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Archive for September, 2007

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The Care Bears

Posted by Big Boo on September 19th, 2007

Care BearsThe Care Bears were one of the most popular girls toys of the 1980’s. They went on to spawn the inevitable cartoon and even three films, but in toy form they were available in two different forms, plush teddy bears that were around 10″ high, and smaller plastic poseable action figures around 4″ high. However, they were initially devised for use on greetings cards back in 1981, with the toys, made by Kenner, not appearing until 1983.

Your basic Care Bear was a friendly teddy bear with brightly coloured fur and a big round white belly, and a little red heart on it’s backside! Each Care Bear was designed to represent a particular emotion, activity or sentiment, and this was represented by the emblem on it’s stomach. For example, Tenderheart Bear (the unofficial leader it seemed) had orange fur and a big red heart on his belly, whilst Grumpy Bear had blue fur and a picture of a rain cloud. As such, the toys were all pretty much identical to look at apart from their colour and emblem, which might lead a cynic to believe that they nothing more than an opportunity to make a quick buck. However, taking into account their origins as a greetings card range, this is perhaps a bit of a harsh criticism.

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The A Team

Posted by Big Boo on September 18th, 2007

The A TeamLooking back now at the title sequence description of The A Team things were a bit laughable. They were a crack unit of commandos who were wrongly sent to prison for some crime that was never made clear. They escaped from prison to become soldiers of fortune living in the underground of LA. Yeah right! To me, that description sounds more like a group of over tattooed, leather clad hard nuts in dark glasses than the amiable bunch of guys they actually were. Don’t get me wrong, I loved watching the A Team as much as the next man, but you’ve got to admit that the description doesn’t quite match the reality.

Anyway, The A Team consisted of the leader Hannibal (the late George Peppard), who seemed to spend most of his spare time dressed as a big lizard that walked out of a lake for some B-Movie. He was never without a huge cigar in his mouth and always spouted the catchphrase “I love it when a plan comes together“. Face (Dirk Benedict) was the suave one who tried to crack on to whichever damsel in distress they were helping that week, whilst “Howlin’ Mad” Murdoch (Dwight Schultz) was the teams pilot, who was also a mental patient who normally had to be sprung from his care home every episode. Finally there was Bosco “Bad Attitude” Barracus, better known as B.A. (played by the gold clad Mr. T way before bling was considered cool) who was both the muscle and a mechanic and also owner of the A Team’s van – a big black Ford Transit style van with a spoiler on the back, and a big red Starsky and Hutch style stripe on the side. He was also afraid of

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Hong Kong Phooey

Posted by Big Boo on September 17th, 2007

Hong Kong PhooeyWho is this superhero? Sarge? No. Rosemary, the telephone operator? No. Penry, the mild mannered janitor? Could be!

So began every episode of Hong Kong Phooey (number one superguy!) a cartoon originally released in 1974 but which must have been repeated many times well into the 80’s. Hong Kong Phooey was one of those heroes, a bit like Inspector Gadget, who was generally fairly inept and ended up solving crimes more through luck than judgement. That, and through the assistance of his feline sidekick Spot (who was, unlike suggested by his name, creamy yellow with purple stripes), who usually did more to save the day than Mr. Phooey. Of course, this went completely unnoticed by Hong Kong Phooey, who thought it was all down to him.

Hong Kong Phooey’s alter ego was Penry, a janitor at the local police station. It must have been a fairly small police force where Penry lived, as you only ever really saw the somewhat overweight Sargeant Flint, and Rosemary, who took all the telephone calls. Penry would find out about trouble going down by over-hearing Rosemary on the phones, and would then leap into the nearest filing cabinet to get changed into his superhero gear. Spot normally needed to lend a helping hand by bashing the filing cabinet to allow Penry back out after the drawer had jammed.

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E.T. – The Extra Terrestrial

Posted by Big Boo on September 14th, 2007

ET - The Extra TerrestrialOriginally released in 1982, E.T. is still a much loved and respected film from the prolific Steven Spielberg. Since the story is about a young boy and the alien he encounters it is generally classified as a kids film, but really it is a film that appeals to people of all ages.

A spaceship full of alien creatures lands one night in a forest somewhere in California, it’s purpose to collect samples of plant life for analysis. Unfortunately the aliens work is interrupted by the arrival of a group of humans, investigating the lights seen in the sky. The spaceship beats a hasty retreat, leaving one of the aliens behind in the rush. Startled by the noise of cars and the flashing of torch beams the alien creature runs away, finding refuge in the garage of a house in the suburbs of a nearby town.

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Stocking Fillers - Suppliers to Father Christmas
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Emu’s Pink Windmill Show / Emu’s World

Posted by Big Boo on September 13th, 2007

Rod Hull and EmuYou don’t get TV shows like this any more, though whether that’s a good thing or not I’m not quite sure! Emu’s Pink Windmill Show was aired during the 1980’s and in it’s prime pulled in millions of eager kids. It also appealed to those kids parents who boosted the viewing figures further, as Rod Hull and Emu had been around when they were growing up too!

The Pink Windmill Show was a happy pantomime of a show. Rod, resplendant in his camp pink suit and top hat, presided over the whole affair by generally being a little bit stupid and useless most of the time, with Emu always in tow. The most annoying aspect of the show was the hoard of singing and dancing kids who broke into a musical number at the drop of a hat, usually singing a song along the lines of “We’re busy doing nothing” or something about how great it is to be friends. You know the kind of thing.

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Paper Drinking Straws

Posted by Big Boo on September 12th, 2007

Paper Drinking StrawsOK, when was the last time you got a soft drink and were given a paper straw to drink it with? Thought so. You can’t remember can you? These days all straws are plastic, but I remember the time that whenever you were given a drink as a child, you also got a paper straw to sup it up with.

The good old paper straw was made from a single strip of waxed paper wound in a spiral, to produce a narrow tube that was perfect for sucking up your Ribena whilst avoiding the dreaded purple smile effect, where the blackcurranty goodness stained the corners of your mouth when drinking straight from a glass. This was important if you didn’t want to incur the wrath of your Mum with her handkerchief with some spit on it…

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Posted by Big Boo on September 11th, 2007

PerfectionIt’s surprising how many games that first appeared in the late 70’s and early 80’s are still available today, and also how many of those haven’t really been updated over the years. A good example of this is Perfection, which apart from a change in the colour of the plastic looks identical today to the version I had in the 80’s. I guess part of the reason for this is that those games appealed to and could be played by people of all ages, from grandfather to grandson.

Perfection is a simple game to explain and play. The TV advert did it best, with the entire game reduced to just two lines of jingle:-

You’ve got to match the shapes fast,
or the pieces pop out before you put in the last.

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Penny Sweets – Foamy and Jelly

Posted by Big Boo on September 10th, 2007

Penny Sweets - Fried Eggs, Cola Bottles, Foam Shrimps and Jelly TeethFoamy and jelly penny sweets came in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and flavours. They were also the type of sweet that had the most variety in price, mainly due to the fact that they came in so many different sizes. For example, nondescript jelly shapes might be one pence, ranging through jelly cherries at two pence to long jelly snakes at five pence. If you were really lucky you might even get some of the smaller sweets, such as midget gems, for half a pence each (when the half penny still existed) or two for a penny (once the half penny had been phased out).

The pictured jelly false teeth were great fun. Sometimes they were a fruity flavour, and sometimes they had a dusty coating with a more milky taste, a bit like the white milk bottle sweets (of which there’s one hidden in our banner! Can you spot it?). Now, own up. Who didn’t sink their teeth into the back of the sweet, and then pretend that the jelly teeth were their real teeth?

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