Saturday, April 23, 2011

She Blinded Me With Science!

She Blinded Me With Science!

An homage to my lovely and brilliant wife.

She's an Anatomy and Physiology Professor. Here she is in her lovely classroom, with her lovely cat dissection. The whiteboard features some of her authentic scientific type gibberish!

Thanks to Mijasper for the inspiration for the microscope.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Top 12 Toys From My Childhood (Part 2)

Top 12 Toys From My Childhood (Part deux)

Time for Part 2!

6. Mego Action Figures

First, let's get one thing straight. These are ACTION FIGURES NOT DOLLS. Yes, they have removable clothing but that does not make them dolls.  Okay, so the Star Trek figures had a mock Enterprise bridge that folded up in a little carrying case like Barbies. THAT DOES NOT MAKE THEM DOLLS.  I have never played with dolls and I am secure in my manhood.
"We are totally not dolls in a doll case!'

Okay, now that we've taken care of that let's talk about these Mego dol - er action figures. Mego made a ton of these things back in the 70's. I had both superhero figures and Star Trek figures. I didn't have the girlie Enterprise bridge doll case thingy 'cause I was way too butch for that, and my parents couldn't afford it, but mostly I was too butch. I had quite a few of the superhero figures: Supes, Spidey, Lizzard, Batman and Robin, Joker, Riddler, Penguin and Iron Man. I also had a couple of the Star Trek figs. Of my originals, only the Lizzard remains (lost the coat). I traded almost all my Star Wars figures for Star Trek so I have a decent Mego Star Trek collection now.

5. Kenner SSP Smash-Up Derby

I had a good number of SSP cars. Each car had a rip cord, or T-stick, that you inserted in a slot in the car and when ripped, the car would take off. These were fun but the best of these were the Smash-Up cars. You and a friend would each take a car, rip the cord, put them down and watch them jump the ramps and gloriously crash into each other with parts flying off in all directions. It hits all of the boy brain sensors. Speed? CHECK. Collisions? CHECK. Explosions? CHECK. Endorphins released. AW RIGHT!!
4. Playmobil

My dear wife is a beautiful, smart, wonderful woman. Unfortunately, she does suffer some delusions and one of them is that Playmobil is a greater toy than the #1 toy on this list. Not then. Not now. Not ever.

Not even on Bizaro world.

Still, her delusion aside, Playmobil is nevertheless, awesome. It was even more awesome when I was a kid. I had a whole bunch of Playmobil back in the day and I played the hell out of that mobil. I had the set pictured here. Nearly all my stuff was cowboy/western. Sadly, my Playmobil is long gone...

3. Micronauts by Mego

Micronauts were awesome sauce. I had many, many figures and sets. Unlike the Star Wars toys - these featured a LOT of shooting-your-eyes-out action! Micronauts were also famed for their interchangeability. Like the set featured to the left, which I owned, where you could take it apart and reassemble it in many different formations. The outer wings could also be used like guns. 
Karza: "Yes, I'm happy to see you."

My best friend and I were really into these things. He had Baron Karza (pictured right) and I had Force Commander. These figures were larger than the other Micronauts and had magnetized limbs, making them very customizable. They also had steeds (Oberon and Andromeda) so you could transform them into centaurs. They could also pummel foes  by shooting off their hands or firing bullets out of their belly buttons. There are so many days when I wish I could do this. I still have a few of these toys. I have Force Commander and Oberon, Acroyer, Pharos and Repto (my son broke him *sigh*) as well.

2. Hot Wheels / Matchbox Cars

I had this car. This car is now worth over $6000. I no longer have this car. Shoots self.

Actually, no it's not worth anywhere near that (so put the gun away Pete!) but still, a bunch of these cars are worth some good coin and I used to have 80+ of the damn things. But this is not a list about the value of collectible toys but about the play value I has as a kid. Aside from the #1 toy on the list, I played with die-cast cars more than anything else, especially in my younger childhood. Most often, I'd play a game called "Smash-up Derby." I would dump the cars on the floor, turn them all right side up, and, one by one, run them at each other. If a car got turned upside-down, it was "out." This would continue until all the cars had been eliminated and a winner declared. Needless to say, my collection would not be in pristine condition if I had it still.


LEGO. When historians rank the most important developments in human endeavor they will probably site fire, the wheel, and the lever. LEGO will probably not make the list. The historians can suck it. 

LEGO is such a monumentally epic toy that, of all the items on this list, it is the ONLY one that is still an active part of my life. Yes, at 45 years of age I still build, and play, with LEGO. I expect LEGO will be with me for the rest of my life.

What was my first set? I can't say for sure but the earliest one I remember was 565 Moon Landing. It featured brick built astronauts (the amazing mini figure had not yet been invented). I remember building a pirate ship in 2nd or 3rd grade. It was quite large and had a removable deck with cannons below. I was quite proud of it. Another early creation was my Battlestar Galactica. The ship was manned by Coast Guard and Fireman mini-figures (these were some of the first available). I used nearly every brick in my collection to create it. It was horribly out of scale (obviiously) and the "Vipers" were un-manned. One thing I can say about my early building was everything was color coordinated. I despised hap-hazard multi colored building, or, as my friend and I used to call it: "Partridge Family Bus building."

I was present at the birth of the mini figure: the genius pinnacle of this genius product. I still remember the first time I saw one. My best friend had just received set 709 Police Boat.  

 It contained exactly 1 minifig, but I was totally blown away. Understand, original LEGO minifigures had no arms, legs or faces and looked like this: 
Lame, Lame-o, and Lamest

These new minifigures were a BIG deal to us. Hell they still are! LEGO has just released a fourth series of collectible minifigures that give off Awegasmic radiation if you get to close.
Awegasmic radiation.

Not long after the Police Boat, LEGO released a Space line, (when I first saw it I self combusted), Knights (Unobtainium, in that, I couldn't obtain them for the longest time even though my best friend had them and I was totally not jealous and have long since gotten over not being jealous) and many many successive waves of awesome. The picture at the start of this entry was probably my favorite Christmas present: Beta 1 Command Base. Thank you LEGO for many fulfilling years of creativity, imagination and fun.

That's my list and I'd love to hear what your favorite toys were!

Honorable Mentions: 
  1. Slime (fun for maybe an hour or so - then dirty, gritty and gross)
  2. Creepy Crawlers
  3. Stretch Armstrong ( you could stretch him...and...yeah...)
  4. Shogun Warriors (kinda similar to Micronauts and really deserved to be on the list but I kinda forgot about them so, sorry Shogun Warriors!)

Monday, April 18, 2011

LEGO Masterpiece of the Day

LEGO Snowspeeder by Larry Lars

Larry is a superb builder and he has made the best minifig scale Snowspeeder I have yet seen. This is a tricky model to render due to it's small size, 2 man crew, and complex angles but Larry has nailed it. He has generously added instructions as well. I may very well have to build one myself.

See more of Larry's stuff here.

Top 12 Toys From My Childhood (Part 1)

Top 12 Toys From My Childhood (Part the first)

Some days, you wake up and time has slipped away. And suddenly it's hard to find, those memories you left behind. Remember? Do you remem -  aw, hell, enough of that. If your old enough to remember that song you may know what I'm talking about here. If not, then GET THE HELL OFF MY LAWN, YA WHIPPER SNAPPER!!

Anyway, sometimes I do remember the "times of my life" and some of my strongest childhood memories are of the toys I used to play with. My memory is not the greatest, just ask my wife.  I may not recall family trips or special moments but by God, I remember these damn toys! Sadly, most of these toys are just that - memories. I still have an extensive and active collection of one toy on this list, and bits and pieces of another, but most of them are long gone.

Most of these toys date from the early to late 70's my prime childhood years (as opposed to the late childhood years of my mid 40's).

Join me, if you will, on a trip down my memory lane. 

12. Marx Pit Change Charger

This toy was a Christmas present as I recall. I'm not sure if it was something I asked for or if it was just something my parents thought I'd like. Either way it was awesome. This was a toy/model kit. It was a car, a Dodge Charger, that featured a removable engine, wheels, and doors. You could also remove quarter panels and replace them with "damaged" ones, which could then be "repaired." It came a little tool chest and jack as well as an engine hoist. It was also quite large as I remember. It was fun because my Dad helped me build it. Good times. This toy is now but a ghost.
11. Star Bird by Milton Bradley

Star Bird rocked! A sleek space ship with lights and sound? Hells yeah!

Star Bird was simply made for swooshing. As I recall, it had a couple of different sounds like for firing lasers and engines. The lasers canons on the front and the canopy would light up. Also, the wing tips were actually removable fighters. Awhile back I still had the ship but no fighters. I no longer know where the Star Bird has ventured...
10. Six Million Dollar Man Action Figure

I can still here that cheesy echoey sound effect, "enh enh enh enh onh onh onh onh." I loved me some Six Million Dollar Man show so it was a no-brainer that I'd want the toy. The figure was a fair representation of Major Steve Austin in a snazzy red cloth jumpsuit. It was loaded with features! You could look through a hole in the back of his head and see out his bionic eye. You could lift heavy objects (like the car engine he came with) using his bionic grip and power arm. You could peel back the skin on his bionic arm and reveal his bionic circuitry. You could remove his pants to reveal his bionic - er, no, actually you couldn't do that.

I don't know where Major Austin is these days...probably not better or stronger than he was.

Pew pew.
9. Kenner Star Wars Toys
Pew, pew, pew! Han Solo's 'piece' just rocked. I had this very firearm, as well as numerous figures and vehicles. You kids may not realize this but Star Wars was kind of a big deal back in the day. Yeah, I was one of the many zillions of spellbound kids gazing at the big screen, dazzled by the epnormic spectale that was Star Wars. I was moved by the Force. The Force that flowed through me, through my Mother and through her pocketbook to purchase many, many Star Wars toys. As much as I loved these toys, I always had some problems with them. First, the figures had crap for articulation. The heads turned and they could goosestep - no elbow or knee joints. They looked especially stupid when sitting. Darth Vader, dark lord of the Sith, sitting like a toddler. "I find your lack of cookie and nap disturbing." They looked even dumber in the vechicles which were horribly out of scale. Still they were the only representation of my beloved Star Wars so they were loved despite their flaws.

(Insert your own joke here)
Kenner had a promo back before Empire came out where you could send away for what promised to be the most AWESOME action figure of all time, some mysterious dude named Boba Fett. I had no idea who or what he was, but he had the most kick-ass outfit ever and I HAD to have him. He had the extra awesome feature of a firing jet-pack rocket launcher! Sign me up! So I rapidly bought figures to get the required proof of purchase and mailed away for him. I was sooooo revved when he arrived only to be given a massive case of childhood blue balls when I discovered that the firing mechanism was disabled. Epic. Disappointment. Thank you, Douche Parent who's kid shot his eye out, for disabling my childhood...

Boba is the only remaining remnant of my Star Wars Collection. I traded most of it to reacquire some of #6 on this list...

No place to go and all day to get there.
8. VertiBird by Matel

I had a couple of different VertiBird sets but they were all pretty much the same; a small plastic helicopter tethered by a metal strip to a central base. A control, connected to the base, allows the copter to go up down forward or backward and fly in endless circles. You could pick up objects with a hook on the copter and fly them around and set them back down and pick them up again and set them down and fly in circles get the idea.

I had one set that had lights and glow-in-the-dark features so you could turn off the lights and fly circles in the dark.

7. Hasbro Ghost Gun

This was a fun one. You go in the bathroom, turn out the lights and... (get your mind out of the gutter ya filthy animal!) fire up the Ghost Gun! Soon your blasting the un-living hell out of un-living things. Take that Casper! The gun, which looks like it was based on a WWII German machine gun, was hella awesome. It was actually a projector. You would insert strips of "ghosts" and they would be projected on the walls where you could blast their cytoplasmic asses! The trigger end of the gun featured a lot of 'play' so you could aim at the ghosts. I frequently played with the gun as a gun, blasting imaginary enemies instead of the undead.

Alas, the ghost gun has quite probably met it's maker, which is why ghosts are running rampant these days. Who ya gonna call?

Friday, April 15, 2011

LEGO Masterpiece of the Day

LEGO Masterpiece of the Day

"Daddy loves Froggy...Froggy loves Daddy!"

If you love Mel Brooks and brilliant LEGO mocs then do yourself a favor and click on the rest of this brilliant gallery dedicated to Blazing Saddles. It's filled to the brim with scenes from the movie. The "French Mistake" scenes are perfect! Genius stuff!

LEGO Royal Wedding

LEGO Royal Wedding

If your like me your in a constant state of panic about the upcoming Royal Wedding. God knows, if I don't know what the Bride's mother's sister's dog is wearing I will rend my clothing and wail at the heavens.

Fortunately, it's not all that difficult (impossible) to miss news about the big event. Also fortunately, occasionally some actual interesting news comes about, such as this. Apparently Legoland Windsor has seen fit to render the affair in the bestest medium of all: LEGO.

So if you were wondering what the Bride's mother's sister's dog might look like in LEGO your likely to find it here.

Thanks to Ellen for the tip!

Dinosaurs LIVE!!

Wish this had happened to me when I was a kid...

This might be the most epic thing I've seen in awhile. Via Boing Boing.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Lego Masterpiece of the Day

Double Trouble by Joris Blok

Prepare for trouble! I love LEGO. I love Pokemon. So what's not to love about this MOC? The Pikachu is really brilliant. I've tried to conceive how one might make Pika in LEGO but this is probably better than anything I'd have been able to come up with. The tail is genius.


Koffing Used Smog!

Here's my take on the poison Pokemon Koffing, pre-evolution of Weezing. The original Koffing is pretty cute but I've gone with a more realistic look.