Toys and Memory

I spent a large chunk of last week organizing our basement. Currently it’s nothing but cinder blocks, but there’s enough height to the ceiling it could be finished out into a nice rec space, which is something we’ve been planning to do since we first moved in… a decade ago.

Anyway, while sorting through various boxes I ran across this little collection of catalogs. I didn’t have a Mego catalog lying around, so I tossed Kirk into the photo. If I’d been feeling really ambitious I would have dug out some Lego catalogs too.

Add Legos and some Six Million Dollar Man toys into this photo and that’s pretty much my favorite run of toys from my youth. (I’m not counting board games or books or comic books, obviously.)
Mego dolls, check. I had a lot of the Star Trek ones, and the Enterprise set, and I played the hell out of them, along with some Marvel figures, especially Spider-Man. When I was younger, that Fisher-Price castle was the coolest thing ever. Fisher-Price also had the Adventure people sets, which I never really got into (it annoyed me that they had no elbow or knee joints) but I sure loved the parachute set. I’ve no idea what I got out of taking the parachute guy out into the yard and throwing him up and watching him descend gracefully in his chute, but I did it, a lot.

Then there are the Micronauts. Man, were those cool. I think that they were only around for a couple of years, but they sure were nifty. I recall playing with those a lot with my pal Mike Boone. I gave some of my surviving units to my friend David Bartley, a big Micronauts collector, when I left Indianapolis, but held onto a few favorites for my kids. Space Glider’s harness actually survived handling by both children so that the wings still pop out on command.

Viewmasters — I sold off all of mine years ago on E-bay but I still had this catalog. I remember using them for months before figuring out that if you lined them up properly the image became three dimensional! I just hadn’t read the fine print, I guess.

And then there were the Marx Best of the West toys, most famously Johnny West. They might have been the last big gasp of the western toys. Me and my friends Bryan and Aaron Brooks had those, though the Brooks brothers had a much more complete set, including the really cool Indians. I can recall liking the Sam Cobra villain set the best, because it had so many gadgets. I used to hand over his gear to some other character who didn’t look as villainous and pretend he was some kind of western spy.

Anyone else have fond memories of these?

4 Comments on “Toys and Memory

  1. You’ve just described much of my childhood. I loved the Micronauts and the comic series. Johnny West was a huge part of my childhood – I had almost the entire run along with horses and a ranch. Chief Cherokeee, Geronimo, Fighting Eagle, Custer and Captain Maddox. Sam Corbra and Pat Garrett. Johnny West with quick draw action.
    Then came the Lone Ranger series – Lone Ranger and Tonto, Butch Cavendish, Red Sleeves – and the trusty steeds. Don’t forget the coolest “town” you ever saw – Carson City.
    The Star Trek toys and bridge were also great. My favorite had to be Big Jim and his P.A.C.K. team. The Whip, Dr. Steel, Warpath, Torpedo Fist – all battling Zorak.
    One series I never had but always wanted were the Mego Planet of the Apes figures.

    And yes, I had a Mego Conan and all four KISS figures.

    • Oh man. I’d completely forgotten there was a Conan Mego figure! That’s awesome. Just looked up the figure… I don’t think I ever saw him before. What a terrible looking face! I was hoping it would look like the Buscema Conan.

      My friend Jon had a bunch of the Planet of the Apes figurines. I think he might even have had the Planet of the Apes fortress, although it might have been the “village,” which was the Mego Batcave with different images on it.

  2. Howard, maybe the parachute thing is some weird universal guy thing?

    At the fourth of July, amongst other fireworks (firecrackers, jumping jacks, snakes, and tanks)… did anyone else buy the parachutes, then carefully recover the expended parachute to tie to your GI Joes? Then throw them out of windows at the highest point in the house?

    I can’t have been the only one…


    • Oh yeah, I used to try to find those. The funny thing is that my dad had the same idea, and he would look for them too on 4th of Julys when I forgot to do so, thinking I might want them!

      They just measured up to that Fisher-Price skydiver toy. My son never took to it, but my daughter played with him a lot. I guess that goes to show you how sturdily it was made, because it lasted through both of us!

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