Thursday, March 26, 2009

Mattel Shogun Warriors Gaiking

This is Gaiking. He's another one of Mattel's Shogun Warriors from 1979. He's big (about 2 feet tall). He's yellow and blue. He shoots missiles out of his chest and his right arm shoots off at the elbow.

I don't really have much to say about this guy that I didn't say about Shogun Warriors in my post about Dragun.

Gaiking sports just a tad bit more articulation than Dragun as his horns can rotate forward (making him look like a bit like a bull) and his right arm bends at the elbow to enable a better firing position for his fist. Like Dragun, he has wheels on the bottom of his feet. He also has articulation at the shoulders and neck.

This particular Shogun belonged to my younger brother, Mike. He was recently rescued from the garage (the Shogun, not the brother) and now stands watch in my studio along with his older brother, Dragun. I seem to have become the curator for a lot of my younger brother's old toys...and he can have them back at any point... maybe...if he knows the secret password and promises to always address me as "Esteemed Keeper of Plastic Artifacts." Heh, heh.

A complete Gaiking should include the missiles (I believe he came with four) and the firing fist. The fist fires at the press of a red button at the elbow. The chest missiles fire with a rocker switch mounted on his back.

Like Dragun, Gaiking is a bit of a mystery to me. Is he good? Is he bad? Why does he have a goofy animal face on his chest? I'm sure the true answers to these questions are more knowledge than I deserve, at this point. Ignorance is bliss.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Mego 8" Planet of the Apes Cornelius

Before Star Wars...before Star Trek movies...before just about every popular sci-fi film series that we enjoy today, there was the Planet of the Apes.

To many kids in the late sixties and early seventies, the Planet of the Apes films were a BIG DEAL. So much so, that it seems that Planet of the Apes does not enjoy the type of residual popularity today that, perhaps, it should. The film series was released from 1968 to 1973 and comprised 5 films. A television series followed in 1974. An animated series also followed not long after in 1975. The Planet of the Apes franchise also involved one of the biggest merchandising promotions ever. More so than any other film series to date. Lunch boxes, trading cards, books, records, board games, costumes, model kits, trash cans, toys, and many other items were produced in celebration of the franchise.

Mego started producing Planet of the Apes figures in 1974...just about the time the films were winding down and the television series was starting. Mego's first wave of figures included 5 characters. This figure was one of those five... Cornelius.

Cornelius, the chimpanzee, was played by actor Roddy McDowall. McDowall also played several other chimpanzee characters in the Apes films and even a character in the television series, Galen. Galen looked identical to the Cornelius character from the films. Consequently, Mego also released the Cornelius figure under the new name, Galen, for a later wave of the Apes figures.

Cornelius should have his brown moccasins, fur-cuffed tunic, and pants. No other accessories were included. It should also be noted that the Ape characters from this line also had hands sculpted to look hairy.

Mego's Planet of the Apes action figure line was exceptional. Mego, in most cases, took great care to produce great head sculpts and detailed costumes for the POTA figures...more so than many of their other lines. Over time, I'll be covering the entire Mego Planet of the Apes action figure line.

The picture's not blurry. Your overwhelming excitement for Mego's Planet of the Apes will no longer allow your retinas to focus.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Mego 8" Scale Batmobile

Mego produced an 8" scale Batmobile for their Batman and Robin action figures. The toy is based on the famous George Barris Batmobile design from the 1960's Batman TV show. Even in this simplified version, the amazing design of the original car still shines through.

This toy really doesn't have any special features other than rolling wheels. Today, this car would probably be produced with flashing lights and electronic sounds. I'm sure there would also be a secret door with a firing missile or two. Back in the 70s, it was enough that it fit the figures and rolled across the floor. This was more than sufficient for Batman and Robin to get from adventure to adventure and it still elicited quite a bit of fun and excitement during play. The Mego Batmobile is made of a durable plastic that stood up to quite a bit of abuse.

The fact that the Batmobile was based on the TV car, strengthened the idea that when we were playing with the Mego Bat-figures that we were playing with versions of the Adam West Batman and the Burt Ward Robin. Although, the car is not a perfect replica of the show car, it's still a commendable effort for such an early toy line.

As you can see, Mego's Batmobile was a little small to be in true scale with the Mego figures. However, the figures fit inside well enough. I'm not going to say too much on this one. I'll let the pictures do most of the talking.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Kenner Star Wars Action Figures (Wave 2)

Twenty-one figures comprised the entire line of Star Wars action figures before the first series for Empire Strike Back started hitting toy shelves in 1980...and that seemed like plenty. At that point, we didn't know we needed 100 different types of Stormtroopers...based solely on the troopers' individual shoe sizes...or that we needed 5 different Lukes to reflect the 5 different ways his hair was blowing on the set that day. We had a Luke...we had a Stormtrooper, and we were happy. Let's just say that it hadn't occurred to us or Kenner yet that we needed every costume and iteration of a character...or even every character, including those with even a mili-second of screen time.  In a way, though, I think this wave was the beginning of this trend with Kenner to look to background characters for toy fodder.

In 1978, I had completed my collection of Kenner's first 12 action figures. As far as I was concerned, there was nothing left to do in life. I had accomplished my life's goal and I could now rest on my laurels. So, you can imagine my surprise and dismay when the Sears catalog advertised two new Star Wars figures not yet available in stores: An odd character named Snaggletooth and the unlucky bounty hunter, Greedo. I ordered the two new Star Wars figures and felt a bit perplexed by them when they arrived in clear baggies rather than on the standard picture cards we were accustomed to. ( I know these were supposed to have come with 2 other figures and a cardboard Cantina playset. I SWEAR, I never had the playset and remember very well being able to order just the two figures.) There was a part of me, due to their oddness, that actually wondered if these two were "official" Star Wars figures at all. Not much later, Kenner started advertising that EIGHT more figures were coming...including both Snaggletooth and Greedo. This, in a way, was bad news because it meant that I no longer had a COMPLETE set of Star Wars figures. I would have to do more working, begging, and pleading to stay current. However, the odd thing was, the Snaggletooth being advertised no longer looked like the one I had received from Sears! He was short and was wearing red rather than blue! Aaagh! Not Good!! Instead of being only 6 figures away from a complete set, I was back at 7 again since my crappy blue Snaggletooth no longer counted. Dang!! ...and so, once I got a red Snaggletooth, blue Snaggletooth became the pariah of my Star Wars figure collection...regarded as second embarrassment. At that point, I could have easily buried him in the back yard and never looked back.

The second release of Star Wars figures included Power Droid, Death Star Droid, Walrus Man, Hammerhead, Luke Skywalker: X-wing Pilot, R5D4, Greedo, Snaggletooth, and Boba Fett. Although, Boba Fett was first offered as a mail-away and then later carded on store shelves. It's apparent when looking at the line-up of wave 2 figures in comparison with the first 12, that someone at Kenner decided that the figure line needed more color. The drab browns and grays of the first set were now replaced with bright oranges, blues, reds, and greens. Odd...and there was only ONE main character, Luke (Boba was anything but a main character at the time).

Blue and Red Snaggletooths (Pariah and Golden Child)
...and for you sticklers...Yes, I realize I gave ol' Red the wrong weapon. Ooops.

Years later, it was discovered that Blue Snaggletooth (the hated pariah) was actually quite a rare and desirable figure. He was asked back into the figure fold but there was still a lot of bad blood between us. He may never forgive me. I've even caught him trying to list himself on Ebay more than a couple of times over that past few years. Sigh.

How can you not love this face?

Mego 8" Robin

This is Mego's 8" Robin action figure. He was first released in 1973 as one of the first four superheroes that Mego produced (Superman, Batman, Robin, and Aquaman). What would Batman be without Robin?

Robin's history as a character is a long one. He was first created in 1940 as a sidekick for Batman. Robin provided a point of reference for kids reading the comic books and was a character that was more relatable to children. It was easy for kids to imagine themselves to be Robin and be there right alongside Batman fighting the bad guys.

Mego's Robin sports the outfit that Robin wore from his inception in 1940 all the way up to 1990 (or so) when his costume was revised for the new Robin, Tim Drake. So, incidentally, Robin's costume went basically unchanged for about 50 years.

Like Mego's Batman, Robin is from a simpler time when it was okay for superheroes to smile and do things like hand out ice cream to kids. So, Mego's Robin is sculpted like he's having a good day. These first Mego figures were also released while kids were still, somewhat, riding the Batman publicity wave that accompanied the Batman TV show that ran from 1966 to 1968. Many of us were emulating the TV show when we played with these. A lot of us weren't old enough to read comics when we started playing with Megos and so the TV show was our main point of reference (although a 60s show, it was in heavy syndication in the early 70s).

Since Mego's Batman was the first true Batman action figure ever produced, it stands to reason that Mego's Robin was the first Robin action figure ever produced. Like the Batman Captain Action costume, Ideal produced a Robin costume for their Action Boy (Captain Action's sidekick) figure before Mego's Robin. However, again, this was Action Boy masquerading as Robin and was not a dedicated Robin figure like the one Mego produced.

A complete Mego Robin includes his tunic with attached cape and emblem, a pair of green shorts, 2 green rubber booties, a yellow belt (elastic with metal buckle for only very early issues, a plastic one for later issues) and a pair of green gloves (oven mitts). It should be noted that Robin was first released with an ill-fitting removable mask (not shown) that could be removed to reveal Bruce Wayne's surrogate son, Dick Grayson.

Holy Vintage Goodness, Batman! (Sorry, had to.)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Kenner The Six Million Dollar Man: Oscar Goldman

This guy is probably the very embodiment of the word "excitement." As a member of the Six Million Dollar Man toy line, he has to do something cool, right? He's probably a super-secret agent with some sort of robotic superpowers. He's probably just as strong as Steve, somehow...right?... Maybe he's Steve's superpowered best friend. Hmmm? Well, actually, he's Steve Austin's...


No other label commands such awe and excitement in the mind of a child. Sure a bionic man, robotic Sasquatch, and evil identity-changing robot are cool, but nothing compares to the coolness factor of a character that pushes papers around, warms up that morning's tepid cup of coffee, and wears sport coats with corduroy patches on the elbows.

This is Oscar Goldman. The Boss.

So, no matter how much power you think your Steve Austin has, he still answers to this guy....Mr. Goldman. Yep, that's right. You thought you were the one to give marching orders to your own Six Million Dollar Man, didn't you? Well, think again. Once this guy's in your toy box, you need to run any plans for Steve by him first. After all, he's his Boss...not you. It says so right on his box.

All kidding aside, Oscar was always a pretty cool character on the Six Million Dollar Man TV show...and there was something kind of bold about Kenner adding a figure to the line that wasn't bionic in some way. Oscar was played by actor Richard Anderson (not to be confused with Richard DEAN Anderson, MacGuyver), and it's his partial voice-over in the opening of the show that sets the stage for all the bionic excitement to come in each episode..."Gentleman, we can rebuild him.  We have the technology. We have the capacity to build the world's first bionic man." Incidentally, this figure features a fairly good likeness of Anderson.

Truth be told, I was excited to get this figure as a kid. I'm not sure why, maybe it was because I was a sucker for all things Six Million Dollar Man, at that point, and any new figure was welcome. Kenner only released four different characters (not counting the Bionic Woman line...that was for girls) for the Six Million Dollar Man line. Plus, his briefcase had a pretty cool feature to make up for the lack of "bionic" features on the figure itself. If you were privy to OSI procedures (or read the instructions) you could open the briefcase without fear of danger. However, if you were one of the uninitiated, you were risking your life by opening Oscar's benign-looking accessory. If you opened the briefcase incorrectly, the top would fly off and the inside of the case looked as if it had been bomb-damaged. I knew a kid that lost a finger to that briefcase. It's feature was that realistic. True story.

Pink means danger. Look at the packaging. Oscar is obviously dangerous.

Ooops. Someone forgot to be careful.

Okay, so THAT's not true. Nobody lost a finger but it was still a cool feature that made Oscar more than just a guy in a suit. Oscar also included a black microphone headset so he could stay in communication with Steve...or OSI headquarters...or maybe he just moonlighted at the McDonald's drive-thru. Nobody ever said that working for the OSI paid a lot. Most people are unaware that Colonel Austin was also a wedding planner in his off-hours (look it up). Oscar's articulation is pretty much the same as Steve's (not great) as he shared the same base body minus any bionic chips and what-not. A complete Oscar Goldman includes his plaid sports jacket, turquoise shirt, tan pants, black socks, and brown shoes. His briefcase also includes paper files of Steve Austin and Jaime Sommers (the bionic woman). He should also include the aforementioned headset.

What a great figure!! have around the office.

Follow his orders. He may not be bionic but he could still crush your head like a nut.