Geek Dave looks at some of toys of Christmases past that every young geek wanted under their tree...
More often than not it seems that the BIG toy of the year is something that any self respecting geek would covet. And more often than not it seems that the manufacturers of said toy are caught by surprise and there's never enough stock on the shelves in the lead up to Christmas. So let's take a look back at Christmases past, and find out if any of these were on your Christmas lists...
1992 - Thunderbirds: Tracy Island Playset
It was the BBC's fault that thousands of children up and down the country had to make do with the Blue Peter knocked-up version of Tracy Island. The broadcaster resurrected Gerry Anderson's finest hour in the lead up to the festive season, creating a massive demand and a massive shortage of official merchandise. It's probably the most famous toy shortage in UK history, but where you one of the lucky ones?
1996 - Buzz Lightyear Talking Action Figure
Coming a close second to Tracy Island, the stock availability for the Buzz Lightyear Talking Action Figure did not go "to infinity and beyond". Buzz sold out weeks in advance, spoiling Christmas for many a Toy Story fan, and prompting the makers of Toy Story 2 to add a line about the manufacturers being caught out.
1977 - Star Wars Action Figures
Going back to the 70s, and the year the manufacturers of the original Star Wars action figures were not at all prepared for the popularity of the Star Wars franchise. After Star Wars was released in 1977, toymaker Kenner quickly released a line of toys including puzzles and games. But it was the first four action figures that everyone wanted that Christmas. Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Chewbacca and R2-D2 were miniaturised to 3 3/4" size - only trouble was Kenner couldn't get them ready in time for Christmas! D'oh!!
So in an unprecedented move the toymaker, not wanting to miss out on the festive income, sold an "early bird" certificate package with an order card that could be redeemed for the four action figures. You'd basically open the card at Christmas, fill in your details, send it to Kenner and they'd mail you you the action figures when they were ready. Surprisingly it worked! But the following Christmas Kenner made sure they had a range of 12 action figures on the shelves, which flew off them at an alarming rate.
1984 - Transformers
The first range of Transformers toys were the must have gift of Christmas 1984. Hasbro adapted Transformers from two Japanese toys, Diaclones and New Microman, and released them to coincide with the animated TV series. Meaning they had their own full length commercial playing every Saturday morning to millions of children!
2006 - Doctor Who: Cyberman Voice Changer
After Doctor Who had returned with a bang it wasn't long before the first products were released. After an initial range of action-figures the manufacturers got a little more creative and produced an item which was on many a young geeks Christmas list in 2006. Prompted by the episode Rise of the Cybermen, a Cyberman Voice Changer mask was released and quickly went out of stock as kids across the country begged Santa to help them role play as the uploaded remains of a dying human!
1974 - Dungeons And Dragons
The original fantasy role-playing game was released 40 years ago, in 1974. Originally in a wood-grain box, and then in the white box above, it became the game of choice and featured on many a young schoolboy's Christmas list. The first set introduced concepts which would become standard, including abilities (such as strength, intelligence, and dexterity); character classes (fighter, magic-user, cleric) and levels; races (human, dwarf, elf, halfling); armor class; monsters and treasure; subterranean dungeons of halls, rooms, and doors replete with tricks and traps; and magic items, such as intelligent swords. If you were in at the beginning then you may well have books with creature referenced as "hobbits" and "ents", named after J. R. R. Tolkien-universe creatures. A series of legal hassles meant they were changed to "halflings" and "treants", respectively and made those early ones rise in value.
1988 - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
The Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles had first appeared in comic form back in 1984. The cartoon series began in 1987 and the following year saw the first action figures released. Produced by Playmates Toys Inc they became the number one selling toy that Christmas and helped propel Turtle-mania to a whole new level. After the release of the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie in 1990, the demand for merchandise became even more extreme and the four oversized reptiles returned to the top of the best selling toy list.
1993 - Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
In 1993 the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers were on every product imaginable, and they were the must have present for that Christmas. In America riots broke out in multiple Toys R Us stores when news broke that they would be receiving a delivery of the action figures. Parents lined up outside the doors overnight, not wanting to disappoint their children on the big day. At opening time the insane crowds pushed their way into the store to discover that each branch had received only a handful of items. Police were called, arrests were made! And just think, 99% of those toys are probably in a landfill somewhere today.
So did you have any of these geek-themed toys? Were they on your Christmas lists? Or what was the one toy you always wanted for Christmas? Let us know in the comments below...
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