Fitz’s Toy Chest #17: Brad Turner

Hey guys welcome back to a new installment of Fitz’s Toy Chest. Over the last 16 entries in this series we’ve taken a look at items from the 3 of the 4 biggest toy lines of the 80s (sorry MoTU fans, I never got into those figures).

Recently I’ve been remodeling and reorganizing my basement and in the process I unearthed some more obscure toys that I absolutely loved as a kid.

This week we’re going to be taking a look at one of those toy lines which naturally had its own afternoon animated series as well. Produced by Kenner, this line of toys was really all about the vehicles, with the small scale figures as accessories.

Of course I’m talking about M.A.S.K. And today we’re featuring my first purchase in this line.

Condor w/ Brad Turner
Company: Kenner
Acquisition Year: 1985
Acquired via: Purchase (Venture)
Years In Possession: 35

M.A.S.K. stands for Mobile Armored Strike Kommand, basically a team of agents and their Bruce Wayne/Tony Stark-ish leader Matt Trakker. Together they worked to fight crime and a terrorist group known as V.E.N.OM.

Trakker, much like Tony Stark uses his vast wealth and techno smarts to equip his team with super cool transforming vehicles as well as unique masks for each member that have specialized powers.

Naturally, the leader of V.E.N.O.M. was partners with Trakker at one point and betrayed him taking a bunch of tech with him, so of course his band of criminals all have the same kind of masks and transforming vehicles as the M.A.S.K. team.

Trust me, it’s as hokey as it sounds, but the show was pretty well animated, the designs were DOPE and most importantly the toys were so cool!

Unlike the Star Wars line where vehicles were always “figures sold seperately”, M.A.S.K. figures came with their designated vehicles (later they introduced battle packs of figure repaints that came 2 figures per card).

And that isn’t the only difference. Another unique feature that set these toys apart was how small the figures were. The standard size of figures back then was 3 3/4″. Star Wars, G.I. Joe, Indiana Jones, Tron, you name it they were all 3 3/4″ tall. He-Man broke that mold by going larger, while M.A.S.K. went the other direction. Each figure in the line was roughly the size of a jawa from the Kenner Star Wars collection.

The figures were relatively simple in their sculpt and paint jobs, most of the focus was put on crafting the masks, but the real focal point were the highly detailed and transformable vehicles.

As I said, Brad Turner was the first M.A.S.K. toy I bought for two reasons. 1, being one of the smallest vehicles it was also one of the cheapest, and 2, who doesn’t think a motorcycle that converts into a mini-copter is a badass concept?

Brad Turner’s mask (like all the others) was my favorite part of these toys. While the vehicles were obviously intended to be the main attraction, I loved the characters and was way more into the figures. Which I guess is true of all the toys I collected. For me the figures have always been the point of collecting.

All the vehicles and masks had their own names. For Brad Turner, his vehicle was codenamed “Condor”, which is a pretty apt name. Likewise his mask has a similar on-the-nose name. Its ability was that it could project holographic images to confuse and fool the enemy, so naturally it was codenamed “Hocus-Pocus”.

One thing that always looked bizarre, and is indicative of how little emphasis they put on painting these figures, is his goggles are all black. Lenses and all. Just a blob of black paint. To further the weirdness, his eyebrows (for some reason) were sculpted above the goggles and also painted black. The problem is, the head of the figure is so small there’s no room for seperation between the goggles and eyebrows, so it just makes for a bigger black blob.

Couple the dark goggles that look like sunglasses with the dark hair and this figure always reminded me of Roy Orbison (interestingly the figure’s head is considerably off model from the very NON-Roy Orbison design on the cartoon).

Anyway gang I’ve rambled enough. Look for more M.A.S.K. figures in the coming months as well as toys from other properties that will be making their debut!

Share this post on Twitter with the hashtag #TNBToyChest, and let us know what you think! And if you want, let us know what some of your favorite toys were growing up!

Fitz’s Toy Chest #16: Dengar

The Empire Strikes Back expanded the Star Wars universe in enormous ways when it debuted in 1980, from the saga’s first on screen land battle to the revelation of a main character’s parentage.

One of the more subtle, yet equally impactful moments of the film has to be the brief introduction of Boba Fett and his crew of bounty hunters. Fans already knew to expect the debut of Boba Fett, but we had no idea the motley assortment of unsavory characters that would be joining him.

In just a few seconds of screen time an entire underworld subculture was introduced, mysterious and intriguing. No explanation was given, no backstory, not even names, but these new villains’ brilliant designs were seared into my 7 year old brain.

One of those new characters is the focus of this edition of the Toy Chest. The battle scarred bounty hunter with a bandage wrapped head and repainted Imperial armor pieces, Dengar.

Dengar
Company: Kenner
Acquisition Year: 1980
Acquired via: Christmas gift?
Years In Possession: 40

If having a name that if you swap 2 vowels literally spells “Danger” isn’t reason enough to steer clear of this guy, his grizzled appearance definitely is.

Is he human? Is he part robot? Is he…wounded? Why is his head wrapped up like that? Should he really be out working with a head injury? These are all questions I asked myself the first time I saw Dengar. Long before a younger version of the character appeared in the Clone Wars and we were shown that indeed those head wraps are a fashion choice, there were all manner of fan theories and EU stories about his headgear and face scars. Kenner managed to do a pretty decent sculpt of Dengar’s head and wrappings, it’s one of the more accurate looking human figures they did.

The first time I saw this figure was at a friend’s birthday party. One of his gifts from another kid was a package containing 2 Empire Strikes Back figures. One of them I cannot for the life of me remember, but the other was Dengar. I’m able to remember that because I can still hear the kid who gave my friend that present frantically trying to explain to my him “That’s Dang-gar! His name is Dang-gar!”.

Regardless of how he butchered the guy’s name, I was way more interested in these toys than in playing outside with the rest of the kids. It’s a bit pathetic looking back on it, but my action figures really were my best friends. They were usually way more fun than playing with other kids.

Dengar was one of several figures to come with a very distinctive long rifle accessory that was brand new for the Empire toy line. He shares this same rifle design with the Hoth Snowtrooper and his fellow bounty hunter the intimidating droid IG-88. (None of whom actually had a weapon like this in the film)

In fact this rifle to me is one of the hallmarks of the Empire line. When I think of the ESB figures I always think of this gun. It was so cool looking, nevermind that it was so long and the figure’s arms so unarticulated that it was impossible to have him hold it in anything remotely like a realistic position. Raising his arm to aim that thing always looked ridiculous and made it incredibly difficult to get him to not fall over.

Very much like my Han Solo in Hoth gear figure, Dengar’s skin has not aged well. The paint has faded and discolored considerably, and the white parts of his outfit have also yellowed with age. (Growing up in a house with two parents that smoked did my toys no favors and many of them suffer from nicotine yellowing)

So while Dengar had shamefully short time on screen, we were able to fill out his personality with our own imaginations thanks to this awesome figure.

That’s all for this time gang, thanks for reading. Come back next time and watch this middle aged man gush over childish nonsense while refusing to stare into the oncoming train that is old age.

Share this post on Twitter with the hashtag #TNBToyChest, and let us know what you think! And if you want, let us know what some of your favorite toys were growing up!

Fitz’s Toy Chest #15: Han Solo (Hoth)

Few action figures trigger sense memories for me more than the subject of this installment of Fitz’s Toy Chest.

Welcome back guys, this time around we’re going to take a look at one of the coolest, yet curiously inaccurate figures in the Kenner Empire Strikes Back collection. Straight from the frozen halls of Echo Base, my first ever ESB figure, Han Solo in Hoth Gear.

Han Solo
Company: Kenner
Acquisition Year: 1980
Acquired via: Purchase (Venture)
Years In Possession: 40

The summer of 1980 was filled with Star Wars memories. For some reason this Han Solo figure has always been a key to accessing many of those memories. I can feel the humidity outside, smell cut grass and rain in the air.

These memories are all fragments, but the clearest one is of a stormy day spent visiting a nursery center with my mom, grandma, aunt and cousins. It was common for this group to spend several days a week together going shopping or to the zoo. We would all crowd into our station wagon, the cousins in the back seat or the “back back” of the car (i.e. the cargo space between the back seat and hatchback, which was totally safe).

On this day, I can remember being in the back of the station wagon with my cousin who had already scored 2 of the new Empire figures. He had the rebel hoth commander (which we would always consider to be Luke until they finally made a Luke Hoth figure much later), and Han Solo in his Hoth gear.

I can still see us huddled in the backseat in the gravel parking lot of the nursery, the adults having bought some kind of flowers or another. It suddenly got really dark, like night time dark as black clouds rolled in and we had to shelter in the car waiting for one of the usual tornado/hail producing severe thunderstorms we have at least every other week here in the midwest.

I was scared shitless (I’ve always had a fear of bad storms, it’s only been less of a problem in recent years thanks to many pharmaceuticals). I focused all my attention on that Han figure. He was like my guide through a bad acid trip. The more I focused on him the less I heard the crazy thunder and hail beating down on the car.

Finally it was safe enough to drive home, but I will never forget those intense minutes, and the piece of sculpted plastic that kept me from having a meltdown.

I eventually got my own Han Solo in his blue parka. Yes, blue. It was blue in the movie right? Kinda looked blue to me. Except Harrison Ford’s actual costume parka was not blue at all. It was actually brown. I lived my entire life believing the lie that his Hoth coat was dark blue in Empire Strikes Back. It wasn’t until I got the Star Wars costume book a few years back and saw the real garment used in the film that I realized it was brown.

Apparently there was a color timing issue with the original theatrical prints that made the coat look blue. It even fooled Kenner, obviously. It wasn’t until later modern r-releases where the problem was cleaned up. Even then it’s really hard for me to tell it’s not blue (and no I’m not colorblind). I felt like such a moron for never knowing that.

As you can see my Han has considerable paint wear. This is most likely from playing with him in the snow. Unlike Snow Job, I actually did get to use the Hoth figures outside in snow banks during the winter of 80/81. The paint wear on his legs is probably from having him “ride” the Kenner Tauntaun, which meant sticking the figure hip deep into a to tight trap door on the Tauntaun’s back. You would scrape a figure’s legs across the edge of the opening every time you inserted or removed the rider.

Another thing about my particular Han figure is that this is another member of the Broken Neck club in my collection. Not sure how it happened but one day his head came right off. It’s been super glued in place ever since.

I’m not sure if this is an official “feature” or not, but something I always liked about this figure was that you could pop his DL-44 blaster’s ammo clip into the molded holster loop on his hip and have him carry his weapon that way. Pretty cool.

I’m surprised and a little sad about how poorly the color on his face has aged. It’s turned quite yellow and jaundiced looking over the years.

Over all I really loved this figure and it’s probably just behind the Bespin Han in terms of my favorite Kenner interpretation of the character (but it’s a dead heat, Bespin Han was always just more versatile in different play scenarios).

Well, that’s enough oversharing for this week, I hope you enjoyed the baring of my soul. Come back next time for another dose of (probably at least mildly) toxic plastic playthings.

Share this post on Twitter with the hashtag #TNBToyChest, and let us know what you think! And if you want, let us know what some of your favorite toys were growing up!

Episode 093: Just Put The Mask On And Shut Up

The_Bella_Twins_WrestleMania_31In this episode, the fellers begin to settle into the new reality of this world gone mad filled with personal upheaval and global sickness as they record their very first episode of 2020 and, boy howdy, is it a snazzy humdinger of an episode!

We start off discussing our various coping mechanisms as Fitz starts fondling little men made of plastic and reviving a long dormant segment about it, then he reveals an earth shattering discovery from the depths of his kidhood that warms the cockles of his adulthood.

Doom tries talking about Star Trek, but gets sidetracked bitching about the WWE Hall Of Fame, which leads to him bitching about a bunch of other Wrestling stuff, and then they ask YOU, the long suffering listeners, for your opinion on the future of The Nerd Blitz, so listen up and tell your friends!

URL: Episode 093: Just Put The Mask On And Shut Up
Direct Download: tnb093.mp3

TNB Commentaries 045: Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom

templeofdoomPlease turn off your cellphones and get ready to crack that whip, give the past the slip, step on a crack, break your momma’s back, cause some big bad problems are sure as hell about to come along in this action packed, exciting, and adventurous tale for the ages!

For our 45th Commentary, we travel back to within a sankara stones throw of 1984 for the second installment in this iconic franchise starring Harrison Ford, Kate Capshaw, Jonathan Ke Quan, & Amrish Puri in a trip to the deep jungles and dangerous mines of India.

We talk the latest developments in the world of Indiana Jones, for better or worse, why Silent Night sucks asshole ball juice, Billy Joel, why one of us may not like this movie as much as the other, and generational gaps, all while technologically failing to start the damn movie, so buckle up for another typical Nerd Blitz Commentarial ride!

URL: TNB Commentaries 045: Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom
Direct Download: tnbc-045-temple-of-doom.mp3

This has been a feature of TS-D/JA Productions and JJ2E Media 2019