Dinosaur Dracula!

Saturday Television of a Misspent Youth.

Back in junior high, I spent a lot of my free time alone. I don’t mean that to sound maudlin; I had friends, and we’d hang out often enough. Thing was, we had few common interests, and whenever they ran off to do whatever normal boys did, I hid at home.

This was during the early ‘90s, and I can’t sugarcoat it: Those were pretty lonely times. My experiences certainly weren’t unique, as I’m sure a lot of you were also victims of demographics, living in neighborhoods where, God dammit, not one other person was anything like you.

I made plenty of friends in high school — many of whom drove — and suddenly those years spent bored and bewildered were just a part of my past. I didn’t miss them then, but the weird thing is how much I miss them now.

A quiet freedom (literal and figurative) comes with solitude, and I can’t help but idealize those long ago weekends, when I threw myself into hobbies and discovered everything that made me tick. I’ve spent my whole life dabbling in obsessions, but most of my truest passions were defined in that era. (And I know that they’re the truest, because I had no audience.)

The bulk of those weekends were spent in my bedroom, which was less a “bedroom” and more my own personalized ecosphere. It wasn’t just a place to sleep — it was a place to live. In there was access to everything that kept me sane, from toys to videos to Nintendos to back issues of Starlog. The walls were covered with pleasant sights, the shelves topped with plastic joy. There you’d find me filling out order slips for vintage Star Wars collectibles, reading books about sharks, and drawing bad ripoffs of The Infinity Gauntlet. I didn’t know it, but I was happy.

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I watched a lot of TV on those weekends, on a half-fritzed hand-me-down with perpetual fuzz and three of the buttons missing. Nothing makes me remember that time of my life quite like those old shows.

In a sense, those weekend programs were my friends, dropping by to provide me with much-needed distractions. I counted on them, big time. I’m not talking about Saturday morning cartoons, either — I was already a little old for those, and besides, it’s okay if Saturday mornings are boring. It wasn’t until late afternoon that joining the Little League started to seem like a good idea.

In the early ‘90s, weekend programming on network television was… interesting. There you’d find made-for-syndication sitcoms that never played on weekdays, stuck in horrible Saturday timeslots that guaranteed audiences no larger than two dozen. By late afternoon, the more popular syndicated shows would get their first-runs. Finally, in the dark of night, there was my beloved parade of eerier entries that made going to sleep with the lights off tough.

Below are six examples. At the time, none of these shows were anything approaching my “favorites.” I started watching them simply because they were the best case scenarios. Every single one of them reminds of those lost ‘90s weekends, when I was stuck in my bedroom to stew-or-swim. Seeing a mere snippet of any of them makes me feel simultaneously depressed and inspired, as impossible as that sounds. Read More…

Five really old cans of Chef Boyardee.

Let’s look at five ancient cans of Chef Boyardee pasta, because of course I have those.

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Pac-Man Pasta!

From 1986, it’s both my oldest can and the prettiest… even if one must approach “golden chicken flavored sauce” with healthy trepidation. The milky, yellow glop looks not entirely dissimilar from cat vomit.

Intellectually, I get that “golden chicken” only implies that chicken-based sauce is naturally yellow. Still, pairing those words makes me imagine a splinter group of mutant chickens that I’ve never known to exist outside the confines of Pac-Man Pasta.

On the upside, the pasta shapes include Pac-Man, ghosts and power pellets. On the even uppier upside, the label’s gorgeous blue background gives it a subtly oceanic theme, which despite being miles away from canonical lore still somehow works for Pac-Man. Read More…

Deadsites: “The Beast” 1996 TV Movie!

These Deadsites posts are always tricky. For every entry that seems to resonate with you guys, there’s another that maybe three people on the whole planet are interested in. Admittedly, today’s entry runs the risk of falling into the dreaded latter category.

I can’t afford to care, because GIANT SQUID!!!

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From 1996, get a load of NBC’s official site for The Beast, a rather infamous television movie based on Peter Benchley’s nearly same-named novel. It’s about an enormous squid that terrorizes a small town, with little regard for its natural habitat. (Benchley also wrote Jaws, and it would be perfectly accurate to call both his novel and this adaptation “Jaws with a squid.”)

Ever since childhood museum trips told me about giant squids’ deep sea battles with sperm whales, I’ve been a huge mark for them. I was all about this mini-series in 1996, even if it ended up being kind of dopey and way too long. (My favorite bit had the impossibly huge mother squid — the movie’s “big bad” — surfacing to inspect its murdered offspring… literally reaching its tentacles over land and into a pool to check her baby’s pulse. It pained me to skip Married With Children, but vengeful mommy squids didn’t land on TV often.)

Reviews of the film are frustratingly disparate. Genre fans give its cheesier elements a pass, because we know that movies like this are always kinda cheesy. The problem was that The Beast was a prime time network special, more commonly reviewed by “pros” whose normal duties did not involve looking for the bright side in protracted movies about bloodthirsty squid. Read More…

Dino Drac’s January 2015 Funpack!

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(AVAILABLE IN THE UNITED STATES ONLY!)

I’m officially ready to shill the hell out of Dinosaur Dracula’s first Funpack of the new year. It’s the January 2015 edition, stuffed with 10+ items!

As this is now the sixth Funpack in the monthly series, it’s safe to assume that most of you already know the score. But just in case you don’t, I’ll explain!

I’m offering subscriptions for monthly Funpacks filled with assorted retro junk — along with choice newer items and even a couple of Dino Drac exclusives. These Funpack subscriptions are absolutely the driving force that allows me to continue running Dino Drac, so aside from getting a cool box of stuff every month, you’re also helping to keep the site going!

I’ll give you more details below, but here are the basics: Funpack subscriptions are $25 a month, and that includes shipping anywhere in the United States. You can cancel at anytime. For as long as you stay subscribed, you’ll automatically be billed $25 a month, and I’ll keep sending you new Funpacks!

Now, let’s see what’s in the January 2015 edition!

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I think it’s a very strong contender for the best one yet. Over ten items in each box, including… Read More…

Five Random Action Figures, Part 12!

It’s time for the twelfth edition of Five Random Action Figures! (Three of these were picked up just this week. Thank you, mysterious and awesome local comic book shop that’s apparently been hiding in plain sight since last spring.)

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a-venkPeter Venkman
The Real Ghostbusters, 1986

Most of the praise I lavish on Kenner’s Real Ghostbusters line is thanks to the, erm, ghosts, but the actual Ghostbusters were just as inspired. They’d ultimately get umpteen upgrades with all sorts of new outfits and features, but I’ve always been partial to the originals.

Peter here has seen better days, but even with a half-broken Neutrona Blaster, I think you can still see the appeal. For one thing, the figure was a near-perfect representation of the cartoon character, assuming you can forgive Peter’s weirdly radioactive eyes. (And if there’s anything that’s forgivable by default, it’s weirdly radioactive eyes.)

The big draw was the accessories. Venkman came with a mini ghost, a Proton Pack and a Neutrona Blaster that perpetually spit a swirling proton beam. (The beam is longer than the figure itself!)

I got Peter for a song, and adding my recent acquisitions of Ray and Winston from that eBay mixed lot, I’m one Egon away from completing the world’s most play-worn set of Real Ghostbusters figures. Go me, I guess. Read More…

Awesome & Expensive Junk on eBay.

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I’ve been keeping an eye on a few eBay auctions despite having no plans to actually bid, out of sheer amazement that people have such rare stuff to sell. Like, how the hell do you end up with 59 Fireball Island board games?

Most of these treasures will ultimately make quiet exits, remembered only be the few who were lucky enough to stumble upon their auction listings. So you can consider this post my way of making sure that certain items of the “holy shit” variety have a forever home on the internet.

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Store Display of Masters of the Universe Slime!
Asking Price: $1249.00
Photo by great-items | Auction Link

The auction listing is presently inactive, but I’ve been tracking it for months, and I’m sure the seller will give it another go sooner or later. What a find! A complete store display of Masters of the Universe Slime!

Next to Modulok, those cans of Slime were probably my favorite items from the vintage MOTU line. Most of us associate them with the legendary Slime Pit playset, but Mattel was just as interested in selling them separately. (I have such fond memories of this exact display being right beside the register in our mall’s long gone Kay Bee.)

The cans were also used a promotional device, given away free to anyone who bought two He-Man figures over a certain time period. Of the 28 cans in this display, 9 of them have stickers for that very promotion.

According to the seller, less than a third of the cans have dried out. At around 45 bucks a can, this actually isn’t too bad of a deal! (While sealed Slime cans have been sold for cheaper, it’s pretty tough to find them with still-gooey contents.) Read More…