Monday, December 31, 2012

Face your fear

So I went into Galactic Circus today, Melbourne's big arcade venue. My day started innocuously enough, and the above photo right there is a shot of the prizes. Looks normal, yes?

...Tragically, looks can be deceiving. Potentially even deadly.

Do you see it yet? LOOK CLOSER, LENNY.

ohfuckohfuckohfuckohfuck!!!! Is this the end of the year? ...Or the end of the world?

Monday, November 19, 2012

In transit

T.K.: This is it, guys! The next step of our amazing adventure! First, we're going to climb into this great big yellow bag, then we'll be taken to a great new land... this amazing world known as 'opp shop!'

Tugs: I give this yellow bag a thumbs-up.

Skye: You gave that dead puppy we walked past a thumbs-up.

Tugs: It is my gift. It is my curse.

Dracula Don: Well, make yourselves comfy - you may be here for a while. The waiting list is pretty backed up as it is.

Festive White Bear: Fresh meat...


Roaring Lizard: (is incapable of roaring. Strokes his nonexistent beard maliciously)

T.K.: ...This is the worst adventure since Terminator 3.

Tugs: I give this tragic turn of events a thum-


#0065: Koosh Lings

I find my lack of progress disturbing...

Gotta be honest, clearing away a minuscule toy once every thirty days is simply not going to cut it - and now that I've moved out of home, progress will be slowed even more, because I'm literally having to take toys to my new place in order to get rid of them. So when I'm going to such effort, I want to create more space than that which was left by a tiny finger puppet. What kind of entertainment system can I fit into that vacated area? A comically small one?

So basically, I'm going to ramp up my efforts, and create more multi-toy entries, a la the Cocky's Circle books. Which, in actuality, turned out to be one of my favourite entries. Might have had something to do with the constant references to fapping.

Here for your consideration, lie the Koosh's best chance at returning to relevance in the mid 90s - the Koosh Lings! If in case you've forgotten who they are (my last Koosh Ling article was written more than a year ago), they're effectively a group of fun-loving Kooshes who go on zany adventures. They're a tight-knit group, and as such, you must buy all of them. Otherwise you run the risk of completely alienating their circle of friends.

If this commercial featuring the Mowry twins didn't get you excited about owning a Koosh Ling, then I don't know what would. After all, as they so creepily state, Koosh Lings can make you feel good. Physically? Emotionally? Fiscally? I don't know. I guess they made me feel okay.

They also make a rather audacious statement that the enigmatic 'Cool Scenes' Koosh Lings (which I had never even heard of before) do the same stuff that we do. How many young children were jamming on guitars? If they really wanted to make Koosh Lings we could associate with, they'd have been eating cereals in long johns and watching Garfield.

The first fun fella at top left, his name is T.K.

It's never established what T.K. is short for, it was just cool in the 90s to be called by your initials, but I like to think his name was something stupid like Todd Krautz.

He's the leader of the group, and as such, he's brave, adventurous, compassionate and vanilla as fuck. He has an intense wide-eyed stare that borders on menacing, and his favourite colour is probably purple.

To his right is Skye, and like most women, her hair is really, really fun to play with. Whether it was based on factuality, or just a notion I came up with for no apparent reason, she seems to be the sporty tomboy. She can kick around a football with the best of them, she won't back down from a fight, and she digs Caster Semenya's style.

Front and centre is Teeter, and as evidenced by his untamed mane, great big grin, and simply scandalous lack of footwear, he's the crazy party animal. He probably would have been my favourite based on personality and appearance alone, but took second place to the almighty fiery hue of...

Tugs. Tugs was the best, because he was red. I know, it's starting to become redundant, but when you're an idiot kid, you pick favourites for idiotic reasons. Tragically, my collection of the original quartet was slightly incomplete, because as you may have noticed, Tugs is randomly riding a skateboard. No, he wasn't just different in an effort to be an attention-seeking prick, this just happened to be one of the spin-off series: I never could find the original Tugs.

As you can see, he's borderline safety-conscious: he's adorned with flamboyant elbow and knee-pads, but is defiantly absent a helmet. It's funny, actually, how the helmet is the most important protection, and yet the part most commonly missing from children's toys. Look at that big ol' smile, he's pretty fucking ecstatic to be without a helmet.

Once I completed my little motley crew, I think that was pretty much it for me. Despite their advertising scheme, they were much more fun and practical to play with individually. I took Teeter to the beach one day, that was excellent. I pretended Skye got turned into a frog during one adventure, that was quite epic. You put them all together, and you've simply got too many Kooshes for your mortal hands to handle, and in the end, the only recurring storyline becomes how they keep relying on Tugs as the designated driver, since he was the only one with a mode of transportation. He'd love to decline, but unfortunately, his hand is permanently moulded into an affirmative thumbs-up.

Afterwards, they just kept adding more and more friends, and more and more variations of the same characters. Completionists no doubt scrambled to collect such exciting things as a Koosh Ling engaging in gymnastics, but my interest began to waver, until finally, the Lings were toy chest fodder like so many other fads.

They may be forgotten curios from a bygone era, but they're not without their charm, I think. They'll go down as one of the good points of 1996. Good like Super Mario 64, Donkey Kong Country 3 and No Diggity by Blackstreet. Maybe someday soon I'll explore the bad things that happened in 1996. fact, here's a preview...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

#0064: Universal Studios Monsters Mike & Don

Tread softly, me lads, for it be the season of ghouls and specters! Where creatures go bump in the night, witches whizz by with a cackle and an odour, and Khloe Kardashian could be lurking behind any corner!

…I mean, ideally, that’d be the case (except that last one). In actuality, nobody really gives much of a toss about Halloween down here in Aus, so you’d be excused for forgetting it even existed. No eerie decorations. No pumpkin spice latte. No Garfield Halloween special, and that is truly the biggest misgiving of them all.

Regardless, I shall do my best to press on and embrace the Halloween spirit as ably as I can. We watched Jumanji last night, and I guess that’s kind of creepy, isn’t it? I have also unleashed the beast(s), and I now present to you my dear friends, Universal Studios Monsters Mike & Don.

One year removed from Universal Studios' 80th anniversary (so kind of an 81st anniversary celebration, if you’d like), these toys hit shelves in 1993, and were no doubt met with a degree of confusion. Modeled after classic monster movie stars, these Turtles figures featured Raphael with rotting flesh, Michaelangelo ironically brandishing the very torch that kills him, and GLOWING PARTS.

The first friend – or fiend? – we’ll take a look at is Mike as Frankenstein. Sort of. As kids, very few of us realized that Frankenstein was actually the man who made him, and it’s more or less become a cultural staple to dub the monster by the same name. I guess Frankenstein sounds more threatening than ‘Adam’ or ‘Bruce’ or ‘Mr. Bob Dobalina’.

Otherwise, Mike looks every bit the part: he’s got a vacant stare even in those little white lifeless eyes, he’s dotted with wee stitches and bolts, and my favourite aspect: You can outstretch his arms to look like he’s lumbering. That’s a nice little feature. I tried it with Don too, but it looks more like he wants to cuddle.

My main gripe with this series of figures is that they don’t particularly fit in, which I suppose is quite appropriate for Frankenstein’s monster. All of the other series of Turtles can be seen as interchangeable costume swaps of our four heroes: oh look, they’re going to the beach – they’re dressed for summer now. Oh shit, they’re in the army – so they’re all decked out in army fatigues. But where do these ones fit in? Oh my, they’ve traveled back to the 1930s – best to suddenly become various monsters. Rawwwwwwwwr motherufcker!

You could in theory substitute them as villains for other toys, but come on… who has the heart to bash the living shit out of the Turtles? Other than Shredder? I might be overthinking this. I don’t know if anyone has ever overthought the Ninja Turtles Universal monsters toys. Maybe I should be proud?

This here is Dracula Don. He’s probably my favourite, because he has sideburns, a ‘WTF’ expression on his face, and his spatterdashes remind me of Scrooge McDuck. Perhaps life is like a hurricane here in Donburg.

As should be expected in a toy representing Dracula, this one is quite dapper, and has a cape that I could almost swear is removable, because it really feels removable. I’ve learnt in the past though that removable sometimes translates to ‘broken off’, so I’ll refrain from undressing Don with anything other than my eyes.

My sister owns the Wolfman Leo figure, and I still have the Mummy Raphael, strangely making this one of the few series in which we own all four Turtles. If memory serves, the only other completed collections were the original set, and a few of the various iterations of the wee little miniature ones.

So what else is there to be said about these guys? Not much, I’m afraid. They’re really just minor oddities in a toy collection famously loaded with major oddities, the likes of which wouldn’t be reached again until Pokémon really hit its stride. Like I said, they look really nice, so that’s always a plus, but I don’t recall them ever getting much mileage. In fact, now that I think about it, not many of the various Turtles sets did get much playtime. Sure, I’d play with ‘em after we got them, but ultimately, I would just revert back to the classic set. It’s apparent just looking at those originals, with their missing accessories, chipped paint, and in some cases, a missing arm, that they certainly got around.

As for these fellas here, I lost their weapons (because that’s just what I do), but they’re otherwise in good nick. Be that as it may, I salute them for their efforts! It’s now reached 100 years of Universal Studios, and I sit back and wonder if we’ll ever again see a crossover of the two franchises?

Moneyball Leo? Blues Brothers Don? Bridesmaids Raph? Nanny McPhee Mike? I would totally buy any of those, for the record.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

#0063: Tick Tock, You're Dead!

Now that winter has finally passed here in the southern hemisphere, the weather has begun to turn, and the chilly dismal days are becoming warmer. As such, it is now a requirement that I give myself goosebumps.

This is (obviously) the second book in the series. The kid in the dapper button-up shirt dangling in terror from the clock face is us. The sinister grimacing maw is the enemy. The title represents the precarious flow of time which is to be the epicentre of our story. It probably also severely crippled sales of Arnott's Tic Toc biscuits for a short period of time. It could also potentially be a dire foretelling of the incredibly shitty premier of Kesha fourteen years later. You might think this concept ludicrous, until you delve deeper into the time travelling nature of this tale...

The setting is the Museum of Natural History. I'm on vacation with my family in New York City (kids reading this who actually live in NYC are left to assume this vacation was on a remarkably tight travelling budget), and frankly, it's shithouse.

I figured I'd be checking out the Statue of Liberty, kicking it on Broadway, and getting stabbed in Hotel Carter, but unfortunately, I've been dragged around museums the whole time. If this were an accurate recreation of the Museum of Natural History, I'd find myself accidentally heading towards the exit on multiple occasions, because the layout is frankly infuriating.

This is experience talking.

And worst of all, I'm left in charge of looking after my stupid little red-head brother, Denny. I guess the emphasis on his having red hair may later become a plot point, but for now, let's just assume it's supposed to make us hate him more.

The little fucker runs off, and bolts into a room with a sign that warns of dangerous experiments being conducted inside. The scientist, Dr. Peebles, assumes I'm the volunteer for his time travelling experiment. He doesn't ask why a prepubescent child is the guinea pig, he just wants results, dammit.

He gives me a magical stopwatch, and is about to make the final settings on the time travelling machine, but before he can finish, Denny charges into the device. I try and stop him, but he snarls that 'You're not the boss of me!', and in he goes. In all honesty, I didn't try very hard to stop him. I don't really care if he gets lost in time, hopefully he'll end up in the time when he's not a dick.

Maybe in the future he'll be somebody?

I've got two hours to save him. Two hours to travel through all time and space. Excellent. I like those odds.

I decide to head to the past, mostly so that if I find him, I can tell him that we have to go 'back to the future'. That'd be great. I step into the Chronoport, and then must choose whether to go into the time of knights and castles, or dinosaurs. In the end, I figure, I've already been to England, it's probably going to be pretty much the same, so let's check out some dinosaurs and shit.

No sooner do I arrive, when I'm confronted by a tyrannosaurus rex. Needless to say, that's horribly unlucky. After it decapitates a nearby dinosaur like Johnny Cage (it even puts on the sunglasses and crosses its arms defiantly), it begins to head my way. I run as fast as my little legs will carry me, when, in a swamp, I encounter an even more horrific monster - Denny.

Apparently he's stuck in quicksand. In the process of yanking him from the muck, the stopwatch that holds the key to returning to the present and not dying several million years before my birth, falls into the scuz.

We do a little bit of evasive manoeuvring (accompanied by Yakety Sax) and lose the t-rex, before heading back to search for the crucial timepiece. A volcano goes off, which is no biggie, because we're able to find it and jump in time.

Unfortunately, we're still in the era of dinosaurs. Crikey, weren't they only around for like, 30 years? Tops? Denny thinks 'no more o' this shit', snatches the stopwatch and skips ahead in time, meaning that I can't stick around and watch some eggs hatch. Which sucks, because I really wanted to pretend I was Richard Attenborough, and coo words of encouragement.

It seems that we've arrived in a futuristic city. Winged cars whiz through the sky, the buildings are made of shiny metal, and all around town, they're doing this new dance called the Charleston.

I'm keen to explore further, but I'm immediately arrested by an angry robot, which seems eerily reminiscent of encounters with customs at JFK. I guess I only travelled as far into the future as 2012?

The robot judge (in association with the robot devil) sentences me to either school or the zoo. I consider my options closely... what will my role in the zoo be, exactly? Will I be an exhibit, left before the leering eyes of all robot kind? Or will I be relegated to the role of zookeeper? Will the animals talk to me, like in the Kevin James movie of the same name? Will they show me the light? Will they advise I throw poop at them, because that always works?

Too many questions, too little time. I opt for school, because school is COOL.

In the classroom, the robotic teacher quizzes the human children with impossibly hard questions.

What is the capital of Ulan Bator?
What is 43,000,000 divided by 7.645328?
What is your favourite colour?

One by one, the students fail to correctly answer, and they're put into a metallic box called the frammilizer that seems to make them disappear. 'Frammilized', as the book so aptly puts.

When it's my turn, the teacher asks a question that fills me with bemusement. It's about an ancient wizard Morgred, who used three magical objects to travel in time. My heart sinks, just like it had when I was standing atop the Doom Slide. Another Goosebumps question? What the fuck, man! Has literature diminished so much in the future that R.L. Stine books are considered historically significant?

I stand there, tapping my foot and tilting my head slightly. Were they three white stones? Or a pin, a pipe, and a potato? The stones sounds less ludicrous, but shit, that'd be fun, wouldn't it? Travelling through time with the power of a potato? I guess, if I'm going to die anyway, it may as well be the result of having given the stupidest answer possible.

"A pin, a pipe, and a potato!" I blurt, puffing my chest proudly and shooting a fist to the air. There's a hushed whisper among the students around me, and the teacher considers my answer for a moment, whirring quietly. Either I was right, or I had said something so unorthodox that it took time to process. Or maybe the teacher was having a network error. That would be a winning scenario, too.

...Tragically, Morgred the wizard did not use three random objects that happened to be lying around the house to travel through time. I go down in history as having given, in technical terms, the worst fucking answer of all time. I shrug, strutting towards the lethal box and offering my hand for a high five with the other students as I pass by them. None of them take me up on it.

I climb into the frammilizer, and mysteriously tap my head a few times, as if to say 'I know something'. In the end, the gesture meant nothing, I was just trying to look clever. I die a horrible death of frammilization. On the plus side, my final words are both pensive and meaningful.

Final result: 21 pages.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

#0062: Big Ears

A new home brings many new experiences, and it's been pretty hectic so far. But I've finally found an opportunity to bring over a geriatric toy for your enjoyment. You know what they say; out with the old, and in with the nucleus!

This one is a little strange, I must admit. Here, we see Noddy's dear friend Big Ears. Big Ears is everything to Noddy: his teacher, his protector, his lover. The nights they spend together in that bed are pure magic. Then, they go about their day, teaching those cheeky Gollywogs a lesson.

But the issue I have with this particular offering of Big Ears is a pretty glaring omission... The fucker ain't got no ears, bro.

It would be like Tails having no tails. It'd be like Slippy Toad represented as some form of obtuse skeletal zebra. It'd be like Billy Joel playing Piano Man on the triangle, foregoing any solos to simply stare intently at the audience.

Christ, it's a bit of a major cock up in my book, and I've never quite forgiven the gnomish bastard for it. In the sake of verbal padding, however, we will attempt to put this shameful fault aside. After all, he at least can't hear all of the nasty things we say about him.

Big 'Ears' is able to stand freely of his own accord, putting him in roughly the 99th percentile of plushes. Unfortunately, other than posing him for voyeuristic photography (such as I'm doing right now), plushes don't really have a lot of need for being able to stand erect. In actuality, it makes me want to kick him in the face, simply because I can. He's like an Ike Broflovski of my very own, and punting him through a window would be such a delight. I'll refrain from fulfilling such fantasies for now, because I've only been renting this property for a week, and I don't think the landlord would like it. Next month, perhaps.

Big Ears features a lovely paint job on his face. He's got a little bit of blush on his cheeks and nose (because he's drunk), as well as a sly little smile. He's just happy to be here, isn't he? Happy to be 'ear', indeed...

...Occasionally, I discover something midway through making these posts, an earth-shattering revelation that makes me want to practically scrap the whole thing and start over again. However, I like the imagery of Billy Joel menacingly playing the triangle too much to bother, so I'll just be frank: I haven't read the Noddy books for approximately thirteen years, so my recollection of Big Ears' appearance is a little hazy.

A quick Google image search has just unveiled that Big Ears never wore such garb, leaving me to conclude that this isn't him at all. It is, in actuality...

A gnome doll.

My very first INAKA doll! How (mildly) exciting. Unfortunately, searching for 'gnome doll' yields more entries than grains of cocaine in the nostril of Charlie Sheen. So, until someone is able to enlighten me on who or what this gnome actually is (which has happened a few times so far), he will remain anonymous.

Really, I'll just be glad to get rid of him. He's been lying in my closet like a smiling corpse this week, and it's freaking creepy.

'Where's the Wii balance board? Is it in here...? Gahh!! Tiny little body!!'

I'm almost half expecting some kind of Child's Play horror, though at the very least, my grisly murder would at least be amusing to watch from afar. Because he's so cute and bearded, and he's got that million dollar smile. Who would ever expect him of being a gnomicidal maniac?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Movers 'n' Shakers

You'll have to pardon my lack of updates lately; I've recently moved out of home. What a terrifying, exhausting and expensive venture it has been, and I'm still in the process of settling in, running around frantically like a headless chicken, or a Blemmyes, if your knowledge of old European lore is up to snuff.

And through it all, my main concern is where exactly I'll be able to display my horrifying Chamberlain figure. Jess isn't too keen on the idea of brandishing him proudly at everyone who enters the abode. But I'm sure she'll come around.

...Wouldn't you?

Saturday, August 4, 2012


One-armed Raphael has made himself a fun new friend, and it would seem I'm not very good at this whole 'clearing out room' thing. I blame the wicked temptation of BubbaShelby.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

#0061: Taz in Escape from Mars

Back in my youth, I played a lot of video games. Shit, I still do, I just don’t brag about it in the schoolyard so much anymore (a court order tends to put a halt to such fun).

Because we were borderline rich, spoilt kids who shunned the outside world, my sister and I each had a television in our bedrooms, a little treat that I will selfishly not be paying forward to my own offspring. My parents did it out of love, but to this day, it has instilled within me this instinctive urge to retreat back to my room as some sort of lair, and frankly, I’m not enough of a virgin to get away with doing that anymore.

Coupled with those televisions was a console: for my sister, the Super Nintendo, and for me, the Sega Genesis. That’s right, folks, we had the early 90s console war waged right between children’s bedrooms. Maybe it’s part of the reason I have always had a soft spot for Sega. Sonic was my boy, my man, my confidant, he chilled with me, he went on adventures with me, and he’d run faster than fuck and leave me behind. Because he’s kind of a dick like that.

The Sega Genesis lives today in a state of retirement: it did not age nearly as well as the SNES, unfortunately. The cartridges are more temperamental and the god forsaken ancient DIN connector only plugs into one television; a television that I am forced to keep for the sole purpose of playing Sega. To its credit though, the controllers have fared much better than their Nintendo counterpart. We’re up to our fifth SNES pad, whereas we’re still operating with the original two we had for the Sega. Also, the six button controller is boss as fuck, even though I don’t recall ever playing a game that necessitated the extra three buttons.

It was only a matter of time before I opened up that little VHS/game cupboard, and plucked a Sega game from the snug comfort of darkness like a babe in the night, and today, wedged between Virtual Pinball and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, was Taz in Escape From Mars.

In the gaming sense, the Tasmanian Devil was the Looney Tunes’ golden boy. Whereas Bugs and Daffy didn’t have a definitive skill set other than cross-dressing and getting shot in the fucking face, respectively, we all knew what Taz did. We all loved what Taz did.

He span in circles, and he ate fucking everything. He was Chris Farley in cartoon form, and he was ready for action.

Never mind the fact that he neither looked nor operated much like an actual Tasmanian devil, and when he mutters out speech, it’s entirely devoid of any sort of Australian accent, he’s still one of the nation’s most recognizable celebrities. Because of his penchant for spinning rapidly, he is also one of our most enduring incorrect stereotypes. So let’s clear some things up… no, Tasmanian devils do not turn into miniature tornadoes. No, we do not ride kangaroos and throw boomerangs at our enemies. Yes, we all wrestle crocodiles. In fact, I’m wrestling one right now. Crikey!

The Taz renaissance kicked into gear during the 1990s (Wikipedia told me so), and it coincided comfortably with the rapid progression of gaming technology. After the NES had evolved our heroes into clear, defined sprites as opposed to ‘green blob’ and ‘ambiguously naked yellow man’, the SNES and Genesis ushered in a colour palette so robust, developers could really flex their muscles, and make the happy little trees they’d always yearned for.

Our game opens with Marvin the Martian taking a stroll through his Mars zoo. He makes the executive decision that his collection would really benefit from a Tasmanian devil, and proceeds to abduct our boy Taz. Taz seeks revenge as he busts up Marvin’s zoo, wrecks shit all the way to Mexico, and then invades Marvin’s house and blows his brains out like Joe Pesci in Goodfellas. (SPOILER ALERT. LOL)

So you start in a cage in the zoo. To your right is a cracked wall, the kind that Link would love to plant a bomb up against, but Taz prefers to simply spin… at… and make his escape. So really, Marvin’s downfall lied in lackluster construction, and that’s just too damned bad. Me personally, I liked to actually just jump up and down and play in the enclosure for a solid five minutes, because I’m pretty sure it was my only gaming opportunity to be a zoo animal. What fun.

The game is a lot of spinning about, bouncing off of walls, and making blind leaps of faith that could lead to your destination, or a speedy death, accompanied by a hilarious Taz ‘grah!’ and a mildly horrifying musical track that sounds like an instrument farting. There are a whole slew of maze-like environments to navigate about, and of course, famous Looney Tunes characters to throw down with. I distinctly recall frequently getting lost, because I was a mere six year old with only a passing knowledge of the layout of Mars, and I responded by eating everything I saw.

Because most excellently, the game features a lot of eating. Taz can eat almost anything, whether it’s a box of rocks, a birthday cake, or a bomb that then blows up in Taz’s stomach. So you’ll want to avoid the bomb for safety purposes, though I don’t know how healthy it is to eat some rocks or random baked goods, either.

Finally, I escaped from Mars, as the title so specifically requested, and ended up in Moleworld. …Oh god, Moleworld…

In the second level of Moleworld, you’re being pursued by an enormous, terrifying digging machine, and you have to press onward to the end as quickly as possible (an exit sign that Taz also decides to eat), or else you’ll be brutally murdered. Yep, there’s no two ways about it, this kooky little cartoon character will be ripped to pieces by the cruel mole people. It’s simply horrifying, and to be honest, I never did pass that stage. I never got to see Planet X or the haunted mansion, and just like Thelma and Louise, I never made it to Mexico. That’s all, folks! I’m fucking dead.

If that’s too heavy for you, at least you can watch the little Taz icon in the bottom left corner. It’s the entirely superfluous indicator of how many lives you have left, and it is simply marvelous. It grins, it peers, it throws little tantrums, I wish it was in every game!

Overall, the game is your standard fare for platformers of its day, but it has enough little extras to keep it fresh. Hopefully, someone will see it next time they stop by Gametraders, and this eighteen-year-old relic will liven up their day. …Assuming they have a North American Sega Genesis, which may be wishful thinking.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Toy Flashback: Twins

"Has anyone ever told you we look alike?"

#0060: The Talented Mr. Cluck

Yet another puppet, eh?? At this point, you might start pondering exactly how many of the suckers I've got lying around the joint (both the finger variety and those for the mighty fist), but I swear, it's not that many. I could almost promise this as being the last. Almost, but not quite, because there are probably more I've forgotten about. A veritable puppet potpourri!

Tonight, at 11.30, alone in my room, I attempt to analyse the Talented Mr. Cluck. Not his given name, I assure you, but such is the fun of shirty finger puppets (typed shitty, but iPhone suggested otherwise. On closer inspection, I suppose he is rather shirty): you can name them whatever you please. Today, he's 'the Talented Mr. Cluck', tomorrow, he's 'Commodore Buttons', next week, he's 'Dom DeLuise'.

To put it kindly, he's not exactly easy on the eyes. His plastic yellow head looks like a leftover skull from a toy factory shut down in the 1940s, Frankensteined onto a most displeasing orange fabric. Slap on some vaguely hand-like white bits, and a green flower design as the piece de resistance, and voila! We have nobody's favorite finger puppet.

His only purpose in this life is to boogie on up and down, and sing whatever tune his finger master chooses. He's kind of like the flowers in the windowsill of Pee-Wee's Playhouse, except not really at all and good lord that comparison was hard to make.

In closing, it's a really, really good thing I'm not getting paid for this blog, because when my yearly review came up, it's posts like this that would draw the boss' ire. Not often failure correlates directly with finger puppets. In an attempt to salvage some semblance of credibility, I leave you now with the greatest video known to man, woman, or finger puppet.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

#0059: Tweety Bird Airplane

In the inimitable words of the pilot of Star Fox 64’s Meteo Crusher, ‘I admit defeat.’

For today, we encounter a rare beast; a toy so dreadfully obscure and confounding, thorough Googling yields no answers. I have hopes (or fears) that soon after making this post, someone will cite their wisdom, share their story, and solve this mystery with the panache of Tin-Tin, but me personally, I got nothing. I didn’t even have an appropriate way of associating this thing into my playtime session due to it’s nature: ‘Oh look, Raph, here comes an airplane with a small bird on it – Cowabunga!’

So what do I have? I have, for lack of a better term, the Tweety Bird Airplane.

And it is exactly as advertised: a blue airplane toy with Tweety perched on the hood. And sure, that would be perfectly reasonable, except for one sinister question: Who in the flying fuck (pun only 12% intended) is sitting in the cockpit?

I’m neither a historian nor a Rainman of Looney Tunes lore, and this guy here, he is entirely unfamiliar to me. With his untamed red mane and square-rimmed glasses, he looks to all the world like an adult Chuckie Finster.

…But wait, what is this? A quick inspection of the young man’s buttocks yields a clue: copyright details I originally thought missing! So it would appear as though this was a Burger King toy from 1990… Wow, was I going to Burger King in the year 1990? Or was my dad just a big fan of kid’s meals?

Now armed with this crucial nugget of knowledge, my Google search shifts from searches about ‘Looney Tunes character red hair’ and getting 1,000 different results of fucking Gossamer, and focusing instead on ‘Burger King 90s mascot’.


So this is the Burger King Kids Club Gang, a group of culturally diverse and politically correct friends who, if my recollection of 90s children’s advertising serves, are fit, active, healthy, promote safe sex and, coincidentally, eat every single meal at Burger King.

The Wikipedia article for the Gang is pretty thorough; it describes at length each member’s personality, as well as their ethnicity, for some reason. I mean, how exactly is that relevant? Do Jaws and Lingo have to sit at the back of the BK bus?

This particular ‘male Caucasian nerd with ginger hair and freckles’ is known as I.Q., and I can’t imagine him as having been anyone’s favourite. He’s the archetypical nerd, and if there had been a cartoon, he would probably ‘do machines’, or some shit like that.

He actually reminds me a fair bit of Arnold from the Magic School Bus, who in turn had a corresponding redheaded equivalent in Wheeler from Captain Planet, so perhaps this is the awkward middle phase, transitioning from wussy Jewish boy to environmentally-conscious heartthrob?

Gracious. What a thinker. Now that that riddle has been un-riddled, the only question I’m left with is, shit, why is I.Q. trying to kill Tweety Bird?

Personally, I can relate; I was a big Sylvester fan as a kid, so I’d revel in any opportunity to see Tweety squashed between a large piece of chalk, and what appears to be the Bible, but isn’t it a strange marketing ploy to represent one of BK’s mascots as a malicious villain? I don’t think there’s much room for interpretation here. You could claim that he is just really enjoying his flight, and is making a grandiose scientific declaration, or singing ‘Pure Imagination’ from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but you’d be stretching more than Mr. Fantastic himself.

Otherwise, the toy is bog standard. Its propeller spins, which is marvelous, and the wheels operate in order to make your dreams of I.Q. taking off and touching down complete, and I.Q. himself is removable, but is tragically a single plastic cast. So he can hobble around in his uncomfortable seated position like someone with really bad hemorrhoids, but little beyond that.

Me personally, I’m just chuffed as chips that I was able to unravel the origins of yet another stupid toy from the Bush administration. Could its ‘HTF’ nature render it invaluable? Frankly, I don’t care. I just know I won’t be missing it much after this.

Because fucking hell, I wish I had gotten Kid Vid instead. He was awesome.

PS: If you're hungry for more info on that crazy Gang like they hunger for burgers, take a squiz at this entry from Diary of a Dorkette: it's much more factually accurate, and not laden with swearing, unlike the blog of another fucker who shall remain nameless.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

#0058: April O'Neil

You know how you have toys that you never played with? They’re funny old things, really, and they all made their way into your possession through various different means: perhaps it was a well-intended but misguided gift one misty Christmas morn?

“Oh, neat! Thanks nana, I love Bratz…”

Or you might have been the unfortunate victim of a poorly selected ‘lucky dip’ pick, one of my favourite marketing ploys that potentially forces you to buy multiples of the same toy until you find the right one. My dear buddy ULM is a great example of this: you’d have to dissolve his packaging in order to reveal his visage, and I can’t particularly see myself as having been exactly chipper about unveiling the mighty White Washer.

“Eww, what is that? Can we put it back in the bag?”

Oftentimes, at least in my childhood, my robust collection is filled to the brim with lots of padding; that is to say, toys that I owned purely to round out the roster. It’s a guilty admission, no doubt, because whereas some kids had no toys at all, I had toys purely for the sake of fleshing out my lore. And even then, it’s not like I adhered to the framework set out before me: the Ninja Turtles’ most frequent ally was actually Simba, and he could fly upon command, and take out entire armies on a whim. Plus, he’s working on his roar.

What, then, could April O’Neil offer to my playtime experiences? A strong, independent female figure? An alternative to rescues always being orchestrated by Raphael (or James on odd days?) More yellow than Dick Tracy?

Well, in actuality, all she offered was the yellow. Because frankly, bitch looked like an uppity banana.

I never picked up on the gender inequality in my beloved Turtles as a kid, but it was most certainly there: every important character other than April was a guy, and he was cool/funny/badass/Krang. In April, we had the Turtles’ link to the outside world: the human ally, who is able to give them all the dirt on who’s committing what crimes, and how she will scope it out and inevitably end up being captured by said criminals.

She was often typecast as the damsel in distress; a token dangling in front of the Turtles (ironically much like a banana), that would force our boys into action. In my opinion, they didn’t necessarily have to use April in this role: they could have really given her a lot more depth as a character by having those useless drones Irma and Vernon getting snatched up more often.

There was always this sexual tension between the Turtles and April as well, which seemed mildly perverse. Had Vern been the one getting saved all the time, would that still be the case? …I mean would they still have had the hots for April. Not Vern. Though the world could have used more gay superheroes. Northstar got married to his partner yesterday, did you know that? TOPICAL.

From my original recollection, April’s accessories were all of her appropriate tools of the trade: a microphone and video camera that literally condemn her to a more appropriate role on the sidelines, a suitcase that has since worked its way into the possession of other figures (I liked to pretend Scrooge McDuck was going to work), and yeah sure, a ninja star, to help her appear slightly competent, though in practice it would more likely remind me of that scene in TMNT2 where she’s pretending she knows how to use Mikey’s nunchaku.

She also features a handgun. …Wait, what?

Remember how I was shocked about how Ace Duck was packaged with a pistol? Apparently, this was more commonplace than I had realised, because that innocuous-seeming briefcase apparently transformed into a gun, and I never even realised it. It’s not like it’s especially hard to deduct: there’s even a picture of April on the packaging unloading a round into another April who’s innocently attempting to conduct an interview.

I mean, wow. This throws my whole perception of April into jeopardy. In the cartoon, she’s just this stupid reporter with horrible fashion sense. But here, in toy form, she’s this stupid reporter with horrible fashion sense who will fucking kill you. This is more than a little intense, but in all fairness, she was walking the mean streets of New York in the 80s, so when you think about it, it’s actually quite reasonable.

And all the while, she just has this disinterested expression on her face, and the vaguest hint of a smile. It’s mildly akin to being shot in the face by the Mona Lisa.

…Holy shit, this also means that Scrooge McDuck brought a gun to work with him every day. My childhood is ruined.

Moving on as best as we possibly can, April sports a monster wedgie, and just like the aforementioned Ace Duck, she also has the Turtles logo on her back. I’m sure that this is to help remind kids that this toy is actually in some way related to our Turtles, but it seems a mite bit silly, considering that April was supposedly trying to keep their identity a secret when this toy was made. I mean, later on, she was all for telling the world about the Turtles, trying to talk up how good they are, how hard they work for New York, how they’re voiced by Rob Paulsen and Townsend Coleman, all the nice stuff about them.

One thing I never fathomed, was that apparently a large number of kids had a crush on April O’Neil. This much is confessed on multiple blogs and websites, and more illustrations than you could shake a bo staff at. Me personally, I had none of that fascination. Indeed, I was entirely indifferent to April, despite her exaggerated breasts and skin-tight jumpsuit. Was I different from other kids? Or was it just less fun to ogle her than to attempt to attack her in Turtles in Time when, like Julius Caesar or Wallace Wells, she urged you to ‘FIGHT’?

She was invincible, actually, which makes me assume she would have been much better suited to fight Shredder. Plus, she’s packing heat, and apparently capable of following you through your time travels with the sole intention of barking orders at you. Damn, April is much deeper than we thought. More than just a booty call, eh?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Words... I have no words...

There are some days in life when you think you have everything figured out. That the world is normal, and makes perfect sense.

And there are other days, when you find your Steve Urkel colouring book. I'll say no more. Just sit back and be privy to the best opportunity I ever had as a child to use my brown crayon.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

#0057: N64 Gamer/Nintendo Gamer

For many years, I have always enjoyed a good magazine. You can’t beat today’s Internet for immediate, live content; always updating and expanding. But there’s still that great, real feeling about holding a magazine in your hands. Particularly back in the days before said Internet, where magazines were our major source of information on particular subjects.

Back in the mid-90s, my mag of choice was Nickelodeon Magazine. Then, it shifted to focus on various video game magazines. Next, it was all about pro wrestling magazines. Then, American football-based magazines. And now, it’s Sports Illustrated, almost exclusively. You can see the very progression I made towards manhood over the years. I’m pretty sure the exact day could be pinpointed to a particularly racy Stacy Keibler cover.

Obviously, jumping continents required my preferred reading material to shift (which is why it’s such a bitch that you can scarcely find Sports Illustrated anywhere here), so it wasn’t until about 1998 that I found the magazine that I would collect most prolifically. That particular magazine was Australian-made N64 Gamer, and later, Nintendo Gamer.

I’m not sure how much I can elaborate on the observational literature of others, but golly, I had a grand old run with these things. In this particular stack here, I have thirty-one editions. That’s a little bit under three years’ worth of publications, spanning almost the entire lifespan of the magazine (March ’98 to June ’01).

I was majorly bummed when I discovered that Nintendo Gamer was going out of print; it had been my #1 source of information for upcoming games, and I would over-analyse each and every picture to try and figure out what to expect. Who was this strange baboon-looking fellow in the upcoming Donkey Kong 64 game? What was going to happen in this next Pokémon title: a fully-fledged console RPG experience? Why was Mario playing tennis, and why was I so damned excited?!

One of the things I love most, looking back on these things, is that most of the screenshots from the old Nintendo 64 games are supremely ugly. Nowadays, each image leaked to the public is so incredibly detailed, so high resolution and lovingly crafted, and people will still go absolutely apeshit over things they don’t like. It's as if they feel personally offended when graphics fail to live up to their expectations.

But here, it’s all just out there in its dreadful, 64-bit glory. It’s like a really hideous nudist; it’s out there, and it’s proud of how it looks, but good lord, do yourself a favour and look away!

Retrospectively, I also enjoy observing how poorly edited early editions were; making frequent spelling errors, and oftentimes reporting completely fabricated data as fact. You might think I'm exaggerating, but they constantly took random images from unreleased games, made some sort of sweeping statement about what was happening, and printed it in the captions. Nobody ever really noticed or cared, because by the time that game had been released, it was several issues later. But it's amusing to spot now. I don't make false statements myself, but I figure that with my position as king of Tunisia, I would probably get in more trouble if I did.

There isn’t really much more that I feel I can say about these magazines, so I leave you now with some particularly pleasing scans…

Some of the captions were top-notch.

Remember when Luigi's Mansion looked revolutionary?

Don't blame me. I voted for Bulbasaur.

Do you remember where you were when you discovered the Wario Stadium shortcut?

What is quite simply the most spectacular piece of fan-art ever: Mario smashing a PlayStation with what appears to be a gigantic turd. Momma must be so proud.