Day 29: Navarone Playset

Image Credit: Wishbook's "1976.xx.xx JCPenney Christmas Catalog P410"

Image Credit: Wishbook's "1976.xx.xx JCPenney Christmas Catalog P410"

I was never a big soldier figurine kid, I had my share of tanks and little green soldiers, but I was often far more impressed with the Fisher Price sets, which had all kinds of trippy nooks and crannies. That said, the Navarone playset is one of my earliest memories of a full-fledged toy that had hundreds of pieces, and I put the three-level mountain fort together all by myself. I remember the yellow howitzer and rope ladders, also the elevator was a bitch to figure out, and I had to pull in my older brother for that one. But in the end, it is one of the toys from the 70s that really captured my imagination given the pure scale of the whole operation. It was also one of those toys that was not based on a film, but pushed me to watch Force 10 from Navarone (1978) which came out a year or two after I got the toy.

Looking more closely at the Navarone playset in the Sears catalog it’s ironic for me to see it has the Americans pitted against the Italians, rather than the Germans, which, in retrospect. is an interesting harbinger of things to come 🙂

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12 Responses to Day 29: Navarone Playset

  1. Mike O. says:

    Sweet! A friend of mine had one of these–it was EPIC! Right up there with the Millennium Falcon and Castle Grayskull.

  2. Jim DOran says:

    I had this. It was AWESOME. In my basement, the Micronauts repeatedly invaded and took the mountain for their own base, which they then defended against the Star Wars figures.

    Happy memories.

  3. Chad Black says:

    I had this– one of my favorite toys of all time. And in fact, we came to my parents this week for Thanksgiving, and my 4 y.o. has been discovering the joys of pitted combat in the Guns of Navarone. The ladders are gone, but the howitzers and a few of the pieces inside are still there, together with a massive army of green and blue soldiers.

  4. scott may says:

    had this as a child and it was the maine story point of all the battles that took place in the living room and bed room still had it till I was 25 years old and gave it to my step son should have kept it to my self he destroyed it in less than a year and chucked it in the trash. great memory.

  5. MMIKEY says:

    Actually it doesnt pit Americans against Italians. It pits Americans vs. Nazi.. However it is a battle fought on Nazi Occupied French Territory – therefore the French flag.

    That used to confuse me all the time as a kid as well.. Took me some years to figure it out.

  6. david frederick says:

    I had this playset actually twice once the cannons were gray and then the 2nd time they were yellow.Also had several of the battleground playsets aswell ….had hours and hours of fun.

  7. Daniel Latinus says:

    Look carefully at the Navarone set’s tri-color flag – it is red, white, and black. IIRC, the Germans did use a red, white, and black flag with horizontal bars at some point. But not a tri-color similar to those of France or Italy.

    My guess is that the Nazi flag with the swastika was simply too offensive to use as a child’s toy – even to represent the bad guys – and the red, white, and black tri-color provided a suitable flag without giving offense.

    This same flag was used with other World War II era playsets.

  8. I have a Force Ten from Navarone that I’m giving away with the sale of my G.I. Joes that I’m clearing out of Mom’s attick.

  9. Umbriel says:

    Daniel Latinus is 95% on-the-money. A swastika flag would not only have been potentially offensive, but actually illegal in Germany and some other countries. Red, white and black were the German national colors from the Prussian era through the end of WWII. A tricolor flag of the sort found in many Marx soldier sets was actually used as a German national flag and merchant marine ensign until a few years into the prewar Nazi era, and a decal bearing the colors was used on German army helmets during the war.

    But I was puzzled by it too, as a kid. Even more so when I determined that it was also the flag of the African republic of Upper Volta.

  10. David Schlaefer says:

    I got a set for Christmas around ’79 or ’80 that had decals for both the German tricolor national flag AND a swastika flag. The swastika flag was slightly smaller than the tricolor and American flags and the adhesive was not as sticky, I recall that quite well. When I got tired of US attacking a German-held fort in France, I would sometimes switch things around to the Eastern front and pretend the Germans were attacking a Soviet-held position at Sevastapol, using the America GIs as Red Army soldiers instead. :)))

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