Nostalgia: Christmas not so very long ago

1 Jan

Christmas, not so very long ago


forbidden_planet_poster_03The Forbidden Planet was one of my favorite sci-fi movies growing up. Released in 1956, it starred Leslie Nielson (of Airplane fame), Walter Pidgeon and Anne Francis. It also utilized the Disney animators in bringing the monster of the planet alive.Forbidden_planet_monster

For me, the real star was Robby the Robot. This bubbly stainless-steel creature with rotating antennae was fascinating to me! Robby reappeared in the Lost in Space television series, as well as numerous other films and television appearances.

Whatta guy!

And guess what?

A miniature toy replica, with working antennae and the ability to walk storm-trooper-like across carpeted floors, was created and sold. And THAT’s what I wanted for Christmas! A Robby the Robot mechanical toy!

Sad to say I didn’t get Robby, but Robert the Robot, and unreasonable facsimile thereof.

mechanized-robby-robotThe difference between the two was glaring. Robby looked just like his larger movie self. And Robby operated on batteries, and walked independently.

Robert, on the other hand, was square-ish and awkward-looking, and was tethered to a control cord with a plastic box at the other end. Robert kind of skated along when the operator wound a lever that twisted in the control cord and turned roller gears. No batteries. And a lot of turning effort to get old Robert to move even an inch or two. And his movement was jerky, too.robert-the-robot

Growing up, we kids couldn’t wait for the Sears Christmas Toy Catalog to come in the mail. Each of us fought to hole up with the color photographed book and circle all the toys we wanted.


FtApacheFullMine were things like Fort Apache: a miniature plastic wall of pointed logs with a sentry post and corral fence pieces; soldiers in various positions, like on one knee aiming a rifle that bent off to one side, or on horseback, wielding a saber above their head. And the Indians with bows and arrows and tomahawks.

Or the Mattel Fanner 50 cowboy pistol and holster set, with silver plastic bullets you could actually put into the bullet chambers.Mattel_Fanner-50

My sisters? Barbie crap.

original-barbieAlthough I must admit to slinking off with one of their Barbies to check out anatomy.

Typically we would get some of the stuff we wanted. Also typical was the swing-and-a-miss when I would get a Robert instead of a Robby.

Like the Christmas I wanted a baritone ukulele, and got a regular ukulele.

All in all, we made out like bandits. Within hours of tearing open Christmas packages at 6 am we were out the door to visit friends to see what they got. That was a mixed bag. I remember one year the Lynches, who lived behind us got a motorized plastic car big enough to sit in and drive. Sure, it went about 1 mile a month, and the battery needed constant changing, but a car!

I think about those days when Christmas rolls around. Nowadays the kids in my life have Amazon wish lists, and it’s a click here and there and, voila! Shopping is done! The only real tension is whether or not all the gifts will arrive in time to spend hours wrapping them so the recipients can spend seconds unwrapping them.

No requests for Robby the Robot. No requests for Tinker Toys or Lincoln Logs or Erector Sets or Fanner 50s or Fort Apaches.

I guess those will forever be the ghosts of Christmas Past.


Copyright, 2016

6 Responses to “Nostalgia: Christmas not so very long ago”

  1. winnymarlina January 2, 2016 at 1:09 am #

    happy new year

  2. Outlier Babe January 2, 2016 at 4:41 pm #

    Christmas surely cannot be the same now. Part of it is because many parents buy their children everything all year long, or hand out so much money the kids buy it themselves.

    I bought Fort Apache for my boys–they still made it in the 90’s.

    There was a little import store in Pasadena in the 80’s that sold your robot.

    That monster in Fantastic Planet used to scare the cr#p out of me!
    😀 So, when I got older, I took my sister to the theater to see it, to scare HER–Bwah-ah-ah!

    • skipmars January 2, 2016 at 6:45 pm #

      That’s cruel. But definitely the prerogative of an older sibling. “The Day the World Ended” cost me a whole box of popcorn and a full cup of Coca-Cola, which I threw into the air during one of those scenes calculated to make you pee! I ran out of the theater and asked the person in the ticket booth to call my Gommie (grandmother). My very irate older sisters caught up to me and we left. Years later my eldest sister confessed she was glad I freaked so that she could leave, too.

      • Outlier Babe January 2, 2016 at 7:45 pm #

        Ha ha ha!! I think more of you as a man for confessing that. 🙂

  3. skipmars January 2, 2016 at 7:49 pm #

    Well, I was about six years old at the time. Now I avoid scary movies altogether.

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