Action Figures Posts

11 Wandering Tribes – Lost, Living, Exploring in Space

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

With Captain Picard about to head off on another voyage into space, it seems like a good time to think about other space travelers. More specifically, let’s think about those wanderers who live in space… not just sci-fi fare like Futurama where the characters travel a lot but live on a planet, but those who are truly living in interstellar RVs. Some are lost, some are fugitives, some are just out there trying to make the universe a better place. So even though they travel a lot, characters in franchises like Star Wars or Doctor Who don’t count here. And in hobbyDB fashion, let’s look at some collectibles from each!

star trek collectiblesStar Trek – We could do this entire list about the original 1960s TV series and the many spinoffs, sequels, prequels and reboots, but let’s call them one entity here (In fact, the combined entities were recently named to the Pop Culture Hall of Fame.) They are willing travelers for the most part, and only rarely touch the ground, usually by teleportation.

lost in space jupiter ii modelLost In Space – Years before Star Trek, Space Family Robinson became disoriented in the cosmos. Each episode of the show usually had the Jupiter II and crew land on a different planet, only to find a differently costumed reason for its unsuitability. Their biggest threat, of course, was always Dr. Smith. A recent Netflix series has revived the concept, but nothing will ever match the campy charm of the original series.

alien garbage pail kidsAlien – Ridley Scott’s 1979 masterpiece is widely regarded as more of a horror movie than a science fiction flick. The crew of the Nostromo takes one brief pit stop on a distant planet and all hell breaks loose. Spoiler alert… technically, most of them don’t “live” in space, at least not for the entire movie.

guardians of the galaxy popGuardians of the Galaxy – As comic book characters, the GotG were barely B-list stories, but as a pair of movies and counting, they were some of the best in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Funny, smart, and with a great soundtrack, viewers actually wanted to be stuck on their spaceship with them.

battlestar galactica collectiblesBattlestar Gallactica – The original and the remake were both stylish adventures in space, but the nod for the better stuck-in-space show has to go to the newer version. Why? The final season of the original series took place on Earth, allowing a major cost cut in special effects, which is not what we’re talking about here. Those shiny Cylons ruled though.

mystery science theater lunchMystery Science Theater 3000 – Not only is Joel (or Mike, or Jonah, if you dare) a prisoner in on a spaceship, but he is forced to watch cheesy movies, the worst they can find. Joel created his robot pals to keep him company at the expense of having any control over his situation. They do seem to have a lot of fun, though.

red dwarf gameRed Dwarf – There was something cosmically stupid yet brilliant about this BBC production in space. Perhaps it was the long time confined to a spaceship that drove the cast to such clever verbal madness.

hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy gameHitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – The books and movie start out on Earth, but that ends rather rapidly, doesn’t it? Douglass Adams’ four-volume trilogy was filled with robots, bad alien poets, and the dryest humor in the universe. Eventually, they would find the answer to life, the universe, and everything.space 1999 hawkSpace 1999 – Much of the action takes place on the moon, so does this count? Well, in the show’s pilot, an explosion sends the moon out of orbit and across space, making it in effect, an out of control spacecraft. In a way, that’s even cooler!

firefly action figuresFirefly – It’s 500 years in the future, but actually more than 15 years ago. Was this show really on for only two seasons? Refugees, explorers, interlopers… hard to classify the mission of the crew of the Serenity, but it was gripping stuff and gone from TV way too soon.

wall-e eve toysWall-E – In a way, this is the most horrifying and realistic vision of the future, with obese, immovable humans scooting around a giant luxury cruiser in space. That solution was easier than cleaning up the terrestrial world because Earth is too messed up to fix. Not so far-fetched, is it?

The Jetsons, of course, are not on this list. They don’t live in space, but in domed buildings on pillars high above the Earth. There is a theory that at the same time, the Flintstones live down on the Earth’s surface in the post-nuclear apocalyptic landscape, which explains why they know about Christmas. But that’s another story…

Know of any additional action figures, model spacecraft or other collectibles from these shows? Add them to our database!

13 Advertising Spokes Characters Who Aren’t Just for Breakfast

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

We recently looked at collectibles connected to our favorite food mascots (cereal and otherwise), but there are lots of beloved Advertising Spokes Characters for non-edible markets, too.

The granddaddy of all spokes characters has to be Bibendum. You might know him as The Michelin Man (which is actually his official name in the U.S.). Even though he’s French, his name is a Latin approximation of “I drink nails.” Bib has been around since 1894 when tires were white or light gray.

bibendum pep boysAlso from the world of automotive service, Pep Boys decided they needed not one but three spokes brothers. Manny, Moe, and Jack have been around since 1921. They are based on the three company founders, who are not brothers and none of whom are named “Pep.”

A perfect example of target marketing, Bullseye the miniature bull terrier has been the spokes mutt for Target stores since 1999. There have been various stuffies and toys of this mutt, most of them presumably exclusive to those stores. 

bullseye geoffrey snoopyAnother famous store mascot hasn’t fared as well lately. Geoffrey the Giraffe was the spokes mammal for Toys “R” Us stores since their inception and was there til the end when the chain finally went belly up.

Snoopy is really just a cartoon character, but honestly, he’s probably as well known as a spokes pup for, well just about everything, including MetLife Insurance. He isn’t available as a true spokes collectible, but he is represented in countless toys, possibly more than any other comics character in history.

 

reddy kilowatt naugaElectricity shouldn’t be a hard thing to sell. You kind of need it for all sorts of things all day. But in the 1920s, electricity was still not the dominant source of power in U.S. homes, especially in rural areas. In fact, a lot of farmers were downright skeptical of it. Enter Reddy Kilowatt, the “electric utility ambassador.” Fun fact: By the 1970s, Reddy changed his message to one of energy conservation, not consumption. Another fun fact: He was once a member of the Grateful Dead. No, really!

Fake leather shouldn’t be a hard sell, either, but Naugahyde brought out Nauga, a spokes monster made of that very substance. His legacy has endured longer than the material has, and it was pretty indestructible.

alfred e neuman bazooka joeSeveral magazines have had spokes characters from “Cracked” (Sylvester P. Smyth) to “The New Yorker” (Eustace Tilly), but none reigned as supremely stupid as Alfred E. Neuman, spokes idiot for “MAD.” Sadly, “MAD”
is ending its print run soon, perhaps allowing Alfred to really focus on his next bid for the Presidency (one of these years, he has to win, right?)

Gum isn’t food, is it? I mean, you shouldn’t eat it. Did you know that’s how Bazooka Joe ended up losing his eye? Sadly, they never really explain it in the comics printed inside the wrappers. And they don’t ever clarify whether he actually owns a bazooka.

Joe Camel tagamet tommyMedicine isn’t food either, is it? Alka Seltzer is kind of the antidote for food if you think about it. In addition to a memorable jingle and soothing action shots of tablets fizzing, the brand had its own spokes guy, Speedy.

Cigarettes are definitely not food, right? And certainly not for kids. Never mind the Flintstones shilling Winston cigarettes in TV commercials in the early ’60s. Of course, the most egregious spokes dromedary was Joe Camel, who swears he wasn’t trying to lure kids to the cool, rebellious life. The backlash against Joe was so severe that not only were cuddly characters banned for tobacco marketing, pretty much all cigarette advertising and sports sponsorships were forbidden.

The greatest spokes organ of all time has to be the Tagamet Tommy. Yes, he’s an anthropomorphic stomach. Which begs so many questions, like does he have internal organs? We’re going to say “no.” 

Freddy FunkoOf course, a lot of the collectibles seen here are Funko products.  Their company spokes figure Freddy Funko has taken on a life of his own over the last twenty years. He started out as a large scale store display Wobbler, and has since appeared in more costumes than you can keep track of. A character created to sell figures of characters created to sell other things… no wonder King Freddy wears that crown.

What are your favorite non-food spokes characters and mascots? Let us know in the comments!

Dov Kelemer of DKE Toys Brings His Collective Interests to hobbyDB Advisory Council

Dov Kelemer DKE toysDov Kelemer, founder of DKE Toys, is the latest member of the hobbyDB Advisory Council. He comes from a unique perspective as not only a major action figure dealer, but also as a curator of custom and limited edition mashup figures. His creations include one-off mutations of familiar figures with unusual, often bizarre modifications as well as limited edition resin figures.

dke toys tatooine“DKE Toys started with Star Wars collectibles in the early 90s and still deal in them today,” said Dov. The business evolved into the wholesale distribution of designer vinyl toys by 2005. “We were the exclusive distributor for over 500 artists, brands, and designers. We sold the distribution arm of our business in 2016 to Disburst Ltd (www.disburst.com). Now we set up at 3 or 4 shows a year selling limited edition custom resin action figures.”

DKE toys2004 was when Dov considered a shift in his business model. “Star Wars was getting stale,” he said. “There was a lack of imagination and when I started to see vinyl toys made by artists I admired around 2004 it piqued my interest.”

Dov Kelemer Sarah Jo MarksAs a collector, he was fascinated by the Suckadelic line of custom vinyl art toys and action figures. “The Sucklord started the resin action figure medium in 2005 and I started with his first figure. I continue to this day with not only an archive of all of his work but with scores of other artists influenced by him.”

Like many in this industry, his interest started as a young collector. “I have vintage Star Wars figures from 1977. I have very little before that since that’s the genesis of the Star Wars universe.” There is also a creative energy derived from living near Hollywood with Sarah Jo Marks, originally his business partner, now also his wife. “We met in 2001, so she experienced the transformation with me. By 2005 the distribution company began and we got married that same year.”

dke toys vader projectIn addition to distributing and repping custom artists, Dov has several online presences that occupy his spare time and expand the brand. Spoonful of Star Wars and The Vader Project are two of them. Both are art shows that we curated. The Vader Project, in particular, was a way of introducing Star Wars fans to the artists we were working with in the designer toy business. We sent 100 artists 1/1 scale Darth Vader helmet replicas to paint, modify, and mash-up,” he said. “The show toured the world and ended up at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh before being auctioned off at Freemans.”

dke toys bootleg gpkAnother of his interests gets really specific. The Bootleg Garbage Pail Kids Project occupies additional time and headspace in the Dov universe. As someone who appreciates custom and original work, he curates the inventive and creative efforts in this area. “As with Star Wars before, I grew tired of the newer products Topps was putting out,” he said. “There was always more interesting content when artists and creators were just creating without permission and bypassing the licensing and approval processes. These releases tended to be very handmade or homemade and produced in very small quantities for a very short time”

There is also a tendency for art to imitate life and vice versa. Dov notes, “I also find it fascinating to witness and document how pop culture has influenced the actual culture. I love how GPK themes just pop up in life. Right now it seems to be most prevalent in the tattoo scene. I have business cards from tattoo artists in Argentina for example who use GPK themes to promote themselves.”

dke toys star warsdke toys akbarDKE Toys is always up for checking out new artists in vinyl or plastic. If you’re such an artist, he would love to hear from you. “Just get in touch. I respond to all serious emails and phone calls and our info is readily available,” said Dov. DKE is willing to distribute items that are produced in certain quantities. Or, if they are making hand made action figures we evaluate if that was a good fit for a convention release and discuss what works best for us.”

With all this unique experience, Dov Kelemer is a welcome addition to the hobbyDB Advisory Council.

19 Food Mascots Who Want You to Join Them for Dinner, Snacks or Dessert

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Last week we looked back at some of our favorite cereal spokes characters from big bowlers like Cap’n Crunch to the soggy, forgotten ones like Quake. But there are more meals to the day than just breakfast, so let’s take a look at other Food Mascots from healthy veggies to fast food.

Back when Funko started in the late ’90s, their Wacky Wobblers were heavy on retro, even forgotten, food spokes characters. It was a fun dose of nostalgia, with some deep dives into long retired mascots who still could provide a smile to those who remembered.

big boy toysmcconalds bobblheads

Big Boy was the very first Wobbler, and he has since been immortalized with other figures. During the restaurant’s heyday, vinyl figures and banks representing Big Boy were widely distributed. Bonus fact: It’s fun to guess where someone is from by whether they identify him as Bob’s, Shoney’s, Frisch’s, Azar’s and so on.

Many other restaurants have mascots, but most are on the fast side of the food spectrum. McDonald’s began rolling out friends for Ronald McDonald in the late ’60s. If you’re someone who finds clowns terrifying, you should the original Hamburglar. Also Grimace used to be Evil and had extra arms. The entire cast of characters exploded to enormous size by the 1980s, and has been scaled way back since.

kfc halloween maskIt’s hard to conceive now, but at one time Col. Harlan Sanders was an actual person, not a character played by an ever rotating cast of comedic actors (and also recently by another spokes character, Chester Cheetah!). Burger King used to be a real person, too, possibly a deposed ruler of a far away country, but more likely an actor. Either way, the rubber headed king of the last decade or so has been repping the restaurant and possibly scaring kids since.

kool-aid manwyler's funny faceThe Kool-Aid Man started off as a face drawn in the sweat on the outside of a pitcher of ice cold powdered beverage (didn’t we all?). Eventually, he grew appendages and then an affinity for smashing through walls. Many figures and toys and replica pitchers have honored him over the years, but the best was the early ’80s Kool-Aid Man video game cartridge! Fun fact: Bugs Bunny drank the Kool-aid briefly, too! In the mid ’60s, Wyler’s tried their hand at the powdered juice game with Funny Face. Each flavor had its own distinct character, although they may have tried too hard. While some of them are available in collectible form, several were based on, umm, questionable stereotypes that have not aged well.

poppin fresh familyMany of you know the Pillsbury Dough Boy has a name: Poppin’ Fresh. But did you know he had a family of dough people? Joining him in the 1970s were a wife (or maybe girlfriend, they never specified… Poppie Fresh), a son (Popper), a baby daughter (Bun-Bun), and pets named Flapjack and Biscuit. There are also some older folks, presumably someone’s parents, as well as good ol’ Uncle Rollie. The main family and pets were available as figures and finger puppets for several years.

hostess spokes character toysIf you prefer your baked goods already well, baked… Twinkie the Kid was your guy. Why he dresses as a cowboy is anyone’s guess. There is also a chocolate version of the Twinkie the Kid, also named the same name. Less enduring, but worthy of the Funko treatment were King Ding Dong and Fruit Pie the Magician. Spider-Man and other heroes got in on the Hostess gig for a while as well.

j k simmoms m&mThe kings and queens of the anthropomorphic snack world have to the the M&Ms characters. Starting with just a few different colors, they have added on to the crew increasing diversity, and even an occasional cannibalism joke (well, what do you call it when one candy eats another of itself?) Fun fact: Actor J. K. Simmons has been the voice of the yellow M&M for over 20 years. No, seriously!

jolly green giant toyscalifornia raisins video gameSpokes characters aren’t always trying to lead consumers astray… the Jolly Green Giant seems genuinely interested in selling you healthy vegetables. And of course he had a sidekick… apparently despite the family resemblance, young Sprout was an “apprentice.” Theoretically, the California Raisins were doing the same service, but honestly, they sold a lot of merchandise and stimulated an interest in Motown hits more than they did for shriveled grapes.

noid toyOf course, we need to address perhaps the most annoying, reviled, and despised restaurant mascot of all time… The Noid. Even in the pre-Twitter rage era of the early 1990s, the reaction to this mascot for Domino’s Pizza was swift and unified in revulsion. He was meant to represent the bad, incompetency of “other” pizza chains, but the stink stuck to Domino’s nonetheless. So of course, Funko has honored the Noid with a Pop! figure. The Garbage Pail Kids also did a more fitting tribute.

Of course, many non-food companies have memorable (and sometimes forgotten) spokes characters… we’ll look at those soon, too.

Who’s your favorite food spokes character? Let us know, and if there are relevant toys and collectibles add them to our database.

Introducing the New Mego Database Powered by hobbyDB

Mego Corp is the newest Toy Company to reveal its all-new product database, powered by hobbyDB. While they are best remembered for their wide line of popular figures from movies and TV, the company’s history goes back much further. The Mego Database will include all of that history and more.

Mego was founded in 1954 by D. David and Madeline Abrams as an importer of inexpensive dime-store toys. In 1971, a shift in economics and changing tastes with kids meant it was time to refocus the company.

Mego SuperheroesMarty Abrams, their son, suggested that a line of inexpensive action figures would be a big hit. Many of them shared the same body molds to keep costs down, and all had separate, removable outfits. The figures were 8 inches tall, smaller than some other popular brands, but perfectly sized so accessories like vehicles and playsets weren’t too big or expensive.

Mego managed to get licenses for DC’s Super-Friends, which turned into an instant hit. A subsequent deal with Marvel Comics then meant kids could play with compatible characters from incompatible worlds. 

The rapid success of those first figures meant Mego would lead to the company in securing deals for characters from Star Trek, Wizard of Oz, and Planet of the Apes. In fact, the Planet of the Apes characters were trailblazers, some of the very first movie tie-in merchandising of their kind.

Mego Planet of the Apes

Mego also dabbled in 1/64 diecast cars! Their Jet Wheels cars came packaged with connectable, stackable garages.

Mego Jet Wheels

Mego Action JacksonAmong their next big hits were smaller figures, the Micronauts. They were much smaller than any other toy of their kind, and their futuristic designs fit in with kids’ interest in space travel and science fiction.

Action Jackson was Mego’s response to GI Joe, and competed with the long-running soldier on a less military field. Additional licenses in the late ‘70s included CHiPs, Dukes of Hazzard, and The Greatest America Hero. Only when collectors and kids gravitated towards Kenner’s new (and smaller) Star Wars toys did Mego stop production in the early 1980s.

Even though the company was gone, the memories of Mego stayed strong, and kids of the ‘70s grew into collectors of the ‘90s and 2000s. In 2018, Mego re-introduced a line of characters including many old favorites, as well as some shows from that era that they didn’t do the first time around. Some newer classics like Cheers and Married With Children are in the mix now as well.mego bewitchedOnce completed, the Mego Database will be a great resource for collectors, as it combines accurate, complete information from the actual company with the cross-reference abilities of the hobbyDB database. It will also feature price guide information and give Mego collectors the ability to manage and showcase their collections as well as a wishlist. Interested in getting involved? Just email us here.