Published March 19, 2015
There were two knights and two vikings in the series, and each figure came with a horse (sold separately). The second knight was Sir Stuart the Silver Knight. The Vikings were Odin the Viking Chieftain and Brave Erik.
The “Noble Knight” series came out first, about 1968, and included four knights, all of which I hope to post here. As you can see, the attention to detail is striking. Marx put out many Medieval-themed playsets starting in the ’50s. A couple of them are here.
Found photos of a very influential Marx set I talked about in a different Christmas morning shot. There were space exploration-themed playsets before Operation Moon Base, but this is the one that stuck. Molds from Moon Base would be re-used in different Marx sets (including 1979’s Galaxy Command) for nearly 20 years.
The playset format perfected by Marx dominated until Kenner met Star Wars.
Published November 11, 2014
See also Marx’s Invasion Day Playset from the same period.
They’re getting ready to hit the gas at a motocross event in Mission Viejo, California. I would much rather watch this than the motocross.
(Photo via Calisphere)
Published June 20, 2014
Two variations of a popular castle and knight set from the ’50s. There were many such sets, including one featuring Robin Hood and his Merry Men.
Prince Valiant is an Arthurian adventure comic strip created by Hal Foster in 1937. It’s still running today under different authors. A live action film adaptation appeared in 1954, with Robert Wagner cast as the Prince.
(Images via Toy Soldier HQ and Pinterest)
Published April 24, 2014
Godzilla , Marx Toys/Playsets
Incredible find by The Sphinx. Marx produced many plates in the 1960s featuring Spider-Man, Batman, Disney characters, and so on, but I had no idea they licensed and distributed one featuring the big guy.
Also, check out Sphinx’s ongoing checklist of Godzilla merchandise available in America up to 1985, with in-depth coverage of each item. Very cool.
That’s the Galaxy Explorer, the centerpiece of the 1979 Lego Space line. (For stacks of Lego Space in a toy store in 1981, go here.)
Marx Toys released the Big Wheel in 1969 and the Green Machine—“a racer for guys who like a ride that’s really fast…“—in 1976. Damn thing was the Corvette of racing trikes.
JCPenney Christmas Catalog, 1976
I’m assuming the dog on the left is a Christmas present, and the dog on the right isn’t.
(Images via j_t_d/Flickr and Wishbook)
I ran across the Dragon Crest playset at toyranch’s Flickr. I found nearly the same set, renamed Mysterious Castle, in the 1982 Sears Christmas Catalog. The date on the Dragon Crest set is a guess. At some point in 1979, Multiple Toymakers ceased operations and Miner Industries partnered with Union Major. Many or all of Multiple’s molds fell to Miner, much like Mego acquired various Marx Toys’ molds in ’79. It was the year that marked the beginning of the end for the traditional playset.
The big addition to Mysterious Castle is the cheesy dragon and his/her lair. The mat is also a little different. Beyond that, it looks like all the pieces have been recycled from previous Multiple sets, including Castle Attack and Castle Warfare (1964), Battle of the Knights (1965), and Carry Case Castle (1969). The “fiend” figures are from the famous Pop-Top Horrors designs first produced in 1964.
Marx started putting out medieval sets in the ’50s, but Dragon Crest marks the first time the traditional knights/castle theme was combined with monsters, including dragons, thanks to the booming fantasy/D&D market.
UPDATE (4/6/14): I’m now betting that DFC’s Dragonriders of the Styx Fantasy Playset (1981) was the first to present a theme inspired by D&D. That would mean Dragon Crest was released at some point after Mysterious Castle. I’m changing the date on the set from 1981 to 1983 for now.
Published September 6, 2013
Do war toys glorify war? I think so, but the president of Toy Manufacturers of U.S.A. makes a savvy point in this 1966 Gettysburg Times article: “Unless you eliminate the adult activity, you can’t stop the child from duplicating it.”
Anyway, this Marx set is beautifully made. Can a toy be art? Can a war toy be art?