Time Warp Toy Box ’08: Part 1
Time Warp Toy Box ’08: Part 1
Christmas time is here again and so is the childhood treasures appreciation segment of Retrorama that we like to call – Time Warp Toy Box! During the month of December I will be spotlighting some Fanboy favorites from Christmas past and I welcome any reader suggestions if you would like to see something special featured here.
I wouldn’t feel right starting the TWTB season off without my all time favorite toy – G.I. Joe. Above are the boxes for two very special accessory sets that were Sears Christmas catalog exclusives in 1973. There were no truly new pieces in either of these, just a combination of parts from other sets. The abominable snowman that looks so awesome in the artwork was just an albino pygmy gorilla from the earlier Adventure Team set. For Boiling Lagoon, Hasbro combined a standard deep see diver suit with the pygmy gorilla boat and the satellite device from the mobile support unit. It always bothered me that the water was supposed to be so hot it was boiling but Joe was jumping in with no gloves on! Apparently the Adventure Team had some budget cuts in the 70’s. These exclusives had nothing to do with collectability. Thirty-five years ago, store specific merchandise was designed to get people to order everything from one company’s catalog since they could only get these unique items there. If your mother was a devout catalog shopper like mine was, this wasn’t a problem. Both of these sets were under my tree that Christmas.
In the mid-1970’s, a company called Picam brought a popular European toy to the United States and marketed it through heavy television advertising. The German made Darda cars had been around for many years and in many styles but Picam concentrated on the dune buggy model seen above and the “Darda Buggy” was born. According to the commercials, these cars had the world’s smallest spring powered motors. By placing the car on a flat surface and pulling it backwards until the motor clicked, the spring was wound and the car would zip around like crazy when it was released. I had a sliver version of the buggy and had great fun running it around the edges of the circular metal trash cans that every school classroom had in those days. Unfortunately the $4.99 price tag on a car about the size of your standard Matchbox or Hot Wheels vehicle prevented these from catching on in the US but many kids could never get the advertising jingle out of their heads! When you hear that clicking sound, click, click, then its wound. Darda Buggy……Darda Buggy……Darda Buggy!
The Planet of the Apes franchise was on fire in the 1970’s with movies, a television series, and a Saturday morning cartoon show. Ape merchandise was hot too but some of it got a little ridiculous. It’s obvious some cap gun manufacturer thought they had a cheap cash in on their hands here just by slapping a logo on some existing stock and tossing a monkey mask into the box. Remember how the soldier apes used to run around with Winchester rifles and Colt Peacemakers? Yeah, neither do I! Aside from the obvious political incorrectness that toy guns illicit these days, the most disturbing element of these playsets is the fact they were officially licensed by 20th Century Fox! Where’s my Cornelius snow cone maker?
Our final entry this week is this beautiful set of matched Wacky Water Writer pens. The creative people at Lakeside Toys gave us the exciting combination of an oversized pen with a water based game inside. I am sure the idea of kids being able to play a game while pretending to do their homework seemed like a winner back in the day but the entertainment value was short lived. I had the “Sink the Sub” game on the left and catching the little rings on the periscope of the submarine got old after about the third time out. The pens were refillable but only held a one inch long ink cartridge so they ran out quickly and they tended to leak water, requiring regular refills to keep the games working.