By Jesse Thompson
Sometimes it just ain?t easy growing up as a dude. Say for instance it?s 1986, and you go over to a pal?s house for a play date. (Get your minds outta the gutter.) You show up with your Wind Raider, Snake Mountain and pile of ?Masters of the Universe? toys. Your buddy gathers his as well, and that?s when he notices it ? your Evil Lyn figure. Immediately the abuse begins, and go home sobbing ?cuz Joe Henry made fun of you for the crime of owning a toy that?s a girl.
But what if he really knew your hidden toy desires? What if he knew that you had much more than a boy?s toy that happened to be a female character, but that you ? GASP ? secretly had a wish list of toys meant for, and marketed towards, the opposite cootie-infested gender?
Fellahs, we?ve all been down that road. As kids, we could all share laughs about how lame My Little Pony, Strawberry Shortcake and Barbie and her Texas compound-esque assortment of siblings were, but we still harbored a desire to possess our own Finders Keypers playset or Purr-Tenders stuffed animal. So let go of your shame as we run down the 10 girls? toys we wanted to mix with our Matt Trakkers and Men-at-Arms.
10) Easy Bake Oven
Good God a-mighty, look at those snacks! What 8-year-old scamp didn?t yearn for an endless supply of his own cookies and cakes, as the commercials for this hot-pink tease led us to believe were possible? But Hasbro could?ve made these things jet-blue with lightning bolts and Autobot logos on the side, and we still would?ve been laughed outta the neighborhood for owning one. Of course, by the time most of us got to college and basked in the ease with which we could bake our own pot brownies, the hot pink didn?t bother us so much.
9) Girl Talk Board Game
Yeah yeah, ?girls are gross? and all that, but even from an early age, all us guys wanted to know just what the hell was going on in the ladies? heads. What were thinking? What did they talk about amongst themselves? How could they possibly think the kid from Flight of the Navigator was hot?! Girl Talk was the key to unlocking the answers behind these burning questions, and so many more. So while we didn?t necessarily want to play it, we knew that by opening its box of quiz cards, we would either be granted infinite wisdom and power ? or our faces would melt off, ?Lost Ark?-style.
A boy could pull off carrying around a Pound Puppy, a Cabbage Patch kid (if given a cool name like ?Flint Pidge Witwicky?) or even a Wuzzle (hey, at least one of ?em was half-lion), but toting a ball-forming Popple around the playground took balls of solid rock. But why were we mesmerized by them? Why? WHY?! Was it just because they were akin to a soft, huggable Transformer? Was it their bright, nearly blinding pastel colors? Mattel must?ve picked up on the Y chromosome?s curiosity, as later series of these monstrosities had soccer ball and basketball alt-modes. But that modification didn?t keep us from belted by the real things by aggressive fifth-graders.
Before Pikachu was a twinkle in his Poppachu?s eye, there was another ?Gotta catch ?em all!? Japanese-import craze that drove our nation?s youth wild. Only in 1983, it was girls who were going monkey-shit mad over the Monchhichis, a bizarre simian/Smurfs hybrid that had a line of rampant PVC figures. There was everything from Monchis on motorcycles to ?Chichis on skis. And we found them ? disturbingly awesome, mainly because they were monkeys?hey, all boys love monkeys (men too, actually) so we can’t be blamed for wanting in on the monkey love. We?ll also blame both Peter Cullen and Frank Welker, who provided voices for the short-lived Hanna-Barbera animated series, for luring us in.
6) Care Bears Cloud Car
Here?s a bizarre fun fact: At the time of its release in 1985, the Care Bears Movie was the highest-grossing non-Disney animated feature of all time. That means a shitload of us boys got dragged to see this celluloid atrocity with our sisters. That also means a shitload of us saw the Cloud Car in action ? or rather inaction, as it just smiled a lot and farted rainbows. But owning one of these didn?t quite turn our stomachs; it didn?t seem outside the realm of possibility that Orko would drive one of these things. And hey, he and Tenderheart Bear would probably become fast friends, so why not have him ride shotgun? Ah, forbidden bliss.
5) Barbie & the Rockers Ken Doll
Few little boys had much of an interest in Jem & the Holograms, since they were your standard dolls, if a little more tramped up (the animated Misfits may have contributed to early signs of arousal). But Mattel was crapping their pants at the popularity of the line, so they trussed Barbie up like a Duran Duran video reject and had her form ?Barbie & the Rockers.? But it wasn?t an all-babe Bangles or Go-Go?s affair, as Ken got decked out in a silver trenchcoat, Aquanetted his hair to Guinness-level proportions, slapped on a key-tar and officially joined the band. He probably got about as much respect as Linda McCartney during her Wings days, but he was still big pimpin?.
4) Rainbow Brite?s Lurky
Piss off, ?My Buddy?; we wanna hang out with this guy! He?s the ultimate boys? stuffed toy! Look at those sneakers! Look at that schnozz! Lurky?s obviously a party animal, so we don?t know why he wasted his time hanging out with Rainbow Brite?s nemesis and trying to rain on the Color Kids? parade. Give this guy a couple of cold ones and we foresee a regular ?Frank the Tank? wearing nothing but a Color Belt (please, don?t act like you?ve never seen the show) and running naked down Rainbowland?s streets. We?ve already given him his own pickup line: ?Who wants to get herky-jerky with Lurky?? That wasn?t our rationale for wanting to own him 20-odd years ago, but it these days it sounds better than ?Ha ha, he has sneakers.?
3) Derry Daring
Who knew Evel Knievel had a sister? Lucky for us, the fine folks at Ideal Toys skirted the laws of genetics and made him one. With their line of kickass Knievel figures, vehicles and accessories raking in all kinds of dough throughout the ?70s, it was a natural move to trot out a ?She-vel? Knievel as well. What little girl wouldn?t love a female daredevil in a pink suit with her own pink cycle, pink wheelie car, pink baja camper, etc.? But since Evel had been the lone character in his action figure line for so long, all the boys were desperate for him to have someone to compare thrill-seeking notes with. Hence the need to sneak Derry into the shopping cart. We?re sure Quentin Tarantino?s making an ill-conceived film of her life story right now.
Many of us can honestly attest to Mattel?s M.U.S.C.L.E. (?Millions of unusual small creatures lurking everywhere?) changing our lives. With 200-plus characters available (not quite millions, but close enough) in a variety of colors, they were cheap, fun and had a penchant for looking utterly insane. Their female equivalent, C.U.T.I.E. (?Coolest ultra tiny individuals on Earth?) should have been a runaway success in 1986, since there were several subgroups available, from rock chicks to aerobics enthusiasts to something called ?Bitsy Babies,? but they were a massive failure; in fact, liquidated 10-packs could be found in closeout stores up until the year 2000. If we?d only had a M.U.S.C.L.E. mixer back in the day?
1) She-Ra: Princess of Power
Since Adora was established as Prince Adam/He-Man?s sister in The Secret of the Sword, owning a She-Ra figure wasn?t all that taboo; you certainly risked ridicule by your peers, but they weren?t as likely to beat the holy hell out of you on principle as we?ve seen with all of the other toys on this list. Plus, she could always be kidnapped by Hordak and then rescued by He-Man, Rio-Blast and the whole gang. Oh, and if you had She-Ra, you also had to for some reason own Bow, the one penis-wielding member of She-Ra?s posse, yet also the most feminine.
So while many of our cohorts would let a She-Ra figure slide, you?d be playing with fire when admitting to having a desire for the She-Ripoffs out there. First, Galoob had the gall to release a toy line called Golden Girl and the Guardians of the Gemstones, with a character that looked EXACTLY LIKE FUCKING SHE-RA, and they somehow didn?t get sued. Then there was Olmec, best known for creating a line of African-American G.I. Joe clones (remember Bronze Bombers?) and their own champion of Greyskull (Sun-Man, who bore a striking resemblance to Bo Jackson). They pretty much phoned it in with their She-Ra knockoff ?seriously, ?Butterfly Woman?? ? but we wanted one anyway!
It was ladies? night, and even though the feeling may have not been quite right, we couldn?t deny the Princess of Power?s forbidden fruit. Adora, you and your sisters were truly sophisticated mamas.