Christmas Past
December 23, 2009

Recently I wrote a blog about the old AD&D toy line. In the post I included a 25 year old Christmas photo that showed some of those toys under the tree. It got me thinking about how many cherished childhood playthings I actually received all those momentous December 25ths. We didn’t grow up in the lap of luxury and Mom didn’t often buy us toys on random occasions. How familiar the refrain: "Wait until Christmas!" Mom held true to her word and never once disappointed!


Thinking back on it now I’m amazed at the thoroughness and accuracy of my mom’s gift giving prowess. Should a single mother working full-time, maintaining a house and raising three children be expected to know the difference between a Sand People and a Jawa? And then track them down, wrap them up and pile them with the mountain of other carefully selected gifts under the tree? No, not really. But somehow our supermoms came through.

I asked my ma to look through all her old photos and send me any that captured toys under the Christmas tree. I’ve posted a few groupings here that, for me, brought back some of that holiday morning magic and mayhem. I’m sure many of you unwrapped similar gifts on the very same December 25ths.

Here my brother and I are getting acquainted with Godzilla, Stretch Armstrong and Stretch Monster.
Must have been 1978.

My lifelong love affair with Chewbacca seems to also have been cultivated that year. I still have that 12" Chewie with his bandolier (minus some ammo cartridges) and bowcaster (minus the cross attachment).


I almost missed the Death Star Playset box peeking in the corner of the photo below.
That gift may technically been my brothers although what’s left of it (the dianoga and trash compactor) reside in my closet at present!

I wanted to include the following photo even though it was taken at Easter and not Christmas. Basically because I don’t plan on doing an Easter blog. There are those Sand People!

Like a lot of action figure kids I also dabbled in diecast cars. Never a passion but I do remember fondly that parking garage in the first photo below. I’ve obviously opened a holy grail in the third photo.


Looks like another good year. Thanks for putting that smile on my face, Ma!

I guess some things never change, especially for a subculture like us who are stubbornly reluctant to give up the past. And, yes, Mom is still on the front lines. Somehow she still finds time to rifle through JLU pegwarmers hoping to score a new jackpot for CantinaDanny. Merry Christmas, CantinaMom!

Danny "CantinaDan" Neumann
Action figure anthropologist, Professor Cantina Dan Neumann has been a scholastic contributor to the online community studying the complex world of parumplasticus populus {little plastic people} since the turn of this millenium. His primary focus is the visual cataloging of species exhibits through photo-journalism.
Read other articles by Danny "CantinaDan" Neumann.





  • Mario says:

    Dope. My mom, & also surprisingly, the rest of my family members were also geniuses when it came to gift giving. They just always knew how to decipher cool from crap. These photos of yours take me back to some great, great times of my own. Thanks.

  • Veil1 says:

    Looks like you and I had the same taste in toys Dan. I really wish I still had that godzilla. I don’t know what my parents did with it, but the only thing wrong with it was it was missing the handle that made his fire/tongue come out.

  • chad says:

    seeing those pictures showed what memories you had and how your mother is so cool to have gone through all the trouble to make those memories not to mention that she is still around. love the godzilla and never cared for the twelve inch star wars line. merry christmas

  • Hourman says:

    We were getting the same toys for Christmas – Godzilla, Death Star, Clash of the Titans Cheron, even that Ralph McQuarrie concept-style Colonial Warror 12″ figure from the original Battlestar Galactica. As I so often like to say, I HAD THAT!

  • Lt. Clutch says:

    Man… there’s a United States of America puzzle in there that someone sent over while we were living in Spain. Talk about a flashback! It was the first U.S. map I had ever seen and the sheer number of states with funny names on them blew my mind at the time.

    Godzilla was one huge puppy! And there’s the original Han Solo blaster in the Star Wars box! The Millennium Falcon! The vinyl figure case with the pegs on the reverse side of the trays! LOL! (I really loved those.) Boba Fett & the Power Droid! (Who’s the blue guy sitting down between the Sand People? Is it Adama?) And there’s Spidey! Superman! Freakin’ Clash of the Titans Cheron! Such great variety, so much neat stuff.

    I loved it when I got figures, but I always shrugged whenever Santa left board games or puzzles at a friend or relatives’ home. I was always grateful that Santa would visit everyone who knew me and my folks, though!

    In 1981, I tried out the Hot Wheels scene and got some vehicles and a carrying case, plus the City and Service Center playsets that you could link together. The ’81 black & red Bronco 4-Wheeler was my favorite. They were fun toys, but not quite satisfying as action figures. Not by a long shot…

    And that Superman robe. I wore one just like it for Christmas in 1980, except that it had the Sesame Street gang on it. I just remembered that right now.

    Love the pictures. Love the blog. But most of all, love the memories and the fact that they still mean so much to us, so many years later. Thanks for sharing these, Dan.

  • supermom says:

    Merry Christmas!!! All these years later and still on a quest for the perfect figures! (hit the toy aisle in
    Target every week with pictures of action figures clutched in hand) Hope you like your new ones
    Santa brought!

  • Spilldog says:

    Thanks for those memories! I received many of those wonderful toys as a kid myself! What a great time to grow up!

  • […] come to notice that every time one of ourĀ  distinguished men of AFi have posted pictures of their past childhood holiday toy pictures that something has been missing from my life: namely, and similar pictures of […]

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