Sunday, May 23, 2010

Laurel and Hardy Finger Puppets 1972

Sometimes, I like to try to remember toys from my very early childhood. Often, they are just fleeting fragments of memories of things that may not have even existed at all. When I was about 5 years old, my folks would put me to bed on Saturday nights but then allow me to wake up a few hours later to watch some of the old movies that played on one of the local channels. Sometimes, they were old Universal monster movies like Dracula or the Creature from the Black Lagoon... and sometimes, an old comedy like a Laurel and Hardy movie would be shown.

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy made 106 films together between 1926 and 1951. Today, I couldn't tell you much about them, or even the name of a single film they made. However, when I was five years old, Laurel and Hardy were favorites of mine.

At any rate, I had a vague memory of having a pair of Laurel and Hardy finger puppets and was curious whether they were something real or something I had concocted in my head. Thirty-eight year old memories can be a bit fuzzy.

The internet is a pretty astounding thing, really. After only five minutes of searching, I had not only discovered that the finger puppets were indeed real (from 1972) but also for sale... cheap. My priceless memories were someone else's junk drawer fodder.

And so, a box arrived in the mail and time folded back on itself as I held these two fleeting bits of memory in my hands once again. It's a strange feeling to have such vague and distant memories come to such vivid reality in an instant.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Wham-O Bullwinkle Bendy

There were a lot of bendy figures being produced in the early 70s... superheroes, TV Heroes, cartoon characters, etc. I had quite a few bendy figures during this time and this was one of them... Bullwinkle the Moose from the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons. This is another bendy from Wham-O that was produced in 1972. Wham-O produced quite a few characters from the Rocky and Bullwinkle/Fractured Fairy Tales cartoons. Hopefully, I can get my hands on a few more of them.

Bullwinkle was produced in true bendy fashion... that is, he was produced as a three-dimensional figure but the term "dimensional" is pushing it a bit. Most bendy figures were produced as thinly as possible. That is, from the front, they look correct. When you turn them sideways, they almost disappear. I'm not sure if this thinness helped with way the internal wires worked or if it was a cost cutting measure but it's definitely a trademark of bendy figures from this era.

Consequently, Bullwinkle looked good in the package but wasn't much to look at once you tried to utilize him as a 3D character. As you can see, his antlers don't quite work once you try to adjust him out of the package.

I love these old bendies from the early 70s. They are just so...TOY. I don't know how else to put it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Mego 8" Planet of the Apes Astronaut Peter Burke

This is Mego's Peter Burke from 1974. He's the other astronaut that was stranded with Alan Virdon on the TV version of Planet of the Apes.

As with Virdon, Mego did an outstanding job of capturing the actor's (James Naughton) likeness... especially by 1974 toy standards.

To be complete, Peter should have a brown long-sleeved shirt, tan pants, a burlap (yep, it's even rough and itchy) vest, and brown moccasins (same as Virdon and Cornelius/Galen).

This concludes the Mego Planet of the Apes action figure line. Mego produced 9 individual figures from the films and TV show (ten characters... as Mego used the same figure for both Cornelius and Galen). Although, we really didn't care what movies or shows the figures came from as long as we had a good assortment of Apes and Astronauts to play with... and Mego delivered. I think Mego did an outstanding job on the Planet of the Apes figure line. For Megos, they are well-detailed and come with a nice assortment of accessories (at least the Generals did). For me, this will always be the quintessential Planet of the Apes figure line and I'm glad I was the right age when they arrived to enjoy them like I and many others did.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mego 8" Planet of the Apes Astronaut Alan Virdon

In 1974, those dirty apes from the series of ground-breaking sci-fi films were transported to my family's little black and white television (along with millions of other televisions, I'm sure). The Planet of the Apes television series didn't last long, but while it did, I was always glued to the set to see what would happen next to the astronauts that were stranded in this strange world where apes ruled and humans cowered. The TV show, in premise, was a lot like the first Planet of the Apes film. Although, instead of one astronaut surviving and being on the run, the television series had two...Peter Burke and Alan Virdon.

This is Alan Virdon, one half of the human astronaut duo that survived through all 14 episodes of the television show that were produced. Mego produced Virdon as part of the their second series of Planet of the the Apes (POTA) figures. While the first series of figures featured a generic astronaut that looked nothing like Charlton Heston, this new batch of POTA figures featured astronauts with very good likenesses to their living, breathing counterparts on the TV screen (Alan Virdon was played by actor, Ron Harper).

I remember seeing these two newer astronauts in the Coon Rapids, Minnesota Target store in 1974. Instantly, I wanted to bring them both home for my apes to chase and torment. It wasn't to be... and, as a kid, I never did get these two astronauts. However, my mom did make a very convincing version of one their tattered costumes for my Mego Tarzan and he did a fine job of standing in for these official Mego astronauts (and Evel Knievel's Canyon Sky Cycle stood in as the astronaut's ill-fated rocket ship).

Alan is a pretty basic Mego figure. He didn't come with any accessories or extras... just the figure and his "ripped-up" clothing. To be complete, he should have his tan shirt and pants, brown vest, and brown moccasins (the same ones that Cornelius and Galen came with).

It was great to finally get Alan and his astronaut buddy, Peter, a couple of years ago. It made that 7 year-old that had to leave them behind at Target very happy.