Gremlins Online!

Your home for all things Gremlins

Category Archives: Website Updates

{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.

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!

Gremlins Animated Series In The Works?

Variety Reports that there WB is working on a Gremlins animated series for their upcoming streaming service!
Check out the full article here.

While Variety is a much more reliable source than the typical third-hand updates we have been getting for Gremlins news lately, it is best to take this with a grain of salt. This may be very early in development and may take a long time to see come to screens, if ever.

Let’s hope for the best!

{Rad Chat} 4 Movie Covers That Terrified Me – Volume 1

 

Growing up, I had a video store about 3 blocks away from my house named Nord Video. This was essentially my home away from home, and it captured my imagination something fierce, especially when it came to horror movies.

I loved browsing the movies at Nord video, it was your typical 80’s video rental store, with awesome standees and posters all over the slightly too-small space and floor-to-ceiling shelves of movies.

my-pet-monster-live-vhs.jpg

Usually you would find me there browsing the video games or renting the My Pet Monster VHS Movie for the 27th time, but while my mom was looking for something to watch I would peek around the corner and see the horror section. I say peek because the covers absolutely terrified me as a child. Something about how they didn’t really tell you much but seemed to hide a terrifying experience that I imagined would be a million times worse than what it was.

When thinking of movies that triggered that fear response for this article I realized this batch is exclusively movies from 1986.
’86 seems to be my year. As much as I love 1984 thanks to Gremlins and Ghostbusters, 1986 is a huge year for me in movies; Trick Or Treat (featuring Sammi Curr, Rock’s Chosen Warrior), My Pet Monster, Little Shop Of Horrors, The Fly, Maximum Overdrive, Invaders From Mars, Rawhead Rex and so many more.

1. Critters

Critters1.jpg

Right off the bat, we have Critters. This cover confused and scared me because of the Krite grinning right at me, but yet it seemed reminiscent of a Gremlin. Like some sort of distant cousin. The back of the video was just as confusing, since it didn’t actually have shots of the creatures, but random pictures of the main cast. The shot of April Brown being attacked by the giant Krite’s arm always seemed to be a snake-type creature to me. It still looks odd to this day.

2. Chopping Mall

ChoppingMall

I remember this cover vividly being more unsettling than anything else to young me. I was drawn to this because I could not get my head around the image for the life of me. I was a teenager before I actually saw the movie and then realized it was a bag of body parts, instead of some weird bug-eyed troll creature with feet-like hands and unusual ear placement. Yeah, I was a weird kid. This is still one of my favorite movies of all time, I can only imagine how much I would have loved it as a kid if I could have gotten over the cover.

3. Troll

TROLL.jpg

So here we have Troll. This was the big one that kept me from going all the way down the horror aisle. I would watch this cover from the corner of my eye, then when I got within a few feet, I would run around and go to the other side. I would not cross Torok’s gaze. Again it goes back to the stare, similar to the Critters cover, it just seems to follow you, even if you hide behind the Mickey Mouse standee on the end by the kids zone! To be fair the tagline just enhanced the terror as it beckons the potential viewer to “Come Closer”. Nope big ol’ nope there.

4. House

House1.jpg

Again the tagline did wonders for my young brain, much more effective than the movie was itself at being scary. Like there is no comparison for the cover vs the actual film. There is no hint that the film is a weird horror-comedy (the original one I saw as a kid didn’t have the review on the cover) but instead a movie about disembodied zombie bionic hands coming to kill people after ringing their doorbells.
Seriously I had no clue what to expect, and the funny thing is when I finally saw the film around the age of 12? maybe 13? I discovered that I had seen parts of it on TV or at a family member’s house, I just never knew that it was this film.

Thanks for joining me in this journey of nostalgia and video cover related fear. I am going to go curl up under some covers and ignore the fact I just stared Torok the Troll in the face for nearly 10 minutes straight.

 

%d bloggers like this: