Friday, March 25, 2011

Best toys from my childhood #1

Cap guns

The cap gun wins for the best toy of my childhood. I spent much of my youth running around on imaginary adventures with one of these on my hip. The best type of cap gun was the revolver that took plastic ring caps. I also had guns that took roll caps but they took forever to load, and those frustrating paper caps didn't go off half the time. Whether I was a scurvy pirate, Indiana Jones, or just a cowboy shootin' some Injuns*, I always had at least one gun loaded and ready to fire. I have many fond memories of shoot outs with my brothers (which were often followed by heated debates over "who shot who first").

I realize that many people shy away from letting their children play with cap guns because they think the toys teach kids to be violent as adults. I believe that cap guns are harmless. I shot my own brothers in cold blood thousands of times as a kid and I haven't killed anyone in real life yet.

*Don't worry, I can say "Injun" without being racist because I'm 1/16 Native American. Put that in your peace pipe and smoke it, Paleface.

Well there you have it, the 10 best toys from my childhood. Tracking down and editing images of these toys proved to be a time consuming and sentimental process but I think it turned out pretty dang good. I would like to end this series by thanking my late grandfather, Charles Sims. He bought me pretty much everything on this list, and was the best grandpa a boy could ever have.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Best toys from my childhood #2

G.I. Joe action figures

Out of all my action figures, my G.I. Joes undoubtedly saw the most action. I remember building elaborate forts out of mud, sticks, and brush to set the stage for countless wars. While I loved these toys as a child, I didn't watch the cartoon. I actually think that this made playing with the action figures more fun because I had to imagine their backgrounds, voices, and relationships to one another.

By the end of their tour of duty many of these guys were missing limbs and some of them quite literally had their faces melted off. Apparently the Geneva Conventions don't apply when it comes to the war on Cobra.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Best toys from my childhood #3


If I was the type of person who used the expression "'nuff said," I would write those two words (one and a half words?) here and be done with this post. Of course, I am not that type of person (I actually hate that phrase) so instead I will say the following:

The enormous popularity of Legos throughout the past few decades suggests that most people are familiar with how completely awesome these toys are. That is all.

. . . .

Actually, I lied. I have one more thing to say. About two years ago I sold the space monorail set (pictured below) at a garage sale for about $10. The set was really neat and I don't know why I sold it. The train ran on a battery and actually went around the track on its own. While looking for photos to use in this post I ran across the same set being sold on Ebay. Apparently the space monorail is a rare toy and is currently being auctioned off with a starting bid of $599! I am NEVER having a garage sale again.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Best toys from my childhood #4

Star Wars action figures/lightsaber

The combination of creative costumes and unique weapons helped make these action figures super popular. Oh, and the fact that they were based on the most awesome movie trilogy of all time didn't hurt either. I had all the main characters and many of the large sets including the Ewok Village, Imperial Shuttle, and the Millennium falcon (with the super cool secret smuggling compartment!). My brother had the speeder bike that blew apart when you pushed a button and man, was I jealous.

The lightsaber pictured below was my "Holy Grail" of toys. I searched countless toy stores trying to find an official Star Wars lightsaber (which made a whistling sound when you swung it). I eventually tracked one down and it was everything I hoped it would be - until it promptly broke. I don't remember how this happened but I'm pretty sure it hurt one of my brothers more than it hurt me.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Best toys from my childhood #5

M.U.S.C.L.E. men

I LOVED these little pink plastic wrestlers. They came in clear bubble packs of 4, semi-transparent trash can packs of 10, and box sets of 28. The company also released a series of different colored wrestlers but I only liked the pink ones (which were more flexible and had a great, distinctive plastic smell). In order to collect them all you had to scour your local Toys "R" Us store, shaking and peering into the packages to find the figures you wanted. Out of all the toys listed in this series of posts, these are the ones I miss the most. If I ever win the lottery I swear I'll buy as many as I can get my hands on.

Despite my love of these little wrestlers, I never collected the full set. At some point my mom decided that the toys were Satanic and made me throw them all away. I'm glad the Devil never appeared and offered to trade some M.U.S.C.L.E. men for my soul. I don't think I would have agreed to the deal but I have to admit I would have come pretty damn close.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Best toys from my childhood #6

Chuck Norris Karate Kommandos

I honestly don't remember exactly why I loved these toys so much. They were rather large compared to other action figures and they were made up of squishy rubber heads attached to hard plastic bodies. All I know is that the toys were based on a ragtag band of karate fighters and ninjas, themed around the great Chuck Norris. Wait, what am I saying? These toys were AWESOME!

As a kid I didn't even know who Chuck Norris was, I just knew I had to have the action figures. This type of mind control is just another example of how diabolically badass Chuck Norris truly is.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Best toys from my childhood #7

Super Soakers/water balloons

The only reason water guns are so low on my list is that you could only play with them outside, during the summer. Despite these restrictions, Super Soakers and water balloons were a blast. I thoroughly enjoyed teaming up with any one of my brothers to ambush the other two with these water weapons. I came strapped with the Super Soaker 50 as my main water cannon and the more compact 30 as my backup pistol.

Water balloons were also a great way to soak your enemies (and piss off your parents if you accidentally dropped one inside the house). If you find yourself engaged in water combat in the future I offer you the following advice. Before you throw your water balloon, stretch the top part (where it's tied off) and bite a tiny hole. Pinch the hole so no water leaks out, and when you see your enemy fire away. Think of it as pulling out the pin of a grenade with your teeth before tossing it at your foe (at least that's what I used to imagine). This trick guarantees that your balloon will pop on impact. If you don't follow my advice your balloon may bounce off your target, allowing them to pick it up and throw it back at you - a truly humiliating experience.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Best toys from my childhood #8

M.A.S.K. action figures

These toys were bright and colorful and I loved the little snap-on helmets. Each character had their own removable mask to conceal their true identity. As if that wasn't cool enough, the vehicles/playsets transformed into kick-ass battle stations and fighter jets! Even after all these years I can still recall the theme song. Muh muh muh mask!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Best toys from my childhood #9

My Pet Monster

Your own personal pet monster. What's not to love? My Pet Monster was a huge stuffed animal, complete with corduroy horns and a set of moldy looking rubber teeth. To top it all off, the toy came with life-sized orange handcuffs that you could wear around your own wrists. The handcuffs were rigged so every time you pulled them apart the chain would "break" down the middle - making you feel like a badass monster yourself.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Best toys from my childhood #10

Koosh balls/super balls

Koosh balls made it at the end of the list because, while they may not be the most flashy and complicated toys, they were a lot of fun. They also smelled really good. Super balls were great because they were the only toy cheap enough that my parents would occasionally buy for me on a whim (they were $0.25). I loved those things but I was often too scared to bounce them in public because they got lost so easily.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Best toys from my childhood

Hello reader, you are in for a real treat! Over the next two weeks I will be posting photos and descriptions of my top 10 favorite childhood toys. I have ranked them in order and will start next Monday with number 10, posting one per weekday.

Please feel free to add your own input to these posts in the form of comments. You can try to guess which toys I will include in the list and/or give a shout-out to your own favorite toys from when you were a kid.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Top 5 discontinued snack items (+ worst ever)

1. DinaSour Eggs
2. Bubble Gum Cigarettes
3. Peanut Butter Handi-Snacks (with orange crackers)
4. The McDLT
5. Koala Springs sparkling lemonade

Worst: Crystal Pepsi

Disagree? Submit your own list as a comment!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Olfactory work results

Without further ado, I present you with the results of the Yale study I posted about last month.

The 20 Most Recognizable Smells in the US

1. Coffee
2. Peanut butter
3. Vicks VapoRub
4. Chocolate
5. Wintergreen oil
6. Baby powder
7. Cigarette butts
8. Mothballs
9. Dry cat food
10. Beer
11. Ivory bar soap
12. Juicy Fruit gum
13. Orange
14. Cinnamon
15. Lemon
16. Tuna
17. Banana
18. Crayons
19. Cheese
20. Bleach