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!
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.
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.
Mine isn’t exactly a toy, it’s a bike. Like every other boy in the 80’s, my main mode of transportation was a BMX bike. I rode a Huffy Pro Thunder. Jet black with yellow highlights and bright yellow rims that were made of actual lead. It was as heavy as a full grown grizzly bear and unwieldy as all get out. It had a coaster break (meaning you couldn’t pedal backwards) and no hand brakes. At that time, your bike was a sort of status symbol and Huffy was pretty much the bottom rung on the ladder. One of my best friends had a tricked out Kuwahara that was gorgeous and light but he came from money (whatever that meant in 1982 when I was twelve). A guy across town that I knew had a real life PK Ripper but he actually raced BMX bikes. I knew I’d never have either one of those.
A little closer to earth and possibly my grasp, however, was the Redline 700. Oh she was gorgeous. As its name might suggest, the paint and rims were highlighted with red and the saddle and tires were red. In my daydreams, mine would also have Oakley III grips and a set of California Lite pads. All red, of course. Anytime we rode anywhere that had BMX magazines, I’d find pictures of it and drool. I actually rode one once at a local bike store. Somehow I talked the guy into letting me take it for a spin. It was light as a feather compare to my Huffy and, for a split second, I thought about riding off to Mexico with it never to be heard from again. Truth be told, it was out of my reach, monetarily, as well but that didn’t stop me from dreaming. I wonder what it was cost to build that bike now?
– Eric Vardeman
Give Eric a follow on Twitter at @Eric_Vardeman, and you can find his retro memories right here on Retro Ramblings! His new weekly feature here on Retro Ramblings, Music Mondays, is awesome too. He looks back at the songs gracing the Top 40 list from 35 years ago in 1983! He’s also a talented singer/songwriter, and you should check out his music at EricVMusic.
I was pretty lucky as a ‘80s kid (some may say spoiled) to have several iconic toys. I mainly collected action figures and their vehicles/playsets. For instance, I had Castle Grayskull with several Masters of the Universe figures. Likewise, I had the Electronic Cat’s Lair and many Thundercats figures. I (still) have my diecast metal Voltron which I guarded from my friends like it was made of pure gold. I collected M.A.S.K., Rambo, The A-Team, Transformers, and Gobots. If I circled it in the Sears Wishbook, there was a good chance I was gonna see it under the Christmas that year.
Just based on cost and practical purposes (like most kids who lived in a normal size home), the one toy that eluded my collection was the G.I. Joe FLAGG aircraft carrier. I collected several Joes and vehicles like the Skystriker but the FLAGG always seemed out of reach. My childhood home did have a full basement and plenty of space for it but I’m not sure owning it just never seemed probable. This was still in a time when a good deal of playtime was outside so the FLAGG was easier to imagine during our army battles in the woods rather than owning and physically transporting the toy to friend’s houses. So while it would’ve been a dream come true to land my Skystriker on the FLAGG, I likely would’ve preferred as a kid to defend it with my plastic arsenal of weapons in my imagination.
– Jason Gross
Jason is the creative force behind Rediscover the 80’s and is always posting some of the best retro content you’ll find anywhere on the web. His twitter feed is a heavenly slice of the 80’s, so you should give him a follow there at @rd80s. He also hosts a fabulous podcast called, Memory Jogger, that you can find on iTunes and other fine podcasts sites. He and I collaborated last year to compile out list of our ten favorite episodes of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. Check out his five here, and then give my five favorites a look too!
Now while I don’t remember very much about this toy, I DO remember being super pumped when I saw the commercials. The producers did a very good job at making these things sound incredible. Supposedly, you could walk around playing “air drums” but actually produce drum sounds. Pretty cool concept.
They were a combo of fluorescent orange and yellow, a pretty extreme and eye catching color coordination back in the early 90’s. Each stick had a thin cord running from it to a sound box that you wore on a belt. All you had to do was make a striking motion in the air like you would while playing actual drums, and the sticks registered this “hit”, and sent a signal to the sound box that emitted a sound as if you had just rapped a snare drum.
I wanted these things so much. I could lay around and daydream about being the coolest kid in school if I had those things. Walking through the halls, playing a radical solo, with lots of girls following me and talking about how cool I was. Sigh. It just wasn’t meant to be I guess.
– Retro Rambler
As you should probably know, you can find me and my memories right here on Retro Ramblings, but you can also follow me on twitter @yesterdayville, like my Facebook page, and now you can see some cool retro videos over on the official Retro Ramblings YouTube Channel!
Don’t forget to let us know what toy YOU wanted by never had, and if you had any of this cool stuff we just talked about, share your thoughts and memories with us in the comments section below!