Before It Was Choked On

Look, choking sucks. I don’t have to point that out, do I? And truthfully, most toys have small parts these days, and there’s a warning about them on the package. But those clickers are long gone. They blocked a toddler’s airway better than a spoonful of shellac.

The entire concept of “toy guns” has changed from my youth. In the mid-80s, a sizable percentage of Saturday morning commercials were shilling toy guns. Lazer Tag and Photon capitalized on kids’ backyard pretend battles, and for friendless children like myself, there was Captain Power, where you could shoot at your TV.

I had the evil black version. It worked as described. It totally ruled.

I still have an original Megatron, from 1984, which transforms into a fairly realistic Walther P38 pistol. I keep it as hidden as I would an actual gun. Ten years ago, I bought a Classics Megatron, which turns into an ersatz Nerf Maverick with a neon orange tip on the barrel, thanks to safety regulations. In 2016, you can’t even buy or sell that very same toy in America without problems. This is why Megatron’s classic alternate mode was rapidly phased out, and forsaken for tanks and starships.

Before the original Megatron was part of the Transformers brand, he was a Microman “Gun Robo”, and he came packed with twenty bullets. Hasbro forewent these in 1984, and the firing mechanism, to circumvent kids launching plastic death into their throats.

I brought this toy to show my mom, in the hospital. Why does that feel like a criminal confession?!? [photo: TFWiki]

My friend George gave me a King Atlas in 2003, which is a robot that turns into a bomber. Rotating the dials in the thrusters would release a succession of tiny yellow bombs that could easily be choked upon. It doesn’t help that they resemble yellow jelly beans. Needless to say, King Atlas is something of a rarity.

The bombs are visible on the wings, and crikey, my mouth’s watering just lookin’ at them. {photo: TFWiki]

In 1984, the majority of robots had spring-loaded fists; it was obligatory. I had the “Lion Force” Voltron, a gift from my loving grandparents, which came with roughly 30 chromed weapons of varying firepower. Much of the time, one lost missiles because the spring in the launcher was too tight. If you caught one in the eye (tee hee), it could do some real damage.

Funny thing; as kids, we respected this power. We were not reckless with it. If a toy hurt your palm when you shot it, then that toy took on an elevated status. If it were to be misused, it could be (worst case scenario) taken away.

I used to polish my Voltron weaponry with a chamois. I managed to accrue all three Voltrons, including the six-armed guy made out of three guys, and the vehicle one with the cars for roller skates. All the cars in vehicle Voltron had pull-back motors, the Lion heads that became hands could launch, and the six-armed one was almost all heavy die-cast metal. This is the nostalgic “toy joy” that companies are starting to catch up with again.

The “Wacky Wall Walker” was so ubiquitous, it even came with food. This was increasingly problematic.

An American inventor named Ken Hakuta created the Wacky Wall Walker. He had a TV show called Dr. Fad, which was his nickname. The coolest thing about this toy octopus was how soap and warm water cleaned the animal hair and dust off it. As soon as parents saw what it did to painted walls, the triple W was non grata.

This wasn’t a big deal, since the entire gimmick of the Wacky Wall Walker was the way it slowly descended to the floor. Cats would obliterate and consume them, which was not good for anyone involved. In my opinion, the best thing to utilize the W3 formula was Tacky Stretchoid Warriors, which I personally adored.

It’s a choking hazard bonanza!

There were even toys that encouraged kids to destroy them, like Manglors. In the commercial, they demonstrated that severed limbs could be re-attached, which I thought was complete bullshit. I knew there was no way the toy would go back to normal.

Still, wicked idea.

When I was 7, I left my Stretch Armstrong on top of the radiator by mistake, and he melted, leaking maple syrup everywhere. Speaking of toys that can hurt you, on a cold morning, a Stretch Armstrong was a battering club. You could smash a window with him. Cats would bite and claw his rubber flesh, making him look like a liposuction patient. He could not stand on his own, due to his limp feet.

Every so often Stretch nears a movie deal, but literally no one cares about a guy who can stretch, aside from porno.

It’s a choking hazard.

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