Thursday, August 30, 2012

Little Alien Robot Erasers

Little alien robot erasers - just like the ones your teacher used to take away from you in grade school. Or the ones you got from the dentist before they got all high and mighty and started handing out toothbrushes instead. Or the fill in your own joke here. They don't run on batteries, they don't transform, they don't even work as erasers very well, but they're only $8.88 for a bag of twenty-four (what a weird price). Buy 'em for your kids and they'll be the coolest little hipsters on the playground - or drop like 40 or 50 bucks on a few bags, enjoy a couple of bottles of PBR and have yourself an epic little alien robot eraser battle!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Turn Your Phone Into an Arcade

Gaming just got a whole lot itty-bittier with the iCade Jr. from Ion Audio. Just plug in your iPhone or iPod touch and fire up one of the many compatible games from the App Store for a devilishly diminutive retro experience. Featuring a solid arcade-style joystick and eight action buttons (four on the front and four on the back) the iCade Jr. also sports a pass-thru port for use with a USB cable, turning your mini-arcade into the coolest iPhone dock ever. Best of all, it's made to work perfectly with the "Atari's Greatest Hits" app which features 100 classic home and arcade titles from the number one video game maker of the 1980s. But be warned, this little fella costs $69.99, so for 30 bucks more you could pick up its iPad-compatible sibling, the original iCade, instead.

Remember when Noble Roman's didn't suck?

Hint: it was in the 80's.

Before the Indiana-based pizza chain attempted to go national, they were a reputable pizza-monger, known to locals for quality food and a groovy, dimly-lit atmosphere. All locations' windows were covered-over with wood slats to ensure darkness, facilitating movie projection on the walls. Even in the blistering hot midday sun, one could find cool air-conditioned darkness at a Noble Romans. It was too dark in there to see what you were eating. but it tasted good.

Non-hoosiers were introduced to a different face of NoBo's as they expanded into neighboring states–buying up failed Godfather's Pizza locations–and actively competing for the Guinness Book award for least edible, most-nauseating pizza in the known universe. Having eventually achieved that ignoble recognition, they moved on to a "take and bake" business model, and were never frequented again by anyone who likes pizza. Technically they remain in business to this day, but not in a form recognizable to early patrons.

Having mastering profitability without the need for quality product, the innovative pizza chain attempted to do it without employees.

Before they were terrible

A close friend who left Indiana in 1983 randomly asked me about Noble Romans recently. I had to break the news; they no longer existed. We reminisced for a bit about the restaurant's early features:

  • The previously-mentioned dim lighting, ensured by blocked windows
  • A glass window into the kitchen with steps and a small stoop for kids to watch flying hand-tossed dough
  • Doughy, yeasty breadsticks
  • Video game machines, sometimes jukeboxes
  • Candles on the table during evening hours
  • B&W silent films projected on the wall

An original location survived perhaps?

Apparently, I drive past a Noble Romans on my daily commute, its existence barely on the periphery of my consciousness. But after that phone call, something made me glance over as I drove past. I noticed: the windows were covered. The Italian state emblem was on the windows just like the one frequented in my childhood. Could this be a Noble Roman's throwback location? I began my research.

Photo courtesy of Google maps street view.

Reviews of this particular location on Goole Plus Local confirm:

  • A "Dungeon-like interior motif."
  • "Best pizza and breadsticks you can buy."
  • Same owners for the past 29 years. - a good sign

Reviews at Yelp of the same location mention:

  • "The breadsticks are soft, not greasy and covered with butter (a good thing.)"
  • "Deep dish pizza with tomato sauce dolloped all over the place"
  • The same reviewer says: "Nostalgia factor off the charts"
  • "A window into the kitchen were you can watch them make the pizza (there is even a step-up platform so kids can watch.)" ✓!!! We're there!

Gonna find out

Armed with coupons, I'm sending in a crack team of investigative eaters to get the story. Readers of Retrogeeker will get the scoop first. Stay tuned...

Update: A+. In the evening, (of this post,) I convinced the family to give it a try. It felt like nothing had changed since 1986. Each table had its own roll of paper towels. The restaurant layout was the same with the step stool for kids at the glass window into the kitchen, rotating oven, no other windows in the restaurant. No candles (might be a faulty memory) but stained glass Noble Romans lamps over every table. Some old Capcom machines from the early 90's.

Jocelyn & Amelia peering into the kitchen. First time they'd seen hand tossed dough and I was lucky enough to snap a pic at just the right moment.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Mad Ducketts: Converse Mario All Stars

Last year Nintendo, a one-time playing card manufacturer, teamed up with Converse, makers of quality footwear since 1908, to produce a series of Mario Bros-themed Chuck Taylors which include elements of 8-bit art from the 1985 blockbuster video game. The kickin' kicks also feature retro Nintendo fonts on the insoles, special Mario-style stars and even hidden game levels beneath the double-layered ankle panels. Reportedly the shoes sold out the first day that they were released in Japan and have already begun to command ridiculously high prices on the collectors market. If you really want a pair badly enough, head on over to eBay and you can pick up a brand-new sealed pair for only $799. Free shipping, of course.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Ditto On That

Laser printers, photo copiers, who needs 'em? Employed by professional offices all over the world, the Ditto, or spirit duplicator, was where it was at in terms of information reproduction for many, many years, having been introduced by Ditto Inc. in 1910 and used widely well into the 1990s. The print itself was actually pretty terrible and, in fact, tended to fade with prolonged exposure to light, turning the endless rows of pale fluorescent overheads in my grade school into its natural predator. Many of our readers out there probably remember getting handed quizzes and exams that were almost completely unreadable, at which point the teacher would say, "OK, now question number 2 is supposed to read '8 + 3' and question 4 is '10 X 2' and question 7 is..." until you were basically re-writing the entire thing yourself. Of course Dittos had one notable side-benefit that was thought by many kids to be the positive aspect of test-taking: supposedly sniffing the chemical residue left on freshly-minted Ditto sheets would get you rip-roaring high. Check out the video clip from the Cameron Crowe-penned 1981 comedy, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and watch to the very end for an example of the Ditto-sniffing phenomenon in action.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Voice of Vampire Muppet Dies at 78

76...77...78! 78 years is how long Jerry Nelson, voice of Sesame Street's benign blood-sucker, the Count von Count, lived on this planet. He used to scare the crap out of me when I was a kid - the puppet, not the guy - that would be weird. From People magazine:

It's a sad day for numbers.

Jerry Nelson, the puppeteer known for playing the instructional Count von Count on Sesame Street, died Thursday of unspecified causes, according to CBC Radio-Canada. He was 78.

Besides the non-threatening vampire, Nelson, a Tulsa native who grew up in Washington, D.C., also performed Gobo Fraggle on Fraggle Rock and The Muppet Show's Sgt. Floyd Pepper of the Electric Mayhem band; "Pigs in Space" stalwart Dr. Julius Strangepork; Kermit the Frog's nephew Robin; and Gonzo's girlfriend Camilla the Chicken, among other roles, says the site.

He first trained with American puppeteer Bil Baird, who was responsible for the lively "Lonely Goatherd" marionette sequence in the 1965 movie blockbuster The Sound of Music, starring Julie Andrews.

That same year, Nelson worked with Muppet creator Jim Henson on TV's The Jimmy Dean Show, a variety program on which Kermit and the gang first became popular with American audiences.

Nelson's Sesame Street stint began in the '70s, and he continued to be the Count until his retirement in 2004.
Peace Jerry, you old hippie.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Microsoft Mixes It Up...A Little

Today, our beloved old dinosaur, Microsoft, unveiled their first logo redesign in 25 years, taking the familiar multi-colored flag and squaring it off to form more of a, well, window.  It’s one of the many changes the company is making in preparation for the Windows 8 launch, said Jeffrey Meisner, general manager of brand strategy.
“Starting today, you’ll see the new Microsoft logo being used prominently. It will be used on – the 10th most visited website in the world. It is in three of our Microsoft retail stores today (Boston, Seattle’s University Village and Bellevue, Wash.) and will shine brightly in all our stores over the next few months,” Mesiner wrote on the company’s blog.
The new logo is inspired by the company’s brand values, fonts and colors, he explained.
“The symbol is important in a world of digital motion … the symbol’s squares of color are intended to express the company’s diverse portfolio of products.”
The revision comes, Meisner said, ahead of “one of the most significant waves of product launches in Microsoft’s history.”
Frankly, it looks to me like the breeze died down and the old wavy flag logo came to a sudden stop. In light of what Meisner said about "digital motion" I'd say that the new symbol expresses less energy compared to the fanciful designs of Microsoft's past, and since the company has been around since 1975, they are no strangers to logo changes. Check out some of the previous designs that Bill and company had to offer.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Sugar! Sugar! Sugar! Remember back in the day when nearly every damned breakfast cereal had the word "sugar" in the title? Hell, that was basically the keyword on the box that let a kid know that the product was worth buying - of course my parents knew this too and would try to swap out my sugar-bombs for a box of Total or Grape-Nuts when I wasn't looking. Bless them. But at some point in the 90s, the titles on the packages all started to change. Super Sugar Crisp and Sugar Smacks became Super Golden Crisp and Honey Smacks while Sugar Frosted Flakes got castrated to just plain old Frosted Flakes -  I don't think any of the actual ingredients changed, of course, just the names. Well I'm sad to report that the happy-fun adventure-time of breakfast cereal entertainment continues to face the dark, murderous forces of extremist parental groups with the recent axing of the entire General Mills line of monster-branded products which include the lovable Count Chocula, the creepy Frankenberry (which actually turned kids' poop pink when first introduced in 1972) and the bleary-eyed and oft-forgotten Boo-Berry. Well they're not gone entirely, but as of 2010, our favorite old movie-monsters will only appear during the fall/Halloween season in special promotional packages and only for a limited time. Damn this economic freefall we're in! So gather ye rosebuds while ye may and maybe save a couple of boxes of Boo-Berry for me in October. I want to see if it turns my pee blue.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Pitfall Harry In Your Pocket

This month we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the release of the seminal Atari 2600 game, Pitfall! whose rabid popularity helped put a once little-known game company named Activision on the map and on gaming consoles everywhere. Designed by David Crane, Pitfall! was considered to be one of the progenitors of the "platform" genre and paved the way for later games such as Super Mario Bros. and Alex Kidd while showing off to the world just what could be accomplished on such a limited machine as the Atari 2600. So to celebrate, and to cash-in on an old property, Activision has released a new Pitfall! game for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Those familiar with the hit iPhone app, Temple Run, will recognize it as the inspiration for this game in that your 3D character runs down a 3D path of sorts, jumping, swinging and dodging 3D hazards while collecting priceless digital riches and virtual treasures. If you stop, you die. While I personally would have been happier with a translation closer to the original 1982 version, it does prove to be a fun time-waster, albeit a frustrating one at times. Before you go, check out the old Pitfall! commercial featuring none other than a young Jack Black!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Beam Me Up, Portland!

Leave it Portland, Oregon to keep feeding us white, geeky, hipster news. The land espoused by SNL alum, Fred Armisen, as being a place where "the 90s never died" and "the tattoo ink never runs dry," has dipped a little further back into pop-culture's history to bring us a new summer pastime: Trek in the Park. Check out the video below - my apologies for the ad - for a glimpse of the Oregonian brother-sister duo, Adam and Amy Rosko, staging dramatic recreations of some of the original Star Trek's most-loved episodes to an audience of folks who are too hip to have cable.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Tristan Perich: 1-Bit Music

In recent years, the art of producing 8-bit music on 8-bit hardware has been enjoying a sort of renaissance thanks to the generations of kids that grew up with primitive video-game music like the themes from Zelda and Mario. The digital music created on today's modern computers is generally done in 16-bit or 24-bit, both of which allow for a much finer audio resolution and thus much clearer sound than 8-bit. Then there's 1-bit sound, which was employed in 70s and 80s computers such as the Apple II and early IBM PCs to produce rudimentary sound effects and music for video games. In those types of computers, a signal would be sent to a small speaker directly from the CPU which would result in a simple click sound, and since the speaker was either on (making sound) or off (silent), the single click produced was considered to be 1-bit of audio information. Put enough of these click sounds together in rapid succession while varying the oscillation and you've produced a sine wave, one of the building blocks of synthesized tones. Sweat enough blood and you can actually make music with it as did electronic music artist, Tristan Perich. While there are quite a few 1-bit music artists floating around out there on the net, Tristan has gone one step further and created a 1-bit music album, titled "1-bit Music," entirely in hardware. That is, rather than release a recording of his music on a modern format such as mp3 or CD, Tristan's album combines the player and the music into a portable unit which consists of a simple electronic circuit assembled inside a standard CD case. The case itself has a headphone jack mounted on the side that allows the listener to experience 40 minutes of 1-bit music in, as Tristan puts it, the lowest possible representation of audio. You can't buy the album anymore (bummer) but you can visit Tristan's sites and get a glimpse into some really innovative forms of music and visual art, much of which is produced using the same technologies as the album.

CLICK HERE to visit Tristan's 1-BIT MUSIC site

CLICK HERE to go to Tristan's main site

CLICK HERE to explore more 1-bit music

Atari joystick for your PC or Mac

Get back to where you once belonged.

You know it ain't right; trying to play Defender with one of those new-fangled things they call a "game pad." Scooping up humanoids requires only a stick and a button, and does not benefit from "dual shock" or 19 differently-shaped buttons spread out over every rounded surface. You only have 17 fingers so they just get in the way anyway.

Boost your coolness quotient with a life-like working model of the Classic Atari Joystick with USB »

Not authentic enough?

If you're one of the chosen few who still has a working Atari joystick, protected from the elements by a thin layer of sebum from your adolescent years, give it new life. First, fetch it from your parents basement, then plug it in with a Stelladapter interface, set the stick in the groove between your thumb and index finger and get your callus on »

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Learn to Spell While Phoning Home

Way back in ye olden days of yore, my great-great-great-great-great-great-grandpa had to learn his ABCs from what they called a horn-book or crib book, which was basically a bare ping-pong paddle with the alphabet scrawled onto it using a burnt stick or something. While the benefits of having a learning tool around with which you could play a quick round of table-tennis during recess were obvious, humankind soon discovered that a static display and lack of digital sound were keeping future generations from reaching their true academic potentials. Thus, in 1978, the brilliant engineers at Texas Instruments, known for their pioneering work in transistors and integrated circuits, decided to bestow upon us mere mortals, not unlike Moses at Mount Sinai, an electronic tablet. No it wasn't an iPad. It was called Speak & Spell and it was frakking awesome. Designed for children to assist them in learning how to literally speak and spell, the brightly-colored portable battery-murderer was the first device of its kind to feature true digital speech synthesis and not just human voices recorded on tape like the earlier See 'n' Say line from Mattel. While sales of the Speak & Spell were consistently brisk due to its innovative and engaging style of learning-through-playing, the device truly became a monster-seller after its inclusion into the plot of Steven Spielberg's 1982 classic, E.T. Thanks to modern technology, you can re-experience the thrill of spelling "boobies" on one of these machines by going HERE and trying out science teacher Kevin St. Onge's home-brewed Speak & Spell simulator featuring authentic retro sights and sounds! Make sure you've got Flash! (hint: press the "on" button to get the simulator started)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Space-Aged TV's From the World of Tomorrow

Before HDTV, before cable, even before color (well not quite), there was the Philco Predicta - a true icon of post-war, space-aged entertainment technology packaged in an innovatively designed housing. Although immediately identifiable, the Predicta series was pretty atypical for a 1950s TV set as it featured a unique two-bolt, swing mounted, short-necked picture-tube assembly which was heavily trademarked, ensuring that when your Aunt Sally came by to visit for tea, she'd know right away that your family's new television set was a genuine Philco and not some RCA knock-off. Sadly, Philco suffered the same fate as many other American electronics makers and was eventually absorbed by the Netherlands-based company, Phillips, so that they could legally market their products in the U.S. under their own name, which in the past had been deemed to be too similar-sounding to Philco's.
Luckily, greed reared its ugly head and the brains at Philips decided to let the Philco name make them some money by licensing it out to various third-party companies, the best result of which is the brand-spanking-new line of Predicta TVs from a little upstart called Telstar (named after the 1960s comm satellites). True to their retro-leanings, their website is styled a la 1958 and features a wide selection of retro TV styles from which to choose, including the Flash Gordon-inspired Meteor, the Latin-esque Corona and the colorful and way-mod Debutante, all made in the U.S.A. for that authentic retro experience. So take a trip down memory lane with Lucy and Desi by going HERE and plunking down some hard-earned plastic for a seriously fun piece of the past.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The birth of the video arcade

I'm a Nutting Associate, he's a Nutting Associate, wouldn't you like to be a Nutting Associate too?

If you believed the first coin-op video game was Nolan Bushnell's Pong, like most people, you'd be wrong. The first arcade game as we know them today was Nolan Bushnell's Computer Space, which preceded its better-known, wood-paneled cousin by a full year. Computer Space was released by Nutting Associates in 1971 and represented an impossible feat of visionary genius. The machine had no microprocessor, no RAM, and by all accounts should not have been possible to bring to market for several years after the fact. (It was also a giant flop.)

If you're talking about the first successful coin-op video game: yeah, that was Pong. Easier to learn, cheaper to produce, and manufactured by Atari, it was released in 1972 and sold over 10,000 units. It sparked a craze that would put video arcades in every town in America. The game itself was just uh, Pong—a rip off of the Magnavox Odyssey Tennis game, but with the novel addition of sound.

Computer Space, both the game and the story of its unlikely birth, are far more interesting. Bushnell's drive to turn his arcade vision into reality is covered in-depth in this Technologizer article: Computer Space and the Dawn of the Arcade Video Game »

Side-by-side: Pong with Computer Space.

Update - Aug. 30, 2012
Credit where it is due

The in-depth Technologizer article linked above was published just 2 months after an in-depth RetroGamer feature on Computer Space hit the shelves, no doubt providing much of the research for the article. Check out RetroGamer issue #93 to support the original investigative journalism.

Or for additional info that won't cost you 5 euros, see for an obsessive array of pictures, minutia, and even a Computer Space sim for PC.

Update - Sept. 13, 2012
Quick video snippet

Into the Fox's Den

So it seems that long-time co-workers, David Duchovny and GIllian Anderson have finally done what their on-screen X-Files personas could never accomplish. Yup, they're dating. There's even reports that the two have moved in together and Gill's kids are now living with the Kalifornia star (no not Californication, Kalifornia, which is better anyway). Here's a quote I stole off of Geekologie:

"A source exclusively told CDL that David and Gillian have been in a serious relationship for some time now and she and her children are shacking up with the Californication actor. This is a long time coming for the pair whose chemistry on their hit show was always a source of tabloid conjecture. Gillian and David worked together from 1993 to 2002 and starred in the movie version in 2008. Although it seems every fan in the world wanted to get the two together, a relationship was never declared during filming."

Now, I've been doing some web-digging, and it seems that this is mostly conjecture and the reports have all been from way-sketchy sources - plus their publicists are denying the whole thing - but the public doesn't care! This is geek-couple royalty we're talking about here and it's been a few years since we've had a good Mulder-And-Scully-Are-Doing-It story! You can read about it more HERE by searching Google.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Mad Ducketts: iPhone 1st Gen

Want an original 1st generation 2007 iPhone? Me neither, but someone sure does. If you go HERE you'll be taken to an eBay page where some lucky guy is selling one of these things new and sealed in its original packaging, and as of this post the bidding is up to $8,100! Luckily shipping is only $11 so that'll spare some pressure on the winner's wallet. $8,100! Can you believe it? I could pay off so many things with $8,100!!! You've got 2 days left to bid, GO GET IT!!!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Third Planet from Awesome

When I was a kid, one of my favorite books to kill time with was the children's science-fiction classic, Third Planet from Altair (1977) by Edward Packard. It wasn't an ordinary book that you read straight through from beginning to end, but rather an early example of children's literature which employed multiple-plot narratives – that is to say, the story was written in such a way that it allowed the reader to choose how the protagonist reacted in certain situations which invariably lead to new and unpredictable outcomes. This meant that you could read the book over and over again and never experience the exact same story twice. Needless to say, this innovative style, which was popularized by Packard himself, struck a note with young readers and ultimately became a significant influence on the development of the game-book genre in the 80s and 90s. Eventually, many other books by many other authors were added to the series, which became known as "Choose Your Own Adventure," and plenty of clones from other companies were introduced as well such as game-guru Steve Jackson's "Fighting Fantasy" and the "Find Your Fate" series, which featured James Bond and Indiana Jones. Well thanks to University of Maryland student, Greg Lord, we here in the future can now take a closer look into Third Planet from Altair utilizing a unique macro view that demonstrates how the pieces of a "Choose Your Own Adventure" plot all fit together. Along with a flow-chart that maps out the entire story and details each pitfall, Mr. Lord also provides an interesting and detailed analysis into the shaping and construction of such a story and even some insights as to how it relates to hypertext, the basis for all modern web pages.

You can check out his site HERE.

Now turn to page 6.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Retro Tees = Evil Genius?

Ever wonder where Sheldon Cooper of TV's The Big Bang Theory gets his seemingly endless supply of awesomely-ironic and otherwise retrogeek-oriented t-shirts? Yep you guessed it, from the internet! Click HERE to check out for some bitchin' tee designs that'll make you the envy of all of your gnarly friends. From Teen Wolf to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, they've got it all. There's even a section devoted to your favorite prime time genius HERE.

Monday, August 6, 2012

This Ain't No Fooling Around: USB Disco Ball

Let's face it, if you work in an office, you're going to be spending a lot of time in dull situations. It's not your fault – those gray partitions, beige ceiling tiles and that monkey suit you're wearing are all time-honored tools used by Big Brother keep the proletariat of the modern dystopian workplace in line. If Ridley Scott's been scouting for filming locations in your office, you know what I'm talking about. Your only reprieve from the mind-numbing meetings and guilt-induced fund-raisers is the occasional office birthday party, which, from what I hear, aren't quite like they used to be. So what can you do to maximize your 7 minute soiree's potential? Well the next time your buddy Samir Nagheenanajar from down the hall has a b-day bash, just turn out the lights and whip out your (wait for it) USB Disco Ball and you'll swear that you're doing blow with Debbie Harry in the ladies room at Studio 54. If by some chance you happen work in an office that still hasn't managed to upgrade your to computers to one with USB then I suppose you can run the unit on 3 AA batteries, but that really wouldn't be as geekie so, you know, just don't do it.
Now you can 1) head on over to THIS PLACE to buy the thing and check out some groovy photos that are really happening in a far-out way or 2) you can just watch the short video clip below and then go read some more posts. Completely your decision.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Attack of the Princess Bride Jedi!

Yeah, it's Saturday and I'm feeling lazy, how about you? So instead of the usual witty pop-culture examinations I spew forth daily, here's a cool video clip of the fight scene between Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin) and the Dread Pirate Roberts (Cary Elwes) from the Princess Bride, directed by Rob "Meathead" Reiner, however their standard metal swords have been replaced with super-cool lightsabers. Enjoy and have a great Saturday. And if you haven't even seen this movie, it's a bit of chick-flick but a legitimately clever one, like Sliding Doors, except with more Monty Python-esque sensibilities. You should check it out.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Pac 'yer buckaroos, retrogeek style

Next time you travel back to the future—or just to an 80's theme party—complete your bitchin' retro fashion ensemble with the ultimate retro billfold.

We'll assume you're already decked out in the aforementioned 8-bit sunglasses and Casio calculator watch, and are clad in a denim jacket with your favorite band painted on the back. Maybe some kind of vaguely mullety hairdo... I digress.

When it's time to pay for your drink—we'll assume you ordered cherry 7up cuz that shit is outrageous—whip out your hardshell cash protector. The ladies swoon:

Is that a 2600 cartridge in your pocket, or are you just a major retro geek?

I Wear My 8-Bit Sunglasses At Night

These are awesome. What more can I say? They don't light up, they don't check your email, they just sit on your face and look cool. They cost less than $10 so you can buy all of your friends one – wait for it – unless you're still reading this post in which case you probably don't have any...friends, that is (cue the crickets). They also come in a version with clear lenses in case you want to, oh hell I don't know, pretend you're Clark Kent while playing Superman on the Atari 2600 maybe?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Star Wars Micro Arcade Machine

In 1983, the Star Wars franchise was still quite the Hollywood juggernaut as the final installment (or so we thought) of the classic space saga had just been released and moviegoers everywhere were lining up in droves to find out if Darth Vader was really, in fact, Luke Skywalker's father (SPOLIER ALERT: He was, and also Chewbacca turned out to be his sister). Now, the other pimply-faced-teen-oriented money-making powerhouse at the time was none other than the venerable Atari Corp., who had previously been responsible for many of the world's best-loved arcade titles, such as Asteroids and Centipede, as well as some of the worst, like E.T. Little did they know at the time that their hitherto unstoppable cash-machine was about to come to a grinding halt, precipitating the North American Video Game Crash of '83. But just before the proverbial shit hit the metaphorical fan, they managed to release several more classic arcade machines, not the least of which was Star Wars, a game that successfully married the action-packed wizardry of Atari with the spectacular imagination of George Lucas. While of course it's considered to be fairly simple by today's video game standards, Star Wars still holds up as a competent first-person space-shooter that eschews pure realism for good old twitchy fun. So fun, in fact, that a very clever fellow, who goes by the name of Le Chuck, decided to build his own Star Wars arcade machine to have around the house. Well ol' Chuckie must have been short on space because he ended up making a 1:6 scale version of the game which, at 12 inches high, makes a great companion piece to any standard 12 inch action figure, which can be seen HERE along with several other photos of this minuscule masterpiece (worth it). Check out the (somewhat long) video below to get a peek of it in action - yes, it is fully functional including the custom-built steering yoke. And make sure you catch the last 2 minutes if you'd like to see a slide show of the building process. If Le Chuck ever decides to sell this thing, it'll be number one on my Christmas list.