Random Retro Issue 7
Batman Returns Cereal, Golden Axe, and Pee-Wee's Playhouse Toys
In this issue:
Batman Returns Cereal, Golden Axe for Sega Genesis, and Pee-Wee's Playhouse toys
Batman Returns Cereal
Batman Returns cereal was another example of Ralston's obsession with producing kiddie chow with popular licenses. This wasn't their first journey into the world of Tim Burton's Batman films. The cereal from the first Batman movie starring Michael Keaton is one of my favorite of Ralston's offerings. This one from Batman Returns may not be my all time favorite but I still love it. The memory of its taste escapes me these days but it does look more appealing than its predecessor.
There was a time when Ralston had great cereal premiums. Huge plastic prizes that were so big they were attached to the outside of the box. The first Batman cereal came with a bust of the bat hero that was actually a bank. Ralston must have given up on those great premiums by the time they put out their Batman Returns cereal. All this box has is a picture on the back that can be folded into two different scenes of Batman.
The pictures aren't ugly but they aren't anything special either and they don't exactly portray anything that would scream Batman Returns. It's simply a generic Batman out and about in Gotham City.
The Double Vision Imager is a cool addition to the cereal box itself but shouldn't count as a premium. I'm sure they could have thrown a cheap piece of plastic in the box shaped like a bat symbol or even an umbrella for the Penguin would have been a step up from nothing.
Batman Returns cereal is more eye pleasing than some of Ralston's other offerings but that didn't really matter. This product, like the company's other cereals, sold based on its license. These days we still get an occasional short lived cereal based on a movie or tv show but I miss the days of Ralston when we had a constant supply of really cool cereals.
Golden Axe for Sega Genesis
When it comes down to it the 16-bit generation of video games is my all time favorite. I love my Xbox 360 and my Wii as well as countless other systems that have been introduced throughout the last few decades but the 16-bit consoles are Heaven for me. The Super Nintendo may be my deserted island choice but I still have huge love for the Genesis.
There are some really great gems in the early years of the Genesis that have a certain "Genesis-y" feel to them. It's hard to explain but it's certainly a different feel than later games (which were just as great). Golden Axe is one of those early Genesis arcade ports that made the system fantastic.
Golden Axe is classic arcade side scrolling action set in a fantasy world. You can choose between three characters; a dwarf named Gilius Thunderhead, a barbarian named Ax Battler, and an Amazonian warrior named Tyris Flare.
Golden Axe had several things to differentiate itself from similar games of its time. You could use magic to damage or even destroy any enemies onscreen. You can ride beasts such as a cockatrice and use it's tail as a swinging attack or the cooler dragons breathe devastating fire or even shoot fireballs towards an enemy (or you if ridden by an enemy).
The Genesis version added 2 new levels that weren't included in the original arcade version. Those levels just added to what was already a great game of fantasy battles, wild beasts, and awesomely huge bosses. This is a game any Genesis lover probably already has and non-Genesis fans can easily check the game out on everything from the Wii and Xbox 360 to the iPhone.
Golden Axe was a great game, no doubt about it, but another great thing was the art on the front of the box. It really evoked the fantasy world that my 10 year old mind was looking for at the time the game came out. Years later I ran across the Mega Drive version and it just totally blows the art on the Genesis version away.
The back of the overseas Golden Axe doesn't show much about the actual gameplay but it's even more epic nonetheless. It has two small screenshots and possibly some small information about the game but I can't read what I assume to be Japanese. I would really love to have a framed picture of this scene though. It's just fantastic.
The United States may have gotten the lesser of the two as far as the art went, but the game was still the same and it's worth getting if you don't already have this great classic laying around somewhere already. It's on several compilation discs and can be downloaded on current generation consoles and cell phones. It's worth the few bucks it will cost.
Pee-Wee's Playhouse Toys
Insert all the bad jokes you want, I'm sure we've heard them all since Paul Reubens was arrested almost twenty years ago. No matter what people may say about him he was a very funny comic and had a hugely popular children's show along with a couple of movies that I love as well. I am also a big fan of his original version of Pee-Wee which truthfully wasn't much different from the one on Pee-Wee's Playhouse.
The silly man-child who appeared on television every Saturday morning in the late 80's was one of my favorite characters as a child and I loved the show.
I will admit that the human characters other than Pee-Wee made for some pretty bad action figures but the other crazy characters on the show made great toys. The show was filled with everything from a talking globe and chairs to dinosaurs and robots.
Originally the toys were made by Matchbox but a few years ago NECA got the license and faithfully reproduced some of the original toys. They reproduced the original cards to the last detail that safety laws these days will allow. They did have to include different warnings and interestingly enough the original toys were suitable for children 4 years or older while the newer toys are ok for kids as young as 3.
Pee-Wee's Playhouse was a show with characters that really translated well into toys. While the human characters were not so interesting the other toys more than made up for that. The toys were never destined for the greatness of lines such as Transformers or Thundercats but they are still excellent and deserve recognition. I was pleasantly surprised when they were re-released several years ago.
Random Retro Advertisement
In 1993, Nintendo made a last push for one of the most popular video game consoles of all time. They redesigned their original Nintendo Entertainment System into a top loading console that better fit with what the modern systems of the time were designed to look like. Of course most people already had an NES back then and had no need for another one. Adding to it's downfall was also the fact that most people had moved on to 16-bit gaming a few years before this redesign was made available. It is an interesting look though and comes with a better control that mimics the ones for its brother, the Super NES.