If I had to pick only one thing that I absolutely adored about growing up during the 80s it would have to be the way that most creative projects were hyper-merchandized. When a film or television debuted it was usually surrounded by mountains of tie-in merchandise, from lunchboxes and school supplies, to toys and food products and just about everything in between. Not all films received the full treatment, but a lot did and The Dark Crystal is a shinning example of a fairly heavily licensed film. Though I stumbled upon watching the movie a little later in my early teen years, when I was a kid I still owned one piece of merch, the Buena Vista Records Dark Crystal Read-Along Adventure book and record set. I used to obsess over these read-alongs. I’d cleaned out a space in my closet where I could sit on the floor with my Fischer Price record player and I’d endlessly play these discs, escaping into fantastic worlds and adventures in the darkness. It was the closest I could get to having my own mini movie theater in my room, and I loved it.
It isn’t very often that we cover the kind of film that would have received one of these Red-Along Adventures sets (I know Labyrinth, The Last Starfighter, Gremlins, Return to Oz and Ghostbusters had them), but of the films we have covered The Dark Crystal is the first time that I had the set as a kid. So for all the folks out there that are a kid at heart and want to revisit the magic of these book and record sets I wanted to point to one of my favorite spots on the internet, Read-Along Adventures.com. Joey started her archive site around the time that I launched my own nostalgia site, Brandedinthe80s.com back in 2006. She painstakingly researched a very definitive list of book sets, and made quite a few of them available to the public. Though the site has been dormant for a decade, she just relaunched a revamped, more user-friendly version of the site and is re-upping the books in mp3 and pdf format. Luckily The Dark Crystal was one of the first she’s re-released so that everyone can enjoy it again.