Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mini Monsters

As I look back on my massive toy collection, I am surprised by the number of toys I had and didn’t have growing up.  But another favorite of mine was the “Mini Monsters” collection with the play case. I have loved doing this research seeking toys from the seventies era because it has reconnected me to some of my most prized toys growing up.
I have forgotten about so many of these, it’s just nice to flashback and view these all over again. This was one toy that I played with constantly and I remember Dracula was the only one I had left out of that collection as I grew older.

Monster Machine

Here is another toy that I did not own but one of my friends owned, "Monster Machine". I remember making one or two of these monsters back in the day. Once again, I do not recall why I didn’t own this one either; it was right up my alley. But at least I had a friend that had one to play with at the time.
The “Monster Machine”roto-cast toy by Gabriel .You would fill the mold with the instant plaster, and clamp it into the roto-cast machine then crank until it sets. This gives a hollow plaster head that can be turned into a bank with the addition of a slot. Five molds include Frankenstein's Monster, Bigfoot, Hornagor, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Galaxogg this was from 1977.

Mighty Mo Cannon

One toy that was very interesting was the “Mighty Mo Cannon”; this was purchased from a flea market. It was used and it only had one canon ball with it. I do not recall it how the cannon operated but I do remember how much fun it was to shoot that cannon ball from it. I searched every garage sale and flea market for other cannon balls but never found any more.
This cannon was from 1963 and it measured 27" long.  It needed no batteries. It featured a breech loading & spring action remote control firing.  To operate you had to open the breech door, remove cartridge and place cannon ball on rod, push down with plunger. Load the cartridge into breech (there is a tab that matches the slot), Close the door. Cannon is ready to fire by remote control or manually.  The spring action remote is held on by two screws, one on each side, if that is broken the cannon can still be fired by pressing the button. Cannon can also be elevated or lowered in different positions.


I loved the game of “Perfection”, I remember playing this game with my family and friends. It was highly entertaining. I remember we played it so much that the time eventually broke but that was after years of owning it.
The idea behind the game was to put all the pieces into matching holes on the board (pushed down) before the time limit runs out. When time runs out, the board springs up, causing all or at least many of the pieces to fly out. In the most common version, there are 25 pieces to be placed within 60 seconds.

Creepy Crawlers

This was one toy that I wished I had growing up; it was called “Creepy Crawlers”. I do not recall why I did not own more toys like this but maybe it had to do with the price of the toy when it was new or maybe I already had so many other toys that this one was not needed.Even though, I did not own this toy, one of my friends did and I actually got to stay the night at his house and make different types of these creepy crawlers.

Thimble City

“Thimble City” was a magnetic city where people and cars moved like magic. I bought this used from a garage sale and it did not have the people with the set. But I loved the fact that it was a city with streets and buildings you could put down on it. I do not recall getting the cars either, but my “Hot Wheel”cars worked great. Later on, other types of these cities surfaced and this one became a city of the past. 

Jet Disc Tracer Gun

As a kid growing up, you play games such a “Cowboys & Indians”, “Cops & Robbers” and “War”. There are several ways to plays these games. But one of the best ways to play these games was with the “Jet Disc Tracer Gun”, these actually shot little discs out and they would shot them pretty far. This was when you shot someone, you could see the disc hit them and knowing this, they were out of commission.
I cannot recall how many of this little plastic discs went missing around several yards and nearby woods around our neighborhood. I do not even know how many guns, I had but I do know that we bought many packs of discs; sometimes we could hunt and find the ones we shot do their colors. We would get a hundred in the pack and buy two or three packs for back up.
These discs were safe to shot at one another without any one being hurt. These were great to even shot at random stuff around the neighborhood. But thinking now, its crazy to think about them many of these discs we left on the ground.

Magic Shot Shooting Gallery

This was another game that I loved to play was the “Magic Shot Gallery”, it was purchased from a flea market and it was not in the best shape but it worked very well. The gun had a magnetic tip which is used to drag one of the 25 steel balls up the plastic face of the toy. Pulling the trigger pushes the ball at one of the 12 targets. The biggest problem with this toy is that the plastic face gets mighty scratched up by dragging the gun against it for each shot. My plastic face was not bad until the very end and then it was pitched.

Sea Diver

I do not recall much about this toy from Parker Brothers called “Sea Diver”. But I remember it was not a new toy, it was bought from a garage sale and I do recall it missing a part or two. I did not get this toy until much later, it surfaced in 1973 but it had to be close to 1979 before I got my hands on it. I do not even remember how it worked, even after reading the history behind the toy. I only used this toy a few times and grew bored with it rather quickly.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Bumpershot, I remember how much I loved to play this game. I purchased the game from a garage sale and it was in mint shape. It was still in the original box in came in, the only date I found online was 1973. I bought this game several years later. I remember the box and all. I could not believe it when I found it online. It looked identical one I had. This is not much history behind this toy but I had great times playing this game with my friends.

Super Jock

This was another toy that was picked up from a garage sale, called “Super Jock”. It was Super Touch Basketball, you would aim the basketball player and hit his head and he would shoot the basketball in the basketball. I do not recall playing very much with this toy, the first few days; I was non stop shooting the baskets.  This was another item that was mint shape, it was around the 1979 era and there were several types of the athletes to choose from but I only had the basketball player.

The Rats Hole, Daytona Beach

One place that I remember going when I was younger was over in Daytona Beach called “The Rat’s Hole”. I was so fascinated with these place, it had all sorts of neat stuff from a guy name “Big Daddy” Ed Roth, he was an artist and cartoonist who created the hot-rod icon Rat Fink and other extreme characters.  This store was inspired from all his Rat Fink art work, I loved the grotesque caricatures that were typified by Rat Fink and they  were depicting imaginative, out-sized monstrosities driving representations of the hot rods that he and his contemporaries built.
I remember buying a couple of patches with these caricatures driving hopped up hot rods. This was really the only thing my parents allowed me to buy when I was in the store. I remember seeing all the shirts and posters that he created, it was not a store a small kid should have probably been in at the time, I remember see some very seedy people roaming through this store.
I remember how much I loved that crazy art work and each time, we went to Daytona Beach, I wanted to go there. I remember seeing or touching something once that lead me out of that store and never returning again. I cannot remember what it was but my parents were yelling something at me and each other which ushering me out the door.
I would have never guessed how much of a real icon “Big Daddy” Ed Roth was back then until much later on when I older and could see his impact on the art world. He was and still legendary.

Friday, January 7, 2011


When I was growing up the only sport that I liked to watch was wrestling. I grew up watching “NWA” Championship Wrestling Of Florida and at the time, I did not know it was fake. It all seemed real to me along with all the blood and story lines to follow, I was hooked. My father turned me onto it; he used to watch it as a kid growing up and knew some of the older wrestlers that were soon to be fading away because of their age. Some of these guys are still associated with wrestling today and still wrestling.
I watched wrestling for a number of years, but this era was to me the best. I am sure it was because of the close bond they all shared as I look back on it and discovered these guys were all friends behind the scene. I started actually going to see the matches live at the “Eddie Graham Sports Stadium” and this is when my passion for wrestling grew even stronger. I was actually seeing the guys that I watched when I was young; wrestle right in front of me, there was the blood, sweat and tears. This was going on every single Sunday night. This was huge, seeing the real live matches, from the barb wire matches to the cowbell match to the cage match. This was not like watching it on T.V., this was the real deal and sometimes these guys would get into the audience watching them and fight.
I later discovered that they would all meet at the local bar down the road from the stadium and hang out; this is when I discovered the bond they all shared when the show was over. I also started seeing how fake wrestling was from a broader spectrum.  Even though this guys were face to face in matches beyond belief when the lights when out, they shared beers with one another. I did not care if it was fake, it is a highly physical sport and not every person could handle performing to this caliber every single night.
I had many favorite wrestlers from this era; my favorite was the “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes.  But as time grew and new wrestlers emerged, it changed, but Dusty was still my all time favorite. He had something about him that just made him stand out. He had this jive smack talk they would just make you laugh and his moves were just the same way. He was for sure a, bleeder. Almost every match he was in, there was blood. But he was electrifying in that ring; he made you want to watch him.
Here is a short list of wrestlers that were loved and hated. Kevin Sullivan, Abdullah The Butcher, Blackjack Mulligan, Kendo Nagasaki, The Road Warriors, Harley Race, Ric Flair, Barry Windham, Superstar Billy Graham, Chief Wahoo McDaniel, Bugsy McGraw, Ronnie Garvin, The Freebirds, Outlaw Ron Bass, Arn and Ole Anderson, The Assassin, Brusier Brody, Billy Jack, Scott Mcgee, Magnum T.A.,Terry and Dory Funk Jr, Sweet Brown Sugar, Don Muraco,  The Super Destroyer, Dick Slater, Rocky Johnson, Ernie Ladd, Thunderbolt Paterson, Black Bart, Midnight Rider, Yellowdog and The Sheik . The wrestling commentator was Gordon Solie.
Thinking back to those days of wrestling and how wrapped up as a kid in their world is amazing. My friends and I followed every wrestler along with each story line; we would even square on in my front yard against one another and use our water hose squared off as the ring. What a great memory.

Mighty Mouse

"Here I come to save the day!" was the popular saying from “Mighty Mouse”.  I remember watching this show every single morning.  I cannot remember one episode now but I remember back how much I loved watching that flying mouse. I watched the black and white ones and then they changed he over to color.
Mighty Mouse was Mighty Mouse originally had a blue costume with a red cape, like Superman, but over time this outfit changed to a yellow costume with a red cape, his most popular colors. As with other imitations of Superman, Mighty Mouse's super powers include flight, super strength, and invulnerability. He has demonstrated the use of X-ray vision in at least one episode, while during several cartoons he used a form of telekinesis that allowed him to command inanimate objects and turn back time. The other cartoons have him leaving a red contrail during flight which he can manipulate at will like a band of solid flexible matter.


I loved Pong. I remember I was in the fifth grade when a friend of mine told him he had all these games for sale, I gave him fifteen dollars for a bunch of used video game consoles. I never got the Pong game new but having it used was close enough, I remember giving this kid money way before getting the games. I made countless threats against him and even my close friend did too, he was going keep my money and all his consoles.
Then one day after class, I walked outside my classroom and there they sat in a box in a tangled mess of pure confusion. My friend spotted them right when the class bell rang; he yelled to me that he left them outside class. I ran outside and there they sat, I took them home and went to work on them. I had five video game consoles and I think Pong and one other one worked. It was a great deal, even though it took over a month of harassing him and threatening him to budge. But it happened, crazy part is, we never saw him again after that. It like he dropped out of school.
But I did not care; all I cared about was having Pong. I think I even sold the other games to a friend of mine, once we got Pong untangled we left the others for weeks. Pong was a great game.
Pong is one of the earliest arcade video games, and is a tennis sports game featuring simple two-dimensional graphics. Pong was one of the first video games to reach mainstream popularity. The aim is to defeat your opponent in a simulated table tennis game by earning a higher score. The game was originally manufactured by Atari Incorporated (Atari), who released it in 1972.

Handheld Games

I remember how fascinated I was when all these handheld games surfaced. I also remember how many were bought from flea markets and garage sales. I played so many of these and I still think back to all the pain my hands and fingers felt. I remember how, some of them sounded and how you could mute the sounds. Some of those sounds were horrible and the mute button was much appreciated.


I must confess, I hated elementary towards the end of the fifth grade. The kids I was friends with started changing and dressing different. The clothing style was surfer/skater attire and not one kid surfed/skated from the fifth or sixth grade. I knew those kids and at the time, none of them were surfers or skaters. I did not dress in the cool clothes because at the time there were deeper rooted problems at home and my father not wanting to shell out money for over priced articles of clothing.
My mother still worked at this clothing store and she started buying me these off brand outfits from there, believe me, I hated them. But at the time, she was buying them on her own and even though I was not wearing the cool clothes, I was still the same kid. Bless my mother’s heart for trying to keep me up to date in the clothing department. I was picked on about them but I cared not, they were just some kids following some trend and they really had no idea about how stupid they were about this trend.
In the middle of the sixth grade, my mother bought me a pair of those trendy shoes that everyone was wearing. They were called Vans; the colors were pink and purple checkerboard. I loved them before I even opened them, the box was a dead giveaway and then I saw the colors, they seemed girly and I did not want to wear them. I kept them in the box until the last day of school. I figured this; I got picked on for wearing “Pierre Bonnet” also known as “PB” why would I wear pink and purple shoes the rest of the year.
So, the last day of school, I geared up in jeans and a white t-shirt wearing my Vans, I did not get much notice at all until our teacher gave us the last couple of hours to really do nothing but enjoy the last hours of the sixth grade, that’s when my shoes were noticed. I was shocked that those shoes made that big of an impact of the whole class, the colors were not the same color patterns that were out and no one ever saw them. Two of the kids that I used to be close to could not stop looking at them and admiring them. Inside I was laughing but I was also very mad that I did not wear them sooner.  But this taught me a few life lessons.
(not my actual shoe, but close)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Shark Biologist

Believe it or not, growing up as a kid, you wanted to be different things in your life. A police officer or a fireman but it not until the sixth grade, I discover my love for sharks. Yes, sharks! I remember stating back to seeing Jaws and being scared of the ocean but something inside me changed. I was no longer scared and I was determined to become a shark expert.
I went to the library and checked out countless books and I even ordered every book from the main library over in Orlando. I was now heavily into reading and writing down stuff about them to even drawing them. I would even reread books that I already read. I was on top of my shark knowledge but along the way, my parents divorce started affecting me and there was a decline in me wanting to learn and pretty soon, I found myself not caring about anything any more.
I remember how excited I was to learn every thing about sharks and or related to sharks.  But by the time the divorce was final and we had move to Orlando, I was not the same kid with the same ambitions. I was a bit of a mess for the first year after the divorce. I wish I would have got that clarity back along the way in my journey through life.  So my advice to you, stick with your goals and dreams, no matter what!


I remember as a kid, playing the great game of pinball. The most popular spot for these were the drive-in movie theaters but they were sometimes at convenience stores as well. The most popular one when I was kid was the “Lucky Ace” but later down the road, there were others. I remember the stunning one from the band “KISS” and the popular “Playboy” one.
Pinball is a type of arcade game, usually coin-operated, where a player attempts to score points by manipulating one or more metal balls on a playfield inside a glass-covered case called a pinball machine. The primary objective of the game is to score as many points as possible. Secondary objectives are to maximize the time spent playing (by earning extra balls and keeping the ball in play as long as possible) and to earn free games (known as replays).
I remember the countless hours and quarters I used playing this game,  my parents always had an endless supply of quarters when we went to the drive-in, this was a sure fire way of keeping me and my friends out of their hair while the engaged in those movies that we as kids should not be viewing.

Walt Disney World

One of the most magical places that I had ever visited when I was a kid was Walt Disney World. I do not remember the exact year I went there but I do remember how fun and exciting it used to be. This place is where their cartoons and books I read growing up came to life. This place was nothing but pure fun. It has changed so much since it first opened in 1971; it has added other parks to its impressive roster.
The Walt Disney World Resort, sometimes shortened to Walt Disney World or Disney World, is the world's largest and most visited recreational resort. Located approximately 6 miles southwest of Orlando, Florida, the resort covers an area of 30,080-acre (47.00 square miles) and includes four theme parks, two water parks, 23 on-site themed resort hotels (excluding 8 that are on-site, but not owned by the Walt Disney Company), including a campground, two health spas and physical fitness centers, and other recreational venues and entertainment. It opened on October 1, 1971 with only the Magic Kingdom theme park and has since added Epcot (October 1, 1982), Disney's Hollywood Studios (May 1, 1989) and Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park (April 22, 1998).
There is more to Disney than just a bunch of parks; it now has many other attractions to the area as well along with two themed water parks.  But when looking back on being a kid, running rampant in the streets of the Magic Kingdom, there was not a happier time to be a kid. This place was packed with many different rides, adventures along with many types of different foods. This place was a dream come true, I visited this park many times as a kid and a teenager, but those times in the seventies were just amazing.

Smash Up Derby

I loved the “Smash Up Derby” set, you got two ramps, two ripcord cars and decals. I remember that when these two cars would smash into one another all the pieces would smash and fall apart. This was the neatest thing and we had countless hours trying to crash these two into another and watch them fall apart. There is a catch to all these toys, timing. Which being a kid, timing, was not always on my side or our side. We would sometimes rush to crash them and we would miss one another. But all in all, the idea of it was great and very entertaining.

Kmart And Zayre

When I was kid growing up, there was no Walmarts or Targets. There was Zayres and Kmarts.  Kmart and Zayres, both had almost every thing you wanted or needed at a discounted price. These were the only two good stores in our area that was close to us.
Kmart was famous for their “Blue Light Specials” and their popular, phrase "attention Kmart shoppers".  I remember hearing both of the phrases when I was a kid. I also remember sitting there with my mother while the spokesman for the “Blue Light Special” told us the ins and outs of what he was pushing on special. This varied from time to time and so did the time frame. I was a kid and having me sit there and listen to this guy rant and rave about some special, drove me into pure boredom. If it was not a exciting new toy at a special price, I wasn’t having any thing to do with it, which probably upset my mother to some degree.
I really cannot give any details about Zayres, it was open only for a short time in our area and reopened a little further away from the Apopka area.  I just remember they had an amazing toy section and that was about it.

Captain Kangaroo

I remember being glued to the T.V. every single morning awaiting the arrival of “Captain Kangaroo”.  I was there every single morning, watching this show. I now, do not recall much about the show but just that Captain character greeting me each and every morning.
This show was a children's television series which aired weekday mornings on the American television network CBS from October 3, 1955 until December 8, 1984, making it the longest-running children's television program of its day. The show was conceived and the title character played by Bob Keeshan, who based the show on "the warm relationship between grandparents and children."
It had a loose structure, built around life in the "Treasure House" where the Captain (whose name came from the big pockets in his coat) would tell stories, meet guests and indulge in silly stunts with regular characters, both humans and puppets. The show was live for its first four years and was in black-and-white until 1968. The May 17, 1971 episode saw two major changes on the show; the Treasure House was renovated and renamed "The Captain's Place" and the Captain replaced his black coat with a red coat. In September 1981, CBS shortened the hour-long show to a half-hour and briefly retitled it "Wake Up" and moved it to an earlier time-slot, but when the show moved back to weekends in September 1982 it was back to an hour-long format. It was canceled by CBS at the end of 1984.

Loch Ness Monster

Another popular folklore growing up was the “Loch Ness Monster” as known as “Nessie”. The monster is a cryptid that is reputed to inhabit Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. The most frequent speculation is that the creature represents a line of long-surviving plesiosaurs. It is similar to other supposed lake monsters in Scotland and elsewhere, though its description varies from one account to the next.
Popular interest and belief in the animal has fluctuated since it was brought to the world's attention in 1933. Evidence of its existence is anecdotal, with minimal and much-disputed photographic material and sonar readings. The scientific community regards the Loch Ness Monster as a modern-day myth, and explains sightings as a mix of hoaxes and wishful thinking. Despite this, it remains one of the most famous examples of cryptozoology. The legendary monster has been affectionately referred to by the nickname Nessie, since the 1950s.I did some research as a kid growing up but as neat as it sounds, I think it is just a folklore like “Bigfoot”.


Shortly after the “Bigfoot” sighting is when the next weird thing happened in those woods. I was asleep in bed with my two dogs, Murphy and Marco when I heard the strangest noise outside my window. My bedroom was on the backside of the house facing the woods. I jumped up and pushed aside the curtains to see what was making the terrible noise. Right above the trees was this bright light it was making a terrible noise, not only was I up now the dogs were too. Both of my dogs were crazy barking at the window. I jumped out of bed and ran into my parents room, yelling at them to wake up, there is something going on in the woods.
The dogs were at the back sliding glass door, barking and going absolutely crazy over that sound. We all stood at that glass looking back into those woods, the light I told them was above the trees in now on the ground and that sound was not as loud was it was. But that did not stop those dogs from barking, it was driving them mad. My parents seemed a scared to open that glass door to let them out. We could not take them barking any more. Suddenly the light was out and that noise was gone. But that did not stop our dogs; they ran the fence line, barking back and forth.
We stood by that glass door that was now wide open listening. Nothing. We stood there for a while, my parents kept talking about an U.F.O., I have heard about them, but only on T.V. and I heard they were not real. But I will say, whatever landed in those woods that night/morning changed my views on them forever. I saw something bright and noisy land in those woods that is not something I made up, it was real. My parents witnessed that noise and saw those lights on the ground. We did not see any thing else but lights and that terrible weird noise. That noise was terribly loud and weird, like a high pitched engine and those lights was very bright near blinding. It lit those woods up in that area that they were in, I rounded up the neighbor kids to try and adventure out there without our parents knowing but every one was scared and even I was too but wanted to see where it landed.
But due to that “Bigfoot” scare months back, no one wanted to adventure out into those woods to examine that area where we saw those lights. I am not saying this was an U.F.O. but it was something along the lines of one.


A popular folklore when I was growing up was about a creature named “Bigfoot” he is also known as “Sasquatch”. He is ape-like creature that inhabits forests, mainly in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. Bigfoot is usually described as a large, hairy, bipedal humanoid. The term "sasquatch" is an anglicized derivative of the word "Sésquac" which means "wild man" in a Salish Native American language.
Growing up, I saw and heard so many things about Bigfoot. From pictures of the creature to stories galore, but as a kid, you did not know what to believe. But I will say this for sure, one night when I lived on Harwick Drive, my views on this creature changed. I was sleeping in my parent’s bed due to a gang of men on a killing spree. Everyone was on high alert due to this gang; they were on every news channel as the ski mask killers.
I woke up to a noise outside; their bedroom was located in the front of the house facing the street. I sat up and looked out the window and saw a man in the road, he was stumbling and screaming out. I woke my parents and we all we peering out the window at him, he fell to the ground, screaming for help. I do not recall the exact events after this but I do remember all our neighbors were gathering in the street to help him. I remember standing in the driveway watching them gather around this man trying to comfort him; he was covered in scratches and blood. I never saw anything like it, he was rambling on about drinking beer in the woods when “Bigfoot” attacked him and his friend. He claimed he made it out of the woods and as Bigfoot grabbed his friend. He kept this up until the ambulance arrived on the scene and took him away. I remember seeing how shocked every one was, there was acres upon acres behind our housing development.
This changed my parents whole outlook on those woods; we were not allowed to play there any more and my mother would not even let me step foot back there to fly our kites. The road that dead ended into the woods was the stopping point. There was a good distance of road left to fly the kites on by not like the dirt road. This was the first of many weird things that happened in those woods, we also heard about one of the farmer’s cow missing along with some chickens. But who really knows the real story behind all of these rumors.
The one thing that I know is true was that man being attacked. Days and weeks after the attack, rumors swirled that he was just drunk and lost in the woods. Those cuts and blood was from tree limbs that he was running into while trying to get out of the woods. Some say he was on drugs and he was hallucinating making him think he was being attacked. But his friend, where was his friend? There were so many unanswered questions along with so many rumors, the truth was never veiled.