Tuesday, March 31, 2015

#529 CORGI JUNIORS – GRAND PRIX RACER, FORMULA 1 RACER, FORMULA 5000 and HOT RODDER (1973)

The following cars are made by Corgi in 3 inches size for its line Corgi Juniors. They are formula racers and futuristic prototypes that look like formula racers. I first took the pictures and the noted that all of them were released the same year 1973. The most futuristic ones are maybe an attempt to fight agains Matchbox’s Superfasts, that already had released a few invented cars in a similar style.


Grand Prix Racer in Green (Nr. 1-D1 – 1973-76) and Hot Rodder in yellow (Nr. 28-B1 – 1973-76)








UPDATE: The same model in much better shape including stickers:




END OF UPDATE








Formula 1 Racer in Orange (Nr. 22-C1 – 1973-78) and Formula 5000 in Black (Nr. 27-B1 – 1973-81) From the second model I am showing two standard versions, one with stickers, another one without, plus a variant with black base and black motor at the end of the article.













Formula 5000 (Nr. 27-B? – later issue)

This last car is not described in Dr. Force’s guide and seems to be a later issue, since the motor is made in black plastic instead of golden and it is decorated with a tampographied “9”, instead of stickers. I am sure it is a later issue, but seems to be a rare model. Never saw it somewhere else.




FACTS AND FIGURES:
  • Name: GRAND PRIX RACER, FORMULA 1 RACER, FORMULA 5000 and HOT RODDER (Nr. 1-D1, 22-C1, 27-B1 and 28-B1)
  • Scale: Approx. 1:64
  • Year: 1973
  • Company: Corgi (G. Britain)
  • Size: approx. 3’’ or 7 cm 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

#528 DES JOUETS ET DES HOMMES (VARIOUS AUTHORS)


The book was edited by the RMN-Grand Palais of France (Réunion des Musées Nationaux) in 2011 to be used as an guide in the exhibition held in Paris (Grand Palais, Galeries Nationales) between the 14th September 2011 and the 23rd January 2012 and also in Helsinki (Helsinki Art Museum) between the 21st February and the 20th Mai 2012.

This is the most amazing book about toys I have read so far.
 

It does not deal with an specific type of toy, brand or collection, but with the subject toy in general: from a general history of toys, to social analysis dealing with dolls, professions, time... and more specific topics like robots, animals, cars, religious toys, automata... Every article is really first level and exquisitely illustrated with the toys and items from the exposition. Since the book is published by the Museum Network of Paris, every piece is dated and classified.

 
The toys come from several French museums, foreign museums (like the Victoria & Albert from the United Kingdom), private collections and loans from manufacturers and toy companies. The
organizers really got what they needed for each particular chapter.
 
The book has 328 pages, so I guess the exhibition had to be something really great to visit. As 99.9% of the readers of this entry had not visited this exhibition, you should know that this guide exists, and you can search for it if you are interested in reading something really great. It is written in French.
 
 
The book is out of print, but it might be possible to find it on the internet or second hand. The retail price was 50 Euros, I bought mine in Köln/Cologne for around 55 Euros, in a nice bookstore in the city center (Buchhandlung Walter König, Ehrenstr. 4, 50672 Köln). This was the only unit for sale there.
 

Friday, March 27, 2015

#527 MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE – GWILDOR, BLADE and SAUROD (1987)



I think the movie has been commented many times and I couldn´t do any better than what other people wrote before me. Just a couple of facts: the motion picture was a production of Golan-Globus Productions and Cannon Films made in 1987, a bit late in most parts of the world, since the He-Man phenomenon was already disappearing. The movie is a live-action movie and the image of He-Man, Skeletor and other characters differ quite a lot from those of the figures or the animated series.

I saw it at the cinema a long time ago, but I cannot remember if I liked the movie or not. What I remember is that the next figure I purchased after the movie was Gwildor, so at least I might have found Gwildor funny.


I haven´t seen the movie since then, I maybe watch it again sometime over the next months. I heard a podcast talking just about this movie and the guys there convinced me that the movie is actually a great movie, worth watching. Unfortunately, not everybody thinks like this, and the movie received very bad comments and critics from 1987 on. The podcast is in Spanish, and it is quite funny, I would give it a try...

Back to the toys, Mattel obviously wanted to profit from the movie and released three figures with the new characters created for the movie.

The first figure is Gwildor, some kind of comic relief (I read somewhere that Orko would have been too expensive to animate or create using special effects). He is a strange creature with human form, and is the guardian of a Cosmic Key that can be used to travel from one dimension to another one. The figure is completely different to any other MOTU figure, has no waist or legs, and has no action feature. It came with the Cosmic Key that was promoted as its “action feature”. The figure has point of articulations on neck, shoulders, wrists and ankles, and its body is like a big plastic bubble.



The second character is Blade which is one of the bad guys who fight He-Man. He is the master of swords, and has a very good fight by the end of the movie. It is interesting to mention that the actor is also the choreographer. The figure has the “twist waist” action feature, and the same mechanism in both arms, so it is a great figure. Also the accessories are great, with two long thin swords and a piece of cloth (made of plastic, of course) that can be attached to his waist, and can also hold one of the swords. This figure has no gum strap holding its legs, but the more advanced mechanism. In comparison to other figures, Blade is slightly taller than the rest, because of the straight legs. A rather impressive figure.



The third character is Saurod a reptilian-being and a bounty hunter. The figure is made of brown plastic and has an oxidized look, which is not uniform. The action feature are cold sparks being launched from its mouth, when pressing a lever on the back of the figure. This feature is shared with some transformers, and other toys. The figure came with a small black pistol, which is rather small and also hard to find. The figure has some kind of helmet that cannot be removed: it is glued to the head, but it is also a bit fragile. If the figure falls to the ground in the wrong position, the helmet may separate from the head. It is also one of the few figures with a tail, but unlike Whiplash, Saurod’s tail is made of hard plastic, like the arms or the legs.



The figures were sold in normal cardbacks, but in the bubble they carried a small yellow sticker to indicate they are the new characters from the film (at least in Spain). I think this kind of stickers are intended to inform parents rather tan children.

I’d like to show this ad to end my article. It is taken from a Spanish comic and it is an official advertising from Mattel Spain for these three figures. The nice thing are that the names of Gwildor and Saurod are changed. Note that the names are written correcty. Blade and Gwildor were pronounced in the Spanish dubbing of the film as they were pronounced in English, so the writing had to be adapted not to mistake children, so Blade became Bleit, and Gwildor became Guildor, which sounds slightly different, but it is still readable in Spanish.


UPDATE: A second figure of Gwildor with a slightly different skin colour and a silver Cosmic Key instead of plain grey. Both are Made in Mexico.





FACTS and FIGURES:
  • Name: GWILDOR (Ref. 3294), BLADE (Ref. 3295) and SAUROD (Ref. 3670)
  • Toy Line: Masters of the Universe (Wave 6)
  • Year: 1987
  • Company: Mattel (U.S.A.)
  • Size of the figures: 5½’’ or 14 cm (Gwildor a bit less)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

#526 THE SETTLERS OF CATAN with SEAFARERS and 5-6 PLAYERS EXPANSIONS (1995 and 1997)


I have neglected a little bit the board games in this blog. There is one main reason for this, and is that my blog very very rarely talks about toys made after 1995, and board games made before 1995 are not especially good... The best "Euro" board games are the newest ones; each time, board game designers are making better and better games or updating old ones. If you have a big game collection at home, you usually only play the newest ones, while the oldest ones are just catching dust in some shelves or have been moved to the attic.

The Settlers of Catan is one of those exceptions, that has been now played for over 20 years, and it is being released and sold year after year. There is many chances that, if you like board games, you have played this one.

The game simulates the management of villages on an island. Each village produces different goods: clay, stone, sheep, wheat or wood. With this goods, you can upgrade the villages to cities, build new villages or roads, or buy special cards that brings you special advantages. Personally, I don´t like the game much. Due to the game mechanism, it is easy to predict who will win after just a few rounds, sometimes just after the initial placement of villages. If you leave apart this small detail, most people have a lot of fun with this game, since the goods can be traded anytime and there´s a lot of interaction.


I have one of the earliest german editions of the game, the first one didn't have the "Spiel des Jahres" logo on the cover, but son afterwards, the box was changed to improve sales. It is a game that can be very easily found on flea markets and I have bought it a few times, although earlier versions are more scarce, and more difficult to find. The first box is the basis game, and is still unused. The first editions had pieces made of wood, and the box inlay is made of carboard. Later editions included plastic pieces and the interior was improved to host all components more efficiently.



The game is for 3 or 4 players, which is a bit of a limitation for this game (and for any game in general), so the author Klaus Teuber expanded the game with a few more tiles and pieces for a fifth and sixth player. I also own this expansion and it is also unused.

There are dozens of expansions more for this game. The first one of these was released two years later and is called "Seafarers". The expansion consist of new tiles (many of them water tiles) so you can form some kind of ocean with smaller islands and ships, that are actually like roads but built over water.




The expansion does not add much to the game, but makes everything a little more challenging: if you are block by ground, you can always try to sail to a near island to settle and produce more goods.
The box I own is again a very old version, probably the first one, and the game has been played, but is complete and in very nice shape. Again, the ships are made of wood, which in my opinion is much nicer to touch and has a nicer feeling during the game than plastic.




The Seafarers expansion also had a (supra-)expansion for 5 or 6 players, which I also own, but never needed it. It is still closed and it will remain like that for a while.


This is a more modern versión, which is the one I use. Most pieces are made of plastic (villages, cities, roads, thieves)




FACTS AND FIGURES:
  • Name: THE SETTLERS OF CATAN, SEAFARERS, EXPANSIONS FOR 5-6 PLAYERS
  • Alternate Names: DIE SIEDLER VON CATAN (German), SEEFAHRER (German), LOS COLONOS DE CATÁN (Spanish), NAVEGANTES (Spanish)
  • Year:1995 and 1997
  • Company: Kosmos (Germany)
  • Size: approx. 30 x 30 cm (game box)
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