Archive for the 'Multiple Toymakers/MPC' Category

Christmas Morning, 1969: Milton Bradley’s Barnabas Collins: Dark Shadows Game

Christmas 1969

Kid also appears to be dressed up as Barnabas Collins. Wrong holiday, kid! The first goth?

You can also see MPC’s Carry Case Castle on the bottom right. I’m not sure what the other box is.

UPDATE (12/21/15): I’m pretty sure the other box is MPC’s Space Control Center, seen below.

Space Control Center 1969

Space Control Center 1969-2

(Top photo via TimeWarp Toys)

Kung Fu Playset (Multiple Toymakers, 1975)

Multiple Kung Fu 1975-1

Multiple Kung Fu 1975-2

Multiple Kung Fu 1975-3

Multiple Kung Fu 1975-4

Multiple is going after Mattel’s Big Jim Kung Fu Studio (1974), seen below via Mrs Hoffy/Flickr. Both packages get an A+ in eye appeal. Who doesn’t love orange, yellow, fuchsia, and red?

Big Jim 1974

Miner Industries: Dragon Crest (1983) and Mysterious Castle (1982) Playsets

Dragon Crest MPC

Dragon Crest MPC-2

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.

Sears Catalog 1982 pg608-3

Sears Catalog 1982 pg608-2

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.

Multiple Toymakers: 2005 and Beyond Space Playset (1976)

2005 and Beyond 1976

2005 and Beyond 1976-2

I have been to 2005 and beyond, and I’m sorry to say that we still don’t have a Command Base on the Moon.

We’ve got an International Space Station, though. And Mars rovers. That’s not so bad.

Beyond Tomorrow Lunar Space Station and the Story of Multiple Toymakers

Beyond Tomorrow Lunar Space Station

Beyond Tomorrow Lunar Space Station-2

Beyond Tomorrow Lunar Space Station-3

Look familiar? Remember the Star Base Command Tower and the Galactic Attack Dome? Well, I’ve been trying to figure out who made all these similar looking space sets in the late ’70s and early ’80s, and the short answer is Multiple Toymakers, which at the time was a division of Miner Industries.

According to a short bio I found in the Standard Catalog of Farm Toys, Multiple Products Corporation (MPC) started out circa 1950, changing its name to Multiple Products, Inc. in 1964. In 1967 MPI became Multiple Toymakers. MPC/Multiple churned out a number of plastic figures, play sets, rack toys, and model kits during this time, including a popular Planet of the Apes and James Bond line.

The XL5 in the Beyond Tomorrow description refers to Multiple’s 1963/1964 Fireball XL5 Space City play set, as Plaid Stallions pointed out here.

Fireball XL5 Set-1

Fireball XL5 Set-2

Multiple creatively recycled many of its toys and sets, and in or around 1970, the company became a division of Miner Industries.

Now, take a look at the Star Base Command Tower again.

Star Base Command Tower

If you’ll recall, I was confused by the ‘Major’ label on the top left of the box. Luckily, I found a press release from a 1979 issue of Toy and Hobby World:

Miner Industries, Inc. and Union Group Co., Inc. of Baltimore have entered into a joint venture to manufacture and market toys and games. The company, named Union Major, lnc., will be a Miner-managed affiliate

That’s all I could get from the snippet view, but it’s clear that `Major’ refers to Union Major. Here’s a package of space men listing both Major and Miner Industries.

Miner Major Space Men

And here’s a flyer from Plaid Stallions showing Union Major as an affiliate of Miner.

Radio Controlled Inflatable Hulk Major Miner

(Image sources: Remembering the ’70s, Plaid Stallions, eBay, John Kenneth Muir, Bonanza)

Miner Industries: Star Base Command Tower (1979)

Via John Kenneth Muir’s Reflections on Cult Movies and Classic Television. Muir says the Tower was released in ’79 by Minor Industries, but I can’t find anything about the company on the Intertubes. The box says ‘Major’ with a little ‘i’ above the ‘M’, so possibly it’s Major Industries—no luck searching for that either.

I’m very curious, because this has to be the same company that released the awesome Galactic Attack Dome in 1980—

The men, the vehicles, and those space pods are exactly the same. Are there more of these kick-ass space sets out there? Where might I ogle them?

Anyone in the know should contact me immediately, lest I die of extreme nerd curiosity.

1980 J.C. Penney Christmas Catalog: Galactic Attack Dome, Buck Rogers Toys, Star Trek Toys, and Star Birds

First things first. On the bottom left of the first page you’ll see a caption, CONSUMER INFORMATION ABOUT ADVENTURE TOYS. The text underneath reads:

The active, imaginative play that adventure toys stimulate provides children with a socially acceptable way of releasing tension. These toys take children into a pretend world and yet help them to express their feelings about the real world and to act out adult roles. It is the child who controls the action with these toys. This helps the child feel less dependent.

Fascinating. How much bloody tension could we have needed to release? It’s like we were all one empty Ding Dong box away from turning into Macaulay Culkin in that movie where he plays crazy evil kid who tries to throw Elijah Wood off a cliff. The line about the pretend world somehow bringing us closer to the real world is bullshit, but it’s sophisticated bullshit. Sure, the pretend worlds of Beethoven and Shakespeare express feelings about the real world, but the Galactic Attack Dome does not, even though it’s bloody fantastic and I’m seriously bitter that I never got a crack at it. The Navarone set is a beauty too, and a Marx classic.

I don’t remember these Buck Rogers Toys, but I watched the trashy series with my dad, who suffered through the silliness for glimpses of Erin Gray in her skin tight spacesuits (yum). The Star Trek stuff looks so antiseptic, doesn’t it? How do you turn such a cerebral show into a line of action toys? I guess that’s why they didn’t last. The Star Birds were spaceships that, like, made noises and stuff. The Retroist talks about them here.

(All images via WishbookWeb. Click to enlarge.)


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