Weekend Reading 01/30/21

Here are some nostalgia filled articles for you to enjoy this weekend!

“Challenger, go at throttle up”; The 35th Anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster (via The Retro Network)

How Folsom Prison Changed Johnny Cash’s Career Forever (via Do You Remember)

From Tetris to Super Mario Brothers: 5 Classic Games of the ’80s (via Rediscover the 80s)

13 Super Facts About Superman II (via Mental Floss)

10 Masked Wrestlers Whose Identities Were Quite Obvious (Pro Wrestling Stories)

The History of Pizza Hut’s Bigfoot Pizza (via Retroist)

The 80th Anniversary of Captain America (via Shroud of Thoughts)

LJN Dune Catalog From 1984 (via Plaid Stallions)

West YEAR Ever: Pop Culture in Review – 2020 (via William Bruce West)

8 Favorite Foods That First Appeared in 1981 (via Decades)

Five of My Favorite Hot Wheels Toys

I’ve been feeling pretty nostalgic for Hot Wheels lately, so I feel like running down some of my favorite Hot Wheels toys in this edition of Retro Ramblings. Indulge me if you will.

There have been plenty of cool Hot Wheels toys that have come along in recent years, but my list is looking at Hot Wheels toys from the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s.  I’m not including any individual cars this time out, because I hope to do a deep dive on those in the near future. 

Sto & Go Playsets

Hot Wheels made their own play sets for a while called Sto and Go.  You can’t see it in this picture, but these things folded up and made their own carrying case, hence the name Sto and Go.  They made several versions of this play set, but the city one was probably my favorite. There was one at my grandmother’s house, and it became the main street area from The Dukes of Hazzard as we played with the Ertl cars based on the show..  I had a lot of various construction-themed vehicles and the construction zone Sto and Go was a great addition to those cars.

Master Caster Car Maker

The Master Caster was such a cool idea.  It was a Hot Wheels car factory, that allowed you to make your own Hot Wheels cars out of wax!  You could get colored wax bars to use in it, or you could just take the paper off some crayons and dump them in.  That gave you the ability to create some cars with really custom colors.  There were several molds you could use, and it came with wheel and axle sets to use.  It would heat the wax, and with a turn of the handle, you could pour the melted wax into the mold to make the car.  It was quite the next-level toy for Hot Wheels-loving kids.  I never actually owned it, but my brother did, so I got to make a few cars of my own. 

Snake Mountain Challenge

As a lover of all things He-Man, this Hot Wheels playset was awesome!  I got it for Christmas in 1986 and spent a while that Christmas day with my dad and brother trying to “escape” Snake Mountain.  The playset itself was really cool, but the exclusive Masters of the Universe car that came with it took the cake. 

Color Racers

Cars that change color will always be cooler than cars that don’t.  These color racers were like getting two cars instead of one.  All you had to do was dip them in some water, and they would completely change colors!  It was such an awesome gimmick.  The pack of cars on the left in the photo is one of the sets I had.  They all changed really well, and the last time I pulled out the jeep last year, it still changed colors. 


Before these Crack-Ups came along, I would create “crashed” cars by taking a hammer to them.  The problem with that method was that there was no way to undo the damage when you were done playing.  Then Crack-Ups came along and you could wreck the cars, and they would show damage.  Then when you were done, you could easily undo the damage and have pristine-looking cars once again. 

So there are five of my favorite Hot Wheels toys from when I was a kid. As I said at the top, I hope to get to talking about my favorite individual cars in the near future.

Del Monte Pudding in a Can

You know how sometimes you find yourself sitting around doing whatever, and a random thought just pops into your head about some fast food item, or one of your favorite home-cooked dishes?  And then right behind it comes the hunger pain, and then you walk around with this craving laying heavy on you until you make the run to that fast food place, or whip up that dish that’s been on your mind, and quench that craving. 

Well, that’s what every waking moment of my life is like.  But I get no relief from those cravings, ’cause the food that I crave doesn’t exist anymore in most cases.  I continually carry the burden of a thirst that can’t be quenched.  I’m like those cursed pirates in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. 

I can’t satisfy those cravings because what I crave just can’t be found.  I’m talking about all those awesome fast food items, chips, candies, snacks, and drinks from years gone by, and they’re always on my mind and driving me crazy!  And I don’t know if it helps, or just makes the cravings worse to talk about them, but I’m going to do it anyway.  And today, I’m talking about one of my most missed foods…Del Monte pudding…in a can!

Kids who came along in the early ’90s and later can have their Hunt’s Snack Packs, or their Swiss Miss from the dairy aisle. For me, the king of the hill when it came to pre-packaged pudding was Del Monte’s Chocolate Pudding in the can. Not a plastic cup, but in the little metal can! Scientists can conduct all the experiments they want to determine what effects tin and plastic packaging have on the taste of packaged food, but I can save them a little time and sum it for them in one sentence. It just tasted better out of the can! Period. End of story.

Of course, fond memories, nostalgia, and many, many years of time can mislead the brain when it comes to reality. Maybe it wasn’t the metal can that made it taste better. It could have been the fact that I would get this fantastic little treat when visiting my grandmother. She always kept a large supply on hand, because she had 16 grandchildren, and every one of us were fans of these little cans of chocolate heaven. More times than I can even start to remember, my cousins and I would sit on her front porch indulging in the magic of those little cans of pudding while talking about important subjects of the day like He-Man, Transformers, and the latest issue of Batman.

When I was sick and out of school, that meant a day at Grandma’s to recuperate. And on those days, you were treated to not one, but TWO cans of Del Monte Chocolate pudding. One with lunch, and an extra one “just because” later in the afternoon. You pair those cans of pudding with some Tropicana orange juice out of its glass bottle, and a can of Chicken Noodle soup, you had a remedy for sickness better than anything a doctor could prescribe.

Nowadays, you can always run to the store to pick up a 4-pack of pudding in cheap plastic cups, but you’ll not find that incredible taste that you could enjoy when you popped a top on a can of Del Monte back in the day.

    Weekend Reading 01/24/21

    Here are some fun, nostalgia-filled articles to get you through the weekend!

    Cullen and Welker: Beyond Transformers (via The Retro Network)

    How Bewitched and Batman Saved ABC in the ’60s (via Shroud of Thoughts)

    Why The Breakfast Club Was More Than Just Another Teen Movie (via Click Americana)

    Advertising Then and Now: How 80s Commercials Differ From Today (via Rediscover the 80s)

    Opening Superman #75 (via 20 Years Before 2000)

    Wax Pack Flashback: Dick Tracy Cards (1990)

    Here’s another rerun episode of the Wax Pack Flashback show I do for The Retro Network YouTube Channel. It’s where I open old packs of trading cards and let you watch along and relive the excitement of thumbing through the pack.

    In this episode, I opened a pack of Dick Tracy cards from 1990. These cards were based on the blockbuster movie of that year and are made up of scenes from the movie. It was full of colorful, over-the-top characters, so it translated really well to a series of trading cards. You can watch the episode below, and if it tickles your fancy, you can check out the Wax Pack Flashback playlist on the TRN YouTube channel. There are over 50 episodes there currently, with more new episodes coming soon. Enjoy!