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Archive for June, 2010

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The Game Of Life

Posted by Big Boo on June 30th, 2010

Game Of LifeI’ve mentioned various toys in the past on this site which were on my Christmas list but which the red suited one failed to bring, but today’s post is about one request which did turn up in my stocking come Christmas Day morning.

The Game Of Life is, as the name suggests, based around the story of a person’s lifetime. The idea is as you travel around the game board different events will shape out a fictional life history for each player. Each player chooses a different coloured car, and inserts into the driving seat a little pink or blue peg, depending on whether they are a girl or a boy (though I suppose there was nothing stopping you living out a life as the opposite sex, as the choice of male or female was largely irrelevant).

You car is your playing piece, and as you spin the rainbow coloured spinner to travel around the board there are certain squares you can land on which then add further little pink or blue pegs to your car. First you get married (nope, no choice in the matter on this one) and then further round the board certain squares would present you with a child (or possibly even twins) to build up your family.

Going back though, your first decision in the game was whether you should go to University or jump straight into the world of work. Going to college meant you could get a better paid job, which since the ultimate aim of the game was to be the player with the most money at the end meant this could well be the better route to take. As with life itself though, there was no guarantee this would be the case…

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John Craven’s Newsround

Posted by Big Boo on June 28th, 2010

John CravenGood old John Craven. I’m not quite sure how he did it, but somehow he took the most boring programme on TV (the news) and turned it into something kids wanted to watch. Maybe it was his snazzy selection of jumpers, or perhaps his teacher like demeanour, or perhaps it was just because John Craven’s Newsround only lasted for about five minutes, so you didn’t have time to get bored?

John Craven’s Newsround first came on air in 1972, and from then until 1989 the legendary sweater wearer John Craven told kids what was going on in the world in a clear and straight forward way. It was never really dumbed down though, just told without a load of jargon, waffle and conjecture. John gave you the facts of the story, and it was up to you to decide what you thought about it.

Newsround, as it is now called since Craven left the series, is still airing today, and has gone through a succession of presenters including Krishnan Guru-Murthy, who now hosts Channel 4’s evening news and Juliet Morris, who went on to read BBC Breakfast News before going on to present a number of other shows. You can still see Mr. Craven on TV though, as he hosts the BBC countryside show Countryfile.

Of course, the stories chosen were usually ones that were more likely to appeal to children in the first place, such as the near endless stream of stories about Giant Pandas, but you did get real news too. In fact, Newsround (as it became known since John left) was the first British news programme to report on the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in 1981, and was also first with news of the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion.

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How Much Pocket Money Did You Get?

Posted by Big Boo on June 26th, 2010

I’m sure you probably all had this conversation with your friends at school at some point in your life. Somebody would ask the question, “How much pocket money do you get?”.

This person normally either felt like they didn’t get as much as everyone else, and so wanted some ammunition to use against their parents in order to get a raise, or sometimes this person knew they got better than average, and wanted to show off.

For this weeks survey, I’d like you to think about how much you were given when you were around the early teenage years, since this is probably the time period when money became more important to you. C’mon, don’t be shy, it’s anonymous, unlike when the question was asked at school!

How much pocket money did you get each week during your early teenage years?
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The Fly

Posted by Big Boo on June 25th, 2010

the flyHorror movies that use gory make-up to create their frights don’t seem to be very popular any more, with film companies preferring to go down the more psychological route to scare people. Back in the eighties though, such make-up techniques had just reached a point where it was possible to create very realistic looking results, so there were many films released during this period that used them extensively.

One of the best examples of this was 1986 film The Fly starring Jeff Goldblum as scientist Seth Brundle, and Geena Davis as journalist Veronica Quaife. The Fly was a remake of a 1958 film of the same name, and the two films share very similar storylines.

In the 1986 version, Seth Brundle has just invented a matter transporter device (very Star Trek!) consisting of two chambers call Telepods. Pop an inanimate object in one pod, and a flick of a switch disintegrates it in the first pod, and reassembles it in the second. Pop in a living thing though, and things go a bit awry, as a poor baboon finds out when it reappears inside out in the second pod during a test.

At a press party held by Bartok Science Industries, who fund the teleporter research, Seth meets Veronica. He convinces her to come and visit his lab for a demonstration, which is when we see the poor reversa-baboon event occur, but Seth convinces Veronica to help him out by documenting his work. This leads to the pair getting romantically involved.

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Stocking Fillers - Suppliers to Father Christmas
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Stink Bombs

Posted by Big Boo on June 23rd, 2010

stink bombsThere were (and still are) a number of fun practical jokes you can get, such as Snappy Gum and the good old Whoopee Cushion, but there were also some rather more unpleasant ones, such as the subject of today’s post – the Stink Bomb.

A Stink Bomb does exactly what it says it does. It makes a terrible smell. Usually coming as little glass tubes containing a yellowish liquid, to use them you simply dropped them on a hard floor so they smashed, releasing the liquid which would then react with the air to make an awful stench, normally either like bad eggs or perhaps like bodily functions…

This was the kind of prank you really didn’t want to have played on you! I’m happy to say I never was the victim, nor was anyone I know, but I have experienced there effect, or at least I believe I have.

When I was a kid my parents would often take us to a shopping centre in the nearest big town to where we lived – The Butts Centre in Reading (since renamed The Broad Street Mall). The Butts Centre still had a very late sixties/early seventies feel to it when I was young, with orange and brown signs and decor in the public areas.

The centre was on two levels, with most of the big, well known shops on the ground floor. The second floor was comprised of more local independent shops, and sadly didn’t see as much footfall, so it became a bit of a spot for bored older kids to hang out with their mates.

I distinctly remember one time we went up to this floor to look in a little arts and crafts type shop, but on riding the escalator up to the top level we found ourselves holding our noses as it truly did smell like rotten eggs. I think we ended up spending five minutes in the shop then heading straight back down the escalator!

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The Carling Black Label Cowboy Ad

Posted by Big Boo on June 21st, 2010

Carling Black Label Cowboy AdHave you ever remembered something from your childhood that when you mention it to other people they look at you strangely and think you’re mad, and that you must be making it up? Today’s post is a good example of this phenomenon.

Carling Black Label used to run a very successful campaign, spread across numerous adverts, which were based on the idea of some bloke doing something extremely well, and a couple of onlookers watching him and commenting “I bet he drinks Carling Black Label“. They had many great adverts using this theme, but the cowboy one was definitely my favourite.

It starts with a cowboy clutching a bag leaving a western saloon bar. A posse of riders appears and the cowboy runs away, but is lassoed by some of them. The cowboy continues to run, pulling those who lassoed him from their steeds, and dragging them along the ground as if they were being dragged along by a stagecoach.

We see the cowboy continue through rivers and desert before running off into the sunset, still pulling along the other men, before we hear the tag line and cut to a picture of a pint of Carling accompanied by a jingle.

Is that all?“, I hear you say. Well, this is where it gets clever. The next advert comes on, or so we think. It’s an advert for a compilation album of love songs, with two lovers walking through a beautiful landscaped garden. Next thing you know the cowboy, still lassoed, bursts through a hedge, followed by a horse jumping the hedge. The cowboy has apparently invaded the next advert!

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Did You Care For A Care Bear?

Posted by Big Boo on June 19th, 2010

One of the post popular girls toys from the early eighties were Care Bears, who were a group of pastel coloured bears who lived up in the clouds and kept an eye on the people of Earth to make sure they kept on caring for each other.

OK, it sounds a bit sickly sweet as an adult perhaps, but for a generation of kids these were the must have toys for a period of their life.

The main range of toys divided into two groups. First there were the large cuddly toy versions, like a cute fluffy teddy bear but with an emblem embroidered on its white tummy. The other, more affordable range were the smaller plastic action figures, which also had a number of accessories including a car they could ride in and a sort of castle in the clouds.

So, this weeks survey then. Let us know if you owned any of the Care Bear toys?

Did you own a Care Bear?
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Posted by Big Boo on June 18th, 2010

galaxianWithout Space Invaders, the great grandaddy of the shoot ’em up videogame (well, OK, there was Space War before that, but hands up how many of you have actually played that!), there are a whole slew of games from the early eighties that we might never otherwise have had. Galaxian was one such game which owes Space Invaders at least a tip of the hat.

Galaxian took the general premise of Space Invaders, that of shooting a bunch of aliens lined up at the top of the screen, and made it more exciting by making the aliens behave in a more natural manner for an aggressive attacker from outer space. That is, instead of just plodding slowly along the top of the screen and occasionally moving downwards, these guys would break rank and attempt to dive bomb the player ship.

Instead of the aliens just appearing in rigid formation at the top of the screen, they would first zoom on from the top and sides of the screen in a curvy conga line, firing missiles as they went. If you were quick enough to position your ship in the right place you could actually take out most, if not all, of the aliens before they finished their path to the top of the screen.

As each wave of aliens finished their entrance pattern, they would line up at the top of the screen and slowly jiggle from side to side whilst they waited for the rest of their brethren to join them.

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