Tag Archives: Sgt. Rock

Throwback Thursday: “The Last Unicorn” (1982)

“The Last Unicorn” (1982) is an 80’s film that you don’t hear quite as much about in nostalgia circles.  My sister took me to see it in the theater when I was in second or third grade.  It probably wasn’t the first choice of a movie for a kid whose heroes were Sgt. Rock, Conan the Barbarian, and Ka-Zar the Savage.  (Seriously, I read a looooot of comics as a little boy.)  But my sister was the one with the car keys.

Come to think of it, there might have been a dearth of options.  If memory serves (the 80’s were a very long time ago), there were generally fewer films at the local multiplex for the younger set.  “The Last Unicorn” might have been the only children’s movie that happened to be playing.  (I think the market has expanded quite a bit since then.)  I really liked it, though.

“The Last Unicorn” had a hell of a voice cast — including Alan Arkin, Christopher Lee and Mia Farrow.  The animation (to my eyes, at least) looks like strictly average stuff — except for the title unicorn and the monster antagonist.  Those look quite good; they look fluid and natural.  The backdrops are pretty good too.

The monster’s name here is “The Red Bull,” which is probably funny now, given the eponymous modern energy drink.

 

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Throwback Thursday: January 1, 1980 magazine covers

I hope that you are all looking forward to a rockin’ New Year’s Eve.  It’s hard to believe that we are not only ringing in a new year, but also a new decade — “2020” still sounds like science fiction to me.

Where does the time go?  Somewhere irretrievable.

Anyway, here’s a couple of Pinterest finds for my fellow 1980’s nostalgia nerds.  (We’ve got a nice little subculture goin’ on Facebook.)  These are a few covers from January 1, 1980 (or in the case of the weekly TV Guide, the decade’s first full week).  Try to wrap your head around the fact that, in a few days, the decade will have begun a full forty years ago.

Oh … I couldn’t resist throwing in a couple of comic book covers dated January 1980, too.  I actually had that issue of “Battlestar Galactica.”  I still remember it sitting in a stack at the bottom of my closet, with one or two others — vastly outnumbered by “Sgt. Rock” and various “Archie” titles.

 

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Throwback Thursday: 1980’s “Sgt. Rock!”

DC Comics’ “Sgt. Rock” was far harder stuff than the “G.I Joe” comics and toys that are more often associated with the 1980’s.  They were the darkest and most violent comic books I read when I was a young kid, except maybe for the various “Conan” books.  Hasbro relaunched “G.I. Joe” in 1982 concurrently with its toy line, and it was a famously kid-safe (and lucrative) franchise.  “Sgt. Rock,” in contrast, consisted of brutal stories that focused on the horrors of war — it was really more of a cultural holdover from the comics of the prior two decades.  (The title began as “Our Army at War” in 1959.)

I loved these comics — especially the larger “annuals” with lengthier stories.  Nothing was better than “Sgt. Rock” and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.  What occasionally puzzled me as a second-grader was that none of the other boys I knew seemed to be reading them — although a lot of other kids certainly hopped on the “G. I. Joe” bandwagon.

The last one pictured below, from 1981, was my favorite.  If memory serves, it was the first one I ever owned.

 

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Throwback Thursday: Hasbro’s “G.I. Joe” action figures (1982)!

I swear to you — one of the coolest parts of being a kid in the 1980’s was Hasbro’s “G. I. Joe.” I’m referring to the three-and-three-quarter-inch action figures that launched in 1982.  (The 80’s toys that most of us remember shared their name with other, mostly unrelated, Hasbro military toys of the 1960’s and 70’s.  Believe it or not, I’m actually old enough to remember the 70’s toys, as my older brother had a few — they were eight and half inches tall, and they looked more like conventional dolls.)

The expansive 1982 toy line was a successful marketing juggernaut.  If I had to guess, I’d say that Hasbro looked at Kenner’s astonishing surprise moneymaker with “Star Wars” figures four years earlier, and decided to exploit that business model with its own fictional universe.  Once the toy line got rolling, Hasbro developed the “G.I. Joe” cartoon that every 80’s kid remembers, as well as videogames and an ongoing comic book series.  (The comics were produced by Marvel.)

The TV show was … atrocious.  As awesome as the 80’s were, the decade had its artistically bankrupt pop-culture ventures, too.  And that cartoon was saccharine, mass produced entertainment at its lowest level.  (Please, Millennials, if you ever see clips of that show, do not judge the superlative toys by it.)

The videogame (or the one that I saw my friends playing as a kid, anyway) seemed decent enough for the time.  I only got a glimpse of the comic once.  (I was usually reading “Conan”, or “Sgt. Rock.”)  From what little I saw, that “G.I. Joe” comic was damned good.  There were two brothers on the next block who owned all manner “Joe” merchandise, and they showed me the one where Snake Eyes (the good ninja) and Storm Shadow (the evil ninja) teamed up, for some reason.  There was a two-page splash of them leaping across a room at some incongruously mutual enemy, and the artwork was pretty damned sweet.

The toys were downright wicked.  (That’s 80’s slang.)  They were the same size as Star Wars figures (as well as toys like the “Micronauts” and “Adventure People” before them), but they were far more articulated, and had more weapons and accessories.  The packaging each figure came with had a colorful “dossier” on the back, with all sorts of detailed information about the character’s background and military expertise (like espionage, martial arts, jungle warfare, desert warfare, etc.).  These were written by none other than the comic book industry’s own Larry Hama, who also created the comic book series.  Strangely, there was one Joe whose area of specialty was simply “infantry.”  (That would be “Footloose,” the fourth guy down in the photos below.)

I loved these toys.  They combined my childhood love of poseable “Star Wars” figures with my childhood love of war toys.  I had all the ones that you see below, and many, many more.  Good times.

 

 

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1985 GIJoe Footloose Complete

1985 GIJoe Dusty Complete1985 GIJoe Quick Kick Complete

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1985 GIJoe Cobra Snow Serpent Complete

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Throwback Thursday: 80’s Wolverine posters!

The first of the posters you see below was created in 1987 with art by Art Adams; the second in 1989 with art by Mike Zeck.  (Is there something ironic about an artist named “Art?”)  These definitely bring back 90’s memories for me, though — I remember looking them on my friends’ dorm room walls at Mary Washington College.  (The Adams’ piece that popped up in the dorms might have been different; there are several variations of the image, and I seem to remember an all-black background.)

That would have been the Spring of 1991, toward the end of my freshman year.  It was just before I’d really discovered superhero comics, even though I’d grown up with Sgt. Rock, Indiana Jones, Conan the Barbarian and Archie.  I thought costumed heroes were generally a stupid idea; not even the Batman craze after the Tim Burton’s 1989 film attracted me to the genre.  (Burton’s film was actually considered quite groundbreaking at the time; this was long before Christopher Nolan’s amazing work eclipsed it and its sequels.)

I didn’t even know who Wolverine was.  (Trust me, I was fully converted to both Marvel and DC fandom during my sophomore year.)  I remember listening to a classmate muse about the image of Wolverine fighting Captain America — if Wolvey’s adamantium claws could cut through anything, and Cap’s adamantium shield couldn’t be broken, how would the melee depicted play out?  (Yes, I’ve long since learned that Cap’s shield is made of vibranium; I’m just not sure if that’s a retcon or not.)

 

 

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Throwback Thursday: Celebrating the 5th of July!!

We actually have two holidays in a row coming up, because the 5th of July is celebrated by expeditious suburban 8-year-olds everywhere.  Or, at least, it was a big deal to me in the 1980’s.

When I was a kid, I discovered a lovely truth about life very early on — adults partying in the street after dark sometimes dropped things and did not pick them.  This includes things that kids are not supposed to have — including fireworks.

Until the day I die, I will never forget the smell of spent firecracker powder in the air of a July 5th morning.  (That almost sounded like an “Apocalypse Now” joke.)  To a boy like me, it was the smell of sweet, sweet opportunity.  I was a habitual early riser, and I annually ran right past my “Sgt. Rock” comic books to grab my bike and scour the neighborhood.

Among the burnt black smears in the street and the spent, discarded “Roman Candles,” there were inevitably a few fireworks that weren’t lit off.  You needed a good eye, as a kid — spent, burnt fireworks littered the ground like confetti, and you had to look carefully for those with fuses.

There were always “Black Cats” or “TNT’s” to be found — those were just plain, regular firecrackers.  But they still brought a hell of a lot of joy to a pre-teen, and you couldn’t beat the price.  (Bear in mind, Virginians, that the sale of fireworks is illegal in New York, so they were much harder for a young boy to find.  My family always somehow laid hands on a few pack of firecrackers or “Jumping Jacks,” but they weren’t exactly plentiful.)

I found larger pieces, too, when I was very lucky.  The crown of my collection was a perfect, unlit M-80 that somebody had dropped.

I realize that all of this sounds vaguely pathetic.  But I was an opportunist, and Netflix hadn’t been invented yet.