Who Are those Usual Suspects?
In case there are some who may think I was only a designer concerned with new figures, please note the line up images. These are some of the rarest figures that I have collected over the years. It is more accurate to say, since I started playing with “Joes” that I never stopped collecting them. The line between toy collector and toy designer has always been a fuzzy one.
As mentioned in other articles, the Ideal Superman Captain Action was one of my first action figures. One year, the four youngest kids in my family, the only ones left that still played with toys, were all given Captain Action sets. One brother received the Phantom and Steve Canyon, another brother received the Lone Ranger and Batman and my tomboy sister was given Aquaman and Flash Gordon. We had no Captain Action figures so GI Joe had to fill in. We had a blast that year. As they aged out of toys and I never did, all those figures eventually came down to me.
When I was in high school, a friend of mine had a real Captain Action wearing a Buck Rogers costume. Since Buck’s images is not on the 1966 boxes, I did not know that he ever existed since Buck was issued in 1967, the second year of Captain Action. I traded the figure from him by making my friend a werewolf costume including a handmade latex mask and claws for a movie he was hoping to make.
The figure is in good shape but not perfect. He is missing one glove and that one he has a rip in it. One of the jets on his back has a broken pin so it does not hang properly. There is one more subtly – take a moment to look at the pictures again. Do you see the problem?
Congratulations on those with sharp eyes. Yes, he is wearing one Buck Rogers’s boots and one Captain Action boots. The Captain Action boots have a high point in the front instead of the side like Buck’s official boots.
This figure is cherished, as it is my first real Captain Action figure and it one of the more rare sets.
The 1968 Marx Sir Cedric the Black Knight in the red-skinned edition sold in the UK. That figure still has the dubious honor of requiring the most money to obtain it. Typically, I prefer to trade for expensive figures. Then it does not seem like it came out of my back account. It is more trading stock.
One time I went into a new collector shop to see a mint condition Mattel Major Matt Mason Captain Laser on a shelf. The next time I came back, I brought the empty box from Captain Laser complete with the gun attachments still in their blister.
The shop owner offered me $20. I said, “No, if you add this to your figure on the shelf it would at least double its price to be around $150. How about $50 in store credit?” He received the box and I received some undervalued 1/6th scale original Kenner Star Wars figures including Boba Fett. Since most of my figures come out to play at some time or another, keeping things in box was never important to me. I traded off other boxes in the same manor including packages from Mattel’s Hypnos and Kenner’s Six Million Dollar Man.
This figure has particular personal significance. When I was about five years old and had my beloved Gold Knight for about two years now,
one of my many brothers convinced me that in addition to the Gold Knight and Silver Knight that Marx actually made a black knight. I was SO excited about this than when my grandparents asked me what a wanted for my birthday I told them about the Black Knight. My brother also knew I asked. Obviously, I did not receive the toy I wanted and they said they looked all over for it and no one had heard of it. Instead I received an annoying little toy car named “Tijuana Taxi.” I was an action figure kid. Yes, I had some Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars but they might come out about once a month.
If you have not added up all the clues, let me clarify 1) this was in the late 1960’s 2) Marx never sold a Black Knight in the US 3) There was no internet at the time to find out what was sold outside the US 4) My brother was only 9 so there was no way a 9 year old American boy could know about what toys boys had in England since he had very few friends and none of them were English. Therefore, my brother was/is a sadistic liar doing his best to torture a younger brother.
In the late 1980’s, I found out that the joke was on him. Marx had a made a Black knight but it was only sold in the UK. It also had a cool orange skin tone to be a Moorish knight, which clearly made him an enemy to American boys in that time period. I HAD to get one. Then I found out there were two different versions of orange skin tones based on using the gold knight head or a repaint of the silver knight head. There was also a horse. I found a collector who was willing to sell the two versions and a horse, none of which were in great condition, but they came at a very hefty price. It was around $1200. I bought them. To feel better about parting with that much money I traded off a Bob Mackie Barbie and a porcelain version of Solo in the Spotlight Barbie for cash. Both of which I obtained at Mattel when they let us pick one toy from the toyshop for a Christmas Gift. I knew those would jump in value and they did.
I was happy with my purchase thought the price stung. About a year later, I was at a GI Joe Convention and saw in someone’s booth another Black Knight on horseback in about the same condition. Cautiously, I asked, “How much for this?” I was stunned to hear “$35”. “Just $35?” I asked trying to be fair and told him I had just paid way more for one. He said, “$35 is enough. I did not pay much for it and do not want to gouge people unfairly.” Then I begged him to hold it while I ran back to my booth to bring him the cash.
Later, I bought the Reissue version of the Black knight with a Caucasian skin tone. If I feel the need to play with a black knight, I take that one out for battle. The vintage ones look on at their younger brother and smile down from the shelf in pride. My original Sir Gordon the Gold Knight is also there presiding over his counsel of other gold knights, silver knights and blue knights. The red knight will enter soon since his horse is already in the stable for him.
Stay tuned for back-stories of the other three suspects next week.
What is the action figure you sought the hardest to obtain?
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