Tuesday, October 28, 2008

NO WEBLOG FOR OLD ROBOTS part 2: Please Save Me Secret Wars!

Although I consider myself the Indiana Jones of toy robots archaeology and I romanticize my hobby with terms like Roboplasticology, the truth is that all I'm doing is looking through trash as I go pop culture dumpster diving in the library microfilm archives of America. And although my search focuses on the roboplastical, I do on occasion come across ads for toys I remember that played a much smaller role in my robot obsessed 80s childhood (and a much larger one in the childhoods of kids not afflicted with roboplasti-tardation). So join me all this week as we take a non-robot oriented look at a couple other toylines that also made an impression on my Scraplets riddled brain.

Target 09/02/84
The Transformers were what got me into the insane world of comic book shops and action figure collecting. Transformers figures had no secondary market value in the 80s and the book was never considered a serious comic amongst my childhood friends, but it opened the doors into the terrifying and bizarre world of grown ups who took reading comics and playing with toys to a whole other level. I would probably never have stepped into a comic book store and could have lived my whole life content with buying Transformers comics at the Bag-n-Save grocery store were it not for the one time Spider-Man made an appearance in Transformers #3. It wasn't just any Spider-Man-it was black costume Spider-Man. That tripped me out because Spider-Man didn't tell me he was planning on changing his costume when I met him at K-Mart in '79.


I loved that black costume Spider-Man and the very first non-Transformers comic I sought out was Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #8 because it explained where the black costume came from. Unfortunately the El Paso Bag-n-Save didn't keep back issues of comics even though I did try saving some Amazing Spider-Mans for future buying by sticking them in the Low Rider magazines. I thought nobody read Low Rider, but boy was I wrong and those well hidden Spider-Mans disappeared anyway. Now that I think about it, I may have inadvertently introduced El Asombroso Hombre AraƱa to a whole generation of cholos.

Secret Wars was an insanely popular comic back in '85. By the time I found a comic shop that had it, Secret Wars #8 was commanding the astronomical price of five dollars. To my horror and delight there was an accompanying toyline although the truth is Secret Wars started as a toyline first. Way back then it was an unprecedented milestone to have 3 3/4 inch action figures made of Marvel characters. Even as a toy robot obsessed weirdo I realized having a Wolverine the right size to fight Darth Vader was a really big deal. But black costume Spider-Man didn't come out in the initial wave and without the internet or toy magazines to tell me that it was coming I resigned myself to thinking it would never be made in my lifetime. This is because I was familiar with the concept of "Marvel time"-that is, in the Marvel Universe time runs at a rate slower than in the real world. This is why Spider-Man was a teenager in comics for like 25 years. What people don't know was that Marvel Time applied in real life, too. Why the hell else did it take over 20 years to finally get an action figure of normal Spider-Man? Marvel time at work!

GC Murphy 09/30/84

I remember Lionel Playworld having an endcap full of Secret Wars toys well after the comic had come and gone. While looking through them for an Iron Man (because he kind of looked roboty) I came across black costume Spider-Man. Holy crap was that a total surprise. All the other Secret Warriors faded from my mind. After having to pay multiple times the cover price for the comic I swore that I would not open my black costume Spider-Man because of its collectibility. That lasted about a week. Although there have been many different and better plastic permutations of black Spider-Man costume since, that first one has always been my favorite and it's one of the few toys that survived my childhood intact.


Secret Wars was a lot more than Spider-Man and while in Alaska I found a really nice giant ad from Carrs that ran 18 November 1984. It showed the Tower of Doom playset, some Secret Wars vehicles and action figures of a few of the most famous and recognizable characters from the Marvel Universe like Captain America and Wolverine Man! 1984 was an awesome year. I can't imagine how often the Transformers versus Secret Wars wars played out in playgrounds all over. Marvel must have got wind of this because last year there was a comic book crossover where the Transfomrers got to hang out with and get beat up by not just Spider-Man but a lot of the characters from Secret Wars including Wolverine Man! It only took 25 years! MARVEL TIME NOT DEAD!

1 comment:

Paul said...

You ever see when I covered Secret Wars?


I blame this toy line for my life long obsession with Kang and Dr. Doom.

I also was lucky enough to find black spiderman at a rummage sale. It was a few years after I had played with toys and before I could have been considered a "collector", but I still new that I had to get it.


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