As you know, I don’t update very often. I’d like to have new stuff at least once a week, but the uncomfortable truth is that this website is my seldom-watered houseplant. I want to fix that. To give it more attention, I’m going to expand its scope just a little. So don’t worry if you see something here that has nothing to do with games or cartoons. Rest assured that most of my updates will remain focused on old Compile shooters, canceled anime series, or a spill of cranberry sauce that forms the Angel Cop logo.

Hmm. That’s pretty lean for an entry, so I’ll explain something else: the name Kid Fenris.

The short answer? It’s a play on Kid Icarus, the old Nintendo game. For those unfamiliar, Kid Icarus is a staple of the early NES library, an action-adventure game that stars a plucky, heroic version of Icarus. In Greek myth Icarus flew too near the sun and became an avatar of overconfidence, and Nintendo just made him a little archer who saved a goddess from the clutches of Medusa. He also appeared in the Captain N cartoon, but we can't hold that against him.

The strange thing is that I didn’t even like Kid Icarus during the NES days. I only played it at demo stations, and I was frustrated at how barren the levels seemed, how easy it was to fall off the screen, and how Icarus collected hearts for money instead of health. That went against everything Star Tropics and The Legend of Zelda taught us! I’ve since come to appreciate it (though I still prefer its structural cousin Metroid), and I really enjoyed Kid Icarus: Uprising on the 3DS. I even like playing Pit and Palutena in Super Smash Bros.

Back in 1991, there wasn’t much Kid Icarus. We had an NES game and a Game Boy sequel, and that made many young Nintendo cultists wonder about a Kid Icarus title on the Super NES. I imagined something more ambitious. If Nintendo could make Kid Icarus out of bowdlerized Greek myths, why not make a similar game out of another legend? And at the time, I liked no legend better than the Fenris-wolf from Norse canon.

A Huddle of Huddles

I liked watching football more than any other sport when I was a kid. Part of that came from the dynamism of play, how it was possible for either team to score and even pull ahead at any point during the game. What’s more, football helmets and gear looked cooler to a kid than anything baseball or soccer allowed. And I never played football in the organized, school-validated way, so the sport had the gravity of some arcane ritual involving first downs and wide receivers.

More than anything, though, I think I liked football because of the NFL Huddles.

Football teams had mascots since the league’s inception, but it wasn’t until 1983 that the NFL put together a line of plush toys and little rubber figurines called Huddles. Each represented a particular team, some more creatively than others. I’m not sure if they were sold in toy aisles or in the sporting goods section. I suspect they went to both. Huddles were aimed just as much at kids as they were at adults who wanted to festoon every inch of the living room with Chargers or Packers merchandise.

I bought one or two Huddle figures on my own, and my grandmother got me the rest as a birthday present. I suspect she nabbed them on the discount racks, as this was several years after their debut. Indeed, the Huddles didn’t last long, and praise for them is scant even on an Internet that finds nostalgia for Macron-1 and Food Fighters. They seem to have passed through the toy market without much attention, but they’re an adorable pop-culture collision of football and toys.

The Finest Art of Gift-Giving

Did everyone have a good Christmas? I certainly did, and that was partly because of a wonderful present from a friend who prefers to be known as Magic Trashman. He’s an artist and comic-maker, and since he doesn’t yet have a website I’ll have to settling for linking to his DeviantArt page. For his gift, he seized upon an idle Twitter post I made years ago about bugging him to put canceled video-game characters into classic works of art.

I forgot all about that post, but Mr. Trashman did not. This past Christmas he sent me a framed portrait with this response on the back.

And what’s inside the frame? No, he didn't draw characters from canceled video games. He drew something better.

It’s wonderful. It repopulates one of the dogs-at-poker portraits with things I like. The brownish creature on the left is Quilli, heroic porcupine from Quill Quest. It's a video game I sketched out as a child (before Sonic came around, I swear). His fellow players should be more familiar, as they're from Mystery Science Theater 3000, Monster World IV, Darkstalkers, and my favorite shot of actor Billy Barty. Maybe there's even a Bounty Arms reference someplace. I'll have to look closely.

The table shows that Quilli is betting with power-ups from Quill Quest: a hamburger, a watch, and even a Mondo Magnet. Also on the pile is a Mighty Orbots figure, which mystified me at first. I’ve never been more than a mild fan of the show; it has some of the slickest animation ever seen in a Saturday morning cartoon, but even as a kid I found the robots dopey and irritating compared to Robotech or any Transformer. Upon investigation, I realized its purpose: a line of planned Orbots toys was never released, so it’s possible that someone, likely Crow or Tom Servo, put this ultra-rare prototype up as a gambling chip. How clever of the artist to include it.