Retro Ramblings: Royal Rumble

Ewoks, Mogwais, Captains and Cookies battle it out for retro supremacy
October 18, 2009

Ladies and gentleman, welcome to the Retro Ramblings Royal Rumble (R4) pay-per-view event, I'm Mean Gene Okerlund of Mean Gene's Burgers. We have classic line-up of combatants for you here at Retrojunk stadium, so let's get to the action with our mic-man at ringside, Hoju Koolander.

Cuddly Cuties: Gizmo from Mogwai or Wicket the Ewok?
Thanks, Mean Gene. Our first match up is a doozie pitting two tiny titans against each other in retro-wrestling mayhem. Everyone one remembers Gizmo from Gremlins and everybody's old Chinese uncle remembers the 3 rules of the Mogwai, but what does Gizmo have going for him in all reality?

Sure he's cute and that will get him some action with the ladies, but once they get with him their options are pretty limited. I mean they can't go out on Taco Bell runs for "fourthmeal" at 2am because Giz will ruin the experience by turning into a big, green Gremlin. And forget about skinny dipping or partying in the Jacuzzi 'cause Gizmo's just going to start multiplying all over the place. Even a weekend getaway to Hawaii is out of the question what with Gizmo's aversion to "Bright Light!" So if you decide to hang with Gizmo you're pretty much going to sit in a dark room from 8pm-11:59pm watching movies or playing World of Warcraft. So I guess your lives won't change too much.

Wicket on the other hand is a warrior space bear from Endor. He may be cute, but his animal skin Ewok hood gives him a wildman edge that can't be denied. Plus just going to visit him you get to take a ride in an awesome spaceship, be it Millenium Falcon or Star Tours. When you get the forest Wicket calls home you can look forward to hanging in a hollowed out tree and swinging from ropes. Plus Wicket is always stumbling into some type of adventure, whether it's fighting Imperial forces or joining with Wilford Brimley to battle evil witches with feather fetishes (anybody else seen Battle for Endor?). The only downside is that Wicket's verbal capacity is pretty limited. All I can remember him saying in any type of recognizable English in the movies I've seen is, "Wicket go whoosh!" over and over again.

Regardless of all the reasons listed above I have to give the win in this match-up to Wicket based solely on the fact that he is not voiced by Howie Mandell. Sorry Gizmo, if only they had hired a young Seth McFarlane to ascribe the voice of Stewie from Family Guy to your fuzzy form in 1984 you might be wearing the championship belt today. But as it stands, WICKET WINS!

Cookie Crumbs: Teddy Grahams or TMNT Cookies
For our next bout we're going to take a look at deliciousness vs. marketing. Teddy Grahams were tiny bear-shaped cookies that came in cinnamon, honey, and chocolate flavors, but that's not what made them great. What made them awesome were their commercials. They took the essence of 80's pop-rock and transposed it onto a band of giant dancing bears.

If not for the sight of these furry fret-masters shredding it up on guitar I would have passed by the idea of Teddy Grahams by in an instant. But I remember seeking out the chocolate variety at the supermarket shortly after the commercials sufficiently hypnotized me with seemingly non-stop airings in between after school cartoons. They were actually quite tasty and it was no surprise to learn that they came in a breakfast cereal variety as well, since I usually just dumped the package into a cup of milk anyway and fished them out with a spoon.

But then cookies sprang forth in the form of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and nothing would be the same. Now I was a little weary because I had been burned before on Spider-Man and Batman cookies that came with cool coin banks, but tasted like sugary cardboard. But once I got a taste of the TMNT cookies plucked from the Turtle Van shaped box all fears were tossed aside like so many foot soldiers. Unbeknownst to me I had grabbed the apple-cinnamon graham variety which wouldn't have been my first choice, but they ended up being mighty tasty. Plus each cookie was individually shaped like one of my favorite heroes in the half-shell, so I could play before I ate. Radical!

Basically what this contest comes down to is brand recognition and although the Teddy Grahams Band on the commercials were cool, the cookies themselves didn't show the bears rockin' out, they were just standing there.

Whereas the TMNT cookies showed the green machines with weapons at the ready and posed for action, plus the box was a vehicle! Round 2: TURTLES WIN!

Mean Gene Okerlund back with you for our main event of the evening in which we pit the Enforcer of Earth versus the Force of the Future in a literal title match. On the line is the right of these combatants to call themselves Captain, with the loser having to take on the lesser title of Private and all its possible connotations. Let's go back to ringside reminding you to try Mean Gene's Burgers, even though we've been out of business for close to 10 years.

Cap Trap: Captain Planet or Captain Power?
Thanks again, Mean Gene. Well heck I have to start off by giving props to the hero that made it cool to recycle, Captain Planet. Before blue boy came around kids were told not be "Litter-Bugs", but we didn't have a role model to look up to. Enter, Captain Planet and the Planeteers on weekday mornings and afternoons. He fought against eco-terrorists and kept an optimistic, somewhat unnerving, smile all the while.

The only thing is, Captain Planet was basically a puppet of the Planeteers. If he was so great, why did he have to wait for the Saved By The Bell version of the United Nations to unleash him on the baddies? He was a tool of the system, the eco-system (HA! I kill me!). I always found the Planeteers much cooler and certainly more fashion conscious than the good Captain. I either wanted to hang out with Wheeler or make out with Linka, if I was throwing a party I wouldn't even put Captain Planet on the guest list 'cause he's got nothing to say. As a figurehead he was sufficient, but as a character: Boooring.

That brings us to the 22nd century man of the metal wars, Captain Power. From a design stand point he's already got Peter Peter Planet Eater beat by a mile. Blue skin and green mullet versus golden armor and helmet with visor, is there any doubt in your mind what's cooler? Now you can make the argument that one is animated and the other is live action, but a live action Captain Planet would even further prove my point, just look:

There is nothing you can do to make it work. 3 tries here and they couldn't get it right! Furthermore, Captain Power was his own man and led the Soldiers of the Future. The SOLDIERS OF THE FUTURE! So ominous, so kick-a$$. Planeteers be damned, I'm joining up with Cap Pow team where they have guns. Not monkeys and the power of Heart.

Of course we know that the true test of awesomeness comes from your toy line and I owned figures from both these shows at one point in my life. Captain Planet figures weren't known for their articulation, but they tried to lure you in with the chance to own your very own Planeteer ring, which was a fine selling point for me. Although again it speaks to the idea that being a Planeteer was cooler than Captain Planet himself.

I had the flying Captain Planet figure pictured, but I didn't play with it much. I think I was actually embarrassed to be seen with the guy quite honestly, he looked like James Bond, Jr. (whose figure I also owned) but painted blue and going to Mardi Gras.

Captain Power may not have come with ring, but man were those figures ever shiny! Metallic paint jobs were where it was at as far as action figures were concerned and the Soldiers of the Future weren't skimping. They were a little smaller than G.I. Joe figures and had cool jet vehicles that interacted with a special video on your TV screen.

But I think the thing that set the Power Crew apart was the awesome Power On playset. The Captain Power figure had a hole in the back that let you plug it into the Energizer and light up his chest that just embodied what he was all about: POWER!

So it should be plain to see at this point that although culturally significant, Captain Planet just isn't worthy to carry such a high-falootin' moniker as Captain. Forevermore shall he be know as Private Planet, while the winner of this bout reminds us to POWER ON! Captain Power WINS!
Bonus Question: Who was your favorite recurring character from In Living Color?

Keenan Ivory-Wayans really turned the sketch comedy world on its ear with his brand of racially-charged wackiness back in the early 90's. Stars of today like Jim Carrey and Jamie Fox got their start giving us characters like Fire Marshall Bill, Vera DeMilo, Wanda and Carl "The Tooth" Williams, but all the cast members had memorable moments (except for that fat guy, Jay Legget. What the heck did he ever do on that show?). So which was my favorite? Well it's a toss-up between two David Alan-Grier characters that I loved: Calhoun Tubbs and Antoine Merriweather.

I loved Tubbs because of his catch phrase, "Wrote a song about it. Like to hear it? Here it go!" His songs would just piss off his audience because the lyrics were so insulting and it was always the same song anyway that ended with "Aahhh-yeahahahah".

But then there's Antoine of Men on Film who had the classic line about the film Das Boot delivered in his ultra-effeminate manner, "It's about a group of MENS on a submarine..." It always cracked me up, the emphasis he put on "mens" and the "S" he added to the end of it. I think I have to go with Calhoun Tubbs on this one, because I have a soft spot in my heart for unintentionally terrible performers.

And with that the evening draws to a close. We've seen a lot of action here tonight, but you won't believe the flavor action at Mean Gene's Burgers! Stop In Today!
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