Thursday, March 15, 2018

Stuff I bought from Toys R' Us

This week, the news about Toys R' Us has gone from bad to worse. They've been operating under a crushing amount of debt the past few years, and not too long ago they filed for bankruptcy and started closing stores. Well, it seems that just wasn't enough, and it looks like the chain will be closing for good in the near future. Someone else could come in a buy them out, but that's a longshot, and not looking very likely.

I have to admit, as sad as I am about TRU closing, I don't have much in the way of nostalgic feelings for them. The nearest store to me was over an hour away, so it's not like my folks would take me there every weekend to spend my allowance. Most of the times I ended up there, it was with my spoiled neighbor, who was almost always going to get spend a couple hours buying new Nintendo games. Whenever I would try to wander over to the action figure aisles, his mother or grandmother would tell me to stay put, and not to wander off. I would stare longingly in the direction of G.I. Joe and Thundercats, just wishing I could sneak over there for a few lousy minutes while my neighbor argued with his mom about whether he was going to get 3 or 4 new games.

Still, as infrequent as my trips to Toys R' Us have been, I still managed to pick up a few things from them over the years. Some of them were gems, others, not so much. So, here's a complete list of everything I've bought from Toys R' Us, roughly in order.

Note, I don't own any of these anymore, so I unfortunately had to use pictures from the net.

Sky Commanders Search and Rescue

I was staying in Va Beach with the spoiled neighbor at his dad's place, when he decided to take us on a trip to Toys R' Us. The main difference from all the other trips with the neighbor is that I was actually able to wander around and look at things other than Nintendo box art. Of course I made a bee-line for the action figures, eagerly awaiting the chance to get my hands on a new G.I. Joe or even a Centurions action figure. Somehow, I didn't buy either of those, instead picking out a Sky Commander. I'd never heard of these guys before, but I guess there was something about him that just caught my eye. Maybe it was the bright yellow uniform, or that lime green string on his backpack. Regardless, I had a lot of fun with this guy over the weekend, attaching him to various furniture and countertops. I eventually ended up with a few more figures and vehicles from the line, but Rex Kling here was always a personal favorite.

Inhumanoids Tendril

Honestly, I could probably just begin and end with this one, just because it was such a screaming deal, even for the time. This was bought on the same trip I found the Sky Commanders figure. It was by accident really. I certainly wasn't looking for a 2 foot tall giant green plant monster, but when I found him I couldn't say no. I remember the box being pretty rough, like it had literally been kicked around a stockroom for a couple years. I can only imagine that's why it had one of those bright orange clearance stickers for $5.00. Tendril would become one of my all-time favorite toys, and was usually the big bad that required all my other figures to team up and take him on. He even subbed in for Hedorah and fought my bootleg Godzilla figure. When a new Ultraman TV series was accompanied by action figures, Tendril was there to menace the grey and silver superhero. By the time we parted ways, I'm pretty sure he was down to one tail, and one of his arms would fall off if a housefly coughed in the vicinity. I don't want to even think about how many action figures lost their lives in battle against him.

Rock Lords Pulver-Eyes

I know everyone loves to pick on Rock Lords, but I loved the concept growing up. Really, I loved anything that transformed. You could make a toy dog that transformed into a cat, and I'd probably still love it. So it didn't bother me in the least that they only other thing these guys turned into was a rock. Really, the only thing that confuses me about this figure, is why I chose Pulver-Eyes over one I know would have liked even more, like Nuggit or Boulder. How did I turn away a gold vac-metallize figure? Pulver-Eyes was probably the oddest out of the bunch, with a face that made him look like an insect, and a pair of hips that just wouldn't lie. I mean,  look at those things. They fit right in in a rap or hip hop video about big asses.

Toy Biz X-Men Wolverine II

Next to Tendril, this figure got the most play out of any of the other ones on this list. I'd already had the first Wolverine figure released by Toy Biz, but as soon as I saw this guy hanging on the pegs, I immediately forgot about the short, stubby Wolverine. In fact, I completely forgot about all the other toys surrounding me, and immediately decided that this was the one I wanted. Even my dad, who was with me at the time, was incredulous. "You're sure? You don't want to look around a bit more? Alright..". That figure kept me occupied the entire ride home, and for several days after that. I loved that figure so much, than when I accidentally stepped on him and broke his leg, I replaced him with another one I found at a comic shop for quite a bit more money. I can honestly say I've never done that with another toy.

Comic book collector's packs

By the time I was 12 or 13 years old, I was really, really into comics. Maybe not collecting, so much as buying. I was also old enough that when I made the trip to Toys R' Us with the still spoiled neighbor,  I was allowed to walk around and browse a little bit on my own. One time, after not finding anything interesting in the toy aisles, I wandered around a bit and discovered the comic racks. They may have had individual issues, but what really caught my eye were these collector's packs. Unlike random packs of comics I'd find at the flea market,  these would actually collect all the issues from a certain storyline. Being from an area with no comic shops within an hour's drive, I was always having to depend on the local Rite-Aid or grocery store for my comic fix. I was lucky if they carried consecutive issues from one series month to month, let alone all the issues from a crossover event. Take the Fatal Attractions crossover from the X-Men books up there in that picture. I was only ever able to find one issue on the newsstand of the local A&P. None of the other stores around me carried any the other series. So when I was able to get the whole thing for less I'd pay at Rite-Aid, I was all for it. I would end up buying several of these packs over the years, with my favorite being the Death of Superman collector's pack. I think they're the reason why I'm still so enamored with comic collector's packs today.

Wetworks' Grail and Spawn Violator II

These two were the result of my last ever trip to Toys R' Us with my neighbor. Not long after this, my folks and I would pick up and move to a new house, and I'd never have to deal with him again. I was starting to feel a little uncomfortable about buying action figures at this point, but the Spawn toys looked adult enough for me to pick up and be able to save face if one of my peers caught me. Admittedly, I really didn't like most of the figures. This was around the time McFarlane toys were becoming more like semi-articulated statues, coming pre-posed in such a way that you couldn't really do much else with them.

I'm not sure what it was about these two that made me want to bring them home, but as soon as I opened up their blisters, I regretted spending the money. The figures are well sculpted and highly detailed, but they just weren't fun. I think it was around that  same point that I started thinking I was getting a little too old to be spending money on toys. That was a long car ride home, stuck with my shame, and my doubts, listening to my neighbor's grandmother fuss at me for opening the toys in the car. If I thought I could have gotten away with making her choke on that Violator, I would have risked it.

Sadly, that's it. I've been to Toys R' Us a bunch of times since that trip in 95, but I can honestly say I've never bought anything else from one. Part of it was being a broke college student becoming a broke adult, who wished that they had the money to buy action figures and still be able to afford groceries for the week. Growing older, I just turned into an adult that could afford things, but just didn't want to add more clutter to their life. Now I kind of wish I'd thrown a few more dollars their way. Sure, it probably wouldn't have helped much, but it certainly wouldn't have hurt. And it would have been nice if the last things I bought weren't so disappointing.

R.I.P Toys R' Us. Thanks for being such a magical place for other kids.


  1. That's good stuff and kudos to you for having such a great memory to recall everything you ever bought from Toys R' Us. Made for a great read.

  2. So, now that you have an outgrown toy (or better yet, a pile of outgrown toys!) where do you donate it/them?


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