Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Santa Catcher, Naughty or Nice?

When I was young, Santa was held in awe. A respected, slightly feared, mysterious man that knew all, saw all, and rewarded the good while reminding the bad that there were consequences for their actions. Would I have ever considered trapping him? I don't think so.

That's why this vintage "Santa Claus Catcher" and last week's Cul De Sac Sunday comic strip are a bit surprising to me. They both involve catching (trapping) Santa with some sort of device. It must be some sideline Christmas thing that a fringe element of children want to do. It's downright crazy...or is it? I mean, getting his current bag of toys is obvious, but are there other unknown benefits? Does trapping Santa give you ultimate power over him? Do you get anything you'd ever want, all year long? Does Santa have to do your bidding, like a Genie, or to a lesser degree, a Zombie? Perhaps there is more to this "Catching Santa" thing than I care to admit. It is intriguing, but walks the naughty line dangerously close. Santa might not take to kindly to an attempt to trap him, or the greed it implies

This trap (most likely from the '60s) is great, it's like a toothed bear style, you set it, and then place it in hopes to catch big red. I guess Santa doesn't feel any pain, or you better hope he doesn't. You'd need to open your own Coal store if he does. But lets be honest, the odds of it This is Santa we're talking about, you don't even see him, let alone trap him. There are also a couple of sheets of paper on North Pole stationary, they basically say "...better luck next time." and then a secret parent's envelope with a small piece of red cloth they're supposed to put in the trap. Kind of a "Shucks! Just missed him!" thing.

I just don't want to know if Santa ever has to chew his own leg off because of one of these traps. Ahhh heck, what am I saying, nobody will ever catch him...I hope. I guess I still hold him in awe.

Merry Christmas!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Cool Finds: Santa Claus Funnies

Last weekend I ran across a stack of old comics at a show, lots of great Dell, Gold Key, and some '60s Marvel. This one is perfect for this week's cool finds, a 1957 Santa Claus Funnies. Santa is no different than any other hero, maybe better. He has "seeing" powers, only is needed one night a year, and he gives you stuff instead of just saving you...well that last one's a toss-up. Anyway, it makes sense that he gets his own comic. I can't wait until there's a Ghost Rider, Santa Claus crossover.

The cover art is pretty stuff.

Happy Holidays!!

Monday, November 9, 2009

I'm still...

... in the process of moving my office. So here's a YOUNG Stevie Wonder and Diana Ross. Don't ask why, just watch...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Worst Game Ever

Oh Milton Bradley, what were you thinking? I mean the title alone is snooze worthy, "Conserving Natural Resources Game and Poster Cards". You could have at least tricked us with "Eco Eco Dinosaurs" and just not had any dinosaurs involved, or "Don't Break the World" with a cartoon guy balancing the earth on a stick...and then make the boring contents be the same. But you made the title a warning, which I suppose is a good thing. Because no kid (nor adult) in their right mind would consider playing this game. Was this some sort of community service in game form, did some kids choke on the small plastic pieces from one of your fun games, so the government punished you into making this? That's gotta be it, because this is like cardboard Ambien.

Now, I'm all for conservation, and I love the earth, but I don't like to be tricked. Educational stuff that's disguised as "fun" bothers me, in fact it even bothered me when I was young, and I didn't fall for it then either. Oh, word games...lame, flash cards...lame, conserving natural resources game and poster cards...lame squared. See, I just squared "lame", and it was somewhat educational...that was lame. School's supposed to be boring, and toys/games are supposed to be fun. We go through get to the other. I'm not sure which one didn't get the memo, Milton or Bradley, but they both needed to be fired.

"Who wants to play Conserving Natural Resources Game and Poster Cards??"

"I wanna be Stripmining!" "I'm Clearcutting!"

It's not lost on me that this game is for schools, and since it's from 1971, this ecology theme was popular (Hippies). But even back then, if I saw the teacher grabbing this down from a shelf, I'd be like "Ohhhh crap!", and my mind would think about Scooby Doo.

When I first got this, I thought the cover was sun faded, but no. It's monochromatic blue, like the printer ran out of the other two pigments needed to make the full spectrum. "Ehhh, no big deal. Nobody's gonna play it anyway. Ship em out!". It sucks, and the game board, conservation cards, spinner, all of the game parts, they all suck too. I know that's a generalization, but what do you expect from me...I didn't pay attention in school!

Here's the scene, a large cave-like room, flames, distant screams, and a devil guy sitting at a desk. There are all these tattered, soot covered lost souls wandering around and sitting at tables. A fresh guy walks in, suit is still clean, hair all combed. Devil guy looks up. "Hello, Mr Jones. Welcome to Hell. You'll be spending eternity in this room, but the good news is, the game closet is right over there." He points his pitchfork toward the closet doors. Mr. Jones walks over. "Oh, well...this isn't so bad." He opens both doors wide, and all he sees are dusty bare shelves, except for one thing...Conserving Natural Resourses Game and Poster Cards. "Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!"


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Down Time

I'm a bit busy re-arranging my office space right now...soooo, I won't have a lot of new posts. I'll be back at it in a few weeks. In the mean time watch some fine television shows, read a book, take a walk, enjoy the internets. The world is your oyster!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Cool Find: Sept 12

If you were a kid in the '60s or '70s, you might remember Funny Face drink mixes by Pillsbury. They were a Kool-Aid like drink mix, but each flavor had a character, rather than one main guy like Mr. Kool-Aid...OH YEAH! Funny Face had some pretty cool mail-order promo stuff too, the drink cups, some ramp-walkers, pillows, and the larger item in my picture there, the Pitcher.

I've had all the cups (mugs) for some time now, but have been looking for a pitcher. I finally found the Goofy Grape pitcher at the Coburg Oregon Antique Fair this last weekend. It'll look cool in my advertising collection.

An interesting note about the character names. There were two flavors, Injun Orange and Chinese Cherry, that were changed out of race sensitivity. They were later called Jolly Olly Orange, and Choo-Choo Cherry. You can see them in the below commercial.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Nutty Mad Men

I've been watching Mad Men on AMC, and of course being a retro-head, I love it. The items in the background, the clothes, the products they talk about, love it, love it, love it. I watched the very first episode, the very first time it aired...Ohhhhh, I'm so hip!

Actually, I was drawn to it for obvious reasons (I'm not that hip). It's set in a time I really like as a collector and vintage dealer, the early to mid '60s. When design was almost more important than function. The lamps were rocket sleek, couches broad and flat, suits dangerously sharp, and the products were frivolous. The "Ad Men" were more than happy to tell us why we needed all these items, and as a naive nation, we were more than happy to eat it up. Things haven't changed much since then, at least in the world of advertising. Manipulation is easy when it's plugged into emotion.

This 1960s Marx Nutty Mads figure is named Suburban Sidney. He's a whacked out business man commuting on a tricycle, his briefcase flung out for balance, tie flapping in the breeze, and little hat perched on a crazed head. He's pretty much the opposite of Don Draper. I think Don could commute on a tricycle and make it look good...damn him.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Cool Find: Aug. 7

Sea Monkeys are an enigma, they're a blatant rip-off, yet everyone accepts that. In fact, they not only accept the false advertising by the Sea Monkey folks...they love them because of it! They're right up there with the X-Ray Specs that were also sold in comic books, we all fell for the joke. It's all part of learning a lesson as a kid I guess, it's almost like the government gives them permission to teach us all a lesson about frivolous spending. How many kids have uttered "What the hell, creepy little shrimp? Where's the little family? They don't even have faces, what the hell?!" That's when dad would walk by, "Seeeee, I told you to save your money."

Lesson learned. Thanks Sea Monkeys!

You gotta love them though. It's more the concept of Sea Monkeys, rather than than the reality of them. They really play on the every kid wants a pet monkey thing.

This was one of my weekend finds, an unusual item from the world of Sea Monkeys. It's the Living Sea Gem. A '60s era necklace that you were supposed to put a Sea Monkey in and wear around. Sorta like a hamster ball, but for wierd little shrimp. I'm not sure if you were supposed to kidnap the mother, the father, or one of the kids for this excursion that would surely end in death...but no matter, that's the life of a Sea Monkey...short.

I'm more facinated by the girl's hair than the necklace, I'm thinking spiders are living in there.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Stars Antique Mall Update

I've moved into a second spot in Stars and Splendid. I share it with my friend Paula, it's right next to my first spot, and right across the aisle from her regular spot. In my old space I do kitschy, fun, pop culture, and toys, but in the new shared spot, we're doing primitives, antiques, and somewhat of a farm house thing. It gives us both a chance to do what we love in our old spots and something different in the new one. Paula is a master of color, design, and reclamation, and me with my whole "Retro" thing.

The colors in both our regular spaces are striking, bright, primary reds, yellows, blues, as well as vintage and mod colors like pink and chartreuse. The new spot will allow us to have natural wood tones, chippy whites, accented with glass, enamel ware, and pottery. We'll use classic themes like books, garden, and vintage black tech (typewriters, old cameras...that sorta stuff) to spice it up.

During the Holidays it'll give us a chance to really shine with vintage Halloween, Christmas, Valentines...all without having to re-make our normal spots. Fun and good for me having to think outside my normal world of Hot Rods and Tiki Lights.

It is in Stars and Splendid, right next to Spot 37, and right across from spot 77...NEW 37/77!

There are links to the Mall in Departures and also down the right column further in an ad box.

Monday, July 27, 2009

S'Cool Find

I found this a few weeks back, it's one of my favorite early '70s models, The S'Cool Bus. It has been done as a Kit, a Hot Wheels car, and more recently a larger die-cast toy. Mattel purchased Monogram around this time and some of the best cross-over Hot Wheels and Model Kits came out of this era. The S'Cool bus is a Tom Daniel design, and so outlandishly sweet, it's easy to see why people like it so much. It's a funny car School Bus with a lift-up body, and powered by two massive Hemis.

This model is an original (it has been re-issued over the years) and fairly well done. Some early built-ups are done poorly, so when you find a good's a keeper. I like the fake windows with the kid silhouettes in them. Nothing like getting to your school a quarter mile away in 10 seconds...

Check out Tom's site over in departures. You'll freak out over all the customs he's done through the years.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Broken Promises

I want my flying car, my food synthesizing machine...heck, I'd even settle for a simple robot maid. Here it is 2009 and none of those things are a reality. I think that's what interests me about "retro futurism", what they thought was going to be the case in the future...just didn't come true.

The "they" I'm talking about is anybody from the past that speculated about things to come, from the writers of magazines like Popular Science, to the animators of the Jetsons. I guess it's easier to point out the things they got wrong, rather than all the ones they got right, easier...and more interesting.

The mice and men just assumed we'd be living on the moon, using jet packs to get to work, and eating food in pill form. They never stopped to think why any of those things would make life better... I mean really better. Moon living sounds kinda cool in some weird retro lounge way...but it would pretty much suck (literally sometimes). Food in pill form, kinda takes away the charm, and jet pack commuting...lots of corpses on the ground wearing ties.

The one thing they sorta got right was computers, in fact I think they underestimated their value by a long shot. I now carry a powerful computer in my pocket (iPhone), something I couldn't have even imagined ten years ago. Early visionaries still had computers taking up full rooms and spitting out punch cards, they didn't see the shrinking of the hardware or the potential of a virtual world. They got it wrong and right at the same time. They thought computers would be used for only big things, like to pick out the perfect mate or make important government decisions, and while those really did come true, we now know they do so much more than that. It's obviously tougher to predict the future than one would think. Thank goodness, because it gives "Retro Futurists" something to do.

The ultimate Futurist event was the 1962 Seattle Worlds Fair, AKA The Century 21 Exposition. It offered the promise of a sleek new world, but one of a 1950's consumerist optimism rather than what the '60s would later come to represent. As an example, the technology showcased for a woman was kitchen or home-maker based, no social or sexual equality was represented. Technology was our saving grace and America was king, as long as everything remained status quo. The Monorail, the Space Needle, the Science Pavilion, these are monuments to that age, or more accurately, the end of that age. I'm not saying Retro Futurism predictions didn't take place beyond the early '60s, but as the '70s approached, the plastic chrome plating wore off and the cynicism started to show through. It became more "Logan's Run", looked good, but with a serious downside. Now I'm just referring to mainstream pop culture and design, not so much deep science fiction literature. There were cynics in that realm long before the 70's (Brave New World).

My wife and I collect Seattle World's Fair stuff, and I could go on and on about all the neat-o items that were available. But to fit with my "flying car" theme, I'm highlighting this little paper pamphlet from the Ford Motor Company showcasing their Seattle'ite XXI concept car. It's an example of sweet retro-future styling, with some pretty accurate predictions. It predicts Fuel Cells, a Travel Computer, a GPS Map (it's in the rear view mirror), and a version of solar glass. These are all fairly accurate, and most more recent to the automotive world. It was styled like it was ready to take off and fly, bubble top, wings, and faux rocket tips on the rear end. It represents Retro Futurism pretty well. Seattle...Seattle' age cool...but still no flying.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Cool Find: July 3

I've wanted one of the "Rat Fink" type label makers for a long time,
but in the box? Me so happy! It's totally like a Hot Wheels "Farb".

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Disney's, A Christmas Carol: Train Tour

The Summer is an odd time to be thinking about Christmas, but if you're Disney Marketing and you only have five months to run a promotional train tour cross country, it's the perfect time. The Christmas Carol Train Tour stopped here in Portland yesterday (one day only) and my wife and I took the tour and checked out a sneak peek of the stuff.

Disney, like always, runs a class act. They had period costumed carolers singing while you waited in line, provided cold water, and overall keep things running smoothly. As you approached the train, the platform was decked out with old style gates and lamps, plus vintage style itinerary kiosks which billowed fake snow out of the top...kinda comical in the heat of July, but still pretty neat. The train itself was completely "wrapped" in the art of A Christmas Carol, one big moving billboard. Disney doesn't really mess around.

Inside? Well one word As you made your way through all the train cars, you saw production art, costumes, maquettes, models, technical explanation (this film is done with Motion Capture) and there were even personal items on loan from the Charles Dickens' museum...actual letters, pens, writings, and books. I really liked seeing them. A nice touch near the end of the tour was the "morphing stations". You could turn your face into one of four characters from the movie, they send it to you later in an E-mail. This was slightly better in theory than it was in reality, but cool nonetheless. I made a weird Benjamin Button'esque Tiny Tim. Lastly, you get off the train and then head to a large inflated tent (that looks like a brick building) where they show you roughly 10 minutes of footage. I was pretty impressed with what I saw.

So far rendering people and facial movement in CG has been less than convincing in the movies. I think that's why Pixar stylizes humans so much, they understand the creepiness factor. We know what a close-up of a human speaking looks like, how the face moves and contorts...and CG hasn't really captured that convincingly yet. Maybe it isn't a matter of the quality of the animator, maybe the problem is in us...the viewer. We know it isn't real, so our brains don't accept it. It appears to me (from just the small bit I saw) that Disney is trying to walk the line with facial features in this movie, somewhat stylized, somewhat real...a balance. Jim Carrey's Ebenezer is real...yet exaggerated. His face is pointy and wrinkled, but he looks like a real old man. If you were to see somebody like that in person, you'd freak out. The distraction of the acceptance (or not) is most likely the hardest thing to overcome in these CG movies. That remains to be seen in the case of this film.

I was satisfied with the overall design look, the interiors, the cityscape of 1840s England...all as wonderfully done as you'd expect it to be with carte blanche computer graphics at their disposal. I liked how Big Ben was not quite finished being built, accurate for the period when Dickens wrote it.

If it seems I'm taking a "wait and see" attitude, it's because I am. Disney is usually a safe bet to produce reasonable quality, but now they're taking one of the best stories ever written, and feeding it through their merchandising machine. A Christmas Carol is one of my all time favorites (my wife certainly knows this) and if you're going to do'd better do it well. I realize there have been lots of crappy versions over the years, great stories get told literally 100s of different ways, that's just a testament to their greatness. But when Disney takes a story and elevates it (Disney'fies it), it's no longer just some stupid Lifetime Network re-make with Meredith Baxter Birney and that guy from Animal gets pushed up to the front of Pop Culture's line of honor. That's why it'd better be good.

Surprisingly, one of the best versions of Mr. Dickens' beloved story is the 1962 Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol. I'll wait while you stop laughing........ (whistles, looks at fingernails). The 1962 airing is not only the first animated Holiday Special ever aired (Rudolph came out in 1964), it's in my opinion, one of the best of all time, AND one of the best re-tellings of the Dicken's classic. It has sadness, heart, wonderfully surreal animation, the voice talents of the great Jim Backus, and the all original music is fantastic. The music was written by the Broadway team of Jule Styne and Bob Merrill (Funny Girl). The actual story is framed in the typical Mister Magoo cartoon shtick, like he's blindly rushing to perform in a play, but when the curtain opens and the actual story starts, it's like Magoo is truly a thespian master! It's a friggin cartoon, yet wonderful in its simplicity.

Sadly, it gets lost every year in the hype of all the other specials. I recommend taking the time and searching it out.

As far as the Disney's, A Christmas Carol goes? I'm excited to see it, but it'll have to work real hard to be "Magoo Good".

Check this out: So much sadness captured in one song. He's singing a duet with his young self, my goodness...pure genius!

Friday, June 26, 2009

International Frisbee Association

You gotta love the slackers, they come up with all kinds of cool sports. Dudes out on the "quad" flinging frisbees at each other, hacky sackin, and skate boarding. If it rolls, flies, or bounces...a slacker will turn it into a sport. That's why this IFA packet from the late '60s gave me a chuckle. It's pretty serious business.

The Frisbee has several origins, but the most likely history starts with New England college students tossing pie plates from the "Frisbie Pie Company" back and forth for fun. Later we had the Pluto Platter, then the Wham-O Frisbee we all know and love.

Now, I'm a slacker, but in the late '60s I was still kinda young, so the only thing I was tossing was my cookies (yes, I mean exactly what you think). I'd never heard of the International Frisbee Association until I found this. It went pretty deep with a card for your wallet, some proficiency books, a proficiency card, and various sales sheets with "approved" discs. Even a newsletter "IFA News", about things going on in the world of kinda takes the slack right out of it. It's pretty cool in retrospect though, I dig the pictures of all the Greg Brady guys playing Frisbee, and also the color ad for the "Moonlighter" glow Frisbee.

I have an old packaged Frisbee, so I'll stick this packet next to it in my collection. I think I'll give the ol "Fris" more respect from now on.

Check out Vincent Price getting in on the act. I guess we all have a little slacker in us.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Circle

"Goodbye Old Me!" It was time for a make-over to my whole thing I do (which I'm not even sure what that is sometimes). So I came up with the concept of an all inclusive "umbrella" to cover everything, the collectibles, the antique mall spot, the, Retrodrome. I secured the .com, the Facebook name, have worked on this blog for several months, and soon my Ebay auction template will match too. I'm sure the look will change over time, and I'll add a real website at some point making this blog a branch off of that, but change keeps things fresh. I know building a singular presence will take some time, but that's ok (I've got nothing but time...). I'll have other side blogs (like my pee-chee-art one now) , and business cards made up...the whole thing. The circle will close, and it'll all be Retrodrome. Nothing earth shattering, just that.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Cool Find: June 12-13

"It's Whee-Lo, it's Whee-Lo...for fun it's a wonderful toy!!" Wait, that's the Slinky song. Nevertheless, the Whee-Lo falls into that same category of frivolous time waste toys. Like Silly Putty, Slinky, Etch-a-Sketch...the Whee-Lo was meant to occupy while you watched TV, rode in the car, or were busy not doing your homework. I used to get it whippin, the sound is unmistakable. I didn't have a boxed one in my collection until this weekend. Hey, what am I doing writing!? I gots me a Whee-Lo!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Cool Find: June 5-6

I pulled this from under a table at an estate sale on Saturday. There were actually two of them, I'm keeping one and selling one (in my current auctions). It's a mail-away Ralston Chex Cereal premium from the '50s "Space Patrol". There was a specific episode which had these Martian Totem Heads in it. The art and wording on the envelope are pretty cool, it has a Freaky-Tiki Mars thing going on...spiffy.

Check out the inside... ...and this:
Thanks to Captain Bijou

Monday, June 1, 2009

Keen on Pee-Chee

The teacher is going on and on about some boring subject, you shuffle in your desk chair, curse the clock, look down and there it is, the answer to your boredom. A trusted orange/yellow friend full of characters that you've gotten to know school year after school year, the humble, predictable, Pee-Chee folder. Those basketball players, that tennis girl...I think I'll doodle!

The Pee-Chee has gone away, it's actually been gone since the '90s, but most people don't even realize it. You mean I can't go down and buy a classic Pee-Chee? No, you can't. That's surprising, considering how much an icon of upper grade school days it was. It started in 1943, changed very little over the years (the art changed some), and is instantly recognizable to most Americans over a certain age. It was a simple idea, a card stock folder, side pockets (to keep papers from falling out), and an art design that didn't really change, it didn't need to. It was a Pee-Chee and the look was what made it that. The All-Season Portfolio depicted all the stuff I wasn't doing back in school, sports on the outside, learning on the inside. That's not to say it didn't help my with my education...quite the contrary.

It wasn't that I was bored in school...but I was bored stiff in school. The Pee-Chee offered me an outlet, doodles...but structured doodles. Every new Pee-Chee was a fresh canvas, but partially done. The challenge was to finish what the Pee-Chee design artist had started. Those aren't football players, they're two superheroes struggling on the ground for a Playboy least they were when I was done with them.

I'm making another blog to celebrate Pee-Chee art. I'll show some of my classics, I did some themes over and over. I'll also have the non-doodled Pee-Chee designs that you can print and doodle yourself. In this age of photoshop and computer art...Pee-Chee art is literally old-school. It's all about the "Chee" and how it helped me get through school. Check out

On a side-note: I never knew the Pee-Chee "girl on ski lift" was actually taken from a real photo, and not only that, it's Timberline Lodge's (Mt Hood OR) Magic Mile lift...Pee-Chee Keen.