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SUMMER 2020

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A Journal for Vintage Toy & Game Enthusiasts


271 Dolph St S Cambridge ON Canada N3H 2C1 Director James Madison jmadison@toyboxmag.com

Editorial Staff Holly Jones hjones@toyboxmag.com

Sales Staff Ollie Wilson owilson@toyboxmag.com

Circulation Office: Wally Cartright wcartright@toyboxmag.com

Publisher Caroline McGraff cmcgraff@toyboxmag.com

Graphic Design Alexandria Shannon ashannon@toyboxmag.com

Contributors Larry Cornell lcornell@toyboxmag.com

Photographers Christopher MacDonald cmcdonald@toyboxmag.com

Alexandria Shannon ashannon@toyboxmag.com

Editorial Contributions George Hitmanski ghitmanski@toyboxmag.com

Copyright Gregory Quinn gquinn@toyboxmag.com

Mail Preferences Return Undeliverable PO Box 3445 Franklin Blvd Cambridge ON Canada N3H 2C1


Table of contents

16

2

2

Playing with dolls

History of GI Joe

6

Collector profile

Barbie at 60

10

Game review

Sailor Moon

14

Special memories

Hickory Dickory Dock

16

Feature story

Radio Shack Golden Arrow

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25 Years of Super Nintendo

32

Vintage toy DIY

Find your frequency

45

Market watch

Is Lionel going off the tracks?

Electronic culture

55

Store profile

Toy Warehouse

67

The game table

The Satanic panic over D&D

82

Upcoming events

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Playing with dolls

Now you know the history of GI Joe, and knowing is half the battle

The evolution of the All American Hero from artist’s mannequin to action figure By Jimmy Stamp In the GI Joe sequel opening this weekend, the original

movable portions of the human anatomy.” That was prob-

“Joe” is played by the over 50-year-old Bruce Willis – the

ably the first and last time the figure was ever referred

other All-American Hero. In reality, the nearly 50-year-old

to as a doll. The company strictly prohibited the term

GI Joe was an 11.5-inch-tall plastic action figure produced

and refused to sell their action figure to any retailer that

by former pencil makers, the Hassenfeld Brothers, who

used it. The patented designs also placed a premium

the world would eventually come to know simply as

on safety, durability and cost-effective manufacturing. It

“Hasbro.” In the late 1930s the Hassenfeld Brother Henry,

was important, for example, that no metal springs were

Hilal, Herman expanded their textile and school supply

used in the assembly and that different heads could be

business to include toys. The move proved lucrative and

utilized on the same figure – thereby creating product

by 1960, they had become one of America’s largest toy companies (largely thanks to the success of Mr. Potato

variability while keep manufacturing costs low.

Head). But Hasbro’s biggest hit came in 1964 with the release of GI Joe, the world’s first action figure. The original, prototype f igure was invented by Don Levine, Vice President and Director of Marketing and Development at Hasbro. Levine was fascinated with the “razor-razor blade” model that made Mattel’s Barbie such a success and was determined to create a similar toy for boys. Today, we might call it the “printer-print cartridge”

“When the figure hit the market in 1964 it was a runaway success. Within two years, GI Joe accounted for almost 66 percent of Hasbro’s profits.”

model; the idea being that the initial toy/razor/printer is just a means to get consumers to purchase additional accessories. While walking by an art store one day, Levine

The original four GI Joe figures, representing each branch

noticed a wooden artists mannequin in a window display

of the military

and was struck with an epiphany.

sent the four branches of America’s armed forces: Rocky

thing truly magnificent if there was a way to produce fig-

the Movable Fighting Man represented the Army, Skip

ures that moved and posed any which way the human

for the Navy, Ace Fighter Pilot was obviously a proud

body did. Tin and plastic soldiers have been favorites of

member of the Air Force, and Rocky, apparently serving

children as long as there have been toys; it seemed to

double duty, was also a Marine. Each figure came with

me that this fully articulated man could be a giant step

basic fatigues, boots, cap and dog tag, while the packag-

forward. From that point on, it was a matter of conveying

ing enticed children with images of other uniforms and

this vision to my staff at Hasbro.

accessories. The “GI Joe” moniker was created to encom-

When the figure hit the market in 1964 it was a runaway success. Within two years, GI Joe accounted for almost 66 percent of Hasbro’s prof its. The key characteristic driving its popularity was the 19 points of articulation and high-quality assembly. According to the Hassenfeld

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Hasbro simultaneously produced four figures to repre-

Suddenly it occurred to me that we could create some-

pass the entire brand. The name “GI Joe” was inspired by a 1945 film about film about war correspondent Ernie Pyle, titled The Story of GI JOE. The name was perfect, Levine remembers, “because ‘Government Issue Joe’ was a real everyman title.”

Brothers’ patent, it was their aim to create a “toy figure

Of course, with the popularity of Hasbro’s action figure

or doll having movable joints that closely simulate the

came man imitators. The fact that the human figure

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can’t be trademarked or copyrighted posed a problem for a company hoping to have the exclusive rights to a popular toy. Luckily for Hasbro, fate intervened and early production errors gave the first GI Joes a facial scar and an inverted thumbnail. These design flaws became the signifying marks of the true Hasbro GI Joe and helped Hasbro pursue cases of infringement.

“GI Joe is a universal archetype of good.” It is also a metric of American culture.” But GI has long been a metric of culture. And as tensions escalated in Vietnam, public opinion turned against all things military in nature, GI Joe was discharged for a time in the late 1960s When the toy was relaunched in the ’70′s near the end of American involvement in Vietnam, it had a macho new beard and an intimidating “Kung-fu grip” – both were developed after the original All American Hero completed years of training at secret temple hidden deep in the Himalayas. Actually, the toys were redesigned and renamed to be less militaristic and more adventure-oriented – “adventurer” replaced the solider, “aquanaut” replaced the naval officer, etc. Despite the changes, their re-enlistment may have been too soon, because Hasbro ended its production on its GI Joe line in 1978. In the 1980s, the US political climate changed and as military toys gained in popularity, the GI Joe line was relaunched with dramatically redesigned actions figures that now stood only 3.75 inches tall. The new size that was inspired by the success of recent Star Wars figures, but may also have reflected the continued effects of the OPEC oil embargo of the 1970s, which raised the prices of plastic. Whereas the original Joes were generic representations of the American military, these later versions were highly specialized anti terrorist commandos complete with their own exotic code names, elaborate back stories, and unique personalities, which were created with the help of Marvel Comics. And for the first time, GI Joe was also given a specific enemy to fight: the international terrorist organization, COBRA. Along with the new figures, a cartoon series was launched in 1983 as part of a savvy marketing campaign. The cartoon was made

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possible thanks to government deregulation during the

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administration of President Reagan that resulted in new rules for children’s television programming. GI Joe: An All American Hero was one of the first cartoons to benefit from these new rules, which permitted the FCC to air violent war cartoons featuring toy products as the main characters. The strategy worked. The National Coalition on Television Violence reported a 350% increase in the sale of war toys between 1982–1985. No doubt largely due to the cross-platform success of GI Joe. Levine has said that “GI Joe is a universal archetype of good.” It is also a metric of American culture. During the Civil Rights Movement, a heroic African–American Joe was introduced. As the space program gained momentum, an astronaut was introduced. And of course, in the 1980s when flamboyant terrorist organizations started cloning ancient world leaders and building mindless android soldiers, those were introduced as well. In some form or another, GI Joe figures have been on shelves since the 1982 relaunch. When asked about its

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enduring quality, Levine suggested that GI Joes are “a very empowering toy for kids. A child has a character that is his or hers to direct through whatever adventure happens to come up on that particular day. The child…is able to explore all manner of heroic and exciting possibilities, whether it be as a deep sea dive, astronaut, or jet pilot. That kind of make-believe is something every generation thrives on.” Levin’s opinions on the importance of “make believe” have a lot of merit, but something was lost as the GI Joes became more and more specific in the 1980s and children were increasingly being told how to play. High profile movies may further limit the possibilities of play, but their popularity ensures that GI Joe will continue to fight or freedom wherever there’s trouble. Story originally appeared on smithsonianmag.com

1 Inverted thumb on left hand 2 Scaring on the face were accidental trademarks of authentic GI Joe dolls

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Collector profile

As Barbie turns 60, collector shares some of her special dolls

Barbie is celebrating her 60th birthday this year. With over 200 careers, throughout the decades, the doll has shown girls around the world that they can reach for the stars and choose professions once considered off limits to them. From biologist to bee keeper; pilot to politician; soccer player to scientist; firefighter to farmer – each and every Barbie helps girls realize, when it comes to careers, the sky really is the limit. Some children become so taken with the doll that they continue their collection into adulthood. Rebecca Hollett of Bellevue, Newfoundland is one of those women. The 55-year-old, who collects both Barbies and Disney Limited Edition dolls, has fond memories of playing with Barbies shortly after she started school. Her parents are Madonna and John Hollett. “My mom used to buy me Barbies when I was three or four but my first collector Barbie was the one I got when I was eight,” Hollett said during a phone interview. “I passed a lot of time playing with my Barbies ... Barbie does expand your imagination because Barbie shows you can be or do anything you want. I used to dress them up in fancy dresses, mermaid outfits, glamour fashions… my mom always gave me a collector’s Barbie for Christmas, and when I got older, I started buying them for myself.” Hollett estimates she has over 80 Barbie and Disney limited edition dolls in her collection. In addition to career Barbies, there are also fashion Barbies, travel Barbies, fantasy Barbies and holiday and special occasion Barbies. Hollett also has a special Christmas tree, complete with a tree topper, decorated with mostly Barbie ornaments. “The Barbie tree topper is f rom Hallmark, she has snowflakes on her dress. It also lights up,” she said. Hollett buys her Barbies and Disney Limited Edition dolls on the internet. “One of my collections is the Haunted Beauty collection. There’s a vampire, a ghost, a zombie bride and a mistress of the manor,” she said.

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Hollett also has several Barbies f rom the dolls of the world collection. Among her most treasured Barbie is her doll from Mexico,

Her soda pop Barbie ornament is also a special momentum. “My godchild gave the soda pop ornament to me

as it reminds her of the great time she had on a cruise to

for Christmas one year. It’s very special to me because it

Mexico. The doll comes with a write-up about the coun-

came from Blair.”

try, noting its beautiful beaches, rain forests, mariachi music and delicious foods such as enchiladas, tamales and tacos. “I got to see the Mayan Ruins and, when I look at my Mexico Barbie, from the Dolls of the World collection, I always think of my trip.” In addition to her Mexico Barbie, Hollett said there are others dolls that mean a lot to her as they were given to her by special people in her life. “My aunt gave me a Canada Barbie from the Dolls of the World collection for Christmas one year. She is

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dressed in a Mountie uniform and is really special to me.”

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For Hollett, her hobby of collecting Barbies and Disney Limited Edition dolls is one that she doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. “I’m always looking to add to my collection. It’s so much fun and other people enjoy coming over and looking at all my different Barbies. I think Barbie will always be a part of my life. I will always keep collecting them,” she said. Story originally appeared on capebretonpost.com

Summer 2020


How Barbie got started, · Ruth Handler, co-founder of Mattel, observed her daughter Barbara playing with paper dolls for hours. This sparked Handler’s vision to create a 3D doll for girls to play out their dreams. · In 1959, the first Barbie doll - named after Ruth's daughter - made its debut at New York Toy Fair. · At f irst, Barbie was received with skepticism by the industry, but Ruth persevered. · Six decades later, Barbie has grown to become a global icon and continues to inspire limitless potential in every girl. · From her careers, to her fantasy roles and her countless fashions and accessories, Barbie has always offered girls choices and endless storytelling possibilities. 9


Game review

Sailor Moon By: James O'Connor

Overview Release Date

1993(SNES), 1994(Genesis)

Regions Available: NA Genre:

Beat 'em Up

Rating: 4/10

10

Developer:

Arc System Works

Publisher:

Angel(SNES), Ma-Ba(Genesis)

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“In today’s gaming industry, plenty of games let you play as soldiers, you could even say that too many games do, however, it’s not very often that we see a game based around the world’s most famous “pretty soldier,” Sailor Moon.”

In today’s gaming industry, plenty of games let you play

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as soldiers. You could even say that too many games do. However, it’s not very often that we see a game based around the world’s most famous “pretty soldier,” Sailor Moon. Released only in Japan, this was the first title in the long list of games based around this popular anime. Sailor Moon for the SNES is a beat ’em up very similar to Streets of Rage and Final Fight. A port of this game was released the next year for the Sega Genesis, still only in Japan, and it has quite a few differences from original release. I’ll be covering both in this review, and addressing these changes. The game allows players to pick one of five sailors and battle Youma across five stages. Though it was released at a time when many licensed games were excellent, Sailor Moon is missing the basic building blocks that make beat ’em ups fun.

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Yo, are those Shin-chan dolls in the crane machine? Gameplay in Sailor Moon consists of mashing the attack button to combo foes until they’re defeated. Players can grab and throw enemies, and also there’s a devastating special attack unique to each character that drains a bit of their life and in turn does heavy damage to surrounding Youma. In the SNES version, the combat feels very much like the Final Fight series, both in the speed and power of your attacks. In the Genesis version, faster attacks, poor sound design, and enemies who will become locked in a stun-state for far longer than necessary combine to make combat feel you are merely slapping opponents until they die. The SNES version is more difficult than the Genesis, and this is not always intentional. Enemies will hit you in rapid succession before you recover from the recoil of the last attack, and many times, especially

1 Sailor Moon crying about being defeated 2 Sailor Mercury travels the hall of time

with certain bosses, they can hit you with a basic attack

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while not exactly on the same vertical plane as you, but

vehicles, I was excited. Until I found out that whoever was

your attacks won’t connect. Enemies also attack near

controlling the camera in this scene must have been in a

constantly. In almost all cases, a jump kick is your best

car alongside the trucks, driving with one hand, filming

or only option to attack an enemy without getting hit.

with the other, drunk all the while. It was incredibly frus-

While you may enjoy emulating an ADHD Ryu Hayabusa

trating. One aspect where the SNES is a definite victor is

and dive kicking every enemy in sight for awhile, it does

the HUD. On the Genesis, all enemy health bars are full

get old quickly.

of yellow, and are transparent when empty. If an enemy’s healthbar is several bars long, this is represented by

“While you may enjoy emulating an ADHD Ryu Hayabusa and dive kicking every enemy in sight for awhile, it does get old quickly”

a bar with a heart above it, with the heart disappearing when they’ve been knocked down to their last bar. On the SNES, as in most beat ’em ups, the life bar is different colors until it becomes the opponent’s final bar, and is red, not transparent, when emptied. The SNES version is a clear winner when it comes to sound. The voice clips from the sailors sound much better than Genesis’s garbled recordings (almost “WISE FWOM YOUR GWAVE” caliber), and the music in both

I didn’t experience these problems in the Genesis ver-

games is very different. The music is higher quality, fit-

sion, but it’s actually more boring for it. In good brawlers,

ting, and quite pleasing to listen to, while on the Genesis,

it’s ideal to lock enemies in a stun loop, but it is diffi-

the soundtrack is okay, if not a little grating. Speaking of

cult and fun to do. In Sailor Moon on the Genesis, you

grating, one instance from the Genesis sticks out in my

can press the attack button twice quickly, wait about a

mind. The sound effect for the “Go” symbol, that suggest

second, press the attack button twice again, and if you

players move to the next area is what I imagine they play

keep that up, the enemy will stand still while you punch

on repeat in hell. Combat sound effects are appropriately

them twice in the face until they die. This becomes very

“punchy” and impactful on SNES, where they sound airy

tedious, though it’s actually a better strategy than actu-

and slappy on Genesis. Both games oddly have no noise

ally using your characters’ combos, since the enemies

for basic enemy attacks, besides the wail of your sailor

have ludicrous amounts of health. In summary: on Super

when they connect. This is an omission I noticed quickly,

Nintendo, you’ll miss hits and get hit back harder or you

and it truly makes the enemies feel like lifeless punching

can jump kick for the game’s entirety. On Genesis, dou-

bags with no power or personality.

ble tap the attack button to bitch-slap enemies in sets of two while they stand still, reeling in pain for long periods of time until they fall down.

the game’s flaws are made obvious repeatedly and often.

Coffee is necessary to not fall asleep playing this game

There are so many small tweaks that would make these

on Sega Genesis.

games so much better. For the Genesis, implement bet-

I thought that the visuals for both games were quite impressive. The sprites in the Genesis version of the game are more detailed and clear, but on the SNES, the sailors all have an idle animations and a crying animation when losing a life. Environments are also a toss-up. There are a few levels that are different between the games, but in those that are the same, the SNES version has much more to look at, but the Genesis version is much cleaner and crisp. There’s one particularly terrible area on the Genesis that wasn’t on the SNES, where you fight on the top of two trucks. Normally stoked to battle on top of

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Beat ’em ups are generally very simple and repetitive games. Unfortunately for Sailor Moon, this means that

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ter sound effects, at least try to capture the spirit of the SNES version’s music, and decrease enemy health and hit-stun. On the SNES, simply increase the sailors’ hitboxes, and lower enemy attack power. Both versions would benefit greatly f rom an increased variety of enemies, or at least giving the enemies voices, more attacks, or attack sounds. But in their current state, I’d say both games are quite like the heroine they’re based around: ditzy, clumsy, and underachieving, but beautiful with good intentions. Story originally appeared on nerdbacon.com

Summer 2020


“I’d say both games are quite like the heroine they’re based around: ditzy, clumsy, and underachieving, but beautiful with good intentions.”

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Special memories

Keeping time with Fisher-Price By: Alexandria Shannon

“Although perhaps not the most historically important of vintage toys, this clock certainly managed to win over my heart.�

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Although perhaps not the most historically important of antique toys, this Fisher-Price clock certainly managed to win over my heart. My example was passed down to me f rom one of my cousins who had out–grown it already. This was a common occurrence for me as I was th youngest on my Dad's side of the family. This toy was just adorable with the mouse running while the song Hickory Dickory Dock played in typical music box fashion. This is an all–plastic music box with a toy clock on one side. The clock has 2 movable arms with an hour hand that moves to the next hour when child turns the minute hand completely around the clock. This is one of the few toy clocks with an hour hand that moves correctly like a real clock enabling children to get a realistic idea of how to tell time. The clock remained basically the same throughout it's production, but several little variations do exist: the music box mechanism can be either Swiss or Japanese, the bead on the antenna can was wood on older music boxes and plastic on the newer ones. Older music boxes have a red rim around the clock face cover and new ones do not. Older music boxes have a single arrow line on the music box wind–up know and newer music boxes have a double arrow. Its product run ran from 1971 to 1984. How times change though, taking this old clock out and playing its song to member's of the younger generation led to strange looks, with one friend even calling it creepy. I suppose this is just another example of how times and people change and not necessarily for the better, sometimes I long for the simpler times when an adorable singing clock could capture the hearts of children like it did to mine. Story includes description sourced from This Old Toy

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Feature story

Radio Shack’s most memorable RC “I can pretty much remember the first time I saw a Golden Arrow in store. At 1:10 scale it seemed so much larger than the other RC toys I had owned or driven at that time.”

With the huge popularity of 1:10 scale off road buggies in the mid–1980s, it was only a matter of time before Tandy/Radio Shack stores released something to compete (at least for the hearts and minds of children) with the popularity of brands like Tamiya and others. And so, they released their finest RC car to date – the Golden Arrow Buggy. In 1987, 1:10 hobby-grade RC buggies had already been around for many years, and it had become a huge category thanks to the popularity of buggies and trucks from Tamiya, Kyosho, Associated, Marui and many others. As the decade progressed, more and more companies attempted to take a slice of the 1:10 off-road market. And even toy–grade RC companies like Nikko, which had been highly successful in selling smaller, cheaper, ready to run electric off-road buggies, were starting to think they could get involved in the more high-performance end of the market. At least, at the entry level. In 1986, Nikko developed and released a 2WD, 540 motor powered buggy called the Rhino (also marketed under several other names in different countries). Later, this buggy platform was licensed out and customized for Radio Shack (with a new body and name) as the Golden Arrow Buggy. Front of the Radio Shack Golden Arrow

Even though the Golden Arrow was similar in general specifications to cars like the Tamiya Hornet (released 3 years earlier) it still had great appeal thanks to its combination of a cool name, great looks, and Radio Shack’s marketing prowess… When the Golden Arrow first appeared at Tandy in 1987 for $329.95 (the equivalent of about $662 in 2019 Dollars), it was by far the most expensive RC car they had ever

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sold. To any kid who used to look through the Tandy or Radio Shack catalogs at the time, it was definitely the stuff of dreams. Of course, for a similar price you could buy a similar (and probably better) kit buggy (plus radio and battery) from a hobby shop. But there was still something exciting about the Golden Arrow. Particularly when you walked into Tandy and saw it right there – ready to go and be test-driven, on the shop floor. And with that JPS Lotus style black + gold colour scheme, it was irresistible… I can pretty much remember the f irst time I saw a Golden Arrow in store. At 1:10 scale it seemed so much

1

larger than the other RC toys I had owned or driven at that time, and I can also remember being aware that the price was far beyond anything my parents could afford. I think I just walked past looking at it, without actually touching it. The buggy itself is basically a fairly typically configured for the time, 2WD, utilizing independent front suspension, rigid-axle rear suspension, a 540 Mabuchi Motor, some large balloon spike tires at the rear and some straight ribbed ones at the front. And all powered by the ubiquitous 7.2 volt battery pack. The Tamiya Grasshopper and Hornet buggies had of course been such a massive success f rom 1983/1984 onwards, that their designs became the default setup for

2

most basic 1:10 scale buggies of the era – it’s a simple, reliable, strong, and relatively fast design that has been copied a hundred times and even still lives on to this very day (in the form of many toy electric buggies and even a few of Tamiya’s current kits). You may notice that the Tandy catalogs for the Golden Arrow often made mention of a feature called a FET Motor Drive System. I always wondered what this thing was as a kid. FET actually stands for “Field Effect Transistor”, and it refers to a technology designed to aid electrical conductivity that actually dates right back to 1926. My circuit board knowledge is a bit rusty, but you can geek out over it on the internet if you’d like to learn more. I believe it was part of the car’s on-board electronic speed control circuitry, which, given that

3

most hobby grade kit based cars of the time still came

1 Rear of car showing motor and drive axle 2 Detail of front suspension and mag wheel 3 Side view of car

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“I can also remember being aware that the price was far beyond anything my parents could afford. I think I just walked past looking at it, without actually touching it.�

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with mechanical speed controls, was actually a tech-

buggy available f rom Tandy at the time – enough to

nical advantage.

make test driving it in the small conf ines of the aver-

Not only that, but it enabled kids to boast about their FET Motor Drive Systems in the school playground, and when you’re 10 years old that’s pretty important. And it certainly rolled off the tongue a lot easier than Tamiya’s “FFPDS”. A long-winded suspension acronym developed for the Tamiya Super Champ. Although when your expensive radio-controlled buggy looks this good,

age Tandy store quite a challenge. I can even recall some staff letting customers drive any of the cars in the store except the Golden Arrow, for fear it would slam into other customer’s ankles. For sure, any kid whose family was lucky enough to afford one, they’re sure to have plenty of happy memories of blasting this buggy around backyards, parks and dirt tracks.

who needs acronyms. The other kids are sure to be jeal-

With it’s hard plastic body, friction shocks (no oil damp-

ous anyway.

ers), and dedicated Nikko-designed Digital Proportional

So how well did the Golden Arrow actually perform? Well, it was undoubtedly the fastest and most exciting

radio system, it was a little heavy. Overall performance was a bit short of the buggies f rom Tamiya that it desperately wanted to match, although it had no problem

“I can even recall some staff letting customers drive any of the cars in the store except the Golden Arrow, for fear it would slam into other customer’s ankles.”

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blowing away any Tamiya with the smaller 380 motor of

there’s no doubt that more than a few Golden Arrows

course (not to mention Jet Hoppers).

were taken racing back in the 1980s. After all, it was an

The Nikko radio gear used was their standard Digital Proportional handset of the day (mated to an open circuit board inside the car — not something designed to be tinkered with), which had worked admirably on many of their previous cars. However, none of Nikko’s

borhoods —rather than purely serious competition. And while competitive RC pretty much bores me nowadays, it’s nice to hear old tales such as this quote that I stumbled upon a while ago…

previous Digital Proportional cars were quite as fast as

“The funniest thing I ever saw was 1 year after Christmas at

this one— which meant the radio responsiveness actu-

a local indoor track I saw a kid come in with his brand new

ally felt a bit slow for the car. Driving a Golden Arrow at

Radio Shack Golden Arrow and win a stock class oval race,

high speed therefore required you to be a bit mindful

man you should have heard people bashing him when he

that it would respond to your commands a tiny fraction

got there and bashing each other or there kids with there

of a second slower than you might otherwise expect (if

hobby shop cars at the end. I had to give him congrats on

you’re used to fast buggies with hobby grade radios).

his victory thankfully i was running 4wd modified.”

It’s little things like this that made the ready-to-run

Not so funny after all. Clearly, in the right hands, a Golden

Golden Arrow a bit inferior to the hobby-grade buggies

Arrow was in with a shot.

of the day. Although, it wasn’t really intended for racing anyway, given that spare parts weren’t available at retail (only via special order from Tandy). Although you could easily remove and swap things like the wheels and tires, thanks to the use of standard hex nuts on all the hubs…

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era filled with fun, localized racing between kids in neigh-

Looking at the car from a design standpoint, credit has to be given to Radio Shack and Nikko for coming up with a very tidy shape. While I often talk about the toys of the 1980s as if everything was peaches and cream, the reality is that there were so many RC toys made during

But having just said that the Golden Arrow wasn’t really

that era that more than a few of them were either poorly

meant to be raced, being a 540 motor powered buggy

designed or downright ugly to look at.

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“Thanks to it’s popularity back in the day, the Golden Arrow now has reasonable collectability, as there are a fair few people with fond memories of this classic buggy.”

Not so here — this is an aerodynamic, sleek off roader

Thanks to it’s popularity back in the day, the Golden Arrow

that still carries a nice scale realism (despite the lack of

now has reasonable collectability, as there are a fair few

a driver f igure). There’s even a hint of Formula 1 think-

people with fond memories of this classic buggy.

ing in there beyond the John Player Special style black/ gold – note the little wing-tips either side of the nose and between the front wheels, which were occasionally seen on 1970s F1 cars.

As with all ready-to-run cars, the fact it never needed assembly meant that most of the examples manufactured were run immediately, leaving very, very few brand new ones left in the world. Used examples appear on

Much like a Tamiya, the car is also adorned with large warning stickers, to help you avoid injury… By early 1991, the Golden Arrow had been discontinued, although some of the successive buggies at Tandy appeared to utilize the same basic chassis with different body designs.

eBay almost all the time of course, and depending on how worn out they are, they usually fetch between $50 and $200. How much could you expect to pay for a brand new one? Well if you can ever find one, it’s got to be worth at least US$500 in my opinion. Story originally appeared on rctoymemories.com

There was also the Red Arrow (1988-1992), a similar buggy and something of a little brother to the Golden Arrow with the price point to match.

Overview Scale: 1/10 Length: 40cm Drive: 2WD Gearbox: 1-Speed Differential: Yes Suspension: Yes Digital Proportional: Yes Batteries:

1 x 7.2v Battery Pack, 4 x AA (Car)

6 x AA (Transmitter)

Original price in 1987:

$329.95

With 2019 inflation added: $652

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Electronic Culture

Why Super Nintendo is the reason you’re still playing video games

“It may be 25 years since its U.S. launch, but impact of the SNES can still be felt today” Story by: Keith Stuart

Fall 1990, ground zero for the modern games industry.

other video game companies to restrict future hardware

The six-year-old Nintendo Entertainment System (eight

releases to weekends.” What these consumers were wit-

if you count the time since its Japanese launch), with

nessing was the birth of the modern sequential console

its box-like chassis and dated visuals, looked like a relic

business, where each generation of hardware is related

of another era. Nintendo’s arch-rival Sega was killing it

but discrete. This is where the future started.

with the Genesis, thanks to an aggressive philosophy of price cuts and in-your-face advertising. In Japan, the pricey (but powerful) Neo Geo console loomed on the horizon, promising unparalleled arcade performance, while the consumer electronics giants were all tinkering with CD-ROM technology to bring interactive movies to the home.

It was a slower start in the US When the Super Famicom launched as the Super Nintendo Entertainment System on August 23rd, the Sega Genesis had over 100 titles, a lower price point, and an infamous line in TV commercials that had kids all over the continent yelling, “Sega!” at each other, replicating the screamed brand identity that

Then Nintendo changed everything. Launched in Japan in November 1990 as the Super Famicom, the SNES represented a whole new approach to the console business. It was not an attempt to elongate the lifespan of an older machine like the failed Intellivision II or Atari 7200, neither was it a completely fresh start like the Genesis or Neo Geo. Designed by NES architect, Masayuki Uemura, the Super Nintendo continued the ethos and brand image of its predecessor without obsessing over backward compatibility. When fans started queuing outside electronic stores

“The pushing and shoving were so chaotic that the Japanese government later asked Nintendo and other video game companies to restrict future hardware releases to weekends.”

throughout Japan on November 20th, they knew they were getting an entirely new platform, not some continuation or add-on; yet they were assured that the experiences they loved —Mario, Zelda, Metroid – would all be returning. In his seminal book, The Ultimate History of Video Games, Steve Kent writes about the chaos that hit when it was clear only 300,000 units would be available. “All of Tokyo was slowed down by the crowds,” he wrote. “The pushing and shoving were so chaotic that the Japanese government later asked Nintendo and

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ended every ad. Though the SNES never quite beat the total sales of its rival in the United States, while Sega had attitude and credibility, Nintendo had craft and artistry. With its two custom graphics chips and powerful audio unit, the Super Nintendo was built to an industrial design philosophy that valued beautiful audio-visual performance over sheer processing grunt. This was not a console designed to simply replicate the experience

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of going to an arcade, it was a machine intended for a whole new era of broad, complex gaming experiences. The shape and structure of games changed. This was obvious in the very first title, Super Mario World, which further expanded the whole notion of a scrolling platformer with its vast array of interconnected environments, varied enemies and plethora of new skills and features. Pilot Wings too showcased a new form of console game — half action, half simulation – with graded levels of player challenge and expertise designed to test for months as you pitted your hang glider skills against increasingly unforgiving courses. The great role-playing game producers discovered grand new narrative possibilities in the systems’ rich color palette and musical synthesis. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Final

and aesthetic charm — and alongside the likes of Super Metroid and Super Castlevania IV, they taught modern game studios like Bioware, Blizzard and Naughty Dog how to think about story, pace and structure in longform design. Their innovations are still being discovered and explored in the indie community, via the “Metroidvania” and retro RPG genres. “For me, these were the f irst games to show how deep an experience gaming could provide,” says Graham Smith of DrinkBox Studios, creator of the 2014 SNES-inspired brawler Guacamelee. “They pushed design and narratives much farther than the previous console was able to; they created a real emotional experience for the player, elevating what games could strive to be.”

Fantasy VI, Earthbound and Dragon Quest V, all had

The SNES was a platform for experienced Nintendo

their roots in the NES era, but their creators revelled in

craftspeople. It teased miracles f rom old cohorts like

possibilities the SNES provided, writing rounded charac-

Capcom (Street Fighter II, Breath of Fire, Super Ghouls

ters and orchestral scores.

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These were narrative adventures of true emotional depth

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‘n Ghosts) and Konami (Contra III, the Castlevania titles,

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“Nintendo clearly thought, well if we take the NES architecture but make a bigger chip, we can give you twice as many colors, more sprites on screen, less limitations: it literally was a Super NES.” International Superstar Soccer), and it opened up fresh

to boast astonishingly assured releases to its dying days.

avenues for Western developers like Acclaim, Interplay

Even when the PlayStation arrived in 1994, heralding a

and Rare. “The NES and Gameboy were similar in the

brave new era of 3D polygonal graphics, the SNES was

way the architecture was set up, in the number of sprites,

still dropping masterworks like Chrono Trigger, Yoshi’s

the character cells, et cetera,” explains Chris Sutherland,

Island and Harvest Moon. “For me, the SNES was a joy to

lead programmer on the Donkey Kong Country titles,

work with,” says veteran coder, John Pickford, who, while

now working on SNES-inspired adventure, Yooka-Laylee.

working at Software Creations in Manchester in late 1990,

“Nintendo clearly thought, well if we take the NES archi-

received the first SNES development kit outside of Japan.

tecture but make a bigger chip, we can give you twice

“What really struck me about the SNES was that it was

as many colors, more sprites on screen, less limitations:

truly designed for making fast 2D games. Whilst it’s

it literally was a Super NES. By then, developers were

true the CPU was quite slow—and I later learned it was

wringing all sorts of stuff out of the NES, so when they

deliberately under-clocked due to an aborted NES com-

moved on to the SNES it was easy— they knew all the

patibility mode—this wasn’t really a huge problem.”

tricks already, they didn’t have to relearn everything from scratch.”

That’s because the dedicated graphics chips did all the hard work of drawing the images to the TV screen,

Furthermore, the stability of the platform allowed cre-

allowing the CPU to focus on raw data like where the

ativity to flourish. So while Sega muddied the legacy

Mario sprite was in relation to the rest of the objects in

of the Genesis with its attachments, updates, and the

play. “For a ZX Spectrum coder like me, that almost felt

Saturn(its underpowered follow-up) the SNES was able

like cheating!” says Pickford.

1

2

1 Inspector Gadget was based on the popular TV show of the time period 2 Mario Paint was a staple of every SNES game collection

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“The SNES taught us that home consoles could be more than home arcades or toys, they could be an accessible medium for story and experience.�

Overview Lifespan: 1990-2003 Regions Available: NA Units Sold:

49.10 Million Worldwide

Wall Voltage: 120v

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Media:

ROM Cartridge

CPU:

Ricoh 5a22 @ 3,58 MHz

Original price in 1990:

$199 (US)

With 2019 inflation added:

$396 (US)

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The SNES, then, occupied a unique place in the history of games, straddling the inventive chaos of the Eighties and the technological confidence of the Nineties. It closed the era of pixel art and computer-generated music, and welcomed 3D visuals with the Super FX chip, (which was housed in the game cartridges themselves). If there is no classic Super Nintendo title in your past, if you did not willingly submit hours of your life to Super Mario Kart, Star Fox or Street Fighter II Turbo, a game designer you respect certainly did. Blizzard started out making interesting hybrid role-playing platformers like Lost Vikings and Blackthorne on the console. The creators of Cave Story and Shovel Knight hark back unselfconsciously to the era. Naughty Dog founders Jason Rubin and Andy

1

Gavin cite the character platformers of the SNES era as a major influence on Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter. “We were most derivative of Donkey Kong Country,” he admitted to industry news site Gamasutra. “That was the game that we really looked at, if you look at the way the levels were structured.” Ryan Lee of Cellar Door Games, the creators of Rogue Legacy, is keen to emphasize that the influence of SNES games is about more than their quaint pixelated visuals. “We had a huge soft spot for the RPGs f rom back then,” he says. “The great thing about them was how varied they were in their gameplay. People remember the story, the music, etc. But people don’t give enough love for how much depth there was to their combat systems. They were much more nuanced in their design

2

compared to many RPGs nowadays which, to me, feel superficial.” The SNES taught us that home consoles could be more than home arcades or toys – they could be an accessible medium for story and experience – for everyone. You play the games you do because someone somewhere played something on the SNES. Story originally appered in Rolling Stone

3 1 Back or unit showing the transformer and coaxial plugs 2 Front of unit showing the controller plugs 3 Mouse and mouse pad setup included in Mario Paint

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Join hundreds of competitive gamers when they converge on the Toronto Congress Center to compete for the right to be named Canada's top vintage gamer. Compete across multiple platforms from the '70s & '80s 30

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TORONTO CHALLENGE September 17-19 2020 Toronto Congress Center

torontovintagegamingchallenge.ca

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Toybox 2020  

A magazine featuring different toys and games.

Toybox 2020  

A magazine featuring different toys and games.

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