Retroville: Looney Tunes Racers

Two things that I loved growing up were…

Looney Tunes

Looney Tunes characters

and cars.

Cars

So wouldn’t it be great if someone were to make some toys of Looney Tunes characters in customized cars? Thankfully someone did.

Looney Tunes Racers 2

A toy company known as ERTL made a set of die cast toy cars featuring the classic Looney Tunes characters. I first became aware of ERTL and these toys in 1989 when I saw this commercial on TV.

Now, I was 20 in 1989, so when I saw this ad, my reaction was “That’s cool,”, but if kid me had seen this, it would have been more like….

I have to wonder why Tweety and the Road Runner would need to drive cars when the former can fly and the latter could easily out run a car, but this isn’t Talkin’ Nerdy, so I should stop thinking so much.

Looney Tunes Racers

Anyway, these are nicely sculpted figures. I like the deigns and the colors. As was seen on the commercial, there are only six of them: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Sylvester, Road Runner and Tweety. To my knowledge, there weren’t any more made, so I have to ask ERTL, why did you stop there? Why not expand the toy line to include some other LT characters? How about Yosemite Sam in a monster truck (I had a dream once where I saw that toy in a Kay Bee)? Taz in a bulldozer? Marvin the Martian in a flying saucer? Lola Bunny in a convertible? Elmer Fudd in a stretch limo (after all, he owns a mansion and a yacht)?

While researching these toys, I discovered that ERTL also made some Looney Tunes die cast figurines.

Looney Tunes Figures by ERTL

…So it looks like I need to pay Ebay a little visit. Hey, guys…

Fry money meme

Retroville: Beastly Kingdom

Have you ever actually looked at the logo for Disney’s Animal Kingdom, man?

disney-animal-kingdom-logo

Wild!

You’ve probably noticed that one of the animal silhouettes is a dragon.

Animal Kingdom Dragon

But why is that when there aren’t any dragons in Animal Kingdom? Well, at one time there actually were going to be dragons. Thus the subject of today’s Retroville, Beastly Kingdom, the Disney World attraction that never was.

Beastly Kingdom

“The rides are OVER! It’s about to get real…real ZOOLOGICAL up in this mug!”

Beastly Kingdom was a section that was to be built in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Animal Kingdom’s original dedication plaque read like this:

DAK-15-Year-Map-1998-Dedication-Plaque

The Animal Kingdom park was initially supposed to “pay tribute to  all the animals that ever were, and those that never were…” in other words, it focuses on three types of animals:

Today’s existing animals…

Animal Jam Animals

…Extinct animals…

dinosaur-clipart-baby-dinosaur-dinosaur-digital-clipart-volcano-background-digital-clipart-commercial-use-amb-1203-58c88a281

“Don’t say the ‘E’ word!”

…And animals that don’t exist.

Fleur de Lis

“I don’t exist, eh? Then I’m guessing I’m not here to glare angrily at you!”

The latter has not been featured in the park (with the exception of Expedition Everest), but plans for a section of their own were made during the creation of the park. The area was to feature such animals as dragons, unicorns and sea monsters.

Beastly Kingdom 3

Beastly Kingdom 2

The section was to feature realms surrounding “good” and “evil” creatures. (I personally find the ‘good and evil’ tropes to be kind of cliched and boring, but whatever.) The good realm would have been home to an attraction called Quest of the Unicorn, which would have been a mythological maze leading to the grotto where the unicorn lived.

Quest_unicorn_parr

The Unicorn would have been spotted hanging out at, surprise, surprise! Unicorn Lagoon.

The good realm would also have featured Fantasia Gardens, an attraction based on the movie Fantasia, that would have been a musical boat ride that takes you the animal scenes of the movie. The idea, similar to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, would have featured hippos and crocodiles from “Dance of the Hours” along with pegasi, fauns, and centaurs from “Pastoral”.

fantasiagardens1-2

Fantasia Pegasi

Whimsy. We’re full of it.

Beastly Kingdom Dragon

On the evil side would be feature an attraction called Dragon’s Tower ruled by a greedy fire-breathing dragon that housed a treasure in the tower’s chamber.

Dulcy

“Gah, this stereotype again? We dragons aren’t menaces, OK? I only leveled a village once! I sneezed really hard and then I stubbed my toe!”

The attraction would also involve a group of bats threatening to take the dragon’s throne and riches. The bats would enlist the guests help and take them on a wild roller coaster to do so. The climax, similar to other Disney rides, would involve an encounter with the dragon himself, resulting in a near-charred train of guests.

burnt-man-with-match-over-white-background-99234752

“S-S-S-S-Smokin!”

The section never came to fruition mostly due to budget cuts.

Nerdy-Accountant

“You know how much, glitter, rainbows, thrones, grottoes and dungeons cost?!”

It was soon replaced by Camp Minnie-Mickey, a section mostly filled with character meet-and-greet areas.

Mickey Mouse

“Ya shake a few hands, do the laugh, get your picture taken with the drooling  little thumb-suckers, whatever. I should charge for my photo ops, but it’s good PR, and it keeps the rabble in line. What, are the cameras rolling? I mean, uh…OH, BOY! I sure do love those tourists!”

Remnants of the never-made land can still be found in the park. Though, as with Hidden Mickeys, you have to look close. For example, there is a section in the parking lot labeled “Unicorn”.

Unicorn Crossing

As previously stated, the Animal Kingdom logo also features a silhouette of a dragon. Inside the park, a dragon-shaped stone fountain can be found in Camp Minnie-Mickey.

Dragon_Statue_entrance

A detailed dragon head statue is found atop one of the ticket booths at the park’s entrance. By far, the biggest examples of Remnants would be a cave in Camp Minnie-Mickey that exhorts blasts of fire. Guests are often told that a fire-breathing dragon lives there. Outside the cave, suits of armor are displayed.

Dulcy

“Unfair portrayal by the media strikes again!”

Also, the Happy Meal toys which came out at the time of Animal Kingdom’s launch featured a dragon, a reference to the never made Beastly Kingdom.

disney-animal-kingdom-dragon-toy-wings-down

Dulcy

“Hey, he’s kinda cute! I’m suddenly digging the color purple!”

Spyro

“Yup, I like purple too!”

The section that would’ve been Beastly Kingdom was later designated for the upcoming Pandora: The World of Avatar.

So let me get this straight: we could’ve gotten a cool fantasy land full of unicorns, dragons and stuff, but we can’t have that ’cause it’s not in the budget…yet it IS in the budget to throw away millions on an entire land based on a movie which no one’s talked about for years?

james-cameron-avatar-2-3-4-5-release-dates

-Yeah, that makes perfect sense.

Nerdy-Accountant

“Well, we don’t own the Smurfs, so….”

Retroville: Funny Face

Welcome to a new segment here in Twinsanity (we told you things were starting to happen here) called Retroville–where we look at toys, products, theme park attractions, live shows and concerts, novelties and other assorted merch that are based on cartoon franchises or feature cartoon characters; not specifically animation, per se, but connected to cartoon culture or at least in a related field, as well as past ad campaigns, retail and restaurant chains, toys and novelty products, hence the name Retroville. On Retroville we’ll be pulling out those kitschy things that make you smile and say…

smiley-face-with-mustache-and-thumbs-up-interview

“Hey, I vaguely recall that!”

Before we start, I have to give credit where credit is due: the Toon Adjacent segment was the brain child of my brother Jason (Goldstar), so once again Jason has saved this blog from the abyss. Let’s give him a big hand.

Now, on with the show!

-Today’s Toon Adjacent looks at Funny Face.

Funny Face

“Fruitzilla’s here, baby!”

funnyface-1

If you were a kid in the 60’s or 70’s, you probably know about these Technicolor Fruities. If you don’t, lend me your ears: Funny Face was a kids’ drink product introduced by Pillsbury in 1964, coming in an assortment of 6 flavors, each sporting a different kooky anthropomorphic fruit character with a catchy gimmick and correpsonding name. They were originally created by Hal Silverman at Campbell Mithun Advertising for his daughter; Silverman’s nickname for his daughter was Freckle Face, then the rest of the Funny Face characters just fell into place after that. Four of them, Goofy Grape, Rootin’ Tootin’ Raspberry, Loud Mouth Lime and Freckle Face Strawberry, were innocuously innocent enough, but the other 2, well…..

Injun Orange & Chinese Cherry

Yes, the other 2 Funny Face flavor characters were named Injun Orange and Chinese Cherry. They were funny, because they were ethnic. Hee-larious, right?

Gary Coleman

“Dat’s racist, yo!”

To be fair, Silverman meant no harm; remember this was 1964, and such ethnic caricatures were the norm at the time, but not surprisingly, the Native American and Asian communities weren’t too thrilled with their very cultures being characterized as shtick, so Pillsbury smartly complied and changed those characters to Jolly Olly Orange and Choo-Choo Cherry.

There was also the matter of Funny Face’s artificial sweeteners: The company originally chose a substance called cyclamate, which was deemed dangerous by the FDA (it was discovered to have caused cancer in laboratory rats). Scientists were quoted as saying:

Did I Do That

So after a few years, Funny Face was pulled from store shelves. After a bit of reformulation, the product returned with harmless saccharin in its place, and also offered an unsweetened version so consumers could add their sweetener of choice. Eventually, larger packages of Funny Face were made available that contained sugar.

For a while, the Funny Face crew were riding strong, even rivaling Kool-Aid in popularity for kids’ drinks. They even spawned merchandise, such as toys…

Funny Face Toys

…Mugs…

Funny Face Mugs

Drink it in!

…Pillows…

Jolly Olly Orange Pillow

…And even storybooks.

funny face 01 COVER

Eventually, the Funny Face roster expanded to include such colorful personalities as Lefty Lemon…

Lefty Lemon

…Captain Black Cherry…

Captain Black Cherry

…With-It (or Way-Out) Watermelon…

With-It Watermelon

“Groovy, babuh!”

…And Rah-Rah Root Beer.

Rah Rah Root Beer

thumb-down-smiley

“Weak, dude!”

Peep out these Funny spots from the ancient 1970’s.

Smiley bored 2

“Color me unimpressed.”

Well, those ads were…boring. For a product called Funny Face, you would think their ads would be, you know, funny. The image of a giant anthropomorphic pitcher of juice with a face, arms and legs smashing through a brick wall is something you’ll never forget if you’ve seen it, but these spots were just bland, plus it was weird seeing characters like Goofy Grape and Lefty Lemon speaking with normal voices and acting like regular folks. Where were the antics? Where was the shtick? Where was the FUNNY? I expected a commercial for a product called Funny Face to be more like this:

Evidently, 70’s kids felt the same way: ultimately, Funny Face just couldn’t compete with Kool-Aid, and by the time the 70’s were over, so was Funny Face. Only Kool-Aid remained.

Kool-Aid Man Wrecking Ball

“THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE! OH YEEEAAAH!”

For a brief period in the 80’s Pillsbury tried launching a product called Moo Juice, but it just wasn’t the same. Recently, I came across something interesting: a series of animated shorts starring the Funny Face gang, produced by Renegade Studios.

Now, that’s more like what I would expect from a product called Funny Face. Why couldn’t the 70’s commercials have been more like that? They might still be around now. Plus, Rootin’ Tootin’ Raspberry had a John Wayne sound-alike voice. Nice touch.

(Sidebar: I’m guessing the writers of these weren’t too fond of With-it Watermelon; they just had him get splattered by a truck and he never turned up again. A tad harsh, I think. With-It Watermelon wasn’t that bad a character; he was definitely a better idea than Rah Rah Root Beer. He’s not even a fruit!)

I don’t know what these animated shorts were for, but who knows? Maybe Funny Face can resurface one day. There’s nothing wrong with free enterprise, and if the characters would actually be portrayed as humorous, not bland and boring like in those 70’s commercials, I’d be down.

Goofy Grape

“Stay funny, my friends.”

Retroville: Chexmates

Howdy, y’all.

Before we start with the usual merriment, a little house cleaning: I know we haven’t posted anything new in the past 13 days, but there’s no cause for alarm; we haven’t quit or gotten sick or joined a biker gang without telling you, and we certainly haven’t been smuggling unicorn manes across the Canadian border. No, we just haven’t been inspired to do anything new lately, plus things have kind of busy in real life lately, so we’ve just been taking a little break until the next big ideas come along. We’ve got new entries coming down the pike, we promise. Now, onto the article.

Today’s Retroville scans the cereal aisle once more, this time uncovering a forgotten set of breakfast mascot heroes. Before there was Alfie the Alpha-Bits Cereal Wonder Dog, before there was Officer Crumb the Cookie Cop, before there was Apple and Cinna-Man, there were The Chexmates.

chexmates_zpsgy9vcdfb

Saving the day…one bowl at a time.

For the uninformed, the Chexmates were the ID characters for Ralston-Purina’s Chex family of cereals circa 1968. They were a trio of high-spirited kids who would avert disasters and perform heroic feats after fueling up on their namesake product. Think a late 60’s Teamo Supremo that shilled cereal.

chexmates202_zpstp9y9dg3

The Chexmates’ roster consisted of:

Chexter, a tall, barrel-chested bohunk with large shoulders possessing colossal strength…

strong20man_zpsx6roj90n

Mayhaps Chexter was the unmentioned son of Strong Man from the Mighty Heroes.

Jessie Jane, the only girl in the gang, who wore rodeo gear and did amazing things with her lasso (more Teamo Supremo similarities, with the team’s only female member being a cowgirl who does rope tricks)…

…And finally, a little Asian boy in a white karate gi and bare feet (must be a fan of Ryu from Street Fighter) who talked in Charlie Chan-speak and was a karate master named Chop Luey.

dr20smith_zpswgaxxcye

Yes, the name is groan-inducing, and Luey’s fortune cookie mode of speech was more than a tad stereotypical (contrary to what you might think I’d say, a character like Chop Luey could easily fly in today’s media; he’d just have be rendered more fluent in English and drop the “Ah so”‘s and “Honorable”s from his dialogue), but the kid did have chops, not to mention serious Kung-Fu Grip, so that’s saying something. Here are the Chexmates in action.

By the way, if the animation and character designs resemble those of early Hanna-Barbera, that’s no accident: apparently, HB did the animation for the Chexmates’ spots.

hanna-barbera-logo_zpshtfjyohm

gorrila_grodd_zpsblbcbmvv

“I should probably mention that gorillas belong to the ape family and aren’t monkeys at all, but that’s a common mistake you so-called higher primates often make!”

Some more ads:

It’s probably best to stop here, since if we went any further you’d begin to wonder how 3 kids with no government ties, apparent technological or engineering skills or visible income managed to build a sophisticated working space rocket.

Nowadays, most of Ralston’s cereal properties are owned by General Mills, and cereal mascots aren’t quite the staples of kid-vid that they once were, but maybe one day someone will try to revive the Chexmates, as a heroic team united by breakfast.

mojo20jojo_zpsg7hncja7

“Perhaps protecting the environment, or whatever.”

Retroville: Cereal Killers

Today Retroville takes a walk down the murky depths of the breakfast cereal aisle, chronicling breakfast’s Hall of Lame; some of the most infamous and shortest-lived kid-vid breakfast cereals and their mascots.

First up, we have OJs, no, not an O.J. Simpson themed cereal (“use the map on the back of the box to find the real killers!”), but rather an orange juice flavored cereal circa 1985, whose mascot was an orange-wrangling cowboy named OJ Joe.

Not hard to see why this one didn’t last; it was 2 great tastes that taste weird together. Generally speaking, folks like cereal, milk and orange juice for their breakfasts, but not all in the same dang food! Though I hear that mixing orange juice with milk is something of a trend in California.

“Californians are weird, brah!”

Next up is Punch Crunch, one of the lesser-known and quickly forgotten cereals from the Quaker Cap’n Crunch family. It was a fruit punch flavored cereal. Its’ mascot was Harry S. Hippo, an enormous (so what else?) pink hippo who liked to dance.

“Hmm, that guy sounds kinda familiar.”

Yes, that was Bill Scott, the original voice of Bullwinkle J. Moose, as Harry.

-Funny story: for a while there was an internet rumor saying that the reason why Punch Crunch was taken off the shelves was because people found the character of Harry S., a dandy pink hippo who loved to hoof it, to be an offensive homosexual stereotype (’cause we all know guys who like pink and enjoy dancing are automatically gay, right?), but that’s not even close to the truth. The reason that Punch Crunch was discontinued was because it was one of THE single nastiest concoctions ever wrought by man! As a kid I begged my parents to buy this after seeing that commercial, that Saturday morning I poured myself a bowl, and on that day I learned what a gag reflex was. I quickly poured that crap right down the garbage disposal–before it committed suicide.

Next, we have Ice Cream Cones cereal, which was (no prizes for guessing), an ice cream cones flavored cereal. Another gem from the 80’s.

I can’t put it any better than Mr. David Letterman, who had this to say about Ice Cream Cones cereal:

“All you need is a couple of candy bars, and you’ve got a real nutritious breakfast here.”

Finally, we have Sugar Rice Krinkles (yes, it was actually spelled with a ‘K’; yay, literacy!) from Post, which boasted numerous mascots over its’ brief lifetime. When the cereal debuted in 1951, its’ mascot was Krinkles the Clown. For those too young to remember, try to imagine if John Wayne Gacy did a cereal ad:

For years, this guy plugged Sugar Rice Kuh-Rinkles, all the while giving kids at home childhood Tuh-Rama.

“EVERYTHING FLOATS IN MILK!!”

There's a reason why clowns perform at children's hospitals: the kids can't run away from them there.

There’s a reason why clowns perform at children’s hospitals: the kids can’t run away from them there.

Later, Post replaced Krinkles with an animated character named So-Hi, who, like all of Post’s cereal mascots at the time, appeared on Linus the Lionhearted, a 30-minute animated plug for General Mills Post cereals which ran from 1964 to 1969. So-Hi was a Chinese boy–and that was his entire character shtick. He fell very firmly in the fortune-cookie phrase spouting “no tickee, no shirtee!” shtick, but keep in mind when this was. The character was named So-Hi because he was “just so-high”. Don’t shoot the messenger, I didn’t come up with that.

“Not cool, man. Geez, I’m an ancient martial arts master from a fighting video game, and I found that horribly racist!”

Sugar Rice Krinkles’ final mascot before getting discontinued altogether was a rather chipper milkman named Manfred, whose ‘nemesis’ was a sourpussed old coot named Gloom McDoom who wanted everybody else to be as miserable as he was (obviously an anhedonic, or a typical sullen teenager).

I don’t know, ‘the krinkles’ don’t sound like something I’d want my stomach to have.

“Say, that ‘smile a happy smile today’ line sounds kinda similar to our Hey Girls’ motto ‘Share a Smile’. Think we have a lawsuit? Mama could use a new gingham hat!”

Rumor has it that Gloom McDoom went on to pursue a career in political punditry:

Glenn Beck

As an added bonus, here’s something else Manfred the Milkman plugged during his short career:

*Give yourself a bonus gold geek star if you noticed the Honeycomb Hideout in the background there.

Well, there’s only one word for that trippy trip down Memory Lane: