The Glorious, Colorful World of Radio Shack Toy and Game Box Art

February 6th, 2015 by Benj Edwards

Old Radio Shack LogoAfter 94 years in business, it is likely that Radio Shack will soon be no more. And sadly, it has taken the impending death of Radio Shack for me to realize how absolutely ingrained its products have been in my life.

As the son of an electronics engineer living in the US, our home growing up held at least five Radio Shack products per room (or those of its related brands: Tandy, Realistic, Optimus, Archer, or Micronta).

I am not joking or exaggerating. I could go through my parents’ house today and fill a moving van with that stuff: speakers, tapes, radios, hi-fi receivers, turntables, headphones, microphones, clocks, intercoms, outlet timers, telephones, cables, wires, adapters and more.

It’s almost absurd. My first IBM compatible PC was a Tandy 1800HD laptop. My first cassette recorder, microphone, telephone, cordless telephone all came from Radio Shack. My first kiss…well, a Radio Shack robot, of course.

And who can forget the batteries. The batteries!

Radio Shack LCD Football GameAbove and beyond all that were the games, the toys, the amusements. The Armatrons and Cosmic Fire Away 1000s. Pocket Blackjack, electronic chess, Pocket Repeat, RC cars, tiny kid DJ stations, microphone FM transmitters, electronic coin banks, joysticks, talking alarm clocks (Dare I add the Tandy 1000 series and the TRS-80 Color Computer). The list is endless, I tell you.

In honor of the foundering electronics retailer, I pulled together a slightly massive collection of Radio Shack toy and game box art from the late 1960s up to the early 2000s. For good measure, I threw in a handful of non-toy product boxes as well (such as one for a Zack Morris-sized cell phone and a pocket TV set).

As you look through them below, I have but one question to ask:

How many of these have you owned or played?

Let the Parade of Memories Begin

Radio Shack Talking Robie Robot

Radio Shack 21 Blackjack Cordless Fully Automatic

Tandy Cosmic 1000 Fire Away handheld electronic game box art

Radio Shack Electronic Casino Draw Poker

Radio Shack 2-Player Professional League Baseball

Tandy Electronic 2-Player Baseball

Radio Shack Deluxe 2-Player BlackJack

Tandy 4-N-1 Electronic Computer Games

Radio Shack Voice-Operated Hands-Free 5-Channel Walkie-Talkie with Headset Mike

Radio Shack Aim and Shoot Game Kit

Radio Shack Ambulance LCD Game

Radio Shack Armatron

Tandy Computerized 8-Level Beginner's Sensory Chess

Radio Shack Black Jack 21

Radio Shack Blackjack Fully Automatic with Pushbutton Operation

Radio Shack Blast-Off Pinball

Radio Shack Bridge Companion

Cellular Portable Telephone CT-301

Radio Shack Challenge Master electronic Mastermind game

Optimus Color Pocket LCD TV

Computerized Arcade 12 Games in One

Tandy Computerized Chess Game

Radio Shack Seventeen Level Computerized Chess

LCD Computerized 1 or 2 Player Championship Golf

Radio Shack Electronic Crossword Puzzles

Radio Shack Dino 2 in 1 Electronic LCD Game

Radio Shack Draw Poker Cordless Electric Full Automatic




16 Responses to “The Glorious, Colorful World of Radio Shack Toy and Game Box Art”

  1. Intergalactic Says:

    The last thing I bought at RS were some PC external speakers back in 2009, unfortunately the RS store near my house went belly up around 2010, their prices were a little higher than the rest of the local competitors and their inventory available at the store looked like it had been sitting there undisturbed for a couple of years maybe.

    Well, what can I say. Another one bites the dust, it’s evolution. Sadly.

  2. Jay Says:

    Oh, that Blackjack game with the arm and the motorized wheels! I played with that all the time when I was a kid (the slot machine one too, and I think there was a poker one like it as well or something like that). I played with it until I broke the arm, and then I kept using it by just pulling the buttons out to spin the reels. I think it’s still in my parents’ basement somewhere.

    Oh, the wonderful memories this post is bringing back.

  3. technotreegrass Says:

    Radio Shack used to be my family’s first and only stop for anything audio-visual: video cables, audio wires, telephone cords, etc. This ended about 10 years ago when our local store went under. Other Radio Shacks in the area primarily focus on cell phones and everything that can possibly be connected to cell phones at high prices.

    I played with the cash register as a kid and the Draw Poker handheld. I would LOVE to try out the first Blackjack game listed. That’s got to be trippy.

    My older cousin had this Radio Shack robot bring him his TV remote whenever he wanted it. http://www.jeffbots.com/robiejr.html

  4. Benj Edwards Says:

    I had the white electromechanical Blackjack game, and I played it endlessly on car trips.

    There are a bunch of Radio Shack toys I had that aren’t even up here (yet). I mentioned Cosmic Fire Away 1000, then there was Talking Robie, Z-707 Robot Tank…I am going to have to add some more.

  5. DNA Says:

    The two I’d most like to play with as a kid: Armatron for sure and the radio controlled Lamborghini… or maybe the tank.

    What I’d most like to have now: probably one of the public address horns so that I could tell the drivers in front of me to kindly put down their phone and keep their eyes on the road.

  6. Nicholas Says:

    I had the Robie Junior as a kid! I used to tease my cat with him.

  7. Stan Says:

    Oh wow, the Archer Space Patrol walkie talkie with morse code. I haven’t seen one of those in 30 years. I also have fond memories of my 150-in-1 electronics lab.

  8. Mattel Aquarius Says:

    I will miss you Radio Shack, my old friend. Though we drifted apart over the years, I shall always relish the good times we shared. Yes, I started out with Robie and an R/C car bought with money from my paper route. Then, I graduated up to the COCO III, which commanded all my spare money throughout my high school years. I plundered the COCO closeout bins in a blissful frenzy.

    My brother bought the first CD player in our house; it was a large and beautiful Optimus. Wow, that digital sound, and we didn’t have to ff/rw to find our favorite songs!

    Later, I still stopped by for some special electronics components, television antenna parts and some tiny R/C cars for my kids. Those cars were a fad one Christmas, but I can’t remember what they were called. My kids loved them, but were too young to know that Radio Shack was the true Santa. Perhaps I failed as a father, to introduce them to the unique tech goodies that were sometimes haphazardly found in different drawers and shelves.

    Radio Shack, I will not forget you.

  9. Moondog Says:

    I also had a pair of Archer Space Patrol walkie talkies w/ morse code. I also got a Radio Shack metal detector from my uncle. I used to buy electrical components, TV antennas, and some stereo equipment from them. I stopped shopping there on a regular basis when the electrical projects area started to shrink. Other than the occasional capacitors, I’d wait for a sale on batteries and stock up.

  10. Alexander Says:

    Armatron! I loved that thing as a kid. And to think that the whole thing was basically an odd transmission system of gears and whatnot. Only one motor powered the whole thing. I didn’t know there was a mobile version though…

    And I ended up with like 5 different X-in-One style kits: 60, 200, 300, plus the AM/Shortwave radio kit, and lastly the rare Microcomputer Trainer (with the TMS-1100 processor). All built with the spring-terminal connectors, and a handful of wires.

    Good times, RS, good times…

  11. Erik Mortensen Says:

    Radio Shack was my go to place from the mid 80’s till the early 2000’s. I still stopped by every time I went to the mall. My wife always ribbing me that they “didn’t have anything I want” It didn’t matter, I still wandered around, And you know, sometimes they did have something I wanted.
    Not more then three months ago, I got a great deal on a set of cordless phone batteries I needed for my aging phone system.

    A month or two before that, I got a pre-amp for my roof mounted antenna, and some wire for the rotor. I guess now, I’ll have to Amazon all that stuff, but, If you needed it now, they usually had it.

    I loved looking around at all the cool computer stuff they had in the 80’s, and I was into CB radio back then two, and bought at least 3 CB’s from them. I still have my old 40 channel handheld.

    People rightly liked to kick Radio Shack around, but they were there. They were almost everywhere, and for a long time had almost everything. they were not the cheapest, but if you needed an antenna pre-amp to replace a dead one before the weekend was over, they had it.

    I had lots of the toys, had the 150 in one kit that I used endlessly from 85-86 learning all about electronics from my bedroom. I still have a remote control car from them that I take out to scare the heck out of the cats from time to time, still have a floppy disk cleaning kit that I got from them in 1990 to clean my vintage computers up,

    I have read the store near me is not on the initial list of store closures, maybe it will hang in there as a “store in a store” what ever the heck that is.

    Funny thing is, Radio Shack kinda became cell phone shack, and now its being bought by one.

  12. Jistuce Says:

    Man, I’mm a miss Radio Shack. Been years and years since I’ve had a reason to go into one, what with their long descent into irrelevance, but I have a lot of memories from when they WERE relevant.

    I used to own that white Lamborghini… wait, no I didn’t. The one in the picture has a two-axis controller, and mine was the single-button remote. There remains something both charmingly quaint and inherently RIGHT about a Lamborghini that can never slow down.
    Was a christmas gift when I was… young. I’ll say six, but don’t quote me on it. Drove it all over the house until the rear wheel shattered.
    Had a Robie, but not one of the pictured ones. Silver plastic body, all sharp angles except for the dome head. Had a one-way walkie-talkie built in so you could make him speak by talking into the remote control.

    Lusted after that dang Armatron ALL THE TIME. Every time we went by Radio Shack, I had to play with it, and beg dad to get one. I believe it is fair to say that robot arm was my first love.
    They also had a yellow robot piggy bank I adored but never owned. You put a coin in it’s hand and it flipped the coin into it’s mouth and “ate” it. It was SO COOL when I was of an age to want a piggy bank.

  13. Benj Edwards Says:

    Great stories, everyone. It’s amazing to see what an impact Radio Shack has had on our lives.

    I just added five new box art images, including Talking Robie and Z-707 Battle Iron Claw.

  14. Jistuce Says:

    Aww, yeah. That’s my Robie!

    I don’t recall ever seeing the Battle Iron Claw. Which is odd, as it would’ve been right up the younger me’s alley. I mean, they took that robot arm I loved so much and mounted it on a tank! what’s not to love there?

    I had no idea there were TWO Radio Shack robot banks.
    The one I remember was apparently a Tomy product, rebranded to bring it into the Robie line. Adorable little yellow thing.
    And apparently he had an entire family in Japan. 🙂
    http://www.theoldrobots.com/mrmoney.html

    Not the only japanese toy rebadged by Radio Shack, the best-known probably being the light&sound ray gun that turned into a plastic robot the internet assures me was named Galactic Man. Through “some coincidence” Hasbro had previously released the same toy under their moderately well-known Transformers line as Shockwave. Always been curious about that one, in part because Shockwave was one of my favorite Transformers.

  15. Geoff V. Says:

    My last visit to RS was just last month. Went in looking for heat shrink and an in-line 12V power switch. Unfortunately, they didn’t carry either product.

    They did have a battery I wanted, but it was literally 10 times Amazon’s price with Prime. I think there couldn’t be a example of why I stopped going into RS.

    I remember going in with my dad in the 80’s, and finding resistors and capacitors to fix an old B&W TV. We always left with more than we planned

    It was a magical place until the late 90’s.

  16. Charles Says:

    I still have my Super Armatron with all the pieces, but I don’t have the box anymore. Man I played with that thing.

    I’ll be on the lookout for Radio Shack toys when the flea market opens this spring. I want to get some more portable games and a TV Scoreboard.

Leave a Reply