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Archive for the ‘Toys’ Category

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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.

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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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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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Stocking Fillers - Suppliers to Father Christmas
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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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Posted by Big Boo on February 16th, 2011

kerplunkYou couldn’t have given KerPlunk a better name than the one it has, could you? What would you go for otherwise? Marble Drop? Too boring. Stick Pulling Game? Dull as ditch water. Nope, KerPlunk suits the game perfectly, as it neatly conveys the idea of marbles dropping and sounds kind of cool to boot.

KerPlunk first appeared in 1967, and is another of those stalwart games which is still around today and will be around for as long as people are willing to play board games. Even when we’re all connected directly via a brain link to some virtual world, we’ll probably still be playing it then, except our virtual avatar will be wearing a sombrero, have green skin and crab claws, which would actually make the game a fair bit harder to play.

If you happen to have never played the game here’s a brief overview. A transparent plastic tube has a number of sticks inserted through little holes in its side, half way down its length. When enough sticks are inserted it forms a sort of floor, onto which a stack of marbles are placed.

Players take it in turns to remove a stick, being careful to not drop too many marbles, as the player with the fewest marbles after all the marbles have dropped is the winner. It’s a bit like a more nail biting, and potentially noisier, version of Jack Straws.

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Text Adventure Games

Posted by Big Boo on February 4th, 2011

Text Adventure GameNow here is a style of video game that has really gone out of fashion. Though new examples of the genre do exist, they are generally now relegated to the darkest corners of the Internet rather than being available to buy from shops or online retailers. I am of course talking about the humble text adventure.

Text Adventures (also often referred to as Adventure Games in the past, or as the rather grandiose sounding Interactive Fiction nowadays) were one of the first forms of video games to be created, which is hardly surprising given that they only required to be able to display text which was all a lot of early computers could do.

Despite having no graphics, many text adventures would actually be surprisingly absorbing, sucking you into their depicted world by having your imagination fill in what the locations actually looked like. The text was often written in the second person, which is probably best illustrated by a typical example.

You are stood in a dark room. You can see a table with food and drink set upon it. On the wall there is a heavy shield and a sword. There are exits to the north and east.

What do you want to do?

That last part was a prompt for you to enter some sort of command into the game, which was normally in the form of a verb followed by a noun, although later adventure games let you enter complete sentences to describe the things you wanted to do.

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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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