Dano Brown - Captain N

*Some Assembly Required Featuring Custom Dano Brown Figures!

Friends, as we have demonstrated just last week – here at the Retroist we love custom action figures. Especially when they are of high quality like the work of Dano Brown, gifting us all with the opportunity at glimpsing a world where we received Captain N: The Game Master or Dig Dug figures. The good news is that Dano Brown is receiving an exhibition of his work, featuring more than 40 hand-crafted figures at the iam8bit gallery in Los Angeles – this VERY evening!
Dano Brown - Some Assembly Required - iam8bit

The opening reception begins at 8 p.m. and will run until 11 p.m., in addition it is free to the public. Furthermore the exhibit of custom figures by Dano Brown will run until August 19th. If you would like a taste of what types of action figures the artist will be putting on display, we certainly have you covered. How would you have liked to seen an action figure produced for 1988’s classic Blaster Master?
Dano Brown - Blaster Master

What about the likes of Jean Reno as he appeared in 1994’s Leon: The Professional?
Dano Brown - Jean Reno - Leon the Professional

Keeping on the subject of films I was blown away by this Teen Wolf action figure. As you can see, this 1985 version of Scott Howard also comes equipped with headphones and his trademark sunglasses!
Dano Brown - Teen Wolf - Scott Howard

For those of you that like those chase figures, Dano Brown has crafted the Lloyd Christmas ‘charity ball edition’ figure from 1994’s Dumb and Dumber.
Dano Brown - Dumb and Dumber - Lloyd Christmas

Rounding out our samples of action figures based on movies, check out Frank Dux from 1988’s Bloodsport!
Dano Brown - Bloodsport - Frank Dux

Saving one of the best for last we have The Joy of Painting Bob Ross figure.
Dano Brown - Bob Ross - The Joy of Painting

Now then, if you are interested in what inspired Dano Brown to start creating custom action figures – you can find out from the artist himself:

Dano Brown - Working on Custom Figure
“I’ve always created art in one form or another as far back as I can remember. It’s something that has always made me happy. The only other hobby I’ve had for just as long is collecting. Since I was small I’ve always collected something. Baseball cards, lighters, records, cheap watches, etc, etc. The thing I’ve collected the longest and the most passionately has been vintage Nintendo games. Specifically NES era games. I’m currently only missing 3 games to complete the entire North American catalogue. As I got closer and closer to having them all, I found it was increasingly difficult and expensive to acquire games I needed so I started branching out. I bought Nintendo magazines, books, watches, pencils, folders, and just about anything else you could think of. A few years ago I came across some vintage style Nintendo action figures online that I had never seen even though I was sure I’d seen it all at that point. I immediately bought all of them. When they arrived I recognized some of the faces as old GI Joe’s I had as a kid. I realized that they were actually a bunch of old toys Frankensteined together to look like something new. I immediately became obsessed with trying to create my own. After a lot of trial and error and some helpful advice from the guy who sold me the figures that inspired me, I made my first figure. With the photoshop skills I had from previous projects I was able to make some pretty convincing packaging for my toy. I made it for myself but when I shared it on social media I had a shocking amount of interest in it. After that I was hooked. I’m just trying to create any and every action figure that I feel deserves to be made but never was.”

Exploring Candy Land: The VCR Board Game

Chutes and Ladders wasn’t the only classic Milton Bradley game to get a 1980s-modern makeover. In 1986, they took the classic game of finding King Kandy, gave it a videocassette, and made it into a new version. That game, you ask? Why, the Candy Land VCR Board Game!

Wait, doesn’t a VCR Board Game sound like something I’ve already covered?

Previously, on Retroist…

Climb the tallest ladders, descend the most twisted chutes, and identify sounds and numbers while listening to four fun stories.

Sounds familiar, right?

Last time on Retroist, I looked at 1986’s twist on the classic concept of Chutes and Ladders, complete with a videocassette. Not content to rest on the laurels of creating such a fun and innovative twist, Milton Bradley created a counterpart-type game for another childhood favorite, Candy Land!

They called it…Candy Land VCR Board Game!

Because, you know, creativity!

Candy Land VCR Board Game

Welcome to Candy Land! Meet the Candy Land Kids!

Aren’t they cute?

They don’t have names, so just refer to them as Candy Girl and Candy Boy. That always works!

Among somewhat familiar-sounding voices throughout, I’m convinced the girl is the same voice as the Cricket talking doll.

Like Chutes and Ladders before it (or at the same time, rather) Candy Land had separate games that relied on players knowing a certain aspect (numbers and sounds) of the game. A card was removed from the board each time a certain sound or number was revealed in one of four different stories.

In Candy Land, players remove cards based on colors and pictures.

Are you ready?

Let’s venture into Candy Land!

Game 1: Who’s Been Eating My House?

This game relies on players removing cards from the board based on colors mentioned during the game (yellow sun, blue sky, purple plum, and green gum drop, among others). Players help the Candy Kids (and Grandma Nutt) find out who has been consuming pieces of Nutt’s house.

Also in this game?  Overuse of “royal,” music that sounds vaguely like the Muppet Babies scene music, and voices you’ve probably heard in other cartoons.

Oh, and “illegal munching of property that doesn’t belong to you.” Thank goodness a crime like that only exists in Candy Land.

Game 2: Lonely Old King Kandy!

“Lonely Old King Kandy!” relies on picture cues. Players place all picture cards face-up on the board, and remove them when prompted by the tone and the picture card.

In this story, King Kandy is lonely, and upon looking at his calendar, realizes it is his birthday (how did he forget this?!). King Kandy composes a royal decree using a plucked feather from his messenger’s cap to summon the people of Candy Land with the promise of a reward should someone be able to cheer him up.

You know, whatever it takes to win over friends!

Game 3: Lord Licorice’s Surprise!

“Lord Licorice’s Surprise” relies on color cues, with the same gameplay seen in “Who’s Been Eating My House.”

In this game, Plumpy and Jolly venture off with licorice for Queen Frosteen. It’s an adventure fraught with sinking in mud, rain, and the Orange Soda Sea.

I kid you not. It all sounds like a hallucinogenic nightmare!

And if that’s not bad enough, Lord Licorice has a nefarious reason for sending off Plumpy and Jolly with his licorice.

Well, as nefarious as Candy Land knows how. (Refer back to Game 1 to see what Lord Licorice did there!)

Game 4: Don’t Say “Fluffypuffer!”

What, you’ve never heard such a ridiculous word?

The final game relies on picture cues. In this story, Mr. Mint spots a visitor floating in on balloons. The visitor’s name is “Fluffypuffer,” and he sounds like Mickey Mouse. I’m not making this up.

Why should one not say “Fluffypuffer,” you ask? If you’ve seen Gremlins, it makes perfect sense.


Between games, players are given an opportunity to set up the board for the next game via transitions. In Candy Land, the transition after game one is Grandma Nutt playing with a Jack-in-the-Box (which made me jump!). After game two, Mr. Mint lighting a giant Roman Candle (which became tradition after the events of “Lonely Old King Kandy!”). At the conclusion of game three, the Candy Clock is set to count down to the final game.


The Candy Kids are also shameless promoters for their friends’ game.

Milton Bradley (via then-new owner, Hasbro) released the game in 1986, the first revamp since the 1984 and 1985 versions, and the last until 1998. A 2005 feature film, Candy Land: The Great Lollipop Adventure, gave way to a mid-2000s twist on the video format version, this time with a DVD!

I did not own this version, or any other version of Candy Land. To this day, I don’t think I’ve ever played it either.

Until now.

Well, played in the sense. I don’t actually own a copy of the VCR game, so I’m “playing” by watching the video.

Would you like to play?

Let’s Watch/”Play” The Candy Land VCR Game!

Upload via VCR Board Games

My Take

The animation style of Candy Land VCR Board Game is more colorful (and not as limited in its animation style) than Chutes and Ladders, but the quality is on par with its VCR Board Game counterpart. The voices are equally colorful, and I think the Candy Kid Girl sounds an awful lot like talking doll Cricket.

Then again, I did spot “Mickey Mouse” among the Candy Land regulars.

His name here is “He Who Shall Not Be Named,” which sounds like a threat by the Walt Disney Company for using their character’s name is any article.

As VCR Board Games go, especially in the spirit of the Chutes and Ladders game, this game is a different twist on the classic concept. Since I’ve never played either classic version (I owned Chutes and Ladders VCR Board Game, but not Candy Land VCR Board Game), I only have what I’ve seen here to go on. And call me crazy, but I think I would have enjoyed this better than the classic version. I know I liked the Chutes and Ladders game, and that still was appealing based on watching the video.

In a world of VCR Board Games, I’m glad there were games like Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders, which really worked well for younger kids being able to play independently. I know that no player wins or loses, but still, this is a creative way to play.

Be sure to check out YouTube user VCR Board Games to see their amazing collection!

So as we leave behind Candy Land and the Candy Kids, see you next time!

Kenner Inspired NES Toy Line - Death By Toys

Death By Toys Creates A Kenner Inspired NES Toy Line

Friends, I was on my lunch break down here in the Vault, when I stumbled upon these custom Nintendo game characters by Death By Toys. A couple of things occurred to me when I started to check them out. The style looked familiar for one thing and for good reason. As the artist responsible was formerly known as the Chicago Toy Collector. Whose real name is Dan Polydoris and we have shared his work on this site once or twice before. We at the Retroist are always happy to see his latest project, which as you can plainly see this time is a Kenner inspired NES toy line!

I of course realize there are many wonderful artists making custom acting figures out there. But with Death By Toys you have the added element that those customs are crafted using vintage toy parts. Case in point with this excellent Samus Aran from 1986’s Metroid – you have the head from an G.I. Joe BAT as well as the chest of a Kenner 4-LOM figure.

Kenner Inspired NES Toy Line - Metroid - Samus Aran - Death By Toys

All custom figure images courtesy of Death By Toys.

I cannot truly tell you how much I would have loved to own a Simon Belmont figure back in the day. My first encounter with 1986’s Castlevania was thanks to letting a friend borrow my copy of Konami’s Jackal.

[Via] The Hatman

I should add that for the Kenner inspired NES toy line – Simon features a vintage Lando Calrissian in his Jabba’s Palace outfit. In addition that whip apparently was constructed using parts from the Playmates Star Trek: The Next Generation toy line.
Kenner Inspired NES Toy Line - Death By Toys - Simon Belmont - Castlevania

Going out on a limb but I bet part of the Belmont Family’s weapon of choice belongs to the Lt. Barclay action figure. Yes, that is indeed my own Barclay figure…I will brook no disagreement on my thoughts that Reginald Barclay was one of the greatest supporting characters.

Kenner Inspired NES Toy Line - Lt. Barclay - Vic Sage

“Well, it… it just occurred to me that I could set up a frequency harmonic between the deflector and the shield grid, using the warp field generator as a power flow anti-attenuator, and that, of course, naturally created an amplification of the inherent energy output.”

Anyway, with Mario you have a vintage collection Kenner Star Wars toys. The head comes courtesy of the Bespin Guard whereas the body is from Luke’s X-Wing Pilot figure.
Kenner Inspired NES Toy Line - Mario - Super Mario Bros. - Death By Toys

Next we have a figure for 1988’s Mega Man 2 which features the head from that Luke X-Wing Pilot figure and the body of the Death Star Commander. While Mega Man’s arm blaster isn’t from a vintage toy it is in fact IG-88’s head?!
Kenner Inspired NES Toy Line - Mega Man 2 - Death By Toys

Last but certainly not least is Link from The Legend of Zelda. The hero of Hyrule was created with parts from a vintage Ree-Yees, ‘Farmboy’ Luke Skywalker, and even the legs of the Motorcyle rider from the Fisher Price Adventure People toy line.
Kenner Inspired NES Toy Line - The Legend of Zelda - Link - Death By Toys

Dan made these for his own personal collection but you can check out his official site to see more customs. Although there is a bit of salty language scattered about the site, so a little word of warning.

Now then with the first wave of the Kenner inspired NES toy line out of the way. Death By Toys can concentrate on that Lt. Barclay line of figures, right?

Exploring Chutes and Ladders: The VCR Board Game

Folks, I’ve gone and done it! I located a board game I knew existed, mentioned, but could not find proof of…until a few days ago. Prepare thyself, we’re tackling the longest chutes and highest ladders of Chutes and Ladders VCR Board Game!

Previously, on Retroist…

Like everything else nostalgic that I cram into the deepest recesses of my brain, I never forgot the video and its animation. So imagine my surprise when, after thirty years, I found a short clip on YouTube after mentioning this game briefly in a past Retroist article. Alas, I didn’t find the full video until recently.

Chutes and Ladders VCR Board Game!

Milton Bradley released the Chutes and Ladders VCR Board Game in 1986. It wasn’t their first VCR-adapted board game, and it wouldn’t be their last. The VCR-based games (at least, this one and its Candy Land counterpart) were unique in that no reading was necessary, children didn’t have to push buttons on the VCR, and the video gave all the instructions one needed. Plus, it had the added bonus of turning gameplay into a fun story.

Chutes and Ladders contained four games/stories (two that relied on sounds, and two more that relied on numbers), each increasing in skill level. I actually played the Chutes and Ladders VCR Board Game, as it was the version I owned. I believe it was a birthday present for my fourth birthday. I’m not sure how long we kept it, but like any good nostalgic toy that wasn’t deemed such, it disappeared sometime during my childhood. I’m convinced it either met the trash can or a yard sale.

Either scenario is depressing, friends.

Chutes and Ladders VCR Board Game: The Details

Meet Reggie and Bobby.

Everything is a competition in their world, and they turn this allegedly healthy competition into the basis of the first of four different “story games.”

What are those games, you ask (including theirs?)

Thrills and Chills

A game of numbers. Players put the number cards on the board, number side up. When players hear the audio prompt (a whimsical chime), they are to remove a number card from the game board.

In this story, Bobby and Reggie compete at everything (scariest ride, how much junk food they can eat), as their female friends Joanie and Sally Ann watch on.

The Golden Cuckoo

A game of sounds. Players put the picture cards on the board, picture side up. Upon hearing a sound effect prompt, they are to remove the corresponding card from the game board.

Bobby and his sister, Pam (who looks suspiciously like the one girl from the previous story), are baby-sitting their brother, Baby Todd. They discover stairs beyond their front door, and explore the amazing, psychedelic world beyond that door. It’s a world chock full of strangeness – a rooster, balloons, a horse, and a train.

Ricky and Nikki vs. The Space Dragons

Another game of numbers. This one involves Bobby and Reggie’s friends, siblings Ricky and Nikki.

On a snowy day, Ricky and Nikki draw pictures with their crayons. Amidst all this, a spaceship lands in their yard (where’s the snow??), and  takes them to the stars, to a planet where they will help the aliens.

The Case of the Lost Choo-Choo

Another sound game. Sherwood and Dottie (two more of Reggie and Bobby’s friends), as “Sherwood Holmes” and “Dottie Watson” (wink wink, nudge nudge) are on the case of a lost choo-choo, but encounter many other sounds along the way.

Sherwood sounds like he’s channeling his inner Inspector Gadget/Maxwell Smart voice (one in the same, since Don Adams played both characters). They explore a farm, a carnival, store, street, car, and railroad crossing in search of the train. Will they find it? How many sounds can possibly heard at one time?

Since the purpose of this game was not giving kids an opportunity to operate the VCR other than start (and obviously stop) the video, Chutes and Ladders VCR Board Game gave players ample time to setup the board via transition segments.

These segments involved eating ice cream cones the fastest, a cuckoo clock that will signal the start of the next game once the bird pops out, and a spinning robot.

This was the clip that helped me rediscover the game in the first place!

So now that you know the game exists, and understand its gameplay, how about we actually watch it in action?

Let’s Play the Chutes and Ladders VCR Board Game!

Well, not really play, but we can watch the video…can’t we?

Work with me, folks. I don’t own the game anymore!

Upload via VCR Board Games

And If You Liked Chutes and Ladders…

You’ll love Candy Land: The VCR Game!

No lie, the conclusion of this video is an advertisement. They literally pad out the thirty-minute run time with a quick ad for Milton Bradley’s other classic childhood game given the 1980s upgrade!

Oh, and did anyone else notice during the first game that Reggie’s skin color changed, like the artists couldn’t agree on his ethnicity?


Chutes and Ladders VCR Board Game came onto the market in 1986 (the original version had been around since 1943), but very little information exists on this version of the game. I’d say it was available at least through the mid-late 1980s. As I said, I received it in 1986 as a birthday present. I’m not sure how much play-ability we got out of it, but with four different segments, one could easily fill forty-five minutes between setting up, actual game play/resetting the board, and cleanup. Not a bad distraction for the kids, right?

The cool aspect of this game is not needing to read instructions, and only needing to hit play. However, after watching the video, I’m not entirely convinced that kids wouldn’t need to hit pause while resetting the game board. That’s the only part of this that bothers me. I’m thirty-five years old and of reasonable intelligence. And I don’t think the transition scenes give enough time to put all the cards back on the board. Another thing about the board – the chutes and ladders side.  Does that seem superfluous to you? This isn’t traditional Chutes and Ladders, you’re removing cards based on numbers and sounds. Why do you need a “Chutes and Ladders” side…unless this is two versions in one? Because based on what I’ve gathered from the video, this version of Chutes and Ladders is nothing like the original game.

Nevertheless, the video is thoroughly entertaining. If someone handed this version to me and told me to have fun (again, I’m thirty-five years old), I would enjoy it. I don’t recall having the original version, just this one. And I’m glad I only had this one, I’m betting I had a blast with it!

But Wait, There’s More!

Chutes and Ladders wasn’t the only Milton Bradley game to get the traditional board game to 1980s VCR Game treatment. Candy Land also got the distinction. And guess what? I found that video too!

Didn’t think you were getting off that easy, did you?

Until next time, farewell from the land of tallest ladders and twisting, turning slides…until our next adventure!