Fitz’s Toy Chest #11: R5-D4

Welcome back again guys. It’s time to open up the toy chest and rediscover another vintage treasure!

This week we’re going way back to circa 1979 to take a look at one of the figures released in 1978 as part of the first expansion of the Kenner Star wars line.

The Kenner line started off with just 12 figures but soon expanded to 20 when they began producing figures for “blink and you miss them” background characters like Snaggletooth, Hammerhead, etc.

Our subject this week is one of the more unlikely additions, since their entire on screen performance consisted of rolling forward a few feet and immediately exploding. While this proved to be possibly the most critical turn in the entire Saga, it doesn’t really do much to make for an exciting action figure.

Today we’re going to take a look at none other than the owner of the baddest bad motivator in the galaxy, R5-D4.

R5-D4
Company: Kenner
Acquisition Year: 1979?
Acquired via: Purchased ???
Years In Possession: 41

When I think back to those early days of Kenner Star Wars collecting, believe it or not the place that I’m reminded of most is Sears.

I can still see the 60s/70s tile on the floor that looked like millions of tiny stones embedded in the floor. The brown metal door frames of the entrance, with the big wide handles, and the snack bar that greeted you just inside the entrance. It had high bar tables and smelled like butter from all the ever present spilled popcorn on the ground.

It was just past this snack bar that the toy section could be found. My palms still get a little sweaty when I think about seeing the old 12 and 20 back figures on the pegs. I can still remember seeing an endcap display containing a pile of landspeeders and cantina playsets.

And it was there that I saw R5-D4 on the pegs for the first time.

Not the most glamorous figure to be sure, but being the only other astromech besides R2 in the original line made him kinda cool. (Even though this figure is 75% the exact same as the R2 figure)

He has the same leg sculp and body as the R2 figure with just a different color scheme (an odd orange color reminiscent of the sauce in Spaghettios)

One thing about the Kenner astromechs is, they weren’t overly concerned with the accuracy of their dome sculpts. Obviously the technology in the 70s didn’t allow for super detailed figures, but these droids only look like their onscreen counterparts in the loosest sense possible. However, that only adds to the charm in my opinion.

R5’s 3 orange “eyes” are just as real in my head canon as R2’s giant blue “eye”. Neither look anything like the film prop, but who cares?

As always thanks for reading, and I’ll be back soon to share some more gems from my personal collection of old ass plastic junk.

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Fitz’s Toy Chest #10 – Grimlock

What’s up guys. Christmas is over and it’s time to get back into the Toy Chest!

Last time I talked about the one that got away, Superion. I also went on at length about how cool it was that the Autobots countered the Decepticon’s first combiner team with a combiner of their own.

BUT!

What I did NOT talk about was how Superion was not the FIRST answer to the Constructicons!

Was this an intentional omission to service my Christmas narrative OR is my 46 year old brain beginning to lose its abiltity to remember trivial details accurately?

I’ll let you the reader decide the answer to that.

What I will say is that Devastator’s first defeat did not come at the hands of the Aerialbots. Thanks to a chance discovery of fossiles embedded in the walls of the volcano where the Autobots’ space ship was lodged, and the genius that is Wheeljack, Devastator’s first ass kicking came at the hands of…the Dinobots!

The leader of this uncontrollable force was one of the greatest characters to emerge from the Transformers universe. The mighty sword wielding Tyrannosaurus, Grimlock!

Grimlock
Company: Hasbro
Acquisition Year: 1985
Acquired via: Christmas gift
Years In Possession: 35

I can still remember the first time I saw this guy in toy form. My best friend in 5th grade (and fellow TF fanatic) got ahold of one first and smuggled him into school in his backpack. I remember sneaking a look during class behind the bookshelf at the front of the room. It was so cool looking!

I remember thinking that the dino head looked exactly like the cartoon (which was pretty rare for these toys, that let’s be honest, tended to be on the clunky/ugly side).

Grimlock was another hard to find character. The Dinobots in general were scarce enough, but Grimlock seemed even harder to find.

Even the way he transformed was unique. The way his chest split open, and how the dinosaur head flipped back to reveal the robot head was so much fun.

That’s one thing that isn’t talked about enough when it comes to Transformers, the way they’re engineered to convert from one form into a robot. They’re sculpture puzzles, Rubik’s Cubes in robot form. Each one with a different solution. I think they had a big impact on developing my memorization skills and problem solving abilities. It was always a proud moment when you had the transformation moves committed to memory and didn’t have to refer to the instructions.

Another thing that stood out about all the Dinobots was all the chrome and gold and red. I can’t really think of any other characters that had the same amount of shiny metal bits as the Dinobots.

The one aspect about Grimlock that I always found a little comical was his tiny little robot head. It’s absurdly small compared to how big his chest and shoulders are. But I guess it makes sense, small head = small brain, and he was definitely no Mensa candidate.

Anyway, that’s it for this installment. Sorry about the gap between posts, I hope to get back on a semi-regular schedule soon, as I’m currently reorganizing all of my collections so that they’re easier to access and photograph for this blog.

Thanks for reading, see you next time!

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Episode 074: Cartoon Maroons Vol 2 – The One With The Bike Shop

05fc538fad2a33093fbb9984bc2ea36cIn this episode, the fellas are taking a trip back to the bike shop and making bold claims while also clarifying shocking statements from recently past episodes.

Fitz starts off talking about comics and just who exactly happens to be the perfect specimen of a man, while Doom gets creepy and connects EVERY SINGLE GOD DAMN THING TO SCOOBY!

Then we take a deep dive into our cartoon lists and talk robuts, scary war, animals, them titty shows, all kinds of the animes, and Mr. T rolling around with some kids in a van in a jam packed ep of goodness.

 

URL: Episode 074: Cartoon Maroons Vol 2 – The One With The Bike Shop
Direct Download: tnb074.mp3

Fitz’s Toy Chest #9.5: Star Wars Toy Fair 2019, or, Dude I Think I Just Filled The Cup

Hey gang welcome back to the Toy Chest!

I know this space has been bare since the holidays, but real life happens sometimes. I hope to get back to bi-weekly posts soon, but I had to (Doom made me) pop back in to give my 2 cents on the big Star Wars news coming from Hasbro during this year’s Toy Fair!

(And before we start let me just say sorry bleedingcool.com, I’m totally using your pictures. I hope you don’t mind)

I’m not one to drool too hard over modern toys, especially from Hasbro, but…

Holy. Shit. What I’ve seen online the past two days looks incredible.

First, I want to go through the standard fare: Hasbro’s new additions to the Black Series line.

To me this line has been pretty underwhelming in the past. For the $20 price point on these things I would expect way better face sculpts. Some of them have been decent, but most have been downright awful.

But. I have to admit what they showed off this weekend looked really nice. The new waves have a good selection of characters from across the saga and their sculpts look pretty accurate. Of course I suspect they being higher quality pieces to Toy Fair than what end up on store pegs.

Of the lot they displayed, the 3 that caught my eye were:

1. Geonosis Padme – This figure looks beautiful. This is one of my favorite Padme looks of the entire PT and they really nailed it.

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2. Chopper – I love this one just because it’s a large scale Chopper. The paint job is fantastic. The orange of his dome and the orange of the rocket fire provide a cool visual balance (although it does kinda look like he’s fart propelled)

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3. Mimban Han Solo – This was easily the best looking figure out of the 6″ assortment. The details on the armor and the removable mask are dope af. The face sculpt really captures Alden Ehrenreich’s likeness. It’s been years and years since I’ve purchased a Star Wars figure, but I might actually need this one.

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The 3 3/4″ Black Series had a big reveal as well, finally delivering a toy that Kenner promised way back in 1985 and then left us all hanging when they cancelled the entire Star Wars line.

Of course I’m talking about the Sarlacc Pit Skiff from Return Of The Jedi. I can still remember staring at the picture of it in the J.C. Penney Christmas catalog the year it was supposed to come out and dreaming of making my Jedi Luke walk its plank.

So it’s no wonder that I let out an audible gasp when I saw the picture of the new version from Toy Fair. I’m sure I won’t buy it, but it makes me feel good knowing it exists. This looks way better than the Power Of The Force 2 skiff that was released in the late 90s.

And if you were one of the lucky ass rich bastards that got in on that sweet 3 foot long Jabba’s Sail Barge they kickstartered last year, this Hasbro skiff is going to look amazing displayed next to it.

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Finally, I’ve saved the best (in my opinion) for last.

Over a decade ago Hasbro launched what I consider the crown jewel of their modern Star Wars lines, the Vintage Collection. I was so excited when I first saw them. Seeing those original package designs on the pegs made my palms sweat. My only issue with them was that the figures looked way too fancy. Something about the combination of the modern figure designs with old school packaging felt off.

Well. Much to the chagrin of hardcore vintage collectors, Hasbro is taking it up (or maybe it’s down?) a notch by releasing a new Vintage Collection line featuring not only repro packaging from the original line BUT also exact replica figures!

Splooosh.

These are a thing of beauty. With owning the real things being competely off the table for 99% of fans, these are a fantastic looking alternative (They even include shelf wear on the card back edges).

My only gripe (aside from them doing a big head Han instead of the better looking, imo, small head Han) is the obnoxious red circle on the packaging letting you know it’s definitely NOT a 40 year old toy. I feel like they could’ve come up with something a little less distracting. It really takes away from the overall look. Although, the more I look at it, the more it’s growing on me. It reminds me of the old mail away advertisements they would stick to the front of the cards back in the day.

Either way they look gorgeous. I can’t wait to stumble across these at my local Target. I might actually cry.

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What’s even more exciting is that in addition to releasing original figures from the Kenner line, they plan to release characters that Kenner never made in that same chunky o.g. style.

Look at Tarkin! He looks legit right out of 1978. They even got the crotch right, using that same squared off leg joint design that the old figures had.

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Overall I don’t think I’ve been this impressed by anything from Hasbro since the first wave of the Vintage Collection back in 2007. I’m almost definitely going to be buying a few of these. Just looking at the pictures makes me happy.

Ok enough of me drooling. If you want to see more of what was shown at Toy Fair, including a pretty overpriced “hyper real” Vader, go on over to bleedingcool.com they have a lot more pictures and information from the show.

Thanks for reading guys, come back next time for more toy talk!

Fitz’s Toy Chest: #5 – Hound

What’s up guys, welcome back to Fitz’s Toy Chest!

I’ve mentioned it before, but there were 3 main pillars of toy collecting in my life. I’ve shown you pieces from two of them so far, Star Wars and G.I. Joe. This week I’m digging into the third.

In 1983 I started seeing commercials for these new toys that could change from cars and jets into robots. As you can imagine, they blew my mind.

These toys were called GoBots and they were tits. I had at least half a dozen, maybe more. They were small, rugged and pretty inexpensive.

Then, in 1984 I saw something that made GoBots look like the hot garbage they actually were. Commercials started appearing for a line of GoBot killers. They were of course, Transformers.

Hound
Company: Hasbro
Acquisition Year: 1984
Acquired via: Gift
Years In Possession: 34

744.jpgAt first I was resistant. I’m loyal to a fault, even in regards to toys. I didn’t want to like these GoBot ripoffs, but it didn’t take long for them to break me. They were bigger, shinier, more well designed and overall sexier than the the GhettoBots.

Their cartoon was even light years ahead of the shitty Challenge of the GoBots show.

Many of the G1 Transformers were just repackaged and rebranded toys from Japan. They were made with higher quality craftsmanship and the steps to “transform” them were far more complex. They were like action figure Rubik’s Cubes.

Of course they were also way WAY more expensive than GoBots, which presented a challenge for me, a kid from a lower middle income family.

I would obsess over the sale ads in the weekend paper, pointing out which ones were the coolest looking. For some reason I was drawn to the army jeep (maybe because it reminded me of G.I. Joe?)

It took awhile, but one day my dad came home from work with a surprise. My first Transformer. I don’t know where he got it, but it was the jeep, Hound.

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I loved it.

Did I mention the added fun of putting all the decals on yourself? They came completely unadorned with a small sheet of stickers and an instruction booklet. The instructions not only showed you step by step how to transform the toy, but where to put all the stickers.

Much like the Joes, Transformers had a profile card on the packaging. The gimmick with these cards were the ability stats were “encoded” for secrecy. To “decode” them, you placed a thin piece of red trandparent plastic over the card which canceled out the red noise printed over the stat graph. It was genius and captured my imagination.

20180902_152939.jpgOver the next couple years I took it DEEEEP with Transformers. It defined my Christmases in 84/85. It seems like that period lasted so much longer. It’s hard to believe that it was really just 2 years between my first introduction to Transformers and the release of Transformers The Movie which effectively killed my passion for the line for many years. Looking at it now, that movie is fantastic, but it’s hard to watch so many characters meet their brutal end. Definitely scarring for a kid.

Luckily I got over it, and to this day I love the G1 Transformers and enjoy revisiting the original cartoon (fuck you Beast Wars) from time to time.

Well, that’s all for this week guys. Join me again next time for another peek inside Fitz’s Toy Chest!

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Fitz’s Toy Chest: #3 – Rock ‘N Roll

Welcome back guys. After two weeks of Star Wars talk, I’m going to switch things up and dive into what would become the second of the three main toy collecting pillars of my childhood.

In 1982 I was a full blown Star Wars junkie, but things had slowed a bit. Jedi was still a year away, and Empire was 2 years in the rearview. Then, one day I saw this commercial:

It’s amazing that it was this shitty zero budget commercial with the terrible voiceover that grabbed my attention, but grab me it did. What WAS this? Who were these guys? They weren’t from a movie or a TV show (not yet anyway), but I knew immediately I had to have them.

It wouldn’t take long for me to discover that, while there was no movie or cartoon featuring these new badass commandos, there was a comic book launched in coordination with the toy line.

3-7I’m pretty sure for me the toys came first, and then I found the comics shortly thereafter. Marvel used to have these 3 packs of comics. They had one for X-men, they had one for Transformers (issue 1-3 of a 4 issue mini-series, wtf you guys?), and they had one for G.I. Joe comics. I remember bringing that 3 pack home from Grandpa Pidgeon’s (Think Target if Target had a serious meth habit. They were awesome). It had issues 3,4, and 5. After that I was hooked on Larry Hama’s enduring masterpiece and it informed the backyard adventures I had with this toys for years. It was also the perfect gateway comic for me. Sure I had a few Batman comics before that and of course Star Wars comics, but these were different. They felt more grown up and serious. Later, G.I. Joe #1 would be my first wall book purchase. I dug them that much.

But I digress.

My mom was kinda reluctant to let me start a new collection of plastic junk, she was no doubt afraid how deep I would take my parents with these toys based on my obsession with Star Wars. And she wasn’t wrong to feel that way.

She finally gave in and one day I was given the green light at the Venture on Page Avenue. That store was Target’s trashier cousin. That store was probably the place I got most of my figures. Trips to Toy Chest were a relatively rare treat. Venture runs were a weekly affair.

Straight from Fitz’s Toy Chest I present my very first “small joe”

Rock ‘n Roll
Company: Hasbro
Acquisition Year: 1982
Acquired via: Purchase, Venture
Years In Possession: 36

2746913-37901.jpgI’m not sure what drew me to Rock ‘N Roll but that’s who I picked. Maybe it was the dope ass double ammo belts, or maybe it was because he had the biggest gun, I honestly don’t remember. What I do remember is how fantastic the card art on these figures was.

That’s one thing I should mention about these old figures is the packaging itself was as impressive as the toys themselves. I would study the pictures of the other available toys on the back, and for the Joes and Transformers, carefully clip out the character profile cards. You just don’t see that anymore and it’s a shame.

40099.jpgLike all of the first series of Joes they released, this Rock ‘N Roll is a “straight arm” figure. If you don’t know what that means, it means the arms do not have rotational articulation at the elbows. The 3 3/4″ Joes had very impressive articulation for the early 80s (in fact they remain far superior to modern figures in my opinion). Where Kenner Star Wars fugures only had arms that moved at the shoulder and legs that moved at the waist, Joes had bendable elbows, knees, waist, ball jointed shoulders, etc.

They were infinitely more posable that Kenner figures, but the first series still fell short in one area. This was rectified a year or two after the first figures came out with the introduction of “swivel arm battle grip” which allowed the arm to pivot at the elbow, giving the Joes more realistic grip on their guns.

Later, all of the original series would be reissued with the swivel arm battle grip. So as you can imagine, these first straight arm version 1.0 figures are much more valuable and sought after than the reissues from just a short time later.

DSC_0227Becauss I’m an OCD nerd that craves an unhealthy amount of information about the things he likes, my favorite part of the figures were the file cards on the back of the package. Almost all were written by the Joe comic writer Larry Hama. They started out as character bios that he would write for his own use while writing those books, but Hasbro saw what he was doing and thought they would be a great added feature for the toys.

My most vivid memory of this figure comes from a weekend when some out of town relatives came to visit. I didn’t know these people but they came by to say hi to my mom. It was just a woman and her two kids, the dad couldn’t make the trip from California. At one point the youngest kid, maybe 3 or 4 years old came running out of my bedroom yelling “Daddy! Daddy!” Everyone freaked thinking he got scared or hurt, but then we saw he was holding Rock ‘N Roll. Turns out his dad was a career soldier, that’s why he couldn’t leave the base to come to St. Louis. This poor kid thought my action figure looked like his dad and he was sad he couldn’t be with him back home!

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I’m not sure what his dad looked like or if he walked around the house with and M60 and full battle fatigues, but it took some prying to dislodge Rock ‘N Roll from his hands when it was time for them to leave.

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Well, that does it for this edition of Fitz’s Toy Chest. Come back next time where I will put the spotlight on the very LAST of the 80s Kenner Star Wars figures that I ever bought!

The Nerd Blitz Question Of The Week #10

For the 10th time, Tuesday has rolled around these here parts and we all know what that means…Question time, Mother Lovers!

Tying into this week’s new installment of Fitz’s Toy Chest, our question this week is: What’s one toy you had as a kid that you wish you still had?

Leave your answer in the comments below or post it on Twitter with the hashtag #TNBQotW, so we can find it.

Special thanks to @SteBoost for our logo.