Friday, November 30, 2012

GI Joe Grunt gets a Tan and a Glider in 1983

This is the second version of Grunt released by Hasbro, the swivel arm version is considered 1.5....
He became the Falcon Pilot at this point. Strangely enough, also in the 1983 catalog, he is still available as his green swivel self. Anyway, this is a first for the GI Joe line as Grunt becomes the first Joe to get an alternate version (Along with Grand Slam). Grunt became the pilot of the Falcon Glider, but I have to admit, tan is an odd color to package with the Camouflage glider but at least Hasbro changed him ! 
The ad for the Glider and Tan Grunt.
Featured in GI Joe #11, the glider made it's debut with ....... Airborne ????

That was awkward.....
Anyhoo ...... Grunt got some dye in his fatigues and a cool glider to let the other Joe's Borrow....


There's Kobra Khan again.......he just doesn't get it ! 
 Here's the kick....

It's gooooood !!!!!

By my birthday in 82' I had all the original Joe's and vehicles, except the MOBAT. I remember going to Hills department store Jan/Feb'ish of the next year, and unbeknownst to me, the new wave of Joe swag was hitting the shelves !! I hit the toy aisle and the there was the Glider !! I snatched that box up and, armed with some leftover Christmas money, made it my own !! I got that piece of thin Styrofoam home, put it together and stickered it up. I went living room and let it fly !!!
...... and it soared ...... flying like a beautiful falcon looking for its prey......but like all objects with mass in a gravity field, it fell to the Earth....and broke. I'm not sure but I think I may have cried. Its OK, I can admit it now.....
That glider was mainly Scotch tape by the next week. The cool thing is I still remember destroying it for good. I don't remember who was piloting but he got hit with a Cobra salvo that rocked that Glider to pieces !! I had the new catalog for a long time though :)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

GI Joe Grunt started to swivel and lost his job....

Grunt was part of the first wave of GI Joe figures released by Hasbro in 1982. The basic character. A Sergeant in the Army. Expert in all forms of warfare and arms. And as we all know, the original line had the "straight arms".
He was the Infantry Trooper. The man on the front line.

The Straight Arms were a bit limited to the posing of the figure but who cared right !! We got GI Joe and it was AWESOME!!!!
Thing is, back then, Grunt was kinda the "Face" of the franchise. Larry Hama's genius storytelling didn't structure the Joe hierarchy yet. Grunt was featured on the covers of Colorforms, Coloring Books and the Brochure for that years toy offerings.
Then in 1983, Hasbro came up with a greatest running change ever, and incorporated the Swivel Arm Battle grip into the figures. Grunt gained two important points of articulation and slimmed his waist a bit too !!
This should have been what cemented Grunt into stardom ! Look how the Swivel Arm improvement changed his effectiveness in battle !! The poses were almost unlimited.
The "Everyman's Fighting Hero" should have taken over......
Then this guy happened.
Duke was introduced into the mix as a premium in 1983 and it was all but over for Grunt. Even though he was the  corner character on the comic cover for the first 100 issues, he wasn't used much, issue # 4 being his only feature mission with Hawk. The cartoon largely ignored him. Grunt was even the first figure to get a second version. Unfortunately, "Tan" Grunt was paired with the lackluster Falcon Glider, which never became a hit due to the flimsy construction. Even in the Comics, when the Falcon Glider was debuted in issue #11, Airborne was the pilot, Grunt was left out. Eventually, he went back to civilian life as just Robert Graves, Engineer.
To me, Grunt was the greatest. He was able to be everything. While the other Joes were specialized in some way, Grunt was able to be the fighting machine. He could handle every battle situation and being an Engineer, was able to use his mind to overcome any other. I used him constantly in my play. Grunt was always on the front line, usually getting Doc's attention from the battle damage he would sustain harms way. The Infantry Man. The first man in, unfortunately also the first man out.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

POTF Anakin Skywalker : old man in a robe

Anakin Skywalker. Darth Vader before, or after the suit. Now I understand he was a mail away, then part of the mythical POTF line but......
Seriously, its like someones Dad in a robe....

Cool, "weeeee" action......

Wheres a hug for Grandpa.....
On the right, awesomeness. On the left, his robe wearing butler.

"Back in the Old Republic.."
Vader strikes a menacing pose. Anakin looks like he needs a diaper change.

I know I'm beating this guy up a bit but C'MON...... a ghost with no accessories. Woo hoo. He doesn't even look like a ghost. He doesn't even exist anymore ! They couldn't have made a Moff Tarkin figure.....nope they made this. Wedge.....naw, make a figure representing a ghost that appears on screen for 5 seconds.
Kenner could have made a Lando in Han's clothes figure....... Now that would have been cool !!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Christmas Tree is not complete without the Star Wars and Star Trek Hallmark Ornaments ...

The tree goes up on Thanksgiving weekend and it is not complete without the Hallmark Keepsake Christmas ornaments.
First up is the Darth Vader Light and Voice from 1997. This is the best ! Its the first ornament my wife and I bought after being married (we buy one new one every year with a theme for that year). This one is great as whenever it turns on it "talks".... I love every time we turn on the tree and hear:
"The force is with you young Skywalker...but you are not a Jedi yet."


Of course the Star Wars theme continued and in 2005 we bought another Vader ornament. The Darth Vader from the Empire Strikes Back - "I am Your Father" ornament. You gotta press the button for the "voice" action but it looks damn cool on the tree. Press him and you hear:
"Luke, I am your father."
"Join me. Together we can rule the galaxy as father and son."
Next is one I had from my own collection. I am a huge fan of STTNG and back when it was on I was way into it. When this one came out I HAD to have it ! The STTNG USS Enterprise with lights. Plug this one into a light on the tree and the Warp Cells light up and the light blinks on the top. This looks so frikin cool on the tree and I always manage to put it front and center.
Gotta dig the "Stardated 1993" :)
I do all the heavy lifting putting up the tree and the Wife does the decorating. I always manage to get to these ornaments first and command the best spots for em. What Geek wouldn't "figure" out a way to get some Sci Fi bling on the tree. I'm still working on the Death Star revolving around the Star at the top of the tree but, that will take a while....

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Fisher Price Mailman is Little People but Good People

From the Fisher Price line of Little People, it's The Mailman !!! I had a ton of these "Little People". I love their wooden bodies and simple design. It's a perfect toy for children to explore simple life among their plastic (and wooden) friends.
The Mailman was always a favorite. Driving the Mail truck around, delivering the goods,  a responsible and valuable part of the Little People community.
Great, now I have "Delivering the Goods" by Judas Priest in my head, but the version where Sebastian Bach and Rob Halford sung it live on MTV..... cool ......
The Little People have alot of variants from the different designs over the line's life and the eventual plastic bodies, but the "Peggish" style of body and happy demeanor is just so simple and nice.
The Mailman drives around town.....

He's got some junk in his trunk (Junk Mail that is).......

.....and he's so happy when he has to "Ring Twice" !

Some letters to the various occupants of the Little People world and his trusty Mail Truck ! I'm missing two letters and the Mail Box but they'll come along eventually....

He delivers a package to the Little People housewives all day long !!

I'm really getting into these Little People now. Fisher Price was a great spring board into the mature toys like Star Wars and GI Joe. You could stay innocent and play with nice figures before you get to the Warmongering and violence that is the rest of action figure landscape (not that I have a problem with that). I do remember "figuring" out the world around me through these toys. Learning the various types of people there are and the simple occupations that they provided. It gave me a understanding of what went on in the world around me (You're hearing the Narrator from the Wonder Years now aren't you). This guy was just a simple guy driving around town, delivering the mail as I have seen my own mailman do throughout my childhood. That gave me an insight into what life was like before I got hardcore into GI Joe.
Then I got a red marker, an exacto knife, and the Little People became cannon fodder for the War Machine.
Ahhh....youth :)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Galoob's Ric Flair, Styling and Profilin !!! Shorter than I expected....

Back in 1990, I was firmly entrenched in wrestling mania.  I deeply loved the WWF LJN line of figures and, to introduce the stars of the NWA into my little world, I would customize them to make my favorite NWA stars. I longed for the day when the NWA, which was being re-branded into WCW, would make a line parallel to the LJN's.

Unfortunately, the LJN WWF line ended, signally the end of a truly great action figure line. Hasbro became the WWF's toy maker for the 90's. I had no interest in the Hasbro line as I was getting older and those toys were too gimmicky for me. I did notice however that the WCW managed to finally produce some action figures !! I remember watching the commercials, seeing that they were molded plastic figures like the LJN's and was very happy. It was short lived. While I waited for "The Wrestling Ring" to advertise the WCW figures in the latest issue of PWI, I happened to find out that the WCW figures were sadly gonna be the same scale as the 4 inch Hasbro figures. I decided to put my resources towards King Diamond records and concert t-shirts.

Fast Forwards several years, I got over myself and finally got that plastic version of my childhood idol.

From Galoob, WCW Series 1; The Nature Boy Ric Flair !!!! A solid pose and accessorized with a title belt, this figure turned out to be pretty great !!

Well detailed, really quite a nice figure.

Head sculpt is pretty spot on to the legend !!

Cool details on the boots and tights.

OK, even though he's shorter than I wanted but I like this figure. Its a great likeness, well detailed and has a belt ! I did get my wish and got the LJN style Ric Flair figure I wanted but that will be a post for another day..........

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Remember Chu Bops ? Record albums with bubble gum inside !!

Remember Chu Bops !?! I remember these little prizes at every cash register when I was  kid. I had a ton of these, mostly the metal bands, RUSH, Judas Priest, Kiss, and the other bands just got used for their gum :)
Produced in the early 80's, these replica album covers were a snapshot of the biggest hits of the day. Made by a company named Amurol, they were the perfect price to be an easy impulse purchase if you were good by the time you reached the registers. At 29 cents you were likely to get a few !
There was some serious diversity in the bands that were represented and it makes for interesting collections from this line. On the front was the album cover. The back was either an advertisement from Chu Bops or the lyrics from a song from the album. They each were numbered for collectors on the back of each album in the top right corner.
Inside was a 3x3 miniature bubble gum album ! It was very detailed and looked like a little pink record album. I remember thinking it would work on a record player but quickly realized that the hole in the middle was to small, so I just ate it :)
Here are some I was able to score:

Two different kinds of backer and bubble gum albums !

Unfortunately mine are cracked, they get very brittle, but you can see that there are two different specimens. One was more detailed with grooves that were plainly visible, the other was grooved but smoother. Didn't matter too much, they were made to be eaten, but after seeing these things some 30 years later, its damn cool !



A better picture of the grooves.
The two different style of backers, advertizement and lyrics.

My favorite band is represented here: RUSH with their 1980 album "Permanent Waves."

Close up of the lyric sheet.

I also have these two: Foghat and Robert Palmer. Not my favorites but they came in the lot.

What little kid didn't want a bubble gum record with a miniature album cover of an early 1980's band? I know I loved em ! Being as I was already into heavy metal at the time (I know... I was only 8 !), the metal bands were kept intact for the most part. The others were used in play. They made good representations of stolen artwork so that when Cobra robbed a museum, GI Joe could rescue the priceless works !! Since they were cheap and represented bands I didn't care about, they could get ripped, burned or shot full of holes and I wouldn't care ! I could use them as props ! Its a cool product for playing or eating !!!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Coleco's Rambo and The Forces of Freedom is Impressive

Based off a cartoon (Rambo had a cartoon?) this line of figures called Rambo and the Forces of Freedom was released in the mid 80's by Coleco. This is the main character, John J. Rambo. Now, upon researching the cartoon I have found out that it was very lame and non violent, probably why it  only ran for 1 season. The movies however were a crockpot of violence and destruction !! How does a manufacturer market a figure that is either based off an awful cartoon or a R rated movie?
Make it cool......The figure is very impressive.
Captures the look from Rambo II nicely.

Seriously, this is a child's toy based off a cartoon? I doubt that the cartoon version was scarred up like this! It is a real nice touch though. It looks beautiful on the figure!

I understand that my Rambo has a different version of the famous Survival Knife than the original but WOW that's a thing of beauty!!

I'm missing some of his accessories but it doesn't take away from the display. Rambo is stocked with his knife, sheath and an M-60. The figure itself is well made. The paint and sculpting is awesome. The arms are fixed bent but the legs are ball jointed and give alot to the articulation. His 6 inch scale height is great for this figure but sadly not adaptable to 3 3/4 or 12" Joe play.

Col. Trautman will have to wait for his own review....

Rambo is a great figure but I don't see a cartoony figure in him. I suspect that Coleco used the cartoon as a way to market the figure but made him more "movie centric", scars and all. The addition of the Survival Knife is greatness !! I wasn't aware that there were Rambo figures back in the day until recently, and all I can say is CRAP!!, I would have wanted this !! His scale is a bit off to integrate him into alot of lines but I'm sure I could have scared up some victims for John J. Maybe some Remcos and a few 6" Sgt. Rock figures could have been a match for the Medal of Honor winner !! Having a like this one would have lent itself to serious guerrilla warfare combat!