March 31, 2012

What A Book!: 'Mail-Order Mysteries' by Kirk Demarais

This colorfully eye-popping book exposes the "real stuff" kids got whenever they ordered something from old comic book ads back in the day. You know, stuff like the Secret Agent Spy Camera, X-ray Spex, Sea-Monkeys, etc. Sometimes they'd get pretty much what they expected, but MOST of the time "disappointment" was the name of the game. By documenting more than 150 of these "extraordinary, peculiar, and downright fraudulent collectibles", Demarais also reveals the secrets behind these too-good-to-be-true widgets and gizmos found only advertised within the comic books of yesteryear.

Here, take a look at some of the fun inside...

(And it's all FREE... for only $1.00)

                                                                                                                                          Just add water!
Guaranteed to
grow disappointment!

                      Not X-actly what
kids X-pected...

I absolutely love this book! It's SO up my alley it's not even funny. Great layout/design, colorful, fantastic photos of everything, AND it's totally retro! I give it an A+!

So if you're at all intrigued by this mini-review, go get yourself a copy. Or, heck, you could mail-order one... At least now you'd REALLY know what you were getting BEFORE you got it!

March 24, 2012

Ain't nothin' but a clown dog!

I absolutely LOVE dogs, so I thought it would be fun to see what some of them were up to out 'n' about the internets. Here's a bunch I found just "clowning around"...

Yikes! I'm not JOKING,
this one is scary!

        Won't you laugh for
sweet Snuggles?

"Do you like my rrrruffles?"

"I really need a drink!"

I've heard of the Amazing
Technicolor Dreamcoat,
but THIS is ridiculous!

~ All photos via Google Images ~

March 13, 2012

On the Dark Side: A clown's notice of departure

Hello, friends! I must inform you that, today, the tent is dark. But not in the traditional way. No, the tent is definitely open for business. Er, uh, SHOW BUSINESS, that is! And we certainly have something to show you. It's just that what we have to show you is a bit on the darker side of things, especially compared to our usual fare. But remember, this is Pop Circus. Even dark things seem lighter here, somehow... That having been said, I also want to strongly preface this next presentation with the fact that NO ONE here at the circus finds the subject of suicide to be funny. This is simply an experiment in absurdity. I mean, who takes the time to write out their suicide note AND illustrate it rebus-style?! As far as I know, only one very sad clown named Happy.

Just click on each page to enlarge...

March 10, 2012

"Oh, boy! Tin toys!"

Tin toys are certainly among my favorite types of toys to collect. I find all of the colors and different characters quite charming. Not to mention how neat the mechanics are on the ones you can wind-up. But just as interesting as the toys themselves, is their rich history.

Tinplate was used in the manufacture of toys beginning in the mid-19th century. The toys were made from thin sheets of steel plated with tin, hence the name tinplate. They were a cheap and durable substitute for wooden toys. The toys were originally assembled and painted by hand. Spring activated tin toys originated in Germany in the 1850s. In the late 1880s offset lithography was used to print designs on tinplate. After the colorful designs were printed on the metal, they were formed by dies and assembled with small tabs. The lightweight of the toys allowed them to be shipped less expensively and easier than the heavier cast iron toys.

Germany was the major producer of tin toys in the world during the early 20th century. The most famous German manufacturer of tin toys was Ernst Paul Lehmann who is said to have exported 90% of his toys. France and England joined the fray and it wasn't long before hundreds of thousands of these tin toys were being manufactured.

Production of tin toys in the United States started earlier, but began in earnest when tin ore mines were opened in Illinois providing easily available and cheap raw materials. A number of manufacturers scrambled to catch up in the beginning of the 20th century, but it wasn't until after World War I, with anti-German sentiment high, that they began to make real gains. There was a growing demand for American produced products and by the 1920s American firms had overtaken the competition. The largest and most successful firm from the 1920s to the 1960s was Louis Marx and Company. Marx produced a huge number of designs and depended on large sales volumes to keep prices down.

The production of tin toys was discontinued during World War II because of the need for raw materials in the war effort. After the war, tin toys were produced in large numbers in Japan. Under occupation and the Marshall Plan, manufacturers in Japan were granted the right to resume production. The idea was to give Japan all of the low profit; high labor manufacturing and the US companies could sell the imported product. It worked better than they had expected and Japan became a tin toy manufacturing force until the end of the 1950s. In the 1960s cheaper plastic and new government safety regulations ended the reign of tin toys. Presently, China has taken over the role of the leading tin toy manufacturing country.

And there you have a brief historical summary of where tin toys came from and what they went through so that you and I could enjoy them today.

What I wouldn't give to be that kid for a day... He's just having SO much fun with his robot! And those goggles, I wonder what he's seeing through those? X-ray vision, perhaps? Whatever the case, today is Saturday and we should all go out and play, with our tin toys, or not!

~ Information Source: Wikipedia,  Photo Source: Google Images ~
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