Thursday, October 15, 2015

Found Out Way More Information Than Anyone Could Possibly Care About that 1965 Slurp Stuffed Animal.

So, a little over five years ago I wrote (what I thought was) a throwaway blog post on this oddball stuffed animal from the 1960s called "Slurp" that I found at a thrift store. It was pretty difficult to find anything, but some Googling showed that it was produced by a company called Spectacular Products. Spectacular Products folded at some point and became Princess Soft Toys, a more traditional stuffed animal manufacturer that was a frequent staple of hospital and tourist trap gift shops. Since the writing of the original blog post, Princess Soft also dissolved in a complete mess of financial shenanigans. But that's neither here nor there.

Apparently that blog post has been finding it's way around various internet collectible fora, being the only post laying out any sort of history for the thing. Not sure if it was through that forum or just Google or what, but a particularly resourceful collector of these toys tracked me down from that blog post, contacting me through my Google+ profile attached to this site. We did some haggling, and unfortunately couldn't reach a price we were both comfortable with for me to part with my Slurp (yes I still have the weird little thing). In the meantime, however, I managed to goad some background information about them.
"These were made by an old company in my home town. Cannon Falls Minnesota. The company name was Spectacular Products. That's my reason for the interest. Some people collect them because they were made in the 60's - hippie era.

Some of the local high school kids who had a small band in the 60's, probably influenced by beatnik music, like Dylan and the Beatles were, worked at this company making the Slurps. I'll see if I can dig up an old photo of the band. They played at local fairs, and eventually went off to Viet Nam. One was killed.

I was born in 1960 and had a slurp as a kid. Have no idea what I ever did with it. Some of my friends still have their original Slurps.  I have about six. I know there's a guy in my hometown, a year older than me, who very seriously collects them. I've heard stories."
Unfortunately, I never got to hear any further about these "stories", but the potential buyer did tip me off with this Youtube video of the band discussed in the anecdote.  They were called The Shades, and get a load of their wicked station wagon. 

Apparently members of this band worked in the factory hand-stitching these toys. It's entirely possible that one of them hand-stiched the one I still own, the company was just starting and most accounts say there were between 8-10 employees when they rolled out this toy as their first product.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

My Girlfriend Chloe Sagal's Game "Virus Jigglin' Fever" Got Greenlit On Steam!

Last weekend, the Steam community greenlit Virus Jigglin Fever; a game designed by my girlfriend Chloe Sagal. It's a retro-style game: part Arkanoid, part Dr.Mario, where the Hazmat-suited player attempts to quarantine and eliminate virus outbreaks. It's also available for Android on the Google Play Store. If you want to contribute to help Chloe create more projects like this, please consider donating to her Patreon.

New Storify Account To Archive My Livetweets Of Dumb 80s Movies/Cartoons.

So hey, in case you wanted a glimpse of my social media feed that isn't me grumbling about social justice/gender stuff or picking fights with minor celebrities/politicians or whatever, I put together a Storify account specifically for nerdy stuff. It has livetweets of 1980s cartoons and movies (like The Golden Child and the G.I.Joe animated film) and also a master thread for production-related tweets about my upcoming video game project "Never Go To Work".

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Overworld Map For The Game Dragon Half On PC-Engine

It took forever, and isn't perfect (one day I may sit down and remove all the move counters, characters, and such from it), but I put together a full overworld map for the eccentric Dragon Half board game/RPG for PC Engine Super CD.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Harbinger Monthly - Mid-1990s Anime Disk Magazine.

 Going through the pile of 3.25 floppies I have lying around, I stumbled across this guy from 1994. Like the label says, the disk contains Issue 12 of Harbinger Monthly, which was an anime-dedicated diskmag that I had ordered when in high school. Unfortunately, I couldn't get much of it to run after installation:

 Really tho, the software part of it was just fancy curation; the meat was all in files that could be pried open with a text editor. On each disk was a series of articles that included reviews, release dates and plot synopses for various anime series.

It also included video game tricks, codes, and ratings for various anime-styled games as well as grainy screencaps of various cartoons. It even had a pretty cool soundtrack, in the form of module-formatted tracks that would play in the background. It also included quirky rantings from the curator, who called himself KarNage (who you can see talking about Vampire Hunter D  and Bubble Gum Crisis in these archived 20 year old anime group threads).

Just a little, awkward piece of pre-Web 1.0 filesharing I had lying around I wanted to put out there.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Some (Sad) Photos From When I Sold My Retro Video Game Collection.

In the summer of 2013, I completely relocated from Austin, Texas to Portland, Oregon. In the process I gave away and/or sold the majority of my possessions. Amongst said possessions was my retro game collection I'd been acquiring/holding onto since the mid-1990s. According to the timestamp on the phone pics; I took in the games on August 16, 2013. And the above is only part of it. Sorting through it all required all of the available counter-space at the North Austin Game Over videogames location.

It included sytems, games, and accessories for SNES, Genesis, Turbografx-16, Atari 2600 (with 150+ games), Sega Master System, Gameboy, and TI-99/4A (with games, controllers, and text-to-speech synthesizer). I'd already sold my NES with games and accessories directly to a friend earlier that month. It's really difficult to decide whether this or selling my record collection hurt worse. But hey, a fresh start, and emulators are getting fancier all the time.

Procedural Room And Corridor Dungeon Generation For Roguelike Games.

Over at the blog of Bob Nystrom (author of Game Programming Patterns) he has an article discussing the finer points of randomized dungeon generation. He covers stuff that has frustrated me before in roguelikes, namely the randomization placing objects or even the protagonist in rooms with no exits, effectively ending the game. He also covers balancing corridors (like, hallways and such) with rooms to create more dynamic dungeons. It also gets under the hood of randomized dungeon generation, comparing and contrasting various generators. The article includes several active examples that generate completely random dungeons every time you click to illustrate the points. Really cool stuff.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Magazine Article About Controlling A Model Train Set With A TRS-80

In my recent jaunts to Portland's outlet warehouse stores  I wound up with a stack of old model railroad magazines from the 1960s through the 1980s... because of course I did. Flipping through them, they are detail-intensive and super esoteric, which means they're perfect for this blog. Unfortunately, I cannot even try to care enough about model railroading to this degree. However, this article "Computerization Of The Great Southern" in the March 1983 issue of Model Railroader caught my eye because it intersected with 1980s retro-computing, which *is* something I give half a crap about.

The article features Lorell Joiner (who apparently died in 2007) discussing the computerization of his Great Southern Railroad model. As you can see from the photo, the equipment involved is a TRS-80 computer. Apparently the Great Southern was kind of a legendary big deal in the model railroad world, and certainly looks like no joke:

The article doesn't go into any of the program code or anything, but does detail the engineering aspect of it using those awesome programming flowcharts that used to be all over computer programming books from the 1980s.


Cool Nerdy Clash At Demonhead Fan Art


While doing research for a different project I'm working on for my main website, I stumbled across these cool notebook sketches by 8-Bit City detailing various entities and events from the game Clash At Demonhead (which I wrote about for Cracked five years ago). I particularly like this map; it reminds me a lot of video-game related sketches I used to make in my notebooks as a kid. The post appears to be a companion to this game-play log.

The blog also has scans of Nintendo Power's four-page piece from Issue 10 about CaD (which included character and monster names not in the instruction manual).