Thursday, September 20, 2018

Painted Memories: Choose The Right Finger

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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Retro Spins: Pretty Poison - Catch Me I'm Falling

Pretty Poison
Catch Me I'm Falling

I've always been a fan of Pretty Poison's Catch Me (I'm Falling) (the song), but had honestly never heard anything else from the group.

While the album (of the same name) was released in 1988 (oddly enough nobody seems to know the month), the single Catch Me (I'm Falling) started flying up the charts by September of 1987. By December it had already reached the top ten, but sadly by January of '88 was already beginning its descent.

Pretty Poison had a second hit chart in April of '88. However, the track only peaked at number thirty-six before drifting off the charts. It would be the last "hit" for the band and as a result of not many people knowing the song the group remains in one hit wonder status.

As for the album - Well, it's just not that memorable. A lot of the songs sound the same and while some are listenable, they're not necessarily memorable. It's because of this I really didn't find anything beyond the hit Catch Me (I'm Falling) to throw on my IPOD. A shame as I was really expecting to be somewhat impressed with the album based on how good the aforementioned song is. 

Not really much more to say beyond that.

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Monday, September 17, 2018

Space Channel 5 (Palisades)

Space Channel 5

Before their were guitar controllers, there was Space Channel 5 - A game from Sega developed for their Sega Dreamcast System...Which coincidentally was their last video game console to date (and later for the Sony Platstation 2).

The game involved the character Ulala who the player controlled in an effort to groove and rescue hostages as she stopped the attacking enemy. As the character calls out commands, it is up to the player to repeat these commands via inputs on their controller.

Critically the game was highly praised by reviewers and players who noted the game as incredibly fun. Even those who stated that the game wasn't necessarily up to par graphically wise for its time of release still couldn't deny the fun nature of the game.

Prior to going out of business, Palisades produced a very short lived lineup of action figures based on the game - Most of which were versions of Ulala.

Of course many know the eventual downfall to the company was the numerous lawsuits brought against it for taking money under the table and not paying its bills / design teams. A definite disappointment considering the company was producing the highly popular Muppets line at the time all of this went down.

Speaking of lawsuits, Lady Miss Kier of the band Deee-Lite sued Sega over the release of the game. She claimed Sega had approached her prior to development to use her likeness and also a person she used to adopt during her career where she wore knee-high boots, short skirts and a pink pony tail. She also alleged Sega had approached her to use her likeness and music in the game, but that she declined the offer of $16,000.00. Her claim stated that despite declining Sega's offer, the company proceeded to use her likeness.

There may be some validity to that claim

Despite the clear resemblance in the above photo (at least to us), Kier lost her case against Sega and ended up having to pay over $600,000.00 for their legal fees.

In 2008 Kier would have another run in with Sega, but this time by way of actually allowing them to use her song Groove is in the Heart for their game Samba de Amigo. The song was ironically acted out in the game by Ulala from Space Channel 5.

Palisades were big fans of making their lunchbox exclusive figures which could only be gotten by joining their "fan club". The Space Channel 5 line saw it's own released exclusive in this nature featuring a black and red suited Ulala.

For those looking for the figures you can find them readily available via secondary markets. They are also relatively cheap. A full carded set can be grabbed for as little as $50.00. Unfortunately, the exclusive lunchbox version is another story. It is incredibly scarce and as such we can't even begin to estimate a price. For those on the hunt for the actual Sega Dreamcast game, you can get this for around three bucks.

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Sunday, September 16, 2018

It's Almost September 30th!

Is Kathleen Kennedy going to be fired as many suspect? I don't know, but in anticipation of that glorious day, I've gone ahead and started celebrating by updating her "proud" shirt for her.

Disney's fiscal year ends September 30th, and many people sit in anticipation of her being let go. We'll see what happens.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

G.I. Joe: The Card And Dice Game

Have you played the original G.I. Joe: The Card and Dice Game? It's a ton of fun and so simple. The game is designed for one or two players, which means solo missions can still be had!

Each person chooses either the Joe or Cobra team (or the single player takes both decks), shuffles the cards of each deck, and lays them face up in front of them. In addition to the deck, each player is provided a designated dice (or both dice to a single player), green for the Joe team and red for Cobra.

The game is played out in a "war" like fashion, but rather than relying on a number printed on the card to designate who has the highest, this is determined by the dice. The premise is still the same - Be the last player with cards remaining in their deck.

The card at the top of the deck is your current character. Simultaneously role the dice, and the player with the highest dice roll wins. The player with the lower number discards their card to a separate pile, and the player with the highest keeps theirs in play. Continue to roll the dice until one player has depleted all of their cards.

It's so much fun, and can be played virtually anywhere! It's also great for kids and adults of all ages!

Unfortunately, the downside to the game is you're not going to find it on store shelves...Or anywhere for that matter. Why? Because it's a game I invented.

For those of you who have read my Joe posts, you may have caught me mentioning numerous times how in my early teen years I still somewhat continued to play with my Joe figures. Not in a sense that I would set them up all over the house and play out an imaginary story with them. Rather, a simpler game where I separated the Joe and Cobras into two piles, then picked one from each pile at random and rolled a dice for each team to see who the winner was. Sound familiar? You know, like a little aforementioned card game above?

As I was sitting in my toy room, I found myself wanting to play with my figures, but not in a way that would result in people calling out my sanity. This resulted in me grabbing a pair of dice and an empty box, and just sitting in front of the display shelf playing out my childhood game.

When I finished, I thought to myself, "That was still a lot of fun, but how can I make this game something I could do wherever I wanted to?" Thus, the above cards were born.

Utilizing a similar design to that of Impel's short lived G.I. Joe trading cards in conjunction with the cardback and box art for the toys, I came up with the cards. The two decks you see above incorporate all the figures from 1983's 1.5 series through 1987. This includes not only the carded figures, but vehicle drives, mail away and sub-sets - such as Special Missions Brazil, Battle Force 2000, Slaughter's Marauders, Etc. I then printed the cards on a thicker cardstock paper, cut them out and inserted them in Ultra-Pro card sleeves to ensure longevity.

Because some of the vehicle drives are displayed on their boxes somewhat tiny, blowing them up resulted in blurry cards for several of these. However, when I sat back and thought of what my options were, I decided to just leave it. My decision behind this was to essentially conclude if I was a little kid creating this game back in the 80's, this is essentially what would have happened. However, the difference would be that through a child's eyes this would still be pure awesome because the character was still represented.

A downside to the decks was that I quickly found out the Joe's didn't just slightly outnumber the Cobras, rather majorly. There are ninety-nine unique Joe figures in their deck, but only half this amount for the Cobras. This meant I either needed to trim down the Joe team cards or pad the Cobra one. I opted for the latter.

I achieved this by breaking it down by year, and then essentially army building. For example, 1983's 1.5 line has three Cobra figures and thirteen Joe's. A difference of ten. So I printed five additional Cobra Soldier cards and five Cobra Officer's to even them out. I continued to do this for each wave of figures, utilizing the current year's soldier characters on the Cobra team to even out each one. This resulted in an even deck of ninety-nine cards for each team.

Why only go through 1987? Mainly for me, it's because that's where my interest in Joe figures really ends. There are a few from 1988 I know of, and even owned as a kid, but they're not as special to me as the '83 - '87 era. Also, I really just wanted to get a card set in place so I could start playing. The longer I spent designing each individual card meant I wasn't playing.

I'm sure I'll get around to incorporating '88 - '94 into the game eventually, yet at the same time I'm a little hesitant. Mainly because ninety-nine cards in and of themselves make for a fairly decent length game. Any longer, and it risks becoming boring. In fact, I dare say I need to consider trimming it down to a base set of sixty cards per side, and only incorporating the rest when I have tons of time on my hands - Which isn't often.

For now, I'm content with my little homemade card game. It's not only fun, but nostalgic for me at the same time. For starters, it includes all that fantastic artwork from the packages, and second, it takes me down memory lane of a game from my childhood. It's been fun to find a way to incorporate this back into my life.

If any of you are interested in getting your hands on the file for these cards so you can play too, I have no problem sharing. Drop me a comment with just your e-mail address, which won't be published, and I'll get in touch with you. It may need to come in multiple e-mails due to the size of the file. You will also need Microsoft Power Point to open it, and of course have a way to print all the pages out.

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Painted Memories: Boldly Going

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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Retro Spins: David Bowie - Let's Dance

David Bowie
Let's Dance

David Bowie's Let's Dance is an important milestone album for me. While many people have been enjoying this album since April of 1983 I have never heard any of his albums until obtaining this one recently. Sure, I've heard Bowie's hits played here and there on the radio and they were decent. However, up until Let's Dance, I've never actually owned or listen to a Bowie album - Well, unless you count the Labyrinth soundtrack. I don't.

Bowie's first single from the album, Cat People (Putting Out Fire) charted a full one year ahead of the album being released. However, this was due to the fact the song appeared not only the album to come, but also from the movie soundtrack to Cat People. So really, does this one count?

Whether it does or doesn't, it wouldn't be the only song to chart from what would quickly become Bowie's most popular album of the 80's. Let's Dance (the song) hit the charts in March of '83 and flew up the charts to the number one spot by May, knocking Michael's Jackson's Beat It down to number two.

While the track remained in the top ten, China Girl joined it on the charts in June. The two songs would pass each other in the charts in July as China Girl continued its way up while Let's Dance slowly drifted off the charts. The song would make it to number ten by August, but then started to drop off as well.

However, this wouldn't be the last hit from the album. Modern Love jumped on the charts September and climbed up to number nineteen before beginning ts descent back down. It wouldn't be until March of the following year that yet another track from the album would chart; Without You. However it would disappear a weak later. Bowie wasn't out for the count yet as songs from his follow up album, Tonight, would begin charting shortly after.

So how was it? Am I David Bowie's latest fan? Will I be tracking down further albums?

It was pretty good. Not necessarily. Probably.

The album fires off three singles right in a row; Modern Love, China Girl and Let's Dance and sets the tone for a fantastic listening experience. Unfortunately, it then takes a little dip and suffers for a couple songs before coming back towards the end with Criminal World and Cat People (Putting Out Fire). Long story short, five of the eight tracks made it to my IPOD.

After giving it a listen, I'm intrigued to want to track down some other Bowie stuff - Most likely hitting a few more from the 80's before venturing off into "classic rock" territory. Though I may be asking for trouble going this route as in reading about Bowie's two follow up albums to Let's Dance it seems as though the general consensus was that they weren't good. Well, I'm a fan of finding out for myself. So until then...

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