If you loved and valued your VCR, you definitely used a VCR Head Cleaner! Or the Powers That Be/Ad Wizards want you to believe that!
Strange Nostalgia: Happy Accidents vs. Intentionally Recorded Strange Nostalgia
It never ceases to amaze me just how much strange and unusual nostalgia exists on the interwebs. Much of these awesome VHS finds come out of happy accidents, where the responsible person/people just happened to be recording on a seemingly normal day. That describes my archives.
Then there’s the intentionally recorded strange nostalgia – a found item someone with a VCR transfers to digital media. For evidence of intentionally strange recorded nostalgia, refer to my article on Laderdisc “Dead Sides.”
And say hi to Laserdisc Turtle while you visit!
Also categorized as intentionally recorded strange nostalgia? VHS Head Cleaners!
*Rubs hands together and laughs*
VHS Head Cleaner Tapes
It never ceases to amaze me the types of accessories one could buy to optimize home entertainment equipment: cleaners, special remotes, and sound systems. Items to optimize performance, confusion, and sound quality. Separate VHS rewinders extended the life of your VCR.
Chances are, you owned a VCR peripheral. I did!
VHS Head Cleaner tapes looked like standard videocassettes, but served the purpose of cleaning your VCR’s critical parts (video heads, head drums, audio heads, pinch roller, and capstan), thus enhancing videocassette quality and extending the life of a VCR. My parents owned one (in addition to one of those VHS Rewinders), and while ours was just snow on a screen, many have visuals and test the VCR’s other functions. There are dry head cleaners (the type with the visuals), and wet head cleaners.
Anyway, for the purpose of demonstration, I’ve found an ample collection of VHS Head Cleaners in action on YouTube.
Hey, someone puts these up because people like me want to watch!
Maxell VCR Head Cleaner (VP-100)
First up, Guy that Gets Blown Away By the Power of Maxell…Head Cleaners!
Upload via Jason986
And then there’s the VCR Head Cleaner that floods your living room with cheesy graphics and fish tank awesomeness!
Upload via Chris Williams
By the way, you’ve gotta put on headphones for this one. Did you notice something about the audio test? ;-)
Scotch VCR Head Cleaner
Upload via VHStash
Let Scotch take you to clean VCR heads…IN SPACE!
And for those minimalists and early 1990s computer voice lovers in the audience…
Upload via VHSBetaOpeningPreviewLover1991
BASF VCR Head Cleaner
1990s, Computer-voice esque, and European? Sign me up!
Upload via Bez Sensu
Stop eject! Stop eject!
JVC VCR Head Cleaner (With Wonder Dog!)
Meet JVC’s video game mascot, Wonder Dog, star of his own Sega Mega CD video game…Wonder Dog! He’s here to save the day…from built-up dust inside VCRs!
Upload via nachum2
“Cleaning of both audio and video head is now going on.”
Hurry Up and Press STOP!
I noticed a common thread with the VCR Head Cleaner cassettes – the mad rush the voiceover has to get us to stop the tape. Obviously, not stopping the tape immediately doesn’t cause the VCR to blow up, but in 1992, we were terrified of the repercussions of not stopping the cassette immediately.
Terrifying as a kid? You bet! Weird and dated now? Most definitely!
VCR Head Cleaners Still Exist!
Unlike most of the weird things I write about, VCR Head Cleaners STILL EXIST! That’s right, they still EXIST!
Which leads me to believe one thing: I’m not the only person who owns a working VCR!
Please tell me this was manufactured last year!
And the boxes look nostalgia-riffic! The companies even cater to the nostalgics in all of us!
Because let’s face it – we’re a generation of people who keep our VCRs so we can buy videocassettes that blast tones that represent “cleaning” and holler at us to remove them immediately, for the love of everything holy, REMOVE!
VCR Head Cleaner: Now hollering at you in different languages!
(From Allison: This author especially loves and hates ‘Stop’ – it reminds me that the word didn’t translate, but that other language misuse quotes too!)