Friday, 29 March 2019

BATMAN RETURNS...


BATMAN copyright DC COMICS

Yes, yes, I know... I've shown this MARX TOYS Twistable BATMAN at least a couple of times before on the blog, but trust me - there's a reason for his 'return performance'.  First, let me tell you about ol' Bats here.  When I got him around 25 years ago (to replace the few I'd had as a kid), he didn't have his Bat-emblem, utility belt or Bat-a-rang - so I made them.  I also used his original, very worn cape as a template to make a new one, and that's all my handiwork in the above photo.  Bats cost me either £30 or £35 at the time, and I considered it a good buy.  (As opposed to a 'goodbye' - to my dosh.)

Around a fortnight or so ago, I saw another of the same Bats figure on ebay with a starting price of £10.50, and with only one bidder.  It was in a similar condition to my own toy when I'd first bought it, though perhaps the cape was just a little more shabby.  "I'll keep my eye on him," I thought, "and see if I can get me another figure to restore."  It stayed at that price until a day or two before the auction ended, when it suddenly went up to £26 or £28 because of others bidding on it.  Not long before the auction ended (an hour or so, can't quite remember) the price was suddenly £211, with the figure finally going for £260-odd.  I never did bid on the figure because, at that price, I'd be wanting a pristine condition one complete with his accessories, not one that required work.  But hey, £260 - that's some serious moolah!

If there's anyone out there who has a spare utility belt and Bat-a-rang for this figure, get in touch through the comments section and I'll make you an offer.  Although I think I did a good job restoring Bats, I'd like to nudge him a little closer to his original condition as far as his appearance goes (no, not to sell, just to look more like he should).  Also, give me a shout if you've got the original header-card (or a copy) for the clear polythene bag in which he was sold back in the '60s.

Thursday, 28 March 2019

DID YOU HAVE A JR21 THUNDERBIRD 2? (UPDATED)...



Regular readers of this blog may be forgiven for labouring under the impression that I was a spoiled child in my younger years.  After all, I've previously related a few reminiscences about looking into shop windows and asking my mother to buy me a particular toy, only for her to acquiesce to my earnest pleas.  However, this is a totally false impression, as the number of times I was refused far outweighs the few times I got a result.  On two separate occasions a couple of years apart, my entreaties to my parents to buy me a CECIL COLEMAN SUPERCAR were rebuffed in no uncertain terms (as were my requests for various other things in between).  I'd first spied the toy on an end-of-aisle display in my local SAFEWAY, but my mother was resolute and declined to buy it for me.

The second time I laid eyes on it was in Glasgow's famous BARRAS market and, despite costing less than its Safeway doppelganger, the answer was still a resounding no.  When I eventually managed to obtain one decades later, it cost me a whopping £350.  So rest assured, I didn't always (or even nearly always) get what I wanted whenever I asked, it's just that, in relating these tales from childhood, I've chosen the few-and-far-between instances when the answer was yes, but taken out of context, it looks like "yes" was the answer a disproportionate number of times.

Which brings me to a day trip to Ayr with my family in 1967 or '68.  We were sitting on a bench in a park near the seafront, when I spotted a fellow youth running over the neatly-kept lawned areas on either side of the pathway, holding aloft an actual THUNDERBIRD 2.  I immediately coveted it and drew my mother's attention to the wondrous toy.  Maybe she was feeling guilty about all the things my brother got  and decided to redress the balance by purchasing a toy for me.  (Now he was spoiled; cycles, cycle accessories, all sorts of stuff, you name it - if he wanted it, it seems, in the distant caverns of memory, that he got it.)  She asked the boy where he had obtained the TB2 and he pointed to a shop across the road, and faster than a fart from The FLASH, I was the proud owner of a JR21 Thunderbird 2.  It was a magnificent toy to someone of my age, and I have many happy memories of it.  I even took it in to school one day and the teacher put it on display on top of a shelf next to the blackboard, as I looked on proudly at the apple of my eye.


I remember playing with it in bed (right, any more of that, you lot, and you'll be ejected), and it was probably my favourite toy - at least until another favourite toy came along.  It was fragile though, and one of the 'pegs' which kept the pod door in place eventually broke, and I had to fashion a replacement peg out of cardboard in order to maintain the door's functionality.  Eventually, TB2 must have been sent to the place where all the other discarded toys of my childhood went to (toy heaven), where they doubtless sat around moaning about what a careless, fickle, cruel and heartless owner I'd been.

Anyway, today I received a long-overdue replacement for that JR21 TB2.  If you had one of these as a kid, you may remember a slight sense of disappointment when you opened the box and found an out-of-scale plastic jeep in place of an actual Thunderbirds vehicle.  (That's the one I had also.)  However, take a look at the photo above and seethe with jealousy.  What you're looking at is one of the rarer versions that contained a TB4, which makes it immensely rare, hugely collectable and ridiculously expensive.  There were only a few hundred ever produced with the TB4 and I've got one.  Or at least I would have if I wasn't lying through my teeth in order to induce feelings of envy, frustration, and lust in your heavily-palpitating breasts.  Yes, that's right, I'm kidding - the TB4 is one that came free with packets of KELLOGG'S SUGAR SMACKS back in the '60s.  (Had you going there for a moment, eh?)  Looks the part though, doesn't it?  This is the way the toy should've been issued back then, instead of with a poxy little jeep, don't you agree?

And yet... and yet... that wee jeep was part of my childhood and I'd like to own it again.  My newly-arrived TB2 came in its original box but sans jeep and I won't be completely (but temporarily) fulfilled until I can once more place it in its pod where it belongs.  If I'd been prepared to spend around £120 more, I could have bought one with a jeep, but it's not quite worth that (or anywhere near it) - not in my view anyway.  So, dear readers, do any of you have a spare JR21 jeep you'd be prepared to sell me at a reasonable price?  If so, get in touch via the comments section and help me reunite my TB2 with its little green (or was it brown?) vehicle.  Then we can all live happily ever after.  (Wouldn't that be nice?)




And, in answer to PS's request (see comments section), below is someone else's TB2 along with the original jeep.  Shame its wings are on backwards, eh?  (The TB2, not the jeep.)


Update:  And below, in a photo taken nearly 50 years after the event, is the very classroom in which my TB2 was displayed back in the '60s.  In my day, it had more traditional desks (ones with lids and inkwells) and wooden seats, and my toy sat on the left (as we look at it) of the blackboard, on top of the shelf.  Can't quite recall if that smaller, narrow bookcase just under the clock was there in my day, but it could well have been - in which case (and if there was space) my TB2 would've sat in front of it.  I do remember books on top of the shelf though (one of which was MARY POPPINS), so they may have sat in that bookcase.

I took this photo, amongst many others, towards the end of 2013, and the school was demolished at the beginning of 2014.  I wish I'd obtained my replacement toy back then, as you can bet your boots I'd have placed it on the shelf before taking the photo, just to re-create the moment.  Never mind, at least the two images co-exist in the same post, which is the next best thing. 

Sunday, 24 March 2019

RUMINATING REPOST: HAVE YOU MISSED THE BUS...?



Funny what thoughts go through one's mind during a casual glance out of the window, isn't it?  When I first moved into these vaulted halls many years ago, I had a panoramic view of the far horizons from my bedroom window.  Over the years, I grew to enjoy observing seemingly tiny double-decker buses, interiors lit up against the darkness of the night sky, as they traversed their routes in the distance.  I'd watch, fascinated, as they suddenly entered stage left, and then parade across the bejewelled black canvas backdrop of night, before exiting, stage right, from the scene.

Sometimes, of course, they'd glide into view in reverse order to the one just described, and at other times, two buses would appear simultaneously from opposite directions and approach one another like dueling behemoths, only to pass without incident or acknowledgement in the middle.  On occasions such as these I was spoilt for choice, my eyes dancing from one to the other, captivated by these glowing little boxes on wheels as they narrowed the distance between them.  I can't explain it, but there's just something magical about watching lit vehicles at night from afar, especially if one is within the cozy confines of one's own hearth and home at the time.

Nowadays, I still have pretty much the same vista spread before me, but there have been encroachments.  Due to building developments, part of the stretch of road along which these buses run has been blocked from my view.  I'm lucky if I can spy on the sojourns of these night-time buses for half the span I enjoyed in years past, before they disappear from sight behind a new school near the road.  I can't help but wonder if those narrowing horizons might mirror my life in some symbolic way.

In youth, with the future stretching seemingly endlessly before me, my life was in 'widescreen';  as the years have passed the screen has shrunk until it is now 'regular'.  Imagine if, in some strange way, the remaining visibility of that stretch of road was an indication of the measure of time left to me.  (And that's if I'm lucky.)  Of course, I can only hope that the two aren't connected.  Otherwise, if that view of the road and its procession of buses becomes completely obscured anytime soon, then I'll be deep in the softsmelly brown stuff

It's a sobering thought.  And, being a teetotaller, I'm already as sober as I need to be.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

MIGHTY MARVEL CHECKLIST - ON SALE NOW!!!


AVENGERS UNIVERSE #17

Copyright MARVEL COMICS.  Published by PANINI

76 pages of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes!

The ‘No Surrender’ saga continues as the secret of Voyager is exposed!  By Mark Waid, Al Ewing, Jim Zub & Paco Medina!

Featuring material first printed in Avengers #682-684.

On sale 21st March.

£4.99.

******

WOLVERINE & DEADPOOL #16


76 pages of Marvel’s toughest heroes!  Three awesome stories!

Take a trip into the future and discover the fate of Wolverine!  It's a story we had to call... Old Woman Laura!  By Tom Taylor & Ramon Rosanas!

Logan races against time to save the X-student Glob Herman!  By Ed Brisson & Ibraim Roberson!

The Punisher is still gunning for Deadpool in Suicide Kings!  By Mike Benson & Carlo Barberi!

Featuring material first printed in All-New Wolverine #33, Old Man Logan #40 and Deadpool:  Suicide Kings #3-4.

On sale 21st March.

£4.99.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

BABE OF THE DAY - TOTTIE TRUESOME...



Actually, I've no idea what her name is, but I wasn't going to let a little thing like that prevent me posting this lovely lady for you to admire her grace and elegance, to say nothing of her taste in antique furniture.  I'm hoping she's also got a taste in 'antique' men, as then I may be in with a chance.

Monday, 18 March 2019

THE DALEKS INVADE ROTHESAY...


Copyright relevant owner

A whopping fifty-four years ago, while holidaying in Rothesay, my mother bought me the above copy of TV CENTURY 21.  Well, not this actual copy - this one's a replacement I bought recently, but in my mind, it's easy to believe that this is the very issue I hold in my young hands in the photos below.  I have every single copy of TV21 ever published - but only on a data disc.  However, I do own quite a goodly number of original issues as well, and the disc is only to save me having to scan them individually whenever I want to do a blog post about the title.


However, as there's historical pictorial evidence of my ownership of this number, I decided to put the work in and scan the actual issue, so what you're looking at is my very own copy of TV21.  Still got my own hair and teeth, and I'm gradually reacquiring many of the items I owned as a kid or teenager, which is probably the best way to do things.  After all, it's harder to replace your hair and teeth than it is your other former possessions, so I reckon I'm ahead in the game.  Do you have any photos of your younger self holding a comic or toy that you owned back then?  Tell your fellow Criv-ites all about it in the comments section.






THE DALEK ORACLE (UPDATED)...


Copyright BBC TV & the Estate of TERRY NATION

Oh, look at what I've got - the figure from The DALEK ORACLE game.  Don't have the game (£400 on ebay at the moment), but I've got the modern release of The MAGIC ROBOT (called The AMAZING ROBOT, but is exactly the same) and once I remember where I put it, I'll see if the Dalek works in the Robot's place.  As with most '60s Dalek merchandise, not 100% accurate as far as the design goes, but still nice to have.  "Exterminate!"


Update:  Found my Robot game on top of the wardrobe and tried it out with the Dalek.  Unfortunately, though operating on the same basic principle, there are some differences.  The Robot game has 16 questions and answers per sheet, whereas the Dalek game has only 12.  The Robot always points at the answer (on the right-hand side of the sheet) six places away from where the question is located (on the left-hand side), whereas the Dalek points at the answer four places away (on its own sheet), so maybe that has something to do with it.  Having said that, I see that if the answers in the Robot game were swapped with the ones directly opposite each other, then the Dalek would point to the correct answer.  

SUPERCAR - THE MARVEL OF THE AGE...



It was 1962 or '63, and there I was, gazing into a newsagent's window at the wonderful friction-drive SUPERCAR toy that was on display.  The location was my local neighbourhood shops and I was accompanying my mother as she bought some 'messages'.  The toy must've been inexpensive, or perhaps my birthday was looming, because when I asked her to buy it for me, surprisingly, she complied.  I was never a spoilt child (well, apart from the time a steamroller ran over me), so even today I find myself wondering why she so readily assented to indulge me.

Of course, as you can see for yourselves, the toy can hardly be described as an accurate representation of the craft from the TV show, but it was close enough and I doubt that I was ever aware of the difference.  I remember one of the wings warped from the heat of our BELLING fire when I sat the toy on top of it, but I couldn't say exactly when that happened - days, weeks, or months later.  Nor could I say when it faded into the limbo that's reserved for most childhood playthings, but that's where it must've eventually sloped off to.
  
Until earlier tonight (Saturday), when I bid on the toy on ebay and won it.  These are the seller's photos you're looking at, as obviously I haven't yet got my grubby mitts on it, but it'll be winging its way to me soon, and then I'll be reunited with another fondly-remembered item from my long-ago childhood.  Only a few more essential replacements to go before I call a halt to my quest - at least for a while.  After all, there's always something else that comes along and stirs the quiet waters of my memory, asking me to invite it back into the fold.  Which I do - just so long as I can afford it.

Now, where can I obtain a SPACE BLIMP OF CHRISTMAS?
   





And here it is in its nice new replica box, below.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

THERE WERE THESE TWO WARRIORS...


Copyright relevant and respective owners

Back in 1982, a new monthly magazine hit the shelves - WARRIOR!  The brainchild of DEZ SKINN, the name was recycled from a fanzine he'd produced in 1974, but we'll get to that shortly.  The first issue of the '80s mag featured the revival of MARVELMAN, originally published by L. MILLER & SON, and a copy of FAWCETT's CAPTAIN MARVEL.  The substitution was necessitated when Fawcett cancelled the 'BIG RED CHEESE' following a lawsuit by DC COMICS (N.P.P.), and as Miller had been reprinting the Marvel Family stories, a ringer was required PDQ.  MICK ANGLO (artist of Marvelman) always freely admitted that the character was an outright imitation of Captain Marvel, which makes me wonder if DC Comics, who now own Fawcett's SHAZAM character, could launch a plagiarism suit against MARVEL COMICS, who now own Marvelman?  Time will tell, but that's a subject we're not going to explore here.

The new Warrior also saw other great strips among its pages, such as V For VENDETTA, and LASER ERASER And PRESSBUTTON, and featured the cream of Britain's adventure artists of the time - such as GARRY LEACH, STEVE MOORE, DAVE GIBBONS, JOHN BOLTON, DAVID LLOYD, and STEVE PARKHOUSE.  The writing duties in the debut ish were performed by the likes of ALAN MOORE and STEVE MOORE (no relation, but good pals), with other writers penning various other strips throughout its 26 issue, three year run, during which time it won 17 EAGLE AWARDS.  Distribution was spotty, because I only ever managed to get the first several issues before it disappeared from view in my local shops, and going from what other readers have subsequently said, it was the same for them.

Anyway, here's a few pages from that first issue, after which we'll take a look at the original incarnation of the title.       

Art by Garry Leach


Art by Garry Leach

The Spiral Path.  Art by Steve Parkhouse

The Legend of Prester John.  Art by John Bolton

Art by David Lloyd

Art by John Bolton

Art by Steve Dillon

Enjoy the pretty pictures?  Good!  That's not something that can be said about the '74 incarnation, which lasted for six issues into 1975.  Not that the art wasn't good, because it was (how could it be otherwise with artists like JOHN M. BURNS, DON LAWRENCE, FRANK BELLAMY, and TOM KERR?) - thing is, the reproduction in most cases wasn't.

It was unavoidable I suppose, when it came to colour art reprinted in black and white, but even original b&w pages didn't come out too well, and it's hardly surprising that the mag was short-lived.  'Twas a brave try though, so Dez should be given a pat on the head, a BLUE PETER badge, and an extra-big bag of JELLY BABIES for his efforts.  There's no point showing you the duff pages here 'cos they'll only hurt your eyes, but I've included pages from a couple of strips that are slightly clearer than the others.  ERIC The VIKING from SMASH! was originally KARL The VIKING from BUSTER, but that's perhaps a tale for another post.

Did you buy either of the two mags back in their respective times, and if so, got any memories or observations that you'd care to share with your fellow Criv-ites?  If the answer to that is yes, then the comments section awaits your esteemed presence.  

Art by Frank Bellamy


Art by Don Lawrence

Art by Tom Kerr

Thursday, 14 March 2019

BLUE PETER HOLIDAY SPECIAL 1976...


Copyright BBC TV

It's funny how things from childhood become more important to you the older you get, isn't it?  Take BLUE PETER for example.  When I was a kid I didn't own any of the books (can't remember even seeing them in fact), but now I have all the ones featuring CHRISTOPHER TRACE, VALERIE SINGLETON, JOHN NOAKES, PETER PURVES, and LESLEY JUDD.  I've also got a few random ones from later years with some of the newer presenters, including the very last Blue Peter book ever published - plus an autographed (non-Blue Peter) copy of a book about dogs by John Noakes.

I think there was a spell in the '90s where the books were put on hiatus and a magazine was issued instead.  I've got it somewhere and will put up a picture of it at a later date, but as far as I know, it was a one-off.  Not long ago, however, I discovered that there had been a Blue Peter Holiday Special in 1976, published by IPC, and I recently managed to obtain a copy, the cover of which you can see at the top of this very post.  Again, I believe it was a one-off, yet it's interesting to speculate what further editions of the Special would've been like, and whether they'd have affected the sale of the yearly books.

In an early issue of WHAM! back in the '60s, there was a letter from one Lesley Judd, and I've often wondered whether it was the same Lesley who went on to present the programme several years later.  Again, I'll add the letter here once I find the time to dig through my back issues and locate it, but that might take a while as not all of them are easily accessible.  I find that by collecting things connected to the show (like two genuine Blue Peter badges for example) helps to reconnect me to that particular period in my life when I used to watch it, though I was never a regular or consistent viewer.  Funny thing is though, when I think back, it seems that I watched it far more often than I know I actually did.

It's interesting to see JOHN CRAVEN included in the Special, because I've always thought that he would've fitted right in as a Blue Peter presenter, and I wonder if he ever auditioned for the role.  He was sort of a mixture between Peter Purves and John Noakes and would've made an ideal replacement if either one of them had decided to leave after just a few short years, instead of the mammoth duration they stuck with the show.  (10 years in Peter's case, and 12 years in Noaksy's.) 

Anyway, if you're as old as me, I thought you might enjoy seeing some pages from this one-shot collectors' issue and reliving part of your youth, when you'd get in from school, flick through the TV (which didn't take long as there were only three channels), then decide if you were going to watch Blue Peter or MAGPIE.  I seem to remember flicking between both programmes depending what was being featured at the time, but my memory might be playing tricks on me, as I'm not even sure whether they were broadcast on the same days.  Anyone know?










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