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Archive for January, 2011

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Garbage Pail Kids

Posted by Big Boo on January 31st, 2011

Garbage Pail KidsThe Cabbage Patch Kid was one of the most successful toys of the Eighties, but the strange appearance of the dolls led to them becoming the butt of many jokes. One of the biggest of these was the creation of a entire range of characters known as the Garbage Pail Kids.

The Garbage Pail Kids were a series of trading cards (that were also peel off stickers) which were initially styled to look very much like a Cabbage Patch Kid, but were normally given a much more disgusting look such as being covered in weeping sores or having no arms or legs, or were having some kind of terrible (though comical) punishment inflicted upon them.

Each of the designs were then given names which played well off the depicted character. For example, a zombie like character might be called Deady Eddie (not sure if this was a real name or not, I just made it up to give you the idea). In actual fact, most of the designs in the series were actually used twice with the only differences being the use of another name.

Given kids often like anything weird and disgusting like this the cards were an instant hit, and unsurprisingly many adults disliked them intensely. Schools started to ban children from taking them to classes because they were too distracting (which I suppose is a fair point), and eventually the makers of Cabbage Patch Kids also forced Topps, the makers of Garbage Pail Kids, to stop making the characters look so similar to the dolls.

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Two More Rewind Festivals Announced

Posted by Big Boo on January 28th, 2011

80s Rewind Festival 2011Since it launched a couple of years ago the celebration of Eighties music that is the Rewind Festival has gone from strength to strength. Not only is it set to return again to Henley-On-Thames in August this year, but there is also a second sister festival taking place in Perth, Scotland in July, meaning those of you living in the North of the UK won’t have to travel as far to enjoy some great Eighties music.

Starting with Rewind Scotland then, this festival will be running from July 29th-31st 2011 and is taking place at Scone Palace. Some of the acts confirmed as appearing are The Human League, Billy Ocean, Kim Wilde, Nik Kershaw, Bananarama, ABC and Toyah and that’s just the beginning as there are loads more.

The Rewind festival in Henley-On-Thames will take place from August 19th-21st 2011 and as in previous years is held by the side of the river Thames. Acts appearing here include all those mentioned above plus Village People, The Original Bucks Fizz and Captain Sensible, though again there are far more than this.

Both festivals are not just about the music however, and will feature a fun fair, eating areas and theatre spots. It has been dubbed the perfect festival for people who don’t usually go to festivals, and to further back up this claim you can even book up for the “Glamping” option, where you arrive to find a tent sent up for you so you don’t have to worry about how to insert rod A into slot B.

For more information or to book tickets head on over to the Rewind Festival website.

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Posted by Big Boo on January 26th, 2011

Asterix and ObelixI first remember coming across Asterix the Gaul at primary school. I would have been about six or seven and was looking through the school library for something to read, when I came across this annual sized book with a cartoon character on the front. I picked it off the shelf and started flicking through it and was immediately excited to discover that the school library contained a comic book!

Scarcely believing my luck I headed back to my chair and started looking through the book, whose title and plot details sadly elude my memory now. The first thing that struck me was that there was a great deal of use of the letter ‘X’, a letter which to me seemed rarely used back then. I struggled a bit with some of the character names, but the story seemed pretty exciting, with a group of villagers fighting against some Roman centurions.

The main character, Asterix, felt a little like Popeye the Sailor Man, one of my favourite cartoon characters as a boy, especially since he only became strong when he drunk a magic potion, but I have to say I found the man mountain that was Obelix far more entertaining.

I certainly enjoyed reading the book, but given it appeared to be the only one in the school library (I guess it must have been donated) and I never seemed to be able to find the books in either shops or public libraries, I never got to read any more of them. I do remember having a friend at some point when I was a bit older who had some of the books, and got to flick through a couple more then, but that book remains the one and only Asterix story I have ever read.

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Posted by Big Boo on January 24th, 2011

AnnieAnnie was one of my sister’s favourite films when we were growing up, so it was a film that I saw myself quite a bit, and I have to say I too have good memories of it myself.

The film was released in 1982 and stars Aileen Quinn as the titular Annie. The film is a musical and was based on a stage musical from the late Seventies, which in turn was based on a newspaper comic strip Little Orphan Annie which dates back to the 1920’s. Annie is an orphan with a curly mop of very orange hair. She lives in an orphanage run by Miss Hannigan, who makes the lives of Annie and the other orphans an unpleasant one.

One day though, Annie’s life changes for the better, when the secretary of Oliver Warbucks (Albert Finney), a hard headed billionaire, turns up at the orphanage looking for a child to live with Warbucks for a week as a publicity stunt. Annie is chosen, and whilst Warbucks is not best pleased (he would have preferred a boy), as time goes by Annie starts to melt his cold heart, and eventually Warbucks adopts Annie as his own daughter.

Whilst happy at leaving the orphanage, Annie has always been convinced that she is not actually an orphan, and that her mother and father are still out there somewhere. Warbucks decides he will try to help Annie out, and makes an appeal for her parents to come forward.

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Stocking Fillers - Suppliers to Father Christmas
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On Safari

Posted by Big Boo on January 21st, 2011

On SafariOn Safari was one of the first kids TV game shows I remember watching that was of the “lots of messy games” format. You know the kind of thing, where the contestants are asked to go across an assault course of some sort, which just so happens to have lots of pools of water or gunge strategically placed to ensure no one gets through without getting filthy.

The show was aired from 1982 to 1984 and as the name suggests, had a jungle and wild animals theme. It was hosted by Christopher Biggins (ironically later to become King of the Jungle on I’m a Celebrity…) who was assisted by the husky voiced future EastEnder Gillian Taylforth, who kept track of the scores.

Three (later two) teams comprising a child and one of their parents would compete against each other in the games, often involving the kids doing some task involving some kind of skill (e.g. throwing balls through holes in cardboard animals or making a jigsaw puzzle) whilst the adults did the more active part, which usually involved them getting dirty or wet in the process.

Biggins, looking surprisingly dapper in his Safari suit, and brandishing a cane to give him an air of authority, was actually a great choice of host for the show. At the time he was known to kids for appearing in Rentaghost, and he always had a massive grin on his face no matter what he was doing. Like all good game show hosts he even had a catchphrase, which involved him shouting the word “Safari” and the audience shouting back “Sagoody” (i.e. “Safari’s A Goody”).

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Troll Dolls

Posted by Big Boo on January 19th, 2011

TrollsTroll dolls may not have been an invention of the Eighties, but they certainly enjoyed one of their many comeback periods during the decade. Over the years Trolls have been made by many toy manufacturers, so it’s hard to know who actually owns the rights to them, or indeed if anybody actually does.

The typical Troll is normal made from plastic, is around 15cm tall, and has a pot belly and a cheeky, cute-yet-still-disturbingly-ugly face, and a shock of brightly coloured fluffy hair that shoots vertically out of the top of its head. Since the toys often have subtly different facial features or different coloured hair depending on the manufacturer, Trolls are one of those toys that people like to collect, and the company that made them is often irrelevant.

Trolls have gone under many names, including Good Luck Trolls, Treasure Trolls, Gonks, Wishniks and Dam Dolls, but it is the latter which can claim to be the original name for them. The toys started off humbly enough, when in 1959 Thomas Dam, a Danish fisherman and woodcutter made a carved wooden doll for his daughter’s Christmas present. When other children saw the doll, they wanted one too, and so Thomas started making them and selling them locally.

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Faith Album to be Reissued End of January

Posted by Big Boo on January 17th, 2011

Last Autumn I reported that George Michael’s hugely successful first solo album, Faith, was to be remastered and reissued. The release unfortunately had to be put back, but I can now reveal that it is due for release on January 31st 2011, so in a couple of weeks at the time of writing!

There are two versions of the album being made available. The first is the Special Edition 2 CD/DVD version which contains the remastered album, a bonus CD featuring instrumental versions of some of the songs and a DVD with even more special footage. The, for the real fans, there is the Limited Edition Numbered Box Set which contains all the above plus a Vinyl version of the album and lots of other goodies.

To celebrate the reissue I’ve been given the opportunity of giving away three copies of the remastered album, so if you fancy winning a copy pop on over to the Faith competition entry page now!

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Cockleshell Bay

Posted by Big Boo on January 14th, 2011

Cockleshell BayThink of the much missed animation studio Cosgrove Hall and you’ll probably think first of DangerMouse or Count Duckula. They were certainly responsible for a lot of the more fondly remembered, madcap and typically British animation series from my childhood, yet they also had a softer side for the younger child.

Cockleshell Bay was one such example of Cosgrove Hall bringing a more sedate and calm experience. The show was made using the stop frame animation technique, and was about the adventures of Robin and Rosie Cockle, two young twins who lived in a little seaside guest house called The Bucket and Spade, which was run by their parents.

Robin and Rosie lived an idyllic life, and I was even a little envious of them as I would have loved to have lived by the seaside when I was their age. Unlike a lot of today’s children’s entertainment, they spent their time doing normal things, like walking along the beach, playing hide and seek or just chatting with their friendly neighbours, until it was time for tea, which if I remember correctly was how the series brought most of their adventures to an end, by being called in for their evening meal.

The Bucket and Spade was owned by their parents Christopher and Helen, who had moved to the coast to escape the more madcap pace of town life. They were more than ably assisted by Gran Routy, who wasn’t actually Robin and Rosie’s grandmother, but became a sort of surrogate granny to the children.

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