Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I'm still preoccupied with toy robots ads from nineteen, nineteen, 1985...also 1984, 1986 and 1987, and to a lesser extent 1988 through 1990.



Like Chargertron, the Vintage Space Toaster Palace is always changing, rearranging. Last week I did a slight formattical adjustment that I hesitate to call a "redesign" because that would imply a) I know about web design and b) there was a design in the first place. I did what I should have done a long time ago and split off every different robot brand into its own page, including the individual years of The Transfrormers. This restructuring may affect the tiny number of people who bookmarked the old VSTP Transformers page (which now doesn't exist) and I know it throws off Google's cachebots but the internet will survive. The VSTP is still pretty unknown to the greater online toy robots fandoms so this doesn't affect anyone outside of its core readership, which is made up of the ten or so people who occasionally read PSMR plus a bunch of Netherlanders and that one guy from New Caledonia.

HE WHO BATTLES WITH MICROFILM MACHINES MIGHT TAKE CARE LEST HE BECOME A MICROFILM MACHINE-FRIEDRICH MACROCRANIOS
King Soopers 12/22/85

I didn't realize I had such a big backlog of Transformers ads but last week I added around 120 new* Transformers ads spanning every year from 1984 through 1989. It is very dangerous spending so much time working on so many old Transformers ads before I go to bed because it gets me dreaming about 1985 constantly and it's all very depressing. There is a terrible price paid in sanity for every grocery store ad with transforming toy robot Porsches that I raise from their microfilm tombs. The more I save these ads from the dead obscurity of being filed away on some library's aged microfilm reels in some forgotten drawer, the more they pull me back to the time from whence they came. My very earliest memory is from when we moved out of my dad's apartment in '77 or '78 and I'm three or four years old looking out the back window of the car as the apartment fades into the horizon. Well in the middle of Transformers ad processing last week I dreamt one night that it was 1979 and I was renting my dad's old apartment but I was an adult (or as close as I'll ever be to being one).

And I knew of the coming Toy Robots Wars of the 1980s and I was preparing for them, making sure I had a good 1979 job and eliminating any unnecessary luxuries like furniture or clothing that might take up apartment space I could better use to stockpile all the robots I was going to buy. And I remember waiting, waiting, waiting in my empty dream apartment with a calendar on the wall that just said 1985 on it, thinking, 'Okay, now I'm ready'. I faintly remember my dream life's routine was going to my good 1979 job and being in a hurry to come back each day to this empty apartment to wait for 1985. Waiting for 1985 became the whole point of my existence. Then as I started to wake up, my dream self was screaming I'M READY THIS TIME! I DON'T WANT TO GO BACK! I DON'T WANT TO GO BACK! I have never had a nightmare before where I woke up feeling sad that it couldn't nightmare me more. Know this-that there is a dream monster more frightening than Freddy Krueger and his name is King Soopers.

THE TRANSFORMER FANDOM IS MORE CONCERNED WITH WHERE OPTIMUS PRIME'S TRAILER WENT AND WHAT WAS THE SHAPE OF HIS ROBOT GENITALIA
B Dalton 12/08/85

One thing I hate hate hate is how much I still don't know about the specific timeframe of many aspects of toy robots history. Today we have sites archiving information like incredibly specific release dates for every toy robot line that comes out of Japan, but such information gets fuzzier the farther back you go in time. And if you go far back enough, virtually nothing is known save that the toys exist. With lines like Shogun Warriors or Micronauts the best many sites devoted to those lines can do is give approximations regarding release dates like "in the late seventies". The Transformers is just on the cusp of being forgotten history, as is I'd say every toy robot line from 1984. Still there are some historic elements about even the Transformers that seem to be lost forever. When I got to this B. Dalton ad for the VHS releases of first season Transformers episodes by Family Home Entertainment I wondered if specific release dates for these videos could be figured out. Videophiles and the consumer video market have existed since the days of VHS so I thought this information would have to be somewhere on the internet but I could not find it. The best I could do was a couple of VHS best sellers lists from articles written in the Los Angeles Times during late 1985 mentioning the first few volumes of these F.H.E. tapes sold in the top ten of kid videos. I couldn't find specific release dates for each volume, but from the ads I've found I know that at least up through volume seven was released by October of '85. I was able to find out that in February of 1986 F.H.E. announced it would be lowering the retail price of these tapes from $14.95 to $9.95. This price drop announcement and the B Dalton ad were clues in a puzzle I'd been wondering about-the puzzle of why these old Transformers VHS tapes exist in two different sizes of boxes. You can see scans of the larger boxes here and ebay oftentimes has some examples of the smaller ones. I wondered if the lowered price coincided with the release of the smaller boxes. But again, that information is not easily Googled. I guess there are some factoids too insignificant for even the most obsessed internet documentarians of imaginary cartoon robot penises.

K-Mart 10/09/85

AND IF YOU GAZE FOR LONG INTO A K-MART AD FOR OMEGA SUPREME, THE K-MART AD FOR OMEGA SUPREME GAZES ALSO INTO YOU

NEXT TIME ON 'IT CAME FROM VINTAGE SPACE TOASTER PALACE': TRANSFROMERS 1986

*over 20 years old

3 comments:

Hooper_X said...

I dunno if it would help or not, but when I was doing my thesis research, I read a LOT of old issues of "Billboard." After about '82-ish, they had "Hot Home Video Releases" or similar. You might just be able to figure something out with those - there were probably also video industry insider magazines back in the day, but I couldn't tell you anything about them. You oughta be able to find a library somewhere around you with Billboard on microfiche - try a college?

Evil King Macrocranios said...

Thanks for the lead! I do have some good libraries coming up in the future and I will check that out.

deadbeat Senna said...

I think the site would be more user friendly if the Transformers were grouped by robots instead of years. If they were greoupd by their robot name it would be easier to find a specoific one.

 

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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.