Welcome to episode #8 of the 90s State of Mind podcast - a collaborative project between 4ever in Electric Dreams and Blue-in-Green:RADIO. This podcast series sees Imran (London, UK) and Rhonda (California, USA) delve into some of their favourite releases from the 90s and this week, the pair revisit the debut album from Kelis, 'Kaleidoscope'.
Released in 1999, 'Kaleidoscope' was produced by Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo of The Neptunes making the album a breakout project for all three. Despite underperforming in the US, the album was a moderate success overseas receiving a gold certification in the UK. Spawning three singles including 'Caught Out There', 'Good Stuff' and 'Get Along With You', the album also held the distinction of ranking #391 in Rolling Stone's 2020 list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Blue-in-Green:RADIO is a London-based online internet radio station which celebrates 21st century soul, jazz, funk, Latin & hip-hop music.
Episode #35 of the Close Encounters of the Nerd Kind podcast sees Tee-J Sutherland, Dan Collacott and sitting in for Imran this week is friend of the show, Denis-Jose Francois, discuss the nature of the never-gets-old buddy cop movies.
What is it about that proverbial odd couple set-up in movies that keep audiences continually entertained - whether as a source of high-stakes drama or through fits of laughter. This week's episode finds the gang look at some of their favourite police pairings across a variety of film and TV shows discussing both action and comedy. Also, Dan tests your knowledge with some revered themes from various buddy cop movies so see how highly you score against Tee-J and Denis.
Episode #29 of the Close Encounters of the Nerd Kind podcast picks up from episode #28 where it was decided that each of the team would watch a classic children's/family movie that we had never before seen, then sit down to talk about. This episode sees Dan discuss 'The Princess Bride', Imran review 'Adventures in Babysitting' and Tee-J make a wish for '16 Candles'.
Episode #28 of the Close Encounters of the Nerd Kind podcast sees Tee-J, Imran and Dan settle down to classic movies that we've never actually seen. In a call back to Episodes #10 and #11, we pitch each other three movies and vote on which ones each person should watch. Marvel with us in astonishment at the gaps within our own catalogues!
In the summer of 1991 two cartoon characters premiered on US TV channel Nickelodeon that would change the way we watch cartoons forever. Starring a near psychopathic chihuahua (Ren) and lovable yet dimwitted Manx cat (Ren), the chaotically weird duo became an integral part of must see 90s television. The Ren & Stimpy Show was the cartoon the cool kids watched, it was the show most parents wanted to ban. With strangely surreal adult themes, blatant homosexual undertones, wilful parody and deconstruction of American capitalism (especially aping the 'made to sell toys' cartoons of that era). Ren & Stimpy riffed on 1950s society, whole chunks of each episode were done in black and white, with nods to the slap stick comedy stylings of The Three Stooges and many more. It used the most wonderful back catalogue of movie sound FX and sonically comedy and gross out set pieces ever used. As well as having it's own zany and original score, gut churning close up stills, mind numbing repetition, brain worm quality songs, gross out story lines and characters that pushed every boundary and taboo to the very limit. Nickelodeon even had to heavily edit and cut episodes sent to them (often late) by its producers Spumco, in order to keep the cartoon 'family friendly' before eventually pulling the show from Spumco and its creator altogether for its second season.
It would later turn out that creator and original voice of both characters John Kricfalusi was a deeply troubled genius, with multiple unsavoury accusations surfacing about his private life and even that of one of his Spumco associates. Not to mention the later released (then swiftly cancelled) Adult version of the show, which finally stepped over every line and boundary the original series merely hinted at, ripping out subtext in place of bludgeoning the viewer to death with in your face gross out adult themes and soft porn in cartoon form.
Rich Roth and Dan Collacott sat down to discuss their love of the original cartoon, best moments and episodes and the controversial plans for a reboot. Whilst trying their level best to avoid discussing the cult of personality that is the shows incredible yet deeply flawed creator. Listen below.
Episode #14 of the Close Encounters of the 4th Kind podcast sees Tee-J, Imran and Dan - and special guest Richard Roth - discuss the toys that had the biggest impact on us growing up and we relive the heartache when also highlighting the ones that got away.
By Dan Collacott
If you were a child of the 80s and 90s then you would have seen not quite the birth but definitely the household take over of big franchise toys. Each toy line spearheaded by its own cartoon series or film. Your box shaped television promised you play sets, vehicles and figures in loud, colourful and repetitive advert form. Your Argos catalogue (or similar) told you the value of the toys and where to buy them so you could pester your parents into submission. We did a survey of our manly friends and listeners who were children of the 80s or 90s to pick out the most sought after toys that we either never owned or treasured when we did.
The criteria for our choices were that these toys could not include lego, puzzles, board games, bikes or video/lcd games. Further disclaimer some of these toys made their debuts in America and other countries years before they came to the UK and the retail prices vary. Listen to our top toys podcast here
10. Thundercats: Thundertank: Released 1985 (Reissued in 2012)
Value then: £14 - Value now: £100+ loose complete, £200-300+ boxed complete
Features: It’s claws would rise up and the mouth ramp would open when in pop out mode. Two figures could sit in it one behind the other. The Thundertank was a mighty hunk of tank shaped plastic that kids in the 80s loved.
9. Real Ghostbusters: Ecto 1 - Released: 1984
Value then: £16 - Value now: £50+ loose complete, £80-£150+ boxed
Features: Grappling arm and claw to catch ghosts. Weird pull out chair with guns on it that could clip onto the roof. It looked good but was a bit clunky and naff to play with, not that it mattered!
On a random note Ecto 1 from the far less successful Extreme Ghostbusters cartoon and toy line (featuring cool flashing lights and a siren) was definitely an upgrade on the first toy. Extreme Ghostbusters was released in 1996 meant as a sequel to Real Ghostbusters and was the next generation of ghostbusters semi-led and taught by the original team. Although in reality this only seemed to be Egon, Janine and Slimer (although the rest did cameo at the end).
8. Star Wars: Ewok Village - Play set - Released 1983
Value then: £32, Value now: £120+ loose complete £200-300 boxed complete
Features: Net Trap and cage on pully, hollow plastic tree stumps you could put Ewoks in. It’s a big chunk of plastic that didn’t really do much, but the fact you could recreate scenes from Return of the Jedi made it something that made most kids most wanted lists.
The play set like most Star Wars play sets had a lot of moving and individual parts, it wasn’t that rare to get hold of in the 80s and it isn’t rare now. But to get hold of a complete set with all the Ewoks and accompanying figures is clearly a lot harder nowadays as some of the last Ewoks made cost over £100 each loose.
7. Thundercats: Cats Lair - Play set - Released 1986
Value then: £30-40+ Value now: £80+ loose complete £150-200 boxed complete
Features: Giant laser shooting head, trap door and dungeon, plus electronic FX.
It looks awesome but in reality like most play sets it was pretty limited in what it did, but hey it had a giant cat head that swivels... so who cares!
6. Real Ghostbusters: Firehouse Set - Released 1986 (probably closer to 1988 in the UK)
Value then: £40 or less - Value now: £70+ loose complete £200-300 boxed complete
Features: A swivelling fire pole, doors that you can wheel Ecto 1 through, goop grates and a ghost containment unit and a single ghost trap.
This big ass chunk of plastic was a must have for Real Ghostbusters fans (and fans of the films), it had some nice features without setting the world on fire (no pun intended).
5. Mask: Rhino - Released: 1985
Original cost around: £30. Value now: £60+ loose complete £120+ boxed complete.
Features: Mini buggy that forms the back axel, hidden bomb and launcher, front bumper ram.
After Optimus Prime any big rig lorries were cool and Rhino didn’t disappoint in terms of size feel and hidden features. Rhino wasn’t that rare at the time of release but as Mask arguably wasn’t quite as popular as the other cartoon franchises at the time it wasn’t as common for you or the kid next door to own one.
4. Scaletrix - Knightrider Pursuit Mode - Released 1986
Cost then: £30-40 - Estimated value now: £30 loose £70 boxed
Featured a silver Datsun 260Z (which in my set was actually faster than K.I.T.T which ruined any chases). Even though many consider Scaletrix as the king of trigger press slot car racing brands, it was rivals Tyco that bought the more interesting franchises licenses and featured anything from Transformers to A-Team and Thundercats themed sets. Tyco were bigger in the US so us Brits didn’t have as much choice.
3. Transformers: Optimus Prime Released 1984:
Cost then: £14 Estimated value now for an original standard release: £50-70 loose and complete £150-250+ boxed complete. Reissues and KOs can be cheaper.
Like most transformers, 80s Prime has so many parts that he is difficult to get hold of with his fuel hose and pipe, missiles, separate fists that pop off easily plus roller and big gun! But the fact his trailer opened up into a mini base with operating table/crane made him a popular toy.
Prime has possibly more toy variations than any other toy in existence (not just Transformers) from a French red feet version, to the original Diaclone big convoy version that predated the Hasbro release. Then there are countless reissues and KO versions, not to mention thousands of versions of him that came in the toy lines that followed the 80s version (and then the terrible toys from movies). Even today he is being retooled in new toy lines as well as Masterpiece versions that retail at nearly £400.
2. Star Wars: Millennium Falcon - Released 1979
Cost then: £32 - Estimated cost now: Loose £100-200+ if complete and in good condition
£500+ if boxed and mint
Features: Chair you could sit a figure in that was attached to the main gun that turned round.
The Falcon was tricky to keep complete as a kid (or later to find complete) as it had so many random removable parts, like the radar dish, main gun, trapdoor legs, chess board table and worst of all a small ball and training arm.
There have been over hundreds of different versions of the Falcon since the original including new versions for the final trilogies, and many all new moulds and sizes including Lego (although the 95 version may use the same mould as the original or close). The king of the Falcons is considered to be the giant 30 inch (2 feet long) 2010 Legacy Millennium Falcon which has a raft of parts and sound fx, only downside is because it’s so huge it’s hard to find space for it.
AND THE WINNER!
1. Masters of the Universe - Castle Grayskull - Play set - Released in 1983
Cost then: around £35 - Estimated value now: £150-300 loose depending on condition and if it’s complete. £500+ if boxed and mint.
Features: Gun tower, weird pulley lift, chair that when turned triggers a cool trapdoor.
Castle Grayskull was made as a play set for both the 1980s and 2002 Masters of the Universe toy lines (before being released again in 2013 when the toys were rebooted again). It is considered by many as king of the 80s play sets, because who doesn’t want a giant green plastic skull on their bedroom floor!
Other nominated 80s toy favourites:
Mask: Boulder Hill, Star Wars: AT AT
Ominibot 5402, Speak and Spell, Transformers: Metroplex
WWF: Ring Playset Blue, Big Trak, Thunderbirds: Tracey Island play set
GI Joe: HQ play set, GI Joe: Cobra play set, TMNT: Turtle Blimp
My Pet Monster, Marvel Secret Wars: Tower of Doom play set
Real Ghostbusters: Ghost Zapper, TMNT: Sewer play set
TMNT: Technodome Playset, Photon/Lazer Tag set
Masters of the Universe: Snake Mountain - Play set
Thundercats: Tomb Fortress, Star Trek The Next Generation: Enterprise D Bridge
Transformers: Fortress Maximus, Micro Machines: Lunch Box play set
Micro Machines: Gas Can Play set, Eliminator TS-7, Mr. Potato Head
Teddy Ruxpin, Star Wars: Jabba's Palace, Scalextric: Le Mans 24hr
Power Wheels, Masters of the Universe: Eternia, Zoids: Zoidzilla
G.I. Joe: U.S.S. Flagg, G.I. Joe: Space Shuttle, Stretch Armstrong
Thundercats: Hovercat, Thundercats: Sword of Omens
by Dan Collacott
One of the best things about straight to VHS films was the fact they often toyed with insane concepts that would usually only be reserved for video games. Arena is exactly that, it's like someone went 'what if Tekken was a movie' only Arena actually predated Tekken and is far more crap than that idea.
Arena tells the story of a futuristic fighting tournament where alien species dominate. Only this time lead Steve Armstrong (Paul Satterfield doing an amazing Christopher Reeve impersonation) is fired from his job as a cook and persuaded to become the first human in a thousand years to try and win (easy right?). The competition also uses some kind of equalising system that levels the fight for each participant, no matter what their physical/strength/limb to teeth ratio differences are (and yes despite this they still cheat like absolute bastards). Steve is assisted by mentor/manager/companion 'Shorty', a Bilbo Baggins-a-like who looks like he wandered from the shire onto the set of Arena, where some FX experts then attached two new but non working arms to his body without telling him.
Directed by B-Movie helmer Peter Manoogian, Arena has plenty of cliches and goofy acting plus a garish 80s wardrobe of horrendous outfits, featuring a lot of make up and clothes borrowed from starlight express, including lots of silver, gold, big perms, wide shoulders and shiny/sparkly things. Steve's initial fighting outfit is so weird and camp it looks like something from a very bad Eurovision pop video. Weirdly most of the creatures Steve fights are incredibly slow and cumbersome looking, one of them is even called Sloth and you can kind of see why.
There is a bit of romance between 'no nonsense' fighting promotor Quinn and Steve and the directors clearly spent most of the film trying to recreate the Cantina scene from Star Wars only with the budget and attire of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.'
Aesthetically watching this film made me feel like they had got extras and actual actors from Babylon 5 and every 80s B-Movie FX specialist to create some insanely weird creature FX on their coffee break (the film is alleged to have had a $10 million budget). In a world before CGI the physical effects are great despite this being a low ball B movie (ok maybe 'great' is an over statement but they sort of work). Released at a time when Rocky was absolutely huge, Arena is a true against all odds underdog story, where humanity gets its mojo back when it realises one of their own can win the biggest tournament there is.
by Dan Collacott
Before the current age of streaming plus on demand movies and fast cinema to DVD/Blu-Ray releases, there were VHS videos (or for a short time Betamax). If you were a child of the 70s or 80s the wonders of the cinema were often secondary to the treasure trove your local video rental shop presented. Back then most block buster films took an age to land on video, which meant there was a huge market for cheaply shot straight to video movies. Including a lot of films that were rip offs of their big budget cinema brethren.
Often VHS/TV films were able to do a great deal on small budgets, showcasing often hugely imaginative concepts and ideas that no big time movie producer would risk. In my Straight to Video series we will be looking at some of the best films that skipped the big screen and landed in your video rental outlet.
My first pick is Wedlock (also know as Deadlock) a film that stars one of the kings of 'straight to VHS' movies, the late great Mr. Rutger Hauer! A man who seemed to excel in small screen action/martial arts style films. Odd considering this is a man who back in 1982 starred in one of the biggest sci-fi films of all time (all be it at the time Blade Runner wasn't nearly as appreciated as it is now).
What is Wedlock about, I hear few cry? (Mild spoilers below)
Set in the not too distant future, Mr. Hauer stars as diamond thief Frank Warren. After a shiny stone robbery, Frank ends up being imprisoned in Camp Holliday (silly names ahoy) after his best mate Sam and fiancée Noelle (Mimi Rogers), betray him and hand him over to the authorities. Why? Well of course they don't want to split the diamonds three ways and Sam presumably doesn't want to share Noelle! But fear not Frank has hidden the diamonds so both his partners in crime are unable to reap the spoils of their dastardly actions.
The Sci-Fi Concept at the heart of the film:
Camp Holliday is an experimental prison camp with no cells or walls, this is because each convict is given an electronic collar containing an explosive device which is electronically connected to another inmate. If any one tries to escape from the camp and is separated from their collar-mate by more than 100 yards, their collars will explode (yep exploding heads folks, that is this films gory punchline). Even at the time I saw this film as kid I remember thinking 'surely any Government round the world should watch this film and build new prisons using this in-genius concept?' I wonder if even now I could pitch the idea of proximity triggered exploding collars to the UK Government?
Back to the plot... Frank fortuitously finds out he is connected to fellow inmate Tracey Rigg and they both escape with their exploding head collars in tact. Despite them fleeing the camp, things get even more intense when both realise it's not only the authorities that are pursuing them but back on the scene are traitorous duo Sam and Noelle (who still need Frank's help to find the diamonds). Wedlock soon becomes a good old fashion chase film, where the two leads must avoid capture and find the diamonds without accidentally at any moment separating for more than 100 yards! (As if they do boom go their brains and nicely quaffed 90s haircuts).
Directed by legend Lewis Teague who is famous for some very good 80s and 90s films (Cats Eye, The Jewel of the Nile 1985, and sequel Romancing the Stone, 1984) and also terrible ones (Navy Seals, 1990).
Wedlock was even funded by US TV giants HBO!
Verdict: Wedlock takes a genius sci-fi concept, mixes in some bad future action and cheap FX/gore, a sprinkling of wooden and silly over acting to produce a goofy piece of retro action heaven. It also stars Danny Trejo as Tough Prisoner #1, so what's not to love?
Also check out these other awesome Rutger Hauer films: Blind Fury, The Hitcher and Beyond Justice.
Episode #11 of the Close Encounters of the 4th Kind podcast follows on from Episode #10 which saw Tee-J, Imran and Dan confess to classic movies they haven't actually seen ('2001: A Space Odyssey', 'Monty Python & The Holy Grail' and 'The Godfather', respectively). This episode catches up with the gang now having seen the movies in question and discussing whether they were worth the hype in the first place.
The 4Ever team...
Welcome to 4ever in Electric Dreams which is the virtual HQ and home to our burgeoning podcast network spearheaded by our flagship series, Close Encounters of the Nerd Kind (C.E.N.K.).
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