Certainly a topic worthy of Halloweentime discussion is the Evil Horde Fright Zone play set from the Masters of the Universe line of toys. It’s a trap-filled stronghold of terror, you know. This was an extremely cool play set. Everybody wanted it but I was one of the kids that never got it. As usual, the neighbors down the street had it (along with the U.S.S. Flag Aircraft Carrier!). They seemed to get all the cool vehicles and play sets while I was left with about a fourth of the figures they had and my own imagination. I swear, every year I flipped through that phone book thick Sears holiday catalog, circled all the toys I wanted, show it off to my parents and was lucky to get one or two of those items! And it was never the “big stuff”!
Just look at this thing! I mean, it’s called the Fright Zone for crying out loud, so yeah, it’s pretty creepy and awesome. The Horde always kinda creeped me out anyway. Skeletor and his troops were bad yet goofballs but Hordak and the rest of the Horde came off as just pure evil. Hordak is an absolutely sinister looking toy. The Evil Horde was way weirder, freakier and scarier than any of the Evil Warriors.
I love the creepy, dying tree with the vultures sitting on the branches. The giant snake is just great too. Such an awesome idea that they basically made it a hand puppet for you or one of your friends to operate. Notice in the promo art below and the box art about that Skeletor is being made Hordak’s bitch. First he’s having to fight off a wicked tree and then he’s locked away in a cave! Poor Skeletor.
As a kid, kites were a pretty big deal to me. I was often told to “go fly a kite” but the truth is you can’t do it as much you’re told to (same goes for taking long walks off short piers). It all depends on the weather. Certainly you could fly a kit on any good breezy day but the best times were always spring and summer because no one likes running in the wind when it’s 29 degrees outside. Actually… I think I would like that but then I’ve always preferred cold over heat.
One of the “special” days I looked forward to most during my elementary school years was Kite Day! Come one, come all — bring your favorite kite! Snoopy! Rainbow Brite! G.I. Joe! Superman! Dragons! Bats! Hello Kitty! All were welcome but your kite was an extension of who you were. Much like your lunch box, this was a chance to proudly display your tastes and preferences.
While cruising around online, I came across a number of images of kites that I remembered and some that I just thought were cool. I definitely remember Gayla being the big “name” brand of kites, much like Duncan is the top yo-yo brand! Before we take a look at some of these photos, let’s take a look the the directions so that we may fly our kites safely:
Avoid power lines! Just like Louie the Lightning Bug says to...
Planned packaging art
In 1985, Hasbro introduced professional wrestler Sgt. Slaughter into the G.I. Joe universe by turning him into an action figure and even featuring him in the cartoon series (voiced by Slaughter himself). In 1986, Chicago Bears defensive lineman William “The Refrigerator” Perry also became a G.I. Joe action figure. Unfortunately, we were robbed of ever seeing The Fridge in animated glory. Then, in 1987, Rocky Balboa joined the ranks of the Joes.
Er, well, he was supposed to.
I’m not exactly sure who would’ve been negotiating with Hasbro to make this happen. Sylvester Stallone obviously would have been needed to approve his likeness but whether Hasbro was having to go through MGM/United Artists (who had released the then only four Rocky movies) for licensing rights I don’t know. Either way, the deal fell through for whatever reason.
Now, Marvel at the time was publishing the G.I. Joe comic books. Apparently they were so confident that Hasbro and Stallone & MGM/UA would reach a deal that they even went as far to print a character profile for Rocky Balboa (codename: “Rocky”) in the second issue of their G.I. Joe: Order of Battle handbook.
Here it is:
Personally, I love the idea of Rocky Balboa kicking it in the Joe universe. Rambo would’ve been cooler but by this point Rambo was too buy ripping G.I. Joe off with the rival Force of Freedom cartoon and toyline. They already had a professional wrestler and NFL player so why not a fictional boxer? Oh the adventures those three could have had together!
Knowing Rocky’s close call with G.I. Joe sheds a bit more like on the creation of Big Boa. Though I loved the character, I always thought having an evil boxer was an odd addition to the Cobra organization. As noted his profile, Rocky was to be a combat instructor for the Joes, just as Big Boa is listed as being a combat instructor for Cobra. My guess is either Big Boa was meant to be Rocky’s main foe or after the Rocky deal fell through Hasbro soldiered on the the project ended up giving us Big Boa (presumably because the idea of a boxer was too good to pass up).
I didn’t realize this until doing looking it up but apparently Hasbro’s Pogo Bal was not the original version of this toy. It was invented in 1985 and it has gone by the generic names of lolobal, lolo ball and spring ball. Sometimes you may see the Hasbro version referred to as “Pogo Ball” (which is how I thought it would have been spelled) but as you can see from the commercial Hasbro felt two l’s was unnecessary despite what the dictionary says.
Pogo Bals were fun (well, for about 2 minutes, then you got bored) and they look like Saturn! I’ve seen the generic versions but the only ones I remember using were the Hasbro kind. They’re definitely a lot easier to handle than their older cousins the pogo sticks. I never had one of my own but my sister did. This meant a feeling of shame and embarrassment came over me whenever I used her Pogo Bal: it was pink & purple. A far cry from the more manly silver & blue Pogo Bal my friends down the street had.
As with any toy that is popular, tons of gimmicks were introduced. Licensed Pogo Bals featuring your favorite cartoon and comic book characters, glow-in-the-dark Pogo Bals (Is it really wise to encourage 8 year old to bounce around in the dark?) and the like.
If you want to know how Pogo Bals worked, just check out the instructions that Hasbro was kind enough to post on their page. I don’t think Hasbro makes them anymore but you can still find generic versions around.
Continuing with the “one-off” theme of random toys that are/were in my collection, here’s Air Raiders. I really don’t remember them at all. Or at least I didn’t until I just happened to come across the name online and clicked the link and had one of those “HEY! I had that toy!” moments. I now remember having the little figures but I only vaguely remember owning the vehicles they came with. I’m sure those little figures stuck around a lot longer in my collection than the vehicles did (sadly, I have neither today).
I’ve said basically said all I have to say about Captain Planet before but I was thinking about “one-off” figures (figures where I didn’t have a lot of the whole series) I owned back in the day and it popped into my mind again. So Tiger (of Tiger Electronics fame) made these figures? Interesting…
Flying Captain Planet
As told previously, I only owned two Captain Planet figures: the flying version of Captain Planet himself (with the “flying” feature basically amounting to a button that triggers his arms to spring up above his head as you hold him by a string) and then one of his arch-enemies Duke Nukem. Captain Planet is one of the worst superheroes ever and I’m not even talking about his goody-two shoe personality that would make even Superman roll his eyes– I’m talking about the mullet. I hated mullets then, I hate mullets now and I don’t like my superheroes with mullets. Which I guess you already logically assumed when I first stated that I hated mullets.
Even the world's greatest superhero couldn't pull it off.
Waaaay late on this one, but so what? To get caught up, read Part 1.
The package said ten days and they weren’t lying. That’s about how long it took for these guys to reach their maximum size. And then they continued to sit in those glasses of water. I even changed the water a few times as if they were fish who needed fresh water. I just didn’t want to deal with doing this post and I didn’t want to take them out and have them shrink up again. So every few days, they got fresh water until I was ready to take pictures.
Y’know, right before typing up this post, I realized I don’t really have a point of comparison for how much this things grew. I mean, seriously, they got pretty big. I didn’t think they would, but they did. Oh well. Too late now. The woman threw them out today. =\
These figures grew so big, their colors were fading from being stretched so much and their paint job was even cracking. Santa particularly took an awful beating looking like he had been chewed up, partially digested and then thrown up.
Awwwww… Isn’t a fully grown Rudolph the cutest thing you’ve ever seen? This shot makes having three glasses of water sitting on my kitchen counter for 2 weeks taking up space sooooooooo worth it. He looks kind of like a chihuahua. Notice the whites of his eyes and chest hair are barely holding it together.
Look at Bumble in the back, apparently, he’s being held up by a mugger stationed off-camera.
I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve seen a guy in a Santa suit passed out cold on the ground looking just like this while lying in a puddle of something or another. He looks gross and he felt gross. For some reason, he was completely slimy and the only figure to be so. Ewww….