Thursday, June 17, 2010

Daffy Duck's Fantastic Island

SOURCE: VHS Tape, WDAU-TV (CBS Affiliate) Wilkes Barre, PA
QUALITY: 6.5/10 (picture is slightly fuzzy, good color, good audio)

From Wikipedia: Daffy Duck's Fantastic Island (also known as Daffy Duck's Movie: Fantastic Island) is a 1983 Looney Tunes film with a compilation of classic Warner Bros. cartoon shorts and animated bridging sequences, hosted by Daffy Duck and Speedy Gonzales. This was the first Looney Tunes compilation film to center on Daffy Duck, as the previous ones had centered on Bugs Bunny.

The premise of the framing animation was a general parody of the popular 1970s/1980s television series Fantasy Island, with Daffy and Speedy playing caricatures of that series' principal characters, Mr. Roarke and Tattoo (respectively). The pair, stranded on a desert island, discover a treasure map which leads them to a magical, talking wishing well (voiced by Les Tremayne). The greedy Daffy proposes to use the power of the well, which obeys the commands of whoever holds the map, to make himself and Speedy rich by selling wishes for a hefty fee, and has the well transform the island into a tourist paradise. (This showcases the modern Daffy's short-sightedness along with his greed, as he could have easily used the well himself to wish for all the wealth he desired).

As various Warner Bros. animated characters step up for their chance at the well, their wishes are fulfilled through the events of a classic Warner cartoon. Meanwhile, Yosemite Sam, cast as a pirate, and his first mate, the Tasmanian Devil, search for the map, which originally belonged to them (they had earlier lost their ship in a battle with Bugs Bunny). Eventually, the map is lost to all, and Daffy, Speedy, Sam, and Taz end up trapped on the once-again-deserted island. The well gives them three wishes individually. After Daffy and Speedy waste their wishes (Speedy wishing for a burrito, then Daffy angrily responding by wishing the burrito was stuck on the end of Speedy's nose), Sam wishes for a ship, abandoning Daffy.

Star Fairies

October, 1985
SOURCE: VHS Tape, KMPH-TV (ABC Affiliate) Visalia, California
QUALITY: 5/10 (significant VHS video crackle, good color, good audio)

From Wikipedia: Star Fairies was a doll toy series of the 1980s made by the Tonka company. The dolls had different costumes and personalities. Star Fairies was adapted into a televised cartoon movie, made by Hanna-Barbera Productions in 1985.

The movie is about a princess star fairy named Sparkle who lives up in the clouds in Castle Wishstar. Sparkle's job is to grant wishes to children who wish upon a star, but lately she has been overwhelmed by the increasing number of wishes being made. So she asks for help and receives not one, but five new star fairy helpers named: True Love, Whisper, Jazz, Spice, and Nightsong.

As the story goes on, fairies meet a little girl named Hillary (Drew Barrymore), who is upset but cannot think of a wish to make her happy. Hillary and other star fairies then seek help from Princess Sparkle. When Hillary and the Star Fairies return to Castle Wishstar, they discover Princess Sparkle's Wand has been stolen by a group of short, hairy elves, who have also made off with the Wishing Well. This sends them on a journey to recover the wand.

The Pound Puppies

RECORD DATE: October, 1985
SOURCE: VHS Tape, KMPH-TV (ABC Affiliate) Visalia, California
QUALITY: 5/10 (significant VHS video crackle, good color, good audio)

Wikipedia: In 1985, Hanna-Barbera made an animated television special, which aired in syndication that October, paired with Star Fairies. Characters in the television special included the Fonzie-styled leader Cooler (voiced by Dan Gilvezan), the cheerleader Bright Eyes (voiced by Adrienne Alexander), and a dog with a very nasal like New York accent known only as "The Nose" (voiced by Jo Anne Worley), and the goofy inventor aptly named Howler (voiced by Frank Welker), who can only howl.

A female dog from a wealthy aristocratic family named Violet Vanderbuck (voiced by Gail Matthius) is being pursued by dognappers when she is picked up and taken to the city pound. There, she meets the gang and discovers their mission to find homes for themselves. The film plot centers on Violet (whom Cooler insists on referring to as "Sam") attempting to reunite with her family, ultimately succeeding. Two other dogs appeared in the special. They were the upperclass snob Barkerville (voiced by Alan Oppenheimer) and the garbage-can-digging Scrounger (voiced by Ron Palillo), who later appeared in the season 2 episode Garbage Night: The Musical. The three of them appeared briefly in a flashback in the episode Wagga Wagga.

The characters Bright Eyes (voiced by Adrienne Alexander), Howler (voiced by Frank Welker), and The Nose/Nose Marie (voiced by Jo Anne Worley) would be voiced by different actors in the regular series, although Adreinne Alexander and Frank Welker would return as Brattina and Catgut respectively.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Tape Hunting

So, you're a nostalgia buff and you'd like to get involved in the trading community and get your hands on some of the old tv shows and Saturday morning cartoons that you enjoyed as a child, but you don't have anything to trade. Fear not...

Five years ago, Angie and I began this collection with one VHS tape that I've kept since I was six years old. From there, our collection has grown to countless hours of television from the 80's and early 90's that include the original commercials. Some of this collection has been acquired from trades, and a few have been downloaded, but the vast majority were found through good old fashioned tape hunting.


The most obvious place to start looking for retro television recordings with the original commercials (noted on the web commonly as w/o/c) is in your own attic and basement. Find some of your old home recorded VHS tapes, pop them in and see what's on them. Even if you know for a fact that the tape is a recording you made of a movie off of HBO a few years ago, pop it in and fast forward to the end. You might be surprised to learn that you taped over the original contents of the tape several times over the years, and the end of your tape may contain a half hour or more of nostalgic treasure.

If you don't have any luck searching through your own VHS tapes, it might be time to go tape hunting. Pick up a local newspaper and visit your local flea markets and garage sales. It is not at all uncommon to find dozens of vendors with boxes of old VHS tapes for sale. Home recorded tapes tend to go for anywhere between .25 cents and a dollar. There are obvious drawbacks to this method: you are very likely to buy A LOT of junk tapes that contain nothing of interest, but when you do hit gold, you will be able to introduce new material to the trading community and you'll quickly be able to double your collection many times over by trading copies of what you have found with many different collectors. In addition, collecting from flea markets and garage sales is very inexpensive and can be a lot of fun! Even if you don't find tapes of 80's or 90's recordings w/o/c, you're likely to find a lot of bizarre recordings along the way. Just look at the gems uncovered by the Found Footage Festival.

Here are a few tips to help you sort through the VHS sale box and find what you're looking for.
  1. Make sure the VHS is a T-120. - The T-120 tape was the original length of blank tape available for the VHS. These tapes will be either 2 hours (recorded in SP), 4 hours (in LP) or 6 hours (in SLP or EP) in length. Because the T-130 or T-160 weren't commonly available until the 1990's, sticking to the T-120 will eliminate tapes that are almost guaranteed to not include older recordings with the original commercials. You can usually find this etched into the plastic above the "pin" on the spine of the tape (the plastic square that you break off to prevent anyone from recording over the contents on the VHS).
  2. Feel the weight of the VHS - Older VHS tapes are significantly heavier than newer tapes. Pick a new tape at random and feel it in your hand. When you find a tape that is noticeably heavier, bring it home and check it out.
  3. Look at the box and label - There can be many clues that you can find on the box and the label of a VHS tape. Perhaps the most obvious, people tend to write out the contents. If you see the name of a sitcom or a cartoon, give it a shot. Also, inspect the label and box themselves. Do they look worn and old? Is there a contest or a coupon with an expiration date from the 80's? Is there any other giveaways of the age of the tape (I've seen Scotch 3M and Kodak tapes with labels that indicate that they are proud sponsors of the 1988 Olympic Games). Looking for these clues can dramatically increase your chance for success. They can also give you clues of what tapes to leave behind. It's a safe bet that if the label of the tape has a website address, it's not going to have what you're looking for.
  4. Ask the vendor - Granted, flea market vendors aren't world famous for their honesty, but used VHS blanks aren't a high dollar item. It's worth asking how long they've had the tapes or if they know what's on them. I once asked an older gentleman at a flea market if he knew what was on his tapes. After telling him what I was looking for, he informed me that he had an entire box of tapes of cartoons that he recorded for his grandson 25 years ago. He brought them in the following week and sold them to me for a couple dollars. At least two dozen of the cartoons, movies and holiday specials that you'll find on this page came from that single purchase. Because they have no cash value, you won't even be ripping anyone off if you happen upon a gold mine of retro recordings.

I've had less success with this method, but I have found a couple of diamonds-in-the-rough. Do an eBay search for used T-120 VHS tapes. This will cost quite a bit more than a flea market or a garage sale, and you'll be at the disadvantage of being able to inspect the tapes before you buy them, but you might get lucky. Message the seller and ask if the tapes might contain recordings of old tv shows with the commercials. If you offer the seller a couple of extra dollars for their trouble of inspecting and separating the tapes that include 80s recordings w/o/c, you might find yourself with a nice little collection delivered right to your door.


Last, but not least, don't be discouraged. Have fun. This is a treasure hunt. You're going to disappointed far more often than not, but when you do find something worthwhile, it'll be worth all of the quarters you wasted on junk tapes. When you find tapes that don't have anything you're interested in, there's no need to horde them and clutter up your home. Drop them off at the Salvation Army. You might even be able to claim them in your taxes as a donation. When you find something, post it here and we'll work out a trade. We're not going anywhere.

Happy Hunting! :)

- A&W

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Tape Trading

This blog was created for two reasons: to share rare recordings of broadcast television with others who can appreciate the nostalgia of watching a television program with the original commercials intact and to increase the size of our own collection of this material. These recordings are not being made available for profit and, for copyright reasons, they cannot be sold under any circumstances. If you have nothing to trade, please view my entry on Tape Hunting. With a little time and some pocket change, you're likely to have some video to trade within the year.

Many of the shows that are in our collection come from our own VHS recordings. Others have been acquired in previous trades or have been downloaded from a variety of sources.

If you are interested in making a trade, please comment on the post titled "Full Catalog" with a list of the shows that you have available for trade and a way to get in touch with you. This will allow other visitors to see what you have available and possibly lead to future trades.

There are several ways in which I am able to trade videos.


Over the past year, we've begun to migrate our collection to high quality AVI files that we view using the Western Digital Media Player hooked up to an old 1980's console television. This device, sometimes known as WDTV, can be hooked up to older televisions via RCA Audio/Video wires (the traditional yellow, white and red plugs) or can be hooked up to new HDTV sets via HTMI. The WDTV has two USB ports that allow you to plug in an external hard drive (I prefer the WD My Book) or a flash drive and watch a myriad of video formats on your television. The WDTV is easy to use with the included remote control and allows you to set up playlists to create your own unique retro television experience.

Other then the convenience factor of being able to watch our entire w/o/c library without changing tapes or discs, storing retro video on a hard drive (with a backup hard drive in storage) is a much more trustworthy option than DVD-R. Recorded DVDs are prone to scratches and DVD rot caused by time and moisture. Even under optimal storage conditions, a recorded DVD is not recommended for archival storage of any files long term. In addition to this, the variety of burning software and DVD players is a source of frustration in the trading community. I've received a number of discs from reputable traders that contain errors that cause them to digitize and freeze. Trading flash drives of high quality AVI files virtually guarantees that both parties will receive a top quality video. You'll also save money on blank discs, and you won't need any more than one or two flash drives (for each one you send out, you'll be getting a replacement in the mail with the videos that you're looking for in trade). Of course, it is also possible to digitally trade these files online (which I'm certainly willing to do), but I prefer the old fashioned postal service.


If all of this talk about AVI files has you feeling uncomfortable, don't worry. We still have all of our old DVD burns (and .ISO files on the hard drive) and we'll happily burn a copy for you for a trade. For the reasons I've described above, there is a risk for both parties of a defective disc or an error in the burning process. If any disc you receive from us contains any errors, we will send you another copy. Trust me; I know how frustrating it can be to look forward to getting a disc in the mail only to have it skip and freeze. I guarantee that you will be satisfied with any trade that you make with us.


If you don't have a way to record VHS tapes onto DVD-R or AVI, we're not going to leave you out of the fun. If you send us the VHS, we will record a copy for ourselves on DVD as well as a copy on DVD for yourself. In addition, you'll receive whatever it is that you're trading for. Within a week of receiving your tape, we will have your tape in the mail on it's way back to you with your DVD-R's. If you want additional copies on DVD so that you can trade with others, let me know and I'll burn a few extra for you at no cost (In other words, if you want two or three copies of your VHS tape on DVD, I won't demand that you send me more stuff in trade. Discs are cheap, and we're happy just to be able to have a copy of the tape for ourselves).

If you have any concerns, let me know and we'll address them. If you have something to trade and you see something of ours that you like, we will work something out. :)