Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Chainclaw's Top Ten Forgotten Toy Lines!

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Well hello there. Welcome again to the ramblings of a verified geek. I'm Chainclaw, and as I was going through some old boxes the other day, I had a chance to relive a bunch of old toylines that many have forgotten. These lines had maybe one or two assortments, and quietly faded away. Sure, I may collect Tansformers now, but as a kid, anything that looked remotely cool was fair game. For all the G.I. Joe and Transformers, there were literally dozens of others that went the way of the dinosaur. Even if their line was made up of toy dinosaurs.

In lieu of that, I figured I'd throw the old nostalgia goggles on today and take a look back to the magic 80's and their plastic goodness. So join me in Chainclaw's Top Ten Forgotten Toylines!

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10. Ring Raiders- This line was actually rather popular back in the day. Granted, the line was made by Matchbox, a proven seller and rival to the Hot Wheels line of die cast cars. Good enough of a line to have a lot of product out, and even a cartoon. However, even as a kid I just did not get the appeal. Small fighter jets attached to rings to help simulate flying action I guess. They were, again though, apparently popular enough to get a lot of them released in the short time they were around. They're one of those toys you find in the bottom of an old box, and you know for sure you didn't buy the damn thing.

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9. Food Fighters- Yet another toyline popular enough to have a few waves of toys, but still long forgotten by the millenium. These guys were weird, take food, put a face on it, and make them soldiers. But wait! Make sure those face sculpts are creepy as all get out, and not even in a comical way. They really oogied me out, they make the list because despite their fugly mugs, they managed to sell a few toys before going belly up.

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8. Warrior Beasts- [i]Oh[/i] yeah full on 80's mode here. In the early 80's one of the kings of the toy aisle was He-Man, and smaller toy company Remco figured jumping on that band wagon was smart. Ya know what? It was, I admit owned a few of these cheap looking guys. They made excellent no name bad guys for Skeletor to throw at He-Man. The line eventually grew to include licensed characters from DC Comics Warlord and Arik. Their only seal of quality? The sticker proudly claiming "Plays with He-Man and Masters of the Universe Figures!". Yeah, the 80's were more lax on that stuff it seems.

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7. GUTS!- This is a line I kinda thought had some legs. Kids even today still play with green army men figures, and GUTS! were simply detailed army men with more varied "branches" of service. Sure you had army and marines and whatnot, but also ninjas and future themed soldiers. I also think they were building on the popularity of the M.U.S.C.L.E. line. Non articulated figures are quick and easy to produce, but the extra paint apps made a five pack of these guys 5 bucks.I suppose in the end they were a little expensive compared to the 80 green guys in a bag for 2 bucks competition.

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6. Mantech- Look who's back! Remco shows up again with a more original concept with their Mantech line. Basically bigger, clunkier Micronauts, the arms, legs, hands, and feet of these guys could all easily pop off to exchange weapons and looks with other Mantech figures. I honestly think they look silly, again though I can't lie, I owned one or two of these guys, as well as one of the vehicles. So I still have a little nostalgia for them, they were big, clunky heroic fun, even if they are kinda derpy looking.

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5. Sky Commanders- Hey look! Kenner made the list! Kenner was one of the big boys in the 80's toy game, producing and releasing figures and whatnot for the Star Wars franchise. Even the big guys can fumble though. Sky Commanders was an interesting concept on paper. Basically every figure had a wrist mounted bungee line, and for the vehicles a long string, or a thick wide fabric band that could stretch across your room and connect to like doorways, or shelves, or whatever. The selling point was that these guys worked in high altitude environments and used this advanced cable system to get around. Neat? Yeah. Complicated as hell? Damn right. Hence why I think the line fizzled. Kenner's quality and design work was all over this though, and I'm sure there are a few cult fans of this rather bizarre toyline.

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4. Starcom- I loved this line when it came out. Tiny astronauts with magnetic feet, and vehicles with a self winding "rapid deploy" gimmick that made weapons and special action features pop out of everywhere with a touch of a button. Most of all the quality is what sold me. Even as a kid, I knew these things were on par with Transformers and Star Wars in that they were solid, the gimmicks worked, and everything seemed well planned and slickly produced. Sadly, as cool as they were, the concept just never caught on. Poor Coleco just had horrible luck with boys toylines after their Cabbage Patch Kid boom. Speaking of Coleco....

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3. Sectaurs- A creepy(and unlike the Food Fighters, in a good way) insect warriors themed line again seeming to cash in on the wave of He-Man's hi-tech barbarian popularity. There was a big difference, however, the aforementioned Coleco made this line and it was made beautifully. The toys were detailed, sturdy, and full of character. One of the main gimmicks of the line was the ridable mounts the heroes and villains used. The "legs" of the larger insect mounts were in reality a glove, so your hand would simulate the legs, that's some articulation there! This line was just beautiful, great figures, a great world, but again sadly, it just never caught on huge. Even though forgotten with any new toylines, Sectaur and Starcom toys fetch big bucks on Ebay, so there is some comfort knowing people remember the quality of these toys.

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2. Starriors- Originally an offshoot of the Zoids concept from Japan(notice the Zoid pilot in the head/cockpit?), Starriors were robots with wind up action gimmicks. Things like a spinning saw in the chest, or like this guy, a big ass rotating drill.They also sported the Mantech deal as you could switch their heads/arms/legs around. I really liked the design of these guys, I'm just a big fan of retro styled robots. I owned more than a few, and a good friend of mine at the time had the massive cobra headed base. They weren't the best ever, and by today's standards have that dated look, but I really liked them as a kid. They are also hard to find in some cases online, depending on the figure. That means some people love these little guys.

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1. Megaforce- I, to this day, still love this line. Megaforce was troop building and epic scale concepts done right. The small toys were three packs of die cast tanks, planes, and helicopters, one colored slightly different or having a larger missile or whatever to be the "leader". They even included small battlefield fortifications like blast walls, or landing pads. These small troop builders were neat, but the stars of the line were the massive carrier vehicles. These bad boys could handle maybe one jet or tank in the smaller offerings, or carry a fleet of them on the larger ones. I just loved the scale, the concept(there was no actual hero or villain, just two armies, you got to choose your antagonist, unheard of nowadays), and the designs of these monsters was, indeed epic in the proper use of the word. Thinking outside of the box, this wasn't a cookie cutter idea. I wish there had been more of them.

Well that's a look at the toybox in my brain. The 80's weren't just breakdancing and bad clothes, it was an era where toys really, I think, established a golden age of creativity and design. Great old toys like these that maybe should have gotten a better chance, but hey I know I'm not the only one who remembers them, and that has to count for something right? Thanks for reading, Tony/Chainclaw.

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