Category: Toys Toys Toys

M.U.S.C.L.E. Toys as Featured in 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.

Muscle Toys

Muscle Men

m.u.s.c.l.e. toys

Watch me Teach My Daughter How to Play POG’s!

So I recently picked up some POG’s off ebay, thinking I would do some kind of video with them.  My oldest daughter showed quite a curiosity in them, so what better thing to film than teaching her how to play the game.  So we pulled them out, set up the camera, and away we went.  Check it out, and if you played POG’s back in the day, leave a comment and we’ll talk about it!

You can also check out the post from a while back about the history of POG’s here on Retro Ramblings.

 

8 Board Games I Love

Board games have long occupied space in closets and on book shelves, and have entertained families of all types and sizes for decades. While growing up, my brother and I spent many days and hours playing games, just like my daughters do today.

I admit, when the original Nintendo came along, I spent far less time with the conventional board game, and shifted most of my focus to video games. Even so, I have so many fond memories attached to board games, so here today I’m taking a trip down memory lane to look at six of my favorite board games from days gone by, and two more recent ones.


Monopoly

Monopoly

When I hear “board game”, Monopoly is the first thing that comes to mind. I would consider it the “Boardwalk” of board games, while all the others are “Vermont Ave” or “St. James Place”.

The current recognized version was first published in 1935 by Parker Brothers. It underwent a major resign in 2008 that saw Mediterranean and Baltic Avenues colors from purple to brown, and GO from red to black. It also changed the Income Tax to a flat $200, and upped Luxury Tax from the original $75 to $100.

When I was a kid, my family would play, but in the beginning, I was too young to be in on the game. When my time finally came, I instantly fell in love with it. I thought I was a big deal when I could barter my way to a “Get Out of Jail Free” card, or buy Oriental Ave. Unfortunately, I didn’t understand back then how the game worked and would usually be quickly put out of the game due to faulty business decisions.

As I grew older, I graduated from playing with family to playing with friends, where the playing field was a little more level. As an adult, my friends and I came up with a set of additional rules that we called “Survival Monopoly”. It threw in things like “everyone moves one chair to the left”, meaning that you now owned all of your neighbor’s property, and left yours behind to be taken over by someone else.

From the simple color schemes, to the simple rules, playing this board game these days always takes me back to another place in time. A place when I was sitting in front of the fire-place, with my brother and my folks enjoying the evening together. It’s one of the things that brings back some of the strongest feelings of nostalgia within me, and makes me ache to go back. But at the same time, the game helps me stay anchored in the present, as I love to play the game with my daughters. I see in their faces the same joys of playing the game that I have always experienced, and know that I am helping to create in them something that one day they will look back on with similar nostalgic feelings.

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Retro Round Table: Toys We Never Had

Toys We Never Had

It’s time once more for another Retro Round Table.  This time, my fellow Retro Knights have gathered around the table to talk about the cool old toys we always wanted by never had.  I like doing these round table discussions because I love to hear other people’s old memories just as much as I like sharing my own.

I’m joined again this week by Hoju Koolander of the SequelQuest Podcast, Jason Gross of Rediscover the 80’s, Spyda-Man from 20 Years Before 2000, and Eric Vardeman of Eric V Music and Retro Ramblings fame.  So let’s get into the discussion, and when you’re done reading, join the discussion in the comments by telling us what toy YOU always wanted but never had.  Also, if you ever had any of the the toys we mention here, we’d love to hear your thoughts and memories on them.  Let’s go!


X-Men Mutant Hall of Fame

As a kid, I was pretty moderate in my toy purchasing. I’d have a few He-Man figures, a single Visionaries knight and a couple of Food Fighters, but never put all my eggs into one toyline basket. Instead I made friends with “more fortunate” kids who had mountains of action figures and treated their homes as toy libraries. I’d spend an afternoon playing with Dino-Riders, move onto Police Academy figures and then throw a couple of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles into the Sewer playset, it was heaven. Plus, if I waited long enough, I could always find somebody’s old toys at a garage sale cheap. That’s how I got the Real Ghostbusters Firehouse and even some G1 Transformers in the early 90s. As a result, I rarely had that feeling of disappointment that came from not getting any one toy. But if I had to pick one gaping hole in my childhood toy collection it would be the Toy Biz X-Men Mutant Hall of Fame collector’s set. I am fully aware that it was just 10 old figures (several of which I already owned) stuffed into a fancy new box, but the presentation was just so impressive. It gave new perceived value to these characters and I desperately wanted this displayed on my shelf. Sadly, I think the retail price at the time was like 50 bucks and there was no way I was talking my parents into forking over that much dough in a single shopping trip. So I just stared and dreamed. Today I can see it for the exploitative re-packaging trick it was, but at the time Toy Biz dangled a brightly colored molded plastic carrot in my face and I never got a bite.

– Hoju Koolander

You can follow along with all of Hoju’s retro shenanigans on his twitter feed, @hojukoolander, read a lot of his his fine writing on a variety of retro topics at Retro-Daze, keep up with him at PopGeeks, and listen to his awesomely fun pod cast at SequelQuest Podcast where he and his cohorts craft sequels that we never got to movies that we loved!  I highly recommend you stop back by here next week, as Hoju’s awesome review of the 80’s mat classic movie, Body Slam, drops as part of our Wrestlemania Week.


Transformers Soundwave

The first toy that popped into my head when this week’s topic was unveiled was Transformers Generation 1 Soundwave! I never owned this toy as a kid, but my neighbor did. I loved playing with it because not only was he a badass, Decepticon robot, but he was also a kickass Cassette Recorder! To a young boy in the 80’s those were 2 great things rolled into one amazing blue and chrome plastic package. I still remember the feel of pushing the eject button to reveal the deadly sidekick cassete robot he hid in his tape deck!  I do have to say that I did own 2 of those cassette tapes. We had Laserbeak and Ravage. They both were pretty awesome, but the lasting memory I have of those guys is when my teacher took Laserbeak away from me because I was playing with him while we were on a class trip to the local library. I was so upset, I could barely learn about the Dewey Decimal system! I still don’t understand it to this very day! Every now and then I find myself scrounging around Ebay looking for a Soundwave in solid condition, but the prices go fairly high on this toy. One of these days I’ll be able to grab one and add it to my collection, just not today.

– Spyda-Man

You can check out Spyda-Man’s retro home on the web at 20 Years Before 2000.  You can also follow him on twitter @20_Years_Before. Continue reading “Retro Round Table: Toys We Never Had”

Catalog Pages: 1982 Sears Wish Book featuring G.I. Joe

I love going through old catalogs from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s to reminisce on the fashion trends, gadgets of the time, and especially the toys.  The Sears Christmas Wish Book is the jackpot of catalogs as far as all that is concerned.  They almost act as time capsules, taking you back in time for a look at how things were each year.

Today I’ve got a heck of a page from the 1982 Sears Wish Book, as it features almost all of the original toys from the G.I. Joe:  A Real American Hero line!  This G.I Joe line is my favorite toy line of all time, so it has been a lot of fun looking back at this page.  Let’s take a tour of it.

Sears Wish Book GI Joe

As you can see, this page has all the heavy hitters…with the exception of the HAL.  There are a couple of the larger action vehicles at the top, along with the exclusive Cobra Command Missile HQ, sets of different figures, the smaller vehicles and action sets, and a sweet G.I. Joe tent!  Let’s go in for a closer look.

Cobra Missile Command HQ

So here is a closer look at the Cobra Missile Command HQ, and from reading the description at the bottom of the page, it comes with the three Cobra figures in the box above, which means you get Cobra Commander, a Cobra Officer, and a Cobra trooper!  Seems like an absolute bargain for just $10.99 even for 1982

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M.U.S.C.L.E. Men Wrestling Toys

M.U.S.C.L.E. Men started out as a manga comic in the late seventies in Japan called Kinnikuman. It proved to be so popular, that an anime series of it was adapted and ran from 1983 – 1986, and focused around an intergalactic form of professional wrestling. Toy company Bandai quickly started producing the little two-inch figures as the show’s popularity soared. And like so many other things, when it became popular there, toy companies in the United States took notice, and Mattel launched its own line of the little pink warriors. Since the name Kinnikuman translates to “Muscle Man”, Mattel named the line M.U.S.C.L.E., as an acronym that stood for “Millions of Unusual Creatures Lurking Everywhere”. M.U.S.C.L.E. Men were produced from late 1985 – 1988 before finally fading from store shelves. Although their popularity was short-lived, it was impressive, as M.U.S.C.L.E. was listed as one of the 10 Best Selling Toys of 1986.

The little pink M.U.S.C.L.E. warriors were not really posable in any way, and were so small that you couldn’t really do much with them. But the fact that they came in multi-packs, and that they were marketed as “wrestlers” was enough to hook me initially. It was intriguing to see who would win in a fight between someone with a motorcycle for a body or a human with a ripped body and the head of a wild boar. Of course, who won that battle was up to the kid in control of the action. That is, until the Hard Knockin’ Rockin’ Ring Wrestling Arena came on the market.

It was a small yellowish-orange contraption with glorified rubber bands for ring ropes, and a plastic arm that held the two combatants. You and a friend would do battle by moving your wrestler side to side, Rock ’em Sock’em Robot style, in an attempt to knock your opponent off if his plastic control arm. If you did, you were the winner. The key was to find one whose body was slightly too big to fit in the controller, and then force him into it anyway. He would then be almost impossible to beat. My best friend and I would play this for a while, and each match, we would select a combatant. The winner would win the losing figure from its owner. Both his and my collection of these increased and decreased, depending on who had the better day of competition.

 

The big drawing point for me was two-fold. First, their small size made them easily transportable. It was quite easy to stuff several in each pocket and head off somewhere and take the action with me. The second part was the cheapness of the toys. For a kid with a light allowance, being able to pick up multiple little M.U.S.C.L.E. warriors in one package was quite the draw. They were typically available in cardboard and plastic pack of four figures for around $1. Then there was the clear trash can stuffed with 10 mighty M.U.S.C.L.E. Men for the low price of $3. So as you can see, a kid could grow their collection quickly with minimum allowance spent.

 

M.A.S.K. Insert From 1986

M.A.S.K.

Earlier this week I was thumbing through some 80’s comics books looking at the classic ads when I came across this absolute gem.  At first I thought it was just a short comic story insert featuring M.A.S.K., but then I found that immediately following the short, four page comic, was a few pages of M.A.S.K. merchandise!  As soon as I saw it, I knew I wasn’t the only one who would be interested in all this cool stuff, so here in it’s complete glory is the complete 12-page insert!  And probably the coolest, yet weirdest, part about all this is the fact they were giving away an actual Chevy Camaro.  When you think that the majority…the VAST majority…of people who would see this were kids, it makes the giveaway kind of a head scratcher.  But anyway, don’t let that ruin your fun!  Enjoy looking through this awesome insert from 1986.

MASK

M.A.S.K.

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