Thursday, September 18, 2014

Star Wars Laser Pistol and Laser Rifle (Kenner)

Star Wars Laser Pistol and Laser Rifle
1977 - 1983

Back in the 70's and 80's, children were able to clearly establish between reality and fantasy, or rather, most of the friends we knew could. As a result we lucky kids were able to have toy guns. Be it cap guns, water guns or simply sticks that we fashioned in our minds as guns, many a child found hours of entertainment running around their parents backyards with their friends (GASP) shooting at each other. It was good clean fun, and with the exception of the occasional tripping and falling nobody got hurt.

In this era of non violent children, well, with the exception of the occasional fist fight with your "enemy" who shortly after became your best friend, Kenner lobbed at us our first real opportunity to be Han Solo or Luke Skywalker when they produced the amazing Star Wars Laser Pistol and 3 Position Laser Rifle.

What made these toy guns absolutely the best to every kid on the block who longed to play out scenes from Star Wars was the inclusion of movie accurate sound effects. No longer did we have to run around the yard shouting, "pew, pew, pew." No, sir. Now the guns did all the work for us - If you had the required "C" and "D" batteries that is.

With the success of their toy guns, when it came time for toys based on the next chapter in the Star Wars Saga, Kenner followed up with a re-release of the Laser Pistol and 3 Position Rifle.

The Laser Pistol was given a complete overhaul of the packaging, incorporating the new film's logo on not only the box, but also a sticker which was adhered to the guns, much like the original Star Wars logo was adhered via sticker to the prior releases. Sadly, the 3 Position Rifle only got an updated sticker, while the box used remained the same.

On a side note, we have seen foreign released versions of the 3 Position Laser Rifle which includes an Empire Strikes Back logo on the packaging, but to date have not seen a US released version with this type of packaging. If one exists, we don't know about it.

In addition to re-releasing the two guns above, kenner also revamped the 3 Position Laser Rifle into the newly released Electronic Laser Rifle. This gun encompassed the majority of the design of the prior released rifle, but updated the back end, and removed the stock. This made for a more movie accurate version of the gun.

With popularity still surrounding the toy guns, when Return of the Jedi was released, Kenner once again re-released the Laser Pistol, and chose to also re-release the Electronic Laser Rifle. Both were updated with Return of the Jedi packaging, and also a sticker which had the film's logo on it which was adhered to the side of the toys.

Just when all was looking well, Kenner released the step child of this particular "series" of toys.

The Biker Scout Laser Pistol was a dud of a toy for children who wanted to play Star Wars in their backyards. If you showed up to play with this gun, you were automatically put on the Empire's side, and labeled "the poor kid". Kids would ask you, "Have you even seen the movies?" If you pressed the matter, they'd say, "Fine. You can be Leia then." We weren't violent, but we sure were cruel.

As an adult, we can see the coolness in this gun that we so naively overlooked as kids. Source material wise, it's pretty spot on to the movies, and the inclusion of a see through scope, and sound effects - again, with the required "C" batteries - This was one hot toy that many of us missed out on actually enjoying.

Worth mentioning is that ALL the packaging for these toys is highly susceptible to crushing inward from the top and bottom. We've seen a lot of packaging that has simply warped for really no reason. As a result, it's difficult to find mint in package versions, especially of the 3 Position Laser Rifle which seems more so likely to have this bowed packaging than the others.

It's a real shame that kids these days don't have the opportunities we had to play with toy guns like we could. Back then we could run around the neighborhood pretending to shoot at each other, and nobody called the cops. Nobody brought a real gun to the game. There was no threat of violence or fear that we would turn into gun toting psychopaths. No, we just had amazing adventures as our imaginations sucked us into our worlds of play. It was really the last decades where kids could be kids in this now hurry up and grow up world.
Pretty much every reputable toy company out there got into the toy gun business. If a movie came out that was heavy on guns, toy manufacturers were there to capitalize on their popularity. Here are a few of our honorable mentions;
Rambo was a big money maker for LJN, and even though the movies weren't geared towards kids, their 1985 motorized water guns were big hits among kids. All of us had water guns growing up, but only a select few of us had motorized ones, and boy were we jealous of those kids.
LJN released both the Motorized R.P.G Rocket Water Launcher and the Motorized Water Hawk High Powered.

Mattel went ape crazy with the 1970's Tommy Burst and Ape Mask combo pack from the film Planet of the Apes. What made this gun awesome was that it made "Real Machine Gun Sounds" without the need for batteries or caps.

Does the 1991 Batman Sonic Neutralizer from the Dark Knight line look familiar? It should because it's nothing more than a repainted Electronic Laser Rifle from the above The Empire Strikes Back line. The Batman insignia at the bottom of the package was actually inserted into the barrel of the gun, and the sound effects were changed to a more high pitched...Well, sonic effect.

It's probably our least favorite of the bunch, but still pretty awesome. The Ultra Blaster from the 1988-1989 line, Robocop Ultra Police. The gun featured a rotating set of barrels, and laser like sound effects, and even came packed with a Robo-Helmet.

Did we miss any of your favorite toy guns? Let us know in the comments sections.

Join us next time when we take a look at Batman Classic TV Series!

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Dune (LJN)


Dune is one of those sci-fi series that you either love or hate. At least that's how it is with the people we know. The series was created by Frank Herbert for the 1965 novel of the same name, and since then has gone on to be adapted into television, movies, comics, and seen several more novelizations which all take place in its universe.

In 1984, LJN procured the rights to produce a series of toys based on the film adaptation staring the likes of Kyle MacLachlan, Sting, Sean Young, and a relatively unknown Patrick Stewart. The film was poorly received by most critics who found it to be confusing, cheaply produced, and some even went as far as to call it the worst film of the year.

As a result, the toy line did horribly, which was a shame because unlike most of LJN's work at the time, this line didn't turn out all that bad. The figures were fairly spot on to their screen renditions (by the era's standards of sculpting anyway). Only six figures ended up hitting store shelves, though eight were initially planned.

Baron Harkonnen*Feyd*Paul Atreides

Rabban*Sardaukar Warrior*Stilgar the Freman
The two scheduled, but unproduced figures mentioned above were Gurney Halleck and Lady Jessica. Finished prototypes of the figures are known to exist, and were even used in the 1984 LJN catalog which advertised the entire line of toys.
One of the best items to come out of the series was the Sandworm. This creature was just awesome for its time, and even today stands out as a well put together piece of plastic. An interesting bit of history on the packaging of the Dune toys was that the Sandworm actually had a yellow rectangle painted over it, and in big bold black letters it read, "Top Secret".
The Spice Scout was a funky looking vehicle, and the only one produced for the line that could be incorporated with the figures above.

Sandworm*Spice Scout
Whenever LJN got its hands on a particular license, they were notorious for making various sizes of things that while related to the series could never all be incorporated together. The Rough Riders Motorized Sand Scouts were no exception. Even if these small vehicles had hatches or doors to open, which they didn't, there was no way you would be able to fit a figure inside.

Rough Riders Motorized Sand Scout
Sand Roller*Sand Crawler*Sand Tracker

The final items produced for the series were the Fremen Tarpel Gun and Sardaukar Laser Gun . These items were designed to be played with by kids in a cosplay format.

Freman Tarpel Gun*Sardaukar Laser Gun

Join us next time when we take a look at vintage Kenner Star Wars Laser Weapons!

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Thundarr the Barbarian (Toynami)

Thundarr the Barbarian

Thundarr the Barbarian is one of those cartoons you either love or hate. Personally, we're not fans. However, when it comes to toys, Toynami did an amazing job of capturing not only the likeness of the characters, but also incorporating a sort of nostalgic feel in them through the paint jobs and overall design.

Thundarr got his moment in the animated spotlight in 1980 as a Saturday morning cartoon from production company Ruby-Spears Productions. The character himself was created by Steve Gerber. Though the series ran for two seasons, only twenty-one episodes were produced.

Fans were pleased to see the entire trio of the main line up produced. This meant in one fell swoop they could have their entire series from the starting gate regardless of whether or not villains were produced - Which they weren't.

To coincide with the figures, Toynami produced a convention exclusive version of Thundarr. The figure is the same sculpt as the retail release but includes a sword which more acurately depicts the glowing effect from the television series.

Thundarr the Barbarian*Thundarr the Barbarian (2003 Toynami Convention Exclusive - Limited to 1,000)

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

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Flash Gordon (Mego)

Flash Gordon

Flash Gordon wasn't really something we took an interest in until we saw the film staring Sam Jones on Laserdisc back in the early 80's. Not only was that our first step into the world of the character, but also our introduction to the band Queen. Of course the Mego line below has nothing to do with either that particular movie nor the band Queen.

No, this 1976 version of the toys was based heavily on the comic book and serials of the original era of the character. It's a real shame that only four figures got produced as the world of Flash Gordon encompasses so many races that the possibilities were all but endless.

Flash Gordon*Dr. Zarkon

Though the artwork of the cardbacks are fairly bland, the overall color scheme really comes together with the figures, making for one fine piece of eye candy. 

Dale Arden*Ming the Merciless

Mego loves producing massive playsets, and the one produced for this particular series was no exception. This fold out playset measured 12.5" X 15.25" X 11", and included decal stickers, a computer, throne and several card accessories.

Flash Gordon Playset

Flash Gordon Playset (Open View)

Join us next time when we take a look at Thundarr the Barbarian!

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Shadow Strikers (Kenner)

Shadow Strikers

It's a shame that a vast majority of toy collectors out there don't know about Kenner's Shadow Strikers. Granted, it didn't have a cartoon series to help boost sales. Instead, just the back story included with the toys;

Lance Heston produces a substance which he calls trasparium. The material is stronger than steel, and has the benefit of also being able to turn invisable. The evil Dr. Viper steals the formula, and bent on world domination forms a terrorist group known as the Evaders armed with vehicles produced from the material. To counter this threat, the government forms its own group of special agents who are assigned to stop the threat. Led by Heston himself, the group call themselves the Shadow Strikers.

Sounds kind of like G.I. Joe, except with clear plastic vehicles that show all the inner workings.

Sadly, beyond that there's not much to say. It was a small niche line that as we said above not many people know about today. The items produced were pretty rad for their time...Oh, wait, that was the 90's, and you couldn't say rad anymore. They were pretty cool for their time.

Devistator Missile Launcher*Dustdevil Attack Chopper
Hurricane Scout Plane*Mutator Battle Tank

Stinger Mini Jet

Sandstrom Dune Buggy
Smokescreen Cycle

Tyhoon Racer

Phase I Converter

Join us next time when we take a look at Flash Gordon!

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Monday, September 1, 2014

(Justice League) The New Frontier (DC Direct)

(Justice League) The New Frontier
DC Direct
2006 - 2009

Just when you thought there was nothing new or original that could be done with the Justice League, in steps Darwyne Cooke with his concept for The New Frontier. The six issue limited series was highly regarded by comic book fans, and even went on to win an Eisner Award for best limited series, best coloring and best publication design. The awards didn't stop there. It also won Harvey Awards for best artist, best colorist and best continuing or limited series. Lastly, it recieved the Shuster Award for outstanding Canadian comic book cartoonist.

If you couldn't tell, the series is highly regarded in the comic book industry.

In 2008 the story was adapted into a television movie which was made available directly on DVD and blu-ray. On the day of its release it also had a limited pay-per-view running. To date it's one of the few rated PG-13 animated cartoons based on DC comic book characters.

DC Direct built on the popularity of the series by producing a very select release of figures from 2006 to 2009. At this point it's very difficult to go into great depth of the line as we've basically said the same thing over and over when it comes to the DC Direct stuff. It's great, it's very limited, and it's somewhat pricy for your average collector. A such we're not going to continue to beat out the regular ho-hum post, and instead will just let the pictures do the talking. Enjoy!

Blackhawk*Green Arrow*Green Lantern

Superman*Wonder Woman

Batman*Dr. Fate*The Flash

Martian Manhunter

The New Frontier Box Set with Green Lantern, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman

Join us next time when we take a look at Shadow Strikers!

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Series 9 and Beyond!


Tiger Claw, Robotic Foot Soldier, and the four comic book Turtle figures are hitting store shelves now. In addition, the Shell Flyer is also out now, as is a collectible carry case for your figure! Our updated post is coming soon.

Here's a great look at the latest Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Figures from Playmates Toys!

Tiger Claw*Robotic Foot Soldier*Rocksteady*Karai*Baxter Stockman (fly)*Bebop
Tiger Claw and Robotic Foot Soldier are due out in September/October of this year.
Savage Mikey*Dream Beaver 

Comic Leonardo*Comic Raphael*Comic Donatello*Comic Michelangelo
The four turtles are the only figures that have been announced in this all new sub series of the Nickelodeon line. They will feature a similar package design which will be mostly purple in color. These figures are expected to hit store shelves in September/October.
We'll keep you posted on any future news we hear.
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