Archive for July, 2009

Brick Kicks #1

Everybody owns or has owned Legos at some point in their life. Everybody knows what they are and how they work. For some of us, they were more an integral part of our childhood than others. For those of us who graduated from Lego builder to Lego “modeler” (or aspired to the later), there was the Lego Builders Club. I somehow got my self on the initial mailing list for this club, which started sometime around 1987. (It may have been because I once wrote them a letter asking about Legoland in Denmark, which they responded to by mailing me a booklet with lots of photos of the park. I’ll save that for a future entry). Among the first things they sent me for being a members of this club was this Premier Issue of Brick Kicks magazine. It’s only eight pages long, but a lot of great pictures of giant Lego models and a brief history of Legos. It also came with a sheet of lego graph paper (with each grid space the size of a standard 1×2 brick). To my surpise the Lego magazine STILL EXISTS, although it is now called BrickMaster. Kudos also to the folks at Lego for putting all these old Brick Kicks (and Lego Mania) magazines on their website in digital form, including this one.

Heavy Metal Posters Cover

1985. When the hardest thing a hard group of guys could do to look hard was raid their mom’s cosmetic drawer. Add to that sixty odd pages and ten giant, color fold outs of bare chested guys in torn up clothes, pressing their sweaty bodies against one another and you have an issue of Heavy Metal Posters Magazine. Judging by the date of this issue, it was back in September of 1985 during a trip to the local grocery store that I went momentarily insane, grabbed this monument to metal of the shelf, and bought it. Turns out it actually wasn’t a bad deal. Even in 80s bucks, three dollars for ten posters wasn’t bad, despite the one catch that they were actually five double sided posters, so you were forced to choose which metal god you like better if you ever planned to hang them up, which I didn’t. In addition to all that, there was also a whole magazine to read which included interviews and the like with all the big mainstream metal icons of the day.

Heavy Metal Posters, page 1

From the pictures you might imagine that I perused the pages of this magazine several times, totally enthralled with tales told from the mouths of my favorite musical icons, wonder what it might be like to even go to one of their show, let alone meet them in person, or perhaps hang out with them on the tour bus, or behind the school (this was the 80s, behind the school was still a viable hangout). You would be wrong. In fact, it took me several years to even look through the “words” part of this periodical and realize the goldmine of content I had been sitting on. Similarly, the posters were never hung (although I did take them out and look at them a lot). I still have all the included posters, and they are in much better condition than the magazine itself.

This was apparently a very popular publication in its day, this being Volume 30, No. 4, but I have never seen any other issue in my life.


STS-3 was the third space shuttle mission. Although the permit has “Feb” written on it, the actual launch day was March 22, 1982. This permit allowed the vehicle and all its passengers to enter the viewing area to watch the shuttle Columbia lift-off from Kennedy Space Center. The front is a bright florescent green, while the back is a plain white with a basic maps to the location, plus instructions.


A few points of historical interest about STS-3, it was the first and only shuttle flight to land at White Sands Missile Range (due to excessive flooded at Edwards Air Force Base, the original landing site). The flight was dedicate by then president Ronald Reagan “to the people of Afghanistan”.

As of this posting there have been 127 shuttle launches with another 7 planned launches through 2010, after which the shuttle program will go into mandatory retirement. It is to be succeeded by Project Constellation. A 17 minute video of the STS-3 mission, narrated by the astronauts can be found on the National Space Society’s website here.

Paperclip Sculpture

I discovered these little creatures in a box labeled “Shoes”. They are, though they were not originally intended to be, paperclip sculptures. Creating art from paperclips is a fairly common practice among anyone has had both an amount of time involving something tediously boring, and ready access to office supplies. Like pistachios, once you start in on them you often can’t stop. Also like pistachios, they leave an awful mess once the aforementioned tedium has ended since most people simply discard them when they are done. Occasionally one or two will actually come out well and someone will take it home with them, or to wherever it is they take sculptures, possibly a very tiny garden, and keep it for a few days until they feel the need to rid themselves of “clutter” and then it is discarded. Somehow these two escaped all those clutter-ridding attempts. The one on the left I call “Penguin”. It had an unfortunate mishap with a candle many years back and is now encased in wax. I don’t know what the was the one of the right is called, but I figured since they were together they must know each other, so I left him alone.

AD&D 2nd Edition Preview

Touted as the “most eagerly awaited event in roleplaying history” (or at least of the spring of 1989), the release of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition was like paying $60 to have your car replaced with a hot air balloon. That is to say if the first edition was a high-performance machine with lots of features and options, 2nd edition was a wicker basket, a tarp and some fire, but the view was better and somehow you liked it. Knowing that such a abrupt change in rules could come as a shock to players, TSR released this free preview catalog that outlined all the majors changes several months in advance so people would have some time to accept and adjust to a new system they would ultimately have to adopt regardless, if they wished to continue playing the game at all. The 31 page explanation starts by buttering up the audience with the announcement of the removal a seldom understood and more seldom used ability of comeliness. I don’t believe there exists a gamer who could honestly admit with a straight face that they wish this ability had not been removed. Then, once they had you lulled into this state of appeasement, they hit you with the complete deletion of not one, but FIVE of your favorite character classes. Suddenly your lips began to quiver as you contemplated the fate of Fyngyn “Fingers” the Silentfooted, your 12th level dual-classed Monk Assassin, at the hands of these preposterous “new rules”, but upon further reading it was clear that everything would be just fine. Three pages worth of just fine. They then hit you with this new system called THAC0, which was the simplification of five different combat tables into one simple to understand system that could be used for all combat situations. Ironically, THAC0 itself would later be deemed too confusing to players and be revised again into an even simpler system in 2000, with the release of 3rd Edition. They also removed all demons and devils from their vast catalog of monsters so parents of troubled teens would no longer mistake their child’s constant desire to hang out with friends in the basement, eating pizza and drinking soda, pretending to be elves and gnomes and the like, until the wee hours of the morning, with Satan worship.

All that aside, the 2nd Edition rules preview is a scarce little gem representing the precursor of a great storm, like forgotten calm… in book form.


Let’s get right to the point. These are doll eyes on a stick. They’re the kind of creepy doll eyes that get stuck in the head of a doll that goes to sleep when you lay it down, and wakes up when you pick it up. As long as the doll is upright, the eyes are open, staring straight ahead, emotionless, at whatever you put in front of it. As creepy as dolls are, these eyes are ten times creepier on a stick, and a hundred times creepier in a bowl, mixed half and half with jelly beans or maybe gobstoppers. I keep these eyes in box where I can’t see them, a box that I rarely ever go into for anything. I keep them out of sight and out of mind because I don’t really care to be awoken by night terrors in which the evil cactus-lord summons his minions to rise from the deserts and seek out all mortals, injecting them with their death-drenched needles, converting the unfortunate into blood-drinking zombi-cacti, while the others run screaming into the ocean where they slowly become exhausted and drown, and I am the sea.
What I’m saying is if you ever have a friend that works in a doll factory, and he invites you to a come to his Halloween party where they plan to drill holes in the top of vinyl baby doll heads, then plug their necks with 35mm film canisters, then fill them with alcohol, stick a straw in them and drink out of them… don’t.

Transformers Lazer Blazers

One of those sexually ambiguous fads that spread through the early 80s like a rash caused by something you stepped on outside the arcade and then promptly disappeared in totality leaving everyone involved to think “Did that really happen?” was sticker collecting. As evidenced by the photo above, this fad really did happen, and infected even the healthiest among us. Lazer Blazers were late comers to the sticker scene, but were one of the first holographic sticker sets available, making them an instant hit. They came in packs of four, and were a who’s who of everything kids thought were cool in 1984. The only pack I own is the Transformers, featuring Megatron in all his full-frontal glory. Other characters lucky enough to have their likeness represented in foily 3D were the A-Team, Gremlins, Michael Jackson and My Little Pony. This pack is opened, but none of the stickers were ever removed or stuck.

1981 Avalon Hill Games Catalog

This 20 page catalog is all that remains of an old copy of the game Feudal that my parents owned, and that I tried in vain to teach myself to play in a one-player fashion while still far too young for the real rules to make any sense. In some ways it is more interesting today than the game ever was. It is dated Nov. 1, 1981 and includes a complete listing of all games available at the time as well as prices for individual component of each game, should you need to replace them. Avalon Hill was one of the premier providers of wargames and strategy games for decades until it was absorbed into Hasbro in 1998. Today it exists as a subsidiary of Wizards of the Coast where they continue to publish a handful of the most successful games from the over 300 titles it once owned.

The catalog is broken into sections by genre, including Fantasy/Science Fiction, Strategy/Wargames, Leisure Time/Family Games, Sports Games, and finally “Microcomputer Games”. This last section, something Avalon Hill had only started offering just the year before, features some very early computer games available on both 5 1/4″ disk or cassette tape, complete with system requirements table (anywhere from 16K to 48K of memory) and was reserved for “those elite owners of home computers”.

Avalon Hill Microcomputing Games Table

Beyond this there was also a Miscellaneous section where you could order hex paper, dice and other such requisite gaming paraphernalia, a Magazines section which really just included the one Magazine they published, called The General, and a Discontinued Parts list, a list of parts still available for games that were no longer in print.

I have provided the entire catalog in pdf format below. Try not to cry while reading it.

1981 Avalon Hill Games Catalog (pdf)

Movie Tix

With roughly 200 ticket stubs and counting, this hand-torn theatrical retrospective could have a blog of its own. While the historical significance of this collection may never merit an invitation for exhibition in the Smithsonian, it is at very least a catalog of the effects of inflation on the movie theater industry over the last twenty years.

The collection starts on June 28th, 1989 with a showing of Batman for the very comfortable price of $4.00, and progresses at a average rate of about one movie a month all the way to the present day, capping out with the recent release of Coraline 3D at a whopping $14.25. That’s a 256% increase from 1989 to 2009.

Movie Tix

The collection chronicles most of the major movie events you would expect: the rerelease of the Star Wars trilogy, Lord of the Rings, the explosion in comic book related movies post Marvel curse, nearly all of the big budget summer blockbusters (and their subsequently terrible sequels), ground-breaking independent films, and Star Trek movies ad infinitum. It also contains some cringe worthy gems such as the stub for Anaconda which featured Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube bopping his head to his own music, and a really big CG snake. As you can see I paid $1.50 to see this movie and I really shouldn’t have. While this collection is by far the largest of its kind I’ve ever seen, it still feels woefully incomplete. Several of my favorite movies I saw at private showings, on-campus events or at artsy theaters that did not hand out tickets, and so are not represented here. It should also be pointed out that this is the second such collection I’ve started after the first, which spanned from Return of the Jedi in 1984 to the beginning of this one in 1989, disappeared under unknown circumstances.