Christmas Nostalgia: Decades of Cool Toys

For today’s post, I thought it would be fun to look up ads for some of the cool toys I remember from decades past. Those of you who were born in the 1980s might remember the Mighty Max playsets. I used to give them to my nephew. (My niece got Polly Pockets. It was the same concept for girls.) I loved the way they could build a whole adventure into such a small package.

The video quality on these ads wasn’t as good, but you’ll get the idea. In the early 1970s, G.I. Joe shifted from being strictly a military toy to being part of a quasi-military Adventure Team. Hasbro sold adventure packs that had a mini-comic and all of the props G.I. Joe needed for the adventure in the comic. My personal favorite was the Search for the Missing Mummy. It included an ATV, digging equipment, and, of course, a mummy in a sarcophagus. I saw a miniaturized version as a Christmas ornament about five years ago, so I’m apparently not the only one who remembered it.

Evel Knievel was hugely popular in the mid-1970s. The first Knievel toys were based on actual stunts like Knievel’s attempt to jump the Snake River Canyon. (I got the Canyon Sky Cycle that Christmas.) One of the most colorful Knievel toys was the Skull Canyon adventure. It was loosely based on the legend of the Yeti and even included a little Yeti. It would have been impractical in real life because it had Knievel plowing through piles of plastic boulders on his motorcycle, but it made a great toy.

When I was in the second or third grade, my uncle got my brothers and me the Strange Change Machine. Apparently they had been around before then, but I had never seen them. I’m still amazed by this toy. You put plastic rectangles into a heated chamber and they unfolded into dinosaurs, aliens, and monsters. Then you could heat them up and crush them back into blocks. Somehow the plastic had memory and would return to its original shape. I’ve included an ad for the machine, and I found a brief history and demonstration on YouTube.


Strange Change Machine Demo:


With that in mind, enjoy your Christmas shopping.

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