Mr. Nostalgia presents…”Into the Great Unknown”…

Posted on: November 20, 2013

Marvel Comics is known for so many things: great heroes, the best villains, excellent stories and daring ideas. Back in the 1980’s Marvel produced two licenses for George Lucas, a Star Wars comic and an Indiana Jones comic.  When the licenses ran out Star Wars and Indiana Jones were picked up by Dark Horse Comics and were published through them for many, many years

There was also one thing that Marvel Comics had even when these titles left them. A great comic book called What If? What If? was not your typical Marvel Comic.  It would take existing origins, or stories already told and ask the question What If? , which would then result in an extremely different take on ones origin or story.  Such title examples can be found in the following comics: What If? Spider-man had Never Become a Crime Fighter?, What If? The Hulk had the Brain of Bruce Banner, What If? The Alien Costume had Possessed Spider-man?, What If? The World Knew that Daredevil was Blind?, or What If? Spider-man’s Uncle Ben had lived?

During Dark Horse’s run on Star Wars they used to put out a comic called Star Wars Tales, a comic that would tell several stories in the issue, each one different.  Maybe they were too short to be a full comic, maybe they were stories that didn’t need to be told in their own title. Star Wars Tales would tell a Star Wars story from anywhere, any time in the Star Wars Universe.  The best story ever was in Star Wars Tales #19 with Han Solo on the cover.  It was released in 2004 and features a story in true Marvel Comics style that would have made a great What If? Star Wars story you never thought you would read.

The story? “Into the Great Unknown” written by Haden Blackman and art by Sean Murphy.

Like any good Star Wars story, this one begins with a caption box that reads, “A Long Time Ago, In A Galaxy, Far, Far away….”

The story starts off much like a scene right out of The Empire Strikes Back with the Millennium Falcon pursued by TIE Fighters and Star Destroyers. Chewbacca and Han are in serious trouble, and with their navi-computer acting erratic, they have to make a blind-jump into hyperspace without any coordinates to get away.

As another caption box reads, “No Longer Far, Far Away…” the Falcon comes out of light speed.  Han replies,” Well, the good news is that we didn’t smash into a star. The bad news is that I have no idea where we are…and we’re losing power.”

With the Falcon’s scanners not picking up any star port beacons and the planets around them showing no life form except for one, Han orders Chewie to, “Head toward that blue one.”

The Falcon begins to lose its rear repulsors and they head in towards the planet crashing through a forest of trees before finally crashing into a large one and stopping. Not knowing if the life forms on the planet are friendly or not, Han and Chewie go to try to find a settlement, blasters at the ready, just in case. With a passing comment Han says, “Great. This looks just like Endor.” As they walk on a fallen tree over a gorge, Han utters a common phrase in the Star Wars trilogy, “I have a bad feeling about this place.”

Not knowing they’re being watched by the planets natives, it’s as if on cue from Han’s words that an arrow flies threw the air and hits Han in the arm. Suddenly four natives rush at Chewbacca who stands poised ready for a fight. The native warriors attack with bow and arrows, spears and what looks like a tomahawk. Chewie has his crossbow and his Wookiee strength. As the warriors attack Chewbacca lets out an angry growl and throws one warrior out of the way. In a long shot panel in silhouette we see the warrior thrown from the tree falling into the gorge below, a warrior with a spear in him, and Chewbacca taking the final two by the neck and lifting them over his head and smashing their heads together. At the far end of the panel is Han with the arrow in his arm.

Chewie growls in anger but is cut short from a painful plea from Han, “Chewbacca…I’m not going to make it. Get me back to the ship.” Han has arrows in his leg, arm, stomach, and another through his chest and out his back. He’s bleeding heavily and has blood falling from his mouth.

Back in the falcon’s cockpit Han says how he always though Chewbacca would be the one to get killed first because of the Life Debt he swore to Han. “But I’m going first into the great unknown,” Han says, then dies in Chewbacca’s arms.  Chewbacca lets out a howl full of sorrow and rage that can be heard from the Falcon and outside for miles in the forest.  Two native warriors stop holding spears. “Sasquatch!” one says.

A caption box reads “126 Years Later…” and in this panel we see in silhouette three people,  a guide, a man with a hat and something coiled in his hand, and a third unidentifiable person. The guide says, “This way, Doctor. For the past thirty years, the sightings have been concentrated on this ridge.” Then, in another panel he says, “Here, another foot print.  We’re nearing his home.”

The next panel sheds a little more light on this doctor. The coiled thing he carries is a whip; he’s wearing a fedora and a leather jacket. The Doctor says,”Good. The museum isn’t paying for foot prints.”

As they begin to round a tree the guide says, “There must be a cave here or…” he’s cut off by the sight.  In the next panel, hanging high above them, covered in moss and vines, wedged into the trees it crashed into, is something alien to them. The guide blurts, “This is no cave.”

With the last page things begin to make sense. The Falcon’s bay door is open and the Doctor helps the third person, now recognizable as a child, up.

“What is this place?” the child asks.

“I don’t know. I’ve never seen anything like it. Not even in Atlantis,” the doctor says. “But it’s all somehow familiar. Stay close, Shorty,” he says as he looks at Han Solo’s skeleton.

Now we know where Han and Chewie landed and who these people are. Planet Earth. Archeologist Indiana Jones and his side-kick Short Round.

“He looks human. Poor bastard,” Indy says as he touches the arrow.

“What now, Doctor Jones? We continue looking for this ‘monster’?”

“No,” Indy replies.

The last panel we see Chewbacca in a tree branch keeping watch over the Falcon and those who entered. Indiana Jones continues,” Let’s leave him as part of the great unknown.”

There you have it. One of the best Lucas franchise crossovers ever. Star Wars and Indiana Jones. The story is told in the only way one can merge these two worlds together, and the fact that they included Short Round with Indy is an added bonus and makes it special.

What is even more special is that they only needed 10 pages and 47 panels to tell the best What If? story ever.

Until Next time,

Mr. Nostalgia

Filed under: Blogs — admin @ 4:12 am

Mr. Nostalgia talks The Wizard of Oz and …Barbie…

Posted on: November 20, 2013

I know what you’re thinking, why is Mr. Nostalgia talking about Barbie, right?  Well, Barbie has been a collectible ever since she was first created in 1959 and has her ties to The Wizard of Oz, so, in keeping with my Wizard of Oz 75th Celebration theme I’ve been doing, I thought I’d talk a little about this.  I’m no expert on Barbie, but a little research has helped me so here we go.

On a trip to Switzerland in 1957 Ruth Handler saw a German collector doll called Bild Lilli (created in 1955), and she would wind up using this for her reference for Barbie. Created in 1959, Handler, the co-founder of Mattel, would name Barbie after her own daughter Barbara.  Barbie was first introduced to the world at the American Toy Fair in New York City.  Two years after Barbie’s creation, Ken would be released, named after Ruth’s son. Barbie originally sold for $3.00 and in the year she was created 300,000 Barbie’s were sold. As far as collecting values go, an original mint 1959 Barbie can go for anywhere from $27,450.00 and higher.  Barbie achieved even more fame when she became a part of the Toy Story group in Toy Story 2, voiced by Jodi Benson (the voice of Disney’s Ariel, The Little Mermaid). Barbie and the Wizard of Oz go way back, but before we talk about some older versions, let’s talk about the most current ones and then when Barbie will take another walk over the rainbow.

     

1955-1957 German Bild Lilli on the left and 1959 1st Barbie on the right. Barbie passes MORE than a striking resemblance to Lilli.

Released for the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz, the three dolls that have been released are designed to look like the actresses that played the characters.  That means Dorothy Gale looks like Judy Garland, Glinda the Good Witch looks like Billie Burke and The Wicked Witch of the West looks like Margaret Hamilton. Pictured below are the current 75th Anniversary dolls.

    

    

    

Back in 1995 Collector editions of Barbie dressed from The Wizard of Oz had been on toy store shelves, and perhaps even earlier than that.  Here is a list; I’m sure not complete, of various Barbie Wizard of Oz dolls through the years.

January 1st, 1995 – Barbie as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz – Blue gingham jumper, ruby slippers and a basket to carry Toto in.

January 1st, 1996 –  Barbie as Glinda the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz – Peach gown, clear crown with a silvery starburst and scepter.

January 1st, 1996 – Ken as the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz – Metallic-looking tin suit complete with rivets and comes with an oil can, ax and a red heart-shaped “clock”.

January 1st, 1997 – Ken as the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz – Green jacket and brown pants with patches sewn, rope tied around waist, neck and sleeves and comes with diploma.

January 1st, 1997 – Ken as the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz – Fleece lion suit, can hold his own tail, comes with a crown and badge of courage.

January 1st, 2000 – Dorothy with Toto The Wizard of Oz Porcelain doll #1 – Sculpted in the likeness of Judy Garland, these dolls commemorate the movie The Wizard of Oz. Authentic look and detailed costume, ruby slippers have actual ruby colored crystals.

January 1st, 2000 – Wicked Witch of the West The Wizard of Oz Porcelain doll #2 – Sculpted in the likeness of Margaret Hamilton, authentic look and detailed costume comes with a broom.

January 1st, 2001 – Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz Porcelain doll #3 – Sculpted in the likeness of Ray Bolger, authentic look and detailed costume, complete with a burlap sack look to his face.

January 1st, 2001 – Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz Porcelain doll #4 – Sculpted in the likeness of Jack Haley, authentic look and detailed costume, comes with woodsman’s ax.

January 1st, 2001 – Winged Monkey in The Wizard of Oz Porcelain doll #5 – Sculpted in the likeness of the flying evil monkey’s from the film, Nikko has feathery wings and a basket to put Toto in.

December 1st, 2002 – The Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz Porcelain doll #6 – Sculpted in the likeness of Bert Lahr, a plush costume with rich shades of tan and a pose able tail.

February 1st, 2003 – Kelly Doll as The Witches from The Wizard of Oz – Kelly dressed as Glinda in a pink gown and The Wicked Witch of the West with green skin and black hat.

June 3rd, 2003 – Kelly Doll and Friends – The Wizard of Oz Gift set – Barbie’s little sister Kelly and friends dress as versions of The Wizard of Oz as Dorothy who comes with a basket for Toto, Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion.

February 15th, 2007 – Dorothy Barbie Doll The Wizard of Oz – Blue and white gingham dress, ruby slippers and red pigtails in her, comes with Toto in a basket.

February 15th, 2007 – Glinda the Good Witch The Wizard of Oz Barbie Doll – Pink gown, comes with crown and scepter.

February 15th, 2007 Wicked Witch of the West The Wizard of Oz Barbie Doll – Dressed all in black, green skin and comes with broom.

February 15th, 2007 – Tin Man Ken Doll The Wizard of Oz – silvery costume, comes with oil can, ax and red heart-shaped “clock”

February 15th, 2007 – Cowardly Lion Ken Doll The Wizard of Oz – Plush lion suit, green crown and badge of courage.

February 15th, 2007 – Scarecrow Ken Doll The Wizard of Oz – Burlap face texture, soft shoes, rope like belt and straw features, comes with diploma.

February 15th, 2007 – Munchkins Kelly and Tommy Doll Gift Set The Wizard of Oz – Munchkin girl, Sleepy Head and Lollipop Guild member.

October 1st, 2007 – Kelly Lullaby Munchkin Doll The Wizard of Oz – Kelly as one of the Lullaby Girls.

April 1st, 2007 – Ken Winkie Guard Doll and Winged Monkey The Wizard of Oz – Ken comes with a spear while the monkey guard has feathery wings.

November 20th, 2008 – Wicked Witch of the West Barbie Doll – 70th Anniversary doll of The Wizard of Oz- Comes with broomstick and hat and doll plays original music from movie “Miss Gulch” (Really the Wicked Witch of the East laughing in the Tornado –  excerpt from Margaret Hamilton).

January 22nd, 2009 – Dorothy Barbie Doll – 70th Anniversary doll of the Wizard of Oz – Comes with Toto in basket and doll plays original music from the movie “Over the Rainbow” by Judy Garland.

January 22nd, 2009 – Glinda the Good Witch – 70th Anniversary doll of the Wizard of Oz – Comes with crown and scepter and doll plays original music from the movie “Come out, come out” Billie Burke excerpt.

January 22nd, 2009 – The Cowardly Lion Ken – 70th Anniversary doll of The Wizard of Oz – Comes with medal, crown and doll plays original music from the movie “If I Were King of the Forest” Bert Lahr excerpt.

January 22nd, 2009 – Scarecrow Ken – 70th Anniversary doll of The Wizard of Oz – Comes with diploma and the doll plays original music from the movie, “If I Only had a Brain” Ray Bolger excerpt.

January 22nd, 2009 – Tin Man Ken – 70th Anniversary doll of The Wizard of Oz – Comes with ax, oil can and red heart shaped “clock”, the doll plays original music from the movie, “If I Only had a Heart” Jack Haley excerpt.

September 1st, 2009 – Wicked Witch of the East – 70th Anniversary of the Wizard of Oz – Despite not seeing her in the movies (Except for a black and white scene when flying in the tornado and her black and white striped stockings and ruby-slippers sticking out from under Dorothy’s house), this doll was inspired by the movie and created to be part of the 70th Anniversary. Wears a ruby red dress, emblem of the art deco style of the Emerald City, black hat and comes with a broom.  Doll plays original music from the movie, “Ding-Dong the Witch is Dead” excerpt Munchkins.

June 17th, 2010 – Dorothy Barbie Doll The Wizard of Oz – With 2 thick brunette braided ponytails and a retro ensemble Dorothy wears a white and blue checkered petticoat dress with Toto stitched onto it. White ankle socks, ruby-red slippers, and basket.

June 17th, 2010 –  Glinda Barbie Doll The Wizard of Oz – Ginger hair, peach costume, silvery scepter and crown.

June 17th 2010 – Wicked Witch of the West Doll The Wizard of Oz – Blue skin, retro-inspired black costume with a flying monkey stitched onto the dress. Comes with pointy hat, broom, striped stockings and “lace up” boots.

June 1st, 2010 – Miss Dorothy Gale Doll The Wizard of Oz – Modern take on Dorothy she wears a short petticoat dress, white thigh high stockings and red sandals. Red handbag replaces the basket to carry Toto in.

August 8th, 2013 – Fantasy Glamour Dorothy Doll The Wizard of Oz – Strapless gown redesigned from the modest classic blue and white gingham dress.  Has a frothy tulle overskirt which is trimmed in satin ribbon and sparkly sequins. Her bows from her braids are replaced as drop earrings, while the ruby slippers come as high heels. Dorothy comes with a silvery clutch, charm bracelet, doll stand, shoes and earrings.

So there you have it, Barbie has been a part of The Wizard of Oz merchandising for some time now, and it doesn’t seem like Mattel has any plans on stopping just yet.

Until next time,

Mr. Nostalgia

 

 

Filed under: Blogs — admin @ 3:03 am

Mr. Nostalgia: It is with sad news that the Toy-Line staff announces the passing of Diane Disney Miller…

Posted on: November 20, 2013

The oldest daughter of Walt and Lillian Disney, Diane Disney Miller died today, Tuesday, November 19th, 2013, in her Napa Valley home due to complications from a fall earlier this year. She was 79 years old.

Diane Marie Disney was born on December 18th, 1933. As a child she and her younger sister Sharon (born December 31st, 1936-February 16th, 1993, first married to Robert R. Brown, who passed on shortly after Walt Disney did, later married William Lund.  She was the mother of three children) would go to Griffith Park with their father and ride the merry-go-round while Walt would sit on a bench eating peanuts and wishing there was a place where families could go together and ride rides and be entertained as a family, a place that wasn’t seedy like a carnival, but something more classy.  Thus was the beginning of Disneyland.

Diane attended USC where she met her future husband Ron Miller. They married in 1954. Ronald W. Miller began working for Disney in 1957 as an associate producer of films.  He also co-produced films with his father-in-law Walt.  His first official credit as a producer on a film came in 1968. He served for 12 years as an executive producer on films and television, then became president of Disney Corporations from 1980-1984.

Diane is survived by her husband, 4 sons, 3 daughters, 13 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild.

The prayers of the Toy-Line’s staff go out to the Disney-Miller family this day.

Mr. Nostalgia and the Toy-Line staff.

Filed under: Articles,Blogs — admin @ 1:22 am

Mr. Nostalgia talks about, “A Charlie Brown Christmas”…

Posted on: November 19, 2013

There are two memories I have of Charlie Brown. The first is reading the Peanuts comic everyday (usually after my brother or sister, depending who got the comic section first) and watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas” with my mother, brother and sister every year. That memory, as we all sat on the couch, the lights off, and Vince Guaraldi’s score playing is still so real, still so clear, that if I could reach out I could hold that memory in my hand and never let it go.  Watching this cartoon was special, it was only on once a year, so it was a special night, homework got done early, same with dinner and baths. When I got older in my late teens I bought it on VHS and could watch it as many times as I wanted in December, and then in my twenties, bought it again on DVD, and I would watch it every Christmas Season, even after I got married, with my wife, who was also a Charlie Brown fan as much as I was.

It’s tough to believe that this year “A Charlie Brown Christmas” will be 48 years old, yet in all these years this Christmas special hasn’t lost its charm or innocence (much like the 18,170 comic strips Charles Schulz drew over 49 years hasn’t either).  It’s almost tougher to believe that the special wasn’t his idea. He was very happy drawing his daily strips when, in 1965 he was approached by his producer and friend Lee Mendelson,  that an advertising firm agent named John Allen from the McCann Erickson Agency in New York, who represented Coca-Cola (best soda on Earth) was looking to sponsor a Christmas special, and thought Peanuts would be the way to go.

Mendelson had met Schulz in 1963 when he had made a half-hour documentary about Charles Schulz’s life. The documentary featured a two minute animated segment from Bill Melendez.  Melendez and Schulz had previously worked together on the first ever animated Peanuts cartoon in the early 1960’s for a commercial for Ford Motor Company introducing their newest car, the Falcon.  To finish off the project they hired Vince Guaraldi, a talented Jazz musician and also a Peanuts fan, to write a piece for the documentary, which wound up being one of the most famous Peanuts songs ever, “Linus and Lucy”. But despite the amount of talent on board, the documentary wouldn’t sell and be scene until 1970, where it would win an Emmy Award.

John Allen was glad Mendelson said yes, but there was one condition. Coca-Cola needed an outline for a half-hour short.  The day he called was Wednesday.  They needed it by that coming Monday. The very next day Schulz and Mendelson got together to write the outline.  One thing for sure Schulz wanted in the special was to have the true meaning of Christmas in it. (Schulz was a very religious man who had taught Sunday School to adults, and even while drawing Peanuts, drew another comic strip in 1956 for Youth magazine, which was aimed at teens in The Church of God, called Young Pillars that ran until 1965.) They finished the outline in one day, and with a few extra things they added in later, what they wrote in that outline is what is still seen to this day.

It took several weeks before they heard that Coca-Cola was interested in making the special but wanted it for that December.  It was June at the time. Bill Melendez would take care of the Graphic Blandishment (as it is called in the credits, or animation as we know it being called), and Vince Guaraldi would write the music for the special, getting to include the “Linus and Lucy” number he wrote for the documentary. It was Lee Mendelson’s idea to include a Christmas tree, an idea which Schulz liked and wanted to make it a “Charlie Brown” Christmas tree. The only other things added to the special that weren’t in the outline were the dance number at the school play recital to “Linus and Lucy” and a scene where Schroeder plays Beethoven.  A suggestion to add a laugh track, which was common for cartoons to have in those days, was suggested, but Schulz was against the idea completely. Once all was planned, Schulz wrote the script, Melendez storyboarded the cartoon, and then he and his crew got to work animating.

The voices for the show were provided by actually children (except for the voice of Snoopy) and were recorded in one day.  The cast was:

Charlie Brown – Peter Robbins (who would play him for a total of 5 specials and the first Charlie Brown movie)

Linus – Christopher Shea (who would also play his character for the first 5 specials)

Lucy – Tracy Stratford

Violet – Sally Dryer

Sally – Cathy Steinberg

Schroeder – Chris Doran

Frieda – Anne Altieri

Pig Pen – Jeff Ornstein

Patty – Karen Mendelson

Snoopy – Bill Melendez (Speaking gibberish into a microphone they would speed up the tape for Snoopy’s voice. He would be the voice of Snoopy for 37 years, and eventually Woodstock’s as well)

The opening song “Christmas Time is Here” and the closing “Hark the Herald Angel Sing” were performed by a church choir in the San Francisco bay area.

The song “Christmas Time is Here” was composed by Vince Guaraldi with lyrics by Lee Mendelson. There were a total of 10,000 drawings (12 drawings per second) for the special and it was finished one week before the deadline from Coca-Cola.  When the crew watched it, they all felt it wasn’t good enough, except for one animator named Ed Levitt, who said, “A Charlie Brown Christmas will run for 100 years.”

When shown to CBS Executives, the channel that would be showing the special, they unfortunately did not agree with Levitt’s feelings.  They would run it, but not be buying anymore specials. Despite what CBS thought, Time magazine wrote a raving review, and TV Guide gave the special a two-paged color spread. On Thursday December 9th, 1965, at 7:30 pm CBS debuted the special.  When it ran the special finished 2nd in The National Ratings and CBS took back what they said and ordered four more specials.

In 1965 “A Charlie Brown Christmas” has won an Emmy Award for “Best Network Animated Special” and a Peabody Broadcasting Award for “Outstanding Children’s and Youth’s Program” and has been running for 48 years straight.  Only 52 more years to go to meet Levitt’s prediction.

Out of the 45 TV specials, 4 feature films and 18 Saturday morning shows Schulz, Mendelson and Melendez made together, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” was Schulz’s favorite, which is a testament to the quality of work that went into it. The special had all the Christmas rites of passage that people expect from Christmas related specials: Christmas cards, catching snowflakes on your tongue, throwing snowballs, ice skating, writing letters to Santa, a Christmas play and even a Christmas tree.  It also had the one thing that every Christmas special never has in it.  The True meaning of Christmas.  At the time Bill Melendez said they couldn’t do that in a cartoon, that it was too religious. Schulz’s reply was simple. “Bill, if we don’t do it, who else can? We’re the only ones who can do it.”

Charles Schulz was right. As I write this today it is November 18th.  In two weeks it will be Thanksgiving.  Two weeks ago, at the beginning of the month, two of the four malls in our community already had Santa taking pictures with kids, and the malls were decorated for Christmas.  Stores have already begun to announce when they will be open for “Black Friday”, the busiest shopping day of the year, and some are even saying they will be open at 5:00 pm on Thanksgiving Day. With the malls decorating earlier and earlier each year, it seems that they want Christmas here quicker every year.  But that stops and makes me wonder.  Do they want Christmas here for the celebration of Christ’s birth?  Or for the amount of money they will be making on people buying Christmas presents?

Sadly I know the answer, and if Charles Schulz thought Christmas was becoming too commercial in 1965 and people forgetting the “True Meaning” of Christmas, I wonder what he would think of it today? It actually makes me think of two quotes from the special.  The first is on Corporate America’s view of commercializing Christmas.  Lucy says to Charlie Brown, “Look, Charlie.  Let’s face it. We all know that Christmas is a big commercial racket.”  For the people who do feel that way and allow the corporations to take the meaning away of Christmas and make it more about the amount of presents you buy than about Christ, it makes me think of Linus when he says, “This really brings Christmas close to a person.”

In 2013 malls think of Christmas as getting the place directed earlier and earlier each year, subconsciously reminding people that they need to start their shopping, hiring a fat man to wear a red suit so they can charge at the very least $25.00 for a picture of someone’s kids with him, and a world where the overly-extreme-politically-correct people feel the need to impede on our First Amendment by using their Freedom of Speech to censor our right to a Freedom of Religion.

It’s almost wild that 48 years ago, when Melendez told Schulz they couldn’t do the religious scene that his reply was, “Bill, if we don’t do it, who else can? We’re the only ones who can do it.”  It was almost as if he knew the commercializing of Christmas was only going to get worse as the years went on, and purposely wrote this scene between Charlie Brown and Linus.

Charlie Brown (unhinged): “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”

Linus: “Sure, Charlie Brown. I can tell you what Christmas is all about.”

Linus walks to center stage.

Linus: “Lights, please?”

Auditorium lights dim and spot shines on Linus.

Linus: “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shown round about them. And they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you. Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, goodwill toward men.”

Picks up blanket and exits stage left. Approaches Charlie Brown.

Linus: “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

Amen, to that, Linus, Amen. And thank you Charles Schulz for knowing that 48 years later, the world would still sadly need to be reminded this.

Until next time,

Mr. Nostalgia

Filed under: Articles,Blogs — admin @ 2:08 am

Mr. Nostalgia wishes Mickey Mouse a Happy Birthday…

Posted on: November 18, 2013

Today, the Toy-line staff and I would like to wish the happiest of birthdays to Mickey Mouse. Born November 18, 1928, today Mickey turns 85.  Mickey’s first on screen debut was in the classic Steamboat Willie. Mickey would go on to star in 120 shorts, the first of course being the 1928 Steamboat Willie and the last being the 1995 Runaway Brain.  Today the number of cartoons that Mickey has appeared in has changed from 120 with the debut of new Mickey Mouse cartoons on The Disney Channel as well as other Mickey cartoons.

Walt Disney was originally going to name Mickey Mortimer, but his wife didn’t like the sound of the name and suggested Mickey. Mortimer later became a rival of Mickey’s in 1936.

Happy Birthday, Mickey! Enjoy a piece of cheesecake and enjoy your day!

Mr. Nostalgia

Filed under: Blogs — admin @ 1:40 pm

Mr. Nostalgia talks about the new Disney Marvel Christmas ornaments…

Posted on: November 18, 2013

Both The Disney Store and The Disney Store Outlets have released three Marvel heroes Christmas ornaments.  Yet one of them is NOT Thor, which is strange since the movie is out and making great money at the box office.  Anyway, take a look below to see who made the cut.

Our first one is The Hulk. Featured as if in a jumping pose, the Hulk’s coloring is spot on, and they even chose a purple ribbon to hang him from the tree.  Nice move, Disney!

Next is Spider-man.  What’s great about this ornament is that it uses the fact that a Christmas ornament dangles down from a tree branch, and has Spider-man hanging upside down as if from a web, and if you’re going to make a Spider-man ornament, he HAS to be hanging upside down. Excellent paint job and a silver ribbon representing his web to hang him from the tree finish this ornament off.

Last is Iron Man.  In a nice flying pose we have the flames coming from his boots, a great metallic paint job making the red and yellow pop off the ornament which also makes his chest piece really stand out.  My only complaint about this ornament is his hand sticking forward has his fingers spread out and every single Iron Man ornament The Disney Store had that day was missing his five fingers, so if you go to buy him, make sure he has all five fingers. The gold ribbon to hang him from though is a nice choice.

Until next time,

Mr. Nostalgia

Filed under: Blogs — admin @ 4:19 am

Mr. Nostalgia talks once more about Indiana Jones collectibles…

Posted on: November 18, 2013

One of the best things about Indiana Jones collectibles are you never know what they’re going to make next.  While things are quiet now on the Indy front, except for the Disney Resort exclusive merchandise they sell, I thought I’d take a look at 4 collectibles Hallmark put out as ornaments, 4 ornaments that just happen to all focus on the best Indy film ever, 1981’s “Raiders of the Lost Ark”.

Under the Hallmark Keepsake ornament banner, the first ornament to come out was simply called “Indiana Jones”.  It sold for $15.00 and was released in 2008. Hallmark Keepsake Artist Kristina Kline-Gaughran designed the ornament of Indy with his bullwhip ready for action.

The next to be released in 2009 was titled “Retrieving the Idol”. It sold for $18.50 and once more was designed by Hallmark Keepsake Artist Kristina Kline-Gaughran. When you press a button it plays a part of John Williams’ epic piece “The Raiders March”.

2010 brought us another ornament that featured sounds.  This one was titled “Surrounded by Snakes” and sold for $18.95.  This ornament was designed by Hallmark Keepsake Artist Kristina Kline-Gaughran too. When you press a button you hear the sounds of snakes hissing, thunder cracking and Indy saying, “Snakes.   Why’d it have to be snakes?” Press it again and you’ll hear an excerpt from “The Raiders March”.

The final Indy ornament to be released was in 2011 titled “Indy in Action”. Priced at $14.95 this was the final ornament in the series to be designed by Hallmark Keepsake Artist Kristina Gaughran (artist last name change came directly from the back of the box).

The wonderful things about these ornaments is the attention to detail Gaughran put into them, whether it be the two torches Indy holds in his hands as snakes surround him and a King Cobra brings itself up in the “Surrounded by Snakes” ornament (the button that plays the dialogue from “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “The Raiders March” is colored like the sand), on the “Retrieving the Idol” ornament the moss growing over the pedestal gives the piece an aged look while Indy holds a bag of sand in one hand ready to swap it out for the idol with his other (the button for “The Raiders March” is hidden behind the pedestal near Indy). In the ornament “Indy in Action” Indy is running we can imagine from the boulder with the idol in his hand, his bag and whip sticking out as he runs, finally “Indiana Jones” himself shows Indy ready for action with his bullwhip and pistol holstered in case a Cairo Swordsman comes at him.

The sad thing is in that only four of these were ever made.  Whether they’ll ever release anymore is a mystery as ancient as the Ark of the Covenant. But they could always make some based off of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade!

Until next time,

Mr. Nostalgia

 

Filed under: Blogs — admin @ 3:50 am

Mr. Nostalgia says, “Don’t make his Hulk Mickey Ear angry, you woudln’t like him when he’s angry…”

Posted on: November 16, 2013

My wonderful wife found me The Hulk Mickey Ear (as we call them) to add to my collection.  I just need to get Iron Man, Black Widow and somehow get the Hawkeye from Walt Disney World and I’ll have my Avenergs movie Mickey Ear set. Check him out:

 

Mr. Nostalgia

Filed under: Blogs — admin @ 3:04 am

Mr. Nostalgia recommends a great Oz book…

Posted on: November 16, 2013

Christmas is right around the corner.  Are you looking for a gift for an Oz fan in your life?  Then look no further. “The Wizard of Oz: The Official 75th Anniversary Companion” by Jay Scarfone & William Stillman is the perfect gift.  Full of behind the scenes secrets into the making of the film from pre to post-production, “The Wizard of Oz: The Official 75th Anniversary Companion”  has never-before-published stories as well as comes with a certificate from The Wizard of Oz himself, a vintage movie poster and more.

Just “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” to your local bookstore and pick up your copy today!

Mr. Nostalgia

Filed under: Blogs — admin @ 2:58 am

Mr. Nostalgia takes a trip down memory lane and remembers the crappiest toy E-E-E-Ever…

Posted on: November 15, 2013

 

When I was a kid in the 80’s every Friday and Saturday in the summer my mother would drop my brother, sister and I off at our grandparents while she worked, and pick us up Saturday evening. Most of the time we’d sit and watch TV, play SPIT (a card game), or one of our cousins would come over, but mostly we were just bored.  These were the days before Nintendo DS’ or even Nintendo Gameboys, these were the days of the Atari 2600, and there was no way we could bring that thing back and forth.

Sometimes I’d bring my Darth Vader carrying case and my Star Wars figures, sometimes we’d draw.  My grandmother was 100% Italian which meant great homemade cooked food for dinner.  Pasta with homemade sauce or homemade pizza, and when I saw homemade pizza, I’m talking homemade, including the dough.  No take out for her.  After the she would make the pizzas she’d always leave a little dough for us to play with and create something out of it.

Sometimes we’d go food shopping with her.  All three of us would want to push the carriage, and my grandmother was so great she’d get three carriages and divide the food into each one as we made our way down the aisles. When one of us got tired of pushing the carriage, she’d take the food out of that carriage and divide it into the other two, and when another of us got tired, she’d then take that food and put it into the one carriage left.  Usually my sister and I got tired first. My brother never did. My grandmother never complained about this, and we’d leave the empty carriages on the side of the aisle, like a car on cinder blocks in New York City, left to rust, after all the essentials had been taken from it.

Looking back those were good times.  I miss my grandma dearly.

One thing I remember from watching all that TV, besides nothing good being on sometimes, was a commercial for the stupidest thing I had ever seen. The Chia Pet. Whenever this commercial came on we would watch it, with that annoying catch phrase, “Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia”, and wonder why anyone in their right mind would want one of these things.

It wasn’t really a toy; it was just a clay pot that grew crap.  How do you enjoy that? Another thing is, once it’s done growing, what then?  Keep watering it so it stays fresh?  Why would you want to do that? It was just a brown clay ram with weeds sticking out its back.

The three of us always hated that commercial, that stupid “Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia” catch phrase, and the fact that they would think a kid would want one for a present.  Thankfully we never got one, and if we ever did, I don’t know how we would have reacted.  We certainly wouldn’t have liked the stupid thing.

Jump to the present day where the kid me is now Mr. Nostalgia and a blogger for this site.  I blog about memories of toys and their sentimental connections, I start to blog about new toys, movies, and start posting pictures of toys.  I began to make it a habit on the weekends to take my camera with me wherever my wife and I went.  I don’t own a smart phone (believe it or not) so I don’t have something small to take pictures with, so I carry my camera bag with me.

Sure, it may look like a purse for a guy, but I like to pretend it’s like Indiana Jones’ bag when I take it with me, even though it’s a small camera bag, about the size of a football, or maybe a little smaller. My wife has gotten used to me carrying it with us, as have my sister or buddy Rich whenever I go out with them, and it’s come in handy several times when I see something I would want to blog about.  I may get strange looks from shoppers or employees, but I usually just tell them I’m birthday or Christmas shopping and taking a picture of the toy to see if that is what the pretend person I’m buying it for wants.

So, this past weekend after coming home from the mall with my wife, I ran back out to CVS to get something.  I was walking the aisles since they had Christmas stuff out on display and there it was staring right at me.

“Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia”.

A Chia Pet.  Only this was no ordinary Chia Pet. This was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Chia Pet, and I was lucky that I took my camera along with me that day, cause even I wasn’t believing what I was seeing.  I took a picture of it, bought what I needed, and went home with a new blog in mind.

I’ve been a fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ever since the first cartoon and the black and white Mirage comics (those were just awesome).  I enjoyed the first Turtles movie, the best of the series (with TMNT coming in at number two).  I’ve seen merchandise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on everything and everywhere, but I had never seen one as a Chia Pet. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are now owned by Nickelodeon and this Turtle Chia Pet was based off their new show.   I got to admit, Nickelodeon found the one thing that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had never been merchandised as. I give them credit for that.

“Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia”.

Joe Pedott began selling the Chia Pet in the early 1980’s mostly in drugstores. The name Chia Pet itself is a registered trademark of Joseph Enterprises, Inc., which means that, while you can make a similar item such as this, you just can’t call it a Chia Pet.  But honestly, why would you even want to waste your time selling something similar like this when the original isn’t even that cool? Joseph Enterprises, Inc. also sells another item that was marketed on TV and has a similar annoying catch phrase.  The Clapper.  You know, that thing that turns your lights on or off just by clapping, as if getting up or out of bed to turn a light switch on or off is too much trouble to do?  Remember the catch phrase? “Clap on (CLAP, CLAP), Clap off (CLAP, CLAP), Clap on, Clap off, The Clapper”.

To use a Chia Pet is as simple as using a triangular block as a door stop. In fact, it’s so simple they don’t even really need to give you directions; it’s almost insulting that they do, like you don’t have a college degree and can’t figure out this real mind bender here.  Anyway, you soak the Chia Pet or Chia seeds in water (That is very important here folks.  We’re trying to grow some sort of weed or something, and we all know when it rains the rain helps the plants and grass grow, so why they would instruct us to use water instead of say, I don’t know, soda, really ticks me off like they think I’m stupid or something), then spread the Chia seeds onto the Chia Pet.  Not your actual pet, but your CHIA PET.  Don’t forget that part.  You fill it with water, be bored with it wondering why you ever bought the thing in the first place, and then in 1-2 weeks the Chia will bloom.

That’s it.  You’re done.  What you do with it next is beyond me.  I’d say put it on a windowsill and hope someone knocks it down and it breaks so you can throw it away.  The thing is, as much as I’m making fun of this item, Joe Pedott took it that seriously.  When it came time to the commercial, they actually had a “brainstorming” session to come up with the catch phrase. I can just see that meeting now.  A room full of people who don’t want to be there, trying to come up with something about a pot that grows weeds.  Legend has it that someone in the room pretended to stutter the name (what a real insensitive jerk too, I might add, making fun of people who stutter) “Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia” and the stupidest catch phrase ever was born.

The first Chia Pet was a ram and is still one of the most popular. There are other animals in the Chia Pet family, such as: a bull, pig, elephant, crocodile, frog, bunny, hippo, puppy and a dinosaur. Besides animals the Chia Pet comes also as a gnome (Chia Gnome?) and Chia Guy, who basically grows the shrub for hair, which is insulting to bald people everywhere if you ask me. Like, “Look, this Chia Dude can grow hair but you can’t!”  Nice.

Pedott also went into the licensing realm making deals with some pretty famous companies (how he did this I have NO idea) and licensed such characters as: Taz and Tweety from Warner Bros. cartoons, Homer and Bart Simpson, Garfield, Hello Kitty, Shrek, Donkey, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and even they popular TV series Duck Dynasty.

Believe it or not, some 500,000 Chia’s are sold each year during Christmas time. 500,000! I just have to believe that there’s 500,000 people out there with a great sense of humor and giving this thing as a joke to their siblings.

Perhaps though the joke is on me. Marketing all these licensed products as well as selling 500,000 at Christmas time is pretty impressive, and that’s not even knowing the numbers they sell the rest of the year.  Not only that, the first Chia Pet was placed on a drug store shelf in 1982, 31 years ago, and hasn’t looked back once, rocking it out like there’s no tomorrow.

Oh well, that’s it for today I guess.  I’m still shocked by the 500,000 for Christmas.  I hope you enjoyed this trip down Memory Lane with me.

Until next time,

Mr. Nostalgia

(CLAP, CLAP)

Filed under: Blogs — admin @ 2:13 am

Mr. Nostalgia:F A O SCHWARZ Christmas Catalog 2013 Oz gifts…

Posted on: November 14, 2013

F A O Schwarz has released their 2013 Christmas catalog and inside there are two Wizard of oz 75th anniversary toys.

The first set is from Madame Alexander and are fabric dolls that are machine washable.  These are nice, soft plush dolls and look really wonderful.  It’s great that they are washable because if a little child gets one of these and carries it around with him or her you know how filthy it can get, so this makes it easy for a parent to keep it clean for them.  The dolls are especially nice looking and have a friendly vibe to them, even the Wicked Witch of the West who doesn’t look Wicked at all. The dolls are a little pricey at $34.99 each, but this is F A O Schwarz we’re talking about afterall.

 

Also available in the catalog are Adora Wizard of Oz 75th Anniversary Dolls. Each doll comes with a commermorative medallion, but I have to admit, I find baby dolls like this extremely ugly and creepy.  Priced at $129.99 each, you’re better off with the Madame Alexander ones.

We have Dorothy:

Glinda

The Wicked Witch of the West

 

Though not in the catalog I found these Wizard of Oz puppets as F A O Schwarz Exclusives in Toys R Us about a month ago.

 

Mr. Nostalgia

Filed under: Blogs — admin @ 2:55 am

Mr. Nostalgia: Disney’s Maleficent Trailer is here…

Posted on: November 14, 2013

Disney has relased the first trailer for the live action version of Maleficent.  Angelina Jolie plays the title character and I must say from the little we see of her performance she gives us a one like nothing she has done so far and is going to be amazing.  In it we see: Maleficent, a young girl we can only assume is Sleeping Beauty, fairies, a spinning wheel with one wicked looking spindle and the wall of thorns.  I think Disney has a real hit on their hands.

Take a look over at the official Disney site:

Mr. Nostalgia
Filed under: Blogs — admin @ 2:42 am
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