Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The many faces of Skeletor

As you may have seen in previous blog entries I went a bit mad and bought a whole load of Skeletors from the 80's Masters of the Universe toy line by Mattel. And one thing I have noticed is how different all the faces are. Some have just subtle differences caused by bad paint application, but some are more obvious.

I've looked around the web for more info on this, and can't find any. There is a small amount of info on the Hard head version of skeletor, but even that is vague.

So here is a selection of photos from the many figures I now have.

First up we have the original skeletor, this guys has a soft rubber head, removable armour and skirt.
Over all of the four I have they all look pretty much the same. The paint is applied with various amounts of accuracy and thickness. His mouth details changes the most with some having nice thin lines added, and others being really thick and blurred. There is also a fair amount of difference in the hue of the paint, this could be due to age, but the second guy from the left is a much brighter yellow than all the other original skeletors I have.


Next up we have Battle Armour skeletor. I have five of him, again most have small paint defects like the original version. And one has what I would class as a major variation. Old blue eyes. The guy on the right seems has and extra blue colour added to the underside of his eyes. This is the only version I have with this extra blue paint.


Now for some Hard head Skeletors. I have two Hard head original Skeletors and one dragon blaster.
The colour on the heads is much more vivid, the green and yellow are really very bright, but do go with the much darker blue plastic used for the body on the original style figures.  But check out the middle Hard head, he is missing the two frown lines.

Dragon blaster skeletor also has much smaller yellow face paint and eyes, making his face look much smaller even though the head is the same size.

And that's it from my current collection. As I find more I will amend this post.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Penny Racers by Takara

Penny Racers are a line of toys that I had not remembered until recently. Made by Takara in the early 80's they were a simple pull back and go toy with a neat gimmick. Put a penny coin in a slot on the back of the car and it would do wheelies.



At the time I remember there being loads of different cars available, and it seems there were. The toys were a re-branded version of a Japanese toy line called Choro-Q which are still made today in Japan.

It seems that the Early Learning Centre has the license in the UK now and sells a modern version that looks roughly like the old line. I guess it's an ideal cheap toy line that they can sell for pocket money prices.
I picked up a carded vintage Penny Racer on ebay for only a couple of pounds. I've not seen another one on sale since, my guess is people don't know what they are unless they are in the packet, so they could be hard to find loose.

The cars are pretty well made and considering the small details and fiddly bits they can take quite a battering. The pull back action was always a favorite  of mine as a kid. I loved the Jumpstarter transformers that flipped open as they traveled along.

There was another pull back car I had that rather than using a penny to make it do wheelies, came with a small metal weight shaped like a spare tyre. If anyone can remember what those were called, get in touch.



Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Star Wars Mission Wave - 212th Battalion Clone Trooper with Battle Droid

I was not going to bother getting any of the new Mission Star Wars figures. They have been getting bad reviews all over the place, mainly for there limited articulation and high price point. But having now found them discounted to £4.99 they were enough of a temptation to pick up one of the double figure packs. So I plumped for the 212th Battalion Clone Trooper with Battle Droid set. As I like the colours of the Utapau trooper.



Now I have these figures in hand, I really like them. They remind me of the old vintage kenner figures that are meant to be played with and not collected. The are well built and not like to break or lose bits like most modern figures. All you are going lose is the weapon.

I have written before about my dislike for modern figures: Modern vs Vintage and these new figures are much better for playing with. Ok, you can't pose them, but when you are playing with them that really doesn't matter.

The paint job on both figures is pretty good as is the sculpt. There isn't really much more to say as that's all you get, two figures, two guns. At there original price of £8.99 that would be a rip off, but at £4.99 it's good value. And if you want and army, I would grab loads of these.


Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Bath and West Flea Market


Flea markets are still a good source for finding vintage toys. This little lot above came from the large flea market held at the bath and west showground in Shepton Mallet. They hold this market a few times over the year, and if the weather is good it can be huge.

It's £3.50 each to get in, which is on the high side in my mind. Especially if you don't find anything you want (which can happen).

This time I was lucky, the first find being a bag of figures which included a nice Tri-logo Boba fett. This find more than covered the entry fee. The rest of the figures aren't that good, but better than nothing.

I found the Chief Chirpa as we were just about to give up and go home. We had been walking around for 3 hours by then. The card is pretty beaten up, but the figure is still firmly held on and in great condition. This is also the UK Palitoy card, not the more common Kenner card.

We also picked up a few other bits of the non toy related type which I won't go into here. Overall a good days rummaging.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Rebuilding Galvatron

This has been a job on my to do list for ages. I have and old G1 Transformer Galvatron that is in pretty good shape, apart from the battery connector which had partly snapped off. It sounds like a simple job of just taking the figure apart and soldering on a new connector.

But Galvatron has to be one of the most difficult figures to get to pieces. There are so many parts that stop you getting to the screws you need to. First his chest section needs removing, but this is not at all easy, you have to undo a few screws on the sides, then with a lot of jiggling and bending, ping the chrome ring of that is around his neck.



Once you've done that you now have access to the main chest area. You have to remove his hip flaps, then unscrew his groin which allows the upper body to be removed. Your still no there yet, now you need to remove his belt and undo a couple more screws, pop off his crown and you are in!

Blimey. As you can see by the photo you really need to keep track of all the bits as at some point you have to put him all back together.

After all that it was a simple case of soldering on a new battery connector and he was back in working condition. Which for Galvatron is lighting up of the eyes and making an awful sound. So probably not worth all the hassle.


Friday, 6 September 2013

Movie remakes - give it a rest

Movie remakes are starting to seriously get on my nerves now. Why can't movie makers these days come up with something new rather than re-hashing old ones and ruining them. I saw today the trailer for Robocop, and then read quite soon after that they are re-making Stargate and The Blackhole amongst others.

The Robocop trailer is terrible, they have taken and the basic concept, removed all the good bits, and sh*t out a bog standard dull movie. It looks almost exactly like the bland remake of Total recall from last year.

It's not like there is a shortage of good sci-fi stories out there. There are some real classics books that have never had the movie treatment. But that seems to be too much of a risk, the lazy movie companies would rather take something old, mess it up a bit, add a load of pointless effects, and rely on some nostalgia to get people to go and see it.

Tron was a great example of this. The original Tron film is not a great film. It's very dull, and really dated, but it does look great. But it didn't need re-making or a sequel. It should have just been left alone.

You do occasionally get a good new sci-fi movie come out. District 9 and Moon were both great films. But there should be many more.

How long before we get remakes of Terminator, Alien, Close encounters, ET, etc. Please stop now.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Even more Fisher Price Adventure People

I picked up a few more carded Fisher Price Adventure People last week. I really love the card artwork for these figures. Modern card art just doesn't match up to the painted images showing a bit of fantasy action. You don't see carded versions of these figures that often, and these are in various conditions, nothing mint, and most have been drawn on with a nice thick marker pen :(

The space themed Adventure people are by far the best of the series, and I was able to get some of the rarer figures. X-Ray Man and X-Ray Woman are two figures the people like to have as they do look a lot like they should have featured in the Tron films.



One of the hardest figures to find Brainoid, comes in a 3-pack with Opticon and the Alpha Pilot. Clawtron is another great figure, which like many of the line re-uses parts of other figures. He is basically the race driver figure with green eyes and claws for hands.  This is the same for the space commander who uses the frog mans body with a different head.

Then comes the Astro Knight. I'm not sure what to say about this figure as it really doesn't fit with all the other AP figures. It has a completely unique mold and very few joints. You can't even move his legs, and his arm just sort of rotate out into a Jesus pose.

All in all a good selection of figures picked up for about £6 each.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Buck Rogers notice board - upcycled

I've been in need of a notice board to store a load of loose bits I have on my toy room desk. You know the sort of bits I mean, badges, postcards, cool bits of paperwork from toys, that sort of thing.

Over the years I have picked up all sorts of Toy related bits including some bedding and soft furnishings. The fabric for the notice board is from a pair of Buck Rogers curtains that I bought many years back. They are a cool item, but there is not much you can do with them. I didn't really want to use them as curtains, so this is a good way to get them displayed.

I have lots of spare fabric, so might make some more to sell on.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Skeletor Overload

Think I might have to many Skeletors hanging around at the moment. I have been bidding on them on ebay when they are at 99p and it's amazing how many I have ended up winning.


Even the Graded Hard Head Skeletor was a bargain.

Is it time to stop? Or shall I just keep army building. Only time will tell.



Tuesday, 25 June 2013

De-Yellowing Vintage He-Man MOTU Figures - Full Guide



What you will need:
 2x 200ml Bottles of %6 Hydrogen Peroxide
1x Empty Pint Glass (or similar)
Sunshine – if available Patience – plenty of it

I am a UK based collector so I will be talking about shops and brands that are available here. As with Star Wars figures it seems that the different types of plastic used to make the parts of the figures can become yellowed when left in the sun. With MOTU figures it seems to happen on the torso and groin, with the arms and heads not suffering. Both these parts are made from a harder plastic. The first thing you need to do is give your figures a good clean to remove and loose dirt and grime. The easiest way to do this is take them as much apart as possible. Remove all armour and then pop the arms and head off.


As you can see, the figure I have chosen to work on (Skeletor) has some serious yellowing to his torso. The back is pretty much solid yellow. On the front you can see where his armour has shielded parts of his body.



You can pick up %6 Hydrogen Peroxide from most chemists here in the UK. Some will have it out on the shelves (but not many). You normally have to ask at the counter for it. A 200ml bottle costs £1. From my tests you will need two bottles of this, but it will depend on what sort of jar you use.

For star wars figures I normally place the whole figure in the liquid, but as only the torso of this figure is damaged it's best to only cover that part. Fine a glass that is wide enough to fit the shoulders of the MOTU figure in standing on it's neck. And pour enough Hydrogen in to cover the torso.



Then place the glass and figure on the windowsill in the sunshine. You'll need to leave it in the sunshine for a few days, depending on how much sun you get. You will also need to top the hydrogen peroxide up a bit as it does evaporate. You'll notice your figure will become covered in tiny bubbles. Just give it a slight tap to dislodge these.

For this very yellowed figure I left it for 5 days. The sun was very hit and miss over these five days. Just keep and eye on it.

Other sites say you need the sun to get results, but in my experience just a bit of cloudy daylight works just as well. It may be that this affects the speed at which the bleaching happens, but that is only a guess.



When they are done, and you will just need to judge this. Take them out and give them a good wash. If you don't give them a good wash you may find a powdery coating on some of the painted areas once they dry. This can just be wiped off with a cloth.

As you can see in the above photos the results are great. It's hard to believe this is the same figure..
In the old days I would have classed this figure as junk as it looked so awful. But now, it's a pretty good figure and I will happily put it in my collection.

And her is the final figure. Bought for 99p on ebay as it looked so rough. Now a fine example.



Sites worth looking at:

Retr0bright - http://retr0bright.wikispaces.com/
Comic Book Bin - http://www.comicbookbin.com/Action_Figure_Yellowing001.html
Exisle - http://www.exisle.net/mb/index.php?/topic/59657-de-yellowing-plastic-the-stain-isnt-permanent-after-all/

Sunday, 23 June 2013

De-Yellowing Motu He-Man figures

I have spent a long time mastering the art of de-yellowing star wars figures (which you can read in my other blog posts), and thought I would give some other figure lines a go. First up He-Man and the masters of the universe. I only have a few of these figures, mainly lots of skeletors, he-man, and mossman (my namesake). One of my skeletors has some serious yellowing going on, which seems to have only affected his torso, this is made of a hard plastic much like stormtrooper bodies. The arms are made of a softer plastic that doesn't seem to yellow. And as the groin of skeletor is black there is no sign of any yellow stains.


Motu figures are easier to deal with than star wars figures as you can pop the arms and head off and just deal with the torso section. I'm going to use the same 6% hydrogen peroxide I have used previously and just place the torso in this. I've used a pint glass an filled it with enough liquid so that the torso is submerged and the legs and groin are left in the air. This will sit on a window ledge in the sun for a few days. The sun is in short supply here in the uk, it is summer time, but it's not to be seen. So It will need 3 or 4 days to have make any difference. I'll post more when the results are in.

You can get the 6% hydrogen peroxide at most chemists here in the UK.


Friday, 14 June 2013

Darth Vader stuck in Somerset

There really is very little going on in Shepton Mallet, Somerset, England. As this is the the main headline this week.


The Somerset Journal are really on top form, 'Apology demanded from Darth Vader'. There must have been something else interesting in the news this week?

The story seems to be about someone who was upset that the stormtoopers marched behind proper soldiers. Sounds lime he should grow up a bit as they were collecting money for charity. You can't please everyone.

UPDATE: Having read the rest of the paper now, there are a total of four stories about Star Wars! Is there something I don't know about Shepton Mallet? The worst of the stories is a bad pun about wookey (wookie) hole. You can guess the rest.

Monday, 20 May 2013

More Fisher Price Adventure People

After picking up a carded Frogman adventure person a few weeks back I started keeping an eye out for more loose figures. They don't really turn up that often on ebay here in the UK, there are loads in the US, but with high postage costs they aren't very good value. Occasionally you will see them turn up on the UK site, and have been bidding on any largish lots of them. And I have got lucky a couple of times and got a handful for about a quid each figure.

And this is my collection so far:





The space figures are by far my favorite, they just look extra cool. And the X-ray man reminds me a lot of the vintage Tron toys. There are some figures that seem to be very common, I already have a pile of the orange bike guys, and 3 extra of the blue guy with the headset.

A lot of the figures re-use body parts from other figures in the line. The Frogman that started me off on this collection is also available in yellow with a mustache,  and his head is used in a number of the astronauts. But you will see plenty of other figures that are just straight re-paints.

These are now on my list of toys to keep an eye out for. And they should be an easy set to complete as there are only 70 odd figures in the entire line.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Toy room - update

I have had a bit more spare time to spend sorting out the toy room, and it's starting to feel a bit more organized. All the vintage Star Wars figures are now out including the imperial army. Getting the Transformers out has been a bit of a pain as I can't remember what weapon goes with what figure, and some of the newer figures are really hard to transform.



I still have plenty more boxes to open and sort out. Most of this stuff has been hidden away for the last 6/7 years so some of it I don't even remember having. Which makes it kind of fun. Like going for a good rummage at a toy fair.

Alien Resurrection - Atom Zone screen used game


Back in the mid 90's I was working for a London based game company called Argonaut Software. I was working on the game license for the up coming film 'Alien Resurrection'. The game was due to come out on the PSOne and at the time a few other platforms. In the end I think it only came out on the PSOne. It was one of those games that just went from problem to problem and I left the project before it got finished.

Anyway, while working on this we were asked by 20th Century Fox to create a playable game that they could use within the film itself. I was tasked with creating the art for this over a few short days as they needed the game quickly. The game initially didn't have a name, but in the movie it was titled 'Atom Zone'.

You get to see Atom Zone very briefly on the bridge of the 'Betty'. I have no idea why you would have an arcade machine on the bridge of a space ship, but there ya go.

Recently while sorting out some old boxes I came across the backup CD's from this time and found a disc that contained all the original CGi models used in this game. With a little bit of fiddling I have managed to get them in a state that I can output images from the models. These model were originally created in a dos based piece of software called 3ds4. I have outputted images pretty much as they would have been at the time.


The above image shows a CGI version of the arcade machine case that I built to be used in intro sequence to the game. This was created from photos that I took on the set in LA. You don't really get to see the detail in the movie, but the case was fully decorated all round with some great retro art.

The game is only seen very very briefly in the movie, which is a shame considering the amount of work that went into it. It was fully playable, and had a choice of ships. At the time this was created using the fastest graphics cards around so that it could run at a high-resolution. It ran on a top end PC with two graphics cards to keep the frame rate up.



This first ship is the one you can see blowing up in the still from the movie. It was loosely based on the drop ship from 'Aliens'.


This second ship was the one you played as. This could be switched on and off depending on what view you wanted. This was not seen in the film.


 This final ship was a second type of enemy ship. More of a mother ship I guess. Again not seen in the film.

I have a few other models for the lasers, engine jets, an asteroid, and the explosion, but I have not bothered sorting those out. They are a little dull.

All of these ships models are fairly low detail compared to todays games, but they were all that the graphics cards could handle at the time.

The game was pre-recorded and then played onto a monitor inside the arcade machine box.

In total there were 3 of use who created this game, but we didn't get individual credits, just an overall company credit. You can read the Film Credits here. Atom Zone is listed under Argonaut Software.

Looking back, it's pretty crazy to have some work in an Alien film.

The screen captures are the top of this page come from here.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Star Wars Badges



These are not the sort of things I normally collect, but I saw these two badges at a recent flea market in Shepton Mallet and thought they looked pretty cool.  Both seem to be originals as they have Twentieth Century fox and Lucas film trademarks on them. The large blue badge is made by Factors Inc. Not bad for £3

I've got to work out how to display them now.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Modern Vs. Vintage figures

I've been collecting toys and action figures for more than 20 years now. It started with me re-collecting the figures I had in my youth as there weren't any modern figures I liked (this was back in the early 90's). Then with the re-releases of the Star Wars movies this all changed as it seemed most toy manufacturers jumped on the action figure band wagon and started producing figures from pretty much any film/tv show going.

Those first few years of new figures carried on with the idea that action figures are toys first, collectables second. Figures and ships weren't made screen accurate just a close version that could be played with by kids. Figures came with one or two weapons, limited movement and details, but were hard to break.

In the last few years I have come to find that I dislike the modern figures more and more. Toy makers no longer make toys, but collectables. This means that the figures are super detailed, come with a handful of weapons and accessories, but that they are also really delicate. You just have to look at a modern toy and an arm will fall off.

Transformers are by far the worst for breaking. They say they are designed to come apart, but many just fall apart with the lightest of touches. And I have even had some come out of the box broken as the plastic they are made of is so brittle. Vintage transformers were made of much sturdier stuff. Yes you could still break them if you played a little to rough, but they mostly could take a serious amount of wear.

I look back on 'vintage' figures and see how much better they are than these modern ones. There first and main job was to be played with. This meant they were well built, nothing fell off them (apart from the one weapon they came with), and they didn't mind being buried in sand, dunked in the bath, dropped down the stairs.

It's come to the point now that you often have to buy multiple versions of a figure in the hope one of them is a good one, not broken, no loose limbs, just well made.

These days I would rather buy some well played with vintage figures (ok they will be worn, but they will also still be able to be displayed or played with), than buy and be constantly disappointed when opening new figures.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Ray Harryhausen

I was very sad to hear that Ray Harryhausen has passed away. He has been and inspiration to me for pretty much all my working life. His creature designs and animation were always amazing, and stand up even in todays CGi world.

The current project I am working on 'Combat Monsters' even contains a Cyclops as this monster is the one that has always stuck in my mind. One of Rays best.


Modern CGi really can't compete with the skill, time and effort of stop motion.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Fisher Price Adventure People

I'm not sure why these figures popped back in to my mind recently, but they did. As a kid I remember being given a few for various birthdays and Christmas, but I don't think I new what they were, they just got played with along with all the other action figures I had.

There was however one that made a lasting impression on me, the Frogman. This used to go everywhere with me, and as he was a frog man spent large amounts of his time in water, ponds, the sea, or stuck in the bottom of a small sand pit we had in the garden.






He was played with so much that all the pain and decals had warn off just leaving a blue figure. But I really loved it. I've no idea what happened to my original figure, I guess it just got chucked away in the end when I stopped playing with it. So I recently went on a hunt to find the 'Frogman' Figure again. It took me a while to find out what the line was called as I didn't even know who made them. But after some research I turns out he was from the Fisher Price Toy line 'Adventure People'.


The line ran from the mid 70's to the mid 80's and included single figures and many playsets and vehicles. Most of the carded figures came with few if any accessories, which makes them great for collecting. I do like old action figures as they were designed as toys first and are built to last.


Like most figures from the 70's they have limited movement with simple rotation joints on the arms and legs, but the do have a more fancy ball jointed neck. The also all tend to have one arm in a sort of action pose.

What I like about this line is the way the re-use body parts. The head of the frogman was re-used as an astronauts head along with many others. There are only a limited amount of these figures so its quite an easy line to get a complete collection.



Catalogue Image source

These figures were also used for the basis, or at least a concept for the Star Wars line.
Read more Here.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

New House - New Toy Room


After six years I have moved into a bigger house and now have space to unpack my entire toy collection and get it sorted out.

And let me tell you it's a bit of a daunting job. I wasn't really sure where to start, it's just a mess of boxes, some of which I now what's in. And some I have no idea.

First job was to build some shelves for a few of the things I new I wanted to display on there own. Using some scraps of wood that I had saved from removing an old cupboard I was able to make a good set of shelves to store my Ad&d figures and the large fortress of Fangs.


Also I like to display my Star Wars ships like pictures on the wall as they take up a lot less space. There very easy to hang using picture hooks and fishing wire. And they look really striking when displayed like this.


You can pick up some pretty good cheap shelves from Argo (in the UK). These shelves are £23 each and are great for displaying figures, and also holding the odd book or two. So far I have my Astromechs, vintage Star wars figures, and a good chunk of Transformers out and dusted.


And that's about it for now. There are still loads of boxes to sort through.


Saturday, 2 February 2013

Has ebay had its heyday for collectors?

This is a question that I have wondered about for a while now as I find I use ebay less and less for both adding to and selling parts of my toy collection. I started using ebay more than 10 years ago when you could only have a US based account and everything was listed in $. At this time the Internet was still young and ebay was a place for ordinary people to buy and sell stuff. The fees were low and there were very few categories, but you could search around and find many great items for good prices. Even selling stuff was fun back then as with low fees it didn't matter if your items only sold for a small amount.

I would often buy items from people in the US and because there was no paypal or easy way to send money I would stick actual dollar bills in the post. The sellers were happy to wait the few days it took for the money to arrive, and they got cold hard cash with no fees taken.

Over the years with the introduction of paypal and more currency options ebay did get better, and more fun to use. But then people started getting greedy. Ebay kept upping the fees, paypal also. Then on certain categories you began to be forced to offer free shipping. Also sellers started to get more greedy, and maybe a bit more knowledgeable. So the prices of the items went up, and also the price of shipping as sellers realised that you needed to over charge for postage to try and claw back some of the money you lost of fees.

Nowadays I have pretty much given up selling small items on ebay. If I list a single star wars figure for 99p, ok there are no listing fees, but you still seem to end up making nothing. It seems unless you are selling something that is worth more than ten quid, just don't bother. Even then by the time you have paid ebays fees and paypals fees you make very little money.

And even my buying has started to run its course. I still look at ebay most days, but I jus look. Most items for collectors are overpriced, with over the top shipping charges. The sellers have to charge these high prices to be able to make a profit, but it just means I don't end up bidding. If you take a look in the action figures/star wars section you can see that more than 50% of the auctions end without a single bid. Again, great for ebay as they still get their listing fees, but bad for the seller as they get charged no matter what. Ebay has now become a market place for people to sell new items exactly the same as amazons marketplace or play.com's market area.

Ebay has moved itself from a place were ordinary people could buy and sell their own stuff, to a place that is mainly aimed at larger firms. They really have priced out the little people.

The real shame is that there is no alternative, it's ebay or nothing. Which is great for ebay, but sad for the collector. And I can't see anything changing anytime soon. Ebay have such a monopoly that it pretty much impossible for anyone to make a dent. There are a few online auction sites but very few people use them, and because people have the ebay greed built in the items that are listed are done so at stupidly high prices.

The only place left for us collectors is fan run forums. I quite like forums, but they are not the same as being able to browse a large market place.

So, has ebay had it's heyday for collectors. In my eyes the answer has to be yes! These days I would rather go to a flea market, toy fair, or trade in shop. Some of my best recent finds have been at trade in shops. And I have even sold some of my excess collection to one as after the hassle of listing the item on ebay, the large fees, the posting hassles, I ended up with pretty much the same amount of money I would have made selling them on ebay.

Does this stop me looking on ebay, no. But it's no longer my first choice when searching for new items. It's probably not even second.