Friends, on this Retro Records offering we are going to be revisiting those two mascots used by the much missed Burger Chef restaurants, I am of course referring to Burger Chef and his teenage sidekick Jeff. In a previous Retro Records article I touched upon why I have such fond memories of the restaurant itself, it had a little to do with the fact they were offering 4 Star Wars posters back in ’78, to say nothing of their patented Fun Meal. I should add while the fast food restaurant closed its last location in 1996, it did beat McDonald’s Happy Meal to the punch by about seven years. With the Burger Chef Fun Meal you would receive some kind of small toy or collectible, in addition to your burger and even a dessert. I think those of us of a certain age will begrudgingly admit that McDonald’s really did one better with their Happy Meal, although having said that, I cannot ever recall them offering Flexi-disc records like Burger Chef did.
It wasn’t just because of Star Wars that I was so fond of Burger Chef, as I’ve mentioned before it had more than a little to do with the fact they had a cast of characters made up of monsters. There was Burgerilla the Ape, Count Fangburger, Wolfburger the Werewolf, Crankenburger, and of course Cackleburger the Witch. And while it is quite true that my Father could rarely afford to take us out to eat at Burger Chef, I think it ended up making those times we did visit all the more special.
The Flexi-discs that were offered by Burger Chef were 33 1/3 records, with a running time of under five minutes long, but they did allowe for Burger Chef and Jeff to interact with those monster inspired characters. You might be interested to know that Burger Chef was voiced by the late and great Paul Winchell. Whose voice I think you might recognize from the incredible amount of Saturday morning and children’s programming that he lent his voice to over the years. Just a few of his notable roles include voicing the likes of Gargamel in the Smurfs, Fleegle Beagle in The Banana Splits, as well as Dick Dastardly for many of the Hanna-Barbera produced animated series.
Friends, with the release yesterday of the highly anticipated Godzilla vs. Kong from Legendary and Warner Bros. Pictures, the promised confrontation hinted at in 2017’s Kong: Skull Island and 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters has arrived. As a matter of fact if everything had gone according to plan, you would be hearing a non-spoiler review of Godzilla vs. Kong on a new episode of the Saturday Frights podcast today, however it was not to be… you’ll just have to wait a few more days to learn what we thought of the new film.
Having said that though I thought today might be the perfect time to remind you of two animated series that featured the adventures of Godzilla and Kong. In this case that would be the late ’90s Godzilla: The Series as well as Kong: The Animated Series from the early ’00s, both shows interestingly enough found themselves being aired on Fox Kids.
Godzilla: The Series ran for two season on Fox Kids beginning on September 12th of 1998, with the last new episode airing on June 15th of 2001. A continuation from the events that took place in the big budget reboot attempt by Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin of Independence Day fame. While Godzilla was not a box office bomb, the amount of revenue earned by the live action feature wasn’t enough for TriStar Pictures to invest in continuing the film series. And while the movie wasn’t exactly met with open arms from longtime Godzilla fans, the animated series turned out to be surprisingly popular.
The show followed the exploits of Dr. Nick Tatopulos, voiced by Ian Ziering (Beverely Hills 90210), who it is revealed found one egg that was left intact after the bombing of Madison Square Garden. The egg hatches and the new Godzilla imprints itself on Nick, who as a founding member of H.E.A.T. (Humanitarian Environmental Analysis Team) takes care of and trains the giant Kaiju to protect humanity from the increasing number of mutated creatures who have begun to appear all over the World.
The popularity of Godzilla: The Series led to two different Game Boy Color titles being released, with Godzilla: The Series published in 1999 and Godzilla: The Series – Monster Wars the following year. In addition there were plans for Trendmasters to produced a toy line for the animated series in ’99 but it appears the line was cancelled before it went into mass production. At the very least we have this unaired TV spot for the proposed toy line, featuring Godzilla and Cyber-Godzilla, the latter being the alien resurrected corpse of the Godzilla from the live action film!
As I understand it, the popularity of Godzilla: The Series did not go unnoticed, which is why Kong: The Animated Series was put into production. Airing as part of the BKN block of animated shows in 2000, the American-Canadian series would jump over to Fox Kids in 2001, where the first 13 episodes were aired over the Summer. Kong: The Animated Series would eventually be brought to Toon Disney in 2005, to take advantage of the hype for the then upcoming Peter Jackson helmed remake of King Kong.
Kong: The Animated Series focused on the friendship between a young man named Jason Jenkins and a cloned version of King Kong, from samples taken by Jason’s grandmother, Dr. Lorna Jenkins, after the tragic death of the Kaiju by the squadron of biplanes during the incident at the Empire State Building. Thanks to the Cyber-Link technology invented by his Grandmother, Jason is able to merge on a genetic level with Kong and lend his intelligence and martial arts skills to the giant ape. Interestingly enough the show explains that this merging is not an easy balance to maintain, each personality is attempting to become the dominant one, so this link cannot be maintained for a great period of time.
The main antagonist in the series is an evil scientist by the name of Professor Ramon De La Porta, who manages to steal Dr. Lorna Jenkins’ Cyber-Link, which he uses on various animals to create Kaiju strong enough to battle Kong. In addition the Professor is after the Primal Stones located on Kong Island, powerful artifacts that were originally used to imprison a demon named Chiros the Destroyer. With the Primal Stones in the Professor’s possession he would be able to take over the world, so it is up to Jason and his friends with the help of Kong to put an end to those plans.
Kong: The Animated Series released two direct-to-video films after the television series came to an end. The first was Kong: King of Atlantis in 2005 and the second was Kong: Return to the Jungle and was released two years later. In addition the animated series managed to have two games developed and produced for the Nintendo Game Boy Advance, the 2002 game was based on the television show while the 2005 title was based on the first animated film.
So there you have it, a look at Godzilla: The Series and Kong: The Animated Series. You might be interested to know that the latter is available to watch from that official YouTube channel link, a nice way to while away the hours before you can head out and see Godzilla vs. Kong for yourself.
Let us know in the comments if you remember watching these animated series, or if perhaps you preferred The King Kong Show from the late ’60s or even 1978’s Godzilla cartoon instead?
Friends, a couple of days ago while sharing an article on Twitter, I found that Patrick J. Doody posed the question if I remembered a short-lived game show called The Magnificent Marble Machine. The truth of the matter is I had never even heard of it – which seems odd as it did after all manage to feature a giant pinball machine as the main draw of the series. To be fair though when The Magnificent Marble Machine was being broadcast on NBC I was all but a toddler, so perhaps at some point it was on the television as I wheeled around the house in my walker with my Family giving chase?
Thanks to the IMDb listing we know that between 29 and 31 episodes of The Magnificent Marble Machine aired on NBC between July 7th of 1975 and March 12th of ’76. The series itself was the brainchild of both Merrill Heatter and Bob Quigley who would partner up in 1960 to form Heatter-Quigley Productions, with the sole purpose to produce game shows for daytime television. Together the two created the likes of the early ’70s blackjack inspired game show Gambit and the extremely long-running Hollywood Squares to name just a few. Although I was extremely surprised to learn that Heatter-Quigley Productions also had a hand in producing the classic Hanna-Barbera Wacky Races animated series. It turns out that the original idea was that contestants would bet on which of the racers would win the race on the show – with possibly Hanna-Barbera providing animation segments throughout the game show?
The Magnificent Marble Machine featured Art James (Mallrats) as host and before the show would receive some changes in 1976, contestants were teamed up with a celebrity partner. The contestants and celebrities would take turns attempting to solve blank word puzzles – generally relating to then relevant matters in popular culture. The pair who solved five puzzles first would then get to challenge the titular magnificent marble machine, the twelve foot long and 20 foot high pinball table. With the contestant and celebrity partner controlling the flippers by pressing down on oversized buttons. The overall goal was to keep the massive pinball in play for 60 seconds (when the flippers would be disabled) and avoiding the two ‘out’ holes located on the playfield – all the while striking bumpers to win prizes and points. If the pair were able to meet the target score on the magnificent marble machine, Art James would introduce the gold money ball, instead of points the contestant would wind up earning 200 dollars for striking any bumper or noisemaker. Afterwards as I understand it the contestant would be partnered up with the opposing celebrity guest and try to answer the most blank puzzles in an attempt to return on the next show.
The sad news as I found out is that it is believed only three episodes of The Magnificent Marble Machine have survived – due to NBC’s practice of reusing videotapes in an effort to save money. But thanks to that IMDb listing we know that the game show featured a staggering amount of celebrity guests including Adrienne Barbeau, Arte Johnson, Joan Rivers, Alex Trebek, Robert Reed, Chuck Woolery, Tony Randall, and Vicki Lawrence to name a few. Thankfully we have a full episode to share with you that features Florence Henderson and Roddy McDowall, and not to give too much away, it seems like you wanted the latter to help you play pinball!
In closing out this article I think you can see why NBC really thought that The Magnificent Marble Machine was going to just kill it in the ratings. I want to thank Patrick J. Doody once again for giving me the heads up on this fascinating slice of game show history. For what it is worth Patrick and I both had the pleasure of writing for the Retroist back in the day – and while I decided to produce pedestrian podcasts and articles – my friend has managed to write, produce, and direct all manner of projects ranging from web series, award and cooking shows, feature films, and even video games like Silent Hill: Homecoming.
Friends, if you take just a few moments to look out your window – you might possibly see a giant signal light reflecting off the clouds over the city. There is no cause for alarm, that is just the usual way that the latest Super Blog Team-Up is convened – a call for the best artists, podcasters, and bloggers to come together once more to discuss matter relating to comic book and pop culture related properties. Although for this particular Super Blog Team-Up, the group has been split into two teams to tackle separate themes – the Red Team have chosen to discuss Creators like Steve Gerber (Howard the Duck) and Carl Barks (Uncle $crooge). While my fellow Gold Team members and I have decided to answer Uatu the Watcher‘s recent question… what if?
While my contribution to this latest Super Blog Team-Up has a connection to comic books – to be honest it is a tenuous one at best – although a surprisingly significant one. I am going to be speculating what if a television series for The Sinister Dr. Phibes had been picked up – an idea that appears to have been on the table at one point. Based on the character created by William Goldstein and portrayed by the legendary Vincent Price in 1971’s The Abominable Dr. Phibes and Dr. Phibes Rises Again – which was released the following year.
Which leads us to the genesis of this article, it appears that back in 2007 – an eBay auction generated some buzz – as it was presentation art by none other than Jack “King” Kirby for something called The Sinister Dr. Phibes. In truth it wasn’t even completely inked but if you are familiar with the beautiful artwork of the late and great Jack Kirby – you know that doesn’t detract from how amazing it truly is. As a matter of fact you can check it out for yourself – courtesy of a 2011 article from the Kirby Museum.
The artwork was found and sold on eBay by Jeremy Kirby, the Grandson of Jack Kirby – who as I’ve read online assumed it was artwork meant to drum up interest for the 1972 film. Back in 2007 when that auction took place – some fans hypothesized that the artwork was for a pitch by Jack Kirby for a Saturday morning animated series. As Kirby of course was known for working with the likes of Hanna-Barbera, Ruby-Spears, and DePatie-Freleng – producing production artwork for characters featured in the likes of Thundarr the Barbarian, Space Stars, Turbo Teen, and others – that was not an unreasonable assumption.
This was not the case for The Sinister Dr. Phibes however as it was intended to be a live action television series on NBC, with the information I have found online strongly suggesting that Goldstein even delivered a spec script detailing how such a TV show would play out. Instead of wrecking havoc on those who he felt responsible for his Wife’s death or attempting to secure the secrets of eternal life – each episode would find Phibes would strike at those he felt deserve punishment for some specific wrongdoing. The good doctor would use disguises to get closer to his victims – then dispatch them by using his fiendish inventions – all personalized to the individual target.
What if The Sinister Dr. Phibes television series had been picked up though? In my mind’s eye, it would not only feature Vincent Price but would now paint the character as an antihero. Having made good his escape with his beloved Victoria, returning her to life, they are now globetrotting and dispatching various lawbreakers, murderers, and criminals that cross their path.
As the proposed TV series is believed to have been around 1972 – that means that the Mission: Impossible television show was on the air – so perhaps Phibes and Victoria would likewise target the mafia, dictators, and those abusing the weak?
In addition I think a team of law enforcement officials would be created to track down and capture Phibes and Victoria – always arriving mere moments after the duo have departed to a new city. Even better though, The Sinister Dr. Phibes would reveal that one of the targeted doctors from the 1971 film… has survived… and is intent on using his vast resources to hire numerous assassins to dispatch Phibes and his Wife.
And that is how I picture what The Sinister Dr. Phibes TV series would be like – if it had been picked up and produced. I would love to hear your ideas though in the comments section for how you feel it might have played out.
The Super Blog Team-Up fun is far from over though – make sure to check out the work of my fellow members:
Friends, my original intention was to have the brand new episode of the Saturday Frights podcast up for your listening pleasure – work however managed to throw a monkey wrench into those plans. However, this does afford me the opportunity to share with you an interview between Leonard Maltin and the legendary animator Floyd Norman – which was uploaded by Turner Classic Movies back on April 19th. Maltin of course besides being a renowned film critic is a huge classic animation fan as well as historian – after all – there was a reason he was picked to act as host for the excellent Walt Disney Treasures collection. And the truth of the matter is that Floyd Norman most certainly had a hand in classic animation – working as an inbetweener on Disney’s Sleeping Beauty in his early 20s.
After his work on Sleeping Beauty, Norman would find himself drafted into Military service – returning to the Disney studios in 1960 where he would have a hand in One Hundred and One Dalmatians and The Sword in the Stone. Finding himself being promoted to the story department with The Jungle Book, once Walt Disney managed to see some of the gag sketches Floyd was leaving around the studio. I should make a point to mention as you will hear in the interview itself – some of those gags were at Walt’s expense.
Floyd Norman would leave the Walt Disney studio for a time, co-founding Vignette Films, Inc., along with fellow animator Leo Sullivan (Flash Gordon, Pac-Man) and others. Producing segments for Sesame Street as well as the 1969 Hey, Hey, Hey, It’s Fat Albert special for NBC. Norman would return to the Disney studios but in addition would work for the likes of Ruby-Spears, Hanna-Barbera, and even Film Roman.
Now as for why that Leonard Maltin and Floyd Norman had this little chat – besides the fact they know each other quite well – is that the latter was one of the intended honorees at the 2020 TCM Classic Film Festival. With Maltin having been scheduled to receive the Robert Osborne award at the festival – with COVID-19 obviously rearing it’s head those plans had to be changed. At the very least it gives us the opportunity to hear Floyd Norman discuss some of his life as animator, author, and living legend.
Friends, as the last episode of the first season for the Pop Culture Retrorama podcast was back in March – I am willing to bet that waking up to find a brand new episode was pretty low on your list of things to expect today. The reason for this new show as I mention in the podcast itself, is to not only remind folks that the show is still being produced – but to also give you a taste of the new direction the podcast is taking. I will still be doing in depth episodes on all manner of pop culture related subjects – case in point for this show – the animated Saturday Morning Godzilla series from 1978. However, for the second season of the Pop Culture Retrorama podcast I will be joined by fellow writers from this site – all discussing their own subjects. For example, Rockford Jay shares some history on Queen’s memorable “Don’t Stop Me Now” – which just so happens to have been released in 1978.
Also joining us on this episode we have Ashley Thomas aka The Nerdy Blogger of Fangirlish – who shares the sad news that we have lost Norm Spencer – the voice of Cyclops from the X-Men animated series. Thomas provides her own memories of the talented Spencer but also provides some remembrances of those who worked with him – such as Cal Dodd (Wolverine) and Lenore Zann (Rogue).
Allison Venezio-Preston has decided to give everyone the lowdown on the updated Mall Madness board game – which includes new characters and stores – but still sounds like it is just as fun as the original 1989 game.
The esteemed Earl Green is also on this episode – taking time out of his busy schedule at The Log Book and writing for this site to discuss 1978’s Star Bird by Milton Bradley. A science fiction toy that I too coveted in my youth.
Bear in mind that the second season of the Pop Culture Retrorama podcast will not start until we are finished with the current season of the Saturday Frights podcast. So we hope you will enjoy this sneak peek at how the new PCR show will presented in the near future.
If you have any suggestions for topics you would like for us to cover in a future episode -or possibly you have comments on the current show itself, email them to me at VicSagePopCulture@gmail.com You can also contact me on Twitter and on Facebook. In addition I certainly hope you will take the time to visit the Saturday Frights Facebook Page. There you can find posts from Rockford Jay, Preston Griffith and myself on a daily basis.
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Friends, as I mentioned on the LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga article the other day – while I didn’t feel like writing the typical post on the passing of Joe Ruby – I am compelled to honor him in another fashion. In this case that would be presenting to you the top five best cartoon intros to animated series that were produced by Ruby-Spears. And just as with the likes of Carl Reiner, Ennio Morricone, Max von Sydow, and Sir Ian Holm – it is true that Joe Ruby had a good run, passing away on Wednesday at the age of 87. Although having said that it was kind of great to know that Joe Ruby and Ken Spears were still around – these two pioneers of animated television that forged a lifelong friendship at Hanna-Barbera. It was there at that famous animation studio where the duo helped co-create the likes of Dynomutt, Dog Wonder, Jabberjaw, and of course Scooby-Doo. In fact to lead off our look at the top five Ruby-Spears cartoon intros we are immediately bending the rules – starting off with Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! – I figure that since both Joe Ruby and Ken Spears worked on the series it gets a pass.
Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! premiered on September 13th of 1969 on CBS and while having two seasons worth of episodes – it was continuously reaired until 1976. The popularity of the series led Ruby and Spears to quickly apply the general concept of the Saturday morning series to Josie and the Pussycats, Jabberjaw, and Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels to name a few. Fred Silverman who had originally pitched the concept of what would become Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! was at that time the head of children’s programming on CBS – when he moved to ABC in ’75 – he brought Joe Ruby and Ken Spears with him. While the duo weren’t afforded the opportunity to set up Ruby-Spears Productions until two years later – they did have a hand in the likes of Return to the Planet of the Ape for DePatie-Freling Enterprises. A series that might possibly have the most terrifying cartoon intro of all time!
On the other hand, you could argue that perhaps the Ruby-Spears produced Thundarr the Barbarian from the early ’80s had an equally scary intro. I am sure that in the near future we will tackle this classic animated series on an episode of the Pop Culture Retrorama podcast. Nothing like a little production design by the legendary Jack Kirby and the ruin of the Earth in the first 11 seconds to make a kid sit up and take notice, right?
As I understand it, Ruby-Spears was formed to kind of give Hanna-Barbera a run for it’s money on Saturday mornings. It certainly did when Joe Ruby and Ken Spears set their sights on an animated anthology series for CBS – I suppose they noticed that Hanna-Barbera were doing pretty good with Pac-Man for ABC. Instead of one iconic video game character the series would feature segments for such video games as Frogger, Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr., Pitfall!, Kangaroo, Space Ace, and Q*bert.
Our last Ruby-Spears cartoon intro is for an animated series that back in the day… I quite frankly never even knew existed – I’m talking about 1988’s Superman. It features stunning animation and in addition benefits from the “Superman March” by John Williams.
Now Ruby-Spears Productions ceased operation in 1996 – after having been purchased by Taft Entertainment in ’81. The majority of their catalog was sold to Turner Broadcasting just ten years later – along with that of Hanna-Barbera as a matter of fact. But from reading up on Joe Ruby and Ken Spears it sounds like the duo never stopped working on new ideas for animated series – with I believe their last credited work being Be Cool, Scooby-Doo!. So, there are our top five Ruby-Spears produced or at least affiliated cartoon intros – what are some of your favorites?
Friends, as someone who has a sleep schedule that most would consider to be rather unique – let me say that I totally feel for Tom in the animated short we are sharing today. When scheduling some posts on Facebook this morning, I happened to notice one of my friends had shared some of his personal artwork – one of which was a key scene from Sleepy-Time Tom. This cartoon was originally released to theaters back on May 26th of 1951 and was directed by Joseph Barbera and William Hanna with music by Scott Bradley. To be completely upfront with you, what we are sharing today is a truncated version of the original animated short – although as with some of the early Tom and Jerry offerings it is easy to see why. In this case, WB Kids has decided to remove the beginning where we witness Tom and his friends coming home late in the morning from what appears to be a night of partying and quite possibly drinking. In addition you will find most of the scenes involving the character of Mammy Two Shoes, who was voiced by the legendary Lillian Randolph (It’s a Wonderful Life, Magic), have been excised for understandable reasons.
You might be interested to know though that in all, the character of Mammy Two Shoes or sometimes Mrs. Two Shoes, appeared in a total of 19 of the Tom and Jerry theatrical shorts. Her first appearance was in Puss Gets the Boot in 1950 and the last was in the 1952 short entitled Push-Button Kitty. Starting off as what appears to be a house maid, as the series progressed at the very least the character was shown to be the owner of the house where Jerry and Tom reside. I was not aware of this before writing the article – but apparently the legendary animator Chuck Jones oversaw new animation by way of rotoscoping for the ’60 television broadcast versions of the shorts, that replaced the racial caricature.
Will Tom be able to stay awake and avoid the attempts by Jerry to get him to fall back asleep – or will Thomas finally be kicked out of the house for failing to catch Jerry? Grab some breakfast and perhaps a giant cup of coffee yourself as we find out in Sleepy-Time Tom!
Friends, we are looking at about 16 weeks before Halloween is upon us once again – which is quite possibly my favorite Holiday of them all. While it is true I watch all manner of creepy and horror themed films and TV series throughout the year – it always feels a little more special during the month of October to watch something Halloween-themed. There are staples of October that I never miss watching on streaming services or popping in my Blu-ray player – such as Halloween, The Halloween Tree, Trick ‘r Treat, Creepshow, Tales from the Crypt, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, Hocus Pocus, and The Conjuring to name just a few. It looks like this Fall though there is another movie I am going to have to add to the list – as Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is unleashing Happy Halloween, Scooby-Doo!. Not only does this upcoming animated film guest star Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (Cassandra Peterson) but it also has Bill Nye as himself and features as it’s main villain – a member of Batman’s Rouge’s Gallery – the diabolical Scarecrow (The A-Team‘s Dwight Schultz). Keep your eyes peeled during the trailer for appearances of characters dressed up as iconic Hanna-Barbera and Warner Bros. film stars.
As the Scarecrow is the main villain – bringing a pumpkin patch to life it would seem – it’s probably a safe bet that Batman will be showing up at some point, right? Happy Halloween, Scooby-Doo! also sees the return of the legendary Frank Welker as both Scoob and Fred Jones with Matthew Lillard as Shaggy, in addition Kate Micucci returns to voice Velma and Grey Griffin voices Daphne Blake. The animated feature was written, directed, and produced by Maxwell Atoms – who you might remember from the exceptional The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy animated series on Cartoon Network.
Here is the Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Press Release:
“Scooby-Doo and Shaggy’s favorite holiday is upon us! With fake monsters and candy galore, Halloween is heaven for these hungry foodies going door-to-door. But this year, their sweet holiday turns sour when the neighborhood pumpkin patch is infected by toxic ooze, creating high-flying jack-o-lanters, and a king-sized pumpkin leader squashing everything in its path. It’s up to Scooby-Doo and the gang as they team up with their pals, Bill Nye the Science Guy and Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, to solve this mystery of gigantic proportions and save Crystal Cove!
Scooby-Doo and the Mystery Inc. gang are back in action in Happy Halloween, Scooby-Doo! a brand-new animated film that arrives on Digital and DVD this fall, from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.”
When Happy Halloween, Scooby-Doo! is released I will be sure to do a review of the animated film – I have a feeling we are in for quite the Halloween treat!
Friends, you have probably already heard that today is kind of an important date – 40 years ago today Namco’s Pac-Man was released on the World. While it’s North American release wasn’t until a few months later and handled by Midway Games – Pac-Man made it’s debut in an arcade in the Shibuya district in Tokyo as a focus test and video game history was made. Although it appears that it was here in the States where the game really took off – I’ve read online that in Japan it was another Namco title, Galaxian, that proved to initially be the more popular game. Toru Iwatani, the creator of Pac-Man or PuckMan as it was originally called, designed the game to be the exact opposite of the more popular arcade games of the day – with most of them being aggressive space shooters. In addition he felt that his colorful character would not only bring in female game Players but it might attract couples to arcades – help to stop the rather negative stereotype surrounding arcades at the time.
For myself I first encountered Pac-Man at the local skating rink, I had already a terminal case of video game fever thanks to the likes of Space Invaders and other earlier arcade titles. The bar however was raised the moment I inserted that very first quarter into Pac-Man – just like I mentioned with my article for the 40th Anniversary of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back – I was doodling the likes of Pac-Man as well as Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde on my schoolwork, notebooks, and any free piece of scratch paper I could lay my hands on. To say nothing of the fact that a fan could It was pretty obvious however that when Buckner & Garcia released their hit single in December of ’81 that I was far from the only one infected by “Pac-Man Fever”.
Pac-Man showed no signs of slowing down in popularity the following year – when Hanna-Barbera produced the Saturday Morning animated series for ABC. It has been reported that it managed to draw in a whopping 56% of the viewership during it’s initial run – it also included the characters of Ms. Pac-Man as well as Baby Pac-Man.
Obviously Pac-Man has shown no signs of slowing down in popularity 40 years later, there have been numerous spinoff titles like Pac-Man Plus, Pac-Land, Pac-Mania, Pac-Man Championship Edition. In addition to appearances in major motion pictures and even showing up as a playable character in the Super Smash Bros series.
The Pac-Man gaming franchise though all started 40 years ago… as a simple focus test – who knew how big the yellow guy would eventually get back then? While sadly in my neck of the woods we can’t hop on over to the arcade and play a game of Pac-Man to celebrate the 40th Anniversary – the truth is it’s widely available online, so why not join me in playing that classic video game to mark the occasion?