Monday, 6 July 2020


I really don't know where my head is sometimes.  There was I, a couple or so posts back, showing you some of my prize friction-drive toys from the '60s & '70s, and guess what?  I only forgot to include two of the best ones.  Doh!  Anyway, if you'd like to see which ones, click on this link.  Meanwhile, I'll try to remember whether there's any others I inadvertently overlooked.


For those Crivs who are also fellow Mellows, my other blog - MILD & MELLOW MELANCHOLY MUSINGS - now has an exclusive new post, which can be accessed by clicking this link.

Sunday, 5 July 2020


You'll have to excuse me, Crivs.  I was going to write a new post, but then I realised I had to feed the cat.  (That's her above.)  I may be some time.  "Here, kitty-kitty!"

Friday, 3 July 2020


I've got a few other friction-drive toys than just the ones shown here, but they'll have to wait for another time as they're up in the loft - and these babies are the 'biggies' of my f-d collection anyway.  Two of them I obtained when I enquired on this 'ere blog if anyone had them and the sellers got in touch.  See?  There can be benefits to this blogging malarkey that you'd never have anticipated, and I'd likely still be without YOGI on his scooter and SANTA in his Space Blimp if Crivens didn't exist.

I've shown most of them before, but these are all brand-new photos taken especially for this post.  Of the seven toys being shown for the first time, two are of Yogi Bear - one of him in his car and the other a 'running' Yogi - no doubt fleeing from RANGER SMITH or CINDY BEAR.  The others are of a nifty little racing car, two rabbits, and a mouse.

Anyway, I hope that you'll enjoy the images that follow - they were all taken especially for you.  Incidentally, all '60s toys shown here are the original versions (as are the others) - there's not a modern reissue or replica to be seen.  Did you have any of them when you were a kid?  If so, share your memories with your fellow Crivvies.

Update: How could I do it?!  I forgot two of my most prized f-d toys - GEMINI SPACE CAPSULE and STEVE ZODIAC & ZOONY The LAZOON.  Now added, so check them out!  Also, I just realised that the SMASH MARTIAN is a wind-up toy, so I've removed him from this post.  He'll turn up again when I eventually get around to doing one about 'clockwork' toys.


What's that?  You want more SPACE BLIMP?  Calm yourselves, you impetuous Crivs, you know the old saying about having too much of a good thing.  Therefore, for a change of pace, here's the stunning VALERIE PEREZ to take your mind of Blimpy.  If she doesn't do it then nothing will.  (I kinda reckon she can do it though.)


I recently bought a SPACE BLIMP Of CHRISTMAS, manufactured by LP Toys back in the '60s.  What's that?  I already mentioned it?  Are you sure?  Well, whad'ya know, it must've slipped my mind.  Seeing as I'm here, I may as well show show these new photos I took of my classic collectable item.  Betcha wish you had one, eh?  No? What's wrong with you guys?!  Are you ill?  

Thursday, 2 July 2020


One of the things that appeals to me about my recently acquired SPACE BLIMP Of CHRISTMAS is the fact that, apart from being taken out of its box for the seller to photograph for his ebay listing, it's remained unopened and unplayed with since it was first bought sometime back in the '60s.  It's difficult to know the precise date because I'm unsure which version of the toy came first or in what year it was released.  Was it the one I just bought, which required a few small parts being slotted into place, or was it the one which came already assembled in a larger window box?

The manufacturer was LP Toys, and if the window boxed version was first, maybe switching to a smaller box and having the customers attach a few pieces themselves was a way of reducing production costs.  Or, if the reverse, perhaps pieces were breaking while being slotted in, leading to complaints from parents and returns to shops and then to the manufacturer.  Also, maybe it was thought sales would improve if kids could actually see the toy in a window box, with all pieces already attached.  A choice of two scenarios regarding which one came first, but will we ever know?

And were the pieces (reindeer head, tail, tree, sack) attached the same way in both versions, or did the pre-assembled one employ a more secure method of attachment than the smaller boxed one, which seems a bit fragile in that regard?  If anybody out there knows, fill me in on the details.  Anyway, as I said, the toy has never been played with, which means I'm the first owner to attach the pieces since the Blimp was made back in the '60s.  I know I owned my original one no later than 1968, but I've never been able to shake the feeling that I got it earlier, possibly '66.

As you can see in the accompanying photos, in common with many toys made in Hong Kong in the '60s, the paint job on mass-produced items wasn't always applied particularly neatly.  Although the Blimp had never been played with (the reindeer head, tail, etc., were still untouched in their bags), Santa's beard, gloves and fur trim hadn't been painted with much precision.  I therefore gave them a minor 'retouching' to improve their appearance, but didn't go overboard so as to retain their '60s 'spirit'. Take a look and compare the 'before and after' photos .

Collectors who believe that things should be left in their original state, even if imperfect, will be aghast, but I prefer to put my personal 'stamp' on a toy (when 'corrective' work is required) so that it then becomes mine, as opposed to a generic example of its kind.  I wouldn't advise just anyone to try it, but I'm handy with a brush (as you'll know if you've seen my painted model kits on the blog) and I'm of the opinion that if some 'remedial' tinkering improves the visual appearance of a toy then it's worth it.  Judge for yourselves whether I was successful in my aim.

What do fellow collectors think?  Leave untouched whatever the condition - or repair, restore, or improve if you can do it to a high standard? 


Images copyright respective owners

What's that, Barry?  You say you don't want to talk about my SPACE BLIMP Of CHRISTMAS?!  Hey, what's wrong with you, man?  All Crivs everywhere are enthralled by the subject.  Okay, then - you write about whatever you want, but don't blame me if people ask "Hey, where's the Blimp?"


I believe there were many reasons why Marvel achieved such great popularity in the 1960s.  At the time they were travelling a unique route and it drew me in.  People refer to the “Silver Age” beginning with The Flash and they often discuss the complete DC reboot in Crisis, but Marvel had a major reboot in 1961.  And it drew me in.

First, over the years I have been nicely asked, and also very rudely asked, why I wrote about Marvel in the Silver Age and not DC.  An interesting question con-sidering I read twice as many DC books as Marvel.  (Mainly because DC published twice as many books!)  Simply, I had been paid to write about Marvel.  If they pay me I would write about DC.  Hell, pay me and I'd even write about Casper, the Friendly Ghost!!

The original reason I wrote about Marvel has all to do with... Batman!  Yes, Batman!!!!!  In the early 1960s a Batman letter column questioned a reader who claimed to be an authority.  “Do you know that Batman carried a gun?” the editor asked.  Well, I didn’t.  Batman was 22 years old when I started reading him and he had a long history that I knew nothing about.

Batman #171 (May 1965) introduced The Riddler to Silver Age readers.  In a footnote, the editor suggests reading his appearance in Detective Comics #140, published in 1948, as if I could just go and pick that issue up at the local stands. There were no reprints or comic book stores then.

You write about what you know!!!  With Action Comics up to issue 300, Wonder Woman in the 150s, I knew I would never be able to catch up - or understand what they represented in their original time of the 1940s.  For Marvel I felt I was there in the beginning, with Fantastic Four #1 and Amazing Adventures #1 with Dr. Droom.  They didn’t have a 20 year history and many different writers ands artists. They were new.

Or so I thought.  Although it was ignored, Marvel did have a very Timely history. And an Atlas one, but unlike DC, which carried on with the Batman and Superman continuity and introduced Earth II with the JSA, Marvel ignored their past. During the “Silver Age” Marvel referred to their Golden Age continuity only three times: Fantastic Four Annual #4 and Sub-Mariner issues #8 and #14.  They referred to their Atlas history twice - Captain America #153-155 and with the arrival of the “newest” Black Knight in Marvel Super-Heroes #17.  Note that Stan Lee did it only once, in a Fantastic Four Annual, and Roy Thomas, who loved Marvel’s past, did it in all the others.  (As editor he gave the assignment to Steve Englehart on the Captain America story.)  Near the end of the Marvel Age, Roy added The Invaders, but with a different “history,” mostly, than the Timely era.

People don’t discuss this much, referring to the “Silver Age” beginning with The Flash and often discussing the complete DC reboot in Crisis, but Marvel had a major reboot in 1961.  And it drew me in.


Great stuff, Barry.  Hopefully, all dutiful Crivs will respond with an appreciative comment to say how much they enjoyed reading your post.  But, like I said, don't blame me if they ask about the Blimp.

Tuesday, 30 June 2020


It's funny the imagination we have as kids, don't you think?  We seem to be able to visualise impossible, unlikely, or even contradictory scenarios in the 'ideas factory' of our minds.  Our brains don't have much (if any) difficulty in running along two different trains of thought at the same time, even if reason and common sense dictate that those 'trains' shouldn't be able to run on tracks so closely parallel to one another without risking a collision when they reach the junction (metaphorically speaking). No, it's not a perfect analogy, but you know what I mean.

Which is a rather grandiose (pretentious even?) way of setting the scene for the simple subject matter of this latest post, but let's stick with it for a just a little longer. In my vast and diverse collection of DVDs, there's one entitled A FLINTSTONE CHRISTMAS.  Haven't watched it since I first owned it in VHS format around 30 years ago, but if I recall correctly, FRED and BARNEY stand in for SANTA (who's caught a cold) in order to deliver presents that year.  Even in their comic strips and mags, the Flinststones have been depicted celebrating the Festive Season.

The obvious problem with just such a scenario, however, is that the Stone Age occurred long, long before the birth of CHRIST, so Christmas didn't exist back in Fred and Barney's time.  But why let that little fact get in the way of a story though, eh?  Kids would probably be unaware of the dichotomy of the situation because, presumably, they're more willing to accept whatever's presented to them without analysing it for mistakes or contradictions (or some other reason).

Whatever the cause, when I was a kid I was the same when it came to contriving adventures for two of my toys to embark on as a duo.  I often sat on the back step of my house and dreampt up stories involving my Fred figure from my MARX Toys FLINTSTONE FLIVVER, and Santa from my LP Toys SPACE BLIMP Of CHRISTMAS.  (Yes, I'm back to that again - it arrived today.)  It never occurred to me that the characters couldn't co-exist in the same 'reality', so that never got in the way of the imaginary escapades I created for them. 

Note that the pattern on Fred's Flivver is almost a perfect
match with my kitchen worktop in the above photo 

Now, at the back step of every home I've ever lived in we kept the same 'shoe scraper' grate, which came with us whenever we moved house.  In the one I then lived in, I'd sit with my feet on the grate while Fred and Santa (the Unlikely Duo) palled about in whatever situation I mentally placed them (mental being an appropriate word in my case).  That grate sits at the back door of my present abode (though now it's an inner back door as we closed off the once open back porch, which has another door), so I thought I'd rope it in for a photo opportunity in order to provide this post with some pictorial content.

I managed to obtain a replacement for my Flintstone Flivver around 20 years or so ago, and I bought the replacement for the Blimp on Sunday (as I said, it arrived today).  Originally, there was a gap of around five or six years between my '60s possession of these two toys, though they met their demise at the same time in the '70s.  It's good to see two old 'pals' reunited, and although they might be only two lumps of lifeless plastic to you, to me they're family and it's great to see them together again.

Okay, doctor, I've finished typing - just let me hit 'publish' and then you can take me back to the nut-hut.  Flibble!

But before I go, let me ask you Crivs a question that I've asked before, but I'll ask again for the benefit of any new readers (though older ones can answer it again if they want to).  Is there a particular toy from your childhood that you'd love to own again, and what specific memories does it conjure up in your mind?  The comments section is ravenous, so please feed it as much as you like.

Update: As you can see in the above photos, in common with a lot of '60s toys made in Hong Kong, the paint job on mass-produced items was seldom administered neatly.  Although the Space Blimp had clearly never been played with (as witnessed by the fact that the reindeer head, etc., were still untouched in their bags), Santa's beard, gloves and fur trim had been painted with not much precision.  I therefore gave them a minor touch-up to improve their cosmetic appeal, while not going overboard so that they retained the 'spirit' of their '60s appearance.  Take a look below and compare the 'before and after' photos .

Of course, some collectors will be aghast, believing as they do that toys should be left in their original state even if slightly inferior, but I prefer to put my 'stamp' on them (only when 'corrective' work is required) so that it then becomes my toy, as opposed to a generic example of its kind.  I wouldn't advise just anyone to do this, but I'm a dab hand with a brush (as you'll know if you've seen my built and painted model kits on the blog) and I'm of the opinion that a toy is much improved after any 'remedial' tinkering by me.  You can judge for yourselves. 

Monday, 29 June 2020


All images their respective owners

While my book is called "The Marvel Age Companion", the most important part of it, for me, is the "Being There" section which describes my journey of reading comics during the Silver Age, and then discovering that there was a GOLDEN AGE!!!!!  I wasn't born with that information.

Fantastic Four #4 (1962) mentioned that The Sub-Mariner had been a comic book character of the 1940s.  In the late summer of 1963, Strange Tales #114 trumpeted a character "from out of the Golden Age" named Captain America.  I had never heard of him.

For comic book fans the most important book of all time was Jules Feiffer's Great Comic Book Heroes.  Along with a brilliant essay there were a dozen stories from the Forties.  Superman and Batman (with a murderous Joker no less) were reprinted.  There were also the origins of The Flash, Green Lantern and Plastic Man, a one-page Captain Marvel tale and The Spirit.  These were the guys inventing the formulas, not following them. And they had no Comics Code censoring anything.  People got killed, villains were not always caught and women were, well, sexier.

The first use of the words "Golden Age" referring to the comics of the 1940s was by Richard A. Lupoff in an article called "Re-Birth" in Comic Art #1, page 5, "They came in the thirties, their golden age was in the forties.  They declined in the fifties...."

In December 1965, Superman #183, an 80-Page Giant, reprinted three Golden Age stories.  DC also soon reprinted a Golden Age Batman Sunday comic strip.  DC tried to hide the fact that their Golden Age characters were cut from a different cloth.  For example, in a 1960 Giant, DC republished a page (that's it, just one page of Joe Shuster art) from Superman #1.  In 1939, a caption from that original story read: "Nothing less than a bursting shell could pierce his skin."  The reprint was altered to read: "Not even a bursting shell could pierce his skin."  DC did not reprint many examples of their Golden Age material until the 1970s.  The DC annuals also reprinted some Batman comic strip pages which were beautiful.

In "The Flash of Two Worlds" (The Flash #123, Sep. 1961) and their "Crisis" series in Justice League, DC began to re-introduce the Golden Age heroes and integrate them into their current storytelling.  Giving themselves a clean slate to start their new age, Marvel referred to their Golden Age continuity only three times in the Marvel Age period: Fantastic Four Annual #4 and Sub-Mariner #8 and #14.  Marvel's 1950's Atlas era was referred to twice, in  Captain America #153-155 and with the arrival of the "newest" Black Knight in Marvel Super-Heroes #17.  Near the end of the Marvel Age, The Invaders, in 1975, presented a retelling of Namor's origin.

The Human Torch had his roots in the Marvel Age, so did many other Marvel characters including Mr. Fantastic.  In Mystic Comics #1, 1940 an "elastic" hero named The Thin Man appeared for one issue, a year before Plastic Man.

My path to the EC comics was not a straight one.  First, Mad magazine was always in my life.  I was able to read many of the original stories in the Ballantine (I think) paperbacks of the time.  They were old, but they were current and funny.  I had read a great deal about EC, all bad, I might add, but the 1960s was an era without comic book stores and I just couldn't find them.

In the late 1960s I had read a bunch that a neighbor had and they were all the EC horror.  Not really my cup of tea.  But I was able to see a few EC Sci- Fi stories in reprints and enjoyed them.  Around 1980 Russ Cochran began reprinting the EC comics and I bought the Sci-Fi ones and loved them!  I was not a fan of 1960s war comics.  When I read the EC war comics by Kurtzman, I thought they were terrific. So I wound up a big EC fan and I collected everything that Cochran put out.  And forgive me if I cannot decide which I like best, the colour or black and white editions.

An era should have these qualities - recognition of quality and originality, coupled with an increase in sales.  The Golden Age ended for a reason.  The stories were no longer as good or as original.  The industry lost not only its villains (the Nazis) when the war ended, but also a huge amount of readers when soldiers returned home to civvy street and thus no longer read comics in their barracks to pass the time, having become interested in other things.

But I do believe that the 1950s was the EC era of comics.  There may be some rivals, but nothing has surpassed them.

Early in 1966 Fantasy Masterpieces doubled its page count (and the cost to 25¢) and added Captain America stories from the 1940s.  And what great stories these were!!!  "The Hunchback", "The Plundering Butterfly", and "Ivan the Terrible".  Years later I learned that the artwork was often changed to meet the standards of the Comics Code. 

In the King-Size Special Marvel Super-Heroes #1 (1966) reprinted a Golden Age story of the original Human Torch and The Sub-Mariner fighting each other (and destroying New York City in the process).  In Fantasy Masterpieces #7 (Feb 1967), a Torch story from Marvel Mystery #8 and a Sub-Mariner story from issue #3 (both from 1940) were published. Fantasy Masterpieces #9 featured the first Torch story, from 1939.   And the issue after that had the All Winners Squad.

Marvel Boy by Bill Everett began reprints in Marvel Tales #14, in 1967. FM #11 featured the introduction of The Black Knight.  Marvel had comics in the 1950s too!! Issue #12 had a name change to Marvel Super-Heroes and featured the stories from the Atlas Era. It was a different looking Captain America, Torch and Sub-Mariner - in shorter stories and told in a very different style.

The 1950s characters went through changes, though neither Toro nor Bucky aged any.  Young Men #24 took the time to explain where The Human Torch was ever since his original comic was cancelled.  It did the same with Captain America and Sub-Mariner.  So there were two previous generations of Marvel characters, not just one.

But Marvel stopped publishing these glorious stories with issue #20 (1969).  Roy Thomas later told me that the sales of the Marvel Super-Heroes mag was never good.  Only issue #14 (Spider-Man) sold well. 

But how great it was in 1966 to get the best of both worlds.  Actually, I got the best of three worlds.
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