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Archive for November, 2007

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I Vant To Bite Your Finger

Posted by Big Boo on November 21st, 2007

I Vant To Bite Your FingerI only ever played I Vant To Bite Your Finger once. A friend of mine had it, and I remember playing it round his house one day and finding it quite fun. On the face of it the game was fairly standard, just being one of those games where you move a counter around a winding path on the board. What made the game special was the big plastic Dracula that came with it, which was actually capable of biting your finger!

Of course, it didn’t actually bite your finger. The model Dracula had two little red felt tip pens in its mouth which when you placed your finger inside might draw two little red blood dots on your finger. This was the luck element of the game, as sometimes Dracula would bite, and other times he wouldn’t. Dracula also had a cape which could be folded over him in the classic vampire pose, with just his eyes poking out over the top of the cape. There was a clock next to Dracula which randomly caused the cape to open when the hour hand was moved round on it.

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Posted by Big Boo on November 20th, 2007

ChockyHitting our screens in 1984 was the cult Thames Television kids science fiction show Chocky. Based on the John Wyndham (best known for The Day Of The Triffids) novel of the same name, the television version was adapted and updated for the 1980’s audience by Anthony Read.

The story revolves around a fairly average teenage boy called Matthew. Matthew is an adopted son to his parents, who start to worry when they notice that he appears to be talking to an imaginary friend, after all he’s a bit old for that kind of thing. As it turns out Matthew is not conversing with an imaginary friend at all, but a real live alien visitor called Chocky, who talks to him using a mix of telepathy and appearing as a big wibbly blue vortex thingy. They are even more worried when Matthew gets a fever and is unable to sleep because Chocky keeps talking to him all night, asking him questions about Earth.

The link with Chocky eventually does benefit Matthew though, as his intellectual and artistic skills are enhanced and his school work starts to improve dramatically. Unfortunately news of Matthew’s increased performance at school reaches a shadowy government organisation, who suspect that strange things are afoot. They kidnap Matthew to try and find out what is going on…

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My Little Pony

Posted by Big Boo on November 19th, 2007

My Little PonyIt seems to me that a lot of toy companies are a bit lazy when it comes to designing girls toys, especially when it comes to action figures. I would argue that those aimed primarily at boys tend to have more variation in the design of each individual toy in the range, whilst girls toys seem to be the same basic character produced in a range of different colours, as evidenced by toys such as The Care Bears and the subject of this post, My Little Pony. Maybe this isn’t such a bad thing though, as it at least means that the range of related accessory toys will work happily with any of a childs collection of figures.

Anyway, let’s talk about those little plastic equines. They first appeared in 1981 and are cute little horses with happy faces and massive eyes. They had long flowing manes and tails, and each came with a comb or brush to allow its happy owner to keep it well groomed. Each pony was coloured in a different pastel shade, and had a different picture stamped on it’s hind quarters. The picture was generally related to the name of the pony, and with names like Applejack, Sunbeam and Lemon Drop you can guess roughly what the images would probably be. Stamping pictures on the bottoms of girls toys seems to be a favourite trick used by toy manufacturers, presumably because it’s usually one of the large clear areas of a toy that is most easily visible.

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Terry Towelling Socks

Posted by Big Boo on November 16th, 2007

Neon SocksThe 1980’s spawned a number of dubious fashions, with the usual suspects of big hair and shoulder pads normally being mentioned first. However, during my teenage years the fashion it was cool to be seen sporting was the simple Terry Towelling sock.

Doesn’t sound all that fashionable, does it?

Looking back, this obviously came out of one of those rebellious teenage moments where kids don’t want to have to conform to rules. In this case, the rule was one of school uniform. In my secondary school, boys were only supposed to wear dark coloured socks with proper shoes. This wasn’t a particularly strict rule. It wasn’t “thou must weareth black socks”, just dark coloured sufficed. Despite this, the teenage rebels fought back by wearing their sports socks and trainers at all times. At this time the sports sock of choice was the short terry towelling kind that came up above your ankle but not quite as high as a normal pair of socks.

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Stocking Fillers - Suppliers to Father Christmas
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Back To The Future Part II

Posted by Big Boo on November 15th, 2007

Back To The Future 2Picking up where the first part left off, Back To The Future Part II was released in 1989, four years after the first film. Both this film and Part III were filmed back to back as there were concerns that Michael J. Fox might start to look too old to play Marty McFly.

Part II is my personal favourite, although it is probably also the most confusing of the trilogy since it involves the most actual time travel of the three films. At the start of the film, Marty and his girlfriend Jennifer are whisked into the future by Doc Brown to “do something about their kids”, Marty Jr. and Marlene (both played by Michael J. Fox). Marlene isn’t in any real trouble but Marty Jr. falls foul of Griff Tannen (Biff’s son) who is going to involve him in a robbery, which leads on to the break up of the McFly family. Doc Brown wants to prevent this, so brings Marty to the year 2015 to pretend to be his son.

Marty angers Griff, which leads on to the well loved hoverboard seen, a recreation of the skateboarding scene from the first film. This alters the future, saving the good name of the McFly party, as Griff smashes into the town hall and the robbery never takes place. Unfortunately, Marty gets a little greedy, and buys a sports almanac from a shop that contains the results of sporting events from the last thirty years. Doc Brown discovers this, and throws the book in a rubbish bin. Trouble is, the elderly Biff Tannen overhears Marty and Doc Brown talking and claims the book for himself, stealing the DeLorean time machine and travelling back to 1955 to give the almanac to his younger self.

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Rupert and the Frog Song

Posted by Big Boo on November 14th, 2007

Rupert and the Frog SongThe adventures of the little white bear called Rupert have been popular for many many years. Paul McCartney was a fan as a child, and when he realised that his own children loved Rupert just as much as he had done, it gave him the idea of creating an animated Rupert film.

In 1979 he set to work writing songs for the film, but sadly it was never to be. However, in 1981 he teamed up with animator Geoff Dunbar and brought one of those songs to life – Rupert and the Frog Song.

Finally released in 1984, the single reached number 3 in the UK charts, whilst the cartoon was the biggest selling video of the following year. The song, actually called “We All Stand Together“, is fondly remembered today for the “Bom, bom bom” sound made by a group of large backing frogs, and it’s simple but memorable chorus which goes like this:-

“Win or lose, sink or swim,
One thing is certain we’ll never give in,
Side by side, hand in hand,
We all stand together”

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Galaxy Counters

Posted by Big Boo on November 13th, 2007

Galaxy CountersThe rather poor illustration accompanying this post is supposed to represent the wonderful things that were Galaxy Counters. I believe they were phased out sometime during the 1980’s but don’t know exactly when. Something very similar is still available today as one of the sweets in a packet of Revels, but it’s not quite the same, as you will see.

Imagine a Galaxy Minstrel. Now remove it’s crispy shell to leave just the chocolate inside. This is basically what you get in a packet of Revels. Now stamp a little white number on one side of the chocolate. NOW you have a Galaxy Counter. A small difference maybe, that doesn’t really alter the taste at all, but does make the sweet much more fun for a child to eat. Kids are easily pleased you see. Do you remember the thrill of opening a tube of Smarties to see what letter was on the lid? Well with Galaxy Counters that thrill was multiplied as every sweet had a number printed on it. My sister and I would announce to whoever was listening what number we were about to eat every time we ate one.

If my memory serves me correctly then Galaxy Counters were sold in little white packets, about the same size as a packet of Cadbury’s Buttons. The packets had various pictures of different woodland animals on, such as deers and squirrels. I’m sure there was an orangey red coloured owl wearing a mortar board as well. I have a feeling there may have been a joke or something printed on the packet as well, in the same way that Cadbury’s Buttons had a nursery rhyme on them, but I can’t be sure.

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Number 73

Posted by Big Boo on November 12th, 2007

Number 73Famous for its bright red front door with the huge yellow 7 and 3 daubed on, Number 73 was an ITV Saturday morning show of the kind that lasts most of the morning, and pulls together interviews, music, cartoons and a bit of comedy banter from the regular hosts. It first aired in 1982, only in the TVS region, which caused much consternation to those kids who would rather be watching Tiswas, which was still airing in most of the rest of the country – back in the 1980’s the ITV schedule varied from region to region much more than it does today you see.

Number 73 replaced Tiswas initially for just a six week run, but despite initial complaints it came back every year to cover the beginning of spring, when Tiswas no longer aired. The show was set in the titular Number 73, a suburban family home (well, a studio mock up of one anyway), which was inhabited by the slightly nutty Ethel Spoon (Sandi Toksvig), her nephew Harry Stern (Nick Staverson), her boyfriend Percy Simmonds (Patrick Doyle) and the forever rollerskate clad Dawn Lodge (Andrea Arnold). I think Dawn may have been a lodger (hence her surname) but I’m not 100% sure about that. For the first few series the cast were not credited, which led many kids to come to the conclusion that these were real people rather than actors.

In later years the cast was joined most memorably by artist Neil Buchanan, now host of Art Attack, pop singer wannabe Kim Goody and various others, including the papier mache head wearing Frank Sidebottom.

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