Being that it’s Christmas and all, I figured I try to churn out yet another toy article. Besides, when remembering Christmas past, you don’t think about getting to see long lost relatives that you could give two shits about, or the green bean casserole that Grandma always felt the need to bring, even though no one liked it. And you definitely don’t look fondly on the seven-hour church service that soon followed. You remember the toys. Everyone always has fond memories of the cool Transformer they got when they were seven, or the year that they tore the wrapping paper off their new Nintendo Entertainment System, or even unwrapping the most obscure He-Man figure. Believe it or not, you got tons of crap you don’t remember. Most of it probably was just that: crap. But chances are, you were given plenty of cool stuff that was just forgotten over the years. Keep in mind that this IS NOT a top ten list. This IS NOT a best of. That ship has sailed. So there’s no need for the “what no Ninja Turtles nut kicking action Leonardo?”, or “hey cocksucker, where’s the goddamned Cobra Terrordrome?” comments in the feedback section. Hey, they can’t all be on there. But enough ranting, here’s the TOP TEN, err, I mean list of long forgotten toys.
Tomy Space Pets: I know most of you remember the air powered cars that you’d pump full of air and then give them a nudge, sending them racing across the floor. These followed the same principal, only instead of simply rolling to the other side of the room, each ‘pet’ had its own form of movement. The ‘Stoomdorm’ stretched its legs outwards and inwards, like an accordion, as it moved. The ‘Hoomdorm’ hopped like a frog, the ‘Floomdorm’ sort of shuffled on its pie-cutter shaped feet and the ‘Loomdorm’(the blue and yellow one), well, I’m not sure what it did. While they are really neat toys, it’s easy to see why they aren’t remembered fondly. Very lame names. I can’t picture many kids talking shit about how their ‘Stoomdorm’ was better than their friends ‘Floomdorm’. Maybe if they had names like ‘Baby Killer’ and ‘Slaughter Marauder’ they wouldn’t be on this list.
Visionaries: What a big craze 3-D hologram stickers were. You don’t see them much anymore, except maybe on your credit card, but back in the day, kids loved ‘em like they were shiny, 3-dimensional blow. So, you’d think it would be money in the bank to combine 3-D hologram stickers and action figures. Not so. Basically, they were just 4 inch G.I. Joe figures, with a hologram sticker on their chest and a staff with a larger sticker. So why did they fail? Perhaps kids just weren’t interested in glorified G.I. Joe figures. After all, they were released around the same time that G.I. Joe was losing steam. Or maybe I’m just the only person who thought holograms were cool.
Convertors: The other, other transforming robot toy line. Almost no one seems to remember these things, but chances are, if you were into Transformers and Go-Bots, you had one. They were a very decent line of transforming toys and every bit as good, quality-wise, as the other two lines. They covered a wide range of themes; cars, planes, birds, insects. They even had a cash register and a slot machine. Transformers didn’t even have that. While they were obscure, they did reasonable well for a toy that didn’t have any kind of television tie-in. That’s probably also why nobody remembers the things. For all you would-be Transformer collectors who can’t afford the Transformer prices: you should check these out. There’s usually not a lot listed on ebay, but when they do pop up, they’re dirt-cheap.
Manglors: Some of you may remember these. If you do, you remember how badly they sucked. The concept was simple. Rip an arm or a leg off of the sticky, rubber-like figure and reattach it, just like new. They looked so cool in the ads. And they also worked like a charm for the kid in the commercial. Problem was, the first time you ripped an arm off and tried to stick it back on, it fell to the ground a few seconds later, getting covered in a layer of dog hair and God know what else. They were such a let down. In fact, my Manglor was one of the first real disappointments I can remember from my childhood. Good writhens.
Stompers: I know these things look just like any other motorized toy car, but they were all the rage back in the early eighties. They were small, motorized vehicles, that actually had 4 wheel drive. They could drive literally over anything, assuming it was less than an inch high. With big tires and working headlights, it was like having your own, three inch long Bigfoot. The bodies could also be removed from the car and put on other vehicles, which made them fun to swap with friends. I know you could literally just swap the whole car with your pals and it would be no different, but it just seemed cooler the other way. Kids are stupid. Over their short lifespan, several gimmicks were added to the Stompers line; more speeds, stunt gimmicks and vehicles with more wheels to name a few. Despite the new tricks added down the line, the original Stompers remain the most well remembered.
Captain Power: Although obscure and short-lived, Captain Power was without a doubt one of the greatest toy lines of the eighties. Several toy lines, after the success of Lazer Tag, incorporated some kind of light sensing, Lazer Tag-like gimmick into the toy. While Captain Power may or may not have been the first to do this, the main feature was the toys ability to interact with the television series. During segments of the show, the Captain Power wielding kid could shoot at targets on the t.v. screen. The really cool part was that the targets would actually shoot back. The spaceship/gun would keep score, adding points for each target hit and subtracting points for each time you were hit. After so many points were subtracted, the ship would ‘explode’, causing the ships cockpit and pilot to eject. It was a brilliant concept. Unfortunately, the live action television show was a little too gritty and adult themed for smaller children(it was actually a damn good show). After it was cancelled, the toys weren’t quite as cool with no show to interact with. And Lazer Tag themed spaceships lose their luster after a while.
There you have it folks, serveral long forgotten 80's toys critiqued for your viewing pleasure. There are tons of great and not so great, forgotten toys out there, so look for a possible part deux to this article sometime in the future. Have a holly, jolly Christmas and all that crap.