Thursday, February 17, 2011

Ten of a Kind: Great Toys of My Youth

For this week's Ten of a Kind, I'm going to talk about great toys of my youth, and for the purposes of this, I'm going to count my youth as being from the 60s through the 70s! So, in no particular order:

1.Mego 8" Action Figures
The 8" Mego Action Figures probably top most geek favorite toy lists... at least, geeks in my age group! Mego's first 8" Action Figures were Action Jackson, which was intended to compete with Hasbro's GI Joe. Many of the accessories from this line were repurposed for later toy lines. Of course, the favorite line Mego produced would have to be their World's Greatest Superheroes!
Sure, there were characters that really should've been part of the line but weren't (Flash, Green Lantern, Dr. Doom, etc.), the line was still incredible! Their monsters weren't too bad, either (although AHI had the advantage there):
Another favorite was the Star Trek line! The characters had good likenesses (well, except for some of the aliens), and I still wish I had the ones I had as a kid!
But possibly my favorite line Mego had (aside from the superheroes) was their Planet of the Apes line, which encompassed the movies as well as the TV series!

2.Best of the West
best of the west
Marx Toys had a definite winner with this line of western action figures! Unlike the 12" GI Joes or other similar lines, this line had most of the clothing actually molded onto the characters, with accessories made of plastic or rubber that could be put on them. Unfortunately, these accessories were all to easy to break or lose!

3.Give-A-Show Projector
From 1960 to the mid 1980s, Kenner's biggest selling item in those pre-home video days was this battery-powered slide projector, which you'd insert slide strips of seven slides each to tell short stories based on cartoons, popular tv shows, and even original features. It should be no surprise that I'm including this line, given how much I've been trying to collect the complete set, eh?

Now we get to my newest toy obsession... View-Master! Such a simple concept... a hand-held stereo viewer, yet one that has outlasted just about every toy line out there (except for Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Legos, and Barbie). Originally, View-Master just offered reels with photos of places around the world, but then the genius really came when they started licensing cartoons, TV shows, movies, and more, with complete stories! I just started collecting these in December, concentrating on the character stuff.

From Ohio Arts came a toy that's been around seemingly forever! Sure, given the limitations of the controls, the most any of us could draw with it were cityscapes or other things that required just straight lines, but it was still a great toy!

I have many fond memories as a child molding stuff out of Play-Doh, and if you ask me, it's a sign of how great a toy it was by the fact that today the brand is still around... and my kids play with it!

7.G.I. Joe
The toy line that created the phrase "Action Figure" so boys would be encouraged to play with what were basically dolls! GI Joe led the way to toy lines like Mego's action figures, Ideal's Captain Action, and many others. Of course, I'm talking about the 12" Joes, and not the mini-ones that came out much later! My heyday of getting Joes lasted from the tail end of the original military-oriented figures and went right into the Adventure Team era. Sadly, plastic costs ended the line, although Hasbro did try to keep the line kind of alive with their smaller Super Joe line before giving up the ghost.

8.Aurora Monster Models
Here I'm talking about the original Aurora monster models! They were a great line of models, with all the major monsters included, and it's a line that's been reissued several times since in various forms!

9.AHI Batman Rack Toys
AHI produced a LOT of great (and a few not-so-great) Batman rack toys, which were usually found at places like Kresge's, Woolworth's, and Kmart. I had the Batman parachutist as a kid, and probably at least one of their Batmobiles!

10.Hot Wheels
Forget Matchbox or any of the other die-cast car companies (well, except Corgi, maybe), the best cars to play with as a kid when I was growing up were Hot Wheels! It doesn't seem like there's ever been a time when Hot Wheels haven't been around. The line would be considered a classic even if they just had the cars, but then they went ahead and had the track sets, too! I remember playing with those things for hours and ours!

This is only the first of four Ten of a Kinds that will feature toys from my youth... so if your favorites weren't mentioned here, wait around!

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