These are a series of posts that I could probably write until the end of time. The good thing is that means I wasn’t a spoiled brat that got everything I wanted, the bad thing is I should be in therapy for still holding a grudge.
1. Daggit (Mattel, 1978)
I have very few memories of the original Battlestar Galactica TV show that aired in 1978 to 1979 on ABC. The only real memory I have is of the lovable canine robot Daggit. I wished I had a real Daggit to replace my dumb ol’ real dog Scruffy. Daggit was awesome and cute and seemed like a better pet than a real dog any day. I remember when the remake of the show began airing on the Sci-Fi channel and everyone was telling me how awesome it was. My first question (and last question) was, “Is Daggit in it?”. When they scoffed and said “no”, I had one simple rebuttal “F@%K that show.”.
Through out my early childhood I would find many other action figures mixed within someone’s collection of Star Wars figures. Daggit, Ovion, and the Cyclon were the three most commonly found figures found beside a Yoda or Han Solo. It was Mattel’s plan to skate in on the popularity of Star Wars in the late ’70s with the Battlestar Galactica toy line. Made with same molded and 5-point articulated design as Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica figures almost looked the same to the uneducated toy purchaser. It worked with most parents and kids because it just added more characters to their growing Star Wars collection (which was kinda small before the release of Empire). Sadly the show didn’t catch on and with sagging ratings and a bloated budget, ABC gave it the axe after only 21 episodes.
(Note – While researching the Daggit I came upon some childhood smashing pictures from behind the scenes of Battlestar Galactica. I’ve included two at the bottom of the post if you feel adventurous.)
2. Reflector (Hasbro, 1986)
The whole size alteration ability of Transformers is taken to new heights with Reflector. Three robots would form together to create Reflector, their names were Viewfinder, Spectro, and Spyglass and they could shrink down to the size of a normal camera. Reflector was a Decepticon spy that liked to watch and report back to Megatron. He appeared only during the beginning of the Transformers cartoon run in but was phased out later on. His (their) generic look allowed them to be cannon fodder and fill out backgrounds before the cast of Decepticons grew later on in the series.
Reflector wasn’t sold in stores along side his (their) transforming teammates, he (they) were a mail away elusive that was included on a little catalog that came inside Transformers packages. He cost 2 Robot Points and $10.00. I think this is where I lost my parents. The Robot Points were on each Transformers box or card and I had a couple of those but the steep $10 price tag was the sinker. Around that time there were also G.I. Joe mail away offers that I missed out on because of the price, which is odd because my parents did spring for a couple of the Star Wars figure offers. In hindsight Reflector probably wasn’t the most fun of Transformers toys but as a kid it seemed like a rare find that I just had to have.
3. Vinyl Stuffed E.T. (LJN, 1982)
When I was writing my piece on E.T. – Book of the Green Planet one of the first things that came to mind was this toy. This leathery little dude was the original licensed E.T. stuffed alien. The summer that the movie came out (and for a few afterwards) every flea market and carnival that blew into town had a plush knock-off, but nothing compared to this vinyl one. I mean c’mon, E.T. was leather looking not fluffy and plush…nice try carnies. Peddle your crap somewhere else.
Either way today I wish I had either one of the versions, bootleg or licensed. I can’t remember if there was a reason I didn’t get one. Hell, at the time it seemed like everyone had one and they were everywhere on sale. Heaven knows my parents had no problem buying me stuffed animals, so I assume it was just too expensive. This toy is an iconic part of my childhood. It is a monument to a cultural phenomenon that dominated kiddom in the early ’80s, E.T. . E.T. was a powerful movie to children as it intertwined everything from excitement and joy to fear and death. It’s no wonder why it has a place in a lot of people’s hearts and has endured 35 years later.
4. Commando (Diamond, 1985)
Commando was the feel good family hit of 1985 so it was only a matter of time before it would spawn a toy line. What? It’s not a family movie? It was rated “R”? Well I sure as hell watched it a ton as a kid. I even taped it off of HBO so I could watch it whenever I wanted to. So it was a no brainer that I would want the toys. They came in 3 sizes 3 3/4″, 6″, and 16″. I would have been happy with any of them. The 3 3/4″ featured other characters other than Schwarzenegger’s John Matrix. They gave Matrix a small team of crack commandos and a team of Mad Max styled villains to fight. To make them even more kid friendly each toy came with a mini-comic (which was a big thing in the ’80s).
I remember this wasn’t a toy that could be found in the local Woolworth or Ames, no this was a special figure that I only ever saw at the Kiddie City. Sadly whenever we went there I only had birthday money gift money to spend and my mind was only on Star Wars, G.I. Joe, Transformers, or He-Man. That meant ol’ Matrix was left to the wayside, but as a kid you expected toys like that to be there for sale forever. I guess the one thing that bummed me out with these toys was that not all of them came with the sweet rocket launcher Schwarzenegger used in the film. To me that was an iconic part of the movie and no rocket launcher meant no dice.
5. Energized Spider-Man (Remco, 1978)
Before they began making Masters of the Universe inspired toys like Warlord, Remco made innovated toys that utilized features not seen before. Energized Spider-Man was one of those toys. Located on Spider-Man’s belt was a little plug that could give power to the flashlight he was packaged with, or added accessories that were sold separately. Spidey also had a helicopter and a “Spider Sense” computer that had real Spider Sense Action(!!). When each item was plugged into Spider-Man’s belt they drew from the batteries in ol’ Web Head’s back and sprang to life. Speaking of web head, he also had a kaleidoscope type thing in his head and a little hole in his noggin that allowed you to see what Spidey sees while his Spider Sense goes off. Oh, and I forgot the best thing of all…Spider-Man could climb a line from his web shooter. This figure had it all…except articulation.
I must have seen this at either a yard sale or the ol’ Good Will…but after seeing it I knew I needed it. A Spider-Man that could actually climb was a modern marvel (no pun intended) in toy technology that I craved. Long story short, I never got a Energized Spider-Man…or any Spider-Man figure until Secret Wars toys came out in 1983, and that was the black suit Spider-Man…just wasn’t the same. While researching this toy I stumbled onto other characters in the Remco Energizer line. There was a Batman, Superman, Hulk, Captain America, and a Green Goblin. If I ever track down the Spider-Man I definitely need the Green Goblin to go along with it…right?
BONUS PICTURES – From the set of Battlestar Galactica (1978)
If it wasn’t so cool I think I would cry from having a “Hollywood magic” secret from my childhood revealed!