The Greatest Carboot Sale Find… Ever

Carboot sales can be hit and miss, to say the least.  Not that I go very often – I’m certainly no bootsale buccaneer, sailing the seas of junk.  Every now and again, I pay a visit and keep my fingers crossed for a bargain.

So I was stoked to find something amazing on a recent excursion – something I’ve wanted for nearly forty years.

If you’ve read my previous post about my Smurf figurine collection, you will know that I’ve always wanted a Smurf house as well.  I’ve always had a dream of having a tiny Smurf village full of the little blue fellas.

And what do you know?  I found this house at a carboot sale recently, complete with seven figures, for a tenner.  I didn’t even haggle (not my strongest skill, anyway) – I just parted with the cash and embraced a lifelong ambition – to own a Smurf house.

Now bearing in mind that these houses are currently going for over £30 on Amazon, I think I got a good deal.  I could’ve been charged 50p for each Smurf (at least), never mind the house.  So I think this is a real bargain.

After all these years, I am finally the proud owner of my very own Smurf house, and I am very happy indeed.  This is, without doubt, the greatest carboot sale find ever.

Masters of the Universe Toys – Part 2

Recently at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub, I shared some photos of my Masters of the Universe toys.  Last time, we looked at the Heroic Warriors – He-Man and his good guy buddies.  This time, it’s time for the Evil Warriors to take a bow…  Yes, Skeletor and his evil henchmen!

For some reason or other, I only had a few bad guys when I was a kid.  That’s a bit odd, as in many ways the evil dudes are better designed and possess more interesting features.

The collection began with He-Man’s arch nemesis, the one and only Skeletor.  You remember him from the cartoon, right?  I still have the action figure from when he was first released, complete with power sword and staff.  Skeletor is such a classic creation and a pretty rad figure.

Skeletor’s two original aides, Beast Man and Mer-Man, were never part of my collection first time around.  I’ve added them to the group over the years from Comic Cons and collector fairs.  Both are in nice but not mint condition – however they’re absolute must-haves for any gang of villainous Eternia marauders.

Two other bad guys I did have as a kid were Trap Jaw and Tri-Klops.  Both of these characters are really cool concepts with great play features.

Trap Jaw, as well as having his movable jaw, also came with three accessories to place in his arm socket – a hook, a pincer and a gun.  Sadly, only my gun accessory remains – the other two mysteriously disappeared.  I replaced the pincer with one purchased from  eBay, but the hook eludes me.  Awesome toy, regardless.

Tri-Klops I owned as kid, but like Battle Cat (see previous blog) and Trap Jaw’s weapons, he went AWOL.  Bloody loft insulation workers, I say.  A few years back I replaced him with a pretty good quality eBay purchase, complete with sword.  This figure has a revolving helmet, so Tri-Klops can “see” out of different eyes!

Up next is Evil-Lyn: despite being little more than a re-paint of the Teela figure, this wicked witch is actually an interesting character.  No staff with her, as Evil-Lyn is a 21st centruy purchase.

Following Evil-Lyn we have another trio of bad guys – Jitsu, Whiplash and Clawful.  None of these three are complete with weapons as they’re second hand purchases.  In fact, Jitsu is also lacking his chest armour.  Great figures though: Clawful in particular is an ingenious, gruesome design.

Finally, the last picture features a further frightful foursome: Two Bad, Leech, Spikor and Kobra Khan.  No weapons, but a fun bunch of motley misfits with some wacky play features.  Kobra Khan fires water from his head!  Leech sticks to stuff!  Spikor is Spiky!  And Two Bad can punch himself in the face!

A wonderful bunch of toys that bring back happy memories.  Hours of fun can still be had battling Skeletor and his lackeys against He-Man and the heroic warriors.

However, a big gap in my collection is Faker – the evil blue He-Man clone.  Another example of Mattel re-colouring existing models, but I want him badly.  Know where I can get one?  Please let me know!

Masters of the Universe Toys – Part 1

By the power of Grayskull!

Masters of the Universe exploded into popular culture – and my young, impressionable mind – to become one of the greatest toy lines of all time.  The characters and mythology of Eternia – built through toys, comics and an unforgettable cartoon series – has become a classic of popular culture.

The genesis of these toys has been documented elsewhere: I can thoroughly recommend the excellent documentary “The Power of Grayskull”, which you can watch on Netflix.

So here, I’ll take the opportunity to reminisce about the MOTU toys that I have in my collection – most of which have been with me since they were first released.

Prepare for full on, raw and dirty NERD MODE.

Let’s make things a little easier, and focus on just one selection of MOTU figures for now – the Heroic Warriors.

It all began with my purchase of the lead character: He-Man.  He looked so cool, very detailed for the time and a totally new size and type of design.  I was a dedicated Star Wars collector as a kid, so decided I’d buy just one MOTU figure, and that would be He-Man, of course.

But things never work out that way, and the main man would soon be followed by many friends and enemies.

The He-Man figure shown here is my original from the early eighties, complete with weapons (axe not shown) and in pretty good nick.

I never got any of the toy lines vehicles or playsets.  But I did buy He-Man’s trusty comrade, Battle Cat.  My young mind was blown by a hero who rode around on a giant green tiger!

The Battle Cat in the picture is not my original.  That one mysteriously went AWOL whilst these toys were stored in my parents’ loft.  This is a decent replacement that I picked up on eBay for an affordable price.

There are still no suspects for the theft of my original toy(s), other than the blokes who fitted some flooring in their loft a few years back.  Bastards.

Anyway, I mentioned He-Man’s buddies – and in the next pic you can see some of the earliest heroic figures to join He-Man’s quest.  Here we have Man-At-Arms, another original and complete.

There’s also Teela, who is complete though I forgot to photo her with accessories.  Teela was actually my sisters figure, who has found a home in my collection (sorry, Sian).

The next photo of Heroic Warriors includes Man-E-Faces, Ram Man, Zodac and Orko.

Zodac was the earliest release of these, though I only bought him recently (2019) at a Comic Con.  To be honest, I thought I already had him.  Zodac is only in fair condition; he’s a bit grubby and has no weapon.

I loved Man-E-Faces as soon as I saw him – a mild mannered actor, he was cursed by Skeletor to become a monster or robot at random.  Or something like that, anyway.  Turning the button on his head revolved Man-E-Faces to one of the three less desirable versions of himself.  Great character with loads of playability!  Bought him when he came out.

Ram Man was very familiar to viewers of the cartoon as he appeared regularly.  Portrayed as a non-PC in the modern age dimwit, he never the less had power as well as comedy value.  The figure came with a spring loaded leg feature to enable Ram Man to become a human battering ram.  Another I’ve owned since the dawn of time.

Orko was a figure I picked up much later, only a few years ago.  As the comedy side kick of He-man, and one of the major recurring characters in the cartoon, Orko was a necessary purchase – but one I didn’t get round to back in the eighties.

Finally, the remaining heroic characters in my collection are all ones I’ve purchased in later years – Moss Man, Sy-Klone, Fisto and Buzz Off.  I picked them up cheap and added them to my collection.

Whilst Buzz Off and Fisto are decent figures, Moss Man takes the Mattel staple of re-using existing parts to a new low: he’s just Beast Man painted green and given a furry flock effect.

There is one more pic: I couldn’t forget Prince Adam, could I?  My Adam figure was bought in more modern times, I never had him as a kid.  Unfortunately he’s missing his attractive waistcoat, but never mind – you can’t really re-enact the MOTU cartoon without this guy, can you?

Plus, removing Battle Cat’s armour gives us his fearless friend, Cringer!

Not a bad collection of Heroic Warriors – though the biggest gap is Stratos, who I thought I actually owned till I did a stock take recently.  I’ll keep an eye out for him…

I still love these toys, and they’re still played with – my daughter and I have been known to have a battle or two.

Next time, I’ll share pictures of the Evil Warriors – including everyone’s favourite skull faced villain, Skeletor!

Smurfs

How did the Smurf fascination begin?  I remember being a little kid in the late 70s and everyone in my class loving the “The Smurf Song” by Father Abraham and the Smurfs.  We were little and I guess we thought they were cute.

Then a couple of years later, on a family holiday in West Wales, I got one of the promotional Smurf figures from a petrol station.  It was the artist smurf.  I chose him because, even though he was a painter, I liked art.

I may have never bought another Smurf at all, after that first one, except that he got chewed up by our dog.  So I went to buy a replacement but couldn’t find the same one, and bought another.  So the collection began…

Smurfs became another one of the toys that would get played with, amongst me and my friends.  Some of the other kids had smurfs too, so we could put them all together and create little stories.  I have loads of fond memories of playing with them, outdoors on warm summer days.

Of course, there was the Hanna-Barbera cartoon too, which kept interest rolling along. 

Over time, I picked up more smurfs to add to the collection.  On holidays, sometimes a souvenir would be a Star Wars figure; other times a smurf or a comic book.  I remember my Gran always used to buy my sister and I a smurf when we went shopping with her.

Occasionally, I’ll find a character that I don’t already have at a toy collector fair or Comic Con.  Maybe even a carboot sale.  It’s still fun to find a new one to add to the collection.

I think the attraction of smurfs was the variety; like may other things I’ve collected, it’s fun to have a diverse collection of different characters.  I used to draw designs for my own Smurfs when I was a kid, too – just the same way as I designed my own superheroes.

Anyway, you can see here most of my collection (and some of my sister’s that I have for “safe keeping”).  Some of the classic characters, like Papa Smurf, Smurfette, Brainy – even Gargamel and his cat, Azrael.

Some of my favourites are the Clown, which is really detailed.  Plus of course the Skateboarder, which I’m really proud of.  I bought him before I’d ever stepped on a skateboard, so I have a real fondness for that one.

There’s loads of others out there, and I’d really love a smurf house for them.  Or several houses, to make a smurf village!  Unlikely that’ll ever happen.

That “Smurf Song” found it’s way into my burgeoning vinyl collection a while ago.  I did eventually replace the artist smurf, too.  Still got my first one, though, mangled and chewed up though he may be.

Dedicated to my great childhood friend Brendan O’Neil, who inspired my imagination all those years ago.  RIP.

Toy Cars from TV Shows

Cars were some of the earliest toys I ever had.  Small Matchbox, Dinky and Corgi cars; larger Dinky and Corgi too.  I had loads of them, many of them are still around in a giant plastic tub at my parents’ house.

Some of my favourite cars were the television and movie tie-ins; models that were based on the cars in my favourite programmes and films.  In some cases, these cars were more inspirational than the human characters.

Here are two cars that I have in my collection, neither of which date back to my childhood, however!  In fact, both are re-issued versions of 1970s classics that I always wanted but never owned.

First up is the fantastic Ford Gran Torino from Starsky and Hutch.  I Loved Starsky and Hutch when I was a nipper in the 70’s, and I always loved this car.  Such an iconic design; the white go-faster stripe flash down the side of the striking red vehicle.

I did have a smaller version of this car when I was a kid; hopefully it’s still around somewhere.  I’m really stoked to own this larger version though, with the mini Starsky and Hutch metal figures.  Starsky is even wearing his trademark cardigan!

Next up is another classic of late 1970’s TV – the General Lee from The Dukes of Hazzard.  This is the car that gave me lifelong love of Dodge Chargers.  The Confederate flag on the roof is anachronistic and awkward these days, but hey – they were simpler days.

The flag has dubious associations, but that car is COOL.  Plus it also has tiny little figures of Bo and Luke Duke with it.  No Daisy Duke though, sadly.

I never owned the General in any form when I was little, so this piece is really great to have, especially for a Charger fan like me.

Both of these cars are 1:36 scale models, re-issued by Corgi and just like the 1970’s toys I remember so well.

I’ve enjoyed this little drive down retro toy car lane; I think we’ll pay another visit with some more specimens soon.

Superhero Action Figures

You may well be familiar with the Mego action figures of the 1970s – they made dozens of superhero dolls approximately 8 inches tall.  You can see my Batmobile and Captain Americar toys (all I have left from my Mego collection) in an earlier post.  They also made figures for Planet of the Apes and tons of other licenses.

Other than the 8″ line, there were also a series of 3.75″ superhero figures, known Comic Action Heroes.  These examples of this range of figures have been in my collection since the late 1970’s.

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Originally I bought a Spiderman figure, from the sadly long gone Toy & Hobby in Chester, but he broke.  This line of figures weren’t the most robust – a common problem was the legs breaking off.  the body below the waist was made of rubber, and likely to give way.

So Spiderman was posted back to the Customer Service department.  A few weeks later I received a parcel containing some replacement figures – these are the ones you see here.  No Spiderman unfortunately, but I got a few others as compensation.

The Dynamic Duo of Batman and Robin was pretty cool to have.  Strangely, Batman’s head was made out of soft rubber which was attached to his cape.  As a result, you could pop off Batman’s head if you so desired.  Also a bit bizarre, the Boy Wonder is actually taller than his pal!

The Joker was a nice figure, quite good facial detail.  I remember also owning Superman in this batch, but he’s long since disappeared.  And I think my sister had the Wonder Woman toy.

The final figure from this range is The Incredible Hulk.  Raging green and mean, he wears traditional purple pants and also has a good face sculpt.  However, Hulk’s left arm (not seen in the photo) fell off, and had to be reattached with glue.  Like I said, not very robust.

A couple of years later, Mego made further superhero action figures, in the Pocket Super Heroes line.  They were very similar to the earlier figures, but with straight legs rather than bent.  My only figure from this line is Lex Luthor.  Again Lex has a good (for the time) face sculpt – I’ve always thought there was a resemblance to Gene Hackman.

These Super Heroes were pretty cool figures that I loved.  A shame that they weren’t very durable, and that Spidey isn’t in my toy box any more.  Still, cool seventies toys that bring back loads of memories.

You can read more about this range of toys at Toymania here.

Tat Trek Update #4: Eric Bristow Mug

In a secret underground facility near Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub can be found my Museum de Tat.  Regular readers will be aware of some of the wonders to be found here.  It’s time to visit once again…

This time I have an absolute classic, which has been in my possession for a long time.

Item: Eric Bristow “The Crafty Cockney” Mug

Description: a standard mug (drinking receptacle) bearing the image of darts playing legend, and “geezer” – Eric Bristow.  Emblazoned with Eric’s nom de guerre “The Crafty Cockney” and a dartboard (not shown) on the reverse. IMG_2793

Cost: Free (it was a gift).

Reason for buying: I didn’t buy it, it was a gift.

This fantastic item actually dates back to my time as a student.  Whilst collecting household items for my first student house (way back in the 1990’s), my Granddad donated a few pieces to help out.  All students have wacky novelty mugs, usually cartoon characters and the like.  None matched the sheer randomness of my Eric Bristow mug, however.  This cup became my standard – my symbol – amongst the student kitchen chaos.

An unusual item for someone who doesn’t drink hot beverages, perhaps.  Cool mug though, thanks to my Granddad!

If you own a tacky novelty mug, feel free to let me know about it.

Memorabilia Birmingham NEC

22/23 March 2014

Twice a year, the Memorabilia event at Birmingham NEC is a massive gathering of everything sci-fi, fantasy, and horror.  Whether it’s old or new; or from the worlds of film, television, comic books or whatever – there’ll be something representing all facets of geekdom.

An enormous event hall within the NEC houses stalls selling paraphernalia of every conceivable description.  Obviously I’m there for the Star Wars and Hammer stuff; but you’ll find Marvel and DC items, Doctor Who, the Terminator – you name it, it’s to be found there.  Toys, books, clothes, comics, props – memorabilia of all types.

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There are also displays, from costumes to vehicles (check out my post about the Evel Knievel exhibition).  I’ve seen American wrestlers grappling in the ring, robot wars and cars from the A-Team and Back to the Future.

You’ll also get the chance to meet actors from your favourite franchise and get their autograph.

Also, there are many people dressed up for the day as their favourite characters.  Some belong to fan groups; some are just there for a day out and choose to show off their geeky side.  Keen readers will remember photos from November 2013 posted previously.

I last went to the NEC for this event in March, earlier this year.  It’s been a while, but I thought visitors to the Virtual Hot Tub would be interested to see some photos from the event.

The next Memorabilia at the NEC is 22nd and 23rd November 2014.  Take a look at the website here.

More Memorabilia photos can be found here: comics television film 

Happy Birthday Johnny Cash

Today I’m commemorating the birth of Johnny Cash, born 26th February 1932.

Below is a picture of some of my Cash memorabilia.  This includes vinyl albums, CDs, books and t-shirts.  That’s quite a few pieces I’ve collected over the years.  The music is timeless and will last longer than the items shown, however.

One more point: the black record sleeve you can make out at the bottom right of the photo is my first Cash album.  It was my grandmother’s originally, and became mine when she passed away – so it has a special place in my vinyl collection.  It’s a great record and introduced me to Johnny Cash’s music.  Cash1782131_10152355579718714_1063450036_n

Check out: JohnnyCash.com

Tat Trek Update #3: Elvis Beach Towel

It’s been a while since I last updated the Virtual Hot Tub.  And a while longer since we had a Tat Update.  This one’s a stormer.

Item: “Elvisly Yours” Beach Towel

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Elvis beach towel on location

Description: a standard beach towel bearing the image of the King himself, Elvis Presley – in the full on white jumpsuit.

Cost = approx £5.

Bought at: Rhyl, of course.

Reason for buying: I wanted a beach towel, and this one’s got Elvis on it.

In the temple of tat, there are two kings: the big Mr J Christ and our other good buddy, the one and only King of Rock’n’Roll – Elvis Presley.  Any item with the image of Elvis on automatically attains cool status, as far as I’m concerned.

This piece is both fun and functional – I used it on my recent summer holiday to Greece.  And yes, I am a fan of the King (though I prefer Johnny Cash if I had to choose).  I just can’t help believin’ that this is a great item for the Tat collection.

What do you think of this item? Don’t be cruel – leave a comment and let me know!