Bantha Tracks-Sprocket Systems: Distinctive by Design

Back in the 80s, the official Star Wars fan club sent out a quarterly newsletter called Bantha Tracks. This one was unique in the sense that it was a playable record. (Yes, a paper-thin record located inside the magazine.) Sprocket Systems was the Lucasfilm sound department, headed by the famous Ben Burtt, and what we now know as Skywalker Sound. The name was officially changed when their office of operations moved from San Anselmo, Ca. to Skywalker Ranch in Marin County, Ca. in 1987.

This 34th issue is known as the special Soundsheet Edition, and is a very rare and unique look into the sound design dept. of Lucasfilm at the time. This was released in the Autumn of 1986, during a time when Star Wars had already (essentially) fallen off the map. The Kenner toys had since been discontinued, as with the Droids and Ewoks cartoon TV series, and even the Marvel comic run. There were no immediate plans for another film, and the interest of the general public had waned. Star Wars had entered what I like to call its “Dark Times”, where the only time you’d really hear mention of it (outside of geek circles) was in reference to the home video releases. So it’s probably safe to assume that the official fan club didn’t have as many members on their mailing list by the time this was released. However, this issue wasn’t JUST about Star Wars. This company had already worked on MANY other films, and has since achieved iconic status within the film industry. This was the only issue to feature such a clever gimmick, but maybe they had plans to releases more soundsheets had the interest been there. Who knows, but this is a really fun look back at what was going on at post-Star Wars Lucasfilm in 1986.

I uploaded this directly from the issue from my personal collection, and it is complete with all those wonderful “pops” and “clicks” that only those of us old enough to remember records can appreciate. (Oh, the irony of a record album about sound design that doesn’t have “perfect” sound quality!) I also took the liberty of uploading scans of the actual magazine pages so you can read about it while listening. (Albeit much more condensed than the usual Bantha Tracks issue.) Now, grab yourself a glass of blue milk, sit back and enjoy this 6 minutes of nostalgic bliss.

Worth noting is the fact that this was the second to last issue of Bantha Tracks. The Fan Club later reappeared in magazine form as the Lucasfilm Fan Club in the Autumn of 1987. If you already didn’t feel old yet, here’s a link to a scanned, downloadable version of that first issue.
Bantha Tracks

Oh…and since i’m sharing links to scanned, vintage magazine issues, here’s one that features EVERY issue of Bantha Tracks for your viewing pleasure. You’re welcome!

Rogue One

Check Out The Rogue One…VHS Trailer?!

When Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hit theaters in December of 2016. It kind of became a big deal. Like over a billion dollars worth of a big deal in fact at the box office. Of course it was easy to see why, a likeable collection of rascals. As well as being an entertaining movie that helped to give a backstory to the events of 1977’s Star Wars.

[Via] Star Wars

Now for myself I absolutely enjoyed this different, grittier look at the Star Wars universe. Having said that I would certainly not want every single new film in the franchise to echo this type of tale. I found Rogue One to be not only thrilling but a moving story of hope. I would point out that in addition to its message of hope it included the awesome new character that is Admiral Raddus. Of course as I have demonstrated in past posts – I am rather partial to the Mon Calamari.
Rogue One - Admiral Raddus

Read: You Can’t Repel Cosplay Of That Magnitude!

Overall I felt that Rogue One managed to capture a little of the feel of the original Star Wars. That was helped and occasionally…hindered…by unexpected cameos. However with the film available right this minute on digital with DVD and Blu-Ray expected to hit shelves on April 4th. An enterprising artist, Damien Kazan, decided to put together a trailer.
Rogue One

A trailer I should add that looks like it was released in the early days of VHS trailers. If you have not seen the film for yourself yet, there are some things that might be considered SPOILERS!

I want to thank the one and only Daniel XIII, for the heads up on this fan trailer for Rogue One. After watching it I felt I needed to share it with you all – hopefully it will give your day a little boost.

How close was the Rogue One VHS trailer to the original Star Wars home trailer?


Thanks to Plains Video you can see for yourself. I can recall seeing a similar running announcement at a local video store of my youth!

Alien Commercial

Celebrate Atari Day With This 1982 Alien Commercial For The Atari 2600!

On Earth, everyone can hear you scream when you watch this Alien commercial for the Atari 2600. Screams of joy at viewing a vintage television advertisement I might add. It is once again the 26th of the month, which means it is Atari Day. That single moment of every month when we gather to celebrate the many things that make Atari stand out. With the upcoming Alien: Covenant I felt this would be a great time to share the 1982 Alien commercial.

[Via] Magnetic Tape Head

I will admit that Alien commercial was certainly short. However I think I should point out though it captured some of the atmosphere of 1979 film. Not just with the iconic egg of course. But if you listen closely they also used some of the otherworldly and haunting sounds from the 1979 trailer itself.

[Via] Movieclips Trailers

For myself I wasn’t able to get my hands on Alien back in 1982. I found a copy of the game at a garage sale a couple of years after it’s original release. I think it is safe to say that Alien on the 2600 is a Pac-Man clone. Okay. It’s totally a rip-off of Pac-Man if we are being completely honest.

[Via] World of Longplays

Having said that, I will admit I like the game. It might be a clone of Pac-Man but it has a few worthy additions. In particular the flame thrower that can chase off the Xenomorphs hot on your trail or stun them in some cases.
Alien Commercial

Of course the Retroist has a slightly different memory of playing the game.

Read: A Review of Alien for the Atari 2600

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and celebrate Atari Day!

Image courtesy of Atari I/O’s Facebook page.


To learn even more about the fun of Atari Day be sure to hop on over and check out fellow Retroist writer Atari I/O’s site by following the link hhere!

Absolutely Annie

Absolutely Annie Clothing from Sears

When Annie was released in 1982, it was a big deal. This was a big budget film based on the hit Broadway musical and long running comic. My sisters were both big fans of Annie. Not only did they see the film, but followed along with the production, a lot of which was in New Jersey. The film might not have been the hit that Hollywood hoped, but memories of its release and hype would float around my family home for decades. One piece of ephemera that my sisters must have missed was anything related to the Absolutely Annie Clothing from Sears. Someone was nice enough to post it on Reddit today.

This was a clothing line based on the fashions of the Annie character in the film. The rest of the clothing is simple Annie-themed. They also had Annie dolls, sheets and bedding.

This seems like a missed opportunity. Perhaps if they had gone with the other fashions choices from the film, orphan-chic could have become a trend.

Above you see an ad for the Absolutely Annie clothing line. It is so optimistic. It states right at the top that, “Annie opens to rave reviews.” Than goes to explain a little bit about the film and its star. So you better be ready for the Absolutely Annie collection coming in June.

Now if the film had already opened to rave reviews and it opened in June. How is the Absolutely Annie collection, which is also premiering in June, not yet available? I am guessing they are just assuming Annie is going to be a hit and open to rave reviews.

Neither of those things were true. It opened to mixed reviews from critics and made just $57 million dollars on a $50 million dollar budget. It was a top 10 film for 1982, but nowhere near what was expected.

Still, I enjoyed the film a lot and I imagine if I was a little curly-headed redhead, I would have leaned hard into this release. That would have been my moment to shine.

Interested in more Annie? Watch this great behind the scenes feature.

3D printed TRON Bit

Get your own 3D printed TRON Bit

In the original TRON film, Bit is a fascinating but often overlooked character. A digital creation, Bit was probably the first completely computer-generated character. Bit was simple and adorable. So naturally I fell in love with the character. We have digital assistants that are much more capable than Bit, but they don’t scratch that itch. So I have been looking at picking up a 3D printed TRON Bit. Not only did a find one, but a host of them.

Listen to the Retroist TRON Podcast

I was rewatching the underrated TRON Legacy recently and I was reminded of Bit from a scene where we see models of them in Kevin Flynn’s home. Seeing them all shiny and physical made me want my own. A quick search online and I found a few options. The first were these papercraft Bits. They look cool, but I am not very good with paper. And I would prefer something I could hold in my hand and play around with. So I decided to look for a 3D printed TRON Bit option.

Bit is only capable of yes or no answer. So it has three states, yes, no and idle. All 3 are available from 3D print marketplace, Shapeways. They would make a wonderful addition to any desk or shelf. You could even put them in a bag or cup and draw them randomly to get a quick answer to any question. Be warned when browsing Shapeways, you will be tempted by many wondrous TRON creations. This Recognizer is calling to me. Don’t even get me started on their 3D printed dice.

3D Printed Tron Bit Yes

3D Printed Tron Bit No

3D Printed Tron Bit Idle

For those of you who have not seen this remarkable creation in action. Here is bit doing his computer-generated thing all the way back in 1982.

Watch this Bit scene from the original TRON