Jan 30, 2012

Mail Order Monday - Jet Rocket Set (1956)

This particular toy was offered by Honor House, a big name in the comic ad mail order business.
Although this 1956 ad mentions this is a new scientific toy, the "science rocket" has stood the test of time and is still being made today. I can vividly remember one of these rockets I had which had a red plastic dome and white lower body to it. The white plastic was opaque and made the fins a little more bendy. I'm guessing in the early models that were made from translucent red plastic the fins were not so bendy and probably broke on hard landings..

For those not familiar with this toy, you fill the rocket to a line with water. You then attach a small hand pump to the base of the rocket, latch it in place and pump it full of air. Now I'm pretty sure the actual instructions gave some kind of advisory as to how much air you should pump in to it but we always pumped it until there was so much air inside that we couldn't work the pump anymore (ie: maximum thrust mode). Aim up at the sky (very important!) and release the latch holding the rocket in place.

Actual mail order rocket still in original box (year unknown)
What happens next is pure science, but I don't know the actual words behind it. Suffice it to say that water + air pressure + forced point of release = launching rocket. Like any flying toy, these would sometimes end up on the roof, yours or your neighbors! There is also a good chance of getting sprayed by the "rocket fuel" as it launches which makes this a good summer toy.

You can make one of these at home, presuming you have a hand-held air pump.

Jan 27, 2012

Friday Funnies - Science Fiction Headgear

Today's Funnies come courtesy of Space Adventures from Charlton Comics and we're checking out some funky sci-fi headgear! I don't recall if both images are from the same comic but I do know the first one is from 1952.

I thought this was pretty cool because it reminds me of the original Tron helmets.

This next one...I'm starting to wonder if this is the reason behind why every plastic bag says on it "this is not a toy." Seriously? I'm no comic artist but wouldn't it have been easier to draw the usual 50s style bubble space helmet than something that looks like it came from the local cleaners? You're either going to black out from wearing a plastic bag on your head or not have a sufficient enough vac-seal to keep the bad air out.

DISCLAIMER: Do NOT use plastic bags as space helmets.

Jan 25, 2012

Doctor Shrinker!

From Famous Monsters of Filmland #135, 1977
Inspired by Monsterfink's recent post on Sid and Marty Krofft's Bigfoot and Wildboy, today I bring you another 70s Saturday morning show: Doctor Shrinker! I say inspired by but I was having trouble coming up with something to post about today and I can always find something to talk about from childhood. One of the great things about episodic TV is that everything you needed to know was given to you in the show's intro...

Ok, almost everything. Why were three kids flying in such bad weather? Why did Shrinker shrink them? He had to test his new device on someone. That's why he's desperate to get them back, so he has living proof and can sell his weapon to the highest bidder.

Two of the kids are brother and sister, Gordie and BJ respectively. You read that right, the girl's name is BJ. Gordie is the less svelte of the two guys. It was the 70s, of course the two "good looking" kids wouldn't be related and the heavier guy would be the brother/comic relief.

As far back as I can remember I've always enjoyed horror/scifi that involves something being larger than normal (Them!, Tarantula, Attack of the 50ft Woman) or smaller than normal (The Incredible Shrinking Man) and it may have all started with Doctor Shrinker. I don't think I started watching Creature Double Feature for another year or two, so it's possible!

I don't remember a whole lot about the show itself other than Shrinker trying to catch the kids, the kids trying to find a way to get back to normal to escape the island and encountering now-giant sized things.

Sadly I think only one episode of the show has made it to DVD in a Krofft compilation.

Jan 23, 2012

Mail Order Monday - Star Wars Stationary

Click to enlarge
I found this ad thanks to Gilligan, webmaster over at Retrospace, which is a great portal into our past. He recently posted a couple of magazine scans, one of which was a random scifi zine called Space Wars from December 1978.

This is typical of the strange non-licensed stuff you'd find in the back pages of magazines at the time. The knockoff merchandise has always interested me as a collector. It'd be cool to see what these items looked like from a time before home computers were common and people still used stationary for letter writing. Very curious to see what the Stormtrooper and Jedi Knight diplomas looked like.

Jan 20, 2012

Friday Funnies - Wacky Aliens

Today you get not one, but three panels of wacky alien antics.

Did people still believe there was a permanent dark side of the moon in the 50's?
Ahhh, the 50's...

If you've ever seen Japanese anime (hentai), you know where this is going...
If you haven't, you have only yourself to blame if you Google it.

Make your own caption. It's probably funnier than anything I've got.

Jan 13, 2012

Friday Funnies - Jet Dream

Take Pussy Galore's all female Flying Circus from Bond's Goldfinger and add a bit of Charlie's Angels (the original) and you've got Jet Dream and Her Stunt Girl Counterspies. Whew, what a mouthful! I guess people hadn't gone acronym crazy in the late 60s yet.

Jet and her gals first appeared as a backup story in an issue of The Man from U.N.C.L.E (Hey Jet, that's how you make a creative team name that rolls off the tongue!) and were then spun off into their one and only comic.

Jet's international team consisted of
  • Jet, (the good ol US of A) "the leader"
  • Petite, (France) "quick as a whippet"
  • Marlene (Germany) "powerful as a wrestler"
  • Ting-a-Ling (Fiji) "instincts of a panther... but naive and innocent as a lamb" 
  • Cookie Jarr (possibly Norway or Sweden) "when the action is over, she's an alluring charmer"

Jet Dream's HQ: No-Man's Land
Any one of these girls would likely give Bond a run for his money. Each one is an expert pilot/driver, well trained in martial arts and uses an array of girlish spy gadgets.

It's a really fun read but unfortunately for Jet, the book was not a success and this was her only full length story.

Jan 11, 2012

DVD Review - Black Sheep

Hover over for more info
This past holiday season I participated in an online Secret Santa for movie lovers. The always entertaining folks at Now Playing podcast arranged everything through their forums. You sign up, tell them what kind of movies you might want to get and your name is handed over to another random member. I was lucky enough to be the Santa for someone that likes Stallone and stuff blowing up, so I sent her Deathrace 2000. Mainly because I upgraded to a BluRay recently, but if this isn't designed for unloading movies to other people, I don't know what is!

Anyway, to get more on track...I submitted that I love scifi/horror and usually the cheesier the better. My Santa sent me two movies! This one and another called Automaton Transfusion, a zombie flick I haven't watched yet.

Being a little film from New Zealand, it's no surprise I hadn't heard of Black Sheep in the few years since it was originally released. Thankfully, it falls in the "spaltstick" genre. I don't know how else you could do a movie about killer sheep and not have it be a comedy too! It's sort of like a zombie movie. Except it's on a rural New Zealand farm instead of in a city, there's genetically altered, carnivorous sheep instead of zombies and if you get bit by a sheep, and not totally eaten, you come back as a weresheep beast.

The movie is a lot of fun and isn't at all shy about letting the blood fly. This is my first encounter with the Dimension Extreme branding and I'm wondering if it's to indicate the level of gooey-ness. For something that feels like a small indie horror film, the effects are outstanding (more on that later). While there are obvious scenes where my brain knows they're not using live animals, my eyes can't tell. Another thing that makes this movie great is they don't rely on CGI. Call me old fashioned but there is a much better feel when using practical effects.

There is a 30 minute behind the scenes documentary which focuses on the gore and creature effects work. It's surprisingly done by WETA Workshop, which explains why everything looks so good. Dave Ensley, who won a NZ film award for Achievement in Make-Up Design here, also worked on Revenge of the Sith (Oscar nod) and The Wolfman (Oscar win w/ Rick Baker).

There is a bonus scene about a minute long that was shot exclusively for the DVD release which is out of movie continuity but still good for a chuckle. The disc also includes a trailer, some deleted scenes (nothing note-worthy) and a commentary, which I didn't listen to. I don't often listen to them unless it's an extra special  movie.

The movie gets a 8/10 and if you've never seen carnivorous sheep on the rampage, you really should! For around the cost of a movie ticket, you can pick up the DVD. If you're still not sold, check out the trailer.

Jan 9, 2012

Mail Order Monday - Inflatable Doll (1970)

Click for larger view
Hey, this is an ad from a comic book, it's not that kind of doll!

But it does make you wonder what the marketing people were thinking placing a mail order ad for an inflatable doll in a comic book. I don't recall the particular book this ad came from but I know the books I cull from are horror or sci-fi comics which I would presume were mainly read by young teenage boys.

There is a multitude of creep going on in this ad...
  • The ad is written in first person as if the doll is talking to you
  • She tells you that you can take her to a wedding, party or swimming (she floats!)
  • "You're bound to find hundreds of exciting and unusual uses for me."
  • The suggestion to give an inflatable doll to your daughter...Why, that would make her the talk of the town.
  • For an extra $7 you can get her with a bikini, pajamas and a blond or brunette wig (no redhead?)
  • Most creepy: If not 100% satisfied after 10 days, you can get your money back. What did they do with the returned dolls??
If you haven't seen the below horror movie, track it down.
It's a heart-warming tale of a man and his life-like doll.

Win an iPad2 from Rafflecopter

You may have heard of Rafflecopter. It's a new free app that makes running and entering contests a breeze. Starting today, and going for the next 30 days, they're having a contest. The prizes include a 16GB iPad 2 with Wi-Fi and a Kindle Fire.

Click on to enter!

Jan 7, 2012

Happy 100th, Charles Addams!

What a wonderful surprise to wake up to this morning! The Google Doodle today is honoring the 100th birthday of cartoonist Charles Addams, creator of my favorite TV family.
Google Doodle Jan. 7, 2012
While mostly remembered as the creator of the Addams Family, Chas also had a number of his illustrations printed in The New Yorker. He always had a dark sense of humor and delighted in the macabre. One of his early jobs was working for True Detective magazine where he was hired to retouch corpses in crime scene photos to remove the blood from them. He thought they looked much more interesting the way they were! In addition to his delightful sense of humor, Addams was also a collector of medieval arms and armor having a particular fascination with the crossbow.
Charles Addams
It's a rare occasion in life when you discover an artist that you really connect with, someone whose work you look at and think that they would be someone who "gets you." So I am more than honored to add this post to all those celebrating what would have been Charles Addams' 100th birthday.

Even though it's his birthday, here's a little something for you!
From Famous Monsters of Filmland #145, 1978

Jan 6, 2012

Friday Funnies - Stinky Kisser

Hey, what do you know? It's the first Friday Funny of 2012.
Okay lady, you killed your husband and now he's risen from the grave as some kind of zombie abomination and he wants to eat you.
No problem...
But you're offended by the way he smells? Not his skin color, not the fact that he's a zombie trying to eat you?
I can't imagine how much dirt he must have tracked in the house!
Who's going to clean up that mess?

Hey kids! There's still time left to enter to win some sweet Spookshow Poster art trading cards!

Jan 2, 2012

Monsterwax Spookshow Cards & Giveaway

I don't remember how I first heard about the Spook Show poster trading cards from Monsterwax but I do remember ordering them as soon as I found out about them.

Spook Shows are something that have fascinated me for many years. The closest I got was a showing of Monsters Crash the Pajama Party where they had "monsters" come out of the screen, run around the theater and grab a girl out of the audience and run off with her. They also handed out Faint Checks and had a lovely girl dressed as a nurse (a classy 50s style nurse, not a Halloween slutty nurse) "just in case."

If you're not familiar with what a Spook Show is, here's the copy from the Monsterwax site:

Ghosts! Monsters! And macabre magic! They were all part of the traveling Spook Shows.

During the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, daring magicians opened movie theaters at midnight with the express purpose of "scaring the yell" out of their audience. For a $1 or less, thrill seekers witnessed black magic, gruesome illusions, and the "black out"-- when glowing spirits flew overhead and the crowds ducked in terror. Then the horror flick would begin... assuming the entire audience hadn't already fled the theater in panic!

If you were among the millions who experienced this incredible fright of fancy (and especially if you didn't), then you won't want to miss the sheer horror of Spook Show-- a new series from Monsterwax.

Box bottom.
Only 500 boxes made, each is numbered in the bottom right corner.

Read on to win some Spookshow cards...if you dare!