What Happened to My Childhood (Toys)?

by Joe Zicari @SharePointJoe on February 5, 2013

in Nerd Culture, The 80s

See what I did there? I combined two things I miss and love so much into one awesome sentence.

My friends know that I have heavily invested in reacquiring G.I. Joe figures from my childhood. So how the heck am I missing my childhood?

I’ll give you a little bit of background with the short version. Probably not the short version.

I’m an only child (SPOILED ALERT).  I’m the product of divorced parents, who now that I look back at it, were attempting to buy my love.  No seriously, I’m pretty sure that’s true.  I grew up in two different states.  Dad in NY, mom in Massachusetts.  I had two Christmases, matter of fact- two of every of everything.  It was pretty swell and I took full advantage of it.

One down, one to go

Around high school graduation my Massachusetts parents decided to move to Florida & I decided to move back to Rochester with my dad.

When packing for my move, I had to decide what would stay and what would go with me.  I was 18- I hadn’t touched my action figures (Joes & Star Wars), Lego, micro machines, M.A.S.K. toys, Rambo figures, etc in a pretty long time.  Who was I to know 18 years later I’d want those all back?

Fast forward to a few years later after graduation, I found out that my mom had given my toys, errr “collectibles” to a co-worker for her little boy.  That kind of made me feel good knowing someone was enjoying my wares…but then a few minutes later I felt such remorse.  I wanted those things back.  I wanted to be 10 again.  Maybe for just 1 more day.

kinda like this but with Snake Eyes & Lando Calrissian

My story isn’t done.  What is this..a Lifetime movie?  Can Meredith Baxter-Birney play my mom?  That would be awesome.  Her TV movies rule.  And off topic we go, just like your standard UnderScoopFire Podcast.

So I’m back in Rochester with my dad. 18, ready to sow my wild oats.  That’s far-fetched.  Us UnderScoopers spent most of our time hitting the mall(s), playing sports, watching MTV Jams and getting into car accidents.  Doing all that, I never once thought about my other toy collection.

Remember- only child, 2 homes, 2 collections.  Yep.  I was pretty lucky (and very spoiled).  So, in my pop’s basement, in their opened yet original packaging were all my Joes.  Yes, even the cards with the bubbles still semi-attached.

My dad was in the Army, Korean War in fact.  He was probably a bigger Joe fan than I was.  He was the one that got me into them (heavily).  I can remember when I’d get a new figure from Toys R Us or Kiddie City- he’d gently open the bubble and take out the figure and accessories and say something to the effect of “Joey, let’s not ruin his packaging .”  I had NO idea what this meant.  I just wanted that new figure in my hand and kicking some major ASS!

Next to Service Merchandise, Gold Circle and Arthur Treacher’s Fish & Chips!

I guess what hits me personally is that…despite the distance between my dad and I (literally), this was something we both enjoyed.  It ranked up there with playing catch with him or shooting bb guns together.  We both enjoyed it.  He enjoyed the buying of the toys, opening them and putting them together for me.  I enjoyed playing with them and of course destroying them.  We both had the biggest smiles.  Any time a band broke inside a G.I. Joe, I knew my dad could fix it.  Wasn’t the best fix-it job but it worked out well.  It was like Doc patching up the gun shot to Snake Eyes’ stomach and he was back in the battle minutes later.  My Dad is my Joe savior.

Some years later, I move to my current location and there all my Joes still sat, 100+ miles away in a dingy basement collecting dust, waiting to be played with just one more time.  It saddens me a little just thinking about it. Ok, not a little. A lot.

So my dad calls me a few years back and said he decided to move and asks me “what do you want to do with all your toys?”  Without hesitation I say “Sell em”.  No hesitation, no thought, nothing.

One of the biggest regrets of my life.  Sounds silly but it’s true.  Who was I to know that I would suddenly get some sort of addiction and want them all back?

Over the past 18 months, I have feverishly played catch up.  Some readers & podcast subscribers will know this if they follow me on Twitter and Instagram.  I post pictures almost daily of my new (well old but new again) figures that I had procured.

another day, another Alley Viper

I got the opportunity to show my dad the collection once again over Christmas.  To see his face light up like a little kid was amazing.  We started sharing old Joe stories, like we were in the war together.  He would ask if I had the Snake Eyes with the “dog”.  I would of course correct him and he’d shrug it off and say whatever.  But the fact that he knew the figure, it made me happy. Made me remember being 9 years old and getting that particular Snake Eyes.  Wonderful memories.

only the greatest action figure of all time

I guess having no kids benefits me- instead of putting together a college fund for them, I’m reacquainting myself with my childhood (Peter Pan syndrome anyone?).

I guess the other advantage is, if I have a child, I can share this new collection and the joy of collecting and playing with them.

For those of you that were able to hold onto your collection/childhood thru all these years. I commend you.  Yes, I have action figure envy.  Who wouldn’t?

In closing, I’d like to say ‘Thanks’ for reading this article.  It’s hard to put thoughts to pen (or keyboard) and this flowed pretty easily.  Maybe too easily.  I’d like to think it’s a story that we all can relate too.

Happy collecting!



Brian (Cool and Collected) February 5, 2013 at 11:33 am

Great story (getting dusty in here). Like you, I failed to hold onto my childhood toys and only retained the memories. I vividly remember the day I got my Snake Eyes figure (with the dog- ha!) and also remember the day that I lost him just as clearly.

Best of luck in your eternal quest to reclaim your childhood!

Howie Decker February 5, 2013 at 3:18 pm

while you guys were snatching up all the 85 Snake Eyes, kids like me never found one! That’s OK, Joe erased all of my bad memories of never owning one by giving me one last year after the toy show. What a guy. Still need a Timber though! Sorry, “dog”.

ShezCrafti February 5, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Wow, that Lionel Kiddie City logo just brought back so many memories. Before the big Toys ‘R Us chain came to my town, the only big toy store we had was Lionel Kiddie City, and also a very small, messy KB Toys in the local mall. I still remember the commercial jingle…

“At Lionel Kiddie City turn your frown upside down!”

Howie Decker February 5, 2013 at 3:19 pm

I had that theme in my head for hours after finding that pic. That tune actually goes through my head pretty regularly for some reason. No idea why.

Lamar the Revenger February 5, 2013 at 1:17 pm

sniff.. Not crying..

Howie Decker February 5, 2013 at 3:23 pm

same here. just allergies.

Christopher Tupa February 5, 2013 at 1:50 pm

Thanks for sharing!!! I am so glad my parents never made me get rid of my toys and allowed me to store them in the attic until I got my own place.

Howie Decker February 5, 2013 at 3:24 pm

you can never thank them enough for that. Thank them now! Go buy a card! 🙂

Christopher Tupa February 5, 2013 at 3:38 pm

Hahaha- that’s not a bad idea, I just might do that. They’d get a kick out of that!

Howie Decker February 5, 2013 at 3:43 pm

Make it a real sappy emotional thank you card. Lots of big cursive on the front. Maybe a picture of a rose or a bridge

Count Marzo February 6, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Great article man! You know I love hearing everyone’s unique childhood toys’ stories. BTW, that 89 Alley Viper was always a favorite of mine as well. I don’t have mine anymore but I still have the yellow and black 91? version.

I was an only child for the first 11 years of my life so I was realllllly spoiled too. G.I. Joe ARAH was amazing and one of my top favorite toys/cartoons of that time period. Unfortunately it’s a runner up to He-Man/MOTU. 😉

Man…I get a tear in my eye whenever anyone mentions those old stores. Something about those childhood department or toy stores just really tug on the old nostalgia heartstrings. Does anyone remember Dahlkemper’s? It was the pre-Service Merchandise. I definitely remember getting G.I. Joes there. They didn’t have many other of my favorite toy lines that I can remember, but I KNOW they had G.I. Joes there. I remember getting some there. Gold Circle is one of my absolute FAVORITES of all time. Very underrated toy section having department store! I don’t remember going to Lionel Kiddie City that often, but I remember where the one existed by me. It was all about Child World and Toys R Us during that time when it came to straight up toy stores.

Again, great stuff, SharePointJoe! Every single one of you USF guys should do an article like this. Loved Howie’s and loved yours! Let’s see more of this. You know it’s a hit and generates the comments! 🙂

Howie Decker February 6, 2013 at 5:37 pm

Child World!! Yes. I remember the highlight of visiting my grandparents in Myrtle Beach, SC in the 80s was going to to a place called Tons ‘o Toys. It was bigger than the box retails toys stores. So great. After it went out of business the unit sat dormant for a decade due to its size. No one could fill it – finally an indoor go-kart place went in there (that’s how huge it was)

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