How To Build The Black Hole’s Cygnus

The Black Hole was one of the most heavily-promoted flicks of the late seventies’ burgeoning category of post-Star-Wars sci-fi blockbuster-wanna-bes. Back then, the Star Wars universe was not yet a wholly-owned subsidiary of Disney, and so Disney – like the rest of the studios – desperately tried to play catch-up with George Lucas’ (and 20th Century Fox’s) blockbuster.

The result was a flawed, but much-loved-by-fans-of-a-certain-age, epic. With the marketing might of Disney behind it, there were puzzles, read-along storybooks, model kits, and – perhaps best of all – Mego’s line of Black Hole action figures.

[Via] Action Figure King.Com

But what the model kits of the time couldn’t hope to duplicate was the sheer intricacy of The Black Hole’s delicate spacecraft. And you can’t really fault them for that: the complicated, visible girders gave the movie’s main setting, the wayward U.S.S. Cygnus, a cathedralesque look. Trying to mass-produce a replica of that in lightweight plastic would be begging for trouble: a model too delicate to stand up under its own weight.

But we live in the future now, and enterprising fans with mad 3-D skills – and no readily apparent budget ceiling – have finally put the Cygnus within your reach…for a price. (To quote a robot from a much more recent Disney sci-fi epic, it’s high…it’s very high.)

Industrious, and quite possibly even-madder-than-Dr.-Hans-Reinhardt Black Hole fan “Primitive Dave” has made it possible, via 3-D printing service Shapeways, to accumulate and assemble the pieces necessary for an almost-filming-ready model of the Cygnus.


This is not a project for the faint of heart, the scarce of budget, or those short on skills: some assembly, to put it mildly, is required. Better assemble some funds, too: all of the pieces necessary to put together the model itself run nearly $1,200.

A Flickr album by “The Lazy Modeler”, a.k.a. Jeff Bond, shows the painstaking construction of not just a complete U.S.S. Cygnus model from the Shapeways page, but one with internal lighting and blue LEDs for the engines.
Cygnus - Jeff Bond
Cygnus - Jeff Bond

(Jeff Bond played Dr. McCoy in some of the final episodes of the incredibly well-produced fan-made series Star Trek: New Voyages, and wrote the liner notes to the long-overdue official cd release of the complete soundtrack from The Black Hole itself. If building this model – and the eye-popping selection of other models in the background – doesn’t earn Mr. Bond serious geek cred, then those credentials, and the wealth of liner notes he’s written for many other soundtrack CDs, should put him over the top.)

The other thing about this entirely 3-D printed Cygnus model? It’s huge. Clear a shelf…a shelf that runs the length of an entire wall.
By the time it’s completed, and LED-lit, the only thing missing…is an equally detailed scale model of the relatively tiny U.S.S. Palomino berthed in the docking elevator.

Maybe “Primitive Dave” will have us covered on that in due time. (By the way, I suspect that Jeff Bond is not lazy, nor is Dave really very primitive. Call it a hunch.)

If you seek a massive modeling challenge, go in(sane), through (your entire bank balance), and beyond (the available space in your living room) aboard the Cygnus! Floaty robot buddies not included.

Stranger Things - Michael Maher

Star Wars Gets Stranger With Cast Of Stranger Things!

It is no big secret that Stranger Things kind of took off like wildfire here at the Retroist Vault. There are quite a few reasons why it managed to entrance us all. Naturally the easiest aspect of the series that attracted us was how it was a massive love letter to the 80s. From film posters to toys and music – it reminded us of the time most of us grew up in.
Stranger Things - Logo

Of course there was also the fact that it boasted a terrific cast. Stranger Things wouldn’t have been even half as enjoyable if not for the actors. While Millie Bobby Brown was the breakout star with her portrayal of Eleven. There was Finn Wolfhard as Mike, Caleb McLaughlin as Lucas, Noah Schnapp as Will, and Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin as well. Each and everyone of these young actors brought memorable performances. In addition to the work by the supporting cast like Winona Ryder, David Harbour and so many others.

Furthermore there was the Lovecraftian horror meets Ridley Scott’s Alien by way of The Thing. Which presented more than a few scares throughout the Netflix series!

Another thing that creators Matt and Ross Duffer peppered throughout Stranger Things were nods to Star Wars. Which makes a ton of sense for children growing up in the 80s. I mean with Mike and his group who play Dungeons and Dragons. It’s not that hard to see them being fans of the Star Wars series as well, right?

Thanks to artist extraordinaire Michael Maher Jr. we can now see how the kids from Stranger Things would look in the Star Wars universe. Moreover perhaps that would now be the Stranger Wars films?

Image courtesy of Michael Maher Jr.

While I do love the idea of Finn playing Han and Noah as Luke. It really is Millie as Princess Leia and Gaten as Chewbacca that really makes it fantastic. The fact that in Maher’s Stranger Wars artwork Chewie is wearing Dustin’s hat – just a cherry on top. I wonder though…would Ryder and Harbour’s characters be R2 and Threepio?

Computer Garage

Do You Remember 1972’s Sears Computer Garage?

You would think that in my youth I would have been attracted to more car toys. Especially a playset advertising itself as a Computer Garage. When you add in the fact that my Family had their own garage and auto dealership, it would obviously make sense that I wanted Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars to play with, right?

That was sadly not the case when I was growing up. Furthermore I would possibly have rather had dental work than receive toy cars. In the light of what I just said however there were a few “car” toys that I was happy to get. Like the Batmobile, or the General Lee from The Dukes of Hazzard as well as Ideal’s Evel Knievel’s Stunt Cycle!

[Via] Vintage TV Commercials

Consequently when my Cousin, Brandon, and I received that stunt cycle set on the same Christmas. There were EPIC charges of those toy daredevil’s at each other across the kitchen floor. How we managed to not trip any of our relatives while tiny Evel Knievel’s were darting everywhere I will never know.

Eventually I managed to amass a small but stylized collection of Hot Wheels and Matchbox vehicles. Thanks to various family members giving me their hand-me-down toys. In truth some of those fit my overall love of science-fiction toys at the time, fueled by 1977’s Star Wars naturally.

Which is in fact why when back in the day one Summer when I was with my Grandmother at a garage sale. I didn’t just pass by a rather odd looking playset – The Sears Computer Garage. Now even at that age, which was around eight I was very interested in all things related to computers. Thanks to brief encounters with the Commodore Vic-20 and the TRS-80.

I was intrigued by the playset which was basically a motorized gondola. When a kid would use the plastic numbers – a “coded” computer card. It would rotate to the number of the stall that had been selected. With the aid of a lever at the base of the Sears Computer Garage – the car would be ejected.
Computer Garage

Now in all honesty, there were two other reasons I wanted to buy it. It was only a mere fifty cents and worked to boot. But most importantly, inside one of the stalls I could see Captain America’s van!

Image courtesy of the Hot Wheels Wikia.

I was actually able to talk my Grandmother into giving me the money and took the Sears Computer Garage home. It basically acted as a storage unit for my tiny toy car collection. Until a couple of years later I in turn sold it at my Grandmother’s garage sale.

Thanks to MootSooToo’s YouTube channel you can see the Sears Computer Garage in action!

Underoos

1980’s The Empire Strikes Back Underoos Commercial!

You might imagine that The Empire Strikes Back was kind of a big deal when it was released in 1980. You know what was also incredibly popular at that time? Fruit of the Loom’s Underoos of course!
Underoos

It is rather a simple thing to see why those of us growing up in the 80s loved these. While the original idea for Underoos came about in 1977 thanks to Larry Weiss. The concept was sold to Fruit of the Loom – in fact they were the company Weiss hired to provide the shirts and underwear that characters would be printed on. Furthermore the company that was originally interested in the children’s line of clothing was Hanes.

Equally important are the popular properties that Fruit of the Loom went after for their Underoos. It is a rather astounding number of cartoons, toy lines, comic books, and films. The A-Team, Gremlins, Transformers, and Star Wars of course to name a few.
Underoos

This 1980’s commercial only showcases four sets of Underoos. In addition to Boba Fett, Darth Vader, R2-D2, and C-3PO. They also offered Luke Skywalker in his X-Wing pilot outfit. Princess Leia in Hoth attire, and two different colored versions of Yoda.

Star Wars TV Archive

It bears mentioning that Underoos didn’t offer anything for 1977’s Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back marked the first offerings. Although they continued with Return of the Jedi as well as The Ewoks animated series in 1985.

What was the first set of Underoos that I received?


Why none other than DC Comics’ Scarlet Speedster. The Flash!

Now I hope you will forgive me but I have to leave The Retroist Vault. I have tickets to go see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. I will let you know however if while standing in line I happen to spy any fellow Star Wars fans wearing some Underoos!

Spaceship Earth

Witness The Firepower of Disney’s Spaceship Earth!

I believe that if you were to travel back in time to 1977. In an effort to interview the overjoyed and dazzled audiences that were leaving Star Wars. Then ask them to share what they felt was the most mind-blowing moment of the film. I am referring of course to moments that just made the audiences jaws drop.

In general I would be willing to wager that two moments from Star Wars would stand out. For the first time viewers I should add. The reveal of how large the Star Destroyer is as it chases down the Tantive IV.
star-destroyer-star-wars

Of course in the first film they went by Imperial Cruisers – it wasn’t until The Empire Strikes Back they earned the moniker of Star Destroyer. I would make the case that the second awe-inspiring moment was the introduction of the Death Star itself.
death-star-star-wars

Having said all of that and coming from someone who saw it in 1977. There was very little in Star Wars that didn’t make me want to constantly live in that universe. As a matter of fact I still love all things Star Wars and look forward to Rogue One as well.

Apparently that is a sentiment shared by the folks at Walt Disney World. As they’ve transformed Epcot’s Spaceship Earth into…the Death Star!
spaceship-earth-epcot-death-star-powering-up

An appropriate choice as the 18-story geodesic sphere naturally looks a little like that fearsome battle station. The design of course helped by the mind of Ray Bradbury, who also wrote the original storyline for the ride.
epcot-1982-06

Spaceship Earth

Now witness the firepower of this fully ARMED and OPERATIONAL Spaceship Earth -ahem – battle station!

[Via] Disney Parks

A very big thanks to Andrew Liszewski of io9 for the heads up on this transformation. I would very much like to be in attendance at Walt Disney World to see this demonstration myself. At the very least I can take comfort that Rogue One is only a mere week away from released to theaters!

Mad Magazine

1979 Mad Magazine Board Game Commercial

Mad Magazine is pretty much a cultural icon in publishing. From it’s first issue in 1952 until today, Mad Magazine still stands as a wonderful satirical publication. Whether the subject matter be popular movies, sports, and public figures of course nothing is too sacred. Naturally everything is fair game. It should probably come as no surprise though the first issue I picked up was the Star Wars one.
star-wars-mad-magazine

As a matter of fact, the popularity of Mad Magazine had reached over two million subscribers by 1974. So in hindsight it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that Parker Brothers in 1979 decided to produce a board game. With this in mind you must expect some different win conditions. Furthermore the rules stated that not only did you have to roll the dice with your left hand. But also pass the turns counter-clockwise and the ultimate goal was to rid yourself of all your money. It featured as well a board chock full of the late, great Jack Davis’ artwork.

[Via] Mr. Classic Ads 1970

Try to imagine a group of children sitting down to win this game. To say nothing of having to suddenly switch chairs during the game play. Which could have disastrous consequences for you if were almost out of money!
Mad Magazine

In that commercial for the Mad Magazine board game did you notice a future celebrity?


You will have to look closely past the mustache and glasses but the Father is played by Richard Kind.
mad-magazine-game-richard-kind

Perhaps his name doesn’t ring a bell. Although it most certainly should as he has 198 acting credits. Here is the actor discussing his first summer job.

The White House

Can I Have An Amen For The Star Wars Ewok Gospel?

The Ewoks from Return of the Jedi seemed to have gotten more than their fair shair of grief over the years. Surely I am not the only soul on the internet that can see that these admittedly cuddly looking pint-sized warriors are important to the outcome of the story, right?
Ewok Costume - Gaston LeBoux

Why the Ewoks are Important to the story of Return of the Jedi!

Join me as I take a quick look at how some things would have turned out differently for the Rebel Alliance in the third chapter of the original Star Wars trilogy without the Ewoks:

  • The Empire would have captured Princess Leia after she crashed her speeder bike – if not for Wicket leading her to the rest of his Ewok tribe.
  • Without the aid of the Ewok scouts leading the Rebel forces through the forests our heroes wouldn’t have located the alternative entrance to the shield generator bunker…and the Rebel Fleet would have either been utterly destroyed or at least been forced to retreat.
  • Han and his troops would have been imprisoned by the Empire during their assault on the bunker – or worse – if not for the last minute rescue of the combined might of the Ewok tribes, who I think you will agree were instrumental in defeating the Empire on the forest moon of Endor.

But couldn’t Lucas have come up with something better than teddy bears?

Now I will meet you halfway with that argument but I must also remind you that just because something appears “cute” at first glance it doesn’t mean there isn’t something scary about it when you look at it properly…
ewok-stormtrooper-lunch
…I mean if you think about it, when the Ewoks capture Luke, Chewbacca, Han, and R2-D2 as well as C-3PO – those little fuzzballs are flat out going to eat our heroes – well the flesh and blood ones at least!
ewok-barbecue-han-solo
Look, I totally understand if the way I see it doesn’t mesh with your views on Return of the Jedi and the Ewoks…but perhaps none other than Andrew Zilch and Billy Dee Williams might change your mind with the Star Wars Ewok Gospel?

Now can I have an Amen for the Ewoks?