Thursday, June 30, 2016

Riske Business: Hot Merch (1980s Edition)

by Adam Riske
What was your favorite piece of movie merch from when you were a kid?

Just today I was shopping for presents for my niece and nephew’s birthdays at Target when I stumbled upon a ridiculous (yet somewhat logical) piece of movie merchandise: the Now You See Me 2 Magic Case with 150 tricks. To those of you who have seen either or both of the Now You See Me movies, this is especially ludicrous because those movies have like zip, zero, no “real” magic in them. It’s all computer-generated nonsense. That got me thinking about some of my favorite movie toys from when I was growing up. Here’s a sample:
1. Masters of the Universe Sticker Album: A staple of my kindergarten year, Masters of the Universe was probably the first time I learned about negotiating. I had a neighbor who lived across the street who also collected the Masters of the Universe stickers for the sticker album as well and I would always try to make trades with him for the stickers I needed and he was almost always inflexible. Some 5 year-olds just want to watch the world burn! I don’t think I finished collecting all of the stickers I needed for this sticker book and this is one of my life’s biggest failures.
2. The Land Before Time Pizza Hut Hand Puppets: I loved these! Pizza Hut had some hot merch back in the day. The brilliant part about these toys is that Pizza Hut realized that every movie fan at the end of the day just want to get inside their cinema heroes. Just kidding. Look at the eyes on these fucking things. They must have been made by someone who is high. This story ends well because my mom saved my Land Before Time hand puppets and they have since become part of the toy collection of my niece and nephew and (one day) my own kids.
3. Willow Action Figures: I was obsessed with Willow when I was a kid. I had this magic trick thing that I got out of a cereal box (and subsequently lost because I accidentally threw it out at a 31 Flavors) and a ton of these Willow action figures. In one of my parents’ coolest moments (of which there are many) they took me to the store to buy a Willow action figure after I ran into a wall at a McDonalds birthday party and busted my noggin’ and needed stitches.
4. Ghostbusters 2 Soundtrack and Magazine Ad: I went to a doctor’s appointment once and in the waiting room and just about fainted when I saw a full color magazine ad for Ghostbusters 2. I was so excited that I asked my mom to ask the doctor if I could rip the page out of the magazine and keep it. He let me and I’ve been sick ever since.
I also loved my cassette tape of the Ghostbusters 2 soundtrack. I used to take my Fisher-Price tape recorder outside with me and listen to that tape over and over, sometimes dancing to it.

5. Batman 1989 Remote-Control Batmobile: Chanukah 1989 was all about Batman toys. I got a lot of them, including the Batwing and a bunch of the action figures. The prize jewel of my collection was my remote control Batmobile. I took it to the top of the stairs and drove it down the stairs. The thing broke. That’s when I learned that heroes have their limits.

What are some toys from 1980s movies that you owned as a kid and were all about?

Coming Next Week: Hot Merch! (1990s Edition)


  1. This is dope, dope, dope, dope!! What a great article! I had the Ducky and Sharptooth puppets, and chewed the shit out of both those faces in 1988. And how fucking cool is that two-headed Willow dragon?? And I will always love Meg Foster, especially Evil-Lyn, no matter what. I don't care if she assassinates Daddario because the ghost of Sean Young (still alive) told her to. Great stuff, man!

    1. Plus, here's a weird one: had the Rocketeer and Tim Burton Batman "Candy Heads" they came filled with Pez like candy and my family was so poor that I kept the containers for use as toys later. As I recall, the Rocketeer one had moveable arms and you had to remove his head to get to the candy. This means that The Rocketeer got decapitated by his own limbs as they exploded off his own body in slow motion a lot. Good thing he had nothing from the torso down already, because who knows what type of damage I'd had figured out how to cause down there.

  2. I'd be able to contribute way more to the Hot Merch (1990s edition).

    My 80s collection is pretty paltry but I am the proud owner of all SIX DUNE ACTION FIGURES. Sadly I'm missing all the accessories - not least the cat milking machine that came with the Sting figure (note: this is not a joke, the figure really came with that accessory).

  3. McDonald's "Goonies" Glasses set - and still have one that survived!
    Also, I'll never forget that I was wearing a Ghostbusters T-Shirt when I had my first kiss in '85.

  4. Speaking of magazine ads, I think the one for Twins hung above my bed for about two years.

  5. I had a bunch of Star Wars toys, but the best 80s swag I had was actually not movie-related, but is close enough: a Knight Rider lunchbox. Check it out.

    1. Nice call with the lunchbox swag, Mark. I had the Lazer Tag lunchbox:

      However, I can't remember if Lazer Tag was a thing outside of the vest and guns. I'll have to look into it, but those toys were sooo fun. Pew pew pew!

    2. It most definitely was:

  6. Original 3d hanging Artwork from Evil dead 2 promo theatrical release, All my 80s video nasties VHS collection, a box of Matches from the release of The Burning with The Burning on them, and a betamax original Evil dead VHS cassette, Commadore 64 Evil dead video game on Cassette tape, 1981 First release of Evil dead, Finally a few Killer Clowns from outer space figures.