Sunday, May 20, 2012

Retro '71




Welcome back to Designerland and another fun-filled Retro '71 shirt concept. This week’s shirts are based on the House of Magic Shop on old Main Street. 

As a child and growing up on the Magic Kingdom, no visit could be complete without a stop to this store. As the evening would come to an end and the fireworks finished, we'd start to make our way back to the monorail. To avoid crowds we would stop into the many great stores the Magic Kingdom had to offer at the time. My mom would be off in the classier stores looking for something to bring back my grandmother while my dad and I would head over to one of the coolest stores imaginable, The House of Magic.




As a young boy I was fascinated with all sorts of things: monster makeups (thank you Dick Smith), haunted houses, skulls, pirates, masks, puppets and so on and the House of Magic catered to all those odd interests. I only visited the House of Magic during the evening hours right before the park closed, which made the shop even more mystical. As I recall, the shop was dark and mysterious. The shelves were lined with Adam's Prank and Magic products, books on studying magic, card decks, those invisible dog leash gags, rubber monster masks, some Haunted Mansion carryover items and black light/glow-in-the-dark skulls by Randotti. It was pure heaven.

Being so young, the more advanced magical merchandise that the House of Magic offered didn't interest me. I would pass up those cheesy invisible dog leashes and make my way straight to the display of molded ceramic spookiness, the Randotti skulls. The Randotti Company was a small mom and pop operation out of California that manufactured chalk and plaster skulls, totems, tikis, tombstones, and plaques for various stores, amusement parks and theme parks. Most of the products were treated with glow in the dark paint. They would glow forever, bright and strong all night long it seemed. I remember many a night dozing off to sleep as the eerie, ghostly glow illuminated my night stand.


 I would purchase the same skull each year (skull #829 to be exact, but also had #891 in my collection at one time).  I don't think my mom cared too much for the macabre merchandise because it would seem to disappear a few months after our vacations. I would ask her if she had seen it and she would say that she packed it up with the Halloween decorations. Moms can be so fickle but Dads are so great because like clockwork he'd let me buy one each year while Mom was on the other side of Main Street. It was like our little thing. 


The House of Magic and the infamous Randotti Skulls play a big role in my Disney World childhood, so what better way to pay homage than with a shirt design of their very own, slightly distressed and printed in glow in the dark ink of course.

Well that does it for this week’s post. Tune in next week when we conclude our Main Street Typography Case Study. Have a greek week and see you soon!

16 comments:

  1. Nice use of Alexander, the hypnotist, on the non-skull tee

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  2. I LOVE THIS!! As a child growing up with Disneyland, the Randotti line was a big presence of my Disneyland. I would always get little skulls and I loved the Haunted Mansion Tombstones. My mom of course would be stuck having to carry the wrapped souvenir grave markers for the rest of the day. About ever hour or so I'd make her open up the well-wrapped tombstones to make sure thery weren't broken! The Randotti items were sold in the Main Street Magic Shop as well as Merlin's Magic Shop in Fantasyland. Adventureland sold hanging skulls and Tiki necklaces. Pieces of Eight and a small Haunted Mansion cart also sold assorted Randotti gems.

    On a visit to WDW in the mid 80's The Haunted Mansion shop had some Tombstones with different sayings and I had to get those. While checking them to make sure they weren't broken later in the day, I dropped one on the floor of a WEDWAY PEOPLEMOVER car --every time I see the little chip on that WDW "stone" I think of being on the WEDWAY!!!!
    These shirts need to be made--I don't think Randotti's are around anymore--I think the wife passed away just a few years ago.

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    1. Glad you like it Mike!

      Randotti had a bigger impact at Disneyland than Disney World which makes me a tad jealous. hahaha! WDW had some Randotti stuff at the shop in the Caribbean Plaza outside POTC. A few items in the old HM giftshop but if you wanted the entire collection the House of Magic was where it was at. Sadly I never saw the tombstones, I know of them and drool over them every time I seem them but they were gone by the time I started my disney theme park journeys.

      There's an interesting thread over at the doombuggies forum (from a few years ago) that seems to go on for ever about Randotti. His son even posts on there and talks about what happen to the company and how the molds were sold. Saddens me to think that someone out there has the molds just sitting in their basement, garage or storage shed. The son talks about how once and a while the new owner of the molds will bust one out and sell one on ebay.

      I wish they could come to an agreement and start remaking these, at least for us! hahaha. I would die to have the Randotti Disneyland/Disney World collection. Such an important part of my childhood and it seems yours as well! Thanks for sharing and commenting.

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  3. Love the shirt almost as much as I love the personal story that accompanies it!! So sweet ... dads are the best!! I think I'm going to go call mine. <3

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  4. Thanks for the comments! Yup sometimes dads trump moms! Haha

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  5. Richard, your designs are so awesome. Posts like this kill me that the we've been able to purchase so, so, SO few pieces of your inspiring work. Love that Adventureland shirt, though. My wife wears it everytime we go to Disneyland and she still gets compliments and inquiries about where she got it. Keep up the great work and have a great weekend!
    Ryan

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    1. Thanks for the kind words! Glad your wife enjoys her shirt. Tell her hello and thanks from me! Have a great weekend yourself!

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  6. This is awesome! I am not so much the skull guy but the House of Magic was MY home turf, it was MY special little place and I am still so frwaking pissed off that they closed it back in 1995 that I cannot stand it.

    Short sided thinking... sell more sweat shirts sure, and sell out the memories of hundreds of thousands of little kids who loved the place. They missed the point that the House of Magic was an attraction more than an actual store. It made memories and made peopel return to show thier kids... it may have been the skulls, the pranks, or in my case the actual magic (and masks) that brought us back but back we came. I will never forget being an 8 year old kid wearing an old man mask my Dad bought me as I ran around the park all day (my brother had the red haired "goof" mask). So much fun, so many memories and so sad that it was replaced by in essence nothing.

    MAKE THESE.

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  7. Glad you like them and thanks for sharing your story. I agree how the HoM was an attraction in itself. Very true.

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  8. I love these shirts and would definitely buy one. As a kid, I had the same basic story as you. I actually still have a mummy mask I bought there. The masks were incredible. I remember my worst trip to the Magic Kingdom was when I realized the HoM was no longer there (replaced by merchandise you could find anywhere on property...errr). I have heard Disneyland still has a House of Magic. I would seriously make the trip west to go.

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    1. Thanks for the compliments! I hate that the HOM is no longer around. Disneylands magic shop is much different than what was at Disney World. It's clean an bright...not very magical or mysterious.

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  9. Ebay is the best source for the collectable Randotti’s. There is actually a woman on there selling brand new old stock. They can be pretty pricey though. There are a few people (myself included) who create new skulls cast from the original Randotti molds. They aren’t really collectable in the same way in that they were not made by the Randotti company. However if you are more interested in the design rather than collectable value, it can be a more affordable alternative.

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  10. Most of Randotti's skull product line is back on the market and can be found online at:

    https://www.facebook.com/LostIslandTraders

    Mind you, these are not produced by Randotti (they are out of business). They are cast using original Randotti molds then hand finished by me in the style of the originals. If there is something specific you are looking for but don't see, don't hesitate to ask, I may be able to accomodate.

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    1. Thanks for the message! I am very interested in purchasing! I will go over to facebook right now! Thanks for the update.

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  11. Absolutely love these. I, too loved my Randotti skull (a #817) and have recently replaced it with an original found on eBay. Also picked up a snake skull, and have even begun finishing newly-cast items as mentioned above (its a blast). I'd love the chance to purchase one (or both) of these shirts!! Even a one off thru zazzle or something. Please let me know if there's an opportunity. Would there be a copyright issue with WDW? Thanks, and great work. Scott

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