Monthly Archives: February 2012

Izzy

Don't hate me cause I'm different.

You may notice that my blog’s header has five characters that I haven’t reviewed yet. So if you were curious when I was going to review any of them, say no more. For the next four weeks I’ll be reviewing all five of them. I’ve been meaning to do so before I have 100 articles in total. For this week I decided to do an article on Izzy first, cause the commercials for him are hard to come by compared to the other four mascots. I was bound to do an olympics mascot eventually, out of all of them I’ve known or discovered, Izzy was the most memorable. Mainly cause I actually remember TV ads on him when the 1996 Olympics occurred, around the same time I learn what the olympics actually were. So let’s talk about the back story and life of Izzy.

Live from Barcelona!

Introducing the Whatzit!

"No nostrals, how do you smell?"

Izzy was the very first Olympic mascot to not resemble any living creature as pos to the previous ones resembling recognizable animals. Instead Izzy was categorized as a “Whatzit” a creature who is passionate about sports and can morph into any object like it was Great Britain/Cyborg 007 from “Cyborg 009”. Also know for being the first olympic mascot created off of a computer, back when computer animation was experimental and expensive. His origin dates back to 1991, when the Atlanta committee for the Olympic Games or ACOG for short began their own mascot search. A competition of 20 design firms as well as suggestions from the public was in progress until the committee found a likable drawing. The illustration was titled “The Whatzit” created by John Ryan, a senior animation director of Atlanta-based design firm DESIGNefx. The Whatzit originally resembled a blue tear-shaped blob with rings around his eyes and tail. Wore high top sneakers and had star-shaped pupils(kinda like the appearance of the farmers and dogs who ate Mr. Fox’s blue berries with sleeping powder). The Whatzit also originally consisted short limbs and a toothy smile. Since the Olympic Mascots all need to look fit and athletic, the Whatzit received longer limbs.

Izzy Does What Izzy Don't

The cartoon TV special

Now you're playing with Power! Olympic Power!

The Whatzit made his first appearance to the world during the closing ceremonies of the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics. First appearing as a CG character on the stadium screen, then appears out on the field as a costumed mascot dancing with all of the other closing ceremony performers. The character received critical reception from kids rather than the adults. So the Atlanta Committee did further alterations to the character and gave him a name which was Izzy. As well as fund an animated TV special in 1995 titled “Izzy’s Quest For Olympic Gold” to both promote and expand his back story to the public. The special aired on TNT(same network that aired Rudy & Gogo) back in 1995 produced by the Film Roman company(producers of all the original 2D Garfield cartoons, Bobby’s World, C Bear & Jamal, Mighty Max, The Critic, Simpsons, Animated Mask, Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat, 90s Baby Huey, Mr. Potato Head Show, Mother Goose & Grimm, Bruno the Kid(Bruce Willis voicing a kid), & the recent Beavis & Butthead episodes). So as you can see the Atlanta Committee picked the right company to fund their project. While that wasn’t enough they even funded a video game with a similar title “Izzy’s Quest For Olympic Rings” within the same year. Made for both the Super NES & Sega Genesis, the game for both are common to find off of various online auctions and used game stores.

Prototype Izzy

Proof he has toes

You're next Forest Gump!

Once the Olympics started, the character was already a sensation to the public. Merchandise off all kinds were made for Izzy including plushies, pins, buttons, lighters, silverware, key chains, pens, & pogs(which ended up being a popular article on this blog). Sponsors for Izzy included Coke, Hi-C, AT&T, Bausch & Lomb, Sea World, BellSouth, Busch Gardens, Blue Cross, Delta Airlines, Hanes, John Hancock Insurance, Lucent Technologies, Nations Bank, Texaco, UPS, Xerox, & Kodak. In today’s standards that’s a lot of sponsorship just for a single character during one period. In today’s standards not that many companies would sponsor a single mascot at once unless they have the money for it. Which sadly today the economy is worse than it was back in 1996. The only sponsor I recalled Izzy being part of was General Mills which they show a commercial of Lucky the Leprechaun competing against Izzy in various obstacles. That was the only Izzy commercial I remembered as a kid, but it wasn’t hard to know Izzy cause he was everywhere in America back in 1996. Talk to a kid my age, and they might of known him thanks to the games, cartoon, or merchandise.

Wonder if he'll join the Blue Meanies.

One of the best pins not released to the public.

Wonder if the Cheat could tell me who did his wardrobe?

After the 1996 Olympics, Izzy lost his crowd after the games concluded. There were many attempts to keep Izzy popular, including updating his look and promoting him with his own roller coaster at Busch Gardens Williamsburg(The name Izzy is no longer displayed on the ride). But like most of the other Olympic mascots, once they’re used they’re not used again. The character would later be referenced in a Homestar Runner cartoon where the Cheat dresses up as Izzy for the 2003 Halloween special. Mainly cause Mike Chapman was a staff member in charge of the lighting for the Australian telecasts of the game. Despite the character was short live, it will always be a favorite to those who loved an athlete whatzit. Merchandise of Izzy can be found on all sorts of auctions. Including the hundreds of types of pins being most hunted collector’s items for serious collectors. For more info on the pins see the fan site below. I haven’t done a Burger King article yet, so for next week I’ll talk about the very first Burger King from the 1960s. Until then, enjoy whatever media I could find on Izzy below.

Izzy's parents

Other Whatzits

Whatzit Elders

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Izzy_(mascot)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0282624/ – info on the TV Special

http://www.izzypins.com/index.php – By a devoted fan

http://www.awn.com/mag/issue1.4/articles/kowalskizzy1.4.html

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Final Fantasy III Casting Office

Come for the auditions if you dare.

After various searches on the internet, I finally found this commercial that was previously an unknown game advertisement. For this week I like to discuss one of the most memorable commercials of my childhood which is the Final Fantasy III Casting Office Commercial. A commercial I haven’t seen since over 17 years ago! Over the years, I would only remember the commercial but not the name of the game. So it was hard to know exactly what commercial it was without knowing the game it advertised. To this day I never knew it was a Final Fantasy related commercial. Though I should have tried looking up all of the Final Fantasy commercials of the 90s cause I did remember the character in the commercial looking like a Moogle. So with that being said, on with the description of the commercial advertising Final Fantasy 3(Also known as Final Fantasy 6 in Japan).

Oooh, scary.

Yes!

Cast me, I'm mobile.

The commercial starts off outside of an office that has a sign displaying “Final Fantasy 3 Casting”. A shadowy figure approaches the door and knocks it down. The one running he auditions is none other than a Moggle who instead of being afraid of the monster, he tells it to show him what it has to offer. The monster gives out a loud roar, but the Moggle wasn’t amazed and zaps the monster with his lightning attack. The Moggle shouts out next, and next came a four-legged monster with wheels for feet(excuse me if I don’t know the names of any of these creatures of the game). The monster rolls into the office, but the Moggle zaps the monster like the previous one upon saying “Yes!” and there’s nothing left of the creature than a pile of dust and one of its legs. The Moggle once again shouts out “Next!” and is greeted by a glowing green phantom which the Moggle smiles and replies “Oooh, scary”. It was expected to see the Moggle cast this creature only to see him zap the phantom which vaporizes it out of existence. For the finale we see a montage of the Moggle shouting next and zapping every single monster that enters the office. We then see a broom sweeping dust under a game box of Final Fantasy 3 with the announcer saying “Final Fantasy 3, do you have what it takes?”. Then we immediately see the Squaresoft logo with the announcer saying “Final Fantasy 3 from Squaresoft”(in case no one knew that was the company that did the games I guess). The last second of the commercial shows a cautious monster peeking behind the door hearing the Moogle shouting next. But the monster stayed where he is frozen with his eye widen in terror.

Cast Me Cast Me!

Cast me, I'm hideous.

I was a reject for the Xenomorph films.

Before ever knowing that this commercial was for Final Fantasy 3, I used to think it was a game about a monster exterminating critter. Which was how I always describe this game to people, but no one would know what I’m talking about. I knew I wasn’t imagining it cause I remember the ad as clear as day. To remember the commercial’s contents and not the game’s name proves how memorable the ad was to me. While I haven’t played all of the Final Fantasy games, I do find the franchise interesting though. I only recalled playing Final Fantasy 7, Kingdom Hearts 1 & 2 entirely, while all the other Final Fantasy related games I’ve played either partly or only seen gameplay footage.

Get the janitor on the double.

Another one bites the dust.

Next

So let’s talk about the commercial itself. Like any american commercial for a Japanese video game, it would either stay true to the content or feature something not from the game. Though usually commercials featuring something not from the game are the best ones. In this ad’s case it’s a Moogle with a casting director’s job. I love how this commercial uses stop motion animation and a hint of 2-D animation to give it a charmy yet humorous look to it. Plus you gotta love the voice given to the Moggle which is completely opposite from what you’d expect a Moogle to sound like, but since this commercial is related to show biz, it fits in with the situation. Not to mention this ad reminds us of how the numbering system for Final Fantasy in America used to be completely off. The first three games released in America were in fact Final Fantasy 1, 4, & 6 were released as 1,2, & 3. This created a confusion where Final Fantasy 7 was released as its own original title making people think that 4,5 & 6 were unreleased when they’ve actually played 4 & 6 as different titles. Even the Angry Video Game Nerd complain about this dumb decision to retitle the games. But luckily the future titles of Final Fantasy retain their original titles upon release in America.

To answer your question, no this isn't The Comedian's badge.

"Next!" "oh, crap!"

"ROAR!" "Yeah right!"

That’s about all there is to say about this commercial, the next time I do another article on a Final Fantasy commercial I hope to have played more of them by then. For next week I’ll do an article on one of the five characters you see on my header that I haven’t done reviews on yet. I’m sure you already guess who they are just by excluding the ones I’ve already reviewed.

What it looked like in Japan.

Sith Powers!

Do you have what it takes?

Mr. Cow, Mr. Fox, & Mr. Turtle

The animals the kid asked before Mr. Owl.

To answer your question, yes that is the same kid who’s curious about how many licks it takes to get to the center of the Tootsie pop. As for this week I like to discuss the original version of the first “How Many Licks to the center of the Tootsie Pop” commercial with the characters you might not know about. Originally this was a 60 second commercial when it first aired in 1970. And to this day it was one of the fewest commercials to air on TV for the longest period of time. Not to mention Mr. Owl became the mascot for Tootsie Roll Industries right after this commercial was shown to the public. Since he’s really popular, I won’t be doing an article on him since he’s far from being forgotten. Instead I like to discuss the first three animals of the commercial, cause I feel someone should shed some light on them and that someone is me.

The original "Yes" man.

The 80's Dr. Doom.

Joddie Foster's brother.

Anyways let me write-up the summary of the complete version of this commercial. The commercial starts with the kid who is voiced by Buddy Foster who is known to be Jodie Foster’s Middle Brother, but unlike his sister, Buddy hasn’t done any acting since 1980. Anyways the kid asks Mr. Cow(who is voiced by Frank Nelson regular guest star on I Love Lucy) how many licks it takes to get to the center. Mr. Cow then replies “I don’t know, I always end up biting. Ask Mr. Fox, for he’s much cleverer than I.” The Kid goes to see Mr. Fox who is sitting on a boulder. The kid asks Mr. Fox the same question, but the fox replies with the voice of Paul Frees(Boris himself), “Why don’t you ask Mr. Turtle, for he’s been around a lot longer than I! Me, heheh, I bite!” So the kids goes to Mr. Turtle and once again asks him the same question, and to end up hearing the turtle voiced by Ralph James(80s Dr. Doom), “I’ve never even made it without biting. Ask Mr. Owl, for he is the wisest of us all.” So here we are in the famous location with the famous question that is about to be said by the kid, “Mr. Owl, how many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop!?” The owl voiced by Paul Winchell(Dick Dastardly himself) replies “A good question. Let’s find out.(he grabs the lollipop and starts to count after each lick) A One… A two-HOO… A tha-three..” but instead of actually getting to the center by licking the owl eats the candy along with the Tootsie roll center. He hands the stick that used to have the candy on the top back to the kid and tells him that the answer to his question is “A Three!” The kid feeling disappointed that he went through all the trouble of asking various animals only to end up having his Tootsie Pop eaten without know how many licks it would take to get to the center. He leaves and says to himself “If there’s anything I can’t stand, it’s a smart owl.” The commercial concludes with a shot of several different flavors of Tootsie Pops dissolve until the Tootsie Roll centers are the only thing left. As we watch this scene we hear Herschel Bernardi as the Narrator “How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?”. Then the commercial ends with a close up of a wrapped Tootsie Roll with the Narrator saying “The world may never know” for an answer.

The other Man of a Thousand voices.

Over the decades this commercial along with remakes and spin-offs dedicated towards it have change the way we see Tootsie Pops for a life time. There were tons of spoofs and parodies on this commercial, the one that always sticks out in my head would be the one short skit on Johnny Bravo that’s titled “Ask Mr. Bravo”. The original commercial has in the past either been altered or shorten during its airings on TV. There’s a total of three versions that differ from the original. The first one is similar to the 60 second one except the ending had Mr. Owl returning the spent candy stick, and the boy’s final line is replaced with a reaction shot and a beat of silence. The second version was shortened to 30 seconds long which starts with the kid asking Mr. Turtle with the absence of Mr. Cow & Mr. Fox. This version is the commercial I always remembered seeing a kid, as it did air on TV numerous times during the 90s. The final version was 15 seconds long and only shows the scene with Mr. Owl and no Mr. Turtle in sight. The only thing that was altered in this version was that Herschel Bernardi’s voice as the Narrator was replaced with Frank Leslie instead.

Despite the commercial implies that the world may never know the answer to the number of licks to the center of the Tootsie Pop, various university and college students have taken the challenge to finally know the actual number it takes to get to the center. However the results from each organization vary in different conclusions. The number went from 144-3,481 licks to get to the center of the Tootsie Pop. Why were all of the results different when it was tested on the same candy product? I’m guessing it involved different licking techniques that lead to various totals. So it’s up to you what the official number is for getting to the center of the Tootsie Pop. In conclusion, I present to you the original commercial itself. For next week I decided to do another video game commercial, one which I haven’t seen in 17 years.

Here he is in color.

The scene you're all familiar with.

He did the voice of a giant and a tuna fish.

The Pro 200

Biggest mistake in video game history.

As you all know I’m a big time video game fan, so today I like to talk about an advertisement that tried to give video games a bad name. And just for starters, if you found this product to be a waste of money trust me you’re not the only one who felt that way when this product was brand new. So after hunting down this commercial on youtube, I re-discovered its name cause it was so forgettable that its name was hard to remember. With no further interruptions, for this week I’ll be talking about the Pro 200.

Um, you kids know there's better video games out there.

So fascinating that they don't bother to show you the footage.

Tetris, just a sample of the 200 games featured.

Back in 1998, a commercial started to air on various TV networks across the nation. We are introduced by a boy asking a girl what she’s doing. She tells the boy that she’s playing a handheld game with over 200 games. The boy was astonished that such a handheld game had the many and replied “woah over 200 games”. Then the announcer immediately says “That’s right over 200 games!” We’re then introduced to what the Pro 200 has to offer. The announcer claims it’s the greatest bargaining handheld game of all time. Complete with 15 skill levels per game and over 2000 ways to play. Costing at only $19.98 and states it’s like paying less than a dime per game. To only name a few games it had to offer it has “Space War”, “Ping Pong”, “Race Car”, & “Shooting Attack”(I know, but I wasn’t the guy who came up with that title). The announcer then tells us the handheld game has computer chip technology that replaces the games you play forever. Then shows footage of an unseen person throwing a Street Fighter 2 Super NES in the trash can like it was a crumpled piece of paper. Because the announcer claims that buying new games are expensive and a handheld game with 200 games can solve the problem. He then mentions that the Pro 200 is a full function calculator as if the 200 games weren’t enough it even saves money on calculators. The commercial concludes with the announcer saying it’s not available in any stores(yeah cause video game stores would just use them as door stops) and provides you with a number to call and order with shipping and handling.

The chips inside the Pro 200 is no different than what a calculator has.

Common sense, good games don't ever cost 10 cents.

So this gamer prefers tetris blocks over Chun-Li.

With the summary done I like to talk about my comments on the product. While never actually playing this thing, I like any average gamer can tell that it’s an utter insult to the gaming industry. I mean look at the commercial for yourself and you can tell they spend more time talking about what it does rather than spending time showing what the graphics look like. Cause the graphics are actually simple block shapes, and the only game to be displayed was Tetris. Which is what Pro 200 really is just Tetris blocks used for game play in 200 different ways. Plus the narrator claimed it’ll replace the games you’re currently playing forever, if that were true then Nintendo, Sega, and many other game companies would already have been bankrupt right now. Plus I doubt anyone would have fun playing the same 200 games over and over again. Unless that person was on a deserted island, lives in a developing country, has never played a video game before, or is an asylum patient. The Pro 200 is no different from those old handheld electronic games my grandparents own. It makes those Tiger Electronic Games look like a Nintendo 3DS. I for one never got tricked by this commercial as I knew the games I played as a kid weren’t a waste of money, when A.) a Gameboy had 810 game cartridges to choose from & B.) tiny pixels that form the images of characters and backgrounds is way better than the same old tetris blocks trying to look like a character or background.

Wait a sec, this ain't the Jungle Book!

The Mouse - "Please, please, don't play this game!"

Actual screenshot of Son of Lion King game.

So luckily this product never catch on, and it’s likely the ProTech company that made these relics has gone bankrupt. I have no information if ProTech exist anymore, but if they were as lucky as Phoenix Games that would be amazing. Cause for a company to create a handheld game system that has the purpose of replacing everything we play as a video game is just a way for a company to dig its own grave. In this day and age, it’s likely you’ll find a Pro 200 at certain auctions. But not an item worth hunting down unless you’re despret to play those 200 games. And in case you were wondering Phoenix Games is a name of a European video game company known for making “story book” video games. I wouldn’t consider them actual games cause you’re basically watching knock offs from various Disney & Don Bluth films. Anyways that wraps up the topic and now on with the commercial itself.

Sebastian Cabot is already rolling in his own grave.

Might as well rip-off all of the jungle related Disney films.

We're not the Goofy Gophers.

Luigi & the Sewer Critters

Maaweeo where aaare you!

I’ve previously said I’d do an article on an advertisement that advertises a video game and no product placement at all. So I decided to do one that advertises the Atari version of Mario Bros., not “Super” Mario Bros. but the predeccor that was made two years before the more popular one. Similar to how some people get Metal Gear & Metal Gear Solid mixed up. Only difference is Metal Gear orignal was for the MSX and uses 8-bit graphics. While Metal Gear Solid was for PS1 and uses polygonic graphics and voice acting. Mario Bros. isn’t that bad of a game to play it’s just it’s been less parodied in multimedia compared to the parodies Super Mario Bros. receive. Despite how Super Mario Bros. has the elements that were borrowed from Mario Bros., except in this game there’s fewer types of enemies and you’re in a sewer compared to multiple locations and dozens of enemies. Anyways despite some claims Mario Bros. was the actual first appearance of Luigi not Super Mario Bros. Also the first game to feature Mario as a plumber and not a carpenter as depicted in Donkey Kong.

There must of been a mutagen spill down here.

I'm no ninja pal!

Holy Crap it's Sebastian's bigger brother!

Now on with the commercial, we start with a catching melody played throughout the whole commercial. Luigi is seen doing some plumbing in a sewer by first opening up a hatch to find out what caused the clog up in the pipe. Only to discover it was a giant turtle causing the clog up, and if that’s not enough Luigi encounters giant crabs that are bigger than the biggest crab in the world and giant fireflies. Luigi is spooked by the sight of these creatures which all of them try to attack but keep fleeing from his ultimate doom. When all of the creatures gang up on him he shouts out “MAAWEEO WHERE AAARE YOU!?!”. We then see footage of the game itself with the announcer telling the viewers about the game and stating that the game is more fun if you have a friend along as the second player. Which then shows Luigi still having trouble escaping the wrath of the creatures with no Mario in sight. The commercial ends with a pair of giant crab claws holding two different art boxes of the game. We last see Luigi holding up a white flag in hope it’ll work, assuming it did as he notices the creatures cease their attack so he goes back to his plumbing.

Crab meat not included.

What did I do to deserve this!?

I'll be in my own game someday, you'll see!

My comments on this commercial, it was highly entertaining and represent just a fraction of how video game commercials had gimmicks like these back in the 80s. One thing i should point out is that this was made back when advertisement film crews aren’t given any blueprints on how the characters of the game should look like. This is a common thing to notice back then as there are other video game commercials that have characters that look nothing like they do in the game(which I’ll do more articles on those later on). Note how Luigi in this commercial looks nothing like he does in the video games. Course just look at the artwork yourself and notice how Luigi wears green overalls/hat and a red shirt rather than blue overalls and green shirt/hat like today. To me he looks like Captain Lou Albano as Mario, but also looks like someone who doesn’t know who Luigi is, but decided to look like an Italian New Yorker Plumber for the commercial. Not to mention the sewer set used in this commercial looks similar to the Mario Bros. apartment basement office/home in the Super Mario Bros. Super Show. As in the live action segments that shows Danny Wells as Luigi & Lou Albano(may he rest in peace) as Mario having misadventures at their home in Brooklyn where their basement office is the only location in these segments and the cheap special effects are interesting mixed with a new celebrity in almost every episode. The puppet critters in this commercial do resemble the ones from the game, i give them credit for that as they’re the only enemies you’ll find in the game. The puppets are similar to the Ratagator who sometimes appears on the Super Show series along with other unusual mutants or monsters like Edison who works out the electricity for the Mario Bros. or is sometimes playing chess with Luigi.

Why're you just looking, just grab that crab for crying out loud!

Edison, just make your move already!

Do the Mario!

Never the less, this is a true gem for its time, and advertises one of the last Mario related games that started off as an arcade game then released as a cartridge game.  Years later the idea of this game would be used for “Mario Clash” released for the short-lived Virtual Boy system. While the atmosphere of the game would re-surface in “Super Smash Bros. Brawl”.  In closing, I like to present to you the very commercial itself for all of you to witness for yourselves. If you remember seeing this on TV as a kid, then prepare to revisit memory lane.