Five Things – 5.3.14

1. Fallout Shelter Testimonial – Here’s a segment of a 1960’s program that features a family of ten who tested out a fallout shelter for 7 days.  An 8’x11′ fallout shelter.  Last week we saw the pretty side of this fear-mongering effort with its unique design and fashionable filmstrips but this is another, weirder angle.  I can only guess that this was meant to convince people that they themselves could handle the hell that would be the recommended two weeks in a fallout shelter, but these people don’t even seem to sell the experience very well.

Couple of things here.  Ten people in an 8’x11′ underground box.  There’s no way to sell that.  The dad sells fallout shelters, which is why he and his family participated in the experiment; that said, you might not want to admit that you started to freak out three days into the experience and the kids helped you keep it together.  Three days into a seven day experiment, and seven days is half of the recommended time that a family would be expected to spend in a fallout shelter in the event of a nuclear explosion. And upon entry into the fallout shelter, one of your (eight) kids just jams his hand into a fan resulting in “multiple cuts”.  Could you imagine having to deal with that within the first twenty minutes of a real nuclear war?

Anyway, weird, right?

2. Hot Potato – This 1984 NBC game show took people with a common job and pitted them against other people with a common job.  Imagine Family Feud without the blood ties and the charm and you’re close.

Hot Potato

Most questions were survey-related, or there would be something that had multiple answers and the players would continue until they were wrong at which point play would hand over to the opposing team. The final round was interesting, though – the winning team was given a series of “this or that” questions, where only two answers were possible.  If they chose correctly they would win $500 and move on to the next question. They could stop at any time and keep the money but if they were ever wrong they’d lose it all.  If they lost, the jackpot would begin at that amount on the next show until somebody won it all.

It was neat, but not enough to save the series.  Hot Potato lasted six months and was scrapped in favor of Diff’rent Strokes reruns until the far superior Super Password  was ready to take its slot.

Here’s an episode – the commercials are great!

3. After Burner – Arcades in the ’80s were like a dog pound of the mind; you would walk down the aisles and each game would do its best to attract you to itself, flashing whatever lights it had, showing the best parts of its gameplay in a demo, blaring its soundtrack (sometimes including human voices!) to get you to stop and give a quarter (or three).  I was immune to most of these catcalls but I’ll never forget the day I came across this cabinet and stopped in my tracks:

After Burner

SEGA’s After Burner was a 1987 Flight Simulator with a full cockpit – the players would sit in the pilot’s seat and the cabinet would move when the player pulled the joystick in any direction.  It cost a full dollar to play and to my 9-year-old mind it was worth every penny.  I probably only made it to the second level once or twice but the experience made the excessive dying worthwhile.  There were other full-motion cabinets like this but After Burner was my first, and the one that had my heart.

Here’s some gameplay – imagine your whole body turning when the plane does!

They came out with a standard cabinet version of the game that cost a little bit less money, but it just wasn’t the same.


4. McDonaldland Playset – Courtesy of PlaidStallions, here’s a scan from a 1976 REMCO catalog that features a McDonaldland playset.


It’s a small image, but the big takeaway here is that there is a McDonalds IN McDonaldland! Who staffs that McDonalds? Does it staff itself? Is it sentient? Or is there a sub-class to the McDonaldland cast of characters that we’re not aware of, the “Harry-Potter-Goblins” of that land?


5.  1-800-COLLECT – Before everyone was reachable everywhere on the super-computer that fits in everyone’s pocket, you only had one option if you needed to call someone but you didnt’ have any money – place a collect call.  You’d have to call using a payphone (a public phone that you would pay to use) and the call recipient would have to accept the charges.  All carriers had a different method of doing this and it got kind of complicated until MCI rolled out 1-800-COLLECT in the ’90s.  This service streamlined the process and popularized collect calling through its use of celebrities like Mr. T, David Spade, Alyssa Milano, and  Ed O’Neill.

It’s still around! Apparently! For some reason!





  1. marilyn says:

    Along the lines of the fallout shelters, here’s a cool set of diagrams:

    1. david says:

      Whoah! Very nice!

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