M.U.S.C.L.E. Men Wrestling Toys

M.U.S.C.L.E. Men started out as a manga comic in the late seventies in Japan called Kinnikuman. It proved to be so popular, that an anime series of it was adapted and ran from 1983 – 1986, and focused around an intergalactic form of professional wrestling. Toy company Bandai quickly started producing the little two-inch figures as the show’s popularity soared. And like so many other things, when it became popular there, toy companies in the United States took notice, and Mattel launched its own line of the little pink warriors. Since the name Kinnikuman translates to “Muscle Man”, Mattel named the line M.U.S.C.L.E., as an acronym that stood for “Millions of Unusual Creatures Lurking Everywhere”. M.U.S.C.L.E. Men were produced from late 1985 – 1988 before finally fading from store shelves. Although their popularity was short-lived, it was impressive, as M.U.S.C.L.E. was listed as one of the 10 Best Selling Toys of 1986.

The little pink M.U.S.C.L.E. warriors were not really posable in any way, and were so small that you couldn’t really do much with them. But the fact that they came in multi-packs, and that they were marketed as “wrestlers” was enough to hook me initially. It was intriguing to see who would win in a fight between someone with a motorcycle for a body or a human with a ripped body and the head of a wild boar. Of course, who won that battle was up to the kid in control of the action. That is, until the Hard Knockin’ Rockin’ Ring Wrestling Arena came on the market.

It was a small yellowish-orange contraption with glorified rubber bands for ring ropes, and a plastic arm that held the two combatants. You and a friend would do battle by moving your wrestler side to side, Rock ’em Sock’em Robot style, in an attempt to knock your opponent off if his plastic control arm. If you did, you were the winner. The key was to find one whose body was slightly too big to fit in the controller, and then force him into it anyway. He would then be almost impossible to beat. My best friend and I would play this for a while, and each match, we would select a combatant. The winner would win the losing figure from its owner. Both his and my collection of these increased and decreased, depending on who had the better day of competition.

 

The big drawing point for me was two-fold. First, their small size made them easily transportable. It was quite easy to stuff several in each pocket and head off somewhere and take the action with me. The second part was the cheapness of the toys. For a kid with a light allowance, being able to pick up multiple little M.U.S.C.L.E. warriors in one package was quite the draw. They were typically available in cardboard and plastic pack of four figures for around $1. Then there was the clear trash can stuffed with 10 mighty M.U.S.C.L.E. Men for the low price of $3. So as you can see, a kid could grow their collection quickly with minimum allowance spent.

 

Music Monday – Week of March 12th

 

Music Monday

 

US Top 40 Singles for the Week Ending March 12, 1983

Michael Jackson still owns the top spot. In fact, the top five songs remain unchanged this week. “Der Kommissar” by After The Fire is steadily climbing the charts. Interestingly, late in 1982, after touring as the opening act for Van Halen, After The Fire announced that they were splitting up. However, they had already recorded an English language cover of Falco’s “Der Kommissar” (a song that really went nowhere for Falco just a year before). Early in 1983 it’ll peak at #5 but success happens a little too late for ATF. Also of note, Laura Branigan recorded a song, in 1983, titled “Deep In The Dark” that is written over the melody and hook of “Der Kommissar”. Look it up and give it a listen. It LITERALLY sounds like “Der Kommissar”.

Retro Round Table: Foods We Miss

It’s time once again for another Retro Round Table!  This time, we’re talking about our most missed foods from day’s gone by.  There have been a lot of fast food choices and snacks that have come and gone over the years, and we are all nostalgic about one or more of them.  I write all the time about foods I miss, and could do an entire list by myself.  But there’s more than just me in this world that miss these great old snacks, so once again I invited some friend to share their memories too.  I’m joined today as usual by Hoju Koolander from the SequelQuest Podcast, Jason Gross from Rediscover the 80’s, Eric Vardeman from Eric V Music, and new to the round table starting this week, we welcome in Spyda-Man from the great retro blog, 20 Years Before 2000!  Let’s get to it and see what we miss!


Crunch Tators

The retro food I miss most has to be Crunch Tators by Frito Lays. They were hot and spicy potato chips with a really hard crunch and were available in the late 80’s and early 90’s. There was an alligator on the front of the bag for some odd reason that I could never figure out and they came in two flavors: “Hoppin’ Jalapeno” and “Mighty Mesquite BBQ”. They remind me of my freshman and sophomore years of college. Ate ’em all the time.
Incidentally, A bag of the “Mighty Mesquite BBQ” flavor chips can be seen in Home Alone (probably my all time favorite Christmas movie) in the scene where Kevin is watching Angels with Filthy Souls and eating a rather large ice cream sundae.
– Eric Vardeman
Give Eric a follow on Twitter at @Eric_Vardeman, and you can find his retro memories right here on Retro Ramblings!  His new weekly feature here on Retro Ramblings, Music Mondays, is awesome too.  He looks back at the songs gracing the Top 40 list from 35 years ago in 1983!  He’s also a talented singer/songwriter, and you should check out his music at EricVMusic

McJordan Special

Let me set the stage for you…The year was 1992 and The Dream Team was taking the world by storm in Barcelona, the Chicago Bulls were coming off their second consecutive NBA championship and Michael Jordan was the biggest sports figure in the universe! Jordan’s celebrity led to endorsement deals including everything from NIKE to Gatorade to McDonalds! Not one to pass on a cash grab, McDonalds created the McJordan Special burger in his Airness’s honor! This exquisite burger consisted of a quarter pound beef patty, cheese, onions, pickles, bacon and a special BBQ sauce! Jugs of this limited-edition BBQ sauce show up on eBay from time to time, but you’ll have to spend a few grand to grab one. Why did I choose this particular burger? Because in the summer of ’92 my family vacationed in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  We drove from Jersey to NC and along the way we stopped at numerous McDonalds restaurants not only to get a taste of the limited edition McJordan Special, but to collect the Dream Team collectors cups you would get with every meal order! We ended up collecting the whole set and I still drink from them every now and then and when I do it reminds me of the tangy, bacony goodness that was born in the early 90s to capitalize off the greatest basketball player of all-time, Mr. Michael Jeffrey Jordan!

– Spyda-Man

You can check out Spyda-Man’s retro home on the web at 20 Years Before 2000.  You can also follow him on twitter @20_Years_Before.


Slice

Since we’ve had several drinks resurrected in the past two years, I’m longing for another soda I remember from my childhood, Slice. Technically, Pepsi has only discontinued Slice in the past decade after a failed attempt in diet soda market. Of course, Sierra Mist and even Tropicana has taken over Slice flavors from PepsiCo over the years but we’ve never seen the full line of flavors I remember in the ’80s.

With successful comebacks of Ecto Cooler, New York Seltzer, Jolt Cola, Surge, and Crystal Pepsi over the last couple years, now is the time for a Slice revival. Give us some of the traditional flavors like Apple Slice, Mandarin Orange Slice, Pineapple Slice, Fruit Punch Slice. If you need to add more than 10% juice it had back in the day to satisfy the health nuts, that’s fine. But if we get the Slice back, please give me the commercials with fruit being launched into streams of water.

– Jason Gross

Jason is the creative force behind Rediscover the 80’s and is always posting some of the best retro content you’ll find anywhere on the web.  His twitter feed is a heavenly slice of the 80’s, so you should give him a follow there at @rd80s.  He and I collaborated last year to compile out list of our ten favorite episodes of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero.  Check out his five here, and then give my five favorites a look too!


Fruit Swirl Bars

While many of my favorite childhood flavors like the spicy crunch of Keebler’s Pizzarias have been lost to the ages, there is one combination of fruit flavor and texture that I miss above all others. Coming out of the fruit roll-up craze of the mid-80’s that gave us bizarre variations like Pudding Roll-Ups, Fruit Swirl Bars by Fruit Corners were a delicious anomaly that I’ll never forget. Imagine a lab experiment gone horribly wrong as a mad food scientist tried to combine the dimensions of a granola bar with the sticky sweetness of fruit roll-ups, then dropped a few yogurt covered Sunkist Fun Fruits Creme Supremes into the mix. The results were a deliciously gooey monstrosity that could barely hold it’s form, yet terrorized our tongues in the very best way with a burst of tangy fruit flavor that was mellowed out by the stripes of vanilla cream running throughout. For the short time they were available, these were my go-to pre-school lunch treat and I can’t believe there has never been an off-brand revival of the recipe available at questionable gas stations nationwide. I recently found a commercial for Fruit Swirl Bars on one of my old Saturday Morning VHS tapes so you can enjoy the celebration of this delicious snack in live action here

– Hoju Koolander

You can follow along with all of Hoju’s retro shenanigans on his twitter feed, @hojukoolander, read a lot of his his fine writing on a variety of retro topics at Retro-Daze, keep up with him at PopGeeks, and listen to his awesomely fun pod cast at SequelQuest Podcast where he and his cohorts craft sequels that we never got to movies that we loved!  Be sure to check out his latest piece over at Retro-Daze, Retro Magazine Round-Up: Black Belt! 


Russet Valley Potato Chips

Man I miss a lot of old foods.  Most of the foods I miss don’t really pertain to the taste as much and the nostalgic memories surrounding them.  I could name any number of items as my choice, but for today, I’m really missing the old Eagle Snacks Russet Valley Potato Chips.  Way back in 1979, Anheuser-Busch launched a line of salty snacks to go along with the beer called Eagle Snacks.  One of the snacks they rolled out with was Russet Valley Potato Chips.  They were a kettle cooked chip, and used russet potatoes instead of the more traditional new white potatoes for making their chips.  This gave the chips a distinctive dark color and an amazing taste.

I still remember the first time I ever tried them.  My brother brought home a large metal can adorned with the Anheuser-Busch logo, and inside were two bags of these glorious chips.  From the first one I out in my mouth, I was hooked.  We ate so many bags of those chips in the late 80’s that I started growing potato eyes all over my body.  Sadly, they went away in the early 90’s.  It was years before I found a substitute.  Now while not quite as good as the Russet Valley chips, Cape Cod brand makes a dark russet potato chip that is pretty dang swank.

– Retro Rambler

Of course you can follow along with me here on Retro Ramblings, but you can follow me on twitter @yesterdayville, and like my Facebook page.


Well that does it for our opinions on the matter.  But what about YOU?  What old food or snack do you miss?  Join in on the conversation by leaving your opinion in the comments section below.

M.A.S.K. Insert From 1986

M.A.S.K.

Earlier this week I was thumbing through some 80’s comics books looking at the classic ads when I came across this absolute gem.  At first I thought it was just a short comic story insert featuring M.A.S.K., but then I found that immediately following the short, four page comic, was a few pages of M.A.S.K. merchandise!  As soon as I saw it, I knew I wasn’t the only one who would be interested in all this cool stuff, so here in it’s complete glory is the complete 12-page insert!  And probably the coolest, yet weirdest, part about all this is the fact they were giving away an actual Chevy Camaro.  When you think that the majority…the VAST majority…of people who would see this were kids, it makes the giveaway kind of a head scratcher.  But anyway, don’t let that ruin your fun!  Enjoy looking through this awesome insert from 1986.

MASK

M.A.S.K.

Continue reading “M.A.S.K. Insert From 1986”

Forgotten Food: Oatmeal Swirlers

Oatmeal Swirlers

I was very fortunate that my Mom didn’t work when I was growing up. My Dad made a good living and she was able to stay at home and raise us kids for the most part. At two different points, she took jobs and only worked for 6 weeks at each, so for 99% of my childhood, she was always home. This meant that every morning before school, she was up early and making home cooked breakfast for the family. Most days that consisted of eggs and toast, or biscuits and gravy, and sometimes her home cooked oatmeal.

On the rare occasion when she or one of us had something going on early, she would turn to something quick like frozen pancakes or waffles or cereal. My favorite of the quick breakfast options however was instant oatmeal. I loved Quaker Maple Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal. It was a staple of my breakfast diet then, and it still is now. No other instant oatmeal could touch it in my eyes. That is until I first saw a commercial for General Mills’ Oatmeal Swirlers.

Oatmeal Swirlers

It was instant oatmeal that came with a squeeze pack of what I guess would be best described as jelly. You could squeeze out smiley faces, or words, or even play tic tac toe with the pack. It was awesome. When this stuff hit the market it took instant oatmeal to a whole new level.

While I don’t even faintly remember how it tasted, I do remember how much fun breakfast was on those mornings. I can remember almost being excited going to bed on those nights when I knew that Oatmeal Swirlers was going to be for breakfast the next day. Sadly, like so many other favorite foods of my youth, this one bit the dust far too early. For a long time after it vanished from the shelves, I missed it terribly. Time went on and other breakfast novelties came along to take its place, but it certainly left its mark on me as to this day I wish I could pick up another box of this stuff and share it with my kids.

 

 

 

 

 

I Miss Fat Pro Wrestlers

I miss the gold old days of pro wrestling. I miss when guys like Dusty Rhodes were at the top of the sport. The bygone era when guys who didn’t look like your typical star could still get a chance to shine. Guys like Terry Gordy, Big Bubba Rogers, “Playboy” Buddy Rose, and numerous others were on top because they were the best at what they did. Days when having a great muscled up physique didn’t automatically make you a star. In short, I miss fat pro wrestlers.

Back in the days when wrestlers earned their checks by how many tickets they sold, the emphasis wasn’t so much on looks. It was a combination of their actual skill in the ring, along with their charisma out of it. If they could use their words to rile the fans up to the point that they would buy a ticket to see him get his butt kicked, that was enough. If he was good enough in the ring to make the fans believe what they were seeing, that was enough. Looks were just a bonus. Some of my favorite wrestlers would never be offered a cover spot on a men’s magazine, but they sure could make you believe they would whip whoever DID appear on the cover.

Terry Gordy

I use the term “fat wrestlers” loosely here. I’m not just talking about fat guys, I’m talking about guys who just don’t fit the “fitness” profile that you see with most guys in the ring today. Guys like Arn Anderson may not have gotten a chance in today’s wrestling world because he was not muscled up, and didn’t have six pack abs, but he could talk, he could express emotion, and he knew how to tie guys up in a pretzel to get his point across.

You turn on WWE programming today, and you’re sure to find plenty of guys that are ripped and look like they’ve stepped straight off the pages of Muscle and Fitness. What you won’t find however, are guys wrestling who look like you’re dad, or the tough guy down the street who works on cars.

The loss of the average looking, but tough son of a gun, in favor of hiring muscle bound freaks who sometimes have trouble with the basic concepts of wrestling, has hurt the suspension of disbelief of wrestling to a degree. I want to see a guy who looks like my uncle fighting a guy who looks like your uncle.

A lot of the best wrestlers to ever come along were great examples of what I’m talking about. Mick Foley never looked too imposing physically, but because he knew how to connect with the fans through his interview style, and his brutal style in the ring, you always knew he was a threat. He didn’t have to rely on being muscled up with baby oil dripping off of him to become a star.

Phil Hickerson

Take Phil Hickerson as an example. Phil spent a lot of his career wrestling in the Memphis area. While he certainly didn’t look like a star by today’s standards, he was one tough son of a gun and you had no problem believing what he did was real. Below is a  video to help get my point across, and if you’ve never seen much of these guys I’ve mentioned, I urge you to search out footage of them and see just how some of these less than stellar looking athletes were some of the better workers in the business.