Tag: Toys

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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The Hottest Christmas Toys Through the Decades: The 1950’s

Christmas Through the Decades

 

It doesn’t matter how far back through the decades you go, each Christmas season has had it’s “must-have” hot toy that all the kids wanted.  Cabbage Patch Kids dolls were hot in 1983, but Davy Crockett coonskin caps were just as hot in 1954.  We’re going to be taking a look back at the hottest toys for Christmas’s through time, and this time we’re looking at the 1950’s.  You can also check out the decade of the 1940’s.

 

1950

Buzzy Bee

Buzzy Bee

Fisher-Price introduced the Buzzy Bee, a wooden pull-toy shaped like a bee whose yellow plastic wings not only rotated when pulled but made a delightful clacking sound.  Further delight was added by red wooden balls that waved at the end of coiled-spring antennae.

 

Hopalong Cassidy Lunch Boxes

Hopalong Cassidy Lunch Boxes

Hopalong Cassidy lunch boxes, inspired by the new TV hit, flew off the shelves.  Before December is out, over 600,000 had been sold.

Continue reading “The Hottest Christmas Toys Through the Decades: The 1950’s”

The Hottest Christmas Toys Through the Decades: The 1940’s

 

It doesn’t matter how far back through the decades you go, each Christmas season has had it’s “must-have” hot toy that all the kids wanted.  Cabbage Patch Kids dolls were hot in 1983, but Davy Crockett coonskin caps were just as hot in 1954.  We’re going to be taking a look back at the hottest toys for Christmas’s through time, and we’re starting with the 1940’s.

 

1942

Little Golden Books

Little Golden Books

Little Golden Books published it’s first twelve books.  1.5 million copies were sold in the first 5 months alone.

 

Lionel Paper Trains

Lionel Paper Trains

After being forced to halt production to their normal metal trains due to the war, Lionel offered a paper train for the holiday season.  In its Model Builder magazine and its Railroad Planning Book, Lionel urged boys and their dads to start planning their post war railroad now.

 

1943

Chutes and Ladders

Chutes and Ladders

Produced by Milton Bradley, Chutes and Ladders created a fervor among kids everywhere.

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Christmas Mornings of the Past

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.

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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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Looking Back at Random Dukes of Hazzard Merchandise, Part 2

A few days ago, I did a post highlighting several different pieces of Dukes of Hazzard merchandise I had when I was younger.  (Dukes of Hazzard Merchandise Part 1) So here we are again as promised for Part 2 of looking back at some cool Dukes of Hazzard Merchandise from the 80’s.

Dukes of Hazzard Bowl, Plate, and Cup

I don’t think this set came with the TV tray, but who knows.  I remember sitting around before school, and more mornings than not, my breakfast was served on these fine pieces of plastic.  And it was a hard plastic.
Each piece featured scenes from the show, and I would sit and stare at those pictures morning after morning.

Dukes of Hazzard Etch-a-Sketch Scenes

Etch-a-Sketch was such a brilliant toy, and is still a big hit with kids today.  As much fun as it was trying to create a masterpiece work of art, you could ramp up the fun even more by adding a fun sheet over the Etch-a-Sketch itself.  These were things like mazes, race courses and other things that would test your knob turning ability.
There was a Dukes set that featured several games you could play on your Etch-a-Sketch, but my personal favorite was the maze.  There was a Hide and Seek style game, a Boss and Roscoe roadblock game, and a Cooter to the Rescue game.

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Looking Back at Dukes of Hazzard Merchandise From the 80’s, Part 1

Growing up, and still today, I was a big fan of The Dukes of Hazzard television show.  As I got old enough, I would watch the new episodes on Friday nights, and beyond that, it was shown in syndication on my local station every afternoon after school, so I had plenty of opportunity to watch.

 What I didn’t realize until recently was just how much merchandise I had that came from the show.  A while back, I mentioned having a Dukes of Hazzard TV tray that I would eat dinner off of occasionally. That sparked several other memories in me of stuff that I had that tied into the show that I had completely forgotten about. So today, I just want to review some of that stuff and relate some of my memories of those things.
And when you’re done reading this part, be sure to check out Part 2 of Dukes of Hazzard Merchandise from the 80’s.
Dukes of Hazzard TV Tray

Dukes of Hazzard TV Tray

We’ll just start with the first item that spawned the floor of memories, and talk about the TV tray for a moment.  As several of you may remember, my Dad traveled a lot when I was younger.  My brother was eight years older than me, and as soon as he was old enough too, he got a job working evenings and nights at the local grocery store.  This left just me and my mom at home at night for dinner.
She would usually make one of our favorite “just us” meals like tomato soup with cheese sandwiches, or Sloppy Joes, or some other simple dinner.  We rarely ate at the table since it was just the two of us, and instead we would eat dinner in the living room while watching TV.
I would usually sit on the living room floor, with my Dukes of Hazzard TV tray set up in front of me holding my dinner while we watched Batman (1966) on the Family Channel, and whatever would follow on the original Nick at Night.
Much like everything else on this list, I don’t know what happened to that TV tray, but I still have vivid memories of it and those times alone with my Mom as we bonded over dinner and classic TV.

Continue reading “Looking Back at Dukes of Hazzard Merchandise From the 80’s, Part 1”