Dinosaur Dracula!

The Popsicle Parade – Part 1!

With summer just over a month away, I’m only a little early in launching Dino Drac’s latest recurring feature. Introducing The Popsicle Parade, a multi-part series celebrating dozens of the wonderful things we used to buy from ice cream trucks!

There’s a certain “artistry” to popsicles that’s easy to admire. The colors! Those weird shapes! The impressive skill with which random cartoon characters’ heads were somehow forged out of quick-melting water ice!

Nearly none of the treats I’ll be featuring are still on the market. They came out at various points in the past 25 years, delighting our eyes and stomachs for a limited time only. Don’t let any of these things make you too specifically hungry, because you just can’t get most of these beauts anymore.

#1: Street Sharks Popsicle!

Street Sharks was a mid ‘90s cartoon about heroic shark-men who battled a bunch of bizarre humanoid sea creatures. You could whittle it down to “Ninja Turtles with sharks,” but the series wouldn’t have such a cult following if the story stopped there. (Of course, the fact that Street Sharks had such amazing toys didn’t hurt.)

This popsicle takes its likeness from Ripster, the “great white” Street Shark who served as team leader. Course, you don’t need to care one bit about the series to appreciate a shark popsicle with tiny bubble gum eyes. The fact that its flesh was made of somewhat unusual strawberry ice made it all the sweeter. Read More…

Dollar Store Three-Man Attack Series!

Me and two buddies thought it might be fun to do a project together, and since gabbing about bullshit from dollar stores is so easy, I’m guessing that was my contribution to our process.

Teaming with Billy from VeggieMacabre and Brian from Review the World, we were each challenged to find the best “dollar store junk” possible on strict five dollar budgets. (Well, kind of strict. I don’t think any of us factored tax into the equation.)

In Typical Me fashion, I held up the process for way too long, only to make the plainest vid of the trio!

Cool, you watched it. Or maybe you didn’t. Check out Billy and Brian’s versions, after the jump! Read More…

Toys from Big. The movie, I mean.

I saw Big in theaters back in ’88, and charming as it was, I think the fact that I was nine-years-old had everything to do with why I loved it.  Sure, the film was as much “sad” as “happy,” but what kid wouldn’t have been jealous of Tom Hanks? (More specifically his character, Josh?)

Not only did twelve-year-old Josh get to live as an adult, but he also landed a job at what wasn’t Mattel but totally was Mattel, brainstorming toy concepts and getting all kinds of free samples! He made enough money to afford the kind of loft I can still only dream about, stuffing it with everything from a pinball machine to a giant trampoline!

For Josh, the whole experience was a wish gone awry, but I went home from that movie feeling impossibly envious of him. And also like I could get away with being thirty and still into toys. Which I guess came in handy in the end.

And oh, those toys! Big was FULL of them. And not just the normal gamut of “generic stuff” you normally find in movies. Josh spent Big fiddling with the same hunks of plastic that all of us did. Everything from He-Man to SilverHawks!

That’s the point of this article. Many of the playthings seen during Big are of the blink-and-you’ll-miss-them variety, so I poured over the film, frame-by-frame, desperate to catch as much as I could.

Let’s start with THE LOFT… Read More…

So Many McNuggets Commercials!

If what we ate had no consequences, I’d live on Chicken McNuggets. Yeah, I’ve seen the photo of that pinkish, chemical-soaked goo they’re made from. I don’t care. In this fantasy, there are no consequences.

Chicken McNuggets debuted in 1983. By the time I was consciously aware of what I was eating and not just chewing whatever someone put in front of me, they were already on the market. Like most of you, I never knew a world without McNuggets.

Delicious as they were, it’s not like my loyalty wasn’t coaxed. I’ve lost count of the McDonald’s commercials I’ve covered over the years, but I do know that Chicken McNuggets had some of the best ads of all. Appetizing, mesmerizing! Below are examinations of six ancient McNugget commercials, all wildly appealing in their own special ways.

Doodlin’! (1987)

You might remember this ad (and some of the others to come) from X-E. It’s probably my favorite McNugget commercial ever.

A kid named Brian is in class, simultaneously bored and starving. As he doodles away his troubles, what he puts to paper magically transforms into full color animation. In the big moment, his caricature hands him a cartoon McNugget, which then morphs into the real world version, letting Brian satisfy his cravings by eating in class.

This was not an unfamiliar conceit in old food commercials. I could easily name ten others that featured random junk food eerily materializing in a kid’s classroom. What makes this particular ad so special is Brian’s art. Those doodles were so colorful and erratic, and I very often tried to replicate his style in my own weird drawings.

So this commercial was as much an art lesson as a reminder that Chicken McNuggets were delicious. A PSA with benefits. Read More…

Carnival Glories, 2013 Edition!

Back when Dino Drac was still a baby, I wrote about a traveling carnival that’s made my city one of its annual stops.

Well, it’s back this week, and better than ever! Or at least better than it’s been during certain years. Maybe it’s just as okay as ever. I don’t know. They had cotton candy.

The carnival sets up in the parking lot of the Staten Island Mall, guaranteeing both lots of foot traffic and the high probability that I’ll run into some forgotten enemy from fifteen years ago. There are pretty lights, interesting noises, and barkers who will insist that I’m not a man until I win Ms. X a Rastafarian banana doll. It’s no Wildwood boardwalk, but I enjoy it.

Here are some of this year’s highlights!

The Haunted Mansion:

I was happy to see the return of this dark ride, which you may remember from last year’s post. I thought they’d added some new decorations to the front, but comparing this year and last year’s photos proves that they did nothing of the sort. I think I just told myself that so I’d have an excuse to take 20 more pictures of the thing.

Remember, this carnival isn’t “ours.” It travels from town to town, crossing an unknown number of state borders. It’s fun to imagine what the Haunted Mansion might have endured since I last saw it. Dark rides bring out the weirdest in people, right? Has anyone like, done it in there? God, if only this Haunted Mansion could talk. Read More…