When I think back to the toys I played with during the 80s, a few highlights come to mind. My Pet Monster was one of my favorites. The cartoon aired on a few of the Canadian stations we managed to pick up at my house. I used to rent the movie from the local corner store until they started offering NES games. But I never got my hands on the actual toy. I had some smaller knockoff version.
I really liked Gremlins too. The toys rocked, but the movie made me cry. Sometimes I still wake in a sweat deep in the night screaming “Gizmo! Noooo!” At least I don’t wet the bed anymore. Now I go in the laundry basket when I sleep walk.
Now Madballs, I could afford those. And we had a hell of a time with them.The only problem was figuring out how to play with the damned things. They looked cool, but what did they DO? We tried using them to play golf, baseball, soccer. That never worked. But boy did they bounce, like a dry sponge on pavement. Seriously, watch the commercial I posted below. Those kids slam those balls into the pavement and . . . nothing.
And almost any traditional sports balls worked better as tools for vandalism than a Madball. Madballs wouldn’t break windows like a real baseball, but you could make your friends wince when you lobbed one at their heads, and the only thing that grossed out my cousins more than a Madball was throwing a frog with a firecracker in its mouth at them. We weren’t allowed to play with firecrackers without supervision, unfortunately, so Madballs were about all we had.
There are toys from my youth that I’ve forgotten over time. But Madballs keep cropping up. A few years ago they were re-released for a short time. I picked one up at the local drug store and decided, against better judgment, to open it. Then most of the paint peeled off the front of Oculus Orbis and it was ruined. I should have left it in the package.
About a decade before that, one of the video rental businesses shut down, and I found a VHS tape of Madballs cartoons.
The cartoons are horrible, just like Garbage Pail Kids and all of the other cartoons released during the 80s. But the nostalgia factor cannot be denied, and I find myself still popping it in from time to time.
The premise: the Madballs fight against a fascist warthog Madball and his henchmen for the right to rock and roll. With the help of a few friends, the Madballs band plays shitty old rock tunes from the 50s under public domain, and recycle the same shitty jokes every other cartoon from the 80s used. But damn, do they look cool while doing it.
And while My Pet Monster and other toys have long since been laid to rest, Madballs are still alive and kicking, appearing in an Ipod game called Babo Crash HD. The re-release of the original toys was successful enough to warrant the generation of new characters, and another re-release in which you can squeeze the Madballs to reveal their innards (pictured above). I’d like to get my hands on one of those.
Below you can check out one of the old commercials for Madballs, which, incidentally, I don’t remember either: