Archive for the Toys Category

Recently I spent a few days sorting my giant tub of LEGO bricks by color into smaller containers. During this process I ran across several things that weren’t actually LEGO. Here are three of those things, along with a bonus photo at the end.

01. EDUCATIONAL BUILDING BRICKS

One of the first things I found mixed in with my LEGO bricks which was not a LEGO was this big, plastic block. It took me a while to find the name of these building bricks on Google, which turned out to literally be “Building Bricks.”

I can’t remember if I had these at home or not, but I do remember playing with these in my grandma’s living room floor. The picture I found online shows red blocks with white windows and doors and green roof tiles. I am sure I did not have the green pieces, and the ones I played with had both red and white blocks. My strongest memory of these involves building houses for my Star Wars figures and garages for my Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars.

02. GIRDER AND PANEL BUILDING SET

Another obviously named toy were these blue (and black) girders that came with little plastic panels, called “Girder and Panel Building Sets.”

There were only two types of girders: horizontal and vertical. The plastic panels had small holes centered in the top of them that allowed them to be attached to any horizontal girder. These toys seem to have been around for a long time. The ones pictured above were made by Kenner in the mid-50s, although the line was brought back from 1974-1979, which is where these girders came from. While researching these I found this page that covers the history of these toys, which are still being made today and are available on Amazon.

03. TENTE

TENTE was a competitor to LEGO, which was in business from 1972 to 1993. Although they looked similar to LEGO bricks, they were not compatible and could not be connected. All the TENTE kits I remember owning were boats for some reason.

You can see both of the pieces I found attached to the ship above. If you take a close look at that ship, TENTE was actually pretty cool. Check out that radar dish mounted ot the top and the helicopter on the rear of the shop parked on the helipad!

BONUS: BUSTED LEGOS

Down in the bottom of the tub I found these three LEGO bricks. The small 1×2 one was chewed to bits, either by a dog or a kid. The flat 2×4 is broken, which is nearly impossible to do. I don’t remember this happening. My favorite is the pink homemade computer LEGO. I definitely did not do this and it must have come from one of the collections I picked up from a garage sale, but man did that make me laugh. How desperate that kid must have been to have a pink computer!

Most people who know me I collect Star Wars “stuff.” Any time my mom or Pat Deckard or Cathy Martin see a Star Wars item at a garage sale, thrift store or antique mall, they immediately think of me. Today’s inside tip came from our friend Jacquie Gappa, who let me know that her ex-brother-in-law (I think I got that right) was selling off a big chunk of his Star Wars collection.

She was right. I came home with this:

As I began moving the items into my house I began mentally sorting them into different categories.

I bought the Wicket the Ewok phone and the Chewbacca Bandolier Strap because they were the only two vintage things I saw at the garage sale that I didn’t have. That was easy.

Some of the things, I bought because they’ll help me complete the set. I bought the Mr. Potato Head “Spud Trooper” because I already have “Darth Tater.” I bought the Christmas themed C-3P0 because I have the Jawa one. I bought the 3P0 and Skiff Lando Applause figures because, even though I don’t care for those toys, I already have a bunch of them and those are two I don’t have.

Some of the things, I bought because where on earth am I going to see them again? I’m sure all those Star Wars-themed TV Guides and unused Taco Bell and KFC “Kid’s Meal” boxes aren’t terribly rare, but I’ve never run across them at a sale before and, for a quarter each… why not?

A couple of the items, like the 12″ Boba fett and 12″ Snow Trooper, I bought to open. I already have boxed ones, but I’d kind of like to open them and see what they’re like. So I’ll open these.

The rest of the stuff I bought because it was a good deal and I didn’t have it.

I recently updated my photo gallery to show off my current Star Wars collection. If you haven’t already, check it out. I’ll have to update it soon to reflect all the things I bought today!

You could say I’ve been collecting “Star Wars stuff” my entire life. Some of the oldest toys and action figures in my collection are the ones I got Christmas morning, 1978. Throughout the 80s I acquired a lot of stuff, and in the mid-90s when Star Wars was re-released in theaters and they began making new toys, I began collecting those as well. But it wasn’t until the late 90s that I began collecting vintage toys. Up until that point in time, other than a few things friends had gifted me, my collection of vintage toys consisted of the vintage toys I owned as a child.

The main reason I hadn’t added many vintage toys to my collection back then was that they were difficult to find. Occasionally you would run across a loose figure or ship at a flea market or garage sale, but it wasn’t until the advent of the world wide web (and specifically, eBay) that finding vintage toys for sale became easy.

According to my account, I signed up for eBay in June of 1998, and one of the first things I bought was a vintage Star Wars Landspeeder in the box. This one:

I paid $25 for it (not a bad price) from a local seller, and actually picked it up instead of having it mailed to me. That picture is from the house before the house before the one I live in now. We moved into the house before this one in 2002, so that picture’s at least 12 years old. That Landspeeder prompted me to “go retro” and beginning filling holes in my original collection.

And now, I can’t find it.

The first and most logical place I looked was in “the Star Wars room,” where all (or most) of my Star Wars things are. It’s not there. The next place I looked was in the couple of yet-to-be-displayed 30 gallon tubs with Star Wars toys in them out in the garage. It’s not there, either. There was a time when I had dozens of tubs and boxes full of storage items, but the size of our current house has afforded me the luxury of unpacking almost everything and labeling the few storage tubs I still have out in the garage.

It’s gone.

Whenever I lose my keys, or my work badge, or my coat, or my Sam’s Club card (all of which happen regularly), I retrace my steps. I was here, I did this, I drove that car, I sat here… and eventually, things show up. Unfortunately, the last time I can say for sure I remember seeing thing thing was 12 years ago. When we moved from “the house before the last house” to “the last house,” Mason was less than a year old. Based on some good advice from a friend, I boxed up my Star Wars collection and stored it away until the kids were old enough to know the difference between “toys we play with” and “toys we don’t open.” Other than my loose figures, the majority of my collection remained boxed up at the last house (from 2002-2011), and I really didn’t get my Star Wars display set up here at the new house until 2012, meaning I haven’t thought about the whereabouts of this thing for over a decade.

A few other things from my collection are also missing, which leads me to believe a box of Star Wars stuff went missing at some point. Did it get lost at the last move? Did it get lost at the move before the last move? Hard to say. During our last move, we used a storage unit for several months. Did it get left there? I just don’t know.

If there’s an upside to this story it’s that this isn’t my original landspeeder. That one — the one I got for Christmas in 1978 — is sitting right here beside me. It’s open (just the way Santa delivered it to me) and shows a few scuffs here and there from being played with (just the way I like it).

I came up with this idea a month or two ago and it’s been rattling around in the back of my head ever since.

Hey, look who’s up there rappelling off of the loft down into our living room — it’s G.I.Joe*!

(It’s not really G.I.Joe. Or maybe it is. It’s three random military figures I bought at Vintage Stock for a couple bucks each. The two guys standing above were $1 for 2 and came from Family Dollar.)

Morgan was my partner in crime on this project. She and I poked three holes into a small piece of cardboard and ran black yarn through the holes, tying knots in the end of the yard and securing the ends with pieces of tape. With that done we wrapped the other end around our rappelling soldiers and dropped them over the edge. Whee! The two “guards” standing at the top are standing on small, rolled loops of tape.

My guess is that this particular display piece will remain in place until either Susan or the cat removes them. We’ve already found one of the two guards down (“Medic!”), an apparent victim of a random cat attack. We’ll see how the others fare over time.

There’s an unspoken rule around these here parts — you don’t shop for yourself right before your birthday. Actually it’s not an unspoken rule, it’s a spoken one. The only exceptions I make is when I’m buying things that nobody else in the world would ever buy me, and I’m guessing vintage Star Wars figures apply. When I got home from work today I found THESE in the mailbox!

I would like to note that for some of these I got free shipping and on some of them I paid $6 shipping. They all arrived at the same time. Anyway. Gimmie gimmie gimmie! In the first package I found … a JAWA!

I actually need two or three Jawas for a little display I have planned, but for right now, one Jawa is better than none. Up next was… Removable Limbs C-3P0!

Complete with the little plastic harness that Chewie carried him around in after he was blown to bits inside Bespin. In package number three I found… the Black Bespin Security Guard!

There you have it, three figures in a single day. I might as well throw this picture in for good measure:

(The fourth package contained a non-Star Wars figure that I’ll be showing off later this week.)

I spent a few minutes rooting around on eBay last night, looking up the remaining figures I need and what they are currently going for on eBay.

Amanaman – $100
AT-ST Driver – $5
Barada – $50
EV-9D9 (Brown, Jabba Robot) – $100
Han Solo (In Carbonite Chamber) – $50
Imperial Dignitary – $50?
Lando Calrissian (General’s Pilot) – $50
Luke Skywalker in Battle Poncho – $50
Luke Skywalker in Stormtrooper Outfit – $75
Lumat Ewok, Light, Bow/Arrow – $25
Paploo Ewok, Dk. Brown, Lt. Headress – $20
Princess Leia Organa in Hoth Outfit – $5
Princess Leia Organa (In Combat Poncho) – $5
R2-D2 with Pop-up Lightsaber – $75
R2-D2 with Sensorscope – $20
Romba Ewok, Dk. Brown, Dk. Headress – $50
Teebo Ewok, Grey Striped – $5-$10
Warok Ewok – $50-$75
Yak Face – $200+

Any of the ones that are $50 or more I’m going to have a real hard time justifying. Maybe I’ll get lucky and find some of them cheap.

Also I found these three that I needed:

x Bespin Security Guard (Black) – $8
x C-3P0 (with Removable Limbs) – $15
x Jawa – $15

They have x’s in front of them because I bought them. Stupid eBay.

Even the best of us get duped from time to time.

Recently while out toy shopping I ran across this TIE Fighter.

I thought, mistakenly, that this was from Return of the Jedi. When it comes to Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back toys I’d call myself an expert, but there were a few late Return of the Jedi toys that I never owned. I know that later in the line they switched from white to gray plastic, so I assumed this was one of those. I was wrong.

The key is in the ship’s “wings” (I always referred to them as “solar panels”).

In the one I bought, you can see that the grooves in the solar panels are molded. You can run your finger across them and feel the ridges. Compare that to my original 1977 TIE Fighter and you will see that on the original, the “ridges” are simply a smooth sticker.

The other giveaway is the color of the windshield piece. The old ones are clear; the new ones, gray. After doing a bit of research I was able to identify this as a TIE Fighter from the Power of the Force line of toys released in the mid-90s. Even though it’s almost 20 years old, it’s what I would refer to as “a newer one”.

I’m sure I’ll be keeping this ship (it’ll make a good shelf filler, if nothing else), but as I feel myself getting back into Star Wars collecting a bit it appears I need to brush up on my knowledge before it costs me too much money.

Stopped by another Vintage Stock today on a hunch and picked up three Star Wars figures I need for the collection, including this Bespin Princess Leia from The Empire Strikes Back.

When Han and friends landed on Lando Calrissian’s Bespin (aka “Cloud City”) in the Empire Strikes Back, Leia was still wearing her snow white flight suit from Hoth. Shortly after her arrival she changed into this pink and maroon ensemble in preparation for dinner later that evening with Han, Chewie, Lando, the droids, and a few uninvited Imperial guests.

By the time Han gets frozen in carbonite, Leia has already changed out of her Bespin gown and is back into her white flight suit again. As such, this figure is really only useful if you plan on setting up your own Bespin playset, which is why I set her in front of the Twin Pod Cloud Car for her picture.

Technically I already owned this figure, but I’ve been searching for one at a reasonable price with the original vinyl cape. I am now down to 23 figures I need to complete the original collection. Take a look at the list here and see if you have any of these remaining figures out in a box in your garage!

Anyone who has ever worked toward completing a collection has probably mashed their teeth while paying money for something they didn’t want. Every Atari 2600 collector knows that Pac-Man and E.T. are universally panned, and yet they all own them.

The challenge in collecting Star Wars figures is that especially toward the end of the run, Kenner really began scraping the bottom of the barrel. The original line of figures launched with a now famous 12 figures — one Luke, one Han, and so on. By the type Return of the Jedi wrapped, you had Luke in Hoth gear, Luke in Bespin gear, Luke in Stormtrooper armor, Luke in Jedi outfit, Luke in Endor fatigues, and so on — and that’s just Luke. Did you know Kenner cranked out at least six different Ewoks? I do, because as a collector, I’m in the midst of tracking them down. Toward the end of the line, anyone who appeared in a Star Wars film for more than a few seconds was fair game. This brings us to General Madine.

General Madine is the guy on the right, the one with the white stick. In a room full of guys with lobster heads and a woman in her pajamas, he’s easy to miss. In the film, General Madine has about three lines of dialogue. After informing a room full of rebels that the Rebellion has captured a Tyderian Shuttle, he asks Han if he has assembled his team yet. That’s it. No kid in the history of kids ever asked for a General Madine figure. No kid, while playing with Star Wars, wished they owned a General Madine figure to re-enact his two line speech.

I, however, a stupid collector, have a spot missing where General Madine must stand.

This weekend was the 36th anniversary of the release of Star Wars and the 30th anniversary of the release of Return of the Jedi. With Star Wars on the brain, I set out this weekend to work toward finishing off my vintage Star Wars figure collection. Fortunately I did not have to look far, as the first Vintage Stock I visited happened to have a loose General Madine figure for $2.99.

Next to my X-Wing fighter, I have a spare Luke. Next to my TIE Fighter, I have a spare Stormtrooper. Next to my Hoth Playset I have two or three spare Snowtroopers.

General Madine will stand on the shelf alone, where he belongs.