Tuesday, November 18, 2014

What's in the Box?!: Dino Drac Fun Pack November 2014

I really need to stop coming up with different features for this place. It's getting crowded over there in the tags. Regardless, welcome to a new feature I have actually been planning for a long time and I figured the best way to kick it off would be to talk about Dinosaur Dracula. You don't know who that is? Well, it's time you started learning, because clearly you're missing out. Basically, Dinosaur Dracula is a place not unlike this one, only its handled a lot better and is run by a guy named Matt who writes some of the most entertaining things you can find on the internets. Now, why am I over here tooting another writer's horn? Because, in addition to writing awesome stuff, he also makes these lovely Dino Drac Fun Packs and I finally was able to procure one. It's harder to manage than you think when you're short on funds whenever it comes time to get one.

I'm usually too busy blowing my money on other things.

But this month I managed to get myself on that list of subscribers and now I am the proud recipient of a Dino Drac Fun Pack. Now, what sets this box of goodies apart from your Loot Crate or your Nerd Block? Well, in a nutshell, it's got to be the effort and the love. I mean, I'm not accusing the makers of those other goody boxes of being heartless. What I'm saying is that with the Fun Pack, you can tell Matt put thought into them beyond "let's jam some popular themed items in here". He puts things in here that he loves, that he enjoys, and each pack is full of nostalgic beauty. Cracking it open, I just felt a wave of joy sweep over me. Just look at it.

Alright, maybe it doesn't look super impressive in the box...
Please, hold your words for a moment and allow me to properly unload this package so you can truly see the contents as they should be seen. You know what they say, don't judge a book by its cover.

Ah, now there we go. A proper haul on display.
I don't know about you, but that assortment of items up there brings a tear to my eye. Why? Because, what you see up there is a reflection of my childhood. My memories packed neatly into a box and dropped off at my doorstep to remind me that life can be good. Sure, it might not hit you the same way it hits me, but this isn't your article, so we're going to focus on me here. Me, me, me. Did I mention me? I am pretty important. So, as to give this box of loot a proper review I will now go over the items one at a time. Because, regardless of what I may have said in jest, this actually about the goodies and not really me. First off, let's talk about those stickers.

I totally count these as an important part of the overall package.
Here we see three stickers. On the right we have two seasonal stickers that honestly make me think more of December than November. Come on, Matt, where are my turkey stickers! That aside, they remind me of stickers I'd see stuck to presents when I was young. It hits a pretty warm spot in my memory and I commend the use of them. On the left, we have the dinosaur attacking a haunted house with the initials of Dinosaur Dracula above. It's simple, it's blue, it's brilliant. Sadly, it was the only sticker I was able to remove. I stuck it promptly to my dry erase board along with my gaggle of other assorted things. I think it will feel right at home there. I will try to save the other stickers again later.

Speaking of nostalgia...
Is that...it is! A copy of a classic Olympic Prizes or Cash ad from the 1980s! Oh man, you really won't understand how much this thing makes me smile unless you also found yourself thumbing through comics during that time period and ran across these ads filled to the brim with enticing things you were never quite sure how to obtain. I never actually got anything from Olympic, but I remember staring at these ads and scanning all of the items being offered as prizes. I would always write down the ones I liked and wished I could have, but I was always too nervous to try actually getting them. It seems my anxiety was always lingering around the edges of my life, even back then. I fully intend to frame this and I do not care if that makes me sound insane.

His eyes...they stare back at me from the dark depths of his alien soul. He cries out for the freedom I fear to give him.
Oh boy, here we have E.T., probably the most well-known and recognizable alien to ever exist. He also looks like a goiter that gained sentience and decided to split off to make his own way in the world. I am not a huge fan of E.T. but even I remember a time when this little alien was an important fixture. Hell, my sister had the notorious Atari game and it was one of the first gaming experiences I ever had. I don't think I'll be wearing this necklace any time soon, but it's still cool in its own way. I think I may sit him next to my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Travel Toothbrush. Next!

So shiny that lens flare is nearly impossible.
Skeleton Warriors trading cards. This right here is a cartoon that didn't get nearly enough love and has sense become a cult classic among fans. But, even though it wasn't the most popular show during its original run, it got a line of trading cards. This isn't very surprising as generally everything in the 80s and 90s got trading cards. Some were great, some were much less so, and then other were just pure epic awesomeness. I would put these cards firmly in the "great" category. I mean, what's not to love? It's a series of human warriors battling skeleton warriors. How did that concept not become a bigger hit? Well, airing the show on CBS rather than Fox might have had something to do with it, sadly. Poor CBS, always getting bullied by the bigger kids. Truly though, these cards are great and tap into my love of both horror and barbarian type fantasy epics. They do throw in a sci-fi bit in there too, which is fine. He-Man, Visonaries, and Thundarr did too, so it's all good.

Is that a rocket in your pocket or just a tiny book about big cats?
Pocket Rockets. I am positive that a lot of you remember these things. They were plentifully available well into my nephews' childhoods, so to say that they were a common thing would be an understatement. For a mere $1.75 you got a tiny book full of information about a great many things. This particular one included in the box features information about large felines who may just rend the flesh from your bones. And they're so damned cute too. I don't know if they still make these but I wish they did, as they always felt like this odd little necessity alongside gum or tiny vending machine toys. Kids should always have that sort of stuff lining their pockets.

Speaking of gum.
Chiclets are one of those candies that refuse to go away. Love them or hate them, they're a staple and there was always something so satisfying about biting into them as you chewed them up. Everyone knows crunchy gum is the best. I don't really know what else to say about these. Go buy some and enjoy remembering how it felt to chew up these little candy coated nuggets of gum.

Oh yes...you all know what this is. Don't pretend you don't.
Mother fucking pogs. We all remember these little bastards. Back in the 1990s someone made the decision to try and replace trading cards with these small cardboard discs, which seemed to work for a bit. Seriously, these little buggers managed to actually catch on for a bit. There was ever some game you were supposed to be able to play with them but I don't remember ever seeing anyone play it. This particular pog (or cap) is clearly an advertisement for the film, Johnny Mnemonic. How fitting, as that movie is about as forgotten as these guys are. But, I have a soft sport for both that movie and the pogs themselves. I remember my favourite ones were these sumo wrestler guys who came in many non-human varieties. I'd kinda like to have those again. Thanks for reminding me of that, Matt.

I can feel the addiction trying to dig back into me. I'll be out making back room deals for cards all over again.
Few things can match the power of the trading card, especially when one is talking about the 80s and 90s. Truly, the trading card craze was not unlike a maniacal disease that was spread every time a child looked upon a display for them while checking out in the store. And few things in the 80s could truly match the power of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Combine the two things together and you get instant money for the card manufacturers. They may as well have been printing money with these things. Occasionally you'd see these particular types of packs pop up, which usually contained half the set of cards, taking the guess work out of collecting. It was kinda nice, as it meant you didn't end up with tons of extra cards you didn't need, but then you found yourself needing to buy the matching pack. I'm already looking on eBay for Pack A.

Just what every kid wants out of their religious toys...suspicious red paint around the mouths.
Yes, these things are right up there with green army men as the sort of toys that many kids found themselves playing with at one time or another, regardless of gender. One of my friends used to have a an army of these predatory animals that she would routinely use to maul the aforementioned green soldiers. And the name of these does indeed carry a religious connotation with it, but kids don't care about those sorts of things. All we knew is that they were cool little plastic animals. I got two that my friend also had, which I am going to just guess are meant to be crocodiles. They have this red paint around their faces that basically dares you not to assume the worst. Clearly these reptiles just had lunch. My bet is that Noah might have lost a few family members during the flood.

Speaking of tiny plastic men who often battled it out on the playground.
Whether you grew up when these Japanese imports came out as M.U.S.C.L.E. in the 1980s or learned about them via the Ultimate Muscle show on the ill-received 4kids block of Saturday morning cartoons, I'm going to bet you might recognize this concept. It's not a terribly difficult one to get your head around, honestly. Alien wrestlers duking it out in a variety of poses and outfits. These little guys stuck so hard into the consciousness of many of us that they inspired other lines of similar toys like Monster in My Pocket and the more contemporary OMFG series of figures (that you can go buy here). While they might not be articulated or very big, there was always something inherently charming about these. Perhaps it was the fact that you could carry like 20 in your pockets at any given time, making them one of the best lines of toys to take with you. I'm really in love with the custom packaging we got here as well, which is so nice that I am hesitant to open the figure up.

Something feels slightly wrong about holding a tiny baby cavegirl in my hand.
These things were odd little creations. If you don't recall these, the basic principle is that you hold it in the palm of your hand and it reacts to your palm to show how you feel (or tell your fortune). They were like a poor man's mood ring and I saw lots of kids with these, usually following a birthday party or a trip to the local carnival. According to the results of this I'm in love...hmmm...well...you win this round, Pebbles. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go pretend I am not incredibly awkward and can totally talk to girls like a proper adult. This? Oh, it's just a bag I will be inserting my head into. Moving on.

This is true art in its finest form.
Now we're in the home stretch as I show off one of the exclusive items in these boxes, a mini-poster from the man himself. It features the iconic Dinosaur Dracula, his zombie friend Larry, and Leviathan the demon bunny. They are seen proclaiming their love of misshapen turkey and yams. I don't know about you, but I am really in the Thanksgiving mood after seeing this and I don't even like yams. But that's alright, because it means more for Larry. I really don't want to get on his bad side as Larry's opinion of me is very important to me. And now, onto our final item, which is one of the main selling points with these packs.

It's a blurry photo!
But, it's actually more than just a blurry photo, because inside said blurry photos is the Dinosaur Dracula Specimen #4. What is a Dinosaur Dracula Specimen? Well, it's a tiny piece of history as it is literally a small specimen jar containing a piece of some sort of food items from the 80s or 90s that no longer can be bought at any supermarket (unless you have a Christopher Lloyd constructed time machine). This month's specimen is a piece of Urkel-O's cereal. Yes, that's right, Steve Urkel had a cereal and I now own a piece of it. Life truly feels complete now. Seriously though, this is a truly unique little thing and I love that Matt includes these every month. It really helps make an already nostalgic experience feel like a time capsule that was just pulled out of the ground. I may have missed the last three specimens (sadly) but I will hopefully not miss any future ones. So, if this jumble of words and photos has left you intrigued, feel free to go subscribe yourself. It may not be a box of new stuff with a video game related t-shirt, but I think it's ace. I salute you, Matt, and I eagerly await getting to come back here next month and talk about what you send our way next. Later days, bleeders.

Don't forget that Ghaleon is always watching...

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