone believing he had a wholly-different and possibly-better version of what “them kids today” have, but if I had to pick one game to support an argument that it isn’t, I’d go with The Legend of Zelda. Read More…

Red Robin’s Wolverine Burger!

There’s a new Wolverine movie coming out next month. I know nothing about it.

But I noticed that the internet was going crazy this morning, when news broke of a pair of Wolverine-themed hamburgers now available at Red Robin:

I live for silly, fleeting promotions like this! Just imagine the events that led people to decide that hamburgers were the best way to raise awareness about a Wolverine movie. I think about that, and I marvel.

This was not something to be experienced from afar. I needed to be on the front line. I was willing to break a decade-long abstinence from shopping mall restaurant chains to make it happen. I was going to find this beef, eat it, and hopefully live to tell the tale. Read More…