Friday, March 16, 2018

Goodbye my old friend.

"I don't wanna grow up, I'm a Toys R Us kid."

When I think of my childhood in the 80’s, it’s hard not to think about the kid mecca, Toy R Us. Back then Toys R Us was something special. You knew going into that store you’d be treated to isle after isle of marvelous, jam-packed shelves of toys that stretched from floor to ceiling! If any of your family members extended you a trip to visit a Toys R Us it was like getting a Golden ticket to the Wonka factory!

"The stuff dreams are made of."

At least that’s the way my kid mind remembers it. Or maybe that is just the way it actually was. I still have my inner child and love toys! When I go into a toy store I still want to run up and down the isles looking at all of them. You can ask my wife, she’ll totally verify I do that. 

Geoffry's design changed over the years.

Geoffrey the Giraffe was the long neck mascot of the toy chain. He was a very recognizable character because there were plenty of commercials featuring him and his family between cartoons on Saturday mornings. If you were a kid of the 80’s, you were in front of a TV every Saturday morning so it was hard to miss them. 

My favorite Toy R US commercial is this one from Christmas 1981

Isles 7C, 8C, 9C of Toys R Us was the piece de resistance where you'd find action figures, toy guns, and playsets. Here the packed shelves truly loomed above you. Peg boards were filled front to back and never seemed to be empty.

So many Joes...

There was every Star Wars toy, He-man would call you to Castle Greyskull, G.I Joe’s were poised and ready for epic battles in your backyard and Optimus Prime and his fellow Autobots stood ready to transform and roll out with you.

"Is this heaven?"

These beautiful, wonderful isles of toys were always the place I ran to first when I got into the store. My grandmother would shout for me to stop or slow down, but nothing could keep me from these isles of magnificence!

This kid is clearly on a shopping spree. Lucky bastard!

The video game isle was a treasure trove of the store. Plastic title cards for every console were plastered up and down the isle. On the front of the card was a cover image for the game. When you flipped the card up, you would find images and a description of the game. To choose the game you wanted, you would pull a pirce ticket using Toys R Us' unique ticket system.

The ticket system was simple; grab a ticket, go to the register and pay, then pick up your item from the "cage," located at the front of the store or from the back if you were picking up bigger items, like bikes, swing sets, etc. When you approached the "cage" you would hand your ticket over to the employee behind the glass(I always enjoyed peeking into the cage and seeing all the games arranged on the shelves). The employee would retrieve your game and pass it back to you through the window. With game in hand, a big grin on your face, you'd bounce happily out the exit doors and onto gaming bliss!

Tickets, please.

Did you know Toy R US used to hold weekend events! Anyone remember Character Day?

Character Day was a chance for kids to meet their heroes. Actors or maybe it was employees, would dress up like Spiderman, Wonder Woman, Darth Vader and other various heroes and villains and pose with kids for pictures. 

They did this once or twice a year in the early 80’s. There wasn’t much more to it than that other than if you were lucky you got to pick out a toy while there.

"Oh my god it's Darth Vader!" is what I probably said.

When I graduated high school I got a job at my local Toys R Us. I worked there a year before going to college and during the summer breaks. Even though I was older, I still loved being around toys. I worked on the floor or sometimes as a cashier, but I really enjoyed working in the warehouse retrieving items for customers and unloading trucks. The advantage of unloading TRU trucks was being able to see new toys before they hit the shelves. That was an advantage as a toy collector. During my employment, The Power Rangers were the hottest toys out. Everyone was scrambling to get them. Occasionally customers would drop some extra cash your way if you brought them a box from the warehouse.

Toys R Us changed its store layout in the 90’s to an organic layout and got rid of the long isles. It was an effort to lose the warehouse vibe and fit more in with the newer toy shops popping up at the time. It is my personal opinion that this is when they started to lose the magic. I remember feeling different walking into a Toys R Us once they changed. That’s hard to explain, but something about seeing toys tower over you was more exciting than the adopted the more spread out look. Here in Los Angeles near my home I discovered a Toys R Us that has a floor layout very close to the stores in the 80's. I love going into that store because I feel a piece of childhood. It’s sad to think of that store closing. I went there just the other day after hearing the announcement just to walk around and look. Toys R Us is something special to me. It’s a big part of my childhood, but nothing last forever and it’s time to say goodbye. 

As a Dad of two boys I’ve brought my kids to Toys R Us several times. While I would run to the action figure isles when I was their age, they run for the Legos. We all had/have our happy toys. Even in my 40’s I still go to the action figure isles to see what’s there. I still get happy to see shelves filled with toys. The magic of my childhood memories of Toys R Us still lives in me. I’m a Toys R Us kid at heart and always will be!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween Parties

I love Halloween parties! I love throwing one most of all.

It's been 3 years since I threw my last Halloween party. Every year I'm asked if I'm having another, but having my kids makes it more challenging so I haven't had time or energy. However next year I think I will do another. It's been too long!


As you can see I tend to go all out. Full bar, catered food, costume contest, DJ, dancing, scares. It's all a very memorable night.

I hosted this party at the Redondo Castle which is owned by the lovely magician, Sisuephan Phila! She also preformed magic during the party.

On this last day of October as you embark on your Trick or Treating or to a costume party, let's toast those individuals that go the extra mile to make Halloween more than just putting on a costume and candy.

Happy Halloween everyone! Until next year...Bwhahahahaa

Tonight's movie is Halloween 1978

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Monster Sketches

I love monsters and I'm an artist, so it would make sense that I would draw monsters from time to time. Halloween is all about monsters so I wanted to share them with you. These are some early designs from a  personal project I am working on.

The ghost's expression makes me smile.

I see the creature being voiced by Tommy Chong.

Frankie here reminds me of some art I used to dig in the 70's

 I love Mr. Hyde.

Tonight's movie is The Re-Animator

Monday, October 27, 2014

Disney Halloween

One of the great things about the Halloween season is when Disney;and changes the decor to reflect the celebration of Halloween.

I love seeing all the jack-o-lanterns sprinked around the park and the changes on some of the rides which includes a complete shift of the Haunted Mansion into a entirely themed Nightmare Before Christmas haunted attraction and Space Mountain becoming Ghost Galaxy!

A few years ago I started an annual tradition with my family to go on the last week in October. We went this past Saturday and had a blast despite an insane crowd. I only took one picture which was of me and my oldest son playing inside the caves of Tom Sawyer(Not Pirate) Island. It was a great day and this was certainly one of the highlights even if its wasn't specifically Halloween themed. They certainly could deck those caves out more for Halloween!

Tonight's movie is Hellraiser

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Halloween @lootcrate

Today I got my box from LootCrate. I signed up a couple of weeks ago when I saw they were doing a Halloween themed crate. I wasn't sure what to expect but I was happy once I got the box. It was like it was my birthday!

When I opened the box it had a cool Zombie Shack background themed around Dead Rising.

I started digging in and see this cool T-Shirt. Cat skull...funny!

A book that looks like it will be a fun read!

There were lots of other little gems, but I had only taken this photo of the loot. It also included; A Walking Dead comic with an exclusive cover for Loot Crate customers, Loot Crate magazine with a 3D cover to look at with a neat pair of 3D specs, a cute little zombie print of Merle and Daryl Dixon from the Walking Dead that says "Oh, Brother", some zombie bite tattoos, and a Dead Rising toy weapon that also is a pen, and a little button and sour candy bite.

For my first crate I was pleasantly surprised. My wife called it junk, but to me it's little treasures! It makes you feel like a kid. Everyone loves packages! She missed the point. But that's OK. I think she's just jealous. :) 

Tonight's movie is Day of the Dead

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Scary Pranks

There's nothing like a good prank. It's even better when its a intentional scary prank! I would love to see any of my family members in these situation, but especially my sister and my cousin. Enjoy!

Tonight's movie is Dawn of the Dead

Salem's Lot

There are very few movie that frighten me, but only one that truly terrifies me still to this day. That movie is the 1979, Stephen King adaptation of Salem's Lot. Made exclusively for TV, this was a true feat in mini series events. The film was directed by Toby Hooper who directed films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Poltergeist.

This is not a specific Halloween movie, although its perfect for watching during a dark night in October. I was four years old when this movie was on TV, but I actually saw it when I was in second grade when I was around seven or eight. The movie is about a small New England town that comes to be overrun by vampires. The hero Ben Mears, a writer, returns to his home town just as the events begin to unfold and he sets out to save what's left of the small community.

 This movie looks dated now, but that adds to the vibe. The story line is very solid and so is the acting. The vampire make-up in this is still to me some of the best vamp make-up ever done. The eyes are horrific. They aren't pretty. They look hideous. They are the undead though so whatever look the coolest. No glamour at all. I can't believe my parents let me watch this! It literally gave me nightmares for a couple of years.

I'll admit that the nostalgia of this film helps hold me, but I still love the movie now just as then. And talk about getting willies! Just seeing a few scene gives me chills and I remember that seven year old kid laying on the living room floor watching this movie and being scared beyond the norm.

Tonight's movie is of course Salem's Lot