Posted by: cordy74 | March 20, 2010

It Went “Zip” When It Moved…

Did you ever get a toy for Christmas that was nothing you had asked for, yet provided you many hours of enjoyment and entertainment? This toy may not have been the biggest one you got that year but it inevitably left a lasting impression. Recently, while listening to The Atomic Geeks podcast episode 46 (their first Christmas podcast), I started to think about some of the toys from my childhood. After a few minutes I thought of three toys that really left their marks on me (emotionally, not physically).

The first toy to come to mind was the Mighty Men & Monster Maker. I’m not going to try to re-hash the information that is already available elsewhere on this one; check out the link for a pretty good explanation of how the Monster Maker worked.

I remember playing with this thing for HOURS. For a kid who couldn’t draw a recognizable humanoid to save his life the Monster Maker was a godsend.  As I remember it, the Monster Maker gave me the tools to build the primary character in a drawing.  It was then my job to fill in the background in any fashion I chose, telling an epic story with one picture.  I enjoyed playing with it so much that I may have to look for either another one of these or the girl’s analogue, Fashion Plates, for my children.

Air Jammer Road RammerThe next unexpected, albeit much appreciated, toy to pop up from my memories was the Air Jammer Road Rammer. My cousin and I both got these on the same Christmas and I remember spending most of that afternoon racing them up and down the sidewalk behind my grandparents’ house. We could barely be bothered to come inside for lunch or to open the rest of our presents from extended family members.

The Air Jammer was a car with a built-in air tank and a separate air pump. You used the pump to pressurize the tank on the car. The air would then bleed out of the tank through the piston-powered “engine”, turning the wheels and driving the car. In retrospect I’m not certain about why this toy stood out so much in my memories. It wasn’t remote-controlled. Once you set it off it would only travel as far as the air in the tank lasted. Maybe it was the fact that I knew the batteries would never run low and the fun would last as long as you could pump air into it.

Finally we come to the whole reason for this post: The Marvelous Toy!! Unfortunately this is also the point at which I need your help. Yes. You, the reader, are going to help me. How, you ask? You are going to help me identify the third toy that made such an imprint on my memories. I remember loving this toy and spending countless hours playing with it but I cannot, for the life of me, figure out what this thing was called or find any trace of it on the internet. Let me tell you a little about it…

The purpose of The Marvelous Toy was nothing more than to make strange science fiction-esque noises. This thing was like a modern-day Theremin that required you to adjust the sounds using the controls instead of just waving your hands around it. You could use the various dials and buttons to tweak and adjust the noises it made until you had just the right sound to use as a laser gun, lightsabre, spaceship engine or whatever else your little redheaded, nerdling heart desired.

The Mysterious, Marvelous ToyDescribing the physical appearance of The Toy is kind of difficult. I remember having a lot of fun with it but just can’t form a solid picture of it in my head. I know it had a volume dial. It also had one or two other dials with which you could change the tone of the sound and the frequency with which the sound would oscillate up and down (giving you a cool OOOOOOOOO-EEEEEEEEEEE-OOOOOOOOOO-EEEEEEEEEE effect). I’m pretty sure it had some switches or buttons that did some other stuff as well. There you go: blue & orange plastic device with dials, buttons and a speaker. Oh, yeah! It was also a rectangular box-shape probably between twelve and eighteen inches long and somewhere about four inches wide and tall. I even went to the trouble of spending five minutes creating a detailed sketch of how I remember the Marvelous Toy (click the sketch to see a larger version).

Please keep in mind that I could be COMPLETELY wrong about how this thing looked.  There may not have been any slider switches or there may have been one or three dials. The stinkin’ thing might not even have been blue for all I know!

Now, can anyone tell me who made it or what it was called? Please feel free to comment on this post if you have ANY information at all on what this toy might have been.  Better yet, email me or post a comment here with the actual name of the toy, a picture or a link to some information on the internet.

Aside from the self-serving purpose of this post to have someone tell me what The Marvelous Toy was called I’d like to think of this as sort of low-tech approach to cloud computing. Instead of relying on computers to supply the data for this little project I’m relying on people. Someone out there on the internet, in the twitterverse or on Facebook is going to read this and know exactly what toy I’m talking about. I just need you readers to spread the word about this post. Email a link to this post to all your friends. Re-tweet it on twitter. Re-post it on Facebook. Do anything you have to do to get the word out there. Obviously, the more people who read this the better my chances of someone coming up with the answer I need.

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Responses

  1. Sounds like the good people over at http://www.getyourgeekon.org/ might be mentioning my quest on their podcast. It’s worth it to go check out their site and listen to their podcasts.

    I’ve also had a few re-tweets on Twitter as well as one very unhelpful suggestion (along with a picture) on Facebook as to what the toy might have been. Thanks for that suggestion, Dan. You are always there when no one needs you.

  2. Is it the “Sound Gizmo”?
    http://bentstruments.com/misc/misc.html (scroll about halfway down)

    • That’s it!! I have so many swear words I would like to say right now; in anger and in gratitude for you finding it.

      You are going to have to let me know how you did that. I must have spent several hours over the past few days searching Google and came up with nothing!

      I’m a little upset that it didn’t take longer for this to come to an end. It’s kind of anti-climactic and now I look quite the fool. Gonna have to write a follow-up post with mad props going to you!

  3. Man, I forgot all about the monster maker — I loved that thing. I should track one down for my boys, they’d dig it.

    • Let me know if you find any at a reasonable price. The MM&MM must be like gold ’cause they’re going for a mint on eBay.

      I would love to get the Maker and one of the Fashion Plates for my kids. Even though I’m sure there are programs for the computer that can do the same thing (and probably more) it just seems like there is something more creative about using the plates to make your monsters, then fill in the background. Or maybe I’m just resistant to change… I don’t even know any more.


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