Heh. The Big Trak was an awesome '80s toy. It was a grey-and-blue plastic vehicle, with six wheels (three per side) and a keypad on the back (or top, really). The basic idea was that you could program a route into the keypad, along the lines of:

  • 5 forward
  • 45 right
  • 25 forward
  • 10 left
  • fire phazer
  • 25 back
  • dump

...etc. etc. the 'phazer' was a blue plastic light-up gun under the nose, with a loud Galactic-esque sound effect. The movements were expressed in multiples of six degrees for turns (60 turn units = full circle), TenMinJoe reminds me, and also notes from personal experimentation that the units were 'Big-Trak lengths' for distance. 'Dump' was used to open the back of the optional trailer attachment and thus drop the cargo. TMJ also would like me to tell y'all that when you leave your Big Trak on, it occasionally beeps. Periodically. Loudly. Unnervingly. Presumably, this reminds you to use it or turn it off to save batteries.

I recall an ad for this thing on TV where it drives down a hall, around the family Jack Russell terrier (who looks confoozled), fires phazers at the sister (who sticks out her tongue) and then trundles over to the Dad in the living room and dumps an apple out for him. Considering the infancy of robotics and automata that the 1980s was experiencing, this was a pretty cool toy. It was really useful for sending rolling through the front of elaborate Lego forts and structures, as if the Brobdingnagian Amphicars had come to play.

Actually, now that I think about it, it looked quite a bit like the Landmasters from the hideous film adaptation of Damnation Alley.

Man, all those toys I never got in the 1980s because my parents were intellectuals...I'm quite pleased with their choices ("Here's a nice Roald Dahl book, kid, knock yourself out") but I still get pangs over toys like Big Trak, Green Machine, 2XL, Atari 2600s and their ilk.

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