Saturday, December 14, 2013

Reader Top Ten Greatest Toys of Childhood: Roman Martel of Roman's Movie Reviews and Musings

Blogger extraordinaire and friend, Roman Martel, of Roman’s Movie Reviews and Musings, presents his list of top ten toys of his childhood below.

Roman writes:

“Time for another trip down memory lane, and this time with toys! Sounds like a great idea. For me there were pretty much three toy lines I was obsessed with as a kid. I was trying to figure out if I could put them in any order, but it is kinda funny, I went through phases where I focused on one of these more than others. Because of the differing sizes of these, often I didn't have much cross over between them.

When it came to fantasy worlds, it was really hard to beat the Masters of the Universe line of toys. I remember really being into these when they first came out, prior to the cartoon being aired in my neck of the woods. The box art still had that Frank Frazetta look. Not to say I didn't still enjoy it when the cartoon did come around, but I remember it being a bit sillier than the more hard core adventures I dreamed up. 

My favorite vehicle was the Battle Ram. This blue tank-like transport fired red battering rams. And the front detached to become an airborne attack fighter. I loved the odd detail of the horse head on the front and face on the battering ram, and it just looked other worldly. The great thing was, both heros and villains ended up using this sucker in my adventures. And it was fun to fire those battering rams at Castle Greyskull.

Speaking of the castle, my favorite play set was Castle Greyskull. This was just so darn cool, for so many reasons, most already covered by other folks already. I can't tell you how many times that trap door was used. The villains always fell for it.

My favorite figure was Triclops. The mini-comic he came with said he was a deadly hunter whose three different eyes made it impossible to hide from him. I loved this idea, and he quickly become the deadly assassin in my He-man adventures. I also loved the fact that his sword was longer than nearly all the others in the toy line and he held it in one hand! What a bad ass! 

Like most boys my age Transformers was HUGE. Robots in disguise, and how awesome were those disguise. And I loved the toys, the cartoon, the comics, you name it - I was into it. My best friend was a very good artist and he would spend hours drawing his favorite characters. We even caught Transformers: The Movie in theaters. That's how huge it was for us. That said, my favorite transformers came from the original line.

Megatron was too damn cool. He looked like a real gun... A GUN! He had all those attachments, and the telescopic sight became his arm cannon. Unfortunately his arms were flimsy as all hell. So most of my friends had Megatron's with broken arms. I actually didn't get him till much later, when the Transformer craze of the 80s was dying down. My cousin had a whole box of Transformers he gave to me, and Megatron was the prize at the bottom. And I made sure his arms stayed on. 

One of the first Transformers I got was Soundwave. His sleek cobalt blue color was awesome. His "batteries" became his weapons (including a rocket launcher). Best of all his "tapes" turned into a myriad of mini robots all ready to wreak havoc on the autobots. And that digitized cold voice he had in the cartoon was super cool. I remember all my friends trying our best to imitate it. Probably worried our parents there.

But the king of the Transformers was Optimus Prime. Not only was he a full blown semi-truck, but when he transformed, he looked so darn cool. And that trailer would open up into an attack base with spring loaded car. Or take that car out and you could hold a couple of the mini robots in there (like Cliffjumper or Cosmos). I remember how thrilled I was to get him for my birthday and how much I played with him. I ran into him during a move a few years ago and saw how chipped his paint was proof that he had a lot of adventures. 

And then there were the Legos. Specifically the Castle system of the 1980s. I loved these, with their knights, soldiers and bandits. I had the black knight's castle, and I remember coming up with stories for all the little guys it came with. Eventually I got the bandit's hideout and the black castle with the dragon standards. Great stuff. I turned the whole living room into a tiny kingdom of Legos. I even wrote a novella based on a huge battle I played out. My first piece of fan fiction.

But I've got to face facts here, I was a Star Wars fan the longest. Even when Transformers were all the rage (and I was a huge fan) I still loved my Star Wars figures. And even though "Jedi" was my favorite film, I had more toys from "Empire" than any other film. It is so hard to pick a top three, but here we go.

My favorite figure was my 12 inch Boba Fett. The detail in his armor and weapons caught my imagination. He had a rocket pack that fired. He had Wookie scalps! How bad ass is that? You could look through the back of his head and see in Fett vision (which just made everything look kind of blurry). While he was much bigger than the rest of the toys, I still played with him constantly, and his miniature version was always taking on the rebels and the Empire, depending on who he felt like fighting that day. 

My favorite vehicle was the Slave One. For some reason I'd always team up Fett and Bossk and they would fly around in that ship. I loved all the moving parts: the wings, the cannons, the command chair. But it also came with Han Solo in carbonite. That alone made it cool. Because when it came to the movies, Han Solo was my favorite. And anyone who could catch Solo had to be dangerous. So having that reminder of Solo in stasis was kind of like always facing that darkness in the movie. Odd, but I can tell you the freezing of Han really disturbed me as a kid.

My favorite play set was The Death Star hands down. Others have already explored why this was so cool. But I vividly remember getting this toy. My parents got a gift card to a local toy store, enough to purchase a bike (it would be my first bike ever). But they also had a toy section in the back. And back there, they had the mother load of Star Wars toys, all discounted (because GI-Joe and Transformers were the hot toys at that time). And there it was, the Death Star. I'd seen it in those little catalogues that came with Star Wars vehicles and play sets, and I always dreamed of having one. My parents tried hard to point me toward a bike, any bike. But nothing doing. They had the Death Star, unopened, and on sale. It would be mine, oh yes. And once I had it, I got back into Star Wars full bore. 

Honorable mention: the Millennium Falcon and Imperial Attack Base (which had exploding base, and an awesome rotating turret to mow down rebel soldiers.

So there you are, long winded as usual, but it was fun trip down memory lane.”

Roman: I loved reading your list, and totally dig all your choices.  I think I am a few years older than you, so although I always wanted Transformers and He-Man toys, I felt pressure to “grow up” and not buy them.  What a mistake!!!! 

Now Star Wars toys, on the other hand, I was all over!  I also love that Death Star playset (it made my top ten list), and I have one for Joel, which he loves.  That’s just a great toy, and has held up beautifully.

Great list!

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