Bring back Star Wars at Christmas – result!

Around this time last year, I wrote this –

and after purchasing the 2013 Christmas edition of Radio Times I saw this –




Today, our entire family met for our pre Christmas get together lunch and as always, talk between us led to Christmases past and the memories we share. I happened to mention that Star Wars was back on TV during the holidays and we were all in fits of laughter after my dad recounted the time we brought our first VCR.

My parents must have been rather flush that year because they’d just splashed out and purchased a brand new colour TV for Christmas. Not just any TV though, this one was huge. It had an ultra modern ‘wired’ TV control (woooooo) so no more getting up to change the channel (at the time just three!), had huge silver dials down one side and was covered in enough faux wood panelling to worry Atari.

Not only that, but they also hired (because they were still incredibly expensive at the time) a behemoth top loading Betamax VCR to record some of the Christmas TV shows and movies….the first being, Star Wars. The problem with these early machines was the considerable delay between pressing the record button and when the machine actually began recording anything to tape – It’s not surprising really judging by the amount of mechanical parts contained within that whizzed (and groaned) into action. Now a delay is quite o.k for ad free channels like the BBC but for the other channel which had commercial breaks during movies and you wanted to exclude from your recording, you had to be a dab hand at judging when an advertisement was about to end and guess if the next thing would be another advertisement or the film beginning again. Add to that the delay with the record button and you can imagine the nightmare it could be to get it right.

Now imagine me, brothers and sisters all sat excited after watching the first part of A New Hope and my dad at the helm of the VCR having fully read the instructions (he say’s) and finger and/or whole hand, poised over the massive record button during the commercial break.

The movie starts again but oh no he’s messed it up, he’s pressed the rewind button by mistake. It’s on, it’s on and we’re all yelling and hollering and my dad’s flapping and trying to guess how much he needs to fast forward to counterbalance the rewind and trying not to record over the previous section of the film, and we’re all freaking out as we’re missing the movie and the dog starts barking and somebody drops a glass and….you get the picture – pandemonium. Poor dad, dog house all day.

This second instance concerns my mum that very same Christmas. Whenever she would see my Dad press the VCR record button, she would stop dead in mid sentence if she happened to have been talking at the time. It was quite some time, through tears of laughter, did we finally tell her that you didn’t have to remain silent when recording off the TV 🙂


Here’s a look at this years RT cover. Christmas simply wouldn’t be complete without it.


Robocop 2014 – Commodore 64

With my new (old) Commodore 64 setup on the desk, I’ve been enjoying a weekend of retro goodness and with thoughts of the new Robocop movie trailers still buzzing around in my head, it wasn’t long afterwards that thoughts drifted to the original C64 game.

It might have been multi-load hell (on tape that is) but to my mind it’s the best movie tie-in that Ocean software ever did… well as Batman on the Amiga of course…..and The Untouchables wasn’t too bad either.



It’s a great game on the Commodore 64, although…in my youth as a Commodore kinda guy through and through, it pained me to admit that I secretly coveted the ZX Spectrum version. Of course, something like that wasn’t admitted in the school yards of old –  but man when I played Robocop on my mates shiny new ZX Spectrum +3 and  already wowed by the fast loading of the integrated disk drive, I was just taken in on how much more playable the game was compared to the C64 – not that the C64 version is at all shabby you understand (yay Commodore!). However, the C64 version does have it’s plus points and that’s why its still fished out of my software library from time to time –

a) it is a great game

b) has some real sweet SID tunes

c) the tape version has the foot tapping-tastic Ocean loader tune

and d)

it contains that famous loader picture of Officer Murphy not looking so minty new.



It was whilst the game was loading did an idea begin to form to have a little fun with Photoshop and create a new loader image based on the Robocop 2014 film and then have it display on the C64. the Google to find me a nice image of the rebooted Robocop and a few other items  to help make up my composition. Here’s what I’ve come up with –


To prep the image for the  C64, I’ll be using a program called Retro-X

I’ve previously blogged about this neat little retro graphics converter (and other tools) which you can read here –

Retro-X has two modes for the C64 – High and Low Res. Sadly, no matter what I do, if I select High Res, the application crashes 😦 At first, I though it was because I was using Windows 7   but even trying with compatibility modes and running the app under Microsoft Virtual PC and VM images of Windows XP and Window 98 still shows the same error. If anyone else can get this to work, could you let me know how please?

Dammit….well at least it didn’t virtual bsod.



Low res it is for the time being then and I find that the Midtone H.Q setting and a little tweaking with the RGB sliders seems to give pretty good results. It’s also worth noting that there’s no need to resize the image prior to loading in Retro-X.



Once done, you can save the output as either jpg, png or bmp but as I want to load this on my Commodore c64, I’ve chosen the old Koala format.

To view the image, on the C64 I’ll be using two pieces of software. I’m sure there’s probably easier ways of doing this but I found that, as I use both of these programs for other things, I’m kinda used to using them.

The viewer is called Pic-Manager EX  and you can download in .d64 format from CSDB –

It’s very easy to use once you know your way around the interface and there’s also a few example pictures included too – WARNING, a couple of these  are pornographic so use with caution –  your C64 might melt!

To add my own image I’m going to edit the disk image Pic-Manager EX. For this, I’m going to use a rather handy dandy PC tool called – DirMaster v2.2  –

Launch DirMaster and open Pic-Manager EX.d64

You will see a list of the program files contained within Pic-Manager EX .d64 file including all of the example pictures. All you need to do to add your own Koala image is simply drag it into the disk menu.

Robo added.


Save the amended disk image which can be loaded on a Commodore 64 emulator or on the real thing after copying the image to a suitable device.  I’ll be using my SD2IEC.

Load PIC-Manager EX and press the C= key to continue after reading the instructions if you wish.




Press F1 to load the image list from the disk.


To view an image, you need to select it first. You can either select a single image or load multiple images to play back as a slideshow. To select an image, press any number key from 3 to 0, 3 being the first image file as 1 and 2 are the actual program files. e.g. if I wanted to select the image ‘PIC Titanic’, I’d press the number 4 key. Selected images will have a tick icon appear next to them.

To start the show, press F7.


‘Robocop 2014 by Ocean Software – probably not coming to a C64 any time soon’

IMG_4338 (Custom)

Eye candy.

Woo, the internet sure is full of interesting bits and bobs tonight. My eyes on stalks, jaw somewhere flapping around my knees at all this geek candy.

First up is a look at the new trailer (#2) for the 2014 Robocop film. I’m praying they don’t stuff this reboot up.

Noted in this months Retro Gamer Magazine newsletter – Sega’s Master System mascot Alex Kidd comes to back to our screens on a most unlikely platform. Yup, the ZX Spectrum. It’s courtesy of a fan made (free) homebrew release and I for one and so looking forward to playing this this weekend. Rubber key colour clash-tastic awesome-ness!

One of the landline telephone sets we have in our house is an old (and extremely heavy) Bell RTT from the 1950’s which we had converted for use with the current exchange. Its a nice period piece that’s both functional (although dialling each individual number is a very slow process) and fits in with the 1920/30 decor we both favour in our hallway.

How about something a little more functional but retaining a vintage style?

iPhone Steampunk telephone set.


And finally, how about a downloadable Mortal Kombat style 2D fighting game where combatants are monsters and villains of classic 80’s and 90’s horror movies?

Jason vs.Chucky?

Pinhead vs.Freddy Kruger?

Scream vs. Maniac Cop?

All of the above please.

Terradrome –

All hail the Internet, so say we all.

Happy Halloween

Wishing you a great gruesome Halloween.

My choice for this years Halloween movie night are –

Classic B movie fun with The Creature From The Black Lagoon…..because everyone loves a wobbly monster!


Followed by John Carpenter’s cult classic – The Thing…..because everyone loves a wobbly monster!

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What will you be watching tonight?

Punk insect.

I spent a few hours on this very sunny morning doing a few jobs around the garden and whilst sifting through and shredding the trimmings from one of the trees I’d been pruning (I’m trying to keep the right ratio between brown and green material in the composer), something caught my eye.

Handsome fella isn’t he….the internet says its from the sycamore moth.


More like Dave Lee Moth…..sorry 🙂