Saturday, November 19, 2011



Stories of Childhood Toy Triumph and Tragedy



Age:  4 Years
Date: 1977
Place: Osco Drugs
Location: Waltham, Massachusetts

I have always been an individualist and an anomaly as a little kid (hell, I still am today). I had some friends, but I usually did things alone and created my own worlds to play in. I liked being in my head rather than in the real world around me because to be honest, I had a BIG imagination. To me, it was much more fun this way. Kids in school always wanted to be doing things the older kids did just to fit in or to be accepted. I never succumbed to peer pressure and no matter how weird or otherworldly I got, I was always pretty popular with everyone. But for the life of me I never had a clue why? Looking back on my childhood today, I get a kick out of the stuff I did and got away with. Was it all the cartoons I watched? Was it all the comics I had? Was it all the toys I played with?

Nope. It was because of my dad.

My dad came to America from Sicily back in the early 1960s with his parents and 6 brothers and sisters. His father was very sick (he died just a year later) and since he was the oldest son (20 years at this time) he had to provide for them. Life was always very tough for my dad because even as a young child in Sicily he had to work long back-breaking hours for little to no money and his family was so poor that they sometimes ate just one meal a day. Now working three jobs in America to provide for his fatherless family must have been excruciating. He even tried to take off from his responsibilities and enlist into the Army to go fight in Vietnam, but he got rejected because his mother pleaded to the draft about his financial dependency needed for the well being of his brothers and sisters (that must of sucked). He barely had any schooling but he was a real hard/honest worker who had a gift for using his hands. He eventually built a plumbing company from nothing that is highly respected today and has been in business for over 40 years. It's a tale truly worthy of the American dream.

But as great as that was for my dad, it wasn't so great  for me and my older brother. Living such a tough life made my father a hard man with very little emotional understanding. For him it was work, work, work and nothing more. He was the type of guy who had very little patience (especially for us) and could lash out on the drop of a dime (I could go on to tell some horror stories of some of the beatings I took and how hard I worked as a youth but I don't need to). He provided for us and put food on the table and for that I will forever be grateful. But I just wish I could have played with him, got a hug from him or even heard him say he loved me (he never has even to this day). Instead, I was scared to death of him and I usually stayed in my room when he was home. My mom was the one who gave me and my brother the love and nurturing we craved - but to be honest, I wanted it from him. He barely ever talked to me and when he did it was usually to make me do something.

So staying in my room was the norm for me and to escape I lived in my worlds of wonder. To most people this would seem kind of sad for a kid to do this but I actually had a lot of fun. I had my comics, toys and superheroes that were my real friends and I loved them.

One day, my father came home from work early as my mother and brother went to the dentist (I think). He made me some food and as usual we both sat there eating without speaking a word to each other. He then told me we had to go to the Osco Drugs up the street so he could pick something up. I can't remember what he wanted, but this was the first time I was ever with my father at a store alone. I was always with my mother so it was almost surreal to me. Usually, I would just run to the toy aisle and my mother would catch up later, but this time it was different. I dare not do that with my father as I just followed behind him as fast as my little legs could carry me.

I managed to come to the toy aisle end-cap as my father was looking at something nearby. When I looked up, I saw some awesome Batman Colorforms. The box looked fantastic and the way the end-cap displayed it captured my imagination (I'm such an easy sell). I took it off the shelf to take a closer look. Here was the mighty Batman looking so proud, I could only imagine what fun lurked within this box. I wanted it of course, but I wasn't going to ask my father for it. I was too scared and I don't think he even knew who Batman or a toy was for that matter. But amazingly when he finished what he was doing he asked me if I wanted the Colorforms and I shockingly said "yes." Soon enough, I followed my father to the cashier line and he bought me my first toy ever!! I was in utter-shock because of this. Sure, it was my father's money that was providing all the other toys and such that I got with my mother, but never had I gotten something personally with him. And the funny thing is that I don't even remember playing with the Batman Colorforms today because the events that lead to me getting them is what left a forever impression. This was so HUGE in my young mind that I've never forgotten it.

Now this little story is by no means intended on putting my father down, this is actually my way of honoring him. He was a man who has to be respected on so many levels because as time went on I realized that my father was doing the best that he could with what he knew. He wasn't a bad guy, he was just a hard guy because he had such a tough life. He never had the chance to be a kid and understand the magic of youth so I can forgive him for our relationship. I'm thankful for all that he has given me and I will always honor that. Today, age and my daughter has made him a lot more calmer, nicer and less serious because he does things with her I would never have imagined (sometimes it brings tears to my eyes) and I'm happy that he's trying in his own way. We talk more and I've grown to understand him more. But to tell you the truth, I still don't think he has any clue who Batman is...


As for the Batman Colorforms, I was later shocked to find out that it first came out in 1966 and was later reissued and released in 1976. So despite the greater value of the 1966 set, I'll always think the 1976 set will be the more valuable (at least to me). And just to let you know, my father came home from hunting one time a few years later after this story took place and brought home two boxed Mego Spider-man's for me and my brother. That was a great surprise and a fun gift!

Thanks dad.

To be continued...

Other Tales From the Toy Chest:









John Cimino
John Cimino is a Silver and Bronze Age comic, cartoon and memorabilia expert that runs a business called "Saturday Morning Collectibles." He buys, sells, appraises and gives seminars on everything pop culture, so if you got something special, let him know about it. He contributes articles to ALTER EGO, RETRO FAN, BACK ISSUE and THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR from TwoMorrows Publishing, runs the Roy Thomas Appreciation Board on Facebook and has appeared on the AMC reality show Comic Book Men. He also represents some of comicdoms biggest stars and brings them to a Comic Con near you. John likes to think he's the real Captain Marvel, people just don't have the heart to tell him he's just an obsessed fanboy that loves to play superheroes with his daughter Bryn. Contact him at or follow him on Instagram at megostretchhulk.


  1. That was a great story.

  2. Nice story! :)

    I, too, had the Batman Colorforms set (at least my brother and I shared it!). :) I also had the Spider-Man set, and my favorite: The SuperFriends set! THAT was a great set. :)

  3. nice story, but find it strange that you must have had some imagination, because those toys look like they've never even been played with.

    1. Thanks.
      And FYI, the picture of the Batman Colorforms in this article is not the one I had when I was a kid. Unfortunately, I lost those many years ago...not really sure how though.

  4. Remarkable story. Actually brought a tear to my. Your love for toys is epic.

  5. That was a nice story, glad everything is okay with your father. I can relate to this because I didn't have the best relationship with dad either.

  6. I like these stories because they remind me of a more innocent time in my life. When I grew up and the real world set in I forgot about some of those special times as a kid I had. The toys and the world were so much simpler then. Thanks for taking me down memory lane.

  7. I got this same Batman set in first grade when I had to stay overnight in the hospital for minor surgery. Any glimpse of it immediately makes me nostalgic for those times. I also got Suckerman that night as well,a toy i still have in my collection to this day.

    1. Nice! I loved Suckerman and had him as well.

  8. It's good to know that your relationship with your father got better.