Monday, June 30, 2014

Cap Gun Monday: HUBLEY TEX

The TEX is a slightly smaller, skinnier, younger brother of Hubley's original cast-iron TEXAN and the various incarnations of the more common TEXAN JR. At 7 3/4 inches, it's designed for smaller hands, but is still a very nice piece. You'll not the small chip in the rear corner of the starboard side grip. Sad to say, this is a common ailment in guns of this type.

More non-lethal weapons HERE.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Toy Soldier Saturday: ANDYGUARD CIVIL WAR (Part 1)

Some folks used to think these 60mm Civil Warriors were made by Ideal, because the sculpting is so fine. Nowadays they're identified as Andyguard (whoever they were). Not sure I've seen any other Andyguard toys. Unlike the Marx Civil War figures, these blue and gray poses were identical, so I'll be showing you the same poses from different angles. Tragically, I don't possess all of them in both colors (I know you feel my pain), but I'll do the best I can. Stay tuned for another five poses, coming in Part 2. 

More soft plastic warriors HERE.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Forgotten Books: The Photo-Journal Guide to Comic Books (1989)

When this two-volume set was published back in '89, you couldn't just jump on the Internet and hunt up a photo of dang near every Golden Age comic ever published. So The Photo-Journal Guide was a beautiful thing. A collection of more than 21,000 comic book covers, in full color, along with pertinent info of various sorts.

Each big honkin' volume, running 400 pages and measuring 10 x 13 1/2 inches, begins with informative text articles. Volume 1 discusses the hobby of collecting, the science of grading, calculating relative values, pedigrees, preservation and storage, and the basic plan of the books. Volume 2 goes deeper into the phases and trends of collecting, buying, selling, investing, restoration, and social and historical impact. Volume 2 also has a handy artist index. All of that, I'm sure, was important reading for folks who could afford to collect Golden Age comics.

But for the rest of us, who are really just looky-lous, these books are all about the photos. And they're pure eye candy. All are interesting, and some are flat out amazing. Mixed in with the familiar titles are hundreds of titles I've never heard of, and would otherwise never see. The Adventures of Alan Ladd. Al Capp's Wolf Gal. Atom-Age Combat. Baseball Thrills. Billy Buckskin. The Bouncer. Catholic Comics. Claire Voyant. Criminals on the Run. Captain Kidd. And on and on and on. And on some more.

Each issue (or sequence of issues) has an entry showing the RVI (Relative Value Index - higher numbers are better) and the SI (Scarcity Index - 10 being the rarest). This page tells us that Doc Savage 2, with an RVI of 380, is worth roughly three times as much as Doc Savage 19. 

Seems to me I paid somewhere in the neighborhood of eighty bucks for these books back in '89, and I'd expect them to be worth a lot more now. Unfortunately for me (but luckily for you), they're not. The same outfit later published several volumes devoted to Marvel Comics. This original set does include some early Marvels, but the cut-off date appears to be 1963.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Cap Gun Monday: HUBLEY ARMY .45

Yeah, the great majority of my cap guns are cowboy pistols (and I'm guessing the great majority of cap guns made before 1970 were too). But kids liked to play army and detective and secret agent, too, so most of the toy manufacturers did their part to arm them. Here's one of the nicer non-western weapons from Hubley.

More cool Cap Guns HERE

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Toy Soldier Saturday: MARX VIKINGS

These guys are 54mm (about 2 inches tall) and usually showed up in Marx playsets as the bad guys. The good guys were Marx knights, who were kept busy preventing these guys from storming their Marx castle. Marx also made a set of 6-inch dime store Vikings. I believe some of the 6-inch poses were similar, but slightly different.

Lots more Toy Soldiers HERE

Friday, June 20, 2014

Forgotten Books: GOD SAVE THE CHILD by Robert B. Parker (1974)

Some notes on my umpteenth reading of the second novel in the Spenser series, published forty years ago:

In a recent post on the series premiere, The Godwulf Manuscript (HERE), I noted that Spenser sounded more like The Continental Op than like Philip Marlowe. In this novel, at least in the beginning, he seems to have softened a little, sounding more like Lew Archer than the Op.

There are, however, some great Marlowe-like lines. In describing his client, whose clothes were obviously picked out by his wife, Spenser notes he "looked as happy as a hound in a doggie sweater."

And there are hat tips to several of Spenser's literary predecessors. In accepting the client's check, he tries to act nonchalant, as if "maybe I'd buy some orchids with it." When asked his name, he answers, "Nick Charles." Another character sarcastically calls him Sherlock Holmes, and  a few pages later he annoys a snooty Assistant Principal named Moriarty. Arriving at his client's house, he makes an allusion to the opening of The Big Sleep, saying "I was neat, clean, alert and going to the back door."

Two important series regulars make their first appearances here, along with one frequently recurring character. The most important is Susan. At first sight, Spenser describes her thusly: Susan Silverman wasn't beautiful, but there was a tangibility about her, a physical reality that made the secretary with the lime green bosom seem insubstantial. She had shoulder length black hair and a thin dark Jewish face with prominent cheekbones. Tall, maybe 5'7", with black eyes. It was heard to tell her age but there was a sense about her of intelligent maturity which put her on my side of thirty.

Spenser's Indian?
Next is Henry Cimoli, ex-fighter and proprietor of the Harbor Health Club. In the first book, Spenser worked out at the Boston YMCA. Henry appears in or is at least mentioned in almost every book for the rest of the series.

The recurring character is Lieutenant Healy of the State Police, who will pop up many times in the years to come, and prove a staunch ally. Here we learn that he once had a try-out with the Phillies, and may have signed with them if he hadn't joined the army and gone to war.

At one point Healy asks Spenser if he knows anything about horses. "Only what I read in the green sheet," Spenser replies. Seems to me that somewhere later in the series he tells Susan that he was raised around horses.

Spenser is still into woodcarving. On her first visit to his apartment, Susan compliments his carving of an Indian, like the statue "in front of the museum." One of these days I'll get to Boston and be on the lookout for that guy.

A lot of  names are dropped here. Some belong to such immortals as Groucho, Bogart, John Wayne and Kit Carson, and others to such lesser lights as Jackie Susann, Rod McKuen and Bobby Riggs.

The book title pops up at 2:35 in the morning, during the last dregs of a party, when Billie Holiday sings "God save the child that's got his own."