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REVIEW: Distressed Baby Sperel

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Background

It was way back in 2011 when I featured Orion Spellman’s (or Orion Sperelman) Sperel plush in a toy review. At the time, they were touting the “Save The Sperels” campaign…which went something like – “adopt one of these endangered Sperels and give it a good home”.

Well, those original Sperels appear to be entirely adopted out. And the last four years must have been filled with copious amounts of Sperel breeding (there’s no National Geographic footage of this, luckily), as Orion is back with a new line of Baby Sperels.

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The Baby Sperel plushie flock #002 consists of baby Sperels with three distinct personality types: Sadness, Distress, and Stubbornness. How can you tell which is which? Well, it’s all in the eyes. But be careful, because sadness and distress look very similar (there is a slight difference, though). We're looking at the Distressed Baby Sperel in this review.

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Measuring in at 6-inches in height, the babies are 3-inches shorter than the original. They’re also a little slimmer, as they haven’t hit Sperel puberty. And, of course, the wings are much larger.

Those wings can actually wrap around the Sperel, and there’s a button that will fasten the two wings together. So you have the option of either secure, pupal-like Sperel or his unfurled, bat-like brethren.

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My kids actually thought the Sperel plush was supposed to be a bat. It makes sense. The little blue guy with the crazy red hair looks like the lovechild of Skull the Troll (from Scott Kurtz’s PvP), a vampire bat, and a wild-haired troll doll.

All three personality types are available for $20.00 per plush. There are a few other purchasing options, including the Baby Sperel Duo that’s available for $38.00 ($19.00 per). And you can just pick up the entire Trio for $55.00 ($18.33 per).

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Also, the plush can stand on its’ own. That’s a plus for plush collectors who like to display their collection with some semblance of order. I’m not judging you if you have an Elliott in E.T. like pile of stuffed animals hidden away in your closet somewhere.

The Facts



Baby Sperel
Series: Plushie Flock #002
Artist: Orion Spellman
Material: Plush
Dimensions: 6-inches tall
Designs: Sad Baby Sperel; Distressed Baby Sperel; Stubborn Baby Sperel
Pricing: $20.00 each

You can pick one up at the following:

Sperel.org: $20.00 each ($38.00 for two; $55.00 for three)

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RETRO REVIEW: The Convertors

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As I’ve said before…the 1980’s were all about transformable robotic toys. Toys that transformed were to the 1980’s as boy bands were to the 1990’s. Unfortunately for the Convertors, they were the Color Me Badd of the transformable robot toy world. They played third (or maybe fourth) fiddle to the likes of the Transformers and the GoBots.

Several of the Convertors designs were molds licensed from Bandai. This is similar to what both the Transformers and GoBots (Machine Robo) lines did. And some of the figures looked eerily similar to each other. It’s as if all of these transformer robots were cousins…and your toy box played the role of family reunion.

Of course, there were several different Convertors series, with each one based on a central theme. You had the good guys – the Defenders and the Avarians – and the bad guys – the Maladroids and the Insectors. And while cars and planes always caught kids’ eyes…it was the randomly named Spies series that I was always a fan of.

The Convertors’ Spies series was released near the end of the line’s run. It’s as if people had a few ideas for random robots and just decided to throw them all into one series. That series included robots that would turn into things like a slot machine, roulette wheel, cash register, pinball machine, Colt .45 gun, camera, binoculars, and a cassette tape. I was able to find a pair of them – for a reasonable price - on eBay. Those two figures would be Bandit – the slot machine – and Vegas – the roulette wheel.

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I’m fairly certain that I owned both of these as a youngster. It’s what led to me running an illegal gambling ring out of my third grade art class. Both figures actually work. You pull down Bandit’s arm and the reel spins. There’s only about six or so possible outcomes, since there’s one reel (not three like on a regular slot machine) with a predetermined sticker attached to it. Vegas works a little better, since it’s mechanism includes a little bb pellet that falls into one of odd or even and red or black holes.

As far as robots go…they look a little awkward. But looking back, a number of these 1980’s Transformer-like lines had designs that were just plain ugly. Maybe it’s that we’re spoiled by today’s toy production. I’m sure I was probably astonished by how lifelike Kenner’s Han Solo action figure looked and moved. “Wow! It’s like he can draw his gun. Amazing!”

But then there’s the whole “Spies” concept. If there was an intergalactic war, and the robots you were depending on to save Earth thought the best shape to take was that of a slot machine or a roulette wheel…then we’re in some major trouble. Now, if there were an organized crime ring of 80-year old blue-haired grannies that had been running Atlantic City in the 1980’s…you’d probably call on the Convertors.

RETRO REVIEW: Rock Lords

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If there’s one thing that 1980’s toy culture taught us, it’s that you can pretty much turn any object into a transformable toy. We know of the vehicles. The Transformers. The GoBots. We even looked at a transformable Pepsi can (thanks Computer Warriors!). Heck…even McDonalds had a series of menu favorites that transformed into a robot. “Is that an awkwardly small Styrofoam box full of McDonald’s delicious Hot Cakes?”

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Well, it was around 1986 when the folks at Tonka decided to create a new spin-off series from their already popular (though not as popular as Transformers) GoBots line. They were known as the Rock Lords and featured a number of characters that transformed between robots and rocks. 1986 was also the year that Masters of the Universe gave us Stonedar – the Heroic Leader of the Rock People.

Apparently, kids around ’86 were consumed with rocks. I remember having a weird rock collection with things like sulfur and quartz glued to a piece of cardboard. They actually sold kids this stuff…and our parents bought it.

But what might have touched off the whole rock creature fad was the nightmare inducing children’s film – The NeverEnding Story. Weird shit came out of West Germany in the 1980’s (99 Luftballoons?), but there was nothing more devious than The NeverEnding Story. It’s the film that introduced youngsters to Rockbiters. They were basically cannibalistic – though they weren’t actually portrayed that way - rock men who ate rocks.

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Luckily, the Rock Lords didn’t exhibit any cannibalistic traits. They were just simple fighting robots that broke up into teams of good guys and bad guys. Each figure included a weapon and a little Rock Lord comic book. That’s something that a number of toy lines from the 80’s included…that lovely little comic book.

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The figure I picked up from eBay is a “Good Rock Warrior” named Granite. I was surprised by how well the figure had held up. While GoBots have clearly been surpassed toy-tech-wise, a company could fire up these old molds and likely sell Rock Lords today. And while you're likely not going to trick anyone into believing you just dug up that transformed Granite Rock Lord, it's not like you'd need to ask someone what this thing is.

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Looking at some of the other figures included in the line, I'd say that Granite is actually one of those who look the least like a Go-Bot. For example, check out Boulder on the above card. Now that guy has the Go-Bot jointed arms and a head that looks like a Go-Bot. So it's hard to believe that a series that had such different designs was bound for failure. They did produce three series of Rock Lords figures, which included Rockasaurs (some rock-robot-dinosaur things) and The Narlies (we have some old Troll doll hair? Okay!).

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REVIEW: Hot Toys’ The Winter Soldier

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I’m of the persuasion that the superior Marvel Studios produced films are those distributed by Disney. Part of it is that more of the characters I like are in those films. There are also less reboots. And I feel they do a much better job holding their segment of the Marvel Universe together cohesively.

It just so happened that my two favorite films from the Marvel Universe were both released in 2014 – Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. There were some stark contrasts between the two. Guardians had a good number of laughs in it…while The Winter Soldier felt like their first real traditional all-out “action film”.

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Like all of the Marvel superhero films, we’ve seen a large number of licensed toy products. One of those companies that consistently gives collectors high-quality 1/6th scale toys is Hot Toys. And Hot Toys released six toys based on the Captain America: The Winter Soldier. One of those, which we’re reviewing here thanks to Sideshow Collectibles, is the 1/6th scale Winter Soldier.

In the film, the Winter Soldier – formerly known as Bucky Barnes – was portrayed by actor Sebastian Stan. Now, Stan isn’t a household name with truly recognizable face, but it looks like Hot Toys has nailed the likeness. Actually, a pair of portraits are included here: one without a mask and with black around the eyes; one with the lower face mask and removable goggles.

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There are a number of accessories included as well…mostly weapons. You get three pistols (each can be holstered on his body), a submachine gun (can be holstered on his back), a machine gun, and a remote bomb launcher (those have to be in his hands). There are pouches for two daggers, a spike, and a pair of grenades. You also get nine interchangeable hands and a figure stand.

The clothing looks great, as well. He’s wearing a black, faux-leather jacket (minus one sleeve – so he can show off the bionic arm), black pants, and black boots. There are numerous straps and holsters twisting and turning around his waist and torso. I do appreciate it when you can actually display most of the included accessories with the figure. I’m not a huge fan of having to make decisions as to what accessories I pack back up in the box.

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So while there are a good deal of accessories and an alternate portrait, is it worth the $239.99 price tag? I’d say it’s on the higher side of Hot Toys’ 1/6th scale figures that don’t have something special (lights, diecast, large accessories, etc). Of course, it might just be that the high-end 1/6th scale market continues to creep up as far as pricing.

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I recently picked up the Sideshow Exclusive Marty McFly from Hot Toys. It was loaded with accessories – backpack, skateboard, Walkman, camcorder, sunglasses. The exclusive version even came with a 1/6th scale guitar. And it was priced at what I thought was a semi-reasonable $224.99. Even though I really want to like the figure, the skin tone makes young Michael J. Fox look like he’s severely ill (He has a dark tan look to him).

Why does a figure with a ton of accessories sell for $15 less than one with an average number? It definitely could be the clothing or the inclusion of an additional head. I’m sure Hot Toys has it down…or else they wouldn’t be in business as long as they have been.

The Facts



Winter Soldier
Series: Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Manufacturer: Hot Toys
Sculpted by: Kojun
Authorized Likeness: Sebastian Stan as The Winter Soldier
Material: Articulated plastic figure
Dimensions: 12-inches tall
Points of Articulation: Over 30 points
Outfit: Black leather-like top with embossed pattern; Pair of black pants with holster; Black belt with pouches; Pair of black boots
Accessories: Sculpted head with authorized likeness of Sebastian Stan; Interchangeable masked head; Pair of fists; Pair of relaxed hands; Pair of hands for holding weapons; Pair of open hands; Machine gun; Remote bomb launcher; Submachine gun; Spike with sheath; Two daggers; Two grenades; Three pistols; Pair of goggles; Figure stand with Winter Solider and movie logo
Pricing: $239.99

You can pick this figure up at the following:

Sideshow Collectibles: $239.99

Hot-Toys-Winter-Soldier-Grades

REVIEW: BusyBody

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In an age where your biggest home entertainment question revolves around whether or not you “cut the cord”, Eye Think Inc. has introduced a product that beckons from well before the analog era. Essentially a 3D zoetrope with a mirror at the center, the BusyBody features a mirrored turntable with ten bendable figures.

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We were sent a BusyBody to check out for this review. It’s made up of a large turntable with mirrors (ten in total) on all sides of the center pillar. In front of each mirror, there’s a small hole where the little blue bendable figures are inserted.

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You then pose each figure a little different from the previous one and spin the turntable. All you need to do is look at the mirror to see the animation you created. Check it out below.

The BusyBody clearly isn’t a collectible figure. You’re not going to set it on your shelf. But it is entertaining and you and/or the kids in your life will probably get a kick out of it. There’s also the ability to get multiple play opportunities out of the BusyBody. Just change the poses of those little blue guys a little and get an entirely new animation.

Eye Think Inc. currently has the BusyBody available to purchase for $24.95.

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RETRO REVIEW: The Saga of Crystar, Crystal Warrior

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It was way back in 1982, while Toto was singing about Rosanna Arquette and Olivia Newton-John was coaxing you to get Physical, that Remco released one of their best remembered lines – The Saga of Crystar, Crystal Warrior. The toy line was released a little before the 11-issue Marvel comic book series of the same name. That series included a few Marvel crossovers, including Nightcrawler.

With a background story that sounds eerily familiar to L. Ron Hubbard’s creation myth, it’s not a surprise that the world of Crystallium (that’s really the name of where the story takes place) and the battle between the Order and Chaos didn’t catch on with youngsters.

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I’m not sure why the line wasn’t more popular. Well…it might have something to do with going up against some new toy lines like Masters of the Universe, G.I. Joe, Return of the Jedi, etc. Plus, as you can see from the 1983 Sears Christmas Catalog, it’s not like the retailers were giving them much help. When your ad is basically space filler next to The Other World and Castle Zendo, it’s only a matter of time before you’re in the bargain bin at the local McCrory’s (I hope at least one person gets this reference).

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The series of figures featured the good – the Order – and the bad – the Chaos. The leaders were a pair of twin brothers – Crystar and Moltar. Crystar, the good one, appears to be made of crystal, while Moltar, the bad brother, looks like molten lava.

The figure I picked up from eBay is named Zardeth – the wizard leader of Chaos. He’s wearing a red tunic with a golden belt and a black mask/hat that covers his missing eyeball. The figure comes with a weapon, which appears to be a flail, and a little distorting looking glass.

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What I first noticed is that Zardeth features a Fu Manchu mustache in the comic – and it looks like that’s sculpted on the figure – but paint hasn’t been applied to said ‘stache. Also, it looks like someone at the factory was really lazy, because Zardeth’s eye is a single, tiny black dot. But it’s not like they were trying to skimp out, the figure has something not many 3 ¾” lines have – articulated knees.

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While I haven’t been able to find any information about it, I can only imagine that a few kids were likely injured by the evil wizard, Zardeth. His index fingers resemble daggers more than actual digits…and they damn well hurt if you get stuck with one. I’m surprised that this passed even the lax toy laws that were around back in the early 80’s. Lawn darts? Sounds like fun!

RETRO REVIEW: Computer Warriors

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The 1980’s were the heyday of transforming toys. Once the Transformers and Go-Bots hit it big, it felt like a dozen other transformable toy lines showed up on the shelves of your favorite toyshop.

Back in 1989, Mattel produced the Computer Warriors toy line. The series consisted of eight different transformable sets, from a small (plastic) soccer ball to a calculator to the splendid Pespi can shown above.

The storyline behind it goes something like: there was an accident with a secret government computer that created a wave of evil Virus troops that were able to hide in everyday objects. To combat the evil, the computer then generated the heroes – the Computer Warriors. And that’s how you get little guys covered in what appear to be circuits living inside of a can of cola.

The Pepsi can includes a little figure named Gridd. He’s a “Heroic Mechanic Specialist”. Well, a heroic mechanic and an electrical engineer. “Cloned from a quantum mechanics program, he understands everything there is to know about the mechanics of any object.” Wait a second! This is just the reverse plot of the original Tron movie. The programs are invading the real world.

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Gridd comes with a “hyper hoverjet” that features guns and bombs. The wings fold up so that it can be concealed in his Earthly home – that can of Pepsi. The sides on the plastic can come down when you press on the top tab. This lets you gander at the inner working of a can of “Pepsi. A Generation Ahead”. (That was the 1989 slogan…they went back to “The Choice of a New Generation the next year)

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I was fairly impressed with whatever glue Mattel used for all of the stickers. Over 26 years old and they stuck to the plastic like they hadn’t been sitting in some dude’s garage for the past two decades. I’m pretty sure that’s where they were.

The figure line has held up pretty well. Over the last few years, transforming toys have become en vogue again. You have figures that have no real reason for being able to turn into something else – I’m talking about you, you creepy TMNT Mutations. Heck, there are even plush toys that now transform. 

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And while this specific transformable Pepsi can might not look like it could fool many people...I'm guessing that some kids probably used it to play a trick or two on their unsuspecting grandparents. These kids and their new generation...

REVIEW: Carbonation Toys’ FizzKids

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It all started when a 53’ trailer carrying 1,800 cases of canned soda pop was headed south on Bubble Blvd. and the driver lost control, crashing into Plush and Lush Toy Company.

But what has the town talking is what happened to the toys. Residents report that — miraculously — the formerly soft, cuddly stuffed animals appear to have transformed.

According to Carbonation Toys, this is the creation story for their FizzKids line. The FizzKids is a series of six solid vinyl figures. Each one is contained within its own aluminum can style packaging. 

The can is about the size of your favorite carbonated beverage. It features a little pop cap on the top as well as nutritional facts on the cardboard tube can. Inside of the can exterior, there’s a clear plastic capsule where the figure resides. It’s one of the more unique packaging designs that I’ve seen over the past 10 years of reviewing toys.

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There are six different figures in the FizzKids Series 1. Each figure/character has it’s own corresponding carbonated beverage flavor. There’s Alien Limeade (Alien), Bone Crusher Root Beer (Boy), Cranked Cola (Cat), Rummy Cola (Rat), Vicious Dog Sparkling Water (Dog), and Zombie Juice (Zombie).

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I like the variety that Carbonation Toys has chosen for this series: Cat, Dog, Rat, Zombie, Human, and Alien. (The standouts – in my opinion – are the Cat and the creepy little kid) But I also like that the sculpts are so varied. Maybe it’s that I’m so used to seeing platform toys in this scale.

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One thing about the sculpting…the figures are static…err…lacking any articulation. So the line is more for display than playing with. I would try to find some way to display the figure with the packaging, since I feel that’s what makes the FizzKids so unique. Without the soda can…they’re just any other collectible. But that can is what gives the line such a great backstory.

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Things to look out for: On a few of the figures, I did notice that some of the paint rubbed off against the sides of the capsule. You can see the impact on the nose of the Vicious Dog Sparkling Water.

The Facts



FizzKids
Manufacturer: Carbonation Toys
Material: Solid plastic
Dimensions: Between 3” and 4” tall
Points of Articulation: Zero
Designs: Alien Limeade (Alien); Bone Crusher Root Beer (Boy); Cranked Cola (Cat); Rummy Cola (Rat); Vicious Dog Sparkling Water (Dog); Zombie Juice (Zombie)
Pricing: $14.99 each ($80.95 set)

You can pick them up at the following:

CarbonationToys.com: $14.99 each ($80.95 for the set of 6)

Fizz-Kids-Grades

 

REVIEW: Doc Savage – Double Danger Deluxe Version

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‘The Man of Bronze’ - Doc Savage was created by publisher Henry W. Ralston and editor John L. Nanovic at Street and Smith Publications, with additional works by Lester Dent. Doc’s popularity transcended the pulps moving into radio, comic books, and a feature film. Doc has been interpreted by some of the greatest artists. This beloved adventurer is considered to be the model for the ‘super hero’ with his strength, intelligence, speed, physique, and wealth – he even has a ‘Fortress of Solitude’. The name Doc Savage is synonymous with courage, danger, and adventure - remaining a heroic pop-culture icon to this day.

The Doc Savage 1/6th scale collectible figure comes from Go Hero and Executive Replicas. This is one of several collaborations that the two companies have worked on in the past or are working on into the future. The Doc Savage figure is available in two different versions: the Silver Age version and the Go Hero Exclusive Double Danger Deluxe version. For this review, I’ll be looking at the Double Danger Deluxe (DDD).

Not knowing much about Doc Savage, I had to do some research. I wasn’t surprised to find out that one of the professions of this fictional character was that of a doctor. But I was a little surprised that he wasn’t at all related to ‘The Macho Man’... Fans of the character will be delighted to know that this is the first time the good Doc has been made available as a 1/6th scale figure. 

The DDD version of Doc Savage has a few extras. The most noticeable is that you get an alternate likeness – the wavy-haired Golden Age likeness head. In addition to that, there’s a shirt that’s not ripped (the ripped one is standard), and you get an additional weapon – the Golden Age Art Deco Style Raygun 2.

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Speaking of those weapons, all four are die-cast metal. They’re very solid (heavy) and give the figure that high-class feel. One thing you’ll need to look out for. Since those guns do weigh more than a plastic, watch out for the wrist joints. More than once, I found that the weight of the gun was enough to give good old Doc Savage a wrist sprain…so I had to mess around with the wrist joint to ward off limp wrists. But you have a number of options on just how you want to equip the figure for display.

Price-wise, this falls in to where the high-end 1/6th scale market has gone recently. The days of the $99 high-end 1/6th scale figures are over. Most of that is because those old high-end figures look a little ugly compared to the current crop of high-end stuff. The sculpting’s better now. The paintwork is better now. Even the clothing is better now. For example, Doc Savage’s shirt actually has little buttons and buttonholes. It’s a pain in the ass to get him dressed (try using tweezers), but it makes for a more realistic end-product.

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So I guess the big question is whether or not you go with the Silver Age Version or Go Hero’s DDD Exclusive. Personally, I’m a fan of the gruff, weathered looking Doc Savage. His Golden Age look reminds me of Super-Man or a half dozen other “good guys” from that age of comic books. Like he spent too much time in front of the mirror doing his hair. The Silver Age Doc looks like he probably got into a bar fight sometime within the past week. He likely ate beef jerky for lunch. And he’s probably yelled at the neighborhood kids for playing wiffle ball in his front yard, more than once.

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The Facts



1/6th Scale Doc Savage
Manufacturer: Go Hero x Executive Replicas
Material: PVC and ABS plastic
Dimensions: 1/6th scale – 12” tall
Points of Articulation: Over 40 points
Designs: Double Danger Deluxe (DDD) Go Hero Exclusive and Silver Age Version
Outfit: Leather Belt w/ Buckle; Leather Holster w/ Buckle; Leather Boots w/ Zipper; Pair of Socks; Ripped Shirt (Weathered); Un-Ripped Shirt (Weathered) (DDD Exclusive); Jodhpurs
Accessories: Silver Age Likeness head; Golden Age Likeness head (DDD Exclusive); 4 interchangeable hands; Super Savage Machine Pistol by Jim Steranko (w/ Moveable Grip and 2 Detachable Clips); Silver Age Style Raygun; Golden Age Art Deco Style Raygun 2 (DDD Exclusive); German Lugar; Figure Stand w/ printed logo
Edition Size: DDD - 250; Silver Age – Max 250
Pricing: DDD- $249.99; Silver Age - $209.99

To pick one up for yourself, check out the following:

GoHero.com: Double Danger Deluxe - $249.99; Silver Age - $209.99

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RETRO REVIEW: Roy Rogers gives you the Snorks

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Apparently, back in 1988, the Roy Rogers restaurant chain was looking to compete with McDonalds by trying to outdo their Happy Meal toy lineup. Since picky little kids really drove parents fast food choices, it was often up to what chain had the best toy that specific week.

But in 1988, Roy Rogers decided to give away figurines based on the Hanna-Barbera cartoon - Snorks. The 3-inch tall Snorks figurines that Roy Rogers gave away were actually produced by Schleich. And Schlech is a German toy company that’s still around today (and still releasing new Smurfs toys).

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Growing up in Pennsylvania, I was able to partake in the Roy Rogers’ menu once or twice as a child. And since these toys are really all that’s memorable about the restaurant – I guess the fact that it was named after an old western film star made it unique – that might have something to do with why the chain never made it past the mid-Atlantic.

The Snorks cartoon series originally ran from 1984 to 1989. While there were hopes that it would rival The Smurfs in popularity, it never achieved that type of success. The two cartoons had a number of the same voice artists, editors, and producers. This likely led folks to think what I thought as a kid – “the Snorks are the underwater Smurfs”.

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Roy Rogers got in on the tail end of the Snorks bandwagon. The restaurant included a number of the most popular characters. I’ve seen Allstar, Dimmy, Casey and Tooter available around eBay. And each character has various poses or activities they’re involved in. Most of the figures usually sell right around $10.00.

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The Snorks figure I picked up goes by the name of Tooter. Surprisingly enough…it’s not because he has irritable bowel syndrome. Tooter can only communicate with toots and beeps. It was a wonderful use of voice actor Frank Welker’s talents. This is a guy who’s also voiced roles such as Fred (Scooby-Doo), Jabberjaw, Megatron (Transformers), and Doctor Claw (Inspector Gadget).

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While Allstar was the main character, I always felt that Tooter was the comic relief on the show. He was clearly modeled after Harpo Marx, who usually communicated using a horn or whistling in film. He also had the wild hairstyle similar to the second oldest Marx brother.

The Tooter figurine appears ready to go hiking. I’m pretty sure that might not go so well…since he lives underwater. The lone articulation is that Tooter’s “snorkel” has a wire armature in it…allowing itself to bend. Imagine all of the phallic jokes that were made at this little guy’s expense. And just for imagining that…you will now be forced to listen to the Snorks theme song.