Greedo, Buzz Lightyear, and
Spider-Man Walk into the Batcave...


I'm not setting up a joke there. It's just what happens when toy lines collide.



During my sister's visit with her kids last summer we decided to drag some of my old stuff out of the basement. I had got my nephew Ishmael (real name classified) a Batman figure 
for his birthday — from the 2008 Dark Knight movie line, I think, but I was happy to find one in the character's traditional gray-&-black motif rather than the all-black seen in the films. He told me that he "really, really wished" for a Batmobile and he thought that we could find one. Aware that I didn't have a Batmobile per se but having already discussed with my sister giving him some of my Kenner Star Wars figures, I decided to quite literally dust off a couple of great Mego items for him, the Batcave playset and what was officially called the Mobile Bat Lab but I liked to call the Batvan.

I still haven't gifted Ishmael with all the bounty contained in my Darth Vader carrying case. None of my Star Wars figures except a Yoda are still in their packaging, but all date to the respective releases of the original Star Wars trilogy and presumably are of a vintage that, even used, commands some coin. I love seeing Ishmael play with my childhood toys, especially since he looks so much like me, but if the figures can be sold off, buying newer ones for him with money left over, he won't know the difference. So we just have to find the utility value (if I remember my economics class right) of the weird joy that seeing him with my old stuff gives us all versus what that old stuff might bring in going to collectors and, like I said, spending that money on equivalent toys for Ishmael plus more in the pocket.

(Anyone with knowledge of Star Wars collectibles is not only welcome but encouraged to pipe up in the comments for where besides current EBay listings I might be able to gauge the figures' going rates.)



There was at least one extra Greedo to spare from the days of redundant birthday gifts, however. I ended up grabbing Chewbacca, too, and, what the heck, my Millennium Falcon — at least as dinged up since 1977 as the one Han Solo won from Lando Calrissian a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. It was hilarious seeing Ishmael's motley assortment of action figures in the Falcon, the Batvan, and the Batcave playset (which I should get a more complete picture of next time it's unpacked). In the photo way above, you can see Batman standing guard while the Hulk apparently does some work on the vehicle (sadly, actually missing a wheel), possibly the reason the fire truck is there; Spider-Man in his black costume, the root of the Venom character who so fascinates Ishmael, and Zurg, arch-enemy of Buzz Lightyear, lay exhausted by the Bat-Signal. Other figures including the Star Wars duo, Buzz Lightyear himself, and at least one other Spider-Man are either in the Batcave or the Batvan.

I remember getting the Mobile Bat Lab at just about the same age as Ishmael was when he got it from me, which a discovery of its 1975 release online bears out. And even then I was a purist. One if not both of my parents convinced me to go ahead and put on all the stickers, even the ones that read "zap" and "bang" and "pow" — sound effects, courtesy as much the ever-popular TV show as the comics, that I argued wouldn't really appear on the Batvan. I had the same reaction, as I've since found many other former geek kids did, to Halloween costumes and Underoos that substituted a picture of a superhero for a replica of that superhero's actual outfit. The Hulk doesn't wear shirts, granted, at least not old-school, pure-id Hulk, but you get around that by using a green top to continue the illusion rather than a shirt with a picture of the Hulk on it. Hulk smash puny, stupid grown-up marketing man!



Photos © 2012 Brian Saner Lamken, featuring elements TM/® DC, Lucasfilm, Marvel, et al.

9 comments:

Hannah Kincade said...

I wish I still had some of my toys from when I was younger. My mom was the opposite of a pack rat. Purge! Purge! Purge!!

She can't purge my memories!

Rebecca T. said...

I can't wait until my niece is old enough to share some of my childhood toys with. (of course, mine are the My Little Pony/paper doll/Barbie variety) Though seeing her play with the little fisher price toys the last couple of times (and getting tugged on to sit and play with her) brought back some good memories :)

Blam said...


@Hannah — I'm sorry. My mom is a total packrat. Some of the stuff of my sister's and mine at her house we've asked her to save, but it's also in her nature. Just last week I was surveying work done in her basement and she showed me at least one box of things that I hadn't seen in decades, since well before she moved into this house my first year of college.

@Rebecca — It's absolutely wonderful. There's actually a Fisher-Price castle that my sister and I loved now back in mom's house for the grandkids after years spent at our cousin's who had children first. If there was one thing we wanted saved from our childhoods, it was that castle along with the figures, including a knight and some awesome horses, that went with it and a Fisher-Price camper with a removable boat for a roof that we used to pretend traveled back in time to discover the castle. Unfortunately only the castle survived.

Naomi Ruth Thompson said...

while the Hulk apparently does some work on the vehicle (sadly, actually missing a wheel), possibly the reason the fire truck is there

Maybe the car caught on fire?

Teebore said...

I'm envious of your pack rat mother. Like Hannah, my mom is anti-pack rat (to the point where I sometimes think she'd be most happy sitting on the floor of an empty room), though I've been able to squirrel away a good chunk of my childhood stuff.

I'm also envious of your nephew's ability to mix-n-match his play things, letting Hulk and Batman and Star Wars and Zurg all interact with one another. My anal retentiveness stretches back as far as I can remember, such that He-Man figures always played with other He-Man figures, GI Joe stuck w/GI Joe, etc.

Exceptions were figures of similar size (so GI Joe, Star Wars and Super Powers could occasionally interact) or figures where the crossover could be explained (ie GI Joe interacting with Transformers because Transformers were giant robots compared to humans).

Reading over that again makes me sound like some kind of action figure racist...

Anyone with knowledge of Star Wars collectibles is not only welcome but encouraged to pipe up in the comments for where besides current EBay listings I might be able to gauge the figures' going rates.

It wouldn't be a whole lot different than the "compare prices on eBay" method, but WI-based Brian's Toys is a pretty reliable source for all things action figures, with the Star Wars stuff being their primary interest.

Steve Sansweet has also published a handful of action figure guides (the most recent being released just before Christmas). It's been awhile since I looked at them, but I think they include estimated values, though of course, being published books, the values wouldn't reflect the fluidity of the market.

I had the same reaction, as I've since found many other former geek kids did, to Halloween costumes and Underoos that substituted a picture of a superhero for a replica of that superhero's actual outfit.

As I share that reaction, I'm pretty sure I've shared this Simpsons exchange with you before, but just in case...

Milhouse:Check it out Lisa, I'm Radioactive Man.
Lisa:I don't think the real Radioactive Man wears a plastic smock with a picture of himself on it.
Milhouse: He would on Halloween.

El Qué said...

@Teebore: Reading over that again makes me sound like some kind of action figure racist...
Hahahahaha! I love that (which makes me feel uncomfortably like Joan for some reason).

Arben said...

I may never get a scene like that with my girls, although you never know. Already they're down with superheroes — down with as in hip to, that is, not "Down with superheroes!" — and they will know of the Star Wars ere long. Barbies and Disney princesses may be inevitable, and I would swear girls are just hard-wired to glom onto that kind of thing, but they don't have to be mutually exclusive with "boy stuff" as I believe your own nieces have proven, Blam. I do look forward to playing with and just watching my nephews play with the old-fashioned crashy stuff, though. The girls seem to want, like, Supergirl to help a kitty and the boys will grip action figures powerfully in each hand and let rip with a loud "I will kill you now!!!" Where does this stuff come from inside of us?

Arben said...

Also, I can't believe I forgot to say that I kvell heartily at the sight of that Mego stuff.

Blam said...


@Teebore: I'm also envious of your nephew's ability to mix-n-match his play things

Me too. I had no problem letting any of my figures from various toy lines interact, but if I wanted to use the 8" figures with either the 12" or the under-4" figures then the outliers pretty much had to be giant and/or miniature robots, clones, or aliens.

I appreciate the link, too. I would swear that when I first dotted around EBay a dozen years ago you could look up closing sale prices on expired auctions to gauge current/recent going rates, but this is apparently no longer the case and I have been told that I may just be misremembering. You would think that someplace, even a fee-based (per visit or subscription) website, would track and catalog this useful information.

@Arben: I would swear girls are just hard-wired to glom onto that kind of thing, but they don't have to be mutually exclusive with "boy stuff" as I believe your own nieces have proven, Blam.

They have indeed. I'm fresh off a visit from my sister in which she shared that my nephew is highly intolerant of anything that he deems "girl stuff" but the girls' superhero love continues unabated and there's not reason it shouldn't.