My Christmas Memories: 1980

1980, the beginning of the most awesome decade in pop culture history. Ronald Reagan just began his first term as President. Disco’s popularity had pretty much come to an end and music was getting ready to revolutionize across multiple genres. On television, people were watching Dallas trying to figure out who shot J.R. (though I was personally more likely watching The Dukes of Hazzard or Diff’rent Strokes). And, more importantly, the most highly-anticipated sequel in movie history was released in theaters when the second installment of the Star Wars saga, The Empire Strikes Back, became a reality.

As you should already know, I can’t get enough ’80s nostalgia the whole year, but Christmas is an especially nostalgic time for me. Last year, I shared My Christmas Memories from 1982, so this year I share another personal photo snapshot that this time takes me back to My Christmas Memories from 1980

In this picture, you can see the present that I had just unwrapped… the Rebel Armored Snowspeeder by Kenner. Ever since I had seen The Empire Strikes Back in May of 1980, I had become even more infatuated with all things Star Wars. I saw the movie multiple times, read the books countless times and could not be more excited about the second chapter in the Star Wars story. That summer, I played even more with my Star Wars action figures including new additions like Luke Skywalker in his Bespin outfit and Han Solo in his Hoth outfit. When I returned to school that Fall, I came equipped with an Empire Strikes Back lunch box as well as an assortment of Empire Strikes Back folders and pencils. At the Scholastic Book Fair, I was able to purchase what I would now call a graphic novel version and went on to read that thing more times that I could count. When it came time to put together my Christmas list that year, there was one particular item that was going to be my top request from Santa. You probably guessed it… I wanted to add the Snowspeeder to my collection of Star Wars action figures and vehicles. For 1980, it was the one gift that I had really, really wanted to get that year.

Here is the television commercial that introduced the new toy and began my aspiration to call one mine…

Then we received that year’s Sears Wish Book catalog and I was absolutely sure I wanted the Snowspeeder for Christmas…

Christmas catalog

It was only on the screen for a relatively short time during the movie, but it made quite the impression on me. The Snowspeeder was the coolest spaceship not named the Millennium Falcon to be added to the Star Wars universe up to that point. The first feature that made the Snowspeeder particularly cool was that it was piloted by two individuals and the toy version also held two action figures seated back-to-back just like in the movie. One of the memorable weapons that the Snowspeeder deployed in the movie was a harpoon cable that was used to wrap around the AT-AT legs to take down the massive Imperial Walkers. The toy version also had a harpoon gun on the back side that would allow you to recreate that iconic scene or make up new uses. The toy Snowspeeder had a push button for the landing gear to pop down and another button which caused the front laser canons to light up and make a pulsating sound. It had so many awesome features (especially for that time) and Kenner did a great job of giving us a toy version of the spaceship we saw on the big screen. Oh man, I wanted it for Christmas so bad and it certainly did not disappoint.

Here is another snapshot from later that Christmas morning showing me already playing with my new Snowspeeder. That was probably the first of hundreds or maybe thousands of missions I would take it on. Even though I probably would have been happy that year if I didn’t receive anything else, you can sort of see a few other gifts in the foreground including another particular gift that brings back some additional fond memories…

In the left corner, you can see the back of the box to the Mighty Men & Monster Maker kit. I’m not sure if you remember this fun toy that allows you to create your own super hero or monster. It included various tiles for heads, torsos/arms and legs. You could mix and match one of each tile, place a sheet of paper over the tiles, rub over it with a crayon and you would have the outline for your creation. On the reverse side of some tiles you had different textures which allowed you to add scales, bumps, fur or other elements as you colored in your character. For a comic book and cartoon fan, the Mighty Men & Monster Maker provided hours and hours of enjoyment. As an interesting side note, the artist who drew the pieces for the set is Dave Stevens. Stevens had done some film storyboarding including Raiders of the the Lost Ark for Steven Spielberg as well as for Michael Jackson’s iconic “Thriller” music video. In 1982, (if you didn’t already know) Stevens debuted the comic character for which he is best known, The Rocketeer. I hadn’t thought about this toy in quite a while, but just seeing it in the picture reminded me of how much amusement it gave me back then.

I am proud to say that I still have my original Rebel Armored Snowspeeder (pictured below) and, though it has been well-played-with, it still works. As I hold this 40-plus-year-old toy in my hand right now, I can’t help but be flooded with memories of my Star Wars collection and that Christmas of 1980. It was definitely one of my favorite toys and Christmas presents I had ever received during my childhood.

Christmas Snowspeeder 1980
My original Snowspeeder I received for Christmas in 1980

I can’t thank them enough because my parents gave my brother and me a wonderful Christmas each and every year. This included much of what we put in our letters to Santa as well as so many warm memories and traditions. This picture reflects just one of so many cherished holiday moments. Receiving that one gift that you really, really wanted that year. Pure Christmas joyAll of that from this one snapshot from 1980. Looking back now, I was actually lucky every Christmas. But this was one year I was especially lucky. For a long time, I thought nothing could be better than being a kid opening presents on Christmas morning, but I have since learned that it is only exceeded by watching your own children open their presents on Christmas morning. All the best to you this Christmas season. Hope you are all creating awesome holiday memories like I am so grateful to have from the ’80s and every other decade of my life.

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Old School Tim has an adoring devotion to the awesome '80s decade. He loves to relive and share that nostalgia on a regular basis. The Kickin' it Old School blog site has been retired, but you can still get daily doses of '80s goodness on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and anywhere else they let him.

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