Sunday, January 27, 2019

U-Force and the Power Glove

Nintendo is closing the Wii Shop Channel on January 30th which is only three days away. After it closes it will not be possible to purchase new digital games or download any past purchases. While disappointing, I'd expect this marks the end of the Wii, though that likely occurred many years ago for most (not Ubisoft which published Just Dance 2019 for the console!) as Nintendo has since released both the Wii U and the Switch. As a hugely successful console that uses motion controls, I decided to scan magazine articles about two Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) motion controllers from 1989. Of course, the people involved in the creation of Broderbund's U-Force and Mattel's Power Glove expected success, and the public may have been curious about them, but neither sold very well. Although I'm focusing on these two, it's worth noting Sega made an attempt at a full body motion controller for the Genesis called the Activator.

When I posted the ads for Mattel I mentioned the Power Glove and will repeat that summary here. The Power Glove is worn like a glove, hence the name, and contains a D-Pad, standard NES gamepad buttons, programmable buttons, and motion control functionality. Two games, Super Glove Ball and Bad Street Brawler, were made specifically for the controller, though those games can also be played with a regular gamepad minus extra features only usable with the Power Glove. U-Force is quite different from the Power Glove as players move their hands in front of the device without the need to hold anything. There is an accessory that can attach to the U-Force screen and be gripped to make simulation games, such as flight and driving games, easier to control. Both debuted in 1989 with a $10 price differential; the U-Force was $69.95 and the Power Glove cost $79.95.

I've got a variety of articles though none of the magazines appear to have officially reviewed the hardware. I am also including a review for Super Glove Ball which is the primary game designed for the Power Glove.

Electronic Gaming Monthly #2 (U-Force & Power Glove)

GamePro - May 1989 (U-Force & Power Glove)

Video Games & Computer Entertainment - May 1989 (U-Force)

Video Games & Computer Entertainment - September 1989 (Power Glove)

Video Games & Computer Entertainment - November 1990 (Super Glove Ball Review)

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Gaming Ads: Parkers Brothers and Pedersen Systems

Founded by George S. Parker and originally named the George S. Parker Company in 1883, the Massachusetts-based Parker Brothers changed its name when George's brother Charles joined the business in 1888 and later their brother Edward worked at company. It began as a maker of board and card games and that's primarily what it stuck to, though it also manufactured children's puzzles. George Parker made many of the games himself but Parker Brothers did publish games created by others, such as Monopoly, Clue, and Risk.

Shortly after being purchased by General Mills in 1968, Parker Brothers created Nerf and in the late '70s began making electronic games. During the '80s it published video games, many of which were home ports of popular arcade games, such as Frogger and Q*bert for Atari 2600, Intellvision, and Colecovision. After being acquired by Hasbro in 1991, Parker Brothers released some computer and video game versions of its popular board games before Hasbro Interactive took over.

Pedersen Systems, Inc., sometimes referred to as PSI, was a computer software developer and publisher based in New York. The two ads I have are from 1988 and 1989, and well, I don't know anything else about the company. There is a Pedersen Systems in New Jersey today but that was founded in 2011 so it's not the same company. However, it is a software development company and based in the same region so perhaps the same person founded both though I really have no idea.

Parkers Brothers albums: Facebook - Google Photos
Pedersen Systems albums: Facebook - Google Photos

Sunday, January 20, 2019

[YouTube] Tootsietoy's Sportsmen Sets

According to Tootsietoy's defunct 2006 website it was the oldest American toy company having been founded in the late 1800s in Chicago by the Dowst brothers. However, the Tootsietoy name, which was named after Ted Dowst's daughter's Tootsie, wasn't trademarked until 1924. Charles Dowst is responsible for creating the first die-cast toys in 1910 with the first die-cast car being released in 1911. In the '60s Tootsietoy acquired the slot car maker Strombeck-Becker (later called Strombecker) and although the toys I own do say Tootsietoy on the front of the boxes, the back of the boxes say Strombecker. It would seem that Tootsietoy ceased being the corporate name shortly after that acquisition, instead being a toy brand for Strombecker Corp. In 2005 Strombecker liquidated its assets and sold Tootsietoy to J. Lloyd International, Inc.

On the way-out-of-date website the Tootsietoy name is used on a variety of toys, including die-cast cars, tea sets, cap guns, bubbles, jump ropes, wood blocks, and magnetic numbers and letters. It's possible I have some of the older die-cast vehicles but for this post I'm focusing on two sets from 1981/82. Both are part of a toy line called Sportsmen; one is the Sportworld pack and the other is called Sport Time. Sportsworld features a raft, kayak, two paddles, boat, submarine, jeep, motorbike (with attached character), shark, and three male action figures. In the Sport Time pack is a jeep, trailer, two horses, powerboat, picnic table, grill, two male action figures, and one female action figure. Both boxes had a stack of price tags on them as they were marked down a number of times. It looks like they originally cost $16 a piece at Kmart but were purchased for $8 each.

I find the combination in the sets a bit odd as it would have made more sense to swap the powerboat in the Sportsworld pack with the motorbike to the Sport Time set, and remove the jeep from Sportsworld. That would have made the Sportsworld ocean and river focused, and Sport Time more of a southwestern/desert themed pack. The items in both sets were also sold in smaller collections in carded packaging. Unfortunately, as you can see in the video and photos, my boxes are beat up and recently received water damage from a basement flood. Also, the male cowboy is broken and the submarine handle broke off, though I was able to glue the handle back on. The cowboy actually broke when I was trying to position him for blog photos; I rotated his left leg to pose him which caused his lower half to crack.


Sport Time

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Gaming Ads: Paragon Software

Founded in 1985 and based in Pennsylvania, Paragon Software was a developer and publisher of computer games. most of its games likely aren't too well known, though in 1989 it began releasing products featuring Marvel Comics licenses, such as The Punisher, Amazing Spider-Man, and X-Men. I mentioned Paragon Software previously when I posted ads for MicroProse Software and Medalist International, which was a division of MicroProse. Some of Paragon's games appear in ads under the Medalist name as the company was acquired by MicroProse in 1992.

Paragon Software albums: Facebook - Google Photos

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Year 3: January Update

1990 Toys R Us ad (It has felt like
things have been going downhill of late
but it's time to turn that around.)
January 2nd marked the two-year anniversary of the blog and things had been going quite well for the ads in 2018 until Flickr introduced a fee on accounts with over 1,000 images. While I would have preferred to keep all of the game ads there, I didn't think I could really afford to forever or even for 5-10 more years so I opted to stop uploading for a little over a month until I could find a solution. Unfortunately, I couldn't come up with a good alternative and Blogger isn't really built for albums. Plus I didn't want to have the images all spread out and therefore I uploaded the past two years of ad posts to Facebook at the start of the new year. However, that has been a bit of a let down as the albums will not stay in alphabetical order. I wrote to Facebook support to find out why but have yet to hear back. Perhaps when I feel the project is complete I'll also place them at Google Photos where albums currently go in order of most recent upload. You can still visit the Vault 1541 Flickr page to see some ads (I'll keep around 300 there once all is done) along with game hardware and toy photos from the blog articles. I'm hoping it will drive some web traffic over here.

On December 26th I discovered that my basement had flooded. I believe it flooded the week before and I just hadn't gone down there for a while so cardboard had soaked up a lot of water before I got to it. This primarily impacts the YouTube channel as most of my toys are in the basement. While the majority of toys are okay, a lot of cardboard got damaged, like a G.I. Joe box and the Transformers Omega Supreme box pictured in the blog header. Some advertising pieces I have got wet too and the Hot Wheels Service Center box was soaked. They aren't completely ruined but the water did cause things to curl and in some cases boxes got brittle. Also, everything is still a big mess at my house as I had to scramble to empty cardboard boxes and dry the items inside, and haven't repacked anything. I've got stuff spread out around the basement while I'm trying to repaint parts of the floor and then more stuff is spread out in my living room. I'm going to try and continue the toy videos this year but I don't know that I'll go beyond that. Also, the 2X-L video recently got blocked by YouTube because of the sound clip I played from an 8-track tape so I have to remove the music in order to get it restored. Even if I stop the toy videos I do plan to keep making game recordings which have become a bit Commodore 64-heavy of late.

Early concept of Slightly Mad Studios' MadBox console.
Aside from my problems, there has been some big game news the past week. Activision and Bungie parted ways with the Destiny game rights remaining with Bungie. Activision does have Blizzard Entertainment but otherwise doesn't publish a whole lot of games itself anymore. Electronic Arts apparently canceled the open world Star Wars game that had been in development for at least a few years I believe. It's now been five years since EA got the Star Wars rights and five more years remain on the contract. So far we've got two Battlefront games and a possible Jedi game coming out late this year. Surprisingly, a new console was announced at the end of December by game developer Slightly Mad Studios (Project Cars). I have a hard time believing it will ever see the light of day, and if it does, I don't know how it will compete with the big three. Of course, I didn't think the original PlayStation could challenge Nintendo and Sega either so what do I know.

The whole holiday season was rough for myself and part of why I've been slow to get much new content up. I've got a 4-day weekend coming up and if I manage to make good use of my time I might be able to get things back in order. Thank you for reading, and thanks to those following on Facebook and/or subscribing to the YouTube channel. I know I'm not great at replying to comments but I do read them all!