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Archive for March, 2011

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The Incredible Hulk

Posted by Big Boo on March 30th, 2011

The Incredible HulkI’m pretty sure that the first superhero character I had ever heard of when I was growing up had to be Superman, purely because of the very successful films starring the late Christopher Reeve rather than the comic books. If he was the first though, then the second one would most likely have been The Incredible Hulk, though again not through comics, but rather through the television series.

In the television adaptation, Dr David Banner (played by Bill Bixby) was a medical researcher who became irradiated with gamma rays during an experiment that went wrong. From that day, whenever he got angry, David Banner would transform into his monstrous alter ego, a big green brute of a man who becomes dubbed The Incredible Hulk (played in the series by Lou Ferrigno, a former Mr. Universe bodybuilder).

The highlight of each episode would be watching the transformation from man to monster, which saw Bill Bixby start to writhe and sweat, followed by clips showing his body increasing in size and starting to rip his clothes to shreds. His skin colour would start to go that famous shade of green, and finally, once fully transformed, Lou Ferrigno would grimace at the camera and show off his impressive phsyique.

For some reason all the sequences that then followed of the Hulk smashing and crashing his way through things seemed to be in slow motion. Presumably this was to try and give more of an impressive feeling to the strength of the Hulk, and to hide how easy it would have been for Ferrigno to pick up and hurl a polystyrene boulder.

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Wheelie Bins

Posted by Big Boo on March 28th, 2011

Wheelie BinsInspiration for things to write about on this site sometimes comes at the most unlikely of times. The other day I was throwing away some rubbish in our wheelie bin when I suddenly caught notice of the number “1985” built into the plastic of the lid. I must have opened and closed that bin lid thousands upon thousands of times by now, and yet this innocent little number had never caught my eye until then.

All of a sudden I was reminded of when our household took delivery of our shiny new wheelie bin. We take them for granted now but for some reason I seem to recall there being a lot of moaning and groaning amongst the various adults we knew about these new fangled bins.

It shows has resistant to change we must all become as we get older. I’m sure there were complaints about the bin starting to smell from being reused too much, or that they would start to break and need replacing, and maybe even the indignity of having to drag your bin back up to your house after it had been emptied.

Having grown up with them I can only see them as a Good Idea. They are far more sturdy than an old plastic refuse sack, or black bin bag as we always used to call them. If the lid of our bin is anything to go by it was made in 1985 meaning its now over 25 years old and its still in excellent condition (if perhaps a little smelly, but just keep the lid shut and its not a problem!).

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Pop-Up Pirate

Posted by Big Boo on March 25th, 2011

Pop-Up PirateBoardgames tend to come in two varieties, those that take forever to play (yes, I’m looking at you Monopoly) and those which are over in but a few short minutes, such as the subject of today’s post – Pop-Up Pirate.

Pop-Up Pirate was created by Japanese toy company Tomy, with it’s original name being Kurohige Kiki Ippatsu, which apparently means Blackbeard in Danger. I think I prefer the name we ended up with to be honest!

As the name suggests the game features a little plastic buccaneer who sits inside a big brown barrel. Players are armed with some little plastic swords which they take turns poking into holes in the side of the barrel, a bit like a magician sticking swords into a magic cabinet containing his glamourous assistant.

One of the holes will cause the little pirate chap to leap out of the barrel, as if the sword has come into contact with his wee little pirate backside. Whichever player causes this to happen is out, and the whole game starts again until only one player remains.

I’m always reminded of games like Jaws and Buckaroo! whenever I think off Pop-Up Pirate, I guess because they all involve a sudden surprise event happening which signals the end of the game.

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Strange Eighties Video Game Stuff

Posted by Big Boo on March 23rd, 2011

Space Invader Cake TinA friend of mine runs a very successful Gadget website called CoolestGadgets and one of his more recent postings immediately caught my eye as it was such a simple yet cool idea, if you’re into baking cakes that is. It’s a Space Invaders cake mould which turns out some great squat little alien invaders ready for you to fill with a tasty cream filling or cover in icing. Yum!

Now, technically it isn’t a real Space Invader, as the shape isn’t quite right, but it’s close enough that you get the idea. A shame they didn’t make a whole range of moulds including the bases and player ship so you could make your own edible version of the classic arcade game. You could use Cadbury Mini Rolls for the bullets!

Space Invaders MugI did a little poking around for other such gems and came across the Heat Changing Space Invader Mug as well, which is one of those mugs which has the heat sensitive printing on the side that magically appears or disappears when a hot drink is poured into the mug. In this case the mug shows an image of a bunch of invaders when you add your favourite hot beverage.

Also available is a Pacman version, which as you might expect has a permanently visible maze layout and power pills which appear and disappear.

Stocking Fillers - Suppliers to Father Christmas
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Posted by Big Boo on March 21st, 2011

BananaramaBananarama were one of the biggest girl bands of the Eighties, and it may surprise you to know that they are still performing today, albeit with only two of the original three members. Formed in 1979 and consisting of Keren Woodward, Sara Dallin and Siobhan Fahey, Bananarama started off performing short sets or providing backing vocals at other bands gigs.

Interestingly Keren and Sara have been life long friends, and have known each other since the tender age of four. Sara met Siobhan at College, and that was how the three came together to first become friends and then become a musical group.

In 1981 they recorded their first proper demo song Aie a Mwana, which was perhaps a bit of a strange choice given that it is sung in Swahili. However, it got them noticed and they found there first chart success when they teamed up with Fun Boy Three for T’ain’t What You Do (It’s The Way That You Do It). I always remember it seemed a bit odd to me that Bananarama only got the “featuring” tag for this song, since it seemed like they did most of the singing!

This song set them up on the road to success, and it led to a string of chart successes including Really Saying Something, which was the return of a favour as it featured Fun Boy Three, Robert De Niro’s Waiting and Cruel Summer, which featured as part of the soundtrack on The Karate Kid.

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Velcro Fastening Trainers

Posted by Big Boo on March 18th, 2011

Velcro TrainersVelcro has to be one of the most useful inventions of the 20th century. It can be used to fasten together all kinds of things, including clothing, bags, wallets and just about anything that requires two things that need to be repeatedly joined and un-joined. Perhaps most surprising though is that whilst I personally think of it as being a fairly recent invention, it was actually invented in 1941!

I’m not sure if they first appeared in the Eighties or perhaps earlier, but I distinctly remember trainers appearing that were fastened by Velcro and immediately on seeing them I wanted a pair. After all, who wanted to mess about with laces, which kept coming undone, when you could slip on your trainers and have them fastened in seconds?

Eventually I got a pair, once we had managed to locate a pair that were reasonably priced as most of the initial versions were made by the big names in trainers and so had price tags which my Mum wasn’t prepared to pay (and to be honest I can’t say I blame her either).

I forget which manufacturer made my pair of trainers (they were probably unbranded ones to be honest, a sort of shoe shops own brand) but I did love them dearly. They were dark blue in colour and the Velcro fastener consisted of a U shaped strap which was fed through two oblong metal rivets. You just needed to pop in your foot, pull over the strap and push it down and you were done. Brilliantly simple!

Whilst Velcro trainers are still available today (as are Velcro fastening shoes for that matter) you don’t tend to see them about quite as much these days for adults, though for kids they are still very popular given that young children can find tying laces pretty tricky.

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Spud Guns

Posted by Big Boo on March 16th, 2011

Spud GunWhen I was growing up I had a number of different types of toy guns. I had a wooden pop gun, which fired a lump of cork attached to the gun with a string, and made a great popping noise in the process.

I also had a plastic machine gun that made a rat-a-tat-a-tat type sound when you pulled the trigger, and I had a couple of brilliant cowboy style pistols (I guess mine was the last generation of kids to regularly play Cowboys and Indians!) which you could load up with those pink strips of paper caps, so the gun made a loud bang whenever you pressed the trigger.

The toy gun that I always wanted to have though was a Spud Gun, but my parents would never let me have one, saying it was too dangerous. “How could firing a small lump of potato be dangerous?“, I thought at the time, but now that I’m a parent myself I can see where they were coming from.

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The Country Life Butter Men

Posted by Big Boo on March 14th, 2011

The Country Life Butter MenOver the last couple of years the controversial Sex Pistol John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) has been advertising Country Life butter and has helped put the brand back on people’s shopping lists, but back in the Eighties this particular brand was being advertising by four men made from the stuff.

There were four Country Life Butter Men, though there were no real distinguishing features between them and they looked pretty much identical. They were presumably made from butter since they were seen to live within a packet of the dairy product in question.

The adverts featured the four Butter Mens singing a song in West Country accents, which always made them sound like they were being forced by The Wurzels (though whether that is the case or not I really don’t know). The lyrics to this song will forever be etched into my subconscious, and they went like this…

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