Christmas 1986, the best Christmas of my youth

The Christmas of 1986 will forever remain the high water mark for my childhood. It was our first year in the “new” house, the Christmas of ’85 having been spent in a  rental house. ’85 was a really good Christmas with a number of particularly awesome gifts, but ’86 was the big one.  For starters it was my second “white Christmas” which is always a treat. Then of course it was the first Christmas in the new house which was awesome. But most of all this was the year that Santa Claus came through in fine style. Never before or since have I had a Christmas of such opulence, such grandeur, such decadence, such AWESOME.

The cluster of presents under the tree was truly daunting. Various shapes and sizes that set my 7 year old mind on fire. The big deal had to be my very own TV! I was stunned. I hadn’t asked for it. Honestly the thought of a TV of my very own had never truly entered my head. It wasn’t what you would call a “good” TV. It was an old second hand 13 inch deal which could only get 13 channels. That didn’t matter to me though, I had a TV! in my room! AWESOME!

The next big present is a bit of a, I dunno exactly how to put it. I’ve written before about my history with video game consoles, I won’t go into it again here.  To go with my TV I also received an Atari 7800. At the time I was both thrilled and hugely disappointed. All my friends had Nintendo Entertainment Systems. I was super happy to have a video game system, happier still when it was revealed that my Grandparents had purchased for me a copy of Ghostbusters for said system, but still, Atari was circling the drain and the NES was clearly the future. The 7800 would hold on for about 6 more months before finally disappearing. On Christmas morning though I was still pretty jazzed.


I’ve already mentioned the Ghostbusters game I received for the Atari, but I’m going to mention it again because that’s just the depth of my fanaticism for the Ghostbustas. I was ridiculously deep into the ghostbusters. I was certain I was going to BE a ghostbuster when I grew up. I watched the animated series religiously. I had a notebook that I chronicled the stats and characteristics of every ghost. Yes, I made my own Tobin’s Spirit Guide because the genuine article wasn’t available at my local library (due to it’s non existence, unbeknownst to me). So, you can just imagine how insane I went when I opened that present. I wanted nothing more than to set up the Atari and TV immediately and spend the rest of my natural existence playing Ghostbusters. It’s a shame the game SUCKS. But I was 7,  and only the forgiving mind of a child could excuse the myriad of faults in that steaming load of video game.


That Christmas there was one toy that had taken a stranglehold on my imagination. It’s truly ridiculous. I had an elaborate fantasy built up in my head about this toy and how it would interact with other toys in my collection.

Yes, Tyco’s Turbo Train. This train was so fast it could go up walls. Or so the ad made me believe. I later came to understand that the train was attached to the tracks in a more magnetic fashion. Hardly mattered to me at the time though. This thing glowed in the dark and was wicked fast. I had these elaborate plans to build intricate robotics into a 12″ mego Spider-Man doll allowing Spidey to ride on top of the train. I had envisioned a scenario where the train would go vertical, at which point Spidey would release, dropping towards the track below, but because of the incredible speed of Turbo Train, it would beat him to the bottom and he’d land back on top of the train which would carry on its route. I know, ridiculous, but I was 7, sue me. Alas those incredible plans (I even had blue prints for the mechanisms to be installed in Spidey) were dashed when I finally opened Turbo Train and discovered a major disparity in scale. Turbo train is down right minuscule. The leg of the Spider-Man doll I had intended to “ride” on top of the train was considerably larger than the train itself. Turbo Train taught me a valuable lesson about advertising and television’s ability to augment reality.  Also the “Nite Glow” feature sucked hard.


You might think there could be no more, but you are SO wrong. At this time I was a major Robocop fanatic, despite being WAY too young to have seen the film. I’d seen the posters though, and the commercials, and Robocop was designed to capture my mind and never release it. He just looked so cool! I wanted a toy of Robocop so bad, but it would be another year or so before the first Robocop action figure would be made available. Not a very good one either. Luckily for me I had found an action figure in the C.O.P.S line that I thought was quite Robocop-esque and also came with a vehicle that also felt very Robocopy to me. Thus it was that waiting for me under the tree was a makeshift Robocop figure in the guise of the Ironsides Vehicle with Hardtop action figure from the C.O.P.S N’ Crooks line.

But wait! There’s still more! This year I also got my first Stereo. This is back in the day mind you, when CD players were reasonably new. I was a little young for the music scene yet, but it was exciting to now have a tape-deck, cd player and radio all in one unit with speakers and stuff. My parents got me the Phantom of the Opera CD set with it which I listened to constantly, being way into the Phantom, wholly because of the wicked mask. A few years later I would actually get to see Phantom in Vancouver, which was quite cool. That stereo system lasted me until around 2003 when it finally kicked the bucket. I do however still use the speakers that it came with as part of my smaller home theatre set up in my room. I probably got more use out of that Stereo than anything I’ve ever owned. It’s weird to think of it like that, thanks mum and dad 🙂

Finally, there was the item I specifically wrote to Santa about. I can remember clearly, sitting in my grade 2 classroom as we all wrote letters to Santa. I think it was meant to be an exercise so we could practice writing. I was fine with that because I had something special to ask Santa for. You see, I loved Transformers, but there was one Autobot that captured my heart more than any other. Wheeljack. The creator of the Dinobots, the resident Autobot genius and also the coolest car of all the Autobots. I made an impassioned plea to Santa such that only the coldest heart could deny. Thus it was that I became the proud owner of my very own WheelJack.


There were of course other items as well, various GI Joe figures, Ninja Turtles and the like, but it’s the items listed above that really stand out in my mind. It was definitely the greatest Christmas of my childhood with the most far reaching impact. Good times.

Merry Christmas Everyone  🙂

~ by Pagz on December 24, 2008.

8 Responses to “Christmas 1986, the best Christmas of my youth”

  1. Christmas ’92 was probably my favourite: a Sega Mega Drive 🙂

  2. That is a fine gift indeed. Here in the Americas we called it a Genesis.

    Other fun facts:

    Torch = Flash light
    Jumper/jersey = Sweater
    Chips = French Fries
    Crisps = Potato chips

    Hooray for diversity!

  3. European English is also prevalent here, where Japanese people use ‘bonnet’ (hood), ‘winker’ (turn signal), ‘mansion’ (apartment building), and say “whoah-tah” when they mean ‘water’. They always insist on American spellings, though. -_-

    Speaking of diversity, did Santa actually give you a Transformer in Italian packaging for Christmas?!?

  4. Alas no, it was just the only picture I could find online of a boxed Wheeljack that was decent.

  5. Actually:

    French Fries = thin crispy versions of chips (eg, McDonald’s in the UK doesn’t ever advertise them as “chips” and people always ask for “fries”, eg, “a large fries please” and never “a large fry”)
    Chips = the fat less crispy ones you get from the Fish ‘n’ Chip shop. More traditional, but both terms are used in everyday conversation.
    Sweater = a garment worn over your shirt
    Jumper = a warmer, more comfy version of a sweater. Perhaps with a pattern knitted on it and given to you by your grandma.

    However, to add to the confusion surrounding crisps, french fries and chips, there is a brand of potato chip (crisp) in the UK called, confusingly, “French Fries”. They’re long, thin and crispy and are a type of crisp, not chip. Weird. But you’d call them chips.

    And we always called turn signals “indicators”. Never heard the term winker, but some people say “blinkers”.

  6. Oh, and chips should never be crispy. That’s what fries are supposed to be. Chips from the Fish ‘n’ Chip shop should be drenched in vinegar and very thickly cut. Mmm 🙂

  7. Now I want Fish ‘n’ Chips

  8. Thanks, Robin. It turns out “winker” is only used in Japanese, so the etymology remains a mystery.

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