The people have spoken, and they want to download more commercials from the 1980s. I think it's because there's no chance of hearing that guy say he's spicy. There's ten new ones down below, ranging from junk food to fast food to Andre the Giant promoting food. And one about fencing. Enjoy, and check back in a few days for another batch of com reviews and downloads...
Sunkist Fun Fruits - Dinosaur Snacks:
I was always more of a Fruit Wrinkles guy, but no one can deny the power of Sunkist Fun Fruits. A veritable prerequisite for any respectable lunchbox, Fun Fruits were small, raisin-shaped globs of fruit-flavored fun. With a large variety of flavors that only grew weirder as time progressed, Fun Fruits eventually branched off into other shapes -- football players, feet and yes, even dinosaurs. Branching off made perfect sense; the snacks' marketing mascots were a group of howling trees. Not kidding. Every commercial featured a bunch of kids on the hunt for Fun Fruits, invariably leading to them into the secret forestial lair of the "OH WHOA HO HO WHOA" Sunkist Trees.
Throw aside any visions of the factory -- the commercials suggested that Fun Fruits fell from the Sunkist Trees' woody arms. Every flavor was au naturale, even the ones with names like "Prickly Pear Punch" and "Cherry Berry Quite Contrerry." The snacks lasted for many years, and longtime fans constantly keep an eye out for a reasonable facsimile. The Sunkist Trees were treated with respect from their parent company -- even when all signs pointed to overexposure and dried up usefulness, Sunkist was always sure to show a quick shot of the once-popular mascots, usually watching from afar. In this ad, a bunch of kids stumble upon a very living and very scary dinosaur. Frightened by its roar, they run off to the sanctity of the Sunkist Tree forest, being greeted with a bevy of fruit snacks and a shitload of laughter from their saviors because the way they ran away from the dinosaur was really hilarious to watch. We probably won't hear from the Sunkist Trees again. Conservationists have not kept their promise.
Kellogg's StarBots Cereal Toys:
Even including Wacky Wall Walkers, Kellogg's "StarBots" were the absolute best thing I've ever yanked from a cereal box. The premiums were shoved into boxes of everything from Corn Pops to Honey Smacks, and though none were anything a kid would want from a toy store, they seemed pretty high-end for a measly cereal toy. There were four in all; each robot figure easily transformed into a different kind of spaceship, ranging from typical Earth shuttles to odd helicopters to the most obvious U.S.S. Enterprise ripoff since the last most obvious U.S.S. Enterprise ripoff. And they all came in different colors!
The silver one was arguably the least aesthetically interesting of the bunch, but I always loved him the best. SilverBot was the only one who approached something nearly robotic; in the other StarBots' transformations, kids were left with toothpick-bodied machines with heads shaped like dinner plates. Remembering how crucial things like cereal toys were to kids, imagine the fits of disappointment when they received a crappy StarBot. The box wouldn't have been an eighth down the tubes before their parents caved into buying a second box of Corn Pops. You gotta have your Bots.
Gremlins 2 Teaser Ad:
Thanks to my friend Manimal for this one -- I know it's not 80s, but the Gremlins 2 teaser ad might as well be. We're living in an age where there are no secrets, but when I was around eleven-years-old and first heard of a sequel to one of my favorite movies ever, I was in complete shock. I couldn't believe that the Grems were coming back, and had it not been for my shockingly out of nowhere interest in Dick Tracy, Gremlins 2 would've been my top obsession of 1990. Just about the greatest movie in history, Joe Dante's obsessive compulsive disorder came into full glorious swing by the time Tony Randall was making a smart Gremlin spew Sinatra songs to hordes of less intelligent Gremlins, some female, some mutated into gigantic half-spiders, some holding maracas.
I was a Gremlins nut, I loved everything about the lore, and I lived under a reaching notion that mogwais could really exist if I just wished hard enough. Obviously, Gremlins 2 was big news. This commercial gleefully mimics the film's tongue-in-ass nature by featuring the aforementioned "Brain" Gremlin, Tony Randall sounding and all, doing the hard sell. Gizmo watches on from a nearby desk drawer, worried about the Brain's murderous agenda, but not so much as to not do a wild dancing jig as they show the movie logo. You know, Gizmo's pretty cute, but his convictions run awfully thin. May I cut you an antler?
The Nintendo Power Glove:
Ah yes, the revolutionary "Power Glove," one of Nintendo's many attempts to make young gamers look like killer androids from a bad episode of Flash Gordon. Another way to disprove protesters who claimed that video game players received little exercise, kids who used the Power Glove shoved one of their arms around and probably lost half a calorie by the time they got up to Great Tiger. The sweat was incredible. The Power Pad provided more exercise, but the experience was preclusive since so few kids were willing to use the thing unless nobody else was around. We knew what we looked like.
Championed in The Wizard, anyone who owned a Power Glove when it first arrived was pretty hot shit. It seemed like the ultimate peripheral: looked badass, looked expensive, and let you punch air hard. Things got a bit more frustrating in the hideous aftermath, with kids realizing how few games were conducive to a Power Glove environment, and still others commenting that it didn't work right even with the games specifically crafted for it. Of which there were, like, 2.
Still, it was a had-to-have item for a time, and this commercial goes a long way in establishing the Power Glove as your new ticket to fame. The guy using it in the commercial had no problems kicking the ass of every game he tried, and what's more, he was better looking and better dressed than most of us watching. If we wore the Power Glove, we would so be that guy. The Zapper's barrel felt three inches shorter by the time this thing hit the pages of Nintendo Power.
Popeye's Stupid Oatmeal Commercial:
Quaker showed their keen sense of what was in style by contracting Popeye to do their advertising. The famous sailor hadn't quite dropped off the planet by this point, but for something as unkidfriendly (new word) as oatmeal, you'd think they would've gone for someone a bit more irresistible. Maybe Papa Smurf, or that teenager who turned into a neat red car and hahaha you can't remember the name of the show. To his credit, Popeye doesn't dog it. In fact, Popeye does the unthinkable for the sake of his new oatmasters: he turns down a can of spinach. Ugh, Popeye so shouldn't be doing things like that, no matter how big the check.
Some space mutants kidnap Swee'pea, and upon Olive Oyl's insistence that ol' Poppy spinach-up and take care of business, our hero instead opts for a more starch-based superfood: Quaker Oatmeal. He even says "can the spinach," three words that shot through my heart even worse than the time Undertaker admitted to setting the family fire. Ah well, I'll guarantee you this: no matter how you're envisioning a Popeye oatmeal commercial to play out, this one will exceed all expectations. I think it's the oatmeal in Popeye's biceps. That'll be a Tori Amos lyric in about six years.
The Nerf Fencing Set:
If you've played Nerf Fencing, you have nothing but good things to say about it. Nerf had tons of shit out there to delight the hordes, from softer footballs to softer footballs with Velcro sticking pads and matching gloves, to softer footballs advertising genuine NFL teams on the skin. After you collected all the different footballs, Nerf Fencing was an unbelievably good time. Each set contained two foam lances; near the handle were a series of targets for your opposition to hit, thus removing the inherent fun that would've been had from hitting your friends with the funky foam sword. Not that we didn't do that anyway -- not sure if I ever played a real game of fencing with these things, but I sure loved nailing the 100-point ear shot.
In the ad, two brothers engage in an intense Vader/Lukish fencing battle to illustrate the finer points of the playset: you got to stab things. The foam blades kept anyone from getting seriously injured, but the occasional eye-graze or nutwhacker made some games fearfully competitive. Very few sets exist nowadays, something I attribute more to the fact that kids love chewing foam than the natural degeneration by age of said foam. Hey, I bit it. I'm not afraid to admit bit. I spent more time with Nerf's ping pong set, but my true loyalties were always with the devil foamsticks.
Andre the Giant's Honeycomb Cereal Commercial:
I've mentioned this ad before, but only now are you ready to actually see it. Honeycomb had a hot streak of great commercials during the 80s, conveying a lot more creativity and thought than the more recent slew of ads featuring a wet possum screaming the cereal's name and panting. Most were staged from the Honeycomb Hideout, a perfect treehouse where the neighborhood kids mapped out breakfast plans with their million dollar robot pal. I would've forged paternity records to claim the Honeycomb Robot as my father when I was young, but when that wasn't enough, Post hired celebrities to invade the castle and make us want the shit even more. This time, Andre the Giant gets the honors. Uh huh. Andre the Giant.
From Grenoble, France, the 7'4 behemoth lumbers towards the Hideout, feeing and fiing and foeing. The kids expect the worst, but he just wants cereal. Andre was enjoying a surprising rise of popularity stemming from his role in The Princess Bride, and had poor health not done him in too early in life, I'm pretty positive he'd be on a reality show about midget bachelors turned casino owners who live in a loft and get plastic surgery by now. He'd be the guy who leaves early to do all the promotional badmouthing on the talkshow circuit. And we wouldn't understand a word he said, because he's Andre the fucking Giant. Dwaahh awaaah fwoar woarswes Eeenigoh.
The Halls of Medicine:
Halls?! The lozenges?! Why? I'll tell you. Picture it: Saturday morning, back whenever this ad aired. You're alone, you've got your sugary cereal, you're perfectly duplicating Calvin's Saturday morning ritual. The heart of Saturday morning was, of course, the cartoons. Usually starting at 6 AM (well, the crappy old ones at least) and rounding up at noon (sometimes with a live action game show or sitcom...but one meant for kids), there was nothing more bittersweet than a great Saturday morning television lineup coming to an end. Come noon, you were sitting there with your bowl of stale milk, stuck watching the 12 o'clock news or the best plays of the week. It was awful. As a final slap in the face, even the commercials switched from their youthful target demographic to things we weren't at all interested in, and the "Halls of Medicine" ad reminds me of that torment all too well.
But, of all the commercials that made me sick, this was one of the best. Giant packages of Halls fly through a pristine hall (IRONY), where the walls are tiled in colorful lozenges and all of the plasma screens show clips of people eating Halls to get past their fits of phlegm. Having never tried a Halls before at this early age, the commercial had me thinking they must've tasted just wonderful. When I finally tried one, only Elmer's could wash the taste away. Or was I just scapegoating? I loved eating glue.
The Atari Lynx:
All I remember about the Atari Lynx was it being too expensive for me to even bother begging and wishing for. What was the point? Still, regardless of how its abilities are viewed today, there's no denying that the handheld Lynx systems, with their amazing sound, color and game library, were impressive sons a bitches. This commercial, which is more like two ads in one, proudly plays up some of the best aspects of the little black things that could. In the first skit, four linked-up players are battling each other, and when one rises above the rest, his opponents transform into disappointed skeletons. Well, I'm sure that one spread a few nightmares. In the second skit, a round of Lynxing proves so unbelievably intense that the kid playing actually gets shot through the stomach just like as his character bites the bullet in the game. We see five kids total, and it's easily argued that four of them die in the spot. It's an avenue of marketing none too traveled, and you've gotta wonder if the Lynx would've been around longer had so many players not died in the commercials. Stupid Atari. I think I'm still just a little bitter because I didn't know that the guy in Pitfall's name was Harry until like, three years ago. Changes the whole dynamic.
McDonald's "Rockin' French Fries" Ad:
Back when fries were still French, McDonald's unveiled the "Fry Guys," a group of colorful pompoms with legs, glasses and hairclips. The Fry Guys rank pretty low in the McDonaldland caste system, but it's not their fault Ronald spent so much time with Birdie and the stars of the 1984 Olympics. There were many Fry Guys over the years -- some male, some female, some totally ambiguous. They weren't exactly eloquent speakers, but when you look as fucked up as this, you're drawing attention regardless.
This ad is of particular insanity, even by McDonald's standards. Ronald leads a song and dance number on a stage to introduce the "Fry Girls," a trio of potatettes loaded with oily estrogen. You can note the ad's severe age by the fact that Ronald's still hanging around with that pirate dude, and because the Hamburglar didn't have the "less like a demon" makeover yet. Blink and you'll miss Grimace wearing the world's largest sunglasses, a sight that I never would've predicted could capture my imagination so definitively. McDonald's had dozens upon dozens of really terrific ad spots -- I wouldn't rank this even in the top 20, but hey, seeing Ronald McDonald sing about French fries while neon hearts grow three times larger in the background is still pretty cathartic.
McDonald's McRib Commercial:
The on-again, off-again wildcard of McDonald's menu, the "McRib" sandwich is the only pile of meat to ever achieve cult status. I get enough e-mail about this thing to know that it's worth throwing the download link up, but sorry, I've actually never experienced a McRib. It's a confession better saved for my autobiography, but I felt like talking too much.
The ad shows a loving father doing a drive-thru dinner pickup at McD's, fighting every temptation on the ride home to bust into the bag and have himself some shaped-like-bones-but-no-bones McRibbage. He eventually loses the war of wits, scarfing down the sandwich just as he pulls into the driveway. His family quickly offers forgiveness, because they've eaten McRibs before and they know how it is.