Spring Cleaning Crapstravaganza
Needless to say, there's a lot of useless crap lying around my house. A LOT. It's a hereditary thing, I guess. My paternal grandfather was fascinated by video games and he had his Atari (and later his Nintendo) hooked up to a TV that rested on top of a much older TV that had since been gutted. And inside that TV were stacks of magazines that never ever moved. He wasn't a redneck or poor or anything horrible like that; he simply didn't have the heart to throw anything out. After all, you never know when you might need something. Similarly, my mom's parents had pratically everything they ever bought in their entire lives lying around in their attic and basement, old telephones even. When the fuck are you ever gonna need an avocado green phone with a flower pattern around the base? Despite this, there's still a suprising amount of storage room available at my Gramma's house. I have more crap than I have space, so I had to start exporting my stuff over there. A lot of my best toys, such as classic Tranformers and vintage Legos were sent over there to collect dust. Sadly, my mom has a bleeding heart and no sense of nostalgia, so most of the really fucked up toys I had like Dino Riders, Construx, and Definitely Dinosaurs were given to the Salvation Army long ago. I had a couple hundred Micro Machines and those are mostly gone too. Parents are fucking stupid. Why would you let your relatives spend hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of dollars on toys over a twelve year period if you're just going to throw them away or give them to lepers and other undesirables five years after the initial purchase? Social trends are shifting away from tossing stuff out, mainly due to eBay and The Antiques Roadshow, but it's a little too late for Syd Lexia. Where's my fucking Power Pad? Where's my fucking Bumblelion? Wait, hold that. I don't really miss Bumblion all that much. That thing was hella gay.
Although most of the stuff that I *wish* I still had is gone, I have found all sorts of bizarre junk in random orifices of my house ranging from weird to cool to probably illegal. It's a veritable potpourri of pop culture. Join me, if you will, on the Spring Cleaning Crapstravaganza.
Jurassic Park T-Shirt
In the summer of 1993, Jurassic Park was the biggest thing going. So big, in fact, that there were officially licensed t-shirts. Did Pitch Black have a t-shirt? Fuck no. After I made my mom buy me this, I never wore it. At the time I was twelve and rather warped, and I was highly concerned about damaging the map on the back of the shirt. If I wore the shirt, it would have to be washed, and repeated washings would inevitably crack and ruin the original design. I don't know why I was so concerned about having of a fully readable map of Isla Nublar, but I probably thought it might come in useful somehow. You know, like if I ever got shipwrecked off the coast of Costa Rica in some bizarre daydream that probably would have gone something like this:
Best Friend Andy: I can't believe we won a free cruise for being the most awesome fifth graders in the history of the world!
Me: Right you are, Best Friend Andy! And *I* can't believe the ship sank and we became trapped on this island somewhere near Central America.
Best Friend Andy: I am far too awesome to own a compass! How will we ever navigate this island?
Best Friend Andy: Are you even listening?
Me: Yes, I was just using 1993 slang for comedic effect!
Best Friend Andy: Dude, no one said "radical" in 1993. Try 1989.
Me: Whatever. Anyway, I know how we'll survive: I have a map!
(at this point, I triumphantly hold up the t-shirt)
Best Friend Andy: Sweet!
(Sega Genesis games rain from the sky)
Suffice to say, I was slightly delusional. The front of the shirt had one of those highly intelligent door-opening velociraptors on it. In case you've forgotten, the velociraptor was a dinosaur that no one gave a shit about before Jurassic Park. Before JP came around, we had guys like brachiosaurus, stegosaurus, triceratops, brontosaurus, and of course, the T-Rex. Then for like 2 years all anybody ever wanted to talk about were velociraptors. Toronto even named their NBA expansion team The Raptors. Fuck raptors. Most people are probably over those trendy bastards, especially after those mediocre JP sequels. Tyrannosaurus will always be the best dinosaur ever, even if archeologists were to suddenly discover some sort of pimposaurus.
What the fuck is this, you ask? And I answer: it's a cheap little red notebook that I got from my 3rd grade teacher as part of an end-of-the-year goodie bag. The aforementioned bag o' goodies also had a Super Mario Brothers inkpad which I have long since lost or thrown out. She was cool like that. In the summer of 1990, I decided to bestow the ultimate honor upon my newfound notebook: I used it to write down various codes that I copied from Nintendo Power, learned from friends, or in the case of games like Faxandu and Mega Man 3, actually earned. In retrospect, it seems rather stupid. Look at this shit, I actually wrote down the goddam Contra code. Who the fuck would ever forget the Contra code? At the time it probably seemed like a good idea because I was one of many naïve schoolchildren who thought Nintendo would last forever. As far as we knew, there would probably be hundreds, maybe thousands more games released for the Nintendo. Who could have ever forseen there would be a SUPER Nintendo? Lots of people, probably. But not nine-year-olds. The codes shown above are all pretty standard, but here's a brief rundown of what they do:
Contra: Everyone fucking knows this, so I won't patronize you. I included SELECT in the code because I always played Contra with a friend.
Bubble Bobble: The code EEJIJ will start you in Level 1 of Super Bubble Bobble.
Final Fantasy: Another classic code. On the ship, hold A and press B 55 times to access a pointless sliding puzzle.
Castlevania III: Use the name HELP ME to start with 10 lives instead of 3.
On another page, there was a code for some game called Iron Tank. I don't ever remember playing this alleged game, but if you want to start in Level 6, use the password 0077405.
Troll Doll by Russ
Trolls have been around forever, but the novelty dolls enjoyed renewed popularity in the late 80s and early 90s before dropping off once again. What killed the Trolls? Perhaps it was lack of licensing restrictions. Several companies, including Hasbro, Mattel, and Russ Berry were all cranking out Trolls at fantastic rates. Personally, I think it was Hasbro's ghastly 1992 Battle Trolls line that finally ruined their allure. Battle Trolls were "badass" Trolls that were meant to appeal to boys, since regular Trolls were generally considered girly. With cheesy names like Count Trollula, garish outfits, and commercials filled with insincere hype, Battle Trolls really seemed to put the whole Troll thing in perspective. Perhaps the Trolls will rise again, but I doubt they could ever be truly loved in the bleak post-Furby future we live in.
I once owned a pair of He-Man sneakers and I have the top of a shoebox to prove it. The box provides absolutely no information as to who may have manufactured these shoes and I can't fucking remember what they looked like. For some reason, I wanna say they were Keds, but that's probably wrong. After ten minutes of doing Google and Yahoo searches, I gave up. We may never know the truth about He-Man sneakers, but one thing is certain: at one proud point in history Eternian sweatshop children imbued poorly made shoes with the mighty power of Grayskull.
Koosh Tennis Racket
Wow, an official Koosh tennis racket! If I still had a Koosh ball or another racket or any interest in outdoor activities whatsoever, this would totally kick ass! For reasons unknown, Koosh balls continue to fascinate me. I guess the combination of bright colors and eccentric design is more than one man can possibly resist. I never understood why more fad toys didn't have games based around them. Pet Rock, Paper, Scissors and Throw The Pound Puppy Into Rush Hour Traffic both could have been very marketable games. I also never understood why the Koosh never replaced the hackysack as the official toy of stoners. Sure it's not made from 100% soy extract, but a Koosh is still way better than a goddam hackysack. Not only that, but I bet a Koosh is absolutely fucking mindboggling when you're high.
While these may look like Transformers pajamas, they actually started off as a Halloween costume. There was even a cheap plastic mask that came with them. The mask has long since shattered, so I am not entirely sure which Autobot this was supposed to be. If I recall correctly, it's Ultra Magnus. What a brilliant idea, a Halloween costume that's also pajamas. That way you could stay out extra late and then go straight to bed afterwards. There are rumors that Wal-Mart is hoping to develop similar outfits for all those illegal immigrants that it hires so they never have to leave the stores.
Behold, Hasbro's Pogo Bal! Like almost everything else from the 80s, Pogo Bal came in obnoxious DayGlo colors with weird designs. For example, how about now-faded neon green ball with purple tiger stripes? Pogo Bal was basically a safer, cheaper, hands-free version of the pogo stick. In order to operate your Pogo Bal, you stood on the footboard that seperated the two halves of the oblong rubber ball and squeezed the ball between your feet. Then you would jump around, using the other half of the ball to bounce. You could do all sorts of tricks with it if you were good. This was actually a pretty fun toy and I'd like to see it make a comeback. That, or Nickelodeon's highly unsafe Moon Shoes.
Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde Instruction Booklet
Although I no longer have this crappy Bandai game, I still have the instruction booklet for it. I lent the game to some asshole I used to hang out with and he lent me Predator in return. Predator sucked as well, but it sucked slightly less and it was kinda creepy. We had each other's game for months, then one day he shows up at my house, asks for Predator back, and tells me he'll give me back my game the next day. As it turns out, the day he showed up to pick up his goddam game happened to be the same day he forgot to fucking mention he was moving away forever in less than hour. I didn't really miss the game itself, but I missed having that extra cartridge in my stack of games. More importantly, I didn't like being fucked over. I also never understood the motivation. What sort of friggin' moron would resort to stealing such a terrible game? The answer is one that is a total douchebag, someone who enjoys stealing for the sake of stealing. Bobby Huber, if you're still alive, I hope you choke to death on your own semen.
Potato Head Kid
Go go potatoes, everyone! Potato Head Kids having so much fun! That's how the theme song to their cartoon went, and it also happened to featured in the toy commercials. In the 1980s, we learned that pototaoes fuck like rabbits. You see, Playskool had suddenly realized that their lovable Mr. Potatohead figure was dangerously undermerchandised. The solution: the highly collectible Potato Head Kids. They weren't as posable as Po' Daddy (only their hats and shoes came off), but they had much better costumes. The Potato Head Kid shown above is Policeman Duke. He used to have a kickass police car to ride around in, but that went MIA long ago. Also, those aren't his real shoes. When Potato Head Kids went off the market, Mr. Potato Head went back to being a toy that only preschoolers played with. That is, until the super badass Darth Tater was released.
FUN FACT: Potato Head Kids aired as a segment on My Little Pony 'n Friends, so I have no idea how the fuck I ever saw it.
Like Trolls, Pez dispensers have seemingly been around forever. You can probably even still get most of the ones shown above at select retail outlets. Still, it seems like Pez dispensers were more abundant in the 80s, possibly because of a throwaway line from the classic movie Stand By Me. Pez dispensers were a fucking brilliant idea: by putting disgusting chalky candy in a fun dispenser, you increase the marketability of both items. If those goddam Necco wafers came with a fun cartoon mascot, they might sell better too. For some reason, I have an obnoxious number of seasonal Pez dispensers that I can't believe I never threw out. Thanks a lot, Gramma. Santa Pez was cute on Christmas, but what the fuck is he gonna do on my bookshelf for those other eleven months? Make me look a douchebag, that's what. I used to have a lot more of these damn things, but a lot of them broke or got tossed. For example, I had Garfield and Snoopy dispensers, but I threw them out once I realized those comics weren't funny. I still have Kermit and Fozzy though. Remember: The Muppets took Manhattan way before Jason did.
GameTek Vanna White Poster
There were a total of four Wheel of Fortune games for the NES. I guess that's actually fairly reasonable. It was a popular show and it translated well to the NES. It certainly translated to the NES better than Jeopardy. Spelling was never a fucking virtue on REAL Jeopardy. If I knew the goddam answer was supposed to be Shari Lewis, it shouldn't have fucking mattered that I spelled her name Sherry Louis. Damn you, Trebec. In 1992, GameTek released a version of Wheel of Fortune with an incredible innovation: Vanna White! All prior releases lacked the game's key element: the super hot 80s chick who turned the letters over. Being as this was an 8-bit game, the likeness wasn't all that great. However, the game did come with a random Vanna poster. I was shocked as hell that I still have this. I was even more shocked that it's in mint condition because there's a pretty good chance I tried to make out with it at least once.
SCARY STORIES to Tell in the Dark
These books were highly popular for a while and it certainly wasn't because of "author" Alvin Schwartz. Any jackass can take a bunch of old folklore and campfire stories and sell them to horror-starved kids who have already heard half of them. Come on, who hasn't heard the story of the woman driver who's being followed by a creepy trucker who keeps flashing his high beams, only discover that the trucker is trying to save her from an axe murderer hiding in the backseat of her car? No, the real appeal of these books was the truly creepy drawings by Stephen Gammell. I don't what the fuck is wrong with Mr. Gammell, but his stark black and white illustrations in Schwartz's Scary Stories series gave me some serious nightmares. If only Hunter S. Thompson had hired him to illustrate his books.
Vintage 1988 Cocaine
In the 80s, cocaine was everywhere despite Nancy Reagan's best efforts to the contrary. You couldn't turn over a rock without accidentally stumbling upon some Columbian Sugar. Also, it usually turned out the rock itself was made of crack. If you were looking for fun, coke was it. I know what you're thinking, children shouldn't do hard drugs. Well, the little girl from E.T. was doing it on the set of Firestarter, so what choice did the rest of us have? The message was clear: if you want to meet Muppets and star in big time Hollywood movies, first you have to snort. In reality, I very rarely did I get a chance to powder my nose. You see, I was a Cub Scout back then, so what little coke I could afford was generally given to my Scoutmasters so that they wouldn't sodomize me. I feel marginally bad knowing that stuff gave those bastards enough energy to rape those other kids for an extra three hours or so. Oh well.
Well that's that. I tried something a little different this time, maybe it worked, maybe it didn't. I know it's not quite as entertaining as a game review, but someone out there has to remember some of this crap. Ironically, I originally decided to do this article because I thought I still had Hangin' Tough on cassette tape. Apparently I threw it out last time I decided to try and clean my bedroom. What the fuck was I thinking? That would have been comic gold. And yet, I still have Transformers pajamas from when I was seven. Go figure.
Posted by: Syd Lexia