Friday, March 16, 2018

A Farewell To Toys R' Us

The final blow has been struck against Toys R' Us and every location will soon be closing across the globe. As the corporate office scrambled to restructure the company, the damage was already done and the final nails already hammered into the coffin.

It's true the heydays of Toys R' Us have long since been lost in the past. Toy isles today simply aren't what they used to be. The magic of going to the store has long since been gone - At least for this Blogger.

I remember going to Toys R' Us in the 1980's and finding a treasure trove of toys - Star Wars, Masters of the Universe, G.I. Joe, Transformers, Thundercats, Silver Hawks, Go-Bots, M.A.S.K., Cops n' Crooks, Nintendo cartridges, Bravestarr, Madballs, M.U.S.C.L.E.S., WWF, Barnyard Commandos, Food Fighters, Police Academy, Cowboys of Moo-Mesa, Inhuminoids, Sectaurs, Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future (just to name a few) and more! It was magical, it was fun and it was exciting all at the same time. Back in those days it was awful to hear those dreaded words from your parents, "Pick one." How could they think this was even possible when every toy isle was filled to the brim with figures, vehicles and playsets?

However, these days I can easily walk in and out of a Toys R' Us in under ten minutes confident there was nothing at all worth buying. In fact, I dare say it's more so a chore to go and certainly not fun. What was once an experience of excited squeals of, "What will I find today?" became a bored, "Is there anything worth buying?" The isles were never stocked, the stores generally a mess and peg warmers a plenty strewn about with all the desirable stuff long gone by local scalpers.

The further downward spiral of this is what will happen to companies such as Hasbro, Mattel and to a lesser extent Funko, NECA and McFarlane Toys (as well as all the rest)? Who will sell their toys now? With the loss of Toys R' Us, these companies lose their biggest customer in the industry. Target and Walmart have very limited space for toys and make it a point to only stock popular items guaranteed to sell.

So what's the option? Amazon? No way. As a collector I can tell you I will absolutely not buy any collectible via mail order unless it's through ebay with thorough photos of every side of the box - Even if I intend on opening it. The last thing I want is a figure that looks like someone curb stomped it before sending it off.

Personally, I see this as a great opportunity for the return of the mom and pop store. All of these toy producers are in a bad spot which leaves a perfect opportunity for negotiated prices to potential dealers. If companies like Hasbro and Mattel were smart, they would start embracing this option sooner rather than later.

In a way there is also another good side to this. It forces said toy producers to focus on good quality toys which are all but guaranteed to sell. They can't produce three hundred thousand random peg warmers and only one hundred thousand of the popular character everyone wants. Those who would be willing to stock their toys would shut that nonsense down quickly when faced with a ton of merchandise they can't sell. Like I said, all the negotiation power is in the hands of the few retailers who can dictate the future of toys and will hopefully do so for the positive.

Is it sad to see Toys R' Us go? Honestly, not really. For me the store has been dead and gone for quite a few years at this point. I can't tell you the last thing I bought from them or even when. For me I've already been visiting a grave site for years. Now I'm to the point where it's time to stop going by and simply move on to bigger better things.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Last Jedi Digital Release Is Here!

Fans of Star Wars: The Last Jedi will be pleased to hear the digital version is available as of today. "Download" it from your favorite online streaming service for about $19.99 to $24.99.

Though it is far from my favorite Star Wars film in the franchise, I have to admit it is growing on me. I also have to admit I have already watched it three times today.

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Monday, March 12, 2018

Peter Pan (Sears)

Peter Pan

LOL! Dig that fro on Peter Pan! Can you see him busting into Wendy's bedroom window in the 70's? First, he kicks in the window with his massive six inch platform shoes and bell bottoms. As Wendy springs up in her bed to a sitting position, he quickly snaps to a John Travolta / Saturday Night Fever pose - Finger pointing straight up in the air. He then says, "Hey groovy mama, I'm the Pan, can ya dig?" Followed by a snort of coke off his excessively long pinky finger nail, and the line, "I'm off to Neverland, baby."

Okay, maybe that's far out in left field, but this is certainly the image that pops into our heads when looking at this 1988 line of Peter Pan dolls released exclusively through Sears. Really the only stand out here in terms of not being laughable is Captain Hook. As for Tinkerbell, when did she grow into a four foot tall emo? Wendy could easily be mistaken as generic / random girl doll number 6,429...And again, that hair on Peter! Yikes!

This is definitely one of those lines which stands out as the perfect example of how not to do it. We've seen plenty of lines prior to this one which has won this award, and it definitely wasn't the last. However, for 1988, it's definitely the winner!

Okay, it's not all bad. The packaging is actually pretty good for a Pan doll line. The use of artwork from the original Disney animated film is a nice touch on the green background...But it really only stands to accentuate what these figures should have looked like.

Sigh...We just can't say anything further about this line because we're trying so hard to not just blast it for being so comical.

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Sunday, March 11, 2018

Where To Even Begin...

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Moving Day!

 Let's roll out!

Monday, March 5, 2018

M*A*S*H* (Tristar International)

Tristar International

M*A*S*H* (Mobile Army Surgical Hospital) began as a series of novels in 1968 by author Richard Hooker. The books which were published up until 1977 were loosely based on his experiences as a surgeon in the 8055th MASH in South Korea.

The success of the novels lead to the film M*A*S*H* in 1970 which in and of itself holds some interesting historical facts. First, Roger Ebert claims this is the first movie released which used the F*** word - A claim which has been disputed by many film buffs. Additionally, M*A*S*H* was one of the first three films released for sale on VHS in the United States in 1977. So with that said, it could be argued it's the first VHS tape released to have the F*** word.

The film featured numerous characters, however only four of them made the transition to the television series which ran from 1972 - 1983. Out of those four, only two retained the "job" of their characters from the movie - Gary Burghoff who played Radar O'Reilly and G. Wood who played Brigadier General Hammond. The other two actors, Tim Brown and John Fujioka played minor roles, and in the case of Fujioka, played multiple ones.

While several M*A*S*H* toys had been produced prior to Tristar International's 1982 line, these would be the first to feature 3 3/4 inch style figures. Each one featured multiple points of articulation, and rightly so considering they were designed in the style of the soon to be majorly popular G.I. Joe line.

The series included eight figures, one of which was a variant of Klinger, three vehicles and a playset. All and all, this wasn't a bad line. In fact, it could be argued had it been released a little earlier, say 1976 to 1980 it may have been even more popular as this was a peak time for the series in terms of viewers.

Unfortunately with the television series ending a year later, so to did the toy line. Before you knew it the toys were shuffled off to clearance isles, and pushed into obscurity to become one of those nostalgic items which a lot of people to this day didn't even know existed.

As we mentioned above, there were two versions of Klinger released. One in a pink dress, and another in his army fatigues. What's interesting to note is if you look at the back of the package, only the version in the pink clothing is advertised as being available. The irony of this is that when seller list a set of the action figures for sale, usually the Klinger in pink dress is not included, and to date proves to be the rarer of the two. It's odd the one advertised is the more difficult to find. Perhaps not too many boys were buying pink action figures back in the 80's.

Of course you can't have an 80's action figure line without having a multipack. Tristar produced a nice set which included the characters BJ, Col. Potter, Winchester and Klinger. This was a cheaper way to get a few of the less popular characters for a couple bucks less.

Rounding out the series were a set of vehicles - A jeep, ambulance and helicopter. An interesting aspect to these was the figure included. Not only was this just a random "army figure", but it was the same one packaged with each vehicle. If you look at the face, it could be mistaken for an alternate version of Hawkeye with blond hair.

The last item released for the series was a really nice Military Base playset. It featured a role out plastic mat, and several tents and accessories. This massive sixteen foot play area was large enough to not only set up all of the items included in the box, but also all of the figures and vehicles. In other words, it was built to scale to accommodate the entire line! That's not only impressive, but very rare in the world of action figures where items are actually built to scale to be incorporated with each other.

This may very well rank as the most impressive playset we've ever seen, and goes to show sometimes simple is better. Well...Okay, maybe that honor goes to the U.S.S. Flagg from G.I. Joe.

While the majority of the individually carded figures are readily available on secondary markets, the vehicles, playset and (to an extent) the multipack of figures) are fairly scarce. They can be found from time to time, but they're going to cost you quite a bit. The playset alone can sell for upwards of $600.00 in the box. Compared to the figures which can commonly be swooped up in a set of seven (because again, pink Klinger is fairly hard to find) for around $60.00 - $80.00, this is quite a massive jump in price.

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