Dinosaur Dracula!

Charms of the 1980s, Reexamined.

From kindergarten through the third grade, I don’t think a school day went by that I didn’t see at least six dozen of those plastic “charms.” You know, the ones with the little bells attached, typically clipped onto long neon chains?

This photo tells the story better than I can:

These things were everywhere. The girls wore them as bracelet, necklace and earring ornaments, but even if they were more popular with females, it’s not like the guys were totally cut out. We just had to choose charms that were a little more macho. Toilet bowl charms, and charms that looked like tiny cans of Pepsi. Macho stuff like that.

From what I recall, there was no standard “way” to get these charms. Vending machines were the safest bet, but for a while, they were pretty much everywhere. No one company had “majority control” of ‘em, but it’s also true that some charms were much better than others.

Like, if you had a charm that was based on a real life food item, that was gold. If your charm was a fully-functioning miniature version of some everyday appliance, that was silver. Then there was the sea of bronze, filled with everything from animals to tennis rackets to baby bottles. Read More…

Five Random ’80s Action Figures.

Below are thoughts about five random ‘80s action figures. Well, random to you, but very important to me. I chose these five because blah blah blah, something something, who cares, nobody reads intros. I’ll just use this space to practice the ol’ text whistle. Whhhrrreeeeeee. Sooowoooiiiiiiooo.

B.A.T. (Battle Android Trooper)
G.I. Joe, 1986

I should have written more about this guy over the years, because it’s damn close to my favorite action figure ever. The B.A.T. was just one of an army of identical Cobra robots who made life hell for the Joes, but their place in the lore never concerned me. I just thought the figure looked impossibly cool.

In my little toy universe, B.A.T. had a starring role. For a while, everything that happened on my bedroom carpet was seen from B.A.T.’s point of view.

Uh oh — the Rancor is battling a Sharkticon. How will this affect B.A.T.?

Regrettably, this particular figure is in rough shape, and is missing one of its coolest parts – the awesome chest sticker that showed all of his internal gears!

B.A.T.’s right hand was removable, and he came with various weapons that could be attached instead. The weird cigar cannon shown above is all I have left. Still better than most of the other beat up old B.A.T. figures, with left arms that stop dead at the elbows. I have a bad feeling that only three of you will have any idea what I’m talking about, and of those three, at least one will snark about how I’m not really “talking.” Preemptively: Fuck you. Read More…

Nintendo Cereal System, from 1988!

Breakfast peaked in 1988. You’d need a strong argument to believe otherwise.

Nintendo Cereal System was its name, and according to everyone who was appropriately-aged in ’88, it was the stuff of the gods. I can think of dozens of cereals I’ve liked more, but never did I NEED one more than this.

Nintendo is obviously still huge today, but back then, it seemed to be the only common ground that linked all kids. The exceptions were too few to count. Everyone had a Nintendo and everyone spoke the language.

A lot of things get “hot” for a while, but Nintendo became so much a part of a kid’s very culture that it was less an “interest” and more a way of life.

So, it only made sense that it’d become a cereal. Of course we were going to eat this. Of course we wanted Nintendo to start our days, even when there wasn’t time to kick Bald Bull’s ass before the bus came. Read More…

Freddy’s Greatest Hits Album!

I picked up Freddy’s Greatest Hits nearly a decade ago, and I’ve been listening to it constantly ever since. Sure, I originally bought it for the “novelty” potential, and admit that the first time I heard it, I cackled over the complete ridiculousness of a Freddy Krueger pop album with a vague doo wop motif.

But after listening to it a few more times, something changed. This wasn’t just some gag for me to parade around as an audible oddity. It was a really, really great album. I mean it.

Released in 1987, Freddy already had three movies under his belt, and a fourth on the way. Even by then, he was a veritable pop icon, as Americana as hot dogs. It would be incorrect to say that the Elm Street movies weren’t “mainstream,” but even if you do want to argue that, there’s no denying that Freddy Krueger was mainstream. If I told you that he was earmarked for a Saturday morning cartoon series, I’d be lying, but you’d probably believe it.

Freddy’s popularity would see many peaks and valleys in the years to follow, but in 1987, he still had the Midas touch. Hell, nobody ever put Robert Englund on a “most bankable” actor list, but so long as he was in the latex, it was absolutely true. People of all ages were nuts for the character, and though I don’t mean to overstate his popularity, Freddy certainly had enough fans to warrant lots and lots of merchandise.

Beyond the costumes and suction-cupped window dolls was this album. This beautiful album, aimed at God knows who. I doubt it sold more than a few thousand copies, but then, maybe no more than a few thousand copies were produced to begin with.

It’s a bizarre thing with no clear audience. Too sophisticated for kids, too stupid for adults. Too much like show tunes for the horror crowd, too much like scary bloody horror for anyone else. It takes a perfect storm to find a customer for something like this. Apparently, my life was that storm.

Give it a listen, and then we’ll talk about it:

(If you can’t see the player, it’s because you’re viewing the site on something that won’t allow Flash. Sucks to be you.) Read More…

Vintage Vending #6: Moon Monster!

It’s been ages since the last Vintage Vending post. Let’s fix that.

Pinpointing an exact date is impossible. All I can be sure of is that these came out in the ‘80s. The “Moon Monster” title was just their way of skirting copyright issues, because these are obviously Godzilla toys. Hell, the whole collage behind the toys consists of stills pulled directly from Godzilla movies.

The prizes are Godzilla figure/stampers. They are TERRIFIC. I don’t know enough about Godzilla lore to name every monster, but I know King Ghidorah when I see him, and best of all, the goddamned Smog Monster is in there. Hedorah the Smog Monster! Read More…