“She Never Fails!”: Havok Super Agent Doll, 1974 – 1975

The ’70s was a decade of action figures. In 1972, the Mego Corporation bought toy manufacturing rights for both Marvel and DC comics, along with several popular TV and movie franchises, and two years later brought forth a cornucopia of “fully posable” figures (8-inch tall dolls, really), including lines such as World’s Greatest Super Heroes, Planet of the Apes, and Star Trek, plus many more in later years…

‘Mad Police’ Model Kits, 1982 – 1983

Mad Max 2 (released as The Road Warrior in the US) was a surprise international hit in 1982. Unlike 1979’s Mad Max, which was dubbed and poorly marketed to American audiences, the sequel became an instant action classic, and its post-apocalyptic punk aesthetic forged a sci-fi subgenre that has been mined (and crassly exploited) ever since…

When Warhammer Was Radical: The Egalitarian Origins of the Fantasy Battle Game

By Zhu Bajiee

Warhammer is held up by the far-right as a shining example of a fictional property that enshrines the authoritarian ideal of “might makes right” and encapsulates an exclusionary worldview that seeks to justify intolerance and violence against the Other while enforcing strict social hierarchy, making mockery of egalitarian values and ideas of social progress. Yet it was not always thus…

Free From the Gravity That Holds the Mind: Playskool’s Star Rider

As part of this year’s holiday “festivities,” my fellow US-based Mutants have mockingly given me a couple of the toy pages from a 1979 American catalog to look at in the hope of stimulating some idiosyncratic British take on the very different world of US toys, and possibly provoking a bit of retrospective seasonal gift envy. I can almost hear them now, chortling away mirthlessly in their La-Z-Boy recliners in their respective dens, or wherever the fuck it is that North Americans go to chortle. But they won’t break me; I’m made of sterner stuff…

Platform of Dreams: A Lonely Kid Covets G.I. Joe’s U.S.S. ‘Flagg’

“Unwrapping” the G.I. Joe U.S.S. Flagg aircraft carrier playset that Kelly put under the (virtual) tree for me this Christmas is a bittersweet reminder of childhood desires scuttled. I think, even at age 10, I knew that I’d never receive this giant (seven and a half foot long!) Nimitz-class aircraft carrier that retailed for $110 in 1985 (that’s over $250 in today’s dollars). But, ahem, I did actually end up getting the Cobra Terrordrome for Christmas ’86, which retailed at about half the cost…

Giving at the Office: Palitoy’s Action Man

So this week we’re each going to talk about a toy from Christmas past that one of the other guys has figuratively “gifted” us. I volunteered Richard to be my secret Santa because I expected a gift so quintessentially representative of the forlorn British ’70s of his youth that I could simply rag on him and his homeland for a few paragraphs…