Monday, March 28, 2016

Squirt Robot (Gig)



Squirt Robot
Gig
1990 Something

♫♫♫ The Squirt Robot - More than meets the I have the power?

Hmm....

He is Squirt Robot - Or Robot Spruzza Acqua - translated in English from Italian as Robot Spray Water. The figure is so deeply rooted in 1980's nostalgia, yet many collector's have no clue what he's all about. Most fans passing by the figure would suspect it to be nothing short of a Transformers knock off. To some this would be an interesting enough aspect to make them take a second look, and possibly buy it. However, if you're strictly in it for a Transformers reason, you'll soon find yourself disappointed.

Squirt Robot here has an incredibly fun story / history surrounding him, and oddly enough, it leads back to Mattel's original Masters Of The Universe line, and from there grows out even further.

In the 1985 Mattel catalog, the Evil Robot prototype was showcased in a full page spread. The figure / character was captioned as serving Skeletor and his Evil Warriors - Despite his colors and bat insignia associating him to Hordak and his Evil Horde.

The figure would have incorporated a mechanism allowing it to throw water from his rifle when moving his right arm. Though we're not sure why the figure was scrapped in the long run, we can speculate about it all day. Our guess would be that its overall look and design simply didn't fit into the MotU style of figures. What's your theory? Share it in the comment section.

Despite being dropped by Mattel, LJN picked up the mold, and incorporated it into their Voltron line with a newly molded hydro-cannon. We searched briefly, but couldn't find the particular figure that this mold was used for. Please share in the comments section if you're a Voltran fan, and have any information.

Fast forward to some point in the 1990's when Gig Italian produced the subject piece in question - Squirt Robot. Obviously the head of Evil Robot didn't make it into the equation, and the paint scheme was changed to red and white. Unfortunately the cardback has no date markings, so we're unable to narrow it down to the specific year the figure was produced.

The mold has since been reused by a Chinese company that is producing multiple colors of the robot under a different name.

Not a bad bit of history for what would become a unique foreign figure - Or bootleg if you will. We love how it has roots in so many classic 1980's toy lines. These are truly the gems in collecting that make unique conversation pieces.

For a bit more information, you can check our our main source for this article "HERE". It's not the most well written article in terms of grammar and spelling, but it shares some good information on the subject if you can make it through it.

Prices are all over the map for folks looking to track one down. While he's not in abundance, there are a few to be found here and there. Unfortunately prices have ranged from $34.00 for poor carded versions, to almost $80.00 for mint loose ones. It's possible that the main driving force behind the price is based on collector knowledge. Meaning if someone who thinks it's a neat bootleg Transformer figure finds it, they may offer a low price. If someone knowledgeable about the figures history / roots is looking then a bidding war might occur, and prices drive upwards. All speculation of course.

Click "HERE" to go back to the home page. For more posts related to this one, please click the labels below.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Modern Age (Toy Biz)



Modern Age
Toy Biz
1999

In our last post we described what the various "ages" of comics were, and where they fell in time wise. This is key as it sets the era of where these figures fall in. However, with that said, while the title of this series is Modern Age, it's important to note that these technically fall under the Bronze Age now.

Toy Biz released its Modern Age set in 1999, which is actually prior to the Silver Age series (2000) being released. Though there are only a handful of figures, this is a great line for finding some obscure figures you won't get anywhere else - Well, with the exception of Wolverine, which has been done to death.

Captain Britain

Black Bolt

Each figure came packaged with a really nice trading card as well as a handful of accessories. The package itself has an almost Robocop feel to it - At least to us it does.

Shang Chi

Wolverine

The series won't set you back too far these days. At just $5.00 a piece (on average), there doesn't appear to be a high demand for them. Definitely a good time to jump on these if they're on your radar.

Click "HERE" to go back to the home page. For more posts related to this one, please click the labels below.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Silver Age (Toy Biz)



Silver Age
Toy Biz
2000

When one collect's Toy Biz Marvel lines, it's key to be thorough and educated in all the various subsets that plastered the market between the 1990's and 2000's. There are so many teeny tiny lines that got folded into the mix that it can quickly become a daunting task just to compile a list of everything to determine what you want to buy.

Today we're looking at the Silver Age line. These figures hit the market in 2000, and were only made available via specialty shops that ordered from the monthly catalog, Previews - Thus the "Previews Exclusive" logo at the bottom of the packaging.

We'll take a moment to discuss the various ages of comic books for those not familiar with them. Though the dates themselves have been argued among collectors, Overstreet appears to have come up with a widely accepted name for them. They are as follows;

The Golden Age - 1938 to 1945

This is the age that gave birth to the super hero, and ushered in the iconic characters such as Superman, Batman, Human Torch and Namor. A good majority of these stores focused on WWII related topics.

The Atom Age - 1945 to 1956

When America became infatuated with the atom, this ushered in The Atom Age of comics. Super heroes were out. Science Fiction and Horror were in. This era issued in the birth of the Comics Code due to the graphic nature of many of the books, as well as their "adult" content.

The Silver Age - 1956 to 1970

Probably the most popular era of comic books to many collectors, The Silver Age was the epic period of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee. Essentially, it was the birth of the Marvel Universe.

The Bronze Age - 1970 to 1984

Anti-heroes, and in general, darker and grittier books were ushered in with The Bronze Age. Though the anti-hero wasn't created in this era, it was certainly defined. Characters such as The Punisher left their mark in many of the titles encompassed in the Marvel Universe.

The Copper Age - 1984 to 1992

This was the era of many independent publishers trying to break out into main stream comic book publishing. One of the most popular for this era, and the perfect example would be Eastman and Larid's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

The Modern Age - 1992 to Current

Artists of this era found that they themselves had appeal to comic collectors, and not necessarily just the characters they were currently working on. The result of this was the birth of companies such as Image Comics, Top Cow, Etc. This era was also burdened with the chase cover variants which eventually led to the implosion of the comic book market.

Though a new era has yet to be established, many comic collectors feel that around 2004 a new era was ushered in. This shift in comics was basically a result of incentive covers that publishers were pushing on the market. These limited edition covers (some as scarce as 1 in 5,000) became more so coveted by collectors than the actual stories contained within the pages of the books. If we had any sway in the market, we would definitely push for 2004 to Current to be labeled as "The Incentive Era".

The point to all of this is that the characters portrayed in the line below are based on comic characters from that particular era of time. So no, you won't find your Wolverines or your Punishers in this series. Instead, what you will find is;

Captain America

The Incredible Hulk

Spider-Man

Gwen Stacy

In terms of Toy Biz sets, this one isn't too bank breaking. A full set mint on the card can be obtained for about $25.00. That's essentially still around retail prices (if not a little cheaper).

Click "HERE" to go back to the home page. For more posts related to this one, please click the labels below.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Grendel (Graphitti Designs)



98' Premiere Series
Graphitti Designs
1998

Not to be confused with Grendal, one of the three primary antagonists from Beowulf, nor the Dutch music group. For that matter, it shouldn't be mistaken for the 1971 novel by John Gardner. No, this particular Grendal is the writer / assassin / New York City crime boss created by Matt Wagner, and first published by Comico Comics (now published by Dark Horse Comics) in the pages of Comico Primer.

Wagner was given the green light to proceed with a series based on the character under his own banner titled comics in 1983. Unfortunately that deal was cancelled shortly thereafter due to Comico Comics financial difficulties. Since Wagner retained the rights to the character, he took the opportunity to retool the character, and re-launch him in the pages of Grendel: Devil by the Deeds, a serial back-up story to Wagner's series, Mage...(continued below)

Graphitti Designs' initial depiction in plastic of Grendal was based on the first iteration of the character, Hunter Rose. The figure was produced in 1998, and sold mostly in specialty / comic book shops. The figure is actually part of the line known as '98 Premiere Series which also featured Madman and Mage (a post for another time).

Millennium Series
Graphitti Designs
2001

(continued from above)...Then entered Christine Spar, Hunter's posthumous biographer. Spar took up the mantle of Grendel in a story based on revenge. Sadly, it doesn't work out for her in the end.

The Grendal series once again returned to the identity of Hunter Rose, but this was only briefly. From there, the series sprung even further into the future where the persona of Grendal took on many identities.

Unfortunately for the character the rights got tied up for several years due to the Comico Comics bankruptcy. Once all the issues were resolved, Grendal reemerged in the pages of the Dark Horse Comics series, Grendal: War Child. Since then, Wagner has occasionally returned to pen short stories based on Hunter Rose.

These days, Grendal gets published more so on a mirco-series / one shot story basis. His latest outing (as of this post) was the 2014 Grendal Vs. The Shadow.

Graphitti Designs' second depiction in plastic of Grendal was based on the second iteration of the character, Christine Spar. The figure was produced in 2001, and was part of the Millennium Series which also featured Hellboy and Spirit (a post possibly coming in the future).

Click "HERE" to go back to the home page. For more posts related to this one, please click the labels below.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Kiss (McFarlane Toys)



Kiss
McFarlane Toys
1997 - 2004

"STEP UP!!!!" - Kiss, Psycho Circus

We touched on Kiss back in 2013 when we took a look at the classic Mego line. Although, back then we were taking a little hiatus from actually writing, and just letting the pictures do the talking. Since we passed on that opportunity back then, we'll take this one to delve into the band that touted itself as, "The best."

Kiss formed in 1973 with founding members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. Though the band has gone through numerous band members over its 40+ year career, Simmons (The Demon), and Stanley (The Starchild) have remained the only two constants. The classic line up of the band consists of the aforementioned two, with drummer Peter Criss (The Catman) and guitarist Ace Frehley (Space Ace or The Space Man).

Other notable band mates included Eric Carr (The Fox), Vinnie Vincent (The Ankh Warrior / The Wiz), Mark St. John, Bruce Kulick...And Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer who ripped off the personas of The Catman and Space Ace for the current lineup. Sorry, but as Peter Criss said, "No matter who they get to put stuff on their face, it ain't us."

Shortly after the highly anticipated 1995 lie album Psycho Circus (it was heavily promoted as being the first album in over a decade to be recorded by the four original members...it was later found out that Ace and Peter only appeared on a handful of songs), McFarlane Toys acquired the rights to produce action figures based on the original members of the band. This lead to the 1997 lineup of Kiss figures - The first of what would be many.

Each figure came packed in with a massive amount of accessories which included a stand made out of one of the corresponding letters of the band's name. They also came with their classic instrument of choice - Though updated a little in typical McFarlane fashion.

This release was followed by a re-issue of the figures. However this time around the stands were removed / replaced with plastic records and sleeves of the band member's classic solo albums from 1978. With the rapidly growing popularity for the figures yet another wave of the figures was put into production. This time the records were produced in a gold color.

 Gene Simmons*Peter Criss*Ace Frehley*Paul Stanley


The final figure produced in 1997 was the Gene Simmons (The Demon) in "fish tank" display box. It's essentially the same figure from above, just in a much nicer display box for collectors. It's a shame they never gave the remaining band members this treatment.

 Gene Simmons

1998 brought with it a new iteration of Kiss - This time based on their Psycho Circus album. Each carded figure was essentially a two pack which featured one band member, and a generic circus persona; Ace Frehley and The Stiltman, Gene Simmons with The Ring Master, Paul Stanley and The Jester and Peter Criss with The Animal Wrangler.


Back in the days of stores such as Sam Goody, Tower Records, Etc., it wasn't uncommon for exclusive items to be made available. Such is the case with the below white box Psycho Circus pack which was released via Suncoast and Sam Goody stores. Each box contained a full set of carded figures from the set. For collectors, the obvious draw is the additional packing materials as the figures are the same as the standard retail releases.


The bottom of the box is probably the best part (personal opinion of course). We love the signatures that are hidden there just waiting to be found. Of course they're printed on the box, and not actually written in ink.


A second release of the figures removed the additional circus character, and retooled the band members to a slightly different look.


Kiss have been credited with creating the ultimate live album. Alive was so highly touted for its production and sound value that it's used as a standard for what live albums should sound like today. The figures were released in both single carded packs and a one shot box set.


Much like the Pyscho Circus set, Sam Goody and Suncoast got a white box gift pack that featured the same style of box, signatures at the bottom and all.


The last figures produced in 2000 would also be the last individually packed figures produced to date. The Creatures packs would also be the first series to produce a figure for The Fox, removing The Catman from the equation.


Like the Alive set, the Creatures set also had a one and done box set release for those not interested in hunting down each individual band member.


It wouldn't be until 2004 that new Kiss figures would make their way to store shelves - This time as the box set Love Gun. This set once again focused on the four original band members - Or at the very least their personas.


Which brings us to 2005 - The last year to date that McFarlane Toys has produced any figures based on Kiss. Two box sets were produced - The Demon and The Starchild. Each set featured a handful of the same band member in various stages of their career through Kiss. Personally, we would have loved this set a whole lot more if it also contained a non-make-up wearing version (which to date has never been produced).


Kiss is one of those few lines that appeals to a massive amount of individuals. This is because it not only attracts die-hard fans of the band, but also collectors that are just looking for an iconic or overall cool looking item to add to their collections. The box sets seem to be the most sought after items, and as such can garner anywhere from $90.00 to $140.00.

As for the individual figures, they're all over the map in terms of pricing. Full sets of the original 1997 wave have sold for as little as $4.00 mint on the card (yes, a full set). The latter  Psycho Circus waves sell for around $8.00 to $10.00 per figure mint on card. Meanwhile the Creatures set will cost you about $80.00 to get a full set mint in the package.

Click "HERE" to go back to the home page. For more posts related to this one, please click the labels below.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Superman The Movie (Madelman AKA Madel)



Superman The Movie
Madelman (AKA Madel)
1979

Madelman was a toy manufacturer in Spain that produced numerous six inch action figures between 1968 and 1980. Their style was much like those of the classic USA Mego produced toys. However, unlike Mego's Superman figure, Madelman, also known as  Madel, centered their packaging around the newly released Superman The Movie - A classic unto itself that could envelop an entire post just discussing the film itself.

Admittedly our knowledge of toys doesn't extend far beyond the USA shores. However, from what we've been able to find, there appear to be two different packaging versions for the figure. Both feature a backdrop of the Fortress of Solitude, just with very slight painting variations. The figures are also posed slightly different inside the box.

Superman features quite a bit of articulation, bending at the knees, feet and elbows. He also features the standard bend in the legs for sitting down positions, and typical 360 degree arm rotations at the shoulder. Last, his head is on a swivel joint, allowing for 360 degree turning. All and all, it's a fairly good quality figure akin to the time period it was developed in.

Though we get, and love the helicopter, or as it's respectively titled on the package, "Helicoptero", we admittedly are confused by the dune buggy. We'll admit that in terms of Superman we really don't have the most vast knowledge beyond the basics, but even in our circles we've never heard stories of the time that Superman was tooling around the beach in his buggy - Not that it didn't happen. There were a lot of zany stories written in the 60's and 70's.

Back to the helicopter, this is a great piece for recreating the scene from the film where we first see Superman in full action as he swoops up the side of the Daily Planet to catch the falling helicopter hovering over the edge of the building with a dangling Lois Lane clutching on the seat belt for dear life. Granted you won't find a Lois Lane in the series - Or anyone else beyond Superman for that matter.

Here's where things go South for fans looking to add these pieces to their collection. For starters, they're rare - Really rare. The figures can be found easier (not easy, just easier) than the vehicles, but not in abundance. Next up, because they're rare, they're expensive. A mint in the package figure can set you back between $300.00 and $450.00. Loose figures will still set you back between $200.00 to $250.00 - However those are even more scarce than sealed one.

We've yet to see someone selling a buggy on secondary markets, so we have no price point to share in regards to that item. We have seen a few helicopters, both open and sealed, and this is where it gets uglier. The last sale for one of the helicopters was an opened piece with a box that not only was torn up, but looked like it had mold / mildew on it. The vehicle itself was fairly banged up, with the seat belts broken. This item still sold for around $400.00. We can only imagine what a mint in the box one would set you back these days. As we said above, the vehicles are more so scarce than the figure, so don't except to find many of them out there.

Click "HERE" to go back to the home page. For more posts related to this one, please click the labels below.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Batman: Knightfall (DC Direct)



Batman: Knightfall
DC Direct
2006

Three in a row based on the Caped Crusader? We promise to take a break from Batman after this one - Probably not a long one, but a break nonetheless.

Knightfall is hands down one of the greatest Batman stories ever told. Jean Paul Valley's portrayal of Batman as a ruthless vigilante that would go to any means necessary to stop crime (to and include murder) was jaw dropping at times. Then on top of that you also get the heart of the story itself which was Bruce Wayne having his back broken by Bane. The story delivered on so many levels!

Of course to get that whole story, one would need to stick with both monthly Batman titles being published between 1993 and 1994 - Batman and Detective Comics (respectively). The entire story spanned across a trilogy known as Knightfall, Knightquest and KnightsEnd - Or as they are unofficially referred to in their trade paperback collection as, The KnightSaga.

To sum this all up - If you haven't read it, you should.

Somewhat late to the party, but still well received was DC Direct's line of figures based on the trilogy. The biggest shame here is how small the series was. Personally, we would have loved to see a rogue of villains released here. It was the perfect opportunity to incorporate classics such as Penguin, Joker, Riddler and more as they all appeared in the comic series during this particular story.

 Batman - Jean Paul Valley*Nightwing

Bane and Catwoman are the two most highly sought after figures in the series. As such, they can garner between $50.00 and $70.00 each, mint on card. The remaining figures are typically priced between $20.00 and $30.00, but the reality of the matter is that the average going price is around $15.00 for them.

Mask of Tengu Batman*Catwoman*Bane

The entire KnightSaga has not only been collected in trade paperback versions numerous times over, but it's also available in novel format - Written by Dennis O'Neil. For those not into reading, fear not. You can also enjoy the story in audiobook format.

To sum this all up (again) - If you haven't read it, you should...Or at the very least listen to it.

Click "HERE" to go back to the home page. For more posts related to this one, please click the labels below.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Batman Incorporated (DC Direct)



Batman Incorporated
DC Direct
2010

Batman Incorporated was a group created by Grant Morrison which over time spawned into the title of the same name for the volume one (and two) wave of New 52 comics in 2011. The series focuses on Wayne announcing to the world that he has been funding the Batman program for years, and now looks to expand it globally.

However, for the figures themselves, we need to rewind back to 2010. In the pages of Batman and Robin, Dick Grayson has taken over the mantle of Batman, and Damian Wayne joins his side as Robin. It would be in issue number 16 that the Batman Incorporated team would first be mentioned, and it would be from this that the figures would come to be.

 Batman*Robin

These figures are highly sought after by Batman collectors, and as such you're not going to find them cheap. Robin alone can sell for upwards of $90.00 to $100.00 mint on the card. The regular Batman figure sells for upwards of $45.00. As for the remaining two, they're a little easier on the wallet coming in at around $15.00 to $20.00.

 Batman: Knight*Batman: Man of Bats

Batman Incorporated (Volume 1)
DC Comics
2011

As mentioned above, Batman Incorporated was a series developed for DC Comics New 52 reboot of their universe. The first volume of the title ran for eight issues from January to October 2011, and the second ran for fourteen issues (#0 - 13) between November 2012 and September 2013.

In general, the New 52 comics remind us of the oversaturation of the market that the comics industry experienced in the 90's via Image Comics. Multicovers, multicovers, multicovers. 

Each issue of Batman Incorporated had a minimum of two covers, while other issues had upwards of five. It was quite honestly ridiculous. Collecting a full set of the series is not a task for the faintest of hearts. With issues ranging from $2.99 and up right off the rack, it was a costly venture for comic book completists.




Batman Incorporated (Volume 2)
DC Comics
2012 - 2013


 

Oddly enough, or rather, sadly enough, the initial off the rack buy in price didn't hold its value. The series can be found relatively cheap these days as the books qualify as dime or quarter box fodder for a lot of second hand dealers. The only issues that seem to have gained in value are the sketch covers, but even then they don't tend to go over $15.00 per book.


However, don't let the monetary value of the books deter you from at least reading the series. Multiple covers and over saturation aside, there is a great story arc to be found in the books. We don't want to spoil the series for you, but rest assured, a Batman fan (casual or hardcore) would most likely find value in this series - Just not monetary value.





Click "HERE" to go back to the home page. For more posts related to this one, please click the labels below.

Disclaimer

All logos, products, names, and descriptions are the property of their respective copyright and trademark holders. No infringement is implied. Photographs and articles (unless otherwise noted) are copyright of The Toy Box, and may not be used without prior written consent. This website and its pages herein are designed for educational purposes only. No items shown are for sale.



Market prices fluctuate daily, and the prices as listed herein are not intended to be a set point, but rather a benchmark of where prices were noted at during the time period in which the article in question was written/posted. The value of any item shown here is always subject to change based on supply and demand, as well as seller/buyer preference. We are not affiliated with any buyers/sellers, and have no influence on prices set by secondary market dealers or individual sellers.