Vintage Vault: Star Wars Hoth Rebels by Kenner, Part 3

It’s day three of vintage Kenner Star Wars goodness. In case you’re just joining us, these features were inspired by the fact that I got a box of some of my old Star Wars figures shipped down to my from my brother. I’ve been going through them and matching up weapons and cleaning them up. Some of them are in pretty poor shape, while others aren’t half bad at all. To kick things off, I decided to focus on figures from my absolute favorite scene in any of the Star Wars films: The Battle of Hoth. Today we’re going to check out the unsung heroes of that battle, Unnamed Rebel Commander and Unnamed Rebel Trooper!

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Oddly enough, I have no memory of actually getting these figures, which leads me to believe they came to me through one of two great Christmas winfalls of Star Wars figures. Yes, there were two Christmases where I gave “Santa” a list of figures I was missing and my poor parents had to go hunt them all down.

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The Rebel Commander is a really cool figure, but I don’t think I was all that keen on him back in the day. Nonetheless, he got used a lot. My Falcon spent a great deal of time marooned on Hoth and the Rebels took up using it as a base of operations. Rebel Commander set up shop in the back and became a permanent fixture. I remember that I eventually adopted the name Cliff for him because his mustache made me think he was Cliff Clavin from Cheers. Of course it wasn’t until much, much later that I learned John Ratzenberger actually played a Rebel on Hoth. Was this figure supposed to be Bren Derlin? If not, that was some crazy coincidence!

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And then there’s the Trooper. Man, I wanted to build a squad of these so bad. Even as a kid, I loved the idea of having troop builders, but my parents sure didn’t. Getting them to understand that I needed multiple Stormtroopers and Rebels for my battles never did fly. All my attempts were met with, “No, you have this guy already. Get someone you don’t have!” How the hell did they always know? Anyway, I was a tricky little snot and would ask my grandparents for figures that I wanted multiples of and every now and again it worked. Still, I don’t think I ever had more than one Rebel Trooper. Now that I have my own monies and a little something called Ebay, maybe I’ll grab another couple of these guys.

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It’s interesting to look at my old toys from a toy collector perspective. I never noticed until looking at these figures now that there was a wee bit of shared sculpting going on. The vests, the belt the pants, there’s a lot of similarities here with enough unique detail and paint to make it work wonderfully. At 9-years old I certainly never gave it a second thought. Of course, the Commander is smart enough to know that you’re less likely to be shot by wearing mostly white on an Ice Planet (they didn’t make him a Commander for nothing) while his poor Troopers in their tan vests are getting picked off by snipers left and right. In retrospect, I think it’s a bit odd that the Commander came with a backpack and the regular Trooper didn’t. Of course, Kenner remedied that with an accessory pack a little later on.

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While I probably didn’t give it much thought back in the day, I find the weapon choices for these two a bit odd. The Commander comes with the same carbine that Hoth Luke came with and the Rebel Trooper came with a pistol that would be recycled for many of the Bespin figures. It seems like the Troopers should have had the rifles and the handgun should have been given to the Commander. Of course, the flipside to that was Kenner giving the Snowtroopers giant rifles when they should have just had E-11 Blasters. There’s just no pleasing me, I guess.

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And that’s pretty much the extent of Kenner’s Hoth figures on the Rebel side. Yeah, they also did the other Medical Droid, RX-7, but sadly he wasn’t in the box. Maybe I’ll replace him later on down the road. Having this team of figures together again already has me on the hunt for one of the three Hoth Playsets because I’d really love to get these old friends up and on display somewhere. One thing’s for certain, getting this box of old figures has really kindled a fire under my somewhat misplaced love for Star Wars toys, so don’t be surprised to see more of it featured around here in the weeks ahead.

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Vintage Vault: Star Wars Hoth Rebels by Kenner, Part 2

It’s Saturday, It’s July, I’m in Florida and it’s a thousand degrees here. What better way to cool off than by looking at more Hoth figures? Today I’m going to check out some more shivering members of the Rebel Alliance as they try to hide out from the Empire on another one of those delightful sci-fi planets that can only support one climate zone. So bundle up and set your thermostat for Kenner Vintage Goodness! I don’t even know what that means. Let’s just look at the figures…

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Yesterday, I looked at Han and Luke and their trusty Tauntaun. Today we’re going to check out Princess Leia and my favorite medical droid, 2-1B. I was originally going to wrap this up today by looking at four figures, but I went long and had to cut it down to two. Gassing on about nostalgia will do that to me. We’re going to start with 2-1B because I have a bewilderingly strong attachment to this figure. Get your blankys and milky babas, kiddies, it’s story time!

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It was a fine day in 1981 (maybe 1982) and I went along with my Dad downtown to Bloomfield Ave in NJ to do some shopping. When we were done with what he had to do he relented to my endless pleading and we went to Big Apple Toys. BAT was a two-story independent toy store back at a time when such things still existed. It wasn’t a huge place. It was right there on the downtown drag alongside a pharmacy and other assorted other storefronts. Once inside, my eyes were immediately drawn to a set of figures from The Empire Strikes Back! They were fanned out in a glass display counter, which was usually reserved for a big Smurf Village setup. Now, I’m sure I caught one or two ESB figures on the pegs prior to then, but this was the first time I’d seen so many and all spread out like that. It was amazing. I pushed my nose up against the glass as the saliva pooled up in the corner of my mouth. I explained to my Dad between heaves of excitement what this find meant and he saw where it was going. He said he’d buy me one. Gah! I had to choose. Which one? Which one? Yup, I went for 21-f’cking-B!

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Now, this was an odd choice to be sure. Truth be told, as vivid as this memory is, I cannot place it in proper context. Had I seen the movie yet? I just don’t know. I’m guessing not, because if I had why the hell would I pick 21-B? Well, I was always a big fan of the droids and I loved the look of this guy from the moment I saw him. Those two factors alone were enough to make me pick him out. Of course, every new Star Wars figure I got automatically evolved into one of the most important characters at playtime. 21-B became a permanent resident of the Falcon so he was always on hand to patch up the gang when they needed it. And they needed it a lot, because my Stormtroopers could actually hit what they were shooting at from time to time.

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From the Left: POTF2; Original; 30th Anniversary Collection

I still love this figure, even though there have been arguably better versions since. For the time, he was a really good treatment of the um… character? Did we even see his legs in the movie? The cool thing about 2-1B is that he was like a real robot because there was no way it was a suit. He had real robot arms and that clear section in the middle that said, “look, it’s not a robot suit!” But I think the real reason I like this figure so much is because he still remains so unique. He has a hose coming out of his face and plugged into his side and that clear middle is like nothing on any Star Wars figure before or since. He even came with a medical poking stick, that I like to pretend was actually some kind of laser gun. 2-1B is just plain awesome and in retrospect I don’t know how he ever escaped my marauding Sheltie. His thin limbs and that hose were just the kind of thing that she liked to tear into pieces.

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And that brings us to Princess Leia in her Hoth Outfit. I also remember the day I got her. I picked her off one of the pegs because she was one of the last Hoth figures I needed. I can remember feeling slightly embarrassed for buying her because she was a girl. That was my 9-year old mentality and it’s that kind of memory that probably keeps most brand managers from making a lot of female figures these days. This Leia is a pretty refreshing figure to look back on because  nowadays female action figures are usually all tits and ass, but here was a female figure that wasn’t sexualized at all. She’s demure, she’s got a feminine color palate, and she’s got a hint of curves under all that cold weather padding, but in the end it’s just another figure of one of our intrepid Rebel heroes. Ok, she has a tiny bit of a tushie on her, but hey, those Kenner designers had to have some fun, amiright?

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Vintage Collection Leia Vs The Kenner Original

As with Luke and Han, I really love the detail on this figure. Her entire outfit has a quilted sculpt and she has her little rank or ID bar or whatever the hell that thing is on the left side of her chest. I don’t think it’s really worth talking about likenesses here, but they did do a nice job sculpting her hair. The paint on mine is a little rough in a few spots. One of her eyebrows is partially rubbed off. One of the nice things about some of the Hoth figures is when the paint rubbed on their boots it just looked like snow. It’s also worth mentioning that Hoth Leia came with a blaster, but sadly I don’t have it anymore.

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And that adds two more figures to this Kenner Hoth Retrospective, and I’m not done yet. Tomorrow I’ll be back to wrap this up with a look at the Hoth Rebel Commander and the Hoth Rebel Trooper!

Vintage Vault: Star Wars Hoth Rebels by Kenner, Part 1

While it hasn’t been opened since April of last year, The Vintage Vault used to be a regular facet of FFZ. The moniker generally denotes a feature where I drag out something from the 70’s or 80’s. Traditionally, a lot of the source material was fueled by my late night drunken Ebay antics and it’s proven to be a fun way to pad things out when I’m low on new receivings. Well, I’m not really low on new stuff to look at now, but I did recently get a box shipped up to me from my brother in NJ which contained some old friends, including a bunch of Kenner’s Star Wars figures. I had actually written this stuff off as lost when I made the move from NJ to Florida back in 1995. Looks like the boxes never made it onto the truck and they were safe and sound all along. I’m going to parse this stuff out a little at a time and today we’re starting out with some figures based on my favorite part of all of Star Wars: The Battle of Hoth! Let’s check out Luke Skywalker and Han Solo in their Hoth Outfits and the Tauntaun!

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Why do I dig The Battle of Hoth so much? Because Hoth is the only real example of a pitched ground battle that we get in the Original Trilogy. There are trenches and battlements, artillery and iconic vehicles. It’s all so exciting and gritty and awesome. Plus, Luke getting lost and Han going to rescue him is a wonderful device to establish what close friends these two characters had become since the end of A New Hope. It’s just great story telling. Hoth was also a pretty big step for the Kenner Star Wars line because it further established the practice of selling multiple versions of a single character just because they changed their clothes. Sure, we already had Luke and X-Wing Luke, but now we had Hoth Luke, Hoth Han, Hoth Leia, and it went on and on. It was a beautiful way to milk parents for more money by making them by the same characters over and over again.

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Han Solo in his Hoth outfit is probably one of the most iconic figures in the line for me. That’s an odd thing to say, since I had been collecting Star Wars figures since the original 12. Nonetheless, as a kid I played with this figure a lot and often he was my “go to” Han. I don’t remember why that was the case, but maybe it was because the dog ate my original Han figure. My Sheltie had an addiction to chewing on Star Wars figures and I used to drive my parents nuts by having to replace them because they were decapitated or mangled in some way.

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Needless to say, I love everything about this figure. It recreates Han’s rugged Hoth gear quite well from the quilting on the leggings to the pockets on the jacket. The BLUE jacket. BECAUSE HAN’S HOTH JACKET WA BLUE, RIGHT? The way they did the hood with the goggles sculpted on top of his helmet was really cool too. I especially loved the fact that his right arm slightly bent like the one on the original Han figure. Someone at Kenner understood that Han should be perpetually holding his gun like he’s about to shoot from the hip. That’s awesome.

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And for the love of God, he’s got a functional holster! It’s a 3 ¾” action figure from 1980 with a functional holster!!! Granted, it didn’t quite work the way it was supposed to, but hey, it definitely held his pistol and that was good enough for me. Ahh, Hoth Han Solo… I love ya, buddy. You were a big part of why a ridiculously disproportionate number of my play scenarios involved fighting Imperials on really cold planets.

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Moving on to Hoth Luke and holy crap, this is still one great looking figure. I never had the attachment to this version of Luke like I did Hoth Han, but looking at him now, it’s hard for me to understand why that was the case. There’s a lot of companies these days trying to release dumbed down sculpts and trying to mimic the “retro” style, but look at this figure and tell me that this sculpt isn’t packed with detail. He’s got all the quilting on his sleeves and jacket, the bands wrapping his boots, the binoculars around his neck and equipment on his belt. I also dig that his goggles are down around his neck to differentiate him a bit from Han. This figure is downright awesome! Hell, even the scaling is right, as Luke is a little shorter than Han.

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The one thing I never quite understood about Hoth Luke was his gun. Kenner gave him a sort of carbine, unlike anything he ever used in the movie. It didn’t bother me so much as a kid, because I liked that it had a strap and you could sling it across his shoulder. I also thought it odd that they didn’t give him a lightsaber, since he made such prominent and memorable use of it in the Wampa Cave. Speaking of Wampas, I was really hoping the Wampa figure was going to be in this box somewhere, but no such luck. Dammit, I’m going to have to go buy a Kenner Wampa on Ebay now, aren’t I?

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And then there’s the Tauntaun. I can remember getting this figure and freaking out over how cool it was. Admittedly, that seems kind of silly now, but steeds weren’t a common thing in the original Kenner Star Wars line. We had a Dewback, but we never got a Bantha. Besides, Han and Luke riding the Tauntauns is such an iconic image that you just had to have one for the figures. Besides, it’s still a really admirable sculpt and a great looking toy. Mine is the original solid belly version and of course he’s missing his bit and reins, but otherwise in fairly good condition. At one point, I owned two of these, but the damn dog chewed the hands and feet off of one. I used to lay it somewhere in my battlefield and pretend it was dead and rotting. I was a messed up kid.

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The Tauntaun makes use of the trapped door gimmick so that the limited articulation figures could still mount him. It’s the same design used for the old Dewback. The saddle features sculpted fake legs on the sides to give you the illusion that the figure is straddling the beast. It’s not terribly convincing, but who cares? The figures still look great riding this thing.

And, I’m way over my limit, so I’ve got to break here. I’m a harsh editor. Tomorrow I’ll be back and we’ll check out some more of Kenner’s Rebel Alliance dressed in snuggly warm clothes.

Vintage Vault Showcase: Bionic Six by LJN

I had every intention of doing a Bonus Feature for today, but instead I got deep into the Jameson last night and neglected my duties as a good host. Nonetheless, I did have some time this morning, while nursing a hangover, to snap some pictures of a particular Ebay haul that I am extremely happy about. I don’t usually do this kind of thing on FFZ, but we’ll see how it goes. It’s worth pointing out that I’ve looked at LJN’s Bionic Six line here before. Indeed, some of the figures you’ll see here have been reviewed in years gone by and I’ll be doing proper reviews of some of these items in the not-too distant future.

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The Ebay picture that caught my eye!

The Bionic Six was probably one of the last 80’s cartoons that I followed before getting “too old” to watch cartoons. Of course, 25 years later, I find that I’m now “old enough” to watch cartoons again. Anyway, Bionic Six was hokey and goofy but it was loads of fun and it had one of my all-time favorite openings of any cartoon ever. It is perhaps second only to the opening sequence of the now sadly forgotten Mighty Orbots cartoon. I’ve been hunting this collection for a while now and it’s been slow going. I pick up a figure here and there, I upgrade one, but this stuff is hard to find in good shape and at good prices. Well, last week an Ebay Lot went up that not only included beautiful examples of the entire Bennett clan, but the elusive vehicles as well. It was a terrible time for such a thing to show up, as I had already spent my toy budget for the week, but I dipped into my emergency fund and bid anyway. I never expected to get it, but in the end, after a slightly irritating bidding war, I got the collection for what I still think was a ridiculously good price.

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“We’re so very proud to be… A super future family!”

With bionics on, the Bennetts consisted of (from left to right) Sport-1, Rock-1, Bionic-1, Mother-1, I.Q., and Karate-1. They also had a robot gorilla named FLUFFI, but I haven’t picked up his figure yet. The entire Bionic Six were included in the lot, and I was able to mix and match with the figures I already had to put together a set with very nice paint. These figures were partly diecast metal and so paint chipping always came with the territory. Finding nice and minty versions of these figures could be a real bitch. I.Q. is missing his cowboy hat, but I don’t remember him ever wearing it in the cartoon, so I don’t miss it. On the other hand, I have no idea why he’s so huge compared to the other figures. I find that many of the accessories weren’t necessary, but Sport-1 has to have his bat and glove, and I have Rock-1’s shoulder speakers off to the side.

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Hail Scarab!!!

Of course every set of heroes needs bastards to fight. From left to right: Madam-O, Mechanic, Chopper, and Glove. Ironically, my Scarab team is still light one leader. I’ve had multiple opportunities to pick up Dr. Scarab, but the paint has never been satisfactory. He’s mostly white and every chip on that figure is painfully noiticeable. I may just have to break down and buy him carded to get one in acceptable condition. I’m also missing Klunk. Otherwise, I’m pretty happy with the paint on these guys and they all have their accessories.

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Eric, Bunji, and JD taking the Quadrunners for a spin!

The vehicles! The Bennett children used the Bionic Quadrunner and Bionic Dirt Bike to speed into battle. When I set out to collect these figures, I never thought I’d ever own any of the vehicles. They’re hard to come by in any condition. Ironically enough a few weeks ago I found a Quadrunner in mint condition for a very fair Buy It Now price and scooped it up.  A second one came with this Lot, which is a tad played with, but still in great condition. I’m happy to have two because I can store one in the MULES van and keep the other out on display.

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“The Bionic Dirt Bike is So-LAR!!!”

The Dirt Bike is a real tough one to find. Even tougher than the Quads. In fact, the one in this lot is the only time I’ve ever seen one outside of a Toy Show. This one is in great condition. Bright paint, minty chrome, and the springs work perfectly to convert it to attack mode.

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And then there’s the MULES van. Mobile Uitility Energizing Station. Talk about tough to find, this is a toy I never, ever expected to own just because it would always be more than I would be willing to pay for it. Also, it’s got a lot of stickers and some rather flimsy moving parts, and those two things are never a good combination in vintage toys. Like the Dirt Bike, I’ve only ever seen the MULES van for sale once before. It was boxed at the same Toy Show and the asking price was $450. I suppose part of me thought that if I did own the van it would be a beater just to use as a place holder to say I had one. But this one is in remarkably good condition. It’s complete and everything works. There’s some sticker wear, most of which can be fixed with a little glue, and there’s just some minor scratching on the windshields. I can’t imagine ever needing to upgrade this beauty to a better one.

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This beast is big enough to hold two figures in the cockpit and both of the vehicles. The Dirt Bike drives up into the back and it can launch out the top and roll right down the front of the van and into action. The Quadrunner stores inside the front and launches by splitting the cab open and shooting it out the front.

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Bionics… ON!

After spending so much time hunting and pecking at this collection, it’s hard to believe how much of it I completed in just one bold strike. It’s really encouraged me to pick up the last three figures I need. Of course, there are still some additional pieces, like Scarab’s Throne and let’s not forget the Bennett’s Headquarters playset. I’m tempted to say that I’ll never have that thing in my collection, but if this Lot has taught me anything… you never know!

Now, I think I’m going to cue up some episodes of Bionic Six and play with my toys!

Vintage Vault: Sectaurs Prince Dargon by Coleco

It’s been a while since I did a Vintage Vault, but a trip to an estate sale last week netted me some good VV material with Sectaurs’ Prince Dargon, the leader of The Warriors of Symbion. He’s one of the few figures in this line that I still needed to add to my collection. Dargon was available in two versions. You could get him boxed with his mighty Dragonflyer steed, or you could get “Night Fighter” Dargon with his little bug buddy Parafly. The figures each had their own unique paint scheme and gear. Night Fighter Dargon was ironically painted silver, which means the one we’re looking at today is the one that came with Dragonflyer. I searched that whole damn house for Dragonflyer, but the people running the sale insisted that all the toys were in the one bin, and apart from an accessory-less Zak and Mantor there was nothing else from the Sectaurs. Loose, Dragonflyer is notoriously difficult to find with his wings still intact, so I’m probably going to have to break down and buy a MISB one someday which will give me doubles of Dargon. Curses!

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I’ve gone on and on in the past about how much I love the aesthetics of this line. Look at him… he’s gorgeous! Most people who remember Sectaurs at all remember them for the super imaginative bug rider puppets or for having one of the biggest playsets of all time, but I think the figures stand just fine on their own. The big eyes and the antenna are just so damn distinctive and even the good guys look creepy. Dargon also looks seriously pissed off, like maybe Pinsor ate the last donut and he’s about to rip his antenna right off his head. I also dig how the yellow paint for his hair is so fresh even after all these years.

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The body sculpt is pretty similar on most of the good guys, but the flared shoulders and chiseled muscles in the armor look good, especially when accompanied by the cool glossy paint. Dargon is special because he has an amulet sculpted into his chest. I’ve never actually seen much of the cartoon and while I’ve read a bunch of the comics, I don’t remember any mention of the amulet. Maybe it’s the bug-guy equivalent of The Matrix of Leadership. The sculpted panel lines on his gauntlets and boots really impress the hell out of me. Alas, the stylish red striping on the front of my Dargon’s legs is a bit miffed, but nothing too bad. Hey, it’s tough to go into battle and keep your pants clean.

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One of my favorite things about the Sectaurs has always been accessories, but it can also be one of the more frustrating things about collecting them. The figures themselves are quite common and often reasonably priced, but a lot of the ones I see only come with a fraction of their gear, or none at all. I thought I hit the jackpot with this Dargon, but I do believe he’s still missing something. I seem to remember him coming with another sword or rifle. He does have his removable belt, which includes two functional holsters for his twin vengun pistols. He also has his double-edged broadsword and shield. Like Masters of the Universe, I’m always a sucker for fantasy that mixes tech with swords, so I love the fact that Dargon comes with both. The guns and sword feature very detailed sculpts.

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When it comes to articulation, you always know what you’re getting with the Sectaurs, and it ain’t at all bad. The head turns, the arms are ball jointed at the shoulders, the legs are ball jointed at the hips, and he has hinged knees.

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Dargon was two bucks and that’s why I love estate sales. Sure, I had to get up at 6am to get a ticket and then spent an hour eating a terrible breakfast at Denny’s and screwing around on my Kindle to kill time until it opened. But hey… Sectaur figure for two dollars! I was lucky that even after being tossed into a bin with a bunch of Barbies and MOTU figures that he had his pistols in his holsters and was still clutching onto his sword and shield. The odds of that were pretty slim. He’s an important figure and I’m glad to have him on my shelf. Unfortunately, every time I get a new Sectuars figure, I start jonesing to hunt down accessories or more complete figures on Ebay and I’ve managed to be Ebay Free for almost a month now.

 

Vintage Vault: Bionic Six Madame-O by LJN

Sigma Six. Bionic Six. Coincidence? Yes, actually it is. I’m not doing any kind of thing with sixes this week. It’s just that I realized it’s been about five months since “Vintage Vault” was a regular feature around these parts. And since then I’ve only done it two times. Sadly, I’m not prepared to bring it back regularly yet, but I did find some goodies and today we’ll look at one of them for this week of Toy Closet Finds. Who’s my favorite femme fatale from Bionic Six? Why it’s Madame-O, daaahling!


And there’s the Bionic Six packaging in all its misspent glory and questionable design. Seriously, LJN, what were you thinking? The cartoon was so beautifully drawn and animated, particularly the intro, and this psychedelic B&W pattern and second-rate character art was the best you can do? Shame on you! On the plus side, with cardbacks this ugly, I don’t care about tearing them open. The back panel shows off every figure the line had to offer. There were a couple of vehicles and a playset too, but they’re not pictured. I’d take this opportunity to offer that Madame-O was another one of those cartoon characters that I had a crush on as a kid, but then I wasn’t quite a kid anymore when this cartoon first aired, so let’s just forget I said anything about it. Awkward!


Some of LJN’s Bionic Six figures were pretty faithful to their animated counterparts, but unfortunately Madame O isn’t one of those examples. I mean… woof! Just check out her head! The hair and the goggles and the mask are all vaguely correct, but Madame-O was all about her alluring eyes and, well how do I put this? THE FIGURE HAS NO EYES!!! In fact, it looks like her face is just one big blank. I can’t help but hope someone in the LJN factories at some point held one of these packaged figures looked at the figure and then across at the character art and wondered how they could have messed up so badly. How hard was it to just paint a couple of eyes on there? Even if they didn’t look like her line art, at least she’d have eyes!

The rest of the figure is actually decent enough. She sports her pink track suit with Scarab insignia on her chest, yellow belt, and her one black boot betrays her obvious hatred for symmetry. She hates symmetry, daaahling!

If you’ve read any of my past Bionic Six features, then you know I’m not a big fan of the die-cast parts in these figures. And I’m particularly not fond of it being used on the Scarab figures. There’s no reason for parts of Madame-O to be metal. She wasn’t bionic. I imagine LJN kept it in all the figures as a bit of a running gimmick and to add some consistency, but die-cast is hard to paint well and it chips too easily. That having been said, Madame-O here has the best looking paint of any of the B6 figures in my collection, and virtually all of them came new and in the package. Her coloring is nice and bright and there’s no chipping at all.


Madame-O comes with a clip-on jetpack and a gun, but I seem to remember that in the cartoon she had a trademark lute or harp or something so she could trade destructive notes with Rock-1. Ah, screw it, these are cool accessories. I’m not going to complain about her not coming with a harp when she doesn’t even have any goddamn eyes.

Jeez, this is a frustrating line of action figures. I collect them because I enjoy the cartoon so much and because they’re all that’s available. As already mentioned, I was a little bit beyond playing with action figures at the time this cartoon and toy line came out, so maybe I’m just not being blinded by the same nostalgia as I am other 80’s toy lines. Either way, they just do not hold up well, and I find myself wanting better. If I had one toy-related wish, I might very well spend it on a full set of these figures recreated in the DCUC style. Well, either that or Kidd Video toys. I always wanted me some Kidd Video toys.

Vintage Vault: Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back: Bounty Hunters! by Kenner

“Bounty Hunters? We don’t need their scum!”

Well, apparently, I do, because against all reason and sanity, I bought a heap of vintage Kenner Bounty Hunters. It’s been about four years since I kicked the Star Wars habit. Oh, sure I’ve picked up a figure here and there, a vehicle now and then, but they were exceptions. And just because I’ve been pulling some of my left over POTF2 stuff out of storage and maybe buying some of the ones I’m missing to fill out my collection, it’s not like I was going to go back and start buying the vintage stuff again. And then this happened.

This dude at the Toy Show had one serious collection of vintage Star Wars figures laid out on his tables. All of them were in Ziploc bags with index cards saying what they were, and it seemed like all of them were in great shape and complete. He had them all neatly fanned out across two 6ft banquet tables. I think it was the mere spectacle that brought me over and started looking. I picked up a Zuckuss, (or 4-LOM, as Kenner called him) and checked him out. He was in pretty good shape, just a little bald spot on his left sleeve, and he had his distinctive weapon. I flipped him over and saw he was marked $7. Obviously, I’m not up on Kenner Star Wars prices, but it seemed like a good deal to me, or at least it would be for someone looking to buy a vintage 4-LOM.  I most certainly was not.

“Hong Kong. 1980. He’s seven bucks” the guy said, as I was looking at him. “You need any of the other Bounty Hunters?” He was grabbing other baggied figures and putting them in front of me. “You can take all five for $25. They’re all complete. The only one not in there is Boba Fett, I’m all out of The Mr. Fett!” (Yes, he said “The Mr. Fett!” …I liked this guy.) Before I knew what was happening I had Bossk, IG-88, Zuckuss, 4-LOM, and Dengar all in my hands, and I was giving the guy $25. It was like an out of body experience. In a few minutes, I had destroyed four years of abstinence.

It’s a self-contained little sub-group, I told myself. I mean, sure now I’m going to have to track down a Boba Fett to go with them, but that’s it. I have a nice little band of vintage Bounty Hunters to stand on my shelf. But then I’ve already thought about picking up a set of vintage figures to display on my Tattooine Skiff. So at this point, anything is possible.

I’m not going to say my piece about each individual figure here today. I’m saving that for when I can take the time to do some proper comparisons between the vintage figures and the ones that have come since, and quite frankly that’s likely to be a week all to itself.

So there you go. Was it a momentary lapse of reason? Well, I’d love to say I regret buying them. I’d love to say that I got home and dropped them into a tote to forget about them because they don’t fit anywhere in my collection. Instead, they landed on my desk, and that’s where they still remain. No, I won’t lie; it’s a hoot having these guys lined up beside my computer. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen any of them in person and I thought they’d look dated and primitive, but they don’t. They look great, represent a huge part of my childhood, and I’m actually amazed at how well they hold up.

Tomorrow we’ll keep the vintage ball rolling with a quick look at a piece of G1 Transformers goodness…

Goodbye, Vintage Vault Friday!

Several months ago, I started making Vintage Vault a regular scheduled update because, a) I was sorting through tubs and had a lot of my old stuff available, and b) There was absolutely nothing new coming in for me to look at. Well, it’s been a fun ride and it’s served its purpose, I’ve been through most of the M.A.S.K., Sectaurs, and AD&D stuff that I have in storage and now there’s a lot of new stuff coming in on a regular basis. Those of you who enjoyed it will be happy to know it’ll still be popping up from time to time, and I can always bring it back as a regular when I need it again. Those of you who didn’t give a shit will be happy to know I’m putting it back on the shelf.

I was actually going to try to get one more in today, but then the UPS guy dropped the Perfect Storm of stuff off on my stoop and I figured I should get started before I get buried.

And, yes… I will be back a little later on with some actual content.

Vintage Vault: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Young Male Titan by LJN

We’ve come to the last of the AD&D figures in my collection, or at least those that I can put my hands on at the moment. I know there are some more in one of those scary, unsorted tubs in the back of one of my closets, but until I get the ambition to start digging through it, this may be the last time we see AD&D on VV for a little while. In fact Vintage Vault may be going on hiatus for a bit, but that’s a topic and a decision for next week. Today we’re looking at the last of the three Giants figures in LJN’s AD&D line: The Young Male Titan. I’ve got no in package shot of this guy, so let’s just dig right in.

There’s definitely a Grecco-Roman vibe going on with this guy. He’s wearing a yellow chestplate, yellow skirt, yellow grieves and arm bracers, and sandals. Yellow may seem like an odd choice, but I’m not going to pick on the coloring here, since this line was all about bright coloring and the fact that YMT is pretty color coordinated, I think it works ok. The paint work isn’t too bad either.

I’m not so crazy about the head sculpt on this guy, as it looks like he’s taken a few too many whacks in the head. It’s not so much that he’s ugly (although he kind of is), but it literally looks like part of his head is partially caved in. Let’s just say he looks odd and leave it at that. The sculpting on the figure’s body is passable. He has some well-defined muscles and a little shallow scrollwork sculpted into his armor.

The articulation is the same as the other giants in the line. He has ball jointed shoulders and hips and his head turns. Unfortunately, the hip joints on my figure have really seen better days. Unless he’s standing with his legs perfectly straight, his legs collapse under the weight of the figure and he winds up doing the splits… ouch!

YMT follows the same accessories formula as the other giants, Northlord Barbarian and Ogre King. He has a detachable belt with a loop for one of his weapons, he has a removable helmet, a shield, and two weapons, in this case a spear and a sword. I really dig the helmet’s Greek style complete with red bristle comb and it fits the figure pretty well. The silver on the face guard is a little chipped on mine, but it still looks good. The shield is really ornate with a raised yellow lion head above an eye circled by laurel branches. The sword is leaf bladed with a yellow painted hilt and the spear is pretty straightforward.

Digging out a lot of my AD&D figures was a whole heap of fun. It really caused the nostalgia to come at me in waves, but oddly enough I’m not feeling it so much with this guy. It’s strange because I really loved this figure as a kid, but looking at him now he’s just a little bland and a whole lot of ugly. I still dig all the gear he comes with, but he doesn’t hold up as well as the Northlord Barbarian did when I first got him out of storage. Not to rag on Young Male Titan too badly. He’s still a solid enough figure and a great addition to any AD&D line, but the magic just isn’t here anymore.

Vintage Vault: Bionic Six Helen Bennett (“Mother-1”) by LJN

Yes, we’ve come back to the Bionic Six here on FigureFan and I thought it was long past time we took a look at one of the good guys for a change, or in this case, one of the good girls. It’s the matriarch of this super-human family, Helen Bennett, better known as Mother-1 when her bionics are turned on.

I’ve said my piece about these cards. I still hate the whole black and white geometric pattern, and oh god, how I hate the character art on this particular card. I’ve already mentioned that the art for Glove and Mechanic were passable but a little off, but Helen’s is just terrible. Seriously, couldn’t LJN have just used a screen grab from the cartoon? Sure you can tell who it’s supposed to be, and I like the pose with her activating her bionics, but it still looks like hack fan art to me. The figure comes incased in a coffin-style bubble with a compartment above the figure for the accessory. I should mention here that I really hate the fact that LJN went with using the Bennett’s first names on the front of the card. She was Helen Bennett in her civies… this figure is Mother-1 and should have been named as such. The back of the card shows all the figures you can get in the line and has a little blurb about the Bennett’s backstory.

So, this is kind of the first figure in which the whole die-cast metal and translucent plastic gimmick sort of makes sense. The Bennett’s are part cybernetic so let’s make parts of the figure out of die-cast and have some translucent. I could argue the logic and the pitfalls behind the concept, but I do get what they were going for here. Helen is one of those figures where the die-cast doesn’t hurt it too much. Helen’s head sculpt is ok. I’m fine with the face, but the sculpted hair is all wrong. You just need to look at the figure and look at the character art to see that. For the most part, Helen had long hair and the figure’s got a soccer mom cut. Surprisingly, this inconsistency isn’t a deal breaker for me.

The body sculpt is pretty simple, as this figure mostly makes use of paintwork to distinguish the uniform. Ironically, the biggest problem with this figure isn’t the use of die-cast, but rather the unsightly seams that run down the fronts of her plastic upper legs. They’re an eyesore. I’m also not terribly thrilled with the clear plastic on her legs. It just doesn’t mesh with her animated, on-screen counterpart.

And then there’s the paintwork. I’ve already mentioned how spotty some of the paint on these figures can be. My Mother-1 is straight out of the package and still looks like she’s been kicked around the playground a couple of times. The yellow paint that borders on her translucent plastic legs is really rough and probably has a lot to do with why I don’t like these clear parts. There are a few other spots of slop and chipping around the figure and the bevy of exposed screws on the back of the figure don’t help the aesthetics either.

You get the same level of articulation as the other Bionic Six figures. The head rotates, the arms are ball jointed at the shoulders and hinged at the elbows, the legs are ball jointed at the hips and hinged at the knees. Mother-1 is not the most poseable of figures, but she’s not all that shabby considering the time she was released.

Helen comes with one accessory. It’s a soft plastic backpack that rests on her shoulders and straps around her waist. It’s all cast in blue plastic and it’s a decent enough piece for what it is, but it’s also completely unnecessary. I don’t recall Mother-1 having any such backpack in the show, and I prefer to display the figure without it. Still, I never get too upset about anything I can toss into a bin and forget about. So long as it’s an optional accessory, I can toss it into a bin and forget about it.

Helen is a decent figure. It’s easy to nitpick given the scale, the decision to go with die-cast, and the age of the figure. The mismatched hair style is my biggest stumbling block, but she’s a nice, colorful figure despite some hiccups in the paint. In the end, she’s sort of a frustrating figure. She’s just cool enough to get by, but she really makes me want a better executed figure of the character. But as we’ll see again and again that’s par for the course with a lot of the figures in this line.