Wednesday, 11 April 2018

The Mystery Tortoise Photo

Our recent loss in the family finds us now knee deep into the dreaded “sorting out affairs” process and amongst all the paperwork I chance discovered this photo which appeals to me as both a history buff and tortoise owner! I don't know who exactly these people are or when exactly the photo was taken but I do know precisely where it was taken, Boduan in North Wales (a mile or so from the AA Sentry Box that I mentioned last year) outside the former Post Office that once resided there in fact (which we have loose family connection with). So taken was I with this photo that I visited the site to try and locate the exact spot this Herman Tortoise once attracted half the population of the village! What was the story I wonder? I guess we will never know...

Then and now The former Post Office, Boduan
situated on the A497 between Boduan and Nefyn
(Grid Reference SH3116138626)
© Arfon Jones 2018. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Friday, 30 March 2018

From the Vaults: December 2012 'Franktastic Christmas party balloon'

I found this in the Vault today, a promotional balloon from the 2012 Franktastic Christmas party event featuring an image by me, commissioned by the Frank Sidebottom Statue Fund the image was originally used for the event's poster (based on artwork that Frank himself created for his Christmas is really Fantastic LP) but I was tickled pink so see it also feature on the events balloons! You will recall this event played a major part in raising funds for the statue of Frank which now stands proudly in his home town of Timperley.

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

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

RIP Marie Julia Roberts 1938-2018

With my grandmother in 1998
holding a portrait of her dogs that she commissioned.
It's been a rather emotional time, my grandmother Marie Julia Roberts was laid to rest this week after a long battle with Alzheimer's aged 79. Although I try to keep these posts 'relativity' light and on topic it's actually seems only right that I devote this post to nain* because when I was aged three I believe she steered my life in this direction. It is very likely that I would not have been an artist and so this very website might not have ever existed had it not been for my grandmother and something that happened when I was three years of age. As I amused myself with a box of felt-tip pens and some sheets of paper I drew some clowns, why clowns I can't remember, but I drew a happy one (the one featured on this post), a sad one, a fat one and a thin one and when I was done I showed them to my grandmother who not only praised them but also showed them to everyone and told me that I had talent, I was told that I could actually draw and from that day on I was the kid that drew cartoons that aspired to someday becoming an artist.
Although we didn't always see eye-to-eye at times she was always the one Id go to during a 'crisis' and she was always supportive of my craft and when there was an artist or cartoonist on the TV my grandmother would inform me of it and if there was an article in the paper she would save it for me. As I grew older and my style developed I would still be summoned to gran's house to show off my portfolio to a distant relative or friend of the family that had stopped by that day and the first art sale I made was a cartoon I sold to her when I was trying to get some money to buy a comic and I guess you could say that my first solo art exhibition was the time she pinned my drawings up in her porch. She encouraged me to go to art collage, attended end of year shows and was there for my graduation. Since her illness worsened six years ago not a day has gone by that I haven't missed being able to go over to see her, tell her for the millionth time that I didn't like tomato sandwiches before tucking into a plate of cheese on toast with Branston pickle and tell her about my latest projects and ideas. I have no idea what direction my life would have taken had it not been for her support and the thought of pursuing this course without her makes me incredibly sad but onwards I go. I intend to see it through as I firmly believe its what she would have wanted.
I miss you nain x

* Welsh word for grandmother

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

Friday, 23 March 2018

Prehistoric Pinning: Drayton Manor Dino Land

As addressed in my previous Prehistoric Pinning devoted to (former) Dinosaur World Colwyn Bay I do love me a fibreglass dinosaur! Another park which catered to this love of model dinos was Drayton Manor which I visited back in 1995. A relaxing walk leading up to the Zoo it also had some handy placards providing information about dinosaurs and yes being an excitable, hormonal teenager I hammed it up for the camera... Drayton Manor Theme Park near Tamworth first opened to the public in 1950 after the Bryan family converted 80 acres of derelict land into this tourist attraction which now sees more than one million visitors each year. Always wanting to give the public something new and exciting they introduced Dinosaur Land to the park in 1975 before opening a phase 2 the following year that adjoined the park’s zoo and this was filled with life-size models of dinosaurs (as Wikipia put it, “to intrigue and enthrall the kids”) sadly I have been unable to find a list of all the dinosaurs that featured however when ‘Dino Land’ closed in 2009 the attraction had featured the following exhibits,

Dienosuchus
Tricertops
Spinosaurus
Iguanadon
Brontosaurus (Brachiosaurus)
Mammoth
Smiledon
Cavemen
Cave Bear
Baby T-Rex
Titanis
Pterodactyl
Pleisiosaurus
Egg Nests

I say “closed” it was actually re-located and re-named ‘Dino Trail’ in 2010 and I am pleased to report that some of the original dinosaurs feature in it, namely the T-Rex, Baby T-Rex, Euoplocephalus, Iguanadon, Dimetrodon, Titanis, Pachycephalosaurus, Ornithomimus, Styracosaurus, Protoceratops, Placodus, Tanystropheus, Tylosaurus, Elasmosaurus and the Nothosaurus.
Back in 2016 it was revealed that the old section, despite being closed for several years was still standing and offered some amazingly beautiful sights of derelict dinosaurs and cobwebbed cavemen! Seeing as the previous post featured some postcards from the attraction I thought I would also include the ones I have from Drayton Manor (referred to as 'Lost World') If I manage to track down others I will update accordingly.
My sincere thanks to Drayton Manor’s Education Officer Lee Green for his time and kindness.

Drayton manor 'Lost World' Postcards Iguanadon, Phororachos, Cave Bears and Sabre Tooth Tigers
© Arfon Jones 2018. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

"Well Hello Mr. Fancy Pants!"

Remember the 2008 writers strike? When 12,000 screenwriters and TV writers armed with placards demanding compensation from the large studios for all the DVD's and online download sales they were excluded from? As the US television industry ground to a halt most actors found themselves cooling their heels waiting for it to pass and one of them was one of my favourite actors, the King of the 'B-movies', Bruce Campbell star of The Evil Dead, Maniac Cop and Bubba Ho-Tep who used the strike as an opportunity to come over the UK to meet fans and promote his latest movie My Name is Bruce and I.. had appendicitis...

Robbed of the opportunity to meet one of my all time favourite actors I spent the next ten years monitoring the UK convention circuit hoping that he would come over and see us again and sure enough this month he embarked on a UK and Ireland tour promoting his latest book 'Hail to the Chin'. Confident that my appendix would not spoil my plans again Mrs Jones and I set off for London to attend Walker Stalker Con a convention devoted to The Walking Dead (a show that Bruce Campbell hasn't been in and I haven't watched) to meet one of my idols. Since my good friend David Lynch introduced me to the Evil Dead trilogy twenty years ago in art collage Bruce Campbell has been a constant part of my life. I've based a lot of my own style and my attitude towards life, my keenness to discuss his work played a small part in the courting of Mrs Jones, I've read his books, played his computer games and even dressed as his most famous role for Halloween (see previous post) and so to finally have the opportunity to meet the man himself, shake his hand and thank him for the happiness his work has given me was a genuine delight, he even complimented my shirt!
Hail to the King Baby!


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

Thursday, 8 March 2018

International Women’s Day: Milicent Patrick “The Beauty Who Created the Beast”

Today is International Women’s Day and we celebrate women that have inspired us, so I thought I would celebrate one of my favourite female artist Milicent Patrick. Regrettably not many of us recognise the name but we certainly know her work and that's it really, very little information about her and her life exists! We think her real name was Mildred Elizabeth Fulvia di Rossi and that she was the daughter of Italian baroness Baronesa di Polombara and architect Camille Charles Rossi and that she worked both in front and behind the camera but received very little onscreen credit for her work and that's about it, nobody really knows what became of her after the 1980s and even the Screen Actors Guild simply lists her as ‘missing’. But if we accept what we (sort of) know it makes her an amazing woman worthy of celebration as she would have not only been the first female animator hired by Disney but also the designer of the Xenomorph in It Came from Outer Space and the Metaluna mutant from This Island Earth. We know she worked as a mask maker on Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and The Mole People and we know that she created one the most famous, iconic creature designs for Universal, the Gill Man from The Creature from the Black Lagoon because during Universal’s marketing campaign for Creature from the Black Lagoon they billed her, “The Beauty Who Created the Beast” along with photos of her sketching the Gill Man and posing with the mask. Unfortunately this was to be her undoing however when make-up artist Bud Westmore took umbrage with her not crediting the entire team involved in its creation (she had in fact credited the staff on numerous occasions ironically a trait Westmore himself did not share) and he vowed never to never hire her as an artist again thus killing off a promising artistic career. This sad factor aside she was clearly a tremendously accomplished artist and responsible for one of the most iconic screen monsters ever created and I salute you Milicent Patrick, wherever you are!

© Arfon Jones 2018. All images are copyrighted throughout the world. I do not own nor do I claim ownership of the photographs featured in this article.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

"Shop smart- shop S mart!" My Ash Williams Chainsaw hand is up for sale!


If you go over to my eBay page you will find my trusty old chainsaw hand up for sale! Some of you might recall that back in in 2011 I was I found myself with only 24 hours to make a costume for a Halloween fancy dress party. Having opted to go as Ash Williams in Evil Dead 2 and armed with an empty economy size rice jar, red car paint, piece of wood, silver paint, bike chain, old screwdriver, some coke cans, unused brackets and screws, old wooden curtain pole, plastic lids, two plug hole covers some gaffer tape and glue I created this chainsaw hand measuring just over 2ft long.
It worked out well (the photo on the right was taken at the party) and seemed well received and after the party I had big plans to improve on it but unfortunately never got round to it and so its been underfoot in the studio ever since so I thought it was time I offered it up for sale if only to serve as the ‘bare bones’ for someone else’s Ash Williams cosplay? Interested? Follow the link and nab it!
 
© Arfon Jones 2018. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Friday, 2 February 2018

Halloween at Woolworths (1988)


Ordinarily the pages of this blog are devoted to items that I have in my collection and usually accompanied by detailed, relevant information about said item, well I thought I would try something different this time round! This post is devoted to things that I use to have, that I would like again... that I’ve tried to obtain for some time but to no avail so I thought I would leave it open to the world wide web! This is an advertisement from issue #20 of The Real Ghostbusters comic dated October 9th 1988. Woolworth in conjunction with Barratts in the build -up to Halloween inform us of this, “sweet way to spend Halloween” in the form of Barretts Halloween Party Packs! Their classic in store Pic ‘n Mix range offered everything from “Vampire Bats and Spooky Spiders to Toads and Silly Slugs” but they also offered two Alma Sweetie Sticks featuring a Witch and skeleton and three Alma Sweet Filled Hand Puppets of a Witch, Ghost and Slimer! I had the Slimer one back in the day, along with a Skull Sweetie Stick and although the glove puppet didn't last long (the ink would come off the plastic during play) I wish I had hung on to them! So I leave this open to you citizens of the internet, do you have anything relating to this offer? Don’t bother with eBay, I’ll save you a listing fee e-mail at arfon@arfon.net or simply comment below!

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

The 300th blog entry Doctor Who special: A 6th Doctor Who-down!

When I started this blog back in September of 2009 I never imagined I would write 300 posts but here we are! Well then, I used the 100th post as a way to go back in time and document an event that had happened before I had a blog recounting my trip to New York in November 2009 to visit Ghostbusters filming locations and then for the 200th I went back to October 2005 and shared my experiences of attending the Doctor Who Galactic Dinner event in Cardiff where I meet David Tennant and Billie Piper. Well this time we are sticking with the Doctor Who theme but going back just a little further, August 16th 2003. Location: The BBC Doctor Who Experience, Llangollen, North-East Wales the day I met the 6th Doctor, Colin Baker! Welsh model railway manufacturer Dapol (play on its founder’s David and Pauline Boyle's names) was first established in 1983 and they soon became a leading force in the production of model railway products and in 1988 they were granted a license by the BBC to produce a range of Doctor Who figures at their premises in Llangollen and this would later lead to the opening the 'BBC Doctor Who Experience' exhibition on their premises on the 17th of June 1995 an amazing collection of original props and costumes from the show’s twenty six year run (the largest permanent sci-fi exhibition of its kind at that time).   
It was open throughout the year and received an excess of 50,000 visitors a year but sadly by 2003 visitor numbers had dropped to around 15,000 and when the BBC decided to not renew their license with Dapol the decision was made to permanently close the exhibition. So on Saturday August 16th 2003 Colin Baker was invited to the site for what was to be the exhibition’s last big event to meet fans on what was Doctor Who’s 40th anniversary year.
I had been to the exhibition in the past but never met any of the Doctors and as I’ve mentioned countless times before the Colin Baker/ Sylvester McCoy years was when I first became a fan of the show seeing Colin fighting Cybermen made a life long fan of me so he is effectively my first Doctor and I was eager to meet him. Now equipped with my own transport I was able to embark on a 70mile drive to Llangollen my 1 year old daughter Catrin in tow to meet the 6th Doctor! Having followed the convenient Dalek signs posted around the village, crossing over the River Dee and taking a right at the foot of the bridge I parked outside the attraction just as some members of the Hyde Fundraisers, a group of Who enthusiasts that create replica props and costumes to help raise funds for all manner of good causes, began assembling their Daleks and this allowed me the opportunity to snap a photo of my daughter with her first Dalek!
We were at the very front of the queue and as we made our way past the Cyberman costume we stepped through the large Tardis door, only to see another Tardis in the corner and beside it was a novel part of the attraction a replica 1960’s living room with a family sitting on a sofa (Yes, you guessed it! With a child hiding behind the sofa!) with the first ever episode ‘An Unearthly Child' playing on the television. Inevitably a Dalek could then be seen behind the next corner and I remember how the strobe lighting, mirrored walls made it quite exciting.
  
Clips from various episodes would play on various monitors spotlighting each incarnation of the Doctor before eruptions of the theme, Daleks shouting “exterminate” or the Tardis dematerialisation sound effect would echo through the air and then we would see the familiar Tardis console room roundels on the walls and a replica console and there next to it sitting behind a table was Colin Baker the Sixth incarnation of the Doctor! He was very warm and friendly and seemed genuinely pleased to meet fans and I was able to tell him how he was my first Doctor before introducing him to Catrin who he really got on with, so much so that we had our photo taken together. Being so busy at this point we thanked him again and moved on to allow the incredible line up their chance to meet him and so we carried on with the rest of the tour costumes worn by the Doctor!

4th Doctor coat, waistcoat along with costumes of both fifth, sixth and seventh!

In the first window was an original cane used by William Hartnell the first Doctor, a pair of trousers worn by second Doctor Patrick Troughton on the ‘Two Doctors’ and coat worn by Jon Pertwee the third Doctor! The next window coat, waistcoat and famous scarf worn by Tom Baker the forth Doctor! The next window along had both Peter Davison and Colin Baker’s costumes as fifth and sixth Doctor along with a waistcoat worn by Colin in the 'Two Doctors' and at the very end of course was Sylvester McCoy’s getup as the seventh! These were still the early days of digital photography and I was still using film at this time so I would often find camera glare or hand prints on display glass would scupper my photographic skills! After seeing some of the clothes that once belonged to some of the companions were also on display, we got to my favourites the Cybermen! I was always impressed with this case as it displayed the development of the Doctor's second most popular villain via a collection of heads something that has remained with me ever since (something for a future post). Then it was onward to see the rest of his villains in the hall of monsters! Yeti, Ice Warriors, Silurians and Sea Devils were there (Not Morbius though, I don’t know where he was... I had to go to Blackpool to see him!) and sadly at this point some of the lights and animatronics didn't work but they were still impressive!
Vervoids, Fenric and Cheetah People and the giant brain from 'Time and the Rani' later we were outside standing next to Bessie, the third Doctor's faithful car, before going around the front to have numerous photographs taken with some more Hyde Fundraisers dressed as Sontarans and Cybermen and then that was it that was the last time I visited the BBC Doctor Who Experience the centre was permanently closed on the 30th December 2003 before being cleared out the following month relocating seven miles away over the English border, near Oswestry, the props and costumes were moved on to Blackpool before eventually being sold at auction to private owners. I would see Colin Baker countless times after that but this one will always be precious to me. So did you visit? Share your memories! And thanks to you all for reading the last 300 posts!  

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

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.

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