Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Transformer ad from 20 years ago of the week-Special team commanders

The first thing I wanted to know when I got all my Constructicons in 1985 was who the leader was. Was it Hook? He made the chest/head of Devastator so that's what I went with as a kid. Then later I saw the cartoon and they made Scrapper the leader. Scrapper! He was the leg! How was it that he was in command? Hook's personality appealed to me way more than Scrapper. At 11 years old I secretly hoped that I could develop a "skill of 10" like Hook had. I have carefuly crafted my whole life towards that one goal.

In 1986 the combiner team concept continued but with five member robot teams and this time it was easy to figure out who the leader was. He was the biggest guy in the team and he wore the helmet head of the giant robot. (By that headwear criteria I felt I was retroactively correct about Hook being the Constructicon leader.)

My first combiner team leader was Silverbolt, who I bought at a KMart on Zaragosa street in El Paso, Texas. Then came Onslaught, who I bought in late 1987 on clearance. I completed the Arielbot team within the year but I never completed the Combaticons until the mid nineties, I think. I did get Blast Off as a kid but he and Onslaught were my only Combaticons. I got Vortex, Swindle and Brawl in the mid nineties at a comic shop in Copperas Cove, Texas once I joined the Air Force and got stationed at Fort Hood. I never got any Protectobots as a kid-they were too ghey, and I puprosely avoided the Stunticons because I thought Motormaster looked retarded. I got my first Defensor from that same comic store in Copperas Cove later on, and I imported my first set of individually packaged Takara Stunticons from a Japanese TF dealer back in 2001 or so.

But let's get back to '86. I got Onslaught at a store where Ceasar, one of my 6th grade friends, worked. Up until that point I was just considered a nerd in sixth grade and nobody knew about the toy robot addiction thing I had. But it all went to crap when I bought Onslaught at the store where Ceasar worked. From that point forward I was outed in sixth grade as not only a nerd, but a toy robot buying nerd. Fuck you, sixth graders from 1986! Is it even legal to be working retail when you're 12 years old? Oh well screw them.

target ad featuriing onslaught, motormaster, silverbolt, and hotspot

So this Target ad from December 3, 1986 features the four special team leaders. And as usual those morons who made the ad totally screwed up the transform for Onslaught. For some reason Onslaught always appears with the Bruticus head attached to him. I've seen ads from Walgreens that do this, too. I can't recall if in all of the ads I've seen there has ever been a correctly transformed Onslaught. Plus they got Motormaster wrong, too. Motormaster comes packaged as the truck right out of the box. How did they manage to screw that up? Morons!

Well I'm going into town tonight to go get more ads from the library. It's become a custom every Tuesday night here in Rapid City. My wife goes to school and dumps me at the library. Spending four hours looking at microfishe reels of newspapers from 20 years ago is one of the bright spots in my week.

I'm still sick and the scar on my forehead is still raw, but hey-Halloween!

Monday, October 30, 2006


Ever since I hit 30 I wake up everyday to a constant state of midlife crisis, but what makes me different is that I'm so incredibly apathetic about what a colossal waste of time my life is that I don't let it get to me. I just accept that I will never amount to anything and I'm okay with it most of the time. But that doesn't stop the crazy thinkings in my head. What is up with the midlife crisis anyway. Why is it that everyone with a 30 year old brain is automatically signed up for a barrage of heaping doses of dissapointment and depression that will never go away as long as you're awake? Why must we wake up to daily self inflicted anal rapings of our minds courtesy of our double crossing brains? I thought my head was supposed to be on my side.

Today I woke up sick and when I went to take the trash out, a gust of wind blew the garbage lid up and it smacked me right in my face. Right on my forehead and nose. I thought my nose was broken it hurt so bad. The blood and swelling didn't bother me until I realized I'd have to be seen by other humans. Luckily I can decrease my exposure to them by organizing my day in such a way that I eliminate all contact with other human beings except for my wife. So I would only have to tell the incredibly stupid story of my messed up face to her. As I was wiping the blood clots from my forehead I thought about this. I also wondered if such moronic stupidity ever happens to George Lucas.

George Lucas didn't start the whole Star Wars thing until he was in his early thirties. When I was in my twenties I figured that everything was cool because I hadn't gotten to the age that George was when he started being successful. But now that I'm that old and nothing has happened I realize the extent of my fucked up life. Sometimes I'm a little pissed at how I won't ever be anywhere near successful as George Lucas, but then I realize I would probably have sucked if I tried. When I was little I wanted to be Mark Hamil anyways. I figured I'd do one great thing that only makes me rich and famous for a little while then I'd fade into obscurity. From my pre-teens to my early twenties he was my loser hero. Unfortunately thanks to voiceover work, Mark Hamil's career is booming again and I need to idolize someone less successful to feel better about my pointless existence. As I get older I find I am running out of Star Wars based burnt out slacker role models. At this point I'll settle for achieving the life equivalent of being some uncredited guy who played an ewok.

I can live with my current state of colossal failure because I never shot for any career that would have ever gotten me anywher near George Lucas stature. I never tried to be any kind of film student, successful or otherwise. What would be most depressing to me is actually going after a dream and not amounting to anything after years and years of trying. All my life I've been bombarded by cheesy songs and feel good Disney bullshit that preaches I could be anything I wanted to be if I tried hard enough. Yeah, well I know what I'm capable of and success ain't it. I would rather be fully aware of my limitations and live under no delusions than be mister aspiring film student who suicided at 32, destitute and alone after trying to make movies about flying space bears.

In the end my life was just as big a waste of time as a failed filmmaker who made terribly unsuccesful movies or worse, never even got a movie made at all. But the difference is that I expended less energy being a failure so that's got to count for something. I can sleep comfortably knowing that I don't let my constant state of dissapointment in myself and near suicidal depression affect my happiness. Or maybe not comfortably considering I have a huge garbage can lid shaped welt on my head and I'm so sick my eyeballs feel like popping out of their sockets.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Transformer ad from 20 years ago of the week-Omega Supreme and friends

I'm on a real high from the trip I took to Motive Parts & Supply the other day, so this week's old toy robot ad would be from there. This one came out either the week of November 24, 1985 or December 1st, 1985. It was one of those two. I'll have to look it up.

ad with omega supreme and other toys

You can see Omega Supreme here alongside Trailbreaker, Sunstreaker, Hound, Mirage, and Skywarp. At the time Omega Supreme was the largest Transformer ever. I remember visiting a Winn's store and seeing Omega Supreme for the first time. I didn't have any toys with the 1985 catalogs yet and he was a total shock to me.

The box was huge. I remember holding it in my arms when I was 11 and thinking how enormous he must be. The box's size was deceptive, though. It was only that big because he's made of something like 24 seperate pieces, the majority of which are big bulky armor. I knew we could never afford a $40 Transformer so I wrote off the possibility of having one because I wasn't about to get a job at 11 years old and work for it. Even then I was perfectly happy going without if it meant I could maintain my standard of laziness.

I remember Sunstreaker being my first Autobot car and Mirage was my sister's first. We got them on the same trip to Sears. My mom bought my sister and I all three Decepticon jets for Christmas of '84 or '85. So Skywarp was mine and my sister got Starscream. My sister also got Hound.

I remember seeing an empty Hound box as late as 1986 at one Winn's store in El Paso. It was so weird to see the empty box on the shelves. I wanted to ask if I could buy it but I was sure they wouldn't let me. I figured they would think I was the guy who stole the toy in the first place and I was trying to get the packaging, too.

I never had Trailbreaker, but I think my cousin Paul did. Eventually in the mid nineties I did complete my collection of '84-'85 Transformers with the help of eBay. I do remember picking up a Trailbreaker and a prerub Bluestreak in 2003 at a garage sale in Tucson, Arizona for $1 each. Both of them were in great shape but they were missing all accessories and stickers. It was still pretty sweet!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Twenty Years of Shelfwear

Things have changed a lot in the twenty years since I was a kid in the early half of the 1980's. Most notably, just about all of the stores my mom used to buy Transformers from have gone out of business. All of them-Winn's, TG&Y, BEST, and Revco. All gone. Only K-Mart and newer stores like Toys R Us remain back in my hometown. It seems all those little mom & pop stores that used to have vast selections of Transformers and other robots died out and were replaced by the big box stores.

I've gone to the public libraries and looked at their old newspaper archives everywhere I've lived since I left home. In each new place I look up the old toy ads and remenisce about times and toys gone by. Now that I'm living in Rapid City, South Dakota, I've been spending time at the public library looking at those same old ads from a new set of ancient, long since extinct toy stores. As usual the pattern of old stores with fantastic toy ads dying out and getting replaced by Wal Marts holds true. Until yesterday, that is.

Two nights ago while I was going downtown I noticed a small store along the freeway. I've passed it a million times but it's so bland looking that I never stopped to notice the name. I've been in Rapid almost seven months now and I'd say I pass this store at least four times a week. I should have recognized it after looking at all those twenty year old ads from the newspaper, because this was one of the mom & pop stores that used to sell Transformers twenty years ago! It's called Motive Parts & Supply and unbelievably it's still around!

Motive Part&Supply 11/23/85
Maybe it's not so unbelievable. Motive Parts & Supply is actually a store that sells a wide variety of products for your ranch, home, and auto. It's like an animal health products store combined with an auto parts store combined with a farm supplies store. So it's not just a toy store out in the middle of nowhere. Although from looking at their holiday toy ads I almost came to that conclusion. Man they had everything toy robot related back in the day! Transformers, GoBots, Star Wars, M.A.S.K., Voltron, you name it. Plus you could find a saddle for your horse and some hay for your goats there, too.

I decided to stop by just out of nostalgia's sake. Not that I'd ever been there before, but reading all those ads almost makes it feel like I've been a customer there for 20 years. As soon as I walked in I saw the toy aisles immediately to my left. What struck me as odd was how old many of those toys were.

I'm more or less knowledgeable on what's current in the world of the Transformers nowadays. So I was a little surprised to find toys still on the pegs that have long since disappeared off the shelves of the normal retail outlets. They had Transformers and Star Wars stuff from two to three series past. Stuff like Universe Depth Charge and Tankor with Obsidian, Energon Wing Saber and Six Shot, Built to Rule Thundercracker, and Star Wars Episode 1 battle bags were all there as if they came out last week although they're actually 3 to four years old!

Here's where the story gets wild. Not only did they have stuff that was 2-3 years old, but there were figures there from 15-20 years ago! Still on the shelves and still at retail price! They had MicroMachines from 1990 and Starting Lineups from 1989! They had at least one or two figures from obscure toylines of the eighties like Air Commanders, COPS, SuperNaturals, and GoBots. They even had a plush Cubby Gummi from the Gummi Bears. Gummi Bears came out in 1985! And the kicker is that all this stuff is still priced at or below retail. They're trying to clearance a lot of it.

They had two Go-Bots Space Hawks on the shelves. The Space Hawk was the last vehicle released in the Go-Bots line way back in 1986. This store had two of them and they were clearance priced down to $7.79. I bought one and the cashier told me she might have a Go-Bots carrying case in the back, so she went and brought it out. It was still sealed with the factory twist tie and it still had the cardboard Go-Bots product tag affixed to it! They had it clearanced down to $5.95. I was stunned. It was like walking back into a time warp.

The Space Hawk is actually pretty cool and I might go back and buy the other one. The other one had a damaged box-I think the window was collapsing a bit. Of course they both had about 20 years of dust and shelf wear but they were still pretty much untouched since the day they were put on the shelves. These Space Hawks still look better than any I've seen on eBay.

So I bought the Space Hawk, the collector's case, and a Sky Commanders jet. I'd like to go back but there's not much left that I want. It really is like a toy museum out in the middle of nowhere and I can't stand to speculate what they may have had still on the shelves only a few years ago.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


It's Halloween time and I've been reading and searching for scary ghost stories from all over the internet and watching scary movies but none of that traditional spookiness scares me. You know what REALLY scares me (besides when I leave the capslock on and I have to retype whole paragraphs because I wasn't paying attention)? MyDeathSpace.com scares me.

MyDeathSpace.com is a site that keeps a rolling tally of people who use MySpace that have died in the recent past. Usually a short article is written explaining how the person died along with a link to their MySpace account. It's fascinating and it's currently my favorite internet site. Usually the only obituaries I read are all of the old people in the newspaper. MyDeathSpace is an obituary column featuring the younger internet crowd. As I write this they're up to 867 deaths and the site is not yet a year old.

What really makes my mind melt is MyDeathSpace's Death Map. It plots on a map all of the dead people that have been collected at the site. Apparently young people don't die in North Dakota?

Seeing how random and pointless death is in its choice of victims scares me. Seeing all those young people's lives cut short by random acts of violence, religion or other assorted stupidity is really scary. Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The ghost of a robot nerd

I was taking pictures of myself in front of my collection to submit to the Gen Y Retrocast's Users Retro Gallery today when my camera did something spooky. I don't know what the specific setting was when I took this picture, but it looks like I shot a ghost!

Except that the ghost is me! Spooky! I guess that's what heaven is like. Nowadays it seems like the cool thing for robot nerds to do is to moan about how many toy robots they have. Not in a proud way, but actually bitch about how the toy robot hobby has overtaken their lives and they don't have space or time to appreciate their massive collections of toy robots. I say screw that!

I am happy that I have buttloads and buttloads of toy robots. I am happy that I've got so many robots I can't count them all. I love being surrounded by them in my robot room. Hell yeah! Give me more, I say.

I think the problem with other people is they collect crap just to be collecting-they buy just to buy. They lack focus and are consumed by consumerism. They're bandwagon hoppers looking for the approval of others based on what the sexy exciting robot of the week is. In other words, they're big babies who can't handle their own freedom to choose, so they choose everything. It may be cool nowadays to knock old skool robot lovers like myself, but at least I don't go out and buy every damn thing at Wal-Mart that says 'Transformers' on the box. I say screw the reissue Transformers, screw the Alternators, screw the 'Classics ' line and screw the movie.

As far as I'm concerned they stopped making Transformers back in 1990 and everything else afterwards is too little, too late. I'm already an adult. I don't give a crap about the kiddies and their toys nowadays. So screw all the kiddies and screw the 'adult collectors' who are all burnt out on themselves, burnt out on thier collections, and burnt out on life in general.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Holy crap I forgot about Botcon

Screw doing a text report. Convention writeups are old and busted. Who wants to read 3,000 words about how I ate A&W fast food with John Spangler Friday night or how I asked Peter Cullen if his kids sound like him? Nobody, that's who. So in lieu of a traditional text Botcon report I figured I'd show a ton of pictures and some video instead.

I finished my Botcon Flickr:


Or if that's too long and it gets clipped, use this:


...and I also uploaded a handful of videos to YouTube. Here are the links and text descriptions as they appear there.


Walking into the dealers room at Botcon 2006 02:01
This video was taken Friday, September 29th when the doors to the dealer room were opened to all Botcon 2006 pre-registrants for the first time. The band screws up the song but I guess I'm a nerd for noticing. Speaking of not paying attention, I didn't notice at first that are cameos by Aaron Archer, Simon Furman and Don Figueroa.


Kingbotz Devastator at Botcon 2006 00:32

Holy crap was I impressed with this five foot tall Devastator made out of Tonka trucks. What was especially impressive to me was how Mixmaster's drum rotated.


Trailbreaker going once... 00:53
Jon and Karl auction off a rare Trailbreaker package variant at Botcon 2006. Over the PA system you can hear the announcement of who won the 'Optimus Prime toy with your head' raffle. YouTube kind of cuts off the name at the end, but the last name was Greer and he was from Lexington, Kentucky.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Transformers ad from 20 years ago of the week-Goofy Boyd's ads

In 1986, Boyd's Drug Mart here in Rapid City ran a couple of mistake laden ads for Transformers. Normal people would let it go-heck, it's been 20 years. But super scary robot nerds like myself love this kind of stuff.

First up is the total train wreck of an ad you see here from November 30th, 1986. Not only does the text not make any sense (strike 1), but then they picture a Go-Bot next to the description (strike 2). I guess in '86 there were just so many toy robots around that they figured they were all the same. I guess the Transformers lexicon can get a little confusing to people who don't have carnal knowledge of Stunticons and Arielbots. But the toy pictured is a deluxe Go-Bot, and I know one of those cost more at retail than $3.39 (strike 3!) I can imagine the multiple layers of chaos that ensued when all those moms went to buy their kids Stunticons at Boyd's.

Imagine you're ten years old and you're one Stunticon away from completing your Menasor. You've got Motormaster, who you saved up 10 weeks of allowance to get. You've got Drag Strip the retarded looking six wheeled F1 car. You've got Wildrider the totally forgettable Ferrari. (Why did all the Transformer Ferraris suck?) You've got Breakdown the white Lamborghini, who's plastic is beginning to show the earliest stages of yellowing because it's taken so long to complete your set of Stunticons. All you need is Dead End the maroon Porsche, who makes up Menasor's right leg.

Let me tell you. Being one toy away from completing a Scramble City combiner sucked. Of course you could substitute an Arielbot or a Combaticon in the place of Dead End, but that would be morally reprehensible to me. You didn't know much about morals and values at 12 years old, but as a die hard Transformers fan, such substitutions were abominations. You are so dedicated to completing this set that you even refuse to transform the Stunticons you have into their Menasor configurations to roughly see what it would look like. You are saving their combiner virginity for the day when you'll have them all. You are so close to reaching that final rung of self-fulfillment in your personal heirarchy of Transformer needs you can taste it.

Of course parents don't really have the time or devotion to know every little bit of minutae about the Stunticons, but they can be taught. Your mom is especially willing to be trained so you as a twleve year old give her the rundown of how what you'd need to complete Menasor is his right leg named Dead End and here's how she can help you make this dream come true. You tell her the one final piece to your puzzle is a Porsche and it should be around three bucks and it's called a Stunticon. So then she's looking at Boyd's ad and there's a robot that looks like it could turn into a Porsche and it's described as a Stunticon and it's generally in the right price range. Your mom thinks she's gonna score mad mom points by getting you this Transformer and-double super happy bonus-it's on sale!

So she goes to Boyd's with this ad in tow and even if by some miracle they sell her the deluxe Go-Bot for $3, she's still bought you the wrong toy. So you're all dissapointed and on Christmas day you jump off the roof of the tortilla factory down the street by the dead end and when the doctors get though piecing together your mangled body they have to amputate your right leg. And since all the kids in 6th grade know about your nerd quest to complete your toy robot they give you the cruel nickname "Menasor Jones" to remind you how much of a big dork you are! AWKWARD!

Two weeks later, on Sunday, December 14th, Boyd's ran this ad. This time they got a robot from the correct toyline to go along with the ad. Their description still sucks, though. Using "Transformer Autobot Assortment" is pretty useless considering the Autobots in '86 spanned many different size classes, from minicars all the way up to the gargantuan (for 1986) Autobot city Metroplex. Speaking of which, Rodimus Prime is pictured-a toy that I know was in the $20 price range. But hey, it's $3.79 and that's 40 cents more than the Stunticons and Arielbots they had advertised two weeks before. So maybe that is what they were selling Rodimus for. Who knows. I wish I was in Rapid City back in '86 to see all the moms trying to buy Rodimus Prime for 4 bucks.

Friday, October 13, 2006

(NOT A) Transformer ad from 20 years ago of the week-M.A.S.K. Raven

I'm a big Transformer nerd but I run across lots of other interesting ads when I'm at the library so I'm going to use some of that stuff, too. Here's an ad from JC Penny for the week of Dec 14-Dec 20th 1986 featuring the Raven from M.A.S.K.

Of all the M.A.S.K. toys I've owned the Raven is the only one I didn't lose somewhere or sell off on eBay. I love this toy. It is easily my favorite, although sadly not as iconic or easily recognizable as some of the other M.A.S.K. toys like the Thunderhawk or Rhino.

What made it really fun to me was how the wheels could all fold under the body of the car. If you didn't go through the entire transformation and just left the wheels tucked under, it looked like the DeLorean from Back to the Future, except it was a friggin' Corvette! The inverted gull wing doors were an innovation I'd never seen on a toy before or since. I loved the rocket boosters that popped up from the rear spoiler. They were much better looking than the Thunderhawk's spoiler/rocket design. And of course, rotating the entire front end AND being able to shoot big round sawblades out the front bumper just ruled. The pilot Calhoun Burns had a lame name and dorky colored outfit but at least he drove the most awesome transforming Corvette of all 80's toylines. Hell, this was definitely one of the best toys of the 80's.

It never dawned on me until 2005 that no M.A.S.K. figures had eyeballs. How did they drive? Crazy!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Proving there's a fandom for even the most obscure and forgotten toyline

I am back from Botcon and all the crazy robot wackiness that was the week of September 25-October 2nd, but show reports and all that will have to wait. Dare I say-I am Transformered out?

Regardless of my TF enthusiasm being low, I got something in the mail that I've been excited about for years. As the webmaster of Sven Primenkopf's BLOCCAR World, I am a big fan of the dorkiest set of japanese building block robots ever-Takara Cultural Blocks System BLOCCAR. I intended SPBW to be the world's premier resource for fans of TCBS Bloccar. I would have reviews of each set and lots of pictures and all that other fanwanky stuff. But it all depended on me having a complete collection and I was one set short of having that. So in October of 2004 I let my Bloccar fan site die because I could never find Bloccar 001-Police Robo.

Trying to complete a set of Takara Cultural Blocks System Bloccar is like trying to complete a set of Maxx Steele Robo Force-it can be done but it's kind of embarrasing once you're finished. It's not that they aren't out there-it's that there's no market for them So that put me in the weird position of having a hole in my collection for over two years. A hole exactly the size of one Bloccar 001 Police Robo.

Since 2003 I've searched as hard as one could consider reasonable without mortgaging my sanity. Then just before Botcon this year, one went up for sale on eBay! Unbelievably it was the only set the seller had. 'Who cares?' I thought! As long as the only set is the last one I need to complete my collection!

So kick ass! Sven Primenkopf's Bloccar World is back! Hello Police Robo!

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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.