Do YOU Understand The FuncoLand GAMES Process?

Believe it or not, there was a time when a certain craze/addiction/collectors item called “Funko” didn’t exit, but another Funco did. They called it FuncoLand, and, well…other stores of its type killed it.

The Story of FuncoLand

Minneapolis, Minnesota-based Funco, Inc. opened in 1989. Like GameStop after it (and Game Crazy during its time), FuncoLand sold consoles, games, and peripherals, but emphasized their used games. In 1999, the company was purchased by EB GameStop (EB Games is part of GameStop as well – remember them?), and by 2005, started selling lifestyle, accessories, and toys, marketing their products toward boys ages six to fourteen years old. By 2015, FuncoLand stopped selling video games altogether, and by 2017, the chain was sold to Dave-Spin Retail Group. Most stores are closed now, but some are now 77 Kids (the children’s brand of American Eagle).

For the uninformed, Dave-Spin Retail Group owned Blockbuster and Chi-Chi’s. I compel you to find one of those places these days.

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In 1998, FuncoLand released one of those “oh-so-entertaining-for-the-easily-amused” training videos that outlines the company’s sales process, featuring an employee who is having trouble (of his own design) learning the FuncoLand Sales Process, G.AM.E.S.

Adam, FuncoLand, and the G.A.M.E.S. Process

Our journey through learning the ins and outs of the G.A.M.E.S. process begins with Adam.

He’s a FuncoLand new hire, who’d rather play his Game Boy Pocket (because 1998!) than learn the policies and procedures. His manager (actually FuncoLand Director of Sales and Service, Chuck Simmons) gives him an hour to learn the G.A.M.E.S. process, and wouldn’t you know it, Adam falls asleep.

Because that’s what happens in training sessions, right?

Adam journeys into the terrible special effects-laden land of…The Game Master! Here, Adam must learn FuncoLand’s sales manual and apply it to his job, mastering the skills in one hour. Sounds easy, except Adam looks like a deer in the headlights.

If he doesn’t learn the G.A.M.E.S. Process, he’ll be doomed there forever. Or fired. We’re all rooting for Adam to lose his job. It isn’t our faults he fell asleep during his training. What happens in his “sucked into the instruction manual dream” is his disaster in the making.

We’re also loving Chuck Simmons as The Game Master, and his freakin’ huge hourglass!

And of course, he not only has to collect each letter, he has to apply them to his real world experience…

This guy.

And his son, complete with mid-1990s Mariners baseball hat.

In 1998.

I kid you not. I have not seen a hat like that in years!

Dad here has this perpetually confused look, but then again, Adam just randomly shows up next to him while he shops. I’d make faces like this too, if I were him.

Speaking of which, what is this G.A.M.E.S. Process Adam must learn?


G.A.M.E.S. Process



More Information

Encourage Add-On Sales

Saying Goodbye, and Thanks for Coming in!

Will Adam successfully learn the process?

You’ll find out when you watch…

That Crazy FuncoLand Training Video!

So go on, click play, The Game Master is waiting for YOU!

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And there you have it, another walk though employee training in its finest moments. They don’t make employee training videos like they used to. I’d say this was the end life of those “so great they’re terrible” training videos, but Game Crazy was a few years away from jumping into the waters FuncoLand was already swimming in.  Barely. Because GameStop was ready to catch them in their net.

I hate when a business I write about is effectively not longer in existence. But I love the cheesiness of training videos!

Anyone else think Mr. Simmons enjoyed his role a little too much?

Do You Have the Mad Skills To Work At Game Crazy?

Let me ask you a different question: Are you…game crazy enough to work in video game retail?

Ha, see what I did there?!

You clicked “Read More,” so obviously you’re either intrigued or a masochist. It’s ok, I’m a little bit of both myself.

After all, I do watch training videos like they’re awesome enough for Retroist articles.

(Related Reading: That time I sat through Montgomery Ward’s Loss Prevention Training Video)

Game Crazy: That Other Video Game Store

When I was a kid/teenager/college student, the top video game stores in my area were Game Stop and Electronics Botique. Oh, and there was Toys R Us, Best Buy, Target, Wal-Mart (ick), and Circuit City. Lots of options for game buying. Heck, my mall had two Electronics Botique locations – the upper level, and the lower level. No, the store was not two floors, they actually had two separate locations. I’m serious.

Seriously. I am. Serious.


There were plenty of retail outlets to purchase games, but to rent them, my local video store sufficed. From 2003 until 2005, I worked as a cashier at a local mom and pop (you know the type of place, they always had an adult section), and I rented Game Cube, Playstation 2, and XBox games to bratty kids. At the beginning of my time there, we still had Nintendo 64 and Playstation games, though we phased those out to the Point of Sale racks.

In my time there, and the years both before and after, I’d never heard of a store called Game Crazy. In fact, I managed to get to 2016 without hearing of such a store…until I spotted an episode of The Spoony Experiment, where Noah Antwiler riffed (though “ripped” is a better descriptor) his way through a training video for a store called Game Crazy.

Unfortunately, I can only associate the store with what I saw in the training video, and um…yeah, there’s a reason the store didn’t last.

Ok, aside from competition.

The 411 On Game Crazy

Game Crazy existed within the Hollywood Video universe (located within or adjacent to their stores), based in Wilsonville, Oregon, and a subsidiary of Movie Gallery. The concept of Game Crazy was to sell new and used games, consoles, and peripherals, as well as host gaming tournaments. You know, it works like your standard Game Stop, except well, they dared to be different by having a “Try Before You Buy” policy. Isn’t that what renting games was for?

Game Crazy’s downfall came from over-saturation of the market (read: they had competition!), with Movie Gallery filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection in November 2007. In September 2009, the announcement came that 200 of the 680 operating Game Crazy stores would close. By April 2010, with its doom in sight, Movie Gallery, Hollywood Video and Game Crazy filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, and began winding down business by May.

As for Game Crazy, the brand was relaunched as a gaming blog, but ceased to update since October 2014.

Check out the site, it looks nice!

Let’s Go Game Crazy

Dearly beloved, we gathered here today, to get through this thing called…Allison trying to be creative with song lyrics.

(Organ response)

Actually, the only thing you’re going to get through is this thing called …The Game Crazy Training Video. That’s not the official title, but it works.

Contained within this journey to effective salesmanship (or, “The Keys To the Game”) are your two “Not Ready for ESPN Players”…

And the most offensive training video co-host EVER!

And by “offensive,” she offends Ebonics/Hip Hop Speak.

I wish I was kidding!

Seriously, I’d kid about this, but I can’t. Because I’ve sat through this twice, and sadly, I’m convinced it gets more and more offensive each time.

So, whenever you’re ready, click play and go Game Crazy over the keys to the effective selling of video games, consoles, and peripherals!

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Hopefully, you didn’t go Game Crazy over the craziness of it all!

Bomb-diggity and BOO-YAH!

I think I’m going a bit…Game Crazy!

Oh, and if you want to see the riff that introduced me to this whole Game Crazy madness, I highly recommend checking out Noah Antwiler (aka “Spoony” from The Spoony Experiment) riff the heck out of it!  (Warning: The video does contain strong language of the infrequent sort).

Have You Heard Tris Imboden’s Chicago Story?

“As many of you have already heard, our long-time drummer Tris Imboden has resigned. For nearly thirty years Tris has shared his tremendous talent, and indeed his life, with Chicago. We are fortunate to have known him and grateful to have shared the stage with him these many years. He has been a great friend and band mate and we’ll miss his enthusiasm and contagious smile. We wish Tris and Mary a lifetime of happiness together.” – Statement from Chicago’s website

The Chicago Shakeup

I logged onto YouTube yesterday to find a response to a comment I made on a Chicago performance video that vocalist and bassist Jeff Coffey left the group. His leaving comes after only joining the group full time in October 2016 (he initially filled in for Scheff during his leave of absence in mid-2016), but also two days after another shakeup in the group.

As the statement says, after twenty-eight years of drumming and flashing a smile that says “I love my job” (and not in the fake way people who actually hate their job smile), Tris Imboden resigned from the group. His recent marriage and the rigorous travel and touring schedule were cited as his reasons. While this makes me sad, the decision was obviously for great reason, thus proving that we haven’t seen the last of Tris Imboden’s talent.

What we have seen the last of, however, is this.

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1990: The Summer Without A Tour

Tris Imboden’s Chicago story begins long before his arrival in 1990 – he saw the group perform as an opening act in 1968 (remember, they were new at the time!), and he loved their music immediately. Imboden’s talents took him to the Kenny Loggins Band (yes, that  Kenny Loggins), as well as Al Jureau, among other talents. The summer of 1990 saw Tris without either band he toured with going on tour that summer. The opportunity he was given was hard to pass up, and the rest, as they say, is history. For Tris Imboden, it was a twenty-eight-year journey that even his battle with Stage 3A Lung Cancer couldn’t put to an end.

Would You Like To Hear Tris’s Chicago Story?

I think the better question is: Would you like to hear Tris tell you about his career both before AND with Chicago?

I uploaded his excerpts from the mini-documentary The New Guys, filmed in 2014 and included as a bonus feature on the Blu-Ray of Now More Than Ever: The History of Chicago.

Go on, check it out (click his name below the picture), and also witness Tris’s mad harmonica skills!

The New Guys – Tris Imboden (Upload to WordPress via Allison’s Written Words)

Excerpts: 1968, Being A Musician in the 1970s, Joining Chicago, and 1990

Thanks, Tris!

I said it on Twitter already (Chicago and Imboden both “liked” my tweet), but I’ll say it again: This author wishes Tris Imboden all the best in his future successes. His time with Chicago was amazing, and his talent will be missed!

(And this was before Chicago liked the tweet!)

Did You Clean Your VCR With A VCR Head Cleaner?

If you loved and valued your VCR, you definitely used a VCR Head Cleaner! Or the Powers That Be/Ad Wizards want you to believe that!

Strange Nostalgia: Happy Accidents vs. Intentionally Recorded Strange Nostalgia

It never ceases to amaze me just how much strange and unusual nostalgia exists on the interwebs. Much of these awesome VHS finds come out of happy accidents, where the responsible person/people just happened to be recording on a seemingly normal day. That describes my archives.

Then there’s the intentionally recorded strange nostalgia – a found item someone with a VCR transfers to digital media. For evidence of intentionally strange recorded nostalgia, refer to my article on Laderdisc “Dead Sides.”

And say hi to Laserdisc Turtle while you visit!

Also categorized as intentionally recorded strange nostalgia? VHS Head Cleaners!

*Rubs hands together and laughs*

VHS Head Cleaner Tapes

It never ceases to amaze me the types of accessories one could buy to optimize home entertainment equipment: cleaners, special remotes, and sound systems. Items to optimize performance, confusion, and sound quality. Separate VHS rewinders extended the life of your VCR.

Chances are, you owned a VCR peripheral. I did!

VHS Head Cleaner tapes looked like standard videocassettes, but served the purpose of cleaning your VCR’s critical parts (video heads, head drums, audio heads, pinch roller, and capstan), thus enhancing videocassette quality and extending the life of a VCR. My parents owned one (in addition to one of those VHS Rewinders), and while ours was just snow on a screen, many have visuals and test the VCR’s other functions. There are dry head cleaners (the type with the visuals), and wet head cleaners.

Anyway, for the purpose of demonstration, I’ve found an ample collection of VHS Head Cleaners in action on YouTube.

Hey, someone puts these up because people like me want to watch!

Maxell VCR Head Cleaner (VP-100)

First up, Guy that Gets Blown Away By the Power of Maxell…Head Cleaners!

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And then there’s the VCR Head Cleaner that floods your living room with cheesy graphics and fish tank awesomeness!

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By the way, you’ve gotta put on headphones for this one.  Did you notice something about the audio test? ;-)

Scotch VCR Head Cleaner

1995 version:

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Let Scotch take you to clean VCR heads…IN SPACE!

And for those minimalists and early 1990s computer voice lovers in the audience…

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BASF VCR Head Cleaner

1990s, Computer-voice esque, and European? Sign me up!

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Stop eject! Stop eject!

JVC VCR Head Cleaner (With Wonder Dog!)

Meet JVC’s video game mascot, Wonder Dog, star of his own Sega Mega CD video game…Wonder Dog! He’s here to save the day…from built-up dust inside VCRs!

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“Cleaning of both audio and video head is now going on.”

Hurry Up and Press STOP!

I noticed a common thread with the VCR Head Cleaner cassettes – the mad rush the voiceover has to get us to stop the tape. Obviously, not stopping the tape immediately doesn’t cause the VCR to blow up, but in 1992, we were terrified of the repercussions of not stopping the cassette immediately.

Terrifying as a kid? You bet! Weird and dated now? Most definitely!

VCR Head Cleaners Still Exist!

Unlike most of the weird things I write about, VCR Head Cleaners STILL EXIST! That’s right, they still EXIST!

Which leads me to believe one thing: I’m not the only person who owns a working VCR!


Please tell me this was manufactured last year!

And the boxes look nostalgia-riffic! The companies even cater to the nostalgics in all of us!

Because let’s face it – we’re a generation of people who keep our VCRs so we can buy videocassettes that blast tones that represent “cleaning” and holler at us to remove them immediately, for the love of everything holy, REMOVE!

VCR Head Cleaner: Now hollering at you in different languages!

(From Allison: This author especially loves and hates ‘Stop’ – it reminds me that the word didn’t translate, but that other language misuse quotes too!)

Nor’Easter With a Temper: Remembering the Blizzard of 1996

I’m looking out my window, seeing the melting aftermath of last week’s winter storm/Bomb Cyclone. His name? Grayson. His temper? Fierce and impactful. All told, snowfall totals were between fifteen and seventeen hard-hitting and widespread inches. But, Grayson had nothing on the Blizzard of 1996.

January 1996

January 1996 marked the halfway point of the school year. I was in seventh grade, and January meant preparing for midterm exams – the first time my classmates and I would be taking them. January would be review time for the exams.

School ended that week, and my parents took my brother and myself out for dinner (we did this every Friday), and to the video store for video game rentals. Your typical Friday night.

It Wasn’t Snowing When I Went To Bed…

January 6, 1996 was a normal Saturday for me. I got up early to go to my routine Saturday morning babysitting job, came home for lunch, and had a friend over. My parents groccery shopped for the post-Christmas family party we were hosting the next day. Until that point in my life (all thirteen years of it!), I hadn’t witnessed any huge snow storms in our area, so we weren’t worried about a little snow. It was already snowing in Washington, D.C. that evening, but we thought nothing of it.

I distinctly recall it not snowing when I went to bed that night, and this forecast isn’t exactly full of spoiler alerts…

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January 7th and 8th, 1996: The Blizzard of 1996

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You may remember him from Good Morning America, but for most of my life, Sam Champion was my local meteorologist. :-)

The next two days yielded heavy snow and wind. Now, a Nor’easter is common in this area (this recent storm was a Nor’easter, and we had a rain-type Nor’easter last January), but a snow event Nor’easter is a Nor’easter on steroids. I’ve always been fascinated by meteorologists saying that if a rain Nor’easter were to be a snowstorm, we’d wind up with a ridiculous amount of snow. I recall the year of Hurricane Sandy that if we’d had snow instead of rain, we would have had five feet of snow.

Can you imagine?!

The Weather Channel: (spoken with monotone) No. No I cannot. I’ll let my huge snowflake paint a picture for you.

I grew up in Southern New Jersey, in an area serviced by both the Philadelphia, PA and New York City media markets. When all was said and done, Philadelphia topped out at approximately 30.7 inches, with New York City topping out at between 20 and 30 inches (depending on where you lived). I grew up in Southern Ocean County, where we had two feet of snow (if you lived along the coast in the same county, you escaped with 10-14 inches).

The repercussions of the Blizzard of 1996 were bad for New Jersey. Roads (including the New Jersey Turnpike for the first time in history) closed, schools shut down for the entire week (including mine), and the snow stuck around for a bit. And from what I recall the roads were bad. When we’ve had snowstorms in the past (and even ones we’ve had in more recent years), life only shuts down for one day. This time, the impact was far-reaching and widespread.

I’ve never seen anything like it since.

All told, we missed five days of school, plus a sixth for the observance of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.

“Extreme” Impact

The Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale rated the Blizzard of 1996 at “5,” or “Extreme.” The only other storm to receive this distinction is the March Superstorm of 1993. I didn’t recall this storm, but after looking it up, I found out we weren’t impacted by it. The storm resulted in 154 people killed, $1 billion in damage, and nine “disaster area” states.

Once my school reopened, the midterms were a week away, and were postponed due to the lost week.  I don’t recall much about that school year or week standing out, but I found out later on that the school stopped building snow days into the calendar, citing that “we didn’t use them.”

They never did build them in, at least, not while I was still going to school. We also never had a snowstorm quite like it between that time and high school graduation in 2001.

I’ll leave you with another highlight of WABC’s coverage of the storm…

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…as well as the Weather Channel’s Local Forecast for Philadelphia.

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