Caring For Cricket Doll With This Instructional Tape!

But first, I’ll demonstrate how to take care of a whole other kind of cricket!

It has nothing to do with doll care.

There’s a Point In Here Somewhere…

If you grew up during the magical decade of the 1980s, and you were my age, you may have had at least one talking doll-type toy. Either that, or you saw a commercial for a talking doll. The latter probably applies if you were an older kid, and dolls were so “not your age.” And that’s ok, I was you ten years later, explaining that I was “too old” for The Baby-Sitters Club.

“I’m almost thirteen! I can’t read these books anymore, and I’m NOT seeing that movie!”

(Likely my actual words)

Anyway, the actual subject…

Talking Dolls

Talking dolls are not new ground for me in my Retroist writings (Related: Do You Know the Answer…Box? and Live Action Teddy Ruxpin…Now With More Night Terrors!). I still have a working Teddy Ruxpin (ultra creepy because his eyes don’t work, so he’s sorta catatonic). And at one time, I had a Cricket Doll. Teddy stayed in my brother’s room, Cricket in mine. Both were equally fun, played with, and loved (but not to the point of damage or disrepair).

I remember wanting Cricket as a four-year-old in 1986. In fact, I think it was this commercial that did it for me…

Uploaded by Westerleb

I’m still convinced there is a commercial where she walks.

Seriously, if anyone knows what I’m talking about, please help me find that commercial! I know it exists!

False advertising aside, I got her as a Christmas present from my that year (I have to check with my mom – I think she came from my grandparents). I also have pictures from Christmas Day. Perhaps I’ll scan it, as long as my mom can easily be cropped out (or is ok with you seeing her in the background!)

Anyway…

Instruction Manuals for Kids Who Can’t Read

An Instruction manual is required/common practice for any complex-to-operate toy. However, the real struggle when marketing these toys to the younger set is that they likely don’t read or comprehend written instructions. So someone at Playmates Toys (perhaps the creators themselves?) had the right idea in creating an instruction manual that didn’t have to be read AND spoke on the level that a child would understand.

Operating and Caring For Cricket

In addition to the story/song tape (the “Unnamed/No Theme Blue Label Tape”) included with Cricket, she came with a beige label tape called Operating & Caring for Cricket, featuring Cricket’s voice, and speaking on a child’s level to explain how to care for her.

Uploaded by BB182000

Fun fact: My Cricket had the outfit in this video (Indoor Playtime).

The care tape covers the basics – battery types, inserting batteries and cassettes, auto shut off (in play mode only), the types of buttons (“The green one turns me on, and the red one turns me off!”), proper cleaning and hair care, and two things that are REALLY bad for Cricket (“Water and DIRT!”).

You know, all the usual manual information, told on a child level. I’m pretty sure the actress liked saying Alkaline batteries (AL-KA-LIIIIINE!).

Oh, and the Yellow Fast Forward/Blue Rewind buttons? For the love of everything, press the Red Stop Button when she’s done. There’s nothing quiet nightmare fuel-inducing like waking up to the sound of the tape deck motor.

I know this from experience.

There’s Just One More Thing…

I found this tape (strangely) fascinating, and listened to it like its a normal part of the whole “Cricket Experience.” Further adding to that “fascination,” Side B of this tape worked properly in any cassette player.

Guess who listened to it in their Walkman?

I’m not above admitting my guilt, folks. It’s why you read my stuff – you pretty much expect it!

And now that you know all about how to operate Cricket doll (including using AL-KA-LINE batteries?!), get out there and operate her properly! Why? Because you want that sickeningly sweet/cute voice to terrify you for a long, long time.

Further Reading…

In May 2017, I wrote a post that demonstrates what a Cricket cassette sounds like in your standard tape deck (among other things).

This Happened With Our Very Nostalgic Technology!

I’m always trying to find out things about my beloved talking dolls.

Let’s just say that “I’ll be talkin’ to ya” about it again!

Too sickeningly cute?

USAopoly Does Monopoly…Golden Girls Style!

Oh wait, no, that’s not cool!  No “thank you” about it! That means we’re playing Monopoly!

They’ll Make (Insert Tie-In Here) For Anything These Days!

Proving that there is nothing sacred when it comes to reinventing the wheel, USAopoly has created its second (yes, second) game based on the 1985-1992 sitcom The Golden Girls. This time, instead of trying to find out whole stole the coveted cheesecake (as is the premise of the also upcoming The Golden Girls Clue), you can buy up real estate in Miami.

Golden Girls Monopoly

The gameplay promises to be your standard Monopoly, but with the customized twist of iconic locations from the TV show, custom playing pieces, and this game board:

You can go to St. Olaf AND St. Gustav?

Oh yes, and you can even…buy them!

*Laughs evil-like*

All part of my world domination plans, folks. First, fictitious Golden Girls points of interest, then…the WORLD!

By world, I mean the spin-off, Empty Nest.  Dr. Weston lived down the street.

But Wait, There’s More!

There’s the game pieces, which are not your average Monopoly pieces…

Cheesecake, Rose’s teddy bear Fernando, Sophia’s purse, a mirror, and Stanley Zbornak’s toupee! Trying to figure out what that one piece is, and failing miserably.

And what about…this box?

That feels more Solid Gold or Soul Train than The Golden Girls, but that font is amazing!

What You Need To Know about The Golden Girls Monopoly

Price: $39.95

Availability: The game will be released on July 25, 2017. Amazon is taking pre-orders, but not selling the game directly. I’m pretty sure it will be available anywhere you’d normally buy board games, but my gut says this one will have quite the rush on it.

My Take

At $39.95, it seems pricey, but a collectors item kind of pricey.

I say collectors item because let’s face it, my boyfriend will not play this with me. He already hates Monopoly, but he screams in terror over Golden Girls reruns. He says it is something to do with the idea of old ladies eating cheesecake and discussing their sex lives.

Coincidentally, there was never an episode where the girls played…oh I don’t know…Monopoly, ate cheesecake, and discussed their sex lives!

I better stop, he may actually read this.

But anyway, this has always been a popular show (I guess?), but the sudden cult status it seems to have recently really makes me wonder what already knew about one of my childhood favorites that the world is just finding out.

You’d think there was a reboot…oh.

Yeah. That’s not happening.

But they’ll live on forever, even if it is in a board game!

Thank you, USAopoly, for being a friend, and creating stuff we cannot believe became a cultural icon.

By The Way…

I covered the other Golden Girls-themed board game in a previous Retroist post (Whodunit, Golden Girls?). We’re still awaiting that game’s release, poised with our cheesecake. :-)

We’ll, of course, keep you posted as to when these games become available for purchase – the release dates say July 24, 2017 for Clue, and July 25, 2017 for Monopoly. But of course, we know how that can change.

In the meantime, you really should check out usaopoly.com and their extensive pop culture board game selection!

New Jersey’s Own: The Short Life of Kid’s World

Kid’s World. It has a nice generic ring to it, doesn’t it?

All Those Amusement Parks…

I thought I’d heard of all the known amusement parks in the Delaware Valley and Jersey shore regions. I even worked for one (Fantasy Island Amusement Park in Beach Haven, NJ).

However, when you grow up hearing about/watching a steady stream of commercials for Six Flags Great Adventure, Dorney Park, Hershey Park, Sesame Place, and the infamous Action (Traction) Park, it is easy to miss the smaller amusement parks.

Uploaded by WeirdNJTV

Admit it, we watched these commercials just to see if someone ate it or broke their neck in the background. Half the fun of Action Park wasn’t actually going, but also learning about their spectacularly infamous history.

There are amusement parks (some local to my area), that I have never heard of, but no longer exist. For instance, a “castle” haunted house in one of the shore communities off Atlantic City, a whole Dinosaur-themed pier in the famous Wildwoods (that didn’t last long), and a park in Long Branch that I only heard of when I spotted two commercials on an old tape.

Previously, On Allison’s Written Words…

Last week, I spotted a commercial for an amusement park in Long Branch, NJ called Kid’s World. Aside from the obvious belief that the name was a tad generic, I’d never heard of this place.

Naturally, it became Throwback Thursday on my blog!

Lo and behold, I was looking through the tape for my Flashback Friday commercial (it wound up being about Slip n’ Slide), and I found I missed out on a second commercial for the same amusement park.

This park, my friends, is Kid’s World, and it was a victim of circumstance.

Kid’s World

In 1985, Pat Cicalese and his business partner, Carmen Ricci, re-themed the pier, pool, waterslide, and Bumper Boats on the Ocean Avenue Long Branch Pier. They purchased the pier six years earlier (and leased it the year prior to that), and called it Kid’s World.

Their inspiration came from Langhorne, PA’s more famous amusement park, Sesame Place.

Kid’s World: It’s a Do-Be!

See what I did there!

Oh, wait, a bee.

Kid’s World was a child/family-friendly amusement park that not only had a rides, but a Romper Room-themed area. Sesame Place had Big Bird and all his friends, and Kid’s World…had Mr. Do-Be. Who may or may not have stolen souls.

It was Mr. Do-Be’s MO for getting you to come there!

It also had all this!

And also in live action!

But seriously, this was the best part!

“Honey, get the kids in the car!  They have SHADOW PUPPETS!!!!”

While Kid’s World had water slides and kid-friendly stuff, it also had a Haunted Mansion right there for the adults. Not exactly their target audience, don’t ya think?

Uploaded by clarkkent1367

Also not wanted? Doobies that aren’t Do-Be’s! (How could I make that plural?)

Unfortunately, fate had other plans for Kid’s World, and didn’t involve Shadow Puppets or Mr. Do-Be.

The Fire…And The End

On the afternoon of June 8, 1987, a fire broke out at the McDonald’s on the pier, sparing only the water attractions across the street. Couple that with slowing business, and Kid’s World closed for good at the end of the season.

Both videos uploaded by Ted M

The story only gets more depressing, as Cicalese’s plans to rebuild the pier were dashed by insurance that didn’t cover the cost, and Long Branch Township’s unwillingness to fund a rebuilding, resulting in Kid’s World’s abandonment until the pier and water park were demolished in 2001 and 2002, respectively.

But From Those Ashes And Abandonment…

For that depressing story, there actually is a happy one!

Pier Village (opened in 2005) was built on the former site of Kid’s World, and is a mixed-use community of 100,000 square feet of 536 rental residences, retail space, a grassy area for events, shops, restaurants, a salon, and a gym.

Incredible!

The Commercial!

Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t share one more VERY important thing!

The commercial for the other  Kid’s world commercial I found on my tape…taped from WNYW in June 1987!

Wow, back when Monmouth County had “201” numbers.

And there you have it, one of those lesser-known amusement parks (because of its lack of longevity), and the mixed-use community that succeeded its charred remains.

Not every sad defunct amusement park has a sad ending, folks.

Did You Know “The Baby-Sitters Club” Had Their Own Album?

That’s right – those baby-sitters and their Stoneybrook-based club had an album!

One Great Idea After Another…

I’ve been (nostalgically) going back through the Baby-Sitters Club book series since last August. My inspiration came from it being the 30th anniversary of the first book. The series has captivated me as much as an adult as it did when I was nine years old. I know it seems strange to enjoy the adventures of teenage girls navigating through life and running the ultimate business, but I always liked how wholesome the stories are, and how well they hold up. While the covers of the books feel dated, the stories are timeless.

I read the first eighty-eight books between 1992 and 1995, when I decided it was time to leave this important part of my elementary school life behind. I was starting seventh grade, and I guess I felt it wasn’t “cool” to read the books anymore. When I started reading the books, I was young enough to be a baby-sitting charge, but by the time I stopped reading, I was older than the club’s two youngest members (though I was in the same grade as them). I was also baby-sitting myself by that time – I watched my own version of the Rodowsky boys, but thankfully I didn’t have a Jackie Rodowsky on my hands!

 

Of Course, The Baby-Sitters  Club Had a TV Show

Because one great idea deserves another!

Like other popular books series of the time (think Ramona Quimby and those Sweet Valley Twins), the baby-sitters also had their own show – it ran for 13 episodes across one season. It also had the distinction of having the most catchy theme song of them all…

Uploaded by Allison Venezio

This song, I should mention, is now stuck in your head. It’s so catchy!

I’ll definitely have to go into more depth with the television show at some point – I own the episodes (and I’ve written recaps for several), but I gotta talk about the soundtrack.

Songs For My Best Friends

The Baby-Sitters Club: Songs for My Best Friends is a 12-song soundtrack featuring nine tracks specifically written for the series, as well as the ultra-catchy theme for the TV show, “Say Hello To Your Friends.” The album was released on October 13, 1992, featuring the vocal stylings of “The Baby-Sitters Club,” featuring Kelly Sachs. Tracks 1-9 were written by Sachs, Jeff Barry, and Lisa Spiro, while “Say Hello To Your Friends” was written by Glen Roven. It’s also not the version from the TV show, but a remixed version.

The tracks are a flowery assortment of happy, perky tunes, mixed with love, friendship, and empowerment tunes, a reminder that education is important, and of course, the show’s theme song (though a different arrangement of the one heard on the TV show).

Just look at this track listing! Those titles!

1. Dance

2. Good Time

3. In Your Shoes

4. Him

5. We Will Inherit The Earth

6. Dear Diary

7. Telephone Talk

8. School is Cool

9. Slumber Party

10. Say Hello To Your Friends

So…how does it sound?

It’s So 1980s Dance!

The songs have a very Debbie Gibson/1980s teenybopper-esque sound. Considering that this was from 1992, that’s probably not what your average eight-year-old in 1992 liked.

Me, on the other hand…

If I had known this existed, it would have been in regular rotation in my Walkman, right alongside my Beauty and the Beast soundtrack. That’s my eclectic music taste for you! I’ve always had it!

So you know it is awesome!

Why didn’t I know this existed?!

Of course, what kind of friend would I be if I didn’t share my new music find with you?

Uploaded by Larry TGroce

Say hello to your flowery, perky earworm!

More Baby-Sitters Club Reads…By Me!

Oh, and if you want to see some of my Baby-Sitters Club recaps over on my blog…

I celebrated my 500th blog post by recapping Claudia and the Mystery of the Secret Passage, Halloween with a not-so-Halloween (but still, Halloween-esque) recap of Dawn and the Haunted House , and Christmas with an actual Christmas episode recap (The Baby-Sitters Special Christmas). I also wrote about a Valentine’s Day-themed novel, and my first Goodreads review on my most recent read from the final series of books.

But this is the post that got this whole crazy train of BSC excitement going!

Say hello to your girlie nightmare, friends!!!  :-)

 

Have You Heard Chicago’s “The Pull”?

Uh oh, guess who discovered – or rather, got pull-ed in the direction of – another Chicago song?

Gee, let me guess…

The Stone of Sisyphus Keeps on Rolling…

Several months ago, I wrote about an unreleased (until 2008) song penned by Jason Scheff, and performed by Chicago called “Bigger Than Elvis.” The song was a dedication piece to Jason’s father, Jerry Scheff, who was a bassist for Elvis Presley. “Bigger Than Elvis” was set to be released as part of the group’s ill-fated 1994 album Stone of Sisyphus. 

The album was to be a return to Chicago’s personal, cultural, and musical roots, and not a strive for hits. The album was completed in secrecy (even from their label), in order to emphasize Chicago’s creative sovereignty, set for a March 1994 release, but suddenly rejected (it was initially well-received) from Warner Bros. Records. This resulted in the album going unreleased for fifteen years, and Chicago leaving the label altogether.

The 1993 “Greek Theater”Concert

Prior to the album’s ultimate rejection, there was one song that made the set list for Chicago’s 1993 Greek Theater concert. It was a song that I had not actually heard before, nor had I seen any concert footage from the 1990s. But I can tell you this: the concert is a total hair party, 1990s-era Chicago is as awesome as any era Chicago, and those horns…fabulous.

Bill Champlin’s hair. That hair is everything you’d expect in glorious hair.

I had total hair envy watching this concert. Can you see why?

Former Member of the Hair Party, bassist, and lead vocalist Jason Scheff had an arguably strong voice that contributed to the group from the mid-1980s and on through the 1990s, right up until his departure in 2016. It didn’t matter who wrote it or if Peter Cetera was the original voice, he could handle any song with a true performer’s glory.

He was the only one without long hair.

Even the horn section had Mandatory Mullets!

“The Pull” Gets Its Big Push in Concert

The 1993 tour was an obvious attempt to promote the group’s upcoming album, and they deviated from the usual set list to play one of the songs from that album. Perhaps this one had the “marketability” they were going for.

I’m not 100% sure, but I do know this – the song was quite catchy, and very reminiscent of mid-1980s Chicago.

Take a look at this amazing video of Jason Scheff giving his all to “The Pull.”

Uploaded by Mr Joe Lynch

Those horns, that sound, this is revived-in-the-1980s-era Chicago. This is everything this group was amazing for and yet, this (and the album it rode in on) didn’t see the light of day for fourteen years. It took ten albums and fourteen years (and Rhino Records) to release this amazing song and album.

The lyrics in “The Pull” tell listeners that no matter what, no matter how far one goes, one’s roots (and past) are always ready to draw one back.

It is truly a powerful song.

Departures, Arrivals, and Stones Finally Getting Their Push

Unfortunately, with the album’s unreleased status, it was the final album for guitarist Dawayne Bailey, whose contract was not renewed following the not release of Stone of Sisyphus. Bailey had been with Chicago during the ushering in of the “new era” in 1986.

But even with his departure, Chicago lucked out in the end…

You guys know how I feel about Keith Howland.

Past Exhibits:

Old Days, Good Times Some Didn’t Have! – Hear Keith Howland sing the song Peter Cetera hated to sing!

Christmas with Horns – Howland’s version of “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas” is awesome!

Eventually, Sisyphus did succeed in pushing that stone – Rhino Records released the album as Chicago’s thirty-second album on June 17, 2008. Because when something is good enough, it will eventually get heard.

You can pretty much say someone had “The Pull” to get it released!

Get it, “The Pull…”

Ok, fine.

OMG hair!

Oh, and if you really want to see the full concert, it is AMAZING!

Uploaded by MyyyTunes Concerts