Toy Talk
Volume I

By Mark Patraw
Posted on 8/12/13

These are the five toys that I bought from a local Saint Vincent De Paul Society Thrift Store on Friday (8/9/13) for $1.25 plus sales tax. I hadn't visited them for a couple of months or so, and I was pleased that they had some stuff, in decent condition, that I was interested in. In the front, from left-to-right, we have an Ertl action figure (probably a hunter, given that he's wearing an orange vest and cap), a 2008 Hasbro Star Wars: X-Wing Rogue Squadron Nrin Vakil action figure, a Hasbro 1992 G.I.JOE D.E.F. (Drug Elimination Force) Mutt action figure, and a 1995 Spider-man Doctor Octopus action figure. And, last, but certainly not least, in the back, towering over everyone else, is a 2009 Spin Master Liv Alexis doll. If anyone reading this knows more information about any of these figures, that I haven't already discussed below, and would like to share, feel free to e-mail me and let me know!

Please note that I didn't post the photo of the Liv doll in the buff to be crude, I simply wanted to show all the figures in the condition that I purchased them. Speaking of which, the cashier was a bit surprised that Alexis was nude when I checked out at the register--she assured me that they always fully clothe their dolls when they put them out (the St. Vincent De Paul Society Thrift Shop is a Catholic establishment after all), and that someone must have stripped her down. Personally, unless they're dressed in the exact same clothes as the commercial release (which is an unrealistic expectation for a secondhand doll), I'd actually prefer that they put out all their dolls naked, because that makes it much quicker and easier for me to check for flaws and the manufacturer's copyright information molded on their bodies. Granted, Liv dolls have very distinctive large heads and life-like inset eyes, so I probably would have recognized what she was regardless of whether she was attired or not.

As you can see, Spin Master's Liv dolls are wonderfully articulated (or at least the older ones, like this one, are; Spin Master decreased the number of joints in later releases), especially when compared to a standard Barbie (ALL dolls should be this poseable!) She's got a ball-jointed neck and waist, pin-and-post-jointed shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, and ankles, and double-pin-jointed knees. Speaking of Mattel's famous diva, Alexis raided the wardrobe of "My Scene Goes to Hollywood" Barbie, and her clothing fits Alexis pretty well for the most part (the pants are a bit too long though, and she can't wear Barbie's shoes, because Liv dolls' feet are a different size). Alexis' lifelike, inset hazel eyes are slightly askew, but, otherwise, she's in excellent condition. Aside from the articulation, the main attraction of the Liv line was arguably their interchangeable wigs, an item which is obviously missing on my doll (it was wise for Spin Master to give them a pixie-cut paint job on their "bald" heads, so that they still look presentable, even sans wig). On that note, a broken transparent wig plug was still stuck in the back of her noggin, which I removed with pliers. I've been wanting a Liv doll ever since I first read about them at Emily's Toy Box Philosopher blog, so, finding Alexis lying on top of a heap of other dolls really made my day.

Unfortunately, the Star Wars: X-Wing Rogue Squadron Nrin Vakil figure I bought was missing his right forearm, so I created a replacement Saturday morning. I made the new appendage out of newsprint, white glue, and wire, painted it with acrylics, and sealed it with a thin coat of white glue to give it a subtle plastic-like sheen to match the rest of the figure. While my handiwork might not pass close scrutiny (I didn't quite get the skin tone to match), it's certainly good enough to fool a casual observer. Altogether, he has a ball-jointed neck, pin-and-post joints at the shoulders, elbows, waist, knees, and ankles, and rotating cut joints at the hips and forearms. And, if you're wondering, yes, the cut joint where the new forearm I made attaches is still 100% functional. I had never heard of this character until I looked him up--the only Quarrens I was familiar with by title were Tessek (a.k.a, Squidface) , from Jabba the Hutt's palace, and the Sith Darth Maleval. Sticking alien species in "human" Star Wars outfits never gets old, and this one is particularly visually interesting to me.

I think that this 1995 Spider-man Dr. Octopus figure was a fast food toy (based on his costume, I'm guessing that it was a tie-in with the Spider-man animated television show that was airing at the time), but I may be wrong. The articulation is relatively limited (rotating neck, shoulders, waist, and tentacle bases), and, despite their design, his wormy mechanical appendages don't seem to be bendable, which is a shame, as that's usually the best aspect of a Dr. Octopus figure. I already own this toy, but my old Otto Octavius has all four of his tentacles snapped/chewed off (that's the way I received him; the damage wasn't my doing--I think I got him in a plastic bag full of other figures years ago, but I can't recall for certain), so this intact one will definitely be replacing my old version. I tried to find that damaged Dr. Octopus, so that I could take a comparison photo with this new one, but, he's given me the slip--he probably knows that the trash can is his likeliest destination immediately after that photograph is taken, and the good Doctor, being no fool, has decided to lay low until I change my mind or forget.

This is quite possibly the most boring looking 3-3/4" G.I.JOE figure I have ever owned, but for twenty-five cents, I wasn't going to pass him up. When I first dug him out of the toy bin at the store, based on his basic sculpt and color scheme, I thought for sure that he was one of The Corps! (a G.I.JOE "knockoff" line made by Lanard), but, checking the copyright data on his thigh confirmed that he was indeed made by Hasbro. Because I didn't recognize the character, when I got home, I consulted Mark Bellomo's The Ultimate Guide to G.I.JOE, 2nd Edition to find out who he is. I thought that maybe he was one of the Joe's many vehicle pack-in figures, but it turns out that he's a more modern interpretation of one of the earlier 1984 Joes, Mutt. This figure was part of the 1992 D.E.F. (Drug Elimination Force) subset of figures, which dealt with the Joes combating drug dealers (Headman and his Headhunters), instead of their usual foe, the terrorist organization Cobra. I imagine that this was a well-intentioned attempt by Hasbro to try to do their part to help keep kids off of drugs, but it seems like a forced and unnatural addition to the G.I.JOE line in my opinion. As expected, he has the classic level of G.I.JOE articulation for the time period: Ball-jointed neck and hips, pin-and-post shoulders, rotating cut biceps (swivel arm battle grip!), pin elbows and knees, and an elastic O-ring waist. While I only have the loose figure, a complete sample should come with his dog (Junkyard), a pistol, display stand, and an electronic, light-up net-launching doohickey. The other stuff isn't that great a loss, but Mutt's faithful Rottweiler companion is a critical part of the character's portrayal in the G.I.JOE fiction, so he definitely feels incomplete without him. I don't think I own any toy dogs in his scale, so, Mutt will just have to make do with Cerberus instead (who wouldn't want a giant three-headed beast instead of a boring Rottweiler?):

I'm afraid I can't really tell you much about this fellow. He's manufactured by Ertl, and, based on his attire, appears to be a hunter of some sort (something about him gives me the impression that duck is his game of choice). His legs joints are fairly loose, which can make getting him to stand a little tricky (too many beers while waiting for his prey, perhaps?), but, he's in good shape otherwise. Mr. Hunter's got rotating cut joints at the neck, shoulders, biceps, hips (V-cut), and thighs, and pin joints at the elbows and knees. I'm a bit surprised by the absence of a waist joint, because his orange vest is a separate rubbery piece that wouldn't impede the twisting movement. Due to his generic nature, I almost didn't buy him (I did put back a My Little Pony figurine though), but, I convinced myself that he'd make a nice civilian character for my monsters to maim in photo shoots (a prospect I'm sure he's less than thrilled about).

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