This month, my buddy Chad is running Slam Fest over at his blog, HorrorMovieBBQ, and I thought I would jump on the train for this Friday Five and highlight five of my favorite wrestling toys from through the years. To begin with, I’ve got to start where it kind of began for a lot of people…LJN WWF Superstars figures!
LJN WWF Superstars
This was the wrestling action figure line that most folks would say was their first. It kind of was for me, but I never had a truly great experience with it. I first saw them when a neighbor kid at my grandmother’s house brought over his Hulk Hogan, Big John Studd, and Andre the Giant figures. I was mesmerized. I told my Mom about them, and that I wanted some. For Christmas, I got a Nikolai Volkoff figure, and a Mean Gene Okerlund. Now I love Mean Gene, but what the hell was I going to do with his figure? Have him interview Volkoff over and over again? This was not a good start. A while later, I got a Junkyard Dog figure, but by then, the bloom was off the rose for me as far as these figures went. In the meantime, I had played with them a couple of times at my cousin Tim’s house. He had the ring to go with the figures, so it was really cool. I still love these figures, but I never owned enough of them myself to put it really high on my all-time list of favorite toys.
WWF Thumb Wrestlers
Sticking with the WWF, these Thumb Wrestlers were my consolation to not having the LJN figures. I was actually able to pick up several packs of these with my weekly allowance, and that gave me enough variety to really enjoy having these. I had Hulk Hogan, JYD, Hillbilly Jim, Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, and Big John Studd. Like I said, enough variety to play around with and have some matches.
Now, these things weren’t great as what they were designed to be. They were too cumbersome to put on your thumb and have actual thumb-wrestling matches. I tried taking them to school to do that very thing with but failed miserably. They were great for just playing with and having them do moves to each other with though.
In this week’s Top 5, I’m running down my Top 5 Favorite Hot Wheels Toys from when I was a kid. There have been plenty of cool Hot Wheels toys that have come along in recent years, but my list is looking at Hot Wheels toys from the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. I’m not including any individual cars this time out, because I plan on counting those down in a separate list. Let’s get to the Top 5!
Hot Wheels Sto and Go Playsets
Hot Wheels made their own playsets for a while called Sto and Go. You can’t see it in this picture, but these things folded up and made their own carrying case, hence the name Sto and Go. They made several versions of this playset, but the construction one pictured above was my favorite one. I had a lot of various construction themed vehicles and this playset really ramped up the construction zone fun.
Hot Wheels Master Caster
The Master Caster was such a cool idea. It was a Hot Wheels car factory, that allowed you to make your own Hot Wheels cars out of wax! You could get colored wax bars to use in it, or you could just take the paper off some crayons and dump them in. That gave you the ability to create some cars with really custom colors. There were several molds you could use, and it came with wheel and axle sets to use. It would heat the wax, and with a turn of the handle, you could pour the melted wax into the mold to make the car. It was quite the next level toy for Hot Wheels loving kids. I never actually owned it, but my brother did, so I got to make a few cars of my own.
I’m bringing back my old feature, Top 5. It’s where I do a quick list of my five favorites from a variety of topics. With the two big days of Christmas upon us, this time I’m ranking the Top 5 presents I received for Christmas through the years. It’s too hard to put these in any kind of order of most favorite to least, so I’m listing them in the order of when I received them. Feel free to leave your own top 5 in the comments at the bottom.
I’ve got a feeling I got this in 1984, since it probably wouldn’t have been like my old man to buy it in 1983 when my fandom was just blossoming for all things He-Man. He generally liked to wait until he was sure I was really into something before dropping a lot of dough on it. But what kid out there who was lucky enough to get this for Christmas wouldn’t enjoy it? I know I flipped for it. I’ve got an old polaroid of me just after opening it, and I’m crying. They had to be tears of joy. But this was the highlight of my Christmas that year, and countless battles were fought around, in, and for Castle Grayskull in the following months and years.
Recently, I spent quite a bit of time working on and posting a feature called, 1986: The Year Santa Became Real. 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 space in the feature 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 playset.
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!
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 way 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.
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 really 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.
So first up, this kid looks pretty pleased to have gotten the GoBots Command Center playset under his tree on Christmas morning. I was a big fan of the GoBots 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 playset, 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 GoBots toy when he could have been posing with the G.I. Joe one instead.
Enjoy this old school trip back in time and check out Woolworth’s Christmas catalog from 1954. It was a time of simpler toys, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t a large selection to choose from. This would be our parent’s and grandparent’s version of a Sears Wish Book. So flip through, and see what it would have been like for them.