Did you own any Pac-Man Collectible Arcade Figures?

Back when Pac-Mania was sweeping the nation, the Pac-Man marketing machine was in full swing. Cranking out quality items like coloring books, t-shirts, flying discs, kites, sneakers and of course “action” figures. While not exactly the perfect toyline for the figure collector who liked to tell stories when they played with their toys, these plastic gems gave me hours of pleasure.

I only had three of them, but I think they were the good three to have. The Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man and Blinky figures. While I probably could have scored the other three I didn’t find their theme very compelling. Maybe Mr. and Mrs. Pac-Man would make a good cake topper at a wedding, but I am not sure about the Pac-Angel. Is that what we think Pac-Man turns into whenever he gets nabbed by a ghost? Are you supposed to put it on top of a Christmas Tree? If they wanted me to be able to play with it they needed a true counterpoint to make it interesting. Maybe a Pac-Devil? That way Pac-Angel and Pac-Devil could be locked in an epic struggle for Pac-Mans Pac-Soul. Even now when I see Pac-Angel, I cannot bring myself to pick him up. The kid in me still doesn’t know what to do with him.

For a very long time, you could pick these figures up at garage sales and flea markets for a decently low price, but like many things retro, the price has gone up dramatically recently. So expect to spend about 20+ bucks for one still in package and about half that or more for ones out of the package in decent shape.


The Magical World of View-Master Lite-Up Light Toys

Do you remember your first glow stick? I got mine one fine Halloween in the 1980’s and to say I was fascinated with it would be an understatement. My Mother had bought it for me for “safety reasons”. Something I could wear around my neck while out Trick or Treating at night and not get run over by car. I fell in love with it as soon as I cracked it open and I remember staring at it as I fell asleep that night. In the morning it had died, but a new light had been sparked and over the years I would purchase many a glow stick and other off-brand chemical light up things for myself.

While I was fine with just the sticks, View-Master took glow sticks up a notch when they released their Lite-Up Light Toys. The premise was simple, but effective. Take everyday toys and attach a glow stick to them. So toys that you could normally only enjoy in the light of day took on a magical ghostly green hue when you combined them with the power of the glow stick and could be used at night. They had three solid offerings: a parachute, a ball and the best of the lot, the Frisbee. That is the one I remember getting the most joy out of, even though it was difficult to throw and just plain boring without the glow stick.

Every Halloween I still find myself picking up a glow stick when I see them at a pharmacy or supermarket, but summer is fast approaching and for some reason I am feeling nostalgic for the View-Master Lite-Up Light Toys. Maybe it is time to try to dig up a Frisbee and wow all the people at the park at night with that beautiful Lite-Up flying disc.


Captain Cold vs. Superman and Superman Hot Cocoa Mix

I have always been more of a Marvel reader, but I am aware of the relative strengths of the various DC superheroes. Because of this, I have a hard time believing that Captain Cold would think that he could use any of his freeze weapons on him and think they would work. It just defies logic.

Superman dispatches cold with ease and then has these kids on his hands. So does he take them and fly rapidly to freedom? Does he use his heat vision to warm things up? No, he takes his time to serve two piping hot mugs of cocoa made from Superman Hot Cocoa. This bit of product placement is flagrant misuse of Superman’s power and comes across as low-class. Every superhero knows that first you rescue the kids and bring them straight home to their parents. Then you do a quick round of photo-ops and maybe sign some autographs. Only after that is done, do you get their address and promise to send over some special Superswag. Which is where you include the Super Cocoa and other co-branded products.

This was the 1980’s and they were a simpler time, but marketing departments existed back then. An icon like Superman could have really used some brand management. These type of incidents is exactly why Superman’s popularity has fluctuated so wildly in the last few decades. It is very difficult to take the person seriously when they are just going to peddle free samples of their product afterwards.


Retroist Podcast – Episode 199 – BJ and the Bear

On today’s show, I talk about the classic TV show trucking with a chimp comedy, “BJ and the Bear”. I start off talking about my experience with CB Radio and how it became a bit of an obsession. Then I talk about this amazing TV show. I talk about the people who helped make the show, the stars of the show, including that beautiful truck and even more beautiful chimp, the attempted spin-offs, the crossovers, the theme music, where you can find the show today, and much more.

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Frozen Pizza Advertising was Pretty Intense in the Sixties

This gem for Jeno’s Frozen Pizza was put together by the great Stan Freburg in the late sixties and at over a minute it is a fairly epic piece of advertising. In it, a husband rushes into home, kicking in the door, he immediately starts discussing pizza. Which is not all that weird, it is how I prefer to make an entrance. But he isn’t here to talk about just any pizza. He is here to talk about frozen pizza. And not just any frozen pizza, but Jeno’s Frozen Pizza. The whole ad is an over the top farce that reminds me of the Airplane! films with its wordplay and non-stop weird silliness.

If the actors in this commercial look familiar, you probably watch a lot of old TV. The wife is played by Joyce Jameson, who in addition to doing some great cartoon voice work, also had a recurring role on The Andy Griffith Show. The husband, played by Richard “Dick” Peabody who not only looks like a cross between Leonard Nimoy and Lee Marvin, but was also on the TV show Combat!, where he played Private First Class Littlejohn.


Tanaja, Her 8 tigers, and the Star Wars – Space Odyssey

As I have noted time and again, the internet is a magical place. One day you can be browsing for information about goat-unicorns and find a publication that you never knew existed that will be completely absorbing. For me this happened last month when I was looking for information on the famous circus “Unicorn” from the eighties, when I stumbled upon a periodical called, “The Circus Report“. The last modern issue I could find was from February of 2014, but I wasn’t interested in 2014, I was interested in the 1980’s and once I started reading it, my interest went back further and I started reading through the entire publication history online.

The Circus Report is filled with gems, but today I would like to direct your attention to the review of the Royal Hanneford Circus from 1978. The Royal Hanneford, which has been around since 1609 in one form or another, is still around today, but I doubt they will ever recapture what I can only imagine was the most amazing moment in circus history.

That year…

The Great Humberto ascended the slant wire to descend in his famous “Slide for Life” followed by a fanciful Star Wars – Space Odyssey setting which introduced Tanaja and her 8 tigers.

Now I cannot find any other mentions of this tiger filled Star Wars – Space Odyssey, which almost makes it better since I can fill in the blanks myself. Just picture it…

Fog rolls across the floor of the circus tent as the lights dim and several shadowy majestic cats of incredible size are assembled around the ring. Suddenly the lights come up and the music of John Williams blares. All eight of these mighty tigers are attired in Star Wars costume sand begin a short but coherent reenactment of Star Wars. This epic performance includes lightsaber battles, clowns hamming it up as stormtroopers and of course and epic Death Star trench run featuring a tiger walking a fiery high wire.

I know this all sounds impossible, but in my mind, it is exactly what happened and it was glorious.

This is a long shot, but did anyone see this Star Wars – Space Odyssey? Do you remember the details? I would be so happy to hear that they had a tiger dressed like Chewbacca. Any artists out there care to speculate on what this might have looked like?


In the Eighties, I had a serious Steak-Umm Addiction

Like many people, when I find a food I enjoy, I want to eat it all the time. Nowadays, I realize that what I am going to get in the “home” version, will never be as good as what I get out. So, I usually just stick to basics and make those foods a real treat when I go out. When I was a kid, I wanted it all. If pizza was good out, why couldn’t I find a decent pizza to make at home? Or why couldn’t I make a homemade cheese steak whenever I wanted one? Because of this, I spend a surprising amount of my childhood savings on food. Occupying a surprisingly large percentage of my discretionary spending (along side video games, comics books and toys).

Steak-Umms were a favorite of mine. While they had been around since the late sixties in some form or another, the modern Steak-Umm really took off when it was bought by H.J. Heinz in 1980. Now I could get the best part of Philadelphia without actually going there and that made me happy as all get out. Naturally my cheese steaks were nothing like what you could get at a restaurant. I usually cooked up a Steak-Umm or two, popped some american cheese on it and served it on white bread sandwich style. Because it felt like something I shouldn’t be able to eat at home, it tasted extra special.

While I don’t buy Steak-Umms all the time, I still feel the need every once in a while and will pick up a box. These days I will pick up a proper piece of bread to serve it on, but I still prefer american cheese when I steak a Steak-Umm in my mouth.

So what got me all fired up for Steak-Umms today? It was this commercial that I found online. It is not the famous jingle version that I can still sing-a-long with, but is instead a more low-key “jokey” commercial that is wonderfully eighties in tone and style. Enjoy and then go get yourself a Steak-Umm.