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.
Surveying the Gen X landscape and the origins of geek
Coolest toy ever that you’ve never heard of. It makes all kinds of space sounds (lasers, explosions, warp drive, alarms), spaceships flash on the view screen, and it swivels around when you turn the control handles, just like when I used to bull’s-eye womp rats in my T-16 back home. Check out a demo here. Listen to the trippy sci-fi sounds here.
The photo is from 1979, and I’m pretty sure that’s when the Star Rider came out. Here it is in the 1979 Sears Wishbook. I found zip in the ’78 catalogs.
Empire was the problem, though. All the space-crazy kids wanted the new Kenner toys—especially the pricey AT-AT—so the Star Rider collected dust on the shelves. Also, the epic Playskool toy had a built-in demographic: it was for smaller kids only (ages 3 to 9, according to the ads).
Hey, Michael Hyland, the Eastern seaboard called: they’re running out of MOTU.
Actually, let’s make a deal. You keep the toys and your studly A-Team pajamas. I’ll take that righteous carpet, the matching tablecloth, and the boss wood paneling.
You’ll see Stinkor in the last photo (top left), and that red spider thing is—yet another winner from Mattel’s Clever Name Department—Spydor.
Hasbro’s 1982 G.I. Joe relaunch marked the beginning of probably the greatest action toy line ever produced. Series one consisted of 16 figures (including four vehicle drivers and the mail-in Cobra Commander), seven vehicles, the (flimsy as hell) Sears exclusive Missile Command Headquarters, and a Collector Display Case.
Here we see the Mobile Missile System (MMS) and Heavy Artillery Laser (HAL) in their natural habitat, a cluttered, wood-paneled living room (or den) centered by a TV whose four channels came in relatively clearly only when the cranky rabbit ear antenna was coaxed into the perfect position. (Can anyone make out who’s/what’s on the screen? My first thought was Barney Miller.)
In the bookcase behind the happy kid, more evidence of the flora and fauna of early ’80s America: 8 tracks and board games, Mastermind among them.