Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Cool Toys I Never Got for Christmas

As kids, we know Christmas is all about the toys.  What did you get, what did your siblings get, what did your friends get? The anticipation to present opening was overwhelming to me. Fortunately, my family opened presents on Christmas Eve, so I didn't have to spend a sleepless night, although it made for an anxious day.  Occasionally, my mom would break down and let us open one present early.

But let's take a step back from the actual day (or eve).  Christmas really started for me around September when the Sears and J.C. Penney's catalogs arrived in the mail.

I immediately perused their contents, flipping quickly to the back where all the treasures awaited.  With pen in hand, I began circling what I wanted, never considering the price, size or age-appropriateness.  I'll admit, I aimed high, many times knowing I wouldn't get my circled desires.  There was always the largest slot car set, a train, or the latest electronic gadget.  But Christmas is about dreams, right?

I hit a sale this summer that didn't show much promise and to be honest, I almost didn't go in. But I know "you never know", so I committed to it.  I found a few things of passing interest before heading to the basement.  It was a cluttered, dark space, but there was enough down there to pique my interest.

At the end of the basement, I found a closet door. Opening it, I was stunned to see stacks of vintage games and toys.  Among those were some I recalled circling in a catalog long ago.  I built my pile and took it to the owner.  He charged me $2 a piece and I was delighted to pay.

I've paired up some of the toys from that sale along with their catalog entry that I had once circled.

Shoot Out in Space:

This game is no different than the western-themed shoot the can games that preceded it, but being 1979, Star Wars mania had possessed the country, so this game evolved to meet the demand.

Five blow-mold rockets sit atop a mechanical wind up base.

The gun shoots a beam of light, courtesy of a flashlight bulb and 2 "C" batteries.  When the photo sensor in front of the "Space Station" detects the light, it pops a pin that kicks the rocket out of its slot.

Unfortunately, the previous owner had left batteries in the gun and it corroded the contacts, but it still worked with a flashlight.

Next up is Mattel "Electronic Dungeons & Dragons".  I loved the idea of Dungeons and Dragons, but not having a large group of friends and only one that was really interested in D&D, I never got into a group.  I longed for something I could play by myself.  This met my needs. Unfortunately, the price tag didn't meet my parents' needs. It's just as well. Set up looks fairly complicated and probably would have exceeded my attention span.

Here's a video of someone with a lot more patience than I have demonstrating setup and play.

And finally, a game I don't recall, but would have interested me had I seen it.  "Shadowlord", by Parker Brothers.

The cover is different from my version, so I'm not sure which is earlier or why a change was made.

I haven't played this game, but it looks like another example of the cover being better than the game itself.

However, any one of these cards would have made for awesome Van Art.

Well, Christmas Eve is upon us.  As usual, it went fast.  I had high hopes for more posts, but alas here we are.  A Merry Christmas to all who celebrate.  I hope your stockings are full of dreams.


  1. I'm more intrigued by that "WKRP" board game than anything else. Have no recollection of it.

    1. I would love to find a "Big Guy" game in the wild some day.

  2. Awesome find. In the late 90s it was easy to find 70s and 80s toys in thrift stores, but they're long gone now. I guess the lucky garage sale find is the last non-collector hope.

    1. Yes, and even those are fewer and farther between these days.

  3. The D&D game is pretty fun. Love the Shadowlord art!

    1. I've never played it, but love the graphics on all of it. Merry Christmas, Dex!


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