For those of you landing here from a search engine, you may wanna start on the first page of commercials. For the rest of you, here's some more advertising gems from the 1984 Macy's Parade...
Well, this one's simple enough. Just a bunch of plush Chipmunks dolls. Believe it or not, I've somehow managed to hold onto this trio for all of these years -- they're shoved in the back of one of our closets in a box full of other crap I don't need to be keeping, but it's nice to know that in the case of a massive surge of Chipmunks popularity, I'm well prepared to bust 'em out and show the world that I ain't no Chipmunk poser. The last thing I'd want to be accused of if hopping on the Chipmunks bandwagon just because it's the In Thing. Seriously, that's the last thing I'd want. Death and torture before that. The dolls are cutesy wootsey toowoohootsie, and as the commercial suggests, you could even buy assorted alternate outfits for your little rodent pals. I never took it that far, though it does beg the question: had I gotten someone to buy me an "Alvin Baseball Uniform" as a child, would the doll still be cursed to life in my closet? Would the baseball outfit have inspired me to buy a new backlit shelving unit from Ikea? Would the kids in this commercial stop acting like they're dating the Chipmunks plushies? Time and alternate universes will tell. Until then, here's the Chipmunks.
The Cabbage Patch Kids made an (extremely odd) appearance in the parade, so it stood to reason that they'd show up in the commercials. In fact, they turned up during the ad breaks a bunch of times, for varied products. I've got two CPK downloads up on this page, though the one I skipped is probably the most interesting -- Cabbage Patch Kids "Koosas," which were essentially the same dolls mutated to look more like animals. Strange shit. I never played Little League, but Cabbage Patch Kids were still going a bit too far into girlyville for me -- any experiences I've had with the dolls is purely coincidental or for the ends of something unabashedly evil, I solemnly swear. The commercial shown above solves one of the most grating problems surrounding the dolls: the fact that they wouldn't stand up. With heavy heads and inconsequential legs, Cabbage Patch Kids were criminally forced to remain in baby gaga seated positions, even if they were supposed to represent the "older" dolls. Not anymore. In the ad, Coleco introduces new Cabbage Patch Kids "Posable Action Wear" -- clothes with built-in bendy material that let you both pose the dolls and keep them sturdy enough to stand tall without your help. The outfits ranged from sports-themed to partycakestrawberrycream-themed, and if we're being honest, I'm not sure if they lent the kind of support that'd enable you to make the dolls stand on one foot as shown in the commercial. But hey, even if not, it's fun to imagine all of the little girls who cried when their football-playing "Joe" doll couldn't hop on one foot. It's even more fun to imagine if you picture the little girls with two heads and a troubling case of youth acne. Wanna triple your fun? Make them blow up in your vision's climax.
Okay, this one's a classic. If you were watching television at all during the mid 80s, you probably remember it. I'm pretty sure they used it even during the mid-to-late 90s, so by all rights, there shouldn't be a couch potato over the age of twelve who doesn't remember McDonald's infamous "ice skating" commercial. Oddly enough, it has absolutely nothing to do with the fast food. It seems to have been created solely for the purpose of establishing Ronald McDonald as a great guy, and through that we can understand the envy of any other restaurant that's seen McD's advertising budget. These boys had enough cash to air a minute-long commercial that didn't even promote their product directly, and I stress the need for italics, because that's just how amazing it really is.
Anyway, watch with confusion as a bunch of would-be child skaters trample over a horde of cartoon bunny rabbits on their way to the frozen pond, only to find Olympic gold medalist Ronald McDonald practically moonwalking over the ice. Under normal circumstances, running into an ice skating clown who isn't even wearing a coat would be reason to head back home as quickly as possible, but since it's Ronald, they all form some kind of subversive Congo line, chain-skating around without a care in the world. Then, somehow, it gets even better.
There's a little blonde boy who doesn't know how to skate, so as Ronald leads the rest of the group over the ice, he's just standing around feeling sorry for himself while the cartoon bunnies and deer reassure his manliness. Note how the music changes to reflect his depression. Well, Ronald won't stand for it -- he casually strolls over to the kid, picks him up, and does a spinning hug the likes of which wouldn't be seen again until Miss Elizabeth saved Macho Man from Sensational Sherri's attack at Wrestlemania VII. This was an unbelievable commercial; it feels like something we should've bought tickets to see.
Sure, McD's bottom line is always going to be profit, but if you've ever wondered why people like me can forgive so many of their faults and shitty food, just check out this commercial. McDonald's was awesome at spreading the holiday spirit, and even if the clown is a wee bit scary, watching this ad makes me want to put up the Christmas Tree even earlier than usual this year.
It occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, some of you might be more interested in seeing a few adult-oriented ads as opposed to all of this kid junk. So, here's a commercial for Timex watches. Happy now? The ad is kind of insane, displaying giant Timex watches that take the place of lawn chairs and elevator doors. I think it's called a "hard sell." Still feels more like an excuse to show bikini-clad ladies in lieu of promoting what you'd actually be purchasing, but come on, that formula is tried and true. It's timeless. It's Timex.
Here's another Toys 'R' Us ad -- it starts off the same as the previous commercial, but this time, Geoffrey trails off into a soliloquy about different toys. Instead of robot watches and turtle chairs, we're now given a closer look at a pair of "Playtime Radios," in "Care Bears" and "Cabbage Patch Kids" varieties. Twelve bucks a pop, and they were pretty solid stocking stuffers. More interesting is the "Stompers" car set, featuring a little truck that makes its way down a rocky plastic path while a bunch of children cheer on. That one was around twenty dollars, but well worth the cash. One of the my childhood friend was lucky enough to land one of these, and long after he lost the trucks, we continued using the plastic path for our assorted action figure adventures. We called it the "canyon," which isn't interesting only because it was in no way a canyon, but also because we were incredibly proud over just using the word "canyon." Remember, asbestos awareness didn't hit till the 90s. We had an excuse.
More Chipmunks fun: the "Curtain Call Theater" playset seemed like the perfect avenue to recreate the boys' musical acts, but strangely enough, you're supposed to have them put on plays. The figures weren't included, but I've still got those as well -- they're your standard PVC-style dudes; non-posable and nonrefundable. Made by Ideal, the playset consists of a souped up plastic base with everything from moving curtains to trap doors, not to mention 2,000 small pieces that I can't identify but are undoubtedly important nonetheless. I don't have much else to add, save for the fact that Simon is and has forever been my favorite of the Chipmunks. It wasn't a tough decision -- everyone hates Theodore, so you're really only picking from two of them. I like blue better than red, and tall nerdy Chipmunks are better than cool Chipmunks in hats. Actually, forget it, I hate them all.
More McDonald's fun! "Scrooge's Party," with a guest list consisting of everyone on the planet including Santa Claus, features Scrooge shattering every stereotype about himself in a fit of holiday cheer, and why? Because he LOVES Chicken McNuggets! While making the rounds, Scrooge alternates between offering McNuggets to his guests and sneaking bunches of them for himself, and just before your head explodes from all of the insanity, what does he do? Walks over to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and insists that he open up another 20-pack. Unreal. Also starring the ghosts of Christmas and Tiny Tim, and yes, I'm absolutely serious.
Rainbow Brite's parade appearance lasted only a minute, but boy, that was one Hell of a minute, waddn't it? We've seen the chick appear in her "real life" form before, and good God, they crafted the scariest damn costume possible. More charming and less frightening was her cartoon show; an extremely colorful cornucopia of fuzzy wildebeests and rainbows and things-wearing-capes. Yeah. The toys were admittedly wonderful, and I'm not really sure why Rainbow Brite hasn't got the nod for a resurgence alongside other girly 80s stuff like Strawberry Shortcake and the Care Bears. Most of the newer Rainbow Brite crap is only available through mail-order catalogs and in stores filled with accessories for fake teenage ravers -- that's great for them, but I'd prefer to see some genuine kids get the chance to experience her Crayola glory. This commercial features some of the original line's top dogs, including Rainbow Brite herself, plus her silly pony and that brown puff of evil with the big honker. Notice how they were sure to include shots of a boy playing with the dolls? Wishful thinking. We weren't going to risk being eternally outcast from the neighborhood kickball games just to comb Rainbow Brite's yarn hair.
More from the Cabbage Patch Kids, if you're into that sort of thing. The "Brag Bag," a vinyl briefcase containing a score of posable CPK figures. Figures not included. Doh. Going to the toy store way more than a person my age should gives me a pretty good look at the changing trends, and one thing I've definitely noticed is the severe lack of action figure carrying cases nowadays. They're not completely gone, but years ago, virtually every line available had some kind of button-closing case to keep your toys safe when you were finished molesting them. My assumption is that the competition's just become too fierce, and only the most severely popular collections would even attempt to claim a piece of the market with a silly briefcase that you can't exactly "play with." The commercial is interesting for reasons that go far beyond brags and bags and Brag Bags -- try to keep count of the number of times a little girl makes out with a Cabbage Patch Kid figurine. It's not high enough to forge a drinking game around, but to wit, it's a Hell a lot more fun to watch if you're hammered.
There were two different G.I. Joe train sets advertised during the parade -- the first was something I'll probably do a whole article about soon enough, but this one seems a lot less familiar. The "High Adventure Trucking Set" is closer to a race car toy track than a wacky train, and to be honest, it looks plenty more interesting. The Joes and Cobra battle it out in their chosen methods of transport, avoiding all sorts of obstacles and each other on a race to the finish line. Well, the joke's on them. There ain't no finish line. They just keep running in circles and circles and circles and circles until you either blow a fuse or pretend you're Godzilla vacationing away from Japan. I don't remember seeing this one during my youth, but it looks like a winner -- aside from the racing trucks (some of which carrying jumbo missiles), you were also afforded a boatload of plastic army men and plastic army helicopters that were too small for the soldiers to ride in. I'm not sure if that's ironic or just a pisser; watch the commercial and judge for yourself.
Ah, "Robo Force," one of the greatest b-list 80s toylines. I'll never understand why these things didn't catch on. Never. Never ever. Actually, lead hero robot "Maxx Steele," pictured, showed up in several other forms over the course of the decade: he was immortalized as an Erector set, not to mention being thrust into the temporary limelight with his very own and exceedingly rare electronic robot pal, which is undoubtedly the coolest thing to hit toy stores since those little handheld devices that spin the lollipops for you. As for the Robo Force collection itself, what you had basically was a bunch of blocky plastic robot guys with suction cup asses and bendy straw arms. Doesn't sound like much, but they were beauties. This particular commercial advertises one of the line's few vehicle toys, the "Command Patroller." I picked up this beast at a now defunct Lionel Kiddie City store on clearance, years after Robo Force was shiny and new, and even then it felt like a dream.
So, if you ever wanted to know what a dream literally feels like, hunt down a Robo Force "Command Patroller."
Well, I think that's about all the video downloads I can put up without causing my server attaining A.I. just so it could figure out how to grow an arm to choke me with, so I hope you've enjoyed the trip. Here's a quick screencap gallery of some of the other ads from the '84 Macy's Parade...
And here's a picture of a pilgrim hat and a special message. You know you love it.
That wraps up the 1984 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and if you're disappointed about our journey coming to an end, don't worry. If you thought this was a trip, wait until you see what went on during the 1986 parade. Four words, folks: Phyllis Diller on crack. Coming soon...