Thursday, June 30, 2011

#34 GODDESS OF THE ULTRA COSMOS – GODDESS OF STIBNITE (1992)



When can we call a toy a knock-off? Most of the people I know would call this “Goddess of the Ultra Cosmos” a knock-off: it’s very similar to popular toy lines like She-Ra: Princess of Power (Mattel) or Golden Girls (Galoob), but this one seems to be of worst quality, and is made by an unknown toy company in Hong Kong.

The manufacturer of these dolls is Lucky Bell, but this figure is a re-edition. The same figures were packaged and sold a few years earlier by Agglo, another Hongkongese company specialised in low-cost toys and knock-offs of famous toy lines. That year was 1985, the same year in which the “She-Ra: Princess of Power” line was released by Mattel.

The package is poorly illustrated, and I guess it didn’t take much time the designers to create the story behind these goddesses (read it on the cardback, that text in the "Star Wars" style: "Long long ago, and far far away"). Each goddess reigns in a planet and three of them had the evil idea of conquering the other three due to the scarcity of natural resources in their home planets… poor against rich.


Unfortunately, I can’t write much about this figure, it is almost impossible to find information about the line, further than that the whole collection are 6 figures, and that each figure came with a “marble” horse. The same figures were also available without the horse (like this one). If you check the other figures, you’ll see that all of them include a cloth cloak, a mask, a shield and a sword, just like many She-Ra figures.

Even though I would also agree to call this collection a knock-off, I have to admit, that this is well done and is still a quality toy, the bodies of the figures have different casts and different hairstyles, the weapons are all different, they include a cloak made of cloth (presumably hand-made or at least hand finished). If I found any of the other 5 figures, I would buy it.

 
In Spain, this kind of figures was not sold in toy shops, but in street markets. Everywhere where a celebration, fair or procession was going on, came those vans full of cheap toys and candies for the children. Maybe that’s why some of this knock-offs are extremely difficult to find, maybe it’s just that there were only a few thousands of each made (in comparison to the millions of She-Ra figures, for example). With the time, some hard-core collectors of similar lines interest themselves for those bootlegs, and, as they are so difficult to find, the price raises a lot.
 
Please leave a comment if you want to add something or if you liked (or disliked) this article!

FACTS and FIGURES:
  • Name: GODDESS OF STIBNITE
  • Toy Line: GODDESS OF THE ULTRA-COSMOS
  • Year: 1992
  • Company: Lucky Bell (Hong Kong)
  • Size of the figures: 5½’’ or 12 cm

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

#33 CORGI – JAMES BOND’S ASTON MARTIN DB5 (1965)

In 1964, the third James Bond’s movie comes to the movie theatres in Great Britain and many other countries. It was expected to be the great success that it was, and the toy companies, again, tried to exploit the fame of movies and movie stars by selling toys for enthusiastic children who had already seen Goldfinger. This merchandising phenomenon is older than we think: it didn’t start with George Lucas and Star Wars, although he was the one who made it perfect, and became the reference to every other toy line, ever. Corgi has released through the years many different cars and vehicles from the James Bond’s movies, this is probably the most spectacular due to its beauty and moreover, because of its tricks. According to chezbois.com, it is probably the best-selling car by Corgi, with almost 4 millions units (3.974.000) sold. It was very difficult to find during the Christmas in 1965, due to the high popular demand.

I don’t want to spoil the movie, just in the very strange case that you haven’t seen Goldfinger yet, but let’s go directly to the the car… it is approximately 10 cms long, and it’s made of painted gold metal. The base or chassis is also made of metal but the interior is made of plastic. A very important piece of this toy is the small figure included in the box. Without it, the toy misses its whole value, and as you can imagine from its size, it is often missing.



Let’s go to the box. The box is made of carton and has a very reduced size, enough for the car and the instructions. The illustrations show the car with several appealing messages like “Special Agent 007”, “From the James Bond Film Goldfinger” or “Packed with Action”. At one of it sides, there’s a list with all the features of this car, at the other sides, nothing remarkable, but the brand, “made in Great Britain” and the Corgi logo. Inside of the box, there is a stand for the car in which the features are listed again, and two different artwork of the car (with the eyectable seat) are displayed, one at the front, the other at the back. A message in 8 languages reminds the owner of the toy to read the secret instructions, which in this particular car are missing. The last remarkable thing of the package, and its content, is that a sticker was also included. This sticker can be seen at the front of the inlay. It displays the typical 007 logo with the gun. It was intended to be applied at the collar of a shirt to play spies.


Inlay front - Note the sticker at the top of it.

Inlay back

In the next two pictures we can observe the front and rear parts of the car.



And here's a picture of the chassis. Note that there are two buttons at one side while the third one (more difficult to see), is located in the exhaust pipes. These buttons are obviously to activate the special features/tricks. The chassis shows nothing that is worth commenting, it's the classic chassis with the name of the model, the brand and "made in Gt. Britain". It does not specify any number (it's in the box -261-) or scale (1:46).


Now let's go to what's really special in this model: the secret operating features!

-Telescopic Overriders & Retractable Machine Guns: Both must be activated at one time, by pushing the button at the side which is nearer to the front side of the car.


-Rear Bullet Screen: Can be activated by pushing the exhaust pipes.


-James Bond in driver's seat & villian in copilot's seat: The figure of Bond cannot be removed. It is very well painted with a grey suit and black tie. The villain is depicted in another picture above. It wear s blue suit or maybe an overall and has a gun in his hand. When he's sitting he points with the gun to James Bond. Remember that in England they drive on the left.


-Opening Roof & Ejectable Seat: By pushing in the third button, the roof opens and the figure of the enemy is thrown upwards quite violently. Maybe that's why it was so easy to lose the figure.

Did you like this article? Leave me a comment!

FACTS AND FIGURES

  • Name: JAMES BOND’S ASTON MARTIN D.B.5 (Ref. 261)
  • Scale: 1:46
  • Year: 1965 to 1969
  • Company: Corgi (Great Britain)
  • Size: approx. 10 cm
Note: Click on label 'Corgi' to read more articles about Corgi models, or 1:43 if you're interested in 1:43 scale car models.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

#32 PIATNIK/ CEFA – DER MAGISCHE ROBOTER/ EL MAGO ELECTRÓNICO (Around 1958)

The people who usually visit this blog may have noticed that in the description, I talk about traditional and board games... until now there is not a single review that fits this category, but it is only because where I live I do not have any of these items and I cannot take pictures. This is the first vintage boardgame that I’m reviewing, but much more are coming.

The Magic Robot was developed by the british company J & L Randall Ltd. (also Merit) In the year 1950. This company marketed the toy during many years, and licensed it to other companies outside the United Kingdom.

In Austria “Der Magische Roboter” was licensed to Piatnik, the well-known card and boardgame manufacturer; in Spain it was licensed to Cefa, that changed the name to “El Mago Electrónico” (the electric magician); Jumbo released it in Holland, Belgium and France as “Robot”. This game was specially successful in East Germany, were it was released by Schmidt (that also made the release for West Germany) and Gordon. Many different versions of the game were available, as we can see here.

Spanish Cefa releases

The game was sold during many consecutive year (more than 20), and the boxes and papers were updated in most countries each time according to the taste of the time. As an example, you can compare two Spanish releases by Cefa toys. The left one seems to be older (around 1959, while the right one is more recent (maybe 1965?). The robot remained however unchanged, except in the alternate versions, like the sport quiz.

How does it work? In this game there are two rings. In the first one are the questions and the second one are the answers. With the small robot you can choose a question by turning the robot until it points to the desired question. Then you place the robot in the answer’s ring (the surface in which you place the robot is a mirror), and it automatically turns and points to the right question. It is obviously a trick. By turning the robot in the first ring, you are moving and positioning magnets behind the mirror that later position the robot to point the right answer. The effect is absolutely great, and still amazes children and even grown ups.


There are several pages (8 double-sided in the Piatnik version) with question and answers in several school subjects, like history, geography, science, literature…

As it was massively sold during decades, they’re not very difficult to find in one or another version.

FACTS AND FIGURES

  • Name: DER MAGISCHE ROBOTER / EL MAGO ELECTRÓNICO (original: MAGIC ROBOT)
  • Year: around 1958 (original: 1950)
  • Company: Piatnik (Austria) / Cefa (Spain) / original: Merit (Great Britain)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

#31 GUILOY – HONDA 750 FOUR POLICE (Ref. 277) and KAWASAKI MACH IV-H2 (Ref. 284) (1975)


It has been almost three months since I started this blog. One of my first articles dealt with a scale motorbike from the Italian company Mercury (see #2), which shared casts with the Spanish company guiloy. This time I’ll show a model made by this Spanish company. If I had a picture of both motorbikes, we could observe that they are exactly the same scale, built with the same materials, and both having the same quality. They are very detailed for that scale, more if we consider that it was made in 1975. In this model for example, we can appreciate the speedometer, the windshield, the antenna, beautiful stickers, turn signals,...
 
Most motorcycles like this one I have found in the internet have broken parts. The lights, exhaust pipes, antenna and windshield are often broken or missing. Although the toy is built strongly, it is not unbreakable, pay attention if you're looking for one of these.
 
As a curiosity, this same model was made by Matchbox in a smaller scale (~1:35) in 1977 (Police Motorcycle, Superfast Series, no. 33). It came with a blue rider, but without windshield or antenna, and the detail level is much lower.
 


Guiloy disappeared in summer 2010 after more than 35 years creating models of cars, trucks and motorcycles. The company started in 1974 producing 1:24 motorcycles (precisely this series, but also 1:32, 1:18, 1:10, 1:6), trucks since 1977 and cars since 1984 (1:64, 1:43, and smaller scales).

Although the first small scale cars were not specially well casted and done, its motorbikes are probably among the best scale models ever. In my opinion, they’re much better than the modern Maisto (Made in China, with many plastic parts), or Bburago. Their last catalogues were an amazing collection of motorcycles in several scales and cars in 1:18.
 
Picture scanned from a Guiloy Catalogue (1975), courtesy of Ángel Cabrera (artecar24, website not active any more)
 
As explained above, the italian company Mercury and Guiloy shared some casts, but this model seems to have been only available by Guiloy.
 
UPDATE: Another model found by chance at a flea market: Kawasaki Mach IV-H2, beautiful model in bright green
 
 
 


FACTS AND FIGURES
  • Name: HONDA 750 c.c. POLICE (Ref. 277) and KAWASAKI MACH IV-H2 (Ref. 284)
  • Scale: 1:24
  • Year: 1975
  • Company: Guiloy (Spain)
  • Size: approx. 10 cm

Sunday, June 19, 2011

#30 MICRO MACHINES – DELUXE COLLECTIONS I and II (1988)

The first Micromachines wave ever was made in 1987. It consisted of 11 packs of 5 vehicles each, including two sets with aircraft and one with boats. That makes 55 vehicles (plus a couple of minor variations). For the second wave, Micromachines made much more vehicles: 24 packs of 5 vehicles each plus 4 very special packs.

These first 24 packs included many new cars, motorbikes, monster trucks, military vehicles, boats, aircraft and so on, some of which were repaints from the first wave (these packs were numbered #1 to #24). The next 4 packs were something completely new; the first “special” Micromachines series, with a completely new reference number. They were called “Deluxe Collection”, and were numbered (I to IV). The special feature of these small cars was that they had practicable doors, bonnet and boot. That was a very nice feature at the time; it was some kind of magic, that such a small car could have practicable doors. As this cars were probably more expensive to made, in each pack came only 3 cars instead of 5.
 
The packs depicted in this entry are:
  • Deluxe Collection I, including a red Ferrari Testarossa, a black Lamborghini Countach and a silver Mercedes Benz 300SL “Gullwing”.
  • Deluxe Collection II, including a white Porsche 911, a yellow Jaguar E-Type and a black Pontiac Firebird.
 
Both packs were also available in 1989 (third wave).
 
In later waves, these same models were repainted and sold in other deluxe collections. In 1989 the collection was extended until collection XIII, in 1990 there were 13 new collections, including new models as well as repaints.
 
The 1991 wave, brought a new series with practicable parts, the X-Rays. These cars were the same deluxe cars but with transparent bodywork, and there were 4 collections made of them. The deluxe still existed as a series, but only 2 collections were released (and named European Exotics –the same in the picture, but repainted- and Space collection 2, breaking the I-XIII numbering). Since 1992, the Deluxe collections were discontinued, and only a few more X-Rays collections were released.
 
Check more "Deluxe" Micromachines here: #39.
 
UPDATE (JAN/2017): At the time I thught it was a good idea to display the cars like that. Now I would do it like this:
 


 
FACTS AND FIGURES
  • Name: Micromachines Deluxe Collections I and II
  • Scale of the cars: 1:150 aprox.
  • Year: 1988-1989
  • Company: Galoob (U.S.A.)
  • Size: approx. 2 cm

Thursday, June 16, 2011

#29 FIGURAS EN ACCIÓN (F.E.A.) Nr. 4



The fourth edition of the magazine "Figuras en Acción" is now out! We recommend to all those who can read spanish to download this free magazine here: http://figurasenaccion.blogspot.com/

In this edition, you’ll find interesting articles about Scalextric, Dungeons and Dragons, Hook, Sideshow Collectibles' G.I.Joes and some more. Some articles deal with Spanish toys and brands, like Playbig, which are very rare and unknown outside Spain.

The interviewed in this number is Roberto Helguera (a.k.a. Master Robert), who is the director of the magazine "Action Fan". Don't miss it!

The previous three numbers are also available in the same url.

Hope you like them!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

#28 MADELMAN 2050 – DARMAN, BRAN and KARSAN (1988)

This is the last article for now dealing with this wave of the great Madelman 2050. This time we will present the C.O.T.A. Men. Check entries #27 and #28 for the rest of the story.

The C.O.T.A. men have been appointed by the ministry of defence experts to repel the attack of the Zarkons. These men have been trained in the basetron 2050, somewhere in an arctic region. There, they have learnt the most important combat disciplines, the latest technologies and, most important, the magnetron force (antigravitational power and power to unmask the invaders when they are using their “human” faces).Magnetron Power!

Darman (Mechanic and test pilot): Darman has probably the best cast of the four C.O.T.A. men, specially appealing is his bubble helmet and the way it fits his suit. The figure also includes a rifle and a backpack. His artwork is also the best of all four figures, since it depicts the interior of some spaceship. Through the windshield we can see some vehicle that looks like a crossing between Tarantula and Scorpion. Probably this artwork was drawn before the vehicles were actually designed, and they took a prototype as a model. Darman is the Test pilot of the NAVESCAM factory, which has engineered and built the vehicles to fight the Zarkons.

Bran (Bio-time scientific): I always thought he was the commander of the group, because of the emblem in his jacket. This figure has the most simplistic cast of all C.O.T.A. men, and Exin was probably aware of it, because they gave him the most impressive weapon: a flying backpack with two guns at the handles, that is, some kind of mini-vehicle. He is an astronomer and a scientist.

Karsan (Psico-physical instructor): Karsan has somehow the same problem than Bran. It doesn’t look like a hero, not even like a man of action. That’s probably why Exin packed this figure with a spring-loaded missile launcher, to make the figure more attractive. This part was recoloured and reused for (or maybe from) many vehicles (Batrus, Falcon, Sentinel). A helmet and a backpack complete his accessories. Psico-physics seem to be a new science which consists in the physical control of the mind. I guess it had made more sense the opposite way (psychic control of the body), but well, it’s just a toy, it’s not real.

Update: Pictures of loose figures:

DARMAN:

FACTS AND FIGURES:

  • Name: DARMAN (Ref. 1501), BRAN (Ref. 1502) & KARSAN (Ref. 1503)
  • Toy Line: Madelman 2050 (Wave 1)
  • Year: 1988
  • Company: Exin (Spain)
  • Size of the figures: 3¾’’ or 9,5 cm


Sunday, June 12, 2011

#27 MADELMAN 2050 – SERPION, REPTIS and SAURIUS (1988)


I want to continue the previous article to present the rest of the figures of the first wave of Madelman 2050. Now it’s time to take a look at the rest of the Zarkons, the stories told in the comic books, and the artworks. Next entry will present the C.O.T.A. Men. Please remember to click on the pictures to enlarge them, so you can appreciate better the details.
These creatures from planet Zarkon are the first attack unit that has been sent to planet Earth. They the best specialists on the Zarkon army.
From the comic books, we know some important facts about them. First and most important, is that their planet is cooling and becoming more and more difficult for their habitants to survive there. They are some kind of cool-blooded reptilians, and need the warmth not to die. This cooling is caused by a deviation in the orbit of the planet around a star, and their only chance to survive (as stated by their leaders, the Tadkons) is finding and colonizing another planet.
The planet they find with livable conditions is the Earth, and so the first unit arrives and hides inside the crater of a volcano. The temperature there is high, but the Zarkons can live there without problems. Under earth are also hidden their spaceships, and they have built some kind of base with a labyrinth around it.
By investigating the invaded planet, they have learn to metamorphose their faces, and look like normal humans.
These are the other three Zarkons:
Serpion (Cosmopilot, formed in the cruel Zarkians mercenary troops): This character is the counterpart to Darman, both are pilots, and both are depicted in their artworks controlling some kind of spaceship, and through the windshield we can see one of the vehicles that were sold separately. In the card from Serpion we can clearly distinguish the vehicle Falcon, that belongs to the Zarkons. The accessories included are a backpack and a rifle

Reptis (Galactic transmissions Specialist, Great Crater Dragoman): This figure in shades of green and gold included a gun and a backpack, and is the communications specialist from the Zarkons. Note the great artwork depicting Reptis with his gun, and Batrus in the background


Saurius (Space Biomechanic. Gaurdian of the underground labyrinth of OX): This figure was one of the most populars because it included a small vehicle. The vehicle is some tunnel excavator. Zarkons live underground, and so they use this vehicle to dig tunnels. Moreover, Saurius is the guardian of the maze of OX, which probably consists of all these tunnels he has dug.
FACTS AND FIGURES:
  • Name: SERPION (Ref. 1601), REPTIS (Ref. 1602) & SAURIUS (Ref. 1603)
  • Toy Line: Madelman 2050 (Wave 1)
  • Year: 1988
  • Company: Exin (Spain)
  • Size of the figures: 3¾’’ or 9,5 cm
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