Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The GoBots Command Center by Tonka (1985)

My personal GoBots Command Center

If there was "ever" a toy that was the embodiment of my toy experience as a kid in the 80's, one that immediately brings back a flood of memories, all good, it's this toy. Most people tend to look down on the GoBots, often referring to them as the poor mans Transformers, but not me. Though I was also a big fan of Transformers, I also dearly loved The GoBots as well. Sure they were smaller and not nearly as interesting, but there was always something about them that I always loved. I wish I could say what that was exactly, but I honestly don't know. I just loved them too. But there were only about a handful I actually owned as a kid and as I rediscover these, old memories are slowly coming back. But right off the top of my head I know I had Psycho, Cy-Kill, Rogun and this Command Center.

I guess I should say the first thing that re-ignited my long lost passion for GoBots and toy collecting in general would have to be the Discovery Channel show Toy Hunter. I know, it's an often debated topic because of it's host, Jordan Hembrough. Personally, I'm not a big fan of the guy for several reasons, but the show itself was such a blast of nostalgia to watch, especially because it was something I could do with my son at just the right age. It's different now, but those are good memories. So on a random episode I remember Jordan digging around a guy's attic for toys when he happened upon the Rogun GoBot, and very intense memories of my favorite GoBot came flooding back. It was awesome. I eventually got my hands on him, but it reminded me of the other figures from that line I also had, one of which was The GoBot Command Center. I have very specific memories of being in the first house I can remember living in as a child and playing with this thing on the floor, a whopping 32 years ago.

Image courtesy of pleasesavemerobots.blogspot.com

I won't bore you and get into the actual specifics of this beast of a toy, because you can check out any number of other sites and blog posts about it, but I will say that this was one of 3 playsets that Tonka would produce for  the GoBots brand, with this one being released in 1985. While not a terribly exciting toy, and kind of bland compared to other playsets of that time, there's still something very retro cool about it. It's simple, but in a retro streamlined kind of way, and I think that's what I love so much about it. It literally takes all of 2 seconds and 3 moves to transform him from a walking robot to a stationary command fortress.

When I got the collecting bug again recently, one of the first "toys of my youth" I immediately set out to track down was this guy. And he's very easy to find. It seems a lot of people my age did the smart thing and kept their GoBots packed away for decades because there is no shortage of them on eBay, and most of them in relatively good shape. And the prices are all over the place, so there's no real way to gauge how much he's worth because I don't think anyone really has a clue. You can find some as low as $10 without the original box, and then you'll find some in the exact same condition for a few hundred. So you just have to be careful and not overpay. Personally speaking, with the box included, and if he was even "mostly" complete, I'd say he's worth about $30-$50 without shipping. Now, being as he's a Command Center/Fortress after all, there are a few pieces that do end up going missing in time, but thankfully there aren't many and they're easy to keep track of. As you can see in the picture above, 2 hoses, a gate, computer monitor and stickers are all that you really need to keep track of. Oh, and the red dome on his head too seems to be a piece that often disappears. Lucky for us, there are plenty of sellers on eBay who sell only these little pieces to complete your's.

Image courtesy of toyarchive.com

Of course I would have loved to get one with the original box, but with people asking for highly inflated prices, I just couldn't justify spending that much. Then one day I came across a listing where someone had him for $7.99, plus $18 to ship. He was in excellent condition as far as I could tell, and only missing a piece or two that I could easily track down over time. It didn't include the box, but for $7.99, I wasn't going to complain or pass this up. As it was an auction-style listing, I knew there was always the chance someone could outbid me at any time, and I had at least another week to go till it was over, so I put my bid in and crossed my fingers. Truth be told, I had actually forgotten about it over a week later when I got that email notification saying I had actually won this baby with my single $7.99 bid. Score! And a week later he was in my hands. I have yet to see if his lights actually still light up or not, because I keep forgetting to go get the specific battery he needs, but he looks amazing sitting on my shelf and I couldn't be happier. I may try and snag the original box some day just to complete him, but for now, I'm in no real hurry.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Shogun Warriors Gaiking 24 inch Jumbo Figure

Vintage ad courtesy of PlaidStallions.com
Back in the 70's Mattel released these Jumbo 24" Shogun Warriors figures that were repackaged and slightly redesigned from an earlier Japanese release, which were based on "then" popular shows in Japan. If I'm wrong, please correct me. I know the Godzilla (the most sought-after) was released in 1977 here in the states, so I'm assuming these Jumbo figures were also from around that same year.

7 of these bad boys were released in the United States, each very cool in their own right, but some being more sought after than others. These are Mazinga, Gaiking, Daimos, Dragun, Raydeen, Godzilla and Rodan. Today they are easily one of the most highly collectible vintage toys out there and easily the most pricey, especially if you want one with the original box. Depending on the condition of both the figure, the box, and if they still have all of their original parts, they can go up to several thousand dollars, depending on the specific figure, while others you can get for a few hundred. You'll never get one for under a cool $100 though, and if you do, it's because the person selling it has no idea what they have, or because it's either broken or incomplete.

My personal Gaiking Shogun Warrior
One of the coolest things about these giant's is that most of them came with spring loaded missiles that you could shoot by hitting a button or one of their hands, also spring loaded, would shoot off. Admittedly, while this is very cool, they also became child-safety-hazards and because of this, these Shogun Warriors were ultimately discontinued by 1980 and taken off store shelves. Wah wah wah.

I was barely born in 1976, which would make me only 4 years old when they were taken off store shelves completely in 1980, so I have no idea how or when I eventually got my hands on one, but I can assure you, I did. I have clear and very fond memories of having the "Gaiking" Shogun Warrior and spending countless hours playing with him. I guess it's a good thing that none of his missiles poked my eyes out or that I choked on one.

As time moves on, in this case 4 decades, you tend to forget about a lot of things you had when you were a kid. But when I recently got the collecting bug again, one of the first things I wanted to do was try and find as many of my childhood toys as I could, those that I could remember at least. While doing some internet browsing somewhere (either on eBay or a Facebook toy group) recently, I came across an image of this Gaiking Shogun Warrior and a series of images came flooding back to me. Specific images and memories of being a very little kid and playing with this behemoth of a toy. This is the one I had to have because this is the one I specifically remember having. Lucky for me, Gaiking is one of the easier ones to come across these days, and he's one of the few with very little parts or attachments to keep track of. So my hunt was on, and luckily for me, this was right around tax season, so I had a little extra money to burn through that I set aside for a special occasion.

Original Box
It took me a while but I eventually came across one (this very one pictured above to be exact) on eBay. I could tell he was just a dealer, flipper or reseller and wasn't from his personal collection so he didn't really have any sentimental attachments to it, which was reflected in the price. I hoped I could talk him down a bit though since I knew he was incomplete (missing the missiles) and did not have the original box. I gave him an offer and said if he accepted it, I would pay immediately and he did. A few short days later this big guy was in my hands, expertly packed.

One of the first things I noticed was that for a 40 year old toy, he was in excellent shape. One of the biggest issues with these guys is that the stickers tend to wear off, peel or fade in time. And they all have stickers on them except for Godzilla and Rodan. But the stickers on this one barely looked aged, which was awesome. These Shogun Warriors are so huge in the collectors market now that there are those who make reproduction and replacement stickers for these guys now, so if you ever need to fix them, there are a few places you can easily purchase them from now. But this guy only has a few and they're still in great shape. What I did notice though was that he didn't have any of his missiles, of which there are 6 total for him: 2 on his chest (nipples?) that shoot out with the push of a button and 2 each secured on each shoulder. These shoulder ones are mainly for decoration but also to replace the ones on his chest after you shoot them. But just like the stickers, there is a company that specifically makes replacement missiles for all Shogun Warriors, along with various other parts should you need them, and they're a life-saver. Sure you could spend countless hours and many of your hard-earned dollars trying to track down original Gaiking missiles, but replacement missiles are just as good and best of all, they're brand new and are 100% identical to the originals. You can order replacement missiles and a whole lot of other attachments and "key" pieces that easily get lost over time at Shogun Plastics www.ShogunPlastics.com. Each part is Made-to-Order so just send them a message on their "Contact" page to place your order, which is what I did to get my 6 replacement missiles, making him 100% complete, minus the original box. If you know of anyone who makes reproduction boxes for these, PLEASE let me know. I would love to order one.
My personal Gaiking Shogun Warrior with replacement missiles

So there you go. Ultimately I got Gaiking for less than what he typically goes for, and the best part is he is in such great shape and I didn't have to hunt down a ton of missing parts and accessories. Now if I can only get either an original or a reproduction box....

I got a lot of very helpful and useful information regarding these at a killer site called www.ToysYouHad.com. For some more in-depth info on everything Shogun Warriors related, you can also visit another rad site called www.WildToys.com/Shogun/.

Final thought. It blows my mind that these monsters retailed for just $13.99 back in the late 70's. I just can't believe it. 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Not Dead......

You may "or may not" have noticed that I've been absent from here for a really long time. No real reason other than I tend to get obsessive with my collecting, and being as I enjoy collecting a lot of things, I go through phases. For the past year, it was VHS and sometimes I'd venture off into vintage NES, SNES and Sega games.

But recently a neighbor of my parents, who has lived in that house since the early 80's, decided to go through and sell everything, including the house, and move away. Luckily for me, this included his son's collection of vintage toys from when he was a kid. His son is my age, and so this was perfect. I went to school with him and it just so happened that we both pretty much liked the same things when it came to toys as kids. Anyway, my mom told me to stop by, that there were a bunch of toys he was throwing away and thought I might like something. I don't even want to think about what he might have already thrown away by the time my mom told him not to, but alas, I got there after work that day and nearly lost my shit.

Vintage Castle Grayskull
The first thing I noticed immediately as I walked into his garage was this original vintage Castle Grayskull. He was covered in dust, but in excellent condition. Most importantly, the hinges that lock him in place were still intact, which is an issue that seems to be common with this one. The more you open it the more wear you put to the locks and since they're plastic, they ultimately break. But it looks like this has literally been sitting in a garage or room for decades having not been played with. Score!

Unfortunately it is missing a few pieces, which won't be too hard to track down. Mainly the cannon gun that goes on the top, the ladder and the weapons. The cardboard backgrounds, elevator and a few miscellaneous pieces are still here so I'm very happy. I think a $20 investment will get me the missing pieces.

80's Vintage Toy Lot
When I saw this Grayskull, I wanted to scream for joy like a little girl, but withheld that urge and played it cool. I didn't want him to know he had something worth money. So I set it aside and continued looking. I dug through a box of random junk and this is what I pulled out that I wanted to keep for myself, all toys I actually collected as a kid myself, except for the TMNT figures and the Photon guns. I was a Lazer Tag kid.

So what you see here are random figures from M.A.S.K., The A-Team, Robo Force, Photon, GoBots, M.U.S.C.L.E., TMNT, and a cool vintage rubber Godzilla bendable figure and a robot transforming watch, the very one I actually had as a kid. Mind. Blown. Best part? I spent a whopping $40 for the lot, which also included a vintage turntable and VCR, neither of which ended up working. Wah wah wah.

Ultimately I ended up keeping a few of these, and sold the rest on eBay and to fellow collectors in a Facebook vintage toy group to help fund my new obsession, collecting vintage toys from my youth.

I've since been on a roll and I must say, it's been a ton of fun. I hope a few of you are still around because I will be posting more and more in the coming days and weeks of my newfound collection. Stay tuned....

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Toy Biz Batman vs NECA Batman

When I discovered that NECA would be releasing this 7 inch Michael Keaton Batman figure along with the newly released 25th Anniversary blu ray, you can say I was beyond excited. Keaton has and will remain my favorite Batman. And NECA's idea to emulate the classic Toy Biz look and packaging from their '89 toy line got me even more excited. I mean, this is badass! For a number of reasons! Most notably the fact that there was always an issue with using Keaton's likeness for an action figure. It was a big deal, and I don't know the exact details of all that, but I do know it was an issue. Even when NECA first used this same exact mold for their ever popular 8 Bit Classic Video Game Appearance line, they seemed to have been able to get away with it because the coloring of the figure was blue and purple. But here, they seemed to have found a loophole, or worked out their license issues because it seemed out of nowhere, they surprised us all with the announcement of this particular figure, which sold out online immediately, but not before I was able to put my order in.

It was really weird too. You could only order this as part of the Blu Ray Anniversary combo pack, not just the figure alone. And you could only order it through their eBay store, which seemed rather suspicious to me right from the beginning. Apparently NECA set up this eBay store solely for the purpose of selling this Blu ray/Figure combo pack. So there was no feedback. And when I first saw the eBay store, shipping was cheap at $8 or something like that. Then when I went to place my order later in the day, shipping was hiked up to around $15 if I remember correctly. So I was concerned all around, but I placed my order anyway.

They sold out within a day. So then word came that Toys R Us and Toys R Us only was selling these, but only when you bought the Blu Ray. But fortunately for a lot of collectors and flippers, most employees were not aware of this, and were selling the figures by themselves. You can bet your ass that flippers grabbed every last one of them and immediately threw them on eBay for $50 and higher. I hate fucking flippers.

In the end, I got mine at retail price, along with that killer Blu Ray. It's a great figure, and NECA did a bangup job on Michael Keaton's likeness.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Robocop VCR Game (1988)

Robocop VCR Game (1988)

Back when I was 12, Robocop had just come out in theaters. The following year, this VCR Home Game hit store shelves. I don't remember if it was a hit or anything like that, but I do remember seeing this at my local Service Merchandise (remember that store?!) behind the glass and begging my parents to buy it for me. They were hesitant of course, stating that it's not really a game for kids, but of course, I wouldn't listen. It was Robocop, and I had to have it. And of course, they were right. For a 12 year old kid, this game was trying. From what I can remember, you'd play the board game, stopping at specific moments to play a minute of the VHS tape, which were scenes from the film, and then using those scenes to progress somehow in the game. I didn't have that kind of patience, so it sat on my shelf for years unplayed, before I ultimately sold it at a garage sale many years later.

I was reminded about this game recently on Instagram through a friend, and so I set upon looking for it again. I was more than shocked to discover that this game typically goes for anywhere from $50 to $100. I mean, it would have been nice to get this again just for nostalgia sake, but I didn't need it that bad, especially when you consider that it's just going to sit on my shelf. I kept my eye out though, doing random searches when I would remember, and one day I lucked out. A seller was offering it for just $10 as an auction, so I bid early. A week later, I won it and I'm one happy geek. I think what tripped people up is that when the seller listed this, the image he chose to represent the game was of the board game, and not this sweet box cover. So I'm sure a lot of people probably just passed this by without realizing it was actually the old '88 VCR game. Win for me!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Gobots RoGun Cap Rifle Robot (1985)

In my quest to reacquire pieces of my collection when I was a kid back in the 80's, I quickly discovered that one of the most awesome robots in the Gobots universe (IMO), while easy to find loose, was nearly impossible to find complete in box. Checking online on a daily basis for the better part of a year proved fruitless. Even the numerous toy and collectors conventions I hit up within this past year turned up nothing, let alone hardly any Gobots in general. 

When I decided to track down a Rogun Cap Rifle Robot in it's original box, I had no idea it would be one of the hardest toys I'd have to hunt down. Hell, even doing a google search of this sucker proved to me how hard my hunt would be. I believe there's maybe 1 or 2 images online of this guy complete in box. So if it wasn't for those images, I would have not even known what the original packaging would have looked like. In any case, I shockingly found one on eBay about a month ago in Very Good condition. It was funny too. While I make it a habit of looking daily for specific items, with this being one of them, I had actually forgotten to do so for a few days, or even a week. And one day when I was getting ready to leave work, it hit me, and I did a quick search and holy shit! There it was. Complete, never opened, in great condition. While I suppose I should have tried to haggle with the seller a bit, or even read the entire description, I impulsively bought the thing, all within the span of under a minute. I was that excited. So this beauty sits on my shelf, a testament to patience and dedication to looking for that one piece that you just have to have.

Friday, February 27, 2015

New VHS Scores: Halloween and Escape From New York Slipcases

Apologies for the absence. It seems that while I had anticipated most of my time being spent on this particular blog sharing my collection of VHS, toys, and whatnot, I just can't stay away from movies, my #1 passion. And so while I did my best to take a break from reviews on my other blog robotGEEK'S Cult Cinema, I just couldn't stop cold turkey. So, a lot of my time recently has been dedicated to reviews. But! I'm here now, so here we go.

First up is John Carpenter's Halloween. As you all know, it's been released countless upon countless times on VHS, then on Laserdisc, DVD and now Blu ray. So it's not a hard film to get your hands on for your collection. It just depends on which one you want. I'd imagine though trying to collect every single version out there would be extremely time consuming and expensive. But hey, everyone needs a hobby right?!

Die-hard collectors know that probably the rarest VHS version out there is the mythical MEDA VHS version. It was spelled MEDA before it was changed to MEDIA on a yellowed cardstock slipcase. I honestly don't know why or the story behind that and haven't done the research yet, but needless to say, the MEDA yellow slipcase VHS is insanely rare and goes for thousands on the internet.....if you're ever lucky to find one. Personally, I've always loved this particular cover. I love the black with the
MEDIA big on white at the bottom. I also found it strange and interesting that there's also a bottom flap. So everytime you intend to take the tape out, you essentially slowly begin to damage and put extensive wear to that bottom flap. So I'm not surprised that they quickly did away with that.

When I was going through my VHS collection recently, I was kind of shocked to discover that I've never owned a version of Halloween on VHS. Gasp! I was lucky to find this one fairly cheap for $10 on eBay with the bottom flap in tact and in excellent condition. Happiness.

Here's another recent eBay score. While I prefer Embassy's insanely badass, yet very hard to find black VHS clamshell release from 1982, this is a close second. I love that the poster encompasses the entire cover. And I love the white spine with the extra large font. It's just beautiful.

Much like Halloween, this film has gotten countless VHS releases, as well as many others on every format. It's just one of those films. However, there is another early US slipcase release that I've only recently become aware of. Of all the years I've been collecting VHS tapes, I never came across one and didn't know it existed. It's a rather interesting design. Released by Embassy, the top half is white, and the bottom half is black, with the poster image floating freely in the center. The film title is large, also floating freely at the top above the cover image. A strange design for sure, but one I feel I must own at some point as I collect random Escape From New York VHS tapes from around the world. I'm also finding a new found love for VHS slips. I've always been more drawn to clamshell cases, but I'm finding an appreciation for slipcases in my old age.