Monday, June 27, 2016

The Simpsons (Mattel)



The Simpsons
Mattel
1990

We have wanted to do a post on Mattel's 1990 The Simpsons line for the longest time, but the opportunity never presented itself until now.

The Simpsons began its iconic climb to fame in 1987 when it was produced by Matt Groening as short sketches for the Tracey Ullman Show. After airing for three seasons, the show was developed for a half hour series, and helped to launch the relatively new Fox network. Since its debut in December of 1989, the series as aired over five hundred episodes, and though new episodes of the show continue to air as of this writing, it is rumored that season 30 will be its last - Something many claim to be too long, and others as not long enough.

Now rewind if you will all the way back to 1990 during the show's first season run. Simpsonmania was rising at a rapid pace. Many viewers tuned in to laugh at the absurd nature that Homer, Bart, Maggie, Lisa and Marge (as well as the several other soon to be hundreds of Springfield characters) acted out in outlandish ways that left some saying, "That sounds like my kids," and other protesting in appalled tones that a family could act in such a way.

Keep in mind that during this time of world history that television was still considered wholesome (for the most part) with shows such as The Cosby Show, Family Ties, Growing Pains and Married...With Children providing good old fashioned morals and family values in half hour blocks. Those days were quickly coming to an end, and despite the hilarity of shows like The Simpsons, we can honestly say we miss those days.

Rights, so where were we? Oh, right - Rewind if you will all the way back to 1990. Mattel got the distinct honor of being the first company to produce toy related merchandise for The Simpsons. Today we're going to take a look at the highly coveted "action figures" of that era. Now we know that many Simpsons fans will profess that this is far from all the toys that Mattel produced, and they would be 100% correct. Not only did Mattel produce the majority of the figures encompassed in this post, but also several other items such as wind ups, 11 inch dolls and water squirters (to name a few). All of these items technically fall into this line of The Simpsons merchandise, but sorry, we're not looking at those today.

Mattel produced all five of the Simpsons family members which included Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie. In addition they produced Nelson, and Bartman. Each figure came packed on its own individual blister card showcasing character specific art, and featured character unique accessories. Each figure also came packed with five mini word bubbles with pre-printed phrases from the show. These word bubbles could be placed over the heads of each character in a cheap way to mimic that it was talking.

The oddly shaped cardbacks contribute greatly to the difficulty of finding the figures mint on the cards. Each card is cut along the right edge to frame the character artwork. It is because of these intricate cuts that many cards received various dings and bends. Sadly a lot of these imperfections weren't received while in the hands of collectors, but in the cases from the factories to the warehouses of the various retail chains. In short - The cardbacks are incredibly fragile.

Mattel rounded out the series of figures with The Simpsons Sofa & Boob Tube - The one and only accessory produced to coincide with the series. The piece was fairly basic in production, but worked well with the limited articulation of the figures.

A button on the back of the couch operated an ejection feature, and the TV featured slide in cardboard cards depicting characters such as Krusty the Clown, Sideshow Bob, Itchy and Scratch, The Happy Little Elves. and a scene from the infamous Fight To Knock The Other Guy Out. When no card was in place, the television showcased a colorful background with static lines. The TV also feature wheels on the bottom for rolling it around, as well as antenna on the top that could be rotated around. Much like the figures, the set also came with pre-printed bubble cards that could be placed over the television to mimic sound coming from it. Overall it's not a bad accessory, in fact it's fairly iconic in and of itself to The Simpsons family.

The last item made available in the US is the incredibly rare mail away Bart Simpson with white "Save Blinky" shirt. This figure was produced in 1991, but due to rapidly dwindling sales was not very popular among fans. Though we aren't sure just how many of these figures were redeemed from Mattel, these days they're not easy to come by.

For those of you that are a 100% completest when it comes to your action figure collections, then you definitely want to consider this one prior to diving in. If (and that's a very large IF) you can find one, be ready to drop upwards of a grand on this figure alone. This is absolutely one of the most rarest action figures in existence.

Also along the lines of scarce and rare, there were three additional figures produced and sold strictly in South Africa. All three were renditions of Bart, and feature him in a white ninja outfit, a Superman-type outfit and a black ninja outfit. Though still difficult to find, they are far from as scarce as Blinky Shirt Bart.

Its important to note that while the packages share the similar style to that of the Mattel series, and the mold is definitely that of the Bart Simpson figure above, the packages themselves make no reference to Mattel - Or any toy company for that matter. Couple that with a 1992 release date (well after the Mattel line was distributed in the US), and the question could be argued that these are actually bootlegs. Unfortunately it's never really been confirmed. However, it's also key to note that toy manufacturers were notorious for selling their molds to foreign toy manufacturers in the 80's and 90's once popularity dwindled in the US. With that in mind, it wouldn't be unreasonable to think that this is what happened in this particular case.

For the most part, the basic figures that encompass series one (or rather, the entire series) aren't difficult to come buy. However, finding a seller that is a little more knowledgeable about what the going rate should be is. A lot of sellers price these figures from $35.00 to $60.00 each when in reality most Simpsons fans are more so willing to pay between $5.00 and $15.00 - Depending on the characters. Marge, Lisa and Maggie seem to be the most desired figures, and as such are the high(er) dollar ones to obtain. Still, if you're patient, you can nab them all for a fairly reasonable price.

Then of course there are the mail away and South Africa ones. Those are a whole different story. Like we said above, if you're a completest, then you may want to steer far clear of this series. However, if you're up for the challenge, the thrill of the hunt, and have an exorbitant amount of expendable cash, then this could be the line for you. Just keep in mind that it's going to take more than cash to obtain this entire series. It's going to take patience, persistence, and possibly a collector abroad to help out.

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Monday, June 20, 2016

Pulsar - The Ultimate Man Of Adventure And Hypnos - The Ultimate Enemy (Mattel)



Pulsar - The Ultimate Man Of Adventure and Hypnos - The Ultimate Enemy
Mattel
1977 - 1978

Pulsar and Hypnos are relatively unknown toy lines in today's action figure / doll world. The characters didn't make a big splash with kids in the 70's when they were released - Probably because of a little known toy line called Star Wars which was grabbing the majority of kid's (and adult's) attention in toy isles. Regardless, for what it's worth the line definitely holds a nostalgic place for some collectors, and should be considered by doll collector's as an add on to their collections.

At approximately thirteen and a half inches, Pulsar and Hypnos actually stand a good inch and a half over your typical doll of the era. Most dolls came in (and still do) came in around twelve inches, with the highly popular Mego's being even shorter at eight inches. Both dolls can be found in a vast array of packaging styles, but it's key to note that regardless of which versions you get you'll find the same accessories inside.

Pular comes with either his shirt on or off, and in both a standard rectangle box as well as the carded box style that was popular during this era.

Hypnos can be found with either his mask on or off, and like Pulsar, in the same box styles as noted above.

While the dolls seem ample on secondary markets, the majority of them are loose, and don't contain all the accessories. Mint in the box ones typically don't sell as the majority of sellers have them listed around $125.00 for the boxed versions, and as much as $350.00 for the carded boxed versions.


The series included on playset - the Life Systems Center which did basically what it was called - Check the vital systems of your Pulsar doll...With a little imagination of course.


All and all, it's not a bad series. It's just one that many people don't know about. If you're a doll collector, then Pulsar and Hypnos deem checking out.

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Monday, June 13, 2016

Esqueleton Fighter (Ditoys)



Esqueleton Fighter
Ditoys
2012

While we don't necessarily endorse knock-offs (or bootlegs if you will), we do have to admit that there are some out there that have their charm. These guys for example.

Esqueleton Fighter figures are nothing short of a rip off of Playmate Toys 1994 Skeleton Warriors line, but that's okay. We forgive them. Truth be told, they're not the first time that these molds have been used, and they probably won't be the last. They've been sighted on English cardbacks with the title, Skeleton Fighter (by Vidal) as well as in window boxed versions known as simply Movable Figure. In short, the molds have gotten around a bit in the action figure world.

Depending on which of the aforementioned lines that you look for will determine how many figures you're going to be hunting down. In the Esqueleton Fighter line there are four different figures which were produced in both standard and neon colors. The figures included; (from left to right) Black Scare, Blood Fenix, Lord Wrecker and Skull Blast.



For what they are, they're not terrible. Sure they're bootlegs. Sure, you could just as easily spend your money on the legit released Skeleton Warriors, but at the end of the day, these are still pretty cool.

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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Dennis Rodman (Street Players)



Dennis Rodman
Street Players
1996

Oh, Street Players....How you just didn't understand the toy / collector's market. You get a consistent "A" for effort, but you never quite hit the mark, did you?

From his strange fashion sense, his odd behavior, and his interesting choice of friends, Dennis Rodman certainly has a way of staying relevant in the world of celebrities. Couple that with a man who had an amazing NBA career (so we've heard), and you have what one could classify as an icon in the world of pop culture - Or at the very least a madman who seems to crop up here and there, do something insane, then disappear again for a bit.

However, with that said, we don't necessarily recall anyone in the world of collectors saying something to the tune of, "Gee, I wish someone would produce a doll of Dennis Rodman dressed in a wedding gown." You know, from the infamous time he announced that he was bisexual, and going to marry himself.

Well, regardless of this lack of desire, Street Players said, "We'll answer the call to the unasked question!"....And then they did. Yes, in 1996 you could own your very own Dennis Rodman Wedding Day twelve inch doll! Everyone rejoice!

Okay, so you're not into Rodman dressed in drag. We get it. Not many people would be. Street Players still has you covered with the more simplistic standard Dennis Rodman doll. This particular version featured white trunks and a white jersey, as well as basketball....Oh, right...And if you look close enough you'll see shorty short jeans, a silver shirt and knee high silver boots in there too....Because.....Why not.....It's Dennis Rodman...And it's a limited edition at that.

As shocking as this may be to all of you reading, the doll didn't fair too well on retail shelves, and to date doesn't hold much value on secondary markets. Mint in the box dolls sell between $6.00 and $15.00 - Which approximates to about 25% to 50% less than actual retail prices when the doll first came out.

Yes, Dennis Rodman is one quirky dude. For more on his antics, take a look at a list we found entitled, The 15 Most Outrageous Moments In Dennis Rodman History That Remind Us How Crazy He's Always Been.

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Monday, June 6, 2016

Batman: Reborn (DC Direct)



Batman: Reborn
DC Direct
2012

There's a Batman figure for pretty much every iteration you can think of.

Batman: Reborn is a Batman Family crossover series which establishes a new status quo in Gotham City after the events of Battle for the Cowl. The story unfolds in multiple parts; Batgirl Rising, Batman Reborn, The Deep, Elegy, The Grail, Hush Money, Long Shadows and Union - Which take place across multiple Batman  / Batgirl / Robin titles.

As DC Direct was prone to doing, this particular series was showcased in plastic in the confined Batman: Reborn action figure line. It featured four figures in total, and to date remains one of the most highly sought after series of Batman toys.

 Batman: Jason Todd

 Batman: Two-Face

 Batgirl

Azrael

Those looking to collect this series should proceed with the understanding that it isn't going to be cheap. Carded figures sell between $80.00 to 120.00 each - With Batgirl and Batman: Jason Todd being the most expensive out of the four. Occasionally you can find Azrael for as little as $30.00, and Batman: Two-Face for as little as $65.00 (yeah, right...little). However, these finds are few and far between.

You're going to be facing an even tougher challenge for those looking to obtain the figures loose. Azrael is the most common of the bunch, and can easily be found for as little as $15.00 - $20.00. However, the remaining three are incredibly scarce (out of the package). Even then, Batgirl and Batman: Jason Todd will still set you back upwards of $100.00 each.

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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Twisted Christmas (McFarlane Toys)



Twisted Christmas
McFarlane Toys
2007

McFarlane Toys churns out a lot of odd, and a lot of fantastic products. One that fits both those bills is the 2007 Twisted Christmas line.

Many fans / collectors consider the line to be the fifth wave from the McFarlane Monsters line which ran from 1997 to 2005. Considering the Twisted Christmas line was released in 2007, that's not an unreasonable deduction. However, this theory has never been confirmed.

Regardless, that aspect doesn't impede this line from being awesome to collect. Just think how these would look on your fireplace mantle at Christmas time, or even hung around the tree as ornaments. They'd be the ultimate odd conversation piece for friends and families around the holidays.

 Jack Frost*Mrs. Claus*Reindeer Rudy
Santa Claus*Santa's Littler Helpers*Snowman

Six basic figures were produce (as shown above), with an additional limited edition variant of Mrs. Claus. The basic series version sported brown hair, while the limited edition - Which was limited to just 4,000 pieces - had flowing locks of blonde hair.

Mrs. Claus (Limited Blonde Edition)

What's interesting to note when tracking these figures down is that individually they can sell for about $25.00 each (mint in the package for the basic figures). However, at the same time, an entire set of the series (once again mint in the package for the basic figures) can sell for as little as $80.00. The blonde haired version of Mrs. Claus won't set you back much more to obtain - An average of $30.00 mint in the package.

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Monday, May 30, 2016

The Flying Nun (Hasbro)



The Flying Nun
Hasbro
1967

Would a show like The Flying Nun be accepted today? With how many different "groups" there are out there that seem to want to oppose everything, we can't help but feel like a reboot of this particular franchise would cause a ruckus somewhere.

That said, times were different back in the 60's. So when Sally Field first dawned her veil, and took to the air as The Flying Nun (1967 - 1970) the show became a massive success running for three seasons consisting of 82 episodes (including a one hour pilot).

Hasbro produced two very different iterations of the character in plastic form in 1967 - A 4.5 inch figure, and a 12 inch doll.

 The Flying Nun (4.5 Inch)

These days the figure is much easier to find than the doll, and depending on whether or not you want the box is going to dictate heavily what you're going to be paying for it. Loose figures sell for $20.00 to $30.00, while a mint in the box figure can sell for as much as $200.00.

The Flying Nun (12 Inch)

Oddly enough, while it's much rarer, the doll seems to go for much less. Mint in the box ones have sold for as little as $100.00. However, several sellers seem to ask between $300.00 and $500.00 for it - Which of course remain unsold. We have never seen one loose, so we unfortunately can't gauge a price for one out of the box.

If looking to purchase either version of these dolls mint in the box it is key to look for two major factors;

  1. Ensure that the cellophane wrap is not only present, but intact without holes. The presence of no cellophane means that the item was (at some point) either opened, or the wrap damaged and discarded - Which we suppose still means it was opened, though potentially never removed from the box.
  2. Check the quality of the paint on the face. Many of the dolls are known to have faded or chipping paint on the face - Even in the box.

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