Thursday, 15 February 2018

30 Old Toys in Old Photos

So I’ve been doing my family a favour and gradually scanning loads of old photographs that range from the 1940s all the way up to the current millennium. - It’s a comforting job but not very exciting – EXCEPT WHEN IT INVOLVES OLD TOYS! My mum had that fascination with taking pictures of their children that some parents develop so there’s way too many pictures of me, many taken without my knowledge, on Christmas Morning, birthday mornings and just playing in our front room or the garden (I wasn’t allowed to play with certain toys inside, my Nan had paralyzing visions of Retro-Mutagen Ooze and Ecto-Plazm forever leaving huge holes in her carpet, after I got the Slime out she used to fastidiously wash every Ghostbuster before it was allowed back in the house, I am not joking – I also have very clean Egons), as such I’ve turned the job into a toy nerd version of Where’s Wally and now I’m going to turn that into a blog post – look pleased.

QUICK TANGENT: most of these photos were developed in Triple Print (or earlier, Double Print), bloody Triple Print. Triple Print meant you got two extra small versions of the photo stuck onto the regular size photo:

That’s Shandy, our old dog, who was clearly expecting a telling off and not his picture being taken, which leads me to believe that he must have done something REALLY wrong and was just waiting for us to find out; I’m sure shortly after this photo was taken my nan found dogshit in a place that dogshit really shouldn’t be. The point is that my mum’s side of my family were up for anything if it meant they thought they were getting something for nothing regardless of whether or not they needed, wanted or liked that something: Triple Print is the perfect example of that, we had no need for three versions of photos and our boxes of old photos are filled with literal stacks of these two little prints, all this ‘deal’ amounted to for us was that mum had to sit and spend extra time cutting the little extra pictures off - WHAT WAS THE POINT!?! 
With that tangent over, are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin:

5th Birthday (1991)
This seems like a really nice picture of a woman and her grandson sharing a Magna-Doodle he had just received as a gift until you realise three things 1) our chairs don’t match our carpet because we was in the middle of a remodelling and that’s just irritating 2) Shandy’s todger is REALLY prominent and 3) Nan looks fucking exhausted, I probably had the poor woman up at 5am to open presents, speaking of which lets look at the debris all over the floor:

1. Ecto-Plazm! (The Real Ghostbusters, Kenner)
You’ll notice that Nan already has a sheet down, she was so fearful of Slime that she got a sheet out on her grandson’s birthday in case he opened the bloody things and got it on a carpet she was getting rid of. The red tubs had the best ghosts in them by the way, they had the Skullful Manifestations ghosts: three delightful skulls that could be used as finger puppets, the yellow tubs in comparison had the naff Come to Your Senses Ghosts, a mouth, a nose and some eyeballs that all looked like spare Mr Potato Head accessories, you could bleed the Slime through the nose to make it look like purple snot but that pales somewhat in comparison to finger puppet skulls.
2. Bizzy Buzzy Bumbles! (Waddingtons)
A game designed to frustrate you and make you look like a prat at the same time! And people ament the rise of video games? A bit similar to Doh Nutters, you wore headsets with a bee attached to them and had to use your head to pick up magnetic ‘pollen’ (which looked like Cadbury’s Astros, those they came much later, maybe someone at Cadbury’s looked at the Bizzy Buzzy Bumbles pollen, much as I did, and thought ‘I wish I could eat them’?) from a big plastic flower which in practice meant a bunch of people headbutting thin air so their bees would aggressively teabag multi-coloured Malteasers. The best bit about it were the little magnetic bees, I’d’ve been much happier just having them to play with, in fact I can’t say for certain that I didn’t, in the end, just yank them off their silly headsets and take them of adventures in the rockery. Also the advert can go fuck itself.

image from
3. Battlecat! (Masters of the Universe, Mattel)
Is there anything more visually appealing than a good condition Battlecat? You can stick your sunsets and Mona LIsas; I’ll take a lemon and lime tiger with no points of articulation please. This photo was taken in June 1991 (so it shouldn’t be surprising to you that this is a second-hand Battlecat and not the first one I owned either) but the experience of unwrapping a bright green tiger dressed for war never goes out of fashion.

4. Magna Doodle! (Tyco)
Etch-a-Sketch for the uncoordinated, Magna Doodle uses a pen and two mini air hockey bats rather than knobs and has an extremely satisfying wipe slider, however my first reaction to this was not ‘ah I had so much fun drawing on that’ but rather ‘wait, Magna Doodle used to be red!?!” - Yeah turns out it was originally red, the toy came out in ’74 (Etch-a-Sketch debuted in 1960 by the way) and it was Etch-a-Sketch red. This means two things 1) Tyco really weren’t trying and 2) I must have broken this one you see here and pretty fast too because the Magna-Doodle I always remember using was blue, meh - I preferred Magic Copier (also from Tyco) anyway, that allowed you to keep the pictures you drew and had a screen that was hot pink, it was like drawing in candy.

5 Supreme Headquaters Super Set! (Zero Hour, Bluebird)
Bluebird’s answer to Manta Force, this was the biggest set that came with a talking building, a working monorail and a working crane and we’re still finding pieces of it - seriously I found a piece of the monorail track the other day in the loft! Despite that I’d totally forgotten I ever owned this, but looking it up for this article I was flooded with memories! I can even remember how the cockpits glass of the space planes felt when you put your finger in them! I would once again like to remind you that I can’t remember any of my friends’ addresses or phone numbers but I sure can tell you that the road pieces from the big ticket Zero Hour set feel like cheap chocolate. I need to find a new version of this set, I need that sci-fi tower with the red bubble roof in my life again (This time I won’t spread it around the whole house so I’m still finding bits of it 26 years later though).

6 The Real Ghostbusters Pinball Game (Mehano)
According to the Ghostbusters wiki this was made by a Yugoslavian company, how the hell does a Yugoslavian company end up wanting and getting the licence to make Ghostbusters pinball games? Here in the UK Jotastar distributed it and MY GOD I had so much Jotastar RealGhostbusters shit and didn’t know it! The backpack, the travel bag, the masks, the stamp set, multiples of the slide puzzles, those bloody walkie-talkies with the really weird speakers that went in, why did someone buy me walkie-talkies? I was an only child with no friends! They may as well as have wrapped a kick in the balls. Anyway I genuinely played this game to death, it got used so much it fell apart, I used it so much the feet fell off - by the time we threw it away it looked like something you’d find in a survival horror game, this one scratched electronic thing dangling from another by wires.

The Turtle Van Christmas!
Going by the fact that the carpet and chairs still don’t match and the release dates of the Turtles toys I’m thinking this was Christmas 1990, what I really want to know though is what that pyjama top is about and if it really IS an After Burner pyjama set, it could just be a generic helicopter but wouldn’t it be great if there WAS After Burner pyjamas and I had them by complete accident two years before I discovered what Sega was? Anyway this Christmas was clearly a good one as I got some of the most enduring toys child-me would own.

7. Growler! (Werebears, Hornby)
True story: the Werebear called Howler doesn’t howl and the Werebear called Growler howls but doesn’t growl. Inappropriate name notwithstanding Growler was a fantastic addition to my favourite toyline, Growler let out fantastic sounding howls when you pressed his prefect badge  but he was also standing up and posed like all those stuffed bears you always see in films and television which just worked great with the Werebears’ ‘action feature’, as a cute bear he was just dancing, as a Werebear he was bearing down on you about to tear your gizzards out. That’s Growler’s box (I wish I could identify that weird plastic Raphael above it, by the TMNT drinking flask) featuring the rarely seen Baron Egon Baconburger covering his ears (prick: if he doesn’t like howling maybe he should have left that feature out of the stuffed bear HE MADE) – he looks a lot like Professor Burp (you can see the toy itself face down on the arm of the armchair in the background, looking like he’s been shot).

8. TMNT Water Funballs and TMNT Play Pack!
Spitballs are a type of toy that as far as I’m concerned is borderline perfect: they’re heads that squirt water that are sometimes sharks and sometimes Freddy Krueger. Kidworks, the company behind the TMNT Water Funballs (and yes Water Funballs DOES sound like slang for breasts, thank you for noticing) produced a bunch of water-themed TMNT toys including little orange water games that my mum bought in bulk and used to use as an all-purpose gift for anyone who wasn’t me, if I got invited to a kid’s party? Kidsworks TMNT Water Game; if her cousin’s kids had a birthday? Kidsworks TMNT Water Game; someone’s dog just died? Kidsworks TMNT Water Game. As for the Play Packs, I wonder how many of them I had over the years? Roughly 1,760 I’d imagine - I have a virgin colouring book from the pack on my bookshelves today if you’re interested. 

9 Super Steel Digger!
This is just one of those generic toys you get in the gift shops of places like farms and zoos but I just wanted to point it out because it lived in my garden for so many years, and it always had sand in it. years after I’d stopped having sand pits, years after I’d stopped going to the beach period let alone going to the beach with toys, that diggers till had sand in it, and it wasn’t like i didn’t wash it, or it didn’t get rained on, it just seemed to magically grow sand on itself.

10 Mr Game! (Waddingtons)
Mr Game is genius, he is effectively an action figure that’s also loads of those little travel games - AND he looked a bit like Buster Bloodvessel. I thought this was great as a child, I liked little pinball games and those games where you had to get the ball bearings into the little holes but I liked them even better if they came in the form of a large figure that could double as a plus-sized threat for the Ninja Turtles and He-Man. I’m sure I played Ludo on him once or so but Mr Game was usually found having Godzilla vs King Kong style showdowns with Mr Frosty atop Castle Grayskull.

11 Wacky Action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! (Playmates)
The two Turtles I’m holding up are from the first sub-line of TMNT toys, the wind-up Wacky Action figures! Specifically it’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Michaelangelo and Sewer Swimmin’ Donatello and this was probably the last time Donatello had both his feet. Was this a common problem with this figure? Did everyone’s Sewer Swimmin’ Donatello have feet that fell off or was it just mine? The very first TMNT toy I owned and in fact my introduction to TMNT as a whole was Breakfightin’ Raphael so I have a huge soft-spot for the Wacky Action figures, Wacky Action also had the only Mouser toy in the vintage line, one that was tall as the Turtles themselves, I’m still impressed by more modern Mouser toys that are actually in scale (funnily enough when they finally were able to make in-scale Mousers they introduced a Giant Mouser and made toys of that)

image from Egg Monsters blog
12. Egg Monsters! (Bandai)
Lying next to Metal Head is the T-Rex from Bandai’s Egg Monsters. Turning into eggs is just a thing that toys do in Japan and as far as I can tell it’s the fault of Bandai (many things are) who produced two lines called Chan Poran and Tamagoras, Chan Poran was more focussed on fantasy creatures like monsters and various Kaiju while Tamagoras was more focussed on more ‘real’ things like animals, dinosaurs, bugs and robots/vehicles. Mattel licenced the original 10 Tamagores and released them as part of Masters of the Universe as the much-mocked Meteorbs and Bandai themselves mixed a bunch of both lines together to make Egg Monsters. I can’t tell you for certain why I prefer Egg Monsters and Rock Lords to Transformers and Go-Bots but I will ask you to notice that both Egg Monsters and Rock Lords are far belter for throwing at people’s heads and then point out what a fan of Madballs I am.

13. Party Wagon! (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Playmates)
The vintage TMNT line had so many cool vehicles, even if you consider the Technodrome a playset that still leaves the Foot Cruiser, Shreddermobile, Turtlemobile, Bubble Bomber, Pizza Thrower, Shell Top 4X4, Ninja Grapplor, Sewer Dragster, Kookie Carnival Car, Sludgemobile, Mutant Module, Turtle Tank, Muta Carrier and both versions of the Cheapskate. And at the top of the pile the Turtles most iconic vehicles – the Party Wagon and the Turtle Blimp, I can never decide which I prefer, both are ridiculously impractical for ninjas, both are ridiculously awesome, both came with bombs and both were great fun to play with, I suppose the Party Wagon was never in danger of deflating.

In the Garden
I’ve got no idea what was going on here, I apparently decided that the best way to spend a summer’s day was to make as many toys as possible walk the plank and my mum then decided that this should be captured on film, still it does give us a nice line-up of late 80’s and early 90’s action figures. Going on nothing more than the toys in the picture this is probably Summer 1993, making me 6 or 7.

14. Mongor! (Thundercats, LJN)
Mongor only appeared in one episode of the Thundercats show (‘Mongor’) but it was an episode that I’d seen very young and it informed childhood play for the rest of my childhood: for about 6 years Mongor was the guy who the villains called in when shit got bent and thus shit need to get real: when a combined force of Captain Simian’s Space Monkeys, S.P.A.C.E. and the Masters of the Universe were knocking down the Technodrome door Shredder had no choice but to summon Mongor, he didn’t want to do it but it was that or lose everything. He was kind of like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man (who had long since turned good on my living room floor ala the Rael Ghostbusters episode Murray the Mantis). The other four figures in that box by the way are Mumm-Ra and Snowman (from Thundercats) and Al-Negator and Bruiser (form Bucky O’Hare).

15. B.P. Richfield! (Dinosaurs, Hasbro)
God Jim Henson’s Dinosaurs was popular once, I’m not remembering this wrong am I? ‘Not the Mama’ was genuinely the ‘Timmeh!’ of its day, wasn’t it? And the toys felt really fancy even though they really aren’t, they’re rubber toys with one point of articulation, having thought about this at length I’ve discovered the root of this ‘fancy-ness’: despite being really bulky they were sold on regular cards so they felt four times as impressive as a regular action figure. Anyway if there’s one toy I associate with Toys ‘r’ Us more than any other it’s B.P. Richfield, Earl’s boss. This poor ol’ Styracosaurus was the very definition of ’peg warmer’ and TRU seemed to have at least two of him on a shelf for around half a decade, gradually getting cheaper and cheaper. I had three Richfields at one point: all of whom were birthday party gifts from the parents of school ‘friends’ who clearly only got them because by that point they were roughly 21p each.

16. The S.P.A.C.E. Adventures of Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars! (Hasbro)
That is legit the full name of this figure line, you can tell these came out after the first kernels of Turtlemania began to pop can’t you? These toys came out in 1990 (that’s Bucky O’Hare himself walking the plank) and I’m still cross with Hasbro for how they bolloxed up this line and cost children the chance the play with the likes of Jenny and the Righteous Indignation. If you’ve missed me ranting about this somewhere else: Hasbro over-packed the Toad Air Marshall in cases of the first wave of their Bucky O’Hare figures, stores would sell out of Bucky, Deadeye and Willy but still have loads of Air Marshalls left, even though parents had already bought one to go with their Buckies, Deadeyes and Willies (everything sounds like penises, yay!) so even though the first wave sold great stores never re-ordered or ordered wave two because they still had shelves of Bucky O’Hare figures and assumed they weren’t selling, when really they were just all the same short frog in a fancy hat that everyone already owned. This meant that planned toys like the FIRST MATE and SHIP of Bucky O’Hare never got made, Boss Fight Studios have since rectified the lack of Jenny [] but they’re a small company and even if they do manage to get through all the main cast and planned Hasbro figures, including bigger figures like Toadborg and Komplex, I can’t see them being able to afford to produce a Righteous Indignation and me being able to afford one if they do – fuck you Hasbro.

17. Mantenna! (Masters of the Universe, Mattel)
Nothing much to say here except Mantenna is awesome, he’s a blue and red alien who’s eyes come out on storks, he is thus better 90% of other toys ever produced.

18. Werebunny! (Little Dracula, Dreamworks)
“Hey whatcha playing with there grandson?” “It’s a blue humanoid cyclops rabbit in a Hawaiian shirt that’s also a werewolf”. Me and my grandad had very little common ground and it only helped foster the antagonism between us as I grew up and I’m laying the blame of this entirely at the feet of Little Dracula and Toxic Crusaders, asking people of two generations previous to wrap their heads around things like Werebunny and Nozone was like asking them to not be casually racist. My dad on the other hand LOVED Little Dracula and always had a look of relief when I wanted to watch that and not bloody Care Bears again. What do I think about Little Dracula as an adult? I think it has a coffin car and a garlic-themed superhero in it and thus it is beyond question.

19. Vega the Champion! (Troll Warriors, Applause)
For about two years multiple companies tried really hard to market Norfin Trolls to boys, Norfin Trolls are supposed to be gender neutral but by the early 1990s I guess they’d become firmly ‘girls toys’ and these firms thought they might be able to cash in yet another Troll fad but turning them into hardcore action figures for macho boys who would have otherwise thought light-up eyes were cool if they weren’t attached to cute little fantasy creatures. This whole ‘gender’ thing for toys never bothered me, it bothered my grandfather no end but I was happy to play with anything I liked whether it was meant for girls or boys or dogs. Applause’ way of selling Trolls to boys was to make them full-on medieval warriors and by god did it work, this is a 12-figure line and there isn’t a dud amongst ‘em though Vega is for my money the most badass of the assortment and he used to be the ‘Raphael’ of the trolls to me, the angry, anti-social but skilled one, though this could be because he was red and green more than anything else.

20 Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Burger King)
I gushed on about these in a bootsale haul post last year but you know what? Fuck it, I’m going to do it again because being exclusive to the UK and being exclusive to Burger King these toys don’t get talked about nearly enough and, if pushed, I’d name them my favourite Sonic toys of all time. Each of the four were rip-chord style toys, you know the ones, the ones that have long plastic things that you have to painstakingly feed into the toy then pull out at full speed? This is fun and all and suits Sonic  well – one of the toys is Spin-Dashing Sonic and that is easily the most sensible combination of this action feature with anything ever – but why I like ‘em so much is that they gave us things that, at the time, were just not around in toy form – an Egg Prison, a Japanese-style Robotnik (mostly when we got toys of ol’ Egg Breath, Europe got ones based on his Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog look even though the games’ sprites of him went unchanged) and a Tails’ figure that could be used alongside other action figures (Sonic had an epic Fleix-Friend bendy toy and a candy container).  This all means nothing today when Jazzwares has made action figures every modern SegaSonic character in video-game accurate detail but it was very important then ok?

21. Thomas the Tank Engine Big BIG Train Set! (Merit)
For a while I occasionally tried to find information on ‘my Thomas the Tank Engine set’ and came up with very little – so I gave up. Turns out I’m not alone in that, in the Thomas the Tank Engine collector’s community (because of course that’s a thing and frankly you should be ashamed if you thought it wasn’t, Thomas the Tank Engine is a pop cultural icon) Merit - the company behind the Big BIG Train Set – remain a bit of a mystery, Thomas Tank Collectibles has a really good post on it from 2016 but summed up: Merit seem to be one of, if not the, first company to make Thomas toys and their moulds were seemingly later picked up by Ertl, a bigger British toy company and one that became well known for its Thomas merchandise. The toys were stocked in major stores like Argos and were widely available in the UK but otherwise Merit remain a bit of a mystery, huh. 

22. These Bloody Things!
I still have these trolls in two colourways and I still have no idea what the hell they are. They’re soft and built by bootlegging parts from Playmates Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie III line (mostly Samurai Raph) and came in at least four colours, they also all look stupidly happy, like they’ve just realised they exist and that they’re samurai trolls and they can’t believe their luck. Should someone come across this blog and have a carded or tagged version and know the name of the poxy things, please comment, thanks (slim chance of this maybe, but just in case). Also Care Bears, proving that my love of the little fluffers has been around as long as I say it has.

23. Monster! (Sungold)
As someone who grew up playing with them I’m genuinely glad that Sungold’s Monster line is now being accepted by the internet as officially awesome (whether ironically or unironically) but I’ve noticed that I seem to be in the minority with that ‘growing up playing with them’ thing. It seems everyone found out about these as adults, I clearly had mine at 6 - I dunno if I should feel smug or very alone. I got all my Monster figures – a full set of the action figures and most of the mini-figures – from… a carnival game in a holiday camp. Yep, what? That’s not odd. Haven Holiday’s Devon Cliff’s holiday camp at Sandy Bay used to have a full funfair (so good) complete with a Loch Ness Monster themed kiddie coaster and a bunch standard funfair carnival games – frog bog, hook the duck and this one where you tore tickets and got numbers that matched up to prizes, that’s the one I got all the Monster toys from where they were pretty much the booby prizes, imagine that – you got Monster toys for loosing at something! At 50p a play that means my set of Monster figures and mini-figures cost me a maximum £6 – that I do feel smug about.

Pink Carpet Christmas!
I can’t decide if this is Christmas 1992 or Christmas 1993 – the appearance of 1992 toys like Mighty Max, Monster in My Pocket Dinosaurs and Aladdin point to it being 1992 but then there’s that tricky Auto Mutations Ninja Turtle - everywhere dates those as being released in 1993, so if they’re right then this is Christmas ’93. Either way we now have our delightful smoothie coloured carpet, every time you’d walk into our front room you’d taste strawberry milkshake.

Note that I’m ignoring the blue crate because anything I can I.D. I can only do so in a general sense (‘Crayola pens’ ‘TMNT colouring in posters’ etc).

24. Sonic the Hedgehog Plush! (Tomy)
There’s a fair few Sonic soft toys from the early days of the franchise – Sega made around one a year for their UFO catchers plus a Christmas version or two and these were accompanies by Eggman, Tails and the Small Animals (Flicky et all); Tomy made this one, then a Tails and then finally a Knuckles; Tectoy released one; Dakin released one; Caltoy released a Sonic & Tails and there was a Sonic, Sally & AoStH Robotnik from SegaWorld Australia and those are just from before 1995 and just the ones I can remember off the top of my head. I am very attached to this Sonic soft toy, I mean this exact Sonic soft toy, the one in the photo. I mean yes for me the Tomy plushies are THE definitive Sonic soft toys of the Genesis/Mega Drive era (it seems that Tomy’s cuddlies were the most commonly owned in the UK while for the Americans it was the Caltoy output) but if you try to do harm to this exact Sonic plush I will fucking end you. I love him, go away.

25. Monster in My Pocket Dinosaurs (Matchbox)
The whimper that ended the original Monster in My Pocket toyline, when you end up saying ‘let’s just do dinosaurs’ you’ve officially run out of ideas, they’re the amnesia plot for toylines. That said I sometimes feel I’m a little harsh on MIMP series 6: dinosaur toys are officially cool, if you’ve seen even one of my Bootsale Haul posts you’ll know I’m something of a fan of the ‘genre’ and MIMP boasted enough cool Dinosaurs (Ankylosaurus, Pteranodon, Cave Man, Triceratops, Ceratosaurus, Sabre-Toothed Tiger) to justify its existence; Dinosaurs are incredibly reliable for both toy companies and toy stores, if you’re a toy store and you can’t sell dinosaurs the apocalypse has happened; they’re evergreen items – apparently stores in America will often view monster toys as only being viable around Halloween but you can sell dinos all year ‘round and while I’m sure palaeontologists would get pretty uppity at the suggestion they can certainly qualify as ‘monsters’, hell they’re closer to monsters than Ganesh or Hanuman are and they were in the Monsters-themed series. But I dunno, it just seems like my favourite mini-figures’ ultimate fate was to become uncreative and I resent this series for that. Incidentally that’s the 12-pack box set lying on my floor, the artwork is bloody nice.

26. Trapped in Skull Mountain! (Mighty Max, Bluebird)
If you’ve somehow never learnt, or worse forgotten, that Mighty Max toys were THE SHIT then I’d like to point out that this huge evil volcanic rock fortress of doom is the least ostentatious of the large playsets this toyline had, which included an island that was also a dragon face and a fortress that was also a skull with a high collar. What Trapped in Skull Mountain (every Mighty Max playset was actually named after a scenario, so it was things like ‘Slays the Doom Dragon’ rather than just ‘Doom Dragon’) was a mix of Snake Mountain and Castle Grayskull for thumbnail-sized monsters and again this was the least ostentatious of the large sets.

27. Night Ninja Donatello (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Auto Mutations, Playmates)
This is also the toy I’m playing with. Tangent: I wonder why transforming toys appeal to kid so much? It is the interaction factor? The feeling of accomplishment no matter how small? The thrill of making something into something else? I mean Transformers has been almost consistently successful since it was brought to the west, Playmates introduce ‘mutating’ figures every time they have a turtles line out (with the exception of Next Mutation but that didn’t last long enough) and they’re always successful, according to a Playmates bloke PixelDan interviewed the Mutations toys were the most successful of this recent Nicktoon-based toys. Other companies have made toys that turn into boring shit like eggs and they can still be selling them decades later.     
Anyway, Auto-Mutations, the name is really confusing: they’re ‘auto’ because they’re automatic, you squeeze the legs and their mask flips out from their backs (you still have to manually transform the legs though so they’re really Semi-Auto Mutations) but there’s also a line of transforming Turtles that become vehicles, or automobiles, that came out the same year – they’re called Road Ready Mutations which I respect is a much better name for them than Auto Mutations. Would you not have called the Auto Mutations something else (like say ‘Night Ninja Mutations’ as all the character are called Night Ninja X) and avoided the confusion that I’ve always thought was blindingly obvious and absolutely likely to happen? Yes this has bothered me since 1993(ish)

28. Cave of Wonders! (Aladdin, Mattel)
I remember unwrapping the Mattel Aladdin sets really clearly, I have total recollection: from Beauty & The Beast through to Hercules I would become obsessed with each Disney animated feature that came out, which is a bit embarrassing when you figure out that by Hercules I was 11. I never became obsessed with any of them as badly as I did with Toy Story but Aladdin was got pretty close, I was too young to care about racism and anachronistic Groucho Marx impressions then. This Christmas I received two sets of figures and the Cave of Wonders playset and WHY THE HELL DID I SELL THE CAVE OF WONDERS!?! It was easily the coolest toy in the line and an utterly sweet little playset in its own right! It had a huge tiger face on the front of it and the falling rocks looked and felt like cheap chicken nuggets! I was a fool! (I still have my original Princess Jasmine though, but that’s barely noteworthy, I have many a Princess Jasmine in my house)

29. Nordor! (He-Man, Mattel)
On the other hand: I owned Nordor!?! I have zero memory of ever having this playset and yet it appears in a bunch of photos I found, so I must have played with it fairly regularly and yet I got nothing. People shit on the New Adventures of He-Man and the toyline it was based on (called simply ‘He-Man’) but watching ‘NA’ and the original Filmation He-Man & the Masters of the Universe cartoon side-by-side as an adult? They boy have crap parts in pretty much equal measure – if I’m found dead tomorrow with a copy of The House of Shokoti DVD embedded in my chest and ‘Lou Schiemer is God’ written above my head in blood I won’t be surprised at all.  NA dos have some sucky bits but I think a lot of it boils down to not being the He-Man they grew up with and being a radical departure; fans don’t like change and shooting He-Man into space was one hell of a change. I never had this problem (god I’m wonderful), even though I came to He-man via the original toys and VHS tapes of the old show (which we got from bootsales) New Adventures was the current He-Man, the He-Man was on TV and in toy stores and I was never particularly bothered by the contract between them, I just accepted that the old barbarian MOTU was what He-Man was doing ‘then’ and this space stuff was what He-Man was doing ‘now’. Nordor by the way is a pretty sweet playset, it was essentially an asteroid that opened up into a doomsday cannon, was it as cool as Castel Grayskull or The Fight Zone? Of course not but it was still sweet in it’s won right.

30 Lego Technic! (Lego)
*Sigh* this I remember. My grandad (I grew up in a house with my mum and her parents) had this insistence on me playing with toys he thought I should play with and seemed to flat-out resent the fact that I didn’t want to play with any of these things: these were often sports toys or cars. So Mum and Nan would buy me a few ‘grandad pleasing’ gifts every birthday and Christmas (It was a lot easier for birthdays because my birthday is in June, when all the outdoor toys are everywhere, much to my chagrin), I would ignore them from the minute they were unwrapped and play with the things I liked: sci-fi, fantasy, mutants and girls toys and grandad would see this, get huffy and moan about everything I liked simply because they weren’t the things he wanted me to like solely because he thought I should like them. I can just about understand his issue with girls’ toys because he was a horribly ignorant bigot and even today many people who aren’t horribly ignorant bigots think that little boys playing with dolls et all will undoubtedly end with them becoming flamingly homosexual, it’s bullshit but it’s a commonly held belief, what badness did he think would result from me playing with the Toxic Avenger? Was he worried I might turn end up running down random teenagers for fun or something? Of course not because he’d never have watched The Toxic Avenger in a month of Sundays, maybe he was just irrationally afraid of mops. This Lego Technic set was a Grandad Pleasing Gift and it was never built, the only Technic I ever liked was the band that played at Legoland Windsor (nowadays I regret this, Technic has had some awesomsets).

I’m almost done but before I go away and leave you all in peace I want to post this picture:

Because I don’t think there’s a picture of this table and chairs set on the entire internet. Dinosaur Dracula posted the WWF set that uses the same table but this was a TMNT version and despite its look I’m pretty sure it was an officially licensed product. I used this for years and even after I got too big for the chairs (which are clearly an old model re-fitted to be Ninja Turtles) the table was in use for a lot longer in the garden and shed so I’m somewhat attached to it and yet, nothing, the internet refuses to believe it exists.

Now i'm done, thanks for reading this indulgent crap, hopefully it was of some use somehow.   


  1. If you people are wondering About the 20 Sonic The Hedgehog 2 (Burger King) It's suppose to be a 1993 Sonic Burger King but you are correct :)

  2. Just discovered Sungold Monsters a bit too late. Sharphand Joe looks the business! :D

  3. May I blow your mind? I did some research on those samurai trolls and they appear to have been made in 1992. Samurai Raph came out in 1993. What's happened there? I want to know so badly.