Totally Tubular '80s Toys is a book I have waited many years for. While it lives up to the majority of my expectations, it fails in a few departments.
Written by Mark Bellomo, the book showcases some of the most popular and obscure toys from the '80s. From He-Man and the Masters of the Universe to Supernaturals, this book has almost every '80s toy in it. In addition to action figures, it also includes write-ups about video game systems, stuffed animals and dolls. The book is divided into 10 chapters, one for each year in the 80s and begins each chapter with an overview of the toys that were released that year. The chapter then goes into more detail on each toy line, with some toys getting 2 to 8 pages worth of pictures and information on the history of each line.
The chapters end with a trivia spread about that year. Trivia includes: top 10 movies of that year; top 10 billboard singles; top 10 television programs; and other interesting facts. Although the trivia is fun to read, especially if you were a kid in the '80s, I found it to be a bit unnecessary and really just filler. I would have rather they left out the trivia spreads and included more pictures... which leads me to my next criticism...
The toy lines are given a fairly good history of the brand and how each were developed (some toy lines being more detailed than others). However, I really felt they were lacking in the pictures department. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe is given quite a few full-colour pages of the toys in and out of packages, but the book comes no where near to including even 25% of the toys made for the line. Some toy-lines (Visionaries for instance) only included a couple of the figures out of the package.
A lot of books about action figure toy lines (Tomarts Encyclopedia & Price Guide to Action Figure Collectibles, for instance) feature the toys in-package, so you never really get a sense of the toys out of package. That is the best part of this book. Bellomo has included a few full page spreads of the figures out of the package, however, I would have liked to have seen all of the toys, or at least most of them featured. Like I said before, it could have been impossible to feature ALL of them, but if he utilized the trivia pages for more pictures, I would have been a lot happier.
My only other complaint about the book is that they left out a few toy lines (albeit, they are a little more obscure). Starcom and Air Raiders were shockingly missing from the pages of the book. Air Raiders may not have been that big in the '80s, but I knew quite a few kids that collected Starcom back in the day.
Given the few forgivable criticisms I have about the book, I highly recommend fans of action figures, '80s toys and cartoons pick this book up if they have the chance. You definitely won't be able to find another book like it. It has some great historical tidbits about the toy lines and even includes some glossy out-of-package toy shots. Maybe some day we will get a master toy-line encyclopedia, with history about each line, pictures of ALL of the toys in package and pictures of ALL of the toys out of the package.