Ok, I just registered for the express purpose of writing an article. I have been a lurker for some time and consider this site THE place for 80's nostalgia.I am sure there are at least some of you out there who can relate to me. I pine for my childhood back. I was born in 1978. This makes me 30...Ugh. I act like I'm 12. I am obsessed with Pop Culture of the 80's and early 90's. This is when I was HAPPY. This article will deal with my first obsessions.
My first memories are of Christmas 1983. Castle Grayskull fully assembled and waiting for me at 5am under the tree. It had a note on it from "Santa" saying I had been a very good little boy this year. I unwrapped He-man, Skeletor, Beastman, Mer-Man, and Man-At-Arms. I was a poor kid and this was a very big deal to me. I also received a blow up "ride-on" Battle-Cat and the requisite pajamas with He-Man top and bottoms. To say I was overjoyed was an understatement. The next couple of years were filled with "Masters of the Universe", the cartoon, the action figures, the roleplay weapons, and wrestling with my Dad after school while he played Skeletor and I was He-Man. We played together while the Filmation cartoon played on our wood paneled 13" Zenith color TV.
I didn't have many friends as I was a "fat" kid and He-Man was my first imaginary friend. The couple years that followed brought me Snake Mountain for Christmas ($39.99 at Caldors, my Mom and Dad were frantically looking and there was one left and they had to bribe a stock clerk $5 because that was all I wanted that year.) By the end of 1987 after the "Masters Of the Universe" Movie came out, I slowly started getting out of He-man. I sold all of my He-Man items for a pittance at a garage sale when getting 50 cents a figure seemed like a good idea. I have since rebought everything, including the elusive $80 Eternia playset (which now goes for about $3000 MIB) which was and is my crowning piece in my collection. I continue to collect "MOTU" and have almost a complete vintage collection. My next obsession started in 1986. "Scooby Doo, Where are You?" I drew Scooby- Doo pictures (he always ended up looking malformed) and watched all the 1969 and 70s reruns (My favorite was a Candy Factory episode guest-starring Momma Cass, I even had a Fisher Price Movie Slide Show with that episode) . I watched the "Scooby and Scrappy Show" and "The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo" as well on Saturday Mornings. Everything was Scooby. Books, a Flashlight, underoos (in husky size, does anyone remember huskies?)etc. Licensing wasn't big with Scooby-Doo back then, but all I desperately wanted was a stuffed Scooby-Doo. My mom started searching 6 months before Christmas and finally found (a somewhat life-size no less) stuffed licensed Scooby-Doo at a Toys R Us. She payed $60 for it in 1986! It was wrapped in a black plastic garbage bag that Christmas. We solved mysteries together, watched the cartoon, slept together, and basically I was attached to that stuffed animal like a hooker is attached to her crack pipe.(I recently left it at the curb after taking a photo hugging it..it was totally depleted of stuffing and barely resembled a blob of brown fur with a Scooby Collar...a hard day for me.) Next came a bunch of things at once. "Disney's Adventure's of the Gummi Bears" was a big one. I never missed an episode on Saturday morning on NBC. I had all of the Fisher Price stuffed bears, except the females Sunni and Grammi. (I was embarrassed to be a sissy, but later on whodathunk, I turned out Gay!) I had adventures with the Gummi Bears in my head at that time along with "Garfield", "The Muppet Babies", "Alvin and the Chipmunks", "Dungeons and Dragons", "Heathcliff","Ducktales","The Smurfs" and some others I can't quite think of right now. I remember one day in 5th grade being bullyed and I went to the restroom and sat on the toilet and talked to all of my imaginary cartoon friends. They didn't care if I was fat or unpopular...they were my friends till the end. This time also brought into my life my first childhood friend Constantine who lived next door (currently in rehab, and haven't talked to him in years) He was a rich kid and had something called "The Nintendo Entertainment System". I instantly fell in love. We played "The Legend of Zelda" (Although since he had no instructions I had no idea what the point was until I got my own copy, (I was lost in "The Lost Woods" FOREVER)"Super Mario Bros.", "Super Mario Bros. 2", "Rambo" (Crap game but as a kid you really didn't know licensed games were garbage..."Friday the 13th" anyone?) From that moment on it was all about the NES. In 1989 after seeing "The Wizard" starring Fred Savage and more importantly "Super Mario Bros. 3" in the theater, I begged my mom for a NES for Christmas. I saved up my allowance and subscribed to "Nintendo Power". My first issue had Batman on the cover and an article on the upcoming "Super Mario Bros. 3" that I read over 50 times. Luck would have it 5am that Christmas morning I unwrapped a shiny new Nintendo Control Deck with a "Super Mario Bros./Dunk Hunt" Combo Cartridge and NES Zapper. I also received "Ducktales" (This was one of THE best games and adventure platformers on the NES from Capcom and I was addicted for at least a month.) I also received "Back to the Future" which was utter crap and I could never beat the first level in the soda shoppe (You had to collect clocks and avoid bees...boring). Acclaim and LJN meant garbage in the NES era. Picking out a new cartridge was a big deal and could take hours. Nothing ruined a kid's life more then falling in love with package art and then seeing that the fame you spent $40-$50 was a piece of garbage! The day "Super Mario Bros. 3" came out me and my sister sent my mom at 9am to "Toys R Us" with $53 (cost +tax) and PRAYED they weren't sold out. She returned after shopping and brought us that yellow box with a flying Raccoon Mario on the cover. We played 10 hours straight the first day getting to Level 5 the "Cloud Level". It was no big deal to start over every day and play the same levels...that's what you did back then and accepted it. When we read "Nintendo Power" and found the wharp whistles it was probably the most exciting highlight of that year. We finally beat it about a month after owning it. I dreamed of the title screen every night and consider it one of the best, if not the best game ever. (I actually worked for Nintendo of America recently and got to go to there headquarters and see there in-house museum and meet Reggie. It was great at first, but things became dark quickly and it didn't remind me at all about the carefree 80's and 90's Nintendo I once knew. As I am writing this I am gathering that I will have to write seperate articles on seperate topics as I am kind of jumbling everything together. The NES era lasted through 6th grade where I found my second real friend William. I went to his house everyday after school. We played Mega Man 2, Castlevania 2 and 3, Final Fantasy, Shadowgate and many more. We always took a break at 4pm to watch "Degrassi High" on PBS and then went to play basketball at the local park before my mom picked me up at 5:30pm for dinner. As I look this over I am forgetting so many crucial moments. Just a few which I will have to write about in depth at some point: "Saved by the Bell" "Playing "Manhunt", "Photon", "Barbie" (I am currently going through a "Barbie" phase and have a 6ft licensed "Barbie" Mannequin in my basement next to my "He-Man" collection.) "Sega Genesis" and the first time I played "Sonic the Hedgehog", "DisneyWorld" and "Universal Studios"(they got rid of "Nickelodeon Studios" and the great "Alfred Hitchcock Show" recently), Snick with "Roundhouse", 'Clarissa Explains it All", "Ren and Stimpy" and "Are you Afraid of the Dark", "Salute your Shorts", "Welcome Freshman", "Grimms Fairy Tales", The horror movies me and my Dad would rent from the local dollar video across the street. Some standouts include "Chud", "They Live", all the Nightmares, Halloweens and Fridays, "The Stuff", and so many more. I think I was the only kid in town that wasn't phased by a naked woman being hung to her death on a pair of deer antlers when I was 6. "Disney Afternoons","Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers" (A guilty pleasure as I thought I was too old to enjoy it at the time) "Calvin and Hobbes" and "Garfield" compilation books from the local Waldenbooks, "KB Toy and Hobby" where I bought my toy guns that shot real rubber bullets and looked like the real deal, trading stuffed animals and dolls with my sister ("I'll trade you this Cabbage Patch for your Kissyfur and Alf Plush Doll" and then one of us regretting it and taking back the trade and being called an "Indian Giver"). Playing in the snow making forts (The plans we drew were always more fun with drawbridges and tunnels, but basically it was a circular wall that melted within a day), the hot cocoa and marshmallows my mom would have waiting for us inside, sleighriding with my Dad on a Radio Flyer down our park hill, playing spy with my cousin and running around the neighborhood trying to solve made-up crimes, reading all 43 of "The Three Investigator's" books the Summer of 5th grade, watching "The Goonies", "The Monster Squad", "The Little Mermaid", "Labryinth","The Neverending Story", (Part 2 was horrendous but starred poor Jonathon Brandis who hung himself in his closet at 27 after losing the part of Anakin Skywalker)"Teen Wolf", "Flight of the Navigator", "Cloak and Dagger" and a million others that are escaping me at the moment. Twinkees, Pop Tarts, PB&J, Nerds, Push-Pops, Cocoa Pebbles, Squeez-its, Ring Pops, Yoo-Hoo, Sunkist, Nesquick, Kraft Mac N' Cheese, Whitchamakalits, I can go on and on. This was before I started counting fat grams and working out. Life was so simple then, no worries, if you had your stuffed animal or your He-Man Action Figure everything was ok in the world and maybe your mom would take you to the zoo or down the shore for a weekend to the boardwalk arcades and suprise you with some mini golf and soft serve. Life is sooo hard now. Work, Stress, Sex, Relationships, Bills, Aging, Regrets. As I type this I wish I was back in time watching "Growing Pains" and "The Facts of Life". Mrs. Garret always had the answer to everything. I have no answers. Sorry about the lack of pictures. Another one of my regrets is illiteracy of the PC. If anyone would like to add photos to this article or future articles please feel free. Thanks for listening.