Thursday, May 30, 2013

"I'm a Jedi, like my father before me."

I've had all kinds of distractions for the past couple of weeks, which has led to me starting and stopping this post about a half dozen times now. Hopefully I'll get it all out this time. Of course, if I don't, I guess nobody else will know about it.

Today, I'm showing off what was one of my grails as a kid.

Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight, at your service. When I first saw Return of the Jedi, one of my favorite parts was seeing Luke lightsaber his way through a sail barge full of palace guards. It was a scene I re-enacted many times with my G.I. Joe figures, though I think I may have used Snake-Eyes in Luke's place. I guess the comparison isn't too far off, since Luke was pretty much a space ninja by this point.

I first discovered this version of Luke when I was 11 years old, and I wanted one up until I stopped buying and playing with toys. We didn't have any comic shops or toy stores around here, so I couldn't get my hands on him that way. My only other option was to buy from one of the companies that advertised in the toy price guides. I was too young to have a checking account, and I didn't think my parents would approve of me spending that much money on one figure, so Luke Skywalker Jedi Knight went unpurchased.

Fast forward to 2012, and I saw the new Vintage Collection Luke Jedi Knight hanging on the pegs. Frankly, he looked a bit weird. The sculpt was very skinny, and it looked like the figure would break with the slightest touch. They also didn't include his palace blaster or his cloak. How can you not include the cloak? It was the coolest thing about the vintage figure. Almost out of spite, I went on eBay and started looking around. A couple of bids later, and I have my own Jedi Knight.

It's as simple of a figure as you can get. Five points of articulation, and the only painted parts are his head and left hand. Luke originally came with a blaster and a lightsaber, but mine only had the lightsaber. He also came with his cloak, so I can re-enact that whole, mysterious stranger scene from when he first entered Jabba's palace.

I'm glad I got this one now, and not when I was 11. I honestly think I would have been disappointed by him at that age. But now, he's definitely one of my favorite figures of all time. Now I just need a Jabba the Hutt for him to threaten, and a Rancor monster for him to kill.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Old School Sith Lord

I had that big guy up there for several years before I knew who he was. My original was in worse shape though, and was missing his cape and lightsaber. I'm not sure how I originally came into possession of Darth Vader. Going by his condition, he must have been a hand-me-down from one of my older cousins. Or, he could have been something my mom picked up at a yard sale. She used to love hitting the garage sales, and I was usually lucky enough to be the one she was buying for. Regardless of where he came from, I could just tell he was a bad guy. It must be the face. I don't think anyone could have a face like that, and still be a good guy.

The lightsaber hilt always puzzled me. I had never seen a complete Darth Vader at that point, so I just pretended it was a laser gun of some sort. Sometimes I would stick a G.I. Joe knife in there, and have him run around attacking people like that. In the end though, Old Darth just didn't have the panache or the staying power of Destro or Cobra Commander. It wasn't long before he started spending most of his time at the bottom of the toy box. He most likely ended up being part of the great action figure massacre of 1994. It's an event that led to me destroying most of my toys I'd collected up until that point. If I could travel in time, it's one of the first places I'd stop, and I would give my 13 year old self a smack in the head. Trust me, he was starting to become a real jackass, and having my future self come and give him a wake up call would have prevented so many problems.

Figures like this Darth Vader remind me that my tastes are changing as I get older. Years ago, I would have dismissed these figures because of their lack of articulation and their simple appearance. Now, I find myself appreciating that same simplicity. For me, the vintage Star Wars line is starting to transcend from just mere toys, to miniature works of art. You know, maybe I should try to figure out how to frame some of these guys. Chelsea always says I don't have enough of my own decorations around the house..

Monday, May 20, 2013

Stop! Thief!

This is one of the first photos I took when I started this blog. I could never think of a good caption for it though, so it languished in my photo album, unseen and unloved. At least I hope it did. I'll feel like a right jackass if I've already posted this one at some point.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

We now return you to irregularly scheduled programming, already in progress..

I found out about an illness in my family last week, and the gravity of the situation didn't really hit me until Monday. Thankfully I had a post already written up, otherwise I would have been a complete no show this week. I'll definitely have more of a presence the next few days though. Spirits are a bit higher, and the mind is a little clearer, so I can focus more on the things that make me happy.

While I have your attention, I'd like to direct your attention to a blog just started by my lovely girlfriend; Books, Booze, and Bitchin'. The title pretty much says it all. It's a chronicle of her monthly book club meetings, and the shenanigans that go on there. I thought they always said, "What happens at book club, stays at book club", but I guess she's allowed to bend the rules just a little bit.

So keep your eyes peeled, there shall be more posts from me this coming week. Until then, I hope you all had a great weekend.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

IG-88: A real cloning scandal.

IG-88 was part of the small group of Star Wars action figures that I owned as a child. I didn't know who he was until my teenage years, but I could tell he was up to no good. He just looked like a bad guy, with those spindly arms and beady eyes. Unfortunately, IG was one of the many victims of my dog, Rascal, and he ended up with chew marks covering most of his body. I held on to him for a few more years, but he was eventually given away or tossed out. I really can't remember which one. Well, a few months ago, I picked up a Boba Fett/IG-88 two pack, and it sorta rekindled an urge to recollect the Star Wars figures of my youth.Thanks to my trade with Eric of Toyriffic, I was again in possession of an honest to goodness, vintage IG-88. As I looked him over though, something seemed amiss. He looked so familiar, I just couldn't figure out why. That's when I pulled out my newer IG-88 and compared the two:

Yeah, tell me which one is the original. Kenner didn't just use a similar mold for the POTF2 IG-88, they used the exact same mold. The only real difference between the two is the newer version has a swiveling waist. The vintage one also has sharper detail on its body parts, so I'm assuming the mold was getting worn out by the time 1996 rolled in.  Or, maybe the newer version is supposed to look worn and dirty. IG-88 would have been around for a while by this point, and I'm sure he would have started showing some wear and tear.

I know Kenner is famous for re-using molds (see: the entire Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves toyline), but it surprises me that they would use the same mold 15 years later. It's especially surprising when you realize all of the other characters in the POTF 2 line used new sculpts. I'm curious as to why IG-88 was the only sculpt that was reused. The original was already rather detailed compared to most figures in the vintage line, so maybe they figured he was already good enough. It also begs the question, why not reissue the vintage lines and sell those? I'm sure they would have flown off the shelves in no time.

In the end, I think the vintage IG-88 is a better figure. The sharpness of the detail and the metallic silver coloring just make for a more attractive figure. He looks like he's ready to scour the galaxy for that scoundrel Han Solo, while the newer version looks like he's ready for the scrap heap.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The mysterious pendant, and a giveaway.

In the summer of 1987, my mom and I were invited to go to Texas to visit a friend for a week. I was 5 years old at the time, and it would be the first time I had ever flown in a plane. Up until a few years ago, it was the only time I had flown anywhere. I think it was  a combination of a fear of flying, along with a hatred for standing in lines. I also don't like getting felt up by strangers, so there was that too.

The first thing I remember about Texas, is that it was very hot and very bright. It seemed like the entire state was covered in bright, heat reflecting sand. I imagine that it's pretty close to what a microwave dinner feels like. I never saw much grass, and what little there was seemed to be small green oasis' among seas of concrete. It was quite a shock coming from the lush, green Eastern Shore, to what was essentially, the middle of a desert. I was always a shy kid, but I somehow managed to make friends among the kids living in the apartment complex. Even the teenagers were pretty nice to us. Sure they'd pick on us a bit, but none of it was particularly harsh. None of us ran away crying for our mommies at least.

One of my favorite things to do while we were in Texas was swimming in the complex's pool. It was the first time I can remember swimming in an inground pool, and it was amazing. I spent so much time in there that my blonde hair nearly turned green. It was on one of these afternoons at the pool that I stumbled across the pendant. I had gotten out of the pool to grab some lunch, and on my way back I came across a small lizard. Immediately, it took off, with me following close behind.. Of course, the lizard was way too fast, and it ran into one of the bushes next to the pool. I searched through the bush, but there was no sign of the lizard anywhere. Instead, I came across an odd metallic object. Intrigued, I reached in, and pulled out a necklace with a strange emblem on the front.

I showed it to the kids hanging out around the pool, but none of them recognized it. I went inside and asked my mom if I could keep it, and she just shrugged her shoulders. Since noone else had claimed it, the necklace was mine. I wore the necklace the rest of the time we were on vacation, and pretty much everywhere else when I wasn't in school. Eventually, I stopped wearing it around, and it ended up in one of my many junk boxes. Every now and then, I would pull it out of the box and look it over. I would think about its origins, and who it originally belonged to. Obviously, it was someone that was pretty damn proud to be born a Capricorn. It always managed to have a certain mystique about it, and I would come up with different scenarios for the previous owner. I used to imagine that it belonged to an evil warlock that was vanquished in mortal combat next to the pool. After he was defeated by his the good wizard, his body disappeared in a puff of acrid smoke, and this pendant fell in the nearby bushes. It's the last bit of evidence that the warlock even existed, and it fell into the possession of a 5 year old boy. Or it just belonged to some dude that loved wearing shirts with half the buttons undone. It probably not ripped off when he was getting beat up for hitting on some other guy's girlfriend.

 The most amazing thing is that I've managed to maintain possession of this thing for so long. Every time the pendant seems lost, it shows up again. I don't have any real attachment to this thing,  yet it has managed to stay with me while some of my favorite toys have been lost to time. Perhaps this thing is cursed after all.

Just a postscript, but you think I would have learned by now. If I want to preserve any magic in my life, I really should avoid using Google. One quick search brought me to this link on Etsy. For those of you that don't feel like clicking the link, the pendant was made by a company called Sarah Coventry. They were a direct sales business, and it appears they marketed a whole line of astrological sign pendants. This pendant was from the 1960's, so at least it could have an interesting history, if no other real value.

I've decided, since this one isn't even my sign, I'm offering it up for free to the first capricorn that wants it. That's anyone born between December 21st and january 19th. Just leave me a comment, or shoot me an email, and its yours.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Loot acquired and it's Toyriffic!

If you follow Eric over a Toyriffic, you'll know that the two of us set up a trade a while back. Well, my share of the loot arrived last week, and it was quite amazing. I had mentioned that I was becoming a fan of vintage Star Wars stuff, and Eric told me he'd give me plenty to write about. Well, he sure wasn't kidding:

There's all kinds of vintage goodness in there, mixed with some non vintage goodies. There's also one fella in there that will be part of a scandal that I plan on sharing with the world. Okay, so I'm probably the only one that will think it's scandalous, but I know for sure it's a least a little interesting.

I am still trying to figure out who the little spaceman is. He looks very familiar, but I can't put my finger on it. That's okay, I like a good mystery.

So, between Eric and jboypacman, I've got quite the backlog built up now. That means I'm going to be around for a long, long time. MUAHAHAHA..

Saturday, May 4, 2013

League Assigment- Comic Books

league comics

This week's assignment from the League of Extraordinary Bloggers consisted of two words:

Comic Books

My first exposure to comics came when I was around 7 years old. I had a few random comics that, going by the subject matter, most likely came from one of my cousins. I had a couple issues of House of Secrets, and a random issue of Supergirl. I didn't fully understand the stories, and the House of Mystery books actually creeped me out a bit. I guess that's why I never really had an interest in collecting comics back then. Sure, I enjoyed the artwork, but they never really made any sense to me. Well, all of that changed on Christmas morning in 1992.

That morning, I unwrapped three plain cardboard boxes containing A, B, and E from that catalog page. I know for a fact I didn't mark them in that book, but somehow my parents just knew I would love the comics. As usual, they were right on the money. I opened those boxes, and it was like someone flipped a switch. That Christmas Eve, I fell asleep a normal 11 year old boy. That Christmas Day I had become a collector. It was only a little over 50 comics, but it may as well have been a couple hundred. I spent most of the next week reading and rereading every issue. I was fascinated by the  interesting characters I had just been introduced to, and I couldn't wait to get my hands on more. It didn't take long for that small collection to snowball into several hundred, and by the time I got out of collecting, I had just over a thousand comics. Honestly, out of all the things I've collected, I think I miss comics the most. It's the one thing I feel like I could get back into it again, if I found the right book.

Just as an added little bonus, here's a photo from that morning, December 25th, 1992. This was taken just as I was opening the box of Marvel comics. That's an issue of The New Warriors under that copy of Daredevil. I wish I could tell you which book I'm holding, but I think they all had that Battletoads ad on the back. If that kid only knew what he would be getting himself into when he opened that box...he'd probably still open it.

How did some of the other League members tackle this titanic topic?

Erik at Toyriffic likes his heroes malleable.

Mos Espa Collection goes through the 5 stages of addiction comic collecting.

Cavalcade of Awesome shares some movie scripts turned comics.

Todd Franklin, Mayor of Neato Coolville gives Spidey his stamp of approval.

Achievements in Gaming shares some great artists.

AEIOUWhy has forsaken the analog!

Flashlights Are Something to Eat bought a comic that ended up being crappy

Shawn of Branded in the 80s has an Uncanny taste in comics.

*The catalog page came from Wishbook's Flickr page.

**Thanks to STL Comic's cover gallery, I was able to figure out which titles came in the Marvel set. I think they may have missed a couple of them though, since I know the two comics in my picture aren't shown.

Friday, May 3, 2013

The man with the Metalface

Ah, Steel Monsters. When 1987 rolled around, I was already a huge fan of Tonka's construction toys. I would spend hours playing with them in the sandpile, pretending to build forts for my action figures. Then Christmas morning of '87, I found a heavy and familiar shaped package under the tree. I tore it open expecting to find another piece of equipment to add to my crew. Instead, I found this guy:

Whoa..I already had a Tonka Grader, but this one had attitude. You can't see it from the picture, but the vehicle actually had battle scars molded into its plastic parts. It looked like the sort of vehicle you'd find in Mad Max, except with a double shot of kick ass. Don't pay any attention to the jerk standing next to Masher, he was the driver of a different vehicle. This is Masher's driver:

There's ol' Metalface. He was one of my favorite figures growing up, and I was lucky jboypacman had one up for trade. Of course, he didn't include Masher, his only accessory. What's up with that jboy? Just kidding, of course. Metalface only has 5 points of articulation, but he's actually a pretty detailed figure. He would certainly fit in among the vintage Star Wars crowd, and I even found a place for him among my G.I. Joes. The nice thing was they were all pretty much the same scale, so my Joes could fit in my Tonka trucks and the Steel Monsters vehicles.

Since Metalface didn't come with a vehicle, I decided to look around and see if I could scrounge something up.

What luck! A dump truck, a large rocket launcher, and some tape. I'm sure Metalface can come up with something..

Looks like he's almost finished. I can't wait to see what he comes up with.

That certainly is a dump truck with a rocket launcher on top. It's not quite as impressive as Masher was, but Metalface doesn't seem to mind. I'm sure he can cause plenty of chaos and mayhem with that combo.

Thanks again to jboypacman for the awesome trade. Don't forget to go check out his blog in my sidebar.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

You're about to be conquered, by KANG!

What is it about guys that have names that sound like noises? Kang seems like the sound a pot would make if you dropped it on the tile floor. Anywho, I'd like to introduce you to one of the first superhero action figures I ever owned, Secret Wars Kang.

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