Tag: Toys

Remembering Micro Machines

The 80’s probably spawned more cool toys than all other decades combined.  There were the heavy hitters like G.I. Joe, Transformers, and Mask that everyone remembers, but then there are those toys that were totally awesome, but don’t get mentioned nearly as much.  One of those was Micro Machines.

 

micro machines

 

Micro Machines debuted from Galoob Toys in 1986, and hung around through the late 90’s.  Their claim to fame was the fact that they were 1/4 scale of Hot Wheels, and kids loved their extra small size.  Micro Machines came in a wide variety of vehicles that included cars, trucks, emergency vehicles, construction, planes, boats, There were also vehicles based on licensed properties such as Star Trek, Star Wars, Babylon 5, Power Rangers, GI Joe, James Bond, and Indiana Jones.  For 3 – 4 years, they were the largest selling toy car line in the country, with dollar sales that exceeded the combined sales of Hot Wheels, Matchbox, and Majorette!

Hot Wheels, only smaller. That’s not exactly true, but it’s what I though when I first saw Micro Machines. A friend of mine brought some to school, and I thought they were so cool, if for nothing else, that they were a lot easier to smuggle out of the house than actual Hot Wheels. But what I found when I got my first “collection” was that these were fine toys in just about any application.

 

Micro Machines

 

What I liked best about them, was that in the early years, you would get five vehicles per package. Instead of having to settle for one fire truck, you got five. Or maybe you got a fire truck plus other emergency vehicles to go along with it. You didn’t have to decide whether to get a bulldozer or a front end loader, but instead you got them both plus a dump truck, a concrete truck, and an excavator. It was a whole construction set in one package. Why settle for one fast corvette when you could get five from varying years. And while the cars may have been small, their play was as big as anything else on the market. They held up just as well as Hot Wheels did under my play conditions.

 

MORE TOYS  |  Five Fun Matchbox Toys

 

The play sets that went along with them were well designed too. They would transform from play sets to normal looking things like a can of car wax, or some other similar product. There were so many sets to choose from too. You had planes, ships, construction equipment, fast cars, service vehicles, army mobiles, and many others. I got older and lost interest in them just before they picked up the Star Wars license, but there were three lines that I favored over all the others.

The Semi Trucks they had were awesome. They came out a few years into the line and were a great addition, as you could round out your “city” with these.  There were flat beds, box trailers, and tankers of all different kinds.  Coming from a family whose Father drove a truck on occasion, it was cool to have these to mimic his job with.

 

Micro Machines Semi Trucks

 

Another was the addition of Micro Machines train sets. They were in scale with the rest of the line, and even came with their own tracks.  There were several different sets to choose from, each in their own color scheme and type of train.  I always wanted multiple sets just to have enough track to actually do more than a circle loop with.

 

Micro machines Trains

 

And last but not least were the monster trucks. All the popular ones of the day were available in either two or three packs, I can’t remember which, but I had a ton of them. Grave Digger, Carolina Crusher, Equalizer, Mad Dog, and many others were available for your car crushing needs. And again, these were in scale with the rest of the line, so you could line your cars up and run over them with the monster trucks.

 

Micro Machines Tuff Trax

 

Micro Machines was an awesome toy line, and a fun part of my childhood.  It doesn’t get the nostalgic attention that other popular lines from the 80’s do, but it will forever be one of my favorites.

 

Lawn Darts – One of the Most Dangerous Toys 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.

More Toys  |  Things I Always Wanted but Never Had

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.

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Five Fun Matchbox Toys

Matchbox

Growing up in the 80’s and early 90’s, Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars were a big part of my play time.  Both lines produced a lot of really fun cars and play sets, and here are just five of my favorites from the Matchbox side of things through the years.  Don’t worry, I’ll cover the Hot Wheels side of things at some point in the near future.

 

Matchbox Car Wash

Matchbox Super Spin Car Wash

After a long day of play in the dirt and mud of the hills around our house, a good car wash was just what the cars and trucks needed.  This car wash was kind of automatic…as in you had to get the car in the wash and then turn a crank and it would go all the way through.  It featured real water jets, a foam roller “scrub” brush, and a spin dry feature.  The perfect play set for getting all of your cars clean before packing them away for another day.

Watch the commercial for the Matchbox Super Spin Car Wash HERE

 

Days of Thunder

Days of Thunder Cars from Hardees

In 1990, Jerry Bruckheimer’s Days of Thunder movie starring Tom Cruise hit theaters to a great reaction, and merchandise based on the movie started to flow.  One of the better pieces of merchandise to come along were the replica cars from Hardees based on the stock cars from the movie.  The five main cars featured in the movie were in the set, which allowed us younger viewers of the film to recreate all the action at home.

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Was Dark Tower the Best Board Game of the 1980’s?

Dark Tower Board Game

“A Fantasy Adventure Born of Electronic Wizardry”

It was like every planet in the game universe had suddenly aligned. It was a board game, it was an electronic game, it was Dungeons & Dragons, all rolled into one. Milton Bradley called it Dark Tower; we called it “Dear God, I promise I’ll never ever do anything bad ever ever again if you make sure I get this game, and please make world peace, amen.”

The center of this 1981 game was the Dark Tower itself—not only did the big edifice loom over the circular game board, it was also the engine that made the whole game run. The object was to work your warrior’s way around the circular board, all the while building up armies, finding three needed keys and hoarding supplies of gold and food. Individual gamecards with red and white pegs kept track of your current physical and financial status, but the real action took place inside the tower itself.

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8 Board Games I Love

Board games have long occupied space in closets and on book shelves, and have entertained families of all types and sizes for decades. While growing up, my brother and I spent many days and hours playing games, just like my daughters do today.

I admit, when the original Nintendo came along, I spent far less time with the conventional board game, and shifted most of my focus to video games. Even so, I have so many fond memories attached to board games, so here today I’m taking a trip down memory lane to look at six of my favorite board games from days gone by, and two more recent ones.


Monopoly

Monopoly

When I hear “board game”, Monopoly is the first thing that comes to mind. I would consider it the “Boardwalk” of board games, while all the others are “Vermont Ave” or “St. James Place”.

The current recognized version was first published in 1935 by Parker Brothers. It underwent a major resign in 2008 that saw Mediterranean and Baltic Avenues colors from purple to brown, and GO from red to black. It also changed the Income Tax to a flat $200, and upped Luxury Tax from the original $75 to $100.

When I was a kid, my family would play, but in the beginning, I was too young to be in on the game. When my time finally came, I instantly fell in love with it. I thought I was a big deal when I could barter my way to a “Get Out of Jail Free” card, or buy Oriental Ave. Unfortunately, I didn’t understand back then how the game worked and would usually be quickly put out of the game due to faulty business decisions.

As I grew older, I graduated from playing with family to playing with friends, where the playing field was a little more level. As an adult, my friends and I came up with a set of additional rules that we called “Survival Monopoly”. It threw in things like “everyone moves one chair to the left”, meaning that you now owned all of your neighbor’s property, and left yours behind to be taken over by someone else.

From the simple color schemes, to the simple rules, playing this board game these days always takes me back to another place in time. A place when I was sitting in front of the fire-place, with my brother and my folks enjoying the evening together. It’s one of the things that brings back some of the strongest feelings of nostalgia within me, and makes me ache to go back. But at the same time, the game helps me stay anchored in the present, as I love to play the game with my daughters. I see in their faces the same joys of playing the game that I have always experienced, and know that I am helping to create in them something that one day they will look back on with similar nostalgic feelings.

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Retro Round Table: Toys We Never Had

Toys We Never Had

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!


X-Men Mutant Hall of Fame

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.


Transformers Soundwave

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.

– Spyda-Man

You can check out Spyda-Man’s retro home on the web at 20 Years Before 2000.  You can also follow him on twitter @20_Years_Before. Continue reading “Retro Round Table: Toys We Never Had”

Catalog Pages: 1982 Sears Wish Book featuring G.I. Joe

I love going through old catalogs from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s to reminisce on the fashion trends, gadgets of the time, and especially the toys.  The Sears Christmas Wish Book is the jackpot of catalogs as far as all that is concerned.  They almost act as time capsules, taking you back in time for a look at how things were each year.

Today I’ve got a heck of a page from the 1982 Sears Wish Book, as it features almost all of the original toys from the G.I. Joe:  A Real American Hero line!  This G.I Joe line is my favorite toy line of all time, so it has been a lot of fun looking back at this page.  Let’s take a tour of it.

Sears Wish Book GI Joe

As you can see, this page has all the heavy hitters…with the exception of the HAL.  There are a couple of the larger action vehicles at the top, along with the exclusive Cobra Command Missile HQ, sets of different figures, the smaller vehicles and action sets, and a sweet G.I. Joe tent!  Let’s go in for a closer look.

Cobra Missile Command HQ

So here is a closer look at the Cobra Missile Command HQ, and from reading the description at the bottom of the page, it comes with the three Cobra figures in the box above, which means you get Cobra Commander, a Cobra Officer, and a Cobra trooper!  Seems like an absolute bargain for just $10.99 even for 1982

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