Thursday, October 13, 2005

Futuristic Toys from the Past

Reading PLW’s post yesterday on the Shogun Warrior toys got me thinking about some of my favorite not so well known toys. An easy post would’ve been listing Legos (greatest toy ever), Star Wars, Lincoln Logs, or Erector Sets. Let us delve into the not so popular toys. At least I don’t think they were that popular. Maybe I should just say they are on the fringe of popular.

First let’s go with the Shogun Warrior I had. There were eight in all that were released in the US. I had Mazinga. These bad ass toys were 2 ½ feet tall. He had swords, rockets, and a little ship that would mount into the head so the pilot could control Mazinga. I also had the smaller die-cast toy of Mazinga as well. The coolest feature was definitely the rocket fists that you could fire. Ah the days when toys came with hard plastic projectiles and children’s eyes were of no concern. Truly a great toy, and ranks in my personal top ten toys. Even to this day I still want to call it Manzinga!

That is not the first cellular phone ever made but actually Merlin. What Simon had in color Merlin had in variety. Not only did you have a Simon type game, but it had Tic-Tac-Toe, Blackjack, codebreaker, and 2 others I can’t remember. It was also much more portable than Simon. This was my handheld game of choice back in the days. That is till I picked up Mattel’s Football. God bless you little red LED lights. You made riding to church bearable.

Evel Knievel was a hero of mine growing up. After seeing his specials, I knew I wanted to be a stunt driver. I’d get on my bike and set up my own jumps. Imagine my thrill when I got the Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle. I could now set up my own stunts that even Knievel himself wouldn’t consider. Setting up huge jumps down stairs and off the piano bench, I’d pull the ripcord an off he’d go flying through the air. Sadly, my Evel didn’t last long. My parents lived in a duplex at the time. My room was up in the attic. Man I miss that attic. I had a lone window that looked out onto the street. It was quite a ways down, and I thought it’d make a perfect stunt for the Stunt Cycle. “I bet Evel could reach the street,” I thought. He did make it, but as a toy he paid the ultimate price. Evel would never jump again. The jump was spectacular though. Side note: Other toys that didn’t last very long:

This Jaws game as it originally was designed wasn’t really that great of a toy. You and your friends just took turn taking the junk out of its mouth without his mouth snapping shut. Rigging it so it would snap an unsuspecting Mom or baby brother certainly extended the joy this toy brought. I completely apologixe for using the phrase "taking the junk out of his mouth."

Starbird ruled! It was a great spaceship toy. If you tilted it up it would make an acceleration sound, and tilting it down would cause it to decelerate. It had removable parts and flashing lasers when you pulled the trigger. Trust me, at the time this was a wonderful toy. Never did get the command center though.

Another cool electronic toy was the BigTrak. It was a programmable tank. You typed in a series of commands on the back, and it would follow them. A wonderful way to torment your pet.

The Micronaughts apparently aren’t that unknown, since they’ve been rereleased recently. It was a great action figure that got lost among the Star Wars and GI Joes. It had more joints than Star Wars. The switchable chest plates and other accessories were an added bonus. Of course I would constantly lose them.

Finally, the Six Million Dollar Man with not only “bionic grip” but a bionic eye you could look through. That’s right you could look through the back of his head and see what Austin sees. That’s pretty much just like real life Lee Majors. My one disappointment with the SMDM was I never got the rocket ship that you could transform into an operating room. Oh well, commence making sound effect…now.


bobby said...

The Great Mazinga. It was my absolute favorite toy of all time. It was taller than me for a little while. I had the first version of it, which did not have the removable ship from the head. But I didn't know at the time there were two versions and I couldn't understand why my ship wouldn't come out. I detroyed the Great Mazinga'a head with a knife trying to wedge it out.

I had the Stretch Monster. Same deal as Armstrong, only it was green with a hard plastic head that I seem to recall looking like the Kraken from Clash of the Titans. So my dad said, Let's see how far it'll stretch. I grabbed one arm, he grabbed the other. At the point of maximum tension, he let go. That plastic head directly hit my lower lip. It bled out for minutes. I have a scar under my lip to this day. A proud scar of daddy hatred.

Bradford said...

Bobby, I like that you somehow knew you were being ripped off because the ship wouldn't come out.

bobby said...

I remembered right about the Kraken. I haven't seen this thing since I was a kid, and looking at the green, scaly skin brought back a stong tactile memory. That thing felt so weird. But look at the kid on the box. Before Ritilin, there was the Stretch Monster.

Bradford said...

There's a story somewhere about the kid on the Stretch Monster box.