The DYR blog

The blog with general chat about all things from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s plus news about new features and developments on the website.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

King of Kong

There was a time when the coolest place on earth was a Computer Arcade. If you didn't live near one, then the films and TV of the time beamed this fact into your tiny impressionable consciousness. Sure they then, very quickly became the place of nerds and drop outs, but even then they were still ace.

Arcade machines became a phenomenon around the late 70's and early 80's, and the games were crude by today's standards having very simple graphics. However you can't help know their most popular titles - they are legendary: PacMan, Donkey Kong, Pong, Galaxian, Space invaders, Asteroids, Zelda, Prince of Persia, Q-bert. These games abounded, and were both infuriatingly simple and just as infuriatingly difficult.

If any of these names or memories mean anything to you - and to whom do they not? - you will love the film / documentary "King of Kong". The film charts the rise of arcade games and the people who played them. It follows a modern day Donkey Kong player - Steve Wiebe - who beats the world record. The documentary charts his mammoth battle to get his record breaking skills recognized.

The film is wonderful because it not only brings you right into the middle of cherished memories of the time, but it also shows you what the people who were the starts and celebrities of that era have become. It is a very funny film, but also gripping as you follow humble family man Steve Wiebe, hoping that he will finally gain the world record title he deserves.

King of Kong is nostalgic, dramatic, poignant and very funny. And you can become an expert at Donkey Kong over night! Sure it will be 20 years after it mattered to you, but late is better than never!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Exciting new sponsor

We're really excited because, for the next three months, we will be working closely with the retro toy retailer Hawkin's Bazaar to offer all DYR visitors the chance to win some cool retro prizes. Every month in the run up to Christmas, there will be a different competition with different

Hawkin's have some amazing retro toys available such as Big Trak, Space Hoppers and Rubik's Cubes. Please make sure you enter the competition - and have a look at their website. You might get your Christmas shopping done early this year!

Big Trak... it's back!

When Big Trak first emerged in the 1980’s it was a wonderment of technology.

This programmable electric vehicle created by Milton Bradley in
1979 was a marvel, a genuine marvel, to my 7 year old mind.

You could program into it where to go, forward 3 foot, left 5 foot,
back 2 foot, and off it would go following your every command.
AMAZING!!! A robot! At last! Comic books had been talking about them for
decades, and here we suddenly were in the 21st century with working
robots in the home! What was next? Jet packs???

It was quite the phenomenon of course, introduced on “Tomorrow’s
world” and “Blue Peter” it had presenters suddenly talking about this
new thing called “a computer” that “Big Trak” had inside it to tell it
what to do.

It was also a huge toy, especially for a child. But this only made it
more terrific, you forgot the fact that it almost broke your back to pick it up in your awe of it. It bleeped and pinged as it drove along it’s plotted
route, and then also when it stopped. It was quite reminiscent of R2D2 from
Star Wars which of course only made it better. (It was the same colours as R2D2.).

Looking back on it now, with 21st Century eyes, eyes fogged by the
dazzling Iphone and affordable 1000 GB hard drives, it looks
slightly communist in design - of course it wasn’t then, it was bang up-to-date capitalist.

As a child, my parents could never afford such a thing. They were
expensive at the time, so I was reduced to standing shoulder to
shoulder with my fellow poorer classmates, as the richer boys
programmed it mysteriously to move under it‘s own volition, to collect
them a can of coke, or to pull along their action figures.

Of course since that time many things have changed. Now, I CAN afford one! Not
only because I earn more money than my parents, but also because Big Trak
is being re-released and only costs around £30! Astonishing!

You can get them here and at the same time fulfil those young
fantasies. Now, when are they going to get around to jet packs?