Surviving the Cursed Earth: The Mutants Recap 2018

Gentlemen, this is our third Christmas here at We Are the Mutants. 2018 has been particularly rough on all of us. Our “real” jobs have been punishing, we’ve lost loved ones, we’ve been sick as dogs, our significant others have been sick as dogs, one of my kids was in the hospital (she’s okay!), and Donald Trump is still the motherfucking President. But we’re still here…

Free From the Gravity That Holds the Mind: Playskool’s Star Rider

As part of this year’s holiday “festivities,” my fellow US-based Mutants have mockingly given me a couple of the toy pages from a 1979 American catalog to look at in the hope of stimulating some idiosyncratic British take on the very different world of US toys, and possibly provoking a bit of retrospective seasonal gift envy. I can almost hear them now, chortling away mirthlessly in their La-Z-Boy recliners in their respective dens, or wherever the fuck it is that North Americans go to chortle. But they won’t break me; I’m made of sterner stuff…

Platform of Dreams: A Lonely Kid Covets G.I. Joe’s U.S.S. ‘Flagg’

“Unwrapping” the G.I. Joe U.S.S. Flagg aircraft carrier playset that Kelly put under the (virtual) tree for me this Christmas is a bittersweet reminder of childhood desires scuttled. I think, even at age 10, I knew that I’d never receive this giant (seven and a half foot long!) Nimitz-class aircraft carrier that retailed for $110 in 1985 (that’s over $250 in today’s dollars). But, ahem, I did actually end up getting the Cobra Terrordrome for Christmas ’86, which retailed at about half the cost…

Giving at the Office: Palitoy’s Action Man

So this week we’re each going to talk about a toy from Christmas past that one of the other guys has figuratively “gifted” us. I volunteered Richard to be my secret Santa because I expected a gift so quintessentially representative of the forlorn British ’70s of his youth that I could simply rag on him and his homeland for a few paragraphs…

Death at the Fair: Britain’s Ghost Trains

By Richard McKenna

The itinerant fun fairs that stalked the British Isles, descending at regular intervals upon some desolate local field like shoddy Fortean dream cities, were once a major part of the informal national calendar. As a child growing up in the hinterland of the world’s most beautiful town—the gleaming futurist metropolis known as Doncaster, South Yorkshire—I was lucky enough to live near a fuck-off massive one…

Squaring the Circle: An American Becomes One of the ‘Children of the Stones’

By Michael Grasso

I’m not likely to add much to the thousands upon thousands of words penned over the past decade or so on how formative an experience watching Children of the Stones (1977) as a kid was. Now considered one of the signal works forming the foundation of the British folk horror and hauntological aesthetics, the series is a brilliant melding of folk memory and technological aspiration, of magic and science, of tradition and progress, done in that ineffable way that only the British seem able to express satisfactorily…

“I Was Alive and I Waited for This”: Coming of Age at the End of History

By Michael Grasso

I was born in 1975, at the demographic nadir of the 1970s birth trough in America and before the mini Baby Boom of the early ’80s. My birth cohort is small; my grade school classes were the smallest they’d be for the next 30-some odd years. So, as a late Gen-Xer, my oldest pop culture memories are of the late 1970s. I was a kid in the 1980s. But I came of age at the end of history…

Recollections: Wonder Bread’s ‘Battlestar Galactica’ Trading Cards

It sounds ludicrous now, but the neighborhood grocery store was once an exciting destination for kids. Along with a serviceable “toy section,” where you might find an overpriced Micronaut or Metal-Man, dinosaur and army man playsets, Presto Magix “dry transfers” (the paper had a distinctive and delicious smell), die-cast mean machines like Dyna-Flytes, and a host of other tangible pleasures…

Recollections: Carl Sagan’s ‘Cosmos’

Thirty-seven years ago this month, the 13-part television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, hosted by Cornell University planetary scientist Carl Sagan, began airing weekly on PBS. While I was likely a little too young to have watched that premiere broadcast, I definitely remember watching the entire uncut series during one of its many rebroadcasts in the early 1980s…