Saturday, January 31, 2009

Dark Landlord of the Sith OR: You check in, but you don't....know the power of the dark side

While looking through old newspapers in El Paso I came across an ad for a haunted house being held during Halloween of 1978 by the Jaycees and a local radio station. What made it awesome was that this haunted house was also a Darth Vader appearance and the ad superimposed Darth looming ominously above the drawing of the haunted house. In this post Hayden Christensen era where we know all about Darth Vader's emotional baggage and early bad haircuts it is hard to imagine he was ever scary enough to merit top billing at a haunted house. I can't believe there was a time I would pee my pants whenever I saw him, but back in '78 nobody knew for sure if he was a robot or a monster or a robot monster landlord which is kind of what the picture implies to me.


Whatever he was, I think from '77 to '79 were my favorite Star Wars years because we were all trying to figure out what Darth Vader was and how he fit into our lives. We were trying to make sense of Star Wars and there was room for everyone's speculation. Then Empire and Jedi unfolded and gave us Vader's identity but robbed us of his mystique. It was truly unfortunate that we knew the truth. I think I liked him more when he was this mysterious unknown, pee pee pants inducing enigma. But at least I still had the mysterious and unknown Boba Fett, who was mysterious and about whom much was unknown.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Knock it off! OR: Transistor? I thought it was her gay brother!

So my wife called yesterday and said, "Hey I just saw Clerks 2 and I need to know if you'd be offended by it before I suggest we watch it together. There's this scene where they're making fun of a little boy who likes Transformers and he reminds me of you and one person calls him a Go-Bot. Then another guy says, 'HEY! You shouldn't call him that! GoBots were cheap K-Mart knockoffs of Transformers!'"

Eckerd Drugs 11/10/85
And I said, "Ugh, there's so many historical inaccuracies with that statement. I know the normal person would probably pick up on the truth that GoBots were not knockoffs but instead preceded the Transformers by several months. What irritates me is that if they wanted to make the joke really good they could have just done a little research. Back in 1985 Hasbro filed suit against K-Mart for selling Transistor Robots1 which actually were knockoffs of Transformers. The joke would have made more sense and been way more funny if the insulting name hurled at the little boy was 'Transistor Robot'. Then the other guy could have said, 'HEY! You shouldn't call him that! Transistor Robots were cheap K-Mart knockoffs of Transformers!' Then the joke would have had some credibility and worked on so many levels. You would think Kevin Smith would know better. Or maybe he doesn't and it's just another example of Hollywood and the larger geekdom making fun of roboplastic culture with just their rudimentary knowledge of GoBots. It's so infuriating that GoBots has become this pop culture joke while the Transistor Robots really deserve the satiric ridicule for the role they played in la historia roboplastico." And then she said, "Oh yeah, now I know I have to see this with you." I was mistaken in thinking she wanted to avoid offending me. I forget she is 'neuro-typical'.

But it did make me want to update the Transistor Robots section of the Vintage Space Toaster Palace with half a dozen new* Transistor Robots ads I found in Houston. Once again they all came from Eckerd Drugs and I wonder why Hasbro went for K-Mart when Eckerd was the one so flagrantly pimping the Transistor Robots line. Hasbro's main beef with K-Mart was their selling of toys that were knockoffs of the first four Decepticon cassettes, but Eckerd was openly advertising ripoffs of the Dinobots, Insecticons, Jumpstarters and Decepticon Jets in newspapers. Maybe Hasbro did go after Eckerd and I've just never heard about it. Whatever the case, I originally planned on updating all years of the Transformers section by now but when this conversation came up, the Transistor Robots backlog became a priority. Because the Vintage Space Toaster Palace isn't about putting up toy robots newspaper ads people really want to see, it's about imaginary toy robot cockfights I'm having in my head with Kevin Smith.

1Associated Press (1985, April 14). JUDGE RULES IN SUIT ON COUNTERFEIT TOYS. Boston Globe

*24 year old

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How to make friends and write a 1970s newspaper ad for 2 foot tall toy robots (or die trying)

I've added about a dozen new* Shogun Warriors ads to their section of the Vintage Space Toaster Palace so it's time to look at some highlights and reflect a bit on some thoughts I've had about the marketing of the line. According to me Mattel's Shogun Warriors is one of the first two historically significant robot themed toylines of the modern roboplastical era, the other being Mego's Micronauts. Both were imported Japanese toy concepts but the similarities end there. While Micronauts emphasized their "micro" sized fantasy world, everything about the Shogun Warriors was big big big. They were portrayed in comics as giant robots and the toys were nearly two feet tall. There were also some big ideas in how the line was sold. Shogun Warriors pioneered the marketing of the same robot characters at different sizes and price points, which has only recently become common practice for Transformers today. In many ways Shogun Warriors was the template for how to manufacture and market a successful sci-fi toy robot line. I believe it would have gone on to further success were it not for Star Wars and the resultant decline in the popularity of toy robots that were not droids. I also believe GI Joe is a government subsidized mind control program used to recruit kids into the military. But that's just according to me.

FedMart 10/11/77
Also according to me, the first newspaper ads for Shogun Warriors began popping up in 1977. Most all the ads I've found from that year were for the 20 inch robots, not the smaller die cast figures and vehicles or Halloween costumes and related merchandising, advertising for which began showing up em masse in 1978 and later. It was the 20 inch robots that dominated the newspaper circulars for the majority of the line's run. The most notable thing about ads for the 20 inch robots is that from '77 to '79 almost every ad from every store quoted verbatim from the same set of talking points. From grocery stores to department stores, every ad had only slight variations in their descriptive ad text. I suspect Mattel furnished their retail clients with a master list of ad copy and the individual stores printed as much of it as possible depending on how much space they had allotted in their ad.

True Value 11/21/77
This True Value ad from 1977 could possibly be the most unedited presentation of all the Mattel talking points. Every ad for the big Shogun Warriors I've ever seen uses at least some of these product descriptions or slight variations of this wording. This ad is unique in that it also uses an "As seen on TV" blurb and I'm not sure what that refers to beyond maybe commercials. What was smart on Mattel's part was the lengthy descriptions applied to the whole line and not just individual robots, so any portions of it could be mixed and matched with any photo or line art of any of the robots and the text would still be applicable. This made the ad copy extremely versatile but not very informative about the specific figures. Occasionally I've come across ads with short writeups about what accessories the individual robots came with but that's it. This feature-focused approach contrasts sharply with some early Transformers ads that read like Playmate of the Month profiles telling the reader how the robot feels about his job and what his turn ons and turn offs were.

Skaggs Alpha Beta 11/23/78

As with many toylines, the chronology of character appearances in the ads gives some insight into how the product line unfolded. The ads from '77 featured Mazinga, Dragun and Raydeen and referred to the Shogun Warriors line as "three space age Samurai defenders". Then Gaiking (the guy with a big skull for a chest) started showing up during 1978 and the text in some ads changed appropriately to "four space age Samurai defenders". Godzilla also started showing up in newspaper and television ads beginning in 1978 and Daimos only appears in ads from 1979. (Dragun becomes less common in ads after 1978 so I wonder if he was replaced in the assortment by Daimos.) Godzilla is interesting because he's oftentimes featured alone without mention of being part of Shogun Warriors, but if any other Shogun Warrior figure is depicted alone it's always in an ad about the whole line. In fact I haven't found an ad from '79 that refers to any of the jumbos by their own name except for Godzilla. Godzilla's insistence on top billing and pursuit of a solo career is generally accepted as the main reason the band broke up.

Gibson's 12/17/79
Aside from being one of the first and literally biggest toy robots lines ever, Shogun Warriors was also unique for being the only robot toyline I've seen that so blatantly used its Japanese origins as a selling point. The inclusion of iconic Japanese super rockstar monster Godzilla in a toyline that was 99% robots seemed an odd choice unless they were really trying to emphasize how Japanese this line was. Then there was Japanese writing on lots of the toys and Mattel really beat people over the head by using terms like "Shogun" and "Samurai". Although they sound good, those concepts don't translate well within the context of giant robots if you think about it. But I guess that's just me taking things too serious. This was simply Mattel marketing a toyline, not conducting some experimental examination of American attitudes and perceptions of Japanese robot culture through late 70s Shogun Warriors newspaper ads. And what a great toyline it was (according to me).

*30 year old

Monday, January 26, 2009

VINTAGE SPACE TOAST TOUR EL PASO 2009: We had joy we had fun we had robots in the sun

I left El Paso last month feeling totally overwhelmed by how much old microfilm there is in that one library. I will never get to look through all of them for old toy robots newspaper ads because life is just too short. I kept having this dream that ends with Han Solo all in my face making his fingers into a "V" and wagging his tongue through them. It started when I realized El Paso is just one library among countless thousands and I will never get to see them all before that Yellowstone supervolcano eventually erupts and kills everyone in the northern hemisphere. The dream starts with me, the Mexican Luke Skywalker in the big ceremony at the end of Star Wars and Princess Leia is putting the medal around my neck at my moment of most solemn heroic greatness and then she whispers in my ear, "By the way, there's 99 more Death Stars." And then I look over at Han.

Toys by Roy 07/18/84


Every time I went to the library I noticed scores of people lined up at the doors in the moments before it opened. I tried to imagine what each person was going to the library for based on how they looked, but only very few looked like they were there for intellectual pursuits such as myself. The rest were either punk kids or vagrants, panhandlers and bums there for the internet computers. Then the doors would open and sure enough, the masses would swarm into the internet room and I alone would be left solitary amongst all the microfilm machines. What a waste of human potential. If only I could harness all the man hours the punks and bums spent internet surfing and focus them toward the more beneficial to mankind quest for Mighty GoBots ads from 1984. As the newspaper reels flashed in front of my face I was hoping for some sort of microfilm machine derived Stan Lee comic book accident that would give me mind control powers, but even then I knew it would not be enough.


Montgomery Ward 11/13/86
Even if I had the powers I desperately need to make mind slaves of people to aid me in building my Vintage Space Toaster Palace it would bother me terribly. I imagine that somewhere deep inside their zombified brains my microfilm mind slaves would be screaming in horror, "WHAT IS GOING ON? WHY AM I DOING THIS? SOMEBODY SAVE ME FROM THIS PLACE!", which are pretty much the thoughts going through my mind whenever I'm at the library on this insane search for Transformer underwear ads from 1986. But unlike my pawns, I know in a way nobody else can that this ads looking thing I do is all just excessive overcompensation for not paying enough attention to toy robots when I was a kid. This is me at 34 trying to be the fan I wished I was when I was 10. How could I ever in good conscience burden anyone else with my self imposed penance? The memories of countless thousands of toy robots I never had the money to buy in 1985 are my agony. The ghostly screams of a dozen broken, twenty-five year old toy robots haunt my dreams. I will never see these ads in color because I missed them all the first time they came out, a boy passing by the newspaper stands damned decades later for not having the foresight or spare change to save the man he would become from this nostalgic hell. By the way, is it just me or do those Transformer pajama guys look like the young Moon Masters?


Whites 10/30/78

So I sat alone in El Paso with my memories and my regrets passing me by on the screen and I couldn't help but wonder, what the hell are all those bums doing on the internet anyway? According to my site statistics I knew my work at least had some value to my internet visitors from New Caledonia. But all my validations from New Caledonia didn't change that what I was doing was just as big a waste of time as whatever the bums and punks were doing on their computers at the library. For all I knew they were looking at the Vintage Space Toasters Place and wondering where all those ads came from. And the ads kept flashing by me on the screen. I used to think that nobody else on the internet was collecting robots ads because it was time consuming and difficult. Hey look at me I'm doing something hard. I wonder if bank robbers use this same logic to justify what they've done. But the truth is that those microfilm machines surrounding me were empty because the payoff just doesn't justify the investment it takes to find Shogun Warriors newspaper ads from 1978. I thought I was some kind of toy robots newspaper detective hero. But the truth is the world doesn't need a toy robots newspaper detective hero. I wonder if people rob banks in New Caledonia.


Then just as I had resigned myself to accepting that the Mayan calendar ends in 2012 and I can't possibly look through all the microfilm newspapers from 1984 before then, I hit that one ad, a K-Mart Micronauts ad from 1977 that made all the time I spent in that library worthwhile. It was beautiful. There's always one ad in each library that shines in my mind brighter than all others, and this was it for El Paso. I had never seen so many drawings of Micronauts in one ad before. Heck, I'd never seen so many drawings of Micronauts outside of a comic book before. With each click of my shutter I could feel my proton torpedo slowly descending down the ray shielded shaft. I could feel Stan Lee looking down on me from above as I became the toy robots newspaper detective superhero he wanted me to be. I was putting quarters in newspaper vending machines from 1977. I was robbing the First Interstate Bank of New Caledonia.

K-Mart 11/24/77

Tonight when I dream that dream and Princess Leia tries to make me feel small I am going to tell her, "Hey, shut the hell up and just give me my medal, because even though trying to blow up 99 more death stars might kill me, I still proved that I could do it once." Then I'm gonna turn around and grab Han's head and kiss him right on his friggin' face.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


I just put up twenty or so new* Voltron ads over at the Vintage Space Toaster Palace. You can Ctrl+F for "Houston" or "El Paso" once you're in the Voltron section and find them like that. I think I have now seen every possible way there is to arrange the same five toy robot lions on a table. Any sane person would go crazy after cataloging over a hundred ads of the same basic robot, but I am part of a super force of space explorers specially trained to bring back Voltron (ads).


Forbidden Planet 11/23/84
Occasionally some libraries will have newspaper microfilms from other cities, most commonly Los Angeles and New York. This was the case in El Paso where I was able to take a look at some New York Timeses from 1984. When I saw this Forbidden Planet ad I was a little shocked because I knew the Matchbox Voltron toys didn't come out until March of 1985. Then I remembered-oh, duh. This is probably that Bandai GoDaiKin GoLion that preceeded the release of the Matchbox line. Notice in the ad they don't expressly mention Voltron in the list of toylines they stock. That's because Voltron didn't exist as a toyline yet but these guys were pretty slick putting GoLion up because Voltron was the hottest cartoon that year. It's a brilliant piece of marketing that probably got people into the store and although I'm putting it in the GoDaiKin section I thought it was worth mentioning in this Voltron themed update.


Toys R Us 12/15/85
Conceptually Voltron does not translate well into items and objects that are not toy robots. I am still surprised at how many different ways this property got licensed out despite this and occasionally I'll run across some weird merchandising tie in that goes beyond the scope of what I thought Voltron could (or should) be. The vast majority of times this stuff is total crap like the transforming Voltron binoculars, Voltron shaped flashlight or the Voltron calculator. But this ad for the Voltron slot car set showed me that sometimes the cross merchandising could transcend total crap to create something inspired. It's almost a no-brainer that this crossover would be made considering Matchbox's history of making slot car racing sets but still the concept of slot cars that were space lions is brilliant! It's space-lions-in-my-peanut-butter brilliance! I tried looking for this set for sale on the secondary market but the only thing I've found is one red lion and the guy wants 60 bucks for it. At that price I can't imagine what the whole set would demand. Unfortunately I don't have that kind of money lion around.


Pic n Save 11/24/88
My morbid fascination with the demise of Voltron continued to be fed with a number of depressing post-1986 ads. I'd previously found an ad from December of 1987 where the clearance outlet Pic n Save was was selling off the deluxe Voltron sets for $19.95 and I thought that was depressing. But in El Paso I found an ad from a whole year later where Pic n Save went 5 dollars cheaper! Remember, these were the big giant Matchbox sets that everybody remembers that once used to retail for upwards of $60. It's really sad to see it all came apart for Voltron because those were really nice toys. Why did Voltron come in like a lion and go out like a...lion on clearance at Pic n Save? I know the toys were released after the series had already run all its episodes and vehicle team didn't really endear itself among the kids and the sets were really expensive even by today's standards and there was the whole lead poisoning scare in '86, but it really surprises me that these toys were so unpopular after 1985!

*over 20 years old

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Prince of Macrocrania starring in:

We're living in a second golden age of Transformer popularity because I don't remember there being so much great Transformers related kids' clothing available since the early eighties. There's tons of Transformers Animated shirts and underwear and shoes and all sorts of other things that make it a lot of fun to be a robot nerd dad. I thought all I was going to get to do was put my kid in that Soundwave onesie and that'd be it because for a while there the only Transformer clothes being made were for the real Transformer target demographic-30 year old guys who buy retro tshirts at Hot Topic.

Thankfully there's a lot of Animated stuff out there but so far I've only really liked the clothes that feature Bumblebee prominently. My sister bought us this green hoodie at a discount store in El Paso for $2! The gloves are part of a set I found at K-Mart in November. They go with the bini hat he's wearing in the very first picture at the top, but we lost that in Houston on the downtown bus. I like the Autobot sigil bini and glove set better than the Bumblebee one but now I really miss the Bumblebee bini especially since K-Mart has long since sold out of them.

Possibly the most horrible and terrifying Transformer tie-in merchandise ever are these Transformers Animated Bumblebee slippers. Holy crap they're awful but when I saw them I knew we had to have 'em. At first I thought they were bootlegs (bootslippers?) but they had the official tags and packaging and everything. They're quite frightening with the big horned Bumblebee head poking out of the front and four oddly protruding puffy tires. If they made Bumblebee gloves that covered your hands with Bumblebee heads he could look like some sort of Voltron that was made out of Bumblebees instead of space lions. Or BeezulBumblebBub, Lord of the Banana Robots.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

All this pineapple salad is gonna kill me someday OR: Robotech? More like roboTALK! HUR HUR OR: HOW MUCH ROBOTECHS CAN I BUY FOR 10 SPACY BUCKS?

Service Merchandise 11/27/86
Robotech was this really weird cartoon that came out in '85 when I was eleven. It had a great name and the opening promised fantastic battles with cool robots but then I watched it and it was something else entirely. It was actually very little robots and a whole bunch of cartoon women being all bitchy. Talk talk talk blah blah blah that's all they did. Then to make it worse sometimes there was kissing and what 11 year old boy wants to see that. Since it was originally a show for Japanses they had to edit out all the scenes with cartoon ass which I would at least have had fun laughing at but I never got to see any. I'd estimate it was 22 minutes long and 19 minutes was cartoon Vagina Monologues in Space then maybe 3 minutes was robot action, two of which were the opening and closing credits. It was the biggest robot cock tease show in the history of UHF television.


OG Wilson 11/28/85
Maybe I lacked the maturity or the attention span necessary to endure watching Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants with Robots but to this day I can't figure out what they were thinking or who the target audience of Robotech was. I think it was 8 year old tomboys with green hair and a little bit of overlap with the overweight jet fighter pilots demographic. Because as a boy I sure as hell wasn't looking up to the men in the show, who were all fat or dumb or extremely effeminate or bad pilots or they had blue hair. Plus all that talking. God damnit, the guys talked almost more than the women. Talk talk talk blah blah blah that's all they did. Mostly they talked about Protoculture, the mysterious jet fuel they gave to the robots. They built up so much mystery and intrigue around Protoculture that I wondered what Protoculture really was and what mysterious and intriguing effects it had aside from making you talk a lot, but it turned out Protoculture just makes your cartoon suck.

Karls Toys 12/20/84

Sears 11/16/86
For some reason I was in a Robotech mood yesterday so I updated the Vintage Space Toaster Palace with over 25 new* Robotech ads. When viewed chronologically they tell the story of the Robotech toylines, the story being that the toys were almost as big and confusing a mess as the cartoon. Robotech the name was first used by model company Revell on a line of robot model kits that were conceived before (and totally independent of) the cartoon. There were lots of different robots in the Robotech model line because Revell licensed them from a bunch of different Japanese model kit makers like Imai and ARII among others. The earliest ads for Robotech product I've found are for the 1984 releases of those Revell models. Revell also licensed a building block toy from Takara originally called Blockman but they changed the name to Robotech Robolinks and I've found an ad for one of those kits, too. Then in 1985 Matchbox came out with their action figures and vehicles based on the cartoon. Plus there are a couple of ads for toys from Mospeada (the cartoon that became Robotech's third 'season') that hit the shelves of grocery and retail stores well before they eventually showed up in Robotech boxes. There was also a little bit of overlap thanks to Japanese toymaker Gakken releasing their officially licensed versions of the Mospeada Alpha robot jets which I've covered before and I put up ads for some of those, too. And finally I have the crown jewel of my Robotech ad collection-an ad for Robotech dolls.


Toys R Us 12/14/86
I'm really happy to have a more respectable Robotech section now instead of just the four dinky ads I had previous. It's mostly my fault because although I've had most of them for a while I've just been too unenthusiastic about Robotech to put them up. I was also embarrassed about not having any sort of ad for the SDF-1. How can you have a Robotech ad section and not have the SDF-1? But I did find an ad for a mini SDF-1 in Houston so hey, it's my time to be a star if you know what I mean. Still, an ad for the big Matchbox SDF-1 is one of those holy grails of mine and I hope to track one down someday. Because Please Save Me Robots isn't about being grateful for what toy robots newspaper ads I've found, it's about whining like a bitchy, effeminate, overweight, blue-haired robotairplane pilot about the really bad haircut I just got.

*over 20 years old

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?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

RETURN OF THE JEDI TO SOUTH DAKOTA RETURN epilogue: I don't think they understood what I meant when I told them I was a weirdo

A big advantage to driving the truck to my mother-in-law's house in Houston was that I could finally get all the roboplasticos I'd been stashing in her closet since 2005. Over the years we'd fly in to visit her and then I'd inevitably buy toy robots that wouldn't fit in my suitcase so I'd leave them at her house. This made me feel bad because it's a big imposition on my part and nobody likes to be reminded that their daughter is married to the Indiana Jones of toy robots everytime they open their closet.

Adult toy robots fans oftentimes worry about how their hobby will affect a serious relationship with someone, but what they should worry more about is how their hobby will affect that someone else's parents. "I like toy robots will you marry me?" is nowhere near as hard to ask as "I like toy robots, I'm marrying your daughter and hey could I use your closet because for the next four years I need you to take care of Sam's Club Ultra Magnus."

Friday, January 16, 2009

RETURN OF THE JEDI TO SOUTH DAKOTA RETURN OR: No matter how much I spend at Toys R Us it will not bring back 1985 (or Toys R Us)

Vintage Space Toast Tour Texas is finally over and after two months, eight states and driving Optimus Lime (and Stroller) more than 3,200 miles with a baby and a dog I am finally back home in Dakota del Sur. It was a holiday adventure where we visited my in-laws in Houston for Thanksgiving and my family in El Paso for Christmas while accomplishing the real mission-which was to grab a couple hundred old toy robots newspaper ads from the Houston and El Paso libraries for the Vintage Space Toaster Palace. And of course there was the side benefit of visiting the town I grew up in and reveling in the robo-nostagicalness of it all. It sort of sucks that the hospital where I was born is now a parking lot but at least the building that used to be where my mom bought Transformers in 1985 still stands. The hospital being gone doesn't bother me much because while I may no longer be able to stand on the exact spot I was born, I would rather stand where I first held Omega Supreme.


During my stays in the various cities along the way I found my cell phone has a cool feature that can navigate me to buildings that used to be Toys R Us. Some might call this feature a "phone book that needs to be updated" or even "a malfunction" but I learned to appreciate it. At first it annoyed me when I'd arrive someplace my phone told me was a Toys R Us but instead I'd be at a TRU-shaped Hastings Book Store (as was the case in San Angelo, Texas). Being at a Hastings that used to be a Toys R Us was actually pretty fun and I felt good thinking at least the building got a second chance at entertaining people. But it was depressing when my phone took me to an abandoned building that used to be a TRU in Pueblo, Colorado. It was like the Ghost of Christmas Past telling me my childhood is dead and one day I will be too through the ghostly impression of Geoffrey Giraffe stained on the front of a giant vacant cream colored building with rainbow tiles. There is no more grim reminder of the harsh chaoticness of life and our fleeting mortality than a deserted Toys R Us, except perhaps a severely beaten Darth Vader shaped piƱata.

You have three options with Springer

The vacation is over now and I'm looking at all the new* ads I have to process and put up at the Vintage Spcae Taster Place and I just realized the Texas trip wraps it up for Vintage Space Toast Tour 2008. Holy Hell I ruined a lot of vacations went a lot of places looking for ads last year. We kicked it off at Botcon in Cincinnati, did Anchorage, Alaska in June, then El Paso in July, Denver in October, Houston in November and then El Paso again in December (blog entries for the last two will be forthcoming). Where are we going in 2009? The only one I am somewhat sure of is a return to Fort Lauderdale maybe in October. Although I try to go far and wide I can't be everywhere and I am truly sorry if I didn't make it to your town. People are always asking me, "When is Vintage Space Toast Tour coming to my city?" and of course the only answer is that Vintage Space Toast Tour is always in your city-in your heart. And when you least expect it-in your mom.

*25 year old

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I do these things not because they're easy, but because they're embarrasing and stupid OR:Maybe I'm the one who is a schizophrenic psycho library user

tODAY I CONCLUde Vintage Space Toast Tour El Paso 2009 at the downtown El Paso Main Public Library, where you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. Holy hell all I'm doing is trying to look at old toy robots ads on the microfilms and I constantly get accosted by bums begging for money-or worse-rides to Las Cruces. Plus I'm having equipment malfunctions and further intrapersonal commotions whevever random weirdo library patrons who aren't beggars still want to be all talking to me. The microfilm rolls are sometimes really fat because whoever made them 25 years ago figured nobody would ever actually try putting one in a microfilm reader one day because who cares about 25 year old newspapers anyways. So they get stuck in the machine and the librarians are all, "You breaking our machines again, huh?" Like it's my fault. But I'm really no less insane than any of these other crazies because no matter how scary the bums are or how sarcastic the librarians, I'm still the one looking at 25 year old toy robots newspaper ads. So as I prepare to mount my one final assault on a small thermal exhaust port, right below the main port that leads directly to the library's reactor system, I must remind myself that the shaft is ray shielded so I must use proton torpedoes. Because Vintage Space Toast Tour is not about having a good time collecting toy robots ads, it's about hitting myself in the face with hammers.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

A STREET NAMED AFTER DESIREDCARS OR: All roads in El Paso lead to my youth (and not just the ones named like 1985 minibots)

My hometown of El Paso, Texas has always been the yellow sun that bestows upon me super roboplastical nerdity powers. No matter how mature or burnt out or "over it" I think I am, visiting all the old buildings where I bought comic books or roboplasticos is enough to get me horny for toy robots again. During these last three weeks I've been developing all sorts of fantastic ideas like an old toy robots themed podcast and a relaxation technique that incoporates lion Voltron based meditation.*

I've also found that El Paso music stores are blog kryptonite and I've been fingering the Lion-O a bit more than I expected thanks to the ready availability of a plethora of My Chemical Romance CDs. But oh well. I might have a lot of regrets before I die, but "I never blogged enough" is not going to be one of them.

*Imagine you are lion Voltron, floating in space and slowly seperating into your lion parts. Envision your consciousness is black lion and Voltron's arms and legs are your worries and problems, disconnecting from you and drifting away. (Note that lion Voltron relaxation technique only works if you have four or less problems. For people with up to a dozen problems I recommend visualizing vehicle Voltron. But really, if you have a dozen things driving you completely insane you should get psychiatric help or just do as toy robots fans do and call it a collection.)

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.