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.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Happy Horror-day! Uncle Sam (1996)

I must confess to have completely missed this movie when it was first released in the mid 90’s and so I was pleased to finally set that matter right.  Directed by William Lustig the man who gave us Maniac Cop and written by the great Larry Cohen (whom we sadly lost earlier this year) Uncle Sam regards one Sergeant Sam Harper (played by David Fralick) out in Kuwait, killed in the line of duty by “friendly fire”.   When his body is returned to his home town to the custody of his widow, sister and patriotic young nephew, Jody (Christopher Ogden), Sam comes back from the dead as the town prepares for its Independence Day celebrations!  After killing a peeping tom dressed as Uncle Sam he steals the costume (shortening the legs as the pervert was on stilts at the time) before embarking on a mission to punish the town’s unpatriotic residents, draft dodger and flag burners alike while Jody  whom harbors aspirations to join the army learns that his uncle Sam was not as good a man as he thought he was, but instead an alcoholic psychopath, who abused both his sister and wife that believe that his joining the army was more an excuse to go kill people than patriotic duty.  The movie also stars William Smith, Leslie Neale,  Bo Hopkins and  P. J. Soles (whom we haven’t seen the last of in this challenge) and not forgetting Isaac Hayes as Sergeant Jed Crowley the veteran who holds himself responsible for glorifying war to the young Sam Harper. The movie is a lot of fun and the image of Uncle Sam is genuinely creepy, why this one never got a sequel or remake yet, your guess is as good as mine, but if you haven’t seen it be sure to check it out. So, back here for Friday the 13th of September?  

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

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Happy Horror-day! Father's Day (2011)

Wasn’t easy as I wasn’t actually home for the ‘horror-days’ this time but I still managed to watch Father's Day from 2011, the second Troma title to feature in the challenge (although they are in no way connected). This tale regarding a man called Ahab (played by Adam Brooks) out for revenge on a serial killer called Chris Fuchman also known as the Father's Day Killer who murdered (putting it mildly!) his father 30 years before, was originally made as a short film, but was later made into a feature-length movie that received great acclaim and numerous awards at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival. The movie itself contains all that one expects of a Troma release (and then some!) with its over the top action and violence (some of which very gory and quite, quite graphic at times) but I was more taken however by its impressive Grindhouse style, feel and influences (think Grindhouse only with Lloyd Kaufman in it playing God!) and I also add that I liked the Channel Astron 6 late night movie segments throughout the film. See you on the 4th of July!

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

Monday, 27 May 2019

Happy Horror-day! Memorial Day Killer (1998)

Memorial Day is when the United States remembers and honors those who died serving in the United States Armed Forces, and although it is not (directly) observed in the UK I thought I would add it to the challenge line-up, even though it has very little to do with the occasion.  So, Memorial Day Killer (also known as Memorial Day) is an offering from 1998 directed by Christopher Alender and written by Marcos Gabriel. A tale of wrongdoing and revenge that happens to take place on Memorial Day concerning a group of friends who decide to return to MEMORIAL Lake Campground for the first time since Rachel (Played by Therese Fretwell) 's adopted brother Danny accidentally drowned there three years before... sure enough, wouldn’t you know it? The killings start. I try not to be negative about these films as I doubt I could do any better, this movie came out at a time when I had become somewhat disillusioned with ‘modern’ horror but I was ready to go back and have my opinion changed, it wasn’t.  Perhaps had this been a big budget movie previously ignored the first time round it might have been regarded by some as the ‘Missing Link’ between the Scream/ I Know What You Did Last Summer genre of movies of the late 90’s and the Saw franchise of the early 2000’s but frankly the deaths of the whining girlfriends and over acting boyfriends at the hands of a papier-mâché mask wearing killer was just a blessed relief.

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

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Roundabout, BBC Radio Wales, 1986: A Three Generations interview

Omnibot once again proving his worth, not only helping me around the studio and listing things on eBay to raise funds but also helping me to upload some vintage cassettes onto my YouTube channel! First up a clip from an episode of ‘Roundabout’ that aired on BBC Radio Wales in 1986 staring Anita Morgan (who was the very first to speak on the station back in 1978) who had visited my hometown of Nefyn, North Wales to chat with some of the locals about village life, this clip features my mother Emrysia Jones, grandmother Marie Julia Roberts (1938-2018) and my great-grandmother Mary Hughes(1907-1993) the clip is particularly poignant for us as a family as it allows us to hear my Grandmother and Great Mother again, we hope it will also be of interest to you. Have a listen. Or just read the transcript.

Anita Morgan: “I’ve Just had a charming conversation with a small boy about 3 (my bother), who speaks no English, I speak no Welsh but he very kindly and patiently got me to understand that his great grandmother Mary Hughes, his grandma Marie Robert and mother Emrysia Jones were waiting for me inside this house, on a smallholding on the outskirts of Nefyn. Great grandmother Mary, I know your family goes back around 400 years in Nefyn but what was the main family trade?”
Mary Hughes: “My father and family were Master Masons... stones.  
Anita Morgan: “What sort of stone would they work on around here?"
Mary Hughes: “Well there is only one kind of stone in the world isn’t there? One in Nefyn, the Gwylwyr quarry and one in India and that’s real granite!
Marie Roberts: “And giving lots of work for the local people, that was then before they closed at the beginning of the last war when the Gwylwyr quarry closed, as I understand... I was just a baby then myself!"
Anita Morgan: “Mary’s daughter, Marie. I’ve said that this is a third generation interview, grandmother, mother and daughter and you’ve got a lovely name...”
Emrysia Jones: “Yes, Emrysia.”
Anita Morgan: “Is that Welsh?
Emrysia Jones: “It is Welsh, it’s my father’s name, he’s called Emrys with an “I A” added on... Emrysia.
Anita Morgan: “You have an interest in the tourism industry in this place surely?"
Emrysia Jones: “Yes, we do let out our houses in the summer...”
Anita Morgan: “Houses?!
Emrysia Jones: “Yes, like we said it’s a family affair you know
Anita Morgan: “And how many houses do you have?
Emrysia Jones: “four
Anita Morgan: “Do you find it lively enough as a younger woman with a child?"
Emrysia Jones: “Personally it doesn’t bother me; I’m married- I married young. But  for other younger people, no I don’t think there is enough life here for them, they do tend to stand on the streets, Really they only have the pubs. But again it depends on the people and the kind of life you like, its fine for me.  
Anita Morgan: “It’s fine for the three of you? The three of you enjoy Nefyn?
Marie Roberts: “Yes definitely
Anita Morgan: “Have you ever lived away from Nefyn Mary?
Mary Hughes: “No, but I traveled quite allot..." (Laughs)
Anita Morgan: “Where have you been?
Mary Hughes: “Through bombs! And shells!” (Laughs)
Anita Morgan: “During the war time?
Mary Hughes: “yes!
Anita Morgan: “What sort of vehicle were you in?
Mary Hughes: “Lorries
Anita Morgan: “As a passenger?
Mary Hughes: “No dear, driving it.
Anita Morgan: “You were driving the lorry?!"
Mary Hughes: “Oh yes... you sound surprised?
Anita Morgan: “I am surprised! ...Where would you be travelling then? ...Where would you drive?
Mary Hughes: “Liverpool. Manchester. Birmingham... (*In welsh to my grandmother “translate for me”)
Marie Roberts: “You would get a phone call saying that there was a ship able to come in and that it needed emptying. These ships with the planes flying over Liverpool, it was important that they got as much off the ships as possible so they... there were also local men as well working on the Lorries as haulage contractors in the district"
Anita Morgan: “So the area was quite busy with haulage?
Marie Roberts: “Yes, that’s right... Quite a lot of haulage but because of the quarries closing down then that was decline of the haulage, the decline of everything...
Anita Morgan: “What about otherwise, apart from that the decline of Nefyn as a place to live in... Has it declined? Can you still get everything you want here in the way of shops, entertainment and so on 
Marie Roberts: “Nefyn itself, if something has prospered really, during the last fifteen years I would say. Because now we have a very fashionable shop in the village, a very nice fashionable shoe shop in the village, you needn’t go really, anywhere but if you’d like to go for a day out to Llandudno then yes, fair enough you’ve got ‘Marks & Sparks’ but if you really didn’t want to travel out of the village then you wouldn’t have to if you patronise local people. 
Anita Morgan: “No more trips to Liverpool driving the lorry for you Mary?
Mary Hughes: “Why not?
Anita Morgan: “Why not? She says!
Marie Roberts: “Why not? She says at 79!
Anita Morgan: “79! ...Great Caesar!
Mary Hughes: “I’d been driving since I was ten, eleven years old! Motorbikes...
Anita Morgan: “Motorbikes?!
Mary Hughes: “...Lorries, all sorts of things...
Marie Roberts: “She was a 1929 Rally winner... tell them about that
Anita Morgan: “Rally winner?
Marie Roberts: “ Yes, motorbike in the race... Black rocks in Porthmadog. We have a picture of her here, with her motorbike that she won the first prize with."   
Anita Morgan: “Against all the men?
Mary Hughes: “Oh yes
Anita Morgan: “Who’s’ going to choose the music, of the three ladies?
 Marie Roberts: “Anything by Sir Geraint Evans anything classical would go with the village we live in.
Anita Morgan: “They like good music in Nefyn do they?
*Closes with The Duke of Plaza-Toro by Gilbert & Sullivan.


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

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Beth's Tarot

Have I mentioned that Mrs Jones reads Tarot? Reading the cards as a divination tool to see the past present and future, reading them intuitively, which means she doesn’t use a spirit guide, instead reading through feelings and intuition, calling on her inner voice to guide her to the meaning of the cards for each person. Beth has been reading the cards for some time now, offering open (general) readings and specific question readings helping many establish a clear picture of what is happening in all aspects of their lives and helping to find the answers and it’s been very well received. So well in fact that we needed a sign for people to find us- This very hand painted sign in fact!    Helping people to find the right location to find the answers they seek. Find out more or book a reading via her Facebook page.


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

Sunday, 5 May 2019

News from Tromaville!

I believe I may have mentioned meeting Troma Entertainment head honcho Lloyd Kaufman at the Starburst Film Festival... Well, Uncle Lloydie e-mailed this picture to me last week. This is the Editing Room at  Troma Entertainment, and hanging up on the wall beside the framed Toxic Avenger poster is one of my glow in the dark paintings! (which can also be seen on Lloyd’s Instagram page) As an artist it is always gratifying to know that your work is hanging on someone’s wall, but hanging on the wall of Troma Entertainment?! #delighted!








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

RIP Lord Toby Jug (1965 - 2019)

Shocked and saddened, to hear of the passing of Brian Borthwick AKA Lord Toby Jug founder and leader of the Eccentric Party of GreatBritain and friend who died on Thursday. Having been a long-standing member of the Monster Raving Loony Party he went out on his own and formed The Eccentric Party of Great Britain in 2015, encompassing the spirit of Screaming Lord Sutch, who had been a friend and inspiration to Toby for years (he also backed him at numerous gigs) he stood against top politicians in general elections across the country over the years. I made contact with him that first year, I honestly can’t remember who reached out to whom but we became friends and I joined the party, of which he elected me Viceroy of Wales and Minister for Monsters (he also tried to get me to stand for local election) and although we never met in person we spoke on the phone and on Facebook numerous times either about the party,projects or his idol Screaming Lord Sutch, such a lovely, friendly man and now he’s in that big polling station in the sky-  Rest peacefully your Lordship, Pip-Pip.

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

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Happy Horror-day! The Wicker Man (1973)

We seem to have strayed from our psycho killer themed ‘holiday’ movies again, this time in favour of a horror mystery, and a classic at that! What can I say about it that hasn’t already been said by movie historians and far more learned folk than I? This would probably the 20th time I’ve seen Sergeant Neil Howie’s fateful trip to Summerisle. You will note that although I try and keep these posts spoiler free I said ‘fateful’ there, well I’m not so worried this time round, aside from being fairly confident that you will have already seen the film I will also add that this movie shares the same distinction with Planet of the Apes in that climax/final scene of the film features on spoofs and the covers of their Video/DVD releases! But if you haven’t seen it, please put that right! So, shall we meet back here on the 27th of May? Memorial Day? Yes I know it’s when the United States remembers those that served their country and I am in the UK... But...

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

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Omnibot’s Robot Root-Out: Rap Rat The Video Board Game

“...Deep under Arfon’s studio lies an extensive collection of random artefacts thirty years in the making. His robotic assistant Omnibot has been assigned the mammoth task of excavating the collection. What will Omnibot uncover today...!”

Omnibot found another curio for our eBay shop, this time it’s from 1992... Back in the early 90’s an Australian company, Couple 'A Cowboys (originally a television production company established in 1983 by Phillip Tanner and Brett Clements) was making waves in the board games market (a market that had previously struggled to compete with the highly lucrative video gaming market) with their new interactive VHS board game Nightmare (known as Atmosfear here in the UK). The board game incorporated the home VHS player, a host on screen would ‘interact’ with the players cracking jokes and throwing insults!  When it was released in Australia in 1991 it was an instant hit, selling one hundred thousand units in its first year alone (five times more than Trivial Pursuit). Backed by a heavy television and cinema marketing campaign and promotional Dance Parties the game broke all records for board games and by the mid 1990’s it was the most successful advanced board game in history and with the international acclaim it gained it became Australia’s biggest entertainment export since Crocodile Dundee! (I covered this game in more detail in a previous post, find the link here) Although the follow up games were doing equally well, Couple 'A Cowboys tried out another line, aimed at a younger audience...  

Rap Rat on screen despite the VHS not actually being in the VCR....  
For many years we visited the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show as a family and for many of those years I frequented the acres of stalls they had there. I would spend hours weaving through various marquees and promotional stalls, each one with representatives pushing their products and I was always happy to take whatever free sample, promotional sticker, hat or Logobug they had. One time I was approached by a woman who asked if I wanted to play, “a game?” thinking nothing of it (simpler times!) I asked “What sort of game?” “It’s called Rap Rat!” she said, “it’s a new game and we are looking for 4 players to play it” she pointed to the stall she represented and I moved closer to it. It was a very unassuming marquee with a table and a game set up for 4 players in the middle but on both sides of the tent were TV sets playing footage of a puppet rat with a Max Headroom like stutter, already familiar with the Atmosfear game and the whole VHS game format I was intrigued, I took an interest in the video and game’s packaging as they tried to round up another 3 players to play this game for two to six kids who “just want to have FUN!” we were promised a “RAT-tastic” time and plenty of “RAT ‘n’ Roll” with its illustrated game board, coloured dice, 6 “cheese” playing pieces and 4 cheese jigsaw pieces oh and the all important 60-minute VHS cassette (written, directed  and produced by Couple 'A Cowboys) containing 3 X 15 minute games (which increase in difficulty) staring the one, and only Rap Rat...  A latex 'Rappin’ Rodent Puppet (that for many years I thought was voiced by Enn Reitel but in fact voice credit is given to Paul 'pj' Johnstone and Doug Willimas) “with a lot to say!”. The object of the game is essentially a race against time, collect all 8 pieces of a puzzle and fit them together in the frame before Rap Rat eats all the cheese on the TV screen. I played the game and I recall it being fun, but I left feeling a little underwhelmed and I remember walking away with a voucher that granted me money off the purchase of the game thinking how much better it had been if I had actually ‘met’ Rap Rat himself or even got a free sticker or something... 

"Got an ‘A’ in attitude and lots of Rattitude!"
I don’t think the game did as well as Atmosfear as very little information exists about it online (apart from Creepypasta videos about rap Rat himself) it is certainly a very, unashamedly “Totally Radical” 90’s product, but if you remember it the first time round or just want to check it out for the first time, check out our eBay store and get this very one- money raised from our eBay auctions help fund all my creative endeavors, any questions get in touch Omnibot is only too happy to oblige!

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

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Happy Horror-day! Easter Bunny, Kill! Kill! (2006)

Happy Easter! Traditionally we watch Night of the Leapus on Easter, but it doesn’t meet the criteria of this challenge so I watched Easter Bunny, Kill! Kill! The movie starts off on the night before Easter “Easter Eve” when we are introduced to a man called Remington who robs a convenience store while wearing an Easter Bunny mask. Having shot the store clerk he makes his way over to the home of a woman he is seeing, Mindy Peters and her “special” son Nicholas who is obsessed with Bunnies and all things Easter related. Worming his way into their home Remington behaves cruelly towards Nicholas behind Mindy’s back who remains (seemingly) oblivious of his cruelty he inflicts on her son, who is hiding a pet rabbit in his room given to him by a homeless man he met outside their home (always good to see Trent Haaga!). A little slow at the start but when it starts ‘properly’ its exploitative cinema influences become more than apparent and I would have liked to see this set in the late 60’s early 70’s just to give it that ‘classic’ feel. If watching unpleasant people being picked off one by one by a killer carrying a toolbox, wearing a bunny mask is what you like to do while eating chocolate eggs then this is the movie for you! Speaking of which I’m off to finish my chocolate egg, see you May 1st?

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

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Did you see me on S4C's Rhannu?

After years of being told I should be a contestant on a game show I finally took the plunge (well I did try to get on Bargain Hunt once but they didn’t want me) and entered as a contestant on a new Welsh language game show, Rhannu, presented by Aled Hughes currently on channel S4C Wednesday nights at 8:20pm.



Originally an RTÉ format called Division presented by Anne Doyle this format has been adapted by multi award winning independent production company Cwmni Da based in Caernarfon, North Wales and it sees 16 contestants (The original RTÉ had 32) and two sheds (one red and blue) teams are divided into the two sheds and given a subject, then each shed nominates the most suited contestant to go head to head and keep their team in the game (the losing shed is automatically disqualified until the next episode) after the second round the then winner then gets to pick one of their remaining 3 team mates to go head to head again and try and win the £2,000 prize and a place in the grand final (with a £10,000 prize) 8 episodes were filmed, I was in 7 of them, it was quite an experience and a lot of fun! 
This round was about BBC Radio Cymru...
What made it interesting (not to mention a little tense!) and a matter of concern for me going in was the likelihood of a subjects cropping up that I would have absolutely no clue about, such as Politics, Sport or what day it was.  Not exactly being ‘up’ on current things there was a high risk of finding myself completely out of my depth, you see dear reader, and this might surprise you- I don’t get out much! I don’t watch the news, I don’t read news papers and most of the movies, TV shows, music and games I follow are from the past...  When the 1990’s came to an end I was a citizen of it, I observed it closely, followed many of its fads and trends but when the ‘noughties’ came along I seemed to go into a sort of hiding- I don’t remember it too well, just flashes, I remember being a little underwhelmed by the Buffy the Vampire Slayer finale. Popstars and I’m a Celebrity seemed to be a thing? I think there was a Crazy Frog there? Anyway, as each year passed I seemed to know less about what was going on around me, and at the end of each year I would watch those end of year review shows and have no clue as to what they were talking about...  and here we are almost 20 years into this new millennium and I still don’t know how I got here! So I knew that if a question regarding a celebrity, sport or musical figure came up and it was a contemporary one I would effectively be sunk! 
This round was about Rugby...  that's the one with a stick, right?
All I could do was cross my fingers and hope such questions would not crop up! BUT I am a geek after all, and proud of it! I have millions of obscure facts in my head, and there had to be a reason why I’ve been told so many times that I should be on a game show... I can tell you when the first Little Chef opened and I know the name of Supergirl’s cat! I had to hope they would ask something about Daleks, Tiki culture or the works of Vincent Price... they didn’t. In fact on numerous occasions those dreaded before mentioned questions cropped up and I had no clue, and watching back over the episodes that have aired I laugh as I can see from my eyes that I have no idea what everyone’s talking about! (see photos) A glazed over look, grateful that it isn’t me out there answering on our behalf! Trying to make up for my lack of knowledge with 'team spirit' and 'encouragement' it’s an interesting format for that very reason though, as a contestant can potentially get through to the final round by not answering a single question and scooping the prize money by being fortunate in knowing just a little more than their opponent! I got close mind, but I was not picked for the final round on the grounds of being an intellectual ‘threat’ (a compliment I gladly accepted!) But anyway, there I was  in the blue shed during the first round of episode 5 when ‘Computer Games’ was subject of that round... 
"Oh, I hope they don’t ask me a question on modern video games..."
 Most of my team mates instantly waved it away, saying they knew nothing about games, “
I know a little” I said... “BUT, I don’t play modern games or consoles....” Atari through to Play Station in the mid 1990’s was the limit of my knowledge- I wasn’t sure if I was really the right one to go out but  it was decided that I was the closest to an ‘expert’ we had!  Having again established that I am more of a retro gamer and knew nothing of new games my first question was, what is the name of the outlaw gang in Red Dead Redemption 2? ...GULP! Being a game that came out the previous month I had to make a guess and I was wrong.... GAME OVER! I felt awful letting the entire team down like that and had I just had one question right, at least proving I knew something about this topic would have been something, but no, it was not to be. Then came episode 7....

 “Which of these characters were NOT in the Suicide Squad?”
Episode 7, the blue shed, first round.... Superhero movies! Everyone turned to me! My confidence had been bashed after the last time and being somewhat behind on the more recent superhero movies I wasn’t so sure I was the right one to go. As the team contemplated who to send out myself or Rhydian (who also believed it should be me!) Geek Mode seem to activate within me and I started reeling out comic book/ superhero trivia! When it was put to a vote I was selected (4 to 2) so out I go! GULP! as I walked out into the glare of studio lights I suddenly realised, “screw this up and you can hand in your comic book nerd badge at the door!” No pressure... As I suspected my opponent from the red shed was Mirain Rhisiart who had trampled us all in a previous episode with her knowledge of all things Harry Potter... No pressure! Introductions out of the way Mirain was asked the first question, which she promptly got correct! Then it was over to me! I was asked, from the three characters Deadshot, Harley Quinn and Green Arrow who was NOT in the Suicide Squad- Easy!  I was nervous and looking back over the episode last night I can see how nervous I was, my confidence was all over the place! But once I got past that first question I started to feel more at ease, “at least I got one right!” I thought. A question about Deadpool and another point for the red shed then it was back to me- Which one of these Batman movies did Christopher Nolan NOT direct, the answer was Batman Returns, “are you sure?” “YES!” ...point to me! 
 “Which one of these Batman movies did Christopher Nolan NOT direct?”
Then Mirain was asked what I consider to have been the most difficult question of the round, What is T'Challa’s sister called in Black Panther? it wasn’t the answer she gave and then it was my turn.... the decider! No Pressure! "Which city was Robocop set?” I knew it, but was careful to add “I think...” before giving my answer so as to not sound arrogant, “Detroit” and that was it, I won the round! (Although I instantly questioned if Robocop is an actual ‘superhero’ movie- but it was recently put to me that ‘superhero’ by definition is someone with an ability that no one else has that is using that ability for good) So there we go, I won! And against an extremely worthy opponent! Red Dead Redemption 2 was behind me, if anything I had been redeemed!  Round 2 came and went and it was back to blankly staring at the screen while quiz aficionado Huw Pritchard answered questions on national parks, which got us through to the third round!  When asked to select one of us to go head to head against he chose not to pick me on the grounds we have similar interests and felt we might be too evenly matched and so I didn’t get to go through to the final round and answer questions on women in sport! (PHEW!!) Meinir Ann Thomas was selected and bless her she did her best but it was Huw’s day and he won, pocketing £2,000 and a place in the semi final! 
 “Which city was Robocop set?”
So there you go, a short/ abridged spoiler filled account of last night’s episode for the convenience of those of you out there not fluent in Welsh, if you are fluent then you can follow this link and watch the episode on Clic or iPlayer. Be sure to catch the final episode of this series next week and why not give it a go yourself? They are currently looking for contestants for the second series and I highly recommend it, I had a great time with my highly knowledgeable fellow contestants/ opponents they were a great bunch of people and each one of them deserved a prize! My sincere thanks to everyone at Cwmni Da, each one of them made us feel comfortable and at ease while making great telly! 


Huw had to decided who he was going to go up against  Meinir, Nia or me...  

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

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs

Joe Bob Briggs shared this on his Twitter page today, it’s a painting that I did for him that depicts all 13 movies featured on The Last Drive In marathon on Shudder last year.
Apart from the fact that it was a joy to paint and Joe Bob loved it, adding that he was "kinda fond of it",  he also brought it to the attention of Felissa Rose, Angela Baker from Sleepaway Camp who responded "Absolutely love this!!! Fantastic work!!! Wow" Making this horror artist very happy indeed.

Be sure to check out The Last Drive In on Shudder on Friday nights!








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

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Arfon’s Glow- in- the- Dark Monster Sticker Club: Sticker #2

Here we go! Arfon’s Glow- in- the- Dark Monster Sticker Club sticker No 2 is in! This time we have the Creature! 
Each sticker measure 100mm x 50mm and hark back to classic monster stickers of the past and yes they really do Glow- in- the- Dark! 
For a minimum  donation of £3 (Patron is an American site so it’s listed as $3.99) ) or more a month you will be enrolled in my Glow- in- the- Dark Monster Sticker Club and receive this new and exclusively created glow in the dark sticker and will continue to receive a new sticker each month as a thank you for your support! Not forgetting prize draws, project updates, exclusive behind the scenes content and the opportunity to nominate next month’s sticker and the knowledge that you are supporting me and my work! Join today and start your collection!

Not for you? Fair enough perhaps you will bring this to the attention of someone that might? 
Thanks in advance!


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

Monday, 1 April 2019

Omnibot’s Robot Root-Out: Garbage Pail Kids

“...Deep under Arfon’s studio lies an extensive collection of random artefacts thirty years in the making. His robotic assistant Omnibot has been assigned the mammoth task of excavating the collection. What will Omnibot uncover today...!”


While I’ve been promoting my new Glow- In the Dark Monster StickerClub Omnibot has been doing his bit to raise funds for the studio and discovered another curio from the  80’s...Garbage Pail KidsThere cards/stickers are probably the earliest things I can remember obsessively collecting they were disgusting and my mother didn’t approve of them so naturally I had to have them!  You might even say they en-Grossed me... First produced by the trading card company Topps in 1985 based on an idea by cartoonist Art Spiegelman these cards served as a parody of the phenomenally successful Cabbage Patch Kids dolls that to say were all the rage would be an understatement! For those of you that weren’t there at the time and unaware of Garbage Pail Kids they were essentially cards that featured Cabbage Patch dolls either deformed, as monsters or just being anarchic, smoking, vomiting and picking noses (but in humorous ways and beautifully painted!) As kids we would share them among ourselves and comment on how disgusting they were- each one had a different name (condemning any unfortunate child that happen to share the same name as one of the cards to having to live with that nickname) they even had ‘humorous’ licenses and certificates you could give your friends on the back!


RECONSTRUCTION 
One such day I noticed some older kids hanging around some garages we had near us, because I had numerous run-ins with these bullies in the past and had no intention of encountering them again I picked up the pace, ignoring their name calling. Thankfully they didn’t pursue, this was because they were preoccupied by another kid my age that had a pile of Garbage Pail Kids on him and these older kids were looking through them. I bought my cards and made my way home worried that those kids were still there and as I reached the garages I was delighted to find that the bullies (and kid) were nowhere in sight. It is at this point I learned that even at the age of 7 I had some understanding of the mind of a bully! Following a hunch, knowing that these lads were effectively ‘gits’ I peered through a crack in the garage door and sure enough on the floor within was a pile of Garbage Pail Kids all over the floor! The bullies had taken the kid’s cards and thrown them into this garage! It was at this point that I looked for a branch and proceeded to pull as many of the cards back towards me, collecting quite a haul! Now I’m not sure if this made me a child physiologist or a petty opportunistic thief (you decide!) but I was very pleased with myself, I had amassed the entire run of the Garbage Pail Kids cards by using my head and for the first time ever I actually benefited from bulling (actually the more I think about it this was all wrong wasn’t it?!) but anyway moving swiftly on I would spend hours looking through my collection committing them to memory (more so if they were the ones my mother thought were disguising!)


34 year old bubblegum...
The cards, Art Spiegelman along with fellow cartoonist Mark Newgarden worked together as the editors and art directors on the cards with artist John Pound producing the art itself. 15 individual series of cards were produced through to 1988 even producing various other spin off products such as sweets, badges and poster books. There was even a live-action movie based on some of the characters (often considered to be one of the worst films ever made... not by me!) and an unaired animated TV series – however the card series lost its momentum somewhat when they yielded to a lawsuit with Coleco, the makers of Cabbage Patch Kids who sued for trademark infringement.  Now no longer looking like the original cards, kids lost interest and the series ended (Trying it one more time in 1992, this time going after the Norfin Trolls craze and creating the short lived Trash Can Trolls series) it seemed like the cards were just a distant memory until 2003,when  Topps reintroduced Garbage Pail Kids with all-new artwork in their ‘All-New Series’ and they have been producing new cards to this day- but those original first three series will always have a special place in my heart, I am confident that they played a big part in making me the well rounded monster obsessed, gross toy collector and artistic individual you see today!

Did you collect them? Can you remember your favorites? ‘Got any swaps? If you sold yours and want to start collecting them again check out our eBay page and pick up a few! By buying from our eBay shop you are supporting my work! If you have any questions get in touch and Omnibot will endeavor to help you!


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


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