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Archive for the ‘Toys – Dolls and Action Figures’ Category

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Troll Dolls

Posted by Big Boo on January 19th, 2011

TrollsTroll dolls may not have been an invention of the Eighties, but they certainly enjoyed one of their many comeback periods during the decade. Over the years Trolls have been made by many toy manufacturers, so it’s hard to know who actually owns the rights to them, or indeed if anybody actually does.

The typical Troll is normal made from plastic, is around 15cm tall, and has a pot belly and a cheeky, cute-yet-still-disturbingly-ugly face, and a shock of brightly coloured fluffy hair that shoots vertically out of the top of its head. Since the toys often have subtly different facial features or different coloured hair depending on the manufacturer, Trolls are one of those toys that people like to collect, and the company that made them is often irrelevant.

Trolls have gone under many names, including Good Luck Trolls, Treasure Trolls, Gonks, Wishniks and Dam Dolls, but it is the latter which can claim to be the original name for them. The toys started off humbly enough, when in 1959 Thomas Dam, a Danish fisherman and woodcutter made a carved wooden doll for his daughter’s Christmas present. When other children saw the doll, they wanted one too, and so Thomas started making them and selling them locally.

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Posted by Big Boo on September 20th, 2010

ZoidsZoids were a range of mechanical robot toys from the mid eighties created by Japanese toy company Tomy. Given Japan’s liking for all things robotic, it comes as a bit of a surprise that when the toys were originally launched in Japan in 1982, under the name Mechabonica, they failed to take off.

It wasn’t until the toys were renamed Zoids and released in the US and Europe a couple of years later that they became popular, prompting a far more successful relaunch in Japan.

Unlike other robot toys like Transformers, the Zoids needed to be assembled before they could be played with, which meant if you had more than one set you could potentially make your own designs. They also came with motorised parts, so your completed model could even be made to walk.

Most of the original Zoids kits resembled dinosaurs such as the Tyrannosaurus Rex, Stegosaurus or other prehistoric animals such as the Sabre Tooth Tiger, rather than the perhaps more expected tanks and airplanes.

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Posted by Big Boo on September 10th, 2010

PopplesIt’s the mid 1980’s and in the world of boys toys Transformers is currently big news. Seeing this great new trend the toy manufacturers started to wonder how they could take this idea and apply it to something that little girls might be more interested in playing with. The result of this curiosity was Popples.

Popples were soft teddy bear like toys that came in a range of bright lurid colours, which in some cases made them look as though they had been made by someone’s Mum using some oddments of fur fabric that were left overs from some other sewing project. Their bodies were furry and they had a shock of fluffy hair on the top of their heads. They also had a long thin tail with a pom-pom like end.

So far so ordinary, so where did the Transformers influence come in? Well, the back of the toy had a big pouch on it. You could push the body of the toy into this pouch so that only the head popped out the top and it looked like it was sat in a little furry sleeping bag.

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Cabbage Patch Kids Koosas

Posted by Big Boo on July 9th, 2010

Cabbage Patch Kids KoosaThe Cabbage Patch Kid doll was one of the biggest toy lines of the 1980’s, despite the fact most adults thought they looked more ugly than cute. Kids loved them though, and they were a much sought after item for Christmas in 1983, the year of their launch.

Whilst Cabbage Patch Kids were still at the height of their fame, it was decided to expand the Cabbage Patch family into the animal kingdom, and so along came the Koosa. These were, if I remember correctly, marketed as pets for the Cabbage Patch Kids.

The main selling point of the original dolls was that each doll was unique, and this concept was carried across to the Koosas. The Koosas came in various fur colours with different head hair styles and different colour eyes. They were also notionally different types of animals, with some looking more like cats, some like dogs and some like bears, but whatever they looked like they were all officially referred to as just Koosas.

My sister had one (she named it Kandy Koosa) to accompany her Cabbage Patch Kid (Melissa Missy, if you’re interested), which I seem to recall looked fairly similar to the one in the above image. Being the good older brother that I am, I used to provide voices for both these dolls during car journeys and other times of boredom, which I’m sure my Mum and Dad found highly irritating…

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Stocking Fillers - Suppliers to Father Christmas
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Clip Ons

Posted by Big Boo on March 8th, 2010

clip on toysToday’s post is all about a toy which my sister collected when we were kids. We always referred to them as Clip Ons, though whether they went by any other name I no longer recall. The basic Clip On was a little furry toy that had two arms that clasped together. When you pressed on the shoulders the arms opened and the toy could then be clipped on to other narrow objects.

Clip Ons came in all sorts of guises, and my sister’s collection was extensive. Some were just little animals like rabbits or bears in various colours (be they realistic looking greys and browns or brightly coloured variations), but you could also get pretty much anything you care to think of.

Whilst some were fairly generic, such as clowns, dolls, snowmen or Father Christmas, others were created in the form of well known cartoon characters. Amongst my sister’s collection she had Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles, The Get Along Gang, E.T. and many more. In total she had around 130 of them, surprisingly no two of which were the same.

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Posted by Big Boo on February 22nd, 2010

transformersIt was the mid eighties (1984 to be precise) when Transformers toys first appeared in toy shops across the world, and they’ve stuck around ever since, becoming one of the most popular toy lines ever.

I distinctly remember them arriving, and whilst I never have actually owned one of the toys, I really really wanted to. The reason I didn’t was because I was around secondary school starting age when they appeared, so I felt that they were perhaps a little too childish for me to ask for. That and the fact that computers had become “my thing” so all my pocket money and present requests tended to be directed in that area.

Transformers didn’t actually start off with that name however. The original toys were made by Japanese company Takara and were actually part of two different ranges known as Diaclone and Microman. The almighty Hasbro saw these toys and immediately snapped them up, combining both series and rebranding them as the Transformers. Thus the courageous Autobots and the dastardly Decepticons were born.

Whoever came up with the original idea for these toys was surely a genius. These were two toys in one, the first being a mighty warrior robot, the second being an object of some other kind. Primarily these other objects were normally vehicles, with the Autobots tending to become cars or other wheeled vehicles, whilst the Decepticons were airplanes. That said, Megatron, the leader of the Decepticons, turned into a pistol!

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Stick On Garfields

Posted by Big Boo on February 3rd, 2010

stick on garfieldToday’s post is about another one of those strange fads that seem to come out of nowhere and are popular for a short time before everybody suddenly finds the idea ironic and ridiculous.

Adding a little something extra to your car to personalise it a bit has always been popular. In the seventies it was those “TREVOR and TRACY” visors for the front windscreen, or perhaps a pair of fluffy dice, whilst these days it tends to be neon strips or those weird spinning hub cap things. Not sure which of those looked worse to be honest…

In the eighties though one of the crazes for decorating your car was to have a Garfield soft toy with those suction cup thingies on each of the arms and legs stuck in your rear window. I think this craze must have originated in the US, where Jim Davis’ Garfield cartoon strip is far more popular, since I don’t remember knowing who Garfield was when these toys first appeared in the UK.

It didn’t matter though that people didn’t know who Garfield was. It was fairly obvious he was a cat and for most people that was probably enough.

So when did this craze die out? I don’t know exactly, but it was probably about the time people realised that the suction cups were rubbish and that Garfield normally spent most of his time rolling around on the back seat and floor of the car, picking up lint and dirt on the suction cups which then made them even worse as a method of attaching a soft toy to a piece of glass.

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Posted by Big Boo on January 13th, 2010

weeblesWeebles wobble but they don’t fall down!

So went the advertising jingle for Weebles, and a truer word has never been said. With their rounded bottoms are slightly odd appearance, Weebles always managed to return to a standing position no matter what you did with them. I guess it was possible to carefully make some of them stand on their heads, but that’s a hand stand, not falling down!

The original Weebles toys first appeared in the early 1970’s and were made by Airfix. These Weebles were basically egg shaped, with a coloured bottom and the top half made in an almost flesh like pinky colour with moulded on details such as arms and face. They normally also had hair or a hat which was a different colour to the base and body.

For some reason though the eyes were two little holes in the plastic. Look at the face as an adult and they feel a little disturbing, staring into your very soul with their blank expression. Funnily enough though, as a child I don’t remember them seeming scary at all. Maybe I’ve watched too many tacky horror films about murderous toys that come to life?

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