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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Dec. 1, 1986)
Supplement to the Daily Nebraskan
Monday, December 1, 1986
1 1 lIUTTt 111 1 .
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Brian MaryDaily Nebraskan
Great ty f the past
The coolest toys on earth are never
the most expensive.
When my parents demanded a
Christmas list from me, I'd just rip the
comic book novelty page out of the
latest issue of "Conan the Barbarian"
x-ray specs, soap that turned your
hands black, pepper gum, etc. the
whole page came to about $19 plus
postage and handling. But, invariably, I
received something three times as
expensive and three times less enter
taining. Now, of course, I understand that
putting joy buzzers and pepper gum
into the hands of a child who was
already three steps from reform school
would have been a major tactical error
on my parent's part.
The best toys were always the ones
that trusted you. The ones that plugged
in, lit up or heated up; flew or launched
projectiles. You gotta love a toymaker
that allows you to play with things like
that. Because children are basically
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Here's a list of some of the most
trust ing and entertaining toys available
since 1965 or so.
1. Mattel Time Machine. This is
my all-time favorite. What the manu
facturer is giving you here is a hotplate.
I liked having a small metal disk that
heated up to about 400 degrees in my
own room. The premise of the toy was
simple, though it seemed miraculous
in the old days. You got this hot plate
with a clear plastic dome over it. You
got your plastic cubes in all different
colors. You put the plastic cubes on the
hot plate and they unfolded into
hideous monsters from another time.
Then, while the dinosaur was still soft,
you put him into a little compression
chamber at the base of the hot plate
and turned it into a cube again.
What the toy company was trusting
you not to do: Burn yourself, of course.
Also, they were trusting you not to
remove the metal hot plate disk, keep
the wires attached to the bottom, shove
the main unit your sister's bed and put
the disk under her fitted sheet, cover
the wires leading up to it with frilly
bedding and turn the disk on right
around bedtime. This way you could
turn your sister into a hideous monster
from another time. The Time Machine
was also great for melting Barbie dolls.
2. Sea Monkeys: Sea Monkeys
never worked but the premise was
exciting. The ads for them in the comic
books made it look like they grew up to
be Ward, June, Wally and the Beav in
seahorse costumes. They were invar
iably flushed down the toilet. After all,
they were only brine shrimp. At least
that's what the cynics said. No matter
how much care you gave your Sea
Monkeys, no matter how much extra
Sea Monkey food you purchased, or how
long you watched the tiny amorphous
translucent mass lay on the bottom of
the Sea Monkey aquariumgymnasium,
they never even remotely resembled
the comic book pictures.
But the faithful knew these were not
just brine shrimp. The faithful know
that one of the greatest menaces to
human kind since killer bees or
tarantulas transported in banana
crates is brewing in the sewers of
America Under every manhole is a Sea
Monkey, fully grown, with arms and
legs and a vaguely humanoid face,
waiting for the invasion of the world.
3. Operational Robots: You know,
the kind that walks and spits sparks,
with a blinking psychedelic chest
panel. There were many brands and
many varieties and most of them were
pretty cool. Eventually your parents got
tired of buying batteries and watching
it march across the breakfast table and
spit sparks at them while they slug
gishly ate oatmeal.
- See TOYS ... on7
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