October 30, 2008


Let this serve as a lesson in the value of lamination.

The post I wrote more than a year ago which covered my Freddy Krueger Fan Club membership kit is finally complete now. As you can see, I've located my missing membership card! (And a collective sigh of relief is heard across the internet.) I rediscovered this tattered treasure among a pile of former contents of wallets past; some of which seems worthy of sharing here.

As a youth I was taken with the idea of fan clubs. What kid could resist the prestige, the exclusivity, and sense of belonging that came with sweet membership? It's like Ralphie said in A Christmas Story, "Honors and benefits, already at the age of nine!"

The notion of membership cards and their ability to prove ones affiliation with various elite orgainizations was especially appealing. They made fandom both official and tangible. I envisioned scenarios in which my loyalties to Nintendo would be challenged. In response I would produce this inarguable documentation of my devotion. Surprisingly, these situations never came to pass.

I joined the ranks of the Nintendo Fun Club having graduated from the official Atari Fan Club (which sadly offered no membership card.) Both clubs were essentially glorified magazine subscriptions. Nintendo Fun Club News turned into Nintendo Power which is actually still in production, and thankfully, every issue of Atari Age can be found here.

Members of the Robotech Defense Force received a lackluster batch of paper goods including "pin-ups" and decals. You know, I'm starting to wonder if they just took my money without ever recording my name into in any official Robotech Defense Force records.

I must be crazy to publish my "force number" on the internet; I'm just begging for identity theft! Actually I remember sitting in class, memorizing this meaningless number thinking that someday my impressive feat would come in handy. It never did, nor did the question ever appear on any of my grade school tests. Star Wars Fan Club members got a cool newsletter called Bantha Tracks (no link because you have to be a current fan club member to view the archive online). I still have all of mine, of course.

Years later I got suckered into another Star Wars society. I was lured in with exclusive mail order action figures (which currently reside in the darkness of boxes, out in my garage.)

My family bought a couple of Photon sets on Toys "R" Us clearance after the franchise was dead. It may have been a Laser Tag rip-off, but it certainly was fun. I still regret that I never made it to the massive official Photon gaming center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Why is it that when I was a teen, the act of taking and affixing a photo to something like this was absolutely impossible? The number of steps required and the level of planning made the task seem so daunting.

UPDATE: Fun Blog reader Travis offers this great audio track that was originally played in the Tulsa Photon center!

I worked at The Track recreation center in Destin, Florida one summer. They had go-karts, bumper boats, mini-golf, bungee trampoline— you know the stuff. Our manager instructed us to keep a supply of tickets (faded example seen above) in our pockets to appease any customer unpleasantness that might come up. And did it ever. The tickets retailed at $5.25 apiece, but our boss would say with a smirk "Don't worry, there's no way this place will start losing money if you hand these out often." And did I ever. The flash of a small paper square would magically shut up irate parents and transform them into smiling piles of gratitude.

I loved doing this. It was as good as handing out money. One time one of the other employees seriously badmouthed one of the customers for no good reason. The man was rightfully furious until I took his hand and filled it with every ticket I had on me; easily over a hundred bucks worth. The rage melted away and the whole family had a wonderful afternoon.

I also found the most confusing baseball card in the history of the game. Especially considering that I couldn't read when I first got it. What was that giant orb? What is that thing trying to bite it? Purely baffling to a kid. Wait a minute... I still don't understand it!

Well, thanks for looking. And for not pointing out that I signed my name like a girl.


Huck said...

Ahh, Kirk. You were not kidding when you told me about your membership addiction. Something tells me that you're just in a mid-life phase now that is void of any membership other than Netflix or Mazzio's Pizza punch card. I think once the kids are grown and you become an empty nester, your wallet will be stuffed with the likes of every golf club and private restaurant in a 500 mile radius. I did noticed your girly penmanship.

ACofAP said...

Wow...way cool! I had never heard of the membership cards. I would guess there is one for the KISS Army as well. As someone who likes retro items (I used to own a comic shop and now collect vintage bicycles) I enjoyed your collection of membership cards. Thanks for sharing.

John Rozum said...

I have that same Kurt Bevacqua card. Bizarre to say the least. Looking at it now, I'm noticing those fancy custom calipers made just for such an event. As a kid I thought those calipers defeated the purpose. If you blew your bubble large enough to reach the points, they'd pop it, and who's to say that bubble wouldn't have been even bigger?

Jody B said...

"I envisioned scenarios in which my loyalties to Nintendo would be challenged." BWA HA HA!!! Oh, man this is good. I still have my GI Joe membership kit and card. Comforting to know as a sixth grader, I was a member of a "Mobile Strike Force." I also at one point became a member of "Megaforce." Great post!!

Sam said...

So awesome. The Robotech Defense Force is my favorite one - used to love that show!

Anthony said...

i used to sign my name like a girl also. and i think i remember photons. maybe it was in the many wonderful 80s ads on my grandma's tv-recorded vhs of TRON.

VonCheech said...

i still have my lasertag member card...
playing in the lasertag stadium, in wildwood NJ, is one of my most fun memories of hanging with my brother.

email me a address kirk and i will make sure you get a
official spumco member club card too...

Kirk D. said...

huck- I don't show any of my current memberships because they're top secret. James Bond kind of stuff.

acofap- Yes, I've seen Kiss Army stuff on ebay. Somehow I was never into them (despite being a metal head) it's a good thing because my folks wouldn't have allowed me into their army, heh.

john- haha, once I figured out what that was, I had the very same thought! They have no idea how closely their product is studied by young minds.

jody b.- both of those sound like great clubs that I missed out on. Another one I would have liked to be in on was those Atari Activision clubs where you took photos of your score and sent them in and got a patch. I took the photos but never sent them in.

sam- We never could pick up the show so I just read the novels. I envied anyone who could actually watch.

anthony- wow, an 80s taped version of Tron with the commercials intact is probably the only way to improve on that movie. I hope that tape still exists.

voncheech- I'm just betting that lasertag had an even better facility than Photon. And I missed them both! Now I have to settle for those lame imitator at the local Go-Kart family fun center.