In December of 1990, I borrowed my brother-in-law’s camcorder to film Animation Wars and Animation Wars: Part II. Now there’s an opener you didn’t expect.
Watch ‘em both, down below:
I was already dabbling with stop-motion shorts before then, but after learning that my brother-in-law’s camera had a feature that automatically shot one second of video every thirty seconds, I knew that I was on the cusp of my opus. (Or opuses, as the case was.)
Animation Wars and its sequel starred my collection of vintage Star Wars figures. Even by 1990, Kenner’s Star Wars collection was long discontinued, and not more than two of those figures were leftovers from my childhood. The rest were procured through classifieds from the back of Starlog, and at the occasional flea market. Read More…
Since we’re in the thick of Dino Drac’s 2016 holiday celebration, I’m adding a special theme to this edition of Five Random Action Figures.
In this batch, every figure has something to do with ice or snow. This despite the fact that it still won’t be winter even a month from now. Really, I just wanted to mess with tiny styrofoam snowballs. (Give me this! I have so little.)
G.I. Joe (1990)
According to his file card, Sub-Zero was the Joes’ “Winter Operations Specialist,” which sounds like one of those bullshit designations you give to ambitious worker bees.
“Oh yes, Mr. Habershaw! We see big things from you as our new… uhhh… Master of Cold! Now put on this wackadoo uniform and then go stand in the snow forever.”
I’m apathetic towards Sub-Zero, who arrived long after I’d stopped paying serious attention to the G.I. Joe universe. What immediately strikes me is that this 1990 figure looks so much like one Hasbro would’ve put out five years prior, with the sort of antiquely stoic facial sculpt that more befit 1985 than the rad-to-the-bone 1990s.
With removable snow shoes and a giant machine gun being only two of Sub-Zero’s awesome accessories, I’m still more drawn to that weird ass hood of his. Now I know what’d come out if both Dorothy and Sophia entered one of the telepods from The Fly. Read More…
Ahhh, can you feel it? That crisp morning chill! Those extra thick retail catalogs! This divisive election that threatens to split the world in half like a coconut! Yes indeed, CHRISTMAS is in the air!
Okay, maybe it’s a little early, but I’ll tell you this: As a kid, it was always at this point in November that I started to work on my Christmas wish lists.
That was the era of the Sears Wish Book and similarly giant catalogs. Hundreds of pages filled with toys and video games and unsightly sweatpants, all ripe for the wanting. Some of my fondest holiday memories involve me sprawled out on the living room floor, mapping out my wish list on a legal pad.
I had nice Christmases, but in practice, my wish lists were largely ignored. If I had to assign the problem a crux, it was the fact that I always gave Mom my list no later than November 10th. She was more the type to shop on December 20th, and definitely not the type to hold onto a list of toys for over a month.
Still, I doubt that receiving my exact wants would’ve been nearly as fun as simply picking them out. Paging through those catalogs and dreaming about plastic garbage was the kid version of imagining the aftermath of a lottery win. You don’t really believe it’s gonna happen, but the sweet dreams are worth whatever investment.
Below: Seven toys plucked from the 1991 JCPenney Christmas catalog, which for all intents was the fraternal twin of the Sears Wish Book. (Same shit, different composition.)
TMNT Technodrome Playset!
Every time I look at the Technodrome, I bleed. Despite being a major TMNT nut at the time, I never got my hands on this playset. How could I let such an obviously great time slip through my fingers?
Judging by the “open” view in that photo, I see that it isn’t nearly as spacious or intricate as the me-of-the-’90s imagined. On the other hand, I knew the trick with these action figure playsets. If you filled them with figures from different, smaller lines, they all turned into plastic paradises. I don’t know exactly how many TMNT figures fit inside the Technodrome, but I bet that bitch coulda held at least fifty G.I. Joes.
(I was a playset junkie, by the way. Without playsets, I wouldn’t have had any idea what to do with my action figures. I wasn’t so imaginative with “wars on the battlefield” or other such dramas, but I sure knew how to make four inch monsters fight over “who got the house.”) Read More…
Happy Halloween, everyone!
Course, by the time most of you read this, it’ll be November. Hell, it might technically be November even by the time this gets posted. Oh well. I like November, too. Stove Top and Sunday circulars.
I hope you had a tremendous season, and I hope Dino Drac played some small part in making it just a little bit sweeter. I know I missed some time this month and didn’t get to do nearly as many articles (or videos or podcasts) as was expected, but all I can do about that now is sit on the couch and hate-eat a bunch of cake. Next year, I’ll plan better for life’s hiccups.
Here’s one more edition of Classic Creepy Commercials to close out the Countdown, because your Halloween season won’t be complete until you watch a Martin promo from 1992. Admit it!
FOX Halloween Promo! (1992)
This October ’92 promo for Fox’s Thursday night lineup featured Halloween episodes of The Simpsons and Martin, but I think the real money in its last second mention of The Heights. I never strayed far enough from 90210 to get into that show, but I’ll never forget how literally every girl in my seventh grade class spent one full month singing its theme song, as if by curse.
Fox’s actual literal pitch for this particular Heights episode: “Watch these two have sex!” There’s no coyness, no subtle hinting… they pretty much just come out and say, “this week we’re gonna show you this character and this character doooo eeeeeet.” It’s weird to see that five seconds after Toga Homer. Read More…
I did it. I took the plunge. I am now the proud owner of a vintage My Pet Monster doll, complete with break-apart handcuffs.
He’s two feet of adorable terror, with stoner eyes, shark teeth and an alien dick nose. I love him. I’ve hugged him.
Released by American Greetings in 1986, My Pet Monster was insanely popular. That might sound surprising, but given that the doll capitalized on so many different proven trends, it actually would’ve been more surprising if he flopped.
See, my pal debuted at the height of the “gross toys” fad. Right between Madballs and Boglins. It seemed like any toy that adhered to the same sensibilities was at least a little successful, but when you had one like My Pet Monster, who kinda just stormed into the summit to declare that everything was his and also that Mattel and Hasbro could go fuck themselves, it’s no shock that 95% of the global population owned one by the winter of ‘87.
There was also the fact that boy-targeted dolls had suddenly become popular, I guess because the boys from just a few years prior couldn’t keep their hands off of the dolls that were mostly marketed to girls. Toy companies eventually took the hint, and even by the time My Pet Monster debuted, those My Buddy dolls had already cut down every branch in his path.
So yeah, 1986 was made for My Pet Monster. Had he arrived just two years earlier or later, we’d only know him from some prototype photo in a dealer’s catalog, and maybe some whispers about how he didn’t wow the distributors at Toy Fair. Read More…
I wanted to do another edition of Five Random Action Figures before Halloween, lest I waste the excuse to take pictures of plastic monsters out in the freezing rain. So here we are, hours later, with me sneezing and my phone’s touchscreen on the fritz. I suffer for you.
Star Wars (1983)
The Rancor Monster was the largest of Kenner’s vintage Star Wars figures, with a price to match.
Too extravagant to talk Mom & Dad into buying during a “regular” trip to Toys “R” Us, most kids had to wait for Christmas or their birthdays, and pray that they’d remember how much they wanted one during those small windows of opportunity. It was the kid version of trying to get pregnant.
I never did get a Rancor Monster as a kid, and actually never even saw one in person until I was like, 67. It’s an impressive figure for sure, but as the legend grew in my childhood brain, I imagined the Rancor being triple this size and with rough, leathery skin.
The reality may not be the Rancor of my dreams, but it’s still a wonderful toy. It’s like they mixed DNA from a tyrannosaur and that thing from Cloverfield. Read More…