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Archive for August, 2009

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Rainbow Brite

Posted by Big Boo on August 17th, 2009

rainbow briteI am constantly surprised my how many toys and cartoons from the eighties that were aimed primarily at little girls actually started off life as a series of Hallmark greetings cards.  The Care Bears and Strawberry Shortcake are both good examples, and another is Rainbow Brite.

Rainbow Brite first appeared on a card in 1984, and that same year she also featured in her first animated film entitled Peril in the Pits.  In 1985 the theatrical release Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer came out, and then in 1986 the little multicoloured one got a regular cartoon TV series of 13 episodes.

The backstory to Ms. Brite’s adventures was that a little orphan girl named Wisp was whisked away by a magical force to a place called the Colorless World.  She befriends a Sprite called Twink, a funny little fluffy fellow, and a horse called Starlite with a rainbow colored tail and mane.

Wisp is tasked with bringing colour back to the world in which she finds herself, and to do this she must free the seven Color Kids, who are Red Butler, Lala Orange, Canary Yellow, Patty O’Green, Buddy Blue, Indigo and Shy Violet.  As you can see there was a Color Kid for every colour of the rainbow, and each had their own personal Sprite friend.

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Slotted or Slot Free Racing? Which is Best?

Posted by Big Boo on August 15th, 2009

I’ve previously written about both slot car racing sets (e.g. Scalextric) and the slot free equivalents (e.g. TCR). Both are great fun but which is of preference to you? Do you prefer the fact the cars are (slightly) more likely to stay on the track with a slotted system, or do you like the freedom to change lanes, even if it does mean the cars fly off easier?

How do you like your racing?
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Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Posted by Big Boo on August 14th, 2009

ferris buellers day offWith writer and director John Hughes passing away recently it made me realise that despite him creating a great many films in the eighties, I have only covered one of them so far on this site (The Breakfast Club if you’re interested).  Time to put that to rights then with Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) is a high school student who awakes one morning and decides the day is too nice to go to school, so fakes illness to deceive his parents and then spends the rest of the day enjoying himself in Chicago along with his best friend Cameron and his girlfriend Sloane.

The fun starts when Ferris persuades Cameron to borrow his father’s car in order to get around the city.  This might not seem such a bad idea, except that the car in question is a restored 1961 Ferrari, not exactly the most inconspicuous car to be driving around in when you’re playing hookie!

Of course things are never simple and Ferris and his friends have to keep one step ahead of various people who are trying to catch him out, in particular Mr. Rooney, a teacher from his school who suspects Ferris of sciving off and heads over to his house to try to find him.  Luckily for Ferris, his sister Jeannie returns home and scares Mr. Rooney off, thinking he is a burglar.  Unfortunately for Ferris, Jeannie is also out to find him as she is annoyed (and perhaps a bit jealous?) that he can bunk off so easily.

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Total Control Racing

Posted by Big Boo on August 12th, 2009

total control racingScalextric may have weathered the course of time as the most popular slot car racing system, but back in the eighties there were several challengers to the model car racing crown, the most successful of which was Total Control Racing, or TCR for short.

Unlike Scalextric which had pegs on the bottom of the cars which sat in slots on the track, Total Control Racing had little brass contacts on the cars which connected with metal wires that were embedded in the track.  This allowed the TCR system to be a little more flexible in the features it offered, as well as making putting the cars back on the track when they spun off much simpler.

First and foremost, the big advantage TCR had over Scalextric was that the cars were not limited to driving in one lane.  A button on the trigger controllers allowed you to make your car hop across to the other lane, which if done at the right time could knock an opponents car off the track.  It also allowed for what became known as a “Jam Car”, which was a third car that moved around the track automatically but at a slow pace, meaning the players had to swerve round it.

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Stocking Fillers - Suppliers to Father Christmas
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Stay Alive

Posted by Big Boo on August 10th, 2009

stay alive boardgameOne of things you did as a kid when Christmas was just around the corner was to start making a list of things you wanted Father Christmas to bring you (I try to resist the urge to call him Santa Claus.  It was always Father Christmas when I was little).  Invariably of course you didn’t get everything on that list, but you might have got a few things that weren’t on your list.

Quite often though it was these unasked for presents that actually became your favourites.  I’ve mentioned this before with the Don’t Upset Me game I received one year, and another good example was the rather excellent Stay Alive, which also appeared magically in my Christmas gifts one year.

Stay Alive is a really simple game to learn, and can have up to four players.  Each player sits on one side of the game board, and places their coloured marbles on the grid in the middle of the board.  The grid is made up of a number of sliders with holes in various places, one set running horizontally and another set running vertically.  Once all the marbles are placed players take it in turns to move the sliders with the aim of causing their opponents marbles to fall through the holes, whilst also ensuring their own marbles are as safe as possible.

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Sneaking Into The Cinema

Posted by Big Boo on August 8th, 2009

When I wrote about Nightmare on Elm Street I made reference to something most kids have probably done at some point – trying to sneak into the cinema to see a film you’re not yet old enough to see.

As a parent now I obviously need to frown upon such ideas, as film (and now videogame) ratings are there for a reason.  However, for the purposes of this post I shall switch off parenting mode for just a moment, and ask all of you out there not whether you ever tried to sneak into the cinema (c’mon, we all did) but rather whether you ever got caught!

Did you ever get caught trying to sneak into a film at the cinema you were too young to see?
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John Hughes 1950-2009

Posted by Big Boo on August 7th, 2009

john hughesI am sorry to have to report the death of John Hughes, one of the most successful film directors, producers and writers of the 1980’s.  He suffered a heart attack on 6th August 2009 whilst visiting his family in New York, and passed away at the age of just 59.

If you are unaware of who John Hughes is, chances are you will have heard of at least one of his films.  Some of his most memorable from the eighties are The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Uncle Buck and Planes, Trains and Automobiles.  Probably his biggest success came in 1990 with the release of smash hit Home Alone.

He was born in Lansing, Michigan and graduated from Glenbrook North High School in Northbrook, Illinois in 1968.  He was obviously very attached to this area as many of his films were either set or filmed there, although he often called the town involved Shermer, as Shermerville had been the first name for Northbrook.

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Crystal Tipps and Alistair

Posted by Big Boo on August 5th, 2009

crystal tipps and alistairMade in the early 1970’s, Crystal Tipps and Alistair was still being shown whenever the childrens TV schedule had a five minute gap well into the 1980’s.  The cartoon was about a girl called Crystal Tipps who wore a tiny yellow and green striped dress and had the biggest shock of curly purple hair you’ve ever seen.  Always at her side was her lumbering canine pal Alistair, who always looked a bit dopey and often got teased mercilessly by Ms. Tipps.

The show was created by Hilary Hayton who was a designer at the BBC.  Interestingly it was Crystal Tipps name that came first, as Hilary noticed the name Crystal Tips on an ice machine in the BBC canteen!  In the late 1960’s Hilary designed a young girl and her dog, and so with an extra “p” Crystal Tipps and Alistair was born, and their first adventure was created as an entry for an internal BBC competition.

Hilary’s work was noticed and in time she was asked to create a full series, which eventually amassed into 50 five minute episodes, and a longer Christmas special.

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