Free From the Gravity That Holds the Mind: Playskool’s Star Rider

As part of this year’s holiday “festivities,” my fellow US-based Mutants have mockingly given me a couple of the toy pages from a 1979 American catalog to look at in the hope of stimulating some idiosyncratic British take on the very different world of US toys, and possibly provoking a bit of retrospective seasonal gift envy. I can almost hear them now, chortling away mirthlessly in their La-Z-Boy recliners in their respective dens, or wherever the fuck it is that North Americans go to chortle. But they won’t break me; I’m made of sterner stuff…

Platform of Dreams: A Lonely Kid Covets G.I. Joe’s U.S.S. ‘Flagg’

“Unwrapping” the G.I. Joe U.S.S. Flagg aircraft carrier playset that Kelly put under the (virtual) tree for me this Christmas is a bittersweet reminder of childhood desires scuttled. I think, even at age 10, I knew that I’d never receive this giant (seven and a half foot long!) Nimitz-class aircraft carrier that retailed for $110 in 1985 (that’s over $250 in today’s dollars). But, ahem, I did actually end up getting the Cobra Terrordrome for Christmas ’86, which retailed at about half the cost…

Giving at the Office: Palitoy’s Action Man

So this week we’re each going to talk about a toy from Christmas past that one of the other guys has figuratively “gifted” us. I volunteered Richard to be my secret Santa because I expected a gift so quintessentially representative of the forlorn British ’70s of his youth that I could simply rag on him and his homeland for a few paragraphs…

Miniaturizing the Monster: Sid Sackson’s ‘Acquire’ and the Capitalist Board Game

By Ben Schwartz

Ultra-prolific board game designer Sid Sackson made his first game when he was six years old; he militarized Uncle Wiggily, a 1916 children’s game based on a series of children’s books. In it, players race from the titular rheumatic-yet-cheerful rabbit’s house to Dr. Possum’s office, for reasons not elaborated upon in any rulebook I can find. It’s cute, in a turn-of-the-century, butterscotchy kind of way—calming, quaint, woefully unbalanced, and entirely luck-based…

Gender Roles Included: The Unreal Estate of 1980s Playsets

By J.E. Anckorn

In the 1980s, the action figure ruled the toy store shelves. Some kids were loyal to one franchise (I was a strictly My Little Pony girl, myself). Some children’s affections and parental pursestrings could stretch to several different brands, but whatever flavor of molded plastic you were hooked on, the pinnacle of aspirational toys was always the playset. These big-box behemoths offered a fantasy local where our toys…