[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Sega Interactive Comics

June 1st, 2015 by Benj Edwards

Sega Interactive Comics Sega Electronic Comics Batman Popular Science What's New - April 1995WHAM! POW! ZAP!

I've been intrigued by this Sega Electronic Comics System prototype since I first saw it in Popular Science's What's New section back in April 1995. Here is an excerpt from that very magazine.

As far as I know, this device never made it into production — in fact, the only mention I can find of it on the Internet as of this writing is this post on the Collectors Society forums.

Apparently, the Sega Electronic Comics device worked in conjunction with a tailor-made paper comic book that one would place onto the device. A series of pressure-sensitive buttons beneath the comic book could be pressed to somehow direct the narrative of the book. (Perhaps like Choose Your Own Adventure — i.e. if you do this, turn to page 3.)

This reminds me of the comic book device Tom Hanks' character outlines in the film Big (1988), albeit without any type of electronic screen. The crazy thing is that 15 years after this Sega Prototype, you could buy an iPad that could store and display thousands of entirely digital comics in a much thinner form factor.

[ From Popular Science, April 1995, p.11]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Do you use an electronic device to read comic books? Tell us about it.

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The Glorious, Colorful World of Radio Shack Toy and Game Box Art

February 6th, 2015 by Benj Edwards

Old Radio Shack LogoAfter 94 years in business, it is likely that Radio Shack will soon be no more. And sadly, it has taken the impending death of Radio Shack for me to realize how absolutely ingrained its products have been in my life.

As the son of an electronics engineer living in the US, our home growing up held at least five Radio Shack products per room (or those of its related brands: Tandy, Realistic, Optimus, Archer, or Micronta).

I am not joking or exaggerating. I could go through my parents' house today and fill a moving van with that stuff: speakers, tapes, radios, hi-fi receivers, turntables, headphones, microphones, clocks, intercoms, outlet timers, telephones, cables, wires, adapters and more.

It's almost absurd. My first IBM compatible PC was a Tandy 1800HD laptop. My first cassette recorder, microphone, telephone, cordless telephone all came from Radio Shack. My first kiss…well, a Radio Shack robot, of course.

And who can forget the batteries. The batteries!

Radio Shack LCD Football GameAbove and beyond all that were the games, the toys, the amusements. The Armatrons and Cosmic Fire Away 1000s. Pocket Blackjack, electronic chess, Pocket Repeat, RC cars, tiny kid DJ stations, microphone FM transmitters, electronic coin banks, joysticks, talking alarm clocks (Dare I add the Tandy 1000 series and the TRS-80 Color Computer). The list is endless, I tell you.

In honor of the foundering electronics retailer, I pulled together a slightly massive collection of Radio Shack toy and game box art from the late 1960s up to the early 2000s. For good measure, I threw in a handful of non-toy product boxes as well (such as one for a Zack Morris-sized cell phone and a pocket TV set).

As you look through them below, I have but one question to ask:

How many of these have you owned or played?

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] My Robot Watch

September 12th, 2011 by Benj Edwards

Benj's Dirty Transforming Takara Kronoform Robot Watch - circa early 1980sIt's like a Transformer on your wrist.

I don't remember where this watch came from. Maybe my parents bought it for my brother before me. Maybe I begged for it when I saw it at a local Revco drug store (as I did with many toys back then). What I do know is that I played with it as a three-year-old kid, and I was completely distraught when I lost part of it in my back yard.

You see, this digital watch isn't just a watch — it's a transforming humanoid robot. The center piece detaches from the wrist strap and unfolds into a tiny robot man. It was first sold in 1984 by Takara, the company responsible for originating the popular Transformers toy line in Japan. At some point I lost the robot part of my watch, and I figured I would never see it again.

A few years later, my mom stepped in from the back yard and presented a dirty piece of plastic in her soil-stained hands. Joy swelled in my heart as I recognized what she had found while digging in her garden bed: my missing robot watch.

It was dirty, of course, and the clock portion no longer worked due to years of weather exposure, but I was still ecstatic. If you ever lost a favorite toy as a child, you know how painful it is. Rarely does one ever find such a missing toy again. This was the one that came back, the one small victory for lost toys everywhere. That tiny hole in my heart, the one left vacant by my missing robot buddy, had been filled.

Ironically, I probably just put the watch in a box and forgot about it. Decades passed. While looking through some childhood knickknacks recently, I found it again and thought you might enjoy the story. It still feels good to know, as I hold this toy watch in my hands, that not all things we lose are gone forever.

Discussion Topic of the Week: What's the coolest digital watch you've ever owned? Did you ever own a robot or game watch?

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