Sunday, May 27, 2018

[YouTube] G.I. Joe Shrinky Dinks

Shrinky Dinks were created in 1973 by two women in Wisconsin and are now owned by Alex Brands which acquired Shrinky Dinks in December 2014. They are made with polystyrene, a plastic that shrinks and hardens after being heated in an oven, and are primarily being used in arts and crafts, though also by scientists. Many years ago Shrinky Dinks were licensed by a few companies, including Colorforms which released numerous Shrinky Dinks products based on television, movie, video game, and toy properties in the '80s. Along with G.I. Joe, some of the available sets included Barbie, Smurfs, E.T., Rainbow Brite, Transformers, My Little Pony, Pac-Man, Voltron, Dungeons & Dragons, Masters of the Universe, The A-Team, Q*bert, and many others. The box scans below are of the same box seen in the video; I cleaned them in Photoshop, though there is some blurry text on the back as it was tough to flatten the box enough during scanning.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find all of the G.I. Joe templates that I colored and shrunk when I was a kid but I do have a few of them, one unused page with some nice images, and a couple other pieces. Not all of them are directly related to G.I. Joe as some are simply military themed, such as a dog tag and colonel insignia.

Manual Page 1
Manual Page 2

Manual Page 3
Manual Page 4


The polystyrene is sort of clear, the scans just got a white background from the scanner.

This is what remains of my set; it did originally include seven colored pencils
and more plastic sheets.

In the video I bake one colonel insignia and a Vault 1541 logo that I drew on a scrap piece of polystyrene. On the back of the box it shows the insignia as mostly gold like a pin might be but I chose to color it more like an actual eagle which is common on military patches. The Vault 1541 logo didn't bake too well as it went a bit sideways on me. Also, the images I took on the baking sheet don't look so great and as I mention in the video, the white stripes don't appear very white on the dull side after baking.

Although this video highlights G.I. Joe, this post is primarily about Shrinky Dinks in general and I wanted to include photos of others I owned if I could find them. After making the video and then writing this post, it hit me that I had Hot Wheels Shrinky Dinks and had a good idea where one might be so here is a photo of that one (this one has a sticker on the back meant to attach it to something; I think there were display stands for the cars too).

My coloring skills weren't so hot in the '80s, nor were my color choices (I do wonder if my sister colored this one but I don't think she'd be as sloppy as this looks). I'm certain there are some Barbie and Smurfs Shrinky Dinks floating around too but those might all be at my parent's house. If I ever get back there and go through my sister's things I may update this post with a few more images.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Star Wars Toys: Solo & the Millennium Falcon

Marvel Comics' Star Wars #99
As I mentioned in the Star Wars activities post a couple days ago I was working on a toy photo. I wanted to do something to tie into the new Solo movie so the plan was originally to make a video of Kenner's Han Solo action figures and the Millennium Falcon similar to the first Star Wars video I put together for Tatooine. However, my Falcon isn't in the best condition, the sound effect isn't working, and I'm missing a couple pieces. Then I thought maybe I can make a cool photo recreating the Empire Strikes Back scene of the Falcon parked inside of the Exogorth (the space slug on the asteroid). I did attempt that but struggled to get a good image so next I thought about just making a space scene and that photo came out rather well I think. I'm posting them both and a little about how I made them. Before I get to those though, first I'll start with a quick look at the toys.

Kenner released a number of Han Solo figures beginning with the first movie. There are two versions from the first movie, often referred to as the original, or small head, and the big head one which is what I've got. For Empire Strikes Back (ESB) Han received two action figures: one in the Hoth outfit and one in the Bespin outfit (with a different gun than he carried in the movies). Of course, he got a Return of the Jedi (RotJ) figure as well, for that release he wears a trench coat. Around the time Kenner released The Power of the Force (1984-85) line of figures I stopped acquiring Star Wars toys. That final Star Wars toy line includes a Han in carbonite figure. In the photo below I put the figures in appearance by movie rather than release date and although I do not own the carbonite figure, I have substituted in the Han in carbonite accessory that was packaged with Boba Fett's Slave I ship. Also pictured is the 1995 Han in Stormtrooper disguise which was a mail-away promotion from Hasbro and Kellogg's Fruit Loops cereal. Since this post is meant to tie into the Solo movie I've added Chewbacca and two of three Lando Calrissian figures. Lando's third figure (RotJ general outfit) was part of the aforementioned Power of the Force release which I'm lacking.

The figures are on a Kenner display stand; of course, the stickers don't match
 the figures being displayed in this photo.

Han Solo's Millennium Falcon is arguably the most iconic ship from the Star Wars films and Kenner's toy is a great recreation, though it isn't too roomy inside which is understandable. The top of my Falcon is discolored which looks bad but at the same time is kind of realistic as the ship is often on the rustic side in the movies. has some immaculate photos of the toy; it's so clean that it looks both impressive and a little strange to me. In the photos below you'll see Luke has his head as I decided to glue it back on; I discussed that previously in the Tatooine video I linked to above. Also, since I cannot locate Luke's lightsaber I gave him Obi-Wan's.

The Millennium Falcon with landing gear down.

The top of my Falcon with fading and yellow lines.
The bottom is actually still quite clean.

Closed cockpit
(missing windshield).
Open cockpit.
Chewie & R2 playing Dejarik.

Quad laser cannon and sensor dish.
I'm missing the removable flooring.

A little cramped.
Luke practicing.
Han in the turret seat.

For the Exogorth scene I used two maroon colored sleeping bags to create the "cave," a small flashlight to project light down the open ramp, and another light toward the back to try and give the appearance of exterior ship lighting. That rear light caused a reflection on Chewbacca that looked strange so I used Photoshop to swap in a different photo of the Chewbacca action figure. Unfortunately, I had to use Photoshop again to add the fog that was in the movie, though it doesn't really look too good. I did try to create fog using hot water and ice cubes but I failed to get anything useful from that.

My attempt to recreate the Empire Strikes Back asteroid "cave" scene. 

A similar setup with no backdrop; this is the Chewie I copied.

For the space scene I used a black sheet, two diecast Star Wars toys from Kenner, and Photoshop. In Photoshop I darkened the background and added stars; I wasn't too sure how many stars to add and perhaps I overdid it. I've got a few versions of the photo with slight variances as I added lasers from the Falcon's quad laser cannon to one, and then a second Star Destroyer. The stars aren't exact in the photos either since I erased a few in the later images. I did consider trying to add a planet to make it appear as if the ship was escaping Hoth or Tatooine but I'm not great with lighting in Photoshop and assumed I'd make it worse.

The die-cast toys with 6" E.T. ruler for scale.

The photos can be fun to stage despite being a fair amount of work. I've got a lot of junk lying around which certainly helps when coming up with ideas. Although I'm not too skilled with Photoshop, just using some basic features can be enough to enhance a photo and create something entertaining. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy the Solo film. I have not seen the movie yet so I can't add my opinion about that but I sure hope it's fun as many reviews indicate.

Gaming Ads: Konami of America

Konami was founded by Kagemasa Kozuki on March 21, 1969, though Konami's website doesn't say what the original name was or where it was located. He founded his company on the date mentioned but it was on March 19, 1973 that Konami Industry was established at which time it began manufacturing amusement machines for arcades ("Industry" was dropped from the name in 1991). In 1982 Konami entered the computer business and also established Konami of America. Divisions were opened in the U.K. and Germany in 1984, at which time Konami also began developing games for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).

It was in arcades and on the NES that Konami became a major games developer and publisher. Some of its best known early arcade games, many of which also appear on game consoles, include Frogger, Time Pilot, Track & Field, Yie Ar Kung-Fu, and Gradius. Konami is also responsible for many popular series, such as Contra, Castlevania, Dance Dance Revolution, and Metal Gear, and arcade hits based on other properties, like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) and X-Men.

Jumping ahead to 2006, Konami became a holding company and established Konami Digital Entertainment to manage the home entertainment business. Konami is still in business today under the name it took in 2006 and in 2012 it absorbed Hudson Entertainment. Hideo Kojima, who was responsible for the Metal Gear series, had a falling out with Konami in 2015 that was well publicized and since then the company's focus has been shifting primarily toward gambling machines as it has dramatically scaled back on home video games.

It still releases an annual soccer game (Pro Evolution Soccer or PES, formerly known as Winning Eleven), though it recently dropped the UEFA license. There are also the random digital releases, some of which are based on old Hudson properties or Yu-Gi-Oh!. There was another Metal Gear game released this year too though Kojima was obviously not involved and it's always possible Silent Hill could return with a new game or remaster which is what the upcoming Zone of the Enders is. However, for the most part, Konami is no longer one of the big publishers in video games.

I should point out that ads related to Konami will appear again much later when I post ads for Ultra Games. Ultra was a subsidiary of Konami from 1988-1992 that was created to get around Nintendo's publishing limits. I've got a Metal Gear ad and a bunch of TMNT ads in the Ultra group. A few Ultra Games releases did sneak into Konami though as part of the multi-game ads. Although I gave all the Acclaim mixed brand ads a separate folder, I'm going to leave these in Konami as there are only two companies here and very few ads.

Flickr album: Konami of America

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Solo Star Wars Activities

The latest Star Wars movie, Solo, officially releases tomorrow (though you can see it tonight) so I've been trying to come up with something to tie into that. Unfortunately, I've not come up with much, though I'm still trying to put together a good toy photo. In the mean time, I scanned some activity pages for kids that involve Han Solo's iconic ship the Millennium Falcon. All but one are from the Golden Books item pictured to the right while the colored maze is from an issue of Star Wars Kids magazine. The activities are all quite simple as they are for kids; most also have the answer key on the bottom of each page if needed.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Year 2: May Update

May is more than halfway over and like last month I still feel as if I'm not posting enough, plus I missed my first ads post since I began the blog. If you saw the Funspot post you'll know I had to go out of town and Funspot was a day I took for myself. I was in the car for 30 hours during those four days as I went from Michigan to Connecticut to New Hampshire and then back to Michigan. Here are some bonus photos from Funspot that are close-ups of arcade cabinet parts which I wish I had taken more of. I went with the grayscale on Rolling Thunder since it looked very orange from the lighting.

Atari's Star Wars controller.
Panel art from Namco's Rolling Thunder.

Last week I activated a free month of Netflix so I've been spending too much time watching a lot shows lately. One show I watched this week was The Toys That Made Us. The show covers toys that were hugely popular in the '80s; season one's four episodes consist of Star Wars, Barbie, He-Man, and G.I. Joe. On May 25th the second season debuts with four more episodes, this time covering Star Trek, Hello Kitty, LEGO, and Transformers. While this may sound like a great show to watch with kids, it actually isn't always. I think the Star Wars and G.I. Joe episodes are safe but the Barbie episode has adult content and there is a fair amount of swearing in the He-Man episode. Therefore, I'd recommend you view them first before deciding if you want to watch them with your kids. The show is definitely worth watching, especially if you love toys.

I've not played too many games since my last post though I did complete Yakuza 6. Recently Shenmue III was delayed but I never expected that one earlier than 2019 and it allows for more time to replay the first two Shenmue games when Sega releases the updated versions later this year. There have been quite a few game delays popping up this month with E3 fast approaching. Last year I had three days of pre-E3 coverage where I made predictions, posted Next Generation magazine's coverage of 1998's E3, and wrote about my time at E3 in 2003. The predictions were a mix of what I expected and what I thought would be fun surprises. I did get some easy ones correct and a bunch I predicted just a bit too early, like Shenmue I & II, the Spyro trilogy remaster, and a new Age of Empires. I think those posts were some fun reads and I'll try to put something together for this year's E3 as well.

The next Star Wars movie, Solo, releases this week too and I wanted to make a quick video of the Millennium Falcon toy. However, my toy has what appears to be permanent discoloration/stains, the sound effect doesn't work (as is very common with all of my old toys), and it is missing two pieces, the cockpit windshield and the removable floor panel. Quite a few stickers dried up and fell off as well though I found all but one and reapplied those yesterday. At the end of the month I hope to be able to complete the non-toy G.I. Joe video that I hinted at a couple months ago in the March update.

One thing I'm a little concerned about is that SmugMug is taking over Flickr. It's possible changes will be made that affect how the video game ads display but the frequently asked questions indicate nothing will change any time soon.

Once again, thanks for reading!


Saturday, May 19, 2018

Gaming Ads: Koei

The Japan-based Koei was founded in 1978 and early on was focused on selling computers and software. In early 1983 Koei released the game Nobunaga's Ambition, a strategy game set in 16th century Japan where players stepped into the role of the ruler Nobunaga Oda. The game became a big hit and the series continues to grow today, just over 35 years later. Koei went on to make numerous strategy and simulation games, such as Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Genghis Khan, P.T.O.: Pacific Theater of Operations, Aerobiz, and many others. A U.S. branch of the company was opened in 1988 under the name Koei Corporation.

While Koei is still in business, in 2009 it merged with Tecmo to form Koei Tecmo Holdings. The naming of the various Koei divisions has been changed a couple times since then. At first the North American Koei was called Tecmo Koei America but in 2014 it was reversed and became Koei Tecmo America. As I mentioned above, it still continues to release historical strategy games like Nobunaga's Ambition, though it has perhaps become better known for its "Musou" series of games developed by the internal studio Omega Force.

Dynasty Warriors was the first release in 1997 for the PlayStation, and although that game is a one-on-one fighter, the sequel (and all sequels since) is a hack 'n' slash style of game with large battlefields. Samurai Warriors, Warriors Orochi, and Bladestorm followed, with all of the games involving either Chinese or Japanese historical figures. Despite the similarity of the series' games, the popularity of them has led to numerous sequels and spin-offs. Anime and other video game properties have also since received their own "Musou" games, such as Gundam, One Piece, Arslan, The Legend of Zelda, Dragon Quest, Attack on Titan, and Fire Emblem.

More ads can be found at Facebook: Koei