Retro Reloaded

When retro becomes new...
June 22, 2009

Me recently at the Gatlinburg, TN Ripleys Aquarium at the Smokies. That region is teeming with retro flavor!

As of this writing, I have two articles pending. Im not sure if this article or the others will see the light of day on RETROJUNK.COM, but I am trying my hand at something unique. The biggest thing on here is to take an idea that is your own and not copy someone else. Originality is key when writing an article that people want to look at. However, we are all on here because we want to venture back to yesteryear and repeat some of those memories from way back when. Toy, videogame, television, and food companies have taken notice that we all love nostalgia and they have started taking advantage of the fact that all of us that grew up in the 80s and 90s are now working adults with paychecks to spend on that same stuff all over again. What kinds of things have come back bigger and better (or maybe even worse) than they were when we first experienced their magic? Im here to share some of those things that take me back but are new in their own ways. These things have come out over the past five years or so (since Ive been out of high school, which was 2002).

It looks cool. It just isnt the same...

Of course, I had to start out on something that wasn't quite as good the second time around. Remember the magic that was the original Ninja Turtles cartoon with villains like Shredder, Krang, Beebop, Rocksteady, and several others? In the second incarnation of the TMNT franchise, these guys are nonexistent (at least in the ones I saw on TV with my son). Kids these days seem to like the slightly more edgy and violent Turtle cartoon and even the crazy TMNT movie that got put out not long ago. I cannot relate, however hard I try to these cartoons and the new style of the Turtle franchise.
All is not lost, however. Apparently knowing that us adults would not quite buy in to the new TMNT fad, the powers that be decided really quick to release every older Ninja Turtle cartoon on DVD in season volumes. I cannot express the thrill I felt when I picked up the season one TMNT DVD a few years ago. Despite the fact that volume one had only five or six episodes, I was still happy to watch them all over again. It was almost like being five in the 80s. Good feelings abound…


Just a side note: I was checking out Wikipedia the other day and did a bit of research on the TMNT comic book series. Apparently a few years ago, several of the TMNT mainstays died in the comics. Among those characters were Mondo Gecko, Wingnut, Screwloose, Leatherhead, Shredder, Slash, Ray Filet, Baxter Stockman, Splinter, and a few others. The comics also have hinted at a few darker tones. Baxter Stockman was killed by Donatello when Stockman injected April O Neil with nanobots that rendered her infertile. Wow. Never saw that one coming. We never saw that one on the Saturday morning cartoon! However, time changes our heroes and everything from Ninja Turtles to the X-Men have evolved to fit a more adult crowd. They tend to age with us, dont they? Actually, looking back, nothing has changed. The comic was always a bit darker and they toned down the dark aspect a bit more for the childrens cartoon.

They would be doing well if they ditched the current flavors and went with this for good.

Im not really sure where this falls on the retro radar, but its nice to know that we can buy a Pepsi or Mountain Dew that is not only packaged in almost identical packaging than in the 80s, but also made to taste like it with real sugar, not the overused HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP that dominates every sweet product known to man now. I have personally tasted both of these and even though the taste isn't extremely different, it is still enough to be able to pick them apart in a blind taste test. PLUS, the Throwback drinks taste a lot better. Coca Cola, RC Cola, and several other drinks would do well to follow Pepsi's lead. Delicious. I think I could go for an ice cold Pepsi Throwback right now, as a matter of fact.

A decent pic of what the Virtual Console offers.

The people at Nintendo have to be the smartest people on the planet. Either that, or all the other companies lack common sense when it comes to knowing what the people want. With the popularity of old games soaring, Nintendo created one of the biggest retro gimmicks of all time…the Virtual Console on the Wii. Through this service, a Wii owner can get online through Nintendos Wi Fi service and download different classic games for small prices. Nintendo games can be bought for five bucks a piece, SNES games for eight, and N64 games for ten. They also have Sega Genesis games like Sonic the Hedgehog and other systems games like the Sega Master System and even Turbo Graphix.
Over the past six months or so, Ive downloaded a ton of great games, including Super Mario Brothers 3, Zelda: A Link to the Past, and Sonic 2. Ive spent probably more than a hundred dollars on these games. Since the beginning of the year, Nintendo has apparently decided to slow down in a big way on releasing good games. Apparently they don't want to release everything too soon for fear of not having anything to release in the future. They have also expanded with the new DSi store for the handheld Nintendo DSi system. Id like to actually see old Game Boy games available on that service. Id buy a DSi then.
This craze I think started with the Game Boy Advance getting some old NES Classics Series games like the original Zelda, Mario, and Castlevania. When those sales took off in a big way, they decided there was money to be made in the retro business. Nintendo I think can lend a big chunk of the Wiis success not only to the motion controls, but also to the retro audience who can get their fix on this awesome system.


Sure, Family Guy and Robot Chicken would be great without being retro, but think about it. Every time you see a retro gag on there, it has to make you feel good. After all, there are a ton of retro related themes in every episode of both these shows. Lets first tackle Family Guy.
Lets look at the list of references I can think of right off the top of my head for Family Guy. Weve seen that Optimus Prime is Jewish, there have been TOP GUN parodies. There have also been parodies of the Dukes of Hazard, retro President BILL CLINTON, The Simpsons, and any number of old sitcoms. My personal favorite is the really long intro to the episode of MAUDE. I challenge you to find at least one FAMILY GUY episode without a retro reference in it. Maybe its SETH GREENs influence, or maybe Seth McFarlane is just a cool retro junkie like us.
ROBOT CHICKEN has piles upon piles of retro material. Anything from old school WWF to old videogames and even a race between the 60s Batman and Robin, Mario and Luigi, Speed Racer, and several others. They even had a skit that parodied MY LITTLE PONY called MY LITTLE APOCALYPSE PONY. Robot Chicken is unreal to watch and while several of their skits are downright offensive, much like Family Guy, it is a cant miss show. I love this show and would recommend it to any RETRO JUNKIE for viewing.
These shows are great to watch and have gotten a ton of influence from our 70s, 80s, and 90s culture. A great couple of shows to watch to get that retro fix in an adult way.

This is the best X-Men cartoon in years. I suggest you check it out first chance you get!
Over the last few decades, several MARVEL comic books have been made into cartoons. Most notably SPIDERMAN way back when and then X-Men and Spiderman again in the 90s. We kind of had a silence in the decent cartoon market until just recently. With the awesome success of the MARVEL movies, you can now find new updated cartoons based on our favorite comics from a decade ago. Best among these is the new cartoon WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN on NICKTOONS network. I can honestly say this series is awesome, while maybe not as good as the 90s original. This new series, while only a couple of episodes into season two in the US, has all the greatest elements of the X-Men. It deals with time travel, Wolverines past, sentinels, the evil mutants of Magneto, and even has the latest costumes for the X-Men, including Emma Frost since Jean is apparently dead in this series. Right now, Professor Xavier is in a coma but is contacting Wolverine from 20 years in the future in which the world is a crap hole of its former glory and the world is run by sentinels, much like the classic time travel stories of the 80s. Great stuff...
Its also nice to have all these movies in the works. I know that many of us fanboys are salivating over the prospect of a second IRON MAN movie and then a Captain America movie. After all that, an AVENGERS movie is coming and I truly cant wait for some type of SECRET WARS movie that may or may not be made. Id actually like to see them all take on the SKRULLS or GALACTUS, not counting that crappy storyline of the second FANTASTIC FOUR movie that dealt with the world devouring villain. Heck, we never even got to really see GALACTUS.
The comics are actually doing well these days and are bringing back several ideas from back when. A lot of dead characters from yesteryear are coming back in DC Comics, and Marvel has killed off Captain America and replaced him with another character from WAAAAAYYY back, Bucky. However, this new success that Marvel has found may come with a price in my own opinion. It appears to me that Marvel and DC both are putting out so many major stories that fans will get burnt out or the companies will run out of ideas for a while. After all, more has happened in terms of big events in the past two years than did in the entire 90s when I read enthusiastically.
I may actually get into reading comics again, but Ive got a lot of catching up to do, even though Ive not read in only a year and a half. Sad, isn't it?

Comparing old and new TRANSFORMERS

There are a ton of properties that have been made into newer movies, and oftentimes these movies are met with disastrous reviews and even worse ticket sales. SPEED RACER was a horrible film and the numbers showed it. Would TERMINATOR SALVATION be considered retro reborn? Im not really sure actually, since it was only 2003 or so since T3 was made and released. Im going to go ahead and say it counts, though. T4 was awesome, but not everyone loved it with the same love that they had for T2 or even T1. The new TMNT movie was alright, but wasn't anywhere near as good as the original back when. However, the new STAR TREK movie has been one of the most positively reviewed movies of the summer and has sales numbers to match it. We also have movies such as the film LAND OF THE LOST and a new TRANSFORMERS movie from Michael Bay to look forward to. The first Transformers movie was cool, but lacked the atmosphere and real spirit of the 80s original series. Also, there are several more movies in the future such as GI JOE, which also looks to be threatening the atmosphere of the original, and ASTRO BOY, though Im not really sure what this one holds. You can rest assured that as long as retro sales and at least one retro movie a year holds blockbuster status in sales, the movie companies will continue putting out remake after remake hoping that something sticks and becomes a franchise. After all, the new remake of the Punisher was awesome, but the sequel to that was a steaming pile of crap and Marvel didn't seem to care.

It seems that every so often, someone releases a cover or remix of a great song. This is true of many remakes of 60s and 70s songs, but were beginning to see many rereleases of 90s albums, such as PEARL JAMs TEN album for tenth and fifteenth anniversaries. After all, these guys know we will pay big money for a multidisc boxed set rerelease with a bonus DVD and booklet just for the sake of that set bringing us back to yesteryear. As long as we keep putting out the bucks, they'll continue making us awesome rehashes of what weve already heard. A good or bad thing? You decide.

A great collection of games.

The first few of these I noticed were in the Xbox and PS2 days. There were several collections out there. Most notably were the Intellevision Collections, the Sonic the Hedgehog Collection, and the MEGA MAN Collection. All of these games were pretty cool and I can say that these multigame collections at the time were a bigger and better idea than the Wii Virtual Console. After all, on the Mega Man Collection, I could get like nine games for 20 or 30 bucks while now each of those games cost at least five a piece. Back then, they were a better deal, but at the same time, nothing beats not having to leave your home to buy a classic game.

Well, that's all for this article. However, I do have a few honorable mentions that didn't make the list. Among those are

Major League Baseball teams wearing throwback jerseys.

Mega Man 9 on Nintendo WiiWare

New and improved Lunch Box Tins

Old cartoons ON DEMAND and on DVD

Anyway, I hope everyone enjoyed this. As always, be sure to check out my site, It hasn't seen an update in a while, but Ive got a few good things on there that would be enjoyed by a retro enthusiast! Until next time...
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