Tag Archives: Old Toys

Collecting King Kong: Toys & Games

Collecting King Kong Toys & Games

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

Collecting-king-kong-toys-RKO-puzzle
This 150 Piece jigsaw puzzle by RKO is extremely rare

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.

This item does show up from time to time on auction sites, and there’s one on eBay US right now —  Click here for current eBay auctions for King Kong 1933 RKO puzzle

I also found a very high-grade one available at GrandOldToys.com for $2,200.

1962 Marx Wind-Up Kong

Marx 1962 Robot King Kong

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.

I found this video on YouTube of him in action, courtesy of leadfiremech:

1964 Palmer Monsters King Kong

Collecting-king-kong-toys-Palmer-Monsters
Complete set of Palmer Plastics Unbreakable Movie Monsters

 

 

 

 

 

 

Palmer monsters were pretty rough around the edges; many collectors feel this only adds to their charm.

This 3-inch plastic figure was part of the eight-monster set, Palmer Plastics Unbreakable Movie Monsters

  • packaged as a set on a bubble card or on a plastic bag with header card.
  • Each figure was released in multiple colors.
  • Kong included a itybitty Fay Wray, which is usually only found in packaged sets today.

These are rare to find in packaging, but loose ones aren’t hard to come by; here’s the current auctions I found on eBay

1973 AHI Rubber King Kong

Collecting-King-Kong-AHI-Jiggler
AHI King Kong Jiggler 1973

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AHI had the Universal license in the 1970s but they also licensed King Kong from RKO and launched a couple of Kong toys as part of their monster line.

This rubber, non-posable wiggly toy was sold loose and tied to card.

Smaller version of this toy was released in 1979 by Vics.

This item isn’t hard to find loose and there; click here for current eBay auctions for this toy.

1974 AHI Bend ‘Ems King Kong  

King Kong AHI Bend Ems

Image courtesy Plaid Stallions

Standing 5″ and packaged in bubble cards, Super Monsters Bend ‘Ems were rubber toys with wire skeletons which allowed kids to pose them like action figures.

Click here for current auctions to this toy on eBay .

1976 AHI King Kong Squirt Gun

Collecting-King-Kong-toys-AHI-Squirt-gun
AHI KIng Kong Squirt Gun 1974

Technically, this toy probably counts more as merch for the Dino De Laurentis 1976 remake, but I’ll include it here with the rest of the 1970s AHI toys.

If you find this one carded, you’ve got a real gem — very few carded toys are known to exist, so time to check Uncle Steve’s, the retired ’70s rack toy distributor, attic!

Can’t find any current auctions on eBay for this one–if I do, I’ll be sure to update and add a link.  I did find one for sale (no price listed) on L&LCollectables.com.

A carded/sealed one recently sold on eBay for $263

AHI King Kong Little Walker Wind up 

Collecting-King-Kong-1933-Little-Walker-Windups
AHI Little Walkers Wind-up Monsters

3″ tall hard plastic toys w/built-in keys

Shoots sparks out of the mouth as he walks

These toys have been re-released over the years, so it’s important to ensure you’re paying for what you’re getting.

These guys often show up for auction in lots with other Little Walkers on eBay and other auction sites.

 Summary

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?

A Monster Kid Awakens….

Monster Kid Memories

Monster-Kid-Memories
Monster Toy Exhibit at Minnesota History Center

In the summer of 2014, my family visited the Minnesota History Center in St Paul. The museum has just kicked off an exhibit that I couldn’t wait to see called Toys of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. As we worked our way through the excellent exhibit, we arrived at the 1970s room and there– right in the center of it all — was my childhood on display. An entire section dedicated to monsters and superheroes. Aurora model kits, Mego action figures and Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine. I was immediately transported back in time; transfixed and flooded with memories that I hadn’t consciously recalled for decades.

My family was patient — and I finally continued through the rest of the exhibit, only to find myself drifting back through the crowd to the monster display. I’d be inclined to blame it on a mid-life crisis given my age, but I’ve been an active comic book collector for most of my adult life, so my passion for childish things wasn’t new– my wife was more than aware of it when she married me. No, it was the monsters. As much as I love superheroes and comics, I had forgotten the monsters. And for as long as I can remember, I’ve loved monsters.

When I got home that afternoon, I tracked down the collector whose toys were featured in this exhibit, and it turns out they belong to fellow Minnesotan, Dave Barnhill. According to his bio on his website SuperMonsterCity.com, “David’s collection now includes more than 200,000 items, making this Minnesota-based collection one of the largest private toy collections in America. Containing rare and highly sought after items representing toy-makers and monster creators from across the US and several foreign countries, David co-founded SuperMonster市 City! because he is eager to share his joy in toys, monsters, superheroes and villains with the world. I highly encourage checking out his site, specifically his Monster Toy Gallery.

And that’s all it took– George the Monster Kid had risen from the grave and my love of classic monsters was alive, ALIVE!