Wednesday, March 28, 2007

RETRO TOY FLASHBACK # 56: Buena Vista Read Along Adventures.


Ah yes, another relic of a bygone age of toys (namely the 1970s and 1980s).

Almost two decades ago, well before DVD players (and in the era of VCRs...), another way for fans to experience the glory of their favorite sf movie (like Star Wars or Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan) involved the exciting technology of...cassettes. Perfect for Borat in Khazikstan today...

What's a cassette? Oh come on, you know! Search your memories....before CDs...after eight-tracks...you know! Anyway, Buena Vista Records manufactured a number of "Read-Along Adventures" for the young ones. These were cassettes that narrated an adventure while the youngling could read along in a 24-page book. "SEE the pictures. HEAR the tape. READ the book," read the material on the back cover of each 24-page book.

Also, Buena Vista noted, you could "give your child a head start in learning to read" with this "24-page book" "filled with full-color illustrations and a high quality read-along cassette." What could be more fun that? Besides DVDs and X-Box, of course...

The back cover also noted that each book features "word-for-word story narration, dramatic character dialogue, authentic sound effects and musical backgrounds." Neat.

In its day, the company released a variety of Star Wars books (Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Planet of the Hoojibs, Droid World, The Ewoks Join the FIght) and didn't slight Star Trek either, making books based on The Motion Picture, The Wrath of Khan and The Search For Spock.

Other titles included Gremlins, The Dark Crystal, E.T. and The Black Stallion. One of my favorites was The Last Starfighter.

A thrill of these "book and cassette" combos was that in some cases (Star Trek and The Last Starfighter, for instance), the books utilized photographs from the actual productions rather than illustrations. This often meant you'd see images that weren't very common; or even better - had been deleted from the film. For instance, there's an interesting view of the U.S.S. Enterprise reckoning with the V'Ger cloud in The Motion Picture edition. And personally, in regards to The Last Starfighter, I can simply never see enough of Catherine Mary Stewart.

As the interior of each book implored on the first page, "LET'S BEGIN NOW!" Really, was there ever a better time to be a kid than the 1970s and 1980s? I guess, cuz now kids have the Internet too. But forgive me for being nostalgic, all right?

2 comments:

  1. Michael De Luca12:57 AM

    You will know it is time to turn the page when you hear the chimes ring like this...As a small child the image of Decker and Illia joining V'Ger repeatedly blew my mind.

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  2. All the ones I had actually came with a little mini vinyl record. The Star Wars movies are vivid in my mind because they had R2-D2 beeping instead of the chimes to turn the page. I also had the Black Hole. The funniest I remember was a complete walkthrough of The Haunted Mansion from Disneyland read by Mr. Paul Frees himself.

    I love the internet: http://www.readalongadventures.com/

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