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Archive for March, 2011

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Pound Puppies

Posted by Big Boo on March 11th, 2011

Pound PuppiesOne of the most successful toy lines of the 1980s was the Cabbage Patch Kid, and whilst the toy itself was undoubtedly the main draw for young children, its appeal was boosted by the gimmick of having each doll come with an adoption certificate, supposedly making the young owner the legal guardian of the doll.

Unsurprisingly this idea didn’t go unnoticed for long, and soon other toy manufacturers were doing similar things in order to make their toys seem that little bit more desirable to kids. The Pound Puppies range is one such line of toys that repurposed this idea and perhaps helped make the toys more popular than they might otherwise been.

The Pound Puppies were soft toy dogs who, to be honest, looked more than a little sorry for themselves. They were made in a lying pose, with their legs coming out of the sides and their head resting on the floor too, just like a real dog lying on the floor having a snooze. They had big floppy ears (a bit like a Bassett Hound) and had a rather bored looking expression on their faces.

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Here’s A House – A Celebration of Play School

Posted by Big Boo on March 9th, 2011

Play School BookIf like me you used to love watching Play School when you were but a tot, then it might interest you to know that there are now a couple of books available that go into the history and back story of this iconic kids TV show.

Written by Paul R Jackson, volumes one and two of Here’s A House – A Celebration of Play School, are now available. The first volume covers the genesis of Play School and covers it’s run from the mid Sixties through to the Seventies. Of possibly more interest to regular readers of this site though will be the new second volume, which covers the Eighties and Nineties, and also talks about the other versions of Play School that spun off from the original in different countries.

Each book contains details of major milestones and events for the programme for the relevant decades, and also features entries on each of the many presenters and contributions from the many people who were involved in the creation of this wonderful piece of television history.

For more information check out the pages on Kaleidoscope Publishings website for Volume 1 and Volume 2.

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Posted by Big Boo on March 7th, 2011

ColecoVisionWhen one thinks back to game consoles from the 1980’s the chances are you’ll probably think first of the Atari 2600 (in all its wood veneered glory) or the Nintendo Entertainment System. These two machines were undoubtedly the most successful of the early and late parts of the decade respectively, but there were other consoles around too. The Mattel Intellivision had a good innings, but the games console from the early Eighties that I always wished I had owned myself was undoubtedly the ColecoVision.

You’ll be forgiven for never having heard of the ColecoVision if you’re not from the US, since whilst it was available in the UK and Europe it was a very rare beast to find in the shops, which is a real shame as the system was actually very good indeed, capable of producing arcade quality versions of some of the biggest names in videogames at the time.

I only ever managed to get to play on a ColecoVision once. I used to go to a weekly computer club and one of the other attendees had brought their one along to show off to everyone there. The machine itself wasn’t much to look at, little more than a big black rectangular box, with two wired in controllers with a funny little knobbly joystick and a keypad of 12 big square buttons. There were also a couple of buttons on the sides of the controllers too.

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The T-Bag Adventures

Posted by Big Boo on March 4th, 2011

T-BagYou know how there are some things which are so incredibly bad that they somehow become incredibly good? The T-Bag kids TV series are an excellent example of this bizarre phenomenon. Somehow everything about this show was terrible, yet I for one couldn’t help watching it if it happened to come on whilst I was watching TV.

The programme first aired in 1985 and ran for nine series, coming to an end in 1992. Each series had it’s own unique title, such as T-Bag Strikes Back or T-Bag and the Revenge of the T-Set. In fact the only series that didn’t feature the name T-Bag somewhere in it was the first series, which was simply called Wonders in Letterland.

Each series followed a similar structure though. A young heroine would have to pass through many different fantasy or story book settings in order to track down a number of special artifacts of some kind (silver numbers perhaps, or pearls of wisdom) in order to put a stop to some diabolical scheme cooked up by the evil T-Bag.

T-Bag, or more correctly Tallulah Bag, was played by Elizabeth Estensen in a very pantomime villain style. By drinking tea from the High T-Plant she gained magic powers such as being able to teleport herself or other objects, and by pouring some of the tea into a saucer she could view what other people were up to, a bit like a crystal ball.

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Stocking Fillers - Suppliers to Father Christmas
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The Chernobyl Disaster

Posted by Big Boo on March 2nd, 2011

Chernobyl DisasterMaybe it was just because we lived near an airbase that housed nuclear missiles when I was growing up, but as a child it seemed to me that the biggest threats to the world were anything that had the word Nuclear in their title. When I first heard about the idea of a nuclear power plant, the idea just sounded plain wrong to me.

On 26th April 1986 it seemed all the scary stories about nuclear this and that had come true, when the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, in Ukraine (then part of the Soviet Union), exploded.

The Chernobyl power plant consisted of four nuclear reactors, and it was reactor number 4 that failed on that fateful day, but not through normal use. Engineers were actually performing a test on the reactor to do with its cooling system. In the case of an emergency shutdown the reactor still needs to be cooled, and the test was intended to see if enough power could be generated to drive the water pumps from the residual energy in the steam turbine.

The test failed, and led to the reactor going into a positive feedback loop, where the cooling of the system wasn’t sufficient and so more and more power was generated. The core got hotter and hotter until eventually it exploded.

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