G.I. JOE (2000-2006)

ORDERING INFO      VINTAGE SPOTLIGHT      ACTION FIGURE REVIEWS     RAMBLINGS                                                            


Welcome to "The Vintage Spotlight"The primary purpose of this page is to provide some background and pictures on some of the more "less covered" toy lines.  As a toy collector, If you want information and pictures of your favorite Transformers or Star Wars figures, you can find numerous resources but how about more obscure toy lines such as Animax or Dragonriders of the Styx?   Well, here is an opportunity for me to help the toy community with what ever information I can contribute on these ignored toy lines. 

ZAP Power Force by Zima Products (Takara)
In the 1990's, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers by Bandai ruled the toy isles resulting in every other toy company scrounging to find their own version of the successful toy and TV series.  Some of the more popular imports were VR Troopers, Beetle Borgs & Samurai Syber Squad.  However, there were at least a half dozen more series that followed a similar format.  Perhaps the most obscure and best of the bunch is ZAP Power Force. 

ZAP (Zero-Section Armed Police) Power Force was based off the Japanese TV show Cyber Police Cybercop.  As far as I know, the TV show was never brought to the states.  The toys from what I understand where made by Takara and imported by Zima Products.  The name Toho is also listed on the package.  I think it may be the TV production company.  I only saw these toys sold at KB Toys.  There are a total of five figures.  Each figure stands a good eight inches and features a wonderful assortment of accessories.  The characters include: Spectron, Destron, Zorton, Biotron & Blazord.

Each figure had a similar aesthetic (I guess best described as futuristic cops).  All but Blazord.  Blazord was my personal favorite and I imagine for those other few people who remember the series, they may say the same.  Blazord was very unique and looked like the tough rogue of the team ala Boba Fett or Snake Eyes.

The packaging is rather plain.  However, there is some great character art done.  Even better is there is a file card included on the back of the package to give you a little insight on the character.  This was especially useful considering the show was never on US television.

Seeing there are only five figures in the collection, Power Force is a relatively easy set to complete except that they can be mighty difficult to find.  These toys where not sold on a grand scale and with all the other "collectable" toys being released in the 1990's, it is unlikely that a lot of people were hoarding these.  If you do get lucky enough to find them, prices can vary.  For those who aren't aware of their scarcity and see them as a silly Power Rangers knock-off, might sell these mighty cheap but if they know how rare these are, you may have to pay a premium.  Nevertheless, the prices aren't outrageous and therefore, making Power Force an obtainable series to complete.

ZAP Power Force is without a shadow of a doubt my favorite of the live action kids shows toys that where often imported from Japan and I am glad to have finally completed my set after many years.  Power Force are fun figures with great displayability.

Computer Warriors by Mattel


In 1989, Mattel released a transforming toy line ahead of its time.  The Computer Warriors consisted of a two inch action figure with real life scaled household items such as a flashlight, pencil sharpener, Pepsi can and more. 

The Computer Warriors included carded figures that came with computer boards and larger boxed toys.  Each transforming accessory included one two inch action figure accept for the PC which included two figures (one of which I still need to complete my figure set). 

There was in fact a cartoon for Computer Warriors.  I believe there was only one episode released and it was available on VHS.  The cartoon is fairly silly but it did feature some interesting animation that tried to duplicate the look of Tron.  I found the style somewhat of a distraction.  It is really hard to focus on what was going on but in its defense, I did watch it on a small computer screen.  Perhaps on a full size TV screen it may be easier on the eyes.

The toy line and cartoon really didn't go anywhere.  Perhaps if Computer Warriors would have been released in the late 1990's when computers and the internet became a household standard. 

I didn't have any of these toys when they were originally released.  I remember seeing them in the stores and I found them somewhat interesting.  However, there were far many cooler toys with larger marketing campaigns which may be part of their failure.  Revisiting this toy line twenty years later, I realize their charm and collectability.  I hope to find the one remaining figure I need but without any real documentation of the line and few dealers of Computer Warriors, it may be awhile till I locate that final piece, Cursor.

Spiral Zone by Tonka

In 1987 "Earth's most powerful soldiers" where brought to the US by Tonka.  Spiral Zone originated in Japan by Bandai with a series of action figures, vehicles and armor of about six inch action figures with cloth outfits and plastic armor and weapons.

The figures released in the US by Tonka were vastly different from the Japanese ones.  I can't say they are inferior for I have never been fortunate enough to own any of the Japanese Spiral Zone figures but judging by pictures, I would say the Bandai toys looked to have cooler armor. 

The Spiral Zone action figures and vehicles were accompanied by a animated series that ran 65 episodes.  I remember it being a good and a rather dark cartoon for children as the bad guys were some kind of diseased zombies.

The good guys were lead by Dirk Courage.  He is perhaps the only figure in the series that really is distinguished from the rest of the figures.  Nevertheless, they were all very cool figures that were slightly ahead of their time. 

Each figure came with a cassette that told a story to help accompany your play.  The vehicles were a highlight of the series as they are unique and full of play value.  There also were accessory packs and outfits that were sold separately.

The Spiral Zone figures can be very difficult to locate.  There is a very small following for this series but those who are really interested in completing their collection seem willing to pay the price.  The accessory packs and outfit packs can be found easily and very cheap. 

There was a proposed second series which I've seen catalog pictures of and they would have been an excellent addition to this fine but short lived toy line. 

I'm not sure why the toys did not catch on in the US as it seemed the cartoon did fairly well.  It may have been because of the cloth clothing.  During the 1980's, cloth outfits were strictly for dolls and may have turned off consumers.  Nevertheless, if you have a chance to get any of these figures or vehicles, go for it as they are mighty cool and loaded with gear. 

Appleseed Ex Machina Snap Kits by Hot Toys
I am very aware that these are anything but vintage.  I've been meaning to change the title of this section to just "Action Figure Spotlight".  However, it would be somewhat time consuming.  At least that is my excuse.  By changing the title alone, it would allow me to cover some much deserved action figure lines that may be gone from toy stores but aren't quite considered "vintage yet.  I chose to cover Hot Toys Appleseed Ex Machina snap Kits because quite frankly, I have a lot to say about them and searching through many online stores, they are starting to disappear. 

Appleseed Ex Machina was a very well done and entertaining piece of CGI anime.  The characters have been around for sometime but this movie was my introduction to them other than seeing pictures of Briarios.  I enjoyed Ex Machina enough that I bought the DVD the day after I rented it.  When I heard that 4" action figures where to be released in Japan, I was definitely on board even at the high price for a five figure set and a build a figure.  However, it is worth noting that the high price is actually for two sets of the five figures as all ten are needed to build the amazing Landmate.  I think this is sort of a ridicules way of distributing a build a figure but it was worth the price nonetheless.

Hot Toys are best known for their exceptionally detailed 1/6 scaled collectables.  Every figure is given full attention and are the best of the best.  They are not cheap though but as a collector, sometimes you have to accept that if you want the best you have to pay for the best.  I get quite jealous of the 1/6 scaled collectors as not only Hot Toys but a few other companies make collectable targeted figures.  Yes, there are a few companies such as Neca that advertise as collector targeted toy companies but they aren't really hitting the right buttons for action figure collector's as they usually lack articulation and are virtually plastic statues.  Enter Hot Toys Snap Kits.

Hot Toys Appleseed Snap Kits are fully articulated 4" action figures with all the details you might expect from them.  Hot Toys has great sculpting, articulation and character specific accessories and what I like best of all, is they really use high quality plastics and other materials.

As I've always noted as being a fan of 4" action figures, Hot Toys hit it out of the park with this set of action figures.  They incorporate subtle details and are simply brilliant.  As I said earlier though is you have to buy a case of ten in order to build the must needed Landmate.  I think it would have been better if buying a set of five would complete the Landmate as it makes more sense but if you break it down the price, each figure was about twelve dollars each and I was able to sell my doubles to recoupe some of the money. 

If Hot Toys would continue making 4" scaled figures such as these and maybe sell them in fancy box packaging like their 1/6 scaled figures and charged about $15 to $25.00 a figure, I think it would turn the action figure collecting market around.  I could only imagine if they took the same quality concept and made figures from the Iron-Man movie, the Dark Knight and many of the other licensed figures they get their hands on. 

Even if you never have seen Appleseed Ex Machina or didn't like it but are a serious action figure collector, pick up at least a Briarios just to see what potential there is with my preferred action figure scale.  Yes, action figures are intended for kids but the market has changed and there is clearly a demand for higher end action figures and right now I believe Hot Toys Ex Machina is the best of the best.

Marvel Legends Showdown by Toybiz







Surprisingly over the course of the decades that action figures existed there really was only one series of superhero action figures in the popular 3 3/4" scale and that was Mego's Pocket Superheroes from the 70's and early 80's.  Other than that series there was Marvel Showdown by Toybiz which is what I'm here to talk about.  I felt it was the perfect time to take a look at this mostly over-looked line now that Hasbro is getting ready to release their new line of 3 3/4" Marvel superheroes.

Marvel Legends Showdown are basically shrunk down versions of the popular 6" Marvel Legends series.  However, instead of Toybiz just releasing these as a nice series of action figures, they wrapped the figures around a game.  I never played the game but did read the instructions on how and boy, it did not seem like fun at all. 

Do to the inclusion of the game, Toybiz were charging about $8.00 per figure.  Now in today's marketplace this is unfortunately a relatively normal price.  However, five years ago it was outrageous especially when that was the same price of the superior 6" Marvel Legends figures.  I do believe, had Toybiz eliminated the game, worked on better packaging and charged about five dollars a figure, they would have had a winner on their hands.

The overall sculpts of the figures were very well done.  Most of them were virtually shrunken down versions of their Marvel Legends counterparts.  Articulation was also in full force just like the larger figures.  However, there were some quality control issues with limbs easily falling off.  Thankfully, most of them could be snapped back into place.

The paint applications were hit and miss sort of like well, Marvel Legends but overall for 3 3/4" figures they were well done. Each figure included a ridiculous missile launcher, missile, oversized stand and cards for the game.  These accessories could have easily been eliminated to lower the cost and I'm certain they would not have been missed

Besides single packed figures, there were also 2-packs.  This was the only way to get some of your favorites such as Spider-Man and Wolverine.  Also, Toybiz did throw in some chase figures which is no surprise.

Again, I truly believe the game and price point is what killed this line because there are plenty of collector's who enjoy 3 3/4" figures (I am one myself). 

With the new series coming out by Hasbro, it will be interesting if it creates any interest in the Showdown series or just makes them obsolete.  I suppose only time will tell.  Early pictures haven't convinced me that the figures themselves are an overall improvement and I expect them to retail for seven to eight bucks a figure.

As far as collecting Marvel Legends Showdown, the first series are easy and cheap to find as they were clearanced out virtually everywhere.  However, the third series barely had any shelf time.  So, figures such as Thor, Venom, Daredevil & Green Goblin can get somewhat pricey and deservingly so because not only were they hard to find but the sculpting was even better than the earlier series figures.

As a sucker for 3 3/4" figures, i am tempted to collect Hasbro's new Marvel series.  however, I expect it to be quite a commitment to collect as there will most likely be many figures released including: variations, exclusives and who knows what else they will have planned.  I may pick up a few of my favorites but thus far i am happy with my set of Toybiz' Marvel Legends Showdown figures.

Star Trek:  The Motion Picture by Mego

In 1979/1980, after the Star wars phenomena, the Star Trek franchise thought it would give it a chance to ride high on the success of space movies.  The movie itself is somewhat slow paced and boring but not bad.  It certainly could not match up to the excitement of Star Wars.

Mego Toys was trying everything to make up for skipping out on the Star Wars license and this was one of their more promising opportunities considering Star Trek was already a familiar property.

Mego made a set of six figures in the first series.  Each figure was almost identical to that of a Kenner Star wars figure.  They featured the same articulation & the sculpts were fairly similar.  However, what the figure selection lacked were cool aliens and robots but that wasn't really the fault of Mego as much as what the movie had to offer.

The figures themselves are very nice and some of my favorite versions of the classic characters.  I like the change in uniforms from the classic look from the show.  They looked much more contemporary.  One aspect I disliked was the lack of painted eyes accept for Ilia.  This was common for Mego 3 3/4" figures.  Without eyes, it is very hard to see any emotion within the character.  Nevertheless, the head sculpts were well done and looked like their film counterparts. 

None of the first series figures came with any accessories.  No phasers or tri-corders.  I think that was a mistake as every kid wants some sort of weapon for their figure.

Series two was a whole different monster.  As far as I understand, not only were they not released in the U.S. but they featured aliens exclusively.  Each alien was rather cool in my opinion.  However, I don't really recall any of them being featured in the film.

Sales of these figures were brisk and I remember seeing Ilia figures (the bald headed female) on the shelves years after the films release.

I'm not sure anything could have been done to have increased sales of this series of figures.  Perhaps, if the "Wraith of Khan" was the film that was released first, maybe they would have sold better as that was not only a better film but resonated better with audiences.

No matter, Mego left the world with a nice set of 3 3/4" action figures for the first time.  The only other time Star Trek classics has seen this scale is with Star Trek 3 but they were more articulated and styled after the G.I. Joe format.

The first series can be had fairly easily and inexpensive.  However, finding them in nice shape is a real challenge.  For whatever reason, children who owned these figures really wore them out.  If you are interested in the rare second series figures, you better start saving your money and prepare for a lengthy hunt.  They aren't as rare or hard to get as they were say, ten years ago now that we have access to online auctions but they are still pretty scarce and expensive.

McCoy or series 2 aliens not pictured.

Storm Hawks 4" action figures by Spinmasters















Perhaps, it is in my best interest to change the title of this archive because it is very clear that the Storm Hawks toy line that was released in 2007/2008 is no where near "vintage".  However, there was no way I could wait ten years to share this wonderful toy line.

I first discovered Storm Hawks at a Toys R' Us.  There were two different action figure scales: a six inch action figure deluxe series and the superior 4" series.  I found the character designs rather original and refreshing.  I was very close to buying the lead Sky Knight, Aerrow.  However, at about eight dollars retail, it was just too expensive for an impulse buy. 

Fast forward about five months later.  While on holiday back in my hometown of Michigan I found three of the Storm Hawks figures and two of the vehicles on clearance.  The figures were marked down to four dollars each.  Now that was more like it.  So, I purchased the three figures the store had left but left the two motorcycle vehicles.

I opened up and played with these nicely articulated action figures and found myself really enjoying them.  So much so that I went to the Cartoon Network website and watched an episode of the cartoon.  Without going too much into the cartoon, it is your basic good vs. evil concept.  However, what sets this apart from other current animated shows targeted towards children was the animation is phenomenal!  The details and movement is some of the best I've seen especially for a TV series.  In addition to that, the characters are well fleshed out and have their individual traits.  I absolutely fell in love with the flying X-Wing like motorcycle's so much that the following day, I returned to the store and purchased them.  They are both full of play value and detail.  These are the kind of vehicles that any child (or adult collector) could enjoy playing with especially when accompanied by the action figures.

I spent a good amount of time trying to hunt down the other three figures in the set.  I was ecstatic to find even one, Junko.  I of course hoped to find the remaining figures but one was satisfying.  I immediately turned to Ebay now willing to pay the eight bucks a figure I gawked at from the beginning.  I was fortunate to find the Condor pilot, Stork.  He is one of the more interesting characters both in appearance and in the cartoon.

After much hunting, I needed only one figure left, the evil Snipe.  I had such a hard time finding him or even proof that he existed that I was starting to believe he may have never made it to production until one day I found an online dealer from Australia selling Snipe.  There was no way I was going to let this opportunity go.  I bid a high price on the figure but due to the lack of interest in the toy line, I got it for a very reasonable price (I have since yet to see another auction for this figure).

I got pretty obsessed with the Storm Hawks.  I purchased both volumes of the DVD and enjoy every minute of it.  The only disappointment was that I knew I would never have an opportunity to own figures of the many other fantastic characters.  A true letdown.

I briefly mentioned the six inch deluxe figures.  I did end up purchasing them very cheap when KB Toys went out of business.  Other than their light up feature, they are virtually a waste of plastic and I wish Spinmasters Toys would have used the resources to expand the 4" series.

Nevertheless, the Storm Hawks didn't last even a year on toy store shelves.  They will most likely be part of the world of forgotten toys.  It's rather unfortunate because it's rare when something new not movie related comes out and actually has cool toys and a cartoon.

If you take my advice and check out the Storm Hawks, the figures can be had very easily and inexpensive accept of course, Snipe.  It may take some serious time and patience to find him.  Stork is also rather tough to find but he isn't nearly as challenging.  I'm not sure the Storm Hawks will ever find its audience but perhaps one day the Storm Hawks will be rediscovered. Either way, Snipe may be one of the most difficult, undesirable action figures ever made.

Total Justice by Kenner

The late 1990's was not only a transitional period for action figures but for comic books as well.  In the mid-90's comic books were riding high with speculators hoping to turn a quick buck but when all that ended comic book companies had to shake things up to keep the interest of the regulars.

In the world of action figures in the late 1990's, it seemed a DC superhero could not get made unless it was somehow tied into the Batman universe but Kenner took a risk with Total Justice even though the line featured a prominent Batman logo to convince retailers that is was in fact a Batman related toy line.

The figures in the series were mostly made up of all the classics accept they all featured their contemporary looks.  This was a negative in my eyes not necessarily because I'm a purist but as a big Hal Jordan Green Lantern fan, the closest the series got was with the Parallax figure but at the time Kyle Rayner was undoubtedly, Green Lantern.

Another character that suffered from a costume makeover was Aquaman.  I was never a fan of the bearded hooked hand look.  Superman also featured his Mullet which was how he looked in the comics at the time.  You can look at these issues as a positive to some extent because Kenner was following what was currently going on in the comic universe at the time but this certainly was not the "Super Powers" for a new generation.

Some of the positives of the series was the sculpts.  These figures were really well done.  I think the details in the muscle's was phenomenal.  However, these were more statues than action figures.  Just like many action figures in the 1990's, the toys were all pre-posed.  Some of them were more drastic than others and I think the line suffered because of this.  Kenner tried to make up for the lack of play value by giving each figure some of the most ridiculous accessories ever.  First of all, these are superheroes.  They don't need these crazy missile shooting weapons.  In my opinion, this was the worst aspect of the series.  However, you can always toss the accessories in the trash.  Unfortunately for me, I'm so OCD that I can't accept a figure if it is not complete with what it was packaged with.

The clear highlight of Total Justice is Hawkman.  This is just a beautiful figure.  I don't recall this costume worn in the comics but the sculpt is magnificent!  The details in the wings alone make up for his ridiculous accessory.  Some of the other noteworthy figures are Flash, Robin and the Huntress.

When the series ended it continued mostly at KB Toy stores under the JLA moniker.  It expanded the series with Martian Manhunter, Red Tornado, Plastic-Man, Wonder Woman among others.  This is were the line really started to shine.  The figures no longer included the silly accessories and now came with  a rather large "JLA" base.  They went back and fixed some of the flaws with earlier figures.  Like Superman's hair and Batman's cape.  I am still slowly discovering this series and am adding pictures as I do. I especially want to note how great the Wonder Woman figure is.  It appears to be an all new sculpt and really shows off the best features of the amazon.

With all of Total Justice's flaws it still has its charms and as I said, each figure was well sculpted.  Most of the figures can be found at pretty cheap prices but some of the later series' figures that only shipped to KB Toy stores can get a little pricy.  Most notable are Red Tornado and Wonder Woman.  Total Justice was certainly not the second coming of Super Powers but it still represents a period in comic book history.  Some may wish to forget but I think Total Justice provides enough personality to hold its place in comic book action figure history.


Starcom by Coleco









There are very few action figure lines that are vehicle driven.  Don't get me wrong, many collector's and kids preferred owning the vehicles from G.I. Joe over the figures but it still was an action figure driven toy line.  However, two series come to mind where the vehicles outshined the figures, the popular M.A.S.K. series by Kenner and the more cult favorite, Starcom by Coleco.  M.A.S.K. certainly had inspirational action figures as well as their transforming vehicles but this vintage spotlight is on Starcom.

Starcom was one of my top favorite toy lines as a kid.  They had such a winning formula that I am surprised that the series didn't carry on further.  Perhaps, it had a lot to do with Coleco's financial situation at the time.  Nevertheless, Starcom vehicles were similar to M.A.S.K. as they both had transforming features.  However, what set them apart is that Starcom vehicles were transformed by a wind-up motorized feature that did not need batteries.  Boy, were they ever fun but as an action figure site I am here to talk about the action figures.

The action figures are best known as "those little figures with magnets on their feet".  Each figure had magnets at the bottom of their feet which allowed them to stick to many of the metal plates on the vehicles.  Another ingenious concept.  Each figure is about two and a half inches tall and include an easily lost flip up visor. The good guys had clear visors and the bad guys had transparent purple visors There were about twenty or so single carded figures which included a gun, backpack and wire connector.  It is worth mentioning that the card art was wonderful and the overall packaging slightly resembled a similar layout as G.I. Joe figure packaging. 

Naturally, there were good guys and bad guys.  The bad guys were a little less interesting than the good guys accept for the two robot characters and the very rare mail-away leader, Emperor Dark.  He looked drastically different from the other figures as he was inspired by his animated counterpart.  Speaking of the animated series, I haven't seen it in years but I remember it being very good and I made an attempt to catch it as a kid.

The good guys are interesting as they were divided in three groups, land, air and base figures.  I suppose your average child probably liked the sleeker flight figure uniforms.  However, I was rather fond of the bulkier land uniforms led by Col. Paul "Crowbar" Corbin.  Each faction had it's leader and it's troops with similar uniform designs.

Considering how tiny the figures are, they still have some pretty good detail & articulation.  Perhaps the only lack of detail is in the face but how do you paint eyes on a tiny head like these?

Collecting Starcom toys can be challenging and expensive.  Finding complete figures can be difficult seeing they all include small parts including the visors which are easily lost.  With the vehicles, the difficulty lies with not only finding complete specimens but the white space vehicles plastic easily turn yellow.  Also, when the series stopped in the U.S., it continues in Europe.  The European vehicles can get rather expensive.

Starcom is in my eyes is one of the most innovative and fun toy lines even to today's standards and are worth all the hard work and money it takes to acquire them. 

Note: Missing are figures, Lt. Red Baker & Cpl. Storn (still looking for them).

Army of Darkness by Palisades Toys







I grew up with the Evil Dead films.  Quite literally.  Not only did I attend the same high school as Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell but I grew up in the same neighborhood as Raimi.  However, by the time my family moved into the suburb, the Raimi's were long gone but their imprint was not.  Like most horror fans, I adore Evil Dead 1 & 2.  However, in all honesty, I despised Army of Darkness.  I tried to like it.  I watched it several times and cringed at a good majority of the film.  I don't think I ever wanted to like a movie so much.  The potential was all there.  The way Evil Dead ended, set up a perfect opportunity for a great fantasy horror film but Raimi went over the top with cheap gags and goofiness.  Evil Dead worked so well perhaps because it had it's fair share of slapstick but wasn't completely a parody of itself. 

With all that said, most horror fans begged for an Ash action figure for years and finally McFarlane delivered with one of their infamous "Nerd Hummel's" from their Movie Maniacs series.  I dislike the static six inch figure/sculpture but at the time I could care less.  I had an Ash figure!

Palisades Toys, best known for their incredible Muppet action figures got the license to make 3 3/4" action figures from Army of Darkness.  What an opportunity.  Unfortunately, they did not approach the series with the same attention to detail and quality as their Muppets series. 

The first wave figures were sold in two packs.  I think this was a mistake but I think their motivation behind this was they didn't feel most figures would sell.  So, they included many sets with an Ash figure of sorts.  This wasn't the greatest disappointment of the series.  It was Ash himself.  The hero of the film.  The one who most collector's would want was the most disappointing of the line.  He was sculpted with a cartoon look of Bruce Campbell's face as apposed to a realistic approach.   Most of the other figures were well sculpted and fully accessorized.  However, yet another problem was it was somewhat difficult to identify which weapons were intended for what figure.  It took a little time but I think I got it mostly right.  The figures were fairly well painted but I think the wash paint application was a bit over-used.  Perhaps, the biggest problem with the series was the quality.  These figures are easily broken.  This was a surprise to me as I always found Palisades to be one of the higher quality independent toy companies.

For the second series, Palisades made some vast improvements.  The first and most prominent change made was instead of selling these in 2-packs, they were now sold individually in blind boxes.  This aspect made them much more fun to buy.  However, by the time the second series was released Palisades was on it's way out of the toy business making the second series figures very difficult to find.  On top of that they made chase figures which are even harder to find.

If you read this, you would most likely conclude that I hate this series as much as I hated the movie.  However, I actually like the series and commend Palisades effort.  I just wish they would have started off the line on the right foot and increased the quality.

If you are interested in collecting the Army of Darkness figures, the first series can be found very cheap as most stores clearanced them out but expect to not only pay a fair amount for any second series figure but hunting them down may be the true challenge.  I have near a complete set but there are a few chase figures that sell in the hundreds and to be honest, I can find many other toys I'd rather spend that kind of money on.

Dragonheart by Kenner








Another line of movie figures from the dreaded 1990's.  As you may notice I criticize the action figures from the 1990's quite a bit and it is mostly because it was such a transitional decade for action figures.  It was the birth of the collector's market.  Toy companies were trying to find a way to please both the collector's and the children and in the end, I'm not sure they pleased anyone.  I also find the attitude towards action figures in the 1990's was the bigger the better and I tend to prefer a standard 4-5 inch action figure.

When it came to the action figure's for the awful fantasy film, Dragonheart, Kenner toys decided to go with a smaller scale action figure and that was a plus for me.  However, to over compensate for the smaller scale, Kenner included ridiculously large accessories for added play-value. 

One of the positives of this series was there were no brightly fluorescent colored parts (another staple for 90's toys).  The figures themselves were actually fairly well sculpted but what really ruins this series of figures is each figure is sculpted in a dynamic pose and has no hip articulation.  This was yet another common practice in the 1990's.  I think the pre-posed figure defeats the whole purpose of the action figure and even contradicts it.  This feature makes the figures primarily mini statues or figurines. 

The movie as I stated was a real loser but that is just my opinion.  However, I must not be alone because it failed at the box office and the Kenner action figures would sit on the shelves far after the movie had come and gone.  Kenner also produced a second dragon other than Draco (which is probably the highlight of the series).  This additional dragon makes little sense seeing that (if my memory recalls) Draco was the last dragon and a major plot of the film.

Another common trend in the 1990's was toy scalpers.  These were opportunists that had no real interest in action figures and just looking to turn a quick buck.  The popular items of the time were the female figures.  Most toy companies short packed the female action figures due to the usual lack of interest from boys.  This resulted in speculative buying.  Everyone was buying up female action figures hoping to strike gold making the female character, Kara the hardest to find in the series.  She probably still remains the most difficult figure in the assortment but she certainly isn't by any means unobtainable or really desired in today's market.

For all it's flaws, the Dragonheart figures do have a certain appeal especially comparing them to other toys from the decade.  Perhaps had the movie been better their would be a greater demand for the figures.  With that said, you can complete this set rather cheaply.  If you are interested in a loose figure set, you are best off buying them carded and than opening them because they do come with a substantial amount of accessories and finding loose/complete figures may be hard and not worth the hunt.

Again, it's too bad the film was not better because if it had been the toy line could find it's audience and gain interest in years to come.  With that said, perhaps young kids enjoyed the film and as they get older they may want the toys.  That's a big part of why there is such a boom with 80's toys from many properties that may have otherwise been looked at as a bad movie or cartoon at the time but translated to good childhood memories for many.

Stargate by Hasbro

In 1994, there was an influx of big spectacle summer movies.  This was right after the independent film infatuation started by Pulp Fiction.  I've never denied my love of big summer movies.  However, I still expect them to somewhat not insult my intelligence.  Both Armageddon and The Mummy are good examples of bad summer movies among many others.  However, I remember Stargate as an enjoyable movie going experience.  I have watched it since and do find many silly aspects to the movie but it still contained some fun characters and a marginally interesting plot.

The action figures were produced by Hasbro in a four inch scale.  Each figure looked somewhat like their movie counterparts.  However, the good guys sort of look like cartoon versions of themselves almost as if their were character sketches for an animated series. 

Naturally, the bad guys are the more interesting figures of the set as they look like sci-fi interpretations of Egyptians.  Ra, the evil leader is my favorite.  I do also like the Col. O'Neil figure.  It does resemble Kurt Russell.  Each figure came with a plethora of accessories including re-used G.I. Joe guns and obnoxious missile launchers.  Each figure also came with a miniature replica of an item seen in the movie such as the Stargate, Pyramid, etc.

There are a total of eight figures a creature and a few vehicles.  I actually think the creature, Mastadge: Beast of Burden is the true highlight of the series as he is flocked with yarn as hair.  He is very unique.  It is also worth noting that the packaging was rather unique as it was circular like the Stargate itself with a cartoon drawing of each character like the figures.

Overall, this is a decent set of figures especially for the dreaded 1990's, in my opinion one of the worst decades for action figures.  Had Hasbro got the characters a little more movie accurate and got rid of the silly missile launchers, the line would be overall more pleasing. 

The figures can be found cheap.  However, if you are a mint on card collector be careful.  Due to the unusual shape of the packaging, they are easily damageable.  These may find it's fan base in the near future mainly due to the success of the TV show.  I find that science fiction film based action figures almost always find their audience.  It may take another decade but in the meantime, it may be a reasonable investment to pick up a set now while they are still cheap.

Star Trek: The Next Generation by Gallob

There is certainly no need to introduce readers to Star Trek.  It is perhaps the most popular science fiction franchise ever.  Perhaps, only rivaled by Star Wars.  However, Star Wars could be argued on whether it is science fiction or a space opera.  Nevertheless, both franchises has had their fair share of merchandising. 

Star Trek, starting in the 1960's, received 8" Mego dolls resulting from the success of reruns in the 1970's.  In the late 1970's and the 1980's Star Trek also received action figures and related merchandise tied into the motion pictures of the popular franchise.  However, until the late 1980's Star Trek was not paving any new ground then along came Star Trek the Next Generation.  It's success started slow but was to soon boom into arguably the best and most popular Star Trek series ever.

The Next Generation received two sets of action figures, the expansive Playmates series is easily the most celebrated and rightfully so as they created an incredibly unrestrained universe and nearly every character to ever deserve a figure got one.  With that said, it was Galoob that took a chance on the Next Generation before any one could predict it's success.

I'm not going to compare Playmates series and Galoob's because even though they both have certain qualities more appealing than the other, Playmates went far beyond Galoob with the license.

Galoob produced ten 3 3/4" action figures for the series.  Six of them were crew members of the Enterprise and the other four were aliens.  The six crew members were all pretty common with Riker the most readily available and Data & Tasha Yar the more difficult to find.  Also worth noting is Data has several different face variations.  The most known is the speckled face Data.  Apparently, there was a reaction in the plastic used that resulted in specks on Data's face.

Each crew member had a phaser molded into their hand and included a tricorder.  The figures were well sculpted and looked like their TV counterparts.  Paint was a bit of a problem in this line.  Other than the issues with Data's face, it is common to find Picard and Riker with yellow lips. 

The best of the bunch are the four aliens that were never released in the states.  The Ferengi tends to be the hardest to find and he is the only one to include an accessory.

This is a nice set of figures for Star Trek, science fiction & 3 3/4" figure collectors.  The six crew members will mostly be easy and inexpensive to collect.  However, the foreign only released aliens may cost you a few dollars and a little searching.  the good news for those interested in completing this set is the aliens have come down drastically  in price .  They at a time easily fetched $80.00 each.  However, with some searching you may be able to find all four aliens for around that price. 

Blue Swat by Bandai
In 1994, perhaps the peak of the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers success in the states, Japan continued to release Sentai TV shows and toys to accompany them.  Some of which were sold in the states such as Beetleborgs &VR Troopers.  However, it appeared American children didn't want anything similar without the Power Rangers name. 

I did watch an episode or two of the live action Blue Swat TV show but it was all in Japanese.  Therefore, I really didn't know what was going on but I assure you the plot was no more complex than the Power Rangers.  The toys on the other hand where much more sophisticated than your average Power Ranger action figure.

From my knowledge there was a total of five figures made (4 of which I own) and some cool vehicles including a couple of motorcycles and a police car.  The good guys virtually all look identical with only slight color variations to the costumes.  The only figure that looked different was (I believe) named Platinum.  I'll get back to him in a moment.

Each Blue Swat figure stands approximately six inches tall and features a cloth outfit.  They also feature a plethora of accessories including a die-cast metal chest plate, helmet and assortment of guns.  There was also a deluxe hero which featured a great deal more armor and weapons plus a bunch of storage crates.  He is perhaps the one to get if you were to only get one of the heroes.  The figures are well articulated accept in the arms.  They could have used elbow joints.  Otherwise, they pose very well.  The human heads are rather tiny but it is to better fit the helmets and the figures look much better with the helmets on.

Now back to "Platinum".  I'm not sure if he is a bad guy or not but he features no cloth but he is made primarily of die-cast metal with some plastic.  He also includes a strange rubbery black figure.  I wish I could tell you the significance of it but I can't.

My assumption is the television series and toys made by Bandai did not fare well in Japan or their most likely would have been more characters made into toys.  Surprisingly, these import only figures are neither very tough to find or extremely expensive.  They can be found for reasonable prices considering the quality.  Are they worth owning?  I suppose that depends on your tastes of course.  I like them as they sort of remind me of a smaller Spiral Zone action figure and considering there are only five figures in the set, it is easy to complete.  However, if you were to choose only one figure I would either recommend "Platinum" or the deluxe figure who probably contains the greatest amount of play value. 

It will be interesting to see if interest builds on some of these Sentai series' in the future seeing the popularity of Power Rangers in the states and overseas.  What amazes me most is while all the other similar import live action TV shows and toys have come and gone, Power Rangers are still one of the top selling toys for young boys.  Perhaps a secondary market will blow up in say, ten years and create more demand for the other Sentai toys. 

Universal Studios Monsters 3 3/4" series by Remco







There are many widespread properties where it makes no difference when you were born you are still familiar with them.  One of those distinct properties are the Universal Studios Movie Monsters featuring such legends as: Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Creature From the Black Lagoon, The Phantom of the Opera and The Wolfman.  These movie monsters are so popular that to this day, toys and other merchandising continues to be churned out by a plethora of different licensing companies.  Since the creation of action figures there have been toys of the Universal Monsters.  However, my personal favorite and some of the most collectable are the 3 3/4" series made by Remco in the 1980's.

There were technically two series of these figures, one's that featured glow in the dark skin and ones that did not.  The glow in the dark versions tend to be the more common.

I remember as a child seeing these on the pegs at my local toy store in all their glory as they featured some of the best card art to date.  However, some figures were much harder to find than others.  I never once saw the Mummy or Wolfman in the toy store and the Creature was sparse at times.  Dracula, Frankenstein and the Phantom of the Opera are definitely the most common both now and then.

Each figure is well sculpted and look very similar to how they looked on the silver screen.  They are especially nice considering their small scale.  Each figure stands 3 /4" tall and features Star Wars type articulation which was the popular format of the day. 

As I mentioned there were both glow and non-glow figures.  The most obvious variation is the Creature.  The non-glow version is a dark green as the glow version is a neon green.  Perhaps the dark green version is more screen accurate.  However, I find the glow in the dark version more appealing.

This series are highly collected as there is a large demand for Universal Studio's Monster collectable's.  However, most of them can be had at reasonable prices but you may have to pay a premium to get your hands on the Mummy and Wolfman.  There are only six figures in this set (unless you consider the variations) and the set is well worth completing.  Toy companies continue to produce toys of these classic monsters but I have yet to see renderings that capture my interest as much as Remco's pocket-sized versions do.

The Black Hole by Mego

After the enormous success of Star Wars, movie studios were pumping out sci-fi adventure films hoping to capture the magic of Star Wars.  Toy companies were also jumping on the band wagon eager to benefit from their successes.  Unfortunately for movie studios and toy companies nothing could rival the success of Star Wars.  Nevertheless, the attempts did provide the world some good sci-fi /fantasy films and action figures as well.  One of my favorites is Disney's, The Black Hole.

Other than the robots, especially V.I.N.cent, The Black Hole was not your typical Disney fare.  As a matter of fact, it was a rather dark film with a great plot and the film still holds up today in my opinion. 

Mego jumped at the chance to make action figures.  Mego produced a series of nine figures in the states and three very hard to find figures in Europe.  The three figures only available in Europe happen to be some of the coolest figures in the series which includes: the blue Sentry robot S.T.A.R., Old Bob and best of all the Humanoid.  I'd love to get my hands on them but  unfortunately they are beyond my financial means, plus I would prefer them loose and they don't show up for sale often complete and loose.  I've opened vintage figures before but these three would be very difficult to do due to their extreme rarity.

The nine figures that were available in the states are rather nice.  Each human has G.I.Joe type articulation.  The biggest flaw is the lack of paint applications on the faces particularly the eyes. Also, it is important to note that Captain Holland and Charles Pizer have a tendency to yellow easily.  Maximillion, V.I.N. Cent & the red Sentry are the highlights of the American released figures.  Naturally, because they are the robots and also the most difficult to find.  Both Maximillion and V.I.N.Cent include a stand that can be difficult to locate.  The Sentry robot came with a laser gun which is also difficult to find. 

There were proposed vehicles intended for release of the Palomino and Cygnus however, the only vehicle produced was the Laserscope Fighter which was identical to the Buck Rogers toy.  It was only available in European release.

If you are a fan of the film (and how can you not be) this is a worthy set to complete.  Most of the humans can be found at reasonable prices but expect to pay more for the robots and as I said, if you choose to attempt to locate the international released figures expect to break the bank.  However, If you have the extra money they are worth it (I only wish). 

The Legend of the Lone Ranger by Gabriel Toys 
The 1980's was a grand time for action figures.  I remember going to Toys R' Us as a kid and they had three long isles dedicated to action figures alone.  There was such a great variety of products.  Ah, memories.  I always remember that third isle being dedicated to clearance items or some less marketed action figures and it was here where you could find Gabriel toys, Legends of the Lone Ranger action figures.

Gabriel Toys did not have a long tradition of action figures.  From my research mostly Zorro and The Lone Ranger figures but the company has been around for awhile.  Zorro & the Lone Ranger where very similar toy lines and were virtually interchangeable.  Both series are 3 3/4" and cowboy themed.  The sculpting was very well done and very well detailed and articulated for the time.  Most of the articulation was placed so the characters could sit on the horses.

Each figure and horse was individually carded on a very artistic card back.  They also made two packs of figure with their horse.  There was no animated series or film to support this line.  Gabriel Toys was most likely banking on the characters classic appeal and recognition to sell themselves. 

As I said, they weren't great sellers as they where in the second tier toy isle but the figures were well done and matched their legendary counterparts very well.  I can't imagine who else Gabriel Toys would have made had they gotten to a second series but I can't say I'm a Lone Ranger or cowboy aficionado.

I think this series is perfect as is.  The five figure series and horses make them easy to collect.  The hardest part in collecting them loose is finding complete specimens as the guns are rather small and most likely easily lost by the children who bought them.  It is worth noting that the Lone Ranger himself has a problem with the blue plastic.  Over time, it appears the plastic fades making mint versions tough to find.

This is a great little series of figures for both 3 3/4" figure collector's and cowboy fans alike.  With only five figures and horses it makes it easy to complete and they aren't very expensive.  However, like most 1980's action figures, they are starting to finally appreciate in value.  Therefore, if you have an interest in this series it's best to jump on'em now while they can still be found at reasonable prices.

Voltron by Panosh Place & Mattel





The mid-1980's were all about big transforming robots and nobody did them better than the Japanese, hence the imports of Transformers, Go-Bots and Voltron. 

Voltron was slightly different than the other two series.  It was more in line with another Japanese import, Robotech where it was more character driven.  However, the difference between the Voltron cartoon and the Robotech cartoon was one was good and the other, not so good.  Nevertheless, the not as well translated animated series, Voltron had one thing Robotech did not,: robotic lions that formed a large cool robot.  This single attribute was enough to sell Voltron to kids starving for cool robots.

Arguable the coolest import Voltron toy was the Bandai Lion-Bot version which featured quality plastic and die-cast metal.  Due to different licensing rights in Japan, many knock off Voltron toys snuck into the US making it easy to find the big bot in one form or another.

Panosh Place, a little known toy company did something different by expanding the world of Voltron not only with just the giant robot toy but a line of 3 3/4" action figures and play sets that coincided with the cartoon. The action figures were well done and had the anime feel of the cartoon as well as the vehicles and play sets.  I'll never forget walking in the toy isle of a Big Lots and seeing three kids on the floor opening and playing with the Voltron headquarters.  Sure, I wanted to play with the impressive base but my mother taught me better.

Each Lion could fit it's appropriate figure and also form Voltron.  It wasn't the best looking Voltron toy out there but it was big and was very interactive with the rest of the toys. 

Somewhere along the way Panosh Place relinquished the Voltron rights to Mattel toys.  I don't know the details of this transaction but you can find this Voltron series with either the Panosh Place stamp or Mattel.  The Panosh Place versions seem more common as Mattel acquired Voltron at the tail end of it's popularity.

The figures consist of every figure you really need to relive the animated series.  There are all five Voltron pilots and a half dozen bad guys to battle.  The figures are not incredibly expensive.  However, to find them in nice shape with their helmets and other accessories can be somewhat of a challenge.  With all the 80's nostalgia coming back, I notice prices have risen on this series.

This is overall a nice series of well crafted and colorful characters worthy of any Voltron appreciator.  Get them while you can.  With rumors of a live action film coming soon, they will surely become more desirable.

The Golden Compass by Popco Entertainment








Does the Golden Compass really classify as vintage status? No not considering if you are lucky you may still find a few of these gems lingering in the clearance isle.  Nevertheless, not a lot of attention was given to the movie nor the action figures.  Therefore, I am taking the initiative to provide some sort of coverage.

The Golden Compass film was highly underrated as it's grouped in with the Harry Potter world of films.  I felt the movie itself was much more interesting and inspired than all the other recent children book adaptations including Potter himself.  Unfortunately, movie goers didn't seem to agree.  For me this is especially disappointing because this not only means that I don't get to see how this trilogy would have played out on screen but I also don't get more action figures by Popco Entertainment.

Popco entertainment is a division of Corgi toys; a mostly European company.  As far as I know, Toys R' Us was the only retailer that sold these figures to the mass market.  So, other than internet stores or Toys R' Us, you would have quite a difficult time finding these figures and they didn't get replenished.  Once they were gone, they were gone.

Popco produced a great series of highly detailed 3 3/4" action figures (my favorite scale).  Each figure represented their character on screen well.  So, whether you wanted a figure of Sam Elliott or the new James Bond or even Nichole Kidman, Popco delivered with great likeness to the actors.  Each figure included their appropriate accessory which includes their Daemons. 

The figure's weren't loaded with articulation and for me that was okay because they made up for it with detail and quality paint applications.  They also used a quality plastic which is becoming rare in the world of action figures.

Some of the highlights of the series are the two large polar bears and Lee Scoresby's Airship which was a great vehicle that was eventually clearanced out for about ten dollars. 

It really is a shame when a good film get's a nice set of action figures and does not receive the appreciation it deserves.  This is one of those lines that I hope garner a cult following throughout the years but for now most figures are cheap unless you want Lord Azriel and strangely Serafina Pekkala was tough for me to locate but even these can be found for under fifteen dollars.

If you appreciated this film, score this wonderful set now before they are long gone and forgotten because I highly doubt the toy scalpers stocked up on these which means they will be harder to find more so than expensive. 

VR Troopers by Kenner





In the early to mid 1990's nothing in the toy world was more popular than the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.  The rangers ruled the toy isles and the air waves with it's low budget live action television show of the re-edited Japanese series using American actors.  No toy line could compete with the enormous success of this corny series.  However, that doesn't mean  toy companies didn't try. 

One of the attempts to reap the benefits of the Power Rangers' success was Saban's VR Troopers.  The show was produced by the same group who worked on the Power Rangers but the toys were made by Kenner.

Kenner continued to use their signature format of detailed action figures with a lack of great articulation.  The average figure was about five inches tall and was well designed and sculpted.  Personally, I think the overall look of the characters are better than the Power Rangers but children did not agree as the series only ran for about two years. 

The series focused on Three VR Troopers, Ryan Steele, J.B. Reese and Katlin Star.  each character had a few different incarnations including deluxe versions and removable virtual armored figures which are rather difficult to find as they were tail enders to the action figure series.  The bad guys are the true highlight of this series including such characters as, The Decimater, Skug and the hard to find Air Striker and General Ivar.

The figures were eventually clearanced out at KB Toys for 3 for $5.00.  This was (as far as I know) the only way to obtain the final series of the action figures. 

If you are just interested in the three regular troopers, they can be found cheap but if you are wanting to complete the set you may have to really spend the time searching some of them out especially Air Striker and General Ivar (which I still don't have and don't even know whether it was even released).  If you do find them, they can most likely be had for a cheap price unless the dealer knows how hard they are to find. 

I have chosen to collect just the main characters and the bad guys.  However, the deluxe versions of the troopers and the rare versions featuring removable virtual armor are well worth collecting.

The VR Troopers action figures are a very well designed series.  I never once watched the show and I think it's better off that way.  Perhaps if I did, I would have no interest in these toys whatsoever no matter how cool they are.

Waterworld by Kenner




In 1995, Hollywood and Kevin Costner gave us Waterworld.  Many pan this movie as being one of the worst films of all time.  However, amongst the haters there are a few who thought: hey, it wasn't that bad.  I am one of those few.  I think the hate comes with the over budget and Kevin Costner's inability to act unless he's in a baseball film.  Nevertheless Kenner hoped this movie would be a giant hit and produced a series of eight action figures and a few vehicles (boats).  Now, where as I liked this movie, I can't say it is the most deserving of an action figure line especially targeted towards kids.  Perhaps, that is what makes this action figure line so unique.

The set contains six individually carded figures loaded with brightly colored weapons, a transparent colored sea creature and missile launchers the size of Costner's legs.  If you take away all the inaccurate silly weapons that was a staple in the 1990's when it came to almost every action figure series, you have some well sculpted figures including a first time figure of Dennis Hopper as the evil Deacon.

The action figures are standard for Kenner.  Each figure is about four and a half to five inches tall with little articulation.  However, Mariner looks like Kevin Costner and Deacon looks like Dennis Hopper. 

In addition to the six carded figures there where two jet skis that came with a figure each.  One with a bad guy (Smokers) and one which came with Mariner (Costner's character).

Had this series excluded the big weapons and the bright colors, this would have been a decent companion to the movie.  However, would it have really mattered?  Only perhaps to a few fans (including myself).

Yes, the movie was DOA and so where the toys as they where quickly clearanced out by all retailers that carried them.  There isn't a great deal of demand on the secondary market for these thirteen year old action figures.  However, I speculate that in another ten years (assuming the action figure market is still strong), collectors may take interest in this line whether for its campiness or perhaps there are more fans of the film than I expected.  Either way, Waterworld toys are interesting.  I find toy lines based on film failure's very fascinating.

All the Waterworld figures are currently cheap and easy to get with Dennis Hopper's Deacon being the most desirable.  Buy them now while they are cheap cause just like the 80's, some of the most obscure toy lines find their audience and eventually so will Kenner's Waterworld.

Power Lords by Revell
The model company Revell were obviously best known for making models not toys.  However in 1983 Revell decided to enter the action figure market with the science fiction oriented toy line, Power Lords.

The Power Lords were supported by only a 3 issue comic book series by DC Comics that told the story of Adam Power, an Earthling given powers by a Jewel to protect the galaxy from the evil Arkus and his band of creatures.

Each figure was given a special feature.  Adam power could turn from human to a veiny blue man with the push of a button.  Other figures shared similar push button features.

The series featured ten regular six inch scaled figures plus a few vehicles and deluxe creatures.  There was also a set of wind-up toys and PVC eraser type figures that are rather difficult to locate.

Power Lords was/is grossly underappreciated as they are some of the most ambitiously designed action figures of it's time.  Many of the figures still hold up today.  They featured great articulation for the time and very cool weapons.  It's unfortunate that they ended up on the clearance rack too soon but an action figure line in the 1980's not supported by an animated series was doomed from the beginning.  There was far too much competition.

Many of the Power Lords figures can be very difficult to find.  Particularly the later series'.  Including, Tork, Disguyzor, Bakatak & the female character, Shaya who came with a plethora of accessories that could be easily lost.  Thankfully for a collector who wants to complete this set, there is only a small following for this great line but they are willing to pay the price to complete their set.  So, expect to pay good money for complete mint figures

Adam Power and the Power Lords is a great line and worth the hunt and the bucks you may have to shell out.  It would have been interesting to see what else would have come out by Revell had the line been more successful.

Flash Gordon by Playmates




In 1996 Playmates toys attempted to bring one of Science Fiction's greatest hero's into the spotlight with a new contemporary take on Flash Gordon and his allies and enemies.

In addition to the toy line there was an animated series which I never once saw and I'm certain few others have as well.  I can't say I'm not curious though.  Perhaps, one day the very short lived series will make it's way to DVD until then...

The action figures themselves are rather nice especially considering they came out in the 1990's (in my opinion one of the worst decades for action figures).  Some of the aspects of this toy line I do like are the bright colors used.  They go well with the usually campy aspects of Flash Gordon. 

There are a total of eight figures in the set.  None of which are hard to find or expensive.  However, I suppose the females, Dale Arden and Princess Thundar are slightly more desired as in the 90's, female figures were short packed and all the rage for collectors. 

The character updates themselves are rather interesting.  For the most part Playmates toys stuck with the basics of these characters other than Vultan who is brightly colored and now an African American.  Nevertheless, he is one of the standouts of this series.  I also like the regular Flash and Dale Arden.  Both are well done figures.  However, the entire set suffers from Playmates toys signature high gloss paint finishes.  Some may like the glossy look.  However, I prefer my action figures dull coated with specific parts glossy as needed.

The cheesy part of the series are the hover boards each figure comes with.  I understand Playmates was trying to target that younger audience and in the series Flash Gordon is a teenager but, I think they're rather silly.  The figures also lack much articulation and are slightly pre-posed as most figure's from the 1990's were.

Surprisingly it's the bad guys that are on the weaker side in appearance particularly Ming the Merciless.  Who looks more monster then man.  I think a more character accurate homage would have worked better.

These figures are not expensive or in demand.  Therefore, completing this series is easy and affordable.  If you have an appreciation for Flash Gordon this set may be worthy of collecting.  Although, less than perfect, this is in my opinion one of the more interesting revivals of classic heroes during the 1990's.  With that said I'm much happier with Bif Bang Pow's action figures from the 1980's film.

M*A*S*H  by Tristar International LTD.

As a child I was definitely a couch potato kid.  Every time a show I'd be watching would end and the next one would start with helicopters flying and that incredibly depressing theme music would start playing, I would quickly change the channel.  I never understood M*A*S*H.  As I got older something happened, I didn't change that channel and you know what, I liked it.  M*A*S*H soon became part of my late night TV regiment.  I still have never seen the original movie in it's entirety or the final episode but I have watched many in between and loved most all of them.  However, I never in my wildest dreams would ever think this was a show to market towards children but Tristar International LTD. seemed to.

Tristar made all the major characters (more or less) and even two versions of Klinger: One in regular army fatigues and the other in drag.  The Klinger in drag figure is easily the most difficult and most desired figure. 

The figures are rather well done and look very much like the actors they are intended to.  Each 3 3/4" figure has good articulation but none came with accessories (not that I could think of any accessories that would be appropriate). 

The collection also came with a few vehicles including, Jeep, Ambulance and Helicopter.  Each of the vehicles came with a figure intended to be a generic soldier however, they just popped on Hawkeye's head on and painted the hair differently or not at all.

This is a nice set to have if you are a fan of the show and most of them can be easily found in good shape as the paint applications were fairly limited but they can break easily. The Klinger in Drag figure may cost you a few bucks more than the rest of the set but it's worth it.  How revolutionary for a toy line marketed to children in 1982 to include a figure of a man dressed like a drag queen?  Perhaps, that was noted by Tristar and that may be the reason he is harder to find.  Also, note that Hawkeye was packaged with both light and dark hair even though the light haired figures are associated as the vehicle drivers.

Altogether, as far as I know this was Tristars only attempt in the action figure market and they made a solid line of 3 3/4" figures that no kid would have bought accept perhaps to interact with their G.I. Joe figures. 

Clash of the Titans by Mattel
In 1981 Clash of the Titan's hit theaters.  Loosely based off the Greek myth, this movie was fun and filled with characters aching for action figures.  Ray Harryhausen provided his brilliant stop motion creatures that may not quite hold up to today's standards of effects but were revolutionary for the time.

Mattel Toys produced a total of six toys for this set.  The Kraken being the hardest to get is the only one not pictured.  The figures where well sculpted and fit in with the figures of the time.  The package art is especially fantastic and is much better than the bright colored, busy packaging of today's action figures.

This series could have definitely used at least one more series.  I would have loved to see a Medusa, Bubo and Zeus.

The set itself is not incredibly hard to complete other than the Kraken.  You may have a hard time finding Perseus' horse Pegasus and a Calibos without broken tail.  Also, as usual, the weapons can be a challenge to find but this set is worth owning if you are a fan of the 3 3/4" scale, a movie fan or just appreciate Ray Harryhausen's work. 

Butch & Sundance: The Early Days by Kenner




Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid is one of those classic films that everyone should see (if you haven't already).  The movie was released in 1969, well before the true establishment of merchandising from film action figures.  That really took off during the Star Wars boom around 1978.  Hence action figures for the not so critically acclaimed sequel Butch & Sundance the Early Years released in 1979.  I've never actually seen this sequel.  However, I should just for the sake of owning almost the entire collection of rare figures by Kenner.

Kenner was on a roll with Star Wars and perhaps thought that if Space adventures can translate well with audiences, perhaps so can westerns.  Whether it was the lack of success of the movie or kids were just way into Star Wars, the Butch & Sundance figures failed at retail so poorly that they are a true challenge to find today.

The figures themselves are rather nice and are the obvious precursors to the Adventures of Indiana Jones action figures by Kenner.  I even believe the same horse were used and why not?  They look great!  The figures even have the quick draw action but these figures have a button on the back to activate it instead of just being spring loaded.

The package art is absolutely beautiful and a work of art in itself.  They don't make card backs like this anymore.  The colors and the character drawings have a complete western feel. 

There were a total of five figures, two horses and a rare stagecoach released for this line plus a few more figures planned that never saw retail.  Obviously, Butch & Sundance are the more desirable and most likely the easiest to find.  Each figure came with the same rubbery dark blue pistol that are nearly impossible to find with the figures.  They are not only small but well....they are really small.

The other figures include Sheriff Ray Bledsoe, Marshall Joe LeFores & O.C. Hanks.  I'm not even sure if these characters were in the film but I have to assume so. Also, both a brown and white (I still need) horse.

This is a great set of figures for both fans of the films and those like me who are rather obsessed with 3 3/4" action figures especially those of the late 1970's and 80's.  If you can find them loose & complete consider yourself lucky but they will most likely cost a pretty penny and the same goes for mint on card specimens.  The artwork alone is worth the price though.

Sectaurs by Coleco




Sectaurs was one of the most innovative action figure series' of its time.  Each figure was about 6-7 inches tall and came with a bug counterpart.  The deluxe figures came with a puppet style large bug with battery operated features plus real furry grossness.  The single boxed figures were accompanied by smaller bugs that usually contained an action feature of sort. 

The Sectaurs had an animated series to help push the toys to better success but must have had a bad time slot because I have no recollection of it..  They also had a small run of Marvel comic books and each figure came with a small comic book similar to the ones Masters of the Universe figures came with.

The figures themselves were incredibly well sculpted and featured lot's of articulation especially for the time.  Each figure was half bug and half man.  Not only were the figures well sculpted but so where the weapons and accessories.  each figure included a rubbery strap to hold their accessories. 

As the story goes, there were two factions, the Dark Dominion and the Shining Realm.  The good guys were led by Dargon and the bad by Spidrax and of course they were brothers. There is more to the story I am sure but this is the core conflict.

Coleco produced the Sectaur toys in 1985 and a second series of prototypes were made but unfortunately never saw the light of day.  Pictures can be found around the internet and you can see they would have been a great addition to this collection.

Sectaur figures have their own cult following and are appreciated by many who remember the short lived action figure series from the 1980's.  The figures loose incomplete can be found pretty cheap but due to each figure having so many accessories, it is much more of a challenge to find them complete.  Boxed figures can also command a reasonable price on the secondary market especially the deluxe figures with the large bugs. 

This is a great collection to own.  I have almost a complete set and would also like to upgrade my Dargon deluxe figure but the pictures provided should give you a nice guide of most of what is out there. 

War Planets: Shadow Raiders by Trendmasters

War Planets by Trendmasters started out as a series of planet play sets that opened up to reveal action scenes and little soldier figures similar to what Micro Machines has done with the smaller Star Wars play sets.  They had it's collectors but Trendmasters totally switched gear.

In 1998 Mainframe Entertainment, the same studio that brought us Reboot and Beast wars CGI animated series' created the show loosely based on the War Planet concept.  They gave it a subtitle, Shadow Raiders.  I remember watching the show enough times that I hoped for action figures based on the shows characters such as, Graveheart, Pyrus, Warrior Jade, Cryos, Beast-Commander Blokk and the Beast-Trooper. Shortly after the showed aired Trendmasters announced and showed figures of the characters defined in the CGI animated show.  They looked cool but pictures can be deceiving.  Trendmasters did basically two series of figures, a six inch scale and a 3 3/4" scale.

I waited and waited but never saw these on US toy shelves.  I assumed the line had just been canceled as the show was.  That was until I went to the Toys R Us in Windsor, Canada.  I lived not too far from the border and would on occasion take trips to Canada to see if they had any cool stuff we didn't.  That was when I saw a rack of War Planet: Shadow Raiders figures in both scales.  Most of the products were already on clearance.  I wasn't really interested in the larger figures since they were more expensive and I prefer a smaller scale anyways.  The figures themselves were rather crude and disappointing.  I bought three of the figures.  The only one that they had that I didn't pick up was Warrior Jade but the baddies were all sold out.

The figures are loaded with weapons and accessories and the packaging was really interesting.  I wish I could say I liked the figures better.

Fast-forward about eight years.  I have half the collection and now want the rest.  Isn't that always the case?  These are not expensive at the least but do have a small cult following.  They don't show up on online auctions often but when they do, the few fans usually start bidding wars for them. 

So, any Canadians out there or Americans that got a hold of these when they were plentiful, help a fellow collector out so I can truly provide a spotlight for future collectors of this obscure toy line.

Battlestar Galactica by Mattel Toys

During the late 1970's, every retailer wanted to make money off the success of Star Wars, hence a boom of Sci-Fi adventure movies and TV shows.  Battlestar Galactica is one of the most beloved.  I admit to owning the film on VHS and attempting to watch it but I always ended up falling asleep and I've tried several times to watch the entire film.

Interestingly enough, Battlestar Galactica has made a huge comeback but primarily in name only with the huge success of the Sci-Fi Channel's original TV show.  I've watched a couple episodes here & there and I love the tone of the show but I think this is one of those shows that is kind of hard to just jump into.  I really need to start at the beginning but I haven't found the time as of late.

Nevertheless, getting back to the original series action figures produced by Mattel, they followed the "star wars format" of 3 3/4" figures each coming with the appropriate accessory.  Most of the figures were well sculpted, however, the humans: Starbuck and Commander Adama did not have painted eyes, leaving them with a blank stare.  They also came with very small guns which are always harder to find than the figures themselves.

There were two Cylons produced, a silver version and rare gold version.  they were nice looking figures for their time but lacked any leg articulation.  Also worth noting, is the paint often wore off quickly. 

The line also featured two of the adorable robotic dog creatures: Daggit's.  One was brown and the other tan.  These can become very desirable because their tails are often broken. 

The second series are by far the harder figures to obtain.  As I mentioned, there was the gold Cylon, Boray (who also does not have articulated legs), Baltar and Lucifer.  Lucifer (in my opinion) is by far the coolest looking of the set. 

Other then finding the small accessories and a the second series figures, this is a fairly easy collection to complete.  With only 11 figures total it was a small series.  However, Mattel did produce a 12" Cylon and soldier and a smaller scaled Cylon Raider and Viper vehicle along with other smaller scaled vehicles not compatible with the 3 3/4" figures. 

There are plenty of Battlestar Galactica toys to collect, whether from the new series or the classic series that is filled with some fun looking aliens and robots.  I do wish they would have made Boomer and Apollo.  I think that would have really rounded off and completed this collection.





Ronin Warriors by Playmates
This was by far the most difficult spotlight for me to put together for many reasons: Ronin Warriors have tons of parts and I think each figure may have come with different colors depending on the batch you got, there are a lot of generic parts so it was hard to remember if this guy had two ninja stars or one, I wasn't as organized as I usually am on this set and finally, my dear friend Dave is the exact opposite of me when it comes to organization.  Now, I totally understand that I am incredibly anal and at one end of the spectrum but Dave (who has a complete set) is not only too lazy to dig them out but he probably threw everything in a bin without separating weapons or anything.  To each his own but that's not the way I do things.  Therefore, even after a good four hours of research there may be a part out of place and if there is, please let me know.

Ronin warriors was one of those lines imported from Japan expecting to have great success like the Power Rangers.  It did not but it did produce a great line of action figures and from what I hear a great series of cartoons.  I wish I would have seen them.  I have watched Youtube clips and it looks cool.

Playmates produced eleven regular figures and two that came with horses.  These figures are very well done and very colorful.  Perhaps a little too colorful.  I  wish they would have toned down the color of the weapons but then perhaps it would have been even more difficult to match them up then it already was.

It seems like these figures aren't very old but they were released in 1995.  thirteen years old already!  Maybe they seem more current because toy company "re-Play" reproduced these figures for KB Toys about three years ago. 

Most of the figures blend in with each other since they all have a similar aesthetic of armor.  Color and a few minor details are the only thing that separate them.  I do feel the figures look much better without their samurai helmets.  The helmets fit okay but look a little large.

Ronin Warriors are a good cheap toy line that are reasonable enough to buy carded and then open them.  Cause I think finding a loose complete collection would be very challenging.  As I said, these are fairly inexpensive but give them ten years and we will probably see the prices jump.

C.O.P.S. n Crooks by Hasbro

In the late 1980's Hasbro decided to give another in-house property a try.  This time instead of army related soldiers, they went the route of futuristic Cops "Fighting Crime in a Future Time".  Hasbro used a similar formula of the long running G.I.Joe figures.  However, instead of 3 3/4" figures, these were 6" figures with a gimmick.  each figure included some sort of cap firing accessory.  It was a neat gimmick but I am not certain that was what sold the figures. 

What I find interesting about C.O.P.S. is they are almost the precursor to what Marvel Legends and other highly articulated 6" figures are today. 

There are a total of 29 figures.  There are five that where only available with their respective vehicles.  I am a big fan of this toy line as you can tell a lot of imagination went into it.

C.O.P.S. was accompanied by an animated series.  I remember as a child watching it almost daily.  I remember the animated style having a different feel and look to your average 80's animated show.  However, I haven't seen these episodes in years.  I believe the full series is available on DVD.  An item I wouldn't mind picking up.

The C.O.P.S. were led by Bullet-Proof.  He looked like a leader but more of an office type commander.  I suppose until he revealed under his trench coat, a cyborg chest full of metal.  I always thought of Longarm as more of a field leader.  He was sort of like the Duke of the team.  He had the blonde hair and his outfit was most traditional to a police officer. 

Other than Longarm some of my favorites are Highway (my first figure), & Powder Keg (who was loaded with accessories).

The Crooks looked like your typical mobsters, bank robbers and mad scientists all led by the large "Big Boss".  Buttons McBoomboom was clearly the coolest of the Crooks with a guitar case that opened to reveal a Tommy gun.   Like most toy lines I was partial to the good guys as some of the Crooks looked rather ridiculous.

There are pictures floating around the web of Hasbro catalog photos of a new series.  I've seen the pictures and as there are a few gems, there are also some figures that make me question the direction they were taking or simply the design team was running out of steam.  Don't get me wrong, I would have loved to get my hands on another series.  However, perhaps it is better the line stopped when it did.

The C.O.P.S toys have picked up steam on the secondary market.  They can be especially difficult to find loose & complete due to the quantity of accessories each figure came with.  With 29 figures to collect, it is a fun line to complete with some challenge and costs involved but shouldn't make you go in dept.

Robotech by Matchbox/Harmony Gold










I discovered Robotech as a young child when it first aired in the US starting with the Macross Saga.  I was drawn to it's level of sophisticated story telling and space opera themes and of course, transforming robots.  Perhaps introducing the Robotech series to young American children wasn't the smartest marketing idea.  Not to insult my fellow Americans but perhaps, we have to short of attention spans for such a complex ongoing story line but I was totally into it. 

To simply break down the three Robotech chapters: The Macross Saga is the original Robotech series.  This is the one that features Rick Hunter , Roy Fokker and Lynn Minmei.  Following the Macross Saga was Robotech: Masters.  In Japan, Masters had nothing to do with the Macross saga and was a completely separate story called Southern Cross.  Harmony Gold dubbed the story to fit in with the characters such as Dana Sterling: Daughter 0f Max Sterling and Miriya.  This was definitely my least favorite of all three series.  Finally, was Robotech: The New Generation.  Which again in Japan was a unrelated to The Macross Saga and was known as a wonderful series called Genesis Climber Mospeada.

The action figure line produced by Matchbox in the mid-80's where 3 3/4" figures with G.I.Joe type articulation.  the plastic was relatively fragile and the paint jobs crude.  Some figures were well sculpted like: Scott Bernard and some were horrible such as: Corg.  To keep with the accuracy of scale there were the larger sized Zentreadi Warriors.  Those figures stood about 6" tall.

There was a nice mix of figures from all series.  However, there were so many core characters I wished were made such as: Captain Gloval, Ben Dixon, Lancer and Claudia Grant. 

Each figure was accompanied by their appropriate accessories which were relatively accurate to the shows counterparts.

Matchbox originally release the figures and many vehicles in the mid 80's during the cartoons television syndication.  Many figures were very easy to find including:  the Robotech Masters, Rand, Lisa Hayes, Zor Prime & Breetai.  However, many of the figures were virtually impossible to find including: Lunk, Scott Bernard, Max Sterling, Roy fokker, Zentraedi Miriya, Rook Bartley and Lynn Minmei: Who was shown on the back of the package and was never released by Matchbox.  Some of the harder to find figures started showing up on clearance at KB Toys toward the late 80's.

In the mid 1990's Harmony Gold got a hold of the Matchbox molds and released many of the figures including the long missing Lynn Minmei figure.  Surprisingly, Harmony Gold did not do a great job of improving the plastic or the paint jobs.  Most figures were identical with some figures having slight paint differences.  Another figure that was included in the Harmony Gold series that was left out of the Matchbox incarnation was a purple suited Miriya. 

Surprisingly, The release of the Harmony Gold figures did not greatly affect the market on the rare figures.  They can still get rather expensive and sought after.  The easy figures to get remain cheap but getting your hands on some of the harder to get figures can be quite challenging and expensive.  By far the most difficult and expensive figure in the line is, Lunk.  I have only seen him for sale very few times.  Never at retail but occasionally he pops up on Ebay and sells between $100-$150 on card.  I was ecstatic to find mine years ago under twenty dollars.

Regardless, of some of this series shortcomings, it is a great line to collect.  I always dreamt that some company would produce highly detailed 3 3/4" figures of the human characters but as far as Robotech goes, the market is really geared towards the wonderfully designed mechs.  Maybe one day but until then, if you liked any or all three of these animated classics, this is a fun line to collect with enough challenges and variations to keep it interesting.

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century by Mego

After the success of Star Wars, everyone was trying to get a piece of the action.  Space movies and television shows were popping up everywhere.  Some good and some plain awful. 
Buck Rogers in the 25th Century is based off of the old space hero from the 1928 novels and many TV shows and other media outlets for the character throughout the years.

Of course Buck Rogers was revived conveniently in 1979 first as a feature movie and immediately followed by a TV series that ran for two seasons. 

I have a very faint memory of the show as I was just a little tike.  However, I do remember Twiki.  Who could not?  During the late 70's Sci-Fi boom, every space product had to have a cute little robot similar to R2D2 and Twiki was just that for this series.

Mego made nine figures for this series.  They were each in the 3 3/4" scale and featured the more prominent characters.  Each figure was well articulated similar to that of G.I.Joe.  However, these figures were very fragile. Fingers were easily broken and many of the rubber bands that held the figures together at the waist have not stood the test of time so well.

Surprisingly, only one figure came with an accessory: Draco came with a vinyl cape.

Mego also produced for this series a pretty nice array of vehicles including: Buck Rogers Star Fighter Laserscope Fighter & Draconian Fighter.  There were some other nice looking play sets and vehicles that I don't believe ever made it into production.

In addition to the this assortment of figures.  Mego did produce a line of Buck Rogers dolls in a 12" scale.  However dolls never interested me as a child and don't today as well.

The 3 3/4 inch series of Buck Rogers figures were fairly well done.  However, the most notable glitch is the lack of paint applications to the face (mostly the eyes) which really took away a lot of the lively look.

Most of these figures can be found rather easily both carded and loose at very reasonable prices.  The most difficult and expensive figures are Twiki and Buck Rogers and Wilma Deering (mostly due to the fragility of the thumbs and the commonly found yellowing of the white plastic).

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves by Kenner



Robin Hood; Prince of Thieves was perhaps the last of a dying breed of the 80's action figure movie format.  At least for a decade.  What I mean by that is: a static action figure with a resemblance to what is seen on screen and including only the appropriate accessories.  Throughout the 1990's almost every movie inspired toy line included figures in pre-posed positions and usually accompanied by a huge missile firing weapons.  This is not to say that Kenner produced a perfect line with this series of figures.

To be honest, I'm not sure a toy line ever used so much retooling as Robin Hood.  Each figure was cloaked in soft goods to hide the figures true origin, weather it was used from the Star Wars or Super Powers series of figures, the results were not half bad and the soft goods were well put together. 

On to the movie for just a quick moment.  This movie was critically panned and Kevin Costner was especially criticized for his "attempted" British accent.  I have not seen this movie since its theater release but I do remember being entertained at the time.  However, perhaps if I watched it now, I would trash it.  I think I will have to Netflix it. 

Back to the figures.  As I said, they were reused molds from previous Kenner toy lines.  Friar Tuck was a Gammorean Guard body, Will Scarlett used a Super Powers Robin body, both Robin Hoods used Green Arrows chest and so on. 

However, I'm not sure this affected the overall look of the figures as I said earlier they were covered in well crafted soft goods.

Best of all was the packaging.  It is very reminiscent of Star Wars.  each character had a nice photo of himself on the package.

Thankfully, many movie action figures have gone back to the old simplistic ways of the 80's including figures from: Zizzle's 3 3/4" Pirates of the Caribbean series and the Golden Compass figures from Corgi. 

Take these figures as you will but I think it is a nice collection of eight figures well covered to reminisce what you kind of saw on the screen without missile shooting action (I can't believe I'm defending the Robin Hood toys)!


Steel Monsters is another obscure and long forgotten toy line of the 1980's. 

Steel Monsters were hoping to ride the wave of success of Bigfoot and Monster Trucks.  I admit to going to one of these events as a child and all I remember was how loud it was.  I had no idea what was going on.  However, I suppose it was kind of neat to see trucks with tires twice my size.  Nevertheless, the figures were released in two ways, carded (which I have never seen in the stores as a kid).  I know  they exist because I've seen many of them for sale.  I think it may be one of those things where certain retailers chose to carry the figures one way and not the other.  As a kid I was a Toys R Us, KB & K-Mart kid.  I rarely went to Children's Palace.  There wasn't one that close (or so my mom told me).  However, I do remember on occasion going to Children's Palace and they carried some cool toys that Toys R Us never did like Godaikins and other large die-cast robots.

Anyways, back to Steel Monsters.  The other way the figures were sold were with the vehicles.  They were saran wrapped to the box.  They were very easy to steal and you would often see the vehicle boxes with missing figures.

Steel Monsters were not supported by a cartoon nor comic.  Therefore inevitably died out due to the intense competition in the action figure isles in the 80's.  The figures themselves were very cool.  As a kid Metal Face was my favorite.   To my knowledge, there were 8 different figures.  Including some of the more difficult to find female figure: Tygress.  I only have half the set and would love the rest.  I continue to search out these well designed 3 3/4" figures reminiscent of Star Wars figures (most likely due to Tonka and Kenner owned by the same company.  It was also the popular format of the day).

The figures themselves can be found rather cheap loose.  Anywhere from a dollar to $20.00 each.  However, if you find them carded or with their vehicles and the dealer knows what they are, you may be looking at about $50-&150 per figure/vehicle.  Thankfully it is a small set to complete but finding them is the true challenge and well worth the hunt.

MANTECH by Remco
In the 1980's, one thing is for sure: Toy company Remco had a fairly dominant amount of shelf space for their variety of lines.  Some very innovative (Crystar, Mantech & glow Universal Monsters) and others were almost a carbon copy of other successful toy lines such as He-Man & G.I.Joe.  However, Mantech was definitely creative and a fun toy line all around.

Mantech consisted of a total of six figures.  Three good guys & three bad guys.  Each figure's name matched their specialty.  For example: Aquatech was obviously a water expert, etc.

What set Mantech apart from any other toy line of its time was each figures ability to interchange parts.  This was not limited to just weapons and accessories but also arms, feet, heads and so on. 

Each figure had a similar aesthetic.  Most likely to make the inter-changeable parts look and fit better.  The biggest difference between each figure were the colors, head and accessories.

Mantech did not fare well on toy shelves and never made it past its initial assortment of six figures and a few vehicles/playsets.  One of Remco's biggest downfalls and most likely the reason they are not around today is the lack of commercial support.  What I mean by that is most successful toy lines of the 80's were accompanied by an animated series.  For example:  G.I.Joe, Masters of the Universe, Transformers and so on but when it came to Remco toys, the most support they really had were perhaps comic books.  Crystar was solely supported by a Marvel comic and Warlord was based on second tier DC characters.  As for Mantech, they included a mini comic book to give you an introduction to the toy line but it was not enough to make a dent with its competition. 

These days, on the secondary market, Mantech remains one of those lines that people vaguely remember and there is not a large fan base.  Therefore, they do not get too expensive.  However, it may be somewhat difficult to complete a set due to all the pieces being removable and therefore, easily lost. 

Mantech may have inspired other future toy lines like Centurions but they will most likely never get their rightful due except perhaps here in the Vintage Report.

Note:  I have five of the six figures.  I am missing Negatech and would certainly be interested in one if anyone out there has it.  Other than that, I do have some extra's for sale.

Warriors of Virtue by Play em Toys

The 1990's wasn't exactly the best decade for action figures but perhaps it's due to the 80's being so good.  Nevertheless, in the 90's many new concepts were used in action figures.  In some cases they were good like: increased articulation & nice sculpts.  However, there were many bad aspects too.  Like a lot of silly fluorescent colors, shooting weapons that didn't necessarily fit with the character and pre-posed figure/statues.  We also saw less in house properties.  As companies weren't willing to take as many risks on their own creative teams. 

Movie related toy lines saw the biggest changes of disappointment.  Where in the 1980's, a movie would get a full assortment of characters designed to look as they did on the screen and include only the appropriate accessories.  It seemed in the 1990's movie toy lines focused on the lead character by making him/her in a multiple of uniforms some never even worn in the movies.  Plus, they generally came with bright colored fluorescent missile launchers.  All I wanted was a nice set of figures that looked like what I saw on the screen.  This was a rarity in this decade until 1997.

I remember seeing the Warriors of Virtue toys (not yet released in theaters) on the shelves and they immediately interested me.  First thing I did was see what company made them.  My assumption was Kenner and I was wrong.  It was an unknown toy company called Play em toys. 

What attracted me to these figured was the array of characters.  Now a days an assortment includes maybe 6 to start but with Warriors of Virtue, there were 16 different figures to choose from.  Some of course harder to find than others especially the females.

Even though I had no real source material to compare them to they looked like they would on screen.  I loved the colors used.  Many are very earthy tones and the baddies of course, wear a lot of black.

each figure came with only the appropriate accessories and each character is very unique.  Finally, a toy line that has me interested in seeing the movie! 

From what I could tell this movie was a cross between TMNT and something like the Neverending Story.  Both right up my ally. 

I bought every figure I could find and actively looked for the one's I couldn't.  And than the movie was released.

I was excited to see this movie.  I love fantasy and judging by the toys, I was expecting a great adventure.  I admit I don't remember the movie very well.  However, I remember watching it thinking I liked it but knew deep inside that it was not very good.  It looked good but from what I remember the script was poor and the acting was not up to par.

The story was similar to those of the underdog kid.  He gets picked on for his disability and somehow gets transported into the land of Tao.  He is rescued by five humanoid Kangaroos each baring the symbol and powers of the five elements & virtues.  The boy of course with the help of the Kangaroo humanoids save the world of Tao. 

The lack of love for the film did not discourage me from finishing this set of toys as it is still one of my favorites from the 1990's and perhaps I will Netflix Warriors of Virtue and see if I enjoy it more now that my anticipation is not as high. 

These figures can still be found easily and cheaply and well worth it even if my memory of the source material isn't of great fondness.


The New Adventures of He-Man by Mattel




Shortly after the fall of the original Masters of the Universe line, Mattel re-launched their staple hero with a new series basically just called: He-Man.  This new series was accompanied by an animated series that was not in heavy rotation and many may not even remember its existence.  I remember seeing one or two episodes but I could not remember a single plot point or whether I even enjoyed it or not.

The major difference between the original MOTU and The New Adventures of He-Man is the later took more of a science fiction approach.  This is not to say MOTU did not have plenty of sci-fi influences: Roboto, Man-At-Arms, many of the vehicles and accessories.  Basically no more fuzzy loin cloths.

The figure aesthetic was quite different as well.  The figures were not in such a slouching position and there was some added articulation in the knees.  There were some well designed & memorable  characters in this toy line.  Particularly, Optikk, Tuskador, Hydron amongst others.  Surprisingly, the weakest link were the main characters He-Man & Skeletor.  They each had several different incarnations and none of them really stood out.  I think it's a major problem when your title character is not as interesting as the supporting cast.

The series lasted roughly four years and some of the tail enders are incredibly hard to find.  It's not like the original Masters of the Universe line where every kid had at least a few of the figures.  This series was not very popular.  I myself am still searching for a few of the last series figures. 

The New Adventures of He-Man is probably the most underappreciated of the the three different He-Man series and perhaps rightfully so but there were definitely some cool designs and ideas going on here.

Wing Commander by X-Toys


I'm not so sure if 1999 is really considered "Vintage".  Perhaps, I should change the name from "The Vintage Report" to "The Obscure Toy Line Report".  Considering many of the lines I cover get very little attention.  Nevertheless, I felt it was appropriate to give X-Toys line of Wing Commander some sort of....well, I guess I would say, exposure.

First, let me start by saying that I acquired this set of figures before even seeing this movie.  What attracted me to them was not the need to have a Freddie Prinze Jr. action figure but I am a sucker for 3 3/4 inch action figures.  The set of figures themselves are rather nice.  They sort of remind me of the classic Star wars figures.  The articulation is identical with just your basic arm, leg and head joints.  The head sculpts are rather terrible as they look nothing like the actors who played these characters in the movie.  Each figure comes with pretty much the same two guns but they seem fairly appropriate. 

Now back to the movie.  I heard nothing good about this film and even though I am a sucker for almost any movie with spaceships and laser pistols, I somehow managed to avoid this one altogether but as soon as I acquired a set of the figures, I netflixed the movie right away.  I was most curious. 

Wing Commander is by no means a good, inventive or original movie but, I do admit to being entertained.  Now, I wouldn't add this movie to my DVD collection or anything but it was better than many of the other corny space movies that come out and I owe that primarily to the British actors.  I always find, if you add British actors to a movie it adds a little integrity.  I'm not going to delve a whole lot further into the movie but I do want to mention that after watching it, I noticed one of the coolest of the figures (Pilgrim Traitor) doesn't even appear in the film.  I suppose his scenes got cut out. 

Back to the toys:  This set consists of a total of eight figures.  Two of which are different outfitted Freddie Prinze Jr's (Blair).  I am not sure whether X-Toys are still in business but overall, I like this set of figures primarily because of the scale and other than their relatively generic head sculpts, they are fairly film accurate. 

This is a cheap set of figures to complete and doubt there will ever be a large demand for them but in the same token, it's sometimes these strange toy lines that were ignored, that collectors choose to hunt down years later and with so few of these around...well, you never know.

For anyone interested, I do have some of these for sale in Misc.Movie Figures

Sky Commanders by Kenner


Ah, the 80's!  Many can complain about this cold war paranoid period of history,  The decade can easily be criticized for its bad fashion and mostly uninspiring pop music but one thing is for sure, due to end of the restriction ban on cartoons made to sell toys, we got to see some of the most wild and creative toy lines ever produced.  Some were successful and some were utter bombs.  One of those bombs was Kenner's Sky Commanders. 

The concept was simple yet inventive.  each figure was accompanied by a vehicle/backpack with a cable line to allow the figure to slide from one end to the other.  As a kid, I always thought it would be cool to have a room set up with a ton of these figures with crossing cable lines to unleash a mass transit system of string sliding heroes.  Unfortunately, my collection count only ever reached one. 

Apparently, Sky Commanders did have an animated series.  However, I don't recall ever seeing it or remembering it ever even having a time slot.  I'm sure the limitation of the shows air time did not help this toy line but even if it had a good time slot I doubt it would have amounted to a whole lot of success for toy sales.

I thought the toys were cool.  I liked the smaller scaled figures each with a unique backpack for flight.  They were all well sculpted as most Kenner toys in the 1980's were.  However, they were all fairly generic looking.  It was really hard to tell one from the other and I even believe many figures were repainted and given different names.  I think the standout of all the figures was General Summit (leader of the good guys and the one Sky Commander I owned as a child).

No matter how unique the gimmick was, it was obvious that Kenner did not put their top marketers on this line and therefore resulted in a short shelf life for Sky Commanders and thus resulting in a forgettable line. 

Nevertheless, Sky Commanders do have a charming quality and a lot of play-value to them.  These figures and vehicle sets can be pretty tough to come across but if you do, they shouldn't break the bank.

I am still trying to complete a set.  Therefore, I am unable to picture the entire series but here is what I have.  Enjoy!

Rock Lords by Tonka (Bandai)

Whoever came up with the concept of rocks that transformed into robots may have been smoking rock.  No matter how bizarre the idea seems, as a child, I not only bought into it as a toy line but I was actually one of the few who saw The Gobots: Battle of the Rock Lords movie in the theater and own it on VHS (I am anticipating its release on DVD).

The movie itself was mediocre but entertaining nonetheless.  The Rock Lords are no different than any other good vs. evil story except for they have the ability to turn from rock, stone or jewel into robots or robot like creatures.  The good Rock Lords were led by Boulder.  Boulder was in my opinion the best looking of all the toys.  Where as some of the Rock Lords looked silly or more monstrous than robot, Boulder looked heroic.  The evil rocks were led by Magmar voiced in the movie by none other than Telly Savalas. 

Unlike Gobots, Rock Lords each came with an accessory.  There were even a couple of vehicles to accommodate the rocks.  In addition to the the Rock Lords, there were little pets for them called Narlies.  They were covered in foe fur and featured a pull back & go action.

The Rock Lords endured three series of figures.  And like many toy lines, the last series are the hardest and most expensive.  The third series featured "Jewel Lords".  The Jewel Lords featured transparent plastic.  The most sought after Jewel Lord has to be "Solitaire" the female character from the movie.  Many of the third series were only made available in Europe and Japan.

The Rock Lords were not very popular in the 80's and aren't very popular now.  However, there is still a collector base for them.  Prominently Gobot collectors.  I think regardless of interest in the line, there are still quite a few gems (pun intended).

Road Bots by Marchon

During the 1980's, it seemed like every toy company was riding the Transformers wave of success.  You could find some sort of transforming robot anywhere including your local drug store.  Some of these converting knock offs were good and some were bad.  Road Bots from Marchon were somewhere in the middle.

I had the cement mixer as a child.  It was a gift from my aunt and uncle.  It may not seem like a glorious gift but at the time I was a very happy little tike.  In recent years, I spent many hours on the internet researching what toy line this once adored gift was from and I finally found the answers I needed.

Road Bots are somewhat unique to all the other transforming robots because in order to change from truck to robot the parts need to be disassembled and reassembled.  The transformations in my opinion are rather interesting.  I especially like how the robot head for the cement truck hid in the mixer.

None of the figures had names or any back story.  Each truck came in multiple colors.  Mostly either reds and yellows or blue & silver. Each truck is "friction motorized". 

Marchon released the Road Bots in 1984 (at least that is the trademark date).  They are tough to come by but primarily because there is not a whole lot of interest in them.  Therefore, they are inexpensive if you do find them.

No these are not Transformers or Go-Bots for that matter but compared to some of the other transforming robot toys that littered the toy isles in the 80's, Road Bots did have personality and something different to offer. 

Silver Hawks by Kenner



Almost any child of the 80's remembers the Thundercats.  Most can recite the theme music or at least recall how hot Chetarah was for a cartoon character (at least I thought so).  However, not all may remember a similar incarnation by the same creative studio, the Silverhawks!  This is not to say the Silverhawks didn't achieve any success just not nearly on the same level as Thundercats.

Even though I spent many hours as a kid watching the Silverhawks cartoon when I got home from school, I can't seem to recall much of the plot but I certainly remember the characters: Stargazer was the bald commander, Quicksilver was the leader, Bluegrass was the guitar playing pilot, Copper-Kidd was the strange little alien kid and Steelwill & Steelhart were the twins.

Although Thundercats was a far bigger success; I always thought the Silverhawk toys were far superior.  Each figure had great sculpts that was usually expected by Kenner.  Also, the figures had non-obtrusive action features mostly activated by gently pressing the figures legs together.  The Silverhawks and the bad guys led by the evil Mon-Starr each included a bird counterpart.

The Silverhawks lasted two series of figures.  The second series was loaded with the main characters in different suits.  However, there were some nice originals including my favorite, Flashback. 

This toy line certainly has it's followers.  Many figures can be had at reasonable prices but some like Quicksilver with Ultra-Sonic suit can be quite expensive and difficult to find and remains the one figure I need to complete my set.

Crystar by Remco




It seems like there were far too many under appreciated toy line in the 1980's.  There was so much creativity put into these imaginative new worlds designed to turn a quick buck following the success of Star Wars, He-Man, G.I.Joe & the Transformers. 

Crystar was an especially fascinating concept.  It was one of the first toy lines to use transparent plastic on primarily the entire line!  And who doesn't love toys with transparent plastic?  I know my buddy Brett from Ssalefish Comics does! 

Crystar is the story of two brothers who were ripped apart when the evil wizard Zardeth persuaded one of the brothers: Moltar, that he knew the way to help bring peace to the city of Galax.  Of course, he was really evil and only wanted to create chaos.  Nevertheless, somewhere in this story there is also a good wizard who provides the good brother: Crystar his powers to stop his now evil brother.  If you want more juicy details, read the Marvel comic.

The action figures were well sculpted and have adequate articulation for the time.  They are well accessorized with your typical fantasy weapons such as: swords, axes, maces and crossbows but best of all each figure came with a "Prisma-Crystal" that can be looked through and make it appear that there are a dozen of the warrior you were looking at.  Unfortunately the prism doesn't work all that well and it kinda just makes everything blurry.

The good guys (Crystal Warriors) were all transparent (accept the good wizard Ogeode) and the bad guys were not.  There are two dragons:  The Crystal Dragon and the Lava dragon.  The Crystal Dragon is extremely hard to find with the wings.  There was also a Crystal castle. 

Crystar toys are not incredibly expensive.  However, they can be challenging to find especially complete with all their accessories. I, myself am still trying to complete a set. 

Perhaps with a little more support other than a Marvel comic, Crystar toys would have been more successful but with a glut of action figure properties ruling the toy isles, it probably would have suffered its same fate. 

The Adventures of Indiana Jones "Raiders of the Lost Ark" by Kenner





Arguably, the best series of adventure movies ever! Raiders of the Lost Ark surprised everyone with it's high dose of action and suspense.  During the 1980's, a successful film meant toys! 

Who better to produce a line of Raiders of the Lost Ark action figures than the same company who brought all of our favorite Star wars characters to life?  Kenner was on top of the game in the 1980's.  Kenner produced a set of figures similar to their successful Star Wars line by sticking with the playset/vehicle friendly 3 3/4 inch scale.  However, with added knee articulation.  Each figure is quite accurate to their movie counterpart and includes appropriate accessories.

The most difficult figures to obtain are Indy himself and Marion Ravenwood.  There was also a mail-away Belloq in robes which is quite easy to find unless you want a carded specimen which was released towards the end of the line in small quantities.  Toht and the Cairo swordsman were very common and can be found at reasonable prices today.  There are a total of eleven figures(and a horse).  Two of which were only available with playsets (Indiana Jones in Arabian disguise & the Monkey Man). 

There are no disappointments with this line of figures and I certainly wish it had continued with another assortment or two. 

There have been other toy lines based off of the Indiana Jones' movies including: Temple of Doom by LJN and ones created exclusively for the Disney theme parks but neither have the same quality or magic that Kenner provided.  If only  Hasbro would grab the license and do a line of figures from all three Indiana Jones movies similar to their approach with how they are currently handling Star wars.  I am certain it would be a big hit with collectors.  And, if not, I would certainly be thrilled.

Visionaries by Hasbro
Just as the success of Hasbro's G.I.JOE was winding down, Hasbro needed to find other successes to make up for the dwindling interest in the Real American Hero.  Perhaps, they thought Visionaries was the answer.

In the late 80's nothing was cooler than hologram technology and what a better way to use this great wonder than incorporate it in a magical toy line?  Thus, the birth of Visionaries

The visionaries used the same articulation formula as G.I.Joe but the figures were about an inch taller.  Each figure was clad in a futuristic knights armor and featured a personalized weapon, helmet and staff.  The staff along with a hologram on the chest revealed each characters spiritual animal.  I know there was a movie length animated feature to explain the origins of the spectral knights.  However, I'm not sure a full series ever got off the ground.  I do recall seeing the animated feature years ago and I quite liked it but unfortunately, I don't remember a single plot point.  I do remember the leader of the Spectral Knights had a silly mustache.  I'm not sure why but as a kid, that mustache always turned me off from the entire line.  Nonetheless,  it was a solid line of figures and vehicles.

Perhaps other young children were turned off by Leoric's mustache as well because Visionaries did not last very long.  Most figures can be found at fairly inexpensive prices.  However, to find them complete may be the true challenge. 

Tron by Tomy and Medicom


Tomy & Medicom Tron figures include:







If you asked me, the two coolest "special features" for a toy line are: Transparent plastic and/or glow-in-the dark components.  Give me both of these in one toy line and I'm in action figure heaven!

Tron as a film, was revolutionary.  It was one of the first to use a computer animated style.  To some, the movie looks aged compared to today's standards of F/X but to me, the character and vehicle designs top most of the stuff featured in sci-fi flicks coming out today.

Tomy produced four transparent action figures and three cycles (rumors of a blue cycle circulate but I have never seen one other than the Neca reissue from a couple of years ago).  Each figure came with a glow in the dark disc accept the "Warrior" came with a glow in the dark staff. The cycles all had a pull string action allowing the bike to zoom across the kitchen floor.  These toys were well sculpted and underappreciated like the movie. 

Just a couple of years ago, Medicom released a set of very hard to find action figure and cycle combo packs.  I was fortunate enough to get a set of these very articulated 3 3/4 inch figures with bikes.  The figures are glow in the dark but feature no transparent plastic.  They look perhaps more movie accurate. 

Both of these sets are must haves for any movie toy collector and can both be very difficult to find. However, as stated above, Neca reissued the original Tomy figures and cycles and can be had at a fairly reasonable price. 

Willow by Tonka




You've gotta ask yourself two questions: 1) Can you really consider these action figures? and 2) Does this line really warrant a gallery?

The answer to the first question is a bit tricky.  No, there is no action (no articulation) in these figures but really it's no different than a lot of the stuff McFarlane Toys is putting out these days.  I would consider these more of a line of figurines marketed as action figures.

The answer to the second question is yet again, a bit tricky.  I will say, yes!  Tonka's line of Willow "figurines" deserve a gallery.  I would have perhaps preferred a full line of four inch action figures to go along with this mediocre George Lucas/Ron Howard film but I am happy to at least have some sort of plastic likeness of the fine array of characters. 

Tonka produced a line of twelve single carded figurines, four horses with riders and one huge Eborisk dragon toy (not pictured). The figures are about three inches high and are well sculpted in dynamic poses on a metal stand.  There were a few variations of Willow himself:  The carded version was blue, the green version was a mail away through Nestle candy bars and the first version of Willow came with a small baby but I believe due to child safety laws (kids are always swallowing things), they discontinued it.

No,, Willow wasn't a great film and no, these figures aren't perfect.  However, they are a nice set that take up little room and make for great battle displays. 

Machine Robo Change & Glow (CG)

Machine Robo, for those who don't know was what became the Go-Bots in America back in the 1980's.  To much debate, the Go-bots were the original transforming robots and as I mention frequently throughout my numerous rants, one of my all time favorite toy lines. 

In the early 90's Machine-Robo cam back in Japan with Change & Glow.  From what research I was able to do, there were 14 figures.  They are all a little bit bigger than the original Machine Robo figures standing about 4 to 5 inches tall.  They are made with a combination of plastic and die-cast metal.  The plastic is the dominate material used and feels cheaper than the plastic used on the 80's toy line.  However, it is very durable and there seems to be little risk of easy breakage.  Each figure has a light-up feature.  The light up features are activated by gently pushing in the lights.

Each figure comes nicely boxed with character art on the front.  Instructions and a sticker sheet are also included.  I am unsure whether this toy line was supported by an animated series in Japan.

Thus far, I have been able to obtain five of the fourteen figures, and even though these aren't nearly as superior as their 80's counterparts, I like them enough to want to complete the set.  If you have any of them for sale, feel free to email me.




The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers by Galoob



I only wish I could provide more information and photos for this toy line.  This was one of my favorite cartoons as a child and dreamt of action figures of Goose and the rest of the rangers.  However, my dreams never came true.

That was until I got a little bit older.  I found out in Europe Galoob made a short lived toy line of these futuristic cowboys that were scheduled to be released in the U.S. but plans were canceled. 

Each figure stands about six inches tall and has an "action feature" lever on their back to lift up their arm for quick draw action!  From what I understand, this line was marketed somewhat similar to the Bravestarr toy line.  I believe backpack accessories were sold for the figures for interactive play.

The series consists of six figures and two horses. Plus, some role-play guns and the interactive backpack accessories.

I only wish I had more of these to share but they are somewhat hard to come by. This is another toy line I would love to complete but most of all, I wish one of these independent toy companies would try tackling a new line of figures of the Rangers. 

Please feel free to email me if you have these for sale or trade or would like to correct any mistaken information I may have provided.


Animax by Schaper

The Figures include:

Max Action, Rhinox, Tarmac, X-Tingtor, Torrendus, Grease Kicker & Gross Out

I don't know what it is about all these animal toy lines that I like so much!  Battle Beasts, Thundercats, Silverhawks &...Animax? 

Yep, Animax is definitely one of the forgotten.  An interesting series of men dressed with animal heads who rode mechanical vehicles (that looked like animals) who battles pigs and Baboons!  The good guys were on the "Lite Side" and the bad guys were the "Motor Mutants".  As far as I know, there was no animated series to support this concept.  Only a Marvel (Star) comic book that didn't even make it to issue ten.

These toys were made by a small toy company called Schaper.  As a kid I only remember seeing these at Toys R Us and the good guys were very hard to find.

As I got older and my search for them started up again, they were again very hard to find but I did and I am a bit disappointed, for they looked so much cooler through the eyes of a child.  Nonetheless...

Xyber-9 by Bandai

The Figures include:

Jack, Willy, Ikira, Anakonda, Mick & Machestro

It's just a fact of the matter that as human beings, we all have different tastes.  Unfortunately for me, my love for the Xyber-9 toy line wasn't shared by the rest of the world.

Xyber-9 consisted of six carded four inch figures and a whole slew of vehicles and accessories.  The toy line was supported by an animated series which I confess, I have never seen.  Perhaps, it was bad or maybe kids are just far more interested in video games and Power Rangers

Nevertheless, I am quite fond of these little gems. Each figure is highly detailed and armed with a nice array of accessories.  The figures have a very "anime" look to them and the paint applications were nicely done with a dull finish.

I wish this line would have gone at least one more series.  I would have loved to see what other unique characters could have been added to this short lived series.

Tacky Stretchoid Warriors by Ban Dai
Tacky Stretchoid Warriors is perhaps the strangest action figure line ever (if you can even call them action figures)! 

Picture this (and then look at the pictures below): A gooey stretchy black stick figure body with a hard plastic head incased in removable plastic armor and a load of accessories!  Are you sold on the idea?  Well, I was.  Unfortunately Ban Dai was unable to capture the attention of American kids in the 1980's as well as they can today with their numerous successful toy lines. Twenty years ago, they didn't attempt the American market too often. However, several of their products did hit toy shelves usually distributed by other toy companies.  Most notably, The Go-Bots: as distributed by Tonka. 

Anyhow, Tacky Stretchoid Warriors were completely on their own.  There was no cartoon, movie, comic book.  I'm not even sure they did any advertising of any sort.  Perhaps, that was the cause of their quick death.

Titan A.E. by Kenner

The Figures Pictures include:

Cale, Korso, akima, Preed, Stith, and Dredj drone.





I make no apologies for liking the animated film Titan A.E.  Yes, I am aware the story is contrived.  But, that doesn't stop it from being entertaining.

Titan A.E. has all the expected archetype characters.  The young rebel, the girl, the "Han Solo" pirate type and the traitor.  It was a box office disaster.

So, how bout the toys?  Well, they could have been so good.  As with other movie toy lines of the 90's, Kenner and other toy companies felt it was important to include ridiculous accessories that had absolutely nothing to do with the movie or the character.   And, usually these gaudy accessories launched large fluorescent projectiles.  Titan A.E. pretty much followed this trend accept, the figures included little vehicles that launched large fluorescent  projectiles. 

The basic figures were pretty well sculpted.  The nicest of the sets were the Cale that came with the Valkyrie Ship and the Akima with the Turbo Surge Phoenix.  The figures lacked articulation but made up for it in detail.

With no surprise, the toys faired as well with kids as the movie did resulting in a rare last series including a figure of the traitor Preed.  This figure is one of the best and rarest of the entire line. 

I wish toy companies approached movie toys now, as they did in the 1980's with a figure of what the character looked like on screen and accompanied only by the appropriate accessories.  Oh well, I guess I always have the option to introduce the large, fluorescent missile launchers to the garbage can.

Monster Force by Playmates

The Figures include:

Doc Reed, Lance, Tripp, Dracula, Luke (Wolfman), Frankenstein & The Creature


As I mentioned with the Titan A.E. figures, the 1990's were a time of gaudy fluorescent colors and big missile launchers.  It kind of put a damper on some fantastic action figure lines.  Monster Force was one of those.

I am a fan of all the Universal Monsters (who isn't?).  Over the years there have been many interpretations of these infamous monsters.  To say Playmates captured them the best is a bit overstated.  However, it was the design of the heroes in  this short lived series that really caught my interest. 

Playmates has a tendency to sculpt all their figures in this strange, short, thick, bull legged look (think Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Dick Tracy).  You can see this in the Monster Force figures but you can also tell that Playmates was trying to change that strange standard they became accustomed to. 

As with most of the other short-lived toy lines of the 1990's that I liked so much, I also failed to ever see the cartoon for Monster Force but judging by the figures, it seems pretty easy to guess what it was all about.  Let me give it a try:  A group of humans in their special Monster fighting armor must stop the Universal Monsters (led by Dracula) from taking over the world.  So, what do you think?  I bet I'm pretty close.

Anyhow, these figures were by no means the best of the best but they were well sculpted and uniquely designed.  They came with an array of accessories (as most toy lines in the 90's did) and don't forget the big display stands!

After the success of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Playmates took many risks with strange concepts.  Even though Monster Force was far from successful, it is a nice little collection of monsters and the soldiers that hunt them.

The Pirates of Dark Water by Hasbro
Maybe I should re-title this section: "The World of Underappreciated Toys".  Cause that seems to be the theme with the action figure series I have chosen to spotlighted thus far and it doesn't appear to be changing anytime soon.

The Pirates of Dark Water was probably too early for it's time.  With the resurgence of popularity of pirates thanks to the super hit movie: The Pirates of the Caribbean, it would be interesting to see if "Dark Water" would have had a better chance in today's day and age.  Who knows?

The concept (from what I remember) was cool yet simple:  Pirates trying to stop "the Dark Water" from devouring the world.  And, of course when there are pirates, there is treasure.  The only way to stop the Dark Water is by finding "the thirteen lost treasures of rule".

The figures were well sculpted.  However, the articulation was a bit limited but nothing unusual for that time period of action figures.  They all came with a limited amount of accessories (only what was appropriate for each character).

I don't remember too much of the cartoon but I do remember there was quite an array of characters that could have been given the plastic treatment. 

Nonetheless, this is a nice set of figures that is easy to complete and relatively inexpensive.  I hope the series is released on DVD.  I would sure like to watch them again. 

Captain Power by Mattel
Captain Power may have been the first interactive action figure line.  The "Powerjets" reacted to a series of live action television shows.  Encoded signals would respond with the "Powerjet" if you were "hit", the jet would simulate being destroyed  and  vice versa.   I remember playing it once but I can't really remember how well it worked or how fun it was but the concept was inventive.

Mattel released ten figures plus two (rumored) foreign releases.  I say rumored because in all my efforts of research, I have never even seen pictures of them.  The figures are listed as: Dread Commander and Dread Trooper.  If anyone has any information, photos or even these items for sale, I would be very interested. 

The figures themselves were well sculpted and articulated.  They slightly emulate G.I.Joe but not quite as detailed.  Since Masters of the Universe, I always felt Mattel has had real problems in the action figure category.  However, the character designs are superb!  Especially the evil troopers: Blastarr Ground Gaurdian, Soaron Sky Sentry and Tritor. 

It's a fairly easy collection to complete and well worth the investment.

Mummies Alive!  by Hasbro



Mummies Alive?!?!

That's right!  One of the handful of decent toy lines produced in the 90's!

As with most of the toys I bought in the 90's, I never once saw the cartoon so I can't tell you how crappy it may have been.

Nonetheless, the figures are well sculpted and inventive.  I'm not sure how far this toy line could have gone even if it was successful because all the characters sorta look the same:  Kinda like...mummies.

There were more figures then the six I pictured.  However, they all had silly action features and looked like garbage.  Therefore, I never bothered with them and neither should you.

Back to the figures:  The paint applications were extremely well done and the accessories were very cool.  Especially, the removable head gear and body armor.  The articulation is limited but it was standard for Hasbro during the 1990's.

Mummies Alive really isn't that "vintage" but they are scarcely covered.  Therefore, I felt I should feature this obscure line only suitable for the hardcore (which, I am).

Dune by LJN





I am sooo glad I never read Frank Herbert's Dune.  Why, you ask?  Because I love the movie.  I am told by many fans of the book that they hate the movie. 

Whether it's because of the book or the confusing story, I suppose I understand those who don't like this bizarre David Lynch film.  However, I was a fan since my mother took me to see it as a child.  I don't think I could comprehend anything with the plot but it sure looked cool to me.  Cool enough to run out and buy a Paul Atredies action figure and Sandworm toy.  And yes, I played with it in my turtle shaped sandbox. 

These figures were sharp.  The likenesses to the actors were quite remarkable for the time and the accessories were well detailed.  The figures pretty much had standard articulation and included an action feature that was fairly unobtrusive. 

I really think it was too bad this line was so short lived.  I would love to have seen a whole slew of the many characters from the movie especially, Paul in Freman suit  which I customized ( please see customs). 

I know one of the contemporary independent toy companies are producing a Baron Harkonnan figure which I am looking forward too.  However, I really wish a full line of articulated action figures would be produced but I think there is little to no chance of that happening.

Nevertheless, this may be your only chance to ever own a Sting figure.  So, if you don't have these, go get'em!

Dragonriders of the Styx by Dimensions For Children( DFC)
Your first question should be:  What the hell is a Dragonrider of the Styx?!  And that my friend, is a very reasonable question.

The 1980's were a very schizophrenic time for action figures.  It was a tough market between space toys led by Star Wars and fantasy toys led by Masters of the Universe.  No, I didn't forget G.I.Joe.  War toys were a top priority too. 

For small toy company DFC, they appeared to go the fantasy route with a little twist by using the scale of the ever popular Star Wars and G.I.Joe.  There was no cartoon, movie or comic book to support this line and to be quite honest, these figures never warranted one.

Yes, it is true.  Dragonriders toys are quite crude even to yesterdays standards.  However, that doesn't mean they aren't charming.  There was obviously some creativity involved in designing these characters and they had solid play value. 

Dragonryders of the Styx can be tough to find but usually won't cost you an arm and a leg when you do and for you fantasy figure collectors or 3 3/4 inch figure lovers out there, this is a great set of 1980's nostalgia.

Please Note:  This is not the entire series of figures.  In addition there were some larger beasts and playsets. 

Starriors by Tomy




Starriors are one of the most underappreciated toy lines ever!  Why?  I guess because some people don't appreciate robot mechs. with interchangeable limbs and wind-up action chest/arms weapons.

Each five inch robot has a head with a cockpit featuring a small silver pilot and wheels on the feet for awesome rolling action (for when the robots are too lazy to walk).  Starriors are very similar to Tomy's other wind-up action toy line: Zoids, but I think these robots have more character and better more vibrant colors. 

These figures aren't incredibly expensive.  However, I have noticed quite a jump in prices over the last year.  Starriors can be quite hard to find especially, complete.  As I said, their limbs are removable.  Also, the second series figures are more challenging to hunt down. 

If Starriors were on the shelves today, I'm almost certain they would suffer the same fate as they did two decades ago and find their way to the clearance isle much too soon.  I guess kids just don't appreciate good ol' fashion wind-up warriors.