Flat Stanley

April 13, 2010

You may remember Flat Eric from a few years ago.

Well, Flat Eric became a bit of a hit, was made into a soft toy, and I bought one for my niece one Christmas a long time ago. He’s still knocking around their house somewhere, having gone through the “wow! Cool ad!” stage to the bargain bin stage, and now, who knows, maybe he’s due a revival.

Or has Flat Stanley taken over? Flat Stanley’s been sent to me by my nephew. It’s a class project thing. He’s coloured (or colored since he lives in the USA) Flat Stanley in and he’s sent him on holiday. To me. Pity poor Flat Stanley.

He’s Stanley Lambchop, from a book by Jeff Brown. I’d never heard of it, and if you haven’t you can find out more here.

My job is to show Flat Stanley a good time and then post him back to my nephew. He’s not got long so I’ve got to get on with it. I might take him out to pool tonight.

So far he’s watched the Grand National and been to Stratford Upon Avon. He wanted to see a Shakespeare play, but I wouldn’t let him.

Yes, I know. I know what you’re thinking. So, yes, ok, I did forget to take Flat Stanley around Stratford with me and only remembered at the last minute as I waited to get the train. But, you know, he’s flat, and flimsy. I didn’t want him to fly away. Or get pecked by one of those Avon gooses.

I’ll do better. I’m under pressure. My nephew writes “I know Stanley will enjoy his vacation* with you… You are helping to make learning about Geography fun and exciting!

For those of you who missed out, here’s the film my niece and nephew made when I spent some time with them just after Christmas, Bad Guys Wear the Best Underpants. Time for a re-release. Look carefully and you’ll see my nephew peeping through the dolls house, and you’ll see him with his sister at the end. He should have sent Clint Frecklestone on his hols. That’d be a laugh.

* American talk for holidays.


February 5, 2009

actionMy 31st July 1976 copy of Action arrived in the post today. Only 32 years late. I got it on ebay for a couple of quid. When I was fourteen I bought it for 7p. I had every copy of Action; pre-ban and post-ban. Yes! In 1976 Action was the Jonathan Ross of its day, forced into taking a break and returning a while later in a toned-down less violent version. it was brought down by those paragons of virtue, The Evening Standard, The Sun, and, ahem, Frank Bough.

I liked Action because it had a bit of everything, and it was super! Sensational! Frightening!!! I’d grown out of Whizzer and Chips and The Beano but I hadn’t yet moved into my Sounds/NME stage (yes, I bought both and I liked Genesis, Souxsie and the Banshees, Styx and the Jam… I had to wait for the arrival of the New Wave overcoaters like Echo and the Bunnymen and Joy Division to really find my place.) I didn’t like football and so I avoided the likes of Shoot! and I didn’t like war so no Warlord for me. But I did like violence and Action had lots of it.

There was Death Game 1999 (unimaginably futuristic in 1976), a rip-off of Rollerball where the teams roared around the Spinball arena (modelled on a giant pinball machine) shooting metal balls into each others faces (post-ban the title was changed to Spinball). Hook Jaw, a rip-off of Jaws where the hero was a huge great white with a hook in its jaw (you may have figured that out) who each week would eat people. And Hook Jaw was one of the few stories in colour. It had to be. Every week there was bitten off limbs and headless men being tossed around by Hooky. And Blackjack; a boxer, called Jack, who was black… oh, and blind.

Despite not liking war comics I did like Hellman of Hammer Force; a World War II story told from the perspective of a German. He was a good German though. A Panzer Major who hated the SS. He spent more time fighting the SS than he did fighting the Allied forces. He was Tom Cruise when Tom Cruise was just a baby.

Right, I’m off to read it and see if it is as good as I remember. And at least now I am old enough to read it without getting told off by my parents. Or Bough!

Oh, for anyone not familiar with Frank Bough, just to let you know, it’s pronounced Boff!

Vintage movie stars

January 31, 2009


Here’s a picture of me as Groucho Marx. I’d just moved down to London in 1986 and this was one of the first jobs I got, demonstrating a game called Quotations at some toy fair at Earls Court. Sadly, Groucho Marx doesn’t make it into the Queens of Vintage.com poll I have just written a piece for; Which vintage movie star gets your Valentine’s vote? You can read my ramblings on Steve McQueen, Cary Grant, Patrick Swayze, George Clooney, and Charlie Chaplin (! Why Charlie and not Groucho?) here. Oh, and don’t forget to vote.

When I worked at the Toy Fair I was jealous of my friends who were promoting another new toy; Battle Beasts. I loved them. The Battle Beasts that is. Well, and my friends. Battle Beasts Battle Beasts, they battle for fun!

I never got to battle for fun, but then my friends never got to meet Peter Fielding and Gavin Wellman. Peter and Gavin, Peter and Gavin, the’re the Divisional Sales Manager and Marketing Director for Hasbo/Bradley! Hmmm, doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.


I walked by this sad little toy in the street today. You may not be able to read the piece of paper stuck to it. It says; please take. In working order. Well, sad to say, I didn’t take. For a few reasons. Firstly, I don’t think it was aimed at me. Secondly, I don’t know what it is, or what it is supposed to do, and so I won’t know if it is in working order or not. I hope it goes to a good home and to someone who understands what it is and what it does.

I think we should all have badges that say “Please take. In working order”. We don’t have to wear them all the time. Just when and if needed.