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Way Past Cool! The Original Saturday Morning Sonic Turns 20 Today

When I was a spry, young lad, I could still wake up every Saturday morning at the crack of dawn. Filled with exuberance for a block of time that would soon be lost to the ages with the popularization of children’s programming on basic cable, I would arise to make sure I wouldn’t miss a second of what was to be broadcast. Fox Kids, One Saturday Morning, Kids WB, even the not-aimed-at-me TNBC block…from local programming to the last remnants of syndicated tales involving the Hardy Boys, my elementary years were spent absorbing half hour after half hour of useless information.

On this day twenty years ago – September 18th, 1993 for those who aren’t paying attention – my focus was once again squarely on the television. Sitting in bed like I did every Saturday, my eyes glazed over watching my tiny moving picture box, the same one that I had played hours upon hours of the original Sonic the Hedgehog titles. But that day was something special. Something tremendously exciting. What was it? Well, the cast of Hanging With Mr. Cooper kindly told me the night before during T.G.I.F…

Yes. Sonic the Hedgehog was now on the airwaves.

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Sega of America Employee Back with More Auctions

If you’re like me, you heard about vigiljeff‘s eBay auction for the original painting used for the United States’ and Europe’s cover of Night Trap, which wound up selling for more than $1,500 USD, just a little too late to do any bidding. However, it put the former Sega of America employee, who worked in the facilities department of the company, on the radar as a potential seller of rare goods.

vigiljeff is back on eBay this week with four new auctions: pre-production figures of Akira Yuki and Sarah Bryant, a framed print of the character from Sonic the Hedgehog in an admittedly pretty awesome frame with many characters from various DiC properties carved into it, but perhaps most interesting is the final item, an art scroll drawn by one of four Sonic Team employees who were flown into America to finish NiGHTS into Dreams in his spare time. In the auction description, vigiljeff explains:

Even though they spoke very little English and I spoke no Japanese, whenever they needed something, they would e-mail my department and I would get it up to them, so I got to be pretty good friends with them, especially one guy, and even if I could remember his name I couldn’t pronounce it.

But anyways, at night or when he had time, he would be working on this scroll painting & drawing and writing. I don’t even know what game the characters are from that one. I’m sure one of you gamers out there will know right off, or if someone can read Japanese the writing will tell you.

And the cool thing about all this, when I went to drop them off at SFO for [their] flight back home, I unloaded all [their] stuff onto two airport carts, the guy grabs this scroll out of one of his bags and hands it to me and in his best English says, ‘Thank you for all your help. This [is] for you.’

I didn’t know what to say, so I bowed my head to them and shook [their] hands and said have a safe flight and went back to work.

At any rate, any of these pieces would be great collector items to have, but the scroll in particular seems really interesting: a look into the mind of one Sonic Team employee during one of the most diverse times of creative output by the studio. Pictures of the scroll are below.

[via GameSetWatch]


SatAM Writer, Ben Hurst, Has Passed Away

We at Sonic Retro have been informed of the passing of former SatAM and Sonic Underground writer, Ben Hurst. His age at the time of his passing was believed to be in his mid-50s.

According to a good friend, Sonic Retro member Quexinos (aka FUS admin Nique), Ben passed away two weeks ago due to complications from diabetes. He fell into a diabetic coma and passed away in his sleep.

I don’t know how many of you knew this but Ben and I were very close but I’m copying this to as many Sonic places as I can ala one of his requests for should this ever happen. This isn’t easy to say, but today I got a phone call from Pat Allee who was the co writer of SatAM.

Unfortunately, Ben passed away a couple weeks ago. sad.png They think it was his diabetes, which I didn’t even know he had. I guess it came kind of suddenly. He even had a doctor appointment on Wednesday but he died Tuesday before he could go. What they believe happened is that he fainted and then went into a diabetic coma. Then he just died peacefully in his sleep, which is how he wanted to go. He didn’t feel any pain or anything so that’s comforting.

I feel very weird by this whole thing. He was such a lively man. He lived such a full life and he told me numerous times that if he died tomorrow, he’d be fine with that. I’m truly grateful for having known such a great man. I’m sure he’s happy wherever he is now. I’m upset but knowing these things I think I’ll be able to carry on.

Ben Hurst was the writer of SatAM in 1993 on ABC, which retains a rabid following to this day. He returned to Sonic for “Sonic Underground” in 1999, writing for a handful of episodes. Since the end of “Underground,” Ben became more involved with the community, appearing for Q&As at both the 2005 and 2006 Sonic Amateur Games Expo.

We will update you with more information as it becomes available. We at Sonic Retro extend our condolences to the Hurst family. Thank you for providing many of us with childhood memories. SatAM was a staple in many of our youths and we have you to thank for it.

R.I.P. Ben.  You will be missed.
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