Tuesday, 4 August 2015

IN MEMORY OF THE LAST OF THE DAMBUSTER PILOTS, LES MUNRO

A few photos I've taken of the Lancaster Bomber at the various Southport Airshows, plus a movie I took of The Battle Of Britain Memorial Flight as a small tribute to New Zealander Sqn Ldr John Leslie Munro, who was the last surviving pilot of the famous Dambusters mission during World War II.






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LONE STAR UNCLE CAP GUN CARD

Kid's comment from my previous post on the UNCLE spy pen prompted me to check out and remind my self of the backing card for the Lone Star  Mauser cap pistol  with the cut out Uncle Badge.

I'm sure I'm not alone in remembering  this.

Monday, 3 August 2015

MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. SPY PEN

I was intrigued by this ad for an UNCLE spy pen that could apparently see through walls,  a very useful gadget.

With the imminent premier of the new Man From Uncle movie about to re-ignite Unclemania, maybe some enterprising toy company will re-release it!


Sunday, 2 August 2015

RICK RANDOM -SPACE DETECTIVE

Rick Random might not be a name that's familiar with some of our  readers, but to followers of vintage British comics, particularly those who enjoyed the colourful exploits of Dan Dare in the original Eagle, or the adventures of Jet-Ace Logan in the Comet and later Tiger, Rick might possibly be an old friend.


Rick first appeared in 1954 featuring in issue 37 of the pocket digest series, Super Detective Library. His first adventure was called 'Crime Rides The Spaceways',  a pulp sci-fi tale which involved a mysterious gloved serial killer  loose aboard the space passenger ship, 'Stellar'.


With the growing popularity of comic book space heroes like Dan Dare in the glossy Eagle , and Captain Condor in the less ambitious Lion comic ,Edward Holmes, the editor of Super Detective Library needed to create a space hero that fitted into his crime themed  title.



  
So Rick Random was born. A cigarette smoking space detective working for the Interplanetary Bureau of Investigation during the 2040's. The tone was set by Edward Holmes and Conrad Frost, with art by Bill Lacey and Reg Bunn.


 


However, the series was at it's best when Holmes used writers Harry Harrison and Canadian Bob Kesten, along with the master of science fiction imagery, artist Ron Turner. (Strangely, although Ron illustrated many Rick Random comic strips he only did one cover - The Case of The Space Bubble,)




Ron's bold chiaroscuro style of using stark black and white contrasts gave the strip that film noir look, and his incredible imagination made for fantastic images.


Rick's adventures continued until 1959. His final story for Super Detective Library was issue 163: The Kidnapped Planet. 




In Kidnapped Planet, Rick resigns from the Interplanetary Bureau of Investigation, but, naturally all is not what it seems.


The final panel of The Kidnapped Planet. The I.B.I. wants Rick back to work, but Rick is looking forward to a nice long vacation.

Over the next few years Rick got his fair share of reprints in various publication, sometimes with a change of name. Here he is in a Valiant Picture Library digest book as Nick Martin -Space Detective. This was actually a reprint with a different cover of Rick Random's Perilous Mission.


In 1978, a 2000A.D. comic Sci-Fi Special reprinted the Rick Random story S..O.S. From Space.


It must have been well received, as in May 1979, 2000 A.D.did a brand new six part story featuring Rick Random, with five of the instalments being illustrated by original artist, Ron Turner.  



Rick Random and The Riddle of The Astral Assassin is the last story to feature the space detective, bringing the total  Rick Random stories to 28. This script was written by Steve Moore, and as I said previously, Ron Turner did the art for the first five instalments, with the final part drawn by Carlos Ezquerra using the pen name L.J.Silver. 


Also worth a mention is this book of 10 Rick Random reprints from Super Detective Library edited by Steve Holland which was released in 2008.  It does feature the first story, retitled 'Killer in Space', as well as the final SDL story 'Kidnapped Planet'. For anyone who wants to get the flavour of the worlds of Rick Random, this is the place to start.



Saturday, 1 August 2015

IDEAL'S ROBERT THE ROBOT

As some of you may know my favourite range of the toy robots are the mighty Zeroids made by the Ideal Toy Company at the end of the sixties. But here is Ideal's Robert the Robot (Not to confused with the robot in Fireball XL5) which was released much earlier, in 1954.


I consider this popular toy for it's time, the Grandaddy of the Zeroids, and another innovative creation from Ideal.

 
It featured forward and reverse motion using a unique corded remote control which when the lever was turned a mechanism underneath the 'skirt' would move the robot back or forth. The trigger on the control was used to turn the toy left or right.




This mechanism also has rods attached to the arms which move back and forth in true robot style. The 'hands' at the end of the arms have spring clips so the robot can carry things.

 

Another of the features was that Robert 'talked' by means of another handle at the back which when it's turned operated a clever talking device which was actually a small hand operated record player complete with little plastic record. 

Robert would say, " I am Robert Robert, Mechanical Man, Drive Me, Steer Me Wherever You Can, I am Robert Robert, Mechanical Man!"

The only feature which required a battery was in Robert's head, with the on/off switch on Robert's chest. A small bulb was used to illuminate Robert's eyes and antenna. Sadly, my example has a damaged record and no metal strip or bulb, so until I repair or rplace, for now my Robert can only walk.



When these toys were originally released in 1954, they had clear plastic covers over the eyes and antenna, as well as a tool box in their chest, containing a hammer, screw driver and spanner.



As time passed, to keep the price low to compete with other companies similar robot products, the tools and the tool box cover were dropped, as was the clear plastic covers.




My example is a later version, with no removable toolbox cover, and plain eyes, but it's still an impressive looking toy. Here it is compared next to three of the Zeroid robots.


Another point of interest regarding Robert is his association with the 1954 film, 'Tobor The Great'. Although Robert never appeared in the film, there was plenty of product placement photos.

 

This was certainly a popular toy, with over 500,000 sold. There were even some pretty good replica toy Roberts' made not too long ago with an updated talking device.


the definitive guide to vintage thunderbirds toys - steve's thunderbirds vintage toys

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BLOG EXCLUSIVE: TARHEEL PROBE FORCE 3 BOX ART AND INSTRUCTION SHEET DOWNLOAD
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