Welcome to Dan Alexander Dizmentia

Welcome to Dan Alexander Dizmentia
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Bad Biker Kitties Are On The Prowl

Bad Biker Kitties Are On The Prowl
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Formula Juan Racer: Numero Uno!

Formula Juan Racer: Numero Uno!
A Real Wild Juan

Baby Formula Juan Racer

Baby Formula Juan Racer
Juan Year Old

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Orlando's Animatronic Bird Shopping Center: The Tiki Room Mall

Animatronic Birds Perform at Orlando's old Mercado Shopping Center

You can find gifts big and you can find gifts small at Orlando's Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Mall!

Way back in the Summer of 1987, I got to spend a week with my parents at a condo in Orlando, Florida.  We spent multiple days at SeaWorld on this trip (we got a good deal) as well as a visit to Epcot and the Disney Village Marketplace.  We spent a great deal of time seeing things around Orlando, including some Outlet Malls, restaurants, and a shopping center with an animatronic bird show.

In the early 1980s, animatronic shows were all the rage.  They were in pizza places and amusement centers everywhere.

I will never forget these birds singing "Put the Lime in the Coconut".  What I have forgotten is the name of the mall, where it was exactly, and what stores we visited.  Does the mall still exist? (No).  Are the birds still performing somewhere?  I like to think that someone in Orlando has them on display in their living room.

Update:  Thanks to Bobby Bickert, we can now identify the mall as the Mercado Mediterranean Shopping Village (opened in 1986).  It looks like the birds ended up flying the coop.  According to Bobby:

When I was in Orlando in the fall of 1987, one of the places I visited was a then-new shopping center called Mercado. I don't remember there being any singing animatronic birds there, but I did some Google searching, and that's where they were!


Unfortunately not only is Mercado closed (apparently nearly a decade ago), it's also been demolished.

So now we now we know the rest of the story.  Looks like the Mercado birds met the same fate as the Showbiz Pizza Place robots.

The former Mercado site is now the home of the Orlando Eye complex (now called the "Coca-Cola Orlando Eye").

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Remember Woodstock: The Peanuts Bird Is The Word

The Charles M. Schulz Peanuts comic strip debuted in 1950.  Snoopy's bird friend, Woodstock, was introduced in 1966 (though he was not named "Woodstock" until later---and yes, he was named after the famous music festival).  By the time Snoopy and Woodstock were a team, the focus of the Peanuts empire of merchandise shifted to the adventures of Snoopy and his little yellow friend.  Woodstock has always been a favorite of mine (I like his spiky hair, especially on this puppet that I've had since I was a kid).

Woodstock, like Snoopy, has been incredibly popular in plush toy form. (This particular vintage version, which is similar to my puppet, can stand up!).

For many years, only the animal Peanuts stars were transformed into stuffed toys.

Aviva made lots of Woodstock (and Snoopy) toys in the 70s and 80s.

In addition to wind-up toys, Aviva sold Snoopy cars.  LOTS of cars.

Snoopy cars outnumber any other character.  But Woodstock is next in line.

These days, the Peanuts gang can be found in Cedar Fair amusement parks across the United States.  "Planet Snoopy" and "Camp Snoopy" sections of the parks feature rides, most of which are themed to Snoopy or Woodstock.

These cars are some of the rare toys from the time that feature Snoopy's human co-stars.

Merchandise gave the characters a life of their own.

Flying Trapeze toys used to be all the rage.

There is something hilarious to me about this Woodstock toy.

Trapeze Woodstock is kinda buff.

Woodstock: Now with Climbing String Action.

Woodstock toys that chirp and flap their wings was a thing for some time.

In addition to a hard plastic Flapping Woodstock, there was a feathered version.

This is hilarious.

One of the most interesting characters in Peanuts Merchandising History is Belle.  Belle is the "girl Snoopy".  Belle is Snoopy's sister, but many people probably thought she was Snoopy's girlfriend.  Snoopy and Belle were kind of the Donny and Marie Osmond of Peanuts toys.  Belle was a very minor character, but toy companies latched on to her, turning Belle into a superstar of toys.

Snoopy and Belle took on Barbie and Ken, entering the world of fashion dolls in a 1980s toy line called "Snoopy & Belle".  The dogs were given new, clothing-friendly proportions and an extensive wardrobe.

Look out, Barbie.  There's a new b*tch in town.  A literal b*tch.  And her name is Belle.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Pandora GO: AVATAR Creatures, I Choose You! Gotta Catch Em All At Disney's Animal Kingdom!

When it was announced in 2011 that Disney's Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida would be getting a world of Pandora from the 2009 James Cameron FOX film AVATAR, many critics questioned the partnership.

Online arguments have raged non-stop on Disney and theme park sites since 2011.  One of the more interesting discussions has been about merchandise.  There are people who seem truly baffled about what Disney could make into Pandora souvenirs.

These people lack imagination.

The 2015 AVATAR Warrior's Journey game could present some clues about toy lines for Pandora.

Warrior's Journey looks like it is ready to be an animated TV series.  Your Navi is ready to ride a Direhorse for some adventure tracking down critters.

Or maybe you feel like flying.  Just hop on a Banshee and go!

The Warrior's Journey game did not take flight.  But the game did expand on the world of AVATAR quite a bit.

Could AVATAR be Disney's answer to Pokemon?  Artwork from the game's creature designer, Tay Jing Wen, seems to indicate that the answer is yes.

Gotta catch 'em all!

These creatures seem ready-made to be toys.

Collect all 500 different color possibilities!

They even glow in the dark!

Oh, and they are interactive, too!

It is easy to imagine a Pokemon Go type gaming element involving the AVATAR creatures in Disney's Animal Kingdom.

The merchandising opportunities seem limited only by imagination.

You must find all the creatures in the game using your phone.  It will take you all day racing around the park.

You'll be in Animal Kingdom so long that you will be there to see Pandora lit up at night.

And at night, you'll be able to find exclusive nocturnal creatures.

I'm guessing.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Opryland's Instruments of Mass Destruction

Once upon a time in Nashville, Tennessee there was an amusement park called Opryland USA.  The musical themed attraction featured shows, rides, and in the early years, cartoon instrument mascots.

Opryland's characters included Johnny Guitar, Jose Mandolin, Yancey Banjo, Delilah Dulcimer, Barney Bass and Frankie Fiddle.

These characters were long gone by the time I made my first visit to Opryland in 1985.  I think they are very charming.  And really bizarre.  In a good way.

Opryland opened in 1972.  The park went through many changes over the years.

For this Opryland map, only three of the instrument characters were used, which is interesting.

Opryland's mascots looked sort of like a mash-up of the characters from a McDonald's Playland and the world of Sid and Marty Krofft TV shows like H.R. Pufnstuf and Lidsville.

I imagine plenty of children were terrified of these characters.

This postcard has a copyright of 1976, and was written in 1981.  Opryland's instrument mascots were gone by 1982.

The "Big G" General Mills Cereal characters (like the Honey Nut Cheerios Bee and Count Chocula) became Opryland's mascots by 1982.

The instruments appeared on some groovy early Opryland merchandise.

It looks like the Soul Train made a stop in Opryland.

Barney Bass looks rather grotesque here.  There.  I said it.

Yancey Banjo is really cool and suave.  It's the mustache.

Delilah Dulcimer seems like a Mae West kind of character.

Frankie and Barney really are giving off a Spongebob Squarepants vibe here.

Sadly, Opryland closed in 1997.  The amusement park is gone, but the Opryland Hotel continues to operate very successfully.

Did the spurned Opryland instruments orchestrate the closure of the park?  Did they regret playing second fiddle to the Trix Rabbit?  Were they fired because they played themselves in public all the time?  We'll never know, because they are out of tune and have been silenced forever.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Buried Treasure Planet: Unreleased Disney Wild Racers

Disney Wild Racers Treasure Planet John Silver
Recently I was the victim of eBay sniping.  At literally the last second of the auction, a bloodthirsty pirate took away my chance at getting a highly coveted collectible that I'd known about for years, but never seen.  A John Silver Treasure Planet Disney Wild Racer.

What is interesting is that this particular eBay auction listed the car as "BEN" (the obnoxious robot) from Treasure Planet.  This car is clearly not BEN, it is Silver.  It is Silver's arm as a car.

The popular Disney Racers die cast car collection started out as "Disney's Wild Racers" made by Hasbro back in 2002.  The cars were sold at toy stores and retail giants like Walmart.

New waves of Disney Wild Racers were announced, but never released.  Among those announced was a set of cars for Disney's 2002 animated film, Treasure Planet.

The Treasure Planet set was going to feature BEN and Silver.  I have to admit this Silver car looks better than I ever imagined.

There was also an eBay auction for a different, unpainted prototype version of the Silver car.

I lost that auction, too.

The unpainted Silver car is pretty slick, too.

It's not surprising that the Silver car was never released.  Treasure Planet did not do well at the box office, and the Disney Wild Racers line was discontinued at toy stores.  Luckily, the line became Disney Racers and continues to be sold at Disney theme parks.

Another unreleased Disney Wild Racer is Buster the dog.

You mean you've never heard of Buster the dog?

Buster was the villain in the 2001 movie Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure.

This car would have been the rare exception of a Disney Racer based on a Direct to Video Movie character.

I'm guessing Buster was the victim of a shift in marketing strategies for Lady and the Tramp II.

It is rather shocking that another Disney dog did not make it past the prototype stage.

Zero Disney Wild Racer

Zero the dog (with Skeleton Jack) from The Nightmare Before Christmas seem like they'd sell like crazy during the Haunted Mansion Holiday season at Disneyland in California.

It looks like Zero would have been similar to the "invisible" Cheshire Cat Disney Racers.

Dr. Finkelstein from The Nightmare Before Christmas was also made into a prototype Disney Racer.

Dr. Finkelstein also seems like a no-brainer to sell at Disneyland.

Jack, Oogie Boogie, Zero and Finkelstein could sell really well as a boxed set.

Rex and Woody had been announced many years ago as a set for Disney Wild Racers.

Eventually, Woody was released at the Disney Parks.

Given how many Toy Story character Disney Racers have been made, I'm rather shocked that Rex was never produced.

I failed to get any of these Unreleased Disney Racers when they were being sold on eBay.

By 2016, the Disney Racers line has morphed and grown into something very different. Star Wars and Marvel are the big focus now, which isn't that shocking, because they sell.

The search continues for more buried Treasure Planet Disney Racers...