Fun ‘N Games

The “Game of Life” and “playing cards” were the beginning and the end of the list of the 2010 inductees into the National Toy Hall of Fame. Located in Rochester, New York, this hallowed ground of “all things fun” is also home to such endorphin-releasing gadgets as the ball (inducted in 2009), and the stick (yes, I said stick. And not a smooth rounded stick either; I’m talking about a branch), a 2008 inductee. In case you are wondering, the cardboard box is a member of the Hall’s 2006 class.  I don’t know about you guys, but I think I could spend a week there one night.

Anyway, it got me wondering about my own personal toy Hall of Fame.  I mean, what would be the top ten toys I had as a kid?

Now I can’t say that I really wanted for anything; but I like to complain, and my parents were the type who believed that if I said I liked something particular, then I would really love the thing that they found that wasn’t really quite like it at all.  As a kid, I had a football jersey that was some sort of hybrid of a Dallas Cowboys/Detroit Lions jersey.  The colors were decidedly more Lions, but it was #12, Roger Staubach’s number, and the Lions’ quarterback at the time, Gary Danielson wore number 16.  Despite its popularity on Thanksgiving Day, I often wondered where my mother found such a shirt.  Many years later I walked into a Ross Dress for Less and connected the dots. 

But I also had a Franco Harris #32 Pittsburgh Steeler jersey.  I loved that shirt, and I remember my dad feeling it one day and remarking that the material was “the real McCoy,” to which I responded that it was indeed McCoy.  And from that day on, I would yell, “Don’t rip the McCoy” to any would-be tacklers who tried to grab onto my shirt tail in the front yard.  I guess I should mention that my friends and I always played football in the front yard instead of the back in case a pro scout happened to drive by.

Without further ado, I present the first 10 inductees into my Personal Toy Hall of Fame:

10.  The Pitch-Back.  Also included with the Pitch-Back, are the Mr. Quarterback I got for Christmas and my bowling ball, or as I call them, the “I’m-so-sorry-you-don’t-have-any-friends-but-that-shouldn’t-stop-you-from-getting-out-and-playing” toys.

9. Perfection.  I don’t think I ever mastered the art of placing the different shaped pegs into their corresponding holes before time would run out and the pieces would be propelled into the air by the game’s “toaster-action.”  Hell, I don’t even think I could get that stupid little plastic drawer open in the allotted time, but I was the master at pulling all of the pieces out of their designated spots in the nick of time.  Ironic, that the game Perfection taught me to lower my standards thusly.

8.  Mallard Duck Twin Playing Card Set.  Remember Christmas stocking-stuffers that didn’t quite fit in the stocking.  Well this was one of them; at least I hope it was otherwise I would have to count it as an official Christmas gift.  But hey, what 10 year old boy wouldn’t want a fine playing card set in a handsome wooden box to keep next to their crystal carafe of scotch on the credenza in their bedroom?

7.  Intellivision.  Forget that I wanted Atari… with an actual joystick, and a fire button.  Well what I really wanted was a Defender machine and the Pac Man game that doubled as a lounge table.  At least Intellivision came with the Poker and Blackjack game to help me build a strong gambling foundation!

6.  Joe Namath Electric Football.  I think I got more use out of the autographed picture of Broadway Joe that came with the game than I did from the game itself.  Yes, I suffered delusions of Bobby Brady.  (EDITOR’S NOTE:  Wow, after re-reading the last two lines I feel the need to clarify.   I would merely pretend that I had met Joe Namath.  That was the extent to which I “used” the enclosed picture.  Personally, I can’t even believe your mind went there.)  Every guy out there my age knows how this one worked.  You spend 10 -15 minutes setting up your guys, your receivers on the outside with little metal plates on their stands so they can catch the little (practically microscopic) football shaped magnet, then when you turn the dial on the cord switch, the field would vibrate sending all the figures, offense and defense, shimmying into one of the corners of the field in some sort of Hail Mary clusterfuck.  Then you aim the giant Joe Namath figure in the direction of the players, pull back the catapult arm, and send the magnet-ball sailing way over their heads into your rec room’s coarse shag carpet never to be seen again. 

5.  Batman and Robin Talking Alarm Clock.  I know it’s not really a toy, but I loved hearing Robin call me his friend when he asked Batman if they should wake me up.  So what if Batman said that I was kind of boring and they should probably let me sleep.  At least that’s what happened when I remembered to wind it.

4.  General Electric Show ‘N Tell.  I don’t know how many of you remember this one, but it was actually really cool.  It was a video monitor (more of a light box really) with a turntable on top.  You would put a “slide-stick” into a slot on the side and hit start or something, and the slides would change on the screen as the story was told on the record above.  I had such classics as A Christmas Carol and Pinoccio.  I believe it is where Pink Floyd got the idea for the whole Wizard of Oz/Dark Side of the Moon thing.

3.  Evel Knievel Super Stunt Cycle with Gyro Launcher.  What can I say?  I loved this thing.  It was like the Jack-in-the-Box for kids brought up in the seventies.

2.  Lego Blocks.  Interlocking blocks ruled!  My creations were no longer in jeopardy of being demolished by my cool dog, Sparky or my dumb ol’ sister.  Lincoln logs were okay too, but there were no people, and I broke all of the thin green roof slats during my karate training.

1.  ?? Mystery Toy ??  I’m not even sure what this one was called, nor do I remember ever unwrapping it.  And I have no idea how it kept ending up in my room.  I always just called it the Tickle-Stick, and it sure felt funny.

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2 Responses to “Fun ‘N Games”

  1. Intellivision was a good one Rich.
    mine would also include:
    1. Hotwheels track: made a great racing game; as well as crude weapon when 2-3 were held together and swung violently at brother(s).
    2. Lawn Jarts: we actually had a set. When I lost I would throw as High as possible and watch everyone scatter.
    3. army soldiers and firecrackers.


  2. Wow, Greg’s list brought back some painful nightmares.