Aug 31, 2018

Retro Multimedia


Random Photos From Childhood
This is my bedroom in Hazleton when I was a kid.  I spent a lot of time back then playing my mother's records and 8-tracks, discovering a love of music.  The cassette recorder was used mostly to record my family talking (usually without their knowledge), or to hold up to the tv to record episodes of Scooby Doo to listen to later on when I was coloring.

Some of my stuffed animals are hiding around here as well, including two little Pound Puppies on the top of the television, and a Lotsa Leggs on the left stereo speaker.  I think that might be Paddington Bear on the right hand side of the tv behind the cassette recorder.

Aug 30, 2018

No More Tours


Stone Sour / Ozzy Osbourne
No More Tours 2
Allentown, PA - August 30, 2018
Photo Album
Ozzy returned to the United States for his second (and potentially final) farewell tour by performing an incredible show at the PPL Center in Allentown, PA.  I was lucky enough to get to see the show, and it's fair to say that the Prince of Darkness hasn't missed a step.

Stone Sour opened the show with an awesome and energetic set, followed by Ozzy performing a cross-section of his remarkable career.

Aug 29, 2018

The King On Genesis



Michael Jackson would have been 60 years old today.  Here is the King Of Pop in 1992 at a promotional event for the release of Sonic The Hedgehog 2 on Sega Genesis.

Aug 28, 2018

RetroFest


WWE RetroFest
Mattel (2018)
Earlier this year, Mattel has released a line of WWE action figures designed after the wrestlers that are featured in the WWF arcade games of the 80's and 90's.  The packaging for the series has been designed to look like a vintage arcade cabinet with a simulated screenshot of the game with the wrestler's profile.

The figures themselves appear as the wrestler's did in the player select screen of their respective games.  Three wrestlers are currently available: "Macho Man" Randy Savage and The Honky Tonk Man from the 1989 game WWF Superstars, and Shawn Michaels, who to the best of my knowledge did not appear in an arcade game until he took on his Heartbreak Kid persona, but who has been presented in this toy series as one half of The Rockers.

Aug 27, 2018

The Newest 20th Century Game


Skee Ball Alley
This undated photo is hanging on the wall near the pinball machines at the Playland Arcade in Knoebels.  It cost five cents to play.  The sign advertises a $1 prize for achieving the highest score of the day, a Gillette Razor for the highest score of the week, and $100 in gold for a perfect score of 450.

Despite the fact that the photo features three men and a boy, the sign promises that "ladies play it as well as men".

Aug 26, 2018

The Lost Logger


The Lost Logger
Knoebels Amusement Resort
Throughout my life, there has been an area just past the Phoenix and the water flume where a man carved, panted and sold beautiful wooden statues at very reasonable prices.  Since I've been coming to Knoebels as a child, we always took a few moments to admire the things on display here.  I have photos of myself and my family next to large statues of alligators and bears from when I was a child.  As an adult, I've purchased a few decorations that I have around the house and in the back yard.

On my visit to the park yesterday, I noticed some pumpkin statues and wanted to buy one to have as a fall decoration.  While I was waiting for the person ahead of me to finish paying, I noticed a news article tacked up to a sign that told a little more about The Lost Logger.  His name is Don Nilson.  He's the man in the yellow shirt behind me and to the right in the photo above.  He opened his shop at Knoebel's in 1979 (winning a $50 bet in the process), and he's been here ever since.

I hope that everyone who visits the park has an opportunity to stop by and appreciate how truly cool this is.

Aug 25, 2018

Heads Up


Heads Up! Baseball Stars
Topps (1990)
Knoebels Amusement Resort - Roaring Creek Arcade
There are two arcades at Knoebels, both of which have a prize counter where you can redeem tickets won playing Skee Ball and many other games.  Between the two buildings, there has got to be over a thousand different things you can win.  The Knoebel family prides themselves on not wasting anything.  It's a principle that I admire and respect, and it sometimes results in finding a prize in the arcade that has been sitting there since my childhood.  Such was the case for these.

Topps Heads Up! Baseball Stars are a unique series that I believe were only issued in 1990.  It's a series of 24 player heads, each of which have a suction cup and double sided tape so that kids can hang them wherever they want.  Each head is about six inches tall by four and a half inches wide.

When I mentioned to the woman at the counter that these had been at Knoebels since I was nine years old, she shrugged and said that no one ever wanted them before.  They were only 50 tickets per package - not much higher than the bouncy balls and mini-Slinky toys, so after about a half hour of Pokerino, we had enough tickets to bring home six out of the seven that they had (and the box they came in).  I could have gotten the seventh one too, but I figured that if it's been sitting in their prize window for the past 28 years, it's become part of the ambiance of the Roaring Creek Arcade, so I left it behind to be discovered by someone else.
No Phillies in the set, but they found room for Craig Worthington?

Aug 24, 2018

Clearly Refreshing


Crystal Pepsi is back again, presumably for a limited time.  I'm not sure why this didn't take off and become a regular item in the soda aisle.

Aug 23, 2018

Aug 22, 2018

Pasta MaƱana


Olive Garden: Never Ending Pasta Pass
In case anyone is interested in giving me an early Christmas present, this would put a great big smile on my face.  At 2:00 pm tomorrow, Olive Garden will be sending their Never Ending Pasta Pass.  For $300, you get unlimited pasta with one topping, soup or salad and breadsticks for a full year.

It's a $10.99 meal, so even if you only used the card once a week, you'd have eaten $300 worth of dinner by July.  I have a hunch I would be visiting the Olive Garden much more often.

Aug 21, 2018

Space Age Invaders


Space Invaders playing on an Atari 2600, hooked up to a Philips Discoverer space helmet television.  Though there were a lot of spherical and space age tv sets in the 70's, I was shocked to learn that this model was produced in 1991.  This photo was shared by Mark Howlett on AtariAge.

Aug 20, 2018

Mariachi Moon


Duck Tales (NES)
The Moon mariachi cover
Performed by Mariachi Entertainment System
A mariachi band covers iconic video game music.  They have a lot of incredible work on their YouTube channel, but this one is my favorite.

Aug 19, 2018

Malls Across America


Malls Across America (1989)
Photo by Michael Galinsky
This is one of the photos that appears in the photography book "Malls Across America".  It was taken in 1989 and it perfectly captures the essence of a mall music store in the late 80's.  It reminds me a lot of the Camelot store that we had in the Laurel Mall.  I love the wall of cassette tapes and the long box CDs when the medium was still new.  Also, $3.99 is a pretty good price for Madonna on vinyl even for 1989.

Aug 18, 2018

Tomy Turbo Outrun


Tomy Racing Turbo
Outrun Modification
Matt Brailsford used a Raspberry Pi to convert an old Tomy Turbo Racing toy to a portable Sega Outrun game.  Pretty awesome work!  More info about this project can be found on his website: Circuitbeard.co.uk.

Aug 17, 2018

Rest In Pac


Pac Man Tombstone
I love retro gaming, but I don't know if I love it as much as Michael Leroy Luther.  Photo credit to papaduck34 via RetroBitch (left) and Omar of ohmz.net.

Aug 16, 2018

Bored Panda Comics


Don't They Know It's The End Of The World
Written by Ehud Lavski
Illustrated by Yael Nathanine
Excellent artwork and brilliant stories.  Check out their work on Bored Panda.  You can also get their digital book on Gumroad.

Aug 15, 2018

Hello Yellow


Neon Yellow Joy-Con
Nintendo Switch
These cards were on display at a local Wal-Mart store.  When I brought one to the register, I was told that the yellow ones were never delivered to the store.  The associate allowed me to take the card to help me find or order it at another store.  I've since learned that the yellow controller was discontinued shortly after it was released, but I managed to find a reasonably priced one on eBay.

Aug 14, 2018

Boardwalk Bootlegs


Muscle Warriors (Tung Sing Toys)
and MX-Space Robots (Acamas)

When I was a kid, the highlight of my year was our family vacation to Wildwood.  I got to spend three days with my dad and my grandparents riding the rides, playing the games, enjoying the ocean and the food and embracing all of the things that were great about childhood.

One of the things I looked forward to every year was going to the arcades on the Boardwalk.  Usually, I would see a dozen or more games for the first time, months before they came to my local Aladdin's Castle.  However, no matter what new game drew my attention, I always had some quarters set aside for Skee-Ball.  I loved playing the game, but I enjoyed saving up the tickets to redeem for prizes even more.

I snapped this photo in the summer of 1986.  Grandpa is holding two of the toys that I redeemed my Skee-Ball tickets for that year.  The action figure on the left is a knockoff He-Man/viking hybrid from a series of action figures called Muscle Warriors.  The toy on the right is one of the MX-Space Robots figures.  These were the bootleg toys that kids really didn't seem to want, but I enjoyed them very much and they got played with right alongside the "real" toys from KayBee Toys.

The irony is that while these toys were cheap prize ticket items that probably sold for a dollar or less in the 80's, the loose figures from these lines frequently sell for over $50 each on eBay, and unopened figures are even more expensive.  At the time of this writing, the "Hulk" toy on the left was included in a lot of others from the series for over $200.  The figure on the right, which is apparently called "Colonel Stan", was available loose, and in poor condition, for $65.  You can learn more about these, and other loved bootleg toys from the past at Knock-off Collector.

Aug 13, 2018

Vintage Games and Prizes


Horse Racing Game
Wildwood, NJ - August, 1986
I took this photo when I was six years old.  It's one of those games where players roll balls or something like that to make the horses run.  The player whose horse got to the end of the track won a prize.  The prizes that are in this photo include a stuffed alligator, a stuffed hippopotamus, and framed posters of Hulk Hogan and the Philadelphia 76ers.

One thing I didn't notice about this photo until today is that you can see my Grandpa's reflection in the glass of the game.  If you look at the bottom left hand corner, you can see him looking to the left on the far right hand side of the red rectangle.

Aug 12, 2018

A Tropical Remix


Sprite Mix - Tropic Berry
McDonalds (2018)
Every so often, Sprite comes out with a "remix" flavor.  The latest of these is exclusive to McDonalds fountain drinks.  It's a blend of Sprite with strawberry, orange and pineapple flavors, and it's pretty good.  I'd like to see it come out in the grocery store.

Aug 11, 2018

Ignore the Cowlick


Beach Rest Motel
Wildwood, NJ - August, 1985
You'd never know it by the look on my face, but Wildwood was my favorite place in the world when I was a kid.  In all likelihood, my grandpa took this photo right after we arrived, after we rode in a hot car for over three hours to get here.

The picture was taken right near the stairs and outside the pool at our motel.  I'm wearing my He-Man t-shirt and ready to take on the world!

Aug 10, 2018

Back To The Conventions


Back To The Future cast reunion
Boston Fan Expo (2018)
This photo was shared by Lea Thompson on Instagram.  Tom Wilson has gone from looking like Donald Trump in Back To The Future 2 to Bill Clinton in 2018.

Aug 9, 2018

The Cola Car


Pepsi Van
1978 Ford Transit
In the late 70's, Ford of Britain partnered with Pepsi to turn the back of their Ford Transit van into a giant can of soda (source: History Lovers Club).

Aug 8, 2018

Taste The Ooze


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Bar In A Shell
Cherry Flavored Water Ice - Merritt Foods (1990)
I bought this sticker for a buck at a flea market.  It's a decal that was used on the freezer door at grocery stores to promote a TMNT branded frozen dessert back in 1990 at the height of the Ninja Turtle craze.

I've had plenty of Turtle-branded snacks when I was a kid (the Hostess Pies were my favorite), but I don't think I ever had this one.  I'm sure I would have enjoyed it, but if my family let me pick a frozen treat at the grocery store, I was going for ice cream, not Italian Ice.

Source: The Sewer Den
These frozen desserts were a cherry red Italian Ice product with a thin green shell.  I don't see a mention of any other flavor on the box, so I can only assume that the shell is also cherry flavored.  In addition to the turtle green shell, the product had a lot of other fun goodies going for it.  The back of the box had a sign that could be cut out and hung onto a doorknob, and each stick was embossed with an "autograph" from either Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo or Raphael.

Autographed collectible sticks must have been a trend in the ice cream industry in 1990.  The TMNT Bar In A Shell products were manufactured by Merritt Foods - the makers of the Bomb Pop.  In the same year, rival frozen dessert producer Good Humor sold a line of Big League Baseball Ice Cream Bars, which featured a series of 26 bat shaped sticks that featured the embossed autograph of a player.  The main difference between the two is the placement of the autograph. The TMNT bars feature the autograph at the bottom of the stick whereas the autograph on the baseball sticks were hidden by the ice cream, so you didn't know which player you got until you finished eating.

Big League Baseball Stick #12 - the Phillies own "5 for 1" - Von Hayes
I'm not sure how long these were produced, but I would guess that they were available for about two years.  Instagram user TMNTOhio84 has several photos from this product, including a different cooler decal than the one I found.  This variation has a "Taste The Ooze" bubble added to the center, which leads me to believe that it may have been produced in 1991 in conjunction with the theatrical release of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of The Ooze.

Source: Instagram - TMNTOhio84 - Check out their page for hundreds of photos of TMNT packaging and collectibles.

Source: The Tennessean (June 27th, 1990)

Aug 7, 2018

Living In The Mall


Westminster Arcade
Providence, Rhode Island
If you've ever watched Dawn Of The Dead or Night Of The Comet, you might have thought about what it would be like to live in a mall.  If that sounds like your kind of thing and you don't feel like going through a troublesome zombie apocalypse to get there, all you need is to take a road trip to Rhode Island with about $800.  That's the cost of the cheapest apartment at Westminster Arcade.


This is the oldest indoor shopping mall in the United States.  It was built in 1828 and has been a retail outlet for over 150 years.  It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976, and underwent renovations in 2008 to turn the top two floors into micro apartments.  According to Business Insider, they range from 225 to 775 square feet, and they cost between $800 to $1,800 a month to rent.


The apartments are very small and are designed with single, active people in mind.  Their kitchens don't have an oven, but the first floor is still a fully functioning mall complete with stores, coffee shops and restaurants, so dinner is never far from your front door.


I've been to a lot of malls that have had a beautiful atmosphere with skylights, lamps, benches, plants, fountains, and a very relaxed and pleasant vibe.  Even the faint background music is enjoyable if you can set aside the Muzak cynicism.  However, in the modern world with online shopping squeezing out the brick and mortar stores, most of them have a hard time keeping their doors open and filling their storefronts with tenants.

Instead of tearing these places down, it would be awesome if they could be turned into little communities, where you could take a walk down even during a snowstorm.  It could be a place where you could leave your apartment and walk down to the corner to meet with friends at a coffee shop, or to a movie at an anchor store without ever really leaving home.  With the size of some of these dying malls and the empty stores inside, it wouldn't be too hard to convert them into nice homes with a shared private "main street" that was once the hallways of a shopping mall.  Businesses like restaurants, pizza parlors, laundromats, arcades, drug stores, theaters, and even doctors offices could remain open to the general public through external entrances, but also have a steady source of income from residents for whom these businesses would be very convenient and a part of their neighborhood.  They could even remodel the external areas of the mall to give the homes a front porch and plant some grass to make a yard, with a back porch inside the mall.  The parking lots are pretty big, so it wouldn't take much to build a playground and a park with plenty of room remaining for cars.

Maybe this all sounds like a lame idea, but I think it could be pretty great.  I'm glad to see that something like that is keeping the oldest mall in America alive (photo sources: Business Insider, Bored Panda and Pop Sugar).

Aug 6, 2018

What If The Power Pellets Are Really Smurfberries?


If you ever want to feel like you've fallen into a time warp on the Wildwood boardwalk, scroll through the old stock of t-shirt transfer sheets for sale at eBay.

Aug 2, 2018

Fievel Goes To Hollywood


Universal Studios: Hollywood Movie Magic game piece
West Coast Video (1992)
This game piece was discovered in a box of random ephemera that was being sold at the flea market.  I think I paid a dime for it.  It was part of a contest that was being held by West Coast Video in the early 90's.  If you collected all five game pieces, you would win a trip to Universal Studios Hollywood in California.  This game piece features Fievel and represents the park attraction that's themed around An American Tail.  Evidently, this game piece was also an instant winner of a Level #5 prize.  I haven't been able to find any information on about this contest, so I guess it could have been anything from a free movie rental to a trip to Hollywood.  These days, it's not good for much other than a small piece of video rental nostalgia from the 90's.  The West Coast Video chain went out of business in 2009.


I don't remember this particular game, and although I enjoyed the first American Tail film, it's not among my favorites.  I still haven't seen any of the sequels.  I mostly picked this up because it was from West Coast Video.  These days, there's a lot of nostalgia for Blockbuster Video, but they weren't the only game in town back in the 80's and 90's.  Hazleton is not a big city and there were at least 20 different places to rent movies within a few miles of my house.  When you count all of the mini marts and grocery stores that rented tapes, it's was probably closer to 30.  Among these were two or three West Coast Video locations.  They were less expensive than Blockbuster, and they frequently had coupons in the paper, so Grandpa naturally wanted to go there any time we went out to rent a movie.  I remember when the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles move came out on VHS, I was insistent that Blockbuster was the only place in town that would have it.  Grandpa said that we should check out West Coast Video first.  I protested for the whole drive there that I was sure they wouldn't have it.  I have no idea why - maybe I saw a commercial or something.  When we walked into the West Coast Video at the Church Hill Mall, there was a display right near the door with at least 20 copies of TMNT available to rent.  Grandpa laughed his butt off and spent the next few weeks busting my chops about how sure I was that they'd never, ever have it in stock.

Aug 1, 2018

Good Thing They Put Up A Sign


Country Junction
Mundy Street - Wilkes-Barre, PA
Last month, an EF2 tornado tore through Mundy Street in Wilkes-Barre.  This was one of the businesses that were destroyed.