70's

Licensed Australian Ice-Creams

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Licensed Australian Ice-Creams


It all seemed so natural. You went to see the latest summer blockbuster. You became obsessed overnight. You had to buy the toys, the posters and the swap-cards. You cut out articles about the movie from magazines and newspapers and kept them in a folder. You bought the cereal and tried to collect all the little bits and pieces you could find. But something was missing.

It’s a long hot summer and you need to keep cool. You walk past your local milk-bar, they have a colourful sign in the window – “Return of the Jedi – 30c”! The sneaky marketeers have married you needs and desires, you can now eat your favourite movie, you are sold, sold, sold!

One advantage of being the driest vegetated continent on the planet is that you often have an excuse to eat ice cream. Or icy poles, ice blocks or any other type of child’s ice treat. When I was a kid we had an embarrasment of riches on the ice cream front, for whatever movie, TV show or other fad came along there was a licensed ice cream.

The golden age of ice cream was 1975-85. I remember ice creams promoting Kiss, Star Trek, Star Wars, Spiderman, Masters of the Universe and a dozen others. Often the ice creams featured competitions and premiums, like the Star Trek stickers, or Toltoys action figures. Anyway I’m sure you’ve all stopped reading by now and have skipped down to the pics, so I’ll finish up.


(Above) Rear of the Jedi Jelly box showing the Toltoys competition prizes (Amazingly the actual speeder-bike mock-up shown in the photographs was recently found here in Melbourne, that’s a story in itself believe me!)Empire Strikes Back wrapper front (Above), and rear (Below)

A Jedi-Jelly wrapper (Above) , and Star Wars wrapper (Below). These two are the corresponding wrappers for the boxes shown above.


The Toltoys competition details on the rear of the Star Wars wrapper (below).


Finally the best stuff (in my opinion anyway!) the store displays! All are around 40cm x 25cm and made of cardboard. First of all the Jedi Jelly display (below)


(Below) Star Trek and Spiderman displays, both from 1979.

Finally as the golden era came to an end, a Masters of the Universe display from 1985. (Below)

I’m on the trail of more ice-cream items, so stay tuned for future updates!

Will

70's

Mego and Toltoys

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Mego and Toltoys

The US based Mego Corp had a wonderful knack of making successful action figure lines in the 70’s, either by gambling on the popularity of old properties like the Wizard of Oz, or trusting in semi-current ones like Planet of the Apes or Star Trek. Australia received these wonderful toys thanks once again to the good folks at Toltoys, who imported them as soon as they were released, only slowing the delivery slightly to haphazardly apply a Toltoys sticker to each box.

They did spend some time on setting up elaborate dioramas for the dealer catalougue though, check out the scans below kindly provided by Brian Heiler over at the Foreign Mego Archive.

Australia has proved to be a bit of a goldmine for Mego oddities, from the Wonder Woman carded variation to the mysterious Action Jackson ‘BP’ Formula Racer Car, and even rumours of a Marion and other extra Robin Hood characters released nowhere else. (That one seems increasing unlikely as the years go by without any sightings.)

Recently a Mego Zorro popped up on Aussie Ebay too, is it a Palitoy release or was there a Toltoys one? The great thing about collecting in Australia is that you never know what will turn up next. I’ll be talking about GI Joe and Action Man in future posts, I think we were unique in the world in that both lines were marketed here simultaneously, causing huge headaches for today’s collectors when trying to ID parts all mixed in together when you pick up a big lot.

Toltoys either lost the distribution rights at a certain point or just gave up rebranding Mego items with their own stickers, because the majority of Mego items that turn up boxed here don’t have Toltoys stickers. I’ve seen boxed Super Heroes, Fist Fighters, Merry Men, Pirates, Knights and Wizard of Oz with the sticker. Possibly Toltoys lost the Mego distribution rights to Kenbrite (see my Playmobil entry a few posts back) as the Muhammad Ali figures in Australia came in fully branded Kenbrite Boxes. Perhaps each line was independently offered and therefore available to other distributors if Toltoys passed.

I never had my own Megos as a kid, but well remember the pre-loved Spidey and Kirk my brother passed on to me, the incredible articulation allowing them to fall prey to all manner of beatings by the larger scale Adventure Team GI Joes!


Hopefully I’ll be able to feature some more Aussie Mego items in the near future, as things seem to pop up all the time down here!

Cheers!
Will

80's

LEGO Birkenhead Point Keychains

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The Keys to Successful Collecting

Promotional items are amongst the most sought after and valuable pieces in any line of toy collectables. From store displays such as Kenner’s Star Wars to salesman samples and awards such as Mattel’s Hot Wheels we all love having items in our collections that are outside the standard production stuff that was available to everyone.

As you may recall from my last post I’m a bit of a LEGO nut, so imagine my delight to find this promotional keyring in a lot of 80’s LEGO items I bought the other day.

Not only is it a promo item, it’s an Australian exclusive – and you know how I feel about those! I love finding stuff like this, it’s often a challenge to track down info about them. In this case I knew I had the vast resources of the web’s extraordinarily comprehensive LEGO collector’s sites such as Peeron, Lugnet and BrickLink. It was the latter who came to my aid with pics of a few of the little Elephant’s buddies from the long gone Birkenhead Point LEGO Centre in Sydney.

After a bit more digging I discovered that the Sydney LEGO Centre was apparently the only one outside Denmark, and that it closed down in the mid 1990’s. The keyring is probably from 1985, but I don’t know if they were giveaways or could be purchased as souvenirs or the like.
If you grew up in Sydney and remember the centre let me know, I’d love to share some memories of it.

Cheers All!
Will

70's

Kenbrite Pocket People / Playmobil

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Kenbrite Pocket People

As a kid who loved Lego in the 70’s I recall being a little sceptical when my brother bought home a Playmobil set one day. The figure (a fireman) was kind of clunky, his articulation was pretty limited and he was an odd scale – somewhere between my little Lego dudes and the bad boys of Kenner’s Star Wars. On the plus side he did have a maniacal grin on his face, and he was accessorised to the hilt with stuff like ladders, hoses and even a fire hydrant.

A few weeks later he brought home a bigger set, it had a bunch of fireman with red hats, a chief with a shiny gold hat, and best of all one of those handheld trampoline things that fireman hold out (rather optimistically I think!) at multi-story building fires. I was hooked!

My childhood figures went the way of the dinosaurs sometime during the last couple of decades, but when I began accumulating 70’s toys around 15 years ago I was delighted to add the set below to my collection.

I hadn’t thought much of it until I unearthed it again recently and went searching on the web for information on Playmobil. There are a bunch of great sites out there today, notably Collectibil , PlaymoBoard and the Playmo Database. I learnt a lot about Playmobil, but most importantly I found out that Playmobil was distributed in Australia in the 70’s (Probably 1974-78) by Kenbrite, who like Toltoys acted as a local distributer of successful international toybrands.

Through the sole Playmobil collector’s guide available Playmobil Collector I was able to see some great shots of the very first Kenbrite sets and figures, many of which were produced to Kenbrite’s specifications and include unique blister card sets (as opposed to the rest of the world’s boxed sets). What the guide didn’t mention (at least in the first edition) was that the Kenbrite Corporation at some point decided that “Playmobil” as a name just would not do for Aussie kids. Never mind that the first few years of product had used “Playmobil” on all the packaging and probably advertising (email me if you have any!), the brains trust sat up all night and came up with “Pocket People”. It’s not a bad name, but judging by the fact that I was a consumer of their toys in the late 70’s and had never heard of it I would say that it was either quickly abandoned or just spectacularly unsuccessful.

I haven’t been able to find out much about The Kenbrite Corporation, but by comparing the little “Pocket People” sticker on the Fort Union set (1976) box with the uniquely designed earlier sets I would say that sales of Playmobil in Australia didn’t live up to their expectations.

Kenbrite did have other lines to spend their time and money on, namely TYCO Trainsets and Hasbro’s G.I. Joe, but unless someone can dig up some company info for me ๐Ÿ™‚ we may never know the full story of the mysterious “Pocket People”.

Cheers!
Will

60's

Toltoys Mr Potato Head

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Idaho or Tasmania?


The Potato. Or, if you spell like Dan Quayle, Potatoe. Either way you’ve got to admit that it is one hell of a popular vegie. In fact you could say that they are the shrimps of the vegetable world. You can boil them, dice them, fry them, dip them, chip them and crisp them. They are so versatile in fact that it was almost inevitable that one day someone would decide that they would make a great toy. In went some pins (and other small objects) and out came Mr. Potato Head!

The very properly monikered Potato burst on to the seen more than 50 years ago, and according to Potato Heads has been going strong ever since. If you’ve learnt nothing else from me about Toltoys yet (and I suspect that may be the case) it’s that they knew a winner when they saw it. Not long after the Hassenfeld Brothers’ little spud conquered the Land of the Free the very busy Alex Tolmer & Assoc. aka Toltoys had a local version pumping out of South Melbourne to keep all the little spudophiles in Australia as happy as can be. As with many Toltoys licensed items one can only presume that Hasbro sent out some of the original artwork for the box and instructions for our local boys to customise. We added a few roo’s and the little buggers sold like cold beers in the outback!

So when the pig in Toy Story cheers on his buddy Mr. Potato Head with “Way to go, Idaho!” all I could think of was how crap that would sound had the Pixar boys originated down under – “Way to go, Tasmania!”

Will

80's

Toltoys Power of the Force figures

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The Little Aussie Battlers!


It’s a pity when a great toy line goes out with a whimper and not a bang, but more often than not that’s exactly what happens. Kenner’s Star Wars line of 1977-85 was no different. After re-writing toy sale records and re-inventing action figures and film-licensed products the mighty Star Wars line sputtered out over the summer of 1985-86. After a rumoured 250 million figures were sold, the last few releases were dumped in Australia. Why did we get them? Well we’re not called the lucky country for nothing mate ๐Ÿ™‚

Lets go back to Australia in the late seventies and eighties. We didn’t get the latest blockbuster Hollywood movies until months after the US, which of course caused a time lag in the wave of popularity for any given feature film. This was great for Star Wars in ’77, because by the time it opened in Australia (27 October 1977 – five months after the USA) the popularity was a ‘known quantity’. The toy stores were bursting with Star Wars items of all kinds (well not the figures yet, but all the other stuff!) , no empty boxes for Aussie kids! True as it was at the start of the Star Wars craze it was again so at the end. Aussie kids were still six months behind their US counterparts. When little Chuck and Randy grew tired of playing with their tiny space-movie men and moved on to wonderful transforming robots, little Darren and Shane still had a last spot left in their heart for just one (or two) more Star Wars figures.

Which brings me to the image above. Here we have a couple of Niktos on the “Power of The Force” card back. The under-performing sales of the “Power of the Force” line of figures lead to their inevitable demise in the US. But what to do with the left overs? Those last few figures and cardbacks sitting in the warehouse in Taiwan or Hong Kong or China, who will take them? Why Toltoys in Australia of course! Just pop them on a card back and give them a coin (Left over ‘Warok’ the Ewok coins in the case of the Nikto and At-At Driver) and send them down under, we hear they still love that stuff down there! Problem solved. Fast forward 30 years and you have the hardest to find figures in the entire Kenner star wars line. Power of the Force versions of Nikto, AT-AT Driver and Gammorean Guard. Let’s hear it for the tail-enders, the little Aussie battlers!

Will

Have any Aussie toy memories? Post a comment or email me!

Toltoys

Welcome to Toltoys.com!

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Hi All!

Welcome to Toltoys.com – The Australian Toy Connection.

The purpose of this blog is to showcase Australian released versions of the popular (and sometimes unpopular!) toys many of us enjoyed whilst growing up in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.

So what can you expect to see? Well obviously with a blog called Toltoys.com you should expect lots of stories, reminiscing and pictures of the toys distributed by Toltoys in Australia from the 60’s to the 80’s.

Lines will include Kenner’s Star Wars, Six Million Dollar Man, Super Powers and Indiana Jones, Mego Corp’s World’s Greatest Super Heroes, Robin Hood, Wizard of Oz and others, Hasbro’s GI Joe and Mr Potato Head, Palitoy’s Action Man, as well as a few ring-ins from non-Toltoys distributors such as Kenbrite’s Playmobil, Mattel’s Hot Wheels and Battlestar Galactica and probably many more. Sometimes the Aussie stuff will be identical to the foreign items, but often there are those little variations that drive collector’s mad at night!

I’ve been collecting for many years so some stuff will be from own hoard, but I have a few mates similary afflicted with this bug so hopefully they will be kind enough to let me showcase some of their items too. I don’t profess to know it all by a long shot, I expect that we’ll all find out stuff and unearth items along the way.

Of course I reserve the right to wander off on whatever tangent takes my fancy too, so apologies in advance for that.

Anyway that’s about it for an opening, please feel free to post comments, questions, suggestions or just ramblings of your own as we go along.

Cheers!

Will

PS – You can email me at Will(at)toltoys(dot)com

PPS – This site in not authorised, endorsed or associated with Toltoys Pty Ltd (Australia) in any way, “Toltoys.com” is used in the “iconic” sense of the great toy memories of our childhood.