Looking back, growing up as a kid in the 80’s and 90’s, it was like being a part of some sort of social experiment. I saw so many trends and advances in technology. It was an over stimulating time to go through childhood. We were living in what would become the largest pop culture decade ever, from movie stars, musicians, movies, toys, games… you name it.
My generation (or perhaps the entertainment in whatever form we were given) could quite possibly be the most influential, whether you realize it or not. For example, when I was about fourteen, my stepbrother and I had this mad scientist play set called Dr. Dreadful. In a nutshell, it was this small shitty, plastic laboratory you would set up and make candy that had disgusting names. All of them escape me (comes with the territory of getting old), but basically it was some sort of taffy snot, apple sauce brains and chocolate diarrhea. Okay, that last one I made up, but you get the point. They would have these little refill packets that I would waste, nay, willingly waste all of my money on, so that I could refill that shit. It was fucking disgusting and we loved it. I use to pretend I was an actual mad scientist and make all those candies that would be gone in about two bites, by the way, and I would act like I was conducting evil experiments. I even use to play with my Dr. Dreadful Radioactive Drink Lab and play like I was Dr. Jekyll and drinking the potion turned me into Mr. Hyde. Fuck you, I was twelve-ish. Now I’m in my thirties and I still go to Toys-R-Us (cruising for chicks… that sounds wrong now that I think about it) looking for whatever NECA or Mezco toys I can find. Last winter, I look down the aisle and what do I see sitting there on the shelf, fully stocked with peg hooks with the little packets? I had to do a double take and you can goddamn guarantee that if I were drinking something, I would have done a spit take. Only weeks ago had I been talking to a friend about this exact toy and how toys were awesome when I was a youngling (something animals always call their kids in cartoons, I don’t know). Of course, Dr. Dreadful had a new pop culture spin to him: It was Dr. Dreadful’s Zombie Lab and now they have the Dr. Dreadful Alien Abduction Lab. He had a slightly new lab set up, but most of the treats were the same. Dr. Dreadful himself looked the same. I wondered what happened to him. Where had he been? When I was younger, I thought ‘maybe a superhero finally caught him for his mad experiments.’ Now as an adult, I realize he probably touched some kid’s butthole in his “laboratory” and went to jail. He survived his prison beatings, found Jesus, got released, but that was all a scam to get the parole board to release him early so that he may go back to his lab and extract revenge on the world!
Remember Creepy Crawlers? I use to make those by the dozen and have them battle my X-Men figures. Cyclops always used to optic blast the shit out them in my mind. Anyway, with Creepy Crawlers, you could make all kinds of bugs and in any of the colors they had available. One thing about them though, I thought they always smelled weird. They had like this melted rubber/plastic smell that would always bother me… if I didn’t like bugs so much. Shit, there was even a Creepy Crawlers cartoon in 1994. That’s how awesome toys were back then. Pretty much all of them came with some sort of cartoon series. So, same situation: Bombing around in the local Toys-R-Us and there it was. Creepy… fucking… Crawlers. What the hell is going on? Not only a month or two ago, I spotted an old Creepy Crawler play set in a thrift shop. Do I have some weird powers I don’t know about? Like, if I think about stuff from the 80’s and 90’s and reminisce about it enough, it comes back? That’s kinda awesome, actually. The idea behind them was the same: Just make the stinky bugs in that weird Easy Bake Oven thing. Speaking of, anyone ever burn themselves on that fucking metal oven plate thing you cooked the bugs in? Or was it just me? Also, as I was researching this, I came to discover that Creepy Crawlers had actually been first introduced in 1964! So, I imagine that my parents had the same feeling I did when I saw these not too long ago on toy shelves! And here I thought all this time we were so original in the 90’s.
These are the only two I’m really going to touch on. I know Ghostbusters figures have come back, both in the retro doll style and Matty Collector released some cool looking 5” and 12” figures based off the movies. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles seemed to have never stopped (the new figures look really good, by the way). Same thing with X-Men, Spider-Man, Batman and every other superhero. But Creepy Crawlers and Dr. Dreadful, I can honestly say I thought that I would never see them again. A part of me was angry for a moment with old man rage. Cursing the youth for having no fresh ideas and ‘raping’ my childhood. And then I thought of how stupid those thoughts are. It’s great to see these toys back on the shelves. Kids can get creative with them like I did. It gives them something else to do and there is something special about sharing something from your past with the current generation. Maybe I’m getting too nostalgic, but that’s what I do. It’s the same reason I still go to toy stores. I feel like a kid again and that’s a pretty damn nice feeling to get as you get older and seeing people get excited about the same toys you get excited about… and then reaching over them and grabbing the last Raph figure from over their head and looking into their eyes as they see them saying, “I’m older than you, bitch! Scream and you’ll get a swirly!” Too far?
So what’s next? Mad Ball’s? Monster in my Pocket? I can only hope that we see both them in local toy store soon! I will beat up kids to get my hands on all the Monster in my Pocket (I realize today, that sounds like something else). That shit is like my Pokemon. Gotta catch ’em all. Well, I’ve rambled long enough, but it’s always fun to look back at old toys and hope to see them again someday soon. Thoughts or anything you would like to see come back? Leave a comment below!