So where was I? Oh yeah, this week, I’m switching things up a bit, as this column isn’t going to cover music at all. Instead, your throwback this time around is toys. 80’s toys. Forgotten 80’s toys. That’s right, in response to the complete lack of response my last article got, I’m going even MORE obscure. Whatever, I live dangerously. Anyway, without further ranting from me, here are 5 cool toy lines from the 80’s that I’m pretty sure nobody but me even remembers.
The 80’s were a great time for toys. Far better than today, despite all the advances in tooling, sculpting and articulation, conceptually the toy lines of the 80’s violently molest anything you can find on the shelves of a modern Toys R Us. Toys were a way bigger deal in the 80’s too. Aside from TRU, there was Child World, and Lionel Kiddie City, both of which were also giant stores dedicated solely to the sale of toys. Beyond that, stores like Sears, Consumers, Macy’s (when it was still called Macy’s/Bamberger’s), Gimbel’s, and Bloomingdale’s ALL had toy departments where kids could get their action figure fix. Don’t believe me? Go to Toys R Us today, and aside from wrestling figures, you’ll find shelf space dominated by Star Wars, Transformers, GI Joe, and He-Man, all toy lines that were born in the 80’s. Of the big toy companies of the 80’s only Hasbro and Mattel still survive today, but back then companies like Revell, Remco , Tomy and Ideal contributed just as much to the wealth of great boys toy concepts that were abundant in the 1980’s. Let’s check some of them out!
Apparently, Mantech was also the first instance of me being a completely spoiled child because I had every one of these. The Battle Station was particularly cool, especially to 4 year old Joey. It was enormous, it had all kinds of computers and weapons, and tons of pegs and holes where the weapons that came with the figures could attach. Unfortunately, as most toy lines from the early 80’s that didn’t have a cartoon or movie for support, Mantech was crushed by the Star Wars and He-Man juggernauts. There was allegedly a Marvel comic book tie in, but unfortunately that wasn’t enough to save Mantech from becoming a forgotten 80’s toy.
*** Please Click read more Below to see the rest of Joey Esq 80's Toy post***
Plus I couldn’t even find the cool commercial I remember, I did find this one instead. It sucks, and don’t ask me who the fuck Peter Greenwood is either. Ok fine, this entry was terrible. The rest of the list is better, I promise.
While looking for pictures of the things for this article I found out that the line was the subject of controversy. Consumers Union's children's publication, Penny Power challenged the claim that Manglors could be torn apart and reassembled, and found that they could not get the product to live up to its advertising claims, leaving a Manglodemon in many pieces that they were unable to reassemble. The packaging of the toys encouraged children to mix and match the parts of the various Manglors, but Consumers Union claimed it was not possible to get them to hold together as demonstrated. This goes directly against my memory though, because I remember ripping my Manglizard up and reassembling it. I also remember the thing was so fuckin sticky that it collected every bit of lint in the living room… which now that I think about it, made it impossible to put back together. Eventually anyway.
STARRIORS: Created by Tomy and Marvel comics in 1984, Starriors are probably my favorite toy line on this list. A huge amount of time and energy went into creating a back story for the Starriors, each toy came with a mini comic book, and Marvel produced a 4 issue limited series written by Louise Simonson and with really beautiful covers by Bill Sienkiewicz.
The Starriors toys all had a mechanical feature. Most of robot action figures were simple windup toys, you wind them up and the weapon in their chest or on their arm would spin or gyrate. The larger “dinosaur” type toys could walk or roll on their own and transform. The smaller ones also would roll on their own. The comics gave each character a well fleshed out origin and personality, which for me, made them even cooler.
Two of my favorite toys from the line were Deadeye and Cricket, and the Armored Battle Station playset. Instead of being windup, Deadeye was remote controlled (the Cricket character was actually the remote) and could be made to roll forward by clicking the Cricket control. Deadeye also fired discs from his mouth. The Armored battle station was just a really cool playset, and the giant cobra could be fired off the front like a battering ram.
Well that’s it for this week. This was fun, and in writing it I thought of about 10 more obscure and forgotten toy lines, so I definitely have another one of these in me.
*** But wait… BONUS THROWBACK!
Ok, aside from being obscure, every toy line on this list has one thing in common with each other, none of them had a cartoon (which is probably why they ended up being forgotten). Well, as a bonus throwback for you, here’s a cartoon that never had a toy line. Vytor, the Starfire Champion was a cartoon that aired very briefly in 1989 when it preempted either GI Joe or Transformers for a week one afternoon and was never seen or heard from again. Except in my head, because I swear to you, thanks to my audiographic memory, I’ve had had this theme song stuck in my head for the past 20 years. I’m serious, a theme song I heard 5 afternoons in 1989, and I can sing the fucking thing verbatim. I told you it was a curse. Honestly though, if you have any memory at all of this, you get SERIOUS geek points.