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Archive for April, 2008

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Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds

Posted by Big Boo on April 22nd, 2008

DogtanianDogtanian and the Three Muskehounds was a phenomenally popular cartoon created in the early 1980’s by Spanish studio BRB Internacional, although it was actually animated in Japan by Nippon Animation. The show finally hit UK TV screens in 1985, being shown on Children’s BBC where it hooked everybody in. Based on the famous novel The Three Musketeers written by French author Alexandre Dumas in the 19th century, the series followed the adventures of Dogtanian (D’Artagnan from the original story) in his quest to become on of the Muskehounds, the finest swordsmen in the whole of France.

The story was serialised into 26 parts, and once you were hooked you wouldn’t want to miss an episode. For the most part the cartoon was very close to the novel, although for obvious reasons some of the content was toned down a bit for kids, especially D’Artagnan’s somewhat more amorous ways than his canine counterpart.

The most notable difference, which was made for no apparent reason, was the swapping of the names of Porthos and Athos, two of the musketeers. In the novel Athos is the leader and Porthos the muscle of the group, but in the cartoon it is Athos who has gained the pounds, and Porthos who is in charge. A strange decision, but not one that affected the flow of the series at all. Aramis, the romantic, poetry loving, ladies man remained correctly named.

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Sindy

Posted by Big Boo on April 21st, 2008

Sindy DollIt’s less of the case today, but in the 1980’s little girls were generally either Sindy Girls or Barbie Girls (please don’t start singing at this point!). Today Barbie has garnered a pretty big share of the dress up doll market, but in the 1980’s Sindy just had the edge, in the UK at least.

My sister was a Sindy Girl, and I’m quite glad about that, given that her body shape was more representative of that of a real woman. You can imagine if she was scaled up to human size she would look like a woman. Barbie on the other hand is too long and thin. If you were to scale her up by the same amount I reckon she would probably need to be about 7 feet tall. In this day and age, with young girls striving to look like skinny supermodels, Sindy would be a better role model.

Sindy first appeared in the 1960’s, and she was generally sold with a single outfit of clothes. Extra clothes could be bought separately so you only ever needed a single doll. Of course, sometimes a particular outfit was only available with a new doll, but you could always try and buy a Sindy with a different colour of hair to the one you already had.

By the 1980’s, not wanting to be outdone by Barbie, Sindy had amassed a range of accessories such as a house, a beauty salon, a car and a horse. One of the best accessories my sister had was her “working” cooker. This came out at around the time that having a toy that made sounds (almost impossible not to have these days) was becoming affordable for toy manufacturers. The cooker was a very cleverly made toy that came with some pots and pans and a kettle. When one of these was placed on the cooker’s hob, a bubbling sound, or in the case of the kettle a high pitched whistle, would be heard.

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Sweet Exhibition

Posted by Big Boo on April 18th, 2008

Smarties Marilyn Monroe Why is it that you always find out about things just as they are about to finish? An exhibition entitled Sweet came to my attention today, which unfortunately comes to a close on April 24th. It’s been on show since November last year, but this is the first time I’ve seen anything about it.

It’s being held in London’s V&A Museum of Childhood (which I didn’t know existed either, and sounds like it might be worth a visit), and it’s an exhibition of model buildings and other structures that have been constructed out of sweets, including some famous London landmarks. For more details check out the information on the Museum of Childhood’s website.

According to Sky TV’s website the exhibition appears to currently be accompanied by various other pieces of artwork created from those little crisp coated chocolate sweets called Smarties, including the pictured recreation of Andy Warhol’s portrait of Marilyn Monroe. I think this is a separate exhibit organised to celebrate the return of the blue Smarties, which were dropped a few years back after a health scare about the colourings used in them – or at least that’s how I remember it. Anyway, it sounds like its worth a look if you get the chance.

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Lucozade – Replaces Lost Energy

Posted by Big Boo on April 17th, 2008

LucozadeThe image shown here looks as though it probably predates the 1980’s by at least two decades, but it does indicate the thing I most remember about Lucozade from when I was a kid. Nowadays bottled soft drinks most always come in plastic bottles, but back in the 1980’s we still used glass bottles. Lucozade was always special though, in that it looked like it was made from orange glass by virtue of the orange cellophane in which the bottle was wrapped. It was always disappointing to find that the bottle was actually completely clear once the cellophane had been removed.

Back in the 1980’s Lucozade was looked on as a “special” drink, and certainly not something that you would drink on a day to day basis. Today of course the idea of the energy drink is rife, and Lucozade finds itself fitting in with this niche in the world of fizzy pop, but back then you would only drink Lucozade after a bout of illness. Nobody in their right mind could ever say they enjoy vomiting, but being ill was looked forward to in a peculiar way when you were a child if it meant you were allowed to drink a bottle of Lucozade as a result.

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Stocking Fillers - Suppliers to Father Christmas
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Junior Bank Accounts

Posted by Big Boo on April 16th, 2008

Natwest Piggy BanksIn the early 1980’s High Street Banks suddenly began to realise there was an entire untapped market out there ready and waiting for them to exploit serve. Prior to this most kids may have had a Building Society account that was set up for them by their parents when they were born, if they had any kind of account at all, and withdrawing money from such an account normally needed a parents signature too, assuming of course the account had any money in it in the first place of course.

The Banks decided it was a good idea to encourage kids to be careful with their money, which is an admirable aim it has to be said. They did this by giving the younger saver incentives to keep adding to their account rather than blowing all their pocket money on Polystyrene Gliders and Penny Sweets.

There were two such schemes that managed to steal the majority of these emerging customers. The first was the NatWest Piggy Bank scheme, which was best aimed at the younger, primary school age end of the market. Upon opening an account you were presented with the first in a series of Piggy Banks, which was a piglet named Woody, who was dressed in nothing but a nappy. As the budding millionaires account balance grew they would be awarded further Piggy Banks in the series, until a full family of five had been collected. There were two more child pigs, named Maxwell and Annabel. The mother pig was called Lady Hillary and the set was rounded off at the end with head of the family Sir Nathaniel Westminster.

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One, Two, Three and Away – Roger Red Hat

Posted by Big Boo on April 15th, 2008

Roger Red HatFirst published in the 1960’s, I remember learning to read with the One, Two, Three and Away books when I was at primary school. The corner of our school hall was also the school library, and there was an entire shelf of these little white books arranged neatly, in order, on the bookshelves. You would borrow one of the books, take it home and read it with an adult. When you’d finished your book you could take it back and get the next book in the series.

The books were written by Sheila McCullagh, and illustrated by Ferelith Eccles Williams. They were split into different levels of reading abilities, starting with pre-schoolers and early readers, and ending with the colour coded series of Blue, Green, Red and Yellow, though whether this is in level of relative difficulty I do not know. I also have no idea what the top end of the reading age scale was intended to be, but I would guess somewhere in the 8-10 year old range.

The first character you met in these books was Roger Red Hat. So synonymous with the series was this character that the range of books was usually referred to by most children as the Roger Red Hat books, rather than One, Two, Three and Away. Roger was a happy little chappy who always word a red hat, that looked something like a beret, a green waistcoat and a spotty red neckerchief.

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Devil Bangers / Fun Snaps

Posted by Big Boo on April 14th, 2008

Fun SnapsIf you wanted to scare the living daylights out of your younger siblings then there was nothing better than the Devil Banger. I’m amazed that they are still available and haven’t been banned by Health and Safety years ago. These days they appear to be known as Fun Snaps, but they’re basically the same as I remember them.

The Devil Banger was basically a little piece of thin white paper filled with some kind of explosive material – maybe you can see now why I’m surprised they haven’t been banned! When thrown with force at a hard surface or stepped upon the material ignited with a loud snapping sound, blasting the paper surrounding the explosive contents apart in the process. If thrown at the right time you could scare the wits out of any passer by, which was lots of fun. Of course, if you did this within earshot of a parent or teacher you’d likely find your supply of them confiscated.

They came in boxes of around 50 bangers packed in a plastic bag full of shavings to keep them dry, because they became useless when wet. I presume that the active ingredient must be something similar to that used in the snaps for Christmas Crackers, but I have no idea what it is, or how potent it could potentially be!

If you fancy getting hold of a pack or two they are available from Silly Jokes for just 89 pence per pack, but please be responsible when throwing them around the office to scare your boss!

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Save British Kids TV!

Posted by Big Boo on April 11th, 2008

Badass Wombles of Central ParkLike the campaign to save the phrase Nitty Nora from becoming a trademark of a chemical company (if you’re quick there’s still time to pledge your support to this one today), here’s another campaign we at Child of the 1980’s feel strongly about, covering as we do some of the finest examples of children’s TV (in our opinion) from the 80’s.

The Save British Kids TV campaign has been set up to try and redress the balance in terms of kids television programmes that are made in the UK. It is alleged that only 1% of the programmes aimed at children that are currently shown on British TV have originated in the UK, a statistic I personally find startling and disheartening. Apparently the main UK TV stations, aside from the BBC, have either cut or completely removed from their budgets the commissioning of new programmes aimed at children.

To illustrate the point, a video has been made from old clips of The Wombles, a classic show from the 1970’s (which was still shown a lot in the 1980’s and is still shown today). It’s called Badass Wombles of Central Park, and gives a chilling (and hilarious) example of what The Wombles could have been had it come from the US! Obviously this is a bit of an exaggeration (there are some fine US kid’s shows such as Sesame Street after all) but it makes a good point. You can view it below, or on the campaign website.

If you are a UK citizen then please show your support by signing up to the Number 10 petition and by e-mailing a letter to your MP, both of which are easily achievable via links on the Save British Kids TV website.