Sunday, April 30, 2006

Hang the Vampire?

Board games based on tv shows rule. They may not be the best games in the world, but you usually get some cool cover art. I love Dark Shadows. It's a cool, trashy soap opera that has a vampire, werewolf, ghosts, witches, and all sorts of supernatural goings on. I remember being scared of Barnabas as a child. After seeing the show as an adult, it seems ridiculous to have been afraid of a forty year old actor who often flubbed his lines.

The idea of a Dark Shadows game is better than the reality. There is no board, which is the first sign that something is amiss. It's more like a game of hangman, but with a spinner instead of guessing letters. The object of the game is to be the first one to assemble a skeleton on a scaffold. The "scaffolds" are the stack of brown items on the lower right. They are supposed to look like they are made of wood. Bend in the sides to make it stand, and hang your skeleton from it. Unfortunately they aren't very sturdy and often the duration of the game is spent trying to keep the scaffold from tipping over.

Perhaps the coolest part of the game is that the bones and stakes come in a coffin! The instructions say it is a "beautiful antique coffin" but it's really just a cardboard bottom with a plastic lid.

The manufacturer spared no expense to make sure everyone knew whose coffin it was, as the lid reads "Barnabas Collins Coffin".

What I want to know if why Barnbas is storing bones and stakes in his coffin. It doesn't seem like a good idea. Not only will he not be able to fit into it when the sun comes up, but if he desperately attempts to wedge himself inside, he could pierce his own heart with a stake. Either he's drunk on blood or he's a complete imbecile. And just where the heck is he getting all these skeletons? Vampires drain blood, not pick bones clean.

Actually the coolest part of the game is that the bones glow in the dark. But it's really kind of pointless as if you're watching the bones glow, it's too dark to see the spinner.

The cover proudly proclaims there are bonus Barnabas fangs inside! These turn out to be your garden variety novelty fangs. The disappointing thing is that they couldn't even figure out a way to work them into the game. The instructions inform us that they are to be used by the person who plays the role of Barnabas Collins - which is also NOT part of the game. I'll bet kids fought over who was going to play Barnabas, even though it didn't make any difference in the game. The only thing wearing those teeth is going to make you do is drool.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Sunshine Saturday Morning

What was better than getting up and watching Saturday morning tv? Nothing. You couldn't beat the programs with a stick, even if you tried. Take a gander at this tour de force of programming - Devlin and Korg 70,000 B.C. Crazy!

First we've got a cartoon about an orphan who makes like Evel Knievel. Then we've got Korg, a time traveling brain smasher of a show, which gives us Burgess Meredith, aka The Penguin, providing narration for a family of cavemen.

I did not watch Korg very much. Let's face it, those cavemen were ugly. Yowch! Don't want to run into that in a dark alley. The neanderthal man was unpleasant to look at, and I wasn't all that keen on staring at them for a half hour. I'll bet if they had put some good looking teen idol types in caveman outfits, and kept them all neat and clean like on the Flintstones the show would have been more popular. But how are you going to grab the teenage girls when all the guys have tons of body hair, massive brows, and nasty huge teeth?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

OSI's Next Project?....The Bionic Black Bear

Remember when OSI thought they should test their bionics on someone other than Steve Austin? So they rebuilt Jaime Sommers. Then they rebuilt a dog. Then they just went nuts and rebuilt the outer space Bigfoot. Well, how can they top that, I wondered. They can't just keep chucking bionics into anything that moves. But I was wrong because soon after came... the Bionic Boy!

Yes, Vince Van Patten IS the Bionic Boy. That's right. He doesn't just play the Bionic Boy, he IS a bionic boy. They actually rebuilt him. It was in the contract that whoever won the role would have to replace their own legs with bionics. Now this might seem like pretty cool until you realize that the doctors who are operating on you are actually fellow actors. Then the whole bionic thing seems like a bad nightmare.

Oh. He's not bionic after all. That headline was very misleading, but I'm glad to know that Vince didn't need to let some character actor remove his legs with a rusty knife.

I always liked Vince Van Patten. He just seemed like a nice kid, plus he's one of THE Van Pattens. So how can you beat that? I really wish they had made the Bionic Boy a weekly tv show. But I guess the tv industry can't sustain three bionic shows all at once. I mean really, how different could it be from the other two? I suppose Vince could somehow use his bionics to save a fellow student that is stuck under a table in the cafeteria. Or Oscar Goldman could hire him as the youngest member of OSI, because no one would suspect a kid was working for a secret agency.

Superman vs. Juvenile Delinquents....From Space!

I used to love Superman comics. Come to think of it, actually I loved Superboy comics and only liked Superman. But no matter, for today we have Superman matched up against two lovable little rogues from outer space. They don't mean any harm. They're just good natured spaceboys who cause havoc and destruction everywhere they go.

You can say what you want about Zigi and Zagi, but the spacekids throw themselves into everything full force. What earthling child wouldn't turn himself into a skeleton if he had the power to do so and continue living? It would provide laughs, scares, and hijinks would ensue.

But I'm not sure about this sort of parenting. Putting kids in a cage with a cyclops-caveman-octopus creature so that it can tickle them until they almost die seems a bit harsh, especially since the poor spacelads were trying to learn at Earth school rather than play hookey. I would think a living skeleton would be a positive boon for a science teacher, especially if it was a space skeleton!

I must confess to being worried about Superman's sentiments at the boys near death experience in the creepy tickling monster's cage. The Man of Steel goes on the record as saying they deserve it. He sounds like one of those people that hit you and then tell you it's your fault. What next, Superman? Oops, the space scamps drank gasoline and accidentally immolated themselves. Well, I guess they deserved it since they shouldn't have been drinking gas out of the hose.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

If Only We Could All Live Like Evel

How can you not love the Evel one? He's a crazy thrill seeker with the guts to sail off the edge of the world, even when he knew he'd be plunging head first into the Snake Canyon River. He's a madman on a motorcyle racing over jumps when he knows he's going to crash because the people came to see this stunt, and damn it he's going to give it to them. He's a walking medical experiment who insists on riding before he's fully healed, even though he's broken 15,925 bones. He's a no nonsense, no one messes with me kind of guy, and he'll take a 2x4 to your head if you dare disagree. Don't cross him, don't mess with him, and don't ever think that you can do what he did - because you can't.

Even his toys are tougher than everyone elses. If Evel had been the one jumping barrels instead of the Fonz, he wouldn't have slid into Arnolds fried chicken stand. He would have screamed into it at 100mph, broken 200 bones, stood up, and downed a bucket of chicken to show the crowd he was okay. And you can expect the same thing from his toys. The stunt cycle can leap your neighbors ditch, jump your entire set of encyclopedias, do somersaults over the Evel Knievel Scramble Van, and drive perfectly upright while Evel does a headstand on it.

And when Evel got done with his exciting adventues, what did he do? He had further adventures. No one was going to tell him what to do, especially when his toys were owned by almost every red blooded American boy, and coveted by those who parents thought Evel was a bad influence.

What else could capture a kid's heart in the 1970s like a daredevil, superhero, glory loving, lunatic? Nothing. Because no daredevil has ever come close to capturing the magic that was Evel. It takes more than just jumping a train to make a legend. You've got to have personality by the bushel. And with the exception of Evel's wooden acting in "Viva Knievel!", the man had more personality than all the other daredevils stacked side by side in the Snake River Canyon.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Get Your Hands Off Me, You Damn Dirty Ape!

In 1974, my friends and I watched Planet of the Apes every Friday night. I was so into it that I spent my allowance every week on packs of Planet of the Apes bubblegum cards, until it ended in a frenzy of buying 20 packs of bubblegum to get that one missing card. And believe me, the lady behind the candy counter looked at me like I was nuts when I asked for 20 packs of cards.

I also had two Planet of the Apes model kits, which were thrown out at some point when I got older. I even managed to scrounge up the money to buy one of the paperback books. I wish I could have bought all four, but as a kid I just couldn't hold onto money. As with most books based on tv shows, it's not the best thing to read. But it is cool!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Gimme My Incredible Futuristic Specs

How I loved the ads in comic books. They always seemed to be have special glasses that would do amazing things. Here's a pair of specs that you use while watching tv so it appears as if the action is happening right in the room. Wow! I'm very intrigued.

Even more thrilling - the possibilities of Xray Specs! Who doesn't want to be able to look through their own flesh or see the skeletons of others? Plus there is the additional possibility of looking through clothes.

Although I suppose another possibility could be that you end up like Rowdy Roddy Piper in "They Live" and just see a horrible world with strange skinless aliens and billboards with sayings like "conform."

The Kids From CAPER

Due to Bubblegumfinks March post mentioning Kids from CAPER on YouTube, I remembered I had this pin up. I'm not sure if I ever watched the Kids From CAPER. I'm not sure if anyone ever watched the Kids From CAPER. But do I remember seeing some articles about the cast in Tiger Beat or 16 magazine.

For whatever reason, I kept this picture of John Lansing who played Doc. I'm guessing the reason is I thought he was cute... but not cute enough to watch the show. The tape mark on it tells me that I actually hung it on my wall.

It seems like something I would have watched since I loved the live action Saturday morning shows. Perhaps I saw it once and it was so bad I never watched it again? It is one of the mysteries of life.

The Great Brain Could Kick Harry Potters Ass

If I wasn't out jumping my yellow banana seat Schwinn over a homemade ramp or running around the neighborhood, I could probably be found reading. I liked these books enough to still own them.

The Outsiders, which is S.E. Hinton's most famous book, was required reading in junior high. I really enjoyed it which led me to pick up this book, which was in a similar vein. After the success of the movie version of the Outsiders, this book was made into a lousy movie starring Emilio Estevez. But at least it didn't star Leif Garrett.

While I'm not sure of the historical accuracy of any details in this book, for a kid it was a thrilling read. A teenager whose parents have died tries to enlist during the Revolutionary War. He ends up helping the colonial soldiers by carrying messages between the different units, because it is reasoned the British will think he is a local boy, and let him pass through their checkpoints. There are exciting times as he is caught by the British, and also uncovers a spy within the colonials ranks.

Books about ghosts are always worth a look. This one is about a kid who was killed decades earlier who enlists the help of the boy who just moved into the house in an attempt to let people know what really happened to him.

What can I say about the Great Brain, except that I love the whole series of books. They are told from the point of J.D, who chronicles the adventures of his older brother Tom, aka the Great Brain. Tom is very intelligent and is always one step ahead of the other kids in town, constantly swindling them out of money and getting other kids to do his chores. He even manages to outsmart many adults in town. The stories are an easy read and very amusing. Sometimes I still pull the books out to read.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Wildboy, Wildboy, Wherefore Art Thou Wildboy?

Back in the 1970s, the Kroffts were kings of Saturday Morning live action tv shows. One that I really enjoyed was Bigfoot and Wildboy. What kid wouldn't love a show about a crime fighting Bigfoot and the Wildboy he raised after finding him in the hills? The show originally aired as part of the Krofft Supershow. After that went off the air, Bigfoot and Wildboy came back as it's own half hour show in the summer of 1979. It was during this time that I sent a fan letter to Wildboy, aka Joseph Butcher. The response to my letter was an offer to join his fan club. Love that hand drawn lettering.

The offer of a poster plus a personally autographed photo was enough to make me scrounge up the five dollars. After what seemed like forever, my fan club packet arrived. My official welcome letter informed me that I had just joined the best fan club in the world - wow! It even said that Joey wanted to know about me so I should fill out and return the enclosed form, which I must have done since I don't have it anymore.

The photocopied letter was a bit disappointing, but at least Joey wrote my name in at the top and put his signature on it.

What could any teenage girl want more than a personally autographed 8x10 photo of a good looking wildboy who runs around fighting evil with the Bigfoot that raised him?

The membership card rules. I should put it in my wallet and use it when people ask for identification.

What I like about the poster is that it isn't a posed headshot. You can tell it's from the live action kids show because Joseph is wearing his Wildboy garb. Well, thats assuming he didn't wear the tunic around town due to some sort of psychosis brought on from spending all his time acting with Bigfoot. And in case you're wondering, yes, I put this poster on my bedroom wall.

This might be my favorite item from the whole package, although I really like the membership card. Behold, a beautiful 8x10 showing Bigfoot and Wildboy looking for some evil to stomp out. Dig that Wildboy outfit!

I would have much preferred another 8x10 of Wildboy rather than this one with the feathered hair and what looks to me like a velour shirt. Yikes!

The fan club packet also included a biography of Joseph. This was the front of the bio folder. Another headshot with the feathered hair and velour shirt, damn it!

The inside of the folder showed the many faces of Joseph Butcher. See how good he cleans up? He's not always hanging out with Bigfoot. Sometimes he does sensitive performances as a blind boy in "When Butterflies Are Free." From Wildboy to Blindboy, that's a quite a range. I'm hoping Blindboy also has a seeing eye Bigfoot pal.

Fan club members were kept up to date with a newsletter that came out three times a year. It contained such scintillating reading as "The new Bigfoot and Wildboy shows are really super. They are even better than the ones before." Or "The new 1/2 hour shows are great! And Joey looks cuter than ever."
Sadly the second newletter had a big rubber stamp on it, asking fan club members to write to the president of ABC because Bigfoot and Wildboy might not be back on the air. The third newsletter I got said that the show was not picked up for the next season, and that the fan club was disbanding as Joey was planning to work more on the production side than continue acting.

And now you know the short but sweet story of the Wildboy fan club.