Monday, September 30, 2013

#331 COMANSI and NOVOLÍNEA – LUCKY LUKE PLASTIC FIGURES (Around 1985)



We all know Lucky Luke, the character created in 1946 by the Belgian author and artist Morris. The character was already very well known around 1984, when Hanna Barbera coproduced a TV animated series about him. The other producers were Gaumont and FR3, so it was a French-American production. This TV series was premiered the 15th October 1984 in FR3 (France), but shortly afterwards it was available in many other countries.


Some sources say that same year, the series was synchronized to Spanish, and aired in one of the two channels of Televisión Española: TVE1 or TVE2, I can’t remember which one. Since television has a strong impact in children, Comansi started producing Lucky Luke toys. The most famous are its plastic figures, but there are also other like plastic guns or shooting games, and articulated action figures in the “Comanboys” line. There seems to be also many vintage figures made by Schleich in Germany, which shouldn’t be mistaken with the Spanish ones.



So, Comansi made an undefined number of figures, all of them hand painted, including several versions of Lucky Luke, the Dalton Bros., Jolly Jumper, Rantanplan, and other secondary characters. My guess is that these figures were made around 1985, it must have been after the cartoon was premiered in Spain.

Comansi figures

I have 5 figures from this first series: Lucky Luke, a confederate soldier (no idea of its name, anyone?), Hank Bully (the stagecoach driver, unfortunately without the Stagecoach) and two brown horses.


Many of these figures sold, very well, while other didn’t. My guess here is that, one or two years later, Comansi decided to make re-releases of the most popular characters, and sell them with the last figures they had in stock. The new figures, were not painted, and therefore it was more suitable to sell them under their 2nd brand Novolínea. Novolínea rarely released painted figures, but in this case, it is quite clear that the figures of the Vulture, the Asian Man, Rantanplan, the two guys in black with tall hats (the Gravedigger?) and the bald man in blue (the Banker?) are leftovers from Comansi. The unpainted figures are the four Daltons (unfortunately, two of them are the same), Lucky Luke and another figure that I cannot identify either.



I found that pack not so long ago in a flea market, but there are many of these available in todocoleccion.net at very low prices. Each bag includes different figures… so if you want to have the whole series, you might end up buying a lot of bags!

FACTS and FIGURES:
  • Name: LUCKY LUKE PLASTIC (PVC) FIGURES (Ref. 47)
  • Year: Around 1985
  • Company: Comansi and Novolinea (Spain)
  • Size: Around 4 cm (average)

Friday, September 27, 2013

#330 MICRO MACHINES – CAR WASH CITY (1989)


It has been a while since I showed a “real” Micro Machine in this blog, so today I’ll go for this nice playset from 1989: the Car Wash City.

The toy-line was launched in 1987, since it worked well, the assortment was widely improved in 1988, and that same year, Galoob realized they had “discovered” a gold mine.

In 1988 Galoob offered for the first time the small “Travel City Playsets”, as well as two medium playsets (also available in 1987, “City Service Center” and “Airport/Marina”) and the big “Supercity Toolbox”. With that, Galoob covered the whole size and price range for playsets. All those playsets were self-contained.

In 1989, and as a result of that, the playset range explodes including around 10 new types of toys, including a slot-car racetrack, and the three types from the year before.





Famosa Comercial S.A. - Onil (Alicante)

The “Car Wash City” belongs to the “Action Playsets”, and was the only reference together with the “Service City”, although from 1990 on, similar playsets were released.

This new playset has a very low plastic base, so it is not 100% compatible with the “Travel City Playsets”, so they had to include a special ramp in the box. The “Super City Toolbox”, however, is compatible with both high and low base types. Also remarkable is that this set is not self-contained, so it is not intended to be transported often, or to play outdoors.

The box is the Spanish version from Famosa. The front of the box shows the playset with many cars on it, although the box includes no vehicles. The back of the box show again the same picture over white background, and the special “action” features are highlighted: parking tower, elevator, twisting restaurant plus the different parts of the car wash tunnel.




The toy is mint on box, and I never opened the bags inside. The contents are all as I bought them. What surprised me most are the instructions, which are a photocopy. I’m not sure if they’re original, or if maybe they were replaced by the toy store owner sometime. I bought it in a toy store, so theoretically I’m the first owner of this set.

I’m sorry I cannot offer better pictures of the set, but with the box and the parts, you can make yourself an idea of what this car wash tunnel is.

Contents of the box with protective inlay

Bagged contents

Unapplied sticker sheet

FACTS and FIGURES:
  • Name: CAR WASH CITY PLAYSET
  • Toy Line: Micro Machines
  • Year: 1989
  • Company: Galoob (U.S.A.)
  • Size of the vehicles: Approx. 1,5’’ or 2 cm
  • Size of the playset: Approx. 20 cm long 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

#329 VARIOUS BRITISH DIE-CAST MAGAZINES


During my holidays last month I visited Ireland. It was a great experience and we enjoyed the trip quite a lot. I had in mind visiting some big bookstores and maybe find some good books about toys in English language. I thought it would be easy to find something about Matchbox, Corgi or Dinky, but it wasn´t. It was in the newsagents' where I found some interesting publications. First I bought “Model Collector” and afterwards “Die-Cast Collector” (it came together with the “Collectors Gazette”), so now I have read and enjoyed 3 different publications on toys (especially on die-cast toys).

They include a nice mixture of articles dealing with old models and new releases. Since I am only interested in vintage toys, I would have preferred magazines dealing exclusively with them, but that was a good start. I read first “Model Collector” and I enjoyed quite a lot those articles about the Renault Estafette, Dinky Juniors or Corgi’s Hillman IMP 50. There was a lot of information on new releases from IXO, Oxford Die-Cast, Corgi, EFE, HotWheels!, NEX models, and many other companies in a variety of scales ranging from 1:8 to 1:87 (H0) with a notable exception: 1:64. It seems that in England (or may I say Europe in general?) the 1:64 scale is completely out of scope for serious collectors, who mostly disregard these as toys.

The second magazine Die-Cast collector is also a very good publication. It also includes lots of articles dealing with "old" die-cast models. So I cannot really decide which magazine is better than the other one. The articles featured in this number deal, among other topics, with Massey Harris harvesters, French die-cast catalogues, Britain’s motorbikes, or Corgi’s Ghia L 6.4 with Chrysler Engine.

The “Collectors Gazette” is maybe more interesting than the previous two publications, since it deals not only with car miniatures, but also with action figures, tin toys and other toys. Unfortunately it is much shorter, and the paper quality is worse.

Conclusion: three magazines I would buy if I lived in Britain or Ireland, but it comes to a real lot of Money overseas. I wish they offered the ebook edition only at lower prices, although it is comprehensible that they do not.

Now, some thoughts on these magazines:

It is amazing how many fairs and events are organised in England for collectors. I wish there were some like those here where I live, but they are very rare, and even rarer those dedicated exclusively to toys. Collecting in England is definitely on a higher level than in the rest of the world.

Throughout the articles there is always a lot of information on prices, which is good if you are looking for some of those rare models, but for me, prices are out of focus. Price guides are rarely accurate, since there are many factors to take into account when buying anything... it says nothing to me, that model X from manufacturer Y sold for 1000 pounds last month, 500 over its higher estimation. I guess it brings (kind of) calm to many collectors out there thinking they own a very valuable collection, but I would say it is just an anecdote. And the doubt will always remain, would they also publish that in case the auction ended much below the estimation?

The only thing that really bothered me are the hundreds of advertisements willing to buy your collection, promising to pay you the best prices, collection in-person nationwide and so on... surely you know what I am talking about. It is almost violent reading those ads. I understand that the magazines main income is due to these ads, but the shops/resellers should be less aggressive and more polite with these aspects. This types are present in all of them.

Nevertheless, it was nice to read about "new" models since it is always good to learn things, and they display very nicely in those pages, but I wouldn’t consider acquiring any of the models shown there. A different thing is that I get one model for free!

I found this Austin Paralanian by Oxford Die-cast and took it with me. It is an astounding model in 1:76 scale, with an amazing detail level for its size. Really well done! In shops, I could see more of them, and they were all great. Most were available for around 5 Euros.




 

FACTS AND FIGURES:
  • Name: AUSTIN PARALANIAN (Ref 76JA005)
  • Scale: 1:76
  • Year: 2011
  • Company: Oxford Diecast (Great Britain)
  • Size: approx. 5,5 cm

Sunday, September 22, 2013

#328 HOT WHEELS! – VOLKSWAGEN GOLF CABRIOLET (Ref. 6909) (Around 1982)

ITALIAN HOT WHEELS!

The relation between HotWheels! and Italy begins in 1969. In that year, Mattel purchases Mebetoys, a company with high quality standards especialized in 1:43 scale models. Mebetoys was owned back then by the Besana family, who were accepted in the new company to cooperate with the new team. Unfortunately, something went wrong, because after only four months, they were rejected.
According to Arumi, Mattel included in the purchase contract the clause that after the purchase was made effective, the Besana family could not start any business dealing with die-cast toys in general and car models in particular within the following 5 years.


During that time, HotWheels! models are marked both with the Mattel and the Mebetoys logo. Many of those models were Mebetoys earlier creations, in which the chassis was modified to include both logos.

There were 40 references that year of 1969, all Mebetoys designs, based mostly in Italian and European cars, never seen in the US before. These cars wouldn’t sell anywhere but in Europe, so it was really surprising, that new Mattel models (for the following years) were more European cars (Volkswagen, Citroën, Fiat…) Here’s a nice catalogue scan from the year 1981, in which this last statement can be proved. Other “new” references were not really new models, but new versions of old Mebetoys’.



After that, Hotwheels launched the famous “Gran Toros” series, from which the reader can find a lot of information here.

The Mebetoys logo was removed from all chassis, and the name discontinued around the years 1980 or 1981. In 1984 all Italian factories ceased their production and closed. This Volkswagen was therefore made between 1980 and 1984, since there is no Mebetoys logo on the base and it is still “made in Italy”. I couldn’t find the exact date, but the reference number 6909. Maybe anyone can help me here.


The Gran Toros had great quality, many practicable parts, metallic axles with metallic hubs, and many many other features, but this car was released later, in another 1:43 series, which is clearly much cheaper and simpler. Starting with the chassis in white plastic, which is at the same time the axles. Wheels are "inserted" in them. As a result of many hours of play, the plastic axles are a bit bent, maybe you can see that in the photographs. The car has no practicable parts, and it has the sticker at only one side.

The car was available in a windowed box, so the sticker on the other side could not be seen without taking the car out of the box. The missing sticker was probably never applied, since it was provided in a separate sticker's sheet, to save in manufacturing costs (the same thing that happened to this model by Polistil).


FACTS AND FIGURES:
  • Name: VOLKSWAGEN GOLF CABRIOLET (Ref 6909)
  • Scale: 1:43
  • Year: Around 1982
  • Company: Hot Wheels! - Mattel (U.S.A.) / Mebetoys (Italy)
  • Size: approx. 9 cm

Thursday, September 19, 2013

#327 SUNGOLD – SPECIAL FORCE: A TEAM OF MODERN ARMY (Around 1990)


These are some G.I.Joe: ARAH bootlegs I have found during the last 20 or 25 years. The original casts were made by a company called Sungold, which is mostly known for its Masters of the Universe bootlegs, “Galaxy Warriors”. It is difficult to find reliable facts about Sungold, so I will leave a “History of Sungold” entry for a future occasion.

This time I will just show some of these figures, and will tell what I know about them.


Two blue Dial-Tone figures made by Sungold. Note the different paint schemes.
The series comprises only 4 figures, based on (or directly copied from) 4 famous characters in the Hasbro toyline: Beachhead, Leatherneck, Dial-Tone and Alpine. These four characters appear in the blister card.
All figures are made of soft plastic, and have moving arms. They came originally with a few weapons which were also Hasbro’s knock-offs.

The first figure I ever had from the “Special Series” line, was “Beachhead” in green colour. I can remember I bought it around 1992, in the “100 pesetas” shop that had opened in my town just a few days before. It came with a few accessories that I still keep, but the figure lost one arm while playing. Since it was not very easy to repair it and it costed only 100 pesetas (0,60 Eur), it probably ended up its days in the trash bin.

Blister Type "1" by Sungold (pic: Darth Wince from froums.rebelscum.com)

Since then, I have found a few more figures. The next one in my timeline is the blue Dial-Tone figure, shown in the picture with the remaining weapons from my first Beachhead (a “Mainframe backpack” with a strap is missing, but was originally included, like in this pack above).



The first packages (type "1") included a few accessories. Later ones (type "2"), came with only one gun or rifle in a separate blister.

Blister Type "2" by Sungold (Pic: Kreatobergas from eBay)

Just two or three years ago, I found this new packaged figure (Alpine) in a flea market, and I bought it without thinking it twice. This new package (we will call it type "3") is much worse than the type “2” Sungold package, and includes just one blister in which the figure and the weapon are packed.


Knock-off, Blister type "3"


Information about the Spanish distributor
This packaged figure seems to be a recent re-edition of the Sungold figures by another manufacturer. Note that between blister “2” and blister “3”, the Sungold logo has disappeared from the blister and has been replaced by red-white-blue horizontal bars.

Additionally, Sungold figures are marked Sungold in the bottom, but the new ones are simply marked China. Who could be the new manufacturer? It is almost impossible to find out, so we will simply say, the later “China” figures are actually knock-offs of Sungold toys. The most probable explanation is that Sungold as a company disappeared sometime during the 90s decade, and these casts were bought by the second “mistery” manufacturer, which has been using them since them.

These last pictures show Beachhead China and Dial-Tone China and then a comparison between Dial-Tone Sungold and Dial-Tone China. I'll try to find each figure a knock-off rifle to have them complete.





Bottom marks comparison

FACTS and FIGURES:
  • Name: "BEACHHEAD", "LEATHERNECK", "DIAL-TONE" and "ALPINE" (Ref. 906)
  • Toy Line: SPECIAL FORCES: A TEAM OF MODERN ARMY
  • Year: From 1990 on
  • Company: Sungold (China) / Unknown (China)
  • Size: Around 8 cms

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

#326 SCHMIDT SPIELE - (REAL) GHOSTBUSTERS QUARTETT (03166) (Around 1985)


I returned from my holidays just a few days ago, and I am writing the last articles just one or two days before they're published. I am quite busy this week, and after a very long article, you'll have to forsake me if I write just a short one.

This card deck was made in Germany around 1985. That year, the Real Ghostbusters were already quite popular and even had an own weekly comic book, published by Bastei, so it doesn't surprise me, that they also had a deck of quarett cards. In this blog we already talked about Schmidt Spiele.

The cards seem to have been made in a hurry, since the drawings are quite simple (no backgrounds) and most of them are just ghosts. From the 8 families, the first one are the four members of the group: Winston, Egon, Peter and Ray, the second family are the headquarters, Janine, the Ecto-1 and a "group picture". In the third family, we can recognise Marshmallow Man and Slimer, but the other two are not recognisable (at least for me!), maybe some die-hard fans of the cartoons can recognise them...


The same applies to the 5 families that follow.


FACTS AND FIGURES:
  • Name: (REAL) GHOSTBUSTERS QUARTETT (Ref. 03166)
  • Year: Around 1985
  • Company: Schmidt Spiele (Germany)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...