Collecting the Rondo Awards 2015 Best Toy Category – Part 9
Sputnik Supplies Ro-Boy Vinyl Figure
It seems I’ve been exploring the intersection of iconic monsters and horrible movies in recent posts. In last week’s Classic Movie Poster post, I profiled 1958’s Attack of the 50 Foot Woman – a bad movie with an iconic and timeless poster.
As we continue to review 2014 Rondo Awards nominees for Best Toy/Model/Collectible, today’s featured collectible certainly fits the bill for iconic monster/bad movie as we take a look at Sputnik Supplies original creation Ro-Boy.
Ro-Boy is a unique blend of the classic Big Boy restaurant mascot
with the infamous Ro-Man Extension XJ-2 from the campy, not-so-classic 1953 B-movie Robot Monster:
Sputnik Supplies is the brainchild of artist Paul Schiola who explains the inspiration behind his creations as:
“My love for vinyl toys and sculpting led me in a direction where I could meld the two and produce a truly collectible toy…make small runs of cool, unique and truly collectible vinyl-like toys; each one is an individual work of art and is always handmade by me here in the U.S.A.”
Ro-Man Extension XJ-2is the titular monster and/or alien from The Robot Monster, a film with such a low budget that they used a gorilla suit because they didn’t have the budget for a full robot suit.
It’s worth noting that the lack of budget and resulting gorilla/robot mash-up is the singular reason this film remains in the popular culture–it certainly isn’t the movie itself!
Paul offers these limited edition figures @ $85 which includes shipping.
I love this figure. Of all the nominees in the Rondo Awards category for Best Toy/Model/Collectible, it the only original creation.
While I love licensed merchandise, and am awed by the incredible life-like detail of many models, maquettes and even action figures of today, there is something magical about the discovery of a toy that isn’t from a movie, comic or TV show.
As a kid, it always felt like discovering something uniquely mine. Obviously, a mass-produced plastic toy wasn’t uniquely mine, but the feeling was pure and joyful just the same. I think it is one of the original draws I felt to monsters and genre movies in general– the fantastic and original creations of the artists and filmmakers were magical to me and, I suspect, most other monster kids.
I really appreciate that, while inspired by a rather infamous movie monster/alien, Ro-Boy is a creation of the artist’s imagination–and a hand-painted, handmade one at that.
The price point is steep, as it is for most of the nominees in this category. But, given that this is really a work of pop culture art and is clearly NOT a toy, I’m okay with $85. I imagine that price will only go up once Sputnik Supply sells the original inventory and it winds up on the secondary market.
The Robot Monster
Speaking of the movie that inspired Ro-Boy, I watched it last night on Amazon Prime as I was drafting this article. Honestly, I can’t say for sure if I had ever seen this film in its entirety.
My thoughts? This movie is so bad it’s good! It’s not going on my list of favorite films anytime soon, and I love 1950s B-movie SciFi camp. If you haven’t seen it, it really is good fun and worth a little over an hour of your time.
You can stream it for free with an Amazon Prime membership: (click image to watch movie)
or you can watch it for free onYouTube:
So what do you think of Ro-Boy? Any Sputnik Supplies aficionados out there? And The Robot Monster? Share your opinions about this movie and the collectible toy it inspired below!
Collecting the Rondo Awards 2015 Best Toy Category – Part 8
Jakks Pacific 4o” Godzilla Toy
It’s Monday and that means it’s time for another entry in my continuing series profiling all the nominees in the 2015 Rondo Awards. With the one-year anniversary of Legends Godzilla, or Godzilla 2014 as it’s become known, hitting the theaters, we’re taking a look at the Jakks Pacific company’s 40″ Godzilla toy figure.
This blog is about collecting classic monsters and Godzilla is as classic as they come. We can – and should– have lots of discussion about whether or not Godzilla 2014 is a classic movie. I know Godzilla fans on both sides of that line. While a new film like Legendary’s 2014 Godzilla will have supporters and detractors, there is no arguing that the monster itself is a classic — even if we disagree on whether the film is. I, for one, liked the movie and am excited about the sequel.
What makes a monster classic?
One point I want to make very clear to my readers, classic is not the same as vintage. So I will frequently cover new and modern collectibles in this blog as is clearly the case with this entire series about Rondo nominees since they were all released in 2014. I do, however, draw a line in terms of what is considered classic. For purposes of scope, I consider Alien a classic. And Jaws. I believe new classic monsters are being created all the time, although time is exactly what determines a classic.
Monsters that stand the test of time — and survive reimagining and reboots, both good and bad, are a major determinate of a character’s legacy. For Monster Kids, there is probably less disagreement about whether Dracula Untold was a good reboot than if Godzilla 2014 was. Although Toho’s announcement that they are getting back into the Godzilla movie business further fuels this debate.
Finally, there are plenty of classic monsters from not-so-classic films. Many of the 1950s horror and sci fi films will never show up on the best movies ever made list, but for genre fans like myself, the monsters make the movies. We appreciate a bit of camp and understand the impact of low-budgets– none of which make a film a classic for our purposes.
NOT classic monsters:
I don’t consider serial killers/slashers classic monsters –even with supernatural overtones like Freddy and Jason, and I won’t cover those characters here. Clearly they’ve stood the test of time and are being rebooted by the movie making machine. Plenty will disagree with me but my blog, my rules. Now that that’s clear….back to our regularly scheduled broadcast!
Jakks 40″ Godzilla
Two points to make on this one:
1. This is a toy.
The category is called “Best Toy, Model, Collectible” and the nominees represented all three of those sub-categories quite well. Frankly, it’s hard to compare a $200 limited edition maquette to a $10 toy on similar merits and I’d like to see the Rondo Awards merchandise categories expanded so that we can vote for like products in similar categories rather than make contrived comparisons. This Godzilla figure may be collectible, but it is first and foremost a toy. My 8 year old son loves to play with this guy. He’s not getting anywhere near my limited edition collectibles but this one is built for roughhousing. I’m sure he looks great on a collector’s shelf as well, but I like seeing him stomping lego sets and other action figures in my son’s room. He’s also fairly priced at $50.
2. This is a HUGE toy.
We all no that Godzilla has gotten bigger with passing decades in the movies and this is one big toy. At 3.5 feet long and 2 feet high, he dominates the play room. As the King of the Monsters should!
3.5 feet in length
2 feet in height
12 points of articulation
Here’s a comprehensive video review go this toy by The Review Spot – you can visit their Youtube channel here.
Where to Buy Jakks Pacific 40″ Godzilla
While originally a Toys-R-Us exclusive, this toy is easy to find at local big box stores as wells on-line:
Godzilla is one of the most-merchandised of all the classic monsters. There are collectors who focus not just on Big-G, but on specific lines like X-Plus. Godzilla is one of my favorite monsters and I love the Toho films. My favorites are from the Showa era simply because those were the movies I saw growing up. Sure, they were aimed at kids and more than a little campy, but that’s part of their appeal. I enjoy watching these with my kids who also love them.
I am glad that we have a new updated Godzilla series that, in my opinion, has remained true in spirit to the original Toho films. It’s not a guy in a suit stomping on model cities, but it honors the original story, captures some of the Godzilla as “terrible defender” story lines from my favorite era, and introduced the King of the Monsters to a new generation of movie goers.
Time will tell if Godzilla 2014 is a classic, but there is no debate that this classic monster continues to be loved by collectors and kids alike.
So, in honor of the one-year anniversary of Godzilla, tonight we’ll sit back and watch this new-classic monster movie as a family and have fun — because, to me, that is what classic monster movies are all about.
Click the image below to watch it on Amazon Instant Video:
Collecting the Rondo Awards 2015 Best Toy Category – Part 7
Distinctive Dummies Boris Karloff as Fu Manchu Mego-style Figure
This week’s entry in my continuing series profiling all the nominees in the 2015 Rondo Awards takes us out of the classic horror genre and into classic adventure with Boris Karloff as the notorious Dr. Fu Manchu.
The first thing to note of this figure is it’s terrific resemblance to Boris in his role as Fu Manchu. Compare the figure above to this image of Karloff as Dr. Fu Manchu that I found for sale on Amazon:
While I would like to have this figure with the infamous doctor’s smile on his face, I can’t find any real flaws in the sculpt.
Distinctive Dummies creates numbered Limited Edition, retro styled 8″ inch action figures in the retro Mego-style. The Mego Corporation was a toy company that dominated the action figure toy market during most of the 1970s. Responsible for such great 8″ Action Figures as The Mad Monsters, World Greatest Superheroes, Wizard of Oz and Planet of the Apes to name a few. Distinctive Dummies also has a line of 12 inch figures.
Distinctive Dummies makes Mego-style figures and, just in case anyone reading this is unfamiliar with Mego or the Mego style figure, it’s time to do your homework. The first and last stop for all-things-Mego on the web is the site Megomuseum.com — here’s a link to their post on the Boris Karloff as Fu Manchu figure.
The Mego Museum Facebook page is a great place to keep up on ‘real’ Mego figures as well as companies releasing new retro-style figures in the Mego tradition.
Where to Buy Distinctive Dummies Karloff Fu Manchu Figure
I’ve never really considered Fu Manchu movies to be in the horror genre, so I’m glad this one didn’t win the Best Toy/Model/Collectible category in this year’s Rondo Awards. All three of the other figures in this collection from Distinctive Dummies are from truly classic horror films, and I could see myself voting for the Morgan figure in next year’s awards given the high quality and terrific likeness to Karloff that the previous three figures have had.
I grew up with Mego and they remain some of my favorite toys ever. I’m glad to see so much activity from current companies making retro style figures in the Mego-style. While these are clearly collectibles and not toys (I’m not giving my 8 year old son an $80 action figure anyway), the deep genre focus of these limited edition items are great for collectors of classic monsters.
Keep up the great work Distinctive Dummies and we’ll keep buying!
Collecting the Rondo Awards 2015 Best Toy Category – Part 5
Frankenstein Christmas Ornament by Hallmark
Happy Frankenstein Friday all you Classic Monster Collectors! This is the fifth installment in my review of the 2015 Rondo Awards Best Toy / Model / Collectible category nominees.
Today, we’ll take a look at a rather curious item, the Frankenstein’s Monster Christmas Ornament from Hallmark.
What makes today’s nominee curious is simply the combination of the character, the Frankenstein Monster, with the product category, a Christmas ornament.
In previous installments of this series, we’ve reviewed the 2015 winner, the Creature action figure, as well as some beautiful (but expensive) maquettes for Lily Munster and Forry Ackerman. Action figures and maquettes are highly collectible and I have a good deal of experience in both of these categories.
When it came time to prepare for this article, however, I was left staring at the page simply because collecting Christmas ornaments is outside my range of experience. Who is the collector of this type of figure. A Frankenstein completist would certainly want this. I can even see a Universal Monsters collector having this. But what about Christmas ornament collectors? Do people specifically collect character ornaments? Do these items appreciate in value? In my experience, I’ve learned that there are collectors for just about everything ever made, so
My family celebrates Christmas with gusto. My wife and kids and I love the annual tradition of selecting our white pine and decorating it with the multitude of ornaments we’ve collected over the years. You heard right, ornaments we’ve collected. Growing up, my siblings and I always got a Christmas ornament for Christmas.
At some point, probably the early 1980s, these ornaments became pop culture characters and were dated with the year. I have a Darth Vader, X-Wing Fighter, Incredible Hulk and many others that represent whatever I was interested in at the time. While we don’t display these ornaments year-round like I do other collectibles, these ornaments are an important part of our annual holiday tradition. Each Christmas, I unpack and hang these ornaments from my youth with my children. Many of these ornaments are stored in their original boxes with date marked on them.
Without even realizing it, I am a Christmas ornament collector.
2.23″ W x 4.76″ H x 2.28″ D
Here’s a great video review of the 2014 “Hallmark Horror” Collection from Cannibal Reviews. The Frankenstein ornament is reviewed first, but it’s worth watching the whole video as the other ornaments are of interest to classic monster collectors as well:
Clearly Hallmark is targeting the collector market by dating each of their ornaments and encouraging a “gotta have this year’s” mentality. Because these items are limited in their production, they may actually see some appreciation over time.
My research for the “Where to buy’ section below already reflects the reseller inflation on sites like eBay where this item is listed in the $25 range. Given that this is a seasonal item and was released just last year, however, means there are plenty of these on clearance this time of year. I found it for 50% of MSRP on Hallmarks’ website (link included below) and plenty of deals to be found on ebay and Amazon (links below).
One of the most attractive aspects of this item is the combination of the high-quality sculpt and paint with a very budget-friendly price point. This would look great as part of a larger Frankenstein -themed collection, but I’m also intrigued with the idea of a shelf of genre character ornaments as it’s own sub-category of my broader collection given the quality and range of Hallmark’s offerings. I’ll be keeping an eye out for their 2015 holiday collection and be sure to update you on any items of interest to classic monster collectors!
Where to Find the Frankenstein Ornament by Hallmark
In the process of writing this review, I learned a few things:
Without even knowing it, I am a Christmas ornament collector.
Just because an item is sold as a Christmas ornament, doesn’t mean it has to be packed away in storage 11 months out of the year.
Hallmark is creating a genre-fan’s smorgasbord of ornaments worth the attention of classic monster collectors.
I think we might start a new tradition this Halloween — a Halloween tree complete with monster and character ornaments! At first, I thought this was going to be a very short profile of this item because I didn’t really know what I was going to write. That’s the beauty of writing – and collecting — you never know what you’ve been missing and, if you’re open to it, you just might stumble on to a new favorite.
Love to hear from you guys out there — are ornaments part of your classic monster collection? How do you display them?
2 variations: Toys R Us exclusive (simpler, above-water base) and Deluxe variant available through Previews to Collectible Stores (underwater base)
Retail Price: $24.99
Deluxe display base
Features a skeleton and an undersea rock formation:
Select-style display packaging with spine artwork:
This one got my vote in this year’s Rondo Awards, if only because I love all-things “Creach.” Regardless of my personal bias, Diamond Select continues to up their A-game with their outstanding collection of the Universal Monster action figures at quite reasonable prices.
It’s a win-win for modern toy collectors of classic monsters. Here’s a well-done video review from Outside the Box Reviews highlighting this action figure in great detail. Check out their Youtube Channel for more reviews like this one:
Being a new action figure, and not a limited edition piece like some of the other nominees, the Creature is readily available at your favorite collectible or toy shop. I included links and current pricing to some of the shops I am an affiliate for below:
Of course, you can also buy this right from Diamond Select for retail price of $24.99
Congratulations to Diamond Select and Jean St. Jean on winning the 2015 Rondo Award for Best Toy– this is an outstanding modern toy of one of the most classic monsters and I’m thrilled to have this in my Creature Collection.
I’ll continue to profile this year’s nominees for Best Toy in my next post — did you vote for this one? If not, which one got your ballot? Share in the comments below.
Where to Buy Rondo Awards 2015 Best Toy, Model, Collectible Nominees
Legends of Cthulhu Action Figures by Warpo Toys
Legends of Cthulhu is the first retro-styled Cthulhu action figure line. Using a discipline of method manufacturing with distinct artisanal, collectible quality, Warpo makes new vintage treasures for retro toy aficionados, by retro toy aficionados. Each figure stands 3.75” tall, has 5 points of articulation, and comes with character-appropriate accessories. Figures will come packaged in a nostalgic, Kickstarter-exclusive blister-card, featuring original paintings by artist Ken Kelly.
Sculpted by Eddy Mosqueda
Retail Price: $20 Each
Warpo Toys launched with a Kickstarter campaign to fund this awesome line of retro-style action figures.
When it comes to classic monster toys, King Kong wasn’t a tier-one classic monster property. While the “unholy quintet” of Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula, Wolf Man, the Creature and the Mummy win in terms of the pure quantity or toys and merchandise, Kong is certainly in the top 10 most licensed (and unlicensed) monster toys. Collecting King Kong toys and games from the 1933 film seems like a good place to start given the impact this movie had on my becoming a Monster Kid
This post focuses on the 1933 King Kong and does not include licensed merchandise from the 1976 or 2005 remakes. As a 1970s monster kid, most of my Kong stuff was from the Dino De Laurentiis remake, and I plan to cover merchandise from both remakes in future posts.
King Kong is one of the earliest movies to have licensed kids merchandise, and certainly the first monster movie. Given the age of the film, high-grade examples toys from the 1933 are extremely rare and, as a result, quite valuable.
1933 RKO Jigsaw Puzzle
This puzzle was produced as a promo piece by RKO and included in the film’s press book, which was sent to movie theaters and included lobby cards, movie posters and other ephemera theater owners could order to promote upcoming releases. Theater managers had two options for ordering these puzzles:
1. They could purchase 100 puzzles for $6 (6 cents a piece).
2. (1) puzzle free with purchase of $1 worth of film promo merchandise.
Since this was during the Great Depression, most theater owners probably stuck to their basics and ordered posters and other tried-and-true film mercy. The rarity of this item can most likely be attributed to the simple fact that very few theater owners purchased them. Today, this item is so rare, complete puzzles demand prices over $2,000.
As with most 1960s King Kong toys, this was part of a classic monster collection and one of the first of what would become a monster toy explosion in the 1960s. Along with the Yeti, King Kong was a plush over a tin mechanical skeleton.
These are highlights of some of collectors’ favorites, and only a representative selection of the wide variety of King Kong toys over the years. The variety is pretty amazing, from quirky to classic, and a testament to the timelessness of the character. Everyone knows King Kong. For many kids, even today, he is the first classic monster they are exposed to. These toys, and the many others not included here, are central to many classic monster collections — like mine.
I’d love to here from other “Kong Kollectors” — what toys are your favorites? What’s highest on your Want List?
Any article about collecting King Kong 1933 merchandise has to include these influential monster models from Aurora Plastics. Collecting King Kong Aurora Models is often the highlight of any King Kong collection.
It’s hard to think of any one thing that had as great an impact on the 1960s monster mania as Aurora Plastic Corporation’s monster model kits. The triumverate of Shock Theatre, Famous Monsters of Filmland and Aurora’s line of monster models almost certainly combined to create an entire generation of Monster Kids, who were lucky enough to be pre-teens in the early 1960s.
I didn’t come along until 1966, but I can relate to those Boomer kids, as I shared their wide-eyed wonder when I discovered the 1970 re-issues of these Aurora kits on the store shelves. For many, collecting classic monsters starts–and in all reality, could stop– with Aurora model kits.
King Kong wasn’t in the very first set of kits released. Kong made his debut, along with Godzilla and the Hunchback of Notre Dame, in 1963 and was an instant commercial and monster kid favorite, despite some serious scale issues (palm trees hit Kong in the ankles and Fay Wray was about knee-high).
The following is a complete listing of Aurora’s King Kong models and variations:
This book is a must-have for monster model kit collectors, and a good read for any monster kid who simply wants to learn more about these influential collectibles on the 1960s/70s monster craze.
While I’d love to see an updated edition (2nd edition was released in 2006) it has an excellent Kit Directory categorizing every kit and variation and providing useful detail to help in identifying the age / value of kits you are considering buying. This exhaustive catalog of every make/model is useful and timeless. For collectors, the price range to buy these kits today may be slightly dated, but the information on determining the age of the model kit is extremely useful when considering a purchase.