The Retro Machine (Vol. 14)

Pig Pong, Wrestling Buddies, and More!
November 05, 2008

In this edition of The Retro Machine, we celebrate the 150th item. I am particularly excited for this one because it features 3 rather obscure items that I have been searching for since the beginning of this great experiment. But let's start off with something most of us probably know...

Hungry Hungry Hippos

Take a bunch of marbles, set them down on a plastic surface, slap plastic hippo heads against the surface in a mad rush to eat the marbles, and what you have is the loudest freakin' game ever made.

In short bursts, Hungry Hungry Hippos was alot of fun. You and your friends would relentlessly pound down on the black lever that operated the hippo's head, competing to see who could munch up the most marbles. Perhaps I have some sort of ocular sensitivity, but playing this game was akin to shooting a gun at a firing range without wearing hearing protection. Once all the marbles were gone, my ears would ring and the silence would be deafening.

Towards the end there would always be those wayward marbles, the ones that would linger off to the side that nobody could reach. This always lead to players subtly trying to nudge the board in an effort to get the marble to come back their way. Sadly, no matter how many marbles they ate, the hippos were always hungry and there must be some sort of medical explanation for that.

WWF Wrestling Buddies

Let's face it, if these muscular, half-naked guys made into pillows were anything but WWF wrestlers, it would be "homo-erotic" rather than "cool". Luckily, the wild hair, face paint, and championship belts lent credibility to our desire to own one. These were great for would-be wrestlers who wanted to practice their leg and elbow drops (as well as flying splashes and bodyslams). It was a little odd to see the real life WWF Superstars pitching these cuddly glorified pillows on Saturday morning (Wrestling Buddies, Ooooh Yeeeahhh!).

Crayola Cup

These plastic cups were shaped like fat Crayola crayons and I have many flash memories of drinking out of them. I've recently come across several cups and glasses of my youth that for years were just stored at the top of the cabinet. It's often very interesting to study these cups again because I remember spending many a schoolday morning studying them closely as my mind struggled to wake up. I drank soda out of these on some occasions. It's funny the things we remember.

Pig Pong

Pig Pong was a clever play on words for this quirky game from Milton Bradley. Each player had a rubber pig that when squeezed would blow out a puff of air. You'd set up your plastic "net" on a table, complete with track to keep score on top. Then you would take these little white "discs" that were extremely light and use your air blowing pigs to begin an amusing volley.

Of course if the white disc touched down on your surface, it was a point for your opponent and vice-versa. I can tell you that our volleys never lasted long with this game. However, it's not like playing Pig Pong exactly brought out the competitive spirit within us. At any rate, it was a fun distraction and it was very pleasant rediscovering it. Nerf Ping Pong was better though.

Johnny Castaway

Johnny Castaway is quite simply one of the greatest screen savers there ever was. He came along in the early to mid 90's and you just couldn't wait for your computer to time out and shoot to Johnny. The basic premise here is that Johnny is stuck on this tiny island and you watch as he comes up with things to pass the time. He might build a fire and sit for awhile at it, read a book under the tree, or even go for a swim.

Some of the most fun things to see were things that happened to Johnny. Whether it was a shark attack, a potential rescue plane flying by, a boat full of girls in bikini's passing him up, and even pirates, there was seemingly no end to the number of things possible. And that's what kept you glued to the screen. If you were lucky enough, you might just get a glimpse at Johnny's rescue, his return to normal life, and his longing to return to the island (which he does).

Johnny Castaway ran with your computer's internal clock in mind, so if it was night time where you lived, it was night for Johnny. Around Halloween, he'd set a little pumpkin out. In December, a tree would go up. It was these subtle touches, combined with the numerous events which would unfold, that has endeared Johnny to many. You can still have this screensaver actually, there's a free download of it out there somewhere. In minutes, you can have Johnny on your own computer. You'll find that he's still on that island and I (as well as he) wouldn't have it any other way.

King of the Sea

This is one of those items that maybe nobody here will remember, but if you do remember it, you will absolutely appreciate its presence here. "King of the Sea" was a 3D board game that actually came in a few pieces you would snap together to form one long board. One end had the black ships and a cannon, the other end had red ships and a cannon. The idea was that you would progress your ships across the board, marking islands you had conquered along the way with a flag of your color. You and your opponent would trade cannon shots back and forth, shooting little balls across the board in an effort to hit the advancing ships.

Shooting the cannonballs across the board and hitting ships was very satisfying and was perhaps the most memorable thing about this game. Often when I'd get this game out, I wouldn't even play it the way it was intended, I just tried to shoot ships or make up my own stories.

This is one of those items that I have been looking for ever since the beginning, so it's very satisfying to finally be able to feature it here!

Blue Max

It was the dawn of PC-gaming, and this wonderful WWI game put you in the cockpit as you flew over hostile territory. You engaged in both an air and ground assault, dogfighting with planes in the sky and bombing tanks, buildings, and cars on the ground. The game had a fantastic atmosphere, there was no in-game music but that was okay because you found yourself enveloped in a wonderful array of sounds.

Dropping bombs on things was most satisfying because the sound of it was spot on. You'd get that high pitched squeal as the bomb fell to the ground and it would soon be followed by an impact blast sound that drove home the destructive impact of it all. When you bombed a building, the building would assume this "tv snow" look. It was always fun for me to bomb the vehicles driving on the roads below, they would assume a miniature mushroom cloud look. Your guns had a great spitfire sound as well.

The game wasn't all action, there was a little resource management involved. As you flew, your fuel depleted. Whenever you would approach an air strip, you could either land and refuel or just keep flying and risk crashing before the next air strip. I always thought it was so cheap that enemy planes would come and bomb me while I was refueling, but that's war I guess.

I think what I remember most about this game was the taking off and landing parts. I felt like I was really piloting this plane. Remember, these were the days when your imagination was allowed to fill in many blanks, it's not like nowadays where little is left for you to imagine. There was a certain magic in that.

Speaking of the Commodore 64, I want to put in a little plug here for a book written by a fellow named Andrew Fisher. I'm only talking about it because I think it speaks to the retro heart that beats in all who read this article (Before you ask, no I am not benefiting in any way from this). The book is called "The C64 Book 1982-199x".

This book goes through the years of the Commodore 64 and points out some of the best and brightest games from each year. Each game is described in detail alongside ratings the game received from computer magazines of the day.

The pages are beautiful full color, the screen shots bring it all back, and this makes a terrific coffee book table. I have one myself and I absolutely love it. Christmas is coming and this is the perfect time to go ahead and put it on your Christmas list whether you are a Commodore lover or just enjoy retro gaming. Order one at

Fleer Haunted House Candy

Not to be confused with the "Fleer Haunted House Candy Maze" that was featured in an earlier article, this wonderful little candy only existed as a shadow in my mind until now. I saw it pop up on Ebay and as soon as I saw it, I knew I had to spend a few dollars for it.

The artwork was what I remembered best about this one. Each box was shaped like a little haunted house. It's funny, when they were delivered to me they were so much smaller than what I had remembered. Once I got past that though, I knew I needed to open this baby up
and check out how the candy had held up over the years. It had been encased in there since the 1980's.

One of the cool things about this box too was that the little doors on the side of the box would actually open and that is how the candy was accessed. After all these years, the candy finally spilled out in all its moldy glory. It very much resembles Smarties actually, which is
odd because I don't remember that. They certainly did not taste like Smarties back then, but there is NO WAY I was putting one of those things in my mouth.

Folks, this is what they call "retro warmed over". Sometimes, memories need only to stay memories, forever kept in a pretty package behind perforated doors, so that they always stay sweet.

Green Slime Shampoo

Many of us remember the famous Nickelodeon show "You Can't Do That On Television". It was basically a skit show, a sort of Saturday Night Live for kids but this was no Mickey Mouse Club. Skits included a disgusting chef who served a repulsive brand of mystery meat and kids being generally cheeky. This was the kind of show your parents might not have let you watch if it had been on any other channel.

Perhaps the most famous running gag was whenever a cast member would say "I don't know", they would be "slimed". Copious amounts of green slime would pour from the ceiling onto their head. The show became so popular that at a certain point, Green Slime Shampoo was marketed to the masses. And of course, in no time at all, I was washing my hair with "slime". As you probably guessed, the "slime" was more like just green shampoo, but it was the idea of it that mattered. You could legitmately imagine that you were washing your hair with slime that had been pumped into a plastic bottle directly from the studio.

The stuff is very hard to find today and I do believe it's worth a pretty penny. Indeed, even finding a good picture on the web is tough. I've wanted to list this item for quite a long time. I got tired of waiting, so the Green Slime Shampoo you see above is more photoshop than anything. I got a hold of a really bad picture of the bottle and color enhanced it.

And now, for the 150th item featured on The Retro Machine..........

Pellet Drum

I don't know about the rest of you, but after I saw The Karate Kid 2 back in the 80's, I had to have me one of those pellet drums featured in the film. In case you don't remember the scene, let's go ahead and do that.

Danielson was in the middle of a brutal fight to the death with Chozen, (a big angry japanese bully) who felt Danielson had brought him dishonor. This fight was in front of the whole freakin' village! And for those of you who don't remember it, Danielson wasn't doing too well. He tried that goofy swan kick against the dude and found out the hard way that the old gimmick was soooooo Karate Kid 1. Mr. Miyagi meant it when he said "Danielson, dis nut tunnament....dis fa reel!".

What was Danielson going to do? Surely he was about to die! But then....

He heard something. He looked over and saw.....

Mr. Miyagi with the drum! Ya see, Danielson's Karate skills were once again insufficient so that means it's time to break out the pellet drum to send some sort of wacky hint to him!

Chozen turns around soon after and he sees......

The whole friggin' village using the pellet drums! Danielson was lucky, it seems it was "Free Pellet Drums For The First 100 Villagers!" night at the theater. At any rate, you knew at this point that Chozen was screwed. He may have spent all his life studying complicated and deadly martial arts, but he's no match for.....

Alternating-double-fist-swinging-like-a-pellet-drum attack! Yeah, take your years of dedication to martial arts and flush them down the drain Chozen, you're about to be downed by what amounts to the same motion I did when I held a pretend baseball bat and won the world series with one swing.

And you remember what happened next right? In an homage to a scene from the beginning of the film, Danielson grabs Chozen, raises his fist, and says "Live or die man". Chozen looks at him with defeated, cold eyes and says "die". So Danielson strikes Chozen right on the nose, sending the bone straight through his brain and killing him instantly. Okay, well, I made that last sentence up.

What he really does is say "wrong answer" and then he grabs his nose and goes "honk". If you haven't seen the film, you must do so, I can't make this stuff up!

And Danielson saves the damsel in distress (like a night in shining armor, from a long time ago). They live happily ever after, making erotic teas for each other, with Peter Cetera set on "repeat". And all this could not have been possible without the pellet drum.

Thats it for now folks! I plan on having something for you in December, so hopefully i'll see you then!
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