Tag: 80’s

The Mega Haul of Christmas 1986

 

Two weeks ago, I spent quite a bit of time working on, and posting the article, 1986:  The Year Santa Became Real, for the Christmas season here at Retro Ramblings. 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 the space in the article 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 play set.

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!

 

More Dukes of Hazzard:  Looking Back at Dukes of Hazzard Merchandise From the 80’s

 

 

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 ways 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.

The shine of this toy didn’t wear off anytime soon, but I had gotten quite a few other new toys this Christmas that required my attention, so I had to let the action cool down a little so I could get on to some of the other stuff like…..

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Christmas Mornings of the Past, Part 1

No other time of the year holds more nostalgic memories for me than Christmas.  All my life – from a kid, up through today – I spend all year long looking forward to this time of year, and making plans to make it as special as possible for my kids.  The climax of the whole season is Christmas morning itself.  That magical time of the year when you get up real early, and rush to the Christmas tree to see what Santa Claus has left for you.

It seems that Christmas morning is kind of a tally sheet for the year doesn’t it?  Like, as a kid, you had all these things you wanted all year, and all those wishes would culminate in that one single morning.  If you got a lot of loot, or very cool loot, your year was a success.  If not, well…better luck next year kid.  At least that’s the way it went in my mind all those years ago.  I had a few of what I thought were less-than-stellar Christmas mornings, but then 1986 came along and changed all of that.

Nowadays, I like to look back on different people’s Christmas mornings of years past and marvel at how cool it must have been to be in their shoes on those mornings so long ago.

Christmas Morning

So first up, this kid looks pretty pleased to have gotten the Go Bots Command Center play set under his tree on Christmas morning.  I was a big fan of the Go Bots cartoon, but only ever had two of the action figures….Loco and Dive-Dive.  Now while I wish I had more of the figures, and would have loved the Command Center, I never put it on any of my Christmas lists because it wouldn’t have been very much fun without a lot of the action figures to go along with it.

In the background on his right, someone has gotten some kind of G.I. Joe play set, because we can clearly see the opened box.  I’ve gotta take a few points away from this kid now knowing that he chose to pose with the Go Bots toy when he could have been posing with the G.I. Joe one instead.

I can’t really tell what his brother is holding in the background, but just in front of it is a nice looking piece of gold ribbon, which indicates their Christmas presents were probably well wrapped and made for a very nice presentation.  And I am almost certain, that on the far right of this photo, you can see what is the box of a G.I. Joe Cobra Rattler!

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that these kids had a pretty damn good Christmas.  A Go Bots play set, and a couple of G.I. Joe toys means a big Christmas morning, regardless of what other loot they may have found.

More Christmas Memories:  Making My Christmas Wish List From the 1986 Sears Wish Book

Man these kids really hit the jackpot!  You can clearly see a buffet of G.I. Joe play sets including the Cobra Rattler, Cobra Vamp, G.I. Joe Wolverine, and the G.I. Joe Dragonfly helicopter!  I don’t see any carded figures in the picture, but one can only assume these kids already have several of those.  I’m sure there was quite a battle fought between the Joes and Cobra later on this Christmas day.

More G.I. Joe:  My 5 Favorite Episodes of G.I. Joe

While this kids looks happy to have received the legendary Castle Grayskull, he doesn’t seem excited enough.  When I got my Castle Grayskull I ran around the living room shouting and jumping for joy.  I just don’t see that kind of enthusiasm pouring out of this kid.  It looks like there is a stack of boxes in the background that clothes are usually given in, so his senses may be dulled at the moment by opening all of those crappy presents before getting to the main event.

More He-Man:  Wax Pack Flashback – Opening a pack of He-Man Trading Cards From the 80’s

I bet these kids had one long, and awesome Christmas day filled with video game fun since they got the Atari Video Computer System that morning.  I just hope they got some cool games to go along with it.  I believe my brother had gotten his Atari for Christmas, but not I’m not sure as I can’t quite remember back that far.  But I do remember spending whole days playing it with him.

The one kid in this photo is handing off what looks to be a camera maybe?  I’m thinking that due to what appears to be a one of those old flashes that used to be on every camera.  Speaking of flashes, am I the only one who always loved the look of the long stack of flash cubes attached to the top of cameras from back in this time period?

So these three kids all look like they got exactly what they wanted for Christmas judging by the looks on their faces.  That poor dog in the arms of the little girl looks like he’s having a rough morning though.  I’d be willing to bet he was forced to play tea party or something with the girl and her new stuffed dog toy.

The kid in the cool red pajamas looks pretty bad ass on his new big wheel.  The particular one he is astride is the quite popular and sought after “Green Machine”.  That thing was pretty awesome due to it’s alternative steering versus tradition big wheel toys.

And the kid in the middle…the one after my own heart…holding up with pride his new set of Legos!  That would be the iconic Galaxy Explorer set.  My brother had that thing and I was never allowed to touch it.  What a douche.  Anyway, these kids look like they had a great day, and many days after that too thanks to the cool stuff they got for Christmas that year.

You can get a scaled down version of that cool space cruiser along with the book, Great Lego Sets:  A Visual History.  It is a fantastic look back at a lot of the most popular and well-remembered Lego sets of the 80’s and 90’s.  I highly recommend it.

We’ll do more of these Christmas morning photos next week, so check back then.  But you don’t have to wait that long for more retro Christmas content.  We’ve got fun stuff coming up each days this week, so visit often!

 

The Year Santa Became Real

By the fall of 1986, my thoughts were starting to turn to the coming Christmas season, and anticipation was starting to build for the holiday. The hope of children isn’t easily pushed to the side, but back in those days, I would be lying if I said that Christmas didn’t feel a little lacking.

Admittedly, I personally never felt slighted on Christmas morning. Whatever was under the tree from Santa Claus always left a lasting impression on me, even if I sometimes felt the little internal tug of wanting a little bit more. But when I would return to school, and see and hear about all the cool things my friends and others had gotten for Christmas, I would get a little jealous.

I was a good kid. I never caused trouble at school, and I definitely knew better than to cause trouble at home. I did my chores and I ate my vegetables, so why did I seem to be farther down Santa’s Nice list than some of the other kids? “Jonathon pushed Samantha down and hurt her arm”, “why did he get a huge Lego set and I only got a trumpet?”. “Zach punched me in the arm all year…hard.” “Why did he get a cool G.I. Joe HISS Tank and all the Dreadnoks figures and I ended up with a set of cars?” Such are the worrisome wonderings and questions of a kid who is not aware of all the comings and goings of adulthood.

What I didn’t know or understand back then, and actually I’m still learning and gaining a greater perspective on now, is that times were very tough for my family in the early eighties. My Dad was a self-employed business man. He bought and sold new and used conveyor belts to coal mines, and as the coal business went, so did my family’s financial well-being.

1983 was a very tough year. My Grandfather’s alcohol addiction was in the last stages of consuming his life, and my Dad spent more time helping my Grandmother, both emotionally AND financially, than he did on the business. The first week of December, my Grandfather passed away. Christmas was lean due to dealing with the emotional struggles of losing someone close, and the fact that so much time had been spent away from the business.

1984 came along, and so did the large-scale United Mine Workers of America strike in West Virginia…..primarily against the A.T. Massey Coal Companies and subsidiaries. West Virginia was always the bread basket of my Dad’s business. When strikes occurred, it crippled his business and our financial well-being for quite some time, and unfortunately, this strike would not be over quickly.

1985 came, and the strike was still on. It wasn’t resolved until late in the year. Too late for lost income to be made up. Several straight years of lean and underwhelming visits from Santa Claus was wearing on my faith in the man.

But then came 1986. The strike had been resolved, and with the mines back in full-time operation, orders poured in from all sides. It was a VERY good year. Not so coincidentally, Santa seemed to fill his sleigh completely just for my family. I guess he was making up for lost time.

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Planes, Trains, & Automobiles is a Thanksgiving Gem

Planes Trains and Automobiles

Anyone who has ever endured the horrors of holiday travel can appreciate this endearing tale of a man simply trying to get home to see his family. His adventurous and hilarious journey made Planes, Trains and Automobiles, released in 1987, a box-office hit for John Hughes and remains a beloved favorite among millions.

Neil Page is a stressed-out advertising executive who is traveling home from New York to Chicago for the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend. He quickly learns that this will not be an easy journey when his efforts to get a cab to the airport are unwittingly thwarted by portly shower ring salesman, Del Griffith (played brilliantly by John Candy). Things only go downhill from there.

Finally at the airport, he learns that the cab-stealing Griffith is seated next to him on his flight. A happy-go-lucky slob, Griffith manages to annoy Neil all the way to Kansas, where the plane is forced to land due to the increasingly bad weather. With all flights eventually cancelled, Neil decides to rent a car, only to be dropped off in the middle of an airport parking lot, his transportation nowhere to be found. After an angry (and hilarious) confrontation with the lady at the rental counter (a priceless scene with Edie McClurg), he decided to join forces with Del, a seasoned traveling salesman with many supposed connections.

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Wax Pack Flashback: Masters of the Universe Cards from 1984

Wax Pack Flashback

I don’t know about you, but when I was younger, trading cards were a big part of my everyday life.  I would spend plenty of my allowance on packs of baseball cards as well as non-sports cards of all kinds.  Then I’d smuggle my cards to school and trade them with friends, or sometimes just drool over their collection.  There was actually a summer where every single day with my friends was spent trading cards.

There is something very nostalgic to me about opening a pack of cards.  I’ve went on a bit of a binge lately and purchased a lot of old wax packs on ebay.  Everything from old baseball cards to Dick Tracy movie cards to Young Indiana Jones Chronicles cards.  I’ve bought a lot.  So with that said, it’s time to start opening these bad boys up and seeing what’s inside in what I like to call Wax Pack Flashback!

Up first is a pack of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cards from 1984.  This was an 88 card set, that also featured 21 different stickers, with one being randomly inserted into each pack.  The cards are in the animated style of the He-Man cartoon, and actually re-tell the episode titled “Like Father, Like Daughter” in comic strip form.  They used scenes from the episode along with word bubbles to tell the story, and the backs of the cards went more in-depth about the story being told on the front of the card.

 

He-Man Trading Cards

 

Just looking at the pack, it scream cool.  It’s funny, but I was a super huge mark for all things He-Man back in the day, but at the time, I didn’t even know these cards existed.  When I first came across a pack of them, I thought the packs themselves just looked really cool.  The packs featured four different characters on them.  He-Man, Skeletor, Teela, and Orko.  I’ve got one each of the He-Man and Skeletor packs featured prominently in a display case in my living room.

 

 

The back of the pack shows the Topps logo quite well, but nothing else of note really.  A lot of card packs from this era would feature some kind of candy ad on the back of the wrapper.

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MeTV to Air Christmas Episodes of Classic Shows Every Sunday

It’s my favorite time of year!  The time leading up to the Christmas holiday is full of Christmas movies and TV episodes in my house, and MeTV is making that a little easier this year with their A Very Merry MeTV starting this Sunday.  For the next seven weeks, MeTV is presenting three hours of Christmas themed episodes every Sunday afternoon.  Check out the schedule below to find when your old forgotten favorite will be on.

Sunday, November 12

The Facts of Life “The Christmas Show” 2PM | 1C

The Facts of Life “Christmas in the Big House” 2:30PM | 1:30C

Mama’s Family “Santa Mama” 3PM | 2C

Mama’s Family “Mama Gets Goosed” 3:30PM | 2:30C

The Lucy Show “Together for Christmas” 4PM | 3C

The Lucy Show “Lucy the Choirmaster” 4:30PM | 3:30C

Sunday, November 19

The Facts of Life “Christmas Baby” 2PM | 1C

The Facts of Life “Pre-Christmas Card” 2:30PM | 1:30C

Saved by the Bell “A Thanksgiving Story” 3PM | 2C

Mama’s Family “An Ill Wind” 3:30PM | 2:30C

Happy Days “The First Thanksgiving” 4PM | 3C

Cheers “Ill-Gotten Gaines” 4:30PM | 3:30C

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The Dukes Cartoon

The Dukes

Yessir, them Good Ol’ Boys from CBS’ insanely popular The Dukes of Hazzard came to Saturday morning in 1983. Actually, original Good Ol’ Boys Bo (John Schneider) and Luke (Tom Wopat) were too busy fussin’ and a-feudin’ with the powers that be to voice their animated characters. So as on the primetime show, they were replaced by Good Ol’ Cousins Vance (Christopher Mayer) and Coy (Byron Cherry). Catherine Bach (Daisy), Denver Pyle (Uncle Jesse), Sorrell Booke (Boss Hogg), and James Best (Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane) all provided the voices for their cartoon counterparts. Coltrane’s hound dog Flash was finally given a bark of his own by Frank Welker, who also did the honors for new addition Smokey the raccoon. Fences were mended later that year, and Bo and Luke rejoined the family both in live action and cartoon form.

The race and chase formula of the primetime series was expanded into a round-the-world race, with the Duke Boys trying to win enough money to pay off Boss Hogg’s mortgage on the Duke home. Naturally, Boss Hogg was perpetually scheming to sabotage the race, but the General Lee always managed to outrun Hogg’s Texas longhorn Cadillac.

“Whooo-ooooey, we’re gonna have some fun!”