A Very Fanboy Christmas 2009
Seasons greetings all you Fanboys and girls and welcome to the 2009 edition of A Very Fanboy Christmas. 2009 was a rough year with the economy in the dumper but, fear not, for I have enlisted the aid of Econo-Claus to make sure everyone has a great, if somewhat thrifty, Christmas. Econo-Claus is from a 1970 Christmas catalog, a magical time when you could have all the trimmings of the season for a mere $22.96! What child wouldn’t be surprised on Christmas morning to find a polyester suited Santa delivering presents out of his velour sack? This cheap Kris Kringle doesn’t even need a tree when he has that wonderful cardboard fireplace to put his presents under. Just don’t try to light a fire in the hearth kids or the whole place will go up faster than a rum soaked Yule log! Before that happens though, let’s see what Econo-Claus has for us in his sack this year.
Some of the friends and staff of Nolan’s Pop Culture Review were kind enough to share their memories of Christmas past with us and it looks like they didn’t have to worry about Econo-Claus back in the day. Ladies first, so here is darling little Fangrrl Lisa Scherer way back in 1973. This shifty Santa looks like he is casing the joint while young Lisa not only gives him her list of preferred presents but diligently reviews the pros and cons of each pick! Lisa says she doesn’t remember too much about this Christmas but she did recall asking Santa for matching jackets for the rest of her motorcycle gang!
Before he grew up a Fanboy, PCR Columnist and Shlockarama scribe Chris Woods was just a run of the mill kid. Here he is opening presents on Christmas morning 1975. Keep in mind that these were the dark days before Star Wars and Chris had to rough it with less interesting toys. In addition to that swell inflatable Santa that has “BB gun target” written all over him, Chris got the Superfriends Colorforms set seen on the table. Colorforms were a parent’s dream toy, little reusable vinyl stickers with a colorful play mat to stick them on. These sets were actually a lot of fun as long as you didn’t lose the pieces. The Superfriends was one of the best sets made up to that point but it lost the title the following year when they released the King Kong one. It wasn’t an entirely action figureless Christmas for Mr. Woods, he did get a Mattel farm set with removable animals but it was still no Death Star playset!
Well here is the old Retrorama writer himself a few years earlier in Christmas 1972. The haircut must be from a bowl in the kitchen, the smile is courtesy of Kool-Aid, and I have no Earthly idea what team I was rooting for at the time. This photo was taken a few days before Christmas with me in front of the tree holding two of my beloved G.I. Joe Adventure Team figures. This was actually a defining moment for me because the figure on the left was my first ever attempt at customizing. At age six, this was my version of a Super Spy, impervious to radar detection and capable of operating in complete darkness. The other figure is a pretty typical desert explorer with his trusty hunting rifle. I made sure my Joes never went off unprepared. I didn’t know it at the time but the silver box behind me was the Joe Mobile Support Vehicle (MSV). This was sort of a scientific RV with a bubble domed removable driver’s cab, working search light, and satellite launcher.
This second photo is from Christmas morning the same year. My parents must have gotten smart and taken this picture BEFORE I woke up. You can tell because it is still pitch black outside the window behind the tree and I haven’t torn through the presents like the Tasmanian Devil yet. I guess the MSV was my G.I. Joe present that year because the rest of the take looks surprisingly Joe-less. I got a number of popular items that year including the awesome Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em Robots and everyone’s favorite board game, Battleship. I also got a Disney mold maker that made little plaster castings of Mickey, Donald and Goofy, and a Snoopy toothbrush that probably didn’t make it to 1973. The red and yellow box on the right was a game you played by rolling marbles at little targets at the bottom. If you hit a target, it released marbles and you kept playing until it was empty and the person with the most marbles won. How complicated was that?
Coming in just under the wire is this photo from Christmas 1963 submitted by our resident rant and reviewer, Mike Smith. For those too young to remember, everything was in black and white in those days when young Mikey spent Christmas morning plowing through presents with his grandfather. Well prepared little tot that he was, Mike had his trusty Radio Flyer wagon primed and ready to haul off the loot. He was already displaying musical prowess and received a toy piano that year seen in the foreground. A few years later, his parents would sell this piano at a yard sale to a young boy named Schroeder and the rest, as they say, is history.
Making his Christmas debut this year is Brandon “The Trivia Man” Tomasello. Of course back in 1972, when this photo was taken, he was still just “The Trivia Boy” but he insisted that his family correctly answer questions about Christmas before they were allowed to open their gifts. Young Brandon has that huge smile on his face because he received two of his favorite toys this year. The first was a Form Fitter box and you can see the shaped pieces that go in it in front of him. This ingenious device from the good people at Playskool was actually an aptitude test disguised as a toy. For generations, children were secretly observed playing with these and the ones who could successfully jam a square peg into a round hole were singled out for greater things. Brandon’s other favorite toy was the Little People Airport set from Fisher Price. As you can see behind him, he has already crashed the plane into the Christmas tree and it appears there were no survivors. For something called an Airport set, this only came with a plane, a luggage tram, and a few of the famous Little People. Apparently this was another one of those educational toys to prepare below average children for careers in menial labor jobs like baggage handling. One other item of note here is the cool stereo console in the background. This was back in the days when record players weren’t just for music; they were stylish furniture as well. Brandon has many fond memories of playing his Motown, Christmas, and children’s records on that big console. I knew I liked him for a reason!
Back to Christmas present, 2009 was a very good year to have a job and friends and I am very thankful for both. Fortunately, my work now takes me to Central Florida on a regular basis which gives me plenty of opportunities to hang out with other members of the Crazedfanboy family. For the past year or so, the Chili’s restaurant in Brandon has been our usual meeting place for dinner during these visits. Following some consistently enjoyable food, it has become our tradition to retire to a small bar around the corner in the same shopping center. Linksters Tap Room is a great little hole in the wall and, while the drink prices may not be the most favorable, it more than makes up for it with the friendly service and atmosphere. On my final visit of 2009, we had an above average turn out for the evening. Fanboy friend Lonnie Dohlen met me in front of the restaurant and we found Brandon Jones already waiting inside with a table for us. We had just settled in at the table when Fearless Leader Nolan Canova and his trusty chauffer Kato, oops I mean Lisa Scherer, closed our ranks. Brandon and I did manage to get a couple of minutes of comic book discussion in before things got too excited.
Following our dinner, Brandon left to pick up his kids at their martial arts class and the remaining four of us headed to Linksters for alcohol and conversation. These are always great sessions and very relaxing after a long week of work. Lisa, Lonnie, Nolan and I caught up on the latest fan topics and gossip over a couple of rounds served by Moleek and Paige, who have always taken good care of us. This was a week night so we had to reluctantly vacate our table but we did stop outside for a few photos and promised to do it all again next year.
Last, but by no means least, on the 2009 Christmas tour is my annual hook up with some of The Royal Guardsmen musicians in my home town of Ocala. This year Chris Nunley and his wife Karen, Bill Balough, my wife Cindy and I all met up at one of our favorite hang outs, and the unofficial Guardsmen headquarters, Abio’s Pizzeria. We had attempted a similar convergence there a month or so earlier only to find that they were closed for vacation. It took very little persuasion for us to move our Christmas luncheon to there instead of Chris’s house and saved me the temptation of stealing his gold record! We enjoyed a delicious lunch of very non-traditional Christmas cuisine, except maybe in Italy, and talked all manner of music and trivia. It was another Merry Snoopy’s Christmas for sure. As we took a quick photo together outside in the warm sunshine to commemorate the event, Chris remarked that this is what it’s like to be in Florida on December 19th. Amen brother!
That wraps up the 2009 Christmas edition of Retrorama. Sincere best wishes to all the readers of this column and fellow staff and friends of the insane institution Nolan refers to as his Pop Culture Review. May you and yours have a happy holiday season and a very Fanboy Christmas!