ALF Drops In

Retro Records: ALF Drops In – Book And Tape (1987)

What can make a morning better? ALF can do that very thing, of course! Now it’s no great secret that those of us here at The Retroist enjoy 1980’s ALF. We have been known to share once or twice…or more, our appreciation of everyone’s favorite Melmacian.

Having said that, I will have to admit I wasn’t aware that ALF had any Read-Along Books and Tapes back in the day. But lo and behold there were at least four of them produced. Besides ALF Drops In that we are sharing today. There was Super-ALF, ALF Plays Detective, and ALF Goes Wild as well.

I found it equally important that they were all released by Buena Vista. Indeed, the same company also known for book and record combos like last week’s The Black Hole!

In this instance, ALF Drops In retells how Gordon Shumway met the Tanner Family. In addition to some great artwork throughout the storybook. It appears that all of the cast provided their voices to their characters from the TV series. Either that or they took audio from various television episodes – but I highly doubt that was the case.
ALF Drops

The narrator for ALF Drops In is none other than William “Bill” Woodson. Who narrated a great deal of those books and records for Buena Vista. As well as providing all manner of voice work – which I might add included a very famous line from the Super Friends!

[Via] Brian Young

Seeing that this is in fact a book and cassette tape. I certainly hope you will forgive me for lumping it in the Retro Records category. So without further ado let us join ALF and the Tanners for ALF Drops In!

[Via] Cat Jay Bird

You enjoyed ALF Drops In but are needing more information?


I am very happy to inform you that you are in luck. As the Retroist himself has already recorded a podcast on ALF – which you can listen to below!
Retroist ALF Podcast

The Black Hole

Retro Records: The Black Hole Book and Record (1979)

It’s turning out to be a Black Hole kind of weekend. I mean – just look at Earl Green’s excellent Cygnus model post from the other day. A fan made piece of art that blew us away to say the very least. And now in addition we have this offering. The book and record adaptation of The Black Hole from 1979!
The Black Hole

Thanks to this video upload by Old Disney Records we can thrill once again to the exploits of the crew from the U.S.S. Palomino. Crossing paths in the darkness of space with the crazed Dr. Hans Reinhardt and the dangerous Maximilian. Aboard the mysterious Cygnus and the very real threat of the ravenous Black Hole.

I have an incredible amount of fond memories concerning the Walt Disney Productions’ book and records. I still have many of those I grew up with including this record. TRON, Davy Crockett, Mary Poppins, and more. Granted not all of them are in as good a condition as the one you will hear in the video below.

While the book and records were well known in their adaptations of trimming the fat for a story. Of course I will remind you they only had a small amount of time on the 33 and 1/3 records. The fact is the total running time for The Black Hole is a little over 9 minutes. To help in this process the adaptation of the Black Hole cuts loose two crew members of the Palomino.

For example Ernest Borgnine’s role of Harry Booth, the engineer, has been excised.
The Black Hole

As well as Anthony Perkins’ part as Dr. Alex Durant.

Having said that it is still a solid package. Managing to keep the main gist of the story and exciting moments intact. They even use some of John Barry’s excellent soundtrack as well as sound effects from the film.

The most interesting aspect of it is how it tackles the ending of the movie. For those of you that haven’t yet had the pleasure of seeing The Black Hole the conclusion is…equal parts terrifying and subject to interpretation.

Now without further ado, joins us on Retro Records as we listen to 1979’s The Black Hole!

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.

Let’s Play The 1979 Black Hole: Space Alert Board Game!

About a week ago, one of my good friends and co-workers at the Arkadia Retrocade sent me some images of a rather retro board game purchase thanks to eBay. As you can see from the image above it was 1979’s The Black Hole: Space Alert game which was produced by Whitman for the Walt Disney company. I did in fact own this back in my youth and had some very fond memories of playing it with my Father so I was totally looking forward to playing the game once again.

It came in awfully quick and last Wednesday when everything started getting quiet at the arcade a group of us decided to crack it open and geek out with some vintage 1979 board game action. Was it everything I remembered? Yes. It was an absolute blast!
Arkadia Retrocade - Vic Sage - The Black Hole
To my left is Luca, then Andrew with his back to the camera, and then the owner of the game, Rhi…you can only see her hand in this image. That will teach her to lean forward next time, right?

I chose the character of V.I.N.CENT…naturally…and Luca chose Dr. Kate McCrae, Andrew picked Lt. Charlie Pizer and Rhi went with Captain Dan Holland. Sadly in the game you can’t play the characters of Dr. Alex Durant (Anthony Perkins) or Harry Booth (Ernest Borgnine). I do remember that back in my youth when I had this game myself I was upset that there weren’t cardboard images of the characters.
The Black Hole - Space Alert - Player Pieces
The game board is quite large which I guess is why it’s made out of paper. For what it is worth Rhi really scored on this purchase, besides just a small amount of water damage the game is absolutely pristine.
The Black Hole - Space Alert - Board
Starting on the Palomino, the Players receive a hand of four cards and take one from the draw pile in attempt to match the symbol on the board or color so they can move forward one space.
The Black Hole - Space Alert - Palomino
The Black Hole - Space Alert - Cards
There are cards featuring Maximillian and the Android soldiers of the villainous Dr. Hans Reinhardt and these will let you take some well placed short cuts…assuming you can pull those cards.
The Black Hole - Space Alert - Paths
Early in the game it looked like V.I.N.CENT and Pizer were going to be the first ones to reach the Space Probe and escape the doomed Cygnus but an incredible amount of bad pulls from the card deck got me stuck on the board for like 6 complete turns.
The Black Hole - Space Alert - Maximillian
The Black Hole - Space Alert - Probe
Before we knew what hit us, Kate using some amazing strategy took the lead – Luca did a great job of thinking ahead, making sure she had the cards she would need to zip across the board. Which brings up a good point about not just this game but I think a lot of the board games that were aimed at younger players back in the day…you needed some strategy as well as a bit of luck. So Holland, Pizer, and V.I.N.CENT watched as Kate boarded the Space Probe and left us to be consumed by the ravenous Black Hole…just kidding…we all know Kate wouldn’t do that, she was just the first one to the probe.

This game was still incredibly fun to play 37 years after it was first released but one of the things that I really was impressed with was the actual card holder with The Black Hole logo imprinted on the plastic. Very late ’70s and early ’80s. It might be a small thing but for some reason it really made me happy to see that.
The Black Hole - Card Holder - Space Alert

TeePublic’s “Good Robot” T-Shirt – Featuring The Black Hole’s V.I.N.CENT!

Lieutenant Charles Pizer: V.I.N.CENT, were you programmed to bug me?
V.I.N.CENT: No, sir, to educate you.

The Walt Disney studios were most definitely attempting to try different types of stories back in 1979 when they released The Black Hole, sort of their answer to the popularity of Star Wars, at least they hoped it would find similar success. Surprisingly it did better than most might think, in that it did make a profit although not as much as the studio had hoped I’m sure. On a budget of twenty million dollars it earned over thirty-five million at the box office when all was said and done.

disneys-black-hole

For myself I caught The Black Hole at the Razorback theater, just another one of those films I hold dear that I saw at that fabled location. My Father took me to see it the weekend that it opened and I think it’s more than fair to say that we were possibly the only people there that were quite blown away by it. It doesn’t hurt the film that it features Anthony Perkins, Robert Forster, Yvette Mimieux, Ernest Borgnine, Joseph Bottoms and to top it off Maximilian Schell.

But the three characters that my Father and I were most impressed with weren’t even Human. No – our favorite characters included the silent yet menacing and murderous robot of Dr. Hans Reinhardt (Schell) named Maximilian oddly enough. It’s been noted that the script called the red-hued brute Maximilian before Schell was even cast!

Maximilian

Then there was the damaged but still functioning Old B.O.B. (BiO-sanitation Battalion) who was voiced by Slim Pickens.
Old Bob

Finally there was V.I.N.Cent (Vital Information Necessary CENTralized) who was voiced by the legendary Roddy McDowall and hands down my favorite character in the entire film.

Vincent - The Black Hole

Thankfully at the time there were a solid handful of merchandise for The Black Hole, like the Mego line of action figures, a Disney Read-Along record and book, an Alan Dean Foster novelization of the film and more.

Walt Disney - Black Hole LP

But there was not to my knowledge any clothing made available, especially T-Shirts featuring the likes of V.I.N.Cent! Thankfully TeePublic has fixed that issue, courtesy of jswhittington3, with their offering entitled “Good Robot” which also acts as a parody of the production company logo of J.J. Abrams!

T-Shirt Images courtesy of TeePublic.Com

T-Shirt Images courtesy of TeePublic.Com

Hop on over to TeePublic and order your T-Shirt today, that way the next time you visit your favorite arcade you can show that local robotic bully you mean business.