Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Retro Spins: Monte Video And The Cassettes - Monte Video And The Cassettes



Monte Video and the Cassettes
Monte Video and the Cassettes
1983

One of the perks of living overseas as a child in the 80's was having the opportunity to be exposed to many other artists from the era who weren't worldwide successes. One such artist was Monte Video and the Cassettes who sang the song Shoop Shoop Diddy Wop Cumma Cumma Wang Dang - Yup, that's all one title. Now as children we found the song catchy for all of its "silly" words, but what we came to find out as we grew older was that it was actually about a guy - Monte - who was at a bar one day getting hit on by a guy in drag.

Okay, not exactly child's material, but a fun song nonetheless and memorable too. So memorable that when I began piecing together my collection of '80's music I knew I had to have this album. The problem was it's not very common nor readily available. It was also never released on CD. It was so uncommon on secondary markets that I actually started looking online for ways to purchase the MP3's. Of course this too turned up nothing as Monte Video and the Cassettes wasn't exactly an album most people had. Beyond finding the song Shoop Shoop (not typing out the whole thing again), searches were futile.

That's when I decided to get more creative. Rather than look for the album, I started looking for the man himself - Monte Video, aka Murray Grindlay. Not only did I find him, but I also found a published e-mail address to contact him. So I did.

I politely introduced myself, told him about how his song was a big part of my childhood, even if I didn't know what it was about at the time. I thanked him for his contribution to the era and asked if he knew of any way I could get the album because I simply couldn't find it. You know what he did? He gave it to me - All six tracks in MP3 format. It was awesome! That was a few years ago and I still remember those few days chatting back and forth with him very fondly.

Well, I'm happy to say that eventually as time went by I also managed to put my hands on an official vinyl version of the album which brings us to today's Retro Spin. Yeah, sure. I've listed to the album numerous times since Mr. Grindlay gave it to me. But, now it was my chance to hear it in all of its vinyl popping glory.

It still stands up to time and feels all the more nostalgic on vinyl. Of course Shoop Shoop is the stand out track from the album, but I also love Who's Calling, Hypnosis and You Can't Stop Me Now. It's 80's synth pop at its best!

The song Shoop Shoop Diddy Wop Cumma Cumma Wang Dang is still a great memory from my childhood. However, now I can also look back on my adult years and say, "Remember the time I actually spoke to Monte Video and he gave me the album personally?" I doubt I'll ever have another experience like that in my life.

These days Murray doesn't produce albums under the Monte Video moniker. Instead, he  spends a lot of his time writing jingles for commercials. You can check him out at his current site, HERE!

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Monday, July 30, 2018

Rosie the Riveter (Archie McPhee)



Rosie the Riveter
Archie McPhee
2017

If you recall my post from a couple weeks back, it was regarding some figures I found during my visit to Rocket Fizz a year ago. Well, this one is another I found during that trip - Rosie the Riveter. Unlike the prior figures which made their way home with me, and into a prize pack for one of my readers, Rosie the Riveter stayed right there on the shelf. At $19.99 I wasn't taking that plunge at all. This of course didn't stop me from snapping pictures.

Wow, Rosie the Riveter...Is this figure necessary? We get that it's a major iconic persona of World War II when women were called upon to enter the workplace, and we totally respect the importance of the message it sent during its time. But....A figure? In 2017?

Talk about something which is absolutely targeted at a .000000001% audience - Especially at twenty bucks a pop. Are there many WWII vets (male or female) really looking for this thing? Or is this targeted at WWII history buffs?

Whoever this figure was intended for, it would be hard to admit that it isn't somewhat cool. Look at it. It totally looks like Rosie in her iconic pose...Sort of. The limited articulation certainly hurts this aspect, and quite frankly doesn't help justify the price. If this thing was fully possible to the point you could make it look like the actual poster then twenty bucks wouldn't be such a hard pill to swallow.

We keep coming back to the price point, don't we? It seriously is a deal breaker. This is the kind of figure you'd expect to find in a bin at Sheetz in the middle of a deserted highway for five bucks at the most. Something to throw at the kids in the back seat in a vain effort to keep them quite for at least another five to ten miles.

The package is actually the best thing this figure has going for it. It's a uniquely shaped box, and features a brief yet thorough history lesson of the era on the back. The addition of vintage photos is a nice added touch...Unless that's Photoshop, at which case it's a fair quality ruse*.

*"You're cunning attempt to trick me" - Randal Graves.

 


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Thursday, July 26, 2018

I Love It When A Plan Comes Together



Well...It was inevitable...


It started with B.A. Baracus, went on to "Howling Mad" Murdock to naturally the remaining two, Hannibal and Face. I love it when a plan comes together.

Keeping in time with the Murdock figure I picked up, it made more sense to just get the figures on card to ensure they had all of their accessories. At roughly $30.00 per carded figure and the same amount loose / complete, why not? I'll honestly probably go back to ebay and track down a brand new B.A. just to get one with tight knee joints - Or a loose / incomplete one with tight joints. Haven't decided yet how I'll tackle this.

Until then, let's have a closer look at these two.


Distressed packages, but still showing all that great detail. I also noticed the back of the package was different that that of the one I got with Murdock. While that one showed the four team members, this one for Hannibal shows the vehicles, playset and villains.


Let's tear him open and have a closer look.


The sculpt passes for George Peppard, but I honestly wouldn't know who it was if I had no clue about the toy line. I'm also not too keen on the blemish on the back of the jacket when the figure was fresh out of the package.


Like all the other figures, he comes with a handful of accessories. Because I've honed my skills on putting these together for this line I was able to do so relatively quickly. However, much like the blemish, or perhaps even more so than it, I was really annoyed to find the top handle of the M-60 was broken in the package. You can't see it in the photo below, but I assure you, it's broken.


All of these downers aside, it's a solid figure. P.S. you can see the broken handle in the first photo below.





I do have to say, I find it interesting how Galoob put a ton of detail into B.A.'s tool box with all the tiny bits and pieces and then skimped out on this with the accessories on the backpacks for the remaining characters. All of their accessories are sculpted in place. The ones in particular on Hannibal's pack would have been fun to play with - Especially if the figure came with a launcher to fire them out of.



On to Face.


I ended up getting this one relatively cheap because the package looks like it's been chewed on and ripped apart. Not a problem for me since all the pieces were confirmed to be there and I was going to be opening it.

I also noted it too had a different card back from that of Hannibal and Murdock. This one not only included all four members, but also Amy Allen.


Face, unlike Hannibal, doesn't pass as a decent sculpt of the character.


One thing I didn't notice when buying this figure (and which may have contributed to its lower price) was the blue gash like line down the left side of his face.


Again there were the accessories which I took to putting together like a champ.


I call "bull" on the uzi which is supposed to perfectly fit in the figure's right hand. There is no way that large grip is fitting through that teeny tiny hole in his fist. I don't care what the picture from the package shows.


Told ya so...


...Not even close.

Oh well, let's have a look at him from all sides decked out.





Overall, I like the figures from this line. However, I have to be honest and say I'm not a fan of the accessories. Weapons which don't fit in their hands and backpacks for the sake of having backpacks don't do it for me. It would have been somewhat better if the team had a van produced for them. This way they could at least be displayed (or played with) in that fashion. Unfortunately Galoob only produced one for the 3 3/4 inch line. It's as if the larger figures were an afterthought. This is all the more sadder because the 5 1/2 inch line at least attempted to look like The A-Team while the smaller ones looked like generic / off brand G.I. Joe figures.

Buyer's remorse? Yeah, kind of. A little anyway. But that won't stop me from displaying them for the next however many years I've got left.

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Painted Memories: It Can't Rain All The Time





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

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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Yay...New Toys!



Today brought tidings of new toys! Two to be exact.

First up came from a trip to a local Target. While I don't normally buy "new" toy lines, this figure called to me in a big way.


I loved DuckTales growing up and still do to this day. In fact, I wish someone out there would release the final episodes of the original series which never made it to DVD from Shout Factory. But, that's a gripe for another day.

The packaging for this figure is super sweet. I really like the artwork on both the front and back. Oops, here's the back.


I want to say the artwork is straight out of one of the show's episodes, but at my old age I honestly don't remember at this point. It's been years since I've actually seen an episode of DuckTales.

Besides being Scrooge McDuck, what really drew me to give into the temptation and buy this figure was that it didn't appear to be from a set per se. On the peg were Chip and Dale from the Rescue Rangers as well as Baloo from TaleSpin, but nothing else pertaining to DuckTales. Since it appeared to be a one and done purchase I went ahead and dove in...Obviously.

Well, I'm not one for keeping my figures sealed in carbonite, so let's crack this bad boy open and take a look. 


Front and back, the look of the figure is spot on to his cartoon iteration. This is without a doubt Scrooge McDuck from the top of the top hat all the way down to the spats on his feet. The sculpt is superb and the color of all the clothing right on the button.

The figure is a tight squeeze on a standard Star Wars figure size action figure stand, but it can work. Unfortunately, due to the size of the figure, he can be a little off balance on such a small stand. Personally, I feel Funko really missed an opportunity with the figure to include a stand with it. I immediately thought when looking at it through the package, "How cool would it be if he came with a large dime action figure stand to give a nod to Scrooge's luck dime...and get a stand with it?" Oh well. Wishful thinking I suppose.


The figure has decent articulation, but not the best. The head is on a ball joint as are the shoulders. The elbows bend and the legs swivel at the waist. While this makes for minimal poses, the default stance is fine for display. I don't necessarily need my Scrooge McDuck contorted in an action pose.

I do want to zoom in a bit on the head though and capture that magnificent detail in the spectacles. I don't think I've ever seen a figure with actual glasses that were sculpted vs. painted, let alone ones that were transparent.


Scrooge comes with a couple of accessories; a cane and a money bag.

While I initially thought the cane was too short, a quick glance at some photos of the character with a comparison to the actual cane and figure proved me wrong. However, I am a little disappointed that the wrists don't swivel so you can at least have him holding the cane by the top as if to be walking with it.


You can somewhat achieve this look by turning the arm outward a bit. I suppose it looks okay.


My favorite accessory out of the bunch was the money bag. I love the look and shape of it. It's kind of cool. It reminds me of the scene from Mickey's Christmas Carol where Scrooge is tossing money sacks at Badger and Mole.


Overall, I really like this figure. It gets bonus points for being a one off, because quite honestly at $9.99 a piece I probably would have walked away had this been a series of figures based on DuckTales. Don't get me wrong, I still would have thought it was cool. I just wouldn't have bought it.

The second figure I got came in the mail before actually heading out to target. This one is 100% Tony's fault. First he got me all riled up about owning a B.A. Baracus figure. Then I decided since I had B.A. I had to have my second favorite character from the show... 



..."Howling Mad" Murdock.

This one of course came from ebay because...well...I don't know of any retail stores selling the original Galoob A-Team figures anymore.


When tracking this figure down I learned three important things.

1) Murdock is the rarest of all four A-Team figures.

2) As such, Murdock is the most expensive of all four A-Team figures.

3) Sellers on ebay selling Murdock loose don't tend to have all the accessories.

At the time of my purchase, nobody was selling a complete / loose Murdock which meant if I was dead set on having one (which I was), I was going to have to up size my purchase to a carded one. Mind you, those were fairly limited too. If I recall, there were only two in the US and another from the Netherlands.

I ended up paying $63.00 before shipping (closer to $70.00 after). That was well above what I was expecting to have to pay for this figure. Especially considering the remaining team members go for $30.00 to $40.00 carded.

Of course, being the type of collector I am, I opened this bad boy up and immediately cut its resale value by a third. Oh well. Not like I'm going to sell it.

Let's have a look.


Right out of the package, the figure looks okay. He'd definitely got the clothing of Murdock...


...But what's with that face? 



I get that Murdock was crazy in the show (that's what I liked about him), but this guy looks creepy. Like hanging around a playground creepy. The way he's glancing off to the side makes him look like he's up to something shady and don't even get me started on the grin. So many inappropriate "jokes" which I don't want to be flagged for come to mind.

Let's move on - Quickly.

The figure comes with a boatload of accessories...and not one bit of instructions for how any of it goes together. 



There's a backpack, a gun, binoculars, a hook, a piece of string, and three pieces of rubber, one of which is crumpled into a ball from being in the package for thirty-five years. Dang, that's a long time. Now that I think about it, this figure didn't have any sticky residue on it, which is common with figures left in packages (or bags).

Well, let me see what I can do with all of these bits and pieces.


Okay, the string gets tied around the hook to make a grappling hook. That one was easy - As it was visible on the package. What wasn't easy was how large my hands have gotten in my adult years. Tying string around small hooks isn't easy. As you can see in the photo, there's quite a bit of leeway on the tied end. It was the only way I could get my chubby digits to make the knot.

As a side note, it's typically the grappling hook which is missing from the loose figures listed as "near complete" on ebay.



The smaller rubber piece was the strap for the binoculars.



The larger was for the M-16. It was a beast getting the one end connected to the barrel. Just as I was about to give up for fear of breaking either the gun or strap, it popped on.

Sadly, the gun won't fit into Murdock's hand. Well, his right one anyway. The figure (all the figures actually) has a little hole in his right fist shaped hand and the handle of the gun is too thick. It may fit in his left hand without issue, but for display purposes I'm going to leave it over his shoulder.



The crumpled up mess of rubber and backpack hooked together to form the completed backpack with straps which went over the figure's head and strapped around his chest. Once again those large fingers became a bit of a problem because the straps had to be "popped" into place over tiny little pegs.

Big fingers aside, it was easier than I thought to deduce what each piece was for. Especially once I started putting common sense into practice and eliminating pieces. Believe it or not, I actually put the backpack together first, then the binoculars, then the gun and finally the grappling hook.


The figure is a little top heavy with all of the gear attached to it, but I'll fix that with an action figure stand. Additionally, and oddly out of all things, the head is a little wobbly. I don't think I've ever seen something like that with a figure straight out of the package. Overtime, sure, but not brand new - Regardless of the age of it.



With that, half of The A-Team are assembled. Maybe the two of them will go on a mission together to seek out Face and Hannibal...But not Amy Allen. She wasn't really part of the team. Plus, if you look at her figure she has a really creepy head / neck thing going on.

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Retro Spins: Rocky Burnette - The Son Of Rock And Roll



Rocky Burnette
The Son of Rock and Roll
1980

Here's an obscure one for you this week - Rocky Burnette's Son of Rock and Roll. There's a little confusion around this album as many sites disagree on when it was released. Some say 1979 while others say 1980. I'm going to go ahead and go with 1980. The album actually has two dates on it - '79 and '80. However, why would it have 1980 on it if this wasn't a valid year? Get my logic?

Rocky really only had one hit and truthfully it's not one many people know about. Tired of Toein' the Line charted in May of 1980. While it made its way all the way to the number eight spot by July, it quickly descended down the charts from there - Disappearing by August. While Burnette would go on to release five more albums between 1982 and 2006, he never emerged beyond his one hit wonder.

To this day the album Son of Rock and Roll remains out of print and doesn't appear to have ever been released on CD. In fact, Rocky Burnette CD's seem rare in general. I've only seen his 1996 and 2006 albums somewhat readily available on CD and his 1983 album once in this format.

When I first started listening to the album it sounded vaguely familiar - voice wise, but I couldn't place it at first. After about three or four tracks it finally hit me. It honestly sounded like John C. Rielly's character, Dewey Cox - Only not in a comedic sort of way.

Most of the songs on the album aren't bad, but sadly they don't stick out either. I wouldn't hate hearing this album again, but I also probably wouldn't go out of my way to do so. I did end up adding two additional tracks to my IPOD beyond Tired of Toein' the Line. Those songs were Angel in Chambray and Clowns From Outer Space. Out of all the mediocre tracks, they stood out the most for me.

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Monday, July 23, 2018

Supaidaman (Japanese Spider-Man) (Popy Chogokin)



Supaidaman
Popy Chogokin
1978

Let's go back a year ago. Fellow blogger Dex of AEIOU...and Sometimes Why posted about a vintage Japanese television show called Supaidaman by Toei. This was in fact the Japanese version of Spider-Man. Enthralled by the concept I immediately struck out on a quest to locate the series in DVD format. I found it, and immediately about faced it to walk away. I wasn't about to pay $700.00 to $1,000.00 US for it. No way, no how.

Wait, hold the phone - What? A Japanese Spider-Man television series? Yeah, that's right. As the internet rumors go, supposedly Japanese production company Toei and Marvel of America had an agreement which allowed both companies to use each other's entities however they saw fit. Apparently for the Japanese this meant having a Spider-Man character which also piloted a large mech named Leopaldon, and at times also sported a machine gun. Sounds kinda cool, don't it?

Based on Dex's post, and what I could find on Youtube - Which was a handful of episodes from the show, I had an itch which needed scratching. Fortunately I was able to find two related toys from the series which somewhat filled the void the television series now created. Check 'em out!


Aren't these hot?


Supaidaman toys are definitely difficult to track down on Western shores, so if this is something you're looking for you're going to need to dig deep among your fellow collectors for any leads.

On a side note, Dex's site is now seven years old (as of July 13th). Stop by and give him a read, and wish him a lucky number seven.

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