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Friday, July 30, 2010

The Goof Troop Always Sticks Together

The animated Disney TV series "Goof Troop" previewed on The Disney Channel in Spring of 1992 before heading to The Disney Afternoon in syndication and Saturday mornings on ABC later in the Fall.  The show starred Goofy (Bill Farmer) as the father of a wild son named Max (the late Dana Hill, who played Audrey in "National Lampoon's European Vacation").  Goofy, Max, and their cat, Waffles (Frank Welker, meowing) lived in a town called Spoonerville.  Goofy's next door neighbor was longtime Disney villain Pete (Jim Cummings) here cast as a used car salesman.  Pete has had lots of different names over the years, like Peg Leg Pete and Pistol Pete.  Walt Disney TV Animation had some fun with that, and named Pete's wife Peg (April Winchell, famous for voicing Baby Herman and Mrs. Herman in the Roger Rabbit films), and his daughter Pistol (Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart Simpson).  Pete's pudgy son, PJ (Rob Paulsen, "Mr. Opportunity" on the Honda commercials), also happened to be Max's best friend.  The Pete family also had a dog named Chainsaw (Frank Welker, barking).

As Disney Animation fans know, the idea of Goofy with a son was not new.  Goofy had a red-headed son named Junior in quite a few cartoons in the 1950s, like the 1951 short, "Fathers Are People."  Pete had a son in the 1942 Donald Duck cartoon, "Bellboy Donald."  The kids in those shorts were brats, so luckily they were revamped for "Goof Troop."

Goofy and some of the "Goof Troop" cast later starred in  "A Goofy Movie" and other projects.

Merchandise for "Goof Troop" was kind of rare.  These Gibson Greetings stickers are from 1992, but I think I got them in 1994.  I like the character designs used here, which are a little different from the TV show.

These days, you can find CGI versions of Goofy and Pete (now called Pete the Cat) on the Disney Channel's "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse."  Bill Farmer is still the voice of Goofy and Jim Cummings is still the voice of Pete.  On this series, vintage Disney character Clarabelle Cow is voiced by April Winchell.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Circus World and Universal Studios Florida On A Disney Map

My, how Orlando, Florida has changed!  The Walt Disney Travel Co. distributed this "Full Color Souvenir Guide" (produced by Landmarker) many years ago.  I can't find a year anywhere on it, but my guess is 1983 or 1986.  The artwork is great fun, and the map is gigantic.

The map is interesting because it features "Future MCA/Universal" (near the top) and the long-closed Circus World theme park.

Universal Studios Florida opened in Orlando in 1990.  Universal expanded with its Islands of Adventure in 1999.  The CityWalk shopping district links the two parks together.  Universal Orlando is a major theme park player, especially with its 2010 addition of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure.

Circus World opened in 1974 and shut down in 1986.  The owners of Sea World (at that time, Harcourt Brace and Jovanovich) bought Circus World and changed the theme, opening it in 1987 as Boardwalk and Baseball.  Sea World promoted Boardwalk and Baseball extensively, giving out free passes to families during some of the animal shows (they did this on my visit to Sea World in 1987).  In 1990, Busch Entertainment (Sea World's new owners then) closed down Boardwalk and Baseball.

Other highlights on the map include Sea World, Mystery Fun House, Wet N' Wild water park, Gatorland Zoo, and the Tupperware World Headquarters.
This is actually two maps in one!  The cartoon map is the "Sunseeker's Guide."  On the flip side, there's the "Navigator's Guide," which is strictly directional (and less fun).

Thanks to the Navigator's Guide, I am pretty sure that my family stayed at the Ramada Inn at Circus World (we did not visit Circus World, though) as part of our first visit to Walt Disney World back in 1981 (we did not get to visit the Magic Kingdom then, either----that's another story).

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Fraggle Rock Construction Zone (Doozers Welcome)

If you ever wanted to make your own stuffed versions of Red and Gobo Fraggle, just look for Butterick Fraggle Rock Patterns!  It may be tough to find them, because they were released in 1986 (with a 1985 copyright).  These actually look much better than the plush toys released by Tomy in the 1980s.  What's nice is that Red and Gobo are not clones here.  They do have different facial features, in addition to different costumes.

So what will you need to build these?
Styrofoam Balls to use for the construction of the eyes?  This does not sound very durable to me.  I guess these Fraggles are really meant to be decorations, not toys.  When I saw this pattern as a kid, I thought they'd suggest Ping Pong balls for the eyes.  I do like that "Ostrich-Like Feather Plumes" are to be used to make the hair.
Wow, this looks really complicated and frustrating.  If you can make something like this, I have great respect for you.
Butterick also made Sprocket the dog.  He also really looks fantastic!  I wonder what you need to build him?
Ooooh, more Ostrich feathers!  Nice!  Sadly, it looks like Butterick does not have the patience to teach us how to make a collar for Sprocket, as they instruct us to go and buy one at the store.  Is that laziness, or are they just realistic?
I wonder how many hours (or days, or months) it would take to make Sprocket?

I've never tried to make these, and don't know anyone that has.  It looks like it takes some serious sewing skills and quite a bit of patience!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Muppets Take Indianapolis

In 1985, I got to visit a special Jim Henson exhibit at the Indianapolis Children's Museum.  This was presented on the ground floor, and I believe it required separate admission.  There were all sorts of puppets on display, as well as documentaries, models, puppet materials, interactive exhibits, and a store!

The Muppet Babies from the 1984 film, The Muppets Take Manhattan, were some of the newer characters on display.
Here I am with Junior Gorg from Fraggle Rock.  This show was especially interesting to me.  During its initial run, Fraggle Rock was exclusive to HBO, which we did not have.  A visit to Indianapolis meant a visit to my grandparents, and they had HBO!  So this particular trip to Indiana was really great.
The Fraggles themselves could be seen here, too!  Here's Wembley, Gobo, Boober, Red and Mokey.  The songs for Fraggle Rock (written and composed by Philip Balsam and Dennis Lee) were simply brilliant.  I still have my Fraggle Rock album, but no record player (you can find the songs on iTunes).
A touch of a button activated motion in a Doozer construction site behind glass.  The Doozers were a technical marvel, utilizing radio-control puppetry.  In Fraggle Rock, the Doozers were constantly building their towers, which the Fraggles enjoyed knocking down and eating.
Another interactive display featured characters from the 1977 TV special, Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas.  This was also shown on HBO, and I remember watching this at my grandparents' house.  Visitors could press a button to make Emmet Otter and his Ma row their boat.  In 2008, Goodspeed Opera House adapted this special into a live musical, mixing costumed actors and puppets (it looked very impressive).  Seen in the background of this photo are puppets from Jim Henson's first TV series, Sam and Friends, which aired from 1955 to 1961 out of Washington D.C.
Seen here are Emmet's rivals from the Riverbottom Nightmare Band.  One of my favorite characters is the Catfish (seen here in a bucket on skis).  This puppet was manipulated immersed in water, and often spit on other characters.
I got Fraggle Rock PVC figurines from the Muppet Store at the Museum.  Pictured here are Pa Gorg, Ma Gorg, Red, Wembley, Gobo, Mokey and Boober.  These figures were made by a company called Schleich.  Junior Gorg was also part of this set (as was a Doozer) but the store did not have any to sell.  Schleich also produced PVC toys of the Muppets and the Smurfs many years ago.

I was very excited to visit this exhibit (I want to tell younger me to smile for the camera)!  There were also puppets on display from The Muppet Show, Sesame Street (Big Bird is huge!) and Saturday Night Live.  I felt really lucky to get to see this.  Get it?  Muppets?  Felt?  Wocka-wocka!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Disney's Animal Kingdom McDonald's Happy Meal

In 1998, McDonald's Happy Meals featured the newest Walt Disney World theme park in Florida, Disney's Animal Kingdom. The "New Species of Theme Park" was imagined as a celebration of all animals living, extinct and imaginary. Disney's Animal Kingdom is the largest Disney park in the world. The park's biggest attraction is the Kilimanjaro Safaris, which covers about 100 acres (the size of The Magic Kingdom Park).

When the park opened, the DinoLand U.S.A. section was sponsored by McDonald's. One of the eateries, Restaurantosaurus, featured a McDonald's menu.

There were even special Happy Meal toys sold (kind of) exclusively at Restaurantosaurus in Walt Disney World.

The Happy Meal toys sold at Restaurantosaurus were dinosaur water pistols.

These are actually "generic" dinosaur toy water guns.

However, the Disney ones do have the Disney's Animal Kingdom logo on them, so they are collector's items.

The Restaurantosaurus Happy Meal toys were available in different colors.

The T-Rex, Stegosaurus, Pterodactyl, and Triceratops water guns were not exclusive to Disney.  They were also featured in International McDonald's Happy Meal promotions.

 The big attraction in DinoLand was an attraction called "Countdown to Extinction." This featured dinosaurs from the 2000 Disney film "Dinosaur," and when the movie debuted, the name of the ride changed to "Dinosaur" (none of the characters ever spoke).

Disney's Animal Kindom Happy Meal featured 12 animal toys. There was a Triceratops, Toucan, Gorilla (with her baby), Elephant, Lemur, Dragon, Iguanodon, Zebra, Lion, Cheetah, Crocodile and Rhino. They all had different functions. The Elephant, for example, was a squirt gun, and the Zebra was a wind-up toy.

Wait a minute! There was one animal you could only get at McDonald's restaurants found inside Walmart stores. I only knew to look for the Tortoise because I had read about it online (this was way back in 1998, when the Internet was fairly new to me). So I made sure to visit a Walmart McDonalds to get one!

Disney's Animal Kingdom is famous for its ferocious fire-breathing dragon!

Well, it is famous because it does not exist at the park, yet it is featured in the Animal Kingdom logo. The park's Discovery River had a boat ride that floated past the park's "lands." Beastly Kingdomme was to be the home of mythical animals like dragons and unicorns. The land was supposed to feature a dragon-themed roller coaster, a unicorn-themed labyrinth, and a Fantasia-themed boat ride.

McDonald's promoted the Dragon on collectible Disney's Animal Kingdom plastic cups.

As part of a hint of the future, Disney Imagineers positioned a cave along the river, with fire shooting out at guests in the boats.

The dragon itself was never actually seen. The boat ride closed many years ago.

Here's a closer view of the Animal Kingdom Dragon toy.

It's 2010 and the park still doesn't have a dragon. Instead of the dragon roller coaster, the park got "Expedition Everest," a wonderful coaster featuring the Yeti, in 2006. This great attraction can be found in the Asia section of Disney's Animal Kingdom (Asia opened in 1999).

The dragon is still featured on Animal Kingdom's logo and front gate, and Disney character-based Animal Kingdom merchandise sold in the park features dragons Elliott and Madam Mim.

*UPDATE on March 27, 2013:

It's time to take a closer look at all the animals in the set.  Each toy has a special feature.  Up first is the Triceratops, representing Extinct Animals in the logo for Disney's Animal Kingdom.  This figure makes a "stomping" noise when you move him around.

Dinoland has a ride called the TriceraTop Spin (it's a dinosaur version of Dumbo).

Follow your nose to Animal Kingdom's Froot Loops cereal-loving Toucan.

This colorful bird has a chip that makes him chirp.

Gorillas were once portrayed as scary monsters (like King Kong).  Animal Kingdom's Gorilla and her Baby are friendly.

Squeeze the Gorilla's legs and she'll take her child for a spin.

The Elephant represents Real (Living) Animals in the logo for Disney's Animal Kingdom.

The Elephant is a water squirt toy.  He won't let you forget that this is my favorite toy in this set.

Did you ever see the movie "Fierce Creatures" (1997) starring John Cleese and Jamie Lee Curtis?  It had a cute Ring Tail Lemur like this guy.  "Fierce Creatures" took place in a zoo, but the slogan for Disney's Animal Kingdom was "Nahtazu" for years.

This Lemur is a Clip-On and would like to hang out with you wherever you go.

The Dragon represents Fantasy Animals in the logo for Disney's Animal Kingdom, and is easily the most popular and elusive and legendary animal that cannot be found at the park.

The Dragon's wings flap when you press a button on his chest.

The Iguanodon starred in Dinoland's "Countdown to Extinction" attraction, which was later renamed "Dinosaur" after the 2000 Disney film debuted.  An animatronic Iguanodon could also be seen on the Discovery River Boats.

The Iguanodon's mouth opens and closes when you move his tail.

The Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction at Disney's Animal Kingdom got a new finale with Zebras in 2012.

The Zebra gallops when you wind him up.

In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight.  And chances are good that the Lion will be sleeping in the day at Kilimanjaro Safaris.

The Lion's mouth opens and closes when you move his paw.

If you taped your Grandma to a Cheetah's back, she'd get to experience one of the fastest rides at Walt Disney World.

Naturally, this Cheetah toy is a pull-back racer.

Oh, snap!  Florida's gators better watch out for the Crocodile!

The Crocodile's mouth opens when you push on the back of his head.

One of the funniest stories I've heard about Disney's Animal Kingdom involves the Rhino at Kilimanjaro Safaris.  Apparently, when a four year old girl spotted the Rhino, she said "Look Mommy, it's a dinosaur!"  You can't make stuff like that up.

The Rhino is a pull back racer toy.

The shy Tortoise can be found near the Tree of Life at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

The Tortoise toy (he pops his head out of his shell a little) could only be found at McDonald's restaurants inside Walmart stores.

The McDonald's Animal Kingdom toys are fairly easy to find on eBay these days.

In Japan and other countries, a very different Disney's Animal Kingdom McDonald's Happy Meal was sold.

Each set featured a Disney character, an accessory, and a cardboard backdrop.

As with the American promotion, this set features Living, Extinct and Imaginary animals.

Minnie Mouse has a Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail friend.  Mickey Mouse drives a Kilimanjaro Safaris vehicle.

Goofy digs in the Boneyard with an Iguanodon at Dinoland U.S.A. (it would have been cuter to have Pluto here, I think).

Donald Duck encounters a fire-breathing cardboard dragon while piloting a Discovery River Boat.

The cardboard backdrops are pretty interesting.  The Dragon looks a bit like a crazed version of Figment from EPCOT.

This quirky Disney's Animal Kingdom McDonald's Happy Meal is simple, but fun.

UPDATE 9/24/11:  The future inhabitants of Disney's Animal Kingdom are out of this world!  Check out Disney's Animal Kingdom Thinks Outside Pandora's Box: James Cameron's AVATAR Land.

For more Animal Kingdom McDonald's Happy Meal fun, check out Disney's Animal Kingdom Pandora AVATAR McDonald's Happy Meal.

Pandora features a jungle full of colorful fantasy creatures.

At night, you can find some seriously dangerous party animals in the electric, illuminated jungles of Pandora.

Pandora, the World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom will be sponsored by Pandora Internet Radio (my suggestion).

No Spa'am!

For some reason, I'm getting hit with lots of spam lately.  It looks like spammers are setting up their own Blogger accounts, and disguising their links as comments.  I'm deleting spam comments every day.  So now I have to adjust my settings to approve comments, which I did not want to do.  I feel like a bouncer at a club!  I love getting comments from actual people, and I read all of them.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Toy Story 3's Bad Big Baby

I was recently given a Target Gift Card for my birthday, and today I decided to get to a Target store and put it to good use.  When I saw the display for Disney Pixar's Toy Story 3, and Big Baby, I could not resist buying this "Buddy Pack" from Mattel (it would have been awesome if the Buzz Lightyear in this package had been Spanish Buzz, because he and Big Baby were my favorite "new characters" in Toy Story 3).

I love that the Big Baby figurine even has his crayon-scribble tattoos.  I'm not sure if Big Baby's head spins around like it does in the film (a chilling scene!).

I absolutely love the character designs used for this collection.  So far, these two are the only figures I own.  The Action Links! sets look like fun (kind of like the Mouse Trap game).  If you collect these, you might want to know that Walmart has some exclusives (like a paint variation for Buttercup).

On this spending spree, I also bought Season Four of Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives on DVD and a case of Caffeine-Free Diet Coke.

I ended up spending all of the $30 Gift Card, and I owed Target 20 cents.