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May 252016
 

Welcome back. Some of the other books on tape based on TV shows of the 80s only had a single story. For instance, here’s one about The Popples in The Magic Shoe. In case you were wondering, this version from the 80s is much different from the new series on Netflix.

Another good one is about Pound Puppies in Pet Project. Yes, it’s another series that has a current version that’s nothing like the original.

Here’s an interesting item. A character called Barney the Book Bear hosted this story. I had no idea who that was until I saw his picture right inside the back cover.

Now that we’ve made it through the storybooks, it’s time to go over the songbooks. That’s right. Some music albums had books to follow along with lyrics and cool pictures to go with it.

First we have Fraggle Rock Sing Along Book, Volume 1. Basically it only contains a few songs from the series. I don’t know if there were other volumes since this is a very unique one.

However, there were other Fraggle Rock albums like the 3 CD set Fraggle Rock: The Fraggle Rockin’ Collection. But looking at the old book with these cool pictures sure brings me back.

The only other classic music book on tape I have is Sing Along Favorites performed by Bob McGrath. We all know him as Bob from Sesame Street, but this is not a Sesame Street album. It contains basic kids songs like If You’re Happy and You Know it, When the Saints Go Marching in, I’ve Been Working on the Railroad, The Hokey Pokey, etc.

This album was made in 1986, but I’ve heard that Bob McGrath has a new album, which contains most of these same songs with some new ones and is available on CD. Whether you listen to this one or the other that nostalgic feeling is still the same.

Finding these books on tape again brings back some great memories despite that most of this material is not likely to make it to CD. It just goes to show how big those 80s cartoons were.

May 182016
 

We all enjoy a good audio book once in a while. Back when I was a kid the only kinds I preferred were the ones where you could follow along in a storybook while listening to a cassette tape or sometimes a vinyl record.

The main ones I still have are based on 80s pop culture I grew up on. That’s what made these books on tape so interesting and it’s very helpful that there’s always some sort of chime that lets you know when to turn the page. Usually audio books don’t have a book to follow let alone a signal to turn the page.

Let’s start with the series sets where each book was sold separately. The Smurfs had four different stories based on certain episodes; A Winter Smurf, The Smurf Champion, There’s a Smurf in my Soup, and The Smurf-Eating Bird. What really kept these interesting was the nice tune that played at the beginning and end of each story as well as the three-second tone that signals to turn the page. No other books on tape do that.

Ducktales had several stories as well based on particular episodes with the original voice actors and musical score. My favorite is Scrooge’s Treasure Hunt, which is basically from part 2 of the series pilot Treasure of the Golden Suns.

There was also a set of five stories on The Gremlins. I don’t remember these too well, mainly because I’m not as much into The Gremlins as I used to be. Moving on.

Next is a series of books based on He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Unlike any other books on tape based on popular shows that stay loyal to their series, this group is nothing like the actual He-Man animated series. The stories and action are edgier. Some of which are featured in comic book style format. At first I struggled to get into these because they were so different, but now that I’m more into the fantasy genre these storybooks are awesome.

It wasn’t just TV shows that became books on tape. Movies have too, like The Muppets Take Manhattan and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Of course due to time, the story lines were trimmed down quite a bit, but still remain faithful to their source material.

There are other books on tape about 80s classics I’d like to blog about. So check my blog for part 2 for more.

Dec 092015
 

The trio of singing chipmunks has been around for a long time. After a long absence, they have made a huge comeback with a live action movie and its many sequels. I think there’s another one coming soon.

But let’s look back on the versions that I remember growing up on, starting with The Alvin Show (1961-1962). This was a variety series that featured the songs and misadventures of Alvin the self-centered schemer, Simon the science whiz, and Theodore the sweet food enthusiast.

Then of course we have David Seville the songwriter, who is the Chipmunks’ adoptive father and manager. Dave cares for them, but tends to lose his temper, especially when Alvin acts up.

You can really tell that the animation is a similar style to what you would see on The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends or The 3 Stooges animated series. More importantly I’d like to point out that if you listen closely, the pacing of the Chipmunks’ speaking voices sound a bit delayed compared to the other characters. I believe that it has to do with the Chipmunks’ voices being sped up to sound higher pitched, so the voice actor(s) had to talk slowly to make it sound normal when the dialogue was sped up.

Another common segment on The Alvin Show is about Clyde Crashcup the scientist/inventor. Clyde demonstrates his inventions, which are really items that were already invented, but provides his own personal touches. However, many of these inventions backfire and tend to blow up in his face, literally if not metaphorically.

Clyde’s lab assistant Leonardo is silent but levelheaded. He only communicates by whispering in Clyde’s ear. I never understood why Leonardo never spoke.

Long after that series came Alvin and the Chipmunks (1983-1990), where many of the Chipmunks’ misadventures were about Alvin’s scheming which always gets him and his brothers into trouble. It seems that Alvin will do anything to stay famous, or get out of schoolwork.

These are some collective figurines from this version of Alvin and the Chipmunks.

Chipettes

Shortly into this series the Chipettes were introduced into the franchise. They are basically female counterparts of the Chipmunks. First is Brittany who is much like Alvin in the ways of self-centeredness. Second is Janet who is like Simon only clumsier. Then there’s Eleanor who is like Theodore when it comes to food and her sweet nature.

The Chipmunks never seem to grow old. All that really changes is their music style. In the later seasons, Alvin’s schemes become even more intense, which made the series unwatchable in my opinion. However, there was an exception with Chipmunks go to the Movies, which featured the Chipmunks and Chipettes in a series of features based on popular movies.

Those were the Chipmunks shows of the past that still remain classic. Though I should point out that Clyde Crashcup was hardly ever featured again after The Alvin Show. I wonder if he’ll ever make a comeback someday.

Oct 142015
 

Over the years, classic monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, and the Wolfman have been featured as horrifying creatures and as party animals. But who would think of them as superheroes? Well, it has happened in the animated series, Drak Pack: Complete Series (1980-1982).

The Drak Pack is a trio of teenage descendents of the classic monsters, Drak Jr., Frankie, and Howler. To atone for their ancestors’ wrongdoings, they devote their lives to fighting crime. The Drak Pack’s identities are kept a secret, but what’s the point of that? They go by the same names in both human and monster form, their enemies already know who they are, and they always drive the same vehicle, the Drakster, even while in human form.

Drak Jr. is the team leader. He can shape-shift into a variety of forms as well as a bat or mist and can walk up walls. Amazingly, Drak is unaffected by sunlight. Frankie has enormous strength, even more so when he gets mad. Sometimes he needs to be provoked when that level of strength is needed. Howler’s main power is his super breath. That’s definitely a useful skill to have in battle.

Dr. Dred

The Drak Pack’s arch nemesis is Dr. Dred, a criminal genius that uses cliched evil plots to become rich and powerful. Sometimes Dr. Dred summons Drak to a secret meeting to explain his evil plot and it always ends with Drak getting caught in a trap. Of course, Drak manages to escape every time.

Evil Henchmen

Dr. Dred’s henchmen include the overly loyal Toad, the sneaky humanoid Fly, the massive mumbling mummyman that has unlimited bandages, and Vampira a female vampire with the same shape-shifting abilities as Drak. Together the evil group is called ORGE, which stands for the Organization for Generally Rotten Enterprises. That’s an interesting acronym.

OGRE has an island headquarters called Dredquarters and an airship called the Dredgible. Both often end up destroyed when an evil plot backfires, but somehow is fully restored by the next episode.

When the Drak Pack needs counsel, they turn to Drak’s great uncle Count Dracula himself, who is nicknamed Big D. He is helpful sometimes, but often complains and tends to unknowingly slam the lid of his coffin on his hand. I’m just glad that Dracula is on the side of good.

I really enjoyed this series. I’m surprised that I didn’t know about it before since many of my favorite cartoons from the 80s were from Hanna Barbera. I would’ve enjoyed it just the same back then. Though I should point out that if you’re expecting this show to be a horror theme series, you might be disappointed. Scooby-Doo used more horror elements than this.

Sep 022015
 

I’m sure many of you have seen the Hagar the Horrible comic strip in the Sunday morning newspaper each week, but did you know that there was a TV special based on it? I can remember back in 1989 when Hagar the Horrible premiered on primetime, but it only aired once. Luckily, it was part of a DVD set called Cartoon Mega Pack – Advantage Collection.

As the story goes, Hagar makes his living by traveling to different places and plundering them, the same as any Viking. While he heads back to his home, Hagar imagines his wife Helga greeting him at the door with open arms, his son Hamlet as a top student at the Viking Academy, and his daughter Honey engaged to a great Viking. Unfortunately, when Hagar does get home nothing is what he expects, especially with the children.

First off, Honey is engaged, but not to a Viking. It’s to a young man named Lute, who is a minstrel and a gentleman. Personally, I think Honey has good taste.

As for Hamlet, he flunked out of the Viking Academy and has an interest in reading and writing.

Of course not everyone can pass the Viking Academy. Hagar’s friend Lucky Eddie flunked out too, but does meet Viking standards despite being an unintelligent klutz.

Since true Vikings are supposed to be illiterate barbarians with bad manners, Hagar won’t stand for it. So he tries to set his kids straight, but even that takes an unexpected turn.

This was a great TV special for its level of hilarity and toned down in comparison to other features about Vikings. Although Hagar the Horrible is still a popular comic strip today, it’s too bad that it never returned to television or had a movie. That would’ve been swell.