Saturday, 26 December 2009

Roxy Music

Glam Rock was an odd thing. You couldn't get away from it on the telly when it was at its height and no-one seemed to question it and just went along with it, despite it being patently barmy.
The trouble i had with it was, great outfits - shame about the wearer. Almost without fail, every musician of the time looked like they'd strolled out the local factory, had some clobber chucked at them, sprinkled with glitter and then shoved up on stage to get on with it.
The likes of Sweet, Glitter Band, Slade, New Faces and, especially, Rod Stewart had local equvilants for me down at the breakers yard. they were just cod.
Two exceptions were David Bowie, who made great songs but was rather TOO odd looking for me, and Roxy Music.
They were fab: They made great records, they looked great in the clobber and they looked like superstars.
Can distinctly remember this apperance on The Old Grey Whistle Test and its the quintisentail them: Brilliant outfits, a nice and cocky turn from Mr Ferry and the sheer oddness of a song that didn't really have a chorus and has random sax playing all over it.
Sheer genius.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas...

... To you all, my Blogging chums. All the best for 2010.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Saturday Matinee's

Like most under 10's of my generation, a Saturday morning trip to the pictures was all part of growing up.
But not the common ABC Minors Club for me, no siree, mine definetly fell into the "the did that for KIDS?????" camp that so much from that time now falls into.
Our local cinema is i guess what could've been called a Flea Pit, altough i didn't know the term then - a very small, one level independent that had no money.
And they did this thing where - and here we go into "children were trusted to be independant and make sensible decisions/that was bloody stupid and they should've been prosecuted" territory - you walked down to your nearest bus stop, waited for a special coach, paid the driver who then took you to the cinema. Price of the ticket was bus fare and admission to the cinema.
Wait ages in the queue (how i miss that at the flicks - the waiting was all part of the antcipation), then were let in.
The auditorium before and during the film could easily be likened to the scene in Gremlins where the little bastiges are running riot during Snow White, but this was real and 15 years before.
Anyway, looking back on it at it now, its obvious the owner had some sort of deal with Univeral Pictures as we were treated to endless Woody Woodepecker cartoons followed by the feaure which was invariably - and i'm not making this up - 1930's horror films.
Clearest and fondest memories are of Son Of Frankenstien, with all the girls screaming whenever Karloff appeared and the huge cheer when Basil Rathbone swings down and knocks the monster into the lava pit.
I mean, really. The classic Universal Horros are pretty much all PG's these days but, back then, they'dve been the equivilant of at least a 15 now. I work in a cinema now i'm a "grown up" and, if we tried doing the same now, we'd be closed down.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Captain Lazer

Another toy i treasured. Guess i must've been about 6 or 7 when i got the fella and i LOVED him.
Dunno what happened to my one but i've recently got him again via the 'Bay and it all came flooding back - the nifty snowshoes-type attachments, the helmet that was just too big for my Action Man, the brilliant lighting up parts and the lovely sparkly plastic he suits made from.
Odd though in that i remember it being purple and not blue, and don't remember the cheesy face at all.
But we're talking 40 years ago since i last saw him.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Pow! Annual 1971

One of the very few things i've kept all these years. Pow! was mainly a British comic reprinting Marvel strips with a smattering of UK comedies.
But for their 1971 annual they produced quite a bunch of all new tales featuring an eclectic mix of superhero types.
But they were all odd.
And the art. I was used to the Spanish studios work on the likes of Janus Stark, Adam Eterno etc but here we didn't have the usual Victorian b/w moody tales, these were brightly coloured affairs but featuring heroes and villains depicted in a way i'd never seen before.
So made a huge impression - and still does today. Urge you to seek one out on the 'Bay. You'd be in for a treat.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Heroes - that i wanted to be

Thinking about it, and ruling out animated or puppet characters, there were three people i wanted to be when i grew up.
Steve from Land Of The Giants (think it was the hair)
Steve Austin (the bionic stuff, the red tracksuit and, oddly, the broken nose)
But above all it was Tony Curtis.
I wanted to be him so much it hurt. Didn't matter what film he was in, that was the bloke i wanted to be, the ultimate version being his Great Leslie in The Great Race.
A vastly overlooked and underrated actor - would be nice for him to get more recognistion before he pops it.

Friday, 4 December 2009


Blimey, where to start?
My memories of the loin-clothed one are a veritable pot pourie of conflicting thoughts and feelings.
I was aware of the Johnny Weissmuller films from rainy sunday afternoon screenings. Thought he was rather a dullard back then so didn't really pay those much attention (although, if i'd been a bit older, Maureen O'Sullivan might've been an attraction).
Much preferred the Gordon Scott outings as they were in colour and he was far more heroic looking.
The Ron Ely TV series was nifty - if you ignored J'ai - and had quite a few quicksand resolutions. LOVED quicksand. Why don't they appear in films any more? Would make them SO much better... Hold on, they were in Indy 4... Ok, ignore that.
Also at the time was the Filmation cartoon series which, today looks rather crude, but was all there was back then so was lapped up.
Finally there were the Burne Hogarth collections and that was the real deal as far as i was concerned - beautiful, moody B&W artwork and the tales taken seriously, no cheetah anywhere.
But, despite their widely different approaches, loved them all.

Sunday, 29 November 2009


As a reply to The Bronze's comments (still has a boxed Muton= jammy git), here's the third figure in the set and my favourite.
Although, now, he looks pretty crap.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Lost In Space

Being born in 1962, i figure that put me in the right demograph for all of the Irwin Allen shows.
Thought "The Time Tunnel" was kay, but a bit dull.
"Land Of the Giants" was very samey, even to a Sprog, and the only real reason to watch was the already mentioned crush.
"Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea" was okay only if it had monsters in it that week (which i inevitably took the role of in playground games for the following week), but now is pretty much unwatchable due to the memory cheats syndrom.
Best of the bunch was "Lost In Space", a show not unlike the "Batman" series of the same time, in that kids watched it for the action and thrills and adults of the campery.
Two images stick with me from the show - the Cyclops from early on in the run, which scared the crap out of me (and still stands up as quite a scary and well executed sequence) and the Carrot man from very late on which, even as an 8-year old thought was pretty crap.

Cyborg & Muton

Towards the end of my childhood now, and these two really rather neat figures.
Like so much from back then, they just appeared in shops and catalogues, with no idea of their origins.
I loved them both - Muton for his coloured clear body and natty fish costume i also had, and Cyborg for his strap-ons (so to speak).
Would love to own them again, but not at the hundreds they command on the 'Bay.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Treasure (1)

Guess everone's got things from their childhoods that they treasure. Doesn't matter if, now as cynical adults, they might appear crude, silly, soppy or nonsensical, for the individual there's a chord that's struck whenever looking at them and they're transported back to them time when whatever it is mattered.
This is my number one treasure.
A pretty poor representation of the Dark Knight, yes?
But to the 5 year-old me, that removable head and cloak in the metallic blue and, especially, the red batlogo base was the most important thing i owned.
And still is the best of all my Batmemorabilia.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Scaring the crap out of a Sprog - part 3

Absolutely, hands-down, never to be beaten, the scariest opening credits ever.
Press play, close your eyes and just listen if you doubt.
And they made this for kids????


Moving forward to my teens now, and my first experience of Robert E Howards best known creation.
The actual novels with their brilliant Frazetta covers were still a few years off, but i'd already been to the Hyborian Age thanks to the Marvel UK reprints.
To start with, i'd sidied with Barry (Windsor) Smiths very clean style of a rather lean version with natty outfits and necklaces.
He was blown out of the water though by the arrival though of John Buscema inked ny Alfredo Acala.
It was a double whammy of stunning design work and brilliant, moody use of blacks and crosshatching (evoking my earlier favourites of Janus Stark and Adam Eterno) that did it.
Just read the "Essential Savage Sword Of Conan" graphic novel and the tales still pack a punch.
Same about the rest though.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Batman bubblegum cards

The movie version of the Batman TV series back in 1966 was the first film i ever saw at the cinema.
And i loved it dearly.
But, don't think i actually saw the show until the 70's. Up till then i only knew the show from the ads for it in DC comics and the brilliant bubblegum cards by ABC. It was the double whammy of being Batman to begin with, along with the fantastic painted art. How did i know the show couldn't possibly live up to what was being depicted on them?
Tell you a true story:
Such was my passion for the them that a "friend" called Christopher Deadman, who live the other side of a busy road from me, would let me have one of his spares each time i'd run from my side of the road to his, if i RAN IN FRONT OF A CAR. Two if it was a near miss.
True story and i did it because i wanted the cards so much. Would like to know where he is right now (last i heard, he was done for burgulary). Would be tempted to make him a dead man for sure.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Scaring the crap out of a Sprog - part 2

A couple of years later i saw the George Pal film - and instantly fell in love with it. Still love it now, a great mix of drama and adventure, brilliant for its time effects and stunning design work. The sleek, manta craft are still my favourite SF vehicles of all time.
And a very scary film too. The hand on the frankly overacting if she could act Anne Robinson is a brilliant bit of tension but what affected me deeply - still does now in fact - is that "snakey" sound of the Heat Ray as it moves around and the noise of it firing.
Stunning stuff. And the scene where the US first gets whooped has yet to be beaten in my opinion.
And the first appearance and firing of the Heat Ray really deserves to be recognised for the classic film moment that it is.
have a look at this neat compilation and wallow in the greatness of it:

Scaring the crap out of a Sprog - part 1

Think i got this record when i was about 7. Listening to it now, its a bit crap - set in a 60's American version of Victorian London with some appalling stagey acting.
But it was my first ever exposure to HG Wells and WOTW and made a profound impact, resulting in the book being my favourite of all time and the George Pal film my number 3.
As i say, pretty naff now. But... then and now, the noise the cylinder makes as it unscrews then falls off is one of the most disturbing sounds i've ever heard.

Doctor Who

Thought it fitting that, as the ol' boy is back on telly tonight, to write a little bit about the fella.
Know i was a Who fan but don't recall when i started watching it. Pretty sure i never saw any Troughton episodes so would've come into it somewhere in the Pertwee era. Can remember one of the Peldaon tales so it must be there somewhere.
Anyway, Pertwee was my hero and the strongest memory i have of that time is the REAL upset i felt at his leaving and the shock of the regeneration.
Can strongly remember being appalled at who he changed into, thinking he looked like a girl (?!??).
Of course, a couple of episodes in and Tom Baker totally and utterly replaced dear old Jon in my affections.
And, of course, he is the guvnor. From "Robot" right though to John Nathan Turner becoming producer i adored the show. And still do. You can keep this latest gurning, noisy, soap opera tosh passing itself off as New Who, i know what Who is to me and i'm staying there.
Incidently, if a "10" is the most perfect Doctor there could possibly ever be and a "0" the worst casting choice there could ever be, my opinions are:
Hartnell - 6
Troughton - 7
Pertwee - 8
Tom Baker - 10
Davison - 4
Colin Baker - 2
McCoy - 0. Should be a minus figure.
McGann - 2
Eccelston - 5
Tennant - 5
Smith - Dunno. Expecting around the 5 or 6 maybe.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Crush #3

Went to see Logan's Run on its cinema release. I was just entering the teen years then - so you can imagine what effect Ms Agutter almost wearing these garments had. Watched it again not too long ago and, even now, they're pretty risque.


For some reason that i still can't fathom, this not very good ITV gameshow has stuck in my head all these years.
Thought i'd illustrate it with a clip and came across this, the 1976 Halloween special - which has the bizarro concept of Charles Hawtry as Dracula.
Bless him. I'll be getting on to the Carry On's in due course.

Aurora Model Kits

Guess i was about 10 when these kits arrived on these shores in big numbers. Perfect timing - just about the right age to become hooked on monster films and kit making.
Remember there was a real craze for building them at school, with classmates bringing in the alternative head that they hadn't used as proof they had that character.
I had the Mummy, the Phantom, Dracula, the Wolfman and someone gave me their spare glow in the dark Frankenstien head.
The kit i REALLY wanted though was the Hunchback Of Notre Dame and never did end up getting him. Didn't stop me gazing longingly at the box art (still do).
Speaking of which, the brilliant artwork was the best thing about this range - the poor kit inside couldn't hope to compare with what was on the outside, no matter how good a builder or painter you were.
Batman is a good case in point - i so wanted the kit, staring at the Neal Adams artwok in Woolworths. Very glad to never have bought one as this is what you got.

I Married A Monster From Outer Space

Sure we all have films that have stayed with us since first seeing them as a nipper, making an impression that stays until adulthood.
This rather cheap and unremarkable slice of 50's hokum is the unlikely winner of "most significent film i ever saw" for me.
Saw it one New Years Eve when i was about 8. We'd all gone to a social club and it was a pretty duff affair for a Sprog who wasn't into bopping around. But they did have a TV room - and this was on.
Looking at the film now, its pretty duff with only Paul Blaisdale's creature being the only thing of note. But to that 8-year old me it was the most terrifying thing i'd ever seen - up until that point i'd no idea that films could be scary. So that's one reason. The other is that it instilled in me a love of 50's B Movie Science Fiction, something that's stayed with me right up to now.
So, IMAMFOS, i salute you, naffness and all.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Captain Scarlet

Its a given i suppose that any for any boy born between 1960 and 1970 would have a Gerry Anderson impacting on their lives.
With me it was this show. I loved it dearly - but not so much for the episodes which were, after all, shown once and never again.
No, after the brilliant notion of the show, the vehicle designs, the costumes, the moody opening credits shown here, the brilliant Ron Embleton paintings on the end credits, what really made it for me was the gumpf that went with it.
Dinky toys, Sugar Smacks giveaways, bendy toys, cigarette cards - i lapped it all up.
Still enjoy watching it now but, as with SO much that you'll see on this here Blog, the thought crops up "this was for children????"

Heroes - Rolf Harris

As with a lot of folk from back then, if they appeared now they'd probably be ridiculed or maybe even sectioned.
But back in those fabulous, anything goes times everything was just accepted.
Rolf is, quite rightly cherished and loved. And why not? A genuine, very funny man who has a huge back catalogue of charming songs and, most of all to me, a brilliant artist.
How anyone can come on stage with some ropey old brushes, start splashing the paint around and finish up with the likes of this is just mind boggling.
And keeping up a patter of witty dialogue too.
Rolf - you're a genius and i love you dearly.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Dodgy Grub #1

Or "they thought that was a good idea????"
A bound to be epic on the stuff we were happily shovelling in, with no thought to the rot we'd be taking on board.
First up, two downright delicious goodies, both partially to blame for the amount of fillings i possess.
Now way you could away with these today, not only for the amount of colourings and artifical additives in them, but what childrens confectionary will ever have "death" in its title again - or encourage you to taste the blood of Dracula?

The Mighty World Of Marvel

Comics were a massive, massive, MASSIVE part of my childhood. Its real hazy after all this time but i think i started on the IPC and DC Thompson comedy titles mixed with DC titles (mainly Batman and Worlds Finest) and, when i reached double digits, all the action titles.
I'm covering the British titles on my "AIEEEE!" Blog page, so lets go with something different.
This one pretty much kicked off my exposure to Marvel characters. think i'd come across Spidey and the FF in the pages of Pow! and Fantastic, but they were chopped right down with some downright odd colouring.
Here i had the real deal, in nice big chunks and in plain black and white. How i poured over every issue of this title, along with all its successors (bought them all, along with the British one's. Every week. HOW much pocket money was i getting????)and its the love of them that has me still not minding reading the B/W strips in the "Marvel Essential" collections. Something i can't do with the "DC Showcase" equivilant as those tales must be in colour for me.
I haven't got this issue but will have to track one down to see what i think of it now - if only to see what the covers boast of "3 Big Supernatural Movie Length Adventures" actually means.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Crush #2

And while we're on the subject of Batman, Julie Newmar caused strange, unexplained stirrings in my utility belt.
Not so unexplainable now watching it as an adult...

Batman TV Series

THE show for me when i was 5 or 6, mainly because it seems i learnt to read by pouring over DC comics before i even got to start school.
I adored this show and it was totally a case of what they say about youngsters enjoying it for one reason and adults for another.
Wish they'd sort out the legal wrangles and get a DVD release out there with decent extras before all those involved have popped their clogs.

Crush #1

Being male and growing up in the 60's-70's, its kinda natural that the female form would start to be of interest.
In no particular order, an occasional look at those that would float my boat.
First up, Heather Young from Land Of The Giants, possibly my first ever crush. Oddly, poising in front of the Time Tunnel set in one of the pics .

Marc Bolan

My favourite of all the Glam Rock stars - but not because of him. I loved the songs, found the mystisiscm of the lyrics fascinating, but didn't really like him.
Fine when i listening to him on Radio 1, but when he pops up on Top Of the Pops it just didn't work for me.
There he was preening and strutting away, good example here, but he always seemed to me back then to be trying really hard and it really not working.
And when he had his "Marc" TV show that all the girls in my class literally raced home to see, could see it even less.
Still, he's left a great legacy behind that i still enjoy - as long as i keep my eyes shut.

Marine Boy

My first exposure to Anime and still my favourite. It looks quite crude these days, but think of the time it was released and it was quite a thing - especially to the British audience, who'd not seen anything quite like it.
Still has a charm and i love it dearly, though got past pretending my Wrigleys Extra is Oxygum.

Haunted House

A board game now. If you're not familiar with it, its a 3D house that you have to pass through, avoiding the ball bearing that's regularly dropped dowm the chimney, activating various traps.
The novelty of it was part of the appeal, but mainly i remember it for the hours that i'd study the excellent, spooky artwork on the box and on the house walls.
Again, i'd love to own one now but, again, they go for big bucks.
Got my Sprogs Ghost Castle, which is the modern version but, while the game play is exactly the same, the art has nowhere near the charm of the original.

Noggin The Nog

I've many, many, many fond memories from TV shows as i were growing up but the most evocative was this piece of brilliance.
Evocative, moody and quite unlike anything at the time, Peter Firmins stunning backdrops and character designs, Oliver Postgates dry deadpan narration and the really rather wicked sense of humour made for a show that had an impact then and stays till now.
And all done on a budget of just short of zero, meaning animation was via card cutouts alone.
Like i say, brilliance.
I had the great fortune to attend the launch of the video box set back in the 90's, which was hosted by both gentlemen and it was a joy to not only meet them, but be in an auditorium with them and about 100 others, all watching episodes up on the big screen.
A lovely time.
If you're ever that way, Canterbury musuemnow has a permanent exhibit of their work, featuring the original Clangers and Bagpuss models and sets, and some of the Noggin cutouts.
Well worth a visit.
Also, Peter Firmin is still regularly spotted in town - i tend to see him in the book section of WH Smiths.

Major Matt Mason

As the point of this here Blog is a ramble on things i remember fondly from my childhhod, lets start with the number one for me.
Major Matt Mason was, lets face it, just a bendy boys toy. With a very short life before the wire skeleton starts thrusting through at the joints and the rubber gets real scuffed.
No matter - he was cool. Wasn't so much the accessories you could buy (which i never did, just lusted after them in the ads in the DC comics), more the brillaintly simple B/W colour scheme and the ultra-cool clear orange visor which tipped up.
How i loved mine.
Like so much of my things from back then, have no idea what happened to him. Would like to get another for old times sake - but not at the prices they go for on the'Bay.