#330: Toys, Part 1

We revel in remembering some of the best (and worst) toys of our childhoods, give props to homemade toys, and realize how much toys shape the kind of people we become. We recall what it was like to polish your own rocks, struggle with the infernal spirograph, try to get any real speed on a free-style bike (much less a Big Wheel), and build elaborate slot car tracks.*Audra explains My Little Pony butt art and the real reason there are no boy ponies; Sean relives the glory of ruling the neighborhood with a solid mahogany sword; and Chuck tells how, at age four, he got a Dad-constructed, gas-powered, custom car built on a lawn mower chassis — complete with personalized license plate.And we run down the Week in Geek, enjoy movie trailers forRobot and FrankandLoopers, identify some must-see ComiCon panels, and give our full support to Charlize Theron’s bald pate for Mad Max 4.

Direct Download
Blog Post

LEGO. So many hours spent playing LEGO.

Don’t know if they played my call, but this is what I talked about in mine:


It seemed way cooler at the time.

LEGOs were huge for me as well; I still have all of mine. Between Christmases and birthdays, I got tons of actual boxed model kits as well as the packs of the regular colored blocks. My brother and I were huge on action figures - G.I. Joes, Ninja Turtles, and all the plastic or metal knights we could lay our hands on. We also had a ton of Micro Machines.

Chuck’s ‘lawnmower car’ - very cool. I always wanted a go-kart when I was a kid but never had one.

Sean’s neighborhood-dominating wooden sword - that’s just awesome. (His dad’s reaction reminds me of Mr. Weasley asking Harry and Ron how the flying car worked, lol.)

My contribution to the Toy Arc… I refer you to my post from waay back during the Firefly Arc “How I invented Firefly in 1973” :slight_smile: http://forum.galacticwatercooler.com/showthread.php?10348-I-invented-Firefly-in-1973&highlight=Johnny+West

And… post copied here too:

“How I invented Firefly in 1973”

Bwana was very Mr. Weasley’ish about that sort of thing. We had a great time building wooden swords and learning what held up and what didn’t. I know it sounds like I was a warlord or something but really I was half the size of everyone else and got my rear handed to me alot before I had it. It horrifies some people when they hear about children fighting with ‘weapons’ but honestly it was either this or get the crap kicked out of me. I choose going on the attack - also it was a different time I guess.

Still have the sword btw.

The closest I ever had to a wooden sword was a blue broom handle that I found in my grandparents’ shed; I claimed it and subsequently became my weapon of choice in every Thanksgiving/Easter/Labor Day battle that my cousins and I engaged in in my grandparents’ backyard. But my brother and I had two very nice, well-made, durable plastic broadswords that we got at a museum gift shop. Those things must’ve lasted us ten years.

One Saturday he and I each had two friends over - along with my sister, there must’ve been about 7 or 8 of us. We handed out all the other implements of ‘toy weaponry’ that we owned - mostly odd plastic crap, but useable (my bro and I with our broadswords were naturally the best-armed kids there) - and used the garbage can lids for shields. We had a mass, running battle in our large backyard that probably lasted 2-3 hours at least. Most fun I’ve ever had on a Saturday afternoon.

+1 on Johnny West, GI Joe and “Action Figures” in general (12 inch version, not the smaller 80’s style)
+1 on the pull string GI Joes with canned voice saying
+1 on Kung Fu Action Grip
-1 on the “life like” hair/beard GI Joes (just plain wrong)


My G.I. did not have the stupid beard, but …oh yeah…12 inch G.I. Joes all the way.
Screw those 80s lesser, small G.I. Joes.

I totally had this set:


Chuck mentioned Erector Sets. Totally had one of those. Good learning experience learning how to deal with screws, nets, washers, etc. (which is good cuz I was never naturally very mechanical )

speaking of “Hot Wheels” and laying down tracks :slight_smile:


I was a made-for-hire Big Wheel driver. I never owned one but I was asked by many to race theirs. After a win I would donut by pulling on the blue plastic brake and continue pedaling. I would usually get about three 360s before the Big Wheel would skid to a halt.

My last ride on a Big Wheel almost ended in tragedy. We were playing chicken in a driveway. Basically two BWs line up and race down the alley. There is an incline at the end of the driveway that empties into the street with moving traffic. The goal. Get as close to the street before jumping off.

There were several scrapped knees and bruised hands. Sometimes your opponent would crash into you. Other times you’d crash into a gate or hedge. Anyway, on my last ride, I took off and was nose-and-nose with the other guy. As we approached the dip and the side walk, he tried to clip my back wheel. Instead he caught a concrete lip and bought it. I rolled down the hill triumphant while everyone screamed. However they were screaming for me to jump off the Big Wheel. So, I did. Next thing the Big Wheel met the front of a bus.

Yeah. My wife is happy we don’t have sons.

That is frakking hardcore, 'Talos. Most of us only dreamed of being able to get away with that level of Big Wheel activity.

Once I got a bike, my brushes with Death increased tenfold. Cats may have 9 lives but 'talos got 'em beat. I’ve hit a moving vehicle twice and a stationary vehicle 6x. There was an unsanctioned dirt bike course next to the highway obscured by brush and trees. Well-worn trails lead to a fifteen foot decline where an open area hosted a wooden ramp raised up by old tires. As the hours past, the tires would increase. My record is 10 tires. (Technically it was 5 high since there were 5 on the right and 5 on the left to stabilize the ramp.) At the time as I made my way down the drop and toward the ramp I had no idea how high the ramp was. I hit the ramp at full speed and was launched into the air heading toward a tree. I leaped from my bike, grazed the tree, and landed in a pile of old mattresses. I know. Eeeww. But I was alive and ready for the next jump.

The 80’s were the golden age of toys for me. I was hoping the crew, being the NASA geeks, would’ve mentioned the “Starcom” franchise.

Other toy franchises I remember with fond memories are: MASK, GI Joe, He-man (& She-ra), thundercats, galaxy rangers, transformers (& bandai), zoids, teenage mutant ninja turtles, sky commanders, micro machines, et al (No, I did not possess everything listed above)

I had a Meccano set ( which was said to be the precursor of Lego?)

I loved stuffed animals, but my absolute favorite toy was the Lion Voltron. It was five separate lions that could be assembled to form . . . The Defender Of The Universe! It was cool.

Oh yes! I remember Voltron! I always wondered why the pilots were not in scale proportion with their Voltron lions?

Hey, I just had a brilliant idea : we should have our own GWC ACTION FIGURES! That would be Juantastic!

I also had the Johnny West action figure, with his Native American pal (or more likely in any scenario in the front yard, Nemesis). I had the horse for Johnny as well, I recall it had a pretty awesome tack rig and saddle too!

One of my other favorites was space-related: Major Matt Mason. These were about 7 inch action figures, rubber with bendable metal skeletons (like a Gumby) but with cool molded-on painted spacesuits and snap on plastic helmets with flip up visors. The best thing about Major Matt was the accessories! I had a big moon base, a moon crawler (battery op that would stagger across the living room like there was no tomorrow), a treaded moon car, a survival tent (inflatable)…you name it, Matt and his buddies had it (NASA and the space race were of course super hot topics in the sixties, so obviously Matt had ZERO budget issues with the tech guys…)

Bar none though, my 12" G.I. Joes probably logged in more playtime than anything else. I had the helicopter, headquarters, the Adventure Team Vehicle, a Jeep with trailer and recoilless rifle (spring-loaded, that shot really hard 3" plastic shells about 15 feet, and yet never poked anyone’s eye out), a Mercury space capsule, a diver’s rig with real lead shoes and a sweet plastic diving helmet, a powered motorboat, a 6-wheeled ATV with a winch (all the better to search for mummies in the deep desert, don’t ya know)…Damn, I had a craaapton of G.I.Joe stuff. :smiley:

GI Joe and LEGOs. Sure, I had other toys but these were my go to toys. I used to make Transformers out of LEGOs, my crowning acheivement being a tank that fully transformed into a robot without having to take anything apart. It was all swivel joints and hinges and sliding pieces. I once recreated the computer hideout from Superman 3 and even made my own Superman (using paper, map colors and scotch tape to add the “S” and the cape.) Before LEGO had branded merchandise, I had Superman, Batman and Robin, and Ghostbusters (complete with ECTO-1 and fire house.)

GI Joes were possibly my favorite toys because they satisfied the action movie junkie in me with the great (for the time) articulation, multiple weapons and accessories, and vehicles and bases. I must’ve had a hundred figures at one point. Oddly enough, we only played “GI Joe” about half the time. The rest of the time, we played other stories using the Joes as stand-ins. Hydro-Viper made an awesome Predator. The B.A.T. version 2 was a great Iron Man-esque battlesuit.

We’d start with pouring out the bag I kept them in and then going around in a circle picking one figure at a time. I generally went first and 9 times out of 10 would take Snake Eyes as my first pick. Once we’d divided up all the figures, we’d do the same with Vehicles. We’d usually build a base on the bookshelf using sections of the different bases I had to build one big mega-base, with the bad guys having a separate base on the other side of the room. When playing GI Joe, easily half of my stories involved Dr. Mindbender doing mad science and having it go wrong. He’d create the B.A.T. which would kill their whole base, then head over to the Joe base and begin wreaking havoc there. Then, Snake Eyes would show up and defeat it. We once had an epic story where Dr. Mindbender was in love with Baroness. She died during battle when her vehicle was hit and Mindbender used SCIENCE! to bring her back to life. But, she went crazy and Mindbender had to team up with Snake Eyes to stop her. I remember it made me sad.

Since my cousin Jason was 8 years younger than me, I still played with the Joes up through high school whenever he came over. We even took my GURPS rules, gave stats to all the figures, and used those to play semi-realistic battles. When I was about 19, I gave all my GI Joe stuff to Jason so he could keep playing with his friends. (Not that I didn’t sometimes stop by and play.) I’m nearly 40 now and just writing this makes me want to dump that pile of figures out and start playing. I wonder if Jason still has them?

I didn’t have a lot of geek toys growing up but I had both Legos and Lincoln Logs. I can’t say which got more play time but for Christmas 1977, I got an X-wing and my brother got a Tie-fighter. We loved these things. They made noise and you could push a button and the tie would lose his wings. I miss those ships…