Growing up in the 80’s and early 90’s, Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars were a big part of my play time. Both lines produced a lot of really fun cars and play sets, and here are just five of my favorites from the Matchbox side of things through the years. Don’t worry, I’ll cover the Hot Wheels side of things at another time.
Matchbox Super Spin Car Wash
After a long day of play in the dirt and mud of the hills around our house, a good car wash was just what the cars and trucks needed. This car wash was kind of automatic…as in you had to get the car in the wash and then turn a crank and it would go all the way through. It featured real water jets, a foam roller “scrub” brush, and a spin dry feature. The perfect play set for getting all of your cars clean before packing them away for another day.
Matchbox Days of Thunder Cars From Hardees
In 1990, Jerry Bruckheimer’s Days of Thunder movie starring Tom Cruise hit theaters to a great reaction, and merchandise based on the movie started to flow. One of the better pieces of merchandise to come along were the replica cars from Hardees based on the stock cars from the movie. The five main cars featured in the movie were in the set, which allowed us younger viewers of the film to recreate all the action at home.
Matchbox Cars Based on the Code Red Television Show
In 1981, CBS debuted the little remembered Code Red TV Show. It featured Lorne Green as the Father of a firefighting family in Los Angeles, and the Chief of the one of the many stations in the city. The show only lasted one season, but Matchbox produced a series of cars featuring the iconic vehicles from the show. There were two fire trucks, the Chief’s car, motorcycle, fire boat, helicopter, ambulance, and police car. As a kid whose Dad was a fireman, this set was one of my absolute favorite toys to play with in the 80’s.
One of the cooler concepts that came along in the 80’s toy landscape were these Connectables cars from Matchbox. Each car was in at least two pieces, and connected in the middle. This allowed you to interchange parts of different vehicles to create all new cars and trucks to play with. There were also packs of other car parts available so you could even extend the new cars into total monstrosities if you wanted to! You could make a big rig limo, or a drag car with tank treads! With these cars, you could take your imagination and play to a whole other level.
Matchbox released a series of train cars in the early 80’s to go along with all of their already awesome car collection. There were various engines in different colors, along with box cars, passenger cars, flat cars, and cabooses. The really fun aspect of this series was you could hook any of the cars to any of the other cars, meaning you could make many different configurations with varying train cars. They weren’t exactly in scale with the rest of the line, as they were each about the size of one of their normal cars. I used to love these things! My brother and I would hook all of ours together and make an imaginary track all through the house. We could get hours and hours of fun out of these trains.
So what about you? Did you have any of these awesome Matchbox toys? Did we leave out your favorite Matchbox toy? Tell us in the comments!
Well, do you know about Cricket’s Health Care Plan?
Stick around…you will, probably in far more detail than you ever wanted to know!
It’s All Been Done Before…By Me!
If you’ve read some of my past articles, you’re aware that I wrote a few about 1980s talking dolls, specifically Teddy Ruxpin and Cricket. I’ve also written a behemoth article about a larger, more expansive collection of 1980s talking dolls. On a weirder tangent, I told you about the things that have happened involving our wonderful 1980s technology.
On a personal note, it is a topic I hold as dear to my nostalgic heart as Chicago, David Foster, Kenny Loggins, and 1980s commercials.
So you know it is important!
Come On Down To Cricket’s Care Center!
I love the interwebs for the vast amount of information, especially when you’re looking up an address. Of course, this is also a force for evil, but here nor there, folks.
Cricket’s Care Center (as I’ve assumed it to be) was a “doll hospital” center to repair Crickets who received far more love than her body can handle, located in Hamilton, Ohio (Butler County/Cinncinnati Metropolitan Area), on 2350 Pleasant Avenue.
Today, this location houses two cabinetry companies (Nours Custom Cabinetry and Calihan Custom Cabinets and Countertops) and a print shop, Access Envelope Inc.
Cricket’s Care Center was established in 1986, but I can’t find any information as to how long it remained open. It hasn’t been easy finding much information on this doll or anything about her.
If you sent the warranty card back, you received this super cool little packet, which included the shipping label you would use to send Cricket back, and a even super cooler Cricket Care Center card!
I can happily say that until I was five years old, my card was valid!
Cricket’s Health Care Plan
Lucky doll recipients received a pamphlet/folder with Cricket, called “Cricket’s Health Care Plan.”
The pamphlet/folder contained printed instructions as heard on the instruction tape, along with lovely visual aides on how to put in batteries, insert cassettes, and use the tape player buttons.
If you need to remember anything about caring for this doll, it is these three words: Carefully, Slowly, and Gently. I could make an inappropriate joke here, but I won’t. All Cricket asked was to have the batteries inserted carefully, her cassette inserted slowly, and her buttons pressed gently.
Also, comb her hair, don’t use hairspray or wash her hair, and clean her tape player!
Oh, and DO NOT leave the fast forward or blue buttons depressed. You do not want to experience what I did when I was little!
Video: Do You Know About Cricket’s Health Care Plan?
And if you’re super curious about the rest of this health care plan, and like the sound of my voice, click play below to watch my awesome video!
Uploaded by Allison Venezio / Allison’s Written Words
After all that, I really wish there was more information about the Care Center itself. But this really covers some ground.
Welcome to The Death of Super Blog Team Up. As the title indicates, this time were all looking at famous deaths of fictional characters.
I decided to go with a group that is more famous after dying than they were while living – the spooky skeletons of Disneyland’s classic ride Pirates Of The Caribbean.
When I was a kid plastic and balsa wood model kits were extremely popular. Some of the most famous sets of models were…
the Disneyland Pirates of the Caribbean sets. One of the things which made these sets so popular is that they moved. Their Zap / Action feature was powered by rubber bands.
This is my second post about these awesome models. These Pirates Of The Caribbean Models Are To Die For! was my first post about them.
This model features a skeleton who is protecting a treasure. His Zap / Action is that his arm with the pistol moves.
Hoist High The Jolly Roger
The first six of these models features skeleton pirates. The last two feature pirates who have a little more skin on their bones. This model has a peg legged pirate standing on a treasure chest and holding a Jolly Roger on a flag pole. His Zap /Action is that his arm and sword move up and down.
Here are the model pieces still in the box.
Ghost of the Treasure Guard
I saved the best model for last! The Ghost of the Treasure Guard mixes parts from Dead Men Tell No Tales and Hoist High The Jolly Roger. The result is a model where a skeletal guard defends his treasure from a peg legged pirate. This set has two Zap / Actions. The Ghost of the Treasure Guard’s arm with the pistol moves up and down. The peg leg pirate who is attacking has a sword which also moves up and down. The idea of having model where a skeleton and human pirate fight each other for a treasure is just brilliant.
Now that you’ve had your daily rations of Pirates of Caribbean vintage models…
Teddy Ruxpin may have been the first of the tape deck talking dolls, but the legion following in his storytelling lead is an amazing tale in itself. It is a tale of the literal video tape, stored in the archives of our VHS collections.
Shall we take a journey through this land of talking dolls?
(Special thanks to Retroist reader Sailor Brite for her request, which inspired this follow up to my previous article on Cricket’s instruction tape!)
“You’re My Friend…”
1980s talking dolls were a world of amazingness. Ask any talking doll owner/watcher of You Tube archives.
Though technologically dated by today’s harsh standards, talking dolls were the thing of marvel in the mid 1980s. Pop in a tape/cartridge, press a button, and a whole world unfolds. In 20 minutes, you’ll hear a few songs, laugh at a few jokes, or be lulled into sleep by a bedtime story or song. We dressed them, colored with them, and probably wanted to feed them our peanut butter and jelly sandwich. For a young child of the 1980s, a talking doll was a first friend, even if most of them couldn’t talk back, they were still company.
There were also several “squeeze to talk” dolls mixed in with the tape (audio cassette) talkers. These didn’t tell stories, but they did ask you to do stuff…like kill family members…
Talky Tina, how did you get a hold of my keyboard?!
And once you brush off the creepiness of time, these dolls (even the creepy-looking ones) really start to look amazing all over again.
Dated, but amazing.
Worlds of Wonders (And Playmates Abound!)
Worlds of Wonder and Playmates dominated the 1980s talking doll market. They were at the forefront of the cassette tape-controlled talkers. You’ve likely heard of both companies and the their other toys (and if you like this kind of history, you know what happened to Worlds of Wonder). While Ideal and Coleco also made a minor dent at the time, the dominance truly belonged to Playmates and Worlds of Wonder.
The trend took off in 1985 with Worlds of Wonder’s Teddy Ruxpin, and while he was the first, he had some amazing company. Also in good company? The amount of nostalgic ’80s kids with massive archives of amazing commercials, and the select few who take to YouTube to actually show us their still-working dolls in action.
How about we take a look at some of these marvels of robotic technology?
Uploaded by RetroStatic
Uploaded by TELEVISIONARCHIVES
Uploaded by Beta Max
Teddy Ruxpin launched the “tape talkers” trend, and the very definition of a “first friend.” Launched in 1985, Teddy had a world of storybook-and-tape stories, clothes, a cartoon, and even an octopede named Grubby as a friend.
Uploaded by Jen Wolford
He was the “best friend” for your “best friend,” but you had to own Teddy in order to operate him. I didn’t have Grubby (just Teddy), but I love watching videos of them interacting. The 1980s just feel like a whole other time when this was what we played with.
“Come dream with me tonight…let’s go to far off places…”
(By the way, I wrote about the horrifying side of Teddy Ruxpin over on my blog.)
Uploaded by Peter
No lie – I’ve had this song stuck in my head since I worked on my Cricket instruction tape article (“You and me, me and you!”).
Picture it: New Jersey, sometime in 1986. I saw a deceptively-advertised Cricket skipping along a path, I knew I wanted her for Christmas. And in December, it happened. My four-year-old heart was in love immediately. She was my “first friend” of choice, and her stories were always fun to listen and interact with. I’m not above admitting my full-out, undivided, hardcore partcipation in anything Cricket commanded.
Cricket was loads of fun until an unfortunate “traumatic event” that involved leaving the Yellow Fast Forward Button pressed overnight and this motor noise (perhaps I needed an instructional tape refresher?) that terrified my seven-year-old self. I have since hated noises that sound like the low hummings of a motor, but it may have been moreso the sound of her voice when it was obvious the batteries were drained that scared me.
Let’s just say Cricket wasn’t “Talkin’ to me” for awhile.
I did eventually play with and grew to love her all over again, but by the time I was ten years old, she was more fun for hair styling than anything (don’t worry, her hair never got cut!). She eventually went to the donation bins with other toys when I was fourteen, and I really wish I kept her.
Oh, and that “skipping” commercial? It was found, but someone butchered it…
Uploaded (and horrifyingly dubbed over!) by Jon Runnfeldt
Uploaded by Teddy Ruxpin and Friends
Ah Cricket’s little brother, one of those Good Guys dolls…
I’m just kidding, this is not Chucky. But that is the “child” voice for the “Tommy” doll that would become Chucky.
Corky was the “spin off” off Cricket, a little brother who couldn’t interact with Cricket the way Grubby could with Teddy Ruxpin. But that was ok, because he had stories and adventures all his own.
My cousin (and I think one of my friends from hgh school) had both Cricket and Corky, so I had some interaction with him in the 1980s and beyond. I see lots of You Tube comments discussing his creepiness, but he’s actually kind of cute. He would have been a welcome addition in my house.
We’ll file him under “first boyfriend” material.
Uploaded by SpacedCobraTV
“Hi, my name is Jill. And I’m alot like you, alot like you!”
Yeah, I’m the blonde equivalent of a Chucky doll, with weird moving arms and head action that scream “I’m a cuddly android”, responding to simple “yes” and “no” commands and making her “story different,” like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book on crack.
You, my friend, are NOT alot like me.
Jill was the “older sister” of Cricket and Corky (though she didn’t have any kind of connection to them in the cannon of storytelling). Also a cassette talker type (but instead with cartridges), Julie had voice recognition capabilities, and your answer had her scroll through the catridge for the appropriate answer, changing the outcome of the “story” she told.
From what I’ve seen of Jill, she’s a motormouth. She’s a (stereo)typical teenager, but wow, she was interesting. The videos of her in action are a tad creepy, but I would have had alot of fun with this doll if I had her.
And like Cricket and Teddy Ruxpin, you’ll never get her theme song unstuck from your consciousness. You can hope for it not to enter your subconscious mind, but I’ve been woken up at 3 am because that part of my brain doesn’t shutup.
But it is so catchy!
Uploaded by spinlbl
Julie was Worlds of Wonder’s equivalent of Jill. Likely younger in represented age, Julie also used cartridges and responded to voices, but also to light changes, and had a sensor in her finger that allowed her to respond to her books by touch. She seemed ahead of her time, and decidedly less creepy than Jill.
It had to be the voice.
These Worlds of Wonder commercials had such a whimsical flair (must be the narrator, he did all of these Worlds of Wonder commercials), but this one had such a “Greatest Creation Ever” flair. This doll felt like God to the guy who wanted to scream her creation from the rooftops! Just let the little girl have her!
That guy should be aware of how God Complexes start…
Uploaded by UncleCathode
Uploaded by snoopsbme
Wow, Snoopy can talk!
I had no clue a Talking Snoopy was a thing until about 10 years ago. I would have expected Charlie Brown, but Worlds of Wonder really knew how to think out of the box. Snoopy’s voice conveys an infectious energy for what he usually only thinks about.
Someone buy me a Snoopy, this is too freakin’ cute!
Uploaded by balldlocks
“Come along and join the club that’s made for you and me…”
You know the song, so why bother finishing it?
Worlds of Wonder continues on their out-of-the-box thinking by creating a talking Mickey that is more than just squeezing a tummy or hand. He tells stories and connects to Goofy with the “animation cord” that Grubby and Charlie Brown also utilized.
Uploaded by Ads “R” Us
I almost owned one of these!
My mom had mentioned one time that considered buying me Mother Goose, but decided not to. I’m wondering if this was before Iexpressed interest in Cricket. Given the choice, I would rather have Cricket for the variety of games and stories she had.
I did eventually have the opportunity to play with Mother Goose when I was in kindergarten – one of my childhood friends from my dance class owned one, and yes, she was quite impressive. Not being much of a nursery rhyme/fairy tale type probably was a bigger factor in why this was probably not the best fit for me. Looking back, I would have loved this doll, but Cricket was much more my personality.
On some level, she still is.
Uploaded by Jason Harder
Ideal tried its hand at creating a tape talker with everyone’s favorite yellow bird. My friend from high school (who also had Cricket and Corky) told me she used to hold this while watching Follow That Bird. I love this commercial and how engaged the kids playing are. I know they’re paid for their enthusiasm, but I’m sure this toy could spark that in real life too.
Wisecracking ALF told the lucky children who squeezed his tummy a one-liner from his repertoire. He didn’t need tapes or cartridges, just batteries and a kid to squeeze his tummy.
I’m sure having a cat around didn’t hurt either. :-)
Coleco also manufactured this equally short-lived “tape talker” version…
Uploaded by retrontario
I could watch his ears move all day!
Uploaded by PhakeNam
Baby Heather, much like Wisecracking ALF, was a “squeeze to talk doll.” Made by Mattel, she needed her hand squeezed, and she said all the usual baby things that only a fake baby could. No deciphering cries, no screaming to find out what was wrong with the doll, just her addressing her needs to you.
So realistic, you know. As realistic as talking Alien Life Forms from Melmac.
Uploaded by Luigi Bastardo
This is one of those commercials that I always remembered, but could never figure out the name. I am convinced my one cousin (who had Cricket and Corky) had this one too. Baby Talk is a “squeeze to talk” baby, and like Baby Heather, can tell you exactly what it needs. I distinctly remember this doll would say that she was sleepy, and close her eyes, only to completely shut off after a short time. And she was one of those dolls that you didn’t have to keep pushing the hand – she would just talk until she was sick of you and wanted to “sleep.”
This was Galoob’s effort at a talker, but I’ve never seen any “tape talkers” among their efforts.
“Your Friend, What I’d Like To Be!”
I realize there’s alot of ground covered here, but when I was focusing on the main players of the the 1980s talking doll world, it was hard to figure out who the “main players” were. It’s obvious that there was some dominance of the “cassette talker” world, but some clearly held more ground than others.
I still find it amazing that dolls like Jill and Julie exist, and that Snoopy actually had a voice! My mom told me one time that she wanted to get me Mother Goose (and looking at it from a nostalgic point of view, that would have been so cool!). I hate that I was ever afraid of Cricket when I left her in Fast Forward button limbo, because she was such a fun doll. I’d also love to have her so I can listen to her silly stories (seriously, people of You Tube, allow me to live vicariously through you and put up some of those stories!).
As for the “Squeeze” talkers, these are classics. Lower tech in nature, but still loveable in large doses, these got plenty of attention from the happy children who got to play with them.
The advancements in technology make toys like this look silly and dated by the high standards of today’s children (so nitpicky!), but for us, they truly were a world of wonder.
I’ll be talkin’ to ya…about this again. Not this, but something similar to this.
Welcome to The Death of Super Blog Team Up. As the title indicates, this time we’re all looking at famous deaths of fictional characters. I decided to go with a group that is more famous after dying than they were while living – the spooky skeletons of Disneyland’s classic ride Pirates Of The Caribbean.
When I was a kid plastic and balsa wood model kits were extremely popular. One of the most famous sets were for…
…the Disneyland Pirates of the Caribbean models. One of the things which made these sets so popular is that they moved. Their Zap / Action feature was powered by rubber bands.
For this awesome Pirates of the Caribbean models special feature we have a skeleton who is chained to a block fighting an alligator. The sword in this kit moves up and down of course.
I love this model. It features two skeletons. One is standing at the wheel steering the remains of the ship. The other skeleton pops up from a box and stabs a dagger in a map. Here are the model pieces still in the box.
Fate of the Mutineers
A skeleton has fallen into quicksand. His fellow skeleton tries to pull him out, but only succeeds in ripping off his arm. The whole time, a giant crab lurks menacingly in the background.
Here are the the parts and instructions for this model.
Freed in the Nick of Time
In this Pirates of the Caribbean model, one skeleton with a sword has to cut free a fellow skeleton before he is dragged under by a squid.
Here are the parts for this model.
Fear not, Mateys, there is more pirate treasure in your future. I found so many great photos of these spooktacular models, that I’ll be featuring more in a future post.