Pretty nifty title, eh? Sure, I had my fair share of action figures as a kid: He-Man, G.I. Joe, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, M.U.S.C.L.E., M.A.S.K., Transformers, WWF, X-Men, Super Powers, Batman… But what about the vehicles and playsets? Well, truth be told, I wasn’t a big fan of either. Oh sure, I WANTED IT ALL (Skeletor’s Snake Mountain, G.I. Joe’s Command Center Headquarters, and pretty much EVERY G.I. Joe vehicle and playset, etc.). What kid didn’t? But it wasn’t feasible. Why beg and plea for my parents to shell out $30 or $40+ on a helicopter, boat, tank, fortress, etc. when I’d have a much better chance of scoring 3 or 4 action figures for less? Given the option of one vehicle or a couple of action figures, I’d take the action figures. The simple reason was more. More toys. More possibilities, more armies, more heroes, more villains, more destruction. Even at Christmas or my birthday, I didn’t worry about vehicles and such, they took too much of a cut. Just gimme those action figures and I’ll make do! I made my own playsets out the environment. Besides, most of my figures had forgone the ideas of saving the world or conquering it all so they could compete for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship in my WWF wrestling ring! Who can forget the killer heel run I sent Dick Tracy on in the summer of 1990? I know I sure can’t.
So in keeping with the nostalgia, here’s what I used to own and still wish I did (hence the title). Doing research on these toys actually even reminded me of a few more I used to own so I threw those on the list as well. This is probably not a complete list, but it’s all I can remember from those innocent years, even so I can’t imagine there’d be *too* many other accessories I’m leaving out due to action figures being Priority 1.
Of course, I don’t own these anymore. Yes, I have lost weapons, armor, whatever in my time. Yes, damage and lost action figures have factored into my childhood as well. But would I ever be able to lose a Batmobile or wrestling ring? No. You see, my action figures had a special box they went in, while vehicles and the like go thrown into my toychest along with virtually any other thing I owned. Well, this toy chest was moved down to a shed on my great grandmother’s property in the country, and was unceremoniously chucked (chest and all!) in order to make room for whatever. Keep in mind I was given no heads up about this and was only told because I inquired about going through my toy chest to look for a toy. This reminds me of the time my parents decided to wipe clean MY computer just because one program wasn’t working for them when it didn’t even have anything to do with the computer and it was a problem with the disc and it still makes me mad to this very day to talk about it. All those mp3s and nudie pictures gone….
Triple ‘T’: Tag Team Terminator (G.I. Joe, Hasbro, 1986)
Oh, man, I LOVED this vehicle! Out of all the vehicles on this list, this would be my favorite. Not only did you get this sweet little tank, but you got wrestling legend, Sgt. Slaughter with it! Slaughter was one of my favorite Joes, he really knew how to kick butt and whip the Joes into shape! They gave him some great one-liners as well.
You may be asking yourself: “Why is it called the ‘Tag Team Terminator'”? And I was too, until I remembered that on each side of the TTT there is a peg. And what do pegs do? Go into G.I. Joe feet. So picture this, it it early morning. The sun is rising, the dew is still on the ground and a B.A.T. is doing it’s normal perimeter patrol of Cobra Headquarters, after a long night of partying at Jiffy Lube, when all of a sudden over the hill comes the Sgt. Slaughter riding shotgun in the Tag Team Terminator with Gung-Ho on the left and Roadblock on the right, while the Triple T is firing at anything and everything that moves! Of course, it’d be firing lasers, not bullets. And… probably no one would actually get hit, but that’s besides the point.
Sgt. Slaughter in the G.I. Joe universe is ALWAYS cool. The fact that he has his own personal mini-tank makes him even cooler.
Buzz Boar (G.I. Joe, Hasbro, 1987)
The Buzz Boar is one of many Joe cast-off vehicles. Not really a big deal, just a small, driver-less vehicle thrown out there to satiate the poorer folks who couldn’t afford $30+ on really cool and huge tanks, helicopters and command centers. But that’s okay by me as this figure was probably in the $10 (or two figures) range. I can’t remember where I got it from, but I do remember getting home being extremely excited having it and having my dad help me put it together in the den. It’s kind of a weird vehicle though that looks more like a garden tool or an antiquated surgical instrument. First off, you can’t see jack. All you have is the venetian door to look out of and that’s only on your right. You can’t see to your left well enough to know if Sgt. Slaughter and his Triple ‘T’ is going to ram you, let alone see what you’re about to run into yourself. Also, how does it turn? You better darn well know what you’re going for and that it’s going to stay put or you’re screwed. Just look at the Viper on the cover of the box, he’s scared for his life! He won’t even close the door all the way for fear of running around blind and getting himself killed. Tsk tsk… With weapons like these, no wonder Cobra never won.
Batmobile (Batman, Toy Biz, 1989)
Ah, the Batmobile. In my opinion, this 1989 movie version of the Batmobile is iconic, unlike all the other neon & tank Batmobiles that showed up in later movies. I like my Batmobiles the way I like my women: sleek, stylish, and black. Sure, there wasn’t any trunk space, but it was a two-seater, had nifty bat symbols for hubcaps and came equipped with rocket launchers. Of course, as is the case with accessories, the missles themselves became lost. But who cared ? It was the Batmobile! Batman could take Catwoman out for a night on the town finally to finally make that pussy purr.
The Joker Van (Batman, Toy Biz, 1989)
Another classic from the movie toy line. I don’t remember the movie ever having a bright purple van with a Joker logo plastered on the side, but alright… At least it has green tires! And a pop-up machine gun on the roof! This van did indeed have lots of room in the back, as I would stuff a whole gang of figures back there to “surprise” the enemy.
Conquest X-30 (G.I. Joe, Hasbro, 1986)
Truth be told, as cool as this plane was, there were A LOT more cooler planes from the G.I. Joe line than this, like the Cobra Rattlor. But I digress, as the X-30 was still a pretty cool ride by it’s own right. Of course, the missiles, various decals, landing wheels, and access panels, and canopy were easily destroyed/lost by me. There’s nothing sadder than a Conquest X-30 with peeling and torn decals on the side.
Batwing (Batman, Toy Biz, 1989)
This was a pretty cool toy. You can’t tell by the picture, but there was a handle with a trigger on it and that is how you were able to use the “Villain Cruncher” figure. Right at the end of the Batwing you had two little hooks come out of the ears to grab stuff with. I love the fact that they called that feature “Villain Cruncher”, which brings blunt violence to mind. It’s really more like a “Villain Grabber” though. The cover of the box is hilarious as Batman has gone into full overkill mode. He’s got the Joker pinned between two giant steel hooks while firing MISSILES at him at point blank range and doing what appears to be a suicide dive straight into the ground. Bats, didn’t you know? Jason Todd is alive again!
Castle Grayskull (Masters of the Universe, Mattel, 1982)
I may not have owned a lot of He-Man figures, but darnit if I didn’t own Castle Grayskull! Granted, it’s pretty small compared to what’s portrayed in the cartoon, but you take what you can get. It came with all sorts of types of weapons, a ladder (to make it easier for Skeletor to get in), a recliner, and laser cannon. You could even keep a figure or two inside the Castle and carry it around. I think eventually my Grayskull broke in half. Oh well. In my recent quest for He-Man figures, I should add this to the list as well…
Wolverine Combat Cave (X-Men, Toy Biz, 1991 & 1994)
Okay, I admit it, this playset was kinda sucky. But X-Men figures were the greatest thing ever to me at the time, so for nostalgic reasons, the Combat Cave makes an appearance. Here you can “sharpen Wolverine’s combat skills!” If you’re easily entertained that is. I mean, c’mon! A mini-Danger Room? Lame. Instead of releasing two scaled down versions of the Danger Room (another playset was Cyclops’ Light Force Arena), Toy Biz should’ve just splurged and released a full Danger Room, cuz this ain’t cuttin’ it (no pun intended). So you stick Wolverine on the pegs, have him gut the Magneto poster, slash a bit on the chain link fence, and finish it off with a duel with a big ball of blunt and sharp objects. Wow, how fun. The thing is, the ball won everytime thanks to it’s size, solidity, and weight. Wolvie can’t stand on those two little pegs for long!
WCW Slam-Action Wrestling Arena (WCW, Galoob, 1991)
Awright! You know, Galoob’s WCW line of figures is one the greatest wrestling figure lines of all time! Sure, there were no joints to move, but the looked great and were posed well enough to mimic the wrestlers’ poses and you still were able to put on a good show in the ring with them.
The ring though? Um… It had some cool features, but the WWF wrestling ring puts it to shame. But let’s take a look at what they did right… Ring bell (w/ bell ringer)? Great idea, ding ding. Steel cage? Great idea, and it could easily be diassembled if you didn’t particularly feel like having a grudge match. Platform to have wrestler “jump” from top-rope? Well, it sounds like a cool idea, but ultimately, I felt it was too big and got in the way of the ring and having wrestling matches. The major gripe about this was the ring ropes, as you can see from the picture, they are loose. It’s like someone stretched ’em out before you ever even assembled it. My other gripe, and it’s kind of a weird one, is the ring itself. It was too hard. Any play on that surface sounded like the Nazi party goose-stepping in unison. I don’t know why it bothered me, it just did.
WWF Official Wrestling Ring (WWF, Hasbro, 1990)
Sweet! My favorite item on this list as I got MANY, MANY years out of it. It’s actually the only item I still own on this list. So I lied. When I titled this. Of course, the belt is missing, and some stickers have peeled off, but at least the center ring WWF logo is still intact (although it certainly shows wear from so many classic battles being waged on it). I love this ring. The ropes are tight, and in fact one of the selling features from the old commercials was that you could have your wrestlers spring across the ropes (by sticking their feet behind the apron and pulling back on them, like a slingshot effect). And yes, the mat is a softer than the WCW ring, completely plastic, but just not so hard. Each and every action figure I owned stepped through those ropes at one point or another. I had storylines, stables, tag teams, champions, all kept track in my head. It’s funny though, because I didn’t use the wrestlers as much as I used just about every other toy I owned. Probably because most of the WWF/WCW toys (though fine on their own) were just too clunky and awkward to work with the others. The biggest, most epic, years-spanning storyline I had? Justice League vs. Injustice League. It pre-dated WCW vs. nWo by six years!
Condor w/ Brad Turner (M.A.S.K., Kenner, 1985)
M.A.S.K. is a show I liked and I remember one episode in particular (it was on tape and I watched it all the time), but I never was a huge fan of it. The show was only on for a couple years in the 80s. It was like a mix of Transformers and G.I. Joe, but the problem was we already had Transformers and G.I. Joe so what did we need a knock-off for? The idea was there was a couple of guys who drove a lot of vehicles that could change into other vehicles. This brings us to the Condor copter/bike, which came along with it’s rider/pilot Brad Turner. The visual of the toy I remembered, the names I did not. Thanks, Wikipedia! This was one of my favorite toys of the era, and the Brad Turner figure itself wasn’t bad either. But I just loved the way this hybrid looked. I’d buy this today if I could find it.
L.A.W. (G.I. Joe, Hasbro, 1986)
Another low-budget Joe accessory, this time a mini-playset. Not much to it, just a one-man battle station.
Mudfighter (G.I. Joe, Hasbro, 1990)
Now THIS is a cool little plane, complete with the G.I. Joe, Dogfight. Not sure whatever happened to him, but I definitely remember owning this plane and loving it. Naturally, the canopy was broken off while under my command.