RECORD STORE TALES #915: I Was Young Tony Stark
Bob and I used to fancy ourselves inventors. We designed our own video game — Vanguard 2 — but we had our sights set much higher than just Atari’s throne. Unfortunately many of our designs were thrown out over the years, but some fragments survive. I know I had designs for 10 more video games, though they appear to be lost. What was preserved indicates something far more ambitious.
According to the evidence at hand, we weren’t trying to be the next Bill Gates. We were trying to be Tony Stark. Alongside innocent designs for video game watches, are sketches for weaponized spacecraft, aircraft and submarines. We were little weapons dealers!
It’s hard to pin an exact date on these designs but they are likely from 1984. It appears I was working with a couple shell company names: “Lado Industrial” and “Perseus Industries” are two. Spelling is inconsistent throughout but you can get the gist of what I was going for. Let’s have a look at these designs.
The Kid Looking to Weaponize Space: The Perseus Industries 9000 (“P.I.N.T.”)
This spaceship resembles an oversized engine pod from a Y-Wing starfighter. It is armed with rockets, lasers and proton torpedoes, apparently. The landing gear is clearly designed after the F-104 Starfighter’s.
Also note that there were options. For those with more expensive tastes, add on the detachable laser pod!
The Sea Was Not Safe from this Little Captain Nemo: Unnamed submarine craft
Missiles, torpedoes, lasers and radar dot the surface of this heavily armed sea-beast. A work in progress, it remains unnamed and unfinished. Still deadly.
On the back of this paper, and almost too faint to read, is a note for our school principal: “Dear Miss Beale, thank you for letting us have an Oktoberfest party, and thank you for inviting Miss Oktoberfest.” They were Oktoberfest crazy at that school. They would hammer that Bible into us and give me shit for wearing a Judas Priest shirt…but sure, have Miss Oktoberfest come to the school.
The Kid Wants to Light Up the Sky: Perseus Industries King (“P.I.K.”) war jet
I’m not sure how well this this would fly. Two laser turrets (ventral and dorsal) plus a forward facing laser makes this a heavily armed plane. It doesn’t look particularly aerodynamic or stealthy. It’s purpose was to punish!
The Weapons Dealer in Your Home: Lado Industrial satellite TV system
Deviously, I named my home electronics company Lado Industrial. Can’t have a weapons dealer selling video games to kids. I was smarter than I thought I was! One of the neighbours at the lake had a satellite dish and boasted that he could watch any major league baseball game he wanted. This was clearly the future, the high-end of the TV experience, and I wanted in.
I created a sketch of the dish, the base mechanism, and the remote. Note that the remote has a speaker/microphone and calculator functions. While it may appear advanced, it is still a wired remote.
The Kid Had Ambition: The Watch that Can Do Anything
I feel like Indiana Jones with only half the map. This watch was not designed with Bob. I was over at Allan Runstedtler’s house, and his dad had this crazy computer paper. Sadly this drawing was torn in half and only the bottom remains. Many details are lost, such as the name of the watch, and what company name I was planning to sell it under. However, many details remain, and they are funny as hell.
Ignoring the horrendous spelling, let’s run through the features.
- Double strap
- Lifetime guarantee
- 5 video game cartridges included: Defender, Pong, Pacman, plus exclusives Space Chase and New Slot Racers
- 4 controllers included: 2 joysticks, 2 paddles
- Pinball attachment
- “Super battery” and recharger included
- Built-in printer (“data readout”)
- Built-in disc drive
- TV plug-in cable
- AM/FM/CB/shortwave radio
- 2000k built in, 16k add-on available
- Detachable keyboard
- Guaranteed to play “every game exactly the same as the arcade”
- Blank cartridges available to copy games
- And a strategy book (for strategies)
- PLUS BONUS – We’ll give you a Pacman key chain free!
All this for just $299.00! That is $200.99 off the original retail price!
Even in 1984 dollars, that’s a steal for all that stuff. The watch would have been huge on your wrist, and the controllers and keyboard tiny by comparison. There was no way anyone would be able to play a four player video game on a watch. It’s also comical that with 2000k of storage built in, all you can add is a mere 16k expansion pack. I guess the real hook was that it played “every game”, and “exactly the same as the arcade”. With the video game cartridges included, it’s clear that my watch is primarily a gaming system.
“How cool would it be if I could sit there playing a video game on my watch without the teacher noticing,” I might have thought. With the included ear bud, you could still get sound effects.
One visionary touch is the included pinball attachment. This meant you could actually play Baby Pac Man — the video game/pinball hybrid that could only be experienced in arcades! Well, with my watch, you could play it at home. When I said “every video game” and “just like the arcade”, I was not kidding around. I took that stuff seriously.
I was an ambitious kid with the streak of a warmonger. I was a little Tony Stark in the making and the teachers should have been worried about that rather than a Judas Priest T-shirt or an obsession with Kiss. All the clues were there. Look at this one final drawing.
This school assignment came with a pre-drawn airplane cockpit. It is captioned “If you could fly your own airplane, where would you go?”
Where would I go? To war, apparently!