FEROCIOUS FORTRESSES [PART 2].
Whether I’m a bright-eyed 8 year old or an aging 52 year old with two hip replacements and a couple face lifts, no December of my life will go by without dreaming about the big-mama-jackpot of all Christmas toys: THE ACTION FIGURE PLAY-SET. For those lucky enough to get one, barreling into the living room Christmas morning and seeing a 4 ft. object wrapped in gaudy, glistening paper might as well have been a religious experience. After tearing through the packaging like Fuller from Home Alone on a 84 oz. Pepsi binge, hopefully what stood before you was a glowing ferocious fortress for your action figures (and not a gun rack or hobby horse). Not many gifts could top these Godlike structures due to their behemoth size and overwhelming amount of things to gaze at. Action figure utopia had truly been reached.
Because these were pricey toys for parents to fork over their life savings to buy, and also because Santy’s elves couldn’t afford the time and labor to provide a playset for every Christmas list request, many tortured young souls went away empty-handed. If you happen to be one of these victims, now is your chance to teach St. Nick or your parents a lesson by shamelessly purchasing one right now as a grown adult and at an outrageous price!
This month we browsed through every Sears Wish Book from 1983 to 1993 and came up with another batch of our most wanted playsets in the 2nd edition of TNUC’s FEROCIOUS FORTRESSES! (check out Part 1 here). Lets begin…
#6 EWOK VILLAGE Year Released: 1983
Synopsis: With the recent Star Wars mania happening worldwide due to The Force Awakens opening in theaters, this countdown demanded a kick-start from those furry little bears from Endor. The Ewok’s Village was undoubtedly the hot party spot as seen in Return of the Jedi. Even if you were captured, tied up and about to be slowly lowered into their barbecue pit, the Ewoks were accommodating and hospitable enough to first show you a good time before your sacrifice. Major props to any kid who got inspired enough from the TV commercials and magazine photos to drag the playset out to the woods for a more authentic setting. I have serious respect and envy for toy photo shoots that took place in those faux-jungle, faux-desert or faux-outerspace settings. It made our imaginations run wild, even if a bedroom carpet was the most rugged terrain we ended up using. FUN FACT: Years later ‘The Ewok Village’ literally became ‘Sherwood Forest’ from Kenner’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves line. They reused the tree structure with only a few minor modifications. Smart…but lazy.
Creature Features: Elevator, Rock boulder on a string and Barbecue pit which allows a figure to attach and be cooked alive above the fire!
Classic TV Commercial!
#5 TOXIE’S HEADQUARTERS!
Year Released: N/A
Synopsis: Sometime during the early 90’s Playmates released the Toxic Crusaders toy line which included ‘Toxie’s Headquarters’ sold exclusively through the now defunct Kaybee Toys. Just kidding. Some guy on Tumblr named Jungle Rot turned this Fischer Price dollhouse into a fortress of Tromaville real estate for Toxie and his pals to live, using various spray paint colors inspired from the Toxic Crusaders animated series. From the colors to the model chosen to create it, the house looks fantastic and I love where this is going. The actual Toxic Crusaders figures from 91′ were one of the coolest toy lines of the era. The toys shared many color similarities and articulation as the TMNT figures which were also made by Playmates. As a youngster (and even today) I gravitated toward anything related to toxic/slime/ooze, so these self proclaimed “hideously deformed action figures” were crucial to my way of life.
Creature Features: Obviously N/A, but it’s worth checking out the vehicles that were part of the Toxic Crusaders line which include the ‘Hideous Hovercraft’, ‘Smogcycle’, ‘Apocalypse Attackopter’, ‘Toxic Turfsurfer’ and ‘Crusaderskater’! We’ll save some of these for a future viscous vehicles list.
Classic Commercial! How about a mash up of the TV ads?…”They’re gross but they still get girls!”…
#4 MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE: SNAKE MOUNTAIN!
Year Released: 1984
Synopsis: Snake Mountain was of course Skeletor’s main penthouse loft (I mean LAIR) where he ruled and plotted ways in which he’d invade the mysterious Castle Greyskull where He-Man drew all of his powers. The purple mountain is most remembered by the demon face on one side and the striking serpent on the other. Now YOU could have the time of your life using a skull-faced warlord to chase around a meathead in a loincloth in a cave! The photo above doesn’t do the playset justice as you really do need to see it IN PERSON. Even the box is a sight to behold.
Creature Features: Talk into the wolf’s head and the electronic microphone inside will make your voice sound demonic! The fortress also features a Trap door to capture intruders, Prison to hold your enemies, Bridge, Escape tunnel, Swinging gate and of course the Slithering snake.
#3 SHE-RA PRINCESS OF POWER: CRYSTAL FALLS. Year Released: 1986
Synopsis: No way could we forget the ladies. So technically the real fortress of this toy line is the ‘Crystal Castle’ but there was no chance in hell TNUC could walk away from this countdown without including something that refers to itself as “a refreshing water wonderland for She-Ra and her friends!”. Without getting creepy about it, let’s just catapult the ‘Crystal Falls’ concept into a steamy adult scenario for a moment. It’s the tail end of the decade and real-life She-Ra and a mob of barbaric babes have nothing to do but spend their days lounging by their private, exclusive water fountain to take in the cosmic rays of Etheria. Also joining them for some splish-splash action is Vanity, Brooke Shields, Heather Locklear, Kelly Bundy, Tawny Kitaen, Adrienne Barbeau, Brigette Wilson and Carol Lambert (1991’s TGIF version of Susanne Summers). Now do we have your attention? In reality, the She-Ra: Princess of Power toy line was very impressive and definitely geared for girls too cool for Barbies!
Creature Features: The “Falls” which was a 3 tiered waterfall that when the hand pump is pushed water flows from the orchid at the top, Shell cushion (for lounging), Towel (hangs on towel bar), Hair brush, Hand mirror, Two water goblets and a Perfume bottle.
#2 SWAMP THING’S SWAMP TRAP! Year Released: 1982
Synopsis: Back during a time when Swamp Thing comics, films, a TV series AND cartoon series existed, Kenner produced a series of Swamp Thing action figures and toys which included the ‘Swamp Trap’! The mucky mountain was covered in a mossy green color and featured a giant Venus fly trap at it’s base. The elevator inside allowed Swamp Thing to rise up from the foam material which was supposed to be him lurking up through a swamp! We have to hand it to Kenner for being creative risk takers during this time. Swamp Thing was definitely popular but by no means an enormous pop culture franchise. Still, they were generous enough to provide kids with Swamp Thing EVERYTHING. The mighty bog fortress remains one of the most eye catching playsets of the decade.
Creature Features: Lower your victims into the fully operational Venus fly trap, make Swamp Thing rise up from the boggy depths and hide in the plastic flowers to seduce Barbie dolls.
#1 GHOSTBUSTERS: FIREHOUSE HEADQUARTERS!Year Released: 1987
Synopsis: Following the explosion of the Ghostbusters movie in 1984 the animated series The Real Ghostbusters made it’s debut in 1986. The show was a sure-fire hit, spawning a series of toys from Kenner including this beautiful multi-story fire station. This was a big one for Uncle T as it was the clear highlight of my bedroom. The fire station stood 22″ tall with features galore, one of the best being the container of “Ecto-Plazm” slime that you could send oozing through the rooftop “goop grates” and onto a figure. The fire pole was another top notch item that figures could attach to by pegs and spin down to the ground floor. Those big red doors were also just the right size to drive the Ecto-1 inside. The ‘Firehouse Headquarters’ held up better over the years than any other playset to date. Its size also made it way less congested than other sets which was especially clutch when the Ghostbusters felt like inviting the Turtles, G.I. Joe and Biker Mice from Mars action figures over for keg parties.
Creature Features: Ghost containment unit/trap, Fire pole and Goop grates with canister of goop (“Ecto-Plazm”).
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Thanks for reading. For those of you wondering why ‘Castle Greyskull’ and others are missing from this list, have a look at Part 1. MERRY CHRISTMAS DISCIPLES…SEE YOU IN 2016!