Saturday, 23 September 2017

Tomy Pocket Pets, a Brief History

So simple looking, yet so complicated

Yeah this isn’t something I thought I’d be writing about yesterday, let alone being up until quarter part 1 in the morning writing about but here it is and here I am, meet the Pocket Pets. If you haven’t heard of the name ‘Pocket Pets’ that’s ok, neither had I before yesterday, but I can almost guarantee you’ve seen one of the toys Tomy released in the line because moulds for these are still being used forty year later– I know the Owl and Penguin are in stores as of this writing. What Pocket Pets were was one of Tomy’s many lines of small wind-up toys, most of these lines are very simple – one set of toys under one name (i.e. Get-Along Gadgets, Snow Funnies), some might get a second wave (The Not-So Grand Band, Flip Floppers), a sequel line (Kid-A-Long Kids to Kid-A-Longs) or perhaps be re-released later on in say a different colour (Pop Overs) but they’re not very complicated. Pocket Pets on the other hand ARE complicated and I had to write the following down to understand them, because understanding the various releases of wind-up toys is how I spend my Friday nights (I’m so alone). Also because Pocket Pets are the most commonly seen Tomy wind-ups on the secondary market - certainly on eBay – so it was worth doing, so are you sitting comfortably? Then here’s my findings: 

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Say Something Nice: 5 Good Reads by Rob Liefeld

Let’s say something nice!
 Here’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while, and we’re starting with comic book artist Rob Liefeld because if anything’ll show off the premise of this it’s Rob fucking Liefeld. Liefeld has a terrible reputation, the consensus is that his work is
This prick here.
terrible, I think that his work is terrible and I think he’s a horrible human being, not just because I disagree with his political views (he leans right) or for that time when he was forced to leave the company he founded for syphoning funds and talent poaching but because he’s also an egotistical prick. So he’s perfect for what I want to do with my Say Something Nice posts: take a creator I don’t like or who is generally considered suckage incarnate or both and find five things they’ve worked on that didn’t suck – I will be doing Frank Miller.

His artwork summed
up in one cover
So who is this man? Liefeld is a comic book penciller who rose to prominence via work at DC Comics’ Hawk & Dove mini-series and Marvel Comics’ X-Men spin-off series The New Mutants and X-Force becoming a ‘superstar artist’. His career arguably peaked when he and several other Marvel artists left to form Image Comics which would publish their creator-owned works, Liefeld’s book Youngblood launched the company in
1992 and was a huge sales success.

Buuut: a critical success he has never been, his art style is bombastic and energetic but he has a list of issues that start with a basic grasp of anatomy (or lack thereof) and failing at telling a story sequentially and go down to very specific things like not being able to draw hands holding swords and putting too many frown lines on everything – and him avoiding drawing feet any time he can. His successes lead to a slew of imitators though and a slew of comics in a similar style: style over substance when there was no style only third-rate imitators of a man who couldn’t draw. So he had a pretty negative influence on the whole industry as well as sucking at his job. In his favour he has had a couple of positive lasting impressions – he created/co-created long lasting and popular characters Cable, Deadpool, Domino and the second Dove and Youngblood’s success gave Image Comics a great start and whatever you may think (or have heard) about early Image the company has gone on to allow publish dozens of high quality series. Anyway are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Haven Holidays & The Tiger Club Present: Tiger Tales XI

A shorter post but I found this and thought it should be shared for the benefit of people like myself who grew up with parents (and in my case grandparents) too cheap, to skint, to xenophobic or too scared of flying and sailing to go abroad and thus spent their yearly holiday at a Haven holiday camp – If you went to Butlins or Pontins or British Holidays or wherever then this post isn’t for you, piss off with your bears and red coats and Skegness an’ shit.

I don’t think Holiday Camps exist in America, so for the imaginary American readers: they’re trailer parks that people go to on vacation. It’s not as boring as it sounds, they’re typically located in or near tourist destinations and have their own on-site entertainment, usually a swimming pool, an arcade and a club or clubs that put on entertainment in the evening – singers, dancers, magic acts etc – with a kid’s club just geared towards the children. Butlins is arguably the most famous holiday camp but the biggest company is Haven Holidays, especially since they merged with British Holidays. Before that merger Haven’s kids club was the Tiger Club and it was the home of their mascot Rory the Tiger and his pals, they had entertainment in the evening and in the day patient Haven employees would babysit your kids if you didn’t want them around ruining your holiday - as I hate joining in and had a mother who actually wanted me around I rarely went in the day but I did used to go at night. The centrepiece of the Tiger Club was their weekly Rory Roadshow where full-costume versions of Rory, Anxious the Elephant and Greedy Gorilla would sing and dance to unique songs - most of which I can still remember word-for-word, I can’t remember my own mobile number but I can remember Cocoavamangokiwibananayamyam.  

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Quick Crappy Review: Mondo Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1:6 Scale Michaelangelo (Mondo Exclusive version)

So I decided when I ordered them, ooh a year and a half or so ago now, that I’d review all four of Mondo’s 1:6 Scale figures when they came, but they reuse parts and accessories between them pretty heavily so you’re best to check the reviews of Leo and Don if you read this and think ‘whaaat?’ at any point, those two should help. Anyway Donatello came when I was experiencing a heavy bout of depression and Mikey has turned up while I’m nursing bruised ribs, it’s like Mondo have decided that if they couldn’t get ‘em here on time, they’d make sure their Turtles turned up when they were most needed. Michaelangelo though is actually the least late of the three figures so far, he was due out Quarter 3 2016 and was released Quarter 3 2017 – and yes, a fucking year is an improvement. I bruised my ribs on a roller coaster called Stella’s Revenge at Clacton-on-Sea’s pier because the ride was a half-broken piece of shit manned by a fucking tool – I’m in constant pain: expect swearing.

As a quick catch-up, Michaelangelo is the third in Mondo’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1:6 Scale Collectable Figures line, the t-shirt company turned expensive merchandise peddler is putting out all four Turtles this year as deluxe 12-inch scale action figures. There is a regular version and a more expensive Mondo Exclusive version (which is a bit of a silly name as both versions were only available via Mondo’s online store) that came with an exclusive accessory but if you subscribed to the line (so you received all four Turtles) you got the Mondo Exclusive at the price of the regular version, which is what I did.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

The Range: First Halloween Display of the Year!

Just a quick one, but something that should be celebrated every year if you ask me…
THE RANGE HAS BECOME THE FIRST SHOP THIS YEAR TO GET THEIR HALLOWEEN SECTION OUT! At least in Romford, I assume Romford is emblematic of the whole country while simultaneous hoping this isn’t the case at all. I mean if it was, there’s be a nationwide shortage of spray tan and track suits, but as I don’t follow the spray tan or track suit industry this could well be the case, what was I talking about? Oh yeah, motherfucking Halloween! For a couple of months a year shops that are usually no more than a necessity becomes fun and interesting and The Range is the first to strike Halloween o’clock, well technically it’s getting ready to strike – they were still putting their stuff out (they hadn’t priced anything when I was there this morning) but that didn’t stop me from taking pictures and out of pure glee:

click all pictures to enlarge

Monday, 28 August 2017

Examples of Crap I Waste My Money On: Bootsale Report 17

Welcome to the last Bootsale Report of the year, and given how jumbled and rotten the last one was that’s probably a good thing.

Still I’m feeling it a lot more today, and by ‘it’ I mean gross amounts of pain. I managed to bruise a bunch of ribs on Clacton-on-Sea’s rollercoaster Stella’s Revenge because the ride is a broken piece of shit that was manned by a fucking tool - now I can’t bend down, run, belch or take deep breaths without searing pain. “So why did you walk around a bootsale all morning then dwietfry, you utter prat?” because I’d already said I would is the fairly boring answer, this was our second time ‘doing’ a bootsale this season (so we had a stall) and I said I’d help my mum sell off some more of my late grandfather’s stuff (mostly fishing paraphernalia that sells surprisingly fast) and it was actually a good thing. I went for a wander ‘round the (rather small) bootsale and was able to just (cliché incoming) loose myself, focussing on lots of things that weren’t constant pain for a couple of hours I was if not happy then at least peaceful – and not in pain, have I used the word ‘pain’ enough to get across how uncomfortable I’ve been for the last week? And of course I bought some shit:

‘Weird’ is my assessment of that haul, and not just because it features Shrek, a pile of rotting flesh, Wile E. Coyote, whatever those things down the front are (we’ll get to them) and a seal in a wetsuit and goggles (his name’s Zoggy). I can’t really put my finger on why my purchases seem odd; perhaps ‘atypical’ is better? It just feels weird, what it isn’t is sucky – at least not to me – you may have your own opinions on what I buy and that opinion may very well be ‘why?’ but for me this spread is made of excitement and personal achievements in shopping. I would have liked to have pulled in some more action figures, I came home with a measly 6 (seven if you count the gorilla, I’m not counting Captain Scarlet as he’s in fact a fully articulated torch – no I didn’t know such things existed either) but otherwise this is win, win and more win for me, allow me to elaborate on that. So are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin:

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Moby Dick Hunt at Pleasure Island, Wakefield, Massachusetts

Time for a post about old and/or dead theme parks, I remain hopelessly fascinated by them so everyone else must be too, that’s how it works right?

I’m mostly interested in just one old ride at this park but I shall recap the whole story for you. The park in question is Pleasure Island in Wakefield, Massachusetts U.S. which used to be situated where the Edgeware Office Park now stands. At over 80 acres the park was designed by C. V. Wood’s Marco Engineering company: a key figure in acquiring the land for and designing Disneyland C. V. Wood had left and set up Marco Engineering specifically to create knock-off Disneylands (they’d already built the Magic Mountain park in Colorado by this point). The park came out of a concept for ‘Child Life World’ by Bill Hawkes, publisher of Child Life magazine with the intent to educate at is entertained, never a good idea in my mind: every time a park tries to educate it usually ends up being EPCOT: boring then with drunks sleeping in it. Ground was broken in February 1959 and it took four months and between four and four and a half million dollars to build.

The park opened on Monday 22nd June 1959 with Fess Parker and Rita Moreno there (amongst others) to mark the occasion, four years after Disneyland (Fess Parker was there as well, he missed his cue) and with the very bold tag-line ‘Disneyland of the Northeast’. It was very much a cheap but charming Disneyland-lite with a mixture of standard tourist trap attractions, petting zoo animals and some suspiciously similar attractions like: Space Rocket (Mission to Mars), The Old Smokey Line (Disneyland Railroad), Jenney cars (The Autopia), Pepsi-Cola’s Diamond Lil Show (Golden Horseshoe Revue) and Moby Dick Hunt (Jungle River Cruise) – in fact it had pretty much everything Frontierland had back then, not that those things were very original to begin with. The first season bankrupted Hawke’s corporation: 75,000 guests were forecast but around half that turned up so three investors from Boston bought the park and ran it from 1960 to 1969, that grand re-opening had the Three Stooges.  It did have monkeys on Monkey Island though (Disney didn’t have monkeys!) and a fairly interesting sounding dark ride called The Wreck of the Hesperus where riders travelled underwater and were warned off by King Neptune himself as they left, it sounds pretty similar to Submarine Voyage which was being developed at the time (it actually opened after Pleasure Island) and given how many other elements of the park were inspired by Disney I wouldn’t doubt that there’s a connection. Unless you come from Wakefield or were a kid in the nearby area (or with family nearby) between 1959 and 1969 the park seems relatively uninteresting - except for the aforementioned Hunt Moby Dick ride, which you may have noticed is the tile of this post.