20th Century Toy Collector

Illusion is the Ultimate Weapon!

Archive for June, 2012

Toy ads from the 1980′s (Part 4) – M.A.S.K.

Work has been a stressful and bloody mess this week, so last Friday night I decided to unwind a little bit. I opened up a bottle of Heineken beer (well, several bottles..), went up to my collection room and pulled up my collection of vintage toy store catalogs and advertisements from the 1980′s. Much better! Staring at all that 1980′s goodness really manages to relax me and puts a smile on my face. In the past couple of posts in this series I’ve already looked at Transformers and Masters of the Universe. Tonight I felt like looking at another legendary 1980′s toy line…. none other than Mobile Armored Strike Kommand, a.k.a. M.A.S.K.

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“Illusion is the ultimate weapon!”

M.A.S.K. arrived in Dutch toy stores somewhere during the Spring of 1986 and it was distributed here by Kenner Parker Benelux B.V. I remember it well. I was in fifth grade back then and I had already completely fallen in love with the excellent M.A.S.K. cartoon by DIC, which had been showing since late 1985 or early 1986 on pan-European satellite channel Sky Channel, during its weekly Fun Factory kids programming block on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

From June 1986, the M.A.S.K. cartoon was also being broadcast on Dutch national television by public broadcaster TROS, this time dubbed in Dutch! The series was broadcast every Monday at 5 PM and the first episode was show on June 2nd, 1986. The episode broadcast that day in Dutch was episode 35 from season 1, which was originally titled “In Dutch”. Not really a surprise that TROS chose that episode as the first in their series, because it’s an episode that takes place in the Netherlands where VENOM tries to destroy the famous Dutch dikes.

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M.A.S.K. cartoon – Veronica TV guide (2 June 1986)

 

“Muh-muh-muh-M.A.S.K.!”

After Mattel’s Masters of the Universe and MB/Hasbro’s Transformers, Kenner’s M.A.S.K. was yet another bullseye in my book. Awesome, awesome, awesome! Just check out the incredibly cool M.A.S.K. intro theme :

M.A.S.K. intro (1985) DIC Enterprises, Inc.

OMFG! Does that bring you back? Good! Now that you’re in the mood let’s have a look at some of the M.A.S.K. toy ads that I found!

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M.A.S.K. – Vedes Sinterklaas catalog (1986)

Above is a page from the Dutch Vedes catalog that was released in late 1986. We can see Rhino, Vampire, Thunderhawk, Jackhammer and Gator here. All the vehicles are displayed in their alternate action mode. Damn, I so wanted to have Rhino when I was kid, but it was just way too expensive.

“Speelboom”

Next up is another Dutch M.A.S.K. ad. It’s from the Speelboom club magazine issue #5, also from December 1986. I remember this particular ad very well. Speelboom was a chain of toy stores in the 1970′s, 80′s and 90′s. In 1986 Speelboom launched the Speelboom Club. Kids could become members of this club and in return you would get a special club card, a freebie on your birthday and you’d get the Speelboom Club magazine in the mail every 2 or 3 months. I remember me and some of my friends and class mates becoming members in 1986.

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M.A.S.K. – Speelboom Club Journaal #5 (1986)

Again an action scene with Thunderhawk and Rhino taking center stage. But this time we can also see Miles Mayhem’s Switchblade! The helicopter that changes into an airplane and back! Also pictured are Condor and Piranha. If I could pick just two M.A.S.K. vehicles they would definitely be Rhino and Switchblade.

“Le M.A.S.K.”

From around the same time here’s a photo of Switchblade, Rhino and Jackhammer from a French Christmas toy catalog from 1986. This is from a 2-page spread that also features Robo Machines, Transformers and loads of other transforming stuff (I’ll feature the page in its entirety in a future post).

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M.A.S.K. – Noël 1986 catalog

The cool thing about these pages is that they show transformable toys in both of their modes, with a little orange arrow pointing from one mode to the other. You can also see Rhino here in vehicle mode. What an absolutely stunning toy! Another thing I also liked about M.A.S.K. is the scale of the toys. They were big!

“M.A.S.K. Costume”

So check this thing out. Yeah, it’s a bona fide M.A.S.K. costume!! I found it in the same French X-Mas catalog from 1986.

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M.A.S.K. Costume – Noël 1986 catalog

I just love stumbling upon shit like this while I’m browsing these 80′s toy catalogs! What you have here is a custome, a laser gun and a Matt Trakker’s Ultra Flash mask! But that’s not all. While I was browsing another French toy catalog a couple of minutes later, I found this:

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M.A.S.K. Costume – Printemps catalog (1986)

Yeah boy! It’s a kid wearing the actual custome! LOL. What a blast. This photo is from the 1986 Printemps toy catalog. Printemps is a French department store and this particular catalog is different in the way that it shows only one item per page. There’s another cool page in there with a photo of Thunderhawk taken from the side.

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M.A.S.K. Thunderhawk – Printemps catalog (1986)

“Bart Smit”

The next M.A.S.K. advert I found was from the Dutch 1988 Bart Smit catalog that was released late 1988. It showcases the action figures that were being sold in two-packs on blister cards. It also shows Raven (series 2), Manta and Meteor (series 3) and T-Bob and Scott! Contrary to the American release, where T-Bob and Scott were released on a blister card, in Europe they came inside a box!

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M.A.S.K. – Bart Smit catalog (Nov 1988)

“Split Seconds”

The last ad I was able to find is from late 1989. It’s another Bart Smit catalog and this one shows a couple of toys from the last series of the M.A.S.K. line. In the US, the 4th and last series was marketed under the name M.A.S.K. Split Seconds. It was called that way, because the vehicle would split into two different vehicles. In Europe, the Split Seconds series was simply marketed under the name M.A.S.K. and released in the same style packaging as the first three series.

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M.A.S.K. – Bart Smit catalog (Nov 1989)

What we find on this page is Jackal (called Barracuda in the U.S.), Fireforce and what is my personal favourite of the Split Seconds line: Stiletto! Also, as you can see M.A.S.K. action figures were still available on blister cards, with two figures on the card. Shown here are Matt Trakker and Jacques LeFleur. These were European exclusive releases.

“More to Come”

With 1989 we’ve reached the end of the 1980s and also the end of this toy store catalog post. But not to fear, more toy store catalog posts to come in the future so stay tuned! :-)

 

 

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posted by 20th Century Toy Collector in M.A.S.K.,Toy Store Catalogs and have Comments (5)

Transformers G1 – Runabout (1986)

I guess every vintage toy collector has a soft spot for at least one or two items, which are generally deemed as “uncool” by most fellow collectors. Yes, I’m talking about the shelf warmers here. The unpopular. The shunned… The shameful. The toys that remained on toy store shelves for a long long time, because nobody wanted them. Looking back at the early G1 (Generation 1) Transformers toy line there are certainly several items that are considered, erm, less desirable to put it euphemistically. The Jumpstarters immediately spring to mind …

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The shame… the shame…

“Guilty Pleasure”

My specific guilty pleasure is what could be considered the reincarnation of the Jumpstarters. Yes, I am talking about the Battlechargers Runabout and Runamuck (*hangs head in shame*). The reason for this anomaly is pretty simple. When I was a kid I remember buying Runabout in my local toy store somewhere in late 1986 or early 1987.

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Transformers – Runamuck and Runabout – from a Dutch toy store catalog (1986)

So who is this Runabout then? Well, Runabout is a Decepticon Battlecharger that was released in both North America and in Europe in 1986. Yeah, it’s one of those pull-back motor thingies. If Runabout is in car mode he will automatically transform into robot mode if you pull back and release. Check the dazzlingly awesome transformation illustration on the packaging below.

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Transformers –  Runabout (1986)

Cool, right? Well, a little bit… To tell you the truth I was never really fond of these G1 Transformers with pull back motors. In order to be able to transform automatically their transformations were usually relatively simple. Also there was no way to really play with the toy the way I wanted to, because pulling the car back would always inevitably trigger the motor mechanism whether I wanted to or not. This limited the way you could play with the toy, especially in car mode.

“Cash = Transformers”

Still, I have a soft spot for Runabout, because it was a Transformer that I owned when I was a kid. Like I said I still remember buying Runabout in late 1986 or early 1987 at my local toy store. One good day somewhere in the second half of the 1980s’s I found 25 guilders just lying on the pavement  (the guilder was the awesome Dutch currency we used to have in the Netherlands, before we got the Euro ;-) and I just couldn’t believe my luck. So, of course I did what I always did when I came across some serious cash in those days, which was usually only around birthdays or the festive season, and that was to speed off to my local toy store to buy Transformers!! Really, that’s how my brain worked when I was a kid. Cash equals Transformers. (My girlfriend would argue that my brain still works like this today, even though I am a grown man now.)

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Transformers – Runabout (1986)

“Real life vehicle”

Anyway, I remember staring at the Transformers available at my local toy store that day and I ultimately went with Runabout, because he most resembled a cool car in his alternate mode. It was around this time that most of the new Transformers coming out changed into futuristic space vehicles and such, which did not really tickle my fancy. I preferred the early Transformers that turned into real life vehicles or real life objects and Runabout was one of the very few Transformers on offer at that moment that still fit that category. I remember both Runabout and Runamuck were available and it was tough to decide which one to buy, but I ultimately went with Runabout, because he was black and looked just a tad cooler than the all white Runamuck.

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Transformers – Runabout (1986) back of card

“European release”

As I mentioned above, Runabout was released in 1986 and is also one of the first Transformers that was not originally meant for the Diaclone line, but made specifically for Hasbro’s Transformers line (most of the early G1 Transformers were actually released earlier under the name Diaclone or Microchange by Japanese toy maker Takara).

As with most of the other toy lines from my youth, I try to collect the locally released (European) versions of the toys, because that’s how the toys came here in the Netherlands and that’s also how I remember them. It took me quite a while to find a MOSC (mint on sealed card) Runabout on a European cardback, but I finally stumbled upon a very nice specimen in excellent condition late last year in Germany and scored it for a ridiculously low sum. Good times!

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Transformers – Runabout (1986) tech specs

“Nostalgia”

I guess what was also part of Runabout’s appeal to me was the awesome colour scheme of red and black, which makes him look pretty menacing. And he looks just fantastic inside the early G1 style blister packaging :

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Transformers – Runabout (1986)

It’s funny what nostalgia can do to you. Even though Runabout is not exactly what you would call an immensely popular G1 bot, it holds a special place in my heart and I enjoy having this item in my collection immensely. (Now if only I could find a MOSC Runamuck on a European cardback that would really make my month!)

Runabout (1986)

Transformers - Runabout (1986)

posted by 20th Century Toy Collector in Transformers and have Comments (5)

Spotlight Update

Hi! Just a quick update today. As I promised in my previous post I’ve updated my Collection Spotlight widget. That’s the widget that you see at the top right of every page on my blog. It shows a random item from my collection every time you load a page. Previously, if you clicked on the photo thumbnail you would be taken to a larger version of the photo. That was kinda boring. From now on you will be taken to the corresponding database entry from my toy collection.

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Toys, toys, toys!!!

You still get to see a larger version of the photo, but you will also see additional information about the item which is very interesting if you’re as obsessive and anal about this type of stuff as I am. ;-) There are currently 65 items in the database, which is just part of my collection. I will continue to add new items as I go along and when I do they will automatically qualify to appear as a random item in the Spotlight widget. The items will be added in no particular order.

As soon as my database is fully populated I will create a page that will allow you direct access to all items. And below I’ve also included a couple of direct links to some of the items. Enjoy!

Bravestarr - Handlebar (1987)

Bravestarr - Handlebar (1987)

Dia Attacker (1984)

Diaclone - Dia Attacker (1984)

Transformers - Red Alert (1986)

Transformers - Red Alert (1986)

Batman Animated Series - Batmobile (1992)

Batman Animated Series - Batmobile (1992)

Wheeled Warriors - K.O. Kruiser (1985)

Wheeled Warriors - K.O. Kruiser (1985)

posted by 20th Century Toy Collector in Site stuff and have Comments (4)

My Toy Collection Database (update)

Whenever you’re serious about collecting something (anything) and you stick to it, chances are that one day you’ll end up with a sizeable collection, which can create several challenges. One of these is that you can have so much stuff that it’s hard to keep track of everything. Another is that your collection becomes an investment. It represents an investment of time and money and if you collect vintage stuff the monetary value of your collection can easily become something you cannot ignore. Vintage toy collections can easily represent values of thousands and even tens of thousands of euros/dollars (and beyond!)

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Expensive… :-)

When you reach that point it is probably wise that you start thinking about taking out an insurance on your collection. What if your house burns down one day? Your regular contents insurance is probably not going to cover the complete value of your collection, especially if it’s worth more than a couple of thousand euros. Yeah, it’s not something you’d like to think about and most of us would rather keep our collections instead of getting the monetary equivalent in case of a disaster, but if it does happen, at least you’ll have that.

“Peace of Mind”

In most countries you’ll be able to insure your vintage toy collection. You will probably have to contact your insurance company to work something out, because most of them do not offer specific vintage toy collection insurance products (although some might, depending on where you live, google around!). One thing that will definitely help you out when trying to insure your collection is to have a comprehensive record of all your acquisitions. By that I mean records of the payments that you made for all your items (e.g. PayPal records), where you got the items from, photographs of the items etc. This will act as proof and will help immensely in allowing the insurance company to determine an accurate value of your collection.

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You can keep those records in any way you want as long as they are easily accessible. A spreadsheet application like Excel on Windows or Numbers on Mac OS X is a very good tool, but you could even use something like Notepad. It doesn’t really matter. As long as you have some records that can be traced back to your acquisitions.

“Keeping Track”

I’ve been keeping records meticulously for several years now. I’ve kept all the emails that have anything to do with my acquisitions and the price I paid for these (eBay emails, PayPal emails, communications with sellers) and I have been registering all this info in a spreadsheet on my computer. As you may be well aware I have also made numerous photographs of most items in my collection, which can be found throughout this website. Incurance companies love that stuff. The more evidence you have that you own something and what you paid for it, the more forthcoming they will be in selling you an insurance for your collection. It saves them the hassle of trying to determine the value of your collection (which is often not their field of expertise) and works in your favour, because you’ll be able to insure your collection at precise value and will give you peace of mind.

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“Caveats”

Here’s some extra important information you should be aware of, which was kindly supplied by readers of this post in the comments section. First of all, make sure that you know how much your insurance company is going to pay you if and when disaster should strike. A lot of insurance policies assume you have objects in your house that depreciate in value, i.e. they become worth less and less as time goes by. That goes for a lot of things like your TV, your computer, your furniture, you name it. Most items that you buy will depreciate in value over time and insurance companies will often pay you either the original price you paid, or, if the item has depreciated to below a certain threshold of its original price (like e,g, 40%) they will only pay you the current value and not the price originally paid!

Vintage toy collections can put everything upside down. Vintage toys will sometimes not depreciate, but appreciate in value as time goes by! There are numerous objects in my collection which are now worth waaaay more than what they were when they were on sale originally and some even more than what I paid for just a few years ago. So make sure you know what you’re insured against. The price you paid, the original price (which can sometimes be hard to determine) or the current market value. Some insurance policies will pay out the price you paid or the market value if that can be determined, but you will either need proof of payment or an expert appraisal. As far as proof of payment is concerned, make sure you agree as what constitutes as proof of payment. Do you need an official invoice, is a printout of the eBay auction and an accompanying PayPal statement or credit card statement enough? The devil is in the details, and oftentimes the fine print will be ambiguous. Also, if you do try and get an appraisal, evaluation/taxation for your collection, make sure your insurance company recognizes the person or company doing the valuation as qualified to do so.

Two more great tips: Instead of just making photos of the individual items in your collection, also be sure to make photos of your collection as a whole, so that you have actual proof you actualy own all that stuff and that it’s in your house. Even better, whip out your iPhone or Android smartphone and make a video! Film the inside of your house, walk into the room where you keep your collection and film every item. Lots of people have smartphones or tablets these days and you can be done in a couple of minutes, so there’s really no excuse. Whether disaster strikes or not, you will also have a nice video keep sake of your collection that you can hopefully look back at in the distant future.

The second tip is regarding your records. Make sure you have a copy/backup of your records off site somewhere. If a Boeing 747 lands on your house, chances are your computer and all the records you spent hours and hours compiling will be destroyed as well! Not good. There are various easy ways to keep an offsite copy. An easy way is to have some sort of cloud storage like e.g. Dropbox that keeps a synchronized copy of your data in the cloud. If you have a database, chances are it’s hosted somewhere. Don’t assume your hosting provider has a perfect backup in place and make regular dumps/exports of your database and preferrably, find some way to automate that procedure.

Thanks to argus and Zenith for these tips!

“New Year’s Resolutions”

Now it’s time to come clean. Our current insurance policy only covers a fraction of  the amount I have invested in my collection. Also, despite the fact that I have been keeping records in a spreadsheet, I have not been keeping them in a structured or organized manner. That’s my bad. I can probably calculate the total value from my spreadsheet, but the information is not recorded in such a fashion that allows me to easily calculate the total value. Also, I have been seriously slacking off when it came to recording my acquisitions in the past twelve months. Yeah… Not so meticulous as I had lead you to believe. Not even that, but I also still have not taken out an insurance specifically for my vintage toy collection. If my house burns down, if there’s water damage, if it gets stolen I will probably only end up with just a fraction of its current worth from my insurance company. I’m sure some of you reading this are in the same boat as I am….

At the beginning of this year I made a promise to myself to make 2012 the year where I straighten this shit out. I set myself to the task to of re-recording each and every item that I have in my collection, make new photos, record the prices paid, proof of payments etc. This time, though, I would not use a spreadsheet application, but record everything in a database. If you’re not technically inclined, a database is more or less a spreadsheet on steroids. It’s probably the best way to keep records of information of any kind (although you can do a lot with spreadsheets as well if you’re a power user). I’m an IT techie, so I was fortunate enough to be able to create a database scheme and populate it with all my collection records without anyone’s help. I’m currently about half way photographing all the items in my collection and importing them into the database, adding all the necessary info like item name, year of release, price paid, etc. etc.

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So what’s this to you? Well first of all, if you’re a collector to whom all this stuff applies as well I hope to have a least inspired you to undertake similiar steps in getting your collection organized and insured. The second reason is that while I was spending countless of man hours recording information about my collection I thought it would be a great idea to share at least parts of the info I have recorded about my collection on my website. I know I love browsing through people’s vintage toy collections online and I would love it if someone got that same kick from browsing through my collection. Although some of the info in my database I like to keep private (price paid, name of the seller etc) there’s still a lot of info in there that would be nice to share like the photographs of the items themselves, year of release, production/catalog numbers, names of distributors etc. That’s why I have decided to unlock parts of my database to the visitors of this website.

“Programming, Programming, Programming…”

Besides the countless hours I have invested in photographing and recording my collection items I have also spent way too much of my spare time in programming a public front end to my collection database. For the techies among you, the database is a mySQL instance with a PHP interface that I programmed to serve the data in HTML form. I plan to release the data in three phases. The first phase will go live as of today and will allow me to link to specific items in my collection database. Basically this means that whenever I do a blog post on a certain item in my collection I will add a link to the corresponding database entry in the form of a button that you can click on. Here’s an example:

Marshal Bravestarr (1987)

If you click on the button above you will be taken to the actual database record of the Marshal Bravestarr action figure in my collection. Cool, huh? :-) The second phase of this project will involve an update of the “Spotlight” widget on my site. As regular visitors will know there’s a widget at the top of every page on my site that shows a random item from my collection each time you visit a page on my site. Currently this just links to a photo of the item being shown. The second phase will go into effect as soon as I have 50 items in my database which are properly tagged with meta data. From that moment on the Spotlight widget will link to the actual database entry of the item being shown. This means that whenever you click on a Spotlight item you will be taken directly to the database record of said item.

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That’s all and well, but the most interesting thing will be when I reach the third and last phase, which is when all my collection items have been recorded in the database. At that point I will attempt to program a front end that will allow you direct access to all the items in my collection instead of just random items. I plan to create a portal that will list all the toy lines I have in my collection. When you select a toy line you will be able to browse each and every item I have of said toy line, i.e. my complete collection will be browsable online.

“Beta”

Things are very much in an experimental phase right now, so don’t be surprised if something goes wrong or some data is incorrect. Also, programming for all the different browsers out there is still a pain in the ass (Internet Explorer, I’m looking at you). The collection pages should look fine on browsers like Firefox, Safari, Chrome and on mobile browsers like Safari on iOS. Internet Explorer currently has some issues rendering some of the fonts correctly, which I hope to solve in the near future. I will also continue to polish the program code and add more info as I progress, like comments, catalog photos of items and anything else that I think is interesting to share.

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I will keep you updated with my progress and I will also report my experiences in trying to deal with insurance companies in my quest to insure my collection. I hope that some of this info will come in handy for some of you and that it might help you in your endeavours to get your collection insured. Peace of mind is worth a lot these days. If you have any questions or suggestions just leave them in the comments section or email me directly. Happy collecting!

 

posted by 20th Century Toy Collector in Site stuff and have Comments (7)