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The Data 70 font

Your suggestions ...
Adrian Partington from Portsmouth had plenty of ideas, including the return of properly grim-looking episodes of Grange Hill ("These days it's all Year Elevens sipping coffee in an improbably plush looking common room, but back in the day no episode of GH was complete without a pupil being chased through austere looking corridors and then along dreary suburban roads by a gang of 'nutjobs'") and those big fat pens with multiple colours of ink in them (seemingly one of the numerous items of stationery no one knows the correct name for). However, the one that really set our retrometer going nuts was this his plea for the reinstatement of The Data 70 font.


"The definitive 'modern' font of the 1970s, and therefore destined to date faster than anything else (according to Victor Lewis-Smith) - no '70s sci fi programme was complete without it in the credits. The reason for it to be returned forthwith: Where can you find such an unselfconciously futuristic typeface nowadays?"


There's a Humphrey about

Mark Atkins from Germany has got lots of good suggestions.

"Unigate Dairies’ Humphrey" he says. "Milk has never been glamorous, so self-deprecation is the only way to sell it. Henry McGee and Humphrey was the best way to get kids to drink the stuff - much better than two scousers saying: 'It’s what Ian Rush drinks,' which came later. Summer trips to Middlesex to visit my uncle (who got his milk from Unigate) were hallmarked by me getting up early to shout out: 'Where’s Humphrey?' at the milkman. But Humphrey was not just a milk monster, he was the spirit of the 1970s, invisible, omnipotent, much like the unions of the day. Who really was in charge?

And then: "Corona deposit bottles. Deposit bottles have all but disappeared from the UK (but still are available here in Germany), even by the early 1980s virtually everything you drank was in plastic. The exception was Corona lemonade, orangeade, limeade (fluorescent green) and some weird concoction called 'dandelion and burdock,' which sounded like something developed at Porton Down in the 1950s to stop invading Soviet troops and tasted much like it too. The joy with Corona lay in taking the bottles back to the shops AND GETTING SOME MONEY BACK. Ten pence per bottle was, in 1982, serious money for a nine-year kid, and I used to earn about a pound a week from collecting bottles from neighbours and taking them down the shops. Then I’d blow it on comics and sweets. The other great things about Corona were the Corona cartoon bubbles, who would have to pass a 'fizzical' to get into a bottle. A little cartoon of bubbles working out in a gym was simply charming . . .

Mark's not done yet: "Now Get Out Of That. Simple premise: take two teams from Oxbridge (this is the BBC remember, no polytechnics allowed) and challenge them to rescue a 'kidnapped scientist' by completing a series of mental/physical challenges (building a bridge to cross a bottomless pit, grab a canister of nerve gas out of an electrified cage, etc.)out on the Brecon Beacons (or some similarly inhospitable place like Bracknell). One rule was that each team must have at least one pushy John McEnroe-type American who should try to take over the whole series. Bernard Falk provided the schadenfreude voiceover: 'The red team haven’t noticed the long plank a few yards away . . .'"


Funny Face - but possibly not the one John's thinking of

John from London writes to say: "Please mention Funny Faces ice cream bars. This vanilla and chocolate concoction on a stick was truely memorable if only for the advert and its ker-azy tune. The Funny Faces themselves looked more like car crash victims. All blobby chocolate eyes and mouth that resembled The Incredible Melting Man. Possibly a Nestle mutation. Possibly not."

We're not sure if the picture on the left is exactly what you're thinking of, John, but it was the best we could find - and even then we had to go trawling through a German website.



Stephen Morgan from Slough nominated the Citroen 2CV ("He wore amusingly two-tone coloured clothes in the increasingly serious 1980s"), Paint Along With Nancy ("Scary schoolmarmish artistic genius showed the lay-person IT COULD BE DONE") and Concorde ("It consumed the entire North Sea oil reserve every flight"), but it's his trumpeting of Beezer that gets the picture-on-the-left treatment here. Stephen?

"Surrealism/Dadaism for pre-teens, it made children chuckle at a myopic war veteran (Colonel Blink), bank robbers (The Badd Lads), a sci-fi concept from the pen of Isaac Asimov (The Numbskulls) and an unhappy family unit (Pop, Dick and Harry)."



Nathaniel Robertson from somewhere would like to see the return of loads of things, including: Rancheros ("These quality snacks placed an emphasis on Tex-Mex ranch living", those stunt cars that used to destruct when they hit objects ("How else would we know about the impact characteristics of a burgundy cadillac Eldorado on kitchen lino?"), Total Control Racing ("It filled the dining room with the rich incense of ozone and iron filings and the transformer meant you'd sweat it out as the american MACK truck cabs belted around"), Flight Deck ("Nail a Sea Harrier down a line at your cousin's house in the holidays and overshoot the crap ship's decking") and ice in the playground ("Skid zones soon got banned or salted when the class fool hadn't been watching Steve Podborsky properly on TV at the weekend and broke his wrist"). However, our picture this time is saved for his musings on top footwear, Clarks Commandos ...

"With a coloured chevron on the bottom to show the width of your foot. Everyone wanted the red one but even if you tried to trick the chrome electronic foot measuring machine at the shop, it always seemed to end up a blue."


Soda Stream

Uh oh, here comes Amy Jackson from London, bigging up the virtues of Soda Stream.

"WHAT WAS IT? DIY-enthusiast-pleasing fizzy drink maker, usually kept in a darkened utility room and only brought out when the family had 'company' involving children who did not have the means to make their own drinks and had to rely on the peasant option of going to the shop. In order to create said drink, bottles of compressed CO2 were inserted into the Sodastream and the button on the top was pressed down hard by a responsible adult for a good 15 seconds, as I recall. The children would be waiting with baited breath, armed with a revolting selection of cordials, which would then be poured into glasses in order to be mixed with the bottle of gas and create an allegedly flavoursome concoction.

"This non-alcoholic 'cocktail' party would generally come to a premature end when dad-figure left the room and a worryingly anti-social given-to-rain-dances-and-public-masturbation type child would get his mitts on one of the CO2 bottles and mix it with father's abandoned glass of pomagne, leading to hide-under-the-nearest-chair panics and fire engines.

"WHY SHOULD IT COME BACK? Everything's far too easy these days. In the age of online grocery shopping and Sky Plus, it seems nobody makes the effort anymore. So what better to bring us back to the days of hard graft and penny-pinching than the Sodastream? Make your own fizzy pop and save a fortune, not to mention feel smug for doing something on your own. Plus the screeching noise it made when the button was pressed always gave the pleasing impression that dad didn't have things quite as under control as he might have thought."


Haunted House

And now over to David Rose from London ...

"I am a firm believer in the return of all hugely overcomplicated-to-set-up board games. Two stick in my mind particularly, both of which I owned. One is, of course, the now legendary Mouse Trap game. I'm sure I need not remind you, but the basic premise was to set up various pieces of precariously balanced plastic and cardboard, that would each trigger the next one, eventually setting off the trap to catch the rodent. While it was extraordinarily infuriating, there was nothing like the excitement of finally getting the permission of your mum to take over the living room with it. Thing is, it would take about five and a half hours to erect, and then wouldn't even really work when you were playing. But it was epic and fun and worthy of relaunching, only because kids these days should learn the value of working on something before they finally get to enjoy it, rather than just plugging in an X-Box. Surely in this era of modern technology, they could make it so that the pieces really do set each other off?

"The other one I remember less clearly - Haunted House. Again, at least a day-and-a-half to prepare to play. It followed the basic board game principle, but it was ... get thi s... 3D! You would go up cardboard stairs and, if I recall correctly, fall down a cardboard slide. Something would always fall off, but that just seemed to add to the adventure."


Action Man

Adz from Cardiff is sticking his neck out for the original Action Man:

"WHAT WAS IT? Let's face it - it was a doll (perpuated by Blue Peter's trademark-avoiding banter when they were making a bunk bed for the wee plastic fella). Palitoy took the idea from the US GI Joe action figure and broadly speaking, sprinted with it. Everybody had their favourite outfit - the German Soldier, the paratrooper, horseguardsman etc etc. Then there were the vehicles, and - lest we forget - the token system where you collected the little stars off the side of the packaging to redeem against future purchases - genius!

"WHY SHOULD IT COME BACK? Well - just look at the vile, cod sci-fi travesty that has stolen the name Action Man in recent times. At least the traditional figures taught you something about our past - you knew about the Colditz escape, that British paratroopers were known as Red Devils and a whole lot besides thanks in no small part to the suede-headed, scarfaced little mannequins. These days the historical action figure market has been pretty much cornered by a cluster of Japanese companies who turn out intricately detailed and pinpoint-accurate figures pretty much in the AM tradition. So, then another great British industry sold off to Johnny Foreigner for a 'mess of pottage'!"