Greetings Retrojunkers, I’m Hoju Koolander. I found the site almost 5 years ago (with the classic look featured above) and have had so many great times sharing childhood memories, re-connecting with old friends and even going on a terribly awkward 1st date (and last) with a Retrojunkette. But over the last year life’s been so busy with promotions at work, getting married, having babies (yeah, all in one year) that I haven’t had much time for reflection on the simple days of youth. Today that changes.
See, my wife and I just moved into our first house and I’m pulling all my “Investments” out of storage. By “Investments” I mean old toys, comic books and other memorabilia I was led to believe would be valuable 20 years down the road. Now as we try to make space for all the “essentials” like baby cribs and lawnmowers, I’m forced to determine which “Investments” have actually gone up in value and which need to be sold off to pay the mortgage.
The bottom line is, I have a lot of stuff, which will likely cause this to be a 2-3 part series, so join me won’t you, as I sort through boxes filled with memories and dreams of financial gain. What items will continue to be cherished and which will be donated to thrift stores? Read on and find out!The Simpsons, Bartman Action Figure and Comics (1990)
When dysfunctional animated misfits The Simpsons appeared on the FOX network in 1989, they caused a line to be drawn in the sand. This line divided the “Cool Parents” who didn’t mind their kids spouting out phrases like, “Eat My Shorts” and the “Uptight Parents” that did not want their kids following Bart Simpson’s lead in adding, “Hell” and “Damn” to their vocabulary. My parents we’re more on the side of, “we don’t like it, but we’re not going to make your decisions for you”, which meant I was tuning in every Thursday night at 8pm to get my fix.
It didn’t take long before my 8 year old self quickly subscribed to Simpsons Illustrated (yes, they had a magazine), bought The Simpsons Sing the Blues audio cassette and filled many VHS tapes with the adventures of those silly Springfielders. The one thing I didn’t do was buy the toys. To be fair, the figures themselves were very true to the character designs, represented the whole family and had a neat, if pointless gimmick: Word Balloons. Each figure had 5 phrases that slid into a plastic word balloon that attached to the head of the character and then…well that’s about it.
Honestly, aside from their awesome video game (the arcade one, not the home console garbage), The Simpsons were not known for their awesome action sequences, so the figures bearing their likeness weren’t high on my list for play time. As much as I love crossovers, Spider-Man fighting a tubby 10 Year old with severe jaundice just didn’t seem like a fair fight. However, a figure of Bart’s alter-ego, Bartman going toe-to-toe with the Wall-Crawler certainly qualified it as a super-hero battle. But as you can see, Bartman never made it out of the box.
I actually bought the figure around 1994 from a comic book store and at that point it was already a “collectable” and as such could not be removed from the plastic. Instead of playing with it, I placed Bartman on the wall next to an issue of Simpsons Comics & Stories and a poster of his crossover with Radioactive Man. That being the case, I never made a lasting bond with the spikey-haired avenger, so he is our first casualty in this “Value War”. I’ve seen a similar carded Bartman priced at $50 on ebay, maybe I’ll offer this guy for $25 and see if anybody bites. If not, it’s off to the local used bookstore that actually has quite a collection of carded 90’s action figures on its shelves. Adios, El Barto….Batman Cape & Mask (1985/1992)
Growing up I enjoyed the exploits of Batman and friends on the Super Powers Saturday morning cartoon, reruns of the Adam West 60’s TV show and even more often, Batman meets Scooby-Doo! With so much exposure and so much imagination, it was just a matter of time before I wanted to BE Batman. Enter, the Batman cape.
This item is a classic example of 80’s dress-up sets where instead of emulating the costume at all, the manufacturer just slapped the logo or a photo of the character on the thing. Still I recall many days jumping all over the furniture clad in this powder blue beauty. I also recall owning a Superman cape, but it’s hard to say where that ended up. The other thing that’s awesome about this cape is that it’s roughly the same color as the Super Powers Batman action figure. I’ll definitely be hanging on to the cape for use by my son when he enters his Batman phase.
The mask you see is from the period of Batman Returns, although I couldn’t tell you where I got it or why I hung on to it all these years. It’s in fantastic condition for a 20 year old mask and looks like a creepy, albino Wolverine when you flip it around. Sadly though, I believe it’s time to part with this Bat-tastic piece of plastic. Speaking of Wolverine….
X-Men Danger Room Playsets (1991)
My first exposure to Marvel’s Mighty Mutants was the failed animated TV pilot “Pryde of the X-Men” that ran on the occasional Sunday morning (where old cartoons go to die) and shortly thereafter at the arcade, but I didn’t really take notice until the action figures came out. I recall the ads on the back of comic books announcing their arrival and once FOX premiered the animated series, there was no turning back.
The first wave of figures weren’t that great articulation-wise, but definitely a step up from the un-articulated Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars figures of the mid-80’s. My favorite was definitely Wolverine, with removable mask and popping claws, followed by Cyclops who won out purely because his visor looked like Robocop’s. This was a lucky coincidence as each of them had their own Danger Room playset.
Wolverine’s scenario seems to be “Escaping From A Truck Stop Bathroom After Magneto Has Locked You Both Inside”. There’s a claw-tap activated collapsing wall, the sphere of death from the Phantasm movies and the classic, shove your claws through Magneto’s guts to end this nightmare. The fact that you control the action with a rotating platform and joystick mechanism is just a bonus.
As cool as Wolverine is, I must say that Cyclops does a one-up on Logan with his “Blast the Crap Out of Everything” scenario. Seriously, Cyc splits a steel cube, keeps his hands guts-free by blasting Magneto from a distance and the coups de gras, collapsing wall! I rarely used the button device to break the bricks, I just launched the figures through it like so many panels from famous comic books.
Despite the praise I heap on these Danger Room playsets, I would be lying if I said I played with them often. I always felt confined having to stick to the tiny area they provided for the action. As anybody knows, comic book fights sprawl across miles of cityscape, leaving millions of dollars of damage in their wake and that’s how I liked to choreograph my action. So I’ll bag of the pieces and let a child with a less expansive imagination enjoy what fun they can offer. X-Men Action Figures (1991-1995)
Pictured above is maybe 2/3 of my X-Men figures, but you can only fit so many in a photo, y'know? Most of this collection was purchased at Target. You see, I was the kid that showed up at 10am the day after a shipment came in, hoping to get first crack at the new supply. I was an action figure junkie. But even after such extensive efforts a few like Beast, Morph and Rogue eluded me for many years, requiring multiple trips and phone calls to the local comic book store. Let's see who survives this battle.
As you can see, most of the Wolverine Squad went down in defeat. There were just too many variants of that guy to make him special. But I had to keep the original for the sake of sentimentality, the yellow and blue for articulation/playability and the Secret Wars versions, just to show how far the figures had come. The others who didn't make the cut were sent off to the "Genosha" Island of Misfit toys or Goodwill, yeah, probably Goodwill.
As for the survivors: Rogue & Gambit are a couple, Morph for rarity, Beast on sheer size, Cyclops because his visor still lights up and baddies Sabretooth & Apocalypse because these 2nd editions are way better designs than the originals. Plus, just look at the face on Apocalypse, that is NOT a guy you wanna mess with.
That's it for this installment. Like I said, way more to come. For now, why not let me know what part of your retro collections you've had to thin out in the last little bit. See you soon with part 2!