Saturday, January 30, 2010
I really love shrimp---even fictional shrimp! Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. is a chain of restaurants themed to the 1994 Tom Hanks movie, Forrest Gump. The first Bubba Gump's restaurant debuted in 1996.
My first visit to Bubba Gump's was in October 2008 at the location in Anaheim, California's GardenWalk shopping district. Some of the people working there got a kick out of the fact that I had an Alabama Driver's License.
In November 2009, I got to visit Bubba Gump's at Universal CityWalk in Orlando, Florida. The staff seemed to enjoy giving little Forrest Gump trivia tests. I did pretty well!
I visited the Anaheim location twice in the same week. It was nice to escape the dinner and fireworks crowd at Disneyland and walk to GardenWalk for a relaxed meal. I got a Shrimp Po' Boy sandwich one night, and a Dixie Fishwich the other night. In Orlando, I tried the Baja Shrimp Tacos. Everything I tried was great!
When Forrest Gump was released, people often called me "Lieutenant Dan" (I still hear this today). I also still get called "Daniel-san" (from The Karate Kid).
Pictured here are fiberboard magnets from the Orlando restaurant's Gift Shop. I also have a plush shrimp keychain and a shrimp baseball from the Anaheim store.
Bubba Gump's shrimp character is probably the cutest shrimp I've ever seen. There are two designs---one is seen in the logo and the keychain, and a more cartoony version is on the map magnet and baseball.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Boo Berry Cereal from General Mills is tough to find where I live, so when I saw a box of the blueberry-flavored breakfast treat while I was shopping this evening, I snatched it up without hesitation. Ironically, I found it at a grocery store called Bruno's, which was once a major chain, but they recently closed many locations, making the store difficult to find these days.
Boo Berry was first introduced to the line of Monster Cereals in 1973. His look has been changed over the years, evolving into a friendlier-looking ghost. He got a retro re-design not too long ago, and I really like his new appearance! It is very much in the "spirit" of the original look, but it has been tweaked and updated.
The back of the box features a cut-out Scary Monsters Poster. Count Chocula and Frankenberry were not available at Bruno's, so I did not get to see their posters.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
In the 1980s, I had a subscription to Muppet Magazine. This publication featured interviews with celebrities, an advice column from Miss Piggy, and movie reviews and other articles "written" by various Muppets. Of course, there were also parody posters and comic book style stories, too. The Summer 1985 issue featured a great, short little spin on Pinocchio called Punknocchio. This story was written by Cathi Rosenberg-Turow and illustrated by a very talented artist named Nancy Beiman.
This is 1980s Muppet insanity at its finest!
Of course, now we've come full circle and the Muppets are starring in some great commercials for Disney Parks, and Kermit and Miss Piggy are even featured in a new pre-parade at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.
The Muppets also recently had great success online with their version of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody.
It's time to get things started again, Muppets!
Monday, January 25, 2010
I only know about the Spider-Ham character from advertisements seen in 1980s issues of comic books like Heathcliff, but I would love to see this pig superhero revived by Disney. It could be a great franchise for the Muppets! Marvel's Spider-Ham could be turned into a new Muppet character and Miss Piggy could play his love interest. Kermit the Frog could even be the villain for a change--Green Froglin! Would a Spider-Ham attraction not be amazing to see as part of the Muppet Studios at Disney's Hollywood Studios? It would essentially be a spoof of Universal's Spider-Man ride---sort of like how the proposed Muppet Movie Ride in the 1990s would have been a take on the Great Movie Ride.
Disney, hire me already.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
As a kid, I had a very fun Hawaiian Punch Board Game. The game pieces were pineapples that you had to mold out of Play-doh (the mold was shaped like a can of Hawaiian Punch). Each player was armed with a large, hard plastic figure of Punchy, the Hawaiian Punch guy. When a player landed their pawn on someone's space, their pineapple got violently flattened by their opponent's plastic Punchy. Players really got into the game, and the game board got beaten up pretty badly. I can also remember laughing so hard during one game that root beer came out of my nose (ouch!). Sadly, I no longer have my Hawaiian Punch Board Game (it was too damaged for even someone like me to keep).
This "Where's Punchy?" ad is much more passive, but still awesome. This is from a Winter 1993 Delta Fantastic Flyer Magazine.
Punchy made his debut in 1962. He used to frequently assault a tourist character named Opie (sometimes called Oaf) in the name of comedy.
Friday, January 22, 2010
Snoopy is quickly becoming the Top Dog in the world of theme park mascots. The new Planet Snoopy children's areas in former Paramount Parks (Kings Island, Kings Dominion, Carowinds, California's Great America, and Canada's Wonderland) prove that this old dog still knows a few tricks---not bad for a character introduced in 1950!
Snoopy became the mascot for California's Knott's Berry Farm theme park in 1983. He got his own land, with rides aimed at kids, called Camp Snoopy (I loved the "Camp Snoopy" glass collection McDonald's sold in 1983---not sure if this was directly related to Knott's).
In 1997, Knott's Berry Farm was purchased by Cedar Fair, an Ohio-based company (with parks across the nation, including the very popular Cedar Point, in Sandusky, Ohio). The Peanuts gang was adopted by the Cedar Fair-owned parks. In 2006, Cedar Fair bought the former Paramount Parks, and now Snoopy and the gang greet small thrill-seekers all across the United States.
I really think that Cedar Fair should consider giving their Boo Blasters rides (the ghost blaster rides that were originally themed to Scooby Doo) a Great Pumpkin theme! It seems like it would be really easy to do. They could enlarge stills from the TV special or pictures from the books and use them as backgrounds or scenery (Planet Snoopy uses Peanuts comic strips to decorate areas around the rides). Instead of "shooting" you could shine a "flashlight" or something. You could relive Charlie Brown getting all those rocks in his Trick-or-Treat bag, see Snoopy kiss Lucy, and visit Linus and Sally waiting in the pumpkin patch.
Snoopy can also be found at Snoopy Studios in Universal Studios Japan, hosting rides and attractions that are exclusive to that park.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Cincinatti, Ohio is home to Kings Island, a theme park that used to feature the Hanna Barbera characters as mascots. There was a whole section devoted to them---Hanna Barbera Land. If you watched The Brady Bunch, you may remember that the family visited the park and Jan switched Mr. Brady's architectural plans for a Yogi Bear poster. Stupid Jan! Greg also got a job dressing up like Hair Bear from show The Hair Bear Bunch.
Hanna Barbera Land featured a boat ride called Enchanted Voyage (1972-1982), which took passengers through a TV set and past animated versions of many different HB characters. When the Smurfs became popular, Yogi and friends were evicted, and the ride became The Smurf's Enchanted Voyage.
The figures in the ride were very simple, and much like Christmas window displays. Some had no motion at all. The pictures shown here were taken by my Dad in 1988.
The Christmastime Smurf scene was the ride's finale, and the boats went up a very small lift hill and went down a very small drop. In the original ride, the scene was a carnival scene, hence the exciting drop.
For 1992, the Smurfs were evicted and the boat ride was ripped out. The ride became Phantom Theater, which was an omnimover Haunted Mansion-style ride. It was still part of Hanna Barbera Land, but featured no cartoon characters.
In 2003, the ride then became Scooby Doo and the Haunted Castle, a ghostblasters dark ride. By then, Hanna Barbera Land had begun the transformation to a Nickelodeon theme, and Scooby Doo was the only surviving HB character. However, the end has come for Hanna Barbera at Kings Island. Snoopy is taking over the entire area, which will now be called Planet Snoopy.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Before Jar Jar Binks divided Star Wars fans, there were the Ewoks! The little critters first appeared in the Star Wars movie Return of the Jedi in 1983. In 1985, the Ewoks debuted in an animated series, which included a segment featuring Droids R2D2 and C3PO. The Droids were dropped from the show in 1986. The cute, furry Ewoks translated nicely to Saturday Morning television, alongside the fantasy worlds of the Smurfs, Pac-Man and Q-Bert (I loved Q-Bert). I thought the cartoon versions of the Ewoks were far more appealing than the characters in the film.
In 1986, Star Comics (part of Marvel Comics) debuted an Ewoks comic book. Star Comics also published comics books featuring the Droids, plus other favorites of the time like Thundercats, Fraggle Rock, Muppet Babies, and Peter Porker (a Spiderman spoof with a pig character---please revive this, Disney!).
I have an Ewoks animated series videotape I bought years ago at Big Lots. The problem is that I no longer have a working VCR. I'm pretty sure you can find the series on DVD these days.
Here's a great set of stickers from 1983, and a couple of comic books from 1986. Admit it, they are cute!
If you weren't a fan of the Ewoks from the film, maybe you should give these more animated versions a try.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Sugar Bear was the mascot for Post Super Golden Crisp cereal (formerly Super Sugar Crisp and before that just Sugar Crisp) and in 1985, he starred in animated ads featuring confrontations with some wild animals that tried to part the suave, Bing Crosby-like bear from his caramel-colored, puffed-wheat cereal.
Post always did great cereal premiums, and this collection featured figurines of Sugar Bear and all the thugs that tried to mug him in the latest commercials. I was so excited about these toys! My favorites were the gang of greaser tigers.
I had cut out the picture off the box (I think there was an order form so you could get the whole set, which I did). Post's marketing worked, because I never really liked the taste of Sugar/Golden Crisp much (who were they fooling with the name change, really? The character was still SUGAR Bear!).
Yes, I still have the whole set of characters!
Sunday, January 10, 2010
My family made quite a few trips to Gatlinburg, Tennessee in my youth, and my favorite part of those visits was seeing the trolls you could find at the gift shops there. These are handmade trolls--Arensbak Trolls from 5 Arts Studio, crafted in the mountains of Tennessee.
This small company has been making all kinds of trolls (and now gnomes and troll dogs and troll cats) for many years in all kinds of sizes. Some trolls have eyes that light up! They are made primarily of materials found in the forests of Cosby, Tennessee (near Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg). The company's founder, Ken Arensbak, was from Denmark, and decided to give Scandinavia's Trolls a Southern twist.
I'm thinking this picture of me (on the left--ha ha!) standing with one of the larger trolls is from 1989---it looks like I'm at a General Store of some sort. I don't own one of these trolls, but maybe someday I will.
Arensbak Trolls have their own website, so you can go check them out and even order one!
Saturday, January 9, 2010
The 1990 animated TV series TaleSpin was a very unique project for Disney, and unlike any spin -off they've done. This was not a sequel to the film The Jungle Book by any means. Disney TV Animation took Baloo the bear, King Louie the orangutan, and Shere Khan the tiger and put them in new roles and a whole new world. Baloo became a cargo pilot and interacted with a whole new set of characters, along with Louie (now a nightclub owner) and Shere Khan (a ruthless business tycoon). I enjoyed the show and its inventive stories and colorful characters (and I love the theme song).
Disney hasn't tried anything like it again. How about using characters from The Lion King? Let's go crazy here! There could be a series with Simba and Scar as dueling race car drivers. Simba's pit crew could consist of Timon, Pumbaa, and Zazu. Scar would have Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed. It could be called Roarin' Racers! How about it? Too much?
Kellogg's cereals promoted TaleSpin and other Disney Afternoon shows for multiple years. This Baloo stamper has a 1990 copyright and was from a box of Frosted Flakes. The logo is the old version seen in concept art shown in The Disney Channel Magazine prior to the show's Spring 1990 sneak preview (I have that somewhere---some media slipped by featuring slightly different character designs for Kit, Rebecca, Molly and Baloo).
Monday, January 4, 2010
This may be the most unusual line of Disney merchandise that I've ever seen because it depicts Bambi as a ROBOT! How insane is this?!? These are so cute that it's painful. It's a set of Robo-D capsule toys produced by Yujin of Japan, and they are sold in vending machines. I have seen machines selling Tomy Disney capsule toys for years now at movie theaters and many chain stores. I got these online. These are small--that's how I justified buying them.
This set also features Pete (I have a Pete collection that I will cover at some point), Popotto (I think this character was created for the Robo-D line--not sure on that), Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh. I have seen other sets with Donald Duck, Minnie Mouse and Stitch.
Sunday, January 3, 2010
Here are pictures from Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom in 1986. I'm sporting an Epcot 83 shirt (it had been my brother's, and I'm aware that it is a little snug on me). Anyway, I'm posing with Alice in Wonderland's White Rabbit and Tigger (and for the record, I'm not related to any of the other people in these pictures---the place was just mobbed, and Meet N' Greets weren't even a glimmer in a Disney Executive's eye yet).
OK, this has bugged me for years. Who approved this White Rabbit costume? The clothes look right, but the head looks nothing like the character. It looks like a white version of Thumper with a black nose. Maybe I just answered my own question---they may have gone the cheap route and just altered a Thumper costume. At any rate, they have the costume looking on-model these days. And the old White Rabbit costume is what they use for their Easter Bunny and Mrs. Easter Bunny.
Then there's Tigger. Tigger only has a black nose at the theme parks. The answer to this riddle is in the picture---Tigger's black nose features mesh eye/air holes so the poor soul inside can see the possible abuse some little rugrat is about to inflict. Does the current costume have these holes in the nose? If not, maybe they should think about addressing the color. Nitpicking, I know!
Check out the stylin' Epcot shirt seen in the Tigger picture. I love the 80s.
Friday, January 1, 2010
The exciting brochures with their beautifully drawn fun maps really made me want to visit Magic World Kid's Park---the talented map artist did a fantastic job to attempt to make the place seem incredible. I never got a chance to visit (we drove by it), but it seemed to me that in reality, it was more like a mix of crazy miniature golf course decor with some rides. Many people have fond memories of Magic World, and I can totally understand why. It looked like a fun place for a kid to visit.
Magic World had two dark rides: A Haunted Castle Ride and a Magic Carpet Ride. The rides probably contained very simple moving figures.
In 1989, the park added a Dragon Coaster Ride. I'm pretty sure this was a powered coaster and I think I saw a version of this ride at a fair sometime in the last decade.
I don't think Magic World ever pretended to be a big theme park. One of the brochures notes that a great time takes as little as 2 1/2 hours. Sadly, the little park shut down sometime in the 1990s.