Monday, September 26, 2011


A retro mid-century moderne Pepsi Cola wall shelf given as a premium to stores in Thailand, found at the famous Chatuchak weekend market in Bangkok. Classic free-form amoeba shape back panel dates this to the 50s. The tin shelf ledge itself is very narrow, so maybe this was used to hold match boxes, or collect discarded Pepsi crowns. Pepsi collectibles have always played second fiddle to Coke items, but this is a rare piece as localized advertising premiums of international brands like Pepsi are hard to come by in Thailand. When I found it, I sure had a Pepsi Day!

200. I, ROBOT

Tin metal robots from Japan are very desirable in the current collectible market today, boosted by the immense popularity of the 1970s robot wonder, Voltes V, Mazinger Z and Mekanda Robot. But as early as the 50s, tin robots were being made for the world market in large quantities--often with mechanical wound-up parts that made robots walk, glow, shoot weapons and emit sounds. There were Martian Robots, Gear Robots, Big Chiefman Robots, Meteor Tin Man and Robby the Robot with Blaster, made by assorted makers including Yoshio Toys, Osaka Tin Toys and Metal House Toys.

The one I recently got dates from the late 70s, with more plastic parts than tin. I have no idea who this robot is or who manufactured it. But it is typical of those made in Japan with Automatic Action, Stop 'n Go, Swing Open Door and Shooting Gun Action. Battery operated, this robot still works! Rght now, it doubles as a guard robot, ready to shoot imaginary gamma rays to those who dare enter my inner sanctum of a room.


Here's a parade of international chalkware beauties meant to appeal to domesticated moms who loved sewing. These figural pincushions--representing such nationalities as Indian, Chinese, Scot, etc--date from the early 60s; each bust is topped with a flannel-covered cushion where one can stick pins and needles. Cheaply made in Japan, they are nonetheless, brimming with colorful cuteness, especially when lined up on the shelf, don't you think? I just wish they made a Philippine version--a girl with a pot on her head that doubles as a pincushion would have been appropriate!


Hot on the heels of "The 6 Million Dollar Man" came a spin-off TV series--"The Bionic Woman", starring Lindsay Wagners as tennis pro Jamie Sommers who survived a skydiving accident but only after being outfiited with "bionic" implants similar to Steve Austin. As the result of Jaime's bionics, she has amplified hearing in her right ear, a greatly strengthened right arm, and stronger and enhanced legs which enable her to run at up to 60 miles per hour.

The series premiered on ABC in January 1976 and became the fifth most-watched television show of the 1975-1976 season. It ended in 1978, only to be resurrected in 2007--but the revival was short-lived. Aladdin issued this metal lunchbox in 1978 to ride on the show's popularity. It is similar to the one previously made a year earlier except for one panel, which shows Jaime outrunning a dog. This version shows her stopping a runaway car.

This Bionic Woman lunchbox is in pristine condition, never used, and with its own thermos. In this condition, a price guide book pegs its value at $250! That sure costs a bionic arm and leg!

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Back in the psychedelic-age-of-Aquarius 70s, the yellow "Smiley Face" made its appearance in pop art -- mirroring the exuberant, carefree and hallucinogenic happy mood of the decade. "Smiley" made its appearance on every inconceivable material--curtains, wastebasket, stationery, decals and even mugs---such as this one made by McCoy Pottery. It is marked with the McCoy USA name and log on the bottom. McCoy Pottery was established way back in 1910 by Nelson McCoy, manufacturing utilitarian pieces which proved to be popular in the 1930s. The business declined in the 70s and closed permanently in 1990. "Smiley Face" has continued to evolve however, and scores of variants have been generated, known in the cyberworld today as 'emoticons'.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


A generic paper doll from the 1950s that I found buried under tons of magazines in the scroungers' paradise that is Kamuning--"Pretty as a Picture" featured "lovely dolls, glamorous gowns". Printed on thin paper, this paper doll book was typical of the hundred and thousands of cheap playthings for little girls made in the 50s.

Dig these vintage fashions that reflected the styles and tastes of the time. I can't believe this paper doll book survived uncut considering how thin the paper is and how kitschy some of the colors are. But for 15 cents, I guess you can't complain--you still get transported somehow to a make-believe world of glitz and high-fashion glamor--on paper, that is.

195. His Own Paint Book: MICKEY ROONEY

The child wonder of the silver screen of the 30s and 40s was born born Joseph Yule, Jr. in Brooklyn, New York, to a vaudeville family. At 14 months old, he crawled on stage wearing overalls and a little harmonica around his neck. His father, Joe Sr., picked him up and introduced him to the audience as Sonny Yule. He began performing officially at the age of 17 months as part of his parents' routine, wearing a specially tailored tuxedo. At 3, he was cast by Hal Roach to participate in the Our Gang series in Hollywood at $5 a day.

Soon, Joe Jr. was getting bit parts in films, working with established stars such as Joel McCrea, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Jean Harlow. While selling newspapers, he also enrolled at the Hollywood Professional School, where future stars like Nanette Fabray, Judy Garland, Lana Turner went. In 1938, he graduated from Hollywood High School. He got his name "Mickey" from the "Mickey McGuire" short film series in which he was featured in 1925.

He popularized the character "Andy Hardy" with Judy Garland in 1937 and which made him a superstar. He an Honorary Academy Award, a Golden Globe and an Emmy Award. He has had one of the longest careers of any actor, to date spanning almost 90 years actively making films in ten decades 1920's to 2010's. He is the last surviving male star from 1930s Hollywood.

This paint book dates from his juvenile years when Mickey was at the peak of his career. It's a large (10 1/4" x 16") vintage coloring book printed by Merrill Publishing Company, Chicago in 1940, # 3496", with over 30 coloring pages.


A pair of teensy-weensy china head dolls, no more than 3/4 inch high. They date from 1910-20 and are made in Japan, though the best and finest examples are from Germany. Painted china head dolls also came with separate arms and legs which could be assembled by an adept sewer on a cloth body, then dolled up in the latest fashion. These heads are so small, the dolls would probably measure about 5-6 inches when completed. I found them at Makati Cinema Square (whic sadly, is about to go!) and at the moment, I have no plans though of making cloth bodies for them--they're better off kept and seen in my shadow box, where they wll repose most likely for the rest of their doll lives.

193. CASPER The Friendly Ghost Game

When boardgames became hot collectibles, of course, I just had to have one. The first gameboard I got was bought from a local "variety store", which sold used items salvaged from the homes of American servicemen's families. This 1959 Casper The Friendly Ghost Board Game by Milton Bradley was marked #4018, ages 5 to 12. The objective is to be the first player to move his four ghosts around the spooky path and into the haunted house. It looked like it was hardly played--the spinner is intact plus the original instruction printed on box interior. Casper gameboards are available on ebay from 99 cents to 19.99$, depending on their condition. Not as desirable as other TV-based games. I haven't touched this game, but maybe one day I'll use the spinner to contact ghosts and other friendly supernatural beings.

192. RIN TIN TIN Magic Erasable Pictures

The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, aired from October 1954 to May 1959 on ABC Television. The star was German Shepherd dog descended from the original Rin Tin Tin raised by American serviceman Lee Duncan who became popular in earlier 1920s films. The canine's adventures were adapted for TV and "Rinty" shared billing with child actor Lee Aaker as Rusty, a boy orphaned in an Indian raid, and who was being raised by the soldiers at Fort Apache, a US Cavalry. Rusty and Rin Tin Tin helped the soldiers to establish order in the American West. Texas-born actor James Brown (1920–92) appeared in every episode as Lieutenant Ripley "Rip" Masters.

Transogram came out with a boxed kit of Rin Tin Tin Magic Erasable Pictures at the height of the show's popularity. There were actually several boxed activity kits issued in the 50s--including a Paint by Number set and a gameboard. But this picture playset that dates from 1957 is the rarest. The activity kit featured 12 panels that could be colored with crayons and then erased with a tissue and then colored again.

The panels carried illustrations of the major scenes and characters from the TV show. A box of crayons and a sharpener came along with the boxed kit. The best thing about this Rinty's collectible is that it's unused! A similar kit in unsued condition (saved for a split corner in the box) was priced at $175 on ebay. In the field of TV collectibles, Rin Tin Tin is sure one hot dog!