Big Jim always seems like such a laughable concept from the modern perspective. Mattel’s answer to GI Joe was a man’s man, who spent most of his time without his shirt, flexing his muscles and hanging out in a camper with fellow musclebound shirtless men. Let’s not beat around the bush, it seems homoerotic these days. Of course, in the 1970′s it was anything but. Yes, a figure who’s entire premise was that he was a muscular guy who liked to workout was a thing. It was a different time. These figures even feature “BODY ACTION” which is equally absurd sounding.
All joking aside, Big Jim was quite a hit. Eventually Jim shed some of his “manly” image, going for more of an action/adventure/spy theme. A lot of those sets are pretty cool. Especially in comparison to the lumberjack and short shorts sets that predated it. This ad from the Montgomery Ward Christmas catalog in 1974 shows some of the transformation. This is Jim in the period before he was with the Big Jim P.A.C.K., but there was already an increased emphasis on adventure.
Jim was an odd bird, in that he was 9 1/2 inches tall. Thus making him a competitor to both Mego and GI Joe, sort of splitting the difference. Big Jim was a much bigger star internationally than he was here in the US, although he sold nicely in the states as well. Eventually a lot of Big Jim stuff would be recycled for the launch of Masters of the Universe in the early 1980′s. Big Jim sort of came back to life in Mattel’s ill-fated Retro Action line. Sadly Jim himself did not make an appearance.
It’s strange, I recall being into Hot Wheels for a very brief period as a kid. I liked the color changing cars and of course, anything that was superhero related. Even when I was into toy cars, I was mostly imagining storylines where the characters were more important than the cars themselves. No wonder action figures soon became the center of my imagination universe.
Hot Wheels have remained popular though, and are perhaps more collectible than ever. The somewhat infamous “Hot Wheels guys” have sort of become the bane of existence for a lot of other toy collectors. Hot Wheels collectors have a bad reputation for pillaging the toy aisles early in the morning, wrecking the shelves and perhaps worst of all, buying up all the rare action figures to flip to feed their toy car addiction. My run-ins with Hot Wheels collectors hasn’t been very good historically, either. However I do know that some of the guys are probably not as bad as the nutcases I’ve seen around here.
Even if other toy collectors may not get along with the Hot Wheels guys, we probably all enjoyed the race tracks. This Classic Comic Ad from the late 1960′s shows one of the earlier tracks. It’s a pretty elaborate set and certainly looks better than the Hot Wheels tracks I had as a kid. Those things never wanted to plug in and would constantly come apart. Loop-to-loops and such were impossible. Here’s to the simpler time, when we were all just playing with toys and not warring factions of collectors!
This Classic Comic Ad is from 1968 when Sgt. Rock still ruled the world. The late, great, Joe Kubert cranked out 80 pages of military adventure in this giant sized comic. This ad was from 68, but the comic didn’t hit to closer to 69. It’s a simple advertisement, simply calling this the “Big One” and letting Kubert’s art and the bombastic cover do the selling.
At only 25 cents for 80 pages, this was a steal back then. A quick look on Ebay shows you’ll pay about 100 times that amount for the comic in today’s market as it runs in the $25 range. I haven’t read this issue, but I gotta admit… This ad has me tempted!
Today’s Classic Comic Ad ties into Mego Month which is painfully chugging along. I have a soft spot for the Mego Aquaman (and Aquaman in general) so this classic ad from the old Heroes World catalog, makes for an awesomely aquatic one-two punch. What makes this interesting is that it’s for the famed Aquaman versus the Great White Shark set. Even though Aquaman can control sea creatures, somehow his battle with a big shark, is a natural fit. It certainly didn’t hurt that this came out around the time that Jaws was insanely popular.
The art is used in the ad is actually “reproduction art” which was pretty common in the old days of printing. They were typically done for cheap newspapers and black and white circulars. It’s interesting that this version is colored and you can see that the original photo was redrawn by hand in the sample below, which I dug up on the Mego Museum. It’s always fun to see Aquaman and while many lament this set as sort of lame and it wasn’t apparently the biggest seller for Mego… It’s become one of the more valuable Mego pieces these days. Those darn sharks are hard to track down!
Here’s a throwback for the bargain shopper in our latest Classic Comic Ad, which features Duke from GI Joe shilling the latest Marvel comic prices. Not just any prices either, but Marvel was offering 1984 prices in 1985! A big $2.30 savings! Holy smokes!
Back then, you could get 12 issues for just $6 or about what it costs for a single comic these days. Putting that aside, the interesting part about this ad isn’t so much the retro prices, but the choice of character to advertise those low rates. Typically you’d find a “real” Marvel character in one of the pages, such as Spider-Man or Hulk. The fact that we have a licensed character, makes this ad stand out and shows just how popular the GI Joe comic was at the time.
Duke is decked out in his comic colors (which would eventually become a figure variant in the 25th line) holding up a sign about the deal. Duke doesn’t strike me as a particularly interesting salesman, given his sort of bland nature but this was at the height of the GI Joe cartoon popularity so maybe they wanted to hook non-fans. You’d think if they were going to choose a Joe, it would have been Snake Eyes. Not to mention that Duke wasn’t exactly the most well written character in the Marvel Joe comics.
Another neat part of this ad, is that it features the Hasbro Bradley copyright. When Hasbro acquired the Milton Bradley in 1984, they briefly called themselves Hasbro Bradley, before ditching it in early 1986. Again, this is something that wouldn’t be on this ad, had Marvel not chosen to spotlight a GI Joe character on the page. It’s just another historic element that gets put into this time capsule.
Sadly, if you’re like me and lament the days when comic books only cost a few bucks, don’t try mailing this ad in. The offer expired in March of 1985. They can’t keep those 1984 prices forever!
This Classic Comic Ad from the 1970′s has it all. Not only is it advertising one of the most popular toy properties of all time, but it’s doing it in a fashion that let’s you know how different the era was. Star Wars was not yet fully ingrained into our society that everyone knew everything about it. Like the fact that the artwork here has Darth Vader looking more like the Knight of Darkness than himself.
All of the characters look a bit off, but the artwork is still pretty amazing. It’s as if Star Wars went through a vintage sci-fi filter. All of the art here was done by the Joe Kubert school of cartoon art. The art almost looks like it was done by someone who had never seen Star Wars and wasn’t really familiar with the characters. It’s really great stuff.
And then there’s the prices, which are ridiculously cheap at $3.29 per figure. Even the concept of mail ordering an action figure from a comic book store seems absurd. Perhaps the craziest, is the idea of sending your credit card number THROUGH THE MAIL to some random store. Identity theft clearly wasn’t a concern back then. There’s even a little blurb for resident New Yorkers to stop on by their mall location. Last but not least, how can you not love the advertisement when it mentions Hans Solo. I presume that’s the Danish version of Han Solo?!
This ad is just a neat time capsule of the very early days of Star Wars. The mania had begun and the property was already proving to be a cash cow, but things were quite a bit different. Great art, cool retro concepts and vintage low prices make for a great comic ad.