There are a few irrefutable truths in this world other than death and taxes. However, another one truth I put forth is that if you were a child between the years 1982 and 1988, you were part of the greatest toy generation of all time. Some might try to pooh-pooh my statement as personal nostalgia or sour grapes about the year I was born. But I fully disagree.
If you want to talk about video games, I have no problems conceding that the PS4 is better than my old Atari 2600 in every way shape and form. But straight action figures? No way, no how. Sure, modern manufacturing techniques and current sculpting tools allow for greater articulation and more realistic-looking figures. Look at something like the Star Wars Black 6” figures – The Obi Wan looks just like Ewan Mcgregor’s portrayal in the Star Wars prequel and has something like 25 points of articulation, but kids do not have much interest because it does not capture the imagination like a video game does.
In the mid-80s, toys were a magical tool in the development of friendship and imagination that Pong and Pac-man couldn’t touch. Toy lines, such as Masters of the Universe and GI Joe and Star Wars allowed kids to build upon the worlds they saw every afternoon on the cartoons. Even short-lived lines like Crystar, Sectaurs, Robo Force, and Rambo all had large playsets that your parents could purchase to help provide a starting point to begin your play.
This can be further shown by the types of advertising that was done for these lines. Masters of the Universe has quite a few commercials showing kids using sand and sticks and whatever the outdoor environment is to help become part of the imaginative play world. Then think back to the ultimate in Kiddom…the Sears Wishbook. Once a year you got a catalogue in the mail that showed all of the action figures you loved, displayed in an action setting like you did at home rather than sterile in a light box. This time period of toys was so impactful that the youth of that era, despite having access to the tools and technology of today, are creating a portal into that time period. Look at this year’s hot items at the annual San Diego Comic Con: Reaction figures, shogun warrior Godzilla, larger version of the 80s Devastator Transformer toy…all throwbacks to a long gone, but not forgotten era.
So we are all due to pay our taxes and we will all eventually pass. But there is also a magical toy time period in the mid-80s that I was lucky enough to be a part of. If you were too young to have been there, flip through a service merchandise catalogue, youtube vintage Masters of the Universe commercials, and let toy Sherpas like Warpo and Super7 guide you back to a better toy day.
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Formally trained as a chemist and physicist, a clinical pharmacist by trade, but a true toy lover at heart. Shawn has been collecting, discussing, and hoarding toys for 20 years now. When he is not at SDCC, NYCC, or another big show, he’s running his own site Nerdgasms.net and launching his own brand, AnotherCityToys.
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