Posts tagged ‘teddy ruxpin’

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.

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.