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December 4, 2007 9:17 AM   Subscribe

Retrostatic is a treasure trove of 80's (and 90's) TV commercials--from PSAs of singing pills to the Post cereal Create-A-Villain contest (and so much more). Also, cartoons, with descriptions and opening sequences of everything from Alf Tales to Thundercats.
posted by dersins (50 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
I kind of can't believe that a resource this comprehensive has never appeared on Metafilter before. Am I missing something? Is my search ability fail? Is this just something that everybody but me has known about forever? Is this like me "discovering" google and thinking it would make a great Metafilter post? 'Cause that's kinda what it feels like...
posted by dersins at 9:20 AM on December 4, 2007


I must be getting old, because I really can't get my head around this whole 90s-as-retro thing. Surely being retro is for other, lesser decades that I was a kid or at least unborn in.
posted by Artw at 9:29 AM on December 4, 2007


Dersins, why do you hate productivity?
posted by Horace Rumpole at 9:36 AM on December 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


I really can't get my head around this whole 90s-as-retro thing.

I don't get it either--the 90s were less than 10 years ago.

Also, I look forward to the MetaFilter of 2050, when we discover retro-sites-as-retro: "Remember when 80s nostalgia was all the rage? Relive those days of reliving those previous days again via the new telepathic interface from Google by thinking here."
posted by DU at 9:41 AM on December 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


What happens when the retro-craze overtakes the present?
posted by jquinby at 9:44 AM on December 4, 2007


No Puppy Surprise…
"Surprise Surprise, Puppy Surprise… How many puppies are there inside!?"

No Tinnitus PSA from the 80's? Mannequin head propped up before black background. Loud sounds like rock music, car horns, machinery, loud headphones on the mannequin. Then, this very spooky dual harmonic frequency kicks in and three ominous laser dots glow on the side of mannequin's head. Did I dream this?
posted by JBennett at 9:49 AM on December 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


God I love ephemera like this. A friend loaned me a VHS tape of SNL skits from the early nineties--and the commercials were fascinating. I don't know why, quite.
posted by everichon at 9:52 AM on December 4, 2007


How many puppies...oh christ, I better not visit this site. Wait wait...do they have the one that goes "There I was there I was there I was: In. The Congo."?
posted by DU at 9:55 AM on December 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


What happens when the retro-craze overtakes the present?

Don't worry, the Department of Retro is under the steady hands of Secretary Brian Setzer.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 9:58 AM on December 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


The Singing Pills PSA always cracks me up. I remember it as a kid, and then many years later I had to listen to "Dangerous" by Busta Rhymes a number of times until I could figure out why the chorus was so damn familiar!
posted by rollbiz at 10:01 AM on December 4, 2007


No, they don't have the Congo one (which is from 1992, apparently, so ixnay on the not-understanding-90s-retro-way). Here's the funny part, though: It's a Bud Dry commercial, of the "Why Ask Why" series. I found two others from that series on YouTube, both of which starred people who later appeared in The Drew Carey Show.

COINCIDENCE?
posted by DU at 10:05 AM on December 4, 2007


I remember the singing pills. In fact, I remembered all of the lyrics to it. Thats... frightening.
posted by Karmakaze at 10:08 AM on December 4, 2007


What happens when the retro-craze overtakes the present?

I've wondered about that.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:12 AM on December 4, 2007


Alf Tales. Yow. I think that show may have been the first time I grappled with the concept of less-is-more where backstory is concerned. Melmak was just fine as a hazy set of allusions in the sitcom, dammit.

And god I was hoping this would be a double post. The deletion reason writes itself. Curses upon you, dersins.
posted by cortex at 10:19 AM on December 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


It is a sad state of affairs when we have to turn to ads, the very things e got annoyed with, to get nostalgic abcout the past.
I prefer recalling gas at 60 cents per gallon.
posted by Postroad at 10:20 AM on December 4, 2007


A friend loaned me a VHS tape of SNL skits from the early nineties--and the commercials were fascinating. I don't know why, quite.

I should look at my VHS tapes of Monkees episodes from the mid 80's and see what sort of commercials Nickelodeon was showing then....
posted by Lucinda at 10:23 AM on December 4, 2007


Great - now I'll have the "3-2-1 Contact" theme song stuck in my head for another 25 years.
posted by suki at 10:28 AM on December 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Curses upon you, dersins.

I just got cursed by a moderator.

That's a good thing, right? I always forget!
posted by dersins at 10:34 AM on December 4, 2007


What happens when the retro-craze overtakes the present?
posted by jquinby at 9:44 AM on December 4 [+] [!]


Remember yesterday? Yeah, wasn't that great? They just don't make 'em like that anymore...
*waxes nostalgic*
posted by lekvar at 10:43 AM on December 4, 2007


OK, here is where I ask if anyone else in the world remembers the (possibly local to Boston) PSA about an "alien from Mars" who only eats candy bars, but when presented with a few pieces of fruit (in a cardboard model of an Apollo re-entry capsule) declares it "delicious and not bad". Anyone?
posted by Rock Steady at 10:54 AM on December 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


That was so awesome, thanks!
posted by poppo at 11:11 AM on December 4, 2007


You guys remember when they had that one bud light ad where they are at the opera and their bottles blow up... then the guy in front looks at them with a can and says first time at the opera. That commercial takes me back.....
posted by Mastercheddaar at 11:40 AM on December 4, 2007


Is there a word for having 1) nostalgia for something you didn't experience personally 2) nostalgia for a time/something that didn't actually exist.

Neither of these count for this post, as I lived through 90s commercials.
posted by drezdn at 11:41 AM on December 4, 2007


wow this is great. Man the memories this brings back. Ill be on here or hours!!
posted by emilbus20 at 11:45 AM on December 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


if you go to the site and watch teh right guard commercial was that Meatloaf as the bartender? I think it was hahaha
posted by emilbus20 at 11:50 AM on December 4, 2007


Is there a word for having 1) nostalgia for something you didn't experience personally 2) nostalgia for a time/something that didn't actually exist.

Sort of.
posted by dersins at 11:52 AM on December 4, 2007


Wow....the Singing Pills PSA was the source of some running joke between me and a friend in high school, except now I can't remember what the joke was :(

and Karmakaze, I, um, remembered all the words too...
posted by DiscourseMarker at 11:55 AM on December 4, 2007


Ahhhhhh, T.V. memories.

It's sad that T.V. has become the primary means for reliving our youth. Even sadder that we 'cherish' the ads that brainwashed us in to thinking that Fruity Pebbles were delicious and/or part of a complete healthy breakfast.

I'm kind of glad that the site wouldn't work for me. I'll go back to admiring my myself at a distance now.
posted by willie11 at 11:57 AM on December 4, 2007


OK, here is where I ask if anyone else in the world remembers the (possibly local to Boston) PSA about an "alien from Mars" who only eats candy bars, but when presented with a few pieces of fruit (in a cardboard model of an Apollo re-entry capsule) declares it "delicious and not bad". Anyone?

I remember a man from Mars who stopped eating cars and eating bars, and now he only eats guitars. You think it's the same guy?
posted by box at 11:58 AM on December 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


As you might guess from the title of this post, it was actually the singing pills that led me to discover retrostatic. Because I hadn't seen those pills in 20 years, I randomly decided to search youtube for "we're not candy." I found this clip, which had the retrostatic logo on it.
posted by dersins at 12:01 PM on December 4, 2007


I am disappointed to report that the users are losers PSA they have on file is not the one I was in, so you will not be seeing a chubby 4th grade absalom dancing awkwardly next to a piano in a middle of a field. (And then punching some kid during the group wide-shot.)
posted by absalom at 12:09 PM on December 4, 2007


1) nostalgia for something you didn't experience personally

Often this is called "being a goddam poser", though the fairness of that application varies from case to case.
posted by cortex at 12:13 PM on December 4, 2007


Fine, I'll just come out and say it: Fuck the 80's.

Only 3 things came out of the 80's, and they are:

1. Nintendo
2. Genesis's "Land Of Confusion" song and video
3. Nerds Cereal.

Now that that's settled, I declare that every time someone brings up how awesome the 80's were, they're legally required to discuss one of the following: AIDS, The Cold War, Regeanomics, Cocaine addiction or Anti-Japanese Xenophobia. This will hopefully break the "yo you remember that show that was awesome yo you remember that--" noise loop at whichever office/party/grouping of 2 or more people, and an akward silence will force all parties into avenues of conversation that don't rely on shit that we liked when we were kids.

Furthermore, I don't want to see any more kids born AFTER the 80's ENDED wearing retro t-shirts. Nice track jacket pal, there's no possible way you have ever watched Thundercats and liked it for what it was. It's ok, I thought it kinda sucked too when it was actually on television.

As for the 90's;

All I have to say is, when did the cool, older gang from the McDonalds commercials turn into little kids?

I'm only 26 for godsake!
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 12:14 PM on December 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


I really can't get my head around this whole 90s-as-retro thing.

I don't get it either--the 90s were less than 10 years ago.


Here's my unofficial metric (based largely on radio formats & playlists):
retro = approx 10-15 years ago
oldie (also sometimes "classic") = approx 20-35 or 40 years ago
nostalgia = 50-60 years ago
60+ years ago = dead (as far as marketers are concerned)

I was very depressed when I saw music I remember from middle school & high school showing up on oldies radio stations, so if you're still only retro, celebrate your youth!
posted by DiscourseMarker at 12:17 PM on December 4, 2007


retro = crap with a patina.
posted by Wolfdog at 12:22 PM on December 4, 2007


Rock Steady: I'm Lars, from Mars, and I eat all kinds of candy bars!

I have a vague memory of another PSA of the same era that featured kids square dancing with their trays full of cafeteria food.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 1:00 PM on December 4, 2007


That's some candy!
posted by Nathanial Hörnblowér at 1:13 PM on December 4, 2007


It's the gum commercials that haunt me to this day. Damn those catchy jingles.
posted by cj_ at 1:18 PM on December 4, 2007


Fuck the 80's.

Do you like Huey Lewis and The News?
posted by jquinby at 1:36 PM on December 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


...if anyone else in the world remembers the (possibly local to Boston) PSA about an "alien from Mars" who only eats candy bars, but when presented with a few pieces of fruit (in a cardboard model of an Apollo re-entry capsule) declares it "delicious and not bad". Anyone?

I grew up near Boston, and this PSA is lodged firmly in my memory, next to the one from the NE Aquarium ( "I can walk like a penguin!") and the Museum of Science (boy in Apollo capsule saying, "What makes an ocean wave wave?").

The Alien PSA was pretty psychedelic -- like Star Wars on the set of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. I think the key phrase you're trying to remember is "Yummy and not bad" -- googling this turns up all kinds of results.

Someone was looking for it on Youtube (in the thread of another memorable PSA featuring the Abominable Snowman in a cafeteria) and a reader recalled the monolog:
"Greetings earthlings, I'm from Mars, and I eat all kinds of candy bars! ...What is this? Some earth fruit? Mmm it's good. It's better than good, it's yummy and not bad. ...Wait til I tell the other Martians about this! By only eating candy bars they don't know what they've missed!"
Some more searching unearthed the protanonist's name, Robolad -- and, at last, a link.
posted by borborygmi at 1:38 PM on December 4, 2007 [6 favorites]


The only martian-type PSA I can think of is the Barenaked Ladies' Ballad of Gordon.
posted by absalom at 1:41 PM on December 4, 2007


OH, and now that I'm home, here's that PSA. Not as fat as I remember.
posted by absalom at 1:44 PM on December 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wow borborygmi, thank you for that link. That PSA was even weirder than I remembered!!
posted by inky at 3:25 PM on December 4, 2007


Also search for "time for timer" on youtube. Watching these videos 20 years after I saw them in person as a teen is trippy as hell.
posted by Lectrick at 3:37 PM on December 4, 2007


borborygmi wins the Internet. "Yummy" was indeed my problem. The NE Aquarium and Museum of Science ads are so burned into deep places of my memory it is almost visceral to seem them again. My wife once did an internship at the Museum of Science. She got pretty sick of me asking her what makes an ocean wave wave everyday after work. Also, I just now realized that both girls are named Karen for some reason.

But the Robolar YouTube link... I can't even tell you how much that means to me. I have been searching, on and off, for 4 or 5 years for that clip, or even evidence on the Internet that it existed. Thank you.
posted by Rock Steady at 3:42 PM on December 4, 2007


Some standouts....

The intro to the original Pound Puppies cartoon is awesome! This, if I remember right, is actually the intro to an animated special. It then got made into a series that was nowhere near as cool as this snappy, Stalag 17-ish intro. Why can't kids cartoons be this stylish all the time?

Considerably less awesome, yet interesting for its sheer bizarreness is Pandamonium, about a couple of American kids and three pandas who save the world from a cosmic menace. This one's very early 80s, and I don't think any episodes of the show survive. In the show, the three pandas... merge to form some kind of bizarre evil-scattering creature. Very creepy thing to show to little kids....

Ack, it's the intro to the Punky Brewster cartoon! Listen to the singers on this one. Kinda destroys my faith in humanity to know that people can be paid to sing with such feeling about a crappy cartoon show based off a cloying sitcom.

Singing with considerably less fervor are the guys they got to sing the theme song for Rubik The Amazing Cube. Notice, by the way, ethnicity of the protagonist kids and the singers. I don't know what it was about Rubik's Cubes that screams out "Latino demographic" (the cube's creator was Hungarian) but the show certainly carried it as far as it could.

For double-extra nostalgia, how about the intro to the Q*Bert segment from Saturday Supercade?

And then, of course, there's Turbo Teen.
posted by JHarris at 6:13 PM on December 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


No paper blob commercial? That makes me sad.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:18 PM on December 4, 2007


Is there a word for having 1) nostalgia for something you didn't experience personally 2) nostalgia for a time/something that didn't actually exist.

I actually feel this very strongly for the late 1950's and early 1960's lately, despite being born just after that period. I'm not sure what it is, other than just getting old and weird. The recent Mad Men series on whatever cable network it was on (how should I know, I torrent) hit a very pleasantly ticklish mental spot for me.

Often this is called "being a goddam poser", though the fairness of that application varies from case to case.

Those are judiciously-qualified fightin' words that possibly, depending on a number of factors, might get you a punch in the schnoz, you somewhat-younger-than-me whippersnapper, you.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:46 PM on December 4, 2007


Ah, but by being somewhat younger than you I am automatically included in a group that is at higher overall risk for said poserness, having not been around for a greater proportion of the things up for nostalgiana.

Grandpa.
posted by cortex at 9:03 PM on December 4, 2007


Unable to get DNS for the featured link. My favorite 90's commercials were for the Minnesota lottery, especially the one with the frozen vegetable patch, but the bunch were truly wonderful, poking fun at Minnesotans and their weather.
posted by Goofyy at 12:08 AM on December 5, 2007


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