Space Angel – Part Two

Well, two months have passed and I figured it had been about 4 or 5 weeks since my last post. Today, I’m going to review some of the spaceships that populate the Space Angel series.

I really dig these ships – they not only fit together pretty well, but most seem like they could exist. Most of these ships are designed for vertical launch and landing on planets, and some can also land (and even launch) horizontally. None of the vessels is remotely close in size to something like Trek’s U.S.S. Enterprise … or even like Khan’s Botany Bay. The longest are +/- 125 feet in length. The space stations are much larger.

The “fighters” mostly seem to fire rockets from the nose area. One episode has the fighters of the Neptune squadron equipped with “megatomic” bombs – think planet busters. It’s worth remembering that Space Angel, like Star Trek, is primarily an analog for the world of the 1960’s. The United Planets is alternately like the United Nations or NATO, the Anthenians sometimes have a USSR feel to them, etc. If the 1960’s had atomic bombs that could destroy cities, then Space Angel has megatomic bombs that can destroy planets. You get the idea.

Starduster

First and foremost is Scott McLeod’s ship, the Starduster. It appears to be a singular vessel, and more powerful than just about everyhing else in space. It has lasers that can fire perpendicularly to the vessel, from above and below the cockpit and rocket launchers fore and aft (the aft launcher is atop the tail fin).

It is also equipped with:

Gyro gravity and equializer (i.e. artificial gravity)

Atomic engines (i.e. fusion or fission)

Radar and scanner beams (more precise than radar)

A magnetic boom for towing things (deployed from a hatch below the cockpit)

A cooling ray (called the BRB ray)

A small hangar bay for the Dart, a smaller, faster ship

A shielded room for avoiding radiation

A storage room two compartments away from the atomic engines

Landing legs that extend from the wings and tail

The ship later carries the Dart II, which is “a megatomic engine with a seat strapped to it). It has 10 million pounds of thrust – for comparison, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy has 3.4 million pounds of thrust.

Fighters

Each of the planetary squadrons appears to use a different type of spaceship.

Neptune Squadron has dart-shaped fighters. They show up the most often in the series, usually under the command of O’Hara, an old friend/rival of Taurus. These ships are also launched from the Space Force Complex 1 (a.k.a. Defense Complex 1).

Space Force Complex 1 is one of my favorite designs. It is a collection of spheres, situated mostly vertically, with four sphere’s jutting out from the forward central sphere and rear engine module. The spheres are large enough to hold several space fighters. It is located in solar orbit between Earth and Mars and is under the control of Commander Selkirk.

Pluto Squadron has some interesting, almost fish-like vessels. These patrol vessels are armed with rockets. They are based at Complex Core.

Jupiter Squadron has heavy launch vehicles that launch from ramps. It also operates some of the space fighters used by Neptune Squadron.

All of these vessels show up in the episode “Rescue Mission”. It’s one of the more realistic episodes (and believe me, a few are real doozies).

To challenge the United Planets, the Anthenians have fighters of their own, and they are alien looking enough to be easily told from the human ships.

Space Stations

The most commonly seen station is Evening Star, commanded by Professor Mace, Crystal’s father. Evening Star orbits Earth. It has tubes from which the Starduster and other ships can be serviced and launched, an astronomical observatory and various sensors. It is called Earth Weather Station in one episode.

Another similarly sized station, called Complex Core, orbits Pluto. There is also a refueling station orbiting Jupiter.

In “Cosmic Combat”, an alien space station at least 300 years old is discovered 10.5 astro-leagues from Earth. It is run entirely by computers, and launches six drone fighters to protect itself. It’s also protected by an electro-magnetic field. When McLeod manages to disable it, it self-destructs.

Other Ships

Survey 2 is seen in “Rescue Mission” orbiting and studying the planet Prometheus. The planet has 5.5 gravities on its surface and neglible oxygen, requiring some fancy work to rescue the crew when they are forced to land. The survey vessel’s forward section can separate from the engine section in case of emergency.

Super Mariner is launched into the new frontier of Vector Five. Part of Project New Frontier, the episode uses the term galaxy when it should use the term star system, so Super Mariner is designed to explore star sysems along a vector from Sol as yet unexplored. Super Mariner uses +X plasma fuel, which somehow involves magnetism. It is clearly FTL or can travel close to light speed. Its pods have enough fuel to destroy a planet.

One episode involves the testing of an ion engine that should get them faster than light. It was originally tested by Eddie Colfax 25 years ago, but he disappeared. When Scott gets the new test vehicle up to speed, he discovers Eddie and brings him back – and discovers that Eddie didn’t age.

EX-47 is an explorer ship used by Donavan and Vanilla. Donavan was expelled from the Space Council 10 years ago. He plans to make people more efficient by ruling them with computers. He has a base on one of the moons of Jupiter.

The space hijackers of Queen Zorra and the General have black ships nicknamd “Bat Ships”. They are equipped with force rays and magnetic force fields than can disable another ship’s instruments and drag them through space. Queen Zorra’s troopes are really cool looking – remind me of those hooded dudes from that one episode of Jonny Quest.

I love this space freighter – the cargo pod concept

X-45 is commanded by Commander Kelly. It has a mission to destroy meteors (using megatomic explosives) beween Venus and Mars that are a hazard to navigation. X-45 is equipped with space cannons. It gets from Earth to Mars in less than 10 minutes, which implies getting at least close to light speed.

The ships also shows up as a space freighter, also called Jupiter, carrying 6 tons of salt.

The Anthenians have “colonizer-class” ships that are 40 feet wide.

There are also ships called “meteor sweepers” that can survive solar flare storms.

Honestly – there are tons of great designs by Alex Toth in this series – you really should check them out. For a very cheap kid’s series, it punches way above its weight in the creativity department.

Space Angel – Part One

I am finally getting around to doing a couple posts about one of my favorite little pieces of mid-century sci-fi, Space Angel. Airing from 1962-1964, Space Angel is a limited animation (and I do mean limited) cartoon following the adventures of Scott McLeod, the “Space Angel”, as he enforces galactic law and defends the Solar System for the Interplanetary Space Council.

While squarely aimed at children, Space Angel has a couple things to recommend to adults of the nerdy persuasion. The first is Alex Toth. The legendary comic book artist and cartoon designer worked on Space Angel, and lends the production some really cool and beautiful designs.

The second great thing about Space Angel is the setting. As with Rocky Jones, Space Ranger, this series primarily takes place in the Solar System, with maybe a few forays into the wider galaxy. Also like Rocky Jones, Space Angel plays it very loose with science fact, and like so many productions of the period, the writers did not have a firm grasp on the definitions of galaxies, star systems, planets, moons, etc. If you’re going to set a game in the Space Angel setting, you’ll need to use some interpretation to make it realistic enough for your players to understand.

The Basics

Scott McLeod lives and works in the Solar System in the 21st century. The time is confirmed in one episode when Crystal proclaims, upon visiting twin worlds, one enslaved by the other, that it’s hard to believe slavery still exists in the 21st century. I couldn’t agree more.

In Scott’s time, humanity has spread out from Earth, populating the other planets and their moons, and perhaps some planetoids in the asteroid belt and the Kuiper Belt.

The other inhabited planets appear to be politically independent, but they belong to the United Planets. The United Planets is governed in some fashion by the Interplantary Space Council (ISC). The ISC meets on Jupiter (or perhaps a moon of Jupiter) in never-ending session. In some episodes, we get to see shots of the city in which the ISC meets, as well as the building, and we get to see the different peoples of the Solar System. All of them look generally human, but it’s possible some are meant to be aliens, or perhaps people who have changed somewhat since their ancestors left Earth.

The Space Council has an Executive Committee, and at one point we hear of a World Court that will try an extra-solar emperor for his planet’s attack on Diamond Harbor on Earth. Diamond Harbor – get it – like Pearl Harbor.

In one episode several planets are maneuvered into declaring war on one another by a hostile extra-Solar power (more on them later). The living situation seen on the planets suggests that major terraforming projects were done to make them habitable. Proximity to the Sun and a body’s mass do not appear to get in the way of humans living on them. Mars may be more recently terraformed than other planets, as one episode features a land rush, like the races that used to occur in the American West, to claim portions of the planet’s southern hemisphere.

Under the ISC is the Space Force or Space Corps. The Space Force consists of numerous planet-based squadrons (which are called upon by their home planets during the near interplanetary war) of space vehicles, as well as Space Intelligence, for whom Scott McLeod works. The Space Force and Space Intelligence are commanded by a Chief of Space Force, whose aid is a major. The chief’s rank is unknown.

Space Intelligence is also referred to as Earth Intelligence, Earth Spatial Intelligence and Interplanetary Space Intelligence. Scott McLeod, in the guise of Space Angel, is their top agent. The “secret identity” angle never makes much sense. McLeod keeps his visor down when acting as Space Angel, but he wears the same suit with the angel emblem, and both he and Space Angel fly the Starduster with the same two additional crew members. Honestly, Scott does a worse job of hiding his true identity than Superman.

Scott’s crew are Taurus, a big (as in tall and fat) red-headed Scotsman who acts as engineer and weapons officer, and Crystal Mace, who is in change of communication and navigation. Crystal’s father, Professor Mace, is in charge of the space station Evening Star. Professor Mace does not appear to be a member of Space Force, but rather a civilian. We also see a large space station orbiting Pluto, called Complex Core, and an orbiting fuel station orbiting Jupiter.

In one episode, we catch a glimpse of Space Force Complex 1 (or Defense Complex 1), under the command of Commander Selkirk. This craft looks like a space vessel that appeared in some old science magazine. While SFC-1 at first seems to be a space station equipped with a space squadron of its own, it later appears to be mobile, which would make it something like an interplanetary aircraft carrier.

In Grit & Vigor, you could portray Scott, Taurus and Crystal as members of the Spaceman class. Crystal seems to be the youngest of the three, and therefore probably the lowest in level. Taurus and Scott are the veterans of Space Force. I would suggest they are 5th level and Crystal is 3rd or 4th. All are highly competent and very professional. They are equipped with firearms when necessary, and Scott wears a ring in early episodes that permits him to hypnotize people. This was a concept that seems to have disappeared in later episodes.

Other members of the Space Force appear to mostly wear white or very light grey uniforms. Technicians wear white or light grey or light blue jumpsuits, though some of the techs on Evening Star seem to wear khaki jumpsuits. Scott McLeod wears a white spacesuit, while Taurus and Crystal wear grey. Under their spacesuits they wear grey turtle-neck sweaters and trousers. Due to the quality of the surviving episodes, it is very difficult to tell what color things are supposed to be. Most make Taurus and Crystal’s spacesuits look blue, rather than grey.

In one episode we see cadets from the Space Force Academy, who wear different style spacesuits marked with their planet of origin. One has his spacesuit marked with Texas, rather than Earth. Other space squadrons wear different spacesuits as well. Spaceships from the differen planets are marked with that planet’s zodiac symbol. During the series we see Jupiter Squadron, Pluto Squadron and Neptune Squadron.

In future parts of this series I will discuss the spaceships and their technology (what little of it I could figure out), aliens in the series, the other planets and moons and the villains who challenge …

SCOTT MCLEOD – SPACE ANGEL

Happy New Year*

* Please do not take this as a guarantee that your new year will, in fact, be happy … but I sure hope it is

We’re a couple days into 2022, and I’m on the last day of my annual Christmas vacation. I take a couple weeks at the end of the year to revitalize the old brain and soul, and I’m happy to say this was a pretty good vacation. I got some work done around the house, including finally building a work bench, got to do some cooking (a roast for Christmas dinner and hoppin’ john for New Year’s Day), did some reading, and watched a metric ton of Gerry Anderson shows – Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, Joe 90, Space: 1999 and the Secret Service (ooo – and there’s a new episode of Nebula 75 out – not Gerry Anderson per se’, but close).

I even took a couple naps (unheard of) and spent a couple nice days sitting on the patio listening to tunes and sipping pop.

What’s on slate for 2022?

First and foremost, I need to finish editing the Blood & Treasure version of Deities & Demigods. I also have a few cool ideas for blog posts that need some finishing/polishing. Other than that, I’m just trying to enjoy the beauty of life, spend time with family, and get myself right with the Lord.

Speaking of blog posts and Gerry Anderson – one of my favorite things about the Anderson-verse is the design. The sets, the costumes – just mid-century awesome. This is part of the reason I dig Star Trek so much. For some reason, I started making notes on the military uniforms that appear in the different series.

While some of the series reference the U.S. military and British military, they also reference world-wide military organizations – the World Army, World Air Force and World Navy. They have some pretty groovy emblems:

Where uniforms are concerned, they can jump all over the place. At some point I’m going to diagram them, because they are super cool, but for now, I’ve diagramed some of the rank insignia. It’s often hard to figure out just what they look like, since the marionettes are fairly small. It’s also hard to figure out the overall schema sometimes. But here’s what I’ve figured out so far …

U.S. Army

As a life-long American, I would have once said that the chances of our military changing its rank insignia was nil … these days, who the hell knows? Maybe we’ll get creative by the 2060’s.

U.S. Air Force

The U.S. Air Force got a few different looks in Thunderbirds.

The first one is probably the most realistic, with the traditional colonel’s insignia

The last batch are the oddest; they were worn by men in a control tower. I don’t think there was ever a mention of rank, so how they hang together, I have no idea.

U.S. Navy

One comment on the emblem worn on the cap of the U.S. Navy personel – it look remarkably like the chrysanthemum emblem used in Japan. I can promise you that the U.S. Navy will not soon be adopting the emblem of Imperial Japan on its caps. 

World Army

We get a good shot of World Army uniforms in the “Avalanche” episode of Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons.

While the different stripes on the general’s epaulettes and sleeves is weird, one can actually see how this rank system would work. The only question would be what symbol accompanies the stripes for the major – lt. colonel – colonel ranks.

World Navy

The World Navy apparently gets different rank insignia for surface vessels and submarine vessels.

There’s a taste of the weird and wonderful militaries of the Anderson universe. More to come when I have more time to spend.

Ghosts of Christmas Past

When I was a kid in the late 70’s and early 80’s, I was a lucky son of a gun. An intact family, lots of love, food on the table, etc. I also got plenty of toys to play with – legos, Star Wars figures, Hot Wheels, a bike – no complaints.

But there were a few items circled in the annual Christmas catalogs that didn’t appear beneath the tree. As good as I had it, we weren’t rich, so there were a few items that didn’t make the cut. I suppose that’s true with most folks – and maybe more for some than others. I also suppose most folks, when they’re my age, look back with gratitude for all they got, and just a little nostalgia for the ones that got away.

Here are my top three presents I never got … but still kinda want:

#3 – Mouse Trap

A good friend had this one, and it was in the category of stuff I desperately wanted to play with, but which she never wanted to play with. Drat the luck. This thing absolutely fascinated me, but to this day I have never laid hands on it, and have no idea how it actually works.

When I mentioned this to my daughter, she remarked that she remembered seeing one at grandma’s house (i.e. my mother) when she was little. I have no idea how it got there, or where it went … but I know I never saw the darn thing!

#2 – The Millennium Falcon

Another toy that was just across the street at my friend’s house, I at least got to play with this one. I’ll admit that I felt, at the time, that being a boy, and my friend a girl, that it was mildly unfair that she had a Falcon and I didn’t. Now I’m much more mature … I realize that it was unfair that a non-nerd had one, and a big old nerd like me didn’t.

#1 – Mazinga

Or, as I would have called it then – that big shogun warrior with missile fingers that really shoot. If there’s one really expensive piece of nostalgia that I get tempted to buy, this guy is it. I had one chance to see one in real life – a kid that moved in next door for a very short period of time. As usual for my luck, he didn’t want to play with it, preferring to play poker instead. If that sounds weird, keep in mind that my generation were raised on re-runs of M*A*S*H, and while we didn’t have stills in our bedrooms, we were able to imitate all that poker playing the doctors did.

So which Christmas wishes didn’t come true for you? Leave a comment below – misery loves company!

When we’re done crying, let’s be thankful for all our blessings and get ready for a groovy Christmas!

International House of Heroes

Hey true believers (he says in honor of Stan) – I caught a couple superhero flicks recently that I thought were worth a review and some Mystery Men! stats. The hook – neither of these epics came from the good old USA!

GUNDALA (2019)

So I recently installed the Roku TV channel on my Roku, and going through the channels on their live TV I came across Gundala. I think I’d read about the character some time in the past, but I didn’t know much about him and figured this was a great opportunity to learn more. Besides, I don’t think I’d ever watched an Indonesian-made film before.

First and foremost, the Gundala character was created in 1969 by Harya Suraminata. The movie features an updated version of the character – which, funny enough, means that if I’d grown up with the character I’d probably be annoyed at the movie. Fortunately, I didn’t, so it’s all new to me. The film is the first in a planned Bumilangit Cinematic Universe, and based on this movie, I hope they can follow through.

The film has a subdued, bleak aspect to it that didn’t bug me. It involves a hero coming to grips with his powers and responsibilities, as well as the corruption infecting Indonesian government, and, I suppose, society. I thought the acting was excellent, the special effects were fine for me – I’m not much into computer effects, and since they weren’t overused in this movie, I give them high marks. The main villain is a powerful gangster called Pengkor and his legion of orphan assassins. There’s plenty of martial arts action in the film, and I liked it. The movie ends with a more powerful villain coming to the fore, and the teaser after the credits introduces the next hero to be filmed – Sri Asih.

I really enjoyed this movie – honestly, I enjoyed more than many of the MCU films. It was fun seeing what Joko Anwar could do with the subject, which he clearly loves – and folks – he did it on a budget of just $2.1 million!

Here’s my MM! take on the film Gundala (with the triumphant return of my old stat format that I never should have abandoned) …

GUARDIANS (2017)

I remember seeing the trailer for this a few years ago, but never had the chance until recently to see the film. It showed up on Tubi (another streaming service) in the English-dubbed version, so I gave it a shot. Apparently, this film was panned by critics … and while I’ll admit it wasn’t a great film, it really wasn’t terrible. At worst, I’d say it didn’t meet its potential, and I’m sorry that it doesn’t sound as though they’ll get another shot at the movie.

The Guardians are a group of genetically-modified heroes from the old Soviet Union days, reassembled by a SHIELD-like organization called Patriot to meet a new threat – August Kuratov, an angry, traitorous scientist who is mutated when his laboratory is attacked. This gives him super strength to go with his genius. He’s back, he wants revenge on Russia, and the Guardians have to come together after years alone to fight them.

Let’s start with the bad – the plot isn’t ground breaking folks, though frankly, most superhero plots are not. I didn’t love the design on the villain. In fact, I hated it. Could have been much better. The ending was a bit forced, and the acting in the dubbed version was not always great.

The good – while the first half of the movie is a bit grey and bleak (very Russian, one might say), it brightens considerably in the second half and I liked the characters much more after this shift. The shift actually makes sense in the film, as the heroes go from hunted, hated misfits on their own to a family of sorts. I’ll also say that I enjoyed a bunch of Soviet-era superheroes that were not dressed in red with hammers and sickles all over them (which is coming from a guy who created a bunch exactly like that in a much older post …). I mean, yeah, they have a guy who turns into a bear … but he’s really pretty cool and he has a big machine gun and stuff … I won’t count that against them.

All in all, I’d give the movie a C, maybe C minus. I think it had potential, and I mostly enjoyed the second half of the film.

As for the Guardians …

Stunt Spectaculars

Wow, have I been busy the last couple weeks, at work and home – so I apologize for a lack of posting. Before I get to the meat of the post, a couple quick notes:

1. I jumped on MeWe about a month ago, and it hasn’t pissed me off yet, so you can find me over there if you look.

2. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the last week cleaning up and organizing this blog. I’ve worked on the categories and tags to make finding things easier, cleaned up some blog post titles, etc.

It’s a wonderful thing exploring the cinematic past. I think it is safe to say that, for most of us, there are far more movies that have been made that we haven’t heard of than we have heard of. More importantly, some of your favorite movies are ones you have never heard of. Not everything in the past was a gem, of course, but there are some goodies hiding out there.

Two movies I’ve seen in the past couple months qualify for me as “recent unknowns” that I ultimately enjoyed. Both of them are stunt heavy, and call to mind the days when non-CGI stunts dominated action movies. The crazy stunts started early in Hollywood, though they were far more often the purview of comedies than action films. One can draw a straight line from Buster Keaton’s astounding stunt-filled comedies of the 20’s and 30’s to Jackie Chan’s astounding stunt-filled comedies of the 80’s and 90’s (and beyond).

The Stunt Man (1980)

The Stunt Man is the story of a fugitive (Steve Railsback) who becomes a stunt man to escape the authorities. He becomes involved in a love triangle – well, sorta – involving the director he works with (Peter O’Toole) and his protege actress (Barbara Hershey, pre-lip expansion). The stunts are amazing, but the movie is really about the domineering director and the mystery of the man’s fugitive past. They do a good job of making you nervous about who this stunt man really is … aided considerably by the fact that Railsback had previously played Charlie Manson. His face is enough to make you think something terrible is lurking beneath the surface. No spoilers here – you’ll have to watch it to find out how it comes out.

The Junkman (1982)

This is a weird little movie that is extremely stunt heavy. It took H. B. Halicki two years to get it made, but boy did he get it made. There is a mega-car chase with explosions that is worth the ticket of admission. The Junkman is part of a trilogy with Gone in 60 Seconds and Deadline Auto Theft, two other b-movies worth watching if you dig car movies. The Junkman is not as complex as character study as The Stunt Man, and does not have the heavy hitter status of a Peter O’Toole, but it’s still a fun flick for a lazy Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

Dungeons and Dragons in 3-D

And by 3-D, I don’t mean a movie, but those splendid D&D action figures made by LJN in the 1980’s.

Figure this one out. Dungeons & Dragons hits big with kids in the 1980’s. It hits so big that it gets a Saturday morning cartoon and an action figure line. But here’s the weird part – the cartoon and action figure line are separate, as in barely any overlap. Why?

TSR was almost an overnight success, and its leadership wasn’t necessarily ready for prime time. Anyone who knows the TSR story knows this, so there’s no need to cover it here. By the 1980’s, toy companies and cartoon makers had figured out how to join forces and sell crap to kids – G.I. Joe, Transformers, Go-Bots, Chuck Norris’ Karate Kommandoes, Rambo … they were all doing it. But not TSR.

Instead of Hank the Ranger and the gang, the action figure line featured a collection of characters of whom nobody had ever heard, with no real adventures or exploits to inspire childhood play. Some of the action figure line made an appearance in the Shady Dragon Inn (a book I love, by the way), and in a module called XL1 – Quest for the Heartstone, but that was about it.

And since I’m complaining – remember how the G.I. Joe figures had the cool file card on the back of the packaging with data on the character, and how Transformers came with stats that required the red translucent plastic to read. I mean – Transformers had ability scores! Did D&D figures have that? No. The game that’s all about ability scores and character sheets doesn’t use this on their packaging. Jeez!

OK – Complaining over – let’s take a look at the toys the younger siblings (yeah, right!) of D&D geeks were enjoying in the 1980’s, along with some handy links to buy these sweet babies …

There were apparently two waves of figures, which were divided into GOOD and EVIL sides. The top dog on the good side was Strongheart Good Paladin. I had this figure as a kid, and it was pretty groovy – nice cape, sword. I also dig that it looks something like a real knight. Strongheart showed up in the D&D cartoon, although there he was armed with a magic golden hammer.

Strongheart also got a bitchin’ mount – Destrier Mighty Battle Horse. He looks like he works the same way the Star Wars tauntaun did, where you stick the rider into a spring-loaded door atop the mount, with the rider’s legs molded onto the horse’s body.

Other mounts included a nightmare and bronze dragon.

Along with Strongheart, the forces of good included …

Elkhorn Good Dwarf

Melf/Peralay Good Elf

Mercion Good Cleric

Northlord Good Barbarian

Ringlerun Good Wizard

Bowmarc Good Crusader

Deeth Good Fighter

Hawkler Good Ranger

Northlord looks like he borrowed his helmet from Dark Helmet. Mercion is apparently super hard to find these days, in case you happen to be sitting on one and need a quick infusion of cash. Also, notice how the slightly realistic Strongheart gives way in the second wave to the somewhat silly-looking Bowmarc. ‘Tis the way of things, I’m afraid.

This brings us to the evil figures. I don’t know who the leader of EVIL is, per se, but Warduke EVIL Fighter (above) has to be their coolest figure – he’s like the Boba Fett of D&D action figures. His quest to do horrible things to people is aided and abetted by such jerkwads as …

Kelek EVIL Wizard

Zarak EVIL Half-Orc Assassin

Drex EVIL Fighter

Grimsword EVIL Knight

Mandoom EVIL Warrior

Zorgar EVIL Barbarian

You can’t say that the forces of evil were underrepresented here – plenty of foes for the good guys. It’s really a very good toy line that I think would have been pushed over the top with an accompanying cartoon. Zarak, the other figure I had, might have showed up in the cartoon. I definitely remember that Kelek and Warduke were in an episode of the cartoon series.

There were three “giant” figures in the line – Ogre King, Young Male Titan and Mettaflame the Fire Giant. I don’t know if the dragonne was a mount or just a monster. Ogre King is pictured below:

Along with the articulated figures, there were numerous molded figures in the line. As a kid, I assumed they weren’t really for playing alongside the other figures, but maybe I was wrong. I’m trying to remember how they measured up to Strongheart, but frankly – it’s been too dang long. I remember having the troglodyte and goblin and two men-at-arms, but there were also skeletons, a bugbear, troll, hook horror and some others. The hook horror is pictured below.

Finally, the existence of Castle Greyskull meant that every good toy line needed a playset to go with it. D&D got the Fortress of Fangs, which is admittedly not super awesome – at least, not as great as Greyskull.

Lazy Sunday on the Couch

Well, 2021 has begun and I’m out of gas, so here are a couple things I watched this week that I found notable for weird reasons.

Up first is an episode of Lights Out entitled “Beware This Woman”.

Frankly, the show didn’t do much for me. The story was okay, but then you have Veronica Lake without her classic 40’s hairdo – very upsetting! What amazed me was the fact that Phil Hartman apparently traveled back in time to appear in the episode. When I looked up the actual actor, I discovered that he was Glenn Denning, and that was about it. To my mind, the lack of biography and credits for Mr. Denning proves that my Phil Hartman theory is correct.

In all seriousness, given what happened to Hartman, I’d love to believe he escaped his fate and was still entertaining people somewhere out there.

Lights Out originated on radio, and the episodes are worth finding – moody and creepy and very well done.

I also watched Murder Is News this week, a 1937 mystery.

Again, not a tremendous storyline, but I love b-movie mysteries from the 40’s, and I dug that the lead character, reporter Jerry Tracy, worked for the Daily Planet. Tracy was flying high in 1937, but a year later that new guy Clark Kent and ace reporter Lois Lane would be getting all the attention and poor Jerry was out of luck!

Tracy was played by John Gallaudet, who was in a favorite old TV show of mine, Burke’s Law – it was like the Love Boat of detective shows (which makes sense, since it was produced by Aaron Spelling). Also appearing in the cast was John Hamilton, who would later play Perry White in The Adventures of Superman.

OK – a lazy post today I know, but maybe the rest of you are feeling lazy as well and could use a couple hours of mediocre black and white entertainment to round out the day. Be well, everyone – and I hoped you remembered to eat some black-eyed peas on January 1st – we’ll need all the help we can get to deal with 2020 II: Electric Boogaloo!

Not Since the Leg Lamp …

… has an old man been so excited about something.

In this case, a gift I gave myself, which I know sounds bad, but this was one thing I could not resist:

The C64 – a retro computer based on the Commodore 64 and Vic-20!

All my friends had Ataris, and I wanted one sooooo much, but my dad wanted a computer that did more than play games, so I got a Vic-20. To this day, I am thankful for how responsible he was. The Vic-20 had games, of course, and I love them – Radar Rat Race and Gorf come immediately to mind. But I also learned some basic BASIC on the old Vic-20, and I still use a little of that knowledge to this day. I can still remember cracking open a computer magazine and spending hours typing in pokes and peeks to generate a static image of a jack-o-lantern or Christmas tree on the TV … only to know that when the computer was turned off, all that work was gone!

For the  children in the audience … let me take you back to time when console TVs doubled as computer monitors and programs were lost when you turned off the computer (unless you had the Commodore datasette!) It also meant that when dad got home from work and it was time for the news, you were done playing with your computer without some serious begging!

Flash forward to 2020 – I come across the C64 retro computer (I already do not remember where I saw it). It is apparently already released in Europe … but an unknown release date in North America. I had to have it. I hit Amazon, and lo and behold, it was available for pre-order. Pre-order I did!

I was not, however, going to hold my breath until it arrived, because I was pretty sure it wouldn’t. Just seemed to good to be true, and without a set release date – probably was not going to happen. Sure enough, a week or so after ordering it the shipping date was pushed back. And then pushed back again. Now it was supposed to arrive in mid-December. Yeah – right!

Out of sight, out of mind, and then I get an email notice … sometime around mid-December … that an order has shipped. I had a couple Christmas gifts for the fam on order, so I assumed it was one of those. Happily, I was wrong.

Here it is folks:

It’s a beaut!

And someday, if I’m really good and my puppy gives me a couple free minutes, I’ll get to play with it. I can’t wait!

(By the way – I still have that Vic-20 stored away in the closet – it’s the stuff I’ve gotten rid of that I regret, not the stuff I kept.)

I hope you folks get something you want for Christmas this year, or whatever holiday you might celebrate, and I also hope you get something you need.

Love and peace, folks!

NTN TV Schedule – October 2020

The Nod Television Network proudly presents seven shows to make you quake with fear this Halloween season.

Sunday | IN SEARCH OF …

“Dracula”. I associate Sunday afternoons in the late 70s with two shows in particular – Ripley’s Believe It or Not, hosted by Jack Palance, and In Search Of … hosted by Leonard Nimoy. In Search Of … is like a who’s who of 70’s pseudo-science, covering everything from bigfoot to E.S.P. to the Loch Ness Monster to U.F.O.s. Originally telecast 6/8/77

Monday | SPECIAL PRESENTATION

“Witch’s Night Out”. October was always time for specials, and I suppose the Halloween special people know best is It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Now, that’s a great cartoon – I love it to this day – but I also remember a show called Witch’s Night Out, which freaked me out as a kid. It was the art style – so weird and creepy. Gilda Radner provided the witch’s voice – what a lovely woman! Originally telecast 10/27/78

Tuesday | ADDAMS FAMILY

“Halloween with the Addams Family”. The Addams Family and Munsters both premiered the same year, and I love them both. You can’t beat John Astin and Carolyn Jones as the most romantic couple to ever grace television, and Ted Cassidy as Lurch is brilliant. I apologize in advance that the linked show cuts off the theme song. Originally telecast 10/30/64

Wednesday | FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE SERIES

“The Poison Pen”. This is the second episode of the series – I linked to the first episode in the August schedule. In this episode, the gang has to disguise themselves as monks to get into a monastery in search of a cursed pen. Originally telecast 10/10/87

Thursday | MOVIE – Horror

“The Monster Club”, 1981, starring Vincent Price and John Carradine. While this may not be the greatest film either of these men worked on … or anyone worked on … it is hosted by Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, and features an early appearance of UB40. I think Cassandra Peterson is a national treasure, along with Price and Carradine. Original telecast 2/6/83

Friday | SHE-WOLF OF LONDON

“She-Wolf of London”, series premiere. In the aptly named first episode of the series, Randi travels to England to study archaeology, and instead winds up a lycanthrope. I mentioned this one a few posts ago in my salute to 90’s TV – what better time than October to post the first episode. Originally telecast 10/9/90

Saturday | MONSTER SQUAD

“Ultra Witch”. Can Dracula, Bruce the Werewolf, and Frankenstein’s Monster, along with the Loveboat’s Fred Grandy, stop Julie Newmar as the Ultra Witch? Well, probably, since they’re the heroes. Watch it anyways – for Newmar if nothing else. Ultra Witch is the coolest name for a villain (or a band) I’ve ever heard. Originally telecast 10/30/76

BONUS!

PAUL LYNDE HALLOWEEN SPECIAL (1976)

I think I’ve established a relationship of trust with my readers, so when I tell you this Halloween special was pretty terrible, I know you’ll believe me. Of course, with my taste in entertainment, I consider this show terrible-great, rather than terrible-terrible. Like all such shows in the 70s (and boy, were there a bunch of them), you get a star-studded cast – Tim Conway, Margaret Hamilton, Witchie-Poo, Pinky Tuscadero, Donny & Marie, Florence Henderson and, the only reason this show managed to survive the 70s, the first TV appearance of KISS. Buckle up boys and girls – it’s going to be a bumpy ride! Originally telecast 10/29/76.