Fitz’s Toy Chest #7: Cobra Commander

Hey gang thanks for joining me for another look into musty toy collection!

So far in this series I’ve covered a couple of Star Wars mail-away figures.  This time I’m sticking with that theme but switching franchises!

In 1982, the first wave of G.I. Joe figures only offered 2 figures for the Joes to fight, a Cobra soldier and a Cobra “officer”. They basically looked identical with just a slight difference in their paint schemes.

Then Hasbro pulled a Kenner and introduced the first G.I. Joe mail in figure.  And it was a DOOZY.  No longer were these two hapless Cobra soldiers running around the battlefield willy nilly, now you could add their supreme leader to the fight!

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I can remember he arrived packed in just a clear plastic bag with his file card.  No cardback or bubble.  Which I should’ve mentioned in the previous mail in posts was the standard for these things.  No fancy packaging whatsoever.

Cobra Commander
Company: Hasbro
Acquisition Year: 1982
Acquired via: Mail-in
Years In Possession: 36

This figure was a bold departure from the color schemes they had been using on these guys. Up until now they had been all greens and browns and navy blues.  But this cat came kitted up in a bright, almost baby, blue dress uniform.

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But what really made him cool was that mirrored face plate.  Unfortunately, it was around this same time that scratch off lottery tickets and other “scratch off” items were getting popular and to my stupid 9 year old brain I thought OH SHIT I wonder if you can scratch that silver off and reveal his real face?  Dumbass.  So that’s why mine is missing some of the silver paint.  Spoilers: there’s nothing underneath it.

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You can also see this one has the chest emblem that was only available on the mail in version of the figure.  Later they did put this guy out as part of other sets and as a carded figure, but the chest logo was tightened up and looks a lot smoother.

I also discovered a bit of trivia while looking up the history of this figure.  This was the last Joe figure to be made with the “straight arm” design, after that all the figures changed over to the swivel arm battle grip.

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Another cool feature of this figure was a unique channel on his back where you could snap his gun in and have him carry it on his back.  Mine never really stayed in place, and was lost to the ages.

This is one of my most prized Joes, and is one of the more rare and valuable loose figures around.  There were a couple of times I nearly parted with this figure during a figure swap of some kind with my cousin who was also way into G.I. Joe (possibly even more than I was).  I was very lucky not to have let this one go.  And even though his face is marred, shockingly his thumbs are still solidly intact!

That’s going to do it for another edition of Fitz’s Toy Chest!  Thanks for reading.  Come back in 2 weeks for another trip to the 80s!

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Fitz’s Toy Chest #6 – Bossk

Welcome back guys to another random pull from Fitz’s Toy Chest!

Last time I put the spotlight on a Kenner Star Wars figure it was a mail away figure and this time I’m keeping with the same theme.

The Empire Strikes Back introduced not only the most famous Bounty Hunter in the Star Wars universe but gave us and entire TEAM of a intriguing characters in what was basically a throwaway moment aboard Vader’s Star Destroyer.

Out of that crew the coolest and more interesting member has to be Bossk (not counting Boba Fett obviously). And Kenner must’ve felt the same because not long after the new ESB line of figures came out they gave Bossk the distinct honor of being first mail in figure since Boba Fett.

I saved up my proofs of purchase, mailed them off, and anxiously awaiting the agonizing 8 weeks for delivery. And guess what? It never arrived.

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Bossk
Company: Kenner
Acquisition Year: 1980/81
Acquired via: Mail-in* (*special circumstances)
Years In Possession: 38

 

In today’s world of 1-click purchases on Amazon and 2 day shipping, it’s unthinkable that in 1980 you would literally put little pieces of cardboard in an envelope, address it, stamp it, and mail it, and then wait MONTHS to get your “free” figure.

But that’s exactly what I did.

Only my figure never showed up. I was crushed. What happened? Where was it? Was it ever going to come?

Weeks turned into months. By the time Christmas arrived that year I had given up on Bossk completely. It was so unfair. I did what they said. I mailed in my proofs of purchase and they stiffed me!

Then something amazing happened. When I was digging through my stocking I found….Bossk!!!

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Santa Claus sure was smart. He knew Kenner did me dirty and set things right.

It wasn’t until many years later that I put the pieces together and realized what had actually happened. And it was years after THAT (after I started to understand how cash strapped we were when I was growing up) that I understood WHY it happened that way.

Obviously that Bossk had been intercepted before I could find it in the mail, and it was the perfect way to pad Christmas without spending any additional money.

Anyway, onto the figure itself.

20180922_131001I was always fascinated by the shape of this fugure’s gun. Kenner reused a lot of weapons between different figures, for example X-wing Luke and Han shared the same gun, IG-88, Snowtrooper and Dengar all had weapons in common, hell even Boba Fett’s gun was just a repurposed Stormtrooper blaster.

It always stood out to me when a figure was given a unique weapon, and Bossk’s was definitely unusual.

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I also liked how the ESB bounty hunters were such a mishmash of other costumes. With Bossk it was the inclusion of the rebel pilot chest harness that captured my imagination. I’m not sure why but it looked very primitive and wild on him.

All in all, Bossk was one of my favorite action figures from the old Kenner line. He really stands out.

Well that’s all for this week gang, come back again in 2 short weeks for another dive into Fitz’s Toy Chest!

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Fitz’s Toy Chest: #4 – Anakin Skywalker

Welcome back to another edition of Fitz’s Toy Chest!

This week I’m going to take you back to the world of 80s Kenner Star Wars and share with you the very LAST figure in the original line that I ever purchased….

Anakin Skywalker
Company: Kenner
Acquisition Year: 1991/92
Acquired via: Purchase, Decades Of Toys
Years In Possession: 27

Yes you read that right, 1991/92.

But Fitz, wasn’t the original Kenner line defunct and totally out of stores by 1987?

You’re correct, it was.

By 1991 there was only one way to get your hands on Star Wars figures outside of the odd garage sale or flea market, and that was at a vintage toy store.

Before the very late 80s early 90s, there really was no such thing as a vintage toy store. You can practically thank the Kenner Star Wars toys for creating that niche business.

During my senior year of high school my friend Ken and I noticed a new store had opened up near the high school in the tiniest shithole building you could imagine. We saw it driving home one day and what grabbed our attention besides the garish yellow painted brick facade was the fact that out front the owner had set up some very familiar play sets.

“Is that the fucking Ewok Village?” I said in disbelief. It sure was.

The store was called Decades of Toys and it was a glorified hoarder’s basement.

When we finally went in there one day there was shit stacked EVERYWHERE. And nothing was even approaching “mint” condition. It literally felt like someone just gathered up all the old toys from everyone they grew up with and opened a store to sell them. I’ve since seen nicer flea market stalls.

But despite the thin film of grime and dust on everything, it was awesome to see so many vintage toys in one place. Not just Star Wars either, he had a little bit of everything.

The kind that owned the place looked like Doug Henning’s mildly retarded brother. Or a thinner version of the filmaker’s friend in American Movie. He didn’t say a word as we browsed around his shop, instead he just sat there grinning at us behind a pile of toys. It was pretty unsettling to be honest.

He had the gray trays from the old Star Wars vinyl collector case set out on a counter displaying loose figures for sale, and one caught my eye. It was one of the very few figures I never got my hands on.

It was Anakin Skywalker. The old man version from end of the original cut of Jedi. Sebastian Shaw was the actor. And I had to have it.

20180901_111426.jpgAnakin was orginally one the many mail away offers that Kenner had over the entire Star Wars run. It was a genius marketing tool that they basically invented out of necessity when the toys weren’t ready for Christmas ’77. The first mailaway figures were the ones that came in the famous “early bird” set. Of course my first mailaway opportunity was the famous (or infamous) rocket firing Boba Fett (which of course arrived minus the advertised rocket firing action). Every major expansion of the line had a mailaway offer. Star Wars had Fett, Empire had 4-LOM and Bossk, Jedi had Nien Numb and the Emperor. Mailaways were awesome. All you had to do was save up 5 proofs of purchase and mail them in and a short 6-8 weeks later BOOM a new figure showed up in the mailbox.

Anyway.

20180901_110629.jpgAnakin was one of, if not THE LAST, mailaway figure Kenner offered and for whatever reason I just wasn’t in a hurry to get him. I guess I thought there was plenty of time, and they always reissued the mailaways as a carded figure that you could buy in the store. But by the timr that happened for Anakin, the line was winding down and getting harder to find in stores (at least new figures and not the same peg warmers that were always available and would eventually be clearanced out).

So I never got him.

He wasn’t exactly the same white whale as say a Yak Face, but when I saw him there in Decades of Toys, I wasn’t about to pass him up.

I want to say he was maybe $6 at the time? Even carded figures back then were still incredibly cheap compared to 2018. He wasn’t carded but he was absolutely pristine. The plastic still had a glossiness to it.20180901_105036.jpg

Maybe a year later Doug Henning moved from one shithole across the street to an even shittier shithole, and that’s where he stayed until, shocker, his business folded by ’93.

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Well that’s all for this week, come back next time for another deep dive into a middle-age man-child’s happy place.  That didn’t come out right.  Come back in 2 weeks for another Fitz’s Toy Chest!