Time Warp Toy Box ’09 – Part 1
Welcome to the 2009 holiday season! Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year and my annual excuse to dig around in my electronic toy box. Since all of you Fanboys (and Fangirls) have been so good this year, I have a wonderful selection of classic, not so classic, and down right demented toys to share with you this month. Thanks to everyone who sent in requests for toys and for those who haven’t it’s not too late. Let’s get started, shall we?
Have I ever mentioned that the original G.I. Joe is my all time favorite toy? Of course I have but I still love to open every year of Time Warp Toy Box with a little piece of Hasbro history. The set on your right was a JC Penney exclusive called Desert Patrol Adventure. The only thing really “exclusive” about it was the fact that the jeep is molded in a desert tan color. Otherwise, this is exactly the same as the Sandstorm Survival set that came with a green jeep. Color schemes aside though, this was still a great set that combined elements of the Mouth of Doom, White Tiger Hunt, and Capture of the Pygmy Gorilla. G.I. Joe was allowed to have a hunting rifle in this Adventure Team set but it would have been even better if they had included the machine gun or cannon from earlier versions of the jeep. That rubber alligator would not have stood a chance then!
I have caught some flack in the past for not featuring more toys for girls in this segment. I tend to gravitate more towards boy’s toys since those were what I had as a kid and remember best. When this Christmas catalog page for talking stuffed animals crossed my path though, I knew I had a winner for the female faction. This 70’s ad features a lot of pop culture icons, including Mrs. Beasley, Buffy’s doll from the television show Family Affair, which I have had several requests for. The doll featured here is an exact copy of the one on the show and looks great but what happened to the other characters? This Bugs Bunny is alarming hairy and looks like he forgot to shave after a three week bender. Mickey Mouse is obviously a middle aged obese version of his former skinny self. Speaking of skinny, I could spend a whole column on this J.J. Walker figure! Sure, they were always making jokes about how thin he was on Good Times but this plush replication looks like it belongs in a carnival sideshow. Dyn-O-Mite indeed!
In the early 70’s, Mattel was looking for ways to branch out from their popular die-cast car line, Hot Wheels. One avenue they explored with moderate success was rechargeable vehicles. Sizzlers were about the same scale as Hot Wheels but were made of lighter materials and had a tiny battery inside. They could be charged through a small jack using a variety of devices. The most common of these was the Super Charger seen here (and referred to as a “goose” for some reason) which held two “D” cell batteries and clipped to your belt for easy transport. There was also a larger charger that looked just like a gas station pump. Once charged, the cars would zip around like crazy for about a minute and then run out of juice. This line lasted for close to a decade and produced a large variety of car styles. Mattel even added a similar line of three wheel chopper motorcycles called Rumblers but these were never as popular as the cars.
Our final toy this week is another vehicle line by Mattel, the Vertibird helicopter. This was a, more or less, working version of a helicopter that was permanently anchored to the control console by a rigid metal wire. Kids could control the speed and altitude of the copter and, with a little practice, pick up and drop off various objects. Mattel made a large number of playsets for this line, including a polar set with icebergs and a police set with robbers to capture. The set shown here is the Paramedic Rescue or Rooftop Rescue as it was dubbed in the Sears Christmas catalog. This set came with a burning tenement building that was conveniently located only a few blocks from the Vertibird landing pad. Children could pretend to rescue victims from the projects and drop them off at the nearest hospital. That is provided they could show proof of insurance!
COMING NEXT WEEK: Time Warp Toy Box Salutes Stuff That Shoots!