Thursday, December 31, 2009

My Top Ten List of Cool Toys from this Past Decade!

I had such a blast with the Christmas Top 10 List, I starting thinking about this new year and the past Decade of Toys. I know a lot of you might not agree with me, but this is my list of toys I thought were too cool or I would never, ever see make it to shelves again. These are the toys I would stay up late and obsess over. The stuff that I would think about constantly until they were in my grubby little hands!

Number 10 - Marvel Legends by Toy Biz

Believe it or not Marvel Legends didn't appear until around 2002. I think these action figures were a game changer at the time. See, you either had wonky looking heroes or those ultra detailed McFarlane "toys" that were more like little statues. Marvel Legend came around and suddenly you had a toy that looked awesome and had tons of articulation. I remember seeing these in stores and it was the first time I was introduced to the concept of buy them when you see them, cause they will not be there on payday.

Number 9 - GI Joe 25th Anniversary

2007, not that long ago launched the 25th Anniversary of the GI Joe Real American Hero 3-3/4" figures. I remember seeing Toy Fair pictures of the first sets and thought, holy cow those are awesome. I needed them, had to have them. I didn't think I would ever find them in stores. Funny how you mind goes into the toy fever when new toys are announced. This series of figures continued till 2009 and the movie figures (using the same molds) were released. Still for a time this line was constantly on my mind.

Number 8 - Lego Batman

2006 brought us the most awesome set of Lego toy known to man. Non other than the Dark Knight himself. I for one didn't see this coming. I had planned to buy as much of this stuff as possible, but as with most Lego purchases I was limited. I still wish I would have picked up a few more sets. Lego could have its own top ten list and the Batman sets would still be in my top ten. Then they released the Batman Lego Video Game, which I just picked up, and brought a whole new dimension to Batman Legos, weeeeeeee Legos. Its fun just saying that word!

Number 7 - Hasbro's Rise of the Silver Surfer Toys

Another 2007 line. While the toys may have not been popular with most, I for one was ecstatic that the movie even came out. I have waited a loooooong time to see my favorite Marvel Hero on the silver screen. The toys for me were the icing on the cake. I still need to get the Silver Surfer on the Motor Cycle, that one is just too funny.

Number 6 - Minimates

I love Japanese style block figures and I love the Art Asylum take on these. It all started in 2002 with the larger 3" size, which in my opinion was the best size for these, and continued to this day with the much more accepted 2" body style. I remember when the 2" figures hit stores and Marvel lead the way! My favorite to this date is the Rhino, which I will have to post here in the future. It hasn't stopped with Marvel, DC joined the fray for a while, Ghostbusters, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Lord of the Rings, and on and on. I really haven't talked much about my love for Minimates, I'll have to correct that for 2010.

Quick note it was hard picking my top five, I really love all these toys and listing them in order was a challenge for me. Back to the list!

Number 5 - Hasbro Star Wars Early Bird Kit

I'm talking about the new take on the Early Bird Kit here, 2005, Revenge of the Sith brought this Original Trilogy Set into reality. I had heard about it months before hand, and then spent every waking moment scheming on how to get my hands on them. The whole adventure can be read here. Suffice it to say I never thought I would have a second shot at something like this, probably more for the fanboy I love these figures more than some of the other Star Wars figures that have been coming out since the mid nineties.

Number 4 - Mattel Retro Superheroes

2009, this one just flew in under the radar. It seems like it was announced and then it was here. I will go on record as saying I never thought I would see Mego or Mego-Like figures in stores again. This line is really just starting out with the bulk to be released throughout 2010. Green Arrow here did make it for 2009 and I have to say I am excited to see were this line will go. All thanks to the efforts of Dr. Mego, Paul Clarke, a founding member of EMCE toys. Thanks Paul! I can now have the DC line I didn't get when I was younger. The figures I want the most? Batman, the Flash and Aquaman.

Number 3 - Hasbro BMF Millennium Falcon

click picture for link

Holy crap, when I saw the spy pictures of this thing I freaked out, vowing that it would be mine. This was 2008 when it was released. It took me till 2009 to get one, but I did and now realize I don't have the room to store it. It's freaking huge! It's also loaded with awesome and a sprinkle of best freaking Star Wars vehicle ever!

As Ferris Bueller would say, if you have the means I would highly suggest picking one up!

Number 2 - EMCE Star Trek Retro Cloth Figures

A nice way to say Mego! Around 2006 these were announced. I immediately went to my local comic shop and plopped down the cash to reserve the first offering, Captain Kirk and the Klingon. Later I learned a lot of online retailers would be offering the rest of the set and I pretty much kept up with this set religiously. Like the Mattel Retro Superheroes, I never thought these would see the light of day, or that they would make as many as they have. Favorites? All of them! I even scored a Bridge Playset! The word on the "street" is 2010 will bring some more Star Trek goodies in this line!

Number 1 - Round 2 / AMT Mr. Spock and the Interplanetary UFO

click image for link

Okay I cheated, two at number one, but in my defense they are both models released by the same company. Plus, as I was freaking out about one, I discovered the other was coming out as well. I have such fond memories of building these two kits as a kid and often thought about paying the high prices for the originals on ebay, except one is practically impossible to find there and the other was outrageous on the price. So when I saw these were coming out I knew I would do without lunch for a few weeks, sell blood or work for toys to get them.

I haven't put either one together, matter of fact I'm still waiting to get my UFO, but it's on the way and close enough to 2009 for me to include on this list. I plan on building Spock for the Spocklection and hopefully have my son's help, along with his awesome skills at painting figures, for the build. Since this will be the first time I have put together a kit in years I may even document all my frustration at building them up on the blog.

I can say this when I opened the box from CultTVMan's Models, an awesome shop by the way, excellent customer service and great to deal with, I had such a rush of nostalgia, it was like I was seeing this kit for the first time again at the dime store on the top shelf.

Well, that's my list. It has been a cool year, and great decade for toys, I hope everyone out there has a great 2010, Happy New Year from eclectorama!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Top Ten Favorite Childhood Christmas Gifts

I had planned on just posting a couple of old photos I found in my parent's photo albums and saying something like "hey, check out all the cool old toys", but then I was tagged by Brian at Yesterville Toy Room and now have a much longer and hopefully better post.

A quick disclaimer, I may not have every date correct and I shamelessly took some photos from some auctions, so Santa if you are reading this, I did it for the greater good. Also I did have some help and permission to use photos from another blogger, Brian of Plaid Stallions. Go to this site and be amazed at the 70's toy catalogs he has archived. Its like when you were a kid and would flip through the Sears Wishbook and drool over all the great photos of toys and swag you wanted for Christmas. Thanks again Brian.

On to the list! Now these are going to be in order of which they were pretty much received, I have a hard time picking the best of anything, so I cannot in all good conscious say one toy is better than the other, they all have great memories attached to them. I will end my countdown with the one I still have in the collection, so that is something.

Number 10 - Tonka

Let me start with this Photo, man do I look happy. Behind me is quit the line up of Tonka and I believe maybe some Tootsie Toys. While not a Christmas memory, Tonka was a staple. Every kid on the block had an assortment of Tonka in the garage. They were pretty much used for everything. Dump trucks could pull duty as a GI Joe troop carrier, Fire Trucks, no matter the scale, could be called upon for any sort of emergency that our little minds could dream up. So this is my earliest collection of rough and ready Tonka Trucks. I remember the Firetruck surviving several years of tough play in particular.

A little note about this picture, in the foreground is my Winnie the Pooh, yes I had stuffed toys as a kid, I think the Frog may have been my sister's and I ended up with it, that's another story. Pooh here was hand made by my Mother and while not a Christmas gift, he was always welcome to join in the fun of testing out the toys.

Number 9 - Lego

This picture is going to be used for several toys on this list. It was taken at my Grandparents house, we had traveled there to celebrate the holiday. I vaguely remember being concerned that Santa would no be able to find me and it was also the trip that my Grandfather's German Shepherd bit me.

There were a few Christmases that I received Lego, the biggest was when Lego was launched here, at least introduced to me, and my mother and father purchased a huge box of Lego parts, my mother even sewed a drawstring bag so I could store them in. That is not this Christmas though. This Christmas was the year I was introduced to Lego theme sets. The Lego Set 565 Moon Landing. It was also the first time I had ever seen Lego People.

I think of this set every time I pick up a new one and see the mini figs of today. I remember building this set Christmas night right before dinner and then playing with it up until bed time. I was fascinated with anything Space or Flying as a kid. Nice transition into the next on the list.

Number 8 - Flying Aces

Same photo, and it's the large Aircraft Carrier in the foreground. Sorry I do not have a better photo, but believe me this toy by Mattel was freaking great. It was a huge, for a kid, plastic aircraft carrier that came with two foam F4U Corsairs, think Ba Ba Black Sheep. One of many of my favorite airplanes from the World War II era. The cool thing was that these bad boys really flew!

The aircraft carrier used rubber bands to create the launching system and with the flip of a lever your staged Corsair would fling from the deck and into the air. From what I remember these bad boys could fly far too. This was one of two aircraft carriers I owned as a kid, the second was one my dad had made, about the same size so I could place my airplane models on. This was a few years later of course.

Number 7 - Space 1999 Eagle

This could easily be my number one if I was ranking these that way, but I wanted to keep it with this group. Again from the Christmas at the Grandparents. I loved this toy, didn't fully understand the show, but the toy was AWESOME! I remember when we finally made it back home after Christmas, taking this bad boy out to the front yard, where all my buddies were so we could all compare presents and it being the most awesome toy of the block.

This thing had it all, figures, weapons, a working winch. Doors and hatches. Plus the front pilot section and the engine section could separate from the large ship and for a smaller ship, so you had a base and a smaller space ship.

This toy is one I wish I had or could find complete to this day. That is how awesome it was. This is one with the help of Brian of Plaid Stallions I can bring you some sweet catalog photos. One thing to note is the figures they picture in the catalog are way more cooler looking than what came with the ship. It came with three, al in orange space suites, no painted details, plus the only female had a recycled male body. I think this really ruined any hope of actress Barbara Bain making it to the back of the door where I kept my Farrah Faucet poster, along with the other angels.

Number 6 - GI Joe Sea Wolf

I wish I had a picture of me playing with this sub. I can tell you I remember wanting to go swimming Christmas morning and it was an extremely long wait till it was warm enough for me to get this bad boy into a pool. See, the tub was just not going to do, this thing could submerge and resurface, with a 12" GI Joe at the controls! That same Christmas, my buddy who lived directly behind our house received the GI Joe Helicopter. We were set we had them by air and sea, plus we each had jeeps, so land was covered as well.

When it did warm up, the first thing I did was take this sub into the pool and hunt me down some treasure and a squid. The squid came with the set. The only place the sub ever went was in the pool, too many parts for the lake or ocean. The squid was another story.

The squid that came with this set still haunts me to this very day. I can tell you what lake, what beach at that lake, and about how far I was in the water when I lost him. Every time... every freaking time I go near that lake or someone mentions its name I think of this squid and how I just let him slip through my fingers. I stayed and searched for him as long as my parents would let me, but no success. I would swear to you that the last glimpse I had, was him swimming away, like a real squid. Which, I had never seen a real squid swim at that time.

Number 5 - Evel Knievel Scramble Van

I think every boy growing up in the Seventies had some sort of Evel Knievel toy. That man was simply amazing, he would continue to break his bones and then get right back up and try again. The Scramble Van was like his mobile head quarters. The thing I remember most was all the tools. It seemed like he had an endless supply of tools and whatnot to fix his bike or rocket bike.

The other thing I remember is that you could make a ramp with a piece that slide off the back and send Evel into the sky. This would be another toy I wouldn't mind tracking down someday. At least one of the re-releases of the bike and figure set.

This was probably the start of my fascination with seeing how high I could jump my dirt bikes later on. I never had a Scramble Van for my motorcycles, but that didn't stop me from trying to break some bones. I am proud to say that with all my motorcycles I haven't broke one bone. Oh, I jumped them off cliffs and have been ran over in a race by several other riders, but no broken bones... knock on wood.

Number 4 - Star Team

If you have read my blog before, you know of my love for the Star Wars Early Bird kit. To sum it up, I didn't get an early bird kit, Kenner didn't have Star Wars toys ready for Christmas 1977, but Ideal did. The Ideal Star Team was made up of the heroic ZEM 21 and ZEROID and their Star Hawk and the Evil KNIGHT OF DARKNESS. I received all of the characters in one shot. That is a lot of knock offs to get for one Christmas.

Now this is where I get some more help from Brian of Plaid Stallions, because he has some of the best photos of this line, but for the life of me I do not remember my Star Hawk being packed with a red version of the ZEROID. I only had the Blue ZEROID.

I will admit, when I opened the first one the first thing that shot through my young mind was "What the hell are my parent's trying to pass off on me here... this isn't a Star Wars guy" But as I opened them all up and actually started playing with them, they were really a load of fun. Plus, they were close enough to Star Wars guys. I have to say that along with the Space 1999 Eagle, this is one set I wish I still had, and every once in a while I still try to track a nice, complete set of the three characters down online. No luck yet and yes I am aware of the irony that the prices for these knock offs are higher than some of the official Star Wars toys.

Still the memories of these three guys are great, and I want to make sure my parents know I wasn't that disappointed in not getting any "real" Star Wars guys that year, besides they made up for it since then.

Number 3 - Micronauts

I had me someMicronauts, it seemed like for two or three years Micronauts made it under the tree or attended Birthdays and even were just purchased as a fun thing on a summer day. Surprisingly I do not have any of my original Micronauts left. I do remember the Christmas that a few came my way that I will never forget.

The Battle Cruiser, holy cow this thing had so many parts that it could be intimidating for a lesser child, but not the case for me. This thing could be assembled in it standard configuration or broken apart into numerous other vehicles.

Then there was this guy. Biotron...

You could put a regular Micronaut in his chest, he could form a tank, plus he was a big freaking robot! I also remember getting one of the small Die Cast Orbiters that year, I want to say this is about 1978 or 1979. The Orbiter was a Christmas Eve gift, we have a tradition that the children in our family get to open one small gift on Christmas Eve, if they are good. I think my parents came up with this tradition so we would stop trying to sneak peeks at the presents or bugging them to open the presents. We were supposed to have our pick of one present, but they usually steered us towards a smaller one. A tradition that I carried on with my son.

I would have to say you would be pretty hard pressed to come up with a Micronaut toy that I didn't have or had played with at a friends house between 1978 and 1980. To name a few Baron Karza, Space Glider, Time Traveler (several), Acroyears and a mountain of vehicles. The cool thing about Micronauts was they came in so many colors and sizes, that you could have about 10 of the same guy and they would look different.

Number 2 - Big Trak

I have no idea who dreamed this mad machine up, but he or she was a genius. The year that Big Trak came to town I not only received the Big Trak, but the dumping Big Trak wagon accessory as well.

The idea behind this toy was you programed it's movements into its computer, then hit go and watched it carry out your instructions to the letter. Plus, how cool is it that it's a big future tank? I also received a Corvette that had this same programable feature, which confused me. Why two toys that did basically the same thing? It was great fun battling Big Trak and a Corvette though.

I still have the battery cover that goes on top. It had two, one for all the batteries it took to drive the thing on the bottom and the circular one on top for the nine volt that drove the computer. This bad boy could go over just about anything and performed equally well on carpet or the kitchen floor.

I think that they should bring this one back. I think kids today would love this thing.

Number 1 - Star Wars Sand Crawler

Again, not number one because it's my favorite and I did take this one out of order, but I still have most of this one in my collection. It's missing a few parts, like the droid elevator, the ladder and the remote, but still it's a fun piece to have kicking around. Every time I see this figure I think of Christmas Day, my mom is making dinner and Emit Otter's Jug Band Christmas is playing for the up-tenth time on HBO. I have a small band of Jawas (2) hunting down droids on the kitchen floor and this Sand Crawler is doing the all to familiar go forward and then backwards to help it change direction. Sure it's not to scale, but it could really move on its own.

This, to me is what made Star Wars fun. It's all the crazy gimmicks they incorporated into these toys back then, the floating Landspeeder, the exploding wings of a Tie Fighter, the one LED on the end of an X-Wing. These things made them magical and fun.

This Sandcrawler reminds me of all that, I can almost smell the Turkey in the oven and my mom yelling "get that thing out of here, I'm trying to cook!"

Well, that's it for my list, Thanks Brian at Yesterville Toy Room for including me, thanks Brian at Plaid Stallions for letting me use some of your pictures, thanks to all those ebay sellers that still have some of this stuff so I could "borrow" your pictures (hey maybe it will help you make a sell) and thanks mom and dad for all the great stuff over the years.

Merry Christmas to all from Eclectorama!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Spock Stop 10: Culver City, CA

Spock's last stop in California was with Bryan Sanders of Culver City. For a while I thought he would be trapped in CA, but it is a large state and he did see some crazy stuff... anyway Spock's host for this stop is another member of the Mego Museum, a pretty cool place for some vintage toy goodness, plus everyone there is really friendly in the forums. That all said, I'll let Bryan take it away for this installment of Spockcation.

A visit to Santa Monica, California—Spock learned all about obey giant in Bryan’s classroom where he met the locals.

These guys guard the Negative Ion Blaster.

Bert enjoyed “Mustache Day” more than most.

The daisy-patterned lecturn has much to say about the cobra snake

Aunt Celina will be happy to see her chicken gift to me featured on this blog. She doesn’t believe that I actually keep her presents.

Spock meditated for a full hour next to the cranberry sauce station during our Thanksgiving event.

A visit to Venice, California—Spock and Bryan giving a prosperous hello to former student, friend and tremendous artist Hal Bergman

Spock considers his options.

Everyone does yoga out here.

Spock and I silently said goodbye amidst the sounds of Venice at Windward Avenue.

Those are some great pics Bryan, thanks again! Spock is off to his next stop in Wyoming. Stay warm Spock, you're not in CA anymore. Below are some links where you can find Bryan. Until we get our next report from the road live long and prosper.

Places you can find Bryan
Bryan on Twitter

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Special Message From Spock

"Hello all my fans of Spockcation! Just a little update to let you know all is well. I have finally finished up in California and I will have my last of the California stops posted next week. Next is Wyoming!

Charles (aka Chunky B) has been very busy clearing my landing a few stops in advance and asked me to pass along some info. So, here we go."

Here's some Spockcation Travel facts:

Spock has completed 10 stops since he started on April 14th of this year.

Spock has visited 6 states and Canada.

Spock has actually made his way into Canada with two different hosts.

Spock has had multiple stops in the following states so far: Florida and California.

Spock has logged an estimated 15,924 travel miles.

Spock's longest distance he has traveled was estimated 3316 miles from Boca Raton, FL to Seattle, WA.

Spock's shortest distance he has traveled was estimated 11 miles in California.

Spock has been traveling for 8 months, more precisely 242 days.

Spock has 24 more stops in his trip.

Spock's estimated return to his home state is November 2010... Holy crap! Did I figure that right?

Spock has not packed a jacket.

Also some fun notes, Spock has been lost once, to my knowledge, on mass transit and found later. Also, judging by the photos his lei, which was designed to last only his first stop to kick things off, looks like it has made it about 5 stops. This really surprised his lei maker, we had bets it would only survive two stops at best.

I have figured if you take the 242 days and divide by his 10 stops he has averaged 24 days per stop so far, which is high because of side trips, being returned in the mail and some lengthy stays in a few spots. I hope to have this cut down now and would like to remind everyone to please keep him moving, he's only a third complete in his mission to date.

So, when is your turn to host Spock? Heres a quick list of his next stops, I'll let you guys do the math. WY, CO, KS, IA, NB, MN, IL (two stops), IN, OH, NY, CT, VT, NH, MA, NJ (two stops), NC, TN, GA (three stops), AL and TX.

That's the update, more Spockcation to come – looks like it will run into 2010 a bit. Live long and prosper.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Heeeeeeeres Mola!

If you are seeing Mola Ram here it means it didn't snow in San Antonio (or at least enough to look like Hoth), which means the hour I spent digging out my Snowtroopers, AT-AT and Wampa were for nothing. Maybe next year : (

That's okay I'll talk some about my good buddy Mola. When Hasbro released the new Indiana Jones product for the fourth movie I went whole hog trying to find all the single pack figures, to date I never found any from the Temple of Doom set and a couple from the Last Crusade set. So when I saw the Mighty Mugg of ole' Mola Ram here hit the clearance aisle I thought why not. He stayed in his box for a couple of days until I got around to freeing him and true to Mighty Mugg form grew to be one of my favorites.

If you have read my thoughts on Mighty Muggs you know what I'm talking about here, if not, in a nut shell, the goofier the expression the better the Mighty Mugg. Who couldn't love this face? He doesn't look scary at all like in the movie, matter of fact he looks a little excited to see you.

Bonus, Mola's headpiece is removable which means anyone in the Mugg Universe can be a high priest! He even has a little flaming heart accessory so you can recreate all the heart ripping action in your own backyard!

Kali Ma, Kali Ma!!!