Monday, April 13, 2015

Muddin' at the Moose!

For those of you that don't know, I live on a little spit of land just off the coast of Virginia. If you've ever driven from Virginia Beach to Maryland, then you've driven through the Eastern Shore. It's not exactly a blink and you'll miss it type of place. It's more along the lines of, "Oh my God when is this drive going to end?" kind of area. There really isn't much to see on the highways, other than gas stations, a few shopping plazas, and a lot of fields. We still manage to find ways to have fun though. 

It was close to 30 years ago, but there used to be what they called "mud hops" up in the town of Tasley. What's a mud hop you ask? It's pretty much what it sounds like. A bunch of people dig a large pit in the middle of a field, spray a few thousand gallons of water into it, and try to drive their trucks through one at a time. There are different classes based on tire sizes and vehicle mods, but the end goals are all pretty much the same. Sounds pretty simple, doesn't it? 

I was only 4 or 5 years old when the mud hops were held up in Tasley, but I can still remember it like it was yesterday. My dad was in charge of one of the tow trucks responsible for pulling out the trucks that got stuck. This meant I had one of the best seats in the house, on top of the wrecker's hood. Sitting there with an ice cold Coke in one hand, a snack cake in the other, watching the competitors trying to plow their way through several feet of mud, I didn't think I could ever have more fun. Except for the sailor hat. I was pretty fair skinned, so I always had to wear this ridiculous sailor's hat that came down over my ears. It was embarrassing even for a 5 year old. I was so happy the day my dad handed me my own child-sized Coor's Light hat. I wore that hat until it was too small to fit on my head. 

As much as I loved watching the trucks drive through the mud pit, I think I enjoyed it even more when they got stuck. That meant I got to ride with my dad and "help" him pull them out. It was a fascinating process, full of cables, levers, and dangerous looking machinery. We never failed to pull someone out, and we never got stuck. As cool as it was riding in the wrecker, I was always jealous of the people that got to ride in the tank. That's right, a tank. The National Guard brought one of their tanks along, and they would use it to pull out a truck every now and then. I want to say it even got stuck once, and it took a couple of tow trucks to pull it out, but I might just be making that up. Sadly, after a few years interest waned or the property was sold, and they stopped holding the mud hops. 

That all changed last fall, when the Exmore Moose Lodge held their first "Muddin' at the Moose" event. It was hugely popular, and it appears that they're going to make it a regular thing now. So when I found out they were having another mud hop this past weekend, I knew I had to make it out there. I also made sure I took a bunch of pictures to show off. 

As you can see, there's a common theme among the vehicles. 98.7% of them were pickups, with a couple of oddballs thrown in. Some of them had bodies that looked like they were just rolled out of a showroom, while others looked like they were leftovers from a 50 car pileup. Regardless of how they looked going in, all of them came out the same way; caked from tire to top with mud.

One thing about a mud hop, as the day goes on, the holes just get messier and deeper. Most  of the drivers hooked up a tow rope before they started, otherwise they would have to tromp waist deep through mud to attach the rope to their hitch. They didn't come there to get muddy, they just came there to drive. I was particularly fond of the truck above, mainly because it looks like the first truck I owned. This one just has a lot more engine and the tires are slightly bigger than the ones I had on my S-10. 

A few trucks had some pretty elaborate paint jobs, such as "Mud Mistress" up there. Someone spent a lot of time and money, only to have it covered the second it left the starting line. Some of these guys spend a lot of time and money building these rigs, and in most cases, it was just for that one day. After that, they'll put on some old tires and push it back into the woods or the garage until the next event. Still, it's nice to see folks take pride in their work, when most people around here tend to half-ass everything. 

One of coolest vehicles out there was this jacked up Camaro. It was one of my favorites, but I think that's mainly due to the fact I owned a Hot Wheels monster truck that looked exactly like it. As crazy as the car looked, it was one of the few in its class to actually make it all the way through the pit. It took a few seconds, and it was spraying plumes of mud 50 feet in the air, but they made it. 

Since it's pretty hard to convey all the noise and energy that goes on at one of these events, I actually took a couple of crappy quality videos to share with you folks.

I've never been much of a gearhead, but there's just something about hearing and feeling the amount of power some of these trucks are putting out. Some of these guys are pushing 1000+ hp, which is why they tend to just skip across the water, rather than sinking into it. 

It was a great time, and if you ever get the chance to attend a mud hop, I highly recommend it. Even if you don't like it, look on the bright side; at least you'e not the guy that has to clean up afterwards. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Robocop and the Ultra Police.

I know I've mentioned it before, but I was way too young the first time I saw Robocop. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy it, I just think the parts of the movie that didn't involve Robocop shooting large holes into criminals went way over my head. There were some terrifying moments as well, such as when Mr. Kinney learned he should have ducked, or when Emil discovered the dangers of swimming in toxic waste.

Still, the ultraviolence and lack of action figures based on the movie didn't keep me from wanting to play "Robocop". I would just pick the G.I. Joe figure that looked the most like the cyborg, and pretend he was half man, half machine, and all cop. Then, about a year after the movie's release on VHS, Kenner put out a toyline based on a movie that was almost rated "X" for violence.

I was just walking down the toy aisles in Rose's, trying to figure out what I was going to blow my allowance money on, when a familiar silver cyborg caught my eye. I pulled Robo off the peg, and scanned every inch of his card. No longer would I have to deal with a poor facsimile when I could have the real deal. Robocop wasn't alone, though. He had a whole gang to fight, and a few friends to lend him a hand. Possibly the greatest thing about the figures was the fact they could fire caps. Just load a roll into their backs, pull the lever, and enjoy as you slowly lose your hearing.

Let's have a look at a few of  the figures from this line.


You can't have Robocop and the Ultra Police without Robocop. This was the first, actually the only figure I ever owned from this line. In my excitement at finally seeing a Robocop figure, I completely ignored all of the other toys in the line. It wasn't until I got home and reread the back of his card that I realized there were other characters available. Still, once I saw them on the pegs, I was underwhelmed. These guys weren't in the movie, so why would I even care about them?

Robocop came with a rather odd interpretation of his Auto-9 pistol, and a removable helmet. I never understood why his gun ended up looking so funky, but it works, I guess. When all the crime had been stopped, and all the bad guys had been shot, the pistol could be fastened to the left thigh. So it wasn't a cool retractable holster like the movie, but you could only expect so much for a figure that cost less than $5.

 Murphy removes his helmet several times in the Robocop movie, so it only made sense for his action figure to be able to do the same. The helmet goes on pretty tight, so it's not like it'll just fall off when you're playing with him. Take it off and squint your eyes just right, and I guess you could say that it looks like Peter Weller. The cheeks are as sharp and he has a bit too much forehead, but it's still a decent likeness for a toy from 1989.

As you can see, this particular Robocop was well loved by its previous owner. There are small scorch marks on the front and back, almost like someone was adding their own battle damage. I'm not going to lie, I did the same thing with mine. I actually ended up with a spare Robo somehow, so I used a lighter and a paper clip to add some bullet holes to one of them. I was quite crafty in my younger days.


If you didn't grow up in the 80's, one thing you'll quickly learn is that bad guys' names almost always tell you what they do. Looking like he takes his fashion and hair styling cues from Billy Idol, Chainsaw here is a perfect example of the 80's villain naming scheme. I guess you could argue that he's technically using a circular saw, rather than a chainsaw, but then you'd be a jerk. Let's just all agree that it's a saw, okay? Along with his saw, Chainsaw also came with a boxy pistol that he can hold, or fasten to his left leg. He actually has quite a few sculpted details, especially those chains around his arm and on his leg. I'm not sure what purpose they serve, wrapped around his shoulder like that. It looks like that would be a bit uncomfortable. I wanted to talk about the shirt, but first I have to mention something I just noticed. Dude has a belly button. It's a little hard to see, but look right under his shirt. They actually went through the trouble of giving him a belly button. You realize now, that I'm going to have to spend the rest of my days seeing how many shirtless figures come with a navel.

Before I forget about it, that shirt. I love that shirt. The bright yellow with the red Vandals symbol on it, it actually looks like something I would wear, mainly because I don't think dog and cat hair would show up on it. Also, I'm not entirely sure if it's a skull with fangs, or an ant head. Either way, I dig it.


If there was a Vandals member that was a complete doofus, and always screwed things up, I bet it would be Nitro here. I mean, just look at that face:

I can't tell if he's supposed to be a racist caricature of an Asian or a Native American. His eyes are shut so tight, I'm not sure how he's supposed to see anything. Perhaps he just witnessed a big ass explosion. That would explain the grimace, at least. I wish I had taken a photo now, but he actually has wrinkles sculpted into the back of his neck. He's scowling so hard he's giving himself a facelift.

I just got done talking about how villains' names always relate to their weapon or specialty, and Nitro has to come along and screw it up. Sure, his card calls that thing a Nitro-Pincher, but that's pretty weak. That's probably what his grandmother called her hands when she grabbed his cheeks. As you can see, it's not effective at pinching anything. This is why I say he's the idiot of the gang. They probably let this fool run around trying to pinch stuff, while they break into banks and just do altogether evil crap.

That purple thing on his thigh is supposed to be a Dyno-bomb, whatever that means. Oh wait, I get it..Nitro, because he likes exploding things. Great idea, give the moron the explosives.

Dr. McNamara

Hey, this guy was actually in the movie....sort of. I don't remember movie McNamara sporting a large submachine gun or those kick ass shades. With a face like every 80's action movie henchman, McNamara is the only Vandal that actually looks like he would be a match for Robocop. It's gotta be the arms. At some point, the Dr. got tired of getting sand kicked in his face, and gave himself some cyborg arms. Now he can go around punching bullies and cyborgs with reckless abandon. Speaking of cyborg arms, I've never been able to figure out if he just replaced his arms altogether, or if that is some sort of Robo-armor that he's wearing. If anything, it looks like he's wearing a Robo-cardigan. Along with his machine gun, McNamara also came with a Robo Scanner. Because it's so hard to find a guy that my grandmother could outrun.

Along with his metal sweater and cyborg arms, McNamara also has some fancy steel toed boots. If I was trying to kill a cop that was half machine, and I'd already built some upper body armor, I might spend another week or two and make some pants to go along with it. It's kind of hard to bury those steel toes in someone's ass when you've been capped in both of your knees.


Scorcher here is from the second wave of Vandals figures. He's supposed to be a pyro maniac, though his suit looks like it would fit right in at a fetish club. Armed with a flame thrower just as big as he is, half the fun is balancing him so he doesn't fall over. Unlike the other figures in the line, Scorcher's cap firing mechanism is located in his weapon, rather than embedded in his back. Pull back the metal lever, let it go, and not only does it set off a cap, but it also launches his missile.  Scorcher also comes with a removable mask, that makes him look like a scaled up figure from another popular Kenner line, M.A.S.K. Though his comrades aren't the handsome st bunch, Scorcher's face will likely give you nightmares.

See what I mean? That's the kind of face that makes Nitro up there look like Bradley Cooper. Whoever sculpted that visage hated children, and wanted to make sure they never slept again if they removed that helmet and gazed upon that image. I've yet to figure out if he's screaming in rage, or in the throes of ecstasy. I do know that it's probably not safe for someone with a unibrow that bushy to play with fire.

Sergeant Reed

Like McNamara, Reed was a character in the first movie. Actually, I think he made it all the way to the awful, awful tv series. In this case, he's been recruited for Robocop's Ultra Police, which means he gets some shiny blue chest armor, and a fancy helmet. The figure's likeness isn't too bad, though it looks like the previous owner tried to add some sideburns. I guess we all like to jazz up our toys in different ways.

I was thinking about how boring of a figure he was, until I realized that his uniform reminds me of the Ghostbusters' coveralls. If this whole Ultra Police thing doesn't work out for him, he could try out the whole chasing spirits business. All he would need is a proton pack and a Fright Feature and he's ready to go to work.

Of course, if the Vandals ever find that crime doesn't pay, they could just tour as an awful 80's hair band. They already have the name and the look, I'm sure Dr. McNamara could come up with some rockin' hits.


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

McDonald's Lego Motion Wind Whirler

If you were a kid in 1989 and you ate at McDonald's, there's a chance you got a Lego set in that thin cardboard box stuffed with fried potatoes, questionable meat, and grease. Tonight, I'm taking a look at one of those sets, the Wind Whirler.

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