Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dinky Toys!

As a buildup-to-Xmas special, here are my favorite pages from the 1974 Dinky catalog. I started scouting for Dinky catalogs when JPX discovered PlaidStallions with all of its Corgi catalog action. Corgi toys were okay, but prior the debut of Star Wars figures Dinky toys were the vein of pure gold running through my toy collection -- the undisputed alpha toys.

Some guy named Ralf Zeigermann in the UK has this small collection of one Dinky and three Corgi catalogs (the other two of his Dinky links don't work). Not a very comprehensive resource, really, except that the 1974 Dinky catalog was THE Dinky catalog, if you get my meaning.

And this here, pages 4 and 5, was THE spread.  I would eventually have five of the nine toys featured here. My first was the Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle in the upper left of page 5, followed by Thunderbird 2 and FAB 1, and later by the U.F.O. Interceptor and Shado 2 Vehicle. I still kind of pine for the white Spectrum Maximum Security Vehicle; I look at them on ebay now and again. They're either really beat up or expensive.

Of the ones I have, most are in good to decent shape. I know the FAB 1's dome is cracked and I personally pried out the Parker and Lady Penelope figures. The SPV, unfortunately, is a stripped hulk of a toy. Those little rubber tires come off, and because kids like to take things off they all vanished. Well, not completely. At one point I noticed the SPV and the FAB 1 had the same tires, so I cannibalized a couple from the former to fully tire the Rolls.

One of my other Dinkys is the MRCA seen above, with "swing-wings." Kind of an odd choice, but then again the only place I remember ever seeing Dinky toys for sale was in the toy store at the Mystic Seaport next to the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut. I'm sure it was an overpriced little touristy shop and I remember specifically that they each cost ten dollars, which was of course huge money. The problem with the MRCA was that the wings and the landing gear were on the same lever, so if the wings were sticking out the landing gear was down. Kinda lame.

I've included these two pics because I recall drooling over that hovercraft again and again. The military one is cooler but the red one was pretty temptatious as well. But I never saw either one.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday

If you're not familiar with the term, Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, which is always the single heaviest shopping day of the year. The name was supposedly coined by those who work in retail, hence the negativism. For them, it's a suck day. For a lot of people, it's a day of opportunity.

For toy geeks, it's often a day where new stuff is on the shelves. On Black Friday in 1995, JPX and I got up super early to hit the stores. Toys R Us opened at 7 am, and we were there. But they didn't have what we wanted. What we wanted: In anticipation of the Special Editions of the original Star Wars trilogy coming out, new Star Wars figures were being made for the first time in twenty years. The first wave of the new figures was just kicking around that autumn, and the hard ones to find were 3PO and Princess Leia. Jeff wanted the princess and I wanted the droid.

So we headed next door to the Swansea Mall, which was open to the public before the stores lifted their security gates. Sure enough, right on the other side of the gate to Kay Bee Toy and Hobby was a display of Star Wars figs, and right in the front was a 3PO and a Leia. The store wouldn't open for another 45 minutes, so JPX and I used the time to head to the nearby Walmart in Seekonk.

Walmart was disappointing, but worse than that, when we got back to Kay Bee there was a big ol' nerd parked right on the other side of the gate from the SW rack. Damn! This was a pretty typical example of our ilk: about 300 pounds of misfit stuffed into an army jacket that I'm sure hung on a hook in his parents' basement. I sidled up next to him as best I could and stood silently in the gathering crowd, poised like a gunslinger for when it was time to make my move. Soon a noisy guy showed up behind me, going "maaaan, look at all the people. Hey, what are you trying to get? What about you? How about you, dude?" The big nerd reluctantly spoke up: "oh, 3PO, the Princess...the hard-to-get ones." I grinned to myself. He had broken his poker face facade, clearly he had tipped his advantage. I set my gaze ahead and waited.

During all this I was assuming that when go time came, an employee would come up to the gate and turn a key on the floor, saying "let's take it easy people." But no. They stayed behind the counter and pressed a button somewhere. Suddenly the gate was rising past the toes of my boots. I made a split-second calculation: clearly I'd surrendered all dignity by just being here this early in the morning, I might as well get what I came for. When the gate was about two feet high, I flattened and zipped underneath it. Grab! 3PO in one hand. Grab! Princess Leia in the other. Fwoosh! Suddenly I was in the middle of a tight sea of people, clawing at the rack. I turned around and looked at JPX, triumphantly holding the two figs above the scrambling mass around me. His huge grin reflected the one I felt on my own face. Success! Blissful success.

I estimated I had two or three whole seconds with the rack to myself. On the way out, I stopped and got myself an R2D2, a fig that had been out for a while and was not hard to get. The noisy guy was still there, talking, and I heard him say "man, that first guy just flew!" Jeff and I rode that high for the rest of the holiday, and in a way we're still riding it.

This has become my signature story of just how committed a nerd I am.

Good times.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sunday, November 09, 2008

FX-6 from Revenge of the Sith

I had this in my hands today and then put it down for some reason. Now I want it.