The Winter Cleaning Crapstravaganza
Earlier this winter I had some time off from work and decided to go home to my parents' place for a week. Instead of spending that time with my family, who I never see, I decided my time would be better spent going through all my old stuff and looking for funny and interesting relics of decades past. So come with me on my adventure. An adventure into my attic. An attic that is cold enough to freeze your nuts off because it's the same temperature as it is outside. An outside that was about 10° below zero (that's 14° Farenheit) when I was up there. Okay, this narration style is annoying... let's just look at what I found.
Model Train Set
Golly gee, I'll never forget the Christmas I got my model train set. Father had been working extra hours down in the coal mine and used those extra few cents to buy me the bestest present ever. We set it up together and watched enthralled as it magically worked its way around that oval track through the magic of electricity. Then we all gathered around the radio to listen to the prime minster's Christmas address and sing along with the carols.
Okay, so that stuff never really happened. And the train isn't really mine; it's my dad's. That doesn't change the fact that it's still pretty damn cool. The transformer is absolutely huge, a true marquee of the times. My brother and I tried to get it working, but we were only able to get the train to move about an inch or so, and backwards at that. Incidentallly, this was the only interesting thing I found in the attic, aside from my parents' wedding cake topper. The rest of the attic was filled with old schoolwork, and back issues of magazines that should have been thrown out decades ago, which brings me to the next item...
28 Years of Reader's Digest
Now, I'm not sure how well-known Reader's Digest is in the US, but in Canada it's a pretty big deal. My mother likes to read a lot, so she's been subscribing to this magazine for as long as I can remember and has held on to them just as long. I'm not really sure why anyone would want to read a variety magazine from 1980, but there must be some reason. That, or my parents are pack rats. The only other interesting thing I can say about these is that I nearly died trying to construct the tower pictured above. Apparently seven feet of paper weighs a lot, and if you try and line up all the spines on one side of the tower, it causes a pretty significant imbalance. Oh well, at least it collapsed on my brother and not me. Rest In Peace, Li'l Brudder.
Vintage 1980s Globe
As it turned out, all my stuff was in the basement, so down into the icy depths I went. While down there, I found this old globe that has definitely seen some better days. If memory serves me right, one of my friends sat on it and crushed it. Fortunately, you can still clearly make out the reason I chose to feature this item, it has the good old USSR (or the CCCP as I like to call it) on it. I'm sure if I looked hard enough, I could find some other details that are horribly out of date, but I figured I'd go with the obvious joke because I'm lazy like that. If I still had my seventh grade social studies book, I'd take a picture of the page that states that Hong Kong belongs to the United Kingdom until 1999, at which time it will be handed over to China. Isn't geography fun?
Panini 1988-89 NHL Sticker Album
During the course of my life, there have been no less than four Panini sticker albums in my home. To this day I have no idea why my parents ever bought the second one. If you're unfamiliar with Panini sticker albums, the premise goes something like this: you buy the official Panini book, which has appoximately 200 numbered empty spaces for the stickers to be placed. You then have to buy the stickers, which come in packs of ten, until you've completed your book or have run out of money. The latter is far more likely than the former, and if you do manage to complete a book, you will have accumulated hundreds of duplicate stickers. If you have friends with parents as gullible as your own, you can trade to get the stickers you need. Or, you could send a bunch of duplicates back to Panini, and they would send you ONE sticker that you need. Again, I have no idea why my parents kept buying these. I owned a dinosaur album, a DuckTales album, a Rescue Rangers album, and the NHL one pictured above. It contained the entire 88-89 roster, as well as the trophy winners for that year, and some random action shots and hand signals for penalties. I took a LOT of pictures of this thing, so if you want to see more, click here.
Popsicle Pete Points
Continuing with the theme of collecting things, here we have a bunch of popsicle sticks with various point values written on them. If you collected enough of them, you could send them in and redeem them for awesome prizes. I think that the prize for collecting a million points was a copy of Super Mario 3. Granted, for the amount of popsicles you'd have to eat to achieve this figure, you could have just as easily bought several copies of the game. Of course, then you wouldn't get to eat all those delicious icy treats. As you can see, I was no where near a million points. Some popsicle sticks also had pieces of a picture puzzle on them, and if you completed the picture, you won the featured item. As I recall, one of those prizes was a bike. I'm not entirely sure why I bothered collecting these things, as I apparently had no intention of redeeming them. Oh well, this bit of nostalgia is probably a lot better than the crappy baseball cap I would have gotten if I actually had redeemed them.
Set of Berenstain Bears First Time Storybooks
My very first Berenstain Bears book was ordered through a scholastic book order at school. Ironically, the title was Berenstain Bears: Trouble at School. After that inital buy, my dad would bring me home a new Berenstain Bears book every week, or every other week, until I had them all. After these books, there was a whole series of crappy recipe and cooking books, and the even crappier Berenstain Kids books. I've displayed two of my favorite titles at the front - Too Much TV and No Girls Allowed - along with my first book. I also really enjoyed Bad Dream, just because the monsters in it looked really cool. Alrighty, let's move on and see if I can make myself look like less of a nerd.
Long before things like MSN Messenger and AIM were corrupting the grammar of the youth generation, there was Lite Brite. Lite Brite was a lot like paint-by-numbers except it was a lot less messy, so parents loved it. You were given translucent pegs in all seven colors of the rainbow, plus white, and you stuck them through color-coded spotsto recreate your favorite characters. Once you were done, you could plug in your Lite Brite to make the pegs light up, making the picture even more awesome than before. As you can see above, I had a Potato Head Kids pack and a Rescue Rangers pack, and yes, that's Fat Cat displayed on the Lite Brite. I also distinctly remember owning a Scooby-Doo pack at some point as well, and the Mystery Machine was one of the designs in it. Each pack also came with an inordinate number of blank sheets that could be used to make your own unique creations. I never really used them, mostly because I was always annoyed that you couldn't make straight vertical lines.
To most people, pogs are nothing are more than briefly popular pieces of cardboard that Milhouse got from Comic Book Guy in exchange for Bart's soul on a a rather famous episode of The Simpsons. But to me, pogs were more than just a passing fad. Pogs were a way of life, much like marbles were to the generations before mine. Actually, I own over 700 marbles, but they aren't nearly as cool as my pogs. I've got a whole set of Batman Forever pogs, a bunch of Flintstones ones, and then a whole mess of random ones. There are some Animaniacs ones, some Super Mario World ones, the infamous Captain Poison, and a generic tropical animal set whose origin I am unfamiliar with. The stupid animal pogs are all warped anyway, so I care not for them.
Note from Syd: I was never really into pogs, but I used to have a metal slammer shaped like a fucking ninja star. So basically, it *was* a ninja star. I bought it for $4.95 down at the corner gas station and I only had it for about three days before my mom found out and took it away. God, I wish still had that thing.
Unless your eyes were freakishly close to your nose, or abnormally far apart like E.T., then View-Master was a great toy to have. Pop in one of thousands of collectable discs, point that motherfucker at the sun or some other light source, and you were treated to SEVEN brightly colored 3D images. View all the reels from a set in sequence, and it was like watching an entire episode of Mighty Mouse or Chilly Willy, except that IT WAS IN 3D! And, uh, there was no sound or animation. But seriously, View-Master has been around for over 65 years, and they still make them, so they must be doing something right. And with such stunning reel sets as For the Love of Benji and The New Mickey Mouse Club, it's not hard to understand why.
Learning Metric Flash Cards
This is arguably the strangest item I found in my house. I have no idea where they came from, as they've been around as long as I can remember. The premise, as far as I can tell, is to teach young children how to use the metric system and its prefixes, which is something all of you American readers could probably use too. One card has a picture of a perfume bottle and asks which unit you would use to measure the volume of perfume, a liter or a milliliter. On the card above with the lake, the answer is obviously kiloliters, but kiloliter as a unit is never, ever used in real life; large volumes of liquid are always represented in liters. Here's to teaching a generation of children erroneous information. Hooray! The cards also feature questions that are asked by comically antiquated stereotypes. Oh, how I miss the days of rampant political incorrectness.
Note from Syd: Hey Valdronius, we have the metric system in America. Since it's international scientific standard, we're forced to use it when we take chemistry and physics in high school. And honestly, who the fuck needs flash cards for the metric system? Everything in the metric system is in powers of ten. It's retardedly easy to use. Now if you want a system that requires flash cards, try the English system, where there's 3 feet in a yard, 6 feet in a fathom, 660 feet in a furlong, and some ridiculous number of feet in a mile. How many feet exactly? NOBODY FUCKING KNOWS BECAUSE OUR FUCKING SYSTEM OF MEASUREMENTS DOESN'T MAKE ANY FUCKING SENSE! Oh wait, it's 5280 feet. Nevermind.
Mickey Mouse Record Player
Remember the days when vinyl wasn't solely a collector's item? I do. And in those days I had two options when it came time to listen to my favorite record: I could use my grandmother's boring record player, or I could use my fantastical Mickey Mouse record player! Honestly, I have no idea how this thing never gave me nightmares. It's unbelievably creepy. You have Mickey greeting you in his typically jolly manner while gazing at you with his bedroom eyes. On top of that, he's actually reaching toward you. And seeing as the needle was in his finger, if you gave in and let him touch you, you better believe you were going to fucking bleed. The record player clearly has a handle on it to facilitate carrying it around, you know, in case Mickey wanted you to introduce him to your friends. But if you know anything about electronics made before 1985, you can probably guess that it was damn heavy. So if you were young to enjoy a Mickey Mouse record player, you probably weren't strong enough to lift it.
Random Action Figures
These are a few of the figures I owned that somehow managed to avoid complete mutilation. Sadly, I can't say the same for my Toxic Avenger action figure. Not long after I got Toxie for my birthday, I decided it would be fun to turn my bike upside-down and press his face into the back wheel while my friend cranked one of the pedals. I sort of wish I hadn't done that now, but I guess there's no changing history. Anyway, let's take a closer look at what I've got...
Starting in the back row, from left to right, we have what I believe is Mutagen Man. It's basically a hollow transparent shell with humanesque internal organs on the inside. Next is a Michaelangelo figure that, when you squeezed his legs together, his shell would open up and protective head, shoulder, and chest gear would pop up. He only suffered minor mutilation in the form of having his toes cut off with pruning shears. Next we have Street Shark Ripster. This didn't really belong to me, so much as my little brother found it outside one day. Still, it warranted being included in this picture. The middle row contains a tennis-themed A&W Bear, a Wendy's Kids Meal toy featuring Gonzo, a Cap'n Crunch pog slammer, a soccer-themed A&W Bear, and a Baby Fozzie toy that I want to say came from McDonalds and used to have a skateboard. If I'm wrong on this, I'm certain Syd can correct me. The front row is just a few accessories. There's have a can of Mutagen, Baxter Stockman's turtle swatter, and Mondo Gecko's skateboard and left leg. I have no idea what happened to the rest of Mondo, and you probably don't want to know either.
Note from Syd: The Fozzie toy was indeed part of a Muppet Babies Happy Meal toy set. However, he did not have a skateboard. Baby Kermit had the skateboard; Fozzie rode a wheeled rocking horse. The Gonzo toy was part of a Muppets From Space promotion and is called the Gonzo Spaceship Sparker.
So there you have it, a look into my childhood. There were a few toys I was hoping I'd magically find still in pristine condition, such as the Crash Test Dummies Crash Car that I got one Christmas. Unfortunately, it was very poorly made and I serious smashed the shit out of it. I hope I didn't come off as a complete nerd with this article either. I would have posted a picture of some of my SNES games, but they wouldn't really lend themselves to any interesting commentary aside from "Hey look, these are some of my SNES games!" Oh well, I hope someone out there remembers something on this list, especially those metric cards. But I'm highly doubtful that's going to happen.
Posted by: Valdronius
WILL THERE EVER BE A FALL CLEANING CRAPSTRAVAGANZA?