Friday, December 23, 2022

Christmas 1967

 This week instead of an item from my collection, we're going to dive into pictures that I cherish from 1967. I think this was a high water mark for Christmases for me- but maybe it really isn't. Maybe because I have these photos I remember it as being more special. Regardless, here we go...

We start our tour in Denison, Texas. Actually in our living room in Denison, to be exact. The date was a few days before Christmas and the large white fuzzy object under our fully decorated 100% real tree is our cat, Snowball. He was a stray that decided that we would do as a family and, therefore adopted us. We had absolutely no say in the matter. This was taken with my dad's brand new Polaroid. I think he said he accidently got B&W film. Some shots look very artistic due to his mistake...

Such as this one! The smudges are on the print, not on the wall, by the way. My mom and I are looking at pictures which were probably taken by the same Polaroid. The large card shop bought Santa shade surrounds the lamp. They should still make those...

Here is a nice shot of me and my dad taken by my mom, I assume. I'm five years old in these, by the way. There seems to have been some gift wrapping going on. That is bowl of fake fruit on the table, although at first glance it looked alarmingly like a skull! A box of ribbon sits just beyond it. My dad was the minister of music and youth at First Baptist Church, Denison, so I was used to seeing him in suits and sport coats. 

Suddenly, we make a left turn! This is a picture of my cousin, Greg, and my uncle Bill playing football in front of our house in Denison. I have no idea why they were there, since they lived an hour and a half away. That's my mom's light yellow Ford in the driveway. The house is still there and looks pretty much exactly as it did then. The Christmas tree in the first picture was behind that window next to the porch.

My dad and I obviously were goofing off too much and were told to be serious. That's the only explanation I can think of for our expressions. Santa/Lamp is back! 

I'm pretty sure of a few things here- first, we were watching TV (this is in the den instead of the living room). This was a totally different day. The builders of our house loved paneling. Oh, and Dad got the right film this time...

I've always liked this picture. Another shot from the den, with our groovy vinyl floor! We didn't have a fireplace, so we just bought one! The "flames" had a lightbuld with a fan that rotated above it to simulate real fire. 
As an adult, I wanted to get another fireplace like this (even though I have a real fireplace now). As it turns out, this model, with the "Merry Christmas" and fireplace tools is pretty rare. Did I ever find it??? You'll have to wait to find out!

Here I am with my mom in the den. That book is "The Littlest Angel" and I still have it packed up in a box. I do NOT have that couch, although I once handcuffed myself to it. With real handcuffs. A locksmith had to rescue me. Long story.

Ah, now we're back in the living room! I think we're looking at a Christmas card...or a CD sleave. Probably a card....

Suddenly, it's December 24th and we're in Dallas at my grandparents' house! Weird, huh? That's my cousin, Tamra to the left  then me, then my cousin Greg again, then my mom, and then Uncle Bill again! We're all captivated by my new Incredible Edible set!

You've seen this shot before. Now you know, though, who is cut out of the picture. Apparently my mom didn't like how she looked, lol! That's a great looking space capsule, though!

The living room was where the real gift opening "action" happened, though! From left to right we have my grandfather, whom I'm named after. He was John Roy Stewart and I'm John Stuart Powley. Next we have my great aunt Nita and great aunt Sue. I think we have a little sliver of aunt Marilyn at the far right. I still have that china cabinet, by the way.

Ah, you've seen this one too! Here I am in gift-getting bliss! Tamra is in the background. I think she got a record player (with stand) and a Bambi record. 

My cousin, Greg, and my grandmother. She apparently got a set of pots and pans! At the time, I probably thought that was pretty boring. I gave my wife a set a couple of years ago and thought they were pretty cool! 

And finally we have Uncle Bill, Aunt Marilyn, my grandmother and my grandfather in opened gift devistation. Oh, and a pretty nice looking tree. Strangely, I know that the large opened box standing next to Uncle Bill (with a Transogram logo on it) was Tamra's gift, but I have no memory of what it actually was. There's that space capsule in the middle of the room! We really were fortunate, and I think we knew it. 

Family Christmases are different now, but I still love them.

Oh, and about that cardboard fireplace I was trying to find? What is that next to my grandmother's china cabinet???


And remember, family IS the treasure!

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Haunted Plastic

 Well, the item I was waiting for came in, so here is the post that was going to be for last week! 

I don't often actually buy something new for this blog, since I have way too much stuff as it is, but sometimes in the name of "completeness" it needs to be done, so here we go...

A couple of weeks ago I talked about the re-released Pirates of the Caribbean plastic model kits, and I mentioned that MPC (the company that originally made them) had released Haunted Mansion kits as well, and that those had been re-released too! I never owned a Haunted Mansion kit as a kid, but I like the looks of them, so I went online to add one to my collection. 

I had assumed that they were released by Lindberg, the same company that bought the molds for the Pirates kits, but I was mistaken. These kits were released by Polar Lights. Also, I was surprised to find that there are only four Haunted Mansion kits- and that's all there ever were. I'm not sure if they were not as popular as the Pirates kits or what- but that might explain why the originals are more rare. 

Unlike the Pirates kits, there are a couple of scenes that were actually in the Haunted Mansion- or at least kind of close to them.  Ok, only one really, and that's the one that I got. The original was called "Play It Again, Sam," and featured the organist and (sort of) the organ from the ballroom scene. Speaking of those original kits, here they are:

As you can see, Sam is the only one that borrows heavily from the Mansion. One writer tried to make the case that "Escape From the Crypt" was a nod to the conservatory coffin, but I don't buy it. The other two aren't really close to anything in the Disney Mansions. 

By the way, Polar Lights renamed the series "Haunted Manor" and they renamed the kits:

"Play It Again, Sam"= "Play It Again, Tom"

"Escape From the Crypt"= "Escape From the Dungeon"

"Grave Robber's Reward"= "The Grave Robber's Demise"

"The Vampire's Midnight Madness"= "Flight of the Vampire"

All in all, I think Lindberg did better in renaming their kits. I mean, you change "Sam" to "Tom" and then call it a day? Who the heck is "Tom?" Is there a joke here that I'm missing? 

Anyway, on to the kit. The first thing I noticed when I got it was that this box is about 1/3 bigger than the Lindberg kits. Here's a comparison shot...

I think the original box must have been big too, since these are the original molds and there are a lot of pieces in there. Let's open it, shall we?

The cover art is nice. It looks like the ghosts on the pipes are unpainted so they can glow, as are the skulls on the organ.

The side of the box has art a lot like the top...

The bottom of the box explains the "Zap Action" (renamed "Rubber Band Action" by that crack team of clever writers)

The inside sides of the box have this scene. These guys are great on graphics, if not with words. 

Taking the top off shows you this- a heavy cardboard form protecting the parts.

Remove it and you see these. That's the base to the left, which gives you an idea of the size. 

Here are more parts. You can see the organist, the mummy, and organ pipes. 

What do you do with all this stuff? Glad you asked!

Step 22 is the most interesting to me, since it tells you how to make everything work. 

The good news is that it's a really cool model! The bad news is that I already have a huge build pile. Will I ever get to all of them??? the after life...


Oh, keep looking for treasure! ;-)

Sunday, December 11, 2022

A Side Trip...To SPACE!

 Well, this week's blog was going to naturally flow from last week's blog like milk from a honey comb...or...something... However, the item that was going to be the focus of above mentioned blog has not yet arrived, and although I have done a lot of the ground work already, it seems a bit of a cheat to proceed without it. 

Therefore, I had to come up with a Plan B- and it had to be quick! Of course, I had pretty much nada. Then I remembered Chuck's comment from last week about a certain U.F.O. Mystery Ship model, and my response to it and I realized- I have a (sort of) post!!!

You see, I turned that glow in the dark, plastic model into an actual flying model rocket for a contest! And I still have it! In (sort of) one piece! Yay!

Ok, a bit of groundwork. You see, there is an official contest in model rocketry called "Plastic Model Conversion" (or PMC for short). It's also called "Plastic Death," "Plastic Insanity," "Oh My God What IS That Thing Coming At My Head???" among other things less fit to print. 

The rules are simple. Convert a plastic model of an aircraft or spacecraft to actually fly and be recovered safely. ("Safely" is a relative term. It usually means ambulances were not involved.) The entries are judged on craftsmanship, difficulty of conversion, and flight characteristics (again, no ambulances).

The main trick in getting a PMC to fly is to simply balance it correctly. You see, the Center of Gravity must be (and stay) in front of the Center of Pressure. You get that licked and you got a good 'un! That means there is usually a heck of a lot of weight in the nose of these birds. That, coupled with the fact that they are pretty much plastic bricks to begin with makes recovering them in one piece...problematic.  There's usually not a lot of room for parachutes, you see...

Anyway, here is mine...

Well, most of mine. The nose has a shroud that goes over it that survived the flight, but not the 10-12 years in storage. I have it somewhere... I think... Other than details, I left the plastic "glow in the dark." This did NOT impress the judges. I didn't win, but I think I placed.
I also wanted to rig the parachute to come out the hanger doors, but didn't have time to engineer a solution for that. I just had it pop out of the top instead.

This was the big selling point of the design. Three engines arranged inline in a cluster. These are still there from the day of the flight!

On the underside, you can see the bit of "straw" used to guide the model up the launch rod. You can also see my (required on contest birds) National Association of Rocketry member number, which explains my blogger handle.

The parachute comes out thusly. Or, maybe I should say "The horribly undersized parachute." It didn't do much to slow down the "return to earth" phase, and, in fact, shredded. Because the thing is build like a tank, and landed in mud, it survived.

I took the engines out! They are C6-3s, which means the total power on the model was in the "small E range." (C+C=D, D+C= small E) It needed more, but looked good anyway.

There they all are! I put them back in after the picture because...well, why not?

So there you have it! A post written about some junk I had in the garage inspired by a comment. In other words, a pretty typical Stu's Attic post!

Hopefully next week we'll have the post that was supposed to be for this week! I'll keep going to the mail and searching for treasure!

Sunday, December 4, 2022

There Be Pirates Still...

 In 1972 the model company MPC released a rather strange line of plastic kits based on a Disney attraction. Actually, they released two lines, but we're just going to focus on one today. The two lines were kits for Pirates of the Caribbean and The Haunted Mansion. Now these weren't your typical model kits in two ways: first, they didn't actually model anything in the attractions (they were, rather, based on the general idea of the attractions), and second, they featured "Zap-Action." This was a fancy way to say they moved with the aid of a rubber band.  Pretty cool, really. 

I actually had a Pirates of the Caribbean model back then, although I can't remember exactly which one. They were all kind of the same, in a way. Oh, would you like to see them? Here ya go!

There were seven kits in total. I'm not sure how many Haunted Mansion kits there were, but as I said, we're going to be focusing just on the Pirates today. Pay attention! 

Anyway, that kit got trashed and tossed many years ago (sadly, as original kits can be expensive). Then a year or so ago I was strolling through the local Walmart and I spotted this...

Alarm bells went off! 

Then they caught the guy and I looked at the model (ok, I made that up). Anyway, clearly Lindberg had bought MPCs old molds and re-released the Pirates of the Caribbean models! Of course now they are no longer licensed by Disney, so some renaming was required for the series. Now they are "Jolly Roger Series." But the model is the same! Let's look inside the box!

Ok, that's a lot of glow in the dark plastic.. And a lot of little parts...that have to be painted and glued together... Huh.

Well, let's look at the instructions-

Well, with enough free time and quite a bit of patience, I think this could be a fun build. So, I'm thinking this might go on the "after retirement" list. That list is getting pretty long, by the way!

Oh, and they not only renamed the series, they renamed the individual models. I'm not sure why they bothered to do that, since the names don't have anything to do with Disney. But, for any who are wondering the old names and new names are:

"Hoist High the Jolly Roger" became

"Freebooter's Last Leg"---

"Ghost of the Treasure Guard" became

"Duel With Death"---

"Freed in the Nick of Time" became

"Escape the Tentacles of Fate" (my kit)---

"Dead Men Tell No Tales" became

"Shining Spoils of the Scallywag" ---

"Dead Man's Raft" became

"Hex Marks the Spot" ---

"Condemned to Chains Forever" became

"Dismay Be the End" (my favorite pun) ---

"Fate of the Mutineers" became

"In the Pinch of Peril"

So, if you remember those old MPC kits and would like to build them again, you're in luck! Actually, if you'd like to build the Haunted Mansion ones, you can build those too, but we're not talking about those...yet. So, you never know where you might find some really cool stuff from your childhood!

So you should always "Keep Searching For Treasure!" (became "Treasure Finder's Delight") Ok, I made that one up...

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Mardi-Bat 2022

 Having been a collector for so many years, I seldom find anything "in the wild" that interests me. However, that happened a few days ago at my local Tom Thumb grocery store. I looked down and there- nowhere near the actual display- was this...

Yep, the brand new "TV Series" Batmobile! As you can see, this run is a bit...uh...different. 

I've never thought of Batman as a Gold and Purple kinda guy, but someone at Mattel did. I think it looks perfect for Mardi Gras, so who am I to judge. I snatched it up, not sure if I loved it or hated it. 

I'm still not sure- but there is a demand for them. They go on the secondary market for about 10 times what I paid (10-20 bucks). So I'll hang onto it. Although I can't get the picture of a gold lame clad Batman jumping out of it out of my head. Wrong. Just...wrong.

Until next time, keep searching for treasure!

Sunday, November 20, 2022

The Master of Views

 Sometimes when you collect things, you get other things that you don't collect, but maybe you do because now you sure gotta lot of that stuff that you don't collect...but you kinda do...

Now if that's clear, let's proceed.

There is something about a View Master that's magic. I don't mean it works by magic- I understand how the slightly different views create the illusion of depth. I mean those crisp, clear 3D images that instantly spur memories of childhood wonder. That, my friend, is magic! And if I see a Disneyland or Walt Disney World- I snatch it up!

However, in purchasing Disney park View Master reels, I often get unrelated reels in the mix. Some are kind of related, but not what I was after- but still they're pretty cool! So here is a selection of Disney movie reels that I just happen to have... By the way, I tried to figure out how old these are, and because the "gaf" is lower case, these are from the late 60s to the early 70s. The perfect timing for the attic! So here we go!

Let's start with this reel. You couldn't buy it. It came with your brand new grey plastic View Master! The shows on here are great! Granted, some I've never heard of. But Daktari? Oh yeah!

The first movie we have is Mary Poppins!

Each packet comes with three reels and a story book. Here is the back...

One of my favorite Disney movies! Interestingly, they would use cut outs of animation to create 3D images of something that was never in 3D to begin with!

The back...

And now Bedknobs and Broomsticks. These reels use a combination of real and animated pictures, just like the movie.

And the write up on the back...

The Bambi reel is a little different. It actually looks like they used clay figures to recreate scenes from the movie. I think. I couldn't find my View Master to see for sure!

Again, the write up...

Donald Duck is done the same way. It must have been expensive and time consuming to construct the figures and backgrounds 


Peter Pan follows the same formula. The images are really nice!


With The Aristocats, we're back to cut out animation cells. I wonder how they decided which reels would get which treatment.

The back.

Ok, I cheated. This isn't Disney. However, I really love Snoopy and the Red Baron, and it's my blog. So there. Snoopy is real figures again, by the way...

Once again- the back.

So there you go. I tried to include pictures of the images on the reels, but failed completely. Sorry!

Anyway, I have a lot of other reels and shows as varied as Bonanza and Lassie, but I wanted to stick to a theme. Hopefully I've added the memories of 3D magic to a few folks!

Happy Thanksgiving! Keep searching for treasure!