This is my first time doing an article of this kind so I hope you enjoy it. I was never lucky enough to have most of these playsets when I was growing up in the very early eighties, but my parents did buy me the Galoob A-Team Van for the 3/34 figures. I wish I still had it, but that is another story. In the later years of my life I managed to get hold of most of these great toys, but obviously not the USS Flagg due to both the size and price. Anyway here they are.
15. A -Team Van 1983 (The A - Team) - My parents bought me this great van back in 1984 as far as I can remember for my sixth birthday, and I truly loved it. I believe it was also to scale with the action figures, which was really cool. It also had some nice details like the dashboard and the recording equipment in the back, but that was about it. The roof also came off so you could sit the figures in the correct order, according to the TV show. Looking back on it now it wasn't that well made, and the floor of the van could break easily if you weren't careful. The tyres were also plastic and not rubber which was a pity. I think if Kenner had of made this van they would have done a better job, and would've had rubber tyres. Nevertheless it's still a nice collectable.
14. Partywagon 1989 (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) - A very lucky and spoiled friend of mine had this van, along with other vehicles like the Blimp, Foot Cruiser and the Pizza thrower. Without a doubt this was my favourite along with the Foot Cruiser coming in at second place. It was a very very well made van with axels supporting the wheels instead of plastic clips to hold them in like some other toys. I also loved the way you put all six members of the Turtles, Michael Angelo, Raphael, Leonardo, Donatello, April and of course the mentor and teacher himself Splinter. There was also quite a few moving parts like the roof lifted much like the A Team van, so you could place all four turtles or the other two members April and Splinter. A side also opened so that you could assault the members of the Foot Clan or indeed Shredder himself. And lastly a shield came down over the front windscreen for battle mode, which was another neat feature.
13. K.I.T.T 1983 (Knight Rider) - I never actually owned this toy, but I always thought it looked excellent from the pictures I've seen. Sure the figure didn't quite resemble David Hasslehoff, but it wasn't a bad attempt at all. Some other people on the net seem to think he looks more like an albino frog, but I really can't see the resemblance. Kenner did a nice job on the car itself, and it was also very nicely scaled to Michael. The only thing I never liked was the red lettering with Knight 2000 on the side doors, but nevertheless it was a great toy.
12. Goliath 1987 (M.A.S.K) - The first time I seen this transporter truck was back in school in 1988, and I was very jealous. At the time it wasn't fully complete but it still looked great. Since then I always wanted this set, but my parents just couldn't afford it at the time. It wasn't until 2007 that I finally got it from eBay, so I was super chuffed. One thing that set these toys apart from other toys was that they were fully licensed which must have cost Kenner a lot back in those days. Unfortunately around this time Kenner also lost the rights to Good Year tyres, because all the previous vehicles had Good Year tyres on them. Maybe it just cost too much money to keep putting licensed tyres on all of them. This is a Mack truck, based on an eighties design from that period. This truck also did quite a few things like having the transporters section transform into powerful missile launchers, the cab rises up to become a turret and of course the Indy car becomes a jet with hidden missiles under the wings. The truck was driven by Nevada Rushmore and the Indy car by Matt Trakker.
11. Outlaw 1986 (M.A.S.K) - This sleek black and menacing oil tanker was driven by Nash Gorey and co piloted by Miles Mayhem, was actually the longest vehicle in the M.A.S.K toy line. One of the main reasons I included this truck was the fact that it turns into a very big base or headquarters for V.E.N.O.M short for Vicious Evil Network of Mayhem. It was also one kick ass toy and also very well made. It also had lots of pieces that go missing very easily like the blue radars, red hose, computer panel and another black thing that attaches to one of the oil sections. It also had an excellent missile launcher that came with two missiles to annihilate your M.A.S.K foes. Nowadays toys don't have these kind of cool things due to child safety.
10. Rhino 1985 (M.A.S.K) - Rhino was very much a signature vehicle along with Thunderhawk, and it was driven by Bruce Sato and sometimes on an odd occasion Matt Trakker. It was also another very expensive toy that my parents could not afford due to the colossal price tag of Â£50 pounds in the mid and late eighties. There was a lot of fun to be had with this truck, because of the amount features and opening parts. Some memorable features included an ejector seat for getting rid of V.E.N.O.M agents, the front grille as a battering ram and a missile launcher in hidden in the sleeping quarters. The detail was/is also incredible for the time because of the dashboard, the leaf springs the grooves on the tryes (if you look carefully the even have the tyre pressure!), and if you looked underneath it you could see the gearbox and the drive shaft. I was also lucky to buy this truck from ebay recently as well.
9. The Technodrome 1990 (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) - Another vehicle/playset I've never seen on any of the greatest playset lists on the net is The Technodrome from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I know it wasn't to scale with the Turtles figures at all, but it was still a very nice piece to have in any collection. I suppose for it to be in scale it would have to be at least be five feet in length, 3/2 feet wide and 4 1/2 feet high, which just wouldn't have been possible. There was quite a few features like a command deck for Krang and Shredder and of course a cage/prison to put those pesky troublesome turtles into. It also had cannons on the outside for Bebop and Rocksteady to man, and plenty of other cool things.
8. Boulderhill 1985 (M.A.S.K) - Boulderhill was M.A.S.K's main headquarters and base and also doubled as a gas station. It transformed into a very heavily armoured base bristling with guns and cannons everywhere. Again I was never fortunate enough to own it, and I've also never seen it in the flesh/reality either. This base was much bigger than any other M.A.S.K vehicle including Outlaw and Rhino.
7. Royal Naboo Starship 1999 (Star Wars) - This is yet another Another Star Wars vehicle that I never see on any greatest playset list. It's very eye-catching. It's big. You need a lot of space to display it. It was a very large toy measuring just over three foot. It still holds the reigning title of being the longest vehicle to this day. It also had many features: including lights sounds, boarding ramp, queens throne, escape pod, pullout cockpit/flight deck and a lift for the R2 units to carry out repairs if the ship is in some trouble. Some people were complaining that it wasn't to scale, but to be in scale to the 3/34 figures it would be just massive, and it would probably be over six feet in length, two feet in height and maybe two foot wide. Still it is a very nice looking ship and it also is very expensive to buy nowadays.
6. Imperial Shuttle 1984 (Star Wars) - This ship was released during the years when Star Wars toys were not as popular any more, and people seemed to be losing interest in the line pretty fast. I much prefer this ship to the Kenner Millennium Falcon any day because of it's size and the features it has. It's still a bit under scaled, but not as much as the Falcon I reckon. Unlike the movies, you couldn't fit four figures in the cockpit, instead you could only fit two, but I must add that they fit much more comfortably than the Falcon, because with the Falcon the figures in the cockpit were literally fighting over elbowroom lol, whereas in the Shuttle there is plenty of room. The cargo hold/passenger section could also hold five or six troops/rebels so even though it wasn't to scale it was still a very large and damn impressive toy.
5. Death Star Playset 1978 (Star Wars) - Although it was a very basic playset and looked nothing like it's on screen counterpart, it was still a lot of fun to play with. It was possible to recreate your favourite parts of the movie while on board the Death Star, whether it was helping Chewbacca, Luke, Leia and Han get out of the thrash compacter or making Luke and Leia swing to freedom, this had it all. It seems to be very hard to find complete Death Star's on the market today.
4. Imperial AT-AT 1981 (Star Wars) - When this toy came out I'm sure kids around the world were begging their parents to buy this great toy. The AT-AT had some great features like articulated legs, bendable knees, opening hatch for snow troopers, an opening cockpit and guns on the front that move in and out when you insert batteries into it. Much like the Falcon it was not to scale with the figures, considering that Hasbro at this time was eventually going on to make bigger vehicles/playsets. Still it's a great toy. There are rumours that a new bigger and better AT-AT walker might be on the horizon for 2010, which will be the anniversary of the Empire Strikes Back.
3. Defiant Space Shuttle 1987 (G.I. Joe)- Had some truly amazing playsets and vehicles that were actually to scale with the figures. Unfortunately for most kids back then this well out of reach for kids whose parents were less well off. It's real shame because this set had so many sections on it and also consisted of a Gantry, Crawler, Shuttle and a small space vehicle. The amount of detail on this thing is just incredible, and it had so much play value going for it. It also came packaged with two figures: Payload and Hardtop. Obviously two figures was not enough to man this massive set but it was better than nothing.
2. U.S.S. Flagg (G.I. Joe) - When this monster came out it was one of the biggest toys ever made. This playset is really massive at just over seven feet long and about two 1/2 feet wide. Unfortunately most parents just couldn't afford this, which means it a lot of kids never got a chance to play with this thing, unless they knew a very spoiled rotten kid who had it. I'm sure it was possible to fit nearly every Joe figure both inside the ship and on the decks, and still have room to land planes and other vehicles. Unfortunately I don't think Hasbro will ever make such a large playset ever again.
1. Legacy Collection Millennium Falcon 2008 (Star Wars) - Well here it is, my number one choice. The main reason I chose this over the U.S.S. Flagg is because it's very very iconic, and even the name Millennium Falcon is world famous, even people who do not know Star Wars that well, will always know what the Falcon looks like. This Falcon is also a major improvement over the old Kenner version for so many reasons: firstly it's not chubby like the old one, you can now fit four figures in the cockpit, the smuggling compartments are in the right part according to the Dorling Kindersley cutaway guide, it has a gunners chamber, a proper dejark couch, Han's navigational console/computer, Obi Wan's chair and lastly Luke's sick bay from the Empire Strikes Back.
The boarding ramp is also class and the sounds are some of the very best I ever heard on any toy that I've ever seen. I personally think it is much better than the old Kenner Falcon, and it has loads of playability features. Another thing you can do with this ship is having the new Stormtrooper disguise Han and Luke look like they are getting ready to leave the ship. There are just so many scenes from the original film that you can create with this version. It does unfortunately have just a few faults like the figures not being able to walk through the doorways, the cockpit being quite disproportionate to the rest of the ship and landing gear does fall off quite easily. Otherwise this is a truly stunning vehicle/playset and if your are a Star Wars fan you need to buy this.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article. I hope I did'nt annoy anybody by not picking the U.S.S. Flagg as the number one.