Monday, June 29, 2009

Friday, June 26, 2009

R.I.P. Michael Jackson


One of my beefs with the internet age is the lack of a universal cultural touchstone. People today exist on virtual islands in a way that wasn't possible thirty (!) years ago. So, I've decided that a cultural phenomenon is a generally good thing, and that's what my generation witnessed with Michael Jackson. For your average thirty something, the death of Michael Jackson really hits home. He's our John Lennon, or Elvis, the famous guy that dies and takes a part of your childhood with him.

I was just getting into holding hands when Michael Jackson exploded with "Thriller," and, like billions of other people, I learned to Moonwalk. "Billie Jean" was the song to grab your girl for an intense, amateur hour style couples dance. I had clothing with too many zippers, watched too much MTV, and I understood that Michael's lone glove made him appear "enigmatic." Jackson's music still gets played in clubs. Pop music and the way we think about it changed because of this guy, no matter how "out there" he became.

I have to admit it, I secretly longed for the day when Michael would renounce his strange activities and record the best album any of us will ever hear in our lifetimes. Alas, it was not meant to be. It is small consolation that we are now permitted to openly appreciate and show our affection for the man who entertained two generations of the entire world.

michael jackson Pictures, Images and Photos
August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Microman to Diaclone

Here are some awesome commercials from 70's Japan. They're great marketing for even better toys, and lots of fun. This is a series of spots that illustrate how Microman/ Micronauts evolved into Diaclone/ Transformers in their country of origin. This is basically one product line that was marketed to appear as a new product after a sales slump. These toys will be familiar stateside as "Micronauts" and "Transformers"

Dig the metal background music.

Do you recognize this world wide favorite?

Check out the kids in this one...

What the hell is that kid saying?!

This one must have aired late at night. Please keep in mind Microman's original mission of getting kids interested in science when you watch this. It will help you understand why I nominate this next commercial for "Most Bad Ass Toy Commercial In the History of The World For All Time"

Here Microman starts to incorporate vinyl figures and a new theme song. It's a few years along for these toys and now Time Traveler is on his the way out.

As the 70's come to a close...

Here we see the beginnings of Diaclone, the final nail in the Microman's coffin.



and yet another world wide favorite...

Diaclone is a hit!

There are more of these, but you get the idea. I love how Takara segues one toy concept into the other as Microman's vehicle accessories gradually take on a life of there own as Diaclone. I don't think toy companies operate like that in the states. You just know that there were kids in Japan totally unaware of how this transpired. They probably just ignored Microman until all of sudden there was Diaclone. Despite briefly slumping sales, the fact that both these concepts were huge international successes is remarkable. Sadly, Diaclone devolved into Transformers, where it lingers in mediocrity to this day. I guess when you consider the mountain of products produced during the 70's it's not so bad. Westerners will never really know the extent of what was manufactured as Microman and Diaclone, but we can have fun trying.