Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Video Boxes Were Better In The Old Days

Some good while ago, my mother brought home an old VHS cassette.

This isn't unusual; it seems like my family are the only people in the world who still use them, and everybody else on the planet is selling them for a quarter (okay, a dollar) apiece and then laughing at us. So we often pick up movies and things we wouldn't have found otherwise, and are often pleased with it.

This particular instance was special, for a few reasons.

First off, it was from an ancient dub of an even older Ultraman anime, and as I've stated in the past, I loves me some Ultraman.

Second, although the tape was old enough that it had acquired a permanent extremely loud buzzing sound on its soundtrack, it was entertaining (often for the wrong reasons) and had a gaggle of old previews for other tapes at the end of it.

Third, and most importantly to this post, is that the box itself is fantastic. It is seriously one of the most beautiful and incredible pieces of disposable entertainment related material I've ever seen.

It's not because of the artwork, although the front cover is actually pretty impressive (my sister color corrected it, so this image is prettier than the actual box itself!).

I'll point out that all those little spaceships were totally unrelated to anything that happened in the story. (Also, note that the company, F.H.E. [Family Home Entertainment], credits itself as "America's #1 Babysitter.")

Not even the back, really, although it has a rather typical description of ninety percent of the plot on it (darnit, you jerks! No spoilers!).

No, the thing that fascinates me and causes the box to move from merely being a typical box to something that motivates me to feel nostalgia for a time period I wasn't alive for is the fact that it's a layered box.

For those of you who don't remember the days of VHS (gosh I feel old), VHS tapes were usually sold in one of three ways. First, sometimes they would be a companion to some other item, and would have no actual permanent box to hold them. (I hate that, and it's no better when CDs and DVDs do it.) Sometimes, they would be sold in cheap cardboard packaging (which would be wrapped in plastic to be sold [much like a DVD case generally is], so that a tape couldn't be swapped out). And if the manufacturer was a high quality manufacturer (such as the Disney distributor), the box would be a large, book-shaped implement that completely protected the tape from dust and the like.

This tape's box was of the last sort, with a cardboard box to put it in. A box to protect the box.

Looking at it, I'm certain it's the oldest functional video cassette I've ever seen. Even the video store cassettes of things like Mighty Orbots and whatnot that my family used to rent were much newer than this thing. I know because most of those were also F.H.E. distributed, and by the time all of those were made, F.H.E. had completely different logos and the like.

I must also add that I'm horribly amused at old tapes where the previews (or "prevues," as this tape spelled it-no joke) are at the end, because if you don't like them, you can just ignore them. Ironically, I'm usually more interested in the previews on those old tapes, if only because it makes me intensely curious. (In fact, I was so flabbergasted by some of the "prevues" on this tape that I'm going to blog about them at some point.)

Anyway, that's all I have to babble on the subject of old VHS stuff that nobody else in the world cares about.

-Signing off.

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