Knuckle Busters 45 vinyl record

Music Box - courtesy of automates-boites-musique

Image from automates-boites-musique.com

Waaaay back in the old old days, most of the toys kids had to play with were silent. Aside from a grinding gear or some kind of internal mechanism winding down, there were no sound effects that came from a toy in and of itself. Sure there were record players, pop guns, and assorted variations of devices that you could wind up and play one song over and over with. But aside from that, you had to make your own noises and your own special effects. But that was really part of the fun of playing with toys back then.

Rock Em Sock Em - Modern Version

Rock 'Em Sock 'Em - Modern Version

That all changed when I got a set of Knuckle Busters boxing figures. They were somewhat like the semi-modern “rock ’em sock ’em” boxing robots. But these toys were sculpted as a human, and looked like what a professional a boxer would look like. Boxing gloves on their hands and a long set of boxing shorts were permanently molded on. There was no boxing ring to put these toys in. You had the whole room you were playing in to move them around. (There was an option in later versions to tie a string to the base of each boxers so they would not move more than a foot away from each other, but mine didn’t have that option.) The controls were similar to the rock-em-sock-em series. One lever was for the left hand, one lever for the right hand. The controls were permanently molded on the back of the boxers, too. To punch, you moved one of the levers forward. The mechanical arm would then move out in a straight line. You had your choice of throwing a left body shot or a right body shot. The target? A giant red nose on each of the boxer’s faces. One hit on the nose and the figure would slump over at a very unnatural angle.

With no uppercuts available, and since each boxer was the same height and size, you had to be creative in how you leaned your boxer forward and over to hit your opponent’s nose. And since there was no ring to be had, sometimes these fights would get real interesting.

What was really amazing about this toy was that it came with sound effects. Real world sound effects.

On a record.

Inside the Knuckle Busters package was a 45 vinyl record. If you put the vinyl record on your record player, any little scrap would suddenly become a full on HBO Pay Per View sold out title bout. Because the record was nothing but crowd noise, audible impacts from what sounded like real punching, and loud crowd reactions to certain loud punches.

Combine the bloodlust roar of a crowd, real boxing bell chimes to sound the end of a round, and a solid 6 inch tall plastic toy? Things got violent.

You can see the front of the LP in the image below. The record survived just fine in the trunks, and fortunately, never developed a skip or scratch on it. If you enlarge the photo, you can see an artist’s representation of what the Knuckle Dusters boxers looked like. That really isn’t too far off from the reality of what they looked like either.

Knuckle Dusters vinyl record side A

Knuckle Dusters vinyl record side A

The second side was strange for the time. It was cut so it would not be playable on any record player. It really was a one-sided record only.

Knuckle Dusters vinyl record side B

Knuckle Dusters vinyl record side B

Listening to the audio, you can hear why. Everything after the first round is just a loop! It’s the same punches. Same crowd reaction. Same bells.

Click below to listen to the Knuckle Busters side A record…

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Unfortunately, the Knuckle Busters met their demise thanks to some Knuckle Headed friend I had at the time who picked up his losing boxer figure and smashed it into my boxer figure, completely shattering them both. That was the end of that.

I couldn’t find any photos of the toy itself on ebay or Google as of this posting. The one video I did find was available on iTunes as part of a Hasboro toys and games archive project. You can click here to launch iTunes and see the commercial. My figures were the first generation, though, and did not have the “gritty” facial hair on the boxers and strings to tie the boxers together like they show in the commercial. Another post on a website called Robot Empire has images of what my first generation set looked like.

Ridiculous as it seems now, this was the beginning of a major change in toy design. Professional sounds and embedded lights were still a few years away, but standalone toys were quickly adapting to a new market’s demands for interactivity and playtime-immersion.

Since this is the only surviving memento of the toy, I think I’m going to put it in the ebay pile to sell later on.

My first vinyl record – “Camaro” and “SS 396”

Vinyl: def:

1. synthetic plastic material made from polymerized resin, group of organic compounds: the univalent chemical radical CH2CH, derived from ethylene.

2. The stuff my childhood was made of.

When I was a kid, a stack of 33’s and 45’s would keep me happy, quiet and very entertained all day. I remember I had a pretty decent record collection, but in all the years that passed I had lost track of them and eventually assumed they were lost along the way. Just recently I opened a Seward Trunk as part of Project 14 and found a small treasure trove of vinyl records inside.

So now, with a new toy I just got from Ion Audio, I’m converting everything I found and will be posting them here. I’m not very familiar with vinyl audio correction and/or pop and hiss removal, so what you hear is what the vinyl record actually sounds like.

This first record is a 45 from my early early early childhood. And actually, it wasn’t even originally mine. It was part of my mother’s record collection that she had left at my grandparent’s home for safekeeping. Of course, I found the record collection stash in their home. And of course, I did what any 3 year old kid would do when he finds something he wants… I asked my grandparents if I could have it!

For some reason, I think that’s going to come back and bite me in a few years.

Anyhow, this record is part of “Columbia Special Productions” and was “Created Exclusively for Chevrolet Dealers”. The song on the first side is “Camaro” and is performed by The Cyrkle (there’s a second information link about The Cyrkle here). You can see in the photo below the details on the record.

Camaro Side A

Camaro Side A

The song on the second side is “SS 396” and is performed by Paul Revere and the Raiders. I was always partial to that song on the record.

The 45 survived just fine in the Seward Trunk, despite no paper cover or heavy cardboard enclosure.

Camaro Side B

Camaro Side B

Click below to listen to the first song, “Camaro” by The Cyrkle.

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The next audio link is the second song, “SS 396” by Paul Revere and the Raiders. There’s a small hiccup in one of the refrains… that’s because when I was 5 years old I dinged the record enough to make a skip on it. Through sheer vinyl wizardry that’s been long lost to the ages, someone in my family knew of a way to scratch a record needle through a skip so that from then on the record would play onward.

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I couldn’t find any lyrics to “Camaro” and I’m not about to guess what they’re really saying. But I did find the lyrics to the “SS 396” track

Forget about your Hemi’s and your GTO’s

I’ve got a new machine, and she really gos.

When I pass you up on the drag strip you’ll know darn well

You’ve been beat by a porcupine V8 Chevelle

Taching it up now, you better be quick

Cus’ nothing can outrun my SS 396.

There’s lots of chrome goodies sitting under the hood

She looks real pretty, like a tough one should.

On the redline tires, she sits real mean

She’s the coolest hot one… you’ve ever seen

Crusing the highways, getting my kicks

Everyone’s checking out my SS 396

Look at her go (look at her go)

She sits real low (she sits real low)

Dealer tires grip the road

Her deep breathing fours (deep breathing fours)

And they’ll never settle short (never settle short)

Feel the rear end grab the load

Take you for a ride man, it’s really a treat

Strap yourself into a bucket seat.

The four speed tranny is starting to whine

You’ll know about the Super Sport

Once we get off the line

Crusing the highway, getting my kicks

Nothing can match my…SS 396

Look at her go (look at her go)

She sits real low (she sits real low)

Dealer tires grip the road

Her deep breathing fours (deep breathing fours)

And they’ll never settle short (never settle short)

Feel the rear end grab the load

Take you for a ride man, it’s really a treat

Strap yourself into a bucket seat.

The four speed tranny is starting to whine

You’ll know about the Super Sport

Once we get off the line

Nothing can match my…SS396

SS 396

SS 396

SS 396

SS 396

No ebay for this record! I just have to find a really good hiding place for it now.