Halloween at McDonald’s

Halloween is one of the “big 3” nostalgic holidays for me, waffling back and forth between second and third place with Thanksgiving on my list, and Christmas being firmly in the number one spot.  There has always been so much to love about Halloween.  From the costumes to the candy, memories of harvest festivals, the scary movies, and the fall weather.  But one thing that sometimes gets overlooked is just how wonderful a lot of the promotions that companies run are tied to Halloween.  One of the best examples of this has been McDonald’s, and that’s what we’re looking at in today’s Retro Ramblings.


As I related before, one of my favorite things to find in my trick-or-treat bag at the end of the night were gift certificates in general, but McDonald’s gift certificates in particular.  They made them available to purchase in little booklets and featured coupons entitling the bearer to a free small ice cream cone, or free small french fries, a small soft drink, or at times, a small Sundae.  These little certificates were like some kind of savings bond for a kid.  You knew it didn’t hold much value when you were holding it on Halloween night, but you also knew that in the future, that thing was worth something.  For me, I would fold them up and put them in my Velcro wallet and eagerly await the next trip to town where I would pester my mom to no end about stopping at McDonald’s to cash in my certificate.  The fries, or a cone, or soft drink always tasted better when they were gotten with those Halloween gift certificates.

Maybe my favorite Halloween tie-in that McDonald’s came up with was their Halloween Happy Meals, where everything came in one of those cool Jack-o-Lantern buckets.  They initially released them in 1985, and they were such a hit, that they kept them going for many years afterward.  Some years, they would make slight changes to the faces on them, but in 1989 they made a major change when they added a ghost bucket and a witch bucket.  Of course, I had to have them all.  They were the perfect size for a Happy Meal, as the burger and fries fit nicely inside.  And they were the perfect size for a lot of other things too.  My mom would go every week and get us each a Happy Meal during the Halloween season so she could get buckets too.  She used them for things like storing clothespins, while I used mine for storing smaller toys like Micro Machines.  The only thing I found they weren’t good for was using them as your candy bucket for trick or treating.  They just weren’t big enough for that.  But dang, they were such a cool concept, and one of my favorite memories of Halloween from through the years.

The last thing that I remember making a big splash with me way back when were the Halloween McNugget Buddies toys that came out in 1992.  Now while getting an animated-looking chicken nugget toy with a face was pretty great on its own, giving it a removable Halloween costume just took things to a whole other level!  The toys were well made, and so much fun to put on display in their costumes.  McDonald’s created seven different McNugget Buddy characters and each had its own costume.  You could even interchange them between the buddies.  There wasn’t much to differentiate the McNugget Buddies from each other except their facial expressions, but it was still fun to mix and match their costumes between them.

McDonald’s has stolen my heart many times through the years in various ways, and their Halloween promotions were always one of the highlights of the season for me.  What about you?  Do you have any fast food Halloween preferences?  Let’s talk about them in the comments.

Five of My Favorite Halloween Treats

The Halloween season is upon us, and I thought it would be fun to go back in time to the days of trick-or-treating and look at just what were some of my absolute favorite things to find in my treat bag at the end of the night.  Now, don’t get me wrong, it was hard for any treat to be classified as “bad”, but we all had the favorites that we hoped to get a sack full of by the end of the night.  Here in this Retro Ramblings, are five of my favorites!


Nerds Candy

When I was young back in the ’80s, there wasn’t much more revered candy amongst my friends than Nerds.  We all loved these things.  We’d carry the normal-sized boxes of them to school with us and compare flavors.  So when the snack-sized boxes came along, we were all stoked.  It was a big deal for a few years though to get these on Halloween night.  We’d all bring in our Nerds haul to school and see who really hit the jackpot. 

Candy Cigarettes

I know these things aren’t exactly politically correct these days, but back then, people didn’t see anything wrong with them.  A lot of Dads smoked then, and one of the coolest things you could do was to imitate your Dad.  I’d “puff” on these things for a while trying to look cool, but it didn’t take long for that chalky flavor to overcome me and I’d have to gobble them down.  Not only that but in school, we treated candy cigarettes like prisoners do real cigarettes.  You could trade these things for all kinds of stuff between classes. 

Gift Certificates

Now I’m not talking about things like a $10 Starbucks card.  No, I’m talking about the ones for free cones or fries at McDonald’s.  While you couldn’t necessarily enjoy these the night you got them, it was like having money in the bank, and you anxiously waited for the day you got to go cash them in.

Packs of Baseball Cards

At that time, collecting and trading baseball cards was a rite of passage.  All my friends were into it, and so was I, so anytime you could get a pack of cards was great.  On the street where I did all of my trick-or-treating, there was an older fellow who was really into cards, and to pass along the joys of the hobby to the next generation, he gave out wax packs of baseball cards as Halloween treats.  This world needs more folks like that man. 

Treat Bags

While getting all the individual items mentioned above was great, it was always more exciting to get a full little treat bag that held untold treasures inside of it.  Historically for me, these things usually had a mini candy bar in it, with some Tootsie Rolls thrown in, and usually another item like a spider ring.  These treat bags were the epitome of the phrase, “more bang for the buck”, and still would be my favorite thing to find in my treat bag.

Old McDonald’s Tray Liners

For this edition of Retro Ramblings, I’m doing something a little different. I’m highlighting a few old tray liners from McDonalds. You know what I’m talking about, those pieces of paper that would be on your tray. The ones you’d spend the whole meal going over with a fine tooth comb back before we had smart phones to stare at while eating.


Batman Returns

This old liner would certainly give you something to do while enjoying your Happy Meal. Batman Returns was a big deal in 1992 when it hit theaters, and this tray liner does a great job of building the hype for younger fans like myself.

Super Mario Brothers 3

My God this thing is beautiful. These were on the trays at the same time they were doing the Super Mario Brothers 3 Happy Meals. Not only is this gorgeous to look at, but it also featured games too! That was a bonus on top of the Super Mario Brothers 3 toy you most likely had already started playing with as soon as you could get it out of your Happy Meal box.

Happy Pail Happy Meal

Here’s another nice piece of artwork that once adorned plastic trays in a fast-food restaurant. I remember getting these Happy Meals at least twice…maybe in the same season, but I’m not sure. But I distinctly remember having the pail to play with at the beach, and again at the lake. I’d have to check to be sure, but I think they did these pails in more than just one summer.

McDonald’s McPizza

Oh goodness…the McPizza. One of McDonald’s epic failures from a financial standpoint, but at the same time, one of their most fondly remembered menu items. My cousin was a huge fan, but I could take it or leave it.

Shanghai Chicken McNuggets

There’s a lot of nostalgic love out there for the Shanghai McNuggets, and for good reason. The three sauces! Those new additions were so good. They even kicked the eating difficulty up a notch by adding chopsticks to the meal. I don’t think this meal in this incarnation would fly in 2022, but what a time it was to be alive back then.

Some of My Favorite Saturday Morning Cartoons of the ’80s

For today’s installment of Retro Ramblings, I’m you with a few of my favorite Saturday morning cartoons from the ’80s. I put a couple of stipulations on myself for this one. First, only Saturday morning cartoons. No before or after-school syndicated cartoons, so that knocked stuff out like He-Man and G.I. Joe. Second, all the cartoons on this list had to debut in the ’80s, so no Scooby-Doo either. I’ll tackle all of those missing cartoons at some point in the future, but for now, let’s get into these Saturday morning cartoons of the ’80s!


The Smurfs

To me, The Smurfs were not only one of my favorite cartoons, but I think the case could be made that it was one of the best cartoons to come out of the decade. I loved the medieval setting along with all of the forest stuff in it as well. For some reason, I was always a fan of seeing stuff get built, and The Smurfs had a lot of that. I remember when Handy had to get everyone together to build a dam. I’m sure I pulled out some LEGOs and tried to recreate that at some point during that Saturday afternoon.

Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears

A lot about why I loved the Smurfs also applies to why I loved The Gummi Bears. Medieval theme? Check. Lots of forest action? Check. Getting to see them build stuff? Check off that one as well. Beyond the Smurfs though, the Gummi Bears had such rich colors in its animation, and the lore behind it I found more engaging than that of The Smurfs. It hit on all cylinders for me and was a cartoon that I dared not miss on Saturday mornings.

Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling

Being into pro wrestling like I was, there was no way I wasn’t going to watch this one. I can remember knowing about it well in advance of its debut, probably from constant hyping on WWF Superstars if I had to guess. But even though most of the plots had little to nothing to do with actual wrestling, it was still a really fun cartoon. As much as I enjoyed the animated part, I believe I enjoyed the live-action comedy scenes just as much.

Mr. T

I didn’t know any boy at school around my age who didn’t watch The A-Team. And I also didn’t know any boy around my age at school whose favorite character on that show wasn’t B.A. Barracus played by Mr. T. We were all totally enamored with the guy. Hell, I still am. I even wrote a feature for The Retro Network about 12 Things You May Not Know About Mr. T. So the cartoon was just a natural extension for me. I don’t know how or why they landed on the concept of having Mr. T coaching a teen gymnastics team, but whatever, it worked. The stories were simple, but the action was fun. And much like Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling, I loved the live-action segments with Mr. T himself.

Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends

My older brother had been into comic books since the late ’70s, and I would see his books and want to read them, but I was just at an age where they couldn’t hold my attention long enough for me to actually read them. So having this cartoon to watch at that time filled my need for comic book characters in a much easier-to-digest format. I loved it then for what it was, but now as an adult, I appreciate it even more when I go back and watch it because the show featured so many cool characters over its run. If you haven’t watched it in a while, I suggest you give it another look on Disney+.

That’s it for this edition of Retro Ramblings. But don’t worry, there’s plenty of more posts here for you to go explore.

Highlights From a Johnson Smith Company Ad

While the name may not ring a bell to everyone, I’m sure you grew up seeing these ads in comic books and marveling at the wonders they promised. Let’s check out some of the items offered that intrigue me in this very weird edition of Retro Ramblings.


Click the image for a larger, full-resolution version!

These ads changed through the years as new products were introduced, but I don’t think they ever really discontinued many items. I would assume everything was pretty much always available because I seem to remember actual bound catalogs being available at some point. I always wanted things I saw in these ads, but could never save any of my allowances on weekends long enough to get a money order to get anything with. So let’s look at some of the things I found interesting through my younger years in this ad.

X-Ray Vision Glasses

Ok. So what red-blooded pre-teen boy wouldn’t want something like this? It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what we would have in mind when ordering these. That little line there about being able to see-through clothes probably sold more pairs of these than anything else. But according to the fabulous book, Mail-Order Mysteries, these were just an optical illusion created by feather-like things between two pieces of cardboard with little holes in them. What a bummer. I wish I had never read that, as I had spent my whole life wondering “what if?”.

Pocket Spy Telescope

Now this is a cool little gadget. Imagine carrying around a telescope in your shirt pocket. I know it couldn’t possibly magnify things too much, but for something that small that fits in your pocket, it had to magnify enough to make it cool. It could have been the start of a budding spy career.

Secret Weapon Spy Watch

Speaking of a spy career, this watch seems like it would have been great for that schoolyard profession. Mainly because if you got caught spying, you could fire a shot at whoever caught you to allow you to get away without being actually apprehended. Surely this watch would have gone unnoticed by anyone as being anything other than a normal old watch.

Smoke From Your Fingertips

I always had this idea that I could use this stuff to make classmates fear me. I mean, wouldn’t that be scary? If you were swelling up against some kid in your class, and all of a sudden he popped a puff of smoke from his fingertips in anger, wouldn’t that make you take a step back? That’s what I had in mind when I wanted to get my hands on this stuff. Bud sadly, it apparently was just some goo that went between your fingers, and when you pulled them apart, it came apart in tiny strings that just kind of looked like smoke. Curses. Foiled again.

1001 Free Things

So this may very well be the best value on the whole page. I mean, it only costs $1.25, and you’re gonna find out how to get over 1000 things for free! Nothing else on the page can even come close to this kind of value. Maps, toys, games, jewelry, coins, stamps…c’mon, this thing is the mother lode. Of all the things I’ve highlighted here, I think this is the one I wish I could go back in time and order. Even if it was junk, I think it would provide days and weeks of cool fun as you browsed the listings, possibly sent away for some of the free stuff, and then waited anxiously for it to arrive. Simpler times.

KFC’s Chicken Littles Sandwiches of the ’80s

Here I am featuring some old junk food in another edition of Retro Ramblings. I just can’t help it. Old junk food really tickles my nostalgia bone. And today’s topic is one of my all-time favorites from the past.


A couple of years ago, in the background, the TV was on and my daughters were watching some show that I usually care nothing about. The show went to commercial and I carried on with what I was doing. All of a sudden I was hit by a bolt of delicious lightning! For on the tv behind me, I was hearing a commercial for KFC’s return of the Chicken Little sandwiches!!! I bolted to the tv just to see and hear the end of that commercial that advertised the return of the greatest hand-held chicken sandwich in history. I immediately started making plans to visit my local KFC to once again dine on this fine treat. 

I was horribly disappointed when I unwrapped the precious sandwich that I had longed for many years. What is this? This isn’t a Chicken Little. What kind of sick joke are these people trying to pull here? 

You see, in the ’80s, when they were known as Kentucky Fried Chicken and not the metro-sounding KFC, they had the perfect sandwich. The original Chicken Little was the size of a common White Castle Slider or Krystal Burger. In fact, it featured the same kind of bun. It had a simple, thin chicken patty on it along with a pickle and a thin spread of mayo. It was simple. It was perfect. 

As I’ve stated before, my mother and I ate out a lot when my dad traveled. At the time these were in stores, I want to say you could pick up Chicken Littles for 3 / $1.00 or something like that, which made it a simple choice to say yes to for my mother. 

I had these little squares from heaven every couple of weeks. If she mentioned in the morning that we would be stopping by there in the evening, I would count down the minutes until I held them in my hand. But much like my disappointment with McDonald’s McPasta, I was saddened one day when I ordered my Chicken Littles and was told they were no longer available. I didn’t dwell on it though and figured they would be back one day. 

That day came several years ago, and led to the story I started this tale off with. Today’s chicken little is on a different bun, features a different cut of chicken, and is nowhere near the super cheap price you could once obtain them at. Actually, the thick piece of chicken tender on the modern version throws the taste completely off. And throw in the fact that the lettuce is usually wilted due to the heat of the chicken, it’s really not a good sandwich at all anymore. 

Just add it to the long list of junk foods we lost well before their time.

Those Cups that Used to Come in Oatmeal

In this edition of Retro Rambling, I want to take you back to a small slice of nostalgia for me, and that’s back when I used to drink out of those cups that used to come in oatmeal. Maybe you remember them too.


Do you remember those plastic cups that came in boxes of oatmeal?  For years upon years, I never knew this was a thing.  Mainly because I was never around when my Mom opened the new boxes of oatmeal, and also probably because we didn’t buy the brands of oatmeal that were still doing this in the ’80s. 

But even though I was totally unaware of this being a thing, I knew all about the cups, and they were favorites of mine.  How is this possible you may be asking, but sit tight and I’ll tell you how I could be at both ends of the spectrum at the same time. 

My grandmother on my Mom’s side had a lot of grandkids.  18 of us to be exact, and more times than not, there would be at least 5 or 6 at her house at any given time.  As kids do, one would get thirsty, and so that meant all of us were thirsty because Lord forbids if one of us was getting something the others weren’t.  So off to the kitchen we would go, and we all knew which glasses were for us grandkids to use.  The plastic tumblers in shades of blue, green, yellow, pink, and clear. 

I loved those little tumblers.  The design on the sides were simply little etched blocks, with each row slightly offset from the rows above and below it.  To me, they looked like little trees.  As a matter of fact, we called them tree cups.  Maybe I started that trend among my cousins, I don’t know. 

But anyway, Granny always had a lot of these tumblers around.  Partly, I believe, because she had a lot of grandkids, and partly because my Granddad ate a lot of oatmeal.  It’s the only thing I ever recall hearing of him eating for breakfast.  Ever.  Biscuits and gravy?  Nope.  Bacon and eggs?  No sir!  Just oatmeal.  So when a man eats oatmeal 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year, that means you have to buy a lot of the stuff. 

That “stuff” that my grandmother bought was Crystal Wedding Oats.  Why they’re called that I have no idea, but it’s not important at the moment.  What IS important, is that every box of this oatmeal came with one of those little tumblers packed inside…in the oatmeal.  You never knew what color you were getting, so completing some kind of set could be hard if you didn’t buy much of the stuff, but that wasn’t a problem for my Grandmother.  She could have had sets of 16 in every color if it weren’t for us kids losing them. 

So I went years without knowing where those tumblers even came from.  A few years ago, one of my cousins and I were reminiscing about old days at my grandmother’s, and I brought up those little cups, and how fondly I remembered them.  Somehow I came around to asking something like, “I wonder where she got all those?”, and he proceeded to fill me in on the oatmeal box story.  I was kind of blown away actually.  Somehow I had gone my whole life and never heard of such a thing.  Then I went on to find out that some of the dishes I had eaten off of most of my childhood probably came out of boxes of powdered dish detergent, but that’s a story for another day. 

So not long after the conversation with my cousin, I was talking to a friend and related the story to him.  He knew that those tumblers came in boxes of oatmeal too, and said that his grandmother kept them out for all of her grandkids as well.  He also said that he STILL drank out of those things when he went to her house!  I kind of forgot about our conversation after that, but when I saw him a week or so later, he brought me a couple of those very same tumblers from her house!  He had related my tale to her, and she got such a kick out of it, she gave him a couple of them to bring to me, which I now proudly display in a place of honor in my own personal retro museum. 

So that’s how I could be totally unaware, and yet totally aware of their existence at the same time.  What about you?  Did you know these were a thing? 

    A Tribute to Nerds Cereal

    You know me and food. We have a love/hate relationship. I love it when it’s around, but I hate it when it’s gone. Just like Nerds cereal. Loved it from the moment I saw it…and have hated the loss of it since it left store shelves. It’s just one of many kinds of cereal I miss. Let’s pay it a little tribute here in this edition of Retro Ramblings.


    The Nerds candy itself hit the market in 1983 and was an immediate hit with kids everywhere. Due to the huge success of the candy, Nerds cereal came along two years later.  It hit the market in 1985 and featured the same gimmick that made the candy popular by featuring not one, but two flavors in every box. And since you could get the candy in several two-flavor varieties, the cereal followed suit and offered two different, two-flavored options as well. You weren’t restricted to a lone new cereal on the shelf, oh no, you had your choice of boxes where one featured the dual choices of Grape N’ Strawberry, and the other box featured Orange N’ Cherry. 

    If you take a good look at the two boxes pictured above you’ll notice another super-cool feature about Nerds cereal. So not only did you get two different cereals in each box, but you also got two different cereal premiums in each box! They were going all-in on the two cereal theme by putting a prize in each side of the box. And not only that but there were different prizes offered in each of the two boxes. That was a savvy marketing gimmick right there. I’m sure kids all over the country used the argument with their parents that they needed all four toys in an attempt to get more of this fantastic cereal.

    It wasn’t just the fronts of the boxes that featured the premiums to be found inside as the backs of the boxes did as well. As a matter of fact, the pictures below show that each box featured a different back panel design for each of the cereals inside. They were truly treating this as two different cereals which just happened to be housed in the same container.

    I do wonder about something though. Did both boxes of Nerds cereal come in the same case, or were grocery stores having to order a case of each? Based on my experience in the grocery business, I would think each set of flavors would have been ordered separately, but maybe this was different. If any of you reading this have any idea, please let the rest of us know.

    And if all these fantastic features weren’t enough to make Nerds cereal memorable, Ralston and Nerds went even further to double-down on the dual variety theme when they introduced the special Nerds cereal bowl.

      For just a couple of proofs of purchase and fifty cents, you could send away and get the official Nerds cereal bowl.  That thing was so awesome.  It was divided into two different compartments so you could enjoy both flavors in the same bowl, yet still keep them separate.  But the sweetest feature of it was that it had a gate built into the dividing wall of the bowl!  You could raise the gate a little and let the milk flow between compartments.  Or you could raise it all the way and let both cereal flavors mingle together.  As far as main-in offers go, this one is in the top ten of my lifetime.

      I’m not sure if I had the bowl or not. Part of my brain seems to remember it, but the other half tells me I’m crazy because if I did actually have it, I would have never let it go. In the past, I’ve sat and stared off in the distance trying to dig into the deepest recesses of my mind searching for the answer to this question.

      Nerds cereal was perfect for its time. It had a great product that it was based on (the candy), it had several unbelievable gimmicks, and it had an eager audience waiting to eat it up (all of us 7-year-olds). In today’s much more health-conscious environment, I don’t know that Nerds cereal could get made. But I know one thing, if it did, I’d take the ride all over again.

      Highlights From a 1989 KayBee Toys Ad

      I love sifting through old catalogs and sale papers from the ’80s and early ’90s. They’re filled with so much nostalgia with so many toys I had, and those I didn’t have but wanted gracing every page. For this Retro Ramblings entry, I’m going to highlight a few cool things I found in a KayBee Toys sale paper from 1989.


      Nintendo Games!

      I’ve already documented my love for all things Nintendo here on the blog, and this ad for games is certainly in line with my love for all things Nintendo. Featured in the top left is my favorite game for the system, Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest. I also see some of my other favorites including Bionic Commando and WWF Wrestlemania. I could sit and look through old game ads all day and continue to drool over just how awesome we had it with our game systems back in the day.

      Play-Doh Make-a-Meal Spaghetti Factory!

      Play-Doh was never really a top toy in my book unless I had a cool playset like this for it. There was just so much you could do with sets like these with all the various presses and cutting tools. Besides making plates of spaghetti and meatballs like the set intended, you could do other things with them. Like make your own cool monsters with long stringy hair. The various playsets offered almost limited play that other toys couldn’t.

      Micro Machines Super City Tool Box Playset!

      In the past, I chronicled my fascination with the Super City Tool Box in a Classic Commercials post. While I never actually had the toy, I always wanted it. I had more than my fair share of Micro Machines, and several playsets, but this one always eluded me. I’m going to have to track one down on eBay now I think.

      1989 Baseball Cards!

      1988 was the zenith of baseball card collecting, well, until Covid-19 hit in 2020 and the hobby exploded all over again. But with 1988 being such a banner year for the business, it was no surprise that a ton of cards were also produced in 1989. Not all of them were good. Like these Bowman cards featured here in the paper. I had some Bowman ’89 cards in my collection back in the early ’90s, and they just weren’t good. They were slightly larger than other cards and were troublesome to get to fit into card pages. Plus they just seemed to be of cheaper quality. But all of that said, that would have been a good price to pick up a complete set of anything back then since finding all 492 cards in single packs would have cost a fortune.

      Domino Rally Basic Set!

      So in the early ’90s, I thought Domino Rally was just so cool. Forget the fact that I could have just taken all the sets of old school dominos that were scattered around our house and accomplished the same thing, I had to have the brightly colored, thin plastic dominos that came in these sets to set up and then knock over. Plus, Domino Rally sets came with cool pieces like bridges and loops that had dominos attached that you could add to your falling masterpiece. These things really upped the falling dominos game to new heights.

      Sega Genesis!

      Being 1989, I’m thinking this is in the early days of the release of the system. That and I don’t see Sonic the Hedgehog’s mug plastered all over the ad. I do see Altered Beast though, and I know that was an early hit for the system. I was always a Super Nintendo guy, and I always will be. But even in saying that, I would be a fool to not want to highlight this from the ad. Any old game system is worth a mention in posts like these.

      Well, there’s six highlights from an old KayBee Toys sale paper from 1989. I encourage you to check out our full scan of the entire thing in the Time Capsules section of the site and pick out your own highlights. If you do, drop them in the comments below so I can check out what you thought the top picks were. I always get excited about stuff like that.

        Retro Wrestling Action Figure Lines

        Even though I don’t keep up with modern wrestling, I always know the date of Wrestlemania. And as it gets close every year, I get really nostalgic for old pro wrestling and everything that goes along with it. And not much went more hand in hand with wrestling on TV than wrestling action figures. Let’s look at some of my favorite wrestling figure lines from the past in this testosterone-filled edition of Retro Ramblings.


        WWF Wrestling Superstars

        To begin with, I’ve got to start where it kind of began for a lot of people…WWF Superstars figures from LJN.  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 the looks and designs of these figures, but I never owned enough of them myself to put them really high on my all-time list of favorite toys. Not to mention that their lack of articulation hurt their play a bit.

        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.  As 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 but failed miserably.  They were great for just playing with and having them do moves to each other though. And since they were far more flexible than their larger counterparts, they were actually more enjoyable to play with in my opinion.

        Remco AWA Wrestling Figures

        Growing up without cable TV, my only exposure to AWA wrestling was catching it when I was at my grandmother’s house, and in the wrestling magazines.  Back then, I was consuming every wrestling magazine I could find, so I was fairly up to speed on the goings-on in the AWA.  Then I started seeing these figures in my local Family Dollar store.  Not only were they a cheaper option than the LJN WWF figures, but you got two figures in a pack.  Well, in most cases.  I was buying the packs as I pictured above, so I was getting a lot of bang for my buck.  I had Ric Flair, Rick Martel, Larry Zbyszko, Baron Von Raschke, Stan Hansen, and Crusher Jerry Blackwell.  I took these things everywhere with me.  Like to the lake for our weekend camping trips.  For the short time I was finding these things, they were probably my favorite toy.  They were sized and proportioned just right for mixing in MOTU figures as wrestlers.  I still remember the legendary matches between He-Man and Ric Flair.  Of course, Flair won, why are you even asking?

        Knock-Off Figures

        Call me crazy, but I used to love all the knock-off wrestling figures you could easily find at the grocery store and dollar stores all over the place.  Some of the knock-offs tried to make their figures look like famous superstars, and others just created whatever sculps they could think of and call them wrestlers.  The real beauty of these figures was they were all sized identically, regardless of who was making them.  That made them perfect for mixing and matching.  Not to mention that almost all of the companies making these figures also made wrestling rings to go with them.  You could pick those up on the cheap as well and use them for these figures or your G.I. Joes or MOTU or whatever else you wanted to put into a rumble.  These knock-off figures were scaled to work well with the Remco AWA figures, so it was another source for building up both sides of the locker room for wrestling action.

        And while I’m on the subject of knock-offs, the knock-off thumb wrestlers were great too, and were perfectly sized to compete with the WWF thumb wrestlers.

        M.U.S.C.L.E.

        I got hooked on M.U.S.C.L.E. toys in 1986.  Picking up the packs of these little critters and getting four of them was quite the treat.  You could also pick them up in bigger packs, and even the cool trash can packs.  On top of it all, they had a wrestling ring to use for them to do battle in.  I had the ring, and my friends and I would use it for our own gambling purposes.  We’d each put one of our figures in and do battle.  Whoever won the battle got to keep his opponent’s figure.  It was kind of like marbles, but with little pink alien wrestlers.  I also had the championship belt carry case thing.  It worked great to put on and wear as an actual title belt when my friends and I would wrestle. If you want to see more great images of old M.U.S.C.L.E. figures and accessories, check out the full scan of the M.U.S.C.L.E. toys from the 1986 Mattel Toy Dealer’s catalog here on Retro Ramblings.

        Classic Cereal Commercials

        This edition of Retro Ramblings is kind of a combined post. A combination of a classic commercials posts mixed with a forgotten foods post. It’s two great tastes that taste great together! Let’s watch some old cereal commercials and let our mouths water and our memory glands tingle.


        Honey Nut Cheerios starring Hulk Hogan (1985)

        My earliest memories of eating cereal center around eating Cheerios. I guess my Mom wanted me to eat a healthier cereal like that instead of the really sugary kinds. That was until I saw this commercial. Being the huge wrestling fan that I was, I wasn’t hearing anything about not switching my Cheerios to Honey Nut Cheerios because Hulk Hogan liked them. It wasn’t long until the switch was made, and then once the sugary cereal barrier was broken, there was no turning back.

        Mr. T Cereal (1980 something)

        Of course, I was on the A-Team bandwagon from the beginning, and yes, B.A.Baracus was my favorite character. Then the Mister T cartoon hit, and I was all in on that too. So when Mr. T cereal dropped, I was down. I can’t even remember what it tasted like, but the commercial mentions brown sugar, so it was a sweetie. And since I had already popped my sweet cereal cherry, this was a logical step. But the song in this commercial. I ain’t gonna lie, that’s just a bad jingle. But with the excitement and the urgency in the vocalist’s voice, you knew you just had to get to the store and get a box of this.

        Smurf Berry Crunch Cereal (1983)

        Back in the early to mid-’80s, what kid worth their salt didn’t like the Smurfs? It was hard NOT to like them because the little blue bastards were everywhere. They had the hit cartoon, toys, pajamas, clocks, socks, velvet posters, and so much other crap, you really couldn’t get away from them. And then came the cereal! And if you were already a fan of the cartoon, this commercial was just like an extension of that. It made it feel like buying a box of this stuff was your duty as a fan. I bought in hook, line, and sinker. But of all the cereals on this list, this may have been my favorite. It was pretty much like Cap’n Crunch Berries cereal, but with a more fun theme. In the future, we’ll have to cover the sequel cereal, Smurf Magic Berries. That stuff was the shit too!

        Kellogg’s Nut & Honey Crunch (1987)

        This cereal was so good. Since in theory, it would seem healthier than the other cereals already mentioned, I guess my Mom was more than ok with buying this for me. And of the cereals on this list, this by far had the best hook to the commercial with everyone saying the name of the cereal, but whoever is around takes it the wrong way. It was a simple gag that they could do a lot with, and they did. Like the spoof at the end with the cowboys. I imagine calling one of those tough sumbitches “honey” would have resulted in a beatdown of the first order. It was a different time. But the cereal was damn tasty.

        Kellogg’s Big Mixx Cereal (1990)

        What in the hell is that mascot supposed to be? If you listen to the people in the commercial, they’re just as confused as I am. While it may come across as hokey, it’s still a pretty cool visual mixing up the different animals to emphasize the mix of the cereal. The moose head is the best part, and that’s not up for debate. I don’t ever remember having this cereal, but these days, it seems like I would embrace it like a warm blanket on a cold night. This is one that needs to come back to store shelves. And bring back the commercial too. It’s one I wouldn’t mind sitting through while streaming an old episode of Buck Rogers or something equally as awesome.

          The Things I Loved About 2020

          2020 may very well go down as one of the worst years on record. We’re talking top 10 all time if I had to guess off the top of my head. But I’m trying to pick out some of the good things from this year instead of continuing to focus on the bad.

          Below are 10 things I loved about this year. I hope you can find some things you loved about it too. Give it some thought and post your list in the comments.

          The Mandalorian!

          Now I know that The Mandalorian debuted in 2019, but I didn’t pick up Disney+ until January of 2020. The first thing we watched on the service was some episodes of The Gummi Bears, but the second was The Mandalorian. We binged the whole first season over a Saturday and Sunday, and when season 2 dropped, we watched every episode as they aired.

          I’ve always considered myself a casual Star Wars fan. I don’t have to be at the theater on opening night to see a new release, and I don’t really collect anything associated with the brand. But I’m telling you right now, The Mandalorian is one of my favorite shows of the last several years.

          To me, it’s a great western. There are certainly plenty of Star Wars references of course, but it just feels like a western to me. And that’s a good thing. I’ll take a heavy dose of Star Wars lore in my wild west feeling show.

          Continue reading