Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Monsters + Mutants (Playmates Toys)



Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Monsters + Mutants
Playmates Toys
2017

These days things seem to have shifted drastically for the Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line. What was once an abundance of merchandise hitting store shelves on regular intervals has turned into a re-occurrence of peg warmers, scarce new figures, or worse, empty shelves all together. With the announcement the animated series would be coming to an end in 2017, this is honestly not shocking to see happening at all. It seems the line may have run its course, and these days Playmates Toys is more so keen on offloading old stock (or repainting it) as opposed to packing enough supply of new figures to meet demand.

A perfect example of this is Muckman. For over a year he was one of the most highly anticipated figures in the line. Upon his release, many collectors didn't even know he was out until it was too late. As one of only three new figures packed in with wave 19, and at only one per case, he was gone before most people even knew to look for him. The end result is the only figure in the new TMNT series to garner a stable secondary value of over one hundred dollars.


With scarce product to be found, I was actually quite surprised to see Walmart (of all places) had stocked the all new Monsters + Mutants series. Granted there was only one set to be found in the entire store, and this too was among a bunch of peg warmers.

Most of these are definitely among some of my personal favorites from the series as a whole. They're unique, colorful, and most importantly, they're fun. They have unique accessories (though admittedly I have no clue why a vampire Raphael would come with a stake), and the look and feel takes you back to those classic monster movie pics from the black and white era of film. What's not to love here?



 
Okay, fine...The actual monster hunters aren't all that inspiring. Leonardo and Raphael in trench coats? Yawn. On any given day these could easily be passed off as the classic cartoon turtles in disguise. Simply add a mock human face mask.

Furthermore, why another (half) set of the turtles? Couldn't these two have been better served as other characters? Perhaps Casey Jones or April O'Neil? This would have at least fleshed the (sub)line out a little more.

Sigh...Fanboys...We're never happy.



Though they're difficult to find in stores right now, eBay shows they are a little more readily available than the aforementioned Muckman. Perhaps as the holiday season ramps up we'll not only see more of these on store shelves, but perhaps, or should I say hopefully, more Muckman's for everyone to get their hands on.

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Monday, October 30, 2017

World's Greatest Super Heroes: The Mad Monster Series (Mego / Krege / Lion Rock)



World's Greatest Super Heroes: The Mad Monster Series
Mego / Krege / Lion Rock
1973 - 1980

Happy Halloween (one day early), everyone!

This post has taken us years to compile. It's been so long in the making that we were beginning to think it would never come to light. Mego's World's Greatest Super Heroes: The Mad Monster Series is so incredibly difficult to track down. Boxed and blister carded versions of the figures are so rare, and yet there are so many different variations. You would think at some point it would be easy to get your hands on at least one of the versions. Apparently not so much.

What is it with monster related series that make them so hard to track down? Looking at you, Remco Universal Studios Monsters.

The Mad Monster Series began in 1973 with the release of what has become known as "Solid Box". The four characters released were; The Dreadful Dracula, The Monster Frankenstein, The Horrible Mummy and The Human Werewolf. These would be the only four figures produced, and they would be re-released in multiple packaging styles up until 1980.

The Dreadful Dracula
Mego Solid Box*Mego / Krege Blister Card

During its first run, Mego made a change to the production of both Frankenstein and Dracula. Frankenstein was retooled with blue hair, and Dracula received bright red hair. Though it is unknown for certain why this change was made, many collectors speculate it was due to the original sculpts to closely resembling the characters from Universal Studios. Fearing some form of repercussions the changes were made, and the production continued until resculpted versions were completed. Again, this is all just speculation among the collecting community.

 The Dreadful Dracula
Mego Window Box*Mego / Toys R' Us Exclusive Lion Rock Blister Card

Mego produced the figures at some point between 1974 and 1975 for the first blister carded versions - AKA Krege cards. SS Krege was one of the largest retail organizations which later formed into a little known company that you may have heard of - Kmart Corporation which then evolved into Sears Holding Corporation.

Though many sources profess that the Krege carded versions are one of the more difficult versions to find, we can assure, they are all difficult to find.

The Monster Frankenstein
Mego Solid Box*Mego / Krege Blister Card

Mego briefly re-released the Mad Monsters in window boxes, and like the aforementioned Krege cards, many collectors profess that these are difficult versions to obtain. We regress back to our prior statement on the matter - They're all difficult to find.

The Monster Frankenstein
Mego Window Box*Mego / Toys R' Us Exclusive Lion Rock Blister Card



 The Horrible Mummy
Mego Solid Box*Mego / Krege Blister Card

In 1980, Lion Rock released a second version of the blister cards as Toys R' Us exclusives. Though the figures weren't all that popular during their initial release, they have since become highly sought after by collectors who claim...Yes, you guessed it...These are incredibly hard to find.

We're not making this up. According to Mego Museum, the profess that each one of these sets are difficult to find / complete. Why don't they just say that every single one of them is an almost futile attempt?

 The Horrible Mummy
Mego Window Box*Mego / Toys R' Us Exclusive Lion Rock Blister Card

The Human Werewolf
Mego Solid Box*Mego / Krege Blister Card

If The Mad Monster Series is the challenge you've been looking for, be ready to drop a lot of cash. You're going to spend about $200.00 a piece for the solid box versions, and anywhere from $600.00 to $1,000.00 for each other version. Let's do some quick math here...That's about $8,000.00 on the low end, and about $12,800.00 on the high end.

The Human Werewolf
Mego Window Box*Mego / Toys R' Us Exclusive Lion Rock Blister Card

Now, mind you, that price noted above is just for the figures. If you really want to complete the set, you're going to have to also track down the incredibly rare Mad Monster Castle. That's going to cost you another $600.00 to $700.00.

Mad Monster Castle

For those looking to scratch that nostalgic itch at a fraction of the cost, you may want to consider the 2012 Classic TV Toys versions. These reproduced figures (and the playset) are far more common, and will only set you back around $25.00 to $35.00 for each of them, and about $70.00 for the playset. Yes, we know, it's not the same thing, but it may be your only option if you don't want to take a second mortgage out on your home.

Mego's Mad Monster Series is definitely an amazing set of figures from a time of classic toys. It's just not very obtainable by the majority of people interested in it.

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Monday, October 23, 2017

Gomez (Mezco)



Gomez
Mezco
(2008)

Any of you recognize Gomez? There's a hint right in the photo.

Give up, or guessed it?

Gomez was (or may very well still be) the official mascot for Mezco around 2008. This particular action figure was released only at San Diego Comic Con in 2008, and was limited to just 500 pieces. If that wasn't limited enough for you, out of those 500 pieces, the figure also came in four different variations. Gomez could be found with either a black or tan head, and either a turtleneck / leather coat or black suit and tie.

Mezco came up with a fairly unique (and somewhat corny) concept for the figure which is detailed on the back of the package. We'll help spare your eyes squinting at the small text. It reads;

"The mysterious syndicate known only as The Void operates within a level of secrecy so obscure the world at large is unaware of its existence.

The Voids operations sway the balance of the world as we know it. The Voids vast range of intelligence is felt from the fall of governments to why socks are missing from the laundry.

The Void utilizes the skills of a sole agent, Gomez.

His instructions are received by a combination of subliminal messages broadcast on his boombox combined with black martinis known as the "Cocktail Exchange". The Cocktail Exchange is only receivable by the antennas of Gomez.

Gomez, doer of missions, mover of information and eliminator of obstacles.
"

The figure itself features multiple points of articulation from the antenna at the top all the way down to its feet. Mezco certainly didn't skimp when it came to this aspect. Pretty much every piece of his body moves in some form or fashion. The overall quality is certainly there.

As for the sculpt, it's rather unique and fun. Fans of roaches / bugs and James Bond will definitely see the appeal here.

Of course any good figure has good accessories, and Gomez has quite a few. The best aspect (for us) is the 1950's style alien blaster, which is made all the more a top choice by its weathered paint job. The figure also comes with a boombox (also weathered in the same vain as the blaster) and sword. The last, and really fun accessory is his martini glass filled with Cocktail Exchange. All the accessories fit nicely in the figure's hands, and as an added bonus, Mezco even threw in two additional sculpts for hands so that you can change them out.

The clothing is so far above standards that other companies producing nine inch figures should take notice. From the pleather jacket to the tailored suit, sweater and pant, everything works and looks great. The details are so fine that even the belt has a working metal buckle. The only complaint we have is that the shoes themselves are sculpted to the body. If you're going to go to such detail to get the clothing just right, down to a working metal buckle, then sculpt a pair of shoes too.

As for the packaging, we love it. Not only does it stand out from your typical white box that SDCC exclusives normally come in, but it's completely collector friendly. It opens at the top, and the figure / accessories all slide out neatly in place on their plastic tray. This not only makes for salvageable packing, but fantastic presentation.

When it was released, the figure was priced at $40.00 each. Sadly, unlike most SDCC exclusives which explode in price, Gomez didn't fair so well on secondary markets. These days you can find any of the four variations priced between $20.00 and $50.00 each. However, even at these prices the figures remains unsold.

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Monday, October 16, 2017

Animax (Schaper)



Animax
Schaper
1986

We can't take credit for the majority of this post. That credit belongs to Mel Brinkrant who we have talked about in the past. We've borrowed the photos from Mr. Brinkrant's site, and cleaned them up for presentation here. Truth be told, he tells a much better story on the line than we probably can, and his site deserves a visit for that. In the interim, we'll give it a go here.

The line featured two sides - The RoadTrainers (good guys), and the Motor Mutants (bad guys). The premise behind each of the RoadTrainers figures was that they each had an animal mask that when worn would telepathically link them to their animal / vehicle - Yes, half car, half animal. Or, as the back of the package puts it;

"Part living animal / part vehicle created by mankind. They are the sole surviving animal species."

Hmm...That's actually quite sick and twisted now that we type it out. Anyway...

Unlike the RoadTrainers who love their animals, the Motor Mutants control their beasts through brute force.

Each of the six figures were carded individually, and featured very bland paint colors, and overall a very "cheap" sculpt. No details or paint applications were present in the faces of the RoadTrainers - Which all look the same, save for a different color hair.


Back of Carded Figure

For the very few people who were interested in the series, the animal / figure two pack seemed the more viable option. Not only did it contain the same figures as noted above on the cards, but also their respective vehicles. Kind of a no brainer to go this route instead, huh?

Much like the carded figures, there were six individual packages available. However, with that said, there were initially eight combo packs planned. When the series limped onto toy shelves, X-Tinctor / Obliterator and Max Action / Jungle Max were cancelled.




For the fans of the series, Marvel / Star Comics also produced a very short lived comic book series. These books, when found, typically are in dime or quarter boxes - So they're relatively easy to come by. They're also far more common than the actual toys.

As for the toys, as noted above, they're rather scarce on secondary markets. Additionally, they're priced way too high with each carded figure listed at $100.00+, and the vehicle / figure combos priced even higher. As a result, this line is often times passed on by most collectors.

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Monday, October 9, 2017

Red Faction: Armageddon (Gamestars Collectibles)



Red Faction Armageddon
Gamestars Collectibles
2012

We haven't covered many Gamestars Collectibles (GC) toys around here at The Toy Box. However, in our defense, there aren't many of them. The company seems to have come and gone in the blink of an eye in 2012, and has only produced three lines of figures based on the video games; Crysis 2, Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, and the one we're about to go into here - Red Faction Armageddon. Since then, nothing has been heard of from GC, nor can much information be found on the internet.

Red Faction began as a video game series in 2001 with the title of the same name. It was followed up in 2002 with the lackluster Red Faction II, and the series reinvigorating title, Red Faction: Guerrilla in 2009. With such high anticipation, it was disappointing to see Red Faction: Armageddon (2011) fall into the same criticism of RFII. Critics claimed the game was behind the times in graphics, and failed to offer a cohesive story that drew gamers in. Granted, the game did offer a large geographic location to explore (and destroy), all while challenging players with increasingly difficult enemies. Sadly, it wasn't enough though.

Fast forward to 2012.

In an attempt to enter the market of action figures, Gamestars Collecitbles releases six figures based on the game. Each one is highly detailed in sculpt, articulation and paint. However, much like the game itself, this wasn't enough to draw collectors in. Coupled with the figures being limited in availability - Typically only at local game stores (if they bothered to order any), and a very niche audience concept, you can see the vast uphill climb that GC created for themselves.


 Winters

Out of the six figures, the Ravager and Creeper ones seem to be the more sought after. Secondary markets see the pair selling for around $25.00 (for a set of them), and mind you that's in loose condition. The remaining figures don't fair so well, and often times remain unsold.

 Ravager

 Creeper

Despite limited lines of figures, Gamestars Collectibles was always on par with their packaging. With artwork straight from the developers of the game, it was easy to denote (for fans of the series) that these were Red Faction figures just from the top banner.

 Darius Mason

 Hale

Marauder's Officer

As noted above, the majority of the figures don't fare well on secondary markets. Average sales are around $7.50, mint on card, sometimes reaching $10.00, but not often. Even with prices this low, most of the times the figures go unsold.

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Monday, October 2, 2017

Boy George (LJN)



Boy George
LJN
1984

Culture Club blasted onto the synth pop scene in 1982 with their debut album Kissing to Be Clever. The record (or cassette) featured two notable hits; Do You Really Want To Hurt Me, and I'll Tumble 4 Ya which put the band on track for success and fame. Later pressings of the album would also include a third hit, Time (Clock of the Heart).

What came next was a rocket straight into the stratosphere for the band - 1983's Colour By Numbers. It's leading track, Karma Chameleon became the band's most popular song, and made Boy George a household name among teens across the globe. Other tracks followed Karma straight up the charts; It's A Miracle, Church of the Poison Mind and Miss Me Blind. Since its release, the album has sold sixteen million copies.

Unfortunately lightning typically doesn't strike twice, and the highly anticipated third album from the band, Waking Up with the House on Fire (1984) didn't reach the level of success expected. It's real only hit was The War Song. That's not to say it was a bad album. It just didn't seem to have many more radio worthy tracks to help push it up the charts.

Things only got worse from there. George became increasingly dependent on drugs, with heroin being one of his most often abused / used. This lead to delayed recordings of the band's fourth album, From Luxury to Heartache in 1986. Though it too had a couple hits, the album did the worst out of all the band's releases to this point.

The band broke up shortly afterwards, and George proceeded with a solo career which found him mild success as compared to his early days of Culture Club. The band would later reunite for the 1999 album Don't Mind If I Do, but the record was unfortunately a commercial failure.

Let's rewind a bit here back to 1984. Despite the lackluster reception of their third album, Boy George was still a hot commodity in the world of 80's pop. As such, LJN jumped at the opportunity to produce a doll based on him.

Colour By Numbers was hot, hot, hot, and so was the iconic outfit that the singer wore to promote the album. This is what LJN based the look of the doll on. If you think you've seen the microphone accessory from the doll before, you probably have. It's the same (though painted a different color) use in the LJN Michael Jackson line produced and released that same year.

Much like the Jackson doll, the George doll is fairly spot on in terms of likeness. Especially considering that this comes from the 80's where exact likeness sculpting wasn't necessarily a common practice.

LJN followed up the twelve inch doll with a more cuddly, and may we also say, frightening version of Boy George. Just saying - We would not cuddle with this thing.

Boy George; The Huggable Cute Cuddly Doll! (Brown Hair Version)

This particular version was released with both brown and red hair - The latter being the more rarer of the two these days.

Both boxes were decked out in yellow, and showcased a nice close up photo of Boy George on the back, as well as four smaller ones somewhat in each of the corners of the larger one. The front of the box isn't shy of photos either, but they are the same ones as displayed on the back.

The use of bright neon borders screams 80's club scene, and only helps to scream out to you from toy shelves in conjunction with the massive amounts of yellow that make up the majority of the package. This is definitely a toy of the 80's.

Though we're honestly not big fans of the "cuddly" Boy George dolls, the twelve inch version definitely belongs in the collection of any 80's music fan. With how great LJN's line of music related dolls were, we would have loved to have seen tons more from the era. Just think of how awesome it would have been to have a lineup of other dolls like; Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Duran Duran - Heck, even Weird Al!

To get the twelve inch Boy George these days you're going to spend anywhere from $50.00 to $100.00 for it - Depending on condition (with the box). The cuddly George will set you back even more - About $120.00 for the brown hair version, and $150.00 for the red hair one.

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