The Art of Activision Atari Covers

I can’t even begin to calculate the hours I spent playing Activision games for my Atari 2600. I think they probably had the most fun games on average out of any gaming company back then.

One of the crucial parts of Activision’s appeal was their artwork. I’m referring specifically to the great use of simple drawings with those bold, rainbow motion patterns. There was a real sense of thematic unity behind a lot of Activision’s games, which really helped them so stand out from the pack. Not all of their titles shared that unity, but many did.

So in tribute to the great (and not-so-great) Activision games with the brilliant packaging, here is my Atari 2600 Activision cover slideshow gallery. Here’s what we have here — Boxing, Enduro, Fishing Derby, Freeway, Grand Prix, Ice Hockey, Kaboom!, Laser Blast, Megamania, Oink, Pitfall, River Raid, Skiing, Stampede, and Tennis.

(post image courtesy Atari Age)

Outstanding Behind-the-Scenes Production Images from Star Wars

I love behind the scenes movie stuff, particularly anything to do with the classic Star Wars trilogy. So imagine my joy when I stumbled upon this great crop of images taken during the filming of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back.

Most of these images are instantly identifiable, while a few will test your love of a galaxy far, far away. Click on any image for the full-size version.

Darth Vader's TIE Advanced

Darth Vader’s TIE Advanced

George Lucas and Greedo

George Lucas and Greedo

AT-AT walker

AT-AT walker

Luke Skywalker blasting a TIE figher aboard the Millennium Falcon

Luke Skywalker blasting a TIE figher aboard the Millennium Falcon

Death Star exterior

Death Star exterior

AT-AT walker

AT-AT walker



Death Star exterior

Death Star exterior

TIE fighter

TIE fighter

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Vintage 1983 Radio Shack Burger King AM Radio

With the recent news of venerable electronics retailer Radio Shack’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing — and likely demise — I was inspired to hit the usual auction sites to see what kind of Radio Shack branded stuff I could find.

I was not disappointed with the results, which include this great AM radio with headphones that was made by Radio Shack and distributed at Burger King outlets in 1983.

Vintage 1983 Radio Shack Burger King AM Radio

Mint in box!

Vintage 1983 Radio Shack Burger King AM Radio

As you can see this radio was really a promotional item for the Whopper, and features Burger King’s “Aren’t You Hungry?” slogan from the early-to-mid 1980s. The back of the packaging features a detailed breakdown of the Whopper, as well as a nice black and white illustration of the standard BK franchise design that lasted through the decade at least.

What isn’t immediately visible from this is just how awesome the headphones looked outside the packaging. They were in fact Whopper halves featuring the classic Burger King bun logo.

Radio Shack :: "BURGER KING" HEADPHONE AM RADIO // ebay sample (( 1983 ))

I would so love a pair of these headphones for my iPhone. Let’s make that modification happen, people.

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Spotify logo

The Ultimate Hit Collection Spotify Playlists

Because I can’t get enough of Spotify playlists or of gathering things into lists, I have undertaken what I think you’ll agree is a great public service that combines those two loves. I am in the process of creating playlists — which I’ve helpfully dubbed “Ultimate Hit Collection” — that gather together every song to chart in the top 10 of Billboard’s Hot 100 U.S. singles chart.

These aren’t your typical hits playlists, in that I’m not curating but collecting. That means if a song ever got into the top 10 and it’s on Spotify, it goes into the playlist. So you get to hear some all-time classics and some head-scratching dross.

Thus far I’ve completed my playlists for the 1980s, am almost halfway through the ’70s, and have just started the ’60s. I may one day get to the 1990s but that won’t be anytime soon. So think of this as the greatest oldies radio station in the world, if you will.

One thing I should state clearly is that if an original song isn’t available on Spotify, it’s not in the playlist. This means songs for artists that aren’t on Spotify at all, like George Harrison, the Beatles, and Bob Seger aren’t in here. Likewise, I have tried my best to exclude re-recordings of songs (this happens a lot with older songs especially). I think I have a good ear for that sort of thing, but if I missed any please let me know.

I’ll update this post as new playlists come online, but here are the links as of now.

The Beach Boys - Good Vibrations1960s

Love Will Keep Us Together1970s

Billie Jean1980s


Vintage G.I. Joe action figure collection

Rebuilding My Vintage G.I. Joe Action Figure Collection: Introduction

This is the first in a series of posts wherein I document the rebuilding of my vintage G.I. Joe collection one figure and vehicle at a time. But first a bit of background.

G.I. Joe - Rock 'n Roll action figure box

Rock ‘n Roll – Mint in Box!

You may not know it by reading this site, but I am a child of the 1980s. And like any red-blooded American child growing up in the ’80s, I took pride in my toy collection. And while I dabbled in He-Man figures and even had a decent M.A.S.K. collection, for me it was all about Transformers and G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero.

Recently I decided that with my son on the cusp of prime toy-playing age, it was time to restore one of my old collections to something approaching its former glory. I picked up a few Transformers G1 minibots and a few M.A.S.K., vehicles, and that was fun enough. But I don’t think rebuilding either of those lines is practical for a few reasons — namely a tight budget and a lack of good storage/display space.

So I’ve decided to cast my lot with G.I. Joe, and have already picked up a handful of figures on eBay. And so this series will be a document of my journey in bringing my beloved Joe collection back to life for my enjoyment and my son’s.

But where to start? From the start of the modern 3¾ action figure line in 1982 until the time I stopped collecting — roughly 1987/88 — there were dozens of figures, vehicles, and playsets to choose from. Should I start from the beginning and the original group of 16 G.I. Joe and Cobra figures? Some of them are pretty rare and quite expensive. Or should I just go for the cheapest ones I can find?

As it turns out, I kind of wrote my own starting guide a few years back and had forgotten about it — a list of my favorite G.I. Joe characters from 2011. So yeah, I’ll start there.

So armed with some discretionary income, and a handful of extra stands and replacement rubber bands, I’m ready to rebuild my collection of vintage G.I. Joes! The first few have already arrived, and more are on the way. I won’t spoil any surprises, so you’ll have to stay tuned for future installments.

OK, I’ll give the first one away. The first figure up will be Blowtorch. Here he is in this great 1984 Hasbro TV ad.


Braniff International Collection Catalog

Airline Memories #2: Braniff International Collection Catalog

In Airline Memories, I share aviation items and curiosities from the long history of commercial flight. You’ll see everything from ephemera to souvenirs and other branded items from various U.S. airlines. If you have a request or anything else to share, leave a comment or contact me directly.

Starting in the late 1960s, the late Braniff International Airways had a well-earned reputation for being one of the more colorful passenger carriers around.

I think that’s well represented in pages of Braniff’s in-house product catalog, the Braniff International Collection. Here is the cover to one of those great catalogs, and one of the merchandise pages. Based on the products shown here, I’d peg this for some time in the late 1970s, possibly early ’80s.

Of particular interest to me is the groovy audio equipment and that fantastic Braniff Boeing 747 model airplane.

Braniff International Collection Catalog

Can I borrow your towel? My car just hit a water buffalo.

Braniff International Collection Catalog

Oh, like that calculator wasn’t used to spell BOOBS.

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The Weather Channel logo screen - 1982

Reliving the Glory Days of the Weather Channel

The Weather Channel logo screen - 1982

I’ve been clean for several years, but at one time I was a hardcore Weather Channel junkie. From the late ’80s through about the mid-1990s, I watched the Weather Channel more in one week than I watched most other channels in a year. And so it makes me just a little bit sad to see what has become of my once-favorite TV destination. Instead of the sober, lo-tech and slightly geeky take on weather that the network used to specialize, we now have a cesspool of lame reality programming and ugly public disputes with cable providers.

But it was not always so. When it was launched in May 1982, the Weather Channel had one mission and one mission only — to broadcast the weather. Sounds so simple, how could it possibly work? Because the internet is so awesome, we have footage from TWC’s first day on the air. (Head to the 15:10 mark to witness cutting-edge TV weather graphic production.)

Warning: Severe weather/Weather Channel geekery to follow. This is one of those things you either get or just shake your head over.

My love affair with the Weather Channel began some time in the late 1980s, judging by the dates on the clips and images shown on the outstanding TWC Classics website. Although I already was keenly interested in weather and meteorology from about the age of 7, that turned into a straight up obsession thanks to TWC. During the summer especially — when I was home from school — I kept it on almost all the time, even if it was just background noise.

Not only was I genuinely interested in the weather content, I just found everything about the station so… soothing. I’ve recently read a description of old-school TWC as “TV valium” and I agree with that, in the best way possible.

For several years I felt like I had a connection with the station’s on-camera meteorologists, whose names and faces I still recall easily and with some fondness. In no particular order, some of them were…

The lovely Jill Brown…

The Weather Channel - Jill Brown

Jim Cantore (with hair!)…

The Weather Channel - Jim Cantore

Bruce Edwards…

The Weather Channel - Bruce Edwards

Marny Stanier…

The Weather Channel - Marny Stanier

Bill Keneely…

The Weather Channel - Bill Keneely

Marshall Seese…

The Weather Channel - Marshall Seese

Cheryl Lemke…

The Weather Channel - Cheryl Lemke

Jeff Morrow…

The Weather Channel - Jeff Morrow

Sharon Resultan…

The Weather Channel - Sharon Resultan

Declan Cannon…

The Weather Channel - Declan Cannon

Jeanetta Jones and her rockin’ hair…

The Weather Channel - Jeanetta Jones

Dave Schwartz…

The Weather Channel - Dave Schwartz

Dennis Smith…

The Weather Channel - Dennis Smith

and the king of hurricanes, John Hope (seen here with Charlie Welsh).

The Weather Channel - John Hope & Charlie Smith

But I didn’t watch just for the on-air personalities, no sir. TWC also ran charming little segments on how to fix up and improve things around your home. One that sticks in my memory years later is this one with Marny Stanier, who explains why you should run your ceiling fan all year long.

And here’s Marny shilling for Kraft cheese. Yummy!

Perhaps one of the greatest aspects of TWC for me was the music. The network got somewhat of a bad reputation as a clearinghouse for bad smooth jazz and cheesy canned jingles — usually included as part of their local forecasts that I watched thousands of times — but that’s unfair. If they gave me absolutely nothing else, the Weather Channel was responsible for introducing me to one of my favorite all-time songs — “Last Train Home” by the Pat Metheny Group — in one of their Travel Forecast segments.

During the late 1990s, as I flamed out of my college meteorology program and my passion for weather died down, so too did my interest in the Weather Channel. Not helping things was how the network got slicker and slicker over the years, and began to stray further from its core mission. The death knell for me and many other fans was when the channel was acquired by NBC in 2008. To watch the station now is to see it bear precious little resemblance to the charming, calming signpost it represented on the dial 20+ years ago.

Luckily, we longtime fans are not without anything to remember the good days by. Sites like TWC Classics or YouTube’s wxretro, hookecho80, and theweatherchazz channels have hours upon hours of great footage from the days when the Weather Channel aimed to inform and educate rather than entertain and titillate.

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Terms of Endearment promo photo

Pop Culture Capsule — January 1-7, 1984

Terms of Endearment promo photo

It’s a brand new year, so what better time to look to the past, right? Well anyway, I’m going to do it and I hope you’ll join me for yet another pop culture capsule.

To start off this year’s capsules, I’m taking us back 30 years and putting us knee-deep in the 1980s. By this point in American popular culture, the last vestiges of the ’70s have been shed and we’re smack dab in the middle of the Reagan Era.

For those of you on Spotify, a lot of the tunes listed here are included on some of my Ultimate ’80s Hit Collection playlists. Specifically, the ones for 1983 and 1984.

Top 10 Movies

1. Terms of Endearment ($11.5 million)
2. Sudden Impact ($9.6 million)
3. Scarface ($5.6 million)
4. Yentl ($5.5 million)
5. Uncommon Valor ($5.2 million)
6. Two of a Kind ($5 million)
7. The Rescuers ($4.2 million)
8. Silkwood ($3.8 million)
9. Christine ($3 million)
10. D.C. Cab ($3 million)

Top 10 TV Shows

(Note: Most shows were not airing new episodes the first week of January, so these rankings are from the week of January 8.)

1. Something About Amelia [TV movie] (31.6)
2. 60 Minutes (26.6)
3. Dynasty (25.7)
4. The A-Team (25.3)
5. TV’s Bloopers, Commercials and Practical Jokes (25.0)
6. Dallas (24.2)
7. Simon & Simon (24.1)
8. Hotel (23.0)
9. Falcon Crest (21.5)
10. Magnum, P.I. (21.5)

Top 10 Albums

1. Michael Jackson, Thriller
2. Lionel Richie, Can’t Slow Down
3. Linda Ronstadt, What’s New
4. The Police, Synchronicity
5. Quiet Riot, Metal Health
6. Yes, 90125
7. Culture Club, Colour by Numbers
8. Billy Joel, An Innocent Man
9. Barbra Streisand, Yentl
10. Daryl Hall & John Oates, Rock ‘n Soul Part 1

Top 10 Singles

Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson, "Say Say Say"1. Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson, “Say Say Say”
2. Daryl Hall & John Oates, “Say It Isn’t So”
3. Duran Duran, “Union of the Snake”
4. Yes, “Owner of a Lonely Heart”
5. Olivia Newton-John, “Twist of Fate”
6. The Romantics, “Talking in Your Sleep”
7. Matthew Wilder, “Break My Stride”
8. Elton John, “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues”
9. The Rolling Stones, “Undercover of the Night”
10. Lionel Richie, “All Night Long (All Night)”

The New York Times Best-Selling Fiction Books

1. James A. Michener, Poland
2. Stephen King, Pet Sematary
3. Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose
4. Bill Adler & Thomas Chastain, Who Killed the Robins Family?
5. Mary Stewart, The Wicked Day
6. Isaac Asimov, The Robots of Dawn
7. Danielle Steel, Changes
8. Anne McCaffrey, Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern
9. Bette Midler, The Saga of Baby Divine
10. Joan D. Vinge (adap.), Return of the Jedi

The New York Times Best-Selling Non-Fiction Books

1. Erma Bombeck, Motherhood: The Second Oldest Profession
2. The Best of James Herriot
3. Thomas J. Peters and Robert H. Waterman, Jr., In Search of Excellence
4. Art Buchwald, While Reagan Slept
5. Ken Follett, On the Wings of Eagles
6. John Naisbitt, Megatrends
7. Stanley Karnow, Vietnam: A History
8. Robert H. Schuller, Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do!
9. Jonathan Miller, The Human Body
10. William Manchester, One Brief Shining Moment

Halloween III Lobby Card (1982)

Here’s a Set of Neat Halloween III: Season of the Witch Lobby Cards

When Halloween III: Season of the Witch was released in October 1982, fans of the horror series were no doubt surprised at the total lack of Michael Myers. That and anything resembling a good story. But all you needed to do was look at any of these lobby cards for the film to know that this would be very much unlike the first two Halloween flicks.

Halloween III Lobby Card (1982)

Halloween III Lobby Card (1982)

Halloween III Lobby Card (1982)

Halloween III Lobby Card (1982)

Halloween III Lobby Card (1982)

Halloween III Lobby Card (1982)

Halloween III Lobby Card (1982)

Halloween III Lobby Card (1982)

Turns out that masks, old men, and dudes in business suits aren’t the crucial ingredients for a classic horror movie. Who knew? Still, that Silver Shamrock tune is so very catchy.