Oh Summer time. It has felt like a very long road we traveled to finally get here this year. Even today as I write this there is still a briskness to the air and the oppressive bits seem very far away. Either way I finally had a few free minutes to write something other than monster posts or ’80s music. Summer is always my most busy part of the year and my writing time suffers because of it. It makes me very sad to not be able to write, so what better way to mark the occasion of writing than to re-visit my painful childhood! Just joking, it wasn’t ALL painful…just the parts I remember.
1. Slip ‘N’ Slide (Wham-O, 1961)
Whenever I asked to play with the hose as a kid I was told “We can’t waste water”. I guess that is a very valid point but isn’t a little bit of environmental irresponsibility worth the happiness of a child? So with the garden hose not even being an option I knew this toy was never going to be allowed into our back yard.
Later in life I heard about the grim realities of these “silent killers”. Even though the commercials made it look like the safest and funniest thing in the world I heard of the horror stories of kids left battered and bruised by this yellow death machine. Everything from cuts on the stomach from rocks hidden beneath the grass or massive bruises because you didn’t hit the slide just right. Heck, between 1973 and 1991, seven adults and a 13-year-old suffered neck injuries or paralysis while using Slip’N Slides I guess I can thank my parents for once for not letting me end up as a red smear on a yellow sheet of plastic.
2. M60 Water Gun (Larami, 1980s)
Back in the day water gun technology hit its peak with the very realistic weapons made by Larami and Entertech. These battery operated water guns came in dozens of different styles and even had features like extra backpacks to carry more water and albeit scary but cool red invisible ink. It seems weird now but in the ’80s the more real a toy gun looked, the better. We had a ton of army and action movies to try and emulate and all boys wanted to be a “one man army” like the “heroes” we saw on the big screen.
A lot of companies jumped into the battery operated water gun game but Entertech and Larami were the best. Entertech was owned by LJN and Larami went on to be bought and folded in Hasbro toys. They both had a ton of awesome weaponry but I lusted after the M60. Everyone from Cuck Norris to Sylvester Stallion used the ol’ M60 to mow down the bad guys and I wanted to too. They even sold licensed Rambo water guns (missile launcher to boot) but to me this was the best of the best. Things change though, my daughter picked up a toy gun once and it made me feel…I don’t know how I felt but I didn’t like it. I took it from her and gladly it hasn’t happened again.
3. Nerf Boomerang (Nerf, Unknown)
What better way to relive moments from the sci-fi/fantasy film Krull -or-the beloved post-apocalyptic romp Mad Max than with the safe yet effective Nerf Boomerang. You too could be the weird wild kid from Mad Max just minus the severed fingers of your friends and family.
Ok, yes I was a weird kid that was exposed to movies that I had no right in watching at a young age, mainly Mad Max. Now Krull, everyone should see Krull. I was forced to make my own glaive and razor-rang from common house hold items that I assured my parents was even more dangerous than just purchasing me a Nerf official boomerang. They still didn’t see it my may. When I was older I went for the real thing and bought a wooden boomerang from my local hobby shop. Well, no one got hurt but it did shatter into a million pieces when it hit the oak tree in my back yard. If I only I had the spongy goodness of Nerf I could of saved a few bucks.
4. Willy Water Bug (Wham-O, 1970s)
Oh Wham-O, you knew how to beat the summer heat. Yet again this was a toy that got black listed in our household because of the “wasting water” argument. Really, is it wasting if its purpose is for fun? This “water bug” was also squashed by my parents because I didn’t have any friends and it wasn’t worth it for one fat kid to enjoy the “cool splashing fun” of ol’ Willy.
This colorful and dapper little fellow was produced by Wham-O through out the ’70s and ’80s. His dancing tendrils of water fun were what set him apart from the normal run-of-the-mill sprinkler. Sadly we got my kids a more modern version of Willy named something else and based on a caterpillar and the bastard hardly worked. Only on spewing tendril worked and ended up being as fun as a someone spraying you with a drinking straw. Oh Willy, so many imitators biting on your water flailing style but none come close to the original.
5. Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine (Hasbro, 1979)
Who didn’t want the ability to make a snow cone whenever they wanted? AND based on history’s coolest beagle, Snoopy to boot. Every time the commercial came on I would go crazy because it boasted everything to cool summer parties to lucrative business opportunities by selling your awesome snow cones to the neighborhood.
Ok, I need to be 100% honest here. I did have a Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine. My Grandparents bought it for me for one of my birthdays and it was the happiest day of my life (up to that point). Since that day it sat in a cupboard and on rare occasions I was allowed to take it out and pretend to make snow cones. WTF, my mom could be bothered to give me a couple of ice cubes?
….God Damnit…post over….enjoy your weekend…