The Retro Machine (Vol. 16)
Hall of Justice, Operation, and More!
It's the sweet sixteen for The Retro Machine this time around and I hope you enjoy it! Stay tuned for a special announcement at the end of the article about something I think you all will be interested in. For now, here we go!
One of my first "playsets" was the McDonald's Playset by Playskool. I have to hand it to McDonalds, they've done a bang-up job of associating fuzzy memories and warm feelings with artery-clogging food through toys. This set had it all; a playground, the inside of the restaurant, a realistic looking model of the facade, the Golden Arches themselves, and somewhat "off" people handling the food. By "off", I mean square-headed. Though I don't remember specific play sessions with this toy, I'm sure I spent hours staging the many zany interactions that can happen between people at McDonalds.
A pretty fun playset
Enjoying a meal outside
Super Size Me
I'll be here forever
While I'm on the McDonald's kick, I would be remiss not to mention the fan-freakin'-tastic McDonaldLand Cookies. These cookies rank among the greatest boxed cookies ever to, er, uh, be boxed, on the face of the earth. They were better than an Animal Cracker on its best day, and that's saying something. The original formula, along with the even more awesome decorative box (how GREAT is the little Golden Arch handle!?!) is sadly lost to the ages.
The newer, more health-conscious generations will probably never understand what I'm talking about, and that may be for the better. But you and I will remember...we will remember a time when Ronald said "hey kid, I know you just ate a few hamburgers, scarfed an order of fries, and gulped a soda, but how about taking some cookies with you for the road!"
And we said "sure!"
The award for "Most Stressful Board Game Ever" goes to Operation. I don't know about you guys, but this game was guaranteed to put me on edge every time I played it. And you know why of course, it was because of that horrible sound that occurred every time your surgical tweezers brushed up against the metal!
Truthfully though, we never actually played this game. No, it was more like we just put the little white pieces in the places they needed to go and took our chances trying to remove them without making the buzzer go off. The absolute worst piece ever was that loaf of bread. It was so wide and had barely any area for your tweezers to latch on to so it was almost always destined to be the piece you screwed up on.
At least the the "spare ribs" had a decent area to grab onto, as did my personal favorite, the "funny bone". I was always partial to the "Adam's apple" because it had the little stem you could pick it up from. The "butterfly" was always the easiest because you could often pick it up from the middle section with very little risk involved. The red nose lighting up still gives me nightmares to this day.
If Operation set the bar for stress, Mouse Trap set the bar for frustration. Like Operation, I never actually played an official game of Mouse Trap. Rather, I would spend my time trying to set the game up and just make the freakin' mouse trap work. That's all I wanted, to be able to start the chain reaction and catch the mouse, who needed the game? Alas, if Mouse Trap taught me anything, it was that I would never be an engineer.
Maybe I was just slow as a child, I dunno. What I do know is that this game was near impossible to actually assemble for me. And the few times I did get it right, the little red cage would not descend all the way to the bottom! So I'd get the whole chain reaction to work only to have the red cage hung up several rungs from the bottom!
Secret Compartment Rings
Secret Compartment Rings were a popular little novelty back in the 80's and even far before then. You could get them in cereal boxes, vending machines, or even with some action figures. I remember that the top of these rings opened up to reveal a hidden compartment. You could usually only store folded up pieces of paper in there, but nonetheless it was a pretty cool thing to think you had some sort of "secret" you were carrying around on your finger. The rings you see pictured are actually from the monster cereals. I haven't seen these around anymore, but I imagine they might actually still be exciting to the young kids today.
Kool-Aid & The Kool-Aid Man
You've gotta love the Kool-Aid Man. He was completely unwilling to change himself in order to please others. He was all "I'm here, I'm big, deal with the giant hole in your wall that I'll create when I bust through it".
He'd bust through your wall alright, but all was better soon enough because he was always carrying a cold pitcher of Kool-Aid. And I always felt like I had to drink it too because even though he was constantly smiling, I felt like something bad would happen to me if I turned it down.
Regular flavors of Kool-Aid were great and all, but in my book there was no better Kool-Aid than.....
PURPLESAURUS REX AND ROCK-A-DILE RED!!!
These were two of my favorite flavors and there were few other things that tasted so good as ice cold Kool-Aid during a hot summer day. It was even better if you got to drink it out of these:
Turbo Touch 360
The Turbo Touch 360 looked so cool in the gaming magazines. The idea was that the D-pad was absolutely flat and totally responsive to the motion of your thumb. Because of this, it touted the ability to do effortless 360's for your in-game characters. It also promised "higher scores or your money back!" The controllers were released with different d-pad colors for each console at the time. In addition, you had the standard "turbo" buttons which I'm sure you know always had mixed results.
I'm not sure what you're experience was with this controller (if you had one), but for me this is the second worst controller I've ever used. Second only to the abysmal U-Force (featured in a past Retro Machine article). It just felt so....wrong to use, so awkward. The touch pad was responsive, but was just not the best way to control the 8-bit and 16-bit games of the day.
Fisher Price Micro Explorer Set
The Micro Explorer Set was perfect for kids who happened to be budding scientists. At least, that's what Fisher Price intended. Yes, of course they included suggestions to look at things like flowers and leaves under the microscope, but you're kidding yourselves if you think that's what they were doing. Any kids I knew were looking at a combination of scabs.......boogers.......pieces of Doritos......just about anything you could think of because you know, anything gross blown up 30 times is way more gross. You also got a few "specimen" bottles (so you could collect boogers), tweezers (use your imagination), and an eye dropper (we could get in all sorts of trouble with eye droppers).
Who knows, maybe some person out there will find the cure for cancer one day and it will have all started with the Micro Explorer Set. Call me a cynic, but I'm betting this product peaks at booger exploration.
Fearsome Flush was a Real Ghostbusters figure and quite frankly I'd say he is one of the more disturbing ones. On the outside, it looks like a regular toilet. But when you lift the lid, eyes pop up and a slimy tongue gets you right in your "bad touch area". Fearsome Flush was not much of a diverse figure. You were hard pressed to find much more to do with him than just use him to give Ray Stanz the occasional butt version of a wet willy.
The Hall of Justice
Ah yes, The Hall of Justice was the place where our Super Powers met in the interest of all that is just. It was the mutual meeting place for folks such as Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, and The Flash, just to name a few. Really, I never preferred this kind of situation. I have never been a fan of crossovers, and this was one gigantic crossover. It also seemed like a real bad idea to have all the Super Powers living in one place. Surely Mr. Freeze could just encapsulate the whole building in mile thick ice and call it a day, right?
The Hall of Justice was essentially two rooms. One room housed a jail cell (with a trap door above the jail) to keep villains and the other room was sort of like the Super Powers LAN-gaming room or something. I believe there was even a landing or launch pad that went on top of the building and an elevator that led to it.
Trap door and jail cell
The gang gathers for some Call of Duty. Wonder Woman looks quite fetching, but it is all to distract the men
I actually trashed my Hall of Justice recently, but I kept all the figures that I had. It was hard to part with it, but we had to do some cleaning and that simply didn't make the cut. Though it most likely lies in pieces in a landfill somewhere, I'd like to think some kid scavenged it from my trash can and that justice may very well reign again.
If you enjoy The Retro Machine and especially if you enjoy the Retro Junk site in general, I want to mention something that I think everybody here will be interested in. In February 2009, I began appearing in segments of Video Masters TV (created by and hosted by John Gibson). Video Masters TV is a show featuring segments about short films, movies, video games, and occasionally books, board games, and other forms of entertainment.
It is a mix of modern and retro stuff and I just know that there is plenty that you all will want to check out. Just to give you an idea, so far I've done reviews for The New Tetris (N64 game), Adventures in the Magic Kingdom (NES), The Commodore 64 Book, and mini reviews of Bowling (Atari 2600) and Frogger (Gameboy Color). I, as well as the other great hosts of the show, have more things planned to cover in future episodes, so keep an eye out! If you watch it and like it, you have a few years worth of great episodes to catch up on. I'm sure you'll find that it's a show after your own heart.
Episodes are easily available all across the internet at places like Youtube, or you can go directly to the site at www.videomasterstv.com.
Miss one of The Retro Machine articles? See the links below.
Volume 1 http://www.retrojunk.com/details_articles/1814/
Volume 2 http://www.retrojunk.com/details_articles/1845/
Volume 3 http://www.retrojunk.com/details_articles/1890/
Volume 4 http://www.retrojunk.com/details_articles/1929/
Volume 5 http://www.retrojunk.com/details_articles/1978/
Volume 6 http://www.retrojunk.com/details_articles/2067/
Volume 7 http://www.retrojunk.com/details_articles/2127/
Volume 8 http://www.retrojunk.com/details_articles/2196/
Volume 9 http://www.retrojunk.com/details_articles/2261/
Volume 10 http://www.retrojunk.com/details_articles/2419/
Volume 11 http://www.retrojunk.com/details_articles/2916/
Volume 12 http://www.retrojunk.com/details_articles/3170/
Volume 13 http://www.retrojunk.com/details_articles/3986/
Volume 14 http://www.retrojunk.com/details_articles/4127/
Volume 15 http://www.retrojunk.com/details_articles/4328/