Thursday, March 29, 2012

#0051: Adam Maitland

There are a lot of directions I could have gone in, following the lavish display that was the Ripster puppet. Before me sat (and still sits, actually. I haven't stood in about forty minutes) an extensive selection of toys that I felt could be appropriate options for tonight's entry.

In the end, I chose to opt for a toy from a beloved movie from my childhood. I went with a Beetlejuice figure. In retrospect, it probably shouldn't have been a movie from my childhood; with Beetlejuice's frequent perverse behavior and crass language, it wasn't really one for the kiddies. But I watched it as a wee tyke, and I loved it all the same. I'm sure many folks my age would attest to the same. I guess we just didn't notice the lewd content at the time? It was pretty well disguised, after all.

Above all else, I went with the Adam Maitland toy because this is a toy version of Alec Baldwin. I mean, how freaking cool is that? I have toy versions of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Michael Jordan, but the fact that I have in my possession what amounts to an Alec Baldwin action figure is just something worth celebrating. I'd shout it from the mountains, but there are not currently any available to me. There's a hill that teenagers like to drink at, though. Maybe I'll take my Beetlejuice toy there.

So what do we have here with the dashing young Mr. Maitland? We have a curious toy, to be sure, and I'm saying this for reasons beyond the obvious notion that his head is prone to coming off, sliding down his shoulder, and disappearing into the garage for roughly twenty years.

It's odd, because he's wearing a random red cap with a really long brim. Good gracious, it upsets me so, because I don't remember this hat featuring in the film at any point. Structurally, I assume it's there to support the mask accessory the toy originally came with, a long-nosed face that Adam is able to contort into. But canonically, it's a silly red cap! To blazes with it!

The toy is fairly unspectacular. Beyond the garish checkered shirt, there isn't a lot to look at. For one thing, Adam appears to have just come from a clearance sale on khaki clothing, sporting a belt, pants, shoes and even shoelaces of the one monotonous colour scheme.

Granted, the toy is from 1989, and I have significant doubts that the people at Kenner held any concerns that, twenty-three years later, some random ass-hat would lambast them for their lacking palette.

Adam's major function is of course the detachable head, which slides off his shoulders and whizzes across his right arm via an obtuse slot. Unfortunately, his hand is 'un-slotted', which means you can only ever get his head down to his forearm, a definite party trick faux pas. If you're gonna jettison your head, bro, you gotta hold it in-palm for the ultimate crowd pleaser. None of this queer arm-based noggin peering at bemused onlookers. Then it just seems silly.

Unfortunately, I lost the mask and 'Creepy Crawler' that Adam came with so long ago, I didn't even know they existed until an Adam showed up on Amazon (henceforth Adamzon). So all my Adam has going for him is his zany head and shitty fashion sense.

Also noteworthy, Adam is one of thousands of toys that have small holes in the soles of his feet. This, as you might have noticed, is a consistent feature with action figures of all shapes and sizes. I always just assume they're there for slotting the toy onto pegs for a vehicle or playset, but in this case, it seems quite odd. I tried to seek out a definitive answer on Google, but I just got unrelated articles predominantly on pet care, including 'how to prepare for your pet octopus'. So I'm no closer to solving this mystery, but at least when that octopus arrives, I will be ready for it.

We own a few different Beetlejuice toys, and this one was clearly the most expendable. Really, without the familiarly-shaped mask accessory, it's not that clear that this toy is even related to Beetlejuice. It's all about the titular antagonist, and you'd best believe I'm not getting rid of those ones any time soon.

The more I dwell on it, however, the more I would have preferred a Victor Maitland toy. With his sinister sneer and gaggle of thugs, he'd be an awesome toy to own. Plus, I like to think he'd pull out all the stops, remove his head and hold it in his hands properly, perhaps even juggle it in front of the impressed crowd at the country club. ...That would be a neat trick!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Toy Flashback: The Unfortunate Fate of Hulk

Incredibly delicious.

#0050: Ripster Puppet

Welcome, minions, to a momentous day in the echelons of INAKA. We’ve seen some cool toys, we’ve seen some shit toys, and we’ve seen some toys that defy imagination. And today, we hit the big five zero. In actuality, I don’t really see 50 as being a particularly special number; it’s really just riding on the coattails of 100, being halfway and all. 25 and 75 don’t quite go about gloating over their relation to the century mark, but the Napoleon complex 50, it’s all about it.

As such, we’ll appease it for now. Just don’t expect the same kind of treatment for 150, at which point I simply won’t care anymore.

So I went with the assumption today that bigger is better; and as such, I needed to up the ante from the previous size benchmark set by Krang’s Android Body and the cocaine snake. Today, I introduce to you a toy of mass destruction. Have you ever seen what happens when puppets go bad?

It’s pure and utter chaos! Even Vincent Price falls victim to their fury.

Today, we salute the efforts of a plush so obscure, I can’t even seem to locate it on Google. Effectively, this could make it my most valuable possession (worth more than my 3DS, my house and my soul), but in honour of thou, the loyal toy-loving brethren, I will sally forth. Puppets are good. Street Sharks are better. So the enormous Ripster puppet must surely be the grandest of them all!

It’s incredible how much swag they were able to push out through the small window of Street Sharks’ popularity. In 1995, they were the hot ticket, and toy manufacturers would capitalize like keen strategists. Keen strategists with sharks. By the end of the year however, they were old news. Suddenly, it was all about Space Jam toys. At least, that’s how it was in my little community, and I assume that, as the epicenter of everything, what I deemed haute couture was accepted as the norm.

The paraphernalia came in all shapes and sizes, and this isn’t even the only Sharks foray into puppets. The more commonly seen variety were much more conservative hand puppets, appropriate for roleplay and post-modern attempts at Punch & Judy. However, I have looked high and low, and cannot find anyone else in all of society who owns this particular majestic menace.

And frankly, that’s really weird to me. I’ve pumped out some toys that I never expected to be recognized, but in this case, it’s a part of a big fad franchise that isn’t even twenty years old. Why is it so damned hard to find anyone else who is willing to discuss their Ripster puppet?

Is it one of a kind? Was it a prototype from a cancelled brand extension? Did I make it myself?

Who knows. Alls I know is that this enormous sucker has been lurking about my closet for years, warding off intruders, and eating stray socks that came his way. I also assume that, within a week, someone will have successfully located another site where people have already discussed the Ripster puppet. There’s probably even a fan club dedicated to it, with weekly meetups and secret shark handshakes.

But enough about his shady origins, let’s observe with keen interest the toy itself. For starters, wow, he’s really, really big. He’s like the size of a small toddler, but he’s much buffer and has rows of jagged plastic teeth, which makes him better than a small toddler.

He’s pretty finely crafted (as is the norm with Mattel), and even has nice little details like stitching tactfully placed to resemble abs. He lives up to his puppet status through use of an opening in his back, where you can pop your hand into to make his mouth stretch open widely.

As you can see, this makes him capable of biting, singing, and saying ‘ahh’ for the dentist. He’s even got Velcro hands, though amusingly, he’s far too unwieldy and muscular to successfully stick them together. You can hold them in place for a moment, but as soon as you let go, he’ll yank those suckers back to neutral. I don’t know what exactly the intention was of providing Velcro hands on a toy that can’t hold them together, but it’s still a fun addition. For one thing, when you hold them there, it looks like he’s praying. It’s like the cover of a hip-hop album. With sharks.

He’s got some minor wear on his teeth, but they’re shark teeth man, they’re meant to be rugged. Besides, if this truly is the only Ripster puppet in existence, then there still ain’t a better conditioned one in town.

I can’t help but note, in case you were wondering, that yes, he is excellent for cuddling. He’s soft and he doesn’t judge. This might sound wussy at first, but I will justify this by pointing out that I am cuddling a shark. Much more badass.

He’s also got some soulful eyes, hasn’t he? Like he’s about to pelt out a few bars of Ol’ Man River, criticize the lack of progress in the civil rights movement in the United States, and endure the pressure of McCarthyism. Yes, I effectively cast Ripster as the lead role of a Paul Robeson biography. That would be fucking epic, in my opinion. And yes, I did base the terminology of that biography on the first paragraph from Robeson’s Wikipedia page. As all true historians do, no doubt.

Right. I think I’ve said enough. Because truly, this manimal speaks for himself. He is a powerful fish. He believes himself to be ‘jawesome’. And he hungers for flesh. Or Snickers bars. Whichever is more readily available.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

#0049: Cocky's Circle Little Books

In the ongoing struggle of children’s education, one needs to be equipped with the proper tools to succeed. You need pencils, of all shades and colours, to illustrate the magical world of the imagination. You need scissors, sturdy and true, to carefully crop your work to conform with what is required. And, above all these things, you need books.

And stamps shaped like kitties. Books and kitty stamps.

In the case of the children of Australia, we were truly blessed, because we were privy to the heralded collection of Cocky’s Circle Little Books. For less than two dollars apiece, we could be ushered into a brand new world, where cats would compete for street supremacy, clowns with A.D.D. bailed while en route to town, and three purple monsters would simply fuck shit up.

A new generation of Aussie kids are now finding their way, and in the case of the children in my fiancé’s class, they’re about to undertake a series of lessons based on Australian literature. Enter Tony, and his Little Books.

For the record, this is a faux eulogy of sorts, because these books are merely on loan to the public education system. In actuality, I intend to keep them in my family for years to come. I want my son to read them someday. His name will be Billy. He will play football and make me wealthy. Otherwise, he will be a supreme disappointment. We’re all friends here, we can share secrets like that.

Now, the temptation I have is to conform with INAKA statutes, which would suggest that each of these books would receive their own separate entry. However, in the interest of time, I have crammed all the Little Books I could find into the one super-mega-entry. Perhaps this post of epic proportions is in celebration of some great festivity, or perhaps this is evidence of me not being able to muster 1,300 words each on a collection of children’s books. Who knows, but you, bubbly blog reader, you are the real winner.

We begin with this book, because it’s My Favourite. I mean, in the titular sense, because it isn’t really my favourite.

It follows the trials and tribulations of a chirpy young lad prancing about the zoo, in search of his favourite animal. It’s a cruel practice, because although he looks at each animal with delight and admiration, turning the page will reveal that it failed to capture his imagination.

It’s an unconventional zoo, I must say, because the first page reveals that, while the protagonist is fixated upon a zebra, an unsavoury-looking zoo employee is dragging an elephant behind him on a leash. I’ve been to Melbourne Zoo, and I can assure you that elephants don’t just go for walks among the populous. I mean, that’d be sorta cool in a cruel sort of way, but it hasn’t happened (yet).

As you can see, the emu is clearly distressed by his unfair dismissal.

In the end, after snubbing all varieties of snakes and camels, our boy Roy (named him on the fly) chances upon a cockatoo. ‘Hello’, it declares, much to Roy’s delight. In the end, he decides that this talkative bird is most definitely his favourite.

Personally, I think that Cocky had some sort of influence on this decision, because cockatoos really aren’t that great. Sure, they say ‘hello’ and all, in a friendly kind of way, then, when you edge close enough; they will bite you with all their might. In shock, you pull away, and they shriek in dismay like some sort of troll that failed to ensnare a passer-by. Afterwards, they’ll go back to their ‘hello’, a chilling call that now seems deeply reminiscent of the wicked sirens of sailor lore.

Or, if you’re in Hawai’i, they’ll simply eat your hair. And that’s just unsavoury.

I advise that the timid amongst you jump right ahead now, because we’re about to encounter The Most Scary Ghost. He makes Sadako look like a flower-picking choirgirl. He makes Horace Mahoney appear pensive and polite. He makes Casper seem friendly. But that last one isn’t really much of an achievement, I suppose.

So what we’ve got in this sordid tale is a little girl who lives in a lighthouse. In case you’re wondering, no, she doesn’t appear to have any parental figures who watch over her. Potentially, this prepubescent child is the sole commander of the lighthouse, which really makes me feel wary. Unless there is some unmentioned E.A.R.L. program. I might just assume this, because it puts me at ease.

Every night, she switches on the lighthouse and, as lighthouses are prone to doing, the light goes ‘wink, wink, wink’. This particular show of illumination has drawn the ire of The Most Scary Ghost, an infamous figure who lives atop a hill.

Frankly, the blinking light pisses him off, and he intends to sort things out and snuff it out for good. If you were feeling particularly creative, you could formulate a back-story about him being the ghost of a captain whose ship crashed upon the rocks many years ago. But in theory, if you were this creative, you’d have better things to do than write fanfiction about twenty-seven year old children’s books. …In theory.

He flaps (funnier if you read it as ‘faps’) down the hill, through the town, over the farm, along the beach and to the lighthouse, all the way declaring himself to be ‘the most scary ghost, whippetty-whoo!’, and I have to imagine that this book would be so much fun to read to kids before bed. I always liked these progressive horror stories: each page brought you closer to a terrifying conclusion, but you dared not stop, for you had to know whether the ghost succeeded in putting out the light (and possibly how much he fapped).

Finally, he ascends three-hundred stairs, and opens the door, where the little girl is waiting for him.

Such a twist! The ghost is revealed to be a pitiful coward and an abject failure of a ghost, as the mere shout of a small child is enough to send him packing all the way back to the hill, where he sits shivering. Methinks it was actually the revelation that an entire lighthouse and the very safety of all seagoing workers rests solely on the shoulders of one little girl that frightens him so, but maybe it’s just me. Seriously, that shit blows my mind.

We are now taken All the Way Up the Mountain by a group of silly, scraggly animals. Their commander is an elephant, who they all feel compelled to follow on his ascent. And frankly, I cannot blame them. If an elephant just randomly started climbing a mountain, I would feel inclined to follow, too.

This one here isn’t as story-driven as the prior entries on this list, it’s more-so just an exposé of adjectives describing how cool the animals are as they strut their shit up said mountain. It’s great for little kids to learn all sorts of awesome new words, like dithery, squelch and cluckety-cluck.

Questions arise in a reader’s mind as to what exactly they’ll find at the top of this mountain, and the suspense builds as the grassy patches give way to jagged rocks, and then, snowy peaks. Will they find God? Or the very first Kwik-E-Mart?

You know what, I don’t think I’ll tell you. I’ll just let you seek the book out for yourselves, because I’ve already spoilt the ending to two books as it is, and I feel downright guilty about it. Just don’t set your expectations too lofty, it’s not like it’s the most startling surprise since Gwyneth Paltrow’s head got FedEx’d to Brad Pitt.

This next book is titled Top Cat, and it features a swindling yellow cat who’s constantly trying to cheat his way to easy street. His cronies include Choo-Choo, an effeminate feline with a hue of purest pink, and Benny the Ball, who will break your fingers if you cross him.

Of course, none of this is true. I just needed a paragraph to begin with. This particular book is an interesting one, because it details the local cats of Catnip Street, and their leader, the old Tom, who after years of loyal service, is stepping down as commandant. Yes, I already used the term commander. I like to think that commandant is just different enough to squeak by without protest.

To determine the new leader of the pack, the Tom announces that, at the break of sunrise, he or she who attends with the best dish for them all to feast upon will become Top Cat. I’m fairly sure this is how Kim Jong-Il initially came into power.

And so each cat sets off, stealing food from the oblivious people of Catnip Street. For some reason, these people are preparing barbecues and eating tea at sunrise. But we shan’t split hairs. Samuel Siamese from number five is unique in his approach: instead of nabbing his meal from the table or a sunrise barbecue, he leaps off the pier and snags a fish.

The Tom has seen all this occur (he’s omnipotent, you see), and when all of the cats reconvene, their prizes on display, he makes a rousing speech about a true leader not needing to steal his supper, and anoints Samuel the winner, and new Top Cat.

Inspiring stuff, I’m sure, but I question the hypocrisy of the old Tom, who lectures them on the evils of stealing, whilst prior to this seemed perfectly comfortable about breaking and entering into each cat’s house to watch them.

I mean, come on. Am I the only one who has a problem with this? There is a big smelly black cat hiding in everyone’s house, and he has the audacity to give a spiel about morals! Screw you, old Tom. I’m withdrawing my membership from this stupid club.

…This is actually one of my favourite Little Books, really. I love spotting the old Tom in the background of each page. I also like to think he sounds like Bill Withers, and watches people as they sleep.

Reaching the halfway point now, our next fable is about The Blue Cockatoo. I don’t think I read this one as much as the others, and it eerily tip-toes the line between man and animal. It’s got the titular cockatoo, you see, who operates much like a regular cockatoo. But it’s owned by a hairdressing koala, and leered at by snappily-dressed animals who visit for haircuts.

What does it mean when some animals are distinguished gentlemen and ladies, and others are not? It’s simply perverse! Like if Goofy took Pluto for a walk. He’s your species, bro, don’t condescend!

Anyhow, Katy Koala owns a salon down by the harbour, and her drawing card to pull in the customers is a cockatoo that sits perched on the counter. It lures passers-by in by squawking cute phrases like “Oh, what a lovely hairdo,” or “Come this way, for a cut and shampoo,” or “nice tits, love.”

To up the ante, Katy starts styling her cockatoo’s feathers with curling irons and multicoloured sequins, and the people come in droves. Even a member of the press comes to snap a photo of this cockatoo. Clearly, it’s a slow news day in the animal world.

As the reaction hits a fever pitch, Katy gives into peer pressure and becomes more daring with her stylin’ and profilin’, and frantically grabs for her bottle of dye, intending to turn her cockatoo an attractive shade of brown.

Yeah, I know. Nothing looks good in brown. So perhaps it was a blessing in disguise when she inadvertently grabs blue dye instead, and ends up with exactly what we expected: a blue cockatoo. After all, parents eying a book called ‘The Brown Cockatoo’ would no doubt have concerns that the title was a euphemism for poo.

Katy decides that the solution for this dilemma is to increase the cockatoo’s street cred by making him more ghetto, adorning him with dreadlocks and cornrows, but it’s to no avail. Apparently blue cockatoos don’t capture the fancy of the animals like it used to.

So, Katy bathes her beloved cockatoo, and dries its hair under the salon’s dryer. And its hairnet catches fire, because Katy was too busy gossiping to supervise. I know, it’s a horrible fate, and a harrowing tale of animal cruelty and depravity. Don’t fret too much though, the cockatoo survives in good spirits, and goes back to his original position, chillaxing on the counter and shouting obscenities at the passers-by.

It’s just a shame that he’s still associated with a batshit crazy koala.

Staying on the hairdressing theme, we move onto my least favourite in the collection, The Haircut. It has garnered the title of my least favourite, as you can see from the cover, because the main kid Benjamin is an absolute little prick. I liked it, but it wasn’t my favourite.

For what it’s worth, the illustrator, Jan van der Voo, does however have my favourite name. Possibly of all time. Results pending.

Anyhow, Benjamin is a spoilt little shit who hates getting his hair cut. He causes a scene in the salon, causing the pink koala owner to panic and light birds on fire. After a great struggle with three stout men, Benjamin wins out. He shan’t be having that haircut after all.

It grows to incredible lengths, and garners Samson-like strength. I mean, his hair grows strong like Samson; I don’t think Samson’s hair itself was ever particularly powerful… Ehh, let me swap analogies. We’ll go with Rapunzel for now, a story which was first published 200 years ago in 1812. What fun!

Benjamin’s hair grows so long, that various animals decide to hitch a ride. First a monkey, then some gators, a few kittens and some pigs… Look, not only is Benjamin a brat, he’s oblivious to the Noah-esque gathering of creatures upon his hair. This kid is not a winner in any sense of the word, is he?

When he finally clicks, he flips his shit, and willingly accepts a haircut. Which is a dreadful waste, really, because that stuff would have sold at a very high price for anyone keen on industrial-strength hair extensions. It’s his loss, and moreover, the loss of animals keen on catching some free transport around the backyard. If Benjamin worked for Metro, he’d have fined them all for failing to produce concession entitlement, before keenly ignoring the violence that later ensued.

Now, we have a Cow Up a Tree. Shit! How did that happen? That seems highly impractical, and apparently it only occurred because the cow ‘had the sulks’. Cheer up, emo cow.

I could never quite figure out the race of the family in this book. I always kind of assumed they were Indian, although Grandpa looks very Italian. As you can plainly see, Sister has got some serious booty happening. I don’t know why any of this needed to be discussed, but we can’t go back now.

Appropriately, the cow too chooses not to go back, remaining steadfastly up in the tree. She resists the family’s threats, countering with a loud ‘Moo-oo’. I had a Koori friend who climbed a tree once. When someone tried to get him down, he responded by throwing a spear at them he had fashioned from a branch. I am not even kidding, it was fucking hilarious.

None of the family seem quite certain on how best to rouse the cow from its perch, and understandably so; it’s not your everyday dilemma. They’ve owned this farm for seventy years (back when Grandpa migrated from Italy, perchance), and this is only the fifth time this has ever happened.

Me personally, I like the mad nanna’s reaction.

That’s right, you bovine fuck, if you don’t come down, she’s gonna plow through the tree, killing all in her path!! That would have been an excellent ending. I’m going to pretend for a moment that that’s what really happens. Maybe in the sequel.

The family throws out a lot of wild theoreticals, until Sister saunters out, grabs some hay, and coaxes the cow to come on down. Success! I like the fact that none of the family had thought of that simple solution, instead opting for hoses, chainsaws and fire. Would it really have been worth burning down the farm, and potentially the cow itself in a queer Joan of Arc/Wicker Man sort of display?

I have yet to make a cow come down from a tree myself, so I really shouldn’t throw stones. Though in actuality, throwing stones is exactly what I would do, had I been in that scenario.

Moving right along now, we happen upon Do~whacky~do, a most excellent story about ten baggy clowns who are going to town. I like to think that one of them is Cam from Modern Family. I haven’t decided which one yet.

So as you may expect, clowns make for unreliable travelling partners, and as they get closer to town, where they intend to hit it big at Crown casino, each clown finds something better to do, like walking their crocodile to the zoo or becoming a pirate. Though you can see the dismay on the face of the lead clown as his support shrinks like that of Muammar Gaddafi, I can’t particularly fault them. These are all very important things that we all must address at some point.

The clowns precede their unexpected departure with the blanket statement of ‘Do-whacky-do’, which I assume is clown-talk for, ‘shit, sorry bro’. It all checks out;

‘Shit, sorry bro. I sat in a patch of sticky glue.’

‘Shit, sorry bro. I’m sick with the spotty-dotty flu.’

‘Shit, sorry bro. I’m washing my hair with green shampoo. And I’m naked. Please, get the fuck out of my bathroom.’

I’m sure each kid had a favourite excuse, and I was no different. This was, and still is, one of the greatest pair of pages in all of literature.

Bagger Vance eats socks. Hell yes.

By page 20, the road trip has turned disastrous for clown #1. He’s made it all the way to town, sure, but he hasn’t got a buddy to share the experience with. Not only does he not know anybody in the town, but now he knows that his ‘friends’ would rather paint their toenails than hang out with him. It’s a sad situation, but fortunately, he knows exactly what to do. He dances with a kangaroo. This is how all problems are solved in Australia.

Our next book tells us all about a little kid (who looks remarkably like my childhood friend Nathan) and his imaginary exploits with A Pet Dinosaur. Will this end in bloody disaster? Read on, and find out!

Nathan sits on his doorstep one day, pondering the benefits of owning a pet dinosaur. As you can appreciate, the pluses are many. Besides the social status that comes with owning a brontosaurus, he dreams fondly of building tree houses higher than anyone else on the block, playing hide-and-seek behind its legs, and blocking the door from solicitors. No, I’m not kidding with that last one.

He even suggests that he could ‘hire out the extra space’ at a fee, in case someone wanted to sit atop the dinosaur for a better view of parades and such. Yes, Nathan is whoring out his dinosaur. But dammit, he wanted another ice-cream. We all have our vices, after all.

Here is a picture of Melbourne. It is made of Lego.

But the more Nathan dwells upon this very important decision, the more he begins to realise the drawbacks. It eats like a mofo. It’s too big, and crushes shit. Dennis Nedry might try to sell it.

In the end, the kid settles for a kite, which is a much safer choice, I think. He was bound for disappointment anyway, considering that modern science has since proven that the brontosaurus never even existed. Isn’t it funny to think that both the brontosaurus and Pluto being a planet were debunked in our lifetime? I feel significant. And betrayed.

Finally, we arrive at book #10. It is my absolute favourite of all of the Little Books. It is The Yukadoos, and lord above, if the kids go on a rampage and rip everything else to shreds, please let them at least spare this book. …And my fiancé, too, ideally.

I believe it’s one of the oldest books in the collection, first published in 1987. It’s all about the Yukadoos, a trio of mischievous… things, who have only one purpose on this Earth.

And that purpose, quite simply, is to be as annoying as possible. From cackling in the cupboard to shouting in the shed to messing up the magazines to bouncing on the bed, theirs is a world of mischief, noise and alliteration.

As you can appreciate, we as mischievous, noisy, alliterate children could truly relate to these Yukadoos, and I absolutely adored each page’s antics, each new illustration. Look at him! He’s in the mud! He’s hiding under a rug! Baby, he’s the ginchiest!

For some odd reason, I also liked determining which Yukadoo looked the most comfortable in each picture.

…No, I have nothing to follow that up with.

So, as you can see, the Yukadoos are just fantastically good fun, though hopefully they won’t encourage the kids to do some silly shit. I can’t be held responsible for any actions caused by zany purple critters. Though if kids started actually rolling off the roof and shit, I would suggest that they had problems that long preceded their exposure to the Yukadoos.

And I guess that concludes this super duper extra extended reflection upon Cocky’s Circle Little Books. I regret that I was unable to find Ten Loopy Caterpillars while I was rifling through all of my old crap, but that just leaves the opportunity open for me to make another 3,600+ word entry somewhere down the line.

I shall wait nervously for the day they return to my possession, having successfully taught children not to steal, to get their hair cut with regularity, and how to get a cow down from a tree.

In the meantime, I’m going to move onto a new sort of book, and one that has been made vastly superior by some random person’s perverse creativity. 24 Hours at Anvil Rock, here I come…

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Some statistics for your consideration

I believe I have expressed a few times prior to this, that I have gained a growing obsession with tracking all of the odd little viewing statistics of this blog every now and then. And some of these notions are so delightful, I thought I would share them with you.

1. Out of the top ten most common search phrases that lead people here, six of them are variations of searches for Ninja Turtles costumes. I only ever used one slightly irrelevant photo of a Ninja Turtles costume in an entry, and I am looking all the cleverer for it now, having garnered 359 views simply because of it. Thank you, horrifying Leonardo.

2. The fifth-most page views, ranked by country, have come from Germany. This is amusing to me, because as near as I recall, I have not once made reference to Germany (until now). Hello, Germans!

3. Some Google phrases that have apparently helped people find this blog:

"puncturing her boobs" video

lion king scar king of gay

ay girl my metapod only knows one move :harden

4. To make this entry (vaguely) toy relevant, I've enclosed a wallet-sized photo for your enjoyment.

I assume you have a large wallet.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

#0048: Sonic Turbo Challenge Road Race Set

To say that today’s entry is a difficult one to make is an understatement. Frankly, this may be the hardest in the long run, because this is a departure that was against my will. My hand was forced by the bitter wrath of God, and I fight back an outpour of emotion as I spit a Latin curse at the moon.

A primer: It is ironic that after my audacious claims in a prior Sonic-related post that I held the uncanny ability to collect any toy I truly wanted, it is later with that very same hedgehog that I find the exception to the rule.

There we were, strutting our stuff through a store. What was this store? I dunno, but I remember there not being many toys. I’d claim that it was a hardware store of some description, but then, there would be no toys at all. Unless it was a hardware store constructed by a man with the heart of a child, like Michael Jackson or Bud Adams. But I digress. Just a little.

And on this particular day, I spotted on the shelf a prize like no other. A prize that, in any other packaging, would have no doubt passed my attention without incident. However, this particular item was sporting my main man, Mr. Needlemouse. Yes indeed, it was the Sonic the Hedgehog Jeu De Course Sur Route Pour Challenge Turbo! And this was the amusing thing about growing up in Canada, everything was laden with French! But no; really, in my eye, it was the Sonic the Hedgehog Turbo Challenge Road Race Set. Or to be more specific, it was a box of cars with Sonic.

But alas! The parentals were steadfast. They would not be granting their whelp the box of Sonic cars on that day. At the time, I felt slighted to the umpteenth degree. Today, I grab that little bastard by the throat and tell him ‘how about you work 40 hours a week and buy it yourself? HUH?!’

What can I say, I’m a violent father. But it’s a retroactive violence against a younger version of myself, so it’s okay. It’s practically masochism. In fact, if you watch it juxtaposed against Ken’s theme from Street Fighter, it’s kind of fucking epic.

But I digress again. More so. The days would turn into months, and I don’t exactly recall how much the Sonic road race set (jeu de course!) weighed on my mind. Because this was 1994, and some serious shit was going on in the world. Some political stuff, some human interest stuff, some Donkey Kong Country stuff. So really, we were all probably a little pre-occupied.

To close the year on Christmas Day, one present stood out among all others. A little bit bigger, a little bit more significant, a little bit more radical. I’ll dispense with the suspense now, because you already know the substance, so it’s nonsense. Basically, I got the Sonic cars for Christmas. Life was worth living! There would indeed be a 1995, after all.

The concept was familiar; slot cars powered by a metallic connection to the racetrack, fed through the juice from a veritable army of D batteries. The little lights on the front of the car would illuminate when you pushed down on the throttle, and you could finally live out your fantasy of making Sonic peel about the course before your very eyes! …If, you know, Sonic was behind the wheel of a car. Like in Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, just without Billy Hatcher all up in your grill.

So understandably, as the logical six-year-old that I was, I instantly assumed that the goal was to make Sonic car go as fast as possible, and I jammed down on that button with fury. And he would zip so majestically, until he hit the first bend in the track, and skidded to a deadly halt, in a most un-Sonicly fashion.

What was this sorcery? Sonic could not go at supersonic speeds without crashing to his doom, ala Tommy in Tell Laura I Love Her? Would this mean that, for the first time in our lives, we would have to show restraint?

It would seem so, judging by the yellow car manned by my cousin, who was rounding the corners with ease and heading onto his next lap. In all fairness however, his car had a Tails sticker, it was bound to have better handling.

It was a daunting task, but I came to terms with it eventually. You see, kids these days don’t know how good they have it: they can just watch Cars to learn all about how to handle corners. Lightning McQueen didn’t hit our screens until I was 18 and behind the wheel of an actual car, at which point safe turning was useless advice to me.

In the end, I finally learnt something that day, and carefully accelerated on the straights, while easing the pressure on the turns. It was a hollow victory, because my cousin had figured that out right from the start, and had already completed the circuit eight laps ago.

It’s a little over seventeen years later, and I would most certainly love to recreate that pristine Christmas afternoon, but something is amiss. The aforementioned wrath of God, you were still pondering about that, weren’t you? Well, I’ll go one better than to tell you: I’ll show you.

Holy shit, my Sonic wheels have fucking melted.

Keen racing enthusiasts will note that this is detrimental to driving properties, and frankly, I have no idea how it happened. I mean, honestly: Australia is a warm climate, no doubt, but it’s not known for temperatures so scorching it will melt shit. And before you ask, no, this was never in the garage. It’s been sitting in the dining room since 1997, and I personally don’t dine in rooms hotter than ovens.

As you may have surmised, this effectively renders my Sonic racetrack inoperable. I mean, sure, I could possibly salvage the track and its components in the assumption that there are other slot cars that would operate on it, but surely, if someone out there has said slot cars, they most assuredly have tracks as well. The only thing they’re missing is a pair of palm trees, and I cautiously question the importance of that.

So out into the exciting world of landfill goes my Sonic track. I feel absolutely treacherous to dump something my parents so lovingly bought for me all those years ago, but what other option do I have? Really slow, awkward races where the cars bounce up and down as if they had a jack on the wheels? Screw that, Sonic is made for speed baby, he’d prefer to go down in flames.

And really, isn’t this an appropriate fate for a Sonic-themed racing set? No doubt it would have been pure degradation for the cars to have been ushered through the generations, once a hip, speedy toy, later an ancient dinosaur of plastic and metal. It’s like a proud racing horse that is relegated to children’s fairs in its advanced years.

Instead, jeu de course died in a blaze of glory. Look at it this way, we literally burned rubber. And that is pretty damned badass, no matter what way you spin (dash) it.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Jeong & Knuckles

My lovely fiancé has decided that she wants to start collecting meaningful bobbleheads. I'm behind this 110%, because as you might have gathered, while I'm doing okay at clearing away toys, I'm starting to mount a concerning initiative to have several decorative pieces. I'm quite convinced that this is just a mental ploy I'm pulling on myself to justify the continued influx of toyyyyyzzzzz.

What can I say? I'm a consumer at heart. How else could you explain a $20 iTunes binge tonight? I think I increased sales of Mr. Big by 30%.

Anyhow. 'Meaningful' in our world somehow translates to Knuckles the Echidna, and Mr. Chow from the Hangover. One will be displayed proudly in her classroom, for all of the little kids to adore, to play with, and to ask questions about his origin. The other, is Knuckles. Har-har.

So, with the aforeseen (that's not a word? Screw it, I'm using it anyway) Richard Nixon, that brings our growing collection to a glorious three. Who will be the next to grace our shelves, nodding like an enthusiastic yes-man?

Jack Skellington?

David Wenham?

General Larry Platt?

Stay tuned...

Chow: "So long, gay boys!"

Knux: "It's the hair, isn't it?"

Friday, March 2, 2012

#0047: Krang's Android Body

Rarely do we here at INAKA Pty Ltd tackle a toy of any real significance. Every now and then, we might throw out an item or two that whets the appetite of the avid collector, but honestly, I’m still yet to make a single risky sacrifice.

It’s for this reason that my toy chest is still filled to the brim with crap, and a lot of it is actually fairly cool crap, in my opinion. Things like a golden Charizard, and a scooter-riding Garfield dressed like Paul Hogan. Yes, I’ll get to it someday (theoretically), but it’s all about the baby steps at this point.

So then, when my dear compadre BubbaShelby made a request to lay claim to one of my toys, it opened up a whole new can of worms. We’re going bigger, badder, and brainier, ladies and gentlemen, because the next gaffer to go is Krang’s Android Body.

This entry must be read with this music playing again and again and again until you have completed reading. You cannot truly grasp the majesty of a red-panty wearing machine without some nifty SNES techno to go with it. Lay down the boogie, lingerie robot.

“BLAAAAARRRGGGHHH!!” the Zangief-esque monstrosity shrieks, as he dangles samurai Raphael in the hopes of collecting some pocket money.

Turtles toys usually came in uniform size; your standard Turtle height, with maybe a little monochrome friend amongst their arsenal of weapons and accessories. Therefore, when something like Krang’s Android Body came along, we kids sat up and took notice. Because, frankly, we needed a more daunting enemy to pit our Turtles against. Whether it was because of the bumbling nature of Bebop and Rocksteady, or Shredder’s less-than-menacing purple wardrobe, we felt as though our Turtles could handle any adversary with ease. Plus, most of the other bad guys were random creations we’d never heard of, including an insect named after an infectious disease. …Yes, I’m serious.

Then, you gave us this massive, horribly clunky BAMF, and you finally had an excuse to fling your Turtles across the room, catapulted by the mighty right boot of the beast. All the while, Krang watches on with glee, safely controlling the action from behind his shielded throne room. What a threat! What a menace! What would you tell your parents, when you had to unveil the unfortunate truth that mankind was doomed?

In case you were wondering, yes, the Krang is removable, and can operate on his own accord about as well as a legless brain can. He has an enormous hole in his rear, which I’m assuming is to make him compatible with the earlier robotic walker toy he used to get around in.

Also, curiously, Krang’s vanity is apparent within the android body, as the rear wall of his domain contains a nice shiny mirror for him to gaze lovingly into.

“Mirror, mirror on the wall… who’s the pinkest of them all?”

My particular KAB is a little bit worse for wear, with a few little marks and scratches strewn about his person, as well as every child’s worst nightmare; torn stickers. So now he’s missing a few potentially crucial bits of equipment (cords and gauges and the like) that could render him inoperable, plus, most noticeably, he’s broken his antenna.

Remember the episode of Futurama where Bender had his antenna removed? It was his manhood, dammit, his very essence as a robot. Now the unfortunate KAB is severely less masculine, plus he can no longer pick up ESPN.

The reason he’s seen so much rough and tumble is because he’s unique even beyond Turtles lore. How often do you have a great big angry skinhead toy to duel with? Every hero I owned in the early 90s was destined to throw down with the behemoth, ranging from Simba to Mighty Max to Kermit the Frog.

Unbelievably, Kermit won in an epic struggle, causing Krang and his android body to tumble down the stairs, landing with a thud and leaving a small dent in the wall that I never had the heart to confess to my parents. This should fill me with guilt right now, but instead, it makes me want to watch Muppet Babies. That Nanny, she was such a tart.

Personally, I like KAB’s little silver goggles. They’re very 80s. Plus the shoulderpads and bright red gloves. In fact, the more I dwell upon it, the more I’m beginning to believe KAB is no more than a misunderstood Michael Jackson wannabe. Poor fella.

The rest is fairly self-explanatory. He’s not terribly maneuverable; his arms and legs can do a full 360 with a great deal of labour, and for this reason, you can horrify the innocent bystanders by having Krang stop his destructive rampage to majestically do the splits.

Well, either that, or he’s excitedly chasing after the ice cream truck. It’s hard to tell with that great big poker face of his.

On that note, I was always confused by the rather inconsistent nature of the size of the android body. By most accounts, it was roughly ten feet tall, and in actuality, it very rarely engaged in combat, instead just being a means of Krang getting around the kitchen. But then, on occasion, it was as big as King Kong. I’m sure this was mostly explained by use of some mystical growth ray gun from Dimension X, but if this was the case, why not just make the entire team of villains bigger? Rocksteady might be dumb as shit, but an enormous rhinoceros is not something to be sneezed at.

We may never know exactly how big KAB was really meant to be. He’s big in our hearts, and that’s what truly matters. I’ll most certainly miss him, though I know he’s off to bigger and better things. A new country, new toys to smash, new opportunities to carelessly lose his stickers like a child loses their mittens.

Also, it took me twenty-one years to realise that his face resembles the grinning maw of a jack-o-lantern. What a magnificent fellow he is. A belated happy Halloween to you, gorgeous lingerie robot.

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