Friday, November 30, 2012

The 1978 Marx Ready Gang Catalog

Marx Ready Gang 
I'm still learning things. When I last posted about the wonderful Marx "Ready Gang" series of action figures, I pontificated that these old west figures had bombed in their initial year of 1977.

Now I discover that the line not only didn't bomb, it continued into a second year and even added new items to the line.
Marx Ready Gang

Yep, Ringo, the Sundown Kid, Black Hawk and Trooper Gibson were all back in 1978 and now they had a covered wagon as well.

As I've posted before, the Ready Gang is easily one of the 1970s most forgotten toy lines and that's a shame as it's also one of it's nicest.

More Western Figures
lone ranger toys lone ranger toys

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Yeah, so this happened today

After four days of wrestling with one of the most horrible courier companies known to man, my advance copies of Rack Toys are here.

This is the first time I've ever actually held my book and I admit I was shaking. Mostly because I was really worried that there would be something, anything in there that would make me want to not release it.

There are little things in here I'd like to do again, but I think that's an author's prerogative  I doubt the majority of folks would notice these things but take pleasure in knowing that they make me crazy. 

Anyway, these samples will go to family and friends, distributors and the crew that helped make this book a reality. The rest of the copies are already on their way set to arrive in December.

If anybody needs me I'll be reading.

Check out the facebook page for our upcoming book.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Bionic Dress up

This play suit hails from the UK and is most likely the product of Berwick, it's almost like a larger version of the Kenner Steve Austin doll's outfit. I'd have loved it to pieces as a kid, imagine combining it with the Funstuf Electrogenic arm?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Dare Devil Rider?


 I think this figure from Durham wonderfully illustrates the true joy and cheap chicanery often involved with Rack Toys. The packaging is enticing and vibrant, not to mention well done. It promises action with a slightly "Evel Knievely" setting.

 The figure however,  is a chubby guy with a flag, who looks like he might wear that helmet everywhere he goes.

As the star-burst proudly announces, he's got "Waving Flag" action! Hunh?

This was the kind of toy that clouded your mind long enough for you to get five miles away from the Zayres or the Big K, until you began to realize just exactly what you've gotten yourself into.

Check out the facebook page for our upcoming book.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Review: Lou Scheimer: Creating the Filmation Generation

By Lou Scheimer and Andy Mangels

My earliest memory in this life, other than eating delicious Play Doh on Christmas morning 1971, was watching a Batman cartoon with my sister in the TV room one random morning in  1972.

The Penguin was stealing a tank and gassed a soldier, the whole thing just intrigued me and I think started me on my love affair with Batgirl but that's another story.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, Filmation hooked me at an early age. So much so that I even identified the name “Scheimer” (I dopily mispronounced it as “Schemer” until adulthood) with joy in the mid 1970s. 

I cherish this Ark 2 Halloween costume.

Sure, I have love in my heart for the Kroffts and Hanna Barbera’s of this world but Filmation always remained my favourite. I never missed a Shazam!, Ark 2 or Tarzan as a kid, hell, I even regularly watched (but clearly did not grasp) Uncle Croc’s Block when it aired.

So it was pretty much a given that I’d invest in this new tome. Actually, I bought it twice by accident. What I worried about though, was how much of this was going to be new to me.

 As the images in this piece suggest, I’m an ardent filmation collector and fan.  I’ve bought every DVD set near and dear to me and watched the resulting documentaries many times (coincidentally, those great extras also included Scheimer and Mangels) and I even asked Mr Scheimer questions in person (he’s a nice man btw).  I worried it would just be a rehash of stuff I’ve heard ad nauseum, I like to call that the “Stan Lee Situation”.

Lou signed this for me in 2006, I can't find it now. Grrr.

Fortunately, my worries were put to rest the minute the book arrived. I lost nearly an hour pouring through the information, I’m not even done reading it but I’ve seen enough to say this book is exhaustive and absolutely captivating.

Scheimer has an incredible memory of the events that shaped Filmation starting from the beginning in landing the Superman contract to the  hey days of the 70s and 80s. Everything is there, from the successes, to the flops laid out in riveting detail.

Included are fun anecdotes like Charles Nelson Reily wandering the set of “Uncle Croc’s Block” in leopard print short shorts, replacement Shazam John Davie showing up for work with a moustache  and a story that will never make you look at Schneider from “One Day at a Time” in the same light again.

If describing things like the creation of the animated Star Trek series weren’t enough Scheimer goes into detail on what didn’t get made, stuff like a 60s Godzilla cartoon, Metamorpho, a Marx Brothers caroon, Dracula in Space, the list goes on and on and makes you wish you grow up with those shows as well.

Also unapologetically is all the lawsuits, the acrimonious split with original Captain Marvel Jackson Bostwick, the long running suit between DC comics and Filmation that occurred over (my personal favourite) the Super 7 cartoon characters.

Honestly if you were a child between the years 1966 and 1987, you’ll find something of an interest in this book.

The later chapters delve of course into the 1980s and the huge success of programs like Fat Albert, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and Bravestarr. My one quibble of the book is that it's sole colour chapter is spent on He-Man, however that’s just me and I admit it is a pretty bright marketing move as He-Man will help sell a lot of these.

In summation, I couldn't be happier with this book, it is jam packed with interesting new information on one of my favourite subjects. As a bonus, it's written in a snappy style that makes you feel that Scheimer is talking directly to you. I buy a lot of informational books such as this but I rarely read them cover to cover, Lou Scheimer: Creating the Filmation Generation is one I have trouble putting down and will likely read more than once.

Ask your local comic shop to order it, otherwise Amazon has the book for $20, which is a steal.

As I mentioned, I accidentally ordered two copies of this book for myself. I don’t plan on taking one in the tub with me so there is no need for a double. That means the second copy is up for grabs, here is the skill testing question:

What was your favourite Filmation series?

Send the answer to and I’ll draw one lucky winner out of my hat next Sunday. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Rack Toys Memories Contest Results

I am elated  to be posting the results from the Rack Toys memories contest.
Let me begin by saying, you people rock. I was floored by the amount of entries and the fact that so many of you took the time to craft such well written ones. It also gave me a renewed sense of purpose with regards to printing this book because the subject is so relatable. Pharmacy toys are our common bond it seems.

Also, we all seemed to lose our AHI parachute figures, seriously they were the #1 cause of childhood heartbreak here. We should form a support group.

Anyway, on to the winners after the jump:

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Judo Nap!

As a former child, I see the inherit coolness of pajamas that look like a Judo uniform. As a current parent, I fail to see the joy in something that encourages even more wrestling around before bedtime...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Kar-a-a-ate Men!

I had honestly forgotten that the correct spelling of this toy isn't "Karate Men" but "Kar-a-a-ate Men"  which is infinitely cooler. As much as I see this fun toy in the wild, I rarely see them in the box.  The box gives me goosebumps, it really connects into Christmas morning 1975, where I really could have used a brother....

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Train with Rocky

From left to right it goes from logical to odd to downright sublime. I don't know who ever stumbled out of a Rocky film and said "bubble fun!" but clearly it occurred and they made it happen.

Check out the facebook page for our upcoming book.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Mack Daddy trainee

Despite his zealous attitude and smile, Lanny wasn't a good fit for the organization and was eventually let go.

Friday, November 16, 2012

1982 Kenner Sea Wees Catalog

Kenner Sea Wees were a yearly staple during the late 1970s/early 1980s, poart fashion doll, part bath toy, these figures had a lasting popularity. In 1982, the theme was "Tropigals" and well, I'm not sure what the difference is..

Oh it's probably the grass skirts, look I'm not awesome with Girl's toys but I do love this stuff.

Check out the 1982 Sea Wees Catalog.

More Girls Toys

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Apathetic Spock

I love art like this in old catalogs, here Mr Spock is totally screening his calls but careful not to send the Captain to voicemail...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Powered by Spinach

Popeye merchandise is a sea (i'm hilarious) of weird, re purposed stuff that has nothing to do with the character. It's always nice to see something that while absolutely re purposed, kinda, sorta relates to the character.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Friday, November 09, 2012

The 1984 Fleetwood Toy Catalog

Fleetwood Toys was a Rack Toy manufacturer famous for nabbing the hottest licenses from TV and pop culture.

For their 1984 catalog, there were a lot of new faces replacing previous characters "CHiPs" was now replaced with "TJ Hooker", instead of "The Fall Guy" we've got the antics of the "A Team", the Marvel Comics Superheroes are still there but now under the "Secret Wars" banner.

Then there are the surprises, "The Sword and the Sorcerer" was an R rated film but Fleetwood liked the brand so much they offered two pages of toys as well as "Manimal". Sure the critics destroyed it but to Fleetwood, it was worth the gamble that kids would like it.

Click on the images below to see larger pages with descriptions:

The A Team was obviously a license to print money.

One assumes the popularity of He-Man combined with childrens' ability to see R Rated movies on cable/home video influenced the decision to make toys based on "The Sword and the Sorcerer".

Fleetwood 1984 Catalog

And just a reminder, deadline for entry in our Rack Toy contest is tonight at 11pm EST. I've gotten some great ones thus far and now I'm addicted so please join in.

Fleetwood factors heavily in our new book Rack Toys: Cheap, Crazed Playthings.

More Fun from Fleewood

1980 Fleetwood Catalog 1982 Fleetwood Catalog

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Bat Lab

The mobile Bat Lab by Mego is one of those "I missed a meeting as a kid moments" as I have virtually no memory of this item. As far as I know, I never saw it in a store, nor on television, despite friends telling me they had it growing up and it definitely was sold in Canada. 

When I first saw this, it was through the eyes of a cynical pr- teen, who immediately thought it esoteric and goofy. While the image of Batman rolling around in a VW Bus, getting high and catching criminals like some sort of vigilante Jeff Spicoli is infectious, I bet I would have loved this as a kid.

Of course, I own one now....

top ten cooolest 70s Batman toys

The Mobile Bat Lab made into this list The Top Ten Coolest 70s Batman Toys.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

L'il Huggy Bear

"Word on the playground is, Sally is about to drop the dime on Jimmy after recess in retribution for the "paste incident" but you didn't hear that from me, dig?"

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Who loves me baby?

I've postulated on the oddness of Kojak toys to the point where I'm tired of it. I will say that this set by Harmony is one of the more logical sets, except for the whistle, but I'll forgive that because the mental image of Telly Savalas running after a perp with a whistle in his mouth amuses me no end.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Greatest store display ever

Jodi sent in the wonderful store display that she spied in an antique mall. It's sadly not for sale, which is too bad because i'd be tempted to get it despite the marital strife it would (understandably) cause. Can't explain why magically being whisked to the Sears Men's department in 1974 gives me goose bumps (didn't like clothes shopping then and surprise, still don't) but it does and these Mantoothian images make me happy.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Rack Toy Memories Contest

The month of Halloween combined with getting the book to press has really done a number on me creatively. So, instead of a catalog update this Friday,  I’m just going to run a contest and lay down on this love seat for a while. 

It’s a fun one and anybody can join, so check it out after the jump.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Astrological Love

If I wore that shirt in my twenties, I think every male friend I knew (and likely a few female ones) would just be unable to see it as anything but a target for a gut punch.


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