Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Retro Spins: A-Ha - Hunting High and Low



A-Ha
Hunting High and Low
1985

Debut and break through album all in one. A-Ha didn't so much step into the limelight so much as they kicked the door in to the studio and rip the roof off so the sun could shine directly down upon them. Hunting High and Low is a fantastic and I dare say essential 80's album that if you haven't heard you need to.

The album launches right into it with Take on Me and from there keeps smacking you in the face with one after the other of great tracks. Granted none of them seemed to outshine the first track in terms of chart toppers, but don't let that discount them.

Many people consider the band to be a one hit wonder because they only tend to remember Take on Me. While it's true the track charted in July of 1985 and reached number one in October, it wasn't exactly their last hit. The Sun Always Shines on TV would also debut in November of that same year and make its way to number twenty by February of the following year. Cry Wolf from their follow up album also charted in 1987. Okay, fine neither was as popular or successful as their first hit, but still it's not like it was the only thing they had going for them. Let's also not forget their fantastic opening title track to 1987's Bond film, The Living Daylights.

What's interesting to note for me personally is that when I first listened to this album a couple of years ago I actually turned it off in disgust. However, when revisiting it for my Retro Spins post it had quite the opposite effect. I loved the thing from start to finish. So much so that I didn't even bother picking out single tracks to add to my Ipod. I ended up just adding the whole thing - All ten tracks. Granted as time goes by and I hear some of the songs again I may end up whittling this down.

The aspect that really drew me in was the voice of singer Morten Harket. Even on songs that didn't necessarily catch my attention beat or overall musically wise still sucked me in with his almost haunting and wide ranged voice. It's as if the songs were echoing in my head calling to me. I know, sounds weird in a way.

I would definitely recommend this album to any 80's music lover or someone looking to find a great album overall.

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Monday, November 26, 2018

Famous Type Figure - George Lucas (Hot Toys)



George Lucas is no stranger to being immortalized in plastic. He's found his way to three different action figures in various Star Wars waves produced by Hasbro throughout the new Millennium. However, all of these have been portrayed as some form of character; an X-Wing Pilot, a Stormtrooper or alien from another world. To date Hasbro has never produced a simple George Lucas figure in his iconic jeans and plaid shirt which fans across the globe have come to recognize him.


Jorg Sacul*George Lucas in Stormtrooper Disguise
Lucas Collector's Set

In 2000, Hot Toys helped collectors out in that department, but in a hush-hush secretive way. They released a line entitled Famous Type Figure and inside the box was a very familiar face in a very familiar looking outfit, but with no name.

Yes, to get around any legal obligations, Hot Toys didn't come forward and outright call the figure, George Lucas. However, keen eyed fans were quick to catch on to what and who it was.

The limited run of figures were quickly swooped up and sank into toydum obscurity where not many people would come to know about it. This in turn has made it one hot collectible to fans of Star Wars or in general the work of George Lucas.

If you were to find one these days, you can expect to pay upwards of $700.00 to $1,000.00 - mint in the box. What's interesting is that they seem to show up in clusters. Meaning when you do find one, you'll find about three or four of them, then they'll disappear once again into obscurity for a little while before popping up again.

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Thursday, November 22, 2018

Painted Memories: Ain't No Cure For The Summertime Blues




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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Retro Spins: Eurythmics - Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)



Eurythmics
Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)
1983

I respect and appreciate what the 1983 Eurythmics album, Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) is attempting to do. Its paving the way (among other artists of the era) for the synthpop new wave style which was quickly approaching in the early 80's.

The album was not only a commercial success for the band, but also their break through album they desperately needed. The title track hit hard in 1983, debuting on the charts in May and vaulted all the way to the number one spot (after remaining in number 2 for four consecutive weeks) in September of that same year.

As the track began its decent down the charts, it was joined by Love is A Stranger which debuted at number 81 (also in September). Unfortunately this would only go to number 29 before dropping back down and eventually off the charts.

Though this would be the last chart topper from the album, the Eurythmics were just getting started. Their follow up album Touch, also released in 1983 (November), began hitting the charts by early 1984.

Lennox herself was praised for her stage performances and music videos which showcased the singer assuming both a male and female persona. My personal favorite is the 1984 Grammy performance of Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This). In fact, this particular award show is memorable for a lot of reasons and I highly recommend you watch the entire show (or at least the music guests). It's fantastic!

I digress though. Let's get back to the album at hand.

No, I wouldn't say there are any hits on this album beyond the title track. However, it's not bad as a whole. The album flows well from track to track and as I said above, I appreciate what it was doing for the new wave synthpop era.

There are decent songs to be found on this album and I did add a few to my itunes 80's mix. However, with that said, I didn't add these tracks to my Ipod itself because I can't honestly see myself actively wanting to hear them. These songs included; Jennifer, This is the House and Somebody Told Me.

Overall it's not a bad album. It's just not one with many songs with high replay value for me personally. But, that's just my opinion, and like all my Retro Spin posts, I would never expect anyone to take my word on any album. Listen to them for yourself and make your own decision.

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Monday, November 19, 2018

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier



Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
Galoob
1989

I always say Star Trek V: The Final Frontier is my favorite and people always look at me like I'm crazy. Admittedly I'm no major fan of the Trek. I like the six...Well, five original movies (the first one is painful to sit through), but never got into the original series or spin off shows / movies. So why do I like number five so much? It's simple really. Out of all of the films, it's the one which seems to embrace the original premise of the show - To boldly go where no man has gone before. It brings back the spirit of exploration and seeking out the great beyond - To the point where even Kirk embraces the quest of Sybok out of the shear excitement of the adventure.

Galoob attempted to capitalize on the film in 1989 by releasing a handful of figures (statues really) based on some of the characters. Sadly, like so many Trek toy lines before it, it failed to find a foothold in toy isles. No surprise considering the general consensus was that the film was awful.

Kirk

Spock

Bones

Sybok

Klaa

These days the figures remain relatively unpopular. You can get a set of all five in the box for as little as $50.00. Unfortunately the real challenge is finding a seller who seems to be on the same page with this. We've seen a ton of people trying to get over a hundred dollars for each one...Um....Good luck if you're that guy!

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Thursday, November 15, 2018

Painted Memories: Trash Can Buddies




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

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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Retro Spins: Chaka Khan - I Feel For You



Chaka Khan
I Feel For You
1984

Chaka Khan's I Feel For You has been a staple of 80's greatest hits albums since it first entered the charts in September of 1984, but nobody really says much about the album itself. So I ask, what's the inside scoop with it?

While I Feel For You may be Khan's most popular hit to date, the truth of the matter is she didn't write it. Rather, it's an original song from Prince which appear on his 1979 self titled album in a much slower format. As much as I like Prince I have to admit that Khan's rendition is far superior and featured notable artists such as Grandmaster Melle Mel (considered to be one of the pioneers of rap music) and Stevie Wonder (who pretty much everyone knows for his contributions to Motown and of course some hits of the 80's).

I Feel For you was released in October of 1984 and though it featured numerous singles, I honestly had never heard any of them other than the title track. However, this is no surprise since this would be the only song to come from the singer which she is typically remember for by most people.

The title track climbed up to the number three spot by November of 1984 and held the position for three consecutive weeks before descending down. Through the fire debuted on the charts in April of 1985, but disappeared the following week. It would be the last track from the album to chart.

Despite the album having been around over thirty years, 2018 was the first time I sat down and listed to it from start to finish. The verdict - Honestly, not very good. The album has a very downbeat temp for the first five tracks and sounds like something you'd try to tune out at a Vegas casino playing over the muzak system. It crawls through this adult contemporary style from song to song...

...Then track six hits with I Feel For You and the albums tempo changes completely to a little more upbeat. However, nothing really seems to stand out beyond the title track. It was disappointing in a way because I really expected something great here.

Overall, I was happier when it all ended versus when I was listening to it. In fact, when I looked at the CD cover and then at the player after what seemed like an hour of the music droning on I said out loud, "This is only track two?!?!" It was miserable to sit through this album.

I have no desire to hear anything else from Chaka Khan and quite honestly I don't think I could even stomach hearing I Feel For You ever again because it would just remind me of how terrible this album was.

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Monday, November 12, 2018

Stan Lee Passes Away At Age 95



It was announced recently comic book legend Stan Lee has passed away at age 95. I definitely have more on this I have to say, but right now I'm in such shock, I just can't. This is a sad day.

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Fantastic Mr. Fox (Funko)



Fantastic Mr. Fox
Funko
2014

With the exception of the Willy Wonka series of books, we're honestly not to familiar with the written works of Roald Dahl. So we were actually kind of surprised when we started looking into the characters for the Funko toy line that they actually date back to 1970 when they were featured in the book of the same name. Of course, it doesn't helpt that we also haven't seen the movie.

Surprisingly, the story seems rather violent in nature for a kids book with story elements such as a fox who's tail gets blown off, a main character who kills livestock left and right for food and overall a very violent tone. It was surprising to find the film was rated PG.

Though the film was released in 2009, Funko produced this series of four figures in 2014 and with them found mild success among fans.

Mr. Fox

It's amazing to see the amount of detail and articulation which went into the series. Then again, Funko has always been a company with their sights locked firmly on quality.

Rat

Kylie

Ash

Though the figures are readily available on secondary markets, the considerable price difference between each one may shy most collectors away. Mr. Fox can cost you well over a hundred dollars. While Ash won't cost you nearly as much, you can still expect to pay about $40.00. Kylie averages out around $15.00 and Rat bottoms out the pack around $8.00. Why the drastic price difference between each one? We can't say. We would think Funko would have produced a fair amount of at least the main character from the series making him the most commonly available. If you know, drop us a line.

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Thursday, November 8, 2018

Painted Memories: Finkle and Einhorn




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Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Retro Spins: Falco - 3



Falco
3
1985

It's no easy task getting people in predominantly English speaking countries to list to your music when it's of a foreign language. It's even more so difficult to hit the charts of said countries. Falco did both.

Despite his homeland hit, Der Kommissar, Falco was struggling to find the success and popularity he sought. As a result, he began broadening his music to incorporate English lyrics. His hope - To gain the audience of folks in the USA, UK and other such predominant English speaking countries. The result? A number one hit, fame, fortune and disappointment.

Falco released Falco 3 in October of 1985 and waited in anticipation to see the fruits of his labor pay off. In February of 1986, Rock Me Amadeus debuted on the charts at seventy-nine and from there the singer's life changed drastically. The song flew to number one in a matter of weeks and stayed there for three consecutive weeks.

As the song remained in the top ten during April of that same year, Vienna Calling made its debut at number seventy. The second single didn't fare as well, only making its way to number eighteen before drifting back down.

By July, Falco was off the charts the charts completely in the US and didn't return despite his every effort with follow up albums between 1986 and 1998. He never again found the success he originally had with Rock Me Amadeus.

While Falco unfortunately was killed in a car accident in February of 1998, he continues to have albums put out on his behalf posthumously. Sadly, none of those have found any commercial success outside of German speaking countries.

The album is a pretty good compilation of tracks. Rock Me Amadeus and Vienna Calling are far from the only hits you can find here. America, Jeanny and Manner Des Westens equally stand up to the level Amadeus set. In fact, they may even be better. Granted, I highly recommend not reading any of the translated lyrics for any of the songs as they certainly don't come across as interesting when you actually know what is being said. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

One of the things which was important for me when locating and buying this album was getting the specific version I owned as a kid. See, while the German release of the album includes all the same tracks (theoretically), the US versions of Rock Me Amadeus and Vienna Calling are different mixes. Because I was accustomed to hearing the Salieri mix of Amadeus and the Metternich Arrival mix for Vienna I definitely wanted to have these versions on the CD. At the time I was in the market for this CD this was actually proving to be a difficult task. However, these days the album seems more common.

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Monday, November 5, 2018

Star Wars: The Black Series - 40th Anniversary (Hasbro)



Star Wars: The Black Series - 40th Anniversary
Hasbro
2017

Blah, blah, blah, Star Wars. We've seriously touched on so many Star Wars lines at this point is there really anything more we can say about the subject matter beyond, "Hey, here's yet another toy line?" We'll give it a try, but apologize in advance if we start repeating ourselves if we start repeating ourselves.

2017 saw the official 40th anniversary of Star Wars and with it Hasbro came at Star Wars fans with an all new six inch line. What initially started out as an homage to the original twelve back series of 3 3/4 inch figures quickly fizzled into yet another sudden stop line. After just fourteen figures, Hasbo pulled the plug and moved on yet again to the newest film in the franchise, The Last Jedi.

R2-D2*Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi

This was honestly one of the few (new) Star Wars lines we were looking forward to personally collecting. Unfortunately between sparse product being available and the high buy in price not only in retail fashion but more so secondary markets we ended up skipping it. The only figures we ever found at local toy stores were Princess Leia, Darth Vader and the GameStop exclusive R5-D4. Beyond that, nothing. Considering the line was unceremoniously cancelled, we probably dodged a bullet as it would have been yet another incomplete line.

Han Solo*Luke Skywalker

The real shame here is that these figures are far from undesirable. The sculpts are some of the best we've seen in a while. In conjunction with the fun figures never before available in six inch fashion this truly was a highly desired line - At least by us. Let's not forget that fantastic vintage style cardback.

Princess Leia Organa*Chewbacca

So what happened here? Why did Hasbro dump what could have been its most popular line in the longest time? Furthermore, where was the initial stock of product? Unfortunately, nobody really knows. Midway through wave two, collectors found themselves with cancelled orders and undelivered product via channels such as Entertainment Earth. The line simply dried up and vanished literally overnight.

Death Squad Commander*Jawa

Fortunately for fans the second wave did at least see a limited release (somewhere). The figures can still be found via secondary markets and fortunately have not skyrocketed in price just yet - Or rather at least as of this writing.

Sand People*C-3PO

For us, there was at least some form of light at the end of the tunnel. The 40th Anniversary line reminded us just how much we loved the original vintage figures and helped to fuel our desire to track them all down. Readers of The Toy Box have probably already seen those posts for Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi and Power of the Force.

Stormtrooper

Still, there's that underlying hint of disappointment and truthfully is the leading factor in why we collect so few "new" toy lines these days. Too many feel abandoned and as such incomplete. Just as you fully engross yourself into a line you're left with it being cancelled. We've seen this so many times that quite frankly it's just easier to ignore new toys or wait until the line has some "meat" to it before taking the plunge. However, this too can have an adverse effect of certain figures which become rarer and skyrocket on secondary markets. Either way it seems like a no win situation for collectors.

Darth Vader

It also didn't help that the line was made even more so difficult to track down by way of having the ever annoying variable of exclusive figures thrown into the mix. Remember the good old days when figures were released in stores - You know, all of them, and the only challenge you had was deciding which one out of the fifteen to twenty different ones you would settle for when your parents said, "Pick one." We really miss those days. Toy stores these days really aren't fun anymore and more often than not simply lead to disappointment.

When was the last time you walked into one and actually found the figure you were looking for? How many trips did it take you?

Luke Skywalker (X-Wing Pilot) Celebration Orlando Exclusive
R5-D4 GameStop Exclusive

There was another revelation for us from our experience with this line. One that actually has been fueling a lot of our buying habits as of late. That revelation - We no longer want to collect current toy lines. Instead, we're going to focus on collections which have come and gone.

Between limited product hitting toy shelves, lines being cancelled at a whim and in general the thrill of the hunt being dead (or more so accurately stated - futile) we simply no longer have any interest. Our efforts are better focused on lines we loved from the 80's which while more costly (in some cases) can still be found in abundance (somewhat) with little more effort than the click of a mouse button.

The Toy Box will still be around and yes we'll still continue to post about great toys which have come and gone. We just won't necessarily be collecting them personally.

Okay...So that didn't turn out to be too bad of an article (if we do say so ourselves).

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Thursday, November 1, 2018

Painted Memories: You've Lost That Loving Feeling




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

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