Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Retro Spins: Rockwell - Somebody's Watching Me



Rockwell
Somebody's Watching Me
1984

Rockwell's Somebody's Watching Me is 80's pop at its most mediocre. It's as if Gordy Records (a division of Motown) knew the album was garbage and that the only selling point to it was Michael Jackson's vocals on the chorus of the title track. So much to the point that the album cuts right to the chase and starts with the song. Nothing else after the track comes close to topping the pure enjoyment to the ears that Somebody's Watching Me (the song) delivers.

Bad songs aside, at the end of the day the biggest slap in the face is the price tag that comes with the album. Original pressings can set you back $55.00 or more! That's pretty bad for an album that most people are buying for one song.

Obviously Rockwell saw massive success with Somebody's Watching Me as a single. The song debuted on the charts in January of 1984 because of Michael Jackson and from there shot to number two where it stayed for three consecutive weeks in April...Again....Because of Michael Jackson.

The twenty-six second mark through the thirty-nine second mark of the video below really sums this up...


I just can't with this album anymore. Bottom line, if you want to spend a ton of money for one track, Rockwell's Somebody's Watching Me is certainly the place to do that. Okay, that's not exactly fair...There's a Japanese pressing which has recently hit the market that is roughly $15.00. So, you can get it for cheaper if you really wanted to. Still...Fifteen bucks for one song? That's steep for some.

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Monday, February 25, 2019

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Vital Toys)



The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Vital Toys
2001

There are many fans of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. In fact, an argument could be posed that these particular fans actually put the "fan" in fanatic. Unlike many pop culture classics, it seems Rocky Horror fans go above and beyond the call of duty to band together. They crowd movie theaters at night, and then do anything and everything they can to participate in the movie - Be it dressing up as their favorite characters and / or dancing and singing along in movie theater isles. Their bond with each other is truly like no other we've seen before.

We doubt anyone in Hollywood could have predicted the impact such an odd musical would have on the world. We doubt even more that people would have expected fans to want every bit of merchandise they could get their hands on. This is most likely why the film has seen just about every form of merchandising known to man produced; mugs, shirts, posters, bags, make-up, stickers...The list goes on and on. Of course, being The Toy Box, we're here to talk about none of the above, but rather toys. Yep, Rocky Horror has even had a fair amount of those.

So here's a debate we put forward to our readers - Is it fair to call something an "action" figure if it actually has zero articulation? Or should this more fairly be labeled a statue? We raise this question because Vital Toys 2001 line of figures for The Rocky Horror Picture show fit this criteria - They're labeled as action figures, yet have zero articulation.

 Dr. Frank N' Furter*Columbia*Riff Raff

Unfortunately the line only survived for three figures before being cancelled. This could be attributed to Vital Toys really not making that large of an impact on store shelves. Between the companies limited life from 2001 - 2004, their merchandise was really only made available via specialty shops such as Tower Records / Video or Sam Goodie. This of course meant they also came with rather large retail prices.

Limited Edition 3 Pack

The line literally came and went overnight, and to this very day remains rather obscure with a lot of collectors not even knowing it exists. This could contribute majorly to them being readily available on secondary markets for relatively low prices, but still not selling.

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Sunday, February 24, 2019

Order Of Battle: Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure



This will be an ongoing post of my vintage Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure toys, as I obtain them.

Bill S. Preston, Esquire
Obtained: August 21, 2018

Ted Theodore Logan
Obtained: August 21, 2018

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Saturday, February 23, 2019

Order Of Battle: Star Wars Blasters / Laser Pistols



This will be an ongoing post of my vintage Star Wars Blasters / Laser Pistol toys, as I obtain them.

Han Solo's DL-45 (Star Wars) with Custom Stand
Obtained: December 30, 2017

Han Solo's DL-45 (The Empire Strikes Back) with Custom Stand
Obtained: October 27, 2018

 
Han Solo's DL-45 (Return Of The Jedi)
Obtained: February 23, 2019

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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The Dirty Dozen - My Top Twelve Comic Books I Used To Own





It's actually been a while since I posted my first Dirty Dozen list. It took a bit of a back burner to the format changes around here, as well as my taking photos of my personal collection to post. However, as I found myself gearing up for bed for the evening earlier this week, I started having various comic books pop into my head which I used to own. As the list expanded, I decided to start writing them down. Before I knew it, there were about nine books. A Dirty Dozen post immediately came to mind, and with very little effort, I was able to flesh out the list to twelve. So, here they are. My top twelve comics I used to own.

The Spectacular Spider-Man Number 158

I was big into Spider-Man when I first started collecting comics. I loved the many trips my dad took me on to the local comic shop in Oregon, and the few conventions we went to when we moved to Virginia. My dad was always open to throwing me a few bucks towards getting comics, and in doing so, I happily raided the dollar bins where I ended up with a ton of Marvel Team-Up Featuring Spider-Man and "X".

It was in these bins where I also stumbled across The Spectacular Spider-Man number 158, a book which features the debut of Spidey gaining his cosmic powers. While I was too young to understand it at the time, I would later find out that during this particular era in Marvel history, Spider-Man was actually considered the most powerful character in the Marvel Universe when he had his cosmic powers. Neat!

For such an iconic event, it's interesting to see this book hasn't matured in price beyond the couple bucks I paid for it back int he 80's.

The Incredible Hulk Number 181

The first appearance of Wolverine? Who cares?

I certainly didn't back in the early 90's when I pulled this original print book from a cardboard box full of comic books my dad had gotten for me from a co-worker. She was cleaning out her house, and stumbled across the box of about one hundred books which belonged to her son. After asking him if he wanted them, which he did not, she sold it to my dad for $50.00.

The book ended up being traded to a "friend" of mine for a massive amount of his collection. Hind site definitely tells me, "That was foolish." However, being a teenager, I was all about quantity, and not quality. A lesson I learned the hard way with this book. But, I suppose since I don't own any of the books on this list today, none of this really matters at this point.

The Amazing Spider-Man Number 200

As I said above, my dad and I would occasionally trek out to a comic convention together, and during these rare trips, my dad would fund me getting a few books.

It was actually my dad who pulled this from a vendor's bin and suggest it be purchased. The dealer had somehow convinced him that "hundred" books were always milestone issues, and this one would be sure to go up in value. I certainly wasn't about to turn away any comic book my dad was offering to buy, and from there, a sale was made.

Sorry to say, dad, the book you paid $15.00 back in the early 90's has not yielded a return. In fact, you can actually find it for cheaper. Still, the book has it's charm story wise. It's about Spider-Man finding and confronting the killer of Uncle Ben. Whether or not this story has been retconed or undone in later Marvel history, I don't know. However, at the time, it was pretty awesome.

Secret Wars Number 8

By the time I put my hands on Secret Wars number 8 at a local convention, I had groomed myself to be looking for specific books which 1) featured major Marvel events, and 2) featured my favorite characters. This particular issued fit that bill perfectly. For just $8.00, I got the first appearance of Spider-Man in his black suit.

I remember being so disappointed when I actually read the book. Spider-Man's new costume was reserved to the final pages, and being part eight of a series, I had no clue what was even going on. I also had no intentions to buy any of the prior or after books, so to this day, I still don't know what the story was about.

Unlike Spectacular Spider-Man number 158, this book has jumped in price to that of ten times what I paid for it.

The Amazing Spider-Man Number 252

During this same convention, I made it my goal to also grab the first appearance of Spider-Man in his black suit in the ongoing title, The Amazing Spider-Man. I want to say I paid between $25.00 and $50.00 for it.

Sadly, I never did bother reading this book. Instead, it became one of many of my "trophy" books in my collection - Which isn't really saying much considering all of my books were bagged, boarded and alphabetized in numerous long boxes.

Still, I loved the look of Peter Parker in this suit, and it quickly became the version I also preferred to draw. Plus, how can you not love the concept which evolved into one of Spidey's all time fan favorite villains, Venom?


The Amazing Spider-Man Number 129

During the mid 90's, I found myself switching from Spider-Man to The Punisher. I don't know why. Something about the character deeply interested me, yet at the same time I found his stories to be incredibly boring. Mind you, this was after I invested the time, energy and money into collecting his entire mini-series, regular volume series, all of The Punisher War Journal and Punisher War Zone. I even had a series of one shots, the Micro series (character), and a bunch of appearances he made in other books. Do you know how long that takes for a teenager working for minimum wage at a grocery store? Years!

One day, I got it in my head that I needed his first appearance to complete my collection. Fortunately,  My local comic shop had one hanging on its wall - Probably where the seed was first planted. I grabbed it for about $150.00. The book has since gone on to cost anywhere from three to four times that.

Spider-Man Number 1

You want to talk about a comic that set my young mind on fire? Let's talk Spider-Man number one from Todd McFarlane.

As a kid, it was an exciting opportunity to be able to get into a new Spider-Man series from the ground up. It was equally exciting to get the fantastic artwork of Todd McFarlane, an artist I quickly began mimicking the style of in my own drawings. Add on top of that a fantastic story, which I continued to read until around issue twenty-seven.

This series also introduced me to the world of reprints and variant covers, which I feverishly went on the hunt for. Bagged, standard, gold cover, silver covers, I wanted them all, but none more so than the coveted Platinum Edition. This particular version was distributed out sparsely to comic shops, and the price they wanted for it immediately echoed that rarity. The local shop in Oregon had one for $500.00. According to the inflation calculator, this price equates to about $969.92 in 2018 (can't calculate 2019 just yet). I can appreciate and understand why I never got a copy of this book with that calculation in mind.

These days, most of the copies which crop up are graded, and oddly go for around $300.00 to $400.00. Why the price drop? Especially considering it's still a pretty rare book. I honestly don't know.

The Punisher Limited Series Number 1

It's the comic which started my obsessive drive towards obtaining every Punisher book in existence back in the mid 1990's, completely diverting my attention from Spider-Man.

I spoke pretty much in depth about this above, so I really don't have much more to add to this - Suffice that I really loved the artwork on the covers of the limited series. In fact, in comparison, the regular volume edition's number one really pales in comparison.

Spawn Number 1

If you were big into comics in the 90's, then chances are, you were big into Image Comics. It was a big deal back in the day for so many artists to break off from mainstream comics and create their own publishing company. It was also what lead to the inevitable downfall of the comic industry, sending prices of modern books crashing to the ground in a hailstorm of high dollar books which today can't even be given away.

For me, Spawn was always my favorite Image book. In fact, looking back, there were actually only two which I enjoyed.

What made this particular book all the more important to me was the day I went to Philadelphia Comic Con. There, my friends and I had tickets to get an autograph from Todd McFarlane himself. However, there was a catch. Because of the high demand for his signature, people were limited to one autograph per person.

As our numbers were called, I stepped up to the queue. Nervously, I pulled two books from my bag. Spawn number one and Spider-Man number one. When it was my turn, I put them both down in front of him and asked, "Would you please sign the one which is your favorite?" He signed Spawn.

The Maxx Number 1

As I said above, there were two Image titles I liked. That second one just so happens to be, The Maxx by Sam Kieth. His story was weird and different, like nothing I had ever read before. It didn't hurt that he also had an animated series on MTV which I enjoyed immensely.

I never made it through the entire series, as I got out of comics long before the title ended. However, I can honestly say I would be interested in tracking down a complete graphic novel of this so I can finally see how it all ends.

Batman Number 2

Yes, THE Batman number 2. An original print from July of 1940 which I actually owned. This comic came from the box I mentioned above, which also contained the first appearance of Wolverine.

Like that book, I was too stupid at the time to understand what I was holding in my hands. It was taken to the local comic shop and traded for store credit - $500.00 to be exact. Granted, it wasn't in the best of shape, but still, Batman. Number. 2. This is not a book one sees every day, or one most will even see in their lifetime. Let alone owns one. Kids are so stupid...

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Number 1

I loved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as a teenager / young adult. I not only owned the entire series, but I also read every single issue, and quickly amassed a portfolio of drawing based on the characters. For me, my goal in life was set - I wanted to draw comics for Mirage...Then the studio closed its doors, and that dream was quickly swept under a rug.

To clarify, I never actually owned a first print of this book (just second through fifth). I did have an opportunity to buy one from a local comic kiosk at the mall for a mere $175.00. However, being a young adult, I didn't have that kind of cash to throw around immediately. This kind of purchase would take time. Sadly, when that opportunity resurfaced, the book was long since sold. It remained the only book in the entire series which I never had a first print of.

As people do, when I got out of comics, I ended up offloading everything. I gave my entire series of Turtles to a buddy of mine, who has probably long since sold them off.

Retrospect

In retrospect, I don't honestly go around kicking myself for the toys, comics or in general, things I used to have but got rid of. What would be the point in that? Truth be told, even if by some chance I had my first appearance of Wolverine, Batman number 2, first appearance of Punisher, and any of the other books noted above, they'd just be sitting in a box anyway. It's more comforting to know that they may be in the hands of someone who actually has them displayed, and is enjoying them daily - Like I do with my figures. Kudos to the people who have my old comic books, wherever you are. I hope you enjoy them.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Retro Spins: Rod Stewart - Camouflage



Rod Stewart
Camouflage
1984

Rolling Stones and other publicized music critics were not kind to Rod Stewart's 1984 album, Camouflage. Well...To each their own.

I'd never heard a full Rod Stewart album until picking this one up and I was quite happy with what I got. Track after track delivered for me. In fact, the only song I really didn't like all that much were the title track of the album itself. It was okay, but it just didn't have the punch behind it the other tracks were throwing. Even the final track, Trouble, which turned out to be a ballad wasn't terrible.

Infatuation was the first hit from the album. It charted in May 1984 at number forty-seven and from there went all the way to the number six spot where it sat for two consecutive weeks. Let's be honest - To make it to number six at this particular time of music history was quite a feat. I mean, look at what the top five songs were; When Doves Cry (1), Ghostbusters (2), Dancing in the Dark (3), State of Shock (4) and Eyes Without A Face (5). That's a solid start to the perfect greatest hits of the 80's album right there.

Some Guys Have All the Luck was the second charter from the album and debuted at number fifty-seven in August 1984. It only managed to make it to the number ten spot by October of that same year - And yes, it was still contending with Prince (as well as Madonna at this point).

Stewart's cover of Free's "All Right Now" was the last track from the album to chart. It debuted at number eighty-eight in December of '84, but disappeared the following week.

I'm seriously not going to hate on this album. I was thrilled with it. It was entertaining from start to finish and I nabbed seven new songs for my 80's iTunes mix as well as my iPod shuffle. You may as well call the album perfect at that point. I get it though. Music is subjective. Listen to it for yourself and see what you think.

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Monday, February 18, 2019

Mr. Clean (Noveltoy)



Mr. Clean
Noveltoy
2000

I had a chance to nab one of these limited edition Mr. Clean dolls up at my March 2017 visit to the Dave Hart Toy Show. I passed it up even though it was only $15.00 and kind of regret doing so. While I'm by no means a fan of Mr. Clean or cleaning in general, there was something to this doll which was unique and called, "Please bring me home." A call I ignored.

Limited to just 100,000 if you are a fan of having a plastic mascot of your own powerful and dependable cleaning product which makes tough jobs easier, then perhaps you too should seek out your own Mr. Clean from Noveltoy.

The doll has very minimal articulation, limited to only the neck and arms turning in 360 degree motions. It's by no means meant to target the audience of major collectors and I dare say these more so sold as gag gifts to people.

There is of course that allure to the impulsive buyer of, "Wait, it's a limited edition!" Yes, that is true. However, so are all of those plates and coins you bought out of the local newspaper back in the mid 80's. How many of those are turning a profit for you?


Still, it's fun, charming and in a way its own conversation piece. I suppose in hindsight I wish I would have been one of those impulsive buyers and gone ahead and nabbed the guy. If for nothing else, it would have made a great gag gift to pass on to someone else.

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Sunday, February 17, 2019

Batman (1989)








I "created" this today utilizing the fantastic character art of Jerry Ordway and a wonderful Gotham City / Batmobile drawing from an unknown artist (I couldn't read his signature).

I extended the background art by way of mirroring it, and then removed the second Batmobile. I also flipped the image at the bottom to create the lower portion of the picture, removing the watermark of Chicks Love The Car, where the image came from.

With the character art, I added a little color, and effects to make them pop to the foreground, while turning the background gray so it didn't overtake the picture.

A simple PNG of the Batman 1989 film logo topped it all off.


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Saturday, February 16, 2019

I'd Buy That For A Dollar!



Every now and then, I stop into a place called Hope's Treasures, a thrift shop located in a city down the main Route of where I live. Mind you, I'm not looking for toys, clothing or various bricka brackas which have long since been abandoned by their original owners to collect dust on an equally dusty shelf. Instead, I stop by to peruse their very limited CD collection.

It doesn't get refreshed very often, but when it does, there's often times a gem to be found. If you recall my last visit, I scored some pretty descent stuff, and this time, I think I may have even done a little better.


I'm not a big fan of Will Smith beyond his DJ Jazzy Jeff years, but I don't hate the guy's solo attempts. I just more so prefer the comedic albums to his serious side. Still, I felt Willenium wouldn't be a terrible buy. For nothing else, it had Wild Wild West on it.

Megadeth's Countdown To Extinction has been on my want list for a long time, but always got pushed aside in favor of an album from the 80's. I neither expected, nor was about to leave it behind, when I found it at the thrift shop.

Personally, I'm not a fan of The Judds, but I know a fair amount of songs from them as a result of being subjected to them fairly often on weekends. My mom was notorious for playing some form of country music CD while subjecting us to chores around the house. I picked this one up more so for the personal nostalgia of it and recognized pretty much all the songs.

I've never seen the film Coyote Ugly, but the track listing on the back was pretty solid for me to add this one to the pile. Don Henley's All She Wants To Do Is Dance, EMF's Unbelievable, INXS' Need You Tonight, Snap's The Power and The Charlie Daniels Band's The Devil Went Down To Georgia make for a really impressive soundtrack mix. I suppose the other seven tracks do too, but I don't know who any of those people are or what their songs are...Yet.

At a quarter a piece, these were easy to walk away with. While it won't be any time soon, I'll definitely keep this place in my rotation to pop by every now and then to check out new stock.

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R & R - Records And Rarities



While I was out and about around a month ago, I stumbled across a new store at Tysons Mall in McLean, Virginia. The place, R & R, or Records and Rarities. Filled with arcade machines, video games, vinyls, comic books, vintage toys and modern collectibles, this was a pretty interesting place to stumble across randomly. Especially in the heart of McLean.

Because I was on my way to a lunch with a co-worker I really didn't have the time to peruse the place as deeply as I wanted to. However, I did manage to snap a few photos. In retrospect, I don't think they do the place justice.




With arcade machines lining the windows of the shop, and having seen them first as I came down an escalator, I honestly thought for a moment someone had opened an arcade.




At a glance, I didn't see anything which jumped out at me, in terms of something to buy. Then again, I really didn't have the time to comb the place either.




I love places like this. They're so much fun to walk through and even more so to buy from. Unfortunately, I don't honestly know when I'll get the chance to go back. Traffic in this particular area is no fun. It's always bumper to bumper, there are stoplights every fifty feet,and then there's the actual mall to contend with - parking and people. It's certainly not in a convenient location.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Order Of Battle: Batman And Friends...'N Villains



This will be an ongoing post of my vintage Batman and DC Super Hero toys, as I obtain them.

Batwing (Batman 1989)
Obtained: December 17, 2017 

Batman (Batman 1989)
Obtained: December 25, 2017


 Batmobile with Shield Cocoon (Batman 1989)
Obtained: December 25, 2017

 Joker (Batman 1989)
Obtained: December 25, 2017

 Bob the Goon (Batman 1989)
Obtained: December 25, 2017

 Superman (DC Super Heroes)
Obtained: July 7, 2018
 
  Batcycle (Batman 1989)
Obtained: July 8, 2018 

 Joker Cycle (Batman 1989)
Obtained: July 8, 2018
  
Catwoman (Batman Returns)
Obtained: August 14, 2018

 Penguin (Batman Returns)
Obtained: August 14, 2018

  Penguin Army (Batman Returns)
Obtained: August 14, 2018

  Wonder Woman (DC Super Heroes)
Obtained: August 25, 2018 

 Riddler (DC Super Heroes)
Obtained: October 7, 2018 

 Robin (DC Super Heroes)
Obtained: October 7, 2018
  
Lex Luthor (DC Super Heroes)
Obtained: October 14, 2018

 Mr. Freeze (DC Super Heroes)
Obtained: October 27, 2018 

 Two-Face (DC Super Heroes)
Obtained: October 27, 2018 
 
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