Strange Change

It Was Time For A Change With 1967’s Strange Change Toy!

Mattel’s 1967’s Strange Change toy was designed for all would-be mad scientists. The sad fact of the matter for myself however is that I was born a little too late to see this on the toy shelves. Furthermore I didn’t even know about the Strange Change time machine until just a few months back.
Strange Change

I was creating a post for the Saturday Frights Facebook Page, looking up some vintage monster toys. Which is of course how I happened upon an article from Boing Boing. I didn’t waste any time attempting to find a TV commercial, so I might see the toy in action.

[Via] Muttley 16

A couple of things spring to mind after watching that commercial. In the first place, they would never make this toy today. As the Strange Change time machine unit was capable of extreme heat. That is how the Time Capsule is able to reveal the creature hidden within.

Not to mention the need for the included tweezers so that children could safely handle their newly freed beastie. The range of creatures appear to have been everything from robots, monsters, and dinosaurs.

Of course the Lost World was the focus of the Strange Change machine. So naturally dinosaurs were the focus.

When a young mad scientist was finished with their discovery. They would place the creature back into the Expansion Chamber, so it would warm up. Then, using the tweezers of course, they would stuff it into the Compression Chamber. Cranking the heavy metal handle to squeeze it back into a Time Capsule.

Image courtesy of Boing Boing.

I have looked on eBay and the prices for a working toy…are very expensive. While the Strange Change machine was only on the market for a year. It appears that in this case it was a well built toy. And while I am saddened that I probably won’t be playing with one in the near future. At the very least I can take some small amount of comfort that I was around for the Mad Scientist Monster Lab!

Read: The Mad Scientist Monster Lab

Where's Barb

Have You Ordered Your Copy Of Stranger Things “Where’s Barb”?

Most fans of Netflix’s Stranger Things would naturally agree that Millie Bobby Brown was the breakout star. Her performance as Eleven certainly blew us fans away and that is fact. In addition however I will claim that Shannon Purser’s role of Barb is Stranger Things most memorable character.
Where's Barb

I would say that in addition to a great character, it was Purser’s bittersweet performance, that has garnered such fans. So much so that I am quite excited to announce that those geniuses at ThinkGeek have released a new book. Patterned after the global phenomenon of Where’s Waldo line of object-finding puzzle books. Where’s Barb? gives us a Stranger Thing’s twist!

Where's Barb

Where’s Barb? images courtesy of ThinkGeek.



Here is what ThinkGeek has to say about Where’s Barb?:
“The 1980s hold a lot of great childhood memories for us. It was a time when phones were still tethered to our wood-paneled walls. A time of Choose Your Own Adventure books. Of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Of Cabbage Patch Kids and Trivial Pursuit. And in the late 80s, we were introduced to a phenomenon known as “Where’s Waldo?”

It seems only right that a series which so effectively evoked the atmosphere of the 80s, Netflix’s Stranger Things, would team up with the creators of Where’s Waldo to produce this crossover, Where’s Barb? Search the little town of Hawkins for Barbara Holland. Maybe she’s studying with Nancy. Wait. Why’s her car a couple of blocks from Steve’s house? The police are pretty sure she just ran away. But is that her Trapper Keeper peeking out from under that bush? We promise searching for Barb will be hours of fun for the whole family!

I direct you to any of the ThinkGeek links if you too feel like ordering a copy of Where’s Barb?

Of course you crafty folks already know this is but an April Fool’s Day joke. However, this is ThinkGeek, so you can in fact hop on over and vote for it to become a real product. Not only that but also you might want to check out the Bicycle Horn of Gondor first…of course you can vote for both! In other words, share this with your friends so we can get Where’s Barb? actually made!

Popeye

Toon In: Popeye – Cookin’ With Gags (1955)

Welcome back, friends, to a new Toon In. This week we have Popeye the Sailor in a 1955 Associated Artists Production short entitled Cookin’ With Gags. An appropriate selection I think you will certainly agree as today is April 1st.

When I was growing up, I would watched quite a bit of A.A.P. Popeye cartoons. Whiling way the hours until it was time to race down to the bus stop. This was possible in fact thanks to the block programming by TBS in the early 80s.

Besides the likes of Popeye, that TBS block of cartoons would generally include Looney Tunes. As well as the King Features Syndicate characters Krazy Kat, Beetle Bailey, and even Snuffy Smith and Barney Google.

[Via] Angel Casusol

I think you Toon In fans might find it interesting that both Snuffy and Barney, were voiced by none other than Paul Frees. Of course you should recognize Paul’s distinct voice from his work on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show and myriad Rankin/Bass specials. Of course he was also well known for voicing animated features and shorts for Walt Disney!

Read: Mars And Beyond (1957)

I apologize, friends. As usual I have let my train of thought run away with me. In our offering today, we find Popeye attempting to remain calm while attending a picnic with Bluto and Olive Oyl. The pranks range from the common industrial spring on an axe.
Popeye

To the addition of pouring gasoline on an open flame.

While it may indeed be April Fools Day, there is however only so much a Sailor Man can take. Will Popeye be able to thwart Bluto with a prank of his own? Furthermore will Olive Oyl see that she is being rather mean to our favorite Sailor Man? Toon In and let’s find out together!

[Via] Just For Fun

Empire Pictures

Are You Prepared For The Empire Pictures Blu-Ray Collection?

The early 80’s Empire Pictures was formed a mere five years before Charles Band created another legendary film company. Full Moon Features. Band is responsible for many cult favorite films like Puppet Master, From Beyond, Dolls, and Trancers. Which in fact started at Empire Pictures before being brought over to Full Moon.

[Via] Cinedigm

I have fond memories of many of the films from both companies. Which is why I was quite overjoyed to receive the press release about the upcoming Empire Pictures blu-ray collection. Gathering 15 films on 14 blu-rays and 1 DVD. This collection offers an impressive selection of 1980’s gems…and some that aren’t gems of course.
Empire Pictures

  • Metalstorm
  • Metalstorm (3-D Version)
  • The Dungeonmaster
  • Ghoulies
  • Ghoulies 2
  • Trancers
  • Elimnators
  • Crawlspace
  • From Beyond
  • Terrorvision
  • Troll
  • Dolls
  • Prison
  • Cellar Dweller
  • Catacombs
  • Ghost Town
  • Robot Jox
  • Arena

From the press release:
“Every horror and cult movie fan who came of age in the 1980s still speaks in hushed tones about the late, great Empire Pictures. Founded by Producer and Director Charles Band in 1983, the fabled studio and distributor was responsible for a tidal wave of amazing, imaginative and profitable horror, science fiction and fantasy films. Many of which have become definitive works and high water marks of their respective genres.

And though Band moved on in the early 1990s to form Full Moon Features – which is still operating successfully today – the wild movies he made during the Empire years continues to loom large.

Now, as a gift to the legion of rabid Empire fans out there, Band and Full Moon (in collusion with Shout! Factory) will release The Empire Pictures Blu-ray Collection, a massive LIMITED EDITION collection (only 600 are being produced) featuring 18 films on 15 discs packaged in a stunning, sturdy and elegant black collectors box adorned with a Gorgeous collage of original Empire poster art. Inside there will be an exclusive 24 page book with writing from Band, Empire of the B’s author Dave Jay and Delirium editor Chris Alexander. Each set will be numbered and signed by Charles Band.
Various special features and supplemental bonus material will be available on each disc.

The Empire Pictures Blu-ray Collection will sell for $250 US and will be officially released on May 5th with a pre-sale going live on April 28th at www.FullMoonDirect.com. These units will not be sold in stores and can only be purchased at www.FullMoonDirect.com. Select units will be available at fan conventions across the U.S. where the Full Moon crew is scheduled to appear and vend.”

I have to admit that this collection certainly sports a hefty price tag. But considering you are getting 18 films, I reckon that isn’t too horrible. In addition to the Empire Pictures blu-ray collection being a limited edition item. While you are making up your mind you might want to check out my review of one of the films in the collection.

Read: Crash And Burn With Robot Jox On Blu-Ray!

Invisible Monsters - Arcade Heroes

Check Out Invisible Monsters – The Lost Wizard Of Wor Arcade Prototype!

Invisible Monsters. That name shouldn’t ring any bells for fans of the Golden Age of Arcade games. Until just a few weeks ago in fact no one had heard of such an arcade title. Of course word spreads fast in classic gaming circles. Especially when it’s a rather groundbreaking find like with Invisible Monsters. An unknown 1980 prototype for Bally/Midway’s Wizard of Wor which was released in 1981!

[Via] Retro Gameplay

I must give all credit to the exceptional Arcade Heroes site. They are the ones that gave me the heads up on Invisible Monsters. In addition to supplying the image of the prototype at the top of the page.

I don’t think I can properly put into words how exciting this discovery truly is. There are of course a few differences between the prototype and Wizard of Wor. For one thing you have the designs used for the game’s marquee.

Invisible Monsters still sort of has the same art style but instead of the dastardly Wizard. The prototype appears to have focused on the digital avatar of the Player, known as a Worrior.
Invisible Monsters

In addition to the marquee, the maze itself is different in the prototype. It is larger in fact than the one presented in Wizard of Wor. The Worriors are slightly altered in Invisible Monsters as well. With the radar taking up more space at the bottom of the screen than in the 1981 release.

Now having mentioned a few of the minor differences I must point out some of the major ones. For one thing, in the Invisible Monsters prototype, there is no Wizard of Wor of course. Nor are there any variation of enemies beyond what would be called the Thorwor. The most obvious difference however between the prototype and the 1981 arcade classic is the absence of synthesized speech.

Invisible Monsters is certainly a rare find. One that sadly the majority of us arcade gaming fans will simply not be able to experience for ourselves. I am very thankful then the Mad Conservative has uploaded a nearly 20 minute long video showcasing the prototype!