Sunday, January 18, 2009


This past November the good evil Doctor Henry Macrocranios Jones and I descended upon the mighty Jesse H. Jones Building in Houston, Texas searching for roboplastical holy grails in the form of 20 year old toy robots newspaper ads. In keeping with Macrocranian tradition, let us now reflect upon our Houstonian adventure and try to sort out what exactly we learned about life, love, and the Cannon 800 series microfilm scanner.

12 November 1985

Houston's main library finally finished with their renovations sometime after my last visit in 2007. Back then they had a temporary setup with the microfilm machines crammed into a small corner of a room in another building. It sucked! The new setup is a tryptzillion times better plus they now have each scanner paired with a small PC so instead of paying for hardcopy printouts, I could make digital copies of whatever was on the screen and transfer them to a USB thumb drive for free. An added bonus to having a PC there was I could load up a CD with the Vintage Space Toaster Palace to help me figure out what ads I already had while I was searching. Those computers are isolated from the network and not hooked up to the internet and you would think the staff already knew this. But one librarian lady saw my screen with the VSTP on it and she looked at me like I was a criminal and said, "This computer isn't supposed to have internet!" And I sighed and my eyes rolled up in my head and I couldn't believe this was happening but of course it was happening. Because Vintage Space Toast Tour isn't about searching through the microfilms in peace and quiet, it's about getting my balls busted by 80 year old librarian ladies who think I'm some sort of super computer hacker looking at 25 year old GoBots ads.

Fiesta Mart 20 October 1984

As it turned out, having the microfilm machine hooked up to a scanner wasn't anywhere near as great as I thought it would be. The scans ended up being just as crappy and bleached out as every other craptastic paper printout I've ever paid 15 cents for. The only difference is that they're digital. I thought, hell, screw that, I'm sticking to using my camera. To be fair I must admit that if the ad is a straight black and white line drawing with no significant greyscale tones or if it wasn't originally a color picture then the scanner works well. But rarely do I come across those kinds of ads and using the scanner is a waste the majority of the time. To illustrate, below is part of a Service Merchandise ad from 03 November 1985. The first picture is the digital scan and the second is a shot I took of the screen with my camera, which is my method of choice. You'll notice both versions of the ad are pretty much crappy black and white blobs, but I like to think using a camera is a superior way of achieving those crappy results.

12nUnder 12/19/85

One other problem I had in Houston was that there were only three microfilm scanners. Maybe that's good enough here in 60,000 people Rapid City, but Houston has over five million people. Jesse Jones needs to start figuring out how to run his library. One day I showed up and there were already three guys on the machines and I had to wait. Damnit, I have never ever had to wait for a microfilm machine in my life. Am I being indignant or has looking at old newspapers on microfilm suddenly become the craze that's sweeping the nation? One guy in particular really pissed me off because not only was he blabbering all loud on his cell phone, not only was he there multiple days in a row, but he also took all of the reels for holiday season 1988! That fucker! I learned from his phone conversation that he was printing out his old high school basketball player stats to impress his friends. What an idiot! Consequently I was unable to search late November and December of 1988 and I got pissed. I tried to come back a different day and time but he was always there and he always had his basket full of 1988, which created a situation not unlike that whole Charlie Brown/Lucy/football thing. I'm still so pissed off about it that I just wasted a whole paragraph instead of writing about this great Voltron ad I found with line art of every Voltron action figure all in one place, all in one ad, which I have never seen before. Fuck that guy!


Foley's 12/09/84
I really shouldn't complain because despite the setbacks and annoyances I got a lot of ads looking done. I think the total was in the neighborhood of 42 rolls, the majority of which I did with my son, which was no easy task. I did kind of get burnt out a little while I was there but going to the library five days a week for two weeks looking at microfilm while trying to keep a toddler from melting down will do that to you. Sometimes though there were beautiful ads I had never seen before like this one for Godaiken(sic) robots from 1984 and I felt like I was having the time of my life. Knowing that there are still many rolls of undiscovered robots ads that I haven't yet gotten around to is exciting in a way. It gives me something to look forward to the next time we're visiting my mother-in-law. But I'm sure there'll come a day when I've done all the ads looking I can do in Houston and then I don't know what's going to happen. What do over five million people do if they're not looking at microfilms? Can cameras be used for taking pictures of something other than microfilm machine screens? What kind of librarian doesn't know HTML? What lies beyond 1988? How can you be good, evil, and a doctor all at the same time? Do you remember love? HOW MUCH ROBOTECHS CAN I BUY FOR TEN BUCKS?

1 comment:

Bubbashelby said...

I found a couple pieces of that space craft robot shown in that ad:


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.