Category: Toys

Things I DIDN’T Have as a Kid

I’m sure we can all wax poetic about all the cool toys we had when we were kids and all the hours of fun they brought us.  But on the other side of that coin are all the things we wished and hoped for, but never had for whatever reason.  Well, here I’m discussing those things.  The things we would salivate over, plot and scheme to try to get, yet always came up short.  I hope some of you out there reading this had these things so you can fill me in on all the fun I missed out on by not having them.  So, if you DID have any of this stuff, please drop some memories in the comments, because I want to hear that they were as awesome as I always imagined they would be.


USS Flagg

 

G.I. Joe U.S.S. Flagg Aircraft Carrier

This single toy was, and still is, my Holy Grail. Never was there another toy that came before GI Joe in my eyes. It was the grand daddy of ’em all. I had most of the figures, the vehicles, the play sets, the action packs, and nearly anything else tied to the GI Joe toy line. But the one thing that always eluded me was this aircraft carrier.

When fully assembled, this toy was a whopping six feet in length! That goes beyond the realm of toy, and into the realm of something more like a coffee table. It was released in 1986 with a hefty retail price of $89.95, so it was definitely not to be found in my house. My dad would have had an easier time giving birth to one than actually paying that much for a toy.

But for years I would sit and think about all the cool battles that could have been had featuring the Flagg at the center of the action. It was so big, you could have incorporated many planes and helicopters on it’s deck. You could have loaded it with fifty or more figures without cramping things too much. Even while typing this, my mind is drifting away to endless assaults on Cobra Island with this thing as the center piece.

 

USS Flagg

As an adult in the early 2000’s, I tried again to acquire one. Searching on eBay, I found dozens of them, but none complete. The incomplete ones there were going for several hundred dollars. I actually did see one in a comic book shop one time, still sealed in it’s original box, but with a price tag of $1500. If I could have ever decided which child to sell, I may have ended up with it.

But who knows, maybe one day I’ll run across a good deal on a complete one and be able to purchase it. Then my friends, the battle for superiority of the bedroom will resume once more.

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Making a Super Sized Lego Set With a 3D Printer

OK, this dude has life figured out!  I’ve never really had a need for a 3D printer until I just watched this video.  This is such a bad ass idea, and one that I hope to duplicate one day soon.  Now that I’ve seen this, the possibilities are endless!  Re-create G.I. Joe figure parts, or make larger versions of He-Man figures.  So much could be done with one of the printers, I’m sure you could find a way for it to pay for itself in no time.

What about you?  What old toys would you want to re-make or re-size with a 3D printer?

Lawn Darts – The Most Dangerous Toy of All Time

Lawn Darts

Starting in the 1970’s, people began to cast a suspicious eye on the safety standards used in making toys. Parents and lawmakers began voicing their concerns and this led to new legal standards for what could and could not be sold to children at the toy store. Toys have become much safer over the years as a result of this, but a hazardous toy slips through the cracks every now and then and makes it to the market. One of the most notorious examples in recent memory is the case of Lawn Darts. These outdoor leisure items enjoyed a lengthy period of popularity, but quickly got yanked from the marketplace when its potential for danger became too obvious.

Lawn Darts began to appear in sporting goods and toy stores in the 1960’s and were made by various manufacturers (Sears Department Stores had their own Sears Lawn Darts, and so on). Also sold under the name “Jarts”, these items were 12 inches long, with a heavy tip made of metal on one end and decorative plastic fins at the other end. The metal tips were blunt so they wouldn’t cut the hands of the person tossing them, but remained pointy and heavy enough to stick in the ground they were thrown at.

Lawn Darts

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Who Remembers Battle Beasts?

Battle Beasts

Battle Beasts finally gave us the answer to a question that has plagued mankind since the dawn of time: If animals were bred into anthropomorphic warriors with cool-looking weapons and body armor, how would they play Paper, Rock, Scissors? But even better than answering that question, Battle Beasts let you play along, pitting your armada of wolves, hawks, walruses and spiders against your best friend’s legion of snakes, elephants, deer and gorillas. Oh, what a time to be alive…

In the mid-80’s, Japanese toymaker Takara added a new subset to its Transformers line: the Beast Formers. Like the early American Transformers, the Beast Formers had heat-sensitive “rubsigns” on the front of their chests, revealing the toy’s allegiance (Autobot or Decepticon) with the touch of a human finger. When the toys came to the U.S. in 1986, courtesy of Hasbro, the Transformers connection was dropped, and the Battle Beasts took on a style of their own.

The Beasts themselves were anthropomorphic “half-animals, half-warriors” from all over the wild kingdom. And we do mean “all over.” Pirate Lion and Ferocious Tiger may have seemed like naturals for combat, but Slasher Sea Horse, Panzer Panda, Killer Koala and Frenzied Flamingo had a rough time overcoming the cute and friendly reputations of their animal counterparts. Each small action figure also came with its own plastic weapon, but the real battles took place on the beasts’ chests.

Instead of the Autobot/Decepticon rubsign, the Battle Beasts wore “Battle Badges” on the front of their armor. When touched, the Battle Badge showed one of three Elemental Powers: Fire, Water or Wood. The idea was that kids could play a newer, higher-tech version of Paper, Rock, Scissors, with Fire burning Wood, Wood floating on Water, and Water dousing the Fire. And for a kicker, a small number of Battle Beasts held the power of the “Sunburst” in their Battle Badges. This Elemental Power trumped all, winning any battle it entered (the equivalent of the “Bomb” or “Superman” option, depending on which made-up Paper, Rock, Scissors rules you used).

Battle Beasts

Taking their Battle Beast forces into combat, kids went one-on-one with each other’s collections. Pick one figure from each side, rub the Battle Badge, and see who was victorious. But therein lay the problem for the casual Battle Beast player. There were several dozen Battle Beast animals, but if you only had two or four in your collection, it was kind of hard to pretend you didn’t know that Bloodthirsty Bison was Wood and Armored Armadillo was Water. Each animal came in at least three versions (one of each element, with the occasional Sunburst), but collecting them all was an expensive undertaking. Add in the problem of not knowing which element you had until the package was opened (“FIRE! WOOD! or WATER! You’ll never know until you own them!”), and you had the potential for much Battle Beast frustration.

Still, there was something cool about playing schoolyard games with deadly warrior animals, and the Battle Beasts became a minor rage for their short life span. Three series were released in the U.S., along with a few vehicles and assorted merchandise. Japanese kids got a fourth series, the Laser Beasts, which exchanged the rubsigns for clear gems in the beasts’ bellies that showed their signs when held up to light. But by that time, American kids were left playing Paper, Rock, Scissors the old-fashioned way.