Welcome to a new segment here in Twinsanity (we told you things were starting to happen here) called Neat Stuff–where we look at toys, products, novelties and other assorted merch; not specifically animation, per se, but connected to cartoon culture or at least in a related field. On Neat Stuff we’ll be pulling out those kitschy things that make you smile and say…
Before we start, I have to give credit where credit is due: the Neat Stuff segment was the brain child of my brother Jason (Goldstar), so once again Jason has saved this blog from the abyss. Let’s give him a big hand.
Now, on with the show!
-Today’s Neat Stuff looks at Funny Face.
If you were a kid in the 60’s or 70’s, you probably know about these Technicolor Fruities. If you don’t, lend me your ears: Funny Face was a kids’ drink product introduced by Pillsbury in 1964, coming in an assortment of 6 flavors, each sporting a different kooky anthropomorphic fruit character with a catchy gimmick and correpsonding name. They were originally created by Hal Silverman at Campbell Mithun Advertising for his daughter; Silverman’s nickname for his daughter was Freckle Face, then the rest of the Funny Face characters just fell into place after that. Four of them, Goofy Grape, Rootin’ Tootin’ Raspberry, Loud Mouth Lime and Freckle Face Strawberry, were innocuously innocent enough, but the other 2, well…..
Yes, the other 2 Funny Face flavor characters were named Injun Orange and Chinese Cherry. They were funny, because they were ethnic. Hee-larious, right?
To be fair, Silverman meant no harm; remember this was 1964, and such ethnic caricatures were the norm at the time, but not surprisingly, the Native American and Asian communities weren’t too thrilled with their very cultures being characterized as shtick, so Pillsbury smartly complied and changed those characters to Jolly Olly Orange and Chinese Cherry.
There was also the matter of Funny Face’s artificial sweeteners: The company originally chose a substance called cyclamate, which was deemed dangerous by the FDA (it was discovered to have caused cancer in laboratory rats). Scientists were quoted as saying:
So after a few years, Funny Face was pulled from store shelves. After a bit of reformulation, the product returned with harmless saccharin in its place, and also offered an unsweetened version so consumers could add their sweetener of choice. Eventually, larger packages of Funny Face were made available that contained sugar.
For a while, the Funny Face crew were riding strong, even rivaling Kool-Aid in popularity for kids’ drinks. They even spawned merchandise, such as toys…
…And even storybooks.
Eventually, the Funny Face roster expanded to include such colorful personalities as Lefty Lemon…
…Captain Black Cherry…
…With-It (or Way-Out) Watermelon…
…And Rah-Rah Root Beer.
Peep out these Funny spots from the ancient 1970’s.
Well, those ads were…boring. For a product called Funny Face, you would think their ads would be, you know, funny. Those were just bland, plus it was weird seeing characters like Goofy Grape and Lefty Lemon speaking with normal voices and acting like regular folks. I expected a commercial for a product called Funny Face to be more like this:
Evidently, 70’s kids felt the same way: ultimately, Funny Face just couldn’t compete with Kool-Aid, and by the 70’s were over, so was Funny Face. Only Kool-Aid remained.
For a brief period in the 80’s Pillsbury tried launching a product called Moo Juice, but it just wasn’t the same. Recently, I came across something interesting: a series of animated shorts starring the Funny Face gang, produced by Renegade Studios.
Now, that’s more like what I would expect from a product called Funny Face. Why couldn’t the 70’s commercials have been more like that? They might still be around now.
(Sidebar: I’m guessing the writers of these weren’t too fond of With-it Watermelon; they just had him get splattered by a truck and he never turned up again. A tad harsh, I think. With-It Watermelon wasn’t that bad a character; he was definitely a better idea than Rah Rah Root Beer. He’s not even a fruit!)
I don’t know what these animated shorts were for, but who knows? Maybe Funny Face can resurface one day. There’s nothing wrong with free enterprise, and if the characters would actually be portrayed as humorous, not bland and boring like in those 70’s commercials, I’d be down.
Today’s Beyond the Background examines the saga of one of the anthropomorphic Freedom Fighters from planet Mobius.
Ah, no. Not him….
Yes, that’s right; today Beyond the Background takes a look at that kooky French palace guard coyote, Antoine D’Coolette.
Yeah, I thought Antoine was another fox at first.
Anyways, Antoine began his career in the ABC Sonic Hedgehog Saturday morning cartoon series, nicknamed Sonic SatAM by its’ fans. There, the character played a vital role in the Knothole Freedom Fighters’ operation to overthrow Dr. Robotnik and restore the planet Mobius to its’ original pristine beauty: he was the one member everyone could laugh at and look down upon, the butt of everyone’s jokes, including his own. Antoine was clumsy, cowardly, vain, braggadocious, skittish, incompetent and pompous. He typically had 2 objectives on the show:
- Trying to prove he’s better than Sonic, and failing miserably.
- Trying to get with Princess Sally, and failing miserably.
And so it went for the duration of Sonic SatAM‘s 1/12 seasons on TV. Then after the series ended and the Sonic saga continued in the comics, he initially seemed to continue in the same vein, but then something interesting happened (aside from Sally going from her strange pink palette to her original brown hue):
First, the character was redesigned; made to look less jokey and more visually appealing:
Next, he began changing internally as well as externally. A lot of this can be attributed to a confab with another Freedom Fighter, Bunnie Rabbot…
…Who told him to believe in himself and never give up, no matter what the obstacles (and trying to be pretty and flirty while simultaneously being half robot, she’d know a thing or 2 about obstacles) or how often you get roasted (never say “roasted” to an anthropomorphic animal). Taking this advice, comics Antoine began sharpening his skills and making himself a formidable warrior in his own right: maybe not the fastest thing alive, but a skilled swordsman and an active pilot, nothing to sneeze at, he also actually started displaying feats of bravery, strength and nobility. Sure, Antoine still displayed moments of skittishness and he still had the occasional habit of mangling English, and he displayed some exaggerated bravado from time to time (though mainly as a way to assure his fellows that everything was going to be OK and to psyche himself up and swallow his fear) , but no longer did Antoine routinely grace the Wall of Shame bulletin board month after month.
This chance tete-a-tete with Bunnie also led to another pivotal evolution for Monsieur D’Colette: as a result of her pep talk, the 2 of them began going on more missions together and generally spending increasingly more time together. It no longer mattered that Sally just wasn’t that into him; he eventually realized that he was getting nowhere with Sally in a hurry, but his companionship with the Bionic Bunny quickly filled that void. Antoine and Bunnie’s partnership became so close that eventually he proposed to Bunnie. Next thing you know, Boom Baby. You’re looking at Mr. and Mrs. Antoine and Bunnie Rabbot-D’Coolette. Talk about a change in character!
This rarely happens with toons. It’s rare to see a cartoon character grow and change so dramatically, and for the better, it’s even rarer to see a rejected lover character in fiction finally get the point and move on (I’m looking at you, Bling-Bling Boy from Johnny Test!), so to see a character accomplish both of these achievements deserves mention, hence this blog post.
-OK, that might be pushing it. But it’s still cool to see a former joke character come into his own.
Before I start, I’d like to once again apologize for the low output here lately. We’re not happy about it either, but we’ve been working on evolving the site in various ways (most of which we’ve already covered previously, so there’s no need to repeat ourselves) and things are indeed beginning to happen, so thanks for sticking with us during this time. OK, enough of that, on with the nonsense.
Today we’ll be looking at one of my favorite moments from Dragon Ball Z, focusing on everyone’s favorite short stack, Krillin.
In this scene, Krillin is competing in one of the many, many, many fighting Tenkaichi Budokai fighting tournaments present in the DBZ universe. Krillin is sporting hair on his head because by this time in the series, he hasn’t fought in a while and has been instead doing the family thing with his wife Android #18 and their young daughter Marron. Anyways, Krillin’s opponent is a mountainous blowhard named Pintar (a pun on pinto beans, maybe?). There is a noticeable size, height and weight difference between the two combatants, and for this reason, Pintar immediately begins relentlessly taunting Krillin for being vertically challenged. Then the match starts and this happens.
Yep, that’s right; Krillin plants one in Pintar’s bread basket, knocking the big schmo out of the ring with a single punch, thereby winning the match by a TKO.
One thing that I like about this moment is that while Pintar relentlessly taunts Krillin both before and at the start of the match, Krillin never once engages Pintar personally. We hear some of his inner thoughts, but Krillin never says a single thing directly to the guy, and as we learn later on, there was no need for him to; he let his fist do the talking for him. For all of his bluster and trash talk, Pintar never lays a finger on Krillin. The match doesn’t even last three minutes. And after he’s declared the victor, Krillin just turns and walks away, as if to say this match was just another thing that happened. Speaking as someone who is shorter than the average guy (5′, 6″, in case you were wondering), I liked seeing ol’ Krillin get a moment of superiority for a change. I’m sure that fans have different interpretations/opinions regarding this scene, but for me, this is right up there with the “Hulk owns Loki” moment in the Avengers movie. It’s just like what Buster Bunny is wont to say:
As you’ve undoubtedly noticed, we’re experiencing a bit of a down time here lately. It’s not that we’re burned out, it’s just that right now there’s not a whole lot going on in the world of animation that’s really grabbed us enough to want to blog about it. During this little sabbatical, we’ve been kicking the idea nut around and are in the process of developing possible new segments for Twinsanity.
No, this doesn’t mean that the other regular segments like Ad Nausea, Beyond the Background, The Cartoon Couch et al are done; they will continue, just at the moment we haven’t been inspired to do any new installments of them lately. The only segments we’re actively trying to avoid doing are the Highly Opinionated segments; we’re trying to move away from the ranting posts, and we’re no longer doing the 2 Funny, Toons & Tunes or musical Nerdvana segments as actual posts; they will only be used as fillers, placeholders and buffers to separate 2 installments of the same segment like they were originally intended to be.
The What the Funny and Pop Dream segments are an indicator of what to expect with the new material we’re working on: these new segments will be more reminiscent of those in that they will be more detailed and will focus on one specific subject and will extend across multiple posts as opposed to just being one-offs done in a ‘grab bag’ fashion like the Cartoon Country, The Retro Bin and the like are. At this stage I’d actually prefer doing ongoing multiple blog posts, since that will keep us working on something for a weeks, possibly months to come.
(Speaking of Pop Dream and What the Funny, there will be more of these segments; it’s just that we’ve only recently finished the first installments of those and we’d rather not start the next set so soon afterwards. We’d prefer to do something else first. Part of what makes those segments special is that you don’t see them all the time. We don’t wish to get burned out on them.)
Now, onto the new stuff currently in development. Keep in mind that all of these ideas are extremely early, and they could go through a number of changes before reaching their final forms. Also, none of these new bits are named yet; we’ll just be giving them working names for the sake of calling them something. Names are a tricky thing right now since the segments themselves are still being developed, so they too are subject to change. Also, the overall theme of Twinsanity isn’t going to change; Twinsanity’s central focus is, always was and always will be cartoons, comedy and geek culture. Got it? Good.
The first new segment I’m working on was originally going to be a Videots listing my favorite Sonic the Hedgehog Zones; I may still do that at some point, but I’ve already done a favorite stages post in early February, and as much as I enjoy doing those, I don’t want to get into a rut with them. A while later James Rolfe and Mike Mattei did a James and Mike Mondays on Knuckles Chaotix…
...So for a while I was considering doing something along those lines. Then while researching for that, I began reading up on general Sonic lore and considered doing a piece on Knothole (or a place which resembled it; which I also still may do at some stage), and that evolved into a general overview of a planet similar to Mobius. Then finally, I decided to make a series of segments set in a Utopian future. It would depict day-to-day life in an amazing, wonderful high-tech future complete with spaceships, flying cars, robots, aliens and the like. This segment will combine some elements of “Superhero City: A Visitor’s Guide” and “The Future Rocks!” and will feature places and things mentioned in both of those, but will go in greater detail and unlike “Superhero City” and “A Touch of Magix”, these entries will more closely resemble a narrative structure rather than just being travelogues and will star actual characters for the readers to experience these things through. Right now I’m calling this segment Startopia, Startropolis or Coolopolis.
I’m also working on something akin to Tony Goldmark’s State of the Parks vlogs or Allison Pregler’s Movie Nights or Bob Chipman’s G.E.M.s (Good Enough Movies), but for cartoons, cartoon episodes and possibly cartoon merch. I’d like for it to capture the essence of CN’s Cartoon Planet or The Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show, with quick jokes, bits and self-aware inanity. My big concern with this idea is that it may smack too much of Cartoon Country, so this may just become another branch or aspect of Cartoon Country, which would also be cool, since one of the goals we both have for this year is to get back into producing Cartoon Countries on a regular basis.
The final new segment I’m working on started out as a piece I had planned to do on Marvel’s Inhumans.
Two things I like about the Inhumans are 1) that they’re not superheroes, despite meeting and teaming up with them on occasion and 2) the central characters are a family. This evolved into a general ongoing segment about a quirky and kooky yet loving and functional family, something I’ve wanted to do for a while now. However, I don’t want them to just be an ordinary family; I’m not trying to do something like The Family Circus or Fox Trot, that would be boring; this family will have some kind of unique cartoon hook, gimmick or twist of some kind. Presently I’m calling this segment Family Fun, but that won’t be its’ final name.
For a little while now, I’ve been interested in Cyborcat’s recurring segments, The Game Den and The Film Den, respectively. I particularly liked how Dena split them off into two separate segments, but they’re still connected in terms of theme and approach.* Also, I’ve been watching James Rolfe’s reviews of monster movies such Godzilla and King Kong, as well as James’ two part “Power Rangers: A Noob’s Guide” video, and I’ve been thinking about doing something along those lines, only bigger and wilder, with the usual jokes and nonsense attached to them. Nothing is final as of yet, but here are some of the themes that I’m considering going with:
I thought about tackling the tropes and character archetypes of domestic comedies, similar to the Nerdvana segment, “Making Family Fun”, only more detailed and specific. Currently, I’m calling this segment The Family Factor. Also, I’ve been trying to do something with the idea of the kidcom with the sci-fi twist (which I’ve been wanting to do for a little while now), something along the lines of Wake, Rattle and Roll, Johnny Test or Out of Jimmy’s Head, only good, so this segment could possibly tie in to that idea.
The other segment was originally going to be me talking about toys based on cartoons or toy franchises, but I wasn’t coming up with a lot of ideas for this, so then I thought about just talking about merchandise based on cartoons and franchises, similar to the late TLC show (back when TLC stood for The Learning Channel) called Neat Stuff. In this form, I’ve been calling the segment The Toy Factor. One thing possibly preventing this idea is that concept-wise, it’s not far enough away from Nerdvana. Of course, any ideas for this could easily lead to more Nerdvana segments, which I wouldn’t mind at all, so I just might approach the idea this way instead of making a new segment. We’ll see.
I’d also like to do something along the lines of Doug and Rob Walker’s Sibling Rivalry/Real Thoughts segments mixed with Trent Troop and Greg Sepelak’s Under the Table podcasts mixed with The Sifl & Olly Show; quick little jokes, quips and thought bubbles about subjects that aren’t major enough to devote an entire segment to.
I also thought about focusing on the art and settings of video games, but that might be too similar to Videots. Of course, I could always do those as Videots segments. OK, so it seems evident that I don’t actually have a particular subject in mind for either of these connected segments at this time, or anything other than the desire to do them (although this may change when I find something new to “groove” on, as I mentioned back in “Twinsanity’s New Groove”). In hindsight, it’s not really me doing an entirely new segment so much as approaching the established segments in a slightly different (and better) way. In any case, if this happens at all, I want there to be 2 of these segments and both of the segments will have similar themed names, as with Cyborcat’s segments*.
*Inspired by this, we’ve decided to rename the Retro Box and Wild World of Shows segments, since they too are connected as being opposite sides of the same coin. One segment roasts past cartoons pulled out of the trash bin, while the other turns an appreciative spotlight on obscure cartoons which have fallen into the couch cushions. So henceforth The Retro Box shall be known as The Retro Bin, while the Wild World of Shows is now The Cartoon Couch. The content of each segment is still the same. ‘Kay?
In honor of President’s Day, Toons & Tunes offers up this gem from The Looney Tunes Show, starring—gasp!–loony Lola Bunny! (We like the funny version of Lola; deal with it, nerds.) Lola presents her own skewed view of history in song, along with visuals resembling those of the former Cartoon Network series MAD. Here’s “President’s Day”.