I saw Big in theaters back in ’88, and charming as it was, I think the fact that I was nine-years-old had everything to do with why I loved it. Sure, the film was as much “sad” as “happy,” but what kid wouldn’t have been jealous of Tom Hanks? (More specifically his character, Josh?)
Not only did twelve-year-old Josh get to live as an adult, but he also landed a job at what wasn’t Mattel but totally was Mattel, brainstorming toy concepts and getting all kinds of free samples! He made enough money to afford the kind of loft I can still only dream about, stuffing it with everything from a pinball machine to a giant trampoline!
For Josh, the whole experience was a wish gone awry, but I went home from that movie feeling impossibly envious of him. And also like I could get away with being thirty and still into toys. Which I guess came in handy in the end.
And oh, those toys! Big was FULL of them. And not just the normal gamut of “generic stuff” you normally find in movies. Josh spent Big fiddling with the same hunks of plastic that all of us did. Everything from He-Man to SilverHawks!
That’s the point of this article. Many of the playthings seen during Big are of the blink-and-you’ll-miss-them variety, so I poured over the film, frame-by-frame, desperate to catch as much as I could.
Let’s start with THE LOFT…
I *love* Josh’s loft. To this day, no “movie bedroom” thrills me more. Even empty lofts are ridiculously appealing, what with their art gallery flooring and exposed brick. This one, of course, was so much better than that. It was as if Josh won one of those old Toys “R” Us shopping sprees, and then stole a Pepsi machine on his way home.
I’d pass on the bunk beds for practicality reasons, but other than that, I’d absolutely still live here. Beyond luxury items like a pinball machine and that giant trampoline, Josh had plenty of “regular” toys that perfectly reflected what a boy his (true) age would’ve kept nearby back in 1988:
#1 – Inflatable Godzilla:
I love that it represents the original Godzilla, and not the Matthew Broderick version as seen in the 1998 Sears Wish Book. Six feet of mean, green, inflatable terror! I still have every confidence that I will someday own that blow-up Godzilla.
#2 – Tic Tac Toss:
This was sold under many titles over the years, but you should remember the basics. You’d throw little bean bags at it to turn the pieces, hoping to beat your opponent in a race to make a line of X’s or O’s. It’s barely visible on Josh’s floor, but since Tic Tac Toss shares a shape with nothing else on the planet, it was easy enough to identify.
#3 – Giant Gumby:
For a long time, I thought this was actually a Gumby-shaped chair. A closer inspection reveals that it’s actually just a giant Gumby doll sitting IN a chair. I’m not sure if this was ever commercially sold, as it looked way too extravagant for normal people to afford.
#4 & #5 – Inhumanoids Monsters:
BLESS YOU, JOSHUA “JOSH” BASKIN! You’ll need a real eagle eye to spot these guys, hiding out near one of the windows. From the incredibly awesome Inhumanoids collection, it’s Metlar and D’Compose! These were two of the three ENORMOUS monster figures that made Inhumanoids such a standout series. I know Josh had a giant trampoline, but, no joke, those two monsters were the best things in his apartment. Yes, I’m even including the Pepsi machine.
#6 – Fireball Island:
Briefly seen on a shelf, it’s none other than Milton Bradley’s Fireball Island! The most visually compelling board game of all time! If you want proof, go look up how much people are paying for it on eBay!
#7 – Thundercats Bedsheets:
As Elizabeth Perkins is left to wonder why she’s bunking instead of boinking, we get a nice clear shot of Josh’s Thundercats sheets. I’m going to wager that Snarf was a little off-scale, as he was roughly the size of Elizabeth’s head.
Even if the “best of Big” was in Josh’s loft, the party didn’t end there. Next, let’s check out THE OFFICE!
After wooing Robert Loggia and landing a bigger position at the MacMillian Toy Company, Josh trades his cubicle for an enviable corner office . Of course, what makes it enviable isn’t just that it’s a corner office with a killer view. Would you look at this place? It’s like a rich kid’s Christmas morning!
I’m not able to identify every toy in Josh’s office, even if some of “unknowns” do seem very familiar. Here are the treasures I’m certain of:
#1 – SilverHawks “Stronghold” Vehicle:
SilverHawks was one of the best toy lines of the ‘80s, and had a pretty great cartoon series to boot. If you didn’t keep up with it, you missed some terrific stuff. Stronghold was the “pet” of one of the heroes, who in this special instance was super-sized to work as one of the line’s few vehicles.
#2 – Masters of the Universe “Spydor” Vehicle:
One of several He-Man toys peppered around Josh’s office, I totally had Spydor as a kid. As the name suggests, it was a giant, robotic spider, used by Skeletor so he could at least put on a good show before He-Man beat the hell out of him. Batteries allowed the toy to walk on its own, but I seem to remember its movement being kind of cumbersome. I also remember losing most of Spydor’s legs, which were woefully of the snap-on variety.
#3 – Masters of the Universe “Night Stalker” Vehicle:
One of two similar MOTU “horse” vehicles, Night Stalker galloped for the powers of eeevil. It was one of the simplest vehicles in the entire line, but that was sort of the point. Even if you treated Night Stalker like garbage and lost everything that wasn’t glued in place, it still worked like a horse. So long as you kept away from Ram Man or Modulok, any He-Man figure could ride that pony with ease.
#4 – Masters of the Universe “Blaster Hawk” Vehicle:
The Blaster Hawk was actually more than a vehicle. It doubled as a kid-scale weapon, shooting eight discs at impressive speeds. I never owned this and never saw much reason to, as it felt a little too “outside the norm” to work with my other He-Man toys.
#5 – Masters o the Universe “Roton” Vehicle:
Loved this little thing! I’m not sure if it was modeled after a real animal, but I always thought of it as being somehow octopus-like. As you pushed Roton across the floor, its rim of terrible red blades would constantly spin, threatening any Eternian stupid enough to stand in its way. (As it moved, Roton also made hideous noises that the box identified as “fighting sounds.”)
Believe it or not, there’s STILL more. How about the scene where Josh explores FAO SCHWARZ?
I have no idea if the store still stands, but I’ve been to that exact FAO Schwarz many times. In the movie as in life, it was great in certain ways, and not so great in others. Even if it’s packed with the kind of crazily expensive doodads that seem miraculous in their mere existence, FAO Schwarz is not Toys “R” Us. It always seemed a little drier on “everyday stuff.” (Or maybe it was just a thing where you had to wade through too much hoity-toity shit to find the $6 action figures. Yeah, it was probably that.)
Moving past the giant floor piano (focal point of Big’s most memorable scene), I did locate a few more “attainable” treasures…
#1 – Dizzy Dizzy Dinosaur:
I remember the commercial more clearly than the game itself, but I think it involved some kind of wind-up tyrannosaur that wreaked havoc all over the board? Somebody else can fill in the blanks.
#2 – Photon Set:
Even if they were essentially the same, I’m more loyal to Photon than Lazer Tag. I never had the helmet, but I certainly had the guns. In fact, I still do. I realize that the old technology has been surpassed in every conceivable way, but I feel like I could put fresh batteries in them and have just as much fun now as I did back in ‘88.
#3 – Fireball Island, Again:
I already mentioned the one in Josh’s loft, but this was a pile of *BRAND NEW* Milton Bradley Fireball Island games! Do you have any idea how much that pile would be worth now? I’m being conservative, but let’s say that a MISB Fireball Island would cost 200 bucks today. To recreate that little bit of set dressing in 2013, you’d need at least 2000 dollars!
I’ve shown you plenty of Big’s toys, but there was still even more. I gotta stop somewhere. If you haven’t seen the film in a while, it might be time for another go. See what else you can find! If you need more motivation, I’ll mention that there’s even a shot of ancient Bubblicious hiding in there!
Course, there’s no way I can talk about “toys from Big” and not mention this one last thing…
Hey, Josh Baskin? SCREW YOU. I’ll never forgive Josh for speaking ill of that incredible ROBOT/BUILDING prototype. What the frick was he thinking? It was like the Super Shredder version of the Gobots Command Center!
Maybe he didn’t deserve that loft after all.