SSP Posts

Wreck Royale Vehicles Are Smashing Good Fun

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

In 1970, Kenner’s SSP Smash-Up Derby toys crashed their way into the rec rooms of kids everywhere, inspiring good, wholesome vehicular violence (you remember the jingle, right?). Fifty years hence, there’s Wreck Royale from MGA Entertainment. This series of seven vehicles are designed for explosive impact and maximum chaos with multiple parts that fly off when crashing.

Loud, chaotic, fun! That’s the name of the game here, and these new cars deliver.

Wreck Royale crash

The aftermath of an explosive collision…

Wreck Royale consists of seven different cars designed for crashing, reassembling, and repeating. Luis Tanahara designed the look of the cars. If his name sounds familiar, he has worked for a number of toy companies, but diecast collectors might know him better for his wild custom small-scale creations.

wreck royale double trouble king crash

Double Trouble and King Cra$h are sold as a set.

None of these models represent a particular real-world car, but they all call on Tanahara’s expert familiarity with the tropes of car culture. There are a couple of muscle car-inspired rides, a pair of Euro and JDM tuners, a ‘30s hot rod sedan delivery, a vintage pickup truck, and a custom van. The graphics on each car further tell the story of those different automotive subcultures. Most of them even feature unique California-inspired license plates representing different eras of that state’s car culture.

Wreck Royale Big Boss Da Bomb

The Big Boss pickup takes on Da Bomb tuner.

Of the initial seven vehicles, only one body is used twice. And with different graphics and fly off parts, it takes you a while to notice. In fact, of over 30 parts, only a few of those molds are used more than once and decorated differently each time. Wreck Royale shows even further dedication to design effort with certain cars having unique rims or tires.

wreck royale packagingThe packaging is well done, too. Each car sits nose down as if it had just rammed into something, and the design elements on the labels fit the theme of each car.

While kids should love this kind of noisy fun, it should appeal to adult collectors as well. If you’re of a certain age, you had those original Kenner SSP Smash-Up Derby cars. The first set of those pre-dented racers was an instant smash hit. Kenner would go on to create 8 different body styles over the decade, including a pair of luxury cars that didn’t come pre-mangled and two European models.

Unlike the ripcord/gyro wheel propulsion of the SSP cars, Wreck Royale cars ar free-wheeling. Another difference is the new cars have interchangeable parts. Not only can you swap parts between cars, but any part can fit in any slot in the front, back, hood, roof, or sides. Between seven cars, 32 pieces, and six slots per car, the combinations are almost infinite.

But we’re really here for the action. And it lives up to the hype and then some. (Be sure to watch that video at quarter-speed or even slower again to really see those parts fly!)

Each Wreck Royale vehicle has a trigger in the front that sets off a violent expulsion of parts. At the same time, a trigger underneath the car launches or flips the whole thing into the air. The first time you see it in person, it’s startling. The parts don’t fly off as much as they explode. Reassembly is easy, once you learn the sequence of resetting the trigger and adding the parts. So with no tiny parts and a bit of education, these can be enjoyed by younger kids.

wreck royale ricky rodder

Ricky Rodder is a 1930’s sedan delivery with shark features.

Most cars are sold individually, retailing at a reasonable $10 or so apiece. The Big Boss and Double Trouble are sold as a pair, with each containing two more fly off parts than the single cars. (It’s also worth noting that the media kits for these toys came packaged in a brilliant semi truck shaped box, which should become a collectors’ item in its own right.)

Wreck Royale mixed up

There are unlimited ways to mix and match parts with Wrecky Royale.

The world of collecting can be funny sometimes. The toys we remember most fondly as kids are often the ones we played with the hardest. But as collectors, we look for pristine, well-preserved examples to display years later. Wreck Royale makes a case for ripping those boxes open and having a smashing good time.

Do you have these new cars or any vintage smash-up vehicles? Tell us about your memories with your destructive playtime!

Goodbye Movin’ Marvin: The Collectible That Got Away

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

I’ve been thinking about a toy from my childhood lately. A toy from my grown-up collection, as well. His name is Movin’ Marvin.

Marvin would be at home with the Hot Wheels Farbs, who were also humans attached to wheels and motors in various degrees of discomfort. Marvin rides on a small cart, and if you flip him over, there is a vestigial chassis-like apparatus. But he’s still kinda weird lookin’.

ssp movin marvinssp movin marvin comicMovin’ Marvin was part of the Kenner SSP (Super Sonic Power) series of gyro-powered vehicles from the 1970s. They were immensely popular toys in the first half of the decade. Most of the cars were about 1:24 scale, but Marvin was much bigger, while taking up the same amount of shelf space.

Unlike most SSP cars, I never even saw an actual Movin’ Marvin figure/car when I was a kid. He appeared in crude, cartoonish illustration form in some ads, and only as a “collect them all” afterthought (at right, near the bottom).

Some time in the late 1990s, I did begin to collect them all, to the tune of over 75 different SSP models and accessories on my shelf today. And about ten years ago, I found Marvin in an antique store. He was $125, which might seem like a lot to the uninitiated, but having never actually confirmed that this toy even existed up to that point in my life, the price was a bargain to me. He was missing the velocity stack assembly at the top of the engine, but was otherwise in great shape. So I took him home.

Collecting a particular vintage toy line can be tricky… Since SSP cars are no longer in production, there is a finite number of variants out there, but still in the hundreds. How much of a completist do I want to be? Do I need every model in every color? Or just the ones based on real production cars? Or maybe limit my collection to the Smash-Up Derby models? Marvin was part of a series called “The Stunt Men” along with Herk (who looks Roman) and Knight Rider (who does not look like David Hasselhoff). Marvin was kind of an oddball, by far the largest-scaled model in the entire SSP line, and one of the heaviest. He didn’t totally fit int, but he was still part of the family.

kenner ssp movin marvin boxTurns out Marvin is indeed as rare as suspected. One turns up for sale online maybe once a year, and they tend to go for a lot more than I paid. Some lucky duck even found one mint in a not-so-mint package recently. Holy grail stuff right there. But I was happy with mine, even missing that engine piece.

A few years back, I was between jobs (this was juuuuust before hobbyDB launched our marketplace), so I decided to thin out my collection a bit. I had a mint Plymouth Superbird model in ultra rare orange that someone snagged off my shelf for $500. (I kept a less perfect, less valuable green example in its place.) And then someone contacted me about Marvin. “Would you take $600 for it?” he asked… “How about $750?” At that point, these two toys could just about pay my mortgage for a month, so I had to go for it. The guy even made generous offers on a couple other models I had duplicates of.

kenner ssp movin marvin

I just now realized Movin’ Marvin kind of looks like Pete Rose!

I was sad shipping those toys off, but here’s a way to look at it: Would I have paid $750 for a Marvin that day? Probably not. But by turning down that money, in effect, I would have been doing so, if that makes sense. Or look at this this way: Would I rather have $750, or Marvin? More abstractly, would I rather have half a house payment, or a toy that I didn’t even have when I was a kid?

Now that things are better financially, I’ve kind of been looking for a replacement Marvin. Obviously, I would like to find one cheap again, so I have to be patient. I found a really nice one for about $300 recently, but still more than I can bite off. But an interesting realization hit me…

See, for many of us, the hunt is part of the thrill of collecting. I had kind of reached a point where I owned pretty much all the cars I wanted, so I wasn’t on the prowl anymore. I kind of missed it. So by letting go of a couple of real rarities, my interest in these toys is back. And that makes them fun again.

kenner ssp movin marvinDo you have a favorite toy or collectible you regret letting go? Let us know in the comments (with photos if you have them!)