Flashback Friday: Ten of My Favorite Toys of All-Time

We got our Xbox One back!

I say ‘we’ because it showed up in my name, even though my son Lukas won it in fantasy football (see the hyperlink on ‘fantasy football’? That means you can click on it, just in case you’re like, “Won it in fantasy football? How the … “)

What a summer it’s been without it!

The kids have realized that Legos are fun to play with, that there are kids nearby to play with, and that going to the park isn’t that bad.

I kid for the most part. My wife is very stern with this whole video game invention that seems to take our kids away from us and we put a strict one-hour, every-other-day, guideline on our eldest. Thankfully she doesn’t put that on me, especially since I just paid off Star Wars: Battlefront, which comes out in mid-November. (By the way, if I do spend too much time playing video games that means I’m spending less time with my wife doing … well, you know … and I’d rather spend time doing … well, you know … then saving Stan Lee in the Lego Marvel Super Heroes video game.)

Rabbit trail … come back Kevin!

Okay, so we just got our XBox One back from repair. It had some syncing issues and so far, so good.

So as I again try to figure out the power of this little black box, I’ve decided to play with some apps hoping to discover something fun.

For the most part I haven’t, but I did download a faux Netflix app called Tubitv.

The movies are lame, for the most part, but we did run across a documentary called Turtle Power: The Definitive History of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that Lukas and I were drawn to. I gave it a solid 8 on IMDB.com, mostly because TMNT was a big part of my childhood, and has come back to play a part in my kids’ childhood as well.

So feeling inspired, and since I’ve failed at doing a Flashback Friday every friggin’ Friday, I’ve decided to instead look at 10 of my favorite toys of all-time.

Since my wife is anti-video games, I’m leaving out video games and the Game Boy. But boy did I love me some Tetris. I’m also leaving out the Choose Your Own Adventure books, because they are books but deserved a mention here.

Instead of listing multiple action figures, I’ve decided to lump them into one set, that way we get a look at some of the retro stuff that I played with back in the day (I guess that’s the point of the word ‘retro’ right, so I don’t have to write ‘back in the day’).

Forget the jabbering, nobody’s going to read this anyway, for my own personal fun …

What you won’t see?

There’s no He-Man, my youngest brother favored those.

There’s no G.I. Joe, despite Mom being an army brat with her dad and two brothers serving in our wonderful military, Mom didn’t care for us to have guns around. When we were older my middle brother (I’m always confused on what you call him. I’m the oldest.) favored them.

There’s no My Little Buddy, because that would be embarrassing.

And there’s no Cabbage Patch Dolls because my mom collected them. I think she still has about 75 of them suffocating in a box somewhere, wrapped in Saran wrap.

No. 10 – M.A.S.K.
For so long I couldn’t remember if this was an actual toy/cartoon or something I dreamed about when I was a kid. Nope, it was a cartoon and an awesome toy.

The more and more I read about these ’80s toys, the more and more I realize that someone had a brilliant idea for a toy but to promote it they needed a cartoon to accompany it. That’s what happened with M.A.S.K. They were awesome little figures, whose trucks/cars turned into combat stations, and who had helmets that had some sort of special power. They were cool! I remember I had the Rhino, the tractor truck. Oh, just seeing this picture brings back so many memories.

Thanks Albert Penello for the killer M.A.S.K. page!

M.A.S.K.'s Rhino
M.A.S.K.’s Rhino

No. 9 – WWF Figures
Like everyone else our age, my brothers and I fell in love with the World Wrestling Federation. I liked Hulk Hogan, my brothers chose the Ultimate Warrior, and “Macho Man” Savage (sad, of the three only Hulk survives), but we were also partial to Mr. Perfect, Jake the Snake, and Andre the Giant. So since we loved watching Wrestlemania and especially the Royal Rumble, we had to recreate these bouts with our own figures. I still remember cutting out the numbers (1-30) and then randomly drawing a name out of a hat to see who would win the Royal Rumble, then playing out live with our figures. Remember when things were a little simpler?

WWF-043
Photo from theredwoodconnection.com

No. 8 – Starting Lineup Talking Baseball
This game was a lot of fun but it was a bit complicated and nobody ever wanted to play with me. (Actually wish I kept it as I know have someone to play with in my eldest.)

You insert a cartridge that had teams on it, or you could prefill a roster – I think. Come to think of it, I don’t really remember how to play. No matter it kept me occupied on road trips, and as a 10-year-old it taught me a little more about the strategy of baseball. Man, you can find everything on the Internet. Here a dude explains the game in detail.

No. 7 – Micro Machines
Take Matchbox cars and then shrink them. Things just got a lot cooler! To this day I still have four of them that follow me from insurance office to insurance office. And on rare occasion I’ll have someone ask me, “Are those actual Micro Machines?” They are my friend, and they are still very, very cool. Oh, and let’s not forget about the commercial!

No. 6 – LEGO!
Do you remember where you were when you had just completed the 389-piece Lego Police Command Base? I do.

Do you remember where you were when your cousin visited minutes later and destroyed it? I do. Poor Renee, I still haven’t forgiven her.

You can’t go wrong with Legos, perhaps the greatest toy ever invented. Thirty years later and my kids spend countless hours building their own sets, ships and people.

Now let’s pour out some bricks for my broken Police Command Base.

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No. 5 – Starting Lineup
You mean my favorite baseball player, Benito Santiago, is going to be an ‘action figure?’ I’m in! I remember collecting the back of the package so I could check off who I’ve gotten, or even see what San Diego Padre was going to be released in toy form. We still have quite a few of these, and I still have my Benito Santiago.

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No. 4 – Millennium Falcon/X-Wing Fighter
Originally I had the AT-AT alongside these two classics, however, the AT-AT was bought at my second cousin’s garage sale, so we actually never owned it new. Darnit! Instead I’ll put my boyhood idol’s ship, the X-Wing and the classic Millennium Falcon.

Sure the X-Wing was cool, and is still my favorite Star Wars ship but when it came to toys not much could topple the Falcon. The hidden compartment, the Dejarik board (aka “Let the Wookie win”), the cockpit, nothing beat it.

1981 Christmas
Me at Christmas 1981

No. 3 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
The toy that inspired this list. Watching the aforementioned documentary, and then seeing the original Leonardo action figure, put chills down my spine. I flashbacked to 1988. I loved Leonardo, my brothers liked Michaelangelo, and Raphael, poor Donatello was left out. We collected them all, from Shredder, BeBop and Rocksteady to Casey Jones, Ace Duck and Panda Khan. We even had the sewer (which we sadly left behind when we moved to Hawaii, again, no forgiveness). Once again, this time 25 years later, and I’m reintroduced to a very fond childhood memory, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Got to love the circle of life.

TMNT-Retro-Collection-Leonardo-2
Picture courtesy actionfigurefury.com

No. 2 – Soundwave and Transformers
I remember saving up my money, riding our bikes down to Fedco, and snagging the one toy I’d been saving a very, very, long time for. What’s so cool about a tape deck? He turned into a kickbutt robot! My favorite Transformer, and Megatron’s right-hand robot, was sadly absent in the movies (again, what’s so cool about a tape deck?) but will forever be itched in my mind as one of my greatest toys of all-time. If I ever have extra money to spend I’m buying one of these for my man cave!

Photo courtesy transformersclassics.com
Photo courtesy transformersclassics.com

No. 1 – Luke Skywalker, Boba Fett, Biker Scout and the Death Star Gunner (and Star Wars figures in general)
Did you expect something else?

For so long (okay, maybe not that long) I couldn’t figure out why Boba Fett was so popular. And then it hit me. The same reason his action figure was one of my favorites of all-time – he’s so friggin’ cool looking!

The Bespin Luke Skywalker is still my favorite toy of all-time. He’s my boyhood hero wearing the outfit from my favorite cinematic scene.

After that I’ll take Boba Fett, the Biker Scout and the Death Star Gunner, in that order.

I used to play toys and pretend that my buddies and I would dress into those costumes to fight bad guys (even though each one of those characters are actually bad dudes). In fact, I may do that when I’m done writing this post.

It doesn’t get any better than Star Wars toys, and though I’d favor those four out of any ever made, you can’t go wrong with any of the others. I still have a large part of my original collection, all worn down of course. Some are headless, some are handless, most have been abused loved so much you can hardly recognize them. Boba had his feet bitten off a few years back by my grandparents’ dog. I flipped, then realized it was just a toy. Lis did a great job of supergluing his feet back on you can’t even notice.

Star Wars toys will forever be my favorite, and in less than a month I’ll make the trek to Walmart or Toys ‘R’ Us at midnight and add to my collection. I won’t go overboard like I did in ’99. Maybe one, maybe two, something I can put on my desk at work. No need to keep them and hope they will make money. After all they are toys, and they’re meant to be played with – A LOT!

IMG_20150811_210506497

Now to sneak into the boys’ room and find my Star Wars guys!

What were some of your favorite toys growing up? Share in the comments below!

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