Wednesday, August 31, 2011

#56 MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE – ZOAR & SCREEECH (Ref. 4014 and 4713) (1983)

 
Zoar (“Barbarian Bird”) and Screeech (“Fighting Falcon”) (with 3 ‘e’s) are two winged creatures (some kind of eagles) from the Masters of the Universe series. Most figures in this series share the casts of their bodies, arms, legs and even heads. Design of this line should have been very cheap, and, due to its great success, very profitable. 
 
When it comes to creatures, the MOTU-series also reused their moulds: The Panther-like creatures “Battle Cat” and “Panthor” where made with exactly the same cast, “Stridor” and “Night Stalker” (the horses) and “Zoar” and “Screeech” (the eagles), too. This occurred during the first Masters of the Universe waves, but in later waves the reuse of casts was not so common.

Zoar’s and Screeech’s accesories are also exactly the same, and in the same colour: a two-piece stand, and a two-piece armour. They both have the same feature: by pressing a trigger in one leg, they flap their wings. As I bought Screeech, the seller had written in his description, that this was some kind of mail-away offer, with bagged weapons. I'm not sure about that, I suspect is not true.

 
About these creatures, Zoar is a transformation of Sorceress, the “heroic guardian of castle Grayskull”, that appears in many comic-books, like the ones following this paragraph. Screeech, nevertheless, is a more obscure character, that doesn’t appear in comic books; probably it was a last minute decision to produce it, since it wouldn’t cost much, and it would be one reference more in the catalogue. Even though the character Sorceress is so popular and appears so often in comic books and cartoons, the figure was not released until 1987, in the 6th wave (and the last one in most parts of the world).

From minicomic: The Search for Keldor

Sorceress cardback illustration (Taken and modified from He-Man.org discussion boards)

From german Interpart comic: "Die Rache des Bösen"

Something that not everybody knows, is the moulds for these birds (as well as for the panthers), were “recycled” from the Big Jim toy line, that at this present time had already been cancelled. Big Jim’s Eagle quickly became a very popular figure in this collection: it was released in the “Eagle Outfit” (Ref. 7308) and in the “the Eagle of Danger Peak” adventure set (Ref. 7365) both from 1974. These two eagles were a little bit different, as it can be seen in the next pictures. Some other time, I’ll talk about these other Big Jim sets.


 As a bonus, I update this entry with the instruction sheets of Zoar or Screeech. Note that the name of the creature is not mentioned anywhere, so it was used for both. The reference number printed is 4014, corresponding to Zoar, which was, as said above, designed first.

Original Instruction sheet in English, German, Italian and French

Same as above, other side.

A very interesting "alternative" instruction sheet is this one here. It's origin is for me unknown, if you can help me, I'd be very glad to hear you!

Alternative instruction sheet in the same languages, unknown origin

FACTS and FIGURES:
  • Name: ZOAR and SCREEECH (Ref. 4014 and 4713)
  • Toy Line: Masters of the Universe (Wave 2)
  • Year: 1983
  • Company: Mattel (U.S.A.)
  • Size of the figures: Approx. 20 cm from tip to tip of the wings

Sunday, August 28, 2011

#55 ASS – EROBERUNG DER LUFT QUARTETT (Nr. 623) (1955)

The „Quartett“ is a very old and popular card game in German speaking countries. There are decks of cards to virtually any theme: cars, animals, tv-series, stars of wrestling… Most quartetts have 8 or 9 sets (A to H or I) of four cards each (1 to 4), totalling 32 or 36 cards.

This game was invented in 1861 by Ann Abbott, Sean Bennesch and A. A. Smith, and had originally portraits of American and English authors (it was called “The Game of the Authors”) together with their most famous works. This game is almost identical to “Happy Families” (John Jaques, 1851), in which the sets are families with father, mother, son and daughter.

A very famous variant (at least in Spain) is the “Families of 7 countries” (“Familias de 7 países”, Heraclio Fournier), in which the sets are 7 families (Mexican, Chinese, Bantu, Eskimos, Arabs, Indians and Tyroleans) of 6 members each (the same as in “Happy Families”, plus grandfather and grandmother).

This game is for three players or more. The cards are shuffled, and dealed: each player gets the same number of cards, and then the game starts. The goal of the game is to collect complete sets (each 4 cards, as said before). The turn of one player consists in asking another player for a certain card (for example B-3): if the asked player has this card, he/she must give it away; if not nothing happens, and the turn passes to the next player. If the demanded card completes the whole series of 4, these cards are laid open on the table, and the game continues with the rest of the cards. At the end, the player with the most quartets on the table wins the game.

These are all the cards of the game "Eroberung der Luft" (engl. "Conquest of the air") from 1955, ordered by set. Click on the pictures to enlarge them.

FACTS AND FIGURES

  • Name: EROBERUNG DER LUFT QUARTETT (Nr. 623) („CONQUEST OF THE AIR“)
  • Year: 1955
  • Company: Vereinigte Altenburger und Stralsunder Spielkarten Fabriken A.G. (Also ASS) (West Germany)

Friday, August 26, 2011

#54 SIKU - LAMBORGHINI 400GT ESPADA and VW PORSCHE 914-6 (Ref. V317 and V312) (1971 and 1970)

Again two models by the german manufacturer Siku. The history of this company in relation to 1:60 cars was told here: #35 , so this time I’ll just present two more models, that belong to the exact same series and époque than the Ford GT 40 from that previous article.

The first one is the Lamborghini 400GT Espada, in a beautiful turquoise green with practicable doors. It was available between 1971 and 1974, also in a metallic dark blue version. The model was also made between 1975 and 1981 with different wheels (the ones with white details) and different colours: metallic green and metallic gold, but those were sold under a different reference (1024).

The second one is the VW Porsche 914-6 in yellow with “ADAC Rennpolizei” stickers, antenna and red flag. This model also has practicable doors. ADAC is a German automobile club (“Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club”) and “Rennpolizei” is the road police. Don’t ask me how one thing relates to the other, because I don’t understand it either. This was the first version of this car. Note the primitive wheels. The second version came with different wheels and the “R” logo at the trunk and at the bonnet was yellow in a black circle. The original version was available between 1970 and 1974, while the second version was available between 1975 and 1978 under reference 1323. Needless to say, that the antenna and the flag are very fragile, the model in the picture still keeps the original ones.

The same model was available without the antenna and the flag in orange. From these models there were several versions made, the one with the same wheels than the cars in the picture is considered to be very rare, and therefore very expensive. In this website, it is written, that there were only 3338 units made of it, but it is not clear if it refers to the orange version, the yellow one, both together or what.


It is maybe interesting to mention, that I don’t know many other brands that made those cars at 1:60 scale (or similar)… they have been rarely done. The only Porsche 914 that I own was made by Playart. Matchbox released not so long ago this model too. From the Lamborghini Espada I don’t know any other release at this scale than this one.

FACTS AND FIGURES

  • Name: LAMBORGHINI 400GT ESPADA and VW PORSCHE 914-6 (Ref. V317 and V312)
  • Scale: 1:60
  • Year: 1971 and 1970
  • Company: Siku (Germany)
  • Size: approx. 7 cm

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

#53 HASBRO'S WWF - ADAM BOMB vs 1-2-3 KID (1994)



It has taken me 53 blog entries to talk about one of my favourite action figure series of all times: Hasbro’s Official WWF figures.
Some other time, I’ll make an introduction to this series, and will talk about the casts repeting all over again for different wrestlers and many other things. Today, I’d like to talk shortly about the 11th (and last) wave of these figures.
1994 was the last year in which these figures were sold. Since 1990 in the market, the waves tended to become shorter, and new ones were released more often than at the beginning of the collection, when a wave of 12 figures was available during a whole year in toy stores, before the next wave was available. The 11th wave was the fourth(!) wave released that year (8th, 9th, 10th, 11th) and the final one.
It is quite common for action figure series, that the last wave ever made doesn’t sell very well (if it sells well, why should the companies stop making them?). This fact makes normally the last waves of toy series very difficult to find and very expensive for collectors to buy them. I don’t like saying preliminary prices, because each one can pay what he/she wants to pay, relying on many personal factors, but this time, I will make an exception.
 

Figures in this collection are extremely cheap, if bought in lots, or individual auctions, a figure in good shape can usually be bought for approximately 1 or 2 ­Euros or American dollars; exception made of figures that have some kind of accessory (belt, stick, cloak…), which are a bit more expensive (or even cheaper, if the accessory is missing). This is the common rule for most waves, but not for the 11th one, whose figures are sold for prices ranging between 30 to 40 Euros or even more (we are always talking about loose figures, carded figures are much more expensive). 30 Euros is not a fortune, but in comparison to the other series, it’s very expensive. There are, of course, some exceptions to this “1-Euro-rule”, but they are just a few.
Figures in wave 11 were packaged in green cards, the wrestlers were 7:
  1. Ludvig Borga with Finland Finisher!
  2. Yokozuna with Sumo Smash!
  3. Crush with Kona Crusher!
  4. 1-2-3 Kid with 1-2-3 Punch!
  5. Adam Bomb with Nuclear Knockout!
  6. Billy Gunn with Cowboy Clobber!
  7. Bart Gunn with Rodeo Roundhouse!

Adam's head is too big for 1-2-3 Kid to perform his special action feature

Some interesting remarks about this series are:
  • Billy and Bart Gunn were sold separately, since no double packs were sold since wave 4
  • From the 7 figures, two of them are repaints from previous waves: Yokozuna was released with red tights in wave 8, now he wears white tights, and Crush was released in wave 7 with a yellow outfit, and now he wears a purple outfit.
  • All figures’ bodies are reused from other figures, the head sculpts are all new.
FACTS and FIGURES:
  • Name: ADAM BOMB and 1-2-3 KID
  • Toy Line: Official WWF (Wave 11)
  • Year: 1994
  • Company: Hasbro (U.S.A.)
  • Size of the figures: 12 cm or 4,5’’

Saturday, August 20, 2011

#52 MATCHBOX – CABLE TRUCK (Nr. 26), MERCEDES CONTAINER TRUCK (Nr. 42) and SAMBRON JACKLIFT (Nr. 48) (1981, 1976 and 1977)


It’s quite surprising that I haven’t written about the 75 series from Matchbox yet. I couldn’t take quality pictures of any of those scale cars until now. It is also the first time we present something different from cars and motorbikes. 

The 1-75 Series of Matchbox is the best-known and most popular line of Matchbox. Its price was obviously set according to its size, and they were affordable for every family. These small scale cars have been sold with a great success since 1953, when the first models were made. These cars were numbered MB1, MB2,… adding each year a few new models, and replacing others. When the range reached 75 models per year it was decided that it would only be 75 models at a time, and therefore this series is known as the 1-75.

This series includes several sub-series like the “Superfast” (since 1969), the “Rolamatics” (since 1973), “Streakers” (since 1976). The superfast models were originally intended to compete with the HotWheels! From Mattel, but in only a couple of years, they were a majority between the 75 of each year. The container truck in the pictures is a superfast model.
The Mercedes Container truck has a detachable container with practicable doors and made of plastic. There were several versions of this truck made, with different colours (red, yellow, green, and logos in the container. This model can interact with the Sanbrom Jacklift (Nr. 48), as stated in the box.
The Cable Truck is a Volvo model. It also has detachable cable rolls. This model was also sold in different colours (at least, yellow, orange, red and white, plus many variations on the colour of the chassis, roll stands, and rolls), wheels, as well as with metallic or plastic chassis. The same body was used to create the "Zoo Truck".
Models with detechable parts are more difficult to find complete and in good shape, these parts were mostly made of plastic, and tended to lose or break. 

The following is an update of the original article. Here are the pics of the Sambron Jacklift mentioned above, including one variant (fork in yellow or black) and the original cardboard box.





These are the variants I mentioned above, with yellow and black forks. There are other rarer variation with the fork in black while the "arm" is yellow, or vehicles with a "Sambron" tampography on one side.



And here's the Jacklift interacting with the Mercedes Container Truck.




UPDATE: Pictures from an alternative Container Truck. The container is slightly darker and has a different sticker, and the base plate is black instead of metallic gray.




FACTS AND FIGURES
  • Name: CABLE TRUCK (Nr. 26), MERCEDES CONTAINER TRUCK (Nr. 42) and SAMBRON JACKLIFT (Nr. 48)
  • Scale: Cable Truck 1:90 / Mercedes not marked
  • Year: 1981, 1976 and 1977
  • Company: Matchbox (Great Britain)
  • Size: approx. 6 cm

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

#51 HE-MAN – SKELETOR and FLIPSHOT/ ICARIUS (Ref. 2303 and 2275) (1989)

After the Masters of the Universe series was cancelled in 1987, there was an attempt to bring the series to the market again. The old MOTUs aged very badly with only 6 points of articulation. Kid’s new favorites were G.I.Joe, Ninja Turtles and M.A.S.K. among others.
 
Mattel tried to adapt somehow the MOTU concept creating a new story, in which only He-Man and Skeletor remain. According to the mini-comics included in the packages, some travellers from the future are looking for He-Man…the legend says that he is the only one who can help them against the evil that is that is destroying them. When they find Eternia, they are deceived by Skeletor, who takes the whole power from Castle Grayskull. Prince Adam cannot transform into He-Man anymore, but he manages to be lifted together with Skeletor into Starship Eternia. There, with the power source, becomes He-Man and together with Hydron and Flipshot defeat Skeletor. The evil Skeletor gets to escape into the future, and He-Man must follow him to save the future world. According to Ehapa comics, the story is very similar, but some characters are different, including Darius, never produced as a toy, although it appeared in the cardback of the first wave figures.
The cover and the poster of this ehapa comic (german version) is presented here. Note that the poster include all characters from the first wave (Darius was not produced), and the second wave, although Karatti and Hoove may be drawn just from prototypes or maybe just invented. The two figures presented in this article appear in both images. 
The figures of “He-Man - New Adventures”, as you can see in the following pictures, are much slender than the older figures. They include an articulation in the knees, and the one in the legs have been improved. Some figures can now open their arms (and not only turn them), while other figures have special movements that do not count as PoA.
By the way, many of these special movement are very difficult to reproduce correctly. I don't know if it is a design problem, or maybe that most figures are broken, but I never got Icarius to work properly (this figure should have some "punch-action movement"). The same applies to the accesory known as Turbo-Tormentor, which will be shown some other time. Skeletor does work properly, since its movement is relatively simple: by turning its waist, the figure moves its arms up and down. 
The casts of the figures are much better, not only for the details, but also because they’re all different, there is no repetition in arms, chests, heads… as occurred in the previous toyline. Almost everything in this series is better, but they didn’t got to succeed. The figures are much more fragile and the arms and legs tend to loose up and then it’s difficult to make the figures stand or to place them in a particular position. 
There were four waves of He-Man. The last one is very difficult to find, while the other three are cheap and easy to find nowadays even on card. If you look for these figures “loose”, be careful because they might not be in perfect (C-10) condition.
Detail: Back of Skeletor without the cloak

FACTS and FIGURES:
  • Name: SKELETOR and FLIPSHOT / ICARIUS (Ref. 2303 and 2275)
  • Toy Line: He-Man (also New Adventures of He-Man) (Wave 1)
  • Year: 1989
  • Company: Mattel (U.S.A.)
  • Size of the figures: 14 cm

Sunday, August 14, 2011

#50 GUILOY – MATRA SIMCA (Ref. 60152), RENAULT 12-S (60155), MASERATI (60156) and VOLVO 66 DL (60159) (Around 1984)


Guiloy is famous for its motorbikes (#2 and #31), but they made cars too. These are an example of some cars of their 1:43 line (they also built some models in 1:64 (or similar) scale.
The 1:64 scale line was started in 1977 to compete against Guisval or Majorette in the Spanish market. The experience gained in this field got Guiloy to start the 1:43 line in 1984, buying the casts from another known brand: Pilen (#45). Both companies were settled in Ibi.

With those casts, Guiloy made around 14 different models, with a very eye-catching decoration (bright colors + colourful stickers). These were available in a display stand with the name: “Sport-Car” (12 units each stand). First they were available in jewel boxes like those in my pictures, but later it was just the car set in the polystyrene display. 

Most cars were available in just one decoration, some others in two different. As the casts were reused, the cars these models represent were already a bit old (mid-70s), but all of them were still on the market or had been replaced by another models at that time. The Maserati was also produced in black colour, with red stickers on the doors with the word “fantástico” (fantastic), as a reference to the TV-series “Knight Rider” (in Spain, “el coche fantástico”). This crude knock-off will be shown some other time, as I own one of them. They were sold again in stand displays of 12, all of them exactly the same model, so we can say that Maserati Ghibli cast was very profitable. 


This “Rally” collection was a success, since a second wave of car casts were made. The new models, however, were made with worse quality, and were focused only in sports-cars: no Seats or Renaults, but Porsche 911, BMW M.1., Lancia Stratos, Audi Quattro,… models that were only to see on the TV, not on the streets.

FACTS AND FIGURES
  • Name: MATRA SIMCA (Ref. 60152), RENAULT 12-S (60155), MASERATI (60156) and VOLVO 66 DL (60159)
  • Scale: 1:43
  • Year: 1984
  • Company: Guiloy (Spain) / Pilen (Spain)
  • Size: approx. 9 cm
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