Gremlins Online!

Your home for all things Gremlins

{Blog Post} Mega Sale Madness

In early April, there was the first “Mega Sale” of the season at the local fairgrounds. I usually go a few times a year, typically ending up at the booth with old trading cards and spending far too much on things like packs of Dinosaurs Attack! that I plan to write about but keep putting off.

This time I am only about a month late and finally getting to tell you all about the majestic wonders of a medium-sized town’s “Mega Sale”

Here we go!

img_2576.jpg

This is new…and frightening. On the outside of the building is this sign, featuring Rummage Vintage/Collectibles and….Direct Sale Companies.
For those who don’t know, Direct Sale Companies are a fancy way of legitimizing Multi Level Marketing (MLMs) programs, also frequently known as Pyramid Schemes. You have heard of Amway, Avon and similar, but there are many many more out there and they all have the same method. Get you to buy in to more than just the products but get you to sell the products yourselves, as the person who recruited you gets more money the more you sell, and then you get to recruit people so you get more money, etc.

MLMs have been prevalent in the past at these but this was a new level.

They were everywhere. These are just the tables that didn’t mind me taking a picture of their tables. The others were very adamant that no photos were taken because they are used to spread “propaganda” or “smear their company’s names”. I get some people enjoy these products, and that is fine, but this is insanity.  3/4 of the tables were MLMs, every one of them promising free stuff if you do a free in-home demo/party/makeover/tasting with your best friends. This made hunting for rad treasures a bit harder.

In fact as I looked at my wider shot photos of the building, they are almost indistinguishable from the photos posted above.

I found a really neat pen table full of fountain pens and old inkwells. Plus these awesome Garfield Pens! I didn’t grab any but my wife did, she got some shark fountain pens because sharks are awesome and she is as well.

img_3039.jpgI found this incredible WWF PowerPenz Cyclone Pen that  has discs you can use to battle with other pen havers? But it called me a Bozo, so I had to have it. for $3, who would be able to resist? Other pens in the WWF line include such legends as Kane, HHH and Val Venis. Yep. The Big Valbowski can battle the Undertaker when you are in study hall! I don’t think I ever saw any PowerPenz back in the 90’s. Why? I would have loved them. They are the perfect match of licensed useless garbage that does weird stuff, is collectible, and I can convince myself is practical at the same time.

IMG_2554One thing I love but never understand about these sales are the junk dealers. Tons of rusted tools from a time long gone and random bits and pieces that are covered in dust older than I am. I am sure there are people that buy this stuff but every time this vendor is at the sale, nothing ever seems to change. How could this be worth lugging around, paying for the space and then packing up at the end of the day? Remember this is a one-day affair here, so these tables and bins have to be packed up after the seven hour show. At least I know if I need a funnel or a hoe I know where to go.

The usual vendor where I get my retro trading cards wasn’t there, much to my chagrin. We were making our last once-overs and I noticed the side room was open…and like a personal heaven, this is what I saw as I turned the corner.
img_2567.jpg
This vendor occasionally shows up with a corner setup, but this time he got the side room all to himself and his action figures and retro toys.
img_2568.jpg
Classic comics, book and record sets, LEGO toys and so much more. This was an incredible spread.

I never was really into GI Joe but I always loved the breadth of the playsets and vehicle lines. The Star Wars figures and WWE figures were neat but they weren’t my target. I always am looking for the usual. ALF, Ghostbusters (Real or Filmation only), Gremlins, POGs and My Pet Monster stuff.  Well those and anything funeral or hearse related for my son. He’s a weird kiddo.

Those WCW Nitro TCG cards were calling my name but I don’t really need more TCG cards cluttering up the house. I needed other clutter and finally came across a few clutter-worthy gems.

img_3038-1.jpgWolfman from the Monsters line and two fright feature Ghostbusters (Egon with the requisite broken tie) but with accessories! Winston came with his appropriate ghost, but egon for some reason came with the Ecto-1 ghost. Either way, a great deal for $8 total for all 3, even though Winston has a hard time getting his spinning, toothy head back to neutral position. I still love him anyway!

The same vendor also had a really neat Real Ghostbusters retractable vinyl sun shade that had to come home with me.
IMG_2577These were HUGE in the 80’s along with folding cardboard sun visors for your windshield. You could get them for pretty much any popular property out there including ALF and the Simpsons. This was only $6 and I was very happy to have it, even though it didn’t come with suction cups to put in my car immediately. Apparently they are pretty easily found on eBay for very fair prices, but the thrill of discovery is what made this one worth it.

We went to leave the show and my wife’s eye was caught by some necklaces with neat clasps on a table, and I was taking a few more shots for this article, when I saw a Ghostbusters something in my phone’s camera that I would have completely missed otherwise…
img_2570.jpgWhy yes, that is a $5 price tag on that Stay Puft toy. Even in the neglected condition, it was more than a steal! A bit of cleaning and it will look good as new! This was a surprisingly successful event for me, and my wife even found a set of red depression glass cups for $6.

Hopefully there are less MLMs at the next sale, and more random 20+ year old packs of cards to open!

Thanks for joining me on this adventure through the MEGA SALE!!

 

{Blog Post} Red Green and Frantic Representation.

This began as a tweet but it became super long and personal so I figured it would be better served here.
Today I discovered that Rick Green from the legendary Red Green show is also one of the co-founders of The Frantics! In my defense The Frantics is a troupe I have only listened to, and never thought “Gee I should look up videos of them”.  You may know them from such skits as Ti Kwan Leep (Boot To The Head), Last Will and Temperment, The Human Race or You Were Speeding.

Peter Wildman, also of The Frantics, was a writer on Red Green as well! The idea that there are a few significant crossovers in The Red Green Show and The Frantics absolutely fills my mind with excitement.

Speaking of the Red Green Show, few people knew this but I wanted to grow up to be just like Harold (played by Patrick McKenna) from said show.

5878222_orig.jpgHis character was always proud of his nerddom, and though it was often played for laughs, he was loved for who he was and valued for his contributions to each episode. As a geeky kinda kid, that meant a lot to me, since I was constantly told to start acting “normal” and enjoy sports and objectifying girls, even at a young age. Nerds like Star Trek and Ghostbusters and Gremlins, Cool kids liked basketball and football and being rude to others. I liked liking things and people, which was very uncool.

I was constantly beat up and bullied because I didn’t wear the expensive shoes or harass girls. Or from their perspective and defense I was annoying. This meant I had few friends, as even being friends with me was a brand no one wanted. For example I came into school one day in 5th grade and someone wrote “Sarah M. Loves JohnPaul!” on the chalkboard. She was pulled from class and sent home shortly due to crying and being “traumatized” (as I was told later that day). Turns out the other kids got together and said they saw me do it. Joke is on them, my handwriting is and always has been basically illegible. I was of course punished by the staff for writing such horrible things on the chalkboard and later got beat up by the girls when they cornered me a few days later.

The reason I bring this up, is representation. Most kids had someone to look up to that was like them. Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen were at the top of their game, becoming legends in the NBA, Football players were being footballers, and the good-looking cool kids had Tom Cruise or Arnold Schwarzenegger to look up to. I gravitated toward my interests, so to escape I would pretend I was characters from movies or TV shows. Louis Tully (Ghostbusters), Harold Smith (Red Green Show), Data (Star Trek The Next Generation), Andrew (Jerry O’Connell on My Secret Identity) or Billy Peltzer (Gremlins). Notice a theme? Every one of them were socially awkward, nerdy and all “uncool” but valued for their contributions. Even Louis Tully gets his moment to be a hero in Ghostbusters 2! The thing is these characters were very few and far between at the time, and still very uncool. Everyone wanted to pretend to be Peter Venkman. I wanted to be Egon or Louis.

So that brings me to why the Frantics were important to me.
Around 4th or 5th grade (so 1992/93 maybe) We had to do occasional presentations in class and due to my anxiety, I would simply make a radio show cassette. I would find songs and skits from vinyl records and other tapes that (often barely) represented what I was supposed to be talking about and add them to this tape. I’d do interviews with myself and essentially DJ a 20 minute presentation. One that stands out was where I had tracks from Dr. Demento’s 20th Anniversary Collection on this specific report.
I still remember the ones I used: The Red Green Theme opening, Existential Blues By Tom “T-Bone” Stankus (and I remember making a joke on the tape of “Stankus, not Stanky” which didn’t land well.) Surfin’ Bird By The Trashmen, Wet Dream by Kip Adotta and of course Ti Kwan Leep (Boot To The Head) by The Frantics.

I want to say Pencil Neck Geek by “Classy” Freddie Blassie was in there somewhere because they were all close together on the album, so it made it easier for editing into another tape.
_Classy__20Freddie_20Blassie.jpgWhile I thought it was the greatest collection of tracks that somehow had some tangential relation to the report I was intending to give (I have no idea what it was supposed to be originally) it did not go well. No one thought any of it was funny, and it just served to further ostracize me from my peers. At the time, I didn’t get the memo that not every kid wanted to listen to Tom Lehrer or Ray Stevens for fun.

But for me that was comforting. The humor and good-natured attitudes of The Frantics and other “Novelty” (never cared for that term) tracks helped me get through my days. I took those skits and that music as seriously as others took rap or heavy metal.
Finding representation in music is important, so discovering popular music that was not over sexualized, vulgar or extremely aggressive was a challenge, but rewarding when it did occur.

Other kids wanted to meet and get an autograph from Kimberly of Power Rangers, I wanted to sit and chat with someone like Zach Galligan or Patrick McKenna.  Maybe someday I will, and I can honestly thank them for helping me find a path navigating the treacherous waters of childhood bullies. Without things that I could identify with, even later such as Troma and “bad” movies, I don’t know if I would have made it to 37 years old, as of April 16. Maybe that’s why I am thinking of this, my birthday is in 4 days and I guess I am nostalgic.

But keep this in mind when you see things like a movie featuring strong female leads like Ghostbusters or Captain Marvel, people praising a positive nonbinary character, or cheering for women main eventing Wrestlemania. It may not be meant for you, but it is important to someone to see themselves in the media they consume. It was certainly important for me to find characters and music that made me feel less alone and less sad.  I can’t begin to fathom how important it is for marginalized individuals to find that same “home” feeling, and that is why I never knock something that isn’t “for me” since it is clearly meant for someone out there.

{Rad Chat} 4 Movie Covers That Terrified Me – Volume 2

I was thinking about some 80’s horror movies this week and it occurred to me that I have a blog where I can share my thoughts and feelings about said horror movies. What a concept!

These four covers all have a common theme – I was scared of them because they confused a young me. Browsing the video store shelves was a hobby I would engage in a few times a week and when not renting My Pet Monster, or The Gift Of Winter (Which I recently discovered has a great fansite!) I would grab a NES game like Alien Syndrome and browse while my mom looked in the section with the swinging saloon-style doors. While she browsed the not-for-kids section I would try and understand the often abstract VHS covers…and these confused and scared me the most!

1. Rawhead Rex

5432317651_2aa7236da0_b.jpg

Rawhead Rex was another at Nord video that always taunted me, and I think this was due to my tiny brain trying to figure out what I was looking at in the cover. At first it looks like some kind of carnival funhouse opening. Then it shifts to what looked like a church with a demon biker in the doorway. This one didn’t terrify me as much as others, but it more confused me, which was enough to send my brain into a tizzy. As for the film itself, I didn’t see the film until I was in my 20’s and had no clue what kind of film I was getting myself into. I don’t own the film these days but I plan on revisiting it sometime soon(tm).

2. Ghoulies

91ym4hnRH8L._SL1500_
Ghoulies is probably on everyone’s scary VHS cover list simply because it shows a kind of cute green monster coming out of the toilet. What makes this post interesting is the story, and I don’t think I have ever shared this one online, so why not here?

I was probably seven or so, and Tasha, a girl that lived down the block enjoyed telling me scary things for some reason. One day she told me all about GHOULIES. Of course I had seen the cover and she told me that in the movie, the Ghoulies creature comes up from the toiled while you are using it and…get this…eats your poop. This absolutely scared me to the point of tears, I have no clue why this concept caused utter terror, but after getting myself together, I told on her and she was not allowed over to my house for a period of time. Let that be a lesson to everyone reading this, I will tell my mom if you scare me.

 

3. The Fog

97309348585e698da2f164682365cb5a.jpg

The Fog had a cover that unsettled me because I somehow got this one and The Stuff confused. It looked to me that the woman was being devoured from her fridge, and that was her arm turning black from The Stuff. Not much else to say because I am not a huge fan of this film. Nothing wrong with it, just it didn’t do much for me the few times I have seen the movie.

4. Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master

noes4.jpeg

This one is a plethora of awesome cover design and nightmare-inducing art. You have the eyeball popping out of metal-rocker Freddy, the rainbow girl watching you as claws attack you from a volcano? I have no clue. The back is what got me though. One photo. This one.

noes4-1.jpeg

In combination with the robot-bug looking “creature” in the image to the right, I kept trying to understand what I was seeing. Of course rather than actually watch the film and find out, I would go look at this image while trying to avoid Freddy’s maniacal eyes for extended periods of time. I thought it was something grabbing her, like a leech or the hand of a creature about to tear her arms out of their sockets from a strange angle.
To be fair the reality of what happens in that scene is far, far, weirder and amazing than anything I could have predicted.

Thanks for joining me on another romp through my childhood memories of scary VHS boxes! These are always a blast to write and I would love to know if you have covers that got under your skin well before actually seeing the movie.

Andre Meadows on “What About Gremlins?”

Friend of the site and YouTube video creator Andre “Blacknerd” Meadows has released a Black Nerd Rants video about Gremlins!
He has been a huge fan and supporter of everything Gremlins for as long as I have known him and proudly wears his Gremlin fandom on his sleeve for all to see.

I don’t normally link to vlogs as they aren’t my thing, but Andre has been a positive force in the Gremlins community and this video raises some great points that everyone should see and I am sure most Gremlins fans can relate to.

As many of you know I love Ghostbusters as a close second, but Gremlins is my one true love in pop culture, so I really hope that we see more Gremlins in the near future over anything Ghostbusters, or as many say…why not both? Check out the video below:

One thing I want to address that Andre did not, is how Ghostbusters has a lot more wish fulfillment and roleplay that tied into children’s hearts in the 80’s all the way to today. It is easier to pretend you are a Ghostbuster versus specifically being Billy from Gremlins. Ghostbusters in that respect is an easier sell for toys. Everyone loves a cute Mogwai but kids don’t want to BE a mogwai for the most part. They want to bust ghosts and be the hero. So I get it from a marketing standpoint.
All that said I am sure there were at least a few others out there that would carry their Hasbro Softies Gizmo doll with them everywhere in a backpack, even going so far as to rip their shirts pretending they were Billy Peltzer. No? Just me? Ok then.

My Bedroom

Welcome to My Bedroom. 

Originally I was designing a post of how I am adult with an adult paycheck and a sense of nostalgia. It was going to explain how I began a hunt for many of the toys and fond memories that were lost over the years due to moves and toilet-pipe-leaking accidents. I planned on having said post kick off a years-long chronicle of my journey to re-acquire these things of my childhood.

Then a new realization dawned on me, I don’t need all that stuff. Don’t get me wrong, if I came across a crazy good deal on a Get-Along Gang bed sheet set I would snap it up in a second, but looking around as an adult with an adult paycheck, I really don’t need extreme amounts of “Stuff” taking up closet space for me to only look at when moving or looking for something my son to enjoy.

I decided to do the next most awesome thing, and that is bring my memories to Gremlins Online and share them with each and every reader out there. There are thousands of articles on the internet that feature my memories, all written by people with similar-era childhoods that just predate the internet as we know it.

So I now invite everyone to My Bedroom. This is a collection of my childhood, some first-hand photos of me and my things and memories, others found on adventures online. If you are anything like me, you will hopefully share in that sense of wonder and nostalgia along with me. I also encourage everyone reading this to share their memories and maybe we can help one another unlock those long-buried memories of toys and experiences.

Let’s begin with the two photos I scanned a few years ago for archiving.

First up is this far-too-serious selfie (note the camera remote in my left hand).10399913_228257410429_5087759_n

So here we have me posing on my Jurassic Park bed sheets with freshly-cut out Star Trek Magazine pages behind me. I only know they are fresh-cut since I had no patience and left the magazine pages all over the bed when taking the photo as you can tell. Fun trivia fact: I hated jeans. I loved corduroys, and I only wore shorts if I absolutely had to. Most of this remains the same but cords seem so hard to find.

The date on the photo of November 14th 1993 is most likely accurate, Both Deep Space 9 and Jurassic Park came out in June of that year.
Next we have my friend Patrick and myself playing Star Trek with our homemade computer consoles. We were both big Star Trek fans, and as you can barely see from my shirt I have always loved raccoons. No idea why really, but I still love raccoons. 

10399913_228257425429_5103499_nIn fact, one of the few dear friends I still keep in touch with these days helped me conceptualize a comic called “Super Raccoons”. Basically picture Ninja Turtles but raccoons. The two main characters were Raccoony and Coonskin, and I was Raccoony, he was Coonskin and we were terrified of lawnmowers which we called “Roto-Dum-Drums” (you see raccoons don’t know the proper terminology for some things. ) I would find the comics I made but I am pretty sure they were lost in a move at some point. This is probably for the best since my art skills were horrid then and are somehow worse than that today.  Regardless, those dumb comics and pretending I was a super-powered raccoon were some amazing times in an oft-rocky childhood. I sometimes don’t think I ever expressed how much the few friends I had meant to me beyond wanting to be at their side 24/7, and I really should have. 

I had this really odd tendency to stick components together into random assorted gadgets. They never did anything but I liked to pretend something was happening. Let’s take a look at some of the random gizmos that were somehow powering my starship.

Books1.pngThe Motion Sensor Set.

This was a staple in any of my gizmos, because it would actually click and make a digital counter readout increase whenever the sensors were tripped.
This was my dad’s I assume for when he would go take photographs in the woods, well before I was born. Here you can see one of the Army green motion detectors. The other is pretty well hidden across from us. I think we used them for lasers? Maybe sensors? Probably both.
I also liked to keep tons of books and magazines under my bed in plastic bins. You can see a copy of Stephen King’s Firestarter under there. I was a weird 11 year old.

precomputerVtech Precomputer 1000 and “Breathing Machine”

The “Breathing Machine” as I always called it is in actually a Spirometer. I had no idea what it was actually called until today. I had a lot of various medical equipment around due to my father’s ill health. They often made my contraptions look more futuristic. I am pretty sure this was our dilithium chamber/warp core. My reasoning is because we often chucked it across the room whenever the warp core needed ejecting. (which was pretty frequently)
The Vtech Precomputer 1000 was about as close as I could come to having a reasonably working computer at the time. It let me do some BASIC programming, and play a few games, but not much else. It was our navigational console.


Retrotech did a great video recently on this device, check it out!

The NES/Gameboy Gadget.

Obviously you can see the Nintendo Entertainment System and Game Boy that functioned as some kind of control panel, and there isn’t much to say about that beyond that I still have those. IMG_2151.jpg

Wow, looking at this now, I don’t think I have cleaned these in…ever. I should probably do that. They’ve been in storage for at least 20 years, and while I like having them, it isn’t like I desperately needed to break into my Real Ghostbusters lunchbox for one of the three remaining games I own these days and play them: Rocket Ranger, Predator and American Gladiators.

So there you have it.

I wish I could remember any of the games we played in my room beyond “some star trek thing” but it is nice to have a few photos that I can look back on and try to figure out what was happening rather than complete swiss-cheese brain.

Thanks for joining me on this self-indulgent journey through a couple rad childhood photos!

%d bloggers like this: