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.

Return of the Jedi portfolio by Ralph McQuarrie

I finally had a moment yesterday to create a small update for Project 14.

Today’s Project 14 item is courtesy of a Return of the Jedi portfolio by Ralph McQuarrie.

I vaguely remember buying this at a bookstore named B. Dalton in a Dallas mall back when the movie Return of the Jedi first came out in 1983. B. Dalton is long gone, absorbed by Barnes and Noble quite some time ago. No caption sheet was in the portfolio and print number 18 was missing. But for two bucks, this was pure gold for a former Star Wars fan. I never tried to take the B. Dalton clearance sticker off the cover, and the prints never left the tattered portfolio except on rare occasions. A short time later, I put things like this in storage, and never pulled them out until now. What you see is exactly how it was 26 years ago.

It’s been 26 years since Return of the Jedi came out? Geeeeez.

Anyhow, if you follow the prints by number, it tells the whole story of the movie like a very high end storyboard would. The prints are good quality, and all of them are about 11 x 17 in size. I scanned them at 5088 × 3296 but scaled them down for posting to Flickr. The art itself is very, very impressive. Ralph McQuarrie gives these images a vibrancy even a live film cell lacks. Lucas was very lucky to have all of this as a reference.

Right now I’m putting this portfolio aside for Ebay. When I have enough things from Project 14, I’ll have a massive sale and see what comes of it.

Below is a slideshow of the prints. Click to play, or double click on an image to enlarge it.

Buzz Corry

I just opened trunk number one, and this is the first thing that popped out.  A Buzz Corry : Color Book.

Buzz Corry coloring book

Buzz Corry coloring book

Wow. Talk about a completely different era. According to Google Book Search, “The classic television series Space Patrol was a stellar success for ABC from 1950 to 1955.”

Needless to say, it’s not actually a possession of my own childhood. It’s a “find” me and my first college roommate (Daaave!) came across when we opened an empty luggage trunk while searching an abandoned, condemned, and possibly haunted mansion’s attic at 2 AM in early 1989.

Yeah. That one’s a long story.

Anyhow, I color corrected most of the pages in Photoshop because they are all a funky shade of very-very-old-paper yellow. I left the first page as-is so you can see the book’s “real” condition. The last page of this book fell off after I scanned it, and overall it’s in really rough shape.

Here’s some links where you can download a full copy. The SAMPLE is just a copy of the yellow front page. The FULL is the entire thing scanned and color corrected in PDF format.

MEDIAFIRE.COM
SAMPLE
FULL

BOX.NET
SAMPLE
FULL

LIVE DRIVE

SAMPLE
FULL

UPDATE : Or just read it online right here!

Project 14

I have 14 Seward trunks.

14. Full. Seward. Trunks.

Seward Trunks

Seward Trunks

That’s just not right.

These trunks are full of the things I accumulated in the first 21 years of my life. Dr. Seuss books, plastic action figures, 33 LP records, shogun warriors, steel toys, view masters, matchbox cars, transformers, cassette walkmans… and somewhere, in one of those trunks, a stuffed penguin named Opus.

Project 14 is my attempt to sift through it all. Photograph and post everything interesting. Keep the good things. Toss the junk.

And to find that stuffed penguin.