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The Things We've Lost

By: onipar

By Anthony J. Rapino

Time is a starving thing. With every hour, every month and year, time devours our memories. It feeds on our youth. Try as I might, holding on becomes harder with every cycle of seasons. A lost memory isn’t like a set of keys, forgotten in the other room and easily retrieved. There’s no going back for what we’ve lost.

Unless that memory is tied to a totem.

I’m a collector for a lot of reasons, but the foremost is because the things I save hold within them parts of my life, like a mosquito suspended in a chunk of amber. When I play Willow on the NES, when I display a particular Halloween blow mold, when I place a special ornament on the Christmas tree, memories flood back. For a moment, I’m immortal. For a split second, I can visit the past.

Unfortunately, as I’ve fled the chomping jaws of time, things were lost. Sometimes they vanish. Sometimes they’re sold. Sometimes they are borrowed and never returned. We all have those items from our childhoods we wish we still owned. Things that are tied to memories we desire to hold in our hands one more time.

What follows are the most prominent of my lost treasures.

 

The Omega Virus. (1992). Board game from Milton Bradley.

Status: Vanished without a trace.

The Omega Virus was one of those board games that had a lot of bellas and whistles. For a kid obsessed with video games, I was infinitely amused by the electronic elements of this board game. The Omega Virus used a battery operated, talking base that declared instructions and counted down to events as you played.

I received this gift sometime in 1993, and it quickly became one of my favorites to play with friends due to the interactive elements. My neighborhood buddies would pile into the air conditioning for a game on hot summer days, when riding our bikes was too sweaty a job.

About a decade ago, I was reminded of the game and searched my storage to no avail. Obviously, some foul beast sneaked into my home under cover of night and spirited my beloved boardgame away.

Making matters worse (as is always the case it seems), this game happens to be fairly collectible, and nearly impossible to buy complete and working for less than $100 on eBay.

 

Spinjas. (1988). Spinning top game from Tomy.

Status: Vanished without a trace.

This is another entry in the “who stole my stuff?” category. These tiny spinning gladiators where another favorite of my youth. They came in a set of two launchers and two fighters inside a case that doubled as a tiny arena. I also owned the deluxe battle stadium, which held numerous fighters and gave them more space to spin.

As with the last entry, these toys are highly sought after and go for hundreds on eBay, which means I will never own them again. Also like the previous entry, these toys vanished from my possession at some obscure point in the past. All that remains is a single Spinja fighter who managed to escape the clutches of time.

 

Genesis and Games. (1988). Video game console from Sega.

Status: Sold by my brother at a yard sale.

After years with the Nintendo Entertainment System, I jumped ship for the Genesis. I had begged my parents for this system, and one blessed day, as an elementary school graduation gift, my Dad surprised me with it. (This would also turn out to be the last console I owned until I got back into gaming with the PlayStation 3 many years later).

At some point in my high school years, I lost interest in video games, and my brother took the opportunity to sell off all that “unused junk” at a yard sale. It was around this same time he sold all of our Nintendo games too. Ah, the folly of youth.

Luckily, I started collecting retro video games before prices went insane, and I was able to reclaim everything I lost (and then some).

 

??? (Early ‘80s)

Status: A vague memory lost to time

In the early ‘80s, when I was still quite young, my dad came home with a set of rubber/plastic dragons. While most of the details are lost, I remember one of these creatures having two or three heads. There may have been humanoid figures as well, but I can’t remember. They might have been based on some fantasy show, or perhaps they were just one of a million generic toys sold in corner stores.

Of all the categories of lost things I’ve written about, this is the hardest. Not only is the memory barely there, but I don’t even know what toys these were, which means I can never reclaim them. Gone forever are both the memories and the totems.

 

A Retro-Daze Success Story

Status: Reclaimed and remembered!

One of my favorite things to do is rediscover things I used to own that I don’t remember until I see the item again. Earlier this year, I was exploring the background of a photo from my childhood (one I’ve used in articles before), when I noticed an NES game lurking half-exposed.

The photo was too blurry to make out, so I posted it on the Retro-Daze Discord server, where our very own That Dude figured out it was a copy of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom! Needless to say, a couple weeks later I had it (and Fester’s Quest, which was also in the picture) in my possession.

What are some of your lost items from childhood that you would like to reclaim?

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onipar Posted on Aug 11, 2021 at 01:58 AM

Thanks, echidna64! I've used that pic a couple times now, but I'm always finding something new in it I want to talk about. Like those cases of Micro Machines behind me. I still have those! I need to write about that one day too.

echidna64 Posted on Aug 09, 2021 at 07:09 PM

Great idea for an article and that is an awesome picture of you as a 90's kid.

onipar Posted on Aug 09, 2021 at 02:48 PM

@TWCFAN92 Ah, that's the hardest thing, when our own memories betray us. Your search sounds a lot like things I've done in the past to find lost things. I'll probably write an article about my search for a letter I wrote to a comic book in the 90s.

The grey box thing sounds so familiar to me too. I'm going to think on it a while. It does feel like it could be a car type toy. Like maybe a little track with cars inside.

twcfan92 Posted on Aug 09, 2021 at 05:50 AM

There's a toy that I've spent the last few years looking for with no leads. Which isn't too surprising considering that I only remember a few details. I got it for Christmas from my mom in 1989. It was my favorite present that year, and I remember taking it with me when we went to my grandparent's house later to celebrate Christmas with them.

Anyway, whatever it was was in a grey box that looked like a briefcase. It had a white, plastic handle. What was inside? I have no idea! I believe it had something to do with cars, but that's just a good guess.

I've done several Google searches. I also purchased and reviewed the Sears, JCPenney, Service Merchandise, and Radio Shack Christmas catalogs from that year. Nothing! At least nothing that made me think "that COULD be it." So it probably came from a local store that went out of business years ago. Damn.

I did, however, find all of the Micro Machine light-up buildings and cars we got that year, but those were fairly easy to find.

Vaporman87 Posted on Aug 09, 2021 at 01:26 AM

Ahh man… that sucks about the college film. Who knows what might have been on it. More games to identify?

onipar Posted on Aug 07, 2021 at 10:24 PM

@ Ben, Thanks! It's funny because it sounds like you and your brother had a similar age gap as me and mine. In 1994 I was 14, and Mike would have been 11. I vaguely remembering him enjoying the game, but maybe being a little impatient with it.

Benjanime Posted on Aug 07, 2021 at 03:39 PM

i feel like the omega virus was a board game that my older brother would have liked, in his early teens he was in this phase of buying action figures of robots and aliens among having posters in his room of them as well. i'm sure if i wasn't fueled by sugar candy back then i would have joined in with playing anyway. interesting to see some other obscure oddities here as well, i would have loved the spinjas! great article!

onipar Posted on Aug 07, 2021 at 03:29 PM

@Vaporman, ah lost footage/pictures are always an incredible find. When you finally get to see the contents of those tapes, it will be a glorious day! I recently had a roll of film developed that I'd had since college, but the film was all but destroyed unfortunately.

I have another story that fits into this category pretty well...maybe a future article.

Vaporman87 Posted on Aug 07, 2021 at 03:47 AM

What a great idea for an article! Man, there are a wealth of things I’d like to have back.

I still have cassette tapes that were meant to be used with the PXL2000, a low end video camera from Fisher-Price. It was my first video camera, and the video quality was black and white and pretty terrible. The version I got came with a small black and white TV that you could connect the camera to watch your videos. If I can find one online to buy someday, I can find out what is on those tapes. It would be the first time seeing their contents in over 3 decades.

Other items I wish I still had… my Radio Shack Armatron, my programmable Big Trak, and my entire collection of Stomper vehicles and playset. There are several stuffed animals I wish I still had as well.

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