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.
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.
There are roughly a thousand things I love about this Kenner Star Wars spot. First off, that’s Christian Slater on the left and ChristmasStory and Death Valley star Peter Billingsley on the right. Second, I’ve had some of the action figures in this commercial since I can remember remembering things like Hoth Han and IG-88. Third, I’ve always seen and been enamored with that Darth Vader carrying case, but never realized that it actually featured the names of the characters and designated spots. Fourth, it’s hilarious to me that, of all the amazing characters on display as the camera pans by, AT-AT Driver and the medical droid get shout outs from young Master Slater. Okay, so maybe there were only five things I love about this commercial, but it’s still a great watch.
Even as a kid, I knew there was something off with 1993’s Super Mario Bros. movie. I don’t remember being super excited about it coming out — not like I was for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles a few years earlier — but I do remember being confused by the tiny headed lizard dudes and, well, everything else.
These days, I’m happy the movie exists because it gave us Ertl action figures based on Bob Hoskins, John Leguizamo, Dennis Hopper AND Fisher Stevens. What other movie can say that? More importantly, what accent is this kid trying to do?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but M.A.S.K. may have been the perfect 80s toy line. Shrink down G.I. Joes and put them inside Transformers? Yeah, I’m on board that idea all day long. It’s been a while since I shined the spotlight on these rad 80s ads, but I was dazzled by the use of actual race cars in this one to sell toys! Back at my folks’ place, I have two duffle bags filled with these vehicles and after watching this spot, I want to dig them out! This reminds me that I should watch the animated series on DVD and also catch up on the IDW comic. I’m missing out on so much M.A.S.K. goodness!
A few years back I took the time to spotlight the rad 90s Kenner Superman: The Man Of Steel line (that was probably only rad to kids like me who were HUGE Man of Steel fans). The line didn’t last very long, but it gave us some really interesting commercials. The one you see above has a lot of the same figure as seen in the previous post from four years ago, but with the added awesomeness of Superboy’s motorcycle. Why would he need one? He doesn’t! He just wants one, so take that!
Also, I dig how into it those kids are! They really nail the “Don’t Mess With The S” slogan and I’m pretty sure one of them is dressed exactly like Marty McFly in Back To The Future, so bonus points for that.
Finally, how crazy is it that Conduit has an action figure?