Saturday, June 18, 2011

PIRATES of the M.P.C.!

In the late 50s and early 60s, the Multiple Plastics Corporation (known as MPC) produced 60mm soft plastic figures known as "ringhands" because their hands had holes to accommodate a variety of accessories. Each guy was about 2 5/8 inches tall. There were cowboys, Indians, frontiersmen, Civil War and Revolutionary War soldiers, African warriors, G.I.s, cops, firemen, space explorers, and probably others that are slipping my mind. My favorites were the pirates.

Each figure also had a hole in the base, to slip over a peg on certain larger accessories. For cowboys, these pegs were in wagons, for Indians they were in canoes. The pirates had ships!

Some of the accessories pictured here are the row boat and oars, shovel, anchor, sword and hat.

At the bow of the blue ship there's a plank, in case anyone needs to walk it, and a red lantern. (At the upper right is a Skyler Hobbs accessory. This is the actual Superman-blue PT Cruiser driven by Jason Wilder in the Hobbs stories.)

This peg-legged guy, no doubt inspired by Long John Silver, has a parrot on his shoulder. Near his right leg is a treasure chest.

I know it's hard to see, but the guy steering the red ship has a cat-o-nine tails. Nautical trivia: The cat, a short whip tipped with nine knotted strips of leather, was normally kept in a bag when not in use. When the time came to flay some unlucky transgressor, the cat came out. This was the origin of the saying - yep, you guessed it - "the cat's out of the bag."

This dangerous looking dude has a pick in his left fist. The yellow guy visible behind him is preparing to bop somebody with a boarding pike.

More ringhands coming soon!


Deka Black said...

Arrr, piratic day this. remember me of a kind of envelopes with badly articulated plastic toys i buyed in my chilhood.

Charles Gramlich said...

oh man, I would have loved these. Hell I probably still would. I did have some of these kinds of figures, soldiers. They had holes for guns and such.

Anonymous said...

Napier would have them all painted by now.

Evan Lewis said...

Probably does.

Cap'n Bob said...

Wrong, both of you. I never paint originals. I think there were lab guys in ringhands, too, Evan. I have a lot of them but was never a big fan, although your impressive photography makes these guys look appealing. The accessories got lost easily and the poses were stilted, IMHO.
Speaking of pirate ships, when my 7th grade class went to Richmond, VA, for a field trip our final stop was a Woolworth's, to buy souvenirs. I couldn't decide on anything and with time running out grabbed a pirate ship with figures. Everyone thought I was a dork for buying toys. My shame was such that to this day I have no idea who made that ship.

SteveHL said...

I had some of these or a very similar set. I have no idea what happened to most of the figures but I do know that the pirate captain met a grisly end. My older brother decided to see what happens if you put a plastic pirate (my plastic pirate, that is) in the flame of a gas stove. What happens is, not surprisingly, that it melts. What did surprise my brother is that when you melt plastic all over a burner on a gas stove, it makes a colossal mess which colossally annoys your parents. I don't recall what his punishment was; I suspect that I was in favor of melting my brother, but that didn’t happen. Just as well – now, fifty years later, I have forgiven him…almost.

Anonymous said...

The cat o' nine tails was also the source of the expression "not enough room to sling a cat."