I have been interested in toys since as far back as I can recall. This
obsession interest started with Star Wars, Masters of the Universe, ThunderCats, and G.I. Joe (Action Force for us Brits), then progressed to TMNT, X-Men and Spider-Man.
Back then, my interest in toys was the same as any kid – I simply wanted to play with as many toys as I could. But over time the desire to play with toys subsided and the desire to collect toys took its place.
For me, collecting toys is a way of linking back to the past – to a more carefree time. It is a way for me to keep all the important childhood memories close by, while highlighting my fandom for a particular film, comic, game or TV show.
Collectors don’t own the rights to Transformers or She-Ra, but by owning a Transformers figure or a She-Ra doll it feels like part-ownership – an investment, if you will. I feel this way about the toys in my collection, as they are an investment in something which holds significance to my life.
Over the years, I have dipped in and out of the toy arena. I have built up significant collections of figures, and I have reduced or sold them too.
In recent times, I have started building up a new collection – a more eclectic (or possibly erratic) mix, that incorporates various toy lines rather than just a few.
I am also now far more interested in buying loose figures, rather than carded, mint figures – something I favoured for far too long. This makes storing my collection far easier, and it makes buying the toys a bit more cost effective too, as loose figures tend to be cheaper than those on cards.
But why am I telling you all this? Because I’m about to delve into my toy box, that’s why.
In this post, I am showcasing ten vintage figures from my own collection. These are my Top Ten favourite toys, some of which are recent(ish) additions, but all hold significance.
I’m starting with this Spider-Man figure from ToyBiz, because there was a particular period of time (during my younger years) where I was obsessed with this particular figure. I was a huge fan of Spider-Man: The Animated Series, and I had a pretty solid collection of the tie-in action figures.
Amongst that collection was various villains and numerous Spidey variant figures. However, this figure here (with web-launching action), was my go-to Spider-Man toy and he took part in many of the battles which played out on my bedroom floor.
Is this the same figure I played with as a kid? Sadly not. It’s the same model, but not the one I had back in 1994.
When I was in my mid twenties (and broke), I sold my Spider-Man: The Animated Series figures to raise some cash, however I did keep the Spidey figure. Unfortunately, at some point between then and now, Spidey got misplaced in a house move and I have no idea what happened to him.
The figure you see in the picture above is a replacement I bought a couple of years ago. While I couldn’t have my original Spidey in my collection, this is the next best thing!
And on a side note, the Spider-Man: The Animated Series line of toys holds a special place in my heart, because it was the last major toy line from my childhood. The toys arrived on shelves in the mid-‘90s, when I was already into my early teen years, so it was the last line I played with before I found alcohol, music and other stuff that teens are into.
Every toy I bought post-Spider-Man: The Animated Series was bought purely as a collector. So, whenever I look at the figures from this line, I get a warm feeling, as I’m whisked back to a time when I didn’t have a care in the world, all that mattered was making sure Spider-Man beat the Kingpin, and toys ruled!
This second figure is not a toy I owned as a child. While I adore Superman now, I was less bothered about him when I was a kid, so I had very few Superman-related toys.
I wish I was more into Superman back then, as I love the look and feel of this figure. I am pretty certain that if I had owned this toy when I was a child, he would have gone on many, many adventures.
So, how did I come across him?
I picked this figure up in 2019, from a local vintage toy retailer. Everything about him just grabbed my attention, including the scuffed insignia on his costume.
As mentioned earlier, the majority of the figures I currently buy are loose. As such, many show signs of wear and tear.
I’m fine with a bit of wear and tear because it means the original owner played with the toy and showed it love. Plus, in the case of this Superman figure, I like to imagine the damage to his costume has come from some epic fight with Lex Luthor, Doomsday, or an overly friendly dog.
Now, you might be looking at this figure thinking ‘hang on, I have/had this exact toy, but he was made by Kenner, not ToyBiz’. And if you are thinking that, then you will be correct.
Two versions of this figure exist: One made by Kenner and one by ToyBiz. At a passing glance they look the same, but on closer inspection there are subtle differences which separate the two.
Mine is from ToyBiz.
Super Shredder (Playmates)
Toy No. 3 and this is a toy I really wanted when I was a kid, but I was never able to find him on toy shelves. He is Super Shredder – the Mutagen-infused version of Shredder from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Secret of the Ooze (1991).
I have gone through various collecting phases with TMNT toys, but the original action figures from the ‘80s & ‘90s remain my favourite. I always wanted Super Shredder because he was so bad-ass – just look at the shoulder action he’s givin’ off here!
Super Shredder joined my collection a few years ago, courtesy of eBay. He was in excellent condition, and was very reasonably priced so he became an instant ‘must buy’.
Doc Hartford (Galoob)
Galaxy Rangers toys are hard to come by. Doc Hartford is a Galaxy Rangers toy. Doc Hartford was hard to come by.
Before I picked him up at a toy fair, I had been looking out for Galaxy Rangers toys for a long time. A real long time.
There are a few Galaxy Rangers toys on eBay, but they go for high prices, and this has always been a stumbling block. However, I came across this one while I was at a toy fair and as he was reasonably priced (but still expensive) he came home with me.
Doc takes a place in my Top Ten because a.) I think he’s awesome, b.) I think the Galaxy Rangers toys and cartoon are awesome and c.) he’s one of the harder to come by/more expensive toys in my stash.
And speaking of hard to come by figures, folks, let me introduce you to Jaga – the big chief of the ThunderCats (sorry, Lion-O). This guy can sell for a pretty penny online and at shows, and can be difficult to come by.
Back when I was a kid, I LOVED ThunderCats, and always wanted Jaga, but not once did I come across this figure on toy shelves. So, one of my main aims as an adult collector was to find a decently priced Jaga and add him to my collection.
He’s a little scuffed in places, and he’s missing his helmet (I’m still on the hunt for that), but he’s a damn fine toy. He joins Doc Hartford as one of the more expensive figures I own.
And now for a little side story…
When I was into ThunderCats back in the 1980s, I was always on the look-out for Jaga. One day, my mum took my to a shop that had a brand new case of figures out the back, and the shop assistant allowed me to open up the box and see if there was a Jaga inside.
There was no Jaga figure in the box, however, the case did include Bengali, Pumyra and Lynx-O, three newly introduced characters to the ThunderCats cartoon/toy line.
I was disappointed the case didn’t contain Jaga, but I took home Bengali instead. He was pretty cool, but I will admit that as I was less familiar with him as a character he barely got played with.
As time moved on, my ThunderCats toys were given away to a charity shop, including my Bengali figure who was in excellent condition AND came complete with his weapon.
Today, Bengali is one of the more sought after figures in the ThunderCats toy line. He carries a big price tag, especially if he is in excellent condition AND comes with his weapon.
I have not been able to find a complete Bengali figure at a reasonable price, so he is sadly not part of my collection. I really should have kept mine.
The moral of this story? Don’t spend your life searching for Jaga, when you’ve got Bengali at home.
Mondo Gecko (Playmates)
Onto another figure I wanted as a kid but could never find on toy shelves was the fan-favourite TMNT toy, Mondo Gecko!
I wanted Mondo because he looked cool, he carried a skateboard, and he was so damn colourful. Plus, I had an issue of the old Turtles comic which featured Mondo Gecko and it was instant love between the two of us.
It took me a while to find him. eBay was ultimately the place I tracked him down, and he has remained one of my all-time favourite purchases ever since.
Oh, and what you can’t quite see from this photo is how incredibly detailed he is. Many of the Playmates TMNT toys have so much detail, it’s insane!
If you want to read/see more about the detail on TMNT toys, I recently published a post highlighting this very subject so check it out.
Mr. Freeze (Custom)
And now onto something a little different.
Unlike every other figure in this post, the Mr. Freeze figure you see above is a custom-made toy, which I have had in my possession since around 2009/2010. This is a figure which was produced for me (at my request), and is based on the Arnold Schwarzenegger version of Mr. Freeze from the film, Batman & Robin (1997).
Back during the late ’00s, I came into contact with an action figure customiser via eBay. He sold a number of his custom figures online, all based on DC Comics’ characters, and I asked him if he would take on some commissions from me.
Over the course of a couple of years he created a selection of custom action figures including an Uma Thurman Poison Ivy, and a Michelle Pfeiffer Catwoman. And of course, one of these figures was the Mr. Freeze figure that you can see above.
Now sadly, when times were a little tougher, I parted ways with all of my custom figures. But I kept Mr. Freeze as I simply couldn’t let him go, and he has remained a part of my collection ever since.
As for who the customiser is/was… I wish I could tell you. I no longer have his details, so I can’t give him a shout-out.
What I can tell you is that his work was superb, and he really went to town on adding details to his figures. What you can’t see in the image above is that this figure is wearing a pair of polar bear slippers, just like Mr. Freeze did in the movie!
The Thing (ToyBiz)
Onto another childhood favourite, and another figure from ToyBiz. Back during the ’90s, ToyBiz cornered the market on super hero toys and I owned plenty of ’em!
This figure is The Thing from the Fantastic Four. He was part of the FF/Marvel Superheroes range of toys from ToyBiz.
I picked him up as a kid because the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed Thing was (and still is) one of my favourite super heroes, and also because he is so damn colourful.
This isn’t the same figure I owned as a kid, once again (just like Spidey) this is the same model but not the same figure. My figure got lost to time many years ago.
Sewer Swimmin’ Donatello (Playmates)
Next up is another TMNT toy, but this one makes the list for a different reason to Super Shredder and Mondo Gecko. The figure you see above is one I kept from my childhood.
As mentioned above, when I was in my mid-twenties I sold many of my childhood toys as a I needed some cash. Everything went (including a couple of items I regret selling), but one of the few figures I kept was this motorised Sewer Swimmin’ Donatello.
Don is my favourite Turtle, which is one of the reasons I kept him, but the other reason is because he brings back a very happy memory.
Back during the early ’90s, it was incredibly difficult to get hold of TMNT toys, if you happened to live in a small town in the UK (which I did). I was forever calling up the local toy shop to ask if they had any of the four Turtles in stock – and I was forever being told no.
Then one day, I called up a branch of Argos in a nearby city and to my surprise they said they had just received a delivery of TMNT toys. The staff member couldn’t reserve them, it was first come first served, but they were there in store!
I begged my mum to drive us 25 minutes out of town to get one and being a good egg, she agreed. When we arrived at the shop I was told that Don, Mikey and Raph were all in stock.
I couldn’t make up my mind which figure I wanted more, and due to the huge amount of hassle it was trying to find TMNT toys my mum (the good egg) agreed to let me have all three!
So, when I sold off all of my childhood TMNT toys, I had to keep one back for sentimental reasons. No matter what the future holds, I will never part with this figure and he has sat by the side of my bed for the past 15 years to remind me of what turned out to be an AWESOME day.
Oh, and on a side note, yes I did used to call up the toy shops in our local area to ask if they had TMNT toys in stock. I would have been around the age of seven or eight years old at the time.
My mum said to me, if I want the toys that much it was up to me to make the enquiries – so, I did.
I must have hounded the hell out of our local toy stores, but it sure taught me a valuable lesson. If you want something – especially awesome, hard-to-find TMNT toys – you have to work at it and don’t give up!
The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man (Kenner)
And finally, this guy needs no introduction – it’s the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man!
I was a big fan of The Real Ghostbusters cartoon when I was younger (I still am) and I had a bunch of toys, including this guy. Once again, my original Stay Puft got lost to time, so when I started collecting loose figures, this was one of my first purchases.
The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man isn’t all that hard to come by, but finding one in a good condition can sometimes be a little tricky. You will often find that he is faded, yellowing, or covered in ink (or some other crud).
This one was picked up at a toy fair a few years back. He was in great condition, and after a little clean up with soap and water, her looked even better!
He now stands in the hallway, keeping an eye on our front door.
And those are the Top Ten figures in my collection. I have plenty of other toys, some of which almost made the top spot, but there’s something I really special about this selection.
As noted throughout, not all of them are in the best condition, but who cares? I ain’t getting any younger, and I’m not in the best condition either!
For me, these figures remind me of the fun times of my childhood, either playing with the toys or dreaming about owning them. I can’t even begin to tell you the countless moments I spent at school, staring into space thinking about toys instead of learning about history or French!
Not that it’s ever done me any harm.
Anyway, until next time, bonjour!
Thanks for stopping by It’s A Stampede! to cast your eye over my Top Ten vintage figures. For more toy-related posts, be sure to check out the recommended reads below.
- The Real Ghostbusters toys up close
- Is my vintage toy from the ’80s worth anything?
- ThunderCats toy sells for over £650 online