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Yesterdays: Things I DIDN'T Have As A Kid

After a long absence, I'm back with another installment of Yesterdays.  This time, instead of focusing on some awesome toys I had as a kid, I'm looking back on the toys that I DIDN'T have, but really wanted.  Let's take a journey back in time and see if any of these items were on your wish list too, or if you did have them, please let me know if they lived up to all the hype my mind created for them!

Hit Stix

Now while I don't remember very much about this toy, I DO remember being super pumped when I saw the commercials. The producers did a very good job at making these things sound incredible. Supposedly, you could walk around playing "air drums" but actually produce drum sounds. Pretty cool concept. 

They were a combo of fluorescent orange and yellow, a pretty extreme and eye catching color coordination back in the early 90's. Each stick had a thin cord running from it to a sound box that you wore on a belt. All you had to do was make a striking motion in the air like you would while playing actual drums, and the sticks registered this "hit", and sent a signal to the sound box that emitted a sound as if you had just rapped a snare drum.

I wanted these things so much. I could lay around and daydream about being the coolest kid in school if I had those things. Walking through the halls, playing a radical solo, with lots of girls following me and talking about how cool I was. Sigh. Just wasn't meant to be I guess.

Lazer Tag

Lazer Tag was a pretty cool concept back in the day. It allowed you and your friends to actually hunt and stalk each other in a safe manner. You would each have a "lazer" gun, and a vest or helmet that had a sensor on it to detect when you were shot by your opponent. It was such a popular concept, that it actually spawned a short lived cartoon, and even a pro wrestler named Lazer Tron!

Now at the time this came out, my cousin and I were neighbors. We both wanted these things so we could play all day, and really amp up our games of hide and seek. The problem with this toy was the fact that it was so darn expensive. For one blaster and vest with sensor was something in the $50 range when it came out. That's expensive today for a toy, so you can imagine how it was received by my parents in the late 80's. It was a no go. Sadly, no one I knew ever owned this either, so I've never actually laid eyes on a real model or even heard stories about how well they worked.

Rock Tumbler and Chemistry Set

When I was growing up, one of the most anticipated times of the year was the release of the Sears Christmas Wish Book. It usually came out in October, and from the first day of the month on, I would get off the bus and check the mail to see if it had arrived. Once it did, kids would spend hours, days, and weeks going through each page very carefully and use it as a guide to make our own personal wish list. 

Of course the book was filled with all the latest action figures, dolls, remote controlled vehicles and the like, but it also had a page or two of more educational toys. And in these pages were a Rock Tumbler and a Chemistry Set. Each and every year, those two items would go onto my wish list, and every year I would be disappointed when they weren't under the tree.

The rock tumbler was just a simple little machine that would work it's magic and convert small stones in beautiful, rounded and polished treasure. Now in all honesty, my desire for this went beyond educational. I had pictured myself churning out these beautiful little stones and then selling them for a mint, and being rich before the age of 12. I see now that that dream was silly, but I still hold a grudge with my folks for never getting me the rock tumbler.

As for the chemistry set, I was totally sucked in by the idea of performing all kinds of experiments to see what would happen. As was the case with the rock tumbler, this never made it under the tree. I asked my parents years later why, and they said they were afraid I would mix the wrong chemicals together and cause a small explosion or something. THAT IS EXACTLY WHY I WANTED THE DARN THING!!! So in hindsight, it was probably a good idea that my folks never caved to my desires for the chemistry set.

USS Flagg Aircraft Carrier from GI Joe

This single toy was, and still is, my Holy Grail. Never was there another toy that came before GI Joe in my eyes. It was the grand daddy of 'em all. I had most of the figures, the vehicles, the playsets, the action packs, and nearly anything else tied to the GI Joe toy line. But the one thing that always eluded me was this aircraft carrier.

When fully assembled, this toy was a whopping six feet in length! That goes beyond the realm of toy, and into the realm of something more like a coffee table. It was released in 1986 with a hefty retail price of $89.95, so it was definitely not to be found in my house. My dad would have had an easier time giving birth to one than actually paying that much for a toy.

But for years I would sit and think about all the cool battles that could have been had featuring the Flagg at the center of the action. It was so big, you could have incorporated many planes and helicopters on it's deck. You could have loaded it with fifty or more figures without cramping things too much. Even while typing this, my mind is drifting away to endless assaults on Cobra Island with this thing as the center piece.

As an adult in the early 2000's, I tried again to acquire one. Searching on eBay, I found dozens of them, but none complete. The incomplete ones there were going for several hundred dollars. I actually did see one in a comic book shop one time, still sealed in it's original box, but with a price tag of $1500. If I could have ever decided which child to sell, I may have ended up with it.

But who knows, maybe one day I'll run across a good deal on a complete one and be able to purchase it. Then my friends, the battle for superiority of the bedroom will resume once more.

Thanks for taking the time to check out this latest article. If you ever had any experiences with any of these toys, then please share your comments. I'm eager to see how everyone enjoyed these things that I missed out on. 

And if you never got to read it before, check out my last article here on Retro-Daze called Yesterdays:  Foods Long Gone where I go into detail about some long gone foods that will still get your mouth watering all these years later!

Mickey Yarber is a freelance writer and lover of all things fun from our childhoods.  He has a blog where he shares childhood memories of tv shows, toys, movies, games, cartoons, food, school days, and a host of other things.  Stop by and check him out at:
How I Spent My Childhood

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kstrom22 Posted on Jul 13, 2015 at 08:18 AM

Nice article! When I was in 3rd Grade my teacher tumbled some rocks and each of the students took one home. I still have it on my shelf. Naturally, I begged for one but my parents said "no" or "wait until Easter." By the time the Easter Bunny brought it, though, I had moved on to something else.

Maybe I should go get one now!

mickyarber Posted on Jul 13, 2015 at 08:08 AM

@massreality..that's pretty cool. My younger cousin got them, and same thing happened. He tried to get into real drums, but wasn't very good, nut it got him into music. WHen the drumming didn't work out, he learned guitar instead and has done well with it in the years since.

massreality Posted on Jul 13, 2015 at 04:40 AM

I totally forgot about Hit Stix! My brother owned the Hit Stix, and they were pretty awesome. They even inspired him to get into real drumming a few years later.

mickyarber Posted on Jul 11, 2015 at 04:09 PM're right, I was quite the dreamer. Those are just the ones that I really wanted and aksed for on many occasions. There were so many more things I wanted as well. Maybe I'll have to revisit the topic and go through some more "wants" that I never got.

Hoju Koolander Posted on Jul 11, 2015 at 03:43 PM

You had good taste for a dreamer of toys. I actually owned the Laser Tag, Hit Stix and an old chemistry set, but as incomplete hand me downs.

Vaporman87 Posted on Jul 10, 2015 at 03:39 PM

@echidna: LOL. I used to believe that one day I would create a robot companion... out of cardboard. Also, I was pretty certain I could fly for just a split second whenever I jumped off the couch.

echidna64 Posted on Jul 10, 2015 at 03:33 PM

Ah one of my friends had the exact same chemistry set. I always wanted one. I believed that at age 7 I could become a mad scientist and create potions like Erkel

pikachulover Posted on Jul 10, 2015 at 06:29 AM

I never had Hit Stix either. I forgot about them for a while until I found an old tape from 1988 with a commercial for them on it. They bought up a lot of ad time. Now I can practically sing the jingle from memory.

Then I remembered kids who had them took them to the local mall and played them on things in the mall like the railings and stuff.

I wanted a rock tumbler and never got one. I also wanted a sewing machine and a small pottery wheel.

Vaporman87 Posted on Jul 10, 2015 at 03:33 AM

Ahhh... the USS Flagg. No kid I ever knew DIDN'T want that behemoth sitting in their room. I am certain I listed that one a few times on Christmas, but never got it. That and Metroplex (from Transformers).

I did own a Lazer Tag set, and let me ease your conscience by saying it did not live up to the hype. The sensor/gun combo was not very accurate or effective. There would be times when you KNEW you aimed perfectly, but a hit would not register. Of course this was early on in the technology of "laser tag" gaming, so that's to be expected.

I should also mention that in the Goldbergs episode where Adam gives up all his toys, his prized possession is, of course, the USS Flagg. Lucky Adam.

Great read Mickey! All good stuff.

Rick Ace Rhodes Posted on Jul 10, 2015 at 03:26 AM

It seems to me that no one ever had that USS Flagg play set. Every article I have ever read regarding that thing has always had the article writer saying "I wish I had that as a kid."

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