Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Wet weather? Bring it on!

It's only October 1st and I'm already getting that zookeeper's wife feeling, as I try to keep two mancubs inside whilst the rain hammers down. So this morning I decided, enough is enough, I'm going to throw some money at this right at the beginning of the winter (rather than be keeping zoo until the January sales): after a bit of research I found these terrific waterproof dungarees, £24.99 from Little Trekkers

There are some brilliant Togz waterproof all in ones for babies and toddlers from waterproofworld. You can get them complete with these booties which are fantastic as they quickly slip on over soft shoes and are fleecy warm, completely waterproof and a steal at £7.99.

And if this still isn't what you're looking for (and I'd have to have some serious bribes to get my eldest in rainpants, it has to be said) then check out these rain ponchos, also from waterproofworld. They come in loads of different styles (the ladybird and the dinosaur ones are pretty cute, there's a camo one for boysy boys but I went for this bee one so I can spot him in a crowd :)) and you can get them with matching wellies and umbrella. £17.99 for the set. Sorted.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Transformers Vs Scooby Doo: 10 movie remakes of great cartoons

Love it or loath it, some of your favorite cartoons have probably already been subjected to the "reboot" treatment in an attempt to get them to appeal to a whole new audience. Here's five that suck so badly they're actually pretty delicious to revisit. But what's this? Could it be that a few of these actually improve on their humble beginnings on kid's TV?

Garfield (2004)
On the plus side, Bill Murray sounds like he’s always been the voice of Garfield - his effortlessly sarcastic wit seems perfectly suited to the lasagne addicted fat feline. On the minus side, pretty much everything else about this film sucks.
The acting’s not up to much and the animation’s nothing short of catastrophic. The original comic strip and cartoon series didn’t venture to far from Garfield’s litter tray, so this attempt to stretch things to well over an hour ends up a mangy mess.
I did not know that... Bill Murray recorded most of his audio for this while filming “The Life Aquatic” on a boat in Italy.
Garfield on IMDB; Garfield official site.

Transformers (2007)
Hardcore Transformers fans who remember the 1980s hit cartoon show (and Timmy Mallet on Wackaday) may feel a little peeved that, in a departure from the original series , Spielberg and co. have decided to go with some more modern vehicles. So Bumble-bee’s no longer a big yellow VW Beetle! Boo! However, those who can’t remember the original (pretty much anyone under the age of 30) will love the non-stop robo-action.

I did not know that... The 1986 “Transformers the Movie” was one of Orson Welles last ever films – one of his first was Citizen Kane.
Transformers on IMDB; Transformers cartoon opening credits; Transformers official site.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)
So you know your Samurai Pizza Cats from your Biker Mice from Mars? A crazy concept, but definitely the ultimate animal/mutant based cartoon action series set in a sewer... featuring a talking rat.

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” was an animated TV show in the 80s, a trilogy of live-action movies in the 90s and more recently a computer animated movie (TNMT). The films are largely terrible – but keep an eye out for a rather snazzy-looking Vanilla Ice in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze. Classic.
I did not know that… In the UK the TV series was called Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles as the word “ninja” was deemed too violent.
TMNT on IMDB; TMNT cartoon opening credits; Partners in Kryme, Turtle Power trailer.

Scooby Doo (2002)
This is about as close as you’re going to get to the original series without going back to full animation. All the one liners are there, as are all the trademarks that made the original such a smash hit. There’s also a healthy dose of self mockery to ensure the grown-ups enjoy the ride.

Anyone who found Scrappy Doo more than a little annoying (who didn’t?!) in the original will love the twist at the end. The only mystery that still remains is this – what the hell IS a Scooby Snack??
I did not know that… In an early incarnation of the film, a certain Jim Carrey was attached to play Shaggy.
Scooby Doo on IMDB; Scooby Doo cartoon opening credits; Scooby's official site.

Tales of the Riverbank (2008)
Though not strictly a cartoon, this new movie is certainly a contender: when Johnny Morris first put his voice to these riverbank animals in the 1959 TV series of the same name, it could have gone either way.

But it turned out that making animals look like they were talking was a big hit (who’d have thunk it?) and the show became a cult classic. Today the lovable Hammy Hamster (voiced by Ardal O’Hanlon – a veritable Father Dougal with fur) again joins GP, Owl and friends in a cracking, feature-length riverside romp. With a winning, British voice cast and an innocently jolly story, this movie is set to become a firm family favourite.
I did not know that… In the ‘60s TV show, the animals were manipulated using peanut butter: as their tongues worked to get it off the roof of their mouth, they looked like they were talking.
Tales of the Riverbank on IMDB; Tales of the Riverbank official site.

The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle (2000)
The Godfather, Goodfellas, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Heat, Casino... The list of classic Robert De Niro movies rolls off the tongue almost too easily. One best forgotten effort, however, is this half-animated half-live-action effort.

The puns are silly and some of the gags will go over most kids’ heads, but seeing a double oscar winner acted off the screen by a cartoon moose and animated beaver makes this a worthwhile watch.
I did not know that... “The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle” came about as a combination of two shows – “The Bullwinkle Show”, and “Rocky and his Friends”.
Rocky and Bullwinkle on IMDB; Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoon opening credits.

Thunderbirds (2004)
The original puppets had tons more magic and charisma than the ‘live’ actors in this shoddy remake. Creator of the original TV series, Gerry Anderson, even refused to accept a $750,000 offer to write an endorsement of the movie for its release.

A huge flop in America, one of the film’s only saving graces is the textbook performance of Sophia Myles as Lady Penelope. If only they’d cast Noel Gallagher as Parker...
I did not know that... The movie is directed by Jonathan Frakes who played Riker in Star Trek.
Thunderbirds on IMDB; Busted - Thunderbirds are go! music video;

Flintstones (1994)
Translating an animated classic into a live-action movie using real life actors isn’t always easy. Perhaps the most important piece of the jigsaw is the casting. In the case of 1994’s Flintstones they soooo nearly got it right.

John Goodman as Fred Flintstone – spot on. Elizabeth Perkins as Wilma – made for the role. Rick Moranis as Barney Rubble – all good. Rosie O’Donnell as Betty Rubble? – Um... At least the sound-track (courtesy of the BC52s) sounds great!
I did not know that... Halle Berry plays a character called Sharon Stone (get it!?)
Flintstones on IMDB; BC52s - Meet the Flintstones music video; Dress up Fred!

Inspector Gadget (1999)
There are a few too many departures from the original cartoon series in this Disney feature. Matthew Broderick is well cast in the role of the man himself – but Rupert Everett seems too suave to be the evil “Dr Claw”. His face was never revealed in the 80s cartoon series, and you can’t help wondering whether it should have stayed that way in the movie.

The action sequences are great though. It’s essentially Robocop for kids.
I did not know that... Inspector Gadget has 14,000 gadgets in his body.
Inspector Gadget on IMDB; Beatbox flute version of Inspector Gadget theme (more fun than you'd think...)

Speed Racer (2008)
Prepare for multi-sensory overload with this remake from the guys that brought you the Matrix. Speed Racer was a jolly little manga-based cartoon from the 60s. For the live-action version (baring more of a resemblance to some kind of outlandish video game than an actual movie) they’ve turned the action up to eleven and the colour dial up to at least twelve. What this lacks in plot, it certainly makes up for in pace.

I did not know that... The role of “Racer X”, which was eventually taken by Lost’s Matthew Fox, was turned down by Keanu Reeves.
Speed Racer on Wiki; Speed Racer TV show opening credits.

Vote now!

WAIT! Don't switch off - I'm giving you a no politics guarantee. But have you voted for your favourite UK google image from a selection designed by UK schoolkids? They basically just had to rewrite the word 'google' in a creative way, but some of them are really imaginative... neat idea!

I'm biasing your opinion in the 4-6 age group here because this one is just too perfect to ignore, but there are tons of other great Googles and you have to get your vote in before the end of September...

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Perfect pinata party

Looking for a little inspiration for your kids' party? Check out the huge range of Pinatas over at the Woolworth's online store. If it were up to me (which I know it isn't... have to keep reminding myself that it's not, actually, my birthday!) I'd have this cool Tiki one. In fact I think our nearly-six-year-old would actually go for the Pirates of the Caribbean treasure chest, particularly as it works with pulls instead of having to hit the treats out (I know, I know, but he's really only in it for the chocolate...).

Could cheer up a rainy grown up party too? What mum wouldn't want to show Mickey Mouse the stick after a glass or wine?

Monday, 22 September 2008

7 Classic Kid's TV Shows Clearly Conceived on (Bad) Acid's list of 7 wacky classic kid's shows from the US has a few European classics sorely missing... but it's still good for a Monday morning :)

read more | digg story

Friday, 19 September 2008

Make your own bat puppet

Just came across a fantastic activity sheet on how to make your own bat puppet on the Wild Over Waterways (WOW) site. Looks easy to do and pretty realistic, so not for the feint hearted. If fact I think there's even an activity sheet for making your own bat wings, should you fancy. For a calmer afternoon (with nice, quiet girls) there's also sheets on making origami swans, frogs, boats and even a stencil for your watering can.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Life saver

Even before you walk into a kids' bedroom you can tell if they're a boy or a girl. Are you tripping over cars/ lego/ blue stuff or dolls/ clothes/ pink stuff. Here's one for the unisex bedroom or playroom (should you be lucky enough to have a designated playroom...), a delicious nautical life ring cushion. Looks great, feels comfy, built to last plus you save £5 if you buy them both together. Available from TGLTC.