March 17, 2019

LARRY DiTILLIO DEAD AT 79




You can read the full story here.

He was a writer on shows that included Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling, Galaxy High School (for which he was also the story editor), Superman (1988), The California Raisin Show, The Real Ghostbusters, Swamp Thing, Peter Pan and the Pirates and Conan: The Adventurer.







 


RICHARD ERDMAN DEAD AT 93



You can read the full story here


He voiced a pirate, the mayor and a man in “The Secret World of Og” episode of ABC Weekend Specials; a travel agent in an episode of The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo; an angry neighbor in an episode of Pound Puppies (1986); Mayor Rufus B. Pinfeathers and King Arty in two episodes of DuckTales (1987); and Elliot in an episode of Batman: The Animated Series. He also provided additional voices for Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo, Space Stars, Mork & Mindy/Laverne & Shirley/Fonz Hour, The Dukes, Galtar and the Golden Lance, Wildfire, The Smurfs, Yogi’s Treasure Hunt, Popeye and Son, The Flintstone Kids, The New Yogi Bear Show, Snorks, and The Pirates of Dark Water.  





 










 








March 16, 2019

BARBIE CEREAL

BARBIE FAIRYTOPIA CEREAL / BARBIE AS THE ISLAND PRINCESS CEREAL / BARBIE MULTI-GRAIN CEREAL

Kellogg’s

            2005 saw the release of the fifth in a series of direct-to-video computer-animated Barbie films, Barbie: Fairytopia. Barbie, a wingless flower fairy named Elina (Kelly Sheridan) had to save Fairytopia from an evil fairy named Laverna (Kathleen Barr). It was the first Barbie movie to feature a completely original story written by Elise Allen and Diane Duane, and directed by Walter P. Martishius and William Lau.


            As with the other Barbie movies, Mattel released a wave of merchandise that tied into its setting and themes. They also licensed Barbie out to Kellogg’s to produce a limited-edition cereal based on the film. It was the first cereal for the doll since 1989’s Breakfast with Barbie Cereal. The cereal contained berry-flavored pieces in pink and purple heart shapes and marshmallows in the shape of a mirror, a jewel, a flower, a purse and a butterfly. The back of the box featured a maze game with characters from the film.



            However, that wasn’t the end of the cereal. In 2007, the eighth computer-animated film, Barbie as the Island Princess, was released to video. This was the second musical in the series, and the first produced under Mainframe Entertainment’s new name of Rainmaker Animation. Ro (Sheridan) was shipwrecked on an island as a young girl and was raised and cared for by the animals there. After she rescued handsome prince Antonio (Alessandro Juliani) when he ended up on her island, he brought her back to his kingdom so that she could try to discover who she was. They fell in love along the way, but the evil Queen Ariana (Andrea Martin) had her sights set on acquiring the throne from Antonio’s parents—by any means necessary. The movie was written by Cliff Ruby and Elana Lesser and directed by Greg Richardson and Jesyca C. Durchin.

The Fairytopia and Island Princess boxes.

Rather than create an entirely new cereal, Kellogg’s simply renamed theirs Barbie as the Island Princess Cereal and changed the box to feature her likeness from the film. Each box featured 5 out of 10 collectible cards depicting various characters and scenes.

Three of the four Multi-Grain boxes.

            The cereal sold well-enough that in 2008 Kellogg’s continued to produce it, but didn’t tie it into the latest Barbie movie. Instead, they renamed it Barbie Multi-Grain Cereal and the artwork featured 2D animated versions of either Barbie, Barbie with a tennis racquet, or Barbie with her best friend, Teresa. The backs of the boxes featured more collectible cut-out trading cards or Barbie-themed games, collectible cut-out keepsakes, or a cut-out picture frame.

Back of the Multi-Grain box.


BREAKFAST WITH BARBIE CEREAL


BREAKFAST WITH BARBIE CEREAL

Ralston


            Watching her daughter Barbara play with paper dolls and giving them adult roles, Ruth Handler suggested making an adult-bodied doll to her husband, Elliot, who co-founded the Mattel toy company with her. He and the company’s directors saw no merit in the idea until 1956 when Ruth brought back a Bild Lilli doll from Germany. The doll was based on a popular comic strip character that was initially sold to adults, but became popular with children who enjoyed dressing her in a variety of outfits. That was what Ruth had in mind for the doll she suggested. Ruth and engineer Jack Ryan redesigned the doll, named it Barbie after her daughter, and introduced it to the world at the American International Toy Fair on March 9, 1959.



            The doll became an instant success, thanks largely in part to the television advertising campaign never before utilized for that type of toy. A wide number of accessories were made for the doll, ranging from clothing to habitats. The line was gradually expanded to include a long-term boyfriend, Ken (named after Ruth’s son), ethnically diverse representation, younger sisters, and dolls based on famous people or fictional characters. The most notable part of the doll, and part of her lasting appeal, was the fact that Barbie was depicted in a multitude of occupations; many of which were progressive for their time. Since the doll’s debut, the Barbie brand has expanded to a multimedia franchise including video games, books and movies.


Super Star, Dance Club, Beach Blast, Cool Times and the promo box.

            In 1989, to celebrate Barbie’s 30th anniversary, Ralston licensed the rights to produce a cereal based on the doll. Breakfast with Barbie Cereal was a fruity cereal in the shapes of hearts, bows, stars, cars and the letter “B” in yellow and a variety of pink colors. The box came in hot pink like the Barbie packaging and featured one of five different dolls throughout its lifespan: Super Star BarbieBeach Blast BarbieDance Club BarbieCool Times Barbie and Happy Holidays BarbieA sixth box also existed as the promotional box sent out to supermarkets featured Super Star Barbie holding an award against a different background. The marketing for the cereal included playing on the nostalgia of mothers who had a Barbie growing up and encouraging them to share that experience with their own daughters. To battle growing health concerns over sugary cereals, it was also marketed as having less sugar than leading competitors.

Ad for the cereal with a coupon playing on nostalgia and health concerns.

            Although a doll didn’t come packaged in the cereal (like they would in later cereal promotions), Ralston was sure to incorporate some fun into their product. The back of the Super Star box could be converted into a small vanity table by cutting out a part of the back panel and taping a piece of tinfoil inside of it to act as a mirror. The Beach Blast box came with a beach scene on the back with a challenge to find objects hidden in it, as well as an offer for one of two Barbie books. The Dance Club box featured instructions for how to do “The Barbie dance” as well as a coupon for accessories for the doll. The Cool Times box came with nail stickers inside and a coupon for the Barbie Soda Shoppe playset or her ’57 Chevy convertible. The Happy Holidays box was the big one, being accompanied by a competition to win a real diamond worth $4000. The winner was selected by finding a “Diamond Dazzle Scope” inside (a distorted diamond-like clear plastic piece that could be held by a simple cardboard tube and looked through) that was marked with “WINNER”.


            The “Breakfast with Barbie” name was later reused by Mattel for an actual doll: Barbie enjoying breakfast in a small cardboard nook in her jammies. However, her cereal of choice was General MillsHoney Nut Cheerios. It was released during the time of the “Got Milk?” ad campaign.


March 09, 2019

DINO-RIDERS


DINO-RIDERS
(Syndication, October 1-December 31, 1988)

Marvel Productions, Steven Hahn Productions, Tyco Toys




MAIN CAST:
Dan Gilvezan – Questar, Vector
Peter Cullen – Mind-Zei, Gunnur, Bomba, Antor
Joe Colligan – Yungstar
Noelle North – Serena
Charlie Adler – Turret, Hammerhead, Lokus
Wally Burr – Tagg. Narrator
Cam Clarke – Ikon, Aero, Krok
Townsend Coleman – Astra, Zar
Rob Paulsen – Kameelian, Faze
Frank Welker – Glyde, Emperor Krulos, Rasp, Skate, various


            In 1985, Tyco Toys was looking to create a new surefire toyline. It was decided to combine the past and the present by having a line centered on dinosaurs brandishing futuristic space weaponry. It was developed for two years under the name “Project B.C.” before coming to store shelves as Dino-Riders. Dino-Riders depicted the warring factions of the peace-loving human Valorians and the warmongering animal-like Rulons. The figures were released either in two-packs containing one Valorian and one Rulon with generic weaponry, or one or more with a dinosaur. The dinosaurs came with wearable weaponry and a place for the figures to ride.




            To help promote the figures, Tyco funded the creation of a cartoon to be produced by Marvel Productions and Steven Hahn Productions and developed by comic book writers Gerry and Carla Conway. The series would relay the story about how the Rulons, led by the amphibious Krulos (Frank Welker), wanted to conquer the universe using their brain boxes which allowed them to control a living being’s mind. The only ones who could resist the box’s powers were the peaceful Valorians, who possessed high mental powers harnessed through amulets they wore. Krulos decided to eliminate the Valorians and attacked their planet. Predominantly a peace-loving utopia, the only defense Valoria had was a shield that bought them enough time to construct a ship to take away 400 of their citizens. They sought to escape through time utilizing their STEP (Space/Time Energy Projector), but wound up taking the Rulons with them to prehistoric Earth. There, the Valorians and Rulons conscripted the dinosaurs into their conflict; the Valorians by communicating with them telepathically while the Rulons used their brain boxes. While great care was taken in the detail of proper dinosaur names and visuals (as far as science knew at the time), different species that existed at different times were often anachronistically shown together.

Questar on his battle dino.

            The Valroians consisted of Questar (Dan Gilvezan), the strong-willed and courageous leader; Mind-Zei (Peter Cullen), a blind warrior with a strong sixth sense; Yungstar (Joe Colligan), an overeager and prideful show-off; Serena (Noelle North), a healer who could detect when people were in trouble; Turret (Charlie Adler), a technician and scientist; Llahd (Stephen Dorff & Shawn Donahue), the youngest member of the group who desired to show he could be as much of a hero as anyone; Gunnur (Cullen), a battle-hardened war veteran who trained the others; Tagg (Wally Burr), a mid-level official who aided in training the others; Ikon (Cam Clarke), a pragmatic statistician who served as one of Questar’s top advisors who could answer his questions instantaneously with his staff; Vector (Gilvezan), another advisor and general contractor whose wrist computer allowed him to assess construction projects around the camp; Aero (Clarke), Yungstar’s chief rival who was the best at handling his Quetzalcoatlus; Tark, a high-ranking official whose experience and knowledge had earned him great respect; Ayce, a trainer and equipment expert; Aries, a young warrior who lacked confidence; and Neutrino, an assistant for various training courses and a capable soldier.

The Commandos prep for battle.

            While the Valorians were a peaceful race, they still saw it pragmatic to have some fighters in their ranks. As a result, there was a subset of the Valorians known as the Commandos: a special forces military unit with specialized skills. Leading them was Astra (Townsend Coleman), a former teacher at the Valorian University and a battle-hardened war veteran; Bomba (Cullen), an explosives expert; Kameelian (Rob Paulsen), a master of disguise and a specialist in surveillance and reconnaissance; Glyde (Welker), an aerial and artillery expert; Faze (Paulsen), also an artillery expert; and Rok, an expert and traversing difficult terrain.

Krulos tamed the mighty T-Rex.

            On the Rulons’ side were Rasp (Welker), Krulos’ snake-like second-in-command who was a smart, resourceful and wouldn’t hesitate to overthrow Krulos as much as he aimed to please him. He commanded the Viper Legion amongst the Rulon army. Hammerhead (Adler), the shark-like commander of the Sharkors who was hot-headed and prone to berserker episodes. Krok (Clarke), the crocodile-like general of Krulos who was absolutely loyal to him. The lower ranking officials in Krulos’ army were the manta ray-like Skate (Welker) and the locust-like Lokus (Adler). The lowest of them all was Antor (Cullen), the slow-witted ant-like general who served as the butt of jokes and commanded the Ant-Men, the primary cannon fodder for the army. Krulos’ frog-design was inspired by the popularity of The Muppets and was named “Kermit” on product sheets before his release (fitting, considering they got Kermit’s actor from Muppet Babies to play him).



            Dino-Riders’ first episode was released onto VHS in 1987 with several commercials to get children interested in the toys before they ever hit shelves. It would debut on television on October 1, 1988 as part of the syndicated Marvel Action Universe. Along with the Conways, it was written by Donald F. Glut, Paul Kirshner, Kayte Kuch, Christy Marx, Larry Parr, Sheryl Scarborough, Alan Swayze and Michael Chase Walker, with Kuch, Parr and Scarborough serving as story editors. Animation duties were handled by AKOM Production Company, Hanho Heung-Up Company and Mihahn, Inc., with music composed by Haim Saban, Shuki Levy and Udi Harpaz. Much of the series was centered around Krulos trying to acquire the STEP while obliterating the Valorians. The Valorians continued to remain on the defensive, with Questar refusing to go on the offensive no matter how much his men advised it would help them end the war. There were also moments where Krulos was defeated by his suit, which kept him constantly hydrated, being damaged but he was saved by the Valorians.

Rasp and Antor.

            The series proved successful and helped boost the sales of the toys. During the third wave of releases, Tyco decided they wanted to change things up. They introduced new mammals and cavemen characters from the Ice Age, and interestingly enough no new Rulon figures (also the only time the concept was historically accurate by keeping primitive man and dinosaurs separate). To introduce the new beings and settings, a direct-to-video 14th episode of the series showed that the Valorians managed to get the STEP activated again, but an attack from the Rulons had the Commandos take the STEP to keep it away from them, ending up in the Ice Age. There, they were entered into a conflict between two warring cavemen tribes. characters. Unfortunately, the new figures weren’t well-received and the line faltered. The Ice Age figures proved to be the final entries into the series. A second season or even a spin-off set in the Ice Age was in the works, but with the show’s job done Tyco ultimately ended the series after the singular season.

Krulos commands you to buy toys!

            Besides the action figures, a line of various merchandise based on them and the show was released. Amongst them were role-playing weapons, a kite, puffy stickers, framed animation cels, a belt buckle from Product Dynamics, a poster, clothing, a Ben Cooper costume of Questar, lunchboxes by Aladdin Industries, sticker albums, a Colorforms playset, and a Super Dough modeling playset. Italy received some unique merchandise in the form of schoolbags and supplies. Golden Books published a line of coloring books that were available individually or as part of a set, as well as jigsaw and frame tray puzzles. Marvel Comics published a 3-issue comic series based on the show by George Caragonne and Kelley Jones, with the first two reprinted by Marvel UK in a hardcover annual. The comics took on a decidedly more mature and darker tone than the cartoon.

Marvel Action Universe promo.

            As said, the first episode was released on VHS as The Dino-Riders Adventure Volume 1 by Tyco with a re-release by Marvel Video. The second episode was released in The Adventure Continues Volume 2 the following year. The finally North American release was Ice Age Adventure in 1989, containing the 14th episode. Internationally, additional episodes were released one or two apiece across various VHS collections. With the Dino-Riders line ended, Tyco found themselves stuck with a lot of dinosaur toys. However, the highly detailed and accurate bodies didn’t go unnoticed. The Smithsonian Institution partnered with Tyco to repackage the dinosaurs without the humanoids and weapons as the Dinosaur and Other Prehistoric Reptile Collection for sale at the National Museum of Natural History.



EPISODE GUIDE:
“The Adventure Begins” (1987 VHS, 10/1/88) – When the Rulons attack, the peaceful Valorians are forced to flee into the distant past to escape them.

“Revenge of the Rulons” (10/8/88) – An earthquake causes the dinosaurs to stampede and destroy the Valorian defenses, ending up with Llahd being captured by Rasp.

“The Rulon Stampede” (10/15/88) – As Serena is pushed to the limit, the Rulons plan to stampede their army of dinosaurs through the Valorian camp.

“The Blue Skies of Earth” (10/22/88) – Embarrassing himself in front of his rival Aero, Yungstar leaves the camp and stumbles upon the Rulons’ plans to attack by air.

“Toro, Toro, Torosaurus” (10/29/88) – Llahd wants to prove himself a hero, but is unable to rescue a herd of Torosauruses alone.

“T-Rex” (11/5/88) – Krulos upgrades the T-Rex’s arsenal and it proves more than a match for the Valorians.

“Krulos” (11/12/88) – Krulos’ suit is damaged in an earthquake and the others squabble over who will be the next leader, while Serena is captured when she searches for a wounded being.

“Tagg, You’re It!” (11/19/88) – Heling some dinosaurs reclaim their watering hole, Tagg discovers a Rulon tunneling operation that’s been causing a series of strange earthquakes.

“Thanksgiving” (11/26/88) – Yungstar and Llahd are captured while the Valorians investigate a new Rulon dam.

“To Lose the Path” (12/3/88) – When the Rulons’ chemical waste causes dinosaurs to fall ill, Yungstar grows so angry that he loses his telepathic abilities.

“Enter the Commandos” (12/10/88) – Questar sends the Commandos to investigate why the Rulons are stealing Triceratops eggs.

“Battle for the Brontosaurus” (12/17/88) – The Commandos and the Rulons are in a race to bring a giant Brontosaurus into their respective ranks.

“One to Lead Us” (12/24/88) – Framed for conspiring with the Rulons, Questar takes self-imposed exile to clear his name as Krulo launches his most ambitious attack yet.

“Ice Age Adventure” (1989 VHS) – The STEP sends the Commandos to the Ice Age where they help a tribe of Cro-Magnon fight against their enemies.

JAN-MICHAEL VINCENT DEAD AT 74



You can read the full story here.


Best-known for his 80’s role in Airwolf, part of Vincent’s early career was spent as Lincoln “Link” Simmons in the Danger Island segment of The Banana Splits Adventure Hour.