Saturday, 17 August 2013

Waxing Nostalgic

My wife and I both grew up in the same neighbourhood, even though we didn't meet until junior high (when we were coincidentally both living in the same different neighbourhood).  My wife Shannon would talk about "the ravine", an area in the old neighbourhood that I was sure I remembered too.  I wanted to go back and visit this ravine - and take some old-school figures for some outdoor pictures.  It took about 4 years, but we finally got around to going back to the ol' stompin' grounds.  Not only did we visit the ravine, but we also stopped by our old houses, playgrounds, etc.  Here's some random slices of my childhood, comin' at ya!


Ah, #632.  This is the house I was born in.  Well, I wasn't actually born inside this house, but this was the first house I ever lived in.  I was probably 3 years old when we moved, but I still have memories here.  I know I was already a Star Wars fan, and I can remember my dad pretending to appear to me as a Jedi spirit and tell me to do things.  He's refer to me as Lucas (my middle name) because it was closer to Luke, and say things like "Lucas...  Lucas...  Clean up your toys....".  I also remember rolling around nearly naked on a sheet of fibreglass here.  That's probably the itchiest I've ever been.  Then there was the neighbour lady who I only ever saw wearing underwear.  She'd even go outside like that.  That doesn't happen anymore.  Hell, I don't know how common that would have been back in the early 80's when it happened.


Now THIS is where my childhood really started.  Not only can I remember a lot of the toys I had back then, but I can still remember what I played with them.  It was in this house that I got my first G.I. Joe, my first Ninja Turtle, and my first Alpha Bots  (which I would go on to collect many years later).  Back in these days my heroes were He-Man, Lion-O, Mr. T, Hulk Hogan, and the Silverhawks.  And back then, no one made me laugh harder than Ernest P. Worrell, and nobody scared me more than Large Marge from Pee Wee's Big Adventure.  I remember sneaking out of my room at night to watch that movie on TV, only to run away terrified at THIS scene:

You know in those old cartoons when someone gets so scared that their spirit jumps out of their body and then the body runs away leaving the spirit to catch up?  That's exactly what happened to me.  In my memory, I can see myself running away in the dark.  So I guess that's a real thing.

Visionaries is another cartoon and toy line I remember fondly.

As a kid, I was pretty prone to cracking my head open (I had stitches to my head 3 times before I was ten).  The third time I got stitches was after watching the G.I. Joe Movie.  As soon as it ended, my brother Alexander and I jumped up to reenact the scene where Sgt. Slaughter has his big battle with Nemesis Enforcer.  I got to play Nemesis Enforcer (naturally), and when it came time to get thrown down that hole like in the movie, I leaped from the couch...  And into the wooden frame of the other couch! Headfirst!  So that's how I got my Nemesis Enforcer scar.

Back then you didn't need a lot of figures to play things right.  Remember The Battle For Endor?  That made for TV ewok movie featuring Wilford Brimley?  I still have vivid memories of me and Alexander recreating scenes from that movie using Teebo as Wicket and General Madine as Wilford Brimely.  It didn't matter to us that these figures really looked nothing like the characters they were playing, that's just how we rolled, dog!


I remember being into Star Wars way back in our #632 house, but I don't think I started getting any figures until we lived in #56.  If memory serves me right, the first Star Wars figure I ever got was the vintage Lando Calrissian in Skiff Guard Disguise.  The thing is, I'm pretty sure he was given to me loose.  I can remember my dad and my brother coming home one day, and they said there was a guy selling Star Wars toys down by the park.  Now, you would be safe to assume they went to a garage sale, but in my mind there was something like a stand or a kiosk set up in the field by the park selling Star Wars toys.  Obviously I never went to this mysterious Star Wars Stand, but I can still picture in my mind where I thought it was.

The Star Wars Stand would have probably been around here, had it actually existed.  This field was so much bigger in my memory...

And of course, I couldn't pass up the chance to play on the old playground.  Well, this isn't the same playground that was here when I was a kid, but it's standing on the same spot, so it's close enough.  I can remember riding my Mr. T Big Wheel down the old slide that used to be here.  I'm lucky to be alive, especially given my head-cracking ways!

I had a friend who lived across the street from me named Chris.  Me and Chris used to be huge Ghostbusters fans.  In fact, we were into them so much, I can remember at his birthday party one year his mom pulled us aside and said "No Ghostbusters!".  I don't know what the big deal was, but I can only assume we were so into them we wouldn't let the other kids at the party play.  I have an old video of me and Chris playing outside one winter, and he's bringing me a chunk of snow while saying, "Here Slimer, it's your birthday!".  So we must have been playing Ghostbusters pretty constantly.  Oh yeah!  I also remember us trying to figure out why Winston looked different than the other Ghostbusters.  We decided he must be a ghost.  I have an actual Ghost Winston Minimate now, so I made sure I brought it along when we visited the old street.

This is also the house I was living in when I discovered the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  These two boys just rang our doorbell one day and asked if  we wanted to buy these two figures.  I had never seen them before, and my parents bought them for us.  We got Michelangelo for me, and Raphael for my brother.  I can remember breaking Alexander's Raph while trying to transform him back into a turtle, but Mikey was around for a long time!


I remember sending away for a mail-order Superman cape, and I took it as a given fact that when the cape showed up in the mail and I put it on, I would be able to fly just like Superman.  I had this vision of me opening the package, putting on the cape, and then flying down the street to where my mom was talking to a friend.  I'd say, "Hi Mom, my cape came!" and fly away again.  It was going to be glorious!

This is the street I would have flown down when my Superman cape came in the mail.  It was not meant to be.

When the cape finally arrived, it was much less glorious.  It was a piece of soft, thin plastic, and I remember putting it on and going down the street to where my friend Erin lived.  I stepped into her house, showed her the cape, and watched her excitedly run down the hall with the half of the cape she had grabbed to show her mom, while I stood there in horror with the other half of the cape.  It took 6-8 weeks to arrive (which is an eternity for a kid) and lasted about five minutes.  Erin's mom taped the cape back together, but it was never the same.  You can't fly with a cape that's held together with tape right down the middle!  The dream was dead.

This street is also wear I learned how to ride a bike.  One day I was going for a ride with Rattlor in hand, when in true snake-like fashion he slithered from my grip.  He bounced and skidded on the street, and was forever left with giant brown nipples.  As it happens, I still have that Rattlor.  As far as I could tell, the spot where he's standing in the following pic is roughly the same spot where he obtained his nipples.

How about a good memory to finish up with #56!  I remember flipping through some catalogue one day and coming across the DC Super Powers Hawkman figure.  I had never seen him before, but he was so cool with his wings and his mace.  I ran to show my mom, who told me to go take a look in the hutch.  I went and took a look in the hutch... and Hawkman was in there waiting for me!  How did Mom know?  She always did get me like no one else.


Our journey finally brought us to the ravine!  Or at least the place where I thought the ravine was.  Turns out this wasn't the ravine.  Shannon's ravine was much, much bigger.  My so-called ravine was more like a pit.  A pit with trees in it.  It was still part of my childhood, though, so we went on in.  I'm not sure if I actually went into the pit when I was a kid.  I seem to remember thinking that this was where all the teenagers hung out and did drugs and stuff.  I don't know if that was true, but even going back now made feel a little nervous.  I'm not even lying when I say I was crossing my fingers that no teenagers would come and steal my toys!  Luckily no one else was down there and I was able to take some outdoor toy pics.


He-Man.  Skeletor.  Ram Man.  Man-E-Faces.  There were so many cool Masters Of The Universe characters to choose from, who would want to pretend they were Jitsu?  Well, apparently I did.  I remember this one time I wore an oversized winter glove all through dinner, because I was Jitsu.  My dad said, "Zach, come for dinner", and I said, "I'm Jitsu!".  Without a second thought, my dad replied, "Well Jitsu, would you like to join us for dinner?".  Normally Jitsu doesn't sit down for a home cooked supper with a nice family, but Jitsu was hungry.  So he joined them.

Look at me!  I'm Jitsu!

I had intended to only bring Tri-Klops when I originally planned on going to the ravine, so I made sure to bring him now.  Here he is in the Pit With Trees in It.


These rocks are in a field across the street from the ravine.  I'm not sure what these rocks are supposed to be, but they've been here forever.  They're kind of like our own Stone Henge!

These strange rocks also have strange holes in them.  I'm not about to look into a bunch of strange holes!  Superman did.

Now, where my ravine was more of a pit with trees in it, Shannon's ravine was the real deal!  There's a bunch of trees in her ravine too, but there's also a nice path you can take down into it (where mine was more of a beaten trail), and there's a new wooden walkway that takes you along a tiny creek.  It's not even a creek.  It's a crick.

Ram Man in the crick.

The wooden walkway went on longer than we expected, so there were lots of chances for outdoor figure pics.

Mordles don't really have anything to do with my childhood, I just thought they'd make for some nice pics outside.  Though I guess they do kind of remind me of Boglins...

I used to play Star Wars with another kid who lived across the street from me in #56, and this guy had a lot of toys.  Neither one of us knew who Zuckuss was though, so we used him as the leader of the Sand People.  He'd go on to become my favorite Star Wars character.

No 80's childhood would be complete without Battle Beasts!

I can remember playing a game one time where Beast Man was the hero.  All I really remember is climbing onto the fence in the backyard and feeling like I was at the top of the world.  Beast Man would use his whip to swing from place to place...  But I don't think he did anything beyond that.  I guess he wasn't really much of a hero after all.

Panthro was always my favorite Thundercat, and I consider his original toy the first figure I ever had.

When I was a kid my uncle gave me an old Spaulding hockey helmet.  It was red on the outside with blue padding on the inside, and it had a sticker of Darth Vader on the front of it.  I was convinced that when I put it on, I looked just like Vader.

Rattlor always was a sensitive guy - even more so after the infamous "nipple incident".

Well, there's some random slices of my childhood.  Hopefully it wasn't too random and hard to follow, but then again, childhood is kind of like that.  At the very least, it should help show where my love of toys comes from.


  1. Though I didn't share the spaces you were in, I shared the toys, the open spaces, the open spaces with toys in them, being Ghostbusters, and getting the shit scared out of me by Large Marge (and when that guy ate the fake gum and bled BLACKNESS from his mouth). Only other thing I didn't share was a brother who was interested in the same things I was, so you're lucky in that respect!

  2. Well, both of my brother's are interested in similar things, if not the same things. Alexander is really into anime and manga, and occasionally gets some statues to display in his house. Marcel prefers video games and comic books, and I guess he's board games as well. I'm the only one who's REALLY into figures, but I'm into them enough for all three of us. :)