Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Man Crate

Doug: Last Tuesday I was contacted by the Community Manager for Man Crates. She'd done some homework on blogs that deal with 1970s and '80s nostalgia, and felt the Bronze Age Babies and its readers would be a good landing point for some help. You can check out the company's website and offerings by clicking here. Personally, I think this is a great idea! In fact, I'm going to suggest my new daughter-in-law take a look at the website. Apparently the folks at Man Crate would like to add to their product line and introduce a new crate -- one geared to "people of a certain age". That's where we come in!

Doug: I was asked to lead this off with my own opinions on what I would like to receive in such a gift package. So I'm going to throw out some suggestions, not really knowing if some of these things are still being made -- but they make me think of my childhood and high school years!

  1. Candy bars like Reggie, Whatchamacallit, PB Max... I can recall a time in college when the Mars company did a test market in the Peoria, IL area. Peoria's one of the slice-of-America cities that has demographics that make it perfect for such things. Anyway, my mates and I rolled into the lunch room one day to find a nice lady holding a basket of these PB Max candy bars. We'd never heard of them, but let's face it -- chocolate, peanut butter, and crunchies is a formula for success. Being brash young men, we asked if we could take more than one. She said "help yourselves". Whoa... so we each grabbed a couple, and 3-4 more on the way out. We spent the afternoon listening to music and eating candy. And we were so sick I don't recall that we went to supper that evening. But those candy bars were awesome. Other novelties from the corner store included wax lips and candy necklaces.
  2. I'd put a copy of one of the Panini Marvel Pocketbook digests in the crate. Again, Edo Bosnar turned me on to these things some months ago, and I now own four with a fifth pre-ordered. They're just great -- the price is unbeatable. Here's a link to those books, on sale from the Book Depository in the UK. I'd definitely toss in one of the Spider-Man or Avengers books, as they're quite Bronze Age.
  3. I'm trying to think of movies that I just love -- films that I'll stop and watch whenever I see them on TV. My first inclination is Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but since that's not Bronze Age I'll offer up any of the Planet of the Apes movies, Jaws, Animal House, Stripes, and of course Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Superman The Movie, and Rocky. You couldn't go wrong with a DVD set of the $6 Million Man, either. Or the original Battlestar Galactica. And here's a thought -- what about a couple of actors who link the beginning of the Bronze Age to near its end? Take Harrison Ford: American Graffiti, Star Wars, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Or John Travolta? Welcome Back Kotter, Saturday Night Fever, Grease, and Urban Cowboy?
  4. I think a toy of some sort should be in the crate. My go-to back in elementary school was of course the line of Mego action figures -- the World's Greatest Super-Heroes, but beyond that too. DC recently made some retro facsimiles. Another sort of toy I played with through junior high and high school were the various games from Mattel Electronics. I had the second version of the football game and played it endlessly. Many years later, Mattel revived the line and my wife and I, both with fond memories of those, bought a couple for our sons.
  5. Lastly, I'd put some snacks in the crate. But old stuff -- Bugles, Hostess Twinkies or fruit pies, Fresca, maybe a Jiffy Pop.
Some of you may recall a post called Take 5: Fabulous Childhood Memories. Today's offering evokes that sentiment -- kindly refer to it if you need further inspiration. I know I can't wait for the comments to begin, because there will be many great suggestions! After all, I didn't even mention music...!


Martinex1 said...

I like the idea of the crate.

My wife and I were just talking about candy we liked growing up and whether or not it still exists. Marathon Bars with their twisty pretzel like shape and commercials spotlighting how long it took to chew. Charleston Chews. Mike and Ikes. Cigarette Candy. Choco Lites. Bottle Caps. Zots.

I'd add to the crate a box of cereal like Honeycomb or Quisp or King Vitamin.

And cassette tapes and a Walkman. I can remember listening to The Who and The Police and Dire Straits on cassette over and over again.

As far as movies, perhaps a collection on VHS of the bad knockoff type movies that followed genre classics. These always showed up on cable over and over again like Orca, or Beastmaster, Tor, Outlander, Capricorn 1, etc. I use "bad" of course as meaning "the best"! Ha.

Or a cassette of old TV shows like Buck Rogers, Project UFO, Battle of the Network Stars, and Rockford Files. (Please include all of the commercials and promos)!

And one last thing would be one of those old handheld electronic sports games. I cannot recall who manufactured them but Football had 4 or 5 small red LED lights as the whole offensive team and you would move one of the dots as your ball carrier. I still remember the blip blip sound of running and the touchdown score sound.

Redartz said...

These sound like all kinds of fun, both to open and to receive! I second Doug's suggestion of a Panini digest, and Martinex' of a box of cereal (Count Chocula, perhaps?). A few other possible inclusions:
A pack of Wacky Packages stickers (or some other humorous trading card)
A Hot Wheels car (red line, preferably)
DVD collection of a classic Saturday Morning cartoon (Jonny Quest would be a great choice)
Glass bottle of pop, with a bottle opener

Anonymous said...

I'd put a Marvel T-shirt featuring Spidey, Cap or Hulk (yes I know they're a dime a dozen nowadays but 30 years ago you were a true fanboy if you had one), a genuine vinyl Bee Gees Saturday Night Fever disc (hey don't judge me!) and an original bionic Steve Austin action figure.

- Mike 'disco daddy' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Humanbelly said...


See, thing is--- all the stuff we're suggesting? It's sort of the OPPOSITE of the "Manly Man's Man" mystique that the product line is more or less aimed at. Er, isn't it? Their packages are pretty much duh-renched with an assumption of testosterone, y'know? Whereas-- oh, how I put this-- our realm of nostalgia and interest, while almost purely aimed at boys, doesn't seem to be aimed so much at the "tough-guy" boys who make up the jerky-eating, blade-coveting, whiskey-drinking, meat-grilling contingent that they're going for, here.

Well-- which I suppose is why they're asking for our input, in order to expand their appeal. Okay-- I can get that. Not really a fan of this whole "Home Improvements/Tim Allen" view of What Appeals to Guys, though-- never have been. I know it's in fun, but it is a chunk of reverse sexism that rubs me the wrong way.

BUT-- for my thoughts on a BAB's-focused crate? I definitely think a MARVEL MASTERWORKS volume would be HIGHLY in order as a centerpiece. Perhaps build an included snack around that? And a couple of action figures?

Oo-- an original (big) G.I.Joe package, maybe?


Dr. Oyola said...

All I'd want is a box of cheap comics from the 70s and the first half of the 80s from VG to F+ to look through. - like when my buddy gave me his box of comics to pick out what I want and sell the rest: Check it the experience here.

Edo Bosnar said...

Yeah, I'm with HB on this. The whole 'man crate' concept immediately prompts me to ask, 'Is there a woman crate, too?' (Apparently not, according to Google and Yahoo; there's gift baskets for women, and links to the aforementioned Man Crate site for women to browse, and - I'm not kidding - one of the top hits on Google was a rather disturbing news story about a man locking a woman in a crate) So yeah, it kind of rubs me the wrong way, too...

Otherwise, I like Osvaldo's idea of a big box full of comics from the period; riffing on that idea, I'd (also) like a big box of used SF and other genre paperbacks from that time. And maybe some Jolly Ranchers or Bottle Caps (good call, Martinex!) to savor while browsing through them.

Abe Lucas said...

"And one last thing would be one of those old handheld electronic sports games. I cannot recall who manufactured them but Football had 4 or 5 small red LED lights as the whole offensive team and you would move one of the dots as your ball carrier. I still remember the blip blip sound of running and the touchdown score sound."

It's a dark green color and was made by Mattel, iirc. I still have mine around here somewhere. It still works perfectly, too.

Original cast Saturday Night Live DVDs--after all, they did appear in a MTU once upon a time...

I'd love for defunct products like coconut Yoo-hoo to be included. Hostess cupcakes, Twinkies, and of course fruit pies would be ideal for the Bronze Age comic obsessive.

Oh, and while we're at it, bring back Mr. Pibb. ;)

I don't take offensive to the term "Man Crate." Speaking of gender I never knew any girls to be interested in comic books during all my childhood years reading and going to my local LCS. There were no "Karen" types in my world then. ;) Those of you who knew female comic fans were very fortunate, indeed. It's a MUCH better world now that things have turned away from the male-dominated passion that comics is often perceived to be.

ColinBray said...

This is where things get tricky for the British brothers (and sisters)

While I can share the comic nostalgia here on a pretty level playing field (heck, it was this precise 'American-ness' that drew me to Marvel and DC comics in the first place) my childhood references are somewhat different. So assuming a nostalgic 70s British 'man crate' down the line I would go for...

- a cut out and keep footballer photos/booklet from British sports comic 'Roy of the Rovers'
- quarter ounce of pineapple cubes (loosely sold sweets)
- a packet of fish and chip flavour crisps
- miniature model/toy of 'The Liberator' spaceship from the TV series 'Blake's 7'

Just my 2c, errr I mean, 2p.

Martinex1 said...

I don't mind the crate itself. I guess it is better than a "Man Sack". However, the box would be particularly cool if it was marked and charred like the crate at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

I like Colin's international take on it. Perhaps there can be some Dandelion and Burdock inside, so I can finally taste it.

I also like the GI Joe or Steve Austin figures. I always wanted the Evel Knievel stunt cycle or the POTA figures; maybe that is an option.

Redartz suggested Saturday AM Cartoons and Wacky Packages. I am all in for that.

ColinBray said...

Ha, Dandelion and Burdock...um, I don't know what that tastes like either!

It would be great to swap my man crate for an American one and finally live out my childhood dreams based as they were on the ads in 70s Marvel comics. :)

Humanbelly said...

Saaaay, Colin-- would Classic Dr Who or, dare I say it, early Tomorrow People work for the youthful product of the British Bronze Age?

(OMG-- HBGirl and I watched the entirety of Tomorrow People a few years ago; we both discovered that it's possible to asphyxiate oneself with howling derisive laughter. . . "Disguised as fashionable jumpsuits, mind-controlling aliens attempt to enslave mankind")


Anonymous said...

Can't speak for Colin Bray, but I'd prefer Children of the Stones to old Dr.Who, let alone the Tomorrow People. I can't imagine why anyone would sit through a whole episode of Tomorrow People.... but you watched ALL of it HB? - what on earth possessed you?
And Dandelion & Burdock - yuck!

So as not to be completely negative - a big yes to cassettes!
And vinyl too. With thick cardboard sleeves.


Martinex1 said...

Thanks to C.K. Dexter,I just realized the Mattel game that Doug mentioned in the opening is the same game I could not identify. Doh!

Does anybody remember Marshall Brodine's magic cards? Those goofy card tricks occupied weeks of my childhood. Throw a loaded deck in the crate.

HB and Sean bring up two more television shows that I never heard of but now have to keep an eye out for. Add them to the list for retirement. Can I say that there is just something about the pacing of Dr. Who that gives me the creeps? I don't watch it much, but the tone of conversation with its calmness adds some level of suspense. Cannot explain it. Just used to U.S. melodrama, big actions, and loudness so the opposite stresses me.

I think the crate should have a eight pack of pop in glass bottles (following Redartz' lead): Jolt, Fresca, Tab, RC, Mellow Yellow, Faygo Orange, Mr. Pibb, and Shasta Cream Soda. And perhaps a Hungry Man frozen dinner with the tinfoil lid.

Edo Bosnar said...

Okay, I like the idea of an 8-pack of glass-bottle soda pop (see how I avoided the 'soda v. pop' controversy there?), and I definitely second the inclusion of Shasta cream soda and RC, but man, no selection of soft drinks from the '70s would be complete without Orange Crush and Mug Root Beer.

Redartz said...

I like the 8-pack idea; good call on the Crush, Edo! I'd go with Mason's Root Beer, though. And add a Fanta Red Cream Soda...

Doug said...

Thanks, everyone, for the great suggestions! I think we had a super response to the request to help the Man Crate folks craft a new product.

Lots of suggestions for music -- vinyl and cassettes. I think it would be most fitting, in an effort to summarize several years of the 1970s or '80s, if the vinyl included in the crate was a K-tel album!

Sorry I was not around to participate all day -- I was traveling out to HB's neck of the woods. I'll be here in DC through the 17th on my annual assignment facilitating at two national teacher conferences at the Holocaust Museum. HB - found a new comic shop in DuPont Circle: Fantom Comics. I will check it out sometime in the next several days!


Humanbelly said...

Holy Cats, I was at the Dupont Circle station twice today! A new comic shop, eh? Man, if it's in that neighborhood, there's going to be an automatic Hot Location mark-up, I fear!

Let me know if you're up Chinatown way this week (basically a block north of the Nat'l Portrait Gallery)-- I'm running followspot for a TheatreLab production of Pacific Overtures that my daughter's in. Kinda ensconced there for rehearsals and performances through Saturday. (Get a break in the tuition, y'see--)


ColinBray said...

HB - yes, I did think about Dr Who but always preferred the books to the TV series - perhaps an old Target (publisher, not the retail chain) paperback copy of 'Dr Who and the Seeds of Doom'.

As for Tomorrow People, I must have missed it. If I'm too young (45) it must have been so bad we didn't get re-runs!

ColinBray said...
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Edo Bosnar said...

I see a lot of suggestions for music on vinyl/cassettes and movies on VHS tapes. While I agree that it would be funny to get something like this (especially 8-track tapes!) and it would definitely tug the old nostalgia strings, how many people still have functioning devices that can play these items? I'll admit, I still have a cassette deck that works, but the last time I played anything on it was over 10 years ago (and I vaguely recall it was a recorded conversation or something else I need for work). I'd never listen to music on it anymore. Personally, I'd prefer getting music and, especially, favorite movies or TV shows from the period in the latest format, and maybe just packaged to seem kind of retro. In that regard, I love Doug's idea about the old K-tel records - although again, I would prefer a CD packaged like a K-tel album, with, say, a compilation of hard rock, punk, funk, or (why not?) disco/dance hits from the '70s (or from the '50s - because a big part of my pop culture memories from the '70s was all the reminiscing about the '50s).

Humanbelly said...

It was bad, fellas. Tomorrow People was bad. From the melodramatic Caroline & bless-his-heart Kenny of the first season to the kilt-blowing-up (on camera!) Andrew and google-eyed, felt-costumed aliens of the final one. And the inexplicable cast-changes in-between. HBGirl and I plowed through 'em all. . .


david_b said...

Doug, HB, I LOVE Dupont Circle.., just a nice laid-back groove to it, especially when they have local musicians playing in the park. I don't remember the bookstore name but there was one on the main drag connected to a pub with great lunches and nice summertime ales.

Colin, great comment on Who. I actually read all those Baker/Pertwee books far more than watching the series back in the '70s on PBS (when they'd ever decide to run the episodes), just before Who broke big in the US. I even picked up that 'Seeds of Doom' paperback a few months back, love the cover.

I thought of the story a lot when I was removing all the excessive ivy from my brick home a few weeks ago. The way it kept creeping along the entire side of my house certainly brought back memories of the Kryoids. GREAT story.

ColinBray said...
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ColinBray said...
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Dougie said...

Now I'm ready to rewatch the Tomorrow People. But probably the second series only.

I finally tasted Hostess Twinkies last year. Really too sickly for me. But otherwise, some of the Marvel and comics products of my teen reading would be great in my crate: the Conan coin/medallion; From Beyond the Grave, that first Spider-Man lp; the Doc Savage/ Spidey team-up giant that i still haven't read...

Humanbelly said...

Ah, aaaaaand the Tangent-Monster has gleefully sucked poor Dougie into its siren-song abyss.
(Wow-- having a tough time living with guilt of causing you to RE-watch old Tomorrow People.)

Like so incredibly much of British television, familiar faces pop up on that series that you never would have guessed at. Trevor Bannister, Peter Davison. . .

Hey, back to the Man Crate for a minute-- what about something Hot Wheels/Johnny Lightning centered? Maybe a BUNCH of cars, a ton of straight track, the starting pad, and flagged finish gate? And then again with some of the age-appropriate snacks one associates with that kind of afternoon activity?


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