In the early 1980s it seemed as if G.I. Joe could not get any larger. They had Tanks, Space Shuttles, even William “The Refrigerator” Perry (yes, dancing in the “Super Bowl Shuffle” was considered enough of a credential to join the world’s most elite peace keeping task force). Then, in 1985, to the delight of children everywhere and the dismay of Toys R Us employees’ herniated discs, the U.S.S. Flagg was unleashed upon the world. Coming in at 7′6″ and costing over a hundred dollars the play set included a control tower, launch deck, vehicles, a sound system, and even the exclusive Admiral Keel-Haul, who resembled Shipwreck’s long lost mustachioed lover from his previous naval academy days. It was the end-all, be-all holiday gift of that year, and I had to have one no matter what the cost.
I recall several long, heated negotiations with my mother. Like a confident rabbinical scholar I claimed that Jewish law clearly stated one could combine all of his Hanukkah gifts into one unified mega present; in my case, one to land fighter jets on. Needless to say I didn’t get far and began to worry if I’d ever get the chance to launch a naval siege against the forces of Cobra. Hope came in the form of Brandon, the rich kid that everyone hated. Brandon was a douche. Brandon also had an entire room just to house his U.S.S. Flagg. This, of course, was needed for the mammoth toy – which made it difficult to own for anyone living in a low to middle class income home.
I swallowed my pride and had my mother make a play date. That’s right, I wasn’t above using the most despised kid in school to indulge in my militaristic fantasies of commanding the pride of the G.I. Joe fleet. Was it worth it? Yes! The U.S.S. Flagg was the most impressive toy ever made for a seven-year-old boy. It was the ultimate in elementary school war simulation and it demanded respect. There had never been a play set to ever come near its size and complexity. It was even worth tolerating Brandon continually farting in his hand and “throwing” them into my face.
A year later guilt had burdened my mother, and she promised to make it up to me. She claimed to have found a play set of equal magnitude and scope. You can imagine my disappointment that December evening when I ripped off the wrapping paper to find a Pee-Wee’s Playhouse play set. It was nothing more than a laminated cardboard case used to contain the dolls of the future sex-offender and his talking furniture. A combat ready aircraft carrier it was not.
So to the U.S.S. Flagg, the most coveted toy of our generation (that I never owned), I salute you. “Yo Joe!”
Remember U.S.S. Flagg ?
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