Ghost of Christmas Presents Past

Of course it was a thrill to get Christmas presents when I was a kid, but it was also fun to call my friends and talk about the presents. What did you get for Christmas? was the big question of the day (or the big question on the first day back to school in January).

Here are some of my favorite presents from childhood.

Stretch Armstrong was one of those toys that just asked to be tortured and what red-blooded American boy doesn’t like to abuse his toys?

I think it took about two months before my brother Matt and I finally stretched him too far. Or maybe we just poked him with scissors because the curiosity was killing us. His insides? Orange goo that was about ten times as thick and sticky as Mrs. Butterworth’s pancake syrup.

The Six Million Dollar Man was such a dope show and his doll, I mean, action figure, was cool too. He had bionic grip for, um, grabbing stuff I guess. PLUS he had bionic vision! One of his eyes had a magnifying glass in it that you looked through and you could see things that were miles away (actually you couldn’t see shit). It was great, even if it made him look like he had a weird eye cavity.

Lee “Six Million Dollar Man” Majors was so cool that he was even married to Farrah Fawcett for a while.

I sort of wish I had her “action figure” too. Then I could have made them kiss or hold hands or something.

Maybe even cooler than the Six Million Dollar Man was Big Jim. Inspired by G.I. Joe, Big Jim was a total stud and he had karate chop action that was made possible by a thumb-sized button in his back. I think he even came with little wooden (plastic) boards to break. And if you flex his arm, his bicep bulged up impressively.

Was my childhood just spent playing with miniature dudes? Gosh. Maybe it was. When I graduated from Hot Wheels tracks, I fell in love with my Evel Knievel motorcycle stunt set. You just wound up this little red platform thingy and launched him across whatever makeshift ramp you could create. He could jump over your bed, your dog, a laundry basket full of underwear, or a bunch of Pop Shoppe bottles. Evel was a iconic hero to a lot of kids growing up in the 70s.

One of the saddest days of my childhood was when I made Evel fly off a ramp into a garbage can and then for some reason forgot to get him out. But maybe my memory is faulty here. I think one of my brothers threw it away because they were mad at me about something. I had it for less than a week! Profound sadness, y’all.

Being a football fanatic, I looooved the Supertoe kicker dude. My brother and I were constantly trying to kick “the longest field goal ever” (ala clubfooted kicker Tom Dempsey) with him.

It was even better than that weird football game where the little guys would vibrate all over the field with no rhyme or reason.

Utter Chaos!

One of my first favorite bands (pre-Heart, pre-Cars, pre-Devo) was this ragtag group of Scottish popsters known as The Bay City Rollers. Talk about ear candy! I remember seeing them on the Mike Douglas show and thinking they were the most popular thing in the world. At least with teenage girls. This was one of my favorite albums at the time. Does it hold up now? Heck if I know!

Footnote: When I lived in Arkansas for a year, one of the bands I tried to start was a drum and guitar improv noise duo called The Gay City Bowlers. We never played a show.

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