My Most Favorite Toys Ever
The Toys That Still Awaken the Kid in Me
First off, this is a countdown, of my TOP FIVE FAVORITE TOYS EVER... not yours.... not a list a list of "the most detailed", "the most accurate", or "the most valuable". This is a vanity project of sorts; just a list of the top five toys (or toy lines in some cases) that still give me the 'warm fuzzies' and I MAY still have safely in a glass case in my basement to this very day....
Here we go, Number 5 on the list as we countdown to the top spot....
5.) ROGUE - 1990's X-Men Line by TOY BIZ.
I still remember LOVING the Fox Kids Network's X-MEN Animated Series. I would watch it every Saturday morning, even weekdays after school. It was my first introduction to the Marvel Comics world and I dug it. The characters were so unique and the team was so diverse and exciting, but one stood out. ROGUE was the sassy southern belle who drove my childhood hormones crazy... that tight green spandex, that "Jersey Hair" and .... ooooooh, the accent.... Yeah Sugah!!!
So, needless to say, when TOY BIZ released a figure of my sultry heroine I HAD to have it.... to complete my collection, of course. Little did I know that this little number was gonna be a hot one with every scalper and fanboy alike. I only saw her on the pegs ONCE at a local Meijer, and sadly that was one of the few times my Mom said "No, Gary, not today..." DAMMIT MOM.... but like I said, those cases were few and far between. I was spoiled rotten.... not bragging here, just stating facts.... I got a LOT of toys as a kid.... HELL, I still get a lot of toys.
So, the search continued and finally my parents made me a deal, if I called around to local stores or comic shops and found one then they'd buy it for me. I guess the constant begging and searching the pegs of EVERY STORE we entered got old reeeeal quick. So, finally we tracked one down at a small hole-in-the-wall comic shop. This place was small, poorly ventilated and dirty.... but Hell, they had ROGUE!!! Of course, she was at a price that was more than you'd pay at your local Toys R Us, but like I said, she was impossible find there. So, Father and Son ventured out into the night and attained the holy grail of my X-Men fandom... the Southern Butt-Kicking Rogue, complete with "Power Uppercut Punch"!!!
The figure was well cared for and played with nearly daily, helping me re-create scenes from the show; even creating my own adventures. Crossovers with the Batman posse and the JLA weren't even out of the question. It was grand times, and she now enjoys retirement in an air tight rubbermaid tote, awaiting proper display one day.... she has earned the rest.
4.) DRAGONZORD (And The Green Ranger) - 1990's Bandai Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Series.
Yes, I can already hear the "BOOOO's" and "Hisses" from the 'Purists' that this is total BS. ANOTHER Power Rangers reference? What am I, 9 years old?!? Well, on some levels, YES I AM!!! Plus, this is my list of my favorite toys.... and he is one of em.
I instantly fell into Geek Love with this awesome Zord when I saw him debut on the original Green Ranger miniseries. I was even more overjoyed when Tommy and his Zord became part of the MMPR team. He would whip out his Dragon Dagger (a toy that ALMOST made my Top Five) and summon this crazy cool bad boy. A giant Mecha-Godzilla type guy, with a drill tail and missiles in his fingers?!?! AWESOME!!!
I clearly remember the day that my Mom and Dad bought me this sweeeeeeet toy. It was my reward for making Honor Roll all through Elementary School and graduating from sixth grade with a very good GPA, one of the highest in the class. NERD ALERT.... true, that was sixth grade, and things went a bit down hill grade-wise once girls and hormones entered the picture in High School.... but that's besides the point.
We went to the toy aisle and loaded up the cart with this behemoth and I was a happy lil lad. True, some say I might have been teetering on being "too old" to buy a toy then, as I was going to enter Middle School the next school year. However, to them I say, So What?!? I still buy toys.... and I'm gonna be 26 soon.... of course nowadays I don't play with 'em.... right?
Anyways, he brought me many a happy afternoon, as back then I wasn't exactly rolling in friends.... and I escaped into my imagination. I loved busting out my Power Rangers and having epic Zord versus Alien battles.... it was the ultimate in lameness and I was in Heaven.
Like most of my prized toys, Tommy and his Dragonzord now sleep alongside my MIB Dragon Dagger, and various other MMPR things i refuse to part with (sorry, Clara... xoxoxo) waiting to one day be displayed in a case in my museum of a basement.
Now, I wont ever deny the possibility that I may crack open that storage bin every so often and gaze upon ol' Dragonzord and long for times long gone... but I cherish those memories and then safely tuck him back into storage. C'mon, dudes... I aint the only one that had one of these...
3.) THE REAL GHOSTBUSTERS PROTON PACK AND GHOST TRAP - 1980's Kenner The Real Ghostbusters Line.
"Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light." - Dr. Egon Spengler, 1984
Sounds cool, right? Well that's what many a boy, and I'm sure some girls too... not all of em were "Janine's"... would test in their own back yards, or basements (with all the lights off, of course). You see, before Batman, before Star Wars, even before the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, my heart belonged to Egon Spengler and the Boys in Brown... THE GHOSTBUSTERS. I watched the cartoon every Saturday morning and sung the theme song NON STOP, and played with the action figures daily... I still remember the Christmas morning that my parents bought me EVERY (no joke) Real Ghostbusters figure available at the time.... IT WAS AWESOME!!!
Still, the Ecto-1, Firehouse and all the figures couldn't fully capture the excitement of what it must be like to nab some slimers or to roast a 100 foot Marshmallow Man. That was provided by the "real" thing, my friends... the almighty Proton pack and it's partner-in-slime, the Ghost Trap!!!
I bought it with birthday money from the local Toys R Us and could not wait to get home and strap that mother on!!! I put it on, and to quote Louis Tully from Ghostbusters 2: "I was born to wear this."
My friends who, like myself, loved the New York band of Ghoulie Grabbers would come over and we'd throw on our packs and hit the backyard and surrounding block of my quiet suburban neighborhood, in the middle of the day, looking for scary ghosts to bust. It was a theatre of the mind you see, as we never actually caught a spirit, spook or spectre. Oh well, we had fun... and we even called each other by our respective names.... I was ALWAYS Spengler. That man was the sheeeeit... plus, he dated the smokin' hot Janine Melnitz.... what can I say? I had weird taste for a child, lol.
Years have passed since my glory days as a Paranormal Investigator, but fear not kids.... the torch has been passed. Believe it or not, my THREE YEAR OLD Nephew/Godson, Logan, has discovered the live action flicks and LOOOOOOOOOVES them!!! He even knows both the original Ray Parker Jr CLASSIC theme as well as the RUN DMC hip hop version from the sequel by heart and can sing them!!! FUTURE NERD ALERT!!! Ah, it does me proud.... :) So, naturally he began wanting his own "Pack"... and good ol' Uncle Gary (that's me) just happened to have his old pack in storage.... and still in GREAT condition. One day, I went to Logan's house with a "surprise".... HIS VERY OWN PROTON PACK and TRAP!!! He was floored, How??!!!?? Where?!?! Whaaa?!?!? He was very happy, so with that moment a new JR Ghostbuster was born... he is now the care-taker of my Pack & Trap and still recruits me for some Bustin' every now and then.... good times, GOOD TIMES!!!
2.) The ENTIRE Animated DC Comics Toy Line - 1990's - Current by both Kenner and Mattel.
Never before has a toy line excited me as much as this one continues to do. Sure, when I started buying (or having Mom and Dad buy) I was a kid who would watch Batman: The Animated Series every night after school and then play the battles out with my toys. Now, I am a "grown man" (whatever) and I keep these same collectibles (they're only toys if you play with them) under safe protection and on display in my "Hall of Justice" (the basement).
The line continued on after Batman, and countless slightly horrid repaint lines (do we reeeeally need a neon green Scuba Batman?!?) to include the animated Superman line. This line was Okay, I picked up the few figures in the line that deserved my money; Supergirl, Bizarro, Brainiac, etc... and was then tempted more by the Batman Beyond line. Still, after a taste of greatness, it seemed that the line was dying out.
Then the Cartoon Network released the amazingly cool JUSTICE LEAGUE animated series to tie into the three previously mentioned shows. This new series was like the SUPER FRIENDS for a new generation... and what's SUPER FRIENDS without the SUPER POWERS figures, right? RIGHT!!! So, after a changing of hands, Mattel took the reigns from Kenner and kicked into hyper drive. With the show being expanded and re-named JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED, the action figures that we'd be able to purchase were.... UNLIMITED, practically.
The series has continued to release top quality renditions of the DC Universe in awesome Bruce Timm designed style. They haven't even avoided the B-List, even C-List, heroes and villains. My display cases downstairs are now overflowing with a plethora of super powered goodness. Batman, Robin, Superman and Wonder Woman can now stand proud next to The Question, Fire and Ice, Booster Gold and Blue Devil. The Red Tornado can now chat with Nightwing and Waverider ....yeah, I saw TOY STORY... I know what happens after I leave.
What's even better is that the line doesn't show signs of ending any time soon. TARGET stores have the exclusive rights to the line now and if the pics from the recent San Diego Comic Con are any indication, us DC Fanboys and Fangirls are in for a HUGE collection.... although we'll have smaller wallets with all the cash we'll be dropping on these bad boys. Still, I'd say it's a fair trade for the amazingly cool collection that this has become.
The cherry on the top of this Dork Sundae belongs to only one. The toy, or in this case toys, that brought me the most joy... the ones I will never part with.... the ones I still have a deep love for, deeper than any other.
1.) The original TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES toy line - 1980's/1990's by Playmates Toys.
Yes, Cats and Kittens, Dudes and Dudettes.... major league butt-kicking is back in town!!! I can never erase the happy feelings that just the sight of these original packages stir up deep inside my soul. I remember buying my very first two TMNT figures from the local CHILDREN'S PALACE (God, i miss that store...) they were Leonardo and Raphael. My favorite was and still is Donatello.... they were sold out of him and Michelangelo.... oh well. I happily scooped those up with my birthday money or tooth fairy cash... I don't really recall how I came about the coin. I remember only the utter thrill and natural high that came with holding those little guys in my tiny 7 year old hands for the first time. I took them everywhere I went.... the car, the dinner table, the tub.... it was epic battles on the side of the tub every bath night. Shredder would be flung into the depths of the bubbly swamp below and the Turtles would call out COWABUNGA!!! Good times....
I had many a turtle themed item in my bedroom, and on my person.... PJ's, slippers, cereal bowls, cereal itself, trading cards, bikes, jackets, hats, soap, candy... you name it, they made it and I gobbled it up. I still have all my figures and cards, all safely tucked away. To add to the sickness that is my love for the Fab Four of Amphibians, I bought all the figures over again, at a local Kay-Bee toy store before they closed.
Apparently, they had a whole case or two of TMNT figures that they had found in the back. They put 'em out for 3 bucks a pop... just to move them out.... and of course I bought EVERY ONE OF THEM. So, my buddy and I, each with a black Hefty Trash bag in hand, left the mall with minty fresh Teenage Mutant Ninja Joy. It was and will remain a highlight of my Geekdom. I regret NOTHING!!!
Now, back to my youth.... The Ghostbusters phase was slowly slipping away and Splinter and his little band of ninjas had my tiny heart in a choke-hold. I couldn't fight it and I still find it impossible to do so. The cartoon on Saturday mornings, that amazingly catchy theme song, that awesome movie.... it all snowballed into a craze that was matched in size only by the Technodrome itself!!! I knew of no little boy, even some little girls (we always needed an April on the playground) that didn't love this stuff. Every birthday party I went to, every house I played at, every store I entered would be overflowing with heroes-on-the half-shell. I was immersed and looking back, I can't imagine how anyone my age did not love the Ninja Turtles..... you would have to intentionally avoid and force yourself to hate it. It was a part of our culture... and a crucial part of my development, as odd as that may sound to some.... it is a part of me. Forever.
Years later I would have the awesome honor of actually meeting Kevin Eastman (one of the co-creators of the Turtles with Peter Laird) at a comic-con. I was astounded at how generous (free sketches to all) and how kind and funny he was. He even let us all take a free copy of any book we wanted that he had for sale there at his table. He said it was his way of saying "Thank You" to us all.... THANK US?!!?? Dude, do you realize how much joy you have given us all?!?!?? I was shocked, but happily accepted a hardback copy of a Heavy Metal Magazine retrospective which he signed to me.... an awesome piece of art and a story I will never forget.
So now, if you'll excuse me, I have some Foot Soldiers just begging for a whoopin'.... TURTLE POWER!!!