Sunday, November 30, 2008


It's November 30th which means Kronday is upon us (or was upon us because I'm writing this at 11:30 pm or at least is still upon us for another 30 minutes). To celebrate Kronday I went on secret missions to protect my civilization against enemies, disguising my movements by riding in special vehicles that magically change shape and transform into robot warriors. Kronday is the only holiday that gets distributed by Hasbro the next year with a different name and more relatable backstory.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR IRON MAIDEN COLLECTORS-My core readership will have to not find Megan Fox's butt pictures somewhere else!

Through the magic of internet I will be halfway across Oklahoma by the time this is posted. I will catch you guys later, and by "you guys" I mean all those fans of Megan Fox's butt that constitute 99 percent of my hits. The castle is not unguarded as it contains several thousand plastic robot dinosaurs so don't try anything funny. Also it is on a space station chronologically displaced in 1985. You are on your own now, my fellow Macrocranians! I AM OFF FINGERING THE LION-O.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Please Save Me Again: WHAT HAVE I DUNE? (or not Dune or Lego or other stuff)

I screwed up No Blogging for Old Robots Week by mentioning I would put up some Dune ads and then never doing the Dune. Instead I spent the whole time giving 900 word blow jobs to He-Man. Before I go off fingering the Lion-O for a couple of months I want to prune those Dunes and other miscellaneous crap so that if I die in a car accident on my way to Texas, future visitors to this site will see this very last post and think the whole blog was about Dune, Legos, Cheetocats and the Megan Fox anal pics they came looking for in the first place.


Toys R Us 12/06/84Pay n Save 12/26/84
Dune is something I know absolutely nothing about and never had toys of but that I knew I needed to get ads from when I saw them. That movie came along in 1984, a time when the toy buyers for the big retail chains thought a big license was all that was needed to carry a toyline to success. With Toy Fair in February and the movie's release in December I can see how they felt willing to gamble that Dune would be the next Star Wars. But 84 ended up being all about toy robots instead and Dune died on the shelves. It was the first big movie toy licensing bust and it got buyers to realize that movie tie-ins weren't all gold. People rag on the movie's poor box office performance being the main factor but I think it was more a victim of the popularity of toy robots. Also the name was pretty bad for a toyline. I don't care how strong the robots were, if Dune had named itself "Megan Fox Anal Pics" I guarantee it would have sold tons of toys.

Mervyn's 11/21/85
JC Penny 11/24/82

I loved the space Legos in 1984. I think it was the last toy that came along before the robots thing hit me like a ton of bricks. The two ads above show pretty much every Lego Space set my sister and I had. I was grateful for the space sets not because they helped me play out my fantasies of being an astronaut and making giant leaps for mankind, but because Lego Space sets had the vital components I needed to complete my Lego Voltron with which I played out my fantasies of cutting the earth in half and murdering the entire planet.


Thundercats lick their own balls! Like GI Joe, I have never understood their popularity and suspect they may be some sort of mind control program gone horribly wrong. I have read the work of psychologists who theorized that the boom in toy robots popularity was a result of children trying to cope with and understand technology. The "trying to cope" angle explains well a lot of hot toy trends of the 80s. Care Bears could be an attempt to help kids deal with feelings, Strawberry Shortcake helps little boys understand that girls smell, and He-Man taught us it was okay to be gay, but what were kids thinking when they were playing with Thundercats? What were they trying to cope with or understand? I'll tell you what Thundercats was all about-keeping kids from having vaginal intercourse with the family cats. It's the only thing that makes sense unless they intended to turn everyone my age into furries, which is what happened.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I BOUGHT TWO TOY ROBOTS TODAY. This is a big deal because as a recovering roboplasti-holic any slip could lead me back into a hellish relapse and the next thing you know there's robots in the refrigerator again. No, this time I was in control of it enough that I knew I only wanted two and I could stop buying them at any time. That's the difference between the me of now and the raging roboplasti-holic other me of so long ago (last year). When I had extreme roboplasti-holism it was like something akin to beer goggles and even the ugly robots looked good and I wanted to take them all home. In this way, advanced Roboplasti-holism affects eyesight negatively much like herpes. But in the early stages, Roboplasti-holism actually improves hand/eye coordination because of all the furious masturbation.

Motive Parts & Supply is the Omega Supreme of tractor parts, horse feed and roboplasticos

I don't run one of those "look what I bought at Wal-Mart today" blogs which is actually my favorite kind of internet that is not porn or pictures of cats. So I'm not going to go over which robots exactly I bought because the important thing is I did not buy them at Wal-Mart (or Target or anywhere else I could have got them for under eight bucks). No, I went to my favorite locally owned tractor parts and horse feed store and I paid $12.40 each. Yup, I know right now these same exact roboplasticos are at Wal-Mart for $7.77. I don't have a problem with Wal-Mart or big box stores so paying almost ten bucks more for two of them on purpose wasn't some sort of robot nerd counterculture revolution I'm trying to kick off. This isn't a boycott of the various Super Robo-Marts in a demonstration against the illuminati run establishment that is enslaving the common man through low toy robots prices. No, it is something vastly, incalculably, infinitely more retarded.


When I'm buying toy robots I don't give a crap about the price so much as the "RoboPlastiAuthenticalness" of the store I'm at. RoboPlastiAuthenticalness is the nostalgic quality that comes from knowing you are in the same exact aisle where that store first sold toy robot Volkswagens 25 years ago. While most independent retail stores from the eighties have been renamed, relocated, gone out of business and/or been demolished, Motive Parts & Supply in Rapid City has existed steadfastly in the same spot and still carries Transformers to this day. The Vintage Space Toaster Palace can attest to the trypti-tons of RoboPlastiAuthenticalness that Motive has. At Motive you can stand in the action figure aisle, close your eyes and still smell the GoBots. Literally. You don't need to close your eyes. They've got the same Rock Lords vehicles on the shelves that they had back in '87.

But the best thing about Motive is that the employees aren't slutty whores like the chicks at Toys R Us that are always asking me for my phone number but pretending they need it for their "computer" and then they never call me. The Motive staff remembers what things were like 25 years ago because these people have been selling toy robots in Rapid City for over 50 years and they've got the Sunday newspaper ads to prove it. Back in August one of the cashier ladies cracked open a binder she had under the desk in the toy section. It was full of Motive ads from the late 80s/early 90s and I just about died. Within those 19 year old full color pages was an ad from 1989 for the Micromaster Rocket Base. I don't even like Micromasters and I've never seen an ad so beautiful. At what other big retail store chain can I expect to experience anything like that? Sure it's cool to have a Toys R Us around for old time's sake and yeah it's great that Wal-Mart is giving robots away at their prices. But being able to hang out at a place like Motive and talk to somebody about old toy robot ads and actually have some right in front of me isn't just worth an extra four bucks per toy robot Lamborghini, it's friggin' beer goggles for the roboplastic soul.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Silence of the Lions

I'm not really up on what's going on with the Transformers of today, but I do remember the latest incarnation-Transformers Animated-struck me as odd because the cartoon debuted around five months before the toys hit the stores. With Transfomrers it has traditionally been the other way around-the toys' presence in stores usually precedes the media on television. Launching the mass media tie-in without the toyline on the shelves is not entirely without precedent, though. The most famous example would be Star Wars where the film hit theaters in May 1977 but the toys weren't in stores until Spring of '78. A more appropriate historical parallel to the 2008 Transformers Animated toyline would be Voltron, which was the number one rated syndicated cartoon of 1984 but whose corresponding toyline didn't start hitting the stores until March of 19851. The synchronicity doesn't stop there. Transformers Animated and Voltron are both shows with 3 seasons about a core team of five transforming robots. Each robot is predominately one color-both shows have a red robot, a black robot, a yellow robot, a green robot, and damnit, if Ratchet was blue I almost would have sounded like I knew what I was talking about. Did I mention they both has robots?


Joslins 11/09/85
Voltron's been on my mind a lot lately because I just recently updated the Vintage Space Toaster Palace's Voltron section with 17 new* ads (and 5 better copies of ads that were already there). Looking over what I've collected it's no surprise that the vast majority of my Voltron ads are from the 1985 Christmas season. What I've found intriguing, though, is how the 1986 holiday season starts about the same as 1985's with newspaper ads for Voltron merchandise beginning in October but then they abruptly stop in early November and Voltron is MIA for the rest of the year. Were it not for a very few clearance outlets advertising discounted Voltron toys in 1987, Voltron would be missing from newspaper ads entirely after November 1986. Even GoBots had a more gradual disappearance from newspaper ads than Voltron did. It would be easy to explain the sudden lack of Voltron ads on the legendary product recall, but that only affected the die cast Matchbox lions, which amounted to just a few items from a much larger line. Was the recall so devastating to Voltron's image that retailers were afraid to advertise it? Or did something else kill the cats?


Sears 10/22/86
I think that just as one asteroid did not wipe out the dinosaurs, one recall did not kill Voltron. Instead it was a combination of factors. The timing of the product launch was probably the most crucial mistake. Looking at the series schedule it becomes obvious that Voltron as a syndicated show running every weekday from September of 84 to March of '85 (104 episodes!) had way more exposure than the Transformers, which was a Sunday morning show that only had 16 episodes in its first season in 1984. Voltron sort of blew its wad before the toys had even hit the shelves, which was good for sales initially because the show was fresh in kids' minds. But at the 1986 Toy Fair in February, Marvin Schwartz (a toy buyer for the S. E. Nichols retail chain) said "Voltron sold early last year and was nothing at December."2 Voltron did get a third season of twenty episodes that aired from mid October through late November of 1985, but by that time The Transformers was on its way to action figure dominance and in the midst of its second season with more than twice as many episodes. Was there a benefit to having toys in stores while the cartoons were running fresh new episodes? Sure enough, industry trade publication Toy & Hobby World's December 1985 issue ranked the top ten hottest selling toys based on a survey of 3,000 stores and Voltron was seventh with Transformers tied at number one alongside Cabbage Patch Kids.3


Pic 'N Save 11/26/87
Voltron was more a victim of unfortunate timing than anything else. Not having the toys in stores when the show was at its strongest was an insurmountable handicap. I've found a Sears ad from a full three weeks before the product recall where whatever Voltron toys they had left were reduced to half off, indicating that Voltron was finished well before the lead paint fiasco. The recall was just the blazing sword up the butt of the black lion after the Dinobots already took a dump on his head. It's a shame, too, because if Voltron had its crap together in 1984 the Great Toy Robots Wars of the 80s may have ended very differently. I can see a scenario where The Transformers may not have been as popular if Matchbox and Bandai could have pumped enough product out in '84 to satisfy Voltron demand while Takara and Hasbro were forced to cap off orders and leave retailers understocked on Transformers like they did. It's pointless to second guess now and my amateur analysis of a couple of articles and some newspaper ads probably doesn't begin to uncover the reasons Voltron toys were so unpopular after being featured in such a highly rated cartoon. There were probably many more factors that played into Volton's demise like its redundant product line where the same robot just got repeated at different sizes with slightly different tooling. They could never get away with that today, right? DID I MENTION THEY BOTH HAS ROBOTS?

1Dean Rotbart "LJN Toys' Voltron Product Line Could Spell Big Success for Company, Some Retailers Say" Wall Street Journal (21 March 1985)

2Larry Carlat "Toy retailers predict return to basic buys" Discount Store News. (22 September 1986)

3John Dreyfuss "Transformers and Cabbage Patch Dolls Top Santa's List" Los Angeles Times (Nov 22, 1985)

*23 year old

Sunday, November 16, 2008


I was driving home yesterday when that Metallica cover of "Whiskey in the Jar" came on the radio. The catchy thing about that song is how Hetfield sings the title as "Whiskey in the JARR-OOOOHH" in that gravely, Dinobot-with-emphysema voice of his. So later on as I'm going to bed I'm thinking about this post I want to write about the sudden drop in popularity of Voltron toys in 1986 and how it seemed like there was this black hole that sucked up all the Voltron newspaper ads because they're absent from much of the 1986 holiday season. I didn't have a pen or paper by the bed as I usually do so just before I dozed off I tried to commit to memory the idea "figuring out the Voltron hole" as one of the central themes of the post. So I'd repeat in my head "figuring out the Voltron hole", "figuring out the Voltron hole" until I fell asleep, hoping I would remember it in the morning.


Well I woke up from some weird dream later on in the night and all I hear in my head is James Hetfield singing Metallica's new hit single, "Fingering the Lion-O". I couldn't remember what that was supposed to mean because I was half awake, but I knew it had to be something about blogging. It took a while before it all came back to me. It's such a great line that I want to keep it so from now on I will refer to any long term absence as "Fingering the Lion-O". Dude, you haven't blogged in weeks! Are you fingering the Lion-O? WHERE IS RICK MORANIS?

Saturday, November 15, 2008


The advantage of being essentially homeless and unemployed is the freedom to go and do whatever I want as long as my wife's money doesn't run out. I think I'll ditch Dakota del Sur and drive to Texas to see my in-laws and my parents. Just me, the baby and the dog and a thousand miles to Houston, away from here for a month or two or who knows how long. Hopefully I can take care of some unfinished business at the Houston main public library-namely some toy robots ad looking that I didn't get to do last year because their library was under renovation. Maybe I won't be able to break away and get any ads looking done at all because everybody will want to be all holidays. But Vintage Space Toast Tour is not about ads, it's about delivering this droid safely to Alderaan and learning the ways of the Force and becoming a Jedi like my father. If I do get some library time I promise there will be videos like last time.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Transfrormers 1987-1990: The Decline of Roboplastico Civilization Part II: The Metal Ears

I've been uploading about three dozen new* Transformers ads from the tail end of the 1980s to the Vintage Space Toaster Palace. The period from 1987-1990 is when the number of ads for Transformers got smaller and smaller while their robot hats got bigger and bigger. I SEE A CORRELATION HERE. I've also never spent much time looking through papers from those years because I never liked the toys from that time. That's why the VSTP has been rather anemic in the Transformers 1987-1990 era. My interest in Transformers started trailing off after 1987 because when I hit fourteen in '88 I started getting into Iron Maiden. I figuratively traded Monster Pretenders for Monsters of Rock, Sixshot for Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. I had other hobbies during my teenage years, too, most notably terrible driving and car crashes. I drove about as badly as I took care of my Transfomrers. The one constant through all the stages of my life has been broken pieces of car, just at differing scales.


Lionel Playworld 11/29/87
Transformers did not let go without a fight and it was during 1987 that I first began collecting newspaper ads of toy robots. Although I stopped getting the toys as much as I used to, I started cutting out Transformer ads from the Sunday newspaper circulars. I didn't used to write down where the ads were from or what day they came out so until very recently I didn't know any of that. Lately I've uncovered this information for a lot of my childhood ad collection so I put them up and they're the only color ads at the Vintage Splace Toasters Place. Those are now in the Transformers 1987 section and I also started a section for Transformers 1988-1990. At fourteen years old I could not have imagined that a handful of newspaper ads clipped in 1987 would evolve into a webpage with over 700 toy robots ads twenty years later. I guess Iron Maiden never really cured my roboplasti-holism, but that's the nature of the beast. Roboplasti-holism can't be fought, roboplasti-holism can't be sought. It just mutates into other scary roboplastico fetishes.


Lionel Playworld 11/06/88
While I was off Powerslaving, Transformers was Powermastering (and Headmastering and Targetmastering and Actionmastering). And while they were doing that from 1988-1990, toystores were busying Nintendo-ing, Ninjaturtle-ing, and STILL friggin' GI Joe-ing. As the 80s gradually came to an end so did the toy robots ads and this is reflected in how the makeup of my Transformers 1988-1990 section is 12 from '88, seven from '89 and only one from 1990. Coincidentally this is also the number of car crashes I had in each of those years. It's always sad to see how the Toy Robots Wars of the 80s ended so -mastery and plasticky, but I will always remember the golden years when my favorite robots were metal, my favorite music was metal and my favorite cars to crash were also metal.

*20 year old

Sunday, November 09, 2008


There's a paranormal blog I like called "From the Shadows". Recently the author asked what aspect of the paranormal is the most retarded. It's a good question because the whole field of paranormality gets constantly goofed on by science, skeptics and society as a whole. But for there to be one aspect within the paranormal that has even people who believe in the Loch Ness Monster rolling their eyes shows that there is a limit to how much outrageous stupidity even the most crazy idiot is willing to believe. Note my personal favorite conspiracy-that Trix is processed rabbit turds-is nowhere on the list of unbelievability.


As a crazy idiot from a different field, I too am constantly goofed on by science, skeptics and society as a whole. And just as mankind going to the moon allowed people to make total morons of themselves by denying it happened, the invention of transforming robot watches allowed me to embarrass myself in ways never before possible to man. To understand this phenomenon we must turn to the writings of Douglas Rushkoff. He believes that anything that gets people to interact with each other whether it be jokes, pictures, baseball cards or songs has social value, like a sort of social currency. Obviously he meant to include wearing robot watches and telling everyone that you see dead people.

In 1984 when I was ten one of the most valuable forms of social currency was the transforming robot watch. In fourth grade a robot watch could make you a social currency millionaire. When I was twenty in 1994 I tried to relive the magic by wearing a robot watch to work but instead it left me socially bankrupt and my robot watch based social economy went into recession. I found that transforming robot watch was the bouncing check of social currency. Apparently the modern legal tender social currency value of wearing a robot watch ranks somewhere around telling people reptilians from zeta reticuli are molesting me with butt probes.


In addition to putting up some new* Kronoform watch ads I've started a section at the Vintage Space Toaster Palace called Unlicensed Robot Watches. This section is not for ads of watches from popular toylines like Gobots, Transformers, and Voltron or even the grandfather (clock) of them all, the Kronoform Time Machine. No, the Unlicensed Robot Watch section is a tribute to the crappy knockoff watches that usually cost under five bucks and fell apart the first time they were transformed. They didn't have a flashy licensed brand name to help them out and most didn't even have names at all. When they did have names they were awful. One of the robot watch manufacturers decided to take the two most corny and overused word modifiers in the roboplastic vocabulary, "robo-" and "-tron", and combine them into a name so awful that it makes GoBots sound like The League of Extraordinary Omega Supremes. It didn't matter that the names were bad and the watches were crappy, they sold like crazy because they were cheap! They were cheap because these guys took whatever development budget they had and put it where it counted-into terrible art for their packaging and newspaper ads. Holy crap some of these unlicensed watch ads have art on par with the robotic meth demons thousands of kids drew on their school notebook paper in fourth grade. Okay, well maybe not thousands. Okay, just me.


It is difficult to explain or recreate the feeling of overwhelming awe the first time I saw Takara's Kronoform robot watch. When I was five I had a normal Star Wars wristwatch with a picture of R2D2 and C3P0 on the face. It was robots on a watch, like snakes on a plane. But the idea that the watch could be a robot! That was snakes that were planes. Just the concept of a robot watch was gold, but Takara went totally overboard with their execution and marketing. They had to chrome it, call it a 'time machine', tell people it had countless different modes and they even released a version that was also a radio. While they Takaratized the hell out of their robot watch, bootleggers distilled the concept to its essence without chrome or radios or commercials and sold assloads of robot watches in the $5 price range. Takara's super glitzy approach came at a cost and the average retail price of a two inch tall Kronoform Time Machine was $12.99. For thirteen bucks in '84 you could buy a deluxe Autobot car AND an Autobot minicar! I can't imagine anybody bought these on purpose unless they were the procrastinating dad type who did last minute Christmas shopping after all the other toy robots were gone, or they were Mr. T. I guess that makes me a robot watch denier. I know we went to the moon but I doubt anybody bought Kronoform Time Machines.


I think Takara did such a good job getting the idea of robot watches out there that their commercials helped the bootleggers undermine the sales of their own product. What backfired hardest was these robot watches all looked the same, despite Takara's being chromed. But as I learned from the paranormal pecking order poll, not all weird beliefs (or watches) are the created equal. You have to dig a little deeper to get to the real quality crazy but it is totally worth it. Being in a line at a robot convention talking to a robot watch wearing, moon landing denying crazy person is like winning the social currency lottery. Everybody and their mom that goes to those robot shows would give their firstborn to rub up against Peter Cullen's red flannel wearing ass in an elevator, but to me the true celebrities are eating Trix and wearing something else.

*24 year old

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Keepin' the ads rollin'!


The Vintage Space Toaster Palace got noticed last week by one of the bigger toy robots message boards and one of the guys is all WHERE IS THE WHEELED WARRIORS LOL. I immediately stopped everything and made a section for all the Wheeled Warriors ads I've had laying around for a while. There is no greater motivation than someone LOLing at me.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


When I was rifling through my hard drive for vintage Star Wars ads I came across a Micronauts ad misfiled in my Star Wars folders. It was naut the ad I was looking for! I dug a little deeper and found 10 other new* Micronauts ads that I either thought I'd already put up at the Vintage Space Toaster Palace or didn't know I had. They were naut unexpected!


Target 13 November 1977
A couple years ago I wrote some ridiculous, hateful, ignorant and unfunny things about the Mego Micronauts toyline from the seventies. I'd like to add to that today with this Micronauts themed edition of Vintage Space Toaster Palace Update. Even though I think that Micronauts are kind of silly I still respect their place in la historia roboplastico. It is the Micronauts line that I believe ushered in the modern roboplastical age so I was pretty thrilled to find an ad for the Micronauts Warp Racer, Crater Cruncher and Ultronic Scooter vehicles from 1977. This Target ad is a good example of why Micronauts are hard for me to take seriously. They look less like time travelling space warriors from inner space and more like Dick Dastardly's opponents in the way out Wacky Races.


The Vintage Toasters Palace Spaces Galactica previously only had one line art ad representing the Micronaut Time Traveller and it was real blurry. It looked like crap and the ad text described it as a "Micromaut". While the blurriness can be blamed on my craptastic camera skills, the ad copy writers really should naut have messed up the name like that. It wasn't the greatest ad in the microverse, but now thanks to the fantastically crisp clear microfilm at the Z. J. Loussac Public Library Rocket Tubes Complex in Anchorage, Alaska, I now have a really good Time Traveller ad. They also had some nice line art for Acroyear II which I'd never run across before and from Pittsburgh I dug out an ad I didn't know I had for the Aquatron. I also put up that Woolworth ad for the Ben Cooper costume of Baron Karza I found in Denver. That costume looks like it's doing some kind of happy dance. I can almost hear it singing, "We're the slip nauts, slippin' on nauts, clownin' around, and slippin' on nauts".


As I was catching up on my Micronauts ads I noticed that I've never seen a toy with as many different line art renditions as the Micronaut Battle Cruiser. Most toys only have one drawing that gets used over and over by multiple different stores. Transformers and GoBots are the usual exception with drawings for each of their modes, but to have a toy that gets multiple line art renditions for the same basic form is highly unusual. I've found five different drawings of the Battle Cruiser so far. Only the Transformer Shockwave has had more drawings, and that's counting variations of both modes and his Radio Shack counterpart. Why was the Battle Cruiser drawn so many different ways? I DO NAUT KNOW!
KMart 11/21/79
Montgomery Ward 12/06/78

Pay N Save 12/14/78
Ardan 11/23/79
*30 year old

Saturday, November 01, 2008

NO WEBLOG FOR OLD ROBOTS part 5: Please Save Me A Long Time Ago!

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.

Children's Palace 02 December 1979

Gold Circle 11/26/78
I've had to make some very hard choices in my life, just as all men who love toy robots do. Not easy ones like should I get a tattoo of Dirk Benedict or should I dye my hair red and spike it like Getter Dragon*, I mean really tough decisions like joining the military, getting married, having a kid-really difficult, life altering stuff like that. Also, learning the force. Right up there with them, held in equal regard with all of those crossroads of life is my decision to not include Star Wars ads in the Vintage Space Toaster Palace. I said no to droids and ATATs but Battlestar Galactica makes the cut. It haunts me to this day, because how could you try to imagine what a "space toaster" looks like and not immediately have R2-D2 or the Jawa sandcrawler come to mind? Well I had to draw the line somewhere, and that line ended up between Starbuck's cigar and Princess Leia's star puffs. I realize I have made mistakes in life.


OG Wilson 11/26/78
But even though I don't have a Star Wars section at the Vintage Space Place Toasters, I do love Star Wars and I'm a sucker for old vintage Star Wars ads. I don't have to remind anyone how huge the small Star Wars action figures were once they started hitting stores in '78. What I've found though is that ads for the 3 3/4 inch figures were rather rare during the 1978 holiday season. Stores would advertise lots of other Star Wars merchandise like the large 12 inch figures or the spaceships (both action figure sized and in the small diecast scale) but in '78 there were very few ads for the 3 3/4 inch action figures. I thought this '78 figure ad shortage was unique to Rapid City but I've noticed it elsewhere in cities where you'd think distribution would be better. By '78 there were at least 20 figures out but finding ads for even the first twelve is almost impossible, even for a computer!

LaBelle's 21 November 1979

1979 is where the gold is in terms of Star Wars ads. Stores were confident enough in their supply that they advertised the hell out of Star Wars. Even the Boba Fett figure is frequently featured in ad line art and he was a tail ender of the original line. This probably has more to do with stores just using whatever ad line art they got from their distributor regardless of what the actual stock was. I thought I sort of blew it when I posted a bunch of Boba-Fett related ads in an old post where all I wrote about was peeing my pants when I met Darth Vader, but it turns out I still have other early Boba Fett line art like that above. I have noticed that ads from stores using their own photographs of the actual small action figures is pretty rare even in 1979 and that doesn't change until after the Empire Strikes Back line. But for Star Wars I am most likely to come across stores with pictures of the 12 inch line before I see the photos of the 3 3/4 inch stuff.


ToyCo 11/18/79
One thing I really miss about the toy ads from the seventies and early eighties is how the stores would oftentimes run gigantic text descriptions alongside the photos or line art. This ad from a Pittsburgh store called ToyCo is an extreme example where multiple Wikipedia articles are given for everything pictured. The descriptions are loaded with entrancingly written details you just don't get in ads today. The vehicles are described as dramatic reproductions or authentic replicas and Darth Vader is "ready for an attack by Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi or Luke Skywalker". The 3 3/4 inch figure descriptions are great, too. "All figures have movable arms and legs for posing and come with their 'weapons' they use in the movie". Professional toy collector virtuoso wackos scoff at the notion that the figures I grew up with were articulated at all but when you're five years old in 1979, trust me, you didn't give a shit. And I also didn't care that half those characters didn't even have weapons in the movie but I loved that their toys came with laser guns. I believe laser guns should come with all action figures. I wished Darth Vader had a laser uzi.


JC Penny 12/12/79
One of my all time favorite Star Wars action figure memories was being five or six and playing Luke Skywalker vs Darth Vader with my sister who was a year younger. At some point Luke Skywalker's head came off and they weren't designed to do that without massive play induced action figure head trauma. (Did I mention not a single star wars toy I had survived my childhood?) You would think the death of Luke Skywalker action figure would be reason for a five year old to explode into tears, but I just looked at broken Luke and I looked at Darth Vader and I snapped off Darth Vader's head and we changed the game to Star Wars: Marbles. I remember us laughing and laughing while playing Star Wars: Marbles but I don't think my mom was very happy with the fantastic new play pattern I invented. THOSE FIGURES COST TWO DOLLARS EACH!

Sears 25 November 1979 (Alaska)
Sears 25 November 1979 (Pennsylvania)

One of my favorite 70s Star Wars ads is the above Sears ad that I found in both Anchorage, Alaska and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I couldn't get a good picture in Pennsylvania and the Anchorage picture is great, but it has Alaska prices. And as I've learned, depending on the market Sears engages in some Mighty Shifty Retail Pricing. Even with the bad angle and blurriness of the Pittsburgh ad you can still see prices in Alaska were 1 to 4 dollars higher depending on the item. I love the ad because it's got a bit of everything-the figures, the Cantina playset, the Dewback, a remote control R2-D2, a couple ships and even 12-inch Boba Fett. There's even a guest appearance by Twiki from Buck Rogers!


KMart 11/21/79
One of my greatest moments of robotardation growing up was trying to convince my mom when I was five that I wanted a C-3P0 not because it would be my first Star Wars toy, but because I could learn about robots from studying how the wires in his belly connected his inner mechanisms. Yes, I believed at five years old that Kenner was selling actual working, talking 3 inch tall droids for two dollars. Then when we went to KMart and she bought it for me I realized the toy had no wires or mechanisms and was just an articulated plastic doll. Thankfully my mom did not require progress reports on my reverse engineering of Star Warsian technology. You would think from this behavior that Star Wars inspired myself and many of my generation to grow up to pursue careers in robotology or droidology or whatever people who do robot stuff do. But trust me, I know from experience that instead of becoming famous esteemed roboticians, many of us went on to be stay at home dads who spend our wives' money going on imaginary concert tours of libraries all over the US looking at Star Wars newspaper ads on microfilm and writing about toy robots all day. THANK YOU GEORGE LUCAS.


Gold Circle 09 December 1979
Although Shogun Warriors and Micronauts beat Star Wars to market, they never quite had that intangible little special something that made them as popular. (I suspect the intangible little special something may have been a blockbuster movie with incredible special effects playing constantly in theaters for years and years.) Whatever it was, Star Wars action figures came at a magical time in my life called childhood where imagination overcame the shortfalls of action figure engineering and I loved them. Not enough to put them in the Vintage Space Toaster Palace, but enough that I take a picture (or hundred) when I see them in the newspaper archives of America's libraries. Excluding Star Wars ads was a tough decision to make but I think it was the right choice. Having Dirk Benedict's face on my butt-now that's hard to live with.

* of course the answer to both is yes

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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.