Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Pop Culture League Challenge - First Quarter

I'm happy to have been sticking with the League assignments so far. It's been a lot of fun.

This week's assignment takes Leagures (yes, made up word) way down memory lane to talk about our first quarter. No, not on a calendar, but rather our first arcade or video game experience.

Ah, the lights, the sounds, the cabinets. Life truly was good in the 80's. A video arcade could be found pretty much anywhere in those days. Best yet, each game cost only a quarter - or token.

Long gone are those days. Not only is it hard to find a true arcade, but games for a quarter are even slimmer. Now a days you can expect to drop upwards of a dollar or more to play at locations such as Dave and Busters - Mind you you're not going to find many classics there. Furthermore, you're not going to get the true arcade experience.

While Rich was enjoying pizza at Pizza Hut as he plunked quarters into Pac-Man, and Brother Midnight was playing more mechanical based games, I was living it up at the Bend River Mall dropping token after token into arcade game after arcade game at Aladdin's Castle.

I don't honestly remember what my first arcade game was, but boy do I remember some of my favorites; Rolling Thunder (still one of my most favorite games to play), Willow, Bad Dudes, Robocop - This list could go on and on.

Mind you, I dabbled in the true classics here and there such as Donkey Kong, Burger Time and Centipede...Again, this list could go on and on.

Then there was Dragon's Lair. It was one of the first games to cost a full buck to play, and one of the shortest play sessions to many. How many of us dropped our money in, watched in awe as the animation fired up, only to be dead because we didn't realize that was the actual game? I don't think I ever got past the castle drawbridge as a kid in the arcade - Yet I foolishly tried over and over.

There were of course other classics that came in the late 80's / early 90's. Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter II, and the iconic four player games such as TMNT, X-Men and The Simpsons. Really...This list could go on and on.

While my arcade days are a blurry mess of what came first, the token or the game, what I do remember is my first experience with the NES. Mind you, this still isn't my first video game console experience. I have had the privilege of playing video games as far back as my parents original Magnavox Odyssey on our classic knob based television, and from there the Atari and ColecoVision. However, much like my arcade experience, I can't pinpoint a memory of those consoles.

It's with the NES that my memory goes from blurry, "Yeah, I did that," to visual memories of bliss seen in the cortex of my brain thanks to the ol' hippocampus.

"Check out the big brains on Brett! You a smart mother f**ker." Jules Winnfield

Much like Mickey at Retro Ramblings, I missed the advertising campaign of the original NES because we lived overseas at the time. Unlike Mickey though, I don't think that I died within five seconds of first firing up Super Mario Bros. However, that would most likely be because the first NES game I played was Legend of Kage - A game I still play to these days.

My brother and I got introduced to the console while visiting a family of our parents in Canada. Their son not only took us to an arcade on the boardwalk that day, but also let us play his NES. It was love at first start button. It made such an impression on us that we were both begging for an NES the entire way home.

Christmas of that year did not disappoint, and with it came other great memories of games such as Kung Fu, Excitebike and of course the legendary duel cart Super Mario Bros. / Duck Hunt. Hours upon hours were spent sitting in front of the television with our beloved NES games, and during those hours we played a lot of different games between my brother and I.

From there other consoles followed in our household - SNES, Turbografx 16, Sega Genesis and more. The NES was pretty much the foundation for what would become a love of video games in general. To this day though, that classic console remains my all time favorite, and one I treasure a lot of memories with. Thanks for strolling down that lane with me.

That's just our memories though. Check out the fun stories of others (above and below in the links).

Mr. Smiths Plastic Bubble
The Last Home Town

Those were the only folks that had posted as of this writing, so make sure to check the League Assignment page at Cool and Collected for future entries from other bloggers.

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Monday, August 29, 2016

Funko Pop Mystery Series 3 - Hot Topic Rubbing Salt In The Wound

For those of you that may recall, we wrote a piece pertaining to the Funko Pop Mystery Series 3 that Hot Topic was selling. To summarize that article, we bought twenty Pops, and didn't come up with one complete set of four. Needless to say, we were not thrilled, and called Hot Topic out on the matter.

Fast forward to the weekend of August 27th. While doing our weekly outing for new Pops, and toys in general, we stumble into the local Hot Topic. What greets us is nothing short of a slap in the face.

Hot Topic has apparently made the decision in several of their locations to open all of the Mystery Pops, and sell them directly. The reason per the store clerk - "People weren't buying them as blind boxes." Well, except for those suckers that came a few weeks back and bought twenty of them anyway...

Talk about salt in the wound.

Not only did we spend way more than we had to at the physical store, but we also ended up spending an additional forty bucks on ebay to get the chase Pop - Which they had about four of.

Some choice words come to mind - Some of which we won't write here. Others include; annoyed, angry and swindled.

The question we now have is this - For those of us who bought them blindly and kept our receipt, can we get a refund for returning them? We're certainly going to try and find out. If we get push back on the matter, we're prepared to present the argument that Hot Topic made their promotion null and void when they took the liberty of opening all the blind boxes. As such, they should honor that we're wanting to return a product with a receipt that matches identical to what they have on the shelf.

Stay tuned for that update.

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Walk the Line / Cash (State of the Art Toys)

Walk the Line / Cash
State of the Art Toys

Admittedly we know very little about Johnny Cash beyond the handful of song we heard playing on our parent's 78's, and of course the 2005 movie Walk the Line staring Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon...Oh, and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story staring John C. Reilly and Jenna Fischer. The man in black has songs we know, but we're not necessarily his biggest fans by any stretch.

Because our post on his history would be based on the above, we'll go ahead and spare the Cash fans out their of our impromptu history lesson, and jump right into the figure.

State of the Art Toys produced a Walk the Line / Johnny Cash figure in 2005 for Fox to distribute as a promotional item for the upcoming film. For what it's worth, this figure isn't bad. It certainly captures the look of Cash from the head sculpt to the black head to toe clothing.

If you look closely, you'll notice that the backdrop for the package is actually the poster for the 2005 film. Not a bad touch at all.

Mind you, this wouldn't be the only version of the figure. State of the Art Toys also followed up with a retail version - Or rather, specialty shops version.

The retail version, known as Cash, featured a wanted poster backdrop, but the same figure inside.

In general neither version is any more desirable than the other. Both the Fox promo and Cash versions can be found for as little as $9.00 here and there. High end sellers have been known to get as much as $30.00 for them, but more so the sales benchmark at about $16.00.

Personally, we'd rather have a Dewey Cox figure, but that's just us.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Pop Culture League Challenge - Olympic Medal Challenge

Ooops....We're apparently a week behind on the League "assignments", so we need to do a little catch up session. We just posted our contribution to last week's assignment last night. This weeks assignment is more so geared towards a direct answer as opposed to a visual one. The question; If _______ was an Olympic sport, I'd have a gold medal around my neck.

We initially felt a bit pretentious with answering this one, because the answer is geared more so towards patting our self on the back. However, when we thought about it, that's pretty much what the point of the league assignments have been - I.E. make yourself shine in the particular category at hand. So, here goes.

If cataloging toys was an Olympic event, I'd we'd have a gold medal around my our neck(s). Now the back patting...

Since January of 2009, we here at The Toy Box have put countless hours, love and dedication into cataloging as many toy lines as we could come across. We're so OCD about providing the best coverage that we have several posts that may never be published here because we can't find as few as one item to make it a complete collection.

According to Blogger's tally, we have 746 posts published. While that by no means is a milestone number in terms of the volume of posts other bloggers have on their sites, it certainly adds up to several months if not longer of man hours. Not to mention many nights of lost sleep.

Even when we tried to take a break, that lasted no more than a month. At the end of the day, while it was a lot of time spent, it was enjoyable time - and isn't that what collecting is all about? Enjoying it?

We want to close this assignment by thanking all the readers that have come, gone, and stayed with us over the years. We haven't crossed that line of 1,000,000 views, but honestly we don't care about that. We're happy that there are folks out there enjoying the site, but at the end of the day we do it because we love it. Not for the numbers.

Check out other people's response to the assignment;

The Harvey Mercheum
Green Plastic Squirt Gun
20 Years Before 2000 - Loved this post! Totally stealing the concept of 80's Day!

And of course, check out the assignment page at Cool and Collected for more responses.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Pop Culture League Challenge - Shelfie

Brian with Cool and Collected has resurrected the group formerly known as The League of Extraordinary Bloggers. Admittedly, we didn't really jump in on that when it was around. With this all new iteration we've decided to give it a whirl, and join in on the fun.

This week's assignment - Shelfie! Snap one or two photos (or in our case, more) of your favorite shelf. Well, we couldn't limit it to just one...or two.

When you have over 700 Funko Pops, it's relatively difficult to display them all in limited space. So instead of having rows and rows, or rather walls and walls, we like to rotate things out every few months. It keeps things in an orderly fashion, and also makes them easier to take in with the eyes to thoroughly enjoy. The current standings of our Pop collection is The Walking Dead!

Our collection initially started with just the basic Pops that were released via retail chains - Or more accurately stated - Via specialty shops. However, we quickly became infatuated with the various exclusive variants, and had to add those to our collection as well. We've been fortunate enough to put together a complete set.

But, then you find yourself with a complete collection, and an itchy obsession that still needs a good scratch. That's when we turned our sites to more unique versions of these particular Pops. Our collection includes a Bloody Rick Grimes and Daryl Dixon from Harrison Comics that have not only been graded and sealed in plastic by AFA, but also certified as being uncirculated.

We love these two pieces, and adore the ones below even more. These particular Pops are autographed by their respective actor / actress. To add a little icing to that cake, each one is certified via JSA or PSA.

Don't even get us started on the mammoth amount of series 3 Mystery Pops from Hot Topic sitting on the shelfs below. We're still steamed over how that played out.

 We've managed to obtain the signatures of Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon), Michael Rooker (Merle Dixon)...

Lennie James (Morgan Jones), Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes)...

...Steven Yeun (Glenn Rhee), Scott Wilson (Hershel Greene), Danai Gurira (Michonne) and Addy Miller (Teddy Bear Girl).

Our goal is to obtain one signature from each of the cast that has been produced as a Pop. Thank goodness for conventions like Walker Stalker and SDCC where they appear regularly.

And, that's our Shelfie.

Don't forget to check out the other folks who participated in the Shelfie project. Some of our favorites include;

G.I. Jigsaw
Stunt Zombie
Green Plastic Squirt Gun
Tony - Formerly of Action Figure Tactics
The Harvey Mercheum
and of course, Cool and Collected

These aren't everyone who participated. For a full list, check out the comment section at Cool and Collected where this all started.

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Monday, August 22, 2016

The Archies (Mattel)

The Archies

We touched on Archie, and The Archies in our post based on Marx Toys The Archies back in December 2015. As such, we're not going to dive deep into the overall premise of the band, nor the characters in general as we've already covered that.

Instead, we'll jump right into Mattel's 1977 line of the same name. Admittedly these don't look as good as the 1975 Marx line - Both in quality and overall design. If we had to nitpick, the yellow card back is rather horrendous to look at too. Overall, it's just not the best we've seen nor come to expect from such an established company such as Mattel.

Its interesting that the artwork depicts the characters as their standard design teenager / high school appearance. The figures look more so like what the characters would have looked like when they were in elementary or middle school - I.E. very young.

The series featured four figures, and oddly enough Betty was not one of them. Rather, it was Archie, Jughead, Veronica and Sabrina. This in and of itself is a unique twist to draw in Archie fans as Sabrina wasn't typically a forefront character in the Archie comics - Unless she was headlining her own stories. So to include her in the line was actually a nice treat for fans.

The figures were mostly made out of fabric, to and include their arms and feet. The only plastic that was utilized was for their heads. For the male characters, their hair was sculpted into the plastic. For the girls, they included the traditional doll hair of the era.

These days you can find the dolls here and there, (mind you, they're not in abundance) and fortunately for not all that much money. We've seen lots of the entire set sell for as little as $36.00. However, full sets being sold are a little less common than individual dolls. When buying individually, most sellers list them for around $20.00 to $25.00 a piece - Almost makes you want to just wait for a full set to become available, even if you don't need or want all the characters. You'd almost be better off buying a full set, then offloading the extras yourself.

Now, you can't have an Archie line without his famous Jalopy. Mattel delivered probably the best piece in the line with this one and only vehicle produced for the series. It could easily hold all four dolls between the front and back seats.

Unfortunately, the Jalopy is going to be the hardest piece to track down in the series.Though it's harder to come by, it's not going to hit your wallet too hard if you do find one. Mint in the box ones have sold for as little as $41.00.

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Monday, August 15, 2016

The Venture Bros. (Bif Bang Pow)

The Venture Bros.
Bif Bang Pow

Go team Venture!

As of 2016, The Venture Bros. is the longest running animated show aired on Adult Swim, and there's good reasons for that. For starters, it can be pretty funny at times. It has villains such as The Monarch that you can't help but feel sorry for, and wish he would just catch a break and win. Then of course there's the over the top violence of Brock Samson as he goes on a rampant rage of destruction in any way possible. Now that we start listing this out, really every character has a unique life of their own which comes with funny quirks. We could honestly list something about everyone.

As we've seen with prior Adult Swim related action figures, it can sometimes be a challenge to find a strong foothold in the market even when you have such a popular source material as your canvas. Bif Bang Pow started off with a hug bang (no pun intended), hitting the market with seven unique figures, and a handful of variants.

Bif Bang Pow produced both a 3 3/4 inch line as well as an 8 inch line. Today we're going to take a look at the 3 3/4 inch line.

Brock Samson* Brock Samson (Bloody / Naked Entertainment Earth Exclusive)*Brock Samson (Bloody SDCC / Entertainment Earth Exclusive)

The series launched with pretty much everyone in the main cast being present - Brock Samson, Hank and Dean Venture, Doctor Venture, Phantom Limb and of course Mr. and Mrs. The Monarch. The series also included numerous exclusives variant - Most of which were based on Brock Samson.

Dean Venture*Hank Venture*Dr. Venture

The Monarch*Dr. Mrs. Monarch*Phantom Limb

In this day and age, toy developers love giving fans something to chase after. Bif Bang Pows answer to this was the yellow unpainted test version of The Monarch. The figure was limited to just 500 pieces, and released in retail cases as a chase variant.

The Monarche Unpainted Test

The final items released to date in the 3 3/4 inch line were the G.I. Joe / retro style cards of Brock Samson variants. The black shirt version was released as a convention exclusive for Entertainment Earth, while the white shirt version was released in retail.

Brock Samson (Bloody Black Shirt Entertainment Earth)*Brock Samson (White Shirt)

The beauty of these figures is that they're all relatively cheap to obtain. If you're buying individually, you can expect to pay $15.00 to $20.00 each. However, when buying multiple figures at a time, the price can equal out to as little as $5.00 per figure when dividing the total price by how many figures you're getting. If these are figures you've been interested in getting, now is definitely a good time to jump on them.

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