Saturday, November 25, 2017

Gaming Ads: Flying Edge

Flying Edge was a publishing division for Acclaim Entertainment from 1991-1994. It was a brand that was only used for Sega's platforms, such as the Genesis and Game Gear. There isn't much else to say about Flying Edge that hasn't already been covered under the Acclaim ads post and the multi-branded Acclaim ads that feature a combination of two of more Acclaim labels, including Acclaim itself, Arena Entertainment, Flying Edge, and LJN. I realized a few of the ads I had in my Flying Edge ads folder are multi-branded, plus I've since scanned a few more of those so I'm going to use this week to also update that Flickr album.

Flickr album: Flying Edge
Flickr album update (six new ads): Acclaim (Multiple Brands)

Friday, November 24, 2017

1991 Electronics Boutique Winter Catalog

This is considered the biggest shopping day of the year so I thought it would be a good day to check out an old holiday catalog for games. I've got a few Electronics Boutique (EB) catalogs and I chose the one from 1991 primarily because it's the smallest one (it doesn't actually have a year on it but based on the games advertised it must be 1991). Some of the other years are actually as big as 70 pages! EB was among my favorite stops when I'd visit a shopping mall in the late '80s and into the '90s. It wasn't a very large store though it had lots of games and some computers. That mall also had a Software Etc. that didn't have prices as good as EB's, and eventually a Babbage's opened that I liked quite a bit too. EB stores do still exist in some locations, such as Canada and Ireland, though in the United States I believe all of the stores were renamed after being acquired by GameStop in 2005.

A few of EB's catalogs have high quality paper but this one is the thin paper and the pages can bleed through during scanning. To reduce that I adjusted the brightness and contrast which affects some colors slightly. The pages with the computer software have an orange border that now look yellow in the scans and page 31 was in rough shape but I fixed it up enough that it looks okay, perhaps not as clean as the others though.
















Insert from the center of the catalog.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

November Update

An ad featuring the Welch's box
shown on Batman Stuff day.
November is close to over and it was a fairly busy month, largely because of the DC Comics week which was a lot of work to put together. That was in relation to the release of the Justice League movie which I haven't seen yet. I'm not a big movie goer, though I do want to see Justice League regardless of what the reviews might say. I'll likely slow down on toy videos for a bit as I need to relax. I'll try to get some gameplay videos up though as I had planned to be doing a lot more of those than I have thus far. This time of year is also when many of the biggest games get released and I have managed to complete Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, Call of Duty: WWII, and Star Wars: Battlefront II. Sequels and first-person shooters are a common theme for gaming most Octobers and Novembers.

If you're old enough to play the M-rated games then I'd definitely choose Wolfenstein II over Call of Duty, though I also suggest playing Wolfenstein: The New Order before playing the sequel. It can lean on the ridiculous side sometimes as far as the story goes but it's a good time. I was expecting Call of Duty's return to World War II to be more engaging. Unfortunately, I found myself bored throughout much of the campaign. It's possible that if you haven't playing many WWII games it will feel more interesting and certainly like something new. However, I've played the original Call of Duty a few times along with the Medal of Honor: Allied Assault and other WWII games so it felt like I was just going through the motions again. Star Wars has been making news since even before it released. Most of the news has been negative due to loot crates and their impact on multiplayer. I understand why micro-transactions exist but in this instance the implementation is terrible because some items inside loot crates make characters more powerful and thus people can pay to get an advantage. That simply makes the game less fun for the majority of players.

Star Wars can be played in first-person or... third-person.

As far as the Battlefront II campaign goes, I like that I got to play a Star Wars game and it looks fantastic. However, the way the game was promoted I thought I'd be experiencing the story from the Imperial side and would see a lot more of what happened between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. I'll try not to spoil anything but I have to say that you only play about a third of the game as an elite stormtrooper. The campaign is around six hours in length I believe, and it could really use a couple more hours on the Imperial side fleshing out the part of the story that goes down in about five minutes. It also doesn't exactly cover the 30 year gap between the two movies. You get to see some set up for The Force Awakens but most of the game takes place in a short span directly after Return of the Jedi. Then there is a brief epilogue that takes place just before The Force Awakens. There are implications in that epilogue that are huge if the game is implying what I think it is. I have a hard time believing such a huge part of the new Star Wars movie trilogy would be revealed in a video game though so maybe nothing will come of it (but it must mean something!). Who knows, we'll just have to wait for The Last Jedi to find out.

TIE Fighter
A bearded Han Solo.

Besides those games I have been playing Assassins' Creed: Origins as well. It seems I mostly play M-rated games, huh? I play any game if I'm interested in the story or the world some of them take place in, and would be fine if the violence was not so extreme sometimes. This Assassin's Creed probably does have more blood than any of the others but I think it would be just as fun if none of the people or animals bled during combat. In any case, this one let's players explore Ancient Egypt and it is a huge world; lots of deserts of course which don't always have much in them. I don't want to go into a full on review so I'll keep this short and just point out that it's more like a role-playing game this time as missions have level suggestions and you really need to stay near them to be able to be successful. Therefore, you have to do a lot of the side quests to level up in order to be able to advance the main story, though the side quests can be better than the story which isn't great.

It hasn't been all violence in video games this month! I've actually been playing some Wheel of Fortune too, and a little Jeopardy! Ubisoft released those games digitally for $19.99 each and at retail in a two-pack for $39.99. Neither features the television hosts and Jeopardy doesn't even have a studio set with contestants as you just stare at the category board and questions the whole game. Wheel of Fortune has a lot more to it as you can unlock customization options for your avatar (Jeopardy has no avatars), the sets, and the prizes that appear on the wheel. I'd say these are closer to $10 games than $20, and perhaps a bit less in Jeopardy's case. I do enjoy playing game show video games, something I've been doing since the Commodore 64 days, and these can be good fun but I suggest waiting for a price drop.

Today is Thanksgiving so Happy Thanksgiving to those of you who celebrate the holiday. I'm not doing much during my four days off but being a big shopping weekend I'm going to see if I can get an old retail flyer or two up (probably just one, scanning takes a while!). I'll toss one of the magazine ad scans from retailers on here, a sneak preview of something that's a long ways off as those will appear on Flickr once I finish all of the other ads.

Software Etc. - December 1992

As always, thanks for checking out Vault 1541 and reading my ramblings!


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Gaming Ads: Fanfare, Firebird Licensees, First Row Software Publishing, and Fisher-Price

There are a lot of publishers this week because I have so few ads for any one of them. I only have one ad for Fanfare, a publishing label for Britannica Software. Fanfare published only a few games between 1989 and 1990 but Britannica is still in business and is best known for its encyclopedias.

British Telecom's Telecomsoft published games in the U.K. under the Firebird Software and Rainbird brands. The publisher's U.S. branch was known as Firebird Licensees and it released close to a dozen games in North America between 1985 and 1988.

First Row Software Publishing was a Pennsylvania-based company that published computer games in the late '80s. It released a couple licensed games based on the classic television programs The Twilight Zone and The Honeymooners. Coincidentally, one of its games, Star Empire (known as Empire! in the U.K.), is from the aforementioned Firebird Software.

Fisher-Price was founded in 1930 by Herman Fisher, Irving Price, Margaret Evans Price, and Helen Schelle. Of course, Fisher-Price is very well known as it has made thousands of toys since its founding and continues to do so today, primarily for young children. Its early games and toys were made of steel and wood, and the use of plastic in its toys began in the '50s. In the late '80s the company released educational computer software for children with distribution handled by GameTek.

Flickr album: Fanfare
Flickr album: Firebird Licensees
Flickr album: First Row Software Publishing
Flickr album: Fisher-Price

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Electronic Learning Machine

The Electronic Learning Machine from Coleco is an educational toy designed for kids aged 5-9 that was released in 1981. While the box calls it a computer, it's not quite one as there is no monitor, though it is designed to look like one and there is an 18-button keyboard. It requires four "C" batteries that power an internal motherboard to process the button presses, operate lights, and produce sounds via a speaker on the base of the toy. Users can interact with the keyboard to answer a variety of questions that appear on cards that slide in and out of the top of the device. Each card indicates which keyboard layout is required; there are keyboard overlays that change the function of the buttons to match the type of card being played.

Cards can be one of many subjects, including math, reading, spelling, music, and science. The cards are all 5 x 6.5 inches, made of plastic, double-sided, and have either red or blue headers. Holes are cut in every card that, along with the part that holds cards, informs the toy what card is active. As you can see in the photo below the part that holds the cards and sits on the back of the device can be detached; it plugs into a slot facing in either direction, with the heading being red on one side and blue on the other just like the cards.

Coleco packaged The Electronic Learning Machine with a set of cards and sold sets of 36 separately at a price of $10.45 each. I'm going to post a few more pictures next of the box, bottom of the toy, and documentation, and then below that there will be more as there is a reason I'm ending DC Comics week with this product. One of the box sides has a chunk missing which I'm thinking might have been where the UPC was; perhaps it was needed for a rebate of some kind.

Some sets of cards feature licensed characters, such as Mighty Mouse and those from DC Comics. I own one of the three sets of DC cards which results in 72 images due to them being double-sided. They scanned decently but sometimes you can see a little of the other side bleeding through. I used a black background rather than the scanner's default white which helped decrease the bleed through significantly; that's also why all of the card holes are black (corners are curved too so you'll see black there as well). There is a little fuzziness around the text on the headers, possibly due to the size I've currently got them at. I plan on lowering the resolution and adding all of them to the blog's Facebook page soon so that they can be more easily shared. I believe a lot of the artwork on the cards is original, as it is unlikely you'd find Clark Kent raking leaves without a rake or Green Lantern pointing at an empty bird cage anywhere else. I've got them sorted by character and then there are a few with multiple characters.

Listed in order of most cards to least cards per character:

Superman/Clark Kent

Wonder Woman




Captain Marvel

Green Arrow

Green Lantern






Lex Luthor

Multiple Characters

I'm a little surprised villains were included when there are so many other heroes available to choose from. Something else that stands out is that Superman is the only one that appears outside of his costume. Also, I see Robin driving the Batmobile just as in the jigsaw puzzle that I showed in the Batman video on Tuesday. I commented then that I didn't think Robin would be driving Batman around in the Batmobile and suggested he just slid over to brake as Batman leapt out of the car but perhaps I was incorrect. Robin even received more cards here than Batman!