Random Retro Issue 9
Swamp Thing, Star Wars, and Rayman
In this Issue:
Swamp Thing action figures, the Star Wars Storybook, and Rayman for the Atari Jaguar
Swamp Thing action figures
Today the world is trying to convince it's population to go green; turn off lights, don't waste water, spay the neighbor's dog. Well in the early 90's being green was a fad and kids could see it in everything from specialized GI Joes to Captain Planet. Kenner didn't want to be left out of the eco fad and picked up the license for the excellent Swamp Thing from Vertigo Comics. They produced several versions of the titular character and all looked great with lots of little details. They weren't just simple repaints either, almost all had unique sculpts that gave the swamp hero a completely different look from figure to figure.
Each had an action feature that ranged from simply glowing in the dark to falling apart (however that helps a hero). The closest thing to a standard Swamp Thing would probably be the Snare Arm Swamp Thing which had a hand that could be pulled away from the arm and the pulled back in via a string by squeezing the legs together.
There were two human friends of Swamp Thing released in the toyline and they are definitely nowhere near as cool as the main character. Their names, Tomahawk and Bayou Jack, were pretty much what was to be expected from an early 90's cartoon and toyline. These two figures were the lowpoint in the Swamp Thing toys and even then there are far worse figures in more popular lines like GI Joe and Star Wars, of course there are plenty of far better figures in those lines as well.
Swamp Thing may have had dull friends but he had some really cool looking enemies. The are called the Un-Men and from left to right are Weed Killer, Anton Arcane (the leader of the group), Skin Man, and Dr. Deemo. They all orginally came with soft rubber finger puppet-like masks that represented their temporary transformations into mutants with Arcane's Transducer. Sadly I no longer have the masks but the figures themselves are excellent bad guys without them and fit in great with Swamp Thing, TMNT, or even battling Toxie.
This is a very cool, underappreciated, and small toyline that needs more recognition. It has an accompanying cartoon that is also very short but worth watching. The toyline may have been small but it did include a bunch of different versions of Swamp Thing as well as three vehicles and two playsets.
the Star Wars Storybook
The Star Wars Storybook was published in 1978 to help capitalize on the popularity of the film that came out the previous year. It was the story George Lucas told on film and featured large, beautiful pictures straight out of the movie.
The book starts off by reintroducing all of the major characters in the film as well as the first Death Star. Each is given a few words and a great picture. The droids even have the original spelled out names; See Threepio and Artoo-Detoo.
The book showcases some of the most iconic images the film has to offer and in some cases uses a full page or more to show them off.
One of the more interesting things about the storybook is that it includes one of the deleted scenes from the movie.
The page retells the scene of Biggs informing Luke that he was going to be joining the Rebel Alliance. We even get a few pictures of the deleted scene.
The photos in this book are absolutely amazing and follow the story page to page. The Death Star looks gorgeous in its close up. You can just imagine countless Imperial Stormtroopers marching through the halls of this giant space station.
This book has turned into more than just a children's storybook. It can now be viewed as an amazing volume of great photographs, some of which could possibly be considered art.
Rayman for Atari Jaguar
I have to admit that my Atari Jaguar isn't near the top of the list for my favorite consoles but it does have a few titles worth appreciating. The original Rayman video game is one of those few gems in the Jaguar's relatively small library.
Originally meant to be a Super Nintendo game, Rayman was eventually moved to the cancelled SNES CD system. Eventually the game was moved to the Jaguar, the Playstation, and the Sega Saturn.
The back of the box shows just how beautiful this game is. It's an excellent 2D platformer with some of the most colorful graphics in a sidescroller I have seen to this day. Rayman has had several games since then and is still going to this day on current gen systems but none are as great to me as the original.
The game's manual contained several black and white pictures which still look great even without the colors seen in the actual game. The manual was printed in three languages which you didn't usually see very much back in 1995.
This page in the manual also shows the often hated Jaguar controller. It was a monster with tons of buttons but I can't say that I feel too much animosity towards it. It served its purpose well and it wasn't horribly uncomfortable.
Random Retro Advertisement
Twenty-five years ago glasses were offered at several different places to tie in with different fads or movies. Carebears, Smurfs, and Garfield were all hot properties etched onto glasses and offered up with pizza or burgers. None had quite the awesomeness as Burger King and their Star Wars offerings. This ad is from their Empire Strikes Back collection, a set of four really cool glasses that any retro nerd would be proud to drink from today.