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 in this edition of Retro Ramblings.
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 enamored 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 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 cavemen 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 was that you got to put the dinosaur skeletons together before you played with them, adding another layer of fun to the toy.
Crossfire from Milton Bradley
Raise your hand if you remember the badass commercial promoting this game. I can’t really see if you’re raising your hand or not, but if I could, and you weren’t raising your hand, I would pretend I didn’t see it out of pity for you. That commercial kicked seven kinds of ass and had more ass lined up down the street waiting to be kicked.
Besides Fireball Island, Crossfire may be the most fondly remembered board game from the era. It was pretty simple, as you and your opponent both were equipped with guns that shot small ball bearings across the surface of the board. You had to use those ball bearings to knock a couple of pucks into your opponent’s trench. At the same time, you had to keep your opponent from knocking them into your trench.
This game was just so much fun. It usually went quickly with someone winning after just a few minutes, but what a few minutes it was. Your hand would get sore from pulling the trigger so many times in just a short span. And loud. Holy crap was this a loud game to play with the ball bearings bouncing off the plastic sides of the game board at high speeds. I’m sure a fair number of parents second-guessed their decision to buy this for their kids.
G.I. Joe Toys from Hasbro
As you already know, G.I. Joe was my bag back in the ’80s. I had more than my fair share of Joes, Cobras, vehicles, and playsets, and I loved every one of them.
One of the bigger pieces I had was this Mobile Command center pictured on the left side of the image. That thing was massive with its three levels that would fold out. And when it was closed up, it actually rolled along. As Jason said on the pod, it looked like a sand crawler from Star Wars.
But the playset was filled with every kind of nook and cranny you needed. There was a jail cell for captured Cobras, a command center, gun turrets, missile launchers, and even a “trap door” that would allow the Joes to slide down from the top level to the ground in somewhat of a quick deployment mechanism.
I never had any hands-on experience with any of the other vehicles pictured in the ad, but I did have the Road Pig figure pictured in the set. He was instantly one of my favorite figures and was the resident badass on the Cobra side of things. He and Sgt. Slaughter went on to have numerous knock-down, drag-out battles in my bedroom.
Nintendo Games from Various
I never get tired of looking at old Nintendo game ads. Whether singular titles or ads like this featuring a glut of gaming goodness. Nintendo was the undisputed king of playtime in this era, and these games are the reason.
I see several that I actually owned featured in this ad. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Double Dribble, Contra, Defender of the Crown, and my all-time favorite game for the system, Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest.
Blades of Steel always piqued my interest, but I never got to play it. Bayou Billy had a lot of hype around it if I remember correctly, but I never was around it either. Skate or Die was a perennial favorite of my best friend Geoffrey so I got to dabble with it a little bit too. But like I said, these games were the reason Nintendo was king, and I don’t even know if I could figure up all the hours I spent on the games I mentioned above.
So that’s just a little sampling from the sixteen pages of awesome that was the Toys ‘R’ Us sale paper that Jason and I covered on The Retro Network Podcast. You can give it a listen to hear us talk about everything in it and share old memories. Before you give it a listen though, you can view the entire 16-page ad here.