Archive for the 'HG Toys' Category

Earl Norem’s Giant Alien Illustration—Restored!

Alien Norem-1

Alien Norem-2

As I’ve said before, Earl Norem’s work on HG’s Alien license, including the target from the Alien Blaster Giant Target Set and this, the 36″ tall jigsaw puzzle, is some of the finest in pop culture illustration. Artist Stephen Kick recently bought a copy of the puzzle, scanned every single piece into Photoshop, assembled the pieces, cleaned and restored them, and gave us a big, beautiful poster. The before and after images are above.

Go to Steve’s post to see more, including some GIFs of the entire process—it took him eight hours. And maybe drop him a line of thanks. The puzzle is not easy to come by, and, because of the size, it’s almost impossible to see quality images of the whole thing. Now, everyone gets to enjoy Norem’s work up close without spending a small fortune.

While you’re at it, check out Steve’s many other incredible designs, like this custom Boba Fett blaster, for instance.

Alien Outline Jigsaw Puzzle (HG Toys, 1979)

Alien HG 1979

Alien HG 1979-2

Alien HG 1979-3

Brilliant. See more jigsaw puzzles and read about Alien‘s extensive merchandising campaign here.

Alien Jigsaw Puzzle (HG Toys, 1979)

Alien Puzzle 1979

Alien Puzzle 1979-2

Alien Puzzle 1979-3

Alien Puzzle 1979-4

One in a series of the bleakest jigsaw puzzles ever produced on planet Earth. Others in this format included the Space Jockey and the Nostromo in flight, but the real prize is the 250-piece, 36″ tall beauty featuring art by Earl Norem, who also illustrated the unforgettable Alien “target” from the Alien Blaster Giant Target Set (see it here on an episode of Toy Hunters).

The marketing of Alien was one of the strangest, most decadent moments in the history of toy licensing, and one of the greatest kid moments in the history of kid-dom. 20th Century Fox foolishly sold the license across the board expecting the film to come back with a PG rating, and ended up having to sell parents on one of the most violent movies ever made, and arguably the most terrifying.

I found a blurb in Starlog (below) detailing the scope (but not the extent) of the merchandising campaign. The only products I haven’t seen are the Don Post mask and the pajamas (!). One of the Roach t-shirt transfers is here, the Ben Cooper costume is here, and you can see the Kenner-produced “world’s ugliest doll” (a.k.a. the greatest action figure ever made) here.

Alien Merch Starlog July 1979

`Great White Shark’ Jigsaw Puzzle (Circa 1975, HG Toys)

Shark Puzzle

Hilariously unironic. I’m surprised there’s not a bloody seal in the beast’s mouth. Almost as fun as the 6-foot-long inflatable Jaws.

(Image via eBay)

HG Toys: Masters of the Universe Inflatable Wind Raider (1985)

MOTU Wind Raider 1985

MOTU Wind Raider 1985-2

You guys are on your own. I’m all out of clever this morning.

(Images via Toyhelper/eBay)

HG Toys: Godzilla Battles the Tricephalon Monster Play Set (1979)

HG Godzilla 1979-3

HG Godzilla 1979-2

HG Godzilla 1979

As far as I know, this is the only traditional playset featuring Godzilla produced by an American toy company in the ’70s and ’80s, and it’s interesting for a number of reasons (other than the one just stated).

First, it marks the only appearance of Tricephalon, an obvious attempt to mimic King Ghidorah without paying for the license. The box art depicts a mecha-hydra, anticipating both Mecha-King Ghidorah from Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991) and Hyper Mecha-King Ghidorah from a 1997 Japanese TV series called Godzilla Island. (There was also a three-headed robotic dragon in the NES game Magmax, first released in 1986)

Second, the destroyer in the set is “missile-firing” (see warning on box) at a time when toys firing projectiles were being hastily recalled.

Third, the box artist is likely Earl Norem, who painted the cover for HG’s Buck Rogers Galactic Play Set from the same year. It looks very much like Norem’s color scheme and style. An expanded version of the playset art was used for a large Godzilla jigsaw puzzle, also issued by HG, also from 1979. The detailed human faces on the lower panel further convince me that Norem is the artist.

HG Godzilla Puzzle 1979

Check out The Sphinx (who makes the same point about Tricephalon anticipating Mecha-King Ghidorah) for close-ups of the Godzilla and Tricephalon molds, and for a listing of the set’s full contents.

(Images via Materialist Zen and The Sphinx)


1984 HG Toys Catalog: Masters of the Universe, Blue Thunder, Eagle Force, and The Last Starfighter





I think the Masters of the Universe franchise stinks. To me, it’s just a dumbed down mash-up of D&D and Star Wars. Still, there’s no denying its overwhelming impact on the kid world at the time. Do I happen to have an awesome photo of a youngster holding the sword and shield (and wearing the belt) from one of these HG sets? I do.

There was a Blue Thunder toy line produced by Multi-Toys, for some reason, but I believe only the helicopter made it to the shelves. Leave it to HG to jump on the scraps: Blue Thunder Dress Up Helmet Set?

Eagle Force was an action figure line released by Mego in 1982, the same year G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero premiered. (I’ll delve into the two lines at some point, because it’s clear that Hasbro ripped off some of Mego’s designs). Mego shut down operations in 1982, and Eagle Force was done, so it’s curious to see the name still being used in ’84.

The Last Starfighter Target Set is so incompetent that I sort of adore it. Is that supposed to be Grig on the right? Mercy.

(Images via Parry Game Preserve)

HG Toys: Sword & Sorcery Playset (1982) and Weapon Sets (1983/1984)

HG Sword & Sorcery 1982

HG Sword & Sorcery 1982-2

The set seems to be a rip-off of both DFC’s Dragonriders of the Styx (1981) and Miner’s Dragon Crest/Mysterious Castle (1982) Playsets. HG also made a Sword & Sorcery Castle Mountain Playset, which looks as flimsy as it is massive. The base set first appeared in 1982. Here are both sets in the 1984 HG catalog.



HG had a Sword & Sorcery line that included weapon sets—very similar to Placo’s 1984 AD&D weapon sets. The Power Bow is listed as a new item in the catalog, so it’s possible HG beat Placo to the market. Neither line sold well.

It’s hard to believe HG managed to trademark the name “Sword and Sorcery,” a phrase coined in 1961 by Fritz Leiber to describe Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories and the genre they spawned.



(Catalog images via Parry Game Preserve)

Toy Aisle Zen (1981): The Dukes of Hazzard

Toy Aisle 1981

November 13, 1981. (Photo: Joe Maher/Ledger-Enquirer)

Oh, Daisy. What we have here are HG’s Dukes of Hazzard Adventure Set, Coleco’s Dukes Power Cycle, Illco’s General Lee Dashboard “with lighted fuzz detector” (Illco also made a Dukes pinball game), Ertl’s General Lee die-cast car (I had the small one), and, on top of the cycle, Mego’s 8″ Bo Duke action figure.

Here’s a closer look at the adventure set.

Dukes Adventure Set

And here it is in the wild. “Breaker One, Breaker One, I might be crazy, but I ain’t dumb!”

Dukes 80s

Let’s throw in Bo and Luke as well.

Bo Duke Action Figure

See more toy aisles here. Plaid Stallions has a monster collection here.

(Images via eBay, The Dukes of Hazzard Museum, and Metallichicks)




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