The Retro Machine Vol. 20
There are those who wonder "why" we do this..."why" we look back. It is easy to look at us and think that perhaps we are just nostalgia freaks who are stuck in the past. One could easily pass judgment that perhaps we are unhappy with our lives now and long to go back into the past, as if we wish to dwell in the darkness for fear of the light that is reality. This may be true for some. But I would contend that in most cases these assessments are unfair. In fact, I would say that I enjoy the present (and live so much more in
it) as a result of remembering so much about what was good in the past. The glory of past years reminds me of what the mind of a child is like, how that mind experiences wonder, how it experiences magic, and how a toy, or a TV show, or a food product, can be meaningful, especially when experienced in the context of a loving and secure family. Most importantly, it compels me forward to provide these same special things for my
. And I know that just as we romanticize about yesterday, tomorrow we shall also look fondly back on today.
What a journey we have had! This 20th volume also features the 200th item we've covered together! If you haven't done so already, come join us at our Facebook fan page, www.facebook.com/theretromachine. Stop by and say hi! And without further ado...Spiderman Little Hot Cycle
This being the 200th item we've discovered (or re-discovered) together, I figured it had to be something pretty major for me. I had been searching for this Spiderman Little Hot Cycle ever since I began The Retro Machine, and finding it was one of those "yes!" moments. This exact "Big Wheel", as they were called, was the big prize I got for something that's sort of embarrassing to mention; I got it for successfully potty training. You see, I wasn't in a rush to be potty-trained. I just remember not caring so much about it. So one day, my mom said that we could get this Spiderman Big Wheel if I would just be fully potty trained. I thought that was a pretty good deal, so suddenly I cared a lot more about taking the fast track to wearing big boy pants. It wasn't long before I was riding around the backyard in my Little Hot Cycle. And now you might know too much about me.
In later years, while I remained successfully independent at toileting, the red in my Spiderman Little Hot Cycle began to fade. The tassels went next. And one day, far into the future, it sat outside waiting for the trash truck. Toys can be like that sometimes, they exist for a purpose. Maybe it's getting you from point A to point B. Or maybe it's getting you through a tough time in your life. Or maybe, it's just motivation to help you poop like an adult. Slush Puppie
Slush Puppie drinks were like the commercialized snowballs of my youth. In my town, if you wanted a snowball, you had a few choices. You could go to the "homemade" snowball stands and watch as someone dumped a ridiculous amount of tasty syrup over tiny ice chips. Those were always the BEST snowballs. Those usually ended with your entire mouth coated in whatever color snowball you got. The other option was that you could go on down to the local Kmart or local gas station and pick up a Slush Puppie. These were like a poor man's snowball, but they were tasty enough in a pinch. The ice was usually really fine and they were never as good as "real" snowballs, but nonetheless they hold a special place in my heart. MicroMagic Milkshakes
MicroMagic was a line of frozen food that was meant to be cooked quickly in, you guessed it, THE MICROWAVE. I think MicroMagic is known more for their french fries (which were soggy in my opinion), but it was their milkshakes that really did it for me. They came frozen, hard as a rock, already in a cup. You'd stick it in the microwave for a short time and before you knew it, you had a milkshake. They tasted a lot like a Wendy's Frosty if I remember correctly. When I think back on it, it all sounds completely disgusting. TMNT Vehicles
Here's just a collection of some of my favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle vehicles. I never owned any of these, but my brother-from-another-mother sure did. The best one of these by far was the Turtle Pizza Thrower. This thing shot plastic pizza discs out of it, allowing you to mow down Foot Soldiers left and right. The other product, which was by far the worst, was the "Turtle Blimp". This thing was inflatable and this means that it didn't last long. My friend made short work of that and the only part we ever saw of it was the bottom plastic part, the blimp got thrown away. And then there was the Foot Cruiser, Bebop and Rocksteady's hooptymobile that allowed them to shoot eyeball rockets out the back. You could also stand another figure on the outside of the car. Then there was the Mutant Module, a vehicle with a drill on the tip that allowed Shredder and The Foot Clan to drill through the earth. The final vehicle was a little sewer skimmer that allowed them to ride through the sewers. All of these were just vehicles that I remember fondly from the glory days of TMNT toys.
My friends and I used to play with all the TMNT toys on a small bridge that had a small river underneath it. All these TMNT vehicles ended up underwater at one time or another, the carnage from many epic battles we had on the bridge.TMNT Cookies
These cookies hold such a strong association with the summer time for me. When they came out, we were so overwhelmed with how good they were that they became a regular purchase at the grocery store. They were shaped like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles characters, and that was just a bonus. My personal favorite were the chocolate chip version, the ones that had little mini specs of chocolate in them. If you were really hardcore, you could also buy the giant plastic cookie container that was shaped like one of the turtles. These cookies tasted so good! Wish I could have some now!Rubik's Magic Puzzle
I remember one Christmas I received the Rubik's Magic Puzzle in my stocking. I had never heard of it, but it did have the legendary "Rubik's" name on it and I thought that must mean something good. It was not to be though, this puzzle never lived up to the Rubik's Cube. The idea was to twist and turn the pieces of the puzzle until all the rings were complete. Of course, I never actually completed this puzzle because I generally (1) didn't care that much and (2) didn't have the time to invest in figuring out the thing. It ended up being one of those things you come across sometimes, fiddle with for a few minutes, and then put back. Fisher Price Cash Register
Boy, who here among us didn't
have one of these?? The Fisher Price Cash Register was, for many of us, our first introduction to play money. We had seen cash registers at the stores that mom and dad would take us to, but this was ours
. Back then, cash registers still looked somewhat like this! There was nothing electronic here whatsoever, it was simply a matter of putting the coins in, hitting the button, and having the change pop out. The little "ding" that you'd hear every time the drawer popped out, man that was great! It made it seem "real". It was nowhere near as fun several years later when I had to man the cash register at a hospital during lunch time. Wheaties Dunk-A-Balls
I think the good folks at General Mills realized that kids just weren't into eating wheat flakes. So in order to introduce the Wheaties brand to a new generation, "Dunk-A-Balls" were created! Billed as "The Breakfast of Champions for Kids", Dunk-A-Balls were really just another great-tasting sugarball cereal. Seriously though, these tasted so good, and the fact that they all looked like little basketballs made it sort of fun. Plus, I felt like I was somehow eating healthier. You know, because only fat kids eat a low brow cereal like Cap'n Crunch, right? Not me, I eat Wheaties for kids!
Sadly, these existed for only a short time. I think they hoped we'd all gravitate to Wheaties...and in my case, I did!
My Little Pony Show Stable
This one is for the layyyyydeees and the brothers of the layyyydeees, of which I was a member of the latter. C'mon guys, admit it, you couldn't resist the urge to join in with your sister as she tirelessly trained her pony to win one of those shiny yellow trophies. The My Little Pony Show Stable may have had a purple roof, but this place had one heck of a tough training regimen inside. There were green fences to jump over, high bars to jump over, and other things to jump over as well. Come to think of it, any pony training at this stable was sure to win any jumping competitions. And at the end of a long day, you'd brush the pony's hair, smell the pony (which either smelled good on purpose or inadvertently killed our brain cells), and put them in their bed. Then you'd quietly retreat to your room and grab the manliest looking toy gun you had so you could get back to being the MAN that you were. No, forget toy guns, getting back to being a man required you to break out your Rambo Tactical Weapons kit, complete with headband and grenade-tipped arrows. Yes, that did it.Junk Drawers
We all had them. If we were lucky, we had a few of them around the house. They were drawers we did not often open, but when we did, we'd find things we thought we lost. Or we'd find things that we should have thrown away, yet, couldn't bring ourselves to do it. There was nothing quite like digging your hand through a drawer full of stuff and finding "that thing". Yes, any adventure into the junk drawer was always interesting (and would almost always result in a mess that ticked off the parents). So in this edition of The Retro Machine, as well as in future editions, we open up our junk drawers
and let you have a peek. As you sort through them, I hope you find something you lost! Just don't forget to put everything back where you found it. Candy Containers
My junk drawers were a haven for candy containers. Chances are, if you dug into a drawer deep enough, you'd find several. Check these out:
Some beautiful arcade cabinets
Here we see several "classics" for me...the Garbage Can, Fire Hydrant, Telephone, and Bed Bugs were all ones that I had at one time or another.
A shot at a full box of Garbage Can-dy!
Some classics, featuring ET Candy, Audrey from Little Shop of Horrors, and Papa Smurf. I remember ET Candy being soooooo good! Like little sugar balls or something!
A whole box full of ET Candy!
Here was some candy made by Fleer (I believe) and the container was shaped like soda cans. You'd pop the lid and guzzle the candy done. I remember it being similar to ET Candy, little sugar balls.
Here's some Mr. Bones Candy coffins, featured in a previous article. Remember how the candy itself was a puzzle of bones that, when fully assembled, gave you a full skeleton! The version they have of this today is nowhere near as good as this one was. Today the candy tastes like sweet tarts. The Mr. Bones Candy was softer and tasted better, instantly turning to sugar dust in your mouth.
The Ice Cream Cone Candy featured here is CLASSIC. I always went for the one that was chocolate ice cream with chocolate fudge on top. Inside you would find little pieces of candy shaped like ice cream cones. They were so good, that is probably one of my top 3 favorite Topps candy containers ever.
The cooler was another really great one. The container itself opened like a real cooler, with the top sliding off to the side.
Here's the inside of the cooler candy container.
Check out the nose-shaped one on the right, called "Pick 'n Chews Bubble Gum". This was awesome because after we ate the gum out of it we still kept the nose. I got one of those green mini-koosh balls, ripped all the outside off it so there was just a tiny piece of hacked-up rubber, and then put it up the nose like it was a booger to freak my sister out. That's being a kid right there.
Yes, Howard the Duck had his own candy! Take a picture of this one folks because I don't recall too many candy items after this that featured a character smoking any kind of cigarette or cigar!
Rollerskating Candy came in a little roller skate that had working wheels and came attached to a cheap necklace so you could wear the roller skate after you were done. Another favorite of mine, we had these in our junk drawers!
Here are two different Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles containers.
That does it for the 20th time, look out for a Halloween article sometime in October! I have some spoooooky retro things to show you, plus more from the junk drawers.