Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Rambo Water Hawk by Ljn & Entertech (1985)

As you know, this blog is all about my attempt at tracking down all of the toys of my childhood as a kid who grew up in the 80's, the absolute best decade for toys. But this one is a bit different. I never actually had this gun, but rather one of my best friends did, a few actually, and I remember playing with them often and just thinking how amazingly real they looked for water guns. And I mean, just the fact that they were a Rambo toyline made them automatically awesome, and these bring back a flood of memories of a time when kids actually had to play outside.

Rambo Water Hawk Water Gun by Ljn & Entertech Back Side 1985

When I decided to begin tracking any of these Rambo guns down, I soon realized that it wasn't going to be easy. These have become exceedingly scarce and highly sought after in the collectors market. Much more so than the Rambo figures or toys from Coleco. So I had quite a task ahead of me. The thing with these toys by Ljn and Entertech is that they're so rare that they almost never pop up, and when or if they do, the prices are outrageous. For example, that M-60 machine gun or even the rocket launcher (not pictured) will demand anywhere from $300-$1000 each. Yea, no thanks. I want them, but not "that" bad.

Rambo Water Hawk Side View 1985
More often than not, the go-to for collectors are the online sites, which I frequent on a daily basis.
But then I came across a group on FB, one of many, that caters to older guys like myself and who are in it for the collecting aspect and not the flipping. While I've done some selling in this group myself, I've never actually purchased anything from anyone else. Then one day someone posted a few images of some items they were selling at their local toy show, and of all the things that were pictured, this caught my eye. I immediately contacted them and inquired about the price and condition. They were honest and upfront about the condition. As you can see in the photos, the box is a bit beat up, but it's not a deal breaker for me because for the most part, it's still in tact and in decent shape. However, the gun is still in it's original tray and has never been used, played with or taken out of it's enclosure tray. The price was extremely fair, when you consider that the average going rate for this sucker is anywhere from $100-$150 typically. Let's just say I got it for far below that, and now this is in my hands once again.

While I have yet to ever come across the Bow & Arrow Set, Military Set or Action Playset, and I'm not entirely sure if they were ever actually produced, the one that actually does pop up is the Water Hawk surprisingly. But again, never for a decent price. There are quite a few Rambo toys from various companies and toylines to sift through, and I'm discovering that there are quite a few gems I seriously missed out on back in the day. But it's been a fun journey and I hope that you stick around for the rest of it.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Mad Scientist Dissect-An-Alien By Mattel (1987)

Back in 1987 Mattel released a very short-lived toyline by the name of Mad Scientist. These creative toys were somewhat chemistry based, but with more of a monster/horror theme to them, which made them way more awesome. A good majority of them involved slime in some form, in a time when slime was being introduced more and more frequently into major toylines, until parents and kids began to see just how tedious, messy and unweildly they would became. While the line would ultimately introduce quite a few toys and sets, I personally only had 2 of them as an 11 year old kid. One being the bendable Mad Scientist figure, and the other one being this crazy beast of a toy known as Dissect-An-Alien, easily the grossest of the bunch and probably the reason why I was so attracted to it in the first place.

This guy was crazy. He was made of molded plastic, and you would open up his chest cavity to reveal 12 separate organs you would need to take out and put back in in a very strict and particular order so they would all fit properly. Believe me, it was much harder than it looked. The best thing about it though was the fact that it included slime/goop, which you would mix in with the organs to give it a truly disgusting feeling while doing the dissecting, which made it all the more fun and gross, making it easily the goriest of the bunch in this line.
Back of box
You know how even though you're an adult, you still remember very specific toys from your childhood? This is one of those toys for me. Even though I was into so many different toys like Transformers, He-Man, GoBots and Star Wars, this was one of those toys that always stuck with me, probably because it was just so unique. Many of my memories consisted of me playing with it endlessly, for hours and hours, even after the slime would eventually dry up and I was left with just plastic parts. I would constantly take him apart and put him back together over and over again. I just loved it and I never forgot about it in all the years that followed 1987. I think some of that also has to do with the whole marketing behind this and how inventive and somewhat genius it was as a child's toy. I still remember the commercials (see below) and can still picture the toys sitting in toy aisles at my local department stores, even though that was 30 years ago.

But it wasn't until just a few years ago that somehow this toy and the memories it provided just came flooding back to me. I don't know why, but it did and I soon set out on tracking one of these bad boys down again. Until I realized just how pricey and collectible they'd become in those 3 decades since it's original release, and in the last couple of years I've been randomly looking, they don't seem to be changing. Currently, a sealed or complete one in box will run anywhere from $100-$150 typically. Of course you can find the alien by itself (sometimes with his organs, sometimes without) for relatively cheap, but you won't find the slime, scalpel or play mat, which rarely ever pop up in the collectors market alone. Now, I won't die if I never get this toy in my hands again, but I sure as hell wasn't going to pay those prices for this thing, so I waited, hoping to come across one some day that would be decently priced, preferably in it's original box, and preferably still sealed. Well, that day finally came when someone who had purchased a large collection of toys from a storage locker and listed them all on eBay, for astronomically cheaper prices than what they were usually going for. I put my bid in, expecting to go higher if I had to, but still not exceeding my cap that I put on myself for such things, and hoped for the best. And as luck would have it, nobody else on planet Earth decided to look for one of these sealed boxes at the same time I was and I ultimately won it for a quarter of what the normal going rate is. Patience is a virtue! And I couldn't be happier.

I found a clear box protector that would normally be used for a vintage game system box and it actually fit just perfectly. So this guy will be further protected from dust and handling from now on as it sits on my shelf, a prized possession of my collection.

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!