Archive for June, 2009

destro

GI Joe figures blew away most other action figures of the time with their swivel arm action, kung-fu grip, and myriad other points of articulation, however they utterly failed in one feature absolutely key in any pretend battle: the ability to stay together. While the characters in other worlds could be hit by heavy injection-molded artillery, thrown several yards, run over, drowned and eaten by a Grue and STILL manage to get to their escape pod and pilot a getaway through an asteroid field, all it took was one misadventure at the chiropractor for GI Joe and it was game over. This held equally true for members of Cobra. Laird James McCullen Destro XXIV was one of several who met such an untimely, unfortunate end. The cause could be traced directly to his large intestine, or rather to the black rubber band that held the two halves of all GI Joe figures together. This band was very prone to breaking either due to age or excessive twisting, and once broken could not be easily repaired. Thus most broken figures stayed broken, but Destro being the lovable guy that he is I just couldn’t bring myself to throw him out. This top half has been kicking around in a cupboard full of junk and tools for who knows how long. I’m sure his legs are around here somewhere.

breakdancing

The book Break Dancing Step-By-Step Instructions by Jim Sullivan and Lori Calicott is a monstrous 64-page, over-sized, magazine style symbol of why America was so great in the 1980s. At the risk of turning this into a book review blog, this is possibly the best breakdancing instructional book I have ever read. I’ll tell you why:

First, it is the ONLY breakdancing instructional book I have ever read. This should not be taken as mere witty commentary, but as evidence that no further education on the subject is required beyond this single manual. Second, every page, indeed every two pages, portrays an enlarged, two page still photo of genuine urban 80s kids engaged in the art of breakdancing. Some are taken from great movies of the day like Breakin’ and Beat Street, but the majority are not. As an added bonus each photo also exposes us to the fantastic fashion that accompanied this subculture in all its hilarity. Third, the book takes the responsible initiative to warn us on page one of the dangers of breakdancing, lest we try to double back-flip off a car hood onto linoleum padded asphalt without an instructor present and hurt ourselves.

breakdancing_warning

No serious urban street dancer should be without this.

rock

We have here a candid audio snapshot of FM radio circa 1984, informatively title “Rock”. One of my oldest mix tapes, it predates Grunge, the Nintendo Entertainment System, and apparently even glue (notice how the tape is held together using five small metal screws). It was recorded directly from radio, one song at a time, and contains all the personality you might expect of such a tape: songs missing the first few seconds, songs interrupted by DJs, commercials and station IDs, and songs hastily recorded over other songs in the naive hope that they might magically line up at the other end.

I would have loved to post a complete playlist of this 60 minute archeological artifact, but I no longer own a cassette player. I haven’t for several years.

morbius

Morbius is one of those pesky Marvel characters that invades the story lines of otherwise respectable titles in order for Marvel to maintain their copyright. He first appeared for a short time in the mid 70s and then promptly vanished from existence for nearly two decades. Then for some reason, in 1992, they decided to revive the already “Living Vampire” and give him his own series. To promote this return of a character 90% of their audience had never heard of, they distributed these plastic fangs to comics stores who then passed them out for free to their customers. I got my pair, but of course never opened them. (They’re worth more sealed).

I’m not really sure why Marvel thought handing these out would lead to sales, but this was the early 90s, the comics industry was in free fall, and there was no limit to the kind of wacky tricks they were willing to try to turn their numbers around. In an era of issue #0′s, multi-variant gatefold covers, and polybags, this little item was barely even visible on the hype radar.

The Morbius series lasted a full three years, ending in 1995. Since then he has had numerous cameo appearances. I’ve never read any of them.

Rebel Transport Assembly Instructions
As with most children of my era, Star Wars toys made up a disproportionately large percentage of my personal toy empire, second only to maybe Lego. At its peak I had well over a hundred figures, at least a dozen major vehicles, and countless other accessories. Although I never threw any of these treasured possessions out, their numbers have dwindled from year to year…a mysterious phenomenon which itself has never been given the sort of serious attention and study by the scientific community it deserves, since I feel that I am not the only one to have experienced this, but I digress. Of the few that remain none are more peculiar than my Rebel Transport Assembly Instructions.

This six page, 8.5″ x 11″ tri-fold instruction manual explains, mostly via illustration, all the important things one needs to know before embarking on a journey across the galaxy or, as alluded to on the cover of the manual, engaging in a dogfight with TIE Fighters. Among the things included are Floor and Turret Assembly (for adults only), how easy it will be for any prisoners you capture to escape, and how to put a gas mask on Princess Leia.

We are also reassured on page one how much the people at Kenner (now part of Hasbro) “Really Do Care” and to show how much they care they include a form which you can cut out and mail to them (third class?) for replacement of broken or missing parts. This used to work, I know because I did it once, but I’m not sure I’d try it today.

Rebel Transport Assembly Instructions (pdf)