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Archive for February, 2009

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Pull String Dolls

Posted by Big Boo on February 19th, 2009

pull string woodyThe 1980’s was really the beginning of the microchip revolution, with costs for this technology rapidly dropping to an extent where it became possible for relatively cheap items such as toys to start taking advantage of the extra features the silicon chip brought with it. A good example of this was the change in the ways toys that could talk were made, with dolls and action figures appearing that had little buttons you could press to make them say phrases or make sound effects.

These advances meant that the 1980’s also saw the end to some of the more traditional enhancements to toys, and one of these was the pull string doll. You know the ones, when you yank a little cord out the back and the toy says one of a number of pre-recorded messages. Baby dolls could be made to say Mama or start crying, whilst more boy oriented toys such as superhero dolls would say that characters various catchphrases.

Now, quite how this worked I’m not exactly sure, but I believe the pull string wound up a rotating mechanism which was what caused the sound to be produced. I think this worked on the same principle as a record player, so the toy contained a little disc or drum with the sound etched into the surface, and a needle was then allowed to pass over this surface when the mechanism was activated. That’s my best guess anyway. If anyone knows for sure I’d love for you to post a little comment at the end explaining the system.

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Star Wars – A New Hope

Posted by Big Boo on February 18th, 2009

OK, I know it was released in 1977, but with two thirds of the original Star Wars trilogy coming out in the 1980’s I think it’s only fair to include the first film on this site. Of course, back then the film was simple known as Star Wars, only officially becoming “Star Wars Episode IV – A New Hope” when the more recent trilogy was made. To me, I think it will always be simply Star Wars though.

If by some strange quirk of fate you’ve never seen the film, or don’t know the story, then rather than describe the plot like I usually do with films here’s a recap provided by a little girl of the tender age of three. She gets most of it pretty much spot on. Thanks to Jonathan from Raised in the 80s for bringing this great video clip to my attention.

Watching this video got me thinking about my memories of Star Wars from childhood. When the film was released I was only four (showing my age there) but it must have made some kind of impact on me as I definitely remember my Dad taking me to the cinema to see it. We didn’t go to the pictures very much when I was small, in fact the only other films I distinctly remember going to see were The Jungle Book, The Aristocats and Moonraker!

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Magpies and Crime Prevention

Posted by Big Boo on February 17th, 2009

There’s something I’ve noticed on TV programmes and films.  Maybe you’ve noticed it too?  How many times have you seen somebody go and visit somebody else, and walk straight into their house through the front door, which strangely isn’t locked and doesn’t even need a key to open it?

Soap operas are usually the worst offenders for this, and I remember Neighbours being a particularly good example of it back in the 1980’s, which was when I used to watch it regularly.

What does this have to do with magpies and crime prevention?“, I hear you cry.  Well, my wife reminded me of an old public information film from the early 1980’s which featured a tiding of magpies (yep, apparently a group of magpies is called a tiding).  Said magpies descended upon a neat suburban home which was obviously occupied by idiots, as they had gone out and left all the windows open and the front door was left ajar and didn’t even have a lock on it.

The message of this film was therefore, unsurprisingly, lock your doors and windows fool!  Check it out below…

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Competition! Win Tickets to the 80s Rewind Festival

Posted by Big Boo on February 16th, 2009

I’m pleased to announce Child of the 1980’s very first competition, and the prize we have lined up is pretty special.

The 80s Rewind Festival is taking place in August in Henley-On-Thames, and is set to be an incredible weekend centred around the great music of the eighties. The organisers of the event have very kindly given us a pair of weekend camping tickets so you and a friend can go and boogie away to your hearts contents for free!

To enter our competition click here, or on the big icon at the top of the sidebar. Best of luck!

Stocking Fillers - Suppliers to Father Christmas
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Best Guest Act on Crackerjack

Posted by Big Boo on February 14th, 2009

Writing about The Krankies earlier this week I couldn’t help but remember Crackerjack, the long running childrens variety tv show which sadly came to an end in 1984.  They just don’t make shows like that any more…

Crackerjack of course featured different acts each week, but for the comedy act it was usually one or other of The Krankies, The Great Suprendo or Basil Brush.  Oh, and Bernie Clifton always used to appear running around pretending to ride an ostrich.  I wonder how many people have run marathons dressed like that?  Anyway, the question this week is simple – which of these regular acts did you like most?

Which was the best guest act on Crackerjack?
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The Krankies

Posted by Big Boo on February 13th, 2009

the krankiesThe Krankies were a comedy double act who first appeared on the variety circuit in the late 1970’s.  They were so popular that during the 1980’s they were a mainstay of childrens television, with both their own tv shows and guest appearances on shows such as Crackerjack.

They were portrayed on stage as Wee Jimmy Krankie and his father, although in reality they were Scottish husband and wife Ian and Janette Tough.  Ian was the straight man to Janette’s cheeky schoolboy character, the whole act working so well because Janette was not very tall and so appeared childlike because of this.

The double act’s main catchphrase was Fan-Dabi-Dozi, which Jimmy Krankie would utter often during the course of their routines, much to the appreciation of the audience who would normally join in.  They did experiment with other catchphrases (see the video below where they use Hubba-Dubba-Doobie) but ultimately Fan-Dabi-Dozi was what most people will remember most.

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Rubber Bouncy Balls

Posted by Big Boo on February 12th, 2009

bouncy ballsSurely everyone must have own a rubber ball at some point in their lives?  They’re a mini Physics lesson all to themselves, teaching you all about the concepts of conservation of energy and the co-efficient of restitution (ooh, smarty pants me!) without you even realising it.  In other words, they bounced…

The humble rubber bouncy ball is one of those cheap and cheerful toys that for some reason amuses no end, providing many happy hours of throwing it at various things to see how much it would bounce back (the conservation of energy bit).  Drop it on the hard kitchen floor and it would bounce back almost to your hand, whilst dropping it on the living room carpet was most unsatisfying (that’ll be the co-efficient of restitution then).

Whilst merely dropping the ball from a reasonable height was fun in itself, it was even more fun if you threw the ball at the ground as hard as you could, in the hope it might bounce off the floor and hit the ceiling.

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M|A|R|R|S – Pump Up The Volume

Posted by Big Boo on February 11th, 2009

marrs pump up the volumeThe late eighties saw many pop records starting to use more electronic methods of music production over the more traditional methods of playing a musical instrument into a microphone.  Synthesisers, drum machines and music sequencers became common place and meant that people could now create music more easily, without having to spend years learning to play piano or guitar first.

Another new technique that was just beginning to find its feet was that of sound sampling.  This involved digitally grabbing a section of an existing song, perhaps a particular snatch of music or some lyrics, then using that sound in different ways by speeding it up or slowing it down, or repeating sections of it to give a stuttering effect.  Filters could also be applied to give the sound echos, make it sound robotic and much more.  These samples could then be strung together to make a whole new piece of music.

Pump Up The Volume was one of the first and most successful examples of the sound sampling method.  It was attributed to M|A|R|R|S which was a collaboration between two groups, A R Kane and Colourbox, who were both released on indie label 4AD.  Both groups had had the idea of releasing a more commercial dance record, as this style of music had yet to hit the mainstream, so the record label boss suggested the two groups work together to do this.

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