Monday, May 02, 2016

Ask JKM a Question: Biggest Toy Disappointment of Childhood?

A regular reader named Frank asks:

"John, I am a longtime toy collector just like you are, and I just have to know the answer to this question. What was your greatest toy disappointment as a child?

I will tell you mine. 

It was the Flash Gordon Rocket Ship from Mattel that you have covered on your blog before. It sprung a leak on Christmas Day and no matter what I could never get it to inflate again, even with the patches provided!"

Frank, are you trying to bring up bad memories?

Just kidding, that's a fun question. 

I'm sorry to read about your experience with that inflatable rocket. One key disappointment of that particular toy is that with just a little deflation, the wing tips and nose (with orange laser attachment) start to droop.   

As you know, I love the toys of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, even though some are disappointing in terms of design and durability. 

For example, it still bugs me that Mattel's Space:1999 action figures don't wear the correct color uniforms.  But I wouldn't call that design flaw my greatest disappointment.

Right now, the biggest disappointment that comes to mind is Mego's action figure lines from 1979: Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and The Black Hole. 

I loved and collected -- and still love and collect -- these figures, but they were not durable at all. 

Their thumbs would break off, for instance, after light play, and all their joints were held together by this ugly metal pins. 

As I recall, it was all too easy for the figures' arms and legs to just snap off those pins, leaving kids with no recourse but to attempt to glue the figures back together.

And then, sometimes, on really bad days, the figures would just blow apart, when the black rubber band holding them together in the middle snapped.

I think I may have told this story before, but I remember seeing Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979) in movie theaters, and then my parents taking me to Toys R. Us afterwards to get a present.  I was able to buy two action figures from the movie: Buck and Twiki.  

Man, that was the greatest experience for a nine year old kid.

Then, after the toy store visit, my family went carpet shopping.  I was playing with Buck and Twiki in the carpet store, when the Buck Rogers figure broke.  

I'd owned it for less than a half hour, and been playing with it for about five minutes. I couldn't believe it.  I begged my parents to go back and buy another one, but that was a no go.

That was the most disappointing toy experience of my youth, that I can recall. 

Sadly, the experience of those Black Hole and Buck Rogers figures breaking like that repeated over and over again over the next several years, but the vast majority of them survived at least a decent amount of time before breaking.

But poor old Buck died in one day.

I would love to post some reader stories about toy disappointments from childhood.  If any readers would like, e-mail me your story at, and I will post them here over the next several days...

Don't forget to ask me your questions at


  1. As a boy in the '70s, some of my biggest toy disappointments were that there was no toy or model kits made, e.g., of the Jupiter 2, Spacepod, Space Academy, Seeker, Starfire or Ark II.


  2. John,

    I'm not sure if I was able to enjoy any of my toys long enough for them to break on their own, because I had an older brother whose mission was to destroy all of my toys before I could even play with them. This happened every Christmas, and throughout my young life. I still own my Remco Lost In Space Robot, but it's missing its head and claws and some other pieces because I loved that toy and my brother knew it. He once stuck it in the part of the garage where we kept the baseball bats, and put a bat right next to it as if to send me a message that this was the bat he used to smash my Robot toy. I think I was happy with all the toys I received, but disappointed in knowing that they wouldn't live to see the next day, week or month. But that tough little Robot survived; he's sitting right up there on the shelf with a Mr. Hanky Christmas ornament where his head used to be.