The only good thing about being 40 years old is that now I have money and I can finally own all of the toys I couldn’t get as a child. I have it on good authority that a middle aged man buying children’s toys for comfort is in fact very cool and not at all pathetic. In that vein, here are some toys that I always wanted to own as a child but didn’t, and at least in theory could buy today.
Boglins were like if Madballs and the Land Before Time puppets from Pizza Hut Voltron-ed into an unlicensed toy depicting the Critters film franchise. The preceding sentence was like if Dennis Miller had trafficked in 80s pop culture in his efforts to sound smart instead of referencing one of the four renaissance painters he knew of.
Enough of that, back to Boglins. They were introduced by Mattel in 1987and were very much inspired by the aforementioned Critters, as well as by Ghoulies and the better known cousin of both, Gremlins. Much like Ghoulies, Critters, and other monsters that appeared on the movie posters and the video store that I wasn’t allowed access to, I never got my hands on a Boglin. This is probably for the best because I was a cowardly child and would have been afraid that the Boglin would come to life at night and terrorize me as I lay in bed prone and helpless. The Boglin would have been banished from my room, like the Chucky doll I once won from a claw machine.
It’s a shame I was such a wuss, because Boglins, which were designed by alumni of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, looked cool as hell. They also came in elaborate packaging meant to evoke cages.
I’d love to own a Boglin today and while I most likely will pull the trigger on one eventually, a lot of in package ones go for upwards of $150 on eBay.
My Pet Monster
Every 1980s television and movie depictions of carnivals featured either somebody winning an enormous stuffed animal or somebody making a wish at a Zoltar machine to become Big. I saw a bit more of the giant stuffed animal trope and now as a 40-year-old I know that becoming Big sucks, so the one that I was obsessed with as a kid was stuffed animals that were as big as me. I also spent every summer at Cedar Point, where people won huge stuffed souvenirs on the midway that they then had to carry around for the rest of the day and the non-coaster riders in their coterie were forced to watch over. It all sounds wonderful.
My Pet Monster checked all of those boxes for me as a child. He was six-year-old John sized, he was brightly colored and cool looking, he was fluffy, he had neat orange handcuffs, and of course my cousin Jimmie had one, because Jimmie had all of the cool toys. Only somewhat recently did I find out that My Pet Monster was part of the Those Characters from Cleveland line, along with Strawberry Shortcake, Care Bears, Madballs, Popples, and other 80s classics. It strikes me as a profound injustice that most of the beloved toys of my childhood were conceived of less than 45 minutes from my house and there wasn’t a single person in my family who could get all of these wonderful things for me for free. I even had an uncle who worked at American Greetings, but he must have worked in the boring division. I imagine the office for Those Characters from Cleveland was a lot like the Mad Magazine offices in The Simpsons.
My Pet Monster was big and scary and he would’ve made a great friend. He probably still would, so maybe one day I’ll drop $350 on him on eBay. In the meantime I’ll have to stick with the fictional version of My Big, Scary Friend that I wrote.
There it is. Every 40-year-old man’s Holy Grail. It’s beautiful. A toy so cool that not even Cousin Jimmie owned it. I never met a single child who owned U.S.S. Flagg, but then again I didn’t hang out with much royalty in Ohio in the 1980s. I can’t imagine who else besides the sons of barons got their hands on the GI Joe Aircraft character. This was the kind of toy that required its own room in your house. The dang thing was 7 1/2 feet long.
How much do you think the U.S.S. Flagg cost in 1986? To put it in perspective, in 1986 a VCR cost between $200-400 and you couldn’t even land planes on them. $1,000? $2,000? Are you ready to have your mind blown? $139.99
$139.99. That’s cheaper than a Nintendo. Sure, to a six-year-old $140 might as well be $140,000 but doesn’t that seem way too attainable? I always perceived the U.S.S. Flagg as some mythical treasure when in reality it cost less than a nice bike. Today I’m about to own a house, and I’m sure that there’s a 7 1/2 foot span somewhere to display a U.S.S. Flagg. It’s a good thing that a factory sealed one retails on eBay for only, uh, $6,995. Looks like I need to work harder on befriending some sons of barons.
Thanks for reading! I’ll be back soon-ish with another article. In the meantime, consider buying my book Eighties Baby: A Story of Childhood Told Through Stuff.