Monday, August 25, 2014

Borderlands (NECA)



Borderlands
NECA
2012 - 2014

Greetings traveller! It's the line that has become synonymous with the series Borderlands from Gearbox. Despite it's main cast of valut hunters being the actual playable characters, fans of the series found more joy when running into the speaker of the line, ClapTrap, or CL4P-TP. The clunky little robot was your first NPC met in the game, and from there would show up randomly to offer quips and tips all delivered with a humerous undertone.

Though NECA first intended on producing a series of figures based on the numerous characters from Borderlands, they quickly changed directions when the popularity of ClapTrap took off. As such, the company focuses the majority of their efforts on the toy line in producing variations of ClapTrap himself. The only other figure to be produced to date is the Psycho Bandit, which while it's a great figure doesn't hold a candle to the uniqueness of ClapTrap.



ClapTrap AKA CL4P-TP
 

Psycho Bandit
 

ClapTrap AKA CL4P-TP: Model BLU14
 

ClapTrap AKA CL4P-TP: Model Jakobs
 
ClapTrap AKA CL4P: Model Gentleman Caller

Because this is an ongoing series, we will continue to update this post as new figures are made available.

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

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mass Effect 2 and 3 (Big Fish Toys)



Mass Effect 2 and 3
Big Fish Toys
2012

Mass Effect was Bioware's masterpiece series which touted it was all about player choice. Each decision you made not only affected the outcome of your current game, but also set the stage for further adventures in its two sequels. Fans spent hundreds of hours searching every nook and cranny of the game, determined to get the ultimate experience from its vast world, and interesting NPC characters.

When the trilogy was concluded in 2012, the relatively unknown toy company Big Fish Toys stepped into the spotlight producing a line of figures based on Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3. Both series were released consecutively in specialty and select retail stores.

Though sales were slow, as product went out of production it became more and more difficult to put a full set together without resorting to second hand dealers. While you would think this would make prices start to increase, instead the majority of collector's went the opposite route. They just lost interest.

As a whole the series is one of the finest produced to date based on video game characters. The sculpts are spot on, and the articulation is pretty impressive. Equally impressive is the attention to detail in the character's signature weapons.

Grunt*Shepard*Tali*Thane
 

Garrus*Legion*MIranda*Mordin

So where is Big Fish Toys today? We wish me knew. The Mass Effect 2 and 3 series are the only action figure lines they appear to have produced to date. Google searches yeild no information on the company, leading us to believe that they may have suffered the same fate as AnJon, the producers of the Dragon's Lair toys. By that we mean, they invested all their cash in producing an amazing series that unfortunately only a small niche of collectors wanted, and as such have gone belly up.

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

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Teen Titans (Mego)



Teen Titans
Mego
1976

Before the Teen Titans became the group of super heroes that most people know them as today; Robin, Cyborg, Starfire, Raven, Beast Boy and Terra, they were a completely different concept. Though still incorporating Robin, the series also included the likes of Aqualad, and Kid Flash. The series would later go on to incorporate a few more faces that would come and go.

The original series of comics was produced from January 1966 through its final issue, number forty-three, in February 1973. It was picked up again in November of 1976, picking up with issue forty-four. The revival was short lived ending with issue number fifty-three in February of 1978.

Helping to build on its ever popular franchise of "dolls", Mego produced a very small series of figures based on the original Teen Titans. One of the best concepts Mego had going for it was that since the size and materials used for each character they produced never changed, it was easy to incorporate the various lines produced together. As a result, it was never necessary for them to produce a new Robin figure because numerous versions already existed. This meant that they could focus on characters who had yet to be made in plastic.


Aqualad
 

Kid Flash
 

Speedy
 

Wondergirl

Though the company is no longer around these days, for its time Mego stood for quality toys that were unmatched by any other company for the style they focused on. It could be argued that without them, the majority of beloved comic book icons would not be as popular today without their unique dolls to help promote play in children's imaginations.

Join us next time when we take a look at Mass Effect 2 and 3!

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Outer Space Men (Colorforms)



The Outer Space Men
Colorforms
1968

The Outer Space Men was a series of bendable figures which were produced in the late 1960's by Colorforms.  Using the basic constellations of planets in our own galaxy, each figure was given a name, and assigned a planet of origin.

It is speculated by several collector's markets that the line was produced to compete with and also be incorporated with Mattel's Major Matt Mason line from the same period.  Colorforms failed to find much commercial success with the line when it was first produced, and the line quickly vanished from store shelves.  This unfortunately meant that even though a second series was well into production, the line was cancelled before it would be released.


Alpha 7 The Man From Mars*Astro-Nautilus The Man From Neptune
 

Colossus Rex The Man From Jupiter*Commander Comet The Man From Venus
 

Electron+ The Man From Pluto*Orbitron The Man From Uranus
 

Xodiac The Man From Saturn

 A full set out of the figures can run you anywhere from $1,200.00 to $1,500.00.  A full set sealed on the cards is unheard of, with the exception of one confirmed set owned by creator Mel Birnkrant.  Thus no price point can even be speculated.

These days, the line is seeing a major resurgence in popularity, most notably because of the new products being sculpted by The Four Horsemen and original creator Mr. Birnkrant.  The line now features smaller, 3 3/4 inch figures, and even the above mentioned cancelled figures are being released, much to fan approval.

The photographs of the figures and cardbacks in this post are the property of Mr. Mel Birnkrant.  Taken from his own personal website, "HERE".  Photo layout and design by The Toy Box.

Join us next time when we take a look at Teen Titans!

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (LJN)



Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
LJN
1984

It's true that we often times bash LJN for being a company that seemed to absolutely love destroying any licensed item they could get their hands on.  However, there have been those rare occasions where even they got it right.

Though it was short lived, the 1984 line of figures produced for the film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom remained some of the best Indy figures of their time.  The sculpting was fairly accurate in the faces, and the clothing was pretty spot on.  We'd be lying if we said that these figures didn't look great.

Despite five figures and one playset initially being planned, only three of the figures actually made it to store shelves - Indiana Jones, Mola Ram and Giant Thuggee.  Variant versions of Indiana Jones and Mola Ram are also know to exist which were sold at this time.


Indiana Jones (white shirt)*Indiana Jones (brown shirt)


Mola Ram (white skull staff)*Mola Ram (gold skull staff)


Giant Thuggee*Cardback

As you can see from the cardback above, the additional figures planned for this wave were Short Round and Willie Scott.  Not shown is the planned mine cart playset which would have looked something like your typical plastic Hot Wheels track with duel loops - Though painted to look like a rail track.  Production examples do exist of all three of these items, and in a 2012 eBay auction, hand painted resign cast prototypes of all five figures sold for $8,600.00.

Join us next time when we take a look at The Outer Space Men!

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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Kick-Ass 2 (NECA)



Kick-Ass 2
NECA
2013 - 2014

It was the long awaited sequel to the original Kick-Ass film, and with it came much disappointment for fans. As a whole, the film's not bad, but for all the shock value the first one had when seeing an eleven year old spout lines like a sailor, the second film just fell flat at the now young adult actress trying to do the same. See, in the first one you're sitting there saying, "Wow, I can't believe this kid just said that." However when you roll around to the second film, you just find yourself saying, "Wow, this young lady has a very fowl mouth." It just doesn't work.

Then of course there's the whole marketing debacle of Jim Carrey saying he wouldn't support/promote the film anymore due to the shootings which took place at Sandy Hook Elementary...Yet Mr. Carrey seemed to have been more than happy to be a part of the film in this post Columbine, Dunblane, Erfurt school masacrees, and unfortunately so many more.

Film and awkward Jim Carrey point of views aside, the figures for the second films switched from the hands of Mezco to NECA, and with it came the figures that fans always wanted - With the exception of there still not being a Big Daddy. Okay, fine, he wasn't in the second film per say, but it still would have been great to finally get the figure.

Right off the bat fans noticed the overall improvement to the articulation and stances of the characters. This meant that none of the characters suffered from hunchback syndrome such as they did with the Mezco line. It also meant that Hit-Girl would actaully be able to stand up.

To date only two waves of figures have been produced. While the series hasn't officially been cancelled, if more product is coming, NECA is certainly taking their time about it. The first series included; Kick-Ass, Hit-Girl and The Motherfucker.

Much like the original series, censorship was well at hand, and NECA had to release the series with caution. To counter this uphill battle, first and foremost they shortened the series name to simply KA2. They then censored two of the characters names by way of calling them KA and The MF'ER. Fans knew what they were, but at the same point it just didn't feel right.




 
 
Shortly after the first series of figures, wave two hit store shelves. Much to the dismay of fans the line featured an all new KA, now called Armored KA, and another Hit-Girl. This time without the purple wig. Though fans were happy to get the opportunity to purchase a Colonel Stars and Stripes figure, they weren't so thrilled with NECA producing two versions. In the past NECA had been kind enough to include changable heads, and even did so with this latest version of KA, so it was a slap in the face to see the Colonel with two versions as opposed to just swapable heads.
 





 
 
For fans not concerned with censorship, NECA produced a small box set of the first series figures prior to the retail released versions. This particular set was only made available at San Diego Comic Con, and featured not only the full title of the series, but also uncensored names for the retail censored ones. It was a nice novelty for fans, but certainly not something to collect if you are the type of collector who removes your toys from the package as they are the exact same sculpts as the retail versions.
 
 



Join us next time when we take a look at Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom!

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Monday, August 4, 2014

Movie Viewer (AKA Movieviewer) (Kenner)



Movie Viewer
Kenner
1975 - 1979

Kids these days don't know how good they have it when it comes to media entertainment.  Back in the 70's, we kids were lucky if our parents were rich enough to purchase video cassettes, let alone the VCR to play them on.  Back in those days, your average VCR cost about $1,300.00 - in today's standards, that's about $5,000.00.  In fact, the standard format of what most people call a "video cassette" didn't even come about until 1976 when the first VHS cassette VCR was developed and marketed in Japan.  This wouldn't hit US shores until October of 1977, and your average movie would set you back anywhere from $50.00 to $100.00 (the first released were M.A.S.H., The Sound of Music and Patton).

During this time, companies such as Ken Films, Blackhawk Films, Castle Films, and other such companies were appeasing movie fans at a much cheaper price with 8MM, Super 8MM and 16MM reel to reel films.  However, with this cheaper price came reels that only included selected scenes of films, some of which ran for as little as two minutes.  The first batch of films started out as black and white silent films, but as time progressed the various companies would also produce films in color, and eventually with sound.

So how does all of this come together for Kenner's Movie Viewer?  It's simple really.  It was a way for Kenner to market movies and television to children in a cheaper format, which in turn could be used to market more toys.  If children had the ability to watch film strips of television shows or movies, this in turn would make the action figures based on said films more marketable.

Each Movie Viewer cassette came in a bright red plastic casing, which inside featured a strip of 8MM film that contained approximately sixty seconds of footage with no sound.  A spindle with a groove on the side of the cassette would catch on the Viewer's knob mechanism when it was inserted into the side of the "machine", and turning the knob manually with your hand would cycle the film in a continuous loop.

Using pretty much the same technology of a View-Master, the mechanism would allow the person to hold the machine to their eye, looking through the small "lens" on the back side at the film.  Light would shine through on the other side of the chamber, providing just enough illumination to see the film inside.  It was essentially a self powered 8MM projector for kids, and we loved it!

Kenner began its Movie Viewer series in 1975 with the highly popular Snoopy Movie viewer.  It would be the first of many Viewers over the course of the 1970's, and worked so perfectly that up until the time it was discontinued, the design never changed.  Sure the Viewers came in different colors with various sticker logos on them, but the basic design stayed, as did the design for the red cassettes.

The Snoopy series encompassed twelve individually packaged cassettes, and one which was only available with the Viewer itself.  Each cassette was numbered at the top of the box portion of the package, and also included the name of the film.  The only exception to this is Slide, Snoopy, Slide, which was packaged with the Viewer, and thus did not have its own individual box.  The Viewer itself was green with a yellow crank knob.


Snoopy Movie Viewer with Slide. Snoopy, Slide Cassette


MOVIE CASSETE
1) I'll Be A Dirty Bird
2) Good Grief
3) Roll Over Beethoven
4) Snoopy's Garage Sale


MOVIE CASSETTES
5) Chow Hound Snoopy
6) Skateboard Olympics
7) Blockhead's Bobble
8) Hang On, Snoopy


MOVIE CASSETTE
9) The Easter Beagle
10) Sherlock Snoopy
11) Lucy Vs. The Masked Marvel
12) Curse You, Red Baron

Kenner followed up with the highly popular The Six Million Dollar Man Movie Viewer (also in 1975).  This particular Viewer featured a blue color, with white crank knob, and had six individually packed cassettes.  The seventh cassette, The Crash...The Creation of the Bionic Man, was packed in with the "machine" itself.


The Six Million Dollar Man with The Crash...The Creation Of The Bionic Man Cassette


MOVIE CASSETTE
1) Bionic Feats
2) The Bionic Man In Action
3) Col. Steve Austin Adventures


MOVIE CASSETTE
4) Col. Steve Austin In Pursuit
5) Bionic Rescue
6) Col. Steve Austin Tackles Danger

In an attempt to gain interest from young girls, Kenner also produced the Bionic Woman Movie Viewer that same year.  The Viewer itself featured an all red look with the exception of the white crank knob.  Only three individually packaged cassettes were produce with an additional fourth cassette, If The Shoe Fits..., which was packaged in with the Viewer.  It unfortunately never really took off for girls.


The Bionic Woman Movie Viewer with If The Shoe Fits... Cassette


MOVIE CASSETTE
1) C'mon, Jaime
2) Attempted Escape
3) The Bionic Woman To The Rescue

In 1976, Kenner released six Cartoon Cassettes which featured;

1) The Flintstones: Hold That Tiger
2) Hong Kong Phooey: The Clutching Claw
3) Scooby Doo: Scuba Scooby
4) Great Grape Ape: Gridiron Grapple
5) Pebbles & Bamm Bamm: What A Figure
6) Speed Buggy: Love Buggy

Out of all the Movie Viewer products that Kenner produced, these six Cartoon Cassettes are the most difficult to track down.  We've seen about half of them, but none of them had the original boxes.  If anyone has any of the above in the box, please send us photos.  We are happy to credit anyone who contributes.  Please send all photographs to thetoybox1138@gmail.com.  Thank you.

Enter, Star Wars...

These days it's relatively unheard of to have access to a film (legally) while it's still running in the theater, so when Kenner released one of its first products based on the film, kids and adults went nuts.  Despite being only sixty seconds of footage, fans of the film were eager to see anything and everything they could over and over and over again.  What better way then in the palm of your hand?

Despite its major popularity, Kenner only produced four individually packaged cassettes, and the fifth, May The Force Be With You, which came packaged with the Viewer.  There's no real answer known to the general public as to why there were so few cassettes, but we speculate that when the film took off like it did, Lucasfilm and/or Fox pulled the plug on the cassettes to encourage people to continue to fill theater seats.

With the exception of the Star Wars logo sticker, this model was the exact same as the Six Million Dollar Man released version from 1975.


Star Wars Movie Viewer with May The Force Be With You Cassette


MOVIE CASSETTE
1) Destroy Death Star
2) Danger At The Cantina
3) Battle In Hyperspace
4) Assault On Death Star

The final Movie Viewer can be traced to one that we've already mentioned - Alien.  From the start, Alien products from Kenner were facing an uphill battle.  The science fiction/horror film may have been doing great in theaters, but the rated R film was far from marketable to children - At least back in those days.  If parents weren't taking children to see the film in theaters, why would they buy them a hand held cassette player with sixty seconds of footage from the film?  Well, long story short, they didn't.

After a very short lived shelf life, Kenner pulled the plug on all its Alien related products, leaving this Viewer with only the one cassette it came packaged with - Alien Terror.  This was sadly the last Movie Viewer Kenner would release in general.  The Viewer was given one final paint job of dark gray with a white crank knob.


Alien Movie Viewer with Alien Terror Cassette

During the popularity of the Movie Viewer, Kenner also explored other avenues which would make use of the same cassettes.  These included the Six Million Dollar Man Bionic Video Center and Snoopy Drive-In Movie Theater.  These two particular items incorporated the same hand cranked knob technology, but also contained a small screen that would project the film on it from behind.  This was made possible with three "D" cell batteries which powered a bulb inside.

Much like the Movie Viewers, Snoopy's Drive-In Theater came with its own unique cassette, Woodstock's Dream House.  The Six Million Dollar Man Bionic Video Center included a prior released cassette, Col. Steve Austin Adventures.  It contained a seat in front of the screen that you could place your Col. Steve Austin doll, but the doll itself was not included.

These days it's incredibly difficult to track down the majority of the Kenner Movie Viewer cassettes, especially mint in the box.  They're just not as readily available as the Viewers themselves.  Oddly enough, while the Star Wars Viewer and Cassettes seem to pop up more often than the rest, they also seem to have the higher asking price - Probably solely for the Star Wars name.

Fisher Price competed with their owner Movie Viewer which was much more successful on the market, and lasted well into the mid 1980's.  However, this was probably because they also had a far superior library of cassettes which extended to franchises such as Sesame Street, Disney, and several cartoons of the era.

Join us next time when we take a look at Kick-Ass 2!

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