I have vivid memories of many of the toys I had when I was young. As an adult, I’ve amassed a good sized collection of toys from the 80s era. Only a few of them were actually mine “back in the day”. Take Transformers, for instance. Of the dozens of vintage toys I now own, only around twenty or so are leftover from my childhood. Of all the toys, these are the most special, as I’ve loved them the longest. The fact that thirty-five or more years have passed since I first got them makes them precious. They are also a finite group; while I remember owning more toys, over the years, they’ve been lost, sold, thrown out, or otherwise misplaced.
Think how amazing it would be to come across a toy that was actually yours when you were young. Not one just like it, but the exact same toy that you played with years and years ago. Wouldn’t it be an amazing thing? It would be like having a piece of your childhood back.
Recently, this happened to me. I was given back a toy that was mine, many years ago. And, indeed, it was amazing.
My wife and I visited some friends of ours not too long ago. They are half a generation older than me, right between my age and my parents’ age. We hadn’t seen them in years and it was so nice catching back up with them. Right as we were leaving, one of our friends said “Oh, I almost forgot” and ran off, returning with a gray, padded bag.
“This was yours,” he said. “When you got older, your mom gave it to our boys.” He handed me the bag, and I opened it to find this.
It’s a remote control car, a Lobo IV, as made famous by the Sears Wish Book. This was a Christmas gift from my parents in 1989. I was fifteen years old then. Maybe a little too old to play with toys, but an RC vehicle seems like a little bit more than a toy, doesn’t it?
I was flabbergasted. Immediately, memories flooded back. Taking the car to church so I could drive it all over the parking lot after services. Walking down the street, seeing how fast I could get it to go on a fresh battery charge. This was MY TOY. Sure, maybe some of the dirt and cracks in the plastic came from the second owners, but still… it was the exact RC car I had when I was young.
Unfortunately, time had not been good to my ol’ Lobo. The antenna was broken, and there was no battery charger. Who knew whether the battery would even work? Probably not, it was thirty years old! Thankfully, I have a buddy who is into high end RC cars and he fixed it all up for me. New battery, new charger, repaired antenna, plus more stuff I don’t really understand… and now it’s back up an running great.
It was a real kick to take it out for a spin. It runs great on pavement, but gets stuck in grass. My understanding is the Lobo cars from Sears are all a step above “toy” class, but not quite “high end” as far as RC vehicles go. That’s fine with me. It’s awesome to take it out for a spin. My nephews are also fans, and sharing the experience with them was a whole lot of fun.
As I get older, everything from my youth is becoming more and more scarce. Vintage toys are always getting more expensive. Old media like cassettes and videotapes are deteriorating such that they can’t be used. Ask any comic book or video game collector and they’ll tell you: old stuff is pricey. I could not put a price on getting my old Lobo IV RC car back these many years later. It’s the next best thing to a time machine. I loved the car then, and I love it still.