Retro Spins: Sheil E. - Sheila E. In The Glamorous Life



Sheila E.
Sheila E. in the Glamorous Life
1984

Sheila E.'s debut album, Sheila E. in the Glamorous Life has Prince's fingerprints all over it. However, this is no surprise considering he wrote three of the six tracks on it, and was featured in some form or fashion lyrically or instrumentation wise throughout all of it. It's also a very rare album to find on CD, and as such, also very pricey.

Overall, it's not a bad album. It has that unique sound one would expect to hear from a Prince album of the 80's. However, it's biggest downfall is that it's just okay. In fact, the radio edit of the one and only hit from the album, The Glamorous Life, may actually be more enjoyable at its three minute forty second run time, than the album versions nine minute four seconds. Prince has long had a problem with knowing when songs should stop, and while I have grown to love the "extended" version, the radio edit remains far more superior, because it gets to the point of the song, and moves on.

Going back to what I said about the album having that unique Prince sound, this too is part of its downfall. Sheila E. never really seems to bring her own sound to any of the tracks. It more so ends up being Sheila E. sings the songs of Prince. That's sad in a way, because this also continued into her follow up album, Romance 1600, leaving the question, who is Sheila E.? What is her sound? Unfortunately, we don't find this out.

Don't get me wrong, as I said, the album isn't bad. The Belle of St. Mark, Shortberry Strawcake and The Glamorous Life were definitely the stand out tracks for me, and ended up in my 80's rotation. The remaining three tracks, I could personally take them or leave them. In fact, at this point, I don't even remember how they went.

I've actually had this album for about a year now, but in preparation for this post I hopped over to ebay to check out the availability of it in CD form. It was difficult to find when I was actively looking for it, and while I don't recall what I paid for it, it was fairly steep. However, it appears to have increased considerably since, both in rarity and price. The one and only copy I found online was not only an import, but also over a hundred dollars. That's high! I don't know that I would recommend chasing this down for that price unless like me, this is an absolute must have album.

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Star Wars Cookies (Pepperidge Farm)



Star Wars Cookies
Pepperidge Farm
1983 

It all began with a fantastic poster in the glass window of my local grocer, and from the door to the check out stand I kept asking for Star Wars cookies. Though my young mind wasn't attuned to the various brands of cookie manufacturers out there, I knew those classic faces staring at me in all their cookie glory form. Princess Leia, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader and all the other fantastic characters from the recently released film, Return of the Jedi.

Though the cookies were short lived, limited to a small window in 1983, I ate many a boxes of The Rebel Alliance I (vanilla), The Rebel Alliance II (peanut butter) and The Imperial Forces (chocolate). Emblazoned in  cookie form were all my favorite characters, and I relished in biting the heads off of each one as I chomped and chomped through delicious box after delicious box. It was after all the 1980's, and excess was in!

Of course, one doesn't just rip open a box of Star Wars cookies as a kid and dive right in, gorging on them fistful after fistful. Nope. As a kid, my first and foremost thought was to play with them. This is why I would have to strategically pick out an assortment of the various flavored characters. To me, they were more than cookies. They were edible action figures, and I would first have to have an adventure before having a snack.

The Rebel Alliance I, or  vanilla flavor if will, was my favorite out of the bunch. Mind you, not for the taste. No, my heart belonged to a different flavor. Rather, what I enjoyed most about this particular box was the characters inside. All the iconic characters; Luke Skywalker, Yoda, Han Solo, Princess Leia and Wicket. If nothing else, the box was a shear delight to pick through just to find one of each cookie.


I never was, and to this day still am not, a fan of peanut butter flavored cookies. However, the fact that the these were stamped out as Star Wars characters was enough for me to dig fist first into the box to pull out the likes of Chewbacca, R2-D2, C-3PO, Admiral Ackbar and Max Rebo...Wait, Max Rebo? Had anyone at Pepperidge Farm even seen Return of the Jedi?


My favorite flavor was always chocolate, or more correctly stated, The Imperial Forces. Not only did they have the best flavor, but also some of the best characters. Darth Vader, Jabba the Hutt, Bib Fortuna, Gamorrean Guard and Emperor's Royal Guard. Once again, I have to ask. Did anyone at Pepperidge Farm see the film? There's a big difference between Imperial Forces and scum and villainy.


Prior to the line being discontinued, Pepperidge Farm ran a promotion for plastic tumbler featuring "scenes" from Return of the Jedi. The first cup, the Ewoks, was made available in stores, and came free with your purchase of a box of cookies. The remaining four cups were only available by mailing in the cardboard certificate located on the back of specially marked boxes, as well as the ingredients label of three Pepperidge Farm Star Wars cookie boxes.


With the promotion came a slight redesign of all three boxes, which now included the certificate on the back of the box as well as a coupon for ten cents off on box located on the side panel. 


These would be the final boxes produced for the cookies, and no new characters (shapes) or flavors were ever introduced. Like a good cereal based on a Saturday morning cartoon, in the blink of an eye they were gone.


Here's a look at all five of the tumblers which were made available during the promotion.


Boxes are getting harder and harder to find these days. Regardless of the flavor, an empty one can set you back anywhere from $35.00 to $45.00. Because the cookies have either gotten infested with worms and / or become so brittle over time that they lost their shape and detail, it's not really worth it (in my opinion) to track down a sealed box. It's just going to cost you considerably more - If you can find one.

I'm not a big fan of collecting food related merchandise, but I have to be honest, there were some pretty awesome Star Wars tie-in's back in the day that intrigue me enough to go searching to pay real money for empty cardboard boxes.

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Retro Spins: Duran Duran - Duran Duran



Stylish clothes, flowing hair, pop sound, powerful hits. Duran Duran.

When the band debuted on US shores in 1981 with their self titled album, Duran Duran failed to find a foothold. Despite having tracks Girls on Film and Planet Earth, which would become two of the band's best known tracks, the English quintet would have to wait until its 1982 album, Rio, for Americans to take notice. With the success of this follow up album, the self titled debut was re-released in the states again in 1983. This time, it soared all the way to the number ten spot on the charts.

I have to wonder, in light of all this, if some people in America actually thought Rio was Duran Duran's first album. Back then , we didn't exactly have the benefit of, you know, the internet.

This is another head shaking moment for me. I own every single studio album which Duran Duran has ever released...but...This is the first time I'm making an effort to listen to any of them from start to finish. What have I been doing with all of my time? I don't know, but let's get into this one.

The record comes out hard with Girls on Film, and then follows up with Planet Earth. A great start, if you ask me. Anyone Out There, or track three, quickly became one of my new favorite songs from the band.

Things slow down a bit with the down tempo, To the Shore. It wasn't terrible, but it also wasn't catchy enough to leave me worrying about ever hearing it again. Careless Memories goes in the opposite direction, throwing the tempo in high gear with its catchy beat, and chant-able chorus. I went ahead and threw it into my 80's shuffle, and will have to listen to this one again before I make a decision as to whether or not it's a keeper.

I was hooked on Nick Rhodes intro to, Night Boat, right from the start. As this progressed, I only got more exited with Roger Taylor's drumming, which fades in with a trance like beat. Enter John Taylor's bass to keep me hooked. A little bit of Andy Taylor's guitar growls to life, edging you closer forward on your seat. Then Simon Le Bon comes in....and kind of ruins everything. This could have easily been my favorite track on the entire album, had it been an instrumental tune.

Whether it was a result of Night Boat bringing me crashing down from my Duran Duran high, or my overall personal tastes, the remaining songs ,Sound of Thunder, Friends of Mine and Tel Aviv sank into the pit of annoying noise. As far as I was concerned, the album couldn't end fast enough at this point. However, with a run time of approximately fifteen minutes between the three remaining songs, this was a somewhat slow torture to sit through. In the back of my mind, I really wanted something to come out of nowhere and slap me upside the back of the head with a song so good I'd play it again. Sadly, this didn't happen.

Overall, not a mind blowing album. The first three tracks set a pace which can't be kept, and an expectation which simply can't be met. Duran Duran's debut is definitely a foreshadowing of what to expect from the band throughout their multi decade career. However, so far, it doesn't contain anything I necessarily need or can't hear off of a greatest hits compilation. I certainly hope their follow up albums are more impressive than this.

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Q*Bert (Kenner)



Q*Bert
Kenner
1983

Back in the day, before video games had any ability to speak, Q*Bert was still able to get his point across with hash tags, at signs and stars. He was the original foul mouthed action hero in his own block filled world. The character was created by Warren Davis and Jeff Lee. Though both were veterans of classic games, Q*Bert would definitely go on to be their most popular.

Starting with his original 1982 arcade cabinet, Q*Bert would go on to be featured in cartoons (Saturday Supercade), comics, as a cameo in movies (Wreck It Ralph), and within other video game ports - too name a few.

Coinciding with the aforementioned cartoon, Q*Bert was given the plastic rendition by Kenner in 1983 with little figurines and plush dolls, the most popular among collectors today being the carded figurines.

 Q*Bert Isn't Triqed by Slick*Q*Bert Gets Disqed Away

There were six in total, each featuring Q*Bert in a specifically sculpted pose / theme.

 Cross Qountry Q*Bert*Q*Bert is Terrifiq on His Sqateboard

 Q*Bert and Coily Qollide*Q*Bert Pitches A Qrazy Qurveball

Kenner also produced a wind-up version of the character, who when activated would walk across flat surfaces.

 Wind-Up Q-Bert

Lastly, there were two push "dolls" released, both in different sizes.

 8 Inch Plush Q-Bert

12 Inch Plush Q-Bert

Putting together a full set of Kenner's Q*Bert collection is quite challenging.Though some pieces are more common than others, overall, the set is scarce. Prices aren't too out of control, but at $30.00 to $40.00 per carded figures, there's potentially not a lot of value for what you're getting.

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The Farpoint Trilogy: Another Trip To Farpoint Toys



A trip to Pennsylvania isn't complete without a trip to New Jersey to visit Farpoint Toys. This was sandwiched in between my two trips to The Comic Shop, which I posted about yesterday.

If you couldn't tell from my title, this wasn't my first, nor second, trip to Farpoint Toys. Much like my trip to The Comic Shop, I didn't take any photos, and regret not doing so. Outside, there was a large handmade banner with the words, "I assure you we're open" etched in black. I instantly caught the reference. Turns out, there was a whole event around them hanging this, which even included actor Brian O'Halloran making an appearance. I don't know if you can read about it on their Facebook page, but currently they do have a banner up showing the photo.

Once again, I wasn't necessarily looking for anything in particular. In fact, I was actually there to trade my empty Terror Drome box. I ended up getting quite a few comics for it, which I was more than happy to walk away with. After all, to me, the box was essentially trash. Here's what I got for it.

Double Dragon
Issue Number One
 Married With Children
Issue Number One

 Batman: A Movie Special

 Spider-Man
Issue Number One
 Spider-Man (Silver Cover Variant)
Issue Number One

Spider-Man (Gold Cover Second Print)
Issue Number One

I'm sure I could have thrown a couple more books in and that I would have gotten them too, but I didn't want to be greedy. Again, I would have just thrown the box out. There was no need to gouge anyone for it.

I also grabbed a few toys while there.

Once again, I turned my sights towards the same three toy lines from the day before; Thundercats, Star Wars and G.I. Joe.

 Jackalman

I never had many Thundercats as a kid, and quite honestly, I don't have all that many as an adult either. Jackalman is only my seventh figure in the line, and he's only seventh because I picked up my sixth the day before.

 Twin Pod Cloud Car

I think I may be one of the few Star Wars fans out there who actually likes the Twin Pod Cloud Car. I just think it's cool. I love the design.

I wrapped up my time there with a handful of Joe figures. At this point, there are no "high priority" figures I'm looking for. Rather, If they intrigue me, and the price is right, I'll pick them up.

 Windmill

 Overlord

 Sgt. Slaughter (V3)

Ghostrider

I was tempted to pick up a Batman and Superman from the original Super Powers Collection, but decided they weren't worth $120.00. Not to me anyway. This wasn't a line I had as a kid, so they're not particularly a "necessity" to me. Though you probably couldn't tell by today and yesterday's posts, I'm honestly winding down on my collecting. I pretty much have everything I'm actively looking for.

When business was concluded, my brother and I made our way to another comic shop which was somewhat on the way back to his house. Showcase Comics was lucrative, but not to the point it merits its own post. Especially, since once again, I didn't take any photos.

The Punisher (Limited Series)
Issue Number One
 The Punisher: War Journale
Issue Number One

G.I. Joe And The Transformers
Issue Number One

That wrapped up my buying excursion. Now all I need to do is get home to add it all to the toy room.

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The Continuing Adventures In The Comic Shop



October means a trip to my brother's house, and a trip to my brother's house means a trip to The Comic Shop in Glen Mill's, Pennsylvania.

The selection didn't seem to have changed much since my last visit, but there were a few gems to be fond. Sadly, I regret not snapping any photos from my visit.

I was particularly interested in the small selection of Thundercats figures, as well as, perusing what G.I. Joe's they had. However, I was open to expanding if there were things to be found, and in particularly thumbed through their back issues of comics. While this turned up a few things, in the long run, I ended up passing on all things comic related and stuck to the tried and true action figures.

My first acquisition was for my Thundercats collection.

 S-S-Slithe

This was followed by a couple Joe figures. While I wasn't necessarily looking to necessarily expand on my figure collection, the price point for these couple from 1988 weren't going to be passed up. Especially when I looked at my collection list and saw that I only needed a handful of vehicle drivers to complete the set.

Well...Sort of. I still need a few Tiger Force and all of the Night Force ones.

 Armadillo

In hindsight, he's probably got the worst name in G.I. Joe history. He is...

 Skidmark

Last, I picked up a vintage Kenner vehicle from the Star Wars line.

Landspeeder

It's simplistic, but the vintage Landspeeder was never one I had as a kid. The hood goes down all the way, but I guess got popped and unnoticed when taking the photo.

The following day, I went back to The Comic Shop and end up picking up some of the comics I was looking at the day before.

Web Of Spider-Man
Issue Number 1

Web Of Spider-Man number one is a key issue in that it involves the final showdown between Peter Parker, Spider-Man against the symbiote, aka his black Spidey costume...

 Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars
Issue Number 8

...Which of course all started in Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars. The first appearance of Spidey in his black smbiote costume.

 The Thanos Quest
Book One

The prelude which eventually led to The Infinity Gauntlet mini-series. The Thanos Quest tells the story of the villain obtaining all of the infinity stones over a two-book story arc. The shop had both together for one reasonable price.

 The Thanos Quest
Book Two

They also had the entire six issue mini-series of The Infinity Gauntlet, a story I have long since wanted to re-own.

 The Infinity Gauntlet
Issue Number One

 The Infinity Gauntlet
Issue Number Two

 The Infinity Gauntlet
Issue Number Three

 The Infinity Gauntlet
Issue Number Four

 The Infinity Gauntlet
Issue Number Five

The Infinity Gauntlet
Issue Number Six

Overall, it was a lucrative two day visit to the place.
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Retro Spins: The Jacksons - Victory



The Jacksons
Victory
1984

The Jacksons Victory album is monumental. It's the only Jackson's album to feature all six brothers as an official group. However, it's also interesting it came to be, since the brothers rarely saw each other to work on it together. It contains mostly solo tracks which each member worked on during the time of its recording, and here and there others sang back up.

This could in turn prove to be the albums greatest strength. From my perspective, Victory is one of the Jackson's best pieces of work. Michael steps aside, allowing each brother to showcase their own strengths as an artist, and with it, we get some great tunes; Torture, Wait, State of Shock, We Can Change the World and Body are all tracks I really like from this record. In fact, the weakest from the bunch for me is Michael's solo, Be Not Always. It's just so bland.

When the brothers do come together to lend back up vocals, it works fantastically. My personal favorite from the album, Wait, only gets all the more better when Michael steps in with a great, "My pride" line as Jackie continues to sing the main chorus. Love it!

A fascinating fact for me, being a huge Queen fan, is that State of Shock was initially intended to be a duet with Michael and Freddie Mercury. However, I have to admit, Mick Jagger does a fantastic job on it, probably better than Freddie would have. The reason being, after hearing a couple tracks with them singing together, they being Freddie and Michael, their voices don't work in contrast with each other. They're too similar in pitch.

A unique aspect to the cover was the original pressing for the album featured a white dove perched on Randy's left shoulder. This was removed for subsequent pressing, and while no reason was ever provided, many rumors have been churned out for it over the years. Some speculate it was due to Prince's Purple Rain which was released this same year - The track When Dove's Cry specifically. Others will tell you the RSPCA asked Epic to remove it because they feared Michael Jackson's popularity would cause many people to want doves. Then there are those who would say the intentions for every Victory tour was to release doves at the beginning or end of each show. When this plan was scrapped, the bird was removed from the cover. Any of these true? Who knows what the reasoning was at this point.

It's a shame the brothers never came back together to record an album as a "full" group. The closest we got was 1989's 2300 Jackson Street which featured the song of the same name, and brought with it not only all the brothers, but all the sisters (excluding Latoya who was an outcast at the time for appearing in Playboy). The remainder of the album only included Jackie, Jermaine, Tito and Randy. Coincidentally, it's also the final Jackson's album to date.

At least we'll always have Victory, and I'll take that as...um...a victory.

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Space Precinct (AKA Space Precinct 2040) (Vivid Imaginations)



Space Precinct (AKA Space Precinct 2040)
Vivid Imaginations
1994

Space Precinct was a short lived show from the 90's which crossed a diverse cast of humans and aliens within a futuristic cop drama. The series lasted for just one season, twenty-four episodes, before being cancelled.

I never personally watched the series, so I don't particularly know much about it. Well, beyond what you could read yourself off of the show's Wiki page. As such, I won't insult the fans by trying to explain anything beyond the basic premise noted above.

Vivid Imaginations released an equally short lived action figure line to support the show, and much like the series, failed to find an audience. The figures feel like a cross mingle of the original Kenner Star Wars figures and Hasbro's G.I. Joe. I'll try to explain, but it's best to really look at them yourself to understand what I'm talking about.



The arms have the straight arm articulation of G.I. Joe's, but the crotch articulation of Star Wars. They also have knee joints. This definitely gives them a some posing options, but it's still a bit limited.



In total, there were twelve figures produced. However, two of them are version of Lieutenant Brogan. It's also interesting that there are more alien characters than humans.



There were minimal vehicles produced for the line. Two to be exact.



In retrospect, and knowing little to nothing about the line, it's pretty decent. It definitely has that 90's vibe to it. I'm not sure if any of you know what I mean by that.

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