Tag archive: Lego
9.00 – Hup! Hup! Quiet down now.
Welcome dear friends, lads and lassies, boys and girls, mices and meeses, to the first ever fustar.info Manky Toy Show. We have a great live program (un)prepared for you tonight. Music, mirth, merriment and (most importantly) Manky Toys.
Unlike our Late Late cousin there’ll be none of the chipper, “up-with-people-ness” of the Billy Barry Brats, and no selling out (like big corpo-whores) to “the man”. Everything seen here cost 2 Euros or less and neither Mattel nor Hasbro has greased my palm with silver (even though the night is young and I remain open to offers).
Let us begin and get ourselves in the mood with some music. Two unlikely neighbours. One olde Englishe castle. An absent Sir Percival.
9.04 – Is it just me or does Bowie carry this air of coiled menace (“Sir Percival let’s me use his piano when he’s away”)?! Bing looks quite vulnerable in that cardigan. Speaking of which, that’s what I’m wearing for the occasion tonight. And I’ve got a dog, a log fire, a pipe, and another dog (actually 2 cats).
9.06 – On to the first toy. It’s a delightful slice of poor-man’s Lego, simply called “Navvy”. Jess (my lovely assistant) is opening the box now.
9.09 – She’s busily putting it together so we’ll leave her to it for a few moments. Can I draw your attention to the following disclaimer on the back of the box?
Specifications, colours and contents may vary from illustrations.
And contents?! That’s not exactly confidence-inspiring. First glance suggests it appears fairly close to the depiction on the box however. By that I mean the box doesn’t contain jelly babies…or coal.
9.15 – She’s struggling with the wheels, which nattily have the legend “Jun Long Toys” inscribed on them. One wonders what “Lego purist” Bob Byrne would make of “Navvy”. He’s about 5 times the size of a conventional Lego man and rather robust (Navvy that is…not Bob).
9.19 – Toy completed. It’s huge and, in Jess’s words, “Not manky, though slightly delicate”. The steering wheel turns, the knob to lift the shovel yoke goes up and down, Navvy’s pedestal/cabin spins around. “Jun Long Toys” have come up with a winner here. A toy so not-manky it would make a genuinely generous gift. How disappointing…
Only thing that marks it as a 2 Euro special is a non-detachable baseball cap (not pictured on the box, as warned) and that Navvy’s “freckles” look distinctly unhealthy. More like the pox of the chicken.
9.25 – Hoorah! We have at least one audience member. The lovely Simon McGarr, loyally joining in “from far away through the magic of N800 and phone internet connection”.
9.29 – Half an hour in and time for the first word from one of our sponsors. Check it out. Toys every hip, 2007 youngster will want in his/her stocking.
9.33 – From the days when toy advertising was…surprisingly pedestrian. The Neanderthal baddie just stood there waiting for the Action Copter to grab him. And what about the “Sea Wolf”?
The action team submarine that actually dives and surfaces.
By diving it seems to mean sinking slowly to the bottom in an uncontrolled manner. It nearly crushed an innocent (and alarmed) Goldfish for Christ’s sake.
“Bullet Man” is, surely, one of the worst ever additions to the Action Man universe. A “hero” with but one ability – sliding down a piece of twine until he lands head first on the ground. Go Bullet Man!!
9.39 – We’re back and moving on to toy number two. And what a “number two” it is.
This one will have the kiddies excirah and delirah I’m sure. It’s the “Spider-Man Telephone”. Actually a stiff plastic figure that looks (in Jess’s words) like a small boy wearing an ill-fitting Spider-Man outfit. The box warrants a bit of close scrutiny. In the top right corner is, for no particular reason, the “Baby face in the sun” thing from Teletubbies. Half-way down we see a picture of a prone Spidey with a light shining from a cavity in his skull. The legend proclaims:
Nighttime a bankable actor Electric torch use.
Nice and clear. Next pic shows Spidey walking and promises, “Feet can sway”. We’ve tried, and they can’t.
9.49 – I’ve cheated a bit with this one. He needed 2 (non-included) batteries so I had to do a bit of “one I made earlier” stuff. This included a natty video, which showcases the weird (and very loud) things that happen when you try and call your mother for a chat.
9.53 – Unlike “Navvy” (who does what he says on the tin) this is a deeply confusing and upsetting toy. Some odd singing, a dog barking, a lingo I can’t make head nor tail off. Plus, as Jess notes, by using Spidey to make a phone call you can’t avoid speaking into his crotch. Whether that’s a plus or a minus is, I suppose, down to your own tastes and predilections. The torch is pretty nifty though. Nighttime a bankable actor indeed.
9.58 – Simon may be on to something here:
As regards the packaging- âNighttime a bankable actor Electric torch useâ?- this is the kind of secret code that would-be spidermen with buttons inset to their torsos should be able to crack in mere minutes.
That’ll have me awake all night…
10.00 – One hour gone. Time to pour myself a soothing glass of Cote de Nuits-Villages (1999). If I were pushed to describe it I’d say it was robust, full-bodied, red, wet and…er…tasty. The blurb on the back of the bottle is somewhat more fanciful and flowery:
To taste our wines is like living through a dream, like listening to a poem, or perhaps a symphony.
Yup. Like I said. Red and wet.
10.10 – And now, methinks, another ad break. Prepare to enjoy the mendacity-tastic adventures of everyone’s favourite recently-deceased daredevil:
10.16 – It’s hard not to weep bitter tears when you see some of the impossible carry-on Evil was only ever able to achieve in ads. My Evil tended to rocket out of the blocks before veering wildly into a wall, or (simply) falling over. That said, the gruesome looking crash he suffers right at the end of the first advertisement adds an unexpectedly disturbing note to proceedings. Six months in traction at the very least I’d say.
The third segment is a bit more modest in its claims, given that one of Evil’s “super abilities” is the ability to “drive straight”. Wow!
10.23 – I think we could well be heading for overtime at this rate. Anyway, moving slowly on to our next offering. With a scarcity of Wiis doing the rounds this Christmas it might be time to consider the charms of “PolyBlock One” – “BSC Bloch System Controller With DFE Double Flash Effect” (as the box proudly, and unhelpfully, declares).
10.27 – Jess is ripping the box to shreds. It’s out, and…there are no bloody batteries included. This despite it listing 2AA Batteries among its features. Bah! Hang on…we’ll tear them out of the Spidey phone.
10.32 – Ok we’re off. There are some bleeping sounds, some blocky shapes that look like antibodies, I’m trying to figure out which buttons to press. Shit! “Game Over”!
10.34 – Right. This is beginning to look like outright fraud! The “PolyBlock One” (no relation to a product from Sony) seems to be designed to bamboozle you with beeps, randomly shifting squares, and buttons that say things like “rotate” and “sound”. I’ve been playing video games since I was a pale, short-trousered youth and I’ve no fucking idea what’s going on! Listen to the instructions…
4. Rotate – Rotate the falling element/game select.
5. Down/Game – For each kinds of game select different number forward.
8. Move the Dragon Upward.
What element? What Dragon?? All I see are squares that fail to respond to my frantic button mashing. Then, 2 seconds later, “Game Over”.
22.40 – Hold everything. Jess has just declared, “I think I’m getting the hang of this. You have to shoot things using the rotate button”. My brain hurts.
10.44 – Folks, we could be looking at the mankiest toy this blog has ever come into contact with. It’s reach so far exceeds its grasp that it’s like a burst and leaking Stretch Armstrong. Every time I look at “Feature. 1″ on the back of the box I feel the red mist rising.
1. Lots of exciting game in it.
The disclaimer should read, “If you can find it”. Jess says she “saw a Tetris-style game briefly” but that she “doesn’t know what happened to it” or how she found it. “PolyBlock One”, it seems, is all about the (deeply frustrating) quest.
10.52 – To lift our spirits we’re dipping into the Cote de Nuits-Villages again (not much left) and giving us all a brief musical interlude. I love Judy Garland as much as any straight man ever did and Meet Me in St. Louis is a fave of mine. It has “lots of exciting song in it”.
10.59 – Shortly after that song finishes Tootie (Margaret O’Brien) runs into the yard and violently destroys the snowmen in one of the best bits of wild child anger ever seen on screen. Gwan Tootie!
11.02 – Well, we’re into time added on for wrist/finger typing injuries. No matter, there’s still a drop or two of vino left. Plus, Jess has brought me up a luverly packet of Salt & Pepper Tuc to keep me going. Let’s press on…
Time to whip out a gender-inscribed one for the girls. All pink ‘n’ flowery:
11.09 – Ah “Disco Diva” – a toy straight from the Bratz school of giant-eyed fashionista sassiness. A small (but important) warning on the bottom of the box reads:
Please note: CD Discs do not function or play different tunes.
Hmmm. Putting this to the test.
11.16 – The three plastic discs included read “Pop, “Rock & “Disco” but they all sound like brutal hard-core techno. Driving rhythms and hard, savage edges that call to mind moments from Lost Highway. Concerned parents should note that the “Mini CD Player” is pink and friendly with a handbag style strap – so there’s a “little princess” air of softness to offset the manic doom noise of the CDs.
It should also be noted that the “buttons” (stop, play, repeat etc) are merely stickers that (like the “CDs”) don’t actually do anything. There is but one purple switch that makes things happen and allows nervous girls to cycle through the 3 disturbing tunes.
11.26 – Christ, look at the time. I need to empty my bladder. Cut to commercial.
11.32 – Last glass of booze. A wave of tiredness and (hic) tipsiness is beginning to wash over me. Can’t neglect to mention the above though…
Simon Says come chase after me,
Repeat my lights seq-uent-iii-ally!
Time to take our hats off to what must surely be the only ever use of the word “sequentially” in a toy jingle. Actually, “Repeat my lights sequentially” sounds suspiciously like the kind of mangled English instructions one routinely finds on Manky Toy packets. It may even be on the “PolyBlock One” Box.
I was always rubbish at Simon Says. Once it really got cooking I’d start sweating and panicking and fall at the first hurdle. It was like something they’d sit around playing in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Games of the future are always bleepy, upsetting and confusing.
11.43 – And so we move on to the final toy of the evening. A truly disgusting blob of goo submitted by my darling wife. Behold “Puppy Squeezer”:
11.47 – Keen eyes may notice that, in Alan Partridge’s immortal words, there is “superficial damage to the box”. That is to say, it’s completely covered in Sellotape. As a result Jess, being mindful of her rights as a consumer, had the brazen cheek to ask for a discount. The o’erworked till operator looked at her with a mixture of weariness and disgust. No discount was forthcoming.
It’s difficult to describe how horrible “Puppy Squeezer” is to the touch. It pulses, it oozes, it reminds one not only of canine putrescence but one’s own inevitable descent into rot and deliquescence. It’s like Stretch Armstrong‘s zombie dog companion.
12.00 – 3 hours in! Jays fluid! “Copernicus” has just posted a grim warning of the dangers posed by the hideous likes of “Puppy Squeezer”:
I was in the two euro shop recently browsing the PS Onealike when I suddenly started back from the display at a sudden clammy, moist yet unwet sensation rapidly overwhelming my epiduris.
One of those packets of goo had come apart – or been deliberately booby-trapped by a passing child – and the hideous, ectoplasmic ooze was slathering over my flesh.
He thunked he was having “a visitation from Madame Blavatsky”, she who always gifted jars of putrid ectoplasm to Yeats, Crowley et al for Christmas. Perhaps there is some occult conspiracy behind the gurning puppy. I’ve seen Halloween 3. I know what can happen!
12.06 – Fergal notes, “I always wondered what class of goo was used inside these things”. I draw his attention to the rear of the box.
Caution! Contents may stain some fabrics.
Or…”Contents may dissolve flesh/Melt your soul”.
12.10 – One final word from our insistent sponsors before we wrap up, put on our night caps, and sail for the shores of nod.
12.12 – 2 questions.
1) When did Ms. Pac Man become Bette Midler?
2) Does she actually sing (at the end) “Hey, don’t ya know? I’m only Pac Man with a bow!!”
If (2) is true then it’s an admirable bit of honesty from Atari. She had a beauty spot too though…so it was a markedly district sequel.
12.21 – I’ve squeezed my last puppy and blocked my final poly. There’s an empty bottle beside me and “Navvy” looks like he’s fit for the bed (after another back-breaking shift). Chatter and raimĂ©is can continue in the comment room, but for now it’s good night from me and it’s good night from them.
And remember…nighttime is a bankable actor.
The Manky Toy Show – A Postscript – 28/12/2007
Last night, as Jess and I were working our way through Harold Lloyd and Sopranos box-sets, our whole road was suddenly plunged into darkness. After lighting a few candles I remembered that I had a wind-up torch (somewhere) among my possessions. Finding it would, however, require another torch to light my way (I have a similar problem when I misplace my glasses). As we sat in the gloom wondering what to do Jess exclaimed “The Spider-Man Phone!”
Off I trudged upstairs, thinking that even the mankiest toy has its day to (literally) shine. Down I bring Spidey, take 2 AAs out of the DVD remote, crank him up and…his arm snapped straight off…his head gave out no light.
Nighttime, I’m afraid to say, was no bankable actor.