Saturday, October 25, 2008


Before I start on "No Weblog for Old Robots Week" I want to end my coverage of Vintage Space Toast Tour Denver with the customary recap of highlights from the ads I found there. Before I get into that, though, I want to bitch about what an enormous pain it was looking through microfilm for old toy robots newspaper ads in Denver. I thought a week would be more than enough to do a fairly exhaustive search of newspapers published during the last three months of every year from 1975 through 1990. But as it turned out, in the 80s Denver had TWO competing newspapers, each with their own daily and Sunday editions. Since some advertisers would put the same ad in both papers while other stores' ads would be exclusive to one paper or the other, I had to look through BOTH papers to make sure I got everything. Even with a week I ran out of time and due to prioritizing what time I did have, I ended up having to skip 1979 through 1982. It was a pain in the ads! RRRAAARGH!


Then I found the microfilms up through 1986 were made so that they displayed a negative image (white text on a black background) which is extremely disorienting for me. Plus the quality of many of the rolls was totally craptastic. For example, after much eyestrain I think the 1984 Circus World ad on the right is supposed to show car mode Wheeljack and robot Sideswipe and Mirage standing in front of a sealed Sunstreaker box with cassette deck Soundwave on the right, plus possibly some other figures. But because it's a blotchy, blobby, overexposed negative I almost missed it! It's a miracle I even found the ad at all! Sometimes the rolls were so bad I hoped I wouldn't find anything because it's heartbreaking when I see what I know is a good ad for a significant piece of toy robot history and it's a big messed up blur. RRRAAARGH!


The seventies were the greatest time to be a kid during Halloween because there was a fantastic selection of Ben Cooper costumes allowing you to trick or treat as a giant robot or ruthless genocidal tyrant from outer (or inner) space. I found a Woolworth ad from 26 October 1979 featuring Ben Cooper costumes of Darth Vader, the Micronauts' Baron Karza and Mazinga the Shogun Warrior. Unfortunately the line art of the kids wearing those three awesomest of awesome costumes was not grouped all together. You would think the the obvious arrangement would be Vader, Karza and Mazinga, but instead we get Vader and Mazinga next to friggin' Holly Hobbie! And interdimensional homocidal maniac Baron Karza is next to the kids wearing costumes of friggin' Pink Panther and Mickey Mouse! RRRAAARGH!


Okay, it's November 23rd, 1978. The unthinkable has yet to happen. Target runs the following ad for the Battlestar Galactica Colonial Viper and Cylon Raider with text admitting that they "launch missiles". Aside from the usual creepiness of these pre-choking incident ads, this one is all sorts of super ironic in that Target also runs a blurb saying "play safe All toys sold at Target are tested for safety at an independent laboratory. Target meets or exceeds government safety more way that says 'We Care!'" This independent Target toy safety testing laboratory sure missed a big one with those Battlestar Galactica missiles. I'm left wondering who exactly was working at this independent Target laboratory and what did it look like? RRRAAARGH!


An 80s toy robot line simply could not be taken seriously if it did not have a badass plastic tricycle. Transfomrers had one. GoBots had one. Zoids and Zybots did not. There is a correlation there. Plastic tricycle was the merchandising tie-in that said your licensed robot property was here to stay (at least until the next "product reimagining" as Rock Lords). And like the GoBots and Transformers before them, Voltron had a bike, too! The coolest kid on the block was the one who furiously peddled his Voltron bike like a madman from house to house, steering with one hand with his big metal Voltron in the other, screaming RRRAAARGH! RRRAAARGH! like a manic space lion. I admit being jealous as I stared in awe at the spectacle of devotion inspired by Voltron, but now that I think about it, he was probably just batshit crazy from all that lead paint poisoning. RRRAAARGH!


What was the largest 80s transforming robot toy ever sold at retail? A Shogun Warrior? The SDF-1? Fortress Maximus? NO! They all pale in comparison to GOBOT RIDEM. A 26 inch tall monster robot that transformed into a ride on toy more powerful than Voltron bike, more terrifying than a Ben Cooper Darth Vader Halloween mask and possibly more dangerous than a Target independent toy testing laboratory! You can goof on it if you want, but now that I'm a dad I would kill many Bothans for one of these. It is insanely awesome! RRRAAARGH!


naladahc said...

Way back in the day, when I used to go through the Toledo Blade microfiche, they were all negative image too.

And then the reader had to print them on this special thermal paper.

This was like a hundred years ago or so though.

Weasel said...

I admire your dedication; I would never have the tenacity to look through that many ads to pick the jems from the garbage.

And that Target ad is just plain macbre. Seriously, somebody was asleep at the wheel when they let that one out.


Minibox 3 Column Blogger Template by James William at 2600 Degrees

Evil King Macrocranios was voted king by the evil peoples of the Kingdom of Macrocrania. They listen to Iron Maiden all day and try to take pictures of ghosts with their webcams.