Memorable Christmas Gifts

The ones that made the holidays great
December 11, 2009
With Christmas peaking its glittery head around the corner (and yes, Christmas is glittery; after working in a Tuesday Morning for a couple of years, you learn that you can't work the Christmas aisle and walk away without glitter on you), I felt it might fun to relive some of the cooler things I got as a kid. In no particular order, because that's how I roll. Plus I can't remember the exact years I got this stuff.

Mutant Chronicles: The Siege of the Citadel

My uncle is the culprit behind my obsession with the fantasy realm. He got me into Dungeons & Dragons, Spellfire (the card game that ultimately led me to Magic: The Gathering), and fantasy novels. So it's no surprise that this Christmas gift came from him.

Mutant Chronicles: The Siege of the Citadel is board game based on the Mutant Chronicles RPG (which I've never played) There is one player who has to become the "dungeon master" of the game and control all of the bad guys, and all other players can choose what teams they want control. Each team consists of two characters who have special abilities available to that team only. The layouts and number of bad guys (as well as certain types) change for each "level".

I'm not sure I ever made it through an entire game, but I always enjoyed playing. Unfortunately, with so many pieces, things eventually became lost. So I ended up buying another set when I was in college... which was destroyed/ransacked by my drunken suite-mate's drunken friends one night (along with a bunch of my other possessions). I think I'm waiting until I have some kids (either my own or someone else's) to corrupt before I purchase a third copy.

Easy Bake Oven

Go ahead and laugh. Yes, I was a young boy who wanted an Easy Bake oven. But seriously, you got to make your own baked goods. Baked goods! Why wouldn't a young person of either gender want to make their own brownies or muffins?

Well, here's the even funnier part. As excited as I was to get the darn thing, I never used it. To this day it sits in my parents' basement collecting dust. See, the thing is that it needed a special light bulb for the inside that it didn't come with, and, well... I guess my dad never picked one up, and then we forgot about the thing, and it got stored in the basement where it was further forgotten. Every now and again I'd pipe up about it, but always to no results.

It's all good, though. I turned out to be the best cook in the family anyway, so I can still make my own baked goods. Without the help of a special lightbulb, to boot.

Snoopy Sno Cone Machine

This one was a food-related gift that I did use. I was a Peanuts fanatic growing up. I read every Peanuts book in my library at least three times - and there were about five shelves of them! So when I received this gift, it was definitely well-received.

I don't remember much about the actual workings of it, just that it produced shaved ice that you would pour flavored powder into to make your own sno cones. Do they even still make sno cones anywhere these days? If they don't, what a shame.

G.I. Joe - General

Honestly, I spent a good while looking up the name of this thing. I guess I was so enamored with it as a kid that I didn't bother to remember the name. But it was easily one of the greatest toys I ever owned. I believe the majority of it still exists, in some form or another, at my parents'.

Why was it so great? It shot missiles from a large cannon in the center. It came with a helicopter. It was BIG. When you're a kid, the size of the toy is an important factor. But seriously, I loved this thing and played with it non-stop. In fact, I'm getting the urge to go get it from my parents' and play with it now...

The Nintendo Entertainment System

Was there really any grander feeling on a Christmas morning than ripping off the wrapping paper to see an NES box staring you in the face? I submit that there was not. The NES was basically the flagship icon of my generation's childhood, and to own one was pretty much mandatory (you can argue the Sega Genesis all you want; it's your opinion, but it's wrong*).

The system we got was the one that came with the Power Pad, the precursor to Dance Dance Revolution. The cartridge had Super Mario Bros, Duck Hunt, and World Class Track Meet. I don't recall if we got any other games that Christmas, but it doesn't matter, because my brother and I (and occasionally our dad) played the heck out of those three games. The house would be filled with the frustrated cries of falling off a cliff in SMB, or groans of "Stupid dog!" at Duck Hunt, or the pounding of feet as we "ran" on the Power Pad. Ah, simpler times.


So if you have kids, make sure this Christmas you get them something they'll remember when it comes time for them to write their own Retrojunk articles. It doesn't have to be big or expensive, just memorable.

* For those of you who may not be aware, I'm kidding.
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