Five Things – 01.23.17 – Hit The Play Button And Go Blow Up Some Spaceships

Pioneer LaserActive Infomercial

In 1993 Pioneer released a sort of megadevice that combined CDs, Laserdiscs, video games, and  interactive karaoke CDs.  Called “LaserActive”, it retailed for just under $1000 and in a result that shocked nobody, was largely unsuccessful.

This 1993 “issue” of Zoom, the “Video Magazine” (what?) features the ins-and-outs of the LaserActive.  It’s a showcase of the technology itself, the software featured, and an awkward technical section that describes how to set the thing up.  Not sure that last part is “video magazine”-worthy but hey, I’m not a “video magazine” editor.

This video is about 40% content and 60% stock ’90s introspective flash and graphics. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The LaserActive software is impressive; games like Pyramid Patrol, Quiz Econosaurus, and I Will demonstrate the different types of game options available, and the quality of the (then) high technology is evident.

Here’s the thing: it’s actually a pretty impressive machine. In the early-to-mid nineties, in the aftermath of the VHS/Beta war, in the middle of the CD/Laserdisc/VHS landscape, and on the cusp of DVD’s entry into the foray (not to mention minidiscs and mp3s), a device that could do it all was a pretty novel idea.  And in that light, $970’s actually a value.  Still, that’s a high price point to rationalize.

An interesting experiment, albeit a failed one.  What do you think? Here’s the “video magazine”.


Cinnamon Crunch

In my day, Cap’n Crunch battled the Soggies. These white, wet embodiments of too much milk goofily tried to thwart the Cap’n and his child companions, to no success.  In the 1970s, though, the Cap’ns nemesis was a fellow pirate named Jean LaFoote. He had his own cereal, Cinnamon Crunch, years before Wendell and the bakers would come along and stake a claim on cinnamon-flavored cereal with their Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Here’s LaFoote’s finest hour.


EPCOT Horizons Commercial

It’s not often that I come across something about Horizons that’s new to me, so I’m excited to share this sedate 1980s EPCOT commercial focused entirely on Horizons.  Everything about it is great, but for some reason the music doesn’t feel like a total match.  Still, so good!


Mason Shoe Recruitment

This ad ran in men’s magazines in the 1960s, recruiting would-be door-to-door salesmen across the country.


1940s Band-Aid Commercial

This commercial features a fascinating and unsettling proof-of-concept, testing the band-aid’s adhesiveness on an egg. That glue is way too powerful.

Way too powerful. Man was not meant for this level of adhesion.


Five Things – 09.26.16 – Find The Future And Touch Tomorrow

1984 EPCOT Video Brochure

It’s been a minute since I scratched the EPCOT itch here, but this video brochure from 1984 certainly makes up for lost time.

epcot universe-of-energyhorizons

The focus of this extended commercial, as usual, skews more toward the World Showcase than it does on Future World, a strategy that always baffled me.  Were/are people really that interested in the World Showcase? As a kid it felt like a waste of half of the park and while I don’t feel that strongly as an adult I still wonder about it.  I think this shot from the Mexico pavilion has been in every piece of EPCOT promotional material from the ’80s that I’ve ever seen:


They don’t miss the chance to tell you that you can drink booze at EPCOT, either.  There’s also a strange interlude with a stuffy elderly woman and a mime who go on a date?

world-showcase-uk mime

The back (less-than) half of the video focuses on Future World, with some great glimpses of the attractions that aren’t there anymore.  The entire layout of the park just makes more sense with Horizons poking up.  Lousy sinkholes.

smrt-1 communicore


Also a little love for the oft-neglected World of Motion attraction.


This video probably captures “old” EPCOT better than any other I’ve seen. It doesn’t go into a ton of detail and it doesn’t need to – it’s just a big promo, after all. The wide shots of the park, the carefully staged in-attraction shots, and the elements of the World Showcase they included really paint the picture of a day that’s gone by. For better or worse.

For worse.

Here’s the video. So good.


Mighty Marvel Cookbook

Last week we looked at the DC Superhero Cookbook. Marvel beat them to the punch in 1977 with their cookbook, but it wasn’t really aimed at being healthy or anything. It was still a cute idea, and the art is great.

marvel-superheroes-cookbook desserts clobbered-omelet

I’m usually more of a Marvel guy, but I gotta give the win to DC on the cookbook front.


Star Trek: TNG Makeup Test

Watch the core cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation hold poses for an awkward amount of time.  Did anyone other than Geordi wear a visor in the show? It’s strange to see other characters here wearing one.

Of course Riker can’t hold his pose.


Super Bomberman 2 Commercials

This collection of Japanese commercials for 1994’s Super Bomberman 2 is an assault on the senses; there’s no shame if you can’t make it all the way through.  The live action Bomberman costumes are pretty great.


What Kind Of Man Owns His Own Computer?

Kind of crazy to imagine a time in which this question needed to be asked and answered.





Five Things – 08.01.16 – To Un-Bore You

Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future

It’s a pretty generic title, but the show itself is actually somewhat ambitious.

Captain Power

This 1987 Canadian Sci-Fi show centers around the conveniently named Jonathan Power.  His team, the Soldiers of the Future, are some of the last humans left alive after the Metal War, your basic man vs. cyborg conflict.  Powers’ late dad, Doctor Powers (seriously), developed a system called Overmind to put a stop to the cyborg uprising but Doctor Powers’ friend took control of the system and integrated himself with the system and turned evil and called himself Lord Dread and… yeah.  So now, fifteen years later, the world is a mess and Lord Dread and his mechs are seeking out the last remnants of humanity in order to wipe it out.  The Soldiers of the Future aim to stop that, with a variety of power suits and weapons that are as distinct as the SKUs that make up their shelf space.


It’s a toy show, to be sure, but the toys were ambitious as well.  Several of them interacted with the episodes, encouraging kids to play while watching the show and sometimes even shoot the bad guys on the screen themselves.  As you can imagine, this combined with the fact that it was live action didn’t go over too well with parents.  Even without that component, it’s a pretty violent show for Saturday Morning.

The show tried to strike a balance between kiddy action sequences and adult-themed storylines.  The choice to go with live action and the ambitious effects for a late-’80s television show demonstrate that they’re trying to deliver on something more than just another toy show, but ultimately it comes across as a pretty bad toy show.  In a lot of ways it feels reverse-engineered from the toy line that Mattel probably already had in mind, but there is a somewhat original story there.  It’s a shame that the rest of the show doesn’t hold it up.

Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future was cancelled after one season.  It’s tough to make a solid call one way or the other on this show – there’s a nugget of a good idea in there, but so much gets in the way of it actually being a good show.  Given a choice between this and, say, Power Rangers, though, I’d probably go with Captain Power.  Check out an episode.



Texas Instruments Sales Video

It’s Cos, back when you would still take his advice on purchases! Here’s Bill Cosby convincing Texas Instruments salesmen to buy more products from Texas Instruments in order to have more stock to sell their customers.  These appear to be the wraparounds to a longer video. We’re probably lucky that we were spared the rest.

He kind of does an impersonation of himself there toward the end.


Bar Guide

The cover to this 1950s Bar Guide is pretty fantastic.

Bar Guide


Canadian Anti-Drug PSA

The last Canadian Anti Drug PSA was over-the-top ’90s but this one is just..strange.  Did they drug test the people who made these things?


The Prologue and the Promise

This mural by Robert T. McCall never fails to inspire.  It was part of the EPCOT ride Horizons, one of the more influential rides/experiences of my childhood.

Prologue and the Promise



Five Things – 11.3.14

1. That Refreshing Look – The appropriately-1950s-named Vendo corporation produced this promotional film touting the benefits of Coca-Cola’s new vending machines.  The part that’s actually about the machines themselves is a little dry, but the crisp color imagery of 1950s American life at the beginning and the ‘roleplay’ selling scenarios at the end are fantastic.

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Five Things – 6.17.13

1.  Pocket Rockers – In 1988, Fisher Price decided that there weren’t enough weird formats of media around and introduced yet another one, targeted at kids.  The toy was called Pocket Rockers, and it was basically a little mini stereo with a tiny tape that held two songs on it – kind of like cassette singles back then, but these would only play in a Pocket Rocker.  So you were basically doomed to having it sound terrible, and they had the license to produce tapes of terrible quality.

 The tracks were predictably “top of the charts”, too.  You had your Bangles, your Phil Collins, your Bon Jovi.  Tiffany herself had three releases! Ray Parker Jr. shared a cassette with The Monkees, who generously licensed the “Theme from The Monkees” to the cause. The tapes were marketed as fashion accessories, as well.

Who cares what songs are on the tapes? Just tell them what artists are available!  Pocket Rockers lasted a few years and died in the early ’90s.  Nobody noticed.

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Five Things – 6.3.13

1.  Living Seas Pre-Show – The Living Seas pavilion was one of the last original pavilions to open at EPCOT, opening in 1986.

The Living Seas

It was a pretty sweet ‘trip’ through a Sealab-esque underwater laboratory where you could see all sorts of future tech for undersea exploration.  It also housed the largest aquarium at the time, at 5.7 million gallons of water. They also had a manatee. 

Seabase Alpha

The Living Seas was eventually re-tooled along with much of the rest of the park to be less “Worlds Fair-sy” and more “Disney-brand-sy”.  It became “The Seas with Nemo and Friends” and lost most of its forward-looking content in favor of the ability to have a realtime conversation with an animatronic sea-turtle.

There are pieces of the original experience her eand there around the internet.  I stumbled across this video of the pre-show movie.  It’s gorgeous and the fact that it’s shot with a handheld VHS camera, to me, makes it even more gorgeous.



Parts of it look like a Boards of Canada video.
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Five Things – 2.18.13

1.  Wayne’s World VCR Board Game – I’ll admit, I’m a pretty big fan of stupid things.  I’m particularly fond of stupid things from the ’90s.  Some of the fun is seeing the stuff that as a child you thought was so cool from the other side, the older side, and noticing how ridiculous it is.  Wayne’s World is like that, for me.  I loved Wayne’s World as a kid; well, I should be more specific.  I loved the SNL sketches and the movies.    But not this.  This is too stupid for both of us – young me and old me alike.


Wayne's World Board Game Cover


Unsurprisingly, someone somewhere decided to take the heat of the Wayne’s World movie, the momentum (?) of VHS board games, and combine them to make “The Coolest, Most Excellent Game In The Universe!” What appears to have come out of that flash of marketing synergy doesn’t quite live up to the high standards set by the box.


Wayne's World Board Game


Wayne's World includes


The object of the game is to get to Party Central.  If you don’t get to Party Central in 45 minutes, Garth wins.  That’s losing, when Garth wins.  When did Garth become the bad guy?

Here’s the introduction from the VHS tape.  It helps things make slightly more sense, but it doesn’t help explain how anyone thought this was a good idea outside of a generic cash-grab.



They couldn’t hire a better looking mouth?

This game’s got good company at the bottom of the barrel with the SNES Wayne’s World game.  Here are some screenshots of that, as well:


Wayne's World Video Game




Shyeah Right, indeed.

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Five Things – 1.28.13

1.  The Jitterbug – I have the feeling this is one of those things that I found out just now but is common knowledge to the rest of the world and has been for some time.  Well! Apparently there was a song/scene cut from the soundtrack to The Wizard of Oz called The Jitterbug.  From Wikipedia: “As the song begins, the four friends see a jitterbug flitting in the shadows from tree to tree and become frightened. The refrain that they sing is: “Oh, the bats and the bees and the breeze in the trees have a terrible, horrible buzz. … So, be careful of that rascal/Keep away from The Jitterbug.” The Jitterbug puts a magical influence on the characters, forcing them to dance the Jitterbug frenetically. Soon there are many jitterbugs, and eventually, everyone collapses from exhaustion and are subdued by the Witch’s army of flying monkeys.”

I’m not sure why the song was cut, but upon hearing it I feel like it is a little incongruent with the rest of the songs in the movie – a little less timeless than the others.  The song has survived in some stage productions, however, and there’s also this amazing handheld video shot during a dress rehearsal:


The Jitterbug’s influence on the movie is not totally lost, as the Wicked Witch makes reference to having sent “a little insect to take the fight out of them”.  There’s just no payoff to it and it ends up being a huge continuity error.  Who knew!

You probably did.

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Five Things – 1.14.13

1.  Defend Space Law – Another one of my favorite Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes, Space Mutiny features a thick man thwarting a rebellion led by thinner men on a spaceship that looks like a factory basement.  It’s pretty fantastic.  Check out this fan-poster done for the movie by SassyLazerMermaid: (EDIT 12/1/13: Actually done by xGeekbyDesignx! Sorry about that!)


Defend Space Law


Here’s a few good clips from the movie, to put things into perspective:


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Five Things – 8.27.12

1.  Auroratone – I stumbled across this amazing thing this week – a series of videos constructed in the 1940s to treat mental disorders.  The attempt, called Auroratone, used soothing music and psychedelic images to produce a calming sensation.  Here’s the only one I could find, a remastered Auroratone with Bing Crosby providing the song.


These films were apparently used in the Army and Navy to treat neuropsychiatric and migraine cases.  Amazing!

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