The gears of the Retro Machine are turning again! Here is what’s on tap this time around…

Barnyard Commandos

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I loved these little guys, so here they are, as they appeared back in 89/90. Remember, this was back when a certain group of turtles were forever transformed by mutagen, so these animals-turned-warriors were like a poor mans Ninja Turtle. I never owned these, but my friends did and we used to race them in a local stream. That involved just letting them go at the same time and following them as the current swept them downstream. Who would catch the current? Who would get caught in a deadzone? Who would get tangled in the reeds? Who would cross the finish line (which was a rock) first to be the victor?!

Nerf

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Nerf was always great, everyone here should at least know someone who had Nerf stuff. That's because it was marketed as "stuff you can do indoors without breaking your parents valuables". I had the mini-golf set seen above, that thing was so great. I would design my own little mini golf course using books and whatever other objects I could find in my house to created obstacles. As far as the Ping Pong set, I always found it to be kind of underwhelming personally. I had the exact football pictured above and that thing lasted me forever. The best of the bunch though are those Nerf swords. You dueled with your buddy and the object was to knock down all four of the tabs on your opponents sword handle. We always got extra points for beating your unsuspecting friends senselessly by whipping them with the yellow noodle. Check out that bazooka at the bottom, you pulled back and thrust forward, sending a yellow ball airborne.

Nerf has sort of changed in a way. The Nerf guns of today have almost totally bucked the trend of being "safe indoor toys" and are now "holy crap, I can't believe you put a hole in my wall with your Nerf dart of death" toys. These days, the guns are even catering to young adult crowds who use them in paintball-style tournaments.

The Chicken Machine

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That’s right folks, I have stumbled upon a long lost relic of the 1980's: the machine with the chicken that spins, clucks, and then deposits a cool piece of plastic crap for your delight. Not bad for 25 cents if I do say so myself.

I don't know about you, but going to the supermarket in the 1980's was all about getting to the chicken machine. Sure, I loved going down the cereal isle and chucking Cookie Crisp into the cart. I looked forward to coaxing my mother into buying me my fifth pair of plastic "break when ya use'em" handcuffs (to which you better darn well believe I always lost the key). But when it came down to it, the ultimate reason for being at the supermarket was to put a coin in that machine, watch that chicken spin, listen to that creepy screeching sound that passed for clucking, and then receive my egg. Back in the 80's, your egg was filled with silly putty, holograms, stickers (scratch and sniff if you were lucky), and maybe even one of those wacky wall crawlers. In modern times, as you see in the picture above, all I got was a cheap top and a yo-yo.

And speaking of Cookie Crisp…

Cookie Crisp

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I remember the first commercial I saw for Cookie Crisp. I remember thinking "holy crap, a cereal that is also cookies!? I have died and gone to heaven". When I first tasted Cookie Crisp I remember thinking "what a let down, these aren't like cookies". Nonetheless, Cookie Crisp was an oft-purchased item back in the day. I didn't eat it all the time of course, but whenever the moment hit me and I got a hankering for Cookie Crisp, I would have some.

You notice something funny about the box? Yeah, the Cookie Cop and the Cookie Crook are missing. Remember, this was the early 80's and wizards were GIGANTIC stuff. That was back when Friendly's had a wizard mascot also. But this is the box that originally enticed me to a world where I could eat cookies for breakfast.

Oh wow, now the Retro Machine has done it. Now I’m on a cereal kick.

Ice Cream Cone Cereal

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Sometime in the mid to late 80's this cereal came out. It didn't stay available for long, but while it was for sale I had a huge love for it. This cereal contained little vanilla balls with tiny chocolate dots (to resemble chocolate chip vanilla ice cream) mixed in with mini sugar cone pieces (to resemble, er, sugar cones..). Those sugar cone pieces tasted exactly like sugar cones! Geez, just a totally fantastic cereal. One of my favorite ways of eating it would be to take a little sugar cone and prop an ice cream ball on top and pop it in my mouth. I know this cereal was recently re-released in select markets and whoever got a hold of a box should consider themselves lucky!

Gloworms

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This one is for all of you who thought that the Retro Machine only spit out boy-related toys. My sister had the little Gloworm figures and the giant turtle thing you see here. I'm not gonna let my pride keep me from admitting that I too would put down my He-man and play with the Gloworms from time to time. That probably explains why I'm such a sensitive guy these days, I was able to experience the best of both worlds. Well, not that Gloworms were the best, but whatever. They glowed in the dark and that was an essential feature for many successful 80's toys. If I think back hard enough, I seem to even remember a Gloworms Christmas special.

Fisher Price Record Player

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For many of those of us around my age, this may have been your first record player. It came with several hard plastic "records" that when placed on the board would play some sort of lullaby or nursery rhyme of some sort. A neat little toy, but definitely one for the young'uns.

Captain Chesapeake

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This is a special one here. If you grew up in the Baltimore area and slightly beyond, chances are you knew who Captain Chesapeake was. He was usually on in the afternoons and the picture you see in the bottom right corner there is what the entire show looked like. It mainly consisted of little skits followed by episodes of Scooby-Doo or Fat Albert or whatever other cartoons were popular then. The Captain would sit on his little boat with a treasure chest and Mondy the Sea Monster would float in the water next to him. I remember he would read letters that kids had sent him and you could actually sign up for the fan club and be known as a "crew member". Do you notice they don't have stuff like that anymore?

Batman Cereal

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Remember when the Batman movies came out? Batman experienced a resurge at that time and the merchandise was everywhere. Of course Batman had his own cereal. I remember they seemed to taste a little like Cap'n Crunch. It was a decent little cereal that I remember buying a good bit of back in the day. And better yet, this stuff came with a Batman-shaped bank! It was enough to inspire me to build a bat cave in my closet at home. When I say Bat cave, I really mean me going into a closet with a flashlight and sitting in there with my Batman bank. As a kid, there was always something magical about shutting yourself in a pitch black closet with only the light of your flashlight and imagining it would open up to some strange new world.

Slime

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When I was a kid, every self-respecting toy line pretty much had to have a slime-related component. The Masters of the Universe, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Ghostbusters all had slime.

For those of you (not to be sexist, but probably girls) who never had the pleasure of playing with it, slime was a wet, gooey, giant snot-like substance that toy companies shoved into little plastic jars that were bundled with the favorite toys of your male counterparts.

For the Ninja Turtles, the slime was known as "Retromutagen" and was sold in little canisters like the one pictured above. Inside you would find yourself a plastic baby turtle (if you remember, it was the "Retromutagen" that was responsible for turning regular turtles into walking, talking, pizza eating mutants).

I have to say though that my favorite use of toy slime ever was with the "Real Ghostbusters" line of toys. In the Ghostbusters universe, the slime is "ecto-plazm", a residue left behind by the manifestation of ghosts. You'd get a tub of slime every time you bought something Ghostbusters related (complete with little plastic ghost inside), so rest assured there was plenty of slime to douse your action figures with. As you see in the file photo (above right), my friend Jeff and his cousin Lindsay used the Ecto-Plazm to give a Ray Stanz figure the slime of his life. My friend Jeff actually had a ton of Ghostbusters figures and made good use of his slime. He’d have it on the walls, in the carpet, and as you can see above, covering the patio. After a certain time, his parents confiscated any new slime he received.

That wraps it up for this time. Take care!

CSE