Monday, July 06, 2009

Kickass toys, and how poor kids played back in the 70's

As part of my ongoing childhood memories tour, here is a list of toys from my youth. Some of these I owned, some of them I didn't. But just because we were poor, didn't mean we couldn't have fun. Here is a list of shit we used to do.

1. Caps - I never owned a cap gun. However, we could go down to TG&Y's and get a giant roll of caps for about a dime. Who needed a cap gun when you had a rock? We would sit and bash the pockets of gunpowder all day. Yeah, the sidewalk would be covered with scorch marks, but who cares? Cheap explosives rule!

2. Evil Knievil motorcycle - To a boy in the 70's, Evil Knievil was the baddest man on the planet. For you whippersnappers out there, it might be hard to believe that some dude jumping over shit on a motorcycle was prime time TV, but his stunts were a ratings bonanza. I never got to own this toy, but one of my friends did. We would jump over everything with it. We tried to jump his dog (eww, that sounds gross) but the damn mutt would never stay still (and that sounds even grosser). To this day, this is still the toy I'm bitter about never owning.

3. Stretch Armstrong - I got this for Christmas one year. We need to start a poll. How long did you own this toy before you cut it open to see what was inside? I think I made it about a month. As an added bonus, this toy made a great weapon. I knocked my brother into near unconsciousness by hitting him in the head with it.

4. Slime - What the hell was this stuff? According to wiki, it's made of guar gum. I still don't know what it is. All I know is that it was pretty cool for a little while. Then eventually you would forget to put the lid on tight, and it would dry out and be useless. Everyone I know pretended it was snot to gross out our moms.

5. Army Men - Another TG&Y classic. You could get a giant bag of these dudes for about a buck. The dude with the bazooka was badass. My brother would get pissed at me because I would always give him the pussy that was talking on the radio. We would set up these big elaborate battles, and then throw rocks at them to try and "kill" them by knocking them over. I never really liked the guy who was lying down with his gun. You couldn't knock him over. In the provided link, it looks like he's standing up. I think that is photography magic. One time a buddy of mine came back from Mexico with a bunch of bottle rockets, so we shot a bunch of them into space. The other thing we used to do is throw them in a fire, and pretend they were torched by a flamethrower.

6. Slip N Slide - Do they still make these? I never owned one proper, but never underestimate the ingenuity of a poor kid. One time we were wandering around the back of some industrial complex, and came across a roll of thick plastic. Being the little shitheads we were, we made off with the roll. Add garden hose, and presto, instant Slip N Slide. We would play pickle with it, where we would have spectacular slides to avoid the tags. One of the worst times I got in trouble as a young kid was because of this. We set it up at my buddy's house, and played for about 8 hours. The hose was running the whole time, turning his front yard into a marsh. Plus, with all the sliding and everything, we tore up most of the grass as well. When his folks got home, they lost their minds. They ended up having to tear out and redo the entire yard.

7. Star Trek gun - I didn't watch Star Trek, but I liked guns. This was another cheap TG&Y toy you could get for a couple of bucks. They shot these little plastic discs that kinda hurt when you got hit with them. However, you would lose the discs pretty quickly as you can imagine. We discovered they shoot pennies pretty well, and the ammo packed more of a wallop.

8. Big Wheel - Best. Gift. Ever. I finally got one for Christmas one year, which probably extended my belief in Santa for another good three years. Fuck I loved that thing. We would go around trying to see who could do the baddest skids. The problem is, I was growing so fast at that time that I couldn't fit in it anymore. Yeah, it had an adjustable seat, but that would only get you so far. However, I was a problem solver. Just grab onto the handle bars, put one foot in the seat, and treat it like a scooter. No wonder I have back problems now. Unfortunately, that method would usually result in cracking the middle of it, rendering it useless. That is, if the plastic tires weren't flat already. I'm pretty sure I cried when my mom finally got rid of its broken, faded shell.

9. Tennis Ball - Probably the most versatile toy on this list. You could find one of those lying around by the high school most of the time. I can't even begin to count the number of games that we could play with a tennis ball. See #6, the pickle was done with a tennis ball. Probably our favorite game to play was "Butt's Up". All you need is a tennis ball, a wall, and some kids. The linked version I've listed is actually pretty close to how we would play, except we would try to hit the runner instead of the wall. We'd play for hours. Heck, I'd still play that today if I could find any takers.

10. Water Rocket - This thing was pretty cool. You'd fill it full of water, and then pump it with air pressure to get it to launch. The trick was to see how much pressure you could get. Since we were kids, we weren't that strong, so we would all gang up to get that thing pumped up. Eventually, we broke the pump. Apparently, it's all educational as well. Whatever, we just wanted to see how high we could get that fucker to go. Surprisingly, we never actually shot it at each other. Even with our violent tendencies, we knew that would probably fuck someone up pretty bad.

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