Saturday, January 13, 2018

Gaming Ads: GT Interactive Software

GT Interactive Software was founded in 1993 as a division of GoodTimes Home Video. If you played computer games in the '90s you've likely encountered GT Interactive as it was involved in the publishing or distribution of many high profile series. The original Doom from id Software was GT's first game product as it was the distributor of the shareware title. It also published and/or distributed a number of games from 3D Realms (Duke Nukem), Epic Games (Unreal), Midway (Mortal Kombat) and Oddworld Inhabitants (Oddworld series) among others. In 1996 GT Interactive acquired both WizardWorks, a publisher that specialized in value priced software (Deer Hunter), and Humongous Entertainment, a publisher and developer of educational games for children (Pajama Sam, Spy Fox). It also began expanding into Europe in 1996 and continued to make acquisitions for a few years.

In 1999 GT Interactive posted its first quarterly losses due to restructuring and lower game sales, and debt began to mount. That year Infogrames S.A. purchased 70% of the company and renamed it Infogrames, Inc. Infogrames had also acquired the Atari name and in 2003 changed Infogrames, Inc. to Atari, Inc., and in 2008 took full control of the company formerly known as GT Interactive. Some of this overlaps with the previous Atari ads post and will likely come up again when I get to Hasbro Interactive and Infogrames.

Flickr album: GT Interactive Software

Sunday, January 7, 2018

[YouTube] Star Wars Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments: The Prequel Trilogy

https://youtu.be/qUZxg8-rqUg

The original trilogy tree with a 1981
Yoda hand puppet on top.
On December 24th I had a blog post about 14 ornaments for the first three Star Wars movies with a video showcasing the ones that light up and/or have sound. This post features eight that are based on the prequel trilogy with two that have light and/or sound. Like Boba Fett, Darth Maul cannot stand on his own so his photos vary slightly. Also, like the Ewoks of the original trilogy, the Jedi Council ornaments are miniatures. Are you wondering why this post is appearing on January 7th? I don't plan on talking religion (or politics) on this blog but I do try to tie some posts into current events and although I cannot keep track and post something for every holiday around the world, January 7th is Orthodox Christmas.

Technically this is my Christmas though as a kid I celebrated on both days. The 25th is my mother's Christmas and being in the U.S.A. that's also when schools have the long holiday break so that was generally our big celebration. If January 7th didn't fall on a weekend as it does this year then it made the day a little challenging since I'd have to attend school during the day, then church and celebrate with my father's family in the evening, while also trying to get my homework done and be ready for school the next day. It didn't help that the church we attended was close to an hour drive away after my family moved when I was in the 3rd grade. Of course, no kid is going complain about having two Christmas'.

Queen Amidala (1999)

 

Naboo Starfighter (1999)

 

 


Qui-Gon Jinn (2000)

 

Darth Maul (2000)

 

Darth Maul's face is very detailed.

Jedi Council (2000)

 

Gungan Submarine (2000)

 

 

 

The Gungan sub plugs into a strand of lights that
light up the bottom (see above), front, and...
...back.


Naboo Royal Starship (2001)

 

 




Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi (2006)

 

This lightsaber duel on Mustafar is powered by three
1.5V button-cell batteries. It lights up and features
sound effects and dialog from Revenge of the Sith.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Gaming Ads: GoldStar and Greer & Associates

Founded in 1958 in South Korea, GoldStar changed its name to LG in 1995 and is still in business today making a variety of electronics and appliances. In the gaming industry GoldStar was one of the companies that manufactured 3DO game consoles. The 3DO Company designed the console but didn't produce it, instead it licensed the platform to others such as Panasonic and GoldStar. One of the three ads I currently have displays both the GoldStar and LG names as the company name change took place the year after GoldStar began making the 3DO.

Greer & Associates was based in California and made at least one game accessory. It's likely Greer didn't do too much else as I cannot locate any information on the company and it's certainly not the insurance company in Texas that shares the same name. All four of the ads I've got are for the same product which is a light device for the original Game Boy called The Illuminator.

Flickr album: GoldStar
Flickr album: Greer & Associates

Monday, January 1, 2018

2017: The Year in Review

Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of Vault 1541! Looking back I'd say the blog posts went well but the YouTube videos had ups and downs as I struggled with audio. I didn't miss a single ads posts as there was one every Saturday morning as promised. However, a few times I didn't realize the images on Flickr were set to private so I did mess that up just a bit. For YouTube I've had a hard time making them interesting enough to gain much traction. Most are likely too long as well, though two videos have found some success: the very first one I made which is about Starting Lineup Talking Baseball and the unboxing of Sonic Mania. I'd guess someone probably linked to the baseball video recently as that took off a few months ago.

Starting Lineup Talking Baseball

My biggest disappointment is that so many of my old electronics are breaking or already broken after having been boxed for many, many years. The Sega CD won't power on, the Sega Game Gear has no sound, Omega Supreme won't walk, a number of Star Wars vehicles won't make sounds, the Jawa Sandcrawler remote doesn't do anything, Coleco's Electronic Learning Machine doesn't work, and yesterday my Commodore 64 broke, perhaps the worse thing that could have broken. I was still able to complete the "Let's Play" video I was making as it cut out near the end but that made me feel so down and still does. I've struggled in my attempts to fix anything and I'll likely have to find an expert to do repairs. There were a few C64 game videos planned to tie into events, such as the Winter Olympics, over the next month or so but those are now in jeopardy.

With the amount of time I spent on the blog last year I had far less time for video games and thus only completed 18 games which is a small number for myself. A few of the games were not released in 2017 either so I really didn't play enough games to say what was the best of the year but I can list my favorites:

  1. Yakuza 0
  2. Horizon: Zero Dawn
  3. Assassin's Creed Origins
  4. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
  5. Mass Effect: Andromeda
  6. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
  7. Sniper Elite 4
  8. Star Wars: Battlefront II

Eight is the best I can do and some of those aren't even that well made. Star Wars is only here because I wanted to play anything Star Wars; I didn't touch multiplayer and although the single-player's story needs more work, at least I got to play Star Wars. I keep hearing 2017 was a great year for games and that it will be hard to top in 2018 -- I cannot say I agree with that statement. Perhaps I played the wrong games as Nier: Automata is among everyone's favorites but after an hour I had to turn it off. It must get a lot better, it has to if so many people love it. However, that first hour is simply awful: gameplay is boring and repetitive, dialog is laughable and terribly acted, and it's not pleasant to look at either. I really don't like to be negative and do try to find the positive in games, and like I said, I only played a hour. That being said, I think it's safe to say the worst game of the year is Road Rage which has no business being at retail ($29.99) -- it's a $10 digital game at best but it's really bad, avoid it. Nintendo's Zelda and Mario titles are the other two big games of the year for many. If you've followed the blog you'll know I grew up on Sega and never got into Nintendo games, and I've yet to try a Switch so I cannot comment on those games. 

Horizon: Zero Dawn screenshot.

Since most of the games on my list are rated "M" by the ESRB and I like to keep the blog family focused my top recommendation is Horizon: Zero Dawn (rated "T"). It's an open world game set in a future after humanity screwed up and nearly wiped themselves out. Animal-like robots roam the world as pockets of human civilizations, most resembling Native American settlements, struggle to survive and learn about the technology that surrounds them. The game has a likable protagonist (voiced by Ashly Burch), is well written, perfectly acted, and is set in an interesting world, even if it doesn't have a lot of variety. It also has Fringe's Broyles (Lance Reddick) in it! I loved Fringe, it is a great sci-fi TV show; by the way, in 2016 Reddick starred in another game, Quantum Break. A complete edition of Horizon was released at retail last month that includes an expansion and I highly recommend it (MSRP is $49.99).

Horizon: Zero Dawn has a photo mode! This was taken in The
Frozen Wilds expansion that is in the complete edition.

Looking ahead I'll continue doing the same things and try to improve at YouTube videos. I'd certainly like to gain some more followers and I still believe that the old magazine reviews and articles would appeal to many, I just need to find a better way to get the word out there. I was hopeful old commercials would get people's attention at YouTube which has not yet happened though it is still early. I'm not sure how many commercials I'll find as these have come from a few VHS tapes I was able to get my parents to bring to me when they visited a couple months ago. They've got a lot tapes I believe, I just live far away and haven't had a chance to get there to go through them. I did get a few more toy commercials ready yesterday so why not start off the new year by enjoying a commercial for a failed G.I. Joe toyline -- Sgt. Savage and His Screaming Eagles... Happy New Year!

-Jonathan 

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Gaming Ads: GameTek

Founded in 1987, GameTek was based in Florida and, as I mentioned back in the CyberSoft ads post, was a subsidiary of I.J.E. GameTek published a variety of games but is perhaps best known for its titles based on television game shows, such as Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy!, The Price Is Right, and even Double Dare and American Gladiators. I also made a brief mention of GameTek in the Fisher-Price ads post as it distributed a line of Fisher-Price-branded software titles. In 1997 GameTek filed for bankruptcy and it closed in 1998.

Flickr album: GameTek

Sunday, December 24, 2017

[YouTube] Star Wars Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments: The Original Trilogy

It's the holiday season and a new Star Wars movie is out so it's a great time for some Star Wars ornaments! I was planning this as a three-part series with videos that featured every ornament but after recording the first two I decided they were too boring. Instead I'm splitting this into a two part series with the original trilogy now and the prequel trilogy in two weeks. There will be short videos for both that only include the lights and/or sounds ornaments. All of the ornaments are from Hallmark's Keepsake series which typically have nice sculpts and the Star Wars ornaments are no exception. The series began in 1996 with the release of the Millennium Falcon and a pack of three miniatures (AT-AT, TIE Fighter, X-wing) while 1997 saw the release of Luke Skywalker, miniatures of C-3PO & R2-D2, Yoda, and Darth Vader. I've got a few from the first couple of years though most of my ornaments are from 1998 and 1999. Unfortunately, I do not have any Luke (outside of his head in the regular X-wing) or C-3PO who didn't receive a full size ornament until 2003.

https://youtu.be/joo6j3C06bA

Many of the ornaments make great display pieces as well since they'll often stand on their own. Boba Fett is the only one in this group that cannot stand which is why his photos are a little different than the others. Also, any ornament that plugs into a strand of Christmas lights has a wire coming out of it that, depending on where the wire is protruding from, may prevent it from sitting flat on a table. While scale may be difficult to determine in the photos, most are in the 3-5 inch range, though the Ewoks are miniatures which are much smaller than the others.

Millennium Falcon (1996)

 

The Falcon plugs into a strand of lights
to light up the cockpit, top hatch, and...

...the thrusters!


Yoda (1997)

 

Darth Vader (1997)

 

Darth Vader plugs into a strand of lights to light up the yellow
base and his lightsaber, though the saber isn't very bright. He
also speaks a few lines of movie dialog from his duel with
Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back.

Princess Leia (1998)

 

Boba Fett (1998)

 

Boba Fett has a fabric cape.

Ewoks (1998)

 

Star Wars Lunch Box (1998)

 

 

 



X-wing (1998)

 

The X-wing plugs into a strand of lights to light up the engine pods.

Han Solo (1999)

 
Chewbacca (1999)

 

Darth Vader's TIE Fighter (1999)

 

 

The TIE plugs into a strand of lights that light up the cockpit
and laser cannons.















Stormtrooper (2000)

 

Obi-Wan Kenobi (2000)

 

R2-D2 (2001)

 

R2-D2 is powered by two 1.5V button-cell batteries. He makes
his typical astromech droid beeping sounds.