Reclaiming my Childhood: Miscellaneous Edition

By Shawn Robare

So I’ve written numerous times about how much I want to rebuild the toy collection I had as a child and how difficult that is for me because I’m not all that fond of buying loose used toys.  I have a  mental block against buying another kid’s memories if that makes sense.  So my stance has been to patiently wait until I find min on card (or mint in box) versions of the stuff I want.  Again, this comes with its own set of hurdles, mainly monetary in nature.  As much as I want to re-collect these treasures, I find it next to impossible to fork over much money to procure them.  Same story told a million times by other toy collectors and nostalgia buffs.  Lately my tactic has been to ignore the really popular toy lines, the Transformers, G.I. Joe, Masters of the Universe, Star Wars and M.A.S.K. in lieu of searching out the more obscure stuff.  Depending, the prices can be much cheaper and there aren’t quite as many 30-somethings clamoring for them so they’re easier to snag without getting into bidding wars on eBay.

I was pretty excited this past weekend when I stumbled upon one of these slightly more obscure toys at the local vintage toy shop I’ve been frequenting.  Sitting there in a glass display case was a single carded Tonto action figure from The Legend of the Lone Ranger line by Gabriel from 1980…

Tonto 3

Sure, the card was pretty beat up with a huge crease across the top, but this is exactly the kind of thing I’m looking for on my vintage toy hunt.  The intention isn’t to keep the figure hermetically sealed on the card anyway; I want to open it up and hold it again.  So for $10 how could I pass this up?

Tonto 4

I originally had both Tonto and the Lone Ranger from this Gabriel line based on the 1980 film.  I honestly don’t think I ever saw the movie but I did catch the old black and white series on reruns and loved the Filmation cartoon, so at some point I must have begged my parents for these.  I must have been 3 or 4 at the time.  Though I’d love to reacquire both figures, Tonto was always my favorite because he came with both a pistol and a really neat buck knife.  I wrote about this action figure line awhile back as well


I also vividly remember loving his purple belt/sash.  Even as a kid I appreciated fun color matching in my action figures.  With both of the figures I had, my favorite aspect was that you could actually holster their pistols and sheath Tonto’s buck knife.  This was pretty advanced for action figures this early in the 80s.  I mean aside from some removable helmets and the lightsaber action on the early Star Wars figures most toys weren’t that intricate.  These also had knee-joint articulation as opposed to the Kenner figures, a stepping stone that would lead to the broader range of joints that Hasbro would use with G.I. Joe.

Tonto 2

I love the card art for these toys as well, working in the tone and style of the movie’s poster art, but instead of just cloning the painting they did a new piece just for the toys…

Tonto 5


I also love the Silver Bullet on the back of the card.  I’m not positive, but I wonder if the idea was to treat the bullets like the Kenner Star Wars points (or the later Robot and Flag points that Hasbro offered with Transformers and G.I. Joe) so that kids could save them up and use them to mail away for special promotional figures or sets.  There was actually a mail-away cardboard playset for these Gabriel figures, but weirdly enough the form requested that kids cut out the character names from the cards to act as the proof of purchase?!?  Check out this ad my good friend Paxton posted on his site The Cavalcade of Awesome when he was taking about the similar Kenner Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid toy line from the same year…


Total missed opportunity to use the Silver Bullet Points!  Just another example that I was born too late to make awesome branding decisions for these companies.  Gotta work on that time machine…

Anyway, over the past couple of months I managed to pick up some more slightly obscure action figures I had when I was a kid.  I thought this would be a fun time to share those as well.  My parents took some chances on odd toy lines and I’m curious whether they thought that I wasn’t interested in them or if they just bought them as a fluke?  I had a bunch of figures in which I only owned one or two of the toys like the ThunderCats (just had Mumm-Ra and Slithe), Silverhawks (just had a Quicksilver), or Tonto and the Lone Ranger.  In this same camp were Warduke (from the LJN Advanced Dungeons & Dragons) and some miscellaneous Blackstar villain figure (which I must have quickly rejected or lost) because I had one of the little included neon green demon PVC figures…

Blackstar Demon

I’m really loving picking up this miscellaneous figures since they’re basically one and done.  They really feel a lot like a true missing piece to my past being put back in place.  I will say that I broke my normal loose figure buying rules with these.  I saw the Galoob Blackstar Demon at a toy show up in Baltimore and I couldn’t beat the price.  Besides, it’s not like I want to shell out the moolah for a mint Blackstar villain on the card when I’m not even sure which one I had.

DandD Warduke

As for Warduke here, well, I recently won a D&D Dwarf figure from this same line from The Garage Sale of Awesome and it felt weird owning that and not my long lost Warduke.  I had some Amazon cash burning a hole in my pocket so I picked one up blindly from a third party seller for a couple bucks.  He’s not in the best shape (mostly some gauntlet paint wear and he’s missing his rad shield and ice sword, but I’ve researched MOC prices for this little guy and man, that is just never going to happen on my budget!

All in all these guys make for one awesomely Awkward Toy Family Photo!

Awkward Family Photo 80s Toys Edition

They also look great in my collection that adorns (read: is taking over) my entertainment center…


Now, if I can just find a cheap Quicksilver figure from the Silverhawks line…

  • Jason Kaphingst

    Very cool! I’ve actually got that same Tonto figure which I found in the bottom of a box of He-Man figures I picked up at a yard sale. Unfortunately, he’s missing one of his legs below the knee, so he isn’t much of a sidekick anymore… if you ever need a spare for parts, let me know…..

    • Neat! I should probably check more yard sales, and like get over my issues with pre-owned toys. I’d probably have more luck finding stuff for sure. As for your Tonto, he’d be perfect fodder for a “wounded” figure. Maybe he stepped on a old west land mine! ;)

      • I was actually going to ask you about this… because I thought you had a pretty hard-line “no pre-owned toys” policy as far as what you seek out.

        • Yeah, I’m getting better about that (I guess that’s the right term ;) ), mostly because packaged stuff is so stupidly expensive. It helps when I know the people that the toys came from. I just recently made a contact on instagram that’s going to send me some of his childhood toys he wanted to get rid of (we’re going to make a trade where I surprise him with some random stuff.) But to the point, getting it straight from a reader/social media friend is like a baby step in getting over my issues.

  • TheNavigator

    Im glad you are getting some of your childhood toys back again the 2 years I spent getting the ones I wanted was both frustrating but also really enjoyable. The hunting is the best part and im glad you got that figure open bad packaging or not. When I got a MIP figure and opened I just thought of the AFA freaks crying somewhere but thought that this is just cardboard holding in a toy to be played with (or at least enjoyed a little by a big kid:) . That collection you have got so far is great and just shows how colourful and awesome the 80s were! Ps I don’t envy you’re search for the Quicksilver as that was one I had to settle for Mint loose as the packaged ones were around $100 and it took awhile to find as it has very shiny but thin paint

    • Yeah, I’m not sweating it too much. After lucking into an almost complete set of series 1 Garbage Pail Kids for free ( I learned that it’s best not to end the hunt. Keeps it fun and keeps me interested. Also, our mantra as collectors should totally be “Open Your Toys!” It’s like they’re frozen in carbonite and we have to free them!

      As for Silverhawks, yeah, I’ve checked on eBay and the core 5 hawks mint on card are stupidly expensive. Most of the loose figures have had their metallic paint worn off a lot too. One day. Another set that is stupidly expensive is the Visionaries. Those also go for like $100 a figure. Jeez. :p

  • Nice finds Shawn. I had Warduke as a young Tintod and always thought he was pretty bad ass. I’ve heard other folks mention that they have an issue with previously owned toys. I can appreciate that. I put my previously owned figures through a decontamination shower. Just imagine Warduke replacing Meryl Streep in Silkwood.

  • There were definitely action figure lines I favored over others as a kid (TMNT, MotU, Ghostbusters, Thundercats, Marvel, etc. not to even mention the legion of mini-figures I collected), but for the most part I liked to piecemeal my collection randomly, based on what looked cool and what was affordable (many an action figure came home with me simply because they were on clearance and it meant I could buy two). I had Klunk from Bionic Six, Big Boss from C.O.P.S., Witterquick from Visionaries, etc. And not one of the other figures from any of those lines. Scale didn’t matter one bit to me back then, so my Dino-Riders had no problems going toe-to-toe with Leech from MotU… it just didn’t matter.

    Love seeing someone track down a few toys that really matter to them. It’s really weird how easily I forget the pieces I’ve tracked down myself are not the ACTUAL ones from when I was a kid. They just feel perfectly mine once I’ve got them in hand.

    • Yeah, that’s actually another good point you bring up. The difference between reacquiring the exact toys versus coming across cool stuff that I never had. To bare my weird soul a bit, when the 25th anniversary Joes started coming out I fell in love with them because of the packaging. So when I started picking them up I only stuck to the figures I had when I was a kid. Then they started releasing some figures that I never had but always coveted (Airborne, Barbecue, Blowtorch, the Cobra snow trooper, etc. I was torn. I could pick them up affordably, but since I was mainly buying these for nostalgia reasons did I skip them? Did I buy them but then open them and not display them with the ones I was actually nostalgic for? Conundrum. I ended up buying them and displaying them since I always wanted ’em. When it comes to actual vintage toys (or authentic re-releases of original molds) I still stick only to what I had as a kid…

      • TheNavigator

        I had a mission to get the main good guy character from all the main lines rom the 80s some I had and some I didn’t, but with the Visionaries I went with Cryotek rather than Leoric the real leader as he was the one I had as a kid and I preferred his design and color over Leoric. He was also the one on the original teaser poster that Hasbro put out so they thought he was cooler too. I like Witterquick though he had a great mask!

        • Yeah, I always liked Witterquick for his power of speed, but I loved the Cryotek too. Man, I wish that show would get a US DVD release…

    • Oh yeah, and I also only had Witterquick from the Visionaries. Totally want to get him again too… :p

  • Paxton Holley

    Yeah, the Legend of the Lone Ranger movie isn’t great. Not terrible, but not great either. The toys WERE great, though. *COUGH*hugecrotch*COUGH*

    I too had Warduke. He was such an awesome figure. Perfect villain for every toy line.

    • Yeah, I started watching Legend of the Lone Ranger and could only really make it through about a 3rd of it. Just wasn’t working for me (disappointed by the real life crotch size, no way it was going to match my expectations!)

      Yeah, Warduke needs his own sitcom or something…

      • Paxton Holley

        A Warduke show on Adult Swim would be awesome.

        Why did he only have chain mail on one arm and leg? Could he not afford anymore? Did it get torn off in some epic dragon battle? Never understood what was going on there.

        • I think it was a display of just how tough he was. “Come AT ME! I’m only half defending myself!” Either that or it was the fantasy version of wearing chaps (no judgement here Warduke!)

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