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Archive for March, 2010

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Major Morgan

Posted by Big Boo on March 17th, 2010

major morganMajor Morgan was a toy that my sister received for Christmas one year, but which both she, myself and my Mum and Dad all really enjoyed playing with.

Major Morgan was a musical instrument, of sorts. Made of plastic and shaped like a friendly looking soldier in blue and red uniform, his stomach area comprised a keypad of 16 buttons marked with letters corresponding to the musical note that played when you pressed them. Above the keypad was another little area which had “MAJOR MORGAN” written on in big friendly letters.

Pressing the buttons made the Major produce a weird warbly kind of sound. Great fun could be had by trying to work out which buttons to press to play different tunes, or simply just wiggling your finger over the entire pad to make a warbly din.

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Microwave Ovens

Posted by Big Boo on March 15th, 2010

microwave ovenIf there was ever a kitchen appliance that was associated with the eighties, then the Microwave Oven is surely it. These wonder devices entered our homes with the promise of quick and convenient cooking, which was certainly true, but there was also a great deal left out of the marketing campaigns, as we all discovered when our household finally got one.

It may surprise you to discover that the microwave oven wasn’t actually invented in the eighties though. A patent was filed in the 1930s that proposed the groundwork for the method that microwave ovens use, and in 1945 it was found that microwaves could have a heating effect when a radar engineer discovered that a radar set had melted a chocolate bar in his pocket.

The first home microwave oven was launched in 1952 in the US, but it failed to catch on due to it’s expensive price tag. In the 1960s further models were released by various companies but it still failed to catch on, again due to expense and the unfamiliar technology. By the late 1970s prices started to come down, and by the time the 1980s arrived the cost was low enough for many normal families to consider buying one.

Cost however was not the only barrier stopping microwave ovens from coming into peoples homes. Scare stories about the effects of radiation of different kinds soon got linked to microwave ovens, and people were paranoid about these devices leaking rogue microwaves and slowly cooking them to death. Devices were even sold which were like mini Geiger counters for microwaves, which you could wave around your microwave oven to make sure it was safe.

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Do You Still Watch EastEnders?

Posted by Big Boo on March 13th, 2010

Having just written about Anyone Can Fall In Love, Anita Dobson’s song set to the EastEnders theme tune, I thought I’d go for an EastEnders themed survey this week.

Given this is an eighties site, I figure many of you reading this will have been around when EastEnders first aired, so I’m curious to find out whether the show is still popular with people from this era, simply because they started watching it when they were a kid and have not stopped. Please choose the option below which best fits your viewing habits for EastEnders.

My viewing habits for EastEnders are...
Total Votes: 76 Started: March 12, 2010 Back to Vote Screen
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Anita Dobson – Anyone Can Fall In Love

Posted by Big Boo on March 12th, 2010

anyone-can-fall-in-loveIt was the mid eighties when the BBC launched their soap opera EastEnders with much fanfare, causing my Mum and mothers across the land to tune in eagerly for a dose of market trading folk from a small London suburb. Such was the popularity of the show back then that the characters who made up the original cast are still fondly remembered today.

The programme has a very memorable theme tune, but it came as quite a surprise to most people when Anita Dobson, aka Angie Watts, the Queen Vic landlady, released a record which put lyrics to the theme song.

The lyrics may well be considered cheesey now (and probably was back in 1986 when it was released) but it has to be said that Anita Dobson didn’t actually have a bad singing voice, so whilst it was most likely the popularity of EastEnders that saw the record reach number 4 in the UK charts, at least there was some talent involved in the production of the record.

The EastEnders theme tune was originally composed by Simon May, with the lyrics added afterwards by Don Black. It was produced by Dobson’s husband Brian May. That’s right, the big haired Brian May from Queen! Well, it’s nice that he supported his wife, isn’t it?

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Stocking Fillers - Suppliers to Father Christmas
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Pob’s Programme

Posted by Big Boo on March 10th, 2010

pobs programmeWhen Channel 4 first started airing in 1982 children’s programmes were fairly thin on the ground on the channel. They may even have been non existent because if I remember correctly it initially didn’t start broadcasting each day until late afternoon.

When kids programmes on Four did make an emergence though, they were often aimed at younger children and were actually very good. A good example of this is Pob’s Programme, which first came on air in 1985. It was created by Doug Wilcox and Anne Wood of production company Ragdoll. If that sounds familiar then Anne and Ragdoll have gone on to be incredibly successful with shows such as Teletubbies and In The Night Garden.

Back to our friend Pob then. Pob was a puppet with a large round (presumably wooden) head with big sticky out ears and pinky purple papery looking hair. You never saw his body because he wore a very long pink and yellow striped knitted jumper, the end of which stretched far away below him, and was slowly unravelling as if someone was pulling at a loose end.

Pob was supposed to live inside your television set, so our view was generally of Pob stood in front of the electron guns behind the glass of the screen. Pob would use the screen to write his name and draw pictures, which he did by breathing on the screen (it sounded more like blowing raspberries though) until it fogged up and he could draw on it with his finger.

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Clip Ons

Posted by Big Boo on March 8th, 2010

clip on toysToday’s post is all about a toy which my sister collected when we were kids. We always referred to them as Clip Ons, though whether they went by any other name I no longer recall. The basic Clip On was a little furry toy that had two arms that clasped together. When you pressed on the shoulders the arms opened and the toy could then be clipped on to other narrow objects.

Clip Ons came in all sorts of guises, and my sister’s collection was extensive. Some were just little animals like rabbits or bears in various colours (be they realistic looking greys and browns or brightly coloured variations), but you could also get pretty much anything you care to think of.

Whilst some were fairly generic, such as clowns, dolls, snowmen or Father Christmas, others were created in the form of well known cartoon characters. Amongst my sister’s collection she had Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles, The Get Along Gang, E.T. and many more. In total she had around 130 of them, surprisingly no two of which were the same.

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The (Kids) Works of Roald Dahl

Posted by Big Boo on March 6th, 2010

These days it’s all tales of boy wizards, teen secret agents, witches and vampires, but for me the author that made up most of my reading diet when I was growing up was Roald Dahl. His books are children’s classics and are obviously still very popular today, indeed we’ve recently just had a film adaptation of Fantastic Mr. Fox, not bad considering that book was first published forty years ago!

My ultimate favourite Dahl book has to be Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I fell in love with this book when it was read to us at primary school, and I’ve loved it ever since. I even love the sequel, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, if only for the wonderfully named Vermicious Knids. Another favourite from school was Danny the Champion of the World, a book about poaching pheasants no less!

Whilst Dahl always had a wicked streak in his books this streak got more and more pronounced as time went by. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is full of wonderful inventions, but it is very much based around a very normal little boy. By the time of The Twits and George’s Marvellous Medicine most normality had been thrown out of the window and the characters have become larger than life in most cases. Not that this is a bad thing, but there is a distinct difference between his earlier and later works.

So, what’s your favourite Dahl book? I’ve provided what I consider the essential Dahl below (although I must confess I’ve never actually read James and the Giant Peach for some reason), but if you feel strongly about one that I’ve missed feel free to add it, even if its Tales of the Unexpected, which isn’t really a kids book!

Your favourite Roald Dahl book is?
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3D Monster Maze

Posted by Big Boo on March 5th, 2010

3D Monster MazeWhat is the first thing you think of when someone mentions the Sinclair ZX81? Blocky black and white graphics? No sound? Flat keyboard? Or perhaps, if you’re from the PlayStation generation, what on Earth is that?

All the above are common and understandable responses, but if I said “The herald of the 3D videogames” you might think I was crazy. How could such a lowly powered piece of silicon and plastic be a forerunner in 3D gaming? Well, in a way, it was, when you consider the landmark game 3D Monster Maze.

3D Monster Maze was really a very simple game. You were placed in a randomly generated maze and had to find the exit before being eaten by a Tyrannosaurus Rex. What was unique for this game at the time was that your (admittedly blocky) view of the maze was from a first person perspective, as though you were actually standing in the maze. You saw the corridors of the maze stretching away in front of you, and with no birds eye view to show your position, that made the game far more difficult.

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