Growing up, and still today, I was a big fan of The Dukes of Hazzard television show. As I got old enough, I would watch the new episodes on Friday nights, and beyond that, it was shown in syndication on my local station every afternoon after school, so I had plenty of opportunity to watch.
What I didn’t realize until recently was just how much merchandise I had that came from the show. A while back, I mentioned having a Dukes of Hazzard TV tray that I would eat dinner off of occasionally. That sparked several other memories in me of stuff that I had that tied into the show that I had completely forgotten about. So today, I just want to review some of that stuff and relate some of my memories of those things.
We’ll just start with the first item that spawned the floor of memories, and talk about the TV tray for a moment. As several of you may remember, my Dad traveled a lot when I was younger. My brother was eight years older than me, and as soon as he was old enough too, he got a job working evenings and nights at the local grocery store. This left just me and my mom at home at night for dinner.
She would usually make one of our favorite “just us” meals like tomato soup with cheese sandwiches, or Sloppy Joes, or some other simple dinner. We rarely ate at the table since it was just the two of us, and instead we would eat dinner in the living room while watching TV.
I would usually sit on the living room floor, with my Dukes of Hazzard TV tray set up in front of me holding my dinner while we watched Batman (1966) on the Family Channel, and whatever would follow on the original Nick at Night.
Much like everything else on this list, I don’t know what happened to that TV tray, but I still have vivid memories of it and those times alone with my Mom as we bonded over dinner and classic TV.
What red blooded American boy who was a fan of the show didn’t have the Matchbox size replica cars? I know I sure did. Between my brother and I, we had a couple of the General Lee, four of the white Hazzard County police cars, Boss Hogg’s car, Daisy’s jeep, Uncle Jesse’s truck, and the rare golden Chickasaw County Police Car.
Of course the General Lee was the fastest in our Matchbox/Hotwheels collection, and not only could it out run those Hazzard County police cars, but also the Hotwheels City cop cars and anything else that tried to chase it down.
Those cars were the perfect licensed product for that show, since one the biggest attractions were the car chases featured, as well as the incredible stunts those Duke boys would pull off in the General Lee. The little cars made it so easy to replicate whatever you had just watched on the show, and provided countless hours of play time fun for my brother and me.
This is one of the stranger items on this list, but maybe one of the coolest as well. I’ve not taken the time to research exactly when these were issued or anything, but at some point in the 80’s, a deal was struck with McDonald’s to feature the vehicles from the show as boxes for Happy Meals.
They were made of a thin, molded plastic, two piece construction….a bottom and top…that held your Happy Meal inside. They came with a decal sheet that you would use to decorate it and make it look like the vehicle from the show.
Now why that may have been cool enough, let me tell you the real magic of these things. The plastic would crinkle just like the fender of a real car in a wreck! So I would spend hours playing with these things…having car chases and such, but sure enough, most chases ended with the vehicles crashing into each other and causing significant body damage. But fear not, because you could open it up, push out the dents, and start all over again.
I’m not sure how long they lasted until they were too beat up to repair, but I know I pushed them to those limits before I would let my Mom throw them out.
I came across a picture of these the other night, and it was like a lightning bolt striking me. My mind had lost all traces of the memory of having these things, but once I saw them, the memories came flooding back.
This was such a cool toy, as you had a small (smaller than Hot Wheels) General Lee car or Police car that would wind up so you could let it go and it would take off. You wound up the car and attached it to it’s “wrist” base, and left it there until you were ready to set it off on it’s journey. On the front of the base, was a pull out ramp that made it possible to lower your arm to the floor, and have the ramp ON the floor so when you launched the car it didn’t wreck once it left your wrist. One push of a button released the wound up car and it would zoom across the floor!
This was such a genius idea, and it was made all the better by the fact that it was built like a watch so that you could wear it around everywhere you went, and be ready to launch it at any time.
There’s a lot more merchandise to cover, but we’ll cover it later this week.. Next time around we’ll be looking at some of the Color Forms and other merchandise like the Dukes of Hazzard Big Wheel!