Monday, December 31, 2012


Hey, all. Sorry I haven't written anything here in a while. The holiday season has been really hectic, plus I've been distracted by other stuff (such as indie games, TV Tropes, and Digimon). I promise I will talk about the next obscure thing soon...ish. I'll even say a little bit about it now.

As I said, it was made by Playskool, but it wasn't really a toy. It was a bunch of books called Magic Touch Books (no, not the book series called Magic Touch, those are completely different).

I sadly don't have mine anymore, but I can't really say I miss as much as, say, a book I loved when I was little and my wonderful sister got for me on PaperbackSwap. But the thing about these was they were like the Living Books series, which was insanely popular at the time, but these were actual, physical books!

Again, I'll have more to say on these books relatively soon, but really, at the moment it's more important that I spend time with my family. See ya!


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Playskool Talkback Voice Recorder

Sorry, no video today. Like I said, I don't actually have what I'm talking about anymore, so I can't really show it. And since nobody else seems to have had one, I don't have any pictures or other videos.

Anyway, what I'm talking about is the Talkback Voice Recorder from Playskool. It was, of course, a voice recorder, but it was actually more than that. See, on the top of the thing was a little wheel that you could use to change the speed of your voice. And you could change the speed while the sound was playing, too. You really can't do that anymore (not even in Audacity).

OK, to be fair, the DSi and 3DS can do that, too, but... let's not get into that.

Instead, I'll talk about a few other things that I loved about it. For one, if you pressed the Record button but remained completely silent, it would actually buzz when you held down the Play button. Yes, it would play a buzz that you could change the pitch of with the speed wheel.

I guess I should explain something: I really don't like sudden loud noises, especially buzzing. That is, unless I can do it myself. When I first discovered this feature, I didn't like it and so didn't use it. However, I eventually grew out of my dislike for that particular noise, and I used it more frequently (when it worked, because it would more often record background noise or just be totally silent). And it also helped that I could change the pitch, because random pitch changing is something that I especially love, for some reason.

Another cool thing was that it included some goofy stock sound effects: there was a telephone, a monkey, a "boing", and... something else, but I can't remember now. I used to like randomly pressing the buttons over and over again, and the funny thing is that by doing that, it would occasionally play the wrong sound effect. Like, you'd hear the "boing" a lot of times, and then all of a sudden the monkey, and then back to the "boing".

The audio quality wasn't total crap, surprisingly. Usually cheap voice recorders sound absolutely terrible. Case in point, I have a voice recorder / refrigerator magnet that my brother-in-law and I use to make pop culture references. Only problem is: it sounds absolutely horrid. You can barely understand what the other person is trying to say.

Not with the Talkback! The cost of the Talkback was probably lower than the voice recording refrigerator magnet, and it sounded a thousand times better. Especially acoustic coupling (holding it right up to a speaker to record from it). Of course, this was long before the days of digital voice recorders that you can connect to your computer via USB (which didn't even exist back then), so that's even more impressive.  If only I still had it...

Actually, I can't really say that it isn't in the house anymore. My mom took it away a long time ago, and I haven't seen it since. Now I'm wondering if she still has it, or what the deal is with it. I don't want to know.

Tomorrow, another Playskool thing! See you then!


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Video: Tranzformin' Z-hicles

As promised, here is the video:

Tomorrow I will talk about something obscure that, unfortunately, I don't still have. I may make a webcam video about it anyway, though. Til then!


Welcome to the World of Obscurity!

My name is Johnny Swanson, but you probably guessed that from the title. Every day, I will talk about obscure stuff: toys, games, electronic stuff, you name it. If you don't know about it, I do. You may find it interesting, or you may decide that I'm too boring and just walk away. If you remember what I remember, then congratulations.

First obscure thing: Tranzformin' Z-hicles. This was a Transformers knock-off (duh) from renowned metal-crafting company Maisto. Unfortunately, it seems almost nobody remembers them. I did do a Google search for the three antagonists, or "Badbots" (most clever name in the world, I don't think), and that's how I was able to find out the name of the product.

The three Badbots were called Wirez, Kakak, and B-Tel. The protagonists (I forget what their collective name was) were Fyn, Gawgle, and Bullzie.

A video will be coming later today and, since this is one of the few things I will talk about that I actually have, you'll get to see all of the Z-hicles and the signs that came with them. If you want to look for yourself, though, Amazon has a listing for the Badbots, and a few of them are also available on eBay. The others, unfortunately, are not.