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  • “Which Witch?” Game, 1971 – One of my favorite vintage Halloween Toys

    Posted on October 30th, 2009 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 6 comments

    witchin-good-halloweenIn earlier posts, I talked about some of my favorite Halloween toys from the 60′s & 70′s…The Mystic Skull Game, Coffin Bank, Candles, etc. I saved one of the best for last…Which Witch? from 1971!which-witch-1

    This masterpiece of cardboard fun came from an era when board games were no longer relegated to the flat world, and rose up in glorious three dimensions. Games like Mousetrap, Operation and Hungry Hungry Hippos transformed the single-layer concepts into mechanical miracles of light, sound, and moving parts. And marbles. Which Witch? is an engineering marvel that must have taken the brains at Milton-Bradley many LSD-laden hours to conjure up.

    which-witch-2It starts with a typical game board, covered in 60′s style cartoon graphics of the floors of four rooms (in what is apparently a haunted-type house infected with three witches). Next, cardboard walls rise to form the four rooms: The Broom Room, Spell Cell, Witchin’ Kitchen and Bat’s Ballroom. In the center is a chimney which (witch?) doubles as the means to the demise of snoopy little children who enter the abode. (If you pick the card that says, “Ghoulish Gerty Drops It Down The Chimney”, you have to drop the ruby red marble down the top of the roof; which-witch-chimney

    the marble can go in any of four dimensions and wreak havoc on the ill-fated children). In the Bat’s Ballroom, the final room, sets a staircase. The first meddling kid to reach the top of the stairs and land on the “Charmed Circle” (without being turned into a mouse or knocked off his keister) wins the game!

    Two young-girl pieces and two young-boy pieces (made of plastic and very 50′s Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys looking) try to make it through these danger-ridden rooms, desperately attempting to avoid the hidden traps and spells. The fear which-witch-8of being hit by a broom, pushed down the stairs, crippled on loose floorboards or plain old hit-in-the-head with a giant ruby marble doesn’t seem to thwart our intrepid explorers. They roll the die and move their spaces, pick a witch card and hope for the best.which-witch-box

    I remember playing this game with my mother (something of a witch herself) when I was a young kid. Once, I spent almost the entire game as a mouse. That’s no fun, because you don’t get to move. Another time I got knocked over like eight times in a row. The worst part about this game was that since it was made of cardboard & plastic, it didn’t last. Putting the cardboard walls together meant twisting, bending, and ultimately tearing the parts. My original game died an illustrious wrecking-ball death in the 1970s; I was lucky enough to come across one cheap a few years ago to replace it. You can still find them on eBawhich-witch-ghosty for anywhere from $20 to $100, depending on condition (and the market). These are only going to get rarer and more expensive, so if you dig this sort of thing I’d recommend finding one soon!

    which-witch-ballroomwhich-witch-kitchenwhich-witch-boardwhich-witch-stairs Happy Halloween!

  • Voodoo Tiki Tequila…Perfect for your Halloween Party!

    Posted on October 28th, 2009 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments
    Voodoo Tiki Tequila Silver
    Voodoo Tiki Tequila Silver

    If you’re old enough to drink and young at heart enough to enjoy a good Halloween Party, you’ve got to get your hands on some of this Voodoo Tiki Tequila for your Tiki Bar Halloween Bash!

    Let’s face it kids, I’m a Scotch drinker. But this stuff is so smooth and so nice, it had me hooked. We had a few friends over to open the bottle, and they all agreed…Voodoo Tiki Silver was comparable to Patron Silver, maybe even better. We tried it both on the rocks with salt and lime, and with pineapple juice. One of the ladies asked voodoo-tiki-tequila-bottlefor a margarita, the traditional (not frozen) kind, and said it was one of the best she ever had. Since we consider her a professional boozer, that means a lot.

    Even if you don’t dig tequila, the bottle alone is kool to have on your bar. Capped with wax and decorated with vintage-style Tiki graphics, it really does have “Magic inside”…a little Tiki totem swimming in the luxurious liquor. Lucky Tiki! Each bottle is HAND BLOWN (seriously) and takes 10 artisans to create. colleen-with-tiki-drinkIt’s a very mysterious-looking libation, and will add a nice kick to any Halloween shindig. Oh, and it’s really made in Mexico, very important for a tequila.

    Check out Voodoo Tiki’s website at http://voodootiki.com. They have a fun little story of how the magical liquor came to be, the different flavors available, and information on where to buy it (it’s available online if it’s not in your neighborhood). Get all the flavors and set them up with a kool light behind them, and you’ve got instant mystical Halloween Tiki decor!

    Traditional Margarita Recipe with Voodoo Tiki Tequila Platinum Silver

    1-1/2 Oz. Tequila
    1/2 Oz. Triple Sec
    1 Oz. Fresh Lime Juice

    Moisten rim of glass with lime peel, spin rim in salt. Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with cracked ice and shake. Strain into glass, and sip over salted rim. De-lish, baby!

    For info on a fun, Retro Halloween Party, check out the post HERE.

  • Halloween from the Past: Some of my favorite vintage Halloween toys!

    Posted on October 28th, 2009 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 6 comments

    I love Halloween. Always have, since I was a crazy little kid. Dressing up and pretending to be someone (or something) else has always been a lot of fun for me, from theater to Halloween parties. But costumes are only one part of the whole Halloween gig. For All Hallow’s Eve to be truly exciting, you have to have the right toys.

    Wind-Up Coffin Bank, late 60's-early 70's

    Wind-Up Coffin Bank, late 60's-early 70's

    If you were born before 1970, you probably remember that Halloween wasn’t always the mega-bucks commercialized holiday it is now. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…the commercialism of H’ween has produced some really spooky & kool decor and novelties at decent prices, from light-up skulls to talking life-sized monsters. But in the old days, Halloween was a simple, homey holiday. Most of the decorations that could be bought at the 5 and 10 were made of paper, thin plastic or tin, and didn’t last too long. Hell knows I tried to hang onto a lot of the old stuff, but cheap paper disintegrates after a few years. So it’s a pretty big deal to have something vintage for the season.

    I’ve been lucky enough to be able to hang onto a few things. My favorite is the mechanical Coffin Bank. I got this thing sometime in the early 1970′s, when Christopher Lee was Dracula and Dark Shadows was on every day at 4 o’clock. I was only about 4 or 5, but I remember knowing this was special. You’d wind it up, and put a penny on the coffin…then a spooky hand would come out from under the cover and grab the penny. I almost lost this thing in a box of stuff that was headed for the flea market some 20 years ago, and saved it at the last minute! (here’s a video of the coffin bank in action)

    I was born in September, 1968, and for my first Halloween my Mother (who also lovvvved Halloween) bought me a set of Witch, Scarecrow &

    Halloween Candles from 1968

    Halloween Candles from 1968

    Ghost candles. She kept them safe for me until I was old enough to keep them myself. Every year they get a place of honor among the Halloween decorations.

    My Mother's tin pumpkin with whistle nose, early 1950's

    My Mother's tin pumpkin with whistle nose, early 1950's

    My Mother managed to hold onto one Halloween toy from her childhood…a tin litho Jack-o-Lantern, with a plastic whistle for a nose. She said she used to carry it around trick-or-treating to hold candy. I could only guess she emptied it out a lot and went back out, because it’s not very big!

    After seeing the movie Beetlejuice, more than anything I wanted a

    Handbook for the recently deceased

    Handbook for the recently deceased

    Handbook for the Recently Deceased. Well, as far as I know they never sold one as a promo, so a couple of years ago I put my graphic design skills to good use and made my own. Well, the cover, anyway. The rest of the book is a 1950′s Betty Crocker cookbook.

    In 1976, our family took a trip to Orlando, Fl. We were living in cold, dank, dreary, icky South Jersey at the time, and the flowers and palms of the Southland beckoned us to stay. It would be another 24 years before I finally moved to FLA, but the memories of paradise (especially Disney World) stuck with us for a long time. My father was so enthralled by the Pirates of the Caribbean ride that he turned my bedroom into a Pirate Room, built me a Pirate Ship in the yard, and made

    Treasure Chest built by my father around 1976.

    Treasure Chest built by my father around 1976.

    me a treasure chest to go with it, filled with trinkets and coins. The Pirate Ship fell apart years ago, but I managed to keep the Treasure Chest…and the Pirate Skull that hung on the front of the ship. Now, every year, they come out to play at Halloween as part of the decor!

    This year, my Halloween Party’s theme was “Disco of Death”. I decorated the house like a 70′s disco, and wore a 70′s white tux and purple ruffled shirt as my costume. (My wife wore a disco dress and roller skates!) To make the party more authentic, I did some research on 1970′s partying, via Southern Comfort’s Happy Hour Mixology Guide & Primer

    Cover, Southern Comfort's Mixology Book & Guide to Astrology, 1972

    Cover, Southern Comfort's Mixology Book & Guide to Astrology, 1972

    Of Happy Hour Astrology, c. 1972. This groovy little party pamphlet was not only printed in full vibrant color, but featured the latest and greatest hair styles, hip fonts, and drink recipes with a simple way to improve the flavor of any cocktail…by using Southern Comfort in place of rum, gin, vodka or rye! By the way…us vogue with Virgos, according to

    Inside, Southern Comfort's Mixology Book & Guide to Astrology, 1972

    Inside, Southern Comfort's Mixology Book & Guide to Astrology, 1972

    this booklet, is the “Cold Toddy”…2 oz Scotch, 1 oz water & 1/4 teaspoon of sugar. All I can say is, what a great way to ruin good Scotch! (Of course they admit it would taste better with Southern Comfort!)

    Well, that’s all for today kids. I’ve got some more fun Halloween stuff coming up this week, including a review on a smooth & spooky tequila that goes by the name of Voodoo Tiki Tequila. This is great stuff, and the bottle is the craziest, man! So until next time, have a spoooooky night, baby.

    -”Halloween” Chris Pinto

  • Quicky: Halloween Party A Success, ’53 Chevy Giving Me A Headache

    Posted on October 26th, 2009 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments
    Chris Pinto's 1953 Chevy Belair Custom Hot Rod

    Chris Pinto's 1953 Chevy Belair Custom Hot Rod

    Later this week I’ll have a fun post all about our annual Halloween Bash…this year, the DISCO OF DEATH. I’m still goin through pix and video, so give me some time…

    Meanwhile, my 1953 Chevy Belair Hotrod is giving me grief. I wanted to park it in front of the house, by the Disco of Death entrance for the party. I worked on it on & off for two weeks, getting it ready, sealing the top in case of rain, rebuilt the carb etc. On the day before the party I go to start it up, and the battery is stone cold dead. I jumped it with my battery charger, and it barely turned over. So I let it charge overnight. Party day, I go to start it up and it gives me grief. Won’t start on the first, second or third try. I let it set a second, and on the fourth try…no, it didn’t start, the starter motor fried. 55 year old starter never gave me any trouble until Saturday. So the Chevy spent the party sitting in the garage looking pretty.

    Also, 20 minutes before the party, 1/2 of the electricity in the house went out, including my sound system, buffet table and all the lights and effects outside. I blame this on my father’s ghost (more to come on that later in the week). Luckily I was able to get everything back on (blown breaker) in time for the party!

    More on the party tomorrow…

  • Been Setting Up For My Big Annual Halloween Bash…

    Posted on October 24th, 2009 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments

    tikiweenEvery year since 1986, in one form or another I’ve hosted a wild, crazy Halloween party, complete with Spider Cider, Texas Chainsaw Chili, and wacky decor.

    It all started when this hot chick I knew in high school wanted to have a Halloween party at her house. She lived with her mother in a very secluded, basically abandoned house in the middle of the pine woods in South Jersey. They didn’t have electricity, so it was dark, spooky and perfect for a scary party. Now this girl wasn’t exactly rolling in lettuce, so she asked me and a couple of friends if we could all chip in and bring some food, etc. No problemo. Until she handed out a list with each of us shelling out about 10 clams a piece (in 1986). Since none of us were in the money either (I was 18) weaponswe put up a fuss, and she decided rather irrationally to scrap the whole idea. I said we’d still come, but ease up…I couldn’t manage 5 lbs of potato salad, but I could scape up 1 lb. She wouldn’t have it, so I told everyone (including her) we could have it at my house, I’d have 2 bottles of soda and some chips, and everyone could bring whatever they wanted, but didn’t have to bring anything. Turned out to be about 10 of us, and we had a blast, and no one went broke.

    Till this day, I always tell everyone they’re welcome to bring something, but don’t fell obligated. Over the years I started making a few bucks, and started blowing a few on the party, and still stick to the original idea…nobody has to bring anything except themselves and a costume.

    hermanThe following year, 1987, people started asking if I was having the party again, since we all had such a good time at the first one. Now I had a few chris-alex-halcoins to spend, so I said sure, what the hell, and started planning. I remember I spent a grand total of $12 on that first party I had money to spend on, which included some of the staples that are included with the party today: Pretzel rods, sour cream & onion dip, Ruffles chips, Hummus with Pita (I know that sounds out of whack. My mother was a belly dancer at the Middle East club in Philly in the 60′s, that’s where that idea came from), M&Ms, Spider Cider (my high school girlfriend’s recipe…still make it the same as she did 22 years ago), generic brand cheese doodles (They were called “No Frills” at Pathmark back in the 80′s), and Chili, which I now refer to as Texas Chainsaw Chili, because as I was making it The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part II was on TV, and it just happened to be about the weirdos using people to make Chili for a cookoff contest. Wow, how’s that for a run-on sentence?

    marilyn-and-the-drjpgOver the years the party has taken on some different forms…in the early to mid 90′s, I had a lot of theater and musician friends who made it fun. We even had a live band play a few times. In the late 90′s the decor began to get more elaborate as I began using props from my dinner theater company, Stardust Productions, in the decorating. In the early 00′s we moved the party down to Key West’s Fantasy Fest a couple of times. But for the last 5 years it’s been held here at the Tiki Bar (our house) in South Florida, with a different theme every year. on 2005 it was a Roaring 20′s theme. 2006 was a Pirate Theme, 2007 was the 666th Annual Asylum Awards, 2008 an Underwater theme, and This year it’s Disco of Death at Studio13, a 70′s theme. The whole house is decorated, every room; the front entrance has been made to look like an abandoned Disco that’s been taken over by Zombies. The middle room is a butcher bricked-upshop. The kitchen has been transformed into the Chock full of Guts coffee shop. And the Tiki Bar is…well it’s spooky enough at night with the black light and the Tikis, so it’s just the Tiki Bar!

    Some things that have remained the same every year: The Chili, Cider, Hummus, Chocolates, Herman the Skull, Creme Soda, black light, vintage music.

    I used to decorate the day of the party. That was 20+ years ago. This year I’ve been working on the decor since late August. I finished everything except some little details and spider webs last night. All I have to do on party day is cook the chili, set up the bar, and buy ice. Buy this time (1:30am) party night, I should be three sheets to the wind surrounded by beautiful women and skulls!