Christmas Tat 2020

More bad taste baubles for your entertainment! Last year I displayed some of the wonderfully strange and tacky Christmas tree baubles that I’ve acquired. They can be found hanging from the branches of our festive tree. As I’ve added a couple more to the collection, I thought I’d share them here. for your enjoyment.

Now, something that has distressed me this year, whilst perusing the delights of Twitter, is people referring to these decorations as “ball balls” or even “baule baules”. I know, disgraceful isn’t it? No wonder we’re in the mess we’re in.

Anyway, I hope you like these ball balls, may they bring some yuletide cheer to what is a tough situation for us all.

Below you will see:

  1. A gherkin wearing a Christmas hat (or a pickle wearing a Christmas hat, if you prefer)
  2. A robot (note the clear plastic space helmet he’s wearing, just about visible)

And with that, all I can say is Merry Christmas to all of my readers. Enjoy this festive tat, and keep coming back to Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub for more fun next year!

Star Wars Figures – the First 12

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Star Wars Figures – the First 12

I’m lucky to be old enough to have seen the first Star Wars film – Episode IV: A New Hope as it’s now known – back when it was first released.  I was five years old and the film was a sensation with everyone I knew in school.  It’s very hard to explain just how big a deal Star Wars was to us back then: absolutely everyone was captivated by it, and I was no exception.

Back then, we were a good few years away from video players and there was no way to view the film repeatedly.  There were stories of teenagers who saw the film twenty times at the cinema, but that wasn’t going to work for a tiny kid my age.

So other than the Marvel UK comic, the only way to relive the movie that I loved was with Kenner Star Wars figures. img_5012

I can remember first seeing the toys and being fascinated by them.  They looked really cool – we’d never really had action figures of this size, and straight out of a movie, like this before.  I was desperate to get R2-D2.  Just R2, if I couldn’t get any of the others.

After a long while I managed to persuade my parents to buy me an R2-D2 toy.  I can still recall seeing the figure, on the card, in the shop window.  There was a cycle and toy shop on the high street in Connah’s Quay in those days, known to us as the Bike Stores, which was the place to get your fix of 1970’s toy goodness. img_5013

So I got R2 and I was set.  Except it didn’t stop there.  I started collecting all the figures, and as many of the spaceships and playsets as I could, over the years.  Star Wars figures became an obsession that I still have today.

I can still remember how and when I acquired these toys, for the most part.  I remember R2 was first, I chose him as he was my favourite character.  Then I got Chewbacca from the same shop some time later, and eventually Luke from a shop in Flint.

Photos here are of the first twelve figures released from the film.  In the UK, they were all produced by Palitoy, rather than Kenner. And yes, I had them all on cards and opened them up to play with them.  Most of the figures on these photos are the original ones I collected in the late 70’s to early 80’s.  Some are replacements I bought around twenty years ago, so I could have better quality examples in my collection.

Unfortunately, my first R2-D2 figure got a bit wrecked.  There was a story in the aforementioned comic about the heroes being trapped on a water world.  So I took them all in the bath with me.  The detail on R2 was made from a paper sticker, which surprisingly (to five year old me) came off.  Luckily my friend Brendan later gave me his R2 and C3PO, shown here.  I repaired my R2 with a home made sticker, and gave this one a different colour so he could be a different droid.

Luke is a replacement I picked up in the late 90’s.  I bought Leia as the line was coming to an end in the mid 80’s, to replace my sisters battered version, so I’d have a good quality figure of my own.

Chewie still looks pretty good, and I still have his bowcaster all these years later.  There are two versions of Han Solo shown.  The “big head” version is mine from the late 70’s, the small head I picked up years later so I would have the variation.  The big head is my favourite of the two!

I’m not really a collector of variations, but I’ve also got two different hair colour Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi figures on show here.

Finally, I didn’t have this many stormtroopers when I was a kid.  I could only dream about having a whole squad!  I’ve picked the others up occasionally over the years at carboot sales and so on.  You always need troops!

Thanks Brendan O’Neil for R2-D2 and C3PO, and hours of playing Star Wars figures. img_5020

Who is this Random Space Toy?

Here’s a random image from the toy collection here at the Virtual Hot Tub.  I’ve had this guy since the early 1980’s, I think I picked him up from a jumble sale.  No idea who he is.  At the moment, he’s been rescued from my parent’s loft to end up in my daughter’s toy box.

Standing approximately five inches tall, he is only articulated at the arms and waist.  He looks kind of Japanese, but he’s too old to be Power Ranger.

Is he from some cool proto-anime cartoon or television show?  Or is he just some odd cheapo rip off designed to appeal to kids who love space toys?

If you know who this guy is, please get in touch and let me know.

I might offer a prize…

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Sci-Fi Action Figures

Science fiction action figures are the basis for any good toy collection.  My collection of Star Wars toys goes right back to the late 1970’s, and I’ll get round to posting some pictures of those in the future.  Oh yes, it shall happen.  Any requests, let me know.

In the meantime, I thought I’d showcase some alternative items that have been lurking around for over thirty years.  These figures aren’t always mint condition, and rarely have all the accessories they came boxed with.  And there are certainly no boxes (or cards) now, as they were all actually played with…

Battlestar Galatica figures

These 3 3/4″ action figures were produced by Mattel in the late 1970’s, to coincide with the release of the television show.  They were obviously aiming to emulate the phenomenal success of Kenner’s Star Wars figures.

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Battlestar Galactica figures

On the left of the photo is the Imperious Leader figure, all in good condition – but then other than the cloak, he didn’t have any accessories.  In the middle is Commander Adama, who bears a slight resemblance to Lorne Greene.  Unfortunately Adama’s cloak and gun are long gone.  The Cylon Centurion is the coolest figure here, though mine has lost a lot of his silver finish.  The laser gun is around however, though I didn’t use it for the picture.  The Cylon was my first Battlestar Galactica toy, a present from my Dad.

There were some other cool figures produced in this line, in particular the Ovion and Daggit were great.  Unfortunately I never owned either.  I would’ve also loved a Lt. Starbuck, but I never saw one.  Ever.

Great show, Battlestar Galactica – I love the original and the rebooted, recent version.

The Black Hole figures

Disney’s The Black Hole, however, was not that great a movie.  At least not when I saw it on TV as a kid.  Maybe I should try it again, to see if I was just too young to dig it.

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The Black Hole figures

The action figures for this film, again 3 3/4″ like Star Wars figures – were multi jointed.  As a result, the human figures were rather frail.  I had a few of them, now reduced to limbless torsos.

No matter – the stars of the show were the robots, and here we have two of the best.  The Sentry Robot (left) was particularly cool, with a holster to hold his pistol.  I have the gun safe, so this one’s probably worth a load on ebay.  Note the joints which are clearly visible.

Also, we have V.I.N.CENT – a cool design for a robot.  Laser guns and big, cute eyes.

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Blake’s 7 Liberator

Blake’s 7 

Not an action figure – this is a Corgi toy of the Liberator spaceship from BBC sci-fi serial, Blake’s 7.  You can see the Corgi stamp on the photo.  Quite a cool design for a TV spaceship.  I quite liked Blake’s 7 when I was a kid, and remember being surprised at the end…

I have lots of fond memories of finding and playing with these toys when I was young.  They’re  great souvenirs of old films, and fun times – and imagination.