Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Beat You to the Rocket Punch

Last night was library night and you know what that means-more robot ads from the newspaper archives. Instead of going after 80's robot toys this time I went further back. I went all the way back to 1974. I thought it would be fun to read papers from the year I was born, but then as I loaded the machine with October of '74 suddenly I felt weird. As I was reading the news of the day, an unsettling feeling intensified. It's like I wasn't supposed to be there. I can't explain it, but there is something really creepy about reading newspapers from the year I was born.

I think it's partly due to the timeless bland look the Rapid City public library has. From the outside it looks modern enough, but parts of the inside might as well be from any time and any place. The area that has the microfishe readers is seperated from the rest of the library. The furniture is especially generic looking. Nothing looks modern. The microfishe readers themselves are technology that has existed since the 70's. There is no hint of what year it is when you sit there in front of those machines.

So when I sat down last night and pulled up 1974 it was like going back in time. I clutched my iPod tightly to remind myself that I wasn't in 1974. It was like that old Christopher Reeve movie where he goes back in time by emptying his room of all objects from his current time period and then he looks at the wall and concentrates on the year he wants to visit. The only difference was he really wanted to be back in time. As I looked at the pictures of the high school football players in the sports sections I thought about how they were all probably in their 50's or even dead by now. I did not want to be in 1974, especially at my current age.

[Although I guess it would be cool having knowledge of future events. Of course everyone would try to beat George Lucas at creating Star Wars if they went back to 1974. I probably wouldn't be able to create a movie, but I could write approximations of the Star Wars speaking lines off the top of my head and animate it with clay puppets and cardboard spaceships on public access television. Then when he comes out with it three years later I could sue him for ripping off my public access puppet show, thus toppling the Star Wars empire and preventing the creation of about ten million nerds.]

I always think about going back in time but as it was happening last night at the library, instead of feeling nostalgic and happy I got all bummed out because 1974 kind of sucked. There was very little toy robot action going on. I searched hard for any hints of the eventual robo awesomeness that the world would develop, but no traces of robot culture were evident in 1974. Nothing seemed familiar. It was a desolate time devoid of internets. Was I really born that year? Where were the robots? I was freaking out. 1974 was scaring me. The ads had no robots of any kind. I drowning in a sea of Evel Knievel wind up motorcycles and Snoopy radios. Please save me robots from the strange toys of 1974! Oh god somebody invent the internet already!

I was all freaked out so I jumped ahead and loaded up the reels with years I was more comfortable with-1977 and 1978. Maybe one day I'll have the guts to load up '74 through '76 but that'll have to wait a while. And guess who awaited me in the newspaper ads from '77 and '78? Those goofy crazy robots with lots of metal and little articulation-the Shogun Warriors.

Like I've said before, my recollection of the toyline is bad because I was only three to four years old when they were at their retail heyday, but hell, they were robots and I was glad to see their ads. It was years later that I started watching their cartoons but for some reason the names of the Shogun Warriors toys were different from the cartoon names. Like I remember the Mazinga toy as Tranzor-Z because that's what the cartoon was called. And Dragun was known to me as Star Dragon from Starvengers, part of the Force Five block of japanese robo cartoons in the early 80's.

TERRIBLE COOL NEWS!!! I just found out that there is a company making DVDs of the Force Five cartoons and you can see clips from Starvengers at their site! DREAM COMES TURE!!!

Damnit, I was supposed to talk about Shogun Warriors in this post but I spent it writing about how 1974 scares me. So without further adeiu, the first ad waaay at the top is from a store called Gambles. It was published November 20, 1977. I like it because somebody hand drew Dragun to fit the layout of the ad instead of using stock images. The one that reads "Invincible Guardians of World Freedom" is another Gambles ad, but from December 11 of 1977. The "Almost 2 Feet tall" ad is from Mill's Drug Store published 28 November 1978. "Shogun 24" Warriors" is a JC Penny ad from 21 December 1978. The final ad is for the three inchers and it came from JC Penny's 28 November 1979 newspaper ad.

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