The Legend of Billie Jean was a teenage rebel movie that was smack dab in the 80s. It was released in 1985 and takes place (and was filmed in) in the Corpus Christi/Padre Island area. Helen Slater stars as a well meaning teen who (after an unfortunate chain of events) has taken just about as much crap as she's gonna take and goes on the run from the law with her friends and kid brother.
According to IMDb, the entire film was shot on existing practical locations so you get a good look at that area of Texas in the 80s. And since the kids always need provisions, you also get a good look at some of the old products that were on the shelves at the time.
So instead of the usual gift shop browsing I thought I'd take a look at what I thought were the Top Five Things For Sale in the movie...or rather the Top 5 Things For Sale Corpus Christi in the 80s.
Any rebellious road trip requires frequent fuel stops. Movies like these can be snapshots into the culture of the time and one of the things I always keep an eye out for is gas prices. In the movie gas clocks in at $1.05 per gallon, which seems a little high for '85 but South Padre is a tourist spot so things can get a little pricey.
4. Almost Home Cookies
Like a lot of discontinued food items, Almost Home Cookies have a bit of an online following. They were billed as a "homemade" style cookies and were one of the first "soft baked" cookies on the market. A lot of people forget about the stranglehold that crispy cookies used to have on the market and these were meant to push back against that crunchy agenda.
3. G.I. Joe Solid State Deluxe Walkie Talkies
This must have been product placement because these babies get a nice close up. The gang needed to communicate with each other and in 1985 you needed a wheelbarrow to carry around what passed for a cell phone so walkies were the next best thing. Like most kids of that era, they came in handy when outwitting authority figures. Another great character touch in the film is the I.O.Us the gang left behind when they needed to "acquire" supplies...so, ya know...they mean well.
2. LaserDisc Players
The Lasers Disc format came and went in what seemed like a hurry. People will swear that they were only around for a year or two but they actually hung on for several years and made an appearance in the movie. Billie Jean and friends essentially invent social media by recording messages on a "Betamovie" camera and sending them to the media, thereby gaining "followers" of their exploits. So maybe Laser Discs and Beta tapes weren't particularly prophetic but people's reactions and the cultural influence of self-created media definitely was.
1. Matchbox City Garage
I guess Matchbox didn't have deep pockets like Hasbro because these things were stuck in the background. For a young boy in the mid 80s there was nothing better than rolling your toy cars around a beauty like this. Hot Wheels had a similar model but the City Garage has a little more charm if you ask me.
Honorable Mention: These Wig Holders
These things caught my eye and while they're not technically for sale (the wigs are though) I thought I'd give them a participation trophy. Mainly because they reminded my of the neck work done by stretchy superheroes like Plastic Man and Mr. Fantastic from the Fantastic Four. I've seen plastic heads that hold wigs before but never the stretchy neck variety. And now you've seen them too.
So that's a lot of nice finds for a movie I had never heard of until a few months ago. Surprises are nice but surprises involving laser discs, G.I. Joe and cheap gas are the best.