Dinosaur Dracula!
Dinosaur Dracula

Fast Food Kiddie Bags from the ’90s.

Tonight’s article is about fast food kiddie bags from the 1990s, which is as close as I may ever come to literally writing about garbage.

Really, focusing on the bags is just my way to highlight five memorable fast food promotions, starring everyone from Spider-Man to Amy Monkey.

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Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie!
McDonald’s Happy Meal, 1995

I’ve come to dig the first Power Rangers movie. Guess I needed a full twenty years to truly appreciate Ivan Ooze, a sort of otherworldly midpoint between Brother Justin and Ursula. When one could accurately summarize a film with “villain mass produces toy slime that turns people in drooling slaves,” I feel an almost religious need to champion said film.

It isn’t surprising that the movie scored a Happy Meal, but I’m shocked at how good the toys were. I mean, this was Power Rangers in 1995. They could’ve tossed anything in there, and kids still would’ve lost it. Instead we got a set of six legit action figures in accompanying Zords. The figures were on the small side, but they still way overachieved for McDonald’s toys.

UPDATE: I’ve since been told that these figures were actually sold apart from the Happy Meals — which included smaller MMPR doodads — and thus weren’t exactly “free.” Oh well. They did seem a little too good to be true.

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Cereal shopping in 1986’s Manhunter.

My friend Lauren told me to check out Manhunter, the 1986 thriller and first-ever film to feature the Hannibal Lecter character. (Okay, Lecktor, but it was the same guy.)

Many critics didn’t go gaga over Manhunter back then, but I loved it for exactly the same reasons that they hated it. Mixing Harris’s universe with Miami Vice theatrics just worked for me. Plus, I’m not sure I can dislike anything that stars both Tom Noonan and Dennis Farina. The whole movie is full of people I would love to sit next to on a transatlantic flight.

Of course, Lauren’s suggestion had nothing to do with the quality of the film…

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See, late in Manhunter, there’s a scene where Will Graham (William Petersen, who rocked IMO) comes clean with his son while they’re out grocery shopping. It’s the traditional father/son chat about losing your mind over horrible murderers, but while Will’s talking about serial killers, the only thing I’m processing is plain old cereal.

This was shot in a legit supermarket — one that hadn’t been redressed to avoid any inadvertent product placement. Thank God! If you pause at just the right moments, you’ll see dozens of old school cereal and snack brands. I shouldn’t need to tell you that I live for this shit.

Below are the frame-by-frame highlights. I believe this scene was filmed in 1985. Click any product title to see its original TV commercial! Read More…

Five Random Action Figures, Part 14!

I’ve been salivating over the many reveals from this year’s Toy Fair, which collectively guarantee that I’ll have five cents to my name by the end of 2015.

To cool down, I thought I’d take a minute to appreciate what I already have… and stop worrying about how I’m going to afford seventy thousand new Decepticons. Curse my toxic plasma.

Here’s the fourteenth edition of Five Random Action Figures!

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png-scorpRobeast Scorpious
Voltron, 1984

Through the years, I’ve been pretty quiet on the Voltron front. I had the big lion set and watched the show often enough, but my ability to retain Voltron knowledge is weirdly horrible. I’ll never understand it.

My silence has been a disservice, because aside from the giant robot toys that everyone thinks of when they hear “Voltron,” Panosh’s accompanying series of standard-sized action figures absolutely RULED.

Here we have Robeast Scorpious, a gorgeous blue demon that was equal parts Darth Vader and Ganon. If you didn’t know that he was from Voltron, you might imagine him to be from some knockoff line sold at 1980s supermarkets. Or possibly the fruit of a six-year-old’s Play-Doh project. I just love him. Read More…

Pee-wee Herman’s Gremlins Collection.

proofBack when Pee-wee was just starting to catch on, he was a frequent guest on Late Night with David Letterman, taking part in bizarre bits that only further cemented his rise to superstardom.

Since my own obsession began with Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, I missed the earliest of those appearances, featuring a version of Pee-wee that was somehow even weirder than the one I grew up loving.

As it turns out, sleeping through those Letterman spots was a huge mistake. You see, on Halloween night in 1984, Pee-Wee showed Dave his COLLECTION OF GREMLINS MEMORABILIA. WHAT!

Many thanks to my buddy Bayou Babylon, who found this video and very accurately predicted that it would change my life. The whole thing is wonderful, but if you just want to see the Gremlins stuff, skip to the six minute mark.

After a devil-costumed Pee-wee delights Dave with everything from a pumpkin mug to a Barbie magazine, he rummages through his prop box, and begins parading an absolute smorgasbord of vintage Gremlins goodies. OH. MY. GOD.

I felt a tremendous personal responsibility to catalog everything in Pee-wee’s Gremlins collection: Read More…