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Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Techie Tuesday: Boomer Toys

"...odds are you won't live to see tomorrow, Secret Agent man" Posted by Hello

Children today have many toys that transform themselves from monster vehicles into robots for justice. When I was child we had toys that were just as intricate and unfolded into clever devices. We had cameras that that turned into pistols. We had brief cases that turned into rifles. The gadgets seen in James Bond films, or The Man from Uncle series, showed up on toy store shelves and under Christmas trees. It was a foreshadowing of commercial tie-ins to come.

To jog your memory visit Boomer Baby's virtual toy store for playthings you (or your parents) haven't seen in ages. This was before advocates argued that certain toys were dangerous and had harmful consequences. It was before product liability suits. It was before you could rob a bank with a water pistol, or the police shot kids carrying toy replicas of automatic weapons.

There were toys like the Secret Sam Attache Case
that wouldn't be allowed on any airline today. It had a knife (made of rubber) that slid out of the case. It became a periscope. You could assemble the assassin's rifle to shoot your siblings. Also it could be booby-trapped with with live-fire caps .

For those who didn't like to play 'Cowboys and Indians' there were Jungle Warfare toys from the Monkey division
In 1963, young boys, in their never-ending battle against whomever, called and Remco answered with the Monkey Division line of stylish weaponry and accessories including 2 different bazookas and a mortar. Look at all this stuff!

• Monkey Gun - Pistol, Tommy Gun and Grenade Launcher
• Monkey Pistol - different than above
• 2-Way Wrist Radios - another way for Remco to use up its unending supply of radio boards
• Helmet with Movable Visor - comes with mock built in radio and antenna
• Jungle Mortar with Pillbox Target - lob 4 shells at a cardboard pillbox
• Long Range Bazooka - lob 3 rockets at a cardboard pillbox
• Short Range Bazooka - shoots 2 rockets 20 ft
• Jungle Combat Patrol Outfit - (Here we go!) Bazooka, Helmet, Mess Kit, Wakie Talkies and Canteen
• Mess Kit
• Walkie-Talkies

There were many generic military toys made in the '60s, (even Mattel and Marx made weapons and accessories for small soldiers) but the Monkey Division line is among the most sought after by toy collectors today.

Nothing like training children for war. I played war in the jungle behind me school in 1970. The zone was perfect with its razor grass and sandy soil. We would fill up the beer cans we found with sand and call them hand grenades, lobbing them into the air while yelling, "Incoming." That was until my friend Marcus Dove (ironic name, that) was struck in the back of the head and driven face first into the ground by a two-pound hand-thrown missile. Luckily, he didn't have to go to the hospital, but he sure cried a lot.

We stopped playing war after that. Maybe it was we were of an age beginning to understand the consequences of pretend violence. Or it was that Vietnam was taking its toll and it reached our pre-adolescent brains. I'd like to think it was we found out girls were the cool thing and we made war no more.