BATTLE FORCE 5 HOT WHEELS
BUTCH & SUNDANCE
CHUCK NORRIS KARATE KOMMANDOS BY KENNER
CLASH OF THE TITANS
COPS N' CROOKS
DRAGONRIDERS OF THE STYX
ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS
FAMOUS MINI MONSTERS
FISHER-PRICE ADVENTURE PEOPLE
FLASH GORDON/DEFENDERS OF THE EARTH
GI JOE VINTAGE
G.I. JOE VINTAGE 3 3/4 CARDED
G.I. JOE (2000-2006)
G.I. JOE 25TH ANNIVERSARY
INDEPENDENCE DAY ID4
THE LAST AIRBENDER
JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED
LEGEND OF THE LONE RANGER
MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE
MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS
MONSTER IN MY POCKET
THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS
THE OTHER WORLD
THE PIRATES OF DARK WATER
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN
PLANET OF THE APES
PRINCESS OF POWER SHE-RA
RAMBO & THE FORCES OF FREEDOM
THE REAL GHOSTBUSTERS
STAR WARS MODERN FIGURES & TOYS
STAR WARS VINTAGE ACTION FIGURES
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES
TRANSFORMERS: GENERATION 1
TRANSFORMERS: GENERATION 2
TRANSFORMERS: G1 ACTION MASTERS
ZAP POWER FORCE
TRANSFORMERS: BEAST WARS
TRANSFORMERS: BEAST MACHINES
TRANSFORMERS MOVIE TOYS
TRANSFORMERS: G1 MINIBOTS & SMALL FIGURES
WAR PLANETS SHADOW RAIDERS
TRON / TRON LEGACY
Welcome to "The Vintage
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
|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
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.
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
McCoy or series 2 aliens not pictured.
Storm Hawks 4" action figures by
|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"
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
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
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
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
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
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
|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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
The Legend of the Lone Ranger by
|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 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
The Golden Compass by Popco
|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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
|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.
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
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
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
This series could have definitely used at least
one more series. I would have loved to see a Medusa, Bubo and
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
|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
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
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
|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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Each figure was accompanied by their
appropriate accessories which were relatively accurate to the
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
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
|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
|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
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
STEEL MONSTERS By Tonka
|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
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
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
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,
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
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.
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
|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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
|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
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.
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
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
The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers by
|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
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
if you have these for sale or trade or would like to correct any
mistaken information I may have provided.
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!
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
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
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.
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
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.
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 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
It's a fairly easy collection to complete and well
worth the investment.
Mummies Alive! by Hasbro
That's right! One of the handful of decent toy lines produced in
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
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:
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
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).
|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
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
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
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
of the Universe. No, I didn't forget
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
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.
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
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.