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Surprise Party! : 1987

Alright, “surprise party!” may be a tad misleading. The whole thing was a surprise. That it was my birthday was a surprise.

I woke up in the morning of April 5th, 1987. My mother greeted me with a smile. “Happy Birthday!” She declared. I had no idea that it was my birthday. I remember this distinctly, as this was the only thing that I remember distinctly about the day. The rest comes from photos. Would you like to know what I got for my fourth birthday?

Magnifying Glass. Complete with light bulb.

Let’s begin with the most unassuming gift of the bunch. This red magnifying glass was pretty amazing. Let me say, oddly enough, that I did not even know that it was in fact mine until I saw this photograph. Apparently my brother took it over as his own at some point, and I was none the wiser. Every memory I have of this device places it squarely in my brother’s possession. What memories are these, you ask? Burning things.

Look, some kids want to see tiny things up close and enlarged, other kids want to harness the power of the sun to burn ants, paper, fingernails and stuff. I remember my brother teaching me how to get that tiny bead of sunlight just pinpoint small enough. After that, it was only a matter of time. There was a great sense of joy and accomplishment when those first tiny billows of smoke began to rise from your chosen subject of sun energy combustion.

This magnifying glass would remain in our toy room until my brother and I finally sold it in our own toy sale in our front yard at least a decade later.

Dino Riders


(at the bottom of that stack, there)

            As is the case with many young boys and girls, I loved dinosaurs. Take those dinos, add robotics, and allow us humans to ride them? The greatest thing ever! I received two Dino Riders items that year. The first was a cassette of the first episode.

There were several things great about this cassette. Not the least of which being the episode. The first is the opening sequence. I am not sure if every episode featured this. I doubt that it did. But this pilot episode video began with oddly animated human children receiving a lecture about dinosaurs in a museum. The images were very sketchy and cool. Likening to the music video for “Take On Me” by A-Ha. One kid breaks off from the tour to investigate a strange pulsing light, only to find two dino skeletons spring to life. True cartoon tore through the drab museum coloration to reveal the Dino Riders logo. It was amazing. All this before the episode played.

The next great thing about this cassette was that it featured about three minutes of Tyco commercials. After the feature, beyond the credits, just a mass of commercialism. Classic 80’s stuff. Kids super excited and intense spouting things like “take that!” and “I’ll get you!” And, of course, the equally intense voice over spouting off crazy names of obscure dinosaurs that I had never then, nor now, recognize.

The second item I would receive is the dino and figure set of Deinonychus and Sky. See what I mean? What the heck is a Deinonychus? Just say raptor. Regardless, this was a great set. Sky, of course, rode the Dino, and a button on the Dinos back made his legs sprint.


(deino-whatever)

My brother’s birthday being less than a month later, he also received a DinoRiders set. Quetzalcoatlus with Yungstar. Again, what the heck? Just say Pterodactyl.


(quetza-whatever)

Anyway, the tiny rockets, weapons, and assorted other bits and pieces would all eventually end up, at one time or another, in our crayon bucket. I would always wonder just what the heck those pieces were for when I would come across them.

Later in my life, I would win a Dino Riders character pack in an elementary school drawing contest. I drew a far out space shuttle rocket ship with all sorts of bells and whistles.

Far more recently, my friend would give me an awesome Dino Riders logo patch. He had no idea what it was. Most people I meet don’t. I still fully intend to put that patch on a work shirt with my name over the opposite pocket.

BOGLINS

            This Boglin was a big deal for me. I wanted one so badly. I think my face tells that whole story on its own. I’m pretty sure I have never smiled so big and sincerely since. If I have, it is very few and far between. I mean, I smile all the time, but look at that face. Pure joy.

Anyway, Boglins were amazing. Soft rubber puppet creatures that looked like something straight out of Jim Henson’s Labyrinth workshop. The things you could do with a Boglin were almost limitless. Not only were they a puppet, but you could put them over your nightlight to make their eyes glow, turn then inside out and pretend he has become a ghost Boglin, wear a hole in his elbow then stick your finger in there to work his arm. Just so much fun.

I currently have two Boglins, brand new in package, proudly on display in my living room. Every single day is a struggle not to open at least one of them.

My First Bike

This was it. My very first bike. Before this, I had only a trike, and a Voltron Big Wheel. But this was a bike. For big kids. This would become the bike that I learned to ride with no training wheels.

My dad never did the whole ‘hold the seat walk beside you’ thing. He would send me flying down the driveway calling out, “just keep pedaling!” I only fell into the dirt of the undeveloped neighborhood about four times, and I had it. I could ride a bike.

After learning, I would soon get a ten-speed. Red with black speckled paint spots. Even so, I would still pull out this little one to take off jumps and do massive burnouts in the street. We could get that thing to lay an almost 360-degree streak in the road.

Super Friends Plates (and cups)


(note, also, plastic cake dinos and jelly "eggs")

I know, I know, not technically a gift. But they were purchased for my birthday, so, it counts.

Man. I loved the Super Friends. I had a pillowcase featuring all of the characters. Even those two obscure teens and their dog. My mother sewed snaps onto it so I could wear it around my neck as a cape. It was the perfect material. I used to rub my hair all over it late at night, under my blackest, and watch the static. On more than one occasion, I tossed it out of bed during bad storms, fearing that lightning would crash through the window and strike the metal snaps.

I would also receive Super Powers figures for Christmas. The ones that you would squeeze their legs together for punching/chopping/whipping action. I used to bend Batman’s legs all the way back, letting his cape poke out on each side, pretending that he could turn into a real bat.

Needless to say, it was amazing that they got me Super Friends plates. The little things mean a lot.

The Rest


(we've seen this before, I'm sure of it)

If you look closely, you will see that there are some items that I simply cannot place. As you can see, I was almost as confused at the thing in my hand then as I am now.  If you recognize any of them in their obscurity, please feel free to post. I am very interested.

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OldSchool80s Posted on Feb 05, 2015 at 03:27 PM

Enjoyed the post and the pictures! Fun 80s memories. Thanks for sharing.

fuschnikt Posted on Feb 04, 2015 at 01:58 AM

@Vapor Thanks! It means a lot! Truly! I'd love to see one of these Boglin videos someday. I'll see what I can do with the video. I'm not very technically astute.

@Hoju I think my Boglin probably meet the same ultimate fate as yours. Fragile creatures in the hands off young children. As for the birthday question..I wish I could tell you. I know I had parties before. I've seen photos. But I was just turning four, so I'm sure calendars were meaningless to me. I still can't explain how nobody would have clued me in. Maybe they did and I was just to busy doing kid things to take heed?

@Pika I never had any Ponies or Care Bears. I did have a Cabbage Patch though. For some time I carried him around just like Buddy in the commercials. He was my My Buddy.

Vaporman87 Posted on Feb 04, 2015 at 01:11 AM

Cool. That'd be great pika.

pikachulover Posted on Feb 04, 2015 at 12:53 AM

I don't remember Dino Rides much save the random commercial that was from something my mom taped for me. It's nice to see what was around in 1987 in boys toys. In 1987 I was thinking more about My Little Pony, Care Bears and Cabbage Patch dolls.

@Vapor I'll try to submit my Dino Riders ad too.

Hoju Koolander Posted on Feb 03, 2015 at 10:45 PM

Great batch of gifts and photos. I totally had a Boglin that I used to flip inside out as well, I think I eventually stretched his arms apart (like into pieces) and that was the end of my creature. I always thought Dino Riders were cool, but not enough to demand one for a birthday for some reason.

Also, did you not know what a birthday was or just had no concept of time at that age?

Vaporman87 Posted on Feb 03, 2015 at 08:27 PM

I forgot to mention that you should try recording those Dino Riders ads off and get them uploaded to the site. I don't think we have much Dino Riders video content.

Vaporman87 Posted on Feb 03, 2015 at 05:46 PM

You've really hit a groove now fuschnikt. Great read!

This had to have been a great birthday part. Dino Riders were really cool toys. It was a toy line that I always wished I had more of. My brother actually had several, and we would play with them extensively when the mood struck us.

Boglins were another property I had none of. But my friend's Boglin made it's way into at least one of our homemade movies. LOL.

I have no doubt that our investigative members can find out what some of those other goodies are.

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