Welcome back to a new installment of Retro Records, although I will admit this week’s offering with M.A.S.K. – The Volcano of Venom was actually a book and tape. In addition I believe this was a set that was released only in the United Kingdom and featured three other stories. It was produced by Tempo as a box set and featured Mask-A-Raid, Double Double Cross, Car Wars as well as The Volcano of Venom.
Friends, in the mid-80s I was focused on pretty much two toy lines and two alone. Those were The Transformers and G.I. Joe, thanks in no small part to the animated series I watched after school. Which is how of course I first learned of M.A.S.K., not by way of the toys but the animated series from 1985.
Having said that it’s not like I didn’t see M.A.S.K. toys on the shelves of my local stores. It’s just that as awesome as vehicles that could transform into even more fantastic vehicles were, I was loyal to the inhabitants of Cybertron and the near superhero action taking place in G.I. Joe. The animated series for M.A.S.K. was something I enjoyed watching and while I never owned a single toy back in the day – I could tell you that without a doubt my favorite character was Brad ‘Chopper’ Turner. Who piloted both the Condor, a motorcycle that became an assault helicopter as well as the Razorback which was a stock car…that transformed into a rescue tank.
Friends, welcome back to a new installment of Retro Records. This go around we are going to be listening to The Mickey Mouse Club Book song. The B side in fact to the very popular You, The Human Animal from 1955. Which in itself was part of a series of educational shorts hosted by Jiminy Cricket. The Mickey Mouse Club Book song doesn’t appear to have been made into a short film however.
The popularity of the educational segments on The Mickey Mouse Club TV series certainly led to other formats. Namely being transferred to 16mm film for schools. Beginning with the I’m No Fool series. Jiminy Cricket would teach children basic safety lessons. Such as how to act while riding your bicycle or the dangers of fire and electricity. Naturally all of them beginning with the I’m No Fool song!
The music for the series, including the record releases were overseen by Jimmie Dodd. Who not only was the MC for The Mickey Mouse Club but created it’s theme song. Off the subject of this Retro Records but Dodd also starred in a handful of films. Such as 1942’s Flying Tigers, Thundering Trails, as well as the Adventures of Superman. However he is probably best known for his role in The Mickey Mouse Club where he appeared in 167 episodes.
What about Jiminy Cricket?
While Dodd might have been in charge of the music of the educational shorts. It was Cliff Edwards who provided the voice of Jiminy Cricket. Just as he had in the 1940’s animated feature Pinocchio. Although that was originally an uncredited role. Edwards was one the most well known singers in America between 1920 and 1930. Generally as “Ukulele Ike” – playing…well…the ukulele of course. Edwards nailed a number one song in 1929 with Singin’ in the Rain!
Rainbow Brite opened up her world not only through cartoons, but also through reading along with Rainbow Brite Read Along books and records/cassettes!
Read Along With Licensed Characters!
Growing up, I loved reading. Even before I read, I would flip through books. My Teddy Ruxpin books were a valuable way to learn sight words.
So was the newspaper, since I knew what the Macy’s logo looked like at two years old, but I digress.
The instructions at the beginning of the tapes gave the prompts to turn the page, which was indicated by a cute chime or noise. So while I couldn’t always read the words, I always knew where Teddy Ruxpin was in his story. I also had a Cricket doll book-and-tape set Around the World with Cricket. This read along book-and-tape set even had an animated counterpart that I covered as part of my blog’s 1000th post.
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Listening to me sing 1-2-3 in Chinese is hilarious, trust me!
That’s the face of someone who had the song subconsciously buried in their head since 1987 and recently rediscovered it.
Records and tapes featuring licensed characters were great merchandising tie-ins during our 80s childhood. Whether the licensed character spoke via an oversized animatronic doll with built-in tape deck, or your everyday cassette tape deck or record player, licensed characters gave us plenty to listen to. And once we could read, we really put those books to use!
Which brings me to actally reading…
The Joy of Reading…And Listening!
My brother, the reluctant reader, had Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle book-and-tape sets once he was reading. I remember him listening to the tapes on his tape deck…without headphones. I never minded that, as I was into the Turtles too! Before we read, we had Teddy Ruxpin books and tapes, as well as a record player that played film strips that had accompanying records and books.
That product, by the way, was the Show-and-Tell, which was manufactured in the 1980s by Child Guidance (formerly by General Electric in the 1960s).
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The Show-and-Tell, I should add, is another article for another time!
As for myself, I never had any read along sets for myself, aside from the one Cricket book and tape set. But if I knew Rainbrow Brite read along sets existed, I would have wanted all the sets!
Western Publishing (Little Golden Books) published Rainbow Brite read along books and audio in 1984. From what I’ve gathered via research, Rainbow Brite had eight audio adventures:
Rainbow Brite and the Big Color Mix Up
Happy Birthday Buddy Blue
…and the Brook Meadow Deer
…and the Color Kids
Happy Birthday Twink
Rainbow Brite Saves the Day
Rainbow Brite and the Blue Lake
About Rainbow Brite saving the day…doesn’t she do that all the time? Was the creativity well dried out when the story needed a title?
Rainbow Brite also had something else equally interesting…See and Read VIDEOS!
Rainbow Brite Read Along…Meet SEE AND READ!
The See and Read videos were released in 1986 by KidStuff/KidVids in 1985.
These stories were actual video adventures, but in storybook format. Four stories were made.
The Risky Rescue
The Sprite Emergency
Gloom Over Rainbow Land
As an avid reader, and like I said, one who learned sight words from the Teddy Ruxpin books, I can imagine these videos provided valuable ability to teach sight words. As someone who benefits from visuals and seeing information, I would have loved these videos!
Perhaps a future article/let’s watch for this new discovery?
I do only have on Action Max video left…
Anyway, how about the real reason you came here?
Rainbow Brite Read Along: The Complete Collection!
Compiled (and uploaded) by a trusted Rainbow Brite source, RainbowBriteCo, this is a great YouTube Channel for all things RainbowBrite…including these books AND See and Read!
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I think we’ll be revisiting Rainbow Land soon, don’t you think?
Welcome back, friends, to a new Retro Records offering. This time since it’s Father’s Day…we are sharing The Case of the Missing Mother? While the timing certainly isn’t working out, this book and record features Jim Henson’s Muppets at least. Released back in 1984 it seems like this read along story is long out of print. Which is a shame as The Case of the Missing Mother most assuredly possesses that Muppets charm.
For what it might be worth, I believe The Case of the Missing Mother marks a first for Retro Records. What I mean is that it was originally released in 1983 as a book by Random House. Written by James Howe and masterfully illustrated by William Cleaver. But that was it. A book and record as well as tape version were produced a year later.
If James Howe’s name sounds familiar, that is indeed for a good reason. Not only did he write an additional Muppet story with The Muppet Guide to Magnificent Manners. He was also the writer for a very popular series of children’s books. Along with his late Wife Deborah Howe, they co-wrote 1979’s Bunnicula.
William Cleaver, whose art totally fits both The Muppets and the story. Would go on to do some illustrations for the Sesame Street Magazine in 1988.
Yet another curious thing about The Case of the Missing Mother is with the book and record. It turns out there are some changes between the original book and the read-along book and records. This might be because of the cast of those recordings.
Jim Henson provides the voice of Kermit the Frog. Frank Oz performs Fozzie, Miss Piggy, as well as Animal. With Jerry Nelson Floyd and Dave Goelz as The Great Gonzo. In addition to Richard Hunt as Scooter, Janice and LaVerne…Animal’s Mother!
Which brings us to the plot for this book and record offering. The Muppet gang can’t help but notice that Animal is acting strangely. More manic than normal…for Animal that is. Then everyone’s favorite drummer up and disappears. It turns out he has lost his Mother’s address and with it approaching Mother’s Day he is frantic.
Will The Muppets be able to solve The Case of the Missing Mother?