There is a place more terrifying than the Bermuda Triangle, more mysterious than the pyramids of Egypt, and more baffling than the crowd at a Michael Jackson memorial tribute. This place has plagued generations of toy lovers, and continues to be an ongoing, though not often explored, conundrum in all of our pasts. I’m speaking, of course, about the Portal of Lost Toys. That mystical place where so many toys have gone, never to be heard from again, leaving broken hearts all over the world.
Memories. As ‘Blade Runner’ and Barbara Streisand have made very clear, they aren’t always what they used to be. Now I apparently have a capacity for retaining tiny, useless bits of information that most mere mortals either can’t, or have no interest in trying to. Because of this, I can remember birthdays and Christmases and their respective gifts like they happened last week. I also have a nostalgia gene the size of Jupiter, so I’ve kept a lot of the precious goodies I’ve been given over the years, knowing that someday they’d go to any children I might have. (Or not, maybe I’ll just keep them for myself). What I’m getting at is, I’m very sure about the fate of the items you’re going to read about.
But something happened, I’m not sure when, and an entire catalog of items seems to have been wiped clean from this planet and my life. Seriously, one day they were there, and the next-poof!- they were gone. I have researched this, and come up with no solid answer for their whereabouts. However, considering my only source of information on the subject is my mother, well, let’s just say that ‘In Search Of…” can keep the file open on this one.
Now, before I go any further, let me make something very clear. I love my mother, I think she’s one of the greatest people that ever lived. We were a middle class family, never really financially ‘strapped’, but we couldn’t have just anything and everything we wanted. I was always grateful for what I got, and my mother was amazing at actually keeping track of what I already had and what I wanted or needed. She’s actually saved some of the old Christmas lists I made, asking for Boba Fett dolls and Han Solo guns and the like, god knows what she must have been thinking whilst scouring the toy aisles. She made me appreciate what I had, and also made me clean it all up and put it away when I was done with it. So, mom, you’re probably why I’m so anal retentive about all my DVDs, CDs, books and such to this day. And also why I never lost a single action figure accessory.
However, one day, I THINK, she must have decided to round up a bunch of stuff she thought I wasn’t playing with or didn’t appreciate any more, and brought it somewhere to drop off. There’s no other explanation. I didn’t realize this stuff was gone til well after the fact, and to this day when I make mention of it (in a sarcastic way to razz her), I get a “Jason, I have no idea, I was very busy trying to keep a household together and pay bills, I don’t know where the hell Rom the damn robot went. Stop asking me”. I’m sure many of you out there have similar stories, but the following is just a smattering of what went missing:
SHOGUN WARRIOR- DRAGUN. Man oh man!! I LOVED this thing, and played with it every day for what seemed like years. He was awesome, about three feet tall, had a disc shooter that you could strap to your OWN wrist (!!!) and his other arm shot axes clear across the room. I never got any of the other large scale figures, but I got a die cast saucer and another small die cast figure, who’s name I’ve forgotten. But the Dragun large size figure was the coolest. Best of all, he worked with ANY other action figures to do battle with, so I had characters from all universes trying to take him down. I even kept the box, and would pretend that that was his lair and put him to rest when the battles were over. (sigh) Dragun, where are you????
REMCO UTILITY BELTS- Remember these? Cheesy, cheap, fell apart if you sneezed on them. But damn, I thought they were cool. I had the ones made for ‘Star Trek’, ‘Buck Rogers’ (with futuristic shades!!), and Spider Man. The belts never really fit, because they were crappy plastic and usually stuck in the oval shape they were packaged in, but the accessories were cool. I remember losing a belt or two, but used to keep the accessories in a plastic bag. Which…..has……gone…..missing…..
BULLET MAN DOLL- Who the hell was this guy, anyway? Was he part of the G.I. Joe gang? An Action Man offshoot? Well, it didn’t really matter, because he had shiny silver arms and a helmet!! The coolest thing about him, were his boots. They were red, and rubber, and cooler than anything MEGO ever came up with for their heroes. He came with a string and device of some kind that he could slide down. Again, I didn’t care about that as much as his shiny silver parts. He fought lots of other characters too, but alas, has gone into the Portal some years ago, never to shine in daylight again.
MEGOS- Who hasn’t got a missing batch of Mego figures from somewhere in their past? I never had a huge amount of Mego toys, but what I had I played with incessantly. The ‘Star Trek’ Enterprise play set and most of the crew, the ‘Planet of the Apes’ tree house thing and various monkeys, several DC and Marvel Super Heroes, and for some reason, the ‘Wizard of Oz’ figures and castle. Outside of the last batch, the rest of those got plenty of attention, sometimes even crossing over into each other’s time streams. But how they all managed to get rounded up and leave the house at what seems to have been the very same time, is still a complete mystery.
EMERGENCY!- Ok so this one didn’t exactly break my heart, but I loved those Gage and DeSoto figures. LJN did a Mego-like rip off for these, with similar articulation and cloth outfits. And no, I didn’t have a Fireman’s helmet to wear when I played with them. (But I do now).
STAR TREK WHIRLIBIRD- Do you remember the Whirlibird? Super cool helicopter thingy that swung on an arm, and you could hook pieces up with it and bring it in for a landing? Is it there in your mind yet? Good. Well, now imagine it as the Starship Enterprise, picking up space supplies and the Galileo Shuttle. Has your mind been blown now?? Good, because now you may feel just a pin prick amount of the pain in my soul.
STAR WARS- Alright, now here’s where the mysteries of the Portal become especially strange. Now I KNOW, for a fact, that I ate, slept and drank ‘Star Wars’ from ’77-’80, and still have absolutely everything I ever got relating to the film from that period, including the cardboard sleeve to the Early Bird kit and it’s stickers and ID card! (So there!). So why on earth any SW items would disappear into the mist is beyond me, but sure enough, I’m blatantly missing several pieces from that glorious time: the ‘Land of the Jawas’ and ‘Cantina’ play sets. Admittedly I wasn’t too keen on the former, but the cantina got lots of use, as I’d have Han Solo gun down most of it’s denizens on a weekly basis. Wherefore art thou, o plastic and cardboard backgrounded gems??
STAR BIRD- Star ‘What’, I hear you say?? Well to you I say, ‘How dare you , sir.” Star Bird was hands down, one of the top five Christmas presents I ever got. I seem to remember a really cool commercial for it, and dropping several hints so I’d get it under the tree. It was an original design, by Mattel I think, and was made to cash in on the Sci Fi craze of the late 70’s. As I’ve mentioned before in this blog, I loved all the Sci Fi stuff from back then, but one of the things that always got under my 9 year old collar, was the fact that when there was a ‘laser’ sound effect from the ship or gun, it never sounded like the lasers in the movies. They always sounded like a dull whirring sound, and usually had a tiny red light representing the actual ‘laser’. Well, Star Bird was different, and made a truly kick ass laser blast sound, with TWO red lights that flashed when active. You held the ship by it’s ‘neck’, and when you tilted it upwards, it made an accelerating sound, and when you held it downwards it did the opposite. The little fighter ships on the wings detached, and the cockpit detached as well, making a totally new, separate ship. It was the coolest ship in the fleet, and it too has flown straight into that Portal of Lost Toys, most likely laser blasting it’s way to it’s own doom.
As you can probably tell, these are wounds that are still not completely healed. Every now and again, late at night, I find myself looking through listings on ebay, tempted to try and get those pieces back into my possession. But I’m kidding myself, they’re not THE pieces, the ones that I played with and obsessed over non stop all those years ago. And maybe that’s just it, maybe it’s time to let them go once and for all. Some things are better left as mysteries, to be enjoyed from the distance that time brings to all things. Besides, it could be that the Portal is not to be messed with. Perhaps it’s pull is so powerful, that it could start taking things I own NOW, just to make a point. Nah, I don’t think so. I’m going to keep looking, Portal be damned. So if you or anyone you know happens to know where any of this stuff is, please, get in touch. No questions will be asked, and no judgments will be made. You’ll be doing a good thing, and just may be helping to solve one of the greatest mysteries man has ever been haunted by.