I’m sure we can all wax poetic about all the cool toys we had when we were kids and all the hours of fun they brought us. But on the other side of that coin are all the things we wished and hoped for, but never had for whatever reason. Well, here I’m discussing those things. The things we would salivate over, plot and scheme to try to get, yet always came up short. I hope some of you out there reading this had these things so you can fill me in on all the fun I missed out on by not having them. So, if you DID have any of this stuff, please drop some memories in the comments, because I want to hear that they were as awesome as I always imagined they would be.
G.I. Joe U.S.S Flagg Aircraft Carrier
The USS Flagg was, and still is my Holy Grail. Never was there another toy that came before GI Joe in my eyes. It was the granddaddy of ’em all. I had most of the figures, the vehicles, the playsets, the action packs, and nearly anything else tied to the GI Joe toy line. But the one thing that always eluded me was this aircraft carrier.
When fully assembled, this toy was a whopping six feet in length! That goes beyond the realm of a toy, and into the realm of something more like a coffee table. It was released in 1986 with a hefty retail price of $89.95, so it was definitely not to be found in my house. My dad would have had an easier time giving birth to one than actually paying that much for a toy.
But for years I would sit and think about all the cool battles that could have been had featuring the Flagg at the center of the action. It was so big, you could have incorporated many planes and helicopters on its deck. You could have loaded it with fifty or more figures without cramping things too much. Even while typing this, my mind is drifting away to endless assaults on Cobra Island with this thing as the centerpiece.
As an adult in the early 2000’s, I tried again to acquire one. Searching on eBay, I found dozens of them, but none complete. The incomplete ones there were going for several hundred dollars. I actually did see one in a comic book shop one time, still sealed in its original box, but with a price tag of $1500. If I could have ever decided which child to sell, I may have ended up with it.
But who knows, maybe one day I’ll run across a good deal on a complete one and be able to purchase it. Then my friends, the battle for superiority of the bedroom will resume once more.
Hit Stix Electronic Drumsticks
Now while I don’t remember very much about this toy, I DO remember being super pumped when I saw the commercials. The producers did a very good job at making these things sound incredible. Supposedly, you could walk around playing “air drums” but actually produce drum sounds. Pretty cool concept.
They were a combo of fluorescent orange and yellow, a pretty extreme and eye-catching color combination back in the early ’90s. Each stick had a thin cord running from it to a sound box that you wore on a belt. All you had to do was make a striking motion in the air like you would while playing actual drums, and the sticks registered this “hit” and sent a signal to the sound box that emitted a sound as if you had just rapped a snare drum.
I wanted these things so much. I would lay around and daydream about being the coolest kid in school if I had those things. Walking through the halls, playing a radical solo, with lots of girls following me and talking about how cool I was. I even joined the school band and chose to play percussion, just on the hope that the band director would let me play Hit Stix instead of an actual snare drum. Sigh. It just wasn’t meant to be I guess.
Lazer Tag from Worlds of Wonder
Lazer Tag was a pretty cool concept back in the day. It allowed you and your friends to actually hunt and stalk each other in a safe manner. You would each have a “lazer” gun and a vest or helmet that had a sensor on it to detect when you were shot by your opponent. At the time this came out, it was probably the most technologically advanced toy available. I mean, what kid wasn’t enamored with the thought of shooting people with actual honest to God lasers? I know I was.
It was such a popular concept, that it spawned a short-lived cartoon, and even a pro wrestler named Lazer Tron!
I was a huge wrestling fan, and when Lazer Tron came on the scene, he captured my imagination immediately. He had a cool look, and a cool move set, so I was instantly a fan. Being a fan of the wrestling character only intensified my desire to own the Lazer Tag toys too.
Now when this came out, my cousin and I were neighbors. We both wanted these things so we could play all day, and really amp up our games of hide and seek. The problem with this toy was the fact that it was so darn expensive. For one blaster and vest with the sensor was something in the $50 range when it came out. That’s expensive today for a toy, so you can imagine how it was received by my parents in the late ’80s. It was a no go. Sadly, no one I knew ever owned this either, so I’ve never actually laid eyes on a real model or even heard stories about how well they worked.
Rock Tumbler and Chemistry Set
When I was growing up, one of the most anticipated times of the year was the release of the Sears Christmas Wish Book. It usually came out in October, and from the first day of the month on, I would get off the bus and check the mail to see if it had arrived. Once it did, kids would spend hours, days, and weeks going through each page very carefully and use it as a guide to making our own personal wish list.
Of course, the book was filled with all the latest action figures, dolls, remote-controlled vehicles and the like, but it also had a page or two of more educational toys. And in these pages were a Rock Tumbler and a Chemistry Set. Each and every year, those two items would go onto my wish list, and every year I would be disappointed when they weren’t under the tree.
The rock tumbler was just a simple little machine that would work its magic and convert small stones in beautiful, rounded and polished treasure. Now, in all honesty, my desire for this went beyond educational. I had pictured myself churning out these beautiful little stones and then selling them for a mint, and being rich before the age of 12. I see now that that dream was silly, but I still hold a grudge with my folks for never getting me the rock tumbler.
As for the chemistry set, I was totally sucked in by the idea of performing all kinds of experiments to see what would happen. As was the case with the rock tumbler, this never made it under the tree. I asked my parents years later why, and they said they were afraid I would mix the wrong chemicals together and cause a small explosion or something. THAT’S EXACTLY WHY I WANTED THE DAMN THING!!! So in hindsight, it was probably a good idea that my folks never caved to my desires for the chemistry set.
So, did YOU have any of these awesome toys when you were growing up? If you did, I can’t plead heavily enough for you to share stories of all the fun you had with them in the comments. I’m married and have kids now, so tales like those are what keep me going.