I know I am biased toward the 80’s because that is the decade I grew up in, but when it comes to toys, especially action figures, the 80’s takes the cake hands down. For the most part the bulk of the action figures were well made and could withstand a hell of a beating, and they were just plain cool. Now everybody remembers some of the most popular action figures, and it is no surprise those are the ones based off the most popular cartoons, but for every G.I. Joe or Transformer there were ten Army Ants.
It isn’t that these toys weren’t great to play with, it was just that without the drive the toys based on popular cartoons had, they were destined to never survive more than two Christmases. Well, with out making you wait any longer I am going to begin reviewing They Toys That Time Forgot. Unfortunately, some of them should have stayed forgotten.
Air Raiders and the Tyrants of Wind: The Air Raiders were actually some pretty cool toys. For as much as I loved the bigger HeMan style figures, I always had a special place for the toys where the figures were small and the vehicle was the actual toy. Air Raiders toys were actually “Air Powered”, but in all honesty, most times you would lose the lame ass pump and just play with the vehicle, although being able to fire the missiles with the pump was really cool.
The Animal: When I was a kid, every year for Christmas my one grand ma would always get me a toy monster truck every year. The year I got The Animal however was one of the best. The thing that was so freakin cool about this was the secret that lived in the tires. While most monster truck toys were pretty much standard (power switch on the bottom, small motor, plastic body, batteries or battery pack) the thing that was cool about The Animal was that when it got in to rough terrain the tires would open up and these yellow plastic claws would come out. I know it sounds a little lame, but in the realm of monster truck toys, this thing was the boss.
The Armatron: When you think great toys, Radioshack is usually not one of the first stores that comes to mind, but the Radioshack Armatron was one of my favorite toys growing up. It was this robotic arm that had to orange levers at the back to control it. One moved it up and down, the other left and right, If you spun one it would rotate the hand, and spinning the other would open or close the claw. It was a great toy for “torturing” enemy action figures, or picking up Matchbox cars. It couldn’t really lift anything too heavy, but the gears made cool noises as it moved around. I mean when it comes right down to it, it was just an arm, but it was still fun.
Army G.E.A.R.: These were mini play sets that were contained in some piece of military equipment. I had the grenade, but I think there was a canteen that folded out into an aircraft carrier, that when assembled as the canteen you could actually drink out of. My neighbor had the canteen, I think there was a compass too, but neither one of us had that. Looking back now I like the toys because of how intricate they are, but at the time I don’t remember being big time into these.
Balzac: This toy was a cloth ball with a balloon inside it. Ooo what fun. This thing was lame. So you could put water or pennies in it to make it act “wacky”. Big deal. It was a damned ball. But then again I would say it contributed to one of my favorite adult activities…Playin with my ball sack.
Barnyard Commandos: I have no ideas why these bad boys never caught on. These or Food Fighters. Theses were made by Playmates, and if I remember correctly it was R.A.M.S. vs. P.O.R.K.S. They were animals that were altered by the military and fought one another using barnyard themed weapons.
Battle Beasts: These guys were bad ass. I still have a ton of these guys, but unfortunately lost some and that is one of the things that saddens me the most. Battle Beasts were a spin off of the Transformers. They were only about the size of a muscle man, maybe a little bit bigger, they had articulation points at the neck and arms. The beasts would “fight” using the elements. They had a little hologram stick on their chest much like the transformers, and when you would rub it it would show and element. As I mentioned before, I really dug little figures with big vehicles, and these guys were no exception. They had a whole series of vehicles that you could fit about 30 of these guys in at a time.
Boglins: These guys almost didn’t make the list and I am still debating if they should or not. Not because they aren’t cool, they were really great toys, but they are becoming more and more popular so I don’t think they count. Anyhow for any of you who don’t know a Boglin is a funky rubber hand puppet with mechanical eyes you could control with your fingers. I have a purple one and a green one, and they still look great. This is one toy that I think could easily be brought back by the manufacturer and sell realatively well.
Bone Age: This is always one of my favorite boxes to open when I am unpacking after a move because I still have a deep love for the Bone Age toys. If you don’t know what they were I don’t blame you, a lot of people probably didn’t get to see these because they were only around for one series and had no cartoon. They were basically sets of dinosaur bones that were really big toys, and then they had little 2 inch action figures with them. The thing that was so cool is that you could build the dinosaur bones. You could make the real dino that was on the box, or you could mix and match parts from other sets. Bone Age Rules.
BraveStarr: Bravestarr like many other toys in the eighties was based on a cartoon of the same name, how ever it was never as popular as the Thundercats, Silverhawks, G.i. Joe, Heman so it gets to be on the list. I really loved the Bravestarr toys as a kid. They were big action figures that were a cross between androids and the old west. The toys were really well sculpted and had a lot of accessories which are always important. On of the coolest things about it was that you could actually get a life size version of the gun Bravestarr carried, and if your friend had one you could actually play a version of laser tag. Honestly these toys were great, I just think that the bigger cartoons took it down. So long Bravestarr, the citizens of New Texas still miss you.
Bots Master: I never owned any of these as a kid and thank god. My neighbor had a couple though and always brought them over. I remember the god awful t.v. show and that sickens me enough. These were made by ToyBiz, and I am fairly certain there were the same set up as the X-Men figures ToyBiz would later produce. They were disgusting though. They were like the bastard children of the Bionic Six, Transformers and HeMan. They are poorly sculpted poorly articulated and poorly made. As a rule I love ToyBiz figures…but these just plain suck right out loud.
Bug Bots: These guys were lame. I mean I hate to do it, I hate to insult any action figure that came out in the 80’s because they almost all had charm, but these guys were garbage. They were like Transformers only no where near as cool. Let me put it this way, in the realm of transforming robot beings, these things were worse than Go Bots.
Bugmen of Insectia: I am mentioning this, that is all. You want more info on these god awful things you look it up. I am fairly certain there is a special level of hell reserved just for the creators of this series. Fuck you Bugmen of Insectia. Fuck you right in the face.
C.O.P.S.: I still collect these guys. Again another series based on a cartoon, but not really that popular. C.O.P.S. were made by Hasbro during the same time as G.I. Joe, and that is basically what they are, a 7 inch G.I. Joe. They were very well detailed and fully articulate and came with some really cool stuff. Another great feature was that their guns actually fired caps, which I loved. The good guys were great and sculpted like comic book superheroes, they bad guys were scrawny but crazy looking, and the vehicles were outstanding. I would recommend C.O.P.S. to any one.
Capsela: I was always a big fan of tech toys. I loved these and logo teknix, and pretty much anything mechanical. Capsela came in sets that when you purchased included all different things like gears, pulleys, cams, battery packs, etc. etc., and all these plastic capsules that would not only seal everything to make it water tight, but would also interlock to connect things together. You could build cars, tanks, planes, helicopters that really flew, boats, submarines anything you could imagine. They were hours of fun until you eventually lose all of the important eices and you just junk the rest.