Saturday, August 30, 2014

Toy Soldier Saturday: MARX 60mm INDIANS (Part 2)

Here's another war party of 60mm warriors. The first batch is HERE. These guys loved to attack the Marx Fort Apache back in the '50s, especially when Rip Masters, Rusty and Rin-Tin-Tin were in residence. 

More pint-sized warriors HERE

Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday's Forgotten Books: THE LINKS and SOME DIE HARD by Stephen Mertz (1979)

Here are the links to this week's edition of Patti Abbott's world renown Friday's Forgotten Books. I'll be adding more links as I find (or hear about) them. I came across a few reviews posted earlier in the week and weren't sure if they were intended to be FFBs or not, so I guessed. If I missed yours, (or guessed wrong) shoot me. Shoot me, that is, an email, to

Sergio Angelini: Death at Half-Term by Josephine Bell
Matt Baker: Death Valley by Sandy Dengler
Yvette Banek: Death of Jezabel by Christianna Brand
Les Blatt: Tragedy at Ravensthorpe by J.J. Connington
Brian Busby: The Long November by James Benson Nablo
Bill Crider: My Gun, Her Body (Dinah for Danger) by Jeff Bogard (Leslie Bernard)
Martin Edwards: Angel in the Case by Milward Kennedy
Curt Evans: Black Widow by Patrick Quentin (book & movie)
Rich Horton: Cleek of Scotland Yard by T.W. Hanshew
Jerry House: Hell-For-Leather by Jake Foster (James Reasoner and Ed Gorman)
Randy Johnson: The Saint Closes the Case by Leslie Charteris
Tracy K: The Davidian Report by Dorothy B. Hughes
George Kelley: Where the Summer Ends by Karl Edward Wagner
Rob Kitchin: I Married a Dead Man by Cornell Woolrich
B.V. Lawson: Fool's Gold by Ted Wood
Todd Mason: The Best of the West, Joe R. Lansdale, ed.
Neer: Oil! by Upton Sinclair
J.F. Norris: Bury Me Deep by Harold Q. Masur
James Reasoner: Private Eye Action As You Like It by Joe R. Lansdale & Lewis Shiner
Karyn Reeves: The Murders in Praed Street by John Rhode
Gerald Saylor: A Twisted Thing by Mickey Spillane
Ron Scheer: Heartwood by James Lee Burke
Kerrie Smith: Nemesis by Agatha Christie
Kevin Tipple: The Zebra-Striped Hearse by Ross Macdonald
TomCat: The Abandoned Room by Wadsworth Camp
Prashant C. Trikannad: Defending Jacob by William Landay

And now . . .

This cover doesn't look much like 1979, does it? That's because it ain't. It's a brand spanking new edition of this lost Mertz classic now available in both trade pb and eBook from Rough Edges Press. The original, in all it's 1979 glory, is below.

In the all-new afterward to the new edition, Steve reveals that the pen name on that first edition, "Stephen Brett," was a hat tip to Brett Halliday, author of the Michael Shayne series. At the time, Steve had been selling stories to Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, and Some Die Hard was his first novel (the number is now somewhere in the neighborhood of 60, and counting).

Steve also reveals that his working title for this one was "The Flying Corpse," which pretty much describes the core of the mystery. A rich guy, about to remove his wastrel son from his will, fears the son is about to murder him, and hires private detective "Rock" Dugan on a contingency basis. If the guy is murdered before the new will is signed, Dugan will get twenty grand to catch the killer. And sure enough, the guy is stabbed to death, while alone in the cockpit of an airborne glider. Yep, it's a locked room mystery in the sky.

I read the Manor House edition long ago and remembered nothing except I enjoyed it. So it was a pleasure to rediscover this novel in its new incarnation. And I was a bit surprised. I know Steve to be a long-time fan of the hard-boiled detective genre, so I expected a guy named Rock Dugan to be hard as nails. But that ain't so. Dugan lets his inner tough guy loose when necessary - particularly when he beats the crap out of a dirty police chief - but by and large he's a polite, sensitive and even romantic guy. Excluding that cop-beating scene, I'd rate him mediumboiled.

Mertz the mystery fan shows though in several places. We learn that Dugan too is a mystery fan, and in chapter one he's reading a Perry Mason mystery. Later, after meeting the soon-to-be murder victim, he ruminates on the similarities between his situation and that faced by Philip Marlowe in the opening scenes of The Big Sleep. He likens his problem to the locked room puzzles of Ellery Queen and John Dickson Carr.  And later, after a conk on the head, Dugan tells us a real-life conk is harder to recover from than the fictional conks Mike Hammer used to get.

Altogether, Some Die Hard is a nicely rounded mystery with just about the right amounts of sex, violence and old-fashioned deduction. Unlike Race Williams, Dugan uses his brain - rather than his guns - to solve the case. And unMarlowelike as he is, I came across a couple of Chandlerlike lines:

I wouldn't have left Langdon Springs then for all the graft in Washington.
and . . .
And there he is - deader than Philadelphia on a Tuesday night. 

Some Die Hard was a great read - Again! Get it HERE.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Monday, August 25, 2014

Cap Gun Monday: THE REBEL'S SCATTERGUN (in the box)

I was planning to show you Johnny Yuma's Scattergun this week, but shucks, I got so carried away with pictures that I reckon I'll have to split this into two parts. Sorry to keep you in suspense, but next week, I promise, I'll show it to you out of the box.

On a complex scale considering both scarcity and desirability, the Scattergun is just about the most valuable cap gun of all time. I've only seen one offered for sale. Ever. And thankfully, I bought it. It was so long ago I can't remember where I got or how much I paid, but I'm glad I didn't miss my chance.

This gun was made by Classy Products, an outfit that made a lot of cheap-looking Roy Rogers pistols. This one, which doesn't look cheap at all, has a lot of fragile plastic. And I'm guessing it wasn't as well distributed as guns made by some of the major companies, hence the rarity 

Lots more Cap Guns HERE.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Toy Soldier Saturday: MARX 54mm KNIGHTS (Part 1)

These little armored boogers were probably the first to defend Marx tin-litho castles, way back in 1953. They're pretty crude compared to later Marx figures, but have their place in Toy Soldier History, so here they are. There were five more in this set, which we'll see in Part 2. A later, and more nicely sculpted set of knights will follow in Part 3. 


More soft-plastic armies HERE