Downfall - Milton Bradley

Did You Play Milton Bradley’s Downfall?

Downfall is a game of many names, friends. As well as being offered in many countries since it was first published in 1970. While I will certainly admit that I have no recollection of this particular game. The play mechanics have me absolutely captivated. Apparently it was picked up by Hasbro and is being produced today under the name New Downfall.

Downfall - New Downfall

The design might be a little different but the gameplay certainly remains the same.

While as you can plainly see from the box art, Downfall was a Milton Bradley game. I have however found a version by Whitman that definitely has the groovy vibe of the 1960s. Having said that this game was indeed released in 1970.
Downfall - Whitman - Front of Box
Downfall - Whitman

Now obviously Downfall is known by different names in other countries. Such as Nouveau Dix de Chute, Dix de Chute, Slotter, Cascadix, and Combi 5-2-5 to name a few. For myself though I am partial to the Dutch version of Onderuit! as well as it’s grim commercial!

[Via] The Toys Channel

That is some Hangman level of creepiness there, all it needed was Vincent Price, in place of the child. Now the point of Downfall is to take your ten numbered discs and get them to the bottom…in order. This is accomplished by turning one of the five dials on the “board”. Although each Player naturally cannot see the other side of the board, which means they have no clue if their opponent’s turn will hinder or aid them.

Downfall really seems to offer an amazing amount of strategy to the Players. I might have to keep my eyes peeled on eBay to add this game to my collection. Also of interest was how Milton Bradley made sure to show it was fun for the whole Family. With at least two different covers!
Downfall - Milton Bradley - Box B

Downfall - Box A

If I am being totally honest though, I truly love the Japanese version of Downfall by Whitman


Downfall - Whitman - Japanese

Now then, how about the German Commercial forDownfall aka Slotter? Definitely looks like there is a hesit going on!

[Via] Crazy Merch Lady

Inflatable Cylon Chair - Cylon Centurion

Remember The 1979 Inflatable Cylon Chair?!

First of all I will say this. As a kid I didn’t even remotely realize an inflatable Cylon chair had been made. Which is curious as one thing that immediately captured my attention on Battlestar Galactica were the Cylons. In fact we know the inflatable Cylon chair was made but more on that later.

[Via] NBC Classics

While I of course loved 1978’s Battlestar Galactica as a kid. I never obtained that many toys that were produced for the TV series. In all honesty there was another space epic whose toys I was contanstly clamoring for. Of course I am referring to Star Wars, naturally. However that doesn’t mean I didn’t keep any eye on the Battlestar Galactica toys when visiting our local stores. I certainly do not recall seeing any commercials or ads for the inflatable Cyclon chair though!

[Via] Gold Cylon

Now then, just the other day I was flipping through some old science fiction magazines. A fan of the arcade happened to bring them in, it was slow enough that I could flip through them while we talked. When I came across a little article on then upcoming toys being released featuring the Battlestar Galactica property, I did a double take. There in black and white was the image for the inflatable Cylon chair.
Inflatable Cylon Chair

On the other hand, a quick internet search didn’t exactly lead me to used chairs on eBay. Thankfully however another site had something to offer. That of course was the always knowledgeable Plaid Stallions site. Furthermore, Plaid Stallions offered a scan from a GLJ toy catalog. On the site it was explained that while the inflatable Cylon chair was indeed produced, they doubted the vehicles were made and the Cylon Centurion Bop Bag was released as a Shogun Warrior version.

Speaking of GLJ, the company responsible for the inflatable Cylon chair. They weren’t strangers to the marketing the likes of the Shogun Warriors. As is quite evident from this Great Mazinger watch.
Inflatable Cylon Chair - GLJ Shogun Warriors Watch

In addition they certainly produced inflatable chairs and Bop Bags for other famous licenses. Such as Raggedy Ann & Andy, in this case it was an inflatable love seat. Or for those future super-villains in training you could land a few punches on the Amazing Spider-Man!
Inflatable Cylon Chair - GLJ Raggedy Anne and Raggedy Andy

Inflatable Cyclon Chair - GLJ - The Amazing Spider Man Bop Bag

While I may not have been lucky enough to receive the inflatable Cylon chair in my youth. At least I can take comfort in obtaining a gold-colored Cylon Centurian Leader!


Inflatable Cylon Chair - Gold Cylon

Seriously though, I truly want to thank Plaid Stallions for the GLJ catalog page. Make sure you hop on over by clicking the link to check out even more products that were offered!

stay alive

Stay Alive the Board Game

Stay Alive was originally published by Milton Bradley in 1971. The idea of the game is pretty simple. You must “stay alive.” The game consists of a 7×7 grid with random holes and sliders. You place marbles in the sliders in positions that have no holes and then take turns sliding the sliders, hoping that slide your opponent’s marbles into one of the holes.

We had 3 games in my house growing up that two players could play easily. Stay Alive, Stratego and Battleship. Stay Alive was by far the most popular of the three. There was just something satisfying about the tension of the shifting and disappearing marbles. That combined with not needing to be too strategic, made it a perfect game for young people. It also explains why I was into the game much longer than my older sisters.

Another compelling reason to like Stay Alive? This commercials! This one starring Vincent Price is my favorite. Ominous in tone, the commercial is a pitch perfect match for Price and the goal of the game.

Stay Alive the Board Game Commercial with Vincent Price

Another one has a Lord of Flies vibe that is a pretty perfect match for the game as well.

Lord of the Flies Stay Alive Commercial


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hhm1zZAaFsQ

In 2005, Stay Alive was republished with a smaller board by Winning Moves Games USA. While it was nice to see the game back on the market, I found the smaller size and color scheme of this game reboot off-putting. This version of the game is no longer in production. So if you would like a copy, either 2005 or original recipe, you will need to check out the secondary market.

I encourage you to do so. Let’s face it, sometimes you don’t want to think too much, but still want to play a game. Now you can play a lot of other games, but I doubt they will match the novelty and tension of Stay Alive. Its a simple game, but can be hours of fun for 2-4 people.

You can find it for under $30 (shipping included) on eBay and even cheaper at Flea Markets and Garage Sales.

Do You Remember “The Christmas Toy”?

Well, if you forgot, then your previous Christmas toy (and toys) will be sad.

Timeless Treasures of Christmas

Some Christmas specials remain timeless treasures of years gone by, watched by several generations. The stories are timeless, the songs sung over and over again, and the word “classic” is bandied around. There are other specials that have the look, feel, and makings of a classic holiday tradition, only to mire in obscurity. These specials disappear after airing once, remembered by the children who watched that year, but never witnessed by anyone else thereafter.

This is the story of one such special, remembered fondly by this writer (and those who were old enough to know about it in 1986), but not really by anyone else.

This is the story of The Christmas Toy.

The Christmas Toy

ABC aired The Christmas Toy on December 6, 1986, sponsored by Kraft Foods, produced by the Jim Henson Company, and featuring a Santa suit-clad Kermit the Frog setting the stage.

The story takes place within a playroom, where the toys come to life when no one is around. (I know this sounds unoriginal, but this was nine years before Toy Story, so hear me out). The toys are aware that their fate hinges on not being out of position, as to freeze them forever. This particular evening in the playroom, however, is a Big Deal…it’s Christmas Eve!

Old Balthazar tells the toys that a new toy will join the group after the kids open presents the next day. Of course, this does not sit well with Rugby the Tiger Cub, who will not stand for being replaced as his owner’s favorite Christmas Toy.

And what happens next is a harrowing journey through the quiet hallways of the family home, all in a quest to be the Christmas Toy…now and forever!

It’s quite the adventure, complete with songs, familiar Muppet voices, and the Kraft TV recipes in lieu of actual commercials.

Which brings me to the next thing about this special…

“Celebrate the Season With Kraft!”

Since The Christmas Toy was sponsored by Kraft Foods, the ad space was given over to Kraft. And while they could have just run ads for their products, they took it a step further…

Uploads via Allison Venezio / Allison’s Written Words

(Yes, this was a feature on my blog in December 2015)

Kraft Foods showed off all the amazing recipes one could make with their foodstuffs, thanks to coupons in the Sunday paper, and recipes in that week’s TV Guide.

I particularly loved this…

MAGIC!

So you’ve got amazing commercials for amazing yuletide eatings, and a Christmas special that’s all Muppets and Christmas.

So what happened? Why did this disappear into obscurity?

Where Did The Christmas Toy Go?

To answer your question…I have no idea.

The Christmas Toy wound up being a one-and-done special, as primetime Christmas programming goes. The special disappeared from conscious memory for seven years (save for the kids whose parents taped the special in 1986, like mine did), until resurfacing on VHS in 1993, and DVD in 2008, albeit edited for legal reasons to omit Kermit the Frog’s introduction.

You say “legal reasons,” I say “Disney will sue into oblivion.”

Probably wasn’t Disney’s doing (the DVD came out in 2008, and I don’t believe Disney owned The Muppets until a few years later), but someone didn’t want Kermit appearing here!

I’ve never been able to find any reason this special went into obscurity after its initial 1986 airing, but I treasure my recorded VHS of it – so much so, I transferred it to a DVD in 2009 to keep it preserved. I just transferred it to my laptop last night to keep a digital copy as a backup.

And yes, it is that good. The Christmas Toy became a yearly tradition for me for years, even if I watched it by myself. I plan to watch it this year (for the first time since 2009!) to recapture the magic all over again!

Availability

As for availability…its almost non-existent.

The DVD is out-of-print (the only way I can explain why a new copy is over $50), and forget YouTube – my last YouTube account was terminated because I uploaded this rare classic. Let’s just say Lionsgate found me out four years later (seriously, four years!).

To The Wayside…Like Last Year’s Christmas Toy!

I’m not ok with the “fall to the wayside” treatment The Christmas Toy got since its release. Among Muppet/Jim Henson specials, this one has the makings of a classic. I can assume it may have been Kraft’s sponsorship that has kept it from airing again. Perhaps this was meant to be a one-and done deal? I’m not sure, but I do know this…it’s not right.

I can’t stress that enough, apparently.

The story of hoping to be loved forever, and the lengths one will go (even when it is unnecessary) when that love is doubted makes for a timeless story. If you have an original print of the special, consider yourself lucky, and cherish it. Please, make a copy of your VHS, just keep it well preserved.

Like the toys in the special, The Christmas Toy deserves to be loved too.

Look, I Found A Clip!

If you truly want to get a song stuck in your head the rest of the day, may I recommend this clip?

Upload via LionsgateVOD

Related Reads

I did a four-part series on the Kraft TV Recipes on my blog in 2015, if you’re feeling particularly empowered to read them!

Hostess Gifts (Week 1)

Tree Trimming (Week 2)

Christmas Eve (Week 3)

New Year’s Eve (Week 4)

YouTube Channel Shoutout: Oddity Archive

If you thought I knew how to cover the stranger side of pop culture, you should check out my latest YouTube obsession, the Oddity Archive. Because he does it better!

YouTube Channel Shoutout

I’ve given a few shoutouts recently for several channels whose work I watch with a diligent eye, a smile on my face…and the intense concentration and excitement of an excited geek.

In recent months, I’ve praised urban explorers Dan Bell and Ace’s Adventures and their journeys through dead/dying mall culture. As you know, I dabble in pop culture bizzarreness, especially nostalgic pop culture bizarreness. And I’ve found a channel that makes it so weirdos like me can revel in someone else’s equal enjoyment.

Oddity Archive

To be honest, I have no idea how I found the Oddity Archive, but it has already been responsible for a recent Music Monday post on my blog, so you know it means business in my life.

Oddity Archive delves into the strangeness of pop culture (specifically the nostalgic kind), and tells its story through history lessons, local commercials, and any relevant footage. Host Ben Minnotte sits behind his box and tells the tale of these bizarre moments in pop culture. His tales are funny, the pop culture is odd and painful, and all of it is done with proud geeky passion.

And for every new episode, a different picture on the box.

He’s smiling behind that box.

Oddities Covered

Ben’s topics run the range of pop culture oddities – riffs, short films, local access programming (think Wayne’s World, but terrible), VCR gaming, analog broadcast sign-offs, drive-in theater ads, and children’s programming. The stranger, the better!

The webseries premiered with the Max Headroom hacking story, and from there, has gone on to cover anything that is pretty much on the level of that infamous incident. There is strong language as well as some not safe for work imagery in the video link
Oddity Archive - Max Headroom

If you’re still reading this, then obviously, this piques your interest.

Which brings me to the part you came here for…VIDEOS!

Oddity Archive

How about a whole playlist of oddities?  Go on, click play!
Oddity Archive - Max Headroom
Uploads via OddityArchive (Playlist via Michael Roden)