The Letter that was smuggled to the Moon and back – but did not sell

An auction of this letter just failed to reach its minimum of 22,000 Euro (almost $25,000).  The astronauts of Apollo 15 Davis Scott, Alfred Worden and James Irwin took 100 letters to the moon and back and then sold them to a dealer in Germany. The whole matter was not authorized and created a scandal.  The FBI visited the stamp dealer in Germany and the 3 astronauts were barred from flying again. We know where one of the letters is, but where are the other 99 and how much do you think these are worth?

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How did they get it back on Earth? Apollo-15 was fished out of the ocean. Quite amazing!

Also, the choice of stamp is a little off, as Apollo-11 came before them!

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From Marvel to Marbles to Mar-Vell to Ms.: The Crazy History of Captain Marvel

Captian Marvel

captain marvel

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

The early audience reviews for the new Captain Marvel film were not very good. In fact, they pretty much trashed the movie. The problem was, those reviews came out before the film was even released, trolling fueled by… who even knows anymore? Something to do with the character suddenly being a woman, right? We live in weird times.

Once the movie finally hit theaters, critics and fans agreed it actually was pretty darn good and lots of fun. The retro ‘90s theme was a hit with audiences (just wait til Wonder Woman’s 1984 era movie comes out!), and Brie Larson nails the performance. So in the end, she triumphed.

captain marvelBut, come to think of it, when did Captain Marvel become a woman? Wasn’t she a guy in a live action TV show back in the ‘70s? He drove around the country in a Winnebago with a kid and guy who looked like a cross between Pat Morita and Stan Lee, right? Turns out this superhero has a way more convoluted backstory than you may have remembered.

captain marvelOf course it makes sense that Captain Marvel would have been created in 1967 by Stan Lee of…. wait for it… MARVEL Comics. Except, the character was actually named “Captain Mar-Vell” because the “Captain Marvel” name was already taken by another comic book publisher. A publisher that had been defunct for a decade and a half. Oh, and Captain Marvel was a man back then, so your memory is correct. Partly anyway.

See, there was an earlier character named “Captain Marvel” who appeared in various titles from Fawcett Comics from 1940 to 1953. That early date puts him right on par with the earliest superheroes, such as Batman, Superman, and Captain America, who first arrived in the late 1930s and early ’40s. And that was the start of his problems.

captain marvel

Nothing at all similar between these two comics, right?

Fawcett unfortunately went out of business in 1953 after a copyright infringement suit involving the character. Not from Marvel, but from National Comics. Apparently they felt this caped, flying strongman was a little too similar to their character Superman. Wait, what? Yep, DC Comics was actually known as National Comics back then and sued over a character named after another comic book company that actually had yet to be named similarly to that character, but who subsequently named their new character after themselves. Did I mention this stuff is convoluted?

captain marvel hoppyBefore the lawsuit was settled, Fawcett really hunkered down on the character, creating Captain Marvel Jr., Mary Marvel, Uncle Marvel, Grandpa Marvel, and Hoppy the Marvel Bunny. (One of those characters I just made up. If you guessed Grandpa Marvel, you are correct. Yep, Hoppy actually existed. And I thought we were living in weird times today…)

Meanwhile, in 1953, issue #4 of MAD ran the story of Superduperman, featuring a nod to his lawsuit against Captain Marbles. MAD would of course eventually become part of the DC empire. (I am not making any of this up so far, aside from Grandpa Marvel. Seriously.)

captain marvelSpeaking of DC, they eventually acquired the rights to Fawcett’s Captain Marvel character and decided he had a lot of potential to expand the brand. Of course, with that name, he would be likely expanding the brand of their biggest competitor, so they gave him a new backstory and a catchy new title (but not a new name). The first issue of Shazam! was released by DC in 1973, complete with the subtitle, “The Original Captain Marvel.” So, naturally, there was another lawsuit. The producers of Gomer Pyle USMC sued over the “Shazam” catchphrase (okay, I made that up too, but honestly, at this point, it sounded believable, right?). No, of course it was Marvel Comics who sued DC over the name and the character. So the tagline was changed to “The World’s Mightiest Mortal.” And by the time it hit TV, people just kind of assumed that “Shazam” was the character’s name.

Got all that? Okay, back to Captain Marvel. The one from Marvel. The one named “Mar-Vell.” The one from the new movie. Yeah, her. Him. Let’s go back in time a bit… Captain Mar-Vell, a flying alien superhero from another planet (man, that sounds familiar), took off on his own in the late ‘60s. Turns out he shared molecules with a kid named Rick Jones, and only one could exist in the world at a time, so they flip-flopped between the two identities. If that sounds familiar (it probably doesn’t but…) that was almost word for word the origin story of the original Fawcett character.

captain marvel

Ironically, while DC’s Shazam! was becoming popular with comic fans and TV viewers, readers didn’t really dig Marvel’s Marvel, so the character was killed off in the 1970s. And then revived several times since, as various male and female characters, most with the last name “Vell.” At one point he was resurrected long enough to die again in an explosion where his DNA was mixed with his cohort, USAF Officer Carol Danvers. So Danvers acquired super powers and of course became… Ms. Marvel. And then she eventually just took on the Captain Marvel name. At various times over the last couple of decades Ms./Captain Marvel has starred in her own standalone comics, made guest appearances in other stories, and has been part of the Avengers. So if you’ve been paying attention and weren’t confused by everything that happened before, all of this should make sense.

captain marvel

So yeah, now there’s a Captain Marvel movie, and the character is a woman, and it’s a pretty dang good movie, and you should see it despite what the trolls tried to tell you. And you’re going to love her cat Goose.

captain marvel

By the way, DC is releasing a Shazam! movie later this year. It looks like a fun, goofy, good time at the cinema. No word on whether he’s called “Captain Marvel” anytime in the flick. Let’s hope not. That could get confusing.

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When Collectible Websites die – does the Data die too?

Musings By Joschik
Christian Braun obsesses over collectibles, antiques and toys more than the average person, but (he believes) in a productive way. Documenting collectibles has been a passion since working on a book about his favorite childhood toys from Timpo 38 years ago.

Recently I came across a website that had an extensive list of good Matchbox resources, and as we are currently working on adding a bunch of Matchbox information to the database, I checked the links and was shocked to realize that 30 of the 32 links on the page were dead!

Matchbox Links - Now Mostly Dead

It made me ponder about how the internet made preserving the history for what I refer to as “mankind’s lesser achievements”  – not the politicians and big historical events but the smaller things such as a 1920s made Teddy Bear or an 1870s Cork Screw  –   much more difficult.

For contrast here is the first book project I was involved in, a catalog of Siku models  –

My brother wrote this Modellauto Katalog Siku in 1987 and I provided some help. While I would not claim it is very good by today’s standard there were lots sold at the time and you can, therefore, find this book every now and then on various online sites (side note: if you add it to your Wishlist on hobbyDB you’ll get a notification when it comes up for sale).

However, in the last ten years, the internet has replaced collector magazines and price guide books (I saw earlier today that Krause Publications with its about 4,000 collectible book titles entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this month). And while the internet has enhanced the hobby in many ways, it also made information created and curated by collectors much more unstable!  You will always be able to buy a book that is out of print but I personally have frequently visited more than 100 sites that no longer exist!, for example, was a great site to find the work of a Martyn Rigby who had painstakingly scanned instructions for Model Kits and I was initially afraid that all of that work was probably lost.  There was nothing, not even on the laudable Wacky Internet Archive!  Luckily I heard from Martyn after publishing this post – he now has a new website, you can find all the instructions again on (so at least one happy end here!).

The hobbyDB team has made it its mission to preserve this information, as it often cannot be recreated anymore.  We are actively reaching out to current and past “site authors” (we prefer site author to site owner).  Here some examples  –

Hugada was built by two Individuals over a period of almost 20 years and included more than 60,000 video games.  When one of the two lost interest and the other got married it was all going to disappear on some back-up drive.  They provided us with the raw data and now that information is coming back on hobbyDB for the world to enjoy.

Gary Hirst had one of the best collections on fringe subjects such as Brazilian made Corgi Juniors.  When he tragically died way too early, his fiance worked with us to preserve all the data from, the website he worked on for more than 10 years (with all items that were added showing Gary as the creator of each of these catalog entry).

As part of our mission to document every collectible ever made and being a natural extension to Wikipedia (they have one page on the Hard Rock Cafe, we have more than 85,000 pages on Hard Rock Cafe glasses, magnets, pins and other merchandise) we have vowed to always keep access to the data for free (our Manifesto).  And to secure the future of the catalog, we run a marketplace that allows us to earn income in order to pay for maintaining and building hobbyDB.

We have so far preserved the data of 26 websites and uploaded information of 12 of these so that enthusiasts worldwide can benefit again from this information.  And since we have done so many of these we got good at this as we now have various tools to import data – we uploaded 80,000 Hard Rock Cafe pins in under 3 weeks.

If you know a site that is in danger of vanishing forever let us know!


Comments (19 Comments)
Bud Kalland

Thanks for all the great leadership Christian. I can't imagine how many volumes would be needed to PRINT all the hobbyDB information. If I ever get to list all the items in my collection that are not yet on hobbyDB, I would probably add an additional volume. ;)

Keep up the great search and work to bring additional brands to the site!

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Always After Me St. Patrick’s Day Collectibles!

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

We’ve come to that time of year when everyone claims to be at least a tiny bit Irish, so this is as good a time as ever to look a St. Patrick’s Day Collectibles. There are a surprising number of them in the hobbyDB database, certainly more than the 1 percent or so of Irish heritage that most folks claim to justify participating in the holiday. In honor of that small percentage, some of these are only slightly related to the holiday.

st patrick's day pinsIf you’re a fan of Hard Rock Cafe, you know they’ve been producing limited edition pins for all occasions and locations for years. How many? We have over 80 thousand of them in our database. And yep, St. Patrick’s Day is a popular occasion there. Of all those pins, over 1,500 celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

st patrick's day Hot WheelsHot Wheels has offered limited edition vehicles for various holidays for several years now, with St. Paddy’s Day as one of the celebrated dates. At one point, the day got its own series of Clover Cars, but more recently, they have released a single car for a variety of holidays. Of course, one of their early Redline models was the Paddy Wagon, which deserves its own spot here. (And yes, it was available in green!)

st patrick's day fighting irishFor something bigger, check out the Fighting Irish Camaro funny car from Auto World. This 1/18 scale flopper takes you back to a time when dragsters had clover… er, clever names instead of just a big sponsor decal. You can also get one from them in slot car form.

Let’s get something straight here… Clovers and shamrocks are not the same thing. Well, they sort of are… Clovers have three leaves, Shamrocks are a kind of clover, but leaf count doesn’t matter. Wait, come back!

st patrick's day lucky charmsWhat better way to kick off the day than with a bowl of Lucky Charms cereal? Lucky, the appropriately named spokesleprechaun, has been immortalized several collectible ways. He’s a Funko Pop figure, a bobblehead, and the subject of various Hot Wheels cars over the years.

st patrick's day celtics popSpeaking of Lucky the Leprechaun, did you know that’s also the name of the Boston Celtics’ mascot? Several modern era Celtics are available in Pop form, but the real legends of the team like Larry Bird have not received that treatment yet. There are plenty of other collectibles related to them, however.

st patrick's day railwayFor railroad fans, check out this Bachmann Irish Railway set. It might not be based on an actual railroad, however. On the other hand, a model company called Irish Railway Models does in fact make a more plausible set of rolling stock.

 st patrick's day pins danicaA quick search of “Patrick” minus the “Saint” bit will turn up a lot of items related to Patricks Danica, Butch, and Star. Sure, this is all pretty peripheral, but not entirely irrelevant. Danica did drive a green car much of her career, so let’s go with it.

However you choose to celebrate, just feel lucky that that are so many collectibles out there for this day.

Do you have a favorite St. Patrick’s Day collectible we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments below!

Comments (1 Comment)

Here my St. Patrick seals

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hobbyDB recognized as the most reliable Funko pricing resource

As many of you know, pricing is at the core of what we do. Providing trending values to people who collect all sorts of items from different fandoms is a passion of ours, as we know how important it is to understand the value of one’s collection. It is for that very reason that we are very excited to announce that Funko has recognized hobbyDB as the most trusted resource when it comes to providing estimated values to their community.


Through their all-new app experience, you’ll notice that all value estimates are provided by our Funko-focused brand, Pop Price Guide (or in short PPG).

The hobbyDB team will continue to make estimated values a top priority and are excited to announce more collectible brand partnerships in the coming months (stay tuned to our blog for announcements). Please read the Official Release about the Funko app here and about our approach to building the best price guide possible here.

Comments (3 Comments)
Craig Layzell

I like that! Could you please do the same for Hot Toys and Sideshow?

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