When my father in-law first opened the door to the cousin's bedroom, it looked like your normal spare bedroom setup. There was a desk with an iMac, a set of book shelves and a dresser, and a large futon mattress in the floor. Since I was pretty exhausted, it took me a few seconds to notice all the relics hiding in plain sight. The excitement I felt gave me the energy to stay up at least another hour, giving me a chance to document some of the cooler stuff before I finally passed out.
If you follow me on Twitter, you saw the treasures I discovered in that room. If not, then keep reading, and get a more detailed look at my findings.
My cousin-in-law's Voltron was in pretty decent shape for a 30 year old toy that was just laying next to the bed. He was missing his weapons, but there were no broken parts that I could see. I was just happy that I was finally able to handle an honest to goodness Voltron action figure, since I had missed out on it in my youth.
My first exposure to Voltron was Show-N-Tell in Kindergarten. I don't remember who it was, but one of my classmates brought in his complete Voltron that he had gotten for Christmas. I was in awe at this thing, I'd never seen another toy like it. He showed off how it came apart, and how the limbs and torso transformed into robotic lions. After that, I couldn't focus on anything else that had been brought in. I was probably a little embarrassed to go up, because how can you follow a robot made up of five robotic lions? I kept trying to get my hands on that figure, so I could at least play with it for a bit before I had to go home, but it was not to be. Into the lucky bastard's backpack it went, never to be shown and told again.
I would eventually get my own Voltron, but it would be the shorter, non-transforming version. Obviously it wasn't as awesome as the larger gestalt figure, but in my young mind, it was just as good.
LJN WWF Wrestling Superstars
I don't know if my cousin-in-law was a huge wrestling fan, but he had a bunch of these Wrestling Superstars figures hanging out in some plastic drawers. Going by all the paint rubs and wear, it looks like someone got some use out of these guys. Even though they were made of un-articulated rubber, these figures were a ton of fun to play with. They were nigh indestructible, and if you grabbed one by the leg and threw it shruiken style, you could bowl your friend over from 30 ft away.
If the paint rubs on the other figures is any indication, I'm betting my CIL's favorite wrestler was Hulk Hogan. It looks to me like Rowdy Roddy Piper and Iron Sheik have been on the receiving end of a few thousand knee drops.
I owned exactly one LJN WWF Superstars figure, and that was Iron Sheik. I'm not sure how or why he was the only one I ended up with, but I'm betting he was on clearance. I must have had some fun with him though, because I remember him looking pretty beat up by the time I lost track of him.
This one was a real shocker, mainly because I was getting ready to lay down when I happened to see a pair of eyes staring at me. Boglins are another one of those toys that I never actually handled in my childhood, and most of what I know about them comes from Dinosaur Dracula. Honestly, I'm not sure I would have wanted one growing up. I already had My Pet Monster, and sure, he wasn't a puppet, but he was pretty huge. And, if I'm being honest with myself, he wasn't as creepy looking as the little rubbery hand monsters. I'm not sure which came first, these guys or the Ghoulies, but the similarity was enough that I wouldn't have wanted them hanging out in my toy box, waiting for the opportunity to scare the hell out of me. I'm just now realizing they look like they're related to Belial from Basket Case. Yeah, screw that. I definitely wouldn't have put up with Boglins in my bedroom.
Boglins were definitely meant with kid's hands in mind. Trying to get the thing to make new faces usually ended with my fingers causing weird bulges in the creature's rubber skin. Trying to work the eyes at the same time just reaffirms my belief that my fingers are stupid, and I'm lucky I can hold a spoon. The best I could do was move the eyes back and forth, making the Boglin look like he suspicious of being followed, or he wasn't quite sure if the people next to him picked up on the fact he farted.
Hasbro G.I. Joes and Remco American Defense
Looking through this box of random G.I. Joe figures, it was obvious they had been well loved and played with. Nearly all of them had wiggly legs and loose arms, and a couple had separated at the waist. That tends to happen with figures held together with 30 year old rubber O-rings. The only one with any real breakage was the Motor Viper, who was missing part of one arm. For some strange reason, there were 5 Crimson Guard Commanders (2 Tomax and 3 Xamot) in the lot. I'm wondering if that may have been a case of miscommunication around Christmas time or a birthday. Maybe a relative didn't touch base with my CIL's parents before picking up a gift. Or, maybe he just really liked those guys. They were certainly some of my favorites growing up.
It seemed like everyone that had a bunch of G.I. Joes had some The Corps! or Remco American Defense figures mixed in with them, and my cousin's collection was no exception. For some reason, it seemed like I only got knockoff figures from relatives that I rarely saw. I used to wonder if they lived in some bizarro world where those were the top quality figures. Or, maybe they didn't want to spring for that extra dollar to buy a gift for a nephew they only saw every 4 years.
Kenner Star Wars
The real gem of my cousin's collection was his assortment of Star Wars figuress. When I first saw the box for the AT-AT, I figured there was no way the toy was still in there. When I looked in the box and saw the body, I knew it had to be in pieces. After I pulled it out and set it up, I was dumbstruck by how amazing it looked. As far as I could tell, everything was still there. It didn't walk, due to dead batteries I'm sure, but it still brought back a flood of memories. I actually had one of these growing up. It was part of an epic yard sale my mom and I stopped at, the kind of sale I wish for these days. It looked like someone was selling off all their toys, and I'm pretty sure we ended up with 3/4 of it all for less than $50. Part of the haul was a well used AT-AT. It was missing the side door and battery cover, but it was still cooler than most of the G.I. Joe vehicles I owned at the time.
I popped open a Rubbermaid tote next to the bed, and discovered more Star Wars vehicles, this time the remains of a Y-Wing, an AT-ST, and a couple of broken down speeder bikes. Like the G.I. Joe vehicles, these were well worn, and missing most of their pieces. Digging past those plastic wrecks, I discovered that clear plastic box full of figures. It looked like most of the figures were from the Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi eras. Since my cousin-in-law just turned 40 this year, I'm willing to bet that these were some of his first action figures. Next to the AT-AT, my favorite piece is Jabba the Hutt. You didn't just get an action figure when you bought him, you got a whole playset. Sure, the Rancor couldn't fit under him, but that's what your imagination was for. That's why I always set Jabba up on the couch, and had the Rancor lurking around on the floor. I'm still kicking myself for not gathering up the pieces and setting Jabba up on one of the bookshelves. I bet all the younger kids would have loved that.
There was a great mix of figures, with all of the Ewok figures from ROTJ, as well as Emperor Palpatine and Squid Head. If I had to pick favorites from this group, it would have to be Bespin Han, Yoda, and the Emperor's Royal Guard. I bet I could have a lot of fun with just those three. Surprisingly, the Star Wars figures were all in great shape compared to the G.I. Joes. Many still had their accessories in their hands, and if not, it was somewhere in the box. The same goes for any missing capes. They definitely look like they were well cared for. Even C-3PO had all of his chrome. I'm not sure how one manages to do that, but I bet it involves some sort of Faustian deal.
There was a lot more hiding in that room, but it would have taken me most of the next day to document all of it. I was happy just to be able to see a small slice of someone else's childhood, and it was fun trying to imagine the scenarios and stories they would come up with. At least Chelsea's cousin has a few nephews, so there's a good chance these figures are still seeing use 30 years later.
I really hope that's the case, because there's nothing worse than a toy that doesn't get played with.