Do you remember when the image above could create enough excitement in a boy to make him almost wet his Y-fronts? TV Ping Pong represented the summit of electronic game technology. Confronted with the above scene on your own television screen, kids would shout out ‘look, I can make the thing move up and down!!’. The act of controlling a rectangle on the TV was almost unbearably thrilling.
At the risk of turning into one of those people who say ‘it used to be all fields round here, you know’ or ‘that’s not proper music, that’s just noise’, I thought I’d have a little stroll down Amnesia Lane and dig out a few pictures of the toys I used to have when I was a kid in the 1970s. The fact that the recent Toy Story 3 was so poignant to so many shows how important our toys are to us when we’re children.
The ones which spring to my mind are my Six Million Dollar Man action figure (above) with weird glassy ‘bionic’ eye that you could see through by peering through an open wound in the back of the figure’s head. Hard to imagine any modern TV character becoming a hero figure whilst wearing a red, crimpolene jump suit. The television series which spawned the toy was about a man with robotic parts including legs which enabled him to run at 60mph. I never understood why, in the programme, when Steve Austin ran at 60mph it actually slowed down the film so that he looked like he was going at about the speed of a slug.
As a Star Wars fan in 1977 I also had a replica of the Death Star in which to house my figures of Han Solo with the head bitten off and Princess Leia with biro nipples drawn on. The thing cost about fifteen quid which was the equivalent of a thousand pounds in today’s money and yet was made completely out of cardboard! It took four days to construct by fitting together all the pieces and two days to utterly destroy. I think its final resting place was in the garden covered in bird turd.
I also had a hand-held Space Invaders electronic game (above, top) which was the most irritating and repetitive game ever created. And I had an Emu hand puppet which was completely unlike the TV version with nylon fur that, if it came in contact with anything warmer than body temperature would probably have erupted in an inferno of lethal flames and poisonous fumes.
And not forgetting Stretch Armstrong (above) who was a pliable plastic man who could be moulded into whatever shape you wanted. When released he would slowly resume his original size and shape, settling back into his moulded container like a sort of muscle-bound pensioner. The container was roughly his shape and the screeching, whining noise the polystyrene produced as Stretch Amstrong eased himself back into it would set your teeth on edge for days.
So there are a few of my treasured toys of the past. Seeing photos of them after all this time is like seeing pictures of friends or relatives who are long gone. How wonderful to be innocent and uncomplicated enough to get pleasure out of bits of moulded plastic and cardboard. I suppose they were more innocent and uncomplicated times, the 70s. And round here, you know, it was all fields.
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