Hey, whaddaya know? It’s Sunday. Again. Of course that means a brand new episode of the Sunday G&T Show, hosted by friends Nick Minecci and Terry Lynn Shull, with Guru Mike Medeiros holding the whole thing together with duct tape and spit.
I’m sure they talked about all sorts of cool things: the new Trek movie coming in just a little less than two months, the big Vegas con coming in August, the newest developments in Star Trek Online, and maybe even a few nuggets about the books or comics.
Yes, I know what you want:
What were your favorite toys growing up, and what was the one you wish you had but never did?
First, your question presupposes that I ever actually grew up.
Decades before our first feeble attempts to justify having them cluttering the house because they’re “collectibles,” they were just toys. Action figures, models, cars, trains, planes, and spaceships! Oh my!
I did most of my toy-playing before the first home video game consoles came on the scene, and—yes, by golly—those were wondrous times, indeed. It was back then that mighty heroes such as G.I. Joe, Captain Kirk, Steve Austin, Batman, and Action Jackson teamed up to fight evil in all its forms. Sometimes they’d let Stretch Armstrong tag along, or maybe even “Pulsar: The Ultimate Man of Adventure” with his weird see-through chest and blood pumping through all of his organs and shit. Then there were times when the mission called for help from the Lost In Space robot, or the Creature from the Black Lagoon. On even rarer occasions, like if they needed an emergency set of wheels to plunge headlong toward danger, they’d knock Ken on his ass and make off with his and Barbie’s camper rig. Come to think of it, my sister never seemed to appreciate the need to support the ongoing battle for truth and justice and so on and so forth.
My favorite toys during my single-digit years–as should now be obvious–were action figures. I could spend hours creating my own adventures, augmenting the action with whatever else I might excavate from the depths of my closet. Lincoln Logs and Legos, arranged just so, became secret bases or enemy fortresses, or bridges spanning the massive chasm of death separating my bed from my bookshelf. If Santa was his usual awesome self one Christmas, my intrepid team of heroes might find themselves operating from swank new digs such as the Batcave, Moonbase Alpha’s Main Mission, Steve Austin’s Bionic Command Center, or the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise.
And if I needed something else? A Lair of Doom, perhaps? Then I made one. I remember taking old boxes, cutting and taping them together into different shapes and sizes, in order to make hideouts, tunnels, dungeons, and rocket bases galore. Secret traps and hidden entrances out the ass, yo, and all of it decked out with whatever gadgets and doo-dads I could stick to it in order to simulate laser cannons, radar dishes, evil death rays, and whatever I could dream up. After all, there’s nothing quite so dangerous as a ten-year old with tape, scissors, free time and an active imagination.
As for toys I never had but wish I did, it actually took me a long time to come up with this one because, to be honest, most of the stuff I missed, I didn’t even know existed until long after I’d given up playing with such toys. So, I’ll preface this part by saying that one toy I wish I could reacquire is one of the original Steve Austin figures from the 70s. I think that one had to be my all-time favorite, but finding one in decent shape nowadays requires donating a kidney or something. I’m not saying that’s a deal-breaker, of course; only that finding a Steve Austin that hasn’t been beat all to hell is easier said than done.
And Steve needs to an enemy to fight, right? I already had the Bigfoot figure with his chest panel that popped out whenever Steve punched him just the right way, but one I never got was the ever-menacing “Venus Space Probe,” the automated rolling machine of doom made famous in the various “Death Probe” episodes of The Six Million Dollar Man. I loved those episodes as a kid, but I didn’t even know they’d made a toy of the thing until just a few years ago, after which I threw my hands toward the heavens and pondered why the gods had forsaken me so.
Of course, now that I have young kids of my own, I get to go with them to the toy store where I marvel at how much more detailed and “screen accurate” the stuff is, with all sorts of gadgets and thingamabobs that never were part of the figures and other toys from my childhood. Three-story Batcaves and table-sized Millennium Falcons and castles and fortresses that take up all the space in your living room? Where the hell was all this cool stuff when I was ten years old? Though my daughters play with plenty of dolls and play sets and other toys “for girls,” they also get into stuff like pretending to be Wonder Woman or Ahsoka Tano from The Clone Wars, or building Lego sets that turn into alien spaceships, and maybe—once in a while—going to Daddy’s closet and pulling out some of his toys.
Um, I mean “collectibles.”
This question and its answer was read during G&T Show Episode #86 on March 24th, 2013. You can hear Nick read the answers each week by listening live, or check out the replay/download options when the episode is loaded to their website: The Sunday G&T Show. Listeners to the show are also encouraged to send in their own questions, one of which will be sent to me each week for a future episode.
Thanks as always to Nick, Terry and Mike for keeping the questions coming.