Friday, May 29, 2015

Getting Hyped For Niagara Falls Comic Con!

A week away! Yup, only a week away from Niagara Falls Comic Con and boy am I excited! I haven't been to a comic convention since New York Comic Con 2007, and things have no doubt changed since then so to experience a big show like this will be quite the treat. But what am I looking forward to the most? Well, I'm glad you asked...

5.) THE ARCADE:







Hoo boy. Check this out! A retro arcade alley! Jonesing to play Donkey Kong? Galaga? Maybe some Asteroids is what the doctor prescribed! Well, my friend, you are in luck! The convention will have all these and more for game play during the convention. Which after walking around the convention center lugging my bookbag full of merch and autographs, will be a nice change of pace. Who can't use a nice arcade game break after a busy day?

4.) THE VENDORS ROOM:

Oh yeah. You know the deal. I'm always down for a nice bargain or a rare find. Perusing the vendors room to me has more appeal than meeting celebrities at certain shows. And I'm sure this will be no different. Whether it's a Gremlins pencil topper, a Robocop figure or even that Captain Planet folder that I had in second grade, I'm sure I'll find something fun to take home with me thanks to some of Canada's best vendors.

3) GERRY CONWAY:

Gerry Conway may not be a name familiar to those who arne't comic fans, but his co-creation of Frank Castle aka the Punisher sure is. I'm a HUGE Punisher fan and have been since seeing the Dolph Lundgren movie as a youngster. I've always seen him as a much more violent Batman which has it's positives to some degree, if that makes sense. But, meeting the man who created the Punisher(as well as the famous Death of Gwen Stacy storyline) will be a true honor. And plus, he co-created DC's Firestorm!!!! Even better!


2) NIAGARA FALLS:



So much room for activies! I've only been to the beautiful city of Niagara Falls once, and I had a ball. So much I didn't get to see that now I'll have the chance to. The House of Frankenstein and the famous Frankenstein Burger King, wax museums, and of course those world famous falls are just some of the things I'd like to see. And we've got some nice weather up here lately, so hopefully it'll grant my friend Tony and I enough time to check them out!

1.) ELVIRA:

Ok, let's not be coy about this. For horror fans, Elvira is the queen. No offense to Jamie Lee Curtis, Heather Langenkamp, Janet Leigh, or anyone who's come before or since, but Elvira rules this game. Every horror fan has fallen in love with her. And why not? She's beautiful, she's funny and I'm sure there's two other traits we love, but I have a hard time thinking of what they are. That said, it's always been a goal to meet Elvira, but since my convention days have been cut back, it's never been possible. But next week, I'll be meeting Casandra Peterson herself!

While she won't be in Elvira getup, it'll still be great to meet her. She's still a gorgeous woman and I'm sure she's just as funny as her ditzy and witty persona. I'll definitely be springing for a photo with her. How could I pass this up?

BONUS: DAVID HASSELHOFF AND KIT:

I had to fit this in. The other big celebrity attending the show, and arguably the headliner of the show, is the Hoff. I grew up in a Knight Rider loving household and grew up loving Baywatch as a teen. So, to meet the man himself, with his loyal friend KITT, will be quite the thrill for me. Just thinking about the photo of him and KITT(at a hefty 80 dollars, but arguably worth it) just sets my mind going wild. I've never heard a bad thing about fans meeting Hasselhoff, and I hope that continues next week when I get to meet him.


All in all, no matter my reasons or your reason for attending, it should be a great show. I'm really looking forward to seeing what this show has to offer. It'll definitely be different than a Monster Mania or wrestling convention, that's for darn sure. So, if you see me walking around, stop me, talk to me, and let's share a fun time!

-Chad

Friday Finds May 29 2015: Bride of Frankenstein Water Bottle

Of all the things that I've found in flea marketing, thrifting, yard saling, whatever, this may be one of my favorites. Not just because it's a Universal Monsters item, but because it's so unusual.

Yes, my car is a trash pit. But this makes it look better.

This souvenir water bottle clearly came from Universal Studios during the Universal Monsters merchandising bonanza of the late 90s. At that time, everything was slapped with the Universal Monsters logo or the beautiful kissers of those crazy monsters. They even had Burger King kids meal premiums! But this is no kids meal toy. No sir. This is a piece of merchandising you can either use as a dehydration tool or take the straw out and use it as a statue on your entertainment center. Sculpted to perfection, the Bride strikes a classic pose for the win. They could've gone in any direction. She could've been sculpted in a pose with her arms up, she could've even been poseable. Wouldn't have looked as cool though. Plus, she kinda looks like Frank did something to piss her off. Which, can't be safe for Frankenstein...

Standing at over a foot, this tall bottle is a very welcome piece in my collection. My only issue is that I can't find any information about it from either eBay or Google. Besides a Universal Monsters logo and a time stamp of 1998 on the bottom, there doesn't seem to be any information on this or any other bottles that may have accompanied it. But, hey, I don't mind that. I seem to have found a one of a kind item. Which is another reason this hobby is so much fun!

-Chad

Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday Finds: May 22 2015

Today's Friday Finds could have been saved for Christmas, but eh...I like this one too much.


Remember the Rescuers? the classic Disney movie from the 1960's where the two brave mice, Bernard and Bianca, go on a rescue mission? It was essentially like the Avengers for children with mice. It was pretty fun. Then in 1990 they came back for one of Disney's few sequels at the time under the title "Rescuers Down Under". I haven't seen it since then, but I liked it as a kid. I'd probably enjoy now, especially since John Candy was involved. But the memories I have of it involved the McDonalds Ornaments.



Pretty cool, eh? Never would've expected to see this again, but hey, that's I head to these flea markets and yard sales. Box is included as well, which is even cooler! For 50 cents, I had a hard time turning it down. I saw this and immediately headed back to Christmas 1990. Or Holidays 1990, as it's said on the box.  The ornaments themselves are a hollowed plastic with flocked felt all over it as well as little articles of clothing.  Disney and McDonalds teamed up to do this before with The Little Mermaid and Cinderella's mice. It was a nice little yearly tradition that didn't continue. Which sucks, because other cartoons would've been fun ornaments. Imagine a Genie from Aladdin ornament!


Bernard stands about 2 and a half inches at most(I'm guessing), his head turns and his arms move up and down. It's not a mindblowing ornament. In fact, it probably won't end up on my tree this year and be thrown on the shelf for at least ten more years, but it's definitely adorable and takes me back to being a kid and receiving one in my stocking. I actually received Miss Bianca, but I liked the movie enough as a kid to put it on my tree every year for a few years. I think my mom may still have it in her ornament drawer along with my Where's Waldo ornaments from Roy Rogers and my handmade nWo ornament. That nWo ornament looks as terrible as you'd imagine, by the way.

Personally, I would still love an ornament of John Candy's character. Although, any of John Candy's characters would be perfect ornaments. Imagine Barf or even Uncle Buck on your tree!


-Chad

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The General Mills Secret Magic Video!

I won't even start this with a snappy opening. I just want you to soak this image in for a second:


Yup. Check this out. A General Mills mailaway premium starring your favorite General Mills characters and a magician by the name of Dan Witkowski revealing the smoke and mirrors behind his mindblowing magic. Oh yes. With 2 proofs of purchase and 7 bucks, this tape was yours. Now, obviously magic is an interest of those young at heart, so if you were 5 years old in 1987, this tape was for you. Thankfully, I grew up in that decade with plenty of silliness and over the top children's programs like this, so I'm not walking into it blindly. I was pretty much expecting this to be a magician in a studio using the costumed characters as stage hands. But that was not the case. No, no, no. My lofty expectations would soon be demolished within the first frame.



This starts off innocent enough. We start with the Trix rabbit taking a brisk afternoon stroll. Well, he was until he was intercepted by a lost, but rather jovial truck driver. Looking for the local theater, he turns to the first being he sees which happens to be a felt rabbit who sounds like he's high out of his mind. The trucker fooloishly confides in Rabbit, letting him know that his truck was filled with "a whole lotta tricks". His mind wanders at an alarming speed. After giving him directions, he decides to follow him on his quest for Trix-Topia.

The Rabbit, now wearing a fake beard, sneaks his way into a theater where two children and Billy Mitchell are enjoying the magic show. If this were today, Rabbit's talking during the show would result in a destuffing and a kick in the butt.
"Pssst...is there a Donkey Kong Kill Screen coming up?"
These kids become more invested in this show and the secrets behind the show than the one track minded Rabbit, although, I'm sure he was still on a Trix high, so it's hard to blame him. After seeing through his cheap beard. they invite him to stick around and enjoy the show. But, his mind is still on his cereal. Maybe he'll change his tune...


Our magical friend, Dan, invites the kids and their lagomorph friend backstage. This is where the video starts to take form. From hereon out this turns more into a magical demonstration with Dan and the kids while mascots stop by for a gag or two. I'll skip out on the magic tricks and head right to the appearances of the characters. Because as fun as this tape is, the real pull is watching the cereal mascots cause innocent mayhem.


GAH! HE'S ALMOST AS BIG AS THAT DOOR!
The Cheerios Bee is our first mascot we meet. The Bee just kinda sits on a top hat and plays the off-stage assistant, showing and revealing certain tricks. He's the least of our worries, but we come back to him quite often. In fact, I gotta say, his presence is rather inconsequential to the rest of the tape. He doesn't really do much other than make a joke or two regarding the previous magic trick. That's it. But I guess that's better than flying around hitting people with a giant spoon filled with honey and Cheerios.

Now, to clear up any doubt, yes it kinda looks like he's sitting on a toilet, and then I realized "Duh, he's a bee. He has to be on a giant top hat.". The logic kicked in. HE'S BIGGER THAN THE HAT. Cereal mascot or not, my normal rule of standing still when a bee flies up to me would not apply. I'd be chasing him with one of those slime guns from Ghostbusters 2 in an instant.
Don't just stand there, Sonny, bust a move...

Next up is Sonny the Cuckoo Bird. Now, Sonny isn't exactly Vanna White, but he really tries. Sonny's wackiness comes in handy as he brings the funny between scenes. Bringing the much needed comedy that Rabbit failed to deliver on, he either screws up the camera angles or the signs themselves. I'd rather see Sonny try his hand at physical comedy. Trix Rabbit just didn't seem to put his heart into his comedy. But then again, when you're main gimmick is being crazy over chocolate, you've got much more tools to play with.

It ain't easy being green...

Lucky, who was hiding in a trunk, waiting for Lucky Charms to be mentioned. Which, for a leprechaun in Minnesota, has got to be a rather daunting existence already. Lucky, much like the other mascots, just kinda feigns interest in the tricks Dan brings to the table and spends more time thinking about his beloved cereal. I'm getting the sense these tapes were made just to afford rehab for Lucky and Rabbit, because their attention is on nothing but dat cereal tho.

::In Bray Wyatts voice:: We're here...

Now we're talking. The much anticipated appearance of Count Chocoula and Frankenberry. This is what I was looking forward to the most. The other mascots were fun to see, but quite come on...it's COUNT CHOCULA AND FRANKENBERRY.

Alright, so no Boo Berry. But I don't really think it detracts from the appeal of the Monsters showing up. I'm sure it would've been great for all three on stage, but it works fine with these two. Count and Frankenberry seem to be the perfect stagehands, until Frankenberry starts tickling the magicians assistant's feet. Quite disturbing, Frank. Shame on you. Be a little bit more considerate to this young lady's personal space.
STOP IT FRANKENBERRY! NOT COOL!

The fun continues after the act when Count and Frank decided to take their bows and each character decide to fight over the applause and get into an attention seeking bowing-contest. Eventually, the pressure of fame becomes too much and both fall to the floor.

I couldn't ask for more from this segment. And yes, I say that with 100 percent honesty.


Meeting of the minds...

Now this one was a shock to me. The Smorecerer was not a character I remembered. And for good reason. He was apparently the mascot of S'mores Crunch for a very brief time. And on top of that, I never had S'mores Crunch as a kid so my knowledge on the cereal or the mascot is just what I'm seeing on this screen. I'm sure the cereal was delicious, and I'm sure our elderly wizard friend was a delight in commercials, but unlike the others in this video, it just wasn't meant to be a part of my childhood.

That said, the Smorecerer plays the curious old man in this segment about a mysterious rattling box trick. Attentive, he tries his hardest to crack the mystery, but comes up short. He's pretty loveable and endearing in his quest to find out why his magic is not up to par with Mr. Witkowski. I'm hoping that a proposed sequel to this tape featuring these two 80s magic superstars was being planned, but I have serious doubts.


Yes, I'm very aware of the unfortunate positioning of Rabbit's hand. But, let's be mature about this.
Finally, the gang comes together for once last trick on stage. The children and mascots come together with anticipation as they witness the disappearing assistant trick. Always a crowd pleaser. Dan takes us behind the stage and reveals his greatest trick in flawless fashion. I'd try to describe it, but I'd just ruin it completely. And you'd lose faith in magic as a result.



Following the final illusion, Dan and his crew wave goodbye. A sad goodbye, as I'm sure some of them really had a great time this afternoon of magic and hilarity. But, thems the breaks. I'm sure Dan had another gig that afternoon and the mascots had commercials to film. The kids? Well, I'm not exactly sure where they went, but I'm assuming they went on to become The White Stripes or something.

Calm down, kids, the ecstasy shouldn't take effect that quick...


Ok, so I was pretty snarky at times with this tape. But, it's all in good fun and based in love. My expectations were kinda low since I had never heard of it before and I was more than blown away when I discovered the lengths Dan Witkowski and General Mills went to make sure this was anything but forgettable. Dan, who seems to continue his magic business to this day, seems to have a lot of fun in this video and not in a forced kinda way. You can tell his passion for entertaining and teaching the magic behind the magic (that can't be the right way to describe it, can it?) shines through. He's like the Mr.Wizard of magic. I definitely would've watched his show as a kid and gotten a kick out of it.

While it's not the most widely circulated tape and most talked about slice of nostalgia, it's definitely a fun watch. I'd highly suggest watching this, because it is entertaining. One way or the other, you won't forget it. I kinda hope General Mills finds a way to do something like this again, it could be a lot of fun to see another special featuring these characters. I'd love to see Count Chocula and Frankenberry fight over attention on a cartoon or something. There's a lot of potential with these characters.

And of course I can't write this without the biggest thanks and gratitude to reader Daniel Goodroad who went out of his way to get me a copy. This article couldn't have been done without your help and I'm so appreciative of your assistance. Thanks Daniel! I can honestly say this was the toughest yet most enjoyable project I've ever worked on.





-Chad

Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday Finds: May 15th 2015

So, I figured since there's a brand new flea market/yard sale season coming up, I'd try to do another weekly feature here on the blog. A few years ago I attempted to do a weekly feature on the Facebook page called "Thrifty Thursday" but it just became too much to do after hitting dry spells. Plus, there's only so many times I can find the same Michael Jordan poster from 1993 and be happy. No offense to his Airness, of course.


So today, I'd like to kick off with something small. Nothing too major. I prefer to start small and build my way up. After all, flea market season runs until October and I have to believe my best finds are ahead of me. So without further adieu, I bring you the first Friday Finds:



First off, a delightful Pop Tarts alarm clock from 2005. It didn't really work and the price tag was too high at 4 bucks, but that didn't stop me from taking a photo. Any alarm clock featuring a dinosaur chasing after a Pop Tart? Gotta be good!!!





ALF!!!! Yes indeed! For 2.50, I gladly took these home with me. A children's book where Alf caused mayhem at the local fair and a Burger King Surfer Alf! Now as fun as that alarm clock was, these two were truly the VIP of that yard sale. And  after the first show of the season, it seems that Alf just won't leave me alone this early into the season.  Not that I mind. The more Alf the better. But this was a nice surprise. Especially since I never had the Surfer Alf puppet from Burger King. No way I was letting him stay behind. The book is pretty charming too, despite it's deep continuity issues. Here I thought he wasn't meant to leave the house!His disguise consists of a hat and a red sweater. I wouldn't say that's the best way to remain inconspicuous. But if I were a kid and had this book, I wouldn't have made a huge deal about it. BECAUSE. IT'S. ALF.

I'd say I started this off pretty well. Thanks for stopping by to see the fun stuff I found! Stop by next week for more!

Well, and any other day I post something. That would be appreciated as well.

-Chad



Thursday, May 14, 2015

Niagara Falls Comic Con Coming Your Way!

Convention season is here. A great summer tradition for fanboys and fangirls of all walks of life are planning their trip schedule and budget accordingly. Now, I won't be hitting a lot of conventions this year, but one of the only shows I'll be hitting will be NIAGARA FALLS COMIC CON:



Yup. I'll be heading over the Rainbow Bridge(the bridge connecting NY and Canada) to meet some of my favorite entertainment guests and comic artists and writers. David Hasselhoff, Elvira, Scott Wilsom, Tom Savini, a Goonies Reunion featuring Sean Astin, Robert Davi and Joe Pantoliano, Ryan Hurst, and comic artists Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti are just some of the names you can expect to meet on June 5-7 in Niagara Falls, Canada.

Ok, I know what you're saying, "Chad, it sounds like you're just shilling this show". Well, guess what, I am. Why? Because I really want to see the little guy get a big chance. Nothing wrong with a show like Wizard World or San Diego Comic Con, but the little, local shows are the shows that need are biggest support otherwise, we'll have a hard time getting more shows last longer than 2 shows. And good for us up here in the north, NFCC has been around for a few years now and looks like it could be a contender on level with the shows I mentioned previously. I get the sense the future is bright for this show!

Note: Sadly, Yvonne Craig cancelled.


I for one, cannot WAIT for this. I've always wanted to meet Elvira, The Hoff and Gerry Conway, the co-creator of one of my favorite comic characters ever, The Punisher. There's a LOT to do at this show, whether it's photos with your favorite stars, the great cosplay characters, the enormous vendors room, the Q&A panels, whatever it may be, this show has something for everyone. And lets be fair, you can't say that about every show. So, good for us! Bring Grandma Mary, bring little Billy, bring Uncle Rico! They're all gonna have a great time!


You can find more about Niagara Falls Comic Con at their website where you can find autograph and photo prices, schedule and floor plans. Tickets are on sale online until June 2, so get them now!


In my next blog entry, I'll be counting my favorite stars attending the show. Until then, have fun planning your trip!


-Chad

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

WWF Hasbro Happiness!

It was 1990. The 80s ended. We were looking to a new a decade for awesome toys and cool new technology. And shortly after the turn of the decade, us wrestling fans were given just that. A brand new toy line that would live on in our hearts well into our adulthood. Surely I must be referring to the WWF Hasbro line.

I don't wanna give away the surprise, but I'm positive that kid went on to become Nick Meece.


These bright and shiny representations of our favorite SuperStars of the day were some of the best representations in wrestling history. I mean, look at the landscape of the business at the time: cartoony, comic booky, gimmicky characters. Hasbro and WWF were made for each other. At a time when toys weren't made for collectible value or made to be admired for their playability. And boy did we play with these. I've rarely seen a figure without scuff marks or paint missing. These things were played with HARD. I mean they were enjoyed to the fullest by WWF fans of all ages. And if you're lucky, the special action mechanisms will still work today.

Today I'd like to share with you just a few of my favorites from the line. I guess there's no better way to start off than with...

THE UNDERTAKER:


Oh boy...I have to believe even the great powerful Oz McMahon had no clue how much mileage the he would get out of the Undertaker starting in 1990. Yes. 25 fricking years ago. This was his first figure and first major piece of merchandising. Taker is a big boy so Hasbro needed to use a wider body sculpt for his tall lanky body. His "Tombstone Tackle" is a pretty good feature for him to have, although it's always been a challenge to do his famous move, The Tombstone Piledriver. Back at this point, Taker also looked like an overgrown gothic ginger, so the figures head sculpt reflects that perfectly. Especially the bags under his eyes. Because...he's dead. So there's that. In my opinion, this is the best Hasbro figure we got. And yes, I'm aware that's not what every Undertaker figure looks like. My Undertaker has been kicking around since 1992, so he's been beaten up so bad, I wanted to touch up his paint, give him some tattoos and white his eyes.

It's a shame the famous "Orange Card" line never materialized since it looks like we would've gotten a head sculpt without that hat. Check out the prototype along with others that would've come our way:



(Taker's head can be seen third from left)




ROWDY RODDY PIPER:





Ahh! Roddy's been a lifelong hero of mine. I always admired him for his never say die attitude. For a guy in a skirt, he's one tough S.O.B. Roddy has also had a LOT of figures since 1984. I mean a LOT. All of them have always reflected a certain period and this reflected the ealry 90s when he had dreamy flowing shoulder length hair and a bad hip. To be fair, this may be my favorite figure ever made of the Hot Rod. It has that "Roddy's about to drop a smartass comment" look that he was known for. Which made it fun for play value, considering you needed someone to talk crap to other wrestlers. His famous kilt and iconic Hot Rod shirt are also present which makes this figure even better. If you want my opinion, this is the Hot Rod figure to own!

SGT. SLAUGHTER:



No stranger to the Hasbro brand, Sarge popped up in this line shortly after being phased out of GI Joe. Thankfully by this time, he had went from Iraqi sympathizer to Yankee Doodle, because I highly doubt anyone would have wanted to remember Sarge at his worse. Much like Roddy, this is my personal favorite figure of Sgt Slaughter, as I previously did a glowing review of his figure before. In fact, I'd go as far as saying this is my favorite of the entire Hasbro line. His stance, his face sculpt, his "Sgt. Salute" pose, and his gut reflecting his physique. Perfect. It's a great figure and quite frankly fits in on any shelf whether your a nostalgia fan, a wrestling fan, or a GI Joe fan.


BIG BOSS MAN V.2:

Good ol' Ray Traylor! He went from fat villanous cop to thinner good guy in a matter of a few years. He wasn't the best wrestler on the planet but boy, he sure was fun to watch. This figure represents his days as a happy cop who made bad guys serve hard time, as opposed to his first figure that was much fatter and a bland look on his face. His clothesline action may be the best fit for a figure considering his finisher was a scoop slam(in which a wrestler grabs his opponent across the chest and slams him down). And his scowl was a good fit as well. Bossman had a lot of charisma and instead of the villanous heel, which he was great at, I prefer to remember him as the friendly, jolly cop.

Also, his head sculpt made for a good Taz custom figure. I speak from experience.


DEMOLITION AX AND SMASH:


Hasbro released a lot of great tag teams at that time. Nasty Boys, Natural Disasters, Rockers, even the Bushwackers, they all looked great! But no team in the history of pro wrestling can stack up to Demolition. Of course, I'm biased since they are my all time favorite tag team but the chest sculpts, the face paints, the tongues sticking out, these two win any tag battle royal I had as a kid. Crush was also added to the mix around this time and was given a figure, but to me, he doesn't exist as a member of Demolition. The Crush figure was pretty good but Ax and Smash's figures stand fine on their own.


MACHO MAN RANDY SAVAGE:

Monumental childhood icon and one of the greatest wrestlers ever, this figure shows off Randy's psychedelic "space cowboy" phase from the early 90s which aside from his "Macho King" era, this is my favorite era of Randy's career. Complete with "jumping" power to replicate Randy's high flying ability and his "freak out, freak out" look on his face and the first without his famous acid drop sunglasses, this is one Randy Savage that can't be denied. If you brought this to play at your friends house, there's a chance you'd win any and all battles. Plus, doing promos would be a hoot. At age 10, you'd prolly be able to do a more coherent promo than he could.

THE REPO MAN:


One of my all time favorite gimmicks. Formerly known as Smash of Demolition, Barry Darsow was given a gimmick where he stole things,  snuck around the ring and wore an awesome trenchcoat that spelled out his name in stolen license plates. It was a fun gimmick especially at a time when gimmicks were overrunning the company and strangling the rules of what wrestling company should consist of. But much like PN News did in WCW, Repo Man stood out in a fun way. He never really did much outside of laughing at Virgil for being poor and stealing Macho Man's hat, but man, he had fun doing it.

Oh and he essentially was imitating Frank Gorshin as the Riddler from Batman. So that was even better.



Now if you'll excuse me, all this writing makes me want to have a battle royal...

-Chad