Posts Tagged ‘entertainment’

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Welcome Back Heroes!! Fans of this here little blog know that when it comes to vintage action figures we could debrief all day. I have gathered the team here today in the viewing chambers for a very niche pocket of the action figure universe known as Adventure People. Settle in Heroes..OUR Adventure begins NOW!

When you consider the fact that my childhood was defined by action figures of the 1980s you will quickly understand why today’s topic is so vital to our meeting today. Like many I was raised on the classics, Star Wars, G.I.Joe, Masters Of The Universe were among my absolute favorites. Like all great toy-lines of the day these miniatures occupied hours, days and weeks of my youth. All of my friends were onboard as well. We shared the same interest in all the aforementioned franchises all of which boasted their own motion pictures, cartoons , comic books, TV shows you name it!!

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One toy line that predated them all had no such media offspring and literally existed unearthed in several of my friends toy boxes waiting for me to discover them. As was such a story as with the 1975 Fisher Price Toy Collection The Adventure People! These particular toys as we would come to find out were soully responsible for adventures to come in distant barbaric planets, on battlefields across the world and in Galaxies Far Far Away…The very Genesis of our playtime in the 80s with action figures could not have occurred without these 3 ¾ inch trailblazers. Meet Fisher Prices Adventure People.

 

 

 

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Transmission Date: Feb 23 2019

I constantly talk about being raised in a small town with little shopping options. I think I have established that fact in my blog chronology. Whats little know is that for the first 4 years of my life I was born in a VERY small town of Harcourt NL Canada. It wasnt until I was 4 that I moved to Clarenville, NL where I would live out my childhood and have my main growing up experiences. The majority of my action figure purchases spawned from that glorious Christmas season. While I did very well over Xmas in super isolated Harcourt when I moved to Clarenville my fortunes multiplied. I remember several of my first Christmas’s at 75 Memorial Drive, one in particular my parents went shopping and not so secretly picked out many of my Christmas gifts while I was THERE!! By bringing me to a store called Lovelesses. They had a selection of everything there including a mini Toy “Department”. Exactly 4 shelves of them to be perfectly clear. As I pointed and ogled at some of these cool-ass toys in front of me I remember pointing out the Weeble Wobble Haunted House as well as The Weeble Wobble Clubhouse. Both items became childhood favorites that far outlived their expiration as being GI Joe and Star Wars play-sets long after the Weebles went to toy heaven. As a couple of side gifts I also pointed out the Fisher Price Adventure People. They were two seemingly harmless Divers in lime green swimwear. There was a guy and a girl..I thought they were cool and guess what they magically appeared under the Christmas tree on our first Christmas in our new home! Who would have guessed Santa had been blessed with clairvoyance?

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I had no idea or context at the time what these toys were. I just knew they were fun to play with in the bathtub and that’s all that mattered.As time passed and I was in primary school I happened upon a strange kid with quirky hair and a different kind of look. When I think back he resembled Carmine Infantino’s Luke Skywalker in the 70s Marvel Star Wars comic book. His name was Leslie Card. “Lezz” as we called him became fast friends with me and we hung out all the time as he lived just a two-minute walk from my house. Lezz came from a small town from the west coast of our island of Newfoundland and as a result had an assortment of “Different” toys! I had become a good enough friend that I was invited to one of his Birthday parties and it was one of the first times in his home. It was a Blackstar party and we watched a Blackstar VHS tape as the main event! How amazing is THAT!!

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After this I frequented his house especially in the summer. It was common to just hang out in his backyard and read comics in his camper that his parents had parked in the back of the house while sipping “Hires” Root Beer. As we grew tired of reading books like Royal Roy, The Amazing Spider Ham and Wally The Wizard one day we drifted inside his house to his basement. Inside its cavernous interior of his unfinished basement / laundry area I noticed a fine stash of toys in a series of storage bins. While Lezz didn’t have the socially acceptable toys of the Town of Clarenville he had something DIFFERENT!! The first thing that grabbed me was that he had Micronauts…and plenty of them!!

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Instead of He-Man toys he had Blackstar figures. There were no Go-Bots to be found but there were Shogun Warriors! This was like bizarro world for me! That being said there were a few common Star Wars toys for good measure but a few things always stood out were a fleet of vehicles…toys that I had not seen before but looked mighty cool and became playtime favorites.

Adventure People Promotional Ad

In this one box I uncovered a Sports Van, a Plane, an outdoors recreational vehicle and more. I had these to be Tonka Toys before but these were different!! These toys could fit our Star Wars figures inside them!! I had no idea what these toys were but I did note that they were very well made and colorful. We played with them all the time that summer mixing them seamlessly with our other favorite toy franchises…I would later find out that these belonged to the same family of toys as my two Divers. Remember kids these two Diver toys in particular would become VERY important to the layout of the entire Adventure People line! More on that later!

 

Fisher price had not been known for their action figures. Prior to this Fisher Price handled mainly young kids with their licensed lines for Sesame Street and other properties. Typically these toys were targeting pre-school children and you could spot a Fisher Price toy from a mile away. No matter where you went, schools, day cares, Doctors offices, you name it, they had some sort of Fisher Price toy looming in its fibres. The classic pop maker, and The Fisher Price Cash register were commonly found everywhere.

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For myself I was blessed to have had two of the coolest playsets, The Fisher Price Garage and the Sesame Street Playhouse!! Both of these sets were long time stalwarts of the Hero action figure play time sets. These always doubled for other things during play of course. The Clubhouse was always a Cobra Strong hold as it was incorporated into my main line playtime. I always imagined these item as something else and that was half the fun.

Fisher Price Sesame Street Club House

 

The Parking Garage was an addictive toy that involved a multi level parking garage with a working elevator to the top floor. It boasted a ramp for cars to roll down to ground level and something so simple occupied my young mind for hours. Countless minutes spent mindlessly churning the elevator bringing my mini cars or ‘Dinkies” to the top floor and then rolling them down the ramp at a high-speed! These little cars which seated exactly one Fisher Price peg figure in its seat careened from the rampway of the garage across the kitchen floor to my delight. Mindless fun…but that was the trap of Fisher Price products. They were infinitely playable, incredibly sturdy and compact and stood the test of time while other toy lines often did not survive the rigors of the toy box.

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The Fisher Price figurines were iconic and unmistakable. They did not have 10,000 points of articulation…in fact the ONLY thing they could do was turn their heads! They had a peg like body with a shortened molded base to allow them to fit into their environments. The signature piece of them were the classic round head with painted face. Sometimes the heads had an accessories like a hat or a helmet which made them decipherable from others in the line. When I see these today I cant help but smile. They were incredibly basic, but that’s all 4-year-old me needed.

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Fisher Price however would not be content with simply letting their customer base walk away when they turned 6..they had to expand…they had to capture that lucrative 6-10 demographic that other companies like Hasbro and Mattel monopolized. Hence in 1975 Fisher Price unveiled a new brand of figures..a set that would change the way we play to this very day. It was here we were about see the beginning of the fall of the 12-inch giant toy..and things were about to get smaller..3 3/4 inch to be exact!!

Adventure People Store Display

 

Adventure People encapsulated a new shift towards action figures. Action figures and dolls mostly up to that point had been of the larger variety. G.I.Joe was a primary kids toy in the 60s and 70s with each figure looming in a 12 inch variety! The vehicles were equally as massive to fit this line. The Six Million Dollar Man line of figures debuting in 1975 as well continued on the 12 inch trend. For girls at the time Barbie was equally as sizable along with all her friends , vehicles and accessories. Big was the norm during this time so with Adventure People launching in its 3 3/4 format was considered radical at the time. The FOOLS!! No one would play with 3 3/4 inch figures…right??  Fisher Price was not known to dip its toes in the big boy toy market but maybe …just maybe kids of the 70s would want their adventures on a smaller more compact scale….and they would be RIGHT!!

Actual Star wars figures

Meanwhile Kenner, the toy company known at the time for creating The Easy Bake Oven and The Spirograph was commissioned with the task of producing a line of figures for a new Science fiction movie that was by all accounts going to be popular…little did they know HOW popular. Mego another popular toy company of the day had recently declined the contract believing that this property would be a miss financially. They had already seen decline in general toy sales so taking a gamble at an unknown property was not a gamble worth taking. Besides this Star Wars thing was like all the other movie failures at the time right? That’s where up and comer Kenner came in, yet woefully unprepared to know the challenge that was ahead. The Christmas of 1977 would be a big challenge. There was pressure on to release a Star Wars toy line for the peak shopping season and demand for Star Wars was at a fever pitch. Kenner scrambled. Now you may ask..what does this have to do with Fisher Price Adventure People??

Stra Wars Protoypes

Well when toy company designers rushed production of their figures there was no time to develop physical prototype molds as was typically done in the creation of a new line. Kenner associates instead took several Adventure People toys remodeled and repainted them into prototype Star Wars figure concepts to sell to the marketers for production. The Toys were green lit and the most successful line of action figures ever made was born…with a little nudge from the amazing Fisher Price Adventure people.

Star Wars Kenner early-mockup-11group

The 3 3/4 inch action figure market exploded! Large scale toys such as Hasbro’s G.I.Joe, Mego toys and even The Six Million Dollar Man figures would all experience a sharp and sudden decline in the scale of their format. Some toys adapted with the times while others perished. On the surface level Adventure People were basic. None of the figures even had names. Which kind of worked out because pulling one of these very similar looking figures from the toy box and trying to differentiate them with a name could be a challenge for any 7-year-old. It was best off that we named them ourselves anyways! They were differentiated by their sex this group was strictly Male and female and also very super caucasian!?? The line not known for its diversity  DID include only one African American figure named “Male Pilot”(That had two variants) as well as a black female news reporter! They also had one very cool Native American male (Not pictured) as well but that was it! None o the three figures appeared as repaints later which was a little odd! I assume we will give them a pass for the times being what they were socially but this was certainly NOT the era of diversity in which we live in now.

 

They reused only a small number of individual molds to make their figures. By simply repainting them and adding accessories to make them “New” figures! Before everyone gets boo boo faced and accuses Fisher Price of  high crime, at the same time the beloved GI Joe 3 3/4 inch line did the same first when they launched . If you look closely at the GI Joe line you will notice that there was a great deal of head sharing going on. (Mind out of the gutters please we are talking plastic action figure heads people!!) Hawk, and Steeler share the same head mold. Clutch and Rock and Roll are the same guy with new hair and accessories!!! I noticed this with the Fisher Price gang as well! My Male Diver figure is also the most popular retread in the whole line as he moonlights as Male Swimmer, Male astronaut, Male TV Crew, Male Construction Worker, Space Commander, X-Ray Man…well you get the point!! No one even bothered to name them! There were other variants though few and far betwen like two female molds that played and a  host of different moldslike a race car driver, a cowboy, a Kayaker and a hang glider to name the most common assortment of Adventure People varities! All of these figures were built so they could easily be repainted and repurposed in another set! It was genius when you think of it!

 

Another peculiarity of this line were the hands. Each figure had a hand that fit onto some sort of vehicle or corresponding accessory. This was a neat feature as unlike other toy lines at the time when you placed a figure inside a vehicle they just sat there and could not grip the wheel merely sit. Not Adventure People..these figures were meant to drive,  work and heck even paddle a canoe down river and look the part! The coolest part of Adventure People however were the playsets and vehicles!! This is where play really began. Once you moved past the idea that your Mountain Climber, Male Swimmer and The Space Commander were the SAME toy then came the mega cool rides and you were over it!

 

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The awesome Daredevil Sport Van was one that was a common find in toy boxes around my town! The classic green color with motor cycle and kayak accessories made this toy a win! The wheels and general construction looked reminiscent of the Barbie campers of the day! These toys featured very basic but iconic paper sticker decals that made these vehicles stand out!

 

 

 

Fisher Price Deluxe sets often came with plenty of figures and extra accessories to play with. The complete Wilderness Patrol team was one of my favorites! One incredible accessory was the Pontoon Boat that paired with the Bush plane! But separate all the vehicles and you had a boat a plane and an all terrain vehicle! Hell they even stuck a Collie in this set for good measure!!

 

 

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The beauty of all these sets were they were super compatible with other figure sets of the day. Who would not have loved to have this super cool Rescue Truck for your GI Joe Medic Doc!! Come on you KNOW you would have!! How about Stalker and Gung Ho figures using all the cool Wilderness Patrol toys. These sets opened up new possibilities for your other toys that may have been collecting toy box dust!

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My favorite set of all the Adventure People line however was the amazing Space Collection. With Kenner cleaning up in toy stores with their Star Wars line and other lines like BattleStar Galactica trying to take a slice to the toy profit pie.  Fisher Price entered the fray with a solid entry into the game, Adventure People: Space

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Fisher Price as usual did not invest millions into making new molds for this new line of toys as with all other sets this crew was made up of repaints of the original Adventure People. Space Commander was Fisher Prices answer to Commander Adama of BattleStar fame but upon closer inspection he was merely our old friend Male Diver with a painted beard and flashy new red space duds with decals! Hang Glider Male transformed into Astro Knight! Race Car Driver became Clawtron Male! Heck Male and Female Diver became my favorite figures of the entire line with their new space garb complete with the see through green X-Ray Man and X-Ray Woman! They didnt even try to cover up the diving suits! They were literally clear green androids with robotic detailing and yellow dots literally painted over their eyes…and I loved them!!

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This set didn’t just rely on its figures!! Nooooo! It also bested anything on toyshelves at that time with simply incredible vehicles!! Enter: Alpha Probe!! An incredibly designed space ship with mini adventure ship and built-in and realistic space sounds and options!

 

 

Alpha probe

Alpha Probe was the center piece to the space collection and in scale one of the largest toys in the entire collection! As with everything else in the sets its was wildly compatible with the Popular Star Wars/ Gi Joe sets of the day and just looked damn cool in anyone’s collection!

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So your Adventure People could blast off to the stars for adventures beyond the imagination…but what happens when you get there?? They had that on lock too with more incredible set pieces, the first being the Alpha Star Space Exploration set. It came complete with the Alpha Star all terrain vehicle and full deep space exploration unit in tow! Throw in the figures, a mini explorer droid and a beast alien and this thing had it all! Oh and I didn’t mention it was motorized and could drive back and forth! These things were tough on batteries through so you would need a steady supply of D-Cell batteries to keep the action going!

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Then the Alpha Interceptor! This one was a bunch of modular toys in one. It was a “Build Your Own” sort of toy that you could build basically three types of toys out of! I have not seen one of these in real life but this thing looks incredible!!

Alphanterceptor

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Now for kids on a budget Fisher Price also had you covered!! Fire Star 1 was a single vehicle black space ship that played well with your X-Wing and Tie Fighter battles in a Galaxy Far far Away!! It came with a connecting cable that attached to the vehicle and figure to give the illusion of weightlessness in space!! Yes that is good old reliable Male Diver as X-Ray Man inside the Astro-Suit!!

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Bottom line…Adventure People were much more than a juveniles toy. The cross compatibility alone made these toys favorites during playtime back in the day! While there was plenty of cop outs design wise these toys were incredibly well build and durable. If you look around out there in that corner closet or that down stairs storage area you just may rediscover these classics! That kids…is one to grow on!

 

Thanks for checking out the Super-Hero Satellite! Do us a favor and drop me a comment in the box below! If you would like to chat about this article or anything retro you can find me on Twitter @charlton_hero! Give me a follow!! You wont be sorry…at least not right away! Till Next Time Heroes!

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The Wonder Years

Posted: December 10, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

Transmission date: Dec. 9 2012.

Welcome back Satellite subscribers. Thanks for the great response from last post hopefully this will be of interest as well! This installment is all about my personal favorite TV show probably of all time, The Wonder Years. So heroes jump aboard the Satellite and we are going back to 1988 for this transmission.

January 31, 1988, Tv sets around the world heard the Joe Cocker singing “A little help from my friends” and the show The Wonder Years debuted on the ABC networks airwaves and little did viewers know that this show unlike millions of others would change the way we watch tv and was the first honest reflection of growing up that no other show or movie up to that point could do.

The show centered on the life of one Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage), who is being raised by two blue collar average American parents Jack and Norma Arnold who could very well have been any of the viewers parents in that they were so fully realized. Kevin had a pesky older brother named Wayne (Jason Hervey) and a hippie sister named Karen (Olivia d, Abo). Kevin’s best friend was an ackward Jewish kid named Paul Phieffier (Josh Saviano). Of course last but not least Kevin’s childhood love interest, the  “Girl next door” Winnie Cooper (Danica McKellar). The show centers early on with Kevins trials and tribulations in school and with his quirky family, while the latter seasons focused on Kevin’s journey through his teen years revolving mostly around dating and friendships. It was simple storyline that looks like any other show that was on at the time. What was so special about this show? The writing and execution was so fully realized that viewers like me were convinced that this was my story on that screen and each episode was something everyone who has ever grown up could relate to.

The show was told from the point of view of a Thirty something year old Kevin Arnold as voiced brilliantly by Daniel Stern. Stern was pitch perfect in his reflection of Kevin. The narrator really set the tone and mood of each show. Stern successfully framed each situation expertly to the point where it could almost be you the viewer relaying stories of our own childhood.

The Wonder Years resonated with me on every level and it was well beyond the scope of a formulaic sitcom. There was not always a happy ending. Things did not always go the right way for the characters. Kevins Dad struggled with his career and keeping the bills paid while playing the parent. Kevins Mom Norma was a strong woman who was a typical homemaker who struggled to do better for her and her family by working horrible jobs and stumbling through school while barely balancing being a Mother to three kids. Wayne always seemed to have it together. The sarcastic antagonist always bugged Kevin to death with his own annoying ways. Wayne however was insecure in his own dealings outside the Arnold house. Karen was the on screen off screen again sister to Kevin and who was always in some sort of trouble whether participating in protests to moving away to find herself.  Kevin’s friendships were not always perfect. Paul and Kevin were always together but they would grow apart at times and find different paths to the same end.

Winnie and Kevin were TV magic. They were pitch perfectly portrayed on screen as a the bashful couple. We see Kevin stumble through his first and promising relationship. We root for Kevin as he try’s with all his heart to be Winnie’s boyfriend. He endures breakups, new boyfriends, a separation, and many reconciliations. The whole time the viewer is along for the ride and cringing as Kevin makes all too familiar mistakes, and screw ups. Winnie’s character is a complex one as well. As she grows up her and Kevin go their separate ways Winnie encounters family deaths, abusive boyfriends, car accidents, separated parents and realizes that her only constant is Kevin. We laugh, we cry, and we share in the lives of these two kids so richly developed that they could very well be us on that screen.

For those who grew up in the 70, and 80s easily related to the plight of the Arnold’s. We remember our first color TV or getting cable for the first time. We remember the heart break of breaking up with a loved one. We remember seeing our parents struggle to make ends meet to keep a roof over our head. We remember our love of seeing Star Trek for the first time. We remember our first car and joyride around town with our friends. If we did not have pictures or video of our youth then we could watch an episode of The Wonder Years and we can remember. It was THAT good.

These days the Wonder Years is still reasonably rare to find on DVD, but lives on forever on Netflix (USA). So for the fan now just wanting to check this show out for the first time Ill give you my Top five favorite episodes. These are purely selfish picks and in no way reflect any critical top 5 lists out there.

TOP FIVE EPISODES!

1. My Fathers Office: Season 2. Kevin goes to work with his Father and comes to a stunning realization of what his Father does not only for work but finds out the type of man he is.A great episode I am sure all viewers can relate to the moment we understand of what our love ones go through to make a family work.


Narrator: But as we walked back to my father’s office, I suddenly realized something that made a lot of things make sense. My dad was too good for this place. Sure it was good – we were all lucky he had it and all that… but my dad had something finer in him than S-14’s and distribution reports. I’ll never forget how I felt at that moment. I felt that my father was a great man.”

2. How I’m Spending My Summer Vacation: Season 2. This is a episode where we really see deep development of Winnie and Kevin’s relationship as Winnie’s parents split and Winnie’s world falls apart.

Narrator: She wasn’t helping her parents, she wasn’t doing anything, she was just standing there. OK, enough was enough, the game was over, let’s lay out the cards. And then, for the first time that night, I looked around. The music was playing. Couples were dancing, holding each other tight. But not everybody. And suddenly I began to understand. I wanted to tell Winnie I understood what was happening to her family. I wanted to say something that would give her comfort, something incredibly wise …
Kevin: Sorry.
Winnie: Will you write to me when I’m away?
Narrator: That summer, kids everywhere swam, water-skied, and sailed, while Winnie Cooper struggled to keep her head above water, in a family torn apart by anger, and grief.”

3.Summer Song. Season 3 Kevin while on summer vacation meets Teri a far more mature older girl who Kevin become infatuated with. s with many summer romances this was was never meant to be. This captures the innocence and the special feeling of a Summer vacation away from home and that weird thing that happens when you meet someone new.

Narrator: When you’re thirteen, it’s a long way to Albuquerque. Teri told me about getting her learner’s permit, and taking her first drive with a stick-shift. She wrote of our night at the beach. She told me she missed me so much that she cried herself to sleep at night. And she promised to write to me, until we saw each other again. I keep that letter in an old shoebox. It was the only letter she ever wrote me.

Narrator: I knew at that moment, that life was not fair. Sure … I’d write to [Teri], and maybe she’d write me – then what? Could we really wait for each other for the next ten or twelve years? It was hopeless. I’d never felt pain like this before in my entire life. It felt … wonderful.

4.The Christmas Party: Season 5 Its Christmas at The Arnold’s and that means one thing. The planning of the annual Christmas party. The Arnold’s struggle to get their family in order to pull off yet one more party. It would be the disaster they thought it would be but it did not matter The Arnold’s had something special.

Kevin comes to appreciate his parents relationship. A beautiful episode that always reminds me of Xmas time at my own house growing up with the parties and lights dancing under my bedroom door and the sounds of Christmas that goes along with it.

5. The Accident: Winnie and Kevin had drifted apart. Winnie had a new boyfriend and a whole new set of friends, however it would be a car accident that would make Winnie realize that it is Kevin who will always be there for her and her one true friend.This episode is probably in my mind the best in the series especially when it is closed out by Bob Seager’s “Weve got tonight” is one of the most heartwarming episodes.

Narrator/Adult: And I guess that’s when I finally understood. I’d been part of Winnie’s past, a past she wanted to forget. And now…there was nothing to do… but go. Only I didn’t. I couldn’t.
(Kevin climbs up to the roof’s overhang)
Narrator/Adult: There are things in a life that matter,
things in a past which can’t be denied. Winnie Cooper was part of me,
and I was part of her. And no matter what, for as long as we lived, I knew I could never let her go.
Kevin: (whispering to Winnie through window) I love you. (Winnie smiles at him)
Winnie: (whispering to Kevin from her bed)
I love you.

So that’s it folks. Hope you have enjoyed this transmission, The show holds a special place in my heart and I still look on in Wonder. See ya next time now back to the satellite!

So that’s my list. Now go enjoy some Wonder years!

If you are interested in watching the Wonder Years and are not interested in shelling out the bucks for a Netflix subscription then this site may interest you. http://www.thewonderyearsepisode.com/

As well I would like to throw a shout out to the gentlemen who runs retroist.com for putting out an outstanding Retro oriented podcast that recently featured a Wonder Years episode! Check it out and support this amazing site! Listen to the podcast episode here! http://www.retroist.com/2012/12/07/retroist-podcast-episode-125-the-wonder-years/

Transmission ended.

If you have enjoyed this blog post feel free to leave a comment as I will reply to them all. If you want to contact me directly catch me on Twitter as @charlton_hero, or join the conversation using #SuperHeroSatellite.