Nov 28, 2022

When It's Time, You'll Smell It

Bones And All
MGM Pictures (2022)
This is an incredible movie and one of the most interesting love story that I've watched in a long time.  I'm about the furthest thing from a film expert as you're ever going to find at a movie theater, but it wouldn't surprise me too much to see this movie being discussed during awards season.  

The story is set in the late 80's and it follows an 18 year old girl named Maren who has a genetic condition that causes her to commit cannibalism.  The movie does a good job by not bogging down the script by trying to explain this condition.  We are only given hints along with the film's protagonist as she discovers who she is and where she came from throughout the film.  She discovers others who are like herself, including an old man named Sully who sees himself as her mentor, and a boy who is about her age named Lee who she falls in love with.  Their romance reminded me of Mickey and Mallory Knox from Natural Born Killers, but despite the brutality of their actions, Maren and Lee are far more level-headed.  The movie makes you fear them and fear for them, while at the same time inspiring you to root for them to find happiness.

I don't want to say too much more so I don't risk spoiling anything, but if you're not overly squeamish, I highly recommend Bones And All.

Nov 27, 2022

The Greatest Adventure Is What Lies Ahead

The Hobbit
Rankin Bass Productions (1977)
My introduction to the worlds of JRR Tolkien came by way of an animated film that premiered on television 45 years ago today.  It played on various networks sporadically in the years that followed, and I ended up seeing it sometime in the late 80's.

TV Guide (November 19, 1977)

Nov 26, 2022

Fly Away, Tweety Bird

A billionaire purchased Twitter a few weeks ago, and it's looking more likely every day that he's going to run it into the ground.  Whether this is by accident or by design is debatable, but whichever the case, it seems like an awfully silly way to waste $40 billion dollars.  Hell, if I ever have one billion dollars, you could just go ahead and call me Neon Rockingchair, because I'd kick back and wouldn't do a single thing that resembled work for as long as I live.

I signed up for a Twitter account in 2009.  My first impression was that it was pretty much just the status update feature from MySpace or Facebook, but limited to 140 characters and with every other feature removed, so I really didn't know what to do with it.  I tried though.  Here is the first thought that I just had to share with the world on this new and exciting platform.

The first one is from March 25th, 2009.  I went back to college in my mid 20's and was in the second semester of my sophomore year.  It was posted at 11:02 am, so I'm guessing that I was killing time on my laptop waiting for my Biology professor to show up, and I decided that it was vitally important to announce my location, and the fact that I had a Physical Fitness class coming up next.  I still can't believe they make you take a gym in college.

Two days later, I used my second tweet to announce to the Twitterverse that I had tickets to see Lewis Black perform at the Kirby Center that night.  I then decided that this Twitter thing wasn't for me and promptly forgot that I had even signed up for it for the next seven years.

In 2016, I logged back in to learn more about the upcoming release of the NES Classic, and it was around that time that it occurred to me that this could be a halfway decent platform to keep up with news about the things that I enjoy: new movie releases, announcements of concert tour dates, upcoming video games, and the release of other random products and services that I might want to know about.  I still hadn't really gotten the knack of this thing as a communication tool, but I could re-tweet things so that I wouldn't forget about them.

I spent the rest of my time on Twitter that year re-tweeting life hacks and memorials to people who had passed away, and getting into the occasional debate over baseball or politics that I would almost immediately regret participating in.  It wasn't until The Last Drive-In in 2018 that I finally figured out how to use Twitter as a place to enjoy the company of a fun community of people.

Airings of The Last Drive-In on Shudder have become a community event, with members of the #MutantFam sharing their reactions to the movie that we're watching with Joe Bob, Darcy and each other.  It's a lot of fun, but I backed away from it after a while because keeping up with the conversation on Twitter often caused me to miss parts of the movie.  I kept in touch with some of the folks who I met through the show, but Twitter mostly just became a place to put photos from concerts and ballgames, and from a little place in Lehighton that has become my home away from home.

If you thought I was a paid shill for the Mahoning Drive-In Theater, I would completely understand how you came to that conclusion, but you'd be incorrect.  I don't work there.  They don't pay me.  Hell, I'm not even a volunteer unless you count picking up garbage that I come across while I'm walking Harvey around the lot.  It's just a place that I love and spend a great deal of my free time at during the summer, so it ends up being a large part of what I post.  The Phillies making it to their first World Series since the year I created this Twitter account have been another thing that I've enjoyed tweeting about.

Despite its positives, I find that I spend as much time blocking obnoxious politics and bots promoting OnlyFans pages that I do on the things that I enjoy.  In a world where there are more hours of streaming movies and music than I could ever experience in a single lifetime, the platform has mostly become a waste of time.

I think Drago perfectly captures my feelings on what people are calling the inevitable death of Twitter.

That being said, if GeoCities or MySpace ever make a comeback, sign me up!

Nov 25, 2022

You'll Never Make The Six

Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Paramount Pictures (1987)
My favorite movie to watch this time of year is the 1987 John Hughes comedy: Planes, Trains And Automobiles.  The Thanksgiving classic, which stars Steve Martin and John Candy, premiered in theaters 35 years ago today.

For as much as I love movies, I never got on board with Blu-Ray.  By the time the format was released, I had amassed a ridiculously large collection of movies on VHS and DVD, and I didn't have the money, shelf space or desire to start over from square one just for the sake of better picture quality.  However, I may need to go ahead and pick up my first high definition home video with the most recent release of this movie.

The deleted scenes from Planes, Trains And Automobiles have been sought after for many years.  The runtime of the theatrical cut of this film is 92 minutes, but the first cut of the film clocked in at a whopping 3 hours and 45 minutes.  A couple of minutes worth of deleted and extended scenes have trickled out in the years since this movie first appeared on home video, but the bulk of this content has never been seen and was thought to have been lost.  This 4K Ultra HD release of the film which hit store shelves earlier this week includes a second disc with 75 minutes of material that was left on the cutting room floor.  It's probably the closest thing to a remastered directors cut that we're ever going to see.

Nov 24, 2022

Turkey Day

Little Harvey, before and after he was told that he's going to have some turkey at dinner tonight.

From my family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!

Nov 23, 2022

Voll Schpaas

Raymond The Amish Comic
Cinema & Drafthouse - West Hazleton, PA
It's become a tradition for our family to get together to see Raymond The Amish Comic perform at the Cinema & Drafthouse on the night before Thanksgiving.

We got to see his Thanksgiving Eve show at the Cinema & Drafthouse in 2019 and 2021 (there was no show in 2020 due to the pandemic).  Angie and I also bumped into him earlier this year at the drive-in, and I'm glad to say that in addition to being very funny and talented, he's also an incredibly nice dude

Despite the fact that the sound system at the venue wasn't cooperating with him at first, it was a great show as always.

Nov 22, 2022

Another Italian Thanksgiving

Priano Pumpkin and Sage Ravioli
Aldi (2022)
This time last year, I tried Turkey Cranberry and Bourbon Sweet Potato Ravioli from Aldi.  The Turkey Cranberry ones were back, but the sweet potato ones were replaced by an even better Thanksgiving ravioli this year.

The package suggests that these ravioli be served with an amaretto butter sauce with a sprinkle of cinnamon.  Well... I had the cinnamon, but the closest I could come to a butter sauce that would go with these was Land O'Lakes Pumpkin Pie Spice Butter Spread.  I melted some of it to pour on top before adding the cinnamon, and it didn't come out half bad.  Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in a while.

Nov 21, 2022

The Return Of The Death Egg

Sega Visions Magazine
Volume 1 Issue 9 (August / September 1992)
The cover story from this issue of Sega Visions was just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the amount of marketing in the months leading up to the release of Sonic The Hedgehog 2.  The iconic sequel is turning 30 years old today.  It has been re-released and remastered well over a dozen times since its initial release on the Sega Genesis, and it remains as fun today as it was the first time that I played it when I was 12 years old.

This issue of Sega Visions is available to download and read on, and it's a fun read if you want to experience the hype that had every Sega gamer on the edge of their seats back in the early 90's.

Nov 20, 2022

Have You Had Enough Pain?

Home Alone 2: Lost In New York
20th Century Fox (1992)
While I loved Home Alone as a child and still love it today, I can't really say the same thing about Home Alone 2: Lost In New York, which is turning 30 years old today.  I didn't see it in theaters when it was first released, and I didn't rent it when it came out on home video.  In fact, I'm pretty sure that I was in my mid 30's the first time I saw it, so what I'm about to say comes without any warm and fuzzy childhood nostalgia influence.

Home Alone 2 is not a horrible sequel like Airplane 2 or Caddyshack 2, but it's pretty clear that it only exists as an effort by the studio to strike while the iron was hot and squeeze as much money out of this property as they could.  It must not have been enough because they made four more Home Alone movies after this, and each of them make Lost In New York look like an Oscar candidate in comparison.

Despite this not being the most flattering review of a movie ever written, there is still some fun to be had watching Home Alone 2 during the holiday season.  It's not a must-see film by any means, but there's enough here to categorize it as "so bad it's good".  It tells pretty much the same jokes as the first film in a different setting, but it's still better than most of the made-for-tv Christmas movies that get paraded out on cable tv every year if you're looking for some festive background noise.

Nov 19, 2022

Retro Rabbit Inception

1001 Rabbit Tales
Warner Bros (1982)
The movie that identifies itself as "Bugs Bunny's 3rd Movie" was released to theaters in the United States forty years ago today.  It's actually the fourth theatrical movie featuring the iconic cartoon rabbit, coming after Bugs Bunny: Superstar (1975), The Bugs Bunny / Road Runner Movie (1979), and The Looney Looney Looney Bugs Bunny Movie (1981).

The San Francisco Examiner (November 19, 1982)

The movie made up of just over a dozen Loony Tunes and Merry Melodies shorts from 1949 to 1963 which have been edited to fit into the new animation that serves as the narrative framework that takes you from one cartoon to the next.  The cartoons that were used to create this film include Cracked Quack, Apes Of Wrath, Wise Quackers, Ali Baba Bunny, Tweety And The Beanstalk, Bewitched BunnyGoldimouse And The Three Cats, A Sheep In The Deep, Red Riding HoodwinkedThe Pied Piper Of Guadalupe, Mexican Boarders, One Froggy Evening, and Aqua Duck.

I was only two years old when this was in theaters, but I got to see it on home video and on several occasions when it aired on television.  It's the kind of thing I would watch when I was coloring on the living room floor of my grandparents house when I was growing up.

This cover is from a VHS tape that I found at the Hometown Farmers Market a few years ago, and it still plays as good as ever.  It was also released on DVD in 2005 as a part of the Looney Tunes Movie Collection, and it's available to rent or buy through a number of streaming video providers.  There are a number of cuts and alternate audio dubs made to the shorts that were used to make up this film, so I wouldn't necessarily recommend it as the best way to watch these classic cartoons, but it's a pleasant snapshot of its time.  Watching it today is a retro experience of the early 80's to see how folks back then experienced their own retro entertainment from the 50's and 60's.  Woah... that's trippy Doc!

Nov 18, 2022

Chef Never Reveals His Recipes

The Menu
Searchlight Pictures (2022)
I'll write more about this movie after a few weeks so that I won't risk spoiling it for anybody.  For now, please take my advice: don't look up the plot, don't watch the trailer, don't read any reviews, and try not to talk about the movie with anyone who has.  Just go see The Menu as soon as you can.

Bon Appétit.

Nov 17, 2022

Wanted: McRib

McRib and Western Omelette McMuffin translite
McDonald's (1992)
I'm tempted to stop every time I drive past the McDonald's in front of the Laurel Mall and see the big red Limited Time McRib sign.  That Western McMuffin is looking pretty good right now too, but I'm about 30 years too late for that.

Nov 16, 2022

Enjoy A Nutter Butter With Mike Schmidt

Mike Schmidt grocery store display
Nabisco (1981)
I've always thought that contests like these would make for an interesting subject for a book.  It could include pictures of the promotional materials that were used, and possibly interviews with the winners about their experiences of receiving the prize or the celebrities that were involved.

Nov 15, 2022

The King Of The Ring

Macho King Randy Savage
M&D Balloons (1991)
Professional wrestling legend "Macho Man" Randy Savage was born 70 years ago today.  This party balloon is from the early 90's during his brief run as the "Macho King" in the World Wrestling Federation.

Nov 14, 2022

Salty Retro Munchies

Wavy Lays Potato Chips and Taco Flavored Doritos
Frito Lay (2022)
I've gotta say that I'm loving all of the 80's style packages that have been hitting store shelves over the past few years.  Frito Lay is the latest company to catch the retro bug with limited edition packages for several flavors of Lay's Chips and Doritos.

Nov 13, 2022

The Butcher Of Bakersfield

The Running Man
TriStar Pictures (1987)
By Fall 1987, Arnold Schwarzenegger had established himself as an action star and Stephen King had a reputation as one of the most successful writers of his generation who had multiple film adaptations of his work.  Those two worlds came together thirty-five years ago today when The Running Man premiered in theaters.

Both the book and the movie are among my favorites today, but I was pretty late to the party for both of them.  I've been a big fan of Stephen King since I was a teenager, but sitting down and reading a novel is challenging for me because I get distracted very easily.  For this reason, Audible has been an absolute godsend.  Between college and work, I've had a roughly 30 to 40 minute commute five days a week for about the past twenty years, and a lot of that time alone in the car has been spent checking off boxes in my bucket list of books that I've always wanted to read, but never could find the time.  The Running Man was one of those books.  It's been about ten years since I first experienced it and I would definitely put it in my top ten favorite works of Stephen King.

I don't know that I can say that I liked the book better than the movie, or vice versa for that matter, because they share almost nothing in common.  They each feature a character named Ben Richards who is trying to survive while others are trying to kill him for the entertainment of others, but that's where the similarities end.  Everything else, from the tone of the story, to the personality and motivations of the characters and the world that they live in, is completely different.  The two stories are coming from such a drastically different place that I really can't compare the two.

I was only vaguely aware that The Running Man existed as a motion picture when the lineup for the 2021 Drive-In Apocalypse weekend at the Mahoning Drive-In Theater was announced.  We had just discovered this drive-in a month earlier, and this was the first movie that I got to see here that I hadn't seen before.  If you want to know what 80's action movies are all about, this is one that you absolutely need to watch.  It's balls-to-the-wall from start to finish with Arnold Schwarzenegger delivering violence and hysterically cheesy one liners in equally massive numbers, and it features characters played by Family Feud host Richard Dawson, professional wrestlers Jesse "The Body" Ventura and "Professor" Toru Tanaka, and musicians Mick Fleetwood and Dweezil Zappa.

The movie didn't remind me of the book at all, but that's alright because it stands apart as its own incredible work.  If anything, it could have passed for the movie adaptation of Smash TV if the film hadn't predated the arcade game by three years.

If you've never watched this before and you're looking for something that you can pop a bowl of popcorn, turn off your brain and just get swept away in the absolute chaos on the screen, you could do a lot worse than The Running Man.  It's available to stream on Showtime and a few other places.

Nov 12, 2022

Mistaken Memories Of Mediaeval Manhattan

Mistaken Memories Of Mediaeval Manhattan
Brian Eno (1981)
Last night, I spent a few hours laying back on the sofa with the lights out watching a few hours of MTV that someone had recorded in 1982.  It's a nice way to relax and escape the world for a little while.  The recordings are uncut with the original commercials and VJ segments intact, so when I allow myself to get lost in the moment, it can really feel like I've been taken 40 years back in time.

During one of the segments between the music videos, the late great JJ Jackson had an update on some of the new albums, tours and projects that were on the horizon.  In this news update, Mr. Jackson mentioned a Brian Eno project that I hadn't heard of before.

Following the Brian Eno news, Mr. Jackson mentioned that The Beatles first session with producer George Martin took place 20 years ago tomorrow, which would mean that this recording is from June 5th, 1982.

He described the Brian Eno project as a forty minute video documenting 24 hours of the New York City skyline that's backed by music from his most recent album, which was called On Land.  He then chuckled at the idea that you would have to turn your television set on its side to watch it because the video was shot vertically instead of horizontally.  Today, we're accustomed to flipping our mobile phones depending on the orientation of the video that we're watching, but the reason that JJ Jackson finds this idea to be so ridiculous is the fact that a living room television in 1982 weighed about a hundred pounds and was usually set inside of a large wooden cabinet.  Nobody was flipping their tv on its side to watch anything.

The one thing he didn't mention was the name of this Brian Eno project, but it didn't take too long to figure it out.  It's called Mistaken Memories Of Mediaeval Manhattan.  Mr. Eno referred to this project, which was filmed in 1980 and 1981, as a Video Painting when it was shown at art exhibitions around the world.  He re-assembled the footage in 1987, and I was very happy to find that it has made its way to YouTube in recent years.  Click here if you want to watch the video as it was originally filmed.  Otherwise, click play below to view it with the screen rotated.

I tried to embed it without the black bars on the left and right, but I can't figure out how to make it work.  Sorry.

Nov 11, 2022

Flea Market Sunday: Part Two

Freeland Marketplace
Route 940 - Freeland, PA
This was our first time visiting this place and it didn't disappoint.  It's a lot bigger than it looks on the outside and most of the prices were pretty reasonable.  There's even a little deli inside in case you want to stop and have a soda and a sandwich while you're shopping.  We're definitely going to have to pay this place another visit in the future, but until then, here are some of the more interesting things that we found on Sunday.

There was a time in the mid 90's that we saw hundreds of unofficial versions of the Monopoly board game available for sale.  If anything, I'm underestimating because just in my little corner of NEPA, I saw different ones that were based on communities, churches, hobbies and colleges, and if a small city like Hazleton had their own, there must have been hundreds of different versions of this game in Pennsylvania alone.

I kind of wish I would have bought this, and I'm probably going to if its still there the next time we visit the Freeland Marketplace.

Voodoo Lounge was released in 1994 and is the 22nd studio album by The Rolling Stones.  I remember that I had this on CD a couple of years after it was released, but I'm not really sure how I got it because I know I didn't buy it.  It's an ok album... not bad by any means, but not really the kind of thing that I was into, then or now.  I wish that I liked the album more than I do, because this store display is amazing!  The light grey background is backlit, which gives it an eerie glow that is set off by the casino skeletons in the foreground.

When I saw the talking Steve Urkel doll that's hiding behind the model ship in the photo on the left, I thought it would make a good prop for an eccentric weirdo to carry around everywhere he or she goes so that they could make the thing talk at inappropriate moments (which would pretty much be any moment).

The pimp skeleton on the right was tempting, but the last thing I need right now is more holiday decorations.  There was a sports memorabilia store at the back of this room that's run by an awesome older gentleman who happens to also be a Phillies fan.  We were there the day after the World Series, so we talked for about a half hour on the things that went wrong for the Fightins and how they could improve going into the 2023 season.  While we were talking, he called over another older man to come over, and he pointed at me when he introduced me and said "this guy knows his baseball".  There are few compliments that I've received in my life that can measure up to that!

One of the more disturbing things I've seen in a while was a box filled with adult films and exercise videos (on VHS and Beta) in a box that has been labeled "Used Hard".  I bet they were, box guy.  Please excuse me while I bleach my eyes.

The little smiling potato who looks as if he's bending over for the Presto Tater Twister concerned me a bit, but this might have been aftershock from seeing the Used Hard box.  Just when I thought I was safe, I bumped into a homemade Grateful Dead fan doll with a cracked head.  Backing away now...

The Remco Shark is an interesting toy that I've never heard of before.  It's a car that runs on four D batteries, but it was sold in 1961, which is about five years before remote control cars were invented.  It was operated with a string that was attached to a control lever on the side of the car.

I don't know what this is called or how old it is, but it looks very familiar.  I think my dad had something like this when he was a kid and I inherited it when I was little.

Speaking of toys that I inherited from my dad, he had one of these electric football games.  My grandparents kept it in their attic, and they brought it down sometimes when I came over to visit.  It's pretty much just a big metal football field with a surface that vibrated in such a way as to cause the little magnetic players to move around the field.  I didn't understand how to play it when I was a kid, and I don't really understand it now.

I never had an electric pinball game, but I was always obsessed with these things when I was a kid.  When I was little, I used to draw up plans to build my own pinball machine out of tinfoil and soda cans and other junk.

Another thing I was obsessed with as a kid was robots.  One vendor had a stand with at least a dozen different toy robots, and these two looked especially familiar.  I could swear that I had the grey one on the right, or one that looked a lot like it.

The coolest thing here was a 1973 pinball machine from Gottlieb called High Hand.  It was covered in random merchandise, so I couldn't see to much of it let alone play a game of pinball on it, but I'm hoping that they have it plugged in and ready to play the next time we're here.  I've always loved pinball machines.  I can't imagine that I'll ever have enough space or cash to actually own one of these, but they can be a hell of a lot of fun, and I try to play as many of them as I can.

We did pick up a few things here and at the Warehouse Shoppes last weekend, but I'll write more about those later.

Nov 10, 2022

Flea Market Sunday: Part One

Warehouse Shoppes
Wyoming Ave - Exeter, PA
There were two flea markets in Northeast PA that we used to go when I was in college.  One was the Sixth Street Flea Market which has since closed down.  The other was the Warehouse Shoppes behind the Kurlancheek Furniture Store.  Kurlancheek have moved to Forty Fort, but the flea market in the back of the building is still there, and with their competition on Sixth Street out of commission, they're bigger today than they've ever been.  We've got a little more free time on the weekends since the drive-in closed down for the winter, so we decided to see what strange and unusual vintage goodies they have for sale.

If you'd like to relive the fun and excitement of Operation Desert Storm and you have an old Macintosh desktop laying around, the first vendor we stopped at has just the thing for you.  It may seem strange to have a commemorative Time Magazine CD-Rom for a military operation, but when you consider that there were several lines of trading cards that were sold in stores while the war was still ongoing, this was par for the course in the 90's.

These WCW Nitro Streetrods were originally sold in stores in 1999.  They're off-brand Hot Wheels in a fancy box that had a dubious "limited edition" banner.  Each car is designed to represent one of the wrestlers on the WCW roster.  I don't remember which cars were in the box on the bottom, but the one on top had cars for Disco Inferno and Brian Adams (better known as Crush in the WWF).

You can always count on finding at least one Atari 2600 console when you visit pretty much any flea market.  This one is from the third hardware revision in 1980 that reduced the number of front switches from six to four.  It looked to be in good shape, but I already have a working console.  I was tempted to ask if they'd sell the Quick Shot joystick by itself, but the vendor who runs this shop wasn't there and I really don't need it, so I passed on the opportunity.

Are you looking to upgrade your Windows 95 machine to Windows 98?  If so, this shop has just the thing you're looking for.  You can even keep the kids occupied during the installation process with an electronic race track (with optional twin peaks overpass) while you kick back with an ice cold fruit smoothie.

The VCR Co-Pilot is an interesting technological artifact from the mid 90's.  For those of you who weren't around during the glory days of VHS and have no idea what this thing is, here's what you need to know:  The DVR hadn't been invented yet, so if you wanted to record a show when you weren't home, you had to put in a blank tape and set the timer of your VCR.  It really wasn't that difficult to do this.  I managed to figure it out when I was seven years old and it wasn't much more complicated than setting the clock.  However, this was one of those things that people would complain about in the 80's and 90's as if this was the hardest challenge they've ever faced in their lives.  They'd either forget to turn the power off on the VCR when they were done (if you didn't, it wouldn't record), or they'd set the wrong channel or time, or the clock on their VCR was wrong so it recorded the wrong time, or some other simple user error, and as a result, the show that they wanted to watch did not record.  Naturally, it couldn't be their fault... the VCR must be broken.

Several options were developed over the years to help the technologically-challenged to set the VCR to record their favorite shows.  The most popular of these was called VCR Plus, which was a six digit code for each show that was published in TV Guide.  All you had to do with this is enter the code and your VCR would automatically record the show.  I'm not really sure how it worked, but you can find the algorithms online if you search for them.

Another solution was a third party device like the VCR Co-Pilot that you can see in this photo.  This was basically just a universal remote control with two large dials and an LCD clock.  To use this, you'd just have to set the clock on the remote, then turn the top dial to the time that you wanted to start the recording and the bottom dial to the time that you wanted it to stop, then position the remote control somewhere in front of your VCR, and it would send the same signal to the VCR that it would send if you were sitting with the remote in your hand and hit the record button.  Frankly, I think this is far more complicated than just setting the timer in your VCR, and it limits you to recording just one show.  Even the oldest VCRs had timers that let you record four different shows as long as those shows weren't on at the same time.  That might explain why there are so many new old stock devices like this that are still available.  If you search on Amazon or eBay, you can find a brand new one for sale at pretty much the same price they sold for in the 90's.

There are way too many toys here to go through each of them, but the Cox Remote Control Star Wars Landspeeder on the top shelf caught my eye.  They did a good job with the box because it looks like the kind of merchandise that was available in the late 70's after the release of the first film, but this is from 1998 and was in stores shortly after the theatrical release of the Special Edition versions of the original trilogy.

The photo on the right has a lot of pretty cool vintage toys that are still in their original packaging, including Hot Wheels and action figures from X-Men 2099, Final Fantasy VIII, and a few WWF Wrestling figures from the Attitude Era of the late 90's, including Jeff Jarrett and Sable

On the left, you can see the Hershey Bar mascot character from Hersheypark, but the thing that really got my attention from this photo is the large Crossfire board game that is standing next to it.  If you were a kid in the 90's and you hear the word "crossfire", there's a pretty good chance that a certain commercial will immediately come to mind.

If you lived in the United States during the 1990's, you have probably seen this commercial about a thousand times.  It aired for quite a few years.  I remember seeing it on television before I had even become a teenager, and it was still being aired when I graduated from high school.

I had always just assumed that Crossfire was from the 90's until I saw it at the flea market on Sunday, but it's quite a bit older than I thought. As it turns out, it was introduced by Ideal in 1971.  At some point, the rights to the board game were acquired by Milton Bradley, who redesigned and promoted the heck out of it.

This vendor had a bunch of Star Wars toys from the 80's and 90's.  My favorite of these was the Return Of The Jedi Battle At Sarlacc's Pit board game from 1983.  I never had this game and I never remember ever seeing it before, but it looks like the kind of game that I would have loved when I was a kid.

The big purple thing in the center of this photo was one of my favorite toys when I was a kid - Snake Mountain.  I can't even begin to guess the number of hours I spent playing with this thing!  It's the home base of Skeletor from the Masters Of The Universe toy line that was sold by Mattel in the mid 80's.  It was so damn cool!  When you opened it up and put together all of the pieces, it had bridges, ladders, a big net to capture the good guys, and chains and shackles that you could use to keep them prisoner.  Best of all though was the big snake microphone that made your voice echo like a demon when you spoke into it.  You can see the top of this microphone in the picture above.  It's the little grey snake head above and diagonally to the right of the large purple snake face.

This WCW Monday Nitro action figure of The Giant was produced in 1997 by a company called The Original San Francisco Toymakers.  I never had any of these toys, but I was a big fan of WCW in the late 90's and I always thought that this wrestler's run in the mid to late 90's was his most entertaining run.  He would go on to the WWF/E where he wrestled as The Big Show off an on for over twenty years, but it never felt like they knew what to do with him.  These days, he works as a commentator and part-time wrestler for AEW, and I'm always happy to watch a show that he's a part of.  He's very entertaining, and he seems like a genuinely good dude.

The Mummies Alive toy in the center is exactly the kind of thing that I would have loved when I was a kid.  This also came out in 1997, which is quite a few years after I stopped playing with action figures, but I would have been all over this if it was released ten years earlier.  The toy is based on a cartoon of the same name from the late 90's, but I can't say that I've ever seen it.

On the right is a bag of plastic Cowboys and Indians.  This was never a toy that I asked for when I was a kid, but I had a bunch of them that I inherited from the friends of my parents who cleaned out their attic and said "hey, do you think your son would like these?".  I played with them once in a while when I was a kid, but my imagination never really took me down the path that the creators of this toys intended.  It usually involved a lot of plastic dinosaurs that would eat the cowboys.

The Cabbage Patch Kid in the Dodgers uniform on the left looks a little like Steve Garvey.  They were selling it for a hundred bucks, which is actually a pretty good price compared to what they're selling for online, but this isn't for me (we've got a Phillies one at home 😅 ).

The CD Stomper on the right is a blast from the past.  When CD burners first became affordable, I went hog wild making mixtapes and making backup discs for comic books, magazines, video game strategy guides, funny pictures, and just about anything else that caught my interest and could be downloaded with a dial-up connection.  The one thing I could never get the hang of was putting a label on the disc.  I tried to at first, but an air bubble would usually get caught underneath.  The CD Stomper was meant to prevent that from happening, and I'm pretty sure that I had one at some point in the mid to late 90's.  Eventually, I learned that the glue from these labels could potentially be harmful to the disc, so I stopped using them altogether.

This little Christmas tin was another personal blast from the past.  My grandmother gave me one exactly like this when I was a kid.  There was a black candy inside that I guess was supposed to look like coal, but I'm not sure if it was sold that way or if it was an empty tin that she bought candy to put inside.  It's probably still in the attic with our Christmas decorations, which means if I do still have it, there's a good chance that I'll find it later this month.

There's nothing in particular here that gives me any sort of warm and fuzzy nostalgic feeling, but you can never have too many shrimp-based puns on a coffee cup in your life.

I was a big fan of the 1990 Dick Tracy movie.  I saw the movie in theaters with my grandfather and again last year at the drive-in.  I collected the Topps cards, and played the McDonalds game, and even had the t-shirt.  However, I never knew that they sold a Barbie sized doll of Madonna as Breathless Mahoney.  I didn't buy anything in any of these pictures, but this was the thing that came the closest to coming home with me.

I love quirky toys like this chunky police car with chat looks like a combination of a bazooka and a kaleidoscope mounded on the roof.  If there isn't already a coffee table book with photos of hundreds of things like this, there really should be.

Maybe it's just me, but that Cricket doll look like the kind of thing that could come to life and attack everyone in the house.  Also, if you said the words GoBots Thruster to me without showing me this toy, I would have had a much more disturbing mental picture.

Last but not least, there was a quarter machine filled with sticky hands toys.  I can't explain why, but I loved these damn things when I was a kid!  They'd usually get covered with dust and fuzz after about ten minutes, but it was ten minutes of pretending that you were Indiana Jones whipping everything in sight.