Toys & Games

Wrist Racers

The launch pad for the wind-up marvels called Wrist Racers was worn around the wrist like a watch, which meant you had to lie face down on the floor to play with them. Launching them from a standing position wasn’t as much fun as it sounds. The Dukes Of Hazzard General Lee model was weighted at the(…)

WWF Action Figures

Action figures had many faces in the early 80s – the blonde brawn of He-Man, the buzz-cut ruggedness of G.I. Joe – but few were as famous as Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Rowdy Roddy Piper and the rest of the World Wrestling Federation. Professional wrestling had already been around for decades before Hogan and his(…)

X-Ray Spex (Specs)

Advertised in American comics, X-Ray Spex appeared to be a technological marvel. Despite only costing a few dollars they enabled you to see the bones in your hand, the lead in a pencil, the yolk of an egg and other “blushingly funny” amazing things – which adolescent boys all over the world too to mean just(…)


It wasn’t like pinball machines hadn’t been sexy before – many a lad had pumped his pocket money into Slick Chick just to spend more time with those painted-on bunnies – but there was something about Xenon that just dripped honey-drenched sexpot goodness. Part of it was the alluring female robot on the backglass, part of it was the cool(…)


Inspired by the Alien films and countless other sci-fi suspense flicks, this game sent a group of unlucky scientists and soldiers into a series of bases, each one overrun by slime-spewing, flesh-eating aliens. The game had a unique split-level screen (top, middle and bottom), allowing up to three players to explore the tainted base either(…)



A classic vertically-scrolling shoot-em-up Namco arcade game (distributed by Atari), Xevious sent your “Solvalou” craft into solo battle against the invading Xevious armies. Unfortunately, the Xevious could attack from the air and ground as well, putting your Solvalou into the heart of a deadly crossfire. Two separate buttons controlled your blaster and your bombs, allowing(…)


The first version of Yahtzee was invented by a moneyed Canadian couple in 1956 aboard their yacht, of all places. Among the couple’s boating coterie, the dice-rolling game was called “the yacht game”, and everyone who rolled wanted a game of his own. The couple approached Edwin Lowe, the brains behind the Bingo games of(…)

Yes & Know Books

Any kid who had to make long car trips knew very well the pleasures of a good Yes & Know book. After spending so much time in close quarters with your family, there was nothing you wanted more than a little “me time”, playing games with nobody but little old you. Yes & Know not only delivered that(…)


A playground favourite for millions of school children the world over, the Yo-Yo is actually, according to some historians, one of the oldest toys around. Museums hold examples of terracotta Yo-Yo’s from ancient Greece, and wall-paintings in Egyptian temples are said to depict playthings recognisable to the modern eye. While there is little evidence to(…)


1982 gamers had never seen anything like Sega/Gremlin’s Zaxxon. Players had flown spaceships into strafing raids and interstellar dogfights before, but Zaxxon did it in something approaching 3-D, putting a whole new perspective on action games. The game was actually played in an isometric three-quarters’ view, giving the illusion of depth as your craft dove(…)


“Moving across the landscape, overrunning all obstacles as inexorably as the future itself, these amazing, efficient and powerful automatons have but one purpose – to serve their masters at work and play!” The Ideal Toy Company’s line of poorly-selling Motorific Trucks were collecting dust on the factory shelves, and with Mattel’s Major Matt Mason already(…)

Zig Zag Zoom

Zillion Bubble Blower

By themselves, the words ‘bubble blower’ didn’t inspire much awe. Ten-cent sets of rings and bubble fluid could blow bubbles. Heck, even dish soap could blow bubbles. Big deal . . .But add the word “Zillion” and suddenly it was a whole new bubblegame. Who knew exactly how many a zillion was? – but it(…)


Let’s face it. Model toys took a long time to build. And for all the hours we sat hunched over the kitchen table, dizzy from the combination of glue and indecipherable assembly instructions, the finished product was a toy that just, well, sat there. But not Zoids. These robotic dinosaurs, wild animals and insects could(…)