Saturday, October 1, 2016

Land of the Lost Illustrated Timeline at We Are The Mutants

As a life-long Land of the Lost fan, I'd been toying with the idea of putting together a timeline chronicling the arrival and exit of all the characters, and tracing the various temporal manipulations and paradoxes created by the matrix tables and pylons. Well, I finally found an "excuse" to stop toying and start timelining when the creative mind behind one of my favorite blogs 2 Warps To Neptune invited me to contribute content to his newest venture, We Are The Mutants.

I actually rewatched the series in its entirety in order to put this timeline together, and it's BIG. Too big to print. But hopefully you'll find it fun to examine and explore through the viewscreen of whatever inter-dimensional machine you use to view The Internet. I also wrote a rather longish piece on the series itself that delves into some of the shows headier concepts and plotlines (masochists can read it here).

You'd do well to bookmark We Are The Mutants, too, especially if you are a fan of Gen-X era sci-fi, fantasy, toys and tech.

Monday, July 18, 2016

You Can Make An Insect Zoo (1974, Hortense Roberta Roberts)

If you have an irresistible urge to hoard insects in your home, and that pencil box full of dead flies just isn't cutting it any longer, then get ready to graduate to the big leagues. Because YOU can make an insect zoo!

Calling your creepy collection of bugs housed in makeshift cardboard boxes and discarded plastic ware a "zoo" will lend your insect fetish a whiff of legitimacy. And I won't even mention the potential income in tickets sold and yearly Friends-Of-The-Insect-Zoo membership dues.

I've always had a love/hate relationship with the insect world. I find bugs fascinating when safely observed on film or through the protective glass of a sealed container. Scurrying into my bed or landing in my jelly sandwich? Not so much.

You Can Make An Insect Zoo (1974, by Hortense Roberta Roberts, photos by Francis Munger) provides instructions for several types of bug enclosures for the junior entomologist to show off his menagerie of crickets, ants, moths and butterflies (sorry adventure-seekers, giant hissing cockroaches aren't welcome at this zoo!)

The Plastic Drinking Glass Case, intended for butterflies and moths, is described as the "easiest cage to make", and they aren't kidding. It's literally a plastic cup set upside down on a paper napkin. I accidentally make this cage all the time after a few cocktails.

The Cardboard Box Cage is a little more complicated with its screen windows and clear plastic roof.

The Milk Carton Cage requires pulling a nylon stocking (ask Mom's permission!) over a cut-out milk carton. With visibility on all four sides of the enclosure, it's sure to be a popular exhibit with zoo guests.

The Wire Screen Cage looks more like a proper insect cage you might buy at the store. It's a roll of screen sandwiched between the cut-out bottoms of two plastic bottles.

The book suggests using old bleach bottles. No doubt both the insects and your customers will appreciate that fresh bleach scent.

No, the Cricket Cage is not the name of a secret room behind a false wall and soundproof door in my cellar. Rather, it's an elaborate complex to house crickets that includes sleeping nooks, feeding pods, and a place to lay eggs.

It also works as Barbie's Bug Infested Studio Apartment.

The crickets from my yard don't look like the creepy ones pictured here--thank God. If I had a box full of these in my "zoo", I'd want to keep a can of Raid nearby in case I needed to, uh, close the exhibit early for a special event.

If the "zoo" concept doesn't take off, I'm thinking we rebrand as Cricket X-Treme Sports Arena.

Finally we have this Tunnel Cage, which lets you observe the tunneling action of an ant colony sandwiched between two transparent cups. I wonder what percent of ants end up accidentally glued to the cardboard base? Is there a target living-ants to glued-ants ratio with these exhibit openings?

Here's what the unglued ants look like.

You Can Make an Insect Zoo is a book I checked out once or twice from my grade school library, but I never actually built any of the cages and my "insect zoo" never happened.

Lucky bugs.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Tiny Dinosaur Museum and Tiny Safari (Whitman, 1975 and 1976)

What's more fun to a kid than a menagerie of living, breathing dinosaurs, knocking over trees and each other in the forest primeval?

Why, seeing static exhibits of dinosaurs in a museum, of course.

At least that's what someone at Whitman thought when putting together this adorable Tiny Dinosaur Museum Press-Out book (1975. Original price just 59 cents!).

In fairness, the only tip off that these dinosaurs aren't alive and teething are the exhibit stands they are meant to perch on, which attach separately. Stands attached = educational museum experience. Stands detached = Jurassic rampage!

If only Whitman had provided prehistorically inaccurate cheetah-print toga-wearing cavemen instead of these completely non-threatening museum patrons...

Did I say non-threatening? This security guard seems to be toting a pretty large truncheon.

I suppose that could just be a pointer to direct your attention to various details of the exhibits, but I'd rather believe the museum has seen better days and is currently experiencing a youth gang problem...

The museum setting was ditched for Tiny Safari (1976).

These are real animals in a real jungle, pursued by real hunters!

In real khakis!

Don't worry about the rifles on display--they aren't shooting to kill.

These happy animals are destined for the zoo, not the trophy room.

I previously posted on Dr. Popdoodle's Monster Sticker Book, which I discovered, having reunited with it decades after originally owning it as a child, was a Whitman book as well. These things used to sell at the local drug store and were a cheap way for the harried parent to keep their brats quiet while they waited for their prescription.

A lucky kid with both the Tiny Dinosaur Museum AND Tiny Safari books could mix-and-match the pieces and go on a dinosaur hunting safari (or better yet, put the museum patrons in a human zoo...)

Full scan of both books with selected details below.