Monday, December 6, 2010

Kenner Star Wars Large Size 15" Chewbacca

This is Kenner's 15" (1/6 scale) Chewbacca from 1978.

Chewbacca has always been a difficult character to "pull-off" for toy companies. We usually get a figure that's all plastic or one that's all plush but haven't really gotten one that's a mix of the two.

Kenner chose to go the "all plastic" route with their first sixth-scale Chewbacca action figure. In fact, Chewie's construction is very similar to another large action figure that Kenner produced for their Six Million Dollar Man line of toys... Bionic Bigfoot. In fact, early prototype images of Chewbacca reveal that Kenner used a repainted Bigfoot with a bandolier strap as a stand-in for our intrepid furry hero until an official figure could be produced. If you examine both toys together, it's very apparent that they were "cut from the same cloth," so to speak.

Chewbacca was one of the first four large-sized action figures produced along with Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, and Princess Leia. Chewie's articulation is somewhat limited. He has ball-jointed shoulders, of sorts (held in place by rubber banded tension), and swivel hip joints... that's it. Due to the way he is sculpted, there is no head or neck articulation.

I like the way that Chewie is sculpted. There's plenty of sculpted fur detail but not too much. He's somewhat simplified and this choice works well with the somewhat simplified features of some of the human characters (like Han or Luke) in the line.

One neat aspect of this figure is that the cartridges on his strap are actually removable and can be placed on a peg on his crossbow blaster.

A complete Chewbacca comes with crossbow blaster (make sure the crossbow piece is present. It's a separate piece), bandolier strap with plastic pouch, and enough cartridges to fill all the slots on the strap.

Chewbacca has always been one of the more lovable characters in the Star Wars saga. This figure is fun representation of the beloved furry oaf.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Kenner Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back Toy Brochure #2

This is another pack-in toy brochure from 1981. These usually came with the bigger toys like vehicles, playsets, and larger figures. I was always excited to find a new one of these in the box. I used to pour over these little brochures as it was almost the only way to know what other toys were available or were being released soon. Notice the upside-down Tie Fighter.

More vintage 12" Star Wars and other vintage toy reviews coming soon.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Mego 8" Fonzie

This is Mego's 8" Fonzie from the Happy Days television show. Happy Days was a popular TV program that aired from 1974 to 1984. Mego Fonzie was released in 1977. The show was a nostalgic look back at a family (the Cunninghams) during the 1950s and early 1960s. To kids watching at the time, Happy Days depicted an era that seemed almost as ancient as the Depression of the 1930s or the Wild West of the late 1800s. To parents, the Happy Days era probably seemed fairly recent as it depicted a time that was only 20 years previous to when the show aired. One's age and how it relates to the perception of time passing is a very strange thing.

It's difficult to describe Fonzie (aka The Fonz, Arthur Fonzarelli) to someone that hasn't seen the Fonz "in action" on Happy Days. You see, Fonzie was the coolest of the cool... the leather-jacket-wearing-guy that could never fail and always kept his cool no matter the situation. He was almost like Superman, James Dean, and Evel Knievel all rolled into one. Fonzie could best almost anybody at anything (he even jumped a shark on water skis... which eventually led to the term "jump the shark). Few dared to oppose him and many looked to him to help them out of sticky situations. The character became such a cultural phenomenon that he spawned such things as t-shirts, lunch boxes, toys, and even an official Fonzie kids leather jacket (that I tried on while shopping for school clothes once... My Mom said "No." Can you tell that I've been scarred for life?).

Point of Shame: When I was about 9, I was a such a Fonzie fan that I started a "Fonzie Club" in my neighborhood... individually drawing Fonzie with markers on each "club member's" white t-shirt.

Mego did a nice job on Fonzie. The head sculpt looks very much like a Mego-ized Henry Winkler (the actor that played the Fonz). This figure also includes an action feature that is unique to this figure. His thumbs swivel into a "thumbs up" position on each hand and a lever on his back thrusts his hands up from waist to chest level. You see, on the show, the Fonz would thrust both thumbs up and utter his famous-at-the-time line, "Aaaaaaaay!!" The Fonz would often do this to show his approval of something... or he could change the inflection to reflect something more like disappointment with someone (sans the thumbs). I can't tell you how many kids walked around in the mid-Seventies saying "Aaaaaay!!" or "Sit on it" (another catchphrase popularized by Happy Days).

A complete Mego Fonzie should include his leather jacket, white sleeveless under-shirt, jeans, and black boots.

The original "shark jumper."

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Laurel and Hardy Finger Puppets 1972

Sometimes, I like to try to remember toys from my very early childhood. Often, they are just fleeting fragments of memories of things that may not have even existed at all. When I was about 5 years old, my folks would put me to bed on Saturday nights but then allow me to wake up a few hours later to watch some of the old movies that played on one of the local channels. Sometimes, they were old Universal monster movies like Dracula or the Creature from the Black Lagoon... and sometimes, an old comedy like a Laurel and Hardy movie would be shown.

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy made 106 films together between 1926 and 1951. Today, I couldn't tell you much about them, or even the name of a single film they made. However, when I was five years old, Laurel and Hardy were favorites of mine.

At any rate, I had a vague memory of having a pair of Laurel and Hardy finger puppets and was curious whether they were something real or something I had concocted in my head. Thirty-eight year old memories can be a bit fuzzy.

The internet is a pretty astounding thing, really. After only five minutes of searching, I had not only discovered that the finger puppets were indeed real (from 1972) but also for sale... cheap. My priceless memories were someone else's junk drawer fodder.

And so, a box arrived in the mail and time folded back on itself as I held these two fleeting bits of memory in my hands once again. It's a strange feeling to have such vague and distant memories come to such vivid reality in an instant.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Wham-O Bullwinkle Bendy

There were a lot of bendy figures being produced in the early 70s... superheroes, TV Heroes, cartoon characters, etc. I had quite a few bendy figures during this time and this was one of them... Bullwinkle the Moose from the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons. This is another bendy from Wham-O that was produced in 1972. Wham-O produced quite a few characters from the Rocky and Bullwinkle/Fractured Fairy Tales cartoons. Hopefully, I can get my hands on a few more of them.

Bullwinkle was produced in true bendy fashion... that is, he was produced as a three-dimensional figure but the term "dimensional" is pushing it a bit. Most bendy figures were produced as thinly as possible. That is, from the front, they look correct. When you turn them sideways, they almost disappear. I'm not sure if this thinness helped with way the internal wires worked or if it was a cost cutting measure but it's definitely a trademark of bendy figures from this era.

Consequently, Bullwinkle looked good in the package but wasn't much to look at once you tried to utilize him as a 3D character. As you can see, his antlers don't quite work once you try to adjust him out of the package.

I love these old bendies from the early 70s. They are just so...TOY. I don't know how else to put it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Mego 8" Planet of the Apes Astronaut Peter Burke

This is Mego's Peter Burke from 1974. He's the other astronaut that was stranded with Alan Virdon on the TV version of Planet of the Apes.

As with Virdon, Mego did an outstanding job of capturing the actor's (James Naughton) likeness... especially by 1974 toy standards.

To be complete, Peter should have a brown long-sleeved shirt, tan pants, a burlap (yep, it's even rough and itchy) vest, and brown moccasins (same as Virdon and Cornelius/Galen).

This concludes the Mego Planet of the Apes action figure line. Mego produced 9 individual figures from the films and TV show (ten characters... as Mego used the same figure for both Cornelius and Galen). Although, we really didn't care what movies or shows the figures came from as long as we had a good assortment of Apes and Astronauts to play with... and Mego delivered. I think Mego did an outstanding job on the Planet of the Apes figure line. For Megos, they are well-detailed and come with a nice assortment of accessories (at least the Generals did). For me, this will always be the quintessential Planet of the Apes figure line and I'm glad I was the right age when they arrived to enjoy them like I and many others did.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mego 8" Planet of the Apes Astronaut Alan Virdon

In 1974, those dirty apes from the series of ground-breaking sci-fi films were transported to my family's little black and white television (along with millions of other televisions, I'm sure). The Planet of the Apes television series didn't last long, but while it did, I was always glued to the set to see what would happen next to the astronauts that were stranded in this strange world where apes ruled and humans cowered. The TV show, in premise, was a lot like the first Planet of the Apes film. Although, instead of one astronaut surviving and being on the run, the television series had two...Peter Burke and Alan Virdon.

This is Alan Virdon, one half of the human astronaut duo that survived through all 14 episodes of the television show that were produced. Mego produced Virdon as part of the their second series of Planet of the the Apes (POTA) figures. While the first series of figures featured a generic astronaut that looked nothing like Charlton Heston, this new batch of POTA figures featured astronauts with very good likenesses to their living, breathing counterparts on the TV screen (Alan Virdon was played by actor, Ron Harper).

I remember seeing these two newer astronauts in the Coon Rapids, Minnesota Target store in 1974. Instantly, I wanted to bring them both home for my apes to chase and torment. It wasn't to be... and, as a kid, I never did get these two astronauts. However, my mom did make a very convincing version of one their tattered costumes for my Mego Tarzan and he did a fine job of standing in for these official Mego astronauts (and Evel Knievel's Canyon Sky Cycle stood in as the astronaut's ill-fated rocket ship).

Alan is a pretty basic Mego figure. He didn't come with any accessories or extras... just the figure and his "ripped-up" clothing. To be complete, he should have his tan shirt and pants, brown vest, and brown moccasins (the same ones that Cornelius and Galen came with).

It was great to finally get Alan and his astronaut buddy, Peter, a couple of years ago. It made that 7 year-old that had to leave them behind at Target very happy.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Kenner Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back Toy Brochure

This is another one of Kenner's pack-in brochures for their line of Star Wars toys. In 1980, Kenner released the first 10 figures and several vehicles and playsets for the new movie, The Empire Strikes Back. I like how Kenner kept the older Star Wars toys in release as they continued to add to the line. I'm also very partial to the spread that showcases all the large sized figures. Cool beans....and who knew Ben Kenobi was the father of the mystical "FORCE?" I sure didn't.

Enjoy. There will be more classic toy reviews coming soon.