My Old Toys

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When I first started this blog I wondered where The Lone Ranger would end up in the order of toys.

I knew my largest series would be G.I. Joe, so I figured I would insert the masked man somewhere in the middle, probably as a “Random Toy Alert” or something.

But when Disney announced that new Lone Ranger flick, it gave me the perfect opportunity to wrap up my Joe series on Sunday and end things with this post.

It’s kind of like Season 4 of Buffy, when the Big Bad got killed in the second-to-last episode and the series finale was a stand-alone episode.

Yes, it’s exactly like that.

So here we have The Lone Ranger and his horse, Silver, from the 1981 flick, The Legend of The Lone Ranger.

I remember seeing this movie as a kid but I barely remember any of it. I know Christopher Lloyd played the villain.

If you Wiki that movie you’ll read about how it was a notorious bomb and starred an unknown actor whose lines were overdubbed by another guy.

Hopefully, this new Johnny Depp movie fares better, but from the reviews I’m reading, it could have a tough time clearing that $250 million production cost.

That’s nuts, $250 million to make a western?

Anyway, these toys were produced by a company called Gabriel. From what I could find online, Gabriel was a division of CBS, and it produced five action figures and three horses based on the movie.

I also had Tonto and his horse, Smoke, but they were lost a long time ago.

The Lone Ranger, however, got a lot of playtime even as I became a fan of G.I. Joe and other action figures.

I do remember some of my Joes riding Silver during some “Old West” adventures. And I did sing the William Tell Overture.

The markings on the back of my Lone Ranger say he was made in 1980. That makes him the oldest action figure in my collection.

The figure is very loose, but as you can see, he’s still poseable.

This toy line is not impossible to find, I actually saw a number of carded figures listed on eBay. But they’re pricey, you’d have to be a hardcore Lone Ranger fan to pay money for them.

I actually saw this same Lone Ranger figure at a vintage toy store in downtown Las Vegas last week. But his leg was broken off at the knee and he needed repairs.

That store, by the way, is pretty cool. I’m told the owners occasionally hold trading events where people bring in their toy collections and swap with others.

I don’t know if I could do that. Even though all of my superheroes and G.I. Joe’s and the Lone Ranger are kept in a box in the closet, I don’t think I’ll ever want to get rid of them.

I’ve had so much fun taking their pictures and posting them on this blog. It not only turned out to be a fun project, but I also learned a lot about toy collecting.

For the record, the contents of this blog don’t represent my entire collection. There are still figures from the newer G.I. Joe and Marvel Universe lines, as well as those great NECA Cult Classics figures. I can’t get enough of those.

Even though I occasionally deviated from my “old toys” collection, I tried to keep this blog focused on the box my parents brought me from their house in Florida.

I could start another project for those newer toys, but I wouldn’t be able to tell all these great stories.

So, if you’re interested in following any of my future exploits, I’m on Twitter and occasionally post to my Wordpress site.

It’s been great looking back on all these old toys and I appreciate the followers and the comments from everyone in Tumblrland.

Zippity doo-dah bye bye.

Filed under the lone ranger gabriel tonto legend of the lone ranger 80s toys

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After all this time, I’ve come to the final toy from my G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero collection.

The whole My Old Toys project has lasted about 18 months, with the G.I. Joe portion taking almost a year. Which means I’ve been posting pictures of G.I. Joe figures every week since last July, with the exception of that month I spent posting McFarlane Movie Maniacs figures.

The first figure I posted from the Joe series was Alpine, and I told the story of how I got him while on vacation in Washington D.C. in 1985. 

What I didn’t mention was the second figure I got on that trip: Frostbite.

Here he is, almost 30 years later and still standing.

Frostbite was one of the first figures I got with a vehicle. He was the driver of the G.I. Joe Snow Cat arctic assault half-track vehicle (I attached a picture of one from G.I. Joe The Movie above).

The Snow Cat turned out to be one of my favorite vehicles, especially during those long Rochester winters, and Frostbite was a popular member of my collection.

Too bad I don’t have any vehicles from my collection. I left those with my parents but they took up too much space and ended up getting tossed out.

I can only imagine how they would be worth. Well, maybe not much since none of my toys were ever kept in their original packaging.

So that’s it for G.I. Joe, my favorite toy series of all time. If you’re into Joe and want detailed write-ups on every figure ever produced, I recommend you check out YoJoe.com.

That website also covers Joe media, so you can see comics, games, etc.

It’s nice that Hasbro is still putting out new Joe figures, not just because of the movies but because there’s a demand from older fans like me who have grown up and want to see those characters in higher quality sculpts.

I gotta warn you though, those new Joes are pricey. My parents probably paid $2 or $3 for most of the Joes in my collection. Now I see them in Target, and they’re like $9.99!

Some figures that aren’t in stores are even more expensive on eBay and Amazon, and I’m talking about figures released just within the last couple of years.

Welcome to the world of toy collecting.  

Filed under frostbite snow cat g.i. joe G.I. Joe A Real American Hero habro washington d.c. 80s toys

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As I close out my G.I. Joe series, I’m posting the penultimate figure tonight and the final one on Sunday.

So here we have the Viper, Cobra’s primary infantry soldier.

Released in 1986, I remember receiving this figure for Christmas that year. I might have mentioned before, Christmas ‘86 was a monster year for me.

That holiday Santa delivered so many G.I. Joe presents. There was the Tomahawk chopper, the Dreadnok Thunder Machine, the Cobra S.T.U.N., the Brazil Special Missions pack, the Cobra Terrordrome, and Viper.

It’s funny, because out of all that, Viper was the only single-card figure. I remember getting him before Christmas, a couple of days early. For some reason, my mom let me reach into my stocking, and the figure was there.

I really was the luckiest kid in the neighborhood.

Interesting fact about the Viper character: This figure that has been repainted, repackaged and redesigned 21 times since it was released in ‘86. 

Check out the figure’s history at YoJoe.com. I still think the first version is the best, although the newer ones are very impressive.

Filed under viper g.i. joe G.I. Joe A Real American Hero hasbro 80s toys cobra

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Here’s another figure in really good shape for being more than 25 years old.

This is Crystal Ball, the Cobra hypnotist, released as part of Hasbro’s 1987 line of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero action figures.

Crystal Ball is another of the ‘87 villain figures with personality. By that I mean they were actual characters and not just another variation of the “viper” corps.

The character never appeared in the Joe cartoon or comics, but he was featured in the G.I. Joe collector’s card series. According to the card, Crystal Ball was buried underneath some ice avalanche at Cobra-La, never to be seen again.

Here’s something interesting I found at YoJoe.com:

Legend has it that famous horror author Stephen King is connected to this figure. Depending on how the story is told, either he or his son, Owen, (who was a big G.I.Joe fan and who was the namesake for Sneak Peek) created Crystal Ball and wrote the filecard.


So that explains everything.

Crystal Ball is featured in the recent IDW Joe comics, where he is reimagined as Cobra’s “inquisitor general” and specializes in psychological tactics.

He also has longer hair and a beard, and these long, steel fingertip extensions that add to the creepiness.

I dig it though. It beats the weird gypsy look of the figure above.

Filed under crystal ball g.i. joe: a real american hero g.i. joe cobra hasbro 80s toys stephen king

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What will I do in two weeks when I run out of toys to talk about?

It’s true, the box is just about empty. I’ve counted ahead and mapped out the remaining entries to the blog, and the final post will come on Wednesday, July 3.

Fortunately, I’m going out with something really special, which was kind of my plan the whole time. Hey, I kept time as a news producer for almost 10 years, I know how to count down.

Anyway, the final entries will showcase what’s left of my G.I. Joe collection.

Here’s Tele-Viper, the Cobra communications soldier released as part of Hasbro’s 1985 G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero series.

One thing I always liked about G.I. Joe is — with the exception of the “Knowing is half the battle” PSA’s — the dialogue and descriptions weren’t completely dumbed down for kids. 

Here’s what it says about Tele-Vipers from the figure’s file card:

They carry a standard modular radio pack that contains as a main unit a VHF transceiver equipped with an automatic frequency hopper, a crypto unit and passive jamming and anti-jamming devices.

In 1985, none of that makes sense to me. I’m not sure it makes sense to me now. But I appreciate the fact that it didn’t just say, “They use the radio and talk to each other!”

I think that’s what makes it so appealing to this day. I could go back and read this stuff or the comics and I would understand a lot of the things I didn’t get when I was seven or eight years old.

At the time, I didn’t get it, but I didn’t care. It was a toy. There was a cartoon. Who cares about some mumbo-jumbo on the file card?

On the other hand, had I been more curious and shown an interest in technology, maybe I could have gotten into that computer business that seems to make people so much money. 

Getting back to the figure, I always thought Tele-Viper was carrying a small television with him. But it turns out the device he’s holding is a scanner, according to YoJoe.com.

Now I feel bad for always shoving it in some other figure’s face and making them talk into it.

It turns out, Tele-Viper is also the first Cobra character released with the “Viper” suffix. This would be a running thing throughout the Joe series.

As I’ve shown here in this blog, vipers came in many varieties: Alley, H.E.A.T., Night, Frag, Toxo, Track, Strato, Motor, Techno, Gyro, Ice, Astro, Hydro, Secto, Star, Aero, Laser, Range, S.A.W., Rock, Sludge, Flak, Heli, Nitro, Cyber, Mega, Swamp, and even Zombie.

In your face Dr. Wily.

Filed under g.i. joe G.I. Joe A Real American Hero tele-vipers hasbro 80s toys

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G.I. Joe! A Real American-slash-British Hero!

This Sunday’s figure is Big Ben, a member of the Special Air Service assigned to the Joes, and one of the first toys I got from the 1991 G.I. Joe: ARAH series.

I really dug the face paint and Big Ben’s hat, so right away he became one of my go-to figures for G.I. Joe adventures. I kind of botched it though, because I don’t recall giving him a British accent during play. Oh well.

By the time Big Ben was released I wasn’t really buying many action figures, in fact the I only had five figures from the 1991 series. That’s the lowest number of any Joe series.

I think part of the reason, besides the fact that I was getting older, was because I was starting to get more superhero action figures. Big Ben was released the same year as the first X-Men figures by Toy Biz.

He was also released around the time Hasbro started packaging G.I. Joe figures with those spring-loaded weapons, and I’ve shared my thoughts on those many times.

Big Ben didn’t have one of those accessories, but he did have that awesome rifle. 

Filed under big ben G.I. Joe A Real American Hero G.I. Joe hasbo 90s toys

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The early 90s were no time to be a ruthless corporate executive dumping toxic waste into the community.

From Michael Caine in On Deadly Ground to John Getz in Men At Work, these guys were getting a bad reputation all over the place.

Where there’s a trendy villain, there’s Hasbro, ready to add their contribution to its line of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero action figures.

Exhibit A: Cesspool, the CEO of some evil corporation who took his dirty dealings to Cobra.

He dropped the suit-and-tie bit for a uniform that would look better with that big jagged scar down the front of his face, and Hasbro armed him with a chainsaw and water gun for its 1991 Eco-Warriors line.

I don’t have the water gun anymore, it wasn’t that cool anyway. Basically each Eco-Warrior would come with a water-firing rifle, but they were so bulky I never wanted to use them.

This Eco-Warriors line lasted a couple of years, and they even got some play in the G.I. Joe: ARAH comics. In fact, the last comic I ever bought from that old Marvel series featured the Joes fighting Cesspool and his gang.

That was issue No. 124, and it ended on a cliffhanger. I never went back to find out what happened. I sure hope the Joes came out on top.

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My G.I. Joe series is starting to near its end, and I’m down to the last few figures in the box.

I didn’t exactly save the best for last. Instead I saved the ones in the worst condition, some missing limbs and others who can’t stand up without assistance.

The walking wounded.

So here I present the B.A.T., or Battle Android Trooper, another figure from Hasbro’s stellar 1986 line of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero action figures.

The B.A.T. is essentially cannon fodder for Cobra. In the Joe cartoons and comics platoons of these androids would take on G.I. Joe and get wiped out. One time Sgt. Slaughter even took on a whole crew on his own!

I think the introduction of the B.A.T. was an attempt to expand on the sci-fi aspect of G.I. Joe, while at the same time giving the Joes an enemy they could “kill” without any actual bloodshed.

Even casual Joe fans can recall that every time a plane got shot down in the cartoon series, you could see someone parachuting to safety. It was like the A-Team — violent but never with a body count.

The comics didn’t have to play by those rules. B.A.T.’s and humans both met their ends in battle.

What’s left of my B.A.T.? Not very much. He’s missing the cool chest plate that shows he’s all Small Wonder inside.

He came with different arm attachments, and I’ve only got one left. I think it’s a laser cannon.

Here’s a secret: This B.A.T. is really in pieces. His “o-ring” snapped and I had to struggle to keep his upper and lower halves together for the photos.

I need to get down to Lowe’s and buy some new rings so I can get my remaining figures together. I really want to keep this blog going but it’s going to be tough when I finally run out of toys in the box.

Maybe I can change the name to “My New Toys” and break out some NECA Cult Classics.  

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Scoop had a tough time.
He wanted to work in the news business, just like me, and that put him on the front lines for many G.I. Joe battles.
Things got bad when he was captured and Cobra pulled out the garden shears.
Now he’s a permanent righty.
As much as I tried to preserve my G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero collection in good, there was the occasional injury.
Scoop was the Joe combat photographer, kind of like Don Johnson in that awesome music video for his song Heartbeat.
He was released by Hasbro in 1989. Unfortunately, this is all I’ve got left of the figure. I’ve lost his camera, helmet, even his microphone.
That’s a shame.

Scoop had a tough time.

He wanted to work in the news business, just like me, and that put him on the front lines for many G.I. Joe battles.

Things got bad when he was captured and Cobra pulled out the garden shears.

Now he’s a permanent righty.

As much as I tried to preserve my G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero collection in good, there was the occasional injury.

Scoop was the Joe combat photographer, kind of like Don Johnson in that awesome music video for his song Heartbeat.

He was released by Hasbro in 1989. Unfortunately, this is all I’ve got left of the figure. I’ve lost his camera, helmet, even his microphone.

That’s a shame.