Tag: 90’s

8 Board Games I Love

Board games have long occupied space in closets and on book shelves, and have entertained families of all types and sizes for decades. While growing up, my brother and I spent many days and hours playing games, just like my daughters do today.

I admit, when the original Nintendo came along, I spent far less time with the conventional board game, and shifted most of my focus to video games. Even so, I have so many fond memories attached to board games, so here today I’m taking a trip down memory lane to look at six of my favorite board games from days gone by, and two more recent ones.


Monopoly

Monopoly

When I hear “board game”, Monopoly is the first thing that comes to mind. I would consider it the “Boardwalk” of board games, while all the others are “Vermont Ave” or “St. James Place”.

The current recognized version was first published in 1935 by Parker Brothers. It underwent a major resign in 2008 that saw Mediterranean and Baltic Avenues colors from purple to brown, and GO from red to black. It also changed the Income Tax to a flat $200, and upped Luxury Tax from the original $75 to $100.

When I was a kid, my family would play, but in the beginning, I was too young to be in on the game. When my time finally came, I instantly fell in love with it. I thought I was a big deal when I could barter my way to a “Get Out of Jail Free” card, or buy Oriental Ave. Unfortunately, I didn’t understand back then how the game worked and would usually be quickly put out of the game due to faulty business decisions.

As I grew older, I graduated from playing with family to playing with friends, where the playing field was a little more level. As an adult, my friends and I came up with a set of additional rules that we called “Survival Monopoly”. It threw in things like “everyone moves one chair to the left”, meaning that you now owned all of your neighbor’s property, and left yours behind to be taken over by someone else.

From the simple color schemes, to the simple rules, playing this board game these days always takes me back to another place in time. A place when I was sitting in front of the fire-place, with my brother and my folks enjoying the evening together. It’s one of the things that brings back some of the strongest feelings of nostalgia within me, and makes me ache to go back. But at the same time, the game helps me stay anchored in the present, as I love to play the game with my daughters. I see in their faces the same joys of playing the game that I have always experienced, and know that I am helping to create in them something that one day they will look back on with similar nostalgic feelings.

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Retro Round Table: Toys We Never Had

Toys We Never Had

It’s time once more for another Retro Round Table.  This time, my fellow Retro Knights have gathered around the table to talk about the cool old toys we always wanted by never had.  I like doing these round table discussions because I love to hear other people’s old memories just as much as I like sharing my own.

I’m joined again this week by Hoju Koolander of the SequelQuest Podcast, Jason Gross of Rediscover the 80’s, Spyda-Man from 20 Years Before 2000, and Eric Vardeman of Eric V Music and Retro Ramblings fame.  So let’s get into the discussion, and when you’re done reading, join the discussion in the comments by telling us what toy YOU always wanted but never had.  Also, if you ever had any of the the toys we mention here, we’d love to hear your thoughts and memories on them.  Let’s go!


X-Men Mutant Hall of Fame

As a kid, I was pretty moderate in my toy purchasing. I’d have a few He-Man figures, a single Visionaries knight and a couple of Food Fighters, but never put all my eggs into one toyline basket. Instead I made friends with “more fortunate” kids who had mountains of action figures and treated their homes as toy libraries. I’d spend an afternoon playing with Dino-Riders, move onto Police Academy figures and then throw a couple of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles into the Sewer playset, it was heaven. Plus, if I waited long enough, I could always find somebody’s old toys at a garage sale cheap. That’s how I got the Real Ghostbusters Firehouse and even some G1 Transformers in the early 90s. As a result, I rarely had that feeling of disappointment that came from not getting any one toy. But if I had to pick one gaping hole in my childhood toy collection it would be the Toy Biz X-Men Mutant Hall of Fame collector’s set. I am fully aware that it was just 10 old figures (several of which I already owned) stuffed into a fancy new box, but the presentation was just so impressive. It gave new perceived value to these characters and I desperately wanted this displayed on my shelf. Sadly, I think the retail price at the time was like 50 bucks and there was no way I was talking my parents into forking over that much dough in a single shopping trip. So I just stared and dreamed. Today I can see it for the exploitative re-packaging trick it was, but at the time Toy Biz dangled a brightly colored molded plastic carrot in my face and I never got a bite.

– 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!  I highly recommend you stop back by here next week, as Hoju’s awesome review of the 80’s mat classic movie, Body Slam, drops as part of our Wrestlemania Week.


Transformers Soundwave

The first toy that popped into my head when this week’s topic was unveiled was Transformers Generation 1 Soundwave! I never owned this toy as a kid, but my neighbor did. I loved playing with it because not only was he a badass, Decepticon robot, but he was also a kickass Cassette Recorder! To a young boy in the 80’s those were 2 great things rolled into one amazing blue and chrome plastic package. I still remember the feel of pushing the eject button to reveal the deadly sidekick cassete robot he hid in his tape deck!  I do have to say that I did own 2 of those cassette tapes. We had Laserbeak and Ravage. They both were pretty awesome, but the lasting memory I have of those guys is when my teacher took Laserbeak away from me because I was playing with him while we were on a class trip to the local library. I was so upset, I could barely learn about the Dewey Decimal system! I still don’t understand it to this very day! Every now and then I find myself scrounging around Ebay looking for a Soundwave in solid condition, but the prices go fairly high on this toy. One of these days I’ll be able to grab one and add it to my collection, just not today.

– 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.


Huffy Bike

Mine isn’t exactly a toy, it’s a bike. Like every other boy in the 80’s, my main mode of transportation was a BMX bike. I rode a Huffy Pro Thunder. Jet black with yellow highlights and bright yellow rims that were made of actual lead. It was as heavy as a full grown grizzly bear and unwieldy as all get out. It had a coaster break (meaning you couldn’t pedal backwards) and no hand brakes. At that time, your bike was a sort of status symbol and Huffy was pretty much the bottom rung on the ladder. One of my best friends had a tricked out Kuwahara that was gorgeous and light but he came from money (whatever that meant in 1982 when I was twelve). A guy across town that I knew had a real life PK Ripper but he actually raced BMX bikes. I knew I’d never have either one of those.

Redline Bike

A little closer to earth and possibly my grasp, however, was the Redline 700. Oh she was gorgeous. As its name might suggest, the paint and rims were highlighted with red and the saddle and tires were red. In my daydreams, mine would also have Oakley III grips and a set of California Lite pads. All red, of course. Anytime we rode anywhere that had BMX magazines, I’d find pictures of it and drool. I actually rode one once at a local bike store. Somehow I talked the guy into letting me take it for a spin. It was light as a feather compare to my Huffy and, for a split second, I thought about riding off to Mexico with it never to be heard from again. Truth be told, it was out of my reach, monetarily, as well but that didn’t stop me from dreaming. I wonder what it was cost to build that bike now?

– 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


USS Flagg

I was pretty lucky as a ‘80s kid (some may say spoiled) to have several iconic toys. I mainly collected action figures and their vehicles/playsets. For instance, I had Castle Grayskull with several Masters of the Universe figures. Likewise, I had the Electronic Cat’s Lair and many Thundercats figures. I (still) have my diecast metal Voltron which I guarded from my friends like it was made of pure gold. I collected M.A.S.K., Rambo, The A-Team, Transformers, and Gobots. If I circled it in the Sears Wishbook, there was a good chance I was gonna see it under the Christmas that year.

Just based on cost and practical purposes (like most kids who lived in a normal size home), the one toy that eluded my collection was the G.I. Joe FLAGG aircraft carrier. I collected several Joes and vehicles like the Skystriker but the FLAGG always seemed out of reach. My childhood home did have a full basement and plenty of space for it but I’m not sure owning it just never seemed probable. This was still in a time when a good deal of playtime was outside so the FLAGG was easier to imagine during our army battles in the woods rather than owning and physically transporting the toy to friend’s houses. So while it would’ve been a dream come true to land my Skystriker on the FLAGG, I likely would’ve preferred as a kid to defend it with my plastic arsenal of weapons in my imagination.

– 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 also hosts a fabulous podcast called, Memory Jogger, that you can find on iTunes and other fine podcasts sites.  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!


Hit Stix

Now while I don’t remember very much about this toy, I DO remember being super pumped when I saw the commercials. The producers did a very good job at making these things sound incredible. Supposedly, you could walk around playing “air drums” but actually produce drum sounds. Pretty cool concept.

They were a combo of fluorescent orange and yellow, a pretty extreme and eye catching color coordination back in the early 90’s. Each stick had a thin cord running from it to a sound box that you wore on a belt. All you had to do was make a striking motion in the air like you would while playing actual drums, and the sticks registered this “hit”, and sent a signal to the sound box that emitted a sound as if you had just rapped a snare drum.

I wanted these things so much. I could lay around and daydream about being the coolest kid in school if I had those things. Walking through the halls, playing a radical solo, with lots of girls following me and talking about how cool I was. Sigh. It just wasn’t meant to be I guess.

– Retro Rambler

As you should probably know, you can find me and my memories right here on Retro Ramblings, but you can also follow me on twitter @yesterdayville, like my Facebook page, and now you can see some cool retro videos over on the official Retro Ramblings YouTube Channel!

Don’t forget to let us know what toy YOU wanted by never had, and if you had any of this cool stuff we just talked about, share your thoughts and memories with us in the comments section below!

 

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Retro Round Table: Favorite TV Shows of the 90’s

90's TV Shows

It’s time once again for another Retro Round Table, and this time, we’re talking about our favorite television shows from the 90’s.  The 90’s was a great decade for fun shows.  It seems to me that there were more good comedies and quirky shows than serious ones, but that’s why we do these round tables…to get more than my own opinion.  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 this week

So let’s get to it, and see what everyone picked as their favorite television show of the 90’s…..


Dana Carvey Show

There is no doubt about it, I watched way too much TV from 1990-1999. Not only did I watch too much TV live, I was recording it on VHS and re-watching these programs over and over again. So much so that at multiple times I burned out the family VCR. Most likely due to TV overload, I pretty much stopped watching network TV once the world survived Y2K and the last 18 years have been a blur. So what was my favorite boob tube experience from the decade where Urkel and Baywatch reigned supreme? Based solely on laughs that have lasted a lifetime, I would have to go with the short-lived prime time kamikaze mission The Dana Carvey Show. After winning our hearts as the nerdy sidekick, Garth in Wayne’s World, Dana Carvey somehow landed a 30 minute sketch comedy show on the ABC network in 1996 that aired after wholesome family sitcom Home Improvement. When I tuned into the cold open sketch where he appeared as President Bill Clinton addressing the nation from the oval office, my mind was blown as Carvey had live puppies suckle from multiple lactating nipples and this shocking bit of comedy instantly gained my loyalty. Each week pushed more boundaries of good taste and it’s no surprise that the show was cancelled after 8 episodes. Since our VCR was broken I had to record the shows on audio cassette, adding my own laugh track as I watched the hilarity unfold in sketches like Oscars Best Foreign Film Award and Nightline with Bob Dole. For years I cherished those tapes until the glorious day when Shout! Factory finally released the entire series on DVD in 2009. Those infamous 8 episodes are the absolute highlight of my 90s TV watching experience and no doubt shaped the warped sense of humor that has my wife rolling her eyes on a daily basis.

– 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: Black Belt! 

Continue reading “Retro Round Table: Favorite TV Shows of the 90’s”

Back When Pizza Hut Was an Experience – The Video!

One of the most popular things I’ve ever done here on Retro Ramblings was my post on how Pizza Hut used to be so awesome called, Back When Pizza Hut Was an Experience.  It has been by far the biggest attention getter, so when I thought about doing a YouTube video for the site, it was only fitting that it would be the first subject I tackled.

Now this video is a little rough around the edges as it’s my first attempt at editing for YouTube. But check it out and try to enjoy me rambling on about what I miss from Pizza Hut back in the day.