Friday, June 8, 2012

1982 Rough Riders A-Team Van!

First off, extra-special thanks to Brain from Cool & Collected for sending this sweet piece of pop-culture machinery my way!

Now, you'd think after all of the nostalgic blogging I've done over the years that I would have covered just about every toy I ever had and loved as a kid. Well, you'd be wrong, because despite my penchant for waxing poetic about the playthings of my youth, there are a few truly beloved toys that I haven't even touched on for one simple reason; I can't friggin' get my hands on them today.

There is a small list of toys in my head that I keep hoping to score once again and then I can open up a veritable floodgate of blog posts about them, but until I actually get one in my hands, I'm trying to keep tight lipped.

Today's little gem is a cousin of one of those toys. Ladies and germs, I present to you, the 1982 LJN Rough Rider A-Team Assault Vehicle...

When I was in 3rd grade, the entire 6 to 11-year-old male population of my school became obsessed with these little motorized 4X4 toy trucks called Stompers. Every single kid I knew had at least three of them. They were such a simple toy. Basically a toy truck that rolled forward, had headlights that lit up, and could climb up a small dirt hill or over a pile of pencils (logs). The beauty of the Stompers was in the removable chassis, which was brilliant because once your Stomper's mechanical components broke (and they would eventually), you just bought a new one and now had two interchangeable chassis for your rig.

I fondly remember having massive trading sessions with kids over chassis. I probably only ever had two working vehicles at a time, but up to 7 or 8 chassis to swap out. It also got to the point that if the motorized part got too busted, kids would just gut the whole things and roll their Stompers around the old fashioned way, which by all accounts should have made us think, Aw, crap. It's broken. But for some reason we just thought that was yet another cool aspect to Stompers.

Soon, LJN (makers of the classic Dungeons & Dragons action figures) would get in on the action and release their version of Stompers (which were released by Schaper) called Rough Riders. Now, usually kids can smell a knock off a mile away and usually avoid them, but we didn't skip a beat. We just bought them up with or allowances (or begged for them from our parents) right alongside the regular Stompers. In fact, so welcome were the new vehicles, that we just called them Stompers, too.

This particular vehicle, The A-Team Assault Vehicle, was one that I have seen only once in person and that was 30 years ago. A kid in my 4th grade class had one and we all thought it was the most beautiful thing we had ever seen.

The only Rough Riders I ever remember owning personally were two Army-looking vehicles, one was like a Jeep and the other was this sort of fantasy tank thing.

Rough Riders made several improvements on the Stomper idea. The first was the "gear shift" at the top. Where Stompers had an on/off switch on the bottom, Rough Riders made access to the switch much easier by putting it on top. Then they took it a step further added three settings to the switch; off, climbing mode (slow, steady crawl) and turbo (high speed).

Another added feature came in the form of the Rough Rider's protruding cone shaped hubcaps...

These gave the vehicle the ability to do that killer movie stunt where the vehicle rolls along on two wheels. I know this sounds silly by today's toy standards, but in 1982, that blew our minds.

So, here's the thing; I've been eyeballing Stompers and Rough Riders on eBay for a few years now, and due to their high secondary market prices (around $40 each if they're running), I've managed to avoid getting sucked into officially collecting them. But now that I've got one of these babies in my hands again after all this time, I feel the bug biting.

This just may be the start of a beautiful collection.

By the way, if anyone out there can find me one of these (in any condition), let a brother know.