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!

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.

Happy Horror-day! April Fool's Day (1986)

April Fool's Day is another American/Canadian 'mystery' slasher film that was directed by Fred Walton and stars Deborah Foreman as Muffy (yes, Muffy) who invites her friends over to her parents’ mansion located on a secluded island for an April Fool’s Day party but much like the before documented Happy Birthday to Me, it becomes a tale of over privileged college students being killed off one by one by an off screen killer. That’s not a criticism of the plot mind, that’s just a bare bones run through the plot -there is more to this film than meets the eye, however as I have vowed to keep these reviews spoiler free I can’t really get into it much more than that. All I will say is that it does bring something different to the table, if that’s a good thing or not I will let you decide when you’ve seen it. On its initial release it was seemingly well received by critics. If you just need an 80’s fix then it has great fashion, hair and music and also has Amy Steel from Friday the 13th Part II in it along with Thomas F. Wilson in a non-Biff role!  Oh, and yes, this was also remade in 2008... 
See you at Easter!
© Arfon Jones 2019. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.


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