The selected illustrations are from a story Todd wrote called “The Warbots: The History of Armored War from 1975 to 17,500 A.D” published in Galaxy Science Fiction (October, 1968). The first “mecha“—a robot or machine of humanoid appearance controlled by a smaller humanoid from a cockpit—is generally considered to be Mazinger Z, from the manga of the same name written and illustrated by Go Nagai. Perhaps that designation needs to be reevaluated. Todd’s designs are reminiscent of a number of mecha from the 1970s and 1980s, including the Zentraedi Battlepod in Robotech.
Todd updated his illustrations (below) for 1986’s Body Armor: 2000, edited by Joe Haldeman.
(Images via archive.org and iamanangelchaser)
You can also see a Cobra Rattler in the background. There’s another G.I. Joe box on the left. Can’t make it out.
All I wanted for Christmas in 1984 were Transformers, and I got GoBots instead. My bitterness has faded with time. The truth is, both Hasbro and Tonka made imaginative toys based on superior Japanese productions.
The Command Center commercial is great (“Your parents put it together”), and the toy is actually pretty neat.
(Photo via Miles Smith)
The best part of the eco-sci-fi drama Silent Running (1972) is watching Bruce Dern’s character, adrift and alone in space, interact with the three service drones he programs to do various tasks, one of which is playing poker. Years ago Greg at Lefty Limbo found some “dinky” papercraft models of the robots (Huey, Dewey, and Louie) and decided to make one of them—enlarged to life-sized proportions. The impressive end result, minus some hydraulic hoses, is above, but you should read the whole story and check out all the work he put into the project here.
Select pages only. The Mighty Men and Monster Maker commercial is here. Note the creepy painted faces on the Tron figures, making them all look like Michael Myers. Going fully translucent was the lesser of two evils. I wanted that Tomytronic Tron game badly.
From good citizen-geek Captain Slinky, who has the whole book on display here. We know what he wanted most based on what’s colored. No love for G.I. Joe!
The book is described as “a new concept in Christmas gift buying. A coloring book that provides a chance for your son or daughter to spend hours of fun coloring their favorite toys, and a chance for the parent to get a ‘sneak preview’ of their child’s Christmas Gift Wish List…”
As if we were shy about letting the parental units know what we wanted. Still, the coloring book wish list—tripling as a coupon book—is pretty damn smart. Everybody wins.
Published September 18, 2013
Robots , Toys in the Wild , Voltron
I don’t remember much about Voltron, but I know there were two giant Matchbox toys I really wanted in 1984/1985. Damn kids have them both!
One more photo from the same year. Not a bad time to turn eight.
(Photos via Kevin Hendricks/Flickr and Thadd/Flickr)
A little late to the game, aren’t we, Imperial?
The jet plane is named Wind-Cutter. Wind-Breaker and Cheese-Cutter were already taken, I guess.
UPDATE: Friend J. reminded me of a popular Galoob line called Micro Machines, so that’s got to be where Imperial got the first part of the name/idea. Here’s the commercial, which features the fastest talker in the world (according to the Guinness Book) at the time, John Moschitta, Jr.
(Images via eBay; video via SpacedCobraTV)
In 1980, toys from the ’50s and ’60s were considered vintage, and transformable robots like the DX Daimos (far right) were the hot new thing.
Today, toys from the ’50s and ’60s are forgotten relics, transformable robots are vintage, and the hot new thing is selling vintage toys (and replicas thereof) to 40-year-olds because kids don’t really play with toys anymore.
The “Thank you, Canada” sign refers to what’s now known as the Canadian Caper, the 1979 rescue of American diplomats in Iran fictionalized in Ben Affleck’s Argo.
(Photos via ed/Flickr)
It’s Crossbows and Catapults, but in the future, and with shape-changing robots. Lakeside Games made both sets. Crossbows came out in 1983, a pretty brilliant concept that successfully cashed in on the D&D action. Immortals of Change came out in 1985, a cool-looking bomb that badly wanted to sop up some Transformers spillover.
Why did it tank? The name is awful, first of all. What the hell does it mean? Second, the game was overly complicated and didn’t work the way it was supposed to (the glider in particular, as I recall). Third, the concept made no sense the second time around.
The cool thing about Crossbows was that armies actually used giant crossbows and catapults in the Dark Ages. Why would immortal “battle machines” from the future hurl rocks at one another? Transformable robots have lasers and stuff. Everybody knows that.
The commercial below is very low quality, but it’s the only one I can find. You can tell they’re really trying to give the game an edgy feel. The volcanic landscape, the red lights, the smoke—it looks great.
(Images via eBay and Wishbook Web; video via xntryk1/YouTube)