Tag Archives: action figures

Throwback Thursday: Indiana Jones action figures!!

I was thrilled when these Indiana Jones action figures arrived for me under the Christmas tree in 1983.  I loved “Raiders of the Lost Ark” more than I loved “Star Wars.”  I was truly surprised, too — I didn’t even know that they existed.

Why was that, I wonder?  Was Kenner just not advertising them much?  The company sure wasn’t shy about advertising its “Star Wars” figures.

That very last figure you see is the German mechanic that Indy fought at the desert base, when he and Marion were trying to hijack that plane.  (Dear God, was that one of the greatest movie scenes of all time.)  Anyway, the German mechanic toy had a spring-activated arm for clobbering action, and he came with a little plastic wrench.  Good times.

 

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Throwback Thursday: “Micronauts” action figures!

Mego produced the “Micronauts” action figures that you see below between 1976 and 1980.  I remember getting a couple of these guys for Christmas when I was in … kindergarten?  First grade?

I had no idea who they were.  (I grouped them together with my “Metal Man” action figures — another toy line in the late 70’s that is now mostly forgotten.)  I still loved them, though.  They weren’t as cool as “Star Wars” figures, but they were still space-based toys.  (At least they looked that way.)  And their partially transparent bodies made them unique.

It was this toy line that gave rise to the “Micronauts” comic book series from Marvel.  (I had a few issues in the early 1980’s — it was trippy stuff.)

 

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Throwback Thursday: the Coleco Electronic Quarterback

The Internet informs me that Coleco produced its Electronic Quarterback in 1978, but I seem to remember receiving one for Christmas in the early 1980’s.

My parents had a superb track record at picking out presents that I didn’t ask for, but that were still awesome.  (See my blog posts on my “Clash of the Titans” or “Metal Man” action figures.)

This, however, was the rare white elephant Christmas gift.  A grid of flashing red lights crudely simulated a game a football, a sport in which I had zero interest.

My love of video games would be well nourished elsewhere, though, by the Atari 2600, which arrived in my household at around the same time in my childhood.

 

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Throwback Thursday: “Metal Man” action figures!

The “Metal Man” action figures are a bit of a strange late-1970’s phenomenon for two reasons.

First, Zee Toys produced them with no backstory — there was never any fictional universe established by a comic book or cartoon or movie.  They just sort of appeared under my Christmas tree around 1979 with names like “Questar,” “Radon,” and the lazily repetitive “Roton.”

Second, they were actually made entirely of die-cast metal.  They were heavy, with more joints and points of articulation than “Star Wars” figures, which were simpler and more cheaply made, if far more popular among first graders like me.

Those two things gave them a lot of mystique to an imaginative little boy.  I loved them.  Sure … they were confusing.  Radon looked a bit like a Cylon from “Battlestar Galactica,” but he wasn’t one.  And how did his “Sky Sled” fly?  Upright, so that he could see where he was going?  Did he just recline on it?  For some reason I spent a lot of time thinking about that — probably when I was supposed to be doing my homework.

Seriously, these were treasures.  I still have the above three, I think.  “Corporal Chrome” looks like he would be fun to hunt down.  And “Major Mercury” deserves his own goddam album cover.

The 1970’s … weird, but fun.

Bugeyedmonster.com has a really neat rundown of the entire toy line right here (and here’s where you can get a glimpse of “Major Mercury”):

http://www.bugeyedmonster.com/toys/metalman/

 

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Throwback Thursday: “Star Trek,” the Original Series

I really missed the boat with last week’s Throwback Thursday — it was the 50th anniversary of the entire “Star Trek” franchise, with the first episode of the original series airing on September 8, 1966.  (And even the term “franchise” seems way too narrow to describe “Star Trek” in all of its incarnations — it’s really more like a permanent part of western popular culture.)  I’m not old enough to remember the show’s original run, which was a surprisingly scant three years.  But I remember it in syndication when I was not much more than a baby in the mid- to late 1970’s.

“Star Trek” was something that my older brother and maybe my father watched.  (I was fixated on programming that was more comprehensible for young kids, like “Land of the Lost” and reruns of “The Lone Ranger.”  Seriously, the original black-and-white serial western was still in reruns back then.)

But “Star Trek” was definitely something I was attracted to as a tot, doubtlessly resulting, in part, from the contagious ardor for it that I saw in my older brother.  (He might not admit it today, but he was a bit of a hard-core science fiction fan long before I was.)  The show was on at our tiny house in Woodhaven, Queens, quite a lot.  He also had toys and posters connected with it.  (And anything my older brother owned was something I endeavored to play with when he wasn’t looking.)

He had that Captain Kirk toy among the figures produced by Mego that you see in the bottom photo.  (Again, 1970’s “action figures” were often pretty much indistinguishable from dolls.)  In the early 1980’s, he had a totally sweet giant poster depicting diagrammed schematics for The Enterprise in surprising detail.  I’ve Google-searched for it, but found only similar pinups.  The one hanging in the room we shared was blue.

I remember him annoyedly correcting me because I called it “Star Track.”  (I did not yet know the word “trek.”  I myself was confused by my own mistake; I knew that there could be no “train tracks” in space, even if I studied the opening credits one time just to make sure.)

I was precisely the sort of pain-in-the-ass kid who fired off an incessant barrage of questions when I saw something on TV that I didn’t understand.  My father was patient to a fault when I punctuated his World War II movies with inane questions.  (I’m willing to bet I eventually acquired more knowledge of the war’s European theater than the average six-year-old.)  My brother was not always so forbearing.  I actually remember him changing the channel away from shows he was watching, like “Star Trek” or “MASH,” if I joined him at the little black-and-white television we had in our room.  (The poor guy needed me to lose interest and go away, so that he could at least hear the damn show.)

Certain “Star Trek” episodes remain memorable to this day, even if I understood maybe 15 percent of what transpired onscreen.  The was The One With The Domino-Face Men, which the Internet now tells me was actually titled “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield.”  Then there was The One Where Kids Ruled Themselves on a Deserted World, which made a really big impression on me.  (The Internet tells me this one was “Miri.”)

As I grew up, the show faded from prominence in my child’s psyche.  It was just never my fandom of choice.  Nor was it for many other kids I knew … by the 1980’s, it was already considered “an old TV show.”  The kids on my street were always excited about the feature films; even if we were underwhelmed by the “slow” first film in 1979.  Blockbuster movies were major events back then, and fewer, and they were enigmatic in a way that is impossible after the Internet’s arrival.  (I think that Millennials will never be able to understand that, in the same way that you and I can never appreciate the vintage “serials” that our parents watched before the main feature at a Saturday matinee.)

In the 1980’s, just about every boy I knew was preoccupied with the space-fantasy of “Star Wars.”  On television, we had cheesefests like the original “Battlestar Galactica” and “V.”  As we got older, we gravitated toward the “Alien” and “Predator” film franchises.  At home, I read Orson Scott Card and Harry Harrison, and as I approached college toward the end of the decade, I’d discovered Arthur C. Clarke.  If we’d known another kid who was really into “Star Trek,” I’m not sure we would have considered it “nerdy.”  It would just have been very weird, because it we viewed it as a campy tv show from maybe two decades prior, like “Bonanza” or something.  I don’t think I ever even thought of the franchise as really relevant or popular until I was at Mary Washington College in the 1990’s.  “Star Trek: the Next Generation” would regularly draw kids out of their dorm rooms into the lobby at New Hall.

Still, it’s hard not to develop an emotional attachment to something that stimulated your sense of wonder as a tot.  I … felt pretty damn sad when Captain Kirk died in 1994’s “Star Trek: Generations.”  I saw it in a theater in Manassas, Virginia, I think, with my girlfriend at the time.  She actually felt she had to console me after seeing how doleful I was on the drive home.

 

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Throwback Thursday: “The Dukes of Hazzard” action figures

Tonight’s Throwback Thursday is another little 80’s Ghost of Christmas past.  The General Lee arrived under my Christmas tree in 1980 or 1981.  Yeeeeeee-HAH.

What was especially cool about the Mego toy company is that they so generously included Bo and Luke Duke, as you see below — the weird, lower-budget packaging makes them look like they’ve already been tied up by one of the TV show’s easily defeated bad guys.  The Dukes Included” feature was a happy surprise — if you were a kid collecting Star Wars toys in the 80’s, you were already well acquainted with the common disappointing disclaimer, “action figures sold separately.”

I remember that Christmas a little more vividly then others … the tree was in a different corner of our family living room, for some reason.  And it was the very same year my older brother received AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” on LP.

Man, did I love The Duke boys.  So, too, did my fellow enthusiast, Mikey Wagner, on the next block.  We loved the two good ol’ boys; we loved Roscoe’s laugh, and his dog, Flash; we loved puzzling over why Enos was a good guy, kind of; we loved Waylon Jennings as the viewer-surrogate narrator; and we loved “THE JUMPS,” trying our best to emulate them with our bikes, along with that “Yeeeeeeee-HAH.”  Hell … we even watched through the strange, troubling “Coy and Vance” pseudo-Dukes days.  (Fans who remember the show will know what I mean.)

Hey — if you are a true 80’s scholar, you might recall that Enos even got his own spin-off TV show in 1980.  It was called, unremarkably, “Enos.”  And it was weird.  It was a … drama in which Enos moved to California and joined the LAPD.  You can’t make this stuff up.

My zeal for all things Dukes led to one faux pas with my family.  We had a gigantic late-70’s-era green Oldsmobile, and it had vinyl seats that got HOT when you parked it in the sun.  You could mitigate that problem by leaving the windows rolled down.  (Yes, I really am old enough to remember these things; the first “electric window opener” I ever saw was on a babysitter’s car, and, at the time, it seemed high-tech and weirdly opulent to me.)

Anyway, my older sister and I were returning from somewhere (it might have been church, or maybe the supermarket).  I dove feet-first into the passenger seat, instead of opening the door, hopping in just as the Dukes jumped into the General Lee.  That … really pissed my sister off, for some reason.  My mom too.  She told me, slowly, gravely and in a low voice in the kitchen that afternoon, “This is real life.  That is a TV show.”

Mikey liked Daisy Duke considerably more than I did; his occasional admiring mention of her puzzled me.  I hadn’t quite discovered girls yet in 1981, and I couldn’t appreciate the nature of her unique aesthetic value on that TV show.  (I’m pretty sure the show’s creators did.)  I thought Daisy was superfluous, even though I didn’t know what the word “superfluous” meant.  Her presence seemed to be a weird, obligatory public service reminder that, yes, girls could also drive, and were also known to live in the country sometimes.

Is the term “Daisy Duke shorts” still even employed today?  Do kids even know that it is derived from a TV show?

 

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Throwback Thursday: Universal Monsters action figures.

Tonight’s Throwback Thursday is a quick one, but a fun little ghost of Christmas past — Remco’s Universal Monsters action figures in 1980.

I received Dracula, Wolfman and the Phantom of the Opera unexpectedly under the Christmas tree.  As you can see from the photo below, they were well crafted toys, and damn fun.  I wonder how well they sold, though … How many kids in the 1980’s would excitedly ask their parents for toys featuring movie monsters from a half century earlier?  I could understand Dracula being timeless enough to attract a child — he was still a perennial favorite for boys on Halloween.  But … the original Wolf Man?  And did most kids even know who the Phantom of the Opera was?

I did.  But that’s only because I had a children’s book about the Universal Monsters.  Because I was way too into monster movies even in the second grade.

 

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