Sunday, September 28, 2014

#462 STARTOYS or STAR TOYS – MAESTROS SAMURAIS (1990)


STAR TOYS: PLASTIC FIGURES AND MUCH MORE

Old Logo (around 1986)
New Logo (around 1990)
There is no information about this company on the internet. To my knowledge nobody has written a serious article about the company Star Toys yet, and I do not think I’ll be able to do that either. The article is quite long nevertheless and you will surely learn some facts you didn’t know about this mysterious company.
Star Toys or Startoys is, however, a very well known company. They made PVC figures and these figures are present in most PVC catalogues (for example in this one #401), and from the 80s on some of its lines were quite popular. It seems that the company doesn’t exist anymore. I think it closed in 2012, or at least the only person I could find that worked there, did it until april 2012. There are no references, websites or fansites on the internet about it, the only information comes from the packages in which their figures were sold.
And yes, this is something quite peculiar from this company. Since other PVC figures manufacturers sold the figures “loose”, Star Toys had special care for the details. They made beautiful artwork for the boxes or blister cards, included booklets and additional information, in most cases there was a list or a collection of pictures meant as a catalogue (or back catalogue) and they even organized promotions with their products.
But, back to the company, we still know that their official name was Star Toys S.A. and that they had their headquarters in Vía Augusta 2bis, Postal Code 08006, Barcelona (Spain). You can virtually visit that address with google maps, and you’ll find an office building in which, today, there are no references at all to the toy company.
That’s all I can say about Star Toys, but now I can make a short list of all the products they made and I am aware of.
They are most known for their plastic figures of popular Spanish TV series: “D’Artacan y los tres Mosqueperros”, “Sandokán” or “David, el Gnomo” (these are very similar or maybe identical to other PVC figures made by Unieboek of the Netherlands; the line also included bigger figures and plastic playsets).
Other international characters from foreign TV series or books include Count Duckula, Wally (from “Where’s Wally?”), Dennis the Menace or several cartoon figures from the Warner Bros, some painted with the colours of Real Madrid C.F. or Barcelona F.C. The football Looney Tunes figures were a giveaway of the sport newspaper Marca. There was also a short line of PVC wrestlers from the WWF.
Among other unlicensed figures, we find a series dedicated to traditional tale’s characters, a series of babies in diapers (similar to the Magic Diaper Babies by Galoob, only without the thermal paint), or a generic line of those hairy trolls that became very popular in the first 90s. Another line that would fit in this category are the Maestros Samurais, from which we will talk further in this article (keep reading!)
Pic: todocoleccion.net
pic: eBay - enlarge the picture to see license mark on lower left corner.
But the strangest toy ever made is a collection of articulated action figures from Indiana Jones. These figures are the only Indiana Jones licensed toy ever made by a non-American company. There is only one model/figure, which was sold either with or without shirt or jacket, and included some accessories, like an animal (snake, crocodile, rats), weapons (machine gun, whip), some complements to wear (hat, bandoleer). Those that didn’t include any animals included an fully functional digital watch or a compass that the owner of the figure could proudly use. These figures are today very rare and very sought-for.

Pic: todocoleccion.net
The company also released a series of very big articulated wrestlers licensed by the WWF: Hulk Hogan, the Ultimate Warrior, Jim Duggan, Big Bossman, and Jake the Snake Roberts. These figures were around 40 cm high and had doll-alike hair. Some included accessories, like the Snake Damien, 4x2, an American flag or clothes.
Pic: todocoleccion.net
Interestingly enough, Star Toys also made a couple of board games (including a very cool one based on “V”) and teddy bears. The only sample of teddy bear I have seen is M.I.M. (Mi Inteligente Muñeco) from the Spanish TVE Program “Los Sabios”. From these same program, the company from Barcelona also made a plastic telescope.
Pic: todocoleccion.net
And to finish this listing of Star Toys products, I have to talk about “Los Monclis”, which were PVC figures that represented Spanish politicians from the early 90s in the style of cartoonists Gallego & Rey. This line wasn’t intended as a toy, which makes it somehow revolutionary.

It seems that there is a first period of Star Toys in which they made many kinds of toys, and a second period in which they made almost exclusively plastic figures. All figures made by Star Toys are copyrighted with the following message (or a very similar one): (C) STARTOYS A-08929036 +36M (the last part is the age recommendation, children older than 36 months).

Star Toys shouldn’t be confused with another toymaker with the same name from Hong-Kong.


That is all about the company by now, I’ll now continue with the Maestros Samurais (Samurai Masters) toyline from 1990. I remember that I saw them once or twice for sale, and if my mind is not deceiving me, I think they even had a commercial on TV.

The toyline consists of 12 samurai warriors, each of them is a master in a particular weapon, plus two buildings made of cardboard: a Domo and a Dojo.

Each figure is around 8 centimeters high, and not articulated. They were sold in boxes like the one you can see here, and included a flag, a chromed plastic weapon and a small booklet explaining some facts about Samurais and their weapons.


Maybe it is interesting to remember that the 80s were a golden age for martial arts movies, and Samurais and Ninjas were still very popular in Spain by the beginning of the 90s (see also these two entries #335 and #386).

As said at the beginning of the article, the company took much care in the presentation of their products. Here is the box from all angles. Note that the box includes information in several languages, so they were also intended to be exported.




The figure in the box is the Samurai Master of Hagi-Yari, which is some kind of fighting art with long Spears.



I also have a three loose figures I have found over the years, but unfortunately, they are missing their weapons. I think these figures are/were intended for an adult collector, and if played by children, the weapons would inmediatly break.

The Samurai Master of Bô (Staff)


The Samurai Master of O-Dachi (Large Sword)


The Samurai Master of Yumi (Large Arch)



This is how the figure miht look like with their original weapons. These however are borrowed from a Giraya Ninja (Bandai)


The figures are absolutely great and the paintwork is excellent. Unfortunately, they never had a great succcess, and today, they are very rare to find. I also found some pictures on the internet from an old auction, in which an almost complete set was sold. The Budha was included with the Dôjô, but the horses might belong to another collection.

Pic: WorthPoint.com

Pic: WorthPoint.com

Pic: WorthPoint.com
Here is the complete booklet in case you're interested in reading it. There is a lot of information in there, although I suspect, the second part is common to all figures. The first part explains the particular martial art of the figure you have bought.







Here you can see the proof of purchase as well as the details of the "silver weapons" promotion. In case you got to purchase all 12 figure models and the two playsets, you could cut off from the boxes a proof of purchase, and if you were among the first ones to collect those proofs, you would receive a set of several weapons (4 swords and daggers to be precise) made in silver. This reinforces the idea, that the figures were intended for an adult collector.




FACTS and FIGURES:
  • Name: HAGI-YARI
  • Toy Line: MAESTROS SAMURAIS THE ART OF KOBU-DÔ (Wave 1)
  • Year: 1990
  • Company: Star Toys (Spain)
  • Size of the figures: Around 8 cm

8 comments:

  1. I would be very interested in seeing the Count Duckula and David the gnome merchandise this company produced

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi! Let me ask for permission to share some pics with you. I do not own any of those figures, but I know people who do. There are 12 different of Count Duckula, but no idea how many of David the Gnome. What I know is that for David the Gnome they also released some playsets and some XXL figures like Swift (the fox), or the swan they fly with.

      While you wait, you can check all ítems sold of these two collections in a Spanish site of auctions/classified ads (place the mouse over the small pictures to enlarge them).

      Gnome:
      http://www.todocoleccion.net/orientaprecios#!fq=david%20el%20gnomo%20star%20toys&sort=fecha_venta%20desc

      Duckula:
      http://www.todocoleccion.net/orientaprecios#!fq=duckula%20star%20toys&sort=fecha_venta%20desc

      Delete
    2. Hi again Brother!
      You can see most of the Duckula pictures here:

      https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B4wDXDUkAMCcdG5iejRJc1JQT2c&usp=sharing_eil&tid=0B4wDXDUkAMCcWEZtMVBpWkdOamM

      They are ordered alphabetically, so scroll down to CONDE DUCKULA and then a bit more to DAVID, EL GNOMO.
      (this link is courtesy of my friend Pablo, he is the owner of all those figures)

      Delete
  2. Fascinating article Gog, very informative, and new to me...nice read!

    H

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Many thanks, Hugh!
      Pretty sure you have some figures by Star Toys, they're not so uncommon!

      Delete
  3. you are the man! Have been looking and researching for years and have finally found out the make of these figures thanks to you. I remember being a very young child and going to FAO Shwartz in NYC and seeing these figures, but the lines were long in the store and I was not able to purchase. I never knew the make of these figures, but always recalled them being Samurai Warriors and having a DoJo. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Eric, many thanks for your comment!

      I am really glad I could help. Interesting that these figures were sold at FAO Schwartz! Not every figure makes it up to that great toy store.

      If you have never have one of this in your hands, I can tell you they are really great, comparable to the best PVC figures from Germany. I would say they were not only intended for children, but also for adult collectors. Unfortunately, today they are very difficult to find, and with the weapons... almost impossible. This sample in the box (Hagi-Yari) is the only figure I have ever seen boxed!

      See you!

      Delete
  4. hi
    i have many figures from startoys..i would share with you my informations about them
    how we can keep on touch? can you send me your private email?
    thank you very much

    ReplyDelete

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