Retro New Year's Eve

Vic Sage’s Retro New Year’s Eve 2016!

When you work at an arcade in this day and age, a retro New Year’s Eve is to be expected, right? Over the last couple of years I have been glad to share with you the Holiday event at the Arkadia Retrocade. What better way to celebrate a retro New Year’s Eve than being surrounded by vintage games.
Retro New Year's Eve - 2016

For the many fans of the Golden Age of arcade games, this is most certainly the place to be. Especially on a New Year’s Eve. From my previous posts for the Holiday you might recall that I try to bring something special as well. I am referring of course to the vintage Kool-Aid, nay, that sweet nectar of the Gods. The Great Bluedini!

While I do in fact still possess a precious few of those Great Bluedini packs I bought 26 years ago. Like the previous year I had to turn to e*Bay for help to make sure I had enough. And let me expain that I insist on using only the vintage Kool-Aid packets to make the delicious beverage. Although having said that…it’s getting harder and more expensive to do so every year. But it is all worth it for the Players to be able to enjoy five gallons of the greatest Kool-Aid flavor ever created!

Friends, I don’t believe I’ve ever shared this bit of info before. But back in my youth I had another name for the Great Bluedini. I called it the Pure Source – in reference to 1982’s TRON of course.

Anyway, there was a bit of a hiccup in this retro New Year’s Eve plan…I had to work at the hotel. I was not happy about this to say the least. But that is part of being an ‘adult’ I suppose. So I made sure that the Great Bluedini was dropped off at the arcade before work.

In addition I enjoyed some of the tasty beverage with some very special people at the arcade. The Retroist’s own Gary Burton with our good friend, Alex.

One of my fellow concession employees at the arcade, Jonah Bright aka The Iron Monkey. Who I think you’ll agree has the greatest glasses ever made!

As well of course – sharing a cup of the Blue with Shea Mathis. Who you might remember is the owner and manager of the Arkadia Retrocade – besides being one of my best friends.

There is one other thing I had to do differently this year, while dropping off the Great Bluedini. In the previous years I’ve made a point of always pulling off the Minus World glitch in Super Mario Bros. After the clock has struck midnight and the New Year has officialy begun. Why? Well – quite simply, the first year we had the retro New Year’s Eve party, there were Players present who had never heard of this glitch.

So in this case, I had to perform the trick to visit the Negative World a little earlier than normal.

With a bit of a heavy heart but a belly full of the Blue I had to go to work. I’m not sure how many of you work the night audit shift at a hotel. But as you can imagine – New Year’s Eve can be a handful. Thankfully the fact I was missing the fun at the arcade was lessened by the photos that were being sent to me throughout the night.

Hannah, Lisa, and Shea supervising the disbursement of the Blue!

So how did I celebrate my own retro New Year’s Eve this year?

By reading Guillermo del Toro’s At Home With Monsters and sipping my own mug of Great Bluedini!

So here is to 2017, my friends. May it be a brighter and filled with even more retro fun!

There Was An Automan Action Figure?!

Automan was a television series that aired on ABC starting in 1983 for a mere one season. Obviously inspired by TRON which the showrunners must have believed was going to be the megahit of 1982 – sadly, much like that film this sci-fi/superhero series failed to find it’s intended audience.

Image courtesy of Shout! Factory.

Image courtesy of Shout! Factory.


In all honesty – the reason I loved the series so much is that Automan premiered at the exact right time for someone like myself who was devoted to video games, computers and of course TRON. Even though it took far too long in my humble opinion, Shout! Factory has come to the rescue and released all 13 episodes on DVD.

Video S.

So what is Automan about?


Automan was the brainchild of the late great Glen A. Larson who you might know from Battlestar Galactica, B.J. and the Bear, The Fall Guy, and Magnum P.I. to name a few. The story is about a Police Officer named Walter Nenicher, played by Desi Arnaz, Jr. who is also a computer programmer. One night at the station while working on a holographic program for an ‘Automatic Man’ – the creation is brought to life and the duo quickly team up to fight crime. Automan by the way was played by Chuck Wagner.

The duo were helped by Automan’s sidekick named Cursor who could ‘draw’ solid light creations for Automan and Walter when needed like a car that was capable of 90-degree turns…
automan-car
…a helicopter which was always my person favorite…
automan-helicopter
and even a combination of car and jet when needed.
automan-car-jet
I remember once or twice that Cursor also became a motorcycle – I just couldn’t find any images of it.

Thanks for the history lesson, now what about this Automan toy?


Why is everyone in such a hurry these days? I was getting to the point. While I was certainly a fan of the television show the disappointing ratings not only killed any hopes for a second season but the prospect of toys. Or at least that is what I always thought. It turns out that the series did in fact have quite a few toys created – the catch though is they weren’t sold in America.

I was under the impression for the past 33 years that there was no merchandise whatsoever – so when I stumbled across an image of the Automan action figure by Acamas Toys the other day…I naturally assumed it was a fake. A custom figure. I was totally wrong.
automan-toy-acamas-toys
A big thank you to 80sKid.Com for the images you see below – because Halloween costumes, die-cast vehicles, and even a toy watch that launched ‘drone’ copters were made and that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Image courtesy of 80sKid.Com

Image courtesy of 80sKid.Com


Image courtesy of 80sKid.Com

Image courtesy of 80sKid.Com


Image courtesy of 80sKid.Com

Image courtesy of 80sKid.Com


Take a closer look at that Automan costume set – 80sKid.Com totally has it signed by Chuck Wagner!
Image courtesy of 80sKid.Com

Image courtesy of 80sKid.Com


So when you have a few moments, make sure to visit 80sKid.Com and check out all of the merchandise that was created for Automan…if you need me I will be on eBay trying to get some of this stuff for myself.

Chuck Wagner
Wait a minute…that last video is from Chuck Wagner?! Like as in the actor who played Automan?

This TRON Inspired Artwork Looks Like It Was Plucked From 1982!

While it sadly didn’t really find it’s audience back in 1982 when it was first released to theaters – TRON captivated enough fans to slowly earn a cult status that has kept it in the thoughts of many video game and movie fans. Naturally enough interest was there to help bring TRON: Legacy to the big screen in 2010 and even spawn the absolutely fantastic and seemingly doomed 2012 animated series TRON: Uprising.

Image courtesy of Elak Swindell's Flickr photostream.

Image courtesy of Elak Swindell’s Flickr photostream.


Why is TRON still thought of so fondly – I mean for a film that didn’t exactly set the box office on fire back in ’82? Well, there is the fact it had a great cast and effects that were certainly ahead of its time back in the day – it also had a lot of heart, everyone gave it their all from not just the cast but Steven Lisberger who penned the script and helmed the movie…but perhaps… it was the style of the TRON universe that really set it apart?
TRON - The Grid
In my youth sitting in the Razorback Theater happily munching my giant-sized SweeTARTS and totally being sucked into the world of TRON – it was the Light Cycle match that really blew me away. A very vivid and fond memory. Which is why I was so happy to see this beautiful art from Movie Car Posters.Com!
TRON - Light Cycle - MovieCarPosters.com
The iconic TRON symbol with the minimalist design of a light cycle plus that weathered look to the poster…it really does look like something offered by Scholastic’s Book Club. This isn’t the only famous movie and TV vehicle that Movie Car Posters offers so make sure to go visit their site by clicking that link provided up top.
Tron_Lightcycles
See you all on the Game Grid!

TRON Love Scene

Was this scene from TRON too “sexy” for audiences?

Disney’s TRON was a risk for the studio. It was a more “adult” film, but you might be surprised to learn that the film was almost a little more “adult” in nature. Like many films, extra scenes were shot for TRON that wound up on the cutting room floor. Some of those scenes are cut early, but with TRON, you can tell when a scene was cut by how much animation was done for it. It is a good indication of just how close the scene was to making the final cut.

In this scene TRON and YORI visit her “apartment”. It is a plain room, but not for long. With a wave of her arms, not only does the apartment transform in an amazing bit of animation, but YORI herself changes. Turning from:

yori tron sexy

into

tron sexy

People who worked on the film have differing opinions as to why the scene was cut (we also get one dissenting opinion). Director Steven Lisberger thought the scene was too sentimental, while star Bruce Boxleitner remarked in the anniversary DVD that it was just confusing. Bringing into question the sexuality of what up to this scene had been depicted as anthropomorphized computer programs. Visual Effects Supervisor Harrison Ellenshaw believed the scene added a lot to the film.

I tend to agree. It adds a deeper level of humanity to these programs. Something we would get more of a dose of in TRON Legacy. If it had been in the original cut of the film, it would have been something TRON fans would have been discussing for decades afterwards. Instead we get a great, but more sanitized version of the film.

Here is the entire scene in its scintillating glory. Do you think it was best left out?

For more information on TRON, check out the TRON Retroist Podcast and the TRON Diary of an Arcade Employee Podcast. (Yes, we love TRON at the Retroist.)

sexy tron

Watcher In The Woods

Disney Pulled The Watcher In The Woods From Theaters?

As I touched upon with the post about that awesome Black Hole T-Shirt from the other day. The Walt Disney Studios was really trying to go in a different direction with their theatrical films. Not just with 1979’s The Black Hole, but 1980’s The Watcher in the Woods and even 1983’s adaptation of Ray Bradbuy’s Something Wicked This Way Comes.

The Watcher in the Woods was a supernatural/mystery movie directed by John Hough (The Legend of Hell House). It was based off the novel by Florence Engel Randall that first saw print in 1976. At this point it’s pretty evident that the Studio was attempting to capture more of the teenager crowd with their choice of subject matter. I believe the original trailer illustrates that point quite well.

Watch the original Watcher In The Woods trailer

Apparently a week after the film made its debut back on October 24, 1980 the Walt Disney Studio pulled the film from theaters. To be honest I’ve seen various online sources saying this was actually just the test screening. Anyway what we do know is that the audience and the studio were unhappy with the ending. So they put the re-release of Mary Poppins in it’s place while they worked on re-shooting the The Watcher in the Woods. This article from Starlog pretty much states the same thing.

Starlog - The Watcher in the Woods

Legendary effects artist Harrison Ellenshaw (Star Wars, TRON) is credited with coming up with the ending audiences saw when the film was released to theaters again on October 7, 1981. He has even been quoted as saying by the end of it all they had “roughly 152 possible endings”.

In total Disney narrowed it down to three possible endings. The first one that had been planned and shot revealed an alien encounter was behind the “supernatural” goings. Sadly they ran out of time to finish the effects shots as the studio mandated it needed to be released on the 50th anniversary of Bette Davis’ legacy as an actress.

The Watcher in the Woods - Alternate Ending

What the original audiences or test audiences saw was kind of an amalgam of that concept, but leaving Jan to explain what had occurred. Apparently it wasn’t quite clear and most audiences felt it gave no sense of closure. That the film was ended abruptly. Which is of course why it was re-shot. Thankfully this “alternate ending” can be seen below. I’m sure there was supposed to be some effects work leading Jan to look to the sky and the forest, because if not, she just looks like a crazy person. I do think the Alien, the Watcher is pretty awesome looking myself.

Watch the alternated ending to Watcher In The Woods

When it came time to for the version that is more widely known Disney also began to have second thoughts about the mentions of the occult, and not only re-wrote those scenes but re-shot them as well. Which is why the Alien appears in the final release as a shaft of bright light, taking over Jan’s body to reveal that Watcher had accidentally switched places with Karen 30 years earlier.

Even with the re-shoots The Watcher in the Woods didn’t exactly connect with audiences of the day. In total it only earned five million. I can’t locate an online source that reveals how much the Walt Disney Studios spent, but bear in mind that in 1983 Something Wicked This Way Comes cost nineteen million. I think over the years, The Watcher in the Woods has become something of a cult film. Which is kind of nice, but I certainly remember wanting to see the film myself thanks to those wonderful early 1980s promos. You could find them when renting Disney VHS tapes.

Watch the original Watcher In The Woods promo from 1980 (At the 1:42 mark)