Thursday, October 31, 2013

October 2013 Recap

Below is a recap of all the post we've covered in October 2013. If you missed any, or simply want to see them again, click on each "title" to be taken directly to that post. As always, thanks for reading.

WWF - World Wrestling Federation
Army Ants
Nickelodeon's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Series 6
Tickle Me Elmo
TaleSpin (AKA Tale Spin)
Kill Bill
Masters of the Universe Mini Comics
Trash Bag Bunch
Swat Kats
Double Dragon

In addition to those new posts, we've also updated our original Star Wars 12 Inch Dolls post with an all new layout featuring larger pictures of each issue.  Check it out, "HERE"!

We've also updated our original Mirage Comics Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles post which now not only features the original series, but all the spin offs, and secondary series under the Mirage banner.  You can check that out, "HERE"!

Click "HERE" to go back to the home page.

Double Dragon (Tyco)



Double Dragon
Tyco
1993

When you're a young lad in the 80's, and you step into an arcade to find an all new video game cabinet. When you see that said game has the word "Dragon" in it, you definitely take more notice than you would have at a glance. Then you put your quarter in, and the first thing you see is a group of thugs walking over to a woman. They thrust a fist into her gut, and as she doubles over, they scoop her up and take her away. What just happened?

If you're lucky, several quarters later you'll not only have that answer, but also have your girl back.

Tyco's brand of Double Dragon figures are actually based on the 1993 to 1994 animated series from DiC - Which in turn is loosely based on the 1980's arcade hit. The cartoon was a short lived series, lasting for just twenty-six episodes over two seasons.

The premise of the show had Billy and Jimmy Lee separated from birth. When first meeting, they meet as adversaries, only to find out that they are long lost brothers. The two then unite to face the Shadow Boss. The show is dominated by magical themes - Such as magical swords and masks - Something very different from the actual game. This completely new direction could have been a contributing factor in why many DD fans shunned the show.

However, for those fans, there was a great line of toys produced. Seven figures and three vehicles encompass the whole line - None of which are all that difficult to track down these days.

FIGURES
Billy Lee*Blaster*Jimmy Lee*Vortex


FIGURES
Shadow Master*Sickle*Trigger Happy


VEHICLES
Cruiser
Cycle*Shadow Raven


Join us Friday, November 1st for a special announcement!

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Swat Kats (Remco)



Swat Kats
Remco
1994

Swat Kats  - The Radical Squadron was an animated series that ran for two seasons between 1993 and 1994. The premise involved two cats, T-Bone and Razor who were team members of Megacat City's paramilitary law enforcement agency - The Enforcers. Each episode saw the duo go up against threats that were determined to harm the citizens of Megacat City, or the city itself - Villains such as Dark Kat, Pastmaster (the sorcerer), Doctor Viper (the mutant) and the metallic robot gangsters, The Metallikats.

Though slightly popular among fans, the series failed to find a foothold in the regular line up and rotation of other popular Saturday morning cartoons, and as such only had a total of twenty-three episodes, and one special. Though six additional episodes were planned, they were eventually cancelled.

Prior to the animated series being cancelled, Remco produced a small series of figures which included four figures; Razor, T-Bone, Dr. Viper and Dark Kat. Sadly, they never got around to producing any more figures, and more so devastating, never produced the Kat's jet - The Turbokat. This made for a very dull series in the long run.

Razor*T-Bone


Dr. Viper*Dark Kat

Personally, what kills this line for us is that lack of any vehicles - Specifically the above mentioned Turbokat. You really can't have the figures in their flight gear without it. Had Remco released this, the series would have been far more desirable for us - But, we can understand that sales didn't justify it. However, one has to ask the question - Would sales have been better if the Turbokat was released with the figures?

Join us next time when we take a look at Double Dragon!

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Trash Bag Bunch (Galoob)



Trash Bag Bunch
Galoob
1991

The Trash Bag Bunch was a small line of figures produced and released by Galoob in 1991.  The series took a page from the recent Cheap Toys line produced by Topps, which coincided with their highly popular Garbage Pail Kids license.  Unlike the GPK product, Trash Bag Bunch leaned heavily on "save the environment" marketing, which was quickly becoming a big deal in the early 1990's.  Each figure also came fully painted as opposed to the single colored GPK ones.

Each small figure came packed on a cardboard backer, and inside the plastic bubble was a small trash bag.  The idea was to open the plastic "trash bag", and remove an even smaller paper made bag from inside.  You then soaked said bag in a small bucket, or sink of water, and watch the paper dissolve around it, revealing the figure.  While it is known that said dissolved paper would turn the water green, other people have been quoted as saying they remember the water smelling really bad when the bag completely dissolved.  Whether this was meant to be a marketing ploy to make it seem like the toys literally were coming from garbage bags or just a coincidence is unknown.

There were thirty-six figures in the first series (complete series shown in the photo to the right), and despite coming in sealed bags, it was easy to tell which figure was inside because each carded character had a small circular sticker at the bottom with a number.  While collecting all consecutive numbers should have yielded a complete set, manufacturing errors did occur, and some got packaged incorrectly.

The figures are broken up into two factions.  The good guys - The Disposers, and the bad guys, The Trashers.  Each faction included eighteen figures in the first series.

Galoob also added a unique twist to the line by packaging two figures in one of every twenty-four packages.  Though the only figures that were packaged inside as the additional figures were numbers thirty-five (Infector), and thirty-six (Wastor).

In 1993, Galoob produced a second series of figures which were sold exclusively in Denmark and Sweden.  This new series consisted of many newly sculpted toys, as well as repainted variant versions of some of the first series.  It was Galoob's hope that the line would take off, and then production would begin for sales in the United States and other countries.  Unfortunately sales didn't merit further production, and the line was cancelled shortly after.  It is because of this that today the second series figures command considerable prices for each individual one.

While there's not much to see packaging wise, we've included a photo of every single numbered and carded figure for the first series below.  The final photo includes a list of the characters with their corresponding number.







Join us next time when we take a look at Swat Kats!

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Monday, October 21, 2013

Masters Of The Universe Mini Comics (Mattel)



Masters of the Universe Mini Comics
Mattel (DC Comics)
1982-1987

One of the fun aspects of collecting the original Masters of the Universe toys were the little mini comics that came packed with some of the figures.  Each mini book was approximately six inches high, and contained a short story, typically which intertwined with the character it came packed with - Though some were just randomly packed in with other figures in addition.  Throughout the six years that the toy line ran, forty-nine books were produced.

The first eleven comics were produced by DC Comics, and are highly praised among He-Man collectors for the high quality of the books.  Unfortunately, in what can be assumed was a cost cutting measure, Mattel took direct control of the books, and produced the remaining thirty-eight, which fans consider to be of a much lower quality both in art and story.


Battle In The Clouds*(The) Battle Of Roboto*Between A Rock And A Hard Place


(The) Clash Of Arms*(The) Cosmic Key*Double-Edged Sword


Dragon's Gift*Engery Zoids*Enter...Buzz-Saw Hordak!


Escape From The Slime Pit!*Eye Of The Storm*(The) Fastest Draw In The Universe!


(The) Flying Fists Of Power*Grizzlor: The Legend Comes Alive!*He-Man And The Insect People


He-Man And The Power Sword*He-Man Meets Ram-Man!*Hordak - The Ruthless Leader's Revenge


(The) Hordes Of Hordak*King Of Castle Grayskull*King Of The Snake Men


Leech - The Master Of Power Suction Unleashed!*(The) Magic Stealer!*Mantenna And The Meance Of The Evil Horde!


Masks Of Power*(The) Menace Of Multi-Bot!*(The) Menace Of Trap-Jaw!


(The) Obelisk*(The) Ordeal Of Man-E-Faces!*(The) Power Of...Point Dread!


(The) Power Of Grayskull: The Legend Begins!*Revenge Of The Snake Men!*Rock People To The Rescue


(The) Search For Keldor*(The) Secret Liquid Of Life!*Siege Of Avion


Skeletor's Dragon*Slave City!*Snake Attack!


Spikor Strikes*(The) Stench Of Evil*(The) Tale Of Teela!


(The) Temple Of Darkness*(The) Terror Claws Strike*(The) Terror Of Tri-Klops!



(The) Treachery Of Modulok!*(The) Ultimate Battleground!*(The) Vengeance Of Skeletor!*(The) Warrior Machine!

Join us next time when we take a look at Trash Bag Bunch!

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Kill Bill (NECA)



Kill Bill
NECA
2004

Quentin Tarantino is one of those writer / directors who you either love or hate. His movies are either really deep and meaningful to people, or they're boring and / or violent. At least this is how it is with the people we've talked about it with - Which admittedly isn't many people.

Though it's two parts (part one released in October 2003, and part 2 released in April 2004), Kill Bill is respectively considered to be only one movie - Tarantino's fourth to be exact. It was cut into two parts when the running time exceeded four hours. Studios felt nobody would sit through a film this long. They were proven wrong when the film was released in a limited run in its entirety at select theaters in 2011 entitled Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair - A version many fans wish they could buy on home video.

In 2004 NECA produced a fair amount of figures to coincide with the film's two chapters. Series one featured seven figures, four of which were variations of the Crazy 88.

VOLUME 1
The Bride (House of Blue Leaves Base)*The Bride (Snow Base)
Go-Go


VOLUME 1
Crazy 88 (Director Quentin Tarantino)*Crazy 88 (Bald)
Crazy 88 (Hair on Head and Face)*Crazy 88 (Hair on Head)

Lucy Liu's character O-Ren Ishii was initially scheduled to be released with series one, but unfortunately was cancelled when the actress would not approve of her likeness being used.


VOLUME 1
O-Ren Ishii (Cancelled)


Series two, or Volume 2 (respectively) focused on the second chapter in the movie. Only four figures made it into the mix plus an additional curved beard variant of Pai Mei.

VOLUME 2
Bill*Beatrix*Elle Driver
Pai Mei*Pai Mei (Curved Beard Chase Variant)

Perhaps it was from mild success of the line, or too many left over unsold figures which lead to NECA releasing a "Best Of" wave of Kill Bill figures. This was nothing more than re-carded figures which had already been released in the prior waves.


BEST OF
Elle Driver*Go-Go
Pei Mei*The Bride

NECA produced a very limited run of the Pussy Wagon truck replica from the film.  The piece was limited to just 2000.

VEHICLE
Pussy Wagon Truck Replica
Limited to 2000 Pieces

Join us next time when we take a look at Masters of the Universe Mini Comics!

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Monday, October 14, 2013

TaleSpin (AKA Tale Spin) (Playmates Toys)



TaleSpin
Playmates
1991

Disney was in the midst of creating and / or airing some of the most popular animated series of the decade in 90's - DuckTales was slowly coming to an end and in its place launched Darkwing Duck and TaleSpin!

TaleSpin featured the lovable Baloo from Disney's 1967 animated feature The Jungle Book as a pilot for Baloo's Air Service - a cargo company. The company is purchased by Rebecca Cunningham after Baloo defaults on payments, and rather than put him out of a job Rebecca instead enlists him to stay on as a pilot. This leads to a series of adventures high in the sky as Baloo tries to come to terms with no longer being the boss.

The show would often time center on encounters with air pirates lead by Don Karnage. With the aid of Rebecca and his co-pilot Kit Cloudkicker, Baloo would always find a way out of any sticky situation to make his delivery on time - While arguing with Rebecca all the way. Think Moonlighting, but with an airplanes instead of a lawyers office.

Despite its popularity, the series only ran for 65 episodes between 1990 and 1991. It was also during this time that Playmates Toys produced a rather solid line of figures and vehicles based on the show.

FIGURES
Baloo*Colonel Spigot
Don Karnage*Dumptruck

The overall design of the figures was definitely on par with the company's most popular franchise, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and the quality just as good. Each figure was perfectly represented in plastic with fantastic sculpting and paint.

FIGURES
Kit Cloudkicker*Louie
Molly Cunningham*Rebecca Cunningham


VEHICLES
Baloo's Sea Duck*Don Karnage's Tri-Wing Terror


GIANT FIGURES
Baloo


Join us next time when we take a look at Kill Bill!

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Tickle Me Elmo (Tyco, Fisher-Price, Playskool and Mattel)



Tickle Me Elmo
Tyco, Fisher-Price, Playskool, and Mattel
1996 - 2013

There are few toys out there that make the world go crazy.  We're not just talking popular that people wanted to collect them, but rather those even rarer ones that people wanted so badly that they stood in line for hours, days, weeks, or longer, trampled other people to be one of the few who would get their hands on it, or worse, got into physical altercations over them.

Tickle Me Elmo will forever be that toy from 1996 that caused all of the above.  People so desperately wanted a Tickle Me Elmo doll for either themselves, or children for the 1996 Christmas season, and they went to great (sometimes illegal) lengths to get them.  But why?  What made Tickle Me Elmo so popular that overnight parents who had no clue about the doll suddenly "needed it?"
That credit, or blame, depending on how you look at it, starts with daytime television host Rosie O'Donnell who was sent one of the dolls by Tyco for her one year old son, and another two hundred dolls for the producers.  In an episode while recreating a stunt with the doll based on an original one performed by Groucho Marx, O'Donnell would throw a doll out into the audience whenever a guest would say the word "wall".  While this started the craze for the doll, it was later boosted even further when Bryant Gumble held one of the dolls throughout an entire episode of The Today Show.

When Black Friday hit in 1996, the dolls sold out across the Country in just less than two hours.  Tyco had originally produced 400,000 pieces, but quickly found they were struggling to keep up with supply vs. demand.  By Christmas over one million Tickle Me Elmo's were sold, and by the end of the following year that number had gone up to over five million.

Due to the high demand, places like eBay became a hot spot for the item.  A doll that sold for $29.99 was immediately selling for hundreds of dollars, and one jewelry shop was even reported as selling a diamond necklace and bracelet draped over the doll for one million dollars.  No follow up reports were ever given as to whether or not the doll sold.

When the holiday season died down in 1996, Tyco was able to slow their factories down, and focus on a firmer marketing plan for the doll.  Thus in 1997 the Tickle Me Elmo and Pal two pack was released.  The second doll didn't giggle and vibrate as Elmo did, and was only about half the size.  It was available with either Zoe or Cookie Monster.  While many people weren't so concerned with the additionally packed in plush doll at the time, today the "Pal" version of Elmo is much harder to find than the original.

In 1997, Tyco also attempted to find success with the Tickle Me versions of Ernie, Big Bird, Cookie Monster and Zoe.  While the dolls sold reasonably well, they never reached the success that the Elmo version found.  Though one could speculate that had the dolls been available during the 1996 holiday season they probably would have.



Worth noting is that today the Zoe doll is the most difficult to find and the ones that are typically don't come in their original packaging.

In 1997, Tyco was purchased by Mattel, and in 2001 Tickle Me Elmo was re-launched under their Fisher-Price banner as Tickle Me Elmo Surprise! - Though most collectors refer to it as the Fifth Anniversary Edition.  What made this particular doll sell well was the elaborate scheme...er...contest that was incorporated with it.  With its release was the announcement that on January 9, 2002, five of the dolls would stop laughing and announce that the person holding it was a winner.

The grand prize winner would receive a $200,000.00 check which could only be used towards the purchase of a new house, $60,000.00 in savings bonds for their child's future education, a new Volkswagen Beetle, a new PC, and Ride-On Battery Operated Volkswagen toy car for their child.  The four runners up would receive a brand new Volkswagen Bettle, a $40,000.00 savings bond for their child's future education, a new PC, and the battery operated Ride-On toy car.

While many people flocked to stores to purchase the dolls, others cried out over the selling point.  Peter Van der Linden, a Silicon Valley software consultant summed it up best by saying, "Christmas is traditionally a time of greed and this toy speaks directly to that tradition.  It subtly manipulates the parents to provide a toy for their child in the hope of some later benefit for them."

The grand prize winner would know they won because they would be greeted by Elmo saying, "Congratulations."  The four runner ups would receive a message that said, "You found it!"  For those who didn't win a prize, Elmo would instead introduce new play patterns.

In honor of Tickle Me Elmo's tenth anniversary, in 2006 Fisher-Price developed the T.M.X. (aka Tickle Me Extreme) Elmo.  It was released in three different waves - The first being with a "Top Secret" sticker, which is now the hardest and most expensive version to find on secondary markets.  The second was released with a parody "Warning" label, and the third had a "Try Me" sticker on it with a hole now incorporated into the packaging.

The T.M.X. version intrigued people enough that Tickle Me Elmo mania seemed to be coming back.  Most retail locations sold out of the doll, but due to the various online channels that have cropped up with the aging of the internet, it was still somewhat easy for most buyers to find the doll via sites such as Amazon, and to an extent, eBay.

Mattel also took the opportunity this year to combine Tickle Me Elmo with one of their hottest selling products - Barbie.  It's smart if you think about it.  If you have one product that people are crazy about, why not combine it with another product that other people are crazy about?  Sell twice the merchandise to both sides.  It was brilliant.

The twelve inch Barbie doll came decked out in a unique Elmo shirt and belt, and was packed with a very small Barbie sized Tickle Me Elmo, which even included the T.M.X. package.  It's actually really cool to see all the detail that went into this item.

Fisher-Price followed up in 2007 with a new Extra Special Edition which now came in a red box.  This edition boasted that it now included a song, and had hidden silly surprises to be found.



Fisher-Price also updated the original Tickle Me Ernie and Tickle Me Cookie Monster, releasing them in the all new T.M.X. packaging.  Due to lackluster sales the Big Bird and Zoe dolls never got the same treatment.



The last version available of Tickle Me Elmo came in a standard package which somewhat resembles the original Tyco packaging.  The doll also has a tag around its neck which states that it's THE original Tickle Me Elmo - Basically meaning that it doesn't have all the upgraded mechanics that came with the T.M.X. version.

To many the doll was too much of a step down from the T.M.X. version, and as a result really didn't sell as well as Fisher-Price had hoped.

If we had to speculate as to why this version of the doll was released, we would suggest that this was in response to Playskool releasing their own laughing Elmo doll...

...LOL Elmo.  This is technically the latest version of Tickle Me Elmo, and was released in 2012.  To date the LOL version hasn't been as popular as the Tickle Me version.  This could be because people don't associate the two dolls due to the name change.

Will Tickle Me Elmo ever see the success these days that it saw in 1996?  Probably not - Which is probably a good thing due to the numerous people injured, robbed, and maliciously beaten by people who wanted a doll.  For us, the doll stands as a page in history of the great absurd lengths that people will go to in order to get a toy for their child who will probably only play with it for a few months, then toss it aside for the next "best" thing they want.

Join us next time when we take a look at Talespin!

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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Series 6 (Playmates Toys)



Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Series 6
Playmates Toys
2013

Hot on the heels of series five comes the newest figures for Nickelodeon's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and this time around it's all bad guys, though sadly there are only two of them.

First up is the all new Shredder.  For those of you who purchased the 2013 San Diego Comic Con version of this figure, you'll notice that with the exception of the lack of chrome finish and additionally painted details, this is the exact same figure.  We talked about the SDCC version in our original Series four post located "HERE".

Though he's being dubbed as Shredder #2, you won't actually find the "#2" on the package anywhere.  There are several changes that separate this figure from the original series one version.  First and foremost is that he's sculpted more accurately to the cartoon series.  He also contains a removable helmet which shows his scared face, and he also sports the purple cape he is known for wearing. He's also light years ahead from the original version in the articulation department.

Articulation wise, his head can swivel left and right.  This is slightly limited when the helmet is on.  His arms are on ball joints at the shoulder, and his wrists also swivel.  The legs feature ball joints at the hips, and there are knee joints as well.  The end result is a well put together action figure that you can get a ton of poses out of.

The second, and final figure from series six is the all new mutant Spider Bytze.  What this figure lacks in articulation he makes up for in sheer coolness.

First and foremost, fans will notice that compared to his cartoon counterpart he's incredibly short.  In fact if you removed the limbs on the top of the figure he'd actually be shorter than the Turtle figures.  Much like the reaction to figures such as Dogpound and Snakeweed, this is really disappointing.

Out of the package, Spider Bytez requires a little assembly as none of his spider legs are attached.  Upon popping them in, they actually work as if they are on ball joints, and can swivel in several directions.  There's also a joint towards the center which allows each arm to go up and down.  His arms are also on ball joints which while they don't really help to articulate the figure at least add a little more charm to it.  Beyond that, the figure is pretty stagnant.

However, despite what it lacks in articulation, the Spider Bytes figure is pretty cool.  The paint and sculpt are really awesome, and the attention to detail is pretty amazing.  This figure is well worth adding to your Nickelodeon's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles collection.

In addition to these series six figures, the sub series Battle Shell figures are also scheduled to be hitting store shelves soon, so keep your eyes peeled if you're trying to track them down.  All and all, Playmates Toys has really done a good job of keeping new product on the shelves, all while keeping the series interesting for fans young and old.

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