Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas '92

Time has yet again passed me by, and here we are one day away from Christmas. That's okay, because I have something that will hopefully make up for all the days I've missed this month. Let's go back in time exactly 25 years, to Christmas morning of 1992.

As you'll see from the photos, there's no way anyone in my family would have been confused for a professional photographer. Or even an amateur photographer for that matter. Though my mom loved to take photos of family moments, the most she usually had to work with was a cheap 110 camera. Things weren't always in focus, or even in frame, so don't expect crystal clear shots of me holding up the video game I just opened.

Also, before you say a word about my shirt or my pants, remember that I was 11, and it was the 90's.

Meccano Erector Set

I remember being so excited by this one before I unwrapped it. The package was crazy heavy, and as any kid knows, heavy means expensive. You can't tell it from my face, but the excitement faded slightly when I tore off the wrapping. If you're not familiar with Meccano's Erector sets, think LEGO for kids that were gluttons for punishment. Whereas LEGO pieces would just snap together, you had to use actual nuts and bolts to connect Erector pieces. I think this was one of the larger sets available at the time, offering enough pieces to build several of the models at once. I had aspirations of building bridges big enough to drive over and planes that could transport all my G.I. Joes, but I'm pretty sure I only got through a couple of the models on the box before I realized how time consuming each one was.

Meccano even made a small electric screwdriver that in theory could be used to speed things up a bit. Even with that, assembling some of the larger models still felt like a full time job. I'm a little ashamed to admit that the box eventually ended up being stashed in the closet, along with all the board games I didn't play. LEGO was just more fun and admittedly a lot easier, so of course I picked that over the metal mess that was Erector. It's a shame I didn't stick with it. I could have had a lucrative career as a high rise construction worker.

Plastic Gumball Filled Crayon Bank

I've never really understood the fascination with crayon shaped things that aren't actually crayons. If you've ever looked through a Sears Wish Book, then you've undoubtedly come across those crayon shaped aquariums. I'm sure there were some fascinated by them, but I was always too focused on the latest action figures and video games to even consider putting one of them on my Christmas list. Besides, I'd already had goldfish years earlier and that ended horribly. I wasn't about to repeat that mistake again.

So, I was a little happy to see that the clear crayon shaped tube that I pulled out of that fancy wrapping paper was full of huge gumballs. I mean, it's not like it was full of Rain-Blo brand gumballs, but when you're a kid on a limited budget, you don't complain about who made your candy.  I remember it taking me a long time to finish off all those gumballs. We're talking years here. They were starting to get a little stale toward the end there, but I didn't let a single one go to waste.

The tube had a slot in the top so it could be used as a bank when it was empty, but I'm sure I probably just used it to hold pens, or as a space jail for some of my action figures. Regardless, it was better than having to dump a dead goldfish from it after having forgotten to change its water for a month.

Console Stereo

This was one of my "big" gifts this year. I couldn't tell you the brand or the specs, but I still loved the hell out of this stereo. It was probably the nicest piece of anything in my room, hell, maybe even the house. It reminded me of those fancy stereo systems I saw in 80's flicks apartments, with its wood grain cabinetry and "towering" speakers. I listened to a lot of cassettes on that thing, and eventually started recording songs off the radio. Once I learned that a strip of scotch tape in the right place would enable me to record over a cassette, most of my Teddy Ruxpin tapes became mixtape fodder. One random night, I managed to pick up the audio from a television station I'd never heard of, and I was able to record an entire episode of Married With Children. Sadly it never happened again, and I just chalked it up to one of those weird quirks of the universe.

As much as I loved waiting for my favorite songs to come on the radio so I could hurriedly push the record button, the real magic happened when I learned I could run the audio from my SNES or Genesis through the stereo's speakers. Woo boy..No longer did I have to settle for the tinny sounds spewed forth from mono speaker on my TV. Now I could have my ears blasted by machine gun fire while I was saving the world from Russians, aliens, etc..Even if half the speakers were fake, it still sounded world's better than what I was used to.  I may have been playing video games, but playing them in front of this stereo made me feel like an adult.

Nintendo Super Scope 

I didn't get an NES until the system had been out for a couple of years, so I figured on having the same wait for an SNES. I had been hyped for it ever since trying out Super Mario World at a Toys R Us kiosk. I'm pretty sure it was at the top of my Christmas list that year, even though I figured it was the longest of long shots. I didn't get an NES until it had already been out a couple of years, so I had resigned myself to having to play the SNES at my stingy neighbor's house. Imagine my shock Christmas morning, when I tore off the wrapping paper and saw "Super Nintendo" in that futuristic font on the front. I imagine that was the last gift my folks handed me, because I would have been too excited to play to be able to focus on opening any other presents.

Much like the NES, the SNES had a few different peripherals released over its lifespan. The Super Scope might not get much love from other folks, but it was one of my favorite accessories. The gun itself was shaped like a futuristic laser bazooka, and it was braced on one shoulder while you sighted through the scope. It was wireless except for the sensor that needed to be plugged into the SNES. Power was provided by enough AA batteries to power a small car, but at least they seemed to last forever. Since it was a glorified light gun, pretty much all the games released for it had the same objectives: shoot stuff before it could shoot you. I only ever had the included Super Scope 6 game pak, but I still had a ton of fun with it. I used to play that game so much my arms would cramp up. I think I came pretty close to giving myself a case of carpal tunnel. Eventually the novel wore off, and it ended up in the closet with all the other forgotten toys.

Man, I must have had a really big closet..

Harrington and Richardson .410 shotgun

This was probably the biggest gift I received in '92. My mom handed me a small, heavy square box, and when I pulled off the wrapper and saw it was shotgun shells, I thought she had made a mistake. My dad owned a couple of guns, so I figured she had just mixed up the labels. Then my dad, looking at me with that toothless grin of his, set down another heavy box, this one long and rectangular. I tore off the wrapping paper, opened up the plain cardboard box, and saw this blue steel and wooden stocked beauty lying there. Much like Ralphie with his Red Ryder, I had visions of hiking the trails with my trusty gun in hand, just waiting for the chance to bag a deer and stock up our freezer for the winter. Of course, my parents laid down the ground rules about the gun, bring me back down to Earth, and squashing my dreams of conquest over the deer population.

Eventually I was able to convince my dad to take me outside to try out the gun. We propped up a piece of plywood, stapled a sheet of paper to it, and stepped back a few feet.  My dad showed me how to load the shotgun, close it up tight, and cock it. I was still pretty small back then, so it was pretty hard for me to hold it steady. I lined the little bead sight up with the sheet of paper, and finally pulled the trigger. The gun kicked into my shoulder, and I was ecstatic to find dozens of tiny little holes in the paper. It was simultaneously exciting and frightening.

That little gun accompanied me on a bunch of hunting trips, before I eventually upgraded to a pump action model. I never actually shot anything living with it, which is probably for the best since I don't know that it would have been powerful enough to actually do the job. Still, it made me happy to know that my folks actually trusted me and thought I was responsible enough to own an instrument of death and destruction. It was an extremely inefficient instrument of death and destruction, but still..

So, I hope you've enjoyed going on this little trip down memory lane with me. If nothing else, you got to see me when I was at the height of my fashion sense.

Merry Christmas to you all, and have a Happy New Year!


  1. Merry Christmas!

    That's a great Christmas haul. I probably got my SNES in 1992 as well, along with Mario Paint. I'm probably a bit younger than you, though, so the only gun I received in 1992 was the Eliminator TS-7.

    1. Oh man, I remember playing with the TS-7 at some point. I can't remember if it was at a store or someone's house, but I was seriously jealous.

  2. I was 20 in 1992 but that didnt stop me from getting a few cool toybiz Xmen for christmas.

    1. Lucky you!
      I was starting to get into Toy Biz X-men around that time too, but I don't think I ever got any for X-mas. In fact, I don't remember getting many action figures for Christmas once the 90's rolled around. I guess my folks figured I would just use my allowance to get the ones I wanted, and saved the bigger stuff for holidays and birthdays.

  3. I was 15 and was most likely doing my gaming on a Genesis as well as transitioning into the world of weed,coffee and cigarettes.Glorious times!

    1. I think I was late getting into the Genesis. In fact, I don't think I got mine until Easter of '93. I know it was supposed to be more powerful, but I found I always preferred games on the SNES.

      I missed out on the weed, but I'm definitely a fiend for coffee.

  4. Great memories and awesome nostalgic pictures, thanks for sharing!

    The Christmas gift from the past that I remember the most was Home Alone 2 for the NES, Christmas of '92, I was 7 years old. Man that game was weird, and tough! I played it a lot though. We always got consoles at random times, never on a birthday or holiday. My Mom would buy us consoles, the NES, SNES, and Sega Genesis, then she would get rid of them a few months later. I managed to hold onto the N64, since I was old enough to hold a job and start buying my own games. I bought the Gamecube as a teen and it was the last console I bought for a long time, until my wife asked for a Nintendo Switch. Sorry, I rambled on!

    1. Ouch, why would your mom get rid of the consoles? Seems like a waste of money.

      The one console I remember getting randomly was my Genesis. I know Easter's considered a major holiday for some, but a Genesis seems like a bit much to get.

      How do you like the Switch so far?


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