Monday, October 31, 2011

#78 G.I. JOE – TALKING BATTLE COMMANDERS (1991)

Hasbro created one of the most successful lines in the history of toys. I think I have already commented, that the peak of popularity of G.I. Joe is located somewhere between 1987, 1988 and 1989. Hasbro obviously wanted to extend the lifespan of this collection, that so many million dollars was producing worldwide. That’s why during the first years of existence, they introduced new subgroups of figures (like the Dreadnocks” or the “Tiger Force”) to boost the G.I.Joe universum and the playing possibilities.
Until now, the figures released were normal figures, they included a few weapons like any other figure. In 1990, the first “special” groups are released:
-one of the is the “Sky Patrol”, 6 G.I. Joe paratroopers including a backpack with a functional parachute (although the same parachute system was used in the mail-in Parachute pack form 1985),
-the second group was the “Sonic Fighters”, 6 figures (4 G.I. Joes & 2 Cobras) with a bunch of guns and a huge backpack with 4 electronic battle sounds each.
Both sets were based mostly in old casts that were repainted in other colours. In Spain some of these casts were available for the first time with those figures. I guess this second group of figures sold very well, even though the price was higher than the others, because Hasbro decided to launch 10 figures more the following year:
-six of them were the “Super Sonic Fighters” (4 G.I. Joes & 2 Cobras), very similar to the “Sonic Fighters”
-the rest (4: 2 G.I. Joes & 2 Cobras) are the ones in this article, and the difference is that they produce 1 battle sounds and 3 voice commands. They are made with completely new casts, and all of them include a figure stand, because it is very difficult to put them in a certain position due to the weight of the backpacks. Note that Overkill is one of the most original figures in the whole collection. Apart from the interchangeable hand accesories, it has a gun in his chest protected by a small door, something unique in the vintage ARAH collection (1982-1994).
The figures show no variant from one land to another, but their backpacks (which couldn't be removed like other backpacks as they were screwed to the back of the figures) speak at least two different languages. I did investigate about this topic, and I couldn't find any other language than English and Spanish. In the Netherlands, for example, UK carded figures (with english commands) were sold, which is probably the same that happened in France, Belgium, Italy and the rest of the countries in which the line was still being sold. This seem logical if we consider that the greatest market in Europe, after the United Kingdom was Spain.
Another point is that the Spanish figures have alternate names. Hasbro Spain probably thought (or maybe had noticed), that the second versions of already known characters wouldn’t sell (didn’t sell) that well. This way, the Cobra Commander was renamed “Commander” in Spain, and General Hawk was renamed Falgass”. Stalker kept his original name, and Overkill changed it’s name to Barracuda, much easier to pronounce and to read in Spanish language.
These are the original (English) voice commands and the commands used in the Spanish version:
COBRA COMMANDER:
English Version:
  • “I’ll Get You”
  • “Cobra!”
  • “Vipers Attack!”
Spanish version:
  • “¡Oh, no!”
  • “¡Me las pagarás!” (You’ll pay for this!)
  • “¡Venceremos!” (We shall overcome!)
GENERAL HAWK:
English Version:
  • “Eat Lead, Cobra!”
  • “Yo Joe!”
  • “Move Out!”
Spanish version:
  • “¡Al Ataque!” (Attack!)
  • “¡Cuidado!” (Watch Out!)
  • “¡Misión Cumplida!” (Mission Accomplished!)
OVERKILL:
English Version:
  • “B.A.T.S. Attack!”
  • “Wipe Out!”
  • “Destroy!”
Spanish version:
  • “¡Viva Cupra!” (Long Live Cobra)
  • “¡Nos Atacan!” (We are being attacked!)
  • “¡Maldición!” (Curse!)
STALKER:
English Version:
  • “Let’s Party!”
  • “Attack!”
  • “Blitz ‘Em!”
Spanish version:
  • “¡G.I.Joe!” (pronounced in the “Spanish” way: “jee-joe!”)
  • “¡Es una Trampa!” (It’s a trap!)
  • “¡Adelante!” (Forward!)
If you’re not familiar with the G.I. Joe that were marketed in Spain, Cobra organisation was renamed “Cupra”.
These figures are relatively easy to find and are generally sold cheap. Spanish version are much more difficult to find, but I don’t think the language stuff is enough to be considered a variant, and to push collectors to find all international versions of these figures.



The cards are a little bit larger than the ones for normal figures, and the bubbles are bigger, due to the figure carrying the backpack. At the backpack, there is a small hole in which you could test the sounds before you bought the figures. Very interesting is the fact that the filecards of these characters differ quite a lot from the American/English version. If you can understand a little Spanish, you can click on the pictures and read the stories, you’ll notice that some facts have been ignored and some other information added. Just an example, Falgass'/General Hawk's file name has been changed to “Ferdy Sleeper”, probably just because it is mentioned in the card that he celebrated his promotion to commander by sleeping 20 hours that day :)
Most Spanish collectors find the translation/invention of the filecards quite annoying, I find them quite amusing.
Original filecards can be seen at yojoe.com:
Update: a promotional image taken from a Spanish catalogue:


FACTS AND FIGURES:
  • Name: COBRA COMMANDER v5, GENERAL HAWK v2, OVERKILL, STALKER
  • Alternative Names: COMMANDER, FALGASS, BARRACUDA, STALKER (Spanish)
  • Toy Line: G.I.Joe (Wave 10)
  • Year: 1991
  • Company: Hasbro (U.S.A.)
  • Size of the figures: 3¾’’ or 9,5 cm

Friday, October 28, 2011

#77 GUILOY – HONDA CB900F, YAMAHA OCH, SANGLAS 400Y (Around 1981)


Apart from the 1:24 motorbikes presented in #2 and #31 and the cars presented in #50, Guiloy made a big series of smaller motorcycles, the series included various motorbikes in two versions each: Touring and GP, being the cast slightly different. These motorbikes were sold during many years (at least until 1987), and as a result, there are many different variations in colours (motorcycle, fairing)…
From the models presented in this entry, the most interesting are probably the Sanglas, because it is very difficult to find scale models from this Spanish manufacturer. This company made motorcycles between 1942 and 1989. In 1981 it was absorbed by Yamaha, but the brand kept being produced until 1989. As far as I am concerned, there was never a GP version of that Sanglas model, so reference 141058 is completely invented.
Honda and Yamaha are international renowned brands, and it is easier to find different scale models and versions. These models are all from around 1979, so I guess it took at least one or one and a half years to make the casts and to put them on the market. Just a few remarks on the cast: Note that some pieces are reused from one model to the other, the front part, the wheels or the fairing, are the same for all motorbikes, while the motor and exhaust pipes differ from one model to the other. Note that all motorcycles include a sidestand/kickstand and that they have applied stickers with the brand of the model, plus a number in the fairing (in the GP models).
The jewel case in which they were originally sold is very similar to those of the cars, or bigger motorbikes, with the logo of Guiloy on the lower part. Labels of different colours indicate the names of the motorbikes. This is also a result of the reissues and versions made during consecutive years. The blue label seems to be the older one, than would come the red one, and the most modern of these three would be the red one with the logo.


Although they were massively sold and easy to find in any of their versions, the quality of the cast (mostly if we consider the scale), has made them very interesting collector items. The price has risen quite a lot, since they are only to find in the Spanish market, and neighbouring countries. At this moment, it is unknown of some versions are more difficult to find than others.

FACTS AND FIGURES
  • Name: HONDA CB900F (Ref. 141070), HONDA CB900F GT (141059), YAMAHA OCH (141099), YAMAHA GT (141098), SANGLAS 400Y (141071), SANGLAS 400Y GT (141058)
  • Scale: Approx. 1:36
  • Year: 1981
  • Company: Guiloy (Spain)
  • Size: approx. 7 cm

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

#76 UNKNOWN TOYMAKER – INFLATABLE TENT & CAMPING SET (Around 1977)

Another bootleg toy, I know there are people who enjoy them as much as “legit” ones.

I found this toy in a flea market together with the “Goddess of the Ultra Cosmos” that I already presented in this blog. Since it was cheap, I bought it too.

Differently as in the previous camping tent, this one is inflatable. It is made of a similar vinyl plastic than the one by Mattel, but this one is easier to mount and cheaper to produce. It includes 17 pieces, but I only have 12 of them.
  • Tent
  • 2 sleeping bags
  • 2 backpacks
  • Boat with 2 rows
  • Diving equipment (googles, flippers, snorkel)
  • Barbecue
  • Fishing rod and fishing net
  • First-aid kit
  • Binoculars
This toy is obviously made to profit from the success of other toy lines like Big Jim or Adventure Team, which were very popular at the time. It the typical toy that looks great as a gift, because it is big and includes many parts and accessories, it is also cheap (specially in comparison to a “real” Big Jim set), but it lacks of quality. As stated in the box, it is “scaled to fit all male action figures”, curious that with “male”. I guess it means, all those action figures for boys, although Barbie dolls would also fit very well here. A similar set seems to have been available at the time.

Picture found on the internet

FACTS and FIGURES:

  • Name: INFLATABLE TENT AND CAMPING SET
  • Alternative Name: CAMPING SET AUFBLASBAR (German)
  • Toy Line: -
  • Year: Around 1977
  • Company: Unknown
  • Size: Approx. 25 x 25 x 25 cm
  • Scale: 1:8

Monday, October 24, 2011

#75 BIG JIM – CAMPING TENT (1975)

Another nice set by Mattel for this toy-line is the Camping Tent. I recently found it in a thrift shop. It’s in great shape and includes the original package also in a great shape. Note the drawing on the cover that shows all items included in the box (except the figures), and the price at one flap of the box. This unit was sold in the Austrian supermarket Metro probably in 1975 or 1976, and it costed exactly 198,40 ATS (Schilling), that is around 14,30 Euro.

I guess this set was a great success in Europe, since camping is very popular in centroeuropean countries.

The contents of the box are the following:



  • vinyl tent
  • poles for the tent (5 pieces of two different types)
  • 2 vinyl sleeping bags

  • table (5 pieces)
  • 2 folding camping chairs
  • fireplace
  • grill for the fireplace
  • 2 pots
  • 2 dishes
  • frying pan
  • jar (2 pieces)

The whole set is decorated with some stickers that are easily lost. The complete set of stickers include 3 stickers for the tent, 3 stickers more for each sleeping bag, 2 stickers for each chair and 5 stickers for the dishes, the pots and the frying pan. The stickers that are directly applied over vinyl surfaces are very difficult to keep in good shape, because that vinyl material is flexible and if it’s played enough, they’ll end falling down.

Here are some pictures of the set I took myself. They show Big Jeff (from whom we already spoke here #42) and Big Josh, who is another friend of Big Jim. Among the Big Jim characters, Big Josh is somehow the rude guy, if “rude” can be applied to talk about this toy-line. The looks very much like Big Jim, just with a black beard on his face.

FACTS and FIGURES:

  • Name: CAMPING TENT (Ref. 90-8873)
  • Alternative Name: ZELT (german)
  • Toy Line: Big Jim
  • Year: 1975
  • Company: Mattel (U.S.A.)
  • Size: 33 x 38 x 38 cm or 13'' x 15'' x 15''
  • Scale: 1:8

Friday, October 21, 2011

#74 DARDA – RENAULT 5 TURBO and LANCIA DELTA (Ref. 1665 and 1664) (Around 1983)

 

A couple of days ago, I came by the toy section of a great department store in my city. I was very surprised when I saw that Darda cars are still being sold. I didn’t know much about this brand until I found a couple of cars by this company in a flea market. At this moment I own three different models, and this are two of them.


Both cars are legends in the world of rallies, and have been reproduced many times as a toy. Darda cars are not specially detailed, since all cars are slightly deformed to make them look nicer. Darda’s biggest selling proposition/argument is not the accuracy of the model, but a rather powerful pullback motor, that was invented in 1970 by Helmut Darda. In addition to the pullback motor, special tracks could be bought with many curves, loopings, jumps and so on in which the cars could be played.

These cars were made between 1971 and 1992 in (West-)Germany, and since then in China. It is unclear if the company was sold by its original founder to an American company called Life-Like in 1984 or later, around 1990. This model belong to the first epoch of the toy company, 1971-1984, although I haven’t found exactly in which year it was built. In any case, the body of the car is made of plastic, while the models made before the 80s are often made in metal.



With the Renault 5 cast are over 20 different known versions and variations (different colours and decorations), all of them with the reference 1665 plus three numbers or two numbers and letter ‘w’ if it’s a promotional car made expressly to be given as a gift (w is for ‘Werbung’, german for publicity), but I’m not sure if this code has some “scientific” base (e.g. chronological order of release) or are just numbers given by collector websites for documentation purposes.

FACTS AND FIGURES:
  • Name: R 5 TURBO (Ref. 1665-001) and LANCIA DELTA S4 (Ref. 1664-071)
  • Scale: (estimated) 1:64
  • Year: Around 1983
  • Company: Darda (West-Germany)
  • Size: approx. approx. 6 cm

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

#73 MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE – CLAMP CHAMP (1987)

The sixth wave of the Masters of the Universe was in most parts of the world, the last wave ever produced. It’s still surprising, that the whole franchise went down in popularity so fast, mostly when that same year the film “Masters of the Universe” was premiered (feat. Dolph Lundgren as He-Man), and made good business in the cinemas worldwide. This sixth wave included three figures that came directly from the film: Blade, Saurod and Gwildor, plus a series of new figures like any other wave. We have also commented some time, that figures in the last wave of a toy series are often more expensive (in average) than figures in any other wave.

Many figures from 1987, like for example, this one, share the same casts than the original He-Man and Skeletor figures from 1982. This was seen at the time as a backward step, since from the 4th wave on, Mattel always tried to improve the appearance of the figures by introducing new and different figures with new and different features. If you observe Clamp Champ, you’ll easily identify the body cast of He-Man plus the chest armour from Fisto (1984). The weapon is however completely new and not reused from whatever other collection.

What makes Clamp Champ special is that he is the only black human (or humanoid) in the entire collection. The whole collection is quite homogeneous, in which only Jitsu (#24) belongs to another race (asian). Black race action figures are relatively strange in most collections, it happens somehow like it happened with women, but maybe even worse. American toymakers may think that their target customer is white, since white people have higher incomes, and can buy their white children more and more valuable toys. Meanwhile, black families are not appealed to buy toys in which there are only white characters, so it’s some kind of vicious circle.

By the way, doesn't Clamp Champ look a little bit like Big Jack?

Back to the figure, apart from the “power punch” action feature, the highlight of the figure it’s his weapon, some kind of insect’s claw to trap enemies. In the next photos we can observe Clamp Champ in action:

FACTS and FIGURES:

  • Name: CLAMP CHAMP (Ref. 3073)
  • Alternate Names: CAPTURATOR (Spain), PINÇOR (France)
  • Toy Line: Masters of the Universe (Wave 6)
  • Year: 1987
  • Company: Mattel (U.S.A.)
  • Size of the figures: approx. 14 cm

Saturday, October 15, 2011

#72 CORGI – CHEVROLET CORVAIR (Ref. 229) (1961)

I wanted to write again about some Corgi die-cast car, because the previous two articles are relatively popular in this blog, and receive many visits. This is another 1:43 Corgi, that I recently acquired in a flea market. Although it has some paint chips, no parts are broken or missing, and it still looks great for its age.

In 1961, most Corgi (car) models were equipped with the “Glidamatic”, a suspension system based on springs. Additionally, this vehicle has a couple of great details. First notice the “venetian” blind in the rear window, and then notice the practicable engine cover on the back part of the car, with the chromed simulated motor.

Also notable in this model, is the use of different colours for the details of the cast: bumpers, emblem and headlamps are painted silver, while tail-lights are painted red.

Wheels consists of two parts, the tyres are made of a softer plastic and has great grip, what together with the glidamatic, makes a great car to push over any surface.

Looking for information to write this entry, I have found this website dedicated to Corgi toys. There is a complete list of all Corgi models from its foundation in 1956 to its final in 1983, with great pictures of (almost) all cars. Search for the section “The Great Book of Corgi”. Specially interesting is that there’s information on how many units of each model were sold, as well as a price guide.

According to this website, 821.000 units of the Chevrolet Corvair were sold worldwide, plus 23.000 units more of the same model golden-chromed from the “Golden Guinea Set”. It was discontinued in 1966.

FACTS AND FIGURES

  • Name: CHEVROLET CORVAIR (Ref. 229)
  • Scale: (estimated) 1:47
  • Year: 1961 to 1966
  • Company: Corgi (G. Britain)
  • Size: approx. approx. 9 cm

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

#71 REAL GHOSTBUSTERS – ECTO-1 (1986)


Your Real Ghostbusters Collection is not complete until you have this wonderful toy, it’s by far, the best vehicle in this collection, and the only one that appeared in the movie. Even though some modern versions have been made, plenty of details, this one still keeps its interest, since it’s a 25-year old vintage toy, and still looks great, and can be played with great fun.
In the entry I dedicated to the Ghosts in the first wave, there was a picture of the back catalogue of the first Real Ghostbusters wave. In that picture, you can see that the first wave was a little short; it only included the four Ghostbusters, the Ecto-1, a few ghosts, and some kind of gun that has nothing to do with action figures. This time I’ll focus on the vehicle, some other time, I’ll show the figures.
The car is really big, and like the rest of the figures, it is the toy version of the one in the cartoon series, rather than the real one in the film, note the curved lines in the body of the car and the sloping roof. It has only one negative point, and it’s that you can’t properly sit down all four members of the group in it, as we will see in the pictures.


Let’s continue with the front of the car, it doesn’t have any remarkable feature, just the license plate with the words ECTO-1.
The back part of the car has a door with the Ghostbusters logo on it. It opens from top to bottom. On the inside, there’s place for the blaster seat that can be placed inside or at the roof of the car. The peg under that seat allows the seat to turn 360º. Note that it is equipped with a seatbelt, and that Inside the car there are two positions for the seat, one deeper inside, and a slot to pull it out (partly) of the car. Another great feature in this part of the car is the giant claw that comes out of the interior. In the picture, it has grabbed the ghost that was included with the vehicle.

Let’s now take a look at the driver’s seat. There’s room for two figures that sit but remain somehow “loose”. There are no much details, just a nice steering wheel and the practicable doors.

And finally, let’s take a look underneath. We find a chassis that has been carefully casted, with exhaust pipes, suspension, axis, and more parts. In the rear axles, there are gears that pulls the rope with the claw. When activated, it makes a terrible, rattle noise. The lever to activate or deactivate this feature is the exhaust pipes, that can be pushed in one direction or the other, slightly moving the gears.
As it happened in the ghosts, this car is copyrighted in 1984, like the film, but it wasn’t sold until 1986. A curious note is that it was manufactured in Mexico.


Check more Ghostbusters toys by clicking on the label "Real Ghostbusters"! And please, leave me a comment if you liked this article!

UPDATE: Image from Bastei Comic "Die Echten Ghostbusters" Nr.9


FACTS and FIGURES:
  • Name: ECTO-1
  • Toy Line: The Real Ghostbusters
  • Year: 1986
  • Company: Kenner (U.S.A.)
  • Size: approx. 50 cm
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