Sunday, April 17, 2011

For corporate men and catalog archivists!

The 28th seal of the Roboplastic Apocalypse cracks in half like the spine of that rare 1986 pre-Toyfair Hasbro catalog when you first opened it! Yes it's time to talk toy catalogs with special guest co-host Colin Betts of! Thrill to Colin's tales about his experiences amassing a most impressive collection of Toyfair catalogs from the last 25 years. If you thought those little catalog leaflets that came with toys in the eighties were cool then wait till you hear about their supersized book-length cousins that only made it into the hands of toy store owners! Hear why when it comes to Toyfair catalogs, collecting pictures of old toy robots can be more fun than actually collecting old toy robots (and also maybe learn a thing or two about Japanese GI Joes) in this SO HOW DO THEY SPELL 'CATALOG' IN CANADA ANYWAYS? edition of the podcastalypse!

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Long time readers of the Roboplastic Apocalypse will already be familiar with pages out of mid 1980s toyfair catalogs from toy companies Hasbro and Ideal. They are treasure troves of information on old toylines printed in a format way larger and with descriptions more thorough than any pack-in catalog that came with action figures of the 80s. Fellow toy and catalog collector Colin Betts joined me for this episode to talk about some of the more interesting aspects of collecting toy company catalogs including how he got started, what kind of information is contained within them and how relatively hard they are to collect. We also talked about other paperwork that was only available to wholesale toy buyers like line art catalogs and toy company price lists. He even did the show intro!

From the Hasbro 1990 Toyfair catalog there's this page which shows prototypes of the Assortment III Action Masters. The final production versions of Banzai-Tron, Snarl, Skyfall, Kick-Off, Inferno and Shockwave were all painted and molded differently.

Here's an example of line art from the 1988 Hasbro line art catalog. These drawings were supplied by toy companies for use in retailers' newspaper ads throughout the 80s. At the start of the decade this type of material was used extensively in newspaper ads (as with the Transformers in 1984) but by the late 80s line art began disappearing from ads. I have yet to find an ad that uses this Squawkbox art. Scan courtesy of

Snippets from the 1988 Hasbro price lists from Canada (on the left) and the US (on the right). These order forms were what retailers used to order toys and can sometimes provide insight into wholesale cost figures and assortment availablilty. Canadian price list courtesy of


Unproduced Shogun Warriors vehicles
from the 1980 Mattel toy catalog

scan courtesy of
  • Hello fellow Macaroni-ans! (intro poem fairplaythings edition)
  • Being born without Frank Welker bones
  • The Roboplastical-archaeological significance of old Toyfair catalogs
  • Colin's start in collecting toy brochures
  • Dumpster diving at a Canadian toy store in the 80s
  • Pictures of toys that don't exist and the books meant to sell them
  • The Shogun Warrior 3-inch Raydeen prototype from the '78 Mattel Germany catalog
  • MegaForce art from the 1990 Kenner catalog
  • G.I. Joe strangeness in a 1987 Takara catalog
  • Other late 80s Hasbro toy robot catalog strangeness
  • Line art catalogs!
  • Whose line art is it anyway?
  • Mego toy representative Micronaut product sheets and their conspicuous lack of Gyrotron
  • Marty Abrams stating that the Gyrotron was released
  • Unintentional catalog hoarding by older, less technologically adept collectors
  • Shout out to the Thoroughly Informative Transformer Themed Internet Entertainment Sites
  • Unproduced Wheeled Warriors in the 1986 Mattel catalog
  • Unproduced Shogun Warriors vehicles for the 3-inch figures from Mattel's 1980 catalog
  • Toy company price lists and what we can learn from them
  • Why hardcopy toy catalogs are a dying breed
  • Super rare, super valuable samples of unreleased toys given away at Toyfair in the 1980s (and the kids who broke them)
  • Prototype Sectaurs Stellara that went for $11.50 on eBay and was flipped for $550
  • The 1986 Hasbro Pre-Toyfair catalog at
  • Don't rocket punch your friends!

Lionel Playworld ad from 30 November 1979 alongside a page from the Micronauts salesman sample brochure

scan courtesy of


David H. said...

the Transformer catalogs had the most awesome of illustrations on em! although not as dazzling with art the catalogs that came with Micronaut and Star Wars vehicles had a real classic look to em that is timeless. also really cool was the catalog for the plastic model series Robotech Defenders by Revel. they staged finished Robot models with some really nice and exotic background settings. ya know like on battle fields and alien landscapes n shit. the early Masters of the Universe (He-Man) figures used to come with these cool mini-comic books that had a catalog on the back page.
i got to listen to the rest of your ROM podcast at home after work which was pretty cool you really did your homework. and thanks for the plug on my blog which by the way is where you can find my email in case you want me to email any of the above mentioned catalog art work.

fairplaythings said...

Having listened to the opening of the 28th seal of the podcastalypse, I'm wondering if we should invent a drinking game. Everytime I use the same word more than once in the same sentence - "they were used for waht they were used for" - take a drink. Saying "the robot community"? Take a drink. When I say "lovely"? Drink the whole drink down.

The drinking might take the edge off my terrible French accent. Wow. That's bad. Je suis desole! Clearly I was too eager to get into robophilosophying to work on proper accents.

Also, you must send me the line art picture of Terry the Robot! so I can add him to my Terry-fying art collection!

Evil King Macrocranios said...

I should send you the unedited raw audio that's ten minutes longer and filled with all sorts of other verbal faux pauses! If you do go through with your own show you're going to have plenty more cringe inducing hours of listening to yourself talk. It's part of the fun/torture and eventually you'll get over how you sound and appreciate the verbal mannerisms that make up your unique conversational style.

You'll find those quirky speech patterns you have that annoy you now aren't really a big deal. Instead, you're going to become so aware of every 'uhhhm' and uuuhhh' and 'you know' you say that you're going to wish all you had to complain about was your accent and repeated uses of the same word.

It will be interesting to see how you edit yourself. You're going to have to make the choice between sounding like a flawless robot delivering lines and sounding like a person having a conversation. Editing out your unique verbal mannerisms can be painfully obvious and distracting to the audience so don't take it all out! The lovely robot community will know what you said was not what you said!

Shawn Robare said...

Coming from a guy whose done his fair share of podcasting, I have to agree that it's a special kind of torture to listen to yourself for 30+ minutes. There is an art to the balance of editing out "um's" and other natural pause-y speech mannerisms while leaving in the majority of the audio. I also know that a lot of podcasters I admire don't edit at all (aside from inserting pertinent audio clips.) You'd be surprised what most listeners will endure that you can't as an editor.

For what it's worth, I thought you both sounded great in this episode and there was a great chemistry as well...

Captain Rufus said...

Don't worry. There are people listening to your podcast. I just listen at erratic times. I'm in the midst of 28, and listened to 26 and 27 last night while playing Ultima 2.

Evil King Macrocranios said...

Ah the magic of editing! Thanks Shawn for your thoughts on editing and impression that the show sounded somewhat smooth. I think we interacted well because we've met at Botcon and Colin also had to endure a couple of hours with me on Skype before this. What's going to be really interesting is having guests on who I've never met before in real life. So far every guest has been someone I've interacted with in person.

I still am not comfortable with the episode where I interviewed Jim Salicrup because I left that audio totally unedited at his request. I think spoken word conversation contains too much noise and not enough signal. Even podcasts I love drive me crazy when they're minimally edited because I'm very aware of the verbal pauses, multiple people talking on top of each other, off topic tangents and other things that take away from why I downloaded them in the first place. I just don't write in and complain to because it's not worth bothering people about, especially if they love what they're doing. But a lack of editing will make me tune in less.

Speaking of feedback, I'm not worried about having no listeners, Capt. R. Thanks to my site statisticals I do know maybe half a dozen people download the show on a regular basis. And I know there must be one or two people out there who have heard every show, but Colin's comments have oftentimes been the first and only ones on the majority of my podcast posts. So he's like the only guy I know for sure that has listened to every one. He's my only real proof of a die hard audience. So that's why I thought it was funny near the end of this episode when I joked we had me and my entire regular listening audience on the show.

fairplaythings said...

And for one shining minute, I was the only listener who had heard the "unreleased" podcast. But now it is released and y'all get to hear my Canuck accent.


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Evil King Macrocranios was voted king by the evil peoples of the Kingdom of Macrocrania. They listen to Iron Maiden all day and try to take pictures of ghosts with their webcams.