Dinosaur Dracula!

Vintage Comic Book Ads, Volume 12!

Torn from the pages of comics that were far more valuable before said tearing commenced, here’s another batch of comic book ads from the ‘80s and ‘90s.

TMNT Cereal with Pizza-Shaped Marshmallows!
Ghost Rider #13, May 1991

I love how Ralston kept kids interested in Ninja Turtles Cereal with a series of increasingly bizarre gimmicks and giveaways — like the time they included packets of Honey Ooze for kids to drip over it, or the time they handed out free TMNT-themed cereal bowls.

This ad announced what may have been my favorite of the TMNT Cereal promotions: PIZZA-SHAPED MARSHMALLOWS!

They looked as much like decaying teeth, but with cereal marshmallows, kids gave companies a lotta rope. Given how prominent pizza was in Ninja Turtles lore, it’s wild that Ralston didn’t start off with that shape.

The pizza-shaped marshmallows didn’t taste like pizza, but I bet that some kids convinced themselves otherwise. (Sort of like how I used to swear that red construction paper tasted like cherries.) Read More…

Tiny Tributes to Minor Monsters, #5!

Time for the fifth edition of Tiny Tributes to Minor Monsters. I hope you like Chicken McNuggets and demons from Hell.

The Grither!
Tales from the Darkside (1986)

The Grither was perhaps the most memorable monster ever featured on Tales from the Darkside — which is saying plenty when you remember all of those werewolves, witches and killer teddy bears.

During the first season’s “Christmas” episode, Seasons of Belief, a pair of subtly-twisted parents tell their kids a story about a terrible monster that preys on anyone foolish enough to speak its name.

Supposedly, this “Grither” lives in a dark, wet cave at the North Pole. The parents appear to be making up the story as they go along… until the creature crashes through the windows and snaps their necks. (The kids are spared, if you can call watching a monster break your parents’ necks being “spared.”)

With arms as long as trees and hands the size of punch bowls, we could only guess at what the rest of the Grither looked like. I’ve always pictured him as an extra-gnarly version of Pumpkinhead.

Bonus points: The Grither killed the guy who played Clark’s father-in-law in Christmas Vacation. On a squint and a stretch, it was retribution for that “little lights aren’t twinkling” bullshit. Read More…

5 Super Rare Kool-Aid Flavors!

Hi, I’m Matt, and I collect old Kool-Aid.

Below are five of the most valuable packets in my collection. A few are so rare that even many hardcore Kool-Aid collectors probably have no idea that they exist. These are my babies, and I cradle them at night.

Hallowe’en Cool Eerie Orange! (1996)

Most of you are familiar with Ghoul-Aid, Kool-Aid’s famous Halloween flavor. Now only sold in Jammers form, Ghoul-Aid debuted back in the ‘90s as a traditional powdered mix.

What fewer know is that Ghoul-Aid was just one of three spooky Kool-Aid flavors sold during that era!

Released in 1996 as Canadian exclusives, Scary Black Cherry and Eerie Orange were just repackages of existing flavors. It sounds like a cheat, but taste was secondary when you had trick-or-treating Kool-Aid Men in assorted Halloween costumes on the packets.

Both flavors are now absurdly rare. Even photos of the Canadian exclusives are scarce. I just about died when I saw a packet of Eerie Orange for sale, and by “died” I mean “bid too much on eBay.” Read More…

The Ultimate Tribute to WPIX.

This is my long, meandering tribute to WPIX.

In the various iterations of my childhood bedroom, there was always a television but never a cable box. I quickly learned that most broadcast TV networks were only good for Saturday cartoons and weeknight sitcoms.

WPIX — aka “Channel 11” — filled every other gap. It was what I watched when I got home from school, and through the deadest parts of the weekend, and during my latest waking hours. It was my default channel. The mutant soundtrack of my private life. Always there, always on.

Until 1994, WPIX was a smallish, independent TV station, but one that aired — in the New York area, at least — on broadcast television. Even as a kid, I recognized that it wasn’t on the same level as ABC, NBC or CBS. In many ways, it felt like the mom-and-pop version of a TV station. Like something George Newman would’ve thrown together if he were a little more serious.

I loved it so damn much.

WPIX billed itself as “New York’s movie station,” but that was only half of the story. From sitcom reruns to weekday cartoons to special spookfests, WPIX shaped more of my passions than I’ve ever given it credit for.

It took months to gather the materials for this tribute. Only after raiding dozens of old VHS tapes could I confidently make WPIX’s case. Given that a comparative few of you have ever even heard of WPIX, I can’t say that it was a smart use of resources.

Whatever. I don’t care. This one’s just for me.

Below are seven reasons why WPIX was the best.

1) WPIX was THE station to watch after school.

It had stiff competition from Fox, but during the years that mattered most to someone my age, WPIX was what you watched when you got home from school. From 3-5 PM, every single weekday.

Around here, WPIX was the station that ran TMNT on weekdays — complete with those weird bumpers that were voiced by some ungodly combination of Krang and Bebop. Perhaps even more importantly, WPIX was where you settled in for The Disney Afternoon.

Despite TMNT’s run on Saturday mornings, kids like me never considered it a “Saturday” cartoon. Instead, it was our reward for getting through another riotously bad day at school. My obsession with the Ninja Turtles never would’ve taken root without those weekday airings.

And The Disney Afternoon? Forget it. Two straight hours of cartoons, beginning at 3 and ending at 5. It was the perfect procrastinational tool.

(For the record, I was most fond of the original Disney Afternoon lineup, which consisted of Gummi Bears, DuckTales, Rescue Rangers and TaleSpin. I accepted Darkwing Duck well enough, but never forgave Goof Troop for knocking Scrooge McDuck into retirement.) Read More…

10 Little Moments from WrestleMania History!

I love WrestleMania season. Even when the build isn’t so hot — and I don’t know if this year’s has been — it’s just such a great time to be a wrestling fan. The line you hear about this being “our Super Bowl” isn’t bull.

…so, as is our annual tradition, me and Jay put together another WrestleMania-themed episode of The Purple Stuff Podcast. This year, we’re covering ten “minor moments” from WrestleMania history — stuff that’s indisputably awesome (or at least interesting), but is less often celebrated by the many WrestleMania list-makers.

Listen to this week’s episode by clicking here!

We know that only some of the show’s listeners are into wrestling, and that’s okay. We do this one for ourselves, but it’s still so humbling and nice to hear from folks who use our WWE shows as part of their WrestleMania celebrations.

(And, for whatever it’s worth, this is my favorite Purple Stuff episode in a long time!)

Here are some clues about what we’ll be covering on the show: Read More…

The 1986 Nash “Nightmare” Skateboard!

I’m gonna need you to watch a scene from Child’s Play 2. Trust me, okay?

Here we have young Andy Barclay inspecting his new bedroom. His adoptive mother encourages him to play with the assorted toys, and tells him that there are even more in the closet.

The scene establishes that there’s a Good Guys doll in the house. It’s just a normal, non-possessed doll, but given Andy’s history with Chucky, he’s understandably shaken.

But that’s not why I made you watch it.

During the closet scene, note how Andy is drawn to the top shelf by that bomb-ass skateboard. It isn’t onscreen for long, but look close and you’ll see that it’s absolutely bathed in horror movie references!

One might theorize that this was a custom prop, and that some regular skateboard was refurbished with horror imagery as a wink at the genre.

Nope! That was a real skateboard! Thousands of kids had it!

The Nightmare skateboard (or Night Mare, depending on how you read it) was released by Nash in 1986. I’m no expert on skateboards, but even *I* had one of Nash’s. (Mine just said “NASH” and had no neat ties to Jason Voorhees, but on the other hand, it was really glittery.)

Nash’s boards were sold in tons of toy shops and department stores. I imagine that this one served as a mutant gateway drug for kids who needed a little push to start watching horror movies. (It’s kind of like how I never bothered with the original TMNT cartoon until I found that swank spiral notebook with Donatello on the cover.) Read More…

Tiny Tributes to Minor Monsters, #4!

Get set for the fourth edition of Tiny Tributes to Minor Monsters, featuring everything from a zombie wrestler to the Godzilla version of Satan. Everything you need, really.

The Fake Undertaker!
WWF SummerSlam (1994)

I never love pro-wrestling more than when it’s at its most preposterous, and on that front, this was a tough act to follow. The main event of WWE’s SummerSlam ‘94 pay-per-view was the Undertaker versus… the Undertaker.

No, really! After a long hiatus, fans discovered that their beloved Undertaker had been bought off by the evil Ted DiBiase. As the Undertaker had by then spent over two years as a hero, it was hard to believe that he’d throw so much goodwill away for a fistful of hundreds.

As it turned out, he didn’t! At SummerSlam ‘94, the real Undertaker returned for a match against his imitator. Total Boba Fett / Jodo Kast situation. The “UnderFaker” lost the battle and the war, never returning to WWE after his defeat.

While it’s true that fans obsess over WWE canon way more than the company itself does, nobody can scratch this from the record books. You could not write a complete list of past-and-present WWE superstars without listing the Undertaker twice, and that is the best.

PS: The phony Undertaker was portrayed by Brian Lee, who’d later wrestle as Chainz, a sort of stock “biker” character. Read More…