Friday, October 31, 2014

Universal Studios Mini Monsters, Official Universal Studios Monsters and Universal City Studio's Monsters At Home(Remco)



Way back in 2010 we had an anonymous comment from a reader on our Karate Kid post. That reader expressed an interest in the vintage Remco Universal Monsters line of toys, and said that he/she would, "Love to see photos of the toys." Well, we don't know if you're still out there anonymous, but this one's for you. Ever since your comment all those years ago we have been painstakingly tracking down each and every one of these just for you!

Universal Studios Mini Monsters (AKA Universal City Studio's Monsters)
Remco
1979

Remco is truly a company we miss today. Back in the 70's and 80's they were known for making some of the most iconic toys of their time; Lost in Space, The Karate Kid, The Monkees, McDonaldland Characters, Sgt. Rock, and so many more. Today Remco brands are highly sought after by collectors, and the Universal Studios based monsters are no exception to that rule.

In 1979, Remco released the Universal Studios Mini Monsters, or as they are known on the package as, Universal City Studio's. No, there's no monsters on the end of that name. Instead each character's name made up the remainder of the title, I.E. Universal City Studio's Dracula, and so on.

The line was a massive success for the company, so much to the point that they made not one, but two variants of each 3 3/4 inch figure. The first variant is an obvious one - It glows in the dark. Much like the first variant, the second variant also glows in the dark. The only change is to the package which now sports a glowing green border around where the figure is encased.


Creature from the Black Lagon -  Regular*Glow in the Dark*Glow in the Dark Version 2
Dracula - Regular*Glow in the Dark*Glow in the Dark Version 2
 
We get that Remco was looking to capture the iconic creatures of Universal Studios, and for all intensive purposes they did. However for a line so popular, it would have been fantastic to see some other characters released, not necessarily limited to Universal Studios based monsters. Ones that immediately come to mind are Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Invisible Man and The Bride of Frankenstein - Just to name a few.
 

Frankenstein Monster - Regular*Glow in the Dark*Glow in the Dark Version 2
Phantom of the Opera - Regular*Glow in the Dark*Glow in the Dark Version 2
 
This is no collection for the casual of collectors. No, you're going to need a deep wallet to secure these figures. Each figure is currently ranging between $50.00 to $75.00, and that's if you can find all three versions.


Mummy - Regular*Glow in the Dark*Glow in the Dark Version 2
Wolfman - Regular*Glow in the Dark*Glow in the Dark Version 2
 
One of the most difficult pieces to find for this line is the Mini-Monster Monsterizer. Chances of finding one new in the box are slim, and chances of finding one cheap are even slimmer. On average these sell for $300.00 to $500.00 new in the box - Between $70.00 and $100.00 open with all the parts. Mind you, it's not even that big.
 

Mini-Monster Monsterizer
 
Remco also released the Mini Monster Play Case. It's playset meets carry case in all its vinyl glory. What's not to love? Much like the figures, there's a standard version as well as a glow in the dark one.
 

Mini Monster Play Case
Mini Monster Play Case Glow in the Dark Version
 
As we said above, tracking down this entire line is no easy feat. It took us over three years. Of course we're very picky about condition, and only looking for things that are (near) mint in the package. If you're looking for a challenge as a collector and have the financial backing to do so, this might be a line to turn your attention to.
 
Official Universal Studios Monsters
Remco
1980
 
Then the 70's left us, and the 80's were upon us.
 
Despite a new decade, Remco still saw a lot of value in the Universal monster brand. This time instead of focusing on 3 3/4 inch figures, Remco turned their sights towards nine inch dolls with unique features. A new name was also chosen for the series - Official Universal Studios Monsters.
 

Creature from the Black Lagoon*Dracula
 
Each doll/figure was fully poseable and featured glow in the dark hands and faces as well as the series unique play feature, Monster-Crush Grabbing Action! Some dolls also featured glow in the dark rings, and each came packed with a patch inside the box.
 

Frankenstein*Phantom of the Opera
 

The series mimicked the release of the prior 1979 line of 3 3/4 inch figures. By that we mean that it had the exact same six characters. However, being much larger, these dolls/figures have an amazing amount of detail far exceeding that of the prior series.
 

The Mummy*The Wolfman
 
Remco rounded out the series with a much larger Monsterizer which could be incorporated into play with the nine inch toys.
 

Monsterizer
 
Universal City Studio's Monster At Home
Remco

1980

...And then there were these.

Okay, so not everything Remco did with the Universal monsters brand was gold. Here's how we pictured this one came about.

SCENE - INTERIOR WAREHOUSE - DAY

Employee - "Hey boss, we have all these spare heads sitting around from the nine inch dolls. What should we do with them?"

Boss - "Meh, put them on puppets and make finger puppets with little plastic coffins and crates as the stages.

Employee - "That's brilliant! Kids in the 50's loved puppets, so clearly kids of the 70's/80's will eat them up!"

Creature from the Black Lagoon*Dracula
 
Whether it was due to poor sales or they ran out of heads, Remco only made four of the six creatures into puppets.
 

Frankenstein Monster*Mummy

Oddly enough, for as poorly as the Monsters At Home sold, these days they'll cost you about $150.00 to $200.00 for a mint in package one. For as rare as the 3 3/4 inch figures are, these are even more so harder to find.

Well, that about wraps it up for Remco's Universal monster related toys. We hope you enjoyed reading this as much as we enjoyed posting it. For all of you out there celebrating the day, have a happy and safe Halloween.

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Moonraker (AKA James Bond Moonraker) (Mego)



Moonraker
Mego
1979

Mego's Moonraker line was really the first attempt at producing a line of toys based on James Bond. But why the 11th James Bond film, and not the ten prior to it? Speculation has it that it was all about the outer space adventure theme which drew Mego to jump at the franchise.

If we've said it once, we've said it a thousand times. Mego had been kicking themselves for passing up the very lucrative opportunity to grab hold of the Star Wars license which Kenner was at the time making hand over fist profit on. As such, the company was desperate to find a movie based tie in that would produce such lucrative financial success. Sadly, this didn't come in the form of Roger Moore dolls.

Only three dolls were produced and released in the USA before Mego threw in the towel on yet another dead end toy line; James Bond, Holly Goodhead and Hugo Drax.


James Bond
 
To help keep the toy line more "kid friendly", Mego made the decision to drop the last name Goodhead of the character Holly.
 

Holly
 
In addition, the dumped the first name of the villain Hugo Drax, and simply referred to him by his last name.
 

Drax
 
European markets were a little kinder to the line, and as such were rewarded with two additional dolls. The first was a deluxe version of James Bond which included an awesome hard plastic space suit. Fans to this day are disappointed of this particular dolls exclusivity.
 

James Bond
 
For as much as fans of the series regret not having the above doll released in the USA, they more so regret missing out on the one below - Jaws. Richard Kiel's portrayl of the character was perfect, and for many fans, Jaws was (is) the ultimate nemesis of Agent 007.
 

Jaws

Typical to many Mego lines, these days the Moonraker series is more so sought after than it was in the 70's and 80's. The actual James Bond doll is the easiest (and cheapest) to track down in the line, with Holly and Drax being a little fewer and farther between. As such, while you can typically purchase a Bond in the package for $50 - $200 (depending on condition), the other two go for a little more, typically ranging from $75 - $300. Because of their region exclusive nature, the deluxe Bond and Jaws are much harder to find, and you can expect to drop anywhere from $750 to $1,000 on them.

Join us tomorrow for a special Halloween post that's been over three years in the making, and don't forget to join us on Monday when we take a look at The Authority!

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Monday, October 27, 2014

G.I. Joe: Retaliation (Hasbro)



G.I. Joe: Retaliation
Hasbro
2012 - 2013

We are definitely in the minority when we say that we liked G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. We had zero expectations for the film, and it met all of them. It's follow up, Retaliation - Not so much. The film is summed up perfectly by Rotten Tomatoes user Peter Hartlaub who states,

"The Filmmakers appear to have handed a dozen or so G.I. Joe dolls to a 9-year-old, watched him play for 110 minutes, and then shot a scene-for-scene remake."

If you're one of few people who enjoyed this film, we commend you, and ask that you please tell us what you enjoyed about it in the comment section.

Naturally, Hasbro was quick to start pumping out the Retaliation tie in toys. Unfortunately for them, they got the memo way too late that the initial release date of the film was being pushed back to a different calendar year so that it could be upsized with 3D. As a result, product hit the market almost a full year prior to the film's release, and was quickly pulled so as to not spoil any surprises.




SERIES 1
Cobra Commander*Cobra Commander (Black Suit Variant)
Cobra Trooper*Conrad "Duke" Hauser*G.I. Joe Trooper
 

SERIES 1
Red Ninja*Roadblock
Snake Eyes*Storm Shadow*Zartan
 

SERIES 2
Firefly*Flint
Battle-Kata Roadblock*Ninja Duel Snake Eyes*Sneak Attack Storm Shadow
 

SERIES 2
Alley Viper*Dark Ninja
Cyber Ninja*Joe Colton*Lady Jaye
 

SERIES 3
Budo Samurai Warrior*Cobra Commander
Cobra Combat Ninja*Crimson Guard*Data Viper
 

SERIES 3
Conrad "Duke" Hauser*Firefly
Ultimate Flint*Krinn*Ultimate Roadblock
 

SERIES 3
Snake Eyes*Ultimate Storm Shadow
 

SERIES 4
Kim Arashikage*Night Viper*Blind Master
 
Much like the film, the toys related to it came quickly, and disappeared off to clearance isles to be forgotten about. However, that's not to say that all the figures were duds. Quite the contrary. There are a lot of hidden gems to be found in the four waves which encompass the Retaliation line.
 

EXCLUSIVES
Kim Arashikage (White)*Kim Arashikage (Red)
 

EXCLUSIVES
Shockwave H.I.S.S. Tank with B.A.T. and Destro
 

EXCLUSIVES
Movie Preview Pack with Roadblock, Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow and Cobra Commander
 

MULTIPACKS
G.I. Joe Tactical Ninja Team*Cobra Invasion Team
G.I. Joe Ninja*G.I. Joe Ninja
 

ALPHA CLASS VEHICLES
Ninja Speed Cycle with Snake Eyes*Wheel Blaster Bike with Firefly*Road Retaliator with Flint
 

BRAVO CLASS VEHICLES
Cobra Fangbike*Ninja Commando 4X4
Tread Ripper Tank
 

DELTA CLASS VEHICLES
Ghost Hawk II
H.I.S.S. Tank*Ninja Combat Cruiser
 
One of the more sought after pieces from the line is the Echo Class vehicle, Eaglehawk Helicopter.
 

ECHO CLASS VEHICLES
Eaglehawk Helicopter

It's safe to say that in the long run, fans were more so forgiving of the toys than they were of the film, as for the most part product moved steadily off of store shelves. Though don't expect to cash in on these as an investment any time soon as secondary markets are pretty much non-existent. Sellers want to believe that each figure's value ranges from thirty to fifty dollars each, but the truth of the matter is that the average sale price is seven to eight dollars.

Join us next time when we take a look at Moonraker!

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Tarzan (Mattel)



Tarzan
Mattel
1978

A big problem occurred in toy isles when Kenner found massive success with Star Wars merchandise. What happened was that every toy company out there jumped at everything movie and television based in a desperate attempt to find the kind of success that sent Kenner laughing to the bank daily. As such, the market was flooded with all sort of television and movie based toys - Most of which were huge duds.

1978 wasn't going so smoothly for Mattel. They were already taking loses on their failing "TV" based toys, and it appeared that Tarzan would quickly become another license that wasn't going to blow children's minds.

The entire line (as well as several others being churned out by Mattel during the late 70's) was done so by utilizing parts from their most successful European series of the time, Big Jim. Everything got a fresh coat of paint, a new name, and of course, new packaging. As a result, these days many collectors of Big Jim seek the toys out as a sort of sub series collection.

***FUN FACT***

Look closely at the Jungle Cat in the packaging below. Does he look familiar? If you're a He-Man fan, he should. This "figure" was reused again in the 80's when Mattel released Battle Cat and Panthor for the massively popular Masters of the Universe line. The sculpt was first used in the Big Jim series for the Big Jim on the Tiger Trail set.

Tarzan with Jungle Cat
 

Tarzan with Giant Ape

These days the Tarzan line is difficult to track down. Complete sets are rare, and mint in package pieces appear to be almost non-existent. Evolution wise, these items are great collection pieces if for anything to show the history/evolution from Big Jim to Tarzan to Masters of the Universe.

Join us next time when we take a look at G.I. Joe: Retaliation!

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Mighty Muggs - G.I. Joe (Hasbro)



Mighty Muggs - G.I. Joe
Hasbro
2008

Ah, the Mighty Mugg. It's the ship that made the Kessel run in...No, wait, that was something else.

Much like it's biggest competition, the Funko Pop, there is a special place in collector's hearts for this over exaggerated, tiny plastic caricatures of some of today's most highly recognizable pop culture characters. Several iterations of series have come and gone over the years from Star Wars to Transformers, the massive waves based on Marvel Comic characters, and others. Today, we're taking a look at the very small, but incredibly fun G.I. Joe line.

The Joe line leapt out of the starting gate with a great lineup of Muggs. We of course got the two opposing leaders, Cobra Commander and Duke, as well as the rivaling duo of Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow. The first wave took off among collectors who swooped them up.


SERIES 1
Cobra Commander
 

SERIES 1
Duke
 

SERIES 1
SERIES 1
Snake Eyes
 

SERIES 1
Storm Shadow
 
Sadly, the second series of Muggs didn't strike with the same hot iron as the first series. Despite the wave offering two additional great "figures" to the line up, Destro and Baroness, it seemed as if collector's took a step back and asked, "Is that it?"
 

SERIES 2
Baroness
 

SERIES 2
Destro

As a result of the lack of sales, Hasbro cancelled their third series of Joe based Muggs which would have included Serpentor, Cobra Trooper, Shipwreck and Zartan. The news disappointed many fans who supported the line, and were looking forward to the series blooming well beyond six "figures".

Join us next time when we take a look at Tarzan!

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Nickelodeon's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Series 9 and Original Comic Book Figures (Playmates Toys)



Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Series 9
Playmates Toys
2014

Ninja Turtle fans rejoice! New figures have hit store shelves, and though they're a little difficult to get your hands on them during their initial release, rest assured that they'll soon be in abundance.

The basic series contains the all new Tiger Claw and Robotic Foot Soldier, while the all new sub series includes the original comic book versions of Michelangelo, Leonardo, Donatello and Raphael.

As it has become typical in this series, most of that great detail in paint on the figures and vehicles is lacking in the actual retail versions vs. the production photos provided by Playmates Toys. We know this is something that has turned a lot of people off on the series.


Tiger Claw
 

Robotic Foot Soldier
 

***UPDATE***
 
We've found a variant! Hooray? Variant hunters should be on the lookout for a very subtle variant in the Robotic Foot Soldier. The emblem on the red bandana on his head has been found in both shiny silver and dull light gray. It's a minor one, but probably enough to excite some variant hunters. The bigger variant is that the silver emblem figures come on cardbacks that have the words "Interchangeable hand weapons!" Printed on the bottom left of the card. The gray ones don't have the printed text, but rather a sticker that says it. The sticker is to the left of the right leg.

 
Fans of the original TMNT comic book series will be excited to own these all new figures based on the comic. It's been a series that we've waited thirty years For Playmates Toys to get around to doing. Hopefully they'll continue with figures like these, bringing us all sorts of original renditions of our favorite characters.
 
Original Comic Book  Leonardo
 

Original Comic Book Michelangelo
 

Original Comic Book Donatello
 

Original Comic Book Raphael
 
Finally the long awaited Shell Flyer is on store shelves. This one actually hit last month, and is definitely easier to find than the figures.
 
In addition, the all new Hot Rod with Hot Rod Mikey was released in August of this year, but is just now being more abundantly released around the USA.
 


Shell Flyer
 

Hot Rod with Hot Rod Mikey
 
Fans of the RC Shellraiser will be happy to see two additional vehicles released with RC features - Leonard's RC Patrol Buggy and Raphael's RC Patrol Buggy. What's odd about these vehicles is that many websites such as Toys R' Us are advertising the Raphael buggy, but not Leonardo's.
 


Raphael's RC Patrol Buggy
 

Leonardo's RC Patrol Buggy
 
***UPDATE***
 
Those of you interested in buying the same figures again should jump on the opportunity to nab the Target exclusive 3 Pack Exclusive Leonardo. It's essentially a package that contains the 2014 Original Comic Book Leonardo, the 2012 Nickelodeon's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Leonard, and the recent 30th anniversary re-release of the 1980's Leonardo.
 
At $27.00 (online price) that's not a price point that leaves us eager to jump at a collection of figures we've already got. Not only that, but with how often most retailers put their TMNT figures on sale for either $7.99 each or buy one get one 50% off, it's not like you couldn't track down all three of these figures individually for much cheaper. So what's the incentive here? A cardboard box?
 
If this is a must have item for you, then you can find it at your local Target soon, or now at their online store "HERE".
 
 
 
 
Last up for retail releases is the all new carry case. This particular version may be disappointing to fans as it doesn't have any slots or trays for actually holding figures. It's essentially a hollow box that you would "throw" your figures into a pile in.
 

Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Carry Case
 
Variant hunters should be on the look out for the new version of the series one Foot Soldier. The original version had white eyes with red speckles. The new version has black eyes with red speckles. Below is a photo comparison of the original vs. the new release variant.

 
The all new SDCC exclusive black and white Raphael which was released at this year's San Diego Comic Con is one amazing figure both in detail and fan appeal. It was a great teaser for the upcoming sub series of comic book Turtles, and makes an excellent addition to any fan's collection. Of course you won't find these in stores anywhere, so ebay is going to be one of your few options for nabbing this figure now.
 
 
 
Happy hunting Turtle fans!
 
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