Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Pondering the imponderable mysteries like the anthropological worth of toy robot collections and should I renew my website hosting

When I was eleven years old in '85 I thought the Transformers from 1984 and 1985 would always be in the stores. Then in '86 as all the old guys disappeared from the shelves I realized this wasn't the case. I felt like I missed out forever and this feeling was a strong motivation for me to start hitting the garage sales and flea markets while other teenagers were busy hitting other stuff. I was a self-appointed teenage Noah of the roboplasticos, trying to save the toy robots from extinction so that I could one day repopulate the world with my collection of Dinobots.


Then in my early twenties the internet came along and I saw a lot of other guys were just as batshit crazy as me. At first there were websites with text lists of people's collections and later there would come colossal photo archives. How un-special I felt at discovering were lots of toy robot Noahs (even Japanese ones) and it turned out they all had bigger Arks than me. I felt humbled at having been so thoroughly bested in my goal of creating an Indiana Jones warehouse of toy robots, but also very relieved because it meant I didn't have to keep thinking my Gears was the last surviving example of that toy in all the world and I had failed humanity because he was all fucked up and missing an arm.


Thanks to the internet the impending roboplastic apocalypse that I was building an Ark full of toy robots for was averted. I was pretty sure we were covered if hostile reptilians from outer space came to destroy earth unless we could show them the entire Transformers product line from 1984 through 1990 still in the box (and with examples of Japanese packaging). So I turned my attention to a separate and somewhat scholarly, yet still incredibly robotarded pursuit-that of collecting old toy robots newspaper ads. I figured I could still carve out a niche. Even if I couldn't be the roboplastic Noah maybe I could be the guy selling flood insurance after the waters subsided. I SENSED THERE WOULD BE A MARKET.


But it just dawned on me last night that as technology advances it is almost guaranteed that all libraries will eventually digitize their microfilm archives and make them freely available on the internet. It's inevitable. All this running around I do to different cities in search of new* toy robots newspaper ads is another epic waste of time and effort on a scale of biblical proportions. One day we will all have access to centuries of digitized newspaper archives that will make my Vintage Toaster Space Palace look more like a not-so-vintage space toaster porta potty. Thanks to the internet I went from being the Noah of toy robots fandom to the flood insurance salesman of toy robots fandom to finally the porta potty janitor of toy robots fandom.


The internet needs to see this now!
I'm better off realizing all of this now instead of later. It's not going to stop me from doing the old ads thing and I'm not going to stop paying my webhosting bill anytime soon just because library websites will one day kill the only sense of self worth I derived from my pointless hobby. Ultimately everything in life is pointless but we still keep wiping our butts. This isn't one of those things we do because it makes us happy. I know one day my obsolete Vintage Toaster Palace Toaster Space website will be nothing more than a broken link to content that disappeared off some server a long time ago. But until that day, the world needs its toy robots ads porta potty emptied now and I don't see the roboplastic internet Noahs rushing to do this job. YOU'RE WELCOME, VOLTRON FANS!

*twenty five year old

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Introducing the Robotarded way of choosing your next vacation destination OR: Chromes and gleams are music to my eyes

I'm not doing too good when it comes to finding other internetters that will help me out with my vacation planning. Before Botcon '08, I searched blogs and boards and every other social network style site I could find in the hopes that somebody in Cincinnati would tell me about good independent music stores before I got there. Instead of wasting time searching for CD shops myself I wanted to waste time doing what I was really in Cincinnati for-to find old toy robots ads on the library microfilm machines. Everyone I emailed didn't write me back, though. Why do people list their contact information on their message board profiles if they don't want to be contacted about their interests and experiences, and more importantly, help me out? I know if some guy I never met before who calls himself Evil King Macrocranios emailed me looking for stores that sell Helloween CDs in my neighborhood I would be wanting to email him back immediately. (Either that or I'd be wanting to erase all my personal information from the internet immediately.)


This October I've got an opportunity to squeeze in one last city on Vintage Space Toast Tour 2008. I have it narrowed down to either Denver, Colorado, Sioux Falls, South Dakota or Omaha, Nebraska. For most people choosing a vacation this would be a no-brainer because Denver is a sexy exciting place, but the reason for my visit has nothing to do with vacation, sex or excitement. This is all about getting more material for the Vintage Space Toaster Palace. Old toy robots newspaper ads is serious business. This is like the Olympic committe choosing the next city except criteria like tourist attractions or friendliness of the natives doesn't matter to me-the only thing that matters is how many Children's Palaces they used to have and when did they get their first Lionel Playworld.


My travel plans almost went down the crapper when I saw some Japanese guy is auctioning off his chrome Soundwave with a starting bid of 60,000 yen-that's around 600 dollars America money. Chrome Soundwave is another one of those roboplasticos fantásticos of dubious origin that's so shiny I think to myself, "Yeah, my wife and son wouldn't mind eating Ramen Noodles for three months". Coincidentally, 60,000 yen in America money is about how much I'll need for the last stop on Vintage Space Toast Tour 2008. There's no question now that I'd rather hit the road than bid on the robo, but if this were the 1990s and I was in my twenties I would probably have gotten in a ridiculous bidding war and paid crazy money for the chance to stay home every weekend with chrome Soundwave. Which is stupid because if this was the nineties and I was in my twenties, gas would still be 89 cents a gallon. I look at all the toy robots I bought when I was in my twenties and cry because in my youth I could have traveled and experienced so many things with that money. Also, strippers.


I am not trying to diss chrome Soundwave or justify to myself the reasons I won't be getting it. Chrome Soundwave is truly a fantastic piece of great value to toy robots anthropologists everywhere but my priorities have changed over the years. I look at this toy and I see where my priorities are now and how much I've changed and it's pretty crazy. I used to eat this stuff up! What trips me out is not that I'm passing on this, but that I'm okay I'm passing on this and I'm excited about spending time in a library instead of buying another robot. It's like I was once one kind of person and now I'm another kind of person. Is there a name for this process?


Although I expected to be totally ignored, I emailed some internet people in Denver, Sioux Falls and Omaha and the Denver guy got back to me! Holy hell the internet actually works. He said he thinks he remembers Playworld being open in Denver around 1983. He may as well have been Kaycee Kangaroo checking my luggage and handing me my boarding pass because those were the magic words. I think that's gonna do it unless I can get confirmation that Sioux Falls or Omaha had both Playworld and Children's Palaces in the early 80s. Wherever I go, I know that when I'm in the library getting dizzy from the microfilms I'll be thinking about chrome Soundwave. And if I won chrome Soundwave I'd be thinking about the library I could be getting dizzy at. And if I paid strippers $600 to dress up in aluminum foil Soundwave costumes I'd be thinking about, well I'd be thinking about something else.

Monday, August 25, 2008

(Sky)Raiders of the Lost (green) Ark

I've been doing some research for my "25 years ago in Transfromers" series and I came across a pretty decent copy of the very first Transformers commercial ever aired. So I YouTubed it because unbelievably I could not find it anywhere. (Or more believably, I could not figure out the right search terms to find it in the first place. THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE.)

This commerical is significant because it uses character models and animation color schemes that were not used in the cartoon. The Ark and Decepticon spaceship are totally different from what was used in the cartoon, Megatron has a black helmet and a different fusion canon, the jets have black faces. There are more differences. I think that the comic cover at the end is even different from the comic that eventually came out. In addition to the Autobot and Decepticon sigils in the upper left corner, it looks like Jazz is shown flying by Optimus Prime's leg instead of Gears as in the published version of the comic. You too would be able to see these things clearly if the uploaded version didn't have so much pixelization or image blocking or whatever they call it when you look at YouTube videos that look like crap.


The YouTube quality is so atrocious that instead of making me a big internet hero I expect this video will instead be a source of ridicule and embarrassment. Kind of like my whole experience with toy robots in the first place. I hate that horrid audio lag every video I upload to YouTube always ends up with. Why does everyone else have such pretty YouTubes and mine are so awful? I'm trying to figure out where I can upload the original because it looks very pretty compared to the YouTube version, but what can you do? What gets me is if I am going to jail for uploading copyrighted stuff to YouTube I at least wish it would look great.

Friday, August 22, 2008

25 Years Ago in Transfromers PART ONE: Happy Birthday, Robot Formerly Known as Battle Convoy

I was listening to a anime podcast last year and as the guy was talking about all the great panels he went to at Otaky-con (or whatever they call their big get together), he mentioned a panel called "25 years ago in Anime". I can't find anything on the internet revealing what exactly was discussed during that panel but I really liked the concept. I was thinking it would be really cool to do a series of blog posts discussing the history of the early Transformers toys and what it was like to be a kid back then. And then I thought, well hell, that's what I'm always doing anyways so how is that any different from the robotarded crap I usually write about. Then I realized that instead of rambling all unfocusedly as I usually do, what I had in mind was a well researched, well written retrospective series of articles focusing on the origins of Transformers and the era during which they were released, written chronologically on the anniversary of important milestones in the history of the toyline. But then I just laughed and thought, "Yeah right, like that's really gonna happen".


Because in the end I'm just a guy that doesn't know much about the toy robots I had when I was a kid and my collection isn't all that great. I have little robo-credibility. The only pre-Transformer toy robot I have is a Microchange minicar that my friend Maz gave me at Botcon. There was even that time at Botcon when I told a dealer I was interested in buying his Soundwave bop bag and as I was pointing to it he looked at me and went, "Um, that's an Optimus Prime bop bag". Duh. I'm easily the most unqualified person in the Transformer fandom to be writing about any of this stuff. SO HERE IT GOES ANYWAYS.


Even though I don't know anything, I thank Zeus I have friends that do. The same guy who gave me that Microchange minicar also runs a site called It's one of the best old school Transformer information resources ever written. On there he has an article about the release dates of the Japanese toys that eventually became the Transformers. That article is why we can be talking about 25 years ago in Transformers in 2008, which is 24 years after they were released. It was back in late 1982 that Japanese toy company Takara began the Car Robots subset of their Diaclone toyline. You can see in the article that the first trickle of toys that would eventually be Transformers were already released in Japan by now, or at least by now 25 years ago.


By July of 1983 a lot of classic molds had been released in the Diaclone line. The toys that would eventually be known as the Transformers Sunstreaker, Ironhide, Ratchet, Trailbreaker, Skids, Bluestreak, Inferno, Smokescreen, Hoist, Hound, Prowl and Jazz were already out. Of course they didn't call them that in Diaclone-they used the car models as the toy names. But we're all Amerikuhns here so I gotta use the names we know. Then in August of 1983, 25 years ago this month, Diaclone introduced the Ligier JS11 F-1, the New Countach LP500S and a semi truck they named Battle Convoy. These were the toys that in Transformers would become Mirage, Sideswipe and Optimus Prime.


For this first entry in "25 Years Ago in Transfromers" I would like to say happy 25th birthday to the toy robot that would eventually be known as Peter Cullen's meal ticket. It is somewhat fitting to me that the 25th anniversary toyline kicks off this holiday season with the reissue of Optimus Prime. I still have mine in the same shape it was the day I first opened it. Remember me this Black Friday when that snotty guy in the Wal-Mart toy aisle tells you that Hasbro is retarded for reissuing a 25th anniversary Optimus Prime in 2008. I have taught you what you need to say.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Returno of Dia de los Dorky Costumes

One day last June I was in Anchorage, Alaska really trying to stick it to the public transportation system. The people that figure out how much to charge you to ride the bus know that the cost of a day pass is equal to how much you would have paid for a round trip to wherever you were going anyways. It never pays to get a day pass but the idea of unlimited rides appeals to everyone's sense of freedom, independence and sticking it to the man even though in practice it's the exact opposite. So I have to squeeze in a couple extra destinations that I never meant to go to just to get that added value out that they don't expect me to use. I was trying to bring the Alaskan mass transit system to its knees by going to Suncoast one last time to check on the availability of Voltron lion force DVD tins.


As I was waiting by a telephone pole in some ridiculously remote part of town that I didn't really need to be at, two kids and their mom walked up to the bus stop to wait with me. I remember the boys were around eight or nine years old and the mom liked to smoke. At first I thought it was odd that one of the kids was carrying a plush Yoshi doll from that Super Marios video game but whatever. Upon further inspection it occurred to me that not only did he have a Yoshi doll, but he was dressed in blue overalls and a red shirt and his brother also had blue coveralls but he wore a green shirt and get this-he had a hat with an "L" on it. So not only did I have red Mario carrying a Yoshi and green Mario, but green Mario must have felt self-conscious because he was wearing a "loser" hat.


Terrorist Pajamas-Mervyns 21 Oct 1985
This was all pretty strange to me because you've got these two kids dressed like they're ready to get attacked by turtles throwing hammers popping out from the bushes instead of being at a bus stop in the middle of June. When I was a kid we needed a reason to dress up like plumbers and terrorists, like if it was Halloween or bedtime. Now they just do it for no reason. When I was a kid if I liked something I would wear the t-shirt of it, but nowadays the kids have elaborate costumes with props and crap. Maybe we saved the dress up for Halloween because our costumes weren't that good. Then before we got on the bus the red Mario turned to me, pulled out a Sonic the Hedgehog doll from his pants and yelled, "I'M A FAN OF BOTH NINTENDO AND SEGA!" I had flashbacks to that scene in "The Fly" movie where Jeff Goldblum the horrible fly monster is trying to get Geena Davis to shoot him through the head with a shotgun.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Olympic fame is no different from my own now that I've been mentioned on the Voltron forums OR: I'm tired of my fame paying out in Voltron dollars

My mother-in-law has been watching the crap out of the Olympics and she knows that in high school I was the 1992 district 2-5A pommel horse champion, which is probably why she thinks that a) I like watching Olympics and b) I must be gay. She must suspect I am hiding something because whenever she calls to talk Olympic gymnastics with me I ask dumb questions like which country did she think had the best men's floor dance routines. Apparently it is not called "the floor dance". It's hard remembering the exact terminology when the last time I paid attention to this stuff was 25 years ago. But you know I can't exactly tell her the reason I'm missing the Olympics is because I spend all my free time working on my robotarded website of 25 year old toy ads and reading the Voltron message boards. My mother-in-law already knows I'm a dork but I try to conceal the magnitude of my idiocy by keeping my internet life hidden from her. I imagine this is how Spider-Man feels when he can't tell his prom date that the reason he stood her up was he was out fighting Skeletor or however that goes.


I am not totally out of the Olympics loop and I do know that some guy has been winning a lot of medals. As I was washing the dishes I was thinking a lot about how this 23 year old Olympic level famous guy and I are a lot alike. I was reading about how he had a saying for when he'd practice swimming on those days he didn't want to be practicing. He called it "putting money in the bank". It's a metaphor for doing hard, laborious, seemingly thankless work now that will pay off in the future. This is much like how I feel when I'm working on the Vintage Space Toaster Palace putting up old toy robots newspaper ads. It may seem pointless and be a huge waste of my time now but I am sure it will have a huge payoff in the future. I'm almost sort of getting returns now-my site was recently mentioned on the Voltron message boards. Now that I think about it, being mentioned on the Voltron message boards isn't exactly the same as winning Olympic gold medals. It turns out I don't really have much in common with the famous Olympic guy (who I can't remember his name right now) at all. The hard work metaphor still sort of holds up I guess. Unfortunately I am only now realizing that Olympic swimmer guy banks at a different branch than I do.


I would like to think that deep down our fame isn't all that dissimilar. All fame is is being known by lots of people who you don't know. I don't know how many people read the Voltron message board but that thread the VSTP was mentioned in has over 75 views (half of which don't count because they are me). That still leaves around two dozen people who have seen my work. One of those guys was even trying to figure out how to contact me but was unsuccessful because I don't put my contact info on my webpages. This also makes me feel like Michael Phelps Olympics guy because like him I have attained a certain level of notoriety, except in my case nobody knows my name because I try to hide as much of my personal information from my fans as possible. This is in case I run into them at Voltron conventions. Yet another way that Michael Phelps, Olympic gold medalloid, is a better man than me. I am uncomfortable around people who would want to meet me based on my internetting. However, I take comfort in knowing that if we were to meet, Michael Phelps would be totally fucking terrified of me.


It doesn't bother me that Michael Phelps has more gold medals than I have monthly visitors to my website (half of which don't count because they are me). What bothers me is that his accomplishments are more easily appreciated by average people. I am sure that if Michael Phelps wanted to marry my wife, my mother-in-law would have no problems understanding why he's a great guy (although she would probably still think he must be gay). I don't think he's a Voltron fan so I don't worry about him stealing anything that matters to me besides my wife. At this point I don't know if I'd feel more threatened by a) Michael Phelps banging my wife or b) Michaels Phelps having a toy robots webpage that gets mad props on the Voltron message boards. I am not above learning from his example so I'm going to use his work ethic to make the Vintage Space Toaster Palace the toy robots website equivalent of whatever he did at the Olympic medalloid contests. I don't get how swimming a lot will help me make my website better but I'm willing to try it out. I think this is where his logic is flawed.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

where can i buy tardation furture?

This was supposed to be the week that the second volume of Beast King GoLion (the series from which Voltron was created) came out on DVD. But damnit, I forgot to go to Best Buy Tuesday for the big holy day of robot lion obligation and I didn't get it the day it came out. Now I'm stuck on the sidelines reading the reviews of it from people on the offical Voltron message board forums. It doesn't bother me that everybody who paid attention and got it on the day of release is infinitely more Voltron than me. Hell, I'm used to it. When it comes to Voltron I am always missing out. Voltron is like going to college-everybody else did it so they have this wonderful shared experience but I'm uneducated brown trash so I don't know what the hell is going on when they're all talking about it. Buying GoLion DVDs is also like getting a degree because at my age doing either is pretty embarrassing.

Let me tell you, it gets old not being part of the in crowd and being looked down upon. Although I am a bit old, lately I've been putting some serious thought into improving myself and finally going back and getting a college degree Voltron. There's a new Voltron set coming out made by Toynami that I think I'm going to get. It's essentially the same figure as their ultra super rare $150 limited deluxe die cast masterpiece edition, except it's made out of all plastic parts and it's $100 cheaper. I see a few fans are berating this release as inferior because of its lack of die cast parts. Dare I say that from the pictures it even looks like Plasticpiece Voltron has less chrome than the Masterpiece version. I guess plastic parts and cheaper price makes this release the community college of Voltrons.

But it's not like $150 Masterpiece Voltron was without problems. A couple of people who paid all that money for the toy were rightfully upset that it had issues. Issues like flaking paint, floppy joints and balance problems. I'm thinking a lot of that is due to Masterpiece Voltron being a Robometallico. A plastic version wouldn't have to deal with paint and it'd probably be sturdier since it wouldn't be so heavy. Plus if I order Plasticpiece Voltron from I get the Voltron soundtrack free. It's all so tempting. Never having had a Voltron didn't bother me much before because I believe in the Tyler Durden principle-Never be Complete. When I heard him say that I just knew he could only be talking about toy robot lions. If I buy plastic Voltron am I betraying my Durdesque lifestyle? Maybe I can reconcile the conflict by displaying Voltron the way Tyler Durden would-with one arm missing. Tyler Durden's Voltron only has four lions.

So where do I go(lion) from here? My wife just called from Best Buy and the employee guy said they won't be getting the GoLion volume 2 in until August 26th. That gives me two weeks to decide whether or not a plastic Voltron will complete my life. It totally sucks knowing that all the other thirtysomethings with college degrees are watching their GoLion DVDs two weeks before me while flying their $150 metal Masterpiece Voltrons around the living room in their underwear. OH GOD WHY ARE THEY SO AWESOME AND I AM SUCH A LOSER?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Go...for the GoBalls!

I just put up 50 new* GoBots ads over at the Vintage Space Toaster Palace. Why did I focus on GoBots and not some other crappy robot line I have buttloads of ads for that I haven't put up yet? THIS IS WHY. There's nothing like that contagious enthusiasm that gets me going when I find someone else is also wasting their time doing pointless internet tributes to obscure and forgotten toy robots from the eighties. What I really need is for someone to make a fake movie trailer for Starriors so that I'll get off my butt and update that section. Internet do not disappoint me!


Value Club 28 November 1985
In addition to uploading the ads for the GoBots bop bag and GoBots Mold & Paint Set, this update also includes another ad that may be of interest to GoBot archaeologists. This ad I found from a store called Value Club in El Paso, Texas is for a "3-piece set" of GoBots. This is intriguing to me because the only GoBots multi-packs I'm aware of were the Puzzler and Monsterous giftsets. At $7.77 this has to be three regular sized GoBots. I think Value Club was sort of a Sam's Club wholesale warehouse. Sam's Club oftentimes sells multiple regular action figures bundled together within unique packaging. I wonder if this GoBot 3 pack was that sort of thing and I wonder which GoBots were included. I guess I'll never know because nobody on the internet has constructed an extensively researched 200 terabyte wikipedia documenting GoBots wholesale club 3 packs from 1985. In the internet I am disappointed.


This Tuesday Morning ad from 29 November 1984 is simultaneously the most beautiful and terrifying thing I have ever seen. It is beautiful because it has gorgeous hand drawn lineart of the three most ridiculous toy robots ever made, which incidentally is also why it is terrifying. To think that an incredibly talented artist was reduced to rendering immortal the GoBots rifle, cap gun, and water gun is both inspiring and hilarious. Was this an example of art elevating the absurd to the level of the divine, or was it just a really well drawn sketch of a GoBot threesome? I hope that whoever drew this eventually got out of commercial art and later went on to greater things in the art world. I WONDER WHERE HE IS TODAY?


And finally I wanted to pimp this Lionel Playworld ad from 17 November 1985. It's notable because it mentions the promotional offer for the mail away Creepy figure. The regular purple Creepy was already available in stores but you got a green version through this special offer. I love how Playworld would go the extra mile and mention these promotions in their ads. I also think this is the only color rendition I've seen of the Leader-1 / Cy-Kill lineart, although you can't tell because the library microfilm I get these ads from are black and white copies. I wish libraries would have gone the extra mile and made color microfilms of these ads but I guess that would have been too expensive. I guess they never expected someone would be using their microfilm to make pointless internet tributes to obscure and forgotten toy robots from the eighties. THEY SHOULD HAVE EXPECTED THIS. LIBRARIES YOU HAVE DROPPED THE GO-BALL.

*meaning over twenty years old

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Deep down we are more like than unlike Super Ninetndos

I had a 'scary' dream last night that I could tell was my mind trying to scare me but not doing a very good job at it. Since it is my mind, it thinks it knows what I think is spooky but it half asses everything. What it tries to do is trigger feelings of fear and just tape them over some pseudo-scary situations that it makes up. I remember the dream had something to do with aliens following me and it climaxed with an alien in the bathtub looking at me while I was brushing my teeth and I saw him in the mirror. I ended up feeling slightly scared but more annoyed and embarrassed for my mind. Was this the most scary thing I could think of? An alien in the bathtub? I turned around and punched him in the face.


As I punched the alien in the nose I saw the fabric of dreamland reality warp around my fist like a whirlpool and I began to wake up. What I found strange was that as I was waking up I could sense the transition from the dream reality to the real reality. While I was inbetween realities I felt like a blank slate. Then I became aware of informations being downloaded into my mind. It was as if facts were being inputted to me a little at a time and I began to understand who I was, then where I was and at what point in my life and once the download was complete I felt awake and aware. For a little while before all the pieces fell into place I remember staring at the ceiling fan and wondering where I was but not being very concerned about not knowing. It was strange to feel like a blank slate being filled with memory or instructions or programming. I wonder what would have happened if at the instant the "who I was" information came to me, my wife would have leaned over and whispered "YOU ARE THE PILOT OF BLUE LION".

Monday, August 11, 2008


The Kingdom of Macrocrania continues extending its physical and political presence throughout the podcastosphere! The Paunch Stevenson Show episode 108 features me talking about my time in Air FOrce, Antractica and of course, roboplasticos.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


I was thirteen years old in 1987 when I started clipping out Transformers ads from Sunday newspapers in my hometown of El Paso, Texas. To this day I don't know why. You couldn't say it was for research purposes because I wasn't keeping track of what store they came from or what day they came out. Even after growing up, even after I stopped watching the Transformers cartoons, even after I stopped buying Transformers toys, and even after I stopped buying Transformer comics, collecting old toy robots newspaper ads has been the one thing I never stopped doing. I guess "toy robots ads collecting" best describes my hobby more than anything else. Like I'm a toy robots ads archaeologist. (Actually I prefer thinking of myself as the Indiana Jones of toy robots ads.) I don't know if Transformers was ever my hobby so much as clipping out their ads was, and all these years later I've never been able to cut it out.


I came full circle when I went back last June and hit up the newspaper archives of the El Paso main library as part of Vintage Space Toast Tour 2008. I looked at microfilm archives of the very newspapers I used to clip ads from 20 years ago. It's embarrassing to admit but I don't remember a lot of details about the Toy Robots Wars of the 1980s and I was hoping this trip would help me remember just how my childhood unfolded. When I sat in front of those El Paso microfilm machines reading newspapers from 1984 through 1987 it was like I was living it all again for a second time, except now I was paying attention. There were so many forgotten details about my childhood that popped up through those ads. So many questions I had would finally be getting answered. When exactly did Lionel Playworld and Toys R Us first open in El Paso? When exactly did those Transformers ads I used to clip from newspapers as a kid first get published? HOW MUCH ROBOTECHS COULD I BUY FOR TEN BUCKS?

Lionel Playworld 31 October 1985

I think I remember watching Jimmy Stewart on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson when Stewart said he would divide his life into 15 year periods and then look back fondly on the big events in each period. Well the biggest event in my 30-45 year period so far has been the birth of my son. The biggest event from my 15-30 year period was getting married. And the biggest event from when I was born up until I was 15 was the grand opening of Lionel Playworld just a few blocks from my house on November 1st 1985. I think the only dedicated toystore in El Paso at the time was Toys By Roy in Basset Center mall and there was no Toys R Us yet so Playworld was a huge deal. I still remember that opening night. Playworld had a weird mix of celebrity appearances during their opening weekend, including their mascot Kaycee Kangaroo, Dargon and Spidrax from Coleco's Sectaurs action figure line, some soap opera actor named David Wallace and Bob Lily, the first player ever drafted by the Dallas Cowboys. And just in case all that star power wasn't enough, the Lorenzo Duras Mariachi band was there. (Unfortunately I cannot find the Wikipedia page for the Lorenzo Duras Mariachi band).

Toys R Us 29 October 1987

Playworld would be the only game in town for a full two years until El Paso got its first Toys R Us. By that time I was a die hard Playworld supporter and wasn't as excited or enthusiastic about Toys R Us opening up. In fact I don't even remember going to the TRU grand opening. I bore a bit of a grudge against that Toys R Us because as a kid I thought it was singlehandedly responsible for the financial ruin of the entire Lionel Corporation. Now 20 years later El Paso ain't no city for old toystores. Playworld is gone, Toys By Roy is gone, Circus World in Cielo Vista Mall is gone and even that first Toys R Us will probably get closed down eventually. I was very excited to get a picture with my son in front of El Paso's first Toys R Us as it still stands today for the beginning of this post. The neon signage may be different but otherwise it looks almost exactly as it did the night it first opened over 20 years ago. I never could figure out what those multicolored steel beams were for but I've never seen another TRU that has anything like them and even if this store closes those beams will be forever etched in my memories.


Okay so Playworld's grand opening sucked for celebrity guests but if you wanted a toystore grand opening featuring some real rock star superhero celebrity gods of childhood, Toys R Us' grand opening on Halloween 1987 would not let you down! They had a Cabbage Patch kid, Kool Aid Man, Teddy Ruxpin, He-Man and not only Geoffrey Giraffe the TRU mascot, but his giraffe wife and two giraffe kids! Compare that to Playworld's mascot Kaycee Kangaroo who only had a baby kangaroo that would pop out of her pouch. She was evidently a single mom as noted by the absence of a kangaroo dad. My wife speculates that Geoffrey giraffe may be Kaycee's baby daddy. She said TRU may have had more star power but they probably paid a lot less money for their celebrity guests, who were most likely kids who worked at the store or possibly illegal mexican immigrants dressed up in those costumes.


Wow I can't believe I've blown over 900 words already on what was supposed to be a post featuring highlights of the robot ads I found in El Paso. I haven't even gotten to the any robot ads yet! I will just have to do an El Paso centric VSTP update post next week or something. There is still much to be written about that perfect storm of robots and toystores that was my childhood. The El Paso visit was such a big deal to me that I don't know if I want to continue collecting old toy robot ads. Stopping with El Paso would be a nice way to bookend the Vintage Space Toaster Palace (and this 34 year long toy robots phase of my life). Any further microfilm looking seems almost anti-climactic after finally going back home to where it all began. What am I going to do now? You know, I don't really plan that far ahead.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

EBAYTATION is the sincerest form of flattery (and irritation)

It is a strange form of flattery to see a robot figure I made get put up on eBay by someone I've never met, especially when they're asking for a price I would never in a million years expect anyone to pay. Then when these people make a couple hundred dollars selling that robot it also irritates me knowing I won't see any of that secondary market money. I guess it's naive and idealistic but I wonder why people bought those things in the first place if all they were going to do was sell them later because that's not really why I made them. Mostly I wonder what the hell is going in those bidders' minds. I'm getting ahead of myself, though.

Cybcon 2005 Jazz on eBay
Here's quick recap for those that have missed out on the last four years of my adventures in making toy robots in my garage. Back in 2004 I got together with some internet friends living in Washington state who had been running their own little independent Transformer fan convention for a couple years. They had seen some internet pictures of the resin cast robots I'd been doing and they asked me to make some stuff for their show anyways.

This show they were doing named Cybcon was unique in that they had been making their own convention exclusive toys for a while before I came on the scene. Pretty much what what they would do was take existing Transformers and repaint them and even add extra parts sculpted out of clay. Then they'd distribute them at the show as toy robot party favors of sorts. This is the idea behind "convention exclusives". They're toys that you can only get at a certain convention. The majority of toy brands with official conventions have some sort of convention exclusive but for a bunch of guys to get together and do this kind of thing in their backyard was a pretty crazy idea. And I'm all into crazy ideas.

Cybcon 2006 Kranix on eBay
Since I was into also into resin casting (the process of making plastic things by hand in your garage) I wanted to do a totally original, from the ground up unique figure never seen before. Now this was a pretty radical idea because even the official Transformer convention Botcon didn't have totally unique convention exclusive molds. It had been explained to the Transformer fandom why Botcon would never have an all original exclusive mold Transformer roboplastico exclusive and although it was slightly disappointing, people came to accept it would never happen. So again, for a couple guys to have unique toy robot party favors at their Transformers party was pretty wild. Now I'm not saying what we did was anywhere near official quality but just the idea was pretty wild. It was all exciting and fun to me. We would be making fan history of sorts. Looking back I can honestly say I had more enthusiasm and passion than actual talent and ability, but I did it anyways.

I made a small number of unique figures for each of the shows for three years from 2004 through 2006. The intention was that people would get them at the show and take them home and love them and hug them for ever and ever. But this is the Transformers fandom so of course profiteering douchebaggery always trumps sentimentality and a handful of the toys I made for Cybcon ended up in the hands of people who weren't there. I've never quite understood why. These robots I've made are nowhere near Hasbro quality and they're not even official Transformers. They look exactly like something a guy made in his garage by hand. I guess the allure of that secondary market makes people do extremely dumbass things (and I'm talking about the people on both the buying and selling side of this).

So when the seller writes that "This one especially brings me to tears to sell" in his descriptions for both Cybcon Jazz and Kranix, excuse me for doubting that (and thinking they're a total ass). I say it's outrageous that the starting bids on these are $50 and $100 but it's comforting to know they probably won't pull that. I don't care if the seller thinks each figure "represents all that is good about the collective creative minds in the fandom". Because I'm thinking right now as one of those creative minds that these auctions represent all that is selfish and retarded about the fandom.

Monday, August 04, 2008

The day I lost my Optimus Prime

My mom said to never take them to school
My transforming robots of plastic
But as a boy all I wanted to do
Was make other kids jealous and frantic

It was nineteen eighty five and I was eleven
and though fifth grade was a bit old for toys
With my favoritest robot hidden in mom's Astro van
I was off to make envious the other boys

It was the day I lost my Optimus Prime
the day I accused everyone of the crime
of stealing my best friend at the time
because the day I lost my Optimus Prime
was the day I lost my mind

It must have been when I went to lunch or recess
or when I went to take a short crap
cause sometime between then was when Optimus
disappeared from my Voltron backpack!

The other kids I suspected and suspects I selected
and I could not stop the my facial ticks and twitches
Some girls in back were giggling at my panic attack
And I screamed, "Shut the hell up you ten year old bitches!"

It was the day I lost my Optimus Prime
the day I accused everyone of the crime
of stealing my best friend at the time
because the day I lost my Optimus Prime
was the day I lost my mind

I got sent to the principal for distracting the students
But he gave me detention and then I concluded
The Decepticons got me real good this time

So for me there was no telling and showing or bragging
Only obsessing and accusing and nagging and scheming
And when the day ended and the Astro van landed
I knew I'd be dealing with my mom's horrid screaming

But without yelling to my room she sent me instead
and there he was right under my bed
with a note from my mom that clearly read
"If you ever do that again you're gonna be dead"

It was the night I found my Optimus Prime
after I accused everyone of the crime
of stealing my best friend at the time
And the night that I found my Optimus Prime
I finally learned to take care of the things that were mine

Sunday, August 03, 2008

In America it's "Halloween" but in Mexico it's called "Dia De Los Dorky Costumes"

It is August and according to my junk mail that means Halloween is here. Some company sent me a kid's costume catalog and it got me thinking about what we're going to dress the Prince of Macrocrania up as this Halloween. We did the cutey little baby pumpkin thing last year but this time it looks like his mommy is going to be away on business during late October so I can get away with dressing him however I want. I can't wait to see all the great toddler sized Japanese super robot costumes Toys R Us is going to have this year. Will I dress him up as Voltron or Getter Robo or the greatest super robot ever, Phoenix King? OH WAIT I FORGOT THIS IS AMERICA. Instead, my choices of toddler costume are limited to all-American favorites like baby Yoda, baby the Fruit Loops bird and baby Satan.

Carrs October 1986
The selection gets a bit better in the age 3-4 years range. If the baby was a bit older I could get him one of those Clone Smurftrooper or Boba Smurf costumes from the new Star Warses that are all the rage amongst hip nerdy dads. (On the other hand I'm glad he's too small to fit into the horrible Michael Bay robot chupacabra costume.)

I'm really impressed by how far kid costume technology has come. I like how they incorporate sculpted foam musculature and weapon accessories now. All we had in the 80s were crappy masks with plastic t-shirts. Back when I was a kid the costumes were so horrible that they had to write the name of the character on the costume shirt along with a cartoon rendering of how the head was supposed to look so you could tell who it was supposed to be. So if you wore a Voltron costume you didn't look like Voltron, you looked like Voltron wearing a Voltron shirt. Narcissistic Voltron. It's like when members of Iron Maiden wear Iron Maiden shirts while they're performing. It's all rock and roll. Hell yeah if I was Voltron I would wear a Voltron shirt. But the masks of the costumes were often so awful that kids would end up looking like Voltron got his ass kicked for wearing his own t-shirt. But you know it would be fun to go, "Hey baby let me show you the sixth lion-IN MY PANTS!"

I do give credit to the He-Man costume below for actually trying to be a costume and not looking like He-Man wearing a He-Man shirt. But the problem with costumes back then was they were little more than plastic smocks so it was impossible for wimpy 11-year-old me to pull off looking like anything that didn't have skinny limbs. If I wore a He-Man costume, chances are I would have looked like He-Man with bone arms. But I could do E.T. pretty good. Even at a young age I had that grey alien-like physique I am so proud of today.

K-Mart 23 October 1985

I think this year we're going to go with baby Yoda unless I can find something better. If I were the dressing up kind of guy I would be the adult Smurftrooper or adult Han Solo. I think thematically the Smurftrooper would fit better because Yoda hung out with those guys in the movies or something. I would call myself Commander Chody in case anybody who was more Star Wars than me asks who I was supposed to be, just to show how much I know about this stuff. Then my son and I could reenact that quintessential scene everybody remembers from Revenge of the Sith where Commander Chody the Smurftrooper takes Yoda to Burger King for a Kid's Meal and then Yoda poops himself and the Commander Chody changes his diaper.

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.