Rick’s Top Toys From Childhood
I would have to say that growing up in the 70’s as a kid wasn’t a bad thing at all. There weren’t as many distractions as there are today. No online gaming or surfing through 200+ TV channels, no staring at a computer screen wondering what phrase to type into Google, just to see what the search results are. We played with our friends, watch cartoons on Saturdays and had some cool toys to play with.
I was thinking of some of the toys I had growing up and with a quick Google search was transported back in time when live was just a little bit simpler. These were just a few of my favorites growing up. I’d love to know yours too.
This was one of the first ever hand-help electronic games. Merlin was also known as Merlin, The Electronic Wizard and first hit the marketplace in 1978 from Parker Brothers. According to Wikipedia, Merlin was such a huge success that it sold over 5 million units during it’s initial run.
There were six different games that could be played with Merlin, either against another person of Merlin himself. The games included; Tic-Tac-Toe, Music Machine, Echo, Blackjack 13, Magic Square and Mindbender. It was named the best selling toy & game in 1980 by the Toy Manufacturers of America.
‘Evil,’ born Robert Knievel was one of the first daredevils I was ever introduced to through the media. He wound up entering the Guinness Book of World Records, not for his daring attempts to jump over Snake River in Idaho or over 13 buses at Wembley Stadium, but for breaking over 433 bones during his career (1967-1981).
From 1972 and 1977, Ideal Toy Company released a lot of related Evil Knievel merchandise, including the Evil Knievel doll and the Evil Knievel Stunt Cycle. The Knievel line of toys would go on to become Ideal’s best sellers.
Joe has gone through a few transformations throughout it’s toy career, but my favorite has always been the original line that started in in 1964. The marketing department at Hasbro realized that ‘boys don’t play with dolls,’ so G.I. Joe was an ‘action figure.’ When production began on the action figure there were 3 prototypes; ‘Skip,’ ‘Rocky’ and ‘Ace.’
By 1970 Hasbro’s G.I. Joe was renamed the ‘adventure team.’ This was a way to downplay the ‘war’ aspect of the toy line. With this new name came new features; life-like hair and beard (1970) the kung-fu grip (1974)and eagle-eye vision (1976). The reason I enjoyed G.I. Joe so much as a child was because it was a 12-inch action figure. I’ve never been a fan of the 3.75″ figure that was rolled out in the early 80’s.
One of my all-time favorite shows growing up was ‘The Six Million Dollar Man.’ So, when Kenner released the action figure in the mid-seventies, it was on the top of my Christmas list. The Steve Austin Action figure had a flesh color elastic over one arm and his legs. You could roll these up to reveal the removable bionic modules. The figure was so successful for Kenner that they followed with the release of Jamie Sommers (“The Bionic Woman’), Oscar Goldman, Maskatron and Bigfoot. The original Six Million Dollar Man figure in ‘mint’ condition can still fetch a very nice price on the Collector’s Market.
Ah, what would the 70’s have been without products from K-Tel (or Ronco for that mater). Normally reserved with the tag line, ‘not available in stores’ or ‘as seen on TV.’ Yes! The same folks who brought you the Putt-O-Scope, the Veg-O-Matic & The Record Selector. K-Tel made Ron Popeil a household name. The E-Z Sketch was the first thing that turned me on to start drawing. You could use the tracer to shrink, enlarge or draw the same size picture. I think I got so frustrated trying to use this that I finally decided it would be easier if I just drew free hand.
And while I’m on the topic of Ron Popeil, remember this classic?