I know what you’re thinking. I can’t believe Mr. Nostalgia is writing a blog about sports, that’s something I never expected him to do. I never expected to do this either. Ever. But the other night, something made me think of some toys my brother had when we were kids, then the next thing I know, I have a blog idea. First off, let me just say I was never the athletic type. I could tell horror stories of when my mother signed me up for baseball, soccer, school basketball, even karate (if I know who Bruce Lee was back then I think I would have went for Kung Fu and stuck with it though.). The kids in my Catholic Grammar school I had known since Kindergarten, so while we all grew up together and most became “jocks”, I became a “geek”, we were all still friends. They were dreaming of becoming a professional football or baseball player, and I was dreaming of becoming Spider-man. They would draw their favorite sports team logo on their brown paper bag book cover, and I would be writing down the cast of Marvel Comics Spider-ham characters.
Growing up in my house, my dad was a hockey fan, and even played ice hockey sometimes. He was a Rangers fan, as was my brother. Since my dad always controlled the TV that meant we had to watch whatever show he wanted to watch, and that meant watching the Ranger game when it was on. Even if I didn’t watch the game and I went to my room I could still tell what was happening in the game by his shouts of “Come on!” if the Rangers weren’t doing well, or the excited shouts of “Yeah!” followed by a loud clap if they scored.
I too chose a team to like, but chose one that was the farthest away from the Rangers as I possibly could. The L.A. Kings. (I’m proud to say I was a Kings fan BEFORE Gretzky joined the team, he was just a cool added bonus!). The only understanding of hockey playing I had was this: 1) stick, 2) puck, 3) net, 4) shoot the puck into the net past the goalie. If a professional NHL team called me right now to play for them, in the game I’d be falling all over the place because I can’t skate, tripping over the blue line, and be called for icing so much you could decorate a wedding cake with it (little hockey humor there). That said, I loved playing street hockey as a kid, when we were younger with my dad, and when were older with our neighbors across the street, and sometimes my brother would let me go with him when he was in high-school and we were on holiday break to a school ground and play with his friends. He never complained about my playing, so I must have been doing something right.
I had four L.A. Kings collectibles, two of which I still have today. One was a L.A. Kings logo charm my brother gave me as a gift for my Confirmation since he was my Sponsor. I used to wear that on my chain behind my cross. The Second was a L. A. Kings black hat that I wore constantly. The third were hockey cards that I would get while I was going to get my comics. I tried to build a Kings collection but never had much luck, and gave whatever cards that weren’t L.A. Kings related to my brother, though I did have a bunch of the ones when Gretzky joined the team. Finally my parents one year got me a King’s hockey jersey, the yellow and purple colors with the crown on the front and my last name on the back. I forget which number they had on it. That is in a bin in my parent’s attic. That and my charm are all I have left.
While playing street hockey is a great memory, what really prompted me to write this blog were three toys I remember my brother had that we used to play. One was called Sure Shot Hockey and was made by Ideal toys. The game itself was simple, a small hockey arena was made out of plastic, with four players, two blue and two red. Dials on the side slid forwards and backwards and spun 360 degrees so you could control them, and a little black marble represented the puck. The concept was, of course, to try and get more points than your opponent. I remember playing this game on our living room floor with not only my brother but my dad as well. If you spun the dial strong enough the marble would fly off the game like a slap shot into the crowd, which was always cool to do. My sister and I tried playing this game with a regular marble once, but it was too heavy for the players to move, so we stuck with the one provided.
The second game my brother and I used to play was in our attic bedroom and was called Super Stick, Super Jock Hockey, made by Schaper. This toy, too, was simple to play. There were three parts to it. The first was a net that you built, the second looked like a shield but was a plastic goal tender with a stick on the side so you could sit off to the side of the net and block shots. The final piece was a large purple hockey player (almost L.A. Kings colors there) that said “Super Jock”. He was connected to a base, and when you put one of the two pucks it came with in front of the stick, you would pop down on his head and shoot the puck at the goal and your friend playing the goalie would have to try and block it. I remember playing this game tons of times with my brother.
The third game was I believe made by Coleco and was a table top game called the Stanley Cup Playoff. It actually came with a plastic little Stanley Cup and a puck. The size of this game was quite large, maybe two feet long if I’m going by memory, and representing the ice was a board that was painted white and had all the proper marks of a hockey ice arena, and had slots cut into it. From these slots little pegs stuck out that plastic hockey figures would connect to, and you controlled them through a bunch of rods on each end of the game, one for one team, the other for the other team. Some rods, depending on where the player was located, were longer, while those closer to the goalie had shorter ones, and the goalie himself had the smallest that moved him right and left. This game was much more complicated to play because not only did you need to remember which rod controlled which player, but you had to watch the puck as your opponent tried to shoot at your goal, defend your goal, and try to shoot back at his. With the amount of players on the “ice” it took lots of concentration to control the puck and work the rods. The players themselves were just plastic molds that had stickers on them. I remember my brother and I drawing scars on some of the players faces as if they got hit in the face with the puck, I don’t remember what teams we had, I think one was blue that my brother pretended was the Rangers while I pretended the other team was the L.A. Kings.
My brother still has these toys in my parents attic in a crawlspace stored away, only my sister’s bins of collectibles are blocking the entrance. I know one day we’ll have to rescue these games and play them, which would be great to do and really feel like old times. I’m sure also my brother would like to take these home for when his son is old enough to play, they could play them together. He’s already started trying to get him into hockey by having him wear a Rangers shirt. But I have a plan to save the kid, whenever I’m there when he’s older and wants to play the game, his Uncle Nostalgia will play it with him and I’ll talk him into liking the L.A. Kings instead.
Nothing personal, brother, I just want someone else in our family to root for my team!
Until next time,