Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Bebop & Rocksteady Halloween Costumes

Vinyl Halloween costumes based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles characters. By Collegeville, copyright 1990. Quite interestingly, these are not based on the cartoon designs, but rather on the original Playmates action figures. Notice the direct adaptation of the figures' packaging artwork on these jumpsuits.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Addams Family ring figures

From this point on, you can expect a lot of short, quick posts from this blog. This is due partly to the fact that I have a ton of things to cover, and if I write about all of them extensively, I won't be able to get as much content out. Also, frankly, there just isn't as much to say about some pieces. However, I will still be doing long entries on my favorite items as well as as those with an interesting or significant history.

These Addams Family figures are from 1964, when the original show was at the height of its popularity. They stand approximately 1" high, with a hole in the back of each where they were once attached to cheap plastic rings. These were capsule toys, like the ones you can find in the vending machines at your local grocery store. They also came in several different colors.

Popeye Dolls by Presents, pt. 2

As promised, here is the second half of the Popeye set. Poopdeck Pappy seems to be one of the less common dolls. Appropriately, he is almost a perfect doppelganger of Popeye. The rubber pieces even use the same mold. Despite the fact that Pappy is usually portrayed as little more than Popeye with a white beard, this doll goes beyond that by giving him a unique color scheme, right down to the pipe. Like Popeye's, it also has a cotton puff of "smoke" inside. Neat, eh?

I'd like to state for the record that Pappy has the most realistic flocked beard I've ever seen. It's not just fuzzy, it honestly looks and feels like a real beard. His tag reads:

"Poopdeck Pappy, Popeye’s father, is an irascible old goat with a total lack of respect for women, law, relations, and honesty. Unscrupulous Pappy is always stirring up trouble, especially with Olive Oyl. He’s even spent time in the slammer – and enjoyed it!"

Wimpy's bio just might be my favorite.

"Born in a hamburger joint on Ocean Park Pier in California 34 years ago, Wimpy has done for the lowly hamburger what no one else has ever done. Statistically speaking, Wimpy weighs in at about 300 hamburgers heavy and stands about 26 hamburgers high. A jumbo hamburger is about the size of his hat. With a tummy of unlimited capacity, his waist is 18 hamburgers round. With his twenty-four college degrees and lofty IQ of 326, he has achieved much success in his chosen profession of mooching the burger."

See that guy on the left? That's Bluto, right? Not quite. Actually it's Brutus. What's the difference, you ask? Just check out the picture on the right.

"Born in Hollywood, California, Brutus is 36, stands 6’8” tall and weighs 372 pounds. This monstrous villain’s neck is 22” around and supports an empty head (he’s just plain stupid) and a glass jaw. After years of being flattened by Popeye’s fist and a few single punches from Olive and Swee’ Pea, the bearded giant Brutus still competes for the love of fair olive and continues his record of losing fights to Popeye on a regular basis."

The Sea Hag is arguably the rarest of the set. Though it's hard to tell from the picture, she even has red and white striped witch stockings. Thus far, I have yet to see Sea Hag, Pappy, or the Jeep in the smaller set. That's not to say that they don't exist, though, and if anyone has proof of them, I'd love to see!

"Sea Hag is the last true with on earth and is Popeye’s No. 1 enemy. The Sea Hag – with her pet vulture Bernard – devotes her life to attempting to destroy Popeye and bringing piracy back to the high seas. In the conflict she has all the advantages – her magic, her evil nature, and Bernard, but Right triumphs over Wrong every time!"

That concludes this outstanding line of Popeye dolls. If you ask me, there's only one thing wrong with it: they never made Alice the Goon. Look for more Popeye stuff here in the future.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Popeye Dolls by Presents, pt. 1

These have always been some of my favorites, and arguably some of the nicest Popeye collectibles to date. Presents, a division of Hamilton Gifts, put out a good variety of Popeye products in 1985, including handpuppets and some very well produced dolls. The dolls were released in two different sizes, with the ones in the second set being about six inches shorter. This is the larger set.

If this Popeye doll seems oddly familiar, it may be because he, along with Bluto, were featured prominently in Joey Gladstone's room on the set of the television show Full House. What's striking about these dolls is how incredibly detailed they are. Except for the Jeep, each one has a soft rubber head, arms, and feet. Many of the characters even have fuzzy, flocked shoes. At least one of the dolls, Popeye, is known to exist in a musical variety which plays the Sailor's Hornpipe.

My favorite part of these might just be the short biographies in the tags, which provide astonishingly in-depth backgrounds. Among other things, they reveal the characters' heights and ages. Popeye's, for instance, reads:

"Born in a typhoon off Santa Monica, California 34 years ago, Popeye, the spinach eating sailor, is an All-American hero. He is 5'6" tall and weighs 158 lbs. His biceps and thighs each measure 7", while his forearms and calves are 20" each. When his chest expands from 30" to 60", his spinach capacity is 36 tons. This helps a lot when he's call upon to save his damsel in distress, Olive Oyl."

Speaking of Olive Oyl, her tag goes as follows:

"Olive genuinely loves Popeye, but occasionally her independent thinking and overactive imagination get her into more dilemmas than she can handle. She is Popeye's "sweet patootie," a 101% woman - minus the curves. Born in New York City 29 years ago, she's 5' 10 7/8" tall and weighs 96 lbs. 3 oz. Her measurements are 19"- 19" - 19" and she wears size 14AAAAA shoes."

Shockingly, you can feel that Swee' Pea has legs inside his red suit. It isn't removable, but what a clever touch!

"Swee' Pea is Popeye's "kid" son. He's a feisty little rascal with a nose for trouble. He would rather eat ice cream, but Popeye keeps him healthy on a diet of spinach. His greatest ambition in life is to need a haircut."

Eugene the Jeep has the distinction of being the only entirely plush toy of the set. Unfortunately, his tag has been destroyed. Next to the Sea Hag, he seems to be the toughest to find.

Soon, I will post the second half of this set, which includes Bluto, Wimpy, the Sea Hag, and Poopdeck Pappy!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Super Mario Bros.: The Great Mission to Rescue Princess Peach VHS

While technically not a toy, this item is a real treasure and a great piece of history. Super Mario Bros.:The Great Mission to Rescue Princess Peach was a theatrical film produced by Grouper Productions (of Hello Kitty fame) and released in Japan on July 20, 1986. It very loosely follows the story of the original Super Mario Bros. game for the Nintendo Entertainment System, but due to the fact that the movie and game were in development simultaneously yet separately, there are quite a few differences in the way the familiar characters are portrayed.

What makes this tape special is the fact that it is currently one of the only examples known to exist. For reasons unknown, this film was never commercially available. It was released in Japan by Vap Video as a rental only, and in very limited quantities at that.

For many years, this film was a thing of legend, with debate on whether or not it actually existed. Little by little, information about it began to appear on the internet, presumably from one of the film's other owners. For a while, the image to the right (from the back of the VHS case) was the only shred of proof we had of it. Interestingly enough, the common belief for quite some time was that the film was not official, but actually an X-rated parody! This may be due to the fact that thus far in the United States, Nintendo has yet to acknowledge its existence.

A while back, I set out on a personal quest to track this video down, and as of now, I know of only a very small handful of collectors who own a legitimate copy. Three of those copies have appeared on auction sites, once in Japan for $180, then on eBay twice, fetching $600 and $350.

How can a film based on one of its home country's largest cultural phenomenons and released only twenty-some years ago be so easily lost to obscurity? That's only part of the mystery surrounding this unusual movie.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Disney Chalkware Figures

Chalkware figures were cast in gypsum and given out as carnival game prizes. These became popular in the great depression and lasted well into the 1940s, when they were eventually replaced by stuffed animals. Often, these prizes were shockingly offensive by todays standards; nudes, ethnic stereotypes, and even Klansmen are common examples. However, celebrities and cartoon characters were among the most popular choices.

Today, I am presenting the three Disney ones in my collection: two variations of Donald and a Pinocchio. These figures are around 14" tall, unmarked and presumably unlicensed. They are believed to have come from the late '30s, and in Pinocchio's case, the early '40s. As you can probably gather from the images, most of these figures were made as cheaply as possible. Although poorly cast and painted in a slapdash manner, they have held up well over the years. There is glitter on the bowties of Pinocchio and the green-shirted Donald, but they didn't bother to paint Pinocchio's back!

In addition to other a few other popular characters of the time such as Popeye, several other chalkware Disney characters are known to exist. The other most common ones are probably from the film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. If anyone out there has any more photos or information on these, I would love to see!