Tag: Toys

M.U.S.C.L.E. Men Wrestling Toys

M.U.S.C.L.E. Men started out as a manga comic in the late seventies in Japan called Kinnikuman. It proved to be so popular, that an anime series of it was adapted and ran from 1983 – 1986, and focused around an intergalactic form of professional wrestling. Toy company Bandai quickly started producing the little two-inch figures as the show’s popularity soared. And like so many other things, when it became popular there, toy companies in the United States took notice, and Mattel launched its own line of the little pink warriors. Since the name Kinnikuman translates to “Muscle Man”, Mattel named the line M.U.S.C.L.E., as an acronym that stood for “Millions of Unusual Creatures Lurking Everywhere”. M.U.S.C.L.E. Men were produced from late 1985 – 1988 before finally fading from store shelves. Although their popularity was short-lived, it was impressive, as M.U.S.C.L.E. was listed as one of the 10 Best Selling Toys of 1986.

The little pink M.U.S.C.L.E. warriors were not really posable in any way, and were so small that you couldn’t really do much with them. But the fact that they came in multi-packs, and that they were marketed as “wrestlers” was enough to hook me initially. It was intriguing to see who would win in a fight between someone with a motorcycle for a body or a human with a ripped body and the head of a wild boar. Of course, who won that battle was up to the kid in control of the action. That is, until the Hard Knockin’ Rockin’ Ring Wrestling Arena came on the market.

It was a small yellowish-orange contraption with glorified rubber bands for ring ropes, and a plastic arm that held the two combatants. You and a friend would do battle by moving your wrestler side to side, Rock ’em Sock’em Robot style, in an attempt to knock your opponent off if his plastic control arm. If you did, you were the winner. The key was to find one whose body was slightly too big to fit in the controller, and then force him into it anyway. He would then be almost impossible to beat. My best friend and I would play this for a while, and each match, we would select a combatant. The winner would win the losing figure from its owner. Both his and my collection of these increased and decreased, depending on who had the better day of competition.

 

The big drawing point for me was two-fold. First, their small size made them easily transportable. It was quite easy to stuff several in each pocket and head off somewhere and take the action with me. The second part was the cheapness of the toys. For a kid with a light allowance, being able to pick up multiple little M.U.S.C.L.E. warriors in one package was quite the draw. They were typically available in cardboard and plastic pack of four figures for around $1. Then there was the clear trash can stuffed with 10 mighty M.U.S.C.L.E. Men for the low price of $3. So as you can see, a kid could grow their collection quickly with minimum allowance spent.

 

A Collection of Masters of the Universe Toy Commercials

If you’re on this site, then I probably don’t need to tell you just how big He-Man and the Masters of the Universe was back in the 80’s.  For a couple of years there, you couldn’t get through life without being bombarded with He-Man merchandise.  I know I certainly fell victim to the never ending stream of advertisements and tie-ins, and I’m better off for it since He-Man remains one of my favorite toys of all-time.  So here today, I’m just taking a look back at some of the old commercials for the toys, and reliving those great times.

So this is supposedly the first commercial aired for the toy line.  I have no way of verifying that, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.  It features He-Man, Skeletor, and Castle Grayskull.  Whether it’s the first commercial or not, it certainly is from very early in the run as there are no other figures mentioned or shown in the ad.

Another video from early in the run, once again featuring He-Man and Skeletor, but also introducing the Attack Trak vehicle this time.  I had the Attack Trak, but I sure don’t remember it working quite like it shows in this commercial.  I seem to remember mine having a hard time makig it’s way through the carpeting in our house and getting stuck.  Maybe it was not so much that the Attack Trak didn’t work as advertised.  Maybe it was the fact we still had thick shag carpet in our home at that point.

Ah, Point Dread and the Talon Fighter.  What an awesome toy this was.  Point Dread was actually designed to fit atop the tower on Castle Grayskull, so when you had both, it extended the playability of both.  In the cartoon, Zodiak was kind of synonymous with the Talon Fighter, so that’s how I used it in my play.  I remember getting both Point Dread and the Talon Fighter, as well as Zodiak for my sixth birthday.  That was an awesome combo right there.  However, I don’t recall the storybook and record combo that came with the toy though.  Maybe my mind is slipping.

Now this commercial is kind of the cream of the crop, because it pimps so many different aspects from the overall toy line.  You get to see not only He-Man and Skeletor, but all their friends on each side of the ongoing battle.  It also makes sure to pimp Castle Grayskull, Point Dread and the Talon Fighter, and some other vehicles including the Attack Trak again.  You could tell that they knew they had a hit toy on their hands, as the commercial is busting at the seems with numerous toys showing how they were ramping up the line pretty heftily.

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Nintendo Nostalgia: Game Genie

Game Genie

Now I don’t know about you, but the Game Genie did more to change my video gaming experience than any other device with the exception of the Nintendo itself.  Once I got my hands on it, it was in use every single time I played a Nintendo Game.  My best friend at the time, Geoffrey, was one of those kids that got whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted it.  He saw the commercial for this thing and went nuts.  I still remember the conversation we had on the phone that fateful night.  He said he had pitched such a huge fit wanting it, that his Dad drove him the half hour to the nearest department store and bought it for him.

The next day at school, he looked like a hungover zombie, as he had stayed up all night playing Nintendo.  I knew that I just had to make the trip to his house that weekend for a sleepover and check it out myself.  Sure enough, I had the chance that weekend, and was blown away with just how awesome that thing was.

More Nintendo Nostalgia | My Earliest Video Game Memories

I started saving my allowances immediately, and doing chores for folks around the neighborhood to earn extra money.  It actually didn’t take too long to get enough scratch together to go get one for myself.  Man, that thing revolutionized my game play.  Games that had previously had parts that I go so frustrated with that I quit playing the game, were now easily navigated, and I pulled those old suckers out and gave them new life.

It was some of the best money I’ve ever spent in my life.  And yes, I can say that still today.  It was revolutionary to be able to have unlimited lives, or unlimited ammo, or be able to make super jumps.  Now I know in all reality, it was cheating, but it made crappy games fun, and made fun games incredible.  Even now when playing roms on an emulator, I still google those old Game Genie codes and put them in play.

Looking Back at Electric Football

Electric Football

 

With the Superbowl coming up this weekend, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at a time before video game systems emulated the fun of football inside the home.  A time when you really had to work to set up your plays, and then hope that everything worked perfectly, and the little football players actually went where you wanted them to.  So here’s a look back at what “playing football” was like before things like Coleco Football, Tecmo Bowl, and Madden football games came along…..

Ever since enterprising toymakers hit on the gimmick of combining electricity and sports, many a fan has whiled his rainy-day hours away over miniaturized electric versions of his favorite outdoor games. Few U.S. sports are as popular as American football, so it came as no surprise when electric football became the king of this toy trend. These games have been popular for over five decades and continue to enjoy a fervent following today.

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Construx – One of the Best Toys of the 80’s

In 1983, Fisher-Price rolled out it’s newest toy creation.  It was called Construx, and was possibly the most versatile building/construction toy since the erector set.  It featured plastic beams in various lengths, multi directional connectors, plates, axles, wheels, pulleys, and much more.  What you could make with Construx was really only limited to your imagination.

 

Construx

 

Next to Lego, Construx was the greatest building toy that I ever laid hands on, and in some ways, it surpassed Lego. The size of the pieces and the way they were designed allowed for larger projects than Lego could handle, which allowed for such projects as bridges, buildings, and any other thing you could dream up. These were awesome if you had a fertile imagination…which my brother and I did, and we used our Construx to build goose neck trailers for our Tonka trucks to pull along, fork lifts to load those trailers, and a host of other equipment to be used with them.

 

Construx

 

The first set that I had was the Bridges and Tower set that came out in 1983. I remember it not being exactly easy to follow the directions and complete the build, but not so hard that I had to have help either. I just had to take a little longer than my older brother did to complete it. But when it was done, oh my was it ever a fun thing to play with. He and I ended up using those Construx bridges to enhance the fun in our G.I. Joe adventures. As a matter of fact, just about everything we built with the Construx were to play with some other toy line we had. Rarely did we build anything just for the sake of playing with the Construx. I would put together swords and ninja stars when I would watch a martial arts movie and then let my imagination run wild. I would use them to construct obstacle courses and run my G.I. Joe men through their paces trying to re-enact the latest episode of American Gladiators. We used them to build tunnels and other things to go along with our Hotwheels fun.

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Lego 1987 Shop at Home Catalog

Going back and looking through old catalogs from through the years is a great way to relive the past.  Here is a quick and easy way to go back to 1987, and enter the world of Lego at the time and see all of their play sets from that year.  This is their complete shop at home catalog for 1987.  Enjoy!

 

 

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How I Remember Christmas

Christmas

Like I’m sure it was for most kids, December 25th has always been one of those benchmark dates on the calendar. Along side my birthday, and the last day of school, it has always been a measuring point for the year. And for good reason, as I’m sure I’m not alone in enjoying the gift giving, gift getting, food, and fellowship that the magical holiday brings.

For me though, the highlight has always been about the time I get to spend with family. Especially my Dad. All through my years of growing up, my Dad traveled. He would be gone for roughly 300 out of the 365 days of a year. But his work always slowed down in December and he had a lot of time at home that lined up so well with our Christmas break from school. And while he himself never got overly excited about Christmas, he did so many little things to make it special for me. Things that most would not think are overly special, but so special to me, that I try to do the exact same things for my daughters every year now.

There is so much nostalgia built into the holiday season for me. So many different things about the holiday that trigger vibrant memories of some of the happiest times of my life. So here in this article, I want to share with you a lot of the little things that I enjoy during the Christmas season, their origins in the past, and some of the strong memories associated with them.

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