Whatever Happened To… – Laser Time #355

Ever wonder whatever happened to your favorite movie studio, toy maker or, uh, ballpit? Well, that’s what we’re trying to get to the bottom of on this week’s episode of Laser Time! It’s a potpourri of scandal, bankruptcy, and tragic acquisition as we try to gumshoe some sense into the disappearance of numerous titans of 80s/90s entertainment and commerce…

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13 thoughts on “Whatever Happened To… – Laser Time #355

  1. Chris were you thinking of The Unusually funny factory Dinosaur cards? Brett and everyone else here who doesn’t know, should be happy to know that on my trip across the border into Canada the Toys R’ Us brand is still going strong apparently. I guess Chris didn’t want to repeat his story of working at Suncoast video but I’ll always remember seeing Final Fantasy: Spirits within on 11 screens at once outside the store.

    DZ was amazing! I have some great memories of going there with my brother and sister, the bungee cord room, and the even had a zip line of sorts where you were elevated high up enough you could do a complete back flip before landing on the piles and piles of padding below. Here’s an amazing hidden jewel of a video showing of a DZ near where I lived. youtube(dot)com/watch?v=vWK64LNM3Xk

    Can I also suggest the Warner Brothers Studios store for this topic? It was amazing to me as a kid to see all this movie merchandise, and of course Looney Toons merchandise. Gremlins hiding in the sore rafters, Tim Burton Batmobile phones, the one close to me even had a Marvin the Martian rocket ship kids could go inside. youtube(dot)com/watch?v=hfhM3Rgk1OY
    I’ll also throw in Chi-Chi’s and Bill Knaps, which I can remember visiting a few times before they were closed.

    1. I was quite surprised the WB store shut down, especially at the heels of the HP film franchise taking off. Thought that would’ve helped sustain it. Although with the stores closing, I got a killer deal on a superman S ring…and other goodies.

  2. One of the coolest memories of my childhood was when my grandparents, who owned and personally ran a Coverall Cleaning franchise, were contracted to clean all of the Discovery Zone locations in central Ohio. They would work overnight, traveling from DZ to DZ, cleaning up after gross children. I got to go with them one time, and had the privilege to play in two different completely empty Discovery Zones, a dream come true. That night, I learned that the clear plastic bubble-windows actually open for cleaning when I almost fell out, not realizing it had been opened. I remember my dad picking me up at 4 AM (he’s a musician and had been playing that night) and just being so ready to go to bed after a night of playing harder and later than I’d ever been awake.

    My grandparents got screwed out of a ton of money they were owed when DZ filed for bankruptcy and abruptly closed the central Ohio locations, and had to close their business. It totally sucks, but since they owned the machine that cleans the ball pit balls (yes, it exists! It basically sucks the dirty balls [heh] up through a tube into the machine, disinfects them, and spits them back out into a mesh bag) I had BAGS AND BAGS of ball pit balls they’d been left with to play with for the rest of my life. Take that, Discovery Zone!

  3. Brett should have been on, to balance all the talk of things that disappeared from Florida with talk of Phar-Mor in Illinois, and Showbiz Pizza instead of Chuck E. Cheese. I just watched some Showbiz commercials, and they really pushed the pizza for a while. I don’t remember if it was that good once upon a time, I know after Chuck took over it wasn’t,

  4. So, I’ve been listening to all of the episodes of VGA from the beginning (currently on episode 236, so nearly caught up). The “here’s what you’ve been missing” spots on VGA made me decide to become a Patron and now I’m going through all the back episodes of Bonus Time. But I thought, “Surely there’s no need to listen to all the episodes of Laser Time, too.” Then I listened to this episode. Now I have another 354 old podcasts to catch up on. Damn you, Antista!

    Also, I really miss Electronics Boutique, which you guys mentioned. I remember going in back in high school and trading in a bunch of used PC games (Delta Force 2, Descent 3, Quake 2…a few others) and an old flight stick that I had bought for X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter. I used the store credit plus my first paycheck from Target to buy a magenta GameBoy Color (I could have gotten one for the same price and kept my stuff if I had been patient and waited for Target to get some in stock, but it was all DMGs and Pockets for the foreseeable future at the time, and I wanted to play Pokemon Red in color, damnit). I don’t remember trading it in anywhere when I bought my GBA SP in college, but I can’t find a trace of that old boy anywhere I look. Anyway, EB games was a great store – like GameStop with heart. I also remember that they had an entire SNK section, full of ridiculously highly priced games and Neo Geo Pocket Colors slowly collecting a fine layer of dust. I wish I had had the foresight to invest in those instead.

  5. We just got Publix in my parts of Virgina last year, replacing Martins/Ukrops. They’re ok, a little pricey. Fancy pants Short Pump got a wegmans, that. that is a fancy pants store.

    Ew gross! Food Lion! That’s a monopoly here, and their stores have no variety, not enough lines open, redneck city.

    Phar-Mor was a store we didn’t go into growing up because mom thought the area around it was too busy. They sponsored the 1992 National US Gymnastics competition during all this money scandal?? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dfZTRt60cg

  6. I worked for Albertson’s and the French bread is awesome but, at least in my town, Safeway was the better store.
    EB – Electronics Boutique will always live on in my memory as the place I went to just _look_ at video games even if I didn’t have the cash to buy one. That’s not something I really have the slightest desire to do nowadays.
    Trampoline at 40. I go to a lot of kid’s birthday parties, just the nature of being a parent of young kids. Sometimes, not often but sometimes, they are held at trampoline parks. The first time I went to one I jumped all over the place. As I did so, I noticed that I was the only 40 year old doing so. The next day … that’s when I realized _why_ I was the only 40 year old doing so.
    Oh, Portrait Studios are still very much a thing if you have kids.

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