Friday Five: Wrestling Action Figures

This month, my buddy Chad is running Slam Fest over at his blog, HorrorMovieBBQ, and I thought I would jump on the train for this Friday Five and highlight five of my favorite wrestling toys from through the years.  To begin with, I’ve got to start where it kind of began for a lot of people…LJN WWF Superstars figures!

LJN WWF

LJN WWF Superstars

This was the wrestling action figure line that most folks would say was their first.  It kind of was for me, but I never had a truly great experience with it.  I first saw them when a neighbor kid at my grandmother’s house brought over his Hulk Hogan, Big John Studd, and Andre the Giant figures.  I was mesmerized.  I told my Mom about them, and that I wanted some.  For Christmas, I got a Nikolai Volkoff figure, and a Mean Gene Okerlund.  Now I love Mean Gene, but what the hell was I going to do with his figure?  Have him interview Volkoff over and over again?  This was not a good start.  A while later, I got a Junkyard Dog figure, but by then, the bloom was off the rose for me as far as these figures went.  In the meantime, I had played with them a couple of times at my cousin Tim’s house.  He had the ring to go with the figures, so it was really cool.  I still love these figures, but I never owned enough of them myself to put it really high on my all-time list of favorite toys.

WWF Thumb Wrestlers

Sticking with the WWF, these Thumb Wrestlers were my consolation to not having the LJN figures.  I was actually able to pick up several packs of these with my weekly allowance, and that gave me enough variety to really enjoy having these.  I had Hulk Hogan, JYD, Hillbilly Jim, Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, and Big John Studd.  Like I said, enough variety to play around with and have some matches.

Now, these things weren’t great as what they were designed to be.  They were too cumbersome to put on your thumb and have actual thumb-wrestling matches.  I tried taking them to school to do that very thing with but failed miserably.  They were great for just playing with and having them do moves to each other with though.

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The Mega Haul of Christmas 1986

Recently, I spent quite a bit of time working on and posting a feature called, 1986:  The Year Santa Became Real.  In it, I go into detail about how my Christmas experiences took a huge upturn in 1986 and mentioned several awesome toys that I got from Santa Claus that year. I didn’t have space in the feature to go into a lot of detail on each of those toys, so this whole article is dedicated to just that!

Cobra Terror Drome

The big one that Christmas morning in 1986 was the G.I. Joe Cobra Terror Drome. At that time in life, my world revolved around four toys. G.I Joe, Masters of the Universe, Construx, and Legos….with G.I. Joe being at the top of the list. Knowing this, it was no surprise to my parents that the biggest hit of the holiday season would be this huge G.I. Joe playset.

It had room for plenty of figures, so massive battles were a foregone conclusion. I stockpiled this sucker with every bad guy I had in my collection and then began a full-on assault with all of the good guys I could find. Even Bo & Luke Duke in their 3 3/4″ figure form and the General Lee got in on the action on the side of the Joes!

Cobra Terror Drome

The initial battle was a stalemate, with Cobra barely able to hold off the tremendous might of the Joes, as they retreated back a little way to regroup and plan for a second assault. Now, of course, this stalemate was only to ensure that the Terror Drome was intact to play with again the following day. I spent a while Christmas afternoon interacting with various parts of this set. The Cobra vehicles re-fueled at the re-fueling station built into it, while some of the top Cobra brass interrogated a captured Joe down in the holding cell area.

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My Favorite Halloween Treats

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The Halloween season is upon us, and I thought it would be fun to go back in time to the days of trick-or-treating and look at just what were some of my absolute favorite things to find in my treat bag at the end of the night.  Now, don’t get me wrong, it was hard for any treat to be classified as “bad”, but we all had the favorites that we hoped to get a sack full of by the end of the night.  Here are my 10 of my favorite Halloween treats!

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Why Wendy’s Ain’t the Same Anymore

I never thought that talking about my love of old food would garner much attention.  Boy was I wrong.  I had put this post up a couple of years ago, and then took it offline when we launched The Retro Network.  But just this week, two different people contacted me saying they were looking for it.  How about that.  Well, here it is again, and I’ll leave it up this time so all of you faithful followers can find it from now on.


As I’ve mentioned many times before, when my old man would come home each weekend from working out-of-town, he would always take the family out to eat on Friday or Saturday night.  Places like Western Steer and Bonanza were frequent favorites, Pizza Hut was a rarity, and when we weren’t going to one of those places, the destination was Wendy’s.  So it’s fair to say that I visited Wendy’s a lot in the late ’80s and early ’90s, and feel like I have a pretty good grasp on what set it apart from its competition back then, and what made it stand out.

So let’s get to it, and take a look at how much Wendy’s has changed since those days, and not really for the better.

 

Their Commercials Are Not Near As Good As They Used to Be

So first up, let’s take a look at what brings an establishment to people’s attention, and makes them want to visit in the first place, the television commercials advertising the place or products.  For years, Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas was a fixture in commercials for the chain.  He looked like he could be your own grandpa, and put forth a welcoming personality that seemed to not feel like an over-produced commercial, but rather an invitation to dinner from an old friend.

Wendys Dave Thomas

These days, we get this young yuppie girl they call “Red”, where the commercials focus more on trying to be funny (and failing), or hip, and don’t do much to get a vibe across to the viewer as to the core values of the restaurant.  Heck, they barely focus on the food they are promoting.  With the Dave Thomas commercials, you got a little humor, but he almost always put forth his philosophy of making good, old-fashioned hamburgers.  Check out this classic commercial below and see what I’m talking about.

 

Man, there’s something about an old Wendy’s commercial with Dave Thomas that really takes me back.

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Catalog Pages: M.U.S.C.L.E. Toys From the 1986 Mattel Toy Dealer’s Catalog

Here are scans of the M.U.S.C.L.E. toys lineup as featured in the 1986 Mattel Toy Catalog.  Intended for retailers, Mattel’s dealer catalogs showcased all the latest and greatest releases, along with existing products within its various current (at the time) toy lines.  These are great photos of some of my favorites toys from the past.  Hope you enjoy them as well!

M.u.s.c.l.e.

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Saturday Morning Cartoons of 1985

Saturday mornings in 2019 are a far cry from the Saturday mornings of 1985.  Hell, it’s been that way since the late 1990’s when the networks started phasing out their cartoon lineups in favor of other programming on Saturdays.  I’m not sure what caused the change unless it was the fact that cable television was a staple in most homes by that time.  But one thing I do know, Saturday mornings in the ’80s and early ’90s were the bomb for kids.  All three of the big networks stuffed their Saturday morning lineups with some of the best cartoons ever produced, and we ate them up!

We all had our favorites, and we all had the ones we weren’t fond of.   Channel hopping was commonplace for us kids on Saturday mornings as our favorites were usually spread across all three networks.  And back then, that took a little effort.  I had to keep getting up to change the channel between shows because I don’t remember having a television with a remote control until the late ’80s.  Not that it really mattered though because it was worth the effort to get to the cartoon I really wanted to watch.

Let’s take a look at the Saturday morning cartoon lineups from 1985 and talk about what our favorite offerings were!

1985 NBC Saturday Morning Cartoons

NBC unleashed a pretty swank lineup in 1985 with a lot of cartoons that are still enjoyed to this day.  It may not have been evident at the time, but The Smurfs would go on to become a powerhouse for the next 34 years, and will probably continue to be one for still a long time to come.  Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears debuted in 1985 and was one of the slickest looking shows on any of the networks.  Alvin and the Chipmunks went on to be another powerhouse in the pop culture world, and Mr. T was near his zenith, so his Mister T cartoon was flying high at this point as well.  It’s Punky Brewster was piggy-backing off the success of the live action prime time show on NBC, and The Snorks was a Smurfs clone that went on to moderate success of its own.  Kidd Video and One to Grow On were minor hits in their own right, and Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends helped to capture the young comic books fans to round out the block.

Watch this short commercial where NBC is pimping some of their shows for the coming Saturday Morning:  1985 NBC Saturday Morning Cartoons Promo.  Commercials like that used to get me pumped up for the coming Saturday morning.

1985 CBS Saturday Morning Lineup

CBS countered with a decent lineup of their own.  They were banking on the mega-popularity of the World Wrestling Federation and Hulk Hogan in 1985 and made Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling the cornerstone of their 1985 lineup.  Much like NBC and the Smurfs, CBS had a powerhouse in their midst with Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies cartoon, and the Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show featured iconic characters that had been bankable for years.  The Berenstain Bears were well known to kids everywhere since most kids had read, or at least heard, a lot of their stories from the popular books, so this looked like it could have been a big hit for them.  Dungeons and Dragons was on the tongue of most kids in this time frame due to the popularity/taboo of the game.  The Wuzzles, CBS Story Break, and The Young Astronauts rounded out the lineup.

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