When I was a kid growing up in the 80s and 90s, there were so many incredible, robust toy lines to get into. I was a big fan of He-Man, Transformers, M.A.S.K., G.I. Joe and the Ninja Turtles, but there were even more ideas that seemed to just hit and disappear forever. So, you might go to the store, get something cool, tear open the box and then never know what that thing was actually called. For years, that was the case with a Pepsi can toy I have that splits open to reveal a tiny robot man and a flying…chair or something for him. Only years later would I come to find out the line was called Computer Warriors and had this great commercial!
Just look at how glorious these toys are! I was already a fan of small toys that looked like other things and could change! Plus, you add in the mystery of those things I kept hearing about called home computers and you have the recipe for something incredible! Also, maybe this is where I realized that soccer is evil!
Alas, the Mattel line apparently didn’t do as well as they hoped and it only lasted the one wave. I did just discover that there was supposed to be a cartoon as well, though it never got past the pilot stage! Oh what could have been. Actually, thinking about it, this idea could easily be brought back right now. I’ve got two kids and it seems like everything’s already about being these cool, tiny little toys. Include some blind bag options and, like, an iPad that turns into something and you’ve got a hit on your hands Mattel!
Sure, it’s actually Wednesday as I finish up this post, but I just had to get in another trio of fun-tastic spooky toy commercials before Halloween hit! First up, we have a super weird and gross example of just how, well, weird and gross the 80s got!
Meet Rude Ralph, a severed head that makes sounds when you yank on its bulging eye. Par for the course back then! But that’s not all! You could also get your hands on yet another disembodied head that stunk in the form of Breath Blasters. What a time to be alive!
Stumbling across Rude Ralph and the Breath Blasters was a nice surprise, but the discovery that really got me excited was a line called Rocks And Bugs And Things. First of all, that name is nuts, but does tell you exactly what you’re getting. Then you’ve got these super-fun play features that seem to be in line with both Rocklords and Insectoids. But, the best part of the ad is how they specifically go after G.I. Joe, Transformers AND He-Man with those silhouettes. That’s an impressive level of confidence from a toy line that I have never heard of before!
Finally, I know I posted about Manglors back in 2012 and still feel the same way about this wild toyline (I’d still like a firsthand account of their playability if anyone ever had them), but the old YouTube link is dead, so here’s a fresh one.
Going through Vincent Price Toy Commercials last week was a lot of fun, so let’s check out a trio of wild horror-inspired toy spots!
I have no memory of these Gruesome, Rude, Obnoxious, Silly Scarfers from Tiger, but this might be one of the most delightful ads I’ve seen in a long time. From the iconic kids at the mall to a toy that keeps topping itself, this one’s a ton of fun. I mean, you had me at “a gross puppet that makes sounds,” but then you add in the see-through stomach and this is an easy home run. If you had a G.R.O.S.S. puppet, please let me know in the comments!
It still shocks me that Troma’s Toxic Avenger made the jump to cartoons, toys and comics in the early 90s. It’s weird that Rambo had a cartoon given his big screen body count, but it’s mind-boggling to anyone who saw the classic Troma film that Toxie made the same transition! Because of this cartoon, I watched The Toxic Avenger WAY sooner than I should have and actually turned it off because I was so scandalized! I now own it on DVD and have this Toxie figure thanks to one magical flea market trip. I don’t have that rad slime-dripping mop thought, what a cool accessory!
Speaking of slime, it’s crazy how popular this stuff is right now. I’ve got two kids under 10 and they are all about making their own slime and even know of like 30 different types with different recipes and whatnot. I’m personally not a fan, but I do love a toy line like Oozers which really captures the gross-out nature of many an 80s toy line. I also really dig the line-up of characters, most of whom seem to take their cues from Universal Monsters and classic mythology, but check out the Jason Voorhees analog in there who’s rocking that tank top! These are very cool, but I wonder how well they’ve held up over the years what with all the squeezing and oozing and whatnot.
As you can tell, I’m in the full Halloween swing here UnitedMonkee headquarters and have been for awhile. With It’s All Connected, I’ve been on quite the Vincent Price kick, so it seemed like the perfect time to dust off an old favorite Toy Commercial Tuesday in the master’s honor!
First up we have a spot for the Milton Bradley board game Stay Alive. I can’t say I’ve heard of this game, but it was a stroke of marketing genius to take this title and run with it by hiring a master of horror to be the face. I mean, otherwise, it’s just a game where marbles fall down holes. That being said, I’d still love to play!
After watching this commercial I sat back and simply said, “Huh,” out loud to no one in particular. On one hand, this Hangman spot features Price showing off how funny he can be without also being creepy (or surrounded by creepiness). On the other…what was the point of any of this? I get that Hangman implies the wild west and the game makers probably didn’t want to go too dark, but what about Price and a lady playing the game near a gallows. Yeah, that probably wouldn’t have been okay, but it’s playing great in my mind right now.
Finally, at least for this week, we have Price doing a jovial voice over for a double-bagger. This commercial not only extols the virtues of Simon, but of Super Simon, which I’ve never seen before! It makes me chuckle that they seemingly aimed this extra long commercial more at adults than kids.
To say that this Halloween season will be unlike any other is like saying that Leatherface has a unique take on cosmetics. My wife and I are still taking the pandemic seriously (it’s incredibly stupid that anyone has to say that, wear a damn mask) so trick or treating for the kids is all but cancelled. We’re trying to figure out a new way to celebrate, but we’ll see how that goes. Personally, this year will be very different for me because I’ve got a house full of people who want nothing to do with horror movies (or are too young to see them). So, I’m doing my best to squeeze them in where and when I can, but am also focusing on a lot of comics and books. But, I also decided to decorate the shelf in my office with a small army of fiends in action figure form that date all the way back to my childhood!
As a kid in the 80s, I loved the Transformers. Like many of my compatriots, I could not get enough of giant robots or things that morphed making it both the perfect cartoon and toy line for me. I wasn’t a diehard fan (I only know the names of a few of the Autobots and Decepticons) but it was a big part of my youth. I even have a Transformers sleeping bag that my son now uses!
So, I was pretty excited to watch the Transformers film in 2007. And you know what? I dug it! This was before coming to understand how problematic and awful certain aspects of that production and its director were, so I found myself enthralled with this tale of giant robots fighting each other with surprisingly durable humans running around. It certainly helped that they used the few Transformers I can name from memory AND some of the sound effects from the cartoon! With the second film in the series, I found myself no longer having fun and stayed away, that is until watching Bumblebee with my wife!
It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, but I’m fairly confident I found a doozy here! Check out the Hulk Rage Cage produced by Fun Stuff in the late 70s. I’d never heard of this one, but I love the idea of a toy designed to fully capture the Jade Giant’s destructive capabilities. On the other hand, I’m not sure how much replay value this would have after the first few bar-breaks.
What’s even crazier, though, is that this idea has persisted over the years. It looks like Toy Biz made one as part of the Marvel Super Heroes line in the early 90s, but also brought it back a few years later in a line dedicated to the Hulk’s UPN cartoon! Nice work Fun Stuff!
Watching cartoons with your kids can be a real double, or possibly triple edged sword. On one hand, you get to see what they like, how they react and file away situations and moments that might come in handy when relating something to them down the line. On the other side, you have to sit through some real garbage. And on the other, other side — possibly the sharpest of the bunch — you see how commercially obsessed they are by requesting one of everything shown in the commercials.
But, hey, sometimes you see something cool like Havex Machines commercials. Sure it might have some souped up CGI wizardry, but this spot feels very much in line with the kinds of ads they showed us in the 80s. There’s the implication of a long-standing battle between sides, not to mention the talk-shouting approach and cool-as-hell looking sets they get to play on.
Better yet, Havex Machines seem to basically be Transformers that can only switch modes when you drive a Micro Machine into them with maybe a little Centurions thrown in (Earth! Sea! Sky!) That’s a combo I can definitely get behind.