20th Century Toy Collector

Illusion is the Ultimate Weapon!

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The 1980s had the Best Toys!

Every generation will look back with fondness at their childhood. For me -and I will wager for the majority of the male audience visiting this website- the decade called the 1980s was the decennium where most of our childhood years were spent…. and that was an awesome time to be alive and growing up! I was born in 1975, so for me the 1980s started when I was almost 5 and they ended when I was almost 15. Those are very important and formative years for a boy growing up. The 1980s had some of the coolest toys and cartoons ever!

Orko says hi!

“1980s rule!”

Yeah, I know that’s a bold claim and some will say that every generation will say the same about their childhood decade(s). But there really is something different about the 1980s and I think I can back that up with facts. The 1980s were the decade where some of the most classic toy lines were launched. Some of these have seen numerous reissues and relaunches since then and some of them still exist to this day!!! The 1980s were also the first decade where toy based cartoon series exploded onto our television screens!!

Your childhood says hi!

While pessimists might claim that these cartoons were nothing more than 30 minute advertisements for the toy lines they were based on, the kids of the 1980s will tell you a whole different story!!


Allow me the priviledge to step on my soap box and to be so bold as to represent a whole generation of kids worldwide, who grew up in the 1980s, whether they grew up in Europe, the Americas or Asia….. These cartoons and toys were a fucking blast! They have stimulated our imaginations like nothing else and for some of us they still resonate profoundly in our adult lives and still fill our lives with pleasure! Hands up all of you who consider Optimus Prime a personal hero. Hands up all of you who got all choked up inside when Optimus Prime died in the 1986 Transformers Movie. Hands up all of you who still get goose bumps every now and then when He-Man holds up his magic sword and says “By the Power of Grayskull!”. Hands up all of you who think the intro theme to the M.A.S.K. cartoon is one of the coolest pieces of music written evah!! :-)

Yo Joe!!

“The 1980s are still rockin’!”

I guess some sceptics might still claim that the 1980s are nothing different from the decades before and the decades after. Well, I beg to differ. Let’s have an objective look at some of the 1980s properties that are still alive today, shall we? The Transformers exploded onto an unsuspecting planet in 1984 and have remained with us ever since! The toy line just never stopped and kept being reinvented and has recently reached new levels of awesomeness in the 21st century with three major motion pictures and no end in sight yet!!! Next up: G.I. Joe! In the 1980s Hasbro relaunched their G.I. Joe line and it became a major, major hit worldwide. Again, today we still have G.I. Joe toys being released and two succesful blockbuster motion pictures!


But those are not the only 1980s properties that saw re-releases or re-issues. How about the numerous Masters of the Universe re-issues and relaunches over the years and the MOTU Classics line still going strong? How about the Inspector Gadget movies? How about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles revival around the corner? How about the Battle Beasts trademark being brought back by Diamond Select Toys and Takara gearing up to release the true successor to the Battle Beasts line: Beast Saga! There’s probably loads more examples you could come up with.

Kick ass packaging design

“Wonder, magic and adventure”

That’s one of the many reasons I like to collect vintage toys from the 1980s. They’re so frickin’ cool! Another reason is that it recaptures some of the enthousiasm and joy that I felt when I was a kid. I would certainly not want to give you the impression that I don’t feel joy and enthousiasm in my adult life, far from it. But there’s just something about that sense of wonder, magic and adventure that you would feel as a kid that rarely happens anymore in your adult life. Coming home and opening a package that arrived from the US, the UK, France, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands or any other place on this planet makes my heart beat faster and I feel like I’m 10 years old and it’s my birthday when I’m tearing the package open! And that’s a good thing if you ask me.

My childhood friends!

Thank you for allowing me to get all emotional on you and to indulge in a little personal nostalgia here. I’ll step off my soapbox now. Normal blogging will resume shortly. ;-) I’ve added a lot of goodies to my collection in the past few weeks that I hope to feature here as soon as I can get them photographed.




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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.

“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.

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



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!

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.


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.

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).

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.

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:

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.

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!

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.

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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