Thursday, 26 September 2019

Tenth Anniversary Recap: 3. a: The Nintendo Game Watch

Christmas 1992, and I like most kids at this time am heavily into the home gaming consoles! It has been an entire year since receiving my Master System II- it would be another whole year before I would receive a Game Boy and until then I needed something that appeased my craving for gaming on those tediously long, boring bus journeys to school. The solution, my new Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. 3 Game Watch!  
Produced by Zeon this was one of three Nintendo LCD format watches with the other two being Tetris and Zelda. It was a simple enough game, considerably far removed from its Super Mario Bros. 3 namesake but with all the elements one had come to expect Mario, Princess, Boswer, Goombas, Koopa Troopers and pipes with some musical notes and a super leaf thrown in to make it feel a little more Mario Bros. 3’ish’. Game play: move along the course defeat Bowser, save the princess, then go back and do it again, just a little bit faster... Wasn’t a revolutionary game but it certainly whiled away those before mentioned bus trips (with its ‘blips’ and ‘bloops’ muted so as to not draw attention) it satisfied my need for platform gaming and not only that but it told me the time and alerted me when it was time to watch Bad Influence! on Children’s ITV
Although being a reliable time piece was it’s primary function, it certainly served its secondary function as a games device to the max and even when I wasn’t playing it I would remove it from my wrist so that my friend Gwynfor could have a go!  Countless games were played and its battery did Zeon proud, but inevitably, it died and it was put aside with every intention of taking it to our local watchmakers to get a new battery for it, but it never happened and as Christmas 1993 came round I now possessed that before mentioned Game Boy along with a new Batman the Animated Series watch effectively sealing the Game Watch’s fate and it remained in the drawer for 27 years, a relic from the past with no real place within my collections in the studio, more so when I started wearing a pocket watch instead, and so last week Omnibot put this much loved Christmas gift up for sale on our eBay store. Yes, the Nintendo logo had worn from the strap and there was a slight scratch to screen but never the less there it was on offer to the world in all its “sold as seen” splendor, a truly reluctant sale as it seemed to represent my love of this era in gaming that I never really left, having never really taken to the Play Station revolution days and beyond. 
I recently looked over some home movies and saw my younger self back in 1993 showing this watch off to my 85 year-old grandmother who was somewhat bewildered but amused at the notion of a plumber jumping over toadstools and tortoises. But funds are always required for the studio, far better for it to be part of someone else’s collection and for the money raised be put into my latest project pushing me ever closer to re-enacting other gaming activity I participated in when I wasn’t in my room playing a home console.... the arcade!   

Coming soon: Tenth Anniversary Recap: 3. b: The Polybius Project

© Arfon Jones 2019. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Friday, 13 September 2019

Happy Horror-day! Friday the 13th (1980)

Some well meaning counsellors decide to reopen Camp Crystal Lake, supposedly cursed since 1958 after some camp counsellors were murdered there after a claim of negligence the previous year that resulted in a young boy drowning in the lake. Despite numerous requests not to do so, work begins on preparing the camp for its first batch of campers before the counsellors are picked off one at a time by an unseen killer before the killer is finally revealed at the end...  Much like The Wicker Man entry before and the upcoming Halloween one what can I say about this movie that hasn’t already been said by fans, buffs and scholars alike since 1980? Although created to cash in on the success of Halloween in 1978 it seemed to become the most synonymous of all date themed and summer camp themed slasher films making it the most successful achieving ten sequels, a remake, a television show, novels, comic books, video games and a slew of merchandise! In fact the films alone have grossed over $529 million at the box-office worldwide and remained the highest-grossing horror franchise in the world until the release of Halloween (2018) last year and it all started with this one.  Friday the 13th has always had a ‘fun fact’ regarding the killer of this particular movie and how many forget who the actual killer is, but I will not go over that here, as I have vowed to keep all reviews spoiler free. Yes Halloween was the first, but if it hadn’t been for Friday the 13th I doubt I would have been able to do the previous eleven entries of this challenge (or my previous marathon challenge for that matter). Of course, the other thing that sets this movie apart from all the others is that I should essentially watch it again on the 13th of December as it will be another Friday the 13th... so if anyone is actually following this challenge let me know in the comments what I should do? Watch it again? Watch one of the sequels? (If so which one?) or the remake? Until then, I will see you again where it all started.... Halloween.

© Arfon Jones 2019. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Tenth Anniversary Recap: 2) Halley's Comet Society Tie

Following on from my mission to revisit previous blog posts from the past ten years we return to April 18th 2013 when I uploaded a post devoted to the history of the now defunct Halley's Comet Society ofLondon and how it had all came about after I had noticed Sir Patrick Moore wearing a blue Halley's Comet Society tie with the society’s '1986' logo embroidered on it in an episode of the Sky at Night from 1982. This society fascinated me and as there was very little about it online I made it my mission to correct this, resulting in a fairly comprehensive post (confirmed by numerous people who have reached out to me since uploading it) and I was so taken by the society that I decided I would like to own my very own society tie and thanks to my creative friends Barry McCabe and Iris Hung I was able to create one bearing the 2061 logo (the year Halley's Comet returns) I have since worn it to astronomy related events and gatherings ever ready to explain what the 2061 stands for! Since uploading I have only ever encountered two 1986 Halley's Comet Society tie owners but discovered that the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich have one in their collection along with thirteen of the '2061' variants! So, what else has happened since uploading that post?

Sir Patrick sporting his 1986 Halley's Comet Society tie
In 2015, Dr Brian May announced the sad news that despite all efforts, plans to convert Sir Patrick Moore’s former home Farthings in Selsey into museum (as Patrick had hoped) the idea had been abandoned due to impractical reasons and so the effects housed within had to be divided up and the house put up for sale and so Patrick’s professional possessions, observations and collection were donated to the Science Museum to be permanently available to scholars along with the promise of a permanent monument dedicated to Sir P. Other items were (quite rightly) donated to the Chichester Planetarium (of which I have also mentioned before on this blog and highly recommend you visit) because as Dr May explained, “This small but busy planetarium is one of the best possible living monuments to Patrick’s lifelong commitment to Astronomy. Every year it gives thousands of young students their first taste of the wonders of the Universe – and doubtless at this very moment is inspiring the next generation of Astronomers – as Patrick himself did for over half a century.” Some of the most salable of Patrick’s possessions were consigned to Christie’s, in London (his trademark monocle sold for £688) with all remaining items to be auctioned off at HenryAdams Auctions in Chichester on the 7th and 8th of October 2015.

Auctioneer Andrew Swain with one of the ten memento boxes

at Henry Adams Auctions, Chichester. October 2015 
Spot the Halley's Comet Society tie?

Many of the effects on offer at the Henry Adams Auction seemed to represent the great man such as his beloved xylophone (which sold for £1,005) his typewriter, orreries and Hawaiian shirts. At the auction 10 limited edition memento boxes were created containing a selection of Patrick’s belongings offering fans the opportunity to acquire their very own keepsake, as I looked through the catalogue there was one box that was of particular interest to me lot: 717. Not only did it have the Hawaiian shirt that he wore during our book launch in 2009 and the evening I proposed to Beth, but also a pewter mug, purse, pipe, paperweight, letter opener, four shot glasses and there among it all was a blue tie with '1986' embroidered on it...   His official Halley's Comet Society tie! I am delighted to say that I was the successful bidder at the auction and I now have my very own Halley's Comet Society tie, the very tie (if not THE tie) that prompted me to research into the society in the first place. Being able to say that I finally have one is fantastic, to know that it once belonged to Patrick makes it all the more special to me, I am delighted with it. Now if I can just figure out what that tie clip he wore was...

© Arfon Jones 2019. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Tenth Anniversary Recap: 1) Omnibot,Your Plastic Pal Who's Fun to Be With!

This will be the tenth anniversary of starting this very blog and we are just 30 posts shy of reaching the 400th mark so in the run up to that tenth anniversary 400th post milestone I thought I would recap some of the popular posts of the past 10 years. 
When things had become rather hectic for me in the studio I enlisted some help and that help was Omnibot! Having always wanted a robotic sidekick Omnibot (full name Omnibot 5402 RX also known as the “state of the FUN robot”) he did not disappoint. Although he had been in my employ since February that year (after some minor repairs), I devoted a blog post to him on the 5th of September 2018 mentioning how he carries and retrieves objects, answers the phone, sends faxes, brings refreshments and leaves birthday greetings for friends on social media along with the mammoth task of excavating and cataloging my extensive collection of collectibles and memorabilia for our Omnibot’s Robot Root-Out series before listing them on eBay to raise funds for projects and of course not forgetting playing back archival cassette tapes for the YouTube channel
Omnibot gathering my Honey Monster merchandise collection 
As for future updates, not much to tell really he’s still archiving my collection and listing on eBay (time of writing this he is rounding up my collection of Honey Monster merchandise as requested by Kid (right) along with my collection of Snoots cards) but following on from our staff outing to Hooters last December we hope to see him out and about more, so keep an eye out for that.  On a personal level, I have derived great pleasure from this ‘seemingly’ forgotten robot range and always relish discovering more about them, for instance- did you know that Omnibot once appeared in the Beano

On May 16th, 1987 in issue number 2339 Omnibot did just that, appearing with Dennis the Menace in this strip that coincided with the comic’s Tomy competition! Although the cover promotes a "free competition", with Omnibot as first prize (and R.A.T.S. action figures or a Knitting Machine as runners up prizes) the contest would not officially launch until the following issue. In the story drawn by legendary Beano artist David Sutherland we find Dennis, jealously watching Walter the Softy with his robot (planting flowers) wishing he had enough brains to build an Anti-Softy robot when he receives a phone call from the Beano editor- Sure enough, the editor wants Dennis to test out the new Omnibot robot! Dennis makes full use of Omnobot’s remote microphone system having him declare “Out of my way Softy!” before knocking Walter’s robot into the fish pond and loudly blaring a cassette of Dennis and the Dinmakers! We also learn that not even Gnasher’s sharp teeth can make a dent to Omnibot’s outer casing before Dennis’s father intervenes, snatching the remote from Dennis and getting Omnibot to fetch him a glass of milk. The strip was nothing more than a promotional tool for the competition but still a lot of fun never the less!

My sincere thanks to Gavin Williams for bringing this to my attention. 
© Arfon Jones 2019. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

New Video: 'Gentlemen of Horror' Time-lapse Painting

Trying out something different on my YouTube channel, a time-lapse of painting done back in May entitled 'Gentlemen of Horror' a tribute to Vincent Price, John Carradine, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing whose work I have always admired and the now seemingly lost tradition of the late night movie. Every week, growing up, I would seek out their movies located at the very bottom of the TV listings (the TV listings serves as the backdrop of this piece) I hope to feature this painting in my upcoming, self published/ biographical book devoted to my monster memories from the 80’s and 90’s someday- but in meantime here it is as a video, offering an inside into my creative process. I hope to make many more of these videos so click "like" and subscribe and ring that bell to me notified of the next one!

© Arfon Jones 2019. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Monster Memories: “It will ruin the carpet!” Legacy of the MOTU Slime Pit

The Slime Pit, an “Evil pit of gruesome ooze” was a play set from 1986 that formed a part of Mattel’s highly successful Masters of the Universe toy line. Designed by toy designer Ted Mayer, the Slime Pit utilised a component that not only assured this toy a success but also set a trend that would last for years to come, something that Mattel had already brought to the toy market back in 1976 -Slime!  
Hordak (“Ruthless Leader of the Evil Horde”) would lock his victim inside the ‘pit’ by means of the bony clawed hand at the bottom as the container of Evil Horde Slime (sold separately) would be poured into the back of the large skull suspended at the top. The slime would then proceed to slowly ooze out of the mouth and onto the victim supposedly brainwashing said the victim to do Hordak’s evil bidding! With its heady mix of slime, claws, zombification and dinosaur skulls this thing looked amazing and 7 year old me wanted one, catalogue in hand I asked my mother if I could have it, after a rather lengthy presentation as to why this toy was amazing she replied, “no, it will ruin the carpet!” my heart sank, a fear that the carpet would be ruined was a recurring theme in our newly refurbished home and effectively marked the end of most toy requests.  
Undeterred I had another plan though; I thought I would just bypass my mother and go straight to the main man himself, Santa Clause but this proved fruitless, it seemed that he too was fearful of this thing somehow ruining our floor coverings! I gave up and moved on (unsuccessfully requesting a Real Ghostbusters Gooper Ghosts Squisher figure and tub of Real Ghostbusters Ecto-Plazm the following year) until 2019 when I decide it was high time I restored my original Masters of the Universe figure collection and display them in the studio (a future post) and finally get my own Slime Pit!
It arrived and I was delighted with it. The following day work continued on decorating our living room when I suddenly knocked over a can of paint... It took 33 years but my mother’s prophecy that I would ruin the carpet if I got a Slime Pit came true!  I guess mothers really do know best!

The Slime Pit as featured in the 1986 Winter/Autumn Argos catalogue 
along with the equally desirable (carpet friendly) Fright Zone! 
© Arfon Jones 2019. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Monster Memories: Gurglin Gutz

The classic Gurglin Gutz line-up a brain, stomach, eye and heart
Hello dear reader, we haven’t had a Monster Memories post for some time- have we? So how about we have one now? How about...Gurglin Gutz? 
Gurglin Gutz was a toy that resembled human organs (four designs a brain, eye, heart and stomach) that was encased within a latex ball and immersed in a red fluid that created a ‘gross’ gurgling, bubbling sound when squeezed! Created by designer Jimmy DiResta and his brother Joey DiResta who took their concept (a prototype consisting of a condom filled with tomato juice and a hollow ball) to brothers Jeffery and Keneth Lewis of 4Kidz, Inc. in 1994 a time when the Lewis brothers (Sons of Norman J. Lewis founder of LJN toys) were keen to enter the then trending, gross toy market, and so in 1995 Gurglin Gutz was launched going on to successfully ship over 10 Million pieces in its first 5 years.  I fondly remember them showing up at various toy outlets, as they seemed to spark a craze of squeezable toys but with Gurglin Gutz leading the way adding a knuckle ball variant to the  mix and releasing a smaller version of the regular brain, eye, heart and stomach as key rings and pencil toppers along with branching out with licensed properties lines relating to such movies as Bugs Life, Toy Story 2 and a line relating to Scholastic’s Goosebumps to name but three.
I was in Art College at the time and just as much a fan of gross toys and thought these were fantastic! Much like Garbage Pail Kids cards and Madballs before them they not only resonated with my ‘mother wouldn’t approve’ mantra (Even Jeffery Lewis was quoted in the Connecticut Post, February 20th 1997, “This is definitely a kid’s purchase. This is not something mom’s going to come home with from the store”) I also loved the packaging and design and as a result I had the brain variant serving as a stress ball on my desk for many years.

Diresta signed limited edition Gurglin Gutz (Limited to 100 backers only) 
and eyeball ‘clip on’ 
Fast Forward 23 years to October 2018 and 4Kidz announced that they were bringing them back “with a brand new look and feel!” through a Kickstarter campaign promising that they would be “GUTZIER” than ever before. As the originals only lasted 15+ years (tops) 4Kidz had not been happy about this factor and so spent nearly a year sourcing the right materials for an enhanced feel and durability for the second generation Gurglin Gutz. “More blood” was promised with “Better clarity, more gore, improved elasticity FOR THAT GURGLE SQUISH and Increased durability FOR HOURS OF FUN” various tiers were offered such as, The Mortician Special offering a “Classic" 3 inch style of choice or the Early Bird Maggot Special with all four  of the classic organs up for grabs. Devotees could also pledge for the Cadaver Special offering not only the four classic gurglers but also four 1.5" clip on’s as well, IF the $10,000 target was reached. It was, 289 backers (myself one of them) showed their support and $10,886 was raised. I had opted for the Diresta limited signed edition (limited to 100 backers only) which also included a clip on eyeball and when the project was funded I ‘add-on’ the set of four organs to my order which arrived last week and they have now been added to my monster/ gross out toy collection- very happy with them and I thank all concerned for making them available again, thanks to them I once again, “have the Gutz”! 

© Arfon Jones 2019. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.


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