Crossfire

Five Highlights From a 1988 Toys ‘R’ Us Sale Paper

On this week’s episode of The Retro Network Podcast, Jason and I scoured through an old Toys ‘R’ Us sale paper from 1988. Even at just sixteen pages, the thing was loaded with all kinds of cool toys from the past. You can listen to us salivate over everything in the ad on the show, but here are five things from it that I want to highlight.

Army Gear Playsets from Galoob

Until we recorded the show, I was completely unaware of the existence of these incredible looking toys. They’re kind of like Transformers in that they’re two distinct toys in one. Like the M-16…you could play with it as a machine gun while running around chasing the neighbor kids, but you could also open it up into a playset for the Combat Troops.

Besides the M-16, it looks like there was also a flashlight that transformed into an air defense station, a watch that transformed into some kind of missile base, and a pistol that turned into a 3-level silo…and they had sounds!

Not to mention the combat troops themselves which you would obviously need to ramp up the fun with the playsets. And for just $3.99 you got ten good guys and ten bad guys to battle it out. This is a line I’m going to have to look into further.

Bone Age from Kenner

Way back when, well I guess in 1988 as it turns out, I saw commercials for what I thought were pretty cool looking toys. I never ended up having any of them, and they gradually slipped from my mind until just a few years ago. I searched high and low for a name for the toy line with no luck. Then I did what I should have done in the first place. I turned to Twitter for the answer and got it pretty quickly. Bone Age.

I had been enamoured with the “vehicles” and the like from the line, and still am today. So when we flipped the page in the sale paper and happened upon these things, I was ecstatic. These aren’t even the best representations of the toys in the line. It wouldn’t fit this post if I started adding in images from other sources, so you’ll just have to google them yourselves.

But the gist is that you’ve got these big skeleton dinosaurs and the cave men that ride on them I guess. But some of the other toys in the line are net launchers and other such fancy weapons. Maybe the coolest thing about them were that you got to put the dinosaur skeletons together before you played with them, adding another layer of fun to the toy.

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Nintendo

Nintendo Nostalgia: My First Experience with the NES

Let me set the stage for you.  It was spring or early summer 1987.  I’m 9 years old and hanging out at my grandparent’s house on some lazy day.  My uncle Ernest is there visiting too, and somehow the conversation turned to him talking about this new thing called Nintendo that he had gotten for my cousin Tim.  I’m sitting and listening in puzzlement and amazement at the same time.

I’ve not heard of this Nintendo thing.  Somehow, someway, all the marketing and hype for it had completely eluded me.  Heard about it at school? Nope. Talked excitedly about with my friends? No, missed out on that one too.  In what was surely a massive marketing blitz and rampant fever for Nintendo, I had somehow been completely oblivious to its existence.

So continuing to listen to Ernest as he spun intriguing tales of this game called Super Mario Brothers, I am becoming increasingly jealous of Tim and this “wonder box” that he now owns.  Then it happens. Ernest looked at me and said that I should come over and play it with Tim. He promised I would love it. The man had no idea what he had just unleashed upon me.

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Tetris

Nintendo Nostalgia: Tetris

We all know the story of this game. Several different odd-shaped blocks fall from the top of the board, and you had to rotate them, move them left or right to get them to drop into position to complete a line and make it go away. If you weren’t quick enough or smart enough to do that on a consistent basis, your board would be full and your game would be over.

My first experience with the game came with the launch of the Game Boy.  A local department store had the Game Boy demo set up in their electronics department.  Every weekend while my mother would do her shopping, I killed time playing Tetris on the demo machine.  It wasn’t long until I had enough money saved up to buy the game for the NES, and then a much bigger, and full-color version of the game was mine.

It was so simple of a game, even an adult could play it too!  And that’s exactly what happened at my house, and why this game is so high up the list. My father never would play video games. He didn’t even like to sit and watch me play a game. So when he saw how easy Tetris was, he wanted to give it a try. For months afterward, we would play it together, seeing who could get the highest score and the most completed lines. He would even be the one most times to suggest us playing. Those times spent with my Dad, doing something that I loved are ones that I’ll never forget, and Tetris gets a high spot on my all-time list because of it.