Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween 1978 Stormtrooper Helmet

With Halloween coming up, I thought I'd post something that's vintage but not really a toy.

Back in 1978, Star Wars was still a very new movie. For Halloween, I wanted to dress as a Stormtrooper. I dreamed of having one of the Don Post Stormtrooper masks that were always advertised in Starlog magazine. However, desiring one and convincing my parents that I needed one were entirely different issues.

Sympathetic to my cause, my Dad came up with the idea of building a stormtrooper mask from scratch. I was SURE it was going to turn out looking just like the helmets in the movie. When you are a kid, anything is possible.

So, out came the newspapers strips and flour glue. My Dad and I covered a balloon until we had a ball-like shell. Once that dried, we added more and more pieces and paper mache strips to build up the extremely accurate visage of the Stormtrooper you see before you. Once the shaped helmet had dried, a white coat of paint, green eye cellophane, and sharpies completed the transition from yesterday's news to today's Halloween costume mask. It was great fun and an enduring memory from childhood.

White poster board that was cut, rolled, and markered served as the white stormtrooper armor that completed the costume. Underneath the poster board armor were a black turtleneck and black pants (probably cords, given my Mom's proclivity for dressing me in cords on non-jean days...I can still hear them. Cords...both clothing and an aural experience.) I wish I had photos of the complete costume. I guess I'm just lucky that the mask itself has survived all these years since 1978.

Here's the interior. It includes an elastic head support, a nasal breathing hole that vents on the underside of the chin, and even my initials made with one of those clicky label makers. It was fun to catch up on the news inside the helmet between houses while Trick or Treating.

For those of you doubting the amazing screen accuracy of this helmet, I direct you to the undoctored and purely authentic screenshot from Star Wars below:

Monday, October 26, 2009

Mego 8" Planet of the Apes Astronaut

Who looks nothing like Charlton Heston, dresses like the Maytag Man, and has mutton-chops that would make a Rhinestone Cowboy jealous?

This guy.

This is Mego's Planet of the Apes Astronaut.

He's kind of a generic, all-purpose astronaut for the simian Planet of the Apes figures to attack, torture, and maim. In the original Planet of the Apes film, three men survived from their ship's crash landing only to stumble upon a hostile ape civilization. The primary astronaut, Taylor, was played by Charlton Heston and was the obvious choice for a likeness when Mego produced their astronaut figure.

I'm not sure if Mego decided that kids wouldn't care if this figure didn't look anything like Heston...or if Heston refused to allow his likeness for the toy...or if Heston was asking for too much money to license his likeness. At any rate, this is what we got. He was just called "Astronaut" on his package and in the television commercials.

He is made of completely recycled parts from Mego's Action Jackson line of figures. Action Jackson was a smaller copy of toy lines like Gi Joe and Action Man. Everything from the Astronaut's head and helmet down to his boots was recycled from the Action Jackson line. Even then, it was a bit disappointing that his helmet and suit looked nothing like the astronaut suits from the film. The least they could have done was give him a white suit.

However, there is something quaint and innocent about the fact that there once was a time when a toy company could get away with something like this. He was an astronaut and was stranded on the Planet of the Apes... this was enough for most kids and their imagination filled in the rest.

A complete Astronaut includes his silver helmet (with chin string and retractable goggles), blue jumpsuit (with GIANT zipper pull), white belt, and black boots.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Wham-O Boris Badenov Bendy

This is a Boris Badenov bendy from WHAM-O in 1972. I love the name Wham-O. I wish I would have named one of my kids Wham-O, but alas, that ship has sailed.

Boris is from the Rocky and Bulwinkle cartoon. He and his wife Natasha were villains on the show. I haven't seen the show in so long, I can't really offer much more about his character. I believe both Boris and his wife spoke with Russian accents.

I do know that Rocky and Bulwinkle were created by Jay Ward (his name's right on Boris's back) along with a whole slew of other characters like Mr. Peabody, Sherman, Dudley Do Right, and Snidely Whiplash. Great, classic cartoons.

I had this bendie when I was in First Grade. There was just something so cool about how chunky the figure was...and I really dug the jet black rubber and white color scheme. I took him to school one day at Simmons Elementary in Aberdeen, South Dakota in 1973. The thing is, he disappeared at some point during the day and that was the last I saw of him. I guess that's what you get for taking a toy to school when you aren't supposed to. I think I only had Boris for a day or two.

So, if anyone knows someone that went to Simmons Elementary in 1973 that has a Boris bendie, tell 'em I'd like to have a little chat with them...Wham-O style.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Kenner 12" Large Size See-Threepio (C3PO)

This is Kenner's 12" See-Threepio from 1978.

After Artoo, it seemed natural to cover Threepio in this next post.

There's not much to say about Threepio, the character, that hasn't been said a million times before. With that said, I will say this...he's shiny, he's whiny, and if he had spent any time on Dagobah he might have felt a bit briny (I'm here all week, folks). Bad rhymes aside, Threepio (along with Artoo) made for great comic relief in the Star Wars films. Unfortunately, I think that the widespread acceptance of these characters and their humor planted a seed or two in George Lucas's noggin' that eventually led to much more ham-fisted comedy in characters like the Ewoks and Jar Jar Binks. The droids' humor was perfect...ewoks and Jar Jar, not so much.

Kenner didn't really go above and beyond the call when they made See- Threepio in his 12" size. For all intents and purposes, Threepio is just a larger version of his 3 3/4 counterpart. He sports all the same limited articulation (neck, shoulders, hips) and doesn't include any accessories or play features. Such limited articulation on a character that has built-in spots for extra articulation is a cheap cop-out and one of my pet-peeves (I've noticed some of the recent Buzz Lightyear figures have the same issue... There's an elbow joint sculpted right in that doesn't move!!!) What you see is what you get and it's fairly easy to track down a "complete" See-Threepio these days as he didn't have any extra pieces to lose. However, he does sport a very shiny, gold paint scheme. Pretty, ain't it?

As a kid, his limited play features were a huge disappointment. Sometimes, I think I was made to suffer. It's my lot in life.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Kenner 12" Scale Large Size Artoo Detoo (R2D2)

This is Kenner's 12" scale, large size Artoo Detoo (R2D2).

Artoo was quite a revolutionary character when he appeared in the first Star Wars film. He was shaped like a garbage can on legs and was not what we were used to as far as film robots go. Through the use of motors, puppetry, and sound design, he was brought to life as a character we all could love. I can't think of another instance in cinema before Star Wars where someone attempted to make a non-humanoid robot a sympathetic, fully-fleshed out character. We couldn't understand a "word" he said but we always knew how Artoo felt and what he was thinking. In my book, cinematically speaking, that's a huge achievement.

In 1978, Kenner released the lovable Artoo Detoo in the 12" scale to go along with their other 12" figures. I think they did a wonderful job of accurately representing how Artoo looked onscreen. Sure, he's not going to fool a studied prop-junkie but his proportions look about right and he's got oodles of detail and chrome paint.

It's a good thing Artoo is so good-looking because he can't do much else. His head turns and his legs swivel at the "shoulders" and the "ankles." He also has wheels to help him scoot along. No third leg on this guy, though.

The downside to vintage collectibles that are molded in white plastic (versus painted white), is that the white plastic almost always yellows over time. So, you can see that Artoo isn't completely white anymore but more of a cream color. Also, glue along joint lines tends to darken and show up on vintage white plastic (Vintage White Plastic would make a great band name, btw).

When you press a panel on the front of Artoo, a door opens in back to reveal the Death Star Plans that he's hiding from the Empire. There are two sets of plans inside Artoo that can be removed. Mine have fingerprints on them, and if I'm not mistaken, they look Bothan... go figure.

Artoo doesn't have much to get lost. He needs his two plans to be complete and that's about it... barring a missing leg or something.

His and hers?

This is a great piece and a collectible just can't get any more "Star Warsy" than a vintage Artoo Detoo giant action figure.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Mego 8" Planet of the Apes Dr. Zaius

This is Mego's 8" Dr. Zaius. He was first released in 1974, also.

Dr. Zaius sort of presides over the science and religion aspects of Ape Society as the "Minister of Science" and "Chief Defender of the Faith." He's seen as a wise old sage by most of ape society. However, Zaius knows more about ape history than he is willing to divulge to others. He's fearful for ape society if the truth of its origin leaks out. Kind of like how our government hides the truth about UFOs, Bigfoot, and Unicorns from us...allegedly, of course. If they do, it's for our own good.

Mego did an outstanding job with the head sculpt on Zaius. It looks a great deal like the character in the films and seems to almost have every crease and wrinkle. He even seems to have that certain twinkle in his eye that actor, Maurice Evans, brought to the role. Am I seeing too much?

Dr. Zaius didn't come with any accessories. It would have been nice if he had come with a scroll or something, though. Nope, he'll just have to suppress the truth and torment humans using only his wits and hairy mitts.

A complete Dr. Zaius should include his fur-cuffed tunic, pants, and black boots. Some versions of Dr. Zaius include boots with symbols from the Ape alphabet embossed on the sides of them. However, the example pictured is wearing the standard black boots without symbols. It should also be noted that with all the Mego Apes, Zaius included, the hands of the figure should be sculpted with a hairy texture.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Mego 8" Planet of the Apes Soldier Ape

I could go on and on all day about how much I loved the Planet of the Apes as a kid...and how I still do. I could also go on and on also about how I think the Apes movies and TV show deserve more love from the current geek community.

At any rate, this is Mego's 8" Soldier Ape action figure. The soldier apes were the "Star Wars Stormtroopers" of the Apes films. They all looked pretty much alike and wore the same uniform (they also tended to be fairly dumb). So, in the toy world, you could buy as many soldier apes as you liked and build an army without someone saying, "Aren't they all the same guy?" There was an understanding, as with Stormtroopers, that identical figures represented a whole bunch of individual soldiers...that all looked very similar (or simian). However, I only had one. I'm just trying to give the non-Apeheads a sense of who these guys were in the films.

The Soldier Ape was one of the first 5 Apes figures that Mego released when they started the line in 1974.

One thing about him that really bugged me as a child (and that I love today) is his fingerless gloves. He just has fabric pouches that cover all his fingers and make it more than a little difficult for him to hold his rifle. These days, I love the fact that Mego made decisions like this... Hey, it's just a toy.

Although his gloves were a bit odd, the Soldier Ape's costume is excellent for a Mego figure. They even included a bandolier and rifle.

A complete Soldier Ape should include his tunic, pants, black boots, gloves, bandolier, and rifle with string. It should also be noted that late releases of the Soldier Ape did not include gloves, but rather, vinyl cuffs attached to the tunic that left the hands bare.

I also posted about Cornelius from this same set and release HERE.

"I smell an ASTRONAUT!"

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Remco Star Trek Phaser

This is just a quick follow-up post to my garage finds post back in August. I had mentioned that we had a Star Trek phaser that shot disks but didn't know what had happened to it. A couple of weeks later, my Mom stopped by with a few more little things that she and my Dad had found. Lo and behold, there was the Star Trek phaser. No big deal... just thought I'd throw it on here.

It's made by Remco and is dated 1976. This was a time when there really weren't any active movie or television properties associated with Star Trek running. However, Star Trek toys were made throughout the 70s, even when there wasn't a show to promote.