Monday, 15 January 2018

Arfon’s 39th Birthday Bonanza 299th Blog Post Special: Arcade Club

Can you believe it? I am just one post from 300 and can you believe that I am just one year from being forty years of age? OK that one might be easier to comprehend... but anyway, lets celebrate this number in much the same way as we celebrated the 199th back in 2015 and devote it to something incredibly interesting, this time how I celebrated my 39th Birthday! Last Saturday! Mrs Jones took me somewhere that I have wanted to go for some time, the largest free play arcade in Europe, the Arcade Club in Bury!
But what is this ‘Arcade Club’? Well, according to the website it all came about when owner Andy Palmer’s private collection of 30 arcade machines, situated at the back of a local computer shop in which he ran became quite popular with customers popping in for a nostalgia arcade fix and this gave him the idea to open an Arcade Club in a warehouse in Haslingden. Filled with around 100 machines the idea proved so popular that in October 2015 the club moved to Ella Mill in Bury and with twice the space to work with filled it with even more machines. A gaming themed lounge was added for people to try new technologies like VR while enjoying hot food and drinks. Retro game consoles were added to the free-to-play roster including Nintendo 64, PC Engine, PlayStation, Sega Saturn and Xbox. The additional space then allowed the introduction of more modern larger cabinets. Then in March 2017 Floor 2 was opened doubling what the Club had to offer, event and tournament focussed, networked PCs, modern consoles and a broadcast stage with an185" screen inviting “other gaming communities to make Arcade Club their home” and they regularly host tournaments with BandaiNamco and Manchester Battle Arena (MBA) all this along with a dedicated pinball room, a fully stocked bar serving American diner styled meals and a vast array of vintage video arcade games have all the trappings for a very happy Arfon indeed!

However my main focus was FLOOR ONE which is filled with original machines from back in the day. Highlighting 30 years of video gaming history carefully restored and ready to be played by retro/ nostalgia nuts like myself. Over the past 35 or so years I have played countless arcade machines. My pre-teens, teens, late teens and twenties at varying points of the 80’s and 90’s and at different points of the country and each game has its own memories associated with it. Memories of family, friends, lovers, places and attractions that in some cases no longer exist so when I entered the room it was like a birthday reunion, a room full of familiar faces that I had not seen for years all gathered under one roof! It was so good to see Paperboy, Frogger, Donkey Kong, Wonder Boy, Streets of Rage and Pacman again (sadly Rage couldn't make it) it was marvellous! Pay £10 on the door and you have unlimited plays on the machines- time is no object (however they do close at 11:00pm and 12:00am on Fridays!) I wandered around the room, relishing all the bright lights and familiar themes playing over and over-
rediscovering the cabinet decals and relaying to Mrs Jones how I had once played “this one in a caravan park in Wrexham” or “this one in Alton Towers back in 1991” another factor that I enjoyed (aside from being able to play all these games again of course) was seeing friends getting together and playing alongside one another and families out there for the day, mothers shooting zombies alongside their children and fathers showing their sons how to throw a newspaper at a mailbox! This environment even had Mrs Jones who normally doesn't play video games getting in on the action, chasing ghosts and shooting asteroids with the best of them, we even joined forces and completed House of the Dead 2! Even when it was time for a breather and a drink I was delighted to find three of my five favourite pinball machines in the corner The Addams Family, The Twilight Zone and my all time favourite Revenge from Mars (my fourth and firth favourite that I didn't see are Creature from the Black Lagoon and Doctor Who) I had a blast and highly recommend you check it out be you a casual or retro gamer I defy you to not find something there that will not put a nostalgic smile on your face! My sincere congratulations to all concerned, its an amazing place to visit and a BIG thank you to Mrs Jones for making my Birthday so special!

Just some of the stars from that day...

Pac-Man & Super Pac-Man
Pac-Land & Space Invaders
Centipede & Donkey Kong
Tron & Paperboy
Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles & The Simpsons

© Arfon Jones 2018. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

The Legend of the Spindly Man #1 Kickstarter


My good friends at Hellbound Media have a new Kickstarter campaign for your consideration (in which yours truly plays a small part...). The story tells of a case of vanishing children and it seems to point to one culprit The Spindly Man and it’s up to Hellbound’s Mandy the Monster Hunter to sort it out! The Legend of the Spindly Man #1 is a brand new horror-fantasy comic that promises to be, “terrifying for readers of all ages” a stand alone story that those new to the character of Mandy, one of the company’s fan favourites will find as a perfect introduction to her world, “Older readers will appreciate the dark undertones, and themes reminiscent of the works of Neil Gaiman or Terry Pratchett, whilst younger readers will see a world of terrifying monsters and an awesome female protagonist” No strangers to the pages of this blog, Hellbound Media is an independent British-based comic company founded and run by Mark Adams and Matt Warner and they have had huge success with previous Kickstarter projects, due in part to their backer rewards and this is no exception as the first issue of Spindly Man comes with three original art prints of Mandy the Monster Hunter or The Spindly Man himself, “created by some of the best talent in UK indie comics” Atlantisvampire (The Face in the Curtain, Reverend Cross) Janine Von Moosel (City of Lost Souls) and moi whom had the honour of painting Mandy facing a “Jurassic-sized problem” and all three prints are available in comic size format with this Kickstarter so don’t delay. Go over there now and check out all the rewards and show your support for indie comics, I’ll wait….

© Arfon Jones 2018. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Monday, 1 January 2018

My 2018 Resolution: Linnea Quigley's Horror Workout


Happy New Year to you all!
So did you make a New Year’s resolution? I did and like many others I intend to loose weight... Not an original resolution I grant you but I currently weigh in at 15.5 stone and according to the NHS I should be around 12 stone so I am making that age old New Year’s resolution this year. You would think it would be easy to find time to exercise and stay fit when you work for yourself from home but this hasn’t actually been the case for me and never allowing myself any time for any real physical exercise has taken its toll and my shape reflects this. Combine this factor with snacks consumed while waiting for paint to dry or waiting for a reply from clients and you have a potential long-term problem and that is why I have decided to do something about it before it gets too late, however I will not be joining Weight Watchers or a gym I shall be enlisting the aid of Linnea Quigley and her Horror Workout Video!
There are hundreds of exercise videos on the market but this is the only one that will do for me! In the late 1980s Scream Queen, Linnea Quigley star of Return of the Living Dead, Silent Night, Deadly Night, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers and Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama teamed up with Kenneth J. Hall the man responsible for Puppet Master and created “the scariest exercises video ever made”!
Released on video in 1990 it really needs to be seen to be truly appreciated, after a brief pre-title shower scene Miss. Quigley reminisces about her career in front of a fireplace (showing clips from some of her movies such as Creepozoids and Assault of the Party Nerds) before starting her first workout. Her attire is somewhat different to what I would wear (hers comprise of stockings and a metal-studded bra but as she herself asks, “Would you want to watch me work out in a baggy sweat suit?”) afterwards she goes out jogging past a cemetery and is chased home by a horde of zombies that she later has performing aerobics by a pool! When that is finished with she has some of her girlfriends over for a slumber party and having watched more clips from her movies, the unhealthy popcorn becomes an issue for concern and leads us into another aerobics session before our story ends much the way most slumber parties in the 1980’s ended, a bloody mess! Running at exactly one hour, remove the movie clips and links you have decent little workout video there! There are numerous sites online that offer tips for self-employed people to keep in shape they all stress the importance of prioritising exercise over everything else and keeping to it, even if I didn’t feel like doing it but they say that the best time to exercise is in the morning before checking e-mails as your mind is clear so that will be the first step, making myself do it so there you go, my New Year’s resolution for 2018 get fit and loose weight following the Linnea Quigley's Horror Workout every morning. Wish me luck and Happy New Year to you all!

© Arfon Jones 2018. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Thursday, 28 December 2017

2017 New Years blog post, thingy

The last photo taken by the doomed JXD 509G 5.8G FPV Drone
(christened “Murdock”) before crashing and catching fire.
So how was your Christmas? Good-good... Right, the end of the year approaches so its time to reflect on the past twelve months (It’s tradition!) The great Vincent Price once said, “A man who limits his interests limits his life” so I try to broaden my interests when I can and when I received a Drone on my Birthday in January I thought this was going to be my latest ‘thing’ but it wasn’t to be as my brand new JXD 509G 5.8G FPV Drone crashed and caught fire on its first actual take-off! Although I was able to upload the footage of the drone (christened “Murdock”) ‘s doomed flight to my YouTube channel it marked the beginning and end of my Drone flying hobby, Arfon Jones ‘Drone Flyer’ was not to be so I became Arfon Jones ‘Turtle Owner’ instead when I became the new guardian of a Yellow Belly Slider Turtle! Already a Tortoise owner I had considered getting a terrapin someday but this idea was brought forward in 2017 when a request to re home an unwanted turtle came up on Facebook. One 12 gallon aquarium later and I am pleased to say that Gamera is settling in nicely and is an absolute joy.
Gamera the Yellow Belly Slider Turtle settling in nicely
On the subject of joy, I was also delighted that Mrs Jones who has been an aspiring writer since I first met her finally published her work this year. Strange Times in Little Happining tells of a series of mysterious murders and strange occurrences in the quiet rural town of Little Happining and I had the privilege of illustrating the cover for her. Launched at this year’s Steampunk Spring Market in Chepstow and now available on Amazon the book has been very well received with Starburst Magazine’s Andrew Pollard awarding it 9/10 and describing it, “one of the most utterly charming reads we’ve come across in many a year. Jones has penned a tale that covers classic Doctor Who ground whilst also channelling the classic whodunit stories seen on British television over the years.” She was even invited to speak at this year’s Morecambe & Vice: Crime Writing Festival in Morecambe suffice to say I am proud of her. My own work wise, when I wasn’t on the radio I was almost certainly in the studio working on several projects (the before mentioned Strange Times in Little Happining cover aside) I worked on Attic Door Productions Anthony & Cleopatra poster and Freak Town’s Slashermania and several other projects that will be unveiled in 2018.
Mr. Bernard Cribbins OBE with a Dalek
When I wasn’t working in the studio I was travelling, and if I wasn’t visiting Wimpy Bars or the last few remaining Little Chefs I was attending a movie premiere or other events ranging from the Chepstow Steampunk Spring Market, Wales Comic Con in Wrexham or Horror Con in Rotherham peddling wares and meeting people. Not only did I have the pleasure of meeting many new friends and the opportunity to catch up with old ones but also Cassandra Peterson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maddie Smith, Bernard Cribbins, Dave Prowse and Peter Purvis. Sadly in 2017 we not only lost Professor Heinz Wolff and Adam West but also June Foray, Bruce Forsyth, Carol Lee Scott, John Noakes, George Romero, Martin Landau, Roger Moore, Keith Chegwin, John Hurt, Jerry Lewis, Peter Sallis, Hugh Hefner, John Hillerman, Brian Cant, Rodney Bewes, Keith Barron, Robert Hardy, Sean Hughes, Barry Norman, Earle Hyman, Liz Dawn, Tony Booth, Don Rickles, Bill Paxton, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, John Heard, Glen Campbell, David Cassidy, Harry Dean Stanton, Miguel Ferrer, Joan Lee and Heather North.
So what interesting things did I see this year? Let us begin with...
 
Regimental Goat, Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum, Caernarfon Castle- North Wales
On display at the Regimental Museum at Caernarfon Castle is the Goat present at Queen Victoria’s visit to Bangor to open the Britannia Bride across the Menai Straits on the 23rd of October 1852 along with a selection of Goat Head Pieces from various Royal Welch (old English spelling of Welsh) Fusiliers battalions.
 
The Grave of Douglas Adams, Highgate Cemetery North London
As a devotee of British comedy and Sci-fi naturally I am a fan of the late Douglas Adams, what is there not to like about the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? As for his work on Doctor Who, City of Death is one of my all time favourite stories. After his funeral was held in Santa Barbara on 16 May 2002 his ashes were placed in Highgate and since then fans from all over the world have embarked on pilgrimages to the grave stone to give thanks for his work and leave a pen in memoriam, a tribute to the great man. 





AA Sentry Box, Boduan nr. Pwllheli, North Wales
Telephone kiosks, I love them! From the icon that is the classic red K6 telephone kiosk to the sublime blue police public call box that I need not explain its appeal! As an artist, designer, retro nut and Brit I love me a kiosk! Here is another of my favoureds the classic 'AA' sentry box. Once a familiar sight on British roads these kiosks (first erected in 1912) offered shelter to the Automobile Association's patrol men on hand to offer roadside assistance, directions and first aid to motorists that needed them. By 1920, members were issued keys to the telephone boxes which could be used to call for assistance there were almost 1,000 boxes in their heyday but by the time of World War II there were only 600 boxes in existence and as progress continued to roll on their numbers dwindled and at the time of writing this only 19 sentry boxes still survive in the country eight of which have been granted Grade-II listed status. Because mobile phones are common place all the kiosks were decommissioned in 2002 including this one, AA' sentry box 580 in Boduan nr Pwllheli in North Wales, timber in construction it dates from around 1927 and it has been a regular feature throughout my life, I can't even begin to imagine how many times I have passed this in my 38 years on this planet be it as a walker, cyclist, bus passenger or motorist. Its a thing of beauty.

The Hands of Miss Jones, London Studios, Waterloo, London
If you ever find yourself outside the London Studios (situated on the South Bank next to The IBM Building and the Royal National Theatre) on the building’s outer wall you will find bronze cast of the hands of Frances de la Tour, known to modern audiences for being in the sitcom Vicious but to me she will always be Miss Jones from one of my all time favorite sitcoms, Rising Damp! Actually… she isn't the only one to feature on the walls, bronze casts of other famous people can also be located there including her co-stars Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi along with several other TV talent such as Stephen Fry, Alan Davies, Philip Schofield, Lorraine Kelly, Melvyn Bragg, Paul O'Grady and Des Lynam along with not so talented Vernon Kay...

Sir Ian McKellen, Sir Derek Jacobi , Des Lynam and Melvyn Bragg.
 

The Penguin Pool, London Zoo, London
The Penguin Pool is perhaps one the most famous and iconic buildings at the Zoo designed by the Tecton architectural firm led by Berthold Lubetkin (1901–1990) also responsible for the Zoo’s Round House.
Opened in 1934 the modernist building (now a Grade I listed building) no longer has penguins in it, they have since been relocated to new enclosure after it was discovered that its water capacity was not only too shallow for the penguins to swim in but it’s hard concrete floors gave them arthritis.


Victorian Punch and Judy puppets, The Brighton Toy and Model Museum, Brighton
Located underneath Brighton Railway Station, within its arches is the Brighton Toy andModel Museum which is well worth your time and money. Housed within its impressively vast collection of toys is a set of Punch and Judy puppets believed dating from 1890.




Eric Morecambe statue, Morecambe, Lancashire  
When Eric Morecambe died in 1984 Britain lost one of its comedic greats and the people of his hometown and namesake commemorated its famous son with this statue designed by sculptor Graham Ibbeson. The statue stands over 6ft in hight and features Eric in his famous pose wearing a pair of binoculars (he was a keen birdwatcher) and it was unveiled by the Queen in 1999. Morecambe’s top tourist attraction it was awarded a certificate of excellence by TripAdvisor in 2014 due to outstanding feedback from the thousands of tourists that adopt the famous pose alongside it for a photo (myself included). Not only that but all of Eric and Earn ‘s catchphrases can be found on the ground along with a list of all the famous guests that they had on their shows.

The Brighton "Toad in the Hole" Booth Museum, Brighton
The Booth Museum of Natural History is a fantastic museum to visit, I can’t stress how important it is that you visit this place and show them your support! They have a vast collection of wonders there along with a fantastic collection devoted to the Iguanodon, the remains of Dodos and a stuffed Thylacine. However they also have one of the most famous examples of entombed animals (animals reported to have been found alive after being encased in solid rock) there the now (in)famous mummified toad found within a hollow flint nodule, presented by Charles Dawson in 1901 in which he claimed it had been discovered by workmen in a Lewes quarry the previous year. Its authenticity has long since been debated and the fact that Charles Dawson was also the man behind the Piltdown man aside, since its initial discovery the toad has since shrunk casting further doubt as to its authenticity and it is now regarded a hoax but never the less its still worth vising it for yourself.

Well, there we go, I hope that was of interest to you!
Big plans for 2018 as I hope to not only have more adventures, see interesting things and meet more interesting people but also continue to work on many more exciting projects, publish my Monster Memories book and unveil the first phase of my newly refurbished- new-look studio!
Stick around and Happy New Year!

© Arfon Jones 2017. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Monster Memories Morsel: My First Krush-er

So did you have a good Christmas? I certainly did! Christmas 2017 was when I finally received a My Pet Monster of my very own (previous post) but Santa gave me that, Mrs Jones gave me something equally awesome!
A great little curio from the US of A that I am reasonably certain never made it to this side of the pond and I say that because A) I've never seen Krusher the “Growing Monster” ‘in the wild’ and B) it seemed that it wasn't a terribly successful toy line for Mattel in 1979 and this staggers me, because this 15 inch high green rubber figure had a great gimmick to it in that you could ‘Krush’ or mash it up and it would spring back to his original size when the air valve on its belt was turned! Amazing! Yet as I said it wasn’t a successful toy and so it is becoming harder to find (more so if you are after a boxed version) and knowing that had I been born five years earlier and on the other side of the Atlantic I would have adored this monster toy and so I wanted to add it to my collection, and that's just what happened! Thank you Mrs Jones!

© Arfon Jones 2017. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Monday, 25 December 2017

A Monster Memories Christmas Special: My Pet Monster the Monster Memory that never was

"Argos... It's So Easy!"
Once upon a time (1987 to be precise) there was an eight year old boy called Arfon who was obsessed with monsters. It was a glorious time to be a fan of such things as there seemed to be no end to the ‘gross’ and creepy monster themed toys available to children across the land. There were Madballs, Boglins, Rude Ralph, The Real Ghostbusters toy line not to mention all manner of slime related toys and there ruling over them all was the king of all the monster toys, My Pet Monster! Twenty six inches in height this plush monster was produced by American Greetings Corporation’s AmToy having been designed by great toy designer James Groman the man who also designed the MadBalls range. My Pet Monster was just like the (previously mentioned) Were Bears in that it was a plush toy aimed at boys. First released in the US in 1986 it crossed the Atlantic and onto UK toy shelves the following year. Arfon saw the My Pet Monster television advert and was instantly drawn to its blue fur, horns, big hideous nose and massive fangs. The toy not only promised to be his pal but also came with breakable chains and all these factors made My Pet Monster an amazingly awesome toy to have and so he promptly added it to his Christmas list. Unlike previous Christmas gift requests such as the Evil Horde's Slime Pit, Gooper Ghost Figure or Boglins, My Pet Monster wasn’t instantly dismissed by his mother and so it was added to the list as a "wait and see" item.
Christmas 1987, with my Philmar monster Jigsaw Puzzle,
Hungry Hippos game, Perfection, Junior Scrabble and David Bellamy microscope set
(The Mask Punchbag belonged to my brother)
December 25th, Christmas day. Santa has been and Arfon received a Rattlor action figure, Hungry Hippos game, Perfection, Junior Scrabble a telescope and a David Bellamy microscope but no Pet Monster… It seemed that Santa had forgotten to include one! Although he was still extremely happy with his gifts he was a little disappointed that he didn’t have a Pet Monster of his own.
Time marched on the toy brand itself continued to be a massive hit for AmToy prompting various forms of merchandise along with smaller size variants of the character (sixteen inches and twenty inches) along with a follow up monster called My Football Monster (complete with football helmet and jersey), Beastur My Pet Monster's enemy was added to the line up as too were five smaller monster hand puppets called, My Monster Pets and naturally being the 1980’s there was a cartoon series and a direct to video live action movie released not only assuring the success of the product but also assuring its place as one of the top toys of the 1980’s. So much so that the idea never really went away and in 2001 Toymax brought him back (looking slightly different) in talking form before Vivid Imaginations released another talking version in 2009. This year marked the monster’s 30th anniversary and so Creepy Co decided to mark the occasion by releasing a My Pet Monster vinyl figure, when Arfon saw this figure it had him thinking about the present that never was and how it had somehow being assigned to the Christmas gifts list that never was along with the Sectaurs Spider-Flyer and Hero Quest board game. Then on Christmas morning 2017 he found this parcel under the tree...






...And they lived happily ever after... Merry Christmas everyone!

© Arfon Jones 2017. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.


Saturday, 23 December 2017

RIP Misha the Aardvark 2008- 2017

Tragic news from London Zoo, it has been confirmed that at approximately 6am this morning a fire broke out in the Animal Adventure section of the Zoo and spread to an adjacent shop. On-site keepers and the zoo’s security team moved animals to safe locations while London Fire Brigade tackled the flames. Six people were given help at the scene for the effects of smoke inhalation and shock but sadly it has been confirmed that nine-year-old Aardvark, Misha has died with four Meerkats still unaccounted for, presumed dead. Devastating news Mrs Jones and I spent our wedding anniversary at the Gir Lion Lodge and were treated to a wonderful after-hours tour of the zoo and one of the highlights was feeding the Aardvarks (I excluded this from my last post as its meant to be a secret but given the circumstance...) I have wonderful memories of throwing insects to them as the night set in, watching them both burrowing away, they were a delight to see.
My thoughts go out to the keepers.

© Arfon Jones 2017. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

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