After digging through the writers on the articles in my old Asters Archive magazines, I created a list of ones that appeared multiple times to look up. Eventually, I managed to get a response! I hadn’t found their name in any of my prior research into the magazine’s creators, so I hoped as a smaller part of the business they’d be able to offer me some more candid answers! They agreed to a phone interview, but have asked to remain anonymous.

Looking back, they probably weren't ready for some obsesed kid like me to be asking a bunch of questions lol. Anyway, enjoy!

Here's our conversation, slightly edited for length:

First off, could you introduce yourself for my readers? How’d you get involved writing for the archives?

I won't say exactly what my job title was, but I was just another guy working there. I was working there before the movie, yes. They had started the magazine as a small side project, they always needed more articles to fill it with and it was pretty often they would ask the guys behind the register if they had anything they were crazy about that week. So I wrote a few articles here and there, and they liked them and kept asking me for more. But working the counter was my main gig, it was just a side thing. I got paid per article to write whatever I wanted, it was pretty rad. I didn’t write Aster though, that was the main guy’s job. I was encouraged to refer to him though, to have bits of banter and such. I didn’t see the finished work until it was ready for stocking, and usually I’d find all sorts of snarky interjections on my work. It was all in good fun, though.

Like you mentioned, it started pretty small, as a fun extra for visitors to the original store. Would you say his addition to the magazine is what made it more popular?

Oh definitely.

What do you think it was about him that made him so charming?

He’s relatable, he’s a big fat couch potato who loves his snacks and can be kinda awkward.

He never felt like he was talking down to kids. Or, if he was, he knew what he was doing. He was being cheesy on purpose. He was playing into it. He’s a cool guy, right? He’s got piercings, that was pretty out there at the time, being such a face of the brand. Advertising towards kids. He’s the sort of older dropout brother you want to hang out and play video games with but your parents just want him to move the hell out, you know?

Do you think his rebellious portrayal ever caused issues with parents?

I’m sure it did. That was the draw, I’m surprised we never got in big trouble with the game studios for all the hacks and glitches we were publishing. Maybe they did, I never heard anything.

But they tried their best to appeal to parents. In between articles, in the magazine, in between articles and adds they’d have these little PSAs, cute little comics. Reminding you to go outside, not stay up too late, not sit too close to the TV, stuff like that. I think that won us back some credibility. Playing together, find yourself player two, he really encouraged the community of it all, the store hosting events and such.

We sold educational software too, of course, hosted beginners coding workshops. Parents liked those, some of them knew what was up enough to realize that was the future, that was a lot more useful than talking about video games. They could imagine their kids were learning something important.

You’ve talked about how he appealed to a younger crowd and parents, what about the magazine’s older teen and adult readers?

Like I said, relatability. We weren’t as easily obsessed with him, of course, we were there for the glitches and the leaderboards, but he wasn’t obnoxious, at least. Ha, that’s a good sell isn’t it? But I’m serious. Even if you weren’t a big fan of him, he was too self-aware of his own cheesiness to be completely hate-able. And he was smart, too, he knew his shit. And we weren’t much more “adult” than him anyway, even those of us who weren’t living with our parents were still coming home from our stupid jobs to eat junk food and grind levels.

And that bear smokes weed, you know? He definitely smokes weed. And that’s what he does. He smokes weed and he sits at home alone and he plays video games all night.

It’s a little sad, actually. You know the legend of the minotaur, the actual Asterion?

I do, but I’d like to hear more.

Well without all the gods and murder and human sacrifices, ha. Underneath that. He wasn’t supposed to be born, he’s a bastard kid from an affair, right? Neither of his parents want him so they hire this guy to lock him out of sight in the labyrinth. That’s Deadelus, this DaVinci genius inventor who makes all this cool stuff for himself and his nephew. In Aster’s backstory he sort of takes him in too, he can’t really be there to raise him but he makes him things to keep him busy and keep him from being so lonely all locked up. And that’s where Deadelus games comes in, it’s like all this computer stuff and games were created to give Aster some joy in his life, and now that’s being shared. And I know it’s a lot of corporate marketing bullshit, but that’s kind of sweet, isn’t it? For a lot of us, it’s an escape from our lives, finding something and finding a community we can feel seen in. And even if he’s some sort of monster his parents tried to shut away, he found an escape. And now he knows, he doesn’t want anyone to shut themselves away. I know that’s really common for people like that, I had plenty of adult friends who pretty much only went out in public to come to events at the store.

That is really sweet, and kinda sad.

I don’t know how much of it people got. Of course, I was surrounded by him for the better part of two decades. All over the magazine racks by the cashiers, on my name tag, yelling at me from the front of the store! As much as I loved working there, you really can hear the same dozen voice lines so many times before they start to drive you more than a little insane. Some days I understood Theseus’ gig all too well. Ha! Get it? Sorry, after all those years all the stories never left my brain I suppose.

Ha. Yeah, I get it, Theseus killed the minotaur, right?


That brings up something I was going to ask about, you moved with the flagship store to its mall location, the one with the animatronic. Do you have any specific memories of it? Can you describe it for us?

Oh yeah. Like I said, he had a few dozen voice lines he’d repeat all day. I was behind him at the counter inside, there was a wall between us and I was facing away. But we always thought he was damn cool to have around! He wasn’t anything fancy, like your Disney parks- maybe not even like those restaurant theaters- Chuck E Cheese. Like an early Chuck E Cheese animatronic. He wasn’t trying to sell it that hard, they knew only little kids were going to fall for it anyway. He had a fake cashier desk around him, just like the one inside, but it was all snacks and junk, all fake. They always had a rack of the most recent magazine release though, you couldn’t reach it, had to buy it inside. He was an awful cashier, they wrote him like that! He had eaten all the snacks at the counter.

He was behind the counter, I’ve heard the animatronic itself didn’t have any bottom half, that's correct?

Right, he was just the top half, with a curtain covering the rest that was out of view anyway.

Do you remember any of his audio specifically?

Oh, they were all stupid jokes. The same stuff from the magazine. He’d say stuff like, “don’t be shy, my bark is worse than my bite! Get it? Bits and bytes!” The puns didn’t always work as well as it did on page! Ha. God I remember he’d go “I hope you don’t find my jokes un-bear-able!” we’d mock that one from the counter all the time.

I can imagine it would get annoying, yeah.

He had a low, tired voice. That’s probably why we always said he was high! And we were stupid teens.

I think the voice actor was one of the creators, or knew them, they had new lines all the time for new releases. Or special events. But they always kept the old ones! They switched them out with floppys but the audio was a separate tape, I imagine that system only worked since they only had one to deal with. They only had to update one it wasn’t as tedious to add new lines or have the computer add certain tracks just for event days. The founders were computer guys like the rest of us, of course, I don’t know who made the robot itself but I don’t doubt what was guiding it wasn’t some hacked together home-brew.

From my research, he was made by a company that made animatronic shooting galleries, Terry's Carving Co.. They had really similar bear face molds, though the paint job and fur was all original of course. The name wasn’t on him but you see the same designers’ mentioned. They’re based in California, so they were nearby Their animatronics were all pretty simple, there’s a little footage of some of their shooting gallery bears online, people take videos showing off their scores.

You know more than I do!

Well, more about the animatronic maybe, that’s what some people are most interested in. I like hearing about the character as a whole though, really interesting stuff.

Well I’m glad I could tell you something you didn’t know, then!

Thank you so much for speaking with me, it really has been wonderful to hear so much right from the source.

Thank you! Good luck on digging up more about the store, keep me posted if you find anything really out there! I'd love to see.