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Wind-Up Pac-Man

by Poe Ghostal

February is Old Toys Month at OAFEnet, where we OAFEs will rummage through our toy-collecting past to review items from throughout our childhood. As such, I thought it fitting that my very first retro-review be of the oldest toy in my collection.

Wind him up and he gulps, gobbles and waddles on the ground. He's got the biggest mouth around!

At home I have what I call "The Shrine": two wooden cabinets with glass doors that hold the entire history of my collecting, from He-Man and Transformers up to the present day. Over the years I lost most of the toys of my youth, but with the help of eBay and my mother, I have managed to buy back many of those nostalgic memories (sometimes, I'll admit, at rather unbargainlike prices). It is these toys that I will be reviewing over the next few weeks.

Wind-Up Pac-Man holds a special distinction from most of those other toys: the Pac-Man in the Shrine is the exact same Pac-Man I've always had, since I got him in what I'm guessing was 1983. That means he's survived 20 years, three houses and two toyboxes to earn his distinctive place in Poe's Toy History. Sure, his "ghost's" sticker eyes have worn off (I swiped the picture above off the aforementioned eBay), but once wound up he will still run around with abandon, menacing all ghosts who come near.

I was able to find a suprising amount of information about PM here - the wonders of the 'net, where there is no piece of information too obscure (I figure everything in recorded history will be available for download by mid-2014). He was apparently made by Tomy in 1983, presumably marketed to fans of both the game and the surprisingly long-lived cartoon. My mother informs me that the show debuted on ABC on a Friday in one of those special deals where the networks previewed their Saturday morning fare on a Friday night, and that she remembers my watching that debut. I have only misty recollections of the event - which presumably occurred on September 24, 1982 (thanks again, internet), but I have no trouble believing it. My life was basically a parallel of that of Matt on X-Entertainment.com, so it makes sense.

But what of the toy itself? Well, it's a little unorthodox for OAFEnet, I'll admit, since it is arguably a stretching of the definition of an "action figure" [no more than most McToys --ed.], but it's a solid little toy, and I'm quite fond of it. Looking at it, it occurs to me that this must be based on the videogame Pac-Man and not the cartoon one, since it has those distinctive black eyes with the pizza slice taken out. What else can one say? It looks like Pac-Man.

Wind him up and he rolls along the floor, opening and closing his mouth. Simple, yet effective; but the real selling point here is the character, not the ability.

Okay, so there's really not much else to say about this toy. But by reviewing him I invoke the spirit of my nostalgia, and can now move on to bigger fish.

-- 02/03/03

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