Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Retro Spins: Steve Winwood - Back In The High Life



Steve Winwood was no stranger to the music scene having been a part of major acts such as Traffic, Eric Clapton and more before as early as 1967. In 1977 Winwood released his first (self titled) debut. Unfortunately his career, while moderately successful, sputtered along for his first three albums.

After a four year hiatus, in June of 1986 Winwood released what would become his most popular album to date - Back in the High Life. The hit Higher Love charted the same month the album was released and worked its way all the way up to the number one spot by August of that same year. Though it started dropping down the charts immediately thereafter, it was joined in September of that same year by Freedom Spills, the second single from the album. Freedom would make it to the number twenty spot before beginning its decent back off the charts.

However, in February of the following year, another song from the album hit the charts - Finer Things. Though it made its way to the top ten by April of 1987, the song never reached number one and by May began its decent off the charts. This wouldn't be the last hit for Winwood from the album. Also in May of '87, the album title song, Back in the High Life stepped onto the charts making it all the way to number thirteen before slowly dropping off.

This heightened popularity for Winwood helped out his prior albums too as in October of 1987 the song Valerie (from his 1982 album Talking Back to the Night) debuted on the charts at number seventy-seven. It climbed all the way to number nine until it began fall from the charts through early 1988. It would be joined by the title track of the album, Talking Back to the Night and then by a song from Winwood's follow up album, Roll with It.

With so many hits from the album and a resurgence of interest in his prior work you would think the record as a whole would be amazing. Sadly, this isn't the case. The tempo stays relatively the same and the hits are really the only tracks to stand out. In fact, as I was listening to one of the songs - which at this point I don't even remember the title of - I found myself saying, "This is the kind of music I would expect to hear in a movie about a bar or while physically sitting at a bar." I probably can't explain what that means, but feel you would know what I mean if you experienced the album for yourself.

I'm actually kind of sad to say that no new tunes made it to my IPOD to join the songs which were already there; Higher Love, Back in the High Life and The Finer Things.

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Monday, June 18, 2018

The Three Musketeers (JusToys)



The Three Musketeers
JusToys
1993

Disney has always had a problem when it comes to producing blockbuster films. It seems they often think having big name actors attached is enough to turn a lifeless script into a hit. Sure, it may fill theater seats, but without a solid story they are often short lived and quickly forgotten.

The Three Musketeers just so happens to fall under all of this. Charlie Sheen, Kiefer Suttherland, Chris O'Donnell, Tim Curry and Rebecca De Mornay couldn't bring enough star power to the film to save it from the sinking ship it resulted in being. At a budget of $30,000,000.00 the return of a mere $53,898,845.00 resonated with the words box office failure.

 Aramis*Athos

The short lived film had an even shorter lived toy line which was produced in bendable figure fashion from JusToys in 1993. About the only thing going for this line is that one can complete a set of the Musketeers if they truly desired to...Unfortunately, not many people did (or do).

 D'Artagnan*Porthos

The figures were quickly shuffled to clearance bins where they continued to remain in stock even at the mere price of ninety-nine cents (or less). Stores couldn't give these things away.

Richeliieu*Cardback

These days the figures fair much better on secondary markets than they originally did on toy shelves. On average you can expect to pay about $10.00 for each one (mint on card). That's not a bad return on a line that was originally shunned to clearance bins.

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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Painted Memories: 88 Miles Per Hour!




Please share your own thoughts, memories and stories in the comment section.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

MotU Evil Horde



A nod to Brother Midnight... 


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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Retro Spins: Mr. Mister - Welcome To The Real World



Mr. Mister failed to draw much attention in 1984 when they released their first album, I Wear the Face. However, their follow up Welcome to the Real World released in November of 1985 changed all of that.

The single Broken Wings entered the charts in September of that same year, two months before the album even went on sale. Not only did the song reach number one by December of that same year, but it was joined on the charts by the albums second single, Kyrie. Merry Christmas Mr. Mister!

The two songs remained on the charts into 1986 where in January they passed each other as Kyrie continued its way up and Broken Wings was on its way out. Kyrie became Mr. Misters second number one hit by March of 1986 while Broken Wings fell off the charts.

Kyrie would be joined on the charts by the third single from the album Is It Love in March of '86 and much like Broken Wings and Kyrie, the two passed each other heading in opposite directions by April (Kyrie heading off the charts with Is It Love heading up them). Unfortunately for Is It Love, it would only reach the number eight spot before beginning its decent down the charts where it would disappear completely by June.

As a whole album, Welcome to the Real World is pretty good. In fact, I added a total of five (out of the ten) songs from it to my IPOD. Yes, Kyrie and Broken Wings are obviously two that made their way to it as were Is It Love, Black / White and Uniform of Youth.

Definitely a good treat for the ears.

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Monday, June 11, 2018

TikiMon (Mezco)



TikiMon
Mezco
2003

TikiMon! Yet another oddball entry from Mezco during its heydays of the new Millennium. There is honestly little to say about this line as even packaging really gives no insight as to what the overall premise is. "Full of fun and Polynesian Pop!" is really all you'll find on the back regarding the series.

The back of the package also showcases all the figures from series one (AKA the only series), but even then beyond telling you the character's names and what accessories each one comes with there is no concepts shared behind the line.

 Bomboo*Indo*Kali

For further information we actually had to seek out other websites in an effort to uncover the mystery. What we found was Toynk.com who seem to still have an abundance of stock on hand. On their site, they note the following about the line;

"Where is TikiMon Island? Basically in the middle of nowhere. Until now no human has ever seen a TikiMon which is good because they're usually getting into trouble."

Still not very insightful, but we're further then we were.

 Monsoon*Ungowa

Each figure stands approximately six inches high and comes packed in with its own unique accessories such as surfboards, shields and even parachutes. Each figure also features six points of articulation.

Prior to the line dissipating into thin air, Mezco produced two San Diego Comic Con exclusives. Unfortunately, since the figures were packaged in a blue non-see through package collectors were essentially blind bag buying and hoping for the best.


Ungowa (2004 SDCC Exclusive)

The line is definitely unique and has a cool factor to it. Unfortunately, it's the lack of any real premise behind it which gives it the "meh" factor. The world of toys isn't just about sculpting something that looks cool. It's about creating characters people want to learn about and collect as a result of that expanded interest from knowing about them. When you just throw a line out on the market and give it little to no thought, you end up with little to no reception.

Think of how much cooler these guys would be with an animated series behind them?

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Friday, June 8, 2018

With Apologies to Commentors



So apparently my e-mail account has stopped informing me when there were comments on my site, so I essentially haven't (until today) posted anyone's comments or responded - Because I didn't think there were any.

Sorry about that!

I found a ton of comments awaiting moderation when I clicked the dashboard through Blogger and have posted all the non-spam related ones and will respond soon.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Painted Memories: It's Only Forever





Please share your own thoughts, memories and stories in the comment section.

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Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Retro Spins: Run DMC - Raising Hell



Rap music and me are like grease and water. They just don't go together. I'm not big on heavy bass driven beats nor songs with a bunch of cursing and nonsensical lyrics behind it. So for me, it was odd I found myself listening to Run DMC's May 1986 album, Raising Hell. I had bought the album for one song - Walk This Way with Aerosmith and quite honestly I had no intentions of listening to anything other than that.

Well, let me tell you, I'm glad I did. Mind you, I'm no better enlightened in the world for having done so, nor will I be rushing out to buy up a bunch of 80's rap music albums. However, I can say there were some songs on there which stood out for me. I can also say as a whole the album flows rather nicely from track to track to keep you mentally invested.

It is unfortunately for the fact that the album flows so well that I honestly didn't pick up on too many tracks which stood out as singles which I wanted to add to my IPOD. I of course already had Walk This Way added to my shuffle list and added It's Tricky, Raising Hell and You Be Illin'.

The fact that I enjoyed the album did intrigue me enough to look up some 80's rap artists and along with that I found an interesting read on the Golden Age of Hip Hop on Wikipedia. Again, I'm not going to rush out and grab a bunch of rap albums, but I can say with all honesty I was entertained listening to this album. I can also appreciate how it helped to pave the way for rap music as a genre.

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Monday, June 4, 2018

Vintage Star Wars Board Games



Vintage Star Wars Board Games
Kenner, Toltoys and Parker Brothers
1978 - 1995

Ah, who doesn't love a good board game? Set up for twenty minutes, play for five, repack for another ten minutes, and repeat. So time consuming.

Okay, so we're not really big board game fans here at The Toy Box, but we do have to admit there is some charm to be found in the display factor of the games - Especially a lot of the ones from the 70's and 80's. Board games are like books. All they have is the cover and back blurb to hook you. As for what's between both covers, only dropping your cash will truly answer that question.

We all know the story about how Kenner really didn't have a lot of product ready for Christmas in 1978. We all know they sold an Early Bird kit of figures - AKA an empty box - Just to start selling something. However, action figures were only the tip of the iceberg for the company. They released numerous toys for the brand - Some of which included board games.

Today we'll look at several (if not all) of the Star Wars branded games released throughout the Trilogy.


STAR WARS

Kenner produced three games for Star Wars, each with its own theme, but yet same outcome where the player was required to eventually destroy the Death Star.

ESCAPE FROM DEATH STAR GAME

Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo and Chewbacca are trapped in the Death Star Trash Compactor. It's your challenge to help them escape to the freedom of the Rebel Base.

R2-D2 spins out your moves, but you must decide what passage ways to follow. The safe way in the long way, and time is running out. You must turn off the tractor beam and pick up a pair of secret plans. Will you take short cuts that risk encounters with the Force? You will if you're daring, and could be the first to board the Millennium Falcon, fight your way through TIE Fighters, and reach the rebel base to win!

DESTROY DEATH STAR GAME

You command a squadron of three X-Wing fighters and try to drop your proton torpedoes down the exhaust shaft of the Death Star before it can destroy Yavin IV! The spinner dictates movements and determines the results of the battles.

Watch out for Darth Vader! He can pop up to cause trouble, but don't worry. The Millennium Falcon is coming to the rescue!

ADVENTURES OF R2-D2 GAME

Experience the adventures of R2-D2, the true hero of the Rebellion!

Players take turns spinning and moving R2-D2 to the next colored circle along the adventure path. Watch out for the purple adventure circles that send you backwards, and try to get the to white adventure circles to move forward.

The first one to return to the Rebel Base on Yavin IV after destroying the Death Star wins!

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK

Kenner jumped straight into The Empire Strikes back with two new games, which oddly enough played in a very similar manner.

YODA THE JEDI MASTER GAME

Be the first player to become a Jedi Knight, defeat the Dark Side of the Force and win!

Travel to the Dagobah System where Yoda, the ancient Jedi Master, will teach you the ways of the Force. Acquire Jedi merit as you successfully accomplish the difficult tasks and trials Yoda sets for your training.

Once you've obtained sufficient merit as a Jedi, enter the Jedi Knight circle and out-spin the Dark Side of the Force to win!

HOTH ICE PLANET ADVENTURE GAME

Be the first player to acquire sufficient Force to battle and defeat Darth Vader!

Spin to pilot your Millennium Falcon around Hoth. There are incidents along the way, and battles for Force Cards with Imperial villains.

Plan your strategy in wagering Force cards and spinner against Boba Fett, Stormtroopers, Probots and AT-AT's. Once you have enough Force, you can enter the center of the board and challenge Darth Vader! The first player to master the Force and successfully out-spin Darth Vader wins!


RETURN OF THE JEDI

When Return of the Jedi rolled around the board games shifted from Kenner's hands to Parker Brothers. The company produced two games in correlation with the film.

BATTLE AT SARLACC'S PIT GAME

Your favorite Star Wars heroes need your help!

Luke Skwaylker, Princess Leia Organan, Han Solo and Chewbacca are being held captive by the evil Jabba the Hutt! They're on his Sail Barge, high above the dangerous sandpit where the monster Sarlacc lives.

To escape, you must defeat the Gamorrean Guards and the Powerful Nikto and Boba Fett by pushing them overboard into Sarlacc's waiting jaws. Collect Jedi points for each guard you defeat. Then try to overpower Jabba the Hutt.

The one with the most Jedi points at the end of the game is the winner!

WICKET THE EWOK GAME

In this enchanting game, you can join the tiny Wicket the Ewok as he looks for his favorite food. Romp through the forest of Endor with Wicket and his friends Kneesaa, Paploo and Latara as they collect berries, nuts, pears, mushrooms and wild honey too!

You'll travel on shaggy ponies and in rickety wagons. You'll even swing on hang-gliders. All this adventure is yours as you try to be the first Ewok home with all finve kinds of food!

HONORABLE MENTIONS

The end of the Trilogy didn't mark the end of Star Wars board games. With the resurgence of Star Wars in the late 1990's (though we personally didn't know it ever went away), so too came a big influence of new toys and merchandise.

The honorable mentions below are far from everything which was released, but rather just a couple of our personal favorites.

THE INTERACTIVE VIDEO BOARD GAME

Though most kids these days would look at their parents oddly if they whipped out a board game which also encompassed the now defunct VHS cassette, in the 90's this was the ultimate advancement in board game technology. A traditional cardboard game with a high tech video to accompany it. The Star Wars Interactive Video Game was certainly not the last to utilize this style of play. It was however one of the very last (VHS wise anyway).

The biggest charm to this game wasn't actually the game itself, but rather the VHS cassette which featured not only original footage from the first film, but also scenes which had been cut from the film. The cassette alone is worth getting if you're a collector of Star Wars home video.

ESCAPE THE DEATH STAR ACTION FIGURE GAME

Star Wars action figures were everywhere in the late 1990's, and big money for Kenner once again. Parker Brothers and Kenner teamed up to develop an all new Escape the Death Star game, this time incorporating two exclusive action figures as opposed to traditional game pieces.

For action figure collectors this was a must have at the time, and no, not for the game itself. The figures also came with several accessories such as blasters and lightsabers.

This wouldn't be the only game released during this time to incorporate actual action figures.

 IN CLOSING

Star Wars games are still readily in production these days. However, most of them are iterations of already well established games such as Risk, Monopoly, chess and more. It's sad in a way that many board company developers don't put much thought into originality these days, but we suppose the general idea is to have low development costs with high retail prices. No easier way to do this than just repaint a game which already exists.

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