Thursday, 2 August 2012

Guide to Economic Survival

I've seen this done on other blogs, so why not on my one too? These are some of the things I've acquired over the last few weeks.

Alright, here we go then. First up, some "novelties" from a recent trip across the country to Scarborough:

There's a skull that you squeeze and it has rubber bugs floating inside it - somehow I've got loads of these in the last 365 days, it's the new craze! It's not the best one I have - that'd be one that's a killer whale with a mouth full of mermaids - but it's still good. Haven't gotten around to growing the venus fly trap yet, but it seemed like it'd be worth 99p. The pen doesn't work, but the rugby ball on top of it can be squeezed to make its eyes pop out. Suppose it'd help with writer's block, a bit.

It's a plastic toilet filled with putty, that farts if you stick your fingers into it. Always a hit with the ladies. This was bought mainly for the villainous-looking toilet in the picture on top of it - on the display box that it was in, this same toilet was chasing a small child, who was crying.

It's a fish, that's also a balloon!

Next, several videos. The price of VHS tapes has been falling since 1999, and nowadays the charity shops that actually bother trying to sell them (rather than chucking them) are stuffed full with all sorts of wonderful films and the like, for ridiculously cheap prices. My favourite local one sells them at 10p each, and even after that it's "Buy One, Get One Free" - so that's ten films for 50p! Granted, Oxfam still charge up to £3.99 for a tape, but at least you get a guarantee that it'll work for that price. eBay's always good for them, too. Here's some that I've found in the past few weeks:

Right, so we have a tape that's promoting how amazing the Sony PlayStation will be once it's in the shops; a compilation of every jump that Evel Knievel ever made; a documentary on the making of Independence Day; the greatest hits of the Strawbs; The Warriors, which I've never seen before; and The Killer Tongue which promises to be "Deep Throat meets Alien" - interesting.

Something about dinosaurs (you can never go wrong with dinosaurs, right?); Mysteries, Magic & Murders, which I was hoping would be a video release of Michael Aspel's Strange But True?, but of course it wasn't; Ecotoons, which is a compilation of thirty animated shorts with environmental messages; Perfect Blue, one of the creepiest films ever made, brought to you by the late Satoshi Kon; a Popeye video (always good, obviously); and Mad Monster Party?, an under-exposed classic in the stop-motion world. Go on, go and watch the trailer, why don't you?

A video of police chases starring Graham Cole - I'm addicted to those programmes that follow police around doing their business, so this was a wise purchase; a dodgy tape of public domain Daffy Duck stuff; a documentary explaining the special effects of such films as Gremlins 2, Die Hard and Ghostbusters; a super-heavy VHS containing two of the greatest films of all time (Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II, obviously), as well as an episode of the 1943 serialized version of Batman, for some reason; Bobobobs, a preposterous cartoon from 1988 that most people have either never heard of or have chosen to forget about; and a double feature ninja film thingy.

One of those Cheech & Chong films you've been warned about; Ra: The Path of the Sun God, which is an interesting-looking animated film that I've heard of but haven't gotten around to watching yet; Curtains, a creepy-looking film released before the BBFC started deciding what we could and couldn't watch in our own homes; Crypt of the Living Dead which has a fantastic cover (if I don't say so myself); Gappa: The Triphibian Monster, which you can see for yourself over on Deadpan Flook's blog; and a video compilation of Pop Will Eat Itself, or PWEI or The Poppies if you want to sound clever/cool/with it.

Two contrasting spectacles here: Independence Day with a fancy holographic cover (that counts as a "special feature" if you're talking about VHS tapes), and the Blackpool Illuminations 1998/1999 switch-on, with Chris De Burgh. Magical.

Finally (at least as far as my VHS purchases go), two bumper box-sets. One of them's Twelve Monkeys, with an extra tape labelled The Hamster Factor. Looking forward to seeing what THAT's about! The other's Podge & Rodge, from the makers of Zig & Zag. Two Irish puppets sit in bed, telling each other those "friend-of-a-friend" type stories (you know the ones - stuff like drinking vintage whiskey only to find it's been preserving a corpse for the past hundred years, that sort of stuff).

More stuff also!

An old issue of Dinosaurs!, one of those weekly magazines that sucker you in from the start with great promises only to go on for years and years - this one let you build a tyrannosaurus skeleton, bone-by-bone, over the weeks. Used to get this one a lot, still got the 3D glasses somewhere too. The illustrations are nice enough, and the information's well laid out for the target audience of 8-12 year olds. This was out in 1993, when Jurassic Park-mania lead to EVERYONE trying to sell you dinosaur-based stuff. I even remember a local fruit shop selling its watermelons as dinosaur eggs. Happy times, etc.

Several old Dandy comics, a couple of Beezers, a Topper, a Whizzer & Chips, an Eagle and a more recent Beano, which features a ten-page Bash Street Kids story by Mike Pearse. I'll buy anything by him!

Eighteen issues of Cheeky Weekly - the Fleetway title that followed the daily adventures of the buck-toothed Cheeky. Other characters are introduced through Cheeky watching television, reading a comic-within-a-comic, even finding his dad's old comics in the attic. Clever stuff! Some of these have puzzle pages from Steve Bell - these'll be featured on this here blog thingy sometime soon.

The first issue of DC Thomson's short-lived Hoot, which features the likes of Polar Blair, Piggles, Snackula, Spotted Dick and other funny folk. Snackula's done by the impeccable David Mostyn, and Ken Harrison's one-panel-with-many-jokes strip The Hoot Squad is a lot of fun as well. It's a shame that Hoot only lasted for 53 issues, as there's a lot of fun stuff in there - even a couple of things that you wouldn't get away with in the Beano or Dandy. There'll be a Hoot-based post on this blog at some point in the future, you'll see.

Oh yes, you know you love it: The Stutter Rap!

One charity shop, three amazing books for 49p each! There's one that's illustrated by Anthony Browne (deservedly appointed the Children's Laureate in 2009), The Hamlyn Book of Monsters (why would anyone want to get rid of this??), and The Topper Book of 1994 (which would be the last Topper annual ever, sadly).

Apologies for the disorientating pictures here - I took pictures of each book seperately then did an appalling job of joining them together in MS Paint. Anyway, the Dennis book's great - seems like the whole thing was done by Davey Law. Now that's a big workload!

Another annual, this one being The Beezer Book from 1963. A classic example of how much comics have changed over the years, this features the illustrated story of Samson and Delilah. Expect full scans in the future!

The priciest purchase of the lot - it's the elusive third Willy the Kid book! The first two are Baxendale classics, and I've been after this one for years and years and years (well, since I first found out eBay existed). It's missing the dust jacket, hence the inside-photo here, and the fairly cheap price I paid for it.

A birthday present from my brother (and oddly camouflaged against my carpet), recommended for anyone interested in jacket designs or books in general. And certainly more interesting and colourful than its companion piece, Penguin By Design.

A Ladybird book of creepy poems from the likes of Stevenson, Kipling, Shakespeare, Cummings, and anon, nicely illustrated by Chris Russell. Includes a disclaimer at the beginning: In the safety of home and family, most children enjoy the thrill of hearing about ghosts, vampires, and creeping horrors. These poems however are not for the more sensitive child who may over-react to the ideas conveyed. So really, it's a test of manliness for your kids. Toil and trouble and all that.

Now this is an impressive book! Twenty-six pictures, each depicting a different letter of the alphabet and each filled with hundreds of objects beginning with said letter - 309 beginning with Q, 1,229 beginning with S, 538 beginning with B and so on. 7,777 objects in total. This one may take some time...

A brand-new book (full price and everything!), and it's amazing. Not a lot of information is included on particular monsters, it just does a couple of paragraphs on monster "types" (such as demons, giants, devils, sea monsters and so on), before presenting illustrations from a number of different cultures and time periods depcting those monsters. Not quite big enough to be a coffee table book, it's still great as a picture book. Think of it as Taschen's Monsters and everything'll be okay.

Another new one - it's by the Etherington Brothers, who are amongst the best comic-creators around today and is thus essential. Only got this yesterday, but if it's anywhere near as good as Monkey Nuts then I'm happy.

Mention "computer art" to someone today and they won't be impressed at all - everything is done on computers now. But in 1971, when this book was published, that certainly wasn't the case! It's filled with concentric circles, cine curves, CalComp plottings and all the other things you'd mess around with on school computers before you discovered the Internet. It's a wonderful "of its time" book, and I'll be uploading parts of it here in the future.

Two odd toys - a non-poseable tiger-headed wrestler, and a wire-bodied... bubble man?

EDIT: These have been identified! Sort of. The bendy bubble man is from a line of cheap toys called UFO Files - thanks to ChristianG's amazing Flickr set for that one. The tiger-headed thing is, according to my pal "Shinobi", from Sungold's Galaxy Warriors - but on further investigation this may not be true!

A Real Ghostbusters toy I yearned for in the past, and've only gotten around to finding yesterday, as well as Slash (already have this, but his head became detached around fifteen years ago), as well as a couple of smaller toys - one's from a line called Horrors 'N' Heroes, the other's from Monster Sports Stars In My Pocket, a Frosties-only off-shoot of Monster In My Pocket, obviously. His name's Howlin' One, because he's a werewolf playing golf.

Five small books retrieved from the "freebies" box in front of one of my favourite charity shops. If anything's been in the shop for too long (or they consider it too rubbish to sell), they leave it in a box outside and you can take whatever you want for free. Well, there's a Ladybird adaptation of Dracula, three books based on LEGO pirates, and a paperback version of Zool. Why would no-one want to buy these??

Aaanndd... Done! Bloody Nora, had no idea that'd take so long! Won't be doing that again in a hurry, but it's done now. The majority of all that stuff was bought yesterday - all adds up to a fair bit of weight when it's put into a backpack, but that's okay because I hate my spine almost as much as I hate my ability to save money.


  1. Great stuff :)

    There's something oddly appealing about VHS tapes so I'm glad I don't have the room to store them or else I'd be buying any old tat I saw. That and the fact that I binned my VHS players years ago when the VideoPlus feature stopped working (a waste of a working player I suppose but it was only cheap one anyway). Some interesting things you picked up there though. I'm just as bad with DVD's, buying any old junk that looks interesting/weird.

    1. I've got two video players at the moment! One in the living room and one in the bedroom. Used to do that with DVDs, but you get stranger stuff on video.

      With DVD, someone at some point thought there'd be sufficient interest to warrant the transfer - whereas with video, it's anyone's game!

  2. Next time I'm "down", let's stay up all night watching videos!

  3. What!? There's a third Willy The Kid Book!! Oh my god! *Disappears to search Ebay and possibly sell a kidney...*

    1. Go for it! I didn't know it existed until I started using the Internet - it's a bit stranger than the previous two (if that's possible), in that it's a portrait-styled book but most of the stuff inside is in landscape format.