The Legend of Cecilio Guante
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Paying Homage to Some Old School "Sports Toys"

The Pinnacle of 80s Sports Toys

These kids today with their fancy iPhones, Crackberrys, PS3s and what-have-you. Back in the days of Z. Cavarricci’s and Dial MTV, I grew up without the benefit of countless gadgets and Madden to keep me occupied. Heck, I was the lone soldier among my friends who didn’t have Nintendo (the horror!). My mother deprived me (still bitter) of one of my generation’s seemingly-obligatory rites of passage and, in the process, ensured that I was the butt of endless jokes (after cluelessly inquiring as to who Glass Joe might be). I am still scarred today.

Therefore, I often found myself entertained in non-digital ways. Several of those toys that succeeded in keeping me adequately distracted were sports-oriented. OK, that may be stretching it…let’s say they were toys that lent themselves toward some sort of physical activity (at least more so than joystick calisthenics…easy, fellas). In their honor, here’s a casual recollection of some of the (relatively) low-cost, low-tech sportsy “toys” of my younger days. So, pool tables, ping-pong and pop-a-shot, you’re out. Here’s what’s in…perhaps you recall?

Hackey Sack
Here’s the deal with hackey sacks. You were either a hackey sack guy or gal or you weren’t, there wasn’t much in-between. I was the latter, and I could never really fake it. Yet hackey sacks were cheap and mobile, so I occasionally found myself bored-as-hell trying to boot this non-bouncy little bag of beads up in the air more than three or four times in a row. Trying to do so only increased my boredom ten-fold. To this day, I still hate f-in hackey sacks.

Knock Hockey
Now, I did dig me some knock hockey. I’d be lying if I said there were not many hours devoted to this simple little game. That said, knock hockey fits in the category with most of these 80s toys in the sense that you wonder how such things could have ever occupied you for more than five minutes. I recall playing knock hockey for hours. I can’t even imagine playing knock hockey for two minutes right now. Now, air hockey (infinitely better) or dome hockey (commie bastards), that could be another story. But that’s for another post and another price-bracket.

Now, Kadima is a tricky one. My memories are somewhat fond. However, such recollections are skewed because Kadima was a beach toy for me. Take a kid away from school and to water and free land and most activities seem infinitely more enjoyable. Still, I have some issues with the wooden paddle “tennis-like” game.

It mostly stems around the fact that you’re whacking around this bouncy rubber ball on a “court” made of sand. What’s the point of the bouncy little ball if it can’t bounce? Ugh, the bending over and picking up…and starting again…and a rally…and buried in the sand…and down…and up. I’m tired just thinking about it. Maybe my playing partners just sucked, but Kadima always seemed one step short of a first-rate 80s sports toy.

Ooooo-wee! When the Aerobie first came out, it was the balls. Sweetest damn flying disc you ever did lay your sweet eyes upon. Unlike the always-tricky traditional frisbee, the Aerobie was almost idiot-proof allowing even the novice to rear back and sling that space-aged apparatus the length of a football field – or so it seemed. Like most kids (I think), I had a quick high from the Aerobie that slowly faded.

It wasn’t an easy-to-use sports toy for my suburban lifesylye. I think that had to be part of it. I mean, sure you could go out and chuck the thing for miles with a buddy, but how often did you set a playdate with your grade-school friends at a football field. Backyards were too small to even contain the Aerobie and chucking the thing as far as you could and then chasing it down yourself like a dog never quite did it for me. And like that, poof, it was gone (at least from my toy chest).

The Pogo Ball was a sleeper. My silver-and-black model got more than its fair share of usage in my parents’ driveway. The bottom of that ball was scratched and scuffed from asphalt so badly you could barely recognize the thing. Yet, the pogo ball kept us occupied. It did its job. My main pogo ball beef is that the ball lost its pressure slowly over time. The flatter it went the more exertion you had to put to getting the damn thing off the ground you could keep bouncing around.

I ain’t afraid to say it. I ROCKED my Skip It. Morning, noon, night, indoors and out, I couldn’t get enough of the thing. For those who don’t know (or are pretending not to remember), Skip It was this innovative (not) toy where you stepped into the circle with one leg and then whipped said leg around in a circle “skipping” over it each time with your other leg. The bulb-like apparatus on the end counted how many skips you’d made until you inevitably failed to jump your chubby ass over said bulb and/or broke your ankle stepping on the thing. Skip It didn’t have a lot of flaws outside the fact the technologically-sophisticated “counter” never seemed to work.

Jordan Jammer
Best. Ever. Forget Jordan. The Jordan Jammer is where it was at. The Jordan Jammer didn’t just entertain children. It didn’t simply “keep me busy.” The Lil’ Sports Jordan Jammer changed lives. I won’t repeat myself but such is gospel. I can remember the first time I lined up a folding chair a la Gerald Wilkins in the ’86 Slam Dunk Contest. Invigorating, breathtaking, empowering…

So, what other cheap sports toys filled up your 80s play time? C’mon, don’t front like you don’t know what I’m talking about. It’s OK to admit you had and loved your Skip It too. Although if you have one bad thing to say about the Jordan Jammer consider yourself excused and don’t bother ever coming back.

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  1. skins fan

    June 18, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    What about that velcro paddle game? It was great… for about three hours then the velcro ball would lose its ability to stick to the stupid circle paddle that was, you guessed it, velcro’ed (sp?) to your hand.

  2. Sports Tsar

    June 19, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    The velcro paddle game is still a great one. Better suited for picnics on grassy knolls than beaches though. I hated when sand would get all up in that thing.

    I was fairly terrified of the Skip It. Was fairly convinced that the big thing on the end would come around and shatter my ankle if my form wasn't perfect. Not a risk i was willing to take as a child.

  3. krissitting

    June 24, 2009 at 11:48 am

    does anyone know how i can buy a skip it? i got rid of mine long ago (stupid) and now cant find one anywhere! i want it!!

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