January 2012 Recap

Below is a recap of all the post we've covered in January 2012. 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.

Pirates of Dark Water
Masters of the Universe - Snakemen
The Incredible Hulk 1996 - 2004
Garbage Pail Kids - Cheap Toys

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Garbage Pail Kids - Cheap Toys (Topps)

With the rapidly growing success of Garbage Pail Kids, Topps did something a little out of the ordinary for them. They began producing toys. Mind you, these weren't your average action figure with multiple points of articulation, or overly accessorized playsets. No, instead, Topps produced the Cheap Toys line.

Mini, one color figures sculpted to look like the characters resembled on the cards. Each packaged in their own mini garbage bag, with a checklist, and a small bag of Crummy Candy. All sealed with a simple twist tie. It was cheap, it was easy, and it brought in hand over fist cash from rabid GPK collectors around the world.

There were ten figures made for the series, which came in a variety of colors such as red, green, blue, yellow and peach. However to the true Cheap Toys collector, there are several more variations due to the drastic change in color/tone from dye changes at the factor with each produced batch. As a result, the cheap toys can come in;

Light Red
Neon Red
Light Peach
Dark Peach
Neon Yellow
Neon Green
Lime Green
Light Green
Light Blue
Electric Blue

And mind you, those are just the colors for the USA. Other color variations are known to exist in both the UK and Canada.

The first series of figures depicted characters from the first and second series of cards. A second set of ten figures was produced and sold exclusively in Canada, manufactured by Nova BonBon. This set depicted figures from the third and forth series of cards.

Today, these cheap toys (no pun intended) are worth a mint. One complete set of ten can set you back two to three hundred dollars. Especially if that set is strictly one color. The neon variations have sold for two to three times that - While the exclusive Canadian 2nd series goes for even more. Single mint in bag packs of figures can sell for as much as thirty to fifty dollars each, and complete boxes, while rare, can fetch as much as a grand. Not bad for tiny, two inch plastic molds.

Much like M.U.S.C.L.E. figures, what started out as a cheap way to produce toys has turned into a secondary market dealers dream come true. For as low quality as they are, collector's around the world can't seem to get enough of them, and as a result, supply and demand has made these a collectible relatively unobtainable to those on a strict budget.

Join us next Monday for our look at G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra!

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The Incredible Hulk - 1996-2004 (Toy Biz)

When it comes to characters like The Incredible Hulk, you either love him, or you hate him. At least with the people we have come across that is the case. There just doesn't seem to be a Hulk size amount of love going around for the large green lug. Though the fans whom follow him, follow him loyally, thus TRUE Hulkimania has been swinging strong since his very first appearance in issue number one of The Incredible Hulk in May, 1962.

Since then the character has seen some major overhauls both in physical and mental stature, and been memorialized on film several times over from movies to TV shows.

But, more importantly, since the days of Mego, The Hulk has been getting his fair share of representation in plastic. Today we're going to look at a few of those series which were produced by Toy Biz between 1996 and 2004.

Toy Biz had already found great success in the toy isle with its release of the Marvel Superhero and X-Men line, and was dominating sales continually with more lines based on Marvel's comic greats. It was only natural that The Hulk would get his chance to shine in a series of his own.

The line launched in 1996 with what was respectively known as Series 1. Six figures were produced, though half of them were simply variations of The Hulk himself.

The series did well enough to spawn a sub series entitled Transformations. The set included four figures, which once again dedicated half of them to variations of The Hulk. The Transformation figures were released in 1997.

It's uncertain if the remaining figures released in 1997 were a part of the initial line of toys, or a series unto themselves. The first new line of toys were released under the guise of "Outcasts", and the package was completely redesigned, thus adding to the confusion as to whether or not this was a new line, or a continuation of the prior one.

Five figures were released, with two being variations of The Hulk.

Also in 1997 was the release of the Crash and Smash line. The packaging resembled those of the Outcasts line, and once again five figures were produced (which once again two of which were The Hulk).

The Hulk took a long hiatus shortly after the Crash and Smash figures were released, and didn't return until 2004. With even greater detail, a changed up packaging, and a whopping five variations of The Hulk (out of only eight figures) between the two series produced.

In 1996 ToyFare magazine offered an exclusive She Hulk figure dressed in her (New) Fantastic Four outfit. Though unlike most special offers where one need only send in a handful of proof of purchases, an order form, and a check for postage, ToyFare gouged collectors by demanding a year long subscription to their magazine for the figure. To add insult to injury, if you were already a subscriber to the magazine, you were not eligible to get the figure unless you cancelled your current subscription, and re-subscribed.

One playsets was (re)produced for the line, the Electronic Rage Cage. I don't know what Toy Biz thought was so amazing about this playset, but no matter what line of toys were produced for The Hulk, you could rest assured that a Rage Cage was not far behind. This is the second of four different ones that have been released to date.

Hulk toys have been in abundance these days, especially with the release of the two movies. Though for some reason, they come and go relatively quickly, with the majority of them ending up in the clearance bins. Like we said when we first started this post. You either love him, or you hate him. So we suppose it's best to produce small lines that fans can get their "fix" off of, and quickly move on, releasing new lines periodically to keep them coming back.

Toy Biz has done an excellent job over the years giving the Green Guy his fair share of time in the spotlight.

Join us next Monday for our look at Garbage Pail Kids - Cheap Toys!

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M.U.S.C.L.E. (Mattel)

In 1985 Mattel introduced the United States to Muscle figures, also known as, Millions of Unusual Small Creatures Lurking Everywhere. The little plastic toys soon took over many a parent's living rooms, and cluttered up bedrooms across the nation. The series origins can be traced to the Japanese comic book Kinnikuman which was based on intergalactic space wrestlers. Bandai also produced a line of figures based on the concept, but were sold strictly in Japan.

Mattel produced the American line from 1985 to 1986, at which point the series dwindled out, and production ceased. Unlike most toys, these particular figures were generally sold in random multipacks, which made it incredibly difficult to complete a set, and at the same time avoid getting duplicates.

Above is an example of the various four packs one would see on the shelf at retail stores. The original figures were produced in only a pink color, but as the series progressed, several other colors were introduced. This in turn led to a whole lot of variant figures. Other colors known to exist are dark blue, light blue, red, magenta, orange, bright orange, purple, and green. Five figures were also produced in lavender, but these particular figures are exclusive to the Mega-Match Game (see below).

Shown above are the four 28 packs produced by Mattel (Thug Busters, Cosmic Crunchers, Mighty Maulers, and Cosmic Showdown). While this made getting figures a little easier, it didn't add up to all of them, so you were still left buying a variety pack if you wanted a complete set. As the series continued, these packs too became mix matched with various color variations.

The "garbage can" looking container is the random ten packs which Mattel also produced and sold across retail stores. Unlike the four packs which could be manipulated with a little shaking to see what was inside, it was impossible to tell which figures were in the cans until they were opened. The only thing that could really be told from looking at the package was what variety of colors lay inside.

Only one playset (top right), the Hard Knockin' Rockin' Wrestling Arena was produced for the series. With it came two exclusive figures.

As mentioned above, five exclusive lavender figures were released with the Mega-Match Game (bottom right).

The last item shown (bottom left), the Battlin' Belt was more of a role playing item for kids to wear.

Mattel teamed up with Nestle to promote the series via their Nestle Chocolate Quik drink mix. Each specailly marked canister contained one figure in a clear plastic bag with a white cardboard backer inside. Various figures were available inside the canister, and all were prior released figures.

More elusive is the Nestle Tube (right). Much controversy surrounds this cardboard tube which contained ten random figures inside. Some claim it was given to them at school events, while others say it was a mail away item. No proof has been found to authenticate any of these claims, and only a handful of the tubes are known to exist today.

In the United States, there are 233 known Muscle figures, all of which are depicted on the above mail away poster, and all of which have a name (we're not going to list them all out here). However, as the figures began changing colors, this particular poster was changed, and while the figures remained the same, several color variations exist.

It is rumored that Mattel had planned on releasing all 400 of the Japanese Kinnikuman figures, and the "poster" shown on the back of the 28 packs (not shown)seems to validate this rumor - Though when the series died down, so went any plans to do so.

Back in the 80's, a pack of four Muscle figures would have set you back about a dollar. Today, you're lucky to find one for less than ten. Most sell for between twelve and thirty dollars depending on the color variations inside.

The ten and twenty-eight packs are next to impossible to find, and thus no determination in price can be given by us. Needless-to-say, the twenty-eight packs which sold for seven dollars in the 80's probably go for about ten times that.

The ring, belt and game are a little easier to track down, though most are not complete or mint in package. These particular pieces go anywhere from twenty-five to fifty dollars.

There is no denying that Mattel struck the iron while it was hot, and did it in the cheapest way possible - Little, single color plastic toys, which stood about an inch high, and were of the quality of vending machine toys at the grocery store. Hand over fist profits were raked in when Muscle toys hit the shelves.

Join us next Monday for our look at Toy Biz's The Incredible Hulk - 1996-2004!

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Masters of the Universe - Snakemen (Mattel)

The year was 2003. Eighties nostalgia collecting had rocketed onto the scene, and toy companies such as Hasbro, Mattel and Kenner were desperately trying to cash in. Every week the toy isle was overstocked with old faces from the past. From He-Man to G.I. Joe to Star Wars and Transformers - Everyone's favorite 80's toys were back, though usually with an updated look.

By 2003 Mattel had already re-launched the He-Man series in the form of action figures. Due to lackluster sales, a different approach was taken to the series, a much more dark, and twisted one. Thus the Masters of the Universe Snake Men (or Masters of the Universe Vs. Snakemen) line was born. Big muscles and frightening sculpts was the name of the game.

While several figures were released, the majority were repaints from the prior re-launched toy line, as well as the vintage series. This was combined with a bright green card that helped draw the eye to them.

Despite being eye catching, the series saw little attention from collector's, and early into 2004 Mattel pulled the plug. Though it wouldn't be the last time fans got the opportunity to see He-Man and his companions on the shelf. But, that is as they say, a story for next time. Until then, here's a look at the entire line of Snake Men toys.

Battle Fist, Beast Man, Buzz-Off, Ice Armor He-Man
Mecha-Blade He-Man, Snake Armor He-Man, Snake Hunter He-Man, Stealth Armor He-Man

Khan, King Hissss, Man-At-Arms, Man-E-Faces
Serpent Track Mekaneck, Mekaneck, Orko, Roboto

Skeletor, Ice Armor Skeletor, Mecha-Blade Skeletor, Snake Crush Skeletor
Sky Strike Stratos, Claw Attack Stratos, Sy-Klone, The General

Trap Jaw, Tri-Klops, Two Bad, Whiplash
Zodak, Snake Teela (San Diego Comic Con Exclusive)

Battle Cat, Panthro

While the Snake Men toy line is an interesting one indeed, Mattel just simply didn't understand. Those of us who had been bitten by the nostalgia bug weren't look for a re-visioning of all the great toys from yesterday, we simply wanted to see what we had already had. Mattel would eventually get this right in its later line, Masters of the Universe Classics. But, again, that's a post for another time.

Join us next Monday for our look at M.U.S.C.L.E.!

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Pirates of Dark Water (Hasbro)

Dark Water, which didn't initially have "The Pirates of" in the title, aired in 1991 on Fox Kids. Following a number of animation tweaks and other changes by Hanna-Barbera, those episodes were rebroadcast later in 1991 as the first five episodes of the regular series. The first season aired on ABC, while the second season aired in first-run syndication as part of The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera. Due to expensive production costs and failing to meet the airdates, the series was never completed, and ended abruptly after 21 episodes.

Hasbro launched a mildly successful toy line in 1991 to coincide with the animated series. Interesting about this toy line was that it was the first to incorporate a numbering system. Each figure had a number printed on the bottom right of the card next to the character name to help collector's keep up with the series.

Though small, the series covered pretty much every main stream character from the show.

The original mini series was released on laserdisc in the early 90's. The two sided disc contained the original release of the five part mini series. In 2010 Warner Bros. released a produced on demand DVD featuring all 21 episodes.

Marvel Comics produced a six part mini series in 1991. Following the success and high demand for the series, Marvel produced a second three part mini series.

Sadly due to consistent episode delays the cartoon series was dropped at the height of its prime. Much like the original Star Trek series, it wasn't realized in time just how strong a following the series had. Many fans to this day remain disappointed that the series never saw completion. As a result of the show going off the air, the toy line and comic series were cancelled shortly after.

Some of the figures are really hard to come by on secondary markets, and the majority of them command a fair value of $20.00 - $30.00 each. Not bad for a toy line that came and went as quickly as it was released. The Wraith ship is even harder to come by, and values differ drastically from piece to piece.

Join us next Monday for our look at Masters of the Universe - Snakemen!

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