Posts tagged ‘rainbow brite’

I Got Mad Retro Lootz

So I went to my dad’s place the weekend before Christmas to visit my other sister that I hadn’t seen in several years. Since Dad’s a big junk hunter just like me, and there was nothing better to do, we all went and checked out some of the junk shops/antique stores in the small town where he lives. And boy, am I glad I did!

The first place we went didn’t have much that I was interested in, honestly. However, at the place across the street, I scored:

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It’s Romance of the Three Kingdoms II for the NES! Actually, I didn’t buy this for myself. It’s for my husband, who is a huge fan of video games in general, and he likes old games, AND he’s a very loyal follower of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms series. So when I saw this for two dollars, I couldn’t resist. I’ve just done a quick eBay search, and this game typically goes for at least twenty bucks!

This place also had a couple of Barbies from the 80s, complete with triangular neon earrings and crimped hair, but I couldn’t decide which ones I wanted, and if something doesn’t make me say “HOLY SHIT” aloud and snatch it off the shelf, I typically don’t go for it. So Barbie will just have to wait.

Next, we went to the downtown area, which has certainly seen better days. There was an antique shop there, and the place was a damn goldmine. I could’ve easily spent a hundred dollars in there if I’d had it to spare. They had toys, they had pretty things, they had mugs and jewelry and art and lots of other great stuff. But, of course, I stuck to the 80s memorabilia, which they had plenty of.

I ran around like a kid in a candy store for a while before I finally decided to go with a Gloworm (which still works!), a vintage My Little Pony, and a Garfield mug. 😀

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Among the things I wanted to get but couldn’t afford were various old character glasses. You know, the ones that places like McDonald’s and Burger King used to sell. They had Return of the Jedi, Great Muppet Caper, Care Bears, and a few other ones. They were marked at about three dollars a piece, which is pretty reasonable compared to what most eBayers are charging. I would have bought every single one of these if my funds weren’t so limited. So with a heavy heart, I left them all behind. If they’re still there the next time I’m in Sulphur, Oklahoma, I’m gonna go snag a couple.

A Vintage Stock store recently opened near me, so I went to check it out. They sell lots of cool junk, like old video games, action figures, DVDs, comic books, and VHS tapes. There were actually quite a few NES games that I wanted to pick up just for the hell of it, but again, none of them jumped out and said “HEY HEY BUY ME”, so I left them for now.

What I was really interested in was the huge collection of VHS tapes. I went over it with a fine-toothed comb, with a few specific titles in mind. I didn’t find any of the ones I was looking for, but I did find something that I was definitely not expecting to find!

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It’s a VHS of the first two episodes of the Rainbow Brite cartoon! With the original clamshell case, even! Admittedly, the case is in poor shape, and it’s an ex-rental, which is usually risky, but I popped the tape in the VCR today and it plays like a charm. The picture’s not even particularly deteriorated like you’d expect from a 20-year-old tape.

The cartoon itself, of course, is pure unrealized potential. By that, I mean to say that it wasn’t all that great, but I had a good time with it and I’m ecstatic that I was able to add it to my collection.

I also picked up another tape: the first volume of a short early 90s anime called Detonator Orgun. My husband is really into mecha series, new and old alike, and even though he’s already seen this rather obscure offering, I thought it might amuse him to actually own this tape. If only they’d had the second volume, too!

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A few months back, when we were getting ready to move, we took some stuff we didn’t need anymore down to the Goodwill. When we got there, I saw these guys in the window:

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I don’t know why Garfield would dress in a football jersey or a fisherman’s outfit, but do you really think I, of all people, would pass these things up? Like hell I would! They’re now on my shelf with the rest of the plushies.

As much as I love this old stuff, I don’t think I’ll be buying any more for a while. Two reasons: number one being that I need to stop spending money, and number two being that I’m running out of places to put it!

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Nostalgiathon #3: Random Thoughts on a Few 80s Shows

SDSKLDFCNDCFMKEF DAMN IT. I said I was going to have another post up before midnight and I didn’t because life always gets in the fucking way lately ARGHHHHHH. It figures that things to do would actually keep popping up at a time when I promised to write every day. That’s it; no more promises. If I get seven posts up by the end of this thing, I do. If I don’t, I don’t. And that’ll be that. Honestly, this has been a real learning experience so far.

So here, have a post that I didn’t really plan out in advance and am kind of just making up as I go along. We’ll see how this turns out. The title is exactly what you’re gonna get. My friend ArgentShade made a few suggestions to me, and they were all TV shows, so I figured I’d just write a little post about them.

First on his list was He-Man/She-Ra. Um…I can’t really talk about this because I’ve actually never seen either show! Yeah, I’m a failure. Alls I know is that Prince Adam looks like he belongs in a ballet troupe and that She-Ra looks slightly more masculine than he does. (Also, oh my God my tooth hurts really bad right now.)

I remember watching that Masters of the Universe movie ages ago, but I don’t remember it very well, and from what I hear, it’s probably better that I don’t. I wonder if it was as bad as the Super Mario Bros. movie or the Street Fighter movie? Or that damned Garbage Pail Kids movie?

Anyway, since He-Man was so big in the 80s, I’m going to have to watch it eventually. I just hope it’s at least halfway enjoyable. Contrary to what you might think, I am actually NOT a big fan of 80s cartoon shows. A few of them are good fun. Some of them are just okay. But the majority of them are pieces of shit. And that’s what we’ll call them from now on: shitpieces. Just ’cause it was made in the 80s doesn’t mean it’s any good. For example, leg warmers came from the 80s and they’re one of the most pointless, ugly things ever. The same descriptors can be applied to many 80s cartoons. I might talk more on this topic in the not-so-distant future.

The next thing ArgentShade mentioned was DiC. Now, they’re pretty prolific, so I can find at least one or two shows to blather on about for a minute.

Let’s see. Ah yes, The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin! There’s a show I have something to say about.

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It started in 1986, and ended in 1988 with a whopping 65 episodes. However…I’ve only seen about 15 of them, and ten of them I just watched this year. I bought the DVD set that contains the first 20 episodes but, unfortunately, haven’t been able to make myself finish watching it.

See, the first five episodes showed some real promise. They have a contiguous plot, for one– very rare for an 80s show! I had these five episodes on tape because my dad recorded them for me, and I watched them over and over (my dad and I even have a few inside jokes from that show). I still have a good time watching those episodes, but after that…things turn episodic and inane in true 80s cartoon fashion. I tried to slog through the whole DVD set to no avail. It’s a shame, really. Hopefully it picks the story back up later on. Not sure how long it’ll be before I find out, or if I’ll even bother at all. Honestly, I think I’d rather just stick with my good memories of the first five episodes.

Here’s another one I can give a brief blurb about: Hello Kitty’s Furry Tale Theatre.

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I don’t remember the actual content of the show, because I never really got to see it. The local CBS affiliate aired it at like 6 in the morning on Saturday when I was about four years old. Of course, I loved Hello Kitty and had a few of the toys, so I wanted badly to see this show. But I could never get up early enough to catch it! I have a clear memory of struggling to wake up only to catch the end credits. Made me so sad. Oh well…it probably wasn’t that great anyway.

Also, we can’t be talking about DiC and neglect to mention Rainbow Brite! I didn’t get to see all the episodes of this show either…it was almost before my time, as it started in 1984 and ended in 1985. I had a couple of episodes on CED, and let me tell you, I watched the hell out of that thing. One of these days I’m going to have to find the rest of the episodes and watch them. There’s been no DVD release, which is actually very surprising to me. If all 65 episodes of Teddy Ruxpin can get a DVD release, there’s still hope for Rainbow Brite.

Last one by DiC that I’ll mention is The Super Mario Bros. Super Show. I loved Nintendo when I was little (like every other kid back then) and so I watched this show religiously when I was in kindergarten. It taught me how to tell when it was 3:30, because that’s when it came on. However, for some reason, I HATED the Zelda cartoon and, on Fridays, would always change the channel in disgust. I haven’t seen either show in ages, but ArgentShade’s got one of the DVD sets. I need to borrow it from him sometime.

Another one he suggested was Nickelodeon game shows, but I don’t really have time to talk about those right now. There are only 500 different ones. But I’m gonna keep it in mind.

Next on his list was Full House. Oh God.

I am ashamed to admit this, but…I used to love Full House. Keep in mind that I was about 7 years old at the time. I would watch this every fucking week at Grandmama’s house, and I loved every minute of it. The sad part is that I kept watching it until I was old enough to know better. Nowadays, I can’t sit through an episode. It’s just…too much for me.

The concept of the show was good. It could have been good if it hadn’t been so…well, you’ve seen it, I’m sure, so you know how it is. Plus Bob Saget’s presence on any show is an automatic minus five. (Yes, even America’s Funniest Home Videos.) At least John Stamos was hot.

Finally, he mentioned Small Wonder. This is a show that I only saw one time when I was very young, didn’t remember the name of, and wracked my brain for years trying to think of it. The only thing about it that I could remember was the little android girl, Vicki, and her red-and-white dress. And I remember being creeped out by her.

I saw an episode on Youtube several months ago and…it’s a “wonder” that this show lasted four seasons. Here, just watch the intro. The first time I saw it, my eyebrow was stuck in a raised position for like twenty minutes.

I guess I can see why five-year-olds might have liked it, but this is one of those shows that proves– to me, anyway –that the 80s weren’t necessarily the golden age of television that a lot of people make it out to be.

And now, I am extremely fucking tired so I’m going to bed.

Nostalgiathon #1: More Thrift Store Adventures

It’s the first day of the Nostalgiathon! It snuck up on me pretty fast, since my life has actually been busy for once. But we’re right on schedule. However, tomorrow’s post might be late…I have a funeral to go to. (More about that later this week.) I’ll try real hard to write it today so I can just post it tomorrow when I get a chance, but that’s not carved in stone.

I was debating whether or not I should give you guys an itinerary or something, but…I’ve decided to keep it mostly a surprise. Kinda like not knowing what toy you’re gonna get in your Happy Meal.

Also, some of you guys offered up suggestions. As a token of my gratitude, I’m going to do my best to incorporate most of them into the Nostalgiathon. But I make no promises as to how well I’ll be able to incorporate them. I’ve never really done this before, you know!

I made a couple more thrift store trips in the past week. If you haven’t seen my first post chronicling my thrift store adventures, go check it out when you get a minute, since this is sort of like a continuation of that.

Anyway, I discovered another thrift store in a different part of town than the other ones I went to. It’s called Uptown Bargains, and I’ve actually been to their other huge store on the southside, but that was a couple of years ago. (I may have to go there again soon when I get a chance.)

One thing that’s cool about this place is everything is marked with a colored tag (green, gray, blue, yellow and orange I think). And certain colors get 50% off. I think it rotates but I’m not sure. The last time I went, gray and blue tags were 50% off, which really worked to my advantage.

Anyway, if you didn’t read the first post, these are the things I’m typically looking for when I go to these places:

– Toys
– Unique VHS tapes
– Kids’ books
– Anything old and quirky

In the old and quirky category, this thrift store fares pretty well, actually. The reason why I haven’t bought any of that stuff is because most of the old and quirky things are retro T-shirts and TVs, and they’re more expensive. They even had a top-loading VCR, but it looked like it might have been dropped and I think it was like ten dollars. They also had an old TV that actually kinda looked more like an old computer monitor. Very interesting.

VHS tapes? Well…they have a lot of them, and there are some good titles, but none of them are rare enough to justify buying. There also weren’t any home-recorded ones at all– I’m thinking they probably don’t accept them, which is a shame.

And now, the toy department.

The first time I went to this store, I scored pretty big. I went wandering around looking for the toys and from a distance an 18″ Red Butler doll shone out to me like a beacon. As usual, I said, “OH MY GOD” out loud and made a fool of myself as I rushed over to check it out.

Red Butler is one of the Color Kids from Rainbow Brite, only one of the two that’s male. That’s him over there on the right:

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Upon closer inspection, I saw that this doll was in extremely good condition. Upon even closer inspection, I found that it’s not vintage, but it’s one of the toys from the 2003 line. (The new line of toys all have orange tags with the Rainbow Brite logo on them. Dead giveaway.) But I didn’t give a shit, it was still Red fucking Butler. Here’s what the doll looks like.

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I haven’t figured out if it’s a reproduction of an old doll or what, but I’m pretty sure it’s not. The only ones I’ve seen that I’m sure are vintage are the smaller dolls. Some of the big ones are listed on eBay as vintage when they’re actually the 2003 doll, so who knows. And like I said, I don’t really care too much. He’s still a great find.

And right next to him was a bonus. A huge, soft Rainbow Brite. It’s from the 2003 line, not just because of the orange tag but because I’m pretty sure they never made a Rainbow Brite like this in the 80s:

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When I say “huge”, I mean she’s about 27″ tall. Compared to the majority of my other toys, that’s like fucking King Kong or something. Except King Kong was never this cuddly. It’s neat to have a cuddly Rainbow Brite, because the old-school 18″ doll has one of those big plastic heads that aren’t exactly great for snuggling up to sleep with.

Needless to say, I tucked both of them under my arm and kept on looking. I also found a plush manatee and snatched that up because it was damn cute and it could be friends with the plush walrus I have. God I’m a dork.

Anyway, the next find was a shocking one. Remember how I found VINTAGE CARE BEAR at one of those other thrift stores? Well, VINTAGE CARE BEAR now has a friend. Yes, I found ANOTHER VINTAGE FUCKING CARE BEAR. Why do I always capitalize it? Because it’s awesome, that’s why. And with this one, I didn’t have to buy a bunch of other toys I didn’t really want! Even better.

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It’s Love a Lot Bear! And mine’s in fantastic shape, too, considering how old it is. Honestly, it looks like it hasn’t been played with much at all. The tag isn’t even faded. Sometimes I wonder how these things end up in thrift stores. VINTAGE CAAARE BEEAAARS

And the price for all this great stuff? Eight bucks. Yes.

My second visit was just a few days ago. I didn’t get nearly as much loot as I did the first time I went there, but that’s because I also had significantly less money (only four dollars). That doesn’t mean I didn’t find a couple of cool things, though.

They had two 80s Cabbage Patch Kids. The girl’s hair was sort of disheveled, but she had her original dress (I know this because it has a patch on it that says “Cabbage Patch Kids”) and was in good shape otherwise. There was a boy too, who had his original shirt but had no pants. Both of them were 2.99, so it was one or the other. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I kept digging around, hoping to unearth something worth writing about.

You guys remember The Wuzzles? (No? Maybe this will jog your memory.) Well, I found a Wuzzles plushie! At first I wasn’t sure what I had just freed from the bottom of the pile, but when I realized it was Butterbear I was like, holy crap, I have to buy this thing. Because I had never seen a Wuzzles plushie before. I had some of the cartoon episodes on tape and I had one of the read-along book and tape things, though.

Here’s what she looks like:

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So now I was torn in two. I only had four dollars, so I couldn’t afford a Wuzzle and a Cabbage Patch Kid. I decided to go with Butterbear, because if I really wanted to, I could probably find another Cabbage Patch Kid pretty easily. Probably not for three bucks, though, so I kinda regret that I had to leave them behind.

Anyway, the plushie is in great condition. If you didn’t already know, you wouldn’t be able to tell it was 23 years old. Especially since the tag has been cut off.

I almost forgot to mention the selection of books at this place. The first time I went, I didn’t really look, but this time I decided to go through it thoroughly.

They have some real relics, like Highlights books from the early 70s. There are a lot of old kids’ books, but I didn’t find too many that I really wanted.

While I was looking, I remembered a book that I used to love as a kid and was one of the first ones I ever read: a Little Golden Book called Cookie Monster and the Cookie Tree. And I thought, you know, it would be kickass if they had that book.

I looked them over one more time, and right before I was going to give up, I found a gold spine that I’d missed before. I pulled it out and said to myself, “Well, I’ll be damned.” It was Cookie Monster and the Cookie Tree! The cover was sort of faded, but the pages were in good shape for a 26-year-old book (there’s an inscription inside that’s dated 1982), and it was only 50 cents. Needless to say, I didn’t have to argue with myself much over that purchase.

I’ll definitely be going back to this place sometime when I get some more money to blow, though I’m kind of afraid that I already bought all the really cool stuff they had. We’ll see.

Under the Stairs

Okay! Finally! Something more normal to write about! Because I want people to, y’know, keep reading this shit.

I really am sorry if that last post didn’t float anybody’s boat. I guess I mostly did that one for myself, and honestly I wasn’t all that inspired when I wrote it, so…yeah. Excuses, excuses. I’m a freaky weirdo and we all know it. Moving on.

I was trying to come up with something to write about next, so I started thinking of old stuff. Considered doing a couple of things, and then a memory popped into my head. And of course, it’s one of those that’s positively loaded with nostalgia, so it’s perfect material for a post. A peaceful Saturday morning is a great time to write about such things, so here we go.

When I was a little girl, I desperately wanted a playhouse. But, as you probably guessed, they were and are really expensive. Like, the Power Wheels kind of expensive, which to a four-year-old is like a thousand hundred million dollars. I used to ask my dad to build one for me, but he’s never been much of a builder and my four-year-old brain didn’t understand that all the materials needed to build a decent one would also cost a big lump of cash. So this is one of those childhood dreams that almost went unfulfilled.

No, I never got a playhouse, but I did have the next best thing, and I loved it to death. To an adult, it was just a hole under the stairs that needed to be closed up. To me, it was a second home within my home– within my own room, even.

The house we lived in back then was old (built in the 20s or 30s I think) and had a weird floor plan. My room was sort of like the center of the house. You had to pass through it to get to my parents’ room and the bathroom. And around the corner was the staircase. The house didn’t originally have a staircase– my grandfather put it in when I was very young. The wall that covered it wasn’t completely finished at the time, so there was an opening underneath the stairs.

Since I’d been wanting my own secret place, I took to it right away. The “room” was big enough for me to stand up in, but any adults would have had to stoop down. It would have been dark too, but there was either a light put under there or a lamp. It was also just big enough to fit my kid-sized wooden table and chairs and– get this –my Rainbow Brite toy fridge and stove.

Lots of time was spent playing make-believe in that hole under the stairs. One of my favorite games back then was playing house. (I still like “playing house” today.) I would sit at my table and pretend to eat the fake food from my fake fridge.

Now, since that damn fridge meant a lot to me, I’m going to go on about it at length. Here, I even managed to find pictures of it by searching the web! They’re not real clear, but they’re better than nothing and I’m very grateful to this person for posting them.

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There’s the front of the fridge. That text there in the cloud says “Rite Hite”. Indeed it was. I love how the Sprite on the top door is giving Rainbow a scoop of ice cream.

The “freezer” and “fridge” doors both opened so you could store stuff in there. I mostly put books and crayons and stuff in it, which is pretty hilarious.

Now, let’s look inside…

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Okay, well, the photo’s too blurry and JPEG’d to really see what’s in there. But that’s why you have me here to describe it for you! (Aren’t you glad.) I swear I must have had nothing to do as a child, because I can remember sitting and staring at all kinds of pictures for long (or, at least, they felt long) periods of time. One of those things I used to do this to is the painted-on food inside this refrigerator. I remember some of the details even though I haven’t seen the thing in like 17 years or something. The picture definitely helps though.

Up on the very top, there are some of those canned frozen juices– from concentrate of course. Apparently, those were big in the 80s for some reason because I remember my mom and Grandmama having them around a lot. I never liked drinking them, but whatever.

On the shelf under that is a bunch of frozen-y sweets. I remember that one of them is a bag of frozen strawberries, and at least one of them is ice cream, and there’s some Cool Whip-looking stuff too. Those were always my favorite things to pretend to eat.

In the “fridge”, there are some eggs. Right next to them, for some reason, is a flower. I distinctly remember wondering why that flower was there. As far as I know, flowers pretty much never get stored in the fridge.

The rest of the stuff I don’t really remember in detail; from the looks of it, it seems like a collection of various condiments and drinks. I have just realized that the “food” in this thing isn’t even really food. But then again, I guess actual food isn’t kept in the doors of real-life fridges either.

Anyway. Another game I liked to play while hiding out in there was to pretend to watch TV. I had a Fisher-Price music box toy that looked like a little TV set. Had dials on the front and everything. When you wound it up, there was a scrolling picture as well as music. And I would make believe it was a real television. I even made up my own jingles for the pretend channels.

Now, why in the hell did I do this when I could just go watch something for real? Well, my best guess is that this was probably what I did when somebody else was using the TV, maybe when my mom was watching Young and the Restless or some lame crap like that. Or it could just be that I liked to pretend I could pick up stations from other states. Yes, even at four I understood this concept.

Before we had cable, every once in a while, a station from Fort Worth, Texas– channel 11 –would come in on our TV by some fluke of nature. Fort Worth is a couple hundred miles or more from where we lived at the time, so that’s pretty amazing.

The first time this happened, it blew my fricking mind. I thought TV only came from Oklahoma City, so when that channel showed up all fuzzy on the screen, I was fascinated. And from that point on, I always wondered what TV was like in other places. (The answer, of course, is…pretty much the same. But I didn’t find that out until years later.) This is probably the obsession that my love of station IDs was born from.

I do sort of feel like this post is all over the place, but the playhouse under the stairs is one of my favorite childhood memories, and I wanted to immortalize it somehow. Hopefully somebody out there enjoyed reading it. So, until the next post– which won’t be very long, so stay tuned –be excellent to each other. And…party on, dudes!

Retro Wishlist

Today, dudes and dudettes, I present to you my Retro Wishlist. This post will have pictures to look at, since apparently that plays a big role in whether or not people read something.

Anyway, I plan on adding to the Wishlist whenever I happen to think of a new item, so this is just the beginning.

01. Teddy Ruxpin and Grubby

Possibly the coolest toy to come out of the 1980s, Teddy had a cassette player in his back in which you put special tapes. He would tell stories that you could (sort of) read along with in the accompanying books. His eyes and mouth moved along with the sounds, and 20 years ago, that was pretty badass technology.

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I got a Teddy Ruxpin for my third birthday in 1986. I was instantly enamored. Teddy became my best friend. Even though he weighed about 50 pounds, I still managed to lug him around with me whenever the opportunity presented itself.

My parents bought me a bunch of the book/tape sets and I played them over and over. They even got him a little red aviator outfit that came with a hat and a vest. And eventually, they even got me his partner in fun: Grubby, a…giant yellow worm-thing called an “octopede” if memory serves me well. If you hooked the two of them up with a special cable they would “interact”. More innovative technology. I never really used Grubby that much for whatever dumbass reason.

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Anyway, even after this boy I used to play with broke Teddy’s lower jaw off, I still loved him. Apparently that jaw thing was a common problem, but I was still pissed off at that kid. Why are little boys so bent on destroying other people’s shit?

Over the years, Teddy and Grubby got lost. As soon as I get over my fear of eBay and acquire some cash, I’m probably going to buy Teddy back, hopefully one that doesn’t have a broken jaw. I hear talk that they made a new version that uses cartridge thingies instead of tapes, but that just doesn’t sound the same to me. Plus, I want to see if you really can make him react to other cassette tapes, because hearing Teddy blare out some 80s hair metal would just be too funny to pass up.

02. Rainbow Brite’s Dress

No, I’m not talking some freaky cosplay thing. I mean, I need a dress for my Rainbow Brite doll that I bought at a thrift store last year. Amusingly, she came dressed in some camofluage doll clothes. I hate to just buy another doll, but it might be easier.

Like I’ve said before, Rainbow Brite was my world when I was little. I had all manner of Sprites, a small Rainbow doll and a plush Starlite.

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The Rainbow doll had come all the way to Oklahoma with me when we moved from California in October ’85– I was two, with my third birthday coming in February. She, too, was missing a dress…I guess it got left behind. Anyway, much like Teddy, I carried Rainbow around with me everywhere I went. As a result, I remember her being quite dirty and kind of beat up. But we still had some good times.

I did have the larger Rainbow doll at one point, but it vanished into a black hole somewhere along with virtually everything else I owned back then. So when I saw one for two measly dollars, I snatched it up faster than you can say “I’m 24 and still play with dolls”.

Now if I could just find her a damn dress, life would be one step closer to complete.

03. A (Working) RCA Selectavision Player and Discs

I’m pretty sure nobody reading this knows what the hell a RCA Selectavision player is. Well, allow me to enlighten you. It’s only one of the coolest pieces of obsolete technology ever! At least, it is to me.

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Sometime in the past, some guy thought it would be a good idea to put video on a groove-based medium, such as a vinyl record. RCA developed the technology for years, and wanted to launch in the late 70s, but didn’t get the system on the market until sometime around 1981.

Most people call them “videodiscs”, but the fancy-schmancy term is Capacitance Electronic Disc. I don’t entirely know what that means (I looked it up once but it only confused me more), but it’s essentially a type of video record.

Since the discs were quite fragile and would be damaged if touched, RCA developed a special caddy for them to extend their lifespan. So, CEDs are not to be confused with Laserdiscs. They actually looked like a big plastic rectangle. You would insert the caddy into the player, and a quite sophisticated mechanism inside would extract the disc from its protective armor. Snazzy.

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Unfortunately, the system came onto the market way too late, because certain other formats were already entrenched in epic combat (that’s another story for another time).

The system’s major downfall was that you couldn’t record onto it, which was a huge factor in the success of home video formats back then. You also couldn’t really pause it– well, you could, but it couldn’t freeze frame, it just blanked the screen, which was another inherent flaw that came with it being a grooved medium.

The system was, for all intents and purposes, dead by 1986. VHS reigned over all others as the King of Home Video. Shortly after the demise of Selectavision, RCA was bought out. (The name lives on, but they don’t actually develop their own technology anymore as far as I know.)

However, this doesn’t mean that Selectavision didn’t have its day in the sun. Thousands of titles were available for the system and people actually bought them, even after player production had stopped.

My dad bought one of the players when we still lived in California. I’m guessing sometime in 1984 or so, probably when they were cutting the price way down just to get the players sold. He brought it with him when we moved, and since the format was dying by then, you could get discs pretty damn cheap.

As a result, we had a whole stack of the damn things, including the Star Wars movies, Alien, and a few Rocky movies. We also had what I recently learned is a hard title to find: a disc with two episodes of Rainbow Brite on it. I watched the shit out of that thing even though the disc skipped a lot. Eventually my dad copied it to VHS for me, before the disc totally crapped out.

My dad still had the player and the collection of discs as recently as 2003, but then he GOT RID OF IT. Without asking me if I wanted it first. He said it didn’t work anymore, but according to what he said was wrong with it, it probably just needed a new belt and a new stylus. I would have taken good care of that thing. Therefore, one of these days I’m buying another one. I’ve heard that if you know how to contact them, RCA (or whoever owns them) still has a large inventory of styli stashed away somewhere, probably in a warehouse that looks like the final scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

I didn’t mean for this to get as long as it did. But there you go.

Afterthought: The singular of “media” is “medium”. It took me until now to notice the errors. I’m not an idiot, honestly.

The Retroplex: Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer (1985)

Alright, time for our first trip to The Retroplex! You know, “multiplex”? Theatre? Retro movie reviews?

…I told you I was bad at naming things.

After weeks and weeks of thinking about writing a review, trying to decide which movie to review first, and generally being very distracted, I finally got around to doing this. So sit down, get some popcorn, shut up, and enjoy the show.

I’m kicking things off with Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer. Why? Because Rainbow Brite was the show of my childhood. Back when I was four years old, I loved her and all her little fuzzy Sprite friends, even her stuck-up, conceited horse. I wanted to be her, and often pretended that I was.

I actually didn’t see this movie until sometime in the early 90s, long after it was released theatrically in 1985. I didn’t even know it existed until I found it at the local mom-and-pop video store. I probably rented it seventeen times until one happy day when the Disney Channel aired it and my dad got it on tape for me.

I’m pretty surprised that the movie got a DVD release at all, but it did, and I got it. I hear it’s become something of a rare commodity now, though, so I kinda wish I’d have bought two of them.

So, how does the movie stand the test of time? Well…let’s get this show on the road and find out, shall we?

Here’s the lowdown on the plot, such as it is:

Earth is in danger. Spectra, the diamond planet through which all light in the universe must pass, is being covered up by the spoiled, selfish Princess, who wants the giant gem all to herself. If Rainbow Brite doesn’t stop her (and Murky Dismal, who’s also after Spectra), Earth will be plunged into a second ice age.

Sounds pretty damn ridiculous, doesn’t it? Of course it does. Moving right along.

The writers said to themselves, “What’s the best way to kick off the action?” Some jerk said, “I know! A great big musical number!” Maybe they should have fired that guy, because that was a very bad idea. The movie drags on for a while as the Color Kids and Starlite (the self-proclaimed Most Magnificent Horse In the Universe) sing about the coming of spring and how they have sooo much work to do. I’m not sure how singing a sucky song is gonna get all that work done, but okay.

Thankfully, that’s the only number we have to sit through, and otherwise the music is alright, especially the end credits song, which I’ll talk about later.

So, spring has come, la dee da. Along with it comes something interesting (at last!). On her way down to Earth, Rainbow butts heads with Stormy, who– surprise –is in charge of winter and storms and whatnot. Honestly, I think she should have had a larger role in the movie because she’s spunky and looks like a little 80s rock star. She would have spiced up things a little bit. Not to mention the fact that her horse, Skydancer, is badass. Not only does he look awesome, he can shoot lightning bolts from his hooves and spew ice out of his snout. I bet Rainbow is jealous as hell. All she gets is a horse who can’t even fly and who’s always giving people lip. Have I mentioned that I don’t really like Starlite?

Anyway, Rainbow goes down to Earth to work her magic. She tries, and nothing happens. Twink suggests that maybe the star sprinkles are tired from the winter, but everybody knows that little furball is on crack, so they don’t pay him any mind. By the way, Brian’s there too, but I don’t know why he’s even in the movie, because he’s pretty much useless.

So it’s back to Rainbow Land to find out what the hell’s going on. A super cool robot horse named On-X shows up to find Rainbow Brite and tells her that Spectra is in danger. Rainbow puts two and two together and decides to take Starlite and go with On-X to Spectra. Lucky for us, none of those damn annoying Color Kids come with her.

Elsewhere, Murky overhears the conversation. His ears perk up at the realization that it’s a giant freaking diamond, and he goes off to build a very hilarious rocketship to go on his own trip to Spectra, dragging Lurky along. Unfortunately, they don’t really do anything important and are mostly around for comic relief.

As an aside, I’d like to add that Peter Cullen, the man responsible for giving the iconic Optimus Prime his voice, also does the voice of Murky. Hard to believe, ain’t it?

Prepare to roll your eyes: Rainbow and Starlite travel through outer frigging space on a rainbow, with no protection of any kind whatsoever. I’d like to see anyone over the age of ten suspend their disbelief on that one.

Here we are on Spectra, which ain’t looking so shiny at the moment. The Spectrans, who look suspiciously like Sprites, are being enslaved by big golden robots, amusingly dubbed “Glitterbots”. I guess they put all these robots and stuff in to try to appeal to any little boys who might have been forced to watch this movie because their sisters wanted to see it. Anyway, the Spectrans have been hypnotized into covering the planet with a net-like thing. I know, I know, just stay with me.

On-X starts going on and on about Orin, the one who sent him after Rainbow Brite. Orin is nowhere to be found, though, and they’re being chased by Glitterbots. Cue some action-type stuff.

Fortunately for Rainbow and company, the Glitterbots are mostly retarded. Our heroine and the horses escape, and– quite literally –drop in on a red-headed kid named Krys. Thank God they did, because it would have been pretty damn boring if Rainbow and Starlite had been the only protagonists in this thing. Only thing is, Krys is kind of a sexist jerk. But hey, that makes things more entertaining, right? Yes, it does.

Also, here’s some more voice actor trivia for you: the kid that does Krys’ voice is also the voice of Daniel Witwicky in Transformers: The Movie, which came out the following year. The girl that plays Stormy is his sister. Yeah, I pay attention to voice actors. Blame anime for that.

Anyway, we get no background on Krys. We don’t know where he came from, what he’s doing on Spectra, or why he has those puffy sleeves that look exactly like Rainbow’s. It would have been nice to get even just a little bit of backstory on him, but I guess they figure little kids don’t care about character depth. Truth is, they probably don’t.

So, Krys tells Rainbow Brite that the Princess is responsible for all this foolishness. She’s “wrapping the planet up like a birthday present” because she’s planning on taking it for herself. And no, she doesn’t have a name. She’s just “the Princess”. Frickin’ lazy writers.

Obviously, Rainbow and Krys have to go try to stop her. Well, they’re in for a real treat. The Princess is totally batshit, but at least she has a cool character design.

Krys and Rainbow try to talk some sense into her, to no avail. Not only does the crazy bitch still want to somehow rein in the biggest diamond in the universe, but then she takes Rainbow’s magic belt and throws them both in the dungeon. Why does she want the belt? Because she thinks it’ll look good with her red dress. Not because it shoots out rainbows or anything. I, personally, find this hilarious. Also, it’d probably look better with a black dress, but I digress.

Now it’s up to Starlite and On-X to get the belt back and save their friends. This is surprisingly entertaining to watch. What’s funny is, they actually succeed. Only in an 80s cartoon, folks.

However, the Princess uses her own magic to suck Krys and Rainbow into a pink vortex thing, sending them rocketing through space to some unnamed planet where the Princess apparently keeps all her prisoners.

Thanks to On-X, they bust out of their cell and finally find wise old Orin, who turns out to be one of those little Spectran Sprite guys. For some reason, he has star sprinkles. He also gives Krys a weapon, which is activated by Rainbow’s power. What’s the connection here? It’s never explained. Being a person with an overactive imagination, I have my own theories, but I’ll spare you.

Anyway, Krys kicks some ass with his new prism thingy, and Orin explains to them that they must go back and stop the Princess for good. He says, “Be brave, be bold, and don’t fight with each other!” Of course, since he told them not to fight, they’ve gotta. Damn kids.

Time for the final showdown. I know I haven’t mentioned Murky and Lurky much, but that’s because they’re mostly extraneous until right about now. Rainbow and Krys challenge the Princess and they’re getting their asses handed to them until Murky crashes his rocketship into the middle of the scene. That’s their opening, and together, they destroy the Princess’ magic jewel. And in true cartoon fashion, her palace and all her Glitterbots crumble to pieces.

Needless to say, the Princess is fucking pissed. She jumps into her spaceship, which was meant to grab onto the net around Spectra and pull it, which is pretty much the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Crazier than ever, she declares, “If I can’t have that diamond, no one’s going to have it!” Then everybody suddenly acts like Spectra is made of glass and not diamonds, fearing that the ship will crash and shatter the planet, when actually, the ship would probably just be obliterated on impact. But shhh, kids don’t know that stuff.

Just as the Princess is about to crash, she’s bounced off by the power of the rainbow, and promptly becomes sparkly space dust. Spectra is all shiny again, spring comes to Earth in an instant, Murky and Lurky are lost in space, Krys finally decides Rainbow is okay– for a girl. All is well with the universe. Roll credits.

Speaking of the credits, they play this synthalicious tune called “Rainbow Brite and Me”. I was totally obsessed with this song when I was a little kid. Even now, it’s a guilty pleasure. I still think it’s catchy as hell and…probably the best part of the whole movie. Too bad the opening number couldn’t have been as fun as this.

Overall, I have mixed feelings about this movie. The adult in me knows it’s ridiculous in a lot of ways, likes to make fun of it, and is embarrassed to be seen watching it. But the four-year-old in me still thinks it’s the coolest thing in the world, and probably always will.

It’s good clean fun for little girls (and maybe little boys), which is fine, because that was their target audience anyway. And it certainly could have been a whole lot worse. For a girl’s movie, it’s not as sappy and flowery as you’d think. There’s plenty of action, and lots of dark scenery and atmosphere.

It also has some good messages: girls can kick just as much ass as boys can; being a greedy psycho-bitch who is totally devoid of rational thought is a very bad thing.

The animation is definitely better than TV quality, but it’s not quite of the quality you’d expect from a theatrical release. If Rainbow Brite really did generate a billion dollars in retail sales, the least they could have done was give the movie a bigger animation budget. So, while not an eyesore by any means, it looks kind of dated.

The reason why I still have a special place in my heart for Rainbow Brite is not just due to nostalgia, but because it has some serious potential to be something that’s actually good. I mean, it’s like an American magical girl series. Now that’s something I’d pay to see: a re-imagining of the Rainbow Brite universe.

I never thought I’d hear myself say that.