Christmas time these days always brings me back to my childhood, ripping open the shiny wrapping paper to reveal the awesome toys within. You never forget the excitement as you yank off the bow and get a peek of Optimus Prime or Cobra Commander underneath. While the toys on this list weren’t all Christmas gifts I received, it’s hard not to reminisce about my favorite action figures and playsets around the Christmas season.
I remember playing with a ton of Masters of the Universe toys as a kid, but considering my two brothers also collected the action figures, I was never sure which ones were mine or not. That was definitely not the case with Man-E-Faces, as one birthday I received 3 of the figures! A friend gave me his in the playground before my birthday party, another friend gave me a new one during my party, and I even got one on my cake, which said HAPPY BIRTHDAY AND MAN-E-MORE. I’m pretty sure I shared the wealth so that my brothers got one each.
I only remember having a few Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as a kid, even though I loved the cartoon as much as any other. I know I had the Foot Cruiser, but besides getting in trouble for opening the box on the way home, I don’t remember that toy at all. But Raphael I recall, because I even wrote a letter to
Playmates asking if there was a way to purchase replacement weapon sets. They wrote back but shot me down and Raphael went on missing his sais.
One of my favorite toys that didn’t make this list was Powermaster Optimus Prime, a fantastic figure but beat out by these others because of a terrible lack of articulation. My favorite thing to do with it though is pretend the cab was a MASK vehicle, folding it up and using the smokestacks as lasers like Rhino. But then I got Outlaw, and its base mode here was way cooler than Prime’s since it included not one but two working missile launchers (one was a grappling hook). That it came with two figures, including Miles Mayhem (even if he was wearing a different costume from his cartoon appearances) was icing on the VENOM cake.
This was genuinely one of the most mind-blowing Transformers I ever owned. Sure, there were triple-changers that had two alt modes before, but this is the first one to have two robot modes. And they were different factions, allowing the Autobot to spy on the Decepticons. The idea of spies would come up again with the awesome double Powermaster, Doubledealer, but that was hindered by his lackluster bird mode. This figure, however, had some of the best articulation of its time, and there was so much potential for fan modes - an airplane, a boat, a supercomputer – that I often added it to my MASK line-up next to Optimus.
I really loved the whole Micromaster concept - Matchbox -scaled Transformers that had their own system of transforming bases - and Countdown was the biggest of the bunch. And by bunch, I also mean of all my toys, as he even dwarfed Outlaw. I had a few other Micromaster playsets, like Countdown’s Decepticon counterpart, Skyhopper, which was half the size, and the much-enjoyed Erector. Putting them all together for a giant city was probably my favorite thing to do. No MASK connection needed.
What was your favorite Christmas gift you received as a kid? Did you get any cool toys as an adult?